Monday, September 29, 2014

Feeding Four Under Four: Homemade Baby Food

Fiery maple leaves, bright blue skies, crisp mornings....yep, it's fall.  Today's highlight was making homemade applesauce with my girls (read on further for those details).  But it also marks 6 months since our baby Joseph has joined us, and with that age usually comes solid foods.  So I thought I would share some encouraging advice for anyone thinking about making homemade baby food.

I've done the store-bought food, and yes, it is very convenient, but consider how long those containers have been on the shelf....maybe longer than your baby has been alive?  And I've also found the store-bought foods a bit watery.  And quality aside, those individual containers are expensive and create a lot of unnecessary rubbish.

It really does not take that much time to create a stash of pureed foods, but there are a few helpful tips that make the process easier.

I do not have a food processor, but everything I have made so far has been just fine in a regular blender.  As for storage, I have been using milk storage bags for mothers who choose to pump their breastmilk.  They are just the right size, and most brands are BPA free.  You can freeze them, and then easily take them with baby when you go out.

Before you just throw whatever fruits or vegetables you want in the blender, consider the skins.  Even pureed in a blender, some skins might be tough to puree.  I've made baby food from pears, peaches, and apples, and I have peeled them all in order to make the consistency smoother.

Secondly, consider the hardness of the fruit or vegetable.  Throwing raw carrots in a blender will take a while before turning smooth.  Some foods are soft enough that they could be mashed with a fork (think bananas and avocados).  Most raw fruits and vegetables are easier to puree if they are steamed first.

Here is a quick review of what Joseph has tried so far:
pears- a strong flavor, but good!
bananas- sweet and delicious!
green beans- not so much
apples- yum!

And now for homemade applesauce!
Don't be intimidated by the title.  It's really just steamed apples churned in a food grinder.  (My mother-in-law gave me this contraption a few years ago, and I finally pulled it out of the back of a cabinet to try it with my girls.  Otherwise I would have just thrown the apples in the blender.)

Super easy applesauce:
1.  Peel, core, slice the apples.
2.  Drizzle a little lemon juice to keep the color.
3. Put the apple slices in a saucepan, add some water.  Bring the water to a boil and then simmer until the apples are soft (about 15 minutes).
4.  Throw everything in a blender, or churn them in an applesauce grinder.

You can also add sugar, cinnamon, etc. but I wanted to keep things pure and simple.  Our batch didn't need the extra sweetener, but a dash of cinnamon made my girls give it a double thumbs up!

Bon appetit!

Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes: When the husband is away...

So this week the hubby chaperoned a student field trip to a play in Washington, and he has weekend duty in the student dormitories, which means at least three nights of mom-running-solo dinner and bedtime.  7QT's on how one of those nights played out...

Late afternoon: Joseph had woken up from his nap and was making some noises in his pack n play.  I realized that he may be hungry, so I sat down to nurse him while the other kids were still sleeping. So peaceful.  Then I realized that he was gagging and I sat him up so he could cough.  Deep coughing ensued, followed by projectile vomit all over my favorite chair.  Nice.

I decided to make a cheese pizza with the kids for dinner.  It is really important to me that my children see where their food comes from, and understand the labor of love that is required to get it on the table.  They love to help in the kitchen, so let's go with it!  

Of course, preparing dinner with children takes beaucoup de patience.  There was bickering at whose turn it was to help with the pizza dough kneading, there was the multiple-explanation of instruction, there was the ignoring of the extra mess from uncoordinated hands....but the finished product came out fantastic, and they were quite proud of themselves.  Bravo!

Unfortunately, the time it took me to monitor the pizza making was the same time little Joseph was falling into a dark category of tiredness.  I knew he was probably hungry after throwing up everything in his little belly, but because I was occupied with the little chefs in the kitchen, he had to wait for Mom's attention.  By now he was extra hungry and fussy.  Translation: solid food, even though it would probably fill him up more than a liquid dinner, was not going to be even tolerated.  I finally got the pizza in the oven so I could nurse him.  Oh, he was mad.  The plight of the fourth child...

Whiling I was nursing my grumpy infant, my little pizza makers (they had now switched gears and were pretending to be a family of cats...I think) announced that one of the neighbor's cats had found her way upstairs.  This cat has recently been just wandering into our house and making herself at home in whatever room she fancies.  One time I saw her emerging from under our bed.  So here I am now with a (finally) calm baby who is (finally) allowed to have his dinner, and as I would prefer not to remove him from my lap, I encourage the kids to see if they can chase the cat outside.  I hear three little voices roaring at the cat, and then Elisabeth explaining to me that their "powers" were unable to chase out said kitty.  I would have laughed out loud had I not been thoroughly irritated by the cat, and too comfortable with the calm baby.  Finally I was able to finish with Joseph and chase the cat out (and close the door) at the same time as the oven buzzer was going off.  Elisabeth excitedly praised my "powers" for being stronger than hers.  

Fast forward through tubby time (it was truly uneventful...thank God!) to when they are clean and in their pajama's looking through the library books we had picked up earlier today.  Gregory climbs on the chair next to his big sister Margaret and in his best baby speech, complete with long pauses and mispronunciations, asks "Geggy wead wif you?"  And of course Margaret easily made room for him and didn't even bat an eye that she had to share her space.  

