Thursday, August 30, 2012

Costume Change!


 
        If you happened to have read my article The Ick Factor, then you will realize that after many icks we still continue to dress Xavier. I'm sure you are wondering why? When baby is just going to have blowouts, drool and spit up on them, why on earth give yourself more laundry? Well, there are actually quite a few reasons. First, babies do get cold, second, I want him to get used to wearing clothes so that when we do go out in public he is not uncomfortable in clothes and want to take them off. Third, it catches some of the drool, poop, pee and spit up. Last, they are adorably cute and people give you lots of baby clothes.
    Xavier is lucky (not sure he will always see it this way). He has two very creative, outgoing and playful parents. We had noticed if we must change his clothes multiple times a day we might as well have fun with it. I mean why not? So we started putting together different costumes from his clothing. (Note, my theater degree is finally coming into play here).
    The first costume we have come up with is his biker outfit! Really? How cute is that? Of course playing costumes means you must make time for photos. Then, we realized that this costume was too good to waste so we went to Babies R Us for some supplies and yes, took Xavier in biker costume with us. I only wished Nick and I also had biker outfits to wear with him so we could go as biker family, in Suzuki car. Do not worry I'm sure we will come up with more fun costumes as time goes on!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Artichoke Gratinata






   When I do recipes on here I get them from many different places and some I make myself. This one is from one of my favorite food network stars and I am sure you will see other recipes of hers on here as time goes on. This recipe is for Artichoke Gratinata from Giada De Laurentiis. She hosts the food network show Everyday Italian and Giada At Home. She does great mediteranean style cooking and uses easy ingredients, and her dishes are fairly simple to make. You should check her out on Food Network.
   Artichokes are a great vegetable to have. They are a very nutrient-densed food, packed with fiber, minerals, vitamin C and folate. They also contain a powerful antioxidant called cynarin, which protects the liver from chemical and environmental toxins and helps it to regenerate healthy tissue. There are many dishes you can make with fresh artichokes, but I wanted to try a dish with frozen or canned artichokes so that you can have them year round. This is a great alternative to fresh artichokes so you can still enjoy their goodness.

Notes on Recipe:
- In this recipe it is for frozen artichokes, you can use canned, just rinse and drain canned artichokes very well and do NOT add the salt that is in this recipe if you used canned. Also, this is a great side dish. I do not really recommend it all by itself, it goes good with meat or we actually had it with pasta and sauce as opposed to meatballs. Let me know the fun ways you incorporate it into your dinner.

Artichoke Gratinata
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:
- 3 Tbsps olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 pound frozen artichoke hearts thawed, or canned artichokes thoroughly rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbsps chopped fresh parsley leaves (you can use dried if that is all you have on hand)
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt (do not put this in if you are using canned artichokes)
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup of chicken broth
- 1/4 cup of Marsala wine
- 2 Tbsps of butter
- 1/3 cup of plain breadcrumbs (I actually used italian breadcrumbs as that was all I had and it still tasted great)
- 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm the olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the artichoke hearts, parsley, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook until the artichoke hearts are starting to brown at the edges, about 3 minutes.



Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer the artichoke mixture to a 2-quart bakind dish.



Melt the butter in the same skillet used to cook the artichokes. In a small bowl mix the melted butter with the bread crumbs.




 Stir in the parmesan and top the artichokes with the bread crumbs.





Bake until the top is golden, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.



















Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To My Grown Up Son

    Most of what I post I write myself, but occasionally I find some great things and have the need to share. I found this in my grandmother's journal. I do not think that she wrote it, but probably got it from somewhere. I don't know where or who wrote it. However, it is a great poem for a new parent to read, because it is important that you recognize how short time is NOW. You don't want to realize what you have missed when your baby is grown up. It is a great lesson to learn to stay in the present and really enjoy every second you have with your little ones as they are not little very long. I hope this poem will motivate parents to at least spend some extra time with your children. Remember every time is quality time.







To My Grown Up Son
By Anonymous

My hands were busy through the day.
I didn't have much time to play
the little games you asked me to.
I didn't have much time for you.
I'd wash your clothes, I'd sew and cook, 
but when you'd bring your picture book
and ask me please to share your fun.
I'd say  "A little later, son".
I'd tuck you in all safe at night
and hear your prayers, turn out the light.
Then tiptoe softly to the door,
I wish I'd stayed a minute more.
For life is short, the years rush past.
A little child grows up so fast,
no longer is he at your side,
his precious secrets to confide.
The picture books are put away,
there are no longer games to play.
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear
that all belongs to yesteryear.
My hands, once busy, now are still.
The days are long and hard to fill.
I wish I could go back and do
the little things you asked me to.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homemade Brownies






    The hubby and I have been on a brownie kick lately. I always love chocolate but I am normally not a brownie lover. However, I decided to try and search out a good brownie recipe to suit our new tastes. Of course there are your average box brownies, but there is nothing better then making something from scratch. It is full of homemade goodness and I cannot help but believe that it is always healthier for you if you make it homemade.
    This recipe is a very simple recipe which I found was really easy to follow and they came out scrumptious. The greatest thing about this recipe is all the ingredients in it are probably already in your cupboard, except perhaps the cocoa. However, cocoa tends to be a staple in my cupboard. If you ever make real hot cocoa instead of the packets you will keep it as a staple in your cupboard as well, not to mention all the many other things you can use it for. I hope you like the homemade brownies as much as we do!

