Archive for July, 2008

Solids: Take One

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

We jumped the gun by about a week* due to a general excitement on the grownups’ part over the solids thing and decided to give it a try. Because I’m ultimately the spawn of hippies, I decided that if Ronin was to be fed, it would be homemade and organic. So I bought a bit of organic basmati (after comparing it to all the other organic options, basmati seemed a little higher in protein and fiber and lower in carbohydrates—of course whether it is best for a baby to have higher protein versus carbohydrates, I don’t know. I cut my research short in favor of not standing in the middle of the grocery aisle any longer, bouncing back and forth from bulk bin to bulk bin reading and re-reading the nutrition facts.)

Next step was to clean the coffee grinder like it had never been cleaned before. I took a photo of it actually as it was downright spectacular to look into the grinder and see my face looking back up at me.

I was a little skeptical that our ancient coffee grinder would be up to the task of making flour out of the grains so I started with the (organic! and less the consistency of small rocks) oats. Happily, our coffee grinder is awesome because it worked perfectly; the oats turned to powder in maybe ten or fifteen seconds. I cleaned it again and ground up the rice. As with the oats, the rice worked just fine, just noisier and I had to grind it longer, maybe 30 seconds or so.

To cook, I used 1 part rice powder to 4 parts water and cooked it like you might cook cream of wheat (boil water, slowly add cereal while stirring). Because the flour is so powdery, you have to be careful to add it really slowly and stir vigorously as you add it; I still got lumps so I turned the burner off and went through the stuff, smashing all lumps with my spoon before continuing. If you had a sifter that you could knock it into the pan evenly and sparingly, this might work best; maybe even knock it through a tea ball. I cooked it for around ten minutes or until it tasted totally cooked. It’s bland but a whole lot better tasting than the Gerber rice cereal, which kind of tastes like tissue paper.

Then I mixed about a teaspoon of the stuff with some breastmilk to make a runny paste and we sat a sort of grumpy Ronin down for her first meal. Naturally, we took so long to find the camera and get the lights adjusted just right for filming that she lost it while waiting for us to get our shit together and we had to pick her up and cheer her up again before trying again.

The verdict: After round one, I thought in general, it was a go. She was interested in it at first and took a few bites like she was liking it but then just sort of melted down. I don’t think the cereal really had much to do with it though—I think she was just getting tired and our timing was off. Thusly, we ended the first session prematurely and she went down for a nap shortly thereafter. Round two didn’t go so well. She took a bite then gagged. Maybe we’ll rest for a week and try again. When she’s six months old.

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Video of Ronin eating. (I can’t decide if the sound of my recorded voice or my dorky commentary is worse..)

* By a week, I mean that all the books and the Internet say that you should not start solids before six months of age. Not a day before. La la la.


Project: Stuffed Toys!

Friday, July 4th, 2008

My brilliant idea was that instead of buying one of those baby play gyms with the themes like “Rainforest Wonders” or “Noah’s Ark” that have the stuffed animals hanging for the baby to bat at, I would make my own little stuffed animals using some bright and compelling fabric scraps I had on hand (I have a lot of compelling fabric scraps on hand, have I mentioned this before?).

I was thinking I could put bells inside some of them—maybe some sort of rattley thing—or even try to find some of that crinkly plastic and stuff one of them with that. Oh, I was full of lofty ideas. In the end, I axed the idea of bells and crinkly plastic, drew some simple shapes on a piece of paper, and then cut it out for patterns. I figured, the simpler, the better and most importantly, the more likely I was to actually complete this project.

I chose a bird, a rabbit (yes, it’s really a rabbit and his name is Mr. Bun), and an octopus. My theme was “Things That Exist.”

[Or possibly, don’t.]

Cutting and sewing the critters together was pretty simple and I left an inch-long hole in the bottoms of each for stuffing. My plan was to embroider some minor detailing (I’m NOT an embroiderer and so any embellishments needed to be fairly simple) but in my excitement to have something that looked sort of almost done, I got ahead of myself and stuffed all of my critters before embroidering. Then I went back and tried to embroider the details on the bird. Embroidering on an already stuffed animal is totally stupid and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

I sewed up the bottom of the bird (and did a pretty crappy job of it too) and presented it to Ronin.

She really liked it! She immediately squished it and hugged it and then started sucking on its head.

After a while I noticed that as Ronin worried the bird, individual strands of stuffing were working their way out of the fabric. I pulled them out and gave it back to her but again, after a while, fine strands were poking out again. I finally took the bird away from her and hung it up on the activity bar that goes over the bouncy seat. She stared at it longingly. I felt really bad.

So… I’ve decided to make her another bird, this time I thought I’d use wool fuzzy stuffing that you get at the schmancy yarn and felt craft store. She’ll be allowed to swallow this one whole if she wants, all parts will be 100% biodegradable and all that good stuff.


Central East Side Industrial District

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Looking south from the Burnside Bridge in Portland, OR.


