F Words

F Words

The Little Monkey has reached that age where she has become a little sponge. She absorbs everything I say and do and tries it out for herself. She uses my words and mimics my mannerisms. It’s really cute but I have to watch myself.

Not too long ago she was playing nicely by herself. She was having a tea party with her stuffies and chatting away with them. Then she dropped the F bomb. She shouted at the top of her lungs, “F@#k! F@#k! F@#k!” Hubby and I just looked at each other and I realized I really have to watch my language.

Generally I really do try to watch what I say. But the other week I twisted my knee and unappologetically I shouted the F word. When I get hurt I’m allowed to swear. There’s something almost therapeutic about a well timed F bomb. But I certainly don’t want my little sweetheart copying that. At least not yet anyway.

Fortunately I had a few friends suggest I check her diction. Perhaps she was trying to say something else. With high hopes I asked her to say ‘fluff’. That wasn’t it. Then we tried ‘truck’, but that wasn’t it either. Another friend suggested ‘fork’.

That was it! It makes sense too, she was after all playing with her tea set. Evidently things weren’t going according her liking.

A little while later we discovered another gem. My cousin introduced us to Ylvis’ What Does the Fox Say? video, now my daughter’s favorite music video. If you haven’t seen it then do yourself a favor and check it out, it’s hilarious.

Anyhoo, after the video ended Little Monkey started saying “F@#k! F@#k!” And now whenever she wants to watch it she says, “Watch F@#k. Pretty F@#k.”

The final goody came recently. We we’re late getting ready for bed and I needed her to stay on task. Not a toddler’s strong suit. I kept asking her to focus. She thought that was fun and started saying, “F@#k-o! F@#k-o!” Then she wanted to tell her Dad to focus and it came out like, “F@#k You Dada, F@#k You Dada.”

So, being responsible parents, we haven’t been encouraging her or prompting her for our own amusement.

We never say, “Can you say ‘fox’? Can you say ‘fork’?” And of course we never ask, “Can you say ‘focus’?”

No, we don’t do that.

I swear.

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Goodbye My Pretties…

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One thing about pregnancy that I totally wasn’t prepared for were the swollen feet. I mean, I knew pregnant women can get swollen feet and ankles but I just didn’t expect mine to blow up to the size they did. Sitting at my desk, even for a short while, did evil things to those ankles.

Apparently this isn’t necessarily true for all women. When hubby and I went to our first prenatal class there was one lady there who had perfectly normal-sized feet delicately slipped into a pair of cute ballet flats. I wanted nothing to do with her. I can be petty when flip-flops are the only option for my pachyderm-like feet. I struck up a conversation with the only other woman in the room whose ankles were as swollen as mine. This blossomed into a beautiful friendship and we still get our kids together for regular playdates.

After I gave birth to the Little Monkey I had rather hoped my feet would deflate to their regular size. I gave it time. I crossed my fingers. I gave it more time.

Well, after nearly two years I realized it was time to accept the reality that my feet are permanently one shoe size larger.

I’ve never been called a ‘shoe-a-holic’, mostly because my feet are picky and complain with most footwear. I don’t do kitten heels. But I am rather proud of my carefully curated assortment of shoes that don’t pinch my toes, don’t dig into my heels, that enable me to walk at a decent pace yet don’t look like something granny would wear to the supermarket.

With the pending arrival of house guests I decided it was finally time to say goodbye and make some room in the closet. I was ruthless. I got rid of all my darlings.

So what’s left? One pair each of running shoes (bought post-baby), gum boots, flip-flops, Teva sandals (hurray for Velcro) and one pair of stretchy fabric heels that I can walk a few blocks in without falling flat on my face.

Pretty slim pickings. I think it’s time for this Mama to go shopping.

Creating Space: Adding a Crib Side-Car

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Since my daughter’s birth nearly two years ago she has slept between hubby and I in our queen-sized bed. The crib, so lovingly chosen and carefully assembled, has been cast aside and used as a laundry hamper.

Looking back it has been a wonderful experience having our family united in sleep. It’s been really great not having to get up at night for feedings or to check on her.

But, as they say, all good things must end. It’s one thing to share a bed with a 12 pound immobile baby. It is completely different when said baby becomes a 25 pound writhing octopus flailing limbs in all directions. It always amazes me how a tiny creature 1/6th the size of her full grown counterparts can commandeer half the bed.

