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In my brief time mothering my little family, I have many embarassing mommy confessions…
But the big one for (ahem) this week:
My kids prefer jars.
Yup. There you have it. Given the option between my home-stewed, tree-ripened, hand-peeled organic peaches, and Heinz’s original green label, I lose. Big time.
Its become something of a joke these days considering that I currently have a freezer full of beautifully- coloured cubes of home made baby food, most of them made from perfectly balanced organic recipes learned from naturopath-nutritionist guru Lianne Phillipson-Webb. Her food classes are awesome, and I learned so much from attending them. Bridget was a huge fan of my homemade food (though now I wonder!), and as such I have been making most of our twins’ food since they started solids at 6 months. The time commitment is high, what with the shopping, washing, peeling, chopping, measuring and cooking, especially for two babies this time around… But I figured it was worth it. And they’ll like it better, right?? Right?
OK, lets be honest – I mainly do it because I have bought into the concept that home-cooked is “real” food, and stuff from boxes and cans is the devil. When I was a kid, we ate a lot of prepackaged food. I have fond memories of neon yellow Kraft Dinner, Hamburger Helper, Riceroni, Alphagetti, Chunky Beef soup, and Kraft Butterscotch pudding, and even get occasional cravings for the aforementioned nasties to this day. And of all people, I should know that given the choice between gourmet organic 3-cheese macaroni and the neon yellow crap, 9 out of 10 kids will pick the Kraft. And the 10th kid is likely the one everyone laughs at on the playground because he’s wearing the reindeer jumper his mummy bought him for Christmas. So he doesn’t count.
But until recently, I hadn’t had to face up to this sad fact as my kids hadn’t ever experienced jarred food. If it didn’t come out of our freezer, they hadn’t seen or tasted it before. But when I went out of town for a few days, I was afraid Nanny and Grampa might want something simpler than sifting through 32 ziploc bags in the freezer to find 3 cubes of this and 2 cubes of that, so loaded up on some of the Heinz organic line instead. And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end.
Not only did they like the jarred food, but now they even get excited seeing the jars come out of the cupboard. And while I am still mildly frightened at meat that can sit out at room temperature (even when its canned, that just seems strange), their new favorites are the PC Organics meat & veggie mixes. Now, it hasn’t stopped me from continuing to make yummy new food for them, some of which still trump the jars (pureed beets, and my new fave quinoa and veggie recipe come to mind). But in the end, I’ve had to soften my “no processed foods” line to admit that if the texture and flavour suits them, and it is (embarassing to admit) yummier than mine is, then I’ll just have to add some to the rotation.
But it doesn’t mean I have to like it…
My daughter Taylor is an artist – no, better. An artisan. Truly gifted. I know most parents feel this way about their kids, especially their first, but in my humble opinion, it will be Taylor who surpasses all my children in that she already appears to have a useful talent, one which hopefully some day will bring fame and fortune to our family name.
You see, Taylor, my sweet little “Tally-wa”, my “good twin”, my rolly-polly chunky-monkey pudge-urchin extraordinaire, is a cheese-maker. That’s right folks, a bona-fide Triple A master frommagier. For deep in the recesses of her umpteen chins, a little pool of breastmilk, spit-up, and God-only-knows-what collects and slowly, beautifully, ripens. And then, from under that sweet, dimpled smile comes a smell that could wake the dead at least three counties over…
We discovered Tally’s mad skillz one hot, sticky early-summer morning, somewhere midway between two growth spurts when she had really packed on the poundage but hadn’t sprouted upwards yet. Leaning in for a snuggle and tickle, the smell hit me like a tonne of bricks. And so I went digging to look to find the source. After heaving up the first massive chin fold, I discovered that Tally’s chin is actually more like a little fifedom, with the central chin overseeing several smaller, more subservient “underling” folds that extend from her jawbone right down to her mid-collarbone region – it’s quite a little kingdom. And deep in this vast territory lay my first glimpse of Tally’s true gift: a thick white line of moldy neck cheese extending almost from ear to ear. Ee-yow-sah!
