Adventures in Baby Purees: Pumpkin & Banana

    
    
    

pictures from age 9 months

 
Sweet & earthy, pumpkin provides a beautiful groundedness to the sweetness of overripe bananas. This recipe makes perfect use of browning bananas that get too mushy or soft to eat, otherwise.  I always keep a can of pureed pumpkin in my pantry.  That makes this recipe so low-maintenance and one of the reasons I love it so much and have been making on the regular since he’s started solids. And it’s a welcome food when he’s not feeling well or recovering, a delicate flavor with both ingredients being gentle and restorative to the digestive system.Pumpkins are loaded with potassium, fiber, beta carotene, & iron. One hiccup – this one can’t be frozen. But he almost always eats this faster than I can keep it around anyway!

Baby Food Details

Current Age: 12 months

Recipe:  “Yummy Bananas and Pumpkin ” recipe from the website “Wholesome Baby Food

Likes/Dislikes: He loves it! It pairs well with a solid creamy greek yogurt.  He will really eat this any time of day/ any day of the week! It is an all-time favorite here.

Happy adventuring!

Finding Meaning in ‘the pits’: Sick seasons with Babies & Toddlers

Alternatively titled: how to not beat yourself up when the kids are sick
I don’t have a good picture of what it looks like for everyone to be sick. But this cup of dandelion root tea will have to do. Liver cleansing. 

A few months ago I wrote a post about breastfeeding through the flu. I wish I could say it has been smooth sailing since then but it has been anything but smooth.  You name it we’ve had it this past sick season: flu, ear infections, thrush, RSV, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, more ear infections, more thrush, pink eye, coxsackie virus, more flu (thanks for nothing flu vaccine), strep pneumonia, and stomach virus. Don’t think for a minute that I think this is anywhere near over (the flu in April — really?!). Oh no I’ve learned better than that now.

Each time one set of sicknesses leaves us, I take a deep breath and start to mend my tattered sail. I might even pat myself on the back for a short moment: “Whew you made it through that one, mama. Look at you, stronger than you knew!” I start looking at the map again, “where are we? where were we going? let’s get going!”  I might even start to move along the choppy seas again, trying to find my rhythm after the storm. But before I get too comfy in my cautious optimism, the next storm comes out of nowhere. Another child down for the count. The sail that I thought was mended breaks much more easily this time and in more spots. And I am once again trying to navigate the storms of illness, weary and ill-equipped. My boat feels like it is about to tip over, turn wide, dip deep & fill with water. I can’t find the balance. 

The worst part is that I am such a problem solver that I think everything that goes wrong can and should be fixed. So I obsess about cause and effect. I beat myself up over every mis-step.

The doubts come fast and heavy, flooding and drown me. Are we not washing hands frequently enough? Is there something wrong with my breastmilk? I thought breastfed babies have higher immunity. Am I giving them the right kind of vitamins? Enough vitamins? Enough healthy food? Should we be using that antibacterial soap with the triclosan in it? Am I cleaning those pesky humidifiers often enough? Spirals and cycles of relentless self-doubt pound my sail in a deluge, adding to the heaviness of it all.

But I have discovered, through these storms, self-knowledge along the way and here’s the heart of it: the self-doubt is a dead-end. It is darkness and it is dizzying.  Trust — in a divine plan, an infinite intelligence — is healing, it is living breathing balm for soul that covers over, forgives, and finds a way to journey on in light and in love. Without blame or guilt or shame. In the loving embrace of a Heavenly Father, we can find peace. He carries us through the darkest hours & never grows weary.

So I hold tight and anchor my boat to Him. I turn off my mind that wants to reason and argue, blame and shame. And I promise myself not to try to explain the unexplainable, the seas ever-changing. The squalls come but I am anchored to the One whose peace runs deepest and I embrace whatever arises. I cease cursing the wind and rain, instead pausing to be with it and acknowledge its life force — fierce & consuming. My sail may get tattered but His healing Love never ends.  I breathe, long and slow, and drink my dandelion tea. And I remember that this storm is not bigger than Him.

Adventures in Baby Purees: Lentils & Sweet Potatoes

                  [pictures from age 8 mo] 

Smooth, sweet, & creamy, this lentil and sweet potato puree is packed with protein and a good source of iron. With a savory hint from the sautéed leek, it is the perfect balance between sweet and savory. Our little guy is digging it right now! It also makes a fairly big batch so I have lots left over to freeze without needing to double the recipe! 

