Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Things my one-year-old tot likes to do: frolic in water!

Desmond has loved the water since he was a wee something month old.  He would love taking baths with me and loved it infinitely more than taking a sponge bath and sitting in his bath sling and getting warm water poured over him.

Our first bath.  It looks like I'm about to strangle him...and his face shows that he knows.

Strategically placed rubber duckie.  He was a great floater.

When we were first starting to float him.  He's got the beginnings of a WTF face.
When he was first able to sit up, we immediately put him in a mini tub to see how he would handle it and boy, oh boy, he puffed his little chest out, splashed all the water, and smiled the biggest toothless smile.

That's right, my kid doesn't have any color boundaries.  He loves pink tubs, pink toothbrushes, my pink shirts...

Our sad little swimming pool in the backyard.  Even Desmond knows how sad it is.  Poor guy. 

Desmond and his cousin Nico.  Nico didn't like hanging out in the water, and especially having Desmond splash him with water.  Also, check out the gut on my kid.  Is this normal for a 1-year-old boy?  Look at Nico's taut, toned stomach. 

I'm so lucky that St. Louis has (2 that I know of) awesome little parks with water fountains that kids could splash around in.  One was in Yogi Berra park (he's a native of St. Louis) in the Italian district (The Hill) and it's just simple: a water spout coming out from the ground.  The other one is in Tower Grove Park (a lovely, lovely park) more ornate and has those hide-and-seek things where water shoots up from a hole in the ground and you don't know where or when it will shoot out next.  Des loved both fountains immensely.

The first time we went to the simple fountain, we happened upon it by accident.  We were touring The Hill and had just gotten some gelato.  I still had 2 more hours before Billy was due back from school and I had seen a little park with some swings as I was looking for a parking space.  We went over and found the fountain.  I cursed myself for not thinking ahead and packing his swimmies diapers and swim shirt.  I looked around.  The park was deserted save for a few kids playing soccer in the field.  "Screw it."  I sat him down on the periphery of the fountain, enough so that his feet would get wet.

Starting off...

Inching closer and closer...

and getting soaked.
  The next week, we went to Tower Grove Park to check out the water fountain there.  Oh my was like waterworks heaven.  Desmond was so excited he was literally...and I use that word in every aspect of its meaning...shaking.  He almost fell over he was shaking so hard.  I made sure to smear some sunscreen on him, then sent him on his way.  I was kind of grossed out a bit because I hadn't thought of buying him some water shoes (coincidentally, that weekend, I opened a giant garbage bag full of clothes that Christy had given me and lo and behold, there were some water shoes) since all I could think about is ringworm and all sorts of other footborne diseases.

I mean, how gorgeous is this fountain?  Desmond kept tripping over those little bumps (they housed spotlights for the fountain) and I would run over in my flip flops and skirt to make sure he was ok, but he would only look up at me and laugh.  and I would get wet.

Done for the day.  Isn't his little surf outfit cute?
We give Des a bath every evening before his bedtime.  He has cut down from never wanting to get out of the bath to getting out of the bath 10 minutes into bath time.  He stands up (we had to get him this little bath mat so he wouldn't bonk his head...and a cover for the faucet because one time, he stood up and Billy and I, although both sitting by the tub, he slipped and hit his face on the faucet.  It was the corner of his eye and it was bleeding so profusely...scary, scary, scary) and starts climbing out.  However, we were lucky to have gotten this video of him:

What a cheeky kid, eh? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Christy P!

It was April of 2007 and I drove up to Research Park wearing a pant suit, carrying some fancy leather-bound organizer, and google map directions.  I was nervous because I was getting ready to meet with the director and a professor for an interview for acceptance into the public health program.  I was told who would be interviewing me and I remember trying desperately to figure out what the lady on the other end of the phone was saying.  "You'll be interviewing with George White and Christy Porucznik."  "Christy, what was her last name?" "Porucznik." I think I scribbled down P-E-R-U-S-N-I-C-K. 

