Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I signed up for a rec basketball league. It's Monday nights at 9pm for an hour. Even though I'm in terrible shape, it feels great to get in a run at least once a week. Hopefully as the season goes on, I'll get my wind back and actually be able to play well. 

And my baby has mercifully returned to just 2 wake-ups at night. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are these dark circles permanent?

While it's amazing what your body can get used to, your body can never adjust to continuous sleep deprivation, and I'm starting to feel the effects. 

For the last 3 weeks, my 5 month-old has been waking up 3 or more times at night. Some nights she wakes up so much that I'm not sure whether she needs to eat or not because I'm so confused. She also spends an hour each night just babbling. It's crazy. I would have guessed that it's teething because I can see a little bud but she's not cranky when she wakes up.  

I find that I'm more confused during the day too, I lack energy, and I'm not fun to be around because I'm so tired. I know it'll get better and I just need to wait it out but does anyone have some coping advice? Did I mention she's not napping either? She's taking what can only be described as power naps. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Family Washrooms

I know we're spoiled in BWV with diaper-eez for diaper changes and nursing stops while shopping. Chapters has a washroom too but it's not well-maintained. 

For mall shopping, Yorkdale has the best nursing facility (the one across from Holt's), Dufferin Mall family washroom is second, and Sherway (near door 3) is third - although it's often too busy. These are the places I shop when it's too hot to stay at home and probably when it'll be too cold to take long walks in the winter. 

I find that when I go shopping downtown I'm really frustrated by the facilities. The Eaton Centre doesn't provide a family washroom, instead they direct you to the fifth floor of Sears. 

Yesterday, we were shopping in Yorkville and had a really hard time finding a baby change table. Pottery Barn Kids and Gap Kids don't have the facilities on Bloor that they do in Sherway. There was a baby change station in Indigo at Bay/Bloor but not a place to nurse. The Bay at Yonge and Bloor has a change station in their washrooms on the 3rd and 5th floors. Their nursing area is in the "play room" on the 4th floor but it was repurposed for Ramadan. 

While I don't mind nursing in public anymore, I avoid it because Petra is easily distracted. She needs a relatively quiet place. I found a chair in the Bay and just moved it to a corner of the infant clothing area and nursed there. It was funny because a Sales Associate was trying to find me a different place to nurse because 'dads' do shop in that section. 

Does anyone know of a good nursing/changing area in Yorkville?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Have you heard of kijiji.ca? It's an online classified, available in most Canadian cities. Over the last year, we've bought all kinds of things on kijiji - our leather armchair, our side tables, the Baby Bjorn, and the Bumbo. 

We get a lot of baby loaner items, otherwise we'd be using kijiji even more. A friend of mine has her house listed there too. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Newman Breastfeeding Clinic

Check out this post on the Junction Parents blog. It points to a Toronto Star article about Dr. Jack Newman's Breastfeeding Clinic and their financial woes. 

As a society we still have a lot of work to do before breastfeeding is as natural as it should be. Clinics like Dr. Newman's help hundreds of women every month to solve breastfeeding issues, to learn more about breastfeeding and to pass that knowledge on to other women.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wall Tattoos

I just heard about this Ottawa store while watching CityLine. It's called Wall Juice, think wall decals and tattoos. Click here to check it out. I love it because you can design your own too. 

CityLine showed a faux mantel, a stenciled tattoo on a drywall box in the shape of a mantel. Hard to imagine if you haven't seen it but Wall Juice will be adding it to their website. It was inspired by a french trend of hand-painted faux fireplaces.

If you're like me and love the IDEA of designing your own but won't actually do it, check out IKEA's wall decals


Sunday, September 21, 2008

School Milk Programs

I didn't grow up with a school milk program so I haven't ever given it much thought. I heard from a girlfriend that her daughter's school lunch program offers regular and chocolate milk in their milk program. They also sent home a leaflet explaining that chocolate is really not such a terrible choice.

I think it's ridiculous that chocolate milk is offered at school. When I was growing up, chocolate milk was a treat and not a staple.

