Thursday, June 30, 2011

that's a load off

Among my summer, and specifically my Canada Day weekend to dos, was a plan to purge all previously-intended-for-yard-sale stuff from our spare bedroom.

And I may have mentioned this plan to lovely friend A who has, shall we say, a fondness for cleaning.

And that may have resulted in a Wednesday-night, pre-Canada-Day, mega purge.

And, oh man, it felt so good.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

not me tuesday

That's right. This one gets its own special day.

I did not accidentally go to the store to leisurely pick up a few things on TAX FREE day (read: absolute zoo).

I did not wait forevvvver in line to pay, only to dig deep down in my over-sized, not-really-necessary-for-work, full-of-baby-crap bag, to discover that I had NO WALLET.

After going through the motions of holding my things at customer service so I could return for them after work, I did not beat my head against the steering wheel the whole way back to the office in honour of my stupidity.

Upon returning to my desk, my search for my wallet did not leave me empty handed.

I really swear that I didn't reach my hand back down into my bag, only to wrap my hand around my wallet that had been there the. whole. time.

That's right. I'm brilliant.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

summer to dos

Seeing as how it's actually summer, despite what the weather may have you believe, it's time to make a trusty list of seasonal to dos. They're not all exactly summer related, but all projects/initatives that are in desperate need of tackling.

1) Grocery shop less. I love to buy groceries. Yes, I know it's weird, but I love browsing the aisles, thinking up recipes and getting a good bargain. And the fact that my new office is within a five-minute drive of a massive store that not only has groceries, but clothes and housewares, too ... you see where this is going. Well, enough. I'm cutting my shopping trips down to twice a month. As part of this, I would like to visit the farmers' market at least once a month to stock up on fresh, local produce.

2) Find more time to read. Complete at least six books before Labour Day. Seriously, this shouldn't be that hard. I am embarrassingly far from my 26 books in 52 weeks goal. Time to step up.

3) Take Jacob to the beach and dip his toes in the ocean for the first time. Take millions of photos.

4) Journey to visit family. This includes NB, CB and anywhere in between.

5) Go camping. OK, this is ambitious with a nine-month-old. And it may just be in the backyard, but hey, that still counts.

6) Keep my hanging basket alive. All. Summer.

7) Sleep in. Please. Just once.

8) BBQ. A lot.

11) Wash both cars inside and out. Golf clubs = mud and grass. Guess this one is Husband's job.

12) Purge. I abandoned my yard sale dreams in favour of getting crap outta here. I've filled one bag of clothes and one bag of miscellaneous items. There's still an overflowing walk-in closet, among other crazy spaces, to be dealt with. ASAP.

13) Fix the DIY curtains I made for the front door. I'll post more about this later to give you a little context.

14) Do a few little home-improvement projects, like touch up some paint, etc.

15) Scrapbook (or come up with a reasonable alternative).

OK. That's enough. There's more, but I really need to be realistic, and if I get some of this done, I'll be pretty pleased.

What are you up to this summer?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

my heart

True love is when it's 11:30 pm, you've been up since 5 am, and instead of slamming into bed like your body is screaming at you to, you're looking at the screen on the baby monitor and kinda, sorta wishing your boy would wake up for a snuggle with his Mama.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

what i'm really thinking

List 10 things you wish you could say to strangers who share unsolicited advice about your parenting skills.

1) No, my son is not cold because he's not wearing a hat/sweater/socks. If you saw the heat rash he had in the first few months of his life when he was constantly bundled up, then you'd be taking him out dressed like this, too.

2) Yes, he is fully capable of eating the food in the sizes I cut for him. I have fed him three meals a day for nearly an entire year and I am pretty confident in my ability to nourish him appropriately.

3) I appreciate that you waited the perfect amount of time between having your kids, but no, I do not know when I plan to give my son a sibling. I would also need a crystal ball to tell you the exact number of kids we are going to have.

4) Sometimes my son wears shoes, sometimes he doesn't. I know you think it's better for him to learn to walk with/without shoes. I'm not worried that he will remain sitting for the rest of his life based on my choice of footwear for him.

5) My son does not like soothers. I can put it in his mouth and he can prove it to you by spitting it across the room if you'd like. I can tell by the look on your face that you think I should plug his noisy mouth because we're in public, but it's just not going to happen.

6) If you're asking about my son's milestones because you're genuinely interested or want to swap mommy stories, I am happy to share. If you are only inquiring because you want to compare your kid to mine in a purely competitive fashion, it's none of your beeswax.

