Monday, September 23, 2013

Back to Work Adjustments

So I've done it. I've added the title of working parent to my repertoire. After my summer long hiatus of blogging I'm back with my thoughts of how we're adjusting to our new life as a dual working family.

I was ready to go back to work. I missed chatting with other adults, having responsibilities that went beyond diaper changes and heating milk, and I was excited to have things to talk about other than the number of poops my little guy had each day. I had the luxury of staying off beyond the year mark and feel it was this extra time that allowed me to prepare mentally to take the big step back into the working world. My little guy had gained some independence over the summer and is one of those babies that loves to occupy himself and can do so for hours. I found myself wanting more things to do that were different from my usual daily tasks. We had a great summer and while there were some mixed feelings when the season dwindled down, I was more than ready to move into the next phase of my life.

Daycare adjustment has been fantastic, with little tears, in fact any of them were my own. I was okay leaving him, not worried or stressed, but did get a little upset as the reality that I would not be his primary caregiver anymore settled in. I have decided that at this point in my life that being a stay at home mom is just not for me, but I have the utmost respect for those that do it every day.  That said, it still saddened me to know that my time as his main caregiver has come to an end.

After getting used to the first few weeks of routine, seeing what our busy morning getting ready to leave looked like, and developing a pick-up routine, we are adjusting well. The first week back I felt like a zombie most days because getting used to full days out of the house and away from baby were challenging. Plus little guy was going through another period of fitful sleep, that thankfully ceased when we went extinction cold turkey - we gave up going in to check on him. It worked!!!! He sleeps great now, over 12 hours. I'm not sure how I could go to work each day if he didn't. The zombie time was short lived and now I feel rested and that I'm starting to settle in to my new home life and my new position.

Of course there are downfalls to everything - he's already picked up a cold and had a couple sick days, and appointments that myself and hubby have had to balance. Then of course there is the mommy guilt. Sometimes when I realize just how much I love my job I feel a little guilty because I am essentially dropping off my own child for someone else to raise during the day. I miss him so much and enjoy our evenings and weekends together, but I do like having a different set of tasks each day. I know he enjoys daycare and that it's good for him to be around other children. I suppose no matter what we do as mommas there will be some form of guilt for enjoying ourselves without baby.

All that said, the very best feeling is when I go to pick him up at the end of each day. I'm so excited as I drive to his daycare and see him light up and move mountains to get to me as fast as he can! That excitement I wish to see until he's a teenager and runs the other way!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crying it Out

How is it that after all this time, I'm STILL here? Let me clarify. 'Here' means up at night, listening to that ear splitting mind numbing late night cry that comes back night after night no matter what I have tried. I feel as though I have fallen into a trap of mommy mistakes that I am destined to repeat again and again in order to keep my sanity. Or am I? Have I found a way out, or is it something that I am being tested on and will have no other choice but to give in?

My son STILL wakes in the night. STILL. It's been on and off since he was 4 months old. The bliss that allowed me to have bragging rights after he slept through the night at just 9 weeks lasted just under two months and then things went steadily downhill. At first these wakeful episodes were sporadic, and easily justified with teething, belly cramps, growth spurts, illness, etc.  It's amazing what you will tell yourself as a parent to justify interfering with a baby's night time wails. The truth is, you will do ANYTHING sometimes to silence that piercing scream because you just need sleep. Surely that's not too much to ask.

The problem with that is, once you start interfering it becomes a routine. In the past, sometimes his wails would receive immediate gratification - a crib side visit from both mom and dad, a brief belly rub, a fresh nummy and some benedryl for what we believed to be aching teeth and gums.  Other times after twenty plus minutes of cries he would get some time in the rocker with mommy and a fresh diaper. Nights when it was longer, and I mean HOURS longer, or none of this worked, one of us would rise and drag our sleepy selves to his fierce screams and rescue him from the throes of his crib. It was here we would commit the ultimate crime - I would nurse him and we would allow him to fall back to sleep in our bed between us. These desperate measures soon became habit, because more often than not, they were the guaranteed fix. So we would reason with ourselves. Why would we let him cry for such a long period when we were just going to give in and do this eventually, why prolong the inevitable? Why not just do it the moment he begins to spare ourselves the discomfort?  Problem - we found ourselves locked in a vicious cycle. Then a new problem. This foul proof method began to fail. A lot.  And sleeping with a baby is hard! He kicks. He sprawls out. I can't move for fear of waking him. Now what?

Here's what I know- I am tired of that and finally at my breaking point. It MUST stop.

So following a couple of major schedule disruptions from our vacations where all nighttime 'rules' were abandoned for the greater good of sleep, I have had it with the nighttime waking. I can't take it anymore and (as of right now anyway) am willing to put in the legwork to let him cry it out simply because I am out of ideas.

I have figured out that I can't simply lie in bed and listen to the wails. When I have done that I can't decide which is worse - the steady screech or the false- hope inducing silence that lasts sometimes as long as a minute only to be shattered by yet another ear splitting scream. Both types leave me wanting to stand with my head planted firmly against a wall, pulling away only to slam it  back and forth repeatedly in frustration. Clearly this is not a healthy coping strategy.  So I have conjured up a new tactic. When the cries start, I get up. I retreat groggily to the living room to watch tv, blog, read - do something to distract myself in order to be awake enough to monitor the persistent cries but not in the semi awake state that was my cozy bed. I have found that while this is frustrating also, it is not nearly as bad as thinking I can go to sleep only to be roused steadily every thirty seconds as the shrill cries continue.

There are still troubles here though, however. I have a breaking point. After two hours, I need to do SOMETHING different. When this point nears, I conjure a plan of 'ok, so I'll change him and cuddle him, but no way am I feeding him' etc.  Progress is welcomed, no matter how small. If he cried for two hours one night and only an hour and 40 minutes the next, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then there are the set back nights when he digs in an goes even harder the next night for a whopping three hours. Once pain is ruled out and stubbornness is determined as the contributing factor (usually because he is wide awake, babbling at this point, ready for play) you reach a point where all your hard work is threatened and you are hitting that place where you will resort to your old damaging habits out of desperation. It's just soooo much easier.  'Come on. Go get him. Feed him. Put him in your bed. You'll both win. You can SLEEP.'

