Tuesday, August 30, 2011

the litwits

Lately I've been thinking about making a bucket list of all the things I want to do before I'm 30. Just for the fun of it. I do have a few years to go before reaching that age, but judging by how fast the past year raced by (my baby's almost one ohdeargod), it can never hurt to start early.

One of the things I've always wanted to do was join a book club. I love reading; I love talking about books; I love drinking and eating and laughing with friends. So, last month, I emailed a bunch of great gals and started a club. The litwits. I can't take credit for coming up with the name, but isn't it great?

Our August book was The Help. We had a kick-off event at my house, where we all brought three books, then drew names until all of the books had been picked up by someone new. It was a great way to get the literary discussion rolling. (Take the word literary with a grain of salt. There were definitely a few chick lit books being exchanged.) We all read the book, discussed on a private Facebook forum, and gathered again for a group movie date to see our book on the big screen. It's turning into great fun.

Here's our upcoming book list, if you're interested in playing along:

September - Whistling in the Dark
October - Left Neglected
November - When God was a Rabbit
December - Sarah's Key

Monday, August 29, 2011

not me monday

I did not completely bust my front passenger-side tire on my way to work last week.

My car was not already 13 years old with 385,000 kms on it, for a little context.

I did not sell it to the highest bidder biggest parts collector.

For $300.

I know you're jealous.

I'm not carless now ... just automotively challenged.

Friday, August 26, 2011

growing by the minute: 11 months

Better late than never. Time feels so fleeting to me right now. I just want to grab on to each hour and hold onto it for dear life. I had no idea that this would be such an emotional time — maybe the most emotional since the week Jacob was born. From being back to work to ending breastfeeding, a lot is changing around here.

And soon this little monster isn't going to be a baby. He'll be a toddler. One year old.

Vital stats: His growth is definitely slowing. He went to the doctor today with Dada to deal with a pesky ear ache and we found out that he is only 22 lbs., 3 oz. That's only a slight increase from his weight at nine months, putting him in the 50th percentile. He's lengthening though, and still in the 90th percentile for height. Oh, and that melon, 95th percentile.

Milestones & firsts: We find it so adorable that Jacob has different waves for hi and bye, though he only uses them when he wants to. He's doing things less on demand now and more when he really means it. This makes me sad because I used to be able to get kisses whenever I wanted, and now I have to earn them.

Husband has taught J so much since they've been home together this summer. Some of our boy's new tricks include waving his fist in a circular motion while we sing the first verse of the wheels on the bus.

Teeth: Four and more coming! It's been a somewhat rough month of teething, but now Jacob has his two top centre teeth and there's at least one more trying to push through beside it.

Speech: Jacob has added a couple words to his vocabulary, beyond Mama and Dada, which he now says with distinction. He can also say Dog and Duck. They sound similar, but are different when he's refering to different things. So far, ducks are always ducks, but lots of four-legged furry things are called dogs. Meh. We take what we can get.

Zzzzzzz: Husband has taken over nighttime feeding duties lately, since I'm no longer breastfeeding. Jacob's still sometimes waking once per night (night = a 12-hour period, usually from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am) to have a few ounces of formula, though sometimes he'll just settle himself back to sleep.

Om nom nom: We've been feeding Jacob based on what we're eating. He's especially loving peaches and nectarines when he can hold the whole thing himself. He likes taking big juicy bites and squints his eyes when its sour. The kid loves anything that's sour, like raspberries blended and frozen into popcicle form.

Likes & dislikes: Jacob is the opposite of a homebody. He loves to get out and do things. He and Dada take regular trips to the library for story time, or just to play and take out new books.

Challenges: Screaming. We went through this stage before and it seems to be rearing its ugly head again. Husband mentioned it to the doctor, who assures us it's just his way of exercising his voice.

Special moments: I tried to clear my mind and focus entirely on Jacod during our last breastfeeding sessions. I didn't allow myself to be distracted by my phone or eReader. I just watched him, talked to him and snuggled him close.

