Caring for a sick Ava

This past week Ava has been dealing with and recovering from a cold.  Today, she is back to 100%, except for a lingering clogged nose.

Like any other mom, I hate when my child is sick.  It drains my soul and pushes my anxiety to new heights. But, thank God, this is only the second time that Ava has been sick in her almost 10 months of life!

#tbt to a less sick Ava. Luckily she is recovering like a champ! And so far, she is sleeping well.

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::Last time Ava was sick::

Her symptoms started innocently: a stuffy nose.  Then her eyes were constantly watery and glassy (along with lots of mocos, according to my babysitter, haha).  I thought maybe it was allergies.  The next day she was irritable and clingy.  I thought maybe it was because of her teeth growing in (her four top teeth are all coming in at once…yes!…said no mom ever).

That same day Ava wasn’t eating as much as she normally does. That was a red flag.  Because if there is anything that this girl likes to do, it’s eating (followed by terrorizing our chihuahua and sleeping).

Then I discovered that Ava had a fever.  She looked flushed and felt hot to my lips when I kissed her forehead. Her temperature was almost 101 degrees. I think my heart dropped when I read the thermometer, even though I knew that it was a low grade fever and not something to freak out about.  But I think that as a first time mom, my simple mental equation is fever = very bad & serious.

The worst part about having a sick baby is trying to play the guessing game as to what is wrong.”

I was able to get a same day doctor’s appointment and he assuaged my fears & mental ramblings of “what if this…” and “what if that..”.  He diagnosed Ava with a simple viral infection, aka, a cold.  He directed me to give Ava Tylenol when her temperature reached or was above 101.

After her appointment, I decided to give Ava all my love, energy, and attention, leaving work or anything else for nap times only. My number one goal was to keep her super comfortable and to hopefully reduce her cold symptoms.

Since cold & flu season is approaching, I wanted to share some of the things I did to help Ava recover quickly and as comfortably as possible. Do you have any other home remedies for babies & small children? Include them in the comments below!! 

PicLab

  1. Baby Chest Rub, a.k.a., Vicks Vapor Rub

Why: Has anyone ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Do you remember how the father believed that Windex was the cure all for everything? That is how I feel about Vicks Vapor Rub.  Go ask my parents–they’ll tell you.

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I swear by the power of Vicks for stuffy noses.  My grandmother used to use it on me every time I was sick.  It’s so great for opening up a congested nose.  Also, it is just soothing to feel someone rubbing your chest and back when you are a sick, little kid.

Hispanic Parents put "VICK's" everywhere when your sick! ft. @_camilaainc #TeamLeJuan

A post shared by LeJuan James (@lejuanjames) on

::click image to play::

2.  Little Remedies Saline Spray

Why:  Ava HATES this stuff. I literally have to wrestle her to get even one drop into her nose (you may laugh now, but you try fighting Ava–she’s really strong!).  After I finally get a few drops into each nose, I suction out (click here for link to the nasal aspirator that I use) whatever guck is in her nose.  This stuff is great for simultaneously moisturizing and drying out her nose. I administer it every morning & night, at least.

I live for those pouty lips. She was so congested and feeling under the weather. It was a miracle that she was able to fall asleep.

I live for those pouty lips. She was so congested and feeling under the weather. It was a miracle that she was able to fall asleep.

3. Tylenol (for babies)

Why:  Not much to write about Tylenol.  It’s a fever reducer.  Enough said.

4. Campbell’s Chicken & Rice Soup

Why:  Sadly, I don’t have a real reason for this one.  Everyone told me to do it and I myself am a believer in the great healing powers of Chicken Soup.  I know it can help with dehydration.  Since Ava wasn’t eating a lot, it was great that this was appetizing to her and that she actually ate it. I fed it to her in small portions once a day (I kept the left overs in the fridge).  My babysitter swears by the below soup, as opposed to the Campbell’s brand, but I didn’t have time to run out and buy some. It’s called Maggi Sopa Sabor a Pollo con Fideos/Chicken Flavored Noodle Soup Mix. 

