Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Calling All Mommy Experts!

Hello, Mommies! Question for you.... as many of you hopefully know by now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that starting babies on solids be delayed until 6 months to aid in better digestive development for your little one. So, with that knowledge in mind, Cadence had her first bite of rice cereal exactly on the day she hit 6 months. (Do I earn mommy points for that???) I had hoped to make most of Cadence's baby food myself with my nifty little baby food grinder.... but as you all know, parenting ideals often have to shift out of necessity when you are introduced to what the reality of parenting is actually like. (Major cyber high-five to any mommies reading this who make all their own food!)

According to AAP and our pediatrician, solids should go like this: You wait to start solids until 6 months. Got it. Then you only introduce one new food at a time, allowing 5-7 days in between new foods. Ok. You start with vegetables first, then a month or two later add fruits. Once you've introduced a new food, you keep it in rotation so that your baby doesn't have to eat only carrots for the 5-7 days straight until switching to a new food... I actually knew someone who did this to their baby, and the poor kid's skin turned orange. Bad. So, switch it up between the already introduced foods. Cool.

So, here's the question. Baby food companies LOVE to print age ranges on their products to let you know when it would be "appropriate" to feed that product to your baby. However, their recommendations don't match those of AAP... which of course is a marketing ploy, because the sooner they can convince you that it's safe to give your baby their products, the sooner they start making money off of you.

The baby food jars are made in different amounts of thickness for different "stages." Stage 1 is recommended by Gerber and Beech Nut and every other company for ages 4 months and up. Stage 2 is recommended for ages 6 months and up. So obviously, if I follow the AAP recommendations, I would not follow these age ranges. But I want to know at what point my baby is "behind?" Because in my mind, I don't want to start her on any Stage 2 foods until she's been introduced to all of the Stage 1 foods available, right? And in Stage 1 there are green beans, peas, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, prunes, apples, pears, peaches, and bananas, plus we're supposed to spend a week or so on introducing rice cereal and oatmeal cereal. That means that we would take about 12 weeks to introduce all of the Stage 1 foods, so if we start at 6 months, we are ready to switch to Stage 2 at 9 months, right? So it's ok for my 8 month and 10 day old to still be on Stage 1 right?

And another thing, the Stage 2 jars are bigger... like twice as much food! Cadence is a little itty bitty girl with an itty bitty stomach... and there are many times when getting her to finish off the end of a Stage 1 jar is difficult. And I really don't want to waste food or my money. So all that being said, I feel like between the AAP and my pediatrician and my own logic, it makes sense to still be on Stage 1.

BUT... other books I've read say that we should be progressing to cheerios and other finger foods around 9 or 10 months, and if we're still on Stage 1 thickness at 8 1/2 months, that's going to be a jump that is too big for her to make that quickly. I know lots of other mommies with babies around the same age as Cadence or even younger who are already on Stage 2 or even Stage 3! I'm so confused.

Really, I'm not expecting any definite answers from anyone, I guess more than anything I just wanted to vent about how much the opinions of doctors vs. AAP vs. Gerber vs. other moms on this matter are so very different, leaving me to feel like someone will always be making me feel like I'm messing up. A little agreement between all involved parties would sure be nice!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh, April...

If you had met me 3 years ago, you would have met a VERY different person. You would have met a girl who was exhausted by life. Who was in the process of having her heart shattered by a boy who never had deserved her heart, but she gave it to him anyway out of fear of being alone. Who was receiving wedding announcements and baby shower invitations by the dozen and who was gasping to try to keep up. You would have met a girl who felt inescapably trapped by the career path that she had so desperately wanted to follow her entire life. You would have met a girl who loved to dream big but repeatedly allowed herself to be let down by people who didn't support her big dreams. You would have met a girl who had trained herself to speak the words "I'm sorry" in order to preserve relationships. Never mind the fact that she had done nothing wrong. You would have met a girl who was on the verge of allowing her life to settle at mediocre. You would have met the average twenty-something, as it turns out. 

If you had met me on August 16, 2008, you would have met a girl who was not only single, but bitter about being single. You would have met a girl who was starting to develop quite an attitude about the whole concept of relationships and love. And if you told me that exactly two years from that day I would find myself in a hospital room giving birth to a beautiful baby girl with my dream husband by my side, I would have laughed in your face. 

Now it is April, and wedding season is once again upon us. This, of course, brings all of the girls who are going through what I was going through not so long ago out of the wood work. Facebook is flooded by exciting engagement and baby announcements, divided up on the news feed only by snarky (yes I just used the word snarky) comments about true love being a complete joke. The girls who make those comments, of course, are wrong. However, I completely understand and empathize with them. After all, I've been there. And I remember, only 2 years ago, completely agreeing with them that true love was a complete joke. 

