Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homemade Baby Food, Who does that anymore?

While you may think Homemade baby food is a thing of the past, you would be shocked by how many moms go that extra mile to make it healthier for their babies.
When I was pregnant with the twins, I decided to rethink everything I had done with their older brother, lil J. Things like shots and baby food were at the top of my list. For Jason, the WIC program here in Ohio had just started offering baby food on the checks,,, of course they had their limits and rules. Nothing with extra additives in it, no tuti fruity etc. I was fine with that, but it was such a hassle to bring up a cart full of baby food, make sure you had all the checks in order with what baby food went with what, and then when the cashier got picky on what you got,,, oh wow. It was an ordeal, but I was willing to push through for free food. Now, they started giving you fruit and veggies on your checks, so I thought, hey! I'll just use these to buy the needed items and then make my own baby food.
 Have you read a baby food jar label recently? Honestly, we wonder why babies have so many allergies when they first start eating, check out the baby food ingredients and tell me why some of that stuff is in there?
Ok, sorry, off the subject :) I found an awesome ice cube- like tray that freezes your baby food in 1oz cubes which can in turn be stored in extra breast milk storage bags, to make it easier to take places.(I use an insulated bottle bag with two ice packs, put in my storage bag of food and I'm good to go) Now you may not be wanting THAT much baby food, but let me tell you, hungry twins who love to eat, is a whole other matter! One batch (filling up both trays) lasts for maybe a week, if that.
A common question is: What foods should I start with? What if my baby doesnt like it?
The answer I'v always heard is start with the veggies first then do fruit. If you start with fruit, you baby will be introduced to all the sweet stuff first and be turned off by the veggies, but if you do veggies first, he'll be thrilled with both. If your baby doesnt seem to like a food, just remember, it takes about 3 time of having something before they get used to it.
Here are some of the veggies and fruits I'v already introduced to my boys( they were 4 months when I started)(Remember to try ONE thing at a time for at least 3 days to make sure there are no allergies)
First I started off with Barley cereal, then added different fruits and veggies TO it, and then in another bowl.
green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, prunes, blueberries, avocado, bananas, peas, carrots, peaches, sweet potatoes, oatmeal cereal.
 All you have to do is either buy fresh or frozen,,, put them in a pan with about a cup of water, simmer until soft. Puree in either a food processor or blender til the consistency is to your liking (adding water to thin it out a bit) Baby food will last for 3 days in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer! AND it is definitely cost efficient and fun to make, I love it. One of the best things is you can try just about anything in your produce section as opposed  to having a limited selection of already made stuff :)
Ok, and I just have to say, there is a great family on youtube.com Here who have made some great video tutorials if you are not sure how to get started.
What kinds of food did you try for your baby's first food? I'd love to hear your comments!
Caleb enjoying his first taste of avocados! 

