Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Landing after the leap

Here we are, 5 months after my first post about taking the leap and leaving the workforce, and I am now about to re-enter the workforce. Next week I will begin training for a one-year full-time contract with a local municipality in their corporate communications department. But before I go into how I am feeling now, let's quickly revisit the last 5 months.

My maternity leave officially ended at the beginning of July and we spent the summer doing summer things. Going to the zoo and hitting up the local playground. A few visits to the nearby water park and a lot of swimming in our pool. So much swimming that The Babe is completely comfortable swimming underwater, yay! So so so much swimming that my hair turned green, not so yay. We visited family on Vancouver Island, spent time with the grandparents checking out the river and the horses near their place, and hanging out with various friends and all the cousins. Some days were fantastic and some were temper-tantruming terror, as it is with a toddler and a baby. It wasn't all sunshine and smiles, but it definitely was a lot of the time.

But as the summer wore on and the fall began and we moved into a new routine, I found myself missing the work. The contract work I have been doing just isn't the same. As a contractor you are not intimately involved in the company, you are on the outside and only privy to what directly affects the work you are responsible for. Which I found difficult. I missed the work culture. I was also struggling with the way I left the full-time work world. I wasn't finished. I always knew there was a large possibility of my leaving the workforce for a few years once we had our second child, but I wasn't where I thought I would be in my career when it was time to leave. The thoughts of leaving on that note, in that place, continued to nag at me.

When an opportunity came knocking at my door, I thought long and hard about how I have been feeling, what affect it will have on our family for me to go back to work for a year, where my priorities lie. I thought I was questioning myself a lot in June, when it turns out I have never questioned myself more than in the last two weeks.

I am excited to begin this new (short) chapter. The team I get to work with is one that I have worked with in the past and whom I respect immensely. The work will be busy and important and I will be a part of some major initiatives and events over the next year. And I love working in communications. The office is close to home and has some great benefits such as flex days which I will look forward to spending with the kiddos.

I am nervous about the transition for both the kids and for me. While The Babe has been in daycare before and will know a bunch of the kids from her time there before, Baby Macaroni still clings to me like a small koala to a bamboo tree. I am unsure how she will manage in daycare. She is not as independent as The Babe was at this age, but we never worried about socialization for Baby Macaroni because she has had The Babe to socialize with. I wonder how she will change by going to daycare and will I be okay with it?

I am unsure what will happen to the family dynamic once I am back at work. I know it's not something I can plan for, it will unfold on its own and I cannot control it. But in some ways, I do control it, with my actions.

I feel as though I have failed at being a stay-at-home mom because I want to go back to work. It didn't work out, as one well-meaing preschool mom asked me this week. But in the same breath I don't see the problem with wanting to work in a position I worked hard to get to AND be a mother at the same time. The scales are filling up with thoughts on either side, tipping from up to down to up again. My brain is tired and so is my heart.

Next week we begin our transition with the huge help of family and friends. I know there will be some tears, but I'm hoping there will be lots of smiles too.

~ H

Friday, August 28, 2015

Whole 30

"What was I thinking?" some of you have asked. There have been days I asked myself that same question. At the beginning of August I started the Whole 30, a "diet" which you do for 30 days (hence the name) and during which you avoid the following:

- dairy
- legumes
- grains
- sugar
- alcohol
- fun

The last one is not an actual part of the plan, but an addition by myself as a way to stick to the plan. Because going to a very fun birthday party on Day 10 where they are serving broccoli salad, cupcakes, wine and cheeseburgers is extremely hard. Excruciatingly hard. It certainly put my willpower to the test, as did the second birthday party the following day where there was a homemade peanut butter and jam ice cream cake with a peanut butter cookie crust. That's right, a peanut butter cookie crust! I ate a salad I brought from home that day, and died a little inside.

I did the Whole 30 for a few reasons. I finished nursing Baby Macaroni in the spring, however I still hadn't finished eating like I was nursing by mid-July. I was also feeling bloated all the time, and every time I saw a photo of myself I cringed. A friend had been talking about the Whole 30 over the past few months and I kept coming back to it. Checking it out on Instagram, reading the website, unable to shake my interest.

