Matteo's First Birthday Party

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pesto greeting the guests.
Ugly dry cakes.  But hey, Matteo was impressed!
A rainbow colored costume party with $20.00 worth of decor (streamers and balloons.)  Really good food (salmon and chicken kabobs from Grill Hut). Red wine served at 10:30am with no shame. No games, favors or planned activities whatsoever, except the awesome balloon artist who kept everyone entertained (my one and only splurge).  My paleo cakes came out a little dry and ugly, but that's alright. 

wake up birthday boy!  the party's already begun!
It was the best party I've ever thrown.  Know why?  Because I've finally learned the key to throwing parties, at least for an HSP like myself.  Parties are about relationships.  Just being festive with family and friends.  A chance for doting aunties and grandmas to snuggle with the birthday boy and celebrate his first year of life.  Parties should not be stressful.  Not for anyone, especially the birthday boy.  Even Matteo had a blast!  

I felt like such a rebel!  Like a total bada$$.  As someone who used to make events beautiful for a living, it's not easy for me to throw out all the high expectations of what makes a "good" party.  But I've changed so much in the last few years.  My home and my life are so much simpler, so why shouldn't my parties be?  I suddenly felt united with the mothers of yesteryear.  Those moms who just slapped up some streamers, blew up a few balloons, defrosted a Sarah Lee, and put out a bowl of punch. Those moms knew how to party. 

I wouldn't have been able to do it without my awesome party planner, Sisi!!!  She decided everything, from the colors to the food to the theme.  She helped me bake the cakes and paint the posters.  It was a great way to give her a little ownership over the party, which helped to curb the jealousy factor. After all, it's the first birthday party in the house that hasn't revolved around her.  And even more importantly, it was a way to keep my hands off.  My parties tend to start off small, and get crazier and more complex as they draw near.  Sisi knew what was really important, so we stuck with that. 


I've decided to throw parties every other year, alternating between Matteo and Sisi.  Since both their birthdays are right around the holidays, I can't realistically do both.  I will definitely make it easy on myself and let the kids plan their own parties from now on.  They are way better at this than I am!!!


Matteo is 1 Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

My rosy-cheeked, crooked-smile baby turned one last week.  I didn't even cry or get emotional.  I just feel proud!  I am so proud of how he is growing, and how he explores the world around him. How content and centered he is.  I'm proud of him just for being Matteo, his own precious and unique self. Matteo is such a cuddler.  We spent much of the year hard-core nuzzling.  Sniffing each other, resting cheek to cheek.  Long nursing sessions where he gazes into my eyes and never pulls away first.  He would probably nurse for an hour if he could.

I remember feeling a sense of regret and sadness when Sisi turned 1.  I really struggled through the first year emotionally, and felt like I missed so much.  I am so relieved to say that this year was the opposite.  This was actually the most balanced, calm, centered year of my life.  Isn't that crazy?  It wasn't without sleepless nights, meltdowns, sibling rivalry.  We also lost my kids' only Grandpa, which was devastating.  But overall, a sense of peace and confidence reigned in me and my household.  I think we finally found our rhythm, and Matteo fell into it so naturally.

It's so neat to watch him climb the bridge that Joe made for Sisi three Christmases ago.  

Matteo at a Glance:

  •  At his doctor visit a few weeks ago, he was 18.5 lbs.  Still pretty small, but climbing up the charts.  He is outgrowing his 12 month clothes, at least length-wise! He is 50th percentile for height, 10th for weight. 
  • His crawling is more efficient and symmetrical now.  Starting to climb onto low things like the doggy beds.  Standing up, but on tip toes and bent over like a hunchback. No cruising yet. 
  • He's very task-oriented these days and will repeat the same procedure fifty times until he gets it right.  I watched him replace the cap to his bottle over and over for a good 10 minutes, a proud grin on his face each time he was successful.  
  • Little scientist.  Loves to thoroughly explore an object from all angles.  If I pour a stream of water into the bath, he will put his hand in at the top, then the bottom, repeat 10 times, then stick his face in and decide he's not going to do that again.  
  • Right handed I think (unlike Sisi and Joe and the many other left-handed relatives we have.) 
  • Loves to groove to fast music.  Flails his arms and legs rhythmically and pants like a dog to the beat.
  • Favorite toys are a toothbrush with a smidge of toothpaste on it, dog toys, and books.  
  • Foods:  becoming pickier about some types of fish, but still eats almost anything we give him. His recent favorites are meatballs, chicken drumsticks, sweet potatoes, guacamole, tuna salad, and any kind of fruit.  
  • Words:  still mama, dada, dog dog, and now has added "yeah" to his repertoire. 
  • Amazing self-control.  He will crawl toward the Christmas tree or the dog water bowl ready to make mischief.  But if I tell him, "No, Matteo.  Please don't touch," he will look at me, shake his head no, and stay away from it.  It amazes me every time! 

