Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WNPO...Because partying is more fun with no pants on! (A little about our experience with cloth diapers.)

Just about everytime I am out with the Nug, I am asked one of 3 questions.
"How old is he?"
"Where did you get that baby carrier?"
"How do you like those diapers?"

The first question is a no-brainer (Happy 9 month birthday to Nugget as of this past Sunday!) and the second is really easy to answer - by far the best $15 I've invested in baby carrying-Snugglebug Slings, which is a "pouch-style carrier.

I actually used to carry cards with the website on it since I got asked so often.  I ran out after a week.

This sling is not meant for heavy duty baby wearing, but is PERFECT for running errands.  It's one loop of fabric that can be worn multiple ways, and it takes about 5 seconds to put it on.  No straps, buckles, ties or snaps.  Just slip it on, slip baby in, and you're off.  And you can pick the colors!  But I digress...this is supposed to be about cloth diapers. 

The third question is a bit more involved.

We LOVE cloth diapering.  You don't have to.  Diapering, like just about every decision you'll make as a parent is a personal choice.  I mean, it's basically baby underpants.  I wouldn't knock your choice of undergarment, and I don't expect others to knock mine.  Or our baby's.  Like I said, personal choice.  (There's nothing more irritating-and common-than other parents telling you why you should do something their way, or why they didn't do it how you did.)  This is our experience.

Why cloth? 

It's economical.  We have bought 4 packs of disposable diapers (called "sposies") in 8 months.  One was a box of Swadders for the first few weeks when the cord was still attached ($40).  We have 2 packs of size 2 diapers, one from Target ($12) and one other pack ($18) which we have barely touched.  One was a pack of swim diapers ($9).  So we've spent about $80 on sposies, most which were used in the first 2 months of Nugget's life.  I remember the prices because I was so surprised at how quickly babies go through a box of diapers.  (Experts say 6-8 changes a day once you pass that first few weeks, so a 36-count box won't last a week...again, that's just an estimate.)

Cloth diapers are cute!  The patterns and colors of cloth diapers are beyond adorable.  

Blue Giraffe!
And Nugster can wear "just a diaper" with a shirt and look clothed, while with sposies, it may not be quite as cute since sposies tend to be thin and... 

Sposies smell funny (to me).  I really dislike the smell of baby pee+disposable diaper.  Chemicals.  Ew.

Better for the environment.  Yeah, I do care about the environment.  Diapers stick around for a long time.  But actually that was the least compelling reason.       

Best Bottoms
The cloth diapering system we chose is called Best Bottoms.  I'm definitely not being compensated for this review (or any reviews I write), so this is an honest, unbiased opinion.  How do they work?  I'll let this picture do the talking. 

The Best Bottom shells come in a variety of prints, and are durable and thick.  It's an "all-in-2" system, meaning that the diaper uses shell and an insert.  They are one-size so they will work for Nugget through the potty training phase (they even make potty training inserts and side tabs).

The Stash:

8 shells (Moolicious, Green Giraffe, Blue Giraffe, Orange Sherbert, Chunky Monkey, Double Chocolate, Cookies-n-Cream and Very Cherry) some velcro, some snap.

25 inserts (some cotton, some hemp, some microfiber, in size med, large, and overnight/doubler).

We have 2 wet/dry bags with one at the changing table, and another on stand-by for laundry time.  The wet/dry bag holds all of the dirty shells and inserts.

Easy as...

#1-When Nug is wet, we remove the pad, put it into a wet/dry bag, wipe him, wipe out the shell, and snap in a new pad.

#2-(Because poo happens) Take off dirty diaper, put into wet/dry bag, wipe him, put on new shell w/pad.

You can also preassemble all your shells and inserts, and use them as you would a regular disposable diaper (take off wet diaper-put in wet/dry bag, put on new shell+insert.)  Awesome for babysitters/caregivers/daycare.

Ah, Laundry.  We do diaper laundry approximately every 3 days.  We use Boulder Wash additive free detergent (it's cheap at Costco) and we occasionally use Rockin' Green in Rage Against the Raspberry scent, but only when it's on sale.

1. Dump the whole wet/dry bag inside out into the washer.

2. Do a cold rinse, no spin (about 10 min-I usually fold other laundry in the meantime).

3. Run a hot or warm wash with detergent. We found this chart to be helpful when choosing a detergent.

4. Another cold rinse (wash/rinse time about 70 min).

5. Inserts can be dried on gentle dry and shells can be line/hung dry.

Breastfed baby poo is water soluble, so until Nugster started solids we didn't worry about stains.  Even now, with him eating everything under the sun, we rarely get a stain on the insertsIf there is a stain, we line dry that insert.  The sun naturally bleaches out stains.  Even blueberry poo.  Pretty amazing.

