Month: April 2017

What my kids are (and aren’t) eating: Part 2

Before Lily was even born I knew what her first food would be (sweet potatoes). I read everything I could find about introducing vegetables first and bypassing baby cereals. As she inched toward that 6-month mark I filled my Pinterest board with baby-led weaning (BLW) recipes and guides. I read all about how babies are physiologically prepared to eat real food once they can hold themselves up properly, and asserted to my husband and our moms that gagging was okay–it’s not really choking!

When Lily hit 5 months, I grabbed a spoon and gave her some sweet potatoes. I could have waited until 6 months, but you know moms: we love milestones. She loved the sweet potatoes, so I continued on with more purées until she was about 6 months old, at which time I decided to give baby-led weaning a go. It’s pretty mainstream now, but for those of you who don’t know, with baby-led weaning you allow your little one to eat real food (versus purées). This article for some reason had me convinced only an uninformed parent wouldn’t do BLW, and that purees were a relic of the past.

If you’re already a parent then you know how ridiculous your pre-child self was. I don’t know why, but for some reason most soon-to-be moms (myself included) seem to have a lot of convictions about how we’ll do various things and what baby products are best, and it feels like a personal affront when someone suggests something otherwise while you’re still pregnant or haven’t reached a certain stage (even if they’re a fellow mom). And when our moms hinted BLW might not be going so great for Lily, it felt just like that (and I thought Lily was marred for life when my MIL gave her rice cereal. If you’re reading this, my apologies again.). It wasn’t until months later when I finally recognized that okay, maybe I should have paid more attention to the physical readiness signs for BLW (like being able to sit up unassisted, loss of the tongue-thrust reflex, etc) rather than using her age as an indication. Because she totally wasn’t ready and it was stressful and scary when she would gag and choke. After a week or so I broke out the blender and did purées until she was about 8 months old.

Maggie on the other hand was a peanut in comparison to Lily, despite being more physically advanced. She was sitting unassisted by 5-6 months, enough so that we could leave her there and not be scared she would fall over. We were still putting pillows around Lily when she was 7 months old. Maggie was also a bigger sleeper, and didn’t drink as much. I tried sweet potatoes when she was just over 5 months and she wasn’t interested. We tried different homemade purées and store-bought pouches (wait, what? store-bought?! I’m sorry, but there’s just no way I can compare with the combinations they come up with these days. Quinoa-amaranth-kale? Buckwheat-apple-beet?) with varying success, but she just didn’t have a voracious appetite. Then suddenly at 7 months she ate some small pieces of something cut up (I can’t remember what), and we realized she just wanted to feed herself. I hadn’t considered letting her do this for another month, what with the whole Lily experience. But once we started letting her feed herself, she didn’t stop.

While Maggie eats most things, it of course still has to be soft enough and cut into bite-sized pieces. Her intro to solids coincided really nicely with winter, when we were (are) eating lots of soups, most of which Lily also likes. I love soups for new eaters because they’re usually chock full of veggies and different proteins that I otherwise find difficult to cook into that perfectly smushy, baby-friendly texture. So below I have my basic list of go-to items for breakfast and lunch, and some of my favorite soup recipes that Ryan, Lily, Maggie, and I all really like. Also, muffins! I love making mini-muffins for babies and little kids because they are tasty, nutritious, and easy when you’re packing a lunch.

baby girl eating
I love her little feet crossed at the ankle.

Breakfast

Our least creative meal. Usually toast or a waffle, and a fruit. If we have time she also gets yogurt (Siggs 4%, or half plain/half flavored Greek yogurt) or a smoothie. If we have muffins she gets a little.

Lunch

Fruit

All the soft fruits. There isn’t one she doesn’t like, and like most kids, berries are her favorite. Something we do give Maggie that I didn’t give Lily is fruit cups (in their own juice or other 100% fruit juice), because Lily was learning to eat during the summer when things like peaches were readily available. We also didn’t really give Lily citrus fruits until she was a year old, but Maggie’s had her fair share of clementines.

