Why are kids so sticky?

sticky

I’ve been a proud parent for about 3 years now, so I thought I’d answer some basic questions about children for those of you who don’t have any to study.

  1. Why are kids so sticky?
    Children are in the pupal stage of human development. They constantly excrete sticky and viscous coatings as a defense against predators.
  2. Why are kids so loud?
    This is the natural response to hearing too many dad jokes; they are simply trying to drown out the terrible puns and word-play. Good luck to you, children. Maybe you can save us all.
  3. Why do kids throw temper tantrums at the store?
    They are too small and inexperienced to successfully shoplift the items they want. You try packing a Dora the Explorer tea set into a size 4 diaper!
  4. What happens at the hospital when the baby is born?
    a) Women – You are welcomed into the secret enclave where you are given all the knowledge of the cosmos; in effect, you now “know everything”. Eyes are installed in the back of your head, and your hearing is upgraded to include the “dangerous silence” app. You also get cut or torn open to remove your new human.
    b) Men –  You are dressed in scrubs and taken to your secret dad training session. You will learn the basic phrases and terminology needed for your new life: “Put on a sweater”, “Who touched the thermostat?”, “I need to go to the hardware store”, “Hi Hungry, I’m Dad!” Your mustache will spontaneously appear while your hairline recedes. Your brain will get the “Lame Joke” downgrade.
    c) Same-gendered couples – You get to choose which of you gets which options with a full-contact Rock-Paper-Scissors match.
  5. Why do children run everywhere?
    Their batteries are still new and fresh. They will gradually slow down as they age, as evidenced by 90 year old humans shuffling around the mall.
  6. Why are children always laughing and playing?
    They haven’t had the joy sucked out of them by reality and adults yet. Many evil adults, such as Rush Limbaugh and Joan Crawford, are sustained by draining the happiness from small children. If you’ve ever wondered how your horrible Great Aunt Myrna is still alive, check to see if there’s an elementary school near her home.
  7. Why do children always have snotty noses?
    Our bodies actually create the same quantity of mucous our whole lives. Children’s sinus cavities are just much smaller than adults’, therefore less of it is contained.
  8. Why do so many children have peanut allergies now?
    This is the result of the current “foodie” movement. Babies as a whole have decided that peanuts are passé. And who can blame them.
  9. Why do kids put everything in their mouths?
    Much information can be gained from an item by licking or biting it. Babies are very curious, and want to learn all they can about the world. Adults have already assimilated most of the information available from biting things, therefore no longer need to. Imagine biting a book: you already know what it would feel like, right? You’ve bitten everything you need to, but they have lots more biting to do.
  10. Bonus question: Why do parents drink so much wine?
    It’s easy to disguise in a coffee mug.

    I hope that was enlightening for those of you who don’t have kids, or haven’t had kids around in a long time. They’re a lot of fun, and more manageable if you just pretend they’re tiny, drunk adults.

April 1, 2017. Tags: , , , . Baby Stuff, Kid Stuff. 2 comments.

Everything Messy Play

My previous post made me realize just how much I know about messy play for toddlers. It’s really time consuming to stop random people on the street and share my wisdom, only to find out that they don’t even have kids, and I should “Go home and put on pants”. Whatever, I’ll just share my knowledge with you lovely minions who appreciate my pearls of wisdom.

all messy play cover

Messy play is one of my favorite things for so many reasons:

  1. It absorbs my toddler, Nacho, in a way few things can. That sentence makes it sounds like the Blob is ingesting him, but you get what I mean.
  2. Messy play is even entertaining for young babies. I know when Nacho was small, I was definitely at a loss for things to do with him. You can only coo at a wiggling burrito so much!
  3. It’s CHEAP. Having a kid is expensive, especially when yours eats like a linebacker after the big championship game (the Wonderbowl? The Supershow? You know, that sports thing that happens too often for some reason).  The most basic form of messy play is a mud pit, which is free! The other recipes I use are generally pretty cheap, which is always great.

There are lots of variations of messy play, and honestly, just a quick browse on pinterest will overwhelm you with options. Well, I have sorted through tons of those links, and picked out my favorites. I look for recipes that are cheap, easy to clean up, and allergen free (no wheat for my poor guy). Several of these are also taste safe for younger ones.

