Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Eight Months, Carter!

Dear Sweet Boy,

This is getting a little silly now! Mama swears she was just sitting down to write your seventh month letter yesterday and your birth story the day before. How is it possible that you are eight months old already? I guess that saying rings true, "time flies when you're having fun," and having fun you certainly are!

You are constantly on the move and on the go. Interested in everything and anything that comes your way. 

You've been a busy little boy this month and it reflects in the one nap you've started taking each day. Finally, a nap. I don't ask much of you Baby Carter, but please continue napping. Although it's only twenty to thirty minutes at a time, your little brain needs the rest. So does Mama.

Eight months brought new tastes to your palette. Nectarines, plums, lentils, tomatoes and peaches. Once again, you surprised Mama and Daddy with your love for all things food. You also started eating three solid meals per day. Typically a fruit and oatmeal in the morning, a fruit-veggie combo around noon followed by your dinner which typically consists of a vegetable with rice. 

You're still drinking three 8oz bottles of formula per day and one sippy full of water. Mama heard that sippies with straws were excellent muscle strengtheners in regards to lip control and immediately tossed your regular sippies and replaced them with straw cups. You picked up how to suck from the straw in no-time and love sipping your water with an afternoon snack of banana pieces, puffs or Mum-Mum's.

You're sleeping 10-14 hours overnight, except for those awful five days surrounding your seventh month birthday when you cut your first two teeth. We might as well have had a brand new baby during those five days and your Mama and Daddy are waiting with baited breath for the rest of your teeth to come in. Aside from terrible sleep, you teethed like a champ and once we figured out the perfect routine of Motrin and Hyland's Teething Gel, you were as happy as a lark.

You typically go down for the night between 6 and 7pm and sleep clear through until 7am when Daddy gets up for work. Sure, there are a few nights when you're up looking for your nunni around midnight, but you settle yourself back down fairly quickly. You nap, without fail, at 10:30 every morning. Mama or Daddy (usually Mama!) rocks you to sleep every night. It's one of my favorite times of the day. My other favorite time of the day is bathtime!

You're wearing size 4 Luvs during the day and size 5 Huggies overnight. In terms of clothes, you're wearing 18month sleepers, 12 month bodysuits, 12 month pants and 18 month shirts. We might as well be dressing a toddler, sweet boy! 

No real "crawling" yet, but you certainly know how to get to where you want to go! You literally "scoot" across the floor on your little tushie while in a sitting position. When that fails, you just roll onto the floor and roll wherever you need to be. 

You've mastered sitting from a laying position and getting onto your belly from a sitting position. You love to "stand," and will reach for myself or Daddy to help you into a standing position. You've "pulled up" only a handful of times on your crib and pack and play and I have a feeling this next month will bring lot's of developments on that front. 

You "talk" and babble to yourself all the time. You talk yourself to sleep, you talk yourself awake in the morning and you love to talk to your toys when you're sitting on the floor. 

"Mama, Dadda and Baba" are the sounds you've mastered. I can't say that they are actual words yet- although you've been saying them for over a month. I'm not sure you actually connect the words with who/what they belong to. Who knows, maybe you're just smarter than your Mama and I just haven't really noticed.

You don't like to hear the word, "no." The minute we say it to you or take something away, you make the "hurt feelings face" and will sometimes go as far as to cry big, fat crocodile tears. The minute we give you something new to play with, it's as if nothing ever happened! You're such a little stinker, Carterito!

You love to make this "clicking" noise with your tongue as if you're telling a horsey to "giddyup!" You crack yourself up over and over again each time that you do it. 

You've started "signing" for "milk" with both hands when you want "more" of something. When sitting in your high chair you'll use both hands to sign "milk" when you're hungry. Milk, purees, whatever it is, you just want it. Mama thinks she'll start working with you on a few signs over the course of the next few months!  

You've perfected the pincer grasp and use it all the time. You even try to pick up your blocks and books with that little pointer finger/thumb combo! Sometimes you're just plain silly, Carter!

