To feed or not to feed, that is the question

Every new parent is often met with a multitude of questions and for many, a similar amount of answers or advisements from well-meaning individuals. But how do you determine what information is correct? In this selection, I’d like to look at starting solids with your little one.

As every parent knows, breastfeeding is the best option when it comes to nourishment for your little one however, not every mom is able to breastfeed for any number of reasons. Not being able to do so and turning to formula is not shameful and should not be a reason for judgment. Unfortunately, this is just one of a dozen reasons mommy-hate transpires and honestly, it needs to stop! Anyway, while “breast is best,” formula is the next best thing and any mom formula feeding should not feel ashamed if this is the route she has chosen or that has been chosen for her. All babies, regardless of how their nourishment is provided, should continue this path for the entirety of their first year of life. Typically, when your little one is around 6 months of age, solids will start to be introduced but in all actuality, “food before 1 is just for fun.” The second six months of a child’s life is a great time to learn about textures and taste but at the end of the day (cliche I know!), the best nutrition still comes from the breast or the formula offered.

The latest trend in baby feeding is this theory of “open-gut”. According to  Kelly mom , which is then backed up by various sources such as, World Health Organization and  American academy of pediatrics, open-gut is what your baby’s intestines basically represents. This is great for the passage of breast milk and formula, not so great for food matter that comes from baby food. Supporters of the open-gut theory basically blast anyone who attempts to feed their child solids as early as 3 months of age and while I am not a part of the mommy-shaming trend, I do agree that any attempt at giving a newborn food other than what has already been discussed is a no-no. It is important to point out though that this phenomenon of “open gut” is not new. We did all of a sudden develop this in our children. If this existed before, it simply wasn’t talked about. While I do believe it exists, I also believe that doctor and nutritionist approved foods would not be in that “approved” category if they felt infant cereals would cause a great problem. While the notion of “my great-grandparents did it and their kids turned out fine”

There are a lot of concerns regarding food allergies and I do agree that we as parents need to do more to combat this. Whether or not these stem from early feedings or not has yet to be proven. What I can tell you is that both my daughter and step-daughter began eating infant cereal at the age of 4 months and neither have developed any type of food allergy (18 and 5 now). The same can be said for myself and my brothers. What two of us did develop in terms of allergy took place in adulthood and has since dissipated. Many things in our environment may play a role in the allergies that are affecting people today. Pointing directly to infant feeding is part of the fear-mongering that is going on in the various mommy communities online. While introducing cereal prior to four months of age may be the culprit, there are also children who did not have solids until one year and still developed allergies.

At my son’s 4-month appointment, his pediatrician advised we start him on cereal. I brought up the open-gut theory and the concern with early-feeding. As my son’s doctor explained, as well as the other pediatricians in the practice, the concern with open-gut has taken on a life of its own due to inexperienced and uneducated parents offering food at very early moments in a child’s life. The general suggestion has been to start the offer when the child has either doubled his/her birth weight or reached 13 pounds, is able to hold their head and neck up and steadily and consistently do so, and shows an interest in food. Well of course, any infant who is given attention is going to show somewhat of an interest in what their parents or care-giver is doing. I know my son has watched us intently as we eat, smacking his lips as we do so! Does that mean he is ready for solids? I doubt it but at the same time, there are baby-approved foods for those over 4 months of age.

As your child continues to grow, so does their appetite and their readiness for what we call solids. Typically, we start those in the 4-6 month range with cereal but there is concern, especially with rice cereal when it comes to babies. Rice cereal has no known nutritional value but this does not have to be the go-to food for your baby. As my son is now four and a half months old, we have taken to offering him one half of a tablespoon of oatmeal cereal.  According toDr. Callahan, the issue seems to be over fortified iron in cereals versus those that are home made. We make ours from natural oats, ground down in the blended and then cooked on the stove top. Formula is then mixed in to make a smooth, thin consistency that my son can handle, and is also of an acceptable range of iron and nutrients.

Why are we making his food? I have taken to making my son’s baby food in order to avoid the over-processed food that is sold in stores. Unfortunately, as our children grow, they are exposed to more and more processed “junk,” marketed as healthy food. If the product is not all-natural and made from scratch, processing takes place to attempt to keep it fresh. This is how your boxed and canned goods have shelf lives for many months. In exchange, foods that are all natural and made from fresh ingredients have a much shorter “life” period. For instance, the sweet potatoes that I have prepared for my son can be frozen for a maximum of three months. I have spent the last week preparing food for my son so that when he reaches 6 months of age, we can start introducing new foods to him. As it stands now, he has 57 days worth of sweet potatoes prepared. Add to that the green beans, winter squash, carrots, mango, and banana and he is pretty well set up and all will be consumed prior to the three month expiration. As we near two months in freezing of these food items, I will take to making more as well as starting to make up for him what your brands list as “stage 2” foods.