We clearly needed more space and buying a king-sized bed wasn’t an option. So, we decided to add a crib ‘side car’ to our bed.

What We Did:
The crib we chose is convertible so we took off one side to create a toddler bed. Then we pushed it against our bed.

Our floor is carpeted so the crib can’t easily shift (we tried). Otherwise we would have taken extra measures to anchor the crib to our bed frame.

Our mattress and the crib mattress came out to the same height so we didn’t have to make adjustments. But, we do have a memory foam pillow top added onto our mattress which does create a height difference of about an inch. This wouldn’t do for a young infant but since my daughter is nearly two it’s not a big deal.

Next we needed to address the gap between the mattresses. We shoved her mattress against ours and inserted three pool noodles, stacked one on top of each other, between her mattress and the crib frame. We easily cut the pool noodles to size with an exacto knife.

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In order to prevent the Little Monkey from picking at or trying to eat the pool noodles we wrapped the top noodle in the extra crib bumper panel.

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How It Worked Out: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

It took about two weeks to fully adjust to our new sleeping arrangements. Ok, that’s two weeks for me. The first night hubby said, ‘She’s so far away, I don’t know if I can sleep…Zzzzzzzzzzz.’ He can sleep through anything. I, on the other hand did not sleep well, especially the first eight nights.

I will admit I checked on her breathing several times an hour the first night. I’m crazy like that. But, having established that she survived the first night just fine, this didn’t really bother me thereafter.

My biggest issue was the noise. The crib mattress has a water-resistant exterior that can’t be removed. Every time the Monkey moved – she’s a restless sleeper – the mattress made a loud rustling noise and I woke up. I had a couple of nights where I woke up between ten and fifteen times. Needless to say I drank a lot of coffee throughout the day and had many ‘mommy brain’ moments.

Other issues:

  • Being trapped. Having to slide down to the foot of the bed to get up is a major pain in the butt. But I’m perfecting my technique.
  • Can’t get comfy. It’s been two and a half years since I’ve slept on my back and now it feels weird. I’ve gotten used to my behind dangling off the bed and for almost two years I’ve slept on my side so I could always have a boob easily accessible. It’s been challenging but I’m discovering some new sleep positions.
  • More noise. Without the Little Monkey wedged between us my hubby’s snoring is that much closer to my ear. But without her between us it’s that much easier to jab him in the ribs.

But on the plus side:

  • My daughter loves her little space. She knows it’s her special space and after feeding (I pull her into bed beside me if she needs to nurse at night) she automatically rolls back into her crib. If she didn’t like it so much I would have given up early on, the sleep deprivation sucked.
  • More space in bed. I’m definitely digging the extra space right now.
  • Salvation for my shoulders. Years of side-sleeping really took a toll on my shoulders and now they don’t complain so much.
  • Perhaps an easier transition to her own room later on?

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Overall I highly recommend the crib side-car but it does take some getting used to. Expect a one to two week transition and don’t start it if you need to guarantee that you’re well rested. Expect a few sleepless nights. Also expect a few clingy days. Although my daughter loves her new sleeping space she was a bit clingy for a few days as she adjusted to sleeping a bit further away.

Have you tried a crib side-car? What benefits and issues have you encountered?

Dogs Are Scary But Snakes Are Okay

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We recently went to my niece’s 8th birthday party. The children were delighted by the show put on by Cinemazoo, a local company that rescues abandoned exotic animals and offers birthday party exhibits and summer camps to raise awareness and to pay for their upkeep.

On this particular visit we got to see stick insects, scorpions, a poisonous toad, several species of turtles, snakes, a lion-maned bunny, a ferret and a skunk.

One very important aspect of these shows is that the kids must be very quiet so the animals don’t get stressed. Needless to say Little Monkey and I were in and out of the room depending on how restless she was.

Overall, my 19 month old is an animal lover. When we go out for walks she shouts “Bee-bee” when she sees a bird and “Doo-doo” when she sees a dog (that pronunciation is rather fitting, isn’t it?).

She’s really happy to see animals from a distance. She’ll chase after birds and stalk dogs at the park. But once they turn around and pay any attention to her, she runs back to me and wants up.

So, it was a complete surprise to me when she wanted to touch the rather sizable boa constrictor. She had no qualms about doing so.