The Lesson of The Avocado and The Yam

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

[That scratch on her forehead? She clawed herself during a pissy moment and while it’s long healed, there is STILL a faint scarrish groove in her forehead. Sheesh baby!]

It’s been rather a lengthy while without the typical barrage of Ronin photos and update on all the new baby stuff she has mastered.

Baby talk. She started in with “der der der” but now favors “Ay-DA!” The der-der-ders were primarily used to yell at her toys or to rant at us when she was irritated with being dressed or put to bed.

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[This was taken a few weeks ago. Warning: it is of a lengthy, possibly only interesting to grandparents, nature.]

But she also der-der-ders at things when she is in good spirits; unfortunately, she always shuts up when I get the camera out. Here I snuck up on her and the peacock toy; this is somewhat post der-der-der transition talk.

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[Ditto the above video: grandparenty.]

She rolls over now too. I was getting worried that we’d hit six months without Ronin rolling over and the pediatrician would start to talk developmental milestones at us and get us all stressed out. The fact is, we only seldom put her on her belly because she hates it generally and will fuss herself into a full-bore shrieking frenzy if we leave her for more than four seconds (more than once barfing on the bedspread in the process). So… we tried it once upon a time, twice, and then almost never again. We figured she could hold her head up just fine and maybe someday she’ll be more interested in lying on her tummy.

[Ronin likes to suck on the nose of the elephantmouse.]

So, five months came along and I began to worry again so I started putting her on her tummy again four seconds at a time. Meanwhile Joshua and would I do acrobatics in front of her to keep her distracted and not freaking out. We would roll her from back to front, front to back, over and over, and about a week or so later she did it herself. YAY! Whew.

Sitting! Sort of. Close enough. I’ll take it! She can go 15-30 seconds or so sitting up and balancing on her own before capsizing. It helps to have something interesting to look at in front of her (a melamine measuring cup is about the hottest shit around these parts lately) and then she’ll play with the toy while bobbling a little back and forth but ultimately staying upright on her own. As soon as she gets distracted and looks up however, the momentum of her head sends her flying backward.

She also supports her weight in a standing position; for example, we can stand her facing the back of the couch and she’ll hold on and play with her toys. She gets grumpy if you try to hold her sitting in your lap. Sitting in laps is for little babies. She much prefers to be ballanced in a standing position and she’ll hang out for quite some time or until you get tired.

Still no teeth but the slobber is serious. She likes to blow raspberries now and a mouthful of thick drool makes all the difference.

She is not quite six months yet but we gave her a couple of tastes of food last week. First we tried yams. I smashed a bit and gave her a blob on my finger. I think you could sum up her reaction to the whole food thing as “Displeased.” This is a baby who wants everything in her mouth, who opens her mouth wide as you pick her up because she wants to eat you. Yet the barest hint of actual food on my finger and she clamped her mouth shut, wouldn’t open it at all. We sort of waited a while and when she opened it, I scraped it off on her gum shelf and she made a face. After gumming at it thoughtfully for a few seconds, she started to cry. A few days later we tried a bit of avocado and her reaction was more or less the same. Now when she gazes intently at us when we eat like she wants something in her mouth, we remind her of The Lesson of The Avocado and The Yam.

I want to figure out how to wean her from swaddling. Ronin is a lousy sleeper and if she is not tied down, she’ll flail herself into a kicking pissed-off and ultimately awake baby. When we wrap her in a blanket, she’ll generally be okay although she never sleeps for very long. We have tried twice to see what would happen if we didn’t swaddle. The first try we put her to sleep as usual around 7:30 but she awoke angry mere minutes later and it was not until 9:30 when we gave up and wrapped her into a tight bundle that she finally passed out for good. During this time, we alternatively bounced, rocked, patted, soothed, sang, and shushed her nonstop trying to get her to stay asleep for more than (I kid not) five seconds but she’d jerk and flail and start crying hysterically, then she’d finally suck herself to sleep again for another few seconds, then startle awake, cry tragically, etc. over and over. We actually tried it again a few nights later but during one of the midnight feeding sessions when she usually goes right back to sleep as soon as she eats. She went right to sleep and I just laid her on the bed but after about five minutes or so, she started to flail and jerk around. So I held her hands and she calmed and fell back asleep. She did this for the next three hours about every ten minutes or so and I would hold her down basically until she calmed. After I fed her the next time, I swaddled her back up and we both went to sleep. Maybe we’ll try it again in a few weeks. I worry because it’s getting warm at night again and I hate to have her bundled in a blanket.

** I would just like to add that only ONE day after I wrote this, she fell asleep for not one but TWO naps unswaddled and stayed asleep for an admirable period of time and then, THEN, that night broke out of her swaddle around 9pm but stayed asleep until 11pm or so when she woke for a feeding. Miracle. This is not the first time I bitched about something she did that I didn’t know what to do oh wah wah poor me and damned if she didn’t stop the very next day just to prove me wrong. Just goes to show that complaining works.


Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell