I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since we welcomed our second Sprout into our family. From the moment we decided to have a second child the doubts were plenty. Not about the actual WANTING another child, but how it would affect the family dynamics, especially regarding Sprout 1.


Would I be able to love another child as much as I already loved Sprout 1? Would they get along? Would he be jealous? Could we dedicate enough time and resources to a second child? What would I do about breastfeeding (I was still breastfeeding Sprout 1 when I found out I was pregnant)? Is this fair to Sprout 1? And on, and on…

Of course, looking back now these questions seem almost silly. It’s amazing how these little ones fill our hearts so completely, yet there’s always room for more. My two sons are so very different, yet quite similar all at once. My sons’ relationship has grown. I think they both benefit from having each other, and they both love each other… most of the time.

Sprout 2 (10 months) is still at that stage of adoring his big brother, even when he gets knocked over! Sprout 1 (almost 4 years) has moments ranging from adoration to frustration and occasional spurts of jealousy when baby is getting “too much” attention (think milestones, like sitting, crawling, eating).

We’re into a good groove at the moment, but it hasn’t always been this way. I was surprised to find after Sprout 2’s birth that Sprout 1 wasn’t upset at the baby, but rather was upset at us. At me in particular, for a while. he was NOT happy with all the time I was spending with his baby brother.

We found ways to help him with his feelings and things got better as they got to know each other and as baby grew and became more responsive (smiles for big brother! giggles! chasing! yay!).

One thing I found helpful was giving him a doll to take care of. He would change diapers, burp, carry and even breastfeed (too cute!). We were also very open and explained why babies needed so much attention and how he was when he was a baby. We never denied him expressing feelings of wanting the baby to go back in mama’s belly, or insisted he loved his brother when he said he didn’t. Soon enough things fell into a new sort of normal.

I also found books to be a big help with the process, both for him and for me. Here are four books which really helped prepare the way and that he occasionally STILL asks to read.

Books for preparing the arrival of a new sibling

There's going to be a baby, by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury

This book is brilliant. It’s a conversation throughout the seasons between mother and son where they both imagine what baby will be once he’s big. Sprout 1 loves the scenarios and really identified with the little boy. I loved that the little boy expressed his negative feelings toward the baby, yet ends with a “Grandpa, we’re going to love our baby, aren’t we?”;  brought tears to my hormonal eyes.

What's inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

What’s inside your tummy mummy?, by Abby Cocovini

This book was recommended by a friend and it’s perfect for little ones to get a month by month picture of what is going on inside Mom’s belly. It consists of month by month 2-page spreads with tidbits about the growing baby along with real sized pictures of baby inside the “mummy’s tummy”. Sprout 1 loved to have me hold it up to my belly. It’s great for preschoolers who want to know the why’s and how’s, without too much information. It ends with a push and some information about newborns (referencing both breastfeeding and bottle feeding).

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

My New Baby, Illustrated by Rachel Fuller

This picture book depicts many scenarios of what happens when baby is here. Lots of discreet breastfeeding images and side by sides of what baby does and what big sister or brother can do. Also pictures of going for walks with baby in a carrier. It gives kids an idea of how they can be included in activities with baby (helping with the bath, etc) and how activities like story-time and singing can include baby as well. A great little book for toddlers and preschoolers.

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

What baby needs, by William Sears MD, Martha Sears RN and Christie Watts Kelly, Illustrated by Renée Andriani

This book is certainly geared towards attachment parenting families. It has images of baby sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to the parent’s bed, being carried in a sling, breastfeeding, etc. It has little tidbits for the older sibling, and includes more than one older sibling, so good for families with more kids. Sprout 1 loved seeing familiar scenes and could relate to the parts addressing the older sibling’s feelings like wishing the baby would go away.

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Raising Happy Brothers and Sisters: Helping Our Children Enjoy Life Together, from Birth Onwards , by Jan Parker and Jan Stimpson

Finally, a book for the parents. I must admit I’m still reading through this as it covers before birth to adolescence, so I dip in as I feel the need. I researched many books on sibling relationships and from the reviews, this one seemed to be what I was looking for. It addresses the many stages of sibling relationships and family dynamics. The book is peppered with anecdotes from real parents, children and health visitors. It’s easy to read in short spurts (is it too much information if I tell you this book sits in our bathroom?) and is packed with sound advice and reminders of simple things we sometimes forget or overlook.