Baby Food Details:

Age: 10 months

Recipe: Annabel Karmel’s “Lovely Lentils” recipe from her book “Top 100 Baby Purees” 

Likes/Dislikes: He is still not a fan of texture so I try to keep things smooth & pureed. He much prefers sweet over any strong onion or garlic flavor so I halved the amount of leek called for by this recipe. The sweet potatoes give it a lovely sweetness.

Happy adventuring!

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First Food for Baby: Sweet Potatoes

I get anxious about starting solids. I think it’s the breastfeeding mama in me feeling like I am introducing another love interest, creating a love triangle, & a sense a competition. I want my baby all to myself! 

But the truth is, as a mama I do recognize the developmental milestones that come along with starting solids.  And nothing, not even the creamiest yogurt, will replace the love & warmth & connection a baby receives from nursing with mama. 

With that, I’ve found entry into the solid food domain can be tricky with a half step forward and a few steps backward. One day they gobble it up and the next 3 they act uninterested. So even though I am a passionate homemade baby food enthusiast, the first few weeks of trial and error can really put a damper on all that hard work of dicing and steaming and purée-ing only to watch so much of it go to waste. So I like to start out slow. One of my favorite ways to do that is with individual sweet potatoes.



As a family we eat sweet potatoes with dinner 3 of 7 nights most weeks. So to throw another one in to cook doesn’t take much extra effort. We usually make three at a time but I’m going to share how I would make just one for ease here. To cook a single sweet potato in the microwave, I score it with a knife (like the seams of a football) and microwave it for about 7-8 minutes depending on size of potato and microwave wattage.



Once it’s fully soft and starting to open along the seams, I slice it open and mash the sweet potato flesh.  I like to keep it simple so I may or may not add a pat of butter and usually do add a sprinkle of cinnamon for another layer of flavor.  Then I remove all of the sweet potato from the skin and thin it out with some water or milk (breast milk or cows milk work fine). 



Then, in batches, I put the mixture through a small mesh strainer to strain out any chunks and make it a really smooth purée. When baby is older, this step becomes unnecceary as they adapt to texture and get the hang of chewing. 



Once it’s through the strainer it looks like this! Perfect for a few bites at the dinner table on a weeknight with the family! 



Our little dude is 8 months here but we have been experimenting with this for the past 5 weeks or so. He loves sweet potatoes and I love that our littlest one is now joining the rest of us with sweet potatoes at the dinner table. As my almost-3-year-old would say “All the family has one! All Same!!” 

After a long day of work, it’s super quick and something I can feel good about feeding him.  And if he only takes a bite or two, I’m no worse for the wear. 

What are some of your favorite quick & healthy options to prepare for your little one as they begin solids? 

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Friday Favorites

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With the end of January here and the simple freshness of a brand new year waning, I’m renewing my intentions to be more gracious, forgiving, and patient with myself. To get it right, no matter the tries because Love is infinite tries. To get it right, despite the unexpected twists along the way, because Love shines brightest just after the rain. And mostly, giving myself grace to get it right, no matter the day of the week or month of the year. Because Love is always new and fresh each moment.

With that, a few favorites on the web these days.

One of the most important aspects of parenthood I’m trying to get right these days is this: accepting my toddler’s full range of emotions, especially the difficult ones.

Each 29th of month that greets us with our boy one month older, I seem to get overcome by the significance of each passing moment. This list of advice has me feeling sentimental and grateful. My favorite is #10: “When your child hugs you, never be the first one to let go.”

Do you host dinners at your house? I am swooning over this story that focuses on the beauty and the simplicity of gathering around a table and inviting people to meet us right where we are.

This nursing compression tank looks amazing for so many reasons

Have you ever had your microbiome tested? This podcast was incredibly intriguing and inspiring.

And a great quote I’m keeping handy as Feb begins to embrace the living that occurs outside my comfort zone: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

Happy New Year & a Dinner Recipe!

There is something that resonates so deeply with me about the closing up of a year, on the brink of a new one. Each year I find myself indulging in two celebratory rituals:

(1) Pausing: This includes reminiscing about the year that’s passed, adventures embarked upon & traditions embraced, moments well-lived. And with this savoring, marking the passage of time, I pause to soak it all in. And in the pausing I begin to envision and daydream, imagination soaring as high as it will go, about how I can bring the best out of the coming year.

