Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Feed that baby!

Warning: mama post. May be boring to those who are not responsible for feeding small humans.

Probably one of the single biggest responsibilities I juggle every day is what to feed baby girl. I think its been one of the most consuming elements of motherhood thus far. Thankfully, as she gets older, it’s becoming less consuming and easier. Along the way, I have relied on a lot of advice from friends and our doctor. Tonight, I thought I’d put some snippets of what I’ve found most helpful as we’ve journeyed through the world of baby food.

First off, I’ll start with formula. I’ll be quick. We weren’t planning to switch to formula when we did, but it happened, and we had to deal. I did a lot of research on formula and what all goes into it. You wouldn’t believe some of the things that make it in there. So, I knew we had to be careful. After weighing our options, we decided to go with organic formula distributed by PBM Nutritionals. (In our case, we use “Comforts for Baby Organic” from Kroger) ((It is the same price as nonorganic)) Not all organic formulas are indeed completely organic and/or the best option. So, that’s why after reading through and comparing the different organic brands we went with PBM. I will say that after we switched baby to formula, it was like our girl turned a corner. I think she finally felt full, something I worried often that she wasn’t when nursing. She has been happy with the switch. Now we are almost DONE with formula! Horray! I’ll link the site here that I found most helpful when making our formula choice.

Now for the fun part, food! We started introducing solids at 4 months, beginning with applesauce. We stuck to the 4-day introduction “rule” where you introduce a food for four days to make sure baby doesn’t have a reaction to it. In that four-day span, you don’t introduce anything else new to make sure you’d be able to pinpoint what the reaction was to should one occur. I am no expert in what foods should be introduced when. I relied heavily on my doctor’s advice and tips from friends. I personally really like this site linked here. It gives a good breakdown of foods by age and also offers some recipes for blends when baby is old enough. We did strictly purees through about 6 months and then started introducing finger foods. Now, at 11 months, we are doing mostly finger foods and only using a puree for greens. For some reason, baby girl won’t take greens in their solid form. To this point, I have made the majority of the food. As she’s gotten older, we have started to incorporate more pre-bought snack foods and puree pouches.

So, here are my favorite baby food products, because baby “stuff” just makes it more fun.

The NUMBER ONE item you must have if you're making your own baby food is a Beaba Baby Cook. Listen people, I tried to be cheap. I tried to just buy a "single serve" blender, thinking it would do the same thing. Oh, how wrong I was. My mother-in-law bought us the Baby Cook and it changed the way I made baby food. It is infinitely more easy. And- it requires far less cleanup than doing it any other way- trust me, I know. So the Baby Cook both steams the food and blends the food you are preparing. (no more steamer basket, no more pans on the stove, no more blender….) It's a one stop shop. It is worth the investment. 

Now you have to have a place to store all that yummy food you make. I have loved the Nuk silicone freezer trays. I don't think you necessarily have to buy the Nuk brand, but I would make sure you get silicone. (this was a tip from my good friend Amanda) It makes it easy to pop out just one block of food at a time for when you need it. 

As far as high chairs go, we had to make a choice. At the time we started feeding solids, we were living in a small apartment. We didn't really have the room for a big, bulky high chair. So, we opted for the Fisher Price Space Saver chair. It fits on top of one of your existing dining chairs. We have loved it. It is really easy to clean, and it super portable. So, if we are traveling, we can take it with us! It comes in different prints so you can probably find one to match your decor if you're into that.

Little Green Pouches have been awesome. The store-bought pouches are pretty pricy, so we wanted to find an alternative. Now, we still occasionally use the store-bought ones, especially if we're out and about or for me if "it's just been one of those days and I can not put another ounce of energy into filling up my own pouch". Ok so, after reading some reviews, my sitter and I actually landed on these pouches. They zip from the top to prevent spillage, and they are super easy to fill and clean (dishwasher safe!). You can stick whatever food you've pureed in there. I will sometimes make smoothies and put that in. I even put just plain applesauce sometimes. They're great!

