Baby, freezer cooking

Homemade Baby Food

Raegan LOVES sweet potatoes.

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Love.  She’d eat them for every meal if I let her.

I’m pretty sure the day care staff has caught on, too.  Her daily info sheets say she eats them at least once a day at day care.

It’s so much easier to get a stubborn baby to open her mouth for a gross new food if you alternate bites with a favorite.  Deceptive…? Maybe.  Successful…?  Yes.

My mother-in-law bought us a few cases of baby food (THANK YOU!) and each case only has a few servings of sweet potatoes.  So, we went through them really fast.

Don’t get me wrong — we haven’t found a food that she won’t eat.  But, she doesn’t putz around quite as much when it’s something yummy.  She’s gets right down to business and shovels it in.

Problem:  We need more sweet potatoes.
Solution:  Home-made baby food!!

This was so much easier than I thought it would be!  I just threw the sweet potatoes into the blender with a little water, and viola!!  Mushy food!!

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Bake Potatoes, Remove Skin:  I was blessed enough to waitress on a night that sweet potatoes weren’t terribly popular.  So, I brought home a grocery bag full of sweet potatoes that had been baked so long the skin was falling off.  Step one, easy.

You might not be so lucky, but don’t worry!  Steam-bake your sweet potatoes, and the skin will fall right off!

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Mush:  I broke the sweet potatoes into smaller chunks so they fit better in the blender.  I added less than 1 cup of water for each sweet potato.  Depending on the age of your baby, you will want to adjust the consistency.  You can always add more water and mix again, so start small and add more as you go.

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Freeze:  For easy storage, I froze the sweet potato mush into icecube trays.  I get out one cube at a time and thaw it in the fridge for tomorrow’s meal.  Tip– I flipped the trays over and ran some hot water on them to loosen the cubes.  Then I put the cubes in a gallon freezer bag.

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I made an assembly line, since I only have two icecube trays.  I peeled all of the sweet potatoes at once, had two or three  sweet potatoes in the blender, and two tray-fulls in the freezer.  Then I would rotate — move the frozen cubes to a bag, move the blended mush to the trays, and move some peeled sweet potatoes into the blender.

Honestly, I had so many sweet potatoes that it took me a whole week to get this done.  But, we won’t ever need to buy sweet potatoes.

One day, this guy was in the kitchen waiting to help me.  Let’s here it for seven-year-old boys!

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Baby

Frankenstorm

Since Hurricane Sandy is threatening to knock out electricity for days at a time, and since we have a bunch of disposable size 2 diapers that need used up before our little tank grows any bigger… we’re switching to disposables this week so that we don’t end up with a basket full of dirty diapers and no electricity or hot water to wash them.

I also have no idea what to cook/eat when the power is out.  My only notion is that we will need to use up everything in the freezers when it all starts to thaw.

What do you make when the power is out?

 

 

Baby

Trial and Error Cloth Diapers: Month 3

 

Raegan’s transition to day care was a breeze.  She goes twice a week, and I get to stop by and see her on my lunch break.  I nurse her when I drop her off, during lunch, and when I pick her up.

She doesn’t like the bottle, and she gets enough time nursing during the day, so her teachers use the milk I pump to make cereal for her.  She’s loves the cereal!!

Nursing less and eating more has changed our diapering routine a little.  Raegan can go days without a BM.

Not that dirty diapers were much different from wet diapers (I don’t dunk or spray dirty diapers, just an extra rinse in the washing machine) — but it does mean less stains, now that it’s cold and I’m not using my clothesline as much. 

The way the sun bleaches diapers still amazes me.  And, I need to figure out a way to keep doing it through the cold winter months.

Raegan wears disposables at day care, which usually amounts to about 3 diapers each day.  The day care is very nice about letting her wear a cloth diaper in the morning so I don’t have to keep a pack of disposables at home.

Speaking of disposables… we had to travel, unexpectedly, this week to be with family a few hours away from home.

