Monday, October 22, 2007

Happy 1/2 Birthday!

Yesterday was Jackson's 1/2 birthday. I can't believe 6 months has passed already.
It was a beautiful day. The maples are showing a lovely salmon orange, the temperature was an unseasonably wonderful 80 degrees, and we celebrated by going out.
We went to the swapmeet in Mansfield to look for a new scythe. Jason broke the blade on ours. Last year, there were scythe's in every third booth. Now there are none. I suppose that people are scooping them up to hang over their fireplaces.
There was a little park at the swapmeet, so we took Jackson for his first time on a real swing (His baby swing isn't powerful enough to keep his little bum in motion). Jack liked the swing, but he really enjoyed watching other people play on the swings.
After that, we indulged Jason's renewed interest in firearms and hunting (spurred on by the war over peppers and tomatoes we're waging with the deer). We went to the newly opened Cabela's store. It was madness. Packed like a warm summer day at DisneyLand. I guess its as good as DisneyLand to their customer base (Yes, there was definitely a red hue to many napes). The store boasts a tremendous taxidermy collection. I was surprised to see that although the focus was the largest or fiercest animals, they did include a couple of small rodents and birds. I was alarmed to see an elephant on display. I do hope it was either from an estate collection or recovered from a zoo death. Somehow, I doubt that. They included a sign full of Stephen-Colbert-takes-on-Wikipedia-esque truthiness about how the elephant populations have recovered so well that elephant hunts are now allowed.
Today we visited the pediatrician. Jackson weighed in at 21 lb 5 oz and 29 inches (Yes folks, that the size of the "average" 1 year old). He took his shots extremely well, crying less than I do when they bring out the needles.
Happy Birthday, Baby!

Friday, October 19, 2007


Reed & Marika, Jason & Jackson, Kelly & Braeden, Beth & A.J.

Last week, we had a get together with 3 other families from our child birth classes. Once again, it was really nice to be with families who are having the same experiences as us. We could go on and on about the minutia of life with an infant without boring our company. Plus, its nice to be around people who are like ourselves. I value diversity, but I spend alot of time in the minority.

Jackson spends most of his time in the company of just his parents, and at best adults, so he was excited to see his friends, too. He is very interested in people his own size. A.J. got close enough to touch, and they held hands briefly (too cute). Then Jackson got a good grip on his arm and tried to pull him over. Jackson likes to bat his arm at things and people, so for safety's sake, we kept the kids at a nice look but don't touch distance after that.
The babies are all growing and changing so quickly! They have quite a bit in common--they all sit with varying levels of success, they're all starting and loving new foods, they all will take a pacifier-but none are too dependent. But there are also big differences. For example, there's a 10 pound spread in sizes (that's big when you're just 20 pounds). Marika loves to roll, and Jackson didn't roll at all until just recently. Jackson is quite loud and eager to be around others, and AJ was pretty overwhelmed by all of the excitement.

Jackson LOVED the popbeads (Thanks for sharing, Braeden). He could fit the whole end of the yellow one in his mouth.

Here's Jackson with happy Braeden (and Kurt).

Flat Jake

A couple weeks ago, I got an envelope in the mail. Inside, I found a flat version of my cousin Jake and some instructions. His class has just read "Flat Stanley" who makes a flat version of himself and sends it around the world to live vicariously. Here are a few pictures of Flat Jake's trip to New England.

Jackson and Jake having dinner.

Jake goes to work in the hybrid car.

Jake gets his toes chewed a bit.

Jake on a New England rock wall.

Jake on a 400 year old "death head" tombstone.

Bath Time

Look at that baby splash!

Like Father Like Son

I carried Jackson in my belly for 9 1/4 long months. Through nausea, kidney stones, swollen feet, and backpain. I had to pass his nearly 10 pounds into the world. Now that he's out, I continue to feed him at my breasts. You'd think he'd reward me by atleast bearing some resemblance. Nope, he looks just like his daddy.

Milk, soap, and cheese.

So, maybe you've heard me complain that Jackson barely eats during the day while I'm at work. Instead, he saves up to cluster feed in the evenings, and then all night long. Before I went back to work, he would cluster feed in the morning, and I had him down to one middle on the night waking and one early morning waking--when I should really get up anyway. Within a month, he'd completely changed his pattern and was getting up 5 times every night. I couldn't figure it out. He was getting the same milk, maybe he just didn't like the bottle?

Two weeks ago, I was driving to work, and it just hit me why he might be reluctant to eat while I'm gone. I remembered a few times the bottled milk had developed a strong odor. I just dismissed it as "normal" because I always follow the recommended food safety guidelines for milk storage. I have the Dr Sears Breastfeeding book, and I remember reading a single paragraph about the enzyme lipase, which breaks down the fat. It says that rarely, the lipase concentration is high, and the milk develops a "soapy" taste within about 24 hours. I interpret the word "rare" as "couldn't possibly happen to me, and probably not even anyone I know". I was surprised a few months ago when my friend said that she had that problem, and it took her a while to figure out, so she ended up wasting a lot of frozen milk.

So, I'd read about it, and heard about someone I knew with the condition, but it took me another 6 weeks to think that just maybe, I had the same problem. I went home and compared the days fresh milk with some milk that was a few days old, and quite possibly mixed with some frozen milk. The fresh milk tasted like cows milk with a ton of brown sugar stirred in. The older milk tasted terrible with an after taste that burned my throat. It was horribly. No wonder Jackson doesn't eat very much while I'm gone.

