Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baby Fact Sheet 9-12 months

When I was pregnant I read everything I could get my hands on about a) being pregnant, b) the birth process, and c) the early stages of infancy, so that I would be prepared.  After giving birth I read (and still read) everything I can get my hands on about a) what to expect at various stages, b) "how to" books (for raising happy/well-adjusted/green children), c) nutrition books for babies/toddlers, and d) various parenting magazines I've received, mostly for free.

I started jotting down important tidbits, tearing sheets from the magazines, compiling all of the information I thought pertinent to raising a wee one.  And being a list-maker and an organizer, I made these "fact sheets" by age, so that when my baby reached the target age I could pull it out and re-read all the information that I had collected relevant to that age.

By no means am I an expert on parenting, but much of this came from experts through my reading/research.  Take it or leave it, but I thought since I'd compiled it I'd share it.  On that note - if anyone has information they feel is important, I'd love for you to share it in the comments section!

I am copying this from a word document - if you decide to use it, you could simply paste it back into one and print it (plus the following sheets for various ages).


  • Once baby can pull up, he’s ready for a sturdy push toy.

  • Encourage pointing – do it yourself, and hold up objects asking baby which one she wants.  When does point, encourage it.  Point to pictures in books.

  • Start adding “please” and “thank you” to your vocabulary with baby.

  • Don’t always do for baby – teach her to think/act for herself.

  • Needs interactions with variety of other people.  Can be adults or other kids.  Play groups are good.

  • Starts to understand spoken words – narrate everything!

Ideas for play-

  • Play peek-a-boo, and hide objects beneath things.

  • Collect many objects and group them by color, size, shape, etc., explaining what you are doing.

  • Have a treasure box – cardboard box with 4-5 toys inside, baby learns to look inside for toys.  Change toys out periodically.

  • Rotate toys to keep them interesting, never have too many out at once or loses interest.

  • Tie object to string – baby must pull string to bring toy closer.

  • Put object on blanket – baby must pull blanket to get toy.

  • Tell baby to go get a particular object – when does, praise.

  • Play “which hand is it in?”

  • Songs: Hickory Dickory Dock, Row Your Boat, Itsy Bitsy Spider, POP Goes the Weasel (pull up by hands on POP until begins to anticipate and jump), Ring Around the Rosy

  • Roll balls back and forth

  • Scatter musical toys about and have a band

  • Finger paint on high chair tray with yogurt, etc.

  • Bubble bath

  • Blow bubbles in tub

  • Stash a toy that plays music out of sight, have him find it

  • Construct a block tower for baby to knock down

  • Encourage to bang blocks together, clap etc.

  • Act very happy/excited when baby does something to encourage it


  • Until 9 months, may go 3 hours between naps.  By 9 months may only need 2 naps (but may then need to go to bed earlier at night).

  • Should sleep 14-15 hours/day

  • May start to test you – “If I pop up in crib, they’ll come get me.”  Consistently give a quick hug and put back down so baby learns to soothe self.

  • Introduce a lovey, to help with separation from you.  Use it when cuddling, reading, nursing, then put in bed with baby (something not too plush can smother on).

  • Continue with the EASY routine (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time) – may go through 3-4 times/day.


  • Allow baby to try to feed self/hold food.

  • Introduce a spoon – let baby feed self first few bites- guide spoon to food and fill, then let baby find his own mouth.  Give an extra spoon to hold while you feed with other spoon.  (Closer to 12 months)

  • Make some meals out of finger foods as gets better with feeding self.

  • Should be nursing 3-5 times/day and giving 3 meals/day.

  • DurhamUniversityinUKshowed the longer a mammal nurses, the bigger its baby’s brain grows.  Ideal to nurse beyond year 1.


  • Once can brush teeth, use a soft toddler brush with water or a pea-sized drop of non-flouridated toothpaste.

  • Can use a soft toothbrush as a teether – helps clean teeth!

  • Keep floors clean (vacuum/sweep).  Dust regularly, allow to settle, then vacuum.

  • Keep choking hazards off floor.

  • Air out house regularly.

  • Ask doctor – need to add any vitamins?

  • Have an eye exam by age 1 (between 6-12 months) by an InfantSEE doc.

  • Visit dentist by age 1.

  • If haven’t already – ditch pacifier.  Sooner is better, but at least by age 1.

  • Don’t medicate a cold in babies/kids under 4 years old – keep the nose clear with a bulb syringe/nasal suction, steam, saline solution, honey (once 1 year old), and vapor rub.

  • Should be screened for anemia by 12 months of age.


  • Don’t put on shoes until walking outside.

  • Will probably show a close attachment to only 1 parent at a time.

  • Discipline – “training which corrects, molds, strengthens or perfects”; it is not punishment, or control gained by forcing obedience or order


By 9 months, baby may sit without support and crawl on hands and knees.  Will begin to imitate sounds such as mama and bye-bye.

By 10 months learns the meaning of the word “no”, but don’t overuse.  May learn to wave goodbye.

By 11 months, start daily baths – good pre-bed ritual if want to add to that routine.

By 12 months baby may pull up to a standing position, and finger-feed himself solid foods.  Temper tantrums may begin.  Remain calm and in control.  Save forceful discipline for behavior that’s potentially dangerous or interferes with other people.  Never reward bad behavior.

Many grocery stores offer a free “smash cake” for 1 year birthday.  (Albertson’s does)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Baby Fact Sheet 5-8 months

When I was pregnant I read everything I could get my hands on about a) being pregnant, b) the birth process, and c) the early stages of infancy, so that I would be prepared.  After giving birth I read (and still read) everything I can get my hands on about a) what to expect at various stages, b) "how to" books (for raising happy/well-adjusted/green children), c) nutrition books for babies/toddlers, and d) various parenting magazines I've received, mostly for free.

I started jotting down important tidbits, tearing sheets from the magazines, compiling all of the information I thought pertinent to raising a wee one.  And being a list-maker and an organizer, I made these "fact sheets" by age, so that when my baby reached the target age I could pull it out and re-read all the information that I had collected relevant to that age.

By no means am I an expert on parenting, but much of this came from experts through my reading/research.  Take it or leave it, but I thought since I'd compiled it I'd share it.  On that note - if anyone has information they feel is important, I'd love for you to share it in the comments section!

I am copying this from a word document - if you decide to use it, you could simply paste it back into one and print it (plus the following sheets for various ages).

BABYPROOFING – should do now or soon!

  • Cover all outlets.

  • Move dangerous items from low cabinets up high.  Lock any cabinets don’t want baby to access.

  • Secure heavy furniture over 3 feet tall.

  • Cover exposed cords.

  • Implement baby gates where needed.

  • Move potted plants out of baby’s reach.