7) We will teach our son to sleep in a way that is comfortable for our family. We aren't going to let him cry his little heart out for an excrutiating amount of time because eventually he'll fall asleep from sheer exhaustion. We will tend to him and love him in a way that feels good for us and in the best way we know how, while also helping him to learn and maintain positive sleep habits.

8) I understand that you think it would be "easier" to just give my son formula now that I'm back to work, but I am choosing to continue to breastfeed. Not only is it a healthy choice for him since he is only nine months old, but I also cherish the time we spend together while he nurses.

9) If I'm standing right there, please do not put food in my baby's mouth without asking me first. It's nice of you to share, but preservatives/high-fructose corn syrup/sodium-enriched goodies are not on his menu for the time being.

10) Thanks for pointing out that because Jacob is such a good baby, our next one is probably going to be a holy terror. If you want a positive answer to the question you asked in #3, you probably shouldn't preface it with this warning.

Thanks to Mama Kat for the writer's workshop prompt.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

the first of many

Dear Husband,

Since the moment we knew we were expecting, you have been an amazing dad. In the days we waited for Jacob to arrive, when we spent late nights reading pages of baby books aloud to each other and when you started learning lullabies on your guitar, I knew that this is a job you are meant to have.

Once he was finally in our arms, everything changed. Our love for him is indescribable, and the love I have for you is forever changed in the very best way.

I love standing just outside Jacob's bedroom door, listening to you two talk, laugh and play. It is the sweetest sound.

You're already teaching him so much — to catch and throw, to say new words, to love and be loved.

Thank you for being the best Dada for Jacob and the most wonderful husband for me.

Always remember there is nothing worth sharing
like the love that lets us share our name.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

growing by the minute: 9 months

Vital stats: Jacob had his nine-month check up this week and got a big gold star from our doctor. He weighs 22 lbs. (75th percentile) and measures 29.5 inches (75th percentile). This month, I think it's worth mentioning his melon, which, at 47.5 cm, puts him in the 95th percentile for head size. All the better to house that growing brain!

Milestones & firsts: Crawling! He started crawling after things he was curious about, like the vacuum or the cats, but now he crawls all over the place and we love watching him. With his added mobility, he's also learned to pull himself up on anything he can reach. He generally prefers standing to sitting, and will hold his hands up in our directions for assistance. Cue melting heart.

Jacob started riding in his big boy car seat a couple weeks ago and he loves it. We're still using the infant carrier in our secondary car, because it carries up to 32 lbs. It's super convenient to switch between cars now without having to move a seat.

Buckets. He loves them. He puts toys in, takes toys out, tips them up to his mouth like a cup and puts them on his head. Silly baby.

Teeth: Still two, but totally popped out and adorably visable when he smiles now. No real signs of the upper pair yet.

Speech: Other than his regular string of gaa gaa and blahh blahh, he really only says Mama and Dada. We're working on helping him learn ball, up and water, but he's not quite there yet.

Zzzzzzz: We had a few long nights recently, mostly due to a cold and congestion. For the most part, Jacob still wakes once in the night to nurse. I had considered weaning him from the night feeding, but now that I'm back to work, I discussed it with our doctor and have decided to keep the night feeding for now, so he can get a bit more milk in each 24-hour period, plus the extra snuggle time with him honestly trumps that little bit of lost sleep.

Om nom nom: As I'm sure you can imagine, there's not a whole lot out there that Jacob doesn't like. This month, he's enjoyed homemade mac and cheese, pasta with tomato sauce, watermelon, whole wheat english muffins, cheese, different flavours of yogurt, corn niblets, turkey and tofu. The one thing he hated was cottage cheese, which I assume was a texture issue. My friend K gave me a great tip though -- mix the cottage cheese with the pasta and tomato sauce. Worked like a charm, Jakey gobbles it up and gets that extra hit of protein.

Likes & dislikes: He loves the view from his new car seat. It sits more upright, allowing him to scope out everything outside the window. It's also more comfortable for sleeping because the head rest keeps his neck straighter.

He loves to play with anything he thinks he's not allowed to play with. This includes, but is not limited to, my cellphone, the camera and video camera, the bookmark that is holding my place in my novel, and my car keys. He very much dislikes when he gets his mitts on one of these items and I take it away from him.

