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Yummy Yummy in my Tummy

I have always had a love affair with food, and not always the healthy kind. I don’t believe in skipping meals. I always have snacks. I don’t do diets, but I try to do moderation and variety. Having children has made me pay more attention to the food I bring into the house and how I prepare it. I spend one day every other week planning a two week menu, going through sales ads, writing up a grocery list, and finalizing everything before I head off to two grocery stores and the farmer’s market all to ensure that we are enjoying what we are eating, have healthy options on hand, and of course are getting a good deal.

Breakfast is usually cereal, oatmeal, or eggs. On the weekends we do bigger breakfasts when Felix is home, because he’s a big breakfast guy (and it doesn’t hurt that he cooks it haha) typically pancakes, french toast, or waffles. Lunch is PB&J, sandwiches, wraps, quesedillas – something quick, served with a fruit, a veggie, and raisins or graham crackers. Snacks are almost always fruit or veggies. Every now and then they will be a yogurt or some goldfish. Regardless of what’s being served I always try and offer a fruit or a vegetable. One of the proudest Mommy moments was when Dylan was presented with a french fry or a carrot stick at a birthday party and he chose the carrot stick! It even surprised me to be honest. I am a big believer in only making one meal for dinner. Dylan is served exactly what we are served, and now that Tillman is starting proteins he will also be eating what we eat more consistently, in a much smoother form obviously. From the beginning I have made my own baby food. I feel that babies at an early age learn to appreciate the intigirity of the food if they are given the opportunity to enjoy fresh, wholesome ingredients – jarred carrots do not taste as clean, and light as fresh carrots and jarred peas are not as sweet as fresh peas. I also make it a point to mix complementary foods to help open their palatte too. I take one afternoon a week, and I make and freeze Tillman’s food, making meal times as easy as popping the cubes in the microwave – done! I found this site via Styleberry that I love to refer to for questions and ideas with baby food making. Styleberry also has some great tips on baby food making and portions, as well as some yummy quick recipes like her pizza rolls she has shared. Just more Mamas helping Mamas which I love!!

At the same time if there is reason that you can’t make your own food don’t feel guilty about it. Make a few things here and there or do something simple like a mashed up banana and avocado every other day. Every little bit helps, and when choosing baby food do your research look into the organic brands like Earth’s Best. When we travel I will use Plum Organics and mix it in with a fruit that is easily mashable. They even offer these nifty little spoons that make traveling so easy! Only do what you can do, because adding stress only makes everything worse!

I feel the biggest keys are variety, and starting early. If several different foods are introduced in the beginning then they may be more inclined to be open-minded about food choices as they get older. Some other things that I have learned to be true, especially with toddlers and preschoolers, are that texture and size make a big difference and if they don’t like it cooked one way try cooking it another. For example, Dylan prefers his meats (pork chops, steak, chicken, whichever) to be cut up into bite-sized pieces or he won’t eat them. He also isn’t crazy about broccoli raw, but he’ll chow it down if it’s steamed. All I have asked of Dylan is to try everything, if he doesn’t like it it is fine, but he has to try it, and then usually I’ll offer it again a few weeks after maybe he’ll like it then. We also try not to say, “Yuck” or “Eww” when we see or don’t like a food because they learn these reactions from us, and if they just copy us they don’t make up their own mind about that particular food.

It definitely is a little trial and error, but it doesn’t always have to be stressful. Make meal time fun for them, which makes less stress for you. Tillman is a very noisy baby, and is very attached to me so while I am cooking I put him in his high chair with a couple of spoons in the kitchen with me so he can see what I’m doing. Usually their is music playing while I cook, so we’ll sing and dance during dinner preparations, or I’ll talk him through what I am doing and him touch and smell the fruits and vegetables we are cooking with. I will let Dylan help put the toppings on our pizza, or let him help toss the salad. He enjoys helping and is always so eager to eat what he’s helped with! There is also some obsession kids have with dips. Salsas, dressings, ketchup, cream cheese, peanut butter whatever they like give them some fruit and veggies and let them dip away! I don’t mind ranch dressing if he’s eating tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots with it. Dylan is doing his independence thing right now, and I have found that giving him choices helps out too. Make sure both options are healthy choices, “Do you want the grapes or the strawberries?” Bottom line is I will never give the boys something that I wouldn’t eat myself, and I want to make their relationship with food a fun and healthy one so that they can enjoy carrots and cake and not just carrot cake, and certainly there is nothing wrong with the occasional burger and fries.

Below is a little peek into dinner for us. I made a Autumn Chopped Salad (shared by my dear friend, Carolyn)but I added chicken to make it a full meal, and used walnuts instead of pecans. It is amazing! Dylan doesn’t prefer a lot of lettuce, so I modified his a little bit which is what I do if salad is being served as the main course. I’ll leave out the lettuce, and serve the other ingredients separately. If salad is the side I just give him a few pieces of lettuce and lots of the other veggies. Tillman’s is the same as Dylan’s, chicken, pears, and peaches (no ketchup and cheese) pureed. I even had some leftover for Felix’s lunch the next day! Enjoy 🙂

Macgyver Mom

We’ll it happened again – motherhood has allowed for very little time, and I have been unable to post in such a long time!  We went home to Colorado in early July to visit and it has taken every bit of the last month to get things back in order and get out of the “vacation” mindset. The boys handled the 40 hour round trip drive as good as can be expected, and we only added an hour extra each travel day for diaper changes, and dog walking (yes we also took our dog). We had an amazing time, but as always with kids there was a funny story to share.

First I wanted to let everyone know that we successfully cloth diapered throughout the whole vacation! Four days of traveling by car, two nights in a hotel, and seven days split between three locations.  It took some planning but wasn’t a big deal. We used the Grovia system while on the road, and went back to our Fuzzibunz once we were in Colorado.  No messes in the car, no diaper rash, no packing cases of diapers, no problems at all.

This story of mine consists of baby wipes, Fabreeze, a breast pad and a comb – Macgyver Mom to the rescue.

One of the reason we had went home was so my husband could re-enlist his mom. She is also in the Air Force. It was a very special occasion, and a very rare one at that. The photographer on base has been taking pictures of re-enlistment ceremonies for 15 years and had never seen a mother/son one, so it was very cool. Julie, my mother-in-law had invited her close friends and co-workers, including a three star general she worked for and his wife. Bottom line there were several people we hadn’t seen in awhile and several important people to meet.  Side note – this was also the first time I was officially an “Air Force wife” as opposed to a girlfriend (there’s a huge difference as you know if you have an experience with the military, regardless of how much time you have been a girlfriend).

We shuttle through the building to the room where the ceremony takes place all seven of us along with a hyper three year old and a stroller. Imagine a maze with narrow hallways, no idea where you’re going and everything looking the same. In addition to all this maneuvering Julie, bless her heart, wants to introduce us to everyone along the way as well – more small offices and more stop and go.

We make it to the room. Felix and Julie are making their rounds talking with the guests. I get Dylan situated with snacks and toys, and Tillman has decided to wake up. Now I will tell you I had help. Aaron and Noel, my brother and sister-in-law are always more than willing to help, but as the moms will understand, when they’re your kids you’re always worried. I also gotten used to Felix and I doing things on our own, so sometimes I even forget to ask for help.

Tillman begins getting fussy, and whining. Dylan’s with Aaron and Noel. Felix comes over to make sure everything is okay. I was hoping Tillman would sleep through most of it, but no luck so I pick him up out of his car seat.

Imagine in slow motion: Mom reaches out to pick up baby. She pulls baby up to her. Baby reaches a vertical position and when inches away from Mom PROJECTILE VOMITS! Three separate times.

The ceremony hasn’t started. I just parked the stroller, we are settled in the front of the room, and I haven’t even met or said hi to anyone yet.

Felix stares in awe, and reaches to grab him to which I say, “Don’t touch him! I don’t need you getting dirty too!” Okay let’s be honest I probably snapped at him both of those comments. Once Tillman is done I set him down and clean his face. Lucky for him there was nothing on his clothes. Of course! I on the other hand am covered from my neck down. The only positive was that the dress I was wear was in a pattern that camouflaged the mess. I tried to be as discreet as possible while I handled it, and cleaned up with the above items. Baby wipes to clean the mess itself, although there wasn’t much hope for my dress, which had a silk liner on the inside that was now sticking to me. A breast pad was used to dry the mess that the wipes left. A comb was to brush out my hair that was also caught in the line of fire, and Fabreeze was to cover the spoiled milk smell that now was making me sick.