You're still pretty much a baldie and your two bottom middle teeth are almost fully grown in.

You love to sing, dance and play and I'm fairly certain you would be content if we did those three things all day. You are obsessed with Mickey's "Hot Dog" song. The minute you hear it come on, even if you're in a room other than the TV room, you immediately start bopping and swaying to the music with the biggest smile on your face!

Your favorite toys include your board books, Blue Puppy and knocking down blocks. You absolutely love, love, love to knock down the block towers that Mama and Daddy build for you. So, maybe architecture isn't your bag, but Demolition might be right up your alley!

With each day that passes, we're noticing that you look more and more like your Mama and your Poppy. You have the brightest, bluest eyes we've ever seen and we may be a little biased, but we think you're the most beautiful little boy in the whole wide world.

We love you so much Little Man. We've said it before and we'll say it again, but you're the greatest blessing we've ever known! Happy Eight Months!

Disclaimer: Without a doubt this has been the most difficult "monthly photo shoot" on the face of this planet. Next month? I'm busting out the duct tape. For reals.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Dinner of Condiments? Okay, Who Underestimated The Food Budget...

With the end of the month brings slim pickin's and a near empty fridge here, in the M Household. Budgeting is a fairly new concept in this place and although I'm getting better at it as time wears on, I still falter every now and again and manage to completely underestimate and therefore blow our grocery budget. I have to say this is the worst it's been. If I hadn't made a trip to the grocer today, I'm fairly certain our dinner would have consisted solely of condiments. No, really. I'm not kidding.

How is it that at the end of the month both Carter and Sheepie have enough food to sustain themselves, but the two responsible adults in the house are left to feast off of popcorn, a single chicken breast and sliced mushrooms?

Although I loathe Meal Planning, I've managed to nail down some sort of tactic that typically requires two to three trips to the grocer each month. Occasionally there's a fourth trip thrown in there to make up for all the stuff I forgot to grab during trips one, two and three. Hey, I never claimed to be perfect! 

This morning's trip to the grocer at 9 o' clock had me thinking. Carter and I managed to make it in and out of the store in under and hour and with two-hundred dollars worth of groceries.

A year ago? I could navigate the inside of King of Prussia Mall like it was my backyard. I could draw you a map clearly indicating the location of every single kiosk, my favorite stores and literally every single Smoothie Stand and Wetzel's Pretzel from Lord & Taylor to Nordstrom to JCrew and back. I could tell you where to park in relation to your desired shopping haunt and could steer you clear of high-traffic no-no's. I could even tell you what parking garages filled up during lunch time and where you should park during the holidays.

Now? I can navigate the inside of the grocery store like you wouldn't believe. I know when to go, what checkout lanes are the quickest and what hours to avoid going there at all costs. I even write out my shopping list aisle by aisle. 

As for the mall? You know, the mall that I've been going to since we moved down here a year ago? The one that I've probably been to less times than I can count on both hands and feet? Yeah, that one? I get lost every single time I go because I don't know my JCrew from my Nordstroms from my Ann Taylor Loft. A year ago? This would have been blasphemy.
So maybe I can't shop my way through life anymore, but I sure can steer a mean grocery cart...

Happy One-Day-Closer-To-Friday, Loyals!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

A 1950's Housewife Fail.

The following is an excerpt from  what was thought to be a 1950's American High School Home Economics Book. It comes from an essay entitled, "How To Be A Good Wife," and is intended as an instruction manual of sorts for high school girls as they prepare for married life. 
After much (albeit half-assed Googling) research, it looks as if the text originally circulated in the late 1800's but was mocked-up again and re-circulated as a flyer for Women's Equality in the mid-1970's. In any case, I find it wildly amusing and had to share. Who knew it only took the following 10 steps to achieve domestic bliss? You could have fooled me, that's for sure. 

Since I now pride myself on my newly chosen career as a Stay-At-Home-Mom, this post wouldn't be a true I Love You More Than Carrots original if I didn't include my two-cents.

