Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pregnancy and a Woman's Body

There's no doubt that pregnancy changes your body forever. Your belly grows exponentially (resulting in stretch marks for 90% of us) and while stretch marks fade, the rumble strips are around for good. Besides the scars, basically everything downstairs changes too. You will just never feel the same again but, to me, a baby is worth it. 

I started thinking about this today because I can finally see my abs again. Your abs are one of the first things you say goodbye to when pregnant and they were the last to return. I'm pretty sure it's because I spent at least 5 months of my pregnancy rolling over instead of sitting up, and once Petra was born, rolling over was a hard habit to break. Just like how it takes a while to realize you can bend over again. Once your abs are weakened, it's really hard to get them back. My tummy would hurt, and still does, when I exercise hard. All I've been doing to get them back is pelvis stabilizing exercises. I did unwrap a Pilates DVD and put it in the DVD player but I haven't watched it thru once yet.

Speaking of exercise, that's another post-pregnancy shocker. Try having a baby vaginally and then going for a jog or jumping up and down. It's pretty terrifying, if you have a fear of peeing your pants in public anyway.

Obviously your breasts change too but it's different for every mom. Some have told me theirs got bigger, while mine are smaller. I think the biggest complaint we all have is how they are no longer a matching set. The Baby Whisperer, in her chapter on deciding whether or not to breastfeed, lists t-shirt nipples as a breastfeeding con. Before J.Lo had her twins, she used to pay someone to perk her nipples for her. That should make it a breastfeeding pro, right?

So the abs are back and the kangaroo pouch remains... I still have some work to do. Have any other mommas noticed earth shattering changes?

Friday, November 28, 2008


I love that word: Personality. I like the way DJs on the radio take on that word to describe their work. 'I'm a radio personality' or 'I'm a TV personality'. I've noticed some of them call themselves Attitudes now. What a great way to describe yourself! It's as if when they turn on their mic, their alter-ego emerges. BeyoncĂ© has just released a new CD called "I am... Sasha Fierce" which is in honour of her alter-ego.

I think I have my own alter-ego. The one that comes out when I write a post about the Keeper Cup or just get silly. One of my good friends calls it "radio Gina". I think of it as the fun part of me. I only just realized a few days ago that I had lost touch with it since having the baby 7 months ago. 

I was joining my stroller fit group late one morning and kind of ran into them to catch up. I joked that I was going to play bumper strollers! and finally realized that playfulness in me had been missing. I think with the baby, I became very serious. All this time I've been feeling like it was fatigue that was causing me to be boring but now I believe that it also had to do with suppressing the 'fun' to take care of the baby. It feels really good to get it back in some way. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Travel

Are any of you planning to travel for the holidays? We're going to Edmonton to visit my family for three weeks! I love Christmas, it's the time of year when everyone gets together, even my dad takes a break. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Beautiful Moment

I want to write this down so I don't forget. I just shared the most beautiful moment with my daughter. I was trying to stretch her evening out because I'm getting a little sick of waking up at 6am and I want her to go to bed later but I'm failing miserably. I was trying to find engaging games to play to distract her at all costs. 

One of her favourite games is face tickling so I laid her in my lap facing me and bent over her to shake my hair in her face. She closed her eyes, like she always does, opened one hand to feel my hair and held her other hand in a loose fist. What she did next she's never done before, with a huge gummy grin she started gurgling. It was so sign-songy and adorable, it sounded like pure pleasure.

