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Month: February 2017

28 things I learned while writing 28 posts in 28 days

28 things I learned while writing 28 posts in 28 days

IMG_9726.JPGOn February 1, I wrote my first ever blog post and set out to write a daily post for the remainder of the month.  I am proud to have accomplished that goal and to be writing this, my 28th blog post on February 28.  As a first time writer, the learning curve was steep and I know that I still have so much more to gain than to share.  Nevertheless, for anyone else considering such a feat, below is a glimpse at 28 things I learned while writing 28 posts in 28 days.

1. Know your why. Above all else, be prepared to answer this question time and time again: why are you writing everyday?  Most often it will be other people doing the asking but once in a while, usually while starting at a blank computer screen, you will ask yourself the same thing.  Know the reasons why you’ve set out on this path and let those reasons motivate and encourage you along the way.

2. Set yourself a goal.  Leading up to my first post, I was struggling with how to get started.  Finally, I gave myself a start date and the goal of writing 28 posts in 28 days and was off to the races!

3. Plan ahead.  Sometimes I would get overwhelmed by the idea of writing every day and not having enough quality content.  It was a great relief to have a list with dates and blog topics written out for the next few days.

4. Write about what you know and what you love.  They say it’s easy to tell the truth and the same applies for writing.  When you write from a place of experience, the words flow much more freely.

5. Just start writing.  If you’re finding yourself staring at a blank screen, remove the pressure of having to start at the beginning and just start writing bits and pieces of what’s on your mind about the topic.  Slowly but surely, you’ll start to see your post coming together.

6. Write in batches when you can.  Relieving the pressure of writing one day in advance makes the writing process much more enjoyable.  Furthermore, when a post I was working on didn’t go as planned, it was a huge help to have a “filler” post ready to buy myself some time.

7. Write posts in a series or with a theme.  This was mutually beneficial for me and the reader.  It kept me from writing marathon posts on topics that I’m excited about (product reviews and baby wearing) and the reader is more likely to enjoy the full post when it doesn’t take them all day to read it.

8. Remove all distractions when writing.  On the days that this was particularly difficult, I would turn off my phone and the wifi on my computer so that I had nothing left to do but stay focused on what I was writing.  Writing without distractions is faster and results in a higher quality end result.

9. Write during your alone time.  I quickly realized that there is a long list of tasks that I can accomplish while chatting or parenting but writing is not one of them.  Nowadays, anytime I find myself alone, I write.  Laundry, cooking, cleaning etc. can all be done with my family buzzing around.

10. Set aside time to write.  With that said ^^, as a wife and mom to a 2.5 year old and 6 month old, alone time doesn’t spontaneously happen very often.  I have learned to set aside specific time in my day to sit down and write – it’s more efficient and a load off my mind knowing that my post is done.

11. Get to the point.  This was one of the first learning curves for me.  I am chatty by nature and enjoy writing in great detail.  I still find myself reading over my drafts and deleting full sentences that aren’t necessary.

12. Proofread.  I still can’t believe how often I find mistakes in my drafts on the third or fourth time reading it through.  Leave yourself time to review!

13.  Ask for help.  My family has been invaluable in this process of writing my first 28 posts in 28 days.  They have listened, proofread, offered suggestions and encouraged me along the way.  Fresh eyes and ears go a long way!

14. Read it out loud.  Whether it’s to yourself or to someone else, reading your draft out loud is an integral part of the proofreading process.  It allows you to step into your reader’s shoes and ensure that everything flows as you intended.

15. Take lots of pictures.  We all know the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’  Adding pictures to your post makes it enjoyable for your reader but also helps to illustrate your topic without having to write it out word for word.

16. Be picky.  My favourite posts are the one’s that I took the time to read over with a fine tooth comb.

17. Share your posts.  It’s hard work to write a daily post!  Use various social media platforms to let your readers know that new content is up on your blog.  Be sure to include a link to your site with your post.

18. Ask your friends and family for patience.  Writing a daily post isn’t easy and requires a lot of alone time.  Let your friends and family know what you’re working towards and ask for a little extra patience during your stretch of daily posts.

19. Take a break when you need it.  After all, this is something you’re choosing to do and should be fun!  Take a break when you need it and your draft will be waiting for you when you’re ready to write again.

20. Make notes all the time.  Writing a daily post requires a large amount of high quality content.  As soon as a concept or a sentence crosses your mind that would be a good fit for a current or future post, make a note of it for reference.

21. See the big picture.  Writing a daily post can be daunting.  Take a step back to look at the content you’ve already published and relish in the big picture of your ‘why.’

22. Partner with other people.  One of my first posts was a product review and giveaway with a friend at Gooseandco Boutique!  It was so much fun to write about and we were able to cross promote.

23. Hemmed and hawed.  Just a fun fact we learned while proof reading!  We all thought it was “hummed and hawed” but the correct spelling is “hemmed.”  The things you learn!

24. Save your work.  There is nothing worse than having to re-write.  Learn from one of my first mistakes and save your work regularly.

