Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Eager Eater

Since we last caught up about baby food, Baby C was just dipping her toes into the figurative baby food pool.  We started out with avocado and banana, and have since mastered and enjoyed pumpkin, peas, sweet potato, apple, pear, peach,'s a veritable farmers market in my little girl's tummy!  With new foods, we're trying some rather interesting combinations.  I don't think I'd eat carrots and applesauce, but who knew my 6 month old would be more adventurous than me!

She looks like she's having fun, right?

Now that Claire is starting to eat a varied selection of food, I have to be choosy when picking out my produce.  Clearly, organic produce is ideal...but I don't have a money tree in my backyard.  Here are some things I do to save a bit of money (and in some instances, time!):

The Dirty Dozen

If you have a limited baby grocery budget, but still want to buy organic, prioritize with the Dirty Dozen.  These are foods that carry the most pesticide residue.  They are apples, blueberries, celery, grapes, kale, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers.  The way that I look at is anything that I'll either eat with the skin on or has a very thin skin, I should probably buy organic.  So even if they're not on the list, I'd probably add other berries, like raspberries and blackberries, as well as pears and plums.  Bananas?  Definitely don't eat the peel (intentionally) and even if I did (?), it's thick so pesticides would probably not be able to seep into the fruit.  Same thing with oranges, avocados, cantaloupe, etc.  But as my husband always reminds me, he didn't eat organic growing up and he's just fine.  The jury's still out on that one...

Buy Frozen/Canned

Frozen fruits/veggies are a money and a time saver!  It's usually much cheaper and the prep work is usually done for you!  For instance, my favorite way to make Baby C peas is to buy a bag of frozen (and shelled!) sweet peas, steam them in my rice cooker, puree them, and voila - baby food for 4 days!  Easy as pie!  Canned is similar, but you have to be a little more careful.  First, be sure to check that nothing else is added (should just be the fruit/veg and water).  It's also tough to determine whether or not it's organic.  Just remember my peel rule and you'll be fine.  With the abundance of canned pumpkin in the grocery stores right now, I picked up a can for $1 and got 5 2 oz. servings out of it!  I figured it was way easier and cheaper than buying a baking pumpkin, roasting it, scooping it out, pureeing it...a lot less messy, too!  You can find great organic applesauce made of just apples and water that is way easier than baking or steaming, then peeling, then mashing apples.  Hey, I like to make my baby food, but I also like to work smarter not harder.

Farmers Market

Getting your produce at the farmers market is a great way to go.  Most of the time, food is organic, it's local, and you can likely talk to the farmer themselves about their produce.  On occasion, the market can be a little more expensive than going to a grocery store, but try some different strategies to save some money.  Ask if you can get a flat of berries for a cheaper price then freeze them.  Or try going close to closing - vendors are usually willing to cut you a deal so they don't have to pack as much back up.

Something else I do to get a bigger bang for my buck - make food once or twice a week and store it in the freezer in these:

I usually make food on a Saturday or Sunday, and then again midweek.  My preferred method is steaming in my rice cooker.  I can leave it be for about 10-15 minutes, let it cool down, puree and baby food is made in the time it would have taken me to pack up Baby C in the car, drive to the store, and pay 2-3 times the price for the same amount of food.

Who makes food for their little one?  Any money or time saving tips you can share?  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No One Told Me!

When most people talk about how life changes after having a child, they only tell you the good things.  "You are filled with such a sense of joy and love."  Yes.  That's true.  But no one wants to talk about the ugly things.  Or the negative things.  Oh, let me break it down for you.  Some aspects of LAB (life after baby) are great.  Obviously, the biggest part of LAB is baby!  And that's awesome...99% of the time.  You have a cute reason to make silly faces, dress up in mini clothes, and go to Disney movies.  But there's a few things about LAB that aren't so glamorous.  Here are some things to watch out for:

You will get more cavities

I had a dental checkup 3 weeks postpartum.  It was great because I had a whole hour lying down by myself!  I think I actually fell asleep at one point.  To all those people who don't like the dentist, go after you have a newborn and it's like a spa.  Anyway, one thing my dentist told me is the people he sees who get the most cavities are new parents.  Not kids after Halloween.  Not junk food addicts.  New parents.  He's a dentist and he had 2 within the first 6 months of his son being born!  His reasoning: you are eating at weird times (or constantly eating if you're breastfeeding) and not brushing after each time you eat.  Sometimes, you'll fall asleep without brushing your teeth because you're so tired.  And you can throw flossing out the window.  To keep cavities at bay, try flushing your mouth out with water after you eat at the very least, but brush if  you can.

