Monday, December 20, 2010

Goodbye 2010

I think this will be my last blog post for the year, as I'm heading orf overseas for family festivities, and people tend to get offended when you only tear yourself away from your laptop to briefly wolf down two helpings of bread sauce and turkey, before returning to sketch your entire family in MS Paint as bug-eyed potato-people.

So just a quickie then, as I still need to pack.

The Frog is at the stage where he seems to be developing a new trick every day.  He very much prefers to be left sitting up in the middle of the floor, where he can survey his grounds in a lordly manner - occasionally picking up a nearby peon (read teddy bear), chewing it thoughtfully for a while before tossing it aside in favour of something a little less, shall we say, fluffy.

He does go on his tummy.  By choice.  At about 5am in the morning.  And then HOWLS because he's suddenly forgotten how to turn over onto his back again.  Needless to say, these days of early risings do NOT impress me.  He finds himself doing extra tummy-time as penance.  But I'm heartless. "NO BUM-SHUFFLERS in THIS house!", I say, and plonk him down on his front while I put his breakfast together.   But once he's stopped grizzling, and puts his mind to the task at hand (namely covering all nearby objects in a viscous layer of slime), he's actually getting a little better at the whole tummy-time thing.  He can push his entire upper body off the floor, and once or twice, I swear I saw him angle his legs so that his weight was taken just a little bit on his knees.

He is still immensely grabby, and to my secret delight, has found Hubs' ears (Hubs has chuckled a little TOO often at the sight of the Frog's hands clasped lovingly around a hank of my hair). We now have a new appreciation for Superman's adoptive parents.

Anyway.  That's it from me - must make sure I remember all essentials, like in-flight podcasts, and sound- muffling headphones.  Every man for himself in the dog-eat-dog world of plane travel!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baby wearing

I know I said glibly in another post that I was the only baby-wearer in my city.  Well, I may have exaggerated. Just a tiny bit.  Anyway, there still are so few of us that I feel like high-fiving everyone I come across who has an infant strapped to their body.

And I would, except that I have the feeling the scenario would play out a lot more like:
And I would quickly become known as the Local Lunatic, and all people with baby carrying devices would cross the road when they saw me coming.   So I don't.  But I want you all to know that secretly, deep inside, whenever I see you with your baby carrier, I think "High FIVE!!!!"

Cornflour ... Is there anything it can't do?

Here was I, relegating cornflour to gravy-thickening alone, but apparently it has many other uses.  In pavlovas, for one, on babies' bottoms for another, and heck, even a key ingredient in home-made explosives.

I'll leave the pavlova story for another post.  Suffice to say that me and egg-white should probably call it quits for  the time being.

I didn't realise that talcum powder had suddenly become scary. But I assumed there was a reason that cornflour was being promoted as the essential bum-drying material, rather than the traditional talc.  I didn't have the opportunity to road-test cornflour until very recently, as the Frog had remained blissfully rash-free. However, with the warm weather coming on, I noticed some pinkish patches on his bum, so decided to act earlier rather than later.  I sort of expected that cornflour + sticky bodily secretions = nasty gluey paste.

Let me just say that after liberal application of cornflour to the Frog's bum, I'm a convert.  I think in the warmer months I shall just slather myself in the stuff as well, because you can become seriously frictionless with a good coating of cornflour.  Just add in some salt, pepper and a little sage, and you'd smell very enticing if it got warm enough!

Every time I dust the Frog's nethers, I'm reminded of that scene in Run, Fatboy, Run where Hank Azaria's character gives himself a far-too-enthusiastic powdering after a gym session.  I'd post a link for you, but I think I finally found a search term that's too esoteric even for the intertubes.  Just imagine it. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The menu ..

The Frog is exploring foods.  So far we have discovered that he LIKES:

  • banana
  • apple
  • pear


The jury is OUT on:

  • pumpkin
  • pineapple
  • honeydew melon
  • rockmelon


He DOESN'T LIKE:

  • peas
  • carrots
  • sweet potato


In fact, I've discovered a new facial expression.  When I hand him a mesh net that isn't full of banana (or apple or pear), I look down to see this:


You'd think I was skinning his favourite teddy bear or something!  I sense we're in for a rough ride.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Product Review II: Tommee Tippee Monitor

I may as well write something informative on this blog.  And this here's going to be another rant, I'm afraid.

The Frog's concerned grandparents wanted to get me a monitor - one of those things that have a pad that slide under the mattress and beep alarmingly when your baby doesn't move for 20 seconds, or something like.  The local baby department store had 2 brands, the Tommee Tippee "Suresound Ultimate Monitor" and another one (I forget its name).   The sales lady didn't really push either one, so we just chose the Tommee Tippee at random.  Boy, but I wish I'd done some proper research.

Turns out that the alarm system seems to be some kind of scatter-brained nursemaid: "Watching baby, watching baby, watchi-  Ooooh! What's that out the window? Ooooh .....  pretty colours ......  Lovely swishy sounds ... Lalalala ..........         OMG! I forgot to watch the baby!!  Has it been 20 seconds???  I don't know!!!  WAKE UP EVERYONE!!!!! BABY IS DYING!!!!!!!"

This can happen at any time, but seems to specialise in hitting that sweet spot at about 3am when I'm deep in REM sleep, and trying to work out how to put on my shoes when they're full of hedgehogs.


















So I leap up and stagger to his room, to find the Frog deep in slumber.  And as I stare bleary-eyed at the monitor, the Frog heaves a huge sigh of somnolent contentment, to rub it in.  And it's just as well really, as noone appreciates being visited by a sleep-deprived zombie potato in the dead of night.

The alarm has gone off so frequently, that we now just don't bother to set it, because after about the tenth over-enthusiastic wake-up call, Hubs and I had stopped leaping up, stopped nudging one another ("YOU go", "No, YOUR turn"), stopped midnight games of rock-paper-scissors, and in fact barely registered that the monitor was making a sound at all.  Turns out you can sleep through these alarms pretty well.  So not much use there.

My second issue (yes! I have more than one!).  Was the design of the parent-side unit.  Don't know if you've checked out the link, but the parent-side monitor looks like a high-tech egg nestled in its cup.  And it's about as stable.  Seriously, this is the most touchy and poorly designed bit of baby-safe technology EVER.  To begin with, it takes multiple attempts at placing the 'egg' in the cup so that it actually starts receiving information from the baby-side.  Maybe you have to turn it to face Mecca, or magnetic North, or place it on a ley-line?  All I know is that it usually takes me three goes just to get the buzzy static that lets me know that we have a connection.
But having a connection is only half the battle.  Keeping it is the other half.  Honestly, I think you'd have a better chance at maintaining full contact with an Apollo space mission.  If anything disturbs the precise balance of the egg, it stops transmitting.  This can be the cat brushing past, a light wind blowing, or even a particularly vigorous yawn might suck it a fraction of a millimetre out of alignment.  Either way, there have been a few mornings I've woken up after a lovely sleep-in, to see the monitor lights dead, and hear the distant caterwauling of a Disconsolate and Lonely Frog.

Nuff said.  Buy another brand.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Feeding time at the zoo

So, we're getting into the routine of feeding the Frog solids.  As we were out shopping for essentials for the solid-food-eating baby (spoons, bibs, high-and-low chair, fish slice), we saw this little device that I'd never heard of before.  It's like a dummy (or 'pacifier' for those who think 'dummy' isn't PC), but instead of the plastic teat thingy, there's this mesh net which you can fill with food.  I could take a picture, but I'm having too much fun with my new-found MSpaint skillz, so I've included a helpful diagram below of how it could be used with a slice of, say, banana.
Yep, you just stick the piece of food into the netting, and give it a couple of gentle squeezes (if you feel like it), and it becomes an unholy ooze, squelching out through the netting holes.  Frankly, I wish someone had mentioned one of these to me when I was younger - a device that skins peas as you eat has to be a winner!

With great fanfare (i.e. me standing close with the digicam), we presented the Frog with his first food offering: banana a la net.  He certainly approached this new food-intake method with great enthusiasm.  He grabbed the little dummy and sucked and chomped at it vigorously.  After a while he even stopped sucking at the handle to try the food end. Bingo!

We used this system for a few days, and began to notice some down sides.  Firstly, it takes 2 seconds to stick food in the little net.  It takes 40 minutes of scrubbing with a toothbrush to clean it.  Secondly:
Yeah.  At the end of a food session it's an odd's on bet that the Frog has managed to coat more of his outside with contents of the net than his inside.   Ah well, but he enjoys it. 

Then, I thought for breakfast, I'd try spoon-feeding him some rice cereal mashed with fruit.  The result:
I guess I'd neglected to consider that I needed to run the spoon past the gauntlet of his very grabby hands.  Short of a straight-jacket though, I'm not sure what to do about those.   Our current tactic is to strip him down to his nappy for feeds, then hose him off afterwards.  I can recommend the jet-spray nozzle setting.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Waxing Lyrical on Weaning

As of about the 5-month mark, I decided to complete the weaning process.  No more boob feeds at all.  It was just more trouble than it was worth - turning each feed into a half hour marathon of wrestling him into place for the skerrick of milk I could produce, followed by his sighs of contentment as he finally saw the bottle heading his way.

