Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Santa Yogurt-covered Jim

It's a very convincing beard, you must admit. Especially if you've been hitting the eggnog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Look at him gooooo!

Last video for a while, I swear. This one is of Jim trying desperately to get to my Cream of Wheat across the room. Don't worry, we did give him some after he worked so hard to get it - we're not cruel. I don't think this is technically crawling, but he's still a speedy little bugger. He just wallops his way around all day long.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Story.

Today I took Jim to the park. A bird pooped on his head. Then we went home.

Promoting baby literacy.

Jim's book shelf. Not yet overflowing, but soon...

Our living room has three overflowing bookshelves. The spare room has one. The closet in the computer room is almost completely filled with books that won't fit on our shelves. We like books, Noah and I, and we'd like Jim to like books too, so we're getting started early.

DONE with this page; NEXT please.

To that end, we read to him a LOT. He gets a story every night before bed, sometimes before naps, and at random times throughout the day. My His favorites are Goodnight Moon, Is Your Mama a Llama, Beowulf, and anything by James Herriott. He also gets more than his share of grown-up books. If he's around while we're reading, more often than not he gets read to.* I dread the day when his listening comprehension is good enough that we can't read Stephen King or George R.R. Martin out loud to him any more.

M-O-O-N, that spells appropriate for children.

*Take a look at THAT grammar. You can tell we're literary types, right?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Being people.

Since we were just talking about Jim's eating habits, I thought I'd show you how he manages. The above video features Jim devouring a delicious pear. He gags a little at the beginning (silly boy tried to have three bites of pear in his mouth at one time), but carries on munching quite happily. The below video involves a spoon and some yogurt. He was pretty funny with the yogurt, actually; kept making absolutely terrible faces while still slurping it up. He can handle a spoon okay, as long as I load it for him. He smears things around a good deal, of course, but at least he knows which end goes in his mouth.

Oh, slight side note of minor importance - guess who got his first tooth yesterday morning!

Friday, December 16, 2011

He's cute, but his sense of humor needs work.

Jim thought it was pretty hilarious whenever I picked up this purple stress ball. Dropping it was kind of amusing, but picking it up was comedy gold.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby-Led Solids: Pros and Cons

Jim LOVES food. Well. Sort of. It might be more accurate to say that Jim loves being people. Anything that people do, Jim wants to do. People play with the computer? Jim wants to play with the computer! People read the newspaper? Jim will have a newspaper too! People eat food? Well, Jim must eat food too.

In the interest of helping Jim be people, we decided to go with a thing called baby-led solids (or baby-led weaning). It's not quite as hippie-dippie as it sounds. Basically, it just means skipping the purees stage and going straight to table food. He kind of started this himself when he seized Noah's chicken leg on night, and we've been carrying on with it since.

This is how people use spoons, yes?

Pros of Baby-Led Solids (so far)
Ease. Essentially we just sit Jim at the table with us at dinner and put a little portion on his tray for him to do with as he pleases. No purees, no spoon-feeding, just a little of whatever we're having. This is especially good because it means we can have dinner as a family every night with no hassle. Jim loves being people, like I said, so this is usually the highlight of his day.
Variety. At the advanced age of about six and a half months, Jim has had the opportunity to try quite a large variety of foods. His favorites so far seem to be enchiladas, steamed broccoli, baked sweet potatoes, baked ziti, sauteed green beans with garlic, toast, chicken, baked potatoes, and pulled pork. Foods which he will consume readily but without great relish include bananas, cream of wheat, curry, cauliflower, meatloaf, mac n cheese, pears, carrots, mashed potatoes, and pork chops. The only thing that he doesn't like so far is spicy pasta. I think this wide variety of flavors and textures will help him to not be a picky eater when he's a bit older.

Never let your baby wear long sleeves on enchilada night.

