Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bubby's first food: a step-by-step guide to making your own babyfood.

We chose pears as Bubby's first food. (As an aside, I don't particularly like the term "first food." After all, wasn't their first food breastmilk???) We didn't have a really important reason for choosing pears. They are easily digested and organic Bartlett pears were on sale for super cheap the last time we were at Whole Foods. Avocado, bananas, and sweet potatoes are also great first foods for babies.

When I tell people that I make all of the kids' babyfood I sometimes get the response, Oh, I would never have time for that. People take different approaches to making babyfood. I have friends who took a whole Saturday and cranked out eight or nine batches of babyfood. As for me, I like to take my time. When I made babyfood for Beanie I just made a batch once, maybe twice, a week. After a couple weeks you have a nice stash of babyfood in the freezer. I like it better that way. I seem to have little spurts of time, but definitely don't have a whole day (or even afternoon) to devote to making babyfood.

Making homemade babyfood is easy. I love knowing exactly what is in Bubby's first foods. We use all organic produce. We don't necessarily eat entirely organic as a family, but I've always used organic products for babyfood. I figure if my child is being introduced another food besides my breastmilk I want it to be organic.

The following is a guide based on how I made Bubby's first food: pears.

1. Pick what food you want to introduce. This chart from Wholesome Babyfood gives recommendations on what foods are best for baby based on age. There are some foods that you likely want to avoid. Research and recommendations on these have been changing, so check with your pediatrician and do your own research.

2. Cut the pears into small pieces. They don't need to be peeled unless you prefer to do so. Pear peels are easily digested. Our pears were so tasty that quite a few pieces found their way into Beanie's tummy. And mine.

3. Steam the pears. I have sources that say cooking fruit is not necessary, however I have always given our fruits a light steam. I think it makes them easier to puree and prefer to play it on the "safe side." Steaming fruits is recommended for babies under eight months of age to help break down sugars and fibers (Wholesome Babyfood). Given Bubby's digestive issues I think we'll steam fruits for some time, longer than eight months of age for sure. You can also cook your babyfood by baking, boiling, or microwaving. Baking and steaming are the best methods.

4. Puree the pears. I use our Cuisinart food processor to puree our fruits and veggies. It works great. You could use a mixer, a blender, or (for some foods) even just a potato masher or fork. Puree the fruit to your desired thickness. For baby's first foods you want it to be very thin. You can thin with breastmilk, formula or water as you puree or afterward when you serve. Never refreeze thawed breastmilk. If I mix breastmilk in, I always do it after thawing the puree, just before serving. There are a few reasons for this: (1) I don't really pump so any "extra" breastmilk we have on hand is in the freezer and (2) If I wait to thin (or thicken as it may be) the foods I can play it by ear as to what baby needs. Pears shouldn't really need thinning. Mine definitely didn't. I think the only food I thinned beforehand for Beanie was sweet potatoes and we used breastmilk for that.

5. Pour the food into ice-cube trays for freezing. Or, should I say, make sure you actually have some ice cube trays before you even start. See I thought I knew where our ice cube trays were and didn't realize they were missing in some box somewhere until after I started making the pears. I wanted to get silicone ones, but we stuck with regular old ice-cube trays. Each cube is about one ounce of food.

6. Freeze. Easy enough, right? Here's some  information about freezing your babyfood.
7. Store. I use Ziploc freezer bags. I am sure there are plenty of other more environmentally friendly methods, but we're not exactly rolling in the dough and we had a ton of Ziploc bags on hand. I freeze smaller batches in quart size bags and then put those bags inside a gallon-sized freezer bag. Then, when ready to use, I bring one smaller bag into our kitchen freezer and leave the others out in the coffin freezer. Make sure and mark the bags with what's inside and the date you made it.

8. Thaw and feed to baby. When starting out , I just take one or two cubes out of the freezer the night before and thaw for the next day. As you continue with feeding your baby solids, you'll get an idea of how much they might eat each day and you can plan more easily.