Do you have more than one child? Are you thinking about it? How have you handled it and do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share?

A multilingual Sprout

This post is part of the Bilingual for Fun Carnival, hosted by Bilingual For Fun.

Shortly after Sprout started walking about a month ago, he also started to actually say some words. He has been saying “mama” for quite a while, although I’m not exactly sure he’s referring to me or just asking for comfort… He clearly says “papá” in Portuguese. Other words he says are “bye-bye” (said “baba” and referring to going out, not to people leaving) “ball” (“ba”) and “dá” (as in “gimme”, although he sometimes uses a similar sound to point “there”). He has said “tiger” (“tiga”) once referring to his favourite stuffed animal, and I’m glad I had a witness because otherwise I would’ve thought I dreamt it! Clearly he’s staring to speak English. Which is normal because he spends most of the day with me. However he does understand both fairly equal. In funny way sometimes! Like when daddy asks him to get his “sapatos” (shoes) to go out, he always gets daddy’s, but when I say get your shoes, he’ll bring his!

I’ve been asked many times what we are doing regarding languages. Both me and R are Portuguese, although I was born and lived in the US until I was 12 and am bilingual. It’s only natural we speak Portuguese to each other, although I must admit I mix in quite a lot of English, especially since Alex was born. Our arrangement consists basically of one parent, one language. I only speak English to Alex (although I have a hard time doing so around Portuguese speakers because I feel I’m being rude!) and Rod only speaks Portuguese. We both speak Portuguese to each other. Outside the home, he has contact mostly with English (both by native and non-native speakers) and French. I never worried much about him picking up all these languages. That’s one of the good thing about living in Brussels – it’s so multicultural. A real melting pot where it is quite common (especially among expats) to see couples with different cultures and languages with their children who speak various languages from an early age. Being bilingual myself, I know firsthand how it is to grow up with more than one language. I’m fluent in both, although at varying levels. For instance, I feel my English never really “grew up” once I moved to Portugal. On the other hand, I feel I can only express certain ideas adequately in English. I never considered writing this blog in Portuguese (although I did consider doing both). I think in both languages and I can switch easily between them. However, I also know my Portuguese wouldn’t be nearly as good had I not lived and studied in Portugal.

I’m really curious to see Sprouts language develop. Will he have my American accent? Will he have a French accent? I also wonder where he’ll grow up. We plan on staying here for the forseeable future, but not sure if that will be for life.
Considering the amount of parenting books I’ve read (I really should post about them!) it’s amazing I haven’t read anything about multilingualism. I’m thinking about getting this book. I’ve heard very good things about it. I’ve also looked for information on and I’ve also been reading the blogging Carnivals on bilingualism. There seems to be more information out for bilingual children than for children with 3 or more languages, but I’ll keep looking! Please drop a comment if you have any good resources.

Hand-made love for the sprout – part one

Since I left work, I’ve been making quite a few things for mr. Alex 🙂 I’ve been meaning to post about them for the longest time, but I don’t have good pictures of most of them. Most are taken on my Iphone, in movement. It doesn’t help that he tries to grab the camera every time I pop it out!!
Here are the most recent


The sweet pea pilot cap from Sew Liberated (you HAVE to check out her blog… so inspiring I read it from start to finish… stalking you say? hmm….)

I LOVE Ottobre. I have a subscription and it’s soooo worth it. I’ve made a whole bunch of their stuff already. This is the second time I do these pants (the first time I made jeans live in the pattern). They are the “Rock Me” Baby jeans from Ottobre Summer 3/2009. This is a super soft baby cord I got online from Dots n’ Stripes (I also bought the interlock and ribbing for the cap there – great service, quick delivery!). I still have to check out good and not too pricey fabric resources in Brussels. Rod hates the green. I don’t care, was getting tired of blue and brown anyway!!!!

The shirt was bought at H&M (and it’s organic… I’m hoping there was no child labour involved in the production though!) and I appliqued 2 fabric circles to the front. I used freezer paper stencil to draw the turtle on with fabric paint. The turtle drawing also came from an Ottobre magazine, but can’t remember which!

