Making Jack’s Food

Making Jack’s Food

Jack’s diet consisted entirely of breast milk until he was about six and a half months old. Once he hit the age our doctor recommended, we began slowly introducing pureed foods into his diet. I know the Baby Led Weaning model is big right now, but I have to be honest in admitting that it hasn’t really worked for us. As a disclaimer, I didn’t do a ton of research on BLW. However, I have tried letting him feed himself a few times and it hasn’t gone so great. Plus, giving him chunks of food makes me really nervous. He only has two bottom teeth, but he has actually bit off pieces of apple and avocado slices that were too big for him to swallow. Obviously this results in mommy panic when he starts coughing. I then tried giving him a much smaller bite instead, but that didn’t work either. Eventually we will dive back into letting him feed himself, but right now purees are going well and he loves them so we’re sticking with that.

Baby Food

When I make his baby food, I simply steam and then puree big batches of each food in my Vitamix. I love using these baby food storage containers to freeze his food and then refrigerate while thawing. I will be transitioning into these large containers very soon.  I haven’t tried mixing foods except for fruits with his oatmeal, but this month I plan on expanding his diet, making our own combinations, and feeding him some protein like chicken. So far Jack has tried:

  • Oatmeal Cereal (He LOVES oatmeal mixed with a little milk, and lately I’ve been adding in some mashed banana, applesauce or prunes too. I picked up a box of baby cereal at the grocery, but I read that I can just grind my own oatmeal in the blender to make a homemade version of baby cereal. I am going to do this next time since it’s cheaper and I know the only ingredient in it: oats! I want to make my own brown rice cereal for him too.)
  • Banana (He is obsessed with banana! This is definitely his favorite food.)
  • Applesauce (I started with just apples, but this last batch I added a small sprinkle of cinnamon to the mix and he really liked this.)
  • Sweet Potato (This is another winner! After I test how Jack handles chicken on its own, I am going to make a dinner mix of chicken and sweet potato for him to eat.)
  • Honeydew (I held a big piece of honeydew when we were in Florida and let him suck on it a bit. He seemed to like it a lot, but I had to take it away when he started biting pieces off.)
  • Avocado (Avocado is a work in progress.. I was hoping he would take to it quickly since it’s so good for him and filled with plenty of healthy fats for his growing brain. However, he doesn’t exactly love it and he makes the funniest faces when he tries it –> I shared this montage of his reaction on Instagram. Hilarious! We are going to keep working on it though. I am sure if he could have tortilla chips with guacamole he would learn to love avocado, ha!)
  • Peas (Jack actually likes peas quite a bit! I think peas are the only veggie I do not like, but I read babies tend to love these as a first veggie and so far this has rang true. I think that has to do with peas being a sweeter veggie option, and Jack is definitely drawn to his fruits!)
  • Pears (Just like applesauce, Jack really likes pears! Especially with a hint of cinnamon.)
  • Green Beans (Ahh green beans… I love you, but so far Jack does not. I am not sure if it is the texture of the green bean or the lack of sweetness, or maybe a combination of both, but he does not like eating his greens. I mixed peas with sweet potatoes and he loved that, so I may try and do that with green beans as well.)
  • Egg Yolk (Egg allergies are typically in the white, so I decided to scramble an egg yolk first and then will add in the whites later. This went okay… I tried scrambling the yolk, and I really think the issue was a texture thing. Next time I would like to try hard boiling the eggs and then mashing up the yolks separate. I think this would give Jack the smoother consistency he is looking for in his food.)
  • Carrots (He wasn’t a fan of carrots the first time he tried them, but I think it was a texture thing and I didn’t get them smooth enough. I just fed him a carrots and sweet potato combination last night when both veggies were super smooth and he loved it!)

Baby Food

I am excited for the warm months to be arriving so I can feed Jack some fresh summer produce and keep expanding his palette. I know it takes time for babies to get used to eating foods, especially veggies, but so far I’ve been really happy with his progress!

Baby Food

You tell me: What has your experience feeding a baby looked like? Have you had more success with purees or baby led weaning? Do you have any food suggestions for me to try with Jack?

