Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rain

I love it when it rains in the desert. The monsoon rain storms tend to come on suddenly with a lot of wind, water, thunder and lightening.
An hour ago the sky was partly cloudy, but the sun was shining and there was still a lot of blue. Now, it is pouring! This is a beautiful storm to watch from inside. It is the kind of storm that makes you glad you have an inside to go to.

The only downside is that I can't get the sewing done that I'd like to...
Sometimes I wish the dog weren't so afraid of thunder. Though to be fair, the lightening is pretty close. I guess I'll just have to be glad that my laptop has a battery, the bread just came out of the oven and that A. is happy to play while I knit because I get the feeling swimming is out of the question...

Friday, August 20, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - Inspired by Soulemama. In her words: A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you want to participate head over to her blog and enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Homemade Baby Food

Before A. was born I was pretty sure that I would make my own baby food. A friend had told me how easy it was and one look at the price of those tiny jars was enough to convince me that it made economic sense. My only worry was finding the time, but I had visions of being crazy productive during the long naps I was sure my baby would take. After A. was born I realized that finding time might be harder than I thought and was starting to waffle on the idea of making my own baby food when she developed food allergies. She was allergic to dairy, soy and corn which meant that many of those jars and boxes of baby food were off limits to her. There is only one brand of rice cereal that she can have and only one brand of puffs. While many of the "stage 1" foods were okay, the later stages were more questionable. Even the standard toddler fair of Cheerios is off limits for the time being (she seems to have outgrown the allergies, but we aren't going to reintroduce the food to her until after her first birthday). Luckily I like cooking and DH was more than willing to play with A. in the evenings while I cooked. I scoured the internet to find recipes convinced that with the popularity of prepackaged baby food it had to be hard to make your own. I came across a website with a ton of information on what to fix and how to fix it. I also had a baby food cookbook and a couple of different sized ice cube trays for freezing so I set myself a time and went for it.

It really was easy once I got into the swing of things. I did have some problems like the time the prunes wouldn't come out of the ice cube trays (turns out the puree was too thick so they never fully froze) or the time that I wound up giving up on the blender and the food processor for my sweet potatoes and running the whole thing through the food mill. Then there was the time that I was trying to mash a banana with a fork, only to have bits go flying out of the bowl onto the floor...But other than that it was really easy. I learned that it makes more sense to combine making the baby food with making my food which saved me a ton of time. If I was roasting a chicken for dinner I would wrap a few sweet potatoes in foil and throw them in the oven too. Pull them out with the chicken and set them aside to cool. By the time we were done with dinner they were cool enough I didn't burn myself and the skins would peel off with the foil. Then I'd run them through the food mill (neither my food processor nor my blender liked how thick the roasted sweet potatoes were) and throw everything into ice cube trays. If I needed to make carrots I would make enough that DH and I could have carrots with dinner and then throw the rest in the food processor for A. Between this and a few batches of steamed fruit we were able to get through the puree stage. Now we are to the stage that I would have preferred to start with had A. not been so demanding about starting solids before she could feed them to herself. (I'd really wanted to try "baby led weaning", but starting at 4.5 months A. would scream if she saw us eating and not sharing. The first time we gave her applesauce she scarfed down as much as we would give her.)

Now that we are out of the puree stage and into the finger food stage things have gotten both easier and harder. Life is easier because I don't have to worry about pureeing or mashing foods specifically for A. Her favorite thing is to eat whatever we are eating. However, this means that whatever we are eating has to have something that she can eat too. She also prefers to feed herself so whatever we do has to be something that she can pick up with her fingers as she hasn't mastered a spoon yet. This means that if we have something like soup I have to figure out a way to feed her too. In some cases it is easy enough to just pull some meat and/or veggies out of the soup and give her those. In others she may get something completely different from what we are having. However, this post is getting really long so I will talk about the specifics of finger foods another day. I mostly want to say that if you don't mind some failures you can make your own baby food. In our case it was very much needed both from an financial standpoint and an allergy standpoint, but next time I think I will do it even if those aren't concerns just because it is fun to be able to play with stuff and it is nice to know exactly where the food is coming from. That is, unless I can convince the next kid to hold off on solids until they can feed themselves...

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Think I Need An Intervention

As I mentioned before, A. decided a few days ago that she really does like hair bows. The problem is that all of the really cute bows are too big and/or too expensive (or require waiting for them to be shipped and I'm impatient). Of course my solution was to try making one myself. Well, one has turned into five and I'm really wanting to make more. These bows really can be addicting, especially with all the pretty ribbon available. So far I have managed to resist the siren song of the ribbon, but it sure is taking a lot of will power...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Solar Power

