Friday, 30 August 2013


Do you have perfect kids? The ones who are always dressed immaculately, use their forks and spoons correctly, have impeccable manners, obey on the spot and rarely need to be disciplined? Yeah, me neither...

Everyone said life would be tough adding twins to a household where the other two kids are not yet five. Of course, it's not the twins that are problematic; it's the older two! Plenty of interesting things happen to keep this momma on her toes, and to make life exciting. Here are a few "gems" from the past few days:

Lucas is pouring himself some juice into a rather large cup...
Me: Lucas, I think that's enough juice,
Lucas: No mommy, it's not enough, my tummy will be disappointed!


This one happened while I was away, and I'm really glad I didn't have to deal with it firsthand. I was spending the night at my in-laws with the twins, preparing for Elena's birthday party which we hosted at their place the next day. David stayed home with the kids and had to get them up on Sunday morning and ready for church. This is what he found when he walked into our living room...
Yup, a frying pan, filled with uncooked beans, three big boxes of juice (what didn't fit in the pan found it's way onto our carpet) a packet of jello mix and a stir-happy little boy. According to David, when he found them Lucas was mixing away and Elena was dancing around the carpet. Let's just say we're really glad we have a fake leather sofa...


Enjoying a nice breakfast-for-dinner meal last night, Lucas finished his crepes and started licking the syrup off his plate. He then asked for, "more syrup, please". Despite his polite request I insisted he couldn't eat syrup plain, he needed to eat it with another crepe. He acquiesced, plopping another crepe onto his plate. I dribbled a little bit of syrup on top. He proceeded to roll up his crepe, then held it vertically over his plate, and squeezed all the syrup out. Crepe aside, he licked his plate, declared himself done, and offered his syrup-less left-overs to Elena. (Of course, you know she ate it, too)

And after all this was said and done, he had the audacity to ask for dessert! 


Never a dull moment with these two, I tell ya! 

Happy Friday everyone! 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Spontaneous vs. Scheduled

Every birth is different. Unique and filled with a myriad of emotion. No matter how you plan to have your baby. And while every woman generally knows what to expect in labor and delivery, you never really know what to expect. Things can change in a heartbeat and your birth plan goes out the window.

I've been very blessed to have three deliveries that were low risk and without complications. On one end of the spontaneous vs scheduled spectrum I've had one completely natural birth, and on the other end, a scheduled c-section. My middle child, fittingly, was in the middle - a scheduled induction.

I loved not knowing exactly when Lucas would be born, waiting the last few days, anxiously anticipating my first birthing experience. You can read his full birth story here; it was definitely an interesting one!

It is so amazing to me how a woman's body works; throughout the pregnancy growing that small, tiny collection of cells into a whole person, and at the right time creating the perfect conditions for giving birth. It is something so natural, beautiful, painful and messy.

Now, my kids have all loved being in the womb, the first two almost overstayed their welcome - which is why I had an induced birth with Elena. In many ways it was the easiest of my pregnancies and deliveries. We sauntered in to the hospital on the day of her birth, got some drugs and relaxed until the contractions started. Nine hours later Elena arrived and I got to spend the first hour of her life nursing her in the labor and delivery room while I was under observation. It was time I never got with my other kids.

After having two vaginal deliveries, I thought the third one would be easy as pie. Then we found out it was twins! I had high hopes for the first few months that I'd still be able to have a natural delivery, but by about 32 weeks both girls were heads up and I was getting anxious to get them out! Since the birth I've basically been told that doctors here rarely allow a natural twin delivery. It was quite a different feeling to know almost exactly when they would be born (barring complications, of course). Despite a little scare a week before their "due date" they were pretty happy in the womb. I'm not sure how much longer I could have gone though!
36 Weeks and 1 day - in the hospital just about to be prepped for surgery.
So at 36 weeks we checked in to the hospital and got prepped. Honestly I kind of felt like I was cheating by skipping the whole painful labor part. (Of course I knew I would probably make up for it with a painful recovery). It was my first ever surgery. The weird thing is they remove the babies and they get whisked away to be cleaned and checked. Ours went to the ICU for observation seeing as they were technically "preemies". Then you spend about 45 minutes getting sewn up from the surgery and taken to an observation wing to wait for hours as the anesthesia wears off. It is this bizarre time, feeling frozen and "alone", sensing that something is just missing. I spent many minutes wondering about where all four of my kids were, what they were doing, and when I'd be able to see and hold my new babies.

