I just read Lydie’s Little Family’s post about delaying solids and I agree with her. My lovebug turned 9 months yesterday (um, WHAT??!) and although he’s been interested in food for the past 5 months, and has had tastes of a variety of veg and some fruit, he still isn’t really taking the bait. He definitely isn’t eating an ounce or two.
I am totally fine with that. Although admittedly I wish he did eat sometimes because I need a mental break. It’s really not easy taking care of a little person that can’t speak from the moment you open your eyes until you close them again at night. He is on 100 all day long usually, especially now that he can get around more. It’s draining.
There’s no definite rule that he must eat before 1. Milk is a complete food for him and my diet is fine. He’s really taken to drinking water. Sometimes he takes a taste of my lemon water or I put a teaspoon of my rooibos tea in his sippy cup. He gets to enjoy a wide range of flavor. Food at this age is for play, not nourishment. By the time he eats a proper meal, I will have no need to puree foods.
I’m trying to let nature beat all the outside chatter. He knows how to chew and he does it when he feels like it. I don’t even get pressure from people to make him eat. It’s more in my head than anything. I think about all the other kids his age that have been eating and are “good eaters”. What does that even mean? I’m sure when he’s ready, he will be cleaning the plate.
I started dating my guy in the summer of 2006. About 2 months later, I purchased my first ticket to come visit him here, in Holland. It was right around Thanksgiving in the states. At the time, he was still living in the south of the country. Over emails and long phone conversations, he tried to explain what I might see once I arrive. Tried to explain parts of the history here, without getting too deep.
I thought I had a good grasp of the things he was preparing me for until I arrived. The first time we went outside and he took me around his area, it was late evening. Everything was closed and that was fine. I just wanted to be outside. We walked over to the shopping center and there it was: window after window of black face. I wasn’t ready for how I would feel. I had never been placed in a real life casual situation where this was okay.
I remember when I was in college, I took a trip to Atlanta for 2 weeks during summer break. I visited the Martin Luther King museum and I broke down. I read about the history, both as fact and as prose. I knew what desperation felt like and how hollow you can get. I understood that. But it was in a more reflective context. I felt the pain of ancestors. I empathized with the hurt and it became a source of power for me.
But blackface just out there, with no context? Just a part of what happens this time of year? Jolson style blackface? That I wasn’t ready for. I remember feeling like the wind was knocked out of me. The heat behind my eyes. My pulse quickened and my throat went dry. All at once. I turned to him and said, “what the fuck?"
I mean, what else do you expect to hear from anyone who is even remotely rational? Thank God I didn’t come to visit during the actual day of celebration. I don’t think I would be able to live here if that was the first thing I saw. I also remember being the only black person I saw in town the entire time I visited.
Every November the celebration of Sinterklaas, the old white patron saint of prostitutes and children, takes place. Each year he travels on a steamboat from Spain with the help of his Zwarte Pieten, or Black Petes. I don’t want to get into every single detail, but the way locals describe it is ‘he’s darkened because of the soot from the chimneys’. This magical soot also seems to change the color and texture of hair, make them have large red lips and pierces both ears so they don a shiny set of gold hoop earrings. Right.
I guess it wouldn’t be so frightening if it were say, 1 or 10 piets. That’s wishful thinking. It is more in the region of hundreds. Hundreds of white men and women who put on an outfit, wig, and paint their faces pitch black with bright red lips and gold hoops.
This will be my third year living with the possibility of running into them.
There has been an outcry from some persistent citizens of color, with tiny wins here and there. This year, however, the most noise has been made and with it has come a truer side of Dutch mentality that has shamed many many people and emboldened others. The frank truth of the matter is that blackface the world over is considered highly racist, to everyone but the majority of the Dutch. I won’t verbally beat up on every single citizen, because this isn’t a white vs everyone else debate or fact. This is just the truth of what imperialism does to the consciousness of a people.
Holland is a very interesting place. Never before have I encountered as many bi- and multi-racial people that are my age group. That sounds like I’m in a very progressive, forward thinking place because it isn’t city to city, this is primarily the country over. The idea of immigrants is a fairly new concept, about as old as our parents. I’m in my 30s. There’s a sense of welcoming and tolerance that they brag about. Until it comes time to truly be sensitive and inclusive. If you don’t think like them, you’re ostracized.
This is very much a country of “if you don’t like our culture, go back where you came from.” Not everyone, but a large enough percentage. So much for tolerance.
There will be no Sinterklaas celebration in my house ever. It’s one thing I am absolutely vehemently against celebrating. No presents with little blackface characters on the wrapping paper. No costumes. No participation in school when we get to that point. It’s my responsibility to protect my child and raise him with full awareness and pride in who he is.
How active of a role did your grandparents play in your life? I was extremely lucky to grow up with my grandma and grandfather in my house. My grandma until her passing when I was 12, and my grandfather until he moved south when I was 27. I was incredibly close to them both.
I credit a lot of how I am to them. They co-raised me along with my parents. I keep thinking of my grandparents a lot now especially since having Seiji because both of my grandparents were with me and my brother from day one. It’s weird that he doesn’t have grandparents living in his house, but he’s still so young that it won’t affect him.
I wouldn’t say I come from a close-knit family, but my immediate family has always been extremely close for the most part. My grandma taught me how to sew and knit and crochet. My grandfather took to me school every day of pre-school and elementary. They cooked dinner every night and told me stories of Jamaica and England and taught me how to play cards.
