Archive for August, 2004

Organizing the Nursery

Thursday, August 26th, 2004

With the arrival of your new baby, the nursery quickly becomes the most important room in the house. You will want to make sure that the nursery is organized and fully functional, helping to make the transition of a new little one in your home as easy as possible.

The planning and preparations for a new baby offers no better “dreamlike” time to showcase your creativity, let your imagination run wild and create the perfect space for your new baby, after all the nursery will be her first dwellings! Make it a special and functional room, one that will always be cherished.

Begin with a theme and allow a few months for ample planning, shopping and decorating. Choosing a character or just picking a color is a great place to start! Make sure you have the essentials (whether borrowed or purchased new), if borrowing; remember to make sure all safety standards are met. The necessities are a crib, changing table and/or dresser, rocker/glider with or without ottoman and quality lighting. When purchasing your crib sheets it is a good idea to have one or two extra sets to use when laundering the other or when baby spits-up! A “Sheet Saver” is clever quilted terrycloth “mat” that lies across and on top of your sheet under baby to catch spit-ups and drool so that you only have to wash the “Sheet Saver” and not the actual sheet. These can be purchased at major baby stores nationwide.

A good way to save some money is to convert your baby’s dresser top into a changing table by adding a changing table pad on top. The drawers of the dresser can house your diaper change necessities as well as clothing. Whether placing these items in the drawers or using baskets on a changing table you should include: diapers, wipes, diaper rash ointment, Vaseline, cotton balls, burp clothes and baby lotion or powder. A small toy helps to entertain baby while being changed!

Investing in a quality glider or rocking chair helps to ensure comfort and ample opportunities for snuggling in the wee hours of the night. If nursing, an ottoman offers a place to put your feet up and get comfortable alleviating extra strain on your back.

Extras for the nursery might include a side table, perfect next to the glider for late night-feedings. This can house a clock and lamp and glass of water (if nursing) or bottle and other feeding items. Many parents swear by an armoire which is quite functional and almost always a lovely addition to a nursery. Great for little shoes and clothing and also offers additional storage for toys blankets and books. Shelving helps to display special keepsakes, organizes books and picture frames. A music box, CD or tape player helps to soothe baby to sleep. The newest versions attach right to the side of the crib and are operated by remote control so as to not wake baby.

The single greatest nursery organizer might be the basket! Varying in all shapes, sizes and colors they offer endless storage solutions for books, blankets, toys, stuffed animals, clothing, shoes, etc. In white wicker they look especially sweet in the nursery.

Special touches such as monogrammed linens or wall hangings, murals, sterling silver keepsakes; photos and framed artwork add character and panache to a nursery.

While getting the nursery prepared do not forget to pack the diaper bag…this is a great thing to have ready to take with you to the hospital or prepared for your first trip out with your bundle of joy. Diaper bag essentials are diapers, wipes, a change (or two) of clothes, burp clothes, plastic baggies, snacks and water for you, a pacifier, small toy, cell phone and lip gloss of course! Pack the bag and hang it by the door you come and go from. Other great ways to get “organized” ahead of time is to launder the baby’s clothes, hang them or put them into drawers. Organize the bathroom essentials such as the medicine cabinet and “bath caddy”. Be sure your medicine cabinet includes rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, gas drops, a First Aid Kit, Ipecac Syrup and an infant pain reliever/fever reducer. The bath caddy should include all you need to bring “bath” to baby…baby soap and shampoo, washcloths, a small toy, warm soft towel and baby lotion!

Follow these tips and you will have a beautiful, organized nursery in plenty of time for your baby’s arrival…Wishing you lots of love and joy with your new baby in his or her beautiful new (organized) nursery!

Make Your Own Baby Food

Friday, August 13th, 2004

I am definitely by no means an earth mother. I wish that I had more concern for our environment or had more time to think about what my child is eating. I know many mothers try to only buy organic products for their children to eat, but if my son is happy eating an overly processed disgusting hot dog, then that is what he eats.

Before I had my son I was going to plant my own garden, grow my own vegetables, and everyday I would go out to my garden to find that special piece of fruit or vegetable to serve to him. I would cook it and serve it at the perfect temperature and consistency. I frowned on mothers who actually bought store-bought baby food because you just “never know what is in those jars.”

I never did have a garden and I never hand selected each vegetable and fruit to put in my son’s mouth, but I can proudly say that I made my child’s baby food. To be honest, it is extremely easy and will save you an incredible amount of money if you can find the time and energy to do it.

I did a lot of research on the topic and found the best way for me was to devote a weekend to just making baby food. I honestly made a six month supply doing this and it took me two days, but we did save a lot of money.

I went to our local wholesale club and bought fruits and vegetables in bulk. The ones I found to cook the easiest were the ones that baby food you would buy on the shelves at your local grocer’s. Some of the fruits and vegetables I chose were pears, carrots, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, and apples. I also bought tons of ice cube trays and a food processor to complete the task at hand.

The best way I found to do this was to devote my time and efforts to a couple pots of veggies/fruits at a time. The important thing is not to overcook them and not to add a lot of extra water to the pot. The reason for this is that all of the good vitamins and preservatives will become null and void if you overcook the vegetable or saturate them in water.

