Aug 18, 2012

Thomas at One!

My sweet angel, at 7:30 pm one year ago today you came into this world. I have never loved anyone as much as I love you (though your dad is a close second). You are my best guy, and I will love you until the end of time. 

Here are some tid bits about you at one year:

Birth - 8 lbs, 7 ozs (74th percentile)
One Year - 22 lbs, 11 ozs (67th percentile)

Birth - 21 inches (89th percentile)
One Year - 31.75 inches (91st percentile)

You are such a chatter box. Even though you don't speak clearly in English (or any discernible language) yet, you clearly tell us when you're happy, sad, hungry, tired and excited. You say Mama  (mostly when tired) and Dada (when you want to play or are excited to see him), and Neh Neh when you want to nurse. When you're playing, you constantly chat to your toys, and when we're at the grocery store you insist on roaring like a lion (I think you like the big echo). You're an excitable child, and love to scream and express joy.

You love puppies and music. When you hear a tune, you clap your hands, flap your arms and kick your legs. You're even starting to bop up and down in a little dance like way when your favourite songs come on. Daddy loves sharing music with you! When you see a dog, you get very excited!

You hate being in your crib and having your bum changed, and you dislike people feeding you. Aside from that, you're the happiest camper.

You're just not a sleeper. You are so cuddly and we love sleeping with you between us, but you insist on waking up to nurse at night. If we refuse to nurse, you scream until we cave in. You're most certainly a reverse cycled child, but you won't have it any other way. 

Physical Activity
You love doing "activities'. You crawl, cruise and climb. You're not walking yet, but you're so adept at crawling that we're not surprised. As soon as you wake up in the am or from a nap, you climb off the bed and head into the hall to start your day. If mom gets up in the middle of the night, or dad is awake before you in the morning, you've been known to climb off the bed and crawl to meet us in the bathroom. You're a funny critter.

We love you Thomas, and are so happy that you chose us as your family.

Jul 30, 2012

Musings on Having a Second Child

When Thomas was three weeks old, I ended up in the emergency room (for what turned out to be very minor issue), but at the time, I was a bag of stress. Stressed that our baby was spending the night in an emergency room while he slept in his bassinet. Stressed that I was awake ALL NIGHT waiting to see a Doctor, which meant that my sleep deficit was growing, and I knew I couldn't recover with a restful sleep the next night (or even day) because I had a 3 week old to tend to. When I finally was admitted, and saw a nurse, she asked me about Thomas. I gushed, as all new moms would, and she said "I bet you can't imagine having a second child, but let me tell you, as this little guy hits his first birthday you'll forget about the sleepless nights and will start to think about the possibility of having a second child." 

I thought she was nuts. 

I was never having a second child. I was never being pregnant again. I could do another labour (I thought that was the easy part), but the whole production of getting to that point (a three week old) seemed exhausting. I wasn't keen to sign up again, and I have to say I felt the same way until a few weeks ago. 

As Thomas nears his first birthday, he laughs with us at the dinner table. The three of us share a grilled cheese sandwich together while playing on a Saturday evening. Thomas wakes up between us in the morning cooing and clapping his hands. In a way we have never really been before, the three of us are a family. We feel like three individual people, as opposed to two people and a baby. It's been the most remarkable feeling. 

Though we have no plans for a second child in the near future, the possibility is exciting.

Jul 21, 2012

Furniture Stores

As I (somewhat) recently mentioned, now that all the kid-specific nooks of our home are designed, I've started to think about the other parts of our home again after a hiatus on these things for the past few years (I can't believe it's been almost two years since our love it or list it adventure)! I've started online dream shopping for a bigger home in the future, and decided to pull together a list of my favourite resources. Here's where I do my dream window furniture shopping and some of my current lust items:

Major Modern Furniture Retailers
Canadian Vintage Shops
Canadian Modern Furniture Stores
Where do you shop online for furniture? I'm also working on a list of lesser known small shops that sell art and home accessories, which I'm excited to share next week. Image via Apartment Therapy.

Jul 16, 2012

Back to Work Checklist

A few months ago, I started developing an excel spreadsheet (yes, seriously) to manage my back to work transition. I've created several master spreadsheets like this to manage my earnings and savings, household budget, wedding planning and even baby preparations. The file is a work in progress, but includes our childcare schedule, meal planning and even an inventory of work appropriate outfits to choose from. In addition to my excel workbook, here's how I'm managing my back to work transition....

