Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Honey-do #1346

Mr. C is wonderful, amazing and talented, and he would be all of these things even if he hadn't hung up my new cornice board in our breakfast area this past weekend, but completing this lingering Honey-do sure didn't hurt his rep. My dad helped too (see: 'moral support') and in the process of busting out the laser level, we may have broken our cat's brain. No worries, it was only the size of a pea to begin with. Anyway, here is the finished and installed product!!

The fabric is f/ PB, but I got it from a friend at a great discount, and the board itself was made by a wonderful person I found using Etsy's Alchemy feature (because I am many things, but handy is not one of them).

Etsy is like an e-bay for artists and craftsmen. The Alchemy feature is cool because: "buyers can post requests for handmade items, and then sellers bid on the opportunity to make the goods." It's a win-win.

So, Total cost of project?
$50 for fabric, hardware and design
+ $13 postage and shipping
+ $4 drinks from Sonic for the guys while they were installing it

All-in-all, I'm quite pleased. A big shout out to Jessica on Etsy who created the board. She has some very cool stuff and you should check out her Etsy site or her website at www.jesseleecreations.com. And of course, I owe a huge "Thank YOU!" to my Honey-doer for not only installing but funding the project. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Christmas Story

Five celebrations
Four different cities
Three in-car feedings
Two pooped parents
And a perfect first Christmas!

You'll have to forgive this post, it's mainly for posterity (i.e. to have when I print this all out at the end of baby C's first year and keep in lieu of that scrapbook I'll never do).

Our little guy got his first cold and ran his first fever shortly before the holidays, but he was a trooper for all the celebratory activity despite a stuffy/runny nose. We started our busy Christmas off with a perfect little celebration just the three of us (plus the cats) on the morning of Christmas Eve. I had every intention of doing a lot more to help Santa out (since we had arranged for him to come early), but I got sick too and was down for the count on Christmas Eve Eve. Luckily Santa didn't need my help and when we woke up the house was all decorated and a brand new carseat was waiting under the tree.

Our (adorable) stockings were filled with goodies and after breakfast we all opened presents and played. Santa even converted the munchkin's excersaucer into its walk-up counterpart (since he would rather stand to play than be contained/restrained in any way shape or form).

Next, we loaded the Rav 4 to the brim with presents and more baby paraphernalia than you can imagine and headed to my parent's house in LJ. We arrived just in time for a yummy salmon dinner (Mr. C is used to a tradition of sour cream enchiladas on Christmas Eve, but even he admitted the menu wasn't too shabby). As is the tradition at my house, we all got to open one present then it was off to bed. Christmas morning I enjoyed sleeping in while Grammy took over feeding the munchkin his breakfast. The little C got to try some sliced bananas for the first time and had a lot of fun (even got a few in his mouth!) Christmas service at my childhood church was next, and it was very cool to sit in the same sanctuary I had been brought up in, baptized and married in with my own child. After church we headed back to my parent's house for the Christmas feast and then some more present opening. It was a perfect Christmas day.

The next morning (Boxing Day as it is celebrated in the UK!) we stuffed ourselves in the car and headed to Victoria, TX for Christmas with Mr. C's side of the family. More delicious Christmas feasting was enjoyed followed by the opening of just a few gifts :). Then Carter's great grandparents from Austin along with a great uncle and aunt arrived and more feasting and merry making was enjoyed before bed.

The next morning was busy as we proceeded to get all dolled up for a big picture with Mr. C's mom's family. With 20 adults and 6 kids under 7 running around, it was a bit hectic, but we got some really nice shots. After the photo session, we feasted yet again and then exchanged a few more gifts. After that, we gathered 'round the piano and sang traditional Christmas carols, and after that we hung out in the living room and sang some less-traditional Christmas songs like Robert Earl Keen's 'Merry Christmas from the Family' and everyone's favorite 'This is a Christmas Song, Shake Your Booty!' (which my niece danced gleefully along to).

The next morning we all packed up and headed out bright and early to Austin to visit great grandma and grandpa C and enjoy a celebration with Mr. C's dad's family. Feasting and gift exchanges were involved in the celebration, but more than anything, it was a wonderful visit with family and perfect end to our Christmas vacation.

So, Little man, your first Christmas was wonderful - we truly celebrated the birth of our Lord with lots of love, family, laughter, food, fun and gifts. You are so blessed to have had the opportunity to share the celebration with four of your seven living great-grandparents, and those memories are so priceless and will be cherished always.

As you grow, I look forward to being able to teach you the deeper meaning behind all our celebrating. That Christmas is the day our Savior was born. He came into an imperfect world and gave us all hope. He showed us how to live and love, and gave us the opportunity to live forever in a place of peace and happiness. We celebrate His birth because His life gives us life!

