Thursday, April 30, 2015

Table Foods

While I have thoroughly enjoyed the puréed meats that I get to feed my baby (note sarcasm?) we are slowly but surely approaching the days where we will say farewell to baby food. Who wants to be spoon fed when you can smash your little fingers in real food instead? Of course each baby is introduced to food at their own pace, but I thought it might be nice to have a reference for myself and others regarding when we introduced which foods, and more importantly as of late, what foods to have on hand that are quick, easy, and most importantly, healthy.

1. The first food
We introduced rice cereal at 4 months per the green light from our pediatrician. This process was slow. We mixed in just enough cereal that we could spoon feed it, basically just to introduce Jax to the action of eating rather than sucking. He got pretty frustrated, so we would try one day, assess how he was doing, and try again in a few days. Eventually he started taking in the food and finishing what we prepared (starting with a tablespoon of cereal, at most) and as he was able to finish, we slowly increased the cereal and upped the thickness to be more like real  cereal and less like milk.

2. Fruits
After 3-4 weeks of mastering the whole cereal thing, we started mixing in baby food fruit. We chose to go the store bought route for our baby food. I strongly debated making my own, but with a full time job and full time grad school going on, it just wasn't something I had the time to tackle. After reading the ingredients label on the Gerber baby food, I realized we really were getting exactly what the label said, and I felt confident knowing I was giving my baby good nutrition.
Let me tell you, once flavors come into play, eating is a whole new ball game. Baby loved every fruit and most vegetables. Except for peas, and garden vegetables. Don't give the kid garden vegetables. He will make you pay. We transitioned after 2-3 weeks of mixing to letting him try the baby foods without cereal, and that went over great and was a smooth transition.

3. Increasing amounts
This one always made me nervous. How do you know your baby is getting enough? They will let you know, I promise. Upon feeding Jax a full 4 ounce container of carrots and having him grunt and give me the crazy eyes, I knew I needed to whip out some bananas before the boy lost it. And when baby is full, they will lean over the edge of the highchair and pay attention to absolutely anything else besides the spoon you are shoving in their face. Unfortunately there is no step by step parenting manual, but babies really do lead the way.

4. Introducing solids
Oh the joys of real food. Also, the terror. This one is scary for parents. How big should the pieces be, how soft, how much? We started off with puffs and teething biscuits, mostly because they dissolve in baby's mouth and get them used to having food that needs to be chewed rather than swallowed whole like the purées. We also tried a fancy little mesh contraption that allows him to suck the juice and nutrition out of fruits and veggies, while eliminating the choking hazard. Honestly, I was not a fan. Baby loved it, but have fun cleaning a demolished, soggy banana out of the mesh(note: it is impossible). 

We really started incorporating solids into meals around 7-8 months, doing puréed baby food for the main portion, and then giving him a few halved blueberries or sliced strawberries to wrap up the meal. And he loved it. As his hand eye coordination has improved (because in the beginning he would clench the food in his fist and not understand how to get it back out) so did his speed and success with eating. Much less food ends up in his lap, and instead in his mouth. 
5. Going full solids
From about 9 months to present, we are nearly entirely on solids. He still gets baby food, mostly because I am cheap and want to make sure we use up what we have. He loves oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, so I may continue with that for awhile, because it is easy and he enjoys it. Otherwise, we love canned/frozen vegetables that are heated and soft, any and all fruits (he may or may not moan when he eats bananas), and real meal foods, too. Scrambled eggs and pancakes from Perkins call his name. Tator tot hot dish is fine by him, and last week I made a healthy beef (aka ground turkey) stew and he literally went NUTS over it. He demolished the stewed tomatoes in it. And, despite the sourness, give him all the lime frozen fruit bars, he will take them. 
Some foods that I have learned to always have in the house for convenience and to ensure baby is getting healthy foods include:
1. Fresh strawberries
2. Fresh blueberries
3. Bananas
4. String cheese
5. Greek yogurt (he will put down an entire container by himself in minutes!)
6. Leftover recipes like Tator tot hotdish, potatoes, anything with soft ingredients we can cut up for him
7. Pancake mix (his weekend treat)
8. Eggs
9. Puffs and/or Cheerios
10. Gerber oatmeal and fruits
11. Canned and frozen vegetables
12. Clementines 
13. Black beans 

It is great to finally be to that point that we can give him whatever we are eating, and let him feed himself. The mess may not be fun to clean up, but watching him make the mess is!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

That Post Pregnancy Cocktail

Pregnant ladies dream of having a drink. Seriously. One who hates beer may suddenly find herself 4 months pregnant on a warm spring day and craving a cold bud light so badly she would do just about anything to get her hands on one. I spent all of last summer dreaming of the day that I would enjoy an angry orchard with my pizza. I would have my baby as the end of summer approached, and my cocktail could once again make its appearance during lazy Friday night dinners at home.

Oh how wrong I was.
My baby will be 9 months old in a few weeks (hysterical sobbing) and I still am not 'indulging' as I would like to. Now, let me be clear. I am not a party girl (minus that one year in college...) I do not get wild and crazy. I have a strict 9pm bedtime (no joke). But I have yet to throw back a drink without ensuring baby has been put to bed and won't be waking for a snack. Ok, actually I have done this. And guess what. Baby woke up and wanted a snack, which means hauling down to the freezer, thawing a bag of milk, preparing a bottle, and then feeding a furious baby who is hungry and knows that mama is holding him, so why are you trying to shove a second rate bottle in my mouth, forcryingoutloud. The kid is spoiled and has specific dining preferences, what can I say.
The reality is, unless you plan to formula feed, don't budget weekend cocktails into your post baby diet just yet. If I thought pregnancy was a commitment...breastfeeding, oi. I am glad I did (still am) doing it. I 100% plan to do it for all of my children. And I will also do a happy dance when the pump goes away forever. 

For expectant, future, or uncertain mothers, a simple (and by simple I mean complicated where having that cocktail really just might not be worth it) thing to keep in mind is that your body needs two hours per drink before your milk is 'ok' to give your baby. Feeling extra fun and going for *gasp* TWO drinks with your dinner? Well those fun little newborns love to eat around the clock, so kiss this option goodbye.
Maybe I'm sounding scary. Or maybe dramatic. We all know you can pump'n'dump. But I'm a milk hoarder, y'all. My mom (who does 95% of baby's bottle feedings) has informed me I need to start storing my stash at home because her basement freezer has reached capacity. Woops. But you spend 20 minutes pumping the stuff and then watch it slowly pour down the drain and tell me you aren't crying on the inside. I will say it is worth it, but it ain't easy. I'll just wait to enjoy my drinks worry free until I am baby free. At which point I will be a round the clock child chauffeur and will be picking up homesick kids from sleepovers.
Mom life.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Our First Easter

Every holiday with a child is a new experience and so much fun. I have learned in the past 8 months though that just because I am excited for a Christmas get together, doesn't mean my 4 month old baby is. This weekend was our first holiday where baby was (mostly) all smiles, and he overcame some of his stranger danger with lots of smiles and babbles. Easter is always such an amazing reminder of why we are here, and the sacrifice that was made for us. We are so blessed, and happy to remember why we celebrate Easter!
My perfect little hunny bunny
I mean, that butt.
Probably our only basket for the boy that will be candy free!
"Is that who I think it is, mom?"...
IT IS. Daniel Tiger is our favorite person. Ever.
Pooped after round one.
Really guys, more pictures?
Don't ask Jackson to stay still for a picture, he won't listen.
My heart.
Cheesin with great grandma and grandpa

I hope that everyone had a great Easter weekend with lots of faith, family, and food!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Eight Months.

Really. REALLY? I swear I just wrote the 7 month post last week. Time is going by so fast lately, some days I can barely keep up. With the changing times comes a changing baby, and he keeps on learning new tricks and adorable things every day.