Perhaps this is because they’ve already met….

When I was heavily pregnant my other niece also had a Cinemazoo party. When the boa constrictor was brought out, it’s handler singled me out of the crowd and asked if I wanted to wear it.

“Hell no!” was my initial reaction. But then he told me that in some cultures it is believed that touching a snake ensures an easy labor.

I practically knocked the chair over and raced up there faster than I had moved in nearly nine months.

The snake was pretty heavy, and other than the tendency to try to wrap itself around my neck, the experience was pretty cool.

Did it work? Well, I don’t think I’d ever use the words ‘easy’ and ‘labor’ in the same sentence. But it was complication-free and my daughter was born perfectly healthy.

I would have worn a hundred snakes to guarantee that.

The Paradox of Mother’s Day

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Over the years I had come to view Mother’s Day as a day off for mommies. Now on the receiving side I have to say it’s definitely a celebration of motherhood but a mother’s work is never done, even on Mother’s Day.

Basically, it’s kind of like trying to take a Vacation Day while still at the office.

Now, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I love being a mom and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But, like all the other mommies out there, I do get a little burned out from time to time. I recently explained it to my hubby this way: imagine putting in a full day at the office, then instead of coming home you work another shift. Then you go to bed but you’re on call all night. And this is repeated seven days a week, 365 days a year.

I admit in some ways I do it to myself. I don’t take as good care of myself as I should and then I wonder why I feel burned out. But there just aren’t enough hours in the day and one of the easiest ways to fit more in is to give up something I had planned for myself. I say this as I glance down at the few remaining chips of red polish on my toenails. I’ve been meaning to repaint them for the past six weeks.

So, my fantasy for Mother’s Day is a day off. To read, to sleep, to soak in the tub, to give each thing I do my undivided attention.

But that’s not going to happen, both for logistical reasons and because I would miss my kid too much if I didn’t see her all day.

So, after a reality check, my ideal Mother’s Day will hopefully go as follows:

  • An extra hour of sleep. In bed. Alone. I will sleep in the middle and starfish (kinda like my toddler does every night).
  • Chocolate croissants for breakfast. The ones from the Whole Foods frozen food section that I used to like so much until I made the mistake of reading the label and discovered how many calories they contain.
  • To forget about cooking and cleaning and have some sort of family outing such as a walk along the seawall followed by time at the playground.

If I manage to get my toenails painted then that will be a bonus!

Nutrient Enriched Banana Cocoa Mini Muffins for Toddlers

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Ever since my child started eating solid foods I’ve tried many creative ways to get her to eat a more balanced diet.

First there was ‘secret chicken’, a technique that involved stuffing tiny bits of chicken into pieces of sweet potato. The sweet potato got eaten, the chicken got tossed on the floor.

Then, I tried a friend’s brilliant idea: chopping up chicken to a fine powder and hiding it under the tomato sauce on a pizza. She wouldn’t even try it.

I’ve made banana muffins with grated vegetables hidden inside. These she ate but only because I broke down and slathered them with cream cheese.

One thing my daughter loves is anything that looks like it might be made of chocolate. I didn’t want to resort to putting chocolate chips in her muffins (I do put them in my banana bread and she gets bits of that often enough) but I have no problem baking with unsweetened cocoa, which I consider a spice.

I’ve been making these mini muffins for several months now and my daughter hasn’t refused them once (let’s hope I haven’t jinxed it by writing about it!).

This recipe includes crushed Nutrios, which are full of iron, calcium and B vitamins, and is naturally sweetened by banana, applesauce, and honey.

Makes 24 mini muffins and 4 – 5 regular sized muffins, a great decoy for your ‘big kid’ (my hubby loves them).

Banana Cocoa Mini Muffins for Picky Eaters

Ingredients:

  • Nutrios, 2 cups (3/4c crushed)
  • Flour, 1 1/4 cup
  • Baking soda, 1 tsp
  • Baking powder, 1 tsp
  • Salt, 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp
  • Cocoa, unsweetened, 2 tbsp
  • Mashed banana, 1 1/2 cups (~3 large very ripe bananas)
  • Applesauce, 1/2 cup
  • Egg, 2 large
  • Milk or almond milk, 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla extract, 1 tsp
  • Honey, 2 tbsp

First crush your Nutrios. Place 2 cups into a large sealable freezer bag (or you can use two sandwich sized bags, 1 cup in each).