Fun. It's really entertaining to watch him eat. He uses his hands for everything, of course, but he hasn't quite worked out how to get at stuff inside his fists, so he winds up grabbing a big handful of food, eating whatever winds up on the outside of his hands, and then cramming his fist into his mouth wondering why he's not eating whatever is inside. At first he didn't know which end to put in his mouth, either. He'd pick up a green bean, for example, and cram his fist into his mouth with the bean sticking out the other end. He has since figured out that the food end is supposed to go in first. Obviously he isn't perfect at getting stuff in his mouth yet, especially since he's really just exploring flavors and textures right now. Generally about 50% goes into his lap, 20% goes onto the floor (where it is subsequently sniffed and disdained by the cat - we really need to get a dog), 20% goes onto his onesie/face/hands/hair, and about 10% is consumed. Which is okay, seriously - 'food before one is just for fun' and all that.

Cons of Baby-Led Solids (so far)
Scary (but only at first). The first couple of times we let him have food were a little bit nerve-wracking. He's gagged a few times on things, but we've come to realize it's actually a good sign. If he bites off something too big or gets it too far back in his throat, he can kind of just gag it forward until it plops out disgustingly onto his shirt. Still, this was kind of alarming the first couple of times it happened.

Enchiladas and Avocado: The Aftermath.

Messy. And how... Jim doesn't like to wear a bib. If we put a bib on him, more often than not he'll spend the entire time trying to eat and/or yank off the bib. So, we just leave it off and resign ourselves to a lot of laundry and a post-dinner bath every night. Maybe eventually his targeting skills will improve to where he doesn't need a bath after EVERY meal.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Couple pictures of Jim with various relations.

Gawking at his great-uncle (and namesake) Jim.

Getting smooches from his Aunt Emmy.

Being displayed for the edification of his astounded Uncle Ilya.

First Thanksgiving (and a couple tasty tasty recipes).

This past Thanksgiving was pretty novel in a bunch of ways. It was Jim's first, of course, but also the first for Noah and me together, and the first one where I actually was responsible for cooking stuff. Fortunately, I had some slave labor to help me. Minions are exceedingly helpful - I highly recommend having some if you're planning on being in the kitchen all day.

Jim benevolently amuses the help.

We had just a small dinner, Noah and Jim and me, Emmy and Ilya (my sister and brother-in-law, for the three of you who don't know), and a couple of Noah's military buddies who decided to drop by for munchies. I'd like to take this moment to point out that young single military men are just like puppies - clumsy, uncertain of social norms (puppies are like that, right?), and eager for free food. This makes them both entertaining and natural choices to pad out a holiday table.

You can't see the sweet potatoes in his armpits, but trust me, they're there.

For me, of course, Jim was the most fun part of the whole thing. He was pretty happy to just sit at the table cramming food into his mouth, and smearing it on his tray, and wiping it on his onesie, and dropping it on the floor for Bruce, and shoving it down in the crevices of his high chair. He had mashed potatoes in his eyebrows at the end. His favorite things were probably the turkey and the sweet potatoes, but he seemed pretty taken with everything.

Pumpkin pie and chocolate espresso pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, rolls and butter, cranberry sauce and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a very ugly (but very juicy) turkey. SUCCESS.

Honestly, I'm pretty proud of us (me and Emmy, mostly, but Ilya and Noah helped too, and Jim provided moral support) for making a massive amount of food in one day. The turkey was not the prettiest thing ever, but it tasted great. The stuffing and rolls were pre-packaged, since I didn't want to mess with them. The mashed potatoes were sufficiently potato-y, but the gravy was a bit of a failure and had to be fortified with the weird packet that came with the turkey. The sweet potatoes and green beans were both delicious, of course, and the pumpkin pie was similar to the turkey - ugly but tasty.

I would've been happy to eat just these (and subsequently die of diabetes and malnutrition).

Would you believe I've never eaten cranberry sauce before in my life? I grabbed some cranberries at the store on a whim, because, you know, you're supposed to have cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And lo, it was incredible. And incredibly easy. The recipe is laughable, honestly. Here:

Cranberry Sauce
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
12 oz bag of cranberries

Mix juice and sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Add cranberries. Cook until it looks like sauce. Eat it all warm out of the pan because it's freaking delicious.

