solids, sort of

home made baby food

Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I resist change. Maybe I’m seeing the light on this breastfeeding thing (which I did not like at first) and am realizing how convenient it is. Whatever the reason, it has taken me a while to make homemade baby food. Instead, for the 2.5 months that Ian has been eating “solids” (or I should say not-so-solids) I have been relying on baby oatmeal (just add water!), mashed bananas, and these:

Earth's Best Baby Food

I think these jarred purees are great – they’re organic and contain only fruits, veggies and a bit of water. Besides, they’re packed in glass rather than plastic, which puts my mind at ease from a leaching-of-chemicals-and-toxifying-my-precious-progeny perspective. And yet…I felt guilty that I wasn’t actually making my kid’s food. After all, I like to cook, I like to bake, (I have recounted some of my culinary concoctions here) and I want my son to eat as healthfully as possible.

I even got this fancy schmancy baby food maker, the Baby Brezza – it steams the food then purees it all in one place. Sounds easy enough. Nonetheless, this thing collected dust on our counter between the toaster and the bottle warmer for over 2 months, un-used and unloved.

Baby Brezza

The instruction manual daunted. This is hardly rocket science, but it does require about 35 seconds of concentration that I couldn’t seem to muster.

Baby Brezza Instructions

Basically: chop food, put in container, lock it in, push two buttons. Voila. Of course, there’s one other hurdle: PURCHASING THE FOOD, which is not always a simple task.

What if I went to “all this trouble” and my son didn’t like what I made? So far, he’s gobbled down pretty much everything we’ve given him except avocados – for those he’ll take about two tastes before pursing his lips and swatting the spoon away. No big deal – I love avocado – guacamole for me! I’ll keep trying with those. However, I doubt I’ll be tempted to eat his pureed leftovers.

Anyway, the guilt finally got the best of me – mostly because I’d spent hard-earned money on the Baby Brezza – before long he’ll be upgrading to solid foods that are actually… solid, and this machine will go to waste.

So I took the plunge (it was crazy easy) and have been feeling inordinately proud of myself. You’d think I’d cooked a five-course meal the other day, the way I was patting myself on the back and bragging to my husband and babysitter.

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The pink stuff is red grapes and pears. Ian ate that as if it was liquid candy and probably would have ingested about four bushel-fulls if I’d offered it. The yellow stuff, i.e. uber-healthy yellow squash/carrot/parsley concoction? Well, this was his initial reaction:

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I’d like to report that he eventually became ecstatic about this vegetable medley, (the truth is that he only tolerated it). So the joy you see in the next pic is just a reaction to me performing his favorite trick, the fake sneeze:

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A-choo! Hey!

***

Any baby feeding tips? What have you been serving lately? Any suggestions on how to make your kid a well-rounded eater?

boon, swoon

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What did The Hubs and I know about baby products before I got pregnant? Of course, absolutely nothing. Zip. Maybe even a little less than zilch. Like most new parents, we’re figuring all of this out on the fly. Gradually, we have amassed a collection of goods for our little guy, both necessary and not-so-necessary, and we’ve started to figure out what we prefer as far as function and style. One brand that has checked off many boxes for us is boon. Their products are modern, simple and functional.

For example, we are loving the Flair Pedestal High Chair with Pneumatic Lift, pictured above. Not only does it roll smoothly from place to place in our house, it cleans up well.

Ian in boon Flair

It’s easy to get Ian (now 8 months) in and out of this commander chair and he must be comfortable in it because he’ll sit in it long after he’s finished eating his banana, avocado, or squash: he’ll sit there gnawing on a cracker or pouring water from the sippy cup all over himself for a good 15 minutes. From this seat he’ll also watch me perform the ever-captivating Unload the Dishwasher show. Now I’m putting this blue dish in the cupboard…

When I put the boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack on our baby registry I assumed I was being silly. When bought the Twig Accessory I figured I was being waaay too whimsical. Note curious pig in photo below:

boon grass countertop drying rack

But these have turned out to be some of the most useful products in our cache. This little lawn keeps Ian’s bottles, pacifiers and now sippy cups organized and away from our other dishes. The twig holds all kinds of bottle and pump paraphernalia.