Childcare -- Greg and I both work as policy directors with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which means we're both in our offices at least 40 hours a week, we check our Blackberries in the evenings and on the weekends, we often work through lunch and we occasionally travel for business. This all amounts to the need for reliable, quality childcare. This was one of the first things we secured early this spring. It's a relief to have a childcare arrangement that sees Thomas being cared for by people he knows and in an environment where we are comfortable. He'll be staying with my cousin and her 1 year old. 

Weaning -- I'm in the process of day weaning Thomas from breast milk to whole milk.  We'll continue to nurse in the morning before work, in the evening and throughout the night, but he will take a few sippy cups of milk in the day while I'm at the office. Thomas has never reliably taken a bottle, so for quite awhile I was nervous about how he'd be sustained while I was at work. We started by introducing whole milk in a sippy cup without a valve. This made quite a mess, but was essential in training Thomas to use the cup. He now uses a Nuk sippy cup, which I highly recommend for breastfed babies. 

So once we had milk down pat, it was time for us to try to do something about the fact that Thomas really doesn't consistently eat food. About three weeks ago, Thomas started to refuse to eat any purees. He literally would only eat cheerios and rice crackers. It was as if he was telling us that he wanted to do baby led weaning, so that's what we started. It has been amazing. If your little one hasn't been taking to purees, this might be the solution for you, like it has been for us. We started by giving Thomas toast and waffles, and then moved to fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese. After only one week of consistently using this method, he's feeding himself and showing a far greater interest in food,  and new tastes and textures than ever before. 

My next frontier in the food scene is trying to get him to eat yogurt. I think it would be convenient to send him to his sitter's with yogurt as a snack, but because he thinks it is a puree and I have to feed it to him, he's presently resisting. Greg and I decided to try sharing our morning yogurts with him from now on, in hopes that he will accept because he sees mommy and daddy eating it too.

Meal Planning -- Our childcare arrangement sees us adding to our daily car commute significantly (going from a short 5 minute drive to probably 40 minutes). For this reason, we're a bit nervous about getting a nutritious meal on the table each evening before Thomas' bedtime (between 7 and 8 pm). We're preparing by arming ourselves with the mastery of some basic recipes, acceptance that we'll dine at the Rocket Bakery once a week on our way home and a weekly order from Red House Soups

Wardrobe -- We recently took a two week trip to visit family in Calgary and Vancouver. Prior to leaving, I took an inventory of my closet -- what fit, what needed altering, what could be donated or sold, and what was needed. While on holiday, I took advantage of a wider range of shops to fill in the gaps in my wardrobe. I decided that work dresses (like this one, a recent purchase) were the perfect solution for a working mom - 1 piece that automatically looks polished. What could be more simple in the morning than that? Once home, I tried on all my new (and previously owned) dresses and skirts, and matched them up with sweaters, blazers, jewelery and shoes. I then itemized each outfit and added it to my spreadsheet. The logic is that I can choose an outfit without even needing to think about it each evening for the next morning. I'm hoping this will help avoid the "I have nothing to wear" feeling that often causes me to try on 5 ensembles before settling on one for the office. 

I also refreshed my jewelry collection at a Lia Sophia party, updated some of my outerwear (a new  trench and rain boots) and bought a few new blazers (Zara and Madewell) and a new pair of Friday jeans. Greg and Thomas also kindly gave me a beautiful new bag for back to work as a Mother's Day present. I'm still debating buying a few new pairs of shoes too. Before I head back to work, I also intend to buy a whole season's worth of hose and stockings (the days of running out quickly to the drug store for a pair at 9 pm, are long gone), and some new make up. It might seem silly, but preparing to look professional (once again) after a year of jeans and cardigans has been a huge part of mentally preparing for the change in my daily routine. 

Naps -- This is my huge to-do. I nurse Thomas to sleep for naps, and am thinking he'll still need one nap per day come September. Here's to hoping we can find a peaceful way to teach him to sleep without Mama before then! Any suggestions are very much welcomed! 

Trial Run -- I'm heading to a conference for a few days in late August, when I'm hoping the day weaning and napping without Mom will be solidified (he'll be staying with my mom while I'm at the event). Thomas is also starting to spend some time solo at his sitter's this week, in hopes that the transition to being there is a smooth one (I anticipate it will be, as my cousin has two dogs, and Thomas loves dogs more than anything, so I doubt he'll even notice that neither of his parents are around). 

Any other tips and advice on preparing to go back to work? Image above of me in one of my "itemized" outfits.

