Friday, August 31, 2007

Flying With a Toddler, Part 2: Board Last

Audrey should have her own frequent flyer points. She's flown to Vancouver five times and to Calgary once - all before she turned two years old.

We're old hats at it now, but originally, the prospect freaked me out. I dreaded the thought of having an inconsolable baby crying non-stop for 5 hours, the glare of other passengers burning into my back. I couldn't find many tips online, so I turned to friends and family for pointers - most of whom didn't have much to say in this department.

Tip 2: Board Last

Jesse's aunt, however, had one pointer that I still follow: board last, especially if you have someone with you. The airlines always invite families to board first, but if you think about it, it actually makes more sense to board last:
  • Your kids can have a chance to run around more.
  • You can walk around freely.
  • You limit the time that you're in a confined space and on that plane.
And the business flyer in me doesn't want to be on a plane any longer than I need to be.

View Other Travelling Tips:

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Swinging!, originally uploaded by Pilkaroo.

Action shot of my insanely grown-up kid. She's not even two in this photo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cloth Diapers?

I consider myself a moderate environmentalist. I've been converted to not taking a bag at a store if I don't need it and Nelly Furtado has reminded me to turn off the lights every time I leave a room. I still own a car though and drive everyday. And I still take to-go cups at Starbucks even though I have a ton of commuter mugs at home that I could use.

Anyway, with Audrey, I really debated whether or not I should use cloth or disposable diapers. There's the argument of using too much water and energy when cleaning the cloth diapers. On the flip side, there's all of the paper and manufacturing issues with using disposable.

In the end, we decided to go with disposable. Just before Audrey was born, Toronto started the Green Bin Program, so it settled the debate for me. I could put diapers guilt-free into the organics bin and voila - Pampers turns into high-quality compost for farms and parklands.

But now with the second, I'm considering using cloth diapers part-time. Maybe using highly absorbent disposables at night, throwaway Huggies while I'm out, and maybe cloth diapers most of the time when I'm at home. My husband isn't convinced - he thinks it'll be more hassle than it's worth. And thinking about maintaining a diaper pail full of poo and pee slop makes me tend to agree with him.

In any event, on my sister's recommendation, I'm considering purchasing Mother-ease diapers. I like the idea of having diapers with snaps (instead of velcro) and want to avoid the foldable liners. The part-time packages seems like a pretty good deal - it comes with half the recommended amount of diapers, liners and covers. And it's about the cost of 60 days worth of newborn diapers.

I'm pretty convinced, but here are the things that are still on my mind:
  • What if I hate it and end up with the waste of owning cloth diapers and disposable diapers?
  • What about those diaper pails?
  • What about rashes?
  • What about leaks?
Wouldn't mind hearing what others thought on this one...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bedtime Rituals

After two years, our bed time routine is becoming a dream come true.

After bath, we get Audrey's PJs on. Her pink monkey PJs are a definite favourite. She picks two or three stories (one most certainly from her vast Dora the Explorer collection) and we read them. We listen to "Chi Mi Na Morbheanna" by the Rankin Family, the first song on an excellent lullaby CD called The Planet Sleeps. In between, we chat about her day. Today, she was talking about going on the rope ladder on the "big playground" - basically the larger jungle gym at school that she's allowed to play on now that she's two.

Then I say her "special story" Goodnight Moon - which I have now memorized since I've said it almost every day that she's been on this earth.

Finally, after months and months of doing the same ritual, I'm seeing a payoff. She's now come to expect that I'll leave right after her special story. No more crying or pleading when I leave. She even asks matter-of-factly, "Mommy go now?"

I used to be obsessed with Audrey's sleeping habits and dreaded putting her to bed. I was terrified that I'd have a kid who never slept through the night and who begged to come into bed with us. Don't get me wrong. I'm pro co-sleeping, but I didn't want to be doing it until she was in preschool and beyond.

I read both the Baby Whisperer and The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Both of them are very informative in their own way, so I adopted advice from both. I gave her "dream feeds" (feeding her right before I went to bed so she could make it through the night). I put her down drowsy, but awake. I tried not to introduce any "crutches" so that she could learn how to go to sleep on her own.

Did it work? I really don't know. Audrey slept like a typical newborn her first three months, gradually waking less and less. When Audrey was about 14 weeks, I ran into an old workmate who has a daughter that's about six months older than Audrey. I asked how Adelaide's sleeping was going. He scoffed, "She's been sleeping through the night since she was three months old."

How true that was, who knows. Regardless, I was determined to have Audrey sleep through the night. And sure enough, after a few days of employing more tactics from the gurus, she did! I have pleasant memories of sleeping in until 9 in the morning, waking to her babbling to herself in her crib.

And then after three months, to my utter horror, she started waking again, at least once but usually twice a night.

This went on until she was a year old. She was teething, I'm sure, even though only her two bottom teeth showed their gleaming nibs by the time she was 10 months old. And finally, out of desperation, I "ferberized" her.

