Sunday, 27 October 2013

Run down....

I'm feeling run down. Two months ago I went back to work. In the past 2 months I've had the flu once and a cold twice. Ugh.

I know it could be worse. And I try to remember that. Thankfully (knock on wood), S. hasn't been sick, and Rob is a superdad. Looking ahead to this week, I have 2 extremely long and busy days at work on Tuesday and Friday, Wednesday S visits his new daycare in the morning for the first time, and Thursday is Halloween. So...I'm feeling run down.

I hate this feeling because I feel like I'm being neither a good mom nor a good wife. I am tired and cranky with my son and my husband; which I instantly regret. I just think to myself, if I was only feeling better, I could do so much more, and we'd have so much more fun.

As I watched S play after dinner, counting the minutes to bed time, it dawned on me that he has no idea I'm not feeling great. He's running around screaming and squealing and showing me books and toys. To him, he is having fun. It's just a normal day. This is life when you're one. And maybe he has to scream a little louder or bang me on the head with a flashlight to get any ounce of energy and response out of me, but it's a good lesson to be taught; that this is life, and sick or not, I can still try to make it a normal day.


Friday, 25 October 2013

Sleep. The new S-word

Do you know what sucks? Staying up late (10pm haha!) on a work night to write a blog post about going back to work after having a baby, only to have said baby wake up at 10:30pm and then stay awake until nearly 2am.

Sleep is the real s-word in our house. Since Seb was born, sleep has been my biggest struggle. My Achilles' Heel. My kryptonite. Not that Seb was ever a particularly bad sleeper. I'm sure he's totally normal. I just had an expectation in my mind of when he should be sleeping through the night or how long he should be napping, and nothing anyone could say to me could shift that expectation.

Lately, if Seb wakes at night, it takes him quite awhile to fall back asleep on his own. If one of us goes into his room and cuddles with him, he instantly falls asleep in our arms, but when we put him in his crib, he often wakes right back up. It's a delicate process; placing a 30-pound sleeping toddler in his crib gently, like a ticking bomb. Then, if he happens to stay down, how do you get out of the room? Our house is nearly 100 years old and the floors are squeaky when you breathe on them with any amount of force. A stealthy exit is not guaranteed.

And there are the questions. What does he want? Is he hungry? Is he thirsty? Is it his teeth? Is it because he goes to daycare now? What should we do? Should we give him some Tylenol? Should we let him cry it out? If we go in, is he learning a bad habit? Is he scared? Was it a nightmare? Does he need a nightlight?

Finally, if he's had a rough night, after Seb does fall back asleep, I am so wound up it can take me another hour (or longer) to fall back asleep myself. Which is what happened on this particular night.

I read recently, "No one ever looks back and thinks 'I wish I held my baby less'." I can't find where I originally saw this quote to give them credit, but I wish I had read this earlier. Now I think of it every time I hear a little cry from down the hall in the night.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

What Halloween Looks Like at our House

It's one week until Halloween. Seb will be one day shy of 18 months old, so he doesn't really get it, but it's fun to celebrate just the same. Here are a few little things we do to make Halloween special at our house.

Every year I like to buy one decoration to add to our home. Two years ago, I bought that burlap Halloween bunting. You can find a similar one on Etsy.

Then last year I picked up these two board books: Goodnight Goon and Spooky Spooky Spooky. Goodnight Goon is a nice little break from Goodnight Moon which is often in rotation at our place before bed, and Spooky Spooky Spooky is the perfect length for toddlers.

This year, I found these pumpkin gel clings at Target, and S loves helping us count them.

Our Halloween pièce de résistance is Ghostie. My husband, Rob, is a computer graphics guy so for the past couple of years we have projected this little ghost video out of our bedroom window onto our front lawn. The first time we did this, Ghostie just floated around the lawn while the kids chased him down and jumped on him. Last year, Rob controlled it from our iPad. Ghostie would float around randomly, and then just as the kids caught up with him, Rob would move Ghostie out of the way, resulting in much squealing and more running and jumping. We have new neighbours from England across the street, and this will be their 5-year old's first Halloween. I can't wait until he sees this!

Finally, here are S and his best friend on Halloween last year. They were Astro Boy and Superman. Yes, they are holding hands, and yes, the cuteness factor was pretty high.

We are hoping to recreate this pic with the boys again this year, but they are much squirmier now so we'll see if we can get them to sit still for a photo op!


Monday, 21 October 2013

4 Great Apps for New (or Newish) Moms

Here is a list of four great apps that I would recommend for new/newish moms.

The Wonder Weeks

What this app does:
The Wonder Weeks is based on research that there are 10 major mental developmental leaps that your baby will go through during their first year and a half. You enter your baby's due date, and then follow him through his leaps. For each leap, the app will give you a summary of that leap, the abilities your little one may be able to do at the end of that leap, signs that your baby is in a leap (increased fussiness is a big one), and then the best part is that it offers strategies for helping your baby through their leap.

