Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Easy-Peezy Guide for Making Homemade Baby Foods and Purees

Nothing about me screams organic or green.  I have the smallest recycling bin on the block. We don’t drive hybrid vehicles.  And I prefer a good bottle of water vs. anything out of the tap. These aren’t things to brag about – but it’s my reality. I barely have time to brush my teeth each morning, let alone worry about saving the planet (I’ll get to that tomorrow…). I take an average of half a shower each day, sweatpants are my uniform, my makeup routine consists of slapping on some cherry Chapstick and my hair can almost put itself up in a messy bun.  Sound familiar? Being a mom is a 24-hour job.  And let’s be honest - we’re all just trying to keep our kids out of therapy and off the next episode of Dr. Phil.

Which brings me back to homemade baby food and purees. By far the most "organic" thing I do. With all the things every mama has on her plate each and every day, is making homemade baby food necessary? No. It’s not a must-have. But it’s definitely a nice-to-have. And it’s easy - I promise. If it weren’t super simple, I most likely wouldn’t be doing it. 

I started my journey into making homemade purees and baby food out of the most instinctual, primal feeling every mother has: guilt. I wasn’t able to breastfeed my babies, and I felt terrible about it. I tried and tried, but when my nipples literally fell off, I figured it was time to throw in the towel and stir up some formula. My children didn’t grow horns or wither away from lack of mother-child bonding, but I still felt guilty for not being able to breastfeed.

So when it came time for them to begin eating solids, I knew I had to step up my game. It was redemption time, people! I felt good about giving my babies homemade food right from the start – free of preservatives, hormones and other unnecessary additives. Organic, pure foods.

Not to mention, the enormous cost savings. The cost of pre-made baby foods really add up – especially if your babies are hungry, hungry hippos like mine. At an average of $1.00 per serving of the leading baby food brand, you could be spending up to $45 each week – nearly $200 a month!  By making your own purees, you’ll spend a fraction of that – a mere $0.10 or less per serving.  That’s less than $5.00 per week! Makes ‘cents’ to me.

For the next few days I plan to post information about making your own baby food and purees - from the Basics, to FAQs, to Recipes I've developed over the last few years. All the links can be found on this one page:

Enjoy your puree journey!!


Be sure to click here - - to read all the posts on making your own baby food and purees! It will be an easy way to keep track and look for new updates!

Or follow the links below to all my other posts on making homemade baby food and purees:
Easy-Peezy Purees - What You Need to Get Started:

The Basics of Making Homemade Baby Food - How to Puree:

Easy-Peezy Purees - The Essential 17 Fruits and Veggies Every Mama Needs to Know:

Easy-Peezy Homemade Baby Food and Purees - Foods to Avoid:

The Whys and Hows of Transitioning Your Little One to Solids:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creative Minds Are Rarely Tidy

Creativity runs in my family. My mom always had a sewing room filled to the brim with crafts, fabrics, buttons, thread - you name it, you could find it in this room. My grandma was the same way. My mind is always racing with ideas for projects, crafts, artwork - it's hard to shut off the creativity switch sometimes (and Pinterest doesn't help the situation - "just one more 'Find More Pins' and then I'll go to sleep....").
So when it comes to Miss Paige and her artistic flair, I can't help but support and encourage it - I love to see her little mind working as she creates a new piece of art for the fridge. But no one ever said creativity is a clean sport - just take a look at my kids' playroom.

There is a big possibility that I may have let the freedom of creative expression go a wee bit too far yesterday. I will not confirm nor deny the fact that I may have let Miss Paige run wild with a set of Crayola markers yesterday while I took some time to sketch. And she may or may not have taken her passion for coloring beyond the paper, past the easle... and onto every inch of her body that wasn't covered with clothing. I know I should have stopped her, scolded her for the billionth time for not staying on the paper. But sometimes creativity just has to flow - it can't be stopped. Sometimes you have to throw caution (and cleanliness in my case) to the wind. I understand the need to create - it's like an itch you just have to scratch - and so I plead the 5th on whether or not I pretended I didn't see what she was doing back in that playroom. I saw her keep peering over, seeing if I was going to stop her or scold her (like I usually do for such offenses). She would take a marker and run it up and down her arm, creating stripes. Polka dots on her bare legs. Each finger was a different color. The joy in her eyes was electric! When she was done with her "creation" she ran into the kitchen to show me - the biggest smile I have ever seen plastered on her face. She stood with her arms and legs spread wide. When I told her how fantastic and beautiful it was, she began jumping up and down, squealing with happiness. She was so proud of herself! I should have taken a picture, but before I could grab the camera she was back in the playroom, engrossed in her Elmo matching cards. So I took a few wet wipes and cleaned up the evidence of 'Paigey Gone Wild' before Daniel got home from work.