25. Work hard.  Making a commitment to write a daily post is a lot of work.  Be prepared to work hard to achieve your goal!

26. Keep yourself accountable.  So far, writing this blog has been a bit of a lonely endeavour.  I know the time will come where I can write more efficiently and collaborate with other bloggers but for my first 28 posts, it was a lot of me holding myself accountable to my goal – especially when it was 11pm and all I wanted to do was go to bed but tomorrow’s post wasn’t quite ready. #justdoit

27. Cut yourself some slack.  I assure you that the success of your blog will not hinge on one post.  Holding yourself to a high standard is a great practice but perfection is unrealistic.  If something isn’t coming together quite the way you envisioned, it’s ok!  Complete the post to the best of your ability and move on to the next one.

28. Enjoy what you’re doing.  It thrills me to say that at the end of writing 28 posts in 28 days, I still find great joy in sitting down to write.

The next goal for me at Reckies Raising Kids is to spend some time learning from others.  I will be writing on a regular basis throughout the week but also devoting some time to connect with bloggers writing on similar topics.  Comment below if you’re setting a goal for yourself in the month of March!

 

Babywearing: sweater and coat

Babywearing: sweater and coat

The final post in my baby wearing series (for now) talks about outer layers to wear with baby.  I wore Clyde a lot in his first two years but always made it work without specific “baby wearing clothes.”  The Kangaroo sweater was something that I bought for myself when Jude was just a few weeks old and I quickly realized what I had been missing.  Keeping Jude dressed in plain clothes to go outside in a wrap or a carrier is not only one less thing to do getting out the door but it makes for a better fit for him in the wrap or carrier.  More specific information below!

Baby wearing sweater: I own the Kangaroo baby wearing sweater purchased from Belly Laughs and I can’t rave about it enough.  This sweater can be worn with baby on your front or on your back.  It is a Polyester/Rayon blend and the perfect weight for an extra layer year round.  I typically wear a size small and find this sweater to fit true to size.  I have even been able to wear it with a wrap and soft shell coat underneath with no issues.

Things to consider:  There are a few other brands you can look at including the Boba sweater or the Lenny Lamb fleece to name a few.  The only feedback that I’ve heard is that the cowl neck on the Lenny Lamb is too much fabric but I haven’t tried it myself.

Verdict:  The Kangaroo sweater has met all of my needs and then some.  If you’re wearing regularly outside, I would highly recommend choosing an outer layer that you like!

M Coat:  The M Coat is a Canadian made down-filled 3-in-1 winter coat that can be worn on its own, while pregnant or baby wearing.  I got this as a Christmas present after Jude was born so I can only speak to option 1 and 3 but I have nothing but good things to say.  I set an alert for myself on Kijiji for this coat and picked up this red one for $150!  Considering they sell new for $400+, this was a steal.  I bought it in a Medium and it fits well.  The belt ties nicely at the waist to help keep some shape when not wearing baby.  The coat also comes with a panel insert that zips in to accommodate a baby bump or a baby in carrier.  It is very warm and well made.  I dress Jude in plain clothes and wrap him with a wool wrap under this jacket and he is toasty warm when we come in.

Things to consider:  If I’m still wearing Jude a lot next fall/winter, I will upgrade to something that does back carries as well.  Likely a soft shell like this.  Having a front-only option was fine for his first winter because I often needed to shelter him from the wind anyway but having him on my back is a better vantage point for him and leaves me more hands free.  You can also shop for a coat extender like this if you already have a coat that you like!

Verdict:  A really great option for a warm and practical winter coat!  I would highly recommend watching for one second hand and shopping the $150-$200 price range.

That’s a wrap (pardon the pun) on baby wearing information for now.  In case you missed, read about my baby wearing journey here or reviews and buying guides for soft structured carriers here and wraps and ring slings here.  Please comment with questions or requests if there’s anything that’s on your mind.  I’m always happy to talk about wraps and carriers!

Baby wearing is such a short journey but one of the most fulfilling experiences I’m sharing with my boys.

Whatever your journey – enjoy the snuggles and #wearallthebabies!

Babywearing: Wraps & Ring slings

Babywearing: Wraps & Ring slings

Jude is my snuggle bug wrap baby.  With the exception of using the Moby wrap on our trip with Clyde, I had never used a woven wrap before but I knew it was something that I wanted to try with Jude.  Below are my thoughts on a few wraps that we’ve tried.  A reminder that no carrier is best for everyone and trying a few options with baby is truly the best way to find what’s most comfortable.  Check out some other tips for a great baby wearing experience, here!

Moby (Stretchy wrap):  I borrowed a Moby wrap from a friend to travel Vancouver when Clyde was three months old.  A Moby wrap is a long piece of stretchy fabric intended to carry small babies.  There are lots of similar brands including Solly Baby and Boba.  Our trip to Vancouver was my first time wearing Clyde in a wrap and I really enjoyed it.  It was great to travel with because it folded nicely into my bag and doubled as a blanket to lay him on or lay over him.  It’s machine washable making it very easy to care for!  Since stretchy wraps aren’t intended to be worn for a long time, they are highly available second hand.

