Perfect Parenting

One of the toughest lessons I have learned since becoming a mother is how to let criticism of my parenting style roll off my back. Everyone parents differently, and every child is different. Just because a friend or family member did it differently to you does not mean you’re doing anything wrong. In fact, if you have a happy, healthy kid, then you deserve one of those “World’s Best Mom” coffee mugs. 

Since people became aware that you were pregnant, the influx of sometimes welcome, but oftentimes not, advice started to roll in about a huge amount of topics: breastfeeding vs formula, sleep training vs no cry, natural birth vs medicated vs c-section, when to move your baby to their crib, what foods to start with when beginning solids, etc. When this advise came from a fellow mother, I always assumed they were just trying to be helpful to prepare me as best they could. After all, I was a newbie at all things baby, so I’m sure they figured I could use some advise from their experience. When this advise came from a person who wasn’t a mother, I tried to assume that maybe they read this somewhere and just wanted to pass on that little nugget of information to help a girl out. 

However, once I started to get rolling with the whole “I have a baby” thing, and people just did not approve of the way I do things, that’s when it became a tad more difficult. I always knew motherhood would present me with many chances to better myself, but I didn’t know some of the trials would be coming from people not involving my son, husband, or myself. I had to learn to be more forgiving and less sharp tongued when presented with a person quick to criticize my parenting methods. 

I know I’m not a perfect parent. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing. You do what you have to do to make sure your child is happy, healthy, and ready to take on the world. If you worry about if you’re a good enough parent, you are, imperfections and all. 

15 Months

Although this has been a rough week dealing with a sick baby, Owen has perked up a little bit today, just in time to turn 15 months old!

I’m constantly amazed at how fast he’s physically changing and how quickly he’s learning. He’s turning into an active little man with a lot to say! He’s 25 pounds, and he’s about to grow out of his 18 month clothes. He walks everywhere and is working on his run, and he has turned into a climbing machine! I may have redo parts of his bedroom, the living room, and the master bedroom because now he’s able use other pieces of furniture to climb places he definitely is not allowed (tv stand, bookcase, and cat tree. Yikes!).

Owen loves to help me around the house. He enjoys washing dishes, swiffering, picking things up and putting them away, and helping feed the dogs. He also helps us put clothes on him, oftentimes insisting on wearing his shoes just because he likes them.

We’re still working on convincing him not to throw random stuff away in the trash can…

He recently discovered how fun it is to draw with crayons! I tape old newspaper ads on the floor with blue painter’s tape to use as a barrier between the picture and the floor. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s what a good all purpose cleaner is for, right? Today, we drew some cute stuff for Valentine’s Day presents!

I’m constantly impressed by how many words he knows. He’s still working on the pronunciation of a few of them, but he definitely knows what he’s talking about! His current words are: Dada, Mama, dog, that, cat, fish, truck (pretty much anything that moves with a motor is a truck), boat, duck, toothbrush, teeth, banana, up, down, hat, boots (all shoes are boots right now), cow, clock, ball, keys, and moon. He can also tell you how cows, dogs, and trucks go.

As always, this kid loves music. He dances when he likes a song, he enjoys playing the drums and piano, and he gets excited every time we show/ play him any kind of “boom” (instrument).


He still loves to read and play with trucks. He’s recently gotten more into throwing/rolling a ball and stacking things. He also has a huge soft spot for cuddly stuffed animals. He’ll walk all around the house, cuddling his toy of choice, and he’ll ask to bring it with him when we go out.

Owen love being outside, whether in his truck, on a jungle gym, picking up treasures, or just helping mama in the garden while laughing at the dogs. Today, he could not get over how funny the dogs where when they barked back at the neighbor’s English bulldog. He kept saying “Woof! Woof!” and was killing himself laughing at them.

I feel so fortunate to have the pleasure of watching my little man grow up. He’s so sweet and caring (he’s recently been giving some pretty amazing hugs and is always cuddling up to our animals), he knows how to have a good time, and he’s able to see the joy in life every day. It’s so much fun seeing the world through his eyes!

Top 5 Products for a Sick Baby

We’re on day 3 of Owen having RSV, and today he’s been especially congested, and, although the croup cough seems to have gone, his normal cough has gotten worse. Luckily, I have an arsenal of products in my house to make him as comfortable as possible while riding out this nasty virus. 

