Monday, April 30, 2012

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

PB Chocolate Chip Cookies
I normally don't like peanut butter in my desserts. Something about peanut butter makes a dessert too sweet for my taste. I think I may be turning a new leaf though because I made these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and I loved them. I couldn't keep my hands off these chewy cookies. You can't miss the peanut butter flavor in these cookies but it all blends together so well.
PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: The Pasty Affair
 Yields about 30 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used mini-sized)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and peanut butter. Beat until smooth. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

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This Week in Mommyhood

It's been a big week in our house! It's so big it defines this week for us. On Monday, April 23, 2012 I placed Elina in her crib to nap. I wanted to see if she could sleep in her room without any fuss. Morning nap went well and she had no problem going to sleep. The next test was the afternoon nap when Cati would be napping as well. To be honest with you, I was afraid Cati would get territorial about the room and not like that Elina was sleeping in there as well so the afternoon nap really worried me. I shouldn't have worried because both girls napped, Elina even slept through Cati's before-nap-tantrum and Elina stayed sleeping after Cati woke up.

I told myself I was going to ease Elina into her crib by starting her off with just naps but then I felt invigorated by the idea of having my bedroom back and I decided to see how Elina would handle sleeping in her crib for the night. I was feeling brave and, luckily, it paid off because Elina slept just as well in her crib as she did in her bassinet. She has been sleeping in her room ever since and it's been so fun to see how Cati adjusts to her presence. One morning Elina woke up and made her cat-like stretching noise and Cati said, "Elina no llore" and started singing her a Spanish lullaby. What's even more amazing to me is how in tuned these two are to each other. In the mornings and at bedtime I can count on them waking up and going to sleep within minutes of one another. It's as if they can sense each other. Here are my thoughts on the transition:

Putting Self to Sleep. With Cati I learned the importance of learning how to put yourself to sleep and self-soothe. Because I didn't want to have the struggles I did with Cati, I was more aware of how Elina was put to sleep. Instead of putting her down asleep like I did with Cati, I put Elina down to sleep when she's awake but ready for a nap. I've done this since we first got home and it's really come in handy. Last night, for instance, I laid Elina down for the evening and she fell asleep but then woke up again about 20 minutes later. She looked around, stayed calm, and eventually put herself to sleep again.

Ok with Crying. Crying sucks. There's no way around it and sometimes you have to deal with it. This goes hand-in-hand with learning how to self-soothe and sometimes tears are necessary. I'm not talking about letting the child cry for 10 minutes. I mean giving the child a couple of minutes to soothe themselves before going in to pick them up. Sometimes Elina goes down with a fight and when she does, I give her 3 minutes and 98% of the time after those 3 minutes are up she's either asleep or she spends another few minutes being quietly awake before dozing off.

Similar Schedules. What really pushed me to move Elina was that she and Cati were on similar sleeping schedules. Cati's afternoon nap and bedtime were pushed back 30 minutes because it was easier to have Cati keep up with Elina than the other way around. Also, I would start the bedtime stuff with Cati at 7pm and Elina would wake up from her mini nap at 7pm so I would be rushing to get Cati to sleep while Elina hung (or cried) out in her bassinet. Then I would do the "second shift" of bedtime with Elina while Cati hung out, awake, in her crib until 8pm. Now Cati gets her bath while Elina naps and by the time Elina wakes up it's time for book reading and Cati reads Elina books while Elina drinks her bottle. After the bottle, we all sit on the floor together, read more books, lights out, then Elina is laid down while I sit with Cati in the rocking chair.

Overnight Wakings. Elina is only waking once overnight. Talk about a huge difference from Cati who, at this point, was waking every 1-3 hours. This was another reason why I was ok with doing the transition now. With Elina waking only once hopefully Cati will get used to the noises (she wakes up with me entering the room and not with Elina's cries) so that if Elina starts waking more often Cati won't be too affected.

