Monday, April 28, 2008

Chocolate Mint Cookies

From the gluten-free blog Karina's Kitchen, my wife and I have slightly adapted her Mint Chocolate Chip cookie recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer combine:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lowfat yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix well. Then add the dry ingredients, not mixing until all are added to keep the xanthan gum dry until mixing:
  • 3 cups gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Mix well.

Bake on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. Cookies are done when the top surface pops back up after being pressed lightly.

Cookies bake best when on a silicon mat and pressed somewhat flat (by hand with wet fingers works fine) before baking. Also works as a large bar cookie.

To make these Passover safe, use three eggs; omit the baking powder and baking soda and instead give "lift" by separating the eggs, whipping the egg whites, and folding the egg whites in as the last step before baking. This works very well.

UPDATE: We switched the flours we were using (1 cup millet flour, 1 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour) for 3 cups of our mix, and replaced half the oil with yogurt; the result is healthier and tastes almost the same.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mobiles for Infants

Newborns do not have stereoscopic vision yet, and do not perceive colors well.

They enjoy looking at patterns, and can subitize.

One chore today is to make a mobile for the nursery. Thank you to my wife's father for finding that link so I don't have to draw patterns myself!

Skateboard Update

A long time ago I linked to this Rodney Mullen Video. This morning I found another nice one of his feats.

Also, here is a terribly cute video some kids made to teach basic skateboarding tricks.

The weather has gotten warm and sunny. I'll start by mowing the lawn. Perhaps I'll have enough energy to get on my skateboard again.

I still can't ollie. Now, after a few months without skateboarding, I am wondering if will even be able to kick turn.

A Call for Help: Crock Pot Recipes

What are your favorite crock pot recipes?

Since my wife is both vegetarian and gluten-intolerant we have to adapt almost every recipe we come across. Thus I don't ask for recipes very often.

However, with a new baby in the house I'll make an exception. Life would be just a little bit simpler if we had more crock pot recipes we liked, and every "just a little bit" might help a lot.

If your recipe is already vegetarian and/or gluten-free all the better! Otherwise be sure to share how great it is to entice us to go through the experimentation to convert it. ;-)

On a related note, we know many tricks to change the consistency or texture of tofu, but not when doing slow cooking. General tips on how to make tofu behave in different ways with a crock pot would also be appreciated.

A Call for Help: Text File Children's Stories

What are nice text-file e-books to read to infants and toddlers?

Currently when I'm soothing our son to sleep I read stories by Thornton Burgess.

Reading text file e-books from my PDA works quite well, since I do not need to have two hands free to turn pages.

The Thornton Burgess stories have a pleasant, calming cadence. Partly this is due to sentence length. Partly it is due to repetition. Yes indeed, a little repetition can be soothing.

(I prefer text files since I can quickly make sure they have proper line wrapping. Other e-book formats are usable but not my first choice.)

UPDATE: I remembered Andrew Land and his many stores. But I can't remember which ones have a rolling cadence.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Halo Sleepsack

I've written about the cloth diapers working well.

Another neat baby item we're enjoying having is a Halo Sleepsack which my grandmother bought for the us. Whomever invented this was even smart enough to have the zipper open from by the feet, to make changing the baby easy.

We're clueless enough that it took us two days to realize we could adjust the velcro to move the "swaddle" piece of fabric down the garment so the baby would not wake himself trying to suck on the top edge of it. After that discovery, no complaints at all.

This garb and a onesie are perfect for at home all day long. We can open it up to let him wiggle, or wrap him tight to help him fall asleep. (We're fortunate that unlike many infants ours does not wake up, trying to suck, if he puts his own hand on his face. If that were true then swaddling would be even more important!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another Few Photos

Why not?

Mommy and Baby Out Back

Daddy and Baby Out Back


Sleeping Again

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cloth Diapers II

I wrote earlier about our plan to use cloth diapers. They are working great.

We even found a local supplier, Cloth Diaper Outlet, that has cute cloth baby wipes.

We wound up only getting the bumGenius 3.0 diapers. A relative bought us a set of 24 as a present. They work flawlessly and even fit a six pound, one ounce newborn. We use Bummis bio-soft liners to make cleaning the diapers easy and (at this point) not messy.

The choice of laundry soap used on cloth diapers is very important: most detergents will ruin a cloth diaper's absorbency. We use Charlie's Soap which is more expensive than normal laundry detergent, but when ordered in gallon size and used in a front loading machine it is not very costly. Also avoid normal fabric softener sheets: use dryer balls to soften fabric and reusable anti-static cloths.