All of sudden I decided, "I'm doing this. Now." And I did. I borrowed the book from the same friend. I checked to see if my almond coconut was Whole 30 approved (it was, a rarity) and I have the most tempting sweets to my husband to hide from me. I did not purge the entire house of every sugary treat and carbohydrate. Other people have to live here too. I asked my husband if he would be on board for the dinners, which he agreed to. If I was cooking something a little more out there (spaghetti squash as noodles), then I also cooked regular pasta for everyone else. I stocked up on groceries and that was it - Day 1 on August 3rd.

Today is Day 30 and I have learned a lot about myself over the next 30 days, so I will sum it up in a paragraph or two ;)

I have strong strong willpower. Halfway through the 30 days we took a trip to Vancouver Island to visit family. I packed a cooler full of food for me, but one day we hit up a local beach and The Babe was sitting next to me eating a Kraft peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread and I have never wanted to rip a sandwich out of someone's hands and devour it in two bites more than in that moment. There was also the aforementioned birthday parties. My husband sitting next to me in bed powering down a bag of Chicago mix popcorn had me almost tackling him for a sweet caramel kernel of goodness. But I drank my club soda and pure cranberry juice, munched on a few cashews and took deep breaths.

I have an amazingly supportive family. The same husband as above got up early one weekend, the weekend I was running an obstacle race with a team, and made me a Whole 30 compliant breakfast, right down to the cooking oil. He never complained about the lack of grains at dinner, and he is a carb guy. He told me he was proud of me. A lot. When travelling to visit my family, I told them about my diet and offered to make meals for everyone, not wanting to be a pain in the ass. To my pleasant surprise, not only were they supportive, they all planned meals I could eat during my whole trip. It was amazing, and definitely helped me to keep going.

I learned with enough protein and veggies and good fats, I don't need snacks in between meals. It was so interesting to get to 4pm and think, "oh! I can wait until dinner to eat!". This has not been the case prior to the Whole 30. I always thought I needed to eat small meals 6 times a day to keep my blood sugar up. Turns out, I just need to stay the eff away from Tim Horton's. Seriously, I can never go there again. That place is my kryptonite.

Lastly I learned that I can avoid alcohol for awhile but I definitely enjoy a beverage with friends and I also really miss sugar. I had two cheats over the 30 days and both were alcohol - one night it was two tall vodka sodas on a much needed Mom's night out and there was one post-obstacle race cider. But that was it! No other cheats! As for sugar, I have decided even though I have gone without for a month, coffee is still better with sugar. I will definitely be incorporating that back in. 

Want to know more? Wondering which recipes I am going to keep in the rotation? Just ask :)

Above: fried plantains from a recipe at Nom Nom Paleo. I love her site. 

~ H

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The dreaded toy purge

Ugh. I'm having a panic attack just thinking about it.

We have a boatload of toys in our house. Big toys, little toys, stuffies, McDonalds happy meal toys, musical instruments, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the 80's, a dress up box, a play kitchen, a play workbench - the list goes on and on. Some of the toys are in a daily play rotation and some are collecting dust. But whenever I suggest to The Babe that we possibly give a few toys to other kids, I'm met with a resounding "Nooooooooooo" and tears. And so the clutter becomes more clutter, the toys begin to stack up, and I can feel the space shrinking by the minute. 

The thing is, not only does she not have a favourite toy, she also has an excellent memory. I pulled out a stuffed toy she had not put hands on for at least 6 months and as I put it in the donation pile, she began to cry and told her dad that I was giving away a very special gift someone had given her over a year ago. Seriously?!? How do you remember that, but not what you had for lunch today? The clutter problem is compounded by the fact that we have another child, also a girl, who may want to play with these toys in a year or so. So I go back and forth on what to keep and what to donate. Sometimes sneaking things out under the cover of night when The Babe is asleep and stealthily putting the boxes in the trunk to drop them off, where she cannot see them. 

I will say that our message to our family to buy our children less stuff has been heard. Recent holiday and birthday gifts have been more along the lines of memberships for activities, movie tickets and gift certificates. It's hard to give people ideas for non-stuff gifts. Clothes can be good, but only for the older one as the younger one has more than enough hand-me-downs. 

Back to the purge, sigh. How do we do it? We can tell her the old toys are helping other kids, but how do we show her where the toys go and how they can help? She's 3, not 10. Will she really understand? She doesn't understand why she should share with her sister, or why Annie's Bunnies cannot be eaten for every meal, so I'm not sure she will grasp the concept of service and goodwill.

