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Archive for April, 2010

And the Eat Goes On…

“‘I’m sure any child of yours has to love food,” our friend Julia predicted, nodding sagely. 

She made this prediction while I was pregnant, and she was right.   The child loves to eat.

Pasta dinner.

A couple of months ago, people kept asking us, “Have you started solid foods?”  They asked it with such intensity, sometimes I wondered what the big deal was.  Why the hurry?  I wondered if they were subtly trying to pressure me to stop breastfeeding or if perhaps they were leaning on the conventional wisdom that solid foods make a baby sleep through the night.  But I totally get it now.  Solid foods are fun!  Especially with a baby whose reaction to pasta with tomato-garlic sauce is “Gimme more!”

Yes, pasta with tomato-garlic sauce.  Our pediatrician was so low-fuss about what we should feed him that we’ve been low-fuss too.  Sometimes we just mash up a banana with a fork.  Sometimes, especially when we’re trying a new flavor, we use jars of baby food from the store.  Other times, with something like pears that I know he likes, I’ll just make it myself.  (I’m no ad for Martha Stewart Baby over here — no food mills or fancy containers labeled in calligraphy.  Just simmer, blenderize, and done.)  And sometimes, if it looks like it will work, we just take what we’re eating and stick it in the blender.  Thus, pasta with tomato-garlic sauce.   Which he LOVED. 

He doesn’t love everything.  It took him several days to warm up to green beans.  But we snuck it in between bites of hummus and babaganoush (no, I’m not joking), and he accepted it at last.  Winter squash from a jar?  Not so much.  But Cuban style  black beans made in the crock pot?  Heck, yeah!

Here are some photos from our eating adventures.  We hope you enjoy Miles’ meals at least half as much as he did.

Yogurt.

Drinking water from a glass!

Cuban black beans.

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Yay, naptime's over. Yoga!

“He doesn’t stop singing.”

These words (and a smile in Miles’ direction) came from the woman next to me at Mom and Baby yoga today.  It was true; through the whole class he’d been vocalizing and cooing.  We were in forward bend, and the fifteen or so babies were mostly quiet, but Miles’ tiny voice soared up and echoed with its ahhhhhh, ahhhhhh, ahhhhhh.  I smiled back, then smiled at Miles, who was on his tummy and staring raptly at her young son, Olivier, just learning to crawl.  The two babies were obsessed with each other; at one point they lay on their bellies, their faces inches apart, and Miles put his hand on Olivier’s, singing and talking joyfully.

Miles loves yoga at the Y.  Even on those rare occasions that he’s in a sour mood, he brightens as soon as I plop him on his little blanket.  The instructor tells us, “Your baby’s noises and movements are not an interruption, they are a part of the class.”  Then she leads us through poses to strengthen our post-baby bodies and release the tension that can build up from hunching over to breastfeed or from constantly hoisting a 16-pound baby. 

We stop to tickle and touch our babies often, and we massage them.  We sing dopey little songs to them while doing different poses.  We sing “I’m a Little Teapot” while balancing on one leg with the other bent and grasped behind us, reaching one arm to the sky, opening the heart, and then leaning down to touch our babies on “tip me over and pour me out.”  We sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” while holding an excruciatingly low chair pose, weaving the imaginary spider’s path in the air with our hands.  It’s all totally stupid and totally wonderful. 

Miles practices his "Downward-Facing Dog."

Sometimes at yoga, Miles is all about me.  He stares lovingly at me, reaches to grasp my hand when I lean toward him during the teapot sing, and screeches delightedly when my hair tickles his face during a forward bend.  I hover in plank pose (top of a push-up position) and then slowly lower myself down to shower kisses on his belly, and he chortles softly under his breath.

Other times, he’s tuned into the babies.  Forget you mom, he seems to say, resisting any attempt to turn him on his back, face up.  He rolls over — plop! — onto his belly and stares into the center of the circle at all the fascinating tiny people.  If it’s particularly crowded, we’ll be close enough for him to wiggle over and swap drool with another kid.  They maul each other’s toys and gaze at each other while the other parent and I make quiet, smiling apologies and pry the young lovers apart.