I probably shouldn't have let her do that. It wasn't the 'responsible mommy' thing to do. But I just couldn't help myself! Heck - sometimes I want to paint and draw all over my body too!

Besides - I'm pretty certain that's why they invented washable markers anyway : )

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Truth About Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression. It's real. And it doesn't necessarily happen right after the baby is born. For me it happened 4 months later.

Obviously something was going on the last few months. I wasn't myself. I could barely get out of bed in the morning. Throughout the day, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. My body felt dead. I had two beautiful smiling children that made me happy - but as soon as I put them down for a nap and was left alone with myself, all I wanted to do was lay on the ground. And I did - literally. I would be cleaning up the playroom and I would stop what I was doing and lay down on the floor. Just to close my eyes. Or to cry. It felt like my hormones were rebelling. Like my body decided to start fending for itself.

This feeling started almost immediately after Deacon's surgery. I guess it technically started in the hospital - on day 2. When I felt like Deacon was replaced with a "new" baby ( And it lasted until about a month ago - the end of January. But the strange thing is - I never realized it was postpartum depression until recently. While I was in the throes of it, it never once dawned on me that what I was feeling was depression. It was only once I began to spiral out of it that I realized what had been going on. I knew I wasn't myself. I knew something was wrong. But I couldn't put my finger on what it was. All I could tell people was that, "I just don't feel right."

I convinced myself it was my thyroid. Or anemia. So I went to the doctor for blood work. Unfortunately I let myself wallow in this gray area for longer than I should have. I tried to go to my OB-GYN a few times, but they said (over the phone) that they couldn't help me - that I needed to see my primary care physician. Probably because I told them I was having thyroid problems. But I wish they would have recognized the reality behind what I was saying. I told them I felt like my hormones were going crazy. That my body felt exhausted and drained of all energy. That I felt off.

Finally in late-January I went to my primary care physician and had her draw blood. I told her it was my thyroid. She wasn't too interested in what I had to say after that. She went with it and drew the blood. Lo and behold, my thyroid was perfectly fine. The only thing that was low was my Vitamin D. So she prescribed me a hefty dose of Vitamin D and that was that. No follow up. No calls to see how everything was going. Nada. Oh - and that I may want to try a Gluten Free diet for a bit to see if that helped.

I'm not sure if it was the Placebo effect or if the Vitamin D/Gluten Free diet really did help jumpstart my mind again, but I finally began to feel a bit better. Everyday I was gaining more energy. I wanted to do more. To see more. To reengage with the world. I felt like I had more control over my body. My emotions. And that I was "myself" again.

So here's my question: How come I didn't recognize it? I still don't have the answers to this. I'm still coming to terms with the whole thing myself. I guess I didn't realize you could get PPD months after the baby's birth - I thought it was something that happened immediately. Maybe I suppressed all the emotions because of Deacon's surgery and once it was over, my brain needed time to recover. That's the only thing I can think of. I also think a reason I never considered postpartum depression was because I didn't have the "tell tale" signs you always hear about - i.e. wanting to hurt my babies, not wanting to mother them, not wanting to be around them. That's what I always heard post partum depression was. But I had NONE of those feelings. My kids weren't the problem - I was. My body was. It was actually Daniel that finally asked if that's what may be going on - if I may have post partum depression. I brushed him off when he said it, but it stuck with me. I wasn't willing to believe that happy, smiling, enthusiastic Erica was depressed. But in actuality, I was. For about four months.

