Wednesday, August 31, 2011

my life in quilts

my grandmother used to quilt. she didn't really become serious about the art until my brother and i left for college. at that point, the time she used to spend with us she turned into time spent creating things for us as well as writing to us. my college years are punctuated by letters from my grandmother which came religiously, one every week for four years and by quilts, one for each of the stages of my life.

i traveled in a group in college and my grandmother made quilts for each one of us. we called them quillows as they were quilts that could be folded into pillows. she made ten of them in the course of three months so we would have something to sleep on during our long road trips.

she made me a picnic blanket quilt out of my grandpas old shirts. i think she was planning on many a romantic date for me and my potential suitors. she prayed for me everyday and knew i was going to meet my mr. right. word of her fervent prayers spread and my closest girlfriends started putting in prayer requests for my grandmother to pray for them to meet husbands of their own. (my friends are all happily married, by the way.)

when i finished college and was working and living on my own, she made me a lap quilt to keep me warm on nights alone in my apartment. i think she figured that if i was alone, at least i could be surrounded by something lovely.

her wedding gift to me was a quilt for me and my husband to share. she embroidered our names in one quilt square and then sewed, "love, grandma." it is still on our bed today.

when my first son was born, her baby shower gift was a little baby quilt for my first little boy. i had no idea how much my son would love that quilt but to this day, he sleeps with two blankets, one that was crocheted by my a girlfriend and the quilt that was sewn by my grandmother. he's now eight and still sleeps with it every night.

when my baby girl was born, i got another quilt. she was thrilled to have a great-granddaughter. after four great-grandsons, a great-granddaughter was something precious. it was the only time my grandmother got to use pink fabric. she has 8 great-grandsons...only one great-granddaughter.

when my third baby was born, i got the last quilt from my grandmother. he was born on the day my uncle, my grandma's only son, was found dead in his bed. it was also right around this time that my grandpa, who was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and had been given between three and five years to live, started to have his health decline. they had been married since 1943 and somehow, the two tragedies took all of the living out of her.

now she has been diagnosed with dementia. she doesn't remember me well and my kids are all strangers to her. she calls me, "the one with all the kids" because she can't remember my name. the last time i spoke with her, she said, "well, my husband sure liked you." i told her, "well, grandma, i sure loved grandpa too." she remembered that we knew each other but our relationship escaped her...except the part that we loved each other.

so now as i wash and fold each of my quilts, i feel surrounded by the love in them...the love that went into making them and the love that goes into the use of them. my kids will never remember my grandmother as i do but they'll have pieces of her in the patchwork of those quilts, her words of wisdom passed on through me, her recipes for fried chicken and texas chili and the prayers she prayed for my kids before they were even a possibility.

as i look at those quilts i am left wondering, what can i pass on to those who will never know me? what kind of tangible legacy can i pass on? if my legacy is only half as sweet as the one left by my grandmother, i will be happy. what love legacies are you creating?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

getting ready for baby: feeding older babies/toddlers

we're almost nearing the end of our series on "getting ready for baby." if you haven't read our last posts, you can check them out here:

we did a post on feeding for newborns, but feeding older babies is a whole different list of supplies. here are some of the items that we have found useful while raising our kids.

when you start feeding your little one, you will need spoons. there are all different kinds and i don't think one is better than other. here are two that i have used and liked.
Munchkin 6 Pack Soft-Tip Infant Spoon, Colors May Vary
Munchkin 4 Pack White Hot Safety Spoon, Colors May Vary

sippy cups
when the time comes to get your little one off the bottle, it can be a piece of cake....or not. my first born would only drink from a straw and my youngest took FOREVER to even learn how to use any of them. we went through tons of different brands and types.....but my very favorite is the gerber graduates one below. it only has three parts and is the easiest sippy cup to clean. i have now donated all of the other brands and style and ONLY use these.
Gerber Graduates by NUK BPA Free Fun Grips Spilll Proof Cup, 10 Ounce, 2 Pack, Colors May Vary

Dr. Brown's Soft Spout Training Cup, 6 Ounce, Colors May Vary
Munchkin 2 Pack Mighty Grip Straw Cup, 10 Ounce, Colors May Vary
Born Free Trainer Cup Colors Vary

rice cereal
at some point your child's pediatrician will tell you that it is time to start on rice cereal. take their recommendations on brand, if they have it. here are a couple brands i have used and liked.

