Archive | May 2010

Foods for Babies

This post has been in the mental works for a while. Just about the time I was ready to write it and share all my wisdom with the general public, Sam went and humbled me: spat out everything with texture, whined through dinner, and all I could get him to eat was orange pieces. Babies.
But I thought I would share some foods that Sam likes as we both charter our way through the fascinating transition from drinking all his nutrients to getting them all from food. My mother-in-law just gave me an interesting book called Top 100 Finger Foods that I can’t wait to begin using. It’s got some very unique ideas! Please comment with YOUR baby’s favorite foods! We all need new ideas!
First, my babyfood philosphy. As you read don’t go assuming I am a health nut. Rest assured, I love a good Wendy’s Single with cheese every now and then, and if I saw a Schwan’s man, I would probably flag him down for a catalog. But again, with Sam, it’s different. That’s probably partially because it is easier to shove lentils down someone ELSE’S throat than eat them yourself. But regardless, my thoughts:
1. Avoid anything processed. No preservatives, organic or farm-raised meats, fresh fruit over canned, whole wheat over white, no high fructose corn syrup, no food colorings, and limit things from restaurants.
2. Cook fruits and vegetables as little as possible. See (“Frugal Megan”s posts on raw food for great info!)
3. Formula is a necessary evil. The more Sam gets his protein, fat, and carbs from other sources,
the better. (Breastmilk if you can do that is different.)
4. Speaking of, whenever I plan Sam’s meal I try to think about where he will get his protein, his carb, and his fat in that meal.
5. Babies need lots of fat (yes, even Sam needs more fat, although by looking at him you may doubt it :). My preferred source of fat is olive oil and real butter. (For Sam, this is a vegan oil butter. But no margarine or partially hydro-whatever-the-word-is fats.)
6. Spices are GOOD! Some have food value and all help him to get a diverse palate. I use whatever I would like!
So here it is. Some delicious and nutritious finger foods for Sam:
– VERY overcooked pasta spirals – whole wheat – with EVOO
– apple and pear bits, cooked on the stove with a little bit of water until soft. I sprinkle with cinnamon.
– fruits: grapes peeled, orange slices (total fav), banana bits, cantelope, pinapple, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes.
– carrot pieces cooked in a bit of water on the stove. I add brown sugar and butter (vegan) sometimes 🙂
– toast pieces with butter and cinnamon and sugar.
– baked sweet potato fries or homemade oven fries. He LOVES these.
– spaghetti. Yes, a mess. But delicious.
– tortilla with refried beans, cut up in little pieces. Again, QUITE a mess.
– canned chicken breast shreds. (There are a few companies that don’t add anything to the chicken.)
And here are some meals I prepare (cook and puree) and keep in the freezer in ice cube size. I “stir-fry” them with EVOO on the stove before serving.
– Baked sweet potato with lentils, or black beans. I saute onions and garlic with the beans.
– Baby “chili” – ground beef with lentils or beans, onions, etc.
– Roast chicken, avocado, and black beans.
– Lentils and baked apples or store bought applesauce with cinnamon. I have been accused of feeding Sam “mush” when people see this, but believe it or not, he loves it. Honestly.
-Roast chicken, frozen spinach, and whole wheat noodles pureed and formed into “meatballs.” Again, this concoction is often ridiculed in public, but when I top it with spaghetti sauce, Sam actually makes that “mmm” sound. So there.
– Roast chicken, canned peaches, and brown rice. Not my idea. See here.
Lastly, here are some general feeding observations to end this book of a post. 🙂
– When the item in question is nutritious but deemed not so delicious, do not be afraid to sing, read a book, watch TV, or utilize that annoying but rarely used noise making toy as methods of distraction. Many an unsavory meal was downed in the Smartt household during a few rounds of “I’ve got the joy joy joy joy.”
– Also, in moments of desperation, I have coated bites of a meal in applesauce. I am not proud of this. It’s hard to believe shepherd’s pie would be better smothered in applesauce, but somehow, it is. Desperate times.
So there are the foods Sam likes. What about your baby?


