Snack Time : Banana Oatmeal Bites

Hi Mamas!

I’ve recently been trying to come up with more breakfast foods for Liam other than fruit and Puffs. Don’t judge me, he is absolutely obsessed with them.

He usually eats about half of my breakfast as well – whether it’s a buttered bagel or eggs and toast, the kid will house it. Some days, I resort to stuffing my face in the kitchen while he’s not looking (just to avoid the constant whining and begging!).

That, or waiting until his first nap to indulge.

Liam loves everything right now and is a major foodie, which is a blessing, so I thought it was time to experiment with some baked goodies for my boy.

Here is my super simple recipe I put together for banana oatmeal bites, perfect for breakfast, snack time, or even for lunch on the go. Simple ingredients and quick and easy prep! Mama (and Dada!) approved as well🙂

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The Truth About Baby Bedding

I am a true believer that simple is always best, especially in the home.

I like minimalist designs and clutter-free homes because that’s just the way I feel at peace with my surroundings. If there’s too much “stuff”, I get antsy and claustrophobic.

When it comes to your baby’s nursery, the same rule should apply. Resist the urge to buy too much, and keep it simple & practical.

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#1

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Especially when your baby is very little, he or she has limited abilities in terms of body movement. You don’t want there to be the slightest chance your baby could get his arm or leg stuck, or worse, somehow end up with his/her face covered and unable to breathe. Until at least a year old (I still don’t feel comfortable with these and Liam is almost 14 months old!), avoid anything other than a fitted sheet. No extra padding, covers, nothing. If you’re concerned about your baby being cold during the winter months, buy a sleep sack like this one, which should work just fine to keep him nice and warm.

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Bumper-related crib deaths tripled from 2006 to 2012. They pose a safety risk because a baby’s face can get wedged against the bumper or between the bumper and mattress. Most of the bumpers sold in baby bedding sets are thick and not breathable, which is a health concern. If you want to prevent your baby from getting his legs through the crib slats, buy these breathable mesh crib liners – they did the trick with Liam.

#3

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Although it may be tempting to leave a full bottle in your baby’s crib, it is dangerous for a few reasons. Bottle propping poses choking and suffocation risks, and often leads to cavities and ear infections. Your baby may develop a negative sleep association (needing a bottle to soothe himself to asleep), which is never a good thing in the long run.

#4

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A baby’s sleep space should be clutter-free, and this includes stuffed animals and toys, which pose a suffocation risk. They are totally fine during supervised tummy time, but never while baby sleeps.

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In love with these rope letters by Alaska Rug Company. The rope they use is up-cycled, re-purposed, and recycled from Alaska beaches and old fishing grounds.

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Simple white curtains were the perfect, gentle touch we were looking for to let in some natural light. Minimal wall accents add a nautical touch to the nursery.

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Once Liam figured out to how to stand on his own, we realized we also needed to buy some crib railings or we’d end up with a ton of little teeth marks along the wood. I am obsessed with the brand LizandRoo and their hand-sewn cotton crib rail covers. They have a padded recycled polyfil center for comfort and protection, and all of their fabrics are made using water-based dyes for baby’s safety. I highly recommend checking them out!

Liam’s crib was also one of our best buys – love the bottom drawer!

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 1.04.46 PMAnd who doesn’t love children’s books?

Juicing and Why It Should Be a Part of Your Busy Life

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Our lives have been hectic lately between summer engagements, planning for the fall semester (4 syllabi and everything that goes along with that) and dealing with a toddler who recently found his voice and thinks it is socially acceptable to scream in public places, I’ve had a lot on my plate. It doesn’t help that Joe has been working like crazy on his end as well. No breaks for this Mama!

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.54.54 PMWhen it comes to my diet, I have always been very conscious about my fruits and veggies. If I don’t eat enough of them in one day, I always think about it at night and it even makes me feel a little anxious, as if I let my body down in a way. Fruits and vegetables are the pillars of a healthy lifestyle and, unfortunately, they’re often overlooked at BBQs, work events, and other get togethers.

One thing we’ve recently picked up again at home is juicing and I am so glad to be making it a priority in our lives again. With a newborn on our hands, we always said we didn’t have the time to prep and clean the juicer, but really, that was just an excuse.

We were lazy new parents. That’s all.

I’ve been loving juicing so much lately that I’ve even been indulging in 2 juices a day! One in the morning (always) and one as a refreshing drink around lunch or mid afternoon. There are so many different options and I love that they can be kid friendly or spicy/sour (the way I like them) with added ginger and lemon juice.

