Sunday, July 26, 2009


I didn't realize what a granola-crunchin' mom I've become until this weekend! This was highlighted by two incidents:

1. We are in the middle of a potentially record-breaking heat wave in Vancouver. The temperature is hovering between 30 and 36 degrees Celsius and with the humidity feels like closer to 40. As a result, Gavin is super thirsty and is wanting to nurse very frequently. I've become very comfortable with breastfeeding since having my first baby 7 years ago. I'll feed him pretty much anywhere, anytime without a great deal of fussing over covering up. Anyway, Gavin was fussing and wanting to go on the breast, so I took him from my hubby and went to get him latched. My hubby very thoughtfully handed me a receiving blanket to cover up, as I would have done with my first two kids. However, I realized I am long past feeling the need to hide my baby's head under a blanket (which he now would just rip off anyway), especially since the thought of sitting under another layer fabric when I'm already cuddled up and nursing just about slays me! So I just got him latched and fed him as we sweated it out au naturel.

2. I can't find my hotsling! I had no idea how fond I've become of babywearing until I can't find my effing hotsling. I used it to wear Gavin yesterday, but Dave was driving so when we got back to the van I carried the sling in my hand instead of stashing it in its usual hidey-hole, and now I can't find it anywhere! Not that I'm superkeen to be cuddled up unnecessarily in this heat, but it's so handy in so many situations, not the least of which is when he's fussing to be carried around right before sleepytime and I've got other stuff I need to get done. Love the free hands!

This also goes back to my last post on touch. I didn't wear my first two kids much. I only had a Snugli that I found very uncomfortable to wear, especially since Trevor was such a huge baby. My friend Victoria, however, has had a ton of experience with different baby carriers and was such a devoted fan of them I decided to give it a try with marvelous results! Love the hotsling, though I can see that it may get a little bit uncomfortable to wear G in front as he gets heavier. I also got a cuddlywrap which I also love. It's better for around the house as it is super long and a bit more difficult to deal with tying on when I;m out and about. It's even more comfortable than the hotsling so I use that when I know I'll be wearing him for a longer period of time i.e. watching a lacrosse game.
Finally, I just ordered a babyhawk mei tai and I can't wait for it to arrive (especially since I can't find my effing hotsling)! More on that when it gets here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This may sound weird, but one of the things I love most about being a mom is getting to have more human touch in my life.

It seems to me that as we get older, we feel more inhibited about sharing touch with other people. This mostly serves us well, as it wouldn't do to go around cuddling up to the person in front of you in the food court line-up at the mall. But it gets very easy to become physically isolated even when you're in a crowd: driving in a car, sitting at a cubicle, watching a movie or sporting event, for instance.

Even in my family-of-origin (mom, dad, sister), we hug and kiss on the cheek for a salutation, but don't go around holding hands or stroking each others' hair or anything (and that's ok, because that would be seriously weird, at least for us). Of course, there's some nice touching involved with having a husband (wink wink - my mom reads this, so I'll leave it at that), but making time for that with three young kids can be a little challenging. And that leaves me with salutation touches from him, too. The other day we were out for a walk as the kids rode their bikes and Gavin was in the sling and we held hands as we walked. I couldn't remember the last time we did that, because our hands are usually busy carrying hockey bags or pushing a stroller or wrangling kids. It was nice.

I digress. My point was about getting touch from kids. I love the bedtime cuddles, the morning hugs, the hand holding, the hair stroking, the booboo mending, the assistance with personal grooming, all that stuff that goes along with being a mom. I have to say that before Gavin came along, I took for granted being able to be physically affectionate with my two older kids (Trevor, 7; and Amy, 5). With Gavin, he's so into touching and grabbing and feeling at my hands and arms and face and hair because I'm not sure he even knows he's his own person yet. All the touching I get from him has really driven home how much Trev and Amy have grown up. They are developing their own boundaries about how comfortable they are with touch from the people in their lives who love them. Those boundaries are, of course, crucial for them to develop their sense of self and to maintain their personal safety. But as a mom it's tough to be held at arm's length when you want to comfort a child who's angry at you for saying no, or who doesn't want a hug/kiss goodbye in front of his friends anymore.

