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Food Glorious Food

I’m participating in the Best Of 2009 Blog Challenge.  Every day this month, I write something different about what’s happened this year.  Here’s a belated post about my insight of 2009: it should have been written two days ago, but we are staying at the in-laws’ and I’m forced to be sociable and away from the computer.

David is a fussy eater.

Let me clarify that.  David eats four things: garlic bread, sausages, chocolate buttons, and Ella’s Kitchen fruit pouches.  David will not touch fresh fruit or vegetables, never mind put them in his mouth: they might bite back!  Rice?  Pasta?  Anything that might be served with a sauce or have a sauce touch it?  No way.  (Yep, he’s his mother’s son!)

Until last week, Joe and I could reassure ourselves that “food is for fun until one”.  We kept offering fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta, rice, different kinds of meat…  He would poke at them, look disgusted, and throw them on the floor, mostly before they’d been anywhere near his mouth.  We tried bribery: “Put this piece of banana in your mouth and you can have a chocolate button!”.  We tried letting him get on with it: more food ended up on the floor and none was eaten.  We tried all-out war: “You WILL eat this risotto.  Here’s a lovely spoonful…”.  It was spat out.  As a result, he “topped up” on milk, to the point where most of his diet was milk, with a few snacks thrown in.  He wasn’t sleeping as well as he should, he was waking up screaming hungry in the morning, and he was refusing to eat anything solid.

Two days ago, I did something mean, nasty and awful.  I took his milk away.

Not completely away, you understand.  I know that he still needs it for growth and development and vitamins.  We just drastically reduced the amount he drinks overnight.  We don’t offer it an hour before a meal or half an hour after: if he’s thirsty, he can drink water or juice.  We offer it in the newborn-sized Avent bottles, and when he finishes it he can have water, unless he’s desparate.  We’ve set ourselves the target of 5-600ml/day, and we’ve got there straight away.  David, as you can imagine, is unimpressed with this state of affairs, but still doing really rather well.

This morning, he got up with Joe, and for breakfast he ate a whole croissant and a serving of plain yoghurt with pureed blueberries and blackberries.  Half-way through this morning, he decided he was hungry, so ate a fruit pouch, two breadsticks, and a biscuit, and drank half a cup of juice.  At lunch he tried quiche and baked potato, which he wouldn’t previously have touched, and ate four slices of garlic bread.  At dinner, he spied the leftover profiteroles from Joe’s relatives’ Boxing Day family lunch, and was bribed into eating a fruit pouch.  That was followed by both profiteroles, a large piece of Stollen, and a whole cup of juice.  His total formula intake today?  500ml.

We’re not there yet.  He still doesn’t like the texture of anything runny, he won’t touch sauce, and vegetables are apparently the work of the Devil.  I was surprised that he ate the profiterole after the inital touching and poking, and still asked for more.  I don’t think it’s a taste issue, but to do with texture: it certainly explains why he’ll eat purees but nothing lumpy or slimy.

So, there we are.  My insight of the year: to do with taking away milk (and therefore being the meanest mother in the whole, world, ever, or so David will tell you) and making David eat Real Food.  It works.  I shouldn’t be scared to make parenting decisions and worry about what other people will think, because we need to do what works for us.  I needn’t worry about David’s reaction, because he’ll survive.  I am starting 2010 more confident as a parent than I ever was, and it’s fantastic.

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Best Restaurant Experience of 2009

I’m participating in the Best Of 2009 Blog Challenge.  Every day this month, I write something different about what’s happened this year.

My best restaurant experience of 2009 is going to occur in about an hour, when David has woken up from his nap.  We’re going to get in the car, drive to McDonalds, and eat the dirtiest cheeseburger ever.  And then I’ll feel better about tidying up all day and my ENTIRE living space still looking like a bomb has hit it.

Also?  David will have chips, not a fruit bag or carrot sticks.  Who even likes carrot sticks, anyway?

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Cat Naps

Before David was born, nearly everyone warned us that we’d treat the cats differently when we had a real baby.  We were warned to make sure we put a cat-net on the cot, that we shouldn’t allow them to sleep in the same room as him, that we’d have to be extra-cautious about sterilizing everything.  Our midwife was horrified that we weren’t “getting rid” of them.

Well, we’ve never really been bothered about germs.  The cat-net on the cot lasted for the five minutes before Snowball worked out how to remove it, we let the cats back into the bedroom after ten minutes on the first night home from hospital, and the ten-second rule applies to everything that touches the floor in this house.  Joe goes by the mantra “if it hasn’t got cat hair on it, it’s probably OK.”  Snowball is fed on the side in the kitchen, otherwise the boys jump on her, and we keep a litter tray in the kitchen, too.  We clean the side and the floor pretty regularly, and make sure we disinfect the side before preparing food (which, to be honest, I’d do anyway.)  There is a frequent exchange of toys, especially balls, between cats and baby: we just make sure that none of the cat toys are a choking hazard, as they’re pretty much guaranteed to end up in someone’s mouth.

Now, I know that there’s a school of thought that says you should keep pets, especially cats, away from children whilst they sleep.  We never had a problem with Snowball or Wily sleeping in the Moses basket or the cot when David was tiny, although there were occasions where Snowball would sleep next to David on the sofa.  They still don’t really go near him, especially now that he’s big enough to chase them and pull their tails.  Until this morning, Eric hadn’t shown any interest in sleeping in the cot, either.