I guess I didn't think that it would be much of a wrench for me, given how little breast feeding I was doing towards the end there.  But I was wrong.  Definitely had withdrawal symptoms after I made the choice. And no, nothing physical - just a little feeling of loss, as I gave up my one unique baby-mum bond, in a process of letting go that will continue throughout his life. With a modicum of grace on my part, I hope!

On other topics, this last week has been incredibly busy with Frog developments - I think I'd gotten used to the stasis we'd found ourselves in - not quite rolling, and certainly not heading towards any kind of locomotion.  But all of a sudden, as of the last week or so, something has clicked in the wee Frog's head.  He's realised that he can use this peculiar 'rolling' thing to edge himself closer to a desirable toy.  And I even got up this morning to find that he'd completely turned over in his cot, and there's nothing of any interest in there at all!

He's also getting much better at sitting - he can sit unsupported for quite long stretches of time.   It's only when he sees an out-of-reach toy that problems arise.  You can see he wants the toy, but he doesn't want to lose his perch, so he woggles his arms about, watching the toy intently (I suppose he's trying to use the Force or something), and when that doesn't result in anything much, he'll start gingerly creeping one hand towards the object of desire.  Mostly this results in an imbalance, and over he'll go (hopefully landing within reach of said toy).  At other times, he manages to snag the toy and retain his seat, and he looks VERY pleased with himself, chomping away on his prize from his lofty height.  Snufkin pointed out that he sits with a very straight back - like a yoga master.  Hubs added that if that was the case, the yoga master had had one too many.

Last note - standing. He somehow worked out how to lock his legs when bounced on his feet.  With a lot of these things, I wonder how much of the development would happen anyway, no matter what you did, or whether our actions and play facilitate the sitting/standing developments?    Anyway, he's a far cry from cruising, but it's very weird to see him standing, propped against the sofa.  I'm so used to him being horizontal, that seeing him in any other orientation is unnatural!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Well-Balanced Diets

So, I think in the footnote of some previous post, I mentioned "scloop" - basically the nice runny texture of par-cooked cake.  Anyway, it was Hubs' b'day not too long ago, and he made a request for the scloop cake.

If you're the type of person who can't resist taking gobs of batter from the cake-bowl, then scloop cake is most definitely for you!  I can't decide whether it's better fresh from the oven (warm and runny scloop), or after a bit of refrigeration (scloop has settled to a solid fudge-like consistency).

Did I mention that I finally capitulated and bought a couple of pairs of pants 3 sizes larger than my pre-pregnancy ones? Do I think that consuming vast quantities of scloop is going to help matters?

Anyway, I can't remember the origin of the recipe - one of those "100 Awesome Chocolate Things to Make You Fat!" cookbooks.  And it probably had a nicer name than 'Scloop Cake' - but I present it to you here, for you to replicate.  May the scloop be with you.

200g dark cooking chocolate
185g butter/margarine
4 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
2 cups self-raising flour


Preheat Oven: 190-200 degrees C
1. Melt butter and chocolate together, and mix till satiny smooth. (if you can stop yourself from tasting this concoction, you're a better person than me!)
2. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and sugar till light and foamy.
3. Mix chocolate and eggs together
4. Fold in the flour.
5. Stick in the oven for between 15 and 20 mins.  The scloop cake in the pic was cooked for 16 mins, and I reckon it's probably a touch underdone, but you do NOT want to over-cook this baby - because the well-cooked cakey bits are not very exciting as far as chocolate cake goes.  It really is all about the inside.
6. Let sit for a little while before you try to cut it.  Success is signalled by your cake 'slice' melting before you can transfer it to a bowl.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Inscrutable... ?

It would be wrong to say that the Frog doesn't have a range of facial expressions - he has several.  It's just that mostly they're quite visceral.  And by that, I DO mean linked to his digestion: either unimpressed with input strategies, or disturbed by the output processes. And of course he has his blinding smiles.

But for the rest of the time, he's really a fairly earnest little soul, not given to wearing his emotions on his sleeve.  Or so I thought.  In fact, if you know how to read the Frog, it's all fairly easy.

Below is a fairly accurate representation of the facial expression of an unstimulated Frog.



And here's what happens when the Frog sees something he likes...


















It's subtle, I know - but to the trained Frog-observing eye, the difference is quite noticeable!

Do you think he's warm enough?

You know you're really embracing motherhood when you find yourself asking two questions continuously:

Has he had enough to eat?

Is he warm enough?

And it doesn't matter whether he's leaking formula at the ears, or if he's so well-layered that he's incapable of bending at any of his joints.  The questions ALWAYS apply.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Ooh! Genuine Milestone!

We interrupt our normal broadcasting to bring you a quick update:

Today, the Frog managed a back-to-front roll for the first time!  At 5 months and 2 days!  I'm very excited, as you may (or may not) be able to tell.   I suppose I could use more exclamation marks?!!!!

The toy that enticed the Frog to make his back-to-front 180 was a small two-dimensional fabric duck (popped off his chew-able farm animals book).  He's always had a bit of a thing for that duck, and today he proved his love in a heroic and manly fashion.

That's all.

GENTLY!!

Today's post was inspired by the rather brilliant illustrations (and amusing posts) to be found at Hyperbole and a Half (if you haven't met it, it's worth a look :) )

A friend popped around the other day with their 1 year old.  The baby was most definitely mobile, and our house is most definitely not child-proof.  The result was that the parent followed their child about the place, constantly admonishing them "Gently, gently now, darling.  Gentle please..", while I looked on nervously.  I know at some point The Frog is going to work out locomotion, but right now the only thing he is doing with his feet is attempting to eat them, a fact for which I'm sincerely grateful!



Anyway, that afternoon made me ponder what we're in for, the day The Frog gets it into his head that he can take control of his own movement...







Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tag and Release

I'm lucky in that both Hubs and I are work-from-homers, which means that we both share the burden joy of Frog care.  I've only had him all to myself a few times, and boy, have I developed the UTMOST respect for people who do it all day, every day.  For people who have more than one.  And for people who are doing it solo.  You guys are super-human!

So, I know I'm lucky.  But that's just the preface.  I'm going to whinge now about just how unfair the male/female divide is when it comes to baby-care.

When Hubs has Frog Duty, he marches off to the nearest cafe, installs himself in his favourite seat, and reads various e-journals and papers while the Frog naps in his pack.  He may even do a bottle feed at some point during their outing.  Then perhaps dandle the little fella on his knee, letting him amuse himself with the toy-of-the-day while he goes back to reading.   And do you know what?  Women flock to him.  Chicks fall over themselves to coo over the delightful Frog (yes, alright, well he IS delightful, I have to give them that).  But more than that, Hubs has been told more than once that he's doing the parenting the Right Way.  After many such encounters, he decided to start a 'tag and release' scheme, so he can keep track of which women have already been sucked in by the heady combination of baby plus male care-giver.

I also sometimes go out and about with the Frog in his pack.  Just him and me together off to the shops or out for a walk.  Do people stop me in the street to tell me what a gorgeous baby I have?  Why no!  Do people smile and make silly chit-chat at my boy as he boggles from his pack?  Absolutely not!  Do I get disapproving looks when I not only crack out the formula bottle, but also feed him when he's sitting in his pack?  Indeed I do!  I'm sure there are plenty of reasons for the asymmetry of responses, but I do think sometimes that guys have it good.

And if any of them follow Hubs home, NO, he does NOT get to keep them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Things that make you go HeeHeeHeeHaaHaaHaa

Well, it's sneezes that do it for the Frog



My poor allergy-prone cousin came around the other day, and shortly after stepping through the door was beset by sneezing (I was going to write "beset with sneezes", but that just conjured up an image of a gang of sneezes roaming the hallways and attacking the house-guests with coshes).  Anyway, the Frog thought that the Great Sneezing Show was entirely for his amusement, and laughed uproariously after each sneeze.  And in fact, it was so hilarious, that he broke his own '3 strikes' rule (i.e. if a thing's worth laughing at, it's only worth laughing at 3 times).  He was even prepared to laugh at the fake sneezes Hubs and I performed with varying degrees of pantomime theatrics.  I think he likes the sound more than anything else (he couldn't see my cousin during the genuine sneezing episode, and he still thought it was pretty darn funny).  I've also noticed that he likes fricatives, like 'sssss' and 'zzzzzz' ("zipper" is a word I can say to make him smile).  Oh, and of course "shhh" and "zhhh".   So perhaps it's no great surprise that the sound of a sneeze appeals to him:  Aaaaa-CHHOOO!

At least he'll be entertained when flu season rocks around.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Food, Glorious Fooooood!



Ha.  No, don't worry, nothing I've cooked recently.

Instead, it's News for the Day!

