Archive for September, 2008

I wish I had enjoyed having uninterrupted time in the kitchen before I had Ava.  I guess that’s one of those things that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  Deep down, I really do enjoy cooking, but it’s hard to remember that when I’m always rushed when I’m in the kitchen.

That’s why I’m always interested in finding ways to save time on both food prep and cleanup.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Buy meat in large quantities, cook it all at once, divide it into meal-size portions and refreeze it.  I do this with ground beef and both my mom and I buy whole turkeys to do this with.  This is honestly my biggest time-saver of all.
  2. To quickly clean pots or pans, boil a little vinegar and water in them.
  3. When you’re making a meal that would freeze well (pretty much all casseroles), double it and freeze it in a greased casserole dish.  The next day, fill the sink with an inch or two of hot water, put the casserole dish in it for about a minute and the entire casserole will pop out easily.  Then your dish won’t be out of commission in the freezer and you can keep the casserole either in a zip-loc bag or wrapped in aluminum foil.
  4. Keep a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker in your kitchen.  When you’re putting away leftovers, write the name of the food and the date on the tape and place it on the lid.
  5. Make a menu before doing the grocery shopping.  This saves tons of time with not having to make frequent trips to the store during the week.  It also saves time because you don’t have to go through your cabinets and refrigerator at 5:00 wondering what on earth you’re going to make for dinner!
  6. If you don’t use an entire green pepper for a dish, chop the rest of it up and freeze it for future use.

It’s so easy to just plug in to whatever your electronic device of choice and tune the world out these days. Kids seem to be plugging in earlier and earlier and I have noticed that this new trend seems to be driving a wedge in family closeness…if we let it.

Here are some ideas for reconnecting or staying connected with your family members.

Start the day off with snuggles! Wake up your little one by getting in bed with them for an early morning cuddle. Lie quietly together for a few minutes to begin the day.

Family hugs are great! Start it off with a hug between mom and dad and then invite everyone to join. Kids love the feeling of everyone connected in one giant hug.

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours! The next time everyone is just hanging out in the livingroom doing their thing, offer someone a backscratch swap and pass it around. See how much kids love this!

Primp the hair.
Someone gently brushing your hair is one of those nurturing things that just feels so good. Children with very short hair can be the “brusher.” Watch the kids calm with some quiet music and some TLC.

Snuggle in bed.
Pick a weekend night and let everyone snuggle themselves off to dreamland. This is good for kids big enough to sleep in a big bed but who still love a snuggle. Move everyone to their own beds once asleep.

I received good news at my 38 week doctor appointment yesterday!  I’ve made progress this time…I’m 5.5, almost 6 cm dilated and the baby’s head is at -1 or -2 station.  So we’re basically expecting him at any time!

One thing we’re getting ready for that we didn’t have to think about last time around is how to make the transition easier for our 18-month-old.  Here are some tips that we’re using or are planning to use:

  1. We bought her a “special” baby doll a month or so ago (special just because it’s new LOL) and some bottles to go with it.  Since then she’s been practicing holding and feeding her baby.  She already understands that babies need to be watched because if she’s tired of playing with her baby, she gives it and its bottles to Chad or me and gets mad if we set them down.  We also bought her a set of baby doll gear such as car seat, stroller, bouncer, swing, playpen, diapers, bibs, etc. that we’ll give her as soon as the baby comes so she can do with her baby what she sees Mommy doing with her baby brother.
  2. We plan to have the baby in his bed when she arrives the first time she comes to the hospital to meet him.
  3. We plan to set aside special “Daddy and Ava” and “Mommy and Ava” times every day and let her decide what kinds of activities we do during those times.

We’re also prepared for her sleep schedule and probably plenty of other things to get “messed up” as we all adjust to having another baby in the house.  Hopefully being mentally prepared for it will help us to cope with it a little better!

New guidelines have been released that now recommend that mothers should breastfeed their babies for the first six months without adding any additional solid foods or formula. Experts from the World Health Organization support these new guidelines and this replaces previous guidelines that recommended adding solid foods or formula to a baby’s diet at four to six months. This includes formulas and all solids foods (cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, any other infant foods).