It makes me treasure the physical affection they do share with me. For each of them it's different: Gavin physically needs me in order to survive so we're really intensely linked right now. Amy vascillates between needing to have me (intensely) when she wants me and wanting to be able to do everything without me. Trevor appreciates parallel closeness, by that I mean sitting down beside him and maybe putting an arm around his shoulders, but I now get a brush off when he's trying to be tough and not cry when he's hurt (I always tell him it's ok to cry, but I am no match for societal forces, it seems). They all have varying degrees of comfort with sharing touch with me. For now, I will treasure whatever they will give because I know that before I know it we'll be mostly into the salutation hugs and kisses.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


So I've been walking a lot lately in an effort to get back into something resembling a shape - as opposed to a blob. Thanks to my wonderful mom who comes over on a nearly daily basis, I am able to go out and walk sans kids for an hour at least a few times a week. Recently I've been feeling like I need to hit the next gear and start working out harder and with more purpose.

Today I decided to use the time my mom gives me to dust off my gym membership card and reacquaint myself with an aerobics class. My schedule was way out of date, though, so imagine my surprise when I arrived at a bootcamp class rather than my safe and trusty old step class. I briefly toyed with the idea of watching the class from the elliptical trainer, but then I thought, ah, why not.

Good lord. I don't hurt yet, but I surely will tomorrow. Three minute intervals of cardio paired with pushups, weight training, and abs abs abs. Have I mentioned that my "abs" currently resemble something as loose and drapey as something you might run up a flagpole? Red-faced, panting, dripping with sweat was I. I tried playing the "this is my first real post-baby workout" card, but the instructor was having none of that. At the end she jokingly said, "Anyone feel like they might puke? Haha."

Haha indeed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Five Cool Things

1. The British Open. Fantastic.
2. The Bumbo baby-sitter. We just got one for Gavin and he really likes being up so he can see what's happening.
3. Flying kites by the sea in Birch Bay (sorry I forgot my camera this weekend).
4. Fresh seasonal fruit in the summer. This week I resolve to get to the Royal City Farmer's Market; somehow I haven't made it yet but I definitely will this week.
5. Lazy summer days with no scheduled activities.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Carnival of Maternity Leave

This blog post is in response to my friend, Victoria's post about which was written in response to her friend, Amber's request for stories about maternity leave.

The first word that comes to my mind as I recall applying for maternity leave is not so much "carnival"... more like "gong show," really. I was completely stymied when applying for maternity leave all three times, and I'm not quite sure why. I'd like to consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, perhaps a little finanicially challenged, but it seems I have a serious mental block when it comes to filling out any sort of government forms.

When on mat leave with my first, Trevor, I buggered up the application. I still don't really understand what I did wrong; maybe I only applied for maternity and not parental benefits, or maybe I omitted a 2 week report before I was approved to be exempt from reporting. Anyway, when Trevor was about 4 months old and the sleep deprivation was starting to be somewhat less paralyzing, I noticed that all of sudden we were totally broke. It wasn't until I checked our bank account history online that I figured out that EI had cut me off. I had to do a written appeal and go down to the office with my nurse-around-the-clock first baby to suck up to a Service Canada agent in person. I eventually got reinstated to receive the remainder of those benefits but lost out on that month of benefits that I missed without realizing it.

My mat leave for Amy came hard on the heels of my first mat leave. I had gone back half-time and summer fell in the middle of my pregnancy so it was going to be pretty tight to make the 600 hours in order to qualify for benefits. I called EI to ask how many hours per day teachers are considered to work and was told 9.1 hours per day. I figured out when I wanted to go on mat leave and realized that I would need to TOC on most of my off-days for the entire fall (essentially working full time) in order reach the magical number of 600 hours. No problem. I actually quite enjoyed TOC-ing and figured I could get the hours in with about a two weeks to spare. I went off on mat leave, Amy arrived a week or so early and a week after that I received a notice saying my claim was denied!!! My SD calculated my number of hours based on some daily average formula and I only had 596 hours. That's right. I was short by 4 measly hours. I plunked the Wiggles DVD on repeat in the machine and set on repeat for Trevor, stuck Amy on my breast and sat on the phone for the better part of an entire day with my SD and EI and learned that I could still qualify for benefits if I worked one more day and then reapplied. Yes, you read that right. I had to go back to work for one day with bursting boobies, a two week old baby that nursed about 25 times per day, and an 18 month old who really couldn't get enough of Mommy at that point. Gong show. Truly. I eventually did qualify for the rest of my benefits, but lost out on those first three weeks just in time for Christmas. Ho ho ho.

