Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Teething remedy

The little critter has been teething. Mostly he's a bit clingy, sleeps more than usual, is a bit whiny... but at times it seems like it really hurts him. We rub his gums and give him one of those teething thingamegigs that you cool in the fridge, but he throws it to the side pretty quick. My sister suggested that we try with an ice cube. We wrapped a single ice cube in a nice thick cloth napkin and Lucas sucked on it for a while. It seemed to help him a lot. He used it for longer than he ever has the teething bee thing we got at the pharmacy, and when he was done bye bye ice cube before it became a melted mess. Happy family.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

10 things I learned this year

1. Pain sucks. It can make you see deep darkness and obliterate everything else.
2. I like epidurals.
3. A husband, a good husband, can get so much more intensely close and intimate and caring than I could have ever imagined. Thankfully, this good husband will pretend to forget and never again mention unladylike behavior prior to or immediately following birth.
4. There is an encompassing ofcoursity about having a baby. Once our little baby got here I could not imagine having existed in a world that didn't have him. And I wonder what I did, really, with the many minutes in a day. And I don't marvel at how many times I can repeat any one action, say wiping spit up or changing nappies.
5. Yet, yet, yet, when 6 months later I ventured out with Wynn, all dolled up (or wearing lip gloss, which is not the same but equal to) we left our cell phones on the table but didn't realize there was no reception until we got up to leave. And during dinner we pretty much almost even forgot we had a baby. It didn't feel evil. Or sane.
6. I appreciate help. I would remember about me a lot less without help from the aunts.
7. Sleep is not as important as I once thought. Me, the girl who napped away the last two months of pregnancy, can happily live with a few hours here and there per night. I exaggerate, of course. But I've adapted.
8. Breast pumps are stupid.
9. I could look at pictures of people's babies all day. I am just that kind of girl. And now that I have my own it seems less creepy. And that is why I like Facebook.
10. The word "and" is very useful and pretty, especially when you write a blog.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Lazy Christmas Panchu

My family is in town for the holidays, Wynn is home but sick and the critter is his critterful self.

I'm going to be very vagrant and not post for a bit.

Happy holidays! Stay warm and happy.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Poetry on Friday

I used to write poems, but I haven't been able to do it in a long time. A friend of mine who paints thought pregnancy was such an inspiring time. I didn't find that...


Here is a little poem I wrote a while ago.


I walk up the stairs
to my sister’s room.

On the landing
after counting
the seventeen steps
that leave me out of breath
I think I see her face

reflected on the wall
between the two oblong windows
that shattered that day
when she jumped out of bed
wanting to be someone
(not her).

I call to the sparrows
that came for her
as she lay on the grass
blood emptying slowly
until the grass had drank
all of her.

In globs,
the birds collected her in their beaks
and mounted the air
to take her away
from me,
still on the landing
screeching for them
to leave a fingernail
that I will wear on a pendant
hanging from my neck.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

For when they drive you batty

I am incredibly lucky that I get to stay home with the critter. It's crazy fun and lovely. I pee with the door open, type with one hand and shower when I can, which is all good.

Sometimes, though, I wish I had a minute that was all minemineminemine. It happens now and again that you've read every book, done independent playing, crawled on the floor, played peek a boo, sucked on a puzzle, sang, danced, played the drum and you are just about ready to walk out the door.

These are some of my little tricks for when Lucas needs me but I need me more, ie, things we can do together while my mind wanders off to singlehood:

1. Go for a walk. We both people watch and go far in our heads.
2. Look out the window. It's his new thing. And we both find it weirdly entertaining.
3. Call a friend. I can talk and the phone and walk about with the critter perched on my hip. He puts up with this for long stretches of time.
4. Give the the bonchibón a bath. A warm bath and his ducky - that's all he needs. (It's not like I leave him in there while I go have a smoke! I just check out in my mind.)
5. Look through one of your picture books. I bring out my Jamie Olivers and tell Lucas about the recipes I'm going to try out later. I love my cook books and he loves being able to play with the things that interest us (I really think that's whey little babies are always reaching for cell phones and TV remotes... those our our toys, they figure if they're fun for us, they must be a blast!)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Nursing and exercise

I'm very happy that I'm still nursing 7 and a half month old Lucas. I look at him and see how big and fun and interested in the world he is - we're amazed at his brilliant 7 month old self. The one thing I hate about him getting older is that the excuses for what has become of my body are getting fainter.

