Gumptions

Let’s Get Forreals

Forreals: an emotional way to agree with something. (According to Urban Dictionary)

My Mom calls me on FaceTime each morning so that she can see Little Man, and yesterday morning was no exception. I waited for the call as I was scraping Eli’s breakfast remains off the floor, contemplating pulling out my new Awesome Carpet Cleaner to remove the fresh stains. I decided to leave them. A 6:15 wake up call + leaky diaper + fussy baby + refusal of breakfast + refusal of toys + husband out of town + inspection guys coming at who knows what hour today + I’m starving and haven’t had breakfast, or coffee, or gone to the bathroom, or brushed my teeth yet, sent me  into a breakdown. I sat on the phone, crying like an emotional basket case, describing my morning to my Mom. She gave me encouragement then did what she knew I needed, let my sister know.

Later, my sweet sister called to check on me. They just moved to Oklahoma for her husband’s medical school residency, and I miss her terribly. Almost every week prior to the move, we got together with our kids and were able to catch up, and encourage each other. Um, did I say I miss her?

Being a wiser, more experienced mother of two precious girls, she was able to relate to what I was going through. This thing called motherhood is tough. It is a job in which you give every bit of yourself, and get little in return. It is a perfect picture of servanthood and selflessness.

We decided to make a pact to encourage one another, and to encourage other mothers through our blogs. We both have blogs that we check everyday, that we really love reading. But, sometimes after we get finished reading them, we feel worse about ourselves. I’m not creative enough, my house isn’t pretty enough, I don’t cook as well as her, my kids aren’t as well behaved, how does she look that good? how does she have time for all of that?

Blogs are wonderful because they inspire us. But often times the blogger only shares the “good” parts of his/her life. I am guilty of this too. It is almost as if a blog is a blissful diary with perfect snapshots and entries of our lives. But we are forgetting one important part: the ugly. The tough spots are what help us grow and allow us to become relatable to others. Don’t we all, deep down inside, just want to know that we aren’t alone? That we aren’t the only ones who don’t have it all figured out?

I want a make a promise to you all, whoever is reading out there, that I am going to be much more intentional about sharing the “nitty gritty” bits of my life, along with the good. Hopefully in doing this, I can encourage and uplift you even more!

 

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Gumptions

Thrifty Shopping

Last week I decided it was time to clean out Eli’s dresser. For some reason, every three months I fall into a sense of denial about Little Man growing out of his clothes. For days, I stretched and tugged his outfits like they were an old pair of skinny jeans I wanted to fit back into, but I was still unable to comfortably button him up. I knew it was time. He needed to go up a size.

I sat him on the floor with me, gave him a bucket of toys, and got to work. My current organization strategy is simply to label garbage bags with sizes, fill them up, and toss them in the closet for our next child. One ambitious day in the future, I will revisit the bags, and put them in more attractive, organized bins.

Fifteen minutes later, I had all of his outfits folded and categorized in piles, ready to be bagged. I stepped out of the room for one minute to grab a sharpie and garbage bags, only to come back to find Eli…in a pile of clothes, squealing with delight as he pulled one article of clothing at a time from my neat piles, tossing them left and right. The combination of the clothes and toys sprawled across the floor made his nursery look like a baby bomb had just gone off. I smiled at him, stuffed the clothes in the bags, and called it a day.

Revisiting the multitude of clothes we had crammed in his dresser helped me realize just how many clothes went months without being worn. I had my “go-to” outfits that were easy to take on and off, were soft, and cute. He wore these the most, and little else. I plan on using these clothes again when we have more children, but I still felt guilty spending all that money on clothes that we really didn’t need.

A gracious family friend had given us two full bags of clothes that her son had outgrown when Eli was first born. I had already washed and sized these, so I pulled them out to see what else we needed. I thought about what Eli had actually worn the past three months, and made a minimal list of the basic essentials he would need this summer.

