Friday, January 31, 2014

Selfies + Staying Home With Your Kids

I love the internet, I really do.  You can call me crazy but it's so much of our lives now and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Ya, it can be really negative, but sometimes I find the best most uplifting things on the internet and it just makes you feel a part of something, and mushy and soft.  Some things make you think about the way you live your life and ways to do it better.  And you really have to sort through blogs and posts and e-mails, but once in a while something will pop up that will just make you think.  And so, here are a couple of fun things I've found over the last weeks I wanted to share.

With the new year almost a month done, and people going crazy at the gym trying to look good, I thought this next video was appropriate to remind us not to focus on the little things and not to be so nitpicky. It  shows why we judge other people the way we do and where we tend to get our insecurities and why we shouldn't be so down on ourselves all the time.  What we see is not what a lot of people see.  It's good to get healthy, and a new year is a good motivation, but sometimes I think we need a reminder that we're fine the way we are.

On a totally separate topic, this next article made me think about the way Jeff and I talk to one another.  I know a lot of this article is about the mom who stays home, but Jeff and I don't have daycare for Noah, we both stay home.  We rotate shifts so I suppose we're both stay at home parents.  And I get where is mom is coming from when she wants to say this after her husband asks her how her day went:

"How was my day? Today has been a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I'd explode. I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone. I was saturated -- just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do. Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst. At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption. Husband -- when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period. But I'm not complaining. This is not a complaint, so don't try to FIX IT. I wouldn't have my day Any.Other.Way. I'm just saying -- it's a hell of a hard thing to explain -- an entire day with lots of babies."
It's so true though, everything she said about staying at home with your children.  It's such a tough job.  And "how was your day?" is the hardest question on answer.  There are just so many better questions to ask the parent who's staying home.  So after reading this, I'd like to make a conscious effort to ask better questions and to appreciate my husband who takes such good care of our child. Because it's a hard job. But we signed up for it and we have to take good care of each other too.  Not just our children.

And finally, this last blog post came from A Beautiful Exchange. This one is for the moms (or dads) who just need a little push today.  It's been a tough day or week or month and you need a little pick-me-up.  There is always someone watching who thinks you're a good mom or dad. =)  I loved reading this story.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 34

The snow here in Michigan is getting out of control. It's way past my head and reaching up to the bottom of the tree branches.  It's pretty crazy out there.  We've had so many snow days and cabin fever is setting in for sure.  I was excited when we didn't have a snow day today so I could get out of the house and enjoy being at work for a while. It sure would be nice if random snow days happened in the summer. At least we could get out and have some fun.  I guess I can't complain to be home though.  I'm getting paid and I still have a job.

While at home though, Noah and I have had lots of time to play around and try new things.  First of.  The kid can stand up now.  Like big time.  He holds on to things still but I really don't have to worry about him falling too much.  That, and apparently he's learned to also pull himself up to standing which is pretty major for us now.

  • How old is Noah?:  34 Weeks & Almost 8 months!
  • Noah is how big?: 23ish lbs
  • Stats: Size 3-4 diapers |  9 or 12mo clothing | Bald spot is finally disappearing after some tummy sleeping | Abs of steel | Stands holding on to objects | Sit to stand! |
  • Sleep: Sleeping consistently from 7:30pm to 7:30am. Naps four times during the day. The first one being the long one around 1:20, the next two about 50mins and the final nap around 30-40mins.  Starting to faze out the last nap here and is staying up most days without the last nap from 4:30ish till bed time.  Started rolling to his tummy last week and will now only sleep on his tummy.
  • Milestones: Obviously as seen above I'm a super proud momma of a standing child. =)  Has started eating finger food and it actually makes it into his mouth.
  • Mom Check-in: Really over this winter already. Only because it would be really nice to get out of the house and do something other than shopping at the mall or target on my off days.  Got to the gym a couple of times last week and it felt great!  So much more motivation when you see other people work out with you.
  • Best Moment of the Week: So many snow days which was nice at first... then I was ready to get back to work. =)  Did a lot of cleaning which was much needed and got some good workouts in.  Also got some major cuddles in too.  Granted, it lasted for a whole five minutes, but sooo good.

  • What I’m excited about/looking forward to: Is it summer yet?  I need a drink.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Introducing Solids: Making Your Own Baby Food

So here it is, part three of Introducing Solids, the Basics of Making Baby Food. You've decided to forgo the store baby food and you want to make your own.  Great!  But, how do you start? What do you do?  I promise, it's not as hard as it may seem.  It's pretty easy actually, and once you get in a groove it'll be as easy as store bought. 

First, a couple of things you'll need:

Blender: I use the baby bullet but after using it for a couple of months now I would say a regular food processor, food chopper or blender would be fine.  There's no need for anything super fancy.

Spatula - To get every bit of baby food out of the blender. If you buy the baby bullet you'll get a spatula and some storage containers to get you started.  Otherwise, any spatula is good.

Storage Containers - You know, to store your food. We like the Rubbermaid 1/2 cup size the best.  They are the perfect portion for Noah who eats two containers of food for all three meals.  They also store and stack really easy without taking a lot of room.

Pot or pan - To cook your food.

Once you have what you need to make the food, the rest is easy.  I like to cook fresh or frozen food mostly.  I haven't tried canned although I suppose you could.  I try to buy the freshest ingredients so I can make the best food.  

I begin with a pan with about an inch of water at the bottom and then add the food.  You can put spices into your food.  I like cinnamon for a lot of the fruits but make sure you stay away from salt as babies don't need as much as adults.  They also don't know how much better food tastes with salt since they've never had it, so they wont miss it.

Boil it until tender and fully cooked.  Finally, blend it and store it!  That's all there's to it. 

When cooking foods you can cook different foods at the same time or make them separate and mix them after they're cooked.  A couple of our favorites are:

sweet potatoes and chicken
pears and cinnamon
apples and cinnamon
coliflour, pat of butter and parmesan cheese
potato, corn and peas
broccoli and carrots
carrots and squash

The possibilities are endless, and until Noah gets some teeth, this is how we'll be introducing most of our foods. 

We have started giving Noah pieces of food that are in a stick shape so he'll be able to hold and learn to gum food.  So far we've tries, sweet potato and regular potato fries, cooked carrot sticks, cooked long noodles like rotini, and sticks of pears and apples. He loves the pureed food much more as it's easier to eat for him but he's definitely learning how to feel himself.  It's so much fun to watch him learn. 

Finally, you can get the links to part one and two below.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zucchini Pizza Boats

My youngest sister, who I never see because she left me for the warm weather of Arizona, (smart girl) is a huge runner and super into fitness.  She's constantly finding new fitness activities and she's always great at them.  Yes, she's that girl. Currently she's gotten big into lifting but will soon start training for her full Ironman later this year. I know, she's crazy just like my husband.  

I will say though, even though she works out all the time she never really focused on her nutrition that much, and my husband always says something along the line of, "...if you want to get the best out of your workouts you also need to eat properly..." Yaddy yadda... I eat what I want, but of course I'm not training for an Ironman either.  But she is! So here is a recipe for all of you, that my sister tried out and loved, and bonus because it's nice and healthy for all you people trying to get fit for the new year!

Here is what Laura has to say:

I decided to start eating healthy because last year I was going to the gym at least six times a week, but only eating healthy half of the time. I decided, "...if I am going to use so much energy and time at the gym, I need to go 100% and not only work hard in the gym but also eat healthy!" In my opinion, your diet is 85% of what you need to transform your body to what you want. 

In addition to eating healthy I'm also focusing more on lifting.  I am hoping to keep this up for about six months and then I will slowly transition into my Ironman training. This way, I can have established more muscle mass, be a healthy weight, and rock out a good body. By doing this, I am hoping to be able to utilize all my strength and mass into the Ironman training and be that much stronger going into my race. 

I know it is so much easier to grab a handful of chocolates or a coke as you are leaving your house, but trust me, stay with your goal, keep discipline, and the results will start coming. HAPPY TRAINING!!!

I like this recipe because it is a paleo item, it is very healthy, and I LOVE pizza! I'm mostly eating seeds, nuts, veggies, fruits,and meats so I am limited to what I can take in. Sometimes you have to modify recipes in order to enjoy food and stay healthy. Here is my version of the original Zucchini Pizza Boats.

4 Med Zucchini
1/2 C Marinara or Pizza Sauce
1/4 C Nutritional Yeast (optional)
1/4 Red Onion/Sliced
1/2 C Cherry Tomatoes/Sliced
2 T Fresh Basil

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside seeds. 
3. To help them lay flat on the pan, you can also cut a piece off the bottom of the "boat" to create a flat surface. 
4. Mix tomato sauce and nutritional yeast (if using). 
5. Spread a light layer of sauce (about 1 tablespoon) inside each zucchini. 
6. Top with onions, olives, and tomatoes. 
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until zucchini is tender but not mushy. 
8. Top with basil and serve. 