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

Okay, I'll admit. Some days I feel like this is the least that I could do for The Husband since he's the one working outside of the home all day, busting his chops to bring home the bacon. However, have you tried doing anything with a baby? Yeah. Thought so. Near impossible. So, I would say this happens about 85% of the time. The other 15% of the time? A simple, "Babe, I'm thinking about you," ought to suffice. And on the rare occasion that it doesn't? Thank god for carry-out and God's gift to women, the Crock-Pot. 

2. Prepare yourself. Take fifteen minutes to rest so that you are refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.

Make-up? Ribbon? Husband, you're lucky if I get a shower in that day. As for interesting? Don't even start with me. I'm always interesting.

3. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house. Gather up books, toys and newspapers. Dust the tables so that they appear clean. Your husband will feel that he has reached his haven and rest and order. Doing this for him will give you a lift also.

A "lift" you say? I prefer to lift up the cushions of the couch and stuff Carter's toys in there where you can't see them. Then it just looks as if I've spent the previous 45 minutes "tidying up," when in reality, I was probably feeding Carter, corralling Sheepie and watching Real Housewives marathons on Bravo. C'mon. I know you do it, too.

4. Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash their faces and hands. Comb their hair and change their clothes if it is necessary to make them look presentable to him. They are "God's creatures" and your husband would like to see them playing their part.

Haha. Right. Just the other day I spilled an entire bowl of pureed carrots all over Sullivan, the floors, the oven, the fridge and the entire lower cabinetry of the kitchen. Do you know how long Sully walked around covered in carrots? Let's just say it was over an hour. I have a hard enough time keeping the dog clean, let alone my child.

(Edited to add: Sullivan is Sheepie's real name. Apparently there has been some confusion over this, as pointed out by "Krishna" and the nasty comment she decided to leave about stealing blog content and leaving the original writer's son's name in #4. Sullivan is in fact, not the name of the original writer's son, as I am the original writer and my son's name is Carter. My dog's name, however, is Sullivan and that is who I am referring to here.)
5. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all the noises of the washer, dryer, dishwasher and vacuum. You've had plenty of time to do these things during the day. Don't do them now. Encourage your children to be quiet.

Wait, how am I supposed to cook, clean AND feed you, Dear Husband without the help of my best friends: the Washer, Dryer and Dishwasher? A life without those besties would be no life at all. As a matter of fact, I think I've had nightmares about that sort of life. As for keeping Carter quiet, have you ever tried to silence The Screamies? I'll be the first to tell you it's impossible.

6. Be happy to see your husband. Greet him with a warm smile. Do not greet your husband with problems or complaints. Don't complain when he is late for dinner. Count this as minor when compared to what he had to go through all day.

Guilty as charged. Housewife fail. In my defense, at least I let him loosen his tie and drop his suitcase before I launch into my tirade of, "it's7:30whyareyouhomesolate?youhaveababyandawifeandican'teatdinnerat8pmeverynight!"

7. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest that he lie down a few minutes in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.

Wait, what about me? Where's my drink? Oh, wait. Does that glass of Chardonnay that I downed at 4:00pm count? Shucks.

8. Listen to him. You may have a dozen things to tell him but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him speak first. Make the evening his. He is special!

There isn't a notebook large enough to keep track of all the things I need to tell The Husband the minute he walks in the door. If I don't get it all out then, when am I supposed to tell him about the fence that needs fixing? Or the the fact that we've been living in our house for over a year and we STILL don't have a dining room table? Maybe I'll just save it for the minute we hop into bed.

9. Never complain that he does not take you out to dinner or to other pleasant entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to unwind and relax. Remember that you relaxed all day waiting for his return. Now it's his turn to enjoy what you enjoyed.