Traveling with kids

Some people might say I’m a germ freak, but that’s not true. Sometimes while shopping I forget to bring hand sanitizer. Also, I love McDonalds, and have even eaten at ones with a 92 or below in Sanitation Score. And I’m not afraid of a cookie on the floor. I follow an amended “10 second rule,” which, in addition to time on the germ surface, also factors in level of hunger and how many of them are still left. If you compare me to other unnamed relatives (ask me if you’re one of them) I am practically a slob. So see, not a freak.
But when it comes to Sam…well this is different. Call me a crazy new mom, call me OCD, call me psycho, but it’s just different with Sam. I feel it is my God-given responsibility to raise a child who, next to loving the Lord and doing his homework, is clean. Am I right? I think I am.
Apparently God thinks I need to explore the radius outside my comfort zone. Maybe He is preparing me for school buses or sandboxes, or even those bacteria-infested vats of colored ballsI’m sure Sam will jump in one day. Apparently I need to be stretched. Because I have recently learned that soon – this very next month in fact – we are taking Sam to…drum roll please…A HOTEL. Yes. That’s what I said. It may even be a MO-tel. I don’t know yet. Yes, I have seen the 20/20 specials, and yes I have read the MSN articles. But we have no choice. Family reunion leaves no other option. I have determined it worth the cost.
But in foresight I have prepared a short list of things I plan to do in the hotel room, after we getthere and I quarantine Sam from the room. I share this list for two reasons.
1. Some of you will think it’s funny.
2. The rest of you can a) give me other tips or b) use these when you travel.
My plan.
– Bring a spray bottle with half-alcohol, half water to spray on the carpet and everything about, oh, 26 inches high or so.
– Immediately remove the mattress, sheets, and pillows and replace them with the ones I brought.
– Remove anything unnecessary from the room, i.e. dim lamps, knick-knacks, phone, etc, as these are useless carriers of germs.
– Take Lysol wipes along and wipe down everything else.
– Keep a pacifier in Sam’s mouth during key intervals of exploration when he might be tempted to instead gnaw on curtains, legs of furniture, or the trash can.
So there’s my plan. Any other ideas? (Serious suggestions only please. 😉

the love song i won’t ever write

Sometimes I want to be a cool mom, so I listen to pop radio. Some of it’s not that bad and I kind of like it. Every once in a while I hear somebody I watched on American Idol, so that’s kind of fun when I actually know who’s singing the songs.
I’m not picking on these people, because I’m sure they all have very genuine, real romantic relationships. (?) But I do get the feeling listening to the “love songs” on these stations that they and I live in very different worlds. I mean, I guess it would be nice to be someone’s “soul sister,” to have someone watch my dance moves across a smoky club, and make someone so crazy in love they can’t breathe/sleep/be with their other woman (?!?!) without thinking of me, etc. etc.
But seriously people. seriously. Maybe it’s just me and my lame married love. Maybe we’re boring. But I don’t remember the last time I felt overwhelmed with millions of fireflies because of love, or drugged with love, or heart-broken when Todd leaves for work. Maybe it’s just me.
I guess that’s why I like country music. Say what you may about rednecks and lost dogs and trucks. At least in their world it’s okay to mention coffee and gas stations and laundry and – I don’t know – things I actually see in my day-to-day life.
That’s more along the lines with what I’d write if I wrote a song. Which I won’t because no one would ever buy it. And this is why. If I wrote a love song these would be some of the words:
~Thanks, baby. For not mentioning it when my eyebrows need plucked, my mascara is gloppy, and my hair is greasy. Thanks for always putting the toilet seat down. I didn’t even need to train you. Thanks for greeting me every morning with the same chipper kiss and “Good morning, baby,” no matter what bratty thing I’ve said to you the night before. Thanks for remembering birthdays and mother’s days and all the important days, and forgetting my PMS days, all the things I’ve said to you when you’re late, and how hard the first year of marriage was. Thanks for happily eating the same boring turkey cheese tomato sandwich 365 days a year without getting sick of it, and for gushing over store bought meatballs and canned tomato soup like they’re culinary art. Thanks that I’ve never had to switch a light bulb, read an instruction manual for anything, or replace an air filter. I think it’s so sexy when you dry dishes, sing in church, and put away the baby toys. I promise to love you forever even though you don’t always brush your teeth when you go to bed, even though fifteen minutes is thirty, and even though you’re lame on Friday nights, because we all know you put up with way worse. I look forward to more romantic moments in our future, like the three times we had dinner this month together after Sam was in bed, and when we fell asleep watching the NASCAR race. Yes, Todd, I love you, and our lame, boring, old people married life.
~So there’s my song. But that’s not very “hot” now, is it. Oh well… who needs smoky clubs and firefly feelings anyways..:)

