When you think about it, it’s unbelievable the distances that we can travel nowadays. Places that even a few generations ago seemed inconceivably far can now be reached by spending a handful of hours in a floating metal tube. But air travel isn’t all pretty – especially when you’ve been cooped up for 16+ hours. Here were some of the nice and not-so-nice moments from our recent flights.
Glamour: LOUNGE access complete with hot shower facilities, laksa and sesame balls. And lots of Andy-friendly food as pictured below.
Grit: the state of once-clean bathrooms by the end of a direct YYZ > HKG flight
Glamour: the baby set-up on Cathay Pacific, complete with bassinet, diaper care package, and baby food set (now if only Andy would actually sleep in the bassinet)
Grit: questionable airline food. Especially when you see where it comes from in the galleys.
Glamour: personal entertainment devices and catching up on fairly recent releases
Grit: having those same entertainment devices about 10 inches from your face because the person in front of you has reclined back so far
On the whole, our flight from Toronto to Hong Kong was quite smooth. Andy didn’t sleep all that much, but he was in really good spirits still. And I sat beside a really nice couple from Niagara who are chicken farmers and had a connecting 10-hour flight to Auckland prior to getting on a cruise. They were the best.
Week 41. Not only did this week mark Andy’s first Christmas, but Andy, who was one week overdue, has officially been in the world longer than he was in the womb. Here’s a flashback to nine months ago!
It was a bit of a tough week for us. We ventured down to Toronto again this week to spend time with some extended family. I mentioned in our last weekly update that Andy had a fever. It continued to get worse while we were away, spiking at over 40.5 degrees one night. That was scary. The heat came with a side of irritability and general discontentment, and we found ourselves not knowing what fussiness was due to him being sick and what fussiness was just him being naughty. That made responding to his cries and screams really tricky.
As we wrap up the year and start thinking about 2016, I find myself reflecting on the past nine and a half months, and how fortunate I am to be where I am.
Let me explain.
To the best of my knowledge, all working women in Canada, myself included, have access to paid parental leave. For me, the first eighteen days of this was spent resting at home, nesting, and getting ready for Andy’s impending arrival (I hadn’t counted on him being late). Following that, I have had the opportunity to spend time at home with my son, playing, eating, learning, and sleeping. Many of these days were physically and emotionally taxing, but what energy I did have, I was able to spend on taking care of my growing child.
If I were living south of the border, this would be a very different story.
I’ve had both friends and family expect their first child this year in the US, and the story they tell of their first year is vastly different. On forums and blogs, I’ve read a fair bit about what leave is like for working mothers in America. Then I watched this TED talk.
It is absurd to me that a global superpower like the US is not providing paid leave for parents, and that women – women who are trying to recover from the trauma of childbirth, learn how to care for an infant, and juggle a new emotional landscape – are feeling like they need to return to work before they are ready. For the sake of parents and children across America, something needs to change.
I write to you from our cozy bed – so late in the week that it’s actually the next week – where I am joined by not one, but two sick boys! Andy has a fever, which may or may not be a side effect of his teething (it’s been bothering him on and off this week) and Kelvin is fighting a stomach bug. Both of them are currently asleep. Needless to say, the canker sore that has been pestering me the last few days is the small fry in this bigger picture.
We are getting really close to the tipping point at which Andy has spent more time out of the womb than in it. It’s been a pretty eventful week for us, full of ups and downs and some big decisions (like deciding not to put Andy into full time daycare until after the summer), but we are really looking forward to the next two weeks where we will be able to just hang out as a family more.
Andy has been spending more time with his paternal grandparents, so that has freed me up to tackle some of the household chores and projects that have been pushed to the back burner. Like sending out our annual Christmas update. And cleaning those pesky bathrooms.
Our little monkey continues to discover new things about the world. He really likes to stand on his tip toes now and we often find him crawling under and around things…and hanging out on the carpet under the dining room table.
