Sunday, October 28, 2012

adventures of isabel by ogden nash

i was going to say that this is one of my favourite poems for children, but it's actually just one of my favourite poems.
isabel is my idea of a role model.

Friday, October 26, 2012

baby noms: chicken, mushroom and thyme

i reeeeally hate mushrooms, but i don't want to pass my food aversions on to arty. i want him to try everything, and enjoy as much as he can. so with that in mind, this is my attempt at a baby food recipe involving mushrooms.

chicken, mushroom and thyme


200g chicken mince
2 cups potato, peeled and diced
1 cup field mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, bruised
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tbsp butter

  • in a small saucepan, boil the potatoes until tender
  • meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, melt the butter, then add onions, mushrooms and thyme. cook until mushrooms have absorbed all the butter, and onions have softened
  • add the chicken mince, and fry until cooked through.
  • combine potatoes with the chicken mixture, and puree to a texture suitable for your baby. 

this is a good one to leave some larger pieces in or babies who are just moving on from purees, because all the ingredients are quite soft, and easy to chew.

i didn't taste it, on account of the dreaded mushrooms, but sj said it was delicious, and made me give her the odd mouthful as i fed it to arty, so i think it's a winner.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

treating the dreaded cold sores

one of the most consistent symptoms of a flare up in my illness is the arrival of cold sores. i usually get them around my lips, but sometimes inside my nose and on other parts of my face.
they are painful, and they are ugly, and that used to be what bothered me most about them. you feel disfigured, contagious, infested, and vile when you have sores on your face, and it's just awful.

but now, the thing that upsets me most about them is the fact that i can't kiss my baby when i have them. it goes against my every instinct to hold back from smooching his cheeks, and kissing his belly.
to turn my face away when he goes to press his little lips to my cheek for one of his slobbery baby kisses breaks my heart.

to make matters worse i don't get any early warning signs for my cold sores. some people can nip them in the bud because they get a tingling feeling before the sore emerges, but mine just come from nowhere.

so what do i do?

i find that taking lysine (with vitamin c and zinc) helps reduce the severity and duration of the sores. i take it pretty regularly as a preventative measure too, but a bad flare up will come with cold sores regardless.
in my case, something more is needed.

happily, i recently discovered tinderbox's cold sore balm, and it is absolutely the best treatment i have ever used for this problem. it doesn't have any chemicals in it, but it is still incredibly effective. it contains white camphor, melaleuca, myrrh, peppermint and benzoin - all excellent germ killers.

applied topically, it helps to dry up and heal the lesions so much faster than anything else i've tried.
this stuff has earned a permanent place in our medicine cabinet. i simply can't recommend it enough.

nb: this is not a sponsored post - i have not received any incentive to write it. i'm just sharing my opinion of the product.

Monday, October 22, 2012

respecting our baby's body

it is extremely important to sj ad i that we are always respectful of arty's body.
how we do this will change as he grows, and his needs and abilities change. right now, as a baby, he has little capacity nor opportunity to express his preferences and boundaries. so how do we show respect to him, and begin to give him a sense of physical autonomy?

first and foremost is keeping his body safe, warm, and nourished. these are his rights, and it is our privilege and responsibility to make sure they are always met.
part of this, to us, means immunizing him, to protect him from disease. it also means refraining from circumcising him, or doing anything else to physically alter his body before he is old enough to choose it for himself.

but i think our job goes further than that.

part of the carer/baby relationship means that the adult is largely doing stuff to the baby. we have to physically carry him around from place to place, dress and undress him, make decisions about what food and medicine goes into his body. there isn't much we can do about that power imbalance, but we can control our approach, the attitude we take to being so responsible for this small person.

if we are going to do something surprising, out of the ordinary, or uncomfortable to him, we always warn him verbally.
for example, if i am about to wipe his bottom with a cold wipe i say "cold on your bits!" and put it on his hand first, so he knows what's coming. that way he is not so startled. likewise, when we are about to put him in the bath, we always tell him so.

we do our best to respond to the cues that he gives us about physical closeness. while we love to kiss and snuggle him, and he loves to kiss and snuggle with us, he's not always in the mood for it. sometimes when we're playing he'll push us away, and we have to respect that he doesn't want us to keep doing whatever we're doing (poking his nose, tickling his tummy, squishing his cheeks). when we go to kiss him and he turns away, we never force him. he is allowed to have boundaries with physical affection, just like an older child or adult, and we don't ever want to violate them.