His favorite part, and the part where he attracts the most attention, is standing poses.  We pick our big pudgy babies up and use their weight to make us stronger.  We hold them facing out, all toward each other, and do rapid squats while shrieking “wow!” in Sanskrit.  Miles laughs like a maniac with each bounce.  But he reserves his belly laughs for “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”  To the rhythm of the song, I swing him up in a great arc to face another baby, swivel down and swoop to the other side to face another baby, and back and forth.  His laugh is contagious — usually the parent opposite me can’t resist laughing too. 

I wanted to post photos of him on his yoga blanket at the Y, but there wasn’t enough light today for my camera phone.  So you’ll just have to imagine it: this plump little Buddha of a baby, laughing and smiling and reaching and singing.  Namaste.

Reaching up and opening the heart. (Mine, that is.)

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The Wall of Miles

I didn’t mean for things to turn out this way. Seriously, it started with one simple photo — an actual print — and one birth announcement. Even those didn’t migrate to my office immediately. One of my co-workers, whose daughter was born last summer, gave me a hard time for not having any Miles photos in my office for at least a month after the little guy was born. That’s when it started. And slowly, but oh so surely, the wall of Miles has grown.

The Wall of Miles

The space along the wall next to my computer has turned into a greatest hits collection of Miles photos, most printed to a color printer from this blog. Last week I found myself sliding my wedding photo over to the right and moving Luna down to the bottom to make room for just one more — nevermind that I can barely see both our faces in the wedding pic or that Luna is completely blocked by a bottle of lotion, I had to make room. And I’ve begun to eye the six feet of wall space between my computer and the office door. People who come into my office would appreciate this, don’t you think? It’s not like they don’t hear Miles stories all day anyway. Might as well give them a few illustrations of the boy’s cuteness.

I’m not sure when exactly this obsession took hold, but I want to look at the little dude all day long. Mojo frequently obliges (enables) this habit by sending picture messages to my cell. That tiny little beep has become Pavlovian. And like any good addict, I’m instantly Jonesing for my cute fix at the sound of it. Just yesterday, I finally caved and took one down. “I only need one photo from the bath on my wall at a time,” I told myself rather uncertainly. The old bath photo now sits in a file folder on my desk. You never know, I may decide to put it back into circulation at some point.

Cuteness alert

I don’t think Miles is the only thing I talk about, but perhaps my co-workers who read the blog would tell you differently. Sure, questions like, “how was your weekend?” are answered with a laundry list of the latest cute things Miles has done or updates on how he and I spent our quality time. But I don’t really have a problem. I think I’m capably discussing other topics with co-workers (the only other people I regularly interact with, cuz let’s face it, if I’m not at work I head straight home), but the fear that my addiction will crop up hovers over every conversation:  

Don't you just adore me?

“You went out for Indian food last night? Miles has tried and LOVED Indian food!”
“You hung out with friends this weekend? Miles and I made friends with the neighbors while sitting on our stoop.”
“You have a huge project that’s due by the end of the day? Miles has been working on his latest poop for three days!”  

I have only shared the blog with a handful of colleagues — not everyone I work with qualifies for a free, unfiltered view into my world — but I sometimes wonder just how much of its content would be news to my office neighbors (my guess is not much).  

So here’s to my newest addiction: the cute, loveable, adorable, photogenic, happy little guy who rules my world: Miles, Smiles, M-ROD, Booger, Blue Eyes, Buddy. You are my best.  

Now off to print a few of these photos …  

 

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I wouldn’t want any of you to be deficient in Miles.  I have nothing witty to say — just awwwww.

Reclining nude, with carrots.

Charlie Brown shirt.

Pizza.

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Stoop Dreams

Neighborhood watch.

It’s 5:30, the witching hour in baby land.  Miles has either taken a late-afternoon cat nap to tide him through to bedtime or has blown through it in a frenzy of play and activity.  He’s alert but clingy, snatching up toys and hurling them down, whining to be held but wiggly in my arms.  Ninety minutes until bedtime.  We’ve played with toys, gone on walks, run our errands.  He looks at me. What now, mom?

