Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another beautiful baby party

There's another party today. Why are there all these people in the appartment? It's Sophie's beautiful baby party! She got lots of kisses, and fantastic presents (again!).

Big thank you again for those cool presents from all our friends! Fab and I are getting kinda jealous because Sophie has a great travelling toiletries kit from Neal's Yard (courtesy of Eileen), wonderful toys (long list of friends, but notably Michy, Chiara and Gina) and great clothes for winter (yup, the winter collection started already!) After the party, we tried out some of the cool presents, like her great shoes - check them out! Even the box is nice - Thank you Jacopo!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Baby Bling Bling

I am trying so hard not to have a materialistic kid. Really I am.

Our little diva has amassed an amazing kiddie couture spring/summer collection ranging from baby gap to baby dior which probably costs more than both her parents spending on clothes this entire year. At this I plead guilty to reduced charges (most of this stuff were gifts, and I only bought quite lil dresses/shoes under the magic 4 letter word - SALE).

We have spent a small fortune so far on all of Sophie's stuff - some of it was really life-savingly useful, but quite alot of it is sheer marketing genius. Before we had her, I would have thought that Evenflo was some kind of plumbing company. I've learnt a whole new vocabulary comprising of wierd sounding words like catamini and clayeux. I even went through this phase of washing her butt with Avene thermal mineral water because I thought it was going to prevent diaper rash, when I realised that even if I DIDN'T wash her butt for the whole day, she still wouldn't get diaper rash anyway (this is not an excuse to start poor hygiene habits, but the point is that she blessed with an amazingly resilient butt).

I've come to the conclusion that baby-marketing plays on parents worst fears and secret hopes. Company names like Baby Einstein or Bright Starts try to sell you products so that your kid won't be dumb, and words like "developmental toys" are just designed to trigger some kind of parental buying button, whilst all the standard baby food companies roll out their organic baby food range to charge more and you can feel all virtuous about saving the environment too.

I wonder whether all this is really any use? Maybe Sophie would have been exactly the same delightfully charming and happy baby that she is, even if I left her shut up in a cold dark cupboard somewhere (though I frankly doubt it). The point is, I guess all parents want to provide the very best for their precious offspring, though the defintion of "best" is pretty personal.

As a case in point - go to this site and click the video and tell me whether you think that the mummy is unconciously "cueing" her baby by providing the right answer through body language. If you look really carefully at the video, I think that that the second before the baby makes the choice of the 2 answer cards, the mum's hand moves in the baby's direction, or am I just being really cynical?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sleep - Wake - Play - Repeat

Being a full time mom is a full time job. Anyone who thinks otherwise is invited to spend a week with Sophie. Our weekday schedule revolves around 3 naps a day. So if you want to phone me, these naptimes are the usual windows (give or take a 30 min margin):

Sophie generally wakes at 7:30am, and we will have some quiet play for around an hour before we both have a Long Morning Nap till around 10 am. The short midday nap is from noon to 1pm. It is pretty convenient because I eat lunch at home when she sleeps, or she wakes up at 1pm in time for me to have lunch with my friends. The Long afternoon nap from about 2pm to 4 or 5pm, where I usually try to post this blog, call and email friends and family. THIS IS THE BEST TIME TO PHONE ME. When she gets up, we go out again, usually to the park near my home or run errands, before coming home to have some rough and tumble.

Bath time is at 6pm, and we change into PJs and read bedtime stories. Fabien usually comes home at 7:30pm and soothes her to bed while I make dinner. She's asleep by 8pm normally, so we can dine in peace and talk about our day. If it is Friday night we usually rent a video, eat pizzas and beer and veg out.

Because she sleeps so early, she still gets up to eat at around 2am, and I will try to wean her off that feed when she is about 7 months old. But it basically means that I have not had an unbroken night of sleep since she was born. This explains why I need to take naps just like her!

The difficulty now is that I am learning how to drive, and I have to leave Sophie with a babysitter for various times in the day, and the sitters don't lay down the law with her enough to make her stick to the programming. They tend to pick her up when it is time for her nap if she starts fussing and crying. This screws up the nap schedule. I have come home from nights out with Fabien at midnight and she is still awake.