  • Careful with stove – cover burners/knobs, careful with pot handles and knives.

  • Store trashcan out of reach.

  • Keep dishwasher securely closed.

  • Make a baby safe zone in kitchen where he can play while you work.

  • Keep floors clean (vacuum/sweep) and debris-free (from choking hazards).

  • Once baby can push up on all fours, remove mobile from crib.

  • If baby starts chewing on crib rail, turn it into a teether (phthalate-free Prince Lionheart Crib Rail Teether).

  • Once bathing in tub, make sure it has a faucet cover.  Lower your water temperature to 120 degrees.

  • Once walking, lock all doors leading outside (knob covers).  Put knob covers on bathroom doors to keep baby out.  Lock toilet lids.


  • Stroller rides are enjoyable for baby – she can be propped up in a seated position by now.  Should face you in stroller.

  • Once can sit up on own, can implement exersaucer/walker (though many do not recommend walkers).

  • Don’t hover – let baby explore independently (but keep an eye on once baby is mobile!).

  • When baby “talks”, imitate her.

  • Baby will put everything in her mouth – this is how he learns!  Just make sure hazardous items (can fit through toilet paper tube) are out of reach.

  • Your house is baby’s laboratory in which to learn and experiment – enrich it!

  • It is important that baby interacts with other people besides mom and dad – can be adults.

  • Should have several hours/day outside of crib, playpen and high chair to explore – give lots of floor time.

  • Needs ordinary, unstructured play for healthy brain development, confidence and self-reliance.

  • A routine is comforting to baby.  Try to implement a daily schedule, such as “eat – activity – sleep”, repeat.

  • Always go to baby when she cries, up through 6 months old.

Ideas for play-

  • Show baby an object, have it disappear into your closed hand then reappear

  • Hide toys under blankets/containers and ask “Where did it go?”

  • Make a block tower and knock it down

  • Sort blocks by color/size and explain what you’re doing

  • Play with balls – throw them, roll them back and forth

  • Sit face-to-face and name sounds: “What does a bird say?  How does a car sound?”

  • If baby makes a noise, reward him by repeating it

  • Pretend to go to sleep (announce it first) then wake up

  • In the bath tub, give baby cups, spoons, sponges, etc to play with

  • Shine a flashlight on the floor a few inches away – encourage baby to move towards

  • Play outside!  Gather leaves, pinecones, etc.

  • Sit baby in front of a pail/container and several toys – encourage to put toys in pails

  • Give plenty of tummy time – lay on your belly across from baby a few inches apart, get his attention, do a push-up, encouraging baby to lift her head to watch you – builds neck/upper body strength

  • Attach bells/rattles to a stuffed animal and use a string to attach it across the top of crib so it dangles – make it too high for baby to reach with hands but low enough to reach with feet – when baby kicks it it makes noise.  Move slightly to left or right to encourage use of both feet

  • Play “peek-a-boo”, “pat-a-cake”, and “this little piggy”

  • Let experiment with objects of different shapes, sizes, colors and textures – balls, blocks, cups, wooden spoons, pots and pans, etc.

  • Tickle, give zerberts – make her laugh!

  • Pay music and dance or bounce on knee to the beat – encourage baby to move to music

  • Encourage to play with drums, xylophones, etc.


  • Should be napping every 2 hours, 3-4/day for first 6 months.

  • From 6-8 months, may begin to go 3 hours between naps; may take 2-3 naps, 45 mins to 2 hours each.

  • Should not always be napping on the go, but in crib.

  • If haven’t already implemented, read to baby every night before bed as part of sleep routine.

  • Should sleep 14-15 hours/day.

  • ONLY give pacifier when lay down for nap/at night.  Take away when up and active/during the day.

  • Continue striving for this pattern in each day: EASY – Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time (may go through this routine 4-5 times/day).


  • Introduce solid foods at 6 months (see “feeding” handout).  Aim for 1 – 3 meals a day (by 8 mos.).

  • Should be nursing 5-8 times/day (every 2-4 hours).

  • Until 6 mos. May not be able to go all night without eating.  At 6 mos., gradually decrease the amount/frequency of night feedings to encourage to eat more during the day.


  • Don’t put shoes on baby until walking outside.

  • Try to wean off pacifier by 4-5 months.

  • Good teethers: clean wet washcloth/terrycloth toy in fridge/freezer, hard wood item, soft plastic teething ring (free of BPA, phthalates, or DBT), carrot (before have teeth and can bit pieces off)


  • When teeth appear – wipe over them with damp cloth before bed until baby can brush.

  • Keep floors clean (vacuum/sweep).  Dust regularly, allow to settle, then vacuum.

  • Keep choking hazards off floor.

  • Air out house regularly.

  • Ask doc – need to introduce iron into diet?

  • If no fluoride in our water, may need supplement at 6 months.

  • Don’t medicate a cold in babies/kids under 4 years old – keep the nose clear with a bulb syringe/nasal suction, steam, saline solution, honey (once 1 year old), and vapor rub.

  • Breastfed babies should be given 1 mg or iron/day for every 2 pounds baby weighs.

  • Get more serious about tummy time – aim for 30 minutes/day.


By end of month 5 should be twice her birth weight and gain 1 pound/month from here on until 1 year old.

By month 6 may begin to creep/crawl around on the floor.  By the end of the month may be able to sit on own.  Start to use mirrors in play – baby becomes self-aware.  Starts to develop independence – let struggle a little, while trying to reach a toy for example.  Don’t be too quick to do everything for her, let learn on own.  Starts to pick up on your tone, gestures, friendly vs. unfriendly, etc. – be careful what you say and what interactions he sees!  Baby should babble when alone, and should be reaching for objects.

At 7 months, introduce water in a sippy cup.  Use cups with straws instead of spouts (for better oral development).

At 8 months baby may start trying to pull up/stand – allow him to practice.  Starts to get into things, have accidents.  Punishment is not effective (baby is too young).  Reward positive but not negative behavior (if screams, ignore and don’t pick up until he stops).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

War Damn Tide/Roll Damn Eagle

Two nights ago, as my husband was participating in his nightly ritual of ESPN devouring on the couch, I actually became interested in the show (for once.  In my life.)

They were portraying the rivalry between Auburn University (my alma mater) and the University of Alabama (demon elephant lovers) and suggesting it was absurdly out of control.  What?  What do these people know?  It's good old fashioned football rivalry fun, that's all!  They obviously aren't from the south and don't know how fun tailgating on the lawn five, four, three, two, one day before the game is, sipping ice cold beers under the warm (okay, scorching) Alabama sun, waving to all those go-getter youngsters, eager to earn their Auburn degree in order to go out and change the world, as they walk to class, weaving between Winnebagos and fifth wheels, making their journey to animal physiology lab three times as long.  I mean, come one, what else could you possibly have to do between the days of Wednesday and Sunday during the months of September, October and November?  Sheesh - these people just don't KNOW.

