Thrifty Mombie: DIY Baby Food

I don’t know about any of you but I taste absolutely everything before I give it to my kids, and I mean everything – formula, baby food, teething gel & cough syrup.  You name it, I’ve probably tasted it, and if it tastes gross then I do not give it to my kids.  My hubby thinks it is disgusting and cringes at the thought (not so adventurous with the flavours).  When my sisters and I were kids, one of them decided that my mom’s go-to syrup for coughs or flu or whatever would be for ever more known as “Hippo Spit” – and no, we have no idea why it would be Hippo spit over any other animal’s spit, but that was that.  We have spoken about it a few times over the years, and none of us can even remember what the syrup was actually called but we think it was purple.

Anyway, let’s get back to the actual point of this post – Baby Food.  I find the store bought ones quite salty and most of them are very artificial tasting.  So, when Paige was born I decided that I would make her baby food for at least the first year of her new life.  It went quite well but since then I have seen a few fantastic (and easy) ideas for making and storing DIY baby food, and I would like to share them with you.   I have even included a few quantity breakdowns to help with how much raw produce you will need to make a certain amount of puree.

DIY Baby Food - Fruit & Veg

Supplies:

  • chopping board and sharp knife
  • steamer – I have a BPA free microwave steamer but also use the double boiler pot system (whatever works for you)
  • blender – I have a stick blender which is easy to use and clean
  • ice trays – each ice block is equal to about 1 Tablespoon
  • zip lock bags – or any other storage containers that work for you
  • fruit and veg produce and water
    • Note: I started with butternut, pumpkin, apple and peas for my kids and then slowly added variety. There are some great charts that help guide you with what foods to start and when – I used one from Design-Kat for both of my kids and found it very useful.  I stuck it on the inside of my pantry cupboard door and made notes when I tried a new item.  You can download it yourself – Design-Kat: Weaning Chart

How to:

  • peel, core (if neccessary) and chop your produce
  • add water to base of steamer container and place chopped produce in top, then cover with lid.
  • microwave on normal temp for anything from 10 – 20 minutes depending on the produce and the amount. you will need to guess-timate the first few times and maybe check after 10 minutes then put in for longer if required.
  • Remove when super-soft in texture and let cool – remember to keep the water used for steaming
  • Place steamed cooled produce in blender cup and blend, adding some of the steaming water a little at a time to get desired texture (ie: super smooth for first foods and slowly leaving more and more texture as baby gets bigger)
  • scoop blended produce into ice trays and cover with tinfoil then place in freezer over night
  • pop out solid blocks then pop into a zip lock bag with contents and date written on bag
  • store in freezer

It is pretty quick and easy and I can usually chop, cook and blend a batch of fruit & veg in about an hour or two – enough to last 1-2 weeks.

I’ll do a few separate posts with more variety as I go, but for now, here are some quantity guidelines that I have noted when making the basics:

 

1. APPLE 4. PUMPKIN

3. PEAS

Just one last note.  I do not add anything to the produce (ie: salt, pepper etc).  If steamed in a small quantity of water, with water used during blending then the purees retain a huge amount of their flavour and actually taste pretty great.

If you have any questions then feel free to leave a comment, and stay tuned for the next installment when I share more guidelines for other foods.

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The Appropriated Handbag

Handbag hoopla

Day 1 of the new battle against the appropriation of my handbag.
I have done an initial investigation into who the actual perpetrators are and found that further monitoring of the first born will be required.  Second born is not yet mobile on his own, so I have made a mental note to review the situation when he too starts walking – we may need to upgrade to carry on luggage when that happens.

I found the above pic and could absolutely relate to it.  I have recently noticed that majority of my handbag contents actually belong to my kids, or they are there for my kids in case of an “emergency”.

The most common “emergency” situations would be when Paige has a snack and her hands end up feeling like she’s been playing with crazy glue (note: see wet wipes), or when James wakes up from a deep trolley slumber with a sudden case of starvation as I am about to pay at the store checkout counter, because apparently he never gets fed – little fatty (note: see frog toy).

