Baby-Led Weaning

I have been patiently waiting the arrival of baby (GIRL!!) number 3! I have been just enjoying the family I already have and not dwelling on all the emotions (good and bad) that make pregnancy feel longer and more emotionally taxing. But being around a newborn the last few days, and talking with friends who are talking about their pregnancies has got me thinking. About a LOT.

What do our parenting philosophies look like on child number three? My poor son is going to be a middle child! Do all girls have the same intensity of personality as my first daughter? Please let this child be easy to nurse. Is this child going to develop at the same speed of my last two (who rolled over both ways from birth and crawled at 3 and 4 months!!)? And that is not even the tip of the iceberg!

I have done tons more research on baby food and baby feeding since weaning my last child, and have decided that I will wean my third child just as I did my first two. Why? Because it is easy, and I believe that research has proven it is easiest on the baby’s stomach, and there are no long term effects on the child (short term either for that matter).

I didn’t know there was a name for this method either time I used it, I just wanted to NOT do baby food. My reasons for this, some important, others not so much, are:

1. There are ingredients NOT listed on the labels that are harmful

2. It is messy

3. It promotes feeding solids at too early an age which can lead to digestive issues later in life

4. I didn’t have a food processor and I’m never even in my home state so it wouldn’t have been helpful anyway

5. Breast is best ;)

I did research on what foods are best to introduce at what ages, I still contain that knowledge, but experts differ so I would NEVER tell someone which ones to feed their child. That is for every parent to decide for their families. But I did start with protein and veggies and did not in any way shape or form allow my child to have gluten until at least 8 months, but it was more like 10 before they ate bread at all.

Honestly, I exclusively breastfed my children to 8 months for my son, and 10 months for my daughter. I accomplished this by not putting them at the table at meal times and not eating while holding them or distracting them while we were eating. They both ate a bite or two of this or that at 6 & 7 months but no meals. The second a child starts eating solids, the less milk fat they receive and the less milk you produce, even if they are nursing the same number of times.

When it was time to begin solids, I just gave my children food from off our plates. They began with green beans (canned because they were soft), potatoes (esp sweet), small pieces of grilled chicken, eggs, bananas, canned carrots and broccoli tops, etc. I just cut them small enough for them to put pieces in their mouth and chew (well, mostly gum since they only had like 8 teeth at the time!).

This method of feeding requires parents to have healthy food on their plates (wink, wink ;), but aside from that, it is super easy! No mess, no hassle, no overfeeding baby, no wondering if they ate enough. Baby ate at his/her pace and Mom could eat in peace! Baby developed the necessary skill of chewing food, and felt the wonderful pride of self-sufficiency. I did not need to travel with any supplies to feed the baby or wonder what ingredients were hidden in the containers (there are so many baby food recalls it makes me nervous!).

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This is my son’s very first taste of food! 6.5 months, and Sis and I were eating pickles and he stole this from her!! He crawled away like he stole a precious jewel and ate it about 5 feet away from us. A pickle was both of my kids’ first tastes, maybe its why they aren’t picky eaters now? ;)

So in all my thinking and further research on the topic, I have decided that I am going to nurse and wean baby number three just like my first two.  I think no matter how busy I will continue to be the next few months, this moving, hiccuping 1-2 lb baby is going to be in my thoughts!!

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Just so you know, I did give it to him in a safer format when I realized how much it meant to him to keep eating it, lol!

 

 

Love Thy Neighbor

I live in a neighborhood where the houses are fairly close. But I noticed that having neighbors is not what I expected it to be. When my husband and I first got married, I thought I would bake some goodies and meet and greet. The overwhelming feeling from most people is, “did you lace these?” and “why are you at my door?”

But there is that occasional neighbor who lets you in….and LOVES to chat. In my current situation it is an elderly woman in her 80’s who lost her husband just a month before we met.

I try to visit every time we are in town for a few days and bring something yummy over and/or my children to light up her day. To be honest, I don’t always have the time, and sometimes she wants more time than I allot. But I stay until she is finished with the visit, and enjoy a pleasant time chatting about her and my life since the last visit.

I had not seen her in almost three months because she was ill, and been hospitalized and put in a rehab center three times, and I have been in and out of town. So just the other day we received a Christmas gift from her, and it touched my heart!

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Being the right kind of neighbor takes time, and it sometimes requires a favor or two (like picking up extra veggies at the farmers market:) but it is SUCH a blessing to be loved in return!