  1. Slime – You will need a fiber supplement with Psyllium as the active ingredient, food coloring, water, and a microwave safe bowl. I love this recipe because you only use 1 tablespoon of the fiber stuff and 1 cup of water. Whisk this together with a little food coloring, then microwave for 5 minutes. Here is the link to the original post I used that has lots of Q&A if you need more details.
  2. Oobleck – Mix 1 cup water, 2 cups cornstarch, and some food coloring. I like to make one big white batch, then separate it into small containers to add color. I usually don’t measure anything, and just kind of mix it around until I get a good consistency. Oobleck can be reused if you spread it thin, and let it dry thoroughly. Just add water again and remix it. I usually reuse it within a couple days, and just once. There are tons of variations on this basic recipe all over the magical internets, but I stick to the basic one.

    dry slime

    Dried out oobleck

  3. Tub Paint – You can use shaving cream mixed with a tiny bit of food coloring, or this recipe (this is a tiny batch): 1 tbsp constarch, a couple squirts dish soap, and a tiny bit of food coloring. As with the oobleck, I make a big batch of white, then separate it to add colors. With the soap one, the tub turns into a Giganto-bubble bath after, which entertains Nacho for another good stretch of time.
  4.  Finger paint – When my son was younger, I made his from scratch so they would be taste safe. I used this recipe, and it worked great! We still have Nacho’s original artwork, and it looks great, 2 years later. Now, I tend to buy the store-bought ones when they’re on sale. I should probably get back to making them, though…
  5. Play dough – Since Nacho is allergic to wheat, and playtime shouldn’t lead to him covered in hives, I used rice flour instead of regular flour. That’s not as cheap as most recipes though, so I would use regular flour if you can. I have totally lost the original recipe I used, but there are infinite variations online. If you don’t have time to cook it, you can use cornstarch and hair conditioner, mixed with a bit of food coloring.
  6. Play foam – this is a huge hit in our house, and one we usually keep in the tub. I use a couple squirts of dish soap, a small drop of food coloring, and about 1/4 cup of water. You do need a mixer of some kind for this. I use my hand mixer with whisk attachment and it whips the mixture up into foam in no time. I actually keep my hand mixer in the bathroom now.
  7. Foam dough – This is cornstarch mixed with shaving cream. When I made it, it was somewhat brittle, but some kids will probably enjoy it. I’ll probably try it again with Nacho in the future.
  8. Mud – regular old mud is one of Nacho’s favorite things. I just make sure to hose him off outside before we head in for his bath.
  9. Play sand – Sand is really cheap at Home Depot, and stores like that. It is just insanely heavy. Again, a huge hit! We bought one bag last year, for I think $5, and his sand table (which I got for free!) is still pretty full. If you store it outside, put a cover over it when it’s not being used. We just store our play pool upside down on top as a giant lid!
  10. Jello – Yes, just regular old Jell-o. I buy the store brand, so it’s less than $0.50 per batch. Just follow the package instructions! Easy peasy. I usually make it after he goes to bed, so it’s ready the next day for play time.
  11. Play snow – This is literally baking soda mixed with water, and that’s all. I kind of just mix amounts until I have a consistency I like. (Man, this is a professional blog, will you look at this? Don’t get too jelly of my amazing, super-helpful writing.) One thing about play snow, you will see recipes all over that call for conditioner or other random ingredients, but seriously, all you need is baking soda and water. You can also play with this in the tub and dump vinegar on it to make crazy amounts of foam!
  12. Bean tray – Beans are so much fun for kids to play with, but man, they can get everywhere. I use pinto beans because they’re the cheapest of all the beans, and they’re large enough to be easy to find. No lentils for this activity! I have a big, cheap catering pan I store the beans in with a few scoops, so it’s all ready to go when I need a distraction.
  13. Water – I’m including this because you HAVE to take precautions with water. Not just safety, but holy potato can kids make a mess with it. We played mixing colored water in the tub, and I’m so glad I didn’t try it elsewhere. I also stop up the sink and fill it a little so Nacho can play Pond. Give him a few animals (or toys that desperately need a bath!), and he’s entertained for 20 minutes. Long enough for me to shower (in eyesight of him), or put laundry away.
  14. Bubbles – Nacho is obsessed with bubbles, whether in the bath or blown, so when I bring them out, we go through a million of them. If we use them indoors, I put towels down to prevent the floor getting slippery. We made bubble snakes outside, which was great until the dog began eating them. Okay, that was funny too, but then he got an upset stomach, so don’t let your dog eat bubbles. It’s not pretty. I used one of Nacho’s socks on the bubble maker instead of the wash cloth in the tutorial, and it worked great.
  15. Colored ice cubes – Just make colored water, and dump it into ice cube trays. You can use yogurt cups, or other containers to get weird shapes, but make sure the container is freezer safe. There’s a blue stain in my freezer for totally unrelated reasons. Totally. I usually let these warm up a little before handing them off to Nacho so I don’t have to worry about them sticking to his skin or tongue. I have a Batman ice cube tray (YOU CAN’T HAVE IT), and he loves to fit the bats back into the tray.