Making your own baby food is rather easy and a number of recipes are readily available online. The best piece of advice I can offer is to not fall into the trap of needing to purchase some special equipment in order to successfully make your little one food. I am using the very same blender that my mom used to make my baby food (and I’m 40 years old!). For foods that need to be steamed, I simply use a double pan on the stove top and steam until tender, then toss everything into the blender, set on puree and add water until that smooth and thin consistency is achieved. Freezing is accomplished by measuring a tablespoon into each compartment of a clean ice cube tray and then freezing. Once frozen, I place each individual cube into a snack size zippered bag, label it with what it is and when it was made, and then place all these individual bags into a large gallon sized bag. That bag is then placed back into the large freezer until we will need it in another month and a half. In preparation for those feedings, we also picked up the little square tupperware style containers. Once removed from the freezer, the cube gets placed into the square container and then into the refrigerator to thaw. New foods should be introduced every four days once solids have been started in order to make sure that there are no stomach issues with the new food.

Despite the warnings from the sites noted above, we have done our research and have spoken with numerous doctors, nurses, and pediatric specialists about starting our little one on solids. For now, we are only feeding the homemade oatmeal cereal. Our little guy seems to like it and has not shown any problems having this introduced into his diet. They do suggest that when starting cereal, you do so with a 1/4 tablespoon the first week, 1/2 tablespoon the second week, and then move up to a tablespoon. Do not be discouraged if your youngster does not eat that full amount when starting out…this is new to them. They now need to figure out how to use their mouth in a way that is quite different from the breastmilk / formula they have become accustomed to over the last several months. Sine introducing both a new food and a spoon can be very strange to a little one, you can use your finger (clean hands only!) to allow your baby to get the taste and feel of the food first before using a spoon.

No matter what you decide…no solids until 6 months, no solids until a year, or sometime between 4 and 6 months, do not be ashamed of your choice. As a parent, you know what is best for your child. Don’t be afraid to do your own research and make your own decision! Happy eating!

I miss that…but…

I miss those evenings of drinks and pub food with friends

I miss solid, uninterrupted sleep…you know, that sleep where you sleep through the night

I miss feeling like I look okay, feeling good about myself

I miss eating regular meals

 

BUT…

what I’ve exchanged in place of drinks and pub food, solid uninterrupted sleep, feeling good about myself and eating regular meals can never be given up…I’m a mom.

 

You know…that person who

-takes care of little beings that are completely helpless,

-who love you unconditionally,

-who look to you for help and guidance,

-who call just to say “hi,”

 

Those little people grow up and move away but still need mom…and for that…

I am ok with never getting to eat a regular meal…you know, one that is piping hot, right out of the oven. Where once you sit down to eat it, you don’t get up until you are finished.

I’m ok with not feeling good about how I look and accepting that I will never be in a single-digit size again.

I’m ok with not having a solid, uninterrupted night’s sleep.

I’m ok with not being able to drop everything in order to get together with friends for drinks and yummy pub food.

Being “mom” is who I am and I love every minute of it.

 

You’re asking for what?

It always amazes me the types of questions people ask to the general public. I understand that when you are not sure of something, asking for input from others is the best way to find out information however, what I do not understand is asking for information that you can easily find out on your own! Why do people not take chances? Have we really become that lazy of a society that in place of doing something on our own, we prefer to ask complete strangers what we should do?

I belong to a number of Disney related pages on Facebook. These are great resources for garnering information for upcoming trips as well as a place to talk about all things Disney with people who understand my obsession. What kills me though is seeing someone post, “We are in MK, what is the best qs to eat at?” (MK= Magic Kingdom, qs = quick service). Why not just go to the nearest qs that you haven’t eaten at before? Or why not look at your options before going? I know, I know…sounds petty but it makes me crazy!

I see this happening everywhere but mostly on Facebook as more and more people think it is socially acceptable to share every moment of their lives with their hundreds of friends and followers: Where should we go for dinner?; What movie should we watch?; It’s supposed to storm, will we have school? (no one can answer that question but the superintendent!); Going to a dance/party/club, what should I wear? (hopefully you chose clothes and preferably something that covered your privates!). It’s slightly maddening! What has happened to making decisions on one’s own? Looking back to the pre-Internet era, I’m sure this might have happened in another realm (maybe while talking on the telephone that was connected to the kitchen wall) but not in the manner that it does today.