Other advantages.
Nugster has never had a problem with diaper rash, except in a disposable diaper.Also, with the exception of once, no leaks. Because of user error (I was chatting with a friend instead of rushing home to do a diaper change) it (poo) actually stayed in the diaper so well that it erupted out of the top back of the shell. The leg gussets on Best Bottoms are fantastic.  Nugster had some pretty chunky thighs from 3-8 months and we just adjusted the diaper accordingly, with no problem with red marks or rash.  My friends who use disposables seem to have more "blowouts" than my friends who use cloth.

Other diapers
Soft Bums Echo - it's a waterproof, fleece-lined shell that has snap-in "pods". You can really only use the shell once before you need to wash it, since the fleece shell absorbs moisture.  It looks and feels great though-very trim and the pods are nice.   I use them in the Best Bottom shells.  This is a more expensive diaper-around $30 for a shell and pods.

For travel we put a g diaper biodegradable insert into the Best Bottom shell. I've heard good things about the cloth g 
diapers too. 

 We acquired a few all-in-ones which took forever to dry, didn't hold up so well in laundry, and were not one size (adjustable).  These are our laundry day/last resort diapers.
With pocket diapers you have to stuff an insert into a little pocket.  Not too bad, but time consuming.  We also noticed that the insert bunched up while Nug was wearing it.  He's a very active little guy. 

We kinda have thing for giraffes.

If you're considering cloth diapers, wondering about Best Bottoms, or just curious as to why some parents choose cloth, I hope you've learned a little something!   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wicked easy recipes using baby oats!

This is the time of year when I find myself missing home (New England) more than usual.
View from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine
To combat this, I do a lot of "Autumnal" cooking/baking.  My homemade iced pumpkin spice latte tastes about the same as what can be had at a certain Seattle coffee shop...and is dynamite with a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

In the realm of baby food, I've made two new foods for the Nugster, who recently turned 8 months old.  I wanted to share a few easy uses for baby oats (oat flour).

(I make a lot of flour, since I follow a gluten-free diet.  Regular wheat flour would work fine in these recipes too, but oats are just so healthy!)

How to make your own oat flour:

I mill rolled oats into a fine powder in the food processor.  This is so easy!  Just scoop the oatmeal in, grind with a few pulses, and you're done!  

What to do with oat flour:
1. Drop small pieces of prepared fruit (I use cubes of frozen mango, and sometimes poached apples or peaches) into a cup of oat flour and shake.  When coated, serve fruit as easy to pick up finger food!      

2. Homemade (ridiculously inexpensive) baby cereal!  Just add milk or water, heat, let cool, serve.

3. Baked oatmeal cup cakes. (vegan, sugar & gluten-free)
Healthy, yummy, and they make the house smell so good!!
Also easy!  
Mix:  Equal parts oatmeal flour and water (or bm, milk, whatever liquid you are comfortable serving your baby).  
Soak overnight, which makes the oats more digestible.  
Next day: If you wish, stir in cinnamon, and "pour" into mini muffin tin. (I lined with silicone baking cups.)  
Top with fruit.  
Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes*.  When cool, cut into small pieces and serve as finger food!  
*Since I'm at high altitude, baking is a trial and error thing.  And if you're not much of a baker, don't worry!  It's not possible to undercook these, since the recipe doesn't use egg, and the oatmeal flour is edible raw. 

I served this as Nugster's 8 month birthday cake.  To his delight, I continued to serve them for weeks after, as part of his breakfast.  Let's be honest, there's nothing better than birthday cake for breakfast!

4. Baby pancakes. (vegan, sugar & gluten-free...but feel free to use the flour of your choice)
The ingredients.  Well, most of them.  I forgot to take a picture of the blueberries.
Mix: 3/4 cup Baby Oatmeal (Oat Flour)
       3/4 cup Rice Flour*
*You can use whole wheat flour in place of the rice flour.
       Optional: dash Sea Salt, dash Cinnamon
Add: 1 1/4 cup Water
        1 T Coconut Oil* (or applesauce or any other oil.  
 *Since coconut oil is a carrier for Nugster's vitamins, we know he is not allergic.  Because coconut oil is so healthy, we prefer it over other oils.  Infact, we use it to treat rashes, dry skin, cuts and scrapes, and even as a hair treatment!) 

Coat skillet in your choice of oil/spray.  Pour batter and add blueberries (or apples, banana, avocado, etc). 

