Archive for the breastfeeding Category

Posted in ¡que comida!, breastfeeding, Uncategorized on September 7, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

quecomida_logo“4 Leches” First Birthday Cake


Tres Leches cake is a traditional Mexican cake soaked in a mixture of 3 milks: whole, evaporated, and sweetened condensed.  It is deee-licious, and we had our favorite version from Pie in the Sky Bakery (a gift from the bakery owners and our friends, Susan & Phil) for Maximo’s 1st birthday party.  I made a special version for the babe, with less sugar, and a 4th milk – mine.  Of course it had to be booby-shaped.  He loved it and surely would have eaten the whole thing had I let him.  Aside from me, our friend Daniel Brewer was the only other person to brave a taste and claimed to really like it.  I preferred Pie in the Sky’s version.

The Recipe:

“Busy-Day 1-layer Cake”

(adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 2/3)

2 tsp. baking powder

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

In a bowl combine sifted flour, sugar, and baking powder.  Add milk, butter, egg, and vanilla.  Beat on low until combined, then beat on medium for 1 minute.  Pour batter into 2 greased and floured ramekins (I used small rounded custard dishes to get a “mound” type shape).  You’ll have enough batter left over for a few more small cake molds, or you could make some cupcakes.  Bake in a 350° F (180° C) oven for about 20-25 minutes, but check them for doneness as baking time will vary depending on your oven, the depth of the mold you use, thickness of the baking dish, etc.  The cake tasted great, even with so much less sugar.  It was still sweet, just not oversweet like most baked goods.

4 Milks Mixture

1/3 cup whole milk

1/3 cup evaporated milk

1 tbsp. heavy cream*

1/3 cup breast milk

*Traditionally, you would use sweetened condensed milk as the 3rd milk, but I skipped this because of the crazy sugar content of la lechera (as it is called here).

After the cakes have cooled, unmold onto a plate, poke with toothpicks, and pour milk mixture slowly over the cakes, allowing it to soak in.  You can frost the cakes with whipped cream (sweetened or not depending on your preference) or leave them as is.  Arrange cakes together on a serving dish, cut a cherry or grape in half, and place one half on top of each cake for nipples.  Voila – 4 leches Chi-Chi Cakes!



“El Gordo” No Mas

Posted in breastfeeding, feeding, Maximo, Uncategorized on July 30, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

Maximo was one of those super-chunk babies for his first 6 months, earning him the nickname “El Gordo” (Fattie) with our local Mexican friends.  Babies here tend to be on the smaller side, and he would often outsize babies 6 months his senior.  We were not worried, of course, and sang the praises and powers of awesome breast milk to anyone commenting on his baby-girth.

As expected, once he started moving, crawling, scooting, and climbing all over the place, he has leaned up quite a bit.  His once perfectly round head and chubby-chub cheeks have begun to shape from baby-face into boy-face – a beautiful transition to witness, along with so many others as he grows.  His clothes are fitting for longer periods of time, his legs and arms are considerably less sausage-y, and he hasn’t seemed to be getting much heavier on my hip. He’s even got a new nickname from those who coined “El Gordo”: he is now “El Flaco” (Slim).

gordo-flaco blk

So I didn’t expect his weight to have gone up much when he went for his 11-month checkup today.  But I was surprised to find that he weighs the same (actually 100 grams less), than 3 months ago, clocking in at 8.900 kilos (19.6 pounds).  In 5 ½ months (that’s half his time on earth), he went from the 75th percentile for weight, to the 10th percentile.  Wow, El Flaco indeed.  Nothing to worry about, according to our wonderful Doctora (I should pause here to say that we LOVE our Pediatrician, and finding an awesome, English-speaking, female, progressive, like-minded Physician in Mexico is no small feat), especially since our little man eats and nurses like a champ.  She did recommend we add in some more carbs/grains.  I guess I have tended to shy away from starchy stuff based on some of my reading – we are really conscious of wanting to set our kid up for a lifetime of healthy eating, and kids can so easily get pre-disposed to starchy foods when they are babies and eat lots of cereals, etc.  So we rarely give him cereal, and though I recently rotated some pasta into the mix, I don’t give him a lot of rice/pasta/bread-y type grains either.  I had to laugh to myself that I have inadvertently had him on a sort of “South Beach Baby Diet” – all veggies, fruits, yogurt, cheese, eggs, and lean proteins like chicken & fish.  I guess it’s time to carbo load, y’all.  No if only he would stop moving around so much…


1-2-3-4, Baby!