In many ways solar power for our homes is a nice idea, but out of most people's price range. There is one case, however, where this isn't as true. What would you say if I told you that you could buy a solar powered clothes dryer for less than $15 (or a high-end, top of the line model for under $50)? What if I told you that it would make your whites whiter and could dry your clothes in less than half the time of a normal dryer? Not only that, but it is easier on your clothes so that they will last longer. This amazing dryer doesn't heat up the house the way a conventional dryer does and can even leave your children with fond memories of it's use. Yet, despite all of it's wonderful attributes, this solar powered clothes dryer is anathema to most HOAs. Can you guess what I'm talking about? Yup, it's a clothesline...
They are generally frowned upon because they are considered "low class" or "trashy". (Which is really funny since Martha Stewart is one of the biggest proponents of line drying clothes.) The bottom line is that there are some times when a clothesline is much better than an electric dryer. In Arizona small things are frequently dry by the time you finish hanging up the rest of the load and your sheets don't get as wrinkled. Plus, there is nothing nicer than standing between two wet sheets hanging up laundry on a hot day. (Really, I'm not a masochist, we don't have that type of humidity so it is lovely and cool.) Having grown up with both I've been missing having access to a clothesline and finally decided that I don't care about the HOA and installed one that I can pull down when it's not in use. I spent less than $15 for everything I needed (including clothes pins) and only took a few minutes to install. If this one works half as well as I foresee we will be installing more eye bolts and making some extra removable lines with clips on each end so that we can hang even more of our laundry out. I am really looking forward to saving electricity and money. (Especially since the A/C won't have to work as hard to keep the house cool on laundry day.)

How about you? Have you ever used a clothesline? How did you like it? Would you consider trying it again (or even for the first time)? If you don't like a clothesline or agree with the HOA that they should be outlawed, why? I'd love to hear everyone's opinion on the subject so please share.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Imperfectly Adorable...

I was reading a blog post today about imperfection and how none of us really talk about the bad or hard parts of our lives or the ways in which we fail. That made me think of this video of A. playing with the dog. It is horribly cute, but you can see what a mess the house is and she was only wearing a diaper (my only excuse is that it was right after dinner). I worried that people might judge me because (in addition to everything else) I am letting the dog play with my baby and shouldn't I be protecting her better? That said, it is a cute video (or at least I think so) and in my heart I know that the clutter has since been picked up, A. is now dressed in her PJ's happily sleeping, and the dog in question is incredibly tolerant and would never try to hurt her (plus DH and I were both right there). Therefore, please enjoy it (and if you want to judge my house or my parenting, please don't tell me).

video

{this moment}


{this moment} - Inspired by Soulemama. In her words: A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you want to participate head over to her blog and enjoy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pasta Salad

A's sleep schedule has been really weird lately. She used to consistently take 2 naps ranging from 1.5-2 hours each. This meant that DH would come home for lunch right after she woke up and we could have a nice family lunch and some play time before he headed back to work and we got on with our afternoon. Unfortunately, she is now switching to one longer nap right smack in the middle of the day. Gone is the family lunch unless we can managed to eat really late or really early. A late lunch works okay, unless we have plans for the afternoon in which case we can't get anywhere before 3 or 4. Then I had an idea, we'll have a family picnic. There is a nice, shady park close to DH's work and if I have lunch ready before A. wakes up from her nap we can go eat lunch together, drop him back at work and make it to our activities. Unfortunately, I came up with this idea after she was down for her nap and we didn't have sandwich makings in the house so I needed something else that would make good picnic food and be baby friendly (she eats what we do). I thought of pasta salad, but none of the recipes I found fit what we had so I had to get creative. Here is what I came up with, it has the added advantage of letting me use up some of the veggies from our CSA share, feel free to add whatever veggies you have on hand. You could also cook dried kidney beans for the salad which is much cheaper (and healthier) than canned, but it takes thinking ahead. This makes a giant batch so we will have plenty of left-overs for quick snacks and lunches later in the week. Enjoy!

1/2c olive oil
1/2c red wine vinegar
1/4c canola oil (or more Olive Oil)
1tsp. oregano
2 cloves minced garlic
1tbs. sugar
1/2tsp. salt
8oz uncooked pasta (bowties or spirals work well)
1 red onion
1 bell pepper
1 can kidney beans
2 medium zucchini
other veggies (optional)
1oz. crumbled feta
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. 2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, sugar and salt. 3. Chop the onion and dice the bell pepper and add them to the dressing. 4. Add the cooked pasta to the dressing and stir. 5. Chop the zucchini and any other veggies and add them along with the beans and the feta. 6. Give everything a good stir and refrigerate it at least an hour, though preferably overnight. 7. Add salt and pepper as needed to correct the seasoning right before serving.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Of Bows and Begging Dogs

