Eight months

10 Apr

Written Thursday, April 10, 2014

8 months smallLikes: Grabbing or holding onto things; chewing on their toys, their car seat straps and their clothes; sitting up; getting into their car seats; riding in the stroller for walks and runs; eating solid food; bath time—especially being sprayed with water; when Mama and Daddy dance, sing and act silly—especially “The Wheels on the Bus” song; roughhousing and general silliness; Dexter.

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(Elise, left, Anna, right)

Favorite toys: The Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks and Rock-a-Stack.

Dislikes: Being laid down for diaper changes; being ignored for more than a few minutes; being covered up by their car seat covers.

A IMG_3500Weights: Both girls are 13 lbs, 10 oz, up 2 pounds from last month.

Lengths: The girls probably are 25 inches long, or about a half-inch longer than last month.

E IMG_3636Milestones: Both girls sit independently—and can sit and play with toys and with each other for several minutes at a time.

IMG_3521 (Elise in gray, Anna in stripes)

sitting collageElise is working on crawling. She almost never stays on her back or on her butt for more than a few minutes, unoccupied; she immediately rolls onto all fours and scoots—backward, not forward. She has scooted several feet in mere seconds.

E IMG_3614 Elise crawling collageAnna is not working on crawling nearly as much. She will get on all fours but won’t scoot; she’ll reach for something nearby, though, or nuzzle her face into the blanket on the floor. She is more content to watch her sister and giggle at her.

A IMG_3667Anna and Elise are clearly learning about the world around them. They like to pick up their toys (the plastic shapes are a favorite) and bang them together or bang them on other things, or throw them or toss them aside or onto the floor.

A IMG_3623 E IMG_3588They also are growing more aware of each other. They love to mess with each other. They love to steal each other’s Nuks—right out of their mouths!—or the toys they’re playing with at that moment. They seldom share, but when they do, it’s adorable.

20140322_101604 (Elise, left, Anna, right)

IMG_20140324_175959 (Anna, left, Elise, right)

Elise is almost babbling these days. Anna is, too, but much more infrequently.

Eating: A combination of breast milk (They only nurse for a few minutes at a time now.) and formula, plus the usual lineup of solid foods. New this month was Baby Mum Mums—by which they were completely and totally perplexed.

Wearing: 3-6-month and 6-month clothing; folded cloth diapers with diaper covers during the day and size 1 disposables at night.

IMG_3377 (Anna in pink, Elise in blue)

Nicknames: Anna Banana (Banana, for short), Elisey Bean (Beanut, as an alternate), Peanut, L’il Pea, Nugget.

Mama collage Daddy collageThe girls finally are old enough to start to appreciate new experiences. So, this spring and summer, we’re going for the gusto. Here’s our bucket list:

–Go to the park and play on the swings and feed the ducks

–Go swimming

–Go to the zoo

–Go to a Brewers game

–Take a road trip (We’re thinking St. Louis in June)

–Crawl in the grass

–Take photos outside

–Explore new parks and trails

–Watch fireworks

–Watch Mama and Daddy run a race

–Shop at the farmers market

–Play with bubbles

–Play with water and sand

–Celebrate the girls’ FIRST birthday

IMG_3603 (Elise, left, Anna, right)

Our Insta-month: March

4 Apr

March has been a busy month of growing independence for the girls – sitting up on their own, playing on their own, attempting to crawl on their own – and charming the pants off Mama and Daddy.

Here we go!

CHRIS’ PICS

IMG_20140313_174356Elise checking herself out in the mirror

IMG_20140315_114750Anna, left, Elise, right, lounging in Mama’s lap

IMG_20140315_192651 Elise, in her elephant towel, crawling around before bedtime

IMG_20140319_135439Anna flashing her silly smile

IMG_20140319_174940Elise trying to catch the bubble before it bursts

IMG_20140321_160518Anna hanging out with Mama at the coffeeshop

IMG_20140322_074440Elise chilling in the toy box

IMG_20140322_190404Elise showing off her independent sitting skills

IMG_20140324_180058Anna, left, Elise, right, playing together (!)

IMG_20140326_183245Anna showing of her sitting skills (and using the block as an armrest)

IMG_20140327_113703Elise trying out the rocking chair at the library

IMG_20140328_185020Anna doing acrobatics with her block

IMG_20140331_073823 Elise, left, Anna, right, playing with shapes together

 

Follow me on Instagram; I’m kaylabee0418.

Warm Peanut Butter Apple Crisp for One

31 Mar

It was a weeknight. My chores were done – the dishes, the laundry. My workout was complete. My stomach rumbled.

I’m trying to be better about not snacking as much, not reaching for a granola bar the instant I think I’m hungry, or worse, the moment I’m bored or stressed. I’m also trying to be better about needing wanting dessert after dinner, trying to limit it to just the weekends.

