Friday, May 27, 2011

Yummy in Gus's tummy

...and on his face, and in his hair, and on the floor.

That's right, Gus has joined the ranks of those who eat solid food. And what an adventure it is!

We first gave him solids about three weeks ago (the Saturday before he turned 6 months), and he has taken to it like a pro. We're doing baby-led weaning, and his first meal was banana and avocado. He was a bit unsure about it all, but not so much that he didn't want to keep going back for more!

Gus's first meal

Banana and avocado are quite squishy, and therefore difficult for little hands to pick up sometimes. I found that it is helpful to leave a bit of the peel on the banana as a handle. Works well, until he's eaten everything that is sticking out!  Or just give him something easier to hold, like steak and asparagus!

mmm, steak

He loved his steak. Obviously. I mean, who doesn't? (Okay, I think it's kind of gross now that I am a vegetarian, but Jon is a meat-eater, so Gus will eat meat occasionally as well.) I was surprised that he liked the asparagus so much. I thought it would be kind of bitter for him, but we have had it a couple of times now, and every time he has just gnawed away on it for ages, sucking up all the juices and even sometimes swallowing some.

He does swallow some food, but probably more gets spit out still. It is awesome watching him learn to use his tongue to move the food around in his mouth. He is really quite good at moving the food to the front of his mouth to spit it out, but I don't know if the skill of moving it backward is developing a bit more slowly! It doesn't matter, really, though. He is just learning about different tastes and textures at the moment, and anything he actually swallows is a bonus. I certainly haven't noticed any decrease in the amount of milk he drinks yet (or, more accurately, in the number of times a day he requests nursing).

what is that!?
(mango was too slippery for his fingers,
so he used Pa's hand as a handle)

He makes this great face that seems to say "what in the world is this horrible thing I am sticking in my mouth?!" Yet he always goes back for more!  We think, actually, it is not the taste that he dislikes so much. Instead, he is still trying to get used to the sensation of solid food in his mouth. As I pay more attention, he seems to do it most often when he the food (I think) goes back farther on his tongue. He also does a lot of mild gagging, trying to get the food forward again. He hasn't choked at all, though. Thankfully. (Some say that actual choking is unlikely with baby-led weaning, whereas others suggest that some babies are just more prone to it. Either way, it is not something we have had to worry about so far.)

maybe it gets so messy because the handle is in his mouth?

He also really likes to use a spoon. He can't put food onto the spoon himself yet (unsurprisingly--that's a tough skill to develop!), but I fill it up with yogurt or oatmeal, and he can easily get it off. Although, I think he just likes to chew on the spoon itself sometimes. And using a spoon does cause a huge mess! Mealtimes are a bit messy anyway, but the yogurt gets everywhere--face, hands, arms, tray, floor, hair. Luckily Gus is washable :)  And I've put a plastic tablecloth over the floor to try and save the (brand new!) carpet a bit.

We've been having a lot of fun with feeding so far. And it is really quite stress-free. We give him the food that we are eating, just cut into Gus-sized pieces, then let him eat--or not--as he pleases. He's even gotten to eat things like Mexican food and curry, both of which he really loved! More, please!

Monday, May 16, 2011

6 month update—becoming mama

I realised while I was writing all about what Gus has been up to lately that there is another person in this relationship that has been doing a lot of learning and growing in recent months—me! Sometime in these past 3 months in particular, I’ve really settled into this role of mother. I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet, but I’ve started to feel like I know what I am doing. I am no longer a new, inexperienced mother who feels thrown in at the deep end with no idea what is going on. I am a cool, confident mama who has a bag of tricks and a growing stock of experience to call upon when things are tough. (Okay, I don’t necessarily feel cool or confident when I am trying to figure out why Gus has been screeching and screaming for 20 minutes, but at this moment, while he is lying next to me, peacefully sleeping, I feel very cool and confident.)

