Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mmm...Frozen Food Cubes

Not only am I one of these moms, I'm also one of those moms.

Those homemade-baby-food-making moms.

After this experience with Turkish rice cereal, I decided to be done with buying pre-made baby food. I mean really, how hard could it be to make some baby food?

Turns out, it's not that hard at all! We got the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron before leaving the States, so I decided to consult it and figure out just how to make my own baby food. It's a great book; it gives a breakdown of how to make your own baby cereals, at which age babies can have certain foods, how to cook them, and a whole lot of other stuff. I haven't even had time to look at a lot of the book, but what I have looked at, I like!

So, for the last three months I have been a baby food making machine! Well, not really, but I have made everything that Lane has eaten, with the exception of some baby cookies that I bought one day while we were out, and some baby toast that she likes smeared with cream cheese.

Now that Lane is able to eat a lot of the same foods that we eat, I make less puréed baby food than I used to. I used to make zucchini, green beans, pumpkin, apples, pears, potatoes, and a lot of other things. Now I pretty much stick to apples (she eats them every morning for breakfast, either on top of pancakes or mixed with oatmeal), pumpkin, and zucchini. I like to have pumpkin and zucchini in the freezer for those occasions where we are eating something that Lane can't have yet.

You may think that making your own baby food is difficult or extremely time consuming.'s not! Here's how I do it:

First, chop up whatever you're making: zucchini, green beans, fruit, etc.

Apples, ready to be chopped.

All chopped up!

Next, if you're doing a veggie, steam (you retain more nutrients this way, but some things, like carrots, take forever to soften if you steam them) or boil it until it's very soft. If you're doing a fruit, I personally never cooked any of them for Lane...I just made sure they were puréed until pretty smooth.

When your veggie is done cooking, purée it in either a food processor or a blender, or use an immersion blender. In my experience, the regular blender works best for things like peas or green beans that have skins which don't get very soft even when cooked to death. Add some water (use the water you cooked the veggies with to add nutrients lost in the water) and purée until smooth. The immersion blender works best for things like zucchini or pumpkin, which get pretty soft when cooked and probably don't need added water. And the food processor works best for things like apples or pears, which have a high water content already but would not purée well in a blender.

Just toss your fruit in and pulse until puréed!

After your fruit or veggie is sufficiently puréed, spoon it into ice cube trays.

Puréed apples.

Three apples (two large and one small) got Lane 11 "portions"(two cubes) of apples.

Put your fruit or veggie in the freezer and freeze until solid. Run water on the bottom of the trays to loosen the cubes up. Crack them and put them in freezer bags and store for up to two months.

A picture from when we had a large variety of frozen food cubes.

So, there you go! It's really not been that difficult, and not that time consuming, either. It takes me an average of about 30 minutes (not including cooking time) per food, including the washing, chopping, puréeing, putting into the ice cube trays, and so on. As long as you do a large quantity, you could spend just 30 minutes to an hour per week and get between four and eight different foods for a month.

There are a few things I really like about making my own baby food:

1) I know exactly what's in it. I know that I washed the vegetables, that the potatoes weren't squishy and covered in eyes (that is what you call the black spots where sprouts grow, right?), and that the produce actually tasted good when I froze it.

2) It's nice to have a portion size of one cube, because then I can either mix three or four different things together (like sneaking in a small avocado cube, since Lane doesn't really like avocado) or I can just give her one kind of food. I don't have to keep up with lots of different baby food jars sitting around my refrigerator, and I don't have to worry about Lane getting a balanced diet, since I can mix-and-match as I see fit.

3) It's cheaper! I don't know how much jars of baby food cost in the US, but here they're about $.50 each, at least. I'm not for sure on the math, but I'm pretty sure that three apples, which equals 11 servings of apples, is cheaper than $5, which is about what it would cost to buy it pre-made.

4) This stage really only lasts for 4-5 months. Making homemade rice or oatmeal cereal is a piece of cake and not time-consuming in the slightest. Making purées is a bit more of a commitment. However, since babies don't start eating anything besides cereal until six months of age and then by 9-10 months of age they can gum a plum or a cooked carrot or potato, you really only need to purée food for them for a few months. Looking at it as a short-term commitment makes it seem more doable!