If you’re interested in the benefits of juicing, but aren’t sure exactly where to start, here are a few tips from our household to yours!

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First things first, there are two types of juicers: masticating and centrifugal. Masticating juicers usually cost 250 dollars and more, depending on the brand. They “chew” ingredients down to a pulp at a very low speed, extracting the juice from food without losing any of the nutrients. Centrifugal juicers, usually priced between 40 and 250 dollars, grind food into a pulp at a very high speed.

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If you can afford it, I recommend a masticating juicer, which produces more juice and preserves important enzymes and nutrients in the food. They’re easier to clean as well, but do require more prep time (food must be chopped up smaller than with a centrifugal juicer.)

✮✮✮✮✮ rated :

Masticating Juicer: Omega® Model J8006 Nutrition Center HD Juicer 

Centrifugal JuicerBreville Juice Fountain Multi-Speed Juicer

 

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This should be a rule of thumb, but is especially key for juicing, considering the amount of fruits and veggies you will be going through daily. At the very least, be informed about which foods are part of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen, as shown below.

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The dirty dozen are the most contaminated and sprayed fruits and vegetables, whereas the clean fifteen are usually the safest to eat. In our houehold, apples, strawberries, nectarines, celery, spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes are always organic.

 

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When it comes to juicing, the key to not getting bored or losing momentum is keeping things interesting in the kitchen! To be healthy and satisfy your palate, make sure you always include at least one fruit for sweetness (we usually go for apple or pineapple), one root veggie (carrots or beets are our favorites) for antioxidants, one “watery” veggie (cucumber, celery, zucchini) for added juice, at least one leafy green (collard greens, rainbow chard, kale, or spinach), and one garnish (ginger, lemon juice, mint, or any other herb or choice!) to make it taste delicious. But remember to always shop what’s in season!

Here are three of my favorite juices at the moment:

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Beet Juice :

Beets, Carrot, Apple, Ginger, Ice (morning)

“Wild” Juice :

Lots of Spinach, Pineapple, Apple, Ginger, Lemon Juice, Ice (mid-afternoon refreshment)

Carrot Juice :

Carrots, Cucumber, Celery, Leafy Green of choice, Apple, Lemon Juice (morning)

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When Will My One-Year-Old Learn to Walk?

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Liam is a budding talker, expert ring stacker, future So You Think You Can Dance contestant (I swear I have no idea who he got those dance moves from!), and major hug lover.

But our smart, 30 pound, 13 month old is not interested in walking yet… at all. 

He stands and cruises along furniture to grab our cell phone and remote controls (of course, what else?) but the second we try to get involved, he sits back down. Our stubborn, independent little man clearly does not want our help.

For the moms out there who may be concerned about their one-year-olds not taking their first steps yet, here are a few things that should put your mind at ease:

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Our pediatrician said she doesn’t even ask about walking until the 15 month mark. She just makes sure that babies are crawling, pointing, and cruising at the 12 month mark, which Liam had already been doing for a while.

So if my pediatrician isn’t worried, I’m not either.

Although I sometimes want to encourage Liam to walk, it’s important to remember the following:

child’s body has an innate understanding of the appropriate stage at which the bones, ligaments, joints, muscles and the nervous system are ready and co-ordinated to withstand the forces of erect stature. Prematurely encouraging children to walk should be discouraged since it may predispose to increased stress on spinal musculoskeletal structures, as well as possible delay in the development of neurological coordination. Several studies have hypothesized the importance of early crawling experience in the development of sensory and motor systems of the body and general motor skill development. (dynamicchiropractic.com)

Liam is an expert crawler and I do realize it’s important to let him discover these stages on his own – once he finds his balance and footing, I am convinced it’ll only be a matter of days before I am chasing him around the house like a crazy person (wishing we could go back to his crawling days!)

Once your baby is showing that he is ready to stand upright on his own and just needs that tiny “push” from you, here are a few ways you can encourage your toddler to walk while having fun:

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The Little Dundi My Early Steps Baby Walker is a soft-structured baby walker for use with infants who have demonstrated an ability to stand while supporting themselves against furniture or holding onto an adult’s hand (which is indicative of completed changes in bodily proportion and sufficient leg muscle strength needed to enable the ability to balance in upright posture.)

