Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Babies

Our family has been blessed to know three, yes THREE couples who had babies on my birthday weekend!  March is a fantastic month to be born, and I am happy to share my birth month (and even my birthDAY in one case) with these new little sweeties!

So congratulations to the Heards on their sweet little Libby, the Carlyles on big boy (a whopping 9 lbs, 4 oz!) Owen, and the Simpsons on precious Aubrey Kate.  We were lucky enough to get to visit Aubrey, Dave, and Lindsey in the hospital after Aubrey made her debut.  Alli loves babies, but Riley wasn't so sure.

I am so happy to know each one of these great sets of parents and I can't wait to watch these sweet little babies grow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Adventures in Babyfood Making

I've alluded to this several times on the blog, but Ryan and I are making Riley's baby food ourselves.  I had three big wishes for giving Riley the best start possible:  breastfeeding her the first year, cloth diapering, and making her baby food.  All three of those were pretty ambitious and would require a lot of work on my part, but I really wanted to make it happen.  Breastfeeding has gone very well, even after me going back to work when Riley was twelve weeks old.  I think a lot of that is helped by the fact that I'm home with her two days a week.

Ryan said no ma'am to the cloth diapering.  I wanted to fight him on it, but it seemed so important to him, and he had some great points.  With a big kid, we are always on the go, and with daycare to consider, we weren't sure that the huge initial investment would pay off.  So while I wanted to be super green and not use disposable diapers, that's where we've ended up and I'm fine with that decision.

The biggest commitment to me was making Riley's baby food.  I had no idea where to start, but fortunately my cousin had a baby about six months before I did and she had decided to do the same thing.  She has been a wealth of knowledge for me and has kept the whole process from being too confusing.  I still get a little overwhelmed at times - without the baby food aisle to guide me on what "step" we're on, I tend to get lost on where to go next.  However, three months into doing this, and I'm almost a pro.

The process is pretty simple.  All you need in a steam basket (I got an Oxo one from Amazon for around $15), a sauce pan with a lid, a knife, a cutting board, and a blended.  We use a Magic Bullet that Ryan bought from Amazon for around $100.  As I mentioned before, he bought it thinking he would use it, but turns out Riley has used it most of all.

First, you chop and peel the fruit or veggie you're cooking (if required).  I don't peel squash, apples and pears, but I do peel mangos, peaches, sweet potatoes, and plums.

Then you bring 2-3 cups of water to boil in a sauce pan.  Place the chopped or sliced food into the steam basket and cover.  I steam for around 10 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, I take the lid off and let the food cool.  Then I put it in the blender.  If I know a food is going need some water to blend (most vegetables plus apples & pears), I add the water from the  pot because it's going to have absorbed some of the nutrients from the food.  Special thanks to R.Lowe for being my hand model.

 We have two silicone trays for freezing food.  We got the green one at Target and the pink one was a gift.  I have to say, the pink is superior.  I absolutely love it, and not just because it's pink.  It's the easier of the two to get the frozen food out of!

So once you blend to the desired consistency, then you just pour it in the trays, cover, and freeze.

It's actually a surprisingly easy process, and one that I have really enjoyed because it's not only good for the Roo, but it has made our family much more conscious of what we eat.  I love feeling like I'm doing something so healthy for her that it's helped us in the process!

Here's a list of what Riley has tried so far:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal (Sprout brand, mixed with breastmilk)
  • Blueberries
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Mangos
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chicken (Boiled, shredded, and then blended)
  • Yogurt (I didn't make this myself - It's whole milk yogurt from Ozark Natural Foods)
  • Pumpkin (canned)
  • Summer squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
And here are a few notes:
  • Bananas and avocados do not have to be steamed - you can just peel, pit (if needed), and blend.
  • We use the SteamFresh bags for green beans and peas.  It's just easier - I steam them in the microwave and then blend.
  • We use frozen peaches from Ozark Natural Foods that have no added ingredients.  They are so simple because they are already peeled, sliced, and ready to steam.  Sometimes, depending on what's in season or in stock, we get frozen mangos and blueberries as well.
  • Don't fill the sauce pan up with too much water - suspending food in water actually removes the nutrients.  If you have to add water to the blender, always try to use the water from the pot you used to steam.
  • An exception to the above is blueberries - their skins are so tough that they retain their nutrients.  I actually boil them for 10 minutes in 2 cups of water uncovered.
  • If anything is too runny, add baby oatmeal.  
  • Canned pumpkin can actually be served right out of the can.  Just make sure it's not pumpkin pie mix.  No need to cook.
  • The chicken was the hardest thing we've made, and I think it's scared us off of making any other meats!  It was so hard to get the consistency right.  Just keep adding water and blending.
  • I used this website as my reference, and I still read it constantly.  It has a great listing of spices to add to each baby food once you've introduced them all so that you keep exposing your child to new flavor.
I've not done a great job of moving past the fruit and veggie purees.  I need to get some grains introduced as well as beef and turkey.  We're also starting to work on textured foods, so I'll mash up a banana or peas in front of her and let her play with them.  She's not putting it into her mouth yet, but I think we'll get there soon.  It makes me feel great to be able to make Riley's solids for her and I love knowing exactly what's in them.  I encourage anyone who wants to to give it a try - it's not as hard as everyone makes it seem!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Birthday Extravaganza 2014

This weekend marked the annual event lovingly known as Birthday Extravaganza.  It's only the second time in history that it's been held in Fayetteville, so I loved having a house full of people over!