It's so good. Yeah, I know, everybody else in the USA already knows how good cranberry sauce is probably, but I just discovered it, so... Bear with me. I kind of want to make some right now and eat it hot over vanilla ice cream. I don't see why people save it for Thanksgiving.

The other food highlight for me was the chocolate espresso pecan pie. Sounds fancy, tastes fancy, festive yet different. I made this at Noah's behest, and will probably make it many more times at my own behest. It's ridiculously rich and not overly sweet, so if you make it, serve it in thin slices with a nice dollop of whipped cream. I very slightly modified this girl's recipe. You should go drool over her pictures because they're way better than mine.

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie
9" pie crust of your choice, prebaked
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons Kahlua
2 cups pecans, chopped
1/2 cup pecan halves (pick out the pretty ones)

Melt the chocolate and butter over very low heat, stirring frequently (that's the most tedious part of the whole thing). While it's cooling, mix together the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Dissolve the espresso powder in the water and that to the egg mixture along with the Kahlua and chocolate. Whisk it all together until it's nice and smooth. Dump the chopped pecans in the pie shell and arrange the pretty halves around the edges of the crust on top of the chopped ones. Pour the filling into the middle of the pie and fix any of the pecan halves that float out of place. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, depending on how gooey you want it. The pie will kind of puff up a bit when it's done. Cool it on a rack.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Size, shots, and 3 AM terror.

Yesterday was Jim's six month appointment, and it went rather well. There was a little girl in the waiting room, maybe two years old. Or maybe one year old? Or three? I have no idea. I know nothing about children. Anyway, I think she was between one and three years old, but she was basically the exact same size as Jim, and he was extremely taken with her. He stared the entire time until we went back to the waiting room. I'm not sure if it's just because he rarely sees children or if he's planning on being the world's teeniest ladies' man.


Next step, of course, was getting the measurements.He's 15lb 15oz (~25th percentile), 26 inches long (~35th percentile), and has a 45 centimeter head (~85th percentile). Little baby, big head. The nurse actually measured his head at 49 centimeters originally, which is absurdly large. Upon entering the room, the doctor took one glance at Jim's head, said "THAT's not right." and trundled off to get his own tape measure. So Jim's head is officially 45 centimeters, which is still hilariously large but not freakishly so.

It always takes quite a long time before the doctor wanders into the exam room. Jim played with Noah's keys for a while; this ended when he decided to find the longest one and jam it into the back of his throat. He didn't mind, but we were concerned so we took it away. Then we looked at the children's books available. The best was a pop-up farm animals book - apparently some enterprising tot had gone to the trouble of ripping out all the pop-ups, so basically it was a book of headless sheep and cows accompanied by rhymes. Charming. Our entertainment options thus exhausted, we settled down to writing Farsi all over the paper doohickey that covers the table (Jim had already saturated most of it with drool, so I didn't feel that we were vandalizing much by making use of the few dry parts).

The exam itself was brief, as always. Yep, baby looks healthy. Yep, he's moving and smiling and so forth. Yep, he sleeps occasionally and is fed regularly. The doctor seemed more or less impressed by his athleticism, which is apparently rather advanced for his age. Then he left and the poor nurse came in to cheerfully administer some pain. Jim handled it very well, actually - only squeaked slightly for the first two shots, then howled for about four seconds for the next two, after which time the world was cheerful again. Poor dude's got a big bruise on one leg where the shots went in, though, and I think he was hurting a bit the rest of the day, because he was very clingy. We spent most of the day lounging around on the couch comfort nursing and watching wildlife documentaries on Netflix.

One last unrelated bit: You know how Jim figured out how to pull up to standing recently? Well, we've been forgetting to lower his crib mattress. I mean, he can only pull up from sitting, right? And he can't sit up on his own yet, right? So it's not like it getting things lowered was that urgent, right? Right...

