Friday, September 11, 2009

Apparently my blog got picked up by a blog listing! I guess I need to start posting again.....

Friday, July 31, 2009

Mommy Confession #4

I occasionally introduce myself as "Mommy" in social settings.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pregnant Privileges Revoked

Pregnancy has very few advantages for the mom. Even if she has an easy pregnancy (which I was not blessed with), a pregnant woman gets the honor of spending nearly a year as the host to an increasingly aggressive parasite, a parasite that causes the host to grow extremely large and uncomfortable, destroys its body, and requires it to undergo frequent and increasingly invasive medical procedures. And the list of joys that are forbidden (alcohol, soft cheeses, and sushi to say the least) makes for a miserable nine months.

Yet women often look back to their pregnancy with a certain amount of nostalgia. Why?

The Pregnancy Privileges.

I was in my 6th month before it was obvious to outsiders that I was pregnant. Immediately I noticed a change in the way I was treated. People let me cut in front of them in line and held doors for me. People gave up their seats in waiting areas. I was seated faster and given better tables in restaurants; one server even gave me a free dessert as my husband enjoyed his after dinner drink! Many stores even provide priority parking for pregnant women and parents of infants, and I quickly became accustomed to having parking rights that rivaled those of the handicapped. It wasn't long before I was strolling into Starbucks with my belly pushed out, expecting strangers to let me pass to get my decaf latte.

Why do pregnant women get this special treatment? I'd like to think that it's a sign of respect for the work that mothers are doing. In reality, it probably boils down to one of two things: pity or fear. Pity because another mother or father sees the preggo and remembers how tough pregnancy can be. Fear because a pregnant woman is a delicate creature, and the slightest shaking can cause her to shatter and explode, destroying everything within a 500 foot radius of her epicenter. And pregnant women come to expect the special treatment, even in situations that are not affected by her pregnancy (I frequently got angry that people wouldn't let me in in traffic -- Don't they know that I'm pregnant?!?!?!)

It's not long after giving birth that the privileges are rapidly revoked. I remember going to the pediatrician the day after being released from the hospital after having a c-section. I was shocked that no one in the packed waiting room jumped up to give me their seat. I needed to ask the nurses if I could sit down when I started seeing stars, and even then it took a moment for them to realize why I needed the assistance. Was I already back among the common non-pregnant folk, a mere five days post-partum? Alas, I was.

And of course, when you have a baby is when you actually need those privileges. It's when you've been up three times the night before a big presentation at work that you need to be let to the front of the line at Starbucks. It's when you run out of diapers at 3 a.m. in a blizzard that you really need to park as close as possible to Wal-Mart.

Today I went to the grocery store. Several stores in the area have parking spots for families with infants -- the mommy spots -- which I always take full advantage of. When I pulled in, both spots were taken. When I walked past (having had to park halfway down the lot), I checked out the offending cars. One was a minivan -- probably a legitimate occupant. The other car was a little hatchback occupied by a teenager smoking a cigarette and talking on her cell phone.

My first reaction was to be angry at her obvious disregard for the needs of new parents. My second reaction was a knowing smile. Because in ten years, she'll have to park halfway down the lot and hike back to the store in 95 degree heat carrying her grocery bags and a squirming, screaming baby. Why? Because some teenager will have parked in the mommy spot. Karma's a bitch that way.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On a Roll

I just thought this was great -- enjoy!

Skating babies!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Still Standing!

So apparently he's standing now! I have to be ready for an entirely new level of baby-proofing, which is bad because my previous method of baby-proofing consisted of picking up sharp objects and hoping for the best. This could get interesting....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Best and Worst Baby Foods

If you're going to make your own baby food (see previous post!), you have to know what you're getting into in advance. It can be a trial-and-error process, and unfortunately the "error" end of it can involve splattered, staining vegetables all over your kitchen floor (and sometimes on your baby or wayward pet). Here is a brief synopsis of my personal best and worst baby foods to make at home:

Bananas -
No steaming or pureeing required! Just mash and serve.

Avocados - Slightly messier (Caution! Slippery!), but also just require a squashing before serving.

Peas - I personally go with the frozen kind, or pre-shelled peas. Steam 'em, chuck 'em in the processor, freeze. Done. Couldn't be simpler.