I wrote about how to reduce the clean up work the other day, so here’s the link if you missed it.

General Tips:

  1. I buy my food coloring on Amazon, and it’s far cheaper than the grocery store. If I find something even cheaper than that, I will update you all.
  2. To extend a kiddo’s interest in a particular mess, add fun things to it gradually. For example, if Nacho has play dough, he’ll start to lose interest after 20 or 30 minutes. I just hand him something additional to go with it, like dry pasta, and that adds a new level of interest. Googly eyes make an appearance later, then cookie cutters, etc.
  3. Save and wash yogurt cups for scooping, or to hold multiple colors of paints/slime/various goops.
  4. Look around at what you have available, and utilize your resources. Kids will find a way to play with almost anything. Do you have dozens of wine corks around for no particular reason? Not because you’re a parent, surely. Well let the kiddo play with them, and now you’re being resourceful!
  5. Don’t have a plan for HOW the kid will play with stuff. I mean, other than “Don’t throw it at the cat”. Just let them do whatever comes to mind rather than demonstrating how they “should” play with whatever it is. If they seem a little lost or hesitant, by all means get down there and play around, but otherwise let them at it.
  6. With my toddler, I don’t ask if he wants to play with something. That’s get a guaranteed “NO”. I just set stuff up and show it to him, then he digs in.
  7. Start buying industrial shipments of cornstarch. Why does it only come in tiny boxes at the store???
  8. I save random plastic containers and lids to use with all of these. Coffee can lids make great pretend plates, little segmented trays are great for paints or pouring activities. Ice cube trays are wonderfully versatile. Of course, if your kid is young enough to worry about choking on things, be very careful what you hand them.
  9. Random items to extend play: straws or chop sticks (for a more eco-friendly version), googly eyes, dried pasta, various plastic containers and trays, milk tops, large beads or buttons, toy dinosaurs, army men, bugs, animals, other figures that are washable, balls, cars (that are easy to clean), Mardi Gras beads, nature materials like pine cones, shells, sticks, acorns, etc, cutlery, like butter knives or spoons, baking pans, like muffin tins or bundt cake pans, cookie cutters, random craft supplies like gems or feathers, and weird kitchen tools, like a garlic press, potato masher, rolling pin, those odd gadgets that accumulate and you forget what they do.
  10. Above all, have fun! There’s a ton of info here, so just pick and choose a couple things to test out if this is new ground. If you’ve been doing messy play with the kiddos for awhile, hopefully there are some useful tips in here, and maybe you have some of your own! I would love to learn something new, so drop me a comment with your sage advice.

Wow, that is a lot of text. My brain feels so light and empty now! I mean, it usually feels that way until I have some coffee. And then also after I have coffee. And most of the time. You can see why I prefer play things that are simple to set up and clean up!

June 3, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

Sickness Kit

It always happens: I feel that first tickle or soreness in my throat, the inexplicable aches, Hubby starts sniffling. These are my warning signs that illness will descend upon the household imminently.  I usually run to the store to stock up on what we’ll need, guiltily spreading viruses throughout the store. The alternative is attempting to sustain myself on the remaining dregs of a bottle of Dayquil whose expiration date rubbed off years ago, and that tea in the back of the cabinet that tastes like it was dredged out of Boston Harbor be someone even more frugal than me.

Well, no more! I am currently on the mend from a cold/flu, and this time I am stocking up in advance for the inevitable next plague. You can also use this as a “Get well soon” kit for an ailing friend. Put these items in a lovely gift basket with a bow, then leave it on their porch and run like hell to avoid zombie-fication.

