Monday, January 31, 2011

Still waiting...

Feeling just a little like this.

I am currently a congested mess of impatient hormones. Whilst waiting for this pokey, and apparently comfy, baby to arrive, I have come down with a truly glorious head cold, that, because I am pregnant, I can take absolutely nothing for. Well, Tylenol, I guess. Whee.

BUT, there was a bright spot in my weekend. My order from clothdiapermom was cheerfully delivered on Saturday evening! I am now the proud owner of a 24 diaper Bummis prefold kit, a Bottoms Up 25 reusable wipe kit, and seven just-too-adorable Happy Heinys Mini OS pocket diapers. I did the prewashes on my prefold diapers right away, and was diapering stuffed animals by Sunday afternoon, just to try and get the hang of it.

Because we did not switch to cloth diapers with Nik until he was over a year old, doing cloth with a new baby will still be a new thing to me. Once baby is born, and I get a routine down, I will be posting again on the prefolds and wipes kits. In the meantime, I will share some links for the interested.

A video from Bummis on how to use prefolds:

A video I found on facebook showing the wipes kit (which is totally a cloth diapering luxury - love it!):

And a link to a great review on the wipes, from a fellow blogger:

Also, stay tuned for photos of my new, stinkin' cute Mini HHs on that pokey baby, should he or she ever decide to make an appearance. ;-)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Everything we don't need

I have an uncle who is known for his unique way of expressing himself. He has a pseudonym for so many things, including his basement, (the bunker), his home (the shack), and his camper (the roll-away shack). One of my favourites among his phrases comes up when you ask him what he and his wife did on their vacation, or over the weekend. His recollection will often include. "Well, first, we went shopping for everything we don't need..."

My aunt is fond of telling people that when she was a girl, getting an apple was a real treat. They were poor prairie people, and often didn't have a working car. Getting into town to shop was difficult, and often the money only covered the basics of flour, rice and soap. There were certainly no credit cards, drive thrus or shopping malls.

Things have changed a lot in sixty years, and at the top of the list seems to be what people think they need. For example, do a search for 'baby needs' on the Internet, and you will probably find something like this:
  • Complete layette (including 5-10 onesies, 5-10 sleepers, socks, hats, footed pants)
  • Diapers and wipes (cloth or disposable), change pad
  • Diaper pail
  • Baby bathtub with baby towel, washcloths, shampoo, lotion and powder
  • Baby thermometer, nose bulb, nail clippers, hairbrush
  • Breast pump, pads, nipple cream and nursing bras or bottles, formula, sterilizer
  • Crib or bassinet, sheets, blankets
  • Car seat (with bunting bag in cold weather)
  • And more - Baby carrier, diaper bag, stroller, monitor, swing, soothers, bibs, mobile, bouncy seat, jolly jumper... The list can go on and on, and all this will be used in the first 6 months of life.
My oldest aunt was born early, and at home. They put her in a dresser drawer by the wood stove. Clothes, blankets and diapers would have been homemade. Everything else, they did without.

I am not pretending that they were so much better off in a drafty homestead on the harsh Canadian prairie than we are now. Certainly, I am not pining for a life with no money, no car and sometimes no food. And I am far from immune to the spirit of materialism! I have plenty of baby gadgets, and still new ones are catching my eye. My mind is full of thoughts like, "I know I have that fitted sling already, but those gorgeous Zolowear ring slings at the local store are on for half-price..." and "the Magic Bullet was great for Nik's baby food, but this Baby Bullet is truly awesome. I wonder if we could afford it..."

Still, I see the appeal of the 'less is more' mentality, and stories about my aunt in the dresser drawer help me to remember how much we already have. With a small family and a modest income, a move toward seeing the store in terms of 'everything we don't need' is a healthy change. I am trying to remember that the benefits of retail therapy are short-lived, while the negative effects can stick around for a long time. If we live beyond our means trying to fulfill the ideals of what we think we need, we will only leave a legacy of debt, and communicate to others that what we value in the end is things over all else. Not exactly what I want on my tombstone.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Oh, my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

I have been procrastinating on the whole pack for the hospital thing. Most pregnancy books recommend doing this at 36 or 37 weeks, but I kept finding reasons to put it off. Part of me knew, I think, that once the bags were packed, I would get really impatient for labour. It is that mental thing: Alright. I'm ready. Let's do this thing.

I am so happy to be heading into this birth without the apprehension I had the first time. Fear of the unknown and fear of losing control dominated my thoughts as I approached my first birth, which ended up being a very difficult experience for me. For a long time, I couldn't even relay my birth story to another without getting a catch in my throat. However, in an unexpected way, working through our miscarriage last February helped me put all the fears and regrets from my first birth behind me, allowing me to approach this birth with the quiet confidence that I will be able to cope with whatever happens.