So we go down to the stoop.

Out there, we both relax in the warm evening breeze.  We do what my parents used to call “watching the world go by.”  As a kid, I thought “watching the world go by” was supremely pointless.  Why, oh why, did my parents think it was sooo fascinating to raise the garage door, pull up the creaky folding lawn chairs, and just sit? 

Nothing much happened on our street.  Nothing except dogs escaping front doors and bolting for the playground. Teenagers zooming too fast around the corner of Tralee Way with the music of summer booming from their cars. Neighbors lazily hosing sidewalks. Kids pedaling by barefoot with smaller kids teetering atop their handlebars.  To the right, the sun setting pinkly behind the high school.  To the left, darkness pooling in the curves and hollows of the creek and spreading across the abandoned swingset at the elementary school.

“Is this really all you’re gonna do?” I’d ask, annoyed, and go inside to read or play dress-up.

 But now.  Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this: I get it.

On the stoop, I set Miles in my lap or in his Bumbo chair, and we get busy relaxing.  He looks and grabs and laughs.  Potted pansies!  A little black dog!  Weeds in a clump of dirt!  Birds quarelling in the trees!  I watch him stare and wonder what he makes of it all.  I bounce him on my knee and pretend I’m going to drop him, which he finds hilarious.  Passers-by admire him — some covertly, some quite vocally.

“He just made my day!” one woman trilled when Miles smiled at her.

“Baby! Baby! Baby!” another baby in a stroller announces, pointing as she glides by.

A take-out deliveryman parks his bicycle, looks over shyly.  He points to his own eyes, then at Miles.  “Beautiful,” he says.

Sitting on the stoop, I get to know the neighbors.  On the stoop I learn that Dave is from Chicago and that his dog’s name is Fife.  I see Mike from next door (father of two) and ask where he’s going.  “I’m getting some things for my wife because she wants to make donuts.  She’s a chef, you know.”  Our downstairs neighbor Violet, almost 5, comes out to inspect Miles.  “Did you know I can’t stop touching his head?” she asks, stroking his downy hair. 

I see the elderly woman two doors down smiling at us, so Miles and I walk over to say hi.  “Bebe que lindo!” she says happily.  I realize we don’t share a language, but it’s okay.  Miles drools and kicks, and they grin at each other.  Then, miming shivers and rubbing her arms despite the early evening heat, the woman gives me a reproachful look.  “Mucho frio,” she scolds, because Miles is not wearing a hat.

It’s almost 6:00, so we head back to our own door.  When we get upstairs, we’ll listen to our chill-out music (currently an album of Tony Bennett and k.d. lang duets).  Miles will lie quietly on his Winnie-the-Pooh blanket sucking on toys while I tidy up the house and prep the last ingredients for dinner.   Then it’s bathtime, pajamas, bedtime story.  Sleep.  I stop to look up and down the street one last time. It’s time to go upstairs.  But we’ll be back tomorrow if you want to stop by. 

Day is done.

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So, I totally forgot to post Miles’ stats from his six-month checkup.   Whoopsie.  Here they are.

Weight: 16 pounds, 6 ounces (31st percentile, down from 47th percentile)

Height: 26.5 inches (54th percentile, up from 38th percentile)

So he’s been burning off some of those double chins and putting most of his growth into getting taller.  She said it’s normal for his weight gain to taper off right now because he’s starting to need the nutrients from solid food.  Don’t worry, folks, if we feed this kid on demand, he’ll have his chins back in no time.  He put away some serious carrots last night before bed.  (Which led to some really purty orange pukes.)

Oh, she was also amused that he’s rolling from back to tummy (which is harder) but not from tummy to back (which is so easy it basically involves tipping his head to the side and letting go).  And she said he’s sitting up really well for his age. 

Numbers and stats — whatever.  Isn’t he just perfect the way he is?

Bathtime yumminess.

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Chow Fun

Carrots.

We are go for food!  I repeat, we are go for food!

At the six-month checkup on Monday, our pediatrician gave us the green light to go beyond dabbling in food and start feeding this kid for real.  No one could be happier than Miles himself.  Ever since we first dipped our finger in something and let him sample, he’s been impatient for the real dining to begin. 

