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.


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).

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!"