Enter Mr. Harvey Updyke, Jr.  Die-hard, obsessed, over-the-top Alabama fan, who (and this is no joke) named his children Bear and Crimson Tyde.  He was so raging mad lunatic over the fact that someone put a "Scam Newton" football jersey on his beloved Bear Bryant statue that he decided he'd show those Auburn fans once and for good.

Oh yes sir-ree, he was going to kill those damn trees on Toomer's Corner - ya know, those ones they roll with dat der toilet paper after winnin' a game?  Yes, the delightfully fond (albeit environmentally unfriendly) tradition Auburn fans have of rolling the Live Oak trees outside of Toomer's Drug Store after a big win with toilet paper was destined to be a thing of the past, by golly.  I mean, how dare they defame the almighty Bear Bryant by slipping a - gasp - removable football jersey over him in jest?  It was only fair that the century-old trees were killed - for good - in retaliation.

And then do you know what the stupid SOB did?  He bragged about it.  It wasn't good enough to gain satisfaction from knowing he'd ended a decades old tradition that many Auburn fans probably cried their eyes out over, he wanted everyone to know he'd done it.  And not just his drinking buddies, his cousins, his best friend.  Oh no - EVERYONE.  He called into the Paul Finebaum Radio Network and bragged about it.

Then, do you know what?  He got arrested for it.  And then he denied doing it.  And then the trees started dying.  Hmmmm - odd coincidence.  The verdict is still out over what will become of Mr. Harvey Updyke, Jr., or whether the trees will survive the dose of pesticides that has now leaked over 20 feet in diameter around their base.  But, he did call into Mr. Finebaum's show again - to "apologize".  "I just want to tell the Auburn people that I'm truly sorry for all the damage I've done," he said in the call. "I'm not asking for sympathy. All I'm asking is forgiveness. I want the people that's Christians to understand I've done a lot of good in my life. I've never intentionally hurt anybody ... until this."  (Mind you, he is NOT apologizing for poisoning the trees.  Oh no, that he still denies.  He is sorry that he's become an overnight sensation that people hate and loathe and hold up as the epitome of stupid.  He's embarrassed, is what it is.)  And then, before hanging up, he had to get in one final quip: "I know this is going to make a lot of people mad, but I just have to say it.  Roll Damn Tide."  Seriously, Mr. Updyke?  You are one - classy - gentleman.

The ESPN show then veered off into the arena of the April 2011 tornadoes that killed nearly 250 Alabamians and devastated the town of Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama.  It indicated there may be some hope for this hopelessly insane rivalry, as Auburn fans traveled to help their fellow statesmen in need.  But don't get too hopeful - old habits die hard.  The show's recap indicated Updyke could get up to 20 years in prison for his actions.

"That poor old guy" my husband said.  "Twenty years over poisoning some trees.  Seriously?"

Seriously.  I hope he does.  Because I am an Auburn fan and loved those trees?  No.  I am an Auburn fan.  I do love trees.  I think it's a shame this happened.  Because - "You can't fix stupid."  Because this guy is as big an idiot as they come.  Because he has no impulse control.  Because if he can get so smokin' mad over a prank as stupid as a shirt on a statue that he can't contain himself and acts out like that, what else is he capable of?  Because - just because you were born and raised in the south, grew up thinkin' watchin' football was the best way to spend your Saturdays (or five days out of every week for three months of every year), and are DESTINED to attend either Auburn or Alabama, depending on your family's legacy, and you better not even THINK about stepping toe in the other (or any other college for that matter - Samford?  Oh, the horror!), does not give you the right to act like a complete utter moron idiot, and make everyone else from the south appear to the same to the rest of the world.

Get a life.

Oh - War Damn Eagle.  :)

This photograph was taken of a rehabilitated Bald Eagle just before he was released.  Auburn University houses a raptor rehabilitation facility which holds a near and dear spot in my heart.  This link will soon be home to a post about that.

Baby Fact Sheet 0-4 months

When I was pregnant I read everything I could get my hands on about a) being pregnant, b) the birth process, and c) the early stages of infancy, so that I would be prepared.  After giving birth I read (and still read) everything I can get my hands on about a) what to expect at various stages, b) "how to" books (for raising happy/well-adjusted/green children), c) nutrition books for babies/toddlers, and d) various parenting magazines I've received, mostly for free.

I started jotting down important tidbits, tearing sheets from the magazines, compiling all of the information I thought pertinent to raising a wee one.  And being a list-maker and an organizer, I made these "fact sheets" by age, so that when my baby reached the target age I could pull it out and re-read all the information that I had collected relevant to that age.

By no means am I an expert on parenting, but much of this came from experts through my reading/research.  Take it or leave it, but I thought since I'd compiled it I'd share it.  On that note - if anyone has information they feel is important, I'd love for you to share it in the comments section!

I am copying this from a word document - if you decide to use it, you could simply paste it back into one and print it (plus the following sheets for various ages).


  • Babies can sleep through noise – it helps them sleep more soundly later.

  • Should nap about every 2 hours.  Naps are VERY important!

  • Avoid prolonged, animated eye contact when trying to put baby down.

  • Keep the bedroom between 65-70 degrees (decreases SIDS).

  • Keep the room dark whenever it is sleep time (nap or night) and open windows/light it up when it’s time to wake up – this will help baby distinguish nights and days.

  • Give a 15 minute bedtime massage to relax.

  • Snuggle before bedtime.

  • Use a fan – circulating air reduces SIDS, and provides background noise.

  • Teach baby to fall asleep on his/her own.  Don’t rock or nurse all the way to sleep – put in bed sleepy but allow baby to fall asleep on own.

  • Don’t allow baby to get overtired before putting to bed.

  • In the morning when baby wakes, stimulate with eye contact and steady conversation – signal “the day has begun!”

  • Don’t leave baby in the crib too long in morning when wide awake – want baby to associate crib with sleep, not play.

  • If baby is sleeping for a longer period during the day than night, start waking from long daytime nap sooner and sooner in an attempt to reverse baby’s schedule.

  • Turn baby 180 degrees in crib regularly and use mobiles and hanging objects to try to get baby to lay on all sides of head so not consistently sleeping on 1 side.

  • Make a minimum of 1 nap/day a quiet nap in the crib – the others can be while out and about if needed.

  • Strive for this pattern in each day: EASY – Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time (may go through this routine several times within a day when this age).

Notes on baby massage-

  • Find a warm quiet room.  Make sure your hands are warm.  Optional – oil and background music.