The Frog has had his first official taste of solids.  Hubs had polished off most of his apple, and proffered the chunky core to the Frog, who had spent the entire evening filling his mouth with a whole range of unappetising objects.  He pulled the apple to his mouth with the same enthusiasm he'd had for virtually everything else, but once he'd got it in - holy smokes! taste explosm!  He drowned the apple with dribble, and mumbled it about with such enthusiasm that Hubs decided he wasn't hungry enough to take the last couple of bites after all.

And he cried when we took it away - though fortunately he was placated with some formula soon after, ending my brief nightmare scenario of having to put him to bed with interminable spoonfuls of mushy apple.

However - mushy apple may be a thing of the past, anyway.  I'm not sure if you've heard of baby-lead weaning, but it's been promoted around here as the latest way to start your child on solids.  At just under 5 months, and needing a lot of help just to sit, I won't say the Frog is ready to do more than lick at something for its taste, but from the information I've been given this is pretty much the way it works.  Babies start by just licking and sucking and tasting, and actually ingesting very little.  As their digestive tract matures (including their ability to chew, and move food from the front to the back of their mouth), they take in more and more of the food they're given, until they're firmly on solids.  I suppose with this method you have a lot of wastage (unless you're happy eating up all the half sucked broccoli florets and mushy well-gummed carrot fingers), but you're also saving a lot of effort by not having to puree all foods to a fine mush before spooning it in.   Apparently there's also no more danger of babies choking when fed this way than when fed mushy foods, provided:

  1. you let them feed themselves, and 
  2. you don't give them anything silly, like peanuts.


That said, I have gone and done a baby CPR course, with a side-focus on choking - just to be on the safe side.  It wasn't bad - though there's a deal of difference between man-handling a half-kilo 'choking' baby dummy and a 7 kg wriggling critter  (no, I didn't practice back-strikes or chest compressions on the Frog, though he watched me gleefully as I pounded on the dummy to clear its airway).

Things to take home from CPR: the chest compression component should be done at about 100 compressions/minute.  Apparently this is about the same beat you get in  "Stayin' Alive" by the BeeGees.  Which is fine, except when you get so caught up in the chorus you forget to count and miss the breathing part entirely.  Dang.  Now I have that song in my head ...  

haa haa haa haa stayin' alive, stayin' alive ...   

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Routine Roulette

Newsflash!  Yesterday, the Frog managed to cram a foot into his mouth!  Yup, all five toes in and accounted for (once they were back out).  From the muffled grunts he was making, I deduced he was satisfied with the day's work.  Rolling, schmolling.  Who cares when you have the best toys in the world at the end of your legs!

As for today's topic - I'm not really a routine-based person, but after getting to know the Frog, I've found that having some kind of structure to my day is virtually the only way I'll get *anything* done, besides just being entirely Frog-attentive.  And while this all very nice, it can get just a mite maddening when all you do is feed, soothe, change nappies, and make gibbly gabbly noises in the hope of eliciting a laugh.  So, I have started imposing little routines here and there.  It's nice to have a goal to aim for in life, after all.

This is my morning routine:

  1. Rise between 6:30 and 7:00am (depending on the volume and tone of Frog-warbling coming from the monitor).
  2. Make bottle. 
  3. Go lift out Frog, and get treated to happy squeal and big open-mouthed grin (awww, I forgive you for waking me up at an ungodly hour ... again) 
  4. Spend about an hour feeding him.  I usually attempt a boob feed first thing in the morning and last thing at night, if at no other times.  If he's really hungry though, any attempt to stick him on the boob just elicits frantic kicks and screeching.  And then, of course, as soon as I shove the bottle into his mouth, he decides he's not really hungry after all, and spends the next little while poking his tongue out around the teat, and gurgling quietly (but happily) as he ingests formula at a rate of 1ml/10 mins.
  5. Nappy change time! And usually I'll change him out of his PJs at this point as well.  I select his daily outfit with a lot more care than mine - but then, his clothes are also much nicer than mine.  He's not very cooperative with nappy or clothes changes at the moment.  It's like wrestling an octopus on speed.  I'm hoping it's a phase.
  6. By this time it's usually about 8:30, and I'm dying for my morning cuppa, and a hot shower.  Since I can't really rely on Hubs to leap from bed at this time, ready and raring to take over Frog duty, I usually just stick him in his bouncy chair (Frog, not Hubs), and haul him around with me for the rest of the morning.  So he hangs out in the bathroom while I wash, then comes to the kitchen while I make that ESSENTIAL first coffee.  Then sits in a sunny patch (when available) in the dining room while I ingest said beverage, along with any breakfast I've made, and finally ...
  7. Reading time!  Well, I read my book, and he chews on his, but sometimes I'll haul him onto my lap, and we'll look at some pictures in one or the other of his books.  
  8. Last thing before he's handed over to his dad is the remainder of his bottle that he spurned in point 4. This of course has the added entertainment value (for me) of increasing the chances of blappage* when his dad gets him into the pack.  Look, I have to take my fun where I find it, alright?

As for the rest of the day and routine?  I wish.  I'm just starting to try and get more concrete nap times and feeding times, in the hopes that when he's neither eating nor sleeping, the Frog will be entertained enough watching me weed or sweep or do any of a number of small chores that aren't going to do themselves, you know.

And on a totally unrelated note.  And to make this post ginormous, I thought I'd add in some food stuff.  I've been keen to eat a few more veggie meals a week, and we have a pretty neat cookbook which has removed meat without removing the fun from food.

This was tonight's menu:  Mushroom and Asparagus Pie from the wonderful 'How to Cook Everything Vegetarian' by Mark Bittman

Very easy to make, even for someone who was the sole carer of the Frog ALL DAY, WITHOUT A BREAK (feeling sorry for myself? Yeah, a bit).

Ingredients:
1.5-2 punnets of mushrooms (I used swiss brown), sliced
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt & pepper
1 bunch asparagus, lightly steamed and chopped
1 cup grated cheese (recipe called for provolone, but we didn't have, so I used edam)
Around 12 fresh basil leaves
pastry (recipe called for filo, but I couldn't be bothered and just used puff, but I'm sure you could also make your own if you had time to kill).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Stick some oil/butter (as much as matches your diet plan) into a frying pan and heat
Chuck in mushrooms, and let sizzle a little while, then add crushed garlic.
Add salt and pepper to taste
When mushrooms are tender, take off heat, and when a bit cool, stir in asparagus, cheese (errr... diet?), and basil
Create your pastry shell how you like it (I just lined my pie dish with puff pastry, poured the mushroom mix in, and capped it off with another sheet).
Stick in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, till pastry looks good enough to ... well ... eat.

This was actually very quick and easy to make - and yummy to boot - and I'm keen to find more recipes of a similar ilk.  Anything that works, I'll post.  Also anything that flops spectacularly.



* Blappage (n) the milky vomit emitted by our Frog. Can be curdled or fresh.  Also verb form "to blap" as in "He just blapped all over my jacket, my t-shirt, down his pants leg, and people are giving me disgusted looks!"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

And Life Goes On

The Frog's quest to get one (or both) of his feet to his laboratory continues.  He's managed to haul them up to the entrance a couple of times - but they inevitably balk at the prospect of being subjected to 'procedures', and rush off every time to a safe distance.

His vocalisations have been coming on apace.  He's finished experimenting with squealing, and appears to have assigned it mostly to the category 'Noises of Displeasure'.  And when His Nibs is displeased, BOY does he tell us.  It's only been a couple of days and I already miss the kind of low-key grizzle he used to produce when things weren't quite right.

Looking back at old videos of him, I'm amazed at how much he's changed.  And here I am trying to catch and catalogue everything - but I still miss so much.  I think it's all the very gradual changes that slip past.  I know I managed to make a comment about him being 'grabby' in an earlier post - but that doesn't really capture his ever-so-gradual increasing hand control.  Being as explicit as I can - at just over 4 months, he can reach out fairly accurately for things in front of him.  He'll reach out with both hands, or just one.   When he grasps, it's mostly his four fingers which wrap around the object - the thumb is sometimes involved as the opposing digit, but more often than not he keeps it pinned to the side of his hand.  His grasping is also a little exploratory - he'll maybe bat at something first, then kind of stroke it with his palm, curling his fingers around the object a bit, before he decides that he actually wants to hold it.  That said, there's been many a time when I've held something out to him, and bam, he grabs it from me right away.  And he's quite happy to drop things that bore him.  I hope we're not already starting that game of "Frog drops, and mummy/daddy pick up!".  I tend to chain toys to his bouncy chair with plastic links, so that they can't go very far.

I am determined to try to make the Frog some toys.  I have a couple of ideas in mind, and a like-minded mother (in keeping with blogger anonymity, let us call her, say, Snufkin) has also been interested.  I suspect there may be a pooling of resources and time at some point: "Here, I'll watch the Frogs for 2 minutes, while you frantically edge that bit of blanket!".  If I/we ever do manage to make something worthy of bloggery, no doubt I'll post some pictures - as a reminder of how (or how NOT in the case of meringues) to do things.  I think Op-Shopping is about to become my new hobby.  What a good thing we have so much storage space (shhhhh, don't mention it to Hubs!).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sad Thoughts..