We're loving watching Jacob develop. He seems to change daily lately, which is exciting and scary at the same time. He's growing up so fast.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

mom win

I was gone from home for four nights when I went to Chicago last week. Four. That's a long time in baby world. Long long. Lovely friend A dropped me off around 11:30 pm Monday evening and all I wanted to do was climb over the rail and crawl into J's crib and snuggle him all over. I smoothed his back while he slept soundly and I took in the baby smell in his nursery. SO happy to be home.

Husband and I stayed up for a bit, giving each other weekend re-caps, and then I heard a soft cry, and for the first time in almost a year, I was thrilled that Jacob was awake in the middle of the night. I made a beeline for his room, so excited to scoop him into my arms. As I got closer to his crib, I realized this was no ordinary wake-up we were dealing with. I flipped on the light to discover that my sweet boy was covered, head-to-toe, in vomit. The look on his face could have shatter the hardest of hearts ... he was so sleepy and upset from his admittedly rude awakening, but when he saw me, his eyes perked and a smile slowly spread across his face. Despite the layer of smelly disgusting that covered him and his bed, I picked him up and held him close. He instantly laid his head down on my chest and I felt his whole body relax. I held him and rocked him for a while before gently cleaning up my half-asleep boy. I snuggled him in and gave him part of a bottle to help soothe his upset tummy, and he fell back to sleep. I laid him back into his re-made crib and smoothed his back once more.

I went back to our room and peeled off my pjs, which were no longer in sleeping condition to say the least. I could've been covered in worse and I wouldn't have cared. The poor little sickie just needed his Mama. And did it ever feel good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

mom fails

A mom fail moment.

Just one, really? If you've been a mother for more than 15 seconds, you know that, while mom fails vary in severity, they are a fairly often occurrence. Such is life. We all strive to do our best, but none of us are perfect. Not even you, and definitely not me. But when it comes to the special privilege of executing mom fails, I think the first one is probably the worst one. The first time you think you've done something wrong feels terrible.

For me, it was during the first week that Jacob was at home with us. I was buckling my sleeping baby into his car seat, as carefully as I could, gently tucking in his teeny tiny baby limbs. Then, like a bolt of lightening, he was awake. And wailing. Loudly. What the ...? I looked down and realized I had pinched his itty bitty finger in one of the clasps on his car seat. It didn't break the skin, but it certainly startled him awake, and it nearly broke my heart. Knowing that he was crying because of something I'd done. Awful.

The next time was several weeks later, when I was trimming his finger nails. And he was again, sleeping. In my haste to get it done before he woke. I snipped a bit too far, and broke the tiniest bit of skin, which didn't even really bleed, but he wailed once more, and I scooped him up and smothered him with apology kisses.

Hey, it happens. I don't think I've inflicted too many more fails on him since those initial two, but I'm always on the look out for potential gaffes. But the moral of the story? You're still the Mama, and, thankfully, those sweet little faces love you anyway.

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

simplest things

I'm writing this post as a reminder to myself. When things get busy, it's so easy to fall into old habits and forget about simple things that can make me feel good.

[+] Yoga. I love it, I really do. It refreshes me mind, body and spirit. Not all classes are created equal though. If you're local, I highly recommend Michelle's classes at Breating Space Bedford.

[+] Drinking lots of water. I hate it when I finish the work day and realize that I've barely consumed half a bottle of water. Not good. Must do better.

[+] Massages. Whether it's a splurge at the spa, a theraputic session thanks to health coverage, or a shoulder rub from Husband, it's all good.

[+] Taking vitamins. A simple multi, an extra vitamin D and occasionally a boost of vitamin C can make a big difference.

What makes you feel good?

Friday, August 19, 2011

a weekend frolic

Whoa, where did this week go? I know I owe you lots of things, most notably a "growing by the minute: 11 months" post, but I don't want to rush it, so it will have to wait.

Because, as you read this, I am here:

And I'm doing a little of this:

And this:

And on Sunday, I'll be going to this:

Happy weekend!

Monday, August 15, 2011

before & after

I'm sure this isn't going to be nearly as thrilling to you as it is to me, but ...

So. Much. Better. We can actually close our closet doors now! Hallelujah. I was on a super roll, which lead to clearing out our coat closet and tearing apart the spare room, too. Bascially organizing is my middle name.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

Opinion post: Write about how you feel about cussing in blog land. Acceptable? Unacceptable? Do you keep reading?