I came into the interview room, nervous, sat down and began.  I don't think she asked any questions.  She just scribbled some notes now and again (looking back, they might have been part of her to-do list or new research ideas...:)) and didn't say a word.  I was terrified and of course, thought I blew the interview and had moved out to Utah for a stupid boy and no higher education prospects. 

And then I got in.  I had a few classes where Christy (Dr. Porucznik, that is) would come in and lecture about a topic, but didn't actually have her in a class until my second year of my masters for Infectious Disease Epidemiology (she is an epidemiologist by training and did her dissertation work in infectious disease epi).  As do most who take a class from her, I really enjoyed it (and I'm not just saying that because it's her birthday!)  

From University of Utah, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Public Health

However, I really got to know Christy outside of the classroom, where she became my go-to person for all of my pregnancy, nursing, and mothering dilemmas.  I remember the first time I told her that I was pregnant.  She looked at me as many did, unsure of how to assess the situation.  Should she say congrats?  Should she just say wow?  Later, she wrote me a short and sweet email telling me how happy she was for me. 

From that point on, she became a repository of information.  She provided me with so much: advice, clothes, books, diapers, etc.  She taught me how to wear Desmond.  She taught me the basics of cloth diapering.  She coached me through breastfeeding Desmond.  I adopted several of her beliefs and parenting attitudes.  She let me come over and eat her delicious food and play with her beautiful kids.  I have learned so much, not only about public health, but also about how to be a better mother.  I truly believe that had I not had her support throughout my pregnancy and throughout the last year, I would have been a totally different mother.

Dinner at the Porucznik's.

So, Happy Birthday to a woman that I'm proud to call a teacher, mentor, and friend. 

What a 1-year old likes to do for fun

The rage at Casa Reeves-Thomas is books.  Desmond is all about the books: my books, dad's books, his books...if it's got a cover and you can flip the pages, he loves it.  The book doesn't even need to have pictures in it (his go-to book in my bookshelf is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's In the Time of Cholera), although he seems to prefer books that have pictures in it.  In reality, I think he likes pulling the books off the shelf and having me chase after him and telling him no and putting them back.  The kid thinks it's the funnest game ever invented and he'll squeal with glee and quickly run away from me to get to more books.  Sometimes, he gets so excited that he trips over his own feet and then starts crying.  Talk about manic-depressive...

One of the first sightings of Desmond being interested in books

Looks like Auntie Kseniya is more interested in his book than Desmond is.  It's because she was an English major.

His favorite books are the ones that have sing-songy rhymes.  His Grandma Donna got him his most favorite book: The Lady with the Alligator Purse.  Remember that book?  Miss Lucy had a baby, his name was Tiny Tim...  As soon as Desmond hears the sing-songy cadence of those first few lines, he throws his right hand up by his head and starts to wiggle his bottom and dance.  

You can probably find this book used at a used bookstore or library sale, or you can buy it on Amazon.
He also loves tactile books, the books with things poking out of them or where you can feel the "fur" on the doggy, kitten, bird, etc.  He also particularly enjoys any book that makes music.  

Although reading The Lady with the Alligator Purse and the Ladybugs book (5 little ladybugs sitting on the shore, along came a fish, then there were 4! Little ladybugs...) over and over and over ad nauseam is causing my brain to atrophy, it's starting to pay off: although this has only happened once, it still means that Des is learning something and showing me that the brain that I gestated is worthy of my admiration and respect.  If I say, in Spanish, of course, Des, go get lady with the alligator purse, he'll go to his basket of books, look around, and pull it out.  He did it with 2 other of his favorite books.  

Yes, Des is a boxer-briefs guy.  Here he is going through his baskets of toys and books.  Each basket has a specific type of toy: wooden ones and books on the bottom and soft toys on the top.

