Thursday, April 28, 2005

An Excursion

When I got home and Evelin told me that Celeste had just awoken from a 214-hour nap, I was a little worried. However, with no sleep or feeding pending for the immediate future, I decided to do something Celeste and I have yet to do: an excursion by ourselves. She we've taken walks/strolls around the neighborhood, down to the park, and along the Northwest Branch, as well as trips to the supermarket, without Evelin, but I've been loath to load up the car and head OUT somewhere because of feeding/sleeping concerns.

This time, I threw caution to the wind, the Piggyback in the back of the T.R.U.C.K., and a bottle into an insulated bag (just in case), and Celeste and I headed out. (Although the story does not turn upon this fact, it is worth noting that I did not think to load up a diaper bag ...)

We headed across the Anacostia (actually the Northeast Branch at that point) and headed south into the District, making our way to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, which is probably one of the least visited national parks in the country despite its urban location. As the name implies, the park is a big group of ponds with waterlilies, lotuses, and other aquatic plants. There also are a lot of turtles, frogs, and other animals, including this time of year Canada geese (Branta canadensis). A few years ago, the gardens also added a boardwalk out into the Kenilworth Marsh, which gives you an idea of what the banks of the Anacostia used to be like before it was dredged and manipulated, eventually leading the river to silt up to the point where ships could no longer bring goods to the port of Bladensburg.

Celeste did pretty good in the Piggyback; no fussing, except towards the end of the trip when I took back my hand that she'd been holding for a little while (it gets tiring to keep an arm lifted above your head and twisted back just so someone can squeeze and occasionally gnaw on it ...). I'm pretty sure she didn't notice the tadpoles, and I'm not sure about the turtles, but she definitely saw the geese, particularly the pair that swooped over us as part of their landing approach into one of the big ponds. She also kept a close eye on the two or three that hissed at us as we walked past. The paths through the ponds are fairly narrow, so there were times the geese either had to move or we had to agree to pass each other as widely as possible. Some were okay with jumping into the water, but a few held their ground and acted tough.

Out on the boardwalk, we saw some raptors — turkey buzzards or some other sort of vulture, I think — gliding about, as well as a few mallards, many more geese, and assorted songbirds. Celeste didn't seem to be looking in the same directions I was most of the time (although, even with the little mirror that comes with the Piggyback, it's hard to see what the person in the pack is up to), but she seemed to enjoy herself. I could feel her weight shift to look around in different directions a couple of times, particularly when we startled some mallards and they took flight from fairly close to us.

We made it back to the car and home without Celeste needing to be fed or anything; in fact, we had a little bit of hang out and play time at home before she wanted to eat, and — surprise, surprise — she fell asleep during her bottle and ended up having a good 30 minute nap.

The rest of the afternoon was the usual, play here, play there, jump in the jumper for a while; the only thing new is that we sat in the backyard for a bit. I'd just refilled the birdfeeder and I wanted to see if she would notice if any birds came to visit. The birds, however, weren't coöperative, waiting until after we'd left to see what sort of seeds were now on offer.

More About Celeste's Food

So, with the exception of the yoghurt, cereals, teething biscuits, and carrots, we're making all of Celeste's food. (Carrots should be bought because the nitrate levels in fresh carrots can vary greatly depending upon local soil conditions, gardening techniques, etc.; it's safest to buy carrot baby food.) However, making all this food is not as simple as it might sometimes seem.

Avocado and bananas can just be smushed with a fork or potato masher; for peas this works reasonably well, too. Butternut squash, however, seems to need to go through the food mill or something. Evelin made some up this morning and just mashed the squash; this evening Celeste took a few bites, made a scowl, and spat back a big fibrous knot-o-mush. I think the mashing of the squash is a bit like felting; it makes the fibers knit together a bit.

The other learning experience was with the parsnips last night. Instead of boiling them, Evelin thought to bake them. The end result was some very tasty parsnip fries, however, it took a lot of moisture out of them, and since they were cut into smallish chunks, there was a lot of "sealed" surface for each chunk of parsnip. Long story short: They wouldn't mash with a potato masher, and I didn't pull out the vegetable straining attachment for the mixer. Instead I tried the food processor and adding some water. That worked a little bit, but there were still a lot of chunks, so I tried working it all through a strainer, pushing the mash through with the back of a spoon. This worked pretty well, but one bag of parsnips yielded only two or three servings of baby food.

Next time (and there will be a next time, because it seems like she likes them, at least when mixed with apples), I think we'll try steaming them and probably using the mixer attachments ...


Anita said...

Do you guys use frozen peas? Frozen organic peas???

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes we did. Why do you ask? (the peas in our garden are merely shoots at this point). Actually, I put the peas through the blender last time.

Anita said...

WHere do you find frozen organic peas? Down here in backwards-ville I haven't found any!!

Anita said...

And, btw, you've just been stuck by Anita.

T. Carter said...

Stuck? That has me a little worried ...

The organic stuff has been popping up in more and more places around here. We can get both Cascade Farms organic frozen veggies in the local Giant Foods and Safeway, as well as at Whole Foods and the local co-op. Giant also has a house brand of organic stuff.

I'd think that Harris Teeter would have something, or what's that place downtown by the Mint? Maybe they'd have something?

Anita said...

The HT near us is lame. I may try Reids near the Mint or Talley's which I went to yesterday and get angry at b/c it's so overpriced. We get a whole foods next year and I am bouncing on my toes I'm so excited about it. But it's a year away. We need to do some peas, although our guy loves zukes and green beans. But he should be eating peas, too.

T. Carter said...

Whole Foods does rock, but waiting a year would suck ... Reids! That's the place I was thinking of ... failing that peas should start showing up at farmer's markets soon, maybe you can find some fresh ones?