Thursday, March 31, 2011

five-fingered discount

You stole WHAT?! Spill it!

When I was younger, I never so much as pocketed a lip gloss or stole a candy from a bulk bin at the grocery store. But now is my chance to admit it ... since I became a mother, I've become a common thief.

It's not my fault though, I swear! It's the baby's fault! It's the stroller's fault! When I'm carting around the babe, the diaper bag, sometimes a purse and other odds and ends in the various compartments of the stroller, things get a little chaotic.

Until recently, Jacob was nestled in the top of the stroller, in his car seat. I usually pile things in the basket underneath, but occasionally, if things get too full, I'll set a couple things on Jacob's lap. Little did I know, items can easily slip in between the car seat and into the stroller, completely hidden from view.

Makes me wonder how many people rip stores off intentionally when they're using a stroller. I, for one, really did feel bad, but I honestly wasn't going to return to the store, baby in tow, to 'fess up. Our "hot" items? A $6 package of baby socks and a $5 Mom organizer. Do you really think that mega store noticed that $11?

So there. The truth is out there. Don't judge.

This post is brought to you by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

before and after

Thanks again to everyone who voted for their favourite fabric. I'm happy to (finally) share the results of the like a hamster on a wheel 2nd birthday chair makeover!

First, a quick refresher.

Fixing up this chair was one of my first blog projects. I picked this chair up on Kijiji. Well, here's the actual story. I emailed the seller and sent Husband to pick up his chair. If I had been there, we wouldn't have bought it. The metal piping had rust on it and the bottoms of the legs were sharp and unfinished. I had asked about these things when I corresponded with the seller and was told it was in perfect shape. Boo for dishonesty.

Regardless, I ended up with this chair for our office. I used cotton batten and a green and ivory stripped knit to cover it, used steel wool to buff the rust off (seriously, it worked like magic), and bought little rubber feet protectors to finish the bottoms of the legs.

I was pretty happy with the end result:

Nearly two years later though, and it's starting to look a little ratty. We use this chair as a spare at our kitchen table when we have company, so it also has a few little stains on it. Time for a re-do. I put it to a vote, and here's what you chose:

There aren't any specific how-to directions. I simply unscrewed the seat, folded the new fabric over and staple-gunned the edges around. I did the same thing with the back — wrapped the fabric and placed a few staples in the under side, where they aren't visible, to hold it in place. The trick is to wrap it nice and tight so the sides stay in place, too. Then I used my glue gun and ran a thin line of hot glue down the sides of the back of the chair, under the fabric, to keep it from shifting out of place. It was super easy — chair covered and photographed in one nap time!


What do you think?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

in my kraft kitchen

I love getting fun things in the mail. I order coupons, send little notes and cards to friends and family (admittedly not as often as I should), and I recently cashed in a few Air Miles for a year's subscription to Today's Parent magazine. Who wants to open the mailbox to discover bills and junk mail every day?

Each season I look forward to receiving my Kraft Foods What's Cooking magazine. It's full of simple recipes that are almost always big hits at our table. Lots of the recipes include seasonal ingredients, which helps me get out of my same-old rut and try new things. And the best part? It's FREE! Woot. Sign up to get it in your mail box, or click here to see digital editions of the most recent publications.

So I flipped through my Spring 2011 recipes and the first one I picked to make are these simple granola bars. I've never used wheat germ before, but it was pretty cheap to buy (about $3 for a 453g bag) and added some hearty nutrition (4g of protein and 2g fibre in a 3 Tbsp. serving).

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
1 cup Kraft light smooth peanut butter (That's the thing about the Kraft magazine, of course they're going to tell you to use their products. Truthfully though, Kraft light PB is the only kind I buy/eat)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
2 cups large flake rolled oats
1/2 cup each wheat germ, raisins and chopped dried apricots

Mix first 3 ingredients in large bowl until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Press onto bottom of 9-inch square pan.

Bake at 350°F for 25 min. or until golden brown (I only had to bake them for 20 minutes in my hotter-than-hedes oven). Cool completely. Cut and enjoy.

These are a delicious alternative to cookies, plus you can eat them at any time of the day, guilt-free. I'm not usually a raisin lover, but I resisted the urge to swap them out for another ingredient and I was glad I didn't. They work so well with the peanut butter. Next time, I'd be willing to substitute craisins or nuts for some more texture variety.

