Friday, November 30, 2012

Baby's Transition to Whole Cow's Milk


Weaning Harry off his formula was a daunting task to say the least. Formula/breast feeding is so easy... a well-rounded meal all in one bottle (or breast). There's very little to think about since all baby's nutritional needs come from one place. By the time a baby turns one, they should be getting most, or all of their nutrients from food and milk.

Around the time he turned eleven months old I started researching what type of milk to give Harry. Non-animal milks (almond, soy, etc.) were out for us because they don't have the fat content needed for healthy brain development (obviously these milks are preferred for those with milk allergies). I thought about giving him goat's milk at first. From what I gathered online it's closer to breast milk than cow's milk and is easier to digest. However, it's not available at our grocery store. Yes, I could go to another store for the goat's milk, but doing that once or twice a week for one item would get old real fast. Since Harry never had any troubles with his cow's milk-based formulas, I decided to start him on organic whole cow's milk.

Originally I bought a milk that was fortified with extra DHA and Omega-3s. While the extra nutrients are certainly advantageous, it was hard to get Harry to drink it. I read online somewhere that it had a funny taste, so I assume that's why he was spitting a lot of it out at the beginning. We then switched to regular whole cow's milk and he seems to like that much better.

Here's a quick rundown of how we transitioned Harry. Hopefully this schedule will be a helpful guideline for you to follow, but of course, talk with your child's doctor before making the switch.

(All ages are approximate)

11.25 months: I started giving Harry a couple ounces of milk as a snack
11.5 months: Harry got sick, so we abandoned the milk for the week
11.75 months: Started giving him milk as a snack again
12 months: Switched midday bottle for a "big boy" lunch
12.25ish months: Switched morning bottle for a "big boy" breakfast and milk
12.5 months: Switched his nighttime bottle for a couple ounces of milk

I'm glad we took the transition slow. I know some people go cold turkey, but I don't think it would have gone well for us. We've now been bottle free for about a week and it's been great! I do need to work on getting him to drink more, though. He probably drinks between 7-10 ounces a day, and I think the recommended amount for toddlers is at least 12 ounces.

Oh, and I should also mention his milk has always been given to him in a sippy cup. If we continued to struggle with him spitting it out I would have tried it in a bottle, but I'm glad we never had to go there. As far as what brands we use, we've got Playtex, Nuby, Nuk, Munchkin and Tommee Tippee cups. All straws. The Tommee Tippee cups are probably my favorite!

If you've transitioned your baby to whole cow's milk, what worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

And just for fun...

Clapping! And eating a Goldfish cracker :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

DIY Cake Smash Tips



Cake smashes are the latest trend in infant photography. I think a lot of parents view them as right of passage into toddler-hood for their babies since they're usually the first time a baby will eat sweets. We did out cake smash just a few days shy of Harry's first birthday, but I know some parents like to get them done a month or so in advance so the pictures can be used on birthday party invitations.

Set-Up

I've seen some awesome outdoor cake smashes, but since the weather is so cold in Chicago now that wasn't a feasible option for us. Something that was feasible was creating our own little portrait studio in our living room. Here's what the set-up looked like.


I used two dowel rods attached to our bookshelf so I could hang the drop cloth, which was 90'' wide muslin I from JoAnn Fabrics (I purchased 3 yards, which was plenty long). Ant helped me set up everything the night before the photo shoot so we didn't have to rush around the morning of.

Where ever you decide to do your photo shoot, keep it within a close distance to a bathtub! Either that, or make sure you have a huge container of wipes because, obviously, cake smashes are messy. I'm so glad we did the shoot in our living room because he got the cake and frosting alllllll over.

Background/Props


I saw a cake smash photo a while back that used streamers as a background and filed it away to use for Harry's cake smash. Cute, easy and inexpensive! I really liked the Happy Birthday banner I bought, but I hung it way too high.  It's not even in a lot of the pictures. So, if you're going to do some type of banner, hang it at least five inches lower than you think it needs to be.