Share with me your tips, tricks and funny stories about how you deal with the toy clutter and purge in your house.

~ H

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The nine circles of Costco hell

If only Dante had known how applicable his famous text would be to the act of taking two children under three to Costco for groceries. Everytime I venture out to Costco with the girls, I find myself saying (not yelling, never yelling) "this is an exercise in patience girls!" before I have even parked the car. Oh the parking limbo dance you do at Costco! Will this be the lane where you spy a coveted end spot, only to find an oversized SUV hugging the line so tightly there is no way you could open your door, let alone manage the gymnastics it would take to get your child out of their car seat. So you drive and drive until you find someone inching, creeping, crawling out of a spot in the first three lanes by the entrance and you call it a win. "Yesssss!" with a fist pump in the air.

But that is where the wins end my friend, because now, as you look around in envy as other shoppers simply grab a cart on their way in and breeze by the greeters without a care in the world, you decide which of the two options you have is the least unappealing. Do you strap one child into the cart, wrestling with her to get her legs in the right slots without breaking her tibia and then strapping the other smaller child into an ergonomically friendly carrier which will not allow you to grab large boxes or taste anything hot and delicious? Or do you take the stroller with the baby in the seat and the toddler riding shotgun on the glider board, which limits a normal grocery shop to 20 items, but a Costco shop to three?

Neither choice is a great one, believe me.

Once you've managed to tie everyone down and get through the door (and not gouge anyone's eye out in the process), toddlers' eyes light up with every possibility they see before them. Costco, by its very nature, is a physical manifestation of gluttony. Huge hunks of meat, bags of popcorn the size of a 2-year-old and 1,000 roll packs of toilet paper? Yes please! And if you're a toddler, why not try to scale those packs of TP and hide behind flats of tomato sauce? I mean, why not give mom or dad a heart attack by disappearing into the black hole that is an empty space in the housewares aisle? And while they're at it, they might as well take up camp in the shed display near the bread, because lord knows you are not getting past that one without some sort of a negotiation.

I'm not sure which sin comes out more when doing the actual shopping - greed or lust? Does she need a full princess dress up set (that should read "another") or a 100 pack box of chocolate milk? According to the toddler, she needs it, she wants it, she must have it. As she lays out on the floor or halfway out of the cart wailing when you don't put it in the cart, angry and violent "I WANT IT!!!", all pride goes out the window and you cannot get to the cashier's line fast enough. Don't worry, you're nearly there. You just need to get through the separation drama which comes at checkout time.

"Almost done," you think, "I can do this," you whisper, as your eyes glaze over and you contemplate a drive-thru treat for yourself and maybe even the kiddos if you're feeling generous. But one little hand, one chubby reaching creeping baby hand is out of the carrier before you can say boo and has grabbed ahold of the $10 organic salsa and in slow motion horror the hand pulls the salsa off the conveyor belt and did you know that hard plastic shatters just like glass when dropped from the right height? You thought you were all on the same page, the same team, the same side trying to all get out alive but no, treachery has occurred and you are staring the enemy in the face, all six teeth and dimply grins of it. 

As you finish your walk of shame out the door, there is a light at the end of the storm. The greeter at the door who puts happy faces on the receipt! Never have you lusted for someone so much in this moment! Someone who can turn it all around, turn those frowns upside down with the simple swipe of a Sharpie :) You give the privilege of holding the receipt to the toddler, who can barely contain her excitement on route but then turns mute when the destination is reached.

You all emerge from the store and as you load the jumbo prawns and one million packs of wipes into the car, you swear this time will be the last. It's not worth it, you think, I just lost years off my life. And it's not worth it. Until you run out of milk and diapers and wipes and toilet paper. Then the circle begins again. Thank goodness for the samples. 

~ H
P.S. I know I missed Heresy and Fraud. But I got the rest. So cut me some fricking slack ;)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Taking a leap

I did it. I made a choice. Or rather, we made a choice. As a couple, as a family. Yesterday I gave notice that I would not be returning from maternity leave. A flood of emotions has been washing over me. I'm terrified and happy and sad and scared. I cannot believe I left a job with benefits, something many people would literally die for. I cannot believe I thought benefits might tip the scales to keep me satisfied in a role I have outgrown. I took the leap because waiting on the edge of the cliff was exhausting, mentally and physically. We couldn't have anymore conversations, I couldn't make anymore budgets, I just had to take action and see how it all unfolds.