I'd like to encourage all of my pregnant or new-mom friends to try out making your own baby food when the time comes. When Shannon and I have another baby one day we'll see if I still think that making my own baby food is worth it (since I know I'll be keeping up with two kids and not just one!), but for's totally worth it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hawaii '09

So, last June we took a vacation.

To Hawaii.

And I never blogged about it. Between being pregnant, moving, finding a new job, having a baby, moving again, moving again, and oh, moving again, I never got around to it. But I had already picked out and resized all the photos from our trip to share with you all some day. My recollections of what exactly we did might not be the best, but some of my photos are pretty darn good if I do say so myself, especially for just a point-and-shoot camera. Without further ado I present to you...

The Scarbrough/Murphy Hawaii Vacation, 2009 edition

First, we drove to Washington DC and spent the night with a Polish friend of mine who I hadn't seen in about a year. She and her husband took us to the airport early the next morning and babysat our car for us. We caught a flight to Seattle and then a flight to Kauai.

Shannon's been to Hawaii two other times...2005 and 2007. I've been once: I went with Shannon in 2007. However, that trip was so short: Shannon's family was going to be there for two weeks, but Shannon was in a wedding in Texas the Saturday right in the middle of their two weeks, and my friend Diana was getting married in Florida the last Saturday of their two weeks, so...we went for 3 1/2 days. Do not EVER go to Hawaii for only 3 1/2 days (at least not from the East Coast), unless you stop over on your way to Fiji. It's gorgeous, yes, but a flight from the East Coast to Hawaii for only three days of surf and sun...I can't say it's worth it.

Anyhow, we first headed to Kauai. Shannon's folks and a couple of their friends picked us up at the airport when we landed after forever and a day of traveling. We got our bags and headed back to this fantastic house that they rented. It was the same house we stayed at in 2007.

The house is right on the beach, as you can see from the above picture. Literally, you can walk out the back door and be on the beach in like ten steps. It's great.

"Our" beach, early in the morning.

We did a lot of this:

Milton's favorite spot to soak up the Hawaiian sun.

And we did some things that I hadn't done before, like going to the North Shore (the Na Pali Coast) of the island. There you can hike on some awesome trails, which Shannon and his uncle and cousins had done in 2007. I wanted to go this time around but was still in my 1st trimester of pregnancy and not feeling all that hot. I felt it wise to just rest.

Weird trees on the Na Pali Coast of Kauai, at Ke'e beach. Notice all the roosters...they roam the island.

Shannon and I at cool caves near the Kalalau Trailhead.

We also went to a coffee plantation. We saw all the beans growing and got to taste lots of different kinds of coffees.

Rows and rows of coffee beans.

Did you know this is what coffee beans look like up close and personal?

The crew, in town for a smoothie.

In 2007 I got sunburned so badly on our 1st day there that I could barely bend my legs. I was wearing sunblock and it just didn't work so well. So I missed out on the fun things they did those 3 1/2 days. I was determined to make it up this time.

We did some "gentle" hiking:

Hiking through the jungle...

Saw a waterfall or two:

Wailua Falls, as seen in Fantasy Island.

Did some more gentle hiking:

Down to the beach.

And got views like this:

This is where I saw a sea turtle. I never could get a good picture of him.

Swimming in a pool of water protected by huge rocks from the crashing waves.

Kauai is where they filmed a lot of Jurassic Park, and you may feel like you recognize the majestic mountains.

Shannon and I in front of the Hanalei Taro Fields.

Trees like this can be seen in LOST (like when Kate hides from the smoke monster), although it wasn't filmed on Kauai, they have trees like this on the other islands too!

And after our six glorious days in Kauai, we headed to Maui for a couple of days.

Family. Milton (Shannon's stepdad), Sharon (Shannon's mom), Shannon, Me, and Brad (Shannon's brother).

But that's for another blog post.

One last sunset.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm an Aunt!