  • Start with baby lying on stomach.  Gently rub your hands back and forth on each of the following areas for 1 minute/area:

1) top of head to neck

2) neck across shoulders

3) upper back to waist

4) thigh to foot on each leg

5) shoulder to hand on each arm

  • Turn baby over onto back.  Gently flex and straighten each arm and each leg while rubbing each.

  • Turn baby back over to stomach and repeat first sequence.

  • Only do as long as baby is enjoying – once baby seems irritable or frustrated, stop.


  • Practice “kangaroo care” – naked skin-on-skin snuggles a minimum of 1 hour/day, multiple times/week:

1) remove bra and wear a shirt that opens in front

2) put baby in a diaper only

3) place baby on your bare chest in an upright position, cover with shirt

4) lay back and relax! (don’t engage baby – this is rest time)

5) Dad should do too!

  • Carry baby for 3 hours/day in your arms or a sling/carrier.


  • Respond consistently and warmly to baby when he/she cries – this helps build a strong, secure attachment and independence and social skills.

  • The first 3 months of life have been referred to as “the 4th trimester” (Dr. Karp).  To soothe baby, recreate the sensations, rhythms and sounds of the uterus with the 5 S’s:

1) swaddling

2) sucking (breastfeeding or pacifier) – try to wean off pacifier by 4-5 months

3) side-lying – hold baby so laying on his/her side, with their belly/back to your belly

4) “shushing” noise

5) swinging/movement


  • Put baby to the breast ASAP.

  • Nurse every 2-3 hours, or 10-12 times in 24 hours.

  • Milk comes in at 3-5 days, then every 24 hours baby should have about 6-8 wet and 3-5 dirty diapers.

  • Allow to drain a breast – the foremilk satisfies thirst but the hindmilk is dense with calories.

  • It is best to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.  Starting solids too early has been linked to increased weight gain.

  • Once breastfeeding is established (if you are), giving baby a pacifier when he/she sleeps can reduce SIDS.


  • Newborns can only see 8-15” in front of them – make lots of eye contact and arch your eyebrows.

  • Use bright primary colors to get baby’s interest, or contrasting black and white.

  • Chit-chat to baby!  ALOT!  It builds language skills.  Think out loud, and involve baby in every topic/thought.

  • Begin reading to baby right away!  Read books slowly, be animated, and reread favorites often.  Choose simple books with word repetition.

  • Turn conversations into “songs” (melodic, sing-song talk)- make them up as you go.

  • Carry baby in your arms and walk around the house/yard, pointing out objects, sounds, smells, textures, etc.

  • Sing to baby – lullabies, melodies, your favorite song off the radio – whatever!

  • Speak another language to baby if you know it – this helps cognitive skills.

  • Playtime is very important to baby’s development.

  • Hold baby upright, your chest and belly touching with baby’s head over your shoulder, and dance to music!  Or dance with baby while you sing/hum.

  • Allow playtime in nothing but the diaper, with gentle roughhousing.

  • Give baby some tummy-time each day – be involved for some of it, and let baby play independently (under your supervision) for others.


  • Playing Mozart/classical music to baby (even for 10 minutes/day) is relaxing.

  • Children under 2 years of age should not watch TV according to the AAP – it significantly decreases language skills and negatively affects brain development.

  • The first year is THE MOST IMPORTANT for brain development.

  • Give baby a daily wipedown with a wet cloth, but only needs a bath twice/week.

  • Keep kids out of the pool until after first birthday to decrease the risk of ear/respiratory infections and diarrhea.  A rare swim is okay, but not regularly – keep from swallowing/inhaling water).

  • Don’t put shoes on baby until walking outside.

  • Use a stroller in which baby faces towards you rather than away from you – reduces anxiety.


  • Up until 3 months of age, if baby has a temperature of 100.4 or more, call the doctor.

  • From 3-6 months, call if fever is 101 or more.

  • Once over 6 months, call if fever is 103 or more.

  • Treat the baby, not the fever.  If baby is acting okay, let the fever run its course.  At 3 months of age, can treat with acetamenophin/ibuprofen.  Push fluids and use cool cloths if it doesn’t make baby cold/shiver.  Do not bundle baby, as this traps heat.

  • Don’t medicate a cold in babies/kids under 4 years old – keep the nose clear with a bulb syringe/nasal suction, steam, saline solution, honey (once 1 year old), and vapor rub.

  • Keep baby updated on vaccinations!  Much more harmful to avoid.

  • Ask your pediatrician about giving baby vitamin D drops (the AAP recommends 400 IU/day; start at 2 months) and omega-3s.

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Dust and vacuum the house often (dust, then once it settles vacuum with a HEPA vacuum).

  • Air out house regularly.

  • House plants help clean/filter the air indoors.

  • Be obsessive about germs for the first 2 months (have people wash their hands before holding, use hand sanitizers and sanitize public objects baby contacts), then relax!  Beware of sick people, but otherwise around the house no need to sanitize everything!

  • At 4 mo. well-baby visit, ask: Breastfed babies should be given 1 mg or iron/day for every 2 pounds baby weighs.

  • Move baby’s limbs through a gentle, passive workout each day – beneficial for their bones.  Once the cord falls off, start doing tummy time (may not tolerate for long at first, just do as baby will allow).

Note on vaccines-

  • Do not medicate after gets vaccinations – it has been found that babies produce fewer antibodies post-vaccine when taking acetaminophen.

  • Avoid thimerosal – still used in some flu shots.

  • Some vaccines contain preservative aluminum – may want to limit these vaccines to 1/month and delay a bit after birth.

  • If you use a delayed schedule, get the most important ones on schedule (whooping cough, meningitis, rotavirus) and delay others (hepatitis A/B, chicken pox, polio, flu).

  • Parents make sure you’re updated on your vaccines!  Get the Dtap vaccine before baby is born or soon after.

  • Avoid ProQuad (4-in-1 for MMR and varicella) and instead get them separate: 1 MMR and 1 pox.

Note on doctor visits-

  • Avoid Monday appointments (or the first day of the week the office is open) and choose the first appointment of the day or after lunch for the shortest wait times.

  • If need more than a quick in-and-out with doc, schedule a consult or extra time.

  • If there are lots of sick kids in the waiting room, wait in the hall/outside.

  • Bring your own toys and antiseptic wipes to avoid germy ones in the office.


By 2 months may follow a brightly colored object.  Should give you a fully alert, happy smile.  By the end of month 2 baby may lift head while lying on stomach.  By 6th week may sleep 6 straight hours.  Start working on introducing a nighttime routine in 7th week.  Gets a well-baby exam this month.  Should get a hearing screening if hasn’t already had one.