The reason why I am such a nazi when it comes to keeping her on a regular sleep cycle is because I am totally sold on the idea that sleep deprivation is akin to torture. It must be working, because Sophie exhibits all the signs of a well rested infant who :

1) can play quietly by herself for about 30 minutes at a time
2) is adaptable to new surroundings/ slight changes in routine
3) is confident and sociable
4) can be comforted relatively easily (e.g. when she got vaccinated recently she didn't cry)

As a completely random aside, I am looking around in Italy to buy this kind of exersaucer for Sophie, but it is pretty close to IMPOSSIBLE...

Monday, September 25, 2006


What happens when your gummy grining infant starts drooling and chewing everything in sight? Means she is getting teeth that's what.

It just gets dangerous for the breast feeding Mummy. She's nibbled me a couple of times, but I am geting nervous about the possiblity that she actually chomps down. Hard.

Any advice would be appreciated to teach Sophie that I am NOT a teething ring. The standard advice is say "No biting" and remove your boob. Well actually I said was "OOOWWWWCCCHH!!! I am not your fucking chew toy. You do that again and I am considering letting you starve", while she smiles at me with her most angelic look. Normally I don't believe in swearing in front of little children, but there are exceptions to that rule, and it is an incredibly sensitive part of my anatomy at stake here, so you can understand I am just a little upset...

Sophie seems to think that it is a funny game, and tends to give a small nip to tell me when she is done and wants to be removed anyway. Positive Reinforcement my ass... I live in fear!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wookie rolls

Sophie learnt to roll over before she was 4 months old, so now at 18 weeks, she's practiced enough to do it whilst chewing on her toys. It looks really cute, so of course we had to video it to show the grandparents.

If you watch carefully, you will see Sophie making eye contact and a tiny grin, just the second before she rolls over, as if to say "hey check this out!".

Our little super-star, hamming it up for the camera already.

Driving Lessons Part 2

Long time ago, I posted about getting all my multi-coloured papers in order to start learining how to drive. Then I posted about learning all those signs in Italian, because the only concession I got from being a foreigner was that I get to take the test orally instead of written (big deal).

It now appears that there is a new hitch in the system. Basically the Ministry of Transport has decided to change the exam so that foreigners can take a written exam in English, Arabic, French or Chinese. Sounds great right? So they scrapped the oral Italian test (i.e. if you haven't already got a date for the test, you cannot register for one). The new exam will be high tech and computerized blah blah blah, so examiners need a computer swipe card. Only one small problem. The examiners need to PAY for the swipe card, and at least half of them refused to do so, on the basis that it was the Ministry that was introducing the new system, why should the examiner have to pay for it?

So now, there is no oral test, and no written test either. And no information about when this deadlock will be resolved, resulting in all the students (like me) being stuck in limbo. I don't even know which language I should be studying in now. Arrgh ! and after learning words like "dual carriageway" in italian, heck some words I only know in Italian and I have no idea what the English equivalents are.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sophie and grandpa

Oh yeah - Happy Father's day to my own Dad too!

Sophie and Papa

Happy (Belated) Father's Day Fabien! Small little photo montage of your little baby wookie.

She's so cute when asleep...

This is a picture of Sophie about 2 weeks old. Despite this angelic appearance, our little princess has a slightly tyrannical persona - more princess turandot than princess leia. Or maybe more darth vader springs to mind. She's usually a charming and happy wookie but there are 2 things she goes completely nuts about if it aint perfect.

First - the temperature of her milk. She has single handedly terrorised both sets of grandparents, her dad, and various babysitters, by going on a hunger strike and screaming bloody murder if the temperature of the expressed breastmilk is not served exactly at Mom's body temperature. As an exclusive boob-fed baby, she's used to having milk just the way she likes it on tap.

Second - naps. She's been trained to sleep in the dark, alone in her bed, after certain bed or nap time rituals. This is great because she doesn't fuss alot every naptime. I finish the soothing, I put her down, and walk away. She sometimes whines for 5 to 10 minutes, but normally falls asleep by herself without too much difficulty. But now that she has associated sleeping with her bed ONLY, then she isn't going to fall asleep any place else! This can be a serious impediment to a social life.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Baptism photos

Pierre Thibault is one of the best Catholic priest we have ever come across. He is completely open-minded and admits that the Church doesn't always have all the answers, and lots of crap things have been done in its name, but so has a lot of good. After long examination of our values and faith, Fabien and I took the next step to make a promise to God to bring up Sophie within the Christian community, in spite of the doubts and questions we still have. That other discussion is kinda deep - won't go into that now*..