I thought about taking the cloth diapers with me.  It wouldn’t be difficult.  I had access to a washer and a dryer.  But, I was tired and we didn’t know how long we were going to be staying when we packed.

So, I ran out and bought a pack of disposable diapers to take along.  Raegan had a rash within 24 hours of leaving the house.

The weird part was, the rash wasn’t wear the diaper covered.  It wasn’t a rash from not getting changed or from the chemicals inside the diaper.  The rash was down the inside of her thigh, from where the plastic-ish outer layer of the diaper rubbed her legs.

Some diaper rash cream and snug-fitting leggings cured her quickly.

One night, we were all snuggling before bed, and Landon said, “Raegan needs her diaper changed.  It smells.”  I checked.  She was dry.  Disposable diapers smell.  I notice it when I walk into the nursery at church.  I can’t explain the smell, but it’s there.  It’s something we weren’t used to.

Maybe I should have taken the cloth diapers.  At least it was a learning experience, and it gave me time to think about more important things.  But, it was a good reminder that we use cloth diapers for her benefit, not just for ours.  Yes, it saves us money, but it’s also much more comfortable for her.

Baby, cleaning, time management

Going Back to Work

I start back to my day job in one week.  That’s one week left to hug and snuggle my baby all day long.

It’s actually not that dramatic.  I’m starting out on a two-day schedule and eventually going to a three-day schedule.  I’ll still be home for the majority of the week.  But, going back to work is a big deal to me, because it means major routine changes.

I’m a morning person.  No-doubt-about-it, I get more done in the morning than I do the rest of the day combined.  Morning is when I do dishes and laundry.  If we have time, I even tidy-up and sometimes squeeze in a vacuum run before we leave for the bus stop.  When I’m home, I have all morning to be productive, blog, clean, work on projects, etc.  By lunchtime, I’m tired and it’s Raegan’s naptime, so I nap, too.  Then I’m happy, rested, and prepared for to take care of the rest of the family when they get home.

That’s going to change.

I have a long commute to work, especially when there is traffic– I feel like it eats away my hours.  My work day ends at 5 pm, but that’s just the beginning of my trip home.  I have to pick-up Raegan at daycare — feed her (still breastfeeding) — drive — pick-up Landon at my grandparents — I end up talking to my grandmother while Landon finishes what he’s doing — drive — bring everyone and everything into the house (honestly, stuff gets left in the car every day).  By then, it’s time to put them to bed!  Homework gets pushed aside until morning.  We woof down supper and I’m lucky if I get the dishes washed.  After the rushed bedtime routines, I’m exhausted and usually put on a movie or read a book… then I fall asleep faster than the kids!

So what get’s forgotten when we’re rushing around like maniacs all evening?  It’s the cleaning.  My “productive” morning time is spent making up for the night before.  But, I can’t live in a cluttered house.  It stresses me out and I can’t be a good wife or mother if I’m stressed.  Home is a haven, where we relax.  I can relax in my home right now.  Now — while I’m not working.  That’s why I’m dreading going back to work.

So, this last week before I go back and the week or two after that, I won’t be writing as much.  I’m doing a little “spring cleaning” to get myself a little ahead, because soon I will start to fall behind.  You might say, cleaning doesn’t take all day… and it doesn’t.  But I’m also going to spend extra time rocking my baby, because soon she won’t want to be rocked.

This poem has played over-and-over again in my mind since Raegan was born.  Her tiny fingers and tiny toes just make Landon’s look so much bigger, more grown-up.  The seven years since his birth have gone by so quickly, so I’m holding on a little more tightly to the next seven years.  And while I still can, I’m going to hold them in my rocking chair.

Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Baby, family

Even “Big Kids” Need Mommy

Malachi 4:6a

He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their parents;

“You never spent time with just me anymore.”

He broke my heart.  In my rearview mirror, the look on his innocent toothless-grin face pleaded for my undivided attention.  Then the baby started to cry, and he reached over to soothe her.