The longer a woman breastfeeds her baby, the less chance the child will have of developing food allergies and other allergic reactions such as eczema and asthma. Breast milk is a great source of an immunoglobulin called secretory IGA. This ingredient effectively coats the intestines and keeps food allergens from entering the bloodstream.

The Many Benefits of Breastfeeding:

* fewer digestive problems

* fewer ear infections

* fewer allergies

The reason breastfed babies receive these health benefits is because breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight off many illnesses. Exclusively breastfeeding for six months gives even better protection against gastrointestinal infections that often cause diarrhea.

* Studies have also shown that breastfed babies have IQs of at least 6.8 points higher. This has been connected to breast feeding.

* Breast fed babies also have another edge over formula fed babies in heart disease risk factors as adults. This is according to a study presented at the American Heart Association.

* Adults who were breast fed have lower body mass index (BMI) levels on average, and have higher HDL cholesterol levels than their formula-fed peers. Having higher HDL levels and a lower BMI is considered advantageous in avoiding cardiovascular disease.

* Breast feeding has also been shown to protect the mother against future breast cancer.

The Canadian Pediatric Society now states that in addition to not introducing babies to solid foods before six months, it is beneficial to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond. Health professionals struggle to get women to continue breastfeeding for longer durations. Less than 20% of mothers are now breast feeding for 6 months because the media bombards women with the commercialization of everything. The central message is that if you’re a modern mom, you will formula feed and supplement.

Even when breast feeding, if an infant is fed solid foods (especially any that contain protein such as wheat, soy, and dairy) before the intestinal lining is mature, food allergens will seep into the bloodstream. This can cause the baby to build up antibodies to those allergens and later become sensitive to those foods. Mature intestines have a stronger ability to screen out these potential allergens and keep them from entering the bloodstream.

Breastfeeding is still the best choice of nutrition for babies between four and seven months. At this age a baby’s intestinal lining goes through a developmental growth spurt known as “closure.” This means that the intestinal lining becomes more selective about what to let through. By six to seven months of age a baby’s body has the ability to filter out more of these offending allergens.

This illustrates why breast feeding is particularly important and why delaying solids is especially important if there is a family history of food allergies.

Did you know that tomorrow (September 16) is the national Step Up For Kids Day ?  The goal of this day is to raise awareness about the issues that today’s kids face, such poverty, health care, learning, after school programs, child abuse and more.  Dr. T. Berry Brazelton will be kicking the event off in Washington DC and there will be gatherings on the steps of all 50 state capitols across the nation.  If you live in or near a capitol city like we do, you should join in!  We’ll definitely be there!

What mother can’t use a little boost of inspiration in the kitchen from time to time?

Here are some newer websites that offer recipes, cooking tips, and are sources for ingredients and other items you may not normally run across.

Definitely worth exploring:

  • chef2chef.net: A great resource for the best place to get many cooking supplies and ingredients.
  • earthy.com: A great place to find obscure and unusual ingredients.
  • foodreference.com: This is the site to go to when you just have to find out how green goddess dressing got its name. Lots of great info here.
  • foodgeeks.com: Recipes, a food community, and even a food encyclopedia!
  • culinarycafe.com: Recipes, cooking tips, and chat available. This is a great place to find others and discuss recipes or what’s for dinner.
  • ethnicgrocer.com: Find recipes from any country and then even buy the ingredients you need to make it on the site.
  • recipesource.com: A great source for recipes and just food in general from just about every country imaginable.
  • ivu.org: The International Vegetarian Union has great international vegetarian recipes.

There you go! That should take care of you all for a while. Please let me know if you find something great…I’d love to hear about it!

In the last few months, Ava has become quite the little artist.  She’s constantly producing new creations with markers, crayons, paints (I love Color Wonder!), and stickers.  It wasn’t so bad in the beginning, but now we have so many creations I don’t know what to do with them all!  Right now, we’re keeping them all in her desk, but that’s starting to get full!  While I’m not normally a pack rat, I am when it comes to things she made.  I just can’t bear to throw any of it out.  But saving every piece of artwork that she makes over the next 20 years just isn’t reasonable.  We’d have to have another house just to hold her art!