So, what’s my point? Help yourselves out! Answer your own questions, make your own decisions based upon what is morally right and will make you happy, and seek out only goodness in life. Then, share your happiness with all your friends and followers and not your indecisiveness (especially since this is not a very like-able quality). Maybe if we all start doing this, we’ll start seeing less of the mundane posts and I will not have to read what type of toilet paper is best for dry hineys!

3 years?

It’s hard to believe that in 28.5 hours, my husband and I will be celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary. No – it’s not hard to believe because we haven’t killed each other (yet!) but because it seems like it has been so many more years than just a measly three!

Chris and I met in the summer of 2010 while putting together patio furniture for a friend. Looking back, I knew then that I was going to marry that “really cute guy” and he’s admitted that it was on that day that there was a great deal of lust going on for him. Lust? Really? Ha! Ha! We met up a few more times at our friend’s home and finally at Halloween, while carving our awesome Philadelphia Phillies pumpkins, did we really start to talk to one another.

Flash forward a few months and our talking turned to hanging out, with Chris asking me to accompany him to Home Depot to pick out paint. We ventured from there to Burger King to grab some dinner…whereby he made me pay for my own (yea…I still married him). We still joke about “the lounge” being our first “date” and how silly that whole night was. We began having our own drink nights randomly, with this poor boy driving down to the valley to see me from the Poconos two to three times a week. Next thing you know, he’s accompanying me to Kayla’s dance competitions and finally kisses me after months of acting as if he is going to and not doing so!

We had a whirlwind romance, planned a wedding in three months that was absolutely beautiful, and carried on with life with our two girls. We have a rich blended family that is chaotic at times and peaceful at others. With all of the wrenches that have been thrown at us, I sometimes wonder if we had not come together, would we have made it through the bad times that have hit us these last three years. I’m pretty sure we would not have but with one another, we have made it through and all those wrenches have made us stronger.

So…what I love most about my hubby:

– he gets me…all of me. he knows my ups and downs, my moods, what to do to bring me out of a funk, how to put me into a funk, when to push and when to not do so…

– his laughter…I have some bizarre way of making him howl with laughter. I don’t find myself that funny but to him, I am.

– the toilet seat…Yes, he has the most annoying habit of leaving a toilet seat in the up position, even though he lives in a house full of women but you know what? One day he won’t be there to leave the seat up and I’ll miss being able to slam it down and yell, “toilet seat!”

– his snoring…Another one of those things where one day, I won’t be woken by that God-awful noise because he will no longer be on this earth with me…while I wear ear plugs to bed (and they do not block out everything!), I relish that noise as I know he’s still with me.

– his ability to make some bangin’-ass chicken sandwiches, remembering my favorite wine and hard liquor choices, knowing that I don’t need diamonds and other jewelry to know that he loves me.

– his willingness to sit through umpteen-hundred showings of “Frozen.”

– his willingness to accept the Disney freak inside me

– for loving me.

* Here’s to many more years of wedded bliss. I love you Christopher.

Loss

Loss…what a small, ugly, 4-letter word.

Loss…one syllable.

Loss…a simple word with such large implications.

Over the last three years, I’ve experienced loss in a number of ways. In the summer of 2011, my husband and I suffered the loss of an unborn child. On Thanksgiving day in 2012, I suffered the inexplicable loss of my father. In the summer (again!) of 2013, my husband and I suffered the loss of another unborn child. Three days before Thanksgiving 2013, we suffered the loss of Pop (my husband’s father). On Christmas day 2013, we suffered the loss of my Gram. Do you see the common theme? Loss…it’s something you suffer, experience, abhor, despise…and gain from. While this could be a sad, sappy post about loss, I want to share with you what I have gained in hopes that someone else who is suffering can be helped. I don’t want sympathy or shared tears but your hope for continued growth. Forgive the randomness…

I’ve never been one who is good with change. Quite frankly, I don’t think many of us accept change very well but at the very least, we deal with it and continue on. We have our ideals about life and what will be involved as we continue to grow. As most people do, I failed to realize that as I grow older, so do those whom I love, and with age comes the demise of one’s life as we know it. I foolishly believed I would have my dad around forever…who wouldn’t, right?! He’s a daughter’s first love, best friend, confidant, the man she can trust and by whom she will measure every other man she comes into contact with. I never for one minute thought that I would lose my dad so early in life but that loss has forever changed me and how I look at life, death, and loss.

