The easiest way to baby-proof your blinds

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Need to find a way to tie up those long hanging cords from your blinds? The answer, my friends, is Command Hooks! Aren’t they the best?

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Buy these clear ones, affix them (using the sticky that comes with) against the inside of your window or trim, and wrap the cord around the “cleat” you’ve created! Or “wrap it like a vacuum cord” as my husband calls it. We found this pack of Command Hooks was under $8 and came with plenty of hooks to take care of all the windows in our house. It took no longer than 10 minutes for me to baby-proof all of our blinds. Yay!

Share this post with someone you know with a baby on the go!

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Feed your better baby better foods for better prices: A beginners guide to homemade baby food

It’s Friday night, and I’m laying in bed next to the world’s sweetest 8 month old. Time flies. 

This is a post I’ve been writing in my head for weeks now. Homemade baby food is something I have grown to be passionate about and I am thrilled to share with you our journey thus far.

Please keep in mind that every mother makes her own decisions and is entitled to do what she thinks is best for the health and well-being of her baby. This is our experience, and I hope it inspires you or someone you know to cook for baby!

Oh, and this post is coming from my iPhone and I’m sure I won’t catch all the typos. Sorry!


Baby Food 101 : The Equipment 

We were gifted a Baby Brezza machine! This thing rocks and I would and have recommended it time and time again. The cool function about this machine is that it steams the uncooked food and then automatically begins blending. For me, the mom who turns on the Keurig without putting a mug underneath, this is super handy.

In addition, all you do is add the diced food and water to the reservoir. Set the timer, according to the manual, and go on with your bottle washing, playing, bathing, whatever.

The food is often puréed to a smooth consistency, but if I feel like I would like the texture to be more smooth I can just pulse the blend button a few times.

This machine runs $80-$100 and can be purchased at major retailers.

The parts are top-rack dishwasher safe.

Other equipment we use: knife, cutting board, ice cube tray, freezer bags. All things you already own!

Selecting the best foods for baby

So, this is where the “every mom makes her own decisions” thing comes to play. I’m going to talk about what we fed our son Samuel, at what age, and why. Please research food timelines for yourself and consider the benefits of using fresh organic produce as much as possible!

At 6 months old, the first food we introduced was organic sweet potato. We were able to purchase 4 medium sized potatoes for $3-4. Since we chose to skip out on feeding our guy rice cereal, this was his first taste of anything besides breastmilk. (That’s another post for another day!)


As you can tell, he didn’t love it. When introducing any new food, we give it to him exclusively for 3 days to make sure we can pinpoint the cause of any allergic reaction. By day 2, he was getting the hang out it and loving sweet potato! He was fed in the evenings most days, but we didn’t worry if we skipped a day if he wasn’t acting interested, was tired, we were eating out, etc.

This is the order in which we introduced foods:

  • Organic sweet potato (loves it!)
  • Organic mashed avocado (did not like)
  • Organic butternut squash (really likes!)
  • Organic green beans (yuck, mom!)
  • Organic red beets (messy, but okay)
  • Organic baby carrots (just okay)
  • Frozen organic sweet peas (loves!)




We also blended foods! We did as best we could to give these to him exclusively for at least 3 feedings to be able to identify any allergies caused by the blend. Luckily, we have had no issues.

  • Sweet potato & squash (yummy!)
  • Sweet potato or squash & beets (likes it most of the time)
  • Avocado & green beans (love/hate relationship)
  • Carrots & beets (just okay)
  • Peas & sweet potato (totally yummy!)
  • Carrots + beets & sweet potato (yummy!)

For the first 3 weeks we stuck to 6-6:30 pm feedings, then added a lunch time feeding after his morning nap, typically 11:00 am. Up until 8 months old, we have only fed him 1 cube portions (plus breastmilk to thin the puree to the right consistency). We have now bumped up his portion size to 2 cubes and he is doing great and almost always finishes his meal.

Why haven’t we given him fruits?

