Saturday, May 23, 2015


Turns out one of my kids has a food allergy. It was bound to happen sooner or later---I say this only because many of my fellow moms have children with allergies, so what's the likelihood all three of mine would escape infancy unscathed? 

Also, what's with the increase in allergies in our children these days? I don't remember kids in my elementary class not being able to have cupcakes or being told we couldn't have peanut butter sandwiches at school. 

Anyways, back to my kid. 


We had a rough few weeks of up all nights and when he did sleep he grunted so loud it even kept NZ up--which says a lot about the decibel level of his grunting. I chalked it up to colic, because again, statistically speaking, how would I be lucky enough to never have to deal with colic? He also had a mad case of acne. His entire face, chest and back were covered in a rash. 

In talking to one of Sal's classmate's moms, she suggested I have his diaper tested for a dairy/soy intolerance. 

Later that night,  I consulted Dr. Google and concluded with all my non medical school education, that we were dealing with a dairy/soy intolerance. 

Then came panic. 

What on earth will I eat if I can't have my Greek yogurt for lunch or a slice of baby bel cheese for snack?! I love cheese. Love love love it. What about my Taco Bell bean and cheese burritos?! 

Say it ain't so!

I started reading packaging labels and was floored to discover that my favorite breads, cereals, crackers all contained soy or dairy. 

We saw our pediatrician last week and she said to go ahead and continue the dairy/ soy free diet and in a few months we will try to reintroduce dairy and see how he reacts. 

After a few trips to the store, I've found items I can eat. Fruits, veggies, beans, hummus, naan, basically vegan except for the eggs. I purchased a vegan protein powder that's delicious and I'm supplementing with that. 

         Before & after cutting dairy/soy

I have to say, a few days into our switch, Gino started to sleep better at night and has had far less gas and grunting. His diapers went from being dirty after every feed to maybe every other feed. His face cleared up after a week and he just seems happier overall. It will take another week of being off dairy before it's all out of his system, but I'm hopeful that we have  found the solution. 

Going dairy and soy free has proven beneficial to me as well. I have more energy and feel healthier. I've been walking more with the kids and started working out with Jillian Michaels' 30 day shred DVD (pretty sure I won't be shredded in 30--but I expect my endurance to improve). My skin is clearer and my bloated feeling is gone. I'm hoping to hit my pre-Carla weight within the next month, as I'm already at my pre Gino weight this past week. 

I'm still looking to create a dinner menu of dairy/soy free meals so please share any recipes or links you may have. My sister in law shared a few so I'm off to a good start but always looking for more!

And to my beloved cheese.....farewell till we meet again!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Yosemite 2015

One of the perks of being back stateside is being able to join our extended family on the annual trip to Yosemite. 

This year, 27 Zentils made it to Yosemite Village and enjoyed every minute of it (okay, maybe I didn't enjoy trekking back to the lodge with a screaming infant writhing in his blown out diaper because someone --ahem, me-- forgot wipes). But really, we had so much fun. 

On our first evening, we saw a bobcat right outside the picnic area we were sitting at. Later that evening we were greeted by lots of deer in the fields across from us. 

It rained much of the second day, but we managed to eek out a trip to lower Yosemite falls with the kids before naptime and rainfall arrived. It was cold. Really cold. Gino and I bundled up together under one of NZ's jackets and stayed warm together. 

My kids enjoyed running around with their older cousins. Carla took an instant liking to NZ's cousin Mike and would run to him anytime he was in sight. It was adorable. In fact, she ran right to the river's edge while he was out wading so he came over, scooped her up and took her out to see what was out there. 

We did lots of eating, telling stories, and playing games. This year the men took part in a family beard/ mustache contest which was judged on our last night there. Nick grew a stellar handlebar, but his cousin Rafi edged him out with a nice banker style stache for the title of best stache of 2015. 

There is nothing better than seeing the smiles on your kids' dirty little faces after a day spent in the outdoors-away from technology and the rest of the world. 

Traveling with little ones isn't convenient, but we both agreed many times during our trip that right now it isn't about us, and our level of comfort or expectations of relaxation.

It's about the kids. It's about providing them opportunities to spend time with relatives and get to know them. It's about seeing nature. It's about seizing the moment and letting them have these memorable experiences.

 One day in the future, my ol man and I will be able to sit down and relax as we did during Yosemite trips years past, but for now, we will put up with chasing our little ones away from rivers and big rocks so that one day they can tell stories of going to Yosemite as kids. 

A huge thank you to all of our family for being our village this past week and taking turns chasing, holding, feeding and loving on our kids. See you next year!


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Swimming Sal

Sal and NZ have spent the last five weekends attending parent & child swim lessons at a local pool. 

I missed the first 3 lessons, but made it to his last two. Before he started lessons I was preparing myself for a screaming miserable child. 

 Why? Because he hates getting his face wet. He cries every bath when we wash his hair/face. He won't touch a shower with a ten foot pole. Why would a pool be any different?

The report from NZ after his first lesson was that he absolutely loved it. 

I had to see for myself!

