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Category: Mama Blog

Trader Joe’s

I went to Trader Joe’s without Z this afternoon. It felt strange. Strangely relaxing first of all, especially since I normally hate grocery shopping. But I got myself a chai latte, got a cart even though I probably could have fit everything in a basket, and took my time strolling down each aisle, no list, no hurry, no little hands grabbing for everything on the shelves, and no one paying me any mind. I felt invisible – like without Zeke I’m not really there.

There was a woman in line in front of me who had an adorable little dog in her cart. And she was talking to everyone, smiling and answering questions and petting his little head. And I suddenly wanted to shout to everyone that I have a little boy who is unbelievably cute and if he were with me he would be smiling and waving at you all right now! But instead I just blended in with all the pet-less, baby-less people in line and quietly paid for my groceries (no balloon for me) and walked out. And it struck me that in less than a year I’ve gone from being Mia, to being Zeke’s mom, even when he’s not with me.

PS: This is what happens when we’re careless with the boy at Trader Joe’s.


two teeth – he crunches!

Z finally, FINALLY is getting a second tooth – the upper level partner of his first one. This looks a little strange since most babies get two on the bottom, then two on the top, not one on top of the other, but we know our boy is special in many ways. In any case, this new tooth allows him to really bite things, and today we heard his first crunch – on a Cheerio, of course. I never knew a crunch could be so cute. It’s funny, too, because Z knows something is different in his mouth. Before he would just pop the whole Cheerio and suck on until it melted. Now he’s holding it between his two teeth and biting off tiny little pieces. Very hamster-like.

I’ll just add that I really wish we could get him to eat something else as consistently as he eats Cheerios. The problem is something we call the grab and squish. Basically, anything else we’ve tried to give him that he’s capable of picking up with his hands but soft enough that he can chew without choking gets completely pulverized the minute he gets it in his little mitts. And it’s not like he squishes it and then puts it in his mouth. Maybe we should call it the grab, squish and toss across the room (or into mama’s face, or at the wall, or in his hair, eyes, ears, etc..) Or, he’ll grab, squish, and smear it all over his high chair tray so the only way he could actually eat it is if he would lick the tray. (He does try to eat the tray occasionally, but not in the places he’s smeared food. He seems to like the taste of pure plastic.)

Oh yeah, and he’s also discovered that if you put food in your mouth, put your lips together and blow, you get a really strong reaction from your parents. Oh dear.

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10 months – he waves and the world is his

I finally know what Dave’s mom is talking about when she says it was impossible to take baby Dave to the supermarket. Z started waving last week, an adorable opening and closing of his little hand that just kills me (and everyone else). Combine that with his ridiculous one-toothed grin, his giant blue eyes, and his incessant babbling and we can’t go anywhere without people stopping to coo and fuss. All this is tempered by the occasional head-turning, nerve-rattling shriek that makes me want to hide. But on the whole, Z is just off the charts with charm and adorableness.

The waving is just one of the many big changes we’ve seen over the past few weeks. Z is finally rolling – something most babies do around 4 months. He’ll actually choose to roll onto his belly to check out a particular toy, and he’s even napped belly down a handful of times. He’s still made no move toward crawling, but he will lurch forward onto his belly from a sitting position in order to reach something and occasionally do that swimming thing where he flails his arms and legs but doesn’t actually go anywhere.

His absolute favorite thing to do now, though, is to pull himself up on our fingers and “walk” around. Oddly enough, he won’t pull himself up on anything else – even though we encourage it. I think he likes the little extra pull we can’t help but give him. But once he’s up, he walks, jumps, bounces, kicks, and generally acts like a maniac all over the house. I’m not sure how this crazy legs maneuvering will translate into actual walking, but it’s pretty cute.



I learned something new about parenting this week. If you think your kid is teething, but you’re really not sure, HE IS NOT TEETHING. For months now, Z has gone through bouts of excessive drooling, chewing on everything, sticking his fingers all over his mouth, and of course his standard fussiness. And all along we figured he was teething and would check his mouth each morning for a shiny new tooth.

About a week ago, it finally happened! Without much fanfare, a tiny little white spot showed up on the bottom left side. And now the fun begins. First, he stopped eating solids. He screams every time we put him in the high chair, clamps his mouth shut, and pushes the spoon away – splattering food everywhere. Tonight, Dave was finally able to get him to eat a jar of baby food, picnic-style in the living room. But other than that, he hasn’t eaten anything other than a few pieces of frozen banana and a handful of cheerios dipped in water.