Books that inspire

When I was a teenager,growing up in Florida, the cool thing to do was read. Yes, thats right, a real book with pages and a wholesome story. All my friends did it, and I loved a good book, especially if I could play hooky from school (homeschool that is), go hide in the bathroom, and be under the radar for an hour or so before someone decided I had gone MIA. My Mom and Dad were both teachers and taught my sister and I to love books. Every morning my Mom would read us a chapter from the Bible and then a couple chapters from an adventure book series like the Mandie Collection books, The Cooper Kids Adventure Series and sometimes Missionary Biographies. I think she started doing that when I was 3 or 4 and continued til my sister and I were 16 and 17 years old. I attribute this daily reading as the start to my love of books. In addition to reading to us every morning, my Mom was also a collector of books. She had so many books my dad had to build more book shelves! The last ones I remember him building were floor to ceiling all around our fireplace. ( Yes, even in Florida it got cold enough for a fireplace.. I know, I know, it was probably only 60s, but it felt cold to me!) 
My family's love of books continue to this day. My mom belonged to a Christian book club for a very long time and used to send them on to my sister and I. We finally had to start putting our initials in the covers so we would know which one we'd all read so it didnt get passed back by accident. Mom has long since canceled her membership to that club, but she still likes to buy Christian romance at Walmart, and passes them on to my sister, who in turn passes them on to me. Yes, just about every visit brings about 2 HUGE bags of books, which go down in my basement after they are read. You would not believe how fast those kind of books go at a garage sale! I once sold a huge box of Christian romance books for $5. The poor husband looked sick as he lugged the box to his car. Poor guy :) 
Here are some of my favorite books and Authors:
Anne of Green Gables
Grace Livingston Hill (My mom had just about EVERY book the woman ever wrote)
Ted Dekker - Red, White, Black and Green
Jannette Oak
The Sadie Rose Series 
The Cooper Kids Adventures
The Bobbsey Twins
The Hardy Boys
Sherlock Holmes
Gilbert Morris - The House of Winslow Books
Elizabeth Elliott 
The Biography of Missionaries John and Betty Stam
Biography of Gladys Ailward, Missionary to China
I cant remember the name, but it was a book put out by Bob Jones Press about a Polish boy who escaped the Nazi's during WWII and lived in the woods with the resistance,,, it was a big favorite of mine.
The Secret Holocaust Diaries - by Nonnie Bannister (VERY good book!)
The Diary of Anne Frank
I remember quite clearly a book I used to check out ALL the time at the Library when I was 7 or so, it was about a swimming pool :) 
Amelia Bedelia 
The Babysitters Club (the old ones) 
The Christy Series (not the one about the school teacher,, the one about the teenager seeking Christ)
The Christy Book - about the school teacher in the Appalachian Mountains 
Corrie Belle Hollister Series
and I could go on and on!
So if you have little ones and haven't started reading to them, make sure you start soon and do it often. A love of reading and books is a wonderful tool to help them better understand the Bible!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Keeping Warm on a Cold day

Now that Winter is here, there are a lot of reasons to stay inside, such as keeping warm! I LOVE winter time, but the snow and sunny freezing days look so much more inviting on tv or from the living room window. I guess that comes from growing up in a Florida climate when one never got to experience winter except from the Christmas specials on tv. How was I supposed to know that all those glorious mounds of sparkling white dust would be cold and wet? Oh well, we haven't had to worry much about that this year. One or two days of snow so far and then "poof" its melted.
I did, however, find a new hot drink that I LOVE! A proper English tea. 
What you will need:
Tea cup or Coffee mug
1 tea bag (preferably without the string)
a spoon
First you need to heat up your water in your tea kettle (microwaves are no match for a tea kettle, people!)
While your water heats up, take your cup of choice and put in your sugar(I use 2 1/2 teaspoons)
Place your spoon in the cup and take out your tea bag
Be sure to gently pull your tea bag apart to form a sort of pyramid shape(dont tear it or pull hard, just enough to get the shape)
Place your tea bag in the cup on your spoon
Pour the milk in on the side away from the tea bag,,, enough so that it barely touches the tea bag (if you prefer more, thats fine) 
When your kettle is ready, pour the water in on the tea bag side, holding your spoon in place
Gently move the tea bag up and down with your spoon against the side of the cup for a minute or so
Either use your fingers (be careful, its hot!) or another spoon, and squeeze the excess water from the tea bag and discard
Stir your tea and gently tap the excess off ... its the English way! :D
Enjoy with a ginger snap! :D
(as a side note, if you are not sure what tea to try this with, I use fruit teas and also chai tea and it is just delicious!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tomorrow marks the first day of Fall, are you ready?

This year has been completely crazy. Is it just me or did spring and summer fly by too fast? One of my friends just informed me tomorrow marks the first day of Fall, one of my favorite times of the year. Why, you ask, would a time when dreary rainy days, cold temperatures and enormous amounts of leaves finding their way into the yard, be a wonderful time? Having spent my first 18 years on an island off the coast of Florida, where there is absolutely NO changing of seasons at all, (I guess you could count when it gets a bit cold and everything turns brown, and then green in spring, brown and burned in summer and then more brown for winter, a seasonal change..) when I finally lived in places like Tennessee and Ohio, where brilliant oranges, reds and yellows seem to explode across the trees, I was instantly in awe of the awesome splendor of God's creation.
 New and wonderful smells seem to charm the very essence of your being when Fall comes. Out come the Pumpkin Latte's, spiced apple cider and corn mazes. The smell of burning leaves wafts pleasantly on the cool, crisp morning air, with the promise of roasted marshmellows and hot chocolate to warm the chilly evenings. Close your eyes and you can almost hear the sweet whisper of the wind as it swirls the leaves in an endless waltz of glorious colors.
 My favorite Fall sound is the laughter of children and adults alike, when all the leaves have been raked into huge piles and the first adventurer takes a running start to begin the fun of leaf pile smashing! So much fun to be had and such little time to do it in before the snows come.