Homemade Brownies

- 1 1/2 cups of butter
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 3/4 cups of cocoa
- 2 cups of nuts (optional)

Directions:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and add cocoa and mix well. ( you can use a mixer if you want but it is not necessary I just used a wooden spoon ). Stir in sugar.


Blend in eggs one at a time.





Add vanilla and stir in flour and nuts. Mix well. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" pan.





Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 20-30 minutes and then cut into 20 square pieces.









Friday, August 24, 2012

The Ick Factor

Many new parents affectionately think of raising a new baby as a baby boot camp. You don't sleep, barely eat, barely shower or have much else to do besides, feed, entertain, try to get baby to sleep, and of course clean up the many baby messes. I pride myself on being a tough, country girl. For the most part anyway. I am by no means a girly girl. We have always had pets, so I do pick up cat and dog poop and puke (though I hate the puke aspect especially). I am not afraid of mud or bugs. I have even been know to kill a spider (or even worse leave it alone so it'll get the other bugs). So when I thought about having a baby I was prepared for the dirty diapers and spit up. I was not worried. I figured I could handle it. While getting needed items for the baby before he was born a friend gave us many items to help with "blowouts". Nick and I were very perplexed? "What is a blowout?" We wondered. I should have been worried when the only response was, "just wait, you'll find out". Needless to say that now that I have a five month old, blowout is in our almost daily vocabulary. We have a "blowout procedure" and also a "degree of blowout" that it is. There are tons and tons of information on baby poop. It is in the books, magazines and at the doctor's office. It is the forefront of information needed. How often does baby poop? What kinds of poop does he have? What color is his poop? Does his poop smell? We found out the hard way how to take care of the poop. Everyone told us their favorite brand of diapers. There were many varieties. We figured "Who cares? it is poop? what does it matter which diaper it goes in?". So we went and tried and tried many. Finally after several big blow outs we found the brand that works for us. We happen to be in the Pampers family specially Pampers Swaddlers. I thought they would be too expensive but we get tons of coupons and can buy them everywhere so we get them on sale with a coupon all the time. Plus, we have decided we are not skimping when it comes to poop. What I found to be the funniest with new parents, is not whether or not they use my brand of choice but that each parent has their favorite brand that they will not compromise with it. If I have extra Pampers coupons, others will not take them if it is not the brand they usually buy. I affectionately nod my head in agreement. The new parent has many icks. Before baby, my biggest baby icks were small, one was a very large poopy diaper that stayed in the diaper and the other was when my nephew spit up on me and I thought the smell was the worst ever! However, now, in five months. I have been pooped on, peed on, and puked on during a regular basis. In fact puke does not necessary make me and baby even change our clothes. (He is still only on breastmilk, we may change our mind on that when he starts eating solids). Gone are the days when I would never leave the house without a shower and makeup on. Now are the days when, I smell my shirt and say "hmm...it's just Food Lion who cares what I look like". Off I go. I do try to shower on a regular basis, but our laundry pile has definitely expanded with the Ick Factor in our house. There are many times when blowouts happen, I have a son so I am regularly peed on a lot, and I'm thinking spit up just goes with the territory. There are days when I get one or the other and some days when I get all three even multiple times. I have been two at the same time. Yet, I do not blink, I make a funny face at my son and off we go to the changing station. It comes with the territory. I now know that I and my husband can handle anything that comes at us be it by bottom or top parts, human or animal!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beef and Bean Enchiladas






  This is a great recipe for enchiladas that are very easy to make. Not much to tweak in this recipe. I ended up using flour tortillas instead of corn. I like how they taste better. Feel free to substitute corn if you like those better.

Beef and Bean Enchiladas
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 can of 14 oz. refried beans
- 2 cups of shredded cheese either mexican or Montgomery Jack
- 1 can 28 oz. red enchilada sauce
- tortillas flour or corn

Directions:
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In skillet cook ground beef and onion. Drain fat, add salt and beans and heat until bubbling. Add 1 cup of cheese and set aside.


 Put enchilada sauce in the bottom of the 9x13" pan.






 Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce in a skillet and warm lightly. Place tortilla in sauce and warm it until it is softened. Add a spoonful of filling and roll up. Place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat until you use all tortillas.






 Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese and cook uncovered 5-10 minutes until cheese has melted. Enjoy!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese







This is a great recipe for macaroni and cheese. It is easy to make and it tastes great. It tends to be more of a gourmet macaroni and cheese similar to a fettuccine alfredo then to your normal macaroni and cheese.