The anecdote that you're about to read doesn't pertain to blog land, but it does deal with some suggestive content.

Since I started my new job, I've had a few email issues. A couple gals who I email with regularly (coughsisterinlawCandlovelyfriendAcough) told me that they tried to email my work account, but their messages bounced back, forcing them to forward their notes to my Gmail instead.

This started to be cause for concern when, on the day I was emailing with MARGARET ATWOOD, one of my friend's emails bounced. What if MARGARET ATWOOD'S email doesn't come through? So I contacted a friendly guy in IT to assess the situation. He asked me to forward the error message that they received, so he could use his magic IT superpowers to fix the problem.

After sending him the info he needed, here is his reply:

"Well well, your friend uses some salty language. You may want to suggest using **** next time. The emails are being blocked for banned content."


Honestly, some of my favourite funny bloggers (like here, here and here) swear in their posts occasionally, and I find it hilarious. These writers aren't being mean spirited, so what's the big deal? In the right context, a good cuss can really emphasise the ridiculousness of a story, don't you agree?

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a journey.

46 weeks.
323 days.
And now, we're finished.

This weekend, I stopped breastfeeding.

I'm overwhelmed. I'm sad that it's over. I'm proud that I wanted to do it, and grateful that I was able to for almost a year.

I marvel at my fortune — breastfeeding came relatively easy for both myself and Jacob, and (after those first few initially, challenging days) it quickly became one of my favourite aspects of new motherhood. Most nights I didn't even mind getting out of bed to feed him. I looked forward to that quiet time, just him and me.

When I went back to work in mid-June, I decided to continue breastfeeding for as long as I could. I quickly realized, though, that not pumping meant that I had a self-imposed deadline -- a trip to Chicago for four nights, for which I'm leaving on August 18. So, we started introducing more formula, but gradually. Jacob wasn't too interested at first, but over the past four weeks, he's gotten quite comfortable snuggling in with Dada for pre-nap and bedtime bottle sessions. By the end of last week, he was even willing to take a bottle from me, so I knew he was ready for a full transition.

Having the experience to nurse Jacob for almost a year changed me. It forced me to put modesty and self consciousness on the back burner and helped me focus on selflessness.

Having had this experience, there are a few things I'll do differently next time ...

[+] I won't chart every moment of feeding for a month. Yes, I did it for a month. I wrote down when he nursed, for how long, which side, everything. I think I used it as a bit of a crutch, to keep us on a schedule, to remind myself that I was doing this motherhood thing right. Next time I'll trust my instincts, and my baby's signals.

[+] I won't waste money on nursing tops. Regular clothes work fine, for the most part.

[+] I will invest in great nursing bras. I bought a couple cheapies when I was still pregnant and they did not do the job. Support is key.

[+] I will drink more water. Nursing makes you crazy thirsty, and I know I didn't always hydrate properly while breastfeeding Jacob.

I know I'm going to miss that time that only I could provide for Jacob, I'm willing to admit that I'm happy to share the bedtime feedings with Husband and I'm glad to have more of my independence back.

What did you love/not love about breastfeeding? Do you have any nursing stories or advice to share?

Monday, August 8, 2011

meatless monday: turkey dinner

Meatless and turkey doesn't exactly go together in one thought, but bare with me. I recently made turkey dinner. I know what you're saying, "You cooked a turkey in your oven in the summer? Are you mad?" It really wasn't so bad. I put it in the oven early in the morning on a day that was cool-ish and rainy, and it was ready by noon, so the house didn't get overly hot.