  1.  Humidifiers   The cool mist humidifier in the top picture has been running nonstop in his room since he developed his cough. However, today, since his cough is really bad, I decided that one humidifier in the house is not enough. So, I have a pot of water on a low simmer on my stove as well. I also decided to add some cinnamon sticks, oranges, and cloves to it so it can also give our house a nice smell. 
  2. Breathe Easy Rub I rub this on his back, chest, and feet (and then cover with socks) when it’s nap time or bedtime. It seems to really help him breathe, and the lavender is supposed to help with sleep as well. Its ingredients are all natural, which is also nice. I found this at Target. 
  3. Olbas Oil   This next one’s an oldie but a goodie. I didn’t often get sick as a child (and I still don’t), but, when I did, my mother always brought out the Olbas Oil. This stuff helps a stuffy nose more than anything else I’ve ever encountered. It has peppermint, eucalyptus, cajeput, wintergreen, juniper, and clove oils in it. You can put it on your pillow to help you breath at night, put it in hot steamy water and inhale to instantly open up your sinuses, put it on floor of the shower and then inhale while taking a hot shower…there are a lot of uses. For Owen, I put a bib on him and then put 3 or 4 drops on his bib, so he can continuously inhale it. Tonight, I put some on an old lovee for him to cuddle up with. It worked like a charm! He went from having to breathe through his mouth to easily breathing through his nose in a matter of minutes. It says you can put it directly on your skin, but I don’t. My skin’s too sensitive. Olbas Oil is a little harder to find. I’ve sometimes found it in a grocery store’s medicinal section, I’ve found it in Whole Foods before, and this particular bottle came from a British goods store. It may be a bit harder to find, but it’s well worth it. 
  4. Boogie Wipes  I stumbled across these months ago when I had a Cartwheel coupon for them. They’re saline nose wipes that help sooth a raw, runny nose. I don’t use them every time I wipe his nose since I’d be going through multiple packs a day on days like today, but I like to use then maybe once an hour, sometimes more if we have a particularly runny nose. He has yet to get a red, raw nose when sick. I found these at Target, but I know they can be found other places as well. 
  5. Healthy Homecooked Meals   Okay, so I know healthy meals aren’t exactly a product, but I feel they’re  essential to getting better quickly. I’m a big believer in nutrition helping to heal the body. When I’m cooking for a sick person, my go-to dishes are often (as cliché as it is) soup. The reason for this is you can make soup very nutritiously dense so, even if the person isn’t very hungry (like my son), what they do eat will pack a punch. The top picture is the lemon chicken soup I featured in my last post. The second photo may not be very photogenic, but it was very tasty when I made it for dinner tonight. 

Salmon Chowder 

Ingredients 

  • 3-4 potatoes, diced
  • 2 Tbsp onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp celery, chopped
  • 1 lb canned salmon (remove any skin or bones), drained and flaked
  • 1 cup corn
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (American) quart milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Instructions 

  1. Combine potatoes, onion, and celery in saucepan and add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Cook until the veggies are tender.
  2. Add salmon, corn, salt, pepper, and milk. Heat slowly until simmering. 
  3. Add butter and allow to melt. Stir. Adjust seasonings, if needed. 
  4. Serve with crackers or bread. 

It was a really quick and easy recipe. Once again, I didn’t have enough meat (I only had 12 oz canned salmon), but it still turned out great! Fresh, frozen, or canned corn would all work in this recipe. I mentioned that you use an American quart (4 cups) since a quart is not consistent internationally. 

What are some products (or recipes) you swear by when you little one is sick? 

When Your Little One Is Sick

One of the worst feelings I’ve ever encountered is knowing my baby is sick. You know they don’t feel well, and you would give anything to trade places with them. Since you can’t, you do everything in your power to make them feel as comfortable as possible. 

Last night, Owen suddenly developed a cough, which only got worse as the night wore on. Before bedtime, we did a quick run to Babies R Us to pick up a humidifier, knowing that cool mist humidifiers are supposed to help with coughs.  This bad boy has been running on high since last night. It seems to help, and the humidity in Owen’s room has definitely gone up. His curls are out of control!

 
At our doctor’s appointment this afternoon, we were told that Owen has RSV and croup. Yikes! Luckily, it seems to be relatively mild. The doctor was very impressed by how happy and active he is (except when they did the nose swab. He was not very happy about that). 

When we got back home, I decided that today ways the perfect day to make a soup I’ve had on the back burner for a little while, and I just so happened to have all ingredients on hand. It has plenty of protein, whole grains, and even some vitamin c in it. Perfect for sick little boys.  

Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup brown basmati rice (could also use normal brown rice)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten 
  • 2 cups chopped or shredded chicken

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat, add onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes.
  2. Add broth and rice. Bring to boil, lower heat  and simmer covered for 15 minutes. 
  3. Add lemon juice, egg, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Gradually whisk into Dutch oven mixture. 
  4. Add chicken and continue simmering covered until the rice is fully cooked. 

The soup was tasty, and Owen ate it up! Hopefully it’ll help get him feeling better quickly.

After dinner, we had a nice warm bath, force fed him his medicine (that boy is very squirmy), and put a pillow under one end of his mattress to slightly elevate it. We only did an abridged version of his nigh night routine because he was so tired. 

I’m so glad Owen only has a mild case of both sicknesses, but it’s still very hard to see him not quite himself. However, I know that I can only do so much, and the rest we will just have to wait out. What are some things you do to make your sick child more comfortable? Do you have any go-to recipes? 