The unique shell design promotes a natural posture for baby – the arms are used for balancing, which is key to maintaining balance while transitioning from one foot to the other, and the risk of shoulder dislocation caused by assisting adults pulling on baby’s arms is minimized. Baby also receives visual feedback related to each step as the view of baby’s feet is unobstructed.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 10.06.26 AM.pngThe EverEarth Activity Walker is a great tool for babies learning to walk because it does not roll as fast as many other walkers on the market: the wooden wheels need to be pushed pretty hard for them to move. For this reason, it is my favorite walker for Liam who is still practicing his early, wobbly steps. I love that it’s 100% FSC certified beech.

I love this company’s eco friendly efforts! EverEarth is the only global toy manufacturer that owns its own FSC Certified forest. When you purchase an EverEarth toy, they will plant a tree for your child in their forest. They will even send you a certificate for your child to keep and cherish.

My favorite game with Liam is to throw my cell phone on one end of the couch and have him cruise as fast as he can to go get it before me. I then grab it before he does and throw it to the other end of the couch. Lots and lots of giggles guaranteed! And some walking practice as well🙂

The bottom line of this post is to take a deep breath and let your child do his thing – I know it’s sometimes difficult when other toddlers are already speeding around on their two feet, but, just like teeth and hair growth, there is nothing wrong with a child who walks a little later than average.

It takes most babies about 1,000 hours of practice from the time they pull themselves upright to the time they can walk alone – so give your child lots of practice and pay attention to his/her progress and confidence… which is all that matters!

5 Mantras For Happy, Productive Moms

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Let’s all be real here: after tough days with our little ones, we often wonder how we’re going to do it all over again the next morning without losing it. On those days, what we forget is that a lot of it has to do with our mindset: we have the power to make it a great day or a gloomy one.

Here are 5 easy mantras that you can try out the next time you wake up without your mojo. Who knows, that’s all it might take for you to exude positive energy all day! And as they say: our kids don’t follow our advice, they follow our example… so make it  contagious, positive, happy energy!😉

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How many times a day do we question ourselves as moms? We all hate “moms who judge other moms” but really, we’re by far our worst critics. It’s important to realize that we’re the best moms for our kids, flaws included. We show up every day, provide them with everything they need, and would gladly, without blinking, shield them from a stray bullet. Let’s all be kind to ourselves and remember how amazing we are at what we do.

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As new moms, we tend to get overwhelmed quickly (especially during growth spurts!) It helps to take baby steps – it’s a lot more manageable to deal with 24 hours than with  the next 6 months.

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(We’ve got this.)

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I got this one from my husband who is great at not overthinking things (unlike his wife over here.) Instead of hating yourself over something you have no control over, learn to let go and move on, leaving the past where it belongs.

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It’s hard to remember this one during meltdowns, I know. Some days, we feel so frustrated that we tend to think there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This is true of bad days in general, even without kids. Motherhood taught me that storms are often short and quickly forgotten, leaving room for giggles and sweet hugs. Tomorrow is always a better day.

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I realized this tonight as I was picking up my son’s bath toys and mopping the bathroom floor: this is it, motherhood. What a blessing it is to have healthy little humans who splash around with  huge smiles on their faces, high-pitched laughs echoing through our homes. Even during the tough times, it’s important to realize how lucky we are to have our little miracles.

Just like that, they turned us into moms and changed our lives forever.

Why I Love the Idea of Slow Parenting

After reading this post in the Boston Globe, I realized that this “thing” I could easily describe to friends and family actually has a name: slow parenting.

These lines from the article really stuck with me:

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 2.38.06 PM.pngI encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack,” Duffy says. “Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace.

Unplugging from electronics and social media and heading outside is a great way to reconnect with your family, says David Elkind, a child psychologist and professor at Tufts University. “Life has gotten more demanding with technology. Get outside, smell the roses, look at the stars. Play ball in the yard or some other game. Kids can learn so much about people and themselves by simply playing games with their family.”

Parents, Contey points out, also reap benefits from getting out into the fresh air. “When you’re inside the house, it’s really tempting to hop on the computer or get involved in chores. When you’re out in nature, it’s an automatic reset that helps us click back into ourselves.”

I am such a big believer in this idea – even if it just means taking a walk around the park pointing at trees, the leaves rusting or birds chirping overhead, listening to the river crash against the moss-covered rocks. I can’t wait to take Liam to the farms upstate when he’s a little bit older, help him pick his first piece of fruit right from a branch – tell him to make a wish under the shade of the trees as he inhales its sweet aroma.Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.15.58 PM.png

It’s so important to stop once in a while and really look, really listen, not just rush past the little things.  How else are our children supposed to see how beautiful nature really is?

