Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 8 months

October 21, 2017

Lark hit 8 months on the 16th, but we were traveling in Copenhagen at the time so this update is a little late. Here’s a picture of her tearing into some pizza during our trip.

Sleeping: Lark is now sleeping through the night for 12 hour stretches pretty consistently. I would say she slept through the night about 75-80% of last month, which is so amazing. Prim didn’t sleep through the night like this until she was 11 months, so I’m super pumped about this development. I’m sure we will have random nights where travel or teething get in the way, but just the fact that she’s managing to sleep this long so much earlier than Prim did is a freaking godsend.

Eating: Lark is now diving into eating solids with gusto. She was pretty lukewarm about the whole experience when we started, but she’s now eating about as much as Prim did at this age (ahem, which was A LOT). She still prefers to feed herself, but will allow me to spoonfeed her occasionally, especially if it’s yogurt (both she and Prim from the beginning have been head-over-heels for plain yogurt).

Lifesavers: We recently purchased a new baby carrier, which so far has been awesome. We have had the Beco Gemini for awhile now, but one of the snaps keeps popping, which was driving me CRAZY. We have also randomly been toting Prim around in the carrier when we’re on vacation and she’s ready to pass out and take a nap, and the Gemini’s narrower seat isn’t ideal for carrying a 28lb toddler. I happened to connect with a woman here in Amsterdam who was selling some carriers for wholesale (she had started a babywearing website that she was shutting down) so we were able to purchase the organic version of the Beco Soleil for a steal. So far the carrier has been awesome — it’s not as bulky as the Gemini and has a much wider seat; plus I’m totally into the detachable pocket, which makes accessing necessities like my wallet and keys way easier while babywearing.

Latest trick: Lark is fulling creeping her way around the floor now and can control where she goes. This is especially fun since her favorite things at the moment are the antique fireplace, DVD player, printer, and Prim’s potty.

Sweetest things: Lark is now waving, which is so so sweet. KC has been traveling a lot for work lately, and when we facetime him she gets so excited to see his face and will start waving and babbling (which, KC is convinced she’s saying “Dada,” but it’s completely wishful thinking on his part.)

Favorite thing about this age: Lark has reached the separation anxiety/stranger danger phase, and while I don’t love either of those milestones, it’s really sweet to see how attached she is to her “people” and will calm down immediately when one of us picks her up.

Life Abroad / Travel

Visiting Amsterdam?

October 11, 2017

I’ve had a few people contact me over the past year or so asking for recommendations for their trips to Amsterdam. I have been sort of dragging my feet writing this post because I think that recommendations for what to see and where to eat in a city is fairly personal, so what I recommend may or may not fit what you’re looking for. But that being said, I’ve put together a list anyway. Obviously a lot of what is below is kid-friendly, since we live here with our two little ones, but there are some bars and date-night options included for those of you who are lucky enough to be traveling sans-babies.

Click on the links for more info.

Groceries, Basics, etc.:

Breakfast/Brunch:

Lunch:

Dinner:

*adult/date night options – less kid-friendly

Coffee:

Beer:

**There is a pub crawl you can easily do over the course of a day or night (visit this site for more info). You have one beer at each: Arendsnest, Beer Temple, Beer Loves Food, and Craft and Draft, then present your receipts from each bar at Craft and Draft at the end and receive a free t-shirt. (Easiest/Fastest way to do this is on a bike.)

Other:

Favorite toy stores:

*These are kid cafes as well as toy stores

Favorite Tourist Activities:

A little outside the city: 

Baby / Motherhood / Toddler

Our Daily Routine

October 5, 2017

I’m always interested in how people structure their days — especially other mamas. These little ones seem to really thrive on a predictable schedule. I suppose because they lack so little control over their own lives, it’s nice to have a sense of how things are going to go each day.

We obviously can’t stick to this schedule every single day, but I make an effort to make this their reality at least 80-90% of the time. Oddly enough, I think it’s this consistency that makes both Prim and Lark much more adaptable when we’re traveling and unable to stick to their normal routine. I also keep this structure somewhat flexible to account for the random days when the girls don’t sleep well or nap on the go, but the below is the general framework we follow on normal days.

Prim has been on a schedule for a long time, but I read a lot about routines after Lark was born because I was struggling with managing the schedules of an almost-2-year old and a newborn. I was a little frustrated with a lot of what I read because it seemed like most of the schedules were aimed at people who had a baby OR a toddler — not both. Given that many people have more than one child, I wanted to see schedules that accounted for more than one child in the same household. The only schedule I found that took multiple kids into consideration was the Moms on Call book series, which was really helpful in setting up our routine.

Now that Lark is older and the girls are sharing a room, their schedules are much more enmeshed and seamless, but it was not without some trial and error during the first months. Our schedule seems to be continually evolving to account for consolidating naps and nursing sessions as Lark gets older, which I think is normal. Now that Lark is down to two naps a day though, this will likely be our schedule for awhile, as she likely won’t go down to one nap until she’s at least a year old.

7:30am We get girls out of their room and bring them into our bed for a bit of cozy time and so Lark can nurse.

The girls often wake up around 7am, but after having a rough transition period when they first started sharing a room where Prim would wake up for the day at 5am (um, NO THANKS) I bought her a clock that lights up when it’s time to get up. She now knows that when the “light turns green it’s time to wake up” and will start calling for us after it goes on.

8:00am Breakfast

9:30am Lark nurses and takes first nap (1 1/2 to 2 hours)

11:30/Noon Lunch

1pm-3pm Lark nurses and Prim and Lark nap

The girls go down for their nap together awake and are generally in their room for two hours total, but only sleep an hour and a half of that time, usually.

