countdown to christmas

I blogged for The Chronicle Herald on Wednesday about wanting to start a Christmas countdown tradition in our home. The idea that I liked best, of out all of the great ones I found on Pinterest, was a holiday activity for each day of December.

Here’s what we’re planning:
December 1: Sing Christmas songs.
December 2: Send letter to Santa here.
December 3: Bake Christmas cookies.
December 4: Watch Elf on CBC.
December 5: Colour Christmas pictures.
December 6: Make paper ornaments.
December 7: Take festive family photos.
December 8: Shop for stocking stuffers.
December 9: Send Christmas cards officially from our new address.
December 10: Deck the halls in our new home!
December 11: Watch Home Alone on CBC.
December 12: Make DIY Christmas gifts for friends.
December 13: Read Christmas stories.
December 14: Take an evening drive to look at Christmas lights.
December 15: Make paper snowflakes.
December 16: Go on a winter walk.
December 17: Do a good deed.
December 18: Build a snowman (weather permitting) or make an indoor version.
December 19: Make snow angels, inside or out.
December 20: Play outside.
December 21: Sip hot chocolate with candy cane stir sticks.
December 22: Read Christmas more stories.
December 23: Drive home for the holidays! Listen to lots of Christmas music along the way!
December 24-29: Celebrate Christmas with family.
December 30: Make a list of family plans and resolutions for 2012.
December 31: Stay up late, enjoy treats, and ring in the new year as a family.
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one


Dear Jacob,

You are the most amazing person I have ever known. The last year has been a privlidge, a challenge, an overwhelming experience, a joy, and the best of my life so far. You are clever and warm and curious and delicious. I hope that I have taught you and cared for you in the best way possible.

Happy Birthday, mister boy.
I love you with all my heart,
Muma

barely a baby anymore

If you scroll way down to the bottom of this page, you’ll see that there’s a little ticker keeping track of Jacob’s age. Today it says 11 months, three weeks and five days. Gulp. On Sunday, he’ll be one year old. Why do I get choked up when I type that? I might be losing my mind.

Anyway, as we head into the final countdown to this very exciting day, I thought I’d share some of our baby faves of the past year. Things we love, things Jacob loves and the practical things that none of us could do without.
The Miracle Blanket. Truly a miracle. Jacob was always too strong to stay in even the tightest swaddle blanket, but the miracle blanket kept him contained, preventing him from flailing his arms and waking himself up.
Playtex VentAire Bottles. These are our lifesavers because they’re the only bottles Jacob would tolerate. We tried many brands before settling on these ones and it’s been smooth sailing since.
The Best Nursing Pillow Ever. I’m sad to say that I don’t know the brand, since it has no tags, but it was purchased at the Cape Breton Baby Company and it is awesome.
Safety First Kirby Inflatable Tub. We originally had one of those big, moulded white tubs that are sold at any baby outlet, which worked great, but once Jacob was too long for it, we had to spend the time and waste the water to fill our tub up three inches for him to bathe. Plus, his little nekked butt slipped around everywhere. This inflatable alternative is great. It keeps him from standing up, he’s more comfortable and safe, plus it doubles as a kiddie pool outside in the summer. Next time, we agree that we’ll use this tub from day one. Also, between babies, we can deflate it and fold it up and out of sight.

Fisher Price My Little Lamb Cradle ‘n’ Swing. This swing was awesome. Jacob loved to sway side to side or back and forth. He could be in it freely or swaddled. It was great for naps in the early days, or to be able to put him down comfortable for relaxed awake time. It’s one of the big things we don’t mind storing because we’ll know we’ll use it plenty next time.
And because this really got me thinking, here are a few things we never used:
Baby towels. You can get the boy dried off much more efficiently by wrapping him up in a big, adult-sized bath towel.
Baby bathrobe. A big sorry to the wonderful person who bought it for us, but it was just something we didn’t have much use for. And I think that person will agree that we’d rather see a nekked baby bum crawling around the house anyway.
Pee-Pee Teepee. While these things are super cute and pretty hilarious, they’re really not useful for keeping that powerful stream under wraps. If you’re going to get sprayed, you might as well grab that big bath towel for cover.
And since I’m still going, how about some things that are just so-so. We use it, but it’s not awesome, and we might ditch it before the next baby comes:
Diaper Genie. Yes, it keeps the stink contained, but really, you could put them in a regular garbage can and take it out once a day. It’s not a huge chore. Emptying and changing the bag system in the Diaper Genie is more of a pain, plus the inserts cost extra moolah.
An actual diaper bag. These bags are kind of a right of passage for new Mums. I get that. I had one and I loved it. Now though, I prefer to carry one of my own bags, most of which are plenty big enough for a few spare items like a couple diapers, small wipes case, a sippy cup and a baggie of snacks.
The Bumbo. We did like it, but Jacob was too big for it really early in life. Once he was semi-mobile, he had no interest in being confined in it, either. It’s also awkward to transport or store. We’ll hang on to it, for sure, but it’s not something I’m really in love with.
OK, folks. Spill it. Baby stuff loves? Baby stuff hates? And … go.