I took a mental picture and wanted to frame it in the depths of my heart.  The image of Margaret with her rumpled up wet hair, wearing one of my husband's t-shirts (she insists on wearing them as nightgowns), cuddled up next to her little brother in blue-striped footy pajama's.  How is this stage so intensely extreme?  It is either the point of ripping my hair out amid the loud and chaotic behavior, or it is the sweetest and purest expression of contentment.  

I've been pondering 1 Corinthians 13 as it was in the daily Readings this week, and reflecting especially on verse 5:  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

How often have I felt irritable or resentful towards my kids?  How often have I engaged in a power struggle with a little child over something so minute, but I had to demand it be done according to my attempt to control the situation?  Not feeling too great about this. 

And then I read the latter part of the chapter.  Verse 7: It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Sure, having little kids is hard work and it demands an unimaginable level of patience at times.  It means little sleep and a messy house, etc.  I get all that.  But as I look at them reading and snuggling together, I have hope for their future, and a refill of grace needed to endure the daily home life.  

God is love.  I am merely a reflection of God's love, so in this present life I can not expect to fully comply with all the qualities of love that St. Paul describes.  I have hope, however, because as verse 12 states: At present I know partially; then I shall now fully, as I am fully known.  

Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday!

Friday, September 5, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Preschool, Grad School, and Bug Bites

There has been a lot of news chez Lynch this week! 

The big news chez Lynch: The hubby has finished all his coursework for his online Master’s degree from Holy Apostles Seminary!  The last step is to pass the comprehensive exams.  Then he will be DONE!  We were able to celebrated at home during our final week of summer, and I am pleased to say that the hubby is much more relaxed.  Wait, don’t teachers get the summers off?  Don’t go there.


Our twins started preschool this week, and they were beaming on the first day.  That is, until I came to pick them up.  Elisabeth burst into tears, and had a mini-tantrum: “I want to staaaaay!”  I am so pleased they enjoy school, however short and infrequent it may be. 

They have preschool from 9-11:30 twice a week, which may not seem like a lot at first glance, but it has brought me enough time to think.  I have the freedom of going to the supermarket with only two kids.  I can go to the school track and let Gregory play in the grass while Joseph naps in the infant carrier.  The other day I did just that, and I actually got in 3 miles.  It felt fabulous. 

And then it hit me: ever since I made the decision to be a full-time, stay-at-home parent, I have never had less than 3 kids at home. When the twins were babies I was working full-time, and I worked up until Gregory was born.  This would probably explain why I have so much trouble getting up in the mornings.

All that being said, I can’t help but feel the small pinch of bittersweet reality: the girls’ baby stage is over.  And as much as I am excited for them, I’m not sure I like it.

This weekend Gregory had some kind of allergic reaction to a bug bit.  It must of happened on Friday evening when we were all out at the playground after dinner.  By Saturday morning he had a goose egg on his forehead that looked as if he had bonked his head.  Ice didn’t really help.  In fact, it got bigger, as in, it spread out. 

Being teachers, Greg and I have been to enough allergic reaction talks led by our respective schools’ nurses to mildly freak out.

We called the pediatrician who assured us it was probably just a bug bite, and not to worry if the swelling moved down to his eye area.  Well, it did.  Poor guy looked like he was on the losing end of a bar fight. 
It has since cleared up, and perhaps I am overreacting, but it has made me turn to mama bear mode whenever a bee flies by.  Has anyone else had a child that experienced such swelling from a bug bite? 

The students are back on campus at our boarding school.  Their presence certainly brings a certain buzz to the campus.  Unfortunately, that means that the hubby has certain night duties and school meetings in the evenings.  Like right after dinner until after bedtime is over.  I put four littles to bed all by myself for two nights in a row.  Awesome.  Can we all have a collective sigh that summer is over? 

Now this was the exciting news for me this week: I was featured on another blog!  A blog with a significant number of readers!  You can check it out on Blissful and Domestic.  It was so encouraging to receive such positive feedback.  Yay!
Danielle has an ongoing series, “A Day in the Life of Her”, an effort to showcase the real lives of women and to de-bunk the myth that the perfect woman exists.  Check it out! 

I am definitely hooked on this blogging thing, and in my following of certain mommy-Catholic blogs I stumbled upon this new project, Blessed is She.  The site will give you the Scripture readings for the day as well as a short devotional written by some very talented bloggers.  I was actually lamenting the fact that since becoming a Catholic, my daily Bible reading habit has admittedly become a less urgent part of my spiritual game plan.  (Sidenote: not long after I rejoined the Church, the twins were born.  That might have something to do with it too.)  But no excuses anymore: I am inspired daily by the Word and encouraged by these devotions.  Hey, Catholics need to know their Bible too! 

I will end on a lighter note with some pictures from this weekend at a local farm pig roast.  There were plenty activities for the kids (hay rides, a petting zoo, even a bouncy house), and even some for the, ahem, big kids.  My husband wanted the whole family to experience the thrill of corn launching using a compressed air gun.  Have you ever seen the show “Punkin’ Chunkin’” on the Discovery Channel?  It was a bit like that, only with corn.  Welcome to ‘Murica, folks.

Read more 7 Quick Takes from Jennifer Fulwiler and others at!

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