So I’ve been doing some reading around and I think we have a plan.

First, we’re going to designate a spot to display her newest creations.  Right now, I’m thinking the front of the refrigerator, but I’m not completely sure.

We’re going to clean off the “gallery” (wherever it may be) once a week and keep the best pieces.  We’ll keep the keepers either in a box or in her desk.

Then, maybe once every 6 months or so (I haven’t decided for sure how long), we’ll go through the box and decide which ones we’re keeping forever.  I think we’ll probably keep these in a Rubbermaid bin.

Hopefully this plan will make it easier for both Ava and I to let go of some of the less artistic pieces (you know, the ones with one crayon line on them) because there will be some time between when she created it and when we’re deciding what to do with it.

While reading around, I also found some good ideas for what to do with the ones that I’m not sure if we should save or not.  One site suggested taking pictures of those pieces and keeping them in a photo album.  That way they’re not taking up as much space.  Another site suggested scanning them into the computer and rotating them for use as screen savers.  I think both ideas are really good, but I’m leaning toward having them on the computer since they won’t be taking up any physical space then.

P.S. In case anyone was wondering, I am still very pregnant!

We’re getting down to the wire here so I thought we might just need a fun contest about

Kelvin’s imminent arrival!

Lora had her 36 week OB appointment yesterday and found out that she is 4 CM dialated!  We were expecting some dilation because she dilated early with Ava…but this was a little more than we thought we would hear!

So…Ava was born about a week and a half early and weighed 7 lbs 11 oz.

Care to register a guess?  Closest guess without going past the date and time wins 2,000 EC!

Include in your guess:

  • Date:
  • Time:
  • Weight:
  • Length:

Closest guess on all four parts without going over on the date and time wins!  Enter your guess here with a comment!

Good luck!

Now that we’re finally having temperatures that don’t cause us to feel like we’re melting the second we set foot out the door, we’ve been spending a lot more time outside.  Ava loves being outside, so we’ve been going out 2-3 times a day. That’s a lot of time outside, so we’ve had to be creative and find different activities to do out there.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Splashing in puddles.  This one is first on the list, because it’s Ava’s absolute favorite.  She would splash in puddles all day if I let her!  But there aren’t always puddles, which is why there are other things on this list!
  2. Gardening.  We don’t have an actual garden (because I’m sure I would kill it if we did), but we do have landscaping plants that need to be watered and weeded and Ava loves helping with this.  She especially likes using the gardening tools!
  3. Bubbles.  Ava’s not too good at blowing them yet, but she loves chasing them around.
  4. Sidewalk chalk.  We got those little sidewalk chalk holders, so it doesn’t get all over her hands and clothes.  I love those things!!
  5. Walking…without the dog!  She really likes going for little walks around the yard and being able to stop and examine whatever she wants without having the dog pulling us along.
  6. Playing ball.  We have several different-size balls that she really likes.

I feel awful today! My allergies are kicking my butt and now that I finally gave in and took an antihystamine I am falling asleep in mid-sentence with my kids. This got me to thinking…how can we moms cope when we don’t feel well but we can’t “call in sick?” It’s hard!

Here are a few ideas off the top of my head for coping with days when you don’t feel well.

Rest

When you are not feeling well, a great thing to do is to use all the times during the day when you normally would pay bills, scrub the floor, or do some other job and spend it on the couch instead. Ten minutes here and another ten there can get you at least a little extra rest when you’re not feeling well.

Ask For Help

Do your best to communicate your needs to your “support network” around you. If your support network is limited, even older siblings can be asked to help out more than usual. Don’t worry…they won’t be scarred for life if you ask them to help out a little extra for a day or two.

Lower Your Expectations

Yup. Unless it absolutely can’t be ignored…leave it for the next day. Although many of us shudder at the idea, clutter management, laundry, vacuuming, and even the dishes can wait if they have to.

Love Your Kids

Spend your down time snuggling with your kids. Reading books, telling stories, or just cuddling can all be done from the couch. They’ll love the extra attention and you’ll feel good about giving them some extra time even when you’re not feeling well.

A little time and extra TLC will hopefully be all that is needed to get you back on your feet again. Until then…do what you can and just try to get through it!

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