  • For adults:
    Dayquil (or generic alternative, which you know is the one I have)
    NyQuil (aka magical unicorn tears)
    Decongestants
    Pain killers
    Okay, basically all the drugs
    Tea (Throat coat is almost as magical as Nyquil)
    Cough drops (even more drugs)
    Tissues
    Chicken soup, or your preferred hot liquid
    In the event of a stomach virus, crackers
    Zinc (my choice), or your go-to supplement, like Emergen-C
  • For kids too young for the good meds:
    Ibuprofen
    Herbal Tea (No caffeine, for the love of hamsters)
    Chicken broth, watered down juice, whatever they’ll drink to keep hydrated
    Vapor Rub (goes on feet at night, under socks)
    New books, games, TV, anything to distract them

When you feel yourself starting to get sick, get your nest ready. You may need or want to be sequestered away from others to avoid spreading contagion, or just to avoid their horrified grimaces when they see you wandering the house with tissues stuffed up your nose, moaning quietly.

Nest requirements:
Darkness, blessed darkness
Quiet, thrice blessed quiet
Comfy temperature
Chargers in place for required devices
Books
Tissues
Trashcan (for tissues or vomit, depending on your illness)
More books
Medicine
Comfy bathrobe for wandering the house in, while moaning quietly
Journal and pen to capture your last words

You can also prepare by either keeping some things on hand: canned soup, soup fixin’s, or make and freeze soup in advance, in small containers. Having food basically ready to pour in your mouth when you feel like death is a solid option makes illness so much easier. Your body needs fuel to fight off a virus, so help it out with lots of fluids, nutrients, and sleep. You can make big batches of soup while you’re feeling well, then freeze it so it’s ready when you or a friend need it.

It’s hard to deal with sick kids when they’re too young to get the effective medicines, like decongestant. For congestion, take your little one into a hot shower, and get the bathroom nice and steamy. You can also use a humidifier if you have one. We also put a couple folded towels under one end of Nacho’s crib mattress so he slept a little bot propped up; this seems to help him breath easier while sleeping. We’d heard the Vapor Rub on the feet thing before, but finally tried it. It seemed to possibly help, but he could have been healing on his own at that point, so it’s hard to tell. We also save TV for a treat, so during the worst of it we let him watch a solid hour of TV. He was so fixated, I was able to sneak some chicken soup into him.

Also remember, antibiotics will do NOTHING for a cold virus. AntiBIOTICS fight BACTERIA. AntiVIRALS fight VIRUSES. Don’t pester your doctor for antibiotics that will do literally nothing to make you better, and can lead to more problems down the road. That’s like asking for an antidote to poison when you got hit by a car. It’s not going to fix the problem you have.

Being sick sucks, so make it suck a little less by being prepared.

June 15, 2015. Tags: , , , . Baby Stuff, House Stuff. Leave a comment.

Starting Solid Foods – Allergy Advice

When you have that pediatrician appointment where the doctor finally okays starting solid foods, you know your baby is on the way to toddler-hood. It’s great, but also a sign of how quickly time passes with these adorable little munchkins. My son, Nacho, is just over a year old now, so I thought I’d post a bit of advice on this topic before I forget everything due to sleep deprivation.

Nacho has a ton of food allergies, which were a complete surprise, as there are very few in my family. So here’s my advice from a food-allergy perspective:

1) Before trying any foods, have children’s Benadryl on hand, just in case. Ask your pediatrician for the appropriate dose in case of a reaction.

2) At the doctor’s appointment, ask the pediatrician to review warning signs of an allergic reaction with you.

3) A new study just came out about preventing peanut allergies in the first year of your child’s life. I’m not a doctor, and reading articles on the internet is no substitute for personalized medical advice, so ask your pediatrician about this also.

4) Keep a baby food diary. You may already be tracking stuff like milk intake, poopie diapers, and whatnot, so start recording your baby’s foods also. Personally, I don’t worry about the amounts, just the items. And record each food your baby has every day. It can take several exposures for a food allergy to show up. Nacho had had eggs 3 times before he exploded everywhere, and I was fortunate to have children’s Benadryl on hand.

5) Have the number to a 24 hour nurse phone line programmed into your phone. This is useful for all kinds of things, not just food allergies. Your doctor’s office or health insurance may offer this service, so check with them first.