I like to let Liam take the lead – point to the things he wants to discover or observe a little closer, a flock of geese, a tree trunk. I love seeing the excitement on his face when I let him place his palm against the bark.

As moms, we all feel compelled to join as many baby classes as possible only to spend countless hours in the car rushing to and from them. These are not quality moments with our kids – they’re rushed, stressed, distant. I feel it in my core that it’s not the way I want to raise Liam – it’s not “connected”, and even I feel anxious doing them. I can tell that Liam’s favorite moments are those that are measured, gentle, and calm – whether I’m reading him a book right before bedtime or telling him a story as we walk together.

I don’t want my son to sit in front of the TV all afternoon like many kids unfortunately do these days, but instead get his knees dirty and his lungs full of fresh air. That’s the kind of childhood I’m thankful I had, without much (if any) technology… Chasing my seven dogs around all day, jumping in rain puddles with both feet, climbing trees and playing pretend. My mind was full of magical stories.

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I want Liam to be curious about the world he lives in and discover it in all of its glory.

I want him to love it so much he tries to cup it between his hands.

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I wonder if it’s possible to imagine such a childhood in our world as we know it today…

But the least we can do is try.

5 Reasons Why I Still Breastfeed My One Year Old (And Don’t Plan on Stopping Any Time Soon)

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Yup, you read that right. The WHO recommends incorporating solid foods at 6 months of age while continuing to breastfeed until three years of age. Although Liam is only 13 months old, I am adamant on doing what feels right for him – I refuse to wean him in an unnatural way if he isn’t ready to stop nursing. Of course, it’s an accomplishment to nurse at all, even if it’s just a few months postpartum. I am more than aware that a lot of moms don’t have the luxury to stay home with their babies, and I am in no way saying that if you don’t let your child self wean you are doing it wrong. This is just something that fortunately works for our family.

 

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I’ve heard way too many misinformed comments over the past few months (and it hasn’t always been easy to keep my mouth shut!) Things such as “you should stop nursing when he’s old enough to ask for it” or, “as soon as he has teeth, you need to stop”, or even, “He’s just too big now. Only babies breastfeed.” I think that as a whole, in Mommy World, it’s important to live and let live: do what works for you and let other moms figure out what works for them. For my part, I am thrilled that I am still able to provide my son with so many essential nutrients.

KG Dewey, author of Nutrition, Growth, and Complementary Feeding of the Breastfed Infant, writes that during the second year, 448 mL of breastmilk  provides a toddler with:

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I mean, really… why stop breastfeeding now that my milk is becoming superhuman? I am lucky enough to be able to provide my son with these nutrients. Please tell me how it makes sense to wean him now?

 

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Last time I checked, nature works in pretty amazing ways. Just the way my body produces the perfect amount of milk to satisfy my baby (and no one else’s), it also continues to produce it for a good reason: my baby needs it! As long as my body cooperates and produces nutritious, organic, custom-made milk for my son, you can be sure that I won’t be depriving him of it.

 

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First, I want to be clear that I am in no way judging or shaming moms for feeding cow’s milk to their children. Our pediatrician (that we love) emphasizes that cow’s milk is second best to breastmilk in terms of nutritional value after the first year. I am therefore open to feeding my son cow’s milk if I am unable to feed him in person (I am so done with pumping!), but only once my frozen breastmilk stash has been used up.

However, it is important to note that just like human milk is made for baby humans, goat milk is made for baby goats, and cow milk is made for baby cows… that weigh approximately 85 lbs at birth. Although all three are babies, they cannot be compared in terms of dietary and nutritional needs.

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nutritionmd.org

 

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Finally, breastfeeding my son is a lot more than just giving him a bottle of milk. It is a gift all women have (if they want it badly enough), and provides our children with comfort, warmth, and protection. We are able to heal them from minor pain and relieve their symptoms, protect them from diseases, and give them a healthy head start in life, possibly preventing allergies, asthma, obesity, a lowered risk of heart disease, juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, as well as many childhood cancers (askdrsears.com).

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I am aware that there is a stigma around breastfeeding “big babies” and the judgment passed on moms who breastfeed their toddlers in public. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that there is no shame in doing the right thing for your child, even if some may not understand that. Besides, people will always find a reason to judge or criticize what you are doing, no matter what it is.

Forget breastfeeding in dressing rooms or bathroom stalls (never!), and if it’s 95 degrees out, forget the heavy nursing cover too… Remember that breastfeeding is a gift we have, and it’s a natural, beautiful thing we do for our children.