Tuesday, November 25, 2014

About Aboo: Emelina's half birthday update!

I swear I must be off with my counting because there's no way it's been 6 whole months since my Squishy was born. Plus, there has to be way, way, way more than 6 months until your first birthday. Man, time even flies when you're sleep deprived. This is the start of my absolute favorite baby stage (6-18 months). So many changes and milestones and exciting things to learn. Here's what's new with you at 6 months old:

our little turkey

Weight: 16 lbs 6 oz 
Height: 26"
Clothing size:  Still wearing 3-6, but a few 6-9, too. Size 3 diapers.

Milestones:  Sitting up on your own! Also, you started saying "Mamama" and "Dadada" but not on demand usually.

Teeth:  none. Even though you are trying so hard and we can see them getting closer and closer, none have cut through. I guess you're going to be like your sister and take forever to get them. Grandma Cindy started bribing you with a cheeseburger for when you finally get teeth (I thought her rule used to be 4 teeth = cheeseburger, but I think she had to adjust it for my late-to-teeth ladies.)

chewing on everything!

Breastfeeding:  Well, we officially made it 6 months of breastfeeding! The last couple weeks, I've decided to start weaning from the pump since I don't have any students for the next two months (PS - it's really, really hard to pump while running a retail pharmacy and patients aren't always very kind). I've started by cutting out your evening feeding, and realized that it's been awhile since I've given you a bottle and it really confused you. I've also realized how much harder it is to skip that feeding when I'm with you vs. when I'm at work. But only pumping twice in 13 hours is much better than three times (and way better than four times a day that I started with when I first went back). I'm hoping to get it down to just once a day in another week, which I think will be more manageable. I hate that we have to cut down because of me, not you, but we have a good freezer stash and you don't seem to mind too much as long as you get to breastfeed in the evening.

Foods: So far, you are loving it all! Using the "4 day wait rule", we've officially introduced you to bananas, rice cereal, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, avocado, and butternut squash.  You eat 2 cubes (2 oz.) once daily with lunch, although you'd probably eat more if we allowed it. You have a bit of a sensitive stomach, so we are taking the transition to solid foods slowly.

Schedule:  For the most part, you have a pretty set schedule now as far as eating and napping. When I'm at work, you typically eat 3-4 oz. bottles every 3 hours. We pretty much stick to the same schedule whether I'm home or you're with Daddy or Diana.
- 6 am - wake when I get up for work, breastfeed, then lay back down in your rock 'n play (yep, you still hate the crib)
- 9 am - *bottle (just started cutting out this breastfeeding session), awake and play until about 10:30-11, then nap in rock 'n play.
- 12 pm - 2 cubes food, then breastfeed; nap around 2 when Anna goes down.
- 3 pm - breastfeed; usually stay awake until next bottle, but occasional catnap in there.
- 6 pm - bottle
- 8 pm - breastfeed (usually for comfort, I think), little catnap
- 9:30-10 pm - breastfeed and bed in the rock 'n play (we keep you up late so I can see you/feed you after work)
**I'd love to say you sleep all night until I feed you at 6 am, but still not the case. I usually end up feeding you at least once or twice through the night, too.

***Update:  between the time I wrote this and now, you've actually started sleeping in your crib for naps and little spurts throughout the night! Usually take about an hour to hour and a half naps, and we can even lay you down awake. You usually roll to your side or stomach, but you're plenty strong to get back now if you need to. Hopefully the first step in getting you to sleep through the night.

Favorites:  You love to play with your sister. She can make you laugh just by looking at you. You like to dance in the kitchen with us when we put on kid songs. You really like her little light up piano toy that plays music, and you've definitely taken a notice of books lately (only to be eaten, though). Still a huge Mama's baby, but Daddy is a close second. I love to see how happy you get when he comes home from work in the afternoon. Bath time is a lot of fun now that you sit up and have learned to splash, grab the washcloth, and noticed the bubbles.

even Peanut knows you have to butter up the turkey before you cook it...

oh no! She's going to make "Emma soup!"

Don't worry, little Emma, I didn't actually let her make you into soup.  She thought it was a pretty funny game for awhile though. And you just go along for whatever crazy ride she takes you on lately. Even at 6 months old, you absolutely adore your big sister. To be honest, I'm pretty sure it's mutual. We are all pretty much enamored with you these days. Between your big gummy smile and your infectious little laugh, it's hard not to be. Love you like crazy little baby.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mama's Favorite Baby Items 0-6 Months

I've been meaning to write a post about my favorite baby items for a while now, but I keep forgetting.  It's like I'm sleep-deprived or something... Several of my close friends and family members have asked for advice when starting their baby registries lately, so I figured I'd share with all of you what I've shared with them. Honestly, there's not right or wrong answer when it comes to baby gear. A lot of it depends on your baby, personal taste/preferences, storage space, and budget. And just when you think you've thought of everything and have it all purchased and arranged (and rearranged) in the exact right place, baby comes! Then you spend the next several weeks and months rearranging/exchanging/adjusting to do what feels right. That's ok, it's called motherhood! But, while it's fresh on my mind, after doing it for the second time, here's a list of my favorite baby registry items and must-haves (according to us!). Mind you some of these have changed and been added this go-around. Every baby is so different!
Has it really been 6 months?!

