Monday, May 30, 2011

Let the patty daddy days begin!

Peter officially took the reigns this morning on pat leave with Rory. Honestly, I thought it was going to be so hard leaving these two this morning, but the smiles on both their faces said it all. They are SO excited for these days together.  And that makes me so happy.  I walked out the door with such a huge smile on my face today.

Daddy time is important. So important... and this time for me to focus on getting back into work and Peter leading the charge on the home front is also important and going to be great for Peter and I.

Here's to the sunny patty daddy days ahead.   Peter might even write a guest blog or two, so stay tuned!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Eater to Mr. Picky

I am not sure when it happened, but sometime in the last few months my super fantastic eater has turned into Mr. Picky.  I really feel I gave the nutrition battle all I had in those early days of weaning, to set this kid up for success. I made all of Rory’s food myself and offered it in a colourful variety... In fact, bottled food never touched my child’s mouth until about 9 or 10 months when we stayed for  an unplanned dinner in Peterborough, and I had to run out to the local grocery store. He ate it that night, but when I offered it again, he flat out refused.

As we have turned the corner into more baby and eventually toddler led feeding (small pieces of food cut up on his tray that he picks up and eats on his own). The large variety of fruits and vegetables this kid used to devour has seriously started to dwindle.  Recently it’s gotten to the point that all he is eating is cheese, bread, cheerios, oatmeal cereal, pasta, hummus, avocado, bananas, yogurt, apple sauce, mum mums and formula.  

So Terrible.

And, I really really don’t want to raise a picky eater.  So what to do?

I have spent the last couple of weeks reading about dwindling appetites as kids approach one.  There are lots of theories.  Too distracted, too much formula/filling up on liquids, asserting independence, emerging sweet tooth, offering too large a variety at one meal... Blah blah blah.  My real fear is what the heck is this kid going to eat at daycare when he refuses lunch? Because they certainly will not be offering multiple choices at the dinner table like we are?

So here’s a few things we’re doing. We’re weaning him off the bottle.  It's apparently easier at one than it is at two, and I want him to start eating better anyway, so why not?  And actually, it is going super well.  As of this weekend we're down from four to two. He only has a bottle when he wakes up in the morning and one before bed and everything else is sippy cup. Total side note here, but sippy cups have been the bane of my existence for a few months now. I have easily spent $75 dollars (at 5 or 6 bucks a pop) on different kinds of cups trying to get Rory to just drink even a little bit, from one.  To no avail... Until I found this one.  

Actually, until one of my mom friends found this one.  It’s amazing. It’s a sippy cup sensation. We now have four of them, and Rory will pound back entire bottles of water AND milk out of them.   HOORAY! And so awesome that he won’t be dehydrated all summer. Right?

If you’re interested, you can get them at Marshall’s for like 3.00$ on clearance (regularly sold for 12.35$ each). We were there today.

The other “break through”  we had this weekend (aside from Rory trying Watermelon and him LOVING it), is such a simple idea I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself.  My suspicion about this food regression with Rory has been he doesn’t like the texture of a lot of the fruit and veggies I put on his plate for him to pick up himself.  He squishes most of his dinner in his hands and makes this "yuk" face. But he LOVES the same dinner if I puree it, so it’s definitely not a total food revolt.  So, I read on line that rolling fruit and veggies in a cereal (like corn flake crumbs) might help.  

So we tired it out and guess what?!!!  HE DEVOURED his entire tray!!!  YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I even got him to eat raspberries. Which, is pretty much a fruit miracle in this house.

Anyway, if you’re ever having similar issues, give it a shot.  The dip and feed technique has helped us round a major picky eater corner. My happy eater just might be back!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh Gramma

Oh, how we love when you come to visit.  You make our lives so much easier when you're here, and you teach Rory amazing new things with each visit... like how to raise his hands in the air and say "weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" when he is on a swing. Or last night in his highchair. And when he was sitting on the floor drinking his bottle this morning.  I think we're in for a lot of 

"weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!" :)

When it comes to a transition back to work, I highly suggest having a live-in-gram to make things a MILLION times easier. Even if only for a week.  It's been amazing.

Gram, you have made a week of high fevers, sore teeth, unrelenting rain, sleepless nights, and this mamma's first few days back to work SO MUCH EASIER.