Encouragement for stressed moms: Mommy Advice Contest Winners!

You know the feeling you get when you realize, wow, they DO make chocolate covered rice crispy treats, or dental floss on a pick??? Those wonderful I-found-it feelings are sort of to how I feel getting all this good advice. It’s like my new Bible verses to memorize, only not quite. I think I will probably print off a few I love to put in the places I see most often, like Sam’s forehead and the refrigerator. I hope that you read and enjoy all of these as much as I do. They’re gems. But first, the winner. I knew the winner the minute I read it, and days after. It did everything good writing should – it made me cry, it made me grateful (to be a mom) and it made me inspired (to be a better one). Congratulations, Kelly. You are a wonderful mom. Maybe you should revive “Baby in Mars” to share more of your wisdom 🙂
“Jessie….After much thought I’ve come up with an answer to your blog question: PHOTOS: Sounds simple…. But taking pictures of Josephine has been a big part of what keeps me going. Photos help me in the moment ( while I’m taking them ) and also later on when I look back at her as she has grown. Still to this day I can’t look at the picture of me with tears in my eyes and my 1 minute old baby on my chest without getting choked up. I don’t consider myself an overly emotional person. But looking at that picture brings me back to that moment….the happiest and proudest moment of my life. It makes me appreciate the fact that God has blessed me with an amazing gift to take care of here on earth. How lucky I am to have that beautiful healthy baby. Taking pictures helped me when at 2 weeks postpartum, Nick was going back to work and Mom was leaving….it was just me…and her. All day, all night. I think the minute Mom walked out the door I just grabbed my camera and started taking pictures of Josephine to keep myself from losing it. Distraction works. Taking pictures distracted me from the fact that I had a baby who didn’t sleep more then 5 hours in a row until she was 5 months old. It gave me something fun to do and when I was frustrated and tired and didn’t know why she was still crying. Looking at those pictures helped me. It made me happy. As she got older looking back at her pictures made me want to live in, and really appreciate the here and now with her. Because in a couple days, a week, or a month or so….she would be totally different. Josephine will never be a newborn again. She will never be 1 month, or 6 months again. Pictures make me sit down and say to myself….enjoy that little girl because soon you will be picking out her outfit for the first day of school. So on good and bad days, since she was born and up until this point….pictures have helped me immensely. I never thought I’d say that the one baby item I couldn’t live without would be my camera….But turns out it is. Love, Kelly.”
Here are more responses. I was very tempted to pick a 2nd and 3rd place, but then there were a few more that were so good, and a few more worth reading…I couldn’t choose! Hope you think so, too.
From Sylvia: “Hi Jessica, here is the best advice I have EVER received—Do the next thing. For example, on the mornings that by breakfast I am overwhelmed thinking about getting to morning nap as well as lunch, afternoon nap, the rest of the week, 3 months from now, and when my youngest leaves for college, I try to refocus and DO and THINK about the next thing—getting the cheerios off the floor before Annabelle drops them all down the air vent. By the time I finish with that task Marcus has brought me a book—I try to DO and THINK about reading to him. I sometimes say out loud, “What is the next thing?”. You see what I am saying? Nothing super spiritual. However, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow and my tomorrow is often 10 minutes from now. Now, can I say that I have completely achieved this doing the next thing–no, because my children are 3 and 1, I am 7 months pregnant and hormonal, and I am a sinner. I am trying my best to allow the Holy Spirit to retrain my thinking to be more focused on doing well what is at hand. I think there should have been a comma somewhere is that sentence but I am not sure where. I have really poor grammar skills. I hope that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!”
From Emily: “3 things: 1. Do what is best for you/your child. This may go against all logic, all experts, all your friends, your mom, your MIL, the books, etc. I was a basket case in the early days because (among other things), I felt pressure to conform to what worked for everyone else. And I failed. Babies/kids are weird and we had to figure it out OUR way. And I reckon it will be this way for as long as we’re parents – trying to figure something out. We’ll want to see input from others, but ultimately, we need to be confident about the way we raise our kids. 2. Antidepressants are sometimes necessary. 3. Develop special rules with your spouse when it comes to communicating during stressful baby/child situations. I could strangle Ben when he did something as innocent as ask “where are the keys” during A’s screaming fits. The rule now: don’t try to talk over screaming. WAIT.”
From Tabitha: To me raising children is kind of like labor. During and after labor all you can think about is how much pain you were in, how difficult it was, the sleeplessness, the pushing, not eating, the baby not cooperating…all of these things are so important at that very moment, but with each passing day they become more and more insignificant. Until eventually one day you wake up and think, that wasn’t so bad, I could do it again! The daily trials of mommyhood are the very same. The sleepless nights, teething, the tantrums, picky eaters, the potty training, the near death experiences:) All of it seems so important at the moment, but with each passing day I think more and more… that wasn’t so bad! Motherhood is a process to me, and it gets better every day. My sister-in-law told me something when Coen was three months old when I was really emotional about him getting older too fast that has really stuck with me. She said she used to get that way too (she had two at the time, now 3), but each age brings new adventure, and there’s something to love about your kids at every age. So i try to think of it this way- In the midst of all the chaos that my days are often filled with, there are lots of giggles, hugs, and kisses in the in between that make me grateful. Because when I’m old and gray, and my kids have grown up and are living their lives, I’ll have the giggles, hugs, and kisses, and everything else won’t seem that bad!
From Tina: On days when Dani (2)is in overdrive, Collin (1)is teething, Collin’s little brother (due in September)is in there partying like its New Years Eve, Brian is out of town working, the house is a mess, the laundry isn’t done, the dogs won’t stop barking, and every other one of Murphy’s Laws is in full affect I stop and remember that out of every mother that has ever lived and will ever live God decided that little old me is the mother He custom designed for my family. Realizing that He believes in me like that helps me to believe in myself.

