Ten Meals for Toddlers.

Feeding a toddler is always tricky. Their taste buds change as fast as their attention spans. It’s an endless struggle, really. Whenever I feed LT a meal that doesn’t get thrown across the kitchen, I do a little victory dance. After many attempts, here are ten meals for toddlers that, in my experience, LT really enjoys. They cover all the basic food groups (I’m a stickler on this) and are great for dinners.

Toddler Meal 1:
Hamburger, Mashed Potatos, Asparagus, Peaches, String Cheese
Toddler Meals

Toddler Meal 2:
Breaded Chicken, Macaroni and Cheese, Green Beans, Bananas
Healthy Meals For Toddlers

Toddler Meal 3:
Meatballs, Ravioli With Red Sauce, Garlic Bread, Corn, Strawberries (not pictured….LT was having a hunger meltdown before I could snap a picture)
Toddler Dinner Meals

Toddler Meal 4:
Chicken Fried Rice With Peas & Carrots, Blueberries (partially pictured….see comment above in meal #3), String Cheese
Meals For Toddlers

Toddler Meal 5:
Crock Pot Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Carrots, Bananas, Strawberry Yogurt (not pictured)
Delicious Toddler Meals

Toddler Meal 6:
Lasagna, Green Beans, Blueberries, Dinner Roll
Tasty Toddler Meals

Toddler Meal 7:
Barbecue Breaded Chicken, Macaroni and Cheese, Blueberries/Bananas, Broccoli
Dinner Meals For Kids

Toddler Meal 8:
Spaghetti, Meatballs, Roasted Yellow Squash, Banana, Sweet Potato Yogurt (not pictured) Garlic Bread
Toddler Meal

Toddler Meal 9:
Pork Tenderloin, Carrots, Macaroni and Cheese, Apple Sauce (not pictured), String Cheese
Simple Toddler Meals

Toddler Meal 10:
Chicken and Cheesy Rice, Broccoli, Bananas, Pears
Toddler Dinners

 

Hope this gave you some toddler meal inspiration! I’d love to hear some meals you’ve whipped up for your little ones! Comment below and share your favorites.

Our First Trip To The Dentist.

Despite the countless books, articles and mommy blogs that I have read since learning I was pregnant in 2013, I never learned that a trip to the dentist should actually take place when your little one starts to get teeth. Say what? News to me! I mean I guess it makes sense. Even though they are just baby teeth, a lot of damage can be done to permanent teeth if a problem arises and isn’t caught in time.

With a quick Google search for Pediatric Dentists in Cleveland, Ohio, I came across quite a few results. I was interested in about three of them so I went to their websites to learn a bit more. Ultimately I chose Giggles and Grin in Broadview Heights. They seemed to have a lot of offered services, and the dentist, Dr. Becky, completed her education in Ohio. Call me weird, but I really gravitate to doctors who are originally from around here. And being that I am in marketing, I found their website pleasing. I also liked the fact that they were on social media. Again, a weird quirk of mine, but what was really attractive to me was the photo gallery. It gave me a first-hand look at the office and what to expect. There were also lots of photos of Dr. Becky posing with kids after their appointments. It was evident that she really loved her job.

So, onto the appointment. It ended up being a mommy-Liam trip because daddy had a work meeting. When we walked into the office, it was just as good, if not better, than the pictures I saw online. We were greeted with bright colors, toys and cartoons. Liam darted right to the choo-choo trains. Prior to our appointment, the receptionist told me that I could download new patient forms via their website so that when I got to the office I could keep my attention on Liam….LOVED this idea…..forgot the papers!

The actual room where Liam had his cleaning was equipped with fun colored chairs, toys and even a television on the ceiling. He wasn’t too into the TV when it came time for the cleaning, but I’m sure if he was older he would appreciate it more. Dr. Becky went through what she would be doing to Liam for the cleaning, where to lay Liam on the chair and away she went. She brushed, scraped, flossed and checked out his gums for more incoming teeth. The procedure probably lasted about 5 minutes but the appointment lasted a bit longer because she explained when to start giving him fluoride toothpaste, how to care for his teeth and so on.

At the end of our visit, I was informed that Liam will be entered into the ‘No Cavity Club’, an adorable idea where Dr. Becky takes pictures of children with no cavities and puts them on a board in the office. She also shares it on their Facebook page. As we are sitting there chatting on the floor after his picture was taken, Liam decides that Dr. Becky is pretty cool and sits on her lap (I died. Seriously kid. Could you get any cuter?!)