Macaroni and Cheese

- 4 cups of cooked macaroni (about 8 oz.) This is bowtie pasta shown in picture
- 2 TBSPS of buttter cut into pieces
- 1 1/4 cups of cubed sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp. of pepper
- 2 eggs beaten
- 3 cups of milk
- paprika

Directions:
 Combine macaroni, butter, cheese and seasonings (except paprika). Place in greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Combine eggs and milk, pour over macaroni. Sprinkle with Paprika. Bake 40 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve hot.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sleeping Through The Night?

Xavier when we first brought him home from the hospital. I noticed then how beautiful a baby sleeping is.


     When you have your first baby there are a lot of different things you are asked. Things such as how he is eating, how I am doing with everything, how much he weighs. There is one question you are constantly asked from the moment the baby comes out..."Is the baby sleeping through the night?" Pretty much every time I am asked something it is "Is he sleeping through the night?".
    I find this an odd question. Even more odd do I find how popular this question is. I guess I find it odd because I never assumed my baby would sleep through the night. When I was pregnant we got a lot of different advice but the one consistent advice that we got was "get as much sleep as you can now". This led me to believe I will not really ever sleep again (at least for like 18 years). I wrote off ever really trying to sleep again, especially during baby years. So I find it very odd that people ask me all the time if he is sleeping through the night. Do you actually think babies sleep through the night? If they do, what do you actually call "sleeping through the night"? Is it from the second you put baby to sleep until you wake up when it's through the night? Or is it through majority of the night with an early morning? Or if baby rustles and you feed him and he is still asleep does that count?  What about when baby is older and mainly makes it through the night but gets frightened from monsters or thunderstorms? Is that sleeping through the night? I do not mind people asking but I am not sure what to say. My answer would be "yes" and "no". So if you have every asked me if Xavier sleeps through the night, here is the detailed description.
      I put Xavier to bed at 8pm almost every night. This is a godsend and a curse all at once. I love that he has a bedtime, he has since he was a month old. However, if you ever want him to stay up a little later, for what ever reason, it does not work. He insists on sleeping and by 8:15pm he is miserable. He then tends to sleep until around 11pm or midnight when he starts making noises in his sleep. It is usually when I go to bed so I feed and change him so that hopefully he will not wake up again until morning. However, he usually feeds still asleep so he goes right back to sleep when I am done. Then, most nights he will sleep until 6:30am or 7:00am. Once in a while he wakes up at 3 or 4 am, but that is slowly going away. I consider his 6 or 7 hours "sleeping through the night". However, it is not long enough for me. I am not a morning person so if he could make it until 9am I would be so much happier. However, I have friends with kids that never seem to get up that late so I realize these are high hopes.
     I am willing to put up with the great perks of having a baby and the downers of having a baby. A downer being that he gets up at 7am everyday! No sleeping in ever! The perk is that he is always extremely happy in the morning! So if I have to drag my feet out of bed early in the morning at least it is to look at an adorable smiling baby looking at me. That must be why babies are so happy in the morning because they know we need some motivation to get out of bed.


    There are many things that you get asked when you are a new mom.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

French Toast Bake






  This is another great recipe that I got from Pinterest. I was really excited to try this recipe. We love french toast, but I do hate having to make only a few at a time and then not everyone gets it hot. This is a great alternative. It does really taste like french toast and it is super easy to make. I will definitely be making this again.

  Here are some tips about this french toast bake
- We are not super sweet people for the morning this is average sweetness. However, if you would like to make it sweeter ( you may especially want it sweeter if you don't use maple syrup) try these additions; add powdered sugar to the batter, sprinkle brown or regular sugar in between the layers along with the cinnamon.
- You do not have to use Texas Toast bread. Any bread will do. The reason for Texas Toast is because they are big and thick pieces. You probably would not like to use a small, thin type of bread. You can make it look prettier by taking the crusts off. I tried this at first but found it way too time consuming, plus Nick and I both actually thought it tasted better with the crusts as it tastes like toast, where the crust is extra crunchy then the rest of the bread. 
- You can keep in the refrigerator and reheat the next day if you have leftovers.

French Toast Bake

1 - 9x13" pan

- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1 loaf of Texas Toast bread
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- powdered sugar for sprinkling
- cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions: Melt butter in microwave and add brown sugar, stir until it is mixed. Pour butter/sugar mix into bottom of 9x13" pan, spread around evenly.





Beat eggs, milk and vanilla. lay single layer of Texas Toast down into pan. Spoon half of egg mixture onto bread layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Add second layer of Texas Toast onto of first layer and spoon on rest of egg mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon.





Cover and chill in fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.






Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. (Cook covered for first 30 minutes) Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warm maple syrup!








Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Xavier Goes To The Beach







     It has been a very long time since we have been able to go to the beach. We actually live by the beach. When I say "we live by the beach" I mean about half an hour away from the beach. Although our favorite beach is about 45 minutes away. We tend to like that beach much better, it has plenty of free parking, not a lot of rules and they let you bring dogs. We have a black Labrador named Vito who we simply must take to the beach with us. I am pretty sure if we went without him and he smelled us when we came back he would be very mad. We did not make it to the beach very often last summer. I was only a few months pregnant and very miserable all the time so I had no desire to go to the beach. This year I have been wanting to go. It has been a very busy summer, not only with the edition of a baby, but Nick has a new job and we are currently taking care of Nick's elderly father when we can. Factor all that in along with the fact that this year we have had tons of heat waves as well as rain and thunderstorms and our schedule and weather were not conducive to a beach day. The last reason was the effort. I knew that taking an infant to the beach would be no easy task. Not to mention I was not really sure if he would really enjoy it. I mean lets face it, as much as I love him and he is my world, he can't sit on his own, and he can just barely grab things. So taking him to the beach so he can nap in a different spot then usual seemed like a lot of work. However, I love the beach very much and I was determined to try it.
     We set our sights on Saturday. Nick even went shopping for grocery provisions for the beach day. We are not morning people. Hm...let me rephrase that, I am not a morning person. No matter how much I try I hate getting up early. Luckily, Nick is and does not mind getting up early with Xavier every day. So we got up at 9am. I looked outside and it was overcast. I was a little concerned as I had checked the news Friday night and it said rain all weekend. So we decided to have breakfast and see what will happen. While eating Nick turned on the tv for the weather. As I was cleaning up from breakfast I saw a big, giant dark cloud rolling in, at the same time Nick said "um..." "What is it?" I replied. "Severe thunderstorms today, 60 % chance". At that moment the weather radio went off, warning of severe thunderstorms. Alright, no, I did not make my family pack up and chance going to the beach with severe thunderstorms. I knew I had one more day so I decided we would go to the beach Sunday. We had not fully packed anyway, so I figured we would pack Saturday to be ready to go Sunday.
       Sunday morning I woke up at 9am to dark clouds. I simply looked out the window, let out a big sigh and went back to bed. I woke up around 11ish and decided to have breakfast. I was debating looking out the window what to do. It was not as dark but overcast. Nick suggested we just go to the beach and walk around it. I said that sounded like a good idea, until I really thought about it and realized there is nothing I hate more then going to the beach and realizing it is nice out enough to stay in bathing suits instead of just walk around. I had had enough waiting. I was ready. "No, we are going!" I said. "Pack the car we are going now!". Nick, the wonderful husband I have jumped and packed and off we went.



    It ended up being the perfect weather. It was overcast, but it was a nice 83 degrees out. Also, the beach was not as crowded and I was not as worried about Xavier overheating. Xavier did really seem to enjoy it. In fact he did not nap at all because he was so excited to see everything. He actually liked wearing his hat and sunglasses, which I was surprised about. I sat with him in the water for a little bit and he liked it. (Luckily the water was really warm). He even had a cute little surprised look on his face when a wave would come and his whole body would shake in excitement. We brought his bumbo seat so we had a place to sit him down when needed. He loved that and sat in it even better then he does at home, I think because he had so much to look at. So it was a great day of riding waves, sitting on the beach and playing ball (with Vito of course). We headed home at about 7pm, then, baths for all. Nick washed the dog and I washed the baby.
     One of the big things I have realized is how much stuff I now take to the beach. There was a time when I was single when I would go to the beach and bring a large purse, with just a towel. Then, when I married Nick he loved to bring a lot, so came the chairs, umbrellas and cooler. When we added Vito, we added a bag for Vito with a long leash, ball and bowl for water. Now with Xavier we also added a diaper bag, extra towels and sunscreen, a bumbo seat, bottles ( I don't like to nurse on the beach ), and a beach wrap. I'm thinking that living as a minimalist is not working out so well now with a baby. Not to mention my small car gets more and more packed. I couldn't help noticed an older couple sitting near us on the beach. They had two chairs and two bags. When they packed up, they each took a chair and bag and off they went. When we packed up, Nick made two trips, while I fed and changed Xavier, put him in the wrap to walk back to the car. We did decide to invest in a baby tent cabana (on its way right now). We also are going to look into getting a cart, but have not found one we like yet. I was incredibly grateful for the water wrap as it helped carry Xavier so I could carry other items and walk the dog, plus it was great to be able to get it wet. Although it may have been challenging, it was worth it. I remember many beach days doing the same things with my parents and loving every second of it. I know one day we go back to being like the older couple with two chairs and two bags, but for now I am content to bring our entire house including the kitchen sink!




   

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Bake





Chicken Enchilada Bake


 This is a fun and easy recipe when you are in the mood for mexican but tired of the same old tacos and burritos. This is the standard, mild recipe. This is a very versatile bake, you can try different things such as beef and beans instead of chicken. Also, you can add more flavor, like jalapenos or guacamole or even use spicy versions of what is added. It also can be as easy or fresh as you like. You can used rotisserie chicken for easy nights or skillet cooked chicken, same with the chilis, beans and tortillas. Have fun with it, I would love to hear what you decided to change.