It's so easy. I promise you that you can do it. It's fun. 

I just pulled some pears out of the big freezer for Bubby. He hasn't tried any yet, but most likely today or tomorrow. They smell so good.

The best advice I got when Beanie was first eating solid foods was that, as a mom, you're in charge of the quality of food given to your baby. Let them determine the quantity. Good advice, even now with a toddler. If your baby isn't interested in baby food yet, put it down. Wait a week and try again. I assure you that someday they will be interested. Don't stress yourself out about it. For the first year, solids are meant only to complement breastmilk or formula. They're for fun, for development. Not for mama stress!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

TV Turn off Week 2010 Success!

Last week was TV Turn Off Week. We were successful! Not in having it completely off the whole week, but we really cut back. On most days Beanie saw one, maybe two, shows, so less than an hour of TV. And, if there is such a good thing, we watched "good" shows. Word World. Super Why! And a little bit of Kipper before bed. Oh, we love Kipper in this house.

And to put a final punctuation mark in TV Turn Off Week, on Friday we went in and downgraded our cable. We've talked about if for quite some time, both for financial reasons and because it would force a shake-up in our media addiction. Now we have 2-29, basically the news and some local stations. PBS for Beanie. We gave up Comedy Central, On Demand, HBO and a whole lot of other stuff. And we're saving a TON of money.

The thing I've noticed over the last week is that if we don't turn on the TV first thing in the morning (before I'd often turn it on for Beanie while I made breakfast), then it doesn't stay on for hours afterward. It's too easy to just keep it on. If you never turn it on, then no worries! Beanie has taken to playing in her playroom while I make breakfast. Doing puzzles. Helping me. I don't get online (which is a topic for another post -- I've really been working on cutting back on that media addiction!). When I lay Bubby down for his first nap (usually 1 1/2 hours after we wake up) Beanie may watch a show. While he naps we have been doing "school."

Last night Beanie was upset we couldn't watch The Good Night Show before bed. I think we may go pick up a Kipper DVD so we can watch a quick episode before stories and bed.

So, success! If you've read this blog for any amount of time you probably know of my love/hate relationship with television. From The Great TV Test of 2009 to my constant (failed) efforts to curb our television viewing to the recurrent mommy guilt about TV, internet and etc. I'm really excited about this change in our household. I think it'll force us to give up something that has become a habit for us. And, who knows what we'll find ourselves doing instead!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Last winter Glenn and I decided not to enroll Beanie in preschool. It was pretty much cost-prohibitive at the time (and likely still is) and we wondered why there was any need to send Beanie to preschool when we could teach her at home. We decided that we would devote time to teach her at home. Fast forward to having a baby and a colicky baby nonetheless and that has never really materialized.

We have recently picked up some Kumon books and other activity books to work with, but my thinking on learning has evolved too. Teaching and learning isn't something we do for an hour three times a week. It's a constant activity in our house. We talk about things we see and why things are the way they are; we learn about colors, letters and numbers at the grocery store; we cook and bake together; we go outside and explore nature.

Teaching Beanie isn't something that starts and stops. It's a daily, hourly, constant process.

Sure, I would like to set up some dedicated time to working on certain things. Activities that she enjoys and chooses. Right now, she's really interested in letters, spelling and reading so we've been doing a lot of that. She is very excited to start art class again. I am too because this mommy is more of a logical, analytical thinker so letting someone else help with the creative part is great.

What sort of activities do you do with your children to foster constant learning?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

As I said before last week we were at the beach. Before we left I made Glenn dig out the Nikon D100 that his dad had sent him a long while back. (Long story short, when we were in Maui when I was pregnant with Beanie, Glenn went out on some rocks to take pictures. A big wave came up and totally freaked out his 14week pregnant wife the ocean water ruined his camera. His dad sent him his used Nikon to replace it, but Glenn had already bought a Canon since he shoots exclusively with those and all his lens, filters, etc are Canon.) I've been bugging him for AGES to find the Nikon so I can play around with taking good pics. What better place to start learning than at the beach?

