Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring Shopping Fever or Get Your Frugal On

Just got back from the mall today with Mom and saw some really cute kid clothes at Old Navy and The Children's Place ($5 Spring polos!). I feel so conflicted though, attempting to plan ahead and buy for future seasons, but not knowing how big Caleb will be then. I exchanged many baby clothes when I was pregnant with him for larger sizes and the appropriate season, but he has been unable to wear them due to his larger size. What's a girl to do? Well, I still don't know...but spending money on full-priced clothes is not part of the solution.

I'm thinking.....SpRiNg CoNsIgNmEnT SaLeS!

What I just stumbled upon...(and man, I have a knack for doing that) was this:

Consignment Mommies which is a searchable, rateable, and highly organized site on all the consignment sales in your area. Score!

After having now discovered that there are 33 sales scheduled within the next few months in my area....this could be disastrous amazing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bye Bye Big Rex!

After reading and reflecting on my last blog post, and having a scary dream about Big Rex eating us....I hate to bid adieu, but it is time.

Goodbye Big Rex, Spinosaurus, Triceratops, Pleezie the Plesiosaurus, Nody the Nodosaurus, Steggy the Stegosaurus, baby Iguanodon, Pterodactyl, and the now infamous spotted Diplodocus.

One of the cutest pages read, "His back and tail are very spiny, but Steggy's brain is really tiny." :-D And my personal fave, "Swimming through Jurassic seas, Pleezie catches fish with ease."

Big Rex and friends, you were a well cherished book and I will never forget you!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recalls of Child Products and Toys

Ok, it may seem strange off the bat that the title says 'child products and toys,' as if toys aren't child products?? Well, those are just the two technical terms provided by our lovely government on its recall database. So how on earth did I get on this topic? As most things go, it started off innocent enough.

There I was, exploring a cool website Healthychild.org which you can easily lose yourself in (and btw, it's not all about children). When lo and behold, I came across an article on toy recalls. To my horror and disbelief, I immediately recognized the friendly face of "Big Rex," who just so happens to be one of my son's favorite book characters. Ok, so maybe it's really one of my favorite books to read to him. It is the cutest dinosaur book, EVAH! And unfortunately, for children (and parents) everywhere, "the lab determined that a red dot appliqué on one of the pages had a lead content of 1900 parts per million - nearly twenty times the content allowed for paint in the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act; six times the total lead content allowed by the law."

Oh you stupid red spot....I knew instantly that it meant the spotted Diplodocus was the accursed. So I read the recall details and basically you get a refund. Our copy was a gift, but I don't want the money! I. just. want. a. safe. copy. Is that too much to ask? And I'm sure I'll get some flack for this, but because it's a cloth book and I have been known to pick up a needle and thread before.... I'm going to perform a spotectomy with my trusty seam ripper. Aka removing the blasted spot. And praying that Diplodocus can live again. And if you owned the book, you'd understand.

So truly on a more serious note, I then proceeded to go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website. I began reading thousands (literally) of entries in the Child Products and Toys categories. I won't lie, it's rather sad reading the blurb, "Curious George Plush Dolls Recalled By Marvel Toys Due to Risk of Lead Exposure." Some even make the toy sound malicious: "Hasbro Inc. Recalls to Repair Nerf Blasters; Child’s Skin Can Get Caught in Plunger of the Toy." And no surprise here, I'm sure you can guess correctly where the majority of these toys are manufactured.

And for parents who believe that wooden toys are the pinnacle of safety or eco-chic, you have been misled my friend. Dozens upon dozens of wooden toys still had traces of lead paint or choking hazards associated with them. So my point here is that I think we're under a delusion of safety. I'm not one to be a zealot either, but I do think we owe it to ourselves and our children to be in the know.

Please add the USCPSC's recall lists to your feed reader. It is easy and simple and it won't clog your inbox either. You can do so by going to their main page and scrolling to the bottom. I only subscribed to the childrens' ones, but they have other categories too: Household, Outdoor, Sports & Recreation, and Specialty.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fitting in housework with a little one

Being a SAHM, you'd think my house would constantly be spick-and-span. Not so. In fact I believe our home has the more fashionable "lived in" look. ;) And while moms who work outside the home may think SAHMs have all the time in the world to clean, cook, and organize, that isn't the case either. It's challenging for me to balance playing with my son and being hands-on with him, but also keeping the house in running order as its primary manager.

There are definitely days where I am full of energy and in a cleaning mood. But more often than not, I feel as if I'm in survival of the present mode. It dawned on me the other day that I ought to make a list. I am a list-maker and a list-lover. And I have even been known to create a whole new list when I have crossed something off...just so it would look neater. Quirky or neurotic? You decide.

