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Candle in the Night

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

I hate my kitchen.  Okay, that's not entirely true.  But I do have some serious kitchen envy.  My sister just bought a house and her kitchen looks like this.  

amazing kitchen picture
A Seriously Amazing Kitchen

Okay, so that's not true either.  But next to my kitchen which looks about like this...

This is my kitchen during a cabinet remodel.  I now have white cabinets and a shelf above all of them.
It helps, but it's still pretty tiny!  

I try very, very hard not to covet other people's kitchens, but I'll be honest, I don't love my kitchen or enjoy being in it.  And yet, it is the room in the house where I spend most of my time.  I have tried and tried to clean my kitchen each night, but with two babies age 2 and under, I'm exhausted most nights and just want to lay down.  So this morning, I woke up to a kitchen that was a total wreck.  To even start cleaning it, I had to wash a crockpot, two pots, a strainer, two mixing bowls, and a large skillet.  And that all had to be done before I could even begin washing the numerous bowls, plates, cups, and silverware that we used yesterday (and the day before that).  I'm going to go ahead and confess that it's not all clean as I sit down to write this blog.  But I can only have so many things in my sink soaking at a time, so I'll get up and wash the next load in a few minutes.  

Anyway, as I was washing the last batch, I got to thinking.  I spend so much time in the kitchen even though it's my least favorite room to spend time in.  I enjoy preparing food, but that's about it.  I hate everything else about it.  ALL the cleaning...I hate.  It's not only work, it's hard work.  I have to shove all the pots and pans onto a tiny little counter space and soak them one or two at a time in my tiny little sink.  It's not fun...ever.

(Crickets chirping in the blog world while I go and do another load of dishes...and fix dinner, and do more dishes, and put the kids to bed, do some laundry, and spend some time crocheting...)

Okay, I'm back.  So I've been thinking.  What can I do to spend LESS time in the kitchen?  There's got to be something!  How can I minimize the number of pans, plates, spoons, measuring cups, pots...that I have to wash each day?  So I'm making a plan.

At least twice a week, I'm going to double the food I would normally make.  One of the days, I'll just make enough for leftovers the next day.  The other day, I'll make something that I can freeze half of.  That way, I'll have two days that I'm not using pots, pans, measuring cups, or spoons.  I'm just pulling something out and heating it up.  I'm also going to choose one day of the week to be paper plate day.  It just does me good to be able to throw away all the dinner mess.  I wouldn't be so wasteful as to use paper plates every day, but to keep my sanity, I think I can do it once a week.  I also want to make breakfasts less of a hassle.  I'm going to try to keep cereal around, but also make a big batch of muffins once in a while that I can freeze half of.  I need to look more into freezer breakfasts because I love having bacon and eggs and things like that for breakfast, but I don't like the mess they make in my kitchen.  I have a couple of good recipes I can freeze, but I'd like to have more variety.

So that's my plan.  I think it'll really help me...or at least I hope so.  Because you know that feeling when someone really annoys you and then you find out you're going to be stuck in close quarters with them for a long period of time and they just drive you more and more crazy?  That's how I'm starting to feel about my kitchen.

Welcome Home Wednesdays


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Baby Led Weaning Vs. Starting Solids Traditionally

Aah, the days before solids.  When mama's milk is the only thing a baby needs and a dirty diaper means something that wipes clean easily and smells like popcorn.  And then...everything changes.

At first, H was delighted to see something new coming toward her.   

 But after that first bite...  Well, delight is not how I would describe it.

We started Baby H on solids at 6 months.  She wasn't a fan at first, so we were patient and waited a week and tried again.  After a few tries, she came to love her food.  I made all kids of purees for her and combined those with store bought baby food.  When she got older, we introduced finger foods like Puffs and Cheerio's.  Eventually, she was allowed to have what we eat.  You know, the traditional method.  The way you were served baby food.

(If you do go this route, I highly recommend this book.  Actually, no matter what route you go, I recommend it.  It has great ideas for meals and tons of info about feeding your baby, no matter how you choose to do it.)

But wait, this "traditional method" isn't as traditional as one might think.  

When Baby M was getting about the age to start solids, I heard of this book called "Baby-Led Weaning".

I read a good part of this book and really liked the ideas in it.  Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) in a nutshell is this.  Your child eats what you eat.  You start your baby on finger-sized pieces of mushy foods.  Things they can grab onto and put in their mouths.  Bananas, cooked carrots, cooked sweet potatoes...  Then, as they do better with those, you add variety.  This allows the child to explore the foods they are eating and put them into their own mouths, thus producing kids who enjoy meal time more and are less picky eaters.  Oh, and did I mention that it's also SUPER convenient?!?

I decided to try BLW with M.  I knew that with a 21 month old and a 6 month old, I wasn't going to have the time I had before to cook, puree, and freeze all that baby food.  So I didn't.  I researched this method and found that moms have been using this method for generations...just not calling it BLW.

Here she is with her first banana.  She mashed that thing all over her tray, and although I missed her expression when she stuck it in her mouth, it was honestly much the same as H's expression with her first bite of solids.  So we did the same thing.  We waited a week or so and tried again.  And now M loves to eat just as much as H does.

The only down side that I can see with BLW is the mess.  And to be honest, I just couldn't handle it.  BLW recommends that you basically never spoon feed your child and let them explore the food and feed themselves.  But I couldn't do it.  There is no way I can just set a bowl of oatmeal or applesauce or spaghetti on my daughter's tray and just let her have at it daily.  I do it once in a while (mainly when I'm trying to get ready to go somewhere and I just need her to stay busy) but when I do, she's a disaster.  I know the idea is that they'll learn to eat neatly sooner, but I just don't see it happening that way.  H is a pretty neat eater and we spoon fed her.  And I think M will learn to be neat as well...without being a complete mess first!

Overall, I will never go back to the days of pureeing pounds and pounds of sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, and rice and freezing them in ice cube trays.  Since the majority of nutrition is still coming from my milk up until the child is a year, I will give them whatever we're eating and let them get the rest of their nutrients from me.  Not because I really think it has much impact on whether they're a picky eater or not, but because it's just so, so, so much easier!  (Oh, and it's really fun to be at a restaurant and have some old lady look at you in shock because you're giving your 7 month old a whole breadstick!)

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Prayer of a Child

Whenever I pray with H, I always say an extra little prayer that God will become real to her.  I don't remember ever coming to the realization that there was a God, I just always believed it and He was always a part of me and I want so much for it to be that way for my children as well.  One way I pray that He'll become real to H is by answering her prayers quickly so she'll make a connection between talking to God and God's response.  This has happened twice lately and I just wanted to share these two little testimonies with you.

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