Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homemade baby food 101

You make your own baby food? Really? Isn't it so much easier to just buy the jars at the store? I don't have that much time.

I got comments like these all the time from friends and/or family members when it was discovered that I make my son's baby food. To be honest, I thought some of the same things: that I didn't have the time and that it would be much too difficult. I had a great homemade baby food mentor who showed me otherwise.

First off, I'll tell you my reasons for wanting to make my child's baby food:

1) Making your own baby food is SO much cheaper. By like 1/2! The first month of making baby food, I did a little price comparison and I would have spent double buying the jars (or plastic tins now). That is reason enough to sign me up!

2) Homemade baby food is healthier. You know exactly what the ingredients are and you never add things that end in "acid" or "concentrate".

Now, here a few things to know about making your own baby food. The 411, if you will.
  • The whole process is cook (steaming or roasting), puree, then freeze. You have to cook most foods to soften them up enough to puree them. I just use my steamer that came with my pan or I roast (mainly vegetables) them in the oven.

  • A food processor is ideal for pureeing, but I use my blender that's attached to my Bosch and it has worked wonderfully. All you have to do is add a little water (or leftover cooking liquid if you've used a steamer) and puree away. Just add liquid until it is a nice yogurt consistency.

  • Once pureed, all you do is pour into your containers and put in the freezer. I found that ice cube trays (I loved the silicone ones!) are the easiest and cheapest. Once frozen, pop into labeled freezer bags and you're done.

Easy enough, right?

Besides the money saving, one of my favorite parts has been being able to be creative and come up with different concoctions. I was lucky enough to have my husband (who happens to be a fabulous cook) right along side me pureeing away. He enjoyed making the baby food just as much as I did, and loved cooking up combinations for our babe. Obviously, easy things to make are bananas, sweet potatoes, or squash. But some of my son's favorites were blueberries & pears, applesauce with cinnamon and raisins, cauliflower gratin (cauliflower, tomato and cheese), and sweet potatoes & broccoli. The possibilities are pretty much endless :)

As far as the time commitment? Honestly, I only spent a couple hours every few weeks. Most of that time was just waiting for food to steam or cool down. And that is making enough food to sustain my eat-as-much-as-a-horse son! Surprising even to me, it does not take much time at all.

To go from the frozen ice cubes of food to the table, I would simply put how ever many cubes I wanted in a small ziploc bag and thaw in hot water for a few minutes. If I was really good and on top of things, I would set out the baggies for the whole day the night before to thaw. But we all know that didn't happen very often. Personally, I didn't like the idea of nuking all of my babe's nutrients out, so I stayed clear of the microwave. However, if you don't have any microwave nuking fears, then it can make it that much easier for you!

Now that my son's almost done with the babyfood days, I will say that I actually enjoyed the whole process and without any question will be making babyfood for the rest of my children!

Any of you make your own babyfood? Any tips that you'd like to share?

I have A TON of babyfood "recipes" that I'd be happy to forward along, so feel free to send us an email ( if you want them!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Who's Your Daddy: Creating a Parenting Partnership that Works

Before I had my baby, I envisioned myself as a capable, independent mom who would do her “job” and let my husband do his jobs. Sort of a separate but equal kind of thing. I looked down a little bit on moms who, when said husband came home from a long day at work, immediately handed him a poopy, crying baby. (If you’ve read my other posts, you may be coming to realize that I was way too judgmental of moms. Good thing I am one now and eat my words—and thoughts—all the time, huh? J )

Anyway, that perspective was a tad unenlightened to say the least (with a few caveats anyway), and I’m grateful my husband didn’t share the same view. He’s been a huge help from day one. It helps me with the work and responsibilities a baby brings, and maybe even more important, it makes me feel like he understands how difficult being a mom is sometimes, since he’s willing to step up to the plate even after he’s had a long day at work or school. So, moving right along, here’s a few things we’ve learned along the way/learned from watching others about making the parenting partnership work:

• One of the things I initially found so frustrating about motherhood was that the job never ends, especially in those first few months when baby is waking up round the clock. During those months I daydreamed about having a job that would let me clock out and go home, to spend my evening in peace, recharge, and prepare for the next day. Sharing responsibilities in the evening keeps you from getting burned out. For the first few months especially, we made it a point of having some out-of-the-house errand I could do—by myself—once my husband got home. I know running an errand seems like a little thing, but it was so nice to have a minute to myself. As Luke got older, and when my husband’s schedule allowed for it, we stepped this up a bit. Now I take a class once a week for about an hour and volunteer once a week for a couple hours, while the boys have some Daddy-son time.

• One of the things I’ve had to keep myself in check with is expecting my husband to take over completely once he gets home for the day. Sharing the load is crucial to a healthy partnership, but sometimes I selfishly decide that I’m the only one who’s had a long day, and now I deserve a break (some guys have this same attitude about coming home from their job).

• Don’t get into “whose job is harder” arguments. Nobody ever wins these, and it just makes both of you feel bad/like your contribution isn’t valued. However, I have found it very helpful to talk to my hubby about why being a mom is hard sometimes/what I feel like I need the most help with. Don’t keep your frustrations and concerns in—but do remember that how you voice them is crucial.

• On the same note, it also helps me to hear about my husband’s day/what he’s working on/what he’s got on his plate and his concerns, etc. Sometimes it feels like he gets to go off and “have fun” while I stay home with Mr. Poopypants (no offense, Luke). It helps to have a reminder that this isn’t the case.

• Take the lead in getting in the habit of thanking one another for help/showing appreciation, even for things that seem routine. Maybe it’s part of your routine that your husband usually gives baby a bath each night. Thank him for doing it anyway.

• Try not to stress about it if Daddy doesn’t do everything exactly “right” when he’s on baby duty. Just be grateful he’s on baby duty J Critiquing him for not strapping the diaper on just right is a surefire way to discourage him from wanting to change it. It’s a given he’s not going to do things the way you do them, but try not to stress out about it. You’ll all be just fine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

preparing for life with two.

when we found out we were pregnant with our second baby,
i was so excited i jumped up and down in the bathroom,

but then moments later i felt overwhelmed and very, very nervous.

how was i going to care for not one, but two little people?

would preslee (my daughter) think i loved her less when the baby came?
how was i going to nurse the new baby and give enough love and attention to preslee at the same time?

what if they both woke up in the night at the same time?

these questions ran through my mind for the full nine months.
the day before i had my sweet jonah boy i cried for preslee.
her world was about to be rocked and i felt so worried.

but then he was born.
and it was so amazing to see her staring at his little face and poking his little nose.
she liked him, well at least she was impartial to him:)

and things fell into place.
not every moment was, nor has been, smooth.
but they are brother and sister and their love runs deep,
even at their young ages.

so what can be done to prepare for two?
i would say:

*talk to your child, at their level, a lot about the baby that will be joining your family.

*buy them a baby doll and teach them how to be soft and gentle.

*plan to involve your child in most everything once the baby comes. if you make them feel important and helpful with the baby they will be more apt to enjoy, rather than resent, the time and attention the baby needs.

*realize that there will be moments where two are crying at the same time, where you just wish you had one more hand, where you will be overwhelmed, where adjusting will take time...
those things are normal and to be expected.

and also, realize that you are giving your oldest child a lifelong friend,
you are teaching them that they aren't the only person on the planet to love,
you are giving them a lifelong gift.

shortly after i had my jonah,
i wrote this post about life with two:)
what has helped you prepare for life with two?
love, tam

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pregnancy Battle Wounds: How to Avoid Them

Stretch Marks: It's true — these nasties are primarily hereditary. But you can decrease your chances of getting them (or at least make you feel like you are) by smothering those stretch-mark-prone areas (thighs, tummy, boobs) with intensely moisturizing lotion throughout your entire pregnancy and beyond. I used Palmer's cocoa butter and it worked for me. Plus, it was on the cheaper end of body butters.

