Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to play with your infant

Obviously, soccer is right out--the ball is just way too big. Similarly, Monopoly takes way too long for someone with such a short attention span.

You may be asking yourself, then, exactly how DOES one play with an infant? Considering the limitations of the baby and similarly the over saturation of the market with useless items (see consumerism convenience and consomething else) it's hard to know what to buy, what to do with it, and when it's appropriate.

The simplest way to "play" with your baby is to touch him. Making physical contact is an important lesson your baby needs to learn. Skin on skin is essential for your baby to bond with you, and c'mon, who doesn't love a good massage every now and again?

Another easy way to stimulate and amuse baby is talking. Some people (yeah, that's me referencing myself there) feel a little silly at first, talking to a baby. The simplest way is to start small. I found "hi there, I'm your mom" to be a good lead-in. From there you can talk about your day, your sordid past (it's ok, chances are pretty slim that anything you say will be retained) or just go with a running commentary on your actions. I always swore I wouldn't be that mom babbling day in and day out in baby talk, but guess who I turned into?

I even made up a whole series of "------'s a Baby" songs, revolving around the parts of the body, and whatever E was doing at the time.

Tummy Time is super important, since the introduction of the "back is best" campaign and "back to sleep" positioning suggestions have shown a decrease in advanced learning of  large head and neck motor skills.. Tummy time is when you put the baby facedown and SUPERVISE CAREFULLY while he learns to do things like roll over and pick his head up. They make some specific Tummy Time Mats, but anything clean that can be drooled on is ok. Since it's not very engaging to just be placed on your tummy, try to keep your baby's attention during tummy time. get down on the ground, talk to him, play with toys, or just make faces.

Teaching motor skills can be fun! We used to do bicycle legs to release gas and promote hip flexibility, and now we do it because it's fun. He helps me more every time. I figure by the time he has a pedal bike he'll be an old pro.

E also has a baby gym, a pretty simple one. Every day he lays on his back, staring up at the toys dangling in front of his eyes, flailing wildly until he makes contact. Every day the flailing gets less wild, more controlled, more calculated. Last night he reached out and grabbed one of the support arms and just held onto it for a good three minutes.

Most dangling things will be very interesting to babies. Mobiles, gym toys, keys, hair, earrings... some of these things are good. Some are less good. to take the focus off the less good, make sure the more good are brighter, shinier, and have more contrasting colors. Also keep the really not good out of reach. My mother has a torn earlobe because of not having earrings far enough away from my hand.

Remember the first time you ever felt a bunny, or a chinchilla? Every texture is like that for babies, so find some interesting textures on large items (no choking hazard here), sanitize them, and introduce baby to some fabulous new feels.

Playtime isn't just about amusing your baby, it's about learning to use this fabulous new body they've been given, learning to interact with the world, and learning that naptime can be fabulous after a long day of activity.

And trust me, naptime is FABULOUS.

Friday, September 30, 2011

That's Not What Madonna Meant (expression v. pumping)

Express yourself! Not just a way of relaying your personal ideas or feelings on a matter, expression literally means "to press out," and in the case of expressing breastmilk that definition is spot-on. While many women prefer to use the new-fangled breast pumps which literally suck the milk out of you, there are some who prefer to hand-express. Personally I find there are pros and cons to every situation, and this is no exception.

single handed, or hands-free depending on equipment
easy to set up a routine with, allowing for relaxation
reliable variable strengths of suction
re-creates natural suction, like nursing

requires expensive equipment
hard to do while out and about
time consuming

easily performed almost anywhere
almost completely silent
no equipment other than what God gave you required
essentially free

can be painful if done wrong
can cause tender breasts
requires both hands, and occasionally knees as well

I own a pump, but when I only have a few minutes, I prefer to hand-express.While pumping can take up to 45 minutes for me to fully drain, I can get a few ounces out, increase my comfort level and then just pump or feed later. Expressing into a bottle for cold storage is easy, and since breast milk keeps at 72 degrees for up to 6 hours, I can express while I'm out and put it in the freezer when I get home.

If you're at work and need to pump most states have laws requiring reasonable accommodations be made for breastfeeding mothers that they might pump while not losing productivity. In that vein there are hands-free pump-bras available which allow you to simply set up a partition and remain at your desk. This allows you to  continue to type, write, make clay unicorns, or whatever it is you do for monetary gain.

Of course this, like almost every single parenting aspect, is a personal choice. Hopefully the information here helps make that choice easier.