Choosing to stay at home with my children while I look for work has changed the course of our lives, according to one of my friends. She is right. I have made a conscious decision to put my career on pause for a little while, though I won't stay I've jumped completely off the ladder. The beauty of my field is the contract market, should you choose to market yourself. Now I have the ability to work in different areas (photography, writing, editing, social media management) on my own schedule. The chance to spend more time making these and these. The opportunity to perhaps take an online course or two. So many doors and so many windows.

I have never left a job without having another one, except for my post-college summer break right after I finished my Bachelor's degree. But as I write that I think "I have another job! It's being a mom!" I'm not leaving to sit on the couch and eat bon bons (although I do have a box of Maui Caramacs on the counter which are calling my name). I will be colouring, painting, exploring nature and checking out Science World and the zoo. We will be swimming and having playdates and learning more counting and singing songs. We will be going to the library to get our weekly stamps for summer reading club and checking out what's going on around town. I will be helping to run my husband's growing business. I will learning. And should an opportunity to work out of the house come up and it fits with our family, we will explore that too.

A big thank you to those who been listening ears, who have offered advice or told me about your own decision and challenges. I haven't been able to talk to everyone who has offered, because in the end I needed to take some time to think about what I want, what my husband wants, what our girls are needing right now. But everyone's kind words have been in my heart.

Enough with this, let's move on. Next week's post will be about the trials of a Costco shop with two kids. Back to the funny already!

~ H

Friday, June 19, 2015

Know when to fold em

I am facing a dilemma. As maternity leave draws to a close, my future as a working mom hangs in the balance. I am at a crossroads. I applied for a management position and didn't get it, based on two specific areas of experience, so my options are to stay in my current role and most likely gain no more experience in those areas while paying the cost of full-time daycare for two children, or leave my job and stay home for the next year and two months until The Babe is in Kindergarten and childcare costs drop dramatically but it creates a hole in my resume, or leave my current role and begin full-time job hunting for something where I can continue to gain the experience I need and want and if found, decide whether or not to put the kids in full-time daycare or have my husband stay home until school begins. No path is right or wrong, black or white, and each has its pros and cons.

To say it is consuming me would be an understatement. I play out each scenario as I am brushing my teeth, flipping the laundry and planning my next few weeks. I am creating budgets, reading articles and consulting a few people who have been in this scenario before. On the one hand, I read somewhere that if you have been lucky enough to receive a post-secondary education, you owe it to the institution to follow through and use that education. Which to me means working in my field. On the other hand, countless people have taken me aside over the last year and told me that you don't get this time back, your babies are only babies once. That if I have the opportunity to stay home for a little while, I should seriously consider doing it.

I am reading article after article about the mass exodus of educated women leaving the workforce after becoming mothers and I feel a kinship to this unnamed mass. With no family nearby to take care of our girls during the day, daycare is the only choice. Our daycare is on the more expensive end, but it works for our lives and we have a bond with the staff, which is worth the money. Changing daycares to save money so I stay in my current role is not the way my priorities work. I have yet to explore the freelance and contract world, this is on my task list for next week.

I feel as though I have spent the last two days in a fog, not entirely present for my husband and the girls. I am sad and confused. But perhaps this is a good thing. It is forcing me to sit down and work out exactly what my priorities and goals are. It is forcing me to write about it, always a cathartic process. As I go through this weekend, Father's Day weekend, I will be thinking about my own parents and the decisions they made. I will spend the weekend with friends and family and then I will approach next week with clarity and a positive outlook.

If you have found yourself in a similar situation, please feel free to weigh in with your process and outcome here.

~ H

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tummy troubles

I have a tummy. I would love to say it came from my babies, but that would be a lie. It has been there for as long as I can remember, smaller and larger depending on my workout regime, diet and alcohol intake. It is something I struggle with daily because, on the one hand, I want my girls to embrace their bodies and love all their parts so I should too, but on the other hand I could follow and share the advice that if you don't like something, try to change it. I have never done anything for a consistent amount of time to reduce my tummy, so I am not sure that I would still have one if I did. But here I stand, constantly battling with my wardrobe in the morning: do I dress to hide it, picking drapey shirts or ones with strategic gathers, or do I say "this is me" and wear a form fitting t-shirt or tank top? I hate to think my daughters may go through this same dilemma. It is such a useless dilemma to ponder. I hate to think my daughters would go through it because they saw me go through it.