By 3 months may swipe at objects.  The head is less wobbly, baby can maintain a semi-seated position with help, and if you stand baby up he/she may start pushing their feet out like they are trying to bounce.  Baby can push up on his/her arms and hold her head up, and should be able to follow a moving object with his eyes.  A loud noise should startle baby.  By the end of month 3 may sleep up to 10 hours at night with occasional periods of waking.  Don’t rush in every time baby wakes – let baby learn to put self back to sleep.  Start teaching body parts and playing “This little piggy” and “Peekaboo”.  Will start chewing/biting – get teething toys!  Should have established a consistent nighttime routine by 3 months – perform it in the room where baby will sleep, and put to bed by 6:30-7:30 pm.  This should be a fixed, established bedtime until baby is 1 year of age.  If a bath is part of the bedtime routine, make it warm and soothing, and keep voices and activity low.  Should take 3-4 naps/day, 2 hours apart.  When put down for a nap, shoot for a minimum of an hour nap – if wakes before then, try to leave in crib for at least 1 hour before retrieve.  If won’t go to sleep, still try to leave for 1 hour in crib.  Can comfort during this hour, but keep activity/contact to a minimum in the hopes baby will go to sleep.  If doesn’t sleep after 1 hour, try again 2 hours later.

By 4 months may grasp objects.  By the end of the month, baby’s head may be completely under control and he/she can hold it steady.  On his/her stomach can hold the head up at a 90 degree angle, and can lift the head when lying on her/his back.  Baby is starting to roll over in one direction, can almost pull him/herself to a seated position by holding onto your fingers, and loves to be propped up in a seated position.  Baby may sleep through the night (10-11 hours) with 2-3 naps/day.  Gets a well-baby exam this month.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crockpot Veggie-Bean Soup

My mom always said, "You can't have soup in the summer!".  Well, since it's officially spring and soon will be summer, we better squeeze this one in!

2 large carrots (1 cup) diced
2 celery ribs (1/2 cup) diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 8 ounce package sliced mushrooms
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. red pepper
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
3 cups tomato juice
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
4 (15 oz.) cans beans (pinto, black, kidney, northern - drained/rinsed)
1 cup frozen/1 can whole corn

Saute first 3 ingredients in skillet.  Add mushrooms, zucchini and squash.  Add spices - saute until tender.

Put all ingredients into crockpot - cook on low for 8 hours.

15 servings, 1.5 cup each:
124 calories, 1 g fat, 2 mg iron, 0 cholesterol, 63 mg calcium, 25 g carbs, 566 mg sodium, 7.4 g protein, 7 g fiber

Monday, March 26, 2012

Do you just pitch your junk mail?

Well - at the very least I hope you recycle it?

There is more - much more - that you could be doing.

The junk mail Americans receive in one day could produce enough energy to heat 250,000 homes.  That's significant.  It's unfortunate.  You could do something about it.  Here are your options:

Write to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, 11 W 42nd St. PO Box 3861, NY, NY 10163-3861. They will stop your name from being sold to mailing list companies and reduce your junk mail up to 75%.

If you decide that you don't want to receive prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you may begin the permanent Opt-Out process online at To complete your request, you must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.

The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years.

You can also opt out of catalogs, phone books, circulars, whatever you choose, through this site.  You have to manually enter specific ones here, however.

If you receive unwanted catalogs, you can simply call or email them and ask to be removed from their mailing list.

And, a little trick I learned that has worked like a charm?  Whenever you get those credit card offers and mass marketing mailings that include a prepaid envelope inside, cram everything included within the packet, even the torn open envelope addressed to you, inside of that prepaid envelope and drop it back in the mail.  I had to do this for a good six months, but then something amazing happened...  those companies decided they were tired of paying postage twice for me and getting nothing out of me, and quit sending me junk mail!!!

Good luck!  After this you should be well on your way to reducing your impact through the amount of junk mail you receive!

How do you convince millions to buy something that's free?

Okay, so I missed World Water Day - but this is such an important message, I figured, who cares if it's a few days late???

This video, The Story of Bottled Water, is a great place to start.  [From their website: The Story of Bottled Water, released on March 22, 2010 (World Water Day) employs the Story of Stuff style to tell the story of manufactured demand—how you get Americans to buy more than half a billion bottles of water every week when it already flows from the tap. Over five minutes, the film explores the bottled water industrys attacks on tap water and its use of seductive, environmental-themed advertising to cover up the mountains of plastic waste it produces.]

Second, I urge you to read this article, Bottled versus Tap Water, to learn more about how the bottled water industry has hoodwinked many Americans into thinking their product is superior and thus should be paid for, when you have the exact same stuff free out of your tap.

Plastic Water Bottles - MorgueFile

Unfortunately, our public water systems are underfunded, while we spend countless funds on bottled water, much of which is not regulated and less safe than the tap water we all have free access to.  Imagine if the money put towards wasteful bottled water was put toward tightening regulations on our public water supply!

So, what can you do?  Go to this link.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Three Free Samples of Natural Products - Your Choice!

Check out this offer from Abe's Naturals!

All you do is pay $2 shipping (or $1.80 if you share the offer with three friends at checkout)!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Homemade Baby Food 101

I am a huge fan of both Dr. Sears and Dr. Greene.  I read a lot of Dr. Sears' books and especially relate to his attachment parenting philosophy.

I read both of Dr. Greene's books, Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green, and would highly recommend these to anyone wanting to raise their baby, well...  green!

After reading Feeding Baby Green, I decided I definitely wanted to make my own baby food.  I could choose the food - organic, fresh - and control the additives - in my case, none!  No salt, sugar, preservatives - just the good ole' food itself.  As baby got older, I experimented with seasonings, herbs, oils, etc., but felt good knowing exactly what was in every bit of food I fed her.

Beware - just because a food is labeled "organic" does not mean it is good. Pick up a package of Gerber organic baby food - the list of ingredients and additives is quite staggering.  And all of those organic baby snacks?  Make sure you pay attention to the amount of sodium, which is often astronomically high, and make sure there is not a lot of extra sugar.  Shoot for no more than 1 gram per 25 calories.  And check out my post on MSG - it's amazing how many of these things are often listed in organic baby food snacks.

So, for me, making my own baby food was a no-brainer.  AND a huge money saver.  Those tiny jars of baby food can be anywhere from .60 to $1 or more!  I could make jars and jars and jars of baby food for way less than I could buy them.  However, there were occasions I did purchase baby food - for a little variety, because we were on the road and I needed something quick and easy, etc. - and I found I really liked Earth's Best and some of the store brands (like Albertson's Wild Organic line).  Just make sure you read the ingredient list before buying.  Oh!  And, keep those jars!  I filled and refilled and am still filling those little guys with purees, diced fruit, whatever I need to throw in the diaper bag and take with me!