And now, cute pictures of the girls in their cribs throughout the week...
I barely survived today because we are in the throws of terrible twos and the tantrums are out of control so I'm hoping to get through the week with a little more patience and grace. Mommyhood isn't rainbows and roses all the time and today was a reminder of that.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

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Vanilla Madeleines

Vanilla Madeleines
My second favorite cookie is the delectable Madeleine. I don't make them as often as I should and that's probably a good thing because I can easily eat a dozen of these cookies in an hour. I love them in all their incarnations, from gingerbread to white chocolate. I made these Vanilla Madeleines as Cati's introduction to this cookie and she loved them. She did, however, keep pointing out to me that these were not in fact cookies, but cake. These are cookie cakes, that's true, and very fine ones indeed. These madeleines had a very wholesome taste and tasted a lot like this Sour Cream Bundt Cake I made a few weeks ago. What I liked the most about this recipe was how easy it came together and how there was no need for refrigerating.

Vanilla Madeleines
Source: Baking Bites
Yields: 24 cookies

2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease and flour your madeleine pans (unless you are using nonstick, in which case light greasing is all that is necessary).

In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until smooth and thick, 1-2 minutes. Add in vanilla and salt. Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix until it is just combined, and no streaks of flour remain visible.

Slowly add in the melted butter, streaming it in while you stir constantly (or mix at a low speed) and it is well combined.

Place a generous 1 tbsp batter into each cavity of your prepared pan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges.

Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes before removing from the pan. The pan should be cooled, regreased and floured before filling it with more batter (it is ok if the batter must be used in batches) for another batch.

Friday, April 27, 2012

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Basil Pesto
Sometimes I am amazed by the thoughtfulness that surrounds me. My dad has been working on his backyard and one of his projects was getting an herb garden started. He sent me pictures and I told him I loved his garden and wanted one of my own. So my dad sent me the beginnings of an herb garden. This took planning on his part because he lives in Texas and he had to coordinate with my sister. When my sister showed up on my doorstop with the itty bitty herbs I was floored. I was so happy and excited. I am now the proud owner of sweet basil, Thai basil, and Greek oregano. The first recipe I tried was this Basil Pesto and I used a combination of both types of basil. It was finger-licking good and so easy to make. I will never buy pesto from the store again. I also can't wait to buy more herbs and plants.
Herb Garden

Basil Pesto
Source: Simply Recipes
Yields: 1 cup

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I only had pecans so that's what I used)
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

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Easy Crepes

Banana & Nutella Crepes
Alex found this recipe for crepes and made them for me one morning. They were the easiest thing to put together. Not so easy to cook when you're also watching a two-year old so our crepes came out a little thicker than traditional crepes. No matter though because once filled with goodies like Nutella, banana, and whipped cream, the crepe tasted just right. This was one of the best breakfasts I'd had in a while and even better because I didn't have to make it!

Easy Crepes
Source: Meliss on
Yields 12 crepes

3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the eggs, milk, water, melted butter, flour, and salt in the pitcher of a blender; blend until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 2 tablespoons for each crepe. Tip and rotate pan to spread batter as thinly as possible. Flip over when the batter is set and the edges are beginning to brown. Cook until the other side begins to brown. Stack finished crepes on a plate, cover with a damp towel and set aside.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

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This Week in Mommyhood

The big event this week was Elina turning two months old. I can't believe it's already been two months. I'll be planning a first birthday party in no time! I'm not only amazed by how quickly time has passed, but also with how much Elina has changed in such a short amount of time. So many times this week I would look at her tiny, baby body and try to soak it in because she's going to have a big girl body like Cati sooner than I care to admit. Aside from wishing for more sleep, things could not be better.

Here are this week's fun developments:

Elina Gabriela. As if I didn't love Elina's name enough, I love it even more now because Cati has taken to calling her by both her first and middle name. When Cati isn't calling her "hermanita," she calls her Elina Gabriela.
Kids Say the Darndest Things. My boobs are huge. I will just come out and say it. They were big before pregnancy, bigger during pregnancy, and huge after pregnancy with the breastfeeding. Cati found one of my bras and seeing how big the cup was thought it was a hat, said so, and then proceeded to wear the bra on her head.