When Saving Becomes an Idol

When Saving Becomes an Idol

Saving money. Everyone wants it done, but nobody likes to do it. I, like most, have a greater peace of mind when there’s a little extra money in the bank. Anyone else agree?

However, saving money may not always be a healthy choice.

Now before you think I’ve gone a little loopy, hear me out. What happens when saving money becomes as much of an obsession as spending it? When either the spending or saving results in anxiety and fixation, then it’s time to take a step back and examine the bigger picture.

This conversation on spending v. saving came about during a recent trip to a Bachelorette party in Nashville. My girlfriends and I had quite a bit of time during the road trip to chat, and one of these topics was about spending and saving money. I shared that although I love shopping, sometimes it can be stressful. I have always been a saver, but now that I have Jack I find myself having a hard time emotionally when purchasing. I obviously have a goal to save for him and his future, so I find that spending money on anything that’s not for him can be difficult for me. Wanting to have that money in the bank for my son and for a rainy day is more than understandable, but that focus can also become obsessive.

I have literally had a savings account since birth, and when I made money during my high school and college years, I would always put a large chunk of my paycheck into my savings. My mom was a huge saver and always financially smart, so I looked to her for guidance on where to spend and where to save. She taught me important financial lessons about having a personal and college savings account, not getting into credit card debt, and immediately putting money into my 401K when I started a full-time job at 21 years old. Because of her, I learned important life skills on balancing my spending to match my income, and she helped set the stage for me at a young age for financial literacy.

The strange thing about my savings obsession now is that money has never been an issue for me. We aren’t rich, but we also aren’t anywhere near poor. We make a good family income and we always have the money to cover our needs. Not always our wants, but always our needs. As opposite as they can be, both saving and spending can become an obsession and when money is treated like an idol, it’s wrong.

I am obviously not saying we should go out and spend frivolously, but we also shouldn’t obsess when those dollars are spent wisely and with intent. Money should never be treated like an idol or given more power than it deserves. Friends, I am a constant work in progress and I’m making it a point to release some of that control while letting God lead me down His path. Being budget-conscious and saving for the future is one thing, but obsessing over money in any way is never the right choice.

Conversation Time.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on Saving v. Spending! Can you relate to any of my thoughts on the subject above? Do you consider yourself to be a spender or a saver? How do you find the right balance between the two?

California Dreaming Part 2

California Dreaming Part 2

When we last left off, I was diving head first into our comfy cozy bed in our precious little Calistoga cottage…

Calistoga, CA Aurora Park CottagesDay 3 – Calistoga, Napa and Healdsburg

Calistoga, CA Aurora Park Cottages

Our first morning at the cottage started with fruit, local coffee from the Calistoga Roastery, and fresh-made croissants and scones on the deck of our cottage.

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After breakfast we headed toward Napa to explore. We thought downtown Napa was adorable, but the surrounding areas were actually a little too touristy for us. I thought I would love Napa, but I ended up liking the seclusion and beauty of Calistoga just a little more.

Monday afternoon we had a winery tour and another wine tasting, this time at Frog’s Leap Vineyard in Rutherford.

Frog's Leap Vineyard

There are so many wineries in Napa Valley that it can be overwhelming to choose where to go. As soon as we walked into Frog’s Leap though, I knew it was a good choice. First off, I literally wanted to move into the Vineyard House…

Frog's Leap Vineyard

It was the color and style that I often imagine my own dream house looking like; an old, yet updated, cozy California Craftsman. The chandeliers, hardwood floors, and massive farm table that overlooked the vineyard were to die for!

Frog's Leap Vineyard

Our guided tour took us through the journey from vine to glass. The tour guide was excellent and very knowledgeable about wine and Frog’s Leap as a whole. I actually found that Frog’s Leap had the best reds that I’ve ever had! I ended up having two tasting glasses of their Cabernet Sauvignon – it was amazing! (Fun fact – the wine that isn’t deemed ‘up to par’ for Frog’s Leap standards is actually the wine you can order at uber-popular Shake Shack! So next time you order a glass at Shake Shack, know you are still drinking amazingly crafted wine!)

