Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebrating Obama's Big Win

The next morning, of course.  It's wonderful to tell my children how America elected a President who believes in equality for ALL people.  And they are old enough they are going to remember him.  Warms my heart.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rolling with the Punches

There's a lot going on over here in Pufferville (there always is) and I'm going to try to play catch up in 20 minutes.

First of all, for those of you who have participated in my poll, thank you.  At the time of the poll it certainly did look as if we might jump the gun and leave in February.
However, life in the Big Apple changes quickly and new opportunities--hardly punches--have come our way.  Chicken got herself

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Hits Just Keep Coming

I know everyone thinks their kids say the darndest things and I agree.
Kids DO say some amazing things.
I'm sharing these more so I don't forget how wonderful and imaginative they are at this age, but I hope they provide you a smile or laugh as well.


  • On observing the letter 'C':  "They busted

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Kids Will Only Nap in the Stroller

Everything comes full circle. When they were babies they would only nap in the stroller and so I walked and walked and walked. Rain or shine. Snow or sweat. And now, here we are again. 
A stroller walk was the only thing that got them to sleep today. Too bad it's 5pm. 
The stroller is heavy, it hurts my wrists and it's the lovely wet, cold, dark time of year--but I think stroller walks are back on.  Ah well, I need more exercise.

An old lady had the nerve

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspiration for Family Travel

Dream a Little Dream.  

No, that's not quite right.  Dream a BIG dream.  Why not?  Make it the biggest, best dream and then set a plan to fulfill that dream.  I've known from the time I was a small girl I wanted to travel the world.  At 18, I set out on my own to see the big, wide world and haven't looked back. 
While in South East Asia, I noticed loads of families out traveling with their small children.  They were doing things and going places with kids in tow.  It had never occurred to me that was a possibility.  I had thought of travel as something you do before children or after, not during.  When I met this family (photos below) while scuba diving off a remote and completely rustic Thai island, a lightbulb went off and a new dream was in the making.

 Upper Deck of the Boat and the 3-year-old is asleep on the deck, so close to the edge.  Blew my mind.
Scuba Diving Family Who Changed My Life

Even though my partner and I didn't have any children and I had no idea when we would start a family, there was one thing I did know for sure:  We would travel with them.  We would start traveling when they were young and we would never stop.

By the time we depart with our boys and make our way to Thailand, it will be 10 years since I met the family pictured above.  I don't know who they are or where they are from.  I know nothing about them at all.  But I have gazed at these photos year after year as I dreamed my dream.

Thank you, whoever you are, for inspiring me and giving me hope.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Spinach Ricotta Bites--Gluten Free

Do your kids each spinach?  Mine do...sort of.
I never thought I'd be 'that' mom who hid vegetables in food, but I do what have to do.  The twins are the pickiest eaters, but they also are pretty normal toddlers who are resistant to trying things that are green.
Luckily there are loads of ways to incorporate healthy green into tasty dishes that will not only have your kids eating vegetables, but asking for more.
These are a favorite with my wife and kids.  I hope you'll love them, too.

Spinach Ricotta Bites - adapted from Weelicious



  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (low or full fat ricotta will work)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained well (i use my hands to squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and cook the onions for 4 minutes until tender.
  3. 3. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute then set aside to cool.
  4. 4. Whisk eggs in a bowl and stir in ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
  5. 5. Once combined, stir in spinach, salt and cooled onion and garlic mixture.
  6. 6. Pour the mixture into lightly greased mini muffin cups.
  7. 7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and golden on top.
  8. 8. Serve.

Friday, September 7, 2012

How to Handle the Question of Homeschooling

It's back to school time.  Almost everyone I know has posted a photo of their little adorables all ready for their first day of school.
Not me.
They are not going to school.
My boys are 2.6 years old.  Do they need to go to school?
The state of New York says that legally, I don't have to put them into school until Kindergarten.
Of course, there are ways around that with homeschooling, but legally I

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Planning for our Trip--Countries to Visit

I've been asked by so many people, "Where exactly are you going on this big adventure?"

The answer is--we're not 'exactly' sure.
We have a list of places where we'd like to spend time and things we'd like to see, but we don't have the year planned out, nor do we want to.
There will be times we arrive in a place and find ourselves thinking "When can

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gluten Free Almond Cakes

I'm sharing this as I've made these for so many people, they're a big hit and they always ask for the recipe, adapted from Elana's Pantry.
Our family is not gluten free but a number of my friends are and I know it's becoming more and more common.

I have a number of 'pancake' recipes that I make for my toddlers, but I call them 'cakes' because

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Our Travel Lifestyle Goals--VOTE!

**After you read this post, please go to my poll on the right side of this page and VOTE!**

We have many goals to achieve before we set out for a year of travel with our twins.  The biggies are listed below.  There are tons more like scanning documents and selling our stuff and figuring out what to keep and what goes in storage, but that's for another post, a different list.
I wrote previously about our plans for a year of travel with kids, but now I'll break it down even further.

Here's where we stand with one year to go:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Digital Nomads? Location Independent? Vagabonds?

Travel, and how to do it long term, is never far from my thoughts these days.
It's something I've wanted to do with my kids even before I had kids.

Having twins threw a tiny wrench into the plans as it's a wee bit harder to travel with two tiny tots instead of one (and then perhaps, another) but we have managed so far and done quite well.

Now we're gearing up for

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We Have Itty Bitty Titties

Some of the best conversations happen in the dark while in bed.  Don't you agree?  This also applies to toddlers (at least mine).