In an attempt to teach him to like and eat veggies, we have fed him veggies only for 2 months. At 8-9 months we plan to start introducing fruits. I plan to use them to trick him into eating some of the veggies he doesn’t like as well as the others. Gotta love those blends!

I plan to introduce pears & apples first, then progress to bananas, plums and other non-acidic fruits.

Continuing to pump & nurse after introducing foods

I have been nervous about my milk supply decreasing once he started adding something besides breastmilk to his diet and I haven’t experienced any change in production or volume thus far. A breastfeeding update post is on the docket 🙂

What does effect my supply is when I don’t drink enough water or eat full meals on the regular. I’m always working on that! My husband does a very good job to “babysit” me and makes sure I’m eating/drinking.

How do you prep the food before serving?

Pop a cube into a teacup and microwave it for 20ish seconds until it is thawed and slightly warm. Stir in breastmilk to thin it. Done! We choose not to heat baby’s food in any kind of plastic container due to the chemicals in some plastics. If baby is not interested in eating at the time, we will sit the teacup on the counter but not for too long. We would rather toss out the food that cost us pennies to make per portion than for any germs to grow or to microwave any food containing breastmilk. Just our personal preference!

Storing homemade baby food

We use simple ice cube trays to freeze the puréed food into portions. We have the cheapest trays and the cubes don’t pop out on their own. I use a grapefruit spoon to pry out the frozen cubes. I pop them into a freezer Ziploc bag, label it, and put it right back into the freezer. One great thing about using the trays is that you probably already have them in your home! I measured and learned the volume of each cube in our trays was 1 oz. I don’t know if that is standard for ice cube trays.


I hope this post about our experience with homemade baby food making over the past 2 months in helpful and inspiring. Would you do me a favor and share it with others?

Samuel Hayes | 7 Months Old

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samuel hayes – 7 months old

Height/Length: at least 29″, but we don’t measure at home

Weight: close to 20 pounds

Diapers: Right at 7 months old we upgraded to size 4 Luvs. They fit our boy great! He wasn’t getting enough coverage of his bum in the 3s so it was certainly time to move on up.

Clothes: This boy grows out of clothes constantly. It’s hard to keep up. 9 month sized pants are definitely too short and a little tight in the booty. We are buying at least 12, if not 18 month sizes for the summer. As far as shoes go, size 4 is where we are at, but honestly he only has one pair of shoes that fit. OSU slide-ons!

Eating: Sammy is now eating homemade organic veggie purees! Most days he is excited about eating. We started with sweet potatoes at 6 months old. Since then we have tried butternut squash, green beans, avocado, carrots and beets. He has tried all of those on their own and as blends. So far, he is favorite foods are sweet potato, sweet potato+squash blend, beet+squash blend, and he tolerates squashacado (squash+avocado). All are organic and made in our babybrezza machine.

Since we skipped the rice cereal phase, we very gradually added veggies to his diet. To this date, we can skip a serving (or two) of veggies and it’s no big deal to him. We started with one frozen cube (ice cube tray portion – which is about an ounce) at a time and we are slowly working our way up to 2 cubes but he has never completely finished a 2 cube serving.

Here’s how a typical 24-hours goes for the two of us:

  • Wakes up anywhere between 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and nurses.
  • Takes a 6 oz. bottle at 9:00 a.m. and then naps. He doesn’t always finish his bottle.
  • Has a 1 cube serving of food after he naps, so sometime after 11:00 a.m. This is his lunch!
  • Takes a 5 oz. bottle when he is hungry. So anytime between 12 and 1:00 p.m., typically.
  • Takes a 6 oz. bottle in the afternoon. Sometimes he has to be woken for his bottle, but has it before 4:30 p.m.
  • I feed him his veggie dinner between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m., but he prefers to be finished by the time Wheel of Fortune comes on at 6:30 p.m.
  • He nurses for a quick snack sometime after we get home, it can be before or after his dinner.
  • We go to bed at 8:00 p.m. and he nurses til he is full and then falls asleep.

