Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baby Advice and Essentials- Talk to me!

I am curious. What did you moms or dads find was helpful advice when you had your little ones?

I have had a rash of friends who have become pregnant, or just had babies. Some of them are first time parents, and some are second and thirds. It makes me wonder if I will think I know what I'm doing the next time around, or if I will feel as clueless as I did the first time.

So how about it? First time parents, have several kids, grandparents, single or childless? Are your babies new, or teenagers? I want to know your opinion.

Also, what were the products, tips, and tricks that you couldn't live without? What were your essentials?
I could probably think really hard and maybe come up with a big fat list, but I will just mention a few things.

  • When I was pumping my milk, I loved Lansinoh breast milk bags. I had a few cheap moments when I used regular Ziplock bags, but those were shockingly thin and less sturdy than I wanted. We went through a lot of these bad boys.

  • I loved our little "gym" that we got for Abby. She loved it and was always entertained by it. I finally put it away only about 6 months ago. If I get it out now for another baby to play with, she tries to lay on it and play with it some more. We have a rainforest that plays music and has subtle sounds, and soft colored lights; I don't think it matters what kind you get, but it helps entertain them, and I think it helped her to learn to reach and accomplish some developmental milestones. I have lost count how many times we have said to ourselves what a good buy that was.

  • I loved my Boppy. It was great for breastfeeding, sure, but also for snuggling and playing in my lap afterwards, and when the baby is too little to go anywhere, it is so convenient to throw a blanket over it and let the baby hang out in the nook. We did tummy time quite a bit on the Boppy too. I bought this exact one (the cherries weren't my first choice, but that's what they had the day I went shopping) and found an extra cover at Kid 2 Kid for about $3. It was good to have an extra.

  • I liked Huggies diapers better than Pampers, because Pampers have a smell designed to dilute the smell of poop; I'd sniff and try to determine if I needed to change her, or if she was still dry. I ended up associating that entire scent with poop and would catch a whiff of a clean diaper and think it smelled bad. It doesn't, of course, that's just me. Every baby's body is different, too, and may take well to a certain brand. My niece had skinny little legs and needed a diaper that would prevent her from leaking through there; Abby sent hers mostly up her back. I also prefer Huggies wipes over any other, too.
  • Baby carrier. I wanted a Baby Bjorn but we got a far cheaper Infantino model, which nevertheless did the trick. It helped a lot on trips, or doing things around the house where it would be too tiresome to hold the baby in your arms for an extended period of time.
  • We were given a little bassinet-sized pack and play that ended up being super useful during Abby's newborn days. She slept in it in our room before she was ready to be in her crib. We had it in our room for the nights, and we wheeled it out during the day. It is smaller, and a lot easier to maneuver than the regular size, which made it ideal for literally carting it everywhere around the house. Abby loved to break free from her swaddle and really stretch out, so we made the switch over to her crib in her own room around 3 months old. She slept through the night that first night in her crib, and never looked back. I still love that little pack and play, even though we stopped using it after only 3 months. We used the crap out of it, which would have made it totally worth its price, had we actually bought it! 

  • We found the Bumbo to be a lot more useful than we originally thought it would be. Our friends bought it for us complete with a removable tray, and that is what Abby ended up eating in/on until we finally bought a high chair months later. They advise up the wazoo to not put it on the table with your child in it, but I believe that is to avoid any legal troubles if your baby falls. We supervised her and fed her on the table every day. It was too hard on the floor to bend over all the time. For a solid 6 months, if you came over, you'd see the Bumbo on our table every second of the day.

  • I really loved our car seat cover. I saw them everywhere a year or so before I got pregnant, and I thought it looked cute and I knew I wanted one someday. I found it far more practical than decorative. I loved being able to cover the car seat whenever I was out and have it muffle whatever noise was around us enough that she could sleep. It protected her from the sun, from light rain showers, germs, second hand smoke... if she was awake in her car seat and ready to sleep, I'd cover her up and rock the car seat with my foot and she'd be out in a few minutes. Love it.

So I'm asking to hear some of your advice. I know some people love to give it, and some people really hate to receive it, but I think it'll be fun to see what people have to say.