This is my third time on maternity leave and I did manage to get the application in successfully this time, but I was definitely a little skittish about my last day worked really the last day I was at work, or is it the last day of that work week?...what about Spring Break, it's a paid holiday?...blahblahblah. I even have access to someone who works for Service Canada who cannot and would not handle any specifics of my claim but who I could call and ask questions (rather than waiting on hold for half a day) about filling out my application. I had to call him multiple times and was still confused. Don't even get me started on the paperwork involved for my district pay the top-up benefits for the first 15 weeks, none of which can be done until after the baby is born and you're completely sleep-deprived!

So, the first change I'd like to see is a simplification and de-bureaucratization of the application process. If I feel frustrated and confused by it and I'm a generally competent and well-educated person, I can't imagine how someone who is socio-economically disadvantaged would cope with some of the hurdles I encountered. Ideally, I'd like to see maternity leave benefits better funded by the federal government for a longer period of time, however, in the current economic climate that's not likely to happen anytime soon. Our family is really penny-pinching this year and we have two incomes; I don't know how a single mom would be able to make a go of it living in the Lower Mainland and relying on maternity benefits. The 50 weeks we currently have is certainly better than what it used to be in the '90's (6 months), but I'd really like to see it extended to two years.

For all my griping about getting off the ground with EI, I really am grateful to have been able to spend that full year with all three of my babies. This time around, I am really appreciating the time I have not only with Gavin but also supporting Trevor and Amy through the transition as we all settle into being a family of five. I am really trying to be in the moment of enjoying this time with my children and not stressing about how fast it's going by and how we'll all have to re-adjust when the time runs out and I'm back to work again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yummy Snacks

Snack #1: Mango Smoothie
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pkg. Splenda
Blend it up and enjoy. 4 points

Snack #2: Brownie Bran Muffins
3 cups All Bran cereal (or generic cquivalent)
3 cups water
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 box Betty Crocker Low-Fat Brownie mix
Mix cereal and water in a bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
Add baking powder and brownie mix, stir well.
Pour into muffin cups. (makes 24 small but tasty muffins)
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
These freeze well and are only 1 point!!! I take a couple out and blast them in the micro when I'm jonesing for some chocolate.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I realize I may get punched in the nose, but...

Gavin is sleeping through the night! And he has been for a while now, but I've been careful not to tell any brand-new moms for fear of the rage and/or insane jealousy that may come my way in the form of a right hook. Plus I didn't want to jinx it, but it has been six weeks of steadily sleeping 10 - 11 hours at night so I think it's safe to say that he's a good sleeper. He even slept well while we were away in Birch Bay this weekend!
Now that I've gone and shared that little tidbit, you watch, he'll go and start getting some teeth or something.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Shrinking Jill

I am the tortoise. Slow and steady. Remember, the guy who ends up winning the race?
In eight weeks I've lost eight pounds, which is exactly the rate at which WW says moms who are nursing exclusively should lose weight.
I really want my next 5 lb. star, maybe this Tuesday...?

Five Cool Things

1. I can see!!!!
2. Swimming ends today, I'm pretty sure the kids will pass, and we have almost nothing scheduled next week.
3. I have the best, most helpful and supportive mommy in the world.
4. Dave is back tonight...we really missed him!
5. A tall coffee frappuccino light is only 2 points on Weight Watchers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Post Surgery, Part II

Surgery was Monday.
Tuesday was uncomfortable but ok.
Wednesday was EXCRUCIATING! That whole no-touch thing...well there is some touching after all, and it involves scraping off a layer of one's cornea. Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouchie, ouch ouch!
They give you good drugs which I relented and finally took last night (don't worry, I "pumped and dumped..."). After a good sleep with my eyes firmly closed for most of the night, I'm doing much better today.
So here we are at Thursday, still a bit hazy and blurry, but no longer hiding under the navy blue fleece blanket with sunglasses on and blinds drawn.