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5.  Babies R Us Crane Humidifier

Why: I put this on every night to help Ava breathe a little better.  It adds some moisture into the air.  I ran it every night.

Now that I’ve listed a few of my go-to remedies, what are some of yours?

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Blue Apron Review: Promo Code Included!!

We have all been there.  Looking in our fridge, scratching our heads, wondering what to make for dinner.  Or, trying to think of a new, creative dinner (yet healthy) in order to break the monotony of eating our “go-to” meals.  For me, that’s baked chicken or baked salmon with sides of baked sweet potatoes or brown rice with veggies (can you tell I like baked items?).  Combine that with being short on time and the idea of healthy meal planning becomes an arduous task.

In a casual chat with one of my girlfriends, Brittany, I discussed how hard it can be to meal plan AND to go food shopping.  Excitedly, she told me about a food service that she uses called Blue Apron.  Blue Apron is a snazzy food delivery company that ships a box of pre-portioned ingredients to your doorstep, along with detailed recipe cards for three dishes.  She proceeded to show me a stack of glossy recipe cards with familiar, yet exotic dishes.  Calorie counts and educational asides were included on the cards.  I was intrigued.

To be honest, I was wary about the service–were the food portions going to be enough for my husband and me? (Yes, they were perfect.) What if I didn’t like the food but already committed to it? (You can cancel or modify an upcoming week’s meal online if you don’t like what is being offered.) What if my food bill was now even higher because of this “added” expense? (My food bill was actually LESS expensive. Adding the cost of Blue Apron ($59) with my food bill, I STILL spent less than I would normally spend on a weekly basis.)

So I took a baby step and tried a few of their online recipes. I tried the Crispy Catfish with Sicilian Eggplant Caponata.  Obviously, I didn’t have catfish & eggplants laying around the house, so I had to plan a shopping trip.  I also had to pick up tomato paste, rice flour, capers, and red wine vinegar.  I had to forgo the marjoram because I couldn’t find it (honestly, I never heard of that before).  The finished product was great (click here for blog post on that dish), but I was left with a lot of extra ingredients that I will probably never use again.  What a waste of money.

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

From Instagram, Livingfortwoplus

I decided to try out the service. What’s the harm? I told my girlfriend I was thinking about trying it out so she gifted me a week free so that I could try it “commitment free” (Disclaimer–>I DID have to enter my credit card info, but I could cancel before they charged me if I didn’t like my first free week of food).

On Saturday, I got a gorgeous and impeccably organized & insulated box of food delivered to my door. I got three selections of raw meat that were sitting on ice packs. Separate from the meats were various vegetables and “knick knacks”–all labeled and perfectly measured for their corresponding recipes. The recipe cards were super stylish: large glossy cards with pictures detailing each step of the cooking process. 

Since I had three meals already taken care of, all I had to do was think about two other meals for the week. I found the inexpensive solution of buying a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club for under $5. I then bought some other basic necessities like bread, milk, etc. My food bill was $50–more than $75 less than what I normally spend.

A recent study showed that when customers purchased the ingredients in one Blue Apron delivery at grocery stores (from local grocery stores to Whole foods) in five different cities, the ingredients were 60% more expensivethan a Blue Apron delivery, and fewer than 75% of the ingredients were available at any one store on average” (Blue Apron, About Us)

The meals:

I had this, this, and this. The recipes took me out of my comfort zone, as I never really “seared” anything before, made cod fish, or prepared an Indian dish. Each and every dish was absolutely lovely. The only downside was that since it was my first time making these meals (and I had a busy baby in the background), it took me a long time to get through preparing each dish–washing & chopping the veggies, rereading the recipe cards, and debating whether or not the meat/fish was fully cooked. If I were working full time outside of my home (instead of being a WAHM), I’d have to prepare these meals on the weekend.  Or, maybe over time, I’ll get faster.  Also, the other downside is that there are no left overs.  So I’d recommend opting for a family plan if you are looking for extra food to last more than one day. 