Trouble is, he seems relatively un-phased the next day, whereas I am a zombie. He's up at his regular time, busy as a bee and I am in a daze, desperate for nap time for some rest. There are days when I feel I simply have no drive for anything extra, that I just can't keep up with him, and how is that he was up as long as I was, but he's FINE??????

As I write this blog I am hopeful for a solution as we enter hour two of his latest wakeful episode at what is now 2:30 am. Wish me luck that I can outlast him in this battle, and that the nighttime wars will soon be over.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Extended Breast Feeding

Today's post is long overdue..Momma has been taking a writing break. Call it writer's block or mommy busy time, or whatever you want - but finally I'm making my way back into the blog world.

As most of my readers know I have survived my little ones first year on planet earth. Among other goals, one of the "buzz word" goals I have heard all year is breastfeeding your child to the one year mark.   From the start I always took the mantra of breastfeeding as long as it worked for both myself and my son and now that he is past the one year mark - it is still working.  This decision is mine alone and I am very comfortable with it but there are (as always!) issues with it in my world and in the social world around me.

I can deal with the issues in my world. Basically I can strip them down to some sharp teeth and attention shifting. He sometimes nips me, rests his chompers while suckling and pops off without warning to follow a sudden sound or sight.  Those things I have adjusted to. It's the outside things that I struggle with.

Is it just me or is there a negative connotation associated with breastfeeding a baby to a certain age by most of the general public? And is it just me or does the media perpetuate this? Time magazine had a 'controversial' cover a few months back of a little boy standing on a stool so he could feed while his mother was standing and posing for the cover of the popular magazine. I've seen it on news reports, magazine articles - how long is too long? When is the "right" time to wean? Many movies make fun of it by having children who can walk and talk sidle up to their mothers and help themselves to some milk amidst judgemental and harrowing glances from the other characters present - poking fun at this in an extreme way.  The sad part is, before baby I was inclined to side with this "disgusting" view of it. Funny how being in the situation has shifted my views, as is usually the case with everything.

At this point in mine and my son's life I am still comfortable feeding him from my breast. The number of feedings, the times of these feeds and when he eats other foods are up to us and we are happy with where things are. I FEEL that stigma that I should have started weaning by now though and I know I have to rise above it, but it can be tough. 

My motto - what works for me right now may not work for anyone else now or ever. I am not causing any harm to anyone (other than the occasional bite for myself....haha) and the message I would like to send - you never know how you would react to a situation until you are actually in it.  Before you can walk in someone else's shoes, you must first remove your own.

I plan on getting back in the blogging game more regularly now. Stay tuned for some new post 1 year old baby topics :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

It is the eve of Mother's day, my second officially, but the first one that I have my wits about me. Last year my son was just two weeks old, and things were chaotic in my home and my life. Now we have reached a more calm atmosphere, not totally calm, just more calm - we do have a one year old living here after all!

These past few weeks we have seen so many changes as his personality emerges. He is a feisty little fella that has learned much to my surprise even at this young age how to manipulate a situation. He has a fake cry and loves to perform for visitors, he is happy to empty toys all over the floor and stack blocks, he loves to jump and laugh - he is his own little person. The development he is making is remarkable, now he claps and cheers on demand, he has learned to play peek a boo by raising a blanket over his face and is smart enough when we pretend we can't find him to be quiet and giggle uncontrollably when we finally "discover" him.  All that said, he has decided to change his bedtime around and his night wakings have started again, so bye bye sleep and free time in the evenings. I can't wait for that to be sorted out again. It's a good thing he's cute.

Being a mom really is the best job on earth. Don't know how else to explain it, or what to say to really express just how happy I am that tomorrow will have significance for me personally once again.

Happy Mother's Day to all the new mommies, to those that are seasoned, those that aspire to be and those that are gran mommies! Have a great day!!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Birthday Bash!

Time is getting short for my little guy's first big birthday. It has inspired me to talk about what else? The significance, the party and all that goes with it.  

The first birthday party is one that is very significant for your little one and for you and your partner as well. It's the very first time someone in your little family other than yourselves gets to have a birthday. You created a birthday in your life, and I think that's very cool!

For me it will undoubtedly always be a time of reminiscing. Before that famous birth date I was not a mother, and unknown to me I had all kinds of time on my hands. When I was pregnant I was aware that it was going to happen, but the difference between knowing it's coming and actually experiencing that feeling and living the reality of it is two completely different things.  I am reminded of the labour and delivery and the first days home and all the firsts and unexpectedness and things that I experienced. I think of that feeling that you really do forget what life was like without this little person in it, and the feeling of pure joy that words will never really express. It will always be my little one's birthday, but for me it will also be my "becoming a mother day".

Spending time around my mommy friends I have heard of many different party scenarios from the no party with just cake and mommy and daddy to the big bash with every friend, neighbour and relative in attendance. As usual I am going to fall somewhere in the middle with a family party, some food and cake and basically take the time to acknowledge my son's first year.

Whatever you plan to do, here are a checklist of some things to consider :
  • Venue - will you book a public place or have it at home?
  • Guests - Are you having family and friends? Just family? If so, extended? Immediate? If friends - everyone? Or just those with kids?
  • Food - Are you going to serve a meal? What kind of snacks/prep is involved? Are you considering allergies?
  • Cake - Are you going to bake your little one's first cake or are you going to opt for cupcakes or a speciality order? Should you choose this option here, I would highly recommend Cake Queen to take care of this for you. Check out her pictures of speciality cakes - she can make one to suit your tastes :)
  • Pictures - Are you going to be the designated photographer? Or do you have a relative/friend to ensure you capture the moment? Will you opt to hire someone to take care of things so you can relax and enjoy the party? If you choose #3 - may I suggest Knotty Pictures? Check out the portfolio on the website
  • Decorations - Are you having any? Are they going to be homemade? Or are you going to search them out retail?
  • Date/Time - Are you doing a morning or afternoon? Can you have it on the actual birthday or will it be a nearby weekend?  Have you considered nap time??
  • Entertainment - this may be more for older children but you never know! Do you want a magician or a hired entertainer? Are you going to opt for party games like pin-the-tail-on-the donkey or a pinata? Or will it just be kids playing and doing their own thing?