Packing my bags gave me the opportunity to align my emotional self with my practical self. I mean, feeling ready for birth is huge, and very important. But I am actually practically ready? A positive mental attitude can only get me so far. I still need clean clothes.

When I started researching the lists of what to pack for the hospital, I got a little overwhelmed. Every book and website has different items listed, and most are directed at an American audience, where it is more important to pack your own products, lest you be charged at the hospital for them. It was hard for me to tease out what I would actually need, and what would be a waste of space. Drawing on my memories from my first birth, some good information on what is provided by the LDRP suites in the Canadian hospital where I will be delivering, and the advice in all the lists I had read, I finally came up with the hospital bag list that works for us.

If you are checking out this post for practical reasons:
I say 'hospital bag', but that is really misleading. I ended up packing three bags: one each for mommy, daddy, and baby. You will notice I left some things off the list that many others have, like diapers, or a cd player, for example. That is because I know that these things are available at no cost at my hospital. Always check out what your hospital will provide when making your own list. I also have adjusted my list according to my personal preferences. I won't be bringing a nightgown or tshirt for labour, because I know from my first birth that I will probably only be comfortable naked, and otherwise a hospital gown is fine with me. I will be bringing my own breast pump, because I hated the electric one I had to use at the hospital last time, and I am bringing my yoga mat, too. Your list can reflect your own preferences.

Mom's bag - a medium suitcase
  • Comfort items for during labour. I chose a number of my favourite instrumental relaxation CDs, a yummy lip balm (my lips cracked with all the blowing last time), and my yoga mat (packed separately, in a carry bag). Birth balls and CD players are supplied at my hospital.
  • Information. I have printed several copies of my birth preferences for my labour support team, and have also packed my favourite birth book and a list of ways to help labour progress that I got off of the Dr. Sears website. Having my information along is a comfort measure for me.
  • Maternity bathing suit. This I may not need, but if I don't want to be naked in the whirlpool or shower, now I don't have to be. It is a two-piece tankini, so I can always just wear the top, if that is most comfortable.
  • Food and drink. Last time, I hated my hospital food (especially breakfast), and vending machines get too expensive. I have packed a couple of bottles of water, four cans of apple juice, dried apricots and granola bars.
  • Clothes for in the hospital, after the birth. I chose a very comfy stretch pair of pajamas, my bathrobe, and spa socks. I like to be cozy, and nightgowns are so not me. I also packed a supportive nursing bra.
  • Light diversions. There may be downtime, depending on what happens, and I may be awake when the baby is not. I have packed my knitting, and my Sudoku book, with a pen.
  • Clothes to wear home from the hospital. I chose low-rise maternity jeans, a t shirt and a hoodie. Don't forget socks and underwear.
  • Toiletries. This was the trickiest for me. How do I pack my bathroom routine, when I will still need most things out? Some things, like my shampoo and conditioner, I poured into travel containers, and packed that way. The other things, I cleared a space for in the bathroom, and will pack the day we leave. See below.
When labour begins, it is simple to grab the bottles, toss them in the Ziploc, and throw everything into my suitcase. In the meantime, I can use them from here.

Dad's bag - a carry-on size shoulder bag
  • Comfort and diversion items for Dad. Don't laugh. Birth is tiring and emotional for men, too, and there is a lot of pressure on them to do everything right. In my husband's bag, you can find a bag of his favourite candy, his Nintendo DS, and the book he is reading right now.
  • Swim trunks. These are good to have along in case you want your husband to go into the shower or whirlpool with you.
  • Change of clothes. Let your husband pack this himself. Mine chose a clean shirt, and a change of socks and underwear. Other guys might want more.
  • Address book with phone numbers, and cell phone. I am leaving the responsibility of making the phone calls to him, so I can focus on recovering and getting started on a breastfeeding relationship with baby.
  • Camera, with extra batteries. Talk to your husband about when you would like photos, and when to leave the camera in the bag.
Baby's bag - a large diaper bag
  • Clothes. These are little, so I packed quite a few. If there are any diaper leaks, we are ready. I have onesies, footed pants, and sleepers along. Also, a hat, because my baby will be born in winter.
  • Baby blankets. My hospital has these, but they wash them with such harsh detergents that Nik's newborn skin was reacting to them. This time, I have packed four thin receiving blankets, and a reversible flannel blanket, that is square, and good for swaddling.
  • Baby sling. I have a fitted cotton sling that will be good for nursing and/or kangaroo care after the birth.
  • Breast pump and accessories. I have packed my pump, storage jars, and microwave sterilizing bag (made by Medela). I also included my tube of PureLan, just in case.
  • Car seat. This isn't in the bag, but it is for baby, so I will include it here. The base is installed in the car, and the seat with bunting bag and extra blanket (due to cold weather) will come into the hospital with us.
And so, we are in a waiting game now. I just found out that a cousin with a similar due date to mine headed into her hospital today... My turn could be soon. Time will tell.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just look at him grow...