So I called my friend to see what she's doing to treat the milk. Unfortunately, I got her machine. Lucky for me, I have a whole world of information at my fingertips. Here's what I found out:
My first search was for "soap breast milk". I pulled up a whole string of websites with instructions on how to make homemade soap from your excess breast milk. Yes people, that's really what came up. Step by step directions and discussions of the antibiotic properties of breast milk thus the amazing wound cleaning power of the breast milk soap. Well, I'm glad to know there are all kinds of people in the world. I'm pretty open minded, but I don't think this one's for me.

I don't remember how I worded the next search, but the first thing to come up was a woman's account of her attempt to make--wait for it--breast milk cheese. You did read that correctly, cheese. Apparently, she's been using the breast milk around the kitchen, in omelets and brownies. She's also had some experience making fresh soft cow's milk cheese. What better use for the excess frozen human milk. So, she boiled the milk and added some vinegar to curdle it. Nothing happened, so she added more vinegar, and even more vinegar. At the end of the day, she'd added a ton of vinegar, and still didn't have cheese. As it turns out, human milk chemistry prevents curdling. The woman was heartbroken at having to waste all of that milk (I do sympathize), but I was relieved that no one had to eat that cheese.

I guess the third time really is the charm, because my next search netted the information I needed and no more shocking revelations about what the crazies are up to. The milk needs to be scalded at 180F or held at 160F for a few minutes. It's recommended to do this on the stove top in order to preserve the most nutrients. Many people use the microwave until the milk is "steamy" for the sake of convenience.

I went for the stove top, carefully pouring the milk into the pan and trying to pour it back. I lost quite a bit in the process. Since then, I've found I can simply put the glass bottles of milk in the pot of hot water (loosen the lids for safety), scald it, and put the bottles in the fridge to cool. No more spilled milk, not too inconvenient.

I still have 130 ounces of frozen disgusting milk (three days worth). I don't have the will to toss it. While I still respect Dr Sears on other topics, I blame him for the bad milk and for the sleepless nights. What they should have said is that ALL breastmilk contains lipase and sometimes the concentration is high enough to cause spoiling. If you notice strong odors, and your baby is reluctant to eat, your milk is probably affected. Then they should explain what to do about it. For being advocates of breast feeding, this bit of misinformation has probably led many women to give up.

Here's the website:

Thursday, October 4, 2007

More Feats of Strength

The last time I posted about Jackson, he was just starting to sit. As in, if I was really quick, I could snap a picture before he fell over. In the last month, he's become an accomplished sitter. He'll sit and play for tens of minutes at a time. He can reach over and pick things up, then return to an upright position. He can lean forward and chew on his toe, then return to an upright position. If there's something nearby to hold onto, he'll hold onto it for extra stability, and knows to reach out for something if he does lose his balance. He can also forget to sit, and fall down with a big thumpa-thumpa.
Jackson likes sitting so much than I can no longer lie him on his side. This used to be his favorite sleeping position. Now he strains himself trying to become upright.
Jackson also enjoys lying on his belly. For months, putting him on his belly was a way to ellicit yells. Now, its a great position for playing. He can pick his head up without help from his arms, which are busy reaching for and manipulating toys. He can spin around to reach objects that have slipped away from his grasp. His attempts to reach objects that are too far in front of him result in rapid travel backward.

He now rolls frequently. When he rolls from front to back, he manages it by digging his toes in, and lifting his bum as if he were practicing the "downward facing dog". He then loses his balance, and as his bum falls to the side, he's propelled over.
He can also push up onto all fours from his belly. It's this feat that fills me simultaneously with pride and with fear. If he can get on his knees, he'll soon be moving his hands and knees independently. That means I'm going to need outlet covers, cabinet locks, interior gates, really clean floors, and maybe a good pair of running shoes.

Yesterday, he pulled himself up from sitting to standing--THREE TIMES!!

The couch is no longer a safe place to place the baby, the bed is no longer a safe place to place the baby, his underutilized co-sleeper is no longer a safe place to place the baby, the bassinet insert in the pack and play is no longer a safe place to place the baby. I'm quickly running out of safe places to place that baby!


Wow. I'm a super slacker on the blog right now. It's a reflection of a hectic lifestyle with a regular career, an infant, and a house, but no additional staff. I put Jackson in his Johnny-Jump-up since he was restless and its nearby so that I can blog. We received this item as a hand-me-down from one of my coworkers--Thanks, Chuck!
I was pretty skeptical at first. These toys are notorious for recalls. But this one looks to be well built, and Jackson needs some freedom, yet assisted movements. So, we reinforced the doorframe and hung it up. (That's another reason to be hesitant to use this toy, we installed the trim, so I'm well aware of the shoddy construction technique used--it took us a while to realize the nails needed to go through wood, not just sheetrock)
Jackson La-La-La-Loves it! At first, he bounced on one foot at a time with trepidation. He also did alot of spinning. We just got it out last week, and have only used it a few times, but he's got it all figured out. He's gleefully bouncing away using both feet as if it were a trampoline. He sings while he bounces. He puts his arms straight out to the sides, presumably for balance, although there's plenty to hold onto for support.
I'll get some pic's up eventually.