Ultimately the type of birthday party you have is up to you as parents. If you want to keep it simple do just that, and if you feel the urge to throw a big party, that's up to you too. As always, everyone is different and the important thing is to do what you want and try to avoid someone on the outside making that call for you. Do what you're comfortable with!

Happy Birthday Babies!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Baby Products - Momma Weighs In

After my first year of being a mom I have had a chance to try all kinds of baby products and equipment. There are things that I wish I hadn't bothered with, others that I loved from the get-go, or wished that I had all along, and some are things I liked, but I could live without. Again, as always - just my opinion!

  1. Pampers diapers. By far the best brand in my opinion. We tried out all kinds for long enough to know what worked best. The end results : Huggies leaked, Kirkland LEAKED, and while we did like LIFE brand from shoppers, Pampers were hands down the very best.
  2. Travel System  - I had a four wheel system that was big and bulky. I liked it because it closed up and had lots of storage underneath but it was hard to access when the carrier was in it.  It was really hard to turn around and got caught on all kinds of things when we were going around, especially aisles at stores. I would opt for a three wheel system if I were doing it all again.
  3. High Chair - I had a stand alone high chair and while it was good, I recently switched to a booster seat that attaches to a chair. This is more practical and less expensive. It takes up less space in the kitchen and can be taken with us more easily when we travel. In hindsight I would have just purchased the booster and not bothered at all with a clunky high chair. 
  4. Jolly Jumper -  I'm talking about the simple harness over the door. This thing is awesome! I was skeptical in the beginning because it appears to be unsafe , but once I got over that I realized how great it is. My son improved in his leg strength after just a month of bouncing and now he loves getting in it. Not only is it a great way for him to release his energy and build strength, it has become something of a reward for him.  
  5. Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium. This item was one of the greatest things we had for our little guy. It attaches to his crib, plays different songs, lights up and the fish inside can move and water bubbles appear when you select the option. This calms my son and allowed him to learn to put himself to sleep in his crib. It also has a remote which is bonus. Fisher price toys in general are great, I like all the ones we have.
  6. Carter Clothes. These clothes by far are my favourite. They fit better than most others, and are great quality for a great price.
  7. "Net" like ball - I'm talking about a plastic ball that is full of holes, great for a baby to grip. I don't have a brand preference here. This is a very simple inexpensive toy and one of the best. Babies love balls but they have trouble gripping them and keeping them, but the holes in the ball are great for ensuring they can play with them on their own.
  8. Nuk Nestle Bottles and Playtex Sippy Cups. The Nuk nipples were the best for my little one and the best bottle he used by far. Playtex are a close second in bottles but come up first in Sippy Cups, at least for the ones without straws. They are easy to grip and don't leak, while the Nuk Sippy Cups do leak.  
  9. Wipe Warmers and Diaper Genies. Convenient and good, but could take or leave. The wipes are warm and that's great, but when we go out they aren't but luckily my son never noticed the difference. The Genie is convenient because its right there and solely for dirty diapers, but to be honest, it wasn't as great as I expected for keeping away the stinky poopy smell. It needs to be changed more often than I thought in order to keep the smell away and it does fill up really fast. As far as places to put diapers I think it is one of the best, but a less expensive closed garbage can might be just as good. 
  10. Baby Mum Mums - These are great for snacks on the go and were a wonderful thing that aided his independent eating. They taught my son how to chew and hold food and I would highly recommend them.
  11. Disney Baby First Years Winnie The Pooh Calendar. This is a personalised calendar that allows you to put in the months and important dates using stickers provided. Each month you can add a picture of your little one as they grow. We loved this one for keeping track of the important moments.
  12. Sophie the Giraffe. Admittedly I was skeptical at first about this toy but it was great, especially for teething. It is easy to grip and makes noise, and I now understand why just about every child has one.
  13. Bassinet. I transferred my son to his crib really young, but the bassinet was great for daytime naps and helping him know the difference between day and night. We kept it in a lighted noisy room during the day and nighttime he slept in his dark room in his crib, so he soon got the concept of sleeping longer at night. It was also good travel bed for the early months as the top part of the one we had could be detached easily.
  14. Breast Feeding Pillow. I only used this for the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding. I did not find it was overly helpful beyond that for feedings. However, later on when my son started sitting up on his own and was still wobbly, this served as a great cushion that fit snugly around him.
  15. Pack and Play.  This is a must. Keeping baby safe and a place to hold toys without making a huge mess all over the living room. It's also good for sitting as if he falls he won't hit as hard, or for reaching up and eventually learning to pull himself up using the sides for assistance. It collapses quickly and takes up minimal space so it great for storing away or taking with you. We use it as a baby bed when we travel since our son outgrew his bassinet.
  16. Umbrella Stroller. Get one! They are usually inexpensive and are so much more compact. Great for tighter spaces and for travel, and are so much easier for getting around. 
These are just some of my thoughts on some of the baby products I have used in the past year.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Job Description

Are you innovative, creative, resourceful? Can you multi-task? Do you aim to please, like to solve problems, love a challenge? If your answer is yes, this may be the perfect position for you!

  • Hours will vary - you will be required to work days, evenings, and weekends
  • You will be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Your boss is younger than you and has less experience
  • You will be expected to take a salary cut, plus there are no health benefits
  • You will be expected to anticipate and determine your boss's every need. All communication initially will be non-verbal.
  • There will be minimal to no training provided
  • You will be expected to make decisions with very little time and will have to think on your feet constantly
  • Breaks will vary in schedule and length and could end on a moment's notice, and there will be days you will not get one at all
  • Your day to day responsibilities will change constantly and vary in intensity as time progresses
  • You will be responsible for providing food, transportation, and basic needs(ie. clothing, personal hygiene) for someone else before you will consider yourself
  • There is no sick leave, and any vacation time you take, you will likely have  to pay someone to take your place, and you are still on call
  • After holding this job for a year, you will be expected to return to your normal career and have this as a side job, or you may continue to do this job full time with no pay. As with vacations you will likely have to pay someone else to take your place, and you are still on call.
  • Your boss does not care if you do not sleep
  • You will likely be required to go through a 9 month preparation period prior to starting that will forever change your physical appearance and capabilities, and you will not be any more prepared for your daily tasks once this is completed.
  • There is no guarantee that you will be appreciated for your efforts
  • You will love this job and do it more willingly than any other!