So, there's my take on getting your baby fed. It's been time-consuming to make my own food and think through what's nutritionally best, but so worth it. Baby girl turns one in less than a month, stay tuned for reflections on a year! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

It's in the Timing

I don’t know a lot about being patient- it’s not really my strong suit. I do have patience, but it is prayed-for patience. I pray for it and then God gives me many opportunities every day to be patient. Some days I’m successful, other days not so much. The dictionary definition of patient goes something like this: quietly and steadily persevering with fortitude and calm, and without complaint, anger, or the like. I like the words steadily and calm from that definition. Sometimes while waiting, it is hard to be steady and calm. Many times, for me, I find it especially hard to exhibit steadiness and calmness when trusting in the timing of things for baby girl. Here’s just a quick list of things I have stressed about recently as far as timing is concerned: when do we start formula? when should she start eating solid food? when should we go from three naps to just two? she’s not rolling over, shouldn’t she be rolling over? when should we break free of the swaddle? is it time to move to a four-hour feeding schedule? she’s still not crawling, is that ok? is it ok for her to sleep with a blanket overnight now? And- the list could go on, and on…and on. Perhaps you are a mama and you have stressed/are stressing about the timing of similar things. Perhaps you have your own list and are worried about getting the timing of these things right. Perhaps you are more of a “go with the flow” kind of person, in which case, you can stop reading.

You see, here’s where the problem starts- we are worried about when WE should make decisions regarding timing, when, in reality, we should be worried about when HE is going to time things. Something that has been on my heart, friends, is the Lord’s timing and do we trust it? My sweet girl teaches me time and time again that I am not in control of timing and that I must continue to be steadily patient and remain calm. All of those things I listed above? Holly did them exactly when was right for her. I probably worried about most of those things for weeks before she was ready, and then just one day, she was ready. She knew her timing. She didn’t stress and the Lord made her ready, well, when she was ready. I continue to be taught about the Lord, His goodness, and His perfect timing through that precious girl. He has given her to me, at exactly the right time, to teach me exactly what I’m supposed to be learning.

I love this verse from Habakkuk: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (2:3)” You see in the midst of chaos and turmoil, the Lord told Habakkuk to wait and trust in His timing. People have been steadily and calmly waiting for a long time, and we must do the same. What are you waiting for? Stay steady. What timing are you trying to control? Be calm. The Lord has perfect timing, let us rest in that. And, let us be encouraged by this, because this, friends, this is good: “For I am going to do something in your days, that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5

And I’ll leave it at that.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm sorry, what? Things I wish my friends without kids knew.

One of my friends told me once that she felt like once someone became a mom it was like they joined a club that only those who are moms can join. I didn’t think much of it, but now that I think about it, it’s pretty much true. In a way, it’s so very comforting to know that your friends with kids know what you’re going through. They get it. But what makes me sad is that once you “join” that club, you sometimes grow apart from those not in said club. It’s not intentional, it just sort-of happens. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it is nothing we should just accept. It takes making a choice, actively making a choice, to sustain friendships both with kid-having friends and those friends who are kid-less. Neither is superior to the other, and we need friends of all ages, shapes, sizes, and walks of life. Three of my very best friends don’t have babies and they are most my rock. They don’t have to have a baby to love me well and encourage me. All that being said, here’s a list of nine things that I always want my non-kiddo friends to know perhaps just to shed a little light on why those of us who are now parents are just so stinking crazy. I mean it- we’ve lost it…what were we thinking? (Just kidding, it’s awesome…most of the time…but don’t get in any rush)

Things aren’t instant anymore…yep, you just hopped right out of the car and you’re ready to walk into the store. Yeah, give me five minutes and I’ll be right there- let me unbuckle the car seat, take the grumpy baby out, oh yeah, the stroller, let me fight with that beast, grab all the junk it takes JUST to go to one store (why is there SO MUCH STUFF!?), buckle the baby in, annnnd we’re good to go. Sorry I don’t move as quickly as I once did. Trust me, I miss it.

I’m still me, well sort of…I still love doing all of the things I did pre-baby. I just don’t have as much time to do those things. I still like to laugh at stupid movies and stay up late talking. Sometimes, I’m just a little tired, that’s all. My likes and dislikes haven’t changed, I just have another life to tend to, and that takes a lot of brain cells. I would have given you a head’s up, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this.  

Nope, I can’t go out at 7:30pm…I wish we had money for a babysitter all the time, but we don’t. I’ve got to be back at the house by 5:30 to get dinner and bedtime rolling. If not, this calm sea will turn into an ugly sea monster and we will all be real sad. My sanity is often dependent on a living being who has only inhabited the earth 9 months. She’s not real flexible, sorry about that.