finally, while i put plenty of pictures here on the blog for his family and friends to coo over, i will never post naked baby pictures of him on the internet. while every mum has a couple of those, and we are no exception, putting them online is that's a line that i'm not comfortable crossing.

as an overarching principle, i always try to exercise empathy with arty, and ask myself how i would feel in his position.
what is it like to be picked up and carried around all the time? how does it feel to be tickled so you laugh that hard? would i like it? would it make me uncomfortable?

it's so important to us that he feels safe in his body, and confident in his ability to create boundaries with people. we want to model the kind of behaviour we'll expect from him once he's old enough to take responsibility for his own actions, and it's difficult to know how to be respectful of others, when you haven't been shown that respect yourself.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

dear arthur: nine months

my dear little boy,

you are nine months old today! you have officially spent more time out in the world than you did in my tummy. that's pretty amazing.

your biggest achievement this month has been learning to crawl. it has been so fascinating to watch you go from just holding your head up, to pushing up with your arms, getting up on your hands and knees, rocking, and finally taking off. it's been the work of many months, and your mummy and i are just unspeakably proud of the effort you've put in and the strength and determination you've shown. you can get around on your own now, and while that means we have to keep a very close eye on your movements, we're just so happy for you and excited that you have this newfound independence.


you finally got some payoff for all that teething work you've been doing too. your top four front teeth have now well and truly emerged from beneath your gums, taking your tooth-count up to six! you are very much enjoying biting and chewing things with them, particularly your spoons during mealtimes.

your social skills are developing very quickly. when you're hanging out with a bunch of grown-ups and we all laugh at something, you do a little laugh too, as though you want us to think you get the joke.  it is pretty gorgeous.

speaking of gorgeous, you've started doing this adorable little head tilt when you grin at people. i've been trying to catch it on camera, but i haven't managed to yet. it is so completely disarming, that i'm pretty sure you could couple it with the most outlandish request and instantly be granted what you wanted.
"what's that, arty? you want a pony? no, i don't think-"
*head tilt*
"hang on, i'll just nip down to the pony shop. will one be enough?"

you've started showing a real interest in hand gestures, and particularly in songs with actions. you love twinkle twinkle, and incey wincey spider - anything with hand movements. we're making the most of this interest, and beginning to introduce baby sign language to you, but i'll write more about that another time.                                            

the new routine we implemented last month is suiting us all very well. we don't stick to it religiously every day (sometimes things come up!), but it's certainly how we structure most of our days. we think you like knowing when to expect things like main meals, bottles, and rest. it is definitely helping you relax into your naps and night sleep.

you are such a cheerful, funny, clever little lad. i love spending my days with you - watching as you discover your world, and find delight in so much. your smiles are infectious, and your laugh is still the most wonderful sound i have ever heard. i love you so very, very much!

your mama xxx

Friday, October 19, 2012

baby noms: beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger

i've been trying to think of a way to prepare beetroot for arty, because it makes a change from the more standard root veg, and it's such very good food.

inspiration came while flicking through wholefood for children by jude blereau. i've altered her recipe somewhat, but the basic flavours and ingredients are from that excellent book.
my main change was to add apple for sweetness, because beetroot can sometimes be a little bitter.

beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger


5 baby beetroots, scrubbed and quartered
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped
1 large sweet apple, peeled and grated
1 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated


  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • place beetroot and carrot in a baking dish with a drizzle of water, cover with aluminium foil and bake until tender (approx 45 mins)
  • remove from oven, and place in blender with butter and grated apple
  • as you blend, add little pinches of fresh ginger to taste. it should give a hint of flavour without becoming overwhelming (remember that your baby's taste buds are much more sensitive than yours, so err on the side of caution)

this puree is the most magnificent magenta when it's finished. yum!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

would suit someone with similar sock

babies constantly jettison socks, hats, toys, and other miscellaneous belongings from their prams. sometimes people pick them up and put them on a fence post or tree in he hope that their owners will pass that way again and find the lost item. i've passed many of these in my time, and always wondered if they get picked up again, or just languish there until they get blown away, or put in the bin.

today, at least one of those items was returned to it's rightful home. as we were walking after breakfast, we found one of arty's socks tucked in the fence of one of the houses we regularly pass as we stroll around the neighbourhood.

people are nice around here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

baby noms: roasted pear and parsnip with fig and maple

i think this may well be one of the most delicious baby noms i've made yet. it sounds like it will be super sweet, but it's actually very mellow. the maple is added for flavour rather than sweetness, and is more than balanced by the parsnip. i highly recommend it!