But on this weeknight, with almost 400 calories left in my food budget for the day, I needed something and I wanted something sweet.

I thought about broiling a grapefruit. Not dessert.

I thought about a bowl of strawberries and pineapple.  Again, not dessert.

Then, I thought I’d slice up an apple and grab a big spoonful of peanut butter for dipping. Still not dessert, but more along the lines of an ideal not-too-healthy-but-still-satisfying snack.

For some reason, I was moved to find a new way to enjoy my beloved duo. A quick Google search led me to peanut butter apple crisp. Um, yes please!

 20140326_221818

Warm Peanut Butter Apple Crisp for One

(Adapted from A Kitchen Addiction)

This perfectly portion-controlled dessert is warm and comforting. It’s just the right balance of sweet and not-so-sweet, rich and not-too-rich, ooey-gooey and crispy-crunchy.

Ingredients

For the filling:
1 small apple, peeled and diced
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
Pinch each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves

For the topping:
3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter, softened
1 teaspoon butter, softened

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a ramekin or individual baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, toss the diced apple with the honey and spices.

In another small bowl, combine the oats, flour and brown sugar. “Cut in” the softened peanut butter and butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. (Tip: I microwaved the peanut butter and butter in a small glass dish for about 15-20 seconds, then added it to the oat mixture.)

Pour the honey-coated apples into the prepared ramekin. Sprinkle the peanut butter-oat topping on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, then, remove from the oven and allow it to cool a bit before eating.

20140326_221812

Go make this now.

The end.

P.S. Simply double the ingredients to make this a crisp for two!

A random act of kindness

19 Mar

Editor’s note: Written by my husband, Christopher, and originally published in Sauk Valley Media on March 10.

Tears welled up in my eyes. Would they have as recently as a couple of years ago? It’s hard to say.

I hurt so badly for the parent (Parents? Sadly, I doubt I’ll ever know, unless they happen upon this column.) who left $10 in a greeting card with the Starbucks employees at Barnes & Noble in the NorthPark Mall in Davenport, Iowa.

The money was a gift for our twins, Anna and Elise, “in memory of an amazing little girl who got her angel wings two years ago … the day she turned 6 months old.”

20140307_122924Let’s just say we savored our macchiatos and double chocolate chip cookie like we never could have imagined. And then I kissed my little girls on the forehead, with a little bit of salt that had trickled down my cheek also kissing their skin.

I write a column about people in the Sauk Valley. While the Quad Cities area is outside my jurisdiction, I’ve heard tales from folks around here about these sort of random acts of kindness. A kind soul pays for the car behind them in the drive-thru. A selfless person leaves $20 at the register to go toward the groceries of the family behind in line.

These things happen everywhere. So, I wanted to bring this anecdote home with me and share it with you.

The timing couldn’t have been better for my wife, Kayla, and me. While parenting has changed us as we never could have imagined, the perfect storm of sleep deprivation, cabin fever and the eternal struggle to make ends meet left us needing a little pick-me-up.

This beautiful soul gave us the mother of all shots in the arm. Today (Saturday morning, full disclosure), I’m extraordinarily happy about it. Because, as I alluded to in my The People’s Voice column on Father Bruce Ludeke, my goal for Lent is to look out for my fellow man a little more. It’s easier to do when you get such reassurance that you’re not alone in your endeavor. Even outside the Lenten season, there’s never a bad time to have your faith in humanity restored.

How about yesterday, though? At that time, I predominantly felt sad. And it reminded me of a Christmas shopping trip to Bergner’s at Northland Mall. (Sure, it’s a mile away. But everything is a “trip” with twins.) You could imagine we get stopped a lot for folks to drink in the cuteness of the girls. In this instance, a few employees were peering in when one asked their names.

I told her, and I could practically see her heart quiver as she said, “Elise was my daughter’s name.” I was speechless. Minutes later, as we ventured on, I lamented to Kayla the fact that I wish I could provide some counsel.

But that’s not my place. What we experienced yesterday, however, painted a gorgeous picture of what my place can be. I’m a creative guy. I can find ways to pay forward the selfless gifts I’ve received.

Card close upAnd isn’t paying it forward kind of cliché or, at least, in vogue? How about I simply do well for my fellow man out of the kindness of my heart?

Won’t you join me? I’ve got a feeling this could be easier, and get pretty contagious, if we all do it together.

Book review: “The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen”

14 Mar

Editor’s note: Originally published in Today’s Farm, a supplement to Sauk Valley Media, on March 11.

IMG_3265

Anna and Elise might not yet be old enough to understand the concept of farm-to-table; they are only 6 months old, after all.

But my darling twin girls soon will come to appreciate the incredible role that agriculture plays in our lives.

They’ll grow up with a garden in their backyard. They’ll watch teeny tiny seeds sprout and grow up into bountiful zucchini and pepper plants and rows and rows of lettuce and spinach.