Things to consider:  These stretchy wraps are intended for newborns and small babies.    They are amazing for the first few weeks and months so that baby can stay close to Mom.  Clyde was a big baby at 3mo and by the time we came home from our trip, my shoulders were really sore from wearing him.  Looking back at pictures, that was probably also due to my poor wrapping technique but we all need to start somewhere!

Verdict: A definite yes in my books!  This is the perfect option for a new baby at home.  It also buys you some time to go with baby to a store and try on some carriers to see what will be a good fit for a longer term option.

Ring Sling: A ring sling is a piece of fabric roughly 2m in length with two rings sewn into one end.  The opposite end of the fabric threads through the rings to create a pocket for your baby.  My ring sling lives in my purse and I use it almost everyday.  It is a really quick option for a cranky baby if you’re out somewhere or to use for errands.

Things to consider: Prices range from $50-$200 and beyond.  The main difference in pricing is the type of fabric used and in turn how soft and supportive it is.  You can buy a ring sling already made in varying lengths or you can buy a woven wrap and have it converted by a local converter.  To some extent, you will get what you pay for with respect to support, ease of use and comfort but as with anything, there is a happy medium.  Ring slings also come in a variety of shoulder styles – information on that here.  As with soft structured carriers, try a few different types before buying.

Verdict:  If I had only two options for carriers, it would likely be a Tula and a good ring sling.

Woven Wrap: A woven wrap is a piece of fabric ranging from 2m-5m+ intended to carry your baby through a variety of front, side or back carries.  With the exception of a brief stint with the Moby wrap, this style of carrying was new to me for Jude.  When he was born, Clyde was just two years old and I had this vision of myself wrapping Jude on and chasing Clyde around.  We are five months into being a team of three while Adam’s at work and this is still what most days look like around here.  Woven wraps have a wide price range and take into consideration the fabric(s) it’s made from, the length of the wrap, whether it’s handwoven or machine woven, how many are available and personal preference.

Things to consider:  Brace yourself. I bought my first wrap with the intention of it being my sole “all-purpose” wrap but I caught the bug and am now heavily invested – financially and emotionally – in woven fabrics.  Be careful, it happens fast.  Also know that wrapping isn’t very family friendly.  The learning curve is steep and the size of the fabric can be overwhelming.  If you’re hoping to get Dad and/or other family members involved in wearing, I would recommend investing in a ring sling and/or ssc first.

Verdict:  Wrapping Jude has become one of the highlights of my journey as a Mom so far.  It is both a hobby and a convenience that he and I love equally.  If you’re at all interested in learning to wrap, I would strongly encourage you to give it a try!

Wrap Buying Guide

No matter what you decide to use, I highly recommend buying second hand.  See my thoughts on that here.  Good sources include Kijiji (tip: set an alert!) or a variety of Facebook groups: OBG FSOT SpaceCanadian Babywearing FSOT SwapCanadian Babywearing on a Budget (nothing over $100!).  Do yourself a favour and read the rules or “pinned post” for each group to ensure you have a good experience.  The guidelines are often the same amongst groups and may involve joining a sister group first, having a feedback link or specific requirements when posting.  I know that it may sound complicated but it’s really not so bad – the information is all there at the top of each page.

When you see something that you like on Facebook, it’s best to ask questions via a private message.  Standard practice is to comment “pm” on the picture and then send a message to the person’s inbox.  By commenting “pm” you’re letting them know to check their inbox for your message.  Here are a few good questions to ask when purchasing a wrap second hand:

  • What is the size of the wrap?  What is the STIH (soft tape in hand) measurement?
  • Do you have action shot and flat shots of the wrap?
  • What is the condition of the wrap?  Any stains, pulls or flaws?

Ultimately, any purchases are “buyer beware” so be sure to ask questions and give it a once-over before handing over your money.

If you are not buying local and don’t have a chance to see the carrier in person, it’s highly recommended to pay using PayPal so that you are protected with their insurance.  PayPal fees are 2.9% of the total amount being paid and it gets charged to the seller.  Sometimes the seller will include this in their price by listing it as “ppd” – typically indicating their price includes the cost of shipping and PayPal fees.  If it’s not included in their price, you can try to negotiate by splitting the cost of fees or offer to pay it yourself.  If the wrap doesn’t arrive or arrives and is not as described by the seller, you can file a claim through PayPal and they will mediate to ensure you get your money back in full.

In all that I’ve bought and sold so far I have had nothing but great experiences and have met some awesome Mom’s along the way.  Wishing you the same success in your wrap shopping!

#wearallthebabies

Babywearing: Soft structured carrier

Babywearing: Soft structured carrier

SSC – Soft structured carrier…basically a backpack for your baby.

Clyde was my ssc baby.  We started with an original Baby Bjorn that we received as a hand-me-down and tried a few others before settling on a Tula.  Below are my thoughts on a few ssc’s that we’ve tried.  A reminder that no carrier is best for everyone and trying a few options with baby is truly the best way to find what’s most comfortable.  Check out some other tips for a great baby wearing experience, here!

