make your own baby food

When my son was a baby, I liked to prep meals for him as well.  I pretty much made all of his baby food, except when we were traveling.  He LOVED to eat and I made his food from the beginning.  I plan to do the same thing with our next child.  One of my shower gifts was a Baby Bullet and I definitely put it to work.  It is easier than you might think to prepare healthy meals for your baby and you don’t have to own a Baby Bullet to do it.

My husband and I like to eat organic as much as possible, so we wanted our son to eat organic as well.  As many of you know, organic baby food can be pretty pricey, but making your own food makes it very affordable.

We started with a brown rice cereal and then moved on to avocado, bananas, peas, pears, apples, squash, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.  All of these foods are great foods to start your baby’s eating journey.

As they grow older you can try asparagus, carrots, green beans, white potatoes, oatmeal, and peaches, as well as other veggies and meats.  You want to stay away from honey, peanut butter, citrus fruits, raw berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), egg whites, whole milk, and shellfish/crustaceans.

To make your foods you need either a good blender, food processor, or some sort of food grinder/masher.  For my son, we usually did a brown rice cereal mixed with a fruit and/or veggie.  To make brown rice cereal you will grind the rice up into a fine powder with your blender and then cook, similar to regular rice, with water on the stove (1/2 cup rice to 4 cups water).  You can add more or less water to change the consistency.

I liked to make big batches of the food to last for a few weeks.  Fresh food in the fridge will last for about 3 days, but food in the freezer will last about a month.  To store my food I used my Baby Bullet containers, but since I made such large batches I also use ice cube trays.  These are a great way to store exactly one serving of food.  Plus once your baby begins to eat more you can give them different foods at one meal, such as a fruit and a veggie cube.  I liked to make two fruits and two veggies, plus rice cereal at one time.  That way and I could mix up different flavors and my son didn’t have to eat the same food everyday.

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Here are some recipes for beginning foods:

Bananas – 1 banana to 1/4 cup water (blend)

Sweet Potatoes – 1 peeled, steamed potato to 1 cup water (I used the water leftover after steaming since it has some of the nutrients from the veggies in it).

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Zucchini – 1 steamed zucchini to 1/4 cup water

Pears – 1 steamed, peeled pear to 1/4 cup water

Peas – 1 steamed cup peas to 1/4 cup water

Squash – 1 steamed squash (remove tips) to 1/4 cup water

Apples – 1 steamed, peeled apple to 1/4 cup water

Avocado – 1 peeled and pitted avocado to 1/4 cup water

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(Note: for all foods you can add more or less water to change the consistency)

With all of these foods you will add them to your blender and then blend until they are smooth.

Do you have any favorite baby food recipes?

❤ K

 

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traveling with babies & toddlers

I have traveled A LOT with my son.  His first trip was when he was a little over 2 months.  Since then we have traveled by plane too many times to count.  Here are a few tips I have learned from our travels. Continue reading “traveling with babies & toddlers”

Back to Work as a New Mom

I recently had a baby in October where I took a nice 12 weeks of maternity leave. Coming back to work has been a major change for me. I thought it would be helpful to provide new moms with information to help with the transition.

  1. Try to get your baby on a schedule in the beginning. There are many different books and websites that will give you ideas on how to have a good schedule. This will make things easier when you return to work because you will not have sleepless night where you have to wake up and make it through an 8 hours work day.
  2. Check with your job regarding pumping options. Make sure you know exactly how your job works if you are plan to continue breastfeeding when you return to work. You will need to have a schedule and know if your employer has a shared space or any space at all. You will also need to let your manager know your pumping plan/schedule especially if you work for a place that isn’t very familiar with breastfeeding moms.
  3. Check your options for free pumps. Currently a free electric pump can be received if you have insurance. Look at the pump options and if you have choices make sure you get the one with the best reviews that work for your pumping style. I have become more interested in hands free breast pumps because it makes it a lot easier if you are trying to do anything else while you are pumping.
  4. Make sure you are eating well and have snacks to last throughout the day. This is especially important if you are pumping during the day. Pumping burns a lot of calories and if you aren’t eating right you may lose your production and nutrients in your milk.
  5. Find a daycare that has hours that work for you, people that you trust with your baby, and things that are important to you (camera, in-home, center, uses cloth diapers, works with breastmilk).

I hope all the new moms have success in their transition back to work. Leaving your baby is never easy so making sure you have a smooth transition is always helpful.

❤ A 

purchase a car with confidence

My husband and I had to purchase new cars about a year and a half ago.  My car, at the time, was pretty old and started to need more for upkeep than we thought the car was worth.  My husband was in a car accident shortly after that and sadly his car was totaled, but at least he did not have any major injuries.  This made us pros at car shopping in a very short period of time.  Here are a few tips that we learned along the way.