If by "relaxed" you mean, "ran the dryer seven times in an attempt to remove the wrinkles from the laundry that has sat in there for four days, threw a myriad of ingredients into the Crock Pot hoping to God it all comes together in the form of a delicious dinner, played Musical Baby Equipment with every single swing, chair, bouncer, book and walker this side of the Mississippi in order to captivate your 7 month old's ever-changing attention, walked the dog, emptied the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, hand washed 47 bottles and changed the crib sheets for 478th time?" Why then yes, I did relax all day and you're right. Husband, it's YOUR turn.

10. The goal: Try to make his home a place of peace and order, a place where your husband can relax in body and spirit.

Deal. Our home can be your haven, Husband. Now, how about you take Carter for the weekend while I jet off to Wine Country my haven?

Of note: By now you should know better than to take me seriously. I'm only mostly okay, half joking! Happy Monday, Loyals! Hope this starts your week off with a hardy chuckle!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sneak A Peak Into Our Saturday Morning

Sullivan the Sheepdog, patiently waiting for his breakfast. 
What does your Saturday Morning look like? 
Link up with Kate and Eme!

Saturday Morning Scene

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Why I Don't Deserve Nice Things.

You can thank The Husband for the brainpower behind today's post. You can thank my mother for the idea behind the title, "I Don't Deserve Nice Things," as it's something she has been saying to me for years. Without futher 'ado, here are 5 reasons why, "I Don't Deserve Nice Things:"

1. Tiffany's Paloma Picasso Loving Hearts Ring
This ring was a gift from my Aunt for my sixteenth birthday. I LOVE this ring. So much, in fact, that I have the matching necklace, bracelet and earrings. I never took this ring off. That is, until I left it behind in a nail salon in the King of Prussia mall. It was sometime during my college years and on the rare occasion that I actually had enough money to treat myself to a manicure. Who knew that manicure would end up costing me somewhere upwards of $250? I then spent the following six months saving up enough money to replace said ring. Do you know how many Happy Hours I had to miss in order to save up enough money? Too many.

2. RALPH by Ralph Lauren Dark Tortoise Polarized Sunnies
RALPH by Ralph Lauren RA5049 Dark Tortoise / Polar Brown (510/83) Sunglasses

It was November 2007, the second day of our honeymoon on the island of Kauai. The Husband and I decided to hike the beautiful trails of the Waimea Canyon. Upon reaching a small lagoon at the top of the canyon, yours truly accidentally left her sunnies behind after posing for a picture among some rocks. Believe it or not, I actually have that picture and can SEE my beautiful sunnies sitting atop the rocks.

3. Von Zipper Women's Debutante Sunnies

Von Zipper Women's Debutante Sunglasses,Leopard Tortoise Frame/Bronze Lens,one size

I purchased these sunglasses as a replacement pair for the ones lost in item number two. They were purchased in a tiny, overpriced surf shop on the island of Kauai. I loved these sunnies. Great fit, face-flattering. A little sentimental since they were purchased on our honeymoon, yadda yadda. Needless to say, I wore them everywhere. These sunnies were stolen two years later at a house party in Virginia. And I don't even like house parties.

4. 8mm Akoya Cultured Pearl Earrings

14k White Gold Akoya Cultured Pearl Stud Earrings (7.5-8mm)

A Christmas gift from The Husband in December 2007. These earrings were given to me as a replacement pair for the Tiffany pair that were stolen out of my dorm room in college. Do you sense a theme here? I left these pearl earrings on the nightstand of the hotel we stayed at in Turks and Caicos in July of 2009. I was an ugly-crying fool when I realized I had left them behind, the minute we arrived at the airport. Thankfully, The Husband replaced this pair of earrings four months later, the day we found out I was pregnant with C. If you knew me at all, you would know I can't be without my pearl earrings. Let's just say these earrings are practically crazy glued to my ears.