Last night as I was saying good night to the boys, Max said "You are my mommy".
"Yes, I am."
"You are my MaMaMee!" (They used to call me this before they figured out I was Mommy and Chicken was Mama)
"That's right, I'll always be your mamamee"
"You have boobies."
"Yes, yes I do."
Sebastian pipes up with "You have big ones, but Max and I have

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How not to write a real post when you are so far behind you can't catch up

The summer has flown by and there's just so much to say I honestly don't know where to start.

It's bullets for now plus something new--FB status updates.  Because I can hammer something out on FB but can't manage to get my shit together for a decent post.
Nevertheless, some of these post are just too good not to share.
I'm coming clean with real names because I just don't have the time/energy to care to change them.  Eventually this was going to happen.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Naked Potty Training--Day 5

Things are going pretty well over here.  As good as it can be potty training 2.5 year old twins.  We've been out and about since Day 2 and the travel potties go everywhere we go.  W2 has peed in the middle of a lawn, on a basketball court, on a gravel path, on a sidewalk, and in front of our building.  I *could* start letting him

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summertime in New York City, It's So Much Better at Age 2

I am in love with summer.  Aside from the dog days when the humidity heats its peak and the temps top 90s, it's my favorite season.
Chicken and I decided to have a picnic in the park last night instead of eating dinner inside.  We got lobster rolls from my favorite shack down the street and couldn't wait to share them with the twins.  Last summer they devoured them.  This summer?  They were both too scared that

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Toddler--Potty Training

We've entered nekid potty training bootcamp.  Quite by accident, I must say.  It seems that more than half of the battle of getting W2 dressed...was because he doesn't want to wear a diaper anymore.  This child had little interest in the potty chair last week and this week....
Well, it's just like him.  He did this to

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Toddler Refuses to Get Dressed

Oh Whoop Whoop.  You are such a workout, my strong little boy.
Dressing you has never been...easy.  But lately you have been taking it to the limits.
I'm tired of running around, chasing you, trying to catch you.  I'm tired of you telling me that you'll stand up to get dressed only to have you dash off again.  I'm exhausted trying to hold you down for a diaper, a tshirt, some shorts.
I don't bother getting

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New York City for Kids--Construction Vehicles!

I don't know about your little boys (and maybe girls?) but mine are obsessed with all things that beep, honk, move, dig, push and roll.
This makes NYC a construction vehicle paradise for kids!  You don't have to walk far to find something under construction in this city.  And since we walk miles in our daily life, we see plenty.
It's almost like going to Touch a Truck every single day.

The group of moms here my neighborhood have

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Living with Less

"My life is just plain better than yours.  We have a 5 bedroom house with a yard and you live in a 1 bedroom apartment. Our monthly budget is $9,000 plus vacations and extras."

Can you imagine someone saying that to you?  Comparing who has the better life because of housing size and how much money they make?  Do you compare yourself to others based on these things?

Longtime readers will know that our family

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nothing Say Summer Like a Seer Sucker Suit

I'm terribly behind in blogging--Chicken traveled for one week to the west coast, my mom came to visit and help out that week, the boys got sick, we all traveled upstate and some of us are still a little sick.
There.  All caught up.

Now, for photos of my darling duo with their new suits and haircuts.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lazy Days in Caribbean Costa Rica


We had quite a few rainy days in CR. It rained almost every day at some point, which was fine, but the days where it rained nonstop made us all a bit crazy and desperate.
Of course, it made it a bit more entertaining to photo document a day like that:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Want Big Bed

Grunter is ahead of his brother when it comes to language and always has been.  W2 is catching up, but these days it really is all about the funny things Grunter is saying.

Tonight in the dark as I was saying night night:

"I want different bed."
"What kind of bed?"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaching Toddlers Days of the Week

In my home we don't have strictly set schedules, but we do have a natural rhythm of the day.  This has come about more or less organically as I've allowed the twins to explore the best times for them to play/eat/sleep rather than set my own schedule and make them

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hunting for Chonies (Underwear)

I really need to do a big write-up on how our potty training is going (or rather did not go in Costa Rica).
But I'm thinking that showing the boys real chonies might motivate them more.
Anyway....where do you buy little boy underwear??
This is the cutest stuff I've found.  I love their clothes so it's no surprise that I love their chonies.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

34 Weeks Pregnant with B/G Twins--Update from Amsterdam

A long time ago, I asked your advice for a friend of mine.  After trying to conceive for years and enduring miscarriages, failed IVF's and FET's--she finally did an FET and is pregnant with b/g twins.  She had received a bad N/T scan for one of her twins and was very scared.
Since then, she went on to do an amnio and

Friday, May 4, 2012

Just Another Rainy Day Walk

There's been a lot of rain here this week and the boys are thrilled to be able to wear their rain boots and coats every day.  I am not so thrilled as I'm not the biggest fan of chilly, rainy weather...but they are damn cute in their rain gear.
This season brings a lot of construction in our neighborhood and they gear up the grounds for summer. For the boys, that means getting to watch lots of diggers, tractors and shoveling.  Much better than TV and hours of entertainment!
No matter how many activities I try to plan, I cannot keep these boys inside a full day.  Scratch that, I can't keep them inside even a half day.  Trust me, I tried yesterday and by 10am, they were riot mode yelling, "Out!".  And so out we went.  And it was good.
They keep me from being a hermit on a chilly, rainy day.
And they are really cute (new haircuts!).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kids Say the Cutest Things

Whoop Whoop is passionate.  Oh my goodness that boy is bursting with energy, love, joy and passion. He smiles most of the day and easily breaks out in giggles and shrieks.  It's hard not to smile when you are around him.  But when he's really excited and/or tired, he bites.
It's not a mean thing or an aggressive thing.  He hugs you and he may bite you.  Yesterday he was hugging the pillow and bit a hole in the pillowcase.  He has bitten a hole in my shirt.  We think he just gets so overwhelmed with his enormous amount of passion that he has to release it.
But it hurts.

