Saturday, June 24, 2017

"You're Doing Pretty Freaking Great Mama"

This is a quote that hangs on the wall above my desk. It's actually a business card from a place where I bought a chewable necklace. But I kept it. Because it's a good reminder to me that the little victories in life do count. They DO matter. A week ago yesterday, I was running on the trail by our house and pushing Carter in his jogging (OK, MY jogging stroller), when an older man passed me on his bike. He spoke four simple words, that when combined together, gave me the burst I needed to feel good about myself and my accomplishments (big or small) and to keep pushing through the difficult times. I had meant to write about it sooner, but it kept skipping my mind. Perhaps that was, in a sense, because I was pushing the positivity away and allowing negativity to overcome me. In truth, this was actually the second time this sweet old man had said these words to me on one of my runs. As I contemplate life, which I do quite often with my "free time," I am reminded that there is always good to be found in the world, even and especially on those days that are our hardest.

You may feel alone. You may feel overwhelmed. You may feel worthless. You may feel unaccomplsihed. But it's not true. Christ is there with you. The dishes and laundry can wait while you play with your child or take a nap to revamp your mental health. You are valued because you are of a divine inheritance and God loves you. You are accomplished because you are trying to improve, even if it's only a centimeter a day.

And, as this kind old man said:

"Good morning beautiful mama!" 

Because, why yes. It IS a good morning and I am a beautiful mama. Inside and out.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Carter Tries Solids: Yellow Squash & Butte-er-nert Squersh

Carter had his 6 month check-up on Monday! Good news! He's still healthy! Just on the small side. And there is not a thing wrong with that! I am completely fine with him still wearing some 0-3 month clothes. His 3-6 month clothes fit, but are a little baggy. And for some odd reason almost all of his 3-6 month clothes are long sleeve! It's the middle of JUNE! Unless there's some freak snow storm coming, this kid is going to roast. So that is why I am constantly rolling up his sleeves. Because of Carter and his wardrobe "issues" per say, I am more aware of baby gifts to friends who are expecting their own little bundle of joy. I now have this philosophy that clothes are cute. But what I think is cute may not be cute to the parent. I have therefore tried to plan my baby gifts to be a little more practical. A sleeper, with a ZIPPER is ideal and then diaper rash cream or saline nose wipes (Boogie Wipes brand are the best) and some chap stick or lotion for mom because taking care of the new mom is JUST as important.

In other news, the little Munchkin has another red skin spot from his helmet, so here we go adjusting again. I swear, we've gotten this thing adjusted 17 times! (or perhaps just 3...4?) They were able to squeeze us in at 12:45 today. Which is sad because that's the doctor's lunch break and Carter's naptime! Oh man I treasure his 12 o'clock nap time because it's usually 2 hours long! :(

On Monday, we taste tested yellow squash. Carter's reaction. None. It was as if he'd had it before and didn't care that it was new and had a new flavor.

Yes, that would be yellow squash on his nose
Last night, we tried Butte-er-nert Squersh (aka Butternut Squash) and that boy was extrememyl UNHAPPY as soon as it was all gone! He screamed for a couple of minutes. I guess he really liked it! So far, out of the three he's tried, Butte-er-nert Squersh is his favorite, followed by banana, and then yellow squash.

More! More! More!
I also tried making more dried melt-in-your-mouth baby cereal last Saturday. I cooked them in increments of 5 minutes at 250 degrees instead of 350 for 40-50 minutes. This time, the color turned out perfect! But they were so hard and chewy that they were definitely a chocking hazard. I decided that maybe I'll try again another time, but it just wasn't working for me at this point. Until then, I had some amazing coupons on the Comforts for Baby brand cereal puffs. Also, after having talked to our pediatrician about solid foods, any food that Carter can handle is an ok. The only "no-no foods" he stated were cow's milk and uncooked honey until 12 months of age. (That means honey-nut cheerios are OK. Good. Because he likes them as a fun snack in the afternoon and it's great practice for that pincer grasp. Also, new research has showed that the late introduction of peanuts (or peanut butter) to an infant is actually more likely to show an increase in a peanut allergy. Our pediatrician stated that a small scoop of peanut butter in a food that Munchkin has already tried is OK. And to always remember to wait to introduce new foods until it's been at least 2-3 days. Just to watch for allergies. More info on peanut allergies can be found here, as linked from The American Academy of Pediatrics.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Carter Tries Solids: Bananas

This week, we introduced Carter to his first solid food: bananas! His first reaction was surprise, but then he would open his mouth and lean forward, begging for more. It was so great!


Because this is his first solid food, we haven't introduced any others just yet. But we will on Monday! It will definitely get more exciting as we go.

My philosophy is that baby food is extremely expensive. Many baby foods contain added sugars or ingredients that Squeaks (or anyone else for that matter) doesn't need. So, I took to making my own baby food. I'd done some searching and looking for best ways to make my own baby food, but it turned out that what works for one person might not work for another. Go figure. At our last grocery run a week ago, I spent $25 on fresh produce and now have a months supply of baby food in our freezer. It provides variety and color to the Munchkin's new diet but also makes our tiny freezer seem even smaller. Have I ever mentioned that there's no shelf in it? Insert eye roll and exaggerated sigh here. 

In case you are curious, here is what we made.

