Whoops! Here it is Wednesday morning in my corner of the world and "Tasty Tuesday" didn't happen this week. What DID happen instead is SPRING! :-) My boys and I spent the day outside - taking a walk, having a picnic lunch, playing in the sandbox, hanging laundry on the line and just enjoying the lovely warm weather. The temperature bumped 70 degrees yesterday for the first time this year, and it made this family HAPPY!

Yet how well I know that many of you are enduring temperatures of 100 degrees or more right now, and early Spring weather seems like a far-off dream. So I will stop talking about the weather, and move on to my belated post . . .

 

I'd been in West Africa for about two months when I suddenly realized that my baby would be ready to eat solid food soon. I panicked. All I could remember my mom doing for my younger sister was adding a little water to some flakes or popping the lid on a jar of baby food. (I was only 6, so that doesn't mean that's all she DID do. But it's all I remember.) There was a type of instant food available where I lived, but it was full of sugar and milk and I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to start with. But what WAS the right thing? At the time we had limited internet, and I felt at a loss to know what to do. Was it possible to make your own baby food? Surely it must be. But how?

Fast-forward four years, and I'm now preparing homemade baby food for my third six-month-old baby boy. This time not because I have no other choice (have you ever looked at the kinds of baby food available? Unbelievable!!) but because it's so much cheaper and healthier to make it myself. And really very simple!

CEREAL

For new eaters, grains need to be ground into a powder before cooking for best results. You can do this in a blender or food processor, but it will take a while. Grinding rice in my blender takes about ten minutes, and I still sift it when I'm done to get out the random large pieces. I don't actually have a flour sifter, so I use a tea strainer! :-) It works great since I'm only doing small amounts at a time. Whatever grain you're using - rice, oats, barley, millet - once you grind it, cook it like porridge.

1/4 c. grain flour

1 c. water

Because I'm doing such a small amount,  I just mix the water & flour, put it on the stove, and whisk constantly as it's coming to a boil. Be sure to boil for several minutes - less for oats, more for rice - so that the grain is cooked. Cool to room temperature before serving. Mix with breastmilk or formula (or just water) if the cereal is too thick. You can combine this with fruit or veggie puree as well, to make a "balanced meal". :-)

FRUITS & VEGGIES

With the exception of banana and avacado, which are the best superfoods for little people, fruits and veggies need to be cooked at first. Apples, pears, peaches, peas, sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots are all great first foods which need to be gently cooked to a very soft consistency before mashing (or pureeing in blender) to feed to baby. Introduce foods one at a time to test for allergies, but once a food is "safe" you can mix it with other foods to create yummy combinations for your little one. And it won't be long before you can introduce spices and seasonings as well - research shows that the more variety of foods  a baby is introduced to before age 1, the easier it will be for them to accept new foods as they get older.

You can find an abundance of information on feeding your little one at Momtastic's Wholesome Baby Food. I especially like their printable chart for when to introduce different foods - I've printed this out and taped it to my fridge for reference with each of my babies.

And one more thing . .  everything I've said here is based on the traditional feeding approach. I've never tried baby-led weaning, but  if you're into it, that's great! Maybe you can write an article about it for us? :-)

Roxanne: I wake up every morning at 6 am because the sun has been up a little while and because it's the only time I have to exercise and shower without little helpers. :) My husband and I run a children's home in Central America. We have two biological children 11 and 8 years of age and 4 foster children 14 months, 12 months, 8 months and 7 months of age. So, if I don't exercise, shower, get dressed, put on make up and pull my hair back before they all wake up, it may never happen. Praise God, we have two wonderful women who help us most days. Around 7:30 am all the babies eat breakfast, which is usually eggs and beans or cereal, fruit and yogurt. I try to eat something sometime during all of that too. It's usually standing up or gobbled quickly in between the bites I'm feeding at least two children, sometimes all four. Then it's time to clean up trays, faces, chairs and dishes. At 8:30 the older kids and I start home school. During that time, a baby or two always crawls in and wants to play with the computer, our papers and our books. Then it's time for lunch. That's a fun time with food and drinks going everywhere. And, obviously lots of screaming. Who can eat lunch without screaming? After cleaning all the dirty faces, chairs and trays, I work on my other job, co-director of the  children's home. That is full of paperwork, emails and research. Our workers leave around 3.30 or 4 pm, so fixing dinner is always full of interruptions too. Someone always needs a bottle and there are always two or three diapers to change while chopping, cleaning, and cooking. The babies eat first, because it's easier to feed  them and then eat, than it is to try to eat and feed babies. Dinner is followed by bath time. Bathing four babies, changing them and getting them into bed with a song (Jesus Name Above All Names) takes about an hour. I forgot to mention the laundry, sweeping and mopping. That has to get done sometime in there too. I am more than grateful for the two helpers God send me, because without them, there is no way I could do anything but care for six children and the house. My work is tiring, picking up lots of toys, food and dirt on the floor, changing diapers, teaching big kids lessons about life and doing my best to listen to God and He shows us how to run a children's home. There are other things that I can't put into words, the hours at the bank trying to run an errand, the long slow lines at the grocery store, the power outages, the days without water, or the days with water, but it's so muddy I'm not sure it's cleaning anything. But, it's all taught me so much that I wouldn't change a thing. I've seen people live with great joy who have so much less than me- dirt floors, a river as theirwashing machine and shower and no electricity, that I realize my "trials" really aren't trials at all. God proves Himself faithful on a daily basis to provide for us monetarily, emotionally, physically and spiritually. He's grown me in ways I could have never grown in the States, so I'm thankful for it all, because He is always with me.