So - where to begin?  Well, the food processor my husband and I registered for for our wedding (and never used - one of those "Hun, don't you think we should have one of these?" decisions) got new life.  I read that manual, fired it up, and ran it nearly continually from the time my daughter was six months until around ten months.  You can buy fancy baby food making systems, but I found my Black and Decker food processor worked like a dream.  Anyway - you'll need something to puree foods, and my blender just wouldn't have cut it.

Secondly, you'll need a way to store the food you make.  I bought two of these baby food trays, and have used the heck out of them.  You can use regular ice cube trays, but I wanted something BPA free and the lids are very nice.  Suggestion - do not wash in dishwasher, as lids may become warped.  Also, in hindsight I would have purchased at least 4 trays, as I always had more puree than tray space, and had to wait for 2 trays to freeze and emtpy before I could pour in the rest of the puree.  Having only 2 trays was definitely my limiting factor.  Otherwise I could have made up the food much more quickly.

Third, you'll need some containers to store the food in.  I used zip-top freezer bags and just wrote on them with a sharpie what was inside.  I made the same foods again and again, so I rinsed out and kept the bags as I emptied them.  You could use tupperware if you prefer.  But, once the food is frozen solid in the tray, you just dump it into your chosen storage container, pop it in the freezer, and voila - homemade baby food, at your fingertips.

Now, all you need is a selection of fresh food, and let the pureeing begin!  You'll need to thin the food.  I intended on using breastmilk, but quickly learned this was not feasible, so instead purchased formula (which I also used for mixing up baby cereal).  You could use water, but I thought the formula made it much more nutritious.

I also purchased (although neither are necessary) the book The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet, which is really pretty basic but I still liked having as a guide

and a manual food mill, which I used much less than I expected or intended too (though it was nice for the occasional meal at the table that I wanted to share with her).

Strawberry White Chocolate Parfait

I had to whip up a sugar-free dessert to take to a diabetic friend's, and came up with this - delish!

1 large box regular or sugar-free white chocolate pudding
1 large box regular or sugar-free strawberry jello
1 container regular or sugar-free Cool Whip
fresh strawberries

Make the pudding and jello as the packages instruct.  Cut the jello into chunks and place into the bottom of a deep dish.  Spoon the pudding on top.  Layer some sliced strawberries.  Spread the Cool Whip on top.  Serve chilled.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cloth Diapering Set-Up

I had a friend who cloth-diapered.  She convinced me I wanted to do the same.  I've always known how terrible diapers are for the environment.  I mean, there's no decomposition of a disposable diaper, at least not in our lifetime millennium.  Okay, maybe that's a BIT of an exaggeration, but seriously it takes about 450 years for one diaper to decompose.  And do you know how many diapers one little bugger goes through in his lifetime?  Ah, the horror...

That said, there's a lot of controversy on cloth versus disposable diapers and their impact on the environment.  Many argue that with the water and energy expenditure required to clean the cloth diaps, you aren't doing a whole heck of a lot to save the environment.  So, really - unless you are interested in practicing EC (which I was NOT - letting your wee one run around naked and learning their cues before they potty, thus foregoing diapers altogether), you're bound to have an environmental impact.  You just have to do your research and decide what's best for you.  Another really appealing concept to me was, though more expensive up front, once you've purchased all you need you don't have to purchase diapers each month, saving you thousands of dollars in the long run!

So - I questioned my friend ENDLESSLY, as I was learning all the "lingo" commonly used in cloth diapering and trying to decide what all I needed to begin this adventure.  Thankfully, she obliged.  (I'm sure she was glad once I was well into it and quit needing her advice, as I began learning as I went!)

Everyone will find different things work for them.  However, this is what worked for me...

First, the diapers.  My favorites have been the bumGenius.  I ended up with an all-in-one size small through a free offer, and loved it - however, for cost-effectiveness, I opted to go with all one-sized diapers.  They grow with baby, so you can buy 1 set and use them throughout baby's diapered life, rather than having to buy a new set as baby grows.  I have a selection of a few different kinds, because when I was starting I didn't know what would be my favorite, so as I found sales I snatched them up.  Others I have include Flip (I have the stay-dry inserts and the organic inserts but you can use ANY insert, which I later bought packs of to swap in with my Flips), Econobum (which you can also use any insert with), Smartipants, and Bumwear onesize pocket.  The nice thing about the Flip/Econobums are that you can reuse the shell and just swap out the insert, if the shell is still unsoiled.  I really like these too.  I bought both, not really understanding how it all worked.  They are cheaper than the bumGenius.  If money were no issue, I'd have purchased 24 bumGenius and been done with it.  However, if I were to redo it, I probably would have purchased 12 Econobum shells and 24 inserts and just done that.  As it were, I had so many Flip covers I just used them (they are a bit nicer but more expensive than Econobums) and tucked my Econobums away, perhaps to sell, unused, one day.  These all come from the same company.  The nice thing is, for the latter two systems you can buy disposable liners for when you're on the go.

I also used cloth wipes.  I found it MUCH easier to do all reusable, as they all go in the same bin and get washed together, than having to separate disposable from reusable and have 2 discard containers to deal with for every diaper change.  I purchased 30 Imagine Flannel Wipes and 30 OsoCozy Flannel Wipes (they both fit a standard plastic wipe container so I fold them in half and stock this after each wash so they're ready to go).  The nice thing is the OsoCozy's have colored bands, so I pulled half of them out and keep them in the kitchen for use after meal clean up (they're perfect for wiping goo off of hands and faces) and the color coding allows you to keep diaper wipes separate from feeding wipes (although you'll be washing them separately, I often would dry them together so this was nice).  Once loading them back into the plastic bin, I would either lightly wet them with plain ole' water, or I've used Lusa concentrated wipe solution.  I actually prefer water, but you may find you want something more.

Soiled diapers don't take much effort.  Before baby begins solids, you simply remove them and dump them, poo and all, into a holder.  You don't have to have anything fancy.  I opted for the Hefty Touch-Lid Wastebasket 53 quart tan model 2166 for $13.  It has worked perfectly for me.  I purchased 2 liners, so that I could have 1 in the laundry and 1 clean one ready to go, to put in the pail.  The liner gets washed with the diapers.  I purchased 2 Planet Wise pail liners, which fit my pail perfectly, for $16.50 each.  I purchased a pack of pail deoderizers and placed them in the bottom of the can - I've never had much trouble with odor.

Once baby starts solids, things change a bit (literally...)

