In praise of pumpkin

When Asher had his cold he got fussy about what he ate for the first time. He just seemed to want simple flavours and smooth textures but because it was a 'first' it was a disconcerting experience for Sanj and I. I just kept repeating to myself like a mantra that as long as he was still breastfeeding a week or two of not eating 'well' is fine. Anyhow, the foods that he would still eat happily were all orange - carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato. I suppose it's because they get a nice smooth consistency after a quick go in the Bamix's food processor attachment and they are quite sweet (they are also cheap, easy to cook and freeze well - what's not to love???).

Whatever he's been eating, it's been doing the job though - I weighed him the other day at 10 months and he is around 8.75kg which is up from around 8.5kg at 9 months. He is also cruising (walking holding onto things) and standing by himself for up to about 20 seconds ('Look mum, no hands'). He's also sleeping really well at the moment, rarely waking up at might unless there is some change of routine.

All this adds up to a very boring blog post, but it's a case of no news being good news and all being rather peaceful in our household at the moment. I haven't forgotten my promise to describe our current daily and weekly routine though. After visiting little baby Zara on the weekend I was trying to remember a few things from when Asher was only a month old and failing miserably and I know I'll forget what's happening now if I don't write it down.


Toy Science?

Like most other kids, I guess, Asher is so curious about the world around him. He's fascinated by things that fit in other things (his stacking cups, shape sorter and a shoebox that we have put a bunch of his toys in) and the sounds things make as he whacks two objects together. I love to watch him play, and I love it when he gets engrossed in something enough to play by himself for a bit. Watching him playing and learning brings on pangs of insecurity - am I providing a stimulating enough invironment for my little one?

So when I read the websites and packaging from various toy manufacturers I get the idea that there must be armies of toy scientists employed by these companies. Anything with lights obviously 'stimulate baby’s visual sense' while other objects 'develop finger and hand dexterity'. Cuddly toys with faces apparently 'enhance baby’s sense of security, inviting baby to hug & express friendship'. Which makes me think that the toy researchers, wearing white lab coats and clutching clipboards probably assess the infants and toddlers through one way mirrors, noting down the way that they play with toys and the way they respond to stimuli. I'm sure these scientists and behaviourlists then conduct longitudinal studies that look at how well children do at school based on the toys play with.

But I know that my imaginings bear as much resemblance to reality as the Ponds Institute does to a centre for higher learning. It's not like that at all, and these companies are just trying to play on our insecurities as parents to get us to buy their products, not that all toys are bad, but there isn't that much thought going in to their design by the big toy manufacturers. Even Asher's favourite toys could do with simple improvements. For instance the cube in the shape sorter looks like a cube but isn't and therefore only fits in to the square hole a certain way. I still wish I could find stacking cups like the bakelite ones that were once at my grandparents house. 'Only' two or three colours but as well as all stacking together the ones that were the same colour would stack properly and of course they could be nested or stacked facing 'up' with the smallest down the bottom like other stacking/nesting cups I've seen. If I was designing them now there would be ten cups and each would have perhaps a painted number and raised dots to indicate which in the series it was.


Equilibrium - the Mama and Dada update

I was thinking about a blog post last night as I was drifting off to sleep, and I remember feeling like I had what I wanted to write pretty well worked out. This morning all I remember about it is trying to explain that I feel like I've finally found some sort of equilibrium in my life. Before Asher was born I spent a few years where I was always either trying to get pregnant, being pregnant or miscarrying. Then came Asher and he, of course, turned our lives upside down. I consider myself more prepared than some, having lived with tiny babies before, but Sanjay and I still had to really re-negotiate our relationship as well as our day-to-day lives. All this didn't surprise me, but that doesn't mean it wasn't difficult. I spent a while feeling bitter and misunderstood because there was no way that Sanjay could understand the relentlessness of hanging out with a little baby every hour of every day. Sanjay was in shock with the changes to our lives and suddenly feeling the pressure of being 'provider' while in a job that he's not really that enthusiastic about. Sometime in the last month or two it's changed for us though. I'm pretty comfortable with the fact he won't understand it from a first-person perspective, I'm overjoyed that he is as involved as he is* and I'm getting the occasional day where I have some hours to myself, which makes me so happy to see both Asher and Sanjay. Sanj is feeling more confident as a parent as he spends time alone with Asher, and realises that he can comfort and soothe the baby as well as I can (er, except for not being able to breastfeed), and he's starting to look for ways to improve his work life by putting his hand up for new opportunities. This new-found peace hasn't really happened easily or naturally (for me - I'm sure Sanjay would beg to differ) and, although we still bicker like children and I'm well aware that it could change at any moment, for now I'm enjoying the peace.