Last night, he was having one of his moments in the crib where you just knew if you went in for the hug you would risk being bitten.  But oh, it would be a great hug.  The tightest hug and his entire body would tremble and shake because he has such strong feelings.
I said to him, "Whoop Whoop, I really want to give you a good night hug and kiss but I don't want you to bite me.  It scares Mommy when you bite me.  It hurts."
From the dim darkness I heard a little voice pipe up, "I wuf you, Mommy.  Don't be scared.  I won't bite you."
And there is Grunter, arms outstretched over the crib railing reaching towards me.  I turned to pick him up and got the most precious hugs and kisses from him as he told me over and over that he loved me.
Could it get any better than that?
Just then I hear W2, "I wub you, Mommy.  I no bite.  I wub you."

Sweet, sweet little boys.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Transition to Preschool

One of the best parts of our month long trip to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica was enrolling the boys into Seaheart Waldorf Preschool.
Resistant to most of the early learning programs--and associated costs--here in Manhattan, I was eager to explore the Waldorf play-based method and see how my children would respond to 'school', especially a bilingual one.

My (then) 25-month-old twins hadn't had much time away from mommy and the transition to their nanny had been a very long one fraught with many tears.  In October we'd started attending a church that offered a drop off kids center.  It did not go well.  Every week we'd try and every week they would scream and run after us.  But eventually things with the nanny and the church ended up just fine.

But Seaheart was going to be a huge transition.  We were asking a lot of them.  In five days they'd been in a taxi, a plane, a bus, a minivan, a pickup truck, a bike, 2 hotel rooms and 'moved' into a big house.  And they'd done amazingly well with all of it.  We were all frazzled and tired and hot as hell, but the kids were adjusting to their surroundings and having a (mostly) great time.

The director told me weeks later that my boys transitioned faster than any kids she'd ever had.  I was shocked.  And well...a little proud.  I was really worried about them making it 4 days in a row from 8am-noon.  There were days we walked to school and they both said "no school" but when we got there and they saw Bubbles the bunny and especially the chickens--my God they love chickens--it was usually OK.  Sure there were tears--more from Whoop Whoop than Grunter which was the opposite of what we'd expected--but they never lasted long.

There are a few very big things I never expected from motherhood:

  • I never thought I'd have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom.
  • I never thought I'd be one of those moms who hadn't spent a single night (uh, or full day) away from her kids.
  • I never thought I'd breastfeed for a year let alone continue breastfeeding well beyond the 2nd birthday.
  • I never thought I would entertain the idea of homeschooling.

Maybe if an affordable, quality, nature/play-based preschool program were available to us here I would be thinking differently.  In fact, I'm sure I would.
I loved Seaheart, I love the teachers, the volunteers and I loved watching my kids grow in the month they were there.  The place was straight out of a granola fairy tale and if we lived there the boys would continue on.
But we don't live there and we aren't moving there and we can't afford the Waldorf preschool here that charges $25K per child.
And while it was nice to have the 4 hour break every morning, by the time they got home it was time to nap and it left very little quality time with them.  When Friday rolled around, I was really missing my boys.
I'm in a very fortunate position to stay at home and I really can't imagine sending them to a program where they are cooped up inside most days.  Chicken, on the other hand, can't imagine spending every day at home with them!  Which means we both have the right jobs:)
Speaking of Chicken, she's not all aboard the homeschooling train.  But she has agreed that for the early years, it sounds like a good idea (so far).  Who knows, by the time they are 5 years old, maybe I will be ready for them to go to school.
I don't know.  But for now, I'm relishing the idea of keeping them right here with me just as long as I can.  To play, to be outside, to explore, to grow, to learn.  To just be kids.
When it's time to transition, we'll do that.  And they will be just fine.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Big Ideas

I've taken a long hiatus.
Some of you are probably wondering if we decided to check out and stay in Costa Rica....
We did think about it, but no, we are back in NYC and loving our life here.  There was the general readjustment period and second-guessing your life but the boys, Chicken, myself and the cat are all alive, well and thriving.
While I'd love to give you some wonderful story about why it's been so long since I've blogged, the truth is I haven't got a great reason.
I spent many days in Costa Rica *meaning* to blog but instead I spent the time lazing in the hammock staring at the sea, watching the birds flit about and trying to spot our elusive 3-toed sloth.
There were many discussions of life and school and travel, both amongst ourselves and also some new like-minded parents/friends.
My head has been spinning with the thoughts of home schooling, long term travel, road schooling and a new (and improved!) focus on health.
And now it's May.  Just like that.
And now it's time to write again.  I've got a lot to catch up on so I'm setting up a daily blog goal for this month.  Might just be photos and a lot of it could be recaps of our time in Costa Rica, but I'm ready to clear my head and dive back in.
See you tomorrow.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Waldorf Preschool in Caribbean Costa Rica

We have now been in Costa Rica one week.  The time has flown!  We 'moved' into our new house in Puerto Viejo on a Saturday and on Monday morning we introduced Grunter and Whoop Whoop to their new school.  That day we stayed a couple of hours and they were very happy.  This was most surprising as Grunter had not let go of my hand in days... (it seemed).  Within a minute of so of entering the school, he dropped my hand to investigate some blocks.  I was shocked and so relieved.
The next day we came at 8am and stayed around 10 minutes before leaving.  Grunter was fine, but W2 had a meltdown about 2 hours into the day and they called us to come get him.  Thankfully, we are just down the road and can quickly return.  Grunter probably would've been fine, but of course when he saw mommy it was all over!

