Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Son is a Genius!

Lately, Griffin has been VERY into pointing, and we've discovered that he wants us to tell him what the pointed to items are. So yesterday, we were working on facial features like nose, mouth, eye. This morning, while Oliver was changing Griffin's diaper, he asked Griffin to point to his nose...not really thinking anything would come of it....BUT HE DID! Then he asked Griffin to point to his mouth, and imagine our surprise when he DID!  So, Oliver calls me in saying, "You won't believe this!"  Of course, I grab the camera :)  Folks, this is no fluke.  Several different times today, we asked him to point to our nose, our mouth, our mouth, our nose, etc., switching it up every time, and he totally knows!  I'm amazed.  Our son is a genius.

My Latest Meal Obsession

As I've written before, I tend to get hung up on certain favorite meals. I'll go weeks and weeks where I cannot get enough of a certain meal. Certain things need to be true in order for a meal to become a true meal obsession: 1) It must be easy 2) It must be fast 3) It must be satisfying, giving me the energy I need 4) It must be pretty healthy...Otherwise, it would wind up being tainted with guilt due to the frequency I eat these meals :) So, for the past couple weeks, my meal obsession has been tuna, spinach, and egg salads with cantaloupe. Oh my.... I just ate one, and I'm still craving it! Seriously, I must be in need of protein and vitamins A and C or something... Ok, so the tuna has a bit of Miracle Whip in it...I know, I know, but there is no other dressing needed! I cut up the spinach and egg with kitchen shears, and this meal is ready in a few minutes. Love it.
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Thank You, Gigi!

I love my new striped outfit, Gigi! Thank you!

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Why, Yes CVS!

A few months ago, I started couponing. I must admit: There are times where I fail...miserably. My dear fellow couponing friends have heard of these epic failures :) As humiliating as these fiascos have been, they pale in comparison to the thrill and glorious sense of victory in my successes. There have now been many-a-time where I have saved OVER HALF of my grocery bill, getting something like $140 worth of groceries for $60. Possibly more satisfying than the grocery store victories are the drugstore victories. Oh boy, do I love CVS. After making a couple initial out of pocket purchases to build up glorious little things called Extra Care Bucks, you literally never have to spend money getting many toiletries again by simply spending your Extra Care Bucks on products that will earn you the same amount of Extra Care Bucks you spend. I'm not going to go into the whole system in this post, but trust me here. It's amazing! I've gotten so, so many necessary toiletries and things from CVS for totally free and many, many more for under $1. Free (FREE!) things I've gotten at CVS: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream, body wash, tampons, floss, medicines, makeup, candy, contact solution, deoderant, different hair products like mousse and hair spray, air freshener, cleaning products, scissors, pens, razors, and probably more that I can't think of off the top of my head. So, this week's victory was especially rewarding. I was able to get TWO rechargable toothbrushes (retail $25) for FREE! Why, yes CVS...I do believe I will take those fancy pants electric toothbrushes off your hands...Thank you very much!
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Homemade Baby Food?

When Griffin was 5 months old, it was clear that he was ready (and I mean READY) to begin eating solid foods. When I switched prenatal care to my midwife, Lisa, a little over halfway through my pregnancy, she really stressed and held me accountable for making sure I was feeding my baby and my body the best possible foods, supplements, etc. She taught me to really examine what I put in my baby's body and encouraged me to take the time to read up on the benefits of breastfeeding. I must say, Lisa did a great job at equipping me to not just accept the status quo of society, but to put in the time and energy to research what would truly be best for Griffin. When Griffin was born, I constantly had to put that information in front of me in order to persevere through several really rough months of breastfeeding; I was so glad I did, because breastfeeding got much, much easier around the 3 month mark. When Griffin reached 5 months, I knew it was time for solid foods, and it was just as important to me to feed Griffin the best I possibly could in the solid food world as it was for me to feed him the best I possibly could in the womb as well as via breastfeeding outside the womb. After doing quite a bit of research, I was convinced that homemade baby food would be the way to go (healthwise and financially). So, I set out into the wide world of baby food making, and Griffin set out into the wide world of eating it.