growing by the minute: 11 months

Better late than never. Time feels so fleeting to me right now. I just want to grab on to each hour and hold onto it for dear life. I had no idea that this would be such an emotional time — maybe the most emotional since the week Jacob was born. From being back to work to ending breastfeeding, a lot is changing around here.


And soon this little monster isn’t going to be a baby. He’ll be a toddler. One year old.

Vital stats: His growth is definitely slowing. He went to the doctor today with Dada to deal with a pesky ear ache and we found out that he is only 22 lbs., 3 oz. That’s only a slight increase from his weight at nine months, putting him in the 50th percentile. He’s lengthening though, and still in the 90th percentile for height. Oh, and that melon, 95th percentile.
Milestones & firsts: We find it so adorable that Jacob has different waves for hi and bye, though he only uses them when he wants to. He’s doing things less on demand now and more when he really means it. This makes me sad because I used to be able to get kisses whenever I wanted, and now I have to earn them.

Husband has taught J so much since they’ve been home together this summer. Some of our boy’s new tricks include waving his fist in a circular motion while we sing the first verse of the wheels on the bus.


Teeth: Four and more coming! It’s been a somewhat rough month of teething, but now Jacob has his two top centre teeth and there’s at least one more trying to push through beside it.

Speech: Jacob has added a couple words to his vocabulary, beyond Mama and Dada, which he now says with distinction. He can also say Dog and Duck. They sound similar, but are different when he’s refering to different things. So far, ducks are always ducks, but lots of four-legged furry things are called dogs. Meh. We take what we can get.

Zzzzzzz: Husband has taken over nighttime feeding duties lately, since I’m no longer breastfeeding. Jacob’s still sometimes waking once per night (night = a 12-hour period, usually from 6:30 pm to 6:30 am) to have a few ounces of formula, though sometimes he’ll just settle himself back to sleep.

Om nom nom: We’ve been feeding Jacob based on what we’re eating. He’s especially loving peaches and nectarines when he can hold the whole thing himself. He likes taking big juicy bites and squints his eyes when its sour. The kid loves anything that’s sour, like raspberries blended and frozen into popcicle form.

Likes & dislikes: Jacob is the opposite of a homebody. He loves to get out and do things. He and Dada take regular trips to the library for story time, or just to play and take out new books.


Challenges: Screaming. We went through this stage before and it seems to be rearing its ugly head again. Husband mentioned it to the doctor, who assures us it’s just his way of exercising his voice.

Special moments: I tried to clear my mind and focus entirely on Jacod during our last breastfeeding sessions. I didn’t allow myself to be distracted by my phone or eReader. I just watched him, talked to him and snuggled him close.

We’re loving watching Jacob develop. He seems to change daily lately, which is exciting and scary at the same time. He’s growing up so fast.

mom win

I was gone from home for four nights when I went to Chicago last week. Four. That’s a long time in baby world. Long long. Lovely friend A dropped me off around 11:30 pm Monday evening and all I wanted to do was climb over the rail and crawl into J’s crib and snuggle him all over. I smoothed his back while he slept soundly and I took in the baby smell in his nursery. SO happy to be home.

Husband and I stayed up for a bit, giving each other weekend re-caps, and then I heard a soft cry, and for the first time in almost a year, I was thrilled that Jacob was awake in the middle of the night. I made a beeline for his room, so excited to scoop him into my arms. As I got closer to his crib, I realized this was no ordinary wake-up we were dealing with. I flipped on the light to discover that my sweet boy was covered, head-to-toe, in vomit. The look on his face could have shatter the hardest of hearts … he was so sleepy and upset from his admittedly rude awakening, but when he saw me, his eyes perked and a smile slowly spread across his face. Despite the layer of smelly disgusting that covered him and his bed, I picked him up and held him close. He instantly laid his head down on my chest and I felt his whole body relax. I held him and rocked him for a while before gently cleaning up my half-asleep boy. I snuggled him in and gave him part of a bottle to help soothe his upset tummy, and he fell back to sleep. I laid him back into his re-made crib and smoothed his back once more.