Note: This post was not sponsored by Kraft in any way. I just love this little free magazine and wanted to share the free love with y'all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

weekend round-up

  • Husband and I watch Grown Ups this weekend. A pretty foolish movie, but it had its funny moments. This is more notable because I think it's the first movie we've watched alone together, in its entirety, since before the baby was born. Yay us!
  • I tried fish and chips this weekend! Yes, that might be the most un-Maritimer thing I've ever said, but it's true. Until yesterday, I had never had this pub fare. I'd never tasted haddock at all. And you know what? I really liked it! In fairness, the batter really does mask any fish-like evidence, but still great to have something different I can order on a menu when I'm out at a restaurant! This is the first step to introducing more any seafood into our household.
  • Jacob tried his first cookie this weekend! OK, not a real cookie, a Baby Mum Mum, but still a treat for him nonetheless. And a treat for the Muma because it keeps him entertained in his high chair for 10 or 15 minutes while she makes her own snack.

Friday, March 25, 2011

that's love

Me: Umm ... what day is it?
Him: Thursday.
Me: No, the date?
Him: The 24th.
Me: You mean to tell me that we both forgot our anniversary?
Him: Oh, yeah. I guess we did.
[He leans over and puckers up ...]
Him: Happy Anniversary, Wife.

Yes, that is about as romantic as we get these days. At least we remembered within the right week; that's got to count for something. Admittedly, it's not our wedding anniversary we're talking about here, but the anniversary of when he and I became an "us" ... it's not an exact science; he didn't ask me to go steady. It's just the day that we both figured out that something big was starting.

That was eight years ago. Nearly a decade. A lot has changed ... we're no longer students, we've had jobs, changed jobs. We got engaged and married, moved to a new home and us two is now us three. But while so much is different, the details remain the same. We're still making each other laugh, making each other roll their eyes. We know how to push each other's buttons, and also how to soothe even the unspoken stresses. I cook suppers and he takes out the trash. We've got the nighttime teeth brushing perfectly coordinated so no one gets caught in the minty-suds crossfire. Some days it's unbelievably simple, other days we have to work at it.

Here's to the first eight, and many more xo

Photo Booth image circa 2006

Thursday, March 24, 2011

time warp

If I'd known then what I know now, here's how things would've been different ...

— I might have given community college more consideration when I was graduating high school. Trades are where it's at.

— I would've practiced my trumpet more and joined a band in university. My pretty silver trumpet is lonely in my closet and I am getting rusty.

— I would've sweat the small stuff a lot less.

— I would've made copies of every single thing I ever wrote for any publication. So many clippings have disappeared into the archives.

— I should have put my feet up more in my last few weeks of pregnancy. I wouldn't have made myself crazy with wondering when Jacob would arrive. I would've slept in, read more chick lit and caught up on lots of guilty-pleasure TV.

— I would have exercised more and eaten healthier when my time was all my own, when I had two empty hands to make lots of hearty salads, and when my body didn't crave carby comfort food to combat fatigue.

What are your shoulda, coulda, wouldas?

Inspired by this post on Young Mommy Life.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

growing by the minute: 6 months

This post is a little late — postponed on Friday, Baby J's real half birthday, due to this. And yesterday we just got caught up in the living and I took a blog break. Without further adieu ...

Half a year. Whoa.

Vital stats: Besides a little pouty face, Jacob made it through his third set of vaccinations and won't see another needle until one year. Yay! At his doctor's appointment, he weighed in at 19 3/4 lbs., and measured 28 1/4 inches. Still growing like crazy, but slowing down a bit in the weight gain department.

Milestones & firsts: This month, Jacob learned to roll from his belly to his back — he's officially on the move! He's starting to realize that rolling back-to-front-to-back in the same direction will take him places. Uh oh.

Jacob had his first tastes of food — starting with rice cereal and then oatmeal cereal. Since then, we've forayed into the world of fruits and veggies with bananas, mangos, sweet potatoes and squash. Daddy-o made some homemade apple sauce for the boy this weekend that we're looking forward to trying out on his little baby taste buds.

We also gave our mohawk man his first haircut. If you missed it, check it out here.

Oh, and he's sitting up totally on his own! Wow, I keep remembering milestones from this month. He's growing so fast!

Teeth: Still none. I'm so surprised, based on the overwhelming symptoms he's been having. He wears a bib almost all the time when he's awake to keep from soaking the fronts of his shirts with drool. Hopefully we'll pass the hurdle of cutting the first one soon, but then there's still a whole mouthful to come.