Cook on first side until large bubbles form.
 Since the batter is thick,  when you flip it, let it cook for a minute or so, and then split the pancake with your spatula.  This way you can watch as the center cooks through.

Still wet in the center...but vegan, so no risk of illness from "raw" batter.
Your pancake should be a bit crispy on both sides, and soft in the center.  This recipe made 3 adult-sized pancakes.  Since Nugget is eating this as finger food, I cut each pancake into small pieces and froze half, put half in the fridge for the week, and set aside a few for this morning.  After the pieces cooled, Nugget gobbled them up!

Mmmm! Pancakes!
This recipe, if you add 2 T of sugar, or 1 T of agave, would make a fabulous stack of pancakes for that special vegan in your life.  Of course, sans sweetener would be ok too, but I've learned that most adult palates aren't accustomed to sugarless pancakes.


Mommybliss: Homemade Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

Being a mommy means that a trip to Starbuck$ is both crucial and logistically difficult.  My solution is to make my own.   In large batches. Over ice.

My version is caffeine & gluten-free and uses non-dairy milk.  Substitute your choice of chai and milk to make it your own!

Mix equal parts of this:

 and this:
then stir in 1-2 Tablespoons of this:
and if you want, add this (or similar):
Pour over or blend with:
 Drink and enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just a Little About Us

Nugster, at 7 months 3 weeks old.
He is all things adorable.

He has been read to since he was born. Everyday.

He smiles at his dog brother, Bacala.

He once stole a french fry.

He consumes blueberries, mango, and milk at an amazing rate.  

He enjoys long walks in fresh air, chasing footballs, crawling, and bouncing.

He believes everything can be fixed with a smile and giggle.

He loves his family (including Mommy, Daddy, Bacala, his grandparents, godparents, all honorary "Aunties & Uncles,") and Pink Doggie.

He can't wait to learn baby sign, play sports, and get a passport.

Nugster's Mommy:
Nugster's Mommy, and a smiling Nugster
She is loving her career as Nugster's mommy.

She has been a teacher, ABA therapist, vocational coach, educational travel leader, graduate student, gymnast, dancer, rock climbing instructor, runner (of distances great and small), interventionist and author.
She practices cloth diapering, babyfood making, baby sign, baby carrying, and handstands. (Not at the same time.) 

She prefers her lemonade VERY sour, her produce organic and her chocolate dark.

She knows a lot about children's literature, Gifted/Talented education, autism spectrum disorders, literacy, special needs, gluten-free living, developmental psychology, educational measure, and kinestesiology.
She adores intellectual conversation, an all consuming book, and decent wine.

She spends a lot of time on Amazon, Picasa, and massaging her IT band.

She loves Nugster, Nugster's daddy, and everyone who shares in their joy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11 Years Later...Some thoughts on what 9/11 can teach us and our children.

I was sitting in a writing class as an undergraduate, when a classmate burst in with the announcement that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.  It was so inconceivable that we had a brief discussion and decided it must be a small plane that crash landed at LaGuardia.  As such, class continued and since there were no smartphones to check the news, we were blissfully ignorant of the chaos occurring a mere 200 miles away.  Until class got out at 11.

The student union looked frozen in time.  Everyone was silent as they stared at the televisions.  You know the image.  I looked around for my roommate, one of my best friends (and now Nugster's godmother).  I realized she probably went directly to her next class.  (Again, no smartphone/text messaging.)  I had left my phone at home that day, and so I was unable to contact my roommate, or my parents, who knew that I often took trips to Boston and New York.  Panic.  Our school was located very close to several defense installations. 

What seemed like hours later, I reunited with my roommate and as I recall, neither of us had our phones.  We also didn't have a working television, so we went out to buy "rabbit ears" so we could watch the events unfold.  I'm amazed at the disconnect we had from the world.

Eventually we called our parents.  We called our friends.  We tried to keep the phone lines open.  There was a vigil.

We brought candles and passed them out.  It wasn't much, but it was how we coped.  A beloved professor suffered profound PTSD.  Friends enlisted in the military.  The ROTC kids walked a little taller and no one made fun of them for wearing ACUs to class.  All of us were only a degree or two separated from loss or death or suffering related to the attack on the towers.

A view of Ground Zero taken Thanksgiving 2001.  I made a trip to New York with my parents and brother (who had spent several days in New York immediately following 9/11).

Fast forward 11 years.  For us adults, who lived through it, we are still angry.  We get political.  We get emotional.  Our children can not understand the meaning of the day without our help.  As an educator, I've seen  9/11 observed in many ways.  Not at all seemed to be popular in the years immediately following 2001.  The wounds were still to fresh and even the most professional of us couldn't imagine writing a lesson plan about 9/11.  More recently, September 11th has been proclaimed Patriot Day (not to be confused with Patriot's Day AKA Marathon Monday in Boston), and this verbiage opens many more doors for talking to our children.  As such, these are a few of my thoughts on what 9/11 can teach us and our children.