Job Title : Mom

Monday, March 11, 2013

Here Comes the Sun !

Just a quick note today - hoping everyone is enjoying the sunshine the past couple of days! It makes such a difference to the mood and feel!

Have had a busy time lately - will make up for dragging my heels with my next post. Just had to comment on the weather today.

Here's hoping you got a chance to take your baby for a walk! I'm so ready for summer now, had forgotten how great it is. The sun really makes the dreary winter seem so much better.

Stay tuned for more detailed thoughts on some more baby topics coming soon!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Daycare Diligence

As promised, here is my checklist of questions and things to look for when seeking daycare for your little buddies and gals!

  1. Registration? Day cares that are registered are more carefully screened, regulated, and provide receipts. Things like child to adult ratios, menus, and safety regulations are all closely monitored. This very item may be one of the most important factors.
  2. Insurance.  Is the daycare insured in case of accident or emergency?
  3. Location, location, location. To be practical, a daycare must be either close to your home, or close to yours or your partner's workplace. Having to do a lengthy commute for daycare drop off may cause more trouble than it's worth. Keep this factor in mind. It may seem small in the beginning, but it affects your time and gas mileage.
  4. Cost. This is another huge factor. You have to be able to afford where you send your child, plain and simple. If lunch and snacks are included, prices are naturally a little higher. Daycare is getting more expensive but it does vary from place to place, so do your research on what is typical before you venture out.
  5. Certifications. Does the caregiver have Early Childhood Education certification? Do they have First Aid and CPR and if so, what levels? Have they had a Code of Conduct Screening? Ask about these items and ask to see the certificates to prove it.
  6. Ratios and Numbers. Knowing how many children and at what ages they are is very important prior to hiring a caregiver. There are limits on the numbers of children below the age of two and again on the total number of children in the daycare. Ask and determine if it is within guidelines for your child's age.
  7. Menu. Do they provide lunch and snacks? This may be important, especially if you are very busy. If food is served, will you receive a weekly menu in advance?If so, ask to see a sample from previous weeks to determine if you are satisfied with the food that will be served to your child. As a rule of thumb, if you aren't comfortable serving a menu item in your home means you are probably not going to like it coming from a daycare.
  8. Times. When can your child be dropped off? Is it early enough to accommodate your work schedule? The same applies for pick-up times. You must ensure that you are off in time to pick up your child or you can at least work out something with your partner and boss to ensure that someone picks up your little one on time.
  9. Transportation. The daycare may offer day outings where applicable and it is important that you are aware of these events and that proper licenses are held by potential drivers of vehicles that may transport your child.
  10. Transition. Does the daycare provide a period where you gradually transition your child and slowly increase their time spent getting used to the facility?
  11. Vacation. When you take your child on vacation, it is assumed that you will continue to pay to hold your spot during that time. However, does your worker assume that you will pay for their vacation? Do they provide a substitute worker when they take vacation, or are you expected to provide alternate arrangements for that time?
  12. Storm Days. Storms are going to happen, but is the daycare going to be open? Is it likely that you will have to take a day off to care for your child if there is a storm?
  13. Sick - What is the policy on sickness? Many registered establishments require all children to be sent home/kept home when showing any signs of illness, particularly if it is contagious. It can be disconcerting to pick up your child(ren) only to discover that they have been around a child who has been very ill all day and remained in their presence, or that your own child has been sick and you haven't been contacted.
  14. Ages/Additional Children. What is the maximum age your child can attend a particular daycare? Do they offer an after school program or will you have to find alternate arrangements when you child starts school? If you have another child, will he/she be guaranteed a spot or at least be on top of the wait list?
  15. Play Space. Is there a designated play area or do they have the "run of the house"? Is there an outdoor area and is it fenced in? Are there safety measures inside in appropriate places? What activities are routine and what other types of activities are going to be offered? How much space is for play, and is it sufficient? Where do the children nap, where do they eat? Is it in a home setting? All very important questions.
  16. Pets. Are there animals in the home? Besides the potential for dirt, dust and allergies, there may be safety issues here.
  17. Leaving notice. Establish guidelines for how much notice you will require should the caregiver decide to stop operating, or if you decide to transfer your child to another facility.
  18. References - Ask for professional and character references, and do your homework and check them!
  19. Previous Relationship. If the caregiver is a relative or a friend, this can go either way. Be careful here. Things can get sticky when it comes to your child and while you may trust a familiar person more with their care, you may have a greater chance for a difference of opinion ruining a relationship.  Decide if you can handle it.
  20. Gut Feeling. To me, this is the single most important factor. Upon the interview with the potential caregiver if there is some nagging unpleasant feeling that you just can't shake, listen to your instincts. Sometimes you may not be able to put your finger on it, but if you are not fully comfortable with the person, do not send your child to them. Remember, your child is going to be spending the best part of their day with this person, and you have to trust your feelings about their capabilities.
Ultimately, these factors will balance out differently for every parent, and you have to decide what will be deal breakers and what will be things you can learn to live with. For example, you may overlook location issues for an excellent facility; or you may accept no meals offered if most other things meet your criteria.  It is unlikely you will get every single item that you wish for, but it is up to you to decide ultimately what is most important.  Hope this list helps! Good luck with your search!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Dirty Four Letter Word

Work. Yes, that's right work. What word did you think I was referring to?

To work or not to work - I'm sure that just about every mommy (and daddy too) has struggled with this question at one point or another, or perhaps on and off throughout the course of their child(ren)'s life. This is probably one of the toughest ones to tackle when being a parent. As always, this is a sensitive subject, so keep in mind these opinions are my own and I am only one person! I respect the views of my readers and know that we may not all agree on this topic!

For me the reality is - life is expensive, and let's face it - there is a certain standard of living we expect, there are things we can't imagine living without, that we feel we shouldn't have to live without, at least at this stage in the game. I feel as though I worked really hard to get my post secondary education. I did without a lot of things and got by on very little or no income for long enough. I feel like I paid my dues (literally) and deserve to reap some of the benefits of my hard work. There is no shame in being a stay-at-home momma, but for me personally, I feel if that's where I am going to land, then why did I spend so much time and money on a hard earned education in the first place? I could have started my family at a younger age if that was the case instead of waiting to get things with my career ironed out first.