Nik started preschool this afternoon. It is a one room preschool, with two teachers, and maybe 15 other kids. It is not beautiful, but it is warm and welcoming. Nik was instantly at home.

I wasn't really planning on sending him to preschool until next September, but he started asking about it after hearing that his cousin went, and finding out about it from videos. Then, came the request:

"I want to go to playschool, Mom," he said at bedtime one night.

"Really? Are you sure? You know, moms and dads don't stay at playschool. Moms and dads bring the kids, and the kids stay with the teacher."

"No, I want you to stay, Mom."

"Well, that is not how playschool works. Moms and dads go home, and come back when it is done. Do you still want to go to playschool?"

"Yeah, I want to go to playschool, Mom."

"Mom isn't going to stay."


"Alright," I said, taking a big girl breath, "If you want to go to playschool, I will find a school for you."

And then I did. It came together much faster than I expected. A friend from church with similar values and parenting style recommended a preschool that is less than a ten minute drive from our home. I called, left a message, and the teacher called me back last Friday. She said he could start right away, so we started today. Boom. Done.

My head is spinning, just a bit. For the first time in motherhood do I understand what they mean by 'grow up fast'.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Move over and make room for Baby
He doesn't take very much space...

Yeah, right.

Babies may be small, but they seem to come with an inordinate amount of accessories. I have been doing my best to resist the urge to aquire mass amounts of baby paraphenalia, but you couldn't tell from looking. Car seat. Swing. Baby bathtub. Bouncy seat. Crib. Bassinet. Change pad. Diapers. Baby clothes. Jolly jumper. Mobile.

It seems I had baby stuff squirreled away everywhere. In closets and on shelves in the storage room. At my mom's. At my brother's. Now these possessions are having a raucous reunion in the major living spaces of my home, and we are feeling the growing pains. Ours is not a large home. It was a major exercise in math and measurement to figure out how to best fit a crib, Nik's new big boy bed, and a dresser/change table into Nik's small bedroom. We also found a way to squeeze the swing into the floor plan of our already crowded living room. Every day we get a little closer to being ready for our fourth family member to make an appearance.

Christmas is over, and the decorations are nearly all put away. We told Nik that the baby would be coming after Christmas, and apparently my body was listening to that, too. My Braxton-Hicks contractions are getting stronger and more frequent every day. Baby has settled down hard into my pelvis now, and I am noticing other little signs of prelabour - most of which involve bodily fluids of one kind or another, so I'll spare you the details. ;-) The sense of this pregnancy coming to a close is growing, and with it, a sense of urgency to get ready. My nesting instincts are in full swing. Be warned: If it isn't nailed down, it will be organized.

I needed to get a lot of organizational work done anyways, to make space in Nik's bedroom for a 2nd child, and to make space in the house for new Christmas and birthday gifts. I got started in the office, first.
I put a lot of the shelf toys for younger ages in storage to make room for picture books on the bottom shelf. Nik's new camera has found a home here, and his new jigsaw puzzles as well.

The storage drawers next to his work table were reorganized and updated with newer and more age appropriate supplies. The large bottom drawer still houses his play dough and accessories, but the middle two drawers are dedicated to colouring books and workbooks in one, and stickers and stencils in the other.
The top drawer has writing implements of all kinds: coloured pencils, crayons, markers and bingo dabbers. Then I repurposed a tray from Andrew's paperwork area to hold blank paper. There is green, orange and white out now, but I plan to rotate colours to keep it interesting.

The next major space to tackle was Nik's room. First order of business, a real 'big boy' bed. On our tight budget, it was Jysk to the rescue!
We put the bed exactly where Nik's crib-turned-toddler-bed had been, to try to ease the transition. It left a little bit of space between the foot of the bed and the wall, which turned out to be the perfect space to put the laundry hamper, Nik's library books basket, and a small toybox (which is filled with blocks, small cars and figures).