I went back to our room and peeled off my pjs, which were no longer in sleeping condition to say the least. I could’ve been covered in worse and I wouldn’t have cared. The poor little sickie just needed his Mama. And did it ever feel good.

mom fails

A mom fail moment.

Just one, really? If you’ve been a mother for more than 15 seconds, you know that, while mom fails vary in severity, they are a fairly often occurrence. Such is life. We all strive to do our best, but none of us are perfect. Not even you, and definitely not me. But when it comes to the special privilege of executing mom fails, I think the first one is probably the worst one. The first time you think you’ve done something wrong feels terrible.

For me, it was during the first week that Jacob was at home with us. I was buckling my sleeping baby into his car seat, as carefully as I could, gently tucking in his teeny tiny baby limbs. Then, like a bolt of lightening, he was awake. And wailing. Loudly. What the …? I looked down and realized I had pinched his itty bitty finger in one of the clasps on his car seat. It didn’t break the skin, but it certainly startled him awake, and it nearly broke my heart. Knowing that he was crying because of something I’d done. Awful.

The next time was several weeks later, when I was trimming his finger nails. And he was again, sleeping. In my haste to get it done before he woke. I snipped a bit too far, and broke the tiniest bit of skin, which didn’t even really bleed, but he wailed once more, and I scooped him up and smothered him with apology kisses.

Hey, it happens. I don’t think I’ve inflicted too many more fails on him since those initial two, but I’m always on the look out for potential gaffes. But the moral of the story? You’re still the Mama, and, thankfully, those sweet little faces love you anyway.

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer’s prompt.

a journey.

46 weeks.

323 days.

And now, we’re finished.

This weekend, I stopped breastfeeding.

I’m overwhelmed. I’m sad that it’s over. I’m proud that I wanted to do it, and grateful that I was able to for almost a year.

I marvel at my fortune — breastfeeding came relatively easy for both myself and Jacob, and (after those first few initially, challenging days) it quickly became one of my favourite aspects of new motherhood. Most nights I didn’t even mind getting out of bed to feed him. I looked forward to that quiet time, just him and me.

When I went back to work in mid-June, I decided to continue breastfeeding for as long as I could. I quickly realized, though, that not pumping meant that I had a self-imposed deadline — a trip to Chicago for four nights, for which I’m leaving on August 18. So, we started introducing more formula, but gradually. Jacob wasn’t too interested at first, but over the past four weeks, he’s gotten quite comfortable snuggling in with Dada for pre-nap and bedtime bottle sessions. By the end of last week, he was even willing to take a bottle from me, so I knew he was ready for a full transition.

Having the experience to nurse Jacob for almost a year changed me. It forced me to put modesty and self consciousness on the back burner and helped me focus on selflessness.

Having had this experience, there are a few things I’ll do differently next time …

[+] I won’t chart every moment of feeding for a month. Yes, I did it for a month. I wrote down when he nursed, for how long, which side, everything. I think I used it as a bit of a crutch, to keep us on a schedule, to remind myself that I was doing this motherhood thing right. Next time I’ll trust my instincts, and my baby’s signals.

[+] I won’t waste money on nursing tops. Regular clothes work fine, for the most part.

[+] I will invest in great nursing bras. I bought a couple cheapies when I was still pregnant and they did not do the job. Support is key.

[+] I will drink more water. Nursing makes you crazy thirsty, and I know I didn’t always hydrate properly while breastfeeding Jacob.

I know I’m going to miss that time that only I could provide for Jacob, I’m willing to admit that I’m happy to share the bedtime feedings with Husband and I’m glad to have more of my independence back.

What did you love/not love about breastfeeding? Do you have any nursing stories or advice to share?

all growed up

A moment you realized your child is growing up.

Look at those bangs …

Four days shy of being 10 months old, I finally caved to Husband’s suggestions and we decided to take Jacob to get his hair trimmed.
Not without giving him a full-fledged mohawk first …


Much better! So handsome!


Somehow my baby is turning into a little boy. When did that happen?

***

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writer’s prompt.

a day in the life

I’m not sure why I haven’t done one of these posts already. Most of my fave mommy bloggers have shared insights into their routines. Since I’m back to work now, I’m going to share a pretty typical Saturday. This is longgg, but, hey, it’s real life.