I’m doing my best to listen…I apologize in advance for cutting you off mid-story. I’m sorry you might have to repeat what you just said because my girl’s new thing is to scream at the top of her lungs. I hear you and I truly do care…sometimes it just might not come across that way. Babies have a way of demanding your attention and getting pretttty upset if you don’t give it them. Selfish, good grief.

I truly forgot…I can’t remember what my name is some days. So, I’m sorry if I forgot to ask you how your meeting went. I’m sorry if I forgot to tell you thanks for that sweet text you sent or if it seemed like I ignored you when you texted me. Chances are my phone was confiscated or hidden because it is so bright and shiny and baby girl will eat it if I don’t hide it. When I remembered in that glorious moment of solitude that is the morning shower that I needed to text you back or whatever it might be, I forgot before I got a chance to do whatever it was.

It’s not as easy as you think…I admit it, I judged parents before I was one. Why on earth did she dress her in that to go out in PUBLIC? Can’t you just make that kid be quiet in church? My perspective on this changed the day I tried to baby girl in the cutest outfit in the world to come home from the hospital. I couldn’t get the stinkin thing on her, she was wailing, and I was like forget it- just wear the white onsie, it’s easier. Sometimes being a mom is real hard, its super great, but its hard. Just know that there’s more to what’s going on than what meets the eye.

Traveling with a baby is detestable, yes, detestable…before baby, we traveled all the time. We LOVE to travel. It’s horrid with a baby. I’m telling you the amount of things it requires to keep a small human alive for even for a day (and don’t get me started on overnight, oy!) is unreal. So, a lot of times we might turn you down for that weekend away, or we might seem like we don’t visit enough. It’s just easier to stay home. We have what we need. Baby sleeps better. Life is structured. Life is good- at home. It is always such a relief to hear, “can I come over?” or “can we come visit you?”. You have no idea how big of a YES that is. Hang in there with us the next few years, things will change.

Sometimes it’s lonely…so, thanks for those sweet texts I don’t return. Thanks for still asking me to go out after 7:30pm. Even though I forget and often can’t do things I want to, it makes me feel loved that you still ask. A lot of times, you feel like you’re on an island and no one know what you’re going through, so being remembered is nice.

I still love you…I need kid-less friends to keep me sane, young, and happy. We are so thankful for our friends that don’t have kids. We might not always come across as being so thankful, but we are. Nothing but love for you people, nothing but love. Don’t forget it…even if it seems like we have.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

So We Bought a House

Hello friends-
As you may have guessed from the title of this post, we are now homeowners! What a process it was, but it was fun (well, most of the time). We moved into our new digs about two weeks ago. Slowly things are coming together as we put our stamp on this place. You may have heard the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child". Well, while I do agree with that, I also think it takes a village to buy and make somewhere your home. From finding the right realtor to show you houses, to installing a new light fixture, to moving all that crap you have into your new place, you need help. We are so very thankful to everyone who helped us in our journey, we couldn't have done it without ya'll. So, what did we learn along the way? A lot. But- here are my top five things (in no specific order) to consider in the whole home buying process.

Don't stretch yourself. I'm married to a financial advisor. But more than that, I'm married to the budget nazi. My husband knows how every penny of our money is spent- its real annoying. However, I must say that I am thankful (most days) that he is so dedicated to having a budget and sticking to it. That's how we were able to buy our house and have some money to do some decorating/fixing up. Know what you can spend when you go into the process and don't go over it. Also, its important to take into consideration other expenses that you might incur after you've bought the place. For example, it didn't cross our minds that the door locks would have to be replaced. There was a $100 purchase that we hadn't thought about, so we had to take the money from another part of the budget. (Sadly, it was my decorating budget- boo.) Good planning will take you a long way.

You can change a house, but you can't change its location. So, I love old houses. Like, a lot. I am all into the charm and the old hardwood floors and something that was built circa 1850. In Richmond, those houses are in the city. I love the city, I want to live there, I want to be cool like those city folks. However, when you buy a house in the city, you're not just buying a house, you're buying a school district. And- while I am not hating, RVA city schools aren't notorious for their stellar reputation. So, while I loved, loved, loved every house we looked at in the city, we knew this wasn't our forever house and that we'd want to sell it in the next five to six years. School districts sell and so, we moved our search to the suburbs. And- here we are in our nice little cape in a nice little school district.