Little Reader. Cati's interest in books has reached a whole new level. Everyday before nap and bedtime we read books. Usually it's me reading her books, but lately she's gotten into wanting to read me the books. Her favorite book to read is a nursery rhyme one and I love to hear recite the rhymes.

Happy Baby. Elina really likes to smile. The girl smiles all the time and I was told a couple of times this week that I had a happy baby. I had rough starts with my kids but they both have ended up as such happy children. I must be doing something right.

. Elina got her ears pierced at her two month appointment. Her ears were pierced at the same time Cati's were and, just like with Cati, I'm amazed at how something like earrings changes the way the baby looks so much. I spent the entire day staring at Elina amazed at how much older and girlier she looked because of the earrings.

Sleep Saga. After blissfully sleeping through the night last week, Elina has been waking up once at night. If you have kids you know how huge this is. I am stunned that Elina is sleeping this well at this point because Cati was still waking up every 2-3 hours at this point. This past week nights have looked like this: sleep from 8:30pm-3:30am, wake up to eat, and then sleep until 7:30am or so.

Here's to another week of surviving motherhood and of being thankful for the blessing of two equally beautiful, but dramatically different children. Being a mother to these girls gets better and better each day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

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The Must List: First Two Months

Someone very near and dear to me is expecting a baby this fall and I've been trying to pool all my mommy wisdom for her. Not that I have much because I'm still learning as I go but I figured the least I could do is give her a guide to things she must have when the baby arrives. I thought I'd share it with you and also write it down so I can remember how I survived the first two months with a new baby. Aside from clothes and diapers, here's my Must List:

Swaddlers. I remember with Cati trying to swaddle her with blankets and having her constantly break free. The minute a hand escaped the crying started. Then I remembered we had these swaddlers and my whole world changed. Not only were they easier to use than trying to figure out a blanket, but they also held Cati in. As soon as Elina was brought home these babies were put to use.

Bassinet. For the first five months of Cati's life she slept in a bassinet in our room. Elina has inherited the bassinet. With Cati the bassinet was important because I didn't want to put her in her room until she was older and with Elina the bassinet is important because I didn't want her in the same room as Cati while she was waking every 3 hours at night to feed. The one we have was actually Alex's but you can find a bassinet for every budget at places like Target and Buy Buy Baby.
Breast Pump. This is a necessity for me since I exclusively pump, but a good pump should be on any mother's must-get list. It's good for increasing milk supply, reducing engorgement or discomfort, and building a freezer stash. My recommendation is to get a pump that can simultaneously pump both breasts at the same time (I use the Medela Pump In Style). My second recommendation is to call your insurance to see if they cover the cost of the pump.

Baby K'tan. With two kids this sling has been a savior. I put Elina in the sling and still have two hands free to play with Cati. It's also a million times easier to stick Elina in the sling instead of lugging her car seat around. Added perks are that I move around a lot quicker with her in the sling and I get mini workouts when I use it (have you tried walking up stairs with a baby in a sling?).

Elle Macpherson Maternity Bra. With Cati I bought a few maternity bras and none of them fit right. They either made me boobs look bigger than they were or they made me look wider than I was. They also weren't the most comfortable bras. I found out about this bra from another blogger and I bought one bra to try it out. The bra is the most comfortable bra, it's pretty, and they actually make me feel attractive. Needless to say, I bought more. The price can be a little steep but with the comfort you get from the bra, it's well worth the price.
Graco Pack 'n Play. I know of people who use this instead of a bassinet, but if you have a two story house like I do or if you like to have a place for the baby to nap in another part of the house without moving around furniture from the bedrooms, the Pack 'n Play is the way to go. An added perk is that you can travel with it and it comes with a carrying bag.
Basket. Both girls have baskets with diapers, wipes, and cream. It's easier for me to move a basket around from room to room instead of having to come upstairs to the bedroom to change diapers. The baskets I have are baskets you can pick up from Michael's. (Note: I have never used our changing pad)
A Good Book or Movies. The first few weeks at home with a new baby are brutal. Even if you get an "easy" baby, you still need to adjust to the sleep deprivation. With Cati I would get through night feedings by watching old episodes of The Cosby Show. Watching the shows helped keep me calm when she was crying and, in a way, it made me feel less alone. With Elina, I did the same but I also read books. Read a book, watch a movie, watch a show, whatever you can to keep your mind clear and calm while up in middle of the night during feedings. For a book I recommend The Hunger Games trilogy and for a show I recommend Psych (this show made me laugh when I was in my darkest moments...that's how I knew I would be ok).