3/3:30pm Snack

4pm Lark nurses (some days)

I’m trying to eliminate this feeding.

5/5:30pm Dinner

I don’t prefer to eat dinner this early and I am working to move dinner back bit by bit. I started having them eat this early when I combined their bedtime routine because Lark could not be up past 7pm (she just can’t hang). I have now managed to push bedtime to 7:30pm (and usually not a moment later — Lark is very strict on this). I am dreading the upcoming time change a little bit, because I really don’t want them going to bed at 6:30pm.

6:45pm Bedtime routine starts

Girls take a bath together, pajamas on, read 1-2 stories, sing one song, nightlight + sound machine on, Lark nurses.

7:30pm Girls in bed, door closed

Fall

My Fall Bucket List

October 2, 2017

Fall has arrived in Amsterdam, complete with gray, rainy mornings and thunder and lightening in the evenings. It’s one of my most favorite times of year here — the whole city feels quieter and cozier. I’m excited for big knit sweaters and heavy fall boots (and not just because my summer bikini body was mysteriously MIA this year after birthing a child in February…)

Here’s what’s on my fall to-do list this year:

  1. Stock up on candles and try to burn them everyday at home. As the days get shorter and shorter here (and let me tell you — in November/December there is verrrry little daylight) it’s so nice to light some candles and embrace the dimness of the season.
  2. Keep up with my workout routine. After seriously struggling with the last 10 pounds of baby weight and having my back freak out due to my severe lack of core strength (2 babies 21 months apart has been HARD on my body), I got serious about getting back in shape. Not just losing the weight, but actually regaining my pre-baby Bar Method strength; so I signed up for this post-birth core fitness regimen 8 weeks ago and for Bar Method Online a month ago, both of which I have been vigilantly doing 4-5 times a week. I’m not always in the mood and the scale is still being slow to respond (THANKS BREASTFEEDING), but I have noticed a major difference in my overall strength, especially in my core, since I started.
  3. Visit some Christmas markets in December. We’re booked for Berlin and Croatia already — I can’t wait!
  4. Bake more! I took a break from baking after Lark was born and just recently started baking again. I forgot how much I really enjoy it. It’s such a nice departure from just cooking dinner — even when Prim insists on “helping,” which inevitably makes the whole process longer and messier (and usually results in at least one ingredient getting unintentionally omitted… or doubled. Ha.)
  5. Celebrate Thanksgiving with some family that will be in town that week.
  6. Try to go out semi-regularly on date nights with KC. Sometimes the planning of it all and getting out of the house are a pain, but once we’re out it’s so nice to have the break together.
  7. Decorate for Christmas. We’re spending Christmas in Amsterdam this year! I’m so excited.
  8. Perfect a new cocktail recipe. I’ve been off the cocktails for a long time now (pregnant with Prim, breastfeeding, pregnant with Lark, breastfeeding…) and even though my tolerance is still ridiculous (and yes, I’m still breastfeeding), I’d like to master a new drink to serve during the holidays while we have family visiting.
  9. Make an advent calendar for the girls. I have one with pockets from Pottery Barn that I want to fill with fun tasks and treats for each day in December.
  10. Order a stocking for little Larky-Lou!

What’s on your list this year?

Previous fall bucket lists: 20132014, 2015, and 2016.

Snack / Sweet / Vegetarian

Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins

September 19, 2017

I made applesauce yesterday, as a sort of “making lemons into lemonade” situation after a tough weekend. Cooking and baking generally boost my spirit, and having the house smell like baked apples and cinnamon as fall is fast approaching, well — that’s a pretty good bonus.

I have been looking for some easy grab-and-go snacks for Prim lately, as we have fallen into the rut of consuming the same snacks day-in and day-out. The girl eats allll day long, so having plenty of snacks on hand is crucial. She’s in a bit of a picky phase, so any time I can sneak in anything mildly healthy I try to take advantage.

These muffins are a great dessert, but given that they’re pretty low in sugar, they’ve mostly been serving as a snack in our house. They come together quickly and make exactly 12 muffins — two things that are somewhat essential right now, given that I only have one muffin tin and very limited time where I can be out of eyesight of Lark now that she’s semi-mobile.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins

makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used whole)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • big pinch of nutmeg
  • big pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup unpacked raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Whisk together oats, applesauce, milk, vanilla, egg, melted butter, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and raisins.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring just to combine (don’t overmix).
  5. Spoon into muffin cups or a greased muffin tin, then bake for 10-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Modifications

  • You could probably use 1/4 of cup maple syrup or 1/6 cup (about 2 2/3 tbsp) to a scant 1/4 cup of honey in place of the sugar, but you may need to decrease the amount of milk by a couple teaspoons if you take this option. (Though it may be so minimal that it won’t make much difference.)
  • UPDATE ON SUGAR ALTERNATIVES: I have made these with one ripe banana in place of the sugar and with 1/4 cup maple syrup in place of the sugar. Both work well if you modify the recipe use 1/4 tsp salt and a scant 1/2 cup of milk. The banana addition wasn’t my favorite, but my kids gobbled up the muffins (so maybe it’s the best of both worlds — kid-friendly and sugar free, but not tasty enough for me to dive into after they’re in bed. Ha.) The maple syrup in place of the sugar tasted almost identical to me, so if that’s your jam — go for it!
  • Subbing coconut oil for butter shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Feel free to add dried cranberries or nuts in place of the raisins — both should work well.