Which brings me to the reason behind he dilemma in the first place. Between #fitfam hashtags, Whole30 lifestyles and Crossfit converts I am bombarded with ways to change my shape - if I choose to. But should I? I can work to change what appears to be my forever body type or I can work to embrace my body exactly how it is. Neither option seems right or wrong, just different forms of self-love. Working your body at the gym or spend the time with my family. Eat whatever I want (donuts, cheese, more donuts) or stick to trying new recipes for lentils and veggies in the kitchen (not kale, never again, not even as chips loaded with salt). I could go the rec centre gym, work with a trainer twice a week while The Babe is at preschool and put Baby Macaroni in the babysitting room they have. But that is my only one-on-one time with her, and there is also a nap in there. And is that really how I want to spend my time? Slaving away without my kids to be more comfortable in my own skin? I want to be more comfortable in my own skin period. I want to look in the mirror and say "damn! I like what I see!" It shouldn't just be my husband saying ;) I need to say it too. But I would love to be active with my kids in a way that is fun and fat-burning at the same time.

If abs are made in the kitchen, how much stock should I put in enjoying my food? Are grilled chicken salads and steel cut oats the way I should be going? I wouldn't say we eat badly. There is almost always a protein, a veg and a carb option for dinner. Some nights it is two veg and no carbs! But we definitely use salt and butter and portion sizes are not a huge priority. I incorporate a meatless meal once a week and I frequently make egg muffins for a quick breakfast. Post-dinner TV snacks almost always happen as well.

I think what I am most concerned with is not having a stance. Embrace or work for what you want? I want my girls to like what they see when they look in the mirror. Powerful arms, jelly bellies or larger feet - I just hope they like what they see. 

~ H

Friday, April 17, 2015

The snacks

I recently read a list of things I didn't know about being a parent before I became one and one thing resonated more than the rest. The snacks! Seriously! At least twice a week I get out of the house and arrive at a toddler-focused activity to be greeted with "Mom I'm hungry". To which I silently respond with the F word. Out loud I say, "I'll see what's in my bag". 

You know what's in my bag? Nothing! Because I forgot to restock the snacks. Again. I never knew how many snacks in so many different forms I would need when I became a mom. I need dry snacks, savoury snacks, sweet snacks and water. I also need snacks for me, and now I need small snacks for the baby. 

They can't be just any snacks either. They cannot be granola bars for The Babe, she would rather starve. They cannot be squeeze pouches, because she will take two squeezes and declare she is finished. Raisins are hit and miss (I get that). Graham bunny crackers used to be on the no fly list, but I believe they have been allowed back into the rotation. I feel like toddler snacks could be seen as a parental draft pick. You buy a box, invest the money, and ride out the season to see which kind rises to the top and which gets benched one week in. 

Heaven forbid I toy with the idea of buying Welcher's fruit juice snacks - those set my mommy guilt rating at a level 5 red. The desire (need, societal expectation) to make my own snacks is overwhelming, but most of the time when I do, The Babe not-so-politely tells me my coconut flax seed energy balls are gross and she wants cheesy bunny crackers. Or I make delicious ants on a log and she proceeds to pick the ants off and scrape out the peanut butter with her finger, leaving a hollow log and dead ants on her plate. AAAAAHHHHH! I am stuck in the 7 levels of snack purgatory hell and I cannot find the Ritz mini sandwiches to get me out of here.

Of course Pinterest is both my friend and my enemy on this front. On the one hand, there are endless pins of "30 Snacks For Your Toddler" which serve as a helpful inspiration when I am in a rut. Single serving hummus and baby carrots? Love it! Thanks for the idea! However it also sets my expectations widely out of reach - see energy ball reference above. Even now, as I write this, I am looking at a box of almost too ripe kiwis on my counter and wondering if I could make fruit roll ups out of them. Then I laugh at myself, remembering I do not have 3 hours to sit around with my oven on low once I am finished peeling, blending, squishing, and spreading out these ripe kiwis on a baking sheet to be later cut up and tied with a colourful rope of which I do not own and would need to make a trip to Michael's for. Harrumph.