The money is one thing, but there are some other reasons I consider returning to work, and feel guilty for the selfish motive behind them. I miss the workplace chatter and social aspects, I relish the idea of having something else in my day other than dirty socks or sticky floors, and I would love to do something else that I love doing, something that I have been trained to do, something that I miss more and more.

Still, I am very torn. I love being a momma. I love being home every day with my little guy, being the person he knows best, the person responsible for his unbringing. I get to witness first hand all of his growth and development,  I get to teach him things, I get to be his strongest influence. I don't want to miss anything, but I know that's impossible.

 If I am not with him all day, someone else is. I struggle with the notion of letting him go, of trusting someone else with my most valuable asset, of missing him so much. I have not been away from him for more than a night or two since he was born, and even then I have felt 100% comfortable with the person taking care of him.  Returning to work will force me to select someone to take care of him - someone who right at this moment is very likely a stranger to me.

While I have decided to take a little extra time off work to soak him up, I know that eventual date is looming when I will drop him off somewhere. The day is coming when I will not have the freedom to run errands, go on play dates and to reel babies, or to just take him for a walk in the afternoon simply because I feel like it. My life will become more hectic when rushing home after daycare pick-up will become the norm. We will have things like supper, bathtime, and getting ready for the next day all standing in the way of the short amount of time left to play and cuddle, and just be.  Having a job and not being home means giving up a lot of things too.

I have struggled with this since before I gave birth, but the longer I spend at home, the more I know that I will get over the transition, and that it is important for me to return to work. It will also be good for my son to socialize more frequently and consistently with other children, for him to get used to being around more people on a regular basis. It will do him good to have something else in his life besides mommy and daddy.

I both look forward to and dread the eventual return date, and know that it will be rough for awhile. I have to remind myself to make the most of the time left and spend as much time as I can with him, so we can just be.

Stay tuned in coming posts for a daycare search checklist!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Momma Loves her Coupons!

Today I am going to mention some of the great coupons and samples that I have recieved over the course of my pregnancy/maternity leave.  Some you may know about, others you may not - look them up if you didn't know! Free stuff is great!

  • At Motherhood by Maternity, the maternity clothes store, if you register with them you will recieve some email offers and some free samples in the mail from various baby companies.
  • I have recieved samples from Enfamil ( and Similac in the form of cans of powder, individual pre-mixed bottles, cans of lactose free milk, and individual packets of ready mix powder.  My son was breastfed most of the time, but there were a couple of emergency moments when formula was necessary. It was great to have formula in the house for those times when we didn't have time to run out and pick out a formula.
  • I registered on and recieved a diaper bag (and it's my favorite one, it's a small backpack), Good Start Formula, cereal samples, a Nuk bottle and pamphlets of information. You can register for each baby that you have too!
  • Between these companies I also have gotten several "cheques" for money off purchasing formula, coupons for discounts off Fisher Price toys and discounts on baby food and baby cereal. They are for small amounts but every little bit helps, especially when on a reduced income!
  • On both Pampers and Huggies diapers and wipes there are small tags with codes that you can register online and collect points to obtain items at a later date.
  • Air Miles has several baby items as rewards for various amounts of miles
That's all that comes to Momma's mind at this point in time, but if there are more I will mention them in future posts. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Missed Vacation

Sigh. It's snowing outside. Again. The wind is pounding my house, snow sticking to my windows and my driveway is heavy with large chunks of the stuff. I know, it's winter and it's all part of it. It's just that I wasn't supposed to be in the winter season this week, I had plans to spend this week in the sunny south. Those plans rapidly disintegrated after this wild weather weekend, however.

In October of 2012 we booked our first flight vacation as a family of three. We were going to brave it and take our infant on a plane ride to a warmer place. The time we selected was in the middle of winter to escape the depressing snowstorms and slip into a time of shorts and sandles, something I have never done in the month of February. I was very excited to say the least.

As with any vacation, the anticipation is a large part of the fun. Imagining yourself sitting in a pool, shopping in outlet stores, visiting local attractions, seeing palm trees and feeling the warm sunshine on your face. There is a lot involved in going on one of these trips too. You get things ready. You purchase special travel items good for plane rides and away from home stays. You get passport pictures taken and apply for your passport. You eat all the food in your house so nothing goes bad. You do laundry. You pack and write lists so nothing is forgotten. You mentally start checking out of your every day life and start getting excited to get away from the mundane everyday chores - even if only for a little while. Then you sit and wait for that magic time when you leave for the airport to board your flight that will carry you into your much needed escape. All of that happened for me these last little while, all of it, except the trip to the airport and the plane ride.

About a week ago, I saw the dreaded 5 snowflake display on the Weather Network's display and the looming giant green snow bubble on the CBC weather report that was moving along the coast. Then they put a name on this storm - Nemo. I had a sinking feeling when I heard that this storm had a name that I may not be escaping the winter after all.

Well, Nemo found us and did he ever. A yucky windy day on Saturday led first to a delayed and eventually a cancelled flight. I wasn't super surprised, but I was disappointed. I got on the phone with the airline as soon as I read that dreadful word "cancelled" on the airport website and after 40 minutes on hold and another 45 minutes re-booking I felt good. Sure, we were losing 2 days of vacation but at least we were still going. And we had a better flight, it fit better around my little baby's schedule. I came to terms with what we had lost but looked forward to making the most of what we had left and focused my attention to waiting for our Monday flight.

On Monday morning, I got up and started to get ready to head to the airport. I kept checking the airport website and just about every time I discovered that we were delayed yet again. Suddenly our ideal flight time was getting less than ideal and arrival was later and later. Every second we were delayed was yet another second that we were missing out on our hard earned vacation. Not to mention what the waiting was doing to me. I had held it together after Saturday's cancellation but on Monday after the third delay I started to crack. Finally, the inevitable happened. Flight cancelled. Because it was now cutting into more than a third of our total vacation, we decided to cancel the entire trip, cut our losses and try again another time.  Sigh.

So I had to unpack without ever having used anything in my suitcase. It had never been so tidy when it was unpacked! I had to switch gears and realize that there was hardly a scrap of food in the house and that I better get moving before any more weather hit and restock my cupboards. I needed to turn off the mental excitement and get back to the reality of winter. And I was sad. I had been so looking forward to this trip and just couldn't believe that I wouldn't get to be where I had dreamed of being for months.