Before we left for California, friends of ours suggested that we visit the town of Healdsburg if we got a chance. We decided to have dinner there Monday night and once again loved this cozy little town. There were so many amazing places to eat that it was hard to choose, but we finally picked Bear Republic Brewing Co. for its menu, prices, and laid back vibe.

Bear Republic Brewing Co.

I went with the BRBC Veggie Burger, which was a BRBC veggie patty housemade with black beans, quinoa, brewhouse spent grain, bell peppers, and spices, served with grilled zucchini, arugula and sundried tomato spread. It was amazing! I ordered a side salad along with it, but Tim’s garlic fries were incredible. I should have went with those!

Bear Republic Brewing Co.

Day 4 – Calistoga and Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway)

Our last morning in Calistoga once again began with coffee, fruit and fresh baked goods enjoyed in the crisp morning air outside on our porch. I was so sad to leave our little cottage, but we wanted to get a head start on the long drive ahead of us. We had to travel south to Los Angeles, so we decided to make the drive from Northern California to Southern part of our travel experience by taking Highway 1 for more than seven hours.

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

It was absolutely beautiful, but it also took much longer than the original drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It took a lot more time to go the scenic route, but the views were absolutely priceless! I would say the best thing was the view, but the worst thing was paying $6 a gallon for gas. I guess that’s what happens when you’re on a road that you can’t get off – you find that you’re literally willing to pay anything for the necessities! The long drive did give us a chance to really spend time together laughing and talking and singing along to the radio. We also found it pretty refreshing that there was no cell service in many parts of the drive. Talking was literally the only thing we could do!

Pacific Coast Highway

We drove pretty much all day, stopping for lunch and dinner by the water, and then stayed near Santa Maria for the night.

Pacific Coast Highway

Day 5 – Laguna Beach and Los Angeles

On our final morning in California, we again got up early, ate breakfast at the hotel, and drove south to Laguna Beach for the day. We had a red eye scheduled out of LAX Wednesday night and we wanted to try and get a little beach time in while we still could. I was a huge Laguna Beach fan back in the day, and I casually suggested we visit the town where Lauren and Kristin grew up… (I know some of you were LB fans too!!) The verdict? We actually weren’t as impressed with the public beach as I thought we would be. It was a little dirty and not as scenic as I would have hoped, but there were still some cute shops and restaurants down by the water.

Laguna Beach

I also wanted to be nosey and see all the houses on the hill, but we unfortunately ran out of time to do too much exploring. Traffic is insane in California, and we didn’t want to get caught in LA rush hour traffic while heading to the airport.

Laguna Beach

We didn’t get to see much of LA, but we were so afraid of getting stuck in a traffic jam and not making it for our flight. At this point too we were absolutely exhausted, so heading onto the airport seemed like the best idea.

We took the red eye from LAX at 10:50 and landed at the Indianapolis airport at 6:00 am.  We were exhausted and still had a morning drive, but couldn’t wait to get home to our baby. It’s funny how now that we have Jack, sometimes returning home is as sweet as the trip itself.

California Dreaming

California Dreaming

Last month I found myself California dreaming throughout our entire Golden State travels. Tim and I took our first trip post-baby, a six day getaway, just the two of us. Since we were traveling so far away and for not a long amount of time, we had a packed itinerary for seeing as much of the state as we could.

We flew into Los Angeles early Saturday morning, and from there made our way north to San Francisco, followed by Calistoga, Napa and the rest of wine country, before making our way south on the Pacific Coast Highway, taking a day trip to Laguna Beach, and then driving just a bit north to Los Angeles before catching our flight at LAX back home.

The trip was crazy busy, but it was also incredibly adventurous, memorable and fun. Tim and I absolutely soaked up the time we had together. I always find that exploring new places as a couple brings us closer together in our relationship. I think there is something about having adventures and experiencing new things and locations with the one you love that can make any trip that much more special. We truly haven’t had ‘real’ alone time since before Jack was born, so it was nice to be able to focus on each other without having to worry about our baby.