Be patient. I don't have a lot to say on this point because I'm not a very patient person. What I will say is make sure you take your time in looking for what you really want. More than that, be patient with the whole kit and caboodle. Finding your "right house" takes time, but so does getting a mortgage, decorating, and the list goes on. Take it one step at a time and be thorough in what you're doing. Trust me, it will save you time later.

Sometimes it pays to pay. Referencing back to my first point, my husband does not like to spend money in "unnecessary ways". This is where our paint debate ensued. Every place that we've lived, minus one, we have painted. We have done this ourselves and spent countless hours taping, trimming, and rolling. Fast forward to 2014. We have a baby. I have no time to think about if my shirt matches my shorts much less paint an entire house. Husband thinks, we've got this, we're definitely painting the place on our own like always. We go back and forth for weeks until I call a painter and get him in for an estimate. By a loving act from the Lord, the painter was very reasonable and husband agrees to have him paint the place. He gets it done in a day and a half (we're talking the kitchen, hallways up and down, stairwell, living room, and two bedrooms). On that second day, we walk in and it was the best feeling to come into a painted house and we didn't lift a finger. It was well worth the money for the time and headache we saved. It may not be paint for you, but sometimes it does pay to hand the job over to someone else.

Know what you want, but also know what you don't. You know what you dream of having in your home. You know things you are willing to compromise on. Often, though, you don't think of things you don't want. I knew I did not want an old kitchen. I knew that we did not have money to do a kitchen remodel and I didn't want to live with something I hated. I also knew that I did not want the baby to be on a different floor of the house than us. We had to have rooms on the same level. So, know things you just can't have too when you're in the thick of house hunting.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for- some house pictures! We're still working on many of the rooms, but here are a few highlights from rooms that are pretty much finished.

Our living room, including the coffee table my Daddy built!

Living room again.

Excited about this fire place tool hook find at Hobby Lobby.


Kitchen again

Guest bath. Pinterest inspired color and hooks.

Guest bath again…my Dad and I made the frame for the mirror. 

Another Pinterest idea put into action in our built-ins in the kitchen. 

That's all for now, happy house hunting to all you house hunters!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On Becoming Babywise

As promised a while back, here is my official post on the Babywise method. I’m hoping that this makes sense as I’m multi-tasking right now- writing this post and well, watching Frozen. Because, who doesn’t spend their Tuesday night watching Frozen with their husband?

I’ll start off by saying that one of the most important things I have learned since becoming a mom is that there is no one “right way” to do things. This was a particularly hard lesson for me to learn because I am by nature a rule follower. I like there to be one set way for things to be done. Well, when it comes to kids, it just doesn’t work like that and that’s the beauty in parenting. When it comes to making major decisions for Holly, Kenneth and I typically spend a great deal of time talking it over, praying through it, and weighing our options. When it comes down to it, I try my best to do what I believe is the right thing for Holly and then leave it to the Lord. I know, no matter what my decisions may be, that the Lord is ultimately the caregiver and sustainer of my little girl’s life, and I have to rest in that. Sometimes, (like, hey, when should we start formula, what kind of formula, what kind of food, how many naps should she be taking………) it’s hard for me to take refuge in the Lord, but ultimately when I do, my heart rests easy and things always fall into place. We are never not cared for, and never have our needs not been met. Jesus has a pretty good track record if you ask me.

