Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Minor Successes

Last night's plan to divide the babies up was a smashing success! In this smashing success we all got a small amount of sleep! At one point I slept for more than one hour consecutively!

Tomato Salad with Rice Vinegar and Basil

After a long day of baby-minding, and napping, I snapped to work in getting dinner together starting with a tomato salad with a yellow tomato from the Greenmarket, red tomato from the farm share, rice vinegar, salt, pepper, and my mother's basil.

Rigatoni with Garlic, Summer Squash, Basil, Onion, Broccoli, and Cauliflower

For the main dish I cooked up some garlic, onion, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower and cauliflower then tossed in some cooked rigatoni with fresh basil.

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA

For a drink I poured this Snake Dog IPA from Flying Dog Brewery. After having their Wildeman Farmhouse Ale I was anxious to try another of their brews and this was was nice. It was a slightly chalky-tasting IPA which went nicely with tonight's light dinner.

Sisters and Brothers and Drinks

For the ladies I made Aperol Spritzes, a drink that was on Jen's list of drinks she wanted to have after she gave birth. It had been such a long time since I made this that we had to look up the ingredients which sent Lisa and I walking to the wine store in town to pick up some Prosecco. The drink was met with a warm response from Jen's sisters.

The babies' response was more tepid. Once they figured out we were taking a ten minute break to have dinner they both started fussing until we attended to their needs which seemed to be nothing more than holding them and making sure we were not enjoying an uninterrupted meal.

With the success of last night I'm excited to try these new sleeping arrangements again this evening. However, if there is one thing I've learned so far it's that what works today does not necessarily work tomorrow. With all the fussing they've done at various points throughout today I'm sure things could change pretty quickly overnight. Especially after we treat them to another bath this evening.

I've also learned that things are much easier with two live-in helpers.

Go figure.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Grand New Plan

I raced home today to give Jen a break. With Jen's mum leaving this afternoon and her sister not due in until this evening I want to try to get her at least a couple of hours of sleep before dinner.

2012 Stone Ledge Farm Share (Week 8)

After going to sleep I gave Lisa the con while I headed out to pick up this week's farm share.

This week we got a head of Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, a pound of tomatillos, two eggplants, a pound of summer squash, a basket of cherry tomatoes, a pound of slicing tomatoes, two red onions, a bunch of baby carrots, a bunch of Starbor kale, a bunch of basil, a bunch of thyme, okra, a basket of blackberries, a basket of peaches, and a bag of nectarines.

After returning home and grilling up some corn and poblano peppers I came inside to find that Lauren had arrived. I gave them both a quick coaching session then left them with the babies while I tried to get dinner ready.

Aunt Lauren with Elliott, Aunt Lisa with Martin: Professionals

I checked up on them periodically. Everything seemed to be totally under control.

Nine Vines Moscato (2011)

After sitting down at the table I poured Lauren another of the Kool Aid style wines that she likes so much.

Southern Tier Brewing Company IPA

Jen, Lisa, and I had this IPA from Southern Tier Brewing Company. This was a really nice IPA, a fine accompaniment to our dinner. It took me a really long time to make dinner. I need to get used to how to make dinner while getting constantly interrupted to feed, burp, and change one baby or another.

I don't even want to consider what it will be like when it is just Jen and me here. I'm pretty sure the babies will make short work of us.

It's been nice knowing you all.

Vegan Tacos

For dinner I made a cabbage slaw with cabbage, chilies from Lauren's garden, carrot, salt, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, red onion, lime, and a splash of hot sauce.

I also made a salad with black beans, grilled corn, grilled poblano peppers, heirloom tomato, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, red onion, lime, olive oil, and hot sauce.

I grilled up some corn tortillas from Hot Bread Kitchen and made tacos with sliced avocado and lime.

Brownie Sundae with Fresh Blackberries

For dessert we had a brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and fresh blackberries from the farm. The farm told us that we needed to use the berries "immediately" so I tried to shovel as many of them as possible into my face before going to bed.

Tonight we have devised a cunning plan which we hope will finally defeat these little baby beasts! I am going to sleep in the living room with Elliott while Lauren and Lisa try their hand with Martin in the nursery.