Posted in breastfeeding, Gabbi, love, Maximo, travel on July 26, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

IMG_7764_resize_resizeRecently we took our first family vacation, and Maximo set foot on American soil for the first time – in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, no less.  So where do you vacation when you live in paradise?  Hawaii, of course!  I know, we just can’t get enough of the beach.  Well, truth be told, our path to Hawaii was not one that we forged ourselves, though I certainly have no complaints about ending up there.  My mom (Karen), my step-dad (Mark), and my hermanito (aka little brother, Zachary) invited us to join us on their family vacation this year and we happily and graciously joined them (yes, it took about 0.0 seconds to agree to this).  A week on the Big Island + a week on Kauai = 2 weeks of vacation bliss — and with Grandparents to boot?  Sign us up!

IMG_7516_resizeNow, since moving to Mexico and living our totally awesome, semi-vacation-y lives year-round, we (being me and my hottie hubby) have not taken a real, fly-our-asses-to-another-place (together) vacation.  Seriously, we have not flown together since, well, since we went to Maui for our great friends Gordy & Alicia’s kick-ass wedding (so you don’t feel sorry for us or anything, we have flown places, just not together, you know, for fun).  AnyWAY, what I mean to say, was this was a BIG DEAL!  Flying somewhere together, for vacation (2 weeks!), with our BABY!

The week leading up to our departure felt like an old-school pre-vacation work week, with tons o’ stuff to do and prep – which always makes it that much sweeter to be on the R-O-A-D, or in the S-K-Y, as may be the case, in our case.  Which case would be – a flight with a lap-baby, from PV to the aforementioned Dallas/FW, on to LAX, and finnnnnnalllllllly, Kona, HI! – so, we were curious how this grand flight adventure would play out with our wee one, in our laps no less.  Luckily, Maxxi is still nursing (con ganas!) which made for an easy soothing solution during all those flight legs.  (sometimes I would righteously think, when looking at other babies, “my baby doesn’t use a pacifier”… and then I would have to remind myself that my nipple had been in his mouth more or less continuously for the past few hours, and that his pacifier was in fact my breast.)

Long story short, Maximo was a traveling champ, and we became quite deft at the dance that isIMG_7811_resize traveling with a babe.  At each checkpoint/security gate/boarding/de-planing, we would rattle off our foolproof counting system to make sure we had all the important things: “1, 2, 3, 4, Baby!”  Which counted our 1, 2, 3, 4 carry-on bags (don’t you judge me, non-parents!), and of course, the baby, which was most often in the portable stroller (our other accountable item) which we had acquired for just such an occasion as flying to the US and subsequently across the South Pacific.  Thus was our mantra as we moved from plane-to-plane, checkpoint-to-checkpoint, towards our destination of vacation awesome-ness.

And what an awesome vacation it was.  I think I had forgotten how great it feels to really be OFF, to let go of work, household chores, email, even writing (yes, it has been a while, has it not?).  Being on vacation with family also takes on a whole new sheen when you have a baby of your own.  While we do have a Nanny who helps out occasionally during the day while we work, we just haven’t been in the habit of leaving Maxxi alone with a sitter while we go out or go do stuff together.  So having family to help care for him and hang out with him opened up a whole new world.   Gabbi & I got to go out at night, go running together, go kayaking & snorkeling, and go on an amazing boat ride around the incredible Na Pali Coastline on Kauai.  We went to bars, had wonderful dinners, and got to know each other again.


“Oh, yeah… YOU!  You’re awesome and fun and sexy and I’m in love with you!”  Not to take anything away from the way I love my husband as a father and the way I love my son as the creation of our love – it’s just that sometimes it’s easy to lose yourself as an individual when you are focusing most of your energy on being a parent.  And as a Mother, I know I’m not always the best Lover and Wife.  My mind is often centered on the next need to be filled, the next chore to get done, the minutes I can use to cram in some work or do some personal writing.  Being on vacation peeled away all the layers of the everyday and brought the most important things into laser focus.  Plus, spending time alone as a couple, doing fun things together, is re-energizing.  It made me feel like a kid, which is a nice break when usually all I think about is being a mom to a kid.