Before James was born, I had miraculously been able to upgrade myself from nappy bag to handbag because you don’t need to lug around so much stuff with a 1.5 – 2 yr old (ie: formula, bottles, splash nappies etc etc).  All I needed when Paige & I went out for a few hours was a single nappy, some wet wipes, her water bottle and dummy.

Alas, that drastically changed when James arrived.  I went back to the nappy bag permanently, but 6 months in I am slowly transitioning back to my handbag for short outings (now that he doesn’t eat and poop as often – James, not the handbag – duh).  

BUT I find my handbag has been usurped by my children and I’m the dodo that still has to carry the darn thing around.

It contains a few permanent kiddy-things that I have put in there for good reason (wipes, crayons, frog, snacks) and then an abundance of items that Paige has added just in case she needs something while we are out (which has never happened FYI because she usually forgets that it is in there).  I emptied a whole lot of items out this weekend (toys, hairbands, kid jewellery etc) but since yesterday, the following items have found their way back in.

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Note though, that after I took this pic, I was looking for my lip ice and also found a small box of smarties, a pink beaded bracelet, some mis matched hair clips, 2 puzzle pieces and 5 stikeez.

Top tip for moms with toddlers – carry crayons at all times.  I have a small soap box that the crayons fit into perfectly.  It has saved me from Captain Cranky-Pants (my alter ego name for cranky Paige) a few times when Paige has gotten bored somewhere and you foresee a melt down of biblical proportions coming on.  You can always find paper for her to draw on so it’s a great activity item that doesn’t take up much space at all.

Anyway, I will be attempting to reduce the unnecessary clutter in my handbag so we will see how that goes (won’t hold my breath) as I figured I should try and control it now as it will only get worse when James also ‘needs’ to take certain items out with him.

Notes to self:

  1. schedule an appointment with the physio for them to beat out the knots and relieve the strain on my right side.
  2. make a note of physio costs to be refunded to myself out of kids pocket money (when they start getting it).

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The “Birth Plan” that didn’t go as planned

I didn’t have a birth plan for when Paige was born.  My “plan” basically consisted of 2 main points:

1000w

And we are very blessed, because that is exactly what happened.  I had an elective cesarean which went brilliantly (well, as briliantly as invasive surgery into your lower abdomen could possibly go).  It was a fairly quick experience and Terry was right there by my side the entire time – on our side of the curtain of course…nobody wants to see that mess.

Summary of what went down at hospital when Paige was born:

Get undressed & slide into one of the not-so-stylish patient gowns (the ones that leave nothing to the imagination with the built in butt-aircon), get prepped for surgery, dignity gets left at the door, anesthetic in, then slight feeling of pressure as epidural goes in, baby out & immediate cuddles with mom (that’s me now) before she is whisked off (with the new dad hot on the nurse’s heels) to get Paige cleaned up and checked over.  Get wheeled into recovery section and then back to room, where I could ask nurses to bring Paige to me straight away for more cuddles.  Spent 3 nights in hospital, with a fair amount of pain only kicking in on day 2 because the epidural/spinal block keeps any after-surgery-pain at bay until the paralysis wears off (which is great). I was able to get up and start walking around slowly on the morning of day 2, and by that afternoon I had done a few laps around the ward and was walking upright and feeling good.  Pain had already started to ease on day 3 and by day 4 I was still sore but could walk normally and was ready to head home with our new little bundle.

My “Birth Plan” for James was pretty much the same, with a few additions based on my first experience.  Here is where this post gets a little more serious:

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Unfortunately, this is not exactly what happened.  I still had the elective cesarean but the experience was horrible.  I’m not going to go into detail (to save sensitive readers) but here is a summary of what went down at hospital when James was born:

It started out the same as when Paige was born, until we reached the epidural part.
The anesthetic didn’t work, but we only realised that when it came time to administer the epidural.  So, when the anesthetist started pushing the epidural needle (quite a massive needle by the way) between my vertebrae I squeezed Terry’s hand and literally screamed out…all I can say is that I have NEVER been in such agony in all of my life.  My entire body tensed upright and I fainted.
* Author’s Note: I have only ever fainted once before in my life *