A. has never liked bows. Even when she was only a couple of days old she would grab at the headband and try to pull it off. I never really forced the issue, but each time we were given a bow or she was wearing an outfit where one of the bows we had would be cute I'd try it again. Unfortunately, the bow rarely lasted more than 10 minutes before it was being pulled off and thrown. Eventually I decided that it was a battle not worth fighting and gave up on the bows. That lasted until she turned 10 months old (it happened a few days ago and I am a bad mommy and didn't say anything). At this point her bangs are long enough that they are brushing her eyebrows and I was seriously considering cutting them. I didn't want to cut her hair and I'd really rather sweep them over to the side, but what's a mom to do when her daughter hates bows? I decided to try again. On a whim I bought some little barrettes and tried them. She loves them. I swept her bangs to the side and put the pink one in to hold them in place. She was so cute and I told her so. This made her grin. :) We were still out running errands (I'd tried the bow as soon as we got out of the store) so we tried the acid test of the car seat. I sat in back while K. drove so I could see what she was doing because I didn't want her pulling it out and trying to eat it. She just kept grinning! She kept it on for all of our errands and up until it was bedtime. I'm so happy that she has finally learned to like bows. Unfortunately, the other thing she learned this week doesn't make me quite so happy. She has learned to feed the dog from the table. It started when the dogs (especially Bueford) noticed she wasn't always the best at getting the food in her mouth and would sometimes drop it on the ground on accident. Under the high chair became a favorite spot during meals and we didn't stop it because it did make clean-up easier. (Don't worry, I still mop frequently, the dogs just get the big chunks before A. can get down and try to put them in her mouth before I can grab them.) At some point A. noticed the dogs going for the food she dropped and that it made them happy so she started dropping food on purpose. Bueford immediately picked up on the new game during snack time and by lunch we had this...


Now for the fun part of breaking the dogs of begging while teaching A. not to feed them. For some reason though, I think that DH and I may be the only ones bothered by the new arrangement...

Friday, August 6, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - Inspired by Soulemama. In her words: A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you want to participate head over to her blog and enjoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Take a Hike!

The teething continues...A. is not sleeping well and to say that she is "fussy" would be an understatement. Sometimes she is happy to play for a bit, but as soon as she gets distracted from her play she is not a happy camper. Meanwhile the high today was 105 and it was already in the mid 80s and sticky by 8am. We both love going for walks, but this is not walking weather. So here we are, trapped. Or were, until I decided to go for a hike. We have a mountain nearby and the elevation makes it cooler up there than it is down here. So grabbed my gear (well, actually I grabbed DH's fanny pack and threw my first aid kit, survival kit, snacks and water into it) and the BabyHawk, threw on my boots and off we went to a trail I hadn't hiked since I was pregnant with A. (After making sure that DH knew our exact ETA and which trails we'd be on, of course.)

A. napped in the car on the way up the mountain and was more than happy to ride on my back while we had an "adventure". We saw flowers, and ladybugs and beautiful views. I told her about some of the different plants and we watched birds hop along the trail. We were lucky to find random strangers willing to take a picture of us and had a blast. We even saw something that is very rare here in the Southwest, we saw water!

I am so glad that we went for a hike this morning. We can't do it every morning (I am envious of those that can), but as an occasional treat it is lovely. I can't think of a better way to have spent the morning with my poor teething girl.

What do you do to distract yourself from unpleasant things? Do you have a special place that you go? And for you moms, any tips on dealing with the teething? We've tried everything from teething tablets to tylenol to cold teething rings and I'm afraid of ambisol. At this point I'm assuming we'll have to weather it out and hope the teeth come soon, but if anyone has tips I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Teething...

A. had a pretty toothless grin until she was 9.5 months old. She would occasionally act like she was teething, but we never saw any teeth until last week when she got her first tooth. Now, as best I can tell, she's working on at least 3-4 more...she wants to be next to me constantly. Thank goodness for babywearing. We are dancing and baking and doing the dishes. While she's not happy, she's happier than she was.

ETA:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Peaches and Zuccinni and Greenbeans, Oh My!

This has been a crazy, crazy weekend. I'd love to fill you all in, but it will take a while. Also, there is one more post in my "Sewing for Baby" series that will be focusing on where to buy handmade items for your child. However, life has been so crazy lately that it is still only half written. Therefore, first I will update you guys on life and then I will finish that post and post it. Last Saturday we took part in what is quickly becoming an annual tradition for our family. We piled into the car with some friends and drove to a U-Pick orchard and farm about an hour away. When we got there it was drizzling off and on and cool, but not cold. We started off in the peach orchard where each family picked 18-20lbs of peaches. We also enjoyed peach ice cream, kettle corn and good company. I can't think of a better way to spend a day. Unless of course you then head over to pick veggies like we did.There were so many yummy vegetables, but the rain had stopped and the day was getting warm and muggy so we went quickly. We started with bell peppers and moved on to zucchini. I must say, these were some off the happiest zucchini I have ever seen, and quite tasty too. We also picked a bunch of green beans for freezing. It is so easy to freeze green beans and they are so much better and cheaper this way. We picked 5 lbs and will pick more when we go back for apples in the fall. The only problem was that picking produce ran into A's nap time, luckily she was more than happy to snuggle in and fall asleep on Daddy's back despite the heat. If you have kids or would like to have more control over where your veggies come from (or both) U-pick orchards and farms make for a fun weekend. Between freezing, canning and dehydrating you can save a lot of food for winter while saving money. It takes a lot of time to pick and preserve your own food, but when that time is spent working together as a family it can be a wonderful adventure. (Plus, a counter full of peaches make it hard to resist replacing at least one meal with peach cobber.)