I used to tell my students that a Patriot is more than a football player. (I'm from New England.)  A patriot is a person who loves, honors and supports their country.  A wise 5th grader once pointed out that being a patriot sounds like being a good parent to America.  I'm inclined to agree.  Show your patriotism in whatever way feels right for you and your family.  It could be as simple as lowering your flag to half-staff.

Our flag symbolizes so much.  Even very young children hold the flag in high regard, and are able, at some level, to communicate what it means to them.  For older children, writing a simple sentence about what the flag means to them, or what they love about our country is an intentional way of acknowledging the day.  

On this day and everyday, our country's military families are sacrificing a great deal to protect and defend our freedoms.  Regardless of your political inclinations, thanking a man or woman in uniform, offering to help (babysit, pick up groceries, mow the lawn, even simply sit and chat with) a family with a deployed family member, or hiring a veteran are all ways to honor their service. 

On the same note, taking time to celebrate your community's first responders sets a great example for your child.  Order a pizza to your local firehouse, thank a police officer (they don't get that nearly enough), buy a cup of coffee for the paramedics/EMTs in line at Dunkin Donuts.  In fact, don't stop there.  Extend your thank you and basic civility to all those folks you encounter in your daily life, particularly those in the business of helping...nurses, social workers, health aides, and yes, teachers.  

If, in fact, you are a teacher, you may be interested in Operation Educate the Educators, which provides training tools and curriculum that is specifically designed to support the success of children with military connections.  There are over 2 million of them.

For those of you looking for a simple answer, I hope I haven't lost you.  My take on 9/11 is that we should hold our children a little tighter, call our mom's more often, exercise patriotism, and demonstrate kindness and understanding towards others.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dirty Dash...(or, Mommy, Don't get Mud on My Mud Shirt!)

Over the weekend, I got dirty.  The Dirty Dash came to Colorado Springs in all it's muddy glory.  The Dirty Dash is a 5K "race that puts all other races to shame.  The Dirty Dash is a mud run obstacle course where a military boot camp meets your inner five-year-old’s fantasy and subsequently converts boy to man and then man to swine.  You’ll need endurance to trudge up mountains of sludge, courage to overcome uncompromising obstacles, a complete lack of shame to wallow in pits of mud and a smile to show through at the end!"

Our team, Deadweight, was comprised of mostly mommies from my neighborhood.
Some of us love running, some despise it.  Some of us gave birth within the last year, some have teens.  Some are more earthy types, others not-so-much.  All of us had a great time!

Prep:  Like all good girl scouts, I wanted to be prepared. (Or maybe the motto was "make new friends"...I've forgotten.)  Happily, I ran across Cassie's Mud Run Tips.  Here's how I adapted them for the Dirty Dash:

1. Hydrate/fuel properly: for me that meant lots of water, bananas, and yes, black bean mac-n-cheese the night before

2. Positive attitude: This meant helping each other out, and having a "no teammate left behind" attitude.  My friend/teammate Bridgett said "We will cross the finishline together, holding hands, even if we are the very last ones."  (This meant a lot to me, because my running confidence has been a bit lacking since I did not to ANY running while I was pregnant with Nugster, and had been having a rough time getting my knees up to the challenge in the past few months.)  Doing this race with friends is essential!

3. Costume: "Deranged Rainbow Brite" included tight-fitting clothing, a lined sports bra, brightly colored bandadna, worn on head (this was the only way we could identify our teammates once we were mud-covered!) swimsuit bottom, and tightly tied shoes that I was excited to donate to Girlsontherun.org 

4. For post-race: We packed a huge beach towel that we had no emotional attachment to, my Dirty Dash t-shirt (which came in our packet) flip flops, and some mesh shorts.  Also, we brought our own adult beverages.

The Good:  The Dirty Dash Colorado benefited many charities, including the American Cancer Society.  While giving feels good, in this case it also was FUN!  Probably the most fun I've had doing a race.  I mean, even those folks who like a good 5K, 10K, half- or full marathon can hardly say they had fun the whole time.  It's more about having accomplished something.  If you look at Dash photos, such as those found on outtherecolorado.com you'll see everyone is smiling.  Also, the race t-shirt, while not dri-fit, is supersoft cotton, and a very flattering cut, and we were allowed to try them on for size at packet pick-up! Perfect for post-race, and wearing around town!  Dirty Dash pint glasses were 2/$5, and kids t-shirts were $6. 