Fast forward a couple months... Oliver and I had been very stretched financially, and we got Griffin and I signed up for WIC (Women with Infants and Children), a government program that provides low income mothers and children with food vouchers. Griffin's vouchers were for commercial, jarred baby foods (single fruits and vegetables) and commercial cereals. We went up north to visit my side of the family for a few weeks, and I began to feed him solely the commercial baby food for the convenience of not having to make his food while away from home. It was definitely difficult to get him to eat the jarred food...the whole time. He did not like it. During the entire 3 weeks we were gone and 2 additional weeks after we had returned home, Griffin was extremely fussy all day long and all night long. It was very common during that time for him to whine/cry the majority of the day, take 20 min. naps, and wake up every 2-3 hours through the night. He was also clearly constipated during that time. I wasn't sure if the fussiness was directly related to the constipation, but I knew something had to be done. It didn't occur to me until a couple weeks after we had gotten home that the fussiness began shortly after I began feeding him predominately commercial baby food! I switched him completely over to homemade baby food to see if that would help (I was honestly at my whit's end, people. I mean, I really felt like I had a fussy newborn again!). Within a few days, the fussiness, the nightwaking, the whining, the short naps, the constipation was GONE. GONE! ...And it has not returned. I had been convinced that homemade baby food would be best for long-term, but, I must say, I had no clue that commercial vs. homemade baby food could make such a difference in the day-to-day. After this happened, I did more research and found that there are many reasons why it is a fantastic idea to make your own baby food:

-CHEAPER! - (much) If you consider how much fresh fruits and veggies are per pound and how much processed baby food is by the pound. In many cases, it's something like 3 times more expensive.

-Easy! - (I promise) I recommend Ruth Yaron's amazing book, Super Baby Food. It tells you literally EVERYthing you need to know about preparing, storing, choosing, etc. baby food. I would say it takes about 1-2 hours TOTAL per week. I try to do a "batch session," where I prepare several fruits and vegetables and some cereal at once, which takes about an hour (not counting steaming time...which takes absolutely no attention/energy from you). The other hour is mashing up/pureeing this or that here and there and preparing each meal (2-3 minutes prep. time for each meal).

-Ingredients - You know exactly what is in your baby's food. You know that it was made from fresh, ripe, high quality fruits and veggies, and whole grains. You know it doesn't have any fillers, preservatives, added sugar or salt, or anything else.

-Preparation - You know exactly how your baby's food was prepared. You know it wasn't processed or heated too hot to kill bacteria (which winds up zapping a bunch of the vitamin/nutrient content).

-Richer Taste & Greater Texture - If you've ever popped open a jar of baby food, it is super smooth and watery and doesn't typically taste anything like the fruit or vegetable they are made from. This was always puzzling to me until I found out the intense process that takes place between the fresh fruit/veggie and the jar...the jar that can last for years on the store shelves. Wowsers. Homemade food tastes so much richer and has more varied texture than jarred food (trust me...I've tasted them side-by-side). This exposes babies to the actual flavors and textures of food, which is an important process in becoming a healthy eater down the road.

-Balanced Diet - You can create a healthy, balanced diet for your baby that includes all the right amounts of all the food groups for healthy growth and development.

-More Nutritious - You can control how you cook the food (steaming instead of boiling, etc.), and you can focus on preparing the food to retain the most nutrients. Also, because you aren't preparing food intended to be kept at room temperature on a store shelf for a year, less nutrient-zapping measures need to be taken. Yes, homemade baby food is more perishable than commercial baby food, but this is a GOOD thing. Less processing=healthier/more nutrient dense.

-VARIETY! - If you've ever grazed through the available options in the baby food aisle of any grocery store, you will see very quickly that there isn't a whole lot of variety there (even counting the "dessert" options that no pediatrician would probably recommend as part of a baby's diet). I can list what is typically available: pureed chicken, pureed turkey, sweet potato, squash, green beans, peas, carrots, corn, mangos, bananas, apples, pears, maybe prunes, endless mixtures of the aformentioned fruits/veggies [aka. no further variety], and refined, instant oatmeal, whole wheat, and rice cereals. If you were to try to just figure out a balanced diet from these items, you would not be able to! Now, when you make your own baby food, you can expose your baby to so much more variety than this. ALL fruits and veggies, ALL legumes, nuts, seeds, ALL whole grains, etc. At 9 months old (waiting 4-7 days before introducing each new food), Griffin has had (and regularly eats): avocado, banana, sweet potato, brown rice, barley, millet, oatmeal, whole wheat bread and cereal, yogurt, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, mango, papaya, butternut squash, acorn squash, yellow squash, zucchini, egg yolk, carrots, green beans, peas, apples, tahini, flaxseed, wheat germ, cantaloupe, watermelon, and kiwi. Here is Griffin's lunch one day (bread, watermelon, butternut squash, peas, and kiwi):