Baby Bjorn (the original):  This ssc can be worn on your front with baby facing in towards you or facing out once they’ve established good head control.  The second hand market is flooded with these carriers at a price point of around $30 making it a very economical option.  It accommodates babies from as little as 8lbs and doesn’t require an infant insert.

Things to consider: Baby is not sitting in a great position in this carrier which may put a strain on the hip joints.  More info on that here.  Furthermore, baby outgrows this carrier really quickly and you will start to feel the weight on your shoulders as he or she gets bigger.

Verdict: This was a great place to start but I found others to be much more supportive once I started trying other options. If you’re looking for a budget friendly ssc, I would recommend the Ergo – see below!

Ergo:  I bought the Ergo Organic Original with an infant insert for $60 on Kijiji.  This ssc can be worn on your front with baby facing you or, with good head control, on your back.  The original Ergo has a pocket on the outside which is handy for a cell phone, money or keys – especially when wearing baby on the front so you can access it easily.  The Ergo was a good fit for me, my husband and the grandparents.  It’s easy to put on by yourself and comfortable when wearing baby for an extended period.

Things to consider:  The model that I bought was a few years old and the infant insert has changed a lot recently.  When Jude was born, we tried him in the older insert and really didn’t like it.  If I was to buy this set again, I would look for one that has the changed infant insert.

Another thing to consider is that the panel (this being the main fabric piece) for the Ergo original is not as large as some other carriers meaning that it may not last you as long as other choices.  I hesitate even as I write that because it won’t make an impact until well beyond the first year by which time you’ll know if you plan to continue baby wearing and can invest in a new option.

Verdict: In my opinion, an Ergo is the ideal budget friendly ssc.  It is comfortable, comes in a variety of prints and colours and is highly available second hand.  With the addition of an infant insert, the Ergo can be worn from birth through to well beyond baby’s first year.

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Tula:  This ssc was my first baby wearing “splurge!”  I bought this second hand for $160 locally and it owes me nothing.  The Standard Tula has a generous panel size and carried Clyde comfortably at two years old (and me at 30 weeks pregnant).  I rarely left home without my Tula.  It’s easy to take on and off so Clyde was able to come up with me, or Adam, or a grandparent as he needed to and then get back down when he had had enough.  The print choices are endless and there are so many great choices.  For Jude, I found a firetruck Tula – Engine 21 and I am so excited for him to grow into it!

Things to consider:  If you are planning to buy a Tula from the beginning, you will need to add the cost of an infant insert for the first 6 months or so.  They surface on the buy and sell pages for around $50.  Also, if you’re shopping for a Tula, you may notice that there is a wide variety in pricing.  This may be due to deficiencies (faded straps, stained fabric etc.) or because it’s a limited edition print.

Verdict:  I would recommend a Tula everyday.  If it’s a good fit for you and baby then it would be money well spent in my opinion.

Accessories: As with anything, there is the option to accessorize.  The most common accessories for an ssc include suck pads, a custom sleep hood and reach straps.

Suck pads are fabric pads that attach to the straps of your carrier and are a place for baby to bite or suck on (my Tula has yellow and white suck pads shown in the pictures above).  These keep the straps of your ssc from getting ruined and they are machine washable so you can toss them in on their own instead of having to wash your full carrier.  There are lots of people that make custom suck pads with fabric to match or coordinate with your carrier.  You can ask on your local baby wearing Facebook page for recommended vendors or shop on Etsy.

sleep hood is additional fabric that attaches to the top of your carrier.  Any ssc that can be worn on your back will include a factory sleep hood.  When baby falls asleep on your back, you slip the sleep hood up over their head to keep their head resting on your back.  It also helps to cover them from any unwanted weather or bright sun.  You can order a custom hood with coordinating fabric, ears sewn on or a “hoodie” style instead of flat fabric.  You can ask on your local baby wearing Facebook page for recommended vendors or shop on Etsy.

Reach straps are fabric strings that clip onto the bottom of your sleep hood making it easier for you to pull it up and over baby’s head.  We are all awesome Super Moms but we don’t all have the shoulder flexibility required to wrangle a sleep hood and when baby is sleeping (or almost asleep), making large gestures and risking waking them is not an option.  Who’s with me??  Also a request for local vendors or Etsy.

SSC Buying Guide

No matter what you decide to use, I highly recommend buying second hand.  See my thoughts on that here.  Good sources include Kijiji (tip: set an alert!) or a variety of Facebook groups: OBG FSOT Space, Canadian Babywearing FSOT Swap, Canadian Babywearing on a Budget (nothing over $100!).  Do yourself a favour and read the rules or “pinned post” for each group to ensure you have a good experience.  The guidelines are often the same amongst groups and may involve joining a sister group first, having a feedback link or specific requirements when posting.  I know that it may sound complicated but it’s really not so bad – the information is all there at the top of each page.