Friday, September 23, 2011

He's Napping! In his bassinet!

I can bake!!! L. Itsababy's sleeping in his bassinet and thanks to the belt clip on the receiver for the baby monitor, I don't need to be in the bedroom! So I'm baking cupcakes, and cookies. Hurray for both being at 350 degrees! Next up is another batch of cupcakes, then corn muffins and brownies if I have time. The corn muffins aren't anything special, just Jiffycorn. The cupcakes are also nothing special, just funfetti. Unless, of course, funfetti excites you, in which case OMG FUNFETTI IS AMAZING AND I LOVE IT! The brownies are Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate (which I make quadruple chocolate by adding semi-sweet toll house morsels to) but the cookies are something new I'm trying. They're this new pre-made organic brand they're selling at Safeway/Vons called Immaculate. I tried the chocolate chip a few weeks ago, and tey were pretty good. Today we're trying the spice ones. Pictures pending.

I'm making all these because 1) I love to bake, but just DON'T have the time for from-scratch baking anymore and 2) I'm making pulled pork in the crock pot. I love Karla's recipe, it really is the Bees Knees. I'm mkaing a HUGE batch, so I'll have enough to share. I ran into a friend while I was walking L. Itsababy yesterday (6.5 miles!) and he commented that the cookies I had made for him, his wife, and his GORGEOUS son (seriously, this is the only kid I will admit might be cuter than my own) were delicious. I racked my brain for the recipe I used to make those cookies (A sugar cookie and Russian tea hybrid) but cannot remember for the life of me where it might be. Mommy brain. So hopefully they like spice cookies, too!

I have a huge head of cabbage and was going to make coleslaw today as a result. I'm not sure if I'm going to have THAT much time, but it's worth a shot, I suppose. The recipe I plan to use is:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
mix it together in a bowl, refrigerate for an hour. Hey! That's coleslaw!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Some days it's hard to look at L. Itsababy's face. He's so breathtakingly beautiful... literally sometimes I can't breathe when he looks me in the eye. He's so perfect and so much US. I can see so much of his father in him, so much of myself, and so many past generations peeking out from unsuspected corners. He has my grandmother's ears. I miss her so much and every time I see his ears, I know she's going to be listening to him forever.

Right now he's alternating between cooing at the hanging toys on his baby gym and crying in frustration when he can't make contact with the toy he's reaching for. It sounds like ducks, sort of. A strange but gorgeous babbling brook that every so often coughs up this milk-mucus bubble sound.

It's a bit frustrating to see him still not gaining weight.Oh he's GROWING, don't get me wrong.  He's currently wearing his 3-6 month onesies and they're getting a little short, even if he doesn't fill them out width-wise. Not bad for being 10 weeks old today. The pediatrician has asked us to start supplementing his diet, which seems like a battle I've fought before, you know? I'm just tired of fighting the same battles. I started taking fenugreek (which is working for me) so I can have enough to both feed and pump, and give fortified bottles a few times a day. This should give us a good back supply of milk, which will make it a lot easier for TJ and I to get things done. I won't be as tied to the house as I have been.

Also helping with not being tied to the house is L. Itsababy getting his shots. We've been going places and seeing people and I'm not afraid that he's going to catch the black plague from some crazy old lady anymore. We went to church on Sunday and it felt WONDERFUL to be back. It had been way too long since I took the Sacrament, and it felt wonderful to renew my covenants. L. Itsababy was pretty good for the service, and an angel for Sunday School. He went to sleep for Relief Society, and woke up with just five minutes left, which was a good 3 hours of good behavior, and made me feel like an actual good mom.

I started keeping a food and exercise log, to help track what foods give L. Itsababy trouble, and to make sure I'm eating enough good fat. I've walked 6 miles so far since Sunday, which really isn't enough for me. T and I are supposed to go jogging today when he gets home, but I think I'm going to try to get in a few extra miles before hand, maybe a few more after. I really want to meet 30 miles this week.

I've also discovered Sukhi's Indian food, which is delicious. I made chicken vindaloo in the crockpot for dinner last night, with onions, potatoes, and bell peppers. It was delicious, easy, and fast. I'm going to try to figure out a home made spice base to do it again from scratch later.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quick! While He's Asleep!

We got a new refrigerator. Normally this would be a happy, but not momentous occasion. We, however, have been dealing with an incontinent refrigerator for a while now, and simply did not have the time to deal with it due to baby things. Yes, I said incontinent. We used to walk out into the kitchen every morning and have to avoid the sudden lake that had sprung up in the night. It was frustrating.