For a few weeks now, we’ve been trying out different fruits on him once a day, and he’s been wild with delight.  Bananas send him into convulsions of joy.  Pears, mango, and apples also receive an enthusiastic welcome.  We’ve developed a sweet little morning routine where we all eat breakfast together, one of us holding Miles on our lap.  But even as he’s hurtled himself wholeheartedly at our offerings, Miles has also seemed aware that we were holding out.

Breakfast club.

The kid is no fool.  He knows that whatever we’re eating is probably better than what he’s eating.  He also notices that we eat solid food three times a day or more!  At breakfast if we pause in between his bites to feed ourselves, he gropes madly for our plates or for the bite we’re about to eat.  At other times of day if I’m, say, eating lunch while watching him play on a blanket, he stares accusingly at me, tracking each morsel as it enters my mouth.  I’ve been feeling guilty for depriving him but thought I should wait for the full talk from the doctor.

We assumed that after all this build-up, the pediatrician was going to give us a big spiel about solids.  We thought she would lay out all the Do’s and Don’ts, ply us with her personal eating philosophy, and lecture us about the dangers of food allergies and artificial ingredients.  Nope.  The extent of her talk was, “He likes eating?  Great!  Have a ball with it!” 

After we — okay, I — asked her a bazillion questions, we got a few more details out of her.  She said to let him set the pace in terms of what and how much he wants to eat.  (“Sometimes they’ll eat so much they throw up!” she said brightly, chuckling as if this were utterly charming.)  She conceded, after some interrogation on my part, that things should be pureed for now (but when do we move up to chunkier food??) and that we should feed him a wide variety of foods — for instance, kale, because he needs all the nutrients.  (Yikes, we don’t even eat kale!  Note to self: find out what kale actually looks like and buy some.) 

I'll have what she's having.

“Is there anything we shouldn’t feed him?” Robin asked.

“No.”

I stared in confusion.  What about all the rules?  The Dr. Sears “Baby Book” has detailed Yes and No lists and suggests a food journal to track possible allergies.  And I have repeatedly — repeatedly — read that honey is A Very Bad Thing to give babies because it can give them botulism.  BOTULISM.  Symptoms of which include constipation, breathing problems and neuromuscular paralysis.  And death.

Mommy + bananas = happy baby.

“Except honey,” I said as casually as possible, trying to conceal my rising hysteria.

The doctor shrugged affably.  “I say no raw honey but, you know, it’s all pasteurized now.  If it would make you feel better — no honey.”  She laughed.

What about egg whites?  Peanut butter?  Cow’s milk?  Chocolate?  Can I give him water?  I was too dumbstruck to ask.

I make jokes about what a stress case I am, but some of that is just for the laughs.  This solid foods thing is an aspect of parenting where my multiple personalities compete. There’s a part of me that is (or wants to be?) low-key about feeding.  I’d like to just start giving him food off of our plates, maybe mashing it a little with a fork.  And then again I have fantasies of making my own baby food — I even have baby food recipes I clipped from a Martha Stewart Baby magazine in 1999. 

Which part of me will prevail here?  I’m not sure.  I think if our doctor were overly dogmatic, I’d rebel against her a little and be, perversely, more relaxed.  But the fact that she’s so laissez-faire that she doesn’t even mention honey or allergies makes me wonder WHAT ELSE SHE’S NOT TELLING US.  I don’t want to make some stupid, obvious blunder that results in neuromuscular paralysis!

What handsome looks like.

And then my totally awesome friend Laura emailed me asking if I’m going to use a food grinder or maybe an immersion blender, and honestly I don’t have the shadow of an idea.  Should I be pureeing one simple, wholesome ingredient at a time, like Martha Stewart and Dr. Sears seem to think?  Or can I just throw whatever we had for dinner — last night, pork tacos with mole sauce, black beans, and a salad — in a blender in its entirety and feed it to him with a spoon?  

Trust me, I know what I'm doing.

Meanwhile, some more unforgettable eating moments:

Dr. Sears would not approve.

You can handle this pineapple chunk, right?

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