With only two months left in my maternity leave, it’s time to start prepping for my return to work. Unlike at the start of my leave, I’ve taken a pretty big step back from professional reading (except for blogs) and Twitter chats over the last few months, but it’s time to get back into the groove. I have followed educator and design thinking advocate John Spencer for quite some time now, and he recently launched the Creative Classroom Academy, so I’m looking forward to completing some courses on there (starting with the Genius Hour course). I’m excited but also a little apprehensive for what school/home integration will look like now that Andy is here, but here’s hoping this new perspective will make me both a better teacher and a better mother.
We head to Toronto again tomorrow for some family adventures. Hoping our sick little clan is feeling more up to it tomorrow!
This post is coming a little later than usual, but it’s been busy! And can you believe it is already December? Where has this year gone?
Last Sunday, we went to one of our favourite local restaurants for some lunch with friends, and we ordered from the kids’ menu for the first time for Andy! He had a cheese omelette and he loved it. 1/4 of it ended up in his mouth, another 1/4 ended up on the floor, and the remaining half was boxed up for consumption at home. The photo below of Andy was taken by one of or friends visiting from out of town!
We have been trying some new things with Andy sleepwise. We had a few brutal nights this week and eventually I cracked and asked one of my mom friends for some advice. She lent me The Sleepeasy Solution, which I’ve been reading through and we’ve been trying to be a little bit more consistent with Andy’s bedtime routine. It has helped! And today for the first time, Kelvin was the one to put him to bed, with a bottle. It is a little crazy to think that for the last (close to) 9 months, I have been nursing Andy and to sleep every single night. I don’t know that I’ve ever done anything as consistently as that…He didn’t drink as much as expected so I’m not surprised that he needed a top up just now, but we will see whether this lasts him through the rest of the night!
Thursday was a particularly social day for him, with a walk and two play dates. It’s been so nice to have other families in the neighbourhood that we can visit just by walking. This bodes well for sending Andy to play with the neighbourhood children in the future!
As for us, we spent a fairly sizeable portion of our evening tonight trying new configurations in our living room, just to realize that the one we had originally was the only one that made sense. Maybe that’s why we did it…
We also put up some more art and have plans to put our Canadianist posts (printed by our friend Vince over at Everlovin’ Press) along our stairwell. Here they are hanging out on the landing waiting to be hung.
Reading update – I have around 6 books on the go right now. Terrible idea. I wish there was a way to keep my name in the reservation queue at the library but to let a few people go ahead of me.
I came across this post today about one mother’s tendency to wish her baby grew up faster. I am definitely guilty of this. Even while on our trip to Europe, I found myself dreaming about what travel would be like once Kelvin and I were on our own again.
In particular, this quote stood out:
When my daughter was under 6 months old, I found myself wishing for time to speed up, for things to get easier, to have a little more predictability. And once that mantra was in my head, it stayed put. Hurry up and crawl, hurry up and walk, hurry up and talk, hurry up and wean. Anything to make it a little less difficult, more interesting, less time-consuming.
Andy is still young enough that I’m not looking back and regretting the moments I missed. I am thankful for this reminder.
Here’s to making the most of his childhood and soaking it in. Every single day of it.
Biggest news of the week – Andy is sleeping through the night! Like true, 10 or 11-hour sleeps. And this came after two nights of pretty atrocious sleeping, so it was particularly amazing. I credit the softness of the fleece blanket we laid down over top of his sheets for this change.
Come to think of it, our sweet boy has been particularly sweet lately. He tries to talk to us often and has been doing this funny thing where he sucks on his lip and it makes a smacking sound. Kelvin really likes it when he clamps down on his gums in a way that flattens out his jaw. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s super cute. He actually does it a lot when he’s eating. Maybe it’s his way of keeping the spoon in his mouth.
Unlike last week, this week was jam-packed. My sister and mom came up to watch Andy (so thankful!) so that I could get a few things done. He was so good with them. They took a lot of pictures of him. Like this one.
I had mentioned earlier that I joined the board at our local library. On Tuesday, I travelled with my fellow board members to see some of the branches. I loved driving through Frontenac, taking in the scenery, and meeting the staff and patrons who frequent the library out this way. The rural branches are typically smaller than the urban branches, but I am encouraged to know that the residents in these neighbourhoods have access to all the same wonderful holdings I have. I also got to see a lot of the elementary schools that are in the northern part of the school district that I work for. What a treat!