Sleeping: Ugh. Co-sleeping. It’s great and horrible at the same time. We are constantly saying how we need to get him in his crib. He’s so snuggly and sweet but I hardly ever sleep well and little man needs to learn to sleep in his crib. He does not sleep through the night. He nurses at least once. Probably because it’s convenient.

Loves: Books! Our little bookworm. He is so excited about his small Dr. Seuss board books. Taking walks and being outside! Taking apart his foam floor tiles and peeking under the living room rug. Chewing and pulling on daddy’s hat. The Easter Bunny brought him a Melissa+Doug chunky wooden farm puzzle. He thinks it is awesome and I would agree! One of our new games is playing chase in the house with mom and dad. He getting to sneak up on mommy – and often starts giggling before I start chasing Sammy and daddy. Samuel loves getting to hold lotion bottles. And of course he loves snuggling and being held.

Doesn’t like: Diaper changes, and when someone he loves leaves the room and he doesn’t want them to.

Teething update: Big boy has both bottom teeth! We are all very lucky and the teething process for this two teeth wasn’t too horrible on us.

Sounds: Grunting, squealing, some babbling, Mama, and lots and lots of laughs.

Movement: Sam is SO close to crawling, and can get nearly anywhere he wants to go when he is on his stomach. When you put out your hands he can pull himself to a standing position. He is more curious about standing every day. If he has anything in his crib that he can use to pull up on, he will so he can get to a standing position.

He is such a curious little boy. His fine motor skills are growing each day. He uses his index fingers to point and touch.

Personality: Three words Jeremy would use to describe his personality: perfect, curious, loving

Fun things we did this month: Had a visit from his great-grandparents that live in Florida and took lots of walks!

Here are more photos of our sweet boy! (I’m trying to figure out this DSLR thing.)

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Stuff we love: 6 months old

My baby was born half a year ago. What? Like, for real?

I blinked, and Samuel is 6 months old. He is the light of my life and is SO FUN. More on him in his upcoming 5 & 6 month update posts. (The 5 month one is written, just yet to be published. #betterlatethannever)

Today I want to talk about a few products we love to play with. These are things that I have chosen to talk about because they will keep him entertained for more than just a couple weeks. These are products/toys that will grow with him and be around for quite a while.

stuff we love

Dr. Seuss Board Books – These little books (4″ by 6″ or so) are great for sticking in the diaper bag for story time on the go. Or, for baby to hit repeatedly (Sammy… I’m looking at you!) or to open and close over and over again. Why should babies/toddlers/kiddos listen to Seuss?

“Repetition, rhythm and rhyme help children in crucial ways to process the speech they hear, and fine-tune the connections between auditory and language networks in the brain. Eventually kids use those networks to master phonological awareness, the ability to break spoken language into its component sounds. That is a critical gateway skill for reading.

The link between sound and reading has been getting intense attention from researchers such as Kenneth Pugh of Haskins Laboratories and Usha Goswami of Cambridge University. Studies have shown that how a child’s brain responds to sound on the first day of kindergarten correlates to how many words per minute that child will read in 4th grade. How fluently a child reads in 4th grade has everything to do with how well that child will be able to tackle more sophisticated tasks such as working through word problems in math and reading for evidence in science and social studies texts-the very skills being asked of American students in the new Common Core Standards.” Taken from this site.

Foam Floor Tiles – If you’ve got wood floors, or not-so soft-carpet, invest in foam floor tiles. While they aren’t the most fashionable piece of home decor, this extra layer of padding is awesome for baby as he learns to sit up, crawl, and walk. They can be cleaned easily (who likes scrubbing spit up out of carpet?) and are portable to an extent. You can find them nearly everywhere, in fact my mom got a great deal on them at Aldi for $15! And, I’ve seen them in a faux wood finish.

Bright Stars Finding Nemo Jumper – This is my answer to “where can I put you for 5 minutes while I poop?”.
One thing I love about this jumper is that it is different. I am sick of every baby toy being jungle themed! My guy loves these sea creatures and their exaggerated black and white eyes. He jumps like crazy in this thing, and since it is suspended he really gets some air time! Keep in mind, the supports do have 4 height settings and the weight limit is 25 pounds. The seat cover does come out and is washable. Oh, and the batteries last forever in the little toys. We accidentally leave them on more frequently than I’d like to admit.