Speaking of Jack, he and Tebow stayed with my parents while we were gone. There were absolutely moments where we missed him like crazy, but it was so nice knowing that he was in great hands while we were gone. I felt assured that he would get as many hugs, kisses, and ‘I love you’s’ as he would from his own parents. I realize how lucky I am to have them close and be more than willing to take my boys. We obviously never would have taken the trip if we couldn’t have left him with someone we trusted, so I’m thankful it was able to work so seamlessly! Plus, my mom would send us pictures throughout the day of Jack smiling and having fun, and we would Face time with him at least once a day so those updates helped to calm my heart and mind when I was missing him.

Day 1 – Los Angeles and San Francisco

We had a straight flight from Indianapolis to LAX on Saturday morning, and arrived about 9:00am Pacific time. From there we grabbed our rental car and headed straight for San Francisco. Our road trip meal stop of choice was In-n-Out for burgers, fries and a milkshake.

In-n-Out Burger

When we arrived in San Francisco, we quickly checked into our hotel and headed back out into the city. We stayed in the Fisherman’s Wharf area where a lot of the tourist action was happening. I think next time we would stay more downtown or near the baseball stadium, but we did like being near the water and the harbor. Since we were dealing with a three hour time change, 7:00pm PST time was feeling rough for us! Eating dinner at 10:00pm is not our usual style so after roaming around downtown for about an hour we quickly grabbed something to eat and headed back to our hotel room to get a little sleep after a long day of traveling.

San Francisco Italian District

Day 2 – San Francisco and Calistoga

Since we were dealing with the time change, we found ourselves up bright and early at 6:00 am. We heard that breakfast spots fill up quickly after opening, so we went ahead and left the hotel to wall around and find something to eat.

San Francisco Harbor

San Francisco Harbor

We strolled by the harbor and headed toward the Giants stadium for a little outdoor dining near the water at Town’s End Restaurant and Bakery.

Brunching at Town's End in San Francisco

 

Brunching at Town's End in San Francisco

After eating we wanted to walk around and explore the city some more, so we headed toward mid-town and walked, and walked, and walked some more. In fact, according to my Garmin, we ended up taking more than 20,000 steps in San Francisco in three hours. We were about to head back to the hotel to pack up and leave, but I mentioned wanting to see the Full House home before we left. Well, little did we know it would add another three miles or so onto our walk, and once we arrived I was actually a little underwhelmed.

Full House

The house doesn’t look anything like the show’s portrayal anymore, but it was still fun to see. Also, I had obviously heard how hilly and steep San Francisco was, but wow was that surprising! Going up and down those streets was crazy. You would definitely not have an excuse to be out-of-shape if you lived there and walked everywhere.

We left San Francisco about noon and headed northeast toward wine country! We had a 2:30 wine tasting at Tamber Bey Vineyards, so we decided to go straight to the winery before checking into our little cottage.

Tamber Bey Vineyards

Tamber Bey Vineyards was just gorgeous! The winery is located at the Sundance Ranch, which is a world-class equestrian facility that trains top performance horses. We had our wine tasting outside in the barn’s courtyard, which had gorgeous views of Mount St. Helena. Tamber Bey had my favorite whites of the trip, especially their 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. It was nice because we were visiting right before their busy season begins, so our tasting guide was able to spend a lot of time with us. I literally knew nothing about wine before this trip, so I loved learning through the tasting. A few things that I learned is that I don’t love a strong tannins (basically, in simple terms, what makes your mouth pucker when you sip!), wine blends don’t mean they are cheap wine, you should always smell before you taste, and I like really expensive wines (sorry honey)! I thought I completely didn’t like Merlots or Cabs, but this was simply not true. I just wasn’t picking the right ones! To summarize, I will probably enjoy just about any reds that were made before 2012!

After our tasting, we headed to the Aurora Park Cottages, our little home-away-from-home.

Aurora Park Cottages Calistoga, CA

Aurora Park Cottages Calistoga, CA

The Aurora Park Cottages is a Napa Valley Bed & Breakfast Retreat in Calistoga, a town about 20 miles from downtown Napa. We highly recommend staying in these cottages if you ever visit Napa! It was just so quaint, and quiet and unique; exactly what we wanted during our wine country stay. The cottages are perched on a scenic hillside, within walking distance of charming downtown Calistoga.

