Yummy in the tummy? The Rise of the Baby Food Revolution.

If I had to do it all again, I would have made my own baby food. I never did embark on that particular parent adventure because I thought homemade baby food was for hippies and helicopter moms. Making baby food just seemed cumbersome and unnecessary since I could just buy a few jars during my daily trip to Target. But that was seven years ago and since then baby food sales have been on a steady decline. Why? Because moms are making baby food at home.


Millennial moms (those born between 1981-1994) research everything from sunscreen to car seats, so it makes perfect sense that we are educating ourselves about what we put into baby’s belly.

“As a new mom it is reassuring to know exactly what is going into your baby’s mouth, and that you had a hand in creating it,” says Touro dietitian Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN. “Making your own baby food allows you to shop seasonally and locally for fresh, clean foods. It also increases the variety and flavors available to your baby. This all ensures that your precious baby is provided with the peak nutrients essential for growth and development.”

​Making your own baby food is healthier no matter how cute those babies in the commercials are or how sleek the newly designed glass bottle looks. On the other hand, over-the-counter baby food is convenient and because of advancements in technology, the quality and nutrient value in baby food is improving, but you’re going to pay for it.

For example, a jar of Beech-Nut banana baby food is $1.50. The price of one banana is $0.23. This means that for every jar of baby food you buy, you’re paying a convenience fee of $1.27 to Beech-Nut so that it can market its products and pay its shareholders. That’s just the business of it all.


Baby food pouches like Ella’s Kitchen and Happy Baby exploded onto the baby food market in the early 2000s and have since seen significant growth. The pouches are expensive, which balances out declining sales of traditional baby food. Personally, I loved the pouches but because they were expensive, I tried to save them for certain “situations” like shopping at Target with a screaming baby, driving home with a screaming baby, waiting in the check out line with a screaming baby, not to mention our general on-the-go lifestyle. I also hated how wasteful the pouches were; You can’t recycle them.

beabaIf you’re curious about making homemade baby food, here are two great recipes from Touro dietitian Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN. And be sure to Save-the-Date for a Baby Food Making Class at Touro, where Julie and ZukaBaby owner, Erin Reho Pelias, will host an interactive baby food making class on Thursday, August 7, 2014, from 6-7:30pm. You’ll learn everything you need to know! Register today for this free class. One lucky parent will win a Beaba Pro Baby Food Maker!


Pumpkin Sweet Potato Puree

Broccoli, Pear and Kale Puree

Death and Things

My grandmother recently passed away. Life was exhausting her and she was anxious to go. Now she is free and to those of us still here, there is some peace in knowing that.

Last week I flew to Connecticut to be with my father and brother and sort through her things. When we arrived at the nursing home where she spent the last six months of her life, her sheets still warm, we were directed down the hall to where all her stuff had been boxed and bagged. Ninety-two years and all that remained were two plastic bags of clothes, two small boxes and a few pictures that hung on the wall to remind her of how life once was. I claimed the blown-up photograph my grandfather took of the house they filled with love, family and lots of flowers.

The three of us just stood there looking down at this pile of my grandmother’s things that had been bagged and boxed and shoved in a hallway to await their fate. The staff had to “turn the room” because they had a “new admission” on the way. Other than a yellow sweater, we donated all of her clothes to the nursing home so that others might find use for them. Later that night we would sort through the boxes and pictures.

My brother and I had so much fun dusting off pictures from the early 1900s of my grandmother as a young girl. She was apparently quite an athlete, and underneath that proper smile and those fancy clothes was a wide-eyed, fearless girl—a warrior on the inside.

She kept immaculate records of birthdays and important events. She earmarked poems and bible verses that offered her strength during trying times. Now they offered us strength. My grandmother was wise. But so much of her wisdom we were only just discovering—an unfortunate reality of living so far away.

What I didn’t expect during my visit was to hear all the wonderful stories about her from those with whom she spent most of her days, some even to the very end. She was funny and kind but sharp and direct. So many people came up to tell me how proud she was of me and how I was such a light in her life. I didn’t know this, and it made me a little sad because I’ve been wrapped up in my own life and wasn’t as present as I should have, could have been.

So, there are regrets in life. I wish I had taken the time to ask her about her memories, her dreams, her ideas, her regrets, her loves, passions and hopes. Because when people leave this world, they take with them all of these things.


My grandmother, Helen, with Anson, her great-granddaughter. This was the last photo I ever took of her.

candy exchange: one mom’s clever way to rid the house of excess halloween candy

excerpt from The Belly Book by Joe Harris

There’s no denying Halloween is fun. What’s not to love? There’s community. There’s fantasy. There’s candy. But for many parents, it’s a love/hate thing. Purveyor of both tooth decay and temper tantrums (and let’s be honest, a little weight gain), most of us would rather those sweet confections never make an appearance in the first place.