Their second full day, they did great and attended the entire school day 8am-12pm!
They even ate their 'snack' of lentils with onions and tumeric (they have never eaten lentils for me).
Unfortunately, the 12pm time is a bit too late for their body clocks and they are waking much earlier here--the sun rises, the howler monkeys hoot and a million birds wake up right outside our windows at 5:30am.
When I put them down for a nap too late, they miss their 'sweet spot' and simply are too worked up to sleep.  Yesterday was one of those days:(

When they miss a nap, it affects their nighttime sleep and everything falls apart.  This morning, W2 woke up at FOUR a.m.  We brought him into bed with us thinking he'd crash out, but it never happened.  Grunter woke up at 5:30 and we strapped them into the Ergos and walked the beach looking for crabs and admiring the crashing waves.
By the time it was ready to go to school, W2 was a nutcase, but we went.  I knew today they wouldn't make it a full day, so I've arranged to come get them at 10am and put them down for an early (hopefully very, very long) nap!

The little school is simply amazing.  We are so lucky they are letting the twins attend for this month.  It's so good for them to be independent and well, good for the mommies, too!

When they come inside from playing they wash their hands and feet and then put on lotion and clean clothes before it's time to go home.  For the prices of preschools in Manhattan, it should include foot rubs as well!  I wish we had something a little like this available--for $160 a month!

Here is a sample of the school:

Dear parents,

Now we are entering our second month of school, the children are comfortable, the teachers are  familiar with each child, the daily and weekly rhythm and each other. 

Our focus remains on the importance of free play as an educational and developmental tool. Children up to 7 years old learn through imitation and we work everyday on being good role models, engaged and happy in the work we do. Household tasks like sweeping, dusting, setting and clearing the table, washing dishes, raking and weeding help with large motor movements, co-ordination, sequencing, organizational skills as well as the more subtle effects of maintaining a healthy and beautiful environment. The children participate in every aspect of this, from taking the compost to the compost pile, caring for and feeding the bunny, cutting vegetables for our snack, helping Archangel, our worker, build the new chicken house, bringing in the laundry . . . all wonderful examples of what it means to work - and work towards something together! The children are really learning a lot while they are helping. This healthy work also appears in their free play when they share a picnic, or change the diapers on the baby dolls. 

Our daily rhythm is taking shape as we work with the natural rhythms of the children and the day. We begin with an hour and twenty minutes of free play where the children are mostly outside playing on the swings, in the sandbox or exploring. During this time there is always an adult led activity at out table: Mondays we cut pumpkin, Tuesdays we play with dough, Wednesdays we draw with crayons and Thursdays we cut vegetables. This mix of artistic and practical table work with a teacher gives the children a time to concentrate and work on developing fine motor skills. Singing while we work always makes it rhythmical and flowing.

At 9:20 we come in for hand washing and setting the table. The kindergarten children take it in turns to bring us our fruit snack. At table, when we are all sitting in our correct places, with our placemats and our hands quiet we sing our blessing:

"Blessing on the blossom
Blessing on the fruit
Blessing on the leaf and stem
Blessing on the root
Blessing on the farmer
And those who made the meal
peace be on the Earth
And peace begins with me."

there's always applause at the end of the verse! After our fruit we play inside for a time. The children who wish, join us for some short songs and movement games. At this age we cannot and do not expect all the children to participate, but there is more expectation that the children over 2 and a 1/2 years will join us. The verses are mostly nursery rhymes with movements that go along with the actions. In the verses we are working with language, imagery and movement. Our verses might be in Spanish, English or nonsense words - we are working to develop listening skills and imitation of more complex sounds and small movements. 

After our brief circle we may go out into the garden to do some work, or play. We have moved our second snack to the earlier time of 10:45. Again the children wash hands, help set the table and sing blessing. We tidy our dishes and it's time to brush teeth and go to the potty. Washing dishes is always a popular activity! The children are usually ready to be changed into fresh clothes and then we play inside or on the deck until pick up time.

It's a busy day for the children and many are tired by 12 o'clock. As they are changing into fresh clothes they are realizing that soon their parents will come. Each day at this point we see  the children begin to miss their mamas and papis, and some tears can come with these sad feelings. As the year progresses and the children grow more accustomed to the rhythm of the day and the knowledge that yes, their parents will always come, these feelings will lessen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Because I'm Stupid Like That

First off, thank you for all of your comments and opinions, both here on the blog and also those of you who contacted me privately.  They were all incredibly helpful.
I've decided on a few things:

The name stays.  Long live Puffer!
The characters shall remain the same.  Long live Chicken, Grunter and Whoop Whoop!
The entire TTC journey will remain in the blog.
The tagline will change.
The rants will continue because I am Puffer and a bit of a ranter.  However, I will have to be a bit more careful about family rants--
Unless, they are password protected.
Goodbye Blogger.
Hello Wordpress.