After we got settled in, we were once again feeling pretty tired, so we decided to keep dinner simple. We walked into town and had dinner outside on the patio at Pacifico Restaurante Mexicano. I ordered the Vegetarian Taco Salad: Crispy flour tortilla shell with sautéed vegetables layered with rice, tomatoes, lettuce, tomato and topped with sour cream, guacamole & cheese.

Dinner Calistoga

By the time we finished eating, we were full and tired and more than ready for a cozy sleep in our cottage!

This post is getting a little long, so I will be back with  the rest of our California recap soon!

A Perfectly Imperfect Mother’s Day

A Perfectly Imperfect Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day means so many different things to different people. I am so thankful to have the mother I do – the strongest, most selfless, strong woman of faith that I know.

Mother's Day 2016

My mom has two children who think the world of her, but I know the holiday truly is a bittersweet one for her as she misses her own mother so much. You see, my mom and my grandma were two peas-in-a-pod, much like my own mother and I are today. When I put myself in her shoes, I can only imagine how Mother’s Day for her must be just as painful as it is also sweet.

There are so many women who have lost their own mothers and grandmothers, and just as many women who long to be mothers or have tragically lost their own children. In all honesty, Mother’s Day can be incredibly tough on so many. It’s easy to lose sight of this in the midst of celebration, and although I may not be able to fully understand the loss of those around me hurting, I do realize just how grateful I should be to have both my mom and son to celebrate with. As excited as I was to be a mom on Mother’s Day, I am in no way unaware of what I have been given in life. Being a mom is the greatest gift I have ever received and I in no way take it for granted.

Mother's Day 2016

There are days when I literally ask God, “Why me Lord?” when it comes to my gift of being a mother. What did I ever do in life to deserve such a blessing! The truth is that I have done absolutely nothing, but God is unimaginably giving and mercifully forgiving. Although some days I truly don’t feel worthy enough to be a mom, it was nice on Mother’s Day to feel extra encouraged for all I (try!) to do as a mom. Friday night and Saturday were spent having girl time with my mom, filled with coffee chats, makeup and clothes shopping, hot tubbing, and a very sweet necklace from my mom to commemorate my first Mother’s Day. Sunday was an all day event with my boys. I started my morning with a latte, Mother’s Day cards from Tim and Jack, along with a thoughtful gift card to my favorite spa. I wanted a day filled with quality time, so I was excited when Tim said we were taking Jack to the zoo. The weather didn’t look great, but it was only calling for a 20% chance of rain so we chose to brave it anyways.

Mother's Day 2016

We saw the monkeys, gorillas, lions, polar bears, black bears and giraffes, and then the clouds opened and it started to pour the rain. As the animals took cover under the trees and bushes in their habitat, we too tried to seek shelter for our own family of three.

There was a time in my life when this experience would make me want to cry. This loss of control – loss of perfection – would be almost too much to handle. Motherhood has grown me though and taught that perfection truly is in the eye of the beholder. I could choose in that moment to believe it was either a glass half-full or half-empty kind of situation.

Literally all Tim and I could do though when we looked at each other was uncontrollably laugh. We quickly covered Jack’s stroller with our coats and his blankets so that not a single cold drop of rain would land on our baby, but here were his mama and daddy – soaked to the bone, freezing, and quickly moving as fast as we could through the zoo to take shelter. Tim kept apologizing for planning such an imperfect Mother’s Day trip, but I kept telling him not to be sorry. In my heart, everything was perfect. This day epitomized motherhood in all its crazy, unplanned, spur-of-the-moment, imperfect glory!

Mother's Day 2016

As a mom, I am so incredibly not perfect it is humorous. I mess up constantly – Every. Single. Day. but my heart, just like my husband’s with the zoo trip, is always in the right place. I want to be perfect for my son, but I know that isn’t possible. I make mistakes that I don’t care to admit, but if I can more often than not see a smile on my son’s face and hear his sweet giggles filled with pure joy, then I must be doing okay as a mother. I will never forget my first perfectly imperfect Mother’s Day, and everything that it taught me along the way. When I laid down for sleep that Sunday night, my heart felt so full and grateful for what I have and who I have in this life, and it is a lesson I won’t be forgetting any time soon.