I just heard today that a friend and colleague jumped to his death.  On the tail of that news, I also found out that he suffered from depression.  I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise, but he always seemed like a very with it guy - very health conscious, very sporty, surrounded by friends.  I knew he'd had a sick mother that he needed to look after from time to time, and I can't help but wonder how it is for her, getting this news about her son.

But him.  What makes someone stand on the edge, and look into that foaming abyss, and think "whatever's down there has to be better than what I have here.."?  I suspect that a lack of perspective is often involved.  

And I look at my son, sleeping next to me on the sofa (and yes, it took about 2 hours of grizzling for him to reach this blissful state of unconsciousness), and I hope that he'll never be drawn to that edge.

Oh well.

Adios Amigo.  Sleep well, now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cause and Effect

Today the Frog made a bit of a breakthrough.  I think he's realised that he can have some impact on the world around him (besides driving his parents to distraction).   There's a little panel in his jungle-gym which plays a few seconds of silly sounds when it's walloped in the right way.  We've hit it a few times to get his attention, but up till now he's been fairly uninterested in taking it any further.    Today, however, I stuck him in while I folded laundry, and suddenly, I heard the sound-board go, and go again, and again!  And the whole thing was accompanied by energetic kicking and twisting and loud squealing, as the Frog worked out that HE could make the sound play!




I've decided to call the Frog's mouth his laboratory, because everything has to go in there for detailed analysis.  He seems to come to one of two conclusions: edible, or not edible - though sometimes an item requires repeated trials in order for him to reach that result (my knuckles, his hands, his toy cat's ear, and so on).





I've finally reconciled myself to his hair loss - his lovely mop is almost all gone, except for a stripe right on top, which is long and sticks straight up, making him look somewhat like a demented cockatoo.  The similarity is helped along by some of the screeching noises he sees fit to produce.

In terms of rolling, he's never really reproduced his tummy-to-back rolls, except in the purely accidental sense, but he *does* appear to be getting the gist of rolling on to his side from his back.  It happens more when his legs are weighted with something, like his bath towel or sleeping sack - he kicks his legs into the air, then the weight of the material tilts him to one side or another.  I have seem him do the roll unassisted, but he has to be pretty motivated to make the effort.  The sound board in his jungle gym seems to be one thing that gets him onto his side!
He's also recently just started enjoying sitting up.  He can't manage it on his own, but he likes to be pulled up to sit by his arms.  I remember when I started doing this a couple of weeks ago, his arms would be dead straight and kind of limp when I pulled him up - I felt like they were going to pop off his shoulders, and I'd be left holding these two little noodles while his torso spurted in grotesque Monty Python Black Knight fashion.  Fortunately they seemed pretty firmly anchored, and now when I pull him to sit, he can actually bend his arms and help pull his torso upright.  Not long till we can stick him in a high chair - woo!


Finally, the last few days have seen me getting a little less sleep - I'm not sure why, because the Frog is still being very good at kipping during the night, but I think I haven't had my afternoon/evening naps.  It's not a big deal, and I only mention it as I found myself filling the coffee plunger with heaped teaspoons of formula this morning.  I caught myself before I poured the water in, but it would have made an interesting start to the morning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Meringue Update: Fail!

So 12 hours later, I checked on the meringues.  Still bendy and very tacky.  I decided to inch the oven temperature up by 10 degrees or so, and shut the oven door to speed things up a little, while we trotted off with the Frog for a lovely breakfast one suburb away.  Couple of hours later, still no noticeable change.  No matter, I'm patient.  I spent the day alternately working, and playing with the Frog in the garden.


Eventually after nearly 24 hours of desiccation, Hubs says he needs to use the oven, so I tell him to go ahead and turn the oven up - and just take the meringues out before they brown. He said that he'd just take one out now and see how it was (he'd been bothering me all day to try one).  10 minutes later he was back, with the one he'd snatched - and lo, it was crunchy!  He'd done what I had completely omitted to do, and left it to cool a few minutes on the counter.  *sigh*   By the time he went back to check on the remainder, they had all turned a nice dark beige.  And now looked exactly like little dog presents.  If you were being kind, you could say that they tasted like caramel.  Or if you were accurate: burnt sugar.

Oh well, at least they were all crunchy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Addendum

I neglected to mention - the Frog's new interest in items below the belt now makes nappy changing even more fraught.  On his last change for the night, not only did I have energetically pumping legs and the leaky hosepipe to deal with, but he'd keep reaching down (I suspect for those darn feet), and grabbing whatever he could (bit of nappy, hem of pyjama), and pulling it up to his mouth.  I'm not relishing having to fight off both legs AND arms on his next soiled nappy. Oh no I'm not!

Finding his Feet

Yes, the Frog has discovered his lower appendages.  He caught sight of them woggling about, and simply had to investigate further.  In his case, further analysis of anything involves sticking it in his mouth.  With great determination, and quite a bit of red-faced huffing and stretching, he managed to grip one foot with both hands, but it wouldn't cooperate, and kept kicking away before he could get it to his mouth.  I guess the Complete Foot Investigation will have to keep.

In the last couple of days, he's also started squealing.  He starts at such a high pitch it bothers the dogs next door, and ends with a kind of creaky voice (which I figure is about as low as he can go).  And he's loud.  I wonder if this is the very beginning of experimenting with intonation - exaggerated variations in pitch and loudness as the very first deliberate imitations of the speech sounds he hears.  I wonder, indeed.

On a completely different note, after Hubs made a meal the other night, we had about a gazillion left-over egg-whites, which he was about to chuck.  I rescued them with a well-placed tupperware container, and decided to try to turn them into the only thing I could think of off the top of my head: meringue.  Okay, so not exactly healthy, but hey.  Well, the gist of a meringue seems pretty simple: beat egg whites, and keep adding sugar until the whites have about doubled in volume, and are pretty firm.  Oh, and a bit of vanilla.  I was just going to splodge them onto baking trays with a spoon, but the Frog was being such a good lad - sitting in his bouncy chair and quietly gnawing on the ear of his toy cat - that I thought I'd try piping.  I don't have an icing bag, so just improvised with a plastic bag with a corner cut off, which seemed to work as well.  The piped end results looked a little like anaemic dog turds. 

Ah well, as a new mother, I'm a natural coprophile, right?  So here's something I didn't know about meringues.  Apparently you dry them out in the oven, rather than baking them.  So, my oven's sitting on the lowest heat setting with the door open with rows of little white coils slowly desiccating inside.  Tomorrow's the test.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grooming Instincts

So here's something new. I've never been much of a groomer.  I've never felt compelled to sit my loved one down, and examine him carefully for lice or ingrown hairs.  I'm not even very good at telling someone they've got spinach between their teeth (when IS the socially acceptable moment for that, anyway? Do you interrupt them mid-conversation? Wait for a private moment?).  Heck, even my personal grooming could use a bit of work.  But I digress...

Fact is, since I've had the Frog around, I find myself getting in touch with my inner ape.  Every time he's sat down in my lap for a feed, I'll find myself closely examining him, and pulling things off him that definitely Don't Belong (don't worry, though, I don't eat any of them).   I've cleaned out his ears, his nose, and his eyes.  I go over his scalp when there's nothing good on telly. 

I just hope I'll be able to get myself under control before he starts high school.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Packing it in..

Quite a while ago, I was listening to a podcast which had absolutely nothing to do with babies, and the presenter was mentioning how when he went out with his infant son, he never saw the necessity of burdening himself with reams of baby gear.  He didn't have a stroller or a nappy-bag.  He didn't tote about 5 changes of clothes.  He didn't have an action plan, should a massive poonami* occur.   And I confess that this is one of the things that has freaked me a bit about mum-hood.  All the bleedin' clobber! I usually don't carry anything out of the house that doesn't fit in my pockets (phone, check; wallet, check; keys, check; ipod, check!).  This means that I tend to select clothes for their pocketiness, and nothing annoys me more than the faux pockets they like to stick on women's clothes, because heaven forbid you might actually want to USE them, and ruin the line of your pants.  Sheesh.

Anyway, I figured, if this guy could travel light, then I could too!  We researched a bit, and ended up choosing the Ergo Baby Carrier. It seems pretty versatile: can carry babies and toddlers up to 18kg (and I'm thinking that well before he reaches this weight, I'll be encouraging the Frog to start hopping under his own steam); can be used as a front, hip and back pack; has a handy pouch (yay! more pockets!).  What more could you want in a baby-pack?