Divide and conquer. Or divide and be conquered. Only the dawn will tell the true tale.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sweet & Sour

One thing the NICU nurses told us is that just as we figured out what works the babies would switch places on us. A week or two ago Elliott was the great sleeper and Martin was not but recently the roles have reversed. Martin was good natured and Elliott was crabby.

One was sweet, one was sour.

Sweet and Sour Eggplant with Rice

So it was that tonight I decided to make this sweet and sour eggplant with roasted bell peppers. (You're welcome for that awesome segue). I roasted a red and yellow bell pepper over the burner on the stove. I covered them in a bowl to steam them to make them easier to peel. This was all done last night. Tonight I called Jen and asked her to prepare the eggplant from the farm by peeling it and cubing it. She sprinkled it with salt and pepper, then let them sit for ten minutes, then rinsed them and squeezed the excess moisture from them, and coated them in a little sesame and canola, roasted them in the oven until browned. I then combined them with the chopped peppers with some garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch.

Auntie Lisa with Elliott and Martin

This morning Auntie Lisa arrived on her first visit out to meet and snuggle some babies. On this particular visit Martin was sweet and Elliott was sour. When I got home from work Elliott was the sweet one, silently sleeping in his crib. Then, in a fit of rage, he declared it was his time to eat. The only problem was he didn't want to eat, he just wanted to whine and cry about how he was hungry and how these annoying adults kept trying to stick a bottle filled with food in his mouth. Didn't they know that he was trying to complain about being hungry?


Founders Brewing Company Centennial IPA

After he finally fed I enjoyed the remainder of my Centennial IPA from Founders Brewing Co. It's the perfect beer to enjoy whilst watching the mothers of Olympic gymnasts freaking out in the stands as they watch their sons and daughters' routines. This was a tasty, tasty IPA but now that the new thing is not getting any sleep I'm pretty much ready to pass out after one beer.

Okay, so I was pretty much ready to pass out after one beer before the boys were born. Now, however, I have an excuse to be tired. Getting forty-five minutes of sleep in a night, in my opinion, gives you license to pretty much do whatever you want.

"Sorry, officer. I thought those TVs were free on account of my exhaustion and all."

Nate: 1, Best Buy: 0.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Good Friends Bring Food

This morning I woke up nice and early so that I could watch the Olympic cycling men's road race. I was cheering for Alexandre Vinokourov and was excited to see him win the gold. My waking up early was entirely due to my love of Olympic road cycling and had nothing to do with the fact that the babies had another awful night.

I give the guys a D- for last night. Poor work, gentlemen.

Salmon Salad Sandwich with Avocado, Tomato, Chips, and Mustard Pickles

After watching the conclusion of the race and having Jen awake from the brief sleep she was allowed I made up some lunch. I took last night's leftover salmon and made it into a salad with red onion, scallion from the farm, a little mayonnaise, whole grain mustard, and hot sauce. I put it on toasted bread with sliced avocado and sliced tomato I got at the Greenmarket.

Jocelyn (with Elliott), Matt, Katie (with Martin), Jen, and Jennie

This afternoon the babies got a visit from friends who were kind enough to hold and snuggle the babies until it was time for me to go change their poopy diapers. I was envious of them because I remember being them. I remember going to visit friends with babies, holding them for fifteen minute and thinking, "Huh, this isn't so bad. I could do this."

I was a fool.

Then the baby would cry, I'd hand it back to the mother or father and mosey on home.

Vegetarian Casserole

I love to cook. You may have gathered that from the last seven or eight hundred blog entries. However, there is nothing better with two newborn babies than having friends come to visit and bringing food. Time is precious and this gives me more time to focus on changing poopy diapers, burping, sleeping for fifteen minute increments, or staring blankly at a wall in a fit of exhaustion.

Matt made this vegetarian casserole with vegetable crumble, beans, and some sort of cornmeal crust. It was very tasty. He said his father calls it "Indian Goulash" but that he has adapted it as "Native American Goulash." Goulash seems like an odd term for such a dish but this was nice and tasty and the leftovers will be thoroughly enjoyed for lunch tomorrow.