When did this all happen?  I read or hear stories about mothers’ difficult early days with their babies, and I know, intellectually, that this happened to me, but it is so far from my life now. Not that it was all hard then—we are blessed with a very easy-going baby—but I remember spending an unusual (for me, but probably not for the average new mom!) amount of time crying and can’t remember why. Gus is only 6 months old; you’d think I would be able to remember back that far. And it also makes me a little sad that I am already forgetting those little details—if I can’t remember now, what hope is there of remembering in the future? I know it’s cliché, but this all goes so fast!  I think I do a passable job of living in the moment, I just wish some of these moments moved at a slightly slower pace.

Another thing I have become aware of recently is that this is who I am. Amy: mother. Many women worry about losing themselves and their identity once they have children. For me, motherhood has gradually subsumed me over the past six months, in a lovely and exciting way. I feel like I can, if I try, trace the path backward to my old self, and it makes sense, but I can no longer imagine who I would be without Gus. The flip side is that I get confused when I think about the future and realise that someday I will no longer be a mother to a baby. I obviously will never stop being a mother, and hopefully we will have more babies in due course, but there will be a day when *this* is not my life. To someone who is just getting used to this new identity, it is strange to think that it will not last forever. It will ease away just as seamlessly as it came, till one day I wake up and realise I have changed yet again, without knowing when or how.

I don’t think I have ever been as reflective about my life as I am now. I don’t know if it is because I am at home all day so I have time (ha!) to think about these things. Or maybe it is beause I have this blog—don’t they say something about how recording an event can alter that event? Or is it merely the nature of parenthood? This life-changing event happens so quickly (I know pregnancy lasts 9 months, but how much can you really prepare for everything that a baby will bring?), you need to take time for your brain to catch up.

So this is me, as a mama. I don’t think I have mentioned yet in this post how much I love it. I guess, for me, that is just a given. I am so blessed to have such a lovely baby and an amazing husband to parent with. I, thankfully, am pretty much back to my laid-back self after worrying about every little thing for weeks and weeks after Gus was born. But one thing that hasn’t changed in these intervening months is how my heart feels like it could burst when I think about how much I love this kid.

St Monica, pray for us, that we may mother our children in a way that brings them wholeness, happiness, and life in our Lord.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quick Takes (volume 9)

Today's takes are really quick: just pictures spanning Gus's life.  Hope you enjoy! 
And don't forget to check out Conversion Diary for more quick takes.

two days old:

one month:

two months:

three months: 

four months:

five months:

six months:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Day in the Life--6 Months

As part of the "Gus is turning 6 months blogging extravaganza" (yes, updating more than once a week = blog extravaganza over here at YSGOWJ), I did a photo diary of an ordinary day in our life. This was inspired by / part of the quarterly day in the life series over at Navigating the Mothership.

It is now my pleasure to present to you, Tuesday, May 3, 2011!!!

7:00 AM  Pa is getting ready to leave for work. I wake up almost every day when Jon gets up. Most days I hope and wish and pray that Gus stays asleep so I can go back to sleep when Jon leaves. Some days I am luckier than others.
Good morning!

Friday, May 6, 2011

6 month update--let's play!

If it is true that play is a child’s work, then let me tell you, Gus has a great work ethic! Jon and I just love to watch the little man play. It is fascinating to set a few toys out in front of him and see how he explores and learns about them. He seems like a genuinely curious boy, and I wonder how much of that is just the way babies are and how much is a unique part of his personality.  We have some wooden blocks that he can play with for ages, even just one block—staring at it, chewing on it, banging it against the floor or another block, or dropping it and picking it up again. I certainly get bored way before he does.