To modify the toppings and still keep it Paleo and healthy, you can add avocado, mushrooms, bacon, or sausage.  I added some avocado to mine and I loved it!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Introducing Solids: What Feeding Supplies do I Need?

Alright, so here we are with part two of Introducing Solids. You can check out part one here --> What foods do I choose?  So you've chosen what you want to feed your baby, but that's not all, you still have to make it.  And do you need anything else? Of course you do! Unless you want them to use their hands, which, good luck with that mess.  Especially day one of solids. =)

All kidding aside, there are a couple things you'll need to feed your baby.

 1. Boon Flair High Chair - You'll need somewhere for your baby to sit. It doesn't have to be this one specifically, although we own this chair and it's amazing.  We have a bar size table and this will increase it's size to fit perfectly.  It's also made of one piece other than the blue seat cover which you can take out and rinse in case of a giant mess.  The trays have clear covers that can be put in the dishwasher.  Overall it's so worth the money because it's so convenient and easy to clean. Plus it looks super cute.  If you're starting out feeding and haven't decided yet which chair you want to buy, you can always start with the bumbo which is much cheaper and you might already have it sitting around.

2. Food - Like we talked about in the earlier post, you'll need to consult with your doctor before you introduce solids but you'll need some kinds of food.  Pre-made or you can even make it yourself, which will be our third and last post!

3. Munchkin Bowls - If your feeding your child pre-made food, for the most part, you should be able to feed them out of the containers you buy. However, if you start making food and would like to mix combinations you didn't cook together, you'll need something to put the food in.  We love these because they are super cheap and a perfect size to hold.

4. Bibs - Feeding is messy, enough said.  We like these Carters ones because they snap on the side.  I hate velcro, it's a pain to wash since they stick to everything. And you'll want a side closure since it'll be easier to reach.

5. Spoons - And finally, you'll need something to get that food in that mouth! Doesn't need to be anything fancy or expensive.  Even now, if I'm eating something Noah can eat I'll feed him with my own utensil.  These are nice because again, they are cheap, soft and come in bright fun colors to match the bowls. 

And that's it! You really don't need that many things.  You're almost there.  Now you'll need to decide; will you be making the food, or buying it?  If you're gonna buy it that's pretty easy but if you're gonna make it check back for part three of Introducing Solids!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Introducing Solids: What Foods do I Choose?

Starting solids is tough for first time moms. We have so many questions on how to begin.  What do I start with, what do I give him, how much, premade or home made, what do I need?  It's pretty daunting. I thought I would write a couple of posts on  Introducing Solids.  What I have learned so far, what works for us and how we made our food. 

Let me just start out by saying, that I'm by no means an expert.  Take what you want, and leave the rest here.  I've done my fair share of internet research, (I know, very informative) but I've also talked with our pediatrician a couple of times to make sure we were doing the "right" thing.  Which let me tell you, it's pretty hard to mess up.  After talking to my pediatrician (who is super laid back) I pretty much felt like I could do whatever I wanted.  That's when I started to look online for a little bit more guidance.  But like I said, there are so many ways to start solids, you just have to decide what works well for you. 

We started Noah on solids pretty early, around four months.  At that point we had switched him to formula for a while and he just wasn't ever satisfied.  He always wanted more and more.  It was then that we decided he needed a little bit more substance. Here is a list of what we've given him so far and in what semi-order:

Rice Cereal                                                 
Sweet Potatoes                                         
Oatmeal Cereal                                         
Green Beans
Egg Yolk

So what do I start with?
Common First Foods 
Rice and Oatmeal Cereal
Sweet Potatoes

We picked our first foods a little on research but a lot on what was available fresh in the store since we made our own baby food.  More on that later. =)  We did a lot of the common first foods and then just added things we typically ate at home anyway.  I recommend picking your foods and your food order by finding whats obviously safe for your baby to eat but also what's convenient for your baby to eat.  Because lets face it, later on when you do the cooking, they're going to be eating the same food as you anyway. I can't imagine any mom wants to make more than one meal a day. 

What do I feed them next?

Well, we've only gone about three months in this process and this post is mainly to help just help you start.  I have however started to look forward a bit and found this great chart. 

I couldn't seem to find the website at all so no link back  =(  but I've also been looking at wholesomebabyfood's website. Not only are they a great beginning website but they have great information about feeding your baby for a long time, so check them out as well.