Finally, this boon GLO night light has been shedding the perfect amount of light on Ian’s nursery for the last few months:

boon GLO night light

I first saw this on Pinterest and became enchanted – it definitely seems like something the Jetson’s would have had. Though this can “glo” through the whole rainbow on repeat, we keep it orange-ish red. This creates the perfect amount of light for so-called “dream feeds”: enough light for mommy to see what’s going on but it’s not so bright that baby fully wakes up. Get this: the illuminated balls are removable, and stay lit for 30 minutes, a feature we haven’t used yet, but if all goes as planned, we will enjoy this quite a bit in the future.

***

Have you swooned over any of the boon products?

For another modern baby brand we have enjoyed, you can see my post about babyletto furniture here.

(BTW, boon did not compensate me in any way for writing this post – I just like the goods.)

breastfeeding while waiting at the Mavis Discount Tire

breastfeedingimage source

So it’s National Breastfeeding Month. I have been celebrating by…well, breastfeeding. And pumping. Breastfeeding some more. Then pumping again.

My goal was to make it to six months. I am now at 7.5 and plan to keep going until we hit the one year mark. I am an advocate for nursing and believe women should be able to do so whenever and wherever they please, BUT I am somewhat bashful about it myself. For the most part, I have been able to keep the activity to the confines of our home, or our car.

Of course, not every day lines up exactly how you want. Like, you might come out to your driveway one morning to discover that you have a flat tire. You might have to call AAA to throw on the spare and then you may have to head over to Mavis Discount Tire with your six month-old to pick up a new set.

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The one hour predicted wait-time may gradually turn into two hours and there you are: you need to get your kid back home because the babysitter will be there soon, you need to rush to work, and your kid? He needs to eat. This means you have no choice but to “bust” out the breastfeeding apron, pull down your shirt, and get your latch on.

Well, this is how one of my days played out last month. While I perched on the quaint bench provided by the kind people at this tire franchise, I began to wonder the following things:

  • What’s with the abandoned sneakers? Did someone spend the night here? Or did an athlete have an epiphany and suddenly decide to become a barefoot runner?

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  • Exactly how harmful are the exhaust fumes coming from the cars on the nearby road? (And is it just my imagination or are some of the vehicles slowing down to catch a peek?)

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  • Maybe I should be more concerned about the overpowering scent of highly-processed rubber wafting from the bowels of this supposedly cost-effective establishment?

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  • Did the cashier really need to walk up the sidewalk and hover over us so that I could sign the paperwork right then or could that have waited until I settled up at the end?
  • How effective are these breastfeeding aprons from a privacy standpoint if my son has decided it is far more fun to swat, pull, and kick at the fabric than to peacefully feed underneath it?
  • And, finally, is the friendly gentleman sitting on a nearby bench hard of hearing or is he just ignoring the fact that his car is ready? SIR, I THINK YOUR CAR IS READY.

***

New set of wheels, a full stomach and a little commiseration from Charlie Brown:

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What’s the weirdest/most-awkward place you have breast-fed or pumped?

five reasons to not trim your baby’s fingernails and toenails

little toes

1. Because he’s currently more interested in wiggling than in personal hygiene, you are terrified you are going to hurt him. (Talk about “moving target!” And you’ve never really been known for your scissoring savvy, anyway.)

2. You’re waiting to see if this Babies-as-Tiny-Adults trend will sprout any shops specializing in Infant Manicures so that you can be off the hook.

3. Hey, if you want him to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for nail length, you better get started early.

4. Right now he’s snoozing safely in his crib, but it’s a brutal world out there: claws could come in handy (pun intended) for self defense.

5. You could use some help with all those scratch-off lottery tickets you’ve been buying lately – word has it that college isn’t cheap these days.

a thank you note to our lawn

sewer work

Hey there!

Just wanted to thank you for being so understanding when all those trucks, several workmen, and a back hoe recently tore you to shreds.

It must have been a shock to experience such a violent upheaval – if you were confused, just know that we were too. We didn’t want this to happen to you: after all, Rob has spent countless hours tending to your every need, grooming you, and generally helping you to become the best you can be. And I? Well, I hope you have appreciated my words of encouragement and my heartfelt compliments over the years. Have I ever told you that when we first moved here from the South Bronx (three years ago this week) I gazed out the windows lovingly and with disbelief for hours? “So green,” I repeated dreamily. It was amazing to me that I owned a house with a yard boasting a handsome layer of healthy grass. Crazy!