That's all I have for now. What's on your must list?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

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Red Velvet Cookies

red velvet cookies
My friend makes the most amazing red velvet cookies. They are so good that I find myself constantly craving them. I had a craving recently and tried to find a recipe that would live up to the standard set by my friend. I came across this recipe and, while it was really, really good, it wasn't the same. The consistency of her cookies are different. But don't take that as me saying you shouldn't make these because you absolutely must. These cookies are fudgy and chewy and didn't even last 24 hours in our house.

Red Velvet Cookies
Source: Recipe Girl
Yields 24 cookies

1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding mix (dry)
4 to 5 large egg whites (start with 4... see *tips below)
1/2 cup sour cream
Cream cheese frosting, see below

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 4 egg whites and sour cream, then use a wooden spoon to mix it into the dry mixture. The mixture will be very thick. Add an additional egg white if it's impossible to stir. A thick batter is what you're looking for though.

Use a small cookie scoop or a spoon to drop a tablespoon of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake 12 to 13 minutes, until the cookies are set. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Use a hand mixer to combine the cream cheese with 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar. Spread the frosting on the cookies.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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Not So New Additions

In addition to welcoming Elina into our family two months ago, we also welcomed two new pups: Gracie and Rosie. The girls are schnauzer poodle mixes and we adopted them at the end of January. I couldn't stand not having a dog in the house after Perla passed and instead of waiting to get a new dog until after Elina was born like Alex wanted, I went ahead and adopted two dogs a few weeks before Elina made her appearance. My husband truly loves me because he didn't even flinch when I showed up with two dogs a mere 24 hours after telling him about them. Things have been extra busy with them around but we have all adjusted well. Both girls, Gracie (4 years old) and Rosie (2 years old), are saints when it comes to Cati for all that they put up with. These dogs put up with being tugged, pulled, and ridden.
Gracie on the left and Rosie on the right
Gracie and Rosie are like sisters and they do everything together. I love seeing them sleep together because they cuddle with one another. Alex is officially outnumbered with all the females in our house.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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Elina: Two Months

Dear Elina,

Happy two months baby girl. I can't believe you are already two months old. To say that time is zooming by is an understatement. The past two months have been such a blur; they've been long months but at the same time they have gone by quickly. This past month is when you started to look more like a baby and less like a newborn. It's remarkable how much like your sister you look and it's even more remarkable how different your temperament is from your sister's. There have been moments where I am struck by a sense of deja vu because of how much you remind me of your sister. The physical-ness of certain things transport me back two years, but you, dear sweet, calm Elina, bring me back to the current moment.

This past month I have thought aloud the following, "if you would have been my first child I would have still wanted three kids." You are such an easy baby and only cry when you are hungry. You are my VBAC baby and I started enjoying you at around four weeks. This is so different from Cati who was a c-section and cried so much I found myself crying with her. Cati's introduction to the world coincided with the disintegrating relationship with my own mother. With Cati it took me a solid three months to feel like I could actually be a good mother, six months to feel like I could like being a mother, and nine months to feel like I could love being a mother. Granted, I have experience on my side and two years of confidence-building child-rearing (Cati's growing and thriving!), but things with you have been so much easier. I feel as if I gracefully danced my way into being a mother-of-two instead of being thrown, head first, into it. You are a dream and before you I thought I was incapable of liking being a mother to a baby as small as you. This is the trauma of being a mother to a newborn Cati and the fear of a repeat.