Liam got a toy for his good behavior (a little plastic dinosaur) and we were on our merry way. I loved, loved, loved Giggles and Grin and we are looking forward to our next appointment in 6 months!
pediatric dentist

Side note: we also got this cute little hand-written note from the dentist thanking us for our visit. You don’t get too many of these personalized gestures any more these days!
Pediatric Dentist

My Favorite DIY Projects of 2014.

It’s a new year so everyone is frantically sharing their favorites of the past year whether it be recipes, beauty tips or fitness routines. So it’s only fitting I recap some of my faves of 2014 in relation to DIY projects and crafts. I got a slow start the beginning of 2014, I mean I DID have my hands full with a newborn, but nevertheless, I had some goodies. I have spared you the craft fails, although that could be a fun topic too…perhaps another day.

One of Reed's first Father's Day gifts.

One of Reed’s first Father’s Day gifts.

Custom anniversary print for Reed's grandparents' 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Custom anniversary print out for Reed’s grandparent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

Festive fall banner made of burlap.

Festive fall banner made of burlap.

Outdoor fall blocks.

Outdoor fall blocks.

Favorite project to date; Liam's first birthday party.

Favorite project to date; Liam’s first birthday party.

You can read more about Liam’s owl themed first birthday party here.

Collage board for Christmas cards.

Collage board for Christmas cards.

Christmas Sharpie bowls that were later filled with treats and passed out to daycare teachers.

Christmas Sharpie bowls that were filled with treats.

"Let It Snow" sign.

“Let It Snow” sign.

Ring Bearer Box Inside

Custom ring bearer box.

Custom ring bearer box.

And that’s it! I already have a few DIY projects and crafts under my belt for 2015 and cannot wait to share them. Cheers to a happy new year full of health, love and hot glue guns.

Mommy mission: sleep training my little one.

Today’s blog was actually intended to be posted when our sleep training mission started. I had huge plans to do a daily blog post recapping that night’s events, but such is life. I tend to just go with the flow these days.

So to recap, Liam was approaching 13 months old and I was approaching the idea of jumping off a cliff. Not only was he waking up 3 – 4 times in the middle of the night, refusing to go back in his crib unless he was completely knocked out and unaware of his surroundings, he also decided 9:00 p.m. was no longer an acceptable bedtime. Oh and to top it off, he was now waking at 5:30 a.m. I was a zombie mom each and every day. The day before my husband and I had two weeks off work was the day I decided it was time to start sleep training the little night owl.

The crying it out method simply wasn’t for me, or for Liam. He would work himself up so much that he would almost vomit, or I would give up and go get him which just made him think, “Okay, if I cry good and hard, mommy will come get me.” I started researching sleep training methods and stumbled across The Sleep Lady Shuffle from The Sleep Lady, Kim West.

The Sleep Lady Shuffle

The concept in a nutshell:

There are three phases, each phase lasting three nights. For the first three nights, you actually sleep on the floor next to the crib (I didn’t care. I was desperate). Every time your little one wakes up in the middle of the night, merely, SHHHH him/her back to sleep. If they stand up or get really upset, you can lie them down or pat their back, but only for a few seconds. Nights four through six, you move your ‘bed’ closer to the door. Same concept, but if they wake, just SHHH – no more physical contact. For nights seven, eight and nine, you move your bed into the hallway right outside the door. And of course, you log the times for every stir, wake and cry.

What we did:

The first night was a zinger. The Sleep Lady says when putting your baby down, if they stand, lay them back down, when they are laying down, rub their back. Constantly tell them to SHHH and that it is bedtime. Holy moly! After a half hour of being screamed at and stiff armed, Liam finally gave up and went to sleep. Oh and this method is to be a one person job per night. So Reed and I took shifts and I happened to get night one because it was my brainiac idea. Liam woke up about four times, each time all I did was SHHH and he went back to sleep.

Night two was remarkably better. When going down, Liam stood up a few times but never once cried. We simply laid him down gently each time and told him it was bedtime. He woke up twice that night but with a SHHH, he was out.

The third night he actually laid down when we put him in his crib and never once stood up AND he slept through the night.

Nights four through six we moved our make-shift bed closer to the door and the nightly activity was pretty boring during this span of time…but boring was good!

Now, nights seven through nine we straight-up refused to sleep in the hallway (we had to draw the line somewhere). During these days, we simply stood outside his door for just a few minutes after we laid him in his crib and SHHH’ed him if he stirred. That was it.