What happened this past month is still a bit hazy, and more than a little upsetting, but you deserve at least a few details. It started with a wet stain on the cement wall of our unfinished basement. Our plumber had a few theories, but he first outlined the stain with chalk as if it were a crime scene. This was to see if the wet spot would grow. It did.

wet stain basement wall

Next, a sewer expert with a special camera came to perform what was essentially a colonoscopy on our house. (Shout out to friends Ira and Tempeh for this perfect analogy/imagery.) Entering through our guest bathroom toilet, he could see all the plumbing in the house leading to the city sewer lines, EXCEPT those from the kitchen sink and dishwasher. Sure enough, when we ran the sink for a full (and, yup, very wasteful) 20 minutes, the spot actually began to drip. The diagnosis was not definitive, but something was definitely amiss – a pipe leading from the kitchen was broken, or clogged, or was never installed correctly. The upshot was that waste water was pooling under our slab and collecting behind that wall. Those pipes would have to be re-routed out to the street. The good news is that this waste was not coming from a toilet (the thought of this made us throw up in our mouths a few times.) The other good news is that they weren’t going to have to tear up our house. The bad news? They were going to have to dig a long trench about four feet deep and take an XL bite out of our bank account.

We aren’t strangers to plumbing issues – in fact I tried to address one in a former post. As always, we knew to call in second opinions, we researched the issue as much as we could.  We asked around for info and recommendations. We hemmed. We hawed. The spot got bigger. I always thought it would be fun to have a pool – but not under our house.

We finally gave the plumber the green light. We extracted funds from a few select accounts in the Cayman Islands. Then we braced ourselves.

Rob was at work the day of the big dig. He requested photo documentation throughout the day which I provided, until I decided it was best not to.

sewer dig

“It’s just better that you don’t see this,” I said to him over the phone. I knew it would break his heart to see you in this state.

new plumbing

To comfort and entertain myself, I began calling out the phrase, “Torn Asunder!” in biblical tones, referring to both you, and to several thousand dollars of our hard earned cash. TORN ASUNDER! This didn’t exactly make sense but it did make me feel better.

plumbing lawn

Anyway, we are impressed with the quiet dignity you displayed throughout this traumatic event. And even more so, we are impressed with how quickly you bounced back with the help of just a mere sprinkling grass seed. This is only a week later, wow:

grass seed

This little guy asked if I would relay his approval and gratitude as well:

baby bunny

I’d like to say that we’ll never let anything like this happen to you again…but life and homeownership are uncertain and we’d hate to make a promise we can’t keep. Just know that we appreciate all you do – keep up the great work.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn, Rob, and Ian

***

Have you thanked your lawn (or cursed your plumbing) lately?

gnome news: an interview

baby gap gnome onesie

It has recently come to our attention that a “local parent” has been foisting her inexplicable fascination with garden gnomes onto her young son. Because we are hard-hitting journalists specializing in breaking news of a…gnomey nature, we decided to go straight to the source — we are proud to announce that we scored an exclusive interview. Our subject is Ian, pictured above, who is now almost six months old, and obviously wise beyond his years.

The Home Tome: Is it true that your mother has been gradually and not so quietly amassing a collection of garden gnomes both inside and outside of her home for a few years now, thereby confusing her friends, family and most of all her devoted husband?

Ian: As per our agreement, I am not going to comment on things that happened before I met her. (*Note: some translating was required.)

THT: Fair enough. We understand that a large national retailer is currently selling onesies featuring the outline of a small yet congenial gnome with the word “hello there” printed beneath. We further understand that as soon as your mother’s friend Fiona tipped off your mother to this fact, your mother dropped everything, and rushed immediately to the mall. We heard that she was frantic and foaming at the mouth.

Ian: I am glad you asked this because I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up some misconceptions. She, in fact, did not “drop everything,” nor did she drop me as some news sources have alleged, but she did arrive at the mall early the next day and was the first customer to enter the store after the door was unlocked. That “foam” on her mouth was just a little mis-directed frappaccino.

THT: Did she proceed to purchase this onesie even though you already own a piece of similar clothing featuring a similar character?

gnome onesie uncommon goods

Ian: That is the case. But she procured this second one with the help of a gift card and she led me to believe that this was basically the same as getting it for free.

THT: We have it on good authority that she has even instructed one of her  gnomes to mentor you in gnomey ways. Is this the case?

Ian: I cannot deny this.

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But it sure beats algebra lessons.

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And I schooled him a little bit too.