Love this baby and her first experience with Birthday Extravaganza

Sunglasses and a crown - it's efficient AND fabulous!
The Women of the Hour

Laughing at our cards

It was a beautiful event enjoyed by all who attended, but especially us birthday girls.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Apparently Alli wasn't aware of the tradition of pinching someone who isn't wearing green on this holiday, so when I told her last night as we laid out her green pants and green shirt, she got a gleam in her eye.

Last night before I went to bed, I made sure to put on a green shirt so that when I got up in the morning, she wouldn't be able to get me.  Ryan, however, wasn't so lucky.  He got a pinch on the arm this morning for forgetting his green!

When I walked in to put her green bow in her hair, Alli pinched my leg.

"Hey!!  I'm wearing green!  Look at my shirt!"

"Well that's why I pinched your leg, your pants aren't green."

"You don't have to be wearing green everywhere, just somewhere."

"Oh.  Well I am wearing it everywhere, so I must be really lucky."

Around then, Ryan walked in wearing a green shirt.  Lesson learned.

Wishing each of you a very happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

29 and Holding

Almost a week ago, a major event occurred:  I became 29.  We kicked off the party Sunday when I was headed out to take Alli to the barn.  The ground was still extremely wet from the snow and sleet we'd had the week before, so Ryan decided to give me a birthday present early, and they sure did come in handy!  Rain, mud, and snow just got a little brighter.

That night we went to La Hacienda for margaritas and Mexican with one of our favorite couples.  Monday, my actual birthday, was a work at home day for me.  Being a grown up and having to work on your birthday sort of stinks, but Ryan overcame it the best he could with more presents (Lululemon headbands!!) and lots of food.  I started the day with donuts, and he came home at lunch with a grilled cheese and tomato soup from Hammontree's.  Dinner was Shogun's followed by a Ricks cake.  I was a happy, stuffed girl.

We also had beautiful weather on my birthday, so Riley, the boys and I took a break from work for a walk, and after dinner we did some softballin' in the yard with my sister.

The nexy day was a work in the office day, so my co-workers took me to Mama Z's and then Ryan sent Ricks cookies to the office for me.  Yum!

So despite getting older on a Monday when I had to work, I had a great few days of celebration - huge props to my hubby on that.  You now have one year until my big 3-0 so brace yourselves, people.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Alli's Anecdotes

The other night, we were feeding Riley chicken.  It's not the greatest thing in the world - it's boiled, shredded, and then blended with water to make a sort of paste.  I like to think it's better than the jarred baby food chicken, but in health only.  I'm pretty sure they taste equally terrible.

Anyway, we were feeding Riley who was not enjoying her chicken.  And Alli decided to encourage her.

"Riley, you have to like chicken.  Lots of good things come from chicken.  Like chicken nuggets, chicken patties…and pork chops…and…fish sticks!"

Sometimes, I don't even know.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Riley {Nine Month Update}

It's that time again!  Is it flying by for you like it is for me??  Our sweet Riley ma'am is nine months old!  She's officially been out longer than she was in!

Key words to describe this stinker this month:

  • Toothy.  Riley cut her top left tooth finally!  It was a bit of a bumpy few days, but we could see it in her gum and it finally popped out!  It looks just like her sister's, and the one right next to it is on the way any day now (please).
  • Expressive.  Riley's aware of how to make people laugh, whether it's a cute, shy smile or shaking her head back and forth.  She isn't afraid to let you know how she feels, and we started something new this month - throwing herself backwards when she doesn't like something.  So that's fun.
  • Musical.  We play Riley's Pandora station all the time while she's playing on the floor, and she loves the music.  It plays a mix of reggae, Disney songs, and acoustic.  She bounces up and down and sways to the beat.  Don't tell Ryan, but she already has more rhythm than he does.

Riley is chowing down on solid foods - she's added blueberries, yogurt, and chicken this month.  She likes everything but the chicken.  I'm sure being a Lowe, she'll learn to love it.  We haven't tried anything more than purees yet, so if anyone has any tips on getting a fickle 0.75 year old to try something other than creamy blends, please let me know.

 Riley's been to riding lessons, soccer games, a Razorback gymnastics meet, and a Razorback basketball game this month.  She's a pretty good traveler and she can be flexible (most of the time).  We went bowling last Tuesday to get out of the house after three snow days, and she thoroughly enjoyed observing.

This kid is character!  You never have to wonder what's on her mind, because she lets you know.  She works hard to get our attention, and she even imitates us by nodding or shaking her head back and forth.  Sometimes you can even get her to mimic sounds.  Riley has also been known to give the occasional headbutt  to get kisses on her forehead.  She's not afraid to let you know if she's unhappy by screaming, arching her back, and even diving backwards out of your arms.  At least she's a woman who knows what she wants.

Riley has a move we like to call "the roll-crawl."  She's not crawling yet, but she is pushing with her feet quite a bit.  So when she sees something she wants across the room, she uses a combination of rolling and crawling to get to it.  Very resourceful and creative.  She's also starting to pull herself up onto our laps.  It's not cruising yet, but it's the beginning of it.

Happy nine months, Riley!  You're a challenging, independent, strong-willed little lady with a mind of your own.  I love how you know what you want, and you're not afraid to let the world know.  I'm proud to be your mama.