6:15 am: Jacob is awake and saying so, loudly, from his crib. He’s not crying exactly, but he definitely isn’t impressed. This is one of my favourite moments of the day, because when I walk through his bedroom door, his sour face turns into a huge grin. It’s pretty awesome to be loved like that. He’s standing and starts to wildly slap the side of his crib as I approach, laughing. I scoop him up and nurse him briefly. During the week, I usually don’t nurse him in the morning. It depends if he woke up to nurse during the night or not. We’re slowly starting the weaning process, but that’s a topic for another time. Today, he’s distracted from his first snack of the morning by his infectious happiness. He keeps smiling up at me and I urge him to continue for a few more minutes. When he’s had enough, I ask “Where’s Dada?” and he whips his head toward the door. I say, “Let’s go find him!” and we sneak into our bedroom where he pounces on Husband. “Good morning, mister boy!” is his daily greeting to Jacob. We spend some quiet time in bed. Jacob scales the headboard to look out the window as he does every day lately. He squeels at the sounds of birds chirping and dogs barking outside.

6:30 am: We all journey into our open-concept kitchen-living room area. Husband puts Jacob down on the floor and the baby starts to consider what kinds of mischief he can get into, crawling around the furniture, picking up and disgarding toys in his wake. Husband makes the coffee while I start to organize breakfast and Jacob scoots around underfoot. Jacob’s having leftover French toast, diced pairs and lots of water. Husband and I are just having bagels today.

7 am to 8 am: Husband and I trade off between feeding Jacob and feeding ourselves. It’s become so easy, this part of our day. It just flows. He does one thing, I do another, and it’s all unspoken, yet somehow it all gets done. Husband goes to grab a quick shower, so I wipe Jacob’s messy hands and face and we head to the play area in the living room. Jacob stands at his activity table, making music and bobbing his head and hips to the sounds. I sing a few songs — we’re stuck on Baby Beluga and Down by the Bay at the moment. Husband returns and I take my chance to get ready for the day. As I leave them, they’re playing catch with a big beach ball and Jacob is laughing hysterically each time the ball slaps the floor and Husband shouts, “Ouchie!” They have the same sense of humour. God, help me.

8:15 am: Jacob’s ready for his morning nap. This is his most predictable time of day; he almost always wants to nap exactly two hours after he woke up for the day. Since I can’t feed him during the day on weekdays, I try not to do it on the weekends either because that would be confusing for his, albiet flexible, routine. Husband takes him to his room with a couple ounces of formula. They reada couple books and Jacob goes into his crib awake, but drowsy. He’s asleep within five minutes.

Now, Husband and I clean up the breakfast mess, do a load of laundry, and tidy Jacob’s toys. It’s a cool, cloudy morning, so we veg on the couch and watch a couple reruns of The Big Bang Theory on the PVR. He catches up on sports online and I draft a couple blog posts. We both have another cup of coffee.
9:30 am: Jacob’s awake. Not a great nap, but long enough that he’s in a great mood when he wakes up. We change his diaper and dress him for the day. I grab our pre-packed diaper bag and we all head out for some errands. We’d usually put him back in his highchair for a snack at this point, but instead we bring a few snacks for the road, including mum mums and a sippy cup of water.

10 am: We’re at Costco just as it opens in hopes to avoid the weekend infestation of people. Jacob loves Costco. LOVES. I don’t know if it’s the super huge cart that he rides in, or the millions of people who stop and say hello to him or give him a smile and a wave, but the kid is on cloud nine. Fine by us, makes shopping a breeze. We are efficient, get what we need and get out.

10:45 am: We still managed to spend nearly an hour from start to finish in Costco, so it’s on to Walmart for a few more things, including diapers, which are on sale, plus I have a coupon, of course (if you are a new or soon-to-be mum, take my advice: never buy diapers at full price). We also find an adjustable pair of sandals to fit our boy who was blessed with what we like to call “meatball feet” … you know, pretty much as thick as they are long. On clearence for $9. Deal. We throw a few more odds and ends into our cart and beeline for the checkout as Jacob’s deciding he’s had enough retail therapy for the day. I finish our transaction as the boys take a walk outside.

11:30 am: Home again from a successful outing. Jacob is glad to be home and shows us so by crawling like a marathoner into his room. We call his name and he peeks out and laughs. What a joker. “What are you doing?!” I call and he squeels and takes off into the bathroom. We recently caught him attempting to crawl in for a toilet swimming lesson, so we invested in an $8 lid lock. Works like a charm. Now he just uses the firmly closed cover as a big drum. Within seconds he’s pulled himself up and I hear the familiar bang, bang, bang on the plastic lid. I retrieve him from his impromptu concert and deposit him into his highchair for lunch. On his menu: chic peas, green peas, bits of cheese, more diced pears and some yogurt. He’s not so interested in the green peas today and most of them end up on the floor. Once he seems satisfied (read: refusing to eat another bite), he is released from the clutches of his chair. He’s less interested in being solo on the floor and demands my company, so Husband takes care of clearing the mess and Jacob and I retire to the living room again for some Wiggles.