The poo will get thicker, and you'll want to discard it before putting the diaper in the pail.  Some people swear by diaper sprayers, or dunking the diaper in the toilet (yuck) - I opted for disposable liners.  There's not much to them, so I thought I could be okay with throwing away this minimal amount.  I have tried three kinds of flushable liners (Grovia, Imse Vimse, Bummis) and been happy with all of them.  You simply shake the liner into the toilet and flush, then place the diaper into the pail as you normally would.

You have to be really careful with cloth diapers about what you put on them.   PLEASE read about their care and maintenance and follow to a "T".  I've used Charlie's Soap and Country Save detergent, though there's a list of approved detergents.  ONLY USE THESE!  Also, you can't get diaper cream on them.  You should only use creams approved for use with cloth diapers, and even then take precautions to avoid getting the cream on the diapers, which doesn't easily wash away.  I bought a pack of 10 Bummis Fleece Liners so that whenever I needed to treat a rash I could place this against the cream on baby's skin to protect the cloth diaper.  I also bought a cheap pack of prefolds, and just used those with my Flip covers whenever she had a rash, rather than my good inserts.

I purchased 3 wet bags (14x14 Monkey Doodlez, 8x10 Planet Wise, Grovia cinchbag) to keep in diaper bag for when we were traveling, to have something to put soiled diapers/clothes in.

Much of what I buy for cloth diapering I go to Nicki's Diapers for - you get freebies when you order a minimum amount of stuff + free shipping on orders $75 and up.

Oh - also, often times has seconds sales - diapers that are flawed in some minor way, so they sell them at huge discounts.  I signed up for their newsletters, and bought most of my diapers through these sales.  There are also forums out there where you can get lightly used diapers (check out their FSOT category).  If you're patient, you can find cloth diapers like new for cheap.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Setting up an eco-friendly nursery

Oh, the hours I spent researching baby gear when I was pregnant!  It was overwhelming, time consuming, and at times I had to just quit and revisit it later.  Who knew, preparing for a wee one could be so...  demanding?  I had no idea until I was deep in the throes.  I mean - order up a swing, buy a pack of blankets and get the best carseat on the market, and you're good to go, right?  But the more I read - sigh, the more I read - the more educated I became on formaldehydes in the crib, PVC in the mattress, dyes in the clothes, etc. etc.  I am a FIRM believer in "ignorance is bliss" - ah, to be ignorant again!  I would find myself curled up in the bathroom, reading yet another book on greening your nursery, hoping to avoid the snarky comment from my husband - "Again?  You're reading another baby book?  You're obsessed!"  And he was right - I had become obsessed.  But, I wanted nothing but the best for my little angel-to-be!  Well, I finally pieced together a nursery I could be proud of ("nursery" is used loosely - it was a corner of our bedroom, as our baby slept in our room until she was 13 months old), so I thought in case someone else was in this same boat, I would share my findings here - take them or leave them!

Let's start with the furniture.  I was convinced I didn't need a changing table - after all, what to do with that piece of useless furniture once outgrown? - so I was looking for a nice dresser that baby could use once grown, and thought I'd outfit the top with a pad for the changing table.  I also wanted solid wood, no particle board or anything to off-gas chemicals into MY baby's room, nuh uh.  And I wanted something from sustainably grown wood.  So, a solid wood crib, that would convert to a toddler bed as baby grew, and a nice solid wood heirloom-style dresser.  I started my search.

Fast-forward weeks later.  All of my searches led to dead-ends.  Solid wood nursery sets were in the four-digits, and I couldn't afford that.  FORGET about sustainably harvested solid wood furniture - THOUSANDS of dollars.  So I started looking for formaldehyde-free pressed wood.  Ha!  Good luck finding that.  I finally resigned myself that this part of my dream just wasn't happening, and instead settled on a bargain - a three piece set, convertible crib, dresser, and changing table (and OH how glad I've been to have that changing table!) for $240.  Baby's Deluxe Nursery 101 by LaJobi.  I've been really happy with it.

Next, the mattress.  After all my research I knew I wanted an organic mattress.  Yes, they are very expensive, but worth it, considering how much time baby sleeps and thus is in contact with it.  So, I plunked down $260 for a Naturepedic No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic crib mattress.  I could feel okay about the splurge since I'd saved so much on the furniture.  (If you order it via Healthy Child Healthy World they throw in a free crib sheet).  The dimensions are 27.75 x 52 x 6 - it fits the crib I ordered perfectly.  I've been SO happy with this decision.  And since the crib converts as she grows, she can take advantage of this mattress for a long time.  Well worth it.  It is water proof and hypoallergenic.

This mattress doesn't NEED a cover, as it is waterproof, but a company rep upon my questioning said it would be cozier with a cover, so I opted to go with one.  BE CAREFUL here - waterproof mattress covers have nasty stuff in them, negating the benefit of the great mattress!  I ordered the Baby Luxe organic cotton crib mattress pad - it is non-waterproof, but soft and warm for baby.  It is 28x52, and doesn't fit the mattress great - there is quite a bit of extra fabric at the corners - but it does fit and is of good quality.  It was $26, and I've been happy with it.

I wanted to put something green in her nursery, so I checked out NASA's list of houseplants which clean the air, and bought a nice lush green plant to sit on top of her dresser near her bed.  Hey, every little bit helps, right?  It's nice to air out the house frequently when the weather is nice, but when it's not, I hope the plant helps.

I ended up with a Summer Infants Natural Basics organic musical mobile with safari animals for $30.  I suppose it's as decent as any crib mobile.  There's not much to it, but she liked to watch it.

For her changing table, I ordered 3 Summer Infant organic cotton changing pad covers, at 37x16 dimensions for $15.50.  They fit my pad well, though I've had some others not fit well at all, which is frustrating each time I put them on.  Hard to know if they'll fit what you have until you get, unfortunately.

miYim has some great organic cotton stuffed animals - we have the organic lovie blankie monkey, and a pink bunny which stay in her crib as her "lovey".  Love their quality.

I have chosen to cloth diaper my baby, and have been EXTREMELY satisfied with it.  It is easier than I'd have ever expected.  As such, diapers and accessories are a huge part of the nursery set up for me.  I will post a follow-up post just on cloth diapering, my experience, and what I've used.

I bought this adorable bird mobile from Children Inspire Design.  I love her products, and even more I love buying items that give back, as with her "one mother to another" initiative.

I hit the jackpot with this.  One of her first words was "bird", and her favorite thing about her new room, I think, was this mobile!  She LOVES to walk in and point out the birds!