What do you think about chocolate milk in schools?

Friday, September 19, 2008


Like many people in Toronto, I park on the street. My driveway is too narrow for my car to pass and the addition at the back of our house means that only a very small car could actually get into the garage. 

In July, my car was keyed from head to toe while parked on the street. At the beginning I was really upset. I felt sick thinking of how much it would cost to fix, arrange for a rental, and get a parking permit for the rental. Then I was angry that some stupid teenager (assumption) would be so nasty. Then I started to justify it - most teenagers just don't have an appreciation for the value of personal property because they haven't had to pay for anything in their lives. So keying a car is the perfect crime for a teenager. The risk is low and the payoff is huge. It's so unlikely that they will get caught and the payoff is looking cool in front of your friends. Eventually I got over the whole thing and I was finally planning to get the body work done on Monday. 

This afternoon, I was leaving the mall and loading Petra into the car and I saw a great, big, black streak on my car. Someone had scrapped my car either entering or exiting the stall next to me. Later I remembered a black SUV had been parked in the next stall at the restaurant I went to for breakfast and it likely happened there. I probably hadn't noticed it at the time because I was parked in the shade. 

Someone, some jerk, hit my car hard enough to make it rock and pulled away without leaving a note. My car was hit by another car owner who is just irresponsible and obnoxious. I hate that. I hate that there is nothing I can do about it too. There's no recourse and no way of finding out who did it. 

Now I'm just hoping my insurance company will cover this new scrape without charging a second deductible. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moms Groups

Are moms groups really for moms or for babies? 

Today I joined my friend's moms group for tea in the afternoon. They are a really nice group of women - laid back, conversationalists, open minded, just fun to be around and I really enjoy spending time with them. I don't get together with them too frequently either so they stay novel. 

When I got home I was thinking about how I always have such a good time but wondering if it's worth it for Petra. She was exhausted, I delayed her nap by over an hour, she was grumpy at the get together and had a really hard time falling asleep after. It was only later, during our pre-nighttime walk, that I realized how great moms group is for her too. 

I packed her up into the stroller, which was fully reclined, she tried to do a sit-up and failed and then got frustrated. The cool part? When she got mad she said "dadadaaaa". First time ever. Then we were waiting in line at the Rogers store to exchange my dud of a digital box for literally 45 minutes and she did it again! So I said, "mamama!". She replied with "nananaaa". Haha!

She tends to be a lot more social and 'chatty' after spending time with babies even if she only observes them. So tomorrow we'll have a mommy meetup in High Park for $2.99 breakfast. I'll enjoy the toast and Petra, the conversation. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

What would you do...

if your four month-old daughter napped for over 3 hours one day? Would you take a nap? Have a bubble bath? Watch a DVD? 

Here's what I did today when Petra slept for over 3 hours:
1. Watched a Law and Order rerun,
2. Vacuumed the house (even the baseboards), 
3. Wiped down the kitchen, 
4. Checked that she was still breathing,
5. Updated my blog.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Momma Tip - Stain Removal

Not a new idea but if you are a cloth diapering momma, hang your stained diapers in sunlight to get rid of the stains (even old ones). I like to throw them in the dryer for a few minutes after they've dried in the sun just to soften them up.

For all other stains, use Oxi Clean. Soak stained clothes in water and one scoop of Oxi Clean for 24 hours. Voila! Stain gone. I buy the mega box at Costco.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Good Read

My cousin recommended this book after reading my blog: The Consumer's Guide To Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice From The Union Of Concerned Scientists. The book is full of in-depth analysis of consumer impact on the environment. It offers practical solutions for regular families looking to reduce their impact. 

The most important thing I learned in this book: don't sweat the small stuff. Cloth diapers are small stuff. Cars, air travel and home heating are not small stuff. 

It's amazing that a book written nine years ago is still relevant. Amazing that things really haven't changed in that time and the average consumer is still not savvy about the decisions they should be making. 

