Friday, May 30, 2014

The Photoshoot

Recently, I began stalking a local photographer. The lighting, editing and composition of her photos are beautiful. It doesn't hurt that her little boy resembles our sweet B. When I saw Sunny Jones was offering Mommy and Me mini-sessions the weekend of Mother's Day, I jumped at the chance! 

After I booked I was immediately nervous about the time frame - only 30 minutes - and our attire. Here come the rolling questions:
Will B be in a good mood? Was a noon start time the most preferable time? Will he get a good nap that morning? Would he need a bottle before or after? What if he gets sick in the next two weeks? What if he falls and scratches his face? What would he wear? What should I wear? Will 30 minutes really be enough time? What if he freaks out and refuses to smile?
The morning of was typical for me...wait until the last minute and rush out of the door, only to go back in to the house to grab the four things I forgot while Dad and B wait impatiently in the car. Luckily, B took a bottle and napped in the car. We arrived just in time for our noon session. 

Then the magic happened...

I put him on the pallet in Sunny's studio and he started smiling and posing like he was made for this. 

I'm this the same kid that produced these little gems from a previous monthly shoot at home.

Let us not forget these other quality photos that will make it in his wedding slideshow. But the cuteness doesn't stop here...

Those eyes...that pose...he was adorable on set but these photos are amazing! 

The book adds the perfect touch of reality; DUH, this is how we read books at home. Oh and let me know if you have a contact at Luvs Diapers. They are welcome to pay me royalties on the following pictures...

It's safe to say, the next time you visit our house, it will be disgustingly overwrought with pictures of our beautiful baby boy. 

A huge THANK YOU to Sunny for capturing these images. I can't help but smile, giggle a little, and shed a tear when I look at them. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tidbit Tuesday: Baby Food Recipes

B was two months old when he breastfed for the last time. I will tell you that I quit because my supply couldn't meet his demand or that anything I ate seemed to upset his stomach. But the truth is, I didn't like breastfeeding. This was tough for me to admit because I thought I would breastfeed until he was at least a year old. Realizing that not everything works the way you want it to is frustrating, especially when it comes to your baby. 

What Dad and I realized was that we were all happier with formula. It smells terrible, is a pain to mix, but it makes B's stomach happy, lets Dad connect with B during feedings and gives mom a break. We consider this a win/win/win. 

So I told myself after switching to formula, that when it came to baby food, it would only be the good stuff. So far so good! He has had some minimally processed foods, only the occasional food from a pouch and no french fries. Of course as he gets older and experiences new foods he will inevitably come across preservatives and highly processed snacks. But for now, I am going to keep him healthy with some of the following concoctions: 
  • Sweet potatoes - steamed with cinnamon and ginger, or roasted with savory spices
  • Peas - steamed and blended with olive oil, or served whole as finger food (which B hasn't quite mastered)
  • Corn - sauteed with cumin and/or garlic powder, blended with olive oil
  • Brussels Sprouts - steamed and blended with olive oil
  • Zucchini - steamed and blended with olive oil and garlic powder
  • Yellow Squash - steamed and blended with infused olive oil
  • Green beans - steamed and blended with olive oil and garlic powder
  • Lima beans - steamed and blended with olive oil
  • Spinach - steamed and blended with infused olive oil
  • Asparagus - roasted in the oven and mashed
  • Apples and Blueberries - 3 small green apples (peeled) with one cup frozen blueberries, steamed and blended
  • Peaches - fresh or frozen, blended and served with oats
  • Bananas - blended or mashed with cinnamon and/or ginger
  • Strawberries - chopped and blended, served with oats
  • Cantaloupe - cut and blended, served with oats
  • Mango - cut and mashed
  • Barley - cooked according to package directions and served with veggies
  • Bulgur wheat - cooked according to package directions and served with veggies or fruit
  • Steel cut oats - cooked according to package directions (plus about a tablespoon of coconut oil when making 4 servings) and add to fruit 
  • Chicken - grilled or baked with a variety of spices (Asian, Italian and Mexican, to name a few)
    • B first ate chicken at about 8 months old. I can't bring myself to blend meat, so he gets small bites. 
  • Chia Seeds - I started adding these to thicken some of the fruit. Great nutrients and they absorb liquid to help with digestion. I add these to my own greek yogurt and oatmeal. 