The truth is I'm a different mother to you. Part of it is experience and part of it goes back to you being a different person. I keep thinking about all the things I am doing differently with you. I remember with Cati the bottle was a clutch for getting her to sleep and she would only fall asleep drinking her milk. With you, sleep and eating are two separate things. You drink your milk, stay quietly alert, and then fall asleep all by yourself after I swaddle and lay you down. I am also way more private when it comes to you and what information about you I share with others.

This past month has seen you settling into a schedule and toying around with your sleep. You're usually up at 7:30am and you eat around 8:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 5:30pm, and 7:30pm. You're in bed by 8:30pm and you go from sleeping through the night to waking up twice to eat. During the day you take short naps in the mornings with one long nap in the afternoons. You're up by 5:15pm at which point you get a bath before your bottle. You play with your sister (aka sit in Bumbo seat while Cati talks to and gives you kisses) before you take a short nap. This nap is just long enough for me to bathe Cati, read her some books, and rock her to sleep. After this nap you wake up for your final meal of the day and then you go to sleep almost without any fussing.

You've started talking this month and I'm curious to find out if you'll be as big of a talker as your sister. The best part about this month is that you started smiling. The best, bestest part of this month was seeing you smile at your sister when she was trying to play with you. I wanted to lock that moment away in my heart. To see how much Cati already adores you and the beginnings of your adoration for her...this is what motherhood is all about. The moments of frustration are worth it when I get to see my children falling in love with one another.

My newborn turned into a baby this month. I find myself living at two extremes: wanting to get drunk in all your babyness and live in this very moment forever and wanting time to speed up so I can hear the sounds of your voice forming words, giggles escaping your mouth, and feet running across our floors. I want to see you interacting with your sister, with us. I want to hear "mama" come from your lips and feel the pucker of kisses. But, I also want to keep you like this so I don't forget how perfectly your small body fits in my arms or that sweet smell only little bitty babies have.

Today you are two months old. You are 22 inches and 11 pounds, 7 ounces of baby to love. In the blink of an eye you were born and have been with us for two months. The longer you are with us the harder it becomes to remember what life was like before you. You've taken our breaths away and nestled yourself into our lives. You were the second, "easy" child because that's what you were meant to be. Your sister came first because she needed more. You two have needed me in such different ways and, in a way, I have needed each of you in different ways too. For as special as Cati is because she was first, you are equally special because you are second. Your sister started our family but you are what completes us.

Everyday I feel overwhelmed with love. I feel giddy and light-headed. I feel fulfilled and blessed. It's all because of you. Your presence has opened my eyes to the beauty of our family and the endless possibilities for unconditional love. I get to share you with an amazing man and a doting big sister. Life as a family of four can only get better. So thank you Elina. Thank you for being your own individual and unique self and for being the type of baby that makes bonding with easy.

Love always,

Monday, April 16, 2012

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This Week in Mommyhood

Another week has gone by and I honestly feel like I'm stuck in a time warp. While everyday feels the same because of Elina and her schedule, everyday also feels different because of Cati and how rapidly her mind is developing. Most of the time I don't know what day it is and, far too often, the day is ending just as I find my groove. All I ever know for sure is that I love my girls immensely and I'm thankful for every second I get to spend with them.

Here are the fun developments from this week

Language, Language, and More Language. I find myself laughing constantly with Cati and the things she says. Lately she's gotten into saying "umm" when she can't think of the answer to a question soon enough and "mmm-hmm" when she means to answer "yes" to a question. She's also been adding -ita to words so leche has become lechita and agua has become aguita. The most interesting one is the increased use of the word "necessita" ("need"). Things aren't a matter of want anymore, everything is need. My favorite has been "Cati necessita cupcake."  
Playtime. We've been going to the playground by the house everyday after school. Partly to get out of the house with both girls, but mostly so Cati can expend all the energy necessary to ensure an afternoon nap. One day this past week there were these two little girls playing next to me, they were each grabbing onto a pole and spinning around the pole as they sang a song. Cati saw this and joined them. She saw an opening and started spinning around the pole with the girls. This simultaneously warmed and broke my heart. I love that Cati is becoming more social and putting herself out there, but it scares me to think that while there will be moments of acceptance, there will also be instances of rejection. Not everyone will want to play with her and one day she will know how rejection feels. I wish I could protect her or be there every time rejection happens.