This is also a great thing to make and freeze, or bring to someone who is sick or just had a baby. Just heat, serve and enjoy!

Ingredients:

- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast shredded
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tbsps chopped cilantro
- 1 can ( 15 oz ) black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 ( 4.5 oz ) can diced green chili peppers drained
- 1 ( 10 oz ) can of red enchilada sauce
- 8 six inch flour tortillas ( you can use corn if you prefer )
- 4 cups of shredded mexican mix cheese
- 1 cup of sour cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In skillet spray with cooking spray and cook chicken mixed with cumin, coriander and garlic powder. Transfer chicken to bowl (shredd, if it is not already) stir in cilantro, black beans and chili peppers.





Spray 11 x 7 baking dish with cooking spray and put some enchilada sauce on the bottom of dish to cover the entire bottom. Place four tortillas over sauce ( overlapping is ok ). Spoon chicken mixture over tortillas sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the sour cream. Spoon remaining sauce over cheese and make another layer with tortillas and chicken.





Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and dot with sour cream. Cook another 5-10 minutes until the cheese melts. Serve hot, this recipe generously feeds four people. Cut with a knife ( like a lasagna, as the tortillas are similar to noodles)





So easy and so very delicious!





Friday, August 10, 2012

His Own Room







    We finally did it! Xavier now sleeps all night in his own room. It took a little while to get there, mostly for us to be alright with not constantly looking at him in the night then for him to sleep away from us. Quite frankly I think he sleeps better away from us. I'm pretty sure we were always keeping him awake or waking him up. It was the first really big step of realizing that my baby boy is growing up. ( I know he is only 4 months old ) However, it is the first step of many when you finally realize that your heart will be tugged on. I am so incredibly happy and proud that my son has accomplished a great milestone but at the same time I am sad to see him grow so fast. He now mainly sleeps 6 to 7 hours at night and it is definitely a wonderful thing for us!  
      We had a cradle in our room since he was born. It was a wonderful thing. Not too big, not too small. It rocked back and forth and had wheels so we could each wheel it to either side of the bed that we wanted. I might have let him stay even longer in the cradle in our room, except I noticed he is getting too big for it. His arms outstretched go through the slats, so I thought I probably need to transition him to his crib in his room which is way across our living on the other side of the house from our room. (No, it's not that far, but feels that far). We transitioned slowly. First we started with the cradle in Xavier's room and would put him to sleep in there. The first night we did this our intention was to leave him all night but I cried and was not ready to leave him in there all night without seeing him. He was only about 3 months old. However, Nick liked him in his room at least until we went to bed so he could use our bedroom and bathroom without disturbing him. So we decided that we would move Xavier into our room once we went to bed. Xavier was still waking up every 3 or 4 hours so it was for our convenience as well. It was a crazy thing to do!
       Every night around 11pm when I went to bed, I turned off all the lights in the living and kitchen and our room and pushed Xavier in his cradle across the living room into our room, hoping not to wake him. We affectionately called this "The Parade of His Royal Highness". Xavier is a good sleeper, you can usually make a good amount of noise, but lights drive him nuts. I am probably the only mom who's kids hates nightlights or lights of any kind while sleeping. So that is why all lights had to be off during the transition. Finally, the other night my husband offered to pull an all nighter with Xavier for me. That means he has baby duty all night. Currently we do shifts. I have midnight until 5 am and Nick has 5 am until 9 am (yes he has less hours, but Xavier is usually awake most of that shift). This way if Xavier wakes up at all during your shift you are responsible for him without waking the other. If nothing else you can plan on a good solid 4 or 5 hours of sleep. It has worked great for us. I can't imagine doing it any other way. So while Nick was pulling the all nighter,  he left Xavier in his room and just listened out on the baby monitor. Xavier slept for 7 hours straight without waking up. So needless to say what I had thought; that we might be waking him up in the night was correct so with a heavy heart the next night I left him in his room and put the baby monitor in clear sight and jumped the second I heard him cry. ( I did not jump at coos as he is a sleep talker and I am aware of that from having him in our room ).
   The past few days have been getting better and better with a solid 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep for Xavier. No, not for me I still pump once at night, but I can do that half asleep and without having a baby to take care of as well, I have streamlined it to a quick 15 minutes and it's back to sleep I go. I do wish we had a better baby monitor. We skimped on that, because our rooms are not that far apart. The sound works great. However, it buzzes a lot due to "interference" (thats what Nick says it is anyway) and I do wish I could see him without going into his room. We have a way on our television but in the middle of the night I don't want to turn the television on. A little handheld monitor that does not buzz and shows my baby breathing would be nice. Anyone have any good recommendations?


