Monthly Archives: September 2015

Balacing Time / Balanced meals

If there is one reason I’m glad to be back at work (and some days, there is only one reason), it’s that it allows me to implement schedules and routines to make every minute count.

My favourite routine is our grocery night. We shop every Tuesday immediately after work. I know it doesn’t take the whole family to grocery shop, but C loves it so much. But that also means that we’re coming home starving. Fortunately, every Wednesday, I cook twice as much supper and freeze the leftovers to be eaten the following Tuesday. As long as I remember to take it out of the freezer the night before, it means just warming it up as we unload the car. And since it’s been 6 days since we first had it, so it doesn’t feel as much like left-overs.

So far, we’ve done chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie, cheesy broccoli chicken casserole, lasagna and pulled pork. What are your favourite meals to freeze for a busy day?

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Breast-Guilt

Looking back, my entire breastfeeding career has been spurred by guilt.

We got off to a bad start, with C refusing to eat, and us having to force feed her using a syringe and a tube taped to our fingers. I’d spend half an hour trying to get her to latch, and then half an hour pumping and still feeling guilty about having to supplement with formula, terrified of even trying a bottle, which the nurses assured me would end my breastfeeding career.

Even once C figured it out, and I could put the pump away, she was ravenous, constantly eating, and I felt guilty because I begrudged her because of the pain first of cracked nipples, then mastitis (despite the constant eating) and then vasospasms.

And once that straightened out, I felt guilty that I was begrudging her constant feedings when she was barely sticking to her weight gain curve month after month, obviously needing every single one of them.

I felt guilty that I just wanted to take one afternoon, or one evening away from her, but couldn’t because once we silenced the voices of the nurses in our head and offered her a bottle, she refused it.

I felt guilty that I was beyond relieved when she started solid food at six months and could finally have time to myself without fearing that she was starving to death.

And then I felt guilty that her weight jumped the minute we started solid foods, and that maybe I wasn’t feeding her well enough (despite the fact it’s quite normal to see that jump).

And as I started to regain some independence, and C started to feed, for the first time in her life, at an age appropriate rate. And then I felt guilty I hated all of her feeds when she was younger because now she didn’t need me as much.

When it started to get close to when I needed to go back to work, and I knew I wasn’t going to pump while I was away from her, she started fussing as I tried weaning. I felt guilty for being so selfish in wanting a job (despite not actually wanting to go back to work) that I was forcing C to wean before she was ready.

And yet, days later, she was and from then on she gladly skipped feedings in favour of snacks or walks and I felt terrible that I’d raised a girl who seemed so detached from me.

And when I got back to work, and fell sick almost immediately, I felt guilty telling my coworkers I was still nursing my one year old twice a day when they’d offer cough medicine or decongestants.

But I felt guilty when I thought of getting rid of these last two feedings so my body could be just mine.

And guilty that I subject the whole house to early wake ups so I can get morning snuggles while she feeds.

I don’t know when I’ll fully wean C. I said I’d try for a year, before she was born. I made myself promise 6 weeks when we struggled at the hospital. And then 3 months, 6 months and back up to a year. And now that we’re passed the “until we transition into the new work routine” goal as well.

But unlike the last 12 months where I focused on how I was feeling through it all, I’ll try to let C set the pace.

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Things I’m Loving Friday #13

We’re fighting colds around this place and that is making life hard and easy. Basic functioning is hard but it is yet another needed distraction from missing my little bug while I’m at work. But work+cold+kid is making me really appreciate the small things.

Timothy’s chai latte

A good friend and co-worker just went on mat leave but left us her stash of Keurig cups as a parting gift. The chai latte was the best on a day when I needed something OTHER than green tea to drink.

C’s new car seat

Charlotte still had an inch or two and a few pounds left in her infant carseat, but we stopped carrying her around in it, and she started fussing and trying to sit up, so we figured we might as well buy a convertible and get it installed before it got too cold. She’s loving being able to sit up more in the car. She still hates getting into it, but once she’s all buckled, she puts her arms on the “arm rests” and is ready to go! Also handy? My parents bought one, too, so she gets to go on all kinds of adventures with them.