Sorry if this is hard to follow, but I just tried to write about a normal day. and throw in the other hiccups that may occur. I didn't really want to focus on the "hard" times because God always sees us through them and He teaches me in them. I think the hardest part about our life may be the things we go without, a store close-by, the ability to get fast-food, consistent electricity, clean water, but I am by no means the only person living this way. There are stresses missionaries feel that are also hard to put into words, such as, are we performing enough for our supporters? People also judge you by how your children act and if your marriage seems perfect. They can be quick to judge how efficient you are without really knowing what it's like to live in your country. All that said, we have so much more than almost all of the people who live in this country, and God is teaching all of us such amazing lessons, that I can't really complain. I am blessed far more than I deserve.

 

Phyllis: My days are pretty much the same, and yet nothing's ever the same in them! How is that? Usually we get up, eat breakfast, and start homeschooling. We do "Morning School" first, which is everyone together for read aloud and shared study. Then we separate and work through lists, with the older three bouncing back and forth to me when they need help or alone for what they can do independently. (That doesn't go as smoothly as it sounds in writing.) Then lunch. After lunch the youngest still has a nap. Others go to music and/or art school, or if it's a day when they stay home, they have a quiet reading time, too. After quiet time and outside lessons, sometimes we still have more to finish from the morning. In the evening it's just supper, baths, bed, unless we have some other event going on. And like I said, nothing is ever the same in our days. There's always something to stir things up and make life... interesting. :-)

So my husband and I and our two little girls are currently living in a tiny village in West Africa. And these five things, small though they are, have made a big difference for us.

 

1 d-light Solar lights. We love the lantern and the disk lights. These are seriously awesome. We recharge them every day in the sun, and then we have about four to six hours of light from them at night. They are of great quality and last for years.

 

2. Sawyer water filter. This is a huge convenience. It attaches to any bucket and doesn't use electricity. You can clean it so it will last indefinitely. These filters come in various sizes, some don't and others do filter viruses. This system has been wonderful for us in reducing our digestive troubles.

 

3. A sleeper tent for my baby. Mine was purchased in Africa but you can find similar ones online. Basically it's a little pop-up net tent that zips up, and can be folded up to the size of a large dinner plate. SO much more convenient than a heavy pack & play! It doubles as a mosquito net, eliminating the need for a loose net which can be pulled into the crib and become a choking hazard. You can use it anywhere - nap outside if it's too hot inside. We travel with limited luggage a good bit and I love being able to put my baby down in a safe place, wherever we are.

 

4. The Village Medical Manual by Mary Vanderkooi, MD. These books are accompanied by a short course in tropical medicine (MMI) offered by Equip Intl. My husband took the course and we would highly recommend it. But even if you can't, the books are still a must-have. Obviously, we are not doctors. But the reality of life here is that often, medical care is far away or of doubtful quality. These books have literally saved my life. Also, it's wonderful to be able to double-check medicines, dosages, and procedures. Very self-explanatory. Highly recommended.

 

5. This last one is purely for mommy's comfort. We live in a hot climate and flip flops is where it's at. I used to wear just anything without a problem but pregnancies changed that to where my back and feet will be sore if i don't wear supportive shoes. Before we moved over this time, i was on a mission to find some sandals that would be comfortable, supportive, and also not too expensive and last a long time... (because let's face it, few of us tckmoms have trouble with having more money than we need, aye?) Well, I've found my answer in these Crocs Women's Kadee flipflops. They are super comfortable and I've worn them non-stop for six months and they still look practically new. I much prefer them over something like leather Birkenstocks because the mud, dirt and sweat they have to deal with here can ruin them quickly. I had Birkenstock brand plastic flip flops once but they wore out fast. So, Crocs flipflops is where it's at for me! Watch for sales on the website - I bought mine for just $13.99.

Do you have any items you would recommend for living in the bush?

My husband's parents are missionaries to Native Americans in the southwest, and "frybread" is one of the best specialties there. A simple dough, rolled into a pancake and fried in hot oil . . . yum! But when we moved to the eastern US, we discovered a similar cuisine here is called "Fried Dough." Whatever you call it, it's a quick, yummy meal.

On the reservation, they pile the frybread with beans, meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese and call it an "Indian Taco". Where we live now, they spread the fried dough with spaghetti sauce and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top like a pizza. My favorite way to eat it is with honey like a sopapilla. :-)

Frybread

3 c. white flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 c. warm milk or water

Oil for deep frying

Combine all ingredients except oil and knead until smooth. Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Roll out enough dough to make a circle about 1/8 thick the size of your hand. (Or any size you want!) Deep fry in 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil until browned. Stand on edge in large bowl or cooler lined with paper towels. Makes 10 to 12 frybreads.