Monday, May 27, 2013

Kidspeak- waffle sucker

Marek- "eeew mom! Yuk! I don't want this sucker! I want a different one! I don't like suckers that taste like waffles!!"

Monday, May 13, 2013

Overworking the Hot Water Heater...

Man am I beat! I have done so much today, and I can't wait to be in bed. If I had my way (and a bath) I would already be there. It's 9:15 and I am just finishing up what I wanted to accomplish (well, truly only a portion of it) and I don't feel like I can go much longer. I was stressed out today only because of my own expectations of what I should accomplish. I hate when I do that but I don't know how to not worry over meeting my own deadlines. :) I actually have both a To-Do List AND I am making appointments with myself in my calendar so that I don't forget anything! Tomorrow is going to be worse as far as being "busy" but at least I get to start the day with a massage which I badly need because I am SO achey right now. My RLS has been going crazy, as it always seems to do when I start up allergy medicine. I try to delay the allergy meds as long as I can, but for several weeks I was just having a hell of a time getting out of bed, and I knew it was time. It's like one evil or the other.

The hot water heater has been working overtime today. I'm on my second load of diapers, my third load of dishes in the dishwasher, and I just finished making 20 gallons of laundry detergent. I was just going to jump in the bathtub, but I realized that I would likely have no hot water. I don't know how long it will take the water heater to catch up, but I figure if I write for a bit I will clear my head and hopefully gain myself a bit more hot water.

I was able to make pork chops and stuffing for supper and we also played outside for about three hours and I got three flower boxes planted. That only leaves five more window sized boxes and then all the rest of the containers (maybe like seven?) Then I have to clean the chicken coop. And spread 12 bags of mulch. And setup the swimming pool. I also added sand to the sandbox today which was thrilling for the kids. New sand always makes them thrilled. I sorted laundry that was piled over my head and although I intended to get further than I did with laundry, I did get three loads washed (but of course not folded hung or put away.

Tomorrow it looks like I will be going to Princeton and back FIVE TIMES and I am absolutely not exaggerating that. Unless I can convince Evan to bring both boys to me after my massage, then that would mean four times. I'm not sure how I am going to get supper in the crock pot and any laundry done amongst that mess of a day. Not to mention how badly I wanted to get my flowers planted. Oh well. I guess I have limitations!

I did take a break to sing the kids to sleep tonight. And I got to chat on the phone with a good friend for a bit while I unloaded the dishwasher.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. It didn't turn out as planned and I won't lie, I was feeling kinda glum... but overall I can't really complain. Looking back it was a nice day. It was windy! We had reservations to eat at Verucci's for Mother's Day brunch, but unfortunately Evan was throwing up all morning from a bad headache and a pinched nerve in his neck. I ended up taking the kids out to my moms to say hello and cooking them breakfast there. Then we played for a bit and I fixed a few things on mom's computer. After that we went to Red Barn Nursery and unfortunately I realized after we arrived that I had left my wallet at home. I was in the process of organizing my mobile office, and I had taken a bunch of stuff in from the van and accidentally left my wallet home. I had a large Stack n Store container that I was using as a mobile office, but one day I had someone riding with me soI had moved it to the very back of the van instead of in it's usual place in the front passenger seat. The next day one of the kids climbed over the back seat to get something from the way back and stepped ON to the container and cracked the lid badly. It was already missing two of the tabs and was precarious... so I knew it was time to rethink. I found a cool mobile office post and the Craftsman Tool Tote that she used was (is) on sale at Sears Website for $10.99 so I ordered it online with free in store pickup and got it the next day from the local Sears store. So yesterday afternoon after realizing I had forgotten my wallet, we went home and put on play clothes and then the big kids played in the front yard. I sat in the van watching them from the driveway, and the baby slept in his seat and nursed when he wanted to. It was to windy to really have him outside much so I organized the van a bit and setup my NEW Mobile office while he napped. I like how sturdy it is, but it also is heavy when you add in the family binder. But the GOOD news is that the binder fits inside, which is did not in the last mobile office, and that was frustrating. With Safety Town planning in full swing and me as the chairwoman this year, I need all the on the go organization I can get.