I'm looking for feedback on this one people. Are you in snack hell or finger food heaven? What is your go-to snack stash? Do you make your own...(fill in the blank here and it's okay if you write wine)?

~ H

Friday, March 13, 2015

Frugal mom or cheap mom

I prefer the term "frugal" but more often of late, my husband and one or two friends have called me cheap. And not in the endearing "cheap date" kind of way either. I just laugh, because maybe, just maybe, I am cheap. 

Case in point - recently we had an amazing day at the zoo with a friend. I packed all our snacks and made us to-go coffees before we left. I insisted we leave the zoo before lunch because I refuse to buy the overpriced concession meals. This is the case whenever we go to an attraction - the zoo, aquarium, fun fair, wherever. I do not like to spend money on food when we are out somewhere. That day I caved and bought a small bag of chips because we were all starting to get a case of the hangry's. My husband always berates me for my refusal to buy concession food - but I just can't do it!!

However this inevitably leads to a hungry mom and dad, and when I am hungry I cannot even think straight. The hunger is as loud as a locomotive rushing through my head chugging "feed me, feed me, feed me." When travelling through Europe with my stepsister in our 20's the rule of trip, we learned two days in, was keep her warm and me fed. When I am hungry I often snap at whoever is around, so trips to the zoo and aquarium don't always end on good note. One would think this would cause me to change my ways. But I am also stubborn.

This is a small example of the big picture of how I live as a mom. Not on sale? Not buying it! Can I find it used? If not, maybe I will wait. Clearing out your summer stock for 80% off. Perfect for next year's wardrobe. Don't get me started on Baby Macaroni, who I recently bought what may have been her first brand new item from me, ever. I buy most of The Babe's clothes at swap meets, because the stuff there is a fraction of the price and she is growing so fast. The result tends to be mismatching patterns and winter prints in spring, but hey, no judgments okay? Reindeer become moose, elves become gnomes and snowflakes..well those are just snowflakes. I buy her the cheaper runners from Superstore, because childrens Nike and New Balance runners fit for a millisecond but are bloody expensive. I do not think I am alone on this, am I? 

When my mom used to take me to the movies she would sneak in homemade popcorn in brown paper bags. It was light on butter but heavy on salt. I would beg for movie theatre popcorn but she rarely caved. I used to think she was cheap. Now I can not only understand, I do the same thing with the sweet treats! I have become my mother in all her frugalness. It's just that life has become so darn expensive; I try to find savings wherever I can. I don't see this changing anytime soon, so my kids will just have to learn to like it. Or starve. Or go naked. 

Oh my. I really have become my mother.

~ H

PS - in search of savings, I tried to make my own dish soap. Lesson learned? Buy Dawn on sale. Save yourself the time and the very disappointing results.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Listening ears

You know the ones? The listening ears? The ones you ask your child to put on morning, noon and night? Yeah, those ones! Todays post is about when the listening ears don't work, selectively turned off at the most inopportune times. 

After a great morning of shopping, playground activities and an excellent demonstration of sharing a most-coveted swing with a friend, The Babe, Baby Macaroni and I continued to enjoy the outdoors with a walk with a friend around a nearby lake. Exercise was had, snacks were eaten and no ducks were harmed in the process of circling the lake. By all measures it was a success. Then it was time to pack up and get in the car. And this is when we all began to unravel. Because when The Babe stops listening and acting out, I get embarrassed. Yes. Embarassed. When embarrassed at her behaviour, one of two things happens. I either over-discipline or under-discipline. I yell or I beg. I stop her from running away from me by bear hugging her or I threaten to never ever ever bring her to the park again. (Of course we will go to the park again. That is just a ridiculous notion altogether.) I silently curse her for making me look like a bad parent. 

BUT SHE IS 3! She has not spent the last half hour scheming as to how she can make me look. She has been looking at ducks and eating popcorn and doesn't want it to end. Or, if it must end, can't it end by dancing around the trunk space of our Subaru? She is not malicious and she is excitable, so why does it bother me so much? Why do I care what anyone thinks about my parenting? Why do I presume they think anything at all?