* I need to remind myself to do a post about our routine soon! I'll forget this time if I don't write it down!


Belated Nine Month Update

Asher is asleep, so I thought I would just give a super-quick update. At his 9 month appointment he weighed 8.5kg which is around the 25 percentile. This is around where he's been tracking so the ECH nurse was able to dismiss the very slight worry that he's not putting on enough weight. The only 9 month milestone he didn't show her was the pincer grip and although he doesn't do that one very often he does do it. She said it was relatively common in really active kids, because they don't get as much practise as they are too busy crawling around getting into things and suggested I let him indulge in the very messy act of 'self feeding' to let him practice. So yesterday I sat him in his highchair in the kitchen and put a few blobs of silken tofu on his tray. He had a great time smooshing it around and even managed to get quite a lot of it in his mouth. I like the tofu - it's squooshy enough not to really be a choking hazard and yet it kind of crumbles rather than smears, so clean up is comparitively easy. the fact that it's probably pretty healthy for him is a small added benefit compared with keeping him safe and occupied for 15 minutes. It was a good thing to keep him safe and occupied yesterday - I have a pretty awful cold and was keeping him entertained quite a struggle.

Ok, I can hear him trying to put the side of his cot down again (Apparently it's 'impossible' for babies to put the side down from inside the cot. Thank you Boori!) so I had better go and attent to him.


Happy Long Weekend!

I think I'm one of the least religious people I know, I'm deeply agnostic, but I love a long weekend as much as the next person. It's great to have Sanjay around for a few days for baby-wrangling and today it's meant that I got all inspired and seasonal and made hot cross buns from scratch. He's now taken Asher out for a bit so I have a chance to have a quiet cup of coffee, try one of the Easter buns and catch up with emails (and yes, blog)

I used this recipe from the SMH's Good Living and I'm pretty happy with it. It is the first time I've made them so I don't have another recipe to compare them to. I didn't have currants but I had mixed fruit which I picked the cherries out of so it's currants, sultanas and peel rather than just currants and peel. Basically they are very slightly light and yeasty for my taste, so if I was making this recipe again I would use a bigger pinch of salt (which might necesitate longer rising times as the salt inhibits the yeasts growth), maybe more fruit and I might be a little more generous with the spices. For the sake of full disclosure I should also mention that I didn't have lemon essence or powdered gelatine so I used lemon infused caster sugar (!) and two thirds of a sheet of titanium strength leaf gelatine (and extra water)

The whole thing wasn't particularly difficult, just a tad fiddly but it was 100% worth it if only for the breathtaking smell as they were cooking. Now is the time you should wish we had smellavision!


Regrets, I've had a few.....

I am not a person who has many regrets. Sure, there were those Sambuca shots with work mates at the Dendy Bar (which is, sadly, now an electronics store) and various other times I've made a fool of myself but generally I plunge in and learn from the experience and I'm very rarely left wishing I had done something. But I've got a few regrets over the first week or so of Asher's life. I wish I'd been a little bit more clear about my hopes for the first few days with Sanjay and his parents - I spent a lot of time being shocked that they didn't understand what I wanted, but I wasn't comfortable asserting what I wanted. That led to tears (mine) and misunderstandings (theirs) and put a strain on our friendship that is still in the process of healing. I've learnt to be a bit more forthright but I think I have a long way to go there.

The other thing I really regret is not writing everything down. I wish I had started this blog back then so I could look over it now, just nine months later, and remember how I was feeling and what our days were like. I've already forgotten most of what happened in hospital. I remember feeding Asher and Sanjay changing nappies, but little else. I can't quite remember how much he slept at night, but I think I was waking up every 2-4 hours to feed him. I do remember watching a fair bit of the Soccer World Cup in those first weeks.

I was reminded of all this when I was talking to Bindy today. She and baby Zara are home now and I suggested she 'write it all down' because even though you think it's etched on your brain you forget those early days so quickly. So, I'm going to note down our daily routine sometime this week, but not right now, as I can hear that Asher has just woken up from his morning sleep.....