5. Rainbow Sandals

Rainbow Sandals Women Premium Leather Narrow Strap Double Layer, Sierra Brown, Small (5.5-6.5)

These sandals are actually the reason behind this post. I was casually explaining to The Husband earlier this week how I'm in desperate need of new flip-flops for the Spring/Summer season. I was saying how torn I was about how I should spend my "Spring/Summer SAHM Wardrobe Budget." As in, "Do I spend fifty dollars on 2 new pairs of Havianas? Or do I spend it on one replacement pair of Rainbows?" Why might I need to replace my Rainbows? Funny you should ask. I left this exact pair behind, beneath the bed, actually, of our hotel room in Oahu. I blame the fact that we decided to stay on TWO islands for our honeymoon which involved extra packing and unpacking and therefore, the loss of my beloved flip-flops.

I won't even mention the time I lost one of my mother's diamond stud earrings after borrowing them to wear to prom. I shouldn't be allowed to leave the house some days, let alone borrow things. So, please tell me I'm not alone?

Happy Friday, Loyals! Have a fabulous weekend! 

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

So, Who Were You? The Valedictorian? A Band Geek? Head Cheerleader? How About All Three?

It's no secret that I'm The Husband's wife and Carter's mom. If you've been reading for a while, you also know that prior to these life roles, I worked my absolute dream job as a Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant nurse. From what I care to share with the internet, I'm sure many of you are also aware of my sarcastic humor, dry wit and penchant for Chardonnay. Did I mention dry wit?
But, was I always this witty and sarcastic? Did I always want to be a nurse-turned-wife-turned-mother? What did I do before I discovered reality television and delivered a near 10lb baby?
I'm always intrigued by who did what during their high school years and with my 10-year high school reunion slowly creeping up later this year, I thought you might get a kick out of who I was during the years of 1997-2001.

I attended an all-girls Catholic high school. I wore a plaid skirt, knee socks and Doc Martin's. I got in trouble if my skirt was too short (which was always) and if my shirt was untucked (which was... always). If I had the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't waste a minute.

Looking back, I was quite the high school dichotomy. I belonged to the Junior Statesmen of America debate club and used my "free activity period" on Fridays to watch movies with the teacher that all the girls had a crush on. No, really. "Movie club" was a legit F-Day activity and it was awesome.

I was a witness on the Mock Trial team that went all the way to States two years in a row. I was a cheerleader for the all-boys school that proceeded to kick our plaid butts at aforementioned States. It was during my cheerleading days that I fell in love with my high school boyfriend who, you guessed it, played on the football team. We were that couple.

I pitched for the school's softball team for a year and quit promptly after the season ended, when the coach chose to play favorites and insisted on playing the girl who was taking pitching lessons from her sister over me. I guess you could say I was a sore loser. Me? A sore loser?

I was a member of Model UN, SADD and CARE. The only thing I remember about Model UN was the big conference at the end of the year where my school unleashed it's team of all-girl members in a hotel full of boys. Well, I'm sure there were other girls there, too. But all I remember were the boys. And there was a dance involved. CARE was a volunteer group (Christian Action Reaching Everyone). So, I did a little volunteering.

I rocked the world's smallest pair of spandex shorts and played volleyball, not only for my high school, but also for a traveling club team that took me all over the east coast. When I wasn't bumping, setting and spiking my way through the tri-state area, I was singing and dancing my little heart out both in show choir and my high school's Spring musicals. 

There was also that time I poured my little dramatic heart out in the Fall drama. Let's just say I much preferred the spotlight and the glitz and glam of show tunes to the low lighting and hum-drum of serious dramatics.     

Oh, did I mention the Biology team? Because I'm pretty sure I was a part of that, too. Although looking back, I'm not quite sure what purpose that club served. I'm fairly certain my best friends were also a part of the Biology team and we used to spend the club's meeting time ordering Dominos and hanging out.

So there you have it. I was that girl. The debate team, Mock Trial, a little drama, some united nations, a lot of showtunes, some spandex, a couple of pom-pom's, a baseball mitt and some AP Biology.

Oh... and I'm pretty sure I sat at the coolest lunch table in the cafeteria. At least myself and my friends thought so. Who were you in high school? Were you a dichotomy too?