All the books always say that it's important to read to your baby, starting from day 1 (if you have the energy...I'd recommend week 2.  By that time, you're in a routine and probably need to do something to keep you from some of the boredom of being alone with a newborn).  I started off reading google reader blogs to Desmond out loud.  Then, I tried to initiate a "bedtime routine" that consisted of bath, books, and feeding.  He wasn't having any nonsense about a routine (he must have been 6 months at the time).  Now, whenever we're in his room for quiet play time, he'll pull out book after book for me to read to him.  Sometimes, he'll come and sit on my lap while I read.  As much as I complain about how tedious it is to read puerile books all day to a child with the attention span of a goldfish, I get such a surge of warm, motherly, protective, and proud feelings when he hands me a book and sits in my lap.  You bet that instead of rushing through the book to get it over with, I take my time and point out all of the people and things in the pictures and let him turn the pages when he wants.  I give him tons of kisses on the top of his head and end each reading session (where he's sitting on my lap) with tickles.

So excited for his new book...a touch and feel book from his Madrina Annie.

He freaking loves birds. 
OK...that last paragraph sounded like it was straight out of those cheesy parenting books that has the perfect family all holding hands and running through a field showered with sunlight.  That ain't my life most days, although when I see Des wanting to read and cultivating that wonderful gift of loving to learn (and listen and dance), then that nice sunlight does make its way into my house.  Only just a bit, though...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Birthday weekend: The big 3-0!

I remember 8 years ago, talking to my BFF Annie on the phone on my birthday and telling her that "there it was...22...looming before me like two tombstones."  22 meant being a real adult...having to go out into the real world and out of the enveloping cocoon of liberal arts undergraduate dorm life.  Back then, I had my life planned out: graduate at 22, finish grad school at 26, get married, and have kids by 28. 

This year, I turned 30 and, although I have a few gray hairs, a saggier gut, and a little human, I still feel like I'm 22, although I wish I had the energy of my 22-year-old self.  So for my birthday this year, I had dropped major hints to Billy that I wanted an iPad.  He kept telling me that we couldn't afford it, I'd pout, drop the subject, and then ask drop the hint again 1 week later. 

Instead of an iPad, however, Billy got me the craziest best gift ever: he flew out 3 of my best girlfriends (girls I've known since before I was 22) to Salt Lake City from Ohio and West Virginia.  They had all planned this elaborate surprise where one girl would show up, say surprise! and I'd be surprised and then the next would do the same.  3 Huge surprises in the span of a few hours: you betcha I almost peed myself from excitement (I say ALMOST because my bladder control has seriously improved over the past year.  Although that is something that is definitely not the same as it was 8 years ago).  They spent a few days in SLC and then left.  It was the most perfect birthday gift ever.  Although an iPad wouldn't have left so soon.  Just sayin'...

Jen, Kaip, and Annie.  At Ruth's Diner.

On the grounds of the Mormon Temple.  Kaip: "This looks like Disney World in here."

Desmond and Auntie Kaip. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What a 1-year-old least, what MY 1-year-old eats

We've had a very laissez-faire approach to feeding Desmond solids.  He started off with avocado as his first food and moved on to pureed varieties of several foods (squash, sweet potatoes, etc).  That lasted about a month or so and then we just started mashing and grinding our leftovers and giving it to him and, it turned out, he enjoyed our food so much more than his slightly more bland baby food. 

Des enjoying his first taste of avocado.  He now prefers his avocado guacamole'd.