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Special promo for you!

I reached out to Blue Apron to 1) tell them how much I love their service and 2) see if they would be interested in offering my blog readers a promotion code so that you all can try out Blue Apron.  I figured many of you would appreciate a few free meals (without a shopping trip). So here you have it faithful reader, a promo code so that you too can fall in love with Blue Apron –> My first 50 readers who use this link will get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Box (for first time customers only).

Some cool Blue Apron facts from Blue Apron’s About Us

Blue Apron is building a network of family farmers that champion sustainable farming practices.  These direct farmer relationships allow Blue Apron to give customers access to hard-‐‐to-‐‐find seasonal produce (e.g., fairytale eggplants, fiddlehead ferns, watermelon radishes and micro-‐‐basil).”

As of June 2015, over 1.1 million pounds of specialty crops were  planted and harvested by small, family-‐‐run farms for Blue Apron recipes. “
Blue Apron ships over 3 million meals per month to 99% of the U.S.”

I really, really, really hope that you enjoy Blue Apron as much as I did.  I decided to keep my subscription, so I got my second box of food yesterday.  I can’t wait to write & to post Instagram photos about this batch of food (follow my Instagram page here.

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Baby Food Ideas with Fruits, Veggies, and Poultry

Every few weeks I head over to my local Spanish supermarket, Fiesta, in order to pick up Ava’s favorite cereal: Nestum.  She loves this stuff.  When she first started eating solids, she couldn’t stand the standard American option of Gerber–it was the spicier Nestum that got her tastebuds hopping.

During my last visit, I walked through the baby isle and took a look at the jarred baby foods.  I hardly ever look at the jars because I make all of her food at home.  I use a Baby Bullet and I’ve had a lot of success with it.  But I make simple and bland things–sweet potato puree; mashed peas; applesauce. I looked at the jars on the shelf and there were so many interesting combinations: turkey with a starch and veggie puree; mixed fruits; mixed veggies.  I felt really bad that I wasn’t making such cool things too!


I bought some veggies and other items with the intent of making some new & interesting meals for Ava.

The results were fabulous.

Mango Applesauce:

I can’t have a little girl who already has a propensity towards Caribbean culture to not like mangos.  So I decided that might be fun to mix in with her standard applesauce.  It’s so easy too.

  1. Wash fruits.
  2. Peel, core, and chop up 2 apples.
  3. Steam apples until soft.
  4. Place in blender with slices of 1 peeled/deseeded mango
  5. Puree until desired consistency is reached.  Thin out with water if needed.

This will give you enough meals to enjoy for 4 days and freeze leftovers!

It’s sweet, delicious, and pretty to look at.  I even enjoyed a taste.

Sweet Potatoes and Peas Puree:

Ava loves sweet potatoes.  She loves peas (I use Birds Eye Frozen Peas, which have no additional or artificial ingredients).  So why not combine them? It is a nice, heavy meal, and is likely to make her sleepy (not a bad thing!).

  1. Wash sweet potato.
  2. Peel & chop up 1 large sweet potato.
  3. Steam sweet potato until soft.
  4. Place frozen peas in microwave and follow package instructions.
  5. Place both items (in portions) into blender.
  6. Puree until desired consistency is reached.  Thin out with water if needed.

This will give you about 2 weeks of food, depending on how much your child eats.  You might not use all of the peas, so save them to eat with YOUR dinner.  I think it’s a good sign if you are serving your kid something you would eat (unlike some nasty, foul smelling formulas I’ve given Ava!–no shade). I also ate her left over quinoa and threw the extra chicken into my Spanish rice.

This looks a little weird.  Kind of like poo.  But I’ve tasted it, and yet again, it is yummilicious.

Quinoa, Chicken, and Carrot Puree: 

I was pretty proud of this one.  I adapted it from a Turkey, Rice, and Carrot recipe from the Baby Bullet cookbook. I wanted to try a meat with Ava, and chicken seemed like the obvious choice.  I had a ton of quinoa and i took a quick look in my baby book (yes, I still use it occasionally, lol) to see if that was ok: it was ok for babies! This recipe was a little more involved.