I just kept shaking my hair and she kept making her beautiful sounds. I'm sure describing it doesn't do it justice but now I'll remember. I hope all the moms out there enjoy, and remember moments like this with their kids. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Healthy Home To Do List

This is from the Environmental Working Group

A question they hear a lot from parents is: "If you could recommend one thing we should all do to improve the environmental health of our families, what would it be?". In response to that question, they compiled this high priority list
  1. Choose better body care products.
  2. Go organic and eat fresh foods.
  3. Avoid fire retardants.
  4. Pick plastics carefully.
  5. Filter your tap water.
  6. Wash your hands.
  7. Skip non-stick.
  8. Use a HEPA-filter vacuum.
  9. Get your iodine.
  10. Use greener cleaning products and avoid pesticides.
  11. Eat good fats.
Download the *.pdf to learn more about each item. The full *.pdf contains a lot of great information for pregnant and nursing moms.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Would it kill you to smile?

In my first year at the University of Alberta, I took an introductory Sociology class. As a first project, to weed out the lazy students, the prof asked us to break a social norm and then write about it. Once we had turned in our papers he invited some of us to talk about what we did. Some toilet papered dorms, others picked their nose in church, or held the hand of someone of the same gender and walked around a small town. 

It was a pretty challenging assignment for someone like me who is generally eager to please and doesn't like to rock the boat. I decided I would talk to every stranger I met on the elevator in a single day. If you haven't randomly talked to a stranger on an elevator for no reason, you should give it a try. Some people ignored me, some laughed awkwardly, some were nice, one invited me for coffee, it was funny and weird. 

I liked the assignment because it stuck with me. I still strike up conversations on the elevator just because. I also make a point of introducing myself to people in the coffee room or at stroller walk, as an example. It's fun because I'm interested in them. 

Toronto is not exactly known for being friendly, although I think it is. I've repeated this experiment here a few times. I keep it very simple, just smile and say 'hello'. Most people downtown are guarded, afraid of random attacks or begging. Here in BWV, most smile back and say hello. It makes me feel connected to my neighbourhood.

If you want to give smiling at strangers a try, I recommend starting on a sunny day (because no one is sunny on a miserable day) and use the morning (it's easier to say 'good morning' than 'hello' to random strangers). It helps to have an adorable baby in a stroller but it's not required. I think you'll like it. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Check it out!

I'm very excited about Blogger's new 'reactions' function. You can now vote whether you agree or disagree with a post with one easy click! The options are a bit limited but it'll do for now. 

Oven Cleaning

I grew up in a small town where all my friends lived in bungalows. As we got older, and bigger, our parents upgraded their homes. Some bought bigger, some bought new, and some renovated their bungalows. Those who bought new houses got self-cleaning ovens. I didn't have a clue what that meant but I knew they liked it.  

As a former apartment dweller, and messy cook, I've seen (and cleaned) some yucky ovens. My mom taught me the easiest way to clean an oven. You can bring any disgusting oven back to normal with Easy-Off. Spray it on, leave it overnight, do a first swipe with paper towels, and then rinse really well using a sponge and a bucket of water. 

Each time I cleaned one of these stinkers (including my own today), it made me remember those self-cleaning ovens. It's funny how we make assumptions when we're thinking of the future. I always thought I would have a self-cleaning oven when I owned my own house, that I would never have to clean an oven once I was thru with apartments. Then the house I bought had a regular oven. Maybe in our next house. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is it still safe for kids to walk to school?

Is it still safe for kids to walk to school alone? That was CityOnline's lunch hour survey today. I didn't catch the results of the phone poll but judging by what people were saying on the phone, the opinion is overwhelmingly NO. Many people called in saying kids could be snatched at any time, that streets are not as safe as they were 10 years ago, and that there are hundreds of pedophiles in the city. 

I have to say I haven't done any research on the subject but all I could think was "fear mongering". I think there is a risk, no doubt but not a prevalent one. 

I really don't believe that crime has increased, I think it's been the opposite. That said, it may rise again in the face of a recession. Certainly the number of crime dramas on television have increased which may be contributing to a perception of increased crime. 

There is also a periphery story at play here, childhood obesity. Seriously. Fewer kids are walking to school, they're getting a ride from their parents instead. 