Name Game.
  I used to always hate when my mom called me my sister's name. I never understood why she did it when we were different people. Having two kids, I get it. I am constantly calling Elina Cati. I'm just used to saying Cati's name all the time so it's taking some time to get used to saying another name all the time as well. I made an improvement and called Cati Elina. I stopped myself and giggled. Let the years of name confusion begin.

Cheeks. Elina's cheeks have been in development for weeks, but this week I really noticed their chunkiness. I don't think I have ever seen a child with chunkier cheeks. I love it!
Sleep Tease. I thought I hit the jackpot. Elina slept through the night last week. I didn't because I was constantly waking up to check on her, but she slept from 8:15pm to 7:00am. I was floored. She can do it! Now, if only she would do it every night. Then, I'd only be getting up multiple times a night to take out our dogs (more on that later!) who have forgotten they were potty trained.

Slinging It. My friend lent me her Baby K'tan sling and I adore it. If I would have had this sling with Cati, I would have worn her more. Elina gets put in the sling multiple times during the day and I prefer wearing her over carrying her around in the car seat. For the most part Elina loves the sling and she gets really, really cozy in it. The other day she moved herself around so much to get comfortable to sleep that her feet were sticking out of the sling. What I find really entertaining are the looks I get from people when I wear the sling. I had a woman ask me if a baby was in the sling and then she proceeded to touch the sling and move the fabric so as to see if there really was a baby. I am a human kangaroo.
Elina has her two-month appointment tomorrow. I'm curious to see how much she's grown and how her growth compares to Cati's. Have I told you yet how much I love my girls because I really do. Here's to getting lost in another week. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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Lessons for my Daughters

There is so much I want to pass on to my daughters; so much that I want to do to prepare them for life. The bottom line is that life is hard, even when things go the way you want. A month before Elina was born I wrote about some lessons I wanted to pass on to them and now, almost two months into having two girls, I have a few more lessons for them. As our relationships with one another change and grow I hope to be able to pass these lessons along through discussion. I am so looking forward to being able to talk to both of my girls like adults, to really explore their brains, how they see the world and how they see themselves in that world. Almost all of these "lessons" were inspired by discussions with my own sister as she embarks on her own remarkable journey. Maybe, if I do a good enough job, my daughters will learn from each other like I have learned from my sister.
Be confident and sure of your decisions. It is so easy to let others affect how you think and what you do, but that only happens if you are unsure of the decisions you are making. Before getting others involved, try your hardest to make decisions on your own. Think of all the pros and cons. Solidify your position and, once you do, the opinions of others won't affect you as much. Knowing how you feel and the reasons why you feel that way, is very empowering. Trust yourself. 

Perspective. My mantra as of late has been "If you can't change your situation, change your perspective." Truer words have never been said. If you feel like your life is on replay, try changing the way you view things. Look for the hidden positives, the subtle differences. No two situations are ever the same, remember that.

White Knight. This is the greatest thing I heard: "Sometimes you have to be your own white knight" (on the show Burn Notice of all places). As women, we are bombarded with the notions of prince charmings and men coming to our rescue. I hope to raise daughters that are smart enough to know that they are more than damsels in distress and that they are strong enough to take care of and save themselves. Life has fairy tale moments, but it is no fairy tale and sometimes you do have to be your own white knight.

My girls are shy of 26 months and two months. There is so much I have learned and so much I have yet to learn. One day, sooner than I think, it will be my girls teaching me lessons about life. I look forward to it with all my heart.