So in attempt to stay positive here are some "it could be worse" statements that have helped me realize this isn't so bad.
  • we did all of our waiting at home, not stuck in some airport or on a tarmack
  • our trip was cancelled because of weather and not because of sickness or issues with us or our family
  • we didn't have to take a partial vacation after the first flights were cancelled
  • my son is too young to even notice what is going on so he is not crushed with disappointment
  • baring any insurance red tape, we should get a refund and can re-book a new vacation for later
I feel for all those people who know exactly what I am talking about. We try to escape the season of winter, but mother nature is the boss and sometimes wants to keep us right where we are, irregardless of our plans. I will get over this and I'm one of those people that believes that everything happens for a reason. I am not quite ready to venture on any airline website and look for new vacation spots just yet, but I am getting there. 

I'm pretty sure that I'm burned from ever wanting to book a vacation in the dead of winter ever again. I might as well keep my shorts boxed up until June.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sippy Cups and Other Stuff

My little boy has graduated to a sippy cup. It was a learning curve for both him and for momma as I have discovered with everything that he has learned. Today's post will work through this learning process.

When my son turned 6 months old I started feeding him slowly as I mentioned in my first post about feeding, and gradually increased. I started giving him water after about a week or two after food was increased. I read in my "feeding baby" handbook that babies his age can have up to 2oz in a meal but are not to exceed 4oz in a day. So I started off by measuring 2 oz and putting it in a sippy cup and giving it to him. This was a huge FAIL.  First, he thought the cup was a toy and tried shaking it and had no idea that he was supposed to drink from it. Then when I did try to assist him to drink from it he didn't react well. After a few failed attempts at this I realized that he had no idea what water was supposed to taste like, he had never had any before and had never seen this type of cup before, so maybe I was being over zealous and giving him too much "new" at once. So I backtracked - first I tried giving him a bottle with some water in it while he was in his high chair but he wasn't able to hold it himself so then I went back even further and gave him a bottle with some water the old fashioned way, lying him across my lap and feeding him. I did this a few times until he got used to the taste of water. Then I tried giving him the bottle in reclined position, then sitting up. When he was sitting up he struggled to get the bottle tipped enough to get the water out. Then I changed tactics again, filling the bottle all the way up so he could instantly have water as soon as he sucked the nipple. After this worked a couple of times I switched back to the sippy cup, filling it all the way to the top. Success!! By the time he was seven months old he was able to grab the cup when he was ready and drink from it on his own! Yahoo!

Since beginning feeding we have progressed to three meals a day, provided him with several meats, an array of fruits and vegetables, cheese, yogurt, bread and grains and yes..gasp...peanut butter. I gave him some on his toast shortly after he was nine months old and not only is he okay with it, he loves it.  To get him used to bigger pieces of food and to help him learn to chew, Baby Mum Mums are a great treat. These rice rusks are great at giving babies a chance to feed themselves.  I got a great surprise just two weeks after starting with bite sized foods on his tray - he picked up a piece of toast on his own and put it in his mouth! It was such a great moment! He had been struggling with the concept of trying to line up the food with his hand and then again his hand with his mouth up until then. I had encouraged him by giving him the food in his mouth first, then his hand, then having him take it from me and then putting his hands on it, all the while keeping the food available on his tray for when he was ready. That day he just did it completely on his own like he had always known how! I thought it was so funny how suddenly and confidently he achieved this.  My little boy is growing up!

I still have a few new things to introduce and have to tackle giving him a spoon to feed himself. We have been working on that one but when I give him a spoon full of food it more often then not ends up all over him, the floor, or me. Every little thing is a big accomplishment for a little one! I love the process, it is so great to see him gaining independence!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Percentile Panic

It's time for a set of vaccinations or a particular month's check-up for your little one. You pack-up and bundle up and head to the public health clinic or your family doctor's office, and if you're anything like me - you brace yourself. These visits, I'm sorry to say in my experience have never failed to leave me feeling lost, scared and usually worried. And my baby is very healthy. Is that really necessary?

Let me clarify. I do believe in the importance of vaccinating against highly contagious and often dangerous diseases and viral infections.  I also believe in the importance of checking out the major developments in a new baby, having an opportunity to ask questions, and record things like a baby's growth and milestone development. All of this, baring any major abnormalities or areas of concern should make for a fairly pleasant experience for one of these routine trips - should it not? Well in my experiences, I would say, no - it does not.

I am used to the drill - my son is weighed and measured, has his head circumference, hip alignment and sensory responses checked. I report any concerns I'm having. Then the health care professional takes these measurements and either enter them into a computer(public health) or plot them on a paper grid (doctor) and then they read me back a list of percentiles.  For example (and these numbers I am making up just for this post) let's say my son was in the 28th percentile for his height. It means (as far as I understand anyway) that he is as tall as or taller than 28% of all babies his age. On the flip side, it also means that he is shorter than 72% of all babies his age.  Should I be worried now because according to this, he is short for his age? What am I supposed to do with that information? What is the purpose of it?

When the percentiles are low, I find myself worrying that he is behind his peers; and when they are high, I worry that he is too big for his age. I worry that it is my fault for what I have or have not done with him at home.  Another question - these stats are based on information from what point in time - how recent? how many? and the big one - how accurate? There are ALWAYS discrepancies between my what my doctor reports vs. my public health clinic. One particular time my little boy was measured at both places less than one week apart, and in one particular percentile measure there was a discrepancy of almost 20% between the two sets of measures.  What one pointed out as an area of concern another totally passed over. Who do I listen to? Aren't doctors supposed to be the bottom line? Or do public health nurses know better because they are more focused on babies?

I am tired of everyone telling me that irregardless of his scores on these percentile charts, that every baby is different blah blah blah. If that's the case then why do we compare them all against each other?  It's contradictory and inconsistent - not to mention extremely stressful!