Suffice it to say, Ms. T immediately got a bath. A thorough, deep-cleansing bath from head to toe. With three children under three (and several furry beings) demanding constant attention, bathing just doesn’t happen as often as it says you should in “the books” – you know, the funny “twin-specific” books I bought from Chapters that preach on about completely unobtainable things like “co-ordinating twins’ naps” and “nightly bathing routines”. Ha!
But until that moment, I truly thought I had managed to avoid being bitten by the sliding standards of hygeine in our chaotic little household. Not so. Even with a good once-over and a gentle but firm cleansing of the skin fold, it took days of wiping, air-drying (yes, folks, just like it sounds), watching and agonising for the harsh red, raw line of skin to truly look normal again.
Ah. A sigh of relief. A crow of triumph. I am SUPERparent. No. Within the week, my little angel was back, honing her craft and growing something more along the lines of thinly-veined blue Roquefort this time.
Over the last few months of fighting against nature (and the extreme humidity of urban Toronto), we have learned a few tricks. So I will pass them on to you, in the event you too birth a truly gifted and extraordinary child. Don’t worry, you won’t – Tally is the only one. But should you happen to, here’s the scoop:
Neck Cheese Rule #1 – Prevention is the Key: Okay, I know that sounds cruel and unfair, especially if your kid already is as talented as Tally. But really, it is the best strategy. Anything that keeps this area from getting wet in the first place is your new best friend. Now if you live in a truly stinky humid climate like I do, that might be tough to control. However, little bibs to catch drool and spit up, especially ones that don`t gape in the neck region, work well to keep flotsam and jetsam out. Take the extra five minutes to get bibs on before sitting down to breastfeed (or bottlefeed, if you choose to) to catch the inevitable bit of drool or spit that might escape when the babies are done. Check the area. A lot. And if there is even a hint of moisture, give it a gentle wipe and make sure it is dry before letting the chin fold drop. And repeat. Ad nauseum.
N.C. Rule #2 – Fresh Air Is Your Friend: Anything that gets air moving in and under your infants (non-existant) neck will help to prevent and control neck cheese growth. This rule works for two reasons – mainly, because moisture is the key enemy in the battle against the frommage. Air, especially moving air (ie. blowing on it, or using a hair dryer on the non-heat/low flow setting) dries the skin’s surface, simultaneously removes the narsty stench while drying out the skin and making it a less tasty environment for the yeast (the most common culprit) to work on the dribble buildup. And two, because nature abhors a vacuum (okay, that has nothing to do with it. Just always wanted to work that into a conversation somehow. Can cross that off the bucket list now…)
And finally, N.C. Rule #3 – Patience, Grasshopper: Infants, somewhere between the fat-drained first week when they look like soggy old men, and their first real pack-on-the-pounds 3 month growth, tend to develop a waddle. Some little body shapes just naturally have more double chins than others. Our other twin wasn’t affected at all. And now, at 7 months, it appears that little Tally’s cheesemaking days are over. While still a chunky little monkey, one morning she woke up with a newfound neck that lives, uncovered, below her single (okay, double) chin. And so far, she is back to the fresh smelling sweet baby girl I used to know.
Well, until she learns how to remove her diaper…
When we found out it was twins we were elated/scared/thrilled. And of course, being the Type A that I am, the first thing I did was race out to grab some books on twin pregnancy. Not that there are many differences from a normal “singleton” pregnancy. But one area that I immediately fixated on was the book’s description of the increased caloric burn seen when growing and nursing two babies instead of one.
In the early days of growing sprogs, it doesn’t add up to much – maybe an extra yoghurt a day (or in my case, two extra!). But once you get into that third trimester, it sure sounds like you’ll be smokin’ along, burning calories like crazy building two babies, with little room left in your tummy to eat. And then the breastfeeding – wowee! According to the book, over a thousand calories a day, ripped from my body fat stores and drafted straight into lactation. Yowza!