Soft Stacking Blocks – We received these as a Christmas gift and my first thought is that they were boring. But, I’ve come to realize that “boring” is completely necessary when you have a big bin of electronic light up toys with an overwhelming amount of features, sounds, lights, and colors. Did you know… the ability to stack blocks is a baby milestone? At 6 months old, I am stacking these 3 or 4 high and letting little guy “crash” them down and knock them over. He hears us count and then goes in to knock them over. These also are helpful for teaching colors later on.

Silicone Teether – This cheap little teether is my guy’s fave. I bought one for my cousin’s baby and she loves it too. It is so much more flexible than other teethers and has little silicone bristles that I would compare to velcro. I don’t doubt that it feels good to chew on! This is called a “step 1” teether by the brand, but I’m not sure if that is a marketing ploy to make you think you need to buy the next step up as your baby grows. Something for you to decide for yourself!

Boppy Pillow – If you’re looking for a baby shower gift that the new mother and baby absolutely will need, it is the Boppy. No doubt about it. We had to have this while nursing for the first 2-3 months, but it quickly transitioned into a product that was more for baby than for momma. We used this to prop up baby during tummy time, and as “training wheels” for learning to sit on his own. We love this slipcover design particularly because of the grass made from ribbons. At 6 months old, babies love tags, and my guy plays with the design on his Boppy every night after nursing (if he isn’t asleep! 😉 )

Sit-to-Stand Walker – An awesome transition toy. Right now, we are using the “console” part of the toy on the floor during play time. The features, lights and sounds, are perfect for my 6 month old. As he becomes more mobile, we will snap the console into the walker and he can take his little farm on the go! I’m embarrassed to say that hubby and I have the songs this toy plays memorized quite well. We traveled with this toy 2 weeks ago, and while I was nervous about it being a little bit big to take with us, I was happy that we brought it along.


 

There you have it – a snapshot of stuff we love! I would love to hear about anything that was a lifesaver for you when baby was 7-9 months old. We’ll be there before I know it!

 

The nod

I looked in every stall, even the handicapped ones in the back. Hopeful I’d see one, but nope, nada, zilch. There was only one in the entire bathroom. Right next to the door and 2 feet from the floor. 

I crouched down to that outlet, plugged in my pump, hooked up, and grimaced as I sat my butt on that bathroom floor. 

The life of a breastfeeding momma. 

Doing my duty on a dirty public restroom floor. (Okay, actually it was the floor of a very nice and clean conference center. But a restroom floor nonetheless.)

I had skipped out of one of the breakaway sessions from today’s work seminar to pump for my little boy. Since most conference attendees were in session, bathroom traffic was at a minimum. 

I apologized to the first couple of women I saw, and who saw me, all of me. The droopy but full boobs, the stretch marks, all of it. They had nice things to say to me. 

“Been there, done that.”   “Gotta do what ya gotta do.”

As I sat there, listening to strangers pee and fart and everything else, I tried to relax. After all, the more relaxed I was, the faster the milk would flow, and the sooner I could get up from the nasty floor.

I stopped apologizing to each woman as she came in. I wasn’t sorry for anything. Not the boobs. Not the stretch marks. Not the noisy pump. Not for sitting in the way of the paper towels. None of it. 

I was proud to be sitting there, pumping my milk for my boy. He needs me, and that is way more important than the conference, the opinions, the germs, the stares. 

I started getting nods from ladies. The silent acknowledgement from mother to mother. I couldn’t have been more proud to earn a stanger’s approval. 

When my bottles were full, I turned off the pump, stood up, and dumped 10 ounces down the drain. (It was warm outside today and I forgot an ice pack and my insulated cooler.) Essentially, the pump session was worthless – but necessary. 