I've tried to find a way to password protect some of my blogs in Blogger--there are scripts out there that would let me do this.  But, let me remind you that I am rather deficient in the technology side of life.  Sadly, Chicken is only slightly ahead of the tech curve than I am.  This basically means that when I'm about to throw my laptop across the room in a heated fit of frustration, she is calm enough to take the expensive piece of equipment from me and after five minutes declare that she doesn't know how to do 'it' either.
Every time I'm at the Mac Genius Bar getting help, I always end it with a "Thank you for not making me feel like a complete idiot."
Can I just say, this sucks.
Chicken and I are so very good at many things, but this is not one of them.

In the quest to save my sanity, I am going to be outsourcing the tech side of this move.  I'd always hoped that I would someday figure this tech stuff out, but with two toddlers, a limited amount of time, a short attention span and only a few brain cells left working on any given day--I'm declaring defeat.  I can write it, but I can't design it.

Buh Bye Blogger.  It's been swell.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Opinions Welcome--Blog/Name Changes

Frustration Station.
I need your help.
I've been talking and thinking about changing my blog, but up until now haven't really done anything.
In the last couple of weeks, there have been some writing opportunities starting to present themselves.
If I were to 'land' some of these, I'd have to go 'public', because everything is going to be linked back to my blog.  Right now, my blog is like a very messy house and I'm panicking because important guests might drop in any moment now.
First Impressions Count, right?

In order to attract readers and keep them, I think I need to make some major changes:

  • Delete any rants or family-related bitchfest blog postings
  • Change blog name (sob!)
  • Refresh Tagline (what is this blog now)
  • Go back and write travel blog posts
  • Put ads on the page, because this is looking like a possible business op
  • Use our real names
This will continue to be a 'twin mom' blog and I want to have my TTC journey on there because it's a huge part of who I am.  But, it's not a TTC blog and it never will be again.  It's about raising twins in NYC.  It's about living within your means and saving for your goals.  It's about the quest to travel the world with my wife and kids.  It's about documenting those travels and (hopefully) inspiring other families to live their dreams.

Because of my tech fears (I'm a complete idiot), I have resisted any changes to my basic Blogger template and have really done nothing to make myself look professional.  I've done a small bit of 'beautification' now on Blogger, but I am realizing that Wordpress is probably where I need to be.
I don't want to lose my readers and followers.  I don't want to move.

I love the name of my blog.  But there are a ton of people who are looking for baby puffer fish and wind up here.  I doubt they stay long.  If you are looking for a traveling twin mom or how to raise twins in a one bedroom or what to do with kids in NYC, you're not likely to do a search for baby puffer fish.

It's scary and sad to think of 'shutting down'.  This blog was my baby and it helped me through the hell of TTC.  Without this blog, the support and the friends I've made here--I don't know that I could've done it without you.  You kept me going when I was down and out.

My babies are growing up and my blog needs a make-over (frankly so do I, but one thing at a time).
Finding the right name.  Creating a brand.
Big Stuff.

I haven't had to use this part of my brain in a very long time.  Apparently this has me a bit stressed because I've started to grind my teeth at night, my jaw has started to click and I'm wide awake at 4:30am.  Lovely.
I have one week to decide, do it and get it right.  No pressure.

If anyone has any opinions or suggestions--I'd love to hear them!  Thanks in advance.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Single Mom Traveling to Costa Rica with Toddler Twins?

Maybe.  No, we aren't breaking up.
But, I may be solo for part of the time in Costa Rica.  It could be a couple of days or a full week, including, but not limited to, the flight home.  Turns out Chicken might need to go back to the USA for some meetings.  She's up for a big promotion and really needs to work her ass off.
Good thing I'm always up for a challenging adventure, right?!

It's also a very good thing that I have changed our housing accommodations.  The first house I rented was very cute and on a perfect toddler-friendly beach, but about 6km away from the main town.  The house also was "open" directly to the outside with the exception of the bedrooms, like this:

Do you see the staircase on the left leading downstairs?  Do you see how the jungle is beside the staircase and there are no walls?  Yes, this is typical, rustic style.  The 'yard' is gated which (hopefully) meant the boys would be contained somewhat, somewhere in the 'yard'.  Right outside the gate is the beach.  A little scary.  Also, maybe not so secure regarding crime, which....well, it's Central America.  There is crime.
Also, with this house, we had no easy options for getting them to the preschool.  It would've involved chasing them around the yard (finding them first, hoping they hadn't escaped), biking 2 km up the road to another village, putting them on a bus (with us) and then bussing it 5km to the school and arriving by 8:30am.
Then....doing it all over again in the heat of the day at 12:30.
Not ideal.

I took a little hit with a cancellation fee, but it was well worth it.  I found a house with real doors--that lock! And walls! And the most awesome wrap around deck.

 View of the beach from the deck
 A sort of real couch and coffee table downstairs--with walls!
 One of two staircases (one on each side of the house) and my tiki bar kitchen
And a Sloth!  He lives there!  How freaking cool is that?!

The house was only $200 more than the other house and while the yard is not gated, at least I can contain the boys inside until I go out with them.  It's also much more secure and I will feel safer here.  

Plus, the best part is that the preschool is 3 min walking distance.  And we are only 5-10 min walking into town.