From Lauren: “Well I’m not a veteran mom or anything, and most of my advice has to do with caring for multiples (if you need to know how to nurse 2 babies at once, I’m your girl!)BUT I would say that when things get hairy, Jeff & I constantly say to each other “you gotta laugh or you’ll cry!” A sense of humor has really helped us – and just having the right attitude. I can choose to have a quiet time before I start my day with my boys, and I can choose to stay calm and laugh or freak out and cry. Sometimes that’s HARD to do but I’m learning every day… and every day we enjoy our twins more & more! Putting things in perspective helps too – I know there are those who can’t have children who would kill to have a crazy day with 2 babies… and watching a good TV show about triplets, quads, or quints always makes my life seem blissful. ha!”
From Jenny: “My mommy advice is whenever i am getting frustrated with jack or im tired or cranky i just tickle him- as silly as it sounds you can not stay stressed mad tired cranky or whatever with your little boy giggling :)”

From Julie: “First, thank the Lord that 99.5% of the time, Owen is such an easy baby. 🙂 Seriously though, I just remind myself that whatever I’m going through – no matter how scary, stressful, exhausting – will only happen once. Good or bad – I don’t get to re-live any of these moments (sometimes hours…) with Owen. I try to just enjoy what I’m going through as much as I possible can. According to Sheila, Uncle Jerry used to say, “These are the longest days and shortest years of your life”. Yes! So why not enjoy them?” ~ Julie Chittock
From Aunt Rebecca: When I think back on those seemingly never ending, exauhasting days of child rearing , priorotizing if I recall, was one of my most helpful coping mechanisms. As an “empty-nester” let me remind you how short life is and how very quickly your children grow up. Choose wisely what you do with your time and consider the effects it will have on you and your family. For example: Which is more important a homecooked meal or a clean kitchen?
I can tell you from my experience that they don’t usually happen on the same day, so opt for the homecooked meal. The dishes can wait your families health can not! Oh, and by the way, no matter what you’ve previously been told, “Hamburger Helper”, is not a homecooked meal. Ok, let’s look at another common scenario and see what kind of choice we should make here. Things have been crazy. You and your children are feeling frazzled. Do I, A: Give the children a bath tonight? or B: Simply wipe their faces, put on some clean pajamas and spend a little extra time reading their favorite books? Well let me answer this with a story about my own mothers’ childhood. Mom was a farm girl, from the little town of Arapaho Nebraska. The whole family worked long hard hours on the farm and , I am assuming, got pretty dirty. They took a bath once a week and all seven siblings shared the same bath water! Everyone survived. So,…. back to your dilemma. I say, get a nice warm face cloth, gently wipe their sweet little faces, put on clean pajamas, (if there are any), and spend that extra time reading. Now some of you may be murmuring under your breath, “Really ,Rebecca, might this just be a clever way of justifying your constant struggle with procrastination?” Well, umm……yes, I suppose you could say,….. alright, alright, often times that was my reasoning. However I have no regrets about the times when I should have been wiping, washing, sweeping dusting, fussing, fumming, and running here and there, and chose to take a walk with my children instead.