As our 2 weeks wound to an end, I started feeling a little anxious about coming home.  And I LOVE my home.  I love my town, my chosen country, my house.  But aside from the obvious greatness of being on vacation, Hawaii spoiled me with the most perfect weather (80s, sunny, breezy, never humid), lots of safe space for Maxxi to crawl around and play, and a refreshing lack of dirt and dust.  Everything was so…. Clean.  Paved.  Simple.  Easy.  Home was waiting with humidity, mud, crazy rain storms, construction on my house, dust, mosquitoes, chores, work.  So, I was a little nervous.

I was also excited to get back home, as always after being away.  And luckily, summer being our slow season here, it has been an easy transition to reality.  With work slow, we have been able to ease back into the day-to-day, and make sure to keep some of our vacation glow and our vacation mentality, applied to our own little corner of paradise.  Is that not a lesson that we all try to take away from our vacations, no matter what waits at home?   My other big takeaway is that it really is important to find/make/create time alone with my husband, where we can really focus on each other without one ear tuned on the baby monitor.  Because we love being a family, and we are a better family when we are tuned into and in love with each other.



Que Padre

Posted in breastfeeding, Maximo, sleep, words on June 18, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro


Before I was blessed with the most adorable and beautiful Son, I was blessed with the love of the most adoring and beautiful Man: my hot husband, my best friend, my soul mate, my lover, my everything — Gabbi Villarrubia.  We just celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary, and this summer will mark 9 years that we have been in love and in each others’ arms.  That’s a lot of time to get to know someone; to see them grow and change; watch them become the person they are meant to be, with the right love and partner by their side.  It’s a magical gift when you get to fall in love with a new side of your mate, and I am so in love with the Father that my Man has become.

I have always known that Gabbi would be a wonderful Father and Daddy.  How could he not, he who brims and gushes with love unlike any other you will ever meet?  But to see him with our Son, to see our Son light up at the site of him, this never fails to melt me.

There are times when Maximo’s intense attachment to Mama and my milk can feel challenging to a loving Daddy, bordering on rejection.  So it’s been key for Gabbi to create his own special rituals and routines with Maxxi, of which everyone’s favorite is bedtime.  Over the past month, in our efforts to separate the strong association Maximo had between nursing and falling asleep, Gabbi has become the official master of bedtime ceremonies in our home.  And mastered bedtime he has.  If I try to put Maximo to bed without nursing him, he arches his back and tugs at my shirt all through the Great Green Room.  But Gabbi hands him his blankee, reads him his night-night books, tucks him into his crib, and has him sleeping out of the palm of his hand in record time.  It is their special Baby/Daddy time, and surely a bright spot in both of their days.

This evening, after Maximo drifted off to dreamland with nary a peep, Gabbi came out of the room with a well of tears pooled in his eyes.  Tonight, during his bedtime story, Maxxi looked up at his Father, put a tiny hand on his cheek, and said, “Daddy.”  Then he said it again, and again.  And once more I melt.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Daddy!  Que Padre indeed.


Sideshow Boob

Posted in breastfeeding, Maximo, sleep on May 31, 2009 by Gabbi El Mas Negro

sideshow boob

Behold the glory that is my over-producing right breast.  You see, about a month ago (when this amazing early-morning self-portrait of my mutant breast was taken), I had stopped nursing Maximo throughout the night, in an effort to get some more sleep and sanity.  Prior to this new doctrine, my little milk-pire was waking up more and more frequently throughout the night to suckle on his sweet chi-chi (“chi-chi” being the Mexican term for baby-booby, as well as the name of a now-defunct Mexican chain restaurant where yours truly grew up on PB&J burritos and fried ice cream in scenic Louisville, KY).  So we employed some techniques from The Sleep Lady, and Dr. Michael Cohen, and within a week or so, managed to have our babe sleeping through (most of) the night, resulting in a ridiculous, mutant-level amount of unused milk produced by my dominant right boob.  I seriously considered running off and joining the carnies with this little sweetie.  But then I remembered the last carnival I went to in Mexico… and decided to ride it out with my trusty pump.