I caught him there when I went to collect David from his nap.  Well, he’s certainly showing interest now.  It’s in a nice, warm spot, and the duvet is soft and comfortable.  There are snuggly soft toys, including Mini-Eric.  It’s not easily David-accessible unless we put him there, and Snowball and Wily have never slept there or marked it.

You know what?  I’m not going to bow down to pressure or paranoia on this one.  The stories about cats smothering babies are clearly an old wives’ tale: no cat would ever go near those grabby hands.  (Eric, certainly, would not sleep within reach of David.).  David, meanwhile, is clearly benefitting from growing up so close to these three beautiful creatures: he is mostly very gentle, and he can now say “puss!” and “miaow”.  I want him to wake up to a cat sleeping on the end of his bed, like I did with Jenny and Charlie.  One of the reasons that we got Eric when we did was that so he and David could grow up side-by-side, and I’m so very glad they are.

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Eleven Months

Dearest David,

Today you turn eleven months old: only a month to go until you hit the big O-N-E.  Hasn’t this month been a rollercoaster?  I’m going to apologise now for not writing more about you this month, or taking more pictures, but in between the high-fever hallucinating and the throwing up, there hasn’t really been time.  (Swine flu.  Oh joy.  Incidentally, you ARE having the vaccine.)  Never mind, everything is OK when you have meringue.

I’m writing this as you sleep, during my precious work-time.   You are sleeping better in the day and at night because we’ve moved away from blankets and bought you a proper duvet.  The first night you slept under it you slept on your back all night with Donkey tucked in next to you: you haven’t done that since before you could roll over!  The fact that I could just take a photo of you asleep without waking you is testimony to the power of The Duvet.

This month, you mastered your walker, and then a few days ago you took a STEP!  And then another, and then another.  You’re not quite confident enough to walk on your own yet, but when you have your walker (or a chair, or your bead thing, or the high chair, or anything else the right height…) you can run!

We’ve had an interesting month with food, haven’t we?  Just after you turned ten months, you discovered chocolate buttons.  Daddy and I discovered that chocolate buttons are a brilliant bribe (sorry, reward).  This is good, because you seem to have hit the two-year-old fussy stage a year and a month early.  All the wonderful fruit and veg that you’ve been eating since you were six months old?  No thanks.  Pasta in a lovely spinach sauce provoked a tantrum.  Pears were even worse.  Why?  You ate pears last month.  At Rugrats and Half Pints yesterday you refused to even put cucumber in your mouth, never mind bite it.  It’s OK, though.  Daddy and I have come up with a solution: we’re just going to cover everything in hummous or yoghurt, then you won’t know that it’s vegetables.  That, or you can live on Mini Cheddars and chocolate buttons.  And meringues.

Your cousin Wilfred came to stay for a week this month and you had a great time together.  It’s the first time you’ve both been aware of each other, and it was lovely.  You’re (mostly) very gentle with him, although you do splash a little too much in the bath for him.  Watching you play peek-a-boo with him was one of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen.

Talking of baths: you adore them.  There have been days where you’ve had three or four in a day.  Not because you’re dirty (although meringue in the hair doesn’t help) but because you love them so much.  You can now request “bath!” and “splash!”, and there have been occasions when we’ve spent an hour in the bath, playing with ducks, bottles, the shower…  If you didn’t have to come out of the bath, I don’t think you would.

The way you play has changed so much this month.  You’ve figured out that stacking cups stack, and that the farmer in your farmhouse can slide down the chimney.  You’ve changed so quickly that you have next to no age-appropriate toys in the house, but your birthday and Christmas are only a month away, so you’ll have to hang on.  You love sliding the beads around on the bead thing, and you love your tambourine and maracas.  At Grandma and Grandpa’s house, you have a “phone” (a remote without the batteries in), which you pretend to talk to people on.  Talking of talking, you are learning new words almost every day, and you babble as though we can understand you.  You still have some very clear words, and yesterday you uttered your first phrase: “Get down?”.  I can’t wait to have a proper conversation with you.

Your understanding and social interaction are at a whole new level, too.  I asked you to sit down this morning, and you did as you were asked.  You hold your arms out and say “Up!” when you want to be picked up, and you frequently stop playing, give Daddy or I a hug, and then go back to whatever you were doing.  You also know when you’re being asked not to do something, and delight in disobeying us with a cheeky grin.  You’re visibly thinking more: we can almost hear the cogs whirring in your brain.

You’ve developed an unbreakable bond with Daddy now.  Well, you both laugh at fart jokes, find the word “poo” hillarious, and spend your time blowing raspberries at each other.  Maybe it’s just a man thing.  I love sitting back and watching you play together.

Son, I love you so much that I’ll almost think about forgiving you for throwing up in my car the other day.  (Yeah, thanks for that.)  You’re turning into a toddler so fast, and it’s amazing to think that this is your last newsletter before you turn one.  I miss my teeny-tiny baby, but you are so much fun now.  I’m not going to pretend that getting to this point hasn’t been hard, but now we’re here, it’s AWESOME, and I love you.

Lots of love,

Mummy and Daddy (who’s probably going to cry when he reads this)

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