I use a Cuisinart food processor to blend and ice cube trays to freeze the food. I like to make baby food on a weekly basis, but usually only get to it every other week. Each night I get together his breakfast and lunch for the day to go to school. At first I blended the food so it was very smooth. Now, as he is exploring new textures, I like to leave it a little chunkier. He typically gets fruit and oats for breakfast and veggies for lunch and dinner. Sometimes he gets more fruit as dessert.

Ready to freeze - Blueberry/Apple, Banana and Spinach

So far he has been incredibly receptive to all types of food and spices! He definitely has weeks when he prefers fruits to veggies, but we try to mix it up so he doesn't get bored. And he has an extremely fickle appetite. I also like to be sure we eat meals together so at night we sit at the dinner table, turn off the TV and enjoy our dinner as a family.

B enjoying his first taste of rice cereal at 4.5 months.

Enjoying some sweet potatoes on the go! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Well of Emotions

You know that feeling you get when you are rocking your precious baby to sleep and he is calm, adorable and smells like heaven? It starts in your belly and creeps up through your chest to the bottom of your throat where it collects into a ball that you just can't swallow until you start crying because you are so overwhelmed with love for this human being you have created.

Precious sleeping B. 

It is a beautiful, scary feeling. You want to do everything you can for this child and be the best parent the world has ever seen. Of course, at this moment, the sweetly sleeping baby is awoken by your sobs and you have to collect yourself to get the little terror back to sleep. 

This is just the beginning of the well of emotions I have experienced as a new mom. Then there is the time when the tears of joy are replaced with sheer terror and dread. 

I get this feeling when I think B may be getting sick. Like when he vomits an entire bottle of formula or when he wakes up with a stream of green snot stuck to his upper lip and side of his face. The pit of my stomach that holds so much joy and love for my beautiful, blue-eyed baby boy is replaced with a gut-wrenching mix of anger and distress. 
Will the snot stay green throughout the day? Do we have any boogie wipes? Will I ever not smell like formula vomit? Will I vomit the next time it happens? Will the couch smell like vomit? Is there enough Febreeze in the world to combat the stench? Will he sleep at all? Will I sleep at all? How much baby Motrin can you give a child? Should I call the doctor? OMG, what if he needs antibiotics?! (see post from March)
Let me tell you, this kid can see the snot sucker from across the room and it sends him into a fit with arms flailing and head shaking. He hates having his nose and face wiped, acting as if his hand is being cut off. Sometimes when I see he has boogers in his nose, I leave them for a while. What does a little booger hurt? He could certainly care less.

But when I am rocking him to sleep, with or without a fever, it makes all of the terrible smells and snot-wiping well worth it. And in true B fashion, he is happy even when he is isn't feeling his best.

B at 4.5 months. Diagnosed with RSV three days later.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Momma's Wisdom

My momma left me with the knowledge I need to thrive in this life. She had 30 years to teach me everything she could, so by the time she passed away on February 17, 2014, I was ready. And I know that I am ready, not that it makes her physical absence any easier. Even throughout her battle with Alzheimer's she showed us all how strong a person can be and how much a mother can care for her family.

Linda Masden Steiner (1956-2014)

For my first Mother's Day, I want to share some of the tidbits my momma left with me. This is just a start and these are not things she necessarily said explicitly, more what I gleaned from her actions and admirable character. 

The one and only dance recital I performed in.
If you never met my momma, I am truly sorry. If you would like to get to know her better, we should hang out...I am trying to be more like her every day because she was amazing. 

My Momma's Wisdom (1 thru 25)

  1. Do what makes you happy.
  2. Racism and racial slurs are unacceptable. Everyone is equal and should be treated with respect.
  3. Eat dessert. Or have seconds, but eat what you want.
  4. Mourn death and then accept it.
  5. Wear less makeup and comfortable shoes.
  6. Marry your best friend.
  7. Smile.
  8. The kitchen is the best place in the house.
  9. Offer to buy homeless people food or give them your leftovers. If spare change is what you have, get it to them.
  10. Walk.
  11. Be nice to everyone. Hear their story if they want to share.
  12. Be confident.
  13. Sit at the table for family dinner.
  14. Good posture is important.
  15. Enjoy the beach.
  16. Spend time with family.
  17. Be a mother who is not always a best friend. 
  18. Don’t go to work or school sick. Perfect attendance isn’t worth it.
  19. Education is essential and good grades matter.
  20. No matter what you might think, it is not all about you. So get over yourself.
  21. Try not to judge others.
  22. Material things are not what matter.
  23. Birthdays are meant to be celebrated. 
  24. Encourage your children to try new things, but don't force them.
  25. Dinner should be enjoyed with music, not TV. 