Thank God I met my husband. The ways that Jonathon has changed my life and my heart and my soul are completely immeasurable. The night we met, we were at a Halloween party. It was 2008. We were introduced to one another by a mutual friend. We talked with one another for a few minutes and then carried on with life as usual... well, at least as close to usual as you can find at a Halloween party that is 80s themed. Suffice it to say that Jonathon still remembers watching me tear up the dance floor in my crimped hair and neon blue slitted shirt belting out the words to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" at the top of my lungs... it's no big surprise that no digits were exchanged that evening. But a month later we were reunited and phone numbers and life stories were exchanged, and within a week we were "official." Four months and ten days later the man of my dreams got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Six months and eight days after that we exchanged wedding vows. Ten months and six days after that we welcomed our precious baby Cadence into the world. And now, as I try to soothe a teething 8 month old back to sleep, I hold my sweet little girl and am so completely thankful that I didn't allow my life to settle in the valley of mediocre. 

My point? Ladies, it's April. When you're single, this time of year sucks. There is just no getting around it. However, I just want to tell you that it IS possible to find the man who meets every single criteria that you have obsessively written in a list (and ordered by priority) if you'll just wait patiently for him to find you. So my advice? Don't waste a single second more of your life wallowing in self pity and wondering if the best days of your life are already behind you. It's just not worth your time. 3 years ago I was 100% convinced that I was going to become the definition of a cat lady.... though I'm deathly allergic to cats, so really I would have just been a fish lady, most likely. But I would have had an impressive aquatic collection, let me tell you. With a little bit of patience and a whole lot of faith, I find myself today living the life that I have always dreamed of. And while our little family of three doesn't always get everything just right, and while troubles still fall on our path on a fairly regular basis, I can honestly say that I've never been happier. 

And the girl from 3 years ago? Sometimes I look at pictures of her and don't even recognize her. And I think that's probably a good thing. I've changed for the better. I stopped settling. I stopped apologizing for things that weren't my fault. I not only quit teaching, but I allowed myself to let go of the guilt-ridden idea that my entire college education was a waste of time and money. I stopped giving my heart to boys who didn't deserve it. I let go of the people in my life who couldn't support me in my pursuit to follow my big dreams, and began to dream even bigger. And you know what happened, just as soon as I started to let go of all of that crap? The love of my life found me. Happiness found me. Faith found me. The life that I had spent my life dreaming of finally found me. 

I can't actually guarantee that this will happen to everyone, but I can guarantee that if you let go of all of the crap, you will find yourself infinitely happier. So there's your unsolicited advice for the day. You're welcome.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No-Sew T-Shirt Bags!

Fun, retro, easy, way to reuse an old t-shirt! I just had to pass on this pattern for making a t-shirt into a bag!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Peanut-Crusted Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup crushed peanuts
1 tsp cayenne pepper (extremely optional. If you're white like me, don't do it!)

4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp dry ginger
1 tbs honey
1 tsp rice wine vinegar

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together and pour into a freezer sized ziplock bag. Add the chicken into the bag and zip it shut. Mix everything around until the chicken is coated with the marinade and then let sit for 20+ minutes, re-mixing occasionally.

Then dip each chicken breast in the crushed peanuts and put it in a baking pan. The peanuts didn't stick very well to mine, so I sprinkled the extra peanuts over everything until all of the pieces were covered.

Extra tip: if you want a super easy and fun way to crush your peanuts, put them in a ziplock bag, zip it shut, find a nice slab of concrete and take your meat tenderizer (or a hammer) to them. Fun!

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes (we had to cook them a little longer... cut open the thickest part to check for pink after 25 minutes.)

Total Cheater-Pants Chicken Pot Pie

1 Pre-made pie crust
1 bag of Birds Eye brand Voila! skillet bag- the one called "Chicken & Vegetables in Pot Pie Gravy and crust crumbles" from the freezer section

Cook the skillet bag on the stove as directed, but don't add the crust crumbles at the end. Pour it into a pie baking pan. Roll out the pre-made pie crust (Walmart's Great Value crust comes out great). Take a knife and cut some cutie pie shapes out of it for venting. Then put it over the top of the pie pan, covering all of the filling. Then pinch the edges of the crust to seal the edges (and make it look pretty). Then bake it at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Yum!

*Just to clarify, part of why this is cheater-pants pie is because there is no bottom crust, only a top crust. Crazy, it still looks cute and tastes just as good!