Posts tagged ‘infant’

February 9, 2012

Meet my family

Everyone else has WAY cooler blog names for their family than I do. Ironic Mom Leanne Shirtliffe calls her twins Thing 1 and Thing 2. Kathryn Apel, children’s writer and author of This is the Mud, interviews a young writer named Squashed Cupcake. And Chase McFadden blogs at Some Species Eat Their Young while referring to his four children as Slim, Perpetual Motion, The Hellcat, and Tax Break #4.

After a lot of brainstorming with my husband, I’d like to introduce my family. Although it’s only fair to note that my husband did NOT agree to his own nickname. Tough luck on that one.

Middle School Crush: My husband, whom I met in seventh grade, likes to fuel my enthusiasm for my own writing with comments such as “what was your book about again?” And a personal favorite, said not too long ago as I was plotting out my chapters on sticky notes all over the walls, “Is that really helpful, or is it like rearranging deck chairs?”

The Wizard of Why: My 3-year-old makes me realize how much I don’t know about the world with all the questions he asks. Things we’ve talked about in the past 24 hours:

  • whether or not robots live in outer space
  • why robots don’t “live”
  • why some robots don’t have faces
  • why trains don’t need steering wheels (this was upsetting)
  • why large cats with sharp teeth eat meat and what exactly meat is (also upsetting, but not as much as not steering trains, partially because he doesn’t believe me about the meat)
  • why a T. Rex eats “real meat” and why that may or may not be made from animals (this was a heated discussion)
  • why an hour is 60 minutes and why a minute is 60 seconds and how long that all takes exactly
  • why the dashboard of my car tells me how much gas we are using
  • why some cars use a lot of gas
  • why using too much gas is bad for the planets like Earth
  • why Gyroscope’s birthday comes before his, even though Gyroscope is younger

Well, I think there was more, but you get the picture. Plus, to say we are obsessed with the Wizard of Oz is a huge understatement. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of that obsession, so that will be a good 25% of his life. So that’s the reasoning behind that one.

Gyroscope: Gyroscope, who is almost one, hasn’t stopped moving since he entered our lives, which he did as quickly as he does everything else (a mere 3 hours after announcing his intentions and a short 30 minutes after we crawled (he and I, that is) into the hospital). Favorite activities include: playing with anything the The Wizard of Why is currently playing with, crawling on the dining room table, standing on his head in a downward dog position.

So–even if you don’t have a blog, what would be your blog names for your family?

July 23, 2011

Just stand back and let them do it

Today I’m blogging about giving kids responsibility over at Nashville Parent. Check it out!

May 24, 2011

I named my son after a werewolf (and other woes of the personalized book)

Finding the right name for your children is an involved process.  Did you see the Pregnant in Heels episode (not that I watch, of course) where the couple used a think tank, a focus group, AND a dinner party to judge reaction to baby names?  And then chose the name they liked (Bowen) even though no one in any of those groups liked it?  I loved that—baby names are personal…that’s why no one tells until the baby is born.  Once the name is on a kid, no one can insult it…until that kid goes to school, that is.

For us, we thought about how the name sounded, what it meant, and where it came from.  We definitely wanted a family name.  Children, after all, are about as Darwinian as it gets, and in ensuring the continuation of my genes, it was important to me to honor those who carried these genes in previous lifetimes.

As soon as we learned we were having a boy, I got out the family trees.  I typed every male name into a document and we narrowed it down to a list of the final four names—-and then kept changing those every few weeks.

When we decided, it seemed obvious.  We liked the sound of the name, Jacob.  We liked the symmetry of the ancestry—Jacob was a great grandfather to my husband and my older son was named after a great grandfather to me.  Most importantly, we liked the idea of honoring this person, and this person’s family, by giving his name to a new member of our family.

The name hadn’t been on our top lists for the simple reason that it was so high up on the nation’s list.  I had really wanted something more unique.  But we decided to go with the name we thought was right for us, and if he had a few friends named after the Biblical character, well, that would be okay.

But here’s the thing: my dad called recently to say that he read an article that said Jacob was a popular recent name, not because of grandparents, Bibles, or Torahs, but because of Twilight.  Because of the Native American werewolf.  My husband is now threatening to tell everyone that we named our son after Taylor Lautner.

Werewolf or no, Jacob is our little Jacob and when I say his name I think about my grandmother-in-law and the father she once had.  And I’m so glad that in some small way, he lives again.

Which brings me, rather long-windedly, to a personalized book that I will read to teach Jacob his name.  The wonderful folks at Marblespark gave me a free copy of their books (with my son’s name!) so that I could see their work and share it with you.  I’m excited to do that here.

Title: Following Featherbottom
Author: Philip Haussler
Illustrator: Brad Sneed
Genre: Personalized Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

This book makes a great baby gift.  Each page adds another letter of the name, which spells itself out at the bottom of the pages as you read the book.  With each letter is an illustration of animals on an adventure in a different part of the world (that starts with that letter).  For example, the J in Jacob gives us this page: “A stop in Japan offers jillions of J’s. / Just watch out for jellyfish in all of its bays.”  Or the C gives you “Next we need a C so Cairo’s where we’ll stop / And listen as the camels go clippity-clop-clop.”  As you read the story, you travel the world picking up the letters to spell your child’s name.  The illustrations are my favorite part–they are beautiful with soft colors and a great sense of humor.