My sister had her baby today! Maddox Alexander was born at 11:20 a.m. after only 6 hours of labor! He weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz. and is such a cutie!

Doesn't my sister look gorgeous for having just given birth?

I have to say that this is one of those times that living overseas bites. We couldn't get our internet to work to save our lives, so it took forever to get to finally see a picture (like, 4 hours after he was born). It's no fun knowing that random facebook friends of hers got to see Maddox before I did. But the internet finally worked long enough to look at a picture! Maybe tomorrow we'll get to skype with him.

And, let me just say that a teeny part of me hates my sister. She was pregnant for a full 31 days less than me (and Maddox isn't a preemie!). Her labor was only 6 hours long. And she didn't have to be induced. But that's just a teensy part of me (Like .5%. And I don't really hate her: I'm just jealous). The bigger part of me is so excited and happy for her and Lucas that I can't help but beam with pride. I'm so excited for them as they embark on's the most wonderful adventure there is (at least of all the adventures I've been on)!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My New Baby

Well, I guess it's not technically new anymore, since I got it almost 4 months ago. But's a lot of fun. Nice, shiny, and pretty new. And it sounds pretty good, too.

Whaddya think?

My new Washburn Rover travel guitar.

As we were preparing to move to Turkey I kept thinking about my guitar. I hauled my beautiful Seagull guitar to Poland and back. I hauled it all around Warsaw, Rzeszów, Częstochowa, Mikoƚaki, and Wrocƚaw. And while I love that guitar and the sound that it makes, all I could think about were 1-1/2 hour commutes to get to the places where I'd be playing.

Look how tiny it is!

So when we discovered that each extra bag was going to cost us $200, I decided that maybe, just maybe, it would be worth it to buy a travel guitar that cost less than the price of checking my Seagull through. After finding this Washburn for only $150, we did it. (My brother is guitar-sitting my Seagull until we go back to the States and can bring it back with us). I am so glad! Each week I lead worship at our little church, so we travel all over Istanbul. With a baby and a guitar, things could be really difficult if I had my regular-sized guitar. But not with my travel is so easy!

Baby on the front, guitar on the back.

This is so nice! It has a great sound, is light, and the case has a couple of pockets and places for my tuner, capo, and I can even put my change purse and cell phone in there if I want to. Too bad there's not room for diapers and wipes, though...then it'd be perfect! The only thing I don't love about it is that because it's so small, I have to wear the strap even if I'm sitting down...otherwise it just sits too low. But seriously, if you're ever interested in a travel guitar, this one is great.

And just because she's so cute...check out Lane in her new hat and mittens!

Friday, October 22, 2010

9 Months Old

Dear Lane,

Happy Birthday! Today you are nine months old! We can't even believe you are so big! 3/4 of a's a big day! You've learned how to do a lot of cool stuff this past month!

First of all, and probably the biggest thing, is that you started walking. Yes, walking already! You took your first steps about ten days ago, and now you are good to go up to three or four feet, and occasionally further. You don't always choose to walk and often drop to your bottom since you're not really stable yet, but you definitely know that you can go short distances by yourself, like from one couch to another or between couch and chair, and so on. We can't believe that you are so capable on your feet already!

This month you also learned how to wave "bye-bye," and you wave any time the front door opens! You're still working on waving bye-bye when someone is leaving, as you often start waving to them after they've given up waiting on you to wave and are already gone! You learned how to clap your hands together, and when mom does "patty-cake" you start clapping at the right part, and sometimes even slap mom's knees too. You are also giving lots and lots of kisses now! They're big, mouth open wide, slobbery kisses, and if we're lucky we get a good bit of your tongue as well. :-) But they sure are sweet!

You have some new favorite toys: socks and shoes! You love to hold onto your socks and drag them around the house with you. Mommy thinks it's because of your fascination with fabric: socks are little pieces of fabric that are just your size! You also like to chew on your shoes, but we try not to let you since they've been outside and have lots of germs on them. Your other favorite toy is this little Shrek figurine that we got out of a bag of cereal. You love him. It is so funny to us! Daddy likes to hide him in the rings from your Fischer-Price Rainbow Stacker, and you dig him out. Or daddy will perch him on top of the stacker and you'll go grab him off! You're getting good at getting him off without knocking him over.