6) I’ve read that when you first start baby foods, you should start with a green vegetable. This supposedly helps prevent picky eating later in life by exposing them to different tastes early on. I don’t know how true this is, but we did this with Nacho, and he is a very good eater. There’s pretty much nothing he won’t eat, other than the many foods that try to kill him.

7) It’s incredibly easy to make your own baby food, and it’s insanely cheaper than buying store bought. That way you know exactly what goes into it. We were gifted a box of baby food, and had to pass about half of it off to a friend due to allergens. And it wasn’t anything obvious! There were pears in something like a beef and veggie dinner. Pears! So be sure to read all ingredients on everything.

There are plenty of articles online about how to get your kids to like and eat food. This article is the one I wish I’d had to warn me about food allergies. Keep in mind, not all food allergies are life-threatening. I do NOT want to add more stress for anyone! It’s just something to keep in mind when starting foods for the first time. Hopefully, you’ll never have to open that little bottle of Benadryl, and can pass it on to someone else. In the meantime, it will be comforting to know it’s available in an emergency.

March 20, 2015. Tags: , . Baby Stuff. 2 comments.

DIY Toddler Food

Once your kid can start feeding him or herself, there are a million pre-packaged, expensive foods you could buy. If you’re awesome and frugal like me you think “Surely, there have to be convenience foods I can feed this kid that don’t cost as much as lobster, ounce for ounce”. You’d be right! I have a few things I keep on hand or pre-make so I can hand food to Baby Nacho immediately, without spending a bunch of time cooking and whatnot.

1) Canned meats – Canned chicken is soft and chewable. It apparently tastes great, because my son goes crazy for it. It’s like those baby hot dogs, but cheaper, and less odorous. Canned salmon is great too. You can mix it in with veggies, a mashed avocado, olive oil, or mayo (if your kid isn’t allergic to eggs, which mine is).

2) Canned Fruit – mandarin oranges are a HUGE hit with my munchkin. Canned mangoes are a little mushy for self-feeding, but they’re fine to blend into other foods.

3) Cottage cheese – this and yogurt are wildly popular in my house. Once your kiddo can chew stuff, this is so easy to just pop open and shove in their tiny mouths.

4) Cereal – obviously a childhood staple. We have a hard time with this one, because Nacho has dozens of food allergies, so we tend to avoid normal boxed cereal. When you’re just starting out with self-feeding, those little baby puffs that dissolve are indispensable. I have yet to find a cheaper substitute. Now that mine can chew, he gets cornflakes occasionally.

5) Oatmeal – stores in the pantry forever. Just get the big canister and you can use it in overnight oats, or mix it with fruit or veggies for added fiber. You can even pre-cook some and store it in the freezer for later.

6) Puffs – Baby puffs are awesome, as I said, but pricey! Once your little one can actually crunch some snacks, and doesn’t need the dissolving kind, Pirate’s Booty is a cheaper substitute. It’s still not cheap, but my son freaking loves it (as do I). It comes in several flavors, but your kid probably needs a few teeth for this one to be feasible.

7) Cheese – small chunks of cheese are easy. You can even leave them out to warm up a bit to make it even softer.

8) Fresh fruit – really ripe bananas, peeled pears, peaches, and kiwis are great. Really any fruit that is pretty soft.

9) Bread, pasta, etc – Unfortunately, with my kiddo’s allergies, most carbs are off the table, literally. Bread, dried pasta, and tortillas can all be kept in the pantry, ready to be torn into little pieces for little hands. We do use corn tortillas, and some rice pasta.

10) Canned beans – these are great to keep on hand to add some fiber and variety to baby’s diet. Don’t go overboard unless you want to fog your house with toxic baby farts.

11) Food pouches – these are more expensive than regular baby food, usually, but I found them in another part of the store for about half the price! On the fruit aisle with the applesauce instead of getting them in the baby aisle. Also, applesauce is cheaper than buying apples and blending them up, FYI. Food pouches are so great for traveling. I keep a couple in the diaper bag as emergency back up food in case we’re out longer than I expect, or I fail to bring adequate supplies. We only use these for running around town and such, not for daily eating; they’re still too pricey for that.