Speech: He's a talker, alright. Wonder who he gets that from ... anyway. Jacob babbles constantly, most notably saying da-da. Sometimes he says it in Husband's direction, sometimes not. We're still working on word association.

Zzzzzzz: Earlier this month, we started working on sleep training. We're teaching him to go to sleep in his crib, rather than falling asleep while nursing first. It's challenging, but we're already making progress and it will be worth it in the end.

Om nom nom: In addition to his regular diet of breast milk, Jacob is having so much fun experiencing other tastes. To help is teeth, we let him gnaw on peeled carrots and big chunks of apple. He seems to like oatmeal cereal more than the rice cereal, so we're sticking to that for now. I've been working on making my first batches of purees for our freezer, including mango-banana, sweet potato-turnip, squash and homemade apple sauce. He also enjoys regular helpings of prunes to help his digestion.

Likes & dislikes: Jake loves going outside. He's a nosy Ned, so he loves being able to look around and breathe in the fresh air. Lucky for Muma, fun outside also equals great naps.

Jacob is starting to take a lot more interest in our two cats, Scarlett and Ellie. He watches them as they cross the room, and tries to reach out to them when they're sitting nearby. They don't pay much attention to Jacob, but once he's really on the move, they should be afraid, be very afraid.

Since Jacob is now sitting up like a champ, he likes to be left alone to play with his toys. For five or 10 minutes at a time, he'll just play by himself. It's the most adorable thing ever.

Challenges: Figuring out what clothes to dress a baby in is nearly impossible, especially when your son is at or above the 90th percentile in growth. Most of the sleepers he's wearing are 9-month size, several pairs of his pants are for 12-month-olds and, believe it or not, a couple of his T-shirts are marked for a 18-month-old.

How do I put this delicately as to not totally gross out those of you who don't have to deal with dirty diapers on a daily basis? Our other challenge of the month is pooping. Or lack thereof. Thus explaining the daily doses of prunes. His poor little belly.

Special moments: Playing peek-a-boo is a favourite pastime around our house. It's so much fun to put Jacob into fits of giggles. He's super ticklish and will squeal in anticipation when you wiggle your fingers in his direction. Jacob is so snuggly in the mornings and when he wakes up from naps; savouring cuddle time is definitely a priority for our family, since our little dude is growing so fast.

Monday, March 14, 2011

not me monday

— I would never go out in public without looking in a mirror. After a particularly rowdy playtime with Baby Jacob, I didn't proceed to go to the grocery store looking like a tornado hit my head. I wasn't half-way through the store when I realized that my appearance was less than desirable. With few options, I didn't take out my cellphone and snap a photo of myself to survey the damage. Guess the passers by weren't staring at the baby after all.

— While cooking supper, I would never set a block of cold butter on the back of my hot stove and forget about it. The picture isn't worth a thousand words ...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

holiday fashions

We're heading to Cape Breton this weekend to visit with our fam on Husband's side and enjoy a belated Ayyam-i-ha celebration with them.

There are two babes in our family right now, Jacob and his 15-month-old cousin Niamey. To help mark their first Ayyam-i-ha together, I made them matching shirts for the occasion.

I started with long-sleeved, white T-shirts.

Using an empty cereal box, I free-handed three triangles and taped them together to form a nine-pointed star.

I held the star against the shirt and traced it using blue fabric puff paint.

So easy! I think I'll make Jacob shirts for other holidays too!

Friday, March 11, 2011

sleep training: the good, the bad and the ugly

Warning: loaded topic ahead. I know many people have very strong feelings about sleep training. I'm not even going to pretend that I know what I'm doing, let alone try to sounds like an expert. I'm merely sharing my thoughts here and I'm very happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions. I personally believe that every family has to do what feels best for them.

Baby Jacob has spoiled his parents. He's been a wonderful sleeper from Day #1. For the most part though, he nurses to sleep. It wasn't something we planned on; he just tends to fall asleep while having his last feeding of the evening. Now we're working on teaching him to go into his crib awake before naps and bedtime and fall asleep on his own. We've only just begun the process, but here are a few of my initial observations.

The good:
  • Success. When it works, it feels amazing. He might fuss or cry for a few minutes, but then he lays his little head down for some much-needed rest. It's such a relief for me, knowing he's comfortable and satisfied.
  • Sleep. Getting to sleep isn't always the perfect process, but once he's in dreamland, Jacob is a pro. Other than disruptions from teething pain or hunger, he rarely wakes during naps or night sleeps.
  • Smiles. Seeing his sweet face look up at me from his crib, completely rested, has got to be one of my favourite moments of the day.