But my epiphany, if you will, was to make a list of household tasks that were divided either A) by noise level or B) personal energy level. The noise level idea came to me because although I don't keep everything silent in our house as my son sleeps, I'm certainly not going to test him by doing crazy loud stuff either. Your noisy tasks could be different from somebody else's as well, depending on how your child sleeps or even how large your home is. Since we live in a two-bedroom flat, thinking of the noise factor is a must.

Some of my quiet tasks are:

Changing the bed linens/making the bed

Dusting (like I dust!)

Folding clothes

Organizing/straightening the bedroom or den

Cleaning sink vanities

Some of the noisemakers:

Vacuuming (obviously)

Unloading dishwasher (we have heavy stoneware plates)

Or maybe if you're like me, there are some days when you really don't care if the baby wakes up, you just need to get stuff done regardless. But often times I discourage myself because I don't have the energy to do anything. So try making an energy-based household task list instead. Remember, this is based on your energy level not Super Mom's. (And if she really exists, I'd be in line to string her up by her toes since I find I tend to compare myself to her).

Low-energy tasks:

Loading/unloading dishwasher



Making baby food

Ironing (which I never do)
Writing letters/Web surfing (I realize "web surfing" is negligible)

High-energy tasks:



Grocery shopping (all that it entails)

Cooking meals

Cleaning tubs

Handwashing caked-on-baked-on pots & pans

So, there you have it. Don't forget to take time and smell the Pine-Sol.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

DIY Baby Food: Part Two

Continuing from DIY Baby Food: Part One, I read somewhere on the internet an interesting theory behind commercial baby foods. Like any marketable item, companies obviously desire consumers to buy and continue to buy more of their product. Believe it or not, this even applies to baby food, and some might argue that the target demographic is indeed the pickiest of consumers. To help combat this, commercial baby foods intentionally produce bland tasting fruits and vegetables in order to help a baby like it. How so? Think of the various flavor nuances that abound in a piece of broccoli. Admittedly, it was only a few years ago that I would cheerfully enjoy the taste of broccoli. But nonetheless, most babies' palates would not take to broccoli immediately. The blander something is, the less chance of rejection. Baby enjoys it, mom buys more of it. More of it = more money for company. Now, all of this to say, I am not certain that execs at Gerber do actually think this way. (You can't believe everything on the internet, ya know)? But it makes sense to me anyway.

So in conjunction with that theory, I am enjoying the fact that my son is able to taste carrots, peas, green beans, even cauliflower as God intended them. And surprisingly he hasn't turned up his nose at any of them. He still gives me that doubtful face with the first spoonful, but he'll gobble it all down. It's pretty cool that his palate is learning the subtleties and complexities of flavor.

Okay, okay, enough of my babbling, on to the steps of making your own baby food.

DIY Baby Food at home:

  1. Buy it! Choose your preferred foods. Fresh or frozen works great. Never do the canned!
  2. Prepare it! Rinse, peel, and chop/slice if needed.
  3. Cook it! I use my pressure-cooker which gives precise times for cooking specific foods. Alternatively, you may use any other traditional form of cooking; steaming, roasting, stove-top, even microwave maybe?
  4. Blend it! Cooked food is dumped into the blender or food processor and pureed. If you are doing steps 3 & 4 back to back as I do, make sure you simply place a paper towel over the blender's lid hole to allow steam to escape. If not, you may end up with a kitchen messier than your infant's face.
  5. Freeze it! Pour into any pop-able container or trays to freeze overnight.
  6. Store it! Keep in labeled bags in your freezer.
  7. Thaw it! I simply place desired amount in the microwave to defrost, but you could also use your fridge and simply allow more time for the process.
  8. Eat it!

So, oh wait, 8 steps? 8 steps?! I can already hear you balking in your head. But really, the only hands-on time you're actually investing deals with buying it (which you'd be doing anyway), cooking, and blending. The rest is essentially storage time.

I hope this post will encourage you to simply try it. Don't forget that this food has love cooked in it too ;) Feel free to ask or suggest anything!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DIY Baby Food: Part One

There are a whole lot of reasons why you might be interested in making your own baby food. For some, it's the ability to make any food you want to without being tied to whatever commercial foods offer. Or it might be that with all the various food recalls that happen frequently, you'd feel safer knowing you made it yourself. Someone else might be doing it for the pure savings of it. And I'm doing it for all those reasons, but especially because it's fun! If you enjoy cooking, you'll most likely enjoy making baby food as well.

The cookbook I use is Blender Baby Food by Nicole Young. I love it because it's co-authored by a dietitian and therefore has all the nutritional information for each food. And knowing that it can be confusing or a daunting task attempting to figure out which foods are suggested for which age group, this book has foods in particular sections by age in months. Meal plans and lots of other great tips are included as well. Personally, one of my criteria for a "good" cookbook are recipes that are realistic. I'm sure you've perused or own a cookbook that has more gourmet ingredients than standard staples which incidentally, those recipes would never leave the page in my kitchen. This cookbook is not like that. Simple language, steps, and ingredients.