Remember to keep everything STERILE.  You do NOT want to cross contaminate raw meat with uncooked veggies.  So prep your meat last and clean up before combining everything. 

  1. Wash 1 carrot. Peel & chop up.  Steam.
  2. Rinse 1 cup of quinoa.  Place in 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and lower flame.  Let simmer for 15 minutes.

  1. Put carrots & quinoa aside.
  2. Grill or boil chicken: whichever is more convenient.  I pan grilled slices of 1 large chicken breast with a little dab of olive oil.
  3. CLEAN EVERYTHING
  4. Combine carrot, 1/2 cup of quinoa, 1/2 cup of chicken, and 1/2 cup of chicken broth in blender.
  5. Blend until desired consistency.

 

This tasted ok, but as an adult, I’m not used to eating meat purees.  Ava, on the other hand, loved it!


I hope you enjoy these recipes and share them with your little ones.  I’d love to hear what recipes you use, so feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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Ava’s Precious Pink & Gray Nursery!

I am so in love with my daughter’s nursery.  It is my, ::ehem:: I mean her, sanctuary. I worked on it for months.  And now that we spend so much time in it playing, I thought this would be a great time to showcase it.

For those who have followed me, let’s not forget what this room USED to look like. 

You can see the full project at projectnursery.com!!

I organized all of my inspiration on Pinterest.  I love that site!

General nursery inspiration: https://www.pinterest.com/livingfor2plus/little-girls-nursery/

Specific items for Ava’s room:  https://www.pinterest.com/livingfor2plus/avas-room/

Nursery organization ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/livingfor2plus/nursery-organization/

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Fueled and focused

Working out. Not my number one favorite activity in the world. I would much rather be a lazy bum on the couch, eating a mix of chocolate and popcorn while sipping a glass of white wine. But I can’t do that. Why? Because working out is a means to an end. It is how I stay healthy and fit. And if that means sacrificing a few hours a week to ensure a healthy inside and outside, then I’m down! 

Being that I’m not all gung-ho about working out, making sure I’m fueled and focused throughout a routine is super important to me. If I don’t get a good snack in before my workout, my workouts end on a very flat note. 

  

FOOD

I like to snack on granola bars before a workout. Something with a long lasting energy punch. I love Nature Valley Crunchy Oats N’ Honey and Nature Valley Trail Mix Fruit & Nut. My husband on the other hand, uses powdered energy boosters to get him revved up. I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little scared to venture into the “powder” land. But my husband keeps telling me they are awesome and they’ll probably boost my drive for the gym. I came across ETBFit products, which include powders & supplements. It seems like the productline is more naturally dervived & cleaner than others, so I’m thinking about trying them…especially since I’m almost out the door with breastfeeding, and I’m almost always worried about what may affect her. 

After my workouts, I often get a smoothie at my gym. I’m usually famished by the end of any workout routine. 

MUSIC

  
The worst thing you can do is forget your headphones at home…

Music is probably my single most important motivator when it comes to working out, which I’m sure many people can relate to. I have several workout playlists but my most frequented ones are “Spanish Workout,” “Gym,” and “Pop.” Here is a small sample of songs on each list: 

Spanish Workout:

“Vivir Mi Vida”, Marc Anthony

“Ven Báilalo” (Reggaeton Remix), Ángel y Khriz

“Mayor Que Yo”, Baby Ranks, Daddy Yankee, etc 

Gym:

“Don’t Like Remix”, Chief Keef, Kanye, etc

“Clique”, Kanye

“Wild for the Night”, A$AP Rocky 

Pop:

“We Found Love”, Rihanna

“Uptown Funk”, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

“7/11”, Beyoncé 

Whatever my mood is the day of my workout determines my musical choice. For high intensity workouts, I almost always select the Gym playlist. It really hypes me up!! I include warm up and cool down tracks, like Ed Sheeran “Thinking Outloud.” 