Has it really been almost 3 YEARS?!

1. Diapers: I like Huggies for newborn because of the umbilical cut out.  After that Pampers (less bulky and seem to fit better) except for the nighttime diapers, we use Huggies.

2.  Serta perfect dream crib mattress - good SIDS rating, reasonably priced. (Not sure if this exact one is made still, but this seems to be the newer version of it.) Be sure to have a couple extra crib sheets and mattress covers.  While you're at it, get a waterproof cover for your own bed. Even though baby shouldn't be sleeping in it for awhile, between the chance of your water breaking, breast milk leaking, and future kiddo accidents, it's worth it to protect your mattress.

3. Chicco keyfit 30 infant car seat - highest safety rating out there, lightweight, and also great price!  We got this travel system and I liked it so much, we got the double stroller version now.  Invest in or register an extra car seat base.  It's worth it to have one in each car!  I know so many people who have used this car seat and never heard a complaint.  A friend if mine even used it along with a BOB jogging stroller and an infant seat adapter instead of buying the travel system.
little Squishy ready to come home!

our Chicco double stroller (in Butler colors, of course)

Friday, November 14, 2014

First Words!!

This week little Emma surprised us with her first words!  Apparently she will be the peacekeeper in our family, because believe it or not, she said "mamama" and "dada" for the first time in the same night.  Within hours of each other actually. It was adorable.  She's said "mamama" several times since, usually when she's pleading with me to pick her up or "rescue" her from a nap.  I swear she knows what she's saying, too, because both times she's said "dada," she's been trying to get Mike's attention.  The second time was super sweet. I had just finished feeding her for the night and unlike our usual routine of sleepy milk-drunk baby, she was wide awake and flirting with Daddy. I'm pretty sure she just wanted to stay up and watch football with him (which she absolutely loves). He looked at her and said, "What? Do you want Dadada?" and immediately after she recited "Dadada" perfectly back to him.  Of course, this was his cue to give in, grab her, and snuggle. Smart baby. Smart manipulative baby. Where have I seen that before....<clears throat> Peanut.

For the record, there's also been talk of "babababa," but I think that's just babbling between the pterodactyl calls. Have a mentioned how much I love this baby stage? Truly one of my favorites!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Making Our Own Baby Food, Part Two!

As crazy as it seems, the time has come for our little Squishy to start trying some solid foods. Although the general recommendation is for baby to have breastmilk/formula exclusively for the first 6 months, it is considered "acceptible" to start purees between 4 and 6 months, as long as it doesn't take away from baby's liquid diet. Just like anything else, it's a personal decision that you should base solely on the individual child and when you feel they are ready.  For my girls, this time has come around 4-5 months. This time I'm writing all this down so I don't have to look it all up again the next time. (Here's my first post on homemade baby food from when Annalyn first started solid foods.)

Emma's first sweet potatoes...
Anna's first sweet potatoes

The way I see it, we are simply introducing foods, to get them used to it before it becomes a significant part of their diet.  In the beginning, I usually offer them about a tablespoon or so once a day.  After 4-5 days, we try a different food.  After we've introduced several foods (always waiting 4 days between new ones in order to rule out any food allergies), I start making combination dishes.  And then the real fun begins!

Unlike the typical rice cereal that our generation was always given at first, I like to start with something more fun.  Something with, well, FLAVOR! While it's absolutely fine to start with a rice or oatmeal cereal, I like to start with things like bananas, avocadoes, and sweet potatoes, then add in the single grain cereals (I actually don't make my own baby cereal - I like this brand). Maybe I'm just strange like that, but I want my girls' first food experience to have more flavor and texture than bland cereal. Perhaps that's also why my 2.5 year old loves curry, requests tiramisu by name, asks for hot sauce on her tacos, and will tell you her favorite type of olive is a kalamata. We are flavor junkies in our family and I suspect nothing less from our kiddos.

I especially like to start with bananas and avocadoes because they don't have to be cooked.  Simply mash with a fork, add a little water/breastmilk/formula to thin, and you're done! It doesn't get much easier than that, my friends. Unless I have a use for avocado that day, I usually slice it up and freeze it right away.  This seems to be the best way I've found to keep it from browning. Check out my method for freezing avocado and the handy dandy little tool I love. As for bananas, it's usually best to keep in the peel and cover the end with plastic wrap. Or just share with big sis!