The Cozy Coupe (Police Edition)

C’s grandparents bought her the Police car Cozy Coupe 30th Anniversary edition for her birthday. It’s too big to have kicking around our living room, so it’s in the basement. Basement toys are always the best toys, because I rarely take her into that dungeon (note: our basement is fully finished, and is fairly bright and dry, but I love natural light!), so when Scott took a sick day and opted to keep her at home, she entertained herself for hours playing with it.

The Return of the Muppets

As soon as C became aware of the TV, I stopped watching it with her around. But when it’s 7:00, you’re tired, and your sick, and your little girl has missed you enough that if there is something to keep her attention for even 5 minutes, she’ll agree to cuddle, you turn that TV on. The Muppets deliver, as always, entertainments for the kid and the kid at heart.

New Work Friends

Three coworkers are off on maternity leave, which made come back to work even more difficult. I still find myself expecting to see one of their faces throughout the day, and when something happens, I want to joke about it with them but they’re not there. While there are a few familiar faces, I’ve been getting to know the newer faces and am starting to develop a bit of a repartee with them.

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Getting Inspiration

I strongly believe that an evening routine is necessary for a smooth morning, when you’ve got an hour to get three people fed, dressed and out the door. It has a few kinks here and there, but as Scott cleans up from supper C and I get ready for the next day. We make lunches, pick out Little C’s outfit, then my outfit and after a bit of playing, it’s time for a bath and bed.

It turns out that the order is crucial. Lunch. C’s outfit. My outfit. Bath. Bed.

Ok, sometimes I make lunches after laying out clothes. Sometimes we don’t give C a bath. Sometimes my clothes get put out after C goes to bed. But it’s never my clothes before C’s clothes for one very crucial reason:

I wouldn’t know what to wear.

Let’s review: 9 months of my saying “I don’t know what to wear! This baby is stealing my body!” Twelve months of “I don’t know what to wear! This baby spits up on everything!” And now “I don’t know what to wear! Who am I without this baby?”

Separation anxiety is high in this house. During the week, I thought it was just me, but through the weekend, it became obvious that everyone is struggling with this new arrangement. The last thing we need is for a clothing issue to rear up in the morning and throw the entirely too precariously balanced morning off the deep end.

My solution is to choose an outfit for my daughter that is cute, and try to pull inspiration from that. Some days, we’re wearing the same items (tweed dresses). Some days, we’re wearing the same colour palette (and those days, even Scott sometimes gets in on the fun). Other days, it’s a loose inspiration, but it’s nice to have a jumping off point.

Three of my coworkers, and my closest “work friends” left on maternity leave while I was off, so while we’re finally a fully staffed office again, there are lots of people there on term contracts. It’s quiet. It’s lonely. But from time to time, I catch my reflection in a window or a mirror and while I haven’t quite navigated this new identity of “mother” and “career person,” and so don’t always like what I am wearing. But I feel good, because I see C’s outfit reflected in mine. Yes, its weird. Yes, it’s silly, but these days every little bit counts.

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Things I’m Loving Friday #12

Guys, I made it through the week. I didn’t even cry at work once! While leaving was hard, I was surprised that the next hardest wasn’t being at work, it was the evenings. I spent the evenings racked with guilt about having been gone all day, and dread about having to leave again the next day. But the week wasn’t all bad! After all, we did have Little C’s birthday! So in honour of her, here is my Little C inspired list

Birthday Cake

I wasn’t convinced my egg-free cake was edible, so we bought a “back up” cake for the egg-eaters in the crowd. That meant on a week when all I wanted to do was eat my feelings, I could have some frosting with it too! And while she wasn’t into ice cream, Little C is all about the cake (egg-free version) too!

Streamers

I didn’t want to go all crazy with decorations, so I limited myself to streamers and balloons. Balloons kept giving me cold sweats because of their choking hazards, but the streamers were quick and easy to use and added wonderful pops of colour.

Seeing Change

After taking a picture of C every month in the same spot, I printed them all, and hung them on the wall. Every time I walked passed (because, let’s face it, undecorating is less fun than decorating), it made me smile. And C, well, she’s still in her wonderfully vain phase and loved it too.

Welcome Home Waves

It used to be when I came home from the grocery store, or a haircut, C would barely look up from where she was playing. Each day this week, her smiles and waves have increased significantly when she sees me walk in. She seems to be a fan of it too.