Challenges: Baby proofing. Now that Jacob has mastered crawling, he's more and more interested in climbing. We moved the coffee table against the wall, limiting the number of sides he has to scale. We've plugged our electrical outlets, too, but we're having a tough time finding cabinet and drawer latches to fit our unique buffet and hutch cabinet as well as Jacob's dresser.

Separation anxiety. Not sure who this is worse on, me or him. Jacob has yet to cry when I leave him in the morning (thank God; I don't know if I could handle it). I, on the other hand, can't help but think about him all day and countdown the minutes until I can smother him with kisses.

Special moments: The look on his face when he sees me come through the door at the end of the work day is unlike anything I could describe -- it makes my heart skip a beat just thinking about it.

I'm trying to savour all of our nursing time, because the countdown really feels on to the end of breastfeeding.

Lately Jacob leans away from me and puts his arms out toward Dada. I'm not offended -- I love when he reaches out to Husband and a huge grin spreads across both their faces when I pass him over.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

lagging behind

Now that I'm back to work, my free time seems to be devoted to the sheer upkeep of the rest of my life -- housework, keeping (somewhat) up with correspondence/social commitments, grocery shopping/cooking/packing lunches, and maximizing snuggle time with my boys.

Among the things gnawing at the back of my mind, besides having more time to read, opportunites for date nights with Husband, and keeping up el bloggo, is Jacob's scrapbook.

I have one scrapbook filled (a couple dozen completed pages) -- but I'm pretty sure he was wearing still wearing size 1 diapers in the last photos I included. He's now in size 4s.

There are many uncharted months, and literally hundreds of photos, taunting me every time I open the door to our spare room and lay my eyes on the huge pile of paper craftings supplies that is gathering dust.

My friend H recently made an adorable photobook online for her son's first birthday. It turned out so nicely, and she was able to do it all without getting scraps of paper all over the floor. I must also point out though, this is the same friend who has about 10 completely filled and beautiful scrapbooks of her son's first year already completed.

Then I consider traditional photo albums ... slide the photos in and bam, you're done. I keep a log of milestones in a Google docs with dates, times, weights, lengths, etc. I could easily format little blurbs, print them, and include them in the slots among the photos. Not really as artisitic, I know, but much more time efficient, right?

Am I letting laziness take over? How do you or how do you plan to record your childs' first year and beyond?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

embracing change

So. I'm going back to work.



Let's rewind for a minute. If you're keeping track, I've been on maternity leave for about nine months and I still have three months left of my benefits before having to return to work. I have loved every second I've been home with Baby Jacob, and I've been dreaming up picnics and beach dates as we've waited for the weather to warm up.

Though, in mid-May, lovely friend S alerted me to an opportunity. The exact job that I held at the now-defunct Daily News became available at our city's other and primary daily newspaper, The Chronicle Herald. It just seemed too good to be true. I had to apply, knowing it might be my only real chance to re-enter the daily newspaper world.

As I'm sure you can predict at this point in the story, I interviewed a couple weeks ago and just three days ago I was offered the position. Starting tomorrow. What a bittersweet phone call. As I cheerfully chatted with the HR woman, my inner voice started to gnaw at me ... but what about Jacob?

I know I've enjoyed much more leave with my son than many women get; I do realize how fortunate I am. That doesn't change the feeling I have now, or would've had in September, about leaving my baby and returning to work. Thankfully, we are unbelievably lucky to have a network of close friends who jumped at the opportunity to take care of our boy for the first 14 days (but who's counting?) of my employment. After that, Husband will be finished teaching for the year and will spend July and August at home.

The nine-month mark is known as a time for babies to experience separation anxiety. I never would have guessed that the stress I would actually feel at this juncture would be my own.

And so, Friday was my last official day of maternity leave. I brought Jacob into bed with me in the morning and we spent extra time laughing and snuggling. We played our favourite games and went for an extra long walk with friends. We've enjoyed a relaxing weekend, and I've spent nap times making extra baby meals and organizing a diaper bag for him to take on his first day away from his Mama.

Instead of sleep training Jacob, now I'm trying to work train myself. And yes, I've had to cry it out a few times.

Now, while my sweet boy finishes his nap, I'm going to go select an outfit for tomorrow, and remind myself that this is something to be excited about — after three years of regular career changes, I'm getting to return the the job I know, the job I love. Having the opportunity to go back to work to a job that will leave me fulfilled at the end of the day is not only good for me, but it's great for my family.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the little things

I've been thinking about motherhood a lot lately. I know that might sound obvious since I'm on mat leave with an eight-and-a-half-month-old. But in a broader sense.