Chocolate Covered Banana Baked Oatmeal

My family had the wonderful opportunity to stay with a family of 9 during a conference in Michigan last week. The mother of the household made wonderful, healthy, hearty meals to feed her children. I was just a little envious of her system of cooking and meal scheduling, it seemed to flow much better than mind.. One morning she made baked oatmeal. I am ashamed to admit, I had never had baked oatmeal before! My slow cooked and stove top oatmeal never seems to go well, but her tastey breakfast made me want to give baked oatmeal a try.

After reading several different recipes, this is the recipe I came up with for my family, and let me tell you, my children LOVED it and each at two decent servings. The result tasted like chocolate covered bananas, who doesn’t like that?!

Chocolate Covered Banana Baked Oatmeal

1 cup of milk
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
1/4 cup of sugar *optional
3 Tbs butter (I used unsalted) *optional
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 cups of old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup of cocoa powder *to your taste, I prefer the half cup

Preheat oven to 350
Lightly oil pan (I used about a tsp of coconut oil on a paper towel)
Mix top list of ingredients
Mix in dry ingredients
Top with chocolate chips if desired (and I desired :)
Bake 25 mins
Cool five minutes

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Yes, I served breakfast on paper plates :) we are packed and ready to drive this mornings no time for dishes!! :)

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Sweet and Salty Goodness

Strawberry pretzel salad is one of my favorite desserts, I first tasted it while attending Clearwater Christian College and it took me FOREVER to find the recipe! But it left such an impression that I searched forever for it. I will be honest, it isn’t beautiful, but the taste is an out of this world combination of creamy, sweet, fruity and salty. Here is the recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Salad, and one variation listed at the bottom of the post.

Ingredients:
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons white sugar; mix well and press mixture into bottom of 9×13-inch baking dish.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes, until set; set aside to cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and white sugar.
  5. Fold in whipped topping.
  6. Spread mixture onto cooled crust.
  7. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.
  8. Stir in frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly.
  9. When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheese layer.
  10. Refrigerate until set.

Cherry variation: You can omit steps 7-9 and just use cherry pie filling. You can also sub cherry gelatin and use cherries canned in light syrup (not pie filling). My last batch I drained canned cherries and used cherry gelatin. I prefer this to the pie filling but both are good. I would venture to say that subbing canned and jello pineapple or orange would also be delicious.

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Family Update March 2013

My family is changing fast! In the last 6-8 weeks my 20 month old son has started TALKING!! My daughter has celebrated her third birthday, we have enjoyed Disney World and been in 13 states! Here is a quick picture update of our adventures.

This is a dress I made Adelle that has already been ruined :(

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How we practice our table manners:

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JJ’s Easter suit fitting, it is difficult to fit a wiggly one year old!

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We got a van and this is Adelle’s first ride in it! She approves!

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Someone turned three!!

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What my husband and I do for now

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I took her to get her nails done for the first time, she felt SO special! And it only cost $3 :)

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Adelle’s favorite food! Asian anything!

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The place where three states meet. Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma

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Route 66 rest stop

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The cart on our way up the St. Louis Arch

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Jjs first ever “bicey Lollie pop”

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Snow adventures

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No Pressure Baby and Toddler Training

Before having children, I never gave much thought about the incredible amount of responsibility. After having my daughter and realized the immense potential she had, I understood a little more about my job as a parent. The little girl I held in my arms could grow up to be ANYTHING. That is huge!

I constantly want to be bonding, and teaching, and savoring our moments together. I am always painfully aware of how fleeting life on earth can be and that whatever is not done or enjoyed immediately may never be finished or enjoyed.

I now have two earth-side children, and one on the way, and I want them to learn everything, experience every wonderful thing, love the life God has given them, and be wonderful testaments to Biblical parenting and products of a tightly knit godly family.

My two born children are very similar, but in many ways training them has been night and day. My daughter loved to learn and could never get enough. She would never (turned three on Tues and still has not) cease from expanding her vocabulary. By 11 months of age, she spoke 50 words. Words she could use without prompting and would try and try and try until she pronounced something correctly. She memorized her first Bible reference and verse at 22 months, and knew her whole capital alphabet by 18 months.

My son, on the other hand, almost seems to have an aversion to learning. Most would say it is because he is a boy, but I will not issue a statement that may limit my son, or dictate the way he, or I, think about him :) I had to teach him to sit through a story without ripping pages, when I first tried to stack blocks with him at 11 months he would throw them or push the tower over while crawling away. Alphabet flash cards? Before i could arrange the deck in my hand he was sliding off my lap!