Oh, and don’t you just love the way he’s showing off how he can walk? 😀 Sigh…

11 months old today

And what a happy sprout! I can’t believe this litle guy is almost a year old! When did this happen? 🙂

He’s completely recovered from his illness. And then I caught it. And now we’re all better, so happy ending to it all!

So, what’s new with Alex. Let’s see… teeth… um, no! Not one yet! Is he walking? Well, sort of… has taken some steps alone, but… does being really proficient at walking (and running!) holding on with one hand count? No? Well… then I guess he’s not. Talking… not really. hehe… not much news you may say! Well, not with the typical milestones I guess. But he did pet a dog for the first time. And a cat. (sad I know, but we’re not aquanted with many pet owning families… I guess because we know mostly frequent flyer expats?). And he played in the mud (thank goodness it’s much warmer! – i.e. not negative temperatures).

He loves going to the park, going outside for walks, no matter the weather! This week has been rough for him since we were indoors so much.

He’s quite a joy to be around… I find it amazing how he progresses every month, development of memory, fine motor skills, sociability…

Oh, I hear him calling… gotta run!

10 months… um, a bit late

Oh my, time does fly!!! And I can’t believe I haven’t even posted sprouts 10th monthiversary!!!

It’s getting harder and harder to take the monthly picture as you can see here:

Alex is so adorable at the moment. He’s becoming quite the social creature and loves to show off all his new talents :). He’s been cruising and walking holding on to one hand, but he’s very cautious letting go. He has already taken a couple of steps here and there and once he even took 5 all by himself (he usually does this when he wants to reach something he’s not allowed to… say, the camera 😉 ). I actually prefer it this way. At least it seems although he is VERY active, he won’t be completely reckless. He’s also started crawling properly recently and almost abandoned the combat style… unless of course he needs speed (to reach something he’s not supposed to).
Only problem we’re having at the moment is with his sleep. He still won’t nap in his bed for longer than 20 minutes even though he’s clearly sleepy. He’s to heavy for me to let him sleep in the sling, so I’ve been letting him finish his naps on my lap in his room. Not very practical, but I’m at a loss on what to do. I can’t get much done like that but I don’t want to let him cry it out so… Hopefully I’ll have a solution soon.

4 months and an operation already

This month’s picture is a bit different from the others


Poor little sprout spent his 4-monthiversary (really, the word should exist!) in the hospital! He was a great sport about it though… so brave the little guy.

It all started last Tuesday when Alex was particularly upset and crying at bedtime. He just wouldn’t settle, not even in our arms, he’d just scream and scream. This wasn’t unusual… it happened most days, at any given hour and even though I’ve mentioned it to various doctors they’ve always told me it was colic and would pass (except for one time at the ONE when they witnessed the screaming and said it was not normal – and suggested it could be reflux). We always told them he seemed in pain, but they just took it as worried first-time parents. The strange thing this time was that at 10pm he still wouldn’t settle. He is usually out like a light at 10pm, no matter how much fussing he was doing before. There didn’t seem like there was much we could do… We thought maybe his reflux was getting worse because he would calm down a bit in an upright position and was possetting quite a lot. He ended up falling in and out of sleep sitting froggy style against my chest at around 1am, but would wake up and spit up every now and then even though he hadn’t eaten since around 7.30pm, which in itself was strange considering he has never gone for more than 4hrs. At around  3.30am he seemed fast asleep so I put him in his crib and went to change my pj’s when I heard him trowing up. When cleaning him up, we noticed brown spots so decided to take him to the ER at St. Luc. After exams, x-rays and sonograms, they discovered his intestines were obstructed due to his inguinal hernia getting stuck. They managed to reduce it (put it back in) and scheduled emergency surgery for Friday. We already knew about the hernia, but there were no visible signs it was stuck… poor little guy!

And so he was operated and it now seems we have a new baby!!! No inconsolable screaming fits and more smiles. He’s also a lot less tense, although still has issues with pooing. The poor little mite must have been really hurting!

Everything went beautifully, the personnel at St. Luc were excellent and by Saturday we were home. He is healing wonderfully!