They had to lie me down and wait for me to regain consciousness (not actually sure how long I was out).  Then the anesthetist announced that we were going to try again…”hunch over and just relax”…easier said than done.   More anesthetic to supposedly numb the area, and then more searing pain when another epidural attempt was made and failed.  I didn’t pass out on the 2nd and 3rd (maybe 4th?) attempts but I did scream and cry and squeeze Terry’s hand with all of my being, as if that would somehow alleviate some of the pain.  The anesthetist then asked me if I wanted to try again, but I couldn’t get a word out.  I wanted to scream at him (and possibly punch him in the face) but all I could do was look at my ObGyn.  Dr H took charge and told the anesthetist to stop (hallelujah), and instructed the nurses to get ready to put me under general.  At that point, I was in the early stages of a panic attack, and a nurse had already ushered Terry out of the room, so there was no time to consider what it meant to have my baby while under general anesthetic.

  • It meant that I was going to be unconscious and intubated, and hooked up to whatever else they need when they administer general anesthetic.
  • It meant that my best friend, husband, and father of my children was not going to be allowed in the room with me when our son was born.
  • It meant that neither of us were going to see him take his first breath and we would have to wait hours until we could hold him.
  • It meant that I was not going to have the immediate skin-to-skin contact that I had with Paige, and as silly as it sounds, isn’t that the first moment a mother and baby bond?  I was going to miss out on that.

The surgery itself went well, James was born healthy with no other complications, and my tubal ligation was successfully done at the same time.  I got to hold James for the first time about 2-3 hours later when I woke up, but  I felt groggy and ill and the throbbing from surgery started immediately,  with the pain setting in for the next week or so.  After about 10 days it all of a sudden began to ease and then recovery went quite smoothly from then on.

I know I can’t complain because, although there were complications, James and I are both fine and the awful surgery experience did not cause any lasting issues for either of us.  BUT, I did struggle emotionally with not being “present” for the birth of my son.  It deeply affected me and for the first few weeks I was truly worried that I had missed out on an important bonding moment with my child, and I was concerned that this would affect my relationship with him forever.

The baby blues (to be written about another day) hit with a vengeance about 2 weeks later, and reared it’s tearful head for about 2 weeks more, but I felt so much better about everything once it had passed.  I realised that one moment does not determine our relationship going forward, especially when it relates to my child, a little being that Terry and I created together.  My body nourished and protected this blessing and gave life to him.  The bond is not formed in that single moment of first contact.  It is pre-cast from the infinite love I have for him, since that moment we found out I was pregnant.

The point is, not everything goes according to plan. It will probably be really difficult to deal with in the moment, but the important part, the thing to remember, is that we need to accept what has happened, make peace with the fact that the past cannot be changed, and move forward.

I am one lucky lady with an amazing husband and two healthy, gorgeous kiddies.  I am happy.

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The Bad Mother

Of-course-Im-a-good-mother

Don’t you dare pretend that you have no idea what I am talking about!

That moment (or 50) when you do or say something relating to your child that attracts sharp daggers of disapproving and judgmental looks, aimed solely in your direction.  You know, because you clearly don’t know what you are doing as a parent, and in fact you shouldn’t have procreated at all in the first place.

What a load of self righteous baloney!  I am a GREAT mom!
How do I know?  My kids (yes plural) are alive, happy and thriving – all thanks to me and my husband (and our family – it takes a village you know).

Yes, I chose to have an elective cesarean for the births of both of my children.
No, pushing a watermelon out of your lady parts, for who knows how many hours, does not make you a better mother than me.  I bear the scars of childbirth just like you.

Yes, I formula fed my kiddies from birth.
No, it was not my first choice but it is what worked for us, and all of you formula-nay-sayers can go suck it because my 2 year old is one of the healthiest little tots I know and has only been sick once, and my (almost) 3 month old is a porky little bundle of good health.  If you are able to breast feed then yay for you – 10 gold stars.  I could not with our first born – I had no milk, not one single drop – the doc said it happens sometimes and there is no reason for it.  I tried for 2 weeks and found myself on the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life before we resorted to go onto formula full time.  When you have to continuously “top up” your baby from a syringe for 2 weeks because your non-existent supply does not meet the demand, and you hear her little tummy rumble then you can sling your judgmental mud pies in my direction.  So, my husband and I discussed it, and we chose not to go through that again with our 2nd…not that I needed your approval in the first place.