When you see something that you like on Facebook, it’s best to ask questions via a private message.  Standard practice is to comment “pm” on the picture and then send a message to the person’s inbox.  By commenting “pm” you’re letting them know to check their inbox for your message.  Here are a few good questions to ask when purchasing an ssc second hand:

  • Is the carrier in good condition?  Is there any fading or discolouration?  Are there any stains?
  • Does it come with any accessories? (See above)
  • Is it standard or toddler size?  What are the panel measurements?  (More info that here)
  • Do you have action shots?  (If you’re not sure about sizing, it helps to see a picture of other kids in the carrier)

Ultimately, any purchases are “buyer beware” so be sure to ask questions and give it a once-over before handing over your money.

If you are not buying local and don’t have a chance to see the carrier in person, it’s highly recommended to pay using PayPal so that you are protected with their insurance.  PayPal fees are 2.9% of the total amount being paid and it gets charged to the seller.  Sometimes the seller will include this in their price by listing it as “ppd” – typically indicating their price includes the cost of shipping and PayPal fees.  If it’s not included in their price, you can try to negotiate by splitting the cost of fees or offer to pay it yourself.  If the carrier doesn’t arrive or arrives and is not as described by the seller, you can file a claim through PayPal and they will mediate to ensure you get your money back in full.

In all that I’ve bought and sold so far I have had nothing but great experiences and have met some awesome Mom’s along the way.  Wishing you the same success in your ssc shopping!

#wearallthebabies

My babywearing journey

My babywearing journey

img_0557If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know that I often get asked “What is that and where did you get it?” … It’s followed closely by “Did you buy another wrap?”

My journey wearing my boys started the same way it does for many – I got a carrier as a hand-me-down and decided to give it a try for a walk when Clyde was just a few weeks old.  It really wasn’t love at first sight for us.

His little head bopped around as I walked and I had just spent my life savings on a beautiful stroller so I wasn’t convinced.  A couple of months later, a friend lent us a Moby wrap for our trip to Vancouver and we were able to travel without our stroller. When we got home, Clyde was big enough to face out in the Baby Bjorn which he loved and I thought was pretty cool.  Slowly but surely I was starting to feel the love for baby wearing.

Since that time I have tried many different carriers and today I wear one or both of my babies everyday.  I love the one-on-one time with my boys and being hands free basically makes me feel like Super Woman that can accomplish anything.

Follow along over the next few posts as I share about my journey down the rabbit hole of baby wearing and some things to consider to make your experience a great one!

Tips for a great experience:

  • Try before you buy!  The options available to wear your baby are endless and they all fit you and baby differently.  If you’re expecting a newborn, it’s a good idea to buy a stretchy wrap to wear for the first while and when you’re ready to leave the house, venture out to Milkface or Belly Laughs (or a store near you) to get some pointers and try on a variety of carriers.
  • Shop second hand.  Ottawa has a fantastic baby wearing community. On Facebook, you can join the Ottawa Baby wearing Group and shop second hand by joining “OBG FSOT Space” (Ottawa Baby wearing Group For Sale or Trade).  Not only are the prices better than buying new (for the most part), the carrier comes broken in and the members of the groups are an amazing resource to make sure that you are buying a carrier that will be a great fit for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions!  Tips on what to look for and things to ask coming up over the next few posts.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy and sell often!  The second hand market for buying, selling and trading baby carriers is amazing.  If your existing carrier was great for you and baby three months ago but doesn’t fit great now, try something new and keep wearing!
  • Practice, practice, practice!  Watch Youtube tutorials to learn how to use your wrap or carrier.  Wrap You in Love is an amazing resource for wrapping demos.  Otherwise you can Google your carrier – for example,”Ergo tutorial” and find a variety of videos to choose from.
  • Find a friend to share in your journey.  The learning curve is steep for baby wearing – especially if you choose to wrap your baby.  Remind yourself (often) that everyone started somewhere and we are all still learning and trying new things!  Buddy up with someone and attend a baby wearing meet up or get together with a friend and watch a tutorial.

Come back tomorrow to read a few review and a “buying guide” for soft structured carrier’s (Ergo, Tula etc.).  Following that will be a similar post for ring slings and woven wraps!  Feel free to comment below if you have any specific questions that you would like to see answered while we’re talking all things baby wearing this weekend.

Storytime + Banana lentil muffins

Storytime + Banana lentil muffins

Shortly after Jude was born, a friend invited us to join her for story time at one of our Ottawa Public Libraries.  I hadn’t even heard of story time prior to being invited but from what my friend explained, it sounded like exactly what my active toddler needed in his week.  A 30-minute program for toddlers lead by a librarian who reads books and sings songs based on a new theme each week.  Bonus – it’s free!

I thought it sounded like a great idea but Clyde didn’t agree and it was a battle to get out the door that first week.  We were late for the program and although he participated well, he gave me a loud “no” when I asked him if he liked it at the end.