So anyway, the kids played happily and when they started to get on each other's nerves they climbed in the van with us and said "now what" and I said, lets go get some supper together. So we headed for town and decided on Mexican, where they gave me a single red rose that surprised me :) The kids had each made me cards when they woke up and Ardyn had a funny scavenger hunt. She had written "happy day mom" on three different pieces of paper and hidden them in the house for my to find. Marek had written something besides his own name for the first time, and it was "mom" awwe! We enjoyed our supper and then headed for home for baths and bedtime. The kids and I were all in bed at 5:45, but the baby wanted cuddle time and he nursed on and off for a while. I couldn't sleep (although I had been exhausted) so I sat up and worked on my to do list for the week to clear my head.

Ardyn has been bringing home lots of fun things from school, as they are gearing up for the end of the school year. Her art surprises are getting more frequent and more elaborate. Last week Marek went on a field trip with his class to the YMCA for some tumbling, and this week Ardyn goes to the zoo. I'm looking forward to the summer so that we don't have to stop what we are doing outside and come in to eat and bathe and be in bed at a respectable hour for school the next morning. That's the hardest thing about late nights and early mornings. I could stay outside till dark working if it weren't for school! But soon enough I will be begging the teachers to take them back :)

Today Ardyn was talking about first grade and she said "Mom do you know what Mr C (the first grade teacher) does if you tip your chair back in his class? He KNOCKS YOU OVER!" I said in mock horror.. "NO! Who told you that?" - She said "Miss R!" (her current teacher.) I had to stop myself from giggling.

Well, on to finishing up laundry and hitting the tub (I hope) but i might just settle for washing my feet and showering in the morning :)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Review- Infantino Squeeze Station and Fresh Squeezed Product Line

Today we tried the Infantino Squeeze Station and Fresh Squeezed Line. Let me start by saying that I received no free products, these were purchases that I made and have chosen to review here.

The Squeeze Station comes with ten disposable packets and lids. I was impressed with the quality of everything in the station, including the disposable packets. If you know me, you know that I don't LIKE Disposable. At all. We don't DO Disposable. We reuse everything. We cloth diaper, we use cloth wipes, mama cloth, the whole deal. I didn't order the disposable refills, but instead I ordered the Infantino Keeper Squeeze Pouches (two of them, one for the main course, and one for the dessert... just to try and see if they were what we would like.) The Keeper Squeeze Pouches seem to be taking longer to arrive than the station itself... I will update the review when I receive them.
Happy Babe

Now, for US, the idea behind the squeeze station was to find a portable method for feeding baby that wasn't messy and didn't require me to take glass baby food jars or a thermos container, or spoons, etc... everywhere we went. This isn't a big deal when you have like, your first child.... but when you have three kids and two of them are in school in different school districts and you spend more time driving back and forth than you care to think about, there are times when your baby is hungry and you just don't know what the heck you will do. There isn't a high chair. There isn't a wipeable surface surrounding them. I need something small, portable, and simple that creates little mess. I don't need a baby spoon that baby swats away and splatters food all over. I don't need to worry about keeping said spoon clean in the bottom of a crumb infested diaper bag. I just need simple and efficient.

I have three kids. I am not ashamed to admit that I have done LOTS of things as far as baby food. I've done Baby Led Weaning (BLW) and Annabel Karmel books and recipes. I've made my own purees and other homemade baby food recipes. I've purchased baby food in glass jars and plastic rectangular lidded packs. I've received food purees free from WIC. This gives me the opportunity to give a pretty full review.

Let's start by saying that the pouches hold a surprisingly generous amount of food for their slim and portable size. Baby Ewyn (I know you can't pronounce it. Haven't you people ever heard of Ewan McGregor? well, just think "yoo-win" and you've got it. Scottish. Gaelic. It's not that hard people.) is 7 months old in 40 minutes. His puree spitting techniques are spot on, although he is usually more interested in getting things down the hatch. Feeding him does take a lot of time and it makes a big mess. I usually feed him naked and I HATE feeding him in public because it's much easier to "lift shirt, attach boobie" than do the baby feeding gig. I hate public highchairs (assuming you can find one) and for a while I was taking my own high chair here and there and I had an okay (although stressful) system down where I had everything in a ziploc bag inside the tray lid and I also took a dry washcloth and a wet washcloth (we don't DO disposable wipes, remember) but I felt like it took 22.75 hours of planning to leave the house (I doth exxagerate) and so this was a much better solution.

