Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baby's First Food {Tips and Products for making your own baby food}

baby's first food
Maybe it's because I'm a new Mom, but I have been looking forward to making Aiden's food for a few months now. I pinned tons of ideas and baby food recipes online and have been researching the best options for my little guy. After some research I decided to skip rice cereal and go straight for pureed veggies. I had no clue what babies could or could not eat and how to prepare food for them, but I'm learning little by little and I feel so proud watching Aiden eat things that I made. Two weeks in to making my own baby food and I have to say I am still excited about it and it really is not that hard or time consuming. You just need the right products and I promise this whole homemade baby food thing can be fun.

Here are a few products I have found helpful and a few things I've learned along the way...

Helpful products for making your own baby food:
BEABA BabyCook:This item is a little on the pricey side, but as my friend and fellow blogger, Anne told me, it's worth it! It both purees and steams your foods making the process much easier and leaving you with less items to clean and put away. If you don't have one of these, no worries, a blender and pot to steam will do the trick.

Garden Fresh Freezer Trays:These trays are perfect for freezing baby food in batches. The tray holds 9 individual portions, which are each approximately 1 ounce, which is the perfect portion for beginning solids! I have made and frozen several batches of baby food using these trays and they are awesome. I love that they have a lid since most store bought ice cube trays do not. They don't take up a lot of room in the freezer and they are non-stick making it easy to pop the frozen food right out of the tray when you need it.

Nuby Easy Go Bowl

Munchkin Soft-Tip Infant Spoons

Wipeable Bibs

A few tips for making your own baby food:
Start Small: You may have your ice cube trays prepped and ready for filling, but don't start making your baby food in batches until you know it is something that your baby actually likes. I got a little ahead of myself and decided to puree 6 avocados and put them in my nice little freezer trays all set to go. Well that was a rookie mom mistake because it turns out Aiden doesn't love avocados (yet.) See above pictures for proof.
baby's first food
Keep it Simple: When debating about which food to give Aiden first I decided on Avocado mainly because it is the easiest thing in the world to "make." You don't have to do any steaming or baking! All you need to do to prep an avocado for your baby is wash the skin, slice in half, remove the pit and scoop out the "meat." Then puree it and bam...you made your own baby food. Congratulations!
pureed avocado
Less is more: Stage 1 of feeding a baby is giving them single ingredient purees. Just avocado, just banana, just peas, etc. Don't try to get too fancy too fast. Trying individual flavors first allows you to see what your baby likes, but it also lets you know if they are allergic to something or if something causes them to have a tummy ache. I also read that a lot of people add water or breast milk to thin out the purees to make the consistency runnier for baby. I thought I needed to do that, but really I didn't need to. I would have your baby try the puree first before you mess with it. If your baby is fine with the consistency, there is no need to make it thinner. 
avocado puree
Make it fun: Take a trip to your local farmer's market to pick up fresh foods for your baby to try. Make a plan of what you are going to feed them and let your husband have some say too. We had so much fun giving Aiden banana because it was totally unplanned. He was reaching for my husband's banana and so we mashed one up and gave it to him right then and there. He loved it! Take pictures and videos and share them with your family because your baby WILL make hilarious faces when eating their first foods!

Here are a few posts I found very helpful when researching homemade baby foods:
How to Make Your Own Baby Food
All About Solids
The BabyFood Breakdown
Stage 1 Baby Food Recipes

What are some of your favorite foods to make or feed your little one??

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Full weekend, full heart {Memorial Day Weekend 2015}

This weekend was full of family and full of fun. It was a sweet one and thankfully a long one! While I did enjoy an extra day off work, I do not take my freedom lightly and am so thankful to all who have gone before me and continue to pave the way for us to enjoy the freedoms we do...
Friday afternoon my sister came in town and since it was a gorgeous day we took Aiden on a walk in to our  downtown area to our local coffee shop. We sat outside and caught up on some sister talk.
Friday night my sister, Mom and I worked on some shower prep for my cousin's bridal shower Saturday and my Dad and brother joined us for a pizza break on our back patio. It was our first outdoor meal of the season at our house and Aiden ate with us too (sweet potato instead of pizza though).
Saturday my Mom, sister and I hosted a shower for my cousin, Shirley who is getting married in August. We had a lovely day, but that deserves a post of it's own. I just love my curly haired cousins.
Sunday my sister in law and brother in law had us over for a cookout. Aiden played in his pool turned ball pit and we sipped on drinks and chatted on their patio.
The faces we make to get a baby to laugh are priceless!
Monday Drew and I took Aiden to the zoo for the first time. It was overcast and scattered showers were in the forecast so it wasn't very crowded at all. We had a great time and Aiden did too.
We were all exhausted after our big weekend so we ended our weekend with a movie and family nap on the pullout couch. The cats even joined in. Bring on a short work week!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mama's night out

My girlfriend, Alison recently had her second set of twins and was in need of a girl's night so our sweet husbands piled all 5 of our kids in their minivan and took off on an adventure so we could have a Mama's night out! That's 3 car seats, 2 booster seats and two awesome Dads pictured below.
Alison and I had no plans until we started driving away and we ended up out on the patio at Bravo's, wine in hand. It was a gorgeous night and we didn't get any calls from our husbands asking where bottles or burp cloths were or what time we would be home so we soaked it all in. 
We had a delicious dinner then strolled through the streets lined with shops and being the book nerds that we are, found ourselves in Barnes & Noble. We decided to buy the same book so we could talk about it as we read. 