After the vegetables have softened either through boiling or steaming them, remove them from the heat and put them in the food processor with either a little bit of water, breast milk, or formula. I chose to add water because the baby food will last longer if you do not put milk into it.

After they were pureed to a good consistency (very smooth when they are first beginning to eat, chunkier as they get older) then I spooned the mixture into ice cube trays. The reason for this is because this is the perfect size for their little tummies. When they are first starting out, they are only eating one ounce portions which are the exact size of one ice cube. I then topped these cubes off with water and then froze them. Once they are frozen you can pop them out of the trays and store them in whatever is convenient for you and your freezer space. We had a very small freezer so I stored them in large Ziploc freezer bags. Clearly label the bags with the date that you made the food, the date of expiration, and the type of food that you are storing. It is as simple as that if you want to do a large session of baby food cooking.

Many other parents chose a different method than this. You have to find what works best for you and your family. Some mothers simply puree whatever they are eating for dinner for their child at each meal. My main complaint with that method is that sometimes I chose to eat a little less healthy and my poor son (although he might have enjoyed it) would end up eating pureed chicken nuggets, burgers, or french fries. I also hate cleaning the food processor so I wanted to do this as little as possible as well. You have to find the system that works best for your family though. Below I have included just a few guidelines for making your own baby food. Please feel free to contact me if you have any of your own inventive baby food recipes or helpful hints to our novice baby food making mommies.

Freezer Storage Guidelines for Baby Food

Vegetables = 6 months
Fruits = Six months
Purees with milk = 4-6 weeks
Fish = 10 weeks
Meat & Chicken = 10 weeks

Sweet Potatoes

Peel or scrum and cut into ½ inch slices. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until fork tender. 2 1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes yields about three cups of baby food. Mash to the correct consistency.


Peel, halve, core, and slice the apples. Put them into a pot and add just a little water for cooking. Cook them on low heat until they have cooked down and are very soft. Puree the apples in your food processor or baby food grinder. If you would like to add a little extra flavoring, add nutmeg or cinnamon. Six medium apples should yield approximately three cups of baby food.


Peel, halve, and core pears. Cut them into small pieces. Put these into a pot and add a little water for cooking. Cook on low heat until they have cooked down and are very soft. Puree the pears in your food processor or baby food grinder.


Cut medium papayas in half and remove seeds. Scoop out the flesh and steam the flesh for three to five minutes. Puree in your food processor or baby food grinder.


Use the small baby carrots for this recipe. Boil the carrots in a small amount of water until they are nice and tender. Puree the carrots in your food processor or baby food grinder.


Cut an “X” into the flesh of each peach and blanch in boiling water for approximately one minute. Cool the peaches in cold water and then remove the skin and pits. Steam the peaches for about five minutes. Four medium peaches yields two cups.

Back to School Tips

Thursday, August 12th, 2004

It is hard to believe that summer is coming to a close, but the fall and school season is fast approaching. Our son will be beginning his first year of preschool this year and we are both excited and nervous. How nice it has been to not be on a schedule and to be able to lounge around in our pajamas, yet at the same time I am looking forward to having some time on my hands to tackle those projects that have been looming before me all summer long.

I remember the hectic mornings of my youth with three children in our parent’s house. I remember the constant fight over the bathroom, the rushed breakfast, our poor mom driving us to school every single day, and the frantic sense of urgency that we all had to get to where we need to be. I hope that with a few of these organizational tips that you can avoid those hectic mornings and be able to really sit down and enjoy that cup of coffee before your hurried day begins. Here are a few of my ideas for staying organized during a more stressful part of your day.

Plan Ahead

Much of the stress in our lives can be avoided if we can plan ahead and this is the case with returning to school. Usually the teachers send home with your children a list for what will be needed for the next school year and it is important to get all of the required items as well as several back-ups for later during the year. Take advantage of all of those back to school sales with the huge bins of notebooks, loose leaf paper, and pencils and stock up. Designate a spot in your home, which is accessible to the children, for storing all of your back up supplies. Be sure to check your local dollar store as well for the pricier items that your child will need in order to get started for the year. You will be very grateful when the spring rolls around and you do not have to make another trip to the store and pay higher prices for the same items later in the year.

Next, label, label, label. Everything will need to have your child’s name on it and you will be glad that you labeled your child’s items when another child accidentally brings them home with them. You can write your child’s name in permanent marker on belongings such as backpacks, lunch boxes, gym shoes, and other fabric items. For notebooks, pencil totes, and books it might be a good investment to purchase a self-stamping rubber stamp with their information on it or purchase address labels. A good place that I have found to get these is ChecksUnlimited and they offer a wide selection in different styles and fonts.

Be sure not to miss the child’s Back to School night and introduce yourself to their teacher. Be involved in any capacity that you can whether it is room mother, volunteer teacher, or just to help on those field trips. Not only will your child be grateful, but you can establish a relationship with the teacher and open the doors of communication. Remember that if you do not have a wonderful first impression of the teacher to reserve this information when you are around your child. Your negativity can rub off on them and immediately start the year off on the wrong foot.