  
GOALS

Another super important motivator for me is having a clear image of my goals during my workout. Not just short term goals, but the long term “where do I see myself in xx months” type of goals. The goal I held onto during the spring was how I wanted to look when I visited my hometown for the summer: long and lean. I even had a body crush, though I don’t look anything like her magnificent demigoddess body. But the image of longer, leaner muscles, a tighter waistline, and an overall slimming of the body all kept me super motivated during my workouts. 

  
From Instagram account Mistyonpointe

And finally, take lots of pictures of your progress. It’s nice to look at where you started to where you are now. 

  
What do you do to stay “fueled and focused”?

Four Steps to Baby Food

Ava has been a champ when it comes to eating.  She LOVES food.

No doubt about it...Ava isn't missing a meal.

No doubt about it…Ava isn’t missing a meal.

I have been serving 1-2 small servings of puréed food everyday.  I would say each serving is about 4 tablespoons of food.  She often eats 1 serving of cereal (follow this link for Ava’s yummy cereal) or apple sauce (follow this link for how to make apple sauce) in the morning and then 1 serving of a vegetable around lunch time.

Two of her favorite vegetables are sweet peas and sweet potatoes (served separately).  I’ll be starting carrots this week.

Making baby food is pretty easy.  The main thing is keeping everything clean and being cognizant of not mixing foods that Ava hasn’t tried yet with foods that she already eats.  At this early stage in eating, I have to keep an eye on whether or not she might be allergic to something.

Typically, making baby food consists of the following 4 steps:

1) Clean the fruit or vegetable

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2) Boil, steam, or microwave the fruit or vegetable.  I microwave the frozen sweet peas. Otherwise I boil/steam everything else.

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3) Place food in Baby Bullet with some water to get the food to a desired texture.  I typically use the water leftover from boiling, since it is rich with vitamins & minerals from the veggie or fruit that was boiled.

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4) Either freeze or serve.  When freezing, divide food into single servings so that it is easy to serve when defrosting. When defrosting, either stick food in refrigerator or place in warm water, and serve within 12 hours.

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The end result: One really happy baby.  And lots of…diapers…

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No cup goes unfinished!

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I had to buy tons of bibs because Ava can go through six a day, between the food, milk, and drooling!

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Baby bullet: Apple sauce!

Recently, Ava had her first taste of food! Real food! I’m happy to report that her introduction to the world of culinary delights began with a cup of freshly made apple sauce. 🍎🍎🍎 #healthybaby

I always wanted to be “that mom” who made fresh baby food instead of buying off the shelf. I’m not knocking bottled baby food–I will most likely need to buy some jars in the future.

On a side note, the feeding of solid foods to Ava has been quite a controversial topic among my family and friends. Old school wisdom advised feeding cereal in bottles as early as two months, so that babies would sleep longer. But current trends advise against that since a child’s digestive system is not developed enough to handle that. My pediatrician recommended that the window of feeding solids is 4-6 months, generally signaled by the following:

🔸She can sit up (with support) and can hold her head and neck up well
🔸Her birth weight has doubled.
🔸She’s interested in what you’re eating and may even try to grab food from your plate.
🔸She can keep food in her mouth rather than letting it dribble out.
🔸She shows signs of being hungry for more than she’s getting by clamoring for more when her bottle is empty or wanting to nurse more often.”
webmd.com

I followed Ava’s lead. When she started to stare at my food and demand more feedings, I figured it was time.

I used the Baby Bullet to make Ava’s first batch of food.

1). Starting with two Fuji apples…

2).  I peeled, cut in half and cored them. I then placed the halves in a small saucepan with a small amount of water. I put the flame on medium and covered the pot, steaming the apples until they softened.

3). Once soft, I put the sections in the Baby Bullet and puréed them. I added the water I used to steam the apples and a little bottled water in order to make it easier for Ava to consume.

 4) All that was left was to give Ava her first round of food! I put the left overs in individual trays in the freezer.


Check out Ava’s experience:

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