2010 Agustinos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Our friends were also kind enough to bring wine, this 2010 cabernet from Agustinos in Chile. I had a glass but, of course, dinner would not be complete without another trip to the beer cellar.

Weyerbacher Blanche

For beer I poured this Blanche from Weyerbacher. I was a little surprised at how subtle the flavor was in this beer. There was no alcohol percentage listed on the bottle but I'd imagine it was 5% or lower. It was nice and very refreshing but I'd have expected a little more flavor from the style. Perhaps at 6-7% that could be accomplished. At any rate it would be a great beer if you were planning on drinking more than one on a hot summer day.

I'm a light weight so I can't imagine drinking more than one. Who drinks two beers? Rock stars and wreckless fools, that's who.

Nanaimo Bars

Our friend Jennie was also kind enough to research and bake us a Canadian treat: Nanaimo Bars. These are some of my all time favorite dessert bars from the home country and Jennie's take on them was faithful and delicious.

Ah, friends. It's great getting delicious food and not having to do anything about it. While we were glad to see them and grateful for the food it is a little scary that someday these babies' novelty might fade and we will be greeted with far less help from families and fewer dinners prepared for us.

We will be on our own and it is terrifying.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wild Salmon, Wild Babies

Jen was kind enough to let me sleep tonight. I think she felt bad for me after seeing me drag my sorry body across our front lawn last night as I returned home from work, a broken man.

I was only supposed to sleep until 2:00 AM last night but she didn't wake me. I remember waking up at 3:00 AM, realizing what was happening, and attempting to drag my body off the bed to relieve her. Unfortunately, I collapsed halfway through getting off the bed in a haze of exhaustion and slept until 7:00 AM.

Jen and Jen's mum then spent all day with the babies. Apparently there was a lot of fussing, gas, and poop-explosions today that I missed.

Baby Rotation (Part 1)

Martin likes to rotate around in his crib during the day. While my mother-in-law was cleaning up he had worked himself perpendicular to Elliott, something he does quite often.

Baby Rotation (Part 2)

After cleaning for a bit more she found that he had done a full 180 degree rotation, a new record for his short life. I can only imagine this makes things more difficult for him since one of his favorite pastimes is kicking his little brother in the head while he sleeps.

It's spooky how he does this because you never see him moving. You just look away then look back and he has made some degree of rotation. He's like those evil angel statues in Doctor Who except less evil.

And more snuggly.

Chiogga Beet Salad with Sun Gold Tomatoes, Marcona Almonds, and Balsamic Glaze

After getting home I had a very short amount of time to put together dinner. It was a race against our hunger and knowing that the babies are programmed to spoil dinner by waking up in the middle of it no matter what time we start.

I made this salad of Chiogga beets from the farm with Marcona almonds, Sun Gold tomatoes, balsamic glaze, and baby greens with olive oil.

Roasted Wild Coho Salmon

For the main course I cooked down some onion and garlic in olive oil and butter then tossed in some summer squash, chives from my mother's garden, salt, and pepper.

I got a really nice piece of wild Alaskan salmon, squeezed a little lemon juice on it, dusted it with salt and pepper, spread chopped lemon basil from the farm over the top, and drizzled it with olive oil before roasting it.

I am proud to say that my mother-in-law, who declared her dislike for summer squash, went back for seconds.

Shipyard Brewery Monkey Fist IPA

For beer I celebrated my mother-in-law's extreme hatred of monkeys with this Monkey Fist IPA from Shipyard Brewing Company in Maine. This was a really nice IPA with a rich amber color. However, I almost think that a Bud Light would have been welcome after two full days of work and very little sleep.

Okay, I admit that was hyperbole.

2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony

After dinner we settled down to the Olympic opening ceremony. Jen's mum hated the opening ceremony just about as much as anyone in the world could hate anything. I don't think she minded the parade of nations so much but she could have dealt with 100% less ridiculous reenactment of this history of Britain.

Four years ago we watched the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in our stuffy New York City apartment the day before leaving for our honeymoon. Today we watched it in our cozy, air conditioned suburban apartment while soothing our newborn babies.

Four years from now I hope to introduce the guys to Animalympics, the greatest movie about the Olympics ever made.