So this Fall, make sure to take full advantage of ALL the wonderful local activities around you such as corn mazes, taffy pulls, late season farmer's markets and harvest parties. The memories will keep you warm on winter's coldest days.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Two for the price of one...

  The other day I was trying to remember what it felt like to just have one little baby at home. Just hubby, lil J and me. Seems like I was more stressed out and irritable back then, feeling sorry for myself when I had just one to feed, diaper, entertain and get ready. This past June all of that changed... times two! 
  Now it seems so much easier with two little babies and an almost three year old, than just one. I know that sounds completely crazy. Although I am doing formula with the twins instead of breastfeeding like I did with J, everything seems to be running smoother and less chaotic now that we have been down the baby road once before. If you have multiples and older or younger siblings as well, you'll understand completely :) How do I do it? Quite honestly, I dont know,,, but here is our typical routine to get ready for Sunday.
On Saturday nights:
1. J gets his Saturday bath before his 9pm bedtime (unless we do something that keeps us out late,,, then he gets it early Sunday morning)
2. Around 11pm I get out the baby's tub and set up camp on our kitchen table... I set out the sleepers, towels, washcloths, diapers, baby wash and lotion within reach and then dive in bathing one while the other is in the swing. It usually takes me 20-30 min tops depending on how squirmy and happy or upset they are.
3. I try and figure out what all the boys will wear to church in the morning and make sure its clean and laid out with socks, shoes and ties all present and accounted for. (nothing in the WORLD drives me off the deep end on a Sunday morning than having to change pants or shoes for J if they are too short, too long, too big or too small!)
4. My biggest thing is trying to keep track of when the twins need their bottles. Since they are gaining weight and doing really well growth - wise, I have just been doing demand feeding with them (although I never let them go over three hours) That being said, I try and time their feeding time to be right after bath time, that way   they are usually done eating before 12 and ready to sleep. Since they have been sleeping four to five hours a night for the past week, I'll only have to feed them once during the morning usually at 4:30am or 5am. 
Sunday Morning:
  J usually wakes us up around 7am which gives me plenty of time to get a shower and feed J and the twins before waking up hubby. By then I usually have J dressed and ready for Church and then hubby dresses the babies while I get myself ready. Its so wonderful to be married to a man who jumps right in and helps whenever he sees me struggle and because of that we are usually early to Church and have time to calm down from the morning rush before Sunday School.
   The Sundays hubby has to work are definitely a struggle for me. Seemingly everything goes wrong on those days! J gets an attitude and wont obey, the twins seem ultra fussy, I'll forget to get MY Sunday clothes together and stress out.

    But somehow, with the Lord's help, we make it work. Putting together our own flexible routine has saved us a lot of problems and frustration. It also helps that occasionally on Saturdays my wonderful friends will drop over and help with the twins bath time and that is ALWAYS a great help and blessing to us!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You gotta love nap time!

Proud of the teamwork it took to build their beautiful castle...

knocking down the castle...