Parting question: Is Sophie the Giraffe really as great as everyone thinks she is? Does she replace the old classic teething ring? Is she sturdy, or a little flexible?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Carrot Cake Muffins {Sugar-free!}

Let me introduce you to one of the ways that Abby will eat her vegetables: in some sort of baked good. I've done this with zucchini, but as it isn't really in season, I wanted something I could make now. I found this recipe and modified it slightly.

Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins

1 ½ C Whole Wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
¼ t salt
1 T cinnamon (I also added about ½ t nutmeg)
1 C wheat germ
1 1/3 C milk
1/3 C olive oil (you could substitute with applesauce too)
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 C grated carrots (about 3-5)
1 ripe banana
*I added ½ C of oats too

*If your husband decides that a recipe for muffins with no sugar is too unbearable, you may add ¼- ½ C of brown sugar.

-Preheat oven to 350. Line and spray muffin pan. Mix flour, soda, powder, salt, cinnamon (and nutmeg and oats) in a large bowl. These are your dry ingredients. Set aside. Beat in another bowl wheat germ, milk, oil, and eggs. Let sit for 5 minutes. These are your wet ingredients. In yet another bowl, mash banana and vanilla together. Stir in grated carrot. These are the filling ingredients.
-Pour filling mixture onto the wet ingredients and stir. Pour that mixture over the dry ingredients. Don’t over-stir. Fold in raisins.
-Evenly spoon into muffin pan, having the batter almost reach the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until light brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 2 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Yield: 22-24 muffuns.
Calories per muffin: 105

I had to make a few modifications based on what I had on hand. I didn’t have 1 whole cup of wheat germ, I only had about 2 T. (1 C of wheat germ is 400 calories- I don't know if I'll ever use the entire cup!)
The original recipe that I modified this from called for 1T each of flax seed and chia seeds, and I didn't have those, but I liked the idea of texture, so I added ½ C of oats- added to the dry ingredients. I used vegetable oil instead of olive oil, however next time I think I’ll just use applesauce. (The oil alone was 640 calories! Made with applesauce instead, each muffin would only be 76 calories each!)
Also, we are not a very raisin-friendly household, so I didn’t have any on hand. I don’t mind them in baked goods, but I didn’t have them today. I think Abby likes them, and it’s a good toddler snack, so next time I want to use them too. Otherwise, I made them as is. I only got 22 muffins, but if not filled so full, and probably with raisins, they might make 24.

If you omit the raisins, they are 94 calories per muffin.

Made with my modifications, each muffin comes to 84 calories per muffin.

If your husband has a hissy fit and you decide to add ½ C of brown sugar, they will come out to be 113 calories per muffin.

Final verdict: They are great! Abby approved. I ended up mixing the second half of my batter with some brown sugar, and those were even better than the no sugar ones (I know, you're shocked.)  Imagine these warm out of the oven with some butter, or better yet, some almond butter. Mmmmmm.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Photo Bomb

Last Sunday, Abby trying on Mom's shoes and headband:

Always running; I am shocked I got the next photos:

I seriously love this little girl.

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's great to be 8!

I'm a terrible sham of a blogger, or whatever it is I am. I can't even get it together to post about my husband's birthday! So here it is, over a week late!

Some of you may know (probably all of you, since about 5 people probably look at this thing!) that Spencer's birthday falls on Leap Year! He is a big fat 32 years old, but was able to celebrate his 8th birthday last Wednesday!

Abby helped me collect some birthday balloons, and we patiently waited for Spencer and his parents to arrive through the surprise snow storm that had started about an hour before we were supposed to go out to dinner with them. (Well, it was a surprise to me!)

Luckily no one died. And we got to go out to dinner after all. Phew.

Ab was very good at opening her dad's presents. Like, she got really into it. Really into it.

Hi Marti and Dennis! Thanks for driving in the snow to see us!

Frosted brownies requested from the birthday boy. They are SO good, if I do say so myself. Why yes, I will give you the recipe, if you ask nicely.

I love that boy. I can still call him a boy, cause he's only 8, after all.
See you in 2016, birthday boy!