So far, because of these percentile measurements my son has had to have two further diagnostic tests, both of which came back negative.  Some say that it's better to be thorough and "let me relax" by having everything checked in order to rule things out.  While there is a part of me that does agree with this reasoning, I can't help but feel that it is totally unnecessary to put him through these tests in the first place. When all other signs point to "normal" (whatever that really means) and they've "never seen" these tests come back positive based on these percentile precautions, they still send in the referral, "just to be safe." So, what is the point other than the time spent getting it checked and the worry that fills my mind constantly until the test results come back? I think we are in a place of liability and constant fear from these health care professionals. They are terrified that they may miss any potential imperfection, irregardless of the potential stress it may place on the baby, not to mention the parents. These "non-invasive" tests are stressful and worrisome no matter how many times they are completed "just to be safe."

I know that as always, my opinion on this topic is not that of everyone reading this post and I do recognize and respect that. Personally speaking,  I am just frustrated by what I feel more often than not are unnecessary stresses caused by this need to quantify everything in these comparative percentiles.  It is challenging enough to be a parent and dealing with all the uncertainties and real issues we face on a day-to-day basis. I just don't see the need to add to this list in the extreme way that we are doing.

If nothing else, I feel a little better having a vent on this topic. I would love to hear the thoughts and experiences of my readers on this issue! Please leave your comments!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winter Blahs

It's cold. It's windy. It's enough to cut ya. It's January. Blah.

I have two minds this winter, like the proverbial devil/angel on your shoulder. Except instead of these two guys, I have a warm and a cold momma sitting on opposite shoulders. The warm momma is curled up with baby in an armchair, a fireplace roaring, warm blankets, tv, and hot tea. This momma is saying, stay home, it's too cold, what could possibly be more important that sitting here in the warmth? She reminds me of my stupidity to not get the remote start for the my car when I have to trudge outside to do it, and scrape with snow up past my boots.  I think of the mess of salt on my pants and baby blankets and the sharp wind that actually hurts your face when you race across the parking lot at a busy store. When you sweat inside those stores because you are dressed for outside frigid windchills of below -20 and not heated stores. Hats and layers are bulky and hot and this can make you more easily frustrated. This is the time when getting out of your toasty warm car (or house) is the last thing you want to do. 

Then there's cold momma who, although cold is still getting out and "getting the smell of house off her". That momma encourages trips to play groups and scheduling playdates, going to reel babies and for walks around the mall with baby, and just visiting friends or having coffee dates - snow, salt and wind included. That momma makes sense and keeps you from getting into a rut, but she's COLD!!!

I am somewhere in the middle, but warm momma is stronger. She can talk me out of a planned but "unnecessary" trip out to run some errands better than cold momma can get me to bundle baby up.  Sigh. I have to let cold momma get stronger as I can't stay home so much. I always feel better when I do go out. In spite of my frosty fingers and cold legs, I am glad to have gotten something accomplished or to have stood up to mother nature and visited some friends. I hope that winter is short, can't wait for flip flops and tank tops and not having to put 4000 layers on baby to just so we can leave the house!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Armstrong - about Liestrong

I find myself sitting here thinking today about Mr. Livestrong himself, the doping, false seven-time champ of the Tour de France. With all the buzz that Oprah has stirred it's hard not to. I know this does not seem like a topic that would be related to mommy or parenting - but hear me out (read me out??)

I'll admit that Lance had me fooled. But now that I sit and think about it, it just makes sense that there was something fake behind it. Seven times?? The most prestigious cycling race in the world and the same person won it SEVEN times?? Now it seems fishy, of course it does.

This is a sad world we live in. This man, an idol, the spokesperson for a very serious disease, and a role model for so many - adults.... and yes of course- children. How many children saw him win and strived to be like him? How many of them donned those yellow livestrong bracelets in support of his cause, who thought he was something wonderful? He not only cheated to win, he stole the title from someone else, hopefully someone more honest and deserving.  Now he gets to be famous for his faults and like so many today, he gets his 15 minutes( or 3 hours apparently) to suck up to his audience, "explain" why he cheated. Personally, he had me at "cheated", or rather, he lost me. I watched the Fifth Estate for the coverage of the story, to see if it really were true. That was enough for me. I don't want to listen to him, don't want to tune in to watch his last-ditch effort to save face, and to make some more money off his choices and say he's sorry. Sorry there's real evidence against him and that he got caught, more like it. 

I will say that I know he must have been under a great deal of pressure and sometimes we all cave under that pressure. But after the first title that he cheated to steal, he should have wised up and stopped. Instead he waited until he had won so many that he was a superstar, and denied all suspicions adamently, even with new proof surfacing as years went by. What kind of message did he expect to send? Right, my hero.

Now to tie it in with being a parent. Are we going to allow this kind of behavior from an idol to be okay in the eyes of our children? Are we going to help them erase their mistakes instead of facing them to get ahead in life? Are we going to allow them to cheat - or worse - help them do it and cover their tracks? Or are we going to raise honest boys and girls to turn into honorable men and women who actually know that telling the truth and doing things honestly is actually far better than cheating their way to the top? It scares me to think that too often when there are successes, there is something shady along the road to reach that success. While this is surely not true in every instance of success, I do see a major drop in morals here in the world. The world that I just brought a little boy into, and it doesn't seem fair. I want more for my little guy and personally, I don't want to hear about how Lance Armstrong lied to the world or why he is worth listening to.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stormbound with Baby!

What a wild weekend, and not for the typical reasons. If you are living in Newfoundland, you know what I am talking about. For those of you that don't the best way I can explain it is with this one word - "Snowicane!"We had upwards of 70 cm of snow, winds gusting beyond hurricane force and a massive power outage to go with it. It was not my first time being without power since my son was born, but it was definitely the most challenging.

Friday morning found us buried, stuck in our house with about 5 feet of snow blocking the edge of our driveway. The snow had drifted in places, oddly enough leaving the space around my car completely open but totally burying the rest of our small parking area. The wind howled, the snow swirled and then boom, the lights went out. It was the stuff from movies.

We had taken a couple of precautions getting ready for a potential power outage- hot water stored in thermos bottles, extra candles, flashlights, blankets, batteries - all ready to go and we left our heat up high in anticipation so our house would be warmer than normal in the event of an outage. I also did my son's laundry the day before so he had ample supply of clean clothes in case the outage lasted for awhile.  As it turns out all of this was great preparation but it wasn't nearly enough.   I now realize that I need an emergency kit.

