May 14, 2018

Lately in May


I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. I feel like this holiday (and other holidays) can be bring up some conflicting and sad emotions for a lot of people, so if you are one of those, I hope you found your peace this weekend and know that you aren't alone.

Our weekend was pretty low key. We tried to make a day at the beach happen on Friday (Brandon took the day off), but I think N wasn't feeling too great and we gambled with her nap time, which cut the day short. We laid low on Saturday and yesterday, we made it out to lunch at my favorite Nepoletana Pizza place. Brandon and Nora got me a new mug, Chrissy Teigan's cookbook, Cravings, and this set of OXO bowls I've been wanting forever. I felt so spoiled, though all I really wanted a decent non-selfie photo of me and my best girl.


Let's get into it.

Reading


I'm almost finished with Pioneer Girl: An Annotated Autobiography. Yes, it has taken me months, but it's practically a textbook and I have to be very alert when I pick it up, which happens only a few times a week. Don't let that fool you into thinking this book is boring though. It is anything but. I've been reading the novels along with it and it's so fascinating to have a look at the drama that actually unfolded behind the scenes. This family had it rough. I wish their lives were as cozy and happy as they appear in the novels, but there was definitely more to the story. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that they boarded a young couple with a baby during The Long Winter and basically that little family hoarded all of the food (the husband was selfish and his wife was nursing). Can you imagine? If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan at all, you have to read this book.

The editor, Pamela Smith Hill, actually taught a college course on LIW at Missouri State. How do I enroll?

For my next book, I'll be reading: Goodnight June by Sarah Jio (love her). I've read this before, but it's a fun fictional story about Goodnight Moon and with that being N's favorite book, it seems fitting for me to read it again. I almost wrote that this book is kind of "fluff", but I recently read that you should be proud of books you enjoy. If you enjoy them, there's nothing to apologize for. I'm kind of like this with music and movies too. I really don't like when people get snobby about their taste in literature, music, and movies

Feeling

like a fraud.

I wrote the Foodie Baby post and N was doing great with solid finger foods. And then just last week she went on a major food strike. She wouldn't eat anything. No pouches of food, none of her favorite foods, nothing. I was lucky to get three bites in her. Thank goodness she was taking all of her bottles (and we even upped the amounts). I think this due to three things: a top tooth coming in, the start of a new mental leap, and a slight cold. Thankfully, she's on the mend with the runny nose and that tooth emerged last night. Her eating is almost back to normal, though she still doesn't eat a whole lot. Throughout the strike, I'll be honest and say that I was getting so frustrated. I work hard to meet her nutritional needs and offer her a variety of healthy foods and it was frustrating not to see her want to eat them. But then I surrendered. She will not starve herself  and this is really only the beginning of challenges with toddlers and eating. I know we'll go through many peaks and valleys over the next few years and I've decided to just do my job of offering her good food to eat and let her do her job of deciding how much of it she wants to eat. We keep mealtimes fun and engaging and I will never force her to eat anything she doesn't want. Waving my white flag.

Eating

Speaking of eating...I had a friend recommend Mel's Kitchen Cafe to me and I've been hooked to her recipes since. They aren't as healthy as Skinny Taste (my go-to), but they are delicious. A few favorites of her's along with a few others I've enjoyed recently:

Chicken Tikka Masala - a new favorite
Healthy Chicken Nuggets - so good and perfect to share with N
Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes - the best way to make mashed potatoes
Skillet Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Rice - a husband favorite
Zesty Crockpot Chicken and Potato Stew - super easy to throw into the Crock Pot during nap time
Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili - a staple around here
Sheet Pan Teriyaki Salmon and Vegetables - I'm not a big fish fan, but this was really good

I'm still enjoying our Imperfect Produce box and it has forced me to really focus on cooking more at home and trying new vegetable side recipes. So far, I've really enjoyed this "recipe" for roasted veggies. Before N, I really didn't cook all that often. Brandon would get home from work around 8 or 9 and I worked at least until 7 (and would be on email until bedtime - I don't miss it), so I didn't have a lot of time to spend cooking. And while having N doesn't make cooking any easier, I do get to sneak into the kitchen a few times a week and I really enjoy it. There's something so relaxing about chopping a big batch of fruit or veggies.