And, now for my not-so wordless anymore Wednesday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 9/20

Well, we're really getting back into eating at home now. I'm so ready to feel in control of my eating again. And, I told Glenn I was taking over meal-planning and cooking this week. He's awesome and cooks quite a bit of the time, but I know it's stressful for him sometimes and I really want to try and make a change and see if I can help. Added bonus, I'll feel in control of being able to menu plan and save money and he doesn't have to worry about making dinner when he should be getting ready to wind down for bed.

 We'll still plan seven meals for seven days and I'll pick the night before for the following day.

Indonesian Chicken
Meal 1: Beans & Rice -- pork sausage, kidney & pinto beans, and mexican-style diced tomatoes served over white rice.

Meal 2: Italian Sausage Soup

Meal 3: Indonesian Chicken (I use balsamic vinegar + a dab of molasses in place of the soy sauce to make it soy-free)

Meal 4: Chicken Fajitas (corn tortillas for me, flour for the hubby and kiddo)

Meal 5: La Bamba Casserole (no cheese for dairy-free)

Meal 6: Pho (Going to try this new this week and adapt to make with chicken)

Meal 7: Pork Chops with spice rub and BBQ sauce. I'll probably try to make some gluten-free cornbread and green salad to go with it.

Visit Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more recipe ideas.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dining out when on a restriced diet.

It's darn near impossible I tell you.

We spent last week on the Oregon coast. It was beautiful.

Before we left my biggest worry was probably wondering how the heck I was going to eat when away from home, especially now that I am soy-free too. I decided to pack some staples (brown rice pasta, quinoa pasta, quinoa, gluten-free bread, etc) and stop at the store on the way down to get fresh goods. Luckily we had a full kitchen in our condo so cooking for myself should not be a problem. We planned that I would cook "in" and Glenn could order from the restaurant and get it to go. Or I would just cook for all of us.

But, we were on vacation. My dad and step-mom were there a few days. They wanted to take us out. We ended up exploring down the coast one afternoon and needed lunch while we were away. My step-mom wanted to take us to a hippy dippy (her words) place for lunch. Supposedly they had gluten-free bread. Not that that would guarantee that it was also dairy- and soy-free, but whatever. The only thing hippy dippy about the place was that they wore tie-dyed tee shirts. And they didn't have any gluten-free bread that day.

I was frustrated because as careful as I was being I knew there was a very strong likelihood that I was consuming soy, and probably even some unknown dairy or wheat. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle trying to explain it, even to Glenn. When I said something about how we needed to get back to only eating at home so we can get the soy back out of Bubby's system, Glenn was like "what???!?!" I tried so hard, but who knows what was in the corn tortilla (that I ordered instead of flour), the salad dressing (that I used oh so sparingly), or what cooking oils they used for the fish and chicken.

I know it's probably hard for anyone to understand who doesn't have to eat this way, but it really is just impossible. At the beginning of our trip I had been soy-free for two weeks. Bubby was doing better. Finally! He also cut a tooth the first day we were there, so he had extra reason to be fussy but we still had noticed improvement in his mood and his diapers. And, he hasn't had any hives since I gave up soy. Now I feel like we totally back-tracked. Like we're back on day one of being wheat-, dairy- and soy-free. I'm sure relatively small amounts, if any, were consumed but Bubby has had horrible diapers today. It's like his body is ridding itself of the allergens. And it's just like before I re-eliminated the soy.

At least we're back home and I can know without a doubt what I am eating. That's the only way to be sure.

On a side note, I think Glenn is starting to realize how hard it is to be soy-free. He keeps looking at labels and saying, "Soy! Why?" I wonder too. Does anyone know why it's so prevalent in EVERYTHING?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In complete denial.

My baby boy is six months old today.

