Welcome to Cafe Brigitte, where stay at home moms can kick back with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) and talk about what is going on in their lives. I hope you will find fun and useful information here, as well as enjoy the company of a fellow, “regular” mom. I am looking forward to sharing with you what works for me as a mom and what doesn’t, what is going on in my life, and what is on my mind.
My Favorite Book on Preemies August 15, 2009
When my girls were born, a good friend gave me a book that proved to be an invaluable resource. It was Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies. That book explained all the things to expect in the NICU and explained in plain English every thing that we encountered with our preemies.
If you are the parent of a preemie or know someone with a preemie, I highly recommend getting a copy of this book.
My Brown Thumb Turned Green August 13, 2009
Two years ago I decided it would be a great lesson for my children to plant a garden. Since I didn’t have a lot of space or tools, I bought the book All New Square Foot Gardening and followed Mel Bartholomew’s directions as closely as I am capable of doing. I spent a bit of money creating my box and filling it. I bought the seeds, started them in peat pots inside until they were ready for the ground, and watered the garden religiously.
Things appeared to start off just fine, but then the trees filled in and my little garden was not getting a whole lot of light. The young plants, like all other plants I have ever tended, began dying. Not one plant yielded one little veggie. It was pathetic. Oh well, that is pretty much par for the course with me. I kill plants.
Early this summer, at our new house, we dug out some over grown shrubs in the front of the house. The soil in that area is red Virginia clay. Since we didn’t have any immediate plans for new plantings in that area and the kids wanted to dig in the dirt, I gave them the leftover seeds from my previous attempt at gardening. I knew nothing would ever grow from those seeds in that soil, so I let them dump seeds to their hearts’ content.
Then we went to the farmers’ market and a lady was selling seedling of various sorts for a quarter a piece. I went ahead and bought some for reasons unknown to myself. Some of those seedlings went into that same barren soil the seeds went into and some went into pots.
Well, my thumb must be changing colors. The pattipan squash seeds sprouted into a plant that has taken over my walkway. We have cucumbers bigger than any I have seen in the grocery store. And, even my poor, pathetic green pepper plant is trying to produce something.
Take a look:
My New Favorite Seasoning July 31, 2009
When we moved to Bristol last summer we began frequenting Sam’s Club on a very regular basis since it is less than 10 minutes from our house. We can’t resist the samples – who can?! Many times we have had samples of various cuts of beef and pork and they were simply delicious. I finally asked one day what they used to prepare the meat and the demonstrator replied Lawry’s.
Having grown up with a very European mother, I had never heard of such a thing. One day I saw it in the grocery store and decided to give it a try.
Man, does that stuff really taste great on beef, chicken and pork. If you are looking for something quick, easy, and tasty, get some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and sprinkle it on before you grill, bake or pan fry your meat. You will be glad you did.
NICU Tips for Parents of Preemies July 29, 2009
In the last eight years, a lot of moms have asked me how I got through the long weeks in the NICU when my twins were born (see their story here). So, I thought I would share some tips with all of you.
Our NICU did not allow parents to stay over night until the baby’s last day or two, so my husband and I had to leave every evening. While it was very hard to do, it probably was the best thing for our overall mental and physical well being. I was able to get a good night sleep (between sessions with the breast pump) and clear my head. My first tip for NICU survival is to take time everyday to leave the NICU, breathe fresh air, and live a “normal” life for a few hours. It actually helped to alleviate the sense of helplessness I had those first few weeks when the girls were too little to hold.
The second tip is to leave a disposable and an instant (Polaroid, if they are still around) camera at the baby’s bedside. With the disposable cameras we took pictures of all the milestones that took place in the NICU. The nurses will use the cameras when you aren’t there in order to document events for you too. I have a great story about pictures I got from our cameras, but I will save those for another time.
The instant camera is great for the nurses to take pictures of fun things that take place while you are away. It also allowed us to bring pictures home to share with friends same day, but digital cameras are better for that these days.
My third tip is to accept the offers of help and meals from friends. I was too hasty sometimes to turn down the offers. But a meal in the freezer after a long (and sometimes bad) day in the NICU is really what we needed. If someone offers to clean for you, let them! Doing mundane tasks helps take your mind off that sweet baby in the NICU, but coming home to a clean kitchen is a relief most days.
Fourth, find a support network. Since no one I knew had a preemie, I found an online support group at www.BabyCenter.com. The ladies who frequent that board have either gone through the same thing or are going through it. When you baby is preemie, sick, etc. you can feel alone. Everyone around you seems to be having the perfect pregnancy or has a perfect baby in her arms. Finding a group that helps you to feel supported and understood is critical.