Why I love this app:

I found that S followed these leaps relatively closely, and it was great to learn specific activities or experiences I could do with him to help him get used to his big, new world.
Cost: $1.99


What this app does:
This app keeps track of all of the vaccinations your child has had or will need to have in the future. If you turn the location feature on, it will also notify you of any major disease outbreaks in your area.

Why I love this app:

I love finding something awesome for Canadian moms, and this app was created by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. The other very useful part of this app is the electronic version of the yellow immunization card (I always forget the paper one at S' checkups).  I can email to myself if I need a copy or right to S' daycare.
Cost: Free

Gymboree Play & Music: Baby

What this app does:
Designed for babies under the age of 1, this app gave me 365+ Gymboree games, activities, and songs to do with my baby based on his age in months.

Why I love this app:

Sometimes it's hard to know what to do for fun with a newborn. I loved that I could make a favourites list of the activities we enjoyed the most, and there are songs with lyrics and music included in this app.
Cost: $2.99

*We also have the book Gymboree 1001 Fun Ways to Play: Quick, Easy Activities for Your Baby and Child which has a ton activities for little ones newborn - 5 years old.

Relax Melodies (my husband's fav.)

What this app does:
This is the mother of all white noise apps. You choose your favourite type of white noise (we usually use city rain) and then let it go. We have it running on an old ipod in S' room when he sleeps. There is also a timer feature, but we don't use it.

Why I love this app:

Anything that helps S sleep is a plus in my book, and this app works really well.
Cost: Free (but there is an upgrade with even more selections for $4.99)

I know there are a ton of apps for charting breastfeeding, but I never kept track with that much detail. Let me know in the comments if you found one you loved or if you have another other app you think is essential for new mamas.



Thursday, 17 October 2013

Working Girl

It's been two months since I've gone back to work after an eventful 16-month maternity leave. Before I had our son, I hadn't planned on taking an extended mat leave but shortly after he was born, I knew I needed more time. However, I also knew that at some point I would have to go back to work.

I wasn't too scared about going back to work. I knew I would miss S. a ton, and I knew it would be a big change in routine for our family. I worried about how S. would adjust to being with a babysitter all day, even though she was a close friend whom he knew well.  But, I really enjoy my job. I consider many of my colleagues friends, and I missed them. And after 16 months with a baby, I was looking forward to something new. I was looking forward to doing something different with my brain and spending time with adults who would talk back to me when I talked to them.

I know not everyone feels this way. I have friends who wish mat leave could last forever; who wish being a stay at home mom was more realistic in the urban centre of Toronto. It made me really wonder, was I wrong for looking forward to going back to work? Did it mean I loved my son less? I don't think so.  He is safe and happy with his caregiver, and I love picking him up everyday. When I get there, his favourite thing to do is to show me all of the toys he's been playing with that afternoon.

There are many aspects of maternity leave that I miss. I miss the quiet alone time that S. and I used to have so much of. I miss going for walks with him in the stroller, and I miss my mommy friends - the women who were so essential to me during that time with a new baby. Not that any of us knew what we were doing. It just felt so good to be in their company.

And if I'm being honest, what I really do miss is nap time! I'm used to a break in my day from 1-3pm to get some personal things done and refresh before round 2. I'd check emails and Facebook, read, make dinner, watch some Netflix, or even nap myself! That's not happening anymore.

But I know S. is building resilience and experiencing great things in his day. And when we are together in the evenings and on weekends, we are still a united family. And when I hear someone at work say to me "We missed you here." or "I'm so glad you're back.", I know that being there is an important piece of who I am as well.


Sunday, 13 October 2013

My Year of Rookie Mom Challenges

I don't really know how I stumbled upon the Rookie Moms blog a few days before my due date with our son Sebastian, but I am sure glad I did. Like Whitney and Heather, I love lists and challenges, and when I saw their list of 52 Weekly Challenges for Rookie Moms, I knew I had found something great. I knew nothing about being a mom so the idea of someone giving me instructions for something to do each week for a year was very appealing.

What I love about these challenges is that it is impossible to complete this list on your own. For some of the challenges you must seek out other moms, spend time with your partner, meet up with your friends and family, or even (gasp!) spend time alone. Actually alone. Sans baby. We've heard motherhood is isolating, and this can be true, even on the very best of days, so it is essential to “get out of the house every day” and build connections with your family and friends, both old and new.

My Favourite Challenges

#2 – Go on a recon mission
One of my most proudest moments over the past year was the first time I took Sebastian somewhere on my own. He was just two weeks old, and we went (in the car!) to Chapters to get a latte and a cover for my new Kobo and quickly check out the children's book area. We were maybe there 20 minutes, but it was a huge deal to me.

#9 – Go to a mom and baby movie
We went to Movies for Mommies and saw the Great Exotic Marigold Hotel. Successful mom and baby outing.

#10 – Plan a mom's night out
One by one, many of the women in my book club are becoming mamas. We had one particularly lovely night out on a patio last July with great wine and wonderful company. We try to do this regularly and even did an overnight trip later in the year.