I was convinced it wouldn't work. Audrey's name means "noble strength", but some days I think it might mean "stubborn". But Jesse and I were at the point where we would try anything - so we vowed to give it a week. After two days, sweet silence.

Since then, Audrey has slept through the night most of the time. She did (and does) have bouts of waking especially when her teeth were coming in or when she's sick. Now at two years old, I would officially pronounce Audrey as a "good sleeper".

But after all that, I don't really know or think it was all of the advice from the gurus. They all - even Ferber - helped a bit in their own way. Truthfully, the one thing that has made Audrey solid is her bed time routine and knowing exactly what to expect and when.

And now, I love putting her to bed. I've found that the greatest reward from this hard work is not because she goes to sleep so easily - it's the time we spend together. It's the one of the only times during the day when it's just her and me. I can picture a future with shopping, cooking fancy meals, mending of broken hearts.

And really, that would be the dream come true.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Daycare Birthday Parties

Audrey had her "official" second birthday party on Saturday. We had a small family-only party. Ok, not totally family only - one of Jesse's cousins brought a friend from Africa who's going to school in Whitby on a full scholarship. I can now say that I've met someone who's killed a lion and that he's eaten burgers at my house.

I was feeling kind of guilty for not organizing something for Audrey's daycare classmates on Friday. And a little bit guilty for not organizing a kids party - I just have not kept up on my mommy-group socializing to build out my toddler network (maybe this is an idea for LinkedIn?). And I just couldn't get cakes or - God forbid - cupcakes together. So I found myself baking chocolate chip cookies at 10pm last night.

But then today, when I dropped off my offering of back-of-the-Chippits-bag-recipe cookies and birthday hats, one of the care workers asked me if I'd be joining them for snack in the afternoon. Again, guilt.

No balloons. No cupcakes. No cake. And no mommy snapping photos and singing happy birthday.

But what can I say - I'm figuring all the birthday etiquette out. To date, I've still not found an article or book that describes the toddler-party rules. There have been other toddlers, obviously, who have had birthdays at the daycare. Audrey has been on the receiving end of notes advising us of the contents of homemade recipes. And loot bags stuffed with Dora stickers and other dollar store finds. Somewhat related, I heard of a girl who recently "graduated" from the toddler program to go to the preschool program. Her mom wanted to take a class photo and for that, I signed a waiver.

I can't see myself doing any of that. Ever. It's just not in me (although I should never say never). But I still can't help feeling like I should be doing more.

Does that make me a bad mom? Do I need to find the inner Martha Stewart in me and figure out how to sew Halloween costumes and make sugar cookies at Christmas?

God, I hope not.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

One on the way

So, I've decided to take a different angle with this blog. When I started it, I had just left a job that I found extremely demanding and stressful and that made me constantly need to choose between being a mom and wife and succeeding in my career. The multi-tasker side of me thought that I could juggle everything. But in that job, I realized that I needed to refocus my priorities - I wasn't able to be the mom and wife I wanted to be without the quality of my work suffering.

If you had asked me then if it was possible to balance a demanding job and family life, I would have no. At the time, it seemed like an impossibility. And in that situation, it was.

And so I made a really tough decision and decided to leave my job in search of a new one. In retrospect, it was the best thing I ever did. Sure I'm still in the honeymoon period of my new job, but so far, it's proving to fit much better in my life.

Shortly after I started my job, we found out that we were expecting our second baby. It came as a surprise to us and I have to admit I wrestled with how to tell the world. Let's face it: announcing that you're pregnant after being in a new job for only six weeks is far from ideal. I was truly torn. On one hand, I was overjoyed that my little Audrey would have company. On the other, I was dreading telling my co-workers.

Anyway, in the end it all turned out ok - so great, in fact, that there really has been no drama to pen here. Nothing really insightful about being a working mom to log. So I'm changing the theme.

I've found very little resources about how to manage having a second baby. I want to know what strollers to buy and if it makes sense to buy a double when I think Audrey won't be needing a stroller for that much longer. I want to know if how people deal with a baby crying in all hours while trying to make sure that the toddler down the hall stays asleep.

So here I am.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Second Birthday

We celebrated Audrey's second birthday today. Had a few of Jesse's family members over for a small birthday party. I can hardly believe that my little one has been on this earth for two years.

I've started making a video in iMovie of some of my favourite photos and videos. When I look back at those early days, I can barely recognize her. I mean - I remember her and can see Audrey in the photos. I remember very vividly taking most of the photos. But the transformation is so huge that it seems too abstract to connect the dots between who Audrey is now and who she was in these photos.

As I talk to my friends about their new babies, I realize that I'm forgetting. I never thought I would forget. Living in the moment, it seems unthinkable that so much time would pass that I'd forget. Realizing how much can happen in two years makes me realize how important it is for me to live in the now and to cherish everyday that is today.

Happy Birthday, Audrey. I love you so much.