Pouch baby food that can be pre-purchased has a few issues. You can't control ingredients. Lots of waste (garbage) that isn't green minded. Prices are higher than regular or homemade baby purees. WhatKindOfCancerCausingChemicalsAreInThatSpaceAgedPackaging?! Can you heat it?

My biggest issue is, that I see parents feeding the babies squeeze pouch food all the time. At home. At daycare. At babysitters. And all I can envision is the futuristic people in Wall-E. When will our kids learn to use spoons and forks? Using utensils is a skill that you hope your child develops at a decent age, and feeding them every meal in a squeeze pouch is likely going to hamper that skillset. This is why I am only using pouches when away from home in an inconvenient setting. At home I will still be using spoon. I think. Although there are also spoons that can attach TO the pouches. I don't believe these are the devil, but I do know that they aren't going to mesh with me "cleaner eating away from home" plan that I envision in my head. I will try them later. At this point the reviews on them are not promising.

I purchased the fresh squeezed line and pouches and tested them with items like applesauce for the big kids, and also homemade purees and store bought baby food.

Trying out the Squeeze Station
To start, the Station allows you to be filling three pouches at once, and they can be filled with the same or different purees. You have three chambers to fill and ONE Plunger (aka Infantino Food Press) that comes with the kit. You can purchase additional plungers (which I did, although they also have not arrived yet and it wasn't a HUGE pain to just quickly rinse the plunger between purees if needed.) You can purchase an additional funnel ($20 on amazon?!) and it seriously is NOT necessary. The opening is plenty wide to pour into and if you can't hit that opening, you have bigger issues. I do like to use these tiny spatulas (I have a bunch of them) to get remains out of food processor and baby food jars. These are slick little guys. I bought them back with baby #2 when I got smart.

Station Includes Three Tubes, but one plunger.
You attach the pouches to the station by sliding them into the grooves. They don't "secure" in place until you screw a tube on to the top. The tube secures directly on to the pouch, the stand just sort of "holds" them upright for you. As another reviewer stated, you can easily do this without the stand at all. If Infantino wasn't in the money making business, I am thinking they could sell the pouches and one plunger/tube for less than $10 and still make everyone happy. But I can see if you are doing lots of baby food (homemade) that this stand and doing several pouches at a time would be much nicer and less time consuming than doing it by hand. So that said, you can fill the pouches without the stand itself. I do like that the stand is versatile and allows you to store all the pieces inside when you are finished, which takes up less space and prevents your cupboards from having all these pieces roaming around to be lost in the depths.

I only made a few at a time as the fridge life is very short.
The plunger isn't a complete tight fit, but it does create a nice seal in the tube. The downside is that you can be plunging the pouches full of air (which would be worse if the plunger fit super tight.) Once I fill a tube with puree, I insert the plunger but tilt it slightly to one side so that there isn't a "seal" created until the plunger is flush with the puree. Then I straighten the plunger to create the seal and press the puree down into the bag completely. This prevents you from injecting a bunch of air into the bag. Remember to unscrew the bag slightly before retracting the plunger or the puree will be sucked back out of the packet. A little puree will leak around the top of the packet when you unscrew, but it's minimal. If it's your first baby, just sterilize the pouch spout with bleach or alcohol before putting the lid on. If it's your third, just lick it and put the lid on. (kidding. About the bleach and alcohol part, not the licking part.)

The upside is that these packets can be frozen (and of course they sell a packet organizer.) The downside is that they aren't shelf stable like a purchased packet and they only recommend keeping them in the fridge for 48 hours (yes, again.... if it's your
I don't get it mom.
first baby you'll listen. If you're me, you might go a week:) Another downside? These packets can't be microwaved or boiled. I assume you could put them in a hot glass of water to warm the food if you wanted, or maybe a bottle warmer? Some baby food is good cold or room temperture, but Ewyn made a horrid face at me when I tried to serve him cold green beans "ala packet" today.