Here's what I've learned:

  1. Making your own baby food does not take as much time as you'd think. There may be more steps involved obviously, but it's still doable.
  2. Pressure-cooking is the best way, not to mention extremely fast way to cook the food. I have done steaming, roasting, and regular stovetop cooking, but pressure-cooking is supreme. I'm not sure how many young women even possess a pressure-cooker nowadays, but believe it, you can have most veggies cooked in less than 4 minutes!
  3. I'm buying all organic produce, and yet I'm still saving money over commercial foods including the organic varieties, i.e. Earth's Best, Gerber. Based on the servings from a bag of carrots I prepared, it equated to 17 cents a serving (2 oz.).
  4. Less waste and containers to deal with. Yes, you could easily recycle all the glass jars or plastic tubs, or you could not even have to deal with it at all. After cooking and blending the food, it is poured into a specially made food tray to be frozen. Regular ice cube trays work fine too. After an overnight freeze, I pop out the portions into a labeled bag and place them in a freezer bin. There, the food can hang out for up to 2-3 months.
  5. It tastes as it should. Personally, I have yet to taste commercial baby food, but have heard stories from other parents remarking on it's not-so-yumminess. But the beauty of making it yourself with no additives or preservatives is that it tastes like real food; because it is. And hopefully there will be less opposition to eating veggies in their non-pureed form as the child grows.

Now that you know more about it, check out DIY Baby Food: Part Two where I'll go into step-wise detail.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My half-birthday!

My first big kid swing ride

It's hard to believe that I'm now S-I-X months old now! Mommy and Daddy can't believe it either. I have been exploring and discovering things daily. I am just about to crawl....mommy makes it look soo easy when she models it for me. All I know to do though is get up on my hands and knees and rock back and forth; then I fling myself forward. It works okay, but I still love rolling around to get where I need to go. Mommy thinks it's funny when I try to chase Cubbie. That pup don't know what's comin for her once I start crawling. I have already goosed her twice and Mommy died laughing. Speaking of pets, I got to meet my first ever cat. Her name is Katie and she belongs to our friends, the Riccis. I really like animals and love looking at their pictures in books and on tv too.

Another thing I love: FOOD. When mommy gets my bottle ready and I happen to see it, I will start grabbing for it and quickly put it into my mouth. I am quite content afterwards. Now though I am discovering other types of food besides my milk. My favorites so far are sweet potatoes, corn, and bananas. Although I have wolfed down peas and green beans too. Mommy has fun making all the food for me. She gave me a special cup called "Sippy" and I am learning how to drink from that too. Just the other day, I sat in a restaurant high chair for the first time. Mommy says I'm looking too old.

I still love to bounce and stand. Maybe I'll just skip crawling and start walking? If I get grumpy the surest way for me to smile is to let me bounce, bounce, bounce. And I love to laugh. I used to only laugh if I was being tickled. But now I laugh at silly sounds and faces. Mommy is teaching me little games to play since I'm more interested in them now. I have also learned how to shake my rattle. I like to babble and do my dinosaur 'RAWR' too. It means 'I love you,' but no one knows that but me! Daddy calls me "Bub-zilla" when I 'RAWR' at him. Mommy is also teaching 'signs' to me, but what do they mean? I have no idea....

I am growing so quickly too. Mommy and Daddy bought a new car seat for me since I'm about to outgrow my infant car seat. Bye bye carrier. I wear 9-month clothing nowadays, so Mommy has been buying 12-month clothing lately. We'll see how long that lasts, heh heh heh. And this month I had my first teeth come in! Two sharp white things on the bottom of my mouth. Mommy and I were both miserable for about two weeks. I'd like to say thank you to her for giving me Motrin and Orajel though. And I hope that next time, maybe I won't be in so much pain.

Yesterday, I got to play in the snow for the second time in my short life, but this time I got to go sledding! All the big kids were doing it, so I wanted to try too. I went down first with Daddy and held on tight. I liked the wind rushing past my face. The second time I went down with Mommy and ended up crying because the sun was sooo bright and I was lying on my back. Mommy was relieved we didn't fall over. Oh, and did I mention that I was overdue for my nap then? Sheesh, but I had fun with my cousins, grandparents, and aunt and uncle while sledding. I guess giving up a nap every so often isn't so bad.

This Thursday we will go visit my doctor for my six-month checkup. Everyone wonders what I now weigh. I will be sure to let you know. Oh, gotta go, I hear Mommy!
~~Update: Caleb wanted everyone to know that he officially weighs 19 lbs. 6 oz. now. :)