I was even a little bit proud of my post pregnancy pouch the first few months. I'd just had a baby, my body had gone through pain, stretching, cutting and stitching. It was like a merit badge accompanying the little baby.

7 months later, there is just no excuse. It's OK, I just had a baby. Oh, congratulations! How old is he. Almost 5. Yeah well you look great.

Nursing does help with some of the weight. If only I could keep my greedy little hands away from cookies... To give the body a little help I recently got back into the gym. Also, it is such amazing me time! I always come back re-energized and so much more eager to take on everything.

I was concerned it would affect my milk supply. La Liga de la Leche has a few guidelines for nursing moms who exercise, as well as related bibliography. has an encouraging little article too. Bottom line is: go for it. It shouldn't affect your milk supply, as long as you rehidrate etc. My ob-gyn was a little more cautious. She believes that exercise and milk supply and inversly proportional. She just said, go with caution. I don't do anything that involves a lot of jumping because the girls are big, and I don't want a sports bra to confine them too much. I am also staying away from heavy dumbells. My milk supply hasn't changed, and I'm slowly but surely getting there. And I stopped buying cookies.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Learn as you go: the deal with onesies

Some things are so obvious it would have been helpful to have had them explained. Maybe with graphics. Before Critter McG was born I washed and folded piles of teeny tiny onesies that he went through so quick I was back to washing and folding sooner than I thought.

The only kind we used for the first three months were the ones that buttoned all the way down. When they're really tiny babies freak out if anything goes over their heads. Plus, you're still learning to move him without separating limbs, so a button down onesie can be tucked under the baby and you can roll him gently to get the other arm in. Works beautifully.

Until he learns to roll over. Then forget anything that has more than the three necessary buttons on the bottom. Dressing should be as quick as possible and if you can do it with the baby on your lap, even upside down, all the better.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Lipstick fertility

Oh, Nico, what odd TV fertility drugs are you on? So sorry about the many daily shots... bummer - outside the jungle it's a shot a day.

Still. Love it. And not only because my faves from Las Vegas joined up. As a side bar, Vanessa Marcil should have been Eva Longoria before Eva Longoria. Her manager messed up.

I have to watch Pretty in Pink now.

Friday, 12 December 2008

A Panchu's Christmas wish list

Fellow parent bloggers everywhere are making their lists to give us ideas and hints to their spouses. Theirs are better, so check out Smart Ass Mom, Rhea at The Cocktail Cafe, Busy Dad and Mr. Lady for lists that might actually inspire you.

Here are my top 5:

1. A one hour massage
2. The flavour shaker
3. Lorelai's Marc Jacobs purse from Season 4
4. My North Face Triple C jacket repaired (stupid bad washing instructions)
5. I really want the purse

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sleepy time stories: Contented little babies

Gina Ford is Britain's baby guru. Her cornerstone book, The New Contented Little Baby Book: the Secret to Calm and Confident Parenting, holds the secret: the CLB routines. The book goes into careful detail about routines appropriate for each stage of the baby's life. Everything is stipulated in the routine: the baby's sleeping, eating, bath, playtime and cuddle time. Don't worry, your sleeping, eating, bath, playtime and cuddle time is scheduled in as well.

Above all, stick to the routine - unless you have to pee outside of the stipulated potty break, in which case all hell will break lose.

It's 7 am, time for baby's first feeding of the day. Critter's asleep? Wake that darn baby!


His nap time slot has come and gone and still no sleeping? Well, you better keep him awake now until the next appropriate sleeping time.

If baby falls asleep while nursing before bedtime, wake him so he goes awake to his crib. "When cuddling him during the wind-down time, do not talk and avoid eye contact" (because he will feel safe in your love and warmth) "as it can overstimulate him and result in him becoming overtired and not settling". And, of course, baby needs to learn to fall asleep by himself in his crib, so there is a "crying-down" period.

