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!