The only text we received while we were out was this picture. It says it all. Our husbands are awesome and extremely brave. They must love us A LOT. And since they did such a good job, Alison and I are already planning Mama's night out part 2.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My First Documented Mom Fail

Dear Aiden,
While I wish I could say I am the perfect Mom and will never fail you, I can't. I am an imperfect person chosen by God to to live every day trying my best to make your life a wonderful one. I do my best to keep you safe and to make you feel so very loved, but there are times that I will fail. Last week was one of those times.

I decided to take you on a walk to the library. We live a few miles from the library and the forecast said storms were a few hours off so I strapped you in and off we went.

We made it to the library, I picked up the book I had on hold and we managed to get about half a mile down the road when all of the sudden it started pouring down rain on us. Thankfully your stroller covered you up most of the way, but I will admit that at first I was terrified. This was something that was not in my control. My first thought was where can I take shelter? Then there was a crack of thunder. We were still miles from home and there was no place for us to go so the only thing I could do was start running. I ran and ran and wondered what people must think of me. I felt people judging me from the inside of their warm dry houses thinking what in the heck is that mom doing with her infant out in the rain. But I kept running.

You were perfectly content in your stroller and probably didn't even really have a clue that we could have been in any sort of danger. As I ran, two different people offered me help. One was an older gentleman watching the storm from inside his garage and the other was a man loading up his truck in his driveway. It felt good to know that someone cared, but at that point I felt I just needed to keep running, so I did.

By the time we reached our street the dark clouds had rolled away and the rain let up. Sun began to shine through the clouds and I looked at you and smiled. I was soaked and out of breath, but we made it home safe and sound. The only real damage done was to my library book. Oops.

Life is like that. A storm will roll in when you least expect it, but you can fear it or you can embrace it. When people offer you help it eases the hardship and makes you feel less alone. You have to ignore the judgements of others and focus on you. When you don't get worked up about the storms in life, they can actually turn into adventures.

I want to always be able to keep you safe from the storms, but sometimes they roll in unexpectedly so my promise to you is to always do my best. To always love you unconditionally and to put your needs before mine. I love you so much and hope you can always face a storm and come out smiling. I love you little buddy.

Love, Your Mama

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A day in the life...

The days are going by so quickly that I can't seem to keep up. Everyday Aiden is doing something new and I don't want to miss a thing. These days are so precious to me. I love this age and thought it'd be fun to do a day in our life so I can look back on it later and smile. So here's a typical Thursday in the Renner house...

4:30AM Aiden wakes up hungry. I go in and check on him and he always gives me a huge smile when I pick him up. I change his diaper, feed him then put him back to bed.
6:15AM Daddy leaves for work and Aiden comes in bed to snuggle with me. I work from home a few days a week, which I love. It means more snuggle time and not worrying about getting showered and being out of the house by a certain time! We sleep another hour then get up to start the day.
7:30AM I put Aiden in his Baby Einstein Jumper while I fix breakfast and work on a few things around the house. We watch some PBS Kids, I eat, feed him breakfast, pump then clean up the kitchen.
8:30AM After breakfast we head outside! It's been so nice out that we've started our days off with some front porch story time. Aiden loves being read to and is working on turning the pages by himself. Some of his current favorites are The Belly Button Book, Mr. Brown Can Moo and What's Wrong Little Pookie.
10:00AM It's nap time. Lately I find myself just wanting to hold him during at least one of his naps. Today was one of those days. He napped in my lap while I propped my feet up in the recliner in his nursery and finished reading a book. If you're curious, I finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and really enjoyed it.
11:30AM Aiden wakes up, I change his diaper and feed him. This kid still loves his changing table although he is liking his diaper being changed less and less. I read that this happens around 6 months. Uh oh. After Aiden is settled I'll put him in his bouncer in the bathroom while I shower. He's usually content until I start drying my hair then he's ready to move on to something else.
NOON If we had errands to run this would be the time of day I packed up the diaper bag and headed out to do that. I always try to leave the house when Aiden has a full belly. We might head to the grocery store, the park, to our play class at Kid's First or these days we've been frequenting Starbucks for their Half Price Frapps. Yum. Today we didn't have to go anywhere so we stayed put and back outside we went.
1:30PM Nap time again. This time I let Aiden nap in his crib and I get some work done. Aiden is such an inconsistent napper. People ask me his nap schedule and I say, he naps when he's tired. We are still on the BabyWise schedule of eat, play, sleep. He eats every 3 hours-ish so that's our day on repeat, but the length of his naps is ever changing. He always sleeps longer when he's in my arms though. That I do know.
2:30PM Another diaper change and time to eat again. I work a little more so Aiden hangs out in his swing, jumper or on his activity mat. He is usually easily entertained by one of these for a while!