Your Children

                                                                   Xavier and I



" Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of lives longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls. Their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. Life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday. "
                         - The Prophet Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

   I am always on the lookout for easy to make breakfast foods. I saw this recipe on pinterest and decided I would try it out. It came out great, however, next time I will do a few more changes to it.
CHANGES TO MAKE NEXT TIME
- no chocolate chips, this was very sweet especially for breakfast. We decided next time it would be better with an additional fruit such as peaches, pears or apples.
- It was not too bad being extra sweet if you ate it for dessert with perhaps ice cream, it reminded us of a sort of cobbler with chocolate

  This does store and reheat really well and it makes a lot. This is the recipe with the chocolate chips you can decide for yourself if you decide to leave them in or not.

Ingredients:
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 1 cup of raspberries ( or any berries )
- 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips
- 2 cups of milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 Tbsps melted butter
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 10 1/2 x 7" dish with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.  Mix oats sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and half the walnuts, half the berries and half the chocolate. ( you will use the other half for top of the oatmeal).



In another bowl whisk together milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract.






Add oat mixture to baking dish. Arrange remaining berries, walnuts and chocolate on top. Add banana slices to the top as well. Pour milk mixture over everything. Gently shake baking dish to help the milk mixture go throughout the oats.




 Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve hot. It is also good to store this in the refrigerator and reheat for the next morning either in oven or microwave.

I do apologize for this ending picture. It smelled so good cooking we whisked it right out of the oven and dug in to eat it before I remembered to take a picture of it. This is with half left of it! At least you know it was good!








Monday, August 6, 2012

Everything You Will Need and Need to Know About Breastfeeding






In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to do a special blog post about breastfeeding. I am a proud mom who has been exclusively breastfeeding for four months and counting. It is something every mom should be incredibly proud to say no matter how long she has breastfed her children. Here is a list compiled from myself, close friends and family who have breastfed, as well as information from bloggers, web boards, La Leche League International, Women Infants and Children office, Alpha Parent blog Timeline of a Breastfed Baby, Best for Babes Foundation, as well as the books, Breastfeeding Made Simple by Mohrbacher, Kendall-Tuckett and Newman, Nursing Mother's Companion by Huggins, and The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding by Meek M.D and Yu. Please note every child and breastfeeding experience is different these are merely suggestions of things that can help soon to be or nursing mothers. Enjoy and leave your tips at the end!

  When you think about breastfeeding most women assume they have everything they will ever need. Our wonderful breasts. Although they are the main thing that you need, now for our Next Generation Moms, we need a lot more then just that. We do not get the support we need, nor the leisure to just be able to have our baby attached to us with nothing else to do. A big issue with breastfeeding is adapting it to our society today. I have found these things extremely helpful for breast feeding moms. I highly recommend them all and recommend getting them preferably before the baby is born so they are ready in the weeks after birth which is when you will need the most help. Remember that breastfeeding although totally natural is not totally easy, it is like everything else something you must put effort into, and these items make your effort a lot less work.

Items For Breastfeeding, every mom should get
- A Double Electric Breastpump - Don't skimp. Ladies this goes on your boobs sometimes more then your baby and it is the difference between a good breastfeeding experience and a tough one. Get a good pump, with electricity, batteries and comes with a manual adjustment. I HIGHLY recommend the Ameda Purely Yours. Unlike Medela it has less to clean, no tubing that needs to be cleaned, and it is much cheaper only around $200. Yes, it is an investment, but cheaper than formula. Check with your health insurance many cover breast pumps or give you money to get some, you can also rent from a hospital or doctor. Purchased breastpumps are tax deductible. Also, consider buying a used one from a friend and get all new parts. They last forever and many manufacturers will replace it for free if you have a problem. The double electric drains your boobs in half the time of a single, important with a newborn, plus it is very simple to how baby suckles at your breast. You want battery and manual attachments because you will surprise yourself where you will be when you may need to pump. I know the Ameda Purely yours comes with electric cord, car adapter, batteries and a manual single hand pump, plus a cooler to bring bottles back and forth. Buy your pump before your baby is born, you will need it right away. Learn how to use it ahead of time. Did I mention this will be on you more then a baby at first? Not the area to skimp ladies!


- Avent Breastmilk storage cups- These have been incredible for breastmilk storage. They hold about  6 oz. and they can go in the fridge or freezer. They do not leak in coolers, and when you are done breastfeeding they make great snack cups for toddlers. I use these more then the storage bags, because the storage bags are kind of wasteful if you are not always freezing all your milk. These you can reuse over and over. I use them for fresh milk and put freezer milk in the storage bags.