Can we just talk about his outfit for a second. I about died when I saw this hat, practically a steal at target, and his moccs are a fabulous and affordable alternative to some more expensive brands, perfect for quickly growing and changing feet. The little girl styles KILL me, too bad I just couldn't justify the pink and gold polka dots for my boy ;-) This little man just kills me, he looks ready to hang on the beach with Jason Mraz, am I right!? A hipster at 8 months, no big deal.
Age: 8 months
Height: 29.5 inches. 98th percentile, no big deal.
Weight: 23 pounds. 96th percentile. I'm gonna have some killer biceps from hauling this kid around.
Milestones: Still not crawling. However, for being immobile he has this incredible ability to somehow end up on the opposite side of the room facing the opposite direction in a matter of seconds. Just because your baby doesn't crawl doesn't mean you can leave the room, I have learned. I have popped into the bathroom to brush my teeth with Jackson laying on his belly by the couch, and have emerged a minute later to Jackson laying by the window chewing on a tablet charger. So there's that.
For not crawling, he still loves working out his little muscle man legs. We have started practicing 'standing', and we can let go and he holds himself up for a few seconds. Strength isn't an issue at all, just gotta work on that balance. Jackson is going to be a master at trust falls, I think!
Sleep: The same. I mean, I can safely say we have a baby that sleeps through the night, but the random bad nights still happen. It tends to happen on weekends, too. So maybe it is my fault because he gets thrown off of his 'schedule' because mama is too busy playing to give him naps when she should...
Best Moment: Baby boy has started cuddling! Let me explain. The kid has always liked being held, but I would say he took the love and never gave much in return. The last few weeks, though, we are talking head on the shoulder, face burying in the chest, sweet cuddles. It isn't just when he is falling asleep either. Baby boy will be wide awake and just take a break for the activity to rest his head on my shoulder and babble some baby talk. Definitely my new favorite thing.
Worst Moment: Nothing really sticks out this month. So as always I will say sleep and reflect back on last weekend where I was hanging out on the couch at 2am with a chatty little boy who wanted to blow spit bubbles and touch my face repeatedly. I love you buddy, but no.
Health: All the same. We are nearing the end of flu season and say we had it pretty easy this year.
Eating: Loves fruit. Loves pizza. Not too sure about baby food with chunks of noodle in it (let's just swallow the sauce and let the noodles collect on our tongue). Gets distracted easily and will look at or focus on just about anything rather than taking the bite I am trying to shove in his mouth. Obsessed with string cheese. Enjoys teething biscuits for dessert which he crunch crunch crunches with his little teeth. Cutest sound ever.
Teeth: Still just rocking the bottom set. I'm a little scared for the top two to break through, I don't know if I can handle a teething baby right now, I hear those top two are not easy on baby!

Another interesting little bit about our guys is his eye color. They were so dark early on we had everyone guessing they would be DARK brown. Well, those babies are dark, but they have so many speckles of blue, green, and who even knows what other colors, I am going to go ahead and say that they are without a doubt hazel. They are so so dark though, sometimes I would almost describe them as grey. You need to be careful looking into them, there is so much going on you just might get lost.

I have to say Jax's little personality has exploded in the past month. He makes the most hysterical 'cheese' smile, loves to babble and make growly noises, begs for us to share our dinner with him, and has giggle fits when we play peek a boo around the corner. I know he is approaching the age where he is really going to change so much and become so much more independent, so we are soaking up every moment of our squishy little baby that we can!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Motherhood has ruined me.

Being a mom is not a glamorous job. It often consists of late nights, earlier mornings, cold meals, and boogers on the shoulder of your shirt the morning of an important meeting. These are the things that people warn us about. These are the things that we know we are getting into. There are some things, though, that you cannot read about, research, or mentally prepare for. These are the emotions of motherhood. And, in the past week, it has become overwhelmingly apparent to me that motherhood has ruined me.

Let me explain. Clearly anything that ruins you can be perceived as negative, but not in this case. We recently received the heartbreaking news that the little boy of some friends passed away after a traumatic accident. I have always been saddened and upset after learning of such events in the past, but this one struck closer to home and on a more personal level than others. And, another new factor came into play in the scenario: I have my own child. A child who I immediately pictured going through the same sequence of events as that little boy. I pictured his little face and could barely maintain my composure because I had never realized just how much I never want my baby to suffer or know pain. I know that I cannot do this. I cannot stop that first girl from breaking his heart. I cannot stop a teacher or coach from telling him he isn't the best fit, or his work isn't good enough. I can't call up an employer and tell them to change their decision and give the job to my child. I can, of course, raise him to be the best person possible, who is strong and able to stomach the blows life throws at him and use them as learning experiences. I can never prepare myself, though, for the heartbreak this family we know and care for is going through.

Motherhood ruins you, in the best and worst ways possible. To be so consumed and overwhelmed by the love you feel that the thought of losing it is too much to even think about is both a blessing and a curse. They say it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, and I suppose that is true. Every moment with my sweet boy is a treasure and a gift. I know that God created my child so perfectly for me, and I cannot imagine any other little body and soul being the one that I call my own. The past week has included extra cuddles, setting aside the chores for play, and allowing him to sneak into our bed in the early hours of the morning so we can watch his beautiful face as he sleeps so soundly. If my only accomplishment in life is raising him to be a loving, respectable man, I will go to the grave proud of the life that I have lived, because at the end of the day he is all that matters. That little boy has ruined me, but the tradeoff of special moments and love have made every moment up to this very second worth it. I truly never knew how much life was worth living, until I was given the privilege of starting every day being greeted by his precious face.

I am ruined for life, because my entire heart and soul is in one tiny person's hands. It eases the blow, though, to know that those are the hands that pull my hair, wrap around my neck, and gently touch my face as a little boy is drifting off to sleep. My heart is in my favorite hands in the world, and that is where it will stay, forever and always.
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