The bad:
  • Fear. Jacob absolutely loves his room. He always gets a smile on his face when he's in there, playing on the floor, getting his diaper changed or reading books in his chair. I worry that being upset before falling asleep will make him feel differently about his bed and his nursery. I don't want him to fear or resent the space he loves so much.
  • Second guessing. Are we doing it right? When it works, it feels amazing. When it doesn't work (read: I cave), it feels awful. There are SO many theories out there about how to sleep train. Everyone you ask has a different opinion. I have to work on trusting instincts.
The ugly:
  • The video monitor. While this handy little device has its upsides, being able to see my boy when he wakes up and cries makes sleep training about a million times harder. I can't bare to see him in distress (read: sometimes I cave).
What do you think? What worked for you or someone you know?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

wordless wednesday: like mother, like son

Crafty boy

spring has sprung

OK, not technically, but the first day of spring is less than two weeks away (hooray!) and around here, the snow is nearly all melted. Ahhhhhh <-- big sigh of relief. I can't wait to get the stroller back out on the clear sidewalks so Baby J can soak up the fresh air and I can walk off those last pesky post-baby pounds.

And of course, with spring comes the always exciting spring cleaning list! YAY! Task #1: Get Husband as excited about the spring cleaning list as I am.

Here's what needs to be done between now and April 1 — my self-imposed deadline.

1) Clean windows inside and out. Living in main-floor apartment, I'm realizing that it doesn't take much to dirty up the windows. On the outside, dust and dirt from the street create a film over the glass, and inside the cats' paws and noses leave undesirable streaks. We usually use Windex, but I think I'll research some DIY, natural alternatives. Thoughts?

2) Wipe down walls. Not every wall, but the problem spots for sure, which includes baseboards and trim around doors. For this, I'll use my Mum's trick: dishwasher soap. Mixed with hot water, it's the perfect solution for cleaning stubborn smudges.

3) Scour both bathrooms. We're very guilty of giving our bathrooms a surface wipe once a week or so. This doesn't cut it for the long-term. Soap scum, be gone.

4) Deep clean the kitchen. This is something I do pretty much seasonally. I organize the insides of the cabinets, wash down the cupboard doors, take the Magic Eraser to any stains on the countertops, and clean out the fridge and freezer. It's a big job, but oh so satisfying when it's done.

5) Flip all mattresses and change bedding. To help keep our beds in their best shape, I like to flip them once a year or so, just for good measure. As the weather gets warmer, it'll also be time to put lighter blankets on the beds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

26 in 52

I resolved to read at least 26 books this year. So far, I'm a bit behind, but I'll mark my progress here and hopefully it will guilt me inspire me to spend more time reading. I'm a bit behind, but March Break is just around the corner! (Read: Hand the baby to Husband and relax in the bath with a good book.)

Wiped: Life with a Pint-sized Dictator
By Rebecca Eckler

All I have to say about this book is "Ha!" Eckler uses nearly ever cliche in the book as she chronicles her motherhood journey — the good, the bad and the poopy diapers. This is a great read when you're in the middle of raising your own pint-size dictator. It puts a lot of the trials and tribulations in perspective, with a few laughs for good measure.

By Neil Pasricha

Lovely friend T bought this book as her gift for our annual Christmas potluck gift exchange. I hadn't heard of it before then, but the concept appealed to me — essentially a book of awesome things. Thanks to my Kobo and an online promo code, I picked up a copy for $5. Some of the stories in this book made me smile, others made me laugh out loud. Husband thought I was a little nuts when I burst out laughing while reading this in bed one night, but once he got his hands on it, he loved it as much as I did.

In progress reads ...

By March Weissbluth

By Jen Lancaster

What are you reading?

Monday, March 7, 2011

making the cut

Have you seen our son's hair?


He had almost a full head of dark hair when he was born. Within a few months though, he got an awful case of cradle cap, and as we combed out the flakes of dead skin on his scalp, lots of those perfect little baby hairs came off too.

I'm his mother, so of course I find his baby mohawk totally adorable. But I'm starting to get annoyed when strangers in public smile and laugh, "I love his haircut!" Really? Do you think I'm actually the kind of mother who would give her 5 month old a mohawk?

So, reluctantly I agree with Husband admit that it might be time for a little trim. I keep putting it off, but now that the bald patches are starting to fill back in with soft, fuzzy re-growth, maybe we should even it up.

What do you think? Too early for a hair cut?