- Breastmilk storage bags- These are great for freezer storage. You cannot beat them. Unfortunately, it is not recommended to use regular freezer bags, you need to use breastmilk storage bags they are sterile.
- Soothies gel pads. Get these for your first two months of breastfeeding. They really help your nipples feel good and you will thank yourself for getting them.
- Nursing bras-Get two sleep bras and two nice bras. You may think it's not too necessary but believe it or not most of your discomfort will be from things that do not fit your now expanded chest as much. Wait a couple weeks after starting nursing and get some. The sleep bras are necessary you are usually not comfortable without any bra on and the sleep bra helps keep you comfortable and the nice ones should make you look nice under clothing.
- Giant water bottle-You will be very thirsty all the time when you are nursing. Get a nice big bottle or cup to take with you and keep in your nursing areas.
- Nursing Cover - Most people and places will excuse you for nursing if you have a cover they are very inexpensive and necessary. Also, when baby gets older, they like to look around the cover helps baby stay focused on feeding. You can even get free covers online uddercovers.com
- Baby Wrap - These are great whether you nurse or not, but add an extra bonus if you nurse your baby. They have a ton of fabric for you to cover and nurse and some positions can even let you walk around and nurse your baby.  They work from newborn to 30 lbs. and you will get tons of use out of it. My favorite is the Moby Wrap. www.mobywrap.com
- The book Breastfeeding Made Simple by Mohrbacher, Kendall-Tackett and Neuman - It is about $12 on Amazon and it is definitely worth it. Read it before you have the baby and then keep it by your pump or nursing spot to check in as issues arise.
- Bottles - Yes, even though you are nursing you still need some bottles. You will want a night off, or you may need to pump more then you initially planned for whatever reason. Sometimes you may rather feed baby from a bottle. Yes, you read that correctly, just because you are breastfeeding does not mean you are the only person who feeds your baby and does not mean when you do feed baby it has to always be directly from your breast. For whatever reason you may like the bottle. Unlike formula, breastmilk in bottles is still easier. It can last much longer at room temperature. Baby can eat it hot or cold. Does not have to be as sterile, most moms wash bottles with soap and water and sterilize every couple of months only. You don't have to mix or worry about contaminants. Simply put in bottle and put in purse. It's good for 10 hours in normal temperatures (if it is fresh not frozen). You should wait at least 3 weeks if possible to introduce baby to a bottle so baby is more used to breast. However, all babies are different. Many bottles work, definitely check ones that are good to go with breastfeeding such as Playtex Ventaire, Born Free, Dr. Brown's, Nuk and Tommy Tippee.
- Internet - Unlike other cultures and times it is rare to find too many moms that breastfeed and are willing to sit down and answer your tons of questions you may have. A great source of information is at your fingertips with the internet. Simply go to google and type in your breastfeeding question. You will be surprised all the message boards, mom boards, breastfeeding websites help and support you will find. It is your friend when you need it most and you don't even have to worry about showering before asking a question!
- A friend who is or did breastfeed - If possible a friend is a great gift when you are breastfeeding. Sometimes just knowing someone else who did or is doing it successfully is all you need. There are lots of negative people out there, and there are lots of people who can tell you things but if they have not done it don't know how you feel. That friend who is breastfeeding or did will be a great support to you, even if it is merely the sake of knowing you are not alone.
- Boppy Pillow - This is a miracle invention. A simple pillow that snuggles around you puts baby directly on your breast. It has covers you can wash and change. Yes, you can breastfeed with out it, but for the cost it is well worth the investment. Plus, it helps baby to sit up and do tummy time as well. I will say to be careful for generic forms of the boppy pillow. I have found that some generic boppy pillows do not have different washable covers ( a must ) also they are not the same width all the way around the pillow, which is what you need. Baby may usually be on the side of the pillow and having it the same width is important.
- A Pacifier - I know I can hear the "gasps". Everything you read and get information will say "Do not use a pacifier if you are nursing". This is a personal choice. I have included it in this list, because first I believe it's a tool to have in your back pocket as a "just in case" and for the cost of pacifiers why not have every tool possible? Secondly, many mommies I have talked to have used it. When you get to know your baby you will realize your baby sucks at your breast for two reasons, to eat and for comfort. Unless you plan on being stuck with your boob in baby's mouth almost 18 hours a day you may consider a pacifier for soothing comfort for baby. It is a personal choice. I am simply telling mom's not to rule it out so quickly.
- Fenugreek - This herb is a little cheat that many breastfeeding moms know about. It works really well if you use it during the first 6 weeks, while you still have your pregnancy hormones you need to get you milk up to it's optimum level. It's the easiest to do then. Take 3 capsules three times a day for as long as needed. You can also use this when you need to bump up your supply later. It usually takes a week for full effect. Also, there are really no side effects from this herb. A few moms report smelling like maple syrup from it. Check it out it can be a life saver.
- A soft portable cooler - You will be transporting expressed breastmilk in containers, bags and/or bottles. This is usually the best way to transport. Just stick in an ice pack and you are good to go all day.
- A pump bra -  Many women forget about this. They buy the breast pump but forget the pump bra. Unless you get the pump bra you have to hold the breast pump to both of your breasts in order for it to pump. At first if you need to pump a lot that can be for 20 minutes every 3 hours. It's a lifesaver to use the pump bra. Some women make one out of old sports bras. Whatever works, but if you want to make it through pumping you will need to have your hands free.  