I have never been the type to panic over storms but this was the first time in nearly 10 years that I can remember losing power in the winter. Summer outages are usually isolated and don't affect the heat so save for no TV or stove, I never really have much to complain about. Usually we can go someplace in the city to grab some fast food, no worries about not being able to cook - or even having a BBQ is a feasible option. This was not the case with 5 feet of snow and blizzard conditions for nearly 24 hours blocking our way.  Then there was the cold. We were freezing, wearing layers and fluffy slippers and hoodies, snuggling up under blankets. I wished so hard for a hot shower and some hot tea, life's simple pleasures that I have never appreciated so much in my life.  In the future I am looking into a Coleman stove purchase and setting up a kit with non-perishable food and bottled water, just in case this ever happens again, for peace of mind if nothing else.

In spite of all of this, I am pleased to say that my 8 month old son appeared none the wiser. We kept him in fuzzy sleepers with blankets all around, we used the stored hot water for his food until it ran out and then resorted to things like bread and cheese which he ate readily, and we had him sleep in our bed with us so he didn't freeze in his crib. I felt his little hands the next morning and was never so happy to discover they were toasty warm. Every time I heard him babble or giggle I felt better, that no matter how uncomfortable I felt that he was getting by unaware of what was happening. 

Winter can be unpredictable and I got a shock as I now realize more than ever that it isn't just about me.To be a responsible parent I have to consider my son's needs in times of emergencies and think about things that I normally wouldn't have considered in previous years.

Thankfully today the temperature was up, the snow is melting away, leaving little evidence of the havoc it wreaked all over the province just a few short days ago.  Here's hoping for a warmer winter from here on out - at least inside my house anyway!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Baby Play

If your child is anything like mine, he or she got their share of toys for Christmas this year. Being his first Christmas and finally being old enough to appreciate toys, he got some things that went beyond rattles and pull toys. The array of musical toys, ball bouncers, ride-and-walk combos, books, teddys and even an outdoor sled that now fill our home make walking around an cautious event. Now he has some time to enjoy and explore his new toys.

Babies are sponges for learning new things. My son soaks up everything new - new people, new sounds, new colors or shapes, things that sparkle and things that feel different to him. His latest thing of interest is moving off his playmat onto the floor and slapping his hands down hard. I believe he loves the new sound and the different feeling of the floor when compared to his mat.  His new toys are of great interest to him. However, a lot of them are a little beyond his capability just yet so I spend a large part of my day pushing buttons, turning cranks, driving trains and zipping around the living room trying to catch balls before they get trapped under the couch. Some of those toys are too heavy and he wants to grab them and pull them on top of him, and therefore he requries constant supervision while playing with them. I love to help him learn new skills, one that he has just picked up is how to roll a ball back and forth with another person. He also likes catching balls from his many ball - popper gadgets that he got. I read his new books to him and encourage him to feel the sensory pages and keep him from putting the pages in his mouth.  We are busy exploring his new things together and I think this is essential to his development.

That being said, I believe it is just as important to allow him to play on his own.  He needs to learn how to figure things out and move around unrestricted. I have noticed that when I play with him, he moves around less than he does on his own. He goes from one end of the room to the other very quickly when he is alone, it's like he knows he has more room. I love watching him from the next room while he is unaware of my presence. The expressions on his face as he is having these raw learning moments are exciting and hilarious. My son is very adept at playing on his own and there are times when I know it would be his preference.

This can be a touchy subject in what's "best" for kids nowadays. Some say that children require structured play to acquire the skills necessary for "normal" development. I know this is true for somethings, but I think it is just as important for him to learn independently. That is one of my main goals as a parent for my son to be as independent as he can be. I will do whatever I can to help him, but I do not want to hover over him all the time for everything. I have some opinions on being a helicopter parent that will undoubtedly come out in my future posts. The only thing I will say for now that I am very determined not to be one.

Momma's Musts

  • Help out. If your baby's toys are too much just yet, figure out a way that he or she can enjoy them with your assistance.
  • Read to baby. Let them experience their new books and stories fully.
  • Step back. Allow your child to experience independent, unrestricted play. They need this too very much!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Welcome 2013!

Ah yes, another year over. Christmas presents unwrapped and put to use or returned, visitors packed up and gone home, leftovers all eaten or tossed away, decorations boxed up and stored away for next year. If your homelife is anything like mine, you can say that you found that Christmas came and went so fast it left you spinning.

We had one of the busiest Christmas seasons I have ever experienced in my life with only two days over the last 17 where we saw no one or did nothing. My son is the only grandchild on both sides of the family and he had a very busy time entertaining and keeping all of his extended family company.  Despite my best efforts, his routine fell off track several times, and we had a couple of rough nights but all in all, it was worth it. That being said, I am eager to let him play in the quiet again, to have some time to explore his new toys in peace and not be constantly brought from one house to another, and to stop eating his meals in someone's arms or from his carrier. He was great throughout it all and I heard him laugh more often in these past two weeks than ever before. Someone told me on one of my many visits that Christmas is hardest on children and animals, as they have the hardest times re-adjusting to changes in their routine. I think my little guy handled it well, but I bet if he could say more than "mom-mom" and "baaaa" he would say "phew, glad I can have some quiet time now", haha.

New years brings with it that feeling of hope, fresh starts, the cliches of resolutions and new beginnings. I can't help myself, I feel like starting something new, and wiping clean some part of myself or my life that I can do better, or change, or even drop. I like to do a little de-cluttering of my life and look at where I am and see if that lines up with where I want to be. 2012 was a big year for me. I became a mom and spent the better part of my time not working, well, not outside the home at least. What I learned this year has amazed me and how my entire world is completely different, but one of the funny things is I am still basically the same person. Granted I have the title mother to proudly wear now but I have added so much more greatness to my life and came out happier than ever before, but I am still same ol me under all of it. My life has never felt so purposeful and has never been better.

I wonder what this year will bring? What will my son learn? This is the year he will walk, talk and transform from a beautiful baby to a handsome little boy. I am so eager for all the new milestones and events, but at the same time, I am hanging on to his last few months as a baby, desperately clinging to the memories that we are making. I am very hopeful for what this year will bring!

Happy New Year to all my readers and stay tuned for some posts on baby topics, relating to my growing son, in the coming weeks!