12:30 pm: Time for nap No. 2. This nap usually occurs about three hours after the wake up from the first nap, but it isn’t as dependable as nap No. 1. Today, though, Jacob is exhibiting his classic eye-rubbing, long-yawning signs. After a bit more formula, he’s put in his crib awake. He sleeps during naps and at night with either music playing or white noise provided by a static station on the radio. He’s not as interested in sleep as he was this morning and cries in protest. We can see in the video monitor that he’s sitting up. Wait, no, he’s standing. He protests for a couple minutes and just when I’m thinking of going in to soothe him a bit, the cries start to stagger, mixed with periods of quiet or soft babbling. We hold off going into his room, and he transitions quickly from standing to sprawled out on his belly. In less than five minutes total, he’s snoozing. It doesn’t sound like long, but if you’ve been witness to a crying baby, every minute can feel like an hour. Lately, since I miss out on naptime through the week, I find I want to go in sooner than I should. When I resist the urge, I’m almost always glad that I did. He’s doing very well at getting to sleep on his own, and we’re very thankful.

12:30 to 2:30 pm: Husband heads out for a round of golf with a neighbour. Lovely friend A comes over to visit. She and I chat in the kitchen while I make a batch of muffins and then catch up on a few TV shows that were saved during the week (titles of which shall remain nameless, to protect our dignity coughPrettyLittleLiarsandTheBachelorettecough).

2:30 pm: Jacob is awake from a great nap. He’s happy to see Auntie A and she’s equally delighted to see him as she fetches him from his crib. They play and I take some photos. I used to take so many pictures of Jacob when I was on maternity leave, but there are a lot fewer now that I’m not staging photoshoots during the day. I try to make up for it on the weekends. The three of us decide to take a walk so we load Jake into his stroller and head out. We take our picnic blanket along and spread out at a nearby playground. Jacob swings and I take some more photos. We all enjoy some watermelon. Jacob explores the grass and watches other kids playing. On our walk back home, Jacob is lulled to sleep from the vibration of the stroller on the sidewalk.

4:30 pm: We’re back home and A is happy to play with Jakey while I get supper organized. I’m not ashamed to say that I love having someone else around to take over with Jacob while I cook dinner. It’s one of those little Muma’s time-out things I really enjoy. Life is much easier now that I don’t bother with purees and Jacob eats mostly the same things we eat. I make simple pasta with tomato sauce and cottage cheese mixed in for Jacob; I jazz up the adult sauce with veggies and chicken for the meat eaters. Husband returns home and we all eat dinner. Jacob makes a huge mess with this meal so he is just dressed in a diaper, which leads to yet another photo op — orange tinted sauce spread over his hands and face.

5:30 pm: Into the tub with you, dirty kid. We soap him up from head to toe, give a quick rinse and out he comes. I like to let him crawl around naked for a bit after his bath. I think it’s adorable; he thinks it’s hilarious. Win-win. In the hot weather, he sleeps in a T-shirt onesie or just in his diaper. I’m looking forward to the fall, though, because miss his snuggly footie pjs.

6 pm to 7 pm: The boy gets to play a bit more before bed. Sometimes we dance around the house to some mellow songs or read some books. Once he’s completely tired out, I take him for some Mama time. I nurse him and talk to him. He usually ends up falling asleep on me while he has his bedtime snack. I hoist him up on me, snuggle him up and pat his back. He usually wakes as I lay him in his crib, but he wraps his arm around his buddy, Hooey (from Oh Say Can You Say?) and settles. I tiptoe out of the room and close the door. I click the monitor on occasionally to check, but generally he’s asleep within five minutes.

7 pm to 10 pm: Our Saturday nights aren’t exactly wild and crazy lately, but that’s fine by us. We recently got a Netflix subscription and we’ve been enjoying watching some oldie-but-goodie movies. Even on Jacob’s crankiest days, we usually end our evening by talking about him and how lucky we are. We just can’t help it. We marvel at how our lives have changed, mainly for the better. We turn on the monitor to see what kind of crazy position he’s sleeping in — he’s flat on his back with his arms and legs flung out. Makes us laugh. What a nice boy.