My last baby is six months old.

Didn't I give birth to him, like, yesterday???

He was so tiny. (As an aside, it's so funny because when people meet Bubby -- all almost eighteen pounds of him -- they assume he was big at birth. Like ten pounds. But, no, he was 6lb 13oz. All that chunk is due to mommy milk thank you very much.)

He laughs & giggles. Thinks his sister is the funniest thing ever.

He's got an awesome tuft of long hair right on top of his head. Makes for a great comb-over.

He smiles huge.

He sits up.

He's cutting his first tooth.

He blows raspberries & drools everywhere.

He tries so hard to talk. Says hi. And has ma, da, and ba sounds down. Sometimes the "muuuuumm" when he wants his mama. Sometimes a dada. Beanie tries hard to get him to say, "Big Sissy."

He loves being in the Ergo. Thankfully I've helped Glenn discover the Ergo while my back is healing.

He loves being outside and seeing new things.

He's the cutest little baby boy I've ever seen. Not that I'm biased or anything.

And he's six months old?!??!?!?!

Gheesh. Before I know it, he'll be one.

Happy Half Birthday Sweet Boy!

You can read Bubby's birth story here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What would you say?

I saw this post over at PhD in Parenting and knew I had to share it here.

I may not be a first-time mom, but I think we can all use a reminder of the following things. For some reason, mommy guilt is pretty pervasive, but these reminders work well for occurrences in all avenues of life.

Check out the post and video.

What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time to right before you had your first child?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Red Quinoa with Papaya & Mango Salsa and Arugala

Before going on this elimination diet I had never had quinoa. I didn't even really know how to pronounce it (think keen-wa). When I was only dairy-free a friend who was dairy- and soy-free told me she tried to look at it as an opportunity to explore new foods rather than a time of "Oh, I can't have this (and this and this and this)." I've tried to keep that mindset and we have tried a lot of new foods. Quinoa is one of my new favorites. And after a friend told me that she had it for breakfast I realized it's even more versatile than I thought!

I can't take credit for thinking up the idea for this quinoa salad. We were at Trader Joe's and they were sampling this recipe and it was so delicious we decided we would have to make it at home. And, hell must've froze over because Glenn said he wanted salmon to go with it. Salmon?!??! For the record, I love salmon but Glenn doesn't care for fish much at all and salmon has always been at the top of his I-dislike-fish list. So, when he said we should pair salmon with the quinoa salad I thought he was joking. Alas, he wasn't. And he actually liked it. (Yay!) Beanie ate a lot of salmon too. She kept asking for more and eventually ate a fair amount of the quinoa salad too.

Red Quinoa with Papaya & Mango Salsa and Arugala

  • Red quinoa, prepared as per directions on box and chilled
  • Fire roasted papaya & mango salsa (you could make your own with papaya, mango, chiles, cilantro, onions and lime but we just bought the prepared one at Trader Joe's. It's super yummy.)
  • Arugala, chopped

To be honest, I didn't really measure out the ingredients. I put the quinoa in a bowl and stirred in the salsa & arugala until there was enough for my liking.

This is one of my new favorite cool salads & I'm so glad there are leftovers!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Booster Seat Ratings Out

One of the things I have become pretty passionate about over the last three years is car seat safety. And, in fact, we are about to purchase a new car seat. We have considered moving Beanie into a convertible-to-booster such as the Britax Frontier or the Graco Nautilus & moving Bubby into her Britax Marathon. I'm not really sure she's ready for a new seat and the Marathon fit hers very well. In all likelihood, we will probably be buying a Graco MyRide for Bubby and leaving her in the Marathon. Yes, it's more money now. But, their safety is of the utmost importance.

All that mumbo jumbo to say Do your research before you buy a car seat. Don't buy the one you see at Costco because it's a good deal. Don't buy the one your friend uses because it works well for her kid. The infant bucket seat you buy (should you choose to use that instead of a convertible seat initially) will not last as long as you think it will. The convertible seat that says will last to 65lbs may not last because of your child's height. It is safest to keep your child rear-facing until they exceed the height & weight limits for their seat. It is best to keep them in a 5pt harness as long as possible.