Ukrainian Festival

After an ill-fated year down at the Harbourfront, the Ukrainian festival is back on Bloor. The festival runs this weekend on Bloor St. West between Runnymede and Jane. 

There will be a children's midway, a main stage, and street vendors. The parade starts at 11am Saturday from High Park.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Aquafit - Diaper Fit

I just signed up for a Mom and Baby Aquafit class called Diaper Fit (page 87 of the Toronto Fun Guide). It's Fridays 1:30-2pm at Mary McCormick Pool. The first class is October 3rd and it runs for 9 weeks. There are 6 spots left!

Momma Tip - tummy time

This one comes from a friend of a friend. It can be hard to get babies to spend time on their tummy when they're first learning to hold their head up. Here's a way to stretch out the time. 

1. Take your breastfeeding pillow and put it on the floor. 
2. Place your alert baby inside the horseshoe face down so the baby is angled head up, belly on the cushion and feet on the floor. 
3. Put toys in front the baby.
4. Watch your baby carefully. Make sure they don't fall asleep, or bury their head in the pillow. 

This trick got my daughter to actually spend 2-3 minutes on her tummy.

Any other tips for mommas?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Foods

This morning on BT there was a nutritionist talking about baby's first foods. Of course I had to leave the room to take care of my daughter and missed the segment but it got me thinking about first foods again. Petra will be 6 months at the end of October so it's been on my mind lately. 

The Canadian Paediatric Society has a comprehensive guide for feeding baby in the first year. I've often heard people say the CPS recommends starting with rice cereal as a baby's first food but on their site they recommend starting with an iron rich food that can include: iron fortified cereal, meat, poultry, cooked egg yoke, or well cooked legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas).

A blogger that I follow pointed to this MSNBC article from 2005. The article suggests that baby first food books are out of date and that, as parents, it's our responsibility to expose our children to a variety of foods including spice! They also talk about rice cereal as being equivalent to adding sugar to your child's formula because it's so quickly converted in the body. And allergies? Unless you have a family history of allergens, there's no need to avoid particular foods. 

My "first foods" visit to the doctor isn't until October 27th so I have plenty of time to mull it over and decide when to introduce Petra to food and what it will be. 

What did you feed your child as a first meal?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Momma Tip

My daughter nurses 2-4 times per night. That means many leaky nighttime diapers. I haven't been able to find waterproof sheets very easily so I only own one. My trick for preventing midnight insanity is this. I put the waterproof sheet on the crib mattress first, then I layer a small, inexpensive, cloth changepad down, and then a top sheet. That way, if the diaper leaks at night, I change her clothes, remove the top sheet and put her to sleep again on the waterproof sheet. Minimal sleep disturbance. 

Do you have a Momma Tip you want to share?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Junction Arts Fest - Sept 3-7, 2008

We walked up to Dundas West today to check out the Junction Arts Fest. We hit the Bosnia Restaurant, Bosna Burek and Cevap, on our way. Potato Burek (potato pie) is my favourite thing to eat there but they don't always make it so we call ahead - the owner makes it on request. I was glad we took the long way because I usually shortcut down St. John's to get to the Junction. I finally found Reba's! I would have continued to miss it if I'd stuck to the shortcut. Apparently Reba makes the best (and best priced) latte in the neighbourhood.

Festivals always make me happy. Stores open their doors and you get to peek inside the shops you normally wouldn't, it's fun - "these are the people in your neighbourhood" kind of fun. This year's festival was even better than last year. I was happy to not be able to freely walk down the street like I could last year because it's a sign the festival is getting busier. It's nice to see the festival enjoying success. It was also nice not being in the first trimester of a pregnancy. Last year it was stinking hot and all the food smells were turning me off so we had to bail early. This year, we packed the baby in the Bjorn, strolled along looking at art, met up with some friends, and checked out the performances. 