We try to give him toys of lots of different sizes, shapes, and materials. He loves non-toy things like fuzzy scarves, crinkly paper, real plates and spoons, and especially the wicker basket that all the toys are stored in. And of course, Pa’s glasses and Mama’s hair!  He’s got a Lamaze moose and a brand new Sophie the Giraffe that he loves to chew on—yum yum.  He loves rattles and often will try and shake any toy he picks up to see if it will make a noise!
making faces

Sometimes I worry that we don’t actually play with him enough; rather, we sit near him as he plays by himself. I do think that if you provide appropriate materials for play, it is important to let the child direct their own exploration of those.  But we need some fun interactions as well, which, for us, mostly means songs! His favourite song at the moment is I’ve been working on the Railroad, although other favourites include Horsey horsey, Jelly on a plate, and Pat-a-cake. Now that he is a bit bigger, we do more physical play together as well, like flipping him upside down and gentle roughhousing.  Or, if we want to make him giggle, raspberries on his tummy or an avalanche of kisses on his head or feet will usually do the trick. And of course, the great outdoors is filled with wonderful possibilities, including Gus’s favourite, simple and unassuming grass J

One toy that has really served us well is his jungle gym. What a great space that is for him! He started off at about 2 months just lying there, listening to the music and watching the lights and hanging butterflies. It has taken him through reaching and grabbing at things, rolling over to reach the toy too far away,  and now sitting up to play with the toys.  It’s even been useful for the dreaded tummy time—the mirror and crinkly leaf would hold his attention for a whole 2 minutes befoe he got sick of being on his front!

Of course, the most wonderful thing about Gusses is that Gusses are wonderful things.  I do think sometimes that this kid is made of rubber and springs, the amount he bounces! Luckily for Mama’s arms, we have a lovely little jumperoo in which Gus can bounce to his heart’s content. He and Jon love to bounce together, Gus in the jumperoo and Jon in the middle of living room.
bouncy bouncy bouncy

Seriously, he’s such a fun kid. Can’t wait to see what sort of games the next 6 months will hold!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gus Update--6 Months!

My little baby is going to be six months old in a week’s time.  I cannot believe it—where has the time gone? To mark the occasion, and because I have not been doing the monthly updates like I had hoped, I am going to be doing a series of posts about what he has been up to in the past few weeks and months.  (This may only be interesting to my mom, but whatever.) We’ll start off today with movement.

If I had to choose one word to describe my little Gus, I think it would be squirmy. Man alive. This little guy wants to be on. the. move.  He rolled over, back to front, for the first time when he was 4 months and 1 day old (the day after my birthday!). Pretty much since then, he has not wanted to sit still. Lie him on his back, and he will be reaching for something out of his reach or rolling over to try and get it. And he still hasn’t really figured out how to roll from front to back yet, so then he is stuck.

not so happy on my tummy
Well, not completely stuck.  Gus has recently started scootching. He can only do it a little bit so far.  He goes round in a circle. He can go forward a little bit, but it takes a huge amount of effort.  The time that seems to be easiest for him is when we are lying in bed and he rolls away from me, then scootches back to get some more milk. Obviously a goal worth working for!

trying to get away
All this movement tires a mama (and Pa!) out, though, and we are not even in the thick of it yet.  But trying to hold an 18-pound baby while he bounces up and down, lunges forward, or tries to climb all over you is quite a workout.  Our typical playtime is me sitting on the floor, holding Gus up to stand. He lunges forward for a toy and sits down for a second, then twists round to me, and climbs up my lap to my shoulders until he is standing again. Unless he sees something interesting behind me, then he tries to climb over me to reach!

Everyone who has seen him recently is convinced that he will be crawling soon. He certainly looks like he wants to crawl, but I am fervently hoping that he doesn’t get to it too soon. Firstly because my house is not baby-proofed. But secondly, I do not fancy the idea of an 8+ hour flight with a newly crawling baby (we’re going to the US for a visit soon!). I keep telling myself that 6 months is much too early for a baby to start crawling anyway, so there is no worry. But do you think he will go another 2 months before he is off?

**I really wanted to come up with a catchy title for this series, something that combines the words Gus and update (as per the pregnancy Bumpdates at Navigating the Mothership). But the options just don't seem to have quite the right ring: Gupdate, Gusdate, Guspdate. I got nothin'. Just pretend that there is a really snazzy title up there. **