Veggies

The only veggie Maggie doesn’t really like is asparagus. Sometimes she’ll eat it if it’s cooked up with something else, like eggs. Here are some of her typical veggies:

  • Peas – from frozen. We definitely give her these the most frequently as they’re so easy.
  • Broccoli – from fresh. I can never get frozen broccoli to cook nicely.
  • Peppers – if the rest of us are eating raw peppers, I’ll cut some up into little pieces for her, cover in a little water, and cook into the microwave until they’re soft enough. If I’m roasting peppers (slice, toss in olive oil, roast for 20-25 minutes at 425), she’ll hoover them down.
  • Mixed frozen veggies – steamed on the stove, otherwise the carrots never get soft enough
  • Green beans – steamed or roasted
  • Carrots – steamed or roasted. Lily just started eating carrots again a few days ago, and I pumped to roast carrots again. They take kind of a long time so I like to roast a big bag of baby carrots on a weekend (this hasn’t actually happened in a while…)
  • Squash – roasted. I only get those pre-chopped containers of squash that Wegman’s sells because, no joke, peeling, seeding, and chopping a butternut squash is way too overwhelming for me right now (and yes, I know the microwave trick).
  • Edamame – from frozen. I just microwave, peel the skin off, and pop them in half.
Starch/Grains
  • Toast – with peanut or almond butter. Disclaimer: the old peanut butter avoidance guidance made no sense to me so I introduced it around 6-7 months with both kids (it’s since been changed to recommend early introduction).
  • Sweet potato –  mashed or baked.
  • Little pieces of wrap – this isn’t the most nutritious thing, and I only do it occasionally (whole wheat)
  • Pasta – again, a whole grain

Muffins – These muffins are lunch items. If I pack them for daycare, I break them into bite-sized pieces pieces.

  • Flourless Sweet Potato Blender Muffins – by far my favorite muffin recipe. I’ve made them with both almond butter and peanut butter, and they were great both times. Unlike other muffin recipes, you can’t double this batch because it’s too much for a blender to handle, but if Maggie’s the only one eating these they last a while.
  • Spinach Quinoa Egg Muffins – I don’t actually follow an exact recipe for these, but this recipe is pretty close to what I do (minus the ham). We always seem to have a lot of leftover quinoa so other than just freezing it for later, this is a great way to use it. I’ve made these with a few varieties of quinoa, and you can swap spinach for grated broccoli, kale, etc. I’ve been making these for Maggie since she started solids and she never had a problem with the egg or cheese and we weren’t very concerned as we don’t have food allergies in our family, but they do recommend holding off on egg whites as a potential allergen.
  • Peanut Butter Banana Cookies – So these aren’t technically a muffin and I haven’t made them yet for Maggie, but Lily loved these. I usually packed them as a snack, but they’d be fine as part of a meal in my book (I don’t use the chocolate chis). Plus they are tasty! I occasionally used raisins, and then I’d have to hide them so Ryan wouldn’t eat them because they’re basically dessert.
Sweet potato muffin, cheese, peas, blueberries, and raspberries
Ditto the above. Let’s not talk about how awful the lighting in my kitchen is in the dark of the morning.
Peas, peaches and pears from a fruit cup, cheese, hard-boiled egg.

Dinner

Maggie eats whatever we do. I love this stage.

Soups

  • Roasted Eggplant Soup – This soup is perfect as is, but I like to mix it up every time. My favorite way to do it is to follow the roasting directions but swap out the eggplant for a container of that Wegman’s squash I love so much, 4 tomatoes, one onion, garlic, and some baby carrots, and to cook some sweet potatoes in the microwave (they take way too long to roast). The rest of the directions are the same (including the encouragement to play with the spices). You could say a downside with this soup is that it has to be fed to little ones since it’s pureed, but right now Lily’s at this stage where she likes to feed bits of food to Maggie so she’ll sop up some soup with her roll and feed it to her which is just as cute as it sounds.
  • Garlicky Kale and White Bean Stew – Other than always using an entire bag of Wegmans pre-washed/cut kale, I keep everything the same. I like my soup to be more on the stewy side than brothy side, so this works nicely. Sometimes I use another recipe similar to this if I want to include potatoes or carrots. Maggie ate every single thing in this soup, from the kale to the onions, and her favorite was the white beans.
  • Detox Immune Boosting Chicken Soup – I used this as a guide to make chicken soup for the first time (versus following the recipe exactly), and it was the best soup I’ve ever made.  I also liked being able to have Maggie eat such a variety of ingredients at one meal. I had tried this crock pot chicken, potato, carrot, and green bean meal that was awful so I threw most of that into the soup and it was so. good. I’ve made chicken soup using chicken that I way over-seasoned and over-cooked and it also worked really well.
  • Veggie Tortellini Soup – I meant to make this once and accidentally made something else that ended up being more just like tortellini with sauce, with spinach added. The good thing about that accident is that I found out Maggie can eat spinach when it’s cooked. This would definitely be good though because, well, The Pioneer Woman.
  • Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup – I’ve never been a tomato soup fan but this recipe paired with  this Spinach and Ricotta Grilled Cheese was worthy of being served up at Elm Street Bakery. I’d eat this for days. It is again another recipe that needs to be fed to a baby.
So excited to be eating her first outdoor dinner!