Instead of heading to the mall, or hopping on my computer to order brand new clothes, we packed up and went to Once Upon A Child. This store buys and sells gently used clothing, among other things, for a fraction of the retail cost. Yes, they are used. Yes, some of you might be cringing right now. But I don’t mind. There are things that I believe are worth buying new, but other things that I think are a much better value and investment to buy used. I know now just how little infant clothes get worn, because they can only fit in them for short periods of time. This, combined with a good wash, and a reliable brand name is all I need for convincing.

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I purchased:

3 button down shirts

2 rompers

3 pair of overalls

3 polos

3 pair of shorts

For only $50! That’s an average of $3.57 per item! 

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I was really excited to count up the savings and we didn’t have to compromise on style or quality. All of the clothes were originally from Gap, Gymboree, Children’s Place, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, and Ralph Lauren. Win, Win!

So if you are in need of some new seasonal clothes for your little one, consider buying used! It really is fun hunting down deals and seeing what you can find.

Happy saving!

 

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Cook-ing, Little Man

BLW Tools, Tips, & Recipes

As promised, I wanted to follow up with my first post about Baby-Led Weaning. If you missed this post, pop over and read it before you continue! This is a somewhat lengthy post, but I wanted to include everything so that you lovelies wouldn’t have to jump around too much to find the information!

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BLW is really fun and easy, and one of the biggest perks is that it doesn’t require fancy equipment. When I was pregnant, I knew I would opt out of buying store bought baby food because I wanted to save money and experiment with making my own. Then I learned about BLW and realized that I could actually cook for my baby without all of the specialized equipment, or hassle of pureeing everything. The only items I needed to start were the following.

Tools:

Steamer– you can buy a specialty steamer, but it’s really not necessary. There are many alternatives. You could buy steaming bowls that nestle inside your saucepans; you could also just use a saucepan with a tiny bit of water at the bottom, covering it with a lid to create steam. If you don’t mind microwaving, you could get an inexpensive microwave steamer. In a pinch, I have even used a microwave safe glass bowl, put a little water in the bottom, covered with press and seal, and poked some holes in the top for a DIY steamer! Works like a charm. Whatever you decide, you will need a steamer to soften fruit and vegetables so that your little one can easily break it apart without any teeth.

Sheet pans– one of my favorite ways to cook fruits and vegetables is to roast them in the oven. They soften, caramelize, and take on a completely different flavor than when they are steamed. Now, I know all of you who do even minor cooking have sheet pans lying around. I have found it useful to have half sheet pans and quarter sheet pans. Half are great for roasting a lot of vegetables at once, so they have room to be spread out in a single layer. Quarters are convenient for smaller portions. The ones linked are my favorites.

A simple food processor– I know what you’re thinking, I thought you just said you don’t puree foods! I use my food processor for making dips and spreads that can go on things like toast, rice cakes, english muffins, and fruits and vegetables. The Kitchenaid model that I got as a wedding gift fits the bill, but if you are looking for a less expensive option, I also love my compact Cuisinart Smart Stick.

*I am not a fan of specialty food equipment, or things that only serve one purpose. I like the idea of having tools in the kitchen that I can use in multiple ways. A steamer, sheet pans, and food processors will be used in my kitchen, baby or no baby, for years to come!

High chair– one of the principles of BLW is for the child to be apart of the dining experience. This means they sit at the table with the family and eat the same food. In doing this, they learn the important social aspects of mealtime. We own the Trip Trap Highchair by Stokke, and absolutely love it.

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It was an investment piece, and it will adapt with Eli as he grows. There are less expensive options that provide the same experience. Two of my favorite alternatives are the Keekaroo Height Right and the Inglesina Fast Table Chair.

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Bibs– stock up on a lot of these, you will need one for every meal. I would recommend making a few of your own that don’t attach with velcro, Eli figured out how to pull his velcro ones off after a few short weeks!

Splash Mat– you can buy these online, or do what I did and purchase a $2 shower curtain liner. BIGGER SURFACE AREA. I’m thinking about making my own cuter splash mat, so lookout for a DIY post in a few weeks.

