A 2-Year-Old's Tailgate

We love football. The American tradition. My husband’s more of a college fan, but I prefer the pros. The daughter of a Lions blue-and-silver diehard father and a former sports reporter, I crave the 50-yard touchdown passes, away game upsets and rival match-ups that become etched in history (did anyone catch the Michigan v. Notre Dame game??). 

Many childhood memories are scattered across the Lion’s old Silverdome. Sitting next to my Dad, stretched across open seats under the large viewing screen. Barry Sanders running wild. Chris Spielman’s fearlessness. Usually, a Lions loss was uncovered early and fans would filter out. The two of us would sneak down to the first tier, 50-yard line. Despite endless losing seasons, the Lions are – as in many Michiganers – a big passion in life.

When we discovered the Lion’s home opener was scheduled on Jack’s 2nd Birthday Party day, it was hard to resist a tailgate. He may not be a blue-and-silver fan yet, but he throws his arms up yelling “touchdown” whenever his Daddy howls at a game. Has several Michigan team jerseys. Can spike a football. And, enjoys great tailgate food.

We stocked the deck with coolers & canvas folding chairs. Grilled hot dogs and brats. I slow-cooked homemade chili, baked cheesy potatoes. Added some chips, dips & sweet snacks. 

We wore the gear. Tatted our arms with Lions logos.
Jack's football field cake created by a local bakery.
What 2-year-old doesn't love balloons?
Football decor, Lions coasters.  Game on.

Played with friends. Ate cake. Opened presents.
Happy Birthday, little Bear. Two years of treasures, silliness, thrills & laughter. 
You fill up my life.


Good Day, Birthday Boy

Friday was Jack’s 2nd birthday. We filled it with fun.

Awoke to presents of rubber bugs, stickers, balls & Elmo. A breakfast of pancakes & bananas. Giant slides & bounce houses to pint-size climbing zones, “Michigan’s largest indoor playland.” Skipping breathlessly with happy all the while. Pizza dinner with Nana & Papa, topped with chocolate cake. A night of Elmo movies on the couch until his eyelids collapsed.

A day just for you, my little Bear. But I too will savor it forever.


No More Cider

My Mom’s text yesterday, “Do not drink the cider from cider mill unless it is pasteurized.”

Almost 30 weeks into my second pregnancy, I’m overly aware of foods I can/cannot eat, “I know. Can Jack drink it?”

“No kids until age 5.”
We’d visited the apple orchard & cider mill two days ago. My two-year-old Jack soaked up all the activities, including the cider. Luckily it only caused a tiny bout of soft stool. So far.

Throughout Jack’s first year, our pediatrician guided our timeline on serving foods. With monthly visits, it was hard to miss exciting new allowances. I was positive the doc approved all foods at his one-year check up. Maybe it was just honey and fish? Who could remember? The newfound food restriction had me worried. What else should he avoid?

My Mom, a registered dietitian specializing in child nutrition & health, had stocked my bookcase with feeding guides, diet restrictions and sample menus when I was pregnant with Jack. I had fine-combed & thumbed them regularly that first year. Evidently I still needed to be referencing them.

Worried about another slip-up, I researched common foods to still avoid. Here’s my findings (Feeding guides & helpful tips will be featured at a later date):

Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends introducing any new foods at least four days apart to ensure there are no allergies.

Birth – 4 Months: Breast milk and formula ONLY.

4 – 6 Months: When your pediatrician says baby is the appropriate weight and gives the okay to start foods, begin with semi-liquid or iron-fortified cereal. Followed by pureed fruits & veggies.

6 – 8 Months: The fun months of food. Here are some common choking foods to avoid until the little one is an expert at chomping solids:

Whole nuts, seeds
Snack chips
Raw carrot, celery
Raw green beans
Cherry, grape tomatoes
Whole berries, grapes
Peanut butter, nut butters

When It's Time to Introduce…

Juice: 6 Months. The AAP says six months is the earliest for pasteurized juice & kids shouldn’t have more than 6 oz. of juice a day before he/she is six years old.  It’s also recommended not to fill a baby bottle with juice; it starts an unhealthy habit that’s hard to break.

Fish: 10 Months. Experts say a baby’s immune and digestive systems are under developed and may not accept fish well until 10 months old. Begin with white fish, which is easily digested and ranks low on the allergens list.  Cold-water fish contain more Omega 3 fatty acids and have the least amount of mercury. Although, the AAP states that there is no evidence that introducing fish between 4 – 6 months determines whether babies will be allergic.

Shellfish: 3 Years. Shellfish, such as crab, lobster and shrimp, is one of the Top Eight allergenic foods. We’ve had another oops here – Jack loves shrimp and scallops.  

Honey: 1 Year. Avoid it before then, even cooked in recipe.  It can harbor bacteria that cause infant botulism, which can be fatal.

Peanuts, peanut butter: 3 Years/1 Year. Because peanuts are so high on the allergen list, the AAP recommends waiting until your child is three before introducing peanut butter. But, many other reputable sources say peanut butter can be a healthy addition to the diet when a child turns one. Gotta say, Jack loves the stuff. Eats it right off a spoon.

Peanut Oil may be safe for kids with allergies to peanuts, as long as it’s not cold-pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil. Although, your child’s doctor should be consulted first. A friend of mine says her five-year-old - who has a peanut allergy - has been consuming peanut oil since she was two.

Cow’s milk, soymilk: 1 Year. Babies can’t digest the protein in cow’s milk and soy milk for the first year, such milks don’t have the nutrients babies need and milks have minerals in amounts that can damage baby kidneys. 

Stick with whole milk until your toddler’s 2nd birthday. Most youngsters need the fat and calories of whole milk for growth & development.

Eggs: Yolk-8 Months/Whites-1 Year. Because egg whites are one of the leading allergens, many peditricians and experts believe waiting until a year to introduce them.  The AAP states that introducing the entire egg before one-year doesn’t mean an allergy will develop. 

Un-pasteurized apple cider: 5 Years.  Unpasteurized cider, which is usually only sold at local orchards, can contain E-coli and bacteria that could cause serious illness.

My Resources: 

Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, 5th Edition, American Academy of Pediatrics
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
Mayo Clinic


Rainy Day Happy

Before another work-week away, Justin and Jack shaped a fort of our living room. A little something for Jack to remember while Daddy travels. Made his week.


Bear Room Phase 2: The Big Bed

One weekend night the three of us stayed up past the sun, putting the "big boy" furniture together. We bounced on the mattresses. Caught our breath. Helped Dad screw the bed together. Threw out the clingy Styrofoam (piece-by-piece). Jumped from top mattress to trundle. And watched the stars from the turtle’s starlit shell dance on the ceiling. By midnight, Jack had crawled into our bed (I hadn’t washed his new bed sheets) and fell asleep.

The next morning we were back exploring the new full-size furniture. Even had our morning snack of Goldfish there. And now anyone who comes to visit gets a tour of his newly prized "big boy" bed. 

Captain's bed, trundle, mattresses & matching dresser: Art Van Furniture
Camping red alternative down comforter: Target (on clearance)
Gigantic bear: Costco $30

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