 

Currently.

I’ve been pretty absent from here lately because I haven’t had any free time recently. We’re in the wedding-baby-preschool circuits right now, which means our refrigerator is plastered with save-the-dates and invitations and the paper calendar we have hanging on the wall has something written on almost every Saturday and Sunday, and sometimes more than one thing. I keep trying to finish Part II of What my kids are eating, but it’s taking forever so instead I’m going to do an interlude with what’s currently going on in my life.

Can’t miss an excuse to share a pic of this cutie patootie.

1.I’m struggling with keeping paper, Facebook, email, and word-of-mouth invitations/appointments straight right now. It’s easy at work where everything automatically goes into your Outlook calendar, and is synched with your phone. I can’t stand when people email a meeting/event date/time and don’t follow up with a meeting invite, and I think at this point most people I work with know that if I don’t have it in my calendar, I won’t be there. But there’s this weird disconnect outside the work world where no one ever sends me a calendar invite, so I also feel weird sending one to them. Because most of our non-work events happen on weekends, it works pretty well to put them on our paper calendar. Email and Facebook invites do occasionally get lost, and if I’m in a semi-social setting and trying to wrangle my children it’s safe to just assume I’ll forget whatever you just asked me to do/go to. On top of that, Ryan and I can’t really share a calendar because his work calendar is encrypted or something as it’s private information. Does anyone have a suggestion for how to do keep track of social events coming in through various media?

2. March has always been my least favorite month, and this past March just reinforced that. Lily and Maggie were both sick and ended up with ear infections, both of which had to be progressively treated with amoxicillin and then Augmentin, and, as you can imagine, both subsequently ended up with yeast infections despite our efforts to have them eat yogurt and also give them probiotics daily. So add trying to keep track of the little cards they write appointments on at the doctors into the mix. Wah. The one Saturday we had free in March (which only happened because we celebrated Ryan’s birthday on a Friday), I ended up having to take them both into the doctors (PS, I feel like taking one kid to the doctor’s used to seem semi-overwhelming which just makes me laugh now because taking 2 seems like nothing).

My mom, Maggie, and I took our first road trip which was ridiculous to pack for because I had a conference the first two days that I also had to set up a vendor table for, and then we had my sister’s baby shower the second half of the trip, which meant we had my stuff, Maggie’s stuff, my mom’s stuff, my stuff for the conference, and everything for the baby shower packed into the car. This meant that my evenings leading up to the trip were pretty consumed with trying to pack but also trying to cram in as much time with Lily as possible since it was the longest period of time I had ever spent away from her.

The upside of the trip (aside from my sister’s shower and getting to see her and a lot of our long-distance family) was that Maggie traveled fabulously and didn’t experience any sleep regressions (which used to happen when we traveled with Lily), and I got to take her swimming for the first time. The downside is that Lily touched something in the forest and suddenly had these white spots/dots in her eye, and then she later vomited so profusely and was so out of it that Ryan thought she was potentially having a serious allergic reaction (definitely in the realm of possibility with her history) and called an ambulance (lie: he had his friend’s girlfriend call the ambulance while he dealt with a vomit-covered, delirious Lily). I don’t know why, but these things never happen when I’m around and Ryan is always the one who gets vomited on. Thanks, husband. Despite his best efforts to clean all the things and air out the upstairs, our bedroom wreaked of puke when I got home. Lily was back to normal though.

Maggie was a champ while we ate all our meals out for days.