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What do you think? Am I wrong to inflict this obsession hobby on my son? Okay, maybe don’t answer that…

Hope your own gnomes (garden gnomes, crib gnomes, all kinds of gnomes) are getting a great start to the summer!

diy baby clothesline: the hoarding starts now

pile of baby clothes

There are many things I am uncertain about in this parenting venture but there is one thing I know for sure: I will never ever be able to get rid of these tiny newborn suits! In fact, though it is logical, normal and the correct course of events, I am nothing short of stunned that Ian (now 5 months) has already outgrown them.

A local friend sent me a link to her soon-to-be sister-in-law’s sewing website, Cabin Creek Stitchery, wherein she provides a step-by-step process for making T-shirt quilts – I love this idea – surely a pint-sized quilt could be made from these extra small duds?

In the meantime, I decided to rig up a quick way to display them in his nursery on a clothesline so that I can enjoy them just a bit longer. This project didn’t take long. It was storming outside, so it was a perfect day to attempt it during naptime…

stormy outside

I gathered some clothespins, clothesline, and some adhesive hooks:

clothespins clothesline

Then I simply strung them on the line and hung them up on the wall. (FYI, the adhesive hooks worked a lot better in theory than in practice – once the clothesline had the suits on it, it was too heavy, so I had to use screws -  sorry, once again, Wall!)

Here’s how it turned out:

baby clothesline

Once he got up from his nap, the project manager seem to approve:

Ian 5 monthsHey, I recognize those from somewhere…

I am frankly undecided on the final result – it darkens his room a bit – and I’m not sure if it looks cute or ragtag. I’ll keep it up for a while longer and then we’ll see. If I decide to scrap this, and I don’t ever get the wherewithall to make a quilt, I have a few other ideas… I figure the only way to satisfy my sentimental side without becoming a full-out hoarder is to somehow re-purpose these clothes. So maybe I could make:

  • a poncho?
  • a parachute?
  • a tent?
  • a table cloth?
  • how about an nice colorful awning?

Point being, I am trying to soak in every bit of this experience. Literally everyone in my life and everyone I meet randomly on the street tells me that this phase “goes so fast!” and I already see what they’re saying. I suppose, instead of hoarding or even going to great lengths to re-purpose these items, I could simply look back at the several THOUSAND photos we have taken…

How about you? Has sentimentality got you doing crazy things?

minimalism no more

WARNING: The following post could be upsetting to individuals who adhere to a minimalistic lifestyle; it could be disturbing to people who prefer their living spaces to be clean and uncluttered; and it could potentially unhinge those who seek solace and serenity in their homes.

ANOTHER WARNING: The following post could be dangerous to all the individuals in our lives who chuckled when they saw the wide open spaces in our home and assured us it would never stay that way once we procreated – because the delighted cackle that would follow the words “I told you so” would be so forceful and filled with so much self satisfaction it could sprain their necks/jaws/ribs.

A FINAL WARNING: The following before and after photos may indeed be disconcerting to experience in this virtual forum, but to those of you who dare to actually cross this threshold in person, I urge you to proceed with the utmost caution and with a great deal of attention to what toy/gadget/desperate attempt to distract/or actual tiny child might be underfoot.

Needless to say, after all that prefacing…we used to be minimalists (or we aspired anyway)…and well, we aren’t anymore. I present the evidence:

ONE PART OF OUR LIVING ROOM, BEFORE:

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THAT SAME PART OF OUR LIVING ROOM, AFTER:

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ANOTHER PART OF OUR LIVING ROOM, BEFORE:

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FROM A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT ANGLE, AFTER:

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REMEMBER THE RELATIVELY SLEEK LINES OF OUR DINING ROOM/BOOK NOOK?

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NOT ANYMORE:

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BACK THEN, I’D NEVER LET ANYTHING GET IN BETWEEN ME AND MY BOOKS:

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NOW, WELL, IT’S A WHOLE OTHER SITUATION:

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OF COURSE, ALONG WITH ALL THE CHAOS COMES THIS:

ian 4.5 months

SO WE ARE HARDLY COMPLAINING…

I assume most homes take a hit when the kid moves in? And do I presume correctly that it only gets crazier from here?

least favorite parts of my first mother’s day as a mom

wilted tulips

Pumping milk at 6:13 AM to address an uncomfortable engorgement situation.

The carbon monoxide alarm in our attached apartment going off at 6:42 AM despite the fact that we changed the batteries yesterday. Copious Googling and hand-wringing ensue in lieu of calling the fire department. (When we called them last year for this reason, approximately 14 ladders showed up and no carbon monoxide was detected).