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wee One Wednesday: Fun With A Foam "C!"

What started as an innocent photo-op in the family room...

quickly turned into an all-out photo sesh...

In the freshly carpeted basement. 
All because of one little foam letter...

some pretty awesome natural light...

... And one ridiculously good looking baby. 

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Are You A Yard Work Widow?

Always one to give credit where credit is due, the minute Lindsey announced on Twitter that she was going to be a "lawn widow" for the weekend, I immediately thought, "Oh my god! That's it! That's totally what it's like! I have to write about this." Especially considering the sole fact that just minutes before her announcement, The Husband had left on a mission to rent an aerator. Thus started a little wifely commiseration about life as a Yard Work Widow.

Ladies, if your husbands (boyfriends, fianc├ęs, significant others, etc.) are anything like ours, then you know exactly what we're talking about. It's no secret that men love their lawn. It's almost as if there is an unspoken contest in ever suburban neighborhood as to what guy can have their street's best lawn. Dare I say it, but it's almost as if the length of grass and greenness of each blade is a direct correlation to the size of their... lawnmower

What is it with men and their lawn? Literally, the minute the temperature rose above fifty degrees this weekend, I swear every single man on our block ventured outside to seed, mow, water, tend, clip or lop. And then, amidst all of their seeing, tending and mowing, they would all congregate in the middle of the street, beers in hand, nodding in agreement as they discussed what us women could only imagine

Hours. And hours. And hours. That's the amount of time The Husband spent working on our lawn this weekend. All the while? Carter, Sullivan and I played and walked and ate and played some more. It was as if The Husband was commandeered by some alternate universe. A universe in which no one else existed. Just him and his lawn. 

I have a fairly good idea that this is how life on the weekends will be, at least until it's time to head to the beach for the weekend. Good thing there's no grass there. Only sand. Because I don't think I could handle being a Yard Work Widow all summer long. 

Oh, did you ask if I wanted to slit-seed and aerate? Oh, no thank you, Honey. Pushing that gas-powered 300lb. machine all over the yard looks like a man's work anyway. Thanks for thinking of me though! 

So, are you a Yard Work Widow? How do you cope? Is there a support group for women like us? If not, I'm thinking of starting one. Mimosas all around.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Confession: I Use Body Soap To Wash My Face...

Now that the truth is out, I'll admit that I've always wanted to be one of those women who had this amazingly intense beauty and skincare routine. You know the kind I'm talking about. Washes only with spring water, followed by organic toner, eye cream, moisturizer and the like. But let's face it. I'm lazy and I wash my face with the same Dove bath bar that is all too easily accessible in our shower. I know, I know. It's as if the Beauty Gods are throwing down lightening bolts as we speak. Will I redeem myself if I let you know that I always remember to apply chapstick before bed? No? Okay then. Wow, tough crowd. 

Sure there were a few years where I'd mix it up with a little Clean & Clear face wash but that was mostly high school and college and the rare occasions when I would remember to pick some up from the drugstore. 

As I'm sure you know, Apothica is one of the sponsors of this tiny slice of the interwebs. I love working with them for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because I get stuff. Awesome beauty stuff that I normally wouldn't spend money on because this SAHM has zero dollars in the beauty budget. Sigh.

Long story short, I received an itty bitty sample of this facial cleanser in and amongst a recent order and ladies? I am hooked. Sure, it has more than five ingredients and two or three of them I can't even pronounce, but you know what matters? The fact that it leaves my face feeling as smooth and as soft as Carter's tushie. 

I cannot tell a lie. After using it last night, I literally ran downstairs to The Husband and made him feel my face. Even he couldn't stop touching it. He even told me to order the product immediately. Say what, Husband? Don't mind if I do

I should also mention that I have super sensitive skin. So sensitive, in fact, that even "Sensitive Skin" products such as Aveeno, Neutrogena and Cetaphil always burned a bit when applied to my face. This stuff? It's magic, I swear. 