Momma and Daddy on their wedding day (1981). 

I miss her but find comfort in knowing that she would be so proud. Happy Mother's Day. 

Momma meeting B at 6 days old. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Justice for the Sweet Potato

Since when do people not like sweet potatoes? As a Thanksgiving side, sweet potatoes are boiled to mush, drowned in butter and sugar, then topped with cinnamon and marshmallows. While this sounds like a perfectly lovely dessert, the sweet potato gets no justice here! 

I say...JUSTICE FOR THE SWEET POTATO. They are good and nutritious and easy and cheap. We have sweet potatoes at least once a week. Here is a vague overview of how I cook them. Let's call it an "unrecipe."


  • Sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Spice (s) of choice - Herbs de Provence; DAKs Original Red; salt, pepper and garlic; BBQ type seasoning; balsamic vinegar and honey; etc. etc.
  • More spices! Don't be shy, spices are good!


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Or 450 if you have something else to do at the that temp.
  2. Wash and pat dry. Cube sweet potatoes leaving the skins intact. However large or small you prefer, it is best to get them close to the same size. This is not my forte.
  3. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, pour some olive oil on it, throw the potatoes on top, sprinkle on the spice of your choice. Toss the potatoes with the oil and spices. *Be sure the potatoes have adequate space or they won't cook well.
  4. Put the potatoes in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes and temp of your oven. And also how you like your potatoes. 

Cubing sweet potatoes.
Sweets tossed in oil and spices.

As you can see, there is no real science to this process. Dad's favorite spice is the Herbs de Provence purchased from TJ Maxx, of all places. Then there is DAKs, a local company that produces a line of salt free spices. The original red is great for anything, but goes really well with the sweet potatoes for a spicy, smoky kick. 

Here are some tips: 

  • Sweet potatoes go GREAT with BBQ and spicy foods. The day Jim 'N Nicks starts offering sweet potatoes bakers, I may never cook again. 
  • They look beautiful on a plate with their rich orange coloring. 
  • I like adding leftover sweet potatoes to my salads; they add texture and so much flavor. 
  • If you have a fussy newborn and are trying to cook dinner, get a K'tan baby wrap. Just be careful around hot surfaces (duh).

B at 5 weeks with zombie Mom.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hangers Won't Start the Car

Last week I almost walked out of the house with hangers instead of my purse. 

Mornings at the Seal household are usually pretty smooth where B is involved. We have a routine and it works. After Dad shuttles B off to daycare I get up to 45 minutes alone in the morning...and it's kind of amazing. But for some reason I often find myself wandering around the house, haphazardly trying to straighten things up, put dishes away, contain the baby toys, or clean off the table. Half of the time I end up staring at myself in the mirror in the fourth outfit I have tried on, rummaging through laundry to try to find a specific shirt, or staring in the fridge trying to figure out what to pack for lunch. 

Waiting patiently while Dad gets ready.

By the time I find an outfit and lunch, there are clothes all over the bed. I attempt to straighten those up, then fold up B's blanket and toys, finish my hair, put on jewelry, unplug my flat iron, put other clothes in the hamper, collect the excess hangers, rinse B's morning bottle and leave it in the sink, grab baby items from the table and put them in his room, straighten up the changing table and his glider, shut the nursery door, grab my lunch see the problem? I never stopped to put the hangers in the laundry room! 

B at 4 months. Always happy in the morning.

Dad witnessed my strange morning drill a few weeks ago. After I walked in and out of the living three times in five minutes, he asked, "What are you doing?" My response, "I have no idea." 

I consider myself a very lucky person to have someone like Dad because we make such a great team and work together to be sure sweet B is happy on his way to school.