The "tubes" have marks on the sides of them. The lowest mark is approximately the equivalent of a Gerber First Foods Plastic pack of puree. The second mark is about the equivalent of a standard Gerber/Beechnut baby food Jar (not the tiny ones that meats come in) and you can get two Gerber Puree Packets (plastic lidded smaller packs) into one fresh squeezed pouch. You can also get an entire jar of baby food in a pouch with wiggle room.

I think I can. I think I can.
My kids wouldn't eat green beans or peas. Ardyn would gag and puke. Marek and Ewyn just gag and spit and refused to swallow them at all. They were much happier with orange veggies like Squash, Carrots, and Sweet Potatoes. This time around I learned that mixing green beans or peas with fruit (seriously) is a big yum-o for baby and that I can get them to eat green beans and peas NO PROBLEMO if I mix them. Green Beans with Pears is a big hit with Ewyn. It's really nice because if I was trying to feed green beans on the go I would have to have a way to mix them with pears... or mix them at home ahead of time. In this case I mixed them right in the station tubes. I used the lines on the tubes to pour equal amounts of pears and beans into each tube and then mixed with my little spatula and pressed the mixes right into the packets. This would work well with homemade purees as well. Voila, green beans and pears on the go.

Aha! Suction!!!!
Of course the directions say do NOT reuse pouches (yes I tried it. yes it worked. No it isn't all super sterile and clean.) but the pouches do write on very nicely with a fine sharpie. I would recommend labeling them BEFORE filling *duh*

I also have purchased some of these really cool spout toppers that are silicbooginhead pouches (which I already have four of because the big kids pack them for snacks and lunches in place of disposable applesauce pouches.) However, the threading on the tube doesn't match the threading on the booginhead SqueezEms... and they must thread in order to work. Unfortunate. The alternative would be to OPEN the top of the squeezems pouch by booginhead, and using the tube and plunger in a handheld manner, you may be able to fill the pouches. I am not sure if this would be more difficult than just spooning into the SqueezeEms like I have been doing... because that seems like more hands might be needed than God has graced me with. Booginhead pouches are dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe.... which is quite the edge over the Infantino Line. Although I have yet to get the reusable Infantino pouches to compare. In the product photo it appears that the infantino reusables are more of a bottle than a pouch, and I wonder about the "squeezeability" of them as well as how easy it would be for a baby to self feed with one when all they have is a suck reflex and can't properly squeeze the food out with their hands.
Gross Mom! Who Leaked??
one and I hope that they fit these infantino packets. They make the opening all soft and easier to suck food through, which should be a big plus for little babes. And will help protect from chewers too I hope. The infantino packets might be a little tricky because I get the idea they aren't the industry standard as far as spout/threading/size goes. I was hoping to use the station with my reusable

That leads me to another angle. Mess. At first I was disappointed because it seemed that these pouches were going to cause as much mess or MORE than spoon feeding. Baby wanted to grab the pouch and squeeze it all over. Think Juice box... aha! How about using this little device to solve some of that "excitable squeezing" ?? I have one or two somewhere around here but haven't been able to figure out WHERE so that I can test that theory... but I bet it would work nicely! Or it could become a baby projectile object....

At first Ewyn had a hard time figuring out how to suck the puree out. I was discouraged because as a breastfeeder he has major suck power. But he needed mom to help squeeze and it was practically impossible to do because I couldn't SEE what I was squeezing into his mouth so it was constantly an overflow situation. And he would just let the excess drool out below the pouch where I couldn't see it. Annoying when you have a high chair tray under baby, catastrophic when you do not have a high chair (away from home.) By pouch four, I was feeling much better about it, as he had mastered sucking the food from the pouch with very little waste. Much improved. I think this might be the solution we've been searching for!

Stay tuned for updates on other items that I am waiting for! and while you're at it... WATCH the video!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Kidspeak- McDonalds Scripture Lesson

Ardyn and I had an interesting conversation today. (Are you shocked?)
Marek and I were busy today and I had a headache and took a short nap with the baby. Marek had a big breakfast and at about 2:30 I realized we hadn't eaten lunch. He had a banana and a cereal bar at home before we took Ardyn to school and then after a Wal-Mart trip he had pancakes and sausage. After picking Ardyn up, I texted Evan and said I would bring a happy meal home for Marek if he wanted one because we forgot to eat. Ardyn insisted that she needed one too (despite it being 3pm) because she was STARVING and would DIE if she didn't eat her supper right this minute.