Turn to your right and you will see...
where we put the crib. It still needs to be converted back into a crib from a toddler bed, but you get the idea. The dresser/change table just barely fits between Nik's bed and the crib, but it does fit, and that was good luck for us. I cleared off the top, and put the change pad back, so when baby arrives, we are pretty much open for business there.

Adding the twin bed didn't leave much room for playthings in Nik's room, so we stole some real estate from the closet for his dress-up clothes (in the large toy box) and some pretend play items: telephone, tools, doctor's kit and cash register.

Making space for baby things in the dresser wasn't too hard. I moved Nik's diapers into a trundle drawer which easily fits under his bed. He only uses a diaper overnight now, so this solution makes good longer term storage, too.

After that, I consolidated Nik's clothes into the two bottom drawers of the dresser, leaving the top drawer ready to be filled with baby sweetness. It was so fun to take the newborn clothes out of storage, and I had a few new things to add, too, thanks to some sales and a baby gift from a coworker.
The side cupboard is only about half full right now with blankets and the baby sling, which leaves space for the new prefold diapers and cloth wipes I have ordered. I'll be so happy when it all comes together.

One last main floor space that needed some work was our living room. We wanted to make space for the baby swing in there, since it was such an awesome place for Baby Nik when we needed hands free to eat dinner. Nik also got a fantastic wooden kitchen set for his birthday, with new accessories, and we wanted him to have a place on the main floor for it. We can't hide all of his toys in the basement!

Here is what we settled on:
Not exactly a formal living room. This is a room that says, "Hi! Welcome! We have kids."

I love Nik's kitchen. It is simple and sturdy, and there is lots of storage space for toy food and dishes.

It is also right near the actual kitchen, and I am hoping that will encourage him to start more imitative and dramatic play soon.

Looking at the these photos of the only clean areas in my house (I had to tidy up for the photos!) makes me feel like I really am making headway with this nesting thing.

Now if only my hospital bag were packed...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Power of one

2010 was a year of improving our eating habits, if only in small increments. One night, my husband and I went to dinner at one of our favourite restaurants. I ordered a salad, and grilled salmon with veggies on Naan bread. Delicious. My husband ordered the fish and chips. I had a cranberry juice and sparkling water. He had a Coke. I was just considering how nutritionally lost he is, when he looked up from his meal, and said, "I think you broke me."

"Not enjoying it?" I asked.

"Not nearly so much as I used to," he replied. Score one for healthy eating.

We got rid of our deep fryer in 2010. It was one simple change, one that was within our reach, and one that made sense for us. There was an adjustment period where we had to start figuring out what we would eat in place of french fries, but we got through it, and now I don't even miss it.

It is tough for me to make one change. Finding motivation to make the one change is not the problem. The problem arises when I think that the one change must immediately become twenty changes, and then one hundred, and then continuing until I have the nutritional habits of a mountain yogi.

I attended a nutrition talk a few months back that supplied me with far more food rules than I had ever before dreamed existed. My inner critic had a heyday, dropping my grade in personal nutrition from C to F-. How could I claim to be interested in nutrition, and live like I was living? If I wasn't willing to cut out white flour, refined sugar and MSG completely, how sincere could I possibly be?

The impulses to begin some major life overhaul started to pull on me again. Seems to be just my way. Is there something worth improving? Better jump in with both feet, and turn your life upside down to accomplish it. No sense doing things halfway.

This is a lifelong pattern. When I was young, my mom would send me into the basement with a simple instruction: "Go straighten up your room." Everything would start out fine. It would continue to be fine until I had to actually put something away. I would open the door to the closet to put away it doesn't matter what, and I would think, "Oh, there is no space for this. If only my closet was organized better." And of course, I always thought it would have to be better organized right now. I would start emptying, sorting, and relabeling, and when my mother would check on my room-cleaning progress 30 minutes later, she would find me knee deep in the contents of my bedroom closet, standing in a much larger mess than the one I had initially been sent to 'straighten'.

Thankfully, I have been introduced to the concept of balance since those closet-emptying days, and am starting to realize that doing something sincerely does not automatically equal making it into my new life's purpose. This is a lesson hard to learn, and easy to forget.

In 2011, I am going to make a greater effort to keep these words in mind during all attempts at improvement:

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
- Edmund Burke

And also, the classic:
A journey of a thousand miles much begin with a single step.

Maybe I will make it my 2011 mantra: Doing a little is not the same as doing nothing. Small changes do add up. Our small changes in eating have added up enough now to see my husband regretting his own junk supper choices. After the restaurant visit, we went to a movie, and together scarfed down movie popcorn, and deliciously devoid of nutrition fountain Coke. It is good exercise for me. It helps me to remember not to chase after perfection. Just progress.
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