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(2) Cooking a special meal: I indulge in the gift of time, reveling the extra moments to be in the kitchen, losing track of time as it passes — simmering and seasoning, chopping and grating, the unforced rhythms I used to take for granted before motherhood.

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6 Things I Learned When Breastfeeding Through the Flu

The flu visited our house last week and overstayed it’s welcome — as in, it’s still here. Visiting. Making our lives more strained than we ever bargained for the week before Christmas.

Of the many complexities an illness brings to our family with wee ones, one of the biggest is that of keeping the littlest baby healthy & strong, particularly because our baby is under 6 months, meaning he isn’t eligible for the vaccine and with mama sick, his source of nourishment (breastmilk) is at risk.

But with this flu strain being more severe & not covered by the current vaccine, I know I’m likely not alone so here us what I’ve learned.

1. Not only is breastfeeding recommended during the flu but it is the gold standard.
I mean, I didn’t really doubt this but I looked it up to be sure and I found out that, really, there are very few & extremely rare instances in which a hiatus from breastfeeding might actually be required (when a disease might be transmitted through the milk). It does not include when mama gets the flu. So we are pushing through, breastfeeding often & on demand. And hoping the defenses my immune system is building, is passed through the milk to protect him too – preventing illness all together or if he does get sick, the gained immunity may mean he’s not as sick as me.

2. Pumping my breastmilk for (healthy) dad to bottle feed turned out to be a non-option.
On the first day I experienced flu symptoms, I was completely down and out. I wanted to crawl into bed and remain undisturbed. So naturally, I asked Husband to prep a bottle with some fresh breast milk that happened to be in the fridge (what luck!) and I would pump after I got some rest. However, my attempt at nap was soon interrupted with a frustrated baby & daddy. Here’s the thing – babies know when you are around. It’s like they have a 6th sense – they can smell you from 10 rooms away. I suppose this comes in handy for things like survival but when it comes to the flu – it was not helpful. While I did want rest, I also wanted to cuddle my baby for a breastfeeding session. I was just so afraid of exposing him to any germs I might have.

3. Limit face-to-face contact by wearing a mask.
This was the single defining factor that made me feel more comfortable breastfeeding during those early days where I felt like I was a walking plague. Wearing a mask during breastfeeding was a physical reminder for me not to inadvertently kiss him out of habit. Wearing a mask also protects germs from spreading if I have to sneeze, cough, etc. while breastfeeding.

4. My supply diminished and there were some fleeting moments of panic
Dehydration, not enough rest, and an immune system that is kicked into high gear are all factors that decreased my milk supply. Nursing often is a sure way to keep supply up. Breasts work on supply-and-demand so they must be emptied frequently to get the message to continue to fill up. I think nursing frequently is the biggest equation in the factor but it’s also the hardest. When I struggled with this, I turned to foods when I was finally feeling up for eating again. Foods that increase milk supply (or galactagogues) that I keep handy include: oats, brewers yeast, fennel seeds, & garlic (bonus – garlic is known to help fight infection too!). Nursing Support Tea is my saving grace when my appetite is just returning but not ready for anything too heavy yet. This tea is warm, fragrant, and soothing with a lovely blend of herbs that help to increase milk supply.

5. Low supply is fixable
After a few days with the flu, it seemed like my low supply was dragging on & his appetite was just not getting satiated. Feeling like I was failing him, I felt hopeless. Thoughts briefly crossed my mind about possibly supplementing but I knew I couldn’t bear to go down that road. So I buckled down and focused on hydration — drinking not only water now but bottles upon bottles of Gatorade. This was a fun way to get in more fluids and also track my progress because I kept losing track of how many times my water bottle got refilled (short answer: not enough!). I got to bed early, took naps when my littles did, and slept in when it was feasible (ha!).

6. Most medications for the flu are okay to take while breastfeeding
Pre-motherhood, I probably wouldn’t have taken much -perhaps resting & riding it out. But much to my dismay, I learned that motherhood requires me to be functioning. I stuck to acetaminophen to keep me feeling functional and avoided anything else, particularly ones that might impact milk supply or be unsafe for lactating moms.