Other cute prop ideas include: hats, balloons, giant letters/numbers, wrapped presents and Mardi Gras beads. I think keeping the set relatively simple is the way to go with cake smashes so all the focus can be on the baby and cake. A nice background with one large prop is perfect in my opinion.

Oh, and we ended up giving him a little spoon at one point since that seemed to keep his interest more than the cake. Not ideal, but we did what we had to do to get the perfect shots.

Cake


Making Harry's cake smash cake was very important to me. More for sentimental value than anything else. I did a Funfetti cake with white frosting and green Wilton icing . Photo-wise, I think that turned out really well. Doing a chocolate cake might have popped a little more, but I'm trying to keep Harry away from chocolate because of a childhood allergy I had.

As for the cake size, I baked two six inch cakes in paper baking molds I found at JoAnns. The cakes fit perfectly inside the cute little cake stand I found (original is no longer available, but here's a similar one).

Don't forget the candle! 

Clothes


Don't over think this one. Something simple will work best. For boys, I think a cloth diaper or diaper cover is the cutest option. A matching bow tie would be an adorable touch, too. I personally wouldn't do anything more than a solid colored onesie. Colored icings will stain, so plan on an outfit you don't need to use again.

For girls, a tutu is a must! Paired with a strand of pearls and a bow in her hair.

Technical Tips
  • Here are some ideas of what to photograph: 
    • Establishing shot of the set
    • Close up of the cake before baby gets to it
    • Baby sitting sweetly next to the cake (gotta be quick with this one!)
    • Baby reaching for the cake
    • The first taste of frosting
    • Close up of baby playing with the cake
    •  The aftermath
  • You'll definitely need an assistant! Harry kept trying to crawl off set so it was really helpful to have Ant there to wrangle him back in front of the camera.
  • As far as lighting goes, I didn't do anything fancy. I probably could have used an extra light, though. My ISO was bumped way up so some of the photos are kind of noisey, but I don't mind too much. I also used my Lightscoop of course! As well as a gold light reflector.
  • If you don't have a DSLR, try shooting with the flash off. You'll need to use a tripod (or just prop the camera on a stack of books) to minimize camera shake (aka, blurry photos).
  • Plan on shooting for about a half hour. Harry started to get fussy after 25 minutes and got frosting in his eyes, which marked the end of his cooperation (can't say I blame the poor kid!).
  • Editing makes all the difference! I edited my photos in PhotoShop Elements, but there are free programs like Picasa and PicMonkey that will make your pictures look great. 






Do you have any other DIY cake smash tips? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mommy Must-Haves




It's still hard to comprehend that I've been a mother for over a year. But, I have been and I've learned a lot in the past 12+ months. Here are a few of the products that have made my life even just a little easier this past year.

Links


Seriously, links are the best, most versatile baby toy! They were one of the first toys Harry was interested in, and he still likes playing with them now. They travel so easily and will keep babies entertained away from home by clipping onto shopping carts and restaurant high chairs. Plus, you can't beat the price tag!

BabyGanics Cleaner


I'm definitely not the most green, natural mama on the block, but I definitely have swayed in that direction more and more over the last year. However, I've always liked to use green cleaning products in my home. Over the summer I discovered the BabyGanics All Purpose Cleaner and simply fell in love with the stuff! The ingredients, the scent (lavender), the cleaning power... everything!

California Baby Shampoo


Love California Baby! This shampoo/body wash works and smells great. It's kind of expensive, but one bottle lasts a long time. I also really love that it's "tear free," since a lot of the more natural baby shampoos aren't.

Netflix


While this clearly doesn't have anything to do with motherhood, Netflix has been one of my saving graces this past year! Some shows I've gone though include: That 70s Show, How It's Made, SNL, 30 Rock, Mad Men, Grey's Anatomy, Parks and Rec, The Office and Scrubs to name a few lot. One show I really wish was on Netflix is Friends. A girl I lived with one summer in college had seasons 1-8 on DVD, so I watched a lot of Friends that year, but I've never seen seasons 9-10 :(.

Netflix also has a pretty decent kids section. I've been turning on Yo Gabba Gabba for Harry off and on for a while now, but just recently started paying real attention to it. He gets so excited when he sees DJ Lance, it's so cute!