Nugster loved his yellow "I like to eat mud" shirt, which, after a few tumbles in the hot dryer, fit him just fine!

The Bad Could Be Better:  The packets were simple "Thank You for Shopping Here" plastic bags, which contained 2 mini bars, our bib, a car decal, and some running shop propaganda.  I would have been happy to forgo the bag altogether.  Also, a reusable shopping tote would have been fitting, since the Dirty Dash encourages car pooling to save the environment.  Apparently not all race packets were the same. Since I snagged a deal on entry, I really can't complain, although I would have liked one of those pig tattoos that some of my teammates got in their bags.   Along the same lines, at the Dirty Dash, spectators usually can buy water balloons to pummel us Dashers, with proceeds going to charity, but the organizers ran out of water balloons before our heat (10:00AM).  Also, the food/fuel station was distributing beer pre-race (which I guess is also a Good, but I craved a powerade) and the bananas were about 3 weeks from being ripe.  (These are relatively minor points, but I thought they might be helpful to know.)  

The Ugly Muddy: The rest is best told in pictures.

 So in closing, I plan to enter more Dirty Dashes, and similar events.  Being a mommy means less time to train for longer more "serious" races, so I think mud runs may be the perfect fit!


Have you ever participated in a mud run?   

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mommy's Day Off :)

Haha, just kidding.  Maybe in 17 years and 5.5 months.

I decided that at least for the blog, I'd take a day off from writing about baby stuff.  A little something for my friends who are supporting the blog even though they really don't care much about breast feeding or baby poop. (Yes, I'll probably write about Nugster's little  poop nuggets at some point.)

Recently, while out with a friend (and babies in tow) I wondered aloud, "What did we do all day before we were mommies?"  And that got me thinking about the last few indulgences I've allowed myself.  Over the past 18 months, I must have heard 100 times, "Make sure you take care of yourself," or "Do a little something nice for yourself," or "Take some YOU time."  Well, I'm about to share with you two me-focused experiences I've granted myself since becoming a mommy.

  In an effort to save money and time, I've found a "low maintanece" hairstyle that really works for me as a mommy.  I have a low tolerance for blowdryers (I distain loud noises) and a limited amount of time to spend on myself each day.  My current long, layered hairstyle with blended highlights is about as maintenance-free as it can get.  It looks pretty good curled or straightened (insert non-existant photo of hair down and styled), but works just fine in a "mommytail"  (pony with strays pulled out by Nugster).

Sporting the Mommytail while exploring a KC-97 refueling plane-turned-restaurant.

After an expensive, time-consuming experience at Sephora, I've opted for a simple make-up routine.  Minimal, yet still enough to make me look, and more importantly, feel "done up."  This feeling is also more likely to get me out of the house in real clothes (vs workout clothes).  
#55, spritz with a touch of H20

In order of application: Olay Regenerist Serum, eyebrow pencil, Garnier tinted caffeine-infused undereye roller in Deep, a pea-sized amount of Makeup Forever HD foundation #128 applied with Sephora Pro Airbrush, Burts Bees Lip Shimmer in Champagne.

That list seems like a lot of product, but it truly only takes 5 minutes. 

Something to look forward to...besides the next naptime!  
 In my 20's, I was a lot more active.  I was a rock climbing instructor.  I played tennis (badly). I ran (painfully), sometimes long distances.  I did gymnastics. I taught gymnastics. I danced. A lot.  I was a bit of a gym rat.  As I entered my late-20's, I became more of a "jogger" and I tended to fall asleep during yoga.  And then came pregnancy and mommyhood.  Talk about a complete shock to the system.  

Fast-forward to present day.  I was craving some non-baby related fitness, and happened to make a wonderful friend who, like me, spent hours a day pushing a stroller and trying to run with a dog.  She invited me to join her team for the Dirty Dash.  Ah! A 5K with mud and obstacles and beer rootbeer (thanks Celiac disease)!

Mmmm....mud pit!
  I hear there are pigs and it ends with a giant slip and slide, and spectators get to bomb us with water balloons!  Plus, a chance to see attractive guys covered in mud take a therapeutic mud bath?  I'm in!  AND it benefits the American Cancer Society/Climb to Conquer Cancer, which I did last year!  Awesome!

Our team races at 10AM this Saturday at the Pikes Peak International Raceway, so if you're in the area, come on down, buy some water balloons, and aim for the 8 ladies with the day-glo outfits!  Talk about a great Mommies' Day off! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My baby made me a spy :)

We spend many hours spying on the Nugster.  We've watched him roll from one end of his baby jail (PnP) to the other, overheard his conversations with Pink Doggie, and been lulled to sleep by his cooing.  