Merry Christmas my love. I look forward to many more special memories. Love, Mommy.

Dec 2008

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Solid Experience

So my mommy friends and I joke about the extent of research we all did on breastfeeding, formula, bottles, etc. (baby's source of nutrition for max 18-24 months) compared to the total and complete lack of research we did on feeding our kiddos solid foods.

I think it's because formula and especially breastfeeding are such different means of eating that they are mysterious, difficult and therefore need lots of investigating. Solids on the other hand, are something we eat every day, so how hard complicated can feeding them be?? Ha!

When little C's pediatrician waltzed into his 4 month checkup and cheerfully announced, "all right, it's time for some solid food!" I was like a deer in the headlights . We were just getting the whole liquid diet thing down and now you're telling me there's more?!?!

Being completely oblivious to any research/info/anything on introducing solids other than the perpetual rumor that rice cereal would help our little guy sleep through the night, I followed my pediatricians advice and marched straight to HEB to get little C some baby rice. I was actually very excited because the little guy wasn't sleeping through the night at all and according to everyone I talked to, rice cereal was the answer to our prayers! So I got home, mixed it according to the box instructions, plopped my tiny little four month old in his Bumbo seat (we didn't even have a high chair yet!) and proceeded to hold his head up with my hand so I could feed him a liquidy, soupy mess of 'rice cereal' (for the record, 4 parts breastmilk/formula and 1 part cereal is just NOT cereal...it's milk with dust in it).

It was the dumbest thing I've ever done....he was so.NOT.ready. But the doctor said to keep it up once a day (and I was holding out hope for the ever elusive full night of sleep), so I kept it up, and even added in new cereal every few days like oatmeal and barley per the dr's orders. Every meal felt like a waste of time since he would get maybe a half an ounce of food and the rest would end up in his lap, but I kept it up for three whole weeks before I finally threw my hands up in frustration! He was hating meal time, I was hating meal time, he was breaking out from something (I thought it was all the liquid that would end up on his neck after eating, but it turned out it was a reaction to the barley cereal) and he still wasn't sleeping through the night. This was not the solid experience I had hoped for - either I was doing something wrong or there had to be another alternative!

I decided to do a little research. Got some books, spent some time on the Internet, talked to a lactation consultant and wouldn't cha know it, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends solids be introduced between 4 and 6 months depending on your individual child's readiness. Also, for the record, the AAP recommend starting solids at 6 months for years and years. It's just been a relatively recent change in the books because someone decided they needed to cover their bases for that handful of kids that are actually ready at four months.

I can't speak for everyone, but our little guy wasn't 'ready' until 5 and a half months, and I am of the opinion that too many mom's rush their kids into solids before they are ready for a variety of reasons ranging from 'the dr. said so' (this wuold be us), to excitement to start a new step, to hoping the solid food will help Junior sleep through the night (this was also us, but from my personal experience, solids DO NOT make your child sleep through the night). Anyway, more about readiness later...

The other part about starting solid foods that kills me is the 'cereal' American doctors and Gerber convince you that you have to start with. While rice cereal does have a relatively low probability of allergic reaction, it's nutritionally void and has a tendency to constipate babies (that's why you mix it with something uber nutritious like formula or breastmilk). Second, the other grains on the market (namely barley) contain gluten - a VERY common allergen among babies. As a result, most doctors in the UK and Europe recommend starting with fruits, vegetables and even meats that have a lower likelihood of allergic reaction and are choc-full of nutrients and fiber (to keep things running smoothly :). Plus formula-flavored solids hold no interest to a lot of kiddos once the novelty of eating upright out of a spoon has worn off. New and interesting flavors and textures, on the other hand, will keep most kids immensely more interested in (and therefore more likely to eat) their supper.

So, armed with my new knowledge on baby food, we backed off for about 6 weeks and started again just before Little C turned 6 months old. This time, we started MY way....with home made baked and pureed sweet potatoes. They were a hit!! HE gobbled up 2 whole ounces with nary a spec left in the bowl. Complete 180 from our initial experience with 'solids' (I use the term loosely because like I said before, the food was by all accounts liquid).