Caudalie Gentle Cleanser. Love. Love. Love.

With my track record of falling in love with only the most expensive of things, I shuddered a bit when I sat down at the computer to look up how much a decent-sized bottle of this stuff would be. Sure, it's not La Mer, but I had visions of inoordinate amounts of money flashing across the screen. Although The Husband told me to buy it, he would be eating his words the minute I told him it was fifty or sixty dollars. Thank the Beauty Gods above when $27 popped up on screen. Whew. Get in my shopping cart NOW you amazing cleanser you!

Now? I'm one step closer to being that beauty maven of my dreams with an intense step-by-step nightly skincare routine. Facial cleanser today and who knows what tomorrow will bring! 

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Carter Is Like 8% Irish. Therefore? We Do Wee One Wednesday On A Thursday.

I refuse to mention any names, however, it was so kindly brought to my attention yesterday that I did not post my usual Wee One Wednesday. Who knew those posts were actually read enjoyed by so many? Makes my heart all tingly inside. Since your Readers are probably chock full of St. Patty's Day green, I figured, "Heck! Let's be different and break up the monotony of leprechauns and beer." So folks, if you're looking for leprechauns or beer, I'm sorry to disappoint. All I gots here is one heckuva cute kid. 

Happy Thursday!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Secret to Baby (Food) Makin' ...

I get a lot of emails from my readers. Did I mention you guys rock? Because you do. And I try really, really hard to reply to them all in a timely fashion. Most of those emails I receive are about formula feeding, some of them are about the camera I use and others about Carter's BabyLegs. But the OTHER majority of the emails I recieve? Well, they're about how I make Carter's baby food. For the record, I love every single one of those emails, so PLEASE keep them coming! This post has truly taken forever to put together and it's WAY overdue. So, without further ado- Here's how I make Carter's "num-num's!"

First, choose a recipe source of your liking. I've always started off with I randomly stumbled across this website when I first knew I was interested in making Carter's baby food. Shortly thereafter, one of my favorite blogging Mama's also recommended it to me. This is great resource for making your own baby food for a myriad of reasons. The first being that it's free. The second being that it's both ridiculously quick and easy to access. It's also chock full of awesome information surrounding the perfect fruits and veggies for your babe based on his or her age. I've been using this website as a guide ever since I first introduced Carter to solids around 4-5 months old. Lot's of other Mamas I know swear by a few good "cooking for your baby" type cookbooks so if that's more your thing, that'll work just as good! Just know that there are other options out there, some of which don't require money! (Click to view).

Blender Baby Food: Over 125 Recipes for Healthy Homemade MealsThe Basic Baby Food Cookbook: A complete beginner guide to making baby food at homeThe Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet: Know What Goes Into Every Bite with More Than 200 of the Most Deliciously Nutritious Homemade Baby Food ... More Than 60 Purees Your Baby Will Love

Next, gather your cooking supplies. I steam the majority of Carter's fruits and veggies using my Oster Steamer. We were given this kitchen tool as a wedding gift and without it, I'd be boiling the fruits in a saucepan full of water, straining them and then tossing them into the blender. Once again, know your options. You don't necessarily need one of those fancy shmancy high-end baby food makers (ahem, Beaba Babycook), however if you choose to spend your money on one, go for it.  I've heard it makes the clean-up process a whiz which truth be told, would be quite nice some times. You'll see why in a bit. However, since I already have a food steamer, magic bullet, blender and food processor, I chose to work with what I've already got. My husband would be so proud.

Oster 5711 Mechanical Food SteamerMagic Bullet MBR-1701 17-Piece Express Mixing SetCuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless

When it comes to making certain fruits and veggies such as pureed yams, butternut squash and apples, for instance, I prefer to bake them in the oven before pureeing. Reasons being that they hold onto more of their nutrients that way. So in that case, all you'll need then is a baking dish and an oven.