From Melissa: ” I have no clue what I do in those stressful times 🙂 It is challenging for me at times as I am often trying to cook dinner while my toddler is going through cabinets and wanting to eat too or wanting to be held. One day it took me a span of 2.5 hours to cook a meal thar should have taken 30 minutes. Somehow I just kept going. I stopped when I had to to feed M and bathe her and get to bed and then finished. How I didn’t give up and throw something I am not sure. Then I decided not to even cook dinner until after M was in bed. So sometimes I eat late. Then some days my dogs are really bad on top of all of this. What do I do to keep going strong? I wish I knew. It is all worth it. I get the sweetest hugs and smiles. If M wants to read 15 books, I do it. We talk and sing a lot. That’s the good stuff. I’m fortunate that M has been a happy baby that likes her sleep. I do make sure to have “me” time every night. Mostly its just watching a show and too often eating icecream. But I feel guilty I’m not cleaning or something else. So, I have no answers. Maybe I do but just don’t know how to articulate it. But Id like to hear advice because I think I will need clear tips if we are blessed with another little one because that will take everything to a whole new level!”

From Lesli: The thing that has kept me sane through the 4 years so far of motherhood has been my “playgroup moms.” There are 4 of us total, and we became friends when our oldests were all in the 3-6 month range and now have 9(soon to be 10) children between us. In the early days, it was our weekly time to talk while the babies laid on the floor. Now that theSee More actual playgroup is slightly controlled chaos, we meet for “dinner” about every 3 weeks. We go out after the kids are down and have stayed at the restaurant as late as 3 am before. It is time for us just to sit, talk, and have ADULT interaction. We’ve discussed everything from potty training to weaning, to when to have another baby, etc. I honestly don’t think I could do this without knowing they are there!!
From Sheila: What gets me though are the moments before and in-between the exhaustion… the arms wrapped around my neck when I pick him up in the morning all the way down the stairs…the sloppy kisses and belly laughs and games of hide and seek… When I’m in the moment of ‘tired suck’ there is no magic thing that helps… but thinking of the good stuff keeps me slightly sane:)
From Megan: For me, my sanity rests primarily in knowing that God is in control, that he loves my son more than I can (so I can relax) and that he loves ME more than I know! I try to keep verses that remind me of this not only on my mirror, but in the places Caspian frustrates me the most- Above his changing table, on his high chair and on the bookcase (which is OFF LIMITS!).
Also…I really like to know in those moments that I’m working toward something specific with my son. I thought this might answer a question you had a while back too, about what activities you can do with your kids. My sister did a blog post ( about what she did with her son this week. She is putting him through ‘tot school’. Its a blog site where moms with different aged children post what they’re doing with their kids. This really helps me, who can be creative but not for long~! LOL. It’s nice to see what other moms are doing for their kids and use their ideas. Check it out!