And another question: How come the doctors didn't recognize it? Because I was smiling? I've found that if you ever want a doctor to take you seriously, don't smile. I've pretty much given up on doctors in general. The only doctors I've ever been happy with were Deacon's neurosurgeon and plastic surgeon. And the perinatologists I saw during both pregnancies. Because they were specialists. They specialized in a specific field and knew A TON about it. I feel like every other doctor is pretty disappointing - the doctors that fall in the "generalist" category. Doctors are supposed to know stuff. To diagnose issues. But in all honesty, general doctors are just like the rest of us... except they spent some extra time in school. They know an itty bitty bit about a lot of health-related things. As long as you have a pulse and are breathing, you are "golden" in their eyes. Unless something is very obvious, you are pretty much on your own. They say don't look on things like Wed MD and Google - but how the heck else are you going to figure out what's wrong with you?

Anyway... I wanted to share this because I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions about postpartum depression. You don't have to be hearing voices, be suicidal or want to hurt your babies. I felt none of those things. It can come on months after the actual birth. You can be smiling on the outside and still function to a certain extent. But inside you know something isn't right. You feel "off". Like the blood had been drained from your body and you've become a walking zombie. Like your hormones have a mind of their own. I was there. I'm spiraling out of it now. And I want other moms to be able to recognize it and get the help they need.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Amber Alert: My Sideburns Are Missing

I've decided that the best sales people in the world are the ladies who do the waxing in nail salons.

I know, I know - I should go to some fancy schmancy place to get my eyebrows waxed. I also should get my hair dyed by a professional, but somehow - despite the best on intentions - I always end up with a box of dye and crazy Dexter-inspired gloves doing contortion-style moves in my mirror to make sure I don't miss any spots. Sometimes if I have extra cash I'll go to the Brow Bar at Ulta and spend $25. But usually by the time I get a chance to go anywhere I'm starting to resemble Chewbaca and need to go to the nearest salon STAT before my eyebrow hair interferes with my vision. Today was one of those Chewbaca days. And evidently, not just for my eyebrows.

We've all been there - sitting in the chair at the nail salon in front of your entire neighborhood (or so it feels like) - getting our brows done, when the nice Asian lady asks, "You want your lip done too?" Cue paranoia: My lip? What's wrong with my lip? Well jeez - if she's asking I must have a serious mustache sprouting. And the next thing you know, you're saying, "Yes! Yes! Please do my lip too!"

I'm not totally convinced that these nail salons don't pump a slight relaxing agent into the air - probably Valium or Xanax - to create a more agreeable client. I mean really - how else do you explain walking in to get your eyebrows waxed and leaving with the Sisteen Chapel painted on your toenails. I walk in and agree to pretty much anything they suggest. Today was no exception.

During the eyebrow grooming, the nice lady started stroking my sideburns. I instantly thought - "Oh my gosh! I knew there was something terrible about my sideburns!" She asked if I wanted them waxed. To be completely honest, I had been somewhat paranoid about my sideburns for the past few weeks. Why? Well I was flipping through pictures of Deacon's time in the hospital and I saw quite a few profile shots of my face - and I noticed an abundance of sideburn action going on. They've always been somewhat unruly, but I never thought of doing anything to them. It wasn't like they were growing into a goatee or chinstrap or anything scary/manly like that. Until I saw those pictures and decided my sideburns were in serious need of grooming. And then of course I started Googling. And next thing you know I was in the bathroom with scissors and a razor trying to take care of my newly discovered sideburn situation. It didn't end well. A snip on one side, then trying to match the other side. It was bad. I decided to let them grow back and forget about them like I had for my previous 27 years on Earth.

That was until today, when I found myself under the spell of a certain lady with a hot wax wand in her hand. Before you knew it, she was ripping hair off the side of my face like I was Teen Wolf. I was certain at one point that I must be bleeding. Either that or she was using the claws of a cat to pull out my sideburn hairs. When she was done I looked in the mirror - knowing that at this point it was a done deal - and I felt naked. I'd never seen my face without sideburns. Without that unruly bit of hair in front of my ears. It was a bit unnerving. But as I drove home it began to grow on me. And by the time I pulled into the driveway, I was kind of in love with not having sideburns. So maybe the sweet Asian lady was right... this time. I'm a little afraid at what I'll walk out without next time. Eek!

Oh, and BTW - I'm back : ) Instead of writing some lengthy apology or explanation for where I've been or why I stopped writing, I decided to jump right back in. Thanks for understanding. XOXO, Erica