He loves spices: cinnamon, curry, chipotle powder...The kid definitely has a penchant for worldly flavors.  He gets it after me.  Seriously.  I loved eating Thai food, Indian food, and Mexican food while I was pregnant.  I mean, Ekamai Thai and Chipotle burritos were my go-to foods throughout the week.  All that deliciousness was emanating from my guts, into my bloodstream, and into his amnio-pod.  So, the whole time, Des was just swimming in amniotic fluid that smelled (and probably tasted) like garlic, curry, and cilantro.  Don't believe me?  What happens when you eat a shit ton of garlicky pickles and then go work out?  You emanate garlic from your pits.  What happens when you buy a round of cheese from a cow that ate chives and garlic shoots at pasture?  The cheese tastes like garlicky onions.  Still don't believe me?  Read (or listen to) this article from NPR:

But Mennella says that not only is the amniotic fluid and breast milk in humans flavored by food just like cows, but memories of these flavors are formed even before birth. That could result in preferences for these foods or odors for a lifetime. In other words, if you eat broccoli while you're pregnant, there's a much better chance your baby will like broccoli.

Of course he's declined several foods over the last few months (just recently, he declined a deliciously creamy potato soup I made), but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get him to try everything and maybe end up liking good-for-him stuff in the long run.  First of all, sometimes, he'll just be in a mood to assert his independence and want to wear his big-boy shorts and he'll turn his head when I offer him food.  At this point, I'll have known he's hungry (either he hasn't eaten for a while or he'll blatantly point to his treat cup...those cups with those weird lids on it that kids could stick their hands in and get treats out).

Munchkin snack catchers

So, I'll patiently wait until he opens his mouth then pop some of that food right into his gullet.  Usually he spits it out right away, but once he can process the taste, he'll ask for more. 

Second, I have been letting him try to feed himself with a spoon or just his hands.  He thinks this is fun and will actually try to put the spoon into his mouth and inadvertently end up tasting the delicious meal I lovingly made just for him (read: last night's dinner leftovers). 

Des eating a whole tomato like it was an apple.  He finished probably 1/4 of it.

Des with yogurt all over his face.

Third, if he absolutely wants nothing to do with it, I don't push it.  I take him out of his high chair, put the leftovers that are stuck to the tray on the floor (the dogs lick it off.  What?  It's less for me to clean when I go clean the tray off in the sink), and wash him off.  I will make a mental note that today he didn't like steamed broccoli, but maybe next week I'll put a dash of zatarain's on it and maybe he'll eat it.
First taste of gazpacho with Grandma Donna at the Farmer's Market.  He initially disliked it.
Asking for more after the initial first bite.

Point is, a baby who's able to crawl and can grasp stuff pretty adroitly (and I am using adroitly very loosely), can probably handle grown-up food, mashed according to dental capacity (Des has 6 teeth now and he's on to eating slices of apple, albeit not very well yet).  Feeding Des our leftovers actually has made me cook more nutritious, whole-food meals for ourselves (whole food as in no processed, usually vegetarian foods, not necessarily bought at Whole Foods).  Right now, I would say that his calories are half grown-up food and half milk. 

What we need to work on now is how to curb his growing love and crackhead affinity for treats (those organic O's that you can buy that are like apple flavored).  He loves that stuff and if he even sees the tub of Os out in the open, he'll shriek like a banshee and point and say "ugh ugh ugh."  I think part of it is that he loves being able to carry a portable source of food and he'll walk around waving his treat cup all over the place and handing treats to the dogs.  Unlike me, who never likes to share what's on her plate, he's a very generous consumer of food. 

Business lunch.  Des is CONSTANTLY on his blackberry.

Saw some treats go by on a tray.  This is his "ugh ugh ugh" face.  He's grasping an animal cracker in his hand.

So, point is, don't be shy about giving your kid different non-Gerber food.  Get him used to different, APPROPRIATELY mashed/cut/torn food so that he turns out to (hopefully) be a lover of good, delicious, wholesome, and healthy food. 

Des is lucky to have his godmother Jen, who makes incredible raw and vegan food, like this nut-based dip.  Des LOVED all of the raw food Jen gave him.  Dead serious. 

Munching on a carrot dipped in some nut-paté.  Look at his healthy glow!