They’ll grow up with fresh fruits and veggies at every meal – homegrown or picked up from the local farmers market, when possible. They’ll learn that the fresh stuff tastes better – and the homegrown stuff tastes best.

They’ll grow up with a healthy appreciation for cows and pigs, as some of Mama’s and Daddy’s favorite foods (and undoubtedly, what soon will be some of their own favorites) – cheese and bacon – come from those animals. They’ll hopefully see those items at the grocery store and be able to connect them with “moo” and “oink.”

But until then, Anna and Elise already have some idea of where their food comes from thanks to a boy named Patrick O’Shanahan and his Saturday-morning breakfast adventure.

“The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen”, a new children’s book by author and real-life farmer Diana Prichard, tells the story of a young boy, who always has known exactly where his food comes from: the refrigerator, via the grocery store, of course. Always, that is, until a stocky cow, a few gregarious chickens and some towering trees appear in his kitchen while his dad whips up a batch of his World Famous French Toast.

Prichard, a Michigan farrow-to-finish hog farmer, presents a sweet story that introduces children (It’s recommended for little ones ages 4 to 8.) to the idea that eggs, milk and maple syrup come, not from the refrigerator, or from the store, but from chickens, cows and trees.

She uses simple but sensory language: Patrick plucks a “warm brown egg” from underneath the chicken, draws “warm, frothy milk” into a measuring cup. Little readers can begin to grasp that fresh-from-the-farm eggs or milk look and feel different from those in the grocery store.

Illustrator Heather Knopf, a mother of two young boys, provides charming images – with a fuzzy-bordered, almost dreamlike quality, which lends to the whimsy of the story – to draw in the wee ones and help communicate the message.

Prichard says she wrote the book because she is passionate about the farm-to-fork connection.

“As a farmer, I’ve learned a lot over the years, not the least of which is that there is a fine line and very delicate balance between idealism and realism in food production,” she wrote in an email. “I really wanted this book to be a launching point for more conversation; not a lesson in and of itself, but something that encouraged kids and their families to seek out lessons and information.”

“And last, but not least, as both a mother and a farmer, I’m passionate about the future of food and our agricultural system. I hope that if there’s any legacy I am able to pass down to my kids it’s not just a farm, but a farm that they’re able to run in a time when their peers better understand and appreciate what it takes from them to do it.”

IMG_3261“The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen” is a poignant and punchy introduction to the idea that our food comes from the farm, rather than the grocery store.

“The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen” (Little Pickle Press, November 2013) is available at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and bookstores nationwide.

Seven months

12 Mar

Written Monday, March 10, 2014

7 MONTHS SMALL copy(Anna, top, Elise, bottom)

Another 10th of the month, another month older, another month filled with smiles, giggles and milestones for our little peanuts, another month of parenthood under our belts.

It’s cliché, but it’s the hardest and yet most rewarding job we will ever have. We are so privileged to be parents to these sweet girls.

So, without further ado…

Anna Foot CollageLikes: Grabbing or holding onto things (especially faces, hair and jewelry); sticking their fingers/hands and toes (!) in their mouths; chewing on their toys, their car seat straps and their clothes; playing with their socks; sitting up; standing up; getting into their car seats; solid food; bath time; when Mama and Daddy “dance”, sing and act silly; roughhousing and general silliness; Dexter.

Elise Mouth CollageDislikes: Being hungry; being tired; being cold.

Weights: Anna is 11 lbs, 14 oz, and Elise is 11 lbs, 10 oz, or about the same as our guess for last month.

Lengths: Anna is 24 1/2 inches long, while Elise is 24  1/4 inches long, about the same as our guess for last month.

20140302_181352

(Elise left, Anna right)

Milestones: Both girls now roll over from their backs to their tummies; they started doing it in their sleep, then did it several times while playing in the past week or so. Elise is getting so close to independent sitting; Anna still has a lock on supported sitting, though.

Sitting Collage

(Elise in white, Anna in pink)

The girls seemed to have discovered faces – aka realized that they are separate beings from Mama and Daddy and others – this month and love to grab onto and pull on our lips, noses and chins. They love pulling on my hair, especially if it’s down, and my earrings and necklace, if I am silly enough to wear jewelry.

Anna Bumbo collage Anna and Elise are more aware of each other now, too. They will look at each other and smile or roll toward each other and mess with each other. They’ll even hold hands while nursing or while having their diapers changed. It’s really quite tender.

20140227_181554

(Anna bottom, Elise top)

They also are making lots of new sounds – or at least are more consistently making vowel sounds and repeating them. They also are randomly squealing (usually an indicator that they are happy) and “shouting”.

Both girls finally – finally (!!) – are sleeping through the night. We sleep trained them again about 2 weeks ago, and we seem to have had much success. (See below.)