And at the ripe old age of 8 months, even waiting until almost 6 months to start our introduction schedule, and going VERY slowly and following the 4-day wait rule, the munchkin has now been introduced to:

Acorn Squash
Butternut Squash
Egg Yolk
Garbanzo Beans
Green Beans
Kidney Beans
Lima Beans
Brown Rice
Summer Squash
Sweet Potato
Wheat Germ
Yogurt (Plain Full-Fat)
And the occasional Cheerio, Puff, or Teething Biscuit

He's quite the eater too. Other than avocado and blueberries, he's pretty much scarfed down anything we shoved in his direction. And so far only one allergic reaction to Barley when he was 4 and half months old - he broke out all over his mouth and neck and anywhere the cereal touched his face. Early food allergies are really common and most babies grow out of them by the time they are a year or two old, and since he initially reacted so young, I thought I'd test the waters again this week, but no such luck. After two bites, he broke out all over his mouth anywhere the cereal touched.

Meal time is about to get even more exciting too, because at eight months, we can try some harder-to-digest foods like beef, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries (among other things). I'm also going to start adding some spices to his foods. I've been sneaking in pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg here and there, but now I can add some stronger flavors like garlic, onion and herbs and even a touch of butter, sugar and oil (in moderation) .

I've made almost all of the little man's baby food and I highly recommend it. The taste difference between the stuff I make Little C and the jarred food is night and day! I don't ever mind eating his left-overs, but that pasty stuff from the jar is DISGUSTING. I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole, and I feel strongly that if I don't want to eat it, why should I make my child?

And yes, I know, the organic factor is out there with jars now, but I buy organic produce when I can. I personally believe variety of nutrients is more important than organic, so he's had some pesticide-laden produce once or twice, but on the whole, most everything I make him is organic. Also, there are a lot of semi-home made options like pureeing canned beans (central market organic beans rule..just rinse and puree!), and using fresh-frozen vegetables (central mkt corn, peas and cut gream beans) or organic all natural jarred apples sauce (again, central market brand rocks) that save you time and money, but still allow you to feed your baby wholesome organic food.

We didn't even purchase any fancy baby-food making product because I wanted to see how committed to the process I would be. We do have a food processor that was a wedding present, and that has been very helpful, but for anyone interested in trying it, a blender or food mill would work just as well (and in a lot of instances a fork and some patience is sufficient for single portions).

Since I am lucky enough to have the food processor, I make 2 month supplies at each go. I started using plain ice cube trays, but I recently purchased 4 sets of these trays from Kid Co. They come in sets of 2, they are BPA free and each tray comes with a lid (so no more saran wrap for me! That's good knews because saran wrap and I have an extremely torrid relationship). They retail for $9.99 at Babies R Us.

The basic drill is clean, cut, cook, puree and freeze. For more specific instructions, checkout wholesomebabyfood.com. This website is F-A-N-tastic and one I refer to almost daily - you can see some great articles on readiness for solids, samples schedules for introducing solids, allergy information, recipes and so much more. There are a ton of books and cookbooks and gadgets out there, but this website is pretty extensive and it's a great place to start if you are interested but not sure what to invest in or how to get going. Besides, it's FREE, and you can't beat free!

So that's been my experience with solids. Like so many other aspects of raising a baby, what's right for us isn't right for everyone, but I would encourage any mom reading this to do some research on what IS right for your child. Doctors are fantastic resources, but don't rely on them to be your only resource....he he he....that reminds me, one of these days I'll have to get back on my soap box for my immunization experience :)....but until then I'll put my box away for tonight and get to bed. Here's a goofy pic of our happy eater for your viewing pleasure. Goodnight!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Minty Fresh

By my own admission, I was a germaphobe. Since the munchkin was born, however, that phobia has rapidly downgraded from a full-blown, panic-attach-inducing fear to just a slightly-more-than-average fear of germs. Why the change of heart? Simply because it's impossible to be a germaphobe and have a kid and remain sane. And since I find myself growing increasingly lax day-by-day, I have hope that one day my stomach will not churn when I re-read posts like this: Never say 'never'. But until that day, I refuse to knowingly put a dirty pacifier or teething ring/chew toy back in little C's mouth after he's chucked it onto the ground in a public place (houses where I know the floors are cleaned regularly don't count any more...yes indeed I have grown tremendously :).

As a result, I'm constantly carrying around baggies of 'spares'. Only trouble with spares is, after a while, my mommy-brain forgets which pacis and chew toys are clean and which ones are dirty. Plus, spare space in the diaper bag seems to be shrinking as more necessary spares like extra clothes and diapers and snacks get bigger.

So for the past eight months I've been on a mission. I've been searching the wipe aisles at every baby store, grocery store and drug store trying to find an antibacterial wipe that could be used on pacis and teething rings. Alas, it's all been to no avail because the soapy, germ-killing solutions are not designed for consumption.

Well, I was searching through the One Step Ahead catalog this morning over a (cold) cup of coffee and noticed this interesting new product - a pacifier rinser!