I ordered two cheeseburger happy meals with plain cheeseburgers.

We got going down the road and Ardyn opens her happy meal. She ate all her fries, and about halfway home (5 or 6 minutes out of town in the country) she starts crying HYSTERICALLY because she discovers that her cheeseburger is NOT, in fact, Plain. She was positively LIVID. Which really is ironic. Because I never used to get them plain cheeseburgers. They like ketchup and mustard. But they are messy and sometimes they overload them with ketchup, so I just started getting them plain for convenience sake when we are in the van.

So anyway, she is screaming and having a crazy meltdown like a toddler. I could tell from her voice and her situation that she was tired. This is the case a lot lately because it's light so much later that instead of a 6:30-7:30 bedtime they are STILL Awake and chatting at like 9pm because it's light out. So they are going from their usual 11-12 hours of sleep to an average of 9 hours a night, which is a big deal.

Meltdown continues. No, correct that. It ESCALATES. I'm getting things like
"THEY did this on PURPOSE! They are so MEAN! I don't like those McDonald's people! They are just MEAN."

To which I respond, "I know it's frustrating, but everyone makes mistakes. They are just people too." (while secretly thinking about Zack and our "second drivethru lane" conversations, because of COURSE that's where I ordered)

Then she's even more hysterical. "They did it on PURPOSE!!!! They are MEAN mommy! I can't EAT this!? I will NOT EAT THIS. Now I'm gonna be starving!"

I try to be calm and diffuse diffuse diffuse. "Ardyn, they just made a mistake. Just take the pickle off and put it in the bag. You don't have to eat it."

"But MOOOOOOOOOOM There's KETCHUP and it's EVERYWHERE and it's (sob sob sob) touching my CHEEEEESE! (wail, snort, sob) They Did this on PURPOSE!!!!"

So I try to bring God into the picture, because often times that seems to solve things for her. Call it part of Christian Schooling, call it comforting, call it religious, call it a darn good explanation for right and wrong. I don't care what you want to call it. "Ardyn, you need to calm down. People make mistakes. Jesus says that all people make mistakes and we are supposed to forgive them. Jesus forgives and we should forgive." (i'm feeling pretty proud of myself now. I'm getting better all the time at applying reasons that she can understand to everyday situations.)

Ardyn wails "We haven't learned THAT in school!!!" and I say "But it's true!" and she says "We haven't learned that at my school yet" in a tone that CLEARLY states that scripture which is not directly taught to her at school is null and void. (This is the part where one of those really"GOOD" Christians would just off the cuff recite a bible verse complete with location and the child would instantly be overcome by peace, joy, and an angelic glowing face. At this I miserably fail.)

Eventually she decides that she can't eat ANYTHING near that cheeseburger. I get "Mom! You should have TOLD them I wanted a plain cheeseburger!!!" and I said (still in firm possession of my calm and patient mom voice) "I did tell them Ardyn. I ordered two plain cheeseburgers. They make mistakes." (And if it wasn't for the drive back I swear to you I would have drug my child into McDonalds with snot and tears running down her angry red face and let them deal with her "YOU DID THIS ON PURPOSE" situation. Well, the drive back and perhaps looking a little like the mother of Veruca Salt.) Then she goes on to say "NEXT Time mom you need to SPEAK CLEARLY and LOUDER." (second drivethru conversation, second drivethru conversation.... why didn't I record this to play to Zack??)

Once she realizes I am eating MY cheeseburger, and ignoring the devastation caused by hers... she gives in a bit and declares that she CAN in fact, probably eat the bottom bun, untouched by contaminating condiments. Then she declares that she THINKS that she could eat the burger but that she has to peel off the cheese because the ketchup is ALL OVER the cheese. Then a few minutes later I hear "Hey Mom! This Ketchup is REALLY GOOD!!!!!"

And then as we turn onto our street "Mom, Next time can you order me a cheeseburger with Ketchup that's NOT plain?"

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you - Ephesians 4:32
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