So, all that leads me to briefly filling you in our decision to use the Babywise method for sleep training. From what I’ve read, it seems that Babywise is either something people love or something people are really against. Either way, like I said, I do what I think is right for my kid and what works for us as parents. I am not saying that Babywise is the only right way to sleep train, but it’s what we did and I am living proof that it works. In a nut shell, Babywise is parent-directed scheduling of your baby. Your baby eats, sleeps, and plays on a structured schedule starting from about week one or two. In the most simple of terms it works like this: feed your baby, play with baby, and then put baby to sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The times that you feed are scheduled starting from every two hours to eventually every four hours. We’ve arrived at the every four hours and its glorious. I no longer feel like my life is controlled by my baby’s eating schedule. After the baby eats, you play. The time for play lengthens as baby gets older. Next, it’s time for sleep and then the cycle repeats. With Babywise you know pretty much exactly when your baby will eat, play, and sleep. It is predictable. I like predictable. Holly likes predictable. We sync well together. There is certainty room for flexibility, because let’s face it, babies have a mind of their own and things can change real quick. So, if baby gets hungry 30 minutes before they are “scheduled” to eat, you feed them. It’s not about making a baby be hungry or not sleep when they’re tired, you just learn to read your baby’s cues. There is a whole lot that goes into the Babywise philosophy, but it would take me forever to write about it, and it is much better put on this site if you’re interested. I have consulted the site many, many times in our journey. Anyway, what initially peaked my interest in Babywise was the claim that you can teach your baby how to sleep through the night at a very early age. I really love sleep. I have always been into sleep. I started sleeping through the night at two weeks old and have never turned back. So, I wanted to also instill this in my daughter. I’ll admit, mostly for selfish reasons of my own need for sleep, but also because I truly believe that a well-rested baby is a happier baby. So, we started Babywise with Holly shortly after she was born. For a while, I don’t know that I even knew that I was doing the method because for a few weeks, time was pretty fuzzy. I was in a haze, but when the fog lifted, we were incredibly intentional with the eat, play, sleep schedule. Holly started sleeping in five hour stints at night at about four weeks old, and then started sleeping through the night at six weeks old. She has slept through the night ever since. People always tell us that “we are so lucky to have a good sleeper”. My friends, we do have a great baby, she’s awesome if I do say so myself. But- we put in a good bit of hard work to get her to sleep through the night, it’s not really luck. At seven weeks old, we moved her to her own crib to sleep, out of our room. (I do have to fess up that this was by my husband’s encouragement, because I was very hesitant to do this.) This was another game changer because we then got a much more restful sleep and were even happier. So, that’s why we have gone with Babywise. We were dedicated to it, and it worked for us. Is it the holy grail of sleep training methods, probably not. Do I recommend it for new parents? Absolutely. I read the book “On Becoming Babywise” (ok ,I heavily skimmed the book) before Holly was born, and after she came I mostly consulted the blog referenced above. It’s a great method and we intend to use it with future babies. From what I’ve read, you can start it at any point in your baby’s life if you are having trouble with sleeping through the night. If you have questions or want further info. I’d love to help you in whatever ways I can. Happy Tuesday everyone, now back to Frozen…

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Overcoming Fears

About a week ago, we experienced an awesome parenting moment. It was a moment that moved us to tears as we watched our baby girl grow as a person and overcome a fear. For some reason, Holly recently developed a fear of bath time. One night she just didn’t want to get a bath and she let us know it. There were a lot of tears in the days to follow whenever bath time came around. We tried several different strategies from no bath at all to ditching the baby tub for the big tub. Nothing was working, she would just cry and cry and we felt defeated. Most of what I read about fear of baths was in older children, so I didn’t quite get a straight answer on what to do. But, I pieced together some information from what I did read and came up with a strategy. So, a week ago, I got the music going, got the big tub water temperature just right, put down a soft towel in the tub, and loaded it up with toys. Then, I got my bathing suit on and climbed in. Holly sat in my lap at first and we just sang and hung out. She whimpered, but that was nothing compared to the nights before. After a few minutes, she started to show interest in splashing. So, I slowly lowered her into the water and she starting having a hay day. She was cackling and loving it. Holly is a happy baby, but rarely laughs. It was such a sweet moment to see her take a risk and truly enjoy the reward. In that moment, she conquered her fears and just grew to be more a little more independent. I really can’t put into words how it felt as her mama to watch her take this step. It reminds me that sometimes it is the small steps that we take that can yield the most growth. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of taking that first step. I am confident that much like the pride I felt for my daughter taking this step, the Lord feels the same for us as we take steps in our growth with Him. Through the journey, He is ready to provide us with what we need to take those steps and guide us as we go. My family is resting in this right now as we face big decisions in the coming weeks and months (one being: we’re looking for our first house!). I read this verse today which struck my heart as I am reminded of how I need to trust in the Lord with my anxieties and fears: “And my God will meet all you needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) The Lord meets all of our needs, no matter what they pertain to. Wherever we are, He’s been there too. Tonight, we’ll rest in that.