Believe it or not, turkey dinner is one of my very favourite meals, even though I don't partake in the star attraction. For me, it's all about the fixin's. Here are recipes for a few of my faves:

Squash Casserole

3 cups squash, lightly salted and cooked until just tender
1 medium grated onion
1 medium grated carrot
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream soup (I usually use cream of mushroom and garlic)
Dash of pepper

Top with:
1 box Stovetop stuffing
1 stick margerine, melted

Drain squash well. Add the next 5 ingredients and stir. Melt margerine and add Stovetop package. Add 1/3 of stuffing mix to squash mixture, combine. Turn into greased casserole and add remaining stuffing to top. Gently press. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Green Bean Casserole

This isn't an exact science. Here's how I do it:

1 bag of frozen French-style green beans
2 cans cream of mushroom and garlic soup
1 can French's fried onions

Mix it all up, saving a handful of the delicious crunchy onions for the top. Bake, covered, until hot and bubbly. Take the over off for the last few minutes to crisp the onions.

This last one is new to me. Turns out, after consulting with my Ma, that this is my great grandmother's recipe. I love these tried-and-true treats.

Molasses Cake

1 cup molases
½ cup sugar
4 Tbsp margerine, melted
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp all spice
2 cups flour

Mix all of the above. Add to batter: 1 cup boiling water mixed with heaping tsp baking soda. Mix well. Bake at 350 until springy.

So tasty! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

blogging evolution

If you were to go back to the moment you decided to start a blog, what 10 blogging tips would you share with yourself?

1) When you think of something to write about, draft a post. Right then. Don't wait. You will forget what you were going to say, I promise.

2) Try to keep your content consistent. It's super annoying to fall in love with blog, only to check it day after day and be disappointed to find no updates.

3) That said, if you don't blog every day, it's not the end of the world. How many readers do you really think you have? Don't sacrifice sleep for the sake of uploading blog photos.

4) Go ahead and write about whatever you feel like. Don't forget, you're doing this for you.

5) Use tags to sort your posts, but try to keep your number of tags under control. It's easy to label each post something different, but it quickly becomes overwhelming. Consider your content.

6) Comments are awesome, so share the love. When other bloggers take the time to leave a note, venture to their blog and write back. Even better, join a group like SITS where you can meet and converse with lots of fun bloggers.

7) Use photos to break up long, wordy posts. Try to resist the urge to just grab one from Google Images. You don't have be a pro. Try Picnik for easy edits.

8) And when you do use an image or text from elsewhere, ALWAYS give credit where credit's due.

9) Keep it simple. So many blogs are loaded with so many graphics that it's hard to see the content for the clutter.

10) Please, please, please consider the rules of grammar, at least a little bit, before hitting the "publish post" button. Nothing makes me unsubscribe faster than a blog filled with spelling mistakes and zero regard for the English language.

What are your blog tips?

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer's prompt.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

vacation from my vacation

Am I the only one who has a love-hate relationship with vacation?

I anticipate time off for weeks, sometimes months, in advance. Planning, organizing, packing. As the time approaches, I'm filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension ... What do I need to remember? What have I already forgotten? Then, after hours in the car, I fall into that magical bubble of family, swimming, smores, and sunbathing. Then, when it's time to drive home, I'm filled again with the same mix of stress, but in reverse. Decompressing, unpacking, cleaning and regaining some semblance of routine.

Having a baby adds a unique element to the situation. I anticipate time with family in a different way -- I was thrilled to introduce Jacob to my fun relatives. I worked to make sure conditions are perfect -- that Jacob had what he needs to be in the best mood possible for being passed around by people he still (somewhat) considers strangers. And he didn't disappoint. Despite some obvious teething discomfort, Jacob was cheerful and fun the whole time we were away. Love.

But in the end, summer vacation is always wonderful. Each year, I'm sad to leave my family and return to real life. Thanks to all of you who helped make our whirlwind vacay pretty great. xo

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

try it tuesday: quick fix

I swear if I didn't know it was definitely, 100% not true, I'd think I was nesting. A strange urge came over me on the weekend to change things up in our house. We are renting, so we can't go too wild and crazy, but there was one idea my Mum and I had discussed long ago that came to mind.

Here's the before-we-moved-in state of the kitchen. It's the closest thing I have to a proper before photo. Notice the dusty rose countertops and the gold-and-rose cabinet knobs?

The colour wasn't so bad once we actually furnished our kitchen with our mostly-black-and-stainless-steel, countertop appliances. But I still wasn't grooving on those knobs. So a quick trip to Rona and $40 later ...

So, look around. What small switch could make a huge difference in your home?