When I got home this evening, I couldn’t take off those pants that sat on the bathroom floor fast enough! I didn’t have as many baggies to add to my freezer stockpile, but I did make other kind of gains today. I gained a great deal of confidence, in myself as a woman and in myself as a working mother. 

The nod – I’ve earned my first. 

  

Samuel Hayes | 4 Months Old

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samuel hayes – 4 months old

Height/Length: 27.8″ long, putting him above the 99th percentile

Weight: 16 pounds, 5 ounces, putting him in the 66th percentile

Diapers: Size 3 Luvs are working great!

Clothes: We’ve said goodbye to his 6-month cotton sleepers, but the 6-month fleece ones still fit. 6-month onesies are getting snug in length and 6-month pants are starting to get tight in the booty. For Christmas our boy got lots of clothes, mostly 9 month stuff! And some 6-12 and 9-12 month onesies.

Eating: I’ve noticed a little bit of a change in Sammy’s eating habits. He no longer needs to eat all the time. He is taking as many ounces as you put in his bottle, most of the time. He does know how to stop if he is finished and doesn’t want more. While I’m at work, he still has 2 bottles, one every 3 to 4 hours, or just whenever he is hungry. We don’t hold him to a schedule. You wouldn’t want that if you were hungry, would you?

Of course, when is with me he nurses. From time to time he eats on both sides, but most of the time he eats on one side and is just hungry sooner than he would have been if he ate on both sides. He does get easily distracted while nursing, so nursing in a loud room is absolutely not an option. He’ll pop his head up (we call it gopher-ing) to check out what is going on.

Sleeping: He goes down around 9-10 p.m., sometimes earlier, and wakes up between 2 and 4 a.m. to eat. He usually sleeps until 6:15 a.m. when momma has to get ready for work. On the weekends he will eat again and fall back to sleep.

We have started using a Bedtime Mozart lullaby app and sometimes it sends him into a trance almost immediately! It’s helpful for the nights when he is so tired and fighting sleep. It doesn’t happen that often, thank goodness! He likes music in general.

Loves: His daddy! Over the past month, he has become OBSESSED with Jeremy. If Jeremy is in the room, Sammy wants to be able to see him. He smiles great big when daddy comes home and especially when he picks him up. Melts my heart!

Another new love is faces and hands. While he is nursing, he loves to touch my face. He grabs my lips, sticks his hand in my mouth, rubs in cheeks and chin. It’s so funny! Sometimes when he is nursing he will stroke my hand or just hold my hand. If I sit in the backseat with him when we go places, he loves to play with my fingers.

He has become interested in toys and has started using both hands to grab what he wants. We have noticed him using his thumb and index finger to pinch and try to pick up things… like the screenprinting on a t-shirt. It is amazing how he learns something new everything.

Standing! Let this boy put his weight on his two feet and he is so happy. He is so proud of himself too and look around to make sure everyone is noticing his trick!

Doesn’t like: Getting out of the bath or being overly tired. Truthfully, there isn’t a whole lot he absolutely doesn’t like.

Teething update: There was one day that I thought I saw a little bottom tooth making an appearance. He had a little bit of an elevated temp (99.2) and I decided to take off his long-sleeved onesie to see if he would cool off, and he did. I have not seen that little white spot again. He does chew on his hand quite a bit, but never seems bothered by anything in his mouth. Sometimes he is interested in teething toys, but not all the time.

Sounds: So much grunting and cooing. And, a squeal here and there! No sign of “mama” yet. 😉

Movement: My little rollie-pollie! Just after he hit the 3-month mark, he surprised me by rolling from back to stomach while I was making dinner and letting him entertain himself in the living room on the rug. For the next couple of weeks, he only rolled over when I set him down and stepped away. Now, it’s rare to have him stay on his back! He rolls both ways and will use his legs to push off of anything nearby. I have a feeling this guy will be mobile before most babies are. Eeek!

He likes to sit up, although he can’t do it on his own yet. He needs lots of support. He doesn’t like to lean back when I prop him up in my knees like he used to. He leans forward. I’ve also seen him try to sit up when he’s laying on his back! Strong boy!