Snuggles

Whether it’s being away all day, or her 1 year old shots, I actually got to cuddle my little girl for almost 10 minutes on the couch. It was pretty great. Usually I’m lucky if I get 2 minutes. She even voluntarily snuggled in!

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Happy Birthday C

My little girl turned 1 this morning.

The other night, I was telling Scott about the cliché: “To be a mother is to have your heart walk forever outside your body” and how annoying it was to know that it is true. However, as Romantic as the sentiment may be, it is truly Gothic. My sweet girl is fiercely independent. There are times when she barely offers me a quick hug when I leave. She’ll push me away at bedtime some nights to fall asleep in the crib on her own. She’ll insist on feeding the sloppy oatmeal to herself. At these times, it can often feel as though your heart has been plunged from your chest and the gaping wound is exposing your entrails.

But as gut-wrenching as it is, every moment (even during those first three months where a day seemed to last a week, and yet an hour of sleep passed in a blink) has been worth it. I miss my little squishy newborn, but I am so excited to see where life takes her.

And where ever she goes, she’ll always take my heart with her.

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Things I’m Loving Friday #11

There was a lot of good this week, possibly because I was actively trying savour every moment. That, of course, doesn’t mean that some of these aren’t trivial.

Online Shopping

I needed to buy a computer monitor, a lunch bag, new clothes and shoes for work, and cake icing tools without spending my whole day in traffic. Thank you internet (and UPS). Seeing family

For the first time in, I figure, 8 years all of my dad’s brothers were in the same place at the same time. Since they’re spread all the way south to Maryland and all the way north to Yukon, it usually takes a lot of finagling to get it into place, but it sounds like last weekend, it came together serendipitously.

Baby High Tops

C is in that weird stage where she can’t walk well enough to justify real shoes, but it’s getting too cold for just socks on some morning walks. Plus, socks get dirty so quickly outside. So I bought C some cute little high tops mostly for show. Too cute.

Kisses from C

So yesterday afternoon, my entire life as a mother was taken to the next level. I’ve seen C walk. I’ve had kisses from C. But yesterday was the first time she walk over to me and gave me a kiss. It was a big. It was sloppy. It had much too much tongue for my liking, but it was one of those crystallizing moments where you know you’ve done something right.

Canadian Maternity Leave Rights

When C was 3 months old, I was ready to go back to work. I wanted to be able to accomplish something in the day that didn’t involve puke, pee or poop. Actually, scratch that. I would have loved to actually be able to puke, pee or poop without someone needing me. Working seemed to be the best option. But in Canada, between maternity leave and parental leave, we get a glorious 52 weeks. Now at 12 months, I don’t want to go back. While I feel like it might have been easier to go back at 3 months, I wouldn’t give up the whole 12 months for anything. As much as I don’t want to go back, I know after a few weeks, I’ll be getting into a good rhythm and I’ll appreciate being able to have a career and be a mother.

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48 is greater than 84

C sleeps about 10 hours a night. She naps about 2 hours a day. That leaves 12 hours a day when she is awake, and for about 9-10 of them, it’s been just her and I. I discovered fairly early on that days went better for me if there was always something we had to do each day, usually outside of the house (and that is part of the reason I feel it’s in our best interest for me to go to work). Sometimes it was taking a walk or going on play dates. Other times, it was grocery shopping or running errands. Similarly, when we were at home, there were times we were playing together and there were times I was trying to get something done. There were even times when I’d leave her with Scott, or take her to my parents to get things done without her. Regardless of what we were doing, I was mindful to keep C safe, keep her entertained and, of course, keep her fed. But she didn’t always have 100% of my attention. I mean, how often have I reached for my phone even when playing tea party with her? I’ve never really felt all that guilty as long as she still feels loved at the end of the day. After all, 84 hours is a lot of time in one week to focus on one person, even if she is quite possibly the world’s cutest girl.

Starting next week, C will still likely sleep about 10 hours a night. She’ll still likely nap about 2 hours a day. And she’ll still be awake for the remaining 12 hours a day. But instead of having 84 hours of awake time together in one week, we only have 48 hours. On the one hand, I’m gutted that I’m losing almost half my “C” time. I have no idea how to wrap my brain around being away from her roughly 50 hours a week. I have no idea how to balance the household tasks I’ll still have to do and paying attention to C. I’m hoping that we’ll start doing a better job of cleaning up after ourselves (and having C out of the house 10 hours a day will likely cut down on the mess strewn throughout the place), maximizing productivity when she is asleep, and finding new strategies for things like suppers (cooking twice as much, and freezing the rest. I used to do that all the time in university, I don’t know why I stopped!).