I really can't wait until my eyes clear up a bit more and I get these bandage contacts off.

Well, that's all my eyes can take for today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Post Surgery

Details to follow...
Good post-surgical activities to do with one's eyes closed:
- nursing
- listening to CBC Radio
- listening to CKNW and yelling at the callers who bash teachers (not actually on the phone, but out loud to the empty room).
- practicing piano scales (muscle memory is an amazing thing).
Bad post-surgical activities:
- Facebook
- blogging
- anything related to looking at a screen

In fact, my eyes are screaming at me already. Bye for now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Musing

Courtesy of Amy: Why don't mermaids need goggles?

Also, today is the big day I'm getting laser eye surgery done....finally! I've been wanting to do it for, oh, I don't know, about 20 years or so. Why haven't I done it sooner? I'm just a tiny bit squeamish about it, but the main reasons are $$$, mostly. I wish I could say that I had other priorities for my money. I guess in a way I did...instead of saving for the procedure, I spent it. I'm just not a good saver. The few times I've tried diligently to save for anything we'll get some crazy car repair bill or go on a trip or have a baby or something.
I opted for the no-touch procedure even though it's a bit more expensive mostly because it's closer to home and easier for me to get to sans driver.
Plus they don't have to peel back your cornea to do it. 'Kay, maybe more than a tiny bit squeamish. Ewww!
Anyway, I'm looking forward to being able to get up in the morning and not bump into the dresser on the way to bathroom anymore. You'd think after five years I would have adjusted to my environment, you know, the way blind people do!
Posting will be pretty light this week as I understand there's a fair amount of sensitivity to light afterward and computer screens are particularly uncomfortable. I'll let you know how it goes...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Roller Babies

Came across this at Bacon Is My Enemy...very cute!

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Stumpers

I remember the days before I became a parent hearing about how children ask endless questions about everything. Trevor never did much of that as a young child, however, Amy has become like a curiosity machine powered by Energizer lately. Here are just a few of the questions from a one-hour period this evening:

1. How does your body make milk? (wow, that prompted a long-winded answer about hormones and chemicals and pregnancy and milk ducts during which her eyes glazed over)

2. How did babies start? Me: like when the sperm fertilizes the egg? Amy: No, like who did the first baby? ('kay, just the origin of man, your usual bedtime conversation!)

3. Why won't my eyes let me sleep? (because you won't close them)

4. Why is it called a tangle? (I don't know, someone made up the word, I guess)

5. What is that man on TV doing? (she was cuddled up with me on couch as I was trying to bore her to sleep with late night talk shows)

6. Why is he telling jokes? (that's his job)

7. Are those jokes funny? I don't get it. (just to grownups)

8. Could I have a drink of water? (sure)

9. Why are these called fingers? (I don't know)

10. Why does Gavin blow bubbles? (I don't know)

11. Why do you wear makeup? (umm, ladies wear makeup to make themselves look nice, I guess)

12. When did you start to wear makeup? (I don't know, when I was 11 or 12 you can see where this is headed...)

13. When can I start to wear makeup? (when your body starts to change to get ready to become a woman, probably when you're 11 or 12, too seriously, you're only 5, tooo little to be wanting to grow up so fast!)

14. What day is it tomorrow? (Saturday)

15. Do I have dance? (not until Sept.)

16. Why do we have to have a passport? (so we can prove that we are Canadian when we travel)

17. Is our school the only school in Canada close to our house? (huh?)

18. Remember when you were pregnant and you broke my bed? (cringing yep.)

19. Will you miss me too much if I sleep over at Grandma's?

Amy, I'll miss you a lot, but it will be nice to have a chance to stock up on answers as I'm starting to run out.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Five Cool Things

1. Good friends who helped clean up the BBQ we hosted while I was forced to sit down and nurse the baby.
2. Having a mom who comes over regularly to watch the kids so I can get out and go for a walk.
3. Pimm's and lemonade with a mint leaf served over frosty ice cubes.
4. Have I mentioned lately...having a baby who sleeps through the night?
5. Outdoor swimming lessons in the sunshine.