The thing is, I'm sure this works. How could it not? The baby's needs are all met before they even arise. If not, just wait until the next carefully selected time interval.

Even if I didn't cringe at her suggestions, most days I'm organized enough to shower and change into clothes that somewhat match by noon, so I don't think the CLB routines would work with us. The CLB routines are "created to meet the natural sleep and feeding needs " of babies. Couldn't I just take cues straight from my baby? I'm sure he's aware of a baby's natural needs.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Reading the classics

The critter's relationship to books has changed drastically in the last month or so. Although he still enjoys a good book to suck on, he has moved on from pulling them off the shelves to sitting down for a good read.

His all-time favorite (right now) is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?. I do funny voices for the animals, my sisters read it more sing-song-y, and Wynn reads it in sing-song-y funny voices: Lucas accepts all interpretations. He sits on the reader's lap, listening and looking at the book, glancing up at you every once in a while. The purple cat always makes Critter McG smile up at me - it's my favorite too.

The child of two comp lit students, Lucas has clear opinions on books. Right now, he thinks The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a hyped up cult classic with no real poetic value. Wynn still remembers what the caterpillar ate each day of the week, so we will give Lucas some time and try again. After all, some books really do require the reader to have a certain life experience to fully grasp and enjoy the work. I found that to be true of Don Quijote, for example.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Cybex i.GO

I was very excited to try this carrier. At first glance the Cybex i.GO baby and infant carrier looks like the perfect love child of the Ergo and the Björn. With Björn's sleek looks and Ergo's ergonomic design Cybex was bound to have parents around the world falling hard. Eh, no.

It looks sleek and chic, but there are so many straps and velcros, and straps under velcros inside lining, that it feels more like a straight jacket than a baby carrier. Try as they might, the baby still dangles from her crotch when facing out. The lumbar support is pretty good, but the shoulder straps are not padded enough and it hurts. You need to put the Cybex on and then wiggle your baby in through the very narrow top.

The Cybex also works as an infant carrier, where the baby lies on his back facing upwards at 90 degrees from you, as if you were a cigarette girl from the 20's. His legs dangle off unsupported. It's not very cozy, and definitely not convenient for nursing. Although it is pretty comfortable to bottle-feed the teeny babies while in the Cybex, which is a nice change from other infant carriers.

Although modeled by beautiful people (seriously, google the summer ads - I'd get it just on the off chance my hip bones might look like that woman's), the Cybex is not ideal babywearing material.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Messy messy messy

The house is in shambles; but the critter's happy, it's a three day weekend and I went to the gym.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

One hand recipes: chicken fajitas

These fajitas are pretty quick. The splash of lime juice at the end is wonderful and takes me back to caipirinhas and Brazil and those years when we were tan and thin and drunk.

Ingredients (serves 2 hungry people):

1 onion, thinly sliced
half a red, green and yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced (any color will do really)
2 chicken breasts, butterflied, thinly sliced
seasoning: salt, pepper, oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
tortilla wraps
leftover brown rice (if you don't have it already, it might be worth making a bit)
1 lime

Over high heat, add olive oil to the pan. Add onion and wait until it softens but is still translucent. Add bell peppers and chicken. Season. Turn heat down to moderate/high and cook until chicken is done. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice of one lime over it. Spread mayonnaise on the tortillas, top with the room temperature rice and the chicken and veg. Serve.

Sleepy time stories: the Panchu house way

There is no shortage of theories, books and experts on sleep. I'm going to try to go through some of them here, in the hope of posting even a word that might be a kernel of hope to parents of sleepless crying babies everywhere.

As an introduction to the topic I'll share with you (Wynn, my sister and PanchuMom reader Laurel... my audience just keeps getting larger and larger!) how we put Lucas to sleep.

We don't have a set sleeping schedule for him, we only put him to sleep when he's sleepy - he starts complaining and swatting his ear. We take him to our bed and either Wynn or I lie sideways facing him. We put our arms around him until he falls asleep. Sometimes Lucas will struggle a bit and get up. We let him do that a couple of times and lie him down again. If he seems to still have too much energy for sleeping we put him in his crib to bop about until he accepts he's sleepy. Then back to the bed. Usually by this point he'll be asleep before his head hits the bed. We give him a few minutes and then we transfer him to his crib.