You may go bald

This may be a bit dramatic, but you will lose A LOT of hair postpartum.  Don't be alarmed - it's just hormones, and it's more than likely all things will go back to normal (i.e. pre pregnancy) by the time your baby is 1.  But I remember very vividly washing my hair about 6 weeks after I had Baby C and feeling like my hair was coming out in clumps!  This was even more concerning considering how full, thick and non-shedding my hair was during pregnancy.  It basically boils down to being annoying to me, but if it's an issue for you, trying experimenting with a different cut, or ask a stylist what they recommend.

You will cry at the drop of a hat

My husband STILL makes fun of me for this.  For whatever reason "Dog Days are Over" by Florence + the Machine was mine and Claire's song during my pregnancy.  When I first started hearing it on the radio, I was about 4 months pregnant and Claire was really starting to move around.  I distinctly remember one of the first times she kicked was during this song, and since then, it's held a very special place in my heart.  About 2 weeks after Claire came into the world, the song came on the radio during a car trip and I completely burst into tears.  Why?  I have no idea.  I also broke down at a few doctor's appointments, watching "The Today Show", and maybe at a Subaru commercial (okay, it's the one below).

Powerful stuff, right?  I wasn't much of a crier before.  It's probably the hormones.  But having a child does make you more sensitive, I've found.  You feel things differently, you feel more, you're more affected.  So I'll probably keep crying at commercials because it makes me think about my little girl.  And I'm okay with it.  I cried at this one, too:

DAMNIT!  Now I'm crying again.

You will probably not sleep soundly for a long time

Even if you're blessed with a solid sleeper, you will likely not get the 8-10 hour chunks you were used to getting because you wake up to go to the bathroom (thanks, extra 100 ounces of water I'm drinking) or because you're worried that your baby is sleeping on their stomach/dropped the binky/too cold/too hot or because you're busy figuring out what you'll tackle on your to-do list this weekend.  So, my advice to all of you who don't have kids - SLEEP.  And enjoy it.  And maybe sleep a little more for those of us who can't anymore.

Childbirth doesn't make everything disappear

Sorry - those 35 pounds you gained at pregnancy?  Only about 15 of that will be gone when you leave the hospital.  That weird line down your stomach?  Yeah, it'll stick around for months.  Other things you thought were a quirk during your preggo time may not go away immediately after childbirth.  It can take weeks or months, or even longer in some cases.  Having realistic expectations can go a long way, but talk to your doctor if you're feeling like you need some extra guidance or help.

How did your life change after having a baby?  What's something you wish people told you to expect?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mahvelous Meal Monday!

Happy Monday friend-os!  Sorry I haven't done one of these in awhile - I was on vacation, then it was Labor Day weekend, then I was busy...yada yada yada.  Excuses, I know.

Anyhow, I love Real Simple.  If I could pick one magazine that I wish my life looked like, it would be Real Simple.  Good food, nice clothes, clean houses... sounds just about perfect.  Doesn't just looking at the cover give you a zen-like feeling?

One of my favorite recent recipes comes from Real Simple.  And it's just that - really, really simple and really, REALLY delicious.

Grilled Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas

This recipe was fantastic because most things I already had on hand (except parsley, which I omitted anyway because it's not my fave) and it literally took 10 minutes to prep and 20 to cook on the grill.  I prepped the chickpeas and the chicken while Baby C slept and still had time to do laundry, er, catch up on "Keeping Up with the Kardashians".  For shame, I know.  Another change I made was adding feta cheese to the chickpea salad and putting it on some mixed greens - gotta get the veggies in, right?  Plus, this is a healthy, cheap meal (all in all, it comes to about $3 a serving).

Bon appetit!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My (Fictional) Mom Role Model

Not that I need a pretend person to model myself after.  I have PLENTY of amazing parents in my life that I admire for how they raise their children.  But if I were to pick my favorite made-up mom, it wouldn't be June Cleaver.  Or Carol Brady.  Or Cindy Walsh.  It would be Claire Dunphy from "Modern Family".

If you're not watching "Modern Family", do yourself a favor and get on it.  It is one of the funniest shows in the past decade, maybe longer.  Claire is the Dunphy matriarch - she is a stay-at-home mom of 3 kids and married to Phil, a kooky but totally lovable guy.  What I love about Claire is that she seems like a real mom.  She loves her family, but admits when they drive her completely insane.  She's tightly wound and neurotic, she gets frustrated, and she doesn't always make the right choices.  I love Claire for all that she represents - that perfection is overrated.  Husbands, children and families aren't perfect.  You should stop trying to be perfect, too.  Check out Claire going a little bananas on her husband Phil...would you see Carol Brady make a mess like that in her kitchen?      

My Claire moment recently - yelling at my husband that I wanted to spend some time having fun.  He TOTALLY wanted to go have fun after that conversation.  It's all in the delivery, folks...