Butternut Squash (a SMALL one): 18-2 ounce servings
Sweet Potato: 9-2 ounce servings
Zucchini (2 small): 9-2 ounce servings
Yellow Squash (2 small): 9-2 ounce servings
Carrots (5 med/large): 9-2 ounce servings
Bananas (5 small/med): 8-2 ounce servings
Apple (5 small): 9-2 ounce servings
Pear (4 small): 9-2 ounce servings
Avocado (3 large): 9-2 ounce servings
Blueberries (16 ounces): 4-1 ounce servings (It may seem odd that I went from 16 ounces fresh berries to 4 ounces pureed, but that's just how it happened. And I only ate about 4 blueberries!)
Peas (12 ounce bag frozen): ??? I haven't done this one yet. :)

From what I've done so far, it's actually pretty easy. The hardest part was peeling the apples, pears, and sweet potato as well as sorting the apples and pears. The instructions I used suggested saving cooking pots by combining the apples and pears together in boiling water...because apples turn more yellow and pears more white after cooking. Well, unless you have super eyes, I would say this is kind of false. Spencer had to sample quite a few pieces of apple and pear because I couldn't tell the difference between taste or color.

Apples & Pears (that large, uncut pear was sooo soft I couldn't cut it!)

If you are interested in making your own baby food, here's what I did.
Bake the butternut squash and sweet potato for 40 minutes at 350 F. (Poke holes in the sweet potato and half the Butternut Squash lengthwise)
Steam the sliced zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots (no peeling necessary) for 20 minutes.
Boil the apples and pears for 10-20 minutes.
Steam the frozen peas in the microwave according to package instructions (about 5-8 minutes)
No need to cook the bananas, avocado, and blueberries.

My tiny rice cooker/steamer: If you have a bigger one, you can probably steam all 3 veggies at once
Steamed butternut squash is so yummy!

I would suggest adding a little bit of water to each food when you puree it. You can always thicken up the puree with rice or oatmeal baby cereal, but if it's too thick, you'll just kill the motor on your blender or food processor. I would also suggest, from experience, to just mash the desired amount of blueberries at the table when you're about to feed your little one. It was such a hassle to blend it because it separated (juice and meat) before I was able to freeze it and it didn't make very much. I have a KidCo hand food mill. Works pretty great in my opinion.

Yellow Squash, separated blueberries, Banana ready to go into trays

I also use the Baby Bliss Freezer Trays for Carter's food. They are amazing. They're made out of silicon, dishwasher/freezer/oven safe, and are extremely easy to clean and pop out the frozen food cubes.

Love these trays. You can get them here
Oh, and one more thing. I attempted to make homemade dry baby cereal puffs. My oven is so off with the temperature that when I baked them, I turned the temperature down from 350 to 300 and cooked them 30 minutes instead of 50 minutes and they still burnt! When we made them at my sister's, we added way too much fruit puree. Needless to say, they both failed. So, here's to trying one more time so they don't look like dried dog poo. :/
Burnt to a Crisp!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Summer Time Lovin'

It's here! It's here! It's here! Are you as excited as I am about summer? (Okay, so it' still spring until June 21st) Most all teachers get the summers off. But not seminary teachers. Spencer has been faithfully going to work everyday (as he should be) while Carter and I enjoy the summer! I usually don't like summer because it's soo hot. In fact, the only reason I do enjoy summer is mainly for one thing. The pool!

On Friday, I made the dive in and Carter and I went to the pool! Mauri and Marek tagged along and we enjoyed ourselves on the lazy river. We got there right at 12:30 and lathered up in sunscreen and hats for the babes and Mauri and I put on sunscreen too. Clearly though, not enough! But, this is how Carter and I are going to party every week. While Spencer is at work in his office or having trainings and other meetings, we're going to the pool. I LOVE the pool. I'm not a good swimmer but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the pool! We had fun. Despite the Lil' Man's face in the pictures, he enjoyed himself a lazy float for a couple hours (and yes, we took some breaks in there so Squeak's skin didn't turn all pruney and he didn't freeze).

Waiting for the floaty to get blown up

Cousin Marek couldn't see in the sun

Retake: Marek makes it hard to get a good picture with him ALL over the place

Sisters and babes

He got so mad when I took his strawberry away

Gummed that strawberry to mush!

It was fun to be out in the water and the sun and just to feel like it really is summer! We prepared for this pool-loving summer by buying the City Pool Punch Card (still such a rip off since I grew up with a subdivision pool, but at least I'm only paying $3.50 a punch instead of $5.50 for every time I go). I've done the math, we can go to the pool about twice a week, or once a week if Spencer comes. But, it will be the BEST thing ever! 

Coming up next time: 
Carter tries solids.

Yep, that's right! We've been giving him rice cereal on some nights at dinner, holding off on solids for as long as possible (I am NOT looking forward to those super stinky diapers), but he inevitably needs those iron and nutrient rich foods. Today, I've been gathering recipes for baby cereal puffs, yogurt melts, and easy bulk purees to prep us. Then, it's less time the day of.

I'll share in a different post about my DIY and Homemade Baby Food and Snacks experience. I am all for saving money and giving my Munchkin the healthiest food options out there. Real food. None of that added sugar or preservative stuff.