The rest of the gear was mainstream brand, unfortunately, as I couldn't afford the high-end ecofriendly stuff for everything, but after hours of research here's what I ended up with (mostly after comparing reviews):

Sony 900 mhz Nursery Monitor and Receiver - $38

Fisher Price Rainforest Bouncer - $43

InStep Safari Swivel-Wheel Jogging Stroller - $100

Fisher Price Smart Stages 3-in-1 Rocker Swing - My Little Eye Collection - $100

Goldbug 2-in-1 Infant Head Support (to use with swing) - $12

Cozy Cover (to go over car seat in winter) - ??

I was happy with all purchases - many (swing/bouncy seat) have been stored away for baby #2.  The stroller is still in full use.  If you have any questions about the above items, let me know!

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

2-3 pounds sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Peel and slice potatoes into wedges.  In a bowl, combine potatoes with other ingredients and stir until coated.  Spray a baking sheet and spread potatoes on it.  Roast at 500 for 15 minutes.  Turn and roast a bit more until done.

Optional: serve with sour cream, ketchup, or honey

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Ubiquitous House Finch

YAY!  Spring is officially....  HERE!  Of course, when you live in the Great Basin desert, spring doesn't REALLY come until - well - May?  June?  Heck, there's even been snow here on the 4th of July!!!  But whatever, I won't get bogged down in the semantics - my calender says today is the start of spring, so I'll do a happy dance!  Spring is my FAVORITE season.  Well, I LOVE, love, LOVE summer, but that means I'm only one season away from fall and then soon winter.  Ugh.  Spring is just the beginning of a wondrous few months ahead (or, again, when you live here...  a very few months!) - and today is just the beginning!  Ah, the possibilities...

Anyway, in continuing my series on hanging nest boxes for birds, here are plans for House Finch boxes.  No matter where you live in the US, you probably have House Finches, so this will apply to everyone!


Schutz, Walter E.  1973.   Bird Watching, Housing and Feeding.  Milwaukee: Bruce Publishers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Martins, anyone?

Martins can be tricky.  My parents have had a house up for as long as I can remember, and never successfully attracted Martins.  Those who have them, however, love them.  Placing the house in really open areas will have better results.  Following my series on birdhouses, here are 2 plans for Martin houses.


Schutz, Walter E.  1973.   Bird Watching, Housing and Feeding.  Milwaukee: Bruce Publishers

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Creamy Cheese Capellini

1/2 pound whole-wheat capellini/linguini
2 tsp. olive oil
3 plum tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
6 ounces baby spinach (about 1/2 of a bunch)
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
1/2 tsp. salt

Cook the pasta.  Drain and reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid.  While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat, add tomatoes and garlic.  Cook about 2 minutes, then add the spinach in batches until wilted.  Add the pasta, reserved liquid, cheeses and salt.  Stir until cheeses are melted.

4 servings (about 1 and 1/4 cup each):
500 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated); weight watchers: 8 points

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Contaminants in Food

I have found through my reading and research that often what is AVAILABLE for purchase is not always healthy, or good for you, or even safe.  Just because it's approved by the USDA has little merit in my opinion.  There are some things you should definitely avoid giving your baby, and I try to avoid as well.  Here is a list of food items to avoid:

Smoked/cured meats (hot dogs, bologna, bacon) due to preservatives such as nitrates

Cold smoked fish (it may contain Listeria)

Fish from contaminated water, as mercury is a big concern

Caffeine, for obvious reasons

Imitation foods (okay, so I'm not going to give reasons for all, as hopefully it is apparent why you would want to avoid these...)

Processed foods

Herbal teas (herbs can often have detrimental effects)

Chewable vitamin C (it damages tooth enamel)

Contaminated water (bottled water does NOT mean safe!)

Unpasteurized juice

Artificial sweeteners

Non-organic produce, which often contain high levels of pesticides

Non-organic animal products - the chemicals concentrate in fat, so when eating full-fat dairy, meat, etc., you are more likely to consume these

(I suggest always eating organic when possible)

Additives to avoid: brominated vegetable oils (BVO), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHA), monosodium glutamate (MSG), propylgallate, quinine, saccharin, sodium nitrate/nitrite, sulfites, artificial colors/flavors, carrageenan, hyptyl paraben, phosphoric acid

It seems a bit overwhelming, but if you focus on feeding your family unprocessed, organic foods, it becomes relatively simple to avoid these things.


Would you be my... woodpecker?

As spring is only three days away, it's time to put out the houses to attract the birds returning from their winter down south!  Here are plans for a Downy Woodpecker house.  This post is part of a series on birdhouse plans, if you want to find plans for other species!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Edible Art

Sometimes I like to leave my daughter in her high chair while I unload the dishwasher or do something there's no way she'll accommodate if she's on the floor.  So, I wanted an activity to keep her occupied while I did such.  I saw this idea in a magazine.

Get a silicone basting brush and some kind of edible "paint", such as yogurt or pudding, and let them create a work of art right on their highchair tray!

I found this at Bob Evans:

It works great!  I do not give my daughter sugary foods, so opted against pudding.  Instead, I went with the plain whole milk yogurt that's a staple in our fridge.  My new conundrum?  How to safely "color" the yogurt.

Just like with the crayons, she's not really that into this activity yet, so we've only done it twice.  Against my better judgement, I used food coloring (I know, I know, I've preached and preached against artificial coloring).  Before we do it again, I need to come up with some natural alternatives.



I figured my little koala bear was getting old enough to enjoy coloring, so I went on a search to find the perfect materials for her little hands.  I knew the crayons had to be safe for her, and found these that I found were just the thing:

Melissa and Doug 10 Jumbo Triangular Crayons (non-roll, non-toxic, stronger than regular crayons!)

She has a little table/chair set, so I wanted to find some cheap recycled paper that would cover the entire top so I could tape it down and prevent the table from being colored on.  Here's what I came up with:

Faber-Castell Recycled Newsprint Art Paper 18" x 75'

It's a roll, so I just roll out the desired amount, tear it off and tape it down with masking tape.  Perfect!

Now if I could just get her to love coloring as much as I THINK she should!  ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Veggie Meatloaf

6 eggs
15 ounces fat free ricotta cheese
1 envelope onion soup mix
2 cups veggie soy crumbles
4 cups Special K cereal

Beat 6 eggs.  Add ricotta and onion soup - mix well.  Add veggie crumbles and cereal.  Mix well.  Press into greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.  Add a layer of ketchup on top and bake 10 minutes more.

You can play around with the ratio of soy crumbles and Special K, from all of one or another to more of one than another, if you don't like one or would like a different consistency.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Any yard can be improved for wildlife

Living in the Great Basin desert, conditions can be harsh and resources few for wildlife.  I decided to install a water fountain to provide fresh water for birds and other wildlife.  With an inexpensive plastic tub, pump/fountain combo and extension cord I was able to complete this project.  Add some feeders, and instant wildlife habitat improvement!