Where we are today:

It is important to note that with this Sleep Lady Shuffle, a strict bedtime routine is key. Evidently babies thrive on routine. I also learned that when a baby is waking up very early, it is actually because they are going to bed too late. You would think the opposite to be true, but it’s not. So with this sleep training, we have established a routine for LT that consists of bath time at 7:00, bottle/snack in his highchair at 7:30, brush teeth and in his room by 7:45 – 8:00 p.m. for some quiet story time with music in the background. He get’s 10 – 15 minutes of story time and then its bedtime. Generally speaking he is placed in his crib no later than 8:00 p.m. and he wakes up at for school..aka daycare.

Our results have been straight up AH-mazing. After story time, we tell Liam it is bedtime, we give him kisses, he kisses his stuffed puppy, we lay him down and he is out. Not a single peep. And the best part is mommy and daddy have had uninterrupted sleep for five weeks now…FIVE WEEKS. The downside is we now have a limited amount of time with him once we get home from dinner, but at the end of the day a healthy, full nights sleep for Liam is more important. And a happy baby = a happy mommy and daddy!

Liam

Look whoo’s turning one!

It has been a few days since Liam’s first birthday and I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have a toddler. Unbelievable. How did this happen? I know it is cliche, but it literally feels like yesterday that we brought him home. This whole parenthood thing is going by way too fast. Super fun. But too fast.

Anyway, let’s get to the point of this blog…the birthday party! I took planning Liam’s birthday party very seriously. Not only because it was his first party, but because I love to party plan and the only one in charge of everything was ME…I’m a bit of a control freak.

Before Liam was born, we had a series of onsies made for him. Each onsie had an owl with the message, “Look whoo’s (number) months!” And Liam’s nursery theme is owls, so it was only fitting that his birthday party would be owl themed as well.

With some assistance from Pinterest and the rest from my own brain, I got to crafting. I personally made everything from the invitations to (some) of the food. Take a look!

I designed these invitations myself. I’m not an InDesign user, so these were created in good old PowerPoint.
Owl Invitations

I wanted go get some guest participation so I thought a time capsule would be a great idea. I cut out owls, attached them to a string and added little bit of the outdoors into the craft by putting a few sticks in a rustic vase.
time capsule

There are so many clothes that I loved putting Liam in when he was itsy bitsy, so I added a clothes line of some of my favorites. Luckily the place we rented had a gorgeous fireplace so it worked out perfectly!
1st Birthday Clothes LineBaby Clothes LineBirthday Clothes Line

Birthday Clothes Line

Birthday Clothes Line

Birthday Clothes Line

Liam’s least favorite. outfit..socks.

 

We had an old frame that was just sitting in the basement so I took it apart, fixed the corner of the frame that was broken and made two boards from it. For the first board, I glued some yarn to the back of it and affixed Liam’s monthly pictures (in the owl onesies) with clothespins that were painted with his color scheme. For the second board, I took the backing of the frame, spray painted it with chalkboard paint and wrote all his stats (e.g. weight, height, number of teeth, etc). And voila! Two boards for less than $10.
birthday boards

I wanted something theme-ish for each table so I made some owls from felt to work as the weights for the balloons at each table. They were a hit! I made eight of them. They were a bit time consuming, but so worth it!

Felt Owl Balloon Weights

The cake table (and food tables, really) were complete with stuffed animals. For the cupcakes I made little cupcake toppers from toothpicks and completed the theme with ‘one’ and ‘owl’ shaped sandwiches.
Owl Birthday Cake Table

Owl Birthday Cupcakes

Owl Sandwiches

And who doesn’t love gift bags? With a little construction paper, brown paper bags and some goodies to put inside, all the kids at the party took home an owl gift bag.
Owl Gift Bags

And here he is! My little peanut is officially a toddler. He had a blast at his party despite missing every single one of his naps that day. Such a trooper! Owl Themed Birthday Party

Baby favorites.

Everyone has their favorite baby products and I am not an exception to that rule. There are some products I either purchased or were given that were complete lifesavers. And though every baby is different, for the sake of keeping other mommies sane, I feel compelled to share some of my favorites.