For the weeks that followed, we tried again every week with much of the same results – struggle out the door, late to the program and a hot mess leaving.  Finally we invited Grandma to join us and suddenly everything changed.  See my thoughts on asking for help.

img_1840Now every week, we wake up in the morning and call Grandma to invite her to join us for story time.  It’s Clyde’s job to ask “you want to story time with me, Grandma?”  Then we get dressed, collect our books to be returned and get in the car to pick up Grandma.

Story time is now one of the highlights of our week for Clyde and I.  He is learning to sit quietly for books, dance with the other kids and wait his turn to participate in a story.  At the end, all of the kids get a colouring sheet and we go out into the library for them to colour and do puzzles.

Clyde picks three or four books to bring home for the week and we go together to return the old ones and check out the new ones.  It’s pretty cute to see him walking proudly around the library knowing the routine.  At bedtime, he asks to read “aalllll of his library books.”

img_0987A few weeks ago, Ottawa Public Health sent a Community Food Advisor to talk about healthy snack ideas for kids after story time!  She brought muffins so needless to say, it was a hit.  Check out the recipe for Banana Lentil Muffins here!  They are a new favourite in our house.

Though it was off to a bit of a rocky start for us, story time is a really great program offered by the Ottawa Public Libraries.  If you are looking to add more music and stories to your toddler’s day, be sure to check out the schedule at a library near you!

Laundry with littles.

Laundry with littles.

Confession: I used to quietly judge people when they would tell me about their laundry situation.

IMG_9734.jpgI feel a little guilty even writing that but it’s the hard truth.  My mama friends would talk about their mountains of laundry to fold and the mystery piles that might be clean or dirty and I would think to myself… yikes, keep up!  Then I had my second child and I found myself drowning in laundry.  How can the addition of one tiny human multiply the laundry situation exponentially?  This will forever be one of life’s little mysteries for me.  Nevertheless I found myself thinking back to my mama friends and wishing I could go back in time to give them a big unconditional hug – or better yet, offer to bring wine and fold their laundry together.

This stage of life with two young kids has me asking all kinds of questions about laundry.  At what point does something truly need to be washed?  If I put on a clean shirt in the morning and it gets all kind of dirty at breakfast, can it be worn for the rest of the day?  Is it acceptable to notice that my toddler’s pants are dirty as I’m putting them on him and consider that everyone will assume it happened throughout the day?  I’ve never been careful about washing colours separately but if there ever was a doubt in my mind about this practice you can consider it out the window.  This is where I’m at guys.  These are the kinds of questions I’m asking myself and my spouse to avoid having to do another load of laundry.  It’s ok to think I’ve hit rock bottom…I’m also taking that into consideration.

The problem does not lie with the actual “doing” of the laundry.  I actually feel quite productive as I’m collecting dirty clothes from around the house and tossing them in the bin and in the machine.  Remembering to measure out some soap and press start on my way out the door with the kids feels like I’m on top of the world!  Even the next step is manageable – hanging to dry by the wood stove or moving to the dryer is a reasonable expectation.  It’s after this that things really fall apart for me…  I know this laundry is now clean and dry but the thought of hauling it out, sorting it, folding or hanging as necessary and getting it to everyone’s rightful room is too much to ask.  Even if I do manage to accomplish this task in a timely manner, heaven forbid I leave a folded pile anywhere within my toddlers reach or it’s destined to be thrown around on the floor.  The poor guy has had many a time-out that ends with the conversation “Mommy works so very hard to fold that laundry and it was so close to getting in your drawer!”

I recently had the bright idea to be proactive and recruit my toddler to help me.  We started with a mountain of clean laundry and it was his job to put things in the correct persons pile as I held them up.  It was quite fun in the beginning and we were making good progress.  Then the inevitable happened.  Said toddler decided that one big pile was so much more fun and before I could muster the words “No!  Please stop!” all of our small piles had been merged back into one right before my eyes.

I could have picked this battle.  I could have marched hit cute little bum to the time out mat and had another conversation about Mommy’s laundry woes but in the end, he’s right.  One giant pile of clothes is so much more fun so instead we piled it high and went on our way for the next activity.  The laundry can wait until bedtime.  It’s just going to get dirty again anyway.

 

Ask for help!

Ask for help!

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Hockey on Pigeon Lake with Nana!

I’m writing this on our way home from another winter weekend getaway with my Mom.  (Read about our weekend in Montebello here)  More to come on the details of our weekend at Pigeon Lake Resort later this week but first a note on asking for help.  In short: do it!

If you’ve been following along on the blog so far you may have noticed that we don’t do much on our own.  We are extremely fortunate to have all of our grandparents nearby and whether it’s a trip to New York City or an afternoon walk to the farm, we are constantly inviting someone to tag along.

First and foremost, we love the company.  Adam and I are both socialites and live by the words “the more, the merrier.”  A close second is the long list of benefits that comes with having fresh faces and helping hands.

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Santa Claus Parade with Grandma and Grandpa!

Getting a young family out the door is no easy task on a good day.  Tack on the addition of being somewhere new and/or preparing bikes or strollers or skis and this can be the breaking point for many people.  Cue helping hands!  “Can you please play with my kids while I get everything ready?”  Done!