So far this has worked. We're lucky that he doesn't wake up when we move him to the crib asleep. This is the "method" that works for us right now. Who knows, in two weeks it might need revising.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Crazy toys for little our peeps

Belgian toy company Lilliputiens makes toys of fabric. They use bright bold colors for toys that feature animals, dolls, imaginary creatures and games.

We got the Cauliflower activity module on the left for Lucas. He went nuts for it! The fabrics are soft or ridged, some of them are crinkly. There are hoops, things that stick out and funny bugs that slide or vibrate.

The Lilliputiens present varied tactile and visual stimulation for the little ones. They are crazy fun and appropriately not cheap.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Open letter to Owen Maclaren

Dear Owen,

Let me start by saying good job with the strollers. They are a big hit!

I just want to tell you a few things I think would make them even better.

First of all, that basket is not amazingly useful. It is pretty darn hard to get to it. (If the backrest is reclined, then make that impossible). I can store things, but I cannot retrieve them.

I was going to complain about the foot brake, about how it's not practical at all to have to push the lever to the side to get the back wheels in the security lock position, but I see you are one step ahead! One of the exciting new features of the 2008 edition is the central foot brake. Looking forward to trying that out.

Maybe next time you can see about making the ride a teeny tiny bit smoother for the kiddies? Non-plastic wheels, or better suspension... let's brainstorm, because that would really put these strollers over the top. Forget fancy Silver Cross, the smooth ride is the main thing they have on you - so there. While we're on the wheels - they get the hood dirty every time I fold up the stroller. What's up with that?

Your stroller is indeed very lightweight, which is great. Except I usually throw my coat over the back, I hang my purse on it (etc), then when I get Critter McG (that's my son) out, the whole thing topples over backwards, which is not great.

The one hand fold is lovely and the ergonomically angled handle bars were a terrific idea.

Thank you for our many happy trails.


Cheli (aka PanchuMom)

Friday, 28 November 2008

Home made toys: color in a bottle

Lucas has a fascination with water bottles. He is drawn to them because he sees us drinking and wants to put his mouth on them too. He also likes making the water swish back and forth inside.

We saved one of the thicker plastic ones, filled it up about half way and threw a few sequins of different colors inside.

Bottle and water and colors galore!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Keeping in touch like it's 2008

Friends and family who live far away want to see the baby. And I want to show off his new tooth, how he stands, the way he laughs. Thanks to Skype we have been able to talk and use video for free for some time now. Still, trying to talk the grandparents through installing it can take some time. Slate has an installation guide for Skype that the uninitiated can follow.

Gmail voice and video essentially works the same way. I prefer it since it seems like less of a commitment: no need to open up a different program to see who's online to have a quick little video conf. The installation process is pretty self explanatory - but I'm still waiting for my mother to catch on.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Feeding time at the zoo

Feeding the monkeys and pandas might be neater that what goes down at our house during meals.

We let Lucas feed himself. He loves it, and he gets about 85% of the food in his mouth. We move things along with a long handle spoon, getting a few mouthfuls in there. This also works well for us, giving us free hands to eat ourselves.

Lilsugar posted research that shows that letting babies feed themselves develops hand eye coordination and works towards a developing a healthy relationship with food.

Lunchtime becomes a happy event for everyone, albeit insanely messy. But that can be cleaned up... over time.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

5 things worth a trip to Ikea

Once you step inside Ikea you buy more than you intended and spend a lot more time you thought you would. That's the magic these Swedes developed.

Here are five useful and inexpensive things:

1. Set of colorful bowls, ideal for your kiddy's first meals (unless you're off plastic).

2. Beautiful, fun, quilt covers (unless you don't do comforters. This is turning out to be a very controversial list).

3. Baby proofing. They have almost everything you need (I'm sure we're all into baby proofing).

4. Big plastic storage box for the toys astray your living room floor.

5. The Ikea body lotion, shampoo and toothpaste smell lovely and get the job done.

Good luck navigating the kitchen utensil section... that's how they always get you!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Guilty pleasure read

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor used to write for Whose Line is it Anyway; then she had a kid and wrote Sippy Cups are not for Chardonnay.