Here's the Frog enjoying being cuddled up in his pack (worn on the front, in case you can't tell)


Now, I've decided that I'm virtually the only parent in this city who wants to travel light.   I've gone to a few parent meetings where you can't make it through the cafe for the crowd of strollers, slung about liberally with full-to-bursting nappy-bags.  And there's me with a spare nappy (gah! yes! disposable), a couple of plastic bags, and some wet-wipes in a ziploc baggie all in the pack's pouch.
Apart from a bottle of formula stuffed in my bag and the all-purpose burp cloth, that's really all I need for a 4 hour time-slot.   So why do some parents feel compelled to bring so much stuff?  Maybe the Frog is a wonderful exception in the pooing department, but he's managed to vomit copiously all over himself, and I really can't be bothered to do more than sponge the worst of it off (yay burp cloth!), and leave him to air-dry.

I'm sure the stroller fans have a list of pros for prams (and cons for packs), and I'm not arguing against strollers particularly - but I have been impressed that so far, we seem to be doing pretty well with our pack and minimal gear totage.

* term poo-nami is shamelessly pinched from a mate and co-mum. It conjured up a disgusting vision in my mind, so I felt the need to share.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's almost 15 weeks now, and the Frog is starting to look a little moth-eaten. Yep, despite all our hopes, the lovely mop he was born with doesn't appear to be sticking around.  More and more hair winds up at the head-end of his cot, and less and less is staying on his head.  That said, he still does have a pretty funky mohawk hairdo, so, let's see.

Other milestones? I collected the very first clump of lint from his belly button.  I suppose I should have bronzed it for posterity, but I don't imagine he'd thank me if I presented it to him with great fanfare on his 21st birthday.

He's managed to roll over front-to-back once more, but just another accident. He was squirming forward on his tummy trying to reach a toy I'd stuck in front of him, and managed to get one arm lodged in an uncomfortable position - pointing out in front of him, and sort of diagonally.  He gave a particularly vigorous wriggle, and with no arm to support him on that side, the balance was tipped and over he went! He seemed quite non-plussed to find himself staring at the ceiling when only a moment ago he'd been tantalisingly within reach of a plush toy.

He's been very grabby for the last week or so. Anything within reach: toys; bottle; lips; hair; ears.  Nothing is safe.  It can be a little infuriating when I'm trying to feed him, as he likes to grab the teat of the bottle and then try to jam it (or more usually his fist) into his mouth.  And it becomes problematic for him when his hands find each other.  They latch together with great enthusiasm, and have trouble letting go again.  Velcro has nothing on him.  On the rare occasions when he simply tangles them together (rather than getting stuck), he looks like a small Bond villain plotting the downfall of our hero.  Preferably involving sharks. And lasers.

The only other new development has been the chewing of his lower lip. Well, perhaps the 'gumming' of his lower lip is a more accurate term.  I have no idea what's started this off, but he sucks it into his mouth and then drools copiously. I suppose it's really time to think about bibs.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oral Fixations

I would have titled this post 'Nipple Confusion', except that I think there's already a similar title.

Anyway, this is just a quick one.  I noticed today that the Frog has a very intense oral relationship with some of his toys.  And no, I don't mean he talks to them.  Anyway, after a close look at the head of his toy cat (yes, it *is* a cat), I think I can see why the cat's nose was so very soggy when he was done with it...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Roly-poly!

So, on the actual 3rd month anniversary, the Frog gave me a little surprise and performed his first front-to-back roll.  Entirely unintentional on his part, so it'll be interesting to see when he actually makes the connection and starts rolling with intent.

Also, as an aside, I was watching this afternoon as Hubs and the Frog played together, and there's a definite pattern to the interaction.  At the start of the game, the Frog looks slightly bemused.  As the pattern of repetition becomes apparent, the Frog starts hyperventilating in anticipatory excitement.  Finally, he'll start laughing at each game 'climax' (be it having a raspberry blown into his hand, or his chins tickled, or whatever).  After this point though, he rapidly becomes bored, and stops reacting to the stimulus altogether - so we might get 3 or 4 laughs out of him before habituation kicks in, and we need to find something more interesting for the tyrant's amusement.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nappy Time

So, time to talk nappies.  Hey, you knew it was coming - I mean new mums only talk about baby poo, baby vomit, and the various methods of dealing with those outputs, right?

I was pretty determined to give cloth a go, since I knew that cloth nappies had come a long way from the days of terry-cloth squares.  It wasn't too hard to convince Hubs, particularly after an obliging sales-girl showed us how she changed her 8-month old baby who was in cloth.  (Given what I now know, I realise that Hubs dealt amazingly well with the sight of baby poo, though he wasn't the one who had to clean it up at the time).

When we started looking, we were faced with a barrage of terms which meant NOTHING to us: pre-folds, all-in-ones, pocket nappies, fitted nappies, inners, boosters, liners ..  and heck, we nearly gave up then and there!  Fortunately, Hubs is a research guru, and hit the forums like a pro.  Also, we trawled the selection at the local shops, and again and again had 'Real Nappies' promoted as a great brand.   The forums didn't agree with this, though, so we decided to try 3 different products and styles:

A sized pre-fold (Real Nappies)
A one-size pocket nappy (Happy Heinys)
A one-size all-in-one (Kissaluvs)

To help you out here, some explanation:

Sized nappies are just what they sound like - they come in different sizes from newborn through to toddlers.  I believe that these give a better fit when your baby is at one extreme end of the scale or the other.  One-size nappies usually have snaps at the front which you can clip together to shorten the nappy for smaller babies, or unsnap for a longer nappy for bigger kiddies.  The general idea is that they should last you from birth to potty - in my experience though, they're a bit too big for a newborn.  We seriously started on cloth when The Frog was about 9 weeks old.

With pre-folds, you get a rectangle of absorbent material on which to work your origami mastery - different folds for newborns, little boys and little girls.  The idea is that you wrap your infant's loins in your masterpiece, hold it together with a little plastic grabby thing (no more pins!), and then you get a waterproof cover with velcro tabs as a final touch, to keep everything (especially infant ouput) in place.

With pocket nappies, there are also 2 components - the inner (the strip of material that does the work of absorbing all your baby's leaky goodness), and the outer - which is the 'pocket', the inside of which is a very soft fleecy material that sits against the baby's bum, and the outside of which is the waterproof cover.  So you just stuff the inner into the outer, and hey presto, you're away!

Lastly, all-in-ones are very much like a pocket nappy except that the inner is sewn into the outer at one end - so you can pull it out like a long fluffy white tongue (eurrgh), but it stays attached.  The pocket nappy and the all-in-one were also both fitted, which means that they look and work pretty much like a disposable nappy, with elasticated legs and velcro or snap tabs - no folding required!

Oh, and one more thing - flushable liners - a little papery sheet that you stick on top of the nappy (i.e. next to baby's skin) which catches the solid waste, and lets the liquid through.  These are *awesome*.

So!  The findings?  I didn't give the Real Nappies much of a go, I admit, but I didn't really like them.  They felt so bulky, and the prefold inners were so thick when folded, that I felt I was crushing the Frog's poor little man bits.  It's not that he complained, I just didn't feel comfortable with it.  Maybe with a few more washes, the absorbent material would have softened, but I've been using them to dry him off during changes, and they've seen a few washes and haven't softened appreciably, so I'm not convinced.  That, and they were just a bit of a faff to put on - either you wrap up the baby bum twice, with the inner then the outer covering, or you build them in a little stack: outer topped with inner, topped with liner, and hope it all stays together while your bundle of joy kicks his legs about energetically.  So nix to those.  Though I will say that the Real Nappy flushable liners are great.

The pocket nappies and the all-in-ones were much of a muchness in terms of their ease of use, and quite frankly, I'm impressed at how easy these thing are to use - scarcely more work than disposables.  BUT, I found the Kissaluvs to be much more absorbent and less prone to leaking than the Happy Heinys.  Additionally, you can order factory seconds from the Kissaluv site which are almost a third the price of a new Happy Heiny.  So, I'm guessing that with Happy Heinys you pay a premium for their range of exotic prints.  But come on, folks - this is an item that is regularly pissed and crapped on, so I reckon The Frog looks just fine in his choc-and-pink Kissas.  The absolute clincher is that so far, I've also been able to have the Frog in cloth overnight.  So many people have said "cloth during the day, disposable at night", but I put a booster (another absorbent inner) in his Kissaluv, and I haven't had a leakage problem yet, despite the very heavy nappies I change him out of in the morning.

Just to add a non-nappy-spruik, I surprised myself at how un-icked I was by the whole effluent thing.  One of the few benefits of formula feeding is predictable, not-too-frequent, not-too-runny poos.  The Frog is a once-every-two-days man, and I'm getting pretty good at picking the nappy that needs a liner in it.  Despite this, I've had a couple of sneaky poos from the Frog where I've neglected to line his nappy.  In these cases, I like to get rid of most of the solid gack and rinse it before I chuck it in the wash, but it's really not that big of a deal (no matter how much retching and gagging Hubs does when he's confronted with a pooey nappy), it really isn't.