Thankfully, he’s still nursing, but it’s like he’s completely regressed to 6 months when we were first trying to get him to eat. On top of that, he’s had all the other fun teething symptoms: fever, diarrhea, diaper rash, and of course, extreme fussiness. These teething issues didn’t last more than a week, though. His gums are so red and swollen and he has a red rash all over his face. (I think his saliva is so toxic that when he puts his fingers in his mouth and then touches his face, his poor, sensitive skin completely breaks out.)

I had a dream a few weeks ago that Zeke got all his teeth at once, and it seems that’s not so far off from what’s actually happening. We can see at least three places where teeth are trying to break through, poor guy. We’re doing our best to keep him comfortable – dosing him with tylenol and teething tablets, giving him cold water and frozen toys to suck on, and letting him nurse whenever he wants. But I will be very glad when this stage is over.

On a positive note, it’s fun to watch him explore this new strange thing in his mouth. He likes to clink his tooth on cups and toys, and he keeps sticking his tounge out, presumably feeling how it rubs against the bumps on his gums. Too cute.


girls, girls, girls

All of my dear college friends have girls so far, and with two more babies due last month, I was sure at least ONE of them would be a boy. But NO! Two more girls!

Baby Celeste (with big sisters Enya and Nola), born February 5, 2009

Baby Rosemary, born February 25, 2009

These lovely ladies join Daliah, Sofia, and Lily Ruth. I guess this means I’ll have to keep waiting for another boy in the group to help support my (very weak) argument that boy babies are more difficult than girl babies. (All the babes present their own challenges of course, but Z still seems to win the prize. Lucky me.) I can only imagine that Zekey is going to be one popular guy (after a few years of it not mattering at all followed by a few years of complete awkwardness).

Baby Z, my little ladies man.

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Watching Z eat cheerios (Joe’s O’s actually) is one of the highlights of my day. I swear he would be perfectly content eating nothing but cheerios all day every day. It must be satisfying for him to be able to pick something up that doesn’t just squish through his fingers. We have yet to find another finger food that he’s able to get into his mouth before he pulverizes it.

Here’s a probably (definitely) way too long video of one of his first cheerio exploits about a month ago. He’s gotten much more adept at it since then. Incidentally, I promised myself I would never post a video longer than one minute, but I couldn’t possibly choose what part of this to edit out. I have no doubt that someone who is not Z’s mom or grandma could get it down to 30 seconds or less. For the rest of you – I apologize.


baby food

I am a terrible cook. Or rather, I’m terrible at the process of cooking. I don’t like to follow recipes, but I have no innate cooking talent to speak of, or past experience to draw from. I get bored prepping food and I get completely stressed once it’s time to start actually cooking. Hot stoves make me very nervous.

But for some reason, I really enjoy making baby food! First, it usually only involves one ingredient. Second, because you have to cook the crap out of that ingredient, there’s no pressure. You just put the heat on and leave it for a long time. And there’s no mystery about when it’s done. If it’s mushy and unrecognizable as whatever it started out as, it’s finished! And then comes the really fun part – the immersion blender. It’s like a power tool for the kitchen and I love it. You can use it in the same pot you cooked the food in so you don’t have to make an extra bowl dirty. Joy, joy.

Unlike regular cooking, you cook once and the meal lasts for many weeks. Plus, there’s something so organizationally satisfying about the colorful little cubes of food sitting in the freezer that we can mix and match for Z’s meals. He seems to like everything we give him. (Some textures, like chick peas and split peas, are a bit tricky, but he powers through with only a little gagging.)

The best part, of course, is that I feel like I’m doing something good for Zekey. I have no problem with jarred food, but when I cook it myself, I know exactly where the food has come from and exactly what’s in it. The homemade stuff has more texture then the jarred stuff and it holds together better which means slightly less mess at mealtimes.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when he wants his food to actually look and taste like food, but for now, I’m feeling like the Martha Stewart of steamed carrots.

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visit to the derm

We saw the dermatologist today. Z has been diagnosed with moderate to severe eczema which is the cause of all his rashiness. The good news is that we now have very a specific and easy-to-follow treatment plan that won’t cure him, but will certainly help him feel better. It involves a short daily bath, two creams, and a lot of vaseline. Very manageable. And if all goes well, he’ll outgrow it before to long. In the meantime, Z will be a very slippery little boy – as if he weren’t squirmy enough already.

The other good news is that the derm doesn’t think Z’s skin troubles are related to any allergies. He does NOT recommended limiting Z’s diet (besides dairy, of course). And he doesn’t think I should eliminate dairy from my diet either. So – who do I listen to – the ped or the derm?

The derm already warned us that Z’s eczema will likely flare up after the Benadryl and steroids of these past few post-allergic-reaction days wears off. So, my plan is to stay off dairy until his next derm appointment on March 2. If we have the eczema under control at that point (meaning we know how to handle the inevitable flare ups) then I’ll try dairy again and see how it affects him. If I see an obvious connection to the state of his skin at that point, then I’m off dairy as long as I’m still breastfeeding. But if not, then it’s cheese and ice cream all day for me. Yay! (In the meantime, send me your best dairy-free recipes.)

I’m torn about Z’s diet. Of course I don’t want to risk another reaction like the one he had on Friday. But the derm basically said that the only truly accurate way to test for a food allergy is to try the food. Dave and his mom were both allergic to milk so we’ve pretty much gotten the most obvious one out of the way. (Our ped knew this and still recommended we try yogurt at 8 months. I didn’t think to question her. Now I know to question everything.) Dave’s brother was allergic to soy as a baby, so maybe we’ll avoid that one as well.

But Z’s already been exposed to wheat a number of times with all the bagels he munched back east so I have to believe we’re safe there. I know we’re supposed to avoid egg whites, but I honestly think egg yolks would be okay. Peanuts are a no-no for all babies under 1, so that can wait. And fish, shellfish, berries and citrus… I don’t know. I’m going to think about it for a few more days and do a bit more of my own research (maybe try to talk to an allergist), but I’m thinking/hoping we’re going to be able to give Z a few more food options than it seemed a few days ago. Never when I’m home alone with him. And never when the doctor’s office is closed. But sooner rather than later I think. I’m optimistic.

PS: This afternoon, Zeke became a carnivore. He ate homemade chicken and rice for the first time. Oddly, it made me a little sad, but he really seemed to like it. And since he can’t have dairy or soy, meat is a really good protein alternative. (Sorry Arwen and my other veggie friends.)



Z is allergic to dairy. I know this because yesterday morning, when I gave him his first taste of yogurt, he turned bright red, his face swelled up like a balloon, and I had to rush him to the pediatrician where he was dosed with epinephrine and we had to hang out for a couple hours to make sure he was breathing okay. It was scary.

All things considered, I think I handled it pretty well. I remembered to give him Benadryl right away. And the doctor’s office was open and Jeff was able to give us a ride. (Dave had the car at school.) I didn’t completely freak out at any point and Zeke stayed relatively calm considering everything that was happening to him. But today, I’m feeling nervous. And rather mourning the loss of Z’s ability to enjoy so many good foods until much, much later. Since he’s allergic to dairy, he more likely to have allergies to other foods as well, so we have to avoid the following until he’s well over a year (if not longer):

all things dairy (except goat’s milk… hmmm)
peanuts and tree nuts
fish and shellfish
berries and citrus

He can still eat all kinds of other fruits and vegetables, meats, beans (probably), and rice/potato starches. But it certainly limits his diet. And it means that we have to be really careful about what goes into his mouth. This takes a lot of energy. And I don’t have a whole lot of energy left in reserve.

The biggest bummer of this whole thing is that things were going really well with eating. It didn’t start out well. We started him on solids at six months, and for weeks he screamed and writhed in his high chair, gagged on and threw up his food, and generally had a complete fit every time we tried to feed him. But around seven months (while we were back east), something clicked and he started to really love eating. It was such an enormous relief and meals became really fun. He loved everything we gave him – sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, zucchini, bananas, pears, cereal, apple sauce, chick peas, hummus(!)… everything but avocado (strange). And I was pretty excited to keep introducing new foods and seeing his reaction.

Now I’m tentative, and a little afraid. I’m sure my fear will wear off with a bit of distance from yesterday’s mild trauma. And again, this could have been a LOT worse. But it would be nice… really, really nice… if we could just catch a little bit of a break.

PS: This food allergy is almost definitely related to his skin issues and the pediatrician has done a bit of a reversal and said that I should cut dairy from my diet. (She was pretty convincing earlier that it wouldn’t make a difference. Ah well.) Let’s hope this unfortunate incident is what needed to happen to finally make Zekey a completely healthy, rash-free little boy. (Dare I say less fussy? A better sleeper? Ha.)