If I were to do it again (which I am not) - I would try again for a natural delivery, probably with an epidural. The recovery just seemed so much harder and prolonged with a c-section. This could also be because it was twins, or because it is the most recent of my birthing experiences. I am, however, so thankful to have had a c-section in a time and place where it is safe, routine and relatively "low risk". If I'd had minimal medical resources, I probably would've died trying to deliver two babies who were in breech and transverse positions!

Beyond all that, of course, is the fact that I have four healthy, thriving kids and I'll be glad to share with them the amazing ways they entered the world.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

2 Months!

How can it be that my little babies are already two months old? Every once in a while I look at them and just can't believe we have twins! It's been a whirlwind few months, as it always is with newborns. They have grown so much and they are finally fitting into their "newborn" clothes.

The day of their birth - May 20, 2013. They don't look very small here, but they were tiny! 

Love this photo of me and my girls - this was the first time Elena held one of her sisters. 

 We were a little concerned with their jaundice, but after a few times in the sun, it was all resolved. As you can see, the girls really look very different. As the weeks have passed, we've seen their appearance change and their own unique personalities coming out. In two months we've learned a lot about our little ones; we can tell their cries apart! Lisa has a croaky, plaintive cry and Leila is our snorter. Lisa is our spitter and loves to bounce in her baby chair. Leila is very laid back and always falls asleep lying flat on her back. Both love to be swaddled tightly and only rarely use their pacifiers.

 They do everything together. It's really the only way to do it with twins. The older kids are on school holidays for the month of July so our routine has been pretty flexible, but when August hits, I'm sure the feeding/napping/bathing/playing schedule will be a little more structured.

 I get lots of help from the older kids. Still very much supervised, but it's fun to see them loving (gently) on their little sisters.

Here are a few stats on my little ones at the two month mark:
Height: Lisa - 54.5cm, Leila - 55.7cm
Weight: Lisa - 4.06kgs, Leila - 3.77kgs
Feeding: We keep a loose 3 hour feeding schedule, always nursing first, and then supplementing with formula. I had hoped to be able to exclusively breastfeed, but with two other kids to look after I just don't have the luxury to feed all day long, or pump after feedings to try to increase my milk supply. Maybe once the older kids start school I'll be able to try that.
Sleep: They usually nap pretty well during the day, 3 or 4 times. Nights have improved vastly from the first month, but they still wake up at least twice for feeding/changing. Although, last night Leila slept from 10-ish until 4am, but Lisa was up at 2:00. So, hopefully they'll both start sleeping for longer stretches. The girls share a crib in our room, but are getting so long already that I don't think we'll be able to have them sharing a bed for much longer. We're getting their own room set up sometime soon.

It has definitely been an interesting and exhausting couple of months as we adjust to life as a family of six. The twins are such an integral part of our family already, I can hardly remember what it was like to have only two kids.

We are so thankful to God for our little girls and love seeing them grow and develop.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Feliz Dia dos Pais

Happy Father's Day!

Nope, I'm not just a few months late; we celebrate Father's Day in Brazil on the second Sunday of August. It's nice though, because I get to see all the inspiration blogs and DIY crafts in May/June and then actually have time to whip something up in time for August. (read: procrastinate until the week day before)

I knew I wanted to do something special for David this year, as it is his first Father's Day with four kids! While he is by no means a lazy dad, having twins means he has had to be even more hands-on with all our kids; from bottle feeding and burping to bedtime routines and bath times, he really is an amazing dad and a great help to me.

So I got to work on a unique gift that would celebrate our newly increased family.