Yes, Jim, that's very cute. Sit the heck down.

Anyway, this morning he was fussing for his 3 am feed, so Noah went to get him, only to find him (yeah, you guessed right) standing up and leaning his entire upper body over the rail. It was basically sheer luck that Noah walked in just before he tipped over. Poor Noah wound up lowering the mattress in the middle of the night while I fed him.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WW: Jim's new hat

I've got WHAT on my head?! ... Oh, well that's all right then.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Six months.


I suppose I ought to be grateful that he took time out of his busy crawling-rolling-and-falling-down schedule to give us a picture for posterity, no?

One week, nine weeks, four months, and six months.

This past month has been a really big one, in terms of new things. In addition to growing absolutely enormous (we'll find out just how enormous on Wednesday when he has his next appointment), he's perfected sitting, more or less mastered crawling, pulled up to standing, and started talking. Not really talking, of course, but don't tell him that. Jim doesn't want to live in a world where "Dag nab bababa SCREEEEEE" isn't a valid sentence. I think he's also a bit more social than previously. He's especially gotten good at recognizing facial expressions. He looks concerned if someone is sad or upset, and he thinks it's hilarious when you act surprised to see him. Being bounced on the bed or held upside down are also pretty amusing.

As astonishing as these feats of cognitive prowess are, I think his physical progress kind of eclipses them this month. He can stand on his own power as long as he has something to balance with. He sits unsupported and can deliberately go from sitting to lying down, although he hasn't quite figured out how to reverse it (working on it, though - he can get to lying on one side and pushing up on one hand, but can't quite get off the ground). His crawl isn't quite that picture-perfect one-knee-at-a-time baby crawl, but he can army crawl ridiculously fast now. He can cross the whole kitchen in about two minutes if there is a super-interesting kitty on the other side.

Okay, the sitting is mostly perfected.

Some of you may recall that sleep was giving us absolute fits a month ago. Jim was waking up about 4 times a night if left in his crib and 6-8 times when co-sleeping, and all of us were pretty much cranky and delirious from lack of sleep. That has been solved, with the help of Richard Ferber and surprisingly few tears. Now he goes to bed around 7:15 each night, wakes up at 4:30 for a snack, and then back to sleep until about 6. I'll give a few details later, but for now just know that it is GLORIOUS.

We've also begun solids for real. We aren't messing around with purees and spoon-feeding at all, actually, just giving him table food a la the Baby-Led Weaning thing. The majority of what we give him probably gets smeared around his try, but he does manage to ingest quite a lot of it. So far his favorites seem to be sweet potato wedges, enchiladas, and cranberry sauce. The only thing he has seriously disliked was pasta in a rather spicy tomato sauce. He's also trying to figure out how a sippy cup works. He's figured out that you have to hold the cup while putting your mouth over the spout, but actually picking the cup up and tipping it eludes him, so he just clutches it on the ground and jams his mouth on it while grunting madly in anger that the water won't come out.

It's kind of hilarious.

Posing sedately is for schmucks.

The boy is getting to be pretty dramatic at times, actually. The latest evidence of this comes at diaper changes. Apparently with all these new movement abilities, being forced to be still for thirty seconds is an absolute torment to him. His protests don't take the form of angry yelling, though, that would be far too boring. Instead he sticks out his lower lip and begins to sob, huge fat tears rolling down his cheeks like somebody just stabbed his puppy. He just looks so theatrically tragic: "O woe is Jim! Nevermore to freely roam; never again to traverse the verdant Highways between the Kitchen and Laundry Room, chasing the Fearsome Kitty wherever He may be found!" Etc.

Actually, that's kind of hilarious too. Poor kid, nobody takes him seriously. But really, how can you take seriously somebody who will only let you change his diaper if you sing the Pink Panther theme while dancing outrageously? It's just not possible.

Friday, December 2, 2011