And best yet, even though we haven't gone the cheapest nappies on the market, this system has cost me far less than 2 years worth of disposables. I have nappies that should last the Frog all the way to the potty, and I can sell them on to recoup a little of the cost, should I want to (yup, internet trading sites are rife with second-hand nappies, as these things are so pricey!).  So even if you don't give a rats about benefits to the environment (which should be apparent), think of your hip pocket and check out just how far cloth has come!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Three Months In

It's weird to think that at this point, the Frog has spent a third as much time outside the womb as he's spent inside. 

So, to celebrate this 1/3rd anniversary, I thought I'd jot down some milestones (not necessarily the ones dictated by the Powers That Be).

I got my first genuine laugh today.  He's been doing a lot of open mouthed smiling, sometimes with accompanying hyperventilation (I know, it sounds a lot like a laugh, but the Frog hyperventilates whenever he's excited so it was hard to tell the difference).  Anyway, today it was a real little chortle when I blew a raspberry into his hand, which he repeated when I did it again, and again, and again ..  and then he got bored with that game.  Still - I was almost as excited as he was, and willing to repeat the same inane action ad nauseum.  I sense that my future is going to hold a lot of this kind of activity. 

The Frog is still grabbing at stuff, but he seems to restrict a lot of his activity to his right hand.  He often holds it stiffly out in front of him, like a wee fascist dictator (actually, that's not far from the mark).  Much of the time, when he holds his arm out, he's not actually making a grab for anything, but seems to be just admiring his hand.  In fact, he gets quite fascinated, and croons lovingly to it.  Whatever floats your boat, I guess?

The Frog is also quite determined to stuff most things in his mouth.  Trouble is, that he's not totally co-ordinated just yet.  This evening, I gave him a bit of blanket to play with while I changed him, and when I looked up from the business end a little later, I found him gripping the blanket which had tucked up under his arms, while he vigorously sucked on his wrists.  The spirit is certainly willing, if only the flesh would be a bit more obedient!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scattered Thoughts

This is the sort of post that happens when you're trapped under a ravening Frog, with one free hand.

Frog habits:  I've noticed that the Frog likes to tug at his ear or hair when he's feeding.  This happens more at the breast than the bottle.  Fortunately, the ears seem pretty firmly attached, and I haven't noticed any bald-spots on the sides of his head, so it doesn't look like a habit that's doing him any harm.

You know how people say that babies look wise?  I think it's something to do with the fact that without teeth, they look like little old men and women (well, up to a point).  I can't say that I've ever noticed the Frog looking wise exactly, but he has perfected a very disapproving glower.   I'm just waiting for him to tell me to get off his lawn.

The Frog doesn't know what he wants, and neither do I.  We seem to have this ritual, where he grizzles a bit, and I think "Right, food then", and go make him a bottle.  Then when I try to give it to him, he does everything short of walloping me in the face (actually, sometimes he does that, too) to let me know that food is the LAST thing on his mind.  He'll stick the bottle back out with his tongue, cry, give me disgusted looks, screw his face up, etc.  So I put the bottle away, and resort to the pattern of changing his position (gas?), or lying him in the crook of my arm and reciting the Jabberwock (tired?), and while he might burp, fart and close his eyes (sometimes all at once), the crying still goes on, and on ..  and ON.  And he gradually works himself up into this tearful and angry frenzy, little legs pumping away, hands hitting his own face as much as mine.  At this point, usually just with the plan of muffling the noise a bit, I poke the bottle back in, and lo and behold, he latches onto it and tries to inhale most of the contents.  The little face goes from a sort of soggy resentful expression to the cross-eyed milk delirium, and soon after, he's happily nodding off.  I don't see why we can't just skip all that palarva in the middle?

Thinking of sleeping babies...  The Frog laughs, but only in his sleep.  In fact, it's a sure-fire sign of knowing that he's dropped off.  What on earth does he dream about to make him laugh, I wonder?

Bubble-baths.  The Frog makes his own. Tee hee hee.

Baby hallucinations.  I wouldn't have thought I would have had much in the way of them, as I can count the number of times we've co-slept with the Frog on one hand, but I had them pretty continuously until he was maybe 9 weeks old.  By hallucinations, I don't mean that I was plagued by flying green babies during my waking hours, but when I was woken up from sleep, I'd be absolutely convinced that the Frog was in bed with me.  I usually felt that he was lying on my front, and would desperately try to sort through the quilt to find him.  I remember one of the last times I had one of these hallucinations, I was woken by the Frog crying through his baby monitor.  I sat up in bed, and started the ritual of digging through the covers, trying to unwrap and cuddle the non-existent baby, all the while being confused by his nearby crying.  It took me a little while to work out it was the monitor, and a little longer to stop looking, and get up and tend to him.


And my last scattered thought for today: coffee and a hot shower in the morning.  Is there anything they can't fix?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Anti-Ante-Natal

So, I went to one of the post-natal mother's meetings yesterday.  I'd been once before, and should have learned from my first experience.  I'm not sure why I dislike them so much.  I think I'm not very sociable to begin with, so walking into large groups where several conversations are going on at once around the table always stymies me a bit.   The way to 'join in' appears to be to make eye-contact with the speaker, but is that rude? It feels like just butting in, to me.  But the alternative is to sit, either staring at your lap, or off into space and wait to be invited, and that seems even worse.  After joining one conversation or another, I usually find that my attention drifts anyway, as it's hard to hear, what with all the other people jabbering, so I often find myself in the position of listening to one set of people while making intense eye-contact with another, which usually results in problems when the speaker in the second group meets my gaze and asks "So what do you reckon?"

And it's not like anyone talks about anything except their babies and their post-baby bodies (and yes, I acknowledge that this is totally hypocritical, given my main blog topic).  But it is slightly grating to hear mothers complaining about their child's developments with a proud twinkle: "I can't put little Ezekiel down anywhere now, as he's off like a shot".. or "Sophia just loves to stand at only 10 weeks - we've had to move all our breakables up to higher shelves!" .. or "Madison ate two pages of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, we've had to buy a waterproof copy, she loves it so much!"

And I look down at my bobble-headed boy (yes, STILL, at 12 weeks), who has spent the last 15 minutes trying to stuff both hands into his mouth, and has drooled so much that his entire top needs to be wrung out, and don't comment.  I think the most flattering thing anyone had to say about my Frog was that he was very "chilled".  But frankly, I think his fists muffled any crying he may or may not have been doing.  I have these visions of having to come with him to school and stand behind his desk, holding his head up.  Or apologising to the teacher: "He'd be more comfortable just lying on his back - oh, and if you could draw something bright with eyes on the blackboard? I think you'll find it'll hold his attention better..."

That said - at nearly 12 weeks, what Frog achievements do I have to relate?  He certainly appears to actually be grabbing at things more deliberately.  I found one new toy for him which is all wooden rods and beads and elastic, which had me intrigued for about 2 minutes, so I reckon it'll get a few months of attention from him.  It's structured in such a way as to be easy to grab and hold (intentionally or not), and several times the Frog has managed to grip a piece of the elastic, and then not been able to let go.  The result being that he's plagued by a giant colourful conglomeration of wooden rods which keeps swinging up to his face and poking him in the eye while he's trying to eat it.

He's still quite chatty, though not really exploring any new sounds, no matter how much I "ma-ma-maaa" and "bu-bu-buuu" at him.  We had a little exchange yesterday which went along the lines of:

Him: Nguuurrr

Me: Nguuuur!

Him: Nguuuuur

Me: Nguuur!

And so on.  You can see how cerebral we are already.

Anyway, he's just managed to get both hands tangled in the elastic of his new toy, so I'd best go assist before he also loses his legs to it in best Brer Rabbit and tar-baby fashion.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eleventy today!

It's the Frog's eleventh week anniversary, and I may as well give an update.

It seems like the Frog's brain is making all kinds of new connections.  He seems to be much more engaged with his surroundings than he was a couple of weeks ago.  He loves faces, and once his gaze has latched on, it has trouble relinquishing its target.  Like one of those paintings - you know - where the eyes follow you around the room?

He's also starting to enjoy new toys and games.  They don't have to be very exciting toys or games - even a new plush toy will get his interest.  His approach to novel stimuli is fun to watch.  He starts with his hands drawn in, just looking intently.  Then he'll tentatively reach out and bat or grab at whatever has his attention.  His batting gets more vigorous as he gets his confidence up and he works out what happens as a result of his contact (bells, whistles, or merely plush stoicism).

My current game with him is "jelly fish hand".  It's not very gripping: make hand swim like jelly fish, to the accompaniment of 'blup blup' noises.  Once the Frog has his full attention on the jelly fish hand, circle about a couple of turns, then dive down onto the Frog's head, and settle there, pulsating gently and make accompanying slurping noises (this is a baby-brain eating jelly fish).  The Frog is always still and watchful as the jelly fish circles, but starts hyperventilating and kicking as it draws in for the kill.  I suppose, given he can't actually run away from this vicious predator, it must be a bit nerve-wracking for him.  Hmmm.  Perhaps a new game is in order?