As far as parenting books go, this isn't one of the most informational. OK, it has no useful information. As a parent I disagree with most of the things she feels passionately about: I like my Bugaboo, I don't think nursing "hurts like a rhesus monkey biting your nipples" and I am looking forward to throwing my son a rocking first birthday party.

The book talks about motherhood with honesty and humor. Sadly, my husband has also had to come up with an answer to "Does it bother you that I haven't waxed in eighteen months?"

To Stefanie's credit, though, I didn't feel like she was admonishing or shaming me for how I raise my child, which automatically awards her the "Most Respectful Baby Book" award. Sippy Cups, with its simple and neat narrative style, is funny and embarrasingly relatable.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Happy weekend

Happy weekend everyone! (Meaning husband Wynn, only PanchuMom reader for now). Very much looking forward to quality time with my boys and an occasional me-time, ie, a shower longer than 3 minutes... I might even do a hair mask, and that takes about 10 minutes.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

One hand recipes: Pasta with portobellos, ham and peas

One hand recipes are my attempt at cooking food that doesn't come frozen in a box while looking after a very mobile little attention hog. In an ideal world, they would be cooked with one hand, while the other dangles rattles, emails and has a relaxed conversation with my husband.

For now, I am content with ideas for meals that require the least amount of time and effort, and where some of the ingredients can be prepared (chopped, stir fried, etc) ahead of time, ie during baby naps.

Ingredients, serves two people:
Whole wheat pasta (bowties, ziti or the like)
1/3 cup ham, cut into small squares 
2/3 cup portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp olive oil
a handful of grated parmesan
a few twigs of fresh thyme (dry works as well) 
seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, nutmeg 

Prepare pasta as per package instructions. While pasta cooks, add olive oil to a pan. When it's warm, add the mushrooms. Cook until they are tender. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme. Add the ham. Drain the pasta, reserving a tiny bit of the cooking liquid. Add pasta to the ingredients in the pan. Add the cream and the peas. Stir until everything is creamy. Add parmesan cheese and serve.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Homemade Toys: Crinkly Socks

My six month old critter is interested in everything. He wants to touch and suck on everything around him. Once he becomes familiar with an object, once he has learned about it and it no longer presents the most stimulation for his little developing mind, he is ready to move on.

It's very exciting to watch him as he goes around learning, but it makes the toy situation bizarre for us. Lucas will really be into something, then two days later, not have time in his schedule for it. Many overpriced toys later we are starting to invent everything and anything for him to play with. Our latest invention? A colorful sock with one of those really noise crinkly plastic bags inside. Another option would be putting cellophane inside the sock. Sow up the top, and voilà! A colorful, noisy, soft toy that will keep him happy for another few minutes while I finish this post.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Nursing pads

Nursing for many months is both wonderful (for those who like it) and riddled with varied little inconveniences. For instance, the need to constantly wear nursing pads: solution and new problem. Problem - the outer plastic layer of the disposable pads doesn't let nipples breath enough, which can lead to the dreaded cracked and sore nipples. Enter the solution - the washable nursing pads.

Medela makes lovely cotton pads. Cotton breathes. I've been using pads for several months and they work pretty well; they need to be changed as often as the disposable ones. The pads come with a useful little mesh bag for the washing machine. Plus, it's environmentally friendly I guess.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Little lamb had a garden

Mandana Sadat is an Iranian illustrator and writer. Her book The Garden of Babai has been published in Spanish, Italian and French editions, all of them with the text in Persian on the opposite page (unfortunately, it has not yet been published in English).

This book tells the story of Babaï, a lonely little lamb who decides to grow a garden, inviting all sorts of wildlife to his plot of land. This finally becomes the drawing of a beautiful tapestry.

The Babaï book is not a board book, so it has now graduated to the taller shelves, out of reach of Lucas's hands (and sucking). At around four months, before he was so dexterous with his chubby little fingers, we used to read it a lot. He loved it because the book is comprised of one plain page with only text on it, but upon turning it, the next is full of color and drawings. The pictures are in very rich earthy tones, with deep burgundy reds and clean lines, which really caught Lucas's attention. He would get very excited when we turned to the page and he saw the animals, in colors so intense they seem to have texture.