 I love you to pieces, sweet boy.  Here's to another magical year!


Matteo is 11 Months!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

This month was major for Mattay.  He grew up so much.  He bonded with Daddy while I was on my one week trip to Costa Rica.  While I was gone, he began crawling on hands and knees.  He now prefers to scoot forward  on his tush while propelled by one foot and one knee.  It's a bizarre way to get around, but it works! 

These pictures were taken a few minutes after he crawled off this chair and face-planted into the tile floor.  Yes, I turned my back for a few seconds to grab the camera.  I'm sooo sorry boo boo! But you can see from these pics that he bounces back quickly. He is such a resilient, sweet (and forgiving) baby.

Matteo at a glance:
  • A male cashier at Target remarked, "His eyes are so fascinating.  It's like he's looking right into my soul. Where'd he get eyes like that?"  
  • Just like that, at exactly 11 months, his hair stopped sticking up.  I guess it got so long and heavy that it could no longer defy gravity.  
  • He can say "dada" and "mama" and Joe swears he said "dog dog" but I was not there to verify. I think he can say "baba" for bottle but time will tell.
  • 6 teeth!  4 on top, 2 on bottom.  He is a moderate teether- typically gets a low fever and might have trouble falling back to sleep.  But nothing too dramatic.
  • Sleeping well through the night.  One short nap in the morning, one longer in the afternoon typically.
  • Growing, finally! Haven't weighed him in a while, but he fits into 12 month clothes just fine, so I assume he is on track now. 
  • Nursing 6 times a day to build my supply back up after my trip.  Also having a small bottle of raw goat's milk to supplement.  
  • Now on 3 solid meals a day.  Breakfast is "baby smoothie"- raw egg yolk, goat kefir and fruit blended.  Lunch is puree or bits of whatever cheese, meat, and vegetables Sisi is eating.  Dinner is some kind of meat/fish, some veggies, and fruit for dessert.  
  • He seems to be getting pickier about food.  He just spits out what he doesn't want or is unable to swallow, which makes our dogs Pesto and Basil very happy.  He is still a remarkable eater though. 
  • Fascinated by doors and gates, dog water bowls, and the water draining into the tub. 
  • He barely noticed I was gone for a week in Costa Rica. He enjoyed his adventures and outings with his daddy so much, and drank all his bottles like a champ.  When I came home, he stared at me like I was a ghost, like, "You look familiar, lady, but I can't put my finger on it."  Then he buried his face in Joe's chest and wouldn't look at me for a few minutes.  When I tried to nurse him he kept biting down and forgot what to do.  Then it came back to him, he settled into my lap, and remembered that I am his mommy.   Didn't realize I was so dispensable! jk.  
  • He sometimes puts sand or pebbles in his mouth, but takes them back out with his fingers.  I believe you should let babies figure out what is edible or not by themselves.  I realized that if you are always reaching into their mouths to grab stuff away from them, you add stress and confusion to the situation, and make them want to do it more.  
I can't believe we have only 1 more monthly update left!  The other day, Sisi and I had a party planning meeting for Matteo's 1st Birthday.  I brewed some tea and toasted some paleo bread with strawberry jam, and Sisi decided on colors (rainbow), theme (costume party), decor (balloons and streamers) refreshments (cheese platter, lamb and steak kabobs, salad), and cake (vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.)  It won't be pinterest-worthy, but it will be swell and heartfelt!  

Matteo crawling from kristin brancaleone on Vimeo.


Matteo is 10 Months!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I've been told he looks like a baby Marlon Brando.  He is dreamy, isn't he?

I adore him from spiky head to tiny curled toes. Knowing that he's probably my last baby, I am savoring him.  When I rock him or nurse him, I sniff him, kiss him, rub noses, and rub my cheek against his cheek with a big smile on my face. Maybe it's overkill, but I don't want to take his delicious babyness for granted.