Yes, I let my toddler get dirty – actually, filthy from head to toe and all the nooks and crannies in between would explain it better.  If she’s not dirty by the end of the day then it means that she has not been having a blast outdoors in the fresh air and has instead been inside glued to the tube (TV).  It’s called exploring her surroundings and it’s important to my husband and I…plus there’s this thing called a bath at the end of the day which we use to hit the reset button on the dirt 🙂 You know, so that she can start again the next day.

HOWEVER,

Yes, I sometimes let my toddler watch TV for more that 20 minutes at a time.  You know that thing called sanity?  It runs seriously low when you have little kids.  The fact that it is pretty much a gazillion times harder to start and finish anything, without starting and not finishing 10 other tasks during that time, might have something to do with the dwindling sanity. So, sometimes putting the 2 year old in front of the magical toon box – so that you can cook their dinner, your dinner, eat, bath and bottle the baby and shower the baby puke off of yourself – is okay, really, it is.  No really, it is.

Yes, I let my toddler eat the same thing for dinner for weeks at a time if that’s what she wants.  She once went almost 3 weeks having cooked lean mince with all sorts of veggies mixed in, chopped up into little pieces so that she didn’t know they were there.  That’s what she wanted, and I have decided that I would rather give her that every night of her life if necessary, knowing that she is going to bed with a healthy meal in her tummy.  Variety, shmiety (yes, I am aware that shmiety is not a word).  Every few days I try her with something new – sometimes she goes with it, sometimes she doesn’t.  It’s all a dinner-time power struggle.

I could most definitely go on with a few more paragraphs of the things that “everyone” says parents shouldn’t do, but let’s be honest, “everyone’s” advice is not always possible in reality.  Who are these “everyone” people and why do they think that they can tell me the “right” and “wrong” way to do everything.

Newsflash!
The “right” way is whatever works for me and my kids (whilst making safe and healthy-as-possible choices), because they are each their own unique little beings and what works for one child may not (probably won’t) work for another – I can attest to that with my two.

There is not one baby book on this planet that covers the do’s and don’ts of every single situation that that every parent has ever experienced in all of time.  You can spend hours/days/months trolling the internet to try and equip yourself with all of the tools necessary to ensure you are ready for what comes with having a baby and to raise your child the “right” way.  BUT, yes their is a massive BUT…and now hear me, really hear me and understand what I am about to say…

You will NEVER be 100% prepared for what comes with bringing a life into this world, to be totally responsible for them, and for them to be utterly reliant on you for their survival.  That’s a really big deal.

Something (guaranteed) will happen that you never read about and you will have very few options:

  1. Freak out
  2. Phone  mom/family member/friend
  3. Google it and come across hundreds of med pages giving you a diagnosis which is probably way off
  4. Ask social media – which may actually be helpful sometimes but just keep in mind that they are not trained professionals, they are mostly just regular moms/dads like you who can only comment on their experiences, and it may not be the same as what you are going through anyway
  5. Wing it – Yes, I said it, and I know it is definitely not profound or an all round problem solving mechanism but guess what, you are (possibly unknowingly) equipped with (mostly) everything you need to deal with this new and scary situation.  Just take a few deep breaths and trust your motherly (or fatherly) instincts, and you will know what to do.  This is usually my choice.  Feel free to ask for other opinions but just remember that it is purely research for you to make your own choice – opinions are a use it or lose it commodity.

NB NOTE:
Obviously if it is a medical/health and survival related dilemma then please seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

There is an idea that I read about a few years ago, and I often refer back to it when I am unsure about which way to turn as it is quite helpful and can be applied to pretty much any decision making process:

Allocate your 2 main choices to the sides of a coin, flip it and call heads/tails while it is in the air – before the coin lands you would have already decided which side you are hoping will ‘win’.
Ie: you have already made your decision on how to handle the situation, because you knew all along but just didn’t trust your instincts.