When it's time for Petra to go to school, I'll rely on the buddy system and teach her about potential dangers that she'll face. It's the only way to prepare her for later stabs at independence like: public transportation, summer camp, and sports teams. Basically anything out of the house and out of my sight. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


One of my favourite profs posted this article on facebook. It's about the consequences of a school system (our school system) that rewards students for effort rather than achievement. The article focuses on the kind of student that is being turned over to Universities.

Those raised on the self-esteem philosophy are broadly known as Generation-Y, here's a Wall Street Journal article that summarizes how it's affecting the professional world too.

Tag You're It

I've officially been welcomed to the world of blogging, I was tagged by my colleague Shannon. Although I haven't met Shannon in person, I know that if she lived on my street, I would want to be her friend. 

Here are the rules:

  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Share six (6) non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
  • Tag at least 3 people at the end of your post and link to their blogs.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Six Things About Me:
  • I can wiggle my ears. My dad could do it so my sister and I spent the good part of a day, when I was ten, figuring it out. In the same category, I have double-jointed thumbs and I can curl my tongue.
  • I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I think it's a chore. 
  • I part my hair on the right. It's basically always a chin-length bob and the colour hasn't changed in 5 years. 
  • I could win a couch potato contest any day of the week. My favourite thing to watch is 70/80's murder mystery like: Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Remington Steel, Magnum PI, MacMillan and Wife, The Equalizer.
  • I don't like dogs. When I was a kid, I had an irrational fear of them and now I find them more annoying than cute. 
  • I'm left-handed and I think the world ignores us sometimes. This morning I couldn't get a pair of scissors to work until I put them in my right hand. 
Since I started blogging because I'm on maternity leave, I'm going to tag other blogging moms I know. Lindsay D., Tina, and Erika, have fun.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Most people have heard of freecycle. The website was created to help people unload their quality second-hand items to someone willing to take it. Their goal is to keep good stuff out of the landfill by connecting "sellers" and "buyers". A yahoo group is the foundation of the site, so essentially, you're sending an email to a distribution list and hopefully one of their subscribers wants your item. The system works reciprocally as well (you can post want ads). 

I was generously given two different strollers to use the last few months and they have served me well. Once I decided what I really wanted and bought a new one, I no longer need the first two but Goodwill wouldn't take the strollers. I decided to give freecycle a try. 

I literally posted the strollers at 11:13am and they were both picked up by 5:00pm. The best part about it, the strollers are going to two needy families. 

Right now I'm in love with freecycle so I'm hesitant to tell you about the people that struck me as odd but it's all part of the experience. There is a family that lists their items, then they collect the responses from people who want the stuff and decide who deserves to get each item. I can't even describe why I think that's weird. Then there was another poster who said she would chose the "winner" of her item by evaluating the spelling in the reply emails. 

I used the first-come, first-served approach.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


When you hear the word brunch what do you think of? home fries, eggs, coffee, friends, Sunday mornings? Those are some of the things I think of. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, always has been. If I could, I would eat eggs, toast, hashbrowns and pancakes or waffles every morning- oh and sausage too. Someone says 'brunch' and I say 'when and where?'. For me it's more than the food though. A big breakfast usually means it's a casual day and it always means a group - family or friends. 

Today, for the first time, I ordered Heuvos Rancheros at Dr. Generosity in BWV. I've always been a little curious about heuvos rancheros but always felt weird about ordering it because it seems so weird to have tortillas and chili for breakfast. It was literally one of THE best brunch items I've ever had.

What do you like to eat for brunch? Have a favourite brunch place?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Six Month Itch

During the first few months of my maternity leave, I heard a few of my friends with older babies say they 'really wanted another' or 'didn't want a big age difference between their children'. I didn't think much of it at the time. Then I got my period back.

Now my mind/body is playing a sick trick on me. Suddenly I'm thinking about how great being pregnant would be or how great it would be for Petra to be a big sister. Poor kid, she starts to show a little personality and I'm already turning her into a big sister.