Lately, the thought of grape peeling has been on my mind constantly. When I was little, my grandma and I would watch TV together and either she would bring grapes and a knife or have me get them and she would peel the skin off grapes so I could eat them. I ate them like this for so many years that I didn’t understand why anyone ate the skin or appreciate how difficult it is to peel a grape. It took me a very long time to learn to like the taste of the skin. She did this with lots of fruit, but grapes stand out the most. I think because they are so tiny and delicate and the care and love that you must have to sit and do that without complaint, with joy even, speaks volumes more than a mere “I love you”.
I want the same for Seiji. That level of intimacy. I know my mother would do the same in a heartbeat. I just wish they could be close enough physically for it to be a constant in his life.
Photo of me & my grandma on holiday in Canada when I was 3 or 4.
This week has been a fun one. Seiji has been somewhat on the move for about a month, successfully holding on to everything and pulling himself to a standing position and walking from there. This week, though. This week has been different. He’s mastering standing still while supporting himself. His balance is getting so much better now.
He hasn’t done it for an extremely extended time and I haven’t been able to catch it in a photo yet. I’ve only recorded him a few times. Here he is standing and contemplating eating our couch.
This is one proud mama.
Have you seen these portraits from photographer Jenny Lewis? One Day Young is a series showcasing mother and child within 24 hours of birth. What I love the most is the pride that’s beaming through these women. We’re such powerful vessels. No matter how we get here, we got here because of a woman.
The photos remind me of how I felt after having Seiji and reminded me of how quickly this tiny buttercup phase is. I also love how some of the babies don’t even have names yet. They are that new. Delicious.
Did you have a portrait taken within 24 hours? Professional or not. I think I’d definitely do it second time around.
Jenny Lewis’ site.
More from her project, One Day Young.
Photos: top via mymodernmet.com, bottom via Jenny Lewis
I am excited. I’ve just stumbled upon the perfect harmony for a few things I want to do in life. Time to write it all out and birth this baby! When I have more to share, I will.
In the meantime, here’s something you can do:
I’m starting a new project. I want to collect the stories of expats that start families or move their families to a foreign land. I want to explore what our definitions for home become. I want us to share, as a collective body, all the things that make us different and what makes us alike.
Help me spread the word.
I never carved pumpkins growing up or roasted seeds. I didn’t participate in a lot of things I’d say the average American family does. My relationship with pumpkin is very different. We would have it as a steamed portion with our dinner. Not seasoned and usually with mashed potato, vegetables and some meat.
I always enjoyed eating pumpkin as I smashed it together with my potatoes and gobbled it up. It’s not until adulthood that I realized how many other ways people ate pumpkin and mostly I haven’t tried any of those ways. I’d like to change that. A friend of mine was in NY recently and took a picture of Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancake mix and mailed me a box. I’m excited to try it but also want to know what are your favorite pumpkin recipes? Share links below!
Photo courtesy Smitten Kitchen.
I am a staunch supporter of baby wearing. Around the house and outdoors, too. When I have to cook or clean up the kitchen, I’m usually carrying him.
At 18 pounds and counting, he’s not exactly the lightest bundle to have attached to you most of the day. I really believe that carrying him helped to heal my body faster and has made me much stronger. Plus, I get constant snuggles. Who can resist that?
We were extremely fortunate to be gifted with a Bugaboo Chameleon before he arrived, but have only used it a handful of times. I’m sure we will get good use at a later date, but just think about how many times we’ve gone out and he’s been strapped to our bodies the entire time? What a luxury! Besides strollers being cumbersome, heavy (even lightweight ones!) and generally unnecessary when they are small, I find them to be too much hassle in a city setting. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s Amsterdam and I don’t find them to be comfy for newborns riding over cobble stone streets.
We are also really blessed to have such a supportive set of friends. We were gifted two different Baby Bjorns, an Ergobaby carrier and a Moby Wrap. I swear by our Ergo and I use the Moby at home because I love the feel of softness in the house, but don’t feel like wrassling with all that fabric in public.
For the first 3 months, I could barely carry Seiji for more than 90 minutes without my entire body ready to shut down. I had plenty of physical therapy for that. But we still got out! Thankfully, Dennis doesn’t have an aversion to wearing his child. Some men think it’s not masculine. Whatever. The times I could manage, I used the Moby or the Baby Bjorn. Dennis used the Ergo with the infant insert.
Once I regained strength, I switched to using the Ergo as well. I prefer it over the Baby Bjorn; it’s extremely comfortable for him as well as for me. It supports his hips properly and doesn’t leave his feet dangling. I’m hoping to carry him well past his first or even second birthday.
Do you baby wear? Are there any carriers or wraps that you love/hate?
I was definitely going to write a post this coming week about my extreme difficulties with getting Seiji into human food and what happened mere minutes ago?
Apparently, he’s only really into the foods that go into my mouth. I wouldn’t mind that if my choices were always healthy. But to be honest, they aren’t always are.
Well today I warmed up two bowls of some homemade butternut squash soup for Dennis and myself and Seiji was after my bowl. I asked Dennis for one of his baby spoons and fed him FOUR TIMES from my bowl! He has absolutely never in his entire tiny life willingly opened his mouth for another bite! Yet alone do it repeatedly. I didn’t give him much because it had a lot of seasoning, but he didn’t mind it. I’m glad I saved a piece of the roasted squash for him because now I’m definitely going to blend it and serve it to him. I’m so happy!
AND last week I bought him a sippy cup and he gets how to use it now and sips some water from it.