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Tips:

1. When preparing meals, think “finger” shaped. This shape is the easiest for babies to manage in the beginning.

2. Buy organic when you can, and rinse all fruit and vegetables before cutting them.

3. Leave the peel and skins on fruit and vegetables, this makes even the slipperiest foods easier to grasp. You will be amazed at how they manage to eat around it. Examples: avocado, banana, oranges, pineapple, watermelon, kiwi, cucumber.

4. Give your baby more than one option to choose from at meals. A variety is best.

5. Don’t be afraid to introduce herbs and spices. Eli has tried just about every fresh and dried herb, and loves cinnamon, cumin, and paprika. Avoid salt.

6. Wait until your baby reaches a year old to introduce allergy prone foods such as egg whites, nuts, shellfish, and cows milk.

7. Read up on choking hazards, and know what to do if and when your baby chokes. When they are first learning, they tend to swallow things too quickly. This is normal, and they will learn how to manage quantities better in a few weeks.

8. Rinse their mouth with water. This is the perfect time to introduce a sippy cup if you haven’t already.

9. Be prepared to get messy! This is how your baby is learning and exploring, embrace it!

10. Be patient. Your baby will most likely need between 20-30 minutes to enjoy a meal. An hour before Eli takes a nap, we eat. This gives him 30 minutes to eat, and 30 minutes for me to get him cleaned up, changed, and nursed before nap.

11. Enjoy the process. Don’t be offended if your little one doesn’t gobble up everything you prepare. Introduce it later and see if they have changed their preferences. Know that it is normal for babies to eat a lot one day, and not much the next. They are “weaning” and learning how to regulate how much they need or want to eat. Trust them. Just continue with milk feedings.

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Now for the fun part! Here are a few recipe ideas to try with your little one! I tried to combine flavors, textures, and colors that go well together. Who says babies should have bland, boring meals? I hope you find them helpful. Some of these recipes are more appropriate once your baby has gotten the hang of swallowing and using the pincher reflex. I have noted those below.

Recipes:

Breakfast

Rice Cake with Cottage Cheese and Steamed Peaches

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Strawberries, Banana in Peel, and Oatmeal Balls

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*Oatmeal Balls are best for more experiences eaters.

Tropical Fruit: Mango, Kiwi, and Pineapple

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Whole Wheat English Muffin with Blueberry Cream Cheese and Steamed Peaches

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*Toast the muffin to make it easier to grasp. Combine 4 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup blueberries in a mixer until blueberries are smooshed and distributed evenly.

Egg Yolk Omelet, Sliced Cherry Tomatoes, and Potato Wedges with Chives

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Only use the egg yolk, and cook completely. I prefer to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they cook quickly and have a buttery flavor.

Lunch

Roasted Vegetables

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*Cut into finger shapes, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender. Stir every 5 minutes.

Toasted Breadsticks with Hummus and Orange Slices

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*Hummus Recipe

Flaked Salmon and Dipped Cucumbers

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil over the salmon, and bake at 350 degrees until slightly firm when pressed in the center, about 10-12 minutes. Flake with a fork. Green Herb Dip (omit salt and pepper).

Cheese Toast with Steamed Apples

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*Place a slice of all natural deli cheese (I like Sargento) on a slice of bread. Toast at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bread is toasted, about 5 minutes. Apples are great sprinkled with cinnamon.

Dinner 

Fusilli Spaghetti with Steamed Broccoli

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*Pasta best for more experienced eaters. Cook pasta according to package directions. Mix in an organic spaghetti sauce, such as Muir Glen. Top with fresh basil and parmesan.

Rice Cake with Black Bean Dip and Avocado

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*Black Bean Dip (omit the pumpkin seeds and salt)

Basmati Rice and Red Beans

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*Best for more experienced eaters. Simply drain and rinse the beans, then smoosh them with a fork.