HAPPYBELLIES Oganic Super Cereals, DHA, pre & Probiotics + Choline, Organic Brown Rice Cereal, 7-Ounce Canisters (Pack of 6)

Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal, 12 - 8-Ounce Boxes

making own baby food:
you may be ambitious enough to try to make your own baby food. i committed to doing it with my first and actually liked the process. the following were items that i used that helped to make the process easier. i *highly* recommend the baba cook. it was easy to use and a cinch to clean. 
Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Kit

baba cook
Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker

Beaba Babycook Travel Bag in Sorbet

storage for food
the following were my favorite items to use for storing my homemade baby food in the fridge and freezer. storing in the ice cube trays (as some people do) just didn't work for me. the small portions are great at the very beginning of feeding, but as soon as your little one starts eating any volume, i for one found them is up to you.
Fresh N Freeze 2 oz. Reusable Baby Food Containers 12-Pack

Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food and Breast Milk Trays

Ball Plastic 8-Ounce Freezer Jars, 5 Pack

pre-made baby food
pre-made baby food is amazing. i found that after i slaved away making food for my first-born that i could get almost the same quality in pre-made food. organic and amazing. these pouch baby food packs are my very favorite. they are so easy to use and my 3-year old even loves them and begs for them as a special treat (he is downing veggies like spinach and peas and actually asks for more....really?! dare i say that this product is a miracle in a pouch?!) these are also a favorite of my family on road trips. they are easy for the kids to eat in the car and are healthy to boot.
Plum Organics Baby Food, Blueberry, Pear & Purple Carrot, 4.22-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24)

Plum Organics Baby Food, Pumpkin & Banana, 4.22-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24)

Plum Organics Baby Food, Spinach, Peas & Pear, 4.22-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24)

Plum Organics Just Fruit, Mangos, 3.17-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12)

Plum Organics Just Fruit, Pears, 3.17-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12)

buy a large amount of bibs and you will be glad that you did. they will help avoid some of the laundry and perhaps salvage the cute top you dressed your little one in.
green sprouts Eco-friendly Waterproof Absorbent Terry 10 Pack, Boys

nothing special here. just find a find a style that works for you. here are a few that i have tried over the years and liked:
Munchkin 5 Pack Multi Bowl, Colors May Vary

Gerber Graduates by NUK BPA Free Bunch-A-Bowls With Lids, 4 Pack, Colors May Vary

Munchkin Three Stay Put Suction Bowl 3-Pack

travel table place mats
once your little one gets to the stage of trying to feed themselves a *ton* may end up on the floor. here is a product that i liked that helped cut down on the mess for me.
Summer Infant Tiny Diner, Green

these disposable travel place mats are fantastic. no one really wants their child eating of a restaurant table. these are your answer. thank me later. :-)
Sesame Street Table Topper Disposable Stick-on Placemats with Reusable Pop-up Travel Case - 50 Count

munchkin snack catcher
i have found these to be heavenly for feeding my little ones snacks like cheerios or goldfish crackers. i have gone through a ton of different brands and these are the best by far:
Munchkin Snack Catcher, 9 Ounce, 12+ Months

teething mesh feeder
this product is great for ice or pieces of fruit like bananas or strawberries or other mushable fruit that could be a potential choking hazard.
Sassy Teething Feeder, Colors May Vary

a must-have product for when your little one is ready to start self-feeding, but it not yet ready for goldfish crackers, etc. puffs are easily digestible and melt in your little ones mouth so they won't be a cause for concern regarding choking.
HAPPYBABY Organic Puffs, Greens Puffs, 2.1-Ounce Containers (Pack of 6)

Gerber Graduates Sweet Potato Puffs, 1.48-Ounce Canisters (Pack of 6)

high chair
you will need one. pay attention to your home and your needs. sometimes a big highchair is just too big. we have found that we really love a portable travel high chair so our little man can sit at the table with us and we can also use it when traveling.
Fisher-Price Zen Collection High Chair

travel high chair
Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat, Red/White