Hubs latest discovery with The Frog is that the little guy is starting to explore textures.  Apparently this morning Hubs was wearing a shirt with a bold logo on - the logo was the smooth, shiny surface of some kind of material ink, against the softer, more textured surface of the cloth.  Anyway, the Frog spent a good five minutes, transfixed by the design, and stroking his fingers on the t-shirt, exploring the design, and the peculiar textures.

He's also developing different cries - no, not in the style of "I'm hungry ..waaah!", "I have gas .. waaaah!", "I'm tired..  waaaah!".  Just the distinction between a cry (see before) and a yell.  He hasn't developed the acting ability to fake a cry yet, but he tries, and the result is a cross between a grizzle and his 'chatting' noises.  He tends to make this at about 5:30am when he's woken up and wants some company - or if he's been stuck in his basket when he's alert, and really wants to be in the thick of things.  Either way, we're not fooled into thinking he's really miserable, and these days I don't tend to go into his room until 6:30am at the earliest!  I did feel a bit like a bad mother this morning - he'd been uncharacteristically silent all morning, and eventually with hideous visions of SIDS, I crept into his room at 7:30, to find him lying on his back, eyes wide open, just gazing about at nothing in particular.  He gave me a huge gummy smile when I leaned in to pick him up, and had an awesome play session.  I do wonder if I need to invest in a mobile or give him something else to look at in the mornings - or whether we as modern parents tend to get far too worked up about such things, and he'll be just fine without constant stimulation during his waking hours.  I'm dithering a bit, really.

Monday, August 30, 2010

On Technology and Mortality, oh, and In-Laws

Yes, a scattering of totally unrelated subjects.  At least, I think they're unrelated.

I'll begin at the end of the list, which is to say that the in-laws are here, and so I can dedicate an uninterrupted slot of time to posting. Which hopefully means that I'll make a little more sense than normal.  So, while it's nice that they're here, and very timely too - since both Hubs and I have lots of work on this week - it's very difficult for me to relinquish The Frog to their care. It's not that I don't like them. It's not that I'm concerned about their ability to care for him.  I can't really say it's anything but sheer possessiveness on my part.  But the weird thing is, they are the only people I've felt this with.  I've not had any issue passing The Frog off to my parents, or in small doses, handing him over to relative strangers.  I was trying to work out why giving him over to the in-laws rubs me the wrong way.  I think it might be their own possessiveness of him.  For quite some time, the M-I-L has laid claim to The Frog as "her grandson" - even before he was evicted from his cosy vat.  So perhaps it's just that I feel like snatching him back and asserting that no, actually, he's my son!  Either way, Hubs had absolutely no issue with my family having as much Frog-time as they wanted, so it's very ungenerous of me to deny his parents their fair share.  So I won't.

I'll do mortality bit now, as I'd hate to end on a low note.  The interesting thing here, is that I thought somehow that having a baby would kind of buy me a sense of immortality (at least genetically).  I've cast my DNA forward another generation, hurrah!  Fact is, since having The Frog, I've become much more keenly aware of my own mortality.  I think that when you're childless, you're at the end of this long chain of ancestors.  YOU are the shining end result of all those couplings.  Once you have a child though, you just become another link in the chain, destined to fade into the branches of the family tree.  I do feel a lot more expendable now - I think my 'duty' is to take The Frog safely through to the point where he can be independent, and then my job as a human is done.  I do worry a bit that The Frog will get caught up in existential dilemmas and resent me for bringing him into this world - though I manage to have a few myself and so far haven't got around to blaming my parents for my existence (well, except for those teenage moments, but they don't count - if I had a penny for every time a teenager petulantly shouted "I wish I'd never been born!", I'd be VERY unpopular at the supermarket).

And technology?  Well, Hubs bought himself the latest Jobs gadget - the iPad. And yes, it's a sweet little toy. BUT it's also - interestingly - already a bit of a toy for The Frog.  One of the little apps we downloaded is simply flying coloured pixels which change their speed and direction and clustering behaviours when one or more fingers is placed on or stroked across the screen.  Since The Frog likes watching glowing lights, we set the pad up in front of him, while Hubs played with it.  He watched pretty serenely, and then we moved the pad right up close so he could touch it with his own hands.  I won't say that he totally got the connection - but he hyperventilated in an excited way, as he wiped his hands across the screen and made the little dots zoom about after them.   There's also a small drawing app that we have as well, so The Frog has been able to create his first sketch, without needing to go so far as to be able to grasp a pen.  Like his poetry, it's a little abstract for my tastes, but I'm sure it shows promise.   But, well .. It's things like this that do make me feel that I'm living in The Future.  Cryogenic stasis booths, ahoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Emerging Poet

The Frog has been dictating a few sonnets (or perhaps limericks?) , and he requested that I put at least one out to a wider audience for some constructive criticism.  It's a little avant garde, but please bear with me.

Aggle gghuuurrr
Aggle gghuuurrr
A-bmmmm aaoooo
Aaaoooooohhhaaaauuuooo
Aglluurrrr

I'm not a master of interpreting abstract poetry, but I suspect that somewhere close to the mid-point there was a 'howling at the moon' theme.  Which would fit with his hairy ears - and come to think of it, it was full-moon last night.

Yup, we're past nine weeks now, and he does like to vocalise - but in very definite little spurts.  His Dad is certain that he's attempting to imitate us as we say "Hullo! Hullo there!" with the 'haaaoouuuu' sounds he makes.  And perhaps those sounds are a little bi-syllabic. And maybe they start with a glottal fricative. But at nine weeks, he'd be precocious indeed to even consider such an imitation, I feel!

Milestones?  Lots of eye-contact, and more smiling (although I'm not a big smiler - I'll smile at him, if he's smiling, but otherwise I'm fairly straight-faced, and I wonder if this is the reason we haven't had a huge amount from him).  Also, he really does seem to be deliberately reaching for things that interest him.  He has a colourful little plush dog that rattles and scrunches and tinkles which he seems to quite like.  It also pants and yips when you press its nose, so we do that quite a bit.  He was watching the procedure avidly, then reached out, and batted the dog on the nose.  I couldn't say if that was because he had drawn a connection between the nose-press and the sound, or the nose as a big blue circle stands out against the rest of the yellow muzzle and so attracts his attention, but we'd make it yip every time he touched it, just in case.

Head bobbling is slowly getting better - I'm trying to not support him as much as I can (without being heartless), but really - if a 5-week old baby has better neck control than the Frog at 9 weeks, then he really does need to get on track with those neck work-outs. Resistance is Futile.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Bobble-Headed Monstrosity

The Frog has just passed his 8-week milestone.  Currently he's sleeping in his basket at my feet.  To get him in that state has taken about 1.5 hours of soothing speech, humming the Gilligan's Island and A-Team theme songs, giving up and picking up and rocking while playing ABBA's greatest hits.  I'm currently listening to 'Super Trooper' for the 3rd time, but each time I try to turn the music off, little grunts and twitches start up.  Am I raising a boy who'll be keen for sequins and feather boas when he grows up?

Moving on, I thought I'd review where we're up to with developmental milestones at this point.

Physically, the Frog is slowly gaining strength in his neck.  I have made it my policy - after seeing so many much younger babies with far superior neck control - to be a little less anxious about supporting the Frog's head at all times.  I pick him up under his arms when I get him out of his cot or basket, and apart from curling up like a pill-bug, he doesn't appear to object to this treatment. I still fail when it comes to giving him enough tummy time - I should be turning him over much more, but I just seem to run out of time between feeding, and cleaning, and preparing the next round of bottles, and doing general housework, and going for walks just to get some sanity time etc.  So, he's still a bit of a bobble-head when I sit him upright in my arms.  He does try to keep his head upright - but it's like watching a top start to wobble at the end of its spin: starts with some small dips front, back, around and around .. which become more and more exaggerated as his neck muscles decide to call it quits for the day.  I tend to take pity on him before he looks like he's going to give himself whiplash.

One of his favourite tricks is to wait until I'm gripping him single-handed while I fumble with the other hand for a door handle (or whatever), and then try to throw his head back. It has to be quick work on my part to catch him when he decides on one of these manoeuvres.  In fact, it's much safer - though less comfortable for all involved - to just tuck the blighter under my arm during these moments.  Would at least save me a few cardiac arrhythmias.

Arms and legs are still jerking about a bit spastically.  I assume that he's gradually gaining some control over them, but it's hard to tell.  We stick him in his little jungle-gym from time to time, and while it seems like he's actually batting at some of the toys hanging above him, I'm inclined to feel that much of this is just down to how he's been placed under them at the time. He also has a tendency to straighten his arms and swing them up and down vigorously.  The problem with this is that on the far end of the upswing is his face, which he clobbers with a fair degree of force.  He must wonder what he's done to earn such a walloping.  When he gets tired, the arm-swinging gets more frequent, which makes it very hard for him to get to sleep: "I'm trying! But these pink things keep thumping me in the eyeballs!".  So we resort to wrapping quite a bit.

