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)