Mom Friends

Since most of my mom friends don’t live near me, making new mom friends sends me, emotionally, back to grade school. To me, it’s akin to finding new friends when you’re the new kid on the block, or, even worse, dating. I mean, in order to find one, you have to put yourself our there when you’re at your kid’s events (I’m looking at you, library story time), not fully comfortable or sure of what to say. Do you ask them for their phone number so you can meet up again? Do you just play it cool and hope to see them around? Most of the time, I regress back to my shy kid days and just hope for the best: maybe they’ll ask for my number?

Luckily, I’ve found a couple of moms who saw through the socially awkward beginnings and gave me and my little buddy a chance (who am I kidding? It was probably because they couldn’t resist the cute munchkin I was with). We usually have at least one play date a week, other than our library shenanigans, and, not only can Owen play with someone closer to his age, I get to hang out with another person going through similar situations as me. We’re able to talk about anything from kid specific topics to family to our husbands. It’s just nice to have someone going through the same phase of life as you to commiserate and bounce ideas off of. I was so excited the day that I got a text message from someone not in my family for the first time in months.

 

Frugal meal of the week

We tried many new recipes this week, but this one was by far the best!

While making my meal plan for the week, I was looking at the ingredients I already had on hand and noticed a modpodge of frozen fish: a filet of swai because I decided I was not a fan of that fish, a filet of snapper, and a small freezer bag with some scallops in it. Separate from each other, none of these was enough for a meal for a family of three, and I started brainstorming what to do with them so they wouldn’t go to waste.

Then, I remembered one of my trips to visit my grandparents with my brother when we were young. My brother and grandfather went fishing together (my brother has always been an avid fisherman) while my grandmother and I hung out, and they came home with a random assortment of fresh fish and even an eel! My grandfather let my brother keep any fish he wanted to bring home to us.

I was completely stumped as to what my grandmother was going to make with such a strange assortment of fish, but, being the product of her frugal generation, she cooked up an amazing fish stew that was so delicious, I can still smell and taste it to this day.

With this memory fresh on my mind, I called my mother to see if she had a recipe for fish stew. My grandmother just made it up, being the culinary genius that she is. However, since I never made it before, I needed guidance.

My mother found an old recipe from when we lived overseas which called for ingredients she was pretty sure I already had on hand. I didn’t quite have enough fish, but I made it anyway. It was so tasty, and even my son ate it! It’s cheap and extremely healthy, and it brought me back to that summer staying with my grandparents.

Simple Fish Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 30 oz chicken stock (although I later added more while waiting for the rice to become tender)
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 2 1/2 oz long grain rice
  • 8 oz green beans sliced (I used frozen, but you can use whatever is on hand)
  • 1 1/2 lb fish, skinned and cubed (one fish, multiple fish, scallops..whatever you want!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat oil, add garlic, onion, and celery, and fry until softened.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, stock herbs, and rice. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add beans. Simmer covered until rice is tender.
  4. Add fish and simmer for 5 minutes or until fish is tender.
  5. Garnish with fresh parsley. (I totally forgot this part. Still good!)

My Challenge

In a world constantly on the go and with insanely impressive technology, I challenge you to take a day to unplug yourself…and your child. I think you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes in both you and your child’s attitudes, and you may notice some things you were missing before.

I’m not here to say that technology is bad. On the contrary, I love that I’m able to Skype with my family who live out of the country , I like being able to use social media to catch up with friends or find fun new recipes, and I’m always thankful to have unlimited information at my fingertips to look something up, if needed. However, towards the end of last year, I realized that I was loving technology a little too much. I felt like it was taking me away from enjoying the thing I enjoy the most: my family. 

I’ve since scaled it back and only go online at certain times (nap time and bedtime). If someone calls me, I’ll answer (most of the time). Other than that, my phone is only a camera, as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve also learned to put down the “camera” sometimes and just be in the moment – not watch it through a screen. Often, while I was trying to detox myself away from electronics, I would just leave the phone plugged in all day, not touching it at all. No photos, no phone calls, not texts, nothing. While kind of extreme, I feel like it helped reset me.

One day, I also “unplugged” my child, meaning no battery powered toys (he doesn’t watch TV). We don’t have many in our house, but we’ve been given a few over the past year or so. Since he didn’t have many to begin with, Owen barely noticed they were gone. However, I did notice that I sang to him more than usual because there was nothing else making sound (other than our crazy animals), and I found out that he was perfectly content “reading” a book while on the changing table instead of playing with a noisy truck (to distract him from going all Cirque Du Soleil while being changed).

The day was filled with playing outside, reading books, singing songs, and just a lot of hands-on activities with my son. Quiet reminiscent of my childhood, actually. And, although it was a bit quieter than our usual day, I also found it immensely enjoyable. And I was present for every second of it.