Drinking



Coffee. Black.

Ah! My husband has pulled me to the dark side. I've been an avid tea drinker for years because coffee would give me the jitters and upset my stomach. I also just love the taste of tea and still have a cup or two each day. Brandon got into coffee (like really really into it) a couple years ago and has all the fancy gadgets to go with it. I learned how to use the Aeropress (actually he says my cups are better than his - I used to be a barista in college, so maybe my skills stayed with me?) and have been enjoying a cup of coffee every afternoon. Because we stick to light roasts, I haven't been shaky at all and I can get through the afternoon and busy evening with a lot more ease than before. Thank you, sweet coffee!

Coveting

A new computer. Ack. My 2013 Macbook Air is not starting up and I think she's a goner. I need to brave the Apple Store Genius Bar to see if there's any hope. If not, then I'm laptop-less. We have a Windows-based desktop (using now), but I've been an Apple fan for years now. I considered getting a Chromebook as a replacement since they are way cheaper, but I will certainly miss iMovie. I'm not sure if there's a suitable replacement for Chromebooks or Windows. And, I just started to get into making mini movies of N, which are priceless. Bummer!

Watching

The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu. Oh my goodness. I remember watching the first season when I was about to have N and then it was difficult to watch...now having her and feeling all of those strong Mom-emotions makes this show so much more heartbreaking. I cannot stop watching though and rooting for June. So thought-provoking, especially during this current political season.

Looking Forward To


Rocky Mountain National Park from a Colorado trip a few years ago. 

Colorado! A few years ago, my company gifted me with a super generous Ritz Carlton gift card. I've held onto it all this time, looking for cheapest rates to try and make the most of it (we are Air BnB people, not fancy hotel people). We landed on some great deals at the Ritz in Vail and so next month we are off to the mountains! We are spending three nights in Vail and then a few more nights in an Air BnB in the Boulder area with side trips planned to Fort Collins and maybe Rocky Mountain National Park. I cannot wait. While I don't miss working, I must say I miss some of the amazing benefits of my crazy old job.



What are you looking forward to? Can anyone relate to baby/toddler food challenges?

Apr 18, 2018

Favorite Baby Products at 9 Months




As I mentioned in my last post, I love a good baby product round up. I spent a lot of time researching baby products before N was born and while I did have some product regrets (I'm sure it happens to everyone), I think the majority of my research paid off.

Before we get into it, two things:

1. Not all parents and babies are the same, so if I steer you in the wrong direction, apologies.
2. No affiliate links because I don't know how to do that and I only have two readers, so what's the point?

The Basics

Pampers Pure Diapers
Now, I've tried a lot of diaper brands since N was born. A lot, you guys. I stocked up on eco-friendly diapers before she got here, but I never found a brand that was soft enough for my liking (Seventh Generation are terrible by the way). Pampers Swaddlers worked well when N was newborn, but I couldn't stand the fragrance they put in them. So eventually, I landed on Huggies and those have been our main diaper for the past few months. They get the job done. No real complaints, but when I recently heard about Pampers Pure, I was so excited. I remember telling Brandon in those first few weeks that I really wish Pampers had a fragrance-free diaper and we could end our diaper hunt then and there. And now they do. And let me tell you, they are amazing. So soft, so cute, and chemical-free to boot. Yes, they are bit more expensive, but I usually only buy diapers when Target is having one of their baby sales (spend x amount, get giftcard), which is all the time. I'm hoping that Pampers Pure go on Amazon Subscribe and Save soon. Fingers crossed. Walmart is also a good place to buy them.