We didn’t have anything scheduled this past weekend for the first time since I can remember, but Ryan does work a few hours every weekend if you count that. This upcoming weekend is Easter and the various celebrations for that, followed by Maggie’s bday weekend (plus a preschool birthday party the next day). Then the last weekend in April I have a playdate I scheduled months ago, after which I work, and then we have a dinner…all in the same day. Maybe we can cancel Maggie’s 12 month checkup because the dinner is with her doctor? Jk. Sort of. Oh wait–just remembered I worked last Saturday, and spent last week coordinating showings and then actually showing our apartment that we are renting out for the first time because our current tenants (also known as my husband’s cousin and his girlfriend) are moving to Texas (briefly!). Can we talk Craigslist etiquette? Please use full sentences people. And “can I see it” doesn’t count. Nor does, “how much.”

3. May is the official launch of wedding season. So. Many. Weddings. Some are local, some not so much. I’m going to the 2 local ones (both of which are the big party-type wedding so I’m looking forward to that), and then my best friend is getting married in July in Florida. I’m going to take a few extra days off for that wedding, and Lily and I are flying down together. I am so beyond excited to go on an adventure with Lily and to see my bff and her family for the first time in a very long time. Can we also just mention that she’s getting married to her high school boyfriend? They spent college apart and then ran into each other in grad school and have been together ever since. And her mom has never even met Lily. I’m tearing up just thinking about this. Ryan will probably go to the out of town ones, and I may go to the regionally local ones.

Me, my bff, and her fiance at our prom.

4. BABIES! Everyone is having babies right now. But even more exciting, my sister and my SIL are both having babies this summer. I haven’t been an aunt to a new baby as an adult (I was 9 when my first nephew was born), and I’ve never lived near a niece/nephew. My SIL lives nearby so this will be really exciting.

5. Travel plans for the rest of the year: Ryan is traveling for work twice before the end of the summer, and I’m going to Saratoga in July and Albany in September for work. My trips will only be 2 nights tops, but going away with the kids at home is so difficult. It’s also not like you get half a day to recover after traveling for work, which I feel like you should between needing to pack and then come back and unpack and do laundry and get your life back in order before launching into the next week. I’m then going to LA in September to see my new nephew. I’ve never been to CA before so this will be another adventure. Ryan and I usually have another trip in September but we’re not sure if we’ll be going this year. I think we may have some breathing room in August? I’m going to try to take off every other Friday so we can enjoy the summer a bit.

6. For the first time in over 4 years, I am neither breastfeeding, pumping, nor pregnant. I basically don’t know what to do with myself. I stopped pumping because I had several days this past month where I was only able to pump once, so my supply plummeted. After that, I was doing so much work to get such a little bit of milk that I threw in the towel. I already feel so much more relaxed not having to worry about pumping and cleaning my parts and packing my pump stuff. The only problem is I’ve never weaned a baby off a bottle, and Lily probably didn’t have regular milk until she was almost 2 (but honestly I can’t remember). Downside of this being the first time in 4 years I have my body all to myself: I have to learn how to eat like a normal person again. I’m one of those people you hate while I’m breastfeeding, because I hover a few pounds below my normal weight. I’m already jealous of my breastfeeding self. I’ve indulged my sweet tooth the past 3.5 years (I didn’t enjoy sweets while pregnant with Lily), and it’s not going to miraculously go away so this is going to be a challenge. What I’m most looking forward to about not pumping: all the shelf space in my kitchen I’m going to have back. We have a shelf dedicated to pump parts and Mason jars, and we really need this for other stuff. And maybe my back getting back to normal.

Maggie seems to be doing just fine with her bottle.

7. Last night I was reading Lily a library book that compares feelings to animals, one of which is “Do you ever feel stubborn as a mule?” She responded to this with, “I was being stubborn as a mule when I wouldn’t put the frog away.” How is she so smart? I love hearing what she comes up with. I used to be really good about putting things in this app in my phone, but I haven’t been doing that recently.

8. Surprise tonight: Lily fell asleep at 6:45 on the 6 minute drive home. Maggie was in bed by 7:15. I got to spend an hour weeding and planting outside. They’ll probably each wake up 15 times to make up for it but ohhh that was nice.

Out before 7pm.

So that’s why I haven’t been around. But I promise, baby muffins coming soon