Monday, April 13, 2009

Baby's Turning 1!

Petra is turning one soon!

I'm not going to say, "I can't believe it's been a year already", or "wow, she's so big now", or any of that but I will say this: I can't believe what a difference a year makes.

I read the books, I had a baby sister, I had been a babysitter, I had friends who had babies and I thought I was ready but I wasn't even close to ready but
I'm so glad for the experience.

I'm so glad to have such a sweet baby but man - what a year. And to all my friends and relatives who are nodding their heads and saying, "I told you so"... I doubt that you had any idea when it hit you either. Oh and ps. I'm already that person, nodding politely when a pregnant woman tells me she's ready for the baby and I'm thinking - girl you don't have a clue.

If they say that a baby is your prize for labour and delivery, then a one-year old is definitely your prize for a confusing/frustrating/exhausting/humbling year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Highway of Heroes

Yesterday I was driving home, dancing to the music on the radio (because it's a great way to unwind at the end of the day) and I noticed a collection of about 20 people overhead waving at the passing cars and carrying flags. I remembered that some Canadian soldiers had died recently and realized they must be coming home.

I couldn't stop thinking about them 'coming home' and how it wasn't the homecoming their family dreamt of, it kept playing in my head and then at the next overpass there was a collection of people, and again at the next overpass. Suddenly I couldn't stop crying. 

I don't personally know anyone serving overseas right now but I started thinking about these soldiers' families, my own family, and I was overwhelmed. I think it's because I'm a mom. I never really thought about my own mortality until I was a mom. 

Anyone else noticing more than wrinkles with age? Anyone been struck by the feeling that we won't live forever?

Momma Tip

I don't know if you'll find this good or gross but... my hairstylist suggested that I style my hair with mousse in the morning to get an extra day out of a washing. Since mousse has alcohol, it absorbs your hair oil and it won't look greasy. Great for a working mom.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Menu Planning

I've always loosely planned our weekly meals and enjoyed the flexibility of grabbing groceries anytime or ordering as a back up plan. Now that I'm back at work grocery shopping time is very limited and since Petra is eating real food, I actually have to have real food ready for her. 

Since I've been back to work, I've created a new normal. During the week I rush out of the office to pick my daughter up, get her home for dinner/bath/bed, and that's it - there isn't time for shopping or even a stop at the gas station. 

Last week was a struggle of putting together awful meals from the fridge. By Friday I had decided it was time to formalize a meal plan. I started by writing down a list of our favourite meals, then I made a shopping list, then I checked an online flyer for deals, and then did the shopping. I know it's really simple but it's new to me and I think it'll work for us. The beauty of a meal plan is that I also know what prep to do the night before if necessary. 

Am I really late in this whole menu planning thing? Are you all doing it already?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shame on Me

I'm the mom who went on maternity leave, started a blog, and then abandoned her blogger responsibilities and I apologize for that.

About a month ago, I took a new position at a large telecommunications company. I finally started on Monday. The transition from mom-on-leave leading a life of leisure to a working mom has been interesting. I didn't want to write about it while I was experiencing it because I was a mess of emotion. I'm not saying I'm behind it but I do have better perspective today. 

I'm lucky to have an excellent support network around me. My sister-in-law helped on the first day by picking Petra up at the end of the day, and offering to take her every single Monday. And our childcare provider is fantastic, sending me daily reports and pictures of the baby's day. And my husband is handling all drop offs. 

I went back early (during the 10th month of a potential 52 week leave) and I'm definitely feeling some guilt about that. Petra is finally, after four days, looking like she's adjusting to the first major change of her life. I needed to go back to work. I love working, always have, it's fundamental to the kind of person that I am and I didn't want to return to my previous employer. The one major surprise was the way I started to lash out at the job when things weren't going smoothly. I started to think the job wasn't worth making Petra so upset. Now that she's better, I feel entitled to enjoy working again. I know this is just the first tug in a longer battle that I'll constantly face as a momma but I feel like I've leapt a large hurdle this week. 

Anyone else working through going back early? Or feelings you didn't expect?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm...