Mom-shaming is a buzz word right now, but here's the thing - no one has shamed me except me. No one has said anything negative to me about The Babe or Baby Macaroni. No one looks at what I feed them and dress them in and comments on it. No one says, "wow she is very badly behaved". I'm the one who chastises them and myself for not living up to some invisible standard of behaviour and discipline. So it is time to change that because I have some pretty awesome kids and I don't say that enough. It's time to get over myself and say, "yeah, I probably wouldn't want this fun day to end either, so I get why you are acting crazy when it is time to leave." And then breathe. It's time to stop caring what other people think, because they probably don't care one way or the other; they probably don't notice at all.

~ H

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Scary-led weaning

Baby-led weaning or BLW as it is referred to by some is the scariest shit I have ever done. Am doing, I should say. A little back story: I decided that in order to save time and sanity, I will not be making the 5-star Annabel Karmel style baby purees for Baby Macaroni, like I did with The Babe. It was time-consuming, labour-intensive and downright maddening if she didn't end up liking the batch I made. I also wanted to forgo the constant spoon feeding the second time around. I have a toddler to wrangle now, as well as myself to feed, so BLW seemed to be a way to do it all. The idea behind BLW is that babies join the family at the table and eat pieces of food by gumming the stick and finger-shaped pieces of food. Other than salty foods, honey, certain fishs and high fiber foods, every food is fair game according to the information I read.

So I bought the book, shopped for the groceries and away we went. And then stopped. And then started again, sort of. I gave Baby Macaroni half a red pepper to knaw on. She loved it! Success! Then she broke off a twoonie-sized chunk in her mouth and I panicked. I fished it out with my finger, a BLW no-no, and gave her back the rest of the pepper hesitatingly. The next night, a quarter of an apple. Same results. She loves the food, but gets mad when I take it out of her mouth. She gags on food, a BLW yes-yes, and my husband shudders. I posed a question on FB asking for tips and got some pretty helpful answers, but I still can't get past a nagging feeling that no matter what, a toast finger is a choking hazard. I also prefer to make her food rather than have her eat solely pouches of Superstore baby food. And there lies the problem. If I am terrified everytime I move outside the half Cheerio and steamed broccoli spectrum, is it really worth it?

Two nights ago I decided to be brave. After a few bites of cheddar cheese at lunch, we thought maybe a little cottage cheese at dinner would be a natural progression. Soft in nature, there would also be no choking hazard. What we didn't bet on was a reaction once the cheese and liquid touched the skin on her face, hands and legs. One trip to the emergency room later, which included an rather amusing conversation with a transient man, and we were given the all clear to go home and go to sleep. 

Now terrified of choking AND reactions, I am at a loss. Having a first aid kit next to me at the table while I gingerly give Baby Macaroni her next new fruit may be the only way we get through feeding her until she is 3-years-old. I sincerely hope not, but I just can't make any more damned baby beef bourginion which is destined for the blender.

~ H

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Time to find a hobby part deux

So here we are again, with another 6 month old baby and me itching to find something to do for myself. I was here two and half years ago with The Babe and I decided to join a soccer team. Fast forward two and a half years and I ended up playing one full season with the team, and the second season was marred by a badly sprained ankle (not from soccer) and then ended mid-season by my pregnancy with Baby Macaroni.

Now that I am looking to get back into something, the horizon has changed. My team folded at the end of the season. I could join another team but there are two things stopping me: one is the time commitment of soccer and the other is my skills. The evening practices were not too bad but the weekend games in sometimes far away locations meant I could be gone for upwards of 4-5 hours which won't work with a baby who is still exclusively breastfeeding and not taking a bottle. The other thing stopping me is that while I enjoyed myself and maintained a good attitude, I didn't enjoy that I am not a good soccer player. I'm really not. Not playing any team sports growing up means I don't know where to be on the field before or during the play. I was like a 5-year-old just starting soccer, chasing the ball wherever it went and smiling a lot. 

So now what am I to do? I'm starting to run out of options or so it seems. I love yoga, but it definitely doesn't give me a team atmosphere which I seem to like. I do run, albeit a bit slower these days, so maybe I could find a running group again. I'm not keen on a gym membership because I'm not comfortable putting Baby Macaroni in the babysitting room yet and I like to be outside if the weather is nice.

But, when reading my previous posts, is exercise still going to be the thing that's gotta give in my life for awhile? I don't want to lose my sense of self while being a mom, if that makes sense. But maybe a sport will have to wait awhile, which might be okay. I need to have things for me, not just for my girls. But I am struggling to figure out just what those things are. Other than making pretty sweet hooded towels ;)

~ H