Having kids is going to make it so much easier to convince Jen it is okay for me to watch cartoons.

Why else have children?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The First Barbecue, The First Bath

Now that I've returned to work my days off are much less relaxing than they were a year ago but, surprisingly, more relaxing than a few months ago. While feeding, changing, rocking, and burping babies is a lot of work it is much more satisfying than painting, building, moving, and buying things for the babies' room.

The room that we have really not used as of yet.

Babies: Sleeping in Sync

Jen had an ambitious idea tonight: have dinner outside with the babies. Normally they just lie in their crib and oddly flip around and duplicate the position of the other.

While dinner outside has always been something of a chore involving the carting of lots of ingredients and dishes out to the back of the house, the addition of carting the babies seemed a bit daunting but once in their car seats (a process they still hate) they were able to "join" us for dinner. This means they slept in their seats while we ate.

Grilled Halloumi with Lemon and Honey

We started out with some grilled halloumi, honey, and lemon, served up with grilled sliced Italian bread.

Grilled Vegetable Skewers Over Spaghetti with Beet Greens and Garlic

I took some leftover spaghetti and tossed it with wilted beet greens, and chopped garlic. Over the topped I served grilled vegetable skewers with squash, eggplant, red pepper, onion, and garlic.

Avocado Salad with Tomato, Red Onion, and Lemon Basil

I also made a salad with field tomatoes, avocado, red onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon basil from the farm.

Breckenridge Brewery Summer Bright Ale

For beer Jen enjoyed the remainder of the Sorachi Ace from last night, a beer right up her alley. I had this Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado. This was a very nice summer beer but it's hard to follow up the Sorachi Ace.

Man Vintners 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

For Jen's mum I poured this 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from MAN Vintners. I also enjoyed a finger or two after dinner as we enjoyed a little time in the fresh air, a rare luxury these days.

Elliott's First Bath

Martin's First Bath

After dinner it was time to give the babies their first real bath. This was like some sort of grotesque horror show. The guys just flopped around in the foam baby bath in the sink, occasionally curling up in one corner and looking up at us like wounded, terrified little animals.

It's really hard to put such tiny little guys through so much grief even when you know it is the right thing. Pretty much every step of having babies so far is only made easier to live with knowing they'll have no memory of it when they grow older.

It must be really scary when they get old enough that you can't fall back on that simple fact.

Elliott's First Bath

After his bath, Elliott calmed down pretty quickly.

Martin's First Bath

Martin, on the other hand, still looked at me with a murderous rage in his eyes.

"One day, Daddy. One day you will pay for what happened here today!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Giant Babies

When I leave the house I see babies everywhere. Giant babies! Regular sized babies are freaking me out right now. They're so damned big! Every corner I turn there is some chunky, hulking, bruiser in a stroller. The baby must be ten or eleven pounds! How do you deal with babies that big?

Example Baby on Baby Bjorn Box

For an example, here's the giant mammoth they put on the Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance box. This item was recommended to us as an amazing unit to use to sooth fussy babies.

Elliott in GIANT Baby Bjorn Seat

Here's Elliott on his inaugural ride in the Babysitter Balance. The waist harness rubbing against his forehead just seemed to make him all the more cranky.

2012 Stone Ledge Farm Share (Week 7)

I returned to work yesterday. That was really difficult. I was so exhausted after staying up all night with the babies, and Jen picking up the farm share, that I couldn't even bring myself to unpack the bags and take a proper picture. I just came home, took a picture, then sat around all cranky before going to bed.

This week we got two pounds more of summer squash, an eggplant, some Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, a bunch of Chiogga beets with greens, scallions, sage, lemon basil, Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, and blueberries.

Paul with Martin Caolan with Martin

Tonight we got a visit from Aunt Caolan and Uncle Paul. Not only did they come to visit the babies but they brought dinner. We were thinking of instituting a rule whereby people needed to pay admission to see the babies and this would be in the form of dinner so that we could have a second's rest. Caolan and Paul had such foresight that they did this without even having to be notified of the changes to our policies and procedures!