My old boss at Ryerson posted this link on facebook. I couldn't believe what I was reading, but then thought about the world in general, and thought, "okay, I could see people being ridiculously ridiculous like this". 

What do you think about it?

Cooking Resources

I have a few trusted cooking resources. Three are cookbook and one is a website. I check these when I'm meal planning, party planning, recipe testing, and when I'm trying to decide what to bring to a potluck lunch.

The cookbooks are: 
Friday Night Dinners - Bonnie Stern
The Joy of Cooking - Irma S. Rombauer

And the website is, although I do use epicurious and allrecipes sometimes too. Do you have a favourite, couldn't-live-without-it cooking or baking resource?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Feeding Baby

I know this subject is voraciously discussed in other places but I still want to add to the fodder.

Petra started eating food just before she was six months old, since she took a keen interest in food and eating (she would literally chew her tongue when I was preparing dinner), we decided to give her bites of banana or avocado or whatever. Then when she was six months old, we started her on vegetable and fruit purees. About a month or two into it, we really hit our stride, I was introducing new foods and she was eating all of it (except her first try of anything for some reason would be a dud).

Suddenly it's a chore to feed her. She will try something the first time and generally lose interest - spitting it out, trying to whack the spoon out of the air, or dropping everything on the floor. She insists on finger food or holding the spoon for herself with purees. I'm inclined to appease her since it's her body but some days I feel like all she eats is toast. 

Now I have just two weeks left on my leave and I'm worried that if she isn't nursing during the day that she may not be getting all she needs. Have any of you supplemented with goat's milk, juices or anything else before a year?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beta Blockers

I think the beta blockers are really working. Aside from the awful tummy aches they give me, that I'm hoping get better over time, they have made a real difference. My energy level is way up, I'm less irritable and I'm not constantly overheated. I'll go for a follow-up in the next few weeks and we'll see if my levels are up.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


We're starting to think about where Petra will stay during the day when I go back to work in less than three months. I didn't sign up on a daycare waiting list while pregnant like I was supposed to. There are very few that take babies between the ages of 12 and 18 months and it's hard to get them to call you back, the demand for spots in this area is unreal. 

So our options are:
1. Homecare. An agency provided three options for us but all were at least a drive away and none were within walking distance. 
2. Daycare. A brand spanking new daycare is opening nearby but they are asking a whooping $1760 per month and they've already pushed their opening date out by a month. 
3. Friends and family.

Obviously it's great when you can leave your children with a trusted friend or family member but very few of us have that luxury. I could stay home but that's not what I want. My ideal childcare scenario: Petra is somewhere safe where she can just play and have fun all day long. All that for $50/day. Is it possible in my neighbourhood?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Postpartum Thyroid

If I say thyroid problem, Graves' disease, or Hashimotos, do you say huh? I did and still do.

Aside from understanding that the thyroid is hormonal and controls the body's metabolism, I really didn't know anything else and I couldn't recognize the symptoms beyond weight gain or loss. 

At my physical last week my doctor asked how I was feeling, I mentioned my dramatic weight loss (70 pounds in nine months) and how tired I've been feeling. She decided to check my thyroid and now I'm in the second round of blood work because my TSH came back low.

I won't know the results until Monday so I thought I should do some Google research in the meantime. I found that hyper/hypo-thyroidism is very common in postpartum women. In fact a lot of women bounce back and fourth between hyper/hypo and eventually level out in a few months. This article says that 10% of women develop an ongoing thyroid problem. I also found out that an unregulated thyroid can impede fertility and breastfeeding

It's a lot more common than I thought and, when unregulated, is really serious. If you are postpartum and haven't had your proper physical yet - book it, and ask your doctor to check your thyroid.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dear Sleep, I would like you to come for a visit.

Sleep is like sex. You only want to talk about it when it's good or you aren't getting any. 

I don't want to seem like a complainer but I am just completely, utterly, absolutely exhausted. I still function like a regular human being for most of the day, aside from a desperate tug to nap between two and three every afternoon, but I'm in shambles by the end of the day and I dread night time.