Personality: Oh, he’s so funny and so easy-going! He has the best laugh and laughs at the strangest things. He likes it when I fake cough and jump. His tummy and neck are ticklish. Love it!

He certainly knows his mom and dad and both of his grandmas. He loves being snuggled and played with. He is super patient and is happy 90% of the time. He is very observant and is easily entertained by watching what is going on in a busy room. Such a sweet, sweet boy!

Fun things we did this month: Sammy’s first Christmas! He had a visit from his great-uncle Rob, who came all the way from Ohio to see our little guy. He met Santa, braved the crowds and did some Christmas shopping, all while being the happiest baby in the world.

Here are more photos of our sweet guy…

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IMG_2235I’m trying to show off how great he does pushing up… not all the laundry on the couch.

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I love my boy. He is the best.

Samuel Hayes | 3 Months Old

Our 3 month old son is becoming so fun. He is developing his own personality, and is such a sweetheart. Our third month was different than the first two, because I went back to work. It has been a time of transition, for me and for him, but we are doing well.

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samuel hayes – 3 months old

Height/Length: I’m guessing his is around 26-27″ although he hasn’t had an official measurement since his doctor appointment at 8 weeks

Weight: 15 pounds, I would assume

Diapers: Last month I posted about our diaper struggles. I am so happy/relieved to report that we have solved our diaper blunders for now. We love Luvs. Sammy is in a size 2 and they have been great. We have had a couple episodes of leakage, but no diaper is going to be able to contain ALL messes. I am so impressed by Luvs, and am thrilled that they are about half the price of Pampers. Score!

Clothes: 6 months for our boy! Some 6-9 month sleepers, just depends on length for our tall boy.

Eating: Sammy is such a good eater. I was apprehensive about returning to work and Sammy having more than one bottle a day. I was worried about him not being interested in nursing, because it is more work for him to nurse than it is to drink from a bottle.

I am so pleased that I have maintained a great milk supply and Sammy still loves to nurse.

Here’s a typical day for us: Nurse sometime between 6 and 7:30, and he is dropped off at my mother-in-law’s at 7:20 a.m. Depending our schedule for that morning I may let him nurse for a few minutes before I leave for work. We shoot to arrive there at 7:20 a.m. and I try to leave by 7:35 a.m. That gives him time to nurse if he would like. He typically takes a bottle around 8:30-9:00 a.m. depending on if he takes a quick snooze as soon as we get there. At 3 months old, he likes an 8 ounce bottle! Wow! If he does have such a big bottle in the morning, he will have a smaller bottle (4-7 oz.) in the afternoon. He is usually ready to eat when I pick him up at 5:00 p.m. He will nurse several times throughout the evening and nurses to sleep around 9:30-10:00 p.m.

Sleeping: The day before he turned 3 months old, he slept through the night! Then did it again. He generally wakes up once a night to eat, but doesn’t have a problem going back to sleep.

Loves: Diaper changes, the crinkly noise in some of his toys, drooling, sucking on his hand at times, looking around and exploring, splashing at bath time! Oh, and sticking his foot in the cup I use to rinse him at bath time.

Doesn’t like: Getting out of the bath

Movement: I have noticed him paying more attention to his hands. He studies them, puts his hands together, and splashes in the tub! His kicks are getting stronger all the time.

Personality: We have a laugher! Jeremy captured his first laugh on video and it is the best thing I have ever heard. Getting a belly laugh out of him is rare, but it’s the best thing ever. He is a sweet, patient boy who is laid back and loves to observe. He has started to figure out how to stick his tongue out and that is pretty entertaining.

Fun things we did this month: Momma went back to work, which means Sammy goes to his grandma’s house each day. Since we have been pretty busy with our new schedule, we haven’t gone out to experience many new things this month.

Sammy did wonderful at Thanksgiving and throughout (most) of our travels.

Here are more photos of our sweet guy…

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We love him more and more everyday, even though it doesn’t seem possible!