On October 15, 2012, I received a frantic call at work from my mother. She had been trying to reach me for well over an hour but like a good teacher, I had my cell phone on silent and locked away (it now remains on and close to me). She eventually located the number for my school and called the office where my bff Melissa answered the call and knew immediately that it was a serious situation. She had me pulled from class to take the call in the front office while Karen placed a chair under me as I heard the most frightening news of my life and fought to maintain some semblance of composure and professionalism. Dad had a heart attack, had been life-flighted to a bigger city and was currently in the cath-lab. All of this transpired in Oklahoma (he was visiting his brother) which resulted in a split second decision that we HAD to get to Dad in Oklahoma. Of course, airlines do not always like to cooperate and we did not arrive until the next morning (middle of the night…I can’t look at 2:35am as morning!) but arrive we did. Let me tell you about fear – it’s very real. While I fear spiders and clowns, the greatest fear is seeing someone you love so dearly hooked up to machines, struggling to live and knowing there is not a darn thing you can do to fix the situation. Within ten minutes of arriving, I was in the ICU with my dad. There was nothing I could do. He had no idea we were there but we all had rallied and gathered 21 hours away to be by his side. Sleep was the furthest thing from my mind but we retired an hour later to a relatively close hotel. I would spend the next several nights sleeping in the hospital, just a few feet from the ICU. The second night, I slept – or attempted sleep- in a recliner next to my dad. When he woke in the morning, he tried to communicate with me…not a possible task with a breathing tube in place but dad was so capable of writing while in such a state so communicate we did. A few hours later, the breathing tube was out. That night, Dad gave us all his “final instructions”. I couldn’t accept it then what he was trying to do, even though I knew what he knew.

You see…Dad spent 40 days and nights (interesting, isn’t it? 40!) hooked up to monitors in three different hospitals in Oklahoma. The first being Tulsa, transferred to Lawton by helicopter, and eventually Oklahoma City. My arrival on day two turned into a 39 day stay as I could not fathom leaving his side (for many weeks, mom and I never ventured away from the hospital out of fear). All that time, I attempted to remain strong, upbeat, and positive but I knew on October 15 that my daddy was not going to come home with me. I think that knowledge hit me on the plane when my iPod randomly played “Angels Among Us” and “You Can Let Go Now Daddy.” In fact, every time I turned on that stupid iPod, hit shuffle and play, one of those two stupid songs came on immediately. Perhaps it was some signal as to what was to transpire but at the time, I would not allow myself to believe it. But looking back, I knew.

I knew my dad needed me there. I knew that my family would be okay without me in Pennsylvania (they had to return – school, work, responsibilities…I was fortunate enough to be able to be away and still maintain my employment but that doesn’t work for everyone). I knew that Mom needed me. I had to be the strength that they both needed. On good days, I had a good day. On those days where the news from the medical team was grim, I was bitchy. I couldn’t accept then what was happening and what this would all mean. I stood by while procedures were completed, waited with baited breath as open heart surgery took place on his birthday (10/31), fed him when he was allowed normal food, played catch with him with a squeeze ball (one is on my nightstand – strangely, I gather strength just by holding it at times), and assisted with physical therapy when allowed. I learned more about the medical field than I ever wished to learn and knew what signs to look for. Skip forward to the end of November and my world came crashing down. On Thanksgiving day, Daddy went home to be with the Lord (apparently my prayers that daddy would not be in pain, would come home with us, etc. were not specific enough).

I did what I had to do in the coming days and weeks but shut down emotionally and mentally. I could not go back to work and thankfully, there are wonderful people in my district who knew, understood, and made it possible for me to continue on a leave until school resumed after Christmas. Even then, I wasn’t “me” but slowly regained who I am to only be hit with further loss.

With each additional loss though, I became stronger. I have grown to appreciate what life is and how little of this thing called life is that we possess. I have grown to appreciate death…even to the point of planning the events to take place after my own passing so that my children will not have to do so. I have even grown to appreciate loss because with loss, we are able to fully appreciate the love that was there in the first place and that love cannot be lost simply because the person is no longer there. I hear my father’s voice in my dreams and occasionally as I am driving too fast down the highway. I smell him when the wind is blowing through the trees. I feel his presence when gripped with fear and anxiety (thank goodness because I have a dentist appointment coming up in the month and I’ll need that presence then!). I see him in my dreams (it took a year for that to happen). I will never get over losing him…you never get over the loss of someone you love…but you do get stronger. You have to allow yourself to become stronger because you are still alive and to those who love you, you are still here for them to hold onto. I hold on to the memories and love that was shared between a father and his only daughter. I hold on to the lessons he taught me and pass them on to my children. I hold on to his heart as a piece of it is within my own (along with half his DNA) because he loved me. Dad said that marrying my husband was a good thing for me as I became mellow. Loosing dad was not a good thing in any way but it has made me more capable of handling all that life throws at me, including change.

Remember…those that have gone before us are not a loss if we continue to hold on to their love and memories.