Yesterday I saw a news report about new ratings on booster seats. Check it out.

Car booster seats make gains in insurance testing

Have your child test out the seat before you buy it. Test it out in your car. Have it checked by a certified technician after you install it. 

Okay, stepping off my soapbox now ;)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Eight Years Ago Today...

...I married Glenn. We've stuck it out through thick and thin and he's been the best friend and partner ever. And, come to find out over the last three years, he's also the most amazing dad ever. I don't tell him often enough. I'd be lying if I said it's always been easy. At times it's been very, very hard. But it's always been worth it.

Happy Anniversary honey.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

So, did you miss me?

Just kidding.

Actually, it feels like I haven't blogged in forever, but it really hasn't been that long. I've been doing some thinking, reevaluating, and et cetera. Blogging just hasn't fit in.

There are a few reasons for this.

I have a life. Like a real one. Not the one that involves me checking things ten million times a day on the computer. And, honestly, handling things in my real life is just taking precedence over all this online crap. Twitter was fun. Facebook is fun. I LOVE to blog. I love my online friends. But, I can't be sitting around being hurt because people didn't comment on my blog, laugh at my tweet, or comment on my facebook stuff. That stuff, while sometimes extremely fun and time-wasting is not my life. I need to focus on the things that are important and that's my husband (happy 8th anniversary honey!), my children, and forging relationships with people in real life who support me and reciprocate my friendship.

I'm not really sure where I want to go with my blog. Do I want to continue as a diary of my adventures in mommyhood? A platform for providing information to other moms? I really liked writing my Examiner articles, but, for reasons that will remain unsaid, I'm really not going anywhere with that right now. I love researching things and providing information though; could that be incorporated here more so than it has been in the past? Do I want to give stuff away? Amass hundreds of followers? Post lots of recipes? Network with other bloggers? Are people actually interested in reading about our day-to-day happenings? Where can I go so that it will continue to be enjoyable for me and for my readers?

I'm depressed. And anxious. There I said it. I've felt it pervading my life for a good amount of time here. They say that moms have the hardest time admitting it. They feel like they should be able to have a handle on everything. That they should be able to get it together. That it will get better. They just need to try harder. Well, I've tried all those things and it's sort of gone to pot. I'm sad. Lonely. My anxiety (which centers on safety-type of things -- the house burning down, the kids and hubby being safe, etc etc) is at a level it hasn't been at in years. I'm checking things. Like I check the doors are locked. Sometimes when I get the kids into the car I run back and check again because that's how my obsessive compulsive tendencies manifest. It's not as bad as it has been in the past. Before it was the oven, the coffee pot, the doors, the list could go on and on. I could drive and be halfway to work and have to turn around and double check the oven was off or the front door was locked. I don't know why I'm really sharing all this, perhaps it's a bit cathartic?

I have a three year old. Which, in and of itself, should really be enough, lol. But, I also have an infant. And a husband. And, oh, there's me that needs to be taken care of as well.

I don't know if this all is post-partum depression or anxiety or what. I have a history of depression & anxiety so maybe it's just rearing it's ugly head again? The timing is awesome too (said oh so facetiously) because fall and winter are approaching and seasonal depression usually hits me a little even when I am at my best. So, it's time to get things in order. Time to worry about the important things and find the support system I need. Not the time to worry about who is (or isn't) reading my blog, keeping up with my on Facebook and et cetera. If you want in, you're in. I'll try to reciprocate as best I can right now. Right now I feel like I'm barely hanging on some days. We have a lot going on here between Glenn's work, Beanie's toddler-ness, and Bubby's food intolerances.

The last six months have been hard. I'm really ready for things to turn around over the next six months. Gosh, hopefully sooner!