This festival is cool because it's off the wall. There was a poetry peep show where viewers were peeking in on a poet reading their work, art installations on the street, and impromptu dance and acting happenings. One of my favourite things was the dance exhibit from HiP KiK, a local belly dancing school, they had various classes demonstrating their skills. The students we saw were all beginners, mostly moms in their 30s/40s wearing jingly bells on their hips and ankles. It was obvious they weren't really comfortable with their skills, concentration was clearly written on their faces but I thought it was really courageous of them to get up there and perform in front of all those people. Performing is easy when it's easy. It was really nice to see them put aside their reservations/fear, which I'm sure they had, to get up on stage.

The only annoying thing about the day was all the smoking. There were people smoking everywhere. It would be nice to see the organizers promote it as smoke free next year especially since the Junction is growing into a 'green' community. It could be a little clean air initiative. The green slant is evident everywhere: organic chocolate shop, organic shopping market (competitively priced), organic coffee shops, organic burger joint, green realtors, and reclamation stores. It's an authentically niche neighbourhood. 

What was your favourite festival this summer?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Things to do in BWV on Mat Leave

I've been looking for moms in my area for a while (although not very hard). I'm lucky to have 2 great girlfriends who are off at the same time and we manage to fill our time successfully. I still wanted to reach out to other moms in my area mainly so that my morning walks are less lonely but also to network. 

I find that the "groups" in my area are rather scattered. Some of the moms are part of a High Park "Meetup", others are in a facebook group called "Junction Parents", and I was unable to find anything specific for Bloor West Village. The High Park Meetup group was about to expire and the site actually charges a fee for use so I decided to start a Yahoo group. I've invited the moms from the Meetup and the Junction Parents. Hopefully it amounts to something... 6 members and counting.

Here's the link if you're interested in joining: http://ca.groups.yahoo.com/group/torontowestparents/

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Regular or Decaf?

So it's impossible to get "green" coffee in Canada. There are no local growers, due to climate, beans have to travel great distances to reach us. Since I love coffee and can't live without it, I do the best I can. I buy fair trade, locally roasted beans. My roastery is the Coffee Tree in Bloor West Village. 

I have another coffee issue though. When I found out I was pregnant I switched to decaf. Best thing for the baby right? Last week someone pointed out that beans have to go through some kind of process to get the caffeine out (duh). Seriously, it hadn't occurred to me. I decided to look it up. There are actually 4 processes and 2 methods for "decaffeinating" beans. Check out Wikipedia if you want to know more about them. 

I usually buy Swiss Water Decaf - although I had no clue what it meant. While it's a chemically free process, it does waste water and beans in the process. So, to decaf or not to decaf? Recently some beans have been discovered that contain lower amounts of caffeine naturally. It'll be neat to see if they become more widely available. 

I may go back to caffeine, see how the baby takes it, possibly cut to half a cup a day. 

ps. it's easy to decaffeinate your tea. Just pour off the first infusion, use the same leaves and pour the cup again. Most of the caffeine will pour off in the first cup.

Monday, September 1, 2008

More about Produce

This week the Kawartha Eco Growers, my produce co-op, told us that in 1960 most of Toronto's food came from within 350 kilometres of the city, or almost entirely from its foodshed. Today, however, at least 60% of the fresh produce consumed in Toronto is imported from the United States, and a third of it arrives in Ontario's own growing season.

My family isn't perfect. We buy produce from KEG every week and I try to buy Ontario grown produce when I see it in the store. If I want blueberries but none from Ontario are available, I don't sweat it, I still buy the U.S. ones. We sometimes buy meat from the organic butcher but we also regularly buy meat at the grocery store. I'm starting to buy more organic staples like milk, bread, and eggs but it's not always the case. I use cloth diapers, but not all the time. I recycle and compost but I also seem to throw a lot of stuff in the garbage. I try to buy used furniture and baby goods but we also own a lot of disposable furniture from IKEA. We all do the best we can and we can all do more.

"We get cheap food at a price... not measured in money, but in untallied debts that will be paid by our children in the currency of extinctions, economic unravellings, and global climate change." - Barbara Kingsolver