Clothing Wars & Other Battles

Around the age of two or three you will start to see your child developing their own opinions on what looks good and what does not. Maybe looking like a “fashion don’t” isn’t of any concern to them, but it might be a concern to you on your child’s picture day. It can be a true battle of wills, but there are ways to help your child choose their own clothing with your help.

Invest in a five compartment sweater organizer and use the top one for Monday, the second one for Tuesday, and so on. On Sunday evening have your child help you plan the clothing for the week. Preset everything down to underwear, socks, barrettes, whatever you can do to help make their morning easier.

For younger kids, preset their combs, brushes, toothbrush, towel, and toothpaste so that they can quickly get ready in the morning without you getting everything out for them.

Be sure to have purses, briefcases, coats, and backpacks waiting at the door ready to go for you so that you don’t have to rush around getting everything together in the morning. You will be grateful when you don’t have to spend twenty minutes looking for that one paper or your keys when you are already rushed to get to where you need to go.


Much can be said about meal planning not only for your hectic morning, but also lunch preparation can be particularly cumbersome when you are trying to get your children to school on time. The supermarkets offer a variety of food that is both unhealthy and pricey, catering to the harried parent who doesn’t think that they have time to be creative. You will waste a lot of your money by buying these convenience and individually sized items. Instead of buying these, look for foods that are nutritious and which will offer your child the nutrients they need for energy to get through their school day. Buy large packages of crackers, cheese, milk or juice, carrots, celery, and other healthy foods and start by dividing these large packages into small lunch-size portions in baggies. Keep these baggies in a Rubbermaid container and then just grab them and drop them in the lunch boxes in the morning. Save your used yogurt containers and refill these with the boxed pudding or Jello that you can make large batches of for a fraction of the cost or refill them with yogurt from larger and less expensive containers. Instead of purchasing juice boxes or individual milks, fill a thermos with the drink of your choice. For younger children you can dilute the juice so that they are not getting too many empty calories. Be fun and creative with lunches and a little note to your child (or your husband for that matter) will really make their day and remind them of how special they are to you. By preparing these meals the night before, you will save yourself some time in the morning.

With that being said, don’t forget to offer your child a healthy breakfast in the morning. It is proven that children perform better on tests and have less health problems later in their life if their day is started with a healthy breakfast. Have a variety of foods on hand such as fruits, whole grain cereals, whole grain bagels, and other healthy foods on hand that your child can prepare for themselves. For the more motivated mother, you could even prepare large batches of French toast, waffles, or pancakes and then freeze them in individual portions for your child to zap in the microwave in the morning. I like to do this on Saturday mornings when I have more time on my hands to really prepare a nice morning brunch and just make tons of extras for those days during the week when I have less time.

Preset your table with silverware, bowls, and plates the night before. Place cereal and other breakfast items on the table where they are accessible to your child to help prepare their breakfast in the morning. Also make sure that your dishwasher is empty the night before so that you can immediately move breakfast dishes to the dishwasher avoiding a sink full of dishes to come home to after your busy morning.

Papers, Paper and More Papers

The beauty of your children’s craft projects from school will wear off if you are saving every single picture and drawing that they have done. Save yourself the loads of clutter by allowing your child to help you pick their most favorite projects for saving. Invest in a couple of inexpensive frames for their bedroom and reframe these periodically with their beautiful artwork or choose one picture for the refrigerator or front of one of your cupboards for saving. By allowing your child to help you choose, they learn the importance of weeding out paperwork.

It is also smart to create an area in your file cabinet or a plastic file crate for your child’s papers and report cards. Have them help you with labeling the folders or decorating them with stickers that they have chosen. This will give them a sense of ownership of their work and also teach them the importance of filing their own papers.

As a parent, your child will be bringing home lots of papers that require your reading or signature. Designate a spot in your home for an inbox and outbox for these papers. Label them clearly for your child and instruct them to unload their papers into the inbox. It also helps if you can create a box for them for their own room where they can put their own homework in that they need to do for the evening.

For papers such as emergency contact sheets, permission slips, and immunization records which come up frequently during the school year for field trips and sports, it is a good idea to invest in photocopying these documents and keeping them in a file for yourself so that you don’t have to constantly be signing and writing the same things over and over again.

When you get papers on bake sales, field trips, and other school events, be sure to immediately transfer these dates onto a calendar. If you have more than one child’s events to attend, assign each child and family member a color for their events. It will make it easier to see that it is Susie’s concert that you need to attend and not Billy’s. Buy a calendar that has plenty of room in it for all of your information and by immediately putting this on your calendar in a neat and organized way, you will have less chance of missing those important events. Consult your calendar first thing in the morning so that you know exactly what you need to do for the day.

A+ Work

Don’t forget to set aside some time in the evening for your child to work on their homework. By setting aside time in the evening you will not have to be trying to complete homework pages first thing in the morning. Take the time to check your child’s work and discuss their homework with them. If you have no idea what they are doing, bluff your way through it or run over to the internet and see if you can figure it out. Trust me, our parents did it- we just really believed them.

Now you truly can enjoy that cup of coffee, your morning paper, and your smooth morning.