Now on to the cooking part! As I've said before, you can do without a lot of baby gear/gadgets, but they sure make life easier! With Annalyn, I bought this baby food maker that steams and purees with the touch of a button. You just check it for desired consistency, add liquid if needed, and pour into ice cube trays to freeze. The next day, toss the cubes into a labeled and dated bag for easy freezer storage. Easy peasy! (Well, I'm officially using mom language. Can you tell I spend most of my time talking to a preschooler and a baby?) 

Sadly, I didn't get it dry enough after the last time I used it, because when I dug it out it had a mix of hard water buildup and what looked like mold (?) on in the inside of the water compartment.  <sigh>  Now, I'm trying to decide if I want to buy another and if so, the same model.  I whipped up a batch of sweet potato puree using the microwave and Magic Bullet, and while not hard, it just wasn't as simple as the one touch steam/blend.  This week, I made apples, pears, and butternut squash in the oven and again, used the Bullet to blend them, but I'm still torn.  Any suggestions? Any gadgets/baby food makers I simply can't live without? Here are a few of my other favorite gadgets for making baby food (and food in general):
1. Avocado slicer - saved me from cutting myself for the umpteenth time trying to get the pit out of the avocado.  Plus it makes the most beautiful, evenly spaces slices.  I just love it.
2. Melon baller - works great for balling melons, but also for coring fruit like apples and pears.
3. Small cutting boards - So great for small jobs when you don't want to get out and wash the big cutting board.  I have probably 3-4 of these so that one's always ready to go.
4. Ice cube trays with lids - these are an absolutely must for me. I have 4 that I rotate between. Once frozen, I pop the cubes out into labeled freezer bags.

5. Reusable pouches/smoothie cups - I promise I'll do a summary post about our experience with all the different types of reusable pouches as Emma gets to that stage. We've tried several, but I'm sure there are even some newer ones out there. (Anna's favorite was the Sucup. She still uses it for smoothies!)

Here's my general plan for introducing first foods to a 4-6 month old baby (waiting 4 days after each new addition before adding another food.  This helps rule out food allergies if baby were to have a reaction to something):

foods:  bananas, avocadoes, baby rice/oatmeal cereal, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, pears.  Start by offering single foods until each has been introduced, then you can start giving combinations using foods she's already eaten.

timing:  start with giving a small amount at lunchtime (Emma usually naps from 10:30ish-12).  She really likes to eat when we eat and it's helped her figure out what to do with this crazy spoon thing we keep putting in her mouth.  As she's gotten the hang of it, we sometimes also give her a small amount while the rest of the family's eating dinner (we always push her highchair up to the table and give her teething toys so she's at least included).

how much:  In the beginning, offer about a tablespoon.  Gradually increase to a whole cube (1 oz, about 2 T.).  As baby gets bigger/older and starts eating more, can mix 2-3 cubes for each meal.

I don't know why, but this is one of my absolute favorite baby stages.  Maybe because I love food and I love sharing that with my girls. It's so much fun to see her face each time she tries something new, and watch as she acquires a taste for it over the next couple days. I'll be sure to update our progress, but for now, we are still introducing first foods in addition to breastfeeding. And it seems to be working for her - just look at those rolls!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Funfetti Mug Cupcakes

Here's a super quick 'n easy recipe that Annalyn and I whipped up the other day. The small-scale recipe was easy for her to help with and it only makes two mugs, so no leftovers lying around. Just enough for an afternoon picnic with my girls. Here's how Mama (and my little helpers) makes it:

Funfetti Mug Cupcakes


- 2 T. Butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 2 T. Milk
- 1 t. Vanilla extract
- 1/4 c. Sugar
- 6 T. Flour
- 1/4 t. Baking powder
- pinch salt
- 2 T. Sprinkles

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Guest Post: Remy's 4-ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Hey guys, Remy here! Aunt Ashley let me take over her blog for a post so I could show you what's going on in my momma's and my kitchen. With this awesome fall weather we've been enjoying, we couldn't help but join in pumpkin spice season. The best part of these muffins you ask? Well, only 4 ingredients, super quick, and toddler friendly (as in, no raw eggs, so we can taste it at every step!!). Here's how Momma and I make it:

Remy's 4-ingredient Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1 box spice cake
1 can pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla 
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with liners or cooking spray.
This is a great step for toddler-helpers!

2. Add ingredients to a medium bowl in order, hand stirring each time until well blended. 

3. Add to cupcake lined muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes at 350. AND they're only 4 ww points per muffin! 
No raw eggs = guilt-free toddler taste testing!!