2007 Vintage Cremant de Bordeaux Rose Brut (Les Cordeliers)

To celebrate our dinner guests I opened this bottle of 2007 Cremant de Bordeaux that we'd miraculously been able to sneak home from France last year much to the chagrin of our liquid-averse TSA.

Local Tomatoes with Feta, Olive Oil, and Mom's Garden Sage

I put out a salad with some tomatoes I got at the market, feta, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage that my mother brought from her garden last weekend.

Caolan's Baked Macaroni & Cheese

The main course was macaroni and cheese made by Caolan which was fantastic. The babies even kept quiet for five or ten minutes so that we could enjoy dinner with our friends. Well, I don't actually think they had any intention of giving us any peace and quiet. It just worked out that way. It's nice to imagine that they are that thoughtful.

Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace

For a drink I had this Sorachi Ace from Brooklyn Brewery. I've been eyeballing this beer for years now and I finally just picked up a bottle yesterday to have with dinner. After trying their Oishi at the brewery a few months back I was even more excited to try it and it did not disappoint. It had a wonderful citrus taste from the hops and beautiful carbonation streaming up from the bottom of the glass.

Sugar Plum and Peach Cobbler

The boys were a little difficult this afternoon. Jen and her mum still managed to find time to make this crisp with sugar plums and peaches from the farm. Reportedly it took 90 minutes for them to put it together but still a great accomplishment that they were able to do anything at all with the babies in Full Fuss Mode.

Martin & Elliott with Paul & Caolan's Gifts

After dinner the boys were showered with gifts by Paul and Caolan. They were able to restrain their excitement in this photo but I could tell they were psyched.

My only regret about today is that I just couldn't have more than one glass of that tasty beer for fear of passing out.

Nate Asleep with Martin (At Least Someone is Sleeping)

Though one glass was plenty. Martin managed to stay awake though.

That's good because he was my designated snuggler.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Visit, The Walk, The Pose

As we thought a few weeks ago it is hard to remember back to what our life was like then. It's weird to think that even at the beginning of July we had a life that was so wildly different from our life now that it bears almost no resemblance to how we are currently living.

The Wombats Asleep

Look at them. So precious. So innocent. How can two little guys possibly destroy one's spirits the way they did to their father last night?

I'm not sure but they certainly did. Last night was a never-ending battle of feeding, spitting up, wetting through diapers, fussing, and crying that was not to be believed. It resulted in Jen and I taking shifts (or as I call them, "Shifts of Misery) where one of us slept and the other tended to their copious needs.

Why were they such trouble?

Nana STIM & Martin, Grandpa Butch & Elliott

It could have been the visit from their Nana STIM and Grandpa Butch yesterday. They must have been so worked up and overjoyed by the visit that they were up all night celebrating the all day party in their honor.

Grandparents at 75% Power

With grandparent power at 75% power yesterday it was a pretty big day for the guys.


Joel Gott 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

While the babies slept the adults enjoyed pizza, wine, and conversation (mostly about babies).

Le Tour de Beaudry 2012 Results

After the night from hell I got a small window of sleep from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM and stumbled into the living room to watch the final day of the Tour de France. Jen, as predicted, has solidly routed me and my cousins in our fantasy league.

Grandma and Mommy on The Wombats' First Walk

After watching the Tour conclusion we took the boys out on their first ever stroller jaunt around the neighborhood. They spent 100% of the time asleep so, in that regard, it was a very successful trip. Undoubtedly there will be trips in the future that we wish went this smoothly.

Crappy Leftover Dinner

I don't really know why I bother bringing up dinner anymore but through force of habit I feel I should mention that tonight's dinner was not really too inventive. I suspect this will be a common theme in the coming months. All we really had was leftover Caesar salad from last night's pizza, reheated spaghetti with meat sauce, leftover zucchini crusted cod, and some caprese salad from the other night.

Martin & Elliott (2 Weeks Old)

After dinner we celebrated the boys' two week birthday with cupcakes from the new bakery down the street along with party hats made by Jen. Luckily it took absolutely no work at all to pose the boys for their birthday picture. This was a completely candid and unstaged photo.

Well, if they're going to keep us up all night we should at least have unlimited rights to pose them in whatever stupid positions we see fit.

That, after all, is the parental privilege.