Pesto Rigatoni with Mushrooms and Peas

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*Best for more experienced eaters. You can make your own pesto, or buy a jarred sauce. I prefer Classico brand because it does not have nuts. Saute mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, 5-7 minutes until soft. I use frozen peas and mix them with the pasta once cooked; it thaws them perfectly. Top with shredded parmesan.

English Muffin Pizza

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*Slice a whole wheat english muffin and spread with an organic pasta sauce, such and Muir Glen. Top with all natural shredded mozzarella, such as Sargento. Sprinkle with dried italian seasoning, or other dried herb of your preference. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and muffin is toasted.

Favorite “Quick Snacks”

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*You can purchase all of these at target.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share any meals that your little one enjoys! I love to get new ideas!

 

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Gumptions

Friday Favorite: Good Reads

I wish I liked to read novels. Sitting around a book club circle discussing character growth and plot dynamics sounds so appealing to me. But, the truth is I get more engrossed in nonfiction, books that teach me something. Design books are always in my reading rotation, here are two of my favorites.

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The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well by Deborah Needleman is one of my all time favorite design books. This past week, I read it for the third time, and was just as inspired as during my previous reads. The book is filled with beautiful watercolor drawings and practical, thoughtful design ideas for each room. Some of her chapters include topics such as: “Glamifications,” “Pillow Recipe” for the perfectly made bed, and “A Well Stocked Pantry”. In short-essay form, she wittily explains how to personalize your home so that it reflects your lifestyle. I love the rawness of this book, and how it speaks to the everyday woman who wants a beautiful, functional home that her family can comfortably and happily dwell in.

Inspired You by Miss Mustard Seed is a wonderful summer read. This blogger is known for her easy DIY projects, and more famously, her furniture refinishing techniques and tutorials. I love her thrifty suggestions, and the underlying spiritual roots of the book.

Our homes are never going to be perfect; they are a continual work in progress, much like ourselves. They are structures that should welcome us, serve us, and provide us with a place to make memories. They should make us feel comfortable and, for a time, relieve us of the pressures and business that happens outside their walls. These two books will dive even deeper into this notion, and provide ways to make your home reach it’s full potential! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, happy reading!

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Little Man

A Look Back at 6 and 7 Months

I can’t take it…my sweet baby boy is all grown up! He hardly seems like a baby these days. His growing independence is so bitter sweet; I love that he is exploring and trying new things, but it kills me to know that these precious baby moments are slipping away. My daily prayer is that I savor each and every minute, and don’t take them for granted.

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Dear Eli,

These past two months have been such a blast! I feel like you and I have finally found a sweet spot, a rhythm, and we are having so much fun learning together. You are much more content to play on your own, and with others. You are a little giggle box, and always have a smile to shine. Recently, you have been flashing what I call your “chester grin”- you smile so big that your little nose scrunches and your sweet eyes squint. You hold it…until we notice and give you one right back. You freely give these out to strangers while running errands with Momma. You. Are. Precious.

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Around 7 months you started to hold yourself up in a sitting position. This, we both loved. You were now able to play with toys in a whole new way! Momma would still sit close by, because the occasional ker-plunk was not fun for anybody! A couple weeks later, you discovered that you could go from a lying position to a sitting position. While on your tummy, you would use your hands to back yourself up until you were sitting, legs in a giant split. You were so proud of yourself- and so was I. This was your entertainment for the next week.

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Then you pulled out the big guns and began scooting yourself over to things that you wanted, picture an army crawl. After noticing this, I decided to see how far you might go. Shiny objects did the trick, namely, my phone or iPad. You were on your way, nothing stopping you. At 8 months, I can barely keep up! You have even started touching edges of furniture…I can just see you thinking, if only I could just pull up on this. You love to turn the DVD player on and off, and I have even caught you pulling out the cd and chewing on it. You love cords, and remember where they are. Momma is always on her toes now.