Not to mention that kids are typically much more motivated to please people other than Mom and Dad.  Cue helping hands!  “How about if Nana helps with your snowsuit?”  Done!

Once we’re out and about, we are continually grateful to have an extra body with us.  Between the three or four of us, it’s a constant rotation of “Can you hold this?” and “Can he go ‘uppy’ with you?” or “Let’s run and catch Grandpa!”

Just like on my trip to Mexico with Clyde, extra bodies on a trip give you the opportunity to take some time for yourself to relax or explore a city without having to consider “kid-friendly” options.

Asking for help used to be a real challenge for me because I felt like we should be able to do it on our own (anyone else a self proclaimed Super Mom?).  In time, I have changed my ways and now our family knows to come prepared for anything when they come over for a visit and looks forward to being part of our adventures with the boys.

I realize that not all families have grandparents that they can call on at the drop of a hat but don’t let that stop you from asking for help!  We are all Super Mom’s and Super Dad’s and we can accomplish a great deal of amazing things on our own but we don’t have to.  Often times, the people that you invite to join you will feel like the benefits are mutual to have spent time doing something great with you and your family.

10 > 1 Pyramid workout

10 > 1 Pyramid workout

This is my go-to workout when I’m busy, working out with the kids or ‘not in the mood’ for something more detailed.  It is fast, simple and most importantly, effective.

The three exercises for the workout are push-ups, sit-ups and squats.  The basic exercises and the fast pace makes it very toddler friendly!

Start with 10 reps of each exercise and work your way down to 1 of each.

10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 squats
9 push-ups, 9 sit-ups, 9 squats
8 push-ups, 8 sit-ups, 8 squats
7 push-ups, 7 sit-ups, 7 squats
etc…
1 push-up, 1 sit-up, 1 squat

I like a high intensity workout so I don’t take breaks between sets and it takes me roughly 10 minutes to get through the full workout.

As with all workouts, it should be quality over quantity so take your time to complete the exercise properly and modify or take breaks as you need to!

Included below are still shots of each exercise.  Find a time-lapse video of the workout on Instagram or Facebook.

10 > 1 Push-ups

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Modification: Push-ups from your knees
Slightly less intensity but mostly a modification to preserve proper form.  You’re better off doing a full range of motion push-up on your knees than a shallow push-up on your toes.

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10>1 Sit-ups

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Modification: Alternative style of sit-ups
I love to add variety in this portion of the workout.  Often, no two sets of sit-ups will be the same for me.  This allows you to add variation to the intensity of the workout and keeps it interesting!

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10>1 Squats

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Modification: Jump squats
If you’re looking for an option that’s more cardio, jump squats are the answer!

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Have fun and break a sweat today!

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Home birth (part two)

Home birth (part two)

Welcome back!  Thank you so much to everyone who submitted questions for this home birth series by way of Facebook and Instagram.  Part two shares my response to those questions and includes a few tips to help make home birth a great experience.  If you are joining us for the first time, you may find it helpful to start by reading Jude’s birth story and then part one of this home birth series.

Q: What do you need for a home (water) birth?

img_7965A: I was so impressed by how little we needed for a home birth.  I didn’t have to buy anything!  We had also decided on a water birth and were really fortunate to borrow a birthing tub from a friend.  We did spend $50 to buy the liner required for the tub (our only expense).  Most midwife clinics have tubs for rent so be sure to put your name on the list early if you’re considering one to better your chances of it being available for you near your due date.

Our midwives sent us home with a list of things to put together from around the house – towels, a large bowl, a strainer and sheets.

For the water birth portion, we added our borrowed birthing tub, a tarp, a hose, a thermometer and a sump pump for clean up.

The midwives will set up one area for the baby after birth so we had receiving blankets, a diaper and a hat to add to what they had.

Water Birth Q: How do you keep the water warm?

img_5173-2A:  This was a tricky part of the process.  Ensure that your hot water tank is turned up and be ready to boil water from the stove as needed.  The water needs to be at body temperature when the baby arrives.  Adam used a hose from a tap upstairs directly into the tub and used the provided lid for the top to keep the heat in when not in use.  Towards the end of my labour, we needed to bring the water temperature back up so Adam was going back and forth from the sink with bowls of hot water.  It did the job for the temperature of the water but made it difficult for me to get my bearings because the tub was too full and I was very buoyant.  In hindsight, we should have taken some water out of the tub before adding in the final hot water.

Q: What’s involved in cleaning up after a home birth?

A:  This was something that I hadn’t even considered until it was asked at our home birth information night – at which time I went “oh yeah!  What does happen?”

The midwives are careful and incredibly proficient in cleaning up after a home birth.  They pack up all of the equipment that they brought and use two garbage bags – one for things to be washed and one for things to be thrown out.  They had our basement looking presentable within two hours of Jude being born.

For the birthing tub, Adam used a sump pump to pump the water outside.