12) Food dots – this came up on my facebook, so I don’t have an original blog post to give credit to (and I’m not sure there is one). If anyone has a link, please let me know so I can give credit. I haven’t tried this yet, but you can bet I’m going to!

food dots food dot instructions

If you have an idea for a self-feeding food, but aren’t sure, test it by mushing it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue. This is a great test for feeding your kiddo from your plate (which is all they will ever want). As always, if you’re cooking for yourself, you can make extra for the bambino, and just cook it a little longer, until you reach that easy-to-mush state. For this post I just wanted to focus on what you can keep on hand for those “oh-no-the-kid-is-hungry-right-this-second-but-I-just-walked-in-the-door-and-haven’t-even-set-my-stuff-down-where-are-my-keys-am-I-losing-my-mind-I-swear-I-just-had-them-great-now-the-dog-is-barking-too-what-is-happening-to-my-life” moments.

March 3, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Baby Stuff. 2 comments.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I was goofing around on the internet, and I realized I was searching for something. Something beautiful, and deep, meaningful and profound. And I thought, “I should create content like that! I will do some artwork!” So of course that made me think of the burning hatred I have for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Non-parents probably don’t have this level of passion when it comes to children’s books. They probably glance at them fondly at the store saying “Oh, I remember this! I love that book”, then they set it down, never to be opened again. I have an adorable little spawn, however, and I read several books to him every night. Even though we own about 30 books or so, there is a LOT of repetition, so minor annoyances in books become crimes against humanity. What’s wrong with the Very Hungry Caterpillar? Take a look:

very hungry caterpillar butterfly

The wings are UPSIDE DOWN. Are you kidding me?? Have you ever seen a butterfly like this? No, because it would die.

real butterfly
This is a real butterfly. Not enough evidence for you? Do a Google search. I’ll wait.

 

SEE?? WHY. WHY DID ERIC CARLE DO THIS TO MEEEEE.

 

So here is my contribution to the wonder, beauty, and excitement of the world; something parents everywhere have been begging for since 1969:

very hungry caterpillar fixed
Using my meager skills and MS Paint I was able to accomplish this wonder. Sure, the antennas got cut off, and the butterfly now has two legs growing out of his back, but this is a vast improvement. Feel free to print it out and glue it into your copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Maybe I can save a few people from rage aneurysms. I know I feel better just looking at this.

January 30, 2015. Tags: , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Book Reviews, Random typing. 10 comments.

DIY Onesie Extender

On my previous post about altering baby clothes, the most common comment I got was “You know there are these things called onesie extenders, right?” Yes, yes I do. Remember how I told you to keep your onesie scraps for a mystery project? Well here it is! DIY onesie extender!

 

clothes

Take the scraps from your onesie-turned-t-shirt, and pin them together. Make sure you pin it so the snap parts are facing the right direction, and will actually snap onto a onesie.

DSCN8099
I simply trimmed off a little extra, folded the raw edges under, and sewed it together. It’s a little wide, and round, but it doesn’t really matter. I made another one later that came out much nicer, now I have two!

DSCN8105

As you can see, my son is now enjoying an outfit he’d grown out of! He looks terrified, but that’s because the camera makes crazy lights and noises he can’t understand, yet.

DSCN8109

So with these two tiny sewing projects, you gain another baby t-shirt, and a way to make several outfits last longer. Pretty damn clever, if I do say so myself!

October 5, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Baby Stuff. 2 comments.

Altering Baby Clothes

clothes2

Kids have an annoying tendency to grow out of things before they wear them out. My sweet baby Nacho is no different. He had these two adorable pirate onesies:

DSCN8068
And of course he outgrew them. But they’re so cute! So we’re going to alter one of these into a t-shirt! I opted to use the longer one for this, so there’s enough fabric to roll up and hem.

DSCN8080
Cut the onesie as low as you can, as shown above. Retain the pieces for an upcoming mystery project! Now roll the extra fabric up as little as possible so you can hem it. You want to leave as much fabric as possible for the t-shirt, but you need to cover up that raw edge so it doesn’t unravel.

DSCN8085
Once you have everything pinned in place, just sew the hem down. I did it by hand since my sewing machine has forsaken me, and it didn’t take much time at all.

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And now your little rugrat can look awesome for another few weeks, until his next growth spurt!

DSCN8090

October 3, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Baby Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 3 comments.