The next day, I presented for the very first time at a conference organized by our school board. It was a little nerve-wracking, but a really great experience. I’ve been using this app called Notability for virtually all my organization needs at school. It’s the one app I feel like I can really get behind and champion, and so I did! The folks at Ginger Labs were super helpful and even gave me some access codes so my participants could try it for free :) Best thing about that day? I won half a day of release time for future tech learning!
On the homefront, we are looking for a new rug for our living space. We recently ordered this rug for our dining area, and are keeping our eyes open for a thicker, more colourful rug for the living room.
I just finished reading Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing up Bebe. I found myself relating strongly to her qualms about typical North American parenting, and I read in awe of some of the things French children were able to do. There’s much that I appreciate about the way the French raise their kids (or at least, as it is portrayed in this book), including:
giving their children space for exploration
the idea of “cadre” or framework – clear boundaries, but almost limitless freedom within those boundaries
observing more before responding
treating their children as capable individuals that don’t need to be coddled
One thing that I found particularly interesting was the view that mothers have about themselves, their identity, and their relationships with others after their children are born. Typically in North America, lives stop and worlds begin revolving around our little bundles of joy. This is not the case in France. Mothers recognize that they have a new role, but that role does not supersede everything else in life. They still need to spend time with their partners. They still need to relax with their friends. And they’re allowed to have other interests.
When Kelvin and I found out we were expecting (and come to think of it, even before that), we made a concerted effort and commitment to raising our little guy as part of our life, not as the only part of our life. We continued going to small group. We took our little guy with us when we travelled. We ate in restaurants. Did it always go smoothly? Absolutely not. There were many moments of frustration. Like the time Andy screamed his head off while we were deep inside a Macy’s in New York. Flustered, I virtually ran to the closest entrance, not entirely sure of where said entrance was, a look on my face that said “Get out of my way, or else…”. I was bickering with Kelvin, and muttering under my breath, “We are going back to the hotel NOW. This was a terrible idea.” The minute we were outside, I scanned frantically for a place to nurse him. Our best option was a folding chair on the sidewalk facing 34th Street. No matter – it worked, and he calmed down. Despite these little blips, I like to think that our choices will make it easier for us to continue to do things that matter to us and that bring us joy with him around.
Now that we’re almost 6 months into Andy’s earthly life, I can honestly say that it has been so wonderful to have had this perspective. I had set out a few goals for myself for this year off, and save for my “learn to sew” goal, I am doing pretty well. I am still the person I was before I had Andy, but with more efficiency, a better perspective and empathy for other new moms, and of course, an absolutely amazing little guy with whom I can share my life and my passions. And as he gets older, he will undoubtedly develop his own passions and perspectives, which I hope he will share with me.
I won’t go into detail about what the book says about a woman’s body and what it’s expected to be able to do shortly after birth. In this respect, I am far, far, far off the map. Like way on the North American side of the spectrum. I ate copious amounts of chocolate after giving birth. I regretted it after, but alas, the damage had already been done.
I’ve been meaning to do a post on our carriers and strollers and just never got around to it. Andy is now 5 months old, and he has definitely had his share of travelling. He has been on a total of eight planes, about a dozen cars and taxis, two boats, a train, and public transit in three separate cities. My parents keep talking about how they make carting a child around so easy now, and I would have to agree. It’s also a whole lot more comfortable.
Now, Kelvin is a big a researcher. He is the one who combs through reviews and comments before we make any of our big purchases. I am very thankful to him for that, because I am not that diligent. When he strongly recommends something, I know that it’s because he has weighed out endless other options and has decided this was the best one. Before I go on, let me add a disclaimer that this is what works best for us, our body types, and our lifestyle. Others may vehemently oppose.
Four words. We love the carrier. It’s so great for quick jaunts and Andy loves it. It’s a must when we travel, and we will continue to bring it with us even when we bring our travel stroller. When he was little, he would fall asleep in it in an instant. He still does sleep in it, but now he stays awake much longer in it due to his general curiosity with the world.
The sunshade helps to keep his head in place when he falls asleep, and it also does its intended task of protecting his little face from rays. The pocket in the front is home to his hat and my iPhone.