The Frog is able to track people across a room.  He likes to fixate on one person, and it's often hard to distract his attention.  For example, during bathtime, while Daddy is the one holding the Frog when he's in the water, and I'm the one armed with the wash-cloth, the Frog tends to fixate on me, and go for continuous eye-contact during the whole process.  I'm not sure why.  Is he begging me for release?  He seems to quite enjoy his baths, so I don't think that's it.  His Daddy tried him on a game of peekaboo, and apparently elicited a smile.  I also tried this a little bit today, and got a sort of smile the first time, but I don't think he's got a sense of permanence yet - so when I hide behind something, he's quick to look away - because obviously I've just disappeared - he doesn't much care where to.

It's hard to tell much about the Frog's personality at this point.  He seems to like being around people - it's easier to get him to go to sleep in his basket in company than it is to get him sleeping in his quiet room.   I don't know if he doesn't like his room because he's lonely there, or because of some deep-seated biological concern about the beasts that could be lurking in the long savannah grass, ready to eat him up.  I've checked under his cot, and while there *is* a lion there, it has a tag on it that says 'machine washable', so I think he's probably safe from predators for the moment.

Anyway, I could write more, but from the whimpers and splutters coming from the basket, the Kraken appears to be stirring.  Till next time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rant Time

Alright, this will be brief. Because I know I really shouldn't give credence to bimbettes without two brain cells to rub together, but I have a spleen to vent, and vent I shall.

I have had it up to here with the militant breast-feeding groups.  Frankly, I think the way you choose to feed your child should be a personal choice, and you shouldn't have one method or another forced on you just because of catchy marching slogans like "Breast is Best!".

Now before I really begin - I agree.  I think that breast milk is the best option (for me) on so many levels - it's convenient (no sterilising or purchasing of all the equipment that goes with formula feeds), it's cheap, it's totally nutritious for the baby, and it provides an unparalleled bonding experience for mum and baby.  But despite ALL the sites out there (and yes, there are a lot) which are extraordinarily breast-feeding focussed, and tell you that EVERYONE can breast feed .. well, not everyone can.  And that's the sad fact.

I'm one of these bastards who hate their child who have gone the formula route - I would have loved to have been able to feed The Frog myself, but I just can't produce the milk.  We don't know why exactly, though there are possibly genetic factors (I myself needed formula top-ups in my early life), combined with the fact that The Frog just doesn't produce much in the way of suction, and if he doesn't draw the milk out, the body assumes that milk production isn't really required - and only makes what it thinks is necessary, which isn't enough to keep him from becoming dehydrated.  I know, I've tried.  I have spoken to midwives, lactation consultants, looked online, and pretty much done everything recommended in an attempt to increase my yield.  But alas, I never really produced anything.  The Frog is still given the boob before each formula feed, in the hope that he'll get some benefit, however small, and that my brain will keep sending the signal that yes, milk is required, please!

And THEN, you get complete no-brain idiots like this woman who is using whatever clout she has to campaign for a cause she must have given two minutes thought to. Outlaw bottle-feeding?  So she'd happily watch thousands of babies starve for her ideologies?  So she's anti-chemical, is she?  Well I wonder if she's considered the fact that one of the ways that women can TRY to up their milk supply is by using a chemical: Domperidone, which is now banned for breast-feeding women by the FDA in the United States because there is simply not enough evidence to state that it's safe for infant consumption via the copious breast milk it may (or in my case, may NOT) produce (there's no evidence that it's unsafe either, but I guess these big administrations need to cover their butts, and better safe than sorry).

So the end of my rant is thus:  I would love to be able to give The Frog my milk, and he does get the small amount I have.  But I am fed up of being made to feel like an uncaring mother because I've gone to formula.  So to all you breast-feeding mums for whom it worked:  Congratulations! I salute you! And I envy you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Proto-Babbles

The Frog is at 6 weeks now, and while he hardly has even rudimentary control over his limbs things are starting to change.

Eye contact has been improving over the last couple of weeks.  He can track motion and faces, albeit a little jerkily - his eyes are a little more dexterous than his head, which is dragged reluctantly along after the eyeballs.

He's also begun smiling in the last week or two.  Sometimes his facial expression is a little divided: the bottom half will be a tentative grin, while above it his eyebrows will be drawn together in a distinctly worried expression. I have, however, had a couple of ear-to-ear beams, usually lovingly directed at my hairline, but - eh - you take what you can!

He's also started vocalising a little more - and by that, I mean apart from the constant stream of noise he usually produces.  These new sounds seem to be really for the purpose of the noise itself, rather than a by-product of some other process (usually something to do with digestion).  For reference, I'll catalogue some of his current repertoire:

The Grunt: This is probably one of the most common sounds, made on breathing out.  He's typically awake, fidgety, and very often over-tired.  It's a continual "uh-uh-uh" sound, and as far as I know has absolutely no significance at all, besides indicating some glottal restriction during breathing.

The Moan: This could equally be called the 'Sigh', as that's also what it sort of sounds like sometimes.  Again, made on breathing out, the Frog emits these sounds when he's on the cusp of sleep (either going in or coming out).  It's either the sound that typically keeps hubby awake at night via the baby-intercom, or the sound that reassures me that he's not choking when I'm carrying him in the front pack - Although when he's in the front-pack, he's probably trying to use it to signal to me that I shouldn't bump him about quite so much!

The Roar: Typically found mid-feed.  Easy enough to elicit - just remove him from food-source (boob or bottle), when he's got up a good head of steam.  It's pretty much always accompanied by a bodily motion where he tries to curl up like a pill-bug.  If food is not soon forthcoming, he'll briefly settle before deciding that crying would be a more effective means of re-establishing the Frog-Food connection.

The Hyperventilate:  Often a pre-cursor to crying, but it seems to accompany any sort of agitation, like excitement/anticipation/worry etc.  When it's generated by a negative emotion, it can quickly turn into The Whimper (which is really just the Hyperventilate plus vocalising).  This is the noise which I can't ignore - whereas for hubby, it's the full on crying that's the big tug.  But there's something so desperate about his little high-pitched whimper that I can't just let it go.  Yes, probably bad parenting, but there it is.

The Whoop: Another feeding sound, normally made during bottle feeding when we've mistakenly given him a bottle with a two-hole teat, rather than the single-holed variety.  This is really just him gasping after nearly gargling in formula.

The Proto-Babble: And these are the new sounds - as yet, I haven't noticed too many patterns within the proto-babbles.  He coo-gurgles, I suppose, for want of a better word.  There are no recognisable sounds, but perhaps some of the intonation would be familiar - I'm just not convinced that the intonation is copied from anything he's heard at this point, rather than just being coincidental.  The pattern I'm thinking of is where he gurgles something from a high pitch to a lower pitch - in the way someone might say (in care-giverese) "There it is.. "

I'm not going to mention crying, as, well, all babies do it to a greater or lesser extent, right?  The main thing with the Frog is that he typically has a reason for crying at this point which is easy to fix - he's ravenously hungry, he's lonely, or he's having a difficult bowel motion (well, the last one, we just have to wait it out - but it's good warning that a nasty nappy change is imminent!).

As to me?  Well, motherhood is still surreal.  As in, I still look at this completely vulnerable little critter with amazement... When did my life start totally revolving around the well-being of this new person?  Yes, I know, June 20 - I was being RHETORICAL.

My body is taking its sweet time in getting back to normal.  I haven't stepped on the scales recently, but just looking in the mirror is enough.  My stomach resembles some sad, semi-deflated post-party balloon.  My rear-end is also balloon-like, in an entirely different way.  All in all, I think 9 months to lose the weight is looking unlikely.  I am trying, though.  Doing everything with a (now) 4.7kg lump strapped to your front has GOT to be good for calorie burning, right?  Even if just typing?
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be one of those women who can use milk-production to burn calories - that's the one part of this process that hasn't gone text-book smoothly.  The Frog doesn't care to put much effort into milk extraction, hence supplies are fairly low.  I only really worked this out when the midwife pointed out at the end of his first week how dehydrated he was getting.  So we went on to formula top-ups.  We started with 50ml at each feed, then 100, and now I tend to make up 150ml bottles, and see how much he'll take.  He WAS regularly taking about 120-130ml of the formula after time on the boob, but in the last couple of days his feeding pattern has rather frustratingly changed - from roughly 4-hourly feeds, he seems to feed almost 2-hourly, and takes around 50ml each time.  This is close to driving me barmy, as with feeds 2 hours apart which take at LEAST one hour each, it doesn't actually leave much time to get anything done.  I can't find any way to force more into him, because he tends to clamp his lips together tightly, and if you try to get clever and slip the bottle in during a yawn, he gives you an extremely disappointed look and starts gagging.  So much for that.  The only benefit I can see is that he has the good sense to let me sleep at night.  We might have a final feed finishing around 10pm, and then I'm not usually woken by him till 6 or 7 the next morning.  Be thankful for medium-sized mercies, I guess?