Madana Sadat has written and illustrated Mi León, edited in Spanish and the original French versions. She has also illustrated Jorge Elías's Winter Afternoon, which can be found in a bilingual English/Spanish edition.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Little feet

For our baby shower my mother in law gave us a pair of Robeez. At the time I said, "great, thanks", and threw them in the box of things that seemed so big my child wouldn't need them for a long time. Six months later, we are loving the Robeez and can't imagine life without them (as seems to be the case with every valuable baby product).

Lucas isn't walking yet, but he grabs on to things and pulls himself up. At first, brilliant as I am, I had him just in socks. Since he slipped I spent hours a day holding my arms like a net, just in cases (Love Actually fans?). Robeez were designed to let moms and dads relax their arms.

They are made of soft leather, which prevents slipping and makes them soft and comfortable enough for the little kids to feel like they're just wearing another type of sock instead of harder and uncomfortable shoes. The elastic around the ankle makes my life easier since they slip on nicely, and, unlike most socks, don't slip off the first time Lucas cricket-style rubs his legs.

There are warmer weather models and shoes for more seriously walking rugrats. Robeez are everywhere, they even have them at babyGap (for a few pennies more).

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Hangover notes, ie, emotion coaching

My wild night yesterday was actually a lecture on emotion coaching for parents. Every time the professor addressed "parents" I wanted to raise my hand "me, me, me, I have a baby, I'm a parent!". The novelty has not yet worn off.

The lecturer began by delineating what "emotion" refers to. An emotion is basically something we feel as a product of our interpretation of reality. Emotions inform us of the world around us, they help us evaluate and understand it, and they prepare us for acting in the world.

As a parent, it is our role to help children learn how to understand, interpret and cope with their emotions. This is called emotion coaching in John Gottman's Raising and Emotional Intilligent Child. Gottman's book is a pleasurable and informative read. It has anecdotal examples that help clarify his outline for helping children develop their emotional individuality.

The four steps of emotion coaching are:
1. Become aware of the emotion.
2. Recognize the emotion, name it and recognize its intensity.
3. Investigate the origin of the emotion, why it's there, what caused it.
4. Brainstorm possible solutions/plans of action . Select best one.

The lecturer did a lovely job of explaining the parent's role in helping children through these stages. Gottman's book does a remarkable job as well.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Mom gone wild

I am going out tonight. Wynn is staying with Lucas. They will handle dinner, bath and sleeping all by themselves.

"Ooh, freedom! Thank you, sweetheart."

"Wait, are you sure, should we do this?"

I say both things at the same time.

Wynn is encouraging and insistent.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Can you relate?

Somewhere between the loss of personal space and ownership of your time you learn to laugh.

Diary of an unedited mum

Jools Oliver's book, Minus Nine to One: Diary of an Honest Mum, leaves a lot to be desired. Unless you love the Olivers, exclamation points and emails.

The book narrates Jools and Jamie's journey from trying to conceive their first child, getting pregnant with their second daughter and throughout the older kid's first year.

Jools could have used a more opinionated editor. The book reads like a (long) email. She has a fondness for exclamation points! When she can't conjure up the words to describe a situation she tries to resolve it by adding emphasis. This surely gets her point across better than words would!

As with everything Jamie Oliver, the book includes beautiful photographs, only here it's less about the food and more about their family. Although... there is a photo that bothered me. It is meant to be of Jools and Jamie having dinner on the night they inadvertedly conceived their second child. Why would they invite a photographer to dinner the night they had sex for the first time postpartum? Ours was a lot more casual, intimate and careful.

This book does not contain any useful information for pregnant moms looking to benefit from someone else's experience; nor is it a particularly enjoyable read. Then why did I read it start to finish in two days? I actually am obsessed with everything Jamie Oliver, and I am a sucker for nice pictures, especially when they offer an inside look into someone's family life. So while this book is not particularly informational or well written, it is sure to please the voyeur in all of us.

Friday, 7 November 2008

I love the Ergo too

Every blog out there raves about the ERGObaby.