One of the cool things about creating this book online is that not only are you personalizing each page by the letters in your baby’s name, but you have choices for each letter.  For example, if there is a C in the name, you can choose Cairo or Chile, among others.  As you create the book online, it shows you the page, tells you what the other options are and if they are used already elsewhere in the book and lets you decide the trip your child will take to pick up his letters around the world.

Adding a middle name is an extra few dollars, and when they gave me the code, they actually recommended that I not do so because it lengthens the book so much.  This is true, and we ended up with a pretty long book, but I’m not really reading this only as a story; I’m reading this so he can see the wonder of his name, and I wanted all of that to be there.

Follow-up with the kids:

If you read this blog at all, you know that I like books that encourage kids to interact with them.  Not only does this book encourage your child to think about his name and learn the spelling, watching the name appear across the bottom of the page, but it introduces letters in other ways as well.  Each illustration contains items that start with the corresponding letter, which are written next to the picture.  You and your child can search for the items, practicing out loud how to say them, emphasizing the sound of the first letter, which they will all have in common.  Check it out at

While you are there, check out their community-built picture book project, a public book written by the masses that raises funds for charity at

October 20, 2010

We turned his nose orange. By accident, I swear.

It was total strangers who noticed it first.  They would comment on how cute he was (as if perhaps to soften the blow) and then, as if they just noticed, ask how he got such a bright orange nose!  Family members started noticing it when the photos were emailed around and we had to admit they were right.  But the thing was, he LOVED orange foods!  Mostly pureed butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrot.  Also some mango.

Mmmmm, who wouldn’t?  Two years later, he still loves mango, but we’re working back up to the squash and carrot.  Somehow, he isn’t convinced when we tell him that he once loved those vegetables so much it turned his nose orange.  Either he doesn’t believe us, doesn’t care, or doesn’t want his nose to change colors, all of which seem fairly legitimate to me.

But his love of all kinds of foods started with this book.  The book is dogeared and stained as any good, well-loved and well-used cookbook should be.  I used it to fill our freezer up with ice-cube sized frozen meals of peas, lentils with apples, tofu with bananas and pears (tofu is still a favorite today), and lots of other yummy concoctions.

Title: Easy Gourmet Baby Food
Author: Chef Jordan Wagman and Jill Hillhouse, BPHE, RNCP
: Parenting, Cookbook
Age: Anyone who likes to cook!

Summary and Review:

This is a great cookbook.  If you only buy one cookbook for your baby, this is the one to get.  Your baby will get lots of yummy and healthy food and you will save so much by not buying those really expensive jars of baby food!  The book comes with a thorough introduction about nutrition and eating tips and each recipe comes with a nutritional analysis. The book also gives you ideas about

Don't be afraid to go for the spice rack! It's good for you and the baby and will wake up those taste buds!

when it’s appropriate to introduce different kinds of foods, which was super-helpful.

With few exceptions (although I might argue there should be more), each recipe also comes with a “not just for babies” section that tells you how the whole family might enjoy the recipe, for example, folding a green bean/basil puree into mashed potatoes or using an apricot/squash puree to top a pork chop.  The ideas for using the recipes with adults is great if you are making them in small quantities for baby to eat NOW, which is not really something I did the first time around when I was working full time.  Instead, I would spend a weekend afternoon making gigantic batches of something and freezing it, so I didn’t really need to use it for my husband and I.  Although there was one puree–onions, broccoli, potatoes, peas, and maybe something else–that my husband and I loved to eat hot as soup.  Yumminess…although I couldn’t find the recipe in this or my other baby cookbooks, so maybe I improvised it off of something else.

The book continues past baby recipes into “real” recipes a toddler and whole family will love, and I’ve tried these less, as I know find myself making the usual foods I like to make and sharing them with my son.  However, it is nice to have new ideas of healthy ways to introduce foods to my son.

As a baby, my son didn’t love all the recipes in the book (wouldn’t touch zucchini/basil puree with a ten-foot pole, for example, but I credit this book and the others I used with helping him to grow up to be a healthy eater!  I plan on using it for his little brother and hope that we will have the same luck!  Of course, we’ll try to reign in on the amount of squash, but it will be hard–he’ll be at pureed food age in the fall, just like his older brother.

I did have a couple of other baby cookbooks as well: DK’s Organic Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Lizzie Vann and the petit appetit cookbook by Lisa Barnes.  The first is gorgeous, with plenty of full-color photos and some good tips.  But I’m always turned off by people who use the term “organic” so loosely.  After all, any cookbook is organic if you use organic ingredients, and this one is not if you don’t.  The petit appetit also has some good feeding ideas, but neither of these books really got my full attention.  The recipes either seemed too simplistic (one ingredient steamed which hardly begs for a recipe) or just didn’t appeal to me.  But they are both well-written books and everyone has different taste, so they might be worth checking out to see if these recipes are more up your alley.  Both include symbols to easy identify vegetarian and other recipes specific to certain eating habits.