This month you had some more new foods! You've had cream cheese and broccoli, grapes and plums, pancakes, spinach, and cooked onion. You like them all! Actually, you love them all! You are a very good eater, Lane. For breakfast you usually eat either 1 1/2 4-inch pancakes topped with puréed apples or oatmeal mixed with apples. For lunch you eat whatever mommy and daddy are eating: chicken stir fry, minestrone soup, chicken noodle soup, pizza...whatever! You do the same at dinnertime, eating whatever we're eating. If we're eating something that you're not supposed to have yet then you get two cubes of pumpkin mixed with one cube of green beans and one cube of zucchini. You'll also get a scrambled egg yolk and maybe some toast topped with cream cheese. And in the afternoon after your nap you get some cut-up fruit (usually grapes) and a muffin (pumpkin or zucchini) or some baby cookies. We don't know where you put all the food you eat, because you're still so tiny!

You are still able to wear a lot of your 6-month clothes, Lane! But a lot of your 9-month clothes are starting to fit: you wear your 9-month onesies and pajamas, but a lot of the pants and dresses are just too big. Speaking of dresses, you are not a fan of them! Mommy thinks it's because when you wear a dress it's hard for you to crawl! Maybe by the end of this month you'll be walking more and then you can wear your dresses again. For now we just feel guilty when we put them on you! You have a doctor's appointment next Wednesday, so we'll get to see just how big you are then (update: 17 lbs, 4 oz, 28" tall, and 17" head circumference).

You're getting really good at your pincer grasp, unless you're trying to pick up something that's slimy, and then sometimes you still have trouble. You like to bang your food on the table, push it off and watch where it went, and smear it all over. You're really funny. You're still nursing 4-5 times a day, and mommy is so proud of us both for making it nine months with no formula! You love to nurse and often mommy can ask you questions and talk to you while you're nursing, and you'll "talk" back, making noises to answer! What a cutie-pie you are!

You love spoons, maybe because they're shiny, and you love to be outside. When we go to the park you like to "chase" the pigeons, but you haven't yet figured out that you'll never be able to catch one! You also want to pet every stray dog, but mommy and daddy won't let you and you get mad! There's a fountain at a nearby park and you want to just dive into it! At a local mall they have a huge fountain that dances to music and has lights that change are fascinated by it! And when we come to get you after you've woken up from a nap, you've always thrown the two stars and one moon that are attached to your pack 'n play out of it, and sometimes your blankie as well!

Every day we marvel more and more at how cute, sweet, and smart you are, and we cannot believe that God has entrusted you to us for this time. We are so grateful that we get to be your parents! We pray for you every single day and we love getting to spend our lives with you!


Mommy and Daddy

This was you at the beginning of this month: just learning how to stand on your own!

Now you love to walk, but you still want our help most of the time!

Riding a minibus: usually a good time!

Mmm, cream cheese! And you love to squish it between your fingers and smear it on the table too!

You are zonked! Snoozing on your tummy with your arms folded under your head and around your blankie. And don't forget the stars which you've thrown out of the pack 'n play!

Daddy's trying to get you to walk, but you're not too interested. But your tights are SO cute!

You love to be outside and like to pick up leaves and sticks off the ground. You tried to pull the leaves off this plant, but they wouldn't budge!

Most of your favorite toys are not toys at all: you like ladles and stroller wheels as much as your real toys!

Playing peekaboo on your 9-month're so happy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What a Day!

Today started out great. Lane slept until 8:20. Well, she woke up at midnight (she hasn't done that in awhile...I don't know what was up) and again at 5:00 (which is normal), but still, sleeping in made up for waking up twice! The day was beautiful...warm, sun shining brightly, a slight breeze. I let Lane eat pancakes topped with puréed apples for breakfast. And then we decided that since we haven't been able to do anything the past two Thursdays because of horrible weather that we'd head out to The Princes' Islands, a supposed "must-see" in Istanbul, after Lane woke up from her nap.