May 15, 2012

How to: Help Your Breastfed, Co-Sleeping Baby Sleep Better

Earlier today, I shared this story on the Facebook page of a breastfeeding support group I participate in, and I've received positive feedback so I thought it might be useful to post on my blog  My hope is that other families who co-sleep, nurse to sleep and experience frequent night wakings that are soothed back to sleep only by nursing can gently encourage their little ones to sleep longer. I'm not a medical, sleep or lactation professional - this is simply what has worked for us and I'm sharing it in hopes that it might work for you too.
Given others here have been very helpful in giving me advice on breastfeeding related concerns, I thought I should share how sleeping is going at our house (two wakings last night in ten hours and a similar stretch of nights last week before the onset of the nine month growth spurt) in the event that some of the the things that worked for us might work for some of you too in similar situations (baby waking every two hours or much less looking for a nipple to soothe back to sleep).

Our son sleep regressed from waking once a night at 2:30 am to waking every 30 minutes or less at four months. Slowly he's gotten better (every 45 minutes, every hour, every hour and a half, every two hours and now every three or more hours).

I searched online everywhere, but couldn't find clear advice on how to help a breasfed baby who nurses to sleep and who co-sleeps to sleep better while continuing to nurse to sleep for bed in the first instance and co-sleep. So I spent a lot of time observing him sleep and watching what happened when he woke up. It was clear that he would always stir and move at the end of his sleep cycle, which is the only time he would wake up. So I knew if we wanted him to sleep longer than that, he'd need to be able to stir and then go back to sleep without a nipple in his mouth.

Here's what we did to gently guide him to sleep better:

1. I have always offered the breast upon waking, so I continued to do so because this is his routine. However, I started by unlatching him during the most difficult waking of the night for me (normally the one between 11 pm and midnight) after his sucking had slowed and his eyes were closed. I would always hold him close (which he likes) and say "shhhhh" as I did this. Sometimes he would cry for a few seconds and then go to sleep, other times he seemed to already be asleep and other times he would cry so much I'd need to relatch him. If I relatched him, I let him suck until he fell off the breast. I think this helped him be able to sleep since he was drowsy but not fully asleep and gained confidence in his ability to fall asleep on his own.

2. My husband would take a shift at night during one or more of the wakings most nights. He'd walk, pick him up, sing etc. (whatever he had to do) to get our guy back to sleep. If he wasn't asleep within 30 minutes or he didn't stop crying, I stepped in and nursed him back to sleep. But he most definitely learned through this process that he could fall asleep with Dad. This was helpful since he now often rolls over to Dad for a back rub (see how we started to include this in the night routine below) at night when he wakes or stirs.

3. I combined nursing at night with a gentle head rub (which I found calming for both of us) or back rub. This way the gentle head rub or back rub became part of the falling back to sleep routine, and we could then (many times) use this to put him back to sleep without needing to nurse. We did the same thing with lullabies, so they became a way to put him to sleep as well.

4. I always fed him if it had been three hours or more since his last feeding (the typical amount of time he goes between feeding during the day). I also saw he slept longer when I nursed him on both sides. So I started to unlatch, roll him over my chest and relatch him on the other side after about 15 minutes. The rolling across the body woke him just enough for him to feed a little more. This has helped avoid frequent wakings due to hunger.

As we more frequently put him back to sleep with a little back rub or song, we saw he was sleeping longer. I think this is because those activities required a greater ability on his part to fall asleep on his own. Last night, I watched him for more than three hours. He sat up a number of times, rolled over etc. but each time he went right back into a deep sleep without calling for me. It was amazing. In January I never thought we'd get there. I hope some of these tips help.

May 11, 2012


I haven't posted about home decor in such a long time (I've kind of missed it!). With all baby related decor squared away, I'm back to thinking about the other 90% of our house. I love this apartment, which just won a contest for small spaces on Apartment Therapy

May 9, 2012

Maternity Leave Bucket List

As of today, I have 118 days of maternity leave left, which seems like a lot and a little at the same time. In thinking about the (hopefully!) beautiful summer ahead of us, here's a list of everything I want to do before returning to the office to make sure I make the most of every moment with Thomas. 
  • Spend hours each day cuddling, reading books and singing silly songs
  • Go outside every day, even if it's just for 15 minutes under our covered deck to watch rain clouds
  • Meet up with Greg at one of our many neighbourhood parks for a swing ride after work
  • Walk each of the trails in the Grand Concourse system
  • Visit Lester's Farm Petting Zoo
  • Enjoy lots of picnic and park playdates at Pippy Park, Bowring Park and Bannerman Park
  • Walk the trail at Salmonier Nature Park
  • Enjoy a bedtime story time at Marjorie Mews Library
  • Visit Topsail and Middle Cove Beaches
  • Have lunch at Lighthouse Picnics
  • Visit the MUN Botanical Gardens 
 Any other suggestions? xo