Once, we had turned off the Nug spycam and checked the handheld reciever, and to our surprise saw another baby taking a nap.  Knowing that I could see that baby meant someone else could see ours. Creepy. Recently I was asked to turn off my baby monitor.  By the Utilities Company.  Because it interferes with their meter reading.  I found this alarming to say the least, and it roused my curiosity.  

They knew the exact type of monitor we had as well as the channel we use to watch the Nug. 

Because Nugster naps 4-5 hours during the course of the day, turning off the monitor is not convenient, nor is it something that I feel the utilities company should request of parents.  Please read on.  Your comments are most welcome.

The info below is entirely from my friend Gabe C, who did some investigating for me on the issue.
Well, it's not great from your perspective.

This apparently has been a known 'problem' for about as long as audio-only monitors have existed. They were set up just to use radio, which is analog and therefore very easy to pick up. I saw a selected list of news reports on the topic from the last 15 years, including several exposes. My professional analysis is that said stories have not achieved sufficient market penetration to cause the market (mothers) to demand secure baby monitoring in great quantity. This happens across a lot of markets - industrial control systems, for example.

Not all is lost - the news outcry and the increasing awareness of radio's weaknesses for something like this has caused the development of digital baby monitors. These are (theoretically) secure from eavesdropping, although the probably have not been tested by anyone good at breaking these things. Further, and even more recently, it appears manufacturers have been taken to task for not advising mothers of this issue. As such, you can find the product page for the 2012 version of your model now lists the issue on its front page.

Here's a 2011 éxpose on the issue:

The downsides are that analog monitors will remain insecure, and that digital monitors are more expensive. Further, as a known issue there is little else to prove - the manufacturer response is 'Yes, that is by design. If you want security, buy a digital version.' Not what one wants to hear.

The upside is that it appears analog monitors are gradually getting rarer. For example, the entire first product page of your manufacturer's baby monitors appears to be exclusively digital. That doesn't help you, however.


Also, scary thing. If your monitor is interfering, that means your power meter is probably using radio. That means people could probably monitor and analyse your power usage patterns, as well.

I never imagined that the world of baby monitoring would ever meet the world of power usage monitoring.  Do you have any experiences with this?  What would your response be?

Making Baby Food...the what and how

Making baby food for the Nugster has been fun and easy.  At almost 8 months old, he has enjoyed rice, apples, oatmeal, avocado, bananas, squash, sweet potato, mango, peaches, carrots, blueberries, cauliflower, egg yolk, and chicken!  Creating "meals" for Silas is easy, since so many of the foods he enjoys blend well together.

There are a ton of websites that have lots of great advice and recipes for families who want to make their own baby food.  I've found Maggie over at Wholesomebabyfood to be most helpful!  She's done or found the research on all matters relating to baby food, and her recipes and allergy sections are very informative.

What: A quick guide based on Nugster's solid food adventures

I refer to the dirty dozen chart when shopping for produce. 

We opted to start Silas on veggies first, then fruit, and lastly grains and protein.  Because babies have such delicate systems, I follow the 4 day wait rule:
     Wait at least 4 days before introducing a new food.  
This way, if Nug has an allergic reaction, we can easily identify the trigger food.  I also keep a 3 day supply of baby food in the fridge and freeze the rest.  When I use up a container, I move another out of the freezer into the fridge. 

Early foods (4-6 months)

Apples: applesauce, organic, bought at Costco for $2.50/47 oz. Nug also enjoys flavored applesauce, such as mango
Avocado: smashed and fed with spoon or feeder (we prefer the silicone feeder vs the mesh-it doubles as a teether-we fill it with crushed ice.)

Also, so easy to clean!

For finger food, at around 6 months, I began slicing fresh avocado and then placing the slices on parchment paper to freeze.  Once frozen, I divided the slices into several plastic containers.  The avocado slices defrost very quickly, so they make a great on-the-go snack!
Banana: organic, mashed, close to brown for easy digestion
Mango: smashed/strained
Rice: cooked on stovetop (steamed or boiled), pureed
Squash: halved, seeded, baked in water flesh side down, pureed with water
Sweet potato: organic, boiled, mashed, pureed with water

6-7 months:

Blueberries: organic, defrosted in water (I buy frozen, only takes a few minutes), smooshed, fingerfood. Nugster has perfected this one, but still ends up pretty purple by the end!
Mmmm...blueberries are the best!
Carrots: (I buy a huge bag of baby carrots) steamed, pureed with water, sometimes applesauce
Mango: defrosted in fridge (I buy frozen organic mango chunks) and diced as finger food.
Cauliflower: steamed, pureed with water 
Rice: shortgrain, cooked on stovetop (steamed or boiled), sometimes pureed (sometimes not, since Nug enjoys eating rice with his hands)
Oatmeal: no need to buy "baby oats"-simply grind regular oatmeal until "powdery" (food processor or baby bullet does this in about 10 seconds) then add to boiling water. You can also make a large batch ahead of time and portion it out for meals.
Peaches: organic, baked (yuuum), skin removed, pureed
Egg yolk: organic, cooked on stovetop 
*Be sure to separate the egg! Egg whites contain proteins that can be highly allergenic! 
Chicken: organic, breast meat, baked with a small amount of oil (coconut oil works for Nugster...stuff is great for everything from diaper rash to cooking, and is the carrier oil for his vitamins), diced, pureed with juices from baking.

What is/was your plan for introducing solids to your little one?  What is their favorite food?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making Baby Food - The Who and Why

Who:  Not just for hippies. We are a fairly food conscious household to begin with-but by no means are we crunchy hippie types.  I say this to point out that making your own baby food is not just for "hippies"!  We eat gluten-free because of my celiac disease, and Steve is a fan of lean protein because of his bodybuilding/wrestling background.  I kept a gluten-free pregnancy, and plan to avoid gluten for the Nug until he is schoolage and even then, we will introduce gluten with great caution.  However, those who know us would say our favorite foods are doritos (me), peanut m&m's (Steve) and red meat (both of us).  
Anyone can make their own food, it takes very little extra effort if you are already comfortable in the kitchen, and saves us a ton of money.

Who else: Why, Nug of course!  While Nugster still thinks that BM is the tastiest thing going, he showed great interest in solid foods around the age of 6 months.  (Around 5 months we fed him a bit of avocado, more for our amusement than his nutritional needs.  Since most of it ended up on his hands and clothes, we can hardly count that.)  I still nurse him before every meal, but he now (at 6.5 months) enjoys solids for breakfast and dinner as well.  

Why: As a proud owner of a Baby Bullet, I was beyond excited to begin making my own baby food

Good for more than just baby food (ahem, margaritas  mango smoothies anyone?)

I've probably lost a few of you with that statement, but let me share a few benefits.

Health: Jarred baby food has a shelf life of 2-3 years.  I actually found one brand that had an expiration date that was a whopping 5 years away.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to eat a banana/carrot/chicken/squash that had been sitting around for 5 years!  Yes there is organic jarred baby food, and yes, it is expensive.  The bottom line is, when I make the food, we know exactly what is in it and can be sure of the freshness.
Cash money:  Babies are expensive.  With the cost of diapers, gear, toys, clothes, etc, even those with disposable income want to save a buck. Jarred baby food is about $1/jar. A jar is about 4 oz.  If Nugster ate jarred food, his food budget would be about $50/month.  While that may not sound like much, let me show you the math for making our own food:

2 sweet potatoes ($1.50) = 60 oz of food ($60+ worth!)
1 bag of organic frozen mango ($2.97) = 15 oz of mango puree ($15 worth)
2 avocados ($1) = 10 oz of food ($10 worth!) 

You get the idea. So, for less than the cost of a grande soy with whip, we feed Nug for over 2 weeks!
Time:  Instead of going to the store, selecting foods that baby may or may not like, hauling it home, and then storing it, we simply pick what foods we want the Nug to try for the week (more like 10+ days) and then blend it to perfection.  It takes less than 5 minutes to puree an avocado or banana.  It takes less than 30 to prepare a months worth of chicken-carrot-spinach dinner for the Nug. 

Fun! It's incredibly rewarding (Mommy Bliss!) to make baby food for the Nugster.  Choosing what new food he will try next, and how to prepare it (bake, chop, puree, blend, steam, boil, peel, mash...)  He looks forward to each meal, and we are more dedicated to sharing mealtime with him because we invested time into making his meals.

Nugster enjoying some pureed squash.
My next post, since Nug is waking from his nap, will be about what makes for yummy homemade baby food!

How do you save money as a mommy (or daddy)?  Have you tried making your own baby food?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mommy Bliss (& Breastmilk)

Mommy Bliss (mom-ee blis): any items, acts, or observations relating to one's child that cause immediate and undeniable joy and warming of the heart.

For me, mommy bliss comes from both small and large things - the arrival of Nug's stroller (and the associated anticipation of the arrival of Nug), breastfeeding, morning smiles, watching Nug learn something new, preparing homemade babyfood...overall, anything that brings a smile to Si's face gives his daddy and me great bliss. (More on Daddy Bliss another time.)