Everyone needs a Gramma.  One, or two even better!  And one or two that live close is even better that that. In fact, if Rory ever decides to move away from home I am going to  give it to him straight about the harsh reality of not having family close when you have a baby.   There is nothing like the love and undivided time and attention grandparents give their grandchildren.    Maybe I should start a service in Toronto called "rent a gram".   Brilliant no?

Thanks for everything mom.  We love you.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Working hard for my money

It’s hard.  I think it must be practically impossible once you have a career AND a baby, not to feel perpetually torn between being with your baby, and being with your brain. Just kidding.  But you’re definitely torn between two worlds of work. On the job work, and on the home front work.  Which, lets be honest, is the way more important and harder job.

I knew I would feel this way. In many ways combined with my anxiousness,  I was super excited to get back to work. But I also knew I would almost immediately miss being at home with my little guy. And I do.  I desperately do.  I don’t yet know how to be ok with just seeing my child for an hour in the morning while we all run around getting breakfast and showers, and then a couple of hours at night while we all run around to get dinner, bath and books done.  I am sure we will figure it out.

So, we’re a few days into the week, and things are going well.  I think I am going to like my new job, I have a great space at work with a big window and I am working with what seems like a super smart and well staffed team. And they put me on beer in a strategic role. I couldn’t have asked for a better account to give me a soft landing back into the world of advertising.   I know beer. Beer = easy.  My new desk is surrounded by beer bottles, and beer swag, and our agency has multiple beers on tap in the kitchen.  It’s like coming home really.  And there is nothing like getting your head out of mat leave than going from diapers and sippy cups one day to brainstorms about a Bud Light Caribbean Cruise Party the next.

Maybe shocking my system back into the game was the real strategic decision here. 

Speaking of shocking my system.  My new office is right downtown. Like a one minute walk from Much Music.  It occurred to me last night leaving work that I have been on Queen Street only a handful of times since having Rory. It’s silly, but each day this week I have been a bit amazed that all this activity was going on when I was nursing on my couch.  It’s sometimes hard to remember there is a world outside when you have a baby.  And this week is all about rediscovery.

We have only had a few hiccups so far... All three of us had a sleepless night the night before I started and Rory has had a pretty high fever for the last two days. I would like to tell you that it’s because he misses me so much. But closer to the truth is probably that his teeth are giving him some MAJOR grief.  Other than that, I made a couple of wrong turns on the subway (I can not even try to express how much I hate the subway), I have sore feet from breaking my heels in again... But all in all, it actually sort of feels like I never left the business. Crazy eh?  Oh, and contrary to my earlier fears, I actually do remember most of the industry lingo.    With the exception of things like crowd sourcing, geo social media strategies, and location based apps like instagram, yelp, gowalla and foursquare.  A lot changes in the world of social media in a year (won’t it be funny for Rory when he is older to read about what was “cool” when he was 11 months old, when they are like beaming themselves into boardrooms).

Gramma is here this week (lifesaver – we love you Gramma), which is providing us with an extra set of hands to manage through the first transition of three that will be happening in the next 6 weeks. Daddy officially takes the reigns in 1 day, 8 hours and 23 minutes . And yes, he is watching the pat leave count down THAT closely. I am excited for him to be home with Rory. And totally jealous and slightly irritated by the count down at the same time.  But who could blame the guy. I mean, mat leave is basically like a holiday right?  It’s not hard AT ALL to have dinner on the table, a clean house, and child that is not only alive, but happy as well, by the end of the day. Is it?

So, there it is. I am utterly exhausted, but we’re surviving. Next week I am making a promise to make my lunch more and go to bed earlier.

Happy rainy Thursday.

(The slide between the 5th and 6th floors at the office. 
I haven't been brave enough to use it. Yet.)

The glimpse of the party thrown to officially open our office 3rd floor on Thursday.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Eleven Months

And practically running. This kid is going to be walking in no-time-flat. Just in time for daddy's paternity leave. Hang on tight dad, you're in for a wild 5 weeks with this kid.

Thanks Cynthia for the great Team Shaughnessy onezie! It finally fits!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Taking flight

As Tuesday morning gets closer I can feel a familiar anxiousness building inside of me. This mamma is going back to work, and I am SO nervous about it. Honestly, it feels just like going back to school. Except totally different.