3 September 2006 was really happy and beautiful day (with lots of champagne and yummy food!). Sophie's theme colours (selected by mummy) are pink and yellow, and her theme animal comes from Sophie's World - the rabbit. So we bought lots of pink and champagne roses, and gave out dragees packed in pink and yellow rabbit - shaped sachets...

It was all really cute and girly!

Click on the photo to bring you to the flickr photoset!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where does Mum stop and Baby start?

This is a reflective random post that I was thinking of whilst (still!) uploading photos of our vacation.

Every other mommy that I know (including my own!) had morning sickness whilst pregnant. I had a dream pregnancy with no symptoms. Even the yoga-as-pain-relief delivery worked pretty fine, except for that retained placenta blood loss which made me feel like roadkill for a while, but at least I was unconcious for the gruesome bits.

So when my friend Elaine asked me to give her the down and dirty details of motherhood, I couldn't really tell her any horror stories about pregnancy and childbirth. The biggest mothehood challenge for me is figuring out where Sophie starts and I end.

In the begining, I meant this quite literally, because Sophie used to think that she was one long extension of my boob. Now we are working on getting a feed/nap schedule cast in stone (after the general chaos of holiday travel), so the question morphs to one of parenting philosophy.

Having a baby is a tremendous incursion on your personal freedom. Okay, so you exercised freedom of choice to have a baby, but how much does that curtail what you subsequently do? I don't have any great insights into the matter, but I can share 3 examples of how I put into practice my own philosophy of where that balance is struck.

First I've chosen to nurse Sophie for a reasonably long period of time (at least 6 months). Her pedeatrician (*French of course!) agreed that I can drink alcohol, preferably just after the last feed of the night, because it would have gone from my system before her next feed 6 hours later. So I usually have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner after Sophie has gone to bed. The only thing is, sometimes she is still hungry after her last feed, and wants a second helping. So she gets the alcohol in the milk once in a while. Does that mean a complete ban for me? Hell, no. She's getting a taste for Pauillac really early. Check out how she grabs that champagne flute.

Second I drag a 10 week old Sophie on a last minute holidays with me, because I want to do the same kind of stuff I used to do before having her. I don't know if she enjoyed it as much as I did, because she sure won't remember any of this. But it may have delayed her development of a regular schedule. Oh well, guess we have to work on it now that we are back in Turin.

Third I realise that buying her lots of entertaining toys really means buying myself some time on the computer to keep in touch with family and friends by email, skype or this blog. My full time job is showing Sophie lots of new stuff, reading her books, and translating wookie-speak into actual mom-commands. But do you read personal email whilst you are in the office? You need breaks in any full time job, and "Mom" is 24/7 FULL time .. I will be the first to admit that Sophie's toys are for my benefit! Maybe she could be even smarter or develop even faster, if I spent more time with her and less on my laptop. But I have chosen my own pleasure and entertainment over those marginal minutes of interaction time with my kid. But hey - she doesn't seem to mind.

Do those examples make me out to be a selfish or irresponsible mommy?

I don't think so.

But it is figuring out the answers to questions like these which constitute (for me anyway) the biggest challenges of motherhood.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Back in Torino

We got back from a 7 hour drive from Troyes last night. This is the first long summer vacation that Fabien and I have taken with Sophie and we really enjoyed it. There's a ton of photos to put up and show off, but just a soundbite for now. We've mainly spent our vacation in:

1) Fontainebleau - looking at the castle, INSEAD and Horse Week

2) Lille - where Sophie got baptised by the same priest that married Fabien and me

3) Hardelot - where Sophie actually enjoyed dipping her feet into the Atlantic

Yeah - I know this looks like a "Visit France" tourism advert, but it is really a lovely country, especially when you get to stay in somebody's house!

Specially for godparents, grandparents and other parents -
Sophie just turned 4 months yesterday and can flip from her back to her front and do lots of little baby push ups, speak Wookie to her reflection in the mirror, play quietly for up to 20 mins by herself with her toys, and generally charm the socks off most people.

She has also shared teething toys with various dogs in return for tasting their fur balls. I think she likes labrador fur best. ( I can just hear my mum fainting now) heheheh ...

But really I am convinced that the breast-fed baby has a whole bunch of antibodies because she has never been ill despite happily kissing dogs whenever her parents aren't looking.

So to for my friends with babies and babies to be - Breast is still Best