I asked a friend about this urge, or the six-month itch, and she said "don't do it" which I thought was hilarious because I'm not really serious. Then I asked some of the women from my walking group, a few of them - not all - also said they had been struck by the six-month itch. 

I thought it certainly had to be tied to hormones. Our body heals, our menstrual cycle resumes, and our brain receives a signal - time to make more babies. When I googled the subject I found just a few discussion forum chats, nothing specific, but I didn't really know what search words to use.

Has anyone else heard of the six-month itch, felt it, or know anything concrete about it? I only call it the six-month itch because these crazy feelings only struck me in the last couple weeks and Petra is six-months old. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Best Family Dog

No, I'm not in the market for a dog. And no, I'm not a huge fan of dogs. But today I saw a beautiful Great Dane in the park. The dog was so stunning that I stopped the owner to ask a few questions about him. 

She said a Great Dane is exactly like a man - they just like to lie around. Of course you have a to run/walk a dane once or twice a day since they were bred to chase but you don't need to worry about living on a large estate to keep these hounds happy. Great Danes are known for their gentle personalities but a lot end up at animal rescue, just like the one I saw today. 

I think they are gorgeous and, if I was a dog person, this one would be up there on my list. 

What's your favourite family dog?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bean Sprouts

When was the last time you sprouted beans? Mine was in junior high school for science class. 

Recently, I got a solids introduction calendar from the Vaughan Medical Centre, their list includes mung bean sprouts for 6 month olds. I happen to have mung beans in my house thanks to my mom's pre/postpartum visit so I called her to find out how to sprout these mung beans for Petra. 

It's pretty simple, you need a container covered with cheesecloth and dry mung beans. You soak the beans first overnight, then drain and rinse very well, and leave for a day, drain and rinse again each day until they sprout. The container needs to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place (like a kitchen cupboard). You should have sprouts within 3 or 4 days. To serve them to baby, just grind them.

The sprouts contain: (1) iron which is important at 6 months because most babies' iron stores begin to deplete, (2) fluid, (3) fibre, both are important for colon health and (4) enzymes which facilitate metabolic processes like digestion.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jamie Oliver

The work that what Jamie is doing in the UK to improve food and nutrition is admirable and makes me wish we had our own Jamie in Canada. His latest effort, Jamie's Ministry of Food, has caught the attention of government officials in the UK and he was recently invited to speak to the House about what he thinks the government should do to improve nutritional programs nationally. 

The 'Ministry of Food' is "about inspiring people to get back into their kitchens and make simple, delicious food from scratch again." (from his site). It's funny to hear him talk about food because it sounds a lot like the art of breastfeeding. He says we've lost our knack for passing cooking skills from generation to generation. 

Personally I think schools should place a much higher emphasis on nutrition, including cooking skills. Why is a skill so basic to our livelihood not treated as a core? And it's easy to get kids excited about food if you involve them in the fun hands-on part. In kindergarten, kids help prepare their own snacks but suddenly in the upper years, there's no longer 'time' to prepare snacks and lunches during the day. 

What do you think?

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I just got a new stroller! It's the Phil&Ted's Sport. I bought it at Macklem's in Roncesvalles. Phild&Ted's motto is: One buggy, 2 kids, 4 positions, loads of years. We'd be getting ahead of ourselves with the 2 kids part so we haven't bought the second seat yet. I'm glad I could rely on hand-me-downs until now so I didn't have to buy something until I was sure what I wanted. 

This one is ideal for the long walks I like to take and also for my morning walking group in High Park. Thanks Irina for the stroller suggestion

Sleep Doula Update

Things seems to be going well. We're now 5 nights in and she is sleeping until 5 or 6 am... still working on that last stretch to get her to sleep until 7. My body is much happier with more sleep. I've been able to get a lot more done each day. I can't say I've noticed a big change in Petra, she was really touchy yesterday evening after 5pm. She still likes to be held most of the time that we're home.