After my experience with Griffin's noticeable change once I switched him to jarred food, I just really began to see the huge benefits of whole, unprocessed foods in the day-to-day health and well-being of my child. It was such a night-and-day kind of change that it really brought my attention to what a difference food makes. What kind of food that is is important. I don't write this with the intention of making commercial baby food users feel guilty or anything even close to that. The intention of this post is to tell Griffin's story and to highlight the benefits of making baby food at home and the difference that has made in his life.  Don't get me wrong, I keep some commercial baby food on hand to supplement if I run out of something or if I don't have time to prepare a meal to go.  I just have experienced that it is easy, cheaper, and fulfilling as a mother and tastier, fresher, more nutritious, more balanced, and more variety for Griffin.

9 Months Old

Just yesterday, we celebrated Griffin's 9 month birthday with the usual picture in the robin's egg blue chair to chart his growth over time:

I also took several videos of the new moves he has developed over the past month.  Since his 8 month birthday, he has started: 
-crawling (fast!), 
-standing with only one hand holding on, 
-signing "fan," 
-saying "nana," "gaga," "dada," "yaya" and all sorts of other new sounds strung together in odd sounding phrases
-pointing at everything he's interested in (and making a questioning sound, like he's wanting you to tell him what that thing is), 
-getting very good at the pincer grasp (which enables him to eat all kinds of small pieces of food), 
-shaking his head,
-walking with his little push cart.

We went to the pediatrician today for his 9 month check-up, and he is 21 lbs. 7 oz. and 30 inches long.  He has definitely slowed way, way down in overall growth since he was 6 months, but he is still off the charts in height, and above average in both weight and head circumference.  Our pediatrician explained that it is only a matter of time before growth like Griffin had in the first 6 months starts to taper off.  She said that most babies plateau a bit on weight when they begin getting mobile around 6-7 months because they're burning up those calories they used to simply store as baby chub in their stationary days of laying on their back all day :)

He has changed so much in just a month that it's quite hard to believe.  Why do they have to grow so fast?!  Recently, he went through a small growth spurt as well, and I was up in the middle of the night, rocking him for an hour.  Of course, my initial reaction to such a night time fiasco was frustration; however, as I rocked my sweet, crying baby, my heart melted as I thought about how much smaller he used to be...and how he'll never be this little again.  From there, it was a short trip to breaking down into tears as I considered the tough reality that one day, he will not want to cuddle with me, or sit on my lap, or be rocked by me, or play with my necklace, or reach for me to pick him up, or cry when he can't see me.  Someday, he'll likely be shutting himself in his room to be all teenagerish and angsty, and I'll be his " doesn't she just leave me alone?"  (Let's be honest...We all had one at that age.)  But, really...I truly AM going to miss this, long for this, and so I should treasure this...even in the hard times.  How beautiful and totally fulfilling to a mother's heart is it to be needed and wanted by her baby?  I am so thankful that God has given me a calling in which I can feel that sense of fulfillment on a daily basis.  

Here are a few videos taken yesterday:

Griffin and the Fan

Griffin has always been partial to fans of all sorts but especially ceiling fans.  Since he started signing, he's also started pointing and making a sort of questioning he's wanting me to tell him what that thing is.  A couple weeks ago, he was looking at the ceiling fan in our kitchen with that questioning look, and I told him and signed that it was a fan.  Now, whenever I say "fan" or sign "fan," he'll look at (and sometimes point to and/or sign) the fan!  How amazing is that?!  We're communicating!  It's hard to believe what a little sponge he is these days, and it motivates me to make the most out of his teachable moments. 

Last Pool Time of the Year

The past couple weeks have been unseasonably warm (mid to upper 90's), and there have been many record breaking temperature days.  So, we broke out our trusty kiddie pool for one last hurrah before Fall decided to grace us with her presence.  It's amazing how much more difficult pool time has become now that Griffin is crawling, pulling up, etc!