ADVICE
- Prep ahead of time. Buy your breast pump, practice using it, set it up, get your nursing spot ready, sterilize bottles and breast pump parts, read the books about breastfeeding and take a class. You will be sleep deprived, sore and emotional when baby arrives. Be as prepared as you can be to make your life a little easier when you know it will be stressful.
- Pump, pump, pump away. When baby comes as soon as possible, PUMP! Yes, you can feed baby from your breast, but if you pump as well, your milk supply will not solely depend on you and your baby figuring out latching, your breasts will not engorge as bad and you will be less stressed. If all you have to focus on is getting baby to latch you will both relax. You know you will have plenty of milk for baby. For the first 8 weeks you should pump for 15-20 minutes every 3 hours. Try to keep it on schedule as much as you can, but never go longer than 5 hours without pumping and no sooner then 1 hour apart. For instance if you need to pump at 1 pm and 4 pm and you miss the 1pm so you pump at 3pm instead, still do your normal pump at 4pm. This is in ADDITION to feeding baby.  Yes, it's a lot but it's to help you so that you are not worried or upset when only feeding baby. Many moms need baby to latch in order for milk supply to come in and/or be good. They also are engorged or have infections because they are not getting enough milk out. Pumping helps with that. It is only for 8 weeks, then it's a dramatic cut back. Always remember breastfeeding is extremely difficult at first and extremely easy later. You just have to make it through the first 8 weeks.
- Patience and relaxing gets your milk flowing.
- As a mom you have many choices to make. Feeding is one of the most important and difficult decisions to make. Be sure to know all the facts. One thing many moms do not realize is FORMULA IS NOT AS GOOD AS BREASTMILK! Breast milk is a thousand times better. Breast milk has live antibodies to protect your baby from infections. Scientists do not even know all the components of breast milk let alone be able to copy them to put into formula. No matter how bad your diet is, breast milk is still superior to formula. Any amount of breast milk is better than none. If you can only breast feed for a little while that is still better then none at all.
- Breast feeding benefits you as much as your baby. It helps you loose weight, and protects you against certain diseases. As well as helps your body heal faster from childbirth and it helps relax you and even out
your emotions.
- When you have problems breast feeding with baby the best thing to do is a lot of skin to skin with baby. Skin to skin is a very primal thing for you and your baby. By doing it frequently it connects you to your baby and your breast feeding problems will usually dissipate because your baby will instinctively start feeding off of you again. 
- Always keep in mind that your baby's latch will improve as your baby grows. If you have a difficult time, always adjust it but remember you will not have to always adjust it baby will improve as he grows.
- Many moms stop at the three month mark, thinking they no longer have a newborn and it is not necessary. Pediatricians and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding for the first year at least. At three months babies need your breast milk more then ever. It has the calories your baby needs to grow. Formula at that age does not have as much calories which is why many moms start food early. The best for your baby is exclusive breast milk for six months then introducing foods along with breast milk.
- Breastfed babies should go six months until trying other foods. No cereals, water, juice,etc. just exclusively breast milk to get their stomachs on optimum running potential.
- Breastfed babies do not get constipated or diarrhea. They poop less often and it usually does not smell.
- Try to also pump after feeding your babies to drain your breasts. The more you drain your breasts the more milk you will produce.
- To tell if your baby is feeding well count the poop and pee diapers. This is extremely important when baby is first born.
- Keep in mind that your milk can take time to come in if you have any medical interventions, such as drugs, anesthesia, and blood transfusions. Make sure to pump every three hours to help it come in faster. You may need to supplement if it takes too long. Put baby on breast first, then give a bottle of anything you pumped, then a little formula if it was not enough, then pump until you get your milk.
- All babies are different each breastfeeding experience is unique.
- Keep your breastfeeding books by your pumps or in your nursing spot to refer to it when you have problems.
- Fresh pumped breast milk is best, but always remember freezing is a great option. Many moms pump enough for the entire year and deep freeze it. Frozen breast milk is still much better then formula.
- Remember that a year of breastfeeding is not really that long in the grand scheme of things. You are setting your child up for the best possible health. Isn't that worth a little hard work on your end for a year?
- Have a system with pumping, storing and bottling along with breastfeeding. It will makes things much easier on yourself. Be organized with it and be proactive, do your prep work ahead of time.
- Remember your main job right now is feeding your baby.
- Breast milk is more durable then formula. Sterilizing is not necessary to do as often if you are filling bottles with breast milk. You don't have to worry about contaminants or bad water with breast milk. You can prepare a lot of bottles ahead of time. It lasts for 8 days in the fridge. You can leave a bottle of fresh breast milk out for 10 hours. (Frozen is for 1 hour).
- Remember to eat and drink regularly and drink lots of water. You should consume an extra 500 calories a day if you are breastfeeding.
- It's always better to start off breastfeeding and switch to formula if you need to then to start with formula. You can always go to formula, but it is much harder to breastfeed once you have stopped.





HELPFUL LINKS
- The Alpha Parent Timeline of a Breastfed baby
- Best for Babes Foundation
- La Leche League International






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