The second midwife that came for the delivery left once the baby was stable.  Our midwife stayed until we were all comfortable and all but tucked us into bed on her way out the door.

Q: How do you manage with older siblings?

img_7983A:  We invited my Mom to be on “Clyde duty” no matter what time of day the baby arrived.  If it was a daytime delivery, we were open to the idea of him being there but I had an overnight bag packed for him in case he was uncomfortable and wanted to go to Nana’s house.  As it happened, Jude came after midnight so Adam was able to put Clyde to bed at his normal bedtime.  He slept through everything and then woke up two hours after Jude was born.  Adam brought him down to meet his brother and then went back up to bed until morning!  Seeing Clyde come down the stairs with Adam was one of the most memorable moments of this experience for me.  He knew right away who the baby was and was overjoyed to meet him – phew!

One of the midwives that hosted our home birth information night shared about having her small kids at home when she delivered her new baby.  She pointed out that young kids have a very fluid concept of what is “normal” and are seeing all kinds of things for the first time every day.  She also had a grandparent on site to help care for the kids but they enjoyed being near Mom and had fun mimicking her through labour.

I wasn’t sure that Clyde wouldn’t be upset to see that I was uncomfortable but it was a good reminder that it may be a non issue and to consider all options when planning for care of big siblings.  Having him come down to meet Jude after he was born was a really special time.

Q: How many people attended your birth?

A:  We felt very open about having people around during our birth so there was Adam, my Mom, my sister and our midwife.  The minimum number of people is two – your midwife for the duration of your labour and a second midwife to arrive for the delivery of baby.  I greatly enjoyed having the support of my Mom and sister throughout my labour.  It was nice for me to have three people taking turns help me through contractions and it was nice for Adam to have people to talk to and give him a break.

It was also a really special moment to have my Mom and my sister there to hold Jude just hours after he was born.

Q: What happens if something goes wrong?

A: This is without a doubt the biggest deterrent for a home birth – the “what ifs.”  While no one can guarantee that everything will go smoothly, there are a few things that helped to reassure us.  Firstly, you are only approved for a home birth if you are deemed to have a low risk pregnancy with zero concerns.  At that point, the risk of anything going wrong is as little as it can be.  Secondly, the midwives come with all of the equipment that can be found at a level one hospital and are highly trained including the ability to intubate and they hold an advanced resuscitation certification.  Thirdly, the most common reason for a transfer to hospital from a home birth is at the request of the Mom for pain management.  At that point, you get in your car, your midwife gets in her car and you meet at the hospital.

One of the couples that spoke at our home birth night was preparing for their second home birth.  They shared that during the delivery of their first baby at home, the baby got stuck and they had to call for an ambulance to transfer to the hospital.  They said that they were amazed by the strength and confidence of the midwives and always felt like things were under control – so much so that they were planning to do it again.

We also made a trip to the hospital a few hours after Jude was born.  I felt great after my delivery and had very little bleeding.  Two hours after our midwives left, I lost a generous amount of blood really quickly so we called for an ambulance.  They arrived in under 15 minutes and by then, my bleeding was under control.  We decided to go to the hospital just to be sure so I went in the ambulance and Adam followed behind in the car with Jude.  I was checked into observation and stayed only for a few hours to confirm that I was stable.  From what they could tell, I was bleeding but it was clotting and released at once.  It was scary and I was disappointed to have gone to the hospital in the end but we were grateful that there were no concerns.

Tips for success

  • Feed the army!  In the weeks leading up to our birth, I made one giant lasagne for the freezer.  As soon as my labour started, I took it out to thaw and delegated the task of getting it in the oven to my Mom.  From what we all remember, that happened sometime around midnight and was ready to eat shortly after Jude arrived at 1:19am.  I remember feeling so hungry and very grateful to have a hot meal.  I also remember feeling glad to provide food for our midwives and our family after a long evening of hard work!  We continued to eat the lasagne for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the first two days.
  • Organize post-baby support!  Adam and I agreed to invite my Mom to our birth very early on in my pregnancy.  Not knowing what time of day the baby would come, we knew that we would appreciate an extra set of hands to help set up, support me and look after Clyde.  What we didn’t consider, was organizing for people to come help after the baby was born.  Everyone that was part of his birth was exhausted and needed to rest.  We had lots of friends and family come to meet Jude but it would have been a great help to have a new set of extra hands come and stay for a few days to help us settle in with our newest addition.
  • Share your “why” and educate!  Sharing about our plans for a home birth was often met with resistance from friends and family.  Most commonly, people responded with “Wow!  Why?”  The more we talked to people about why it was important to us and the more we educated people about what was involved and the training and education required for midwives, we could see that our friends and family were more receptive to the idea.  Once you are confident in your decision to have a home birth, share your “why” and educate your close friends and family as early in your pregnancy as possible to avoid any questions and concerns coming up towards the end.

In 2009, Adam built this home on family land with the help of family and friends.
In 2013, this home was the venue for our backyard wedding.
In 2016, we welcomed our second child in this home.

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