Monday, July 27, 2009

Seeing Red

Last week, Jonah and I made a fun discovery when we checked our garden. The green tomatoes are turning red! Jonah was very interested in checking out the new red fruits. He's been having fun picking them, and even more fun eating them! He especially likes grilled cheese with tomatoes, but I think that is just because I love it so much! Our tomato garden has become a great thing to bond over. Jonah has been a very good garden helper. He loves to put water on the plants, and going out to check the fruits every day. He also has enjoyed eating the dirt. As impatient as I am, I'm kind of glad that some of the varieties are just now flowering, because that means that we can continue our daily gardening activities for a month or so longer.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

First Finger Foods

Jonah's meals are now almost all finger foods. I've been on a hunt to find finger foods suitable for infants Jonah's age. He is not quite to the point of eating everything that the rest of the family eats, but he no longer wants to be spoon fed. Here are two recipes that I've come up with for baby-friendly finger foods.

Chicken and Carrot Bites:
dark meat chicken such as drumsticks, with the skin on
carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
rice cereal (the instant, for this recipe)
milk, breastmilk, or water

Bake the chicken at 350 F until it is cooked thoroughly. You want the chicken to be cooked through, but be careful not to overcook it, as you'll be baking it again later. Place the chopped carrots into a bowl and cover with water. Place in the microwave for about five minutes,or until tender. Remove the cooked chicken meat from the bone, discarding the skins. Place meat and carrots into a food processor, and process into a coarse mixture. Add milk, breastmilk, or the cooking water from the carrots (regular water will do if you've thrown that away) to make smooth. Add rice cereal until mixture is sticky. You want it to be the consistency of meatballs.

Roll the mixture into tiny, bite-sized balls (remember, bite-sized for your baby, not what an adult would see as bite sized!) Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes, or until the balls firm up. Be careful not to overcook or they will become too tough for your little one.

These freeze well. I make a lot of them all at once and divide meal-sized portions into small ziplock bags for freezing. Then when meal time rolls around, I can just remove a bag of them, re-heat, and dinner is ready. I am sorry that there are no measurements, I just kind of go by the texture and how many I want to make. You can substitute any kind of vegetable, like brocolli or asparagus but you might need to change how much of the cereal or liquids that you add.

Infant French Toast:
One slice whole grain bread
two egg yolks
2 oz breastmilk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp unsalted butter, or other "non-stick" substitute such as PAM

Whisk egg yolks, milk, and cinnamon together until well combined. Place the bread into the egg mixture, coating it on both sides. In a skillet, melt the butter. Place the bread into the skillet and brown on both sides.

Egg yolks are a great source of protein at a young age, but egg whites can cause allergies. Make sure to talk to your pediatrician before offering eggs or products containing eggs. If your child has had milk products, then use cows milk rather than breastmilk if you would rather. Although Jonah has been on formula for quite some time now, until recently I have used breastmilk in just about all of his meals.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Carrier

We recently went to visit my hometown to attend the annual festival that is held there. It is a typical small town festival, with food vendors, performers, and local people selling their arts and crafts. While there, I met the owner of a work at home mom company called The Addiction Baby Company. She hand sews unique mei-tei style baby carriers with her mother. What makes her carriers unique, besides being made of either fleece or all natural hemp materials, is that the carrier has a blanket that tucks inside a sewn in pouch.

I was looking for a new carrier that I could wear on my back, and easily get through airport security with. The choices that I had narrowed it down to were a mei-tei style carrier, a Baby K'tan, or an Ergo. The Baby K'tan interested me, because I like the sling style, but it seemed a bit complicate to me, and I would need help putting Jonah into it. I need something that I can put on myself. The Ergo seems to be the mother of all carriers. Anyone I asked told me that the Ergo is the most comfortable carrier, and easy to use without a second person. When I tried a friend's ergo, the straps seemed to confuse me, and I worried about getting through airport security quickly while wearing it. If they were to make me take the carrier off, I might hold things up, and that only makes people grumpy. I try to avoid making people grumpy in airports, at all costs. That left one option- the mei-tei style. This was the only style carrier that I have never tried. I wasn't sure if I'd like it. I put off buying the new carrier, because I just couldn't make a decision.