I can do this alone if I have to.  I'm hoping that her business trip overlaps with the time period her father and his partner are visiting....but if not....I'll have a great story to tell, I'm sure!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Non Sequitur Conversations Concerning Random Countries

Education has been on my mind a lot lately.  In fact, I'm going to devote an entire post on this subject, but for now....
The conversations in our house sound a bit like this:


"Did you know there are two Waldorf schools in Hyderabad (India)?"

"Really?  Are we moving to Hyderabad?"

"No.  Well, maybe.  I was thinking of the Finnish education model and then I was reading some articles on that and one referenced how the Finnish model of early education (the children don't start school or learn to read/write until the age of seven) is incredibly similar to Waldorf.  Both stress the importance of play and age appropriate learning.  And you see how well the Finns are doing with their model (number one in case you've missed the news--the USA ranks in the middle or worse on all subjects).  It got me know since we can't move to Finland."

"I could work for my company in Hyderabad.  There are loads of expats there.  You think it's really dirty?"

"Yes.  It's India.  But I'm OK with that."


"You know I was just talking to someone in my company who got transferred to the office in Singapore because his wife got a job there.  That could be an option for us."

What I think is: "There's no Waldorf school there or Hong Kong.  Bangkok has two.  The Singapore education system, while ranking incredibly high, is just the type I wish to avoid with its rote memorization, lack of creativity and hours of homework and tutoring.  I wonder if there's a Montessori school...."

What I say is: "I'm down with Singapore.  It's close to everything else we love in South East Asia."

(By the way Singapore does have at least two Montessori schools and the added benefit is the Chinese Mandarin immersion offered.  Because if you're balking rote memorization and hours of homework, why not strive to have trilingual children? Yes, I am a Gemini and I am a complete contradiction.)

Also:  Chicken has informed me she 'likes my blog and gets excited to see a new post.  It's almost like reading about someone I don't know.'  I find this highly entertaining since we live/work/sleep in an 800 square foot space and have been in this same room day after day, night after night for two years running.  Apparently I don't tell her everything.

Update:  After reading this article on malaria, I thought hmmm, should check something out before going deeper in my head.  Found this article on Hyderabad and malaria thanks.  NO Thank You.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Budgeting and Living with Less--Saving for Long Term Travel

While we can't completely predict how much we'll need to travel for one year (based on the variable of: Will we be making any money on the road?) we have come up with a rough figure.
We know we are keeping a hefty amount of our savings as a safety net and for our (eventual?) return home.  If we didn't go that route, I know we'd both feel nervous.  While I've read of many families who do use their savings, I know they often have rental property making them money while they are traveling or another large source of income.  We do not.

Our travel goal is to save $30K.
That equals $82/day or $2465/month.
Considering our NYC rent for our one bedroom apartment costs more than that, it doesn't sound like much.
However, we know we can rent an apartment/house for under a thousand anywhere we go and local food costs could be as low as $10-$15/day.
It will be more than enough to live comfortably and we are not aiming to live like queens.

Getting to this goal is a challenge.  We already live quite frugally and we don't have a lot of 'wiggle room' to cut out.

  • We don't have an extra car to sell or a small house/apartment to move to.  
  • We make our lattes at home every morning.  
  • We rarely take taxis or even use public transportation.  
  • We can't 'turn down the heat/turn off the lights' because we don't control our heat and heat/hot water/electricity are included in our monthly rent.  
  • We don't do much shopping for ourselves and I've got a great network of moms that have either given/sold cheaply the next round of boys summer clothes/shoes.  
  • We didn't exchange Christmas gifts because there was nothing we really needed.  
  • We bought the boys very, very little since we knew the grandparents would load them up for the holiday and their birthday.
  • I'd love to cut off the cable (Fios), but Chicken won't budge.  We all have our things we can't live without.  Hers is watching the NY Knicks lose basketball games most of the season.
  • We send our laundry out.  We could do it ourselves and save FIVE dollars a week.  Hmmm, up and down the elevator and through 3 locked doors with 2 toddlers in tow only to find that the machines are available or it's broken or you are out of laundry soap or the dryer didn't dry it all the way in that cycle OR spend FIVE dollars and they pick it up for me, charge it to my credit card (earning me miles to travel), wash it, dry it, fold it and deliver it back to me by 5pm the same day.  We all have our things we can't live without.  I'm going to find a way to eat that $20/month savings somewhere else.
  • Oh Look!  I found a place to save $20!  The nanny is working one hour less per week.  Yes, we could ditch the nanny and save quite a chunk, but I'd lose my sanity and probably be a lousy mom.  She is worth every dollar.  She cooks, she cleans, she teaches my kids (and me) Spanish, she's sweet and kind and my boys love her.  She's staying.

So what to cut out?  Food, glorious food.
We order out quite a lot.  Too much.  I should be cooking more.  I really don't like to cook.  Although it's hard to remember--but I think I used to like it more a very, very long time ago.  The problem is that Chicken is an excellent cook.  And she loves it.  So when I cook, nothing is ever as good as what she makes anyway and....I'm not that good!  I'd rather eat her cooking (and so would she).
I'm more of an "assembly-er" type of cook.  Tacos, Burritos, Fajitas (see a theme here...), Pizza.  I'm great at putting things together.  I'm a snap at heating things up!  I am awesome at "defrosting the frozen organic veggies from Trader Joes and add a pat of butter".   And I am a smoothie making extraordinaire.  But a cook?  Nope.  I'm much more of a baker.
Baking doesn't get you far in a family with kids who don't eat sugar and 2 moms who are very weight mindful.  You can only make so many healthy muffins.