Right. What they don’t mention is that your body also gets insanely good at digesting and absorbing calories in prep for these increased needs – disproportionately so. And you are hungry. No, starving. Constantly. As in the “I know I just finished eating that entire extra-large Supreme pizza, but I could really go for another…” kind of starving.
So I gained weight. A lot of weight. 65lbs to be exact. Which I’m told isn’t a massive amount for a twin mom. I had over 15lbs of baby in me! But to me, it seemed … ginormous. I came within 3 lbs of my 6’5 hubby. Now THAT’S humbling… In fact, we measured the circumference around my tummy just before the babies were born: 51 inches. That’s 4’3. I’m pretty sure with that mass and girth, I qualified for my own gravitational pull.
So that leads me to now. As of last week, I have officially lost the baby weight. All of it. Dum-de-da-dum! Hmm, you think. She doesn’t seem that happy. Why, pray tell?? Wasn’t it all true – the miracle of the double calorie burn??
Well, my friends, because I’m STILL stuck joining a gym. Yes, the weight is gone, but the proportions are gone too, the muscles have turned to goo and my core strength is a memory more distant than mix tapes. In fact, after taking one 12-class session of pilates, I’ve realized its going to take more than once a week to return to “looking great and feeling better”, or whatever such shlock convinced me to buy the membership in the first place.
So I am asking for your best bits of motivational advice. Now that I am a member, how do I make sure I actually go? And how often is enough weekly? Once? OK, even I know that’s likely insufficient. Will twice cut it?? Whaddya think?
As the twins are now six months old, we have just embarked on a new oddessy: solids. From listening to first-time moms at playgroups and drop-in centres, and my (albeit dim) memory of doing this waaay long ago with our (almost) three year old, Bridget, I know that starting solids is generally looked apon as a momentous occasion. Dum duh duh DUUUM! My child now eats real food! No longer am I her sole source of nutrition! And look how grown up and mature she is. Soon, she’ll be holding her own utensils, sitting at the dinner table all by herself eating the same food as mom and dad and having polite dinner conversation and …
Uh huh. Right. You see the slippery slope that one takes you down? When I realized five months was rolling around with the twins and they had hit 15 lbs, a strange feeling of dread hit the pit of my stomach. The twins nursed constantly and yet still begged to eat. They sat in their little highchairs at meal time like two princesses on matching thrones, awaiting service. They watched each and every bite leave our plates and enter our mouths with the solumn fixation of starving orphans from Oliver Twist. Food, glorious food! My husband was psyched!
I, however, was not. Part of it was the increased workload – I mean, let’s be honest! Its not like I’m keeping up with laundry as it is… Most days, there are at least two, possibly three loads waiting to be folded and put away. And now we’ll be adding in 6 bibs, 4 extra outfits (for pureed something ends up down someone’s shirt/pants at least once at every meal, always in the opposite direction the bib is oriented, and (duh!) there are two of them), and at least 16 bazillion washclothes??? But mainly, it was the fact that for the next six to eighteen months (let’s pray for the former!), I will become simply a glorified squeegee kid.
It’s amazing the psychological similarities there are between meal-time moms of infants, and those pubescent street urchins: you approach a relatively uninterested (occasionally downright irate) party with a service they either: a) don’t know they need or are b) pretty sure they don’t want, foist it upon them with fake sincerity and a Bob Moss-ian smile, and then rely on their sense of good-natured obligation for non-violent compliance and (perhaps even a small reward)! And obviously, after two to three carefully choreographed swipes of the chin after each and every spoonful of puree that goes in, the physical similarities are uncanny. Down to the angled swipe down the centre to finish the job. Times two.
Even so, however, seeing their little faces either light up with enjoyment or squeeze shut in ultimate agony after the first taste of something new that I made all by myself, makes all the chopping, pureeing, swiping, wiping, and washing almost worth it….