Baby Costume Ideas

Yes it’s ALREADY OCTOBER. I know you’ve probably become inoculated to the sight of Halloween candy at your grocery store, since it’s been out since March, but seriously, October is happening RIGHT NOW. For real, go look at a calendar. See?? I told you. If you happen to have a baby who’s too small to voice an opinion on costume choice, take advantage of it and do what you want. Next year you’ll be acquiring parts for a ballerina princess veterinarian costume, so enjoy your current freedom.

You probably want a cool costume, and I have a few great ones that require a baby as an accessory:

Sarah and Toby from Labyrinth

sarababysit
All the baby needs is a striped romper for a costume! Easy peasy. This costume is the height of 80’s nostalgia, which makes it automatically awesome. Mom’s costume as Sarah is fairly easily built from thrift store finds. If Dad wants to be Jareth however…

bowieandbaby
…that’s going to take a bit more dedication. Maybe Dad can be Sir Didymus.

Let’s stick with the 80’s since they have the best movies. Yes, the best. Of all time. Ghostbusters 2!! Dana has baby Oscar, who again, wears a very simple outfit:

oscar ghostbusters

A yellow romper. Super simple to recreate. Dad can be Venkman and Mom can be Dana. Or…

janine ghostbusters

Janine and Louis babysit little Oscar, and look at the awesome outfits they wear while doing so! If I ever find a dress like that, I swear I will dress as Janine, even if I’m 90 years old. And that sweater-turtleneck combo is not too shabby, Dads. I’m sure you can find all this gear at a thrift store near you.

If you want to be more up-to-date, I still have an idea for you:

seamus

It’s the wee baby Seamus! Any baby with the name “Archer” written on his shoulder is instantly in costume. Otherwise, he just wears a blue romper! Simple! And then you can be any of the cast from Archer! That gives both Mom and Dad a wide range of choices.

I just realized all of these are for boy babies, which is what I have, which probably explains why my brain went that direction. My bad.

All babies can be animals, though. Crawling babies are perfect for things like turtles, alligators, beavers, echidnas, wolverines, basically anything that walks on four legs. Try to be creative. If your baby is toddling around, consider a monkey or velociraptor costume. If your baby is still young, and doesn’t move much, I think a potato or burrito costume would be hilarious. Try to think outside the typical pumpkin costumes that infest Google and Pinterest. Just remember to have fun, and make sure you get your way, since you won’t for the next dozen years.

October 1, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Nerd Stuff. 2 comments.

DIY Baby Food

baby food

Making your own baby food is super cheap and easy. Before my son started eating solids, I started squirreling away food for him in the freezer. Basically you take a food, run it through a blender or food processor until it’s smooth, then store it until you feed it to a baby. It’s seriously that easy. I do have a few hints and tricks to make it even easier. I mean, of course I do. I couldn’t call myself That Clever Chick if I didn’t, could I? Well, not without shame.

Cooking:

To start off, you want to keep each food completely separate from everything else, meaning no apple banana blends until you make sure the kiddo doesn’t have a food sensitivity. I’m sure you’ve read all about this in your baby books, so I’m not going to go into exhaustive detail. So the first ingredients in your baby food will be just the food and probably some water.

I never peeled anything, like apples or pears, that I would normally eat the peel on. I did cook these things, rather than just blending them up raw, at least at first. Bananas don’t need to be cooked, but I think everything else should be. You can steam, boil, or bake your foods. For apples and pears, I cut them up into chunks and put them in a glass baking dish with some water. I put this in the oven at 350 until they were mushy. Wait until it cools to run it through the blender.

For first foods, whatever you’re making for the baby, you basically cook it until it’s mushy and will blend easily. So instead of steaming broccoli until it’s still crisp, let it keep going until it falls apart when you push on it. Once the baby gets a little older and is ready for more textured food, you can cook it a little less. Eventually you can just mash up what you’re having for dinner, and skip the blender altogether.

Tips:

Make extra of whatever you’re eating. Are you making broccoli for yourself? Make extra (without any spices or seasoning) for the baby.

Once you have the blender or food processor out, make several things at once. You can microwave a sweet potato, or just blend up some raw bananas if you don’t have anything else prepared for your little munchkin.

Rinse the container out in between batches until you’ve established what foods your baby is not allergic to. After that, run them through starting with safe foods, and ending with new foods. So you know your baby can have bananas just fine, but haven’t tried peas yet? Blend the bananas first, store them, and rinse the blender. Now when you run the peas through, if there’s a tiny bit of banana residue left behind, it’s no big deal.