Disclaimer: we have given Des french fries.  Once.  At the airport when he was FREAKING out and we were ready to board the plane.  And I've given him some of my chocolate malt shake when I was out in small-town Missouri looking at antique shops.  I don't let it guilt trip me; I figure that a heavily restricted diet will lead Desmond to grow up, rebel, and binge on McDonald's every day for lunch in high school (just like happens sometimes with teens and other abstinence-only programs...let's not get me started on that.)

Feeding Des some ice cream in Colombia.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My kid's head is HUGE.

I mean, he's in the 90th percentile for head circumference and barely breaking the 20th percentile for everything else that they measure (weight, height, etc).  Billy is partly to blame, since he's got a rather large head (it suits him and his body perfectly, though) but I also think it's because Desmond has an Einstein-like brain.  There's a reason that humans have brains that are proportionally the largest when compared to their bodies in the entire animal kingdom (don't quote me on that...I swear I learned that in high school).

Don't let the drool and the goofy ruler/magnifier fool ya; before this picture was taken, Desmond was designing a mid-century modern dog house for Pirate and Hanzo.

Here he is assessing the maze.  You can almost see the brain waves emanating from his tow head.

In 3 seconds flat, Desmond had this Inception-like maze figured out and solved.  Brilliant.  My boy needs to go visit Oprah at OWN.

He gets the genius from me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My first time traveling alone with an almost one-year-old baby

My last day in Salt Lake City was June 27.  Billy and friends helped to pack our entire little house into a 14-foot U-Haul truck.

Expert packing
We had a nice going-away potluck party at Higher Ground and all our dearest and nearest were kind enough to show up and say bye.

PH geeks

My friend and mentor, Christy, with her adorable son Quinn.

HGL folks
 Billy left and drove halfway across the country to St. Louis.  I stayed with his parents for a few days before I, too, made the trek.  Except I flew.  Alone.  With an 11-month-old.

Des spending time with Grandma Donna.

He was obsessed with those windchimes.  But cool thing about having an almost-toddler, you get killer guns by holding them up to see stuff all the time.  My left arm is noticeably stronger than my right.
At the airport, getting ready for our flight and blowing off some of that energy.

I spent the last few days before our flight adjusting Desmond's sleep schedule slightly so that when 3pm hit, he would be ready for a nap...right on time for take-off.  And yes, he's wearing a different outfit because, as we're standing in line to board, I hear this earth-rumbling noise and then the smell....God, the smell.  The nearest bathroom is at the other end of the terminal, so I say, screw it!  and changed him right at the gate.  I got several disapproving looks from my fellow passengers but better then than on the plane.  Jerks.
Since Desmond doesn't sleep as much as he used to, I have to have several backup entertainment options for him.  He constantly wants to touch the light and air valve thing above us and wants to play with the window shade so that he could slam it down, push it up, slam it down, push it up and annoy everyone within 5 rows of us.  So, I made sure to put away some choice toys of his while we were at Grandma's so that I could pull them out on the plane and it'd be like having new toys.  I bought one new special toy from Kid to Kid and put them all in a tupperware container.  I also made sure to include some healthier treats (fruit puree and those organic O's) and some not-so-healthy ones (Grandma Donna's chocolate chip cookies).  I also brought a juice that he could sip on. 

Do you want to know what kept him the most occupied, though?  The free headphones they gave us on the plane.  He mouthed those ear pieces for minutes at a time.  He also loved the plastic cups they gave me for water (I asked for 2: one for him and one for me).  At this point in Des's life, he's still controllable in that I could hold onto him and he doesn't spill into the seat next to me and get drool and cookie crumbs all over the old lady with the perfectly coiffed silver hair and the heavy perfume.  However, I still have 1 more year left of free flights for him, and although I'm going to take full advantage of that fact, I'm dreading having to fly alone with him again. 

Otherwise, the trip (with a layover in Denver of 4!!!! hours...found the kiddie play area, thank God!) was a success and we made it to St. Louis safe and sort of sound.