I had to sit through the whole ceremony, and lunch after in my “throw up” dress, wondering if the chemicals in Fabreeze would bother my skin or my brain more. I also made it a point to not get to close to any of the guest, so they wouldn’t recognize the smell that they use to freshen up their living room with. Thankfully, I didn’t have to say “Oh that no it’s not Chanel No. 5 that’s clean laundry scent.”

Just another eventful day in the life of a Mom. Moral of the story: Always have an emergency kit fully of seemingly ridiculous items on hand, in the diaper bag, purse, or car. Do not waste your time buying dry clean only pieces of clothing because the one time you decide it’s okay to wear them they will be put to the test and NEVER let your guard down because the minute you let your guard down…

Looks like Tillman’s saying, “Mom, I can smell you over here.”

Tickets for Two

We found out via our mom’s group that our local theatre was showing children’s movies at 10am, two days a week for $1 throughout the summer, which I find to be great! Gives the kids something to do and offers the parents with more options as well. Not only was I excited about Dylan being able to see some of his favorite movies on a big screen, but I was also stoked because I didn’t have to stress over Dylan maybe talking too loud or Tillman maybe being a little fussy every now and then. After all it was an early show and it was specific to kids. I was excited and fully prepared for there to be talking, crunching, running, and some occasional crying.

Dylan loves movies, and used to go all the time with Felix and I when he was a baby. He slept through Sex and the City, Tropic Thunder and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Once he got older though and became a little more antsy we became movie renters instead of goers. Our new favorite thing that works for us with both boys is the drive in. We get to watch two movies for the price of one, bring our own snacks, and the boys can fall asleep at will. I decided the kids showings were the perfect opportunity to try a trip to the theatre.

We arrived a little late since the boys decided to sleep in, but were able to wiggle our way into some seats. Dylan sat high on his booster seat, crunching on his popcorn, and laughing away at Marmaduke. He did amazing, but it was a little sad to see him act so grown up. He even told the little boy in front of him who kept standing on his seat, “Excuse me please.” I was a very proud Mama. Tillman was a little rough to start with. He didn’t like that it was a little dark and he couldn’t see everyone. He’s nosey like that I suppose. I walked him around a little near our seats to put him to sleep and once I returned to my seat Dylan whispered, “Mom how are you doing?” He was very sweet, and patient. He also would periodically feed me popcorn (just one) ever so often, since I was holding Tillman and “didn’t have arms.”

All went well, and it was a success! As I’m packing our stuff up to head out I overheard two older woman sans kids complaining about the kid next to one of them kicking the seat, and how the didn’t understand why moms would bring babies yada, yada. Umm…hello are we supposed to leave the babies at home or stay locked in our houses until our children can walk, talk, and stay out of the way? Sure there was a little girl, maybe about one, who was fussy through most of it, but so what! Her mom was handling it and it was a movie specifically shown for the kids. I chose to take the “if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all” approach and walked away, but man I wanted to scream, “Stop being cheap and go see a movie that’s not entirely shown to small children.” Nonetheless, I didn’t let it ruin our day and both boys had a great time. We’re definitely going the rest of the summer!

Never Grow Up

I believe that having children magnifies every emotion you feel from the very moment you hold that new little baby. The love felt truly is watching your heart walk outside of your chest. The overwhelming emotions literally take my breath away. I cry because I’m happy, excited, sad, worried, scared – Let’s face it I’m a mess, and I never used to be a crier. While this was a surprise to me, even more of a surprise it how my husband has been affected. I agree with the statement, “A woman becomes a mother from the day she finds out she’s pregnant, a man becomes a father when he holds his child.” There’s nothing wrong with it, and it makes sense. Felix thought it was cool when he felt the boys move in my belly, but was awestruck, teary-eyed and speechless (which doesn’t happen very often) when he held them.

Felix is a special man, and an amazing father – mindful, patient, playful, and loving just perfect. When we had out first son he was so excited, but anxious to get to those “sidekick” days, when Dylan would be following him around, playing outside, fish, hunting, camping, watching the game, if nothing else at least talking. Now that school is over and he’s home every night he hasn’t missed one beat or one opportunity to do every one of those things with him. He doesn’t have it in him to tell his boys no, because he’s afraid of the days when they may not want to hang out with him. Although he does believe that they are going to WANT to come home during their summers from college and help him build a cabin.