4:00PM Daddy comes home! When Aiden sees his Daddy he lights up. If he's been quiet all day, he will see Drew and instantly come to life. It's the cutest thing ever. I hand Aiden over to Drew for a while and start dinner, throw in a load of laundry, clean bottles, check emails, etc. And while I may have made dinner today that's probably not an accurate picture of life these days around here, that is a rare occurrence, but I'm working on that.

5:30PM Aiden eats his dinner then we eat ours while he hangs out in his swing or sometimes on our laps. I love our little family dinners. This week we are starting solids so very soon Aiden will be joining us at the table in his high chair!

6:00PM Thursday nights we have Small Group. Usually Aiden comes along with us, but it's nice to have some uninterrupted adult time so we dropped Aiden off at my parent's house this time. He got to have some bonding time with his Uncle John while he was there too.
7:00 We head to our friends Andrea and Brandon's house for Small Group. It was a beautiful night so we sat outside and ate snacks while we talked. Right now we are doing a series called Brave that a few other churches in the area are doing also.
8:30PM We pick up our little guy from my parents and head home. Our nightly routine is me feeding him, Drew burping him and getting him ready for bed, I finish feeding him then pray over him and put him in his crib. If I'm tired I read in bed and fall asleep shortly after, otherwise I might have a glass of wine or some dessert, check emails, work on a blog post and watch a show with Drew, but our bedtime is always 10 or earlier. That's the life of new parents.

So there you have it. A day in my life. If you stuck through that whole thing, wow and thank you. I always enjoy getting a glimpse into someone else's life and know I won't remember these little details that make up my days with Aiden in a few years. I treasure this time!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My First Mother's Day

My Mother's Day weekend far exceeded my expectations. I wasn't expecting to be flooded with such crazy, intense emotions, but I was a total sap and got teary multiple times just thinking about what a privilege it is to be Aiden's Mom.

We celebrated my sweet mama the previous weekend with Mexican and pie followed by some back porch sitting. It was nice to space out the celebration and get to spend some quality time with all the special Moms in our life.
We celebrated actual Mother's day weekend starting Saturday morning when my sweet husband made me breakfast and had the table set with flowers. He even attempted to make a heart out of the chocolate chips in my pancake. Adorable.
After that Drew helped me create a gallery wall in Aiden's room. This has been something I have wanted done forever so it was nice to cross that off the list. I'll share pictures soon along with a few other nursery updates!

After our project was complete we took a family hike at a park near our house and brought home Chipotle (my favorite) for lunch.
I had to work Saturday evening and Sunday morning, but we ended the weekend by grilling out at my Mother in law's house. We sat on the back deck and when we were finished eating Aiden got to go "swimming" outside for the first time. He loved it!
It was such a special weekend and was a memorable first mother's day for me!

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's day!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mommy Meals Monday {Oven Baked Chicken Risotto}

Since becoming a Mom, cooking has become something I have let go. I mean in all honesty I've not cooked consistently since Aiden was born, oh 6 months ago. Sure I've made a meal here and there, but multiple nights in a row of quality home cooked meals...well that's not happening. My husband has been so understanding and so gracious, but it is time for me to get back on the wagon so I'm going to try to hold myself accountable in this space. I'm going to start a little series on meals that any Mommy {or busy woman} can make. I'm only going to post meals that are delicious, easy and quick. I figure if I have a plan I will do a better job of actually cooking. So here's my first recipe as part of my Mommy meals series.

This Oven Baked Chicken Risotto recipe is one that my friend Theresa shared with me. She made it for us during a difficult time and I am a firm believer in comfort food. This is real comfort food and it's easy.

Ingredients
-Cooked chicken breast (I usually bake 4 chicken breasts in the oven a day or two before compiling this meal to have this part done. I just coat with butter, add garlic and italian seasoning and bake for 30 minutes then chop up the chicken into small pieces.)
-4 Tbsp. butter
-5 cups Chicken Broth
-2 cups Arborio (short-grain) rice
-1 small onion (chopped)
-1 tsp. salt
-2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (cut in half)
-16 oz. Mozzarella cheese (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
-1/2 cup shredded basil (fresh is always best)

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place butter in 9x13 dish in oven to melt.
-Once the butter has melted add the Chicken broth, diced onions and Arborio rice to the dish. 
-Stir ingredients together then cover the dish and place in the oven for 35 minutes. (Be careful transferring this into the oven....it is full of liquid and can spill easily. Take my word for it.)
-Fluff rice with a fork.
-Add remaining ingredients (chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil)
-Serve warm

Original recipe can be found here (I doubled this recipe to fill a 9x13 dish)

Do you have a go-to recipe? I'd love to know what it is and try it out. Maybe I'll even feature it on a future Mommy Meals Monday!