Pregnant women are nothing if not completely bombarded with unsolicited advice. This isn't new; it's just the way it is. Some bits of wisdom that are passed on to you are absolute, others might leave you rolling your eyes.

I'm a first timer, so I'm not even going to pretend to be an expert. Becoming a mother has been the most educational time of my life — I not only learn something new every day, but pretty much every minute. Here are some things that I was told beforehand or just picked up along the way.

My 10 oh-so-wise-after-eight-months-of-motherhood tips:


* Get a good camera and learn how to use it. I did Part A, but have still failed to do Part B. Technically, our Nikon D60 was a wedding gift, so I'm embarrassed to admit that I've been shooting on "auto" for two and a half years already. In the most basic setting, it still takes great photos of Jacob, but if I put it a little bit of effort, I'm sure they'd be even better.

* Buy teethers, baby Advil and natural remedies in advance. It's just easier. Sure, you won't need these things for months, but when you do, you won't want to run out to the store or try to decide what you need. We like the baby Advil more than the baby Tylenol, and we've also used Camilia and Nuby Nibblers stuffed with frozen fruit to help with sore gummers.

* Try not to drive yourself crazy when your baby is inevitably overdue. Oh, to have one of those blissfully quiet days back to sleep in, read books, watch trash TV and eat anything I want. I absolutely did not appreciate those extra 10 days to their fullest; I was too busy walking back and forth through Sunnyside Mall, willing my water to break or contractions to start. Fool.

* Do tons of fun stuff with your husband. Once the baby is born and you become a family of three, it'll be harder to find the time and energy to have date nights, or hell ... even the desire to stay up an extra half hour to watch TV together. Go out, do stuff, make the most of your couple time because it'll likely be a couple decades before you get to spend day-in and day-out as a twosome (not that that's a bad thing).

* Don't buy miscellaneous baby stuff. Sure, you think you need it or want it, but you don't really know until you've got a pile of crap in the closet that you wish you'd saved your money on. Yes, it's fun to buy a few outfits for your little one, especially if you know the sex, but you are getting and will continue to get presents and hand-me-downs. And I'm not just talking clothes. You don't know if your baby will be interested in soothers or bottles (ours wasn't), so you really only need one of each to try at first. Oh, and the toys. You might as well start mentally preparing yourself now for the hoards of stuff that will be coming into your home after your baby's first Christmas/Hanukkah/Ayyam-i-ha/etc.


* Expect to encounter competitive moms (and to maybe-sorta-kinda become one, too). No one wants to admit it, but we all secretly — or not-so-secretly in some cases — want to know about other babies and how they compare to our own. Is he bigger/taller? Does he sit/stand as well? How old was he when he reached this/that milestone? It's only natural to want to make sure your baby is thriving with the best of them.

* Get out. Seriously. Don't sit at home. When my Mum came for the week after Jacob was born, we went shopping and out to lunch on an almost-daily basis and it was great. I quickly became a pro at maneuvering the car seat and organizing the diaper bag, so when she was gone, I was totally comfortable going out and about on my own with the baby. Even now, eight months later, the dude and I like to get out of the house several times a week, if not daily.

* Never wake a sleeping baby. For Jacob, it wasn't because he'd be cranky or cry if we woke him, it was the fact that he'd then be awake. If this sounds insensitive to you, then you don't have children. Cherish the time they are asleep to do whatever you want — sleep, eat, tidy the house, oh and don't forget to shower.

* Turn off the monitor. This tip comes to you from lovely friend K who kicked my butt and told me to turn the monitor the-eff off when we were sleep training our boy. We customized the whole cry-it-out method so we were comfortable with it, but that didn't change the fact that seeing him cry or fuss on the screen of our video monitor was torture. Foolish, foolish parents.

* Write things down. I have a Google Doc on which I write the details of Jacob's life — later to be properly scrapbooked, of course. Well, that doc is horribly out of date. Every day something happens and I think, I should write that down. But every day life inevitably gets in the way and I forget. Next time, I think I'll try to take a consistent photo on each month "birthday" to show the baby's growth, like this. I know I have those monthly photos of J, but they are so disorganized I don't even want to think about sorting them out of the thousands of photos just yet.

Can somebody remind me to return to this post when I get pregnant for bebe no. 2?