Do you have a TV role model?  Who is it and why?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My New Rules to Live By

Rules to live by - they've always existed.  When I was younger, I had to do my homework before I could do anything else, I had to have a glass of milk with dinner, and I had to practice the piano every day for 20 minutes.  When I worked, my rules were always return a voicemail within 24 hours after receiving it, always having an agenda prepared for any meeting, and checking my work email before I went to bed every night.  Now that life has evolved again, so have my rules.  Here's what I try to do every day so I can be a better me, a better friend, a better wife, and a better mom.

Do something good for yourself

I don't think people (and parents in particular) spend enough time on themselves.  It's a busy world - you're working, you're going to and from places, you're not sleeping enough as it is.  But take some time to something good for you.  The nice thing is you define what "good for yourself" is - maybe it's switching out a soda for a glass of water, maybe it's walking to the store instead of driving, or maybe it's eating that piece of dark chocolate and washing it down with a glass of red wine.  Whatever is your "zen now" thing, do it.  And do it every day.  I like to watch "Sex and the City" reruns while Baby C sleeps - but now I'm adding in doing weights and resistance training during commercials.  I get to relax with my guilty pleasure AND I'm doing something for my health.

Do something good for someone else

You probably already do something good for someone else every day.  Do you call a friend just to say hi?  Do you make your significant other dinner?  Try upping the ante a little bit.  It doesn't have to be a big gesture every single day.  Maybe make your spouse's lunch for the next day.  Buy coffee for the person in line behind you.  Drop off some items at Goodwill.
Have a sense of appreciation

No matter how hard things might feel or how bad it seems things are, make sure to feel grateful for something.  My little Baby C was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder at birth and I thought it was the worst thing ever.  After we went to Children's Hospital to consult with her endocrinologist, I looked around at all the other children and families who were thriving with odds stacked against them.  So Claire has to take a pill every what?  She's a growing, healthy, happy baby girl and things could be much, much worse.

Get outside

I know they say milk does a body good, but I think fresh air beats it.  There's something about taking a deep breath or feeling the sunshine on your face.  Plus, Vitamin D is essential for everyone!  Get out there!


Now that Baby C is getting bigger (read: heavier), I am waking up with pains and aches in places I've never hurt before!  Just taking 2-3 minutes to stretch when I wake up and before I go to bed is rejuvenating and also relaxing.  When I have a little more time, I love to squeeze in some yoga in the mornings.  Clear mind and happy body.

What are your rules that you live by?  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bon Appetit!

As mentioned in a previous post, we have made the plunge to solid food!  Okay, that does not sound super exciting for peeps who don't have kids, I know.  But it's a big deal.  In theory, solid food takes longer to digest so babies eating solid food should start sleeping in longer stretches.  Not the case for my dear daughter yet, but I remain hopefully optimistic.  Plus, you get all those cute pictures of sweet potato puree all over eyelashes, hands and dining room walls.  Ay.

Since starting Baby C on solid foods a month or so ago, I have become the Ina Garten of baby food making.    I keep things fresh, organic and simple.  And I add lots of creme fraiche.  Kidding.  But that might not be so bad...

For wee ones just starting out on solid food, there are a few rules you should follow.  Purees are the only way to go.  No additions (like oils), no spices yet, no chunks (for risks of choking).  And you should introduce different food gradually.  Since you have no idea what your baby might be allergic to, allow 3-5 days before introducing a new food.  When there's been no adverse reaction, like rashes or, ehem, diarrhea, you're free to add that fruit or veggie to the list of acceptable foods!  Hooray!

But why am I making my own baby food?  Is that a lot of work?  It's a touch more work than picking up a few jars of food at the store, but here's why I do it:

1) It's cheaper - as you probably know, in my other blogger life, I write about financial literacy and how to save money.  So I'm sure you're not exactly shocked that I make my own food to save a little bit of money.  Let me break it down for you: a jar of quality baby food runs about 50 cents a jar.  That probably sounds pretty cheap, but depending on how much your little cherub eats, you could go through two or three jars a day, meaning about $7-$10 a week, $30-$40 a get the idea.  It adds up.  With about 10-20 minutes a week and about half the price, you can make your own baby food.  Super bonus if you grow your own fruits and veggies!

2) You are in complete control over what your baby eats - when you purchase baby food at the store, you're not exactly sure what's in it (hint: if there's anything you can't pronounce in the ingredient list, don't get it).  While the same could be said about purchasing your produce, making your own baby food is a great excuse to head to your local farmers' market!  Support local farmers, buy high quality produce and maybe even get a few tips from them!

3) It's fun - or at least, it's getting there.  I'll admit, steaming and pureeing fruits and vegetables isn't most people's idea of a good time.  But the older Baby C gets, the more we can start experimenting with different spices, tastes and textures.  I'm looking forward to expanding her palette and watching her enjoy new flavors.  Fingers crossed she won't be a picky eater...

Under my "Feed Me" tab, I've posted some great websites that I use frequently - check them out!

Anyone out there make their own baby food?  Why do you do it?