Our second go ‘round with Tillman. I find my husband becoming a much more emotional version of himself. I think now that he has an infant again, and he sees just how much Dylan has grown up and changed in so little time he is being affected more. I’m not quite sure why he tears up during girlie movies now. I watched them play at the park the other day, and even though everything was Dylan’s size and very safe he couldn’t bring himself to let Dylan play by himself. It probably didn’t help that I told him Dylan fell off one of the higher platforms a few days before, but he didn’t get hurt or cry he just kept playing lol! Dylan is at a place right not where he’s testing out his boundaries (with or without our permission), and he wants to do things himself, and I know Felix is having a hard time giving him that space. I am as well, but at times now that we have Tillman I need him to be a little more self-sufficient. It’s a double-edge sword I suppose. Dylan still thinks he’s Daddy hung the moon and does everything in his power to be just like him (right down to his matching FSU hat), and Felix loves every minute, although I think he’s wanting Tillman’s baby days to last as long as possible. Changing diapers doesn’t seem too bad all of sudden.

Writing all of this remind me of this song. *SIGH*

An [un]Healthy Obsession with Cloth Diapers

I can’t say exactly what drew my interest to cloth diapers to begin with, but when I was around seven months pregnant I began looking into it. I can honestly say this was the most overwhelmed I have ever been with information. There is SO much information on different types and different brands. I had no idea what did what and what pieces were needed for which ones. Then I got into how to prewash and day to day wash and then how to strip them. There were special detergents and bags, but was all of it necessary? I took a break and decided to think about it some more. I figured I had time and even if I did decide to do it I wouldn’t start until Tillman was a couple months old so diaper changes and amounts would be a little more consistent.

About a month after I had Tillman there was no talk of cloth diapers at all. I had already doubled my laundry load by taking on potty training Dylan. Turns out it was one of my random ideas that fizzled out just as quickly as it had come up. Enter styleBerry. Carolyn, my best friend, introduced me to a blog called styleBerry where a woman, Shawna talked about and EXPLAINED her cloth diapering process. It’s exactly what I needed. I needed to be walked through the actual process of it all with instructions and examples. With her experiences, insight, information, and videos it took me about 20 minutes and two blogs to come to the conclusion that I was indeed going to cloth diaper my child. All the questions and concerns – How do these work? How do you size them? How do you wash them? How do they compare to others? What about night time diapering? What about traveling? Completely answered. I’m so glad I found this information, and I will never go back to disposables. I feel that if people have the information simplified and give it a trial run they will not be disappointed.

When I had first mentioned that I was thinking about cloth diapering most everyone said, “Don’t do it,” or “Eww, I don’t want to touch poop.” It really is a lot easier than I think anyone knows. Do not let the buy in price or the washing intimidate you! I’ve had more blowouts with disposables, not to mention that potty training is WAY worse than cloth diapering.

The only thing that I didn’t really expect was that they would make Tillman’s butt bigger, so some of his clothes are a little tighter, and the 0-3 month clothes I was able to still squeeze him into will not fit anymore. Also don’t try and cut corners! Buy whatever brand makes you feel comfortable, but make sure to buy the wet bags(one for the diaper bag and large for the laundry room), the special detergent, and enough diapers/inserts. If you skimp it will make the process so much harder. I’ve placed three separate orders because I thought, “That’s probably not entirely necessary.” It is all necessary and makes for smooth sailing. When looking at prices remember it’s an investment that lasts the entire time your child is in diapers.

My husband, bless his heart, was a great sport about the switch. He knows that I throughly research my purchases, but the only real explanation he needed was, “We’ve spent close to $200 in diapers in the last 2 months. That’s $1200 a year in the garbage – literally.” He was hooked. He has even said how surprised he was with how easy they are. Although he has suggested that I have an unhealthy obsession with them at this point. It’s hard not to!

I love having a clean set of diapers every morning with no worries about running out, spending the money to buy new ones, finding random (clean) diapers randomly spewed throughout our house, storing the cases of diapers, the lingering smell of a dirty diaper in the trash, and lugging the dirties out to the garbage. Now that I think about it there was so much unnecessary work! Once I saw them in person it was all I needed such cute colors, and soft material. I’ve went from never even seeing a cloth diaper in person last Tuesday to being the proud owner of 18 as of today, and Tillman will have them the entire time he’s in diapers! Dylan fits in them perfectly, and once they all get here I plan on using one on him at night when he sleeps.