He loves his baby sister.  Never once has he been resentful or jealous of her neediness.  He has such a helpful, kind heart for our new family member.  He begged for a sister.  He is a proud big brother.

But, he’s my first baby.  He was my one and only.  For the first five years, it was us against the world.  Us against the expectations.  And, we blew them out of the water.

Then God blessed us with a husband and a daddy.  And, he’s pretty awesome.

Then in June, our family grew by one more.

In my mind, I was still just a mother and a wife.  I spent the last month working on The Husband Project.  I made sure that I didn’t neglect my role as wife.  That’s the role I’ve been told gets neglected.

But, in the midst of being a “new” mom, I forgot to be a mom.  I forgot that seven-year-old boys are stuck in the middle.  Not yet a teenager, but not a baby anymore.  He can feed himself.  He can dress himself.  But, I forgot that this little independent person still needs me.  I forgot that seven-year-old boys need attention, even when they don’t cry and fuss.  I forgot that seven-year-old boys need conversation, even when it is about the design of his next birthday cake.

Tonight, I’m taking my little man out on a date.  Daddy is watching the baby so it will be just him and me.  One-on-one – to talk about spelling tests and Lego sets.. the things that really matter at this age.

Lord, thank you for blessing me with these beautiful kids.  Give me the wisdom and strength to raise them and teach them about your grace. Help me to remember to take time to love on them as individuals.  Amen.

 

Psalm 127:3-5

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.

Baby

Trial and Error Cloth Diapers: Month 2

We have a “full set” of diapers now!  We have a total of 24 pocket diapers, in addition to the prefolds, snappis, and waterproof covers.  It is such a relief to only wash diapers every two or three days.

I actually had to find a way to store the dirty diapers.  I was putting them on top of the washer because every other load was diapers.  Now I keep them in an old pillow case in a small laundry basket.

We started to have trouble with overnight leaks in the eBay diapers that I mentioned in my last post.  I had been double-stuffing the pocket with two inserts.  I started using one insert paired with one prefold, both stuffed inside the pocket.  We only had leaks every once in awhile with that set up.  But again, I was doing diaper laundry everysingleday.

We bought a set of Kawaii diapers (back-to-school sale, oh yea!) to complete our “stash”.  Two diapers were missing from the first shipment, but the customer service at theluvyourbaby.com  was great and they fixed the order right away!

We got 11 “original” and 1 “ultra soft”.  You can almost see a difference in the picture.. the “ultra soft” is the shiny cobalt blue diaper.  It fits a little snugger than the other diapers — I read some reviews that the elastic was actually too tight for some babies.

I really, really, really like the square tabs on the Kawaii diapers.  With the eBay diapers, we have a lot of trouble with “wing droop”, where the part of the tab that she’s too skinny to use actually falls down.  The square tabs have an extra snap, on a second row, that stops this from happening.  A-mazing.

The Kawaii diapers came with two inserts each, for a total of 24.  The new inserts are much more absorbent than the eBay inserts.  So much so, that I only need to use one insert (even overnight!!) in each diaper.  So, I use the new inserts in both the new diapers and the old diapers.

I still get leaks sometimes in the old diapers, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe the elastic is wearing out?  Maybe they don’t fit well?  Maybe something is wrong with the waterproof shell?

Either way, we’re still going strong in the cloth diapers.  The only disposables we’ve used were the leftover size-one diapers she was going to outgrow.  We have a box of size-two disposables that we were given as a gift — she’ll be taking those to day care with her next month.

Can I just say how disappointed I am that the day care will not accept cloth diapers?!  I’ve ask several times and I never really get a good explanation… maybe I can win them over 🙂

Baby

Trial and Error Cloth Diapers: Month 1

For the first month, the baby was in disposable diapers, because we had plenty of them.   We got some from family at baby showers.  We got some from the hospital.  We got some from a friend who had a baby that grew out of the newborn size a little too quickly.  We had plenty of disposable diapers to get us through the first month without making any purchases.  I actually had to give three bags of newborn-sized diapers away because the baby is in size-one now.

For cloth-diapering, I had a stash of prefolds, 3 newborn sized covers and 6 small sized covers from Dappi, and 2 Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners.  I read that these were best for newborns, who go through a ton of diapers and are often too skinny for the “fancier” cloth diapers.  I learned how to fold cloth prefolds (check out Youtube).  I learned how to wash them (1 cold rinse cycle, 1 hot/cold wash cycle with my homemade detergent, 1 extra rinse).  I was ready to do this the cheapest old-fashioned way.

Then, a wonderfully generous friend offered me some of her cloth diaper collection.  Thank you Barb!!  She gave us 10 Baby City pocket diaper and plenty of liners to double stuff the diapers and 1 GroVia shell with two snap-in liners.  We’re really happy with both styles.  The GroVia shell is the fanciest of the collection.  We looked into buying more, but even at the close-out prices, it’s just not in the budget.  And, the inserts don’t seem to hold EBF (exclusively breastfed) BMs very well.  The pocket diapers are from eBay (just search: cloth diapers) and run anywhere from $2-$5 for a diaper and a liner.

Right now, we have 12 diapers (if the GroVia shell stays clean we can use it twice, once with each liner).   It’s tight, but until I win some eBay auctions at rock-bottom prices, we’re going to make it work.  I do the laundry first thing in the morning – or if we’re going to be busy, I start at night – and hang the diapers from yesterday on the line to dry.  Sometimes if I’m behind on laundry we do use the prefolds and covers.  DH won’t use them though – I showed him how to fold them and he was completely intimidated.

One thing I didn’t read about before trying any diapers is overlapping tabs.  I read about adjustable rise on one-size diapers and I knew I wanted to use one-size diapers.  I didn’t know how important overlapping tabs would be!  We overlap the baby’s diapers as much as possible on both the Baby City diapers and the GroVia diapers.  I doubt they would fit her at all if we couldn’t overlap the tabs!  Now, I’m looking for diapers with as many different snaps as possible for the best sizing options.

Next month, I’ll be able to tell you how cloth diapering has affected our water bill.  Hopefully, I’ll also be able to tell you what diapers we used to complete our stash.  Any recommendations?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Baby

Reasons to Breastfeed

The first week after bringing the baby home was tough!  My baby honestly nursed every hour, sometimes more often, for long stretches of time (30-40 minutes at a time).  That means I had a 20 minute break sometimes before her next feeding.  When crying tears of exhaustion and frustration during a 2 am feeding, those formula samples (which seem to arrive from all directions) are pretty tempting.

My plan is to nurse for 6 months with no supplementing until she is showing interest in table food.  I don’t plan to use a lot of “baby food” to introduce solids.  Key words, “plan”.

There are a million arguments “for” breastfeeding.  There are also a million problems that can discourage a mother from breastfeeding.  Two weeks into nursing my second child, I’m remembering all the reasons I chose this in the first place, and all the issues that led me to supplement with formula last time.  Yes, it’s good for your baby.  It’s actually probably the best for your baby (unless there is some health issue).  But, when you’re frustrated and tired, when you feel like nothing but a food-providing slave, it’s nice to remember that you’re also benefiting yourself.