Amazon Basics Sensitive / Unscented Wipes
You guys. I've been through just as many wipe brands as I have diaper brands, but once I found Amazon Basics, I was done searching. They are hands down the best. They are large, super soft, free of chemicals, just the right amount of wetness, and crazy cheap. These are our go-to. I do like Water Wipes and Honest wipes for washing N's face and hands, but for diaper changes, Amazon Basics in either Sensitive or Unscented cannot be beat. Perfection. Look no further.

Woolino 4 Season Sleep Slack / 2 months - 2 years
This was a recent splurge, but I cannot recommend it enough. Our house is pretty old and drafty. Each room is a different temperature and it drives me crazy. N's room can get really warm in the late afternoons but then cooler at night, so I was constantly worried if she was too warm or too cold. How do I dress her for a room that is 75 degrees but will be 70 degrees in a couple hours? With this sleep sack, I don't have to worry. Merino wool does a great job of regulating body temperature and is breathable, so I love that she can safely wear this during the warmer late afternoons, but stay snug as the evening cools. It's so well made and huge! It should last her until she's two and she can wear it for both winter and summer - no changing sleep sacks for the weather or as she grows! It's machine washable (I use baby shampoo instead of Woolite and works great), but I kind of want a back up one because it does take almost a full day to air dry. Would it be weird to ask for a sleep sack for my first Mother's Day?

Guava Family Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib
I am editing this post to add this product and I cannot believe I forgot to mention it. It's truly one of our favorite purchases. We had the Nuna Sena Aire travel crib in our room for a long time, but she recently outgrew the bassinet part and I am too short to put her in the crib on its lowest setting.We literally just sold that crib a few minutes ago! Anyway, we moved her real crib into our bedroom (she'll be sleeping in our room for a few more months until I can cut the cord) and we put our Lotus Travel Crib in her nursery for naps. Phew. That was long. This travel crib. It sets up easily, takes down easily, fits in its bag easily. Everything about it is easy. The reason I went for it was because it has a zipper front panel you can remove and place your baby in from the side. For someone as short as I am, this is CRUCIAL. And not only that, sometimes when N is settling for her naps, I can lay there right beside her and we snuggle while she dozes off and it's the best thing in the world. When I get up, I simply zip it up and she's safe and sound. It's genius. Oh and it's only 13 pounds and folds up tiny so traveling with it is a breeze. Love this thing to pieces.

Cat and Jack Socks
For some reason, they have terrible online reviews, but I went for it and tried them. We've been through so many brands of socks and each one has left marks on N's feet. I think she has larger than average feet and they would just look so tight uncomfortable. I finally went up a size to 12-24 months and they fit! They are also low cut, so they prevent the marks on her legs and while they don't stay on all the time, they do a relatively good job of it. And, apparently, N thinks they taste pretty good. I have to keep a backup pair on hand because her favorite thing is to eat her socks in the carseat.

Any Lift-the-Flap Books / Touch and Feel Books
N loves her books. I think we spend an average of two hours a day reading and if we stop reading, she gets super fussy at me, so we just continue on and on until I get hoarse or she has to eat or sleep. She's now in a stage where she loves books with flaps or interactive components. Some favorites are:

Pat the Bunny
First 100 Words Lift-the-Flap - I brought this out for the first time the other day and she started squealing and laughing and was so excited she could hardly contain herself. While she hates her tummy time (still not crawling!), if I lay this book in front of her, she'll stay there for a good 20 minutes looking at it.
Dear Zoo
Any Karen Katz Book: Where is Baby's Belly Button?, Zoom Zoom Baby, and Peek-A-Baby
Peek-A-Who?
Baby Touch and Feel Animals
Melissa & Doug Itsy Bitsy Spider Soft Activity Book

Feeding / Making Baby Food

As I mentioned here, I make almost all of N's baby food and we started with spoon-feeding, followed by finger foods. Here's a list of what helped me along the way.

Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair + Baby Set and Tray
Umm, also editing this post to add her high chair. How did I forget to write about her high chair? After about 10 friends recommending this chair, we bite the bullet and went for it. I wanted a high chair that didn't take up a ton of room, was easy to clean, comfortable for her, and would grow with her. This chair checks off those boxes and more. Even with a cushion, this chair is a breeze to clean, it looks sleek in our dining room (the gray color we got actually matches our Crate and Barrel chairs perfectly), and N seems to love sitting here (so I think it's comfy - it's supposed to be ergonomically correct). I love how this chair is going to grow with her (we've already had to move the footrest down one slot) and she'll be using this for yeas to come. My friend's daughter is seven years old and still uses this chair. Highly recommend!

Boon Swap Baby Spoons
These spoons are fantastic for a those first few months of purèes. They aren't as big as the other spoons on the market and there's a little dip in them that keeps the food on the spoon really well. I loved these and used them from 5 - 8 months.

Choo Mee Baby Starter Spoon
While N doesn't seem to mind me spoon feeding her most of the time, she does tend to want to do it herself sometimes, so I picked up these starter spoons. She loves them. They hold the food really well and if any falls off, you can easily pick it back up with the spoon. They also seem to be great for teething. She'll grab one and just chew on it for minutes at a time.

KidsMe Feeder in Size Large
This feeder is excellent and we use it almost every single day. My favorite use is for teething. I pop in some cut up frozen mango and it's sometimes the only thing that will help her poor gums. It's easy to load with food, clean, and very easy for her to hold. The only thing that bugs me is that it stains yellowish/orange from food, but that cannot be helped. I originally bought the size medium and it was much too small. If you are starting solids really early it might be okay, but I think you can go right to the large.

Nuk Mash and Serve Bowl
I use this all the time to mash up N's food before serving. If she's going to try what we are having for dinner, then I simply stick it into this bowl, give it a mash and serve. It's so much easier than breaking out the food processor or blender.

Bumkins Waterpoof Bibs
Must have! These do such a good job at keeping her clothes covered and clean while she's eating. I prefer to wash in the washing machine (in a lingerie bag to keep the velcro from ruining other clothing), but if I need to rinse them off in the sink, I can. Make sure you get the large ones (6-24 months).

Silicon Baby Food Freezer Tray
If you plan to make your own baby food, this tray is a winner. It has a lid, portions food into one ounce servings and doesn't stain. The frozen cubes come out easily too.

Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup
This is the only sippy cup she uses and I'm really happy with it so far. It doesn't leak when it topples over, but it will leak when she chucks it across the floor as I'm sure most cups would. It's super easy to clean (but don't forget the clear ring along the rim - it will mold if you don't remove and clean) and I'm hoping it does the job of teaching her how to use cup when she's old enough. She drinks from it okay, but sometimes I need to help her tilt it a bit to get some water. We are working on it! My goal is to have her drinking from a cup only at 12 months, so we shall see.

And that's a wrap. I could add a bunch more things to this list that I love (our stroller, our carrier, this picnic blanket, etc.), so if you have any questions, I LOVE to talk baby gear. Shoot me an email. In fact, if you are expecting and would like for me to create your gift registry, I'd totally be down for that. I did it for an old coworker. Not kidding.


What baby things are you currently obsessed with?

Apr 11, 2018

Foodie Baby


When I was pregnant last year, I watched an YouTube video of a mom feeding her baby solid food for the first time. Seems innocent enough, right? Then I read the comments and woah. Internet people are passionate about how to feed babies. This first time mom was criticized everything from what she was feeding her baby, how old her baby was, and was basically called an overly anxious mom who was trying to rush her baby's childhood. Yikes. I had no idea there was so many opinions about baby food. Naturally, this made me kind of nervous when it was time to introduce solids to N. I mulled over it quite a bit and went back and forth between Baby Led Weaning (no purèed foods, only finger foods) and traditional spoon feeding.

I ultimately decided to ignore the Internet people and simply go with my maternal instinct and our pediatrician's recommendations. It has worked really well for both of us.

We started N with a couple jars of baby food: sweet potato, pears, and oatmeal. She was about 4.5 months old (her doctor wanted us to give it a shot at this age) and didn't seemed to be super into it, so we backed off and waited a couple more weeks to try again.