Glider


When I was pregnant I didn't think a glider was necessary for us. We have a small office chair in the nursery and I had just planned on using that if I never needed to sit down. We were gifted our glider, and holy cow am I glad to have it! We used the glider sporadically during Harry's first three months. But when the four month wakeful period hit we created a more structured bedtime routine and have used the glider every night since.

If you're pregnant now, I can't recommend a glider highly enough!

Boppy Pillow


I bought the Boppy Pillow with the intentions of using it to breastfeed Harry. Obviously that didn't work out quite as I would have liked, but we still managed to use the pillow every day for Harry's first year. It was a great place to prop him for bottle feedings, a comfortable napping location and helpful with tummy time and sitting. There are other breastfeeding pillows out there that have better reviews than the Boppy, but aren't nearly as versatile.

Infant to Toddler Rocker

Vintage Harry!

We haven't used the Fisher Price Infant to Toddler rocker for a few months now, but we used it daily during Harry's first nine months. We used this seat for lots of things. Basically anytime we couldn't be holding Harry, he was in here. It vibrates which always soothed him right to sleep and it can also rock, but we usually kept the kickstand out so it was more stable.

Since Harry is such a young toddler and isn't super steady on his feet we've put the rocker away for the time being. Once he's able to move around better we'll bring it out again so he can use it as a little rocking chair.

Cloth Diapers


We started cloth diapering Harry just before he turned six months old. I love it! You can read more about our cloth diaper experience here. My two favorite brands for cloth diapers are Blueberry and Rump-a-rooz. Both fit Harry really well and offer great leak protection.

Beaba BabyCook


I really enjoyed making Harry's baby food. I made practically all his purees (except meats) so I used our BabyCook a ton! The machine is really easy to use and made the perfect amount of food for us to keep in the freezer. We stopped purees when Harry was about nine months old, so I didn't use the machine for long, but I was very glad to have it when I was making dozens of ounces of food a week!

What items helped you during your child's first year? Sound off in the comments!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Thanksgiving Feast

As with basically everything in our lives, Thanksgiving was pretty low-key yesterday. Here's the big Thanksgiving feast I put together.

thanksgiving feast

I made apple brie bruschetta, green bean casserole, a hodge podge turkey casserole and cornbread muffins. The pumpkin pie was store bought.


Everything turned out great! For the turkey casserole, I layered stuffing, turkey, sauteed onions, celery and carrots, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes and shredded cheese. An entire Thanksgiving dinner all in one dish! Not the traditional route, but it was yummy and kept cleanup to a minimum. We gave Harry a plate full of casseroles and a cornbread muffin. Little guy gobbled everything right up (haha, see what I did there?).


 An hour after dinner we enjoyed our pumpkin pie. We even let Harry have a small slice. After Harry went to sleep (third straight night in our bed), we watched Parks and Rec on Netflix. So ya, you can't get much more low key than that!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!







(source)

Just a quick post wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be in the kitchen most of the day preparing a small Thanksgiving feast for the three of us. I'm excited that Harry can enjoy all the yummy food this year!

I did want to share a bittersweet moment from last night before I start cooking.


Harry's last bottle. While I'm sure it's not as heart wrenching as a mother weaning her child from breastfeeding, I'm still a little sad over it. It's just another sign that he's growing up waaaaay too fast.

Anyways, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baby Led Co-Sleeping?

Whew, last night was a rough one. To start, Harry took an early evening nap so I knew his bedtime would be pushed back some. Which was fine. He's usually in bed by 8:30 and last night he started showing signs of tiredness a little after 9pm. Lately he's been crying for a few minutes after we put him in his bed, before putting himself to sleep.

Last night was different. His cries were 10 times harder than usual. We went in multiple times to try and rock him to sleep (a big no-no in my book, but we were getting desperate!). He'd fall asleep and then as soon as he hit the mattress he'd be back up on his feet screaming for his life. I brought him out to the living room to see if some playtime would knock him out. Nope. I thought maybe he was still hungry so I made him another bottle. He drank it all, but was again, crying the second I put him in the crib.