So the question remains, in the aftermath of Halloween, how do we peaceably wrench that spell-binding sweet stuff from our children’s sticky little clutches without the drama?

A Candy Exchange.

This year our family is hosting it’s 2nd Annual Halloween Candy Exchange. We’ve invited our children’s friends and families the weekend after Halloween to bring their excess Halloween candy and ten gently used books and/or toys for a candy exchange. Once everyone arrives, the grown-ups set up a “store” with prices marked on each of the donated items. The children then get to go “shopping” using their candy as currency.

As hostess and cashier, I collect the “money” at the checkout counter and the children walk away with their new purchases. Everyone wins!

Pay it forward.

Once the Halloween Candy Exchange party is over, our family donates the excess “candy cash” to a favorite charity. We choose the Ronald McDonald House of New Orleans, a home-away-from-home for families whose children come to the city to receive specialized medical care. For all the leftover books and toys, I schedule a pick up with www.pickupplease.org, an organization that supports America’s Veterans and their families.

Or keep it simple and make it a Family Night.

If a Candy Exchange sounds like a sweet idea but you don’t want to host a big party, keep it simple. Take a trip to your local Dollar Store. Stock up on trinkets, books, and crafts and open your own little store. Your children will have a great time shopping in your living room.

Candy-related tantrums averted. Healthy eating habits restored.

How do you handle all the excess candy? Swipe it? Stash it? Use it for reward tokens? Please share your clever ideas.

How we say things, matters.

When I was a little girl, if something needed to get done, I did it. Usually this centered around changes to my room. I liked taking ownership of my room and my parents didn’t seem to mind. Although, I’m not sure how they could have been so busy that they didn’t notice their little girl walking upstairs with a hose so she could siphon the water from her water bed and out the bathroom window, but whatever.

Disclaimer: waterbeds were very popular in the 80s.

I’ve noticed that my daughter, Anson (6), is starting to really enjoy her room–she has a new desk for homework, a secret cubby to keep important things safe from her sisters, she appreciates the utility of having a door so she can communicate important information to family members, and she has artwork and pictures hanging on her wall.


The other day she decided that some of the wall art in our hallway would be better suited hanging on her wall. Unbeknownst to me, she made the switch. I was proud. I told her that I really liked what she did with the pictures. She seemed a little surprised (maybe she thought she’d be in trouble?), but then gave me an eager smile.


Before bed that night, she looked at me and said:

Mommy, I really like it when you compliment me when I change my room around.

This was an ah-ha moment for me. I realized that how I say things matters. Now, instead of always telling her “awesome!” or “that’s so great!” or “good job!” I say things like:

I notice that you’ve been putting your dishes in the dishwasher lately. Thank you. It really is such a great help.

Hey, thanks for always putting your shoes by the door.

You’ve been getting yourself dressed in the morning. What a great new habit! It makes your mornings easier, doesn’t it?

I can tell you’ve been working hard to keep track of your things. Well done.

Anson seems more confident in her movements around the house, and by being specific about the things I notice her doing (and want her to keep doing), she’s starting to figure out what our family expectations of her are and how life inside these walls is supposed to work.

Actually, I think we’re all starting to figure things out a little more. 

How do you encourage the positive behaviors you see in your kids?

The best part of my summer

We just returned from Connecticut. My grandmother is not well and time is not on our side. It has been so long since I last saw her and she’s never met her great-grandchildren, so I decided to take my oldest daughter, Anson (6), up north to meet her great-grandmother for the first time. What an amazing gift for both of them. I don’t remember my great-grandparents. I was too young. But Anson will remember this. It will shape her.


While I am an air force brat and grew up no where in particular, my family is from the northeast. My father grew up in Connecticut, my mother New York. I didn’t have a “childhood home” because we moved every three to four years; The one constant in my life was a place called Mystic, Connecticut and a place called New Rochelle, New York. I spent my childhood summers and winters going back and forth between these two towns.


It felt so good to be back. The smell of the sea, the air, the trees and the sound of fog horns made my mind tingle with childhood memories. It was as if no time had passed. But there I was decades later watching my own daughter leave footprints where I once stood.


This is one of the docks at Lord’s Point in Stonington, Connecticut, a small New England fishing village near Mystic where my Uncle Bobby has a cottage.


It’s a dreamy place where families spend their summers and children travel in packs from one dock or beach or playground to the next wearing nothing but their bathing suits.


They ride bikes without helmets, catch hermit crabs, fish for moon jellies, giggle at the sight of minnows and design jewelry out of seaweed. Children here don’t wear shoes. They are free from the daily chains of conformity that we’ve all come to believe make us feel safe and civilized.


I set Anson free–free from her younger siblings, free from big sister responsibilities, free from time, free from clothes, free from “no.” The local kids absorbed her as if she were one of their own. She drifted seamlessly into a Norman Rockwell-esque painting of what I imagine childhood to be.


Watching her memories take shape has been the best part of my summer.

What’s been the best part of your summer so far? Have you taken your child(ren) to a place you once traveled? I’d love to hear your story.

my home is my sanctuary.

Just the other day, I dashed out of the office to run home to my family after a long day of work. The only thing I could think about while on my way home was how much work was waiting for me once I got there. How was I ever going to get everything done (make lunches for school the next day, return calls, reply to emails, do laundry, write that report for work)? I pulled into the driveway, parked the car and started my usual rush toward the door. But for some reason, I stopped and just stood there. I wasn’t ready.

My head was still at work and I was not at all in the right place to be the calm, focused mother and wife I want to be when I enter my home, my sanctuary, and see the people I love the most. Frankly, I felt irritable and exhausted for a myriad of reasons and I knew that if I walked into my house at that moment, I would snap or say something I would later regret.

Just the other day I snapped at my innocent eight year old son who just asked me for some water shortly after I came home. Instead of responding kindly to him, I told him to get his own drink since I was obviously overwhelmed with tending to my sick 18 month old daughter and getting dinner ready for the entire family.

Standing outside my door that day, I realized that the transition from work to home was a difficult one for me, as I’m sure it is for many parents. I thought about how many times I took my frustrations out on the people I loved the most because of stresses that have nothing to do with them.

As I faced the front door, I tried an exercise that I so often recommend to my clients. I closed my eyes for twenty seconds, took some rejuvenating deep breaths and thought about the kind of energy I wanted to bring into my sanctuary, my home. I thought about how much I missed my children, and how much I was looking forward to hearing about their day at school, reading with them and cuddling with them before bedtime.

From that day on, I decided that before walking into my home to greet my family after a long, stressful day, I will remember to stop and have a moment of meditation (even if just for a few seconds) to acknowledge the blessings and stresses of my day and prepare myself to enter my sanctuary with patience, strength and love.

This is how I wish to greet the people most important to me.

Do you find that you take your frustrations out on the ones you love the most? What do you do to center yourself?

Parent Tip: Learn how to take better snapshots of your kiddos

Category: Learn

Title:  Camera Class for Parents: Learn to Take Better Snapshots of your Kiddos!

URL:  www.oliviagreypritchard.wordpress.com

My tip is rad and/or relevant to parents because…

All parents wish they had great pictures of their kids outside of professional portrait sessions. And since not everyone is Suri Cruise and used to professional photographers documenting her every move, for most families the job of snapping memories falls to the parents.

Many families own $800-$1200 DSLRs nowadays and wonder why their pictures look like they were taken with the older, much cheaper point-and-shoot they used to have. And that’s where I come in. My name is Olivia Grey Pritchard, published photographer and professional kid wrangler. I can’t be there for every family event, so I like to help parents learn how to use their own equipment to improve their personal photographs.

Don’t worry. This is not a photography class. We won’t be discussing which f-stop you need for indoor low light on a moving subject. Your camera can do some amazing things and you’ll learn tips and tricks on how to use it better at this 2-hour class.

Bring your DSLR, owner’s manual, any questions, and a pen and paper for notes. This is going to be fun and a great way to meet other parents who love photography as much as you!

The deets:

What: Camera Class for Parents: Learn to Take Better Snapshots of your Kiddos! ($40 per person)

When: Wednesday, September 26, 2012, from 7-9pm

Where: Uptown (exact location TBA)

Register: Email oliviagreypritchard@hotmail.com for more info!

A rock-n-roll playlist for kids

One of the best gifts we’ve ever received is a CD of mixed songs from my daughter’s best friend…’s mother. And thanks to my children’s fascination with inserting random items into every nook and cranny of the VW Turbo Passat Wag, this CD is now a permanent fixture. We have been listening to it for almost two years now. The upside is that we all know every single word to every single song, specifically number 3, number 5, number 15 and number 17. I too enjoy number15 but love number 11, certain that if played enough times my daughters would come to appreciate it as much as I. This is not yet the case.

What I love about the idea of creating a mixed tape (dating myself here) is that it’s an opportunity to introduce kids to music that YOU love. There’s only so much Row Row Row Your Boat a parent can take. Besides, exposure to music makes kids smart.

Also, there is nothing more precious than listening to little voices sing big songs. It’s borderline heart-melting.

Do you have a playlist you’d like to share? For the love of Rock-n-Roll, please share it and we’ll post it.

Rock on to the playlist below. If you don’t have Adobe Flash, here is a link.

Grandparents’ Day

Everyday on our way to school, we drive past the cemetery on City Park Ave. And for some strange reason, I always think of my grandmother, Patricia Ann Casey.

She’s as Irish as the whiskey she drinks.

And I adore her.

Age 3ish, sitting poolside with Patricia. New Rochelle, NY.

The older I get, the more we talk. And I have a gained a better understanding of what wisdom is…or at least how it comes to be:

Wisdom is the culmination of time and experience.

I am grateful for my daily reminder, even though it comes with a brief, dull jab to my heart, as I know that time is not on our side.

My mother’s wedding album. 3rd grade, maybe? San Antonio.

Other than photographs and a few diaries, all I have are memories. And I have 3 kids under the age of 6, so you know what that means.

I have held on to the article Getting to Know You by Erik Jackson, which was featured in the November 2005 Real Simple. Every year I think about doing something with it but every year, I get busy.

The article is a roadmap to gaining a deeper understanding of relatives and friends and exploring “the deeper stuff–the childhood memories, the hopes and fears, the truest sense of self”.

Jackson outlines dozens of questions to help you get started, many of which may or may not be obvious:

~ Childhood ~
What was your childhood like?
Your neighborhood?
What were the happiest times of your childhood?
What were your biggest disappointments?

~ Work ~
What was your first job and how did you get it?
Is there anything you think is absolutely crucial to success at work?
Was there one person–a mentor, maybe–who had a big impact on your working life?
What was the best job you ever had? The worst?

~ Love & Family ~
Over the years, what was the most rewarding thing about raising kids?
The toughest?
Do you have any advice about being a good parent?
What would you say love is? Have your ideas about it changed over time?
Who in the family is most like you?

~ You & Me ~
Is there anything you’ve never been able to ask me or say to me?
In what ways do you think we’re similar? Different?
What were your favorite times with me?

~ You as You ~
Who knows you better than anyone?
What is the key to a great friendship?
Who makes you laugh the hardest?
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? The scariest? Dumbest?

“While such topics can seem scary (or, face it, best avoided), this season is a perfect time to start the conversation, whether at a family dinner, in a letter, or by email.”

Get to Know Your Family and Friends Better Personal History Worksheet

What better gift to give your grandparents (and yourself, your children, your family) than to honor them by simply taking the time to listen, read or write down their words and memories, dreams, ideas, regrets, loves, passions, hopes.

An unexpected gift is the invitation for them to think about their own life – moments in time they haven’t thought of in years because nobody asked.

How fun for the kids to make up their own questions and interview their grandparents, learn things they never would have known, be inspired and see their grandparents in a new light – as people with great history, great stories, great advice.

Great wisdom.

My grandmother on her wedding day

Some other ideas:

  • Celebrate their memory by writing down a favorite memory of your own (or draw a picture of a favorite memory) and share it at dinner. Make copies and create little books for everyone to keep. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
  • Create a little photo album for your children of pictures they’ve never seen before and tell them stories of when you were little.
  • Make an old family recipe together – food and smell are powerful memory-makers.

How ironic that Grandparents Day follows September 11th, a day that reminds us how precious life is and how fleeting it can be.

My grandfather – a WWII pilot

Capture the wisdom, the lessons, the life of those you love.

Is there a lesson or piece of wisdom that you learned from a parent or grandparent that you hope to pass on to your children? Tell us about it here.

Quick Review:

Sharing with other parents takes you beyond surviving to thriving

Sharing resources of time and energy with other parents benefits our children, our families and our personal well-being. When we share, we shed the tendency to criticize, judge and compare and we realize that each and every one us is always enough.

When parents create networks of value or connections among individuals, this leads to reciprocity, trustworthiness and a social intercourse that cultivates child, parent and family well-being.

Reciprocity is a deep, human instinct. It is the basic currency of social life and it makes the transaction costs of everyday parenting less burdensome (think carpooling, sharing meals, swapping playdates). We’ve learned these lessons from our primal ancestors who engaged in cooperative breeding practices to ensure the survival of the child, parent and group.

Among the !Kung foragers of the Kalahari, babies are held by a father, grandmother, older sibling or other adult 25 percent of the time. Among the Efe foragers of Central Africa, babies spend 60 percent of their daylight hours toted around by somebody other than their mother.

From our primal ancestors to modern-day parents, cooperative parenting in groups and relying on support from others are effective survival strategies.

When we work together as parents and share challenges, accomplishments, parenting strategies and resources, we are less burdened by the pressure to do it all ourselves. This also creates more space and relief in the day-to-day life of parenting, affording us more time to focus on the self and accomplish personal goals.

Sharing with other parents takes you beyond surviving to thriving because other people matter and the good life is a social life.

Share your your stories, perspectives and experiences here.

Submit a parent tip here.


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