At the beginning of the year, we sat down and made ourselves a tight budget.  I really thought Chicken would balk at cutting down on 'eating out' food costs but it turns out Chicken loves a good challenge--even if it's food related.
She has a app on her iPhone and we track everything religiously.  She's so competitive, this is perfect for her.
I realized that we both would get the 'occasional' fancy coffee out and have instead made another at home or brewed tea in a travel mug.  The month of January neither of us have bought a single coffee drink.  Not ONE!
We've cut out the trip to the diner every Saturday morning and made eggs/pancakes ourselves.  The weekend bagel run has been replaced with free bagels at church on Sunday mornings (Don't worry it's not the reason we're going to church, we go for the free child care.  Just kidding!!!)
In addition, we've worked out a deal for me to take over more child care on the weekend while Chicken gets busy in the kitchen.
This past week alone she's turned out:  Beef Burgundy, Salmon Cakes, Chicken Marsala, Chicken Pot Pie and Pan Fried Flounder.  I've made Tacos, Quesadillas and Pizza:)
This is such a sweet deal for me because I'd much rather be building things with legos and hanging with the kids while Chicken makes delicious meals.  Win!

We came out $120 ahead for January!  Yeah! This goes straight into the travel fund.

Now, at $100+/month it's going to take forever for us to save up--so here are some other things we've decided will go directly into the fund:

All yearly bonuses/quarterly rewards
All raises
All birthday/Christmas cash gifts
All interest earnings
All healthcare reimbursements (because it feels like we already 'spent' that money)
Any extra income

I've even agreed to sell three of my antique pieces--my dresser, bedframe and a pair of tall glass cabinets.  It won't get me much, the market is slow, but the pieces are not family items and furthermore, they are not 'me' anymore.  I'd also love to sell our huge desk.
This next year is about weeding things out--I've already cleared out an entire closet, donating the majority of the contents to the Bowery Mission homeless shelter--selling items of value that I can live without, and deciding what stays and what goes.
Ideally we'd love to sublet our apartment fully furnished.  Realistically, that probably won't happen and we'll have to put things in storage.  The less items we have to store, the easier life will be.
I feel like I have a to-do list a mile long already!

The projected date of departure is September 2013.  If we stayed in NYC, this is when the boys would be expected to go to 'preschool'.
Instead, they will be enrolling in the experience of 'world schooling'.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Planning Long Term Travel with Twin Toddlers

You have probably noticed I'm blogging a lot less these days.  I've got so much on my mind that I get a bit swamped with 'where' to start.  And so I don't write.  Some of the things I want to blog about seem so trivial and I think "Who wants to read this crap?"  But people have been reading my crap for years, so I guess I'll keep churning out the thoughts in my head.

This blog is going to be dealing with more issues on planning for our year (or more) of travel abroad with our twins.  Of course, life goes on, so it won't be just that.  Plus, who really wants to read a year of posts of how we are 'planning' to do something?
Since we've made the decision of YES, we are going to DO this, we've come up with many (almost too many) options of how we are going to do this.

  1. Save up and travel for one year
  2. Save up enough to travel for one year, but plan to work remotely while traveling...and possibly extend the year to years...
  3. Get hired abroad and do short trips while based abroad (Hong Kong, Singapore and possibly India are our best bets)
  4. Get hired abroad, fulfill the contract and then take off traveling for a year (or more)

There are so many variables to each one of these it's mind-boggling.
How much we need to save depends on:

  • what kind of travel we are doing, 
  • which and how many countries we visit, and 
  • what type of life we expect to live while on the road.
Ideally, we would like to travel for two years when the boys are age 3-5.  We're both big fans of slow travel--spending a few months in each location--as we like to dig into the local scene and really get to know that part of the world.  Neither of us have grand plans for a dash-here-and-there-round-the-world kind of trip.
Also, in the past decade, Chicken and I have both covered almost 25 countries and consider ourselves seasoned travelers who have a sense of the places that would be great with kids and those locations that would be difficult.  That's not to say we are experts, only that we are not newbies who feel like we need to get out there and start crossing things off a list.  We love to see new things, but we're also really excited to revisit some favorite places and see it all over again through our children's eyes.

Traveling with a 3 year old is going to be quite a bit easier than a 2 years old. (It is, right?!) Currently, for our month in Costa Rica, we are having to bring pack n plays, strollers, Ergos, and a stock of diapers/wipes.  We won't have to worry about ANY of that when we they are 3.  They will be old enough to walk further/longer, we will be less strict about naps, they can sleep anywhere and use a variety of interesting toilets.

Raising bilingual children is very important to us and we'd love to spend the first year in Spanish speaking countries.  Perhaps Mexico-Guatemala-Argentina?  Maybe we'll love Costa Rica so much we want to return there for a longer period of time?  It would be great to learn a valuable language while we are traveling and have our kids come back fluent.  They are doing so well with their Spanish right now and I don't want them to lose it, so this is a big concern.

In the second year, we see ourselves in South East Asia.  In the past, we saw ourselves based in Bangkok.  But now that we have toddlers and specifically toddlers who beg to be outdoors every possible moment, a big city like Bangkok with little green space does not seem very enticing.
However, Chiang Mai in the northwest has a wonderful climate and is surrounded by lush mountains and greenery.  Furthermore, I have a very good contact there from volunteer days and it's quite likely I could work.
In fact, I could probably do much more meaningful work in South East Asia than I could ever dream of doing here in the USA.
The second year could be Thailand-Malaysia-Indonesia.
There are so many options in this region and we want to go everywhere!