  1. It’s free!!  There are a lot of ways that you can spend money because of breastfeeding:  nursing clothes, nursing covers, nursing pads, breast pumps, creams and ointments… but breastfeeding itself costs nothing.  Women did it long before they had access to any of the luxuries we have today.
  2. It makes you skinny.  I gained 27 pounds during this pregnancy.  After 15 days, I had already lost 26 pounds without even lifting a finger.. imagine what I’d be capable of doing if I tried exercising!!
  3. Again, it makes you skinny.  Breastfeeding makes your uterus contract, which helps your belly go back down to a normal size faster.  Fair warning:  With my first baby, this felt like menstrual cramps.  With my second, this felt like full-blown labor pain.  Apparently, it’s called “after pains” and they tend to get worse with each subsequent pregnancy.
  4. You bleed less.  Because your uterus contracts faster, your bleeding tends to stop sooner than it would without the extra contractions.  Who wouldn’t want that?
  5. Again, you bleed less.  Your period probably won’t come back until after you stop breastfeeding.  Who wouldn’t want THAT?  (Disclaimer:  this does not mean you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding)
  6. Dibs.  You automatically get dibs on holding and cuddling your newborn.  There can be hoards of loving relative and friends lined up outside your hospital room waiting to hold your little one.  And visitors are nice.  But you, Mom, get to hold her and cuddle her every single time she’s hungry, no matter whose turn it is to visit.
  7. It saves water (and time).  You don’t need to wash and sterilize bottles and nipples.  You don’t need to buy a fancy dishwasher basket to hold all your bottle accessories.  Breastmilk doesn’t stain clothing (or sheets, or burp cloths, or bibs) with the yellow staining that results from formula-spit-up.  So, you don’t have to prewash or rewash anything that gets a spill on it.  Breastfed-baby-bowel-movements wash right out of cloth diapers, so they do not need dunked or rinsed before you wash them.
  8. It makes packing a little easier.  You never need to worry about whether or not you brought enough food for your babe.  It gives you more freedom to worry about running out of diapers, or wipes, or clean clothes!

Baby

Blogging with a newborn…

It’s practically impossible in our house….

Things have been more than hectic since we brought home our newest addition.  On some days, I’m not sure which day of the week it is.  On most days, I can’t tell you the date.  But we’re here, we’re healthy, and most of the time we’re happy.

I’ve been trying to write for the last few weeks, but I haven’t been getting very far.  I have a lot of ideas floating around.  When I do get a chance to sit down at the computer, I don’t finish my post before I’m rushing back to the baby.  So here is a quick list of things I’m thankful for, just as a reminder.

Sleeping in:  I can count on one hand the number of times in the last seven years that my oldest has slept past 8:30 am.  But, almost every day since we brought the baby home, we have slept until 9:00, 9:30, or even 10:00!!!  I’m a full-blooded morning person, so this is completely unnatural for me, but I’m enjoying it for now.

My new faucet:  The faucet we picked for the kitchen has a pull-out nozzle that has a spray setting.  The baby absolutely LOVES getting a little shower in the sink.  And it makes it so much easier to get all of the shampoo out of her hair.

Generous People:  We have a surplus of clothes for the baby!  One less thing I need to worry about.  Actually two less things, because I don’t need to worry about clothes or the money we need to buy the clothes.  I am so blessed to have so many generous people in my life.

Restaurants:  I have only made one meal from my freezer stash because on days when we actually remember to eat dinner, we’re at a restaurant.  I don’t have to cook it.  I don’t have to make sure everyone is hungry for the same thing.  I don’t have to clean it up.  And, the place has air-conditioning.  Speaking of those generous people I have in my life… some have been treating us to dinner which makes it even better!  This month we’ve only spent about $150 on groceries (half of what we normally spend).

Air-conditioning:  Temps were in the 90s for the first few weeks after we brought the baby home.  Ugh. We have one window air-conditioner and we put it in our bedroom window every summer.  We have practically lived in front of that window. My Husband:  My husband is absolutely wonderful.  He’s the one keeping me from losing my mind on days when the crying doesn’t seem to stop… the baby’s crying, I mean!    Whether he’s getting me a super-tall-glass of ice water or reminding me not to be so hard on myself, he takes such good care of me!!  I couldn’t do any of this without him!!

What are you thankful for? Covered in GraceThe Alabaster JarPhotobucketGrowing Homea-wise-woman-builds-her-homeamothersheritage.comPhotobucket

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment, make my day!!