Pyrex Bakeware 4.8 Quart Oblong Baking Dish, Clear

Once steamed, blended and baked, you're going to need a way to freeze and store your delicious food cubes. Once again, you have options. The cheaper option works just fine here in the M household. I freeze the food cubes in standard cheap-o ice cube trays and then store the cubes in the freezer in ziplock freezer bags. Of course, you could always store the food cubes in those adorable, cutesy little food trays. However, let it be known that I've heard they aren't always the best option. Often times the lids don't always fit tight and nobody likes freezer burned fruits and veggies.

Rubbermaid White Ice Cube Tray (Pack of 6)Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red MeasurementsZiploc Double Zipper Heavy Duty Quart Freezer Bags (216 Bags)Baby Cubes 2 Oz. Baby Food Storage Contains no Phthalates, Bisphenol-A, PVC (2 Pack)

Once you've managed to procure your supplies, you're going to want to grab your shopping list and go to town at the local grocer. Needless to say I cannot wait for the Farmers Markets to return to our local area so I can stock up on bulk, delicious and local fruits and veggies. If you're just starting out, you'll want to be familiar with good introductory fruits and veggies. Basically this means you'll want to take note of the foods that will be easiest for your little one to digest based on his or her age. Great starter fruits include avocado, apples, bananas and pears.

Once you've graduated to fancier fruits and veggies, you can start to get creative like Carter and me, and mix up delectable fruit and veggie combinations right in your own kitchen. As of right now, Carter is pretty set on his dinners, however we seem to blow through our breakfast and "second meal" fruits and veggies like there's no tomorrow.

Some of his favorite fruit combinations are:

Apples and Oatmeal
Apples, Prunes, Plums and Oatmeal

Today, we'll be preparing a few of Carter's favorites. The disclaimer here is: Be sure to consult with your pediatrician before starting solids and/or before introducing certain foods based on your babe's history. Thankfully, Carter has shown no reaction to any of the fruits and veggies we've tried. On Carter's menu for today? Nectarines, Apples, Plums and Mango. He's also in desperate need of some more Bananas, however I need to allow for a little brown-age to occur before I can toss them into the mix.

For those of you daring to mix it up a bit, we'll be preparing Mango/Avocado, Nectarines and Apple/Prunes/Plums. Carter has been introduced to each of these fruits singally and therefore, I can mix them without worrying about food reactions.   

Step 1: Wash fruit thoroughly and peel. As baby gets older, skin can be left on certain fruits and will serve as an additional source of fiber. Until then, no skin for sensitive tummies.

Step 2: Slice and toss into steamer.

Step 3: Allow fruit to steam for desired amount of time (typically 10-15 minutes based on ripeness). Carter and I chose to play and read books during this time.

Step 4: Spoon slices into food processor. Add filtered water or fruit juice to acheive desired consistency. Make sure to check your recipe before using the water or juice that the fruit was cooked in. I only say this because you should never puree carrots using the juice or water they were steamed in due to too high levels of nitrates. Here, I threw in some frozen halves of avocado that I had cut up a couple of weeks ago.

Step 5: Pour puree from processor into measuing cup. I found out the hard way that it's sometimes difficult to pour directly from the processor into the ice cube trays. And when I say difficult, I mean really, really messy. 

Step 6: Freeze ice cube trays for 2-3 hours. 

Step 7: Crack trays, transfer cubes to LABELED zippies and store in freezer! 

Step 8: Clean up your giant mess. Or, if you're like me, claim insanity and leave it for The Husband.

Wha-la! There you have it. Sure, it's tedious and now that Carter is eating three meals per day, I find myself following these steps all too frequently. However, it's worth it to me to know exactly what Carter is eating! Not to mention that it's pretty darn cost effective. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at iloveyoumorethancarrots (at) gmail (dot) com!  

And just for good measure, here are the photos of the most delicious Nectarines and Apples/Prunes/Plums and Oatmeal that I've ever tasted in my whole life.

Happy Wednesday, Loyals!
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