For a couple years I'v been talking about starting a home daycare, even before lil J was born. While we were in Missouri on the Air Force base, I contemplated it, got all the information and tried to imagine what could possibly go wrong in such an endeavor. It seemed like I never quite got around to getting my house "up to code" with all the requirements for a daycare on base. Plus they are allowed to come in your home, check your fridge and even go into your closets and personal space (while your husband was sleeping from being on night shift no less!) to make sure your house is "safe". When I heard that little tidbit of information, I decided, until we could move off base, I was not going to start one there. Soon after that decision I became pregnant with lil J and we found out that my husband was going to get out of the military all together, pretty much after our son was born, and so we moved to Ohio, close to Josh's parents.
My Mother - in - law is a very special person. She can multitask a circle around anyone I know and do it with style. Almost 30 years ago, I think just after my hubby was born, she started a home daycare and has been going strong all these years. These last few years have been kind of rough though and shes been winding down and dreaming of retiring to do what she loves the most... decorating cakes! So when Josh and I decided to move to Ohio and I saw how fun having a daycare was, I decided to take over for her. Yesterday was my first day and it went extremely well!! She only had three little 4 year olds and they all wanted to come to my house and play with lil J. He LOVES having bigger kids to play with.
Yesterday lil Em was first to arrive. She is a little diva with long blond hair and loves to sing in front of the tv. Her first order of business was to get the foam blocks out and start building a castle. Next came Ev, he has a big personality and loves to jump like a frog and make the other kids laugh. Lately he's been having issues and crying all day, but Praise the Lord the last couple of days he has done tremendously well! The third little boy, Pres was late in coming since his mom called off work because of some seriously messed up sinuses. He is usually here til 8:30 two nights a week and 5:30 or 6:30 all the other days. His mom works pretty far out of town and has to commute. She is a sweet lady and loves her lil guy a lot. I am so pleased to see her making a huge effort to start picking him up earlier and spend more time with him :) All in all it was an awesome day and the kids did really well.
Today was more of a challenge, since I had Ev's older sister Halee for half a day as well. What a great help she was organizing games and keeping lil J content and happy. When we did the craft she helped some of the other kids cut out pictures with the scissors. She did get a little bored toward the end, but there was no whining or anything from her side of the room :) Halee does tend to get her brother and the others wound up a bit, but she also calmed them down too... big plus!
I am so pleased with how smoothly everything is running right now. Yes, I know, its only been two days, but it will get soooooooo much better once the sun comes out and they can play and do crafts outside! Can't wait for summer to actually come :-) Bring on the flip flops!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

After Church this morning, my husband and I were discussing the Church nursery. It seems like EVERY church nursery is different and uses totally different methods in doing things. We both agreed, there are the totally out of date ones, and the ones up to date. I will attempt to give you the whole conversation, as it was quite interesting :)
Firstly, we were discussing the up to date nurseries. These are the ones where the director knows the lastest data concerning germs (there is so much hand sanitizer, clorox wipes and Lysol Disinfectant you'd think it was a hospital). With all the different kinds of sickness going around today, such as RSV, the swine flu and millions of other childhood illnesses , it pays to try and keep a sanitary nursery. The door is locked and the babies are passed over, or little people let in. No one but the nursery workers are permitted inside the nursery (unless there is a nursing mother or two) to keep the chaos to a minimum and the children safe at all times. At the end of service the babies and children are passed back over with coats and shoes in place and their proper belongings, including cups, with the right child to the RIGHT parents. There is a "chore list" the workers must complete after each service... empty trash, sanitize baby changing table, door knobs, toys, vacuum ... etc. Under NO circumstances are strangers or siblings under the age of 13 to be let into the nursery to pick up children.(For this sort of thing, there is a list of people who can pick up a child.. if you aren't on the list, you aren't picking up a child :) The nursery is then locked until the next service. You make think this a silly thing, but they always open a fresh, clean nursery,,, tidy and inviting.
Now on to the not so up to date nurseries. I'v been in many, many nurseries traveling with my sister and brother in law as they made their summer rounds. I was in charge of their 2 boys at the time.... one was not yet 2, so more often than not, I was sitting in the nursery with him all by myself and observed first hand how the nurseries ran. Now in most of the instances, they were country churches which had nurseries, but these were only used if the little one got fussy in church. The mothers would then take them out... calm them down in the nursery, then take them back in the service. This being said, those nurseries were not used very much. The toys were yellowed with age and use, mostly broken or needing batteries. The decor was outdated and faded, the changing area smelling faintly of ammonia. If you found any snacks at all, it was probably a good idea not to feed them to anybody. Not having any kids of my own,,, I really didn't care how the nursery looked,,, just so long as I had a place for my nephew to play. Now, when I think of some of those nurseries, I cringe thinking how dirty some of those toys must have been and wondering when the last time they vacuumed was. Now I'm not saying these churches didnt care about the nursery,,, that just wasn't an important area to them. Either they were a dying church full of older folks, or like some of the country churches, baby friendly in the service.
In conclusion I think my favorite nursery was the one at our church in Missouri. It was wide open, clean, homey, inviting ,,, the children LOVED to be there and so did the workers. They cheerfully cleaned and sanitized after each service, so the burden never fell on just one person. The kids observed first hand how to tidy up and always wanted to help when clean up time came around. The toys were clean, up to date and in working order, as were the linens for the baby beds. It was a joy to work in a nursery in a growing church :)