While she was sleeping, we got a package! Actually, we got three packages!

Two envelopes from Shannon's mom and stepdad, and a box from his dad and stepmom!

And what was inside?

Lots of clothes!

Lane didn't have very many long-sleeved things, since it was spring when we were in the States and people were buying her things. So, when it got cool a couple of weeks ago I requested a couple of things. My in-laws never cease to amaze me with their generosity: I was definitely not expecting so much stuff!

More socks! Check out the ruffles on those pink and white ones! Oh at the cuteness!

Warm pajamas, a zip-up sweatshirt (which Lane actually wore today), and more long-sleeved tops with matching leggings!

New Auburn gear! An AU onesie and a sweatshirt...we couldn't have her outgrow her other Auburn stuff before football season was over!

A button-up jacket/sweatshirt with matching pants, and a jumper with a matching onesie.

A new hat and mittens. Aren't these SO cute? The hat is still a bit big on Lane, but oh. my. goodness. SO cute.

So, Lane got lots of goodies today! Thanks SO, SO, SO much Lyn and Cindy and Sharon and Milton!!!

Ok, back to our day. So, after Lane woke up from her nap I nursed her, we ate lunch, packed our bag, and headed to the ferry port. Now, it needs to be mentioned that we are still very unfamiliar with things in Istanbul. I mean, there's only 20 million people here, so it's not that big, right? :-) We know our neighborhood pretty well, and we know the area between our neighborhood and the port pretty well. But beyond that...well, we just don't get out that much with Lane. All you parents know how it goes.

So, we showed up at the ferry port and heard someone saying that the boat would leave at 1:00 (it was about 12:40) so decided to wait there. At about 12:55 Shannon accidentally dropped his acbil (strange public transportation credit thing) in the water, so we ran off to get another one, and ran back to the dock. 1:00, 1:10, 1:15 all came and went and still no boat. Someone else told us 2:00, so we headed to a Starbucks nearby so that Shannon could use the bathroom. We got back and decided to investigate further, since Lane was becoming crabby and we hadn't seen a single ferry going to the Islands yet. Well, guess what? The next ferry wasn't until 2:20! We finally gave up and decided to walk around until Lane fell asleep.

Checking out the Bosphorus.

We ended up walking around for about 30 minutes with Lane screaming her head off. She was so tired, but I guess that since she's gotten to take every nap in her bed for the last three weeks she did not want to fall asleep in the ERGO. Let me also bring to your attention that Turks (so we've been told) don't let their babies or children cry. They give them what they want and do whatever they can to get them to be quiet. Enter the strange Americans who are just letting their baby scream. I mean, what am I supposed to do? The kiddo is tired and needs to sleep and I'm at least 30 minutes from home, so she might as well get over it and go to sleep! She finally fell asleep, but not before one old woman asked me if my baby was hungry, and not before another old woman sprinkled some kind of perfume on her (?).

Ahhh, blessed silence. We got ice cream and walked around a bit and finally decided to attempt to get to a discount mall that I had been to once, but never by public transportation. We finally made it after a long bus ride and then having to walk on the side of the highway for a bit since the sidewalk was under construction. We priced some electronics, looked for a noise-maker (no such luck...or at least no such luck in my attempted Turkish), checked out baby clothes, and ate at Sbarro for the first time (the verdict: not that great). We made it back home just in time to feed Lane a scrambled egg, get her a shower, and get her in bed before turning our attention to dirty dishes, stuffing cloth diapers, and studying language.

Sigh. What an exhausting day! Shannon and I were so frustrated...all we wanted was to go out and have a nice, relaxing day at the Princes' Islands. Instead we got 2 hours of a screaming baby, losing an acbil, and people never giving us the real story on what time the next ferry would be! Fortunately everything got better after Lane took a nap and we abandoned our expectations and decided to just enjoy our day. We should all sleep well tonight, though!

Tomorrow Lane turns nine months old. At nine months most women are able to say they've had their baby for as long as they were pregnant...but not me! I'll have to wait another 17 days for that statement!