So here we were, at the festival, looking at mei-tei carriers. The owner of the company, Misty, came to show me how they work. She showed me how with her son, a wiggly young toddler. I was impressed to see that no matter how her son wiggled about and moved, he was so secure. Daryl and I looked at the different patterns of fabric, and decided that we liked the neutral look and lighter feel of the hemp fabric. Misty walked me through putting Jonah in a back carry so I could see how it felt with him in it. As soon as Jonah was secured, he started laughing hysterically. I was surprised that Misty invited us to walk around the festival with it to make sure that it's the rigth carrier for us. It only took us about five minutes of walking around to know for sure. We bought the carrier, and Jonah stayed on my back for the entire three hours that we were at the festival. He loved it. He waved and laughed as people said hi to him. He played with my pony tail for a little while. On the way home, he even fell asleep. I was amazed.

I really like the sewn-in blanket. In the fleece carriers, the blanket is quite large and can be used for picnics etc. The blanket of our hemp carrier is smaller, though, because of the size of available fabrics. The only drawback to this is that sometimes it unfolds out of the pouch as I'm putting it on. The blanket is great padding, and offers extra support for Jonah's back and neck. It will definitely come in handy if I ever find myself with a babt in the winter time. I also like that I can keep items like a diaper and a couple of wipes inside the pouch with the blanket. It is always a hassle to try to carry a diaper bag on my shoulder along with Jonah in a carrier.

I also feel a very deep connection to this carrier, because it came from my hometown roots. I am very close to my town, and the people in it. Whenever anyone asks me about my carrier now, I can tell that person that it is a little piece of home for me.

This carrier is by far my favorite. I have not worn any of my slings or even the Bjorn since I brought this one home. It is so comfortable for my back and shoulders, and Jonah loves being carried in it. I promise that I am not getting anything from this woman to promote her product; I just really love baby carriers, and I especially love this one.

Ships Ahoy!

Sailing is very important to my family. Almost all of my childhood summer memories include sailing in one way or another. Most families pile into cars or airplanes to go on summer vacations, but my parents would load all five of their children into a 27 foot vessel on Lake Erie. When I was very little, we had a smaller boat named EasyBe. As kids got bigger and my mom had more babies, my dad bought a bigger boat named Kinship, which is what we sail on today. Kinship would take us to beaches, where we'd collect lake glass and try to catch minnows; to Canada where we would chase hundreds of monarch butterflies through the air; Cedar Point where we'd get thrills on roller coasters; and to the islands of Lake Erie, where we would learn the history of Admiral Perry and the war of 1812. It was like having an RV that floats, and only goes where there's water.

Last week was a moment to mark in Jonah's baby book, because he took his first sail on Kinship. When we got to the Marina, we were able to get infant-sized life jacket on-loan. I thought that he would put up a fight about having the life jacket put on, because he fights me when I try to put just his shirt on every day! Surprisingly, he was very cooperative about having to wear it.

As we were sailing out into the open lake, Jonah watched the birds on the break walls. He jabbered on in his baby-talk as if he were telling us a whole story. He tried to point to things, but he doesn't quite understand that he needs to straighten out his index finger. Once we got underway, he became very interested in the ropes and the sails. A couple of hours into the trip, he started to get hot, tired, and fed up with the bulky life jacket. My mom took him into the cabin and played with him there until we got to the restaurant where we were having dinner. We docked the boat and went into the restaurant. Jonah was very happy to be out of the life jacket, and in air conditioning.

Because it was a six hour sailing trip, and a fifteen minute drive, my mom and I decided that we would call my aunt and have her bring the car to the restaurant while my dad sailed the boat back to the marina. Jonah was getting grumpy because it was his bedtime, I was getting a bit sea sick, and Mom was getting sunburned. After dinner we spent the rest of the evening with my aunt and grandma, while my dad sailed the boat back.

It was a very nice, relaxing day. I was very excited to see Jonah enjoying a pasttime that is such a big part of my own childhood. I am hoping that in years to come, my own family will enjoy summer trips on the lake, to see the butterflies and catch minnows at the beach.