Something too runny? Add a little baby cereal to thicken it up.

Too chunky? Try adding water, then blending it some more. Still not working? Run it through the microwave a bit to cook those stubborn bits.

Need ideas? Check out the baby foods at the store. They have quinoa and stuff in them! You bet I made some quinoa for my kiddo. I mix it in with fruit or veggies to add protein, and he loves it.

Storing:

I used normal ice cube trays to freeze the baby food into small, ~1 ounce portions. Once these were frozen, I popped them out and stored them in freezer bags. The food cubes fit into baby food jars, so you can just grab one, pop it into a jar, and then store it in the fridge or put it on the counter to thaw. They’re so small, they thaw pretty quickly. I got baby food jars from a friend who bought her baby food, but you could also buy your first few jars. You can also use Tupperware. Nothing says you have to feed your baby out of those classic glass jars.

Note: If you’re going to make baby prunes, soak them until they’re soft first. I destroyed my old food processor trying to blend them up too enthusiastically. Also, they DO NOT pop out of ice cube trays, so when making prunes, freeze them in small, individual containers. They stay sticky and never freeze solid. I haven’t tried other dried fruits, but I would take the same precautions with them.

 

I hope you’ll try this. It seems like there’s some special process Gerber goes through to make their baby food, but there really isn’t. Making your own is surprisingly easy, and cost effective. By my rough estimation, homemade costs half as much as store bought, if not less. Think of all the toys you can buy with the savings! Or something boring, like college savings.

September 29, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

Book Review: Sh*tty Mom

*WARNING: Swearing ensues (Grandmas have been warned)*

I was at the library recently, looking for baby sleep books (I’ll let you know if I find anything worthwhile), and I stumbled across “Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us”. Of course I had to grab it.

This book is a quick read, and hilarious the whole way through. Even while caring for my son, it only took me 2-3 days to read. The humor starts immediately, with chapter 1: “Road Trip with Your Kids: Multiply How Bad You Think It Will Be by a Thousand, Then Add Ten Million”. Here are a couple excerpts:

YOU ARE NO PRIZE.

Good God woman, look at yourself. Or better yet, rent Sweeney Todd and check out Helena Bonham Carter. Cause that’s you. Ratty hair, crazy eyes, making questionable food choices. Now think of your poor baby. She spends all day staring at you, wondering if this is how she’s going to look when she grows up. Of course she is crying.
Your baby needs to see how rested adults behave. If she goes only by you, she’ll think it’s normal to shout, “I can’t do this anymore!” and storm out of the house to sit in the car and eat cheese.
Knowing you aren’t the only kind of person on Earth gives your baby a ray of hope.

This one struck close to home, because my baby is named Nacho. It’s an unusual name, I know, but we think it fits him.

How to Tell When Your Friends Are Pretending They Like Your Baby’s Name

You went your own way with the baby’s name. You picked a name that you’re pretty sure no one else will touch. You like it, your husband likes it, and that’s all that matters. Besides, if first names were destiny, Condoleezza Rice would have been a stripper.
Back to your friend. Perhaps she is old-fashioned – raised to be a Jacob Mom or an Emily Mom. Your name has taken her by surprise.
She will ask you to spell it. This is a stalling technique. She really wants to say, “Uh, what the fuck did you just say?” Spellcheck is a gentle way for her to confirm that, yes, your son’s name is Z-e-p-h-y-r.
She may ask, “How did you come up with that?” She is giving you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was a family name. In fact, before you answer, she’ll suggest that very thing, and her voice will trail upwards: “Sounds like a family name…?”
Your response. “It is, now,” will not help her.

Those are just the two parts that were short enough for me to overcome my laziness to type out. The entire book had me cracking up and reading parts out loud to Hubby. Even non-parents will be able to laugh and enjoy some good, old-fashioned schadenfreude.

It does have a lot of strong language (which should be self-evident), so if that kind of thing bothers you, you should probably toughen up. We’re all grown ups. I go to work, vote, pay my taxes, and balance my check book. Swearing and drinking are a couple of the adult privileges that cancel out the boring crap, and I intend to take full advantage of them.

I’ve provided the Amazon link above, or just pick it up at the library, like I did. It’s absolutely worth the read. It gets the Clever Chick Thumbs Up!

 

August 11, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , . Baby Stuff, Book Reviews. 2 comments.

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