Other equipment includes a "wet bag" to use as a trash can liner for dirty diapers (the bag goes into the laundry with the diapers, so own two), a space heater since warm air on a baby's tushy makes for a more quiet and happy changing, and a thermos pump for keeping warm water available to put on the cloth baby wipes. Finally, the diaper cream with the fewest strange ingredients seems to be Blairex's Butt Paste.

Oh, and I now have a DadGear "Sport Bag" sized diaper bag which works as both a messenger bag for my teaching materials and diaper bag.

UPDATE: Two comments about diaper creams. First, because diaper creams will clog up the absorbancy of cloth diapers it is important to use disposable diaper liners if a rash prompts you use diaper cream; however, the disposable liners cling to the baby's skin, which is not what you want when trying to cure a rash. Second, after a few weeks of use ti seems Blairex's Butt Paste does not have any advantages over plain zinc oxide ointment.

UPDATE 2: Hi, Heather! I do not think the soap was to blame for the rash. Rather, our son had a couple very wet nights and the Bummis bio-soft liners cling to him so much when wet. Since the rash was slightly yeasty our pediatrician told us, twice a day for 2-3 days, to use a mix of 1% hydrocortisone cream and generic Lotrimin cream (with a disposable diaper so the cream does not hurt the liner-less diaper). This did the trick. We're now trying to use the cloth diapers without the liners.

More Pictures of the Newborn

More photographs, by popular demand...

Two Days Old - Make it So

Pensive with Big Hat

Sunshine on Day Six


An Abundance of Baby-Related Blessings

Our son was born at 8:50am on Sunday, April 6th, 2008.

The local hospital (Sacred Heart Medical Center, for those wondering about the initials SHMC on the linens in the photos below) was our home away from home until Wednesday at 1:30pm.

During our stay at the hospital God provided for us in many miraculous ways, which I am pleased to share in thanksgiving and to give God glory.

The surgeon that performed the C-section was very skilled. My wife was and is healing unusually rapidly and with much less pain, discomfort, and bleeding than is typical. After four days she had normally stopped taking her more severe pain medication and was only taking ibuprofen, and was out in the sunshine in our back yard. After nine nights she was able to sleep on her stomach: a comfort something she had been missing out on for several months! Now she is moving about normally and disgruntled that by her doctor's orders she must wait five weeks before swing dancing again.

There's a bit of race between a new baby's metabolism starting up and the mother's milk production starting up; when our son was quick to develop his hunger the hospital was able to provide donor breast milk to feed him all he could eat on that first Tuesday and Wednesday, until my wife was producing enough milk herself. This would normally only be available to babies in intensive care, but the hospital had some it felt it could spare.

My wife is so sensitive to gluten that crumbs too small to see can cause a reaction. (We need to rinse off our groceries before putting them in the pantry, and I usually change clothes when I get home.) We expected her to have a gluten reaction in the hospital since so many people would be in and out of her room, and hospital staff is trained to use gel to sanitize hands rather than washing with soap and water to remove crumbs. This would have been very bad: gluten attacks shut down her metabolism enough it doubles how long she takes to recover from illnesses and probably would have also interfered with her milk coming in. But the hospital was able to give us our own room (most "mom and baby" rooms are doubles) and everyone was so dutiful about washing hands that no gluten attack happened.

None of these things could have been requested, let alone expected.

Less dramatic, but also a blessing, was an explanation for why our son remained in breech position despite all our efforts to turn him, and despite his feeling so loose in the womb. My wife and I were not comfortable with a c-section just because of a breech position, for the more common "Frank breech" is effectively as safe to deliver by labor as a normal head-down baby (according to numerous PubMed articles my wife read). But then a c-section was certainly required when the water broke before real contractions began, and it turned out the baby was in the rarer "footling breech" position which is definitely not safe to deliver by labor. So there are no remaining doubts about if surgery was the right choice. We even know that the breech position was not due to womb shape.

Finally, I must be thankful that I didn't faint during the circumcision. I do not do well with seeing blood. I had no worries about the operation since I had talked about the ceremony with God and had not been given any warnings. But even without worries, watching it carefully made me sweat profusely and sway enough I needed to kneel to avoid falling. Our pediatrician is a wonderful person and doctor, and deserves our thanks as well.