20140227_073713

(Anna left, Elise right)

Eating: A combination of breast milk and formula (much less than ever before now that they only get three small supplemental bottles a day), plus several solid foods. New foods this month included carrots, squash, peaches and peas.

Wearing: 3-month clothing, although admittedly, many of the sleepers and onesies finally are getting too small, lengthwise; folded cloth diapers with diaper covers during the day and size 1 disposables at night.

20140227_073842Nicknames: Anna Banana (Banana or Nanner, for short), Elisey Bean (Beanut, as an alternate), Peanut, Nugget. Or, when one of them is acting weird, Psycho Peanut, and when one of them is particularly messy or causing trouble, Disaster Peanut.

20140302_172446

The big takeaway from this past month was the return of sleep – better, deeper, more sound sleep for the girls and less intervention and, most nights, more sleep for us.

A quick reminder: We hit a major sleep regression at about 5 months. At first, the girls were waking up any time between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. and could not be rocked back to sleep, which meant we broke down and fed them, usually between 11 p.m. and midnight. Then, they were waking earlier and refusing to be rocked back to sleep, which meant I was pulling them into bed with me, as early at 9:15 p.m.

We couldn’t live like that anymore. Christopher had a hard time going back to work after bedtime because he knew what was in store. I had to race to get things done – laundry, dishes, making dinners for the week – and find time to pump in between rocking the girls back to sleep.

Wrestling Collage(Anna in red, Elise in white)

So, the last week of February, we sleep trained the girls. We used the Ferber method as outlined here.

The first few nights were hard; they cried a lot, at first. But they slept almost straight through the night right off the bat. And we gave them time to get themselves back to sleep – and they did! – so we never got up to feed them. After the third night, and then more so after the sixth or seventh night, things improved even more; the girls cried so much less – we often never made it through the first waiting period.

Now, Anna and Elise almost seem as if they want to get themselves to sleep. We follow our bedtime routine and usually within the first few pages of our book or by the end of the first verse of our lullaby, they are wriggling with their eyes closed. It’s like they’re saying, “I’m ready. Put me down. I got this.” They go to sleep so easily now and we almost never hear a peep until maybe 2 in the morning, at which time, they get themselves back to sleep.

20140211_121503(Anna with Mama)

Up until this week, we weren’t getting up in the middle of the night to feed them. But, late last week, the girls starting waking up at 4 or 4:30 in the morning; we would bring them into bed with us, hoping to snag another 2 hours of sleep, but they would never really fall back asleep. Our hunch was that they not only got enough sleep, because they had slept straight through from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., but also that they were hungry. So, we built back in a nighttime feeding, sometime between 11 and 11:30 p.m.; it’s basically a dream feeding, as we don’t wake them (even to change their diaper) to nurse or take their supplemental bottle.

20140227_164113(Elise with Daddy)

We employed the same methodology for naps, although now, we often only let them cry for 5 minutes before we intervene in the hopes of not waking the other twin and prolonging the crying twin’s nap as much as possible.The first several days were torture; we had lots of so-called disaster naps and two fussy, overtired girls. But the past week or so has been much better – still hit or miss, as some naps last 45 minutes and some could go on longer than 2 hours – which only means nighttime continues to be good.

All in all, the months keep getting better as the girls keep growing, changing and developing their own little personalities. They’re so fun to watch and play with because, for the most part, they worship the ground we walk on. Daddy can dance, and the girls love it. Mama can sing silly songs, and they smile from ear to ear. Even Dexter can do (almost) no wrong. They’re fun to watch, too, because they are absorbing the world around them, which includes taking notice of the fact that they have a sister. It’s so cool.

The days are pretty fun in the Heimerman house.

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(Anna right, Elise left)

Our Insta-month: February

2 Mar

IMG_20140205_161125 IMG_20140205_161206

Elise, left, Anna, right, peeking around the toy bar at mama.

IMG_20140206_165501 IMG_20140206_170009

Elise, left, Anna, right, playing with their toys – right.in.their.faces.

IMG_20140206_172222 Elise reading her “newspaper”.

IMG_20140210_144658 Anna, right, Elise, left, posing on their 6-month birthday.

IMG_20140211_105230 Anna, foreground, learning to use a spoon.

IMG_20140211_121610 Anna lounging like mama.

IMG_20140211_181616 Wrasslin’. (Dexter was not impressed.)

IMG_20140213_125043 Elise munching on her toes.

IMG_20140217_112608 Elise lovin’ on her big brother.

IMG_20140217_115457 Anna being silly, wearing a burp cloth as a hat.

IMG_20140219_180329 (Almost) naked peanuts! (Elise, left, Anna, right.)

IMG_20140222_174247 Anna pulling on mama’s jaw.

IMG_20140226_162618 Elise hugging her big brother.

IMG_20140226_162938 Anna acting goofy with her pants on her head!

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