If we only have one year?  We don't know.  Honestly we go back and forth.  Our knee jerk response is SEA because the cost of living is so low, the weather is wonderful, the people are kind and they love children, the food is delicious and it's safe.
But we love the 'goal' of learning Spanish--which cannot be done in SEA.

If Chicken can find a way to parlay her skill set into working online--then we are set.  I think she can do this.  We're networking and planning and it's just going to take some time to figure out what it looks like, but I believe it's out there.
And....if I can find a way to make some money off my writing, then we are double set.

Next Up:  Budgeting for Our Travels

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weaning My Two Year Old

Hi There.  Yes, I have 2 year old twins and yes, one of them is still latching on twice a day--more if I'd let him.
I'm quite torn about weaning.  I have loved breastfeeding more than I ever thought possible and really don't want it to end.  I wish I was still breastfeeding both of them but it's only Grunter and I as Whoop Whoop abruptly left the boob with a laugh when he was 18 months old.
When I was pregnant, I vaguely remember being a bit ambivalent about breastfeeding.  I was kinda like, yeah that would be cool if it works.  But did I take a class?  Nope.  Read any of my breastfeeding books? Nope.  Open my breast pump or sterilize the parts or figure out how the damned thing worked until the twins came home from the hospital (by the way, don't be stupid like me and do this)?  Nope.
My attitude was a bit "Eh, it will either work or not and if it doesn't I'll be bummed but lots of people use formula and it's all OK."

I never could have predicted the intense reaction I would feel to the possibility that this might not work.
When it looked very much like a failure, I put everything I had into making it work.
Grunter got it faster than Whoop Whoop and if it weren't for him, I would have quit and gone to bottles.  Whoop Whoop put me through hell.  When I think back to those TEN weeks that we struggled with him latching on, I cringe.  I'd love to have happy memories of the newborn days, but I don't.  That was not my reality.  The untreated PPD, the colic, the low birth weight, the troubles with breastfeeding, the eating every 2 hours, the extreme sleep deprivation, the low milk supply, the slow weight gain.  It was all hellish.

So when the breastfeeding finally 'clicked' and it did, though probably not right at 10 weeks, more like around 4 months for me, I knew that I'd give it everything I had.
And I did.  Through countless clogged milk ducts and painful recurrences of mastitis and yeast infections and more sleepless nights, I gave it everything I had.

At some point, it became joyful.  I LOVED tandem breastfeeding my twins.  I cried when I had to stop using my double breastfeeding pillow, but little did I know it was only going to get better and better and better.

Breastfeeding a toddler has seriously been one of the best things I've ever done in my life.  It is so rewarding and FUN.  Yes, it's fun!
Right after the twins started toddling about we moved our mattress to the floor and it created a giant play mat of sorts for them.  Our snuggle place, our breastfeeding place, our reading books place.  The decision to move our mattress to the living room floor was the best one we've made in a long time.  They love it.  We love it.  Kids over for playdates love it.  And the way they can crawl/toddle and now walk and climb into the bed with us is priceless.  The way one of them will stop breastfeeding to walk to the book shelf and come back to hand me a book to read while they are having "mommy milk".

Whoop Whoop, even though he spontaneously self-weaned, still asks for 'mommy milk'.  For him, this time is snuggle time with mommy in bed.  He's on one side with his 'moo milk' and Grunter is on the other side nursing.  When Grunter commands "Other Side!" W2 knows to scramble over my body and they switch sides.  I hold them both in my arms and my life feels so full and complete.  I love it.  I kiss them both and W2 tries to kiss Grunter and Grunter pushes him away and W2 want to kiss him so badly but Grunter is having none of it.  It's so sweet and I don't have these intimate moments with them any other time of the day.
I'm loathe to give them up.

Around Thanksgiving I cut out the 'after nap' nursing session (which went horribly with much wailing and tears and tantruming of Grunter--it lasted about 2 weeks and was awful).
Now we are down to 2 sessions a day--after waking and before sleep at night.
My supply is dropping and has been for over a month.  I knew it when Grunter started crying and pulling off saying "milk OUT".  Poor thing was so frustrated and pissed out that there wasn't much milk.
There have been nights that he doesn't ask to nurse.  Sometimes 2 or 3 nights in a row and I wonder....what now?  But then he asks again and we're off to cuddle.

I've been explaining to him that the mommy milk is slowly going away and I don't have much anymore that's why I can't give it to him in the afternoons (oh yes, he still asks for it sometimes!).  He seems to accept and understand this and says "Moo Milk".  Yes, you get moo milk instead.  "Moon, mommy milk."  Yes, when the moon is up and it's dark, you will get mommy milk.

We'll be going away in a month and it's going to be even harder for me to nurse him in our house in Costa Rica.  I won't be able to 'watch' Whoop Whoop while he nurses.  Our bed is not on the floor.  It's going to be hot and sticky and sandy.  Nursing a hot, sticky, sandy toddler doesn't sound nearly as dreamy as a clean toddler in a clean bed!
Plus, well....I never in a million years would have dreamed I'd be breastfeeding a 2 year old!  It's crazy considering how it started.
So, I think I'm going to start weaning.  Maybe.  I could change my mind tomorrow.  Or maybe laying in a hammock with a sticky toddler will be dreamy and I'm just obsessed with being clean and sticky-free.