So there you have it – things I’m learning as I get through the flu for the first time while breastfeeding. Godspeed & good health to you, mamas!

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Sacred Moments: 10 Things to Do While Pumping for your Breastfed Baby

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I’ve been back to work for 2 months now and getting settled into a pumping routine has been a top priority. There is a bright & airy empty office that has been assigned as my pumping room. It is my getaway — a peaceful place of solace in the midst of the hectic rush of the day, blank walls, a clean careening desk, high windows with sunlight streaming in past the neighboring skyscrapers, 20 floors closer to the brazen sun. There is something special about knowing that sandwiched in between the rush of daycare drop offs, the maze of mass transit schedules, the craze of emails and discussions that need to fit into the short hours of each day, that there’s this — a continuous set of quiet moments, smushed together, back-to-back — these moments of quiet time to turn off my monkey brain and tend to my babe even though he is nowhere near me. My mind almost explodes when I think of the possibilities of what can be done with this time.

A study was recently published that confirmed the transcendence of the nursing relationship beyond just meeting physical hunger.

The study suggests that breast milk delivers more than just nutrients to the baby — messages are transmitted as well . In the study, “infant monkeys relied on cortisol [present in the breast milk] to detect the condition of their mothers, the authors suggest, then adjust their growth and even shift their temperaments.” That means that when mom is under high stress conditions or hasn’t completely unraveled from the tense negotiations in an earlier meeting, the heightened stress hormones, like cortisol are still coursing through the bloodstream & into the milk supply. And the chronic stress & worry we may feel as parents, there’s that baseline of stress present too.

So as I nestle myself into my oasis in the midst of it all, smushed breasts, whirring machine, I resolve. I resolve to foster conditions that are peaceful & calming, quiet & uninterrupted, thinking only about this moment. This moment that I pour my energy out – physical & spiritual – for my little one to drink up. And I pray the drink is one that delivers a message that there is enough and that he is enough and I am enough. That the world is inherently good and life is inherently funny and people are for us – a message often forgotten in the day-to-day hustle.

The resolve is fresh, renewed each day. It doesn’t come automatically. Yet. But one of the beautiful provisions of motherhood is we get to do the same things each day, perhaps repetitive & tiresome, but full of unbounded opportunity. To turn mundane tasks into a prayer, to create a loving intention, to believe that we are making a difference by being present, in the little things, day in & day out. It is the holy work of raising human beings.

Here’s my list. The one I keep coming to over & over again when I need to remind myself of the importance we hold for our children — as a giver of good energy, bestower of blessings — even in the seemingly mundane task of pumping breast milk.

1. Read an ebook – to ease into the good energies, I love a good laugh like the ones I find here and here. Or an inspirational read, like this one.

2. Meditate – Deepak Chopra & Oprah offer some great 21-day series together – free! I also enjoy meditations led by this lady and this lady.

3. Watch videos of your baby(ies) – this will stimulate feelings of connection as well as your flow of breastmilk, feel less connected to a piece of machinery & more connected to your little one.

4. Pray – take all your worries & lift them up in prayer

5. Memorize scripturethis one is a favorite

6. Do a bible study or devotional – reading a new chapter each day or focusing on one book a month. this guide looks great for the Advent season.

7. Email your baby – tell them the latest thing they did that was so cool or funny or charming or surprising or more likely completely exhausting to you

8. Make to-do lists – if you’re anything like me, making & organizing to-do lists is strangely calming and satisfying

9. Relaxation techniques – observe your body for tensions, let them go by breathing deeply & slowly

10. Scroll through an inspirational quotes board on Pinterest – so many good quotes, never enough time!

Happy Pumping, Mamas.

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Our Halloween Candy Solutions

“I’m two and a HALF!” she says.

Last week, at 2 1/2 years old, we took our daughter trick or treating for the first time! She could not have been a happier Minnie Mouse, walking from house to house with her 2 1/2 year old little friend, knocking on doors. And jumping in leaf piles, of course.

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Little legs can only walk so far so we decided to only visit about 10 houses. But when each house gave out 2-3 pieces of candy, well, she ended up with a pretty full bucket and the dilemma set in for Husband and I….what to do with all that candy?

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Here are a few ideas we came up with (we went with #1 this year and it was a big success).