There was a short time about two months ago where the carrier was a little frustrating, though. He was too big for his little feet to be in the carrier comfortably in the froggy position, but he was too small to be able to comfortably pop his little legs out. I spent more time than I should have looking at proper carrier baby positions, convinced that I was screwing up his feet. Thankfully, we got through it, and now his little feet stick out the sides. It’s super cute.
Upon looking at the Tula website, I think the prices have dropped a little bit since we bought our carrier. Plus they have added some more cute prints. I think one of the biggest reasons Kelvin voted for this carrier over the other one we were trying was for aesthetic reasons.
Also, my parents both like the Tula. When they came to visit last week, they put him in it often and went for strolls around the neighbourhood.
I must admit, not as much research and testing went into this purchase, but we are happy with it nonetheless. It is middle of the pack in most areas – price, features, weight. It’s functional, the base is easy to install in the car (ridiculously easy), and Andy falls asleep in it all the time. In fact, he is asleep in it right now. He nodded off in the car, in the 3 minutes it takes to get from the library to our home. Taking him out of the car seat when sleeping often results in him waking up, so I opt to leave him in there and just watch him sleep in the bucket.
His little feet will soon pop over the edge of the bucket, and we removed the bottom infant insert ages ago, but the infant head rest we’ve kept in place. We should probably wash that…
Also, it took me a few months to discover that underneath the canopy is an additional pop-out canopy that provides extra sun protection. For those first few months I looked with envy on other baby seats that had huge, convertible canopies. That was silly of me.
It fits into our stroller well, and I would say a good percentage of our photos from Andy’s first month were taken in this carseat.
So our original intention was to get the Indie 4, but when we got to the store in Ottawa, we both gravitated towards the Indie. The biggest reason was so that I could take it out with me on the trails when I wanted to go for a walk. I continue to be thankful for this decision, because I have seen many a four-wheeled stroller struggle its way through trails and streets, while this bad boy trucks through snow and ice. It is by no means a Maserati-level stroller, but it’s also not a typical travel system that you can get at Walmart. At this point in the game, I have mastered the art of getting it out of our car and ready for Andy with one hand, all while holding him in the other. I cannot, however, fold it down with one hand.
There’s a lot of care put into the simplicity of the design, but also some really thoughtful features. I love that we can recline it all the way (more than once, I have used it as a change table when no such table could be found) and that it has a little peekaboo flap so I can see him when he’s sitting inside. It’s also lighter than some of the jogging strollers I’ve carried, so that was a huge plus for me. The storage underneath is fantastic and we use it mostly for our carrier and library books. The cupholder, though spartan, does its job. Don’t think about putting your phone in there, though. I assure you it will fall out.
When Andy is older and we, God-willing, have another child, our plan is to get the mini board attachment so he can ride along while his little brother/sister sits in the front.
Ah yes, our impulse buy. Our “it is way too hot to have him in the carrier” buy. I gave my two cents about this stroller in this post, and I stand by my opinion that it was the best decision. When you’re buying a travel stroller, you are not necessarily looking for bells and whistles. What you’re looking for is weight and ease of use. The Mark II wins in both of these. Hands down. Sometimes I take Andy out in this stroller just because it’s so easy to. When we head to Europe and Asia later on this year and next year, we will be bringing this with us. Because it would be foolish of us not to.
Despite being sick all week, Andy has been such a trooper. His hacking cough and ridiculously congested nose haven’t kept him up too much at night (so thankful for this!) but he is a little bit more lethargic than his usual self. We’ve spent the week in Toronto and will be attending some weddings this weekend, so he’s had quite a busy schedule! Though it’s always nice to be away, it’s also made me realize just how much I enjoy being at home in Kingston :) Also, I realized that I never want to have a sick child when I’m away from Kelvin.
One thing that I miss so much about living here (other than Sun Sing See) is having a piano. We can’t fit a piano into our current home due to lack of wall space, but it’s definitely something I hope Andy will come to love. We made sure to get lots of piano time in this week. At this point, I think Andy is just ambivalent towards it.