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Your favorite game is peekaboo. I will put you in one spot, like your crib or a pillow fort and pretend I can’t find you. You think it is hilarious every time! You are super ticklish deep under your ribcage, but nowhere else. Daddy likes to hold you upside-down, and put stuff on your head and you love to rip it off and giggle every time. You’re not so into your jumparoo anymore, you like to play on the floor with your toys. Some of your favorites are rags, wooden toys, stacking cups, chew beads, and a water bottle filled with popcorn kernels that Mommy made you. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  is your favorite book, actually, the only book at this point that will keep your attention.

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Your personality is coming out more and more as the months pass. You love to scratch things, and feel their texture. You study objects and people, and I believe have a deep intuition. You’re curious and love to explore. You are so silly sometimes, and your laugh is infectious. You are very decisive about what you like and dislike, even at this young age. You have such a sweet side, and love to give snuggles. You are babbling and talking all the time. You can say Mama, Dada, and have recently been pronouncing “g”.

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At your 6-month checkup you weighed in at a whopping 18 lbs.! You have steadily grown out of your 3-6 months outfits and are now wearing 6-9 months. Your little head of hair grew back in and is fairly light, much like Mommy and Daddy’s was at your age. That sweet smile is still all gums, which is just fine with me; I adore your toothless grin.

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We introduced you to the world of foods with a banana and you devoured it. My boy! We began the process of baby led weaning and you are loving it. We are still on-demand breastfeeding, usually in the morning, before and after naps, and before bed. You are such an adventurous eater who is willing to try anything. I love that about you, and it makes me enjoy cooking in a whole new way. Avocado, kiwi, potato wedges, broccoli, pasta, and cheese are your favorite foods.  Over the past 2 months, you have gotten better with your hands and swallowing. You started using your pincher reflex to pick up food and can manage a sippy cup now. You love water. On the rare occasion that you taste something and don’t like it, you drop it to the floor and move on. It is so funny watching you do this. You love to make a mess. I love to watch you make a mess. Instead of using the “all done” sign that I have desperately tried to teach you, you simply pull off your bib once you are finished. To stop you from doing this when you’re really messy, I strategically save the messiest meals and baprons for dinner, so I can just dump you in the tub.

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Cloth diapering was brought to a whole new level with solid foods coming in and out, but we are going strong. Daddy set up the bidet sprayer and we have been using liners to help make things easier. THIS IS LOVE.

You started taking baths in the tub like a big boy. Daddy taught you how to splash the water…all over Mommy…thanks for that. You love to scoop up toys, and chew on washcloths. I love getting you all squeaky clean and smelling yummy. We sing our songs and do our bedtime routine, and talk about what kinds of dreams you are going to have based off your pajamas. Are you going to sail the seven seas and find treasure in your pirate pj’s or be the brave zookeeper in your animal pj’s? You give me a big smile when we have these discussions. I will never forget how perfect you feel in my arms as I rock you to sleep, and pray over you, my dear son.

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Sleep training was a big accomplishment these past 2 months. It was not an easy journey, but it was well worth it. You take 2 naps a day, at 9 and 12, and sometimes a late afternoon power nap at 3:30. You slowly went from waking up after 30 minutes, to waking up after 45, and are now usually sleeping through the hour. When you do wake up, Mommy goes in for some hugs, and you go right back to sleep.

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You wake up through the night a few times, if you have bad dreams or your gums are bothering you. We go in and hold you in our arms and sway you, and you put your head on our shoulder and fall back asleep. These are some of the most precious moments Mommy and Daddy share with you. In the middle of the night, you nurse once, and go back to sleep on your own. You are very attached to your lovey bear. Mommy fills the crib with paci’s so you can find them at night. You can grab and put them in your mouth on your own. You love to sleep with your face up against the bumper, or even with your lovey on your face. You are an evening acrobat- you sleep with your leg up on the bumper, on your tummy, on your back, but mostly your side. You will travel every inch of that crib by morning!

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My sweet boy, can you tell I adore you? I feel so honored to call you mine. I love you ‘lijah bear.

 

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