I used four small canvases that I had lying around, and after painting them, I waited for the perfect moments to catch one little hand print from each of our four kids. Folks, it was not easy! First of all Lucas' hand was almost too big to fit on the canvas. His we did in one take though. Elena smeared her first hand print and then decided to paint on some of the other canvases, so I did a repaint of two of them and we tried again.

Lisa and Leila's hand prints were taken while they were sleeping, oh so carefully so as not to disturb them. But it was still hard to keep their hands open. Maybe I should have done their feet?

 I then arranged the four canvases in a square and used my hot glue gun and some strong tape to hold them together with some twigs. I figured it was a nice "manly" look. :) I also added some labels on the back so we can remember whose hand is whose (mainly for the twins.)

 Getting it all wrapped up and ready to give.

Lucas was so excited to give this gift to his daddy, and did so well keeping it a secret when I had showed him the gift almost a week in advance. (Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I finished it on the Saturday before Father's Day and got all three girls' handprints that day!)

As soon as I told David to sit up and look proper before he opened his gift, he guessed it would be something I had made and had to blog about. It will find a nice place in his office, and I'm glad we have this reminder of just how small our kids hands are right now. It's definitely not pinterest perfect, but it works.

Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Crockpot Cookin'

A slow cooker is a busy mom's best friend. The way some people talk about their crock pot, you'd think it sets the table, cleans up after dinner and keeps the kids from fighting.

Dinner's on! Right in between the coffee and the baby formula. 
I am pretty new to the world of slow cooking, as I recently received my crock pot for my birthday last month. With four kids, including two infants who love to cry around dinner time, I knew a crock pot would be a valuable addition to my kitchen. It's easy right? Throw everything into the crock pot and turn it on. I quickly learned three things about using a crock pot:

1. You have to actually plan dinner 6-10 hours ahead of time.
2. If you have managed to plan dinner, you also need the ingredients. (Don't judge, even with ten hours to go before dinner it's hard to get out of the house and to the store with four kids in tow)
3. If you have managed to plan dinner, and have all the ingredients on hand, you have to remember to prep the meal 4-8 hours ahead of time!

If you can do all this, you're set to go.

So far I've managed quite a few recipes, and it is really nice to have the afternoon freed up for playing with the kids, and only needing about 10 minutes to put dinner together. The one thing that make slow cooking a little more challenging here is that so many of the recipes I find call for things that are either not available here or cost prohibitive. An unfortunate example - cans of condensed soup. Cream of chicken, mushroom and cheese are the most prominent, featuring in about 75% of the recipes I see. But I can't justify spending $5 on a can of soup (if I can even find the flavor I'm looking for). So I make my own substitute (a basic white sauce with seasonings). Other canned goodies are just not available at all - enchilada sauce, I'm looking at you! What I'm saying is, the convenience of a crock pot recipe is sometimes compromised by having to make the canned ingredients from scratch. Not that it can't be done - I do have a pretty good enchilada sauce recipe, it just takes a lot more time, pans and blenders before I can throw in the "can" of enchilada sauce to make the perfect dish.

Some of the recipes I've tried have turned out perfectly, others, not so much. Last week I tried this Chicken and Dumpling Casserole recipe. I didn't have self-rising flour so I added baking powder, but the dough layer was much too runny and we ended up with a very nice tasting chicken stew, sans dumplings. Next time I'll try making my own biscuit mix and putting it on the top for the last 30 minutes.

This Taco Soup recipe has been the easiest and simplest one, even though you have to brown the ground beef before putting it in the crock pot. We love eating this one with cheese on top and tortilla chips on the side.

Another favorite is this Italian Chicken. While we don't have ready access to the Italian dressing packets, I have a few that were brought from Canada on my parent's last trip. I really love that you can put your chicken in uncooked - no other pans needed! I served this on rice with a side of broccoli.

I'm really enjoying my slow cooker - even though I usually have to adapt a lot of the recipes. It will be getting a lot of use at our house.

What are your favorite slow cooker recipes? 
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