She is eating more. Instead of just breaking off pieces of banana, I give her the whole thing now. It's cute, she latches onto it. If she gums off a bigger than she can handle, she just spits it out. I think I'm going to make her a blackberry shake today with momma's milk.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sleep Doula

I think Doulas are really special people. They will drop everything to spend 12 or more hours coaching you through labour and delivery. They will come to your house to cook, clean, and provide breastfeeding advice once your baby is born. Some even stay in your home for a few sleepless nights to correct your child's sleep problems.

Petra has been a terrible sleeper for the last couple months. She used to wake only once or twice but then she started to wake every 1.5 or two hours. My philosophy was always to feed her in the night if she actually ate something. I can tell you it's hard when your baby eats every 2 hours during the day, it's even harder if they're doing it around the clock.

Lots of my friends and our family doctor told me to follow the Ferber Method to get her to sleep better but I couldn't stand the idea of letting her cry it out. At the same time, I was starting to feel really helpless, tired, and resentful. Then my Ontario Early Years Centre held a free sleep doula session. I signed up for it hoping to hear something new. 

The sleep doula had a lot of experience, she described Petra's sleep patterns exactly. While she wasn't really specific on tactics, she said every family has to follow an approach that they are comfortable with. In the session, I found out I was lucky because Petra does go to sleep on her own, her only issue was night feedings. 

We got Petra to fall asleep on her own months ago by following Ferber's advice of having a routine, being consistent, reading her cues, and stimulating her between naps. I also waited until I thought she was mature enough to fall asleep on her own. I rocked or jiggled her to sleep until she was almost 4 months old.

All I needed to hear from the doula was that Petra does not need to eat in the night and that by feeding her every time she woke, I was enabling her. I decided that I would tough it out for a few nights to see if I could correct her sleep problems on my own. I also decided at the outset that if I couldn't do it, I would call in a doula. 

The first night was tough. My approach: I decided I would not pick her up or feed her when she woke in the night. I soothed her back to sleep by talking to her, and giving her a soother and blanket. Touching her face really helped (a suggestion from the doula because she's breastfed). She also kept rejecting the soother so I gave up on it after a while. We spent from 10:30pm-2am mostly awake with me soothing her. Then she slept 2-7am solid! I felt good in the morning.

The next night was a little easier. I was mostly only up with her 5-6am, and she gave Emil a hard time around 8pm. All other times I gave her a soother and she went right back to sleep. Then last night she woke at 7:30pm so Emil waited 3 minutes and went in. He soothed her back to sleep. She called out again at 9pm but only complained for 2 minutes and went back to sleep. She slept until 6am!! I soothed her back to sleep until 7am. 

The only reason I'm okay with a bit of crying is because she is really only protesting and not wailing. At this point she can't say 'mama' either which I think would be really hard on me. The doula had plenty of anecdotes and advice which all swayed me towards letting her cry for short periods. Far too many pros to write about here but if anyone wants, I can make a list and email it to you. 

I'm hoping she starts to sleep through the night now. That would be amazing. No matter what, I've realized that she really doesn't need to eat at night so that means I can meet up with friends in the evening again or go to basketball. That, and I've had 3 straight nights of better sleep. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Poor Man's Rattle

If you're in line at the supermarket with a fussy baby, and without a toy, grab a Smarties box. It makes a great rattle.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Solids - sigh

Petra's first meal was supposed to be today but it really turned into just another taste. She wasn't really into it. She would take a little in her mouth, work it around and sometimes spit it out. Funny baby.

Happy Hallowe'en

We had a lot of fun yesterday. I took Petra to a local photographer's studio who was hosting a food drive. For a donation to the food bank, you got a free 5x7 photo of your child in the "pumpkin patch". It was really cute and I'm hoping we can make it an annual tradition. I can't get over how cool my neighbourhood is sometimes.