It retails for $6.95 and is just a glorified spray bottle. The catalog description says you fill it with water and (drum roll.....) a few drops of MOUTHWASH! Genius! I'm totally going to buy a cheap plastic spray bottle from the drug store and fill it with the water/mouthwash solution and keep it in the diaper bag.

So next time you see the munchkin his breath will probably be smelling minty fresh :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

Well little man, this morning Barack Obama became our country's 44th and first african american president!

We don't watch much TV during the day, but I definitely tuned in as he placed his hand on Abraham Lincoln's inaugural Bible, and recited the same oath as his 43 predecessors.

Before he was sworn in, I watched President's Carter, Bush, Clinton and Bush be ushered in. I couldn't help but reflect on how each man has changed the face of our nation. I am eager to see how President Obama's time in the oval office will further transform our country.

It is a historic day in all our lives, and I am hopeful.

Monday, January 19, 2009


What was that?!?!?! A Bird? A Plane?? Nope, just this past month flying by!!! Seriously, where has it gone? I'm still not done with TY notes, Christmas decorations are lingering here and there (though we did get the tree down this past weekend), and I haven't even done my Christmas post for the blog (gasp! ;).

So our little man turned eight months on Sunday and the day totally escaped me until my MIL called to wish him a happy monthly birthday. Oops! :) I didn't even take a picture! It was all good, though. The day, and in fact the entire weekend, was lovely none-the-less.

Mr. C was deer hunting (for the second time this month, but seeing as it's a rare treat these days, I won't keep count) and therefore gone the latter half of this past week, so when my mom stopped by on Friday on her way out-of-town to see the munchkin, the quick stop turned into a five hour visit. I was grateful for her company as I had been alone with the wee one for three days at that point and was craving some grown-up conversation (and a nap!). Mr. C got home Friday night, with a couple coolers full of deer meat (hooray! free meat!) and immediately started processing Bambi's mom into nice freezer-bag sized hunks.

Saturday was spent playing catch-up on errands, chores and sleep, and after a nice Sunday morning service with friends Caroline and Austin, my dad and siblings stopped by for a visit on their way back home from visiting colleges. While baby C and his uncle and Grandad bonded (and helped Mr. C finish taking down the tree), my sister and I slipped out to shop for formal dresses (for her, not me). After the troops left, Mr. C and I even managed to work in the yard for a while before dark by putting the munchkin in his pack-n-play on the porch while we tackled some monster bushes in need of some serious pruning. All-in-all it was one of those rare weekends that perfectly balanced productivity and leisure.

The weekend before was equally lovely. Mr. C went hunting with his dad and little C got to spend the night with his Grammy C while I joined my cousin in celebrating her 30th (yes THIRTIETH!) birthday (man that's old! ;).

I had a really good time catching up with cuz and enjoying a rare night out, and just can't thank my MIL enough for watching the little guy. She gets a gold grammy star too because the little booger was sick AND teething and up more than a few times the night she was on duty.

Other notable notes from this past month would include my friend Sara and her husband welcoming their first (and very precious) baby girl. We're so happy for them! I told Sara that when I got her announcement text I teared up a bit because it seems like just yesterday we were in the hospital doing our own text-announcing, and here that was already 8 months ago! I've said it before, but I'll say it again, time really does fly when you're having fun!

So that's it, except for one more thing. I'm training for a triathlon. The Danskin to be precise. It's an 800m swim, a 20k bike and 5k run, and as brutal as that sounds, I'm comforted by the fact that my friends Betsy and Lindy have participated and they are still alive to tell their tale. Betsy and I are doing it together and I kept hemming and hawing about it, so I'm putting it out there to hold myself accountable to someone other than myself (and Betsy :). Wish me luck. I've always wanted to do something like this my whole life...well, I actually always wanted to do a marathon, but with extremely flat feet, I've had more than one orthopedist tell me I'm not built for running, so a triathlon seemed like a good compromise. Anyway, I felt like it would be the perfect thing to get me back to exercising with some regularity. I swam competitively in my youth (though not well) and biked a lot for fun, so even though I'm aware I'll have to train for all three legs, the running is the only part that intimidates me. Just for grins I ran a 5k loop on at the gym last week to see how in/out-of shape I was. Yea, that was an eye-opener. In an air conditioned room, with no incline I had to push myself to the limit to finish the darn thing in less than 40 minutes, 39:39 to be precise. (Stop laughing Leanne :) I know my 13 minute mile leaves more than a little to be desired, but hey, it's a start! If anyone else is interested in competing, the official dates haven't been posted yet, but it's usually the first weekend in June. According to their website it's structured for both first time and veteran triathletes (not sure what that means, but I definitely fall in the former category). So c'mon! Do IT! It's a great way to get in shape - besides, misery loves company!!