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Use a rolling pin to crush the Nutrios. I usually keep going until I have a mixture of fine powder and tiny pieces.

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The two cups of Nutrios translates into ~3/4 cup powdered, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. You want two cups total of powdered Nutrios plus flour so add the crushed Nutrios to a 2c measuring cup and fill to the top with flour.

Technically when baking you’re supposed to mix all the dry ingredients together, then all the wet ingredients together and slowly add the dry to the wet.

I never do it this way. If you’re like me, your toddler will be trying to climb you while you’re mixing ingredients and any short cuts are welcome.

Just dump the dry ingredients into a bowl, give it a good mix, then dump in the wet ingredients in any order (although I do recommend you mash the banana separately or you’ll have lumpy muffins). Give it all a thorough mix.

Preheat your oven to 350F. Add paper muffin cups to a mini muffin tray and a few to a regular muffin tray. Spoon your mixture into the cups leaving a little room at the top for expansion.

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Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. The Nutrios tend to retain moisture so these muffins take a little longer to cook than others.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 – 25 minutes for mini muffins
25 – 30 minutes for regular muffins

Let the muffins cool on a cooling rack. When completely cool, you can keep a few in the fridge and freeze the rest. I like to pull out a few days worth at a time.

References:
Sugar and Oil Free Banana Bread
Chocolate Banana Bread

Nervous Parent / Calm Parent

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Unless you batten down the hatches and are prepared to live life as a hermit throughout the winter months, it’s inevitable that kids (and parents) will get sick.

So far we’ve had two rounds of illness this year, a fairly conservative number when compared with friends who have school aged children.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when the little squirt is sick, one of us is nervous about it while the other is calm. I guess this is the medical equivalent of Good Cop / Bad Cop.

Damn You Norovirus, Damn You!

I kicked off our stomach flu relay in February. In between trips to the bathroom I nursed the Little One with the hope that my antibodies would keep her from getting sick.

No dice. Two nights later she awoke in the middle of the night. Often I am the one dealing with nighttime wake-ups while hubby sleeps on blissfully unaware, but this time he was wide awake too. I guess being thrown up on has that effect.

We raced to the bathroom and even though I’m the diaper blowout guru and accustomed to mess, I have to say I was completely flustered. My mind was drawing a blank. Poop is one thing, vomit is an entirely different animal. Hubby, although dripping with puke and holding an upset toddler, was perfectly levelheaded. “Get some towels and wet wipes,” he instructed me. Oh yeah, good idea, why didn’t I think of that?

We stayed up with her the rest of the night while she alternated between nursing, sleeping and vomiting. By morning my inner calm had returned and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. With the change pad nowhere in sight (Little One had been using it as a Superman cape the previous night) she had a massive diaper explosion just as hubby was getting into full swing with his bout of the stomach flu. Fun times.

And Another Virus…

Our second illness this year started with hubby. I swear office buildings are as bad as daycare and school for spreading germs.

A few days later my daughter spiked a fever in the middle of the night (why do these things always happen during sleepy time?). Hubby typically gets nervous at the first sign of fever but I just see it as something the body needs to do to fight off illness.

So, it was my turn to be Calm Parent. In part I really felt like everything was under control and all would be well. But, to be completely honest, this was also because I suck at Centigrade.

I spent part of my childhood in the US and I remember it being really hot in the summer, so I learned hot temperatures in Fahrenheit. When we returned to Canada, I was struck by how cold it was in the winter and learned cool temperatures in Centigrade. To this day I still do hot in F and cold in C, it’s one of my quirks.

We have one of those ThermaScan thermometers that measures temperature via the ear. My daughter hates this, but I suspect she would hate a rectal thermometer even more. We haven’t had to use it too often so I’ve never bothered to switch it to Fahrenheit.

So, measuring her temperature in Centigrade, hubby was getting more and more nervous while I still had a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. By morning the Tylenol had helped to bring the fever down and hubby breathed a sigh of relief.

I finally did a Centigrade to Fahrenheit conversion of her highest temperature and was glad I hadn’t done it earlier, or else I may not have been so calm.

I think it’s important that one parent is the calm one, even if it’s because they have their head stuck in the sand.

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