Those 48 hours are going to go by quickly each week, but I’m going to make damn sure that I capitalize on them as much as possible, whether it means turning off the cell phone, letting the dust build up or listening to the song of that stupid teapot she loves one more time. And hopefully at the end of the week, 48 hours of quality time will be just as good, if not better, than the 84 hours we’ve enjoyed these last 12 months.

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Things I’m Loving Friday #10

Starting this post just a little after 1am because suddenly my child is forgetting that “through the night” means “the best thing ever.” She goes back down fairly easily but me? Not so much.

Lakes

With anywhere from 35,000 to 100,000 lakes (the Internet is contradictory) in my home province and countless others just across the borders, day trips to the lake happen, apparently, often around here! Last Thursday, we went to St Malo. Friday, Matlock (Lake Winnipeg). Saturday, we drove out to my in-laws cabin at Lake of the Woods. Time disappears when you’re in the water. Plus, seeing a baby fall asleep on a boat is pretty cute.

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Starbucks in walking distance

Whatever magic baby hormones that made my knees and hips not hurt and allowed me to ingest caffeine like a normal person have now left my system. I’m back down to being a “one cup a week” coffee drinker. And if I need that one cup, it better be good. Hello Starbucks! I love that the nearest one is in walking distance and located conveniently in our nearest grocery store so I can get bread, apples and Starbucks without having to load and unload the kid 100 times. 

Finding the right paint colour in one try

Ok, I may have picked up a few dozen different shades of grey in that one try but there was clearly a standout colour for our kitchen that goes perfectly with everything… The adjacent rooms, the cupboard and the appliances. It’s not a perfect fit with the flooring but it’s good enough.

C’s Birthday Gift

You remember point one from today? All those beaches? The one thing missing was a wagon. While we know we have to upgrade our car before next summer (we can either fit a tent or a toddler in our car but not both), we are trying to avoid the minivan so we had to be pragmatic in wagon choices. We bought C this collapsible wagon off Amazon and were hesitant since it’s not technically designed for kids. But it arrived and it blew our minds. They thought of every detail, like a self-storing pocket for the canopy, with rails that slide out of the frame, rather than needing to be attached and special little places to lock the handle upright (when fully set up) or down (when collapsed so it’s self standing). The only thing that would have been nice was locks for the all-terrain wheels that don’t feel so nice rolling over toes. 

Naps

Oh my goodness, I love that my child naps. Sure, not perfectly, and not all the time, but those times that we get a good nap in, it’s proof there is a deity above looking out for me. While C may have settled relatively easily at 1 last night, a thunderstorm kept me from falling back asleep easily. And once I did fall asleep, the thunder made for terrifying sound effects for nightmares, which naturally lead to me having to walk down the hallway and check to make sure that C hadn’t been shot to death, and that the whole front of my house was not riddled with bullet holes. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. I planned my Starbucks/Grocery trip for right before nap time so I could sit with my coffee and stare mindlessly into a computer screen for at least 5 uninterrupted minutes. It’s totally the highlight of my day.

Categories: The new identity, Things I'm Loving Friday | 3 Comments

Currently: In September

Currently September

Linking up with Anne and Jenna again this month!

Reading: Open Secrets by Alice Munro. It’s a beautifully written set of short stories.

Making: Hooded towels for friend’s babies. I don’t have the greatest sewing skills, but I like making things for people that they might actually use. My sister started making hooded towels, and now I’ve started. I like trying to personalize each one, whether it’s a pair of ears for a cat-loving family, or a spikey tail for a dino-loving little boy. It adds some creativity to the project.

Pinning: Recipes for freezer meals, crock pot meals, quick one-pot meals. That’s right, folks, I’m heading back to work soon and life is going to get real busy around here.

Anticipating: Little C turning O-N-E! We’re two weeks away from the official day and she is seeming so much taller and smarter every day.

Loving: These last days with C. I’m trying to soak up every minute. I know she doesn’t tragically disappear from my life when I go back to work, but I’m not always logical when it comes to emotional issues. I can’t wrap my head around a version of my life where she exists AND I work.

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