Griffin's Latest Dance Moves

Oh, the things he finds funny...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

River Adventure

Yesterday, we took a nice family walk at Saluda Shoals Park (great walk, if you haven't been there). There is a great little spot on the walk where you can get down to the river, and Griffin was able to play around in the water a bit. I must say, the water was quite chilly, but he didn't seem to mind a bit!

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Laughing with Grandaddy

Griffin love, love, loves his Grandaddy.  He just thinks he is the best!  Here is a video of them together during their visit yesterday:

Pulling Up

For almost a month, Griffin's main objective in life has been to pull himself up on everything and anyone in sight.  Currently, he's gotten big on transferring from one object/person to another.  Watching him do this reminds me of watching him start sitting up; he has an almost irresistible compulsion to use his new abilities, and so much so that napping/sleeping becomes difficult.  Every time he wakes slightly, he absolutely must pull himself up in the crib.  From there, he is completely miserable, because he is tired and just wants to sleep.  Problem is that is doesn't know he can simply lay back down and go to sleep.  So, he'll stand there and cry with exhaustion until he falls or we go lay him back down.  Poor guy.  I know that someday soon, he'll get it.

On the Swing

On our walk the other day:

Vacuum Reaction

Look Who's Crawling!

For quite a while now, Griffin has been getting around by getting up on his hands and knees and then proceeding to belly flop forward an inch or two at a time.  Needless to say, this was not the most efficient method of travel for the poor guy, and I'm sure he didn't enjoy getting the wind knocked out of him every single time he did it.  Anyway, I was beginning to suspect that perhaps Griffin would skip over crawling and move straight on to walking, but, alas...I was wrong!  He surprised us last week by beginning to crawl!  Go Griffin!  Now that he can move so much faster from point A to point B, I've got to keep a much closer eye on him...especially now that he can also pull himself up on everything in sight!

"So Big"

This is the first video in which I caught Griffin doing "So Big," although it ends in tears:

Father & Son

There is nothing quite like watching your husband and son play together.  I am quite convinced that Oliver is the best father on the face of the planet, as I always knew he would be.  Kids and babies seem to light up around Oliver, and Griffin is no exception...that's for sure!  Griffin loves his Papa.  This post contains a few videos taken over the course of the past month of the two of them together.
Crib games with Papa:

Our budding musician:

Singing "lalala:"

Griffin's first time dancing:

Blanket fort with Papa:

Fake Laughs, Hitting & Sharing

Waving Videos

These waving videos are from when Griffin first started waving at the end of August (8 months).  I must say, he doesn't quite understand the correct context in which to use his new-found skill of waving.  Also, he seems to confuse waving with the signs for "fan" and "all done."  :)  He also uses it for "Hey!  Guys!  I want that!"  

His first day of waving:

Waving and singing whilst playing the piano...Our little musician:

From a distance:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Videos from Michigan (August)

Billy Goat Puppet in Saugatuck, MI:

Imitating Laughs in Saugatuck, MI:

Laughing at Mama in Red Lobster:

Faux Crawling in MI:

Walking with Mama in MI:

New Car Seat Babbles in MI:

Sink Bath in MI:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Dance

You'll have to watch pretty closely to catch it, but this video contains Griffin's first "dance moves!"  :)

Look Who's Crawling!

Where to Begin?

I must say, the past couple months have been particularly trying for this little Thompson family in more ways than one, which may explain the severe drop-off in blog posts recently.  However, I would like to do a bit of a summary of the past couple months in order to kick-off a plethora of new pictures and videos I have lined up to post.

At the end of July, my sister came and stayed with us for a couple weeks, which was so great!  I can't say we went and did a whole lot of activities, but we had a blast just being together.  Since I have not lived in the same house as Morgan since Sophomore year, she and I haven't really gotten to spend lots of quality time together or gotten to know one another as adults until she came down.  So, this was a special time for us, and we both really enjoyed it.  Hopefully, we can make this an annual tradition.

At the end of Morgan's time at our house, she rode back up to Illinois with Griffin and I, which was a huge blessing.  Griffin and I spent the majority of August in Illinois and Michigan visiting my family.  I look forward to that trip every year, and I'm so glad everyone was able to spend time with Griffin.  It really was a great time.  My step-mom, Cindy, was kind enough to drive back to Columbia with Griffin and I so I didn't have to do the trip on my own...whew!  That was such a relief and such a blessing!