It is a lifestyle choice, but armed with through information and all the right tools it may surprise some people. It opened my eyes. If you have ever even considered using cloth I urge you to try it! Borrow a few diapers from a friend or buy a few to try out there are even stores who will allow you to do a trail run. For more information please visit Go, Baby Go (another styleBerry suggestion). They are so helpful in helping to answer all your questions. You’ll be hooked in no time. Fuzzibunz even offers a layaway plan! So there really are NO EXCUSES not to switch When it comes down to it what’s a couple more loads of laundry anyway.

**Update: I found a link to a wonderful site where you can search for the criteria that you want in a cloth diaper and find all the brands and their information that meets that criteria!

Poop Factory

To say that my days are “full of sh…poop” would be an understatement. I feel that between a potty training three year old, a two month old pooping machine, and a dog who apparently poops for attention I am always cleaning one mess or another throughout the day. I look forward to spit up or throw up just so there’s something new in the mix that is the “poop factory.” To better get my point across allow me to share a 30 minute glimpse into my life.

4:00pm is a busy time in our house – Felix is about to be getting home from work, Dylan is getting antsy and running around in anticipation, Tillman is beginning his “Mom’s making dinner I want my dinner NOW” fit, and I’m in the kitchen trying to not burn myself while barking out orders “Dylan don’t play by the stove,” “Dylan don’t run my feet over with your cars,” or my favorite “Dylan don’t climb on the island and put your feet all over our food.” Every five minutes or so I’ll try to move Tillman into a swing or a bouncer or something to try and stop the crying, but usually it’s pretty chaotic.

On this particular day everything was moving right along rather mellow (which is why I should’ve known something was going to happen). Dylan had woke up a little later than normal from his afternoon nap maybe around 3:30pm, Tillman was lying peacefully on his playmat, and I was making dinner. I was toasting baguettes to accompany some cheese for appetizers, and was going to make lasagna. Dylan came upstairs and began playing with Tillman on the floor while I cut the baguettes. Felix came in around 3:45pm grabbed keys and went out to move cars. He was gone for maybe ten minutes:

Me: “Dylan let’s change you out of that diaper now that you are awake, and put your underwear on. Hurry! Hurry before Daddy comes!” 

Dylan: “Okay! Okay!”

I lay him down and take off his shorts. BLOWOUT!! The worst I’ve EVER seen! Up the back all over the shirt and shorts and now my carpet!

Me: “Dylan why didn’t you tell me you pooped? Is it in your bed?” 

Dylan: “No I pooped when I was playing, and I didn’t tell you cuz I was busy playing.”

I glance over and see Eddie frantically licking Tillman (Gag!). Yep – poop all over Tillman too, and my dog was eating it! In some magnificently magical way Dylan was not only able to produce enough poop to get it all over himself, his clothes, the carpet, Tillman’s playmat, Tillman, and now Eddie. I went over to survey the damage, and Tillman had Dylan’s poop on his leg, on his onsie, and in his hair. The playmat was equally covered, and Eddie (he’s a yorkie) had it in his beard.

Felix walks back into the house and just stares at the chaos that is happening. To which I respond with, “Don’t just stand there grab one!” I stripped Dylan and Felix put him in the shower. I stripped Tillman and Felix got his baby tub ready in the kitchen. I threw all the clothes, toys, and rags into the wash, and what happened while I was doing all of this? I burned the baguettes. Time check 4:00pm. My house had literally fallen apart in 15 minutes! I had myself a little cry mostly over my baguettes, a hug from my husband, and we both looked at each other and laughed. There’s not really anything else you can do at that point. What in the world just happened!? It was like a movie where you’re watching and you’re thinking, “This is so exaggerated it’s dumb.” Nope it happened in my house when I was literally 10 feet away.

I put in the lasagna, and finished washing Tillman and got him dressed, and wiped down Eddie. Felix took care of Dylan, and we were all eating dinner at 4:15pm. I looked over at Felix and said, “You would never have guessed we were going down in flames a half hour ago.” I feel that this is exactly what a life with children is about – organized, funny, out-of-our-mind chaos. Even if it’s not funny at the moment it will be. Just remember to laugh…eventually. I’m lucky to have a tag team partner in this craziness to not only help me, but to remind me to laugh. It eases the pressure and the stress and creates those amazing memories that we will recall when we get older and it’s just us two looking back on all the diaper changes, and baths, and dinners together or that one time when we made dinner while giving baths and changing diapers.