Our new fridge is lovely. It also opens on the correct side for optimal cooking, which is important in a tiny little kitchen (seriously, we have maybe ten square feet of floor space in there) like ours. The freezer part is smaller than the previous fridge, but the fridge part is larger, so I'm sure we can work around what we need to freeze v. simply chill.

We also got our hot water pressure fixed, yesterday. We'd been having issues with the pressure in our shower for a while (read: three years) and it kind of just peed on you. Now showering is fabulous again, especially with the low-flow shower head we installed to optimize what pressure we DID have.

The average person is probably saying "Oh awesome, you got it fixed" but the women out there with children are thinking "Oh my goodness you poor creature how did you ever LIVE without a good shower?" They're thinking that because they know that when you have a child, sometimes the shower is the only escape you have, the only place in the house where you can't hear them crying out in their daddy's arms.

So it's been an eventful few days.

I also got my IUD out. No, we're not already planning more children. I seem to be in that lovely 1% of women for whom an IUD means frequent and heavy periods. Like one week on, one week off frequent. Since I don't want to deal with that, even if it does mean not having to use any other form of BC, I had it out. And it turns out it was a good thing, too, since it was seated wrong and wasn't actually protecting me. That could have ended badly. You hear horror stories of babies being born with IUDs clutched in their hands, and that is exactly how that happens.

On another positive note, I ran today. In the couch to 5k style, if not exactly the way they want me to. TJ and I went out to a lovely trail/fire road area in one of our county parks (Rancho San Antonio <- map) and walked 3.5 miles. We only ran about .5 miles, but I figure that's better than nothing. Also my shoulders are killing me since our original intention had been to walk and I did not wear the proper *ahem* support.

The running was endless amusement for L. Itsababy until he got chilly. Then he was Mr. Whinypants until we put him in over-shirt and an extra pair of pants and wrapped him up in an extra T-Shirt I keep in the diaper bag for when L. Itsababy decides to spit up all over me. We also saw a few deer and a whole warren of rabbits. Ok, probably not the whole warren, but a whole ton of them!

L. Itsababy likes being jostled. He prefers rides in TJ's 1989 Jeep Cherokee with the bouncy suspension to any other vehicle he's ever been in. He prefers we take his stroller over gravel than pavement. He likes to be jiggled while on his side, and if he's sitting or leaning on me I better be patting his butt hard enough to move his head. I get the feeling spanking will never be a threat to this kid.

Since E didn't take a nape today he passed out pretty quickly when we got home, so I was able to cook real food. I made hobak bokum with turkey, spicy basil stir fried vegetables, and rice. so that's TONS of squash ingested today. Super happy!

Hobak Bokum:

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup dark soy sauce (I forgot the /2 in the original post, I apologize if anyone tried to make this and got sodium poisoning. Props to kira-hime for noticing!)
1 piece of fresh ginger about the size of your thumb (I actually use quite a bit more than this, but I really like ginger)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium zucchini (courgette) sliced
sesame oil
vegetable oil
sesame seeds (shiro gami)

Grate the fresh ginger into the soy sauce, add the garlic, and stir until even. Pour over turkey in a ziplock bag, and massage until fully dark brown. Feel free to add more soy sauce until your desired color is attained. Let sit for at least half an hour.

Heat a few tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok or pan on medium high. Add a few drops sesame oil. Brown meat. Add sliced zucchini and cover. reduce heat to medium low, let cook until zucchini is almost done (about 5 minutes) uncover and let reduce for another minute. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve over rice.

I also sauteed 3 small crookneck squash, 2 mexican grey squash, 1/4 of an onion, 2 sliced carrots, and a red bell pepper with kra-phao sauce (I will add a recipe for this soon, I promise) which ended up being a bit too much food. Hurray leftovers!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A return

Today's entry is about a lot of things. Autumn is always a time of introspection for me, which can get me into a lot of trouble. I usually end up--at some point--dwelling on the old familiars (weight gain, blemishes, how hard it is to shop for pants when you're over 6 feet tall) and not absorbing the fabulousness of the season. Today, instead, I'd like to take a moment to dwell on some good things, even in the face of adversity.

I suppose I'll have to explain that adversity first, but then on to good things!