From the end of July until now, our little family has been going through a rough season.  Along with really struggling financially, our old, lemon Jetta's transmission went out, and Griffin has been going through quite a fussy time.  First, he got 8 teeth in about 3 weeks.  Then, he had two colds in a row...poor guy.  Finally, he's been going through a very whiny streak and quite a bit of constipation, which I'm thinking are both related.  All those things combined made for frequently waking every 2 hours through the nights for feedings, crying through nap times, and whining/fussing pretty much all day long.  About a week ago, I realized that Griffin's fussiness seemed to begin around the same time that I began feeding him predominately jarred baby food.  (We were able to get on the WIC [Women with Infants and Children] program, which provides certain jarred baby foods and boxed cereals for the baby and a variety of different foods for breastfeeding moms.)  So, this week, I began to feed him homemade baby food again, almost exclusively....and WAH-LAH!....Griffin's fussiness and constipation has almost disappeared!  I plan to write a future blog post on the benefits of homemade baby food; but for now, I will simply say that the difference in him is remarkable.  I was honestly at my wit's end about a week ago, and it truly felt like I had a newborn on my hands again.  I even brought him to the pediatrician to see if he had an ear infection or something else I wasn't catching, but, alas, he was totally healthy!  After about 5 days on a predominately homemade baby food diet, he is back to normal!  No constipation, no whining, no night waking, no unexplained screaming.  It's amazing.

I cannot even recall how many developmental leaps Griffin has made in the past couple months, but I'll list some here.  He has 8 teeth and an insatiable curiosity about everything.  He now crawls, pulls himself up on everything in sight, can stand using only one hand to support himself, waves hi and bye, says mama (which I think he also uses to express his desire to nurse), baba (he also uses this for nursing), papa, lala (singing), dada, yaya, and hi, signs milk, more, eat, all done, up, and fan, and has developed the pincer grasp (using first finger and thumb) he can now pick up small pieces of food!  The boy is an absolute joy, and is incredibly smart and inquisitive.  He can imitate tone and pitch of our voices, our gestures, and the signs we use for him.  For example, the other day he was looking up at the fan, and I signed and said "fan" several times.  Right away, he started trying to make the sign for fan.  Now, when I ask him where the fan is and make the sign for fan, he'll look up and point to the fan!  My smart boy.

So, let this post serve as an introduction to the barrage of videos and pictures to come!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

8 Months


Well, our boy turned 8 months at the end of last month. It's hard to believe 8 months have passed already, and yet, it's been such a life-altering 8 months that I cannot seem to remember what my life was like 8 months ago and beyond. I must admit, I've been terribly negligent with this blog for the past month or so... Mainly, it's due to a lot of travel (3 weeks spent in Illinois and Michigan visiting family and a weekend spent in Charleston for my birthday), a lot of teething, lots of colds, and a lot of very, very short naps on Griffin's part. Poor guy...he has suffered through 2 colds and 8 teeth in the past month alone!

Some developmental leaps Griffin has made over the past couple months:
-"crawling" (more like lurching forward and falling onto his belly)
-waving (and saying "hi!" in the same tone we cute)
-signing "all done," "more," and "up"
-saying "mama," "papa," "baba" (not sure what that means...i'm thinking it's more babbling), and "hiyah" (i believe this is "hi")
-going from sitting to laying and laying to sitting
-pulling up all the time and trying to pull up on everything in sight
-picking up and eating small chunks of banana
-making all kinds of cheesy, cute faces with his new mouth full of 8 teeth
-imitating sounds, tones, facial expressions, and gestures
-"walking" when you hold his hands and walk him around
-object permanence has developed, where he knows that people and objects still exist and are there even though he cannot see them...This has led to quite a bit of fussing/whining for his mama when he can't see me. We're working on this.
-he is currently 20lbs 7oz, which is only 3oz more than his last visit. This was alarming to me at first, but his pediatrician explained that this is a normal plateau that most babies reach when they start really moving around, crawling, pulling up, etc. I must admit, it is strange to see him slow down so much in weight gain after having a boy that packed on the pounds so fast for the first 7 months. I can say that he is quite a bit longer in his legs, arms and body overall.
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