So, despite the VERY different children God has blessed me with, (neither one better than the other!) I have decided to form a list of pointers on how to daily teach young children that would help every child, regardless of their learning styles and/or desires. These suggestions characterize the way our home is run and I believe it has helped both our child who was willing and eager to communicate, and our child who needed convincing to speak at all.

1. If you touch it, name it. If you wipe a nose, or lotion a belly, or dress an arm, just name it. Every single time. Once they are grasping the names, start asking for them to give you that foot and help them if they do not get it, “Oh, here it is!”

2. Hold a continuous conversation. I understand some people talk more than others, but try to always let your child, however young, know what is going on (as it is appropriate). Although they may not get a say in what goes on in the day, it is polite to let them know what to expect. Kids pick up relationship cues and vocab in ways I will never understand.

3. Let them help! It is not convenient to let your 14 month old hold the dustpan, but it sure makes work more enjoyable and the DESERVED self-esteem they get does so much good for their attitude in life. When children are a blessing, they feel delighted in, and the reward seen in that child’s character is worth a million easier chores! At cleanup time if the child has to stand at the toy box and get handed the item to be put in (and possibly even help dropping it ;) help them deserve praise, for even a child understand can decipher between empty and deserved recognition.

4. Practice everything! If a child wants down off the bed at 7 months old (that was my son, always climbing!) then don’t just put them down. Maneuver him down and guide him while he does it himself. Yes, you are the one doing it, and no, this is not easier, but, regardless of what the task at hand is, the more you have them practice it, the faster they will pick it up (and when it comes to climbing down, it is much safer for them to learn to do it safely :). This could apply to flipping the lid to their sippy cup, zipping a coat, putting on a hat, etc. You have a perfectly capable child, keep them trying for the things they desire. Character building is a day in and day out process.

5. Repeat yourself. Use simple phrases the same way every time. There are a million ways to say, “do not touch that,” and “do not eat that,” but pick one very simple phrase and use the same one every time. This eliminates frustration when a child needs to understand what you expect, and helps him anticipate what comes next. “Naptime,” “Time to eat,” “Bath time.” Very simple keywords to help your child learn vocab, expectations, and anticipate transitions.

6. Use every opportunity. Sitting at the table waiting for dinner, show your 10 month old the letters you see. Count sugar packets. Enjoy color and sound. If you are in a Cracker Barrel, show them the deer mount. Kids LOVE to explore what is at hand, and they pick up and everything you say, so say a LOT.

7. Spend little time sitting your child teaching them. Yes, you read that right, no, that was not a typo. You are the parent and you know everything as far as your little one is concerned, but let them feel in control of what they learn. Try not to use the condescending I-am-trying-ever-so-sweetly-to-teach-you tone. Kids turn a deaf ear to that. Teaching a young child should involve a no pressure life-is-awesome atmosphere.

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St. Louis Arch

Last week our family had the privilege of driving from Dallas to Detroit! My husband knew as soon as we started preparing for the trip that we were GOING to see the Arch in St. Louis. I had not given it any thought, but after he shared some history and excitement with me, I made sure that we actually stayed the night in St. Louis and got to see it a little longer!

The Lord blessed us with an absolutely AMAZING deal on Priceline, and we stayed at the St. Louis Hyatt at the Arch! We did not arrive in town until after dark, but we drove around down town and lamented the reality of our short trip. It felt like a Midwest version of D.C and we would have loved to do more site seeing.

The next morning, we went downstairs and ate pastries from Starbucks for breakfast, packed up, and walked right across the street, in light snow, to the Arch. I can imagine the park surrounding the monument is beautiful in spring and summer, but it was frosted and sprinkled with snow as we enjoyed it.

Inside the base is a little museum arranged in chronological order describing life for natives and settlers alike. My children loved looking around, but older children would have benefited more from the history lesson.

The cars of the tram that take you to the top are quite small!! My tiny family of four fit, but four adults would have been cozy. The amount of noise made me a little nervous as we went up, and up, and up. And then I got thinking about how long it would take to descend down the stairs in an emergency. But there were none :)

On the top the windows were disappointingly small, but I understand why! When you lean against the wall to see out the window you can look straight down! My kids thought it was great. My son especially loved walking back and forth across the sloped floor.

I would definitely recommend this monument! It is as exciting as any monument can be, and I learned more about the western expansion than I knew. It symbolizes a significant piece of US history and it is a trip any preteen or adult would remember for a lifetime.

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