  1. Decide exactly what you want in a car.  Similar to when you are buying a house, determine what is on your must have list.  Do you have to have a back up camera or bluetooth hookup?  Do you have a long commute and need a certain MPG for your car?  Are there certain models you will not consider?
  2. Technically number 1 & 2 are interchangeable or could be happening at the same time.  Go to your bank and see if you can get pre-approved for a loan (if you don’t have the cash to cover your car).  Determine what your payment will be based on the loan and what fits your budget.  If you know you can only afford a certain amount, tell your bank that amount and they can tell you a loan amount based on this number.  They can also tell you different amounts based  on the length of your loan and the interest rate. It is good to get pre-approved by your bank so you have a start off point for a price for your car and so you don’t have to haggle with the dealership about your payment.  If they have a better offer than your bank, you can always consider their financing, but this gives you a start and a leg up during negotiations.  Also, check online for car loan interest rates and make sure your bank has a good rate.  We went with our credit union because it had the best rates at the time.
  3. Begin checking prices for the cars you might be interested in purchasing.  This is pretty easy to do nowadays since so much information is available online.  My bank recommended checking out the Carvana (www.carvana.com) site.  You can buy a car through this site, but I used it to compare prices too.  You can put your criteria for a car in this site to get an idea of the type of car that is in your price range.  If you have a certain car in mind, then you can look up that make and model to get an idea what it is selling for online.  I also check Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com).  This site gives you an estimate of what specific cars are selling for based on the make and model.  I usually start with a site like Carvana first when I don’t know what make and model I am looking for, just to get an idea of what might be in my price range.  Then I move to Kelley Blue Book to get the accurate price.   screenshot_2017-01-21-11-59-32
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  4. You also might consider contacting your insurance as well.  They can give you an estimate of what your insurance might be based on the year, make, and model of different cars on your list.  This can help you when planning your budget with your new car payment.
  5. Now, you can begin looking online or visiting dealerships.  You can check online at places like CarMaxx or you can also consider Carvana.  I looked at both locations for prices and then went to the dealership.  I wanted to see the cars before I made my purchase and there were several dealerships close to my home, so it made it pretty easy.  When you visit the dealership keep you list of must haves in mind.  For example, when I went to purchase my car I saw a car on the lot that was the same year, make and model as a car I saw on Carvana.  The car was much less (by a few thousand) than the car on the Carvana site.  The dealership really wanted to sell me the car, but it was more because it had extra features.  The dealership tried to explain that it was more because of these features, but these were features that were not on my must have list.  I explained this to them as well.  I told them I would happily buy the cheaper car on Carvana and since this was the only year, make, and model of the car that they had on the lot, I was prepared to leave if the price would not come down (ALWAYS BE READY TO LEAVE).  They came down on the price because they saw that I was not invested in getting the car.  I ended up purchasing the car for almost the same price I saw online. 🙂
  6. The dealership will also try to convince you to use their financing and sometimes they will say the price includes their financing or something along these lines.  Check their interest rates and the terms of the loan.  Most times your bank will offer a better deal.  

These are a few of the tips I have learned.  The most important thing is to do your research before you make a purchase.  Go into to the dealership will all the information and be prepared to haggle and walk away if they are not willing to meet the price you know the car is worth.

Good luck and happy shopping!

❤ K

Awesome Toddler Items at IKEA

One of my favorite stores is IKEA.  I love the way they style their products, the environment in the store, the MANY items they offer, and good prices.  I don’t mind putting things together, so IKEA is the perfect store for me.  Outside of the many pieces of furniture and household items, I have also found some great baby, toddler, and children items in the store.  They offer inexpensive cribs, that all convert into toddler beds, training potties, and children’s furniture. 

Here is a list of some of my favorite items, but I could not list them all so make sure you check out the store and website:

For eating I LOVE the Kalas (yes, all IKEA items have Swedish and Norwegian names) bowls, plates, cups, and flatware.  We have purchased several sets because after several moves pieces have come up missing.  Each piece of the set is $2.49 for 6 pieces.  They come in multiple colors to make everyone happy. They are dishwasher and microwave safe.

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Kalas bowls, plates, cups, and flatware ($2.49 for pack of 6) – http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50192959/

Also, if you are looking for a basic, inexpensive high chair check out the Antilop.  We purchased one for my son and just recently stopped using it.  It is easy to clean and with the removable tray you can use it as a toddler chair as well when you are ready to move your child up to the table.  

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Antilop Highchair with Tray ($19.99) – http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S79067506/

The wooden toys at IKEA are amazing.  I really like wooden toys because they don’t break so you can use them forever.  IKEA has A LOT of wooden toys, so these are just a few of my favorites.  The Mula crane with blocks is great for fine motor skills and learning shapes.  Your child will have to match the correct shape block for it to fit on the back of the crane.

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Mula crane with blocks ($14.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20294879/

They also have traditional stacking rings and a shape sorter.  

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Mula stacking rings ($7.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50294887/

Mula shape sorter ($7.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10294889/

One of my son’s favorites is the train set.  We have the 20 piece basic set, but we also have the 12 piece extension.  My son loves trains and the price is great for this wooden set.

Lillabo Train set ($9.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30064359/

IKEA has art supplies as well.  They have one of the best prices around for their wooden easel.  They also have paper, markers, pens, colored pencils, paint, and more.  Make sure to check out this section if you get the easel.  The large roll of paper they sell is great too.  We use it even without the easel for my son’s masterpieces!

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Mala Easel ($19.99) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50021076/

Mala art supplies (ranging from $0.99-$9.99) – paper, markers, colored pencils, pens, scissors, paint, and chalk http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/childrens_ikea/18735/

I also found that they had great prices for crib sheets.  I bought a few packs and have never needed more.  They are a soft cotton and mine have held up well.  I have only gotten the all white, but they also have pink, blue, and green.  

Crib sheets ($9.99/2pk) – http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00130879/ (available in white, pink, blue, and green)

For those of you that are near a store (or traveling near a store), it is definitely worth the visit.  Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to walk through the entire store if it is your first time!

 

❤ K

ultimate baby registry list

Recently, I was speaking with my cousin and sister about my baby must haves and I wrote a pretty lengthy list.  I decided this would be great to share with you as well.  Although this list is kind of long, most of these items you will get at your shower, or are pretty inexpensive to buy.  The items I believe are essentials are in BOLD: Continue reading “ultimate baby registry list”