When we went to the doctor’s on Monday, we weighed this little guy, and he is sitting at a whopping 17 lb 4 oz. What a little chunker! But as much as we rag on him for being so chubby, we love that he’s as sturdy as he is. He’s starting to really push the limits of his travel crib, though. We have the mini version, and I think Kelvin is seriously considering getting the full-size. We shall see.
As motherhood becomes more real to me (sometimes I look at myself holding Andy in the mirror and I can’t fathom that he is actually our child, and not just a baby that I’ve borrowed from someone to play with…) I find myself seeking out blogs written by mothers. This week, I stumbled upon Chriselle Lim’s blog, and I was so touched by her candidness with the ins and outs of her pregnancy and the first few weeks. I will never be as chic as her, but I can definitely appreciate what she is doing and how she is balancing her work responsibilities with her motherly duties.
Two pieces of exciting news on my end:
1) I had mentioned two weeks ago that I had sent out some applications. Well, on the community front, my name was forwarded on to City Council for recommendation to our local library board! I absolutely love our library and what they’re doing (which I talk about briefly in this post) and am so excited for the possibility of being part of the team that sets its strategic vision for the next few years! There is talk of a new branch being built in a neighbourhood that is dear to my heart, so what a wonderful time to be involved! (On the professional front, I didn’t get the position that I applied for, but a new position has opened up which I think is much better suited for me, and I will be applying for it before it closes at the end of August!)
2) I am planning an edcamp in Kingston this fall and I recently applied for a micro grant through Awesome Kingston (so many applications lately, it seems). I heard from them today and we’ve been invited to pitch at their next pitch party! It’ll be happening in just under a week (Thursday at 7 at the Marine Museum) and if we are successful, we will get $1000 for our project. I’ve been following Awesome Kingston for quite a while and have wanted to plan something wonderful that they can feel proud to back. I hope this is that something wonderful :)
Andy is closing in on 4 months, so I thought it might be a good time to ease our way into sleep training. And just for the record, when it comes to sleep training, there is no such thing as ease. We put him down without much difficulty around 9, but after he awoke at 12:30 (for a feed, which I guess was okay because we were just heading to bed), he would not go back down. For some reason, I thought “Hmm, let’s see if crying it out will work”. I let him cry for 5 minutes, then as the method instructs, I headed in to reassure him for a brief time before leaving him to cry again. I was supposed to wait for 10 minutes as my next interval before heading in to reassure him, but at 8 minutes I could not take it anymore. I went in, attempted to calm him from a distance, then promptly picked him up to comfort him.
How foolish of me.
He calmed down right away. No damage done. And so I gently placed him back in his crib and headed back to bed. Of course, before I even left his room, he was wailing again. “Stay strong, Catherine” I told myself. I turned the sound off on our video monitor, and waited for him to calm down. Just before the 5 minute mark, he put himself to sleep.
Sadly, this did not last.
About forty minutes later, he started screaming again. I made it to 5 minutes, went in to reassure him, but again could not make it to the 10 minute mark. In my frustration, even though it was close to 2 in the morning and Kelvin was asleep, I threw a little fit in our room and tried to drown out his crying by placing the pillow over my head while kicking (and screaming). After a declaration of “I can’t take this anymore!” I picked up my pillow, the monitor, and my phone, and headed to the basement. “Perhaps if the crying was not as piercing, my willpower would be stronger” I thought. I set my alarm for 15 minutes and tried to sleep until the next “checkpoint”. For those of you who are wondering, yes, I could still hear him from the basement. But thankfully, no, I did not need to head back upstairs. He fell asleep about a minute before my alarm was due to go off.
But alas, as is the case each morning, all is well in the world, as my sweet boy once again returns.
As for mommy (because for some reason, now that I have a child, I refer to myself in third person all the time), this was a big week. I sent in some applications (more on this next week) that have the potential to dramatically change both my professional and social/community life and am eager to hear back. I also spent some time working on a wedding program for some good friends of ours. Matching their invitation stylistically was a big jump for me, as their entire suite is much more delicate than my work normally is. But as is often the case, these are the things that help you to grow and develop. Diversity is the spice of life. And for that I am very thankful.
Now for some things from around the internet.