Apparently he doesn’t have reflux, it was the food coming up because it had a hard time passing the intestines,  so we have stopped the Gaviscon which was making him constipated and he cries MUCH less now!!! If only we knew earlier!!!

Here is a pic taken today


3 months today


Our little man woke up in a good mood today 🙂 I’m amazed at how time flies… 3mos! he is oficially not considered a newborn any more!

So much has happened in these 3 months and our lives have greatly changed. It’s amazing to see Alex grow day by day and all the new things he can do. And how much the three of us learn!


I’m still breastfeeding exclusively and Alex still eats just about every 2hours, except the 4 hour stint at night. He hates napping during the day and gets himself really tired before he goes down, but at least we’ve managed to establish his bedtime at around 8:30pm!!! Goes out like a light and although he (sort of) wakes for his night feeds, they’re really easy because he’s so fast now and he easily resettles either in his crib or our bed (if I let myself fall asleep while breastfeeding mostly). He still has issues with his digestive system, so still colicky, but so much better. he graces us with smiles more often, seems like he wants to giggle, coos and is a pro at balancing his head on his neck 🙂

2 months!!


Wow! Alex was 2 months old on Saturday! I can’t believe time has gone by so fast and he’s grown so much already! He is now 5kg200 and 56cm… quite a way since his 2kg70 (lowest weight) and 49,5cm!S1033843

He seems to be doing something different every day now as well. He just recently began smiling, although we usually call him our grumpy little man because he gets colicky most days.

Well, I can’t say these first two months have been a piece of cake! We’ve had our ups and downs with breastfeeding, colic and a scare when we discovered he has 2 inguinal hernias and may need an operation by or before his first birthday. However, I must say all the sleepless nights, worrying and listening to a red-faced fist-clenching howling little guy have all been worth it and I would definitely do it all again! We love our little sprout and things are getting much easier day by day as we get the hang of things. Nights are much easier since he’s only feeding 2 – 3 times and is much more efficient. We’re happily doing a mix of co-sleeping and putting him in his own crib. We’ve also been out everyday unless it pours and I’m starting to get the hang of breastfeeding in public. Our days now have a rhythm to them, although no real schedule and I’m really loving being a mom and having this warm, soft skinned, wide eyed beauty in my arms 🙂


Cloth diapers and eco disposables


I’ve finally tried out all of my cloth diapers (or nappies for Brits)!!! And I washed them all! Yay!!!

I must say I was a bit worried about stains and odour, but no problem whatsoever. No spills or leaks, good fit, generally easy to use, store and wash. They’re all on the line now. My favourites are the bumgenious V3 one size pocket nappies. They are just like disposables and they adjust to fit a growing baby, so they can be used much longer. Unfortunately, they are also more expensive… However, I think it’s well worth the investment.Rodrigo only liked these.  I was sad to see the swaddle bee just barely fits his bum anymore! my little boy is growing so fast.

I also discovered I don’t like poppers much. Alex is very wriggly when changing, so speed and ease is of the essence two-parts and poppers take longer and he can squiggle out easily, making it harder for me to change.

We’ve been using disposables until now, just because it was easier, with getting used to having sprout home and having stay-in visitors (mom and mother in law). Besides, our washing machine is downstairs, so not very practical. It will be much easier in our new house :). I tried Swillet, Bumbo Nature and moltex. They are all good at containing the mess, but I found Swillet (unfortunately the most Eco of the bunch) to feel too plasticy (the plastic material is made of corn). Bambo Nature are good, but a bit bulkier than others. My favourite s are Moltex – closer to other commercial brands. I definitely recommend. I’ve been buying from an online store – SeBio – that delivers free in Brussels for purchases over €40. They’re great and they also have cloth!

Now I’m going to try to gradually change to cloth for most of the time and keep the eco-disposables for going out and night. Hopefully I’ll be able to make the full transition at some point.

Here’s Alex  in his Bumgenious. Adorable!!!


Adventures in breastfeeding


Breastfeeding is best and it’s definitely natural but it’s not entirely instinctive and it’s not always easy! I didn’t count on that… I’d like to share my story in hopes of encouraging others with problems and to help those who intend to breastfeed avoid the problem I had! Just so you know, the story has a happy ending !

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