I've never been big on co-sleeping. When he was really little it scared the crap out of me. These PSAs didn't help, either. Since he's a little older now I've brought him to bed a small handful of times the past few months. While I love the snuggle time, I have a terrible time sleeping with him in the bed next to me.

However, I have been taking naps with him more frequently lately. Not every day, but maybe twice a week over the last three weeks or so. I don't always fall asleep (sometimes I just play on my Nexus), but if I do it's usually no problem for me. Maybe it's because it's still light out or because I know we'll only be sleeping for an hour or two at most. Who knows.

Anyways, back to last night. Around 11:45, after two and a half hours of screaming, it dawned on me to bring him into our bed. Worked like a mother flipping charm! He was out in less than two minutes.

Sigh. I hope this doesn't become the norm around here. I would never get any real sleep! Or housework, since I do a lot of my cleaning after he goes to bed and I was too paranoid to leave him last night.

Since this post is all about sleep, here's a picture I snapped just the other night of an awkward sleeping position I found him in.


I don't know how that was comfortable at all, and he managed to sleep like that for at least 10 minutes! Whatever floats your boat, dude.

Here are a couple other shots from yesterday that are too cute not to share.


His newest thing is chewing on poor Laugh & Learn Puppy's nose. :)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First Real Breakfast

In our ongoing efforts to wean Harry off formula, he got his first "real" breakfast yesterday morning. The night before I was so excited and set everything up on the counter so I wouldn't accidentally prepare a bottle out of habit. I had planned a nice breakfast of Quaker Oats summer berry oatmeal and a few ounces of milk.


I'm not a fan of oatmeal or berries, but it smelled delicious! Harry enjoyed it for ohhhh, .5 seconds?


The first few bites were a huge success. But then he figured out the oatmeal was in place of his usual bottle, so he decided he didn't like it anymore. I haven't spoon fed him in a long time so that probably threw him off a bit, too. He probably ate a third of the oatmeal when he flat out refused anymore, but was obviously still hungry. So we finished breakfast with some fresh organic raspberries and a handful of Cheerios.

If mom can't give him a bottle, he'd much rather feed himself apparently. Noted, little man, noted.

This morning we're going Thanksgiving dinner shopping. I don't know exactly what I'm making, but it'll be a small feast fit for 2.5 people. Since I'm obviously not going to roast an entire turkey I think I might make some turkey/stuffing/vegetable/whateverelseicanthinkof casserole. Should be yummy!

I was actually supposed to have an eye doctor appointment today but I woke up Sunday morning with my left eye throbbing in pain. I sleep in my contacts (they are approved for overnight use) so I immediately ran to the bathroom and took them out. My eye was all red and swollen. I think something got underneath my contact and scratched the hell out of my eyeball. My eye was still sore yesterday so I rescheduled my appointment for next week. Until then I'll be rockin' my Ray-Bans since that was my last pair of contacts.

Oh, and I got rid of the Disqus comment thingy I had. I really liked the idea of the program but I know people were having trouble seeing it. So, back to the regular, old Blogger comment section!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Movember!


Any other guys out there participating in Movember? Ant's is coming in quite nicely, except he cheated and didn't shave off his chin beard at the beginning of the month.

Here are the next five Instagrams Ant took.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day. You can learn more about it at the March of Dimes' website.

Harry was 4 weeks premature, which is nothing compared to what a lot of families go through, but it was still kind of traumatic for me. The 6 day NICU stay didn't help, but I know it was the best thing for him.



It's hard to imagine that he ever looked like that!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Busy Week

Hey guys! There's a new website called Daily Mom that will be launching soon, you can sign up to get exclusive updates as to when it'll be up and running :)

We've been quite busy the past few days. I don't think I mentioned it but Ant has this week off. We've had some scheduled activities and have been able to work around the house a lot, too. Here are some pictures from our second music class yesterday.



Another thing we've done is move Harry's high chair to the table, so he's not banished to the corner of the room during meal times.


