Monthly Archives: July 2007

Virtual Nesting part 2

Just an update on the progress of my virtual nesting using Google SketchUp. Still learning, still playing around, sure to make changes and additions to the nursery as well as continue to play with different colors and textures…

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Fun Flatware

wmv2.pngI really love this baby flatware by German design company WMF. The combination of shape and color are perfectly suited to the developing motor skills of the youngest diners, while the design is fresh and simple. For those slightly older, the stainless set for children is made for little hands to grasp. While WMF is mostly available in Europe, they do have an American supplier and oddly enough, even boast an Amazon.com store where the prices are unbeatable…

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More taste expansion…

Why not further encourage a multitude of taste experiences by serving delicious dishes on these great map-themed plates by notNeutral. Each plate depicts one of four cities: Los Angeles, Shanghai, Cairo, and Berlin…

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Budding Tastes

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I recently read an article discussing how a child’s food preferences start to develop in utero as the fetus receives nourishment from the tasty swamp of amniotic fluid, seasoned, sweetened, and/or peppered by his mother’s dietary choices. It is in this vicarious way that babies may become indoctrinated into a culinary culture that worships garlic, curry, pickled herring, or searing chillies; tastes considered the norm on one point of the map and yet acquired on others. So, seeing as though I have spent my entire pregnancy here in Italy and have been lucky to have existed on the wonderful variation, freshness, and inherent simplicity of the Italian diet, I wonder just how my little boy’s tastes will be effected. Maybe this is a far fetched notion, that little *Mario* will eagerly open wide for the airplaning spoonful of mashed steamed artichoke hearts that I have prepared for him, just because there were so many tastes of carciofi in the womb, swimming around with red peppers and delicious broccoli raab torteloni.

My hunch is that it’s a stretch, however that doesn’t mean I can try to get him to like vegetables at an early age. This past 6 months has seen a barrage of articles discussing the children’s menu mentality that Americans so often possess; the cyclical reasoning that lazily allows us to think that we feed our little ones chicken strips and fries because that is what children naturally crave. Obviously it is just a matter of exposure, be it in utero or those first mushy meals, that guides our earliest acceptance of tastes and one thing I have always admired here in Italy is how vegetables never seem villainous. They are in many ways just as cherished as the dolce served at the meal’s end. You will never see as many fresh, colorful, and strangely shaped variations of vegetables as you will find in an Italian vegetable market. And though to the average American, most may seem quite exotic, in truth they are all commonly prepared and appreciated components of the Italian diet, both to young and old (and Italians have one of the longest life expectancies in the world, so it can’t be a bad thing).

As I shop in the mega grocery store down the street from me here in Milan, I frequently browse through the baby-stuffs isle and check out the array of jars lining the shelves, in hope that there will be radicchio puree or mashed artichokes, but to my dismay it seems that there exist the same simple flavors of bananas and peas that dominate in the US. But, I have since been informed that many Italians simply make baby versions at home of whatever they are eating and eschew the store-bought variety altogether. So to close this post, I am sharing an Italian recipe for a baby mush that is sure to give those taste buds a stretch.

Pumpkin and Rice for Baby (Ricordate che i bambini adorano la zucca e questo bel piatto arancione e’ una deliziosa tentazione**.)

1.You cook or steam brown rice

2. You add sprig of rosemary when the rice is 75% cooked

3. You then add small chopped pieces of pumkin (fresh best of course, but not necessary) and stir until the rice is cooked.

4. Before serving to your delighted baby, you sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil and a little parmegiano.

Delish.

**this is taken directly from the recipe that i translated and reads: “remember that babies adore pumpkin and that this beautiful orange dish is a delicious temptation!”

Natural Childbirth in the Old World

Here I am, in my 7th month (almost 8th) of pregnancy, getting very big, feeling very akward, sweaty, and nervous about my impending first baby and birth, and I can not stop thinking about how much I do not care for my OB here. No intention of running around bashing caregivers or cultural practices, but I have been very unpleased with my care here in Italy. My doctor, who is supposed to be one of the very best, has been nothing if not condescending, manipulative, and less than eager to give me information that I ask for.

So after 7 months of very expensive private care, a very unnecessary surgical procedure that I am sure was purely financially motivated (and about which i am very upset), and general lack of respect (I have on occasion received compliments on my breasts while naked and in stirrups– i don’t care about cultural differences, I don’t need this), I have decided to ditch this guy and look for the natural, unmedicalized birth that I wanted from the beginning but was told was basically non-existant here in Italy.

I have no desire to be tied up in stirrups on my back, while the midwives push on my abdomen to “speed up labor”. I do not want to receive the automatic episiotomy, or be forced into a c-section should my body/baby take longer than the doctors would care to hang out with me. I am taking control of my situation and finding the birth that I want. I realize that one will never know how the delivery will actually transpire, but I can atleast make a concerted effort to avoid too much medical intervention, which has been my experience up until now.

After much digging around I have found two options for natural, unmedicalized birth here in Italy and I am happy to share them here on my blog. The first is in Tuscany (not necessarily convenient for anyone in Milan, but keep reading) and is unique in its combination of natural birth and agrotourism. It is called Nascita Dolce, or Sweet Birth in English and they also assist in home births and accompanied hospital births. From week 38, you can come and stay on one of their 3 properties nestled in the Tuscan hills and enjoy delicious bio/organic meals, fresh air, and beautiful countryside as you await labor. They speak English, have a labor room, pools for water birth, outdoor pools for swimming and exercise, and even a bio/organic nursery school on the premises. Sounds utopian, and looks lovely as well (will update the blog when I receive more info):

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The second, and more likely option for me is right here in Milan, and is the only birthing center of its kind here in Italy. Casa di Maternità is a group of 4 female obstetricians (one of whom is English speaking) combined with several educators who have a beautiful birth and health facility that promotes an demedicalized approach to childbirth in a nurturing, warm environment full of choices and options. They encourage the mother to return home as soon as possible with her new baby to bond in the safe comfort of home, and provide daily home visits and checkups. I will update after my appointment with them…eager to learn more. But for now, here are some photos of their labor and relaxing rooms from their new blog http://viamorgantini.blogspot.com. Looks so much more friendly than the sterile clinical hospital environment I have witnessed thus far.

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Virtual Nesting

One of the most frustrating things about getting ready for my little guy while being abroad is that despite my intense nesting instincts, living in a furnished Italian rental apartment severely hampers my ability to really create a nursery. Not only do my rigid and old fashioned landlords refuse to let me rearrange the furniture to accommodate a nursery, but they also insist on my keeping the world’s (not just Italy’s) most depressing, dusty oil paintings on the wall. Gotta love old people in this country.

Since it does look like we will back in our cozy (and owned) Brooklyn apartment in the next 6 months or so, I decided to start designing a virtual nursery using the free software Google SketchUp, which is an amazingly user-friendly 3-d conceptual design program. I am just learning, so there will definitely be more to come. But for now, here is a peek at what my little guy might have to look forward to once he no longer has to stare at these anachronistic Italian walls 🙂 If you are at all design-inclined or want to be check the program out– you will be surprised how easy it is to create your own virtual baby haven. Have fun…

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Pancia Pics

As I am living away from those I cherish (with the exception of my husband) I have devised this silly way of creating belly updates for my family and friends who are unable to experience my transformation. You might notice below that my first post has one of these rediculous, ill-photoshopped concoctions. I’m thinking I will do a regular fantasy photo update here. Totally nerdy, but too much fun. I believe the first picture was taken around 26 weeks, so here are my most recent 31 weekers:

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