I just wonder how many other babies do this (because I must be the only one suffering like this right?). She's nine months old and she'll wake, on average, 4-8 times each night. Sometimes my husband can soothe her back to sleep, as he did just ten minutes ago, but usually she wants to nurse. I can no longer attribute the wakings to being away from home or a cold or teething because it has become our new normal, we're going into our third month of consecutive sleepless nights.  

My biggest problem is that I haven't scaled back commitments. I'm not taking time for myself to relax and recoup during the day. I don't, and my husband certainly doesn't, understand why I can't give myself a break. I think it's because I desperately want to feel normal. I'm hanging onto my preconceived notions that my life would be normalizing at this point. I feel entitled to enjoy my maternity leave and visit my friends, go for walks, go shopping or swimming or whatever. 

Trusty Google is failing me, I can't seem to find anything useful on the world wide web. Help mommas, help. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daring Bakers January Challenge

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

For our January challenge we were tasked to pair the tuiles with something light and fruity. At first, I thought I would use ice cream or some kind of pipped mousse but ultimately decided to do something completely different. I decided fairly early on that I wanted to do a signature cocktail and use the tuiles decoratively but had trouble deciding how it would work. I knew a lot of couples who were engaged over the holidays and thought it would be nice to do a drink/bonbonierre but still didn't have a great idea. 

In the end I did fortune cookies paired with Sparkling Green Tea and Lychee Sangria. I'd like to say "Happy Fat Choi" because the project is Asian inspired and I put it together on Chinese New Year. 

The sangria is lovely, it's from Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners (of course). It calls for Prosecco in place of regular wine, making it bubbly and refreshing. The women in my stroller group who were over that afternoon raved about it. 

The fortunes inside the tuiles are all based on the Ox's characteristics: put in hard work, be patient, beware of herd instinct, be methodical, and know your duty. All are derived from an AsiaOne article.

I found the tuiles batter a bit difficult to spread to make the large circles I needed for the fortune cookies so I cheated and thinned it out a little with vegetable oil. I needed to pat the cookies dry at the end but they turned out as I wanted them to.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Here we are again, talking about vaccinations. Today I took Petra for her six month vax at nine months. She was absolutely, perfectly, mercifully fine afterwards. She didn't sleep for an extra spell, she didn't run a fever, she wasn't grumpy, it was business as usual in baby land. 

I felt like a dolt getting ready though. I couldn't remember if it was best to dress her in two pieces, in a onesie and pants, or in a sleeper, my brain was just not cooperating. It's amazing how three maternity-leave-months can feel like two weeks or they can feel like a year. I felt like I had never taken her to the doctor before. I didn't know where to park or how early to leave. 

The truth is there is no good way to do vaccinations. If you think you've figured it out for one visit, it'll change for the next because babies change so much. I like the way the books and websites suggest avoiding nap times as if I would know three months in advance what Petra's nap schedule is going to be like. 

My approach is survival. I dress her as minimally as possible based on the weather, I double check with the doctor that everything else is done before we poke her, I bring her soother to keep her still for a moment or two during the prick, and I try to remain calm.

Oh and apparently my big girl is not that big. She's just shy of 90th percentile for height and slightly lower than 75th for weight.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday Night Dinners - Three Weeks In

Three weeks into our Friday Night Dinners Initiative, I'm calling it a success. We started with a proper friday night for the first one and we've been compromising ever since for friends, like us, with kids or for those who live further away. So while they aren't technically fridays, I'm sticking to the premise of Bonnie Stern's book and keeping the meals very simple.

It's amazing how after a few days of cooking for people - all the stress of hosting just melts away. I still have a little hesitation about when to start cooking and how long after arrival of guests the meal should be served and how often to offer drinks or what to have on hand to offer but I'm getting a lot more comfortable.

I want to get to the point where it's absolutely effortless. I want people who come to my house to feel totally comfortable, enjoy a great meal, and want to come back. Having a house full of people is really good for Petra too, she's so vibrant and excited when other people, children especially, are around. Friday night dinners are becoming something that we really love and can build family tradition around.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nail Polish

Granted it's off-colour to follow such a serious post with an utterly frivolous one but I'm doing it anyway. 