And finally, a couple of things to keep in mind:

1. Talk to your doctor before you do anything.  Mine was pretty open about what we fed Noah but I've also heard other doctors who have a list they want you to stick to. 
2. Wait a couple of days in between foods and look for any allergic reactions. I've heard three to four days.  We did that at first and eventually did one or two days in between. 
3. Make sure the food you are giving is food they can eat.  Soft and finely mashed, so they don't choke on it. If you're doing Baby Led Weaning, BLW, I'm not much of an expert at all so you'll have to research that on your own.  I do believe you start those kinds of solids later though, when they are more advanced with their hands and mouth. 
4. Finally, do what feels right to you.  Do as much research as you need but always trust what your mommy gut is telling you.

Once you have an idea of what foods you want to give your baby now you have to decide:
Do I want to make this food or buy it?

We'll work on those questions another time. =)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Noah's Six Month Pictures

I am so excited to finally have gotten Noah's six month pictures in the mail last week.  They turned out so good! I can't wait to get a million copies to put all over the house.  And the more I look at them the more I see how fast Noah is growing up! He's such a big happy boy. He's always smiling and it's so easy to get it to laugh.  A couple of tickles and it's all over for him.

 He just melts my heart.  

If only he could be this happy during nap time. =)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

I've really been craving some new recipes to make, but with Noah around during dinner time it's hard to make recipes that take a lot of prep, stirring or watching over.  When looking on Pinterest, you know, the only place to get recipes nowadays, I've seen people are posting a ton of potato recipes. And I looooove potatoes!

So much so, that during Thanksgiving, any time we go to my grandmas house she always tell my grandpa to make sure and peel a couple extra potatoes just for me.  Then of course we get there and the mash potatoes are piled way super high and since my metabolism just isn't what it used to be, I, will all the self control I have, *rolling eyes* take just a couple of spoonfuls and we have a ton of left over mashed potatoes.

Also, if any of you actually know me, you should ask Jeff about the potato themed party I want to have for Noahs first birthday.  I'm pretty pumped about it.  Jeff is not. Every time I mention this party he's like, " would it be even possible to carry on a birthday theme all about potatoes?! (With a weird questionable face, or the, "ya, lets get into way more details than we should about potato party" face) All I want is a potato themed party, ok?!

And on to the original topic.  I made my own loaded baked potato casserole recipe.  It turned out great and I will for sure add it into the rotation.  It's super easy and fast to make up.  It does take long in the oven but that's just the easy part and I can still play with Noah while I wait.

6-7 Large potatoes
1lb Chicken
1 med onion
5-6 slices of cooked bacon
1 can of cream of chicken soup
2 cups of shredded cheese
1/2 cup of croutons
Salt, pepper and other spices

1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut your potatoes and chicken into bite sized pieces.  Dice your onion and bacon. 

2. Spray you casserole dish. Layer your ingredients.  Half of the potatoes, chicken, can of soup, half the cheese, onion, bacon, rest of your potatoes, rest of the cheese and croutons.  Season your food as you layer with salt, pepper and any other seasoning you like.  I usually use, garlic and onion powder and parsley. Rosemary would be great too if you have that fresh.

3. Cover the dish with tinfoil. Pop in the oven for an hour covered, than a half hour uncovered.  Serve and enjoy!

Prep Time: 10-15mins Total Time: 1hr 45mins ish
Diffc: Super Easy

This was linked up at Let's Get Bananas for Taste of Tuesday.  Feel free to check them out to get other great recipes. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Making Pasta with Hubby

For Christmas Jeff got me the pasta roller attachment to the Kitchen Aid mixer we bought last year. Keeping in mind that he wanted the mixer to begin with and then asked the whole year for the pasta attachment only to buy it as a "present" for me. A little sneaky if you ask me.  I will say though after making this pasta a couple of times it wasn't too bad of a present.

So we're still trying to figure out the ins and outs of making pasta.  It hasn't turned out completely great every time.  We need to find a good pasta recipe that works well for us.   So far we've tried a random one on the internet with water and then a Giada one with oil.  Both turned out really hard so they were difficult to run through the roller.  We've also tried to make ravioli and thicker fettuccine both with the same issues.

Eventually, after much physical labor from Jeff and a giant mess in the kitchen, we did end up with a pretty good product. But there has to be a better way to make pasta, right?  I mean, you watch it on the food network and it always seem so easy.

Looks so simple! Ha!

So does anyone have any tips or tricks to making home-made pasta?  We would love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

30 Weeks

This week so far has been super crazy with Noah.  He's been learning so many thing so fast.  If you blink you'll miss it! He's figured out how to reach forward to grab things and if they're out of reach to reach far enough to get on his tummy. Of course once he's on his tummy he freaks and rolls to him back... only turning to the right.  How long 'till he figures out he can roll to the left?!