I bought it.

My life is a before and after.

The ERGObaby carrier’s ergonomic design supports a correct sitting position for the baby’s hip, pelvis and spine growth. It disperses most of the baby’s weight between the hips and thighs and helps prevent compression of the spine. The ERGObaby carrier also alleviates physical stress for the parent by balancing the baby’s weight to parents’ hips and shoulders. It has three carrying positions: front (baby facing in), hip and back (for older babies and toddlers).

We had the BabyBjörn before this (comparison chart here). I was carrying 3 and a half month old Lucas in the BabyBjörn around the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid and (very infomercial), thought to myself "there has to be a better way!" My shoulders hurt so much I felt I could relate to the weeping mother in the Guernica. (I shouldn't even say this, the pain conveyed by that mother is so unbearably profound.) Yet, you get my point. After a lot of research, we decided on the Ergo. I laughed at the demonstration video made by an Ergo fan (until I realized she was selling it on her website). Mocking aside, it convinced me.

When we first received it Lucas was still a bit young for it (we probably should have used the infant insert). He could sit in it, but his legs weren't long enough for his knees to reach the edge, so he was a bit uncomfortable. Now he loves it. We love carrying him in it too. The hip support is amazing, the shoulder pads are very well padded. We can carry Lucas around for long periods of time without being in pain. Putting it on is easy - for me. Wynn needs help, since he isn't flexible enough to strap the shoulder bands together by himself. We have yet to try it with a newborn baby (we used a sling) so I can't comment on it as an infant carrier. But for anyone hoping to comfortably and happily carry a heavier baby, the Ergo is amazing. At first I though Lucas would mind not being able to look out, as he could with the BabyBjörn, but he seems perfectly happy to turn his head and look. Granted, he is a cuddly little kid... but so are we.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

What's Spanish for MYOB?

Living in Spain and having a small child make you come in contact with a respected and well established institution: the old woman. She is a grandmother many times over who knows things. Among them, how to raise your child. She sees you on the street and tells you if your baby is too warm, and how can you even think of bringing him outdoors in this weather, it is not good for him, such a pity that he should have to be out. In winter and fall, she points out that only idiots bring babies out of the house, you should at least put a hat on him. Think you can politely ask her to mind her own business? Be ready for a drawn out conversation (other people around might weigh in).

They can also tell you if your kid is hungry, spoiled (you hold him too much) or in a bad mood. They will work out the nursing vs formula feeding conundrum for you, but they need to see you doing either of the two to bring it up - they don't get all up in your grill out of the blue, for crying out loud, how much can you expect from these women?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Obama and my son

Two people that made me very happy.

Lately, Lucas has been waking up at about 2 or 3 in the morning and staying up for about an hour. He is actually sleepy when this happens, but for some reason instead of falling back asleep he rolls around, sits up, falls back very groggy... during all this fun, I try to remember that he really is such a great kid and will eventually fall back asleep, and my husband is not sleeping out of calculated revenge but because he has to get up in a few hours to go to work, and if I were to wake him he would come and hang out with me and we would wonder together why some of us would think it was not the right time for sleeping. But not last night!

And in new mom lingo, "slept through the night" means he only woke up to nurse (twice) and fell right back to sleep. This was my first source of happiness this morning.

The other was when Wynn whispered (not to wake the still sleeping critter) that Obama had been elected. Best morning ever! This is looking to be a very good day.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Infant Massage

When Lucas was a month old we started going to an Infant Massage class. If anything, it was a treat to have something scheduled twice a week, to see other moms and babies, and to have a trained coach for our many new mom questions.

Seriously, though, we both loved the class. Lucas really got into it. To this day, he thinks getting his legs massaged is one of the funniest things that could happen.

Our massage teacher is of the Vimala McClure school. Besides teaching us the massage technique, she taught us about the philosophy behind it, which, in a nutshell, centers on respecting your baby and learning how to listen to him.
Vimala McClure's book explains the massage technique, complete with illustrations, and gently encourages the reader to build trusting and loving relationship with his baby. Of all the parenting books, it is one of the most respectful, ie, it details a parenting philosophy without threatening dissenters with unhappy children, problematic childhoods, maladjustment, family discord, unearthly juvenile horrors and dreadful adulthood- and, oh, yes, guilt.