#20 – Visit a farmer's market
Along with grocery shopping, S. and I enjoy going to the farmer's markets together. The first time we went, I picked up some zucchini, took it home, and tried out my Baby Bullet and voilà – baby food.

#46 – Host a clothing swap party
I wasn't sure about this one, but it ended up being really fun! I can't wait to host another one. I really think everyone who came went home with a few 'new' goodies.

#50 – Launch Camp Grandma
I knew S. was in good hands and so my husband and I enjoyed a night (and morning) off.

#52 – Celebrate the Big 0-1
Along with celebrating Sebastian's birthday, my husband and I also celebrated making it through the first year.

I also loved the unique pictures we got of Sebastian on all of our excursions: finding some cool graffiti, taking a walk near the CN Tower, visiting the pumpkin patch, and making our Modern Family video and picture.

Baby Sebastian's Favourite Challenges

#5 – Go to the grocery store for just one thing
Sebastian loves grocery shopping. He used to just make flirty smiles at everyone. Now he also enjoys taking things out of the cart and throwing them on the floor when I'm not watching.

#11 – Visit spouse at work
It's always fun to visit daddy at work.

#12 – Host a breakfast club
While we didn't begin a club, we did have 3 other mamas and their babes over for brunch. It was super fun to play with the babies together.

#27 – Go swimming
Sebastian loves swimming. Loves it. Loves it so much he can't put his face under the water during the Humpty Dumpty song because he's too busy laughing and squealing with excitement that his mouth never closes.

#32 – Find bookstore events for babies.
We did find a free storytime at a stay and play café near us over the March Break. Seb loves stories and really enjoyed the added bonus of finger puppets.

#39 – Slide at the playground, baby style.
S. has always enjoyed sliding at the playground and at Gymboree. However, when at the playground with a baby, swinging was always the biggest hit for us.

#41 – Check out some music and movement classes
I thought this could be much earlier on the challenge list. I took Seb to Gymboree at 8 weeks old because I needed to get. out. of. the. house. Maybe 8 weeks is early, but we really liked it and kept going to Gymboree for the rest of his first year.

#50 – Launch Camp Grandma
My parents were delighted to have Sebastian for a sleepover. They kept him up (a bit) late to play, fed him chocolate ice cream, and I'm pretty certain he loved every minute of it.

#52 – Celebrate the Big 0-1
Who doesn't love a birthday party? We celebrated with family, friends, and yummy cupcakes.

A few challenges didn't work for us as well as the ones above:

#4 – Visit a fabric store
We received many a receiving blanket as gifts so, instead of a fabric store, we visited an art store and looked at all the future art projects we could do together.

#21 – Talk about something besides sleep
Epic fail for me. I have talked and read and talked and read some more about sleep. I have been making serious efforts to relax in this area, but it is not easy.

#33 – Get a free 8x10
Someone in one of our mommy groups was looking to get her name out there in the world of photography, so she took some photos of our little ones one day. Apart from that, I had trouble locating a place to get a free 8x10

#47 – Join a children's museum
There isn't a children's museum in Toronto so this one was tricky for us. Following the tip of another mom, we ended up at the Art Gallery of Ontario's Hands-On Centre for kids one afternoon.

Throughout the year, I kept a journal of my rookie mom challenges and wrote a short description each time we checked one off the list. For Sebastian's first birthday, we put together a time capsule for him to open on his 18th birthday, and I've included this journal. I hope he will enjoy reading about the fun adventures we had together during this special year. In Canada, we have are eligible for a 52 week maternity leave so I had lots of time to complete all 52 weekly challenges. I send mad props to any mom who completes this list while working or with other children at home.

Thanks again to Whitney and Heather for their guidance during my first year as a mama. Now to search out how to keep a toddler busy.....

This blog post was initially published here in June 2013 on the Rookie Moms blog.

My life according to Great Big Sea

Here's a fun post I did ages ago on Facebook featuring my favourite band, Great Big Sea. I thought it may help you learn a bit more about me.

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title.

Pick your Artist:
Great Big Sea

Are you a male or female:
Scolding Wife

Describe yourself:
Something Beautiful

How do you feel:
Lucky Me

Describe where you currently live:
Sea of No Cares

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
Walk on the Moon

Your favorite form of transportation:
Donkey Riding

Your best friend?
Bad as I Am

You and your best friends are:
Company of Fools

What's the weather like:
Summer (haha! I wish! It's October in not summer)

Favorite time of day:
The Night Pat Murphy Died

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
Here and Now

What is life to you:
French Perfume

Your relationship:

Your fear:
End of the World

What is the best advice you have to give:
Let it go

Thought for the Day:
What Are You At?

How you would like to die:
The Old Black Rum

Your soul's present condition:
Dance Dance

Your motto:
Consequence Free

Have you done this before? With which bands? I'd love to hear or see your responses too!

This is the beginning

This is the beginning of a blog where these things matter: devoted families, extraordinary friends, working mamas, having fun, and experimenting with life (ie – Pinterest DIYs that may or may not totally fail!).  Enjoy!