  • How old is Noah?:  30 Weeks
  • Noah is how big?: 21 lbs
  • Stats: Size 3 diapers | 6-9mo or 12mo clothing | Full (LARGE) head of fuzzy hair minus his bald "sleeping" spot. (Just like an old man except lower =) | Still has sweaty feet | His belly is rather large and round despite of the hardness || Sitting on his own | Reaching for objects | Holds his sippy cup and "drinks" but doesn't tip the cup | Finally rolls! | Leans forward and gets on all fours, then falls to his belly |
  • Sleep: Sleeping consistently from 7:30pm to 7:30am. Naps four times during the day. The first one being the long one around 1:20, the next two about 50mins and the final nap around 30-40mins.
  • Milestones: All the sudden he no longer likes the puffs he enjoyed last month.  I'm pretty sure the texture is not ok with him.  Also, started adding more solid food.  This week, peaches and chicken!
  • Mom Check-in: Jeff and I had our first overnight trip without Noah and it was fantastic.  We had Jeffs sister watch Noah and we headed to a local hotel to have dinner, drinks and a fun overnight trip.  Of course I still woke up around seven so I'm pretty sure I'm never sleeping in again even if I'd want to. 
  • Best Moment of the Week: Two snow days this week which lead to our first overnight trip!  And check out the snow on our driveway! It was insane!
  • What I’m excited about/looking forward to: This short work week has been great. Looking forward to a couple more days at work to catch up on some little things and then hoping for a relaxing weekend at home with Noah as Jeff has to work. Who wants to come visit?!

Finally, I leave you with some Noah pictures.  We had to raise his walker since he's getting so tall.  He loves it so much, it's for sure his favorite toy.  Jeff and I are in the kitchen all the time and he just follows us around wherever we go.  He especially loves when we open the fridge and bolts to it!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hello 2014!

Looking back at the last year, the first thing I think is, "wow, that was really hard".  There were so many things I'm thankful for, but it was just a hard year! Being pregnant is hard, having a baby is hard, juggling new schedules that include not seeing your husband is hard, and taking care of a newborn was especially hard for me. The good thing is, I feel like I've passed the hard part and now I'm just looking forward to the next year.  I don't doubt that there will be hard moments ahead but it just looks much more bright and carefree.

I'm looking forward to Noah getting older, walking around like a little monster around the house.  Getting lots of hugs and kisses and celebrating lots of family moments together.  I want to make sure we start family traditions and that Noah gets to enjoy the holidays much more than I ever did. I wants to do lots of theme days, and over the top decorations and fun holiday breakfasts with coordinating paper plates and napkins. 

And in honor or my new favorite Noah tee-shirt we made up a new holiday! Taco Day!

We talked in Spanish throughout the day, told him all about Mexican food like tacos, burritos, flautas, enchiladas, nachos... you know, the list goes on, and for dinner had some tacos!  Well, Noah had broccoli, haha, maybe next year he can join us for taco dinner.  Any time Noah was sad or happy or talked to us we would ask him if he wanted to "taco" 'bout it.  I'm pretty sure Jeff and I enjoyed it much more than he did but it was a great day all around. 

Ok, and for a quick re-cap of our Christmas here is a heavy filled picture post.

 Noah had a good time opening presents and we got a great video of him doing so.  He only got grumpy once the present was open so either he didn't like the present or was angry he didn't have more than one. Too bad, so sad.

We went over to visit the rest of the family after our gifts and Noah got super spoiled.
He loved every minute of it. 

 Noah really enjoyed the large amounts of wood floor there.  He had free range to walk anywhere and was so happy for such a long time.  He loved to follow everyone around and grab anything within reach.

We even got some great family pics!

Merry Christmas all!

For New Years, Jeff, Noah and I celebrated at Red Robin with an early dinner.  We graduated Noah from the car seat to a high chair at the restaurant and it was a great idea.  He was so happy and had so much more to see.  He has so much to grab too that it was non stop fun for him. We ate, then Noah ate and we left happy and just in time for bed when we got home.  

I did not end up making it 'till midnight although I had high hopes at the beginning of the day.  Cashed out around 10:30 after watching marching band videos.  How awesome, haha. I was woken up soon after midnight for the first kiss of the year, that's about how good that was.  Overall a great night, but such a parent night. Gotta love it.  
Of course when I woke up at 730 the next morning to a wide awake Noah I realized what a great idea not staying up for the ball drop was. =)

And so, that was the end of this year. 
Cheers for another great one, with lots more fun, and a much older baby!