It's worked out very well so far. Here's a tip, if you have to put your high chair on a carpeted surface like we do, put an office chair mat underneath to catch all the food that inevitably ends up on the floor.


This is by no means an original idea of mine, but I thought I'd pass it along to others struggling with what to put on the floor. We had some vinyl table cloth fabric from JoAnn's but that was a pain to clean since it always bunched up. We got our office chair mat at Sam's Club for about $20 and it's worked great for the couple weeks we've had it.

And every week off deserves cupcakes, right?


We've got some fun activities planned for today, I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1 Year Well Baby Appointment + Instagram

Yesterday we had Harry's one year doctor's appointment. Here are his stats:

Height: 31.75 inches (90th percentile)
Weight: 20 pounds 12 ounces (25th percentile)
Head Circumfrance: 48 centimeters (90th percentile)

Tall and skinny! We also had to fill out a development questionnaire. Unfortunately we didn't do so hot in the communication section. He's not talking, shaking his head or pointing, among other things listed. So, as a precaution we are going to do an Early Intervention evaluation. This of course, does not mean he is on the spectrum, but it's much better in my opinion to be proactive and find that nothing is wrong than to wait and discover there is a problem we could have been treating already.

The doctor said that EI evaluations usually have to be scheduled far in advance so we might decide Harry doesn't need it after all, he could just be a late bloomer and start talking and pointing tomorrow for all we know :). But if not, that's okay, too.

The worst part of the appointment, as with most other appointments, were the shots. He had to get poked five times! First he had to get some blood drawn (two needle pokes because his veins are so small) followed by three shots. Yikes! One of the shots was a flu shot, and we have to go back next month for another. He had a pretty good cry but was okay by the time we got to the car.

After the doctor's office we went to lunch at Pilot Pete's. Pilot Pete's is located at the Schaumburg Airport and is just a few miles from our condo. It was our first time at the restaurant and after trying our food we kicked ourselves for not trying it sooner. The food was amazing, and judging by the amount of people who were dining at the same time, it's a pretty popular place! I ordered the chicken fingers, which were the weirdest, most delicious things I've ever eaten and Ant tried their lobster nachos, which he said were out of this world. Harry ate some quesadillas and roasted vegetables that he gobbled right up.

If you're in the area, definitely stop by Pilot Pete's!

This month Ant is doing another Instagram Challenge. He had a lot of fun doing it back in May so I asked if he'd do it again. I now have my own Instagram account, but since it's only on my tablet and not cell phone all my pictures are just from around the house. Here are the first 10 IGs of Ant's challenge.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Garlic Mediterranean Chicken

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend. Ours was pretty low-key (per usual). The only major thing I did was take Harry over to my dad and step-mom's house Friday night. They gave him some birthday presents and we just hung out for a bit. We were going to go out to dinner last night but the weather was pretty crappy so we decided against it.

This morning we have Harry's one year doctor's appointment. I'm guessing he'll be about 30.5 inches tall and 21 pounds.

Oh, and TAW was nominated on SkinnyScoops' Top 25 Beautiful Baby Blogs! While you don't have to, I would really appreciate a vote. This blog takes a lot of my time and it's always nice to be recognized for my work. Thank you!

Today I am sharing a recipe I tried out a few weeks ago. I thought it was pretty good, but Ant was a little more lukewarm about it.

Garlic Mediterranean Chicken


Ingredients
- 6 chicken breast tenders or 3-4 chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Mediterranean spice mix (I use and love the McCormick Perfect Pinch kind)
- 2 tablespoons dried garlic (the Litehouse brand is amazing, I use it for everything!)

Directions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a bowl mix mayonnaise, Mediterranean spice mix and dried garlic together.
- Place chicken breasts in glass baking dish and cover with mayonnaise mixture.
- Bake for  25-27 minutes.

Enjoy!


Like I said, Ant didn't love it, but I thought the chicken was pretty yummy. I'll definitely be making it again, soon!

Check out the updated Harry's First Year page! I love seeing how he progressed from month to month during his first year, it's so crazy how much he's grown.
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