There are two nail polish colours that I use regularly at home, both are by Revlon. One is Vixen - a rich, dark, burgundy hue that makes me feel chic and hip when I wear it. The other is Sheer Blush which looks like a french manicure if you don't glop it on; it's simple and elegant and suits any occasion - including job interviews. I like Revlon brand because its consistency stays consistent over time, it's affordable, and it's relatively durable. 

Most salons offer OPI brand nail colour when you get a manicure. I like the wide colour selection of OPI, Bubble Bath is my pick, but if you don't use it up quickly at home, they turn either lumpy or runny and neither is a desirable characteristic in nail polish. 

What's your favourite varnish and why?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Part-time Job

In early December I talked about my possible need to find a new job but now the issue is even more pressing. A kind anonymous commenter broke it to me that I could in fact be laid off during my maternity leave. I was recently made aware that it's even worse to be laid off at the end of your maternity leave. 

A friend of mine was laid off upon her return to work after a full year of maternity leave. Here was my assumption about that kind of scenario -  if you return to work and find out you're laid off, you would just go on EI. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

She found out that she had maxed out her EI benefit during maternity leave and didn't work the required 600+ hours in order to qualify. The person she called at Service Canada suggested that a lot of people work during their maternity leave and so that's how they come up with the hours. 

I think this is the worst case scenario. You've lost your job and you aren't entitled to an EI benefit. Here's why I made the assumption, for all intents and purposes you are employed during your maternity leave; your vacation accrues and so does your seniority. It just doesn't seem right that the government is not required to provide you with the same privilege that your employer must. 

Now I feel like I'm going to be rushed back because I'm going to start my job hunt early. I'm certainly in no position to get a part-time job, how could it possibly balance out the expense of childcare?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

$2 Dream

When the 649 jackpot is really high I like to buy a ticket. It's kind of silly that I buy a ticket when my chances are (even) lower than usual but it's something I like to do. Since I buy them so infrequently, I always think about what I would do with the money once the ticket is in my hand.

Here's my plan: take care of family first then travel the world with my husband and daughter. Then I would start thinking about where to live and what to invest in.

What would you do with $14 million dollars?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


One thing I loved about maternity clothes were the elastic waistbands, I didn't realize how much I liked them until I had to use a zipper again once Petra was born. I've been progressively losing weight since then and now my pre-pregnancy jeans are so baggy that I don't have to undo them to take them off, if I take my belt off, they just fall off. They look sloppy and messy. I went shopping today for new jeans but I didn't want to spend too much in case I lose or gain more weight over the next few months.

I was looking for something nice but still affordable. I bought 2 pairs of Buffalo jeans and I think they're awesome. What's your favourite brand of denim?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snow Shoveling Etiquette

When you live in a semi, sharing a wall with one neighbour and driveway with another, what etiquette should you practice when shoveling?

On one side I share a drive with my fabulous retired neighbours, Gabby and Ed. Since my car doesn't fit between the houses, we only use the drive to walk our recycling and garbage bins. Gaby and Ed have a private parking pad off the drive within their yard. 

On the other side, there is a young married couple. Our yards are split by a garden in the middle with no clear demarkation, no tree or power pole, of where our property ends and theirs begins. 

Each time I head out to shovel, I'm never really sure about where I should stop. I usually do our walk right past any clear middle point to our shared wall neighbour and then the walk behind the full shared drive, including the retired neighbour's private drive. 

I don't mind doing extra to either side, our neighbours are really good to us. We share a garden, including planting and weeding with one side, and the others bring us fresh produce from their garden in the summer and took care of our shoveling while we were gone for two weeks. 

Does shoveling really aggravate you? Do you feel like your neighbours don't do their fair share? Or does your partner take care of it? Or do you think your partner doesn't do their fair share? 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Night Feedings

I'm starting to rethink Petra's night feedings. When she was 6 months old, I started weaning her from feeding at night based on some advice from a sleep doula. At the time I was just cooked, my brain was mushy and I was a zombie during the day. She started to sleep through the night and I thought I had it made.