roasted pear and parsnip with fig and maple


5 dried figs (any hard stalks removed)
3 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped
1 large parsnip, scrubbed and chopped
approx 1 tbsp butter
approx 1 tbsp maple syrup


  • place figs in a bowl of hot water to soak while you prepare the other fruit and vegetables. they should soak for at least an hour or so, in order to rehydrate enough to mash or puree. reserve the water when they are finished.
  • preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • place the parsnips and pears in a baking dish. add the butter, in small pieces on top, then drizzle with the maple syrup.
  • bake for around 15 minutes, then toss them around a bit.
  • continue to bake until all have softened, and some have begun to go golden.
  • remove from oven, then combine with the soaked figs to puree or mash, using some of your reserved water to adjust consistency.

the butter and maple are really only there to add a hint of flavour and provide a little moisture for the roasting process. it's not necessary to add lashings of either.

this is delicious mixed with yoghurt or ricotta, and makes are really great breakfast for babies and toddlers.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

meeting talia and lior

this morning arty and i met our friends talia and lior for the first time.

talia and i became friends through the wonders of craftiness, blogging and twitter, while we were both pregnant. she and her husband luke welcomed lior exactly six days before arty was born, and our two little boys have been growing up in parallel for the best part of the last nine months.
talia and i are both avid instagrammers, so we've both seen a lot of each other, and each other's families. as a result, today didn't really feel like a first meeting.

arty took to talia straight away, and gave her some top quality snuggles. the boys shared a fruit plate, and made a mess of our little table, while their mamas chatted away. it was a lovely way to spend a morning.

thanks for coming down our way, talia and lior. we'll see you again soon! x

Friday, October 5, 2012

baby noms: quinoa, carrot and sweet potato

in our neighbourhood, we have a man who sells organic veggies off the back of his truck. he does the rounds at unspecified times, so you have to listen out for his megaphone, and when you hear it you have to dash out and hail him down to see what kind of goodies he has.

the other day he came by, and had some delicious looking sweet potatoes, so i bought them with the intention of using them to make babynoms for arty. it wasn't til i cut into them that i discovered they were purple! excellent!

arty really loves sweet potato, pumpkin, and other root veg, and they're great on their own, but they're also nice with grains and pulses.
i wanted to give him a try of quinoa, since it's such a fantastically nutritious grain, and the grains are of a size and texture that are good for where he's at with getting to grips with his solids (i.e. in between purees and really chunky foods).

quinoa, carrot and sweet potato


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water or stock
1 medium sweet potato (it doesn't have to be purple - any kind will do!), diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil


  • place quinoa and liquid into a small saucepan, and bring to the boil.
  • lower heat, then continue to cook for 10-15 mins, until water is absorbed (like cooking rice)
  • in a medium saucepan, sautee onions in olive oil until they just begin to brown.
  • add carrots and sweet potato to the onion pan, cover with water, and boil until tender.
  • drain the veg, reserving about a cup of the water.
  • puree the veg, adding some of the reserved water as necessary to aid the process.
  • combine quinoa and pureed veg in a bowl, then divide into portions and freeze.

the texture of this one was new to arty, so he needed to have a few very small mouthfuls to get used to it, before getting properly stuck in.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

you are the most important person in the world... and you are not.

arty is inheriting a massive amount of privilege by being born male, white, wealthy, and able bodied. he didn't ask for this, and i never want him to feel guilty about being born lucky, but by the same token i want him to be aware of this privilege, the power it gives him, and the fact that this power is not something that it is ever ok to abuse or take for granted.

it's incredibly important to us that he has confidence in himself, that his self esteem is strong, and that he likes himself. this is his best insurance of happiness and success in life, and the best defence he has against mental illness,  and unhealthy relationships.

i want him to know that he is the most important person in the universe to us. that as far as we are concerned, there is nobody more wonderful, precious, or beloved on the face of this blue earth.
but i also want him to know that as a person his is no more important or valuable than any other human being. his rights are no more or less worthy of defence, his needs are no more or less worthy of being met.

i really hope that sj and i can parent him in a way that gives him a sense of both of these things, and the fact that they don't have to conflict. i'm not sure exactly how we'll do it, but i'm pretty sure it will involve reading, travelling, and talking together, being observant, mindful, and critical of our actions and our worlds, and loving each other and the people around us as honestly and and as hard as we can.