L. Itsababy had a doctor's appointment today. His doctor is worried about his weight. He just isn't gaining enough. he's currently 24.5 inches long according to the tape measure there, and weighs only 9 pounds. That puts him in the 99th percentile for height, and about the 35th for weight. The doctor suggested we start using breastmilk fortifier, to get him more protein a few times a day. This means I'm going to have to pump, add the fortifier, and feed, which with E's feeding schedule means I'm going to be spending most of my day attached to dairy equipment. The other option is formula. I have already fought this battle, and don't want to fight it again. So there you go, adversity.

Happier things!

We walked 3 miles in just about 40 minutes, which is a good clip when you're pushing a stroller and there are bridges and it's super dark out and you can't see bloody anything and you trip like twice. Yay run-on sentence!

E got his first set of inoculations today, so I can take him to church on Sunday! Yay communing with God and my ward!

One of the side-effects of E's shots is sleepiness! Yay sleepiness!

I made a super healthy dinner! Yay healthy!

Another thing to return to: posting meal ideas and recipes. Therefore, here is what we had for dinner! Remember, this is split three ways

Two boneless skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with garlic and basil, pan-grilled with one tablespoon olive oil.
Chicken was sliced and placed on top of a salad which consisted of:
1/3 small head of red cabbage
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1  large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 heart romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
2 green onions, chopped
dressed with champagne vinaigrette.

On the side we had garlic rice (well they did, I didn't. I had enough carbs today) and sauteed zucchini and crookneck squash.

Which reminds me, one of the best things about autumn is the colors of vegetables. If you live in a place with a mild climate, like California, you have access to the makings of some absolutely beautiful dinners. Reds and oranges and yellows and greens and purples all converging on the grocery produce section at once, and squash most prominently. Such and amazing and versatile food, squashes lend themselves to both savory and sweet dishes with a flexibility usually reserved for gymnasts and circus freaks. Expect lots of fabulous squash recipes in coming months,

Until then, sleep and eat well!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ongoing Goings On

Things are both better and worse.

L. Itsababy's over his ear infection, which is wonderful. However that means we don't have a go-to "oh he's fussing because of his ear" explanation anymore. Sometimes he's perfectly content to just sit and stare at anything and everything. Other times he needs to be walked in ever tightening concentric circles within line of sight of the ceiling fan and a light source while I sing "Tuppence a Bag" from Mary Poppins and take a slight skip on every fifth step.It's enough to incite those thoughts that mother's shouldn't have, but we all do anyway. Those horrid dark thoughts that creep into your mind at 3am when the lights are out and everyone else is sleeping except you and the baby. I was expecting those thoughts to have flown away like migrating birds by now,a nd it's looking more like what was originally just baby blues is moving closer to PPD.

The cats are seemingly warming up to E a bit more each day. the other day Squeak, who until now has been the most standoff-ish of the trio, walked right up to his infant seat and started sniffing his toes. It was adorable. Of course she bolted when I reached for the camera. I'll try to be faster next time.

We've discovered this wonderful spray from Nature's Miracle which stops feline marking. I'm a little sad that we had that problem, but it's also solved so many other problems with the cats that I'm almost happy we had to try it. It keeps them out of the kitchen, keeps Squeak from scratching the bedroom door, and it smells like cinnamon and lemongrass. let me repeat that. IT SMELLS LIKE CINNAMON AND LEMONGRASS. This will be amazing come Christmas.

We're starting to put serious thought into E's Halloween costume for this year. So far there are a few contenders.

The first is Rincewind the Wizzard from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Yes, I spelled all of that correctly.  Most people tell us that E has this otherworldly wizened look about him, somehow he seems so much older and more knowledgeable than the average 9-week-old bundle of DNA, and we're considering taking advantage of that, in the form of a fabulous sleep-sack based robe and hand-made "Wizzard's hat" that I'm sure we can find a pattern for somewhere on the interwebz.

The second is a theme-based costume. TJ has gone as the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland several times, and I'm considering making it girly and stealing it for myself this year. Angie agreed it would be nifty to go as a similarly themed character, and personally I was thinking Mad Hatter. That puts E in fine form to be The Dormouse. And what a cute dormouse he'd be, too.

I've been cooking a lot in the crock pot recently. It's so much easier to just pile what we want for dinner into that than actually focus on making separate courses. A lot of pulled pork and chicken, a lot of chili. in fact, I'm making pulled barbecue chicken pizza with white sauce and green onions for dinner tonight, as per boboli crust instructions.

and my timer just went off.