baby favorites

  1. Let’s talk butts- more specifically butt cream. I’ve been fortunate that LT (Liam Thomas) hasn’t had many rashes, but when he did, my go-to product was, and still is, Palladin, hands down. It can only be purchased online at rashcream.com, but to make up for the shipping costs, it is a relatively inexpensive product. It’s thick, goes on smoothly and has no odor. It’s the bomb-diggity.
  2. Because my husband and I live an hour away from our families, traveling overnight is a must. We have a Pack N Play, but in some occasions, the Pack N Play just wasn’t conducive for the type of visit we were planning. For example, we went camping with my brother and his now fiancee in May. Four adults, three dogs and an infant in a pop-up camper did not lend itself for much room for a large Pack N Play. So we brought a little travel bassinet in its place. I was given the bassinet as a gift and it was perfect for our trip! We placed the bassinet on the bed where I could be close to him yet not worry all night squishing him if I rolled over in my sleep. The bassinet we received was similar to this one and can be purchased at Babys R Us.
  3. If you have even the slightest hopes of ever having a decent night’s sleep upon your new baby’s arrival, do yourself a favor and get a few swaddle blankets with Velcro. Just do it. Liam had the habit of flailing his arms all over the place when he slept which resulted in him hitting himself in the eye, nose, whatever and waking himself up. After several nights of this, we broke out the Velcro swaddle blanket and ahhhh sleep at last. This particular swaddle blanket is perfect because the Velcro really holds him in snug without the chances of him breaking free. Of course as he got older he was able to break free, but that just meant he was ready to not use them any more.
  4. I never registered for a bouncer but man am I glad my dad and step-mom bought LT one for Christmas. Having the ability to bring the bouncer in the bathroom if I was showering or the bedroom if I was getting ready was ideal! It didn’t do too much in terms of soothing him if he was crabby, but it certainly was helpful as I tried to get chores done throughout the house.
  5. The last of my baby favorites is something we are actually using now. LT is teething hardcore with four chompers coming in at the top. Though he is still extremely happy, smiley and cheerful, I can tell it bothers him, so I bought something called a Fresh Food Teether. I got mine at Target for $2.99 and he LOVES IT! It’s basically like a giant ring pop that you can fill with food. When taken apart, I add chucks of frozen fruit in the netting and close it up. He gets overly enthusiastic when he sees me take it out of the drawer. Best three bucks ever.

Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder - 2pk

There you have it. These are just five of my baby favorites. Stay tuned for more as he gets bigger!

Yummy in my tummy.

The day has finally come – Liam has started the solid-food stage. And boy did I realize quickly how expensive this stage was going to be. I intended on making Liam his own baby food, but now that it was go-time, I was a little hesitant. What if I don’t make it as smooth as Gerber? What if I don’t cook the raw vegetables enough? How do I compare what I make to equal the ounces of one jar of baby food? Luckily for me, I have a cousin who recently went through the baby food making stage to give me some great pointers. So, here’s what I did.

  • I started off with the basics. I knew what kinds of food Liam already liked because we experimented with jar baby food. I bought some plums, bananas, avocado, carrots, pears, broccoli, spinach and peas. For the most part, the items I bought were fresh, but I did buy some frozen and even some canned.
  • When Reed and I said, “I do” four years ago, we received a Ninja Prep as a wedding gift. Up until this new endeavor, it has been the best thing ever and has plowed through every margarita I’ve ever made. Thankfully, it continues to impress!
  • I started off with bananas. I peeled them, sliced them into pieces and piled them into the blender. Then added water and pureed the naners (my word for bananas). I can’t give an exact amount of water for this meal, or for any meals in fact, because it is really preference. I added extra water because Liam was just starting off on solids and I wanted his food to be super creamy. Now that he is a bit older, I don’t add as much water so the food is a bit chunkier. My suggestion here is to just wing it!
  • I continued this process with the other foods. Foods that were in a can, I drained, added them to the blender with water and then pureed it all. Veggies that were fresh (like carrots), I steamed, added water and purred. And any fresh fruit, like the plums I bought, I peeled and did the same thing – added to blender with water and purred. I do suggest being very careful when adding water to fruits since they are naturally juicy anyway.
  • Once every fruit and veggie was sliced and purred, I added them to ice cube trays and let them freeze overnight

homemade baby food

  • When morning came, I popped each cube out from the tray and labeled one baggie per fruit or vegetable.
  • Liam is eating up to four cubes at once now which is around four ounces of food, so at night I just take out four cubes of whatever he will be eating the next day at daycare and put them in a small Tupperware.
  • Some of the foods I have made, Liam refuses to eat – like peas for example. He ate them fine when they were provided by Gerber, but when they were made with love, he refused them. So I started mixing them with fruit – pears, pineapple, applesauce, you name it. Sounds gross but it has been working! Don’t be afraid to make weird concoctions for your little one. It helps them develop a wide array of taste buds.

My advice to new mommys out there with babies starting solid foods –take the time to make your own food and don’t be intimidated! It’s quite easy and you really can’t go wrong. Plus there’s something that makes you feel so good as a mommy when you make your own baby food. It’s actually quite rewarding!

pureed baby food