Brit Milah

I'm back to blogging. Life as a new parent, with family visiting is busy. Moreover, Jewish tradition asks that a newborn boy's name be kept private until the circumcision ceremony and it seemed odd to blog about our without using his name.

(Update: Just because blogs are so private, his name has been removed from this post after a few days.)

I'll start with what is interesting to the least number of people: his Brit Milah (Covenant of Circumcision) ceremony. There is surprisingly little uniformity to these, especially within Messianic Judaism. The ceremony below includes both what my wife and I found meaningful from the range of traditional options and some other parts that God said he wanted included when I prayed about it.

Blogger can do Hebrew text but I do not know how to make it do so, so I've removed the Hebrew in what follows.

In our son's ceremony our pediatrician was the mohel and I had roles of both father and rabbi. Normally the godparents have a role, but the godparents are out of town.

The room is set up with the medical equipment, "Eliyahu's chair" pillow, and kiddush supplies.

The baby is brought in. Everyone says:
Barooch ha-ba b'shem Adonai.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai.

The mohel reads about God's covenant with Avraham from Genesis 17, to summarize the reason for the occasion.

This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your seed after you. Every male among you shall be circumcised: you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin.
It will be a token of a covenant between me and you: he who is eight days old will be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations.

The rabbi reads about God's covenant promise to Avraham being God's Spirit, from Galatians 3 and Romans 8.

Even as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness" [Genesis 15:6], now those who have trust are children of Abraham... The blessing of Abraham might come on the nations through Messiah Yeshua that all might receive the promise of the Spirit through trust... If you are Messiah's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs of this promise... The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

The father prays his approval:

Praised by Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by your commandments, and has commanded us to bring him into the covenant of Abraham our father.

Blessed are you, Adonai, who gives from your glory to flesh and blood.

The mother prays the words with which Channa rejoiced over the birth of Shmuel:

My heart rejoices in Adonai, my horn is exalted in Adonai: my mouth is enlarged over my enemies; because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is none holy as Adonai; for there is none beside You; nor is there any rock like our God.

The rabbi places the baby on the pillow and prays a verse from Psalm 65.

Asher teev'char oot'kareev, yeesh-kon chatzay-reycha!
Nees-b'ah b'tov bayte-cha k'dosh hay-chale-cha.
Blessed are those you choose and bring within, that they dwell in your courtyards!
We will be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the Holy Place of your temple.

The parents together pray for their son: that he and God are faithful in their covenant, that he will be brought within God's presence, and that he will be filled with God's Spirit. The spontaneous prayer concludes with the Shehecheyanu.

Barooch atah Adonai, Elohaynoo Melech ha'olam,
shechey-anoo, v'keeyem-anoo, v'heegeey-anoo laz'man hazeh.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe,
for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.

The mohel performs the operation and returns the baby to the arms of his mother.

Everyone says two kiddush prayers, then drinks.

Barooch atah Adonai, Elohaynoo Melech Ha'olam, no-tayn et meech-yayv l'nafshotaynoo.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who gives his sustenance to our souls.

Barooch atah Adonai, Elohaynoo Melech Ha'olam, boray p'ree hagafen.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

The rabbi formally announces the baby's name to the community by reading:

Preserve this son to his father and mother, and let his name be called in Israel , son of and . Let the father rejoice in he that comes from his loins, and the mother be glad with the fruit of her womb. May your father and mother rejoice and may she who gave birth to you exult.

His Hebrew name is .

The mother explains why the name was chosen. Everyone sings a couple songs. (These two activities allow for rejoicing and also provide time to make sure the healing has properly begun.)

Hodoo l’Adonai kee tov, kee l’olam chasdo.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his mercy endures forever.

Seem shalom, tovah, oov'rachah, chayn, va'chesed v'rachaeem
alaynoo v'al kol Yisrael am-echa.

Put peace, goodness, blessing, favor, loving-kindness and mercy, on us and on all Israel your people.

The rabbi concludes with the Priestly Blessing over everyone.

Y'varech'cha Adonai v'yeesh-m'recha.
Ya-er Adonai panav ay-lecha vee'chu-necha.

Yeesa Adonai panav ay-lecha v'yasaym l'cha shalom.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine upon you and show you his favor.
May the Lord lift up his face toward you and give you peace.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

6 pounds 9 ounces, 19 inches

Click on pictures for big versions. :-)

First picture

Resting after entering the world

Wiggly in first diaper

Eight hours old