There are more things I could share, but I will hold stop here for now. My twins were very premature, but they did not have very many complications while they were in the hospital. We were very fortunate that all the girls really needed to do was grow, but not everyone is that lucky. Every NICU situation is different and so are the parents involved. So basically you need to take your days in with your NICU baby day by day and make sure you are taking care of yourself in the process.
Easy Spinach Quiche July 23, 2009
I was away from home most of last week and have been on the run ever since I got home at midnight on Sunday (or is that Monday?). I have not had a chance to restock the fridge, so I had to be creative for our dinner tonight. I had spinach in the freezer, pie crusts, and lots of eggs. I love quiche, but so many of the recipes online required ingredients that I didn’t have. That is where I had to be creative and simplify. Here is the recipe I came up with:
1 – 9 inch pie crust (premade frozen, the folded variety, or use your favorite recipe)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
half of a 16 oz package of frozen, chopped spinach
1 small tomato or half a large one seeded and chopped
1.5 cups shredded cheese (you pick the type – I used colby-jack since that is what I had on hand)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the over to 400 degree and bake your crust for about 8 minutes (my frozen crust was thawed). While that is baking, cook the spinach according to package directions and drain excess water from the spinach. Then beat your eggs with the milk. Add the spinach and tomato to the egg mixture. Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper).
When the crust is finished prebaking, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Sprinkle half your cheese in the bottom of the crust, pour in the egg/spinach mixture, and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
I made two quiches this evening thinking that we would have one for tonight (my husband is working tonight) with leftovers for lunch tomorrow and that I would freeze the second one. Well, my girls ate not just seconds, but thirds, so there were no leftovers from the first quiche. The second one will be lunch tomorrow.
What I like about this recipe is that it is made from things I always have one hand (well, I don’t normally have pie crusts in the freezer, but I do have the ingredients to make them) and it is a complete meal.
This is the week of Usborne Books and More’s annual convention. I am going – it is something I would not miss.
This is also the week we are closing on the sale of a townhouse we own in NC. The sale has been a pain in the behind and it really sneaked up on me. I have dropped the last of the details on my poor husband. The kids are with my parents for the week (complicating factor is driving 4 hours to drop them off and turn around to come home) and he thought he was going to get some time to do what he wanted to do. Sorry, Dear.
To throw even more chaos into the mix, we bid on a house in VA to replace the property in NC and negotiations are on going.
So, instead of enjoying the first night in the house without kids since becoming parents 8 years ago my husband and I are tying up loose ends before I get on an early flight.
My friend Ruth and I have often wondered when life will become “boring.” I suspect the answer is never and if it ever did, we would not know what to do with ourselves.
The Trouble with Twins July 12, 2009
People often ask me how I coped having twins. They say they can’t imagine taking care of two babies at once. My response is always the same…I didn’t know any different, so it didn’t seem that bad. In fact, I found the first year or two to be pretty easy, after the girls came home from the NICU, that is.
Since my twins were preemies and we lived in New England, we had to be particularly careful about RSV. So, we did not go out and about much. When the girls came home, I kept pretty much to the schedule they had in the NICU. That coupled with the need to stay home kept my days predictable and I was able to nap when ever I felt the need and I got to most of the household chores in a timely manner. My mother visited quarterly and I had some good friends who would help out when I really needed it.
It also helped that my twins were relatively good babies. They cried when they had reason to, but it was usually easily solved. Don’t get me wrong; they were not perfect. One twin had serious separation anxiety every time the baby books said it could happen at a particular age. (She seems to suffer from it still on some occasions. ) The other twin would go on what I thought were hunger strikes, but the pediatrician said she was just snacking and to go back to our regular schedule – which worked.
My girls are built-in playmates for each other. I never had to call a friend over for a play date.
Until recently, having twins has been very manageable for me and has made life a bit easier. The trouble only began this year. Their interests and their strengths have started to diverge a bit. One rides horses and the other is a ballerina. They encourage and support each other in their separate activities, which is great.
The problem comes in when they are in the same activity or with school work. The success of one is viewed as a personal failure by the other when the outcomes are not the same. For example, they finished swimming lessons last night. One “completed” Level 2 and the other did not. Congratulating the one causes the other to feel like she failed. Yet, you don’t want to not congratulate the twin who moved up to the next level. Ugh.
Of course, next week the shoe will be on the other foot. The “non-swimmer” will do better in something than the “swimmer.” The one who does not do as well will mope despite my reminding her that she did better in swimming than her twin did. Each will have things that she is better at and things that she does not do as well. It all balances out, right?! Try and explain that to an 8 year old.