At first, I gave Lucas a massage daily. Now, between the cold weather and Lucas twisting and crawling it happens less frequently. I feel guilty because it really is so good for him; and that because of my laziness we are both missing out. And then I give him a massage, and although it is not as complete as they were when he was littler and less mobile, I am always surprised and so happy to see how much he enjoys it. He still laughs when I massage his legs; he looks up at me and smiles, relaxed, enjoying.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Beyond Maisy

Brilliant children's book writer and illustrator Lucy Cousins, of Maisy fame, created Hooray for Fish!. Lucas and I are having a lot of fun with this book. The illustrations follow the classic Maisy lines and colors, which are always so luminous and happy. Little Fish introduces us to all his fishy friends.

This book reads like a lively little poem, and the fish almost beg you to call on them in funny voices. I have an image of Lucy Cousins surrounded in her studio with a hundred drawings of fish, bright and funny, choosing her favorites, inviting them to the book. Lucas enjoys the colors and the rythm as I read. Later, while I struggle with his twisting shenanigans on the changing table I find myself recalling "curly whirly, twisty twirtly". We smile.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

I will try this out

Hello my new little blog that Wynn set up for me. This might be fun! I'm excited. I'm also hungry. And I yelled at Wynn for not finding the cheese (men never find things - it bothers me). But now I have egg wraps (with cheese) in front of me. I will eat. I will play with my pretty new blog later.

Hello World!!!!

Here's the first PanchuMom test-post.

Rubber duckies and plenty more to come!

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Making baby food

I make Lucas his food. We buy all organic, lovely produce and meats. It's important that he eat well; that is, until he discovers Cheetos and we start wondering why we ever shelled out billions for organic free range chicken in the first place.

Like every parenting book and website out there suggests I would make a bunch of food, store it in mini containers and pop it in the freezer to use in the oncoming days. No more! Critter McG does not like previously frozen food. He only eats freshly made food, which makes food shopping and cooking just that more time consuming.

Like a fool I used to throw everything in a pot of water and let it boil up together, then purée it with an immersion blender. No more! I started reading online that a lot of the essential vitamins and nutrients of food are lost in prolonged boiling. (Which makes sense.) So now I only boil the meat. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc, go in the oven with the skin on, other veg gets steamed... God, how much time do I spend on critter food?!? Well, a lot. At least he eats it happily. It would be another story if most of it ended up on the floor or something.

These are two good websites for baby food ideas, tips, recipes, etc:

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

You and me at 8 months

When the critter was about 2 months old he loved to look up at trees. We thought it was so sweet -poetic even. Hi friend J, who is a month younger, got into the tree thing exactly one month after Lucas. His mom and I were both quietly disappointed. It's a phase, after all, not the whimsical predilection of our tree-hugging babies. Oh well.

Now at eight months Lucas is doing a myriad of things which I'm sure many babies have done before to the utter wonderment of their first time parents. He just started babbling (ok, so he's behind... lay off me!), he takes steps with assistance, he can pick up small tiny objects and many other fantastic things.

These are some of the things M. le Bonchibón enjoys doing - this is where he's at:

1. He's a champion all-star peek-a-booer. He even initiates the game.

2. Books with flaps. They will probably not last forever because Hercules here goes wild once in a while, but he can get his little fingers to poke those flaps open every time.

3. Critter McG loves loves loves (almost as much as I like saying things in triplicate, you know, for emphasis) games where he does something to us, such as touching Wynn's toes and making him laugh and giggle, or pulling on my hair, making my head drop forcefully (which seemed like a good idea at the time.)

4. The Bonchibón experiments with every cup, bowl and pot that crosses his way: he talks (fine, grunts) into them. The small echo is wonderful. (We do it too - it is pretty exciting).

5. He very recently started touching himself, experimenting. Every chance he gets. (How long till we stop thinking this is adorable?)

6. Zippers rock. Anyone wearing something with zippers is a friend.

7. Putting things over his head (or as far as his little arms will allow) makes him very, very proud.