We just got home from visiting my family in Edmonton and while we were there Petra was constantly waking up during the night. When we're away I nurse her during the night for two reasons: to keep her from waking up the whole house and to comfort her. I noticed that she had a major growth spurt while we were there and I think it's partially attributable to all her night feedings.

I'm going to continue nursing her when she wakes up at night until I'm too tired to handle it any more. Should I really be dictating to her when she should be hungry? It's too bad because my opinion was so clear about it a month ago. I was sure she was just manipulating me and that I needed to cut her off and now I face a conundrum.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Little Biter

Biting, pinching, hair pulling, and eye poking have all become part of our everyday lives. Petra's pretty good with hair pulling, if I say, "let go, let go, let goooo", she usually will. Her approach to eye poking is a little more subtle though. If you see her coming and you close your eyes, she'll gently flick your eyelashes around and start trying to gouge your eye ball out. It's actually pretty cute.

Biting is something I can't handle. I've been told that I deserve it because I was a biter. I can remember very clearly getting this feeling/urge and I would just bite. It wasn't because I was mad, it just happened. One day my babysitter bit me after I bit her son and that was it, I didn't bite after that.

Petra bit me for the first time about a month and a half ago, a few weeks after she cut her teeth. She had gummed me a few times before and that hurt but it can't be compared to teeth biting - it's so much scarier with teeth. 

I thought I was prepared for that first bite. I read the advice on Baby Centre about how to handle it, but when it actually happened, she took me completely by surprise. I had the presence of mind to break the latch and tell her "no", she complained a little and I put her back on. For the rest of that feeding, I couldn't stop laughing because I was so nervous she would do it again. 

Since then, she has gotten me twice while nursing and a couple of times just when we're hanging out. She uses a distraction, she pinches me really hard on the neck on my right and then bites my left shoulder. If it didn't hurt, I imagine it would be really funny. I usually yelp and obviously she startles and sometimes she laughs. I'm hoping this little habit passes and that she doesn't start biting other people or kids.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 Resolutions

I haven't ever been big on New Year's Resolutions; I tend to make resolutions as the year goes, like finding a moms group (I found a great one), or making my daughter laugh every day (it's one of her favourite things to do), or committing to writing on my blog regularly. 

This year, in my Christmas stocking, was a copy of Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners. The premise is that having Friday night dinner with friends and family is the perfect way to say goodbye to the week and start the weekend. She writes "Friday night dinner means different things to different people, but to anyone who is Jewish, it means a special family dinner to celebrate the end of the work week and to welcome Shabbat, the day of rest. It is a wonderful tradition that everyone can enjoy."

I've always thought of Friday night as the perfect take-out night after a long week of cooking meals but the book is so absolutely appealing, I'm changing my mind. The beauty of Friday night is that it can be casual and without pressure. I have been looking to appropriate traditions for our little family of three and this one is perfect. So I resolve to begin hosting Friday night dinners in 2009.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


When Petra was first born, I felt like I didn't have time to floss my teeth let alone slap some mascara on. I can clearly remember the first post-baby time that I put mascara on, someone was coming over to meet her and I felt victorious. Since then I really haven't used it, I usually use moisturizer and that's all. Unless we're going to a wedding, I just don't bother.

Now that Petra is older and more settled, I can definitely take time to look pretty - I just don't. My massage therapist said you should use makeup everyday because it shows that you're taking care of yourself. I don't know if I believe that.

I'm a big fan of natural beauty but mine is not what it used to be. Dr. Oz's work in this field is interesting. He believes that if you are literally taking care of yourself - by eating nutritiously, sleeping properly, and protecting yourself from the sun, you will look beautiful. Maybe if I could patch together a couple full nights sleep, my skin would look fantastic, or at least the dark circles would fade. He also says I can expect my first wrinkle for my 30th birthday. Awesome.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Booster Seat

Petra is going to be starting on finger foods soon which means we'll need a tray for her when we're not eating at home. Any recommendations for booster seats? Or recommendations for first finger foods?