Around 5 months, she was starting to get it and enjoyed it, so I started making her purèed food from scratch. Some say its a lot of work, but I didn't find to to be so bad and I actually enjoyed it. I made applesauce, peas, haricot verts, butternut squash, blueberries, avocado, carrots, and bananas. At this point, she wasn't eating a ton, so an hour or two in the kitchen on Sundays was sufficient. I bought The Amazing Make-Ahead Baby Food Book and it had some great suggestions for purèe combinations, cooking methods, and guidelines for storage and self-life. I definitely don't think you need a book to do this though. It's as simple as chop food, steam if needed, blend in a blender for food processor and divided into ice trays or a baby food tray (we like this one), and freeze.

She enjoyed holding pieces of real food, so I would give her a cucumber from time to time to gnaw on, but was careful to make sure she didn't take any bites off it (when she did and started choking, I stopped feeding her this way). We also tried roasted sweet potato strips and big pieces of roasted broccoli, but she did so well with purèed foods, that was our main focus and it eased my mind as far as choking went.


After a few months of experimentation with purèed foods, we are now diving into the world of finger foods! I didn't know how it would go at first, but I was surprised to see that she has an excellent pincer grasp and is totally ready to eat this way. She is also careful to chew up her food really well before swallowing (even without teeth!). Because I was a little worried about choking, her first finger foods were Plum Organic puffs, Happy Baby Teething wafers and Trader Joe's Bamba snacks (her doctor recommended these to give her early exposure to peanuts). Yup, all processed foods that lured me in with the phrase "dissolves easily". I'm a sucker for marketing.


Now, at 8.5 months, we are doing a very hybrid approach to solid foods: some homemade purèes, some store-bought purèes (things like beets, which I don't want to make or things that are hard to find like guava), some finger foods that I prepare or bits of what we are having for dinner, and some store-bought finger foods for snacks (such as Yogis and Puffs). We also do a combination of spoon feeding, self-feeding with a feeder, self spoon-feeding with the ChooMe spoon, and self feeding with small bits of food. She goes seamlessly from one method to the next and pretty much eats whatever I offer her. I'll try and savor that for now ;)


Brandon and I have always had discussions (even before a baby) about how we want to raise our child in terms of diet and nutrition. We obviously want our child to get a range of healthy foods, but we don't want to be so restrictive that they feel like they are deprived. Since a moderation approach is how we eat, we figured we'd do the same with N. [Side note: I really like Brittany's post on how to raise healthy eaters.] We do strive to make sure most of her food is organic, but we aren't militant about it. 

Here are some of her finger food meals lately:


Instant Pot garlicky organic black beans, steamed organic broccoli, Chicken Tikka Masala (mixed with greek yogurt to cut the spice). She preferred the broccoli over the other food. Crazy girl. 


Happy Baby Organic blueberry yogurt, Happy Baby mango and sweet potato puffs, organic strawberries. This breakfast was high in carbs and sugars, so I did veggie and protein heavy lunch and dinner that day. 


Whole wheat Dave's Killer Bread (I pulled this apart into chunks and made sure there were no seeds) with Kerrygold butter, steamed organic peas, organic peaches (I ended up putting these in her KidsMe feeder since they were slippery and hard to grasp.)

Breakfast is usually either yogurt, oatmeal & nut butter, or eggs served with fruit. Lunch and dinner always include a veggie and I'm now working on adding protein, such as beans, chicken, and quinoa.  Overall, I just try to keep a nice balance of fruit, vegetables, protein, carbs, healthy fats, and dairy and not stress too much about it. 

So that's our food journey so far. I've definitely had moments where I second-guessed myself and wondered if I was doing things right (thank you Amanda and Rachel for being my sounding board and offering great advice), but I feel like I'm now starting to find my way with it. I don't know why it was so intimidating at first, but I suppose all things baby are, huh?

I might follow up with my favorite baby food gear - bibs, spoons, feeders, etc. You know I love a good gear post!


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