Extra Weight: It's hard to get to the gym — let alone out of the house sometimes. I have always been an excersizer, but after becoming a mom, my motivation tanked big time. I had to give myself something to work towards or else there was no way I was going to run three miles after getting four hours of sleep. So, I signed myself up for a half marathon. It was scary. I have never done one before (it is this Saturday!) But it really made all the differerence in getting me out on a run.

If you are still pregnant, you gotta exercise if your pregnancy permits (most do). That will help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more than anything else.

{Click here for more on excersizing while pregnant}

Tummy Flab: Even with lots of exercise, this can remain a problem area. So, you have to eat well. I know, I know. After nine months of no feta, you want to go crazy. Start with something simple — reduce the amount of processed foods you eat and turn to whole foods instead. Another easy way to eat healthier is to not buy the bad stuff in the first place. If I have a package of oreos in my cupboard or ice cream in the freezer, you better believe I will finish them off in no time — especially when I am home a lot and often too tired to make a real lunch. In addition to diet, core exercises will help a lot. Try Pilates!

{Read Karlee's awesome post here for more on how to lose the baby weight.}

Loss of Libido: This is more common than you may think. While you're pregnant, hormones can take you a number of directions. You may "in the mood" more often than ever, or you may find that your oversized belly makes alone time a little harder to enjoy. If you're become a mom and have been given the green light after your recovery period, you may be lacking libido because of a number of factors: lingering hormones from pregnancy and breastfeeding that can lower libido and lubrication, discomfort with your post-baby body, sleep deprivation and emotional fulfillment from your little one. Whatever the reason — if you're feeling less inclined to hop into bed with your guy, don't stress. It's normal. But do something about it — there are things you can do to get back in the mood. You can talk to your doctor for helpful tips.

{Check out this post for more on post-baby marriage.}


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bringing Baby Home

So you survived labor and delivery and have a tiny new roommate to show for it. Now what? It might sound like a silly question, but I know I’m not alone when I say that my apprehension level rose a few degrees as I prepared to leave the hospital and bring my new bean home. It meant that the “call nurse” button was going away, along with the night nursery, along with the endless supply of whatever it was I needed at the moment to help care for this little person with innumerable needs and only one way to communicate them all (Since I had a C-section I had a little more time in the hospital to get comfortable with this life) I learned a lot over the next few days, such as:

1. The ride home from the hospital was UBER stressful. Partly because I’d never been in the car with a baby this young (let alone MY baby) and partly because my whacked-out hormones kept me convinced that tragedy was going to befall my new baby any second. I was really quite shocked when we pulled up to our house without having been involved in a collision. Know that it gets better, if the ride home stresses you out too.

2. We stocked up on diapers too much. Don’t go out and buy several jumbo packs of the newborn diapers. First of all, your baby (like mine) might be on the verge of outgrowing them the second he’s born. And babies often grow surprisingly quickly in those first few months, so what fits today might not fit very well in a month.

3. Take the baby books you’ve read and the advice you’ve received (and will continue to receive constantly) with a grain of salt. You’re not failing as a parent if your baby isn’t responding to the “proven methods to calm colic,” and you’re not doing something wrong if he or she cries quite a bit that first couple months (2 to 3 hours a day is considered normal, unfortunately, but it does pass). Don’t hyperventilate about it if your baby isn’t on a set schedule by three days old either. Everything takes time, and it’s a whole new world for the both of you.

4. Remember that you don’t need all that much to bring a baby home. Mostly, baby needs you, some diapers (the hospital will give you plenty to get started on), and a safe place to sleep. If you weren’t quite prepared with every little thing, it’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with accumulating supplies as you need them, and it’s nice to have an excuse get out of the house.

5. Go on a date with your husband while someone you trust watches the baby, after you’ve been home a few days. You might not be feeling super hot, but go out anyway, if only for an hour or so. You can get cabin fever without even realizing it that first little while especially.