I’ll be heading to Hong Kong in February for this conference. I won a free ticket through a twitter chat that I frequently participate in, and registration finally opened!
We need more beautiful learning spaces in Canada. Like the ones created by this firm in Japan (link to their Facebook, not their site…since their site is in Japanese).
It’s so nice to see our little guy sleeping soundly again after a few nights of irregularity. Every morning, Andy will holler around 7 something to come into our bed (sometimes this is accompanied by a feed, sometimes it isn’t), then he will proceed to continue sleeping for as long as we will allow him to (usually an hour or so). We squeeze him into the space between our pillows for his post-feed nap, and have developed this habit of having a burp cloth under his head when he sleeps in our bed, because we never know when a stream (or fountain) of spit up will start flowing.
At the beginning of the week (and again today) I attempted to commence a routine of sorts for when Andy’s taking the aforementioned nap. Normally, this is merely an opportunity for me to just continue sleeping, but now I’m trying to use that time to have breakfast, catch up on my feedly, and just spend time alone. On the days that I’ve had enough sleep to actually enjoy it, it has been glorious.
On a personal note, this was a weird week in that my courses are all finished and Andy’s increased alertness means I have less downtime without him. I found myself playing with him for hours at a time, and subsequently pondering the things I should be doing to stimulate his development and sense. We go on walks frequently, and he has a handful of toys (most of which he ignores), but like all parents, I wonder constantly whether I’m providing the best environment possible for my little guy to grow up in.
Despite all this, I somehow ended up reading three books (one on inquiry, one on questioning, and one just for my own enjoyment). I also spent a lot of time this week perusing the internet, and stumbled upon this blog on parenting, this blog by a woman whose goal-orientedness I really appreciate, and this article, which made me feel better that some of my days are just lazy, spent hanging out and exploring the world with Andy.
It’s family Friday, so I’m looking forward to eating out for lunch. Not sure yet where we will go. Perhaps I can convince Kelvin to go to Gananoque. Oh, and this afternoon is the annual midwife picnic, so we get to see some of Andy’s baby friends, plus his wonderful midwives again!
Last but not least, here’s something I’m really looking forward to going to next week.
It was a weird day for Andy. He ate more than usual and wasn’t a particularly happy camper. It all started this morning, at our first official session of mom and baby yoga this morning. He protested almost the entire time (“I will not stretch my arms to the sky, but I will stretch my legs to kick you while you’re doing downward dog”). But all is forgotten now, as he sleeps peacefully in his crib. On that vein, some exciting news – Andy slept through the night for the first time this week! It was a little disorienting, actually, because I woke up on my own (not to his crying).
The big event of the week for this little guy was going to his aunt’s convocation! It was rather spur of the moment, but we had a good time (arguably, a better time than i had at my own convocation). I can’t believe even my little sister is done her schooling…
Now, we must confess. Kelvin and I are not exactly stellar examples of alumni. We don’t give to our school or attend chapter events…or stay involved in any way really. I mean, my parents have been ragging on me for the last few years to update my address so Queen’s will stop sending my alumni magazine to their place (I finally did this week, just FYI). But nostalgia has a way of creeping in as you get older. Plus, this year marks our 5-year homecoming reunion. And we have a special opportunity starting September to reconnect with campus. So who knows, perhaps we will find ourselves embedded once more into Queen’s life.
Now most nights, Andy sleeps pretty late. Like 10:30 late. So yesterday we decided that it would be okay to bring him to watch daddy play softball. Andy seemed to show quite an interest in the game, so we hung out around the dugout until my DEET-less body could no longer take the mosquitoes. Bite count? Andy: 0. Mommy: 4
As for what’s going on in life beyond Andy, I finished another MOOC this week, and I don’t have any on the boards until July. So in lieu of that, I borrowed a whack load of books from the OCT library and am enjoying perusing through them. Plus I have made twitter chats a 3x/week event. Good times.
I am also really looking forward to getting these bracelets from The Jones Market (and perhaps another one or two in a different colour). I shall order them for delivery to our hotel in Nashville.
So it’s 10:49 and I am hosting book club tomorrow. We’re reading Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda and I am about 90 pages in (out of 490 pages). Looks like it’s going to be a long night…