How Did They Raise Kids Before the Internet?

My cousin Erin had a baby in April. She marveled to her mom (my aunt), “How did anyone have a baby before the Internet?” My aunt remembered back when she was raising babies in the 1970s. She was an army wife and got issued a pamphlet with everything she needed to know for the baby’s first couple years. She referred to it over and over as her babies grew. And they seemed to turn out okay.

I am pretty sure my mom had a dog-eared copy of Dr. Spock she would refer to if she needed some baby advice.

In a way it sounds kind of nice to have nothing more than a pamphlet to help guide all your parenting decisions. When do I start solid foods? Look it up in your pamphlet, and there will be one confident answer. How do I wash cloth diapers and what do I do about cradle cap? Look in the pamphlet!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fails to cure my daughter’s picky eating

(Desperate for a solution to my daughter’s picky eating, I turned to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for guidance. I am sad to report that her so-called “cure” did not work. Read on.)

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I turned to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle to help me cure my picky eater. Now, I’m familiar with her schtick: she usually relies on aversion therapy, magic, or–in the case of the picky eater cure–a combination of both. Unfortunately, she failed to understand the basic psychology of the picky eater, and therefore I have serious doubts that her cure would prove successful.

The kid in this story eats a perfectly normal assortment of foods his whole life. Then one day, he turns up his nose at his old favorites. He goes so far as to accompany his distaste with gagging noises and audible “yucks.” Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, true to form, provides his mother with a magical powder that will transform all his food into boiled noodles–the only thing he agrees to eat. At first he’s delighted, but sure enough, after a few breakfasts, lunches, and dinners of nothing but boiled noodles, he sees realizes how boring his life is without a wide variety of foods. He agrees to go out with his father for pizza.

Chia Seed Baby Food: Good Idea? Bad Idea?

With all the hype surrounding the health benefits of chia seeds, including here on the Green Baby Guide (check out this recipe for peanut butter chia seed balls), it got me wondering if babies could get in on the trend. It turns out, they can. Chia seeds are not known to contain allergens or other ingredients harmful to youngsters.
gluten free gourmand chia seed
Photo from The Gluten-free Gourmand

If you’re interested in concocting some chia seed baby food of your own, check out these Chia Seed Baby Food Purees over at Hello Bee. If you haven’t discovered Hello Bee already, check it out! She has a lot of great baby food ideas and great food photography, too. (She makes a spoonful of pureed pees look like a work of art.)

Slightly Better-for-you Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies

I am famous for my attempts to “healthify” recipes. I’m always cutting the sugar and butter amounts in half, substituting whole grain flour for white, and tossing in handfuls of wheat germ or flax seeds. The end results are often dry, flavorless hockey-puck-type concoctions that no one wants to eat. I then have to force-feed them to myself so I don’t waste all that good wheat germ.

I don’t know when I’ll learn that sometimes treats should stay treats. No one wants a sugar-free, chocolate-free chocolate chip cookie. Okay. I get it.

Having said all that, I will cop to cutting the sugar in these no-bake cookies in half—and the results are still teeth-achingly sweet! They probably set up a little better with more sugar, but the taste is just fine.

Library Reading Programs for Babies and Kids (+ Book Recommendations!)

Babies really need to get off their iPhones and crack open a good board book every once in a while, right? The Multnomah County Library agrees, which is I guess why they hold a summer reading program for babies, kids, and teens. Read to them, or have them read to themselves for fifteen minutes, a half hour, or an hour (depending on the age group), and they (or you) color in a space on the game card. Fill out so many squares, claim a prize. If your kids fill in the entire card, they get a T-shirt and a bigger, better prize. Last summer Audrey chose a book, but there were also coupons for local ice cream shops and passes for activities around the city.

Book Review: Lois Lowry’s All About Sam

All About SamAll About Sam by Lois Lowry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All About Sam was recommended to me by my first grader. “I just love this book!” she said. Obviously I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Lois Lowry is perhaps most famous for her dystopian Y.A. novels The Giver, The Messenger, and Gathering Blue. However, as a child of the ’80s, I knew her for her heartfelt books about ordinary family life. I cried over A Summer to Die and Find a Stranger Say Goodbye and laughed my way through the entire Anastasia Krupnik series. Well, it turns out that there is a Sam Krupnik spin-off series, too! It all started in 1988 with All About Sam. I must have been off reading Flowers in the Attic or something by then and missed it altogether.

The Latest and Greatest in BPA-free Popsicle Molds

Summer kicked in early this year over here in Portland, Oregon. Short sleeve weather, in May? In Portland? That’s something to celebrate. Audrey and I knew exactly what we needed to do: make popsicles. I didn’t have any fruit juice, tofu, or spinach around, so I had to get creative. (Check out our strawberry and spinach popsicles and tofu fudgcicles if you dare.)

I whipped up some lemonade out of sugar, lemon juice concentrate, and water. I know I’m not going to win any dentists over with that concoction, but kids love it. We then dropped in some various frozen berries I’ve probably had in the freezer since 2008. We used our only fancy popsicle mold, which is something like these Push Pop containers ($25).

Creative Food Recycling: From the bottom of the salsa jar to the table

When I was little, my mom used to make some weird casseroles out of leftovers. (I know my mom is going to read this and say, “I did that one time!” or “I never did that!” But I stand by my statement. I will say that she also made perfectly normal meals.) As a result of this traumatic childhood memory, I cannot advise throwing any old thing into a baking dish, pouring cream of mushroom soup over it, and baking it in a 350 degree oven.

However, learning to use up refrigerator odds and ends is an art you need to master if you want to be a carefree bohemian like me. Don’t make weird casseroles! Okay, sometimes you’ll have to make weird casseroles. Other times you’ll have to make chili out of hummus and old salsa.

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie: It’s What’s for Breakfast

For four sad years, I lived without a blender. Mine sat sad and broken in the cupboard.  I won’t lie—it was pretty tough. Sure, I had my immersion blender, food processor, and food mill to fill the void, but it just wasn’t the same. Then Andy took stock of the situation. He sent away for a $6 part and a week or so later, I was blending up a storm again.

My blender. Or one that looks just like it.

The broken–now fixed–part!

Shortly after this, the peanut butter banana smoothie entered my life. It is now my preferred breakfast, keeping me full and satisfied until noon or even one o’clock. It’s full of calcium, potassium, and more than 20 grams of protein. You’d have to eat four eggs to get the same protein punch from an omelet.

How do you recycle worn-out art supplies?

When I was pregnant, I became obsessed with acquiring as little baby gear as possible. Looking back, I have to admit I went a little overboard. Like, maybe I could have bought two bottles instead of one bottle. The funny thing is, I had no idea how much worse the clutter would get once the baby started growing. At age seven, my daughter has so many clothes and toys, it’s ridiculous. So much for minimalism.


The worst of it is the art supplies. I recently culled Audrey’s crayons and markers and filled a big box with duplicates and castoffs. I also had to throw away quite a few markers that dried out. I’m not sure what to do about all this waste. After all, we’ve long maintained that art supplies make great green gifts for children. (In fact, I’d say 100% of my daughter’s art supplies were gifts from friends and relatives.) They promote creativity and occupy their little hands for hours at a time.