Carla, Gino and I sat poolside the last two classes and lo and behold, my water repellent son had a grin from ear to ear that never left his face. He happily scooped water with his hands and kicked his legs. He easily let go of his dad and spent time with his instructor during separation time, and was probably the loudest kid in the pool screaming! while jumping into the pool towards his dad. In fact last lesson, he kept asking when it would be time to jump. 

So yeah-- my kid surprised me in such a great way. He loves lessons and can't wait for next session when he gets to go with an instructor and no parent in the pool. Carla will start with Nick next session and I hope she enjoys it as much as he does. 

I'm one proud mama. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015


We've got a monkey in the house. 

Carla will climb just about anything these days. Thank goodness for so many nice playgrounds within a stones throw from our house. 

I love  that she's fearless but at the same time, she scares the crap outta me at least fifty times a day. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Light at the end of the repatriation tunnel

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Six months after repatriation, and we are still in transition. I would've (and probably did) laughed at anyone who told me repatriation really takes 1-2 years until you feel settled again. 

I'm learning that it's the truth. 

We finally got started on our remodel plans. I naively thought that we'd have it done before we moved in and definitely before Gino was born. Truth is, contractors are busy, and stuff takes time to order and organize. 

So here we are, starting our projects in April. 

I'm so excited that it outweighs the fact that I'm bathing my kids in a storage container and calling my husband's workbench in the garage, my kitchen for now. 

Here's a before of our pink tiled paradise. I can't say I miss that or the linoleum floor that was yellow and pink. 
Here's our in progress:
Nick has been busy painting the walls this weekend, so that grouting and vanity and toilet installation can take place this coming week. We chose BEHR Cumberland fog for the walls. It's a (surprise surprise) blue tinted gray. I can not get over my fear of choosing the wrong color (anyone ever seen the one color I did choose for the kids room? Atrocious. Still living with it too!). 

Hopefully by week's end this bathroom will be finished and my kids will no longer have to share a 2x3 storage bin as a bathtub. 

I spent the better part of last week emptying out kitchen cabinets and finding temporary homes for my dishes and food. It was brutal, as I came down with mastitis on Tuesday night and the last thing I wanted to do was move boxes. But, antibiotics kicked in and my son's teacher allowed him to come to school for a full morning so I could get the kitchen empty on Wednesday. 

Thursday morning, my kitchen started out like this:

And a few hours later:
So yeah- this is my current kitchen. 

Floors will get polished this week (we are doing polished concrete) and plumbing and electrical should be done shortly after. Then it's cabinet and appliance installation and housewarming party time!!!!!

Stay tuned for the finished product!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gino is 1 month

I'm a week late in posting this, but I have a feeling that's how all my updates are going to go from here on out. It's tough to find a quiet minute to sit down and blog anymore. 

                                              [one month old]

Gino turned a month old on the 25th. His first month was a challenging one, but we got through it. I've never known sleep deprivation the way I do now--but it is improving. He went from waking every 30-45 min his first few weeks to sleeping 2-3 hour stretches in the last week. Last night he even gave his mama a 5 hour stretch!

                                    [we bid farewell to his first pjs]

He's growing like a weed. He's up to 9lbs 8oz. I have to admit, I got a little sentimental packing up his newborn clothes to give to another mama. I'm not one to hold onto things for sentimental reasons, but if there was ever anything to wanted to keep, it would be his first little pjs (which were also Sal and Carla's first pjs). Instead, I neatly folded and placed them on top of the stack to give away. And cried. 

Yep. I got all weepy over folding pajamas. Someone help me! 

                                   [ getting "snuggles" from the bigs]

Gino is starting to interact more, and stay awake for longer stretches during the day. Right now, I've managed to have all three kids napping at the same time every afternoon. It's good for my sanity (and gives me time to clean up the tornado that sweeps through my living room every morning). I'm not sure how much longer their naps will coincide, but I'll take it as long as I can get it. 

We did take advantage of the newborn sleepiness and had a photo shoot with a local photographer (check out ) at the park. Here's one of my favorites below. 

                          [photo credit:]

                                           [ great grandma Pat]

He finally met his great grandma Pat and great aunt Cindy last week and also met his great uncle Greg and great aunt Michael the same day. It was his first trip to Santa Barbara. Other outings included going to the beach, playgrounds, a coffee date with my old college roommates and their babies and Sal's school. As much as I would've liked to have kept him quarantined, it's just not possible with two other kids who need to get out. 

Gino loves to sway in his rocker most afternoons and still enjoys a nice tight swaddle. He's still living in a pack and play in our room--but I'm ready to move him to his own room sooner than later. I think we all sleep better when we're in our own rooms.

All in all, his first month flew by at rocket speed. Happy first month, G!

Monday, April 20, 2015


Carla is a girl that knows what she likes...

Unlike her mama who only wears a few rings and stud earrings, Carla lovvvves to accessorize. 

Some of her award winning fashion this week:
Taking bucket cap to a whole new meaning. 

Stealing mama's "I didn't wash my hair for the last three days" hat. 

Insisting on using the tulle bow from our easter wreath as a headband. 

And last but not least, her favorite Sunnies. 

Not pictured but receiving honorable mention:

-wearing brother's (clean) skivvies as a hat.

-striped pants under Hawaiian shorts and a Mickey helmet on her head--backwards.