Monday, April 9, 2012

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This Week in Mommyhood

Nothing too exciting happened with Elina this past week, but Cati has been the source of constant laughs and moments of awe. You really don't appreciate language until you are faced with a person learning how to talk. Cati is not only repeating everything we say, but she is also like a narrator. Everything we do is followed by a question from her so if I'm cleaning, Cati will ask "mami sta limpiando, cierto?" It's cute but I feel like I'm living in a movie or something.

Here are the other fun developments this week:

Budding Imagination.
Cati's imagination is reaching new heights. This week she was all about putting diapers on her stuffed animals because they peed or pooped too much.

Miss Independent
. So much of what we hear around here is "sola" ("alone") because Cati is at a stage where she wants to do everything by herself. She likes to walk down the stairs by herself and dress herself.

Hair Sharing. At some point this week I told Cati I wish I had her hair. Cati, with her awesome imagination, pretended to pull out a piece of hair and then handed it to me. She then gave Elina and her bunny hair too.

Oh My God! By far my favorite story this week is when Cati learned how to say "oh my God." It was during bathtime when her dirty feet left a trail in the tub. One day I said "oh my God" in an exaggerated tone and the next day she did. I love her little voice and how it sounds like "oh my gahh."

Like a Hispanic Woman. One of my biggest annoyances with having a baby is how all the Hispanic women in Miami assume the baby is crying because she's hungry. Cati became that woman when Elina was crying and she said, "Elina sta llorando. Necesita comida." How she made that connection is beyond me but it's impressive nonetheless.

Drooling. Elina started drooling this week. Now when she's awake there's always bubbly saliva oozing out of her mouth. Let the tooth watch begin!

Sleeping Saga. At 7 weeks Elina is already a better sleeper than Cati. She had been giving me a 5-hour stretch at night but on Saturday, Elina slept from 8pm-4am and then from 4:15am or so until 7:30am. Waking up once a night to eat is a blessing but sleeping that long of a stretch is a miracle. I hope this continues!

We did our Easter festivities on Saturday because Alex worked on Sunday. My mother-in-law told Cati about the Easter Bunny and eggs so Cati was looking forward to the egg hunt. The joy on Cati's face when she saw all the eggs was priceless. The girl was smiling, squealing, and dancing around in circles.
Cati is 2 years, 7 weeks old and Elina is 7 weeks old. I cannot wait to see how these girls interact with one another the older Elina gets.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

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Birthday Nutella Cupcakes

My birthday was on Thursday and to celebrate I made cupcakes. I wanted to try a new chocolaty recipe and went with this Nutella Cupcake recipe I had marked off a while back. I had high hopes for the recipe because I love Nutella. The cupcakes were good, but they weren't anything out of this world. The Nutella flavoring was there in the cupcakes and I also spread Nutella on the cupcakes for extra goodness, but I think I overbaked the cupcakes or something because the cupcakes were dense and more brownie-like than cupcake-like. Maybe next time I won't be lazy and I'll make the Nutella filling and buttercream like the original recipe did.

Nutella Cupcakes
Source: Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
Yields: ~2 dozen cupcakes

2 cups flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup nutella
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcakes liners.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is pale and thick. Add in the butter and beat until combined. Then, add in the nutella. Add the flour mixture and milk half at a time until well-blended.

Divide batter into the cupcake liners, filling 2/3 full. Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

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Chocolate Waffles

Chocolate Waffles
I made these waffles after Alex sent me the recipe with the implied message of "please make this for me." I made them and they were so good. Because of the chocolate chips I actually preferred the waffles without syrup, but you honestly can't go wrong with any topping. What I liked the most about this recipe is that there was no separating of eggs! I like waffles but I don't like having to separate the eggs.

Chocolate Waffles
Source: Better Home and Gardens

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil or butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.

2. In another medium bowl beat eggs lightly; stir in milk, oil, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be slightly lumpy).

3. Add batter to a preheated, lightly greased waffle baker according to manufacturer's directions (use a regular or Belgian waffle baker). Close lid quickly; do not open until done. Bake according to manufacturer's directions. When done, use a fork to lift waffle off grid. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.