So, that said, where shall I start?  With 9 months of pregnancy and 7 months of mommyhood behind me, I feel like starting with the present, and as time allows, working backwards.

Nugster likes loves to eat.

Feeding:  We decided early in the pregnancy to breastfeed, ideally for at least a year.  While we respect and appreciate the some mothers choose or are not able to breastfeed, this was the right choice for us.  Because I had a job that I enjoyed, and planned to return to work following my maternity leave, I knew a breastpump was our next purchase.  I solicited the opinion of valued friends (Thanks Kris W. and Kate C.!), and decided on the Ameda Purely Yours breastpump for a few reasons.

I spend a lot of time with this thing.

1. It is very reasonably priced. We actually got a large discount by avoiding the "ultra" model (ultra model has large "cones" and is mounted in a backpack-a disadvantage in my opinion, since I currently toss my pump into a purse, diaper bag, or suitcase and take it everywhere) and ordering directly from Babies R Us. I believe we paid less than $140.  It's $127 on Amazon while over at Babies R Us it currently lists for $199-but if you get a great sale, use a coupon, or get a registry completion discount, you can probably score it for less. 

2. It is a closed system, which means that you (tired, busy, pumping new mama) don't have to clean the tubing.  This saves time (if you're pumping at work, your boss will appreciate that) and allows you to resell your pump without the hygiene issues.

3. It has adjustable speed and suction. Comfortable it isn't-no breastpump is, but being able to control the action definitely helped me stick with the pumping.


While I do pump directly into the 4oz Ameda bottles, at the suggestion of a friend (Thanks Jess B.!), I also bought the adapters for the Playtex drop-ins system, as well as 3 nurser bottles.  This allows me to pump and freeze for longterm storage (3 months) without occupying the bottles themselves.  Using 4oz bottles instead of 8oz allows us to avoid wasting milk if Nug doesn't finish a bottle.    

After purusing the Babycenter boards, I found a system that worked for me:

Before pumping, I mark each drop in at the 1oz, 3oz and 4oz mark with a sharpie.  I also write the date.

For each session, I doublepump into 4 oz drop ins, (or one drop in and one Ameda bottle) and refrigerate.  If necessary, I combine the chilled milk to fill one drop in.  If using one Ameda, you can wash, sterilize and then reuse, rather than tossing a drop in. (Never mix warm fresh pumped with chilled or frozen...yucky and bad for the milk!)  Repeat throughout the day.

Once a 4oz drop in is full, place in freezer cap end up.

Our freezer has a compartment on the door that is perfect for freezing drop ins!  (Although for long term storage, we NEVER use the door-too much fluctuation in temp!)

Once frozen, remove the ring and cap, and place drop in inside a freezer safe bag.  Be sure the date is on the drop in and the bag, and store upright.  Wash and sanitize the ring and cap for immediate use!

Soon you'll have amassed a collection of 4oz tubes of liquid gold, and have saved tons of money by not having to purchase extra drop in caps and rings.
Happy little bag o' liquid gold!

Milk is easy to defrost-just leave in the fridge overnight, or if you need it sooner, run cold water over it for about 15 minutes!

Since the Nugster is on solids now, I think we know what the next blog post will be! 

What pump do you use?  Do you have any milk storage tips to share?

Being a mommy

Introducing Nugster.  He's baby Silas, our baby Nugget, born January 14, 2012 at 11:04 A.M. 7 lbs, 1 oz, 19.5 in. PERFECT baby.  

Baby Nugster at 2 days old
Why Nugster?  We established early on that everything Silas does is so ... Nuggety.  He holds quite a few nicknames relating to his Nuggetness.  Milk Nugget, Butt Nug, Baby Nug, Rageful Nug, Sleepy Nugget.  He's an easygoing, sturdy, flirtatious, gleeful, adventurous little Nug, as proven over his first 7 months.

I write this as the Nug is rousing from a nap. There are plenty of things I could be doing, but as I enter my 8th month as a mommy, I've learned to let things be.  Live in the moment.  Grab a few more snuggles from the Nug, and just relax.  Yep, there are piles of dishes in the sink, Thank You notes to write, and tufts of dog fur on the floor.  It's all part of being a mommy.  (Yes Dad, those Thank You notes will get done...I promise.)

It's hard to believe how fast the time has flown by.  Starting a blog has been on my mind for awhile now...with our family and friends spread around the country (and world), and with the Nug growing up so fast, I lit the fire and here we are.  Here's hoping I keep up with this!
Baby Nugster at 7 months+

Please enjoy The Adventures of Nugster!