Accidentally tripping our house security alarm in the process of going out to investigate the carbon monoxide alarm. Lurching simultaneously in three directions: 1. to turn off alarm, 2. to answer phone when alarm company calls to see if everything is okay and 3. checking baby video monitor to see if all this has woken up the baby (only briefly!)

Discovering that the eggs are past their expiration date and there is no more milk, both of which are necessary for the pancakes The Hubs so kindly promised. (He still made them but had to run out to the store first.)

The lovely tulips The Hubs picked up while getting pancake ingredients starting to wilt as soon as they are placed in the vase. (See above.)

While child is napping, getting embroiled in a confusing conversation about parenting philosophies, covering far too many topics, issues and new-parent anxieties from several thousand angles.

Very optimistically getting a babysitter in order to drive to Brooklyn in order to 1. Catch the last day of our friend Henry Chung’s art exhibition and 2. Visit The Clay Pot, the shop where The Hubs got the engagement and wedding ring five-ish years ago…this time in order to pick out something nice to commemorate inaugural Mother’s Day.  Traffic is so bad that we have to abandon that ambitious plan and turn back toward home.

Visiting a local jewelry shop instead, but coming out empty handed. (Yes, I know, tragic: please bust out the world’s tiniest violin.)

Pulling off the road to take a look at the work of a local potter: while checking out the pottery, a medium-sized dog jumping in our car’s front window and rubbing his underparts against the straw of my formerly refreshing iced tea.

Deciding that a pedicure is the only way to turn this day around and discovering by driving around in several circles that all of the nail salons in the area are closed on Sundays.

Trying to quickly write this blog in the 24 minutes before the babysitter is due to leave and somehow erasing it then trying to frantically re-create if from memory. (If only I were kidding and just adding this one for effect…)

Okay, so my first Mother’s Day as a mom was kind of a comedy of errors, a series of fails and minor disappointments. Obviously, none of it was that bad and I have to admit that it ended on a good note:

Family

Despite all of the above, I am feeling like a very lucky woman. Hope you had a great or even a mediocre Mother’s Day, or at least got a few chuckles about the ways it let you down?

the problem with our Babyletto crib, changer and chair

Babyletto Hudson Crib and Changer

For the most part, we love the crib, changer and swivel chair we got for Ian’s nursery. They’re all made by Babyletto, which offers children’s furniture with just the kind of contemporary, sleek designs we dig. And yet: now that we are more than four months into using them, we have found each one of them to fall just a little bit short.

First, the Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib:

Babyletto Hudson Crib

We appreciate the fact that the mattress can be placed inside it at four different heights, and that it can transition from a crib to a toddler bed and then to a day bed. The cool grey color matches our grey floor perfectly. BUT. It does not rock gently back and forth like a hammock in a summer breeze, it does not come with human-like arms that wrap around the child, nor does it have a beating heart. Unfortunately, it does not emit a mist replicating the mother’s scent. And it has absolutely no idea how to shoosh. If you want your child to actually sleep in this crib, you will have to engage in some manual labor first in the form of vigorous cuddling.

Here’s the matching Hudson Changing table:

Babyletto Hudson Changer

The storage space in the drawers and in the adjacent cabinet space is perfect for our little one’s onesies, his tiny toiletries, and his diapering paraphernalia. Everything is easy to open and everything’s at the right height. BUT. I must offer this important warning: this product DOES NOT change your baby’s diaper for you NOR does it it in anyway protect you from the emission of bodily fluids. We were surprised that there was no HAZMAT suit included and no hose for the purposes of power washing. The result of this manufacturing oversight has been harrowing, indeed.

Finally, let’s address the Madison Swivel Glider:

Babyletto Madison Swivel Glider

This chair is extremely comfortable, the fabric is soft (and is proving to be surprisingly durable), and the way it swivels is delightful. We think it will transition well into another room of our house once we are finished with it in the nursery. BUT. It does not automatically feed your child from a breast, from a bottle or even from a straw. It doesn’t read bedtime stories and it does not have a Skype or Facetime function built into the armrests for the purpose of entertaining the grandparents!

As you can see, it’s a real mixed bag. As you can also hopefully see, I am kidding – we have been quite pleased with this furniture thus far and so has our little dude.

Any thoughts on nursery furniture that you’d like to add?