1. Invite the Switch Witch – The Switch Witch poem as described in <a href=”http://www.natural.bm/kids/susie-switch/”>this poem </a> is a good witch that visits children’s homes on Halloween night and while the children sleep, she takes (not steals, she is an invited guest) the candy that the children leave for her while leaving a toy in its place. Husband and I both loved this idea and think that this age is perfect for a fairy-tales, with all their wonder and awe. After dinner on Halloween night, we let her choose a treat to eat (naturally, a lollipop) and then shared with her the poem. She was very excited about the “fitch witch” and was very curious, asking me questions throughout bath time. Then it was time to choose her candy. We let her keep seven pieces, placed carefully in a pumpkin bag that was protected by mom & dad (“fitch witch not get this, ok mommy?”) and the rest of her loot was in her bucket on a little table in her room. She made sure to tell me that she would prefer if Susie did not take her festive bucket, please. And then proceeded to hide under the covers because “don’t want her to pinch!” I gently reminded her that Susie is a friendly witch. She slept so soundly and in the morning was delighted to find that Susie left her bucket (!) and a dress-up pair of Minnie Mouse light-up high heels! And she doesn’t miss the candy a bit with the seven pieces she set aside to enjoy during the week. It was the perfect extra touch to make Halloween extra special. [Warning: I can imagine this might go over differently depending on the child’s disposition so be sure to ask the child first if they would like to invite Susie or not – no use scaring them, otherwise!]

2. Donate it – This can be a great lesson on giving for children of all ages. There are many national and local initiatives that work to collect and distribute donated candy to less fortunate children and troops. Some places to look into include your church/temple/place of worship, <a href=”https://www.operationgratitude.com/halloween-candy-buy-back-2012/”>Operation Gratitude</a>, <a href=”https://operationshoebox.com/how-you-can-help/candy-donations/”>Operation Shoebox</a>, and Ronald McDonald houses.

3. Bake – The amount of sugar and chocolate can just be overwhelming when it is sitting a big bucket all together. But diluted with some good wholesome ingredients, can still be enjoyed without the feeling of overindulgence. Some fun ideas include these <a href=”http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/candy-bag-banana-treats-clinton-kelly”>candy bag banana treats </a>(maybe substitute the chocolate chips with carob to make it a little healthier), <a href=”http://cookiesandcups.com/snickers-popcorn/”>snickers popcorn</a>. Or toss those extra skittles, M&Ms, and candy corn with some nuts & dried fruit for a festive trail mix.

4. Host an Adult Wine & Candy Pairing Event – I love the idea of adults mixing their youth with their maturity and what says that better than Halloween candy & wine?

Cheers to a happily-ever-after Halloween!

A Summer State of Mind: Mango Black Bean Salsa

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Note: So I actually wrote this post at the end of September & considering Halloween is less than 10 days away now — that fact may help put the first sentence into context! I’m still trying to find a rhythm with blogging and hope to get there soon.

It is officially Fall, there is a chill in the morning Chicago air, Halloween costumes are on sale, and the aisles are lined with candy and caramel apples. In our house, we are heaving one last summery gasp as we hold tight to a summer that seems to have passed in a blink.  Our first few weeks of summer were spent in anticipation for our sweet second baby to join us, long days spent at the park to pass time, holding hands, clamy & tight. Then he arrived!! And the next few weeks were spent inside mostly, getting to know our new dude. And as anyone experiencing a brand new life knows, thieves of time in all their adorableness, you blink and a season has passed.  Longing to have more days filled with hot sun, root beer floats, a ballgame hot dog, and smores, we continue right on making the flavors that keep us steady and unmoving in the season of our minds.  Some flavors we really soaked up this summer included fresh cilantro, mangos, and limes.  And this recipe has just the combination that takes our palette to a summer state of mind. 

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Inspiration for this recipe came from here. It’s easy to make a few days ahead to let the flavors marry or day-of (just as tasty) and load it on top of grilled chicken and a bed of rice.  This salsa can be fairly quick to whip together with all the ingredients easy to keep handy in the pantry. The only limiting factor I tend to have is the cilantro (time to grow my own?). Otherwise, that is the thing I always have to run to the market for.

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And while I certainly could use a little work on “respecting the seasons” as Mario Batalli would say, for now, I’ll take this last gasp of summer & savor it all for the moment.

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