Matteo at a Glance:
  • Growing!  Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I am able to give him a few extra ounces of breastmilk a day.  Even that small amount has made a difference in his chub factor and his demeanor.  
  • Scooting around on his belly across the room.  Has ventured out of his room a few times at Sisi's prompting (she sets up little toy "rewards" along the way).  But still not that ambitious about moving around.    
  • As of today, pulls to standing, but still very wobbly!  
  • Eating like a champ! Two solid meals plus 5 or 6 nursings/bottles a day. His recent culinary adventures include blood sausage, lamb brain puree, and ahi poke.  Now he prefers small bits he can feed himself over purees.  Good pincer grasp- even able to pick up those slippery salmon eggs. 
  • Sleeping miraculously well. 
  • Currently in the thick of Wonder Week 46.  Not seeing too much clinginess or moodiness right now.  Only  a few abnormal behaviors that I've noticed- he's crying himself to sleep lately, which is unusual.  He's so tired that the crying only lasts a few minutes and then he's out.  Also, he seems extra sensitive to loud noises (especially his sister's random outbursts.)  
  • 4 teeth!  Sicilian gap tooth coming through :)
  • Claps with one hand and one fist. 
  • Imitating some consonant sounds.  For example, when I say Sisi, he will say "sss, sss, sss".
  • Separation anxiety has melted away. For now, he's easy to pass around and doesn't mind being babysat.  This can change at any time. 

This video is kind of boring, but I've found that the videos I cherish most over the years are the ones of everyday life.  The everyday expressions, movements, and sounds that you can't consciously remember. When you see them on video, your heart remembers and you're brought back to those moments.  And then you cry because time is marching on way too fast.  

Matteo and Siena 10/2015 from kristin brancaleone on Vimeo.


Matteo is 9 Months!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

9 months in the belly, 9 months out! Can barely remember life without Matteo. And pregnancy seems like eons away.

Matteo is expressing his opinions more now (lots of baby tantrums!) and is quite vocal about his needs.  But he is able to calm himself down pretty quickly.  His mood changes every minute. He's been a bit clingy- always wants either me, Sisi or Joe playing near him.  It's a little hard on me because at this age, Sisi was happy to play on her own for long stretches in her crib or playpen. I was a little spoiled. Matteo is not on board with "alone time" most days! But we're still working on it.  

It's been a month of incredible sleep.  No complaints in the sleep department right now, as little guy has finally resumed sleeping through the night consistently.  Round of applause!

As a mom, it's hard to admit when you need help, but I may have to reach out for some breastmilk donations soon.  Teo is healthy, but verrrry small.  He's not gaining much weight from month to month. His pediatrician was not concerned, but I am a little.  He almost always cries when I'm done nursing him, and I wonder if he's not satisfied.  My instinct is telling me I need to supplement.  I'm trying to boost my supply but not seeing a lot of improvement.   I should totally be ok with this, since I supplemented with Sisi around 9 months too.  It's my pride and perfectionism that is telling me I must do it all myself.  He's my last baby and it's my last chance to prove myself!  But prove what? Mommy guilt is the worst! I'm working on it.

Matteo at a Glance:

  • 3 teeth!
  • Recently able to chew and swallow some more solid foods, like ground beef, caviar, sardines, salmon, cheese, and melon.  Still spoonfed most meals. Recent favorite purees are steak with asparagus and white sweet potato, beets with pork, and lamb liver with sweet potatoes and cinnamon.   
  • Sushi lover!  Devoured uni (raw sea urchin) and salmon eggs.  I think uni is the PERFECT baby food- it's slightly sweet, mushy, creamy, and packed with healthy fats and nutrients.  
  • Started scooting on his belly, but not very efficiently.  Sometimes he accidentally scoots backwards and gets mad about it.  Nowhere near crawling yet!
  • Sitting up well unsupported.  Still tips over once in a while.
  • Drinks water from a straw! I discovered this on accident when I let him play with my iced tea.
  • We haven't pushed Sisi to embrace her new brother. We've been patient while she works out her mixed emotions. We are delighted to say that even though they were off to a rocky start, we're seeing evidence of strong bonding.  She has been so tender and helpful lately.  Sisi has started asking to bathe with Matteo, and loves to pet his fuzzy head, brush his hair, and feed him bits of food.  The best part is that it's truly coming from her heart, with no pressure or prompting from us.  Kids are pretty amazing if you give them time to shine.
  • My hairy Italian boy- peach fuzz on the face, furry eyebrows, and a slight mustache.  
  • Has started bopping up and down to the beat of music with a goofy smile on his face.  Loves when I sing "Winnie the Pooh".
  • Totally doesn't mind the carseat now, but not a fan of the stroller.  It's a good thing he's so tiny because it's still doable to wear him a lot.