Sweet Potatoes - Throw a few in the oven, bake, then puree. Plus, a few potatoes make a ton of food.

Apples/Pears - You do have to take the time to peal them, but you just have to steam and puree. Plus they're really tasty if you happen to sample them.

Blueberries - Ugh! There are still stains on our counters from the stupid exploding little bombs. They form a sticky goop when defrosted, and to top it off, the first post-blueberry diaper is, well... I'll put it this way, don't dress your baby in white after feeding him blueberries.

Chicken - I wanted to introduce meat, so I went with chicken. Let me tell you, pureed chicken bears a strong resemblance to cat food, except even my cat didn't seem too keen on it. It's enough to consider vegetarianism for the kid.

Peaches - Until we learned the trick (drop in cold water after you steam them! Duh!), Ted and I had involved wrestling matches with scorching hot peaches, grill tools, and a melon baller, and the entire kitchen was covered in sticky pink goo that I'm still finding.

Bacon - Okay Ted, are you happy? I included bacon. No, I have not made the baby bacon. Jeez.....

Monday, July 6, 2009

He's No Gerber Baby!

Feeding your baby is significantly more challenging than anyone lead me to believe, but at least for the first four months, you're sticking to a liquid diet -- breast milk or formula. But at about six months, we moved into solid foods in the form of the ultra-appetizing pureed vegetables. Yum!

After feeding the baby canned food for a few weeks, I started making my own food, and I have stuck with this since. Here are the pros and cons for those who are thinking about making their own:

Cost - There is no question that making your own food is significantly cheaper than buying pre-packaged food. A 99 cent bag of frozen peas makes 14 servings of baby food. That works out to about 7 cents per serving, as opposed to 50 cents for canned food.

Taste - There is no avoiding eating some baby food as a parent; you will have to check the temperature and convince a picky eater that yes, this green chunky stuff on the spoon is just as tasty as a Cheerio! I don't know what they do to pureed vegetables, but they're gross. If you make your own, it just tastes likes peas, carrots, or (my personal favorite) sweet potatoes.

Variety -
We like variety in our diet, and so do our babies. How would you feel if you had to eat "Summer Vegetable Medley" three meals a day? When you make your own, you can select anything in the produce section, and from there, you can create an infinite number of combinations of foods.

Health Benefits -
Fresh vegetables and fruits are more nutrient-rich than frozen, canned, or overly-processed foods; therefore homemade food is going to be better for you than canned food. Similarly, while rare, food bacteria outbreaks do happen in commercial processing facilities. You can avoid this by making it yourself. I just end up with dog fur frozen in the food.

Environmentally Friendly -
I was shocked by how our recycling bins filled up with baby food jars. Homemade food has less on an environmental impact.


Preparation -
Prepping, steaming, pureeing, and freezing the food is time-consuming and very messy. I typically spend an entire morning or afternoon making the food. The key is having a good food processor; mine is the deluxe mega Cuisinart that could puree a tractor tire, so it makes the process much easier.

Convenience - Canned food is ready whenever you are. Open, serve, throw away. With frozen food, you have to heat it, mix it, check the temperature, serve, then wash the dishes. And if you're like me and wait until five minutes after meal time to start prepping the meal, you may have a hysterical baby on your hands before the meal is actually ready.

Storage - It's too difficult to make single servings of most foods, so it gets frozen. The size of your freezer impacts the amount of food you can store, and therefore how much you can make in a single cooking session and how long that food will last. The more freezer space, the more you can cook in one batch, and the longer you can go between cooking.

Baby's Preference - You want to introduce spinach to the baby? Buy a 79 cent jar. If he hates it, you're out 79 cents. If you make your own, you're out the cost of the food, plus all the time and labor involved. My solution: buy a jar and introduce it that way, and if he's a fan, make a larger batch of my own.

Variety -
Yes, this is also a pro. But in order to get this variety, you have to find it and make it. During the summer this is easy, but during the winter, produce is more expensive and difficult to find new things. I don't think the baby would be too into kale or artichokes.

Each person needs to weigh these pros and cons for him or herself and decide if making their own food will work for his or her family. I use a bit of a compromise. About 75% of what my son eats I make myself, but I'm not going to make my own rice cereal or teething biscuits.

Now, what to make myself for dinner? I'm thinking sweet potatoes and Cheerios....