We have been super busy this weekend. Probably for the best. My mind has been completely occupied, so I haven't been able to fret too much about Tuesday morning. Until tonight.  An hour ago, I was trying on possible Tuesday morning "outfit" combinations for Peter. Ugh. I haven't cared about what I wore on a Tuesday morning in eleven months. But I don't suppose my lulu lemons are going to cut it at my new swanky advertising agency, are they?

I really meant to write this totally profound post about what it feels like to be ending my mat leave. But the truth is, I feel kinda spent. I suppose I also feel that what energy I have left, I want to devote to inhaling as much of my little guy as I can tomorrow. So maybe the profoundness will strike in time for Rory's first birthday. But I wouldn't hold your breath.

What I can do though is maybe sum things up a bit... for you, for me, and for my child who is one day going to be reading this...

I made it.

We made it.

And I love you so very very much. You are the most amazing little creature. You have changed me, you have changed us, and everyday I say to myself that I can't believe you are actually ours. You take our breath away. Literally.

And for the record, I have never EVER in my entire life worked as hard as I did this year.

And I have never in my entire life enjoyed more moments, more life, and more of myself.  I am proud of the challenges we have conquered together. I have discovered a depth to myself I didn't know even existed. I love more of myself as a mom, and that is because of you.

Rory, you are a very good baby, and you are a such a HAPPY baby. Your smile makes the faces of strangers everywhere we go light up.  You are the delight much of this world is missing, and I am so honored that even in passing, that I have a child who puts an endless (and without prejudice) amount of smiles back out into the universe.

And as I set the stage to help you enter the world outside our home, I am so proud to take some of the credit for that happiness. I hope you one day will know how so very hard I have tried.

I have loved my time with you. Every single moment. Yeah, even the long and hard ones. I have given you all that I have in this last year together. Sometimes more than I have. Mom's tend to run on a deficit quite a lot actually (someone could have told me).

You are more joy to our lives than I ever dreamed of. 

I have done a lot of personal reflecting on the 'how' of going back to work. I know it's not going to be perfect. I know I won't be able to do what I did before I was a mom. And while very anxious, I feel good that I am setting my own expectations for success.  I am going to try hard. And if I do nothing but set a good example for you, I will feel successful. (You can totally call me out on this Peter the first time I come home with a bottle of wine in my purse in a full on melt down over some website that hasn't launched properly or a failed creative presentation).

And if that summary didn't do the trick... I have a quote from a fantastic collection of short stories written by moms that I have referenced before. I found this anthology early on in my mat leave as a struggled in those early days of who I was and what I was doing.  These words helped a great deal.

~Someday I hope my children will look back and realize I made some sacrifices too . I did it because they are the most important things in the world to me and because with careers, you get a second shot. Maybe not the same glory. Maybe not the same glamour. But with your children, you get one time around and then they're out there in the world, taking what you have given them in the short time that you have. ~

The irony of him holding a globe and wearing a "MAJOR TROUBLE" t-shirt was too much not to post.

Look out world, this kid is preparing for take off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Art Strollers

One last awesome Toronto resource to blog about as I finish up my last few days of leave. Art Strollers is a fantastic resource for Toronto mommies. Specifically they offer workshops, gallery tours, museum tours, stroller friendly walks, and hands on art workshops for mothers and children in Toronto.  All events are child friendly and built around a creative atmosphere.   Recently I participated in one of their workshops called Simply Babies, with my mommy friends. It is an idea that is taking flight within the Toronto mommy network. Honestly, it's such an awesome idea that I am sure photographers everywhere will soon borrow/build on the idea.

Basically, it's photography done in a group setting. In our case, the work shop was held in a super cool art gallery in the distillery district.  Since our shoot was right before mother's day, the focus was on mom and baby (other workshops focus on family). Perfect for my group of mom friends who are all heading back to work. What a great way to wrap up our mat leave together and with our babies.  And to be honest... all too often are moms actually the ones behind the lens. I don't know about you, but there is WAY more pictures of Rory and daddy, than Rory and mommy.

Anyway, one hour of super casual and candid interacting in a big space with our kids, and we all walked away with fantastic shots with us and our babes for under 50$ (even cheaper depending on the size of digital files you wanted to end up with).  Thank you Andrew Taylor - what a great afternoon and way to mark my first year as a mom.

Below is a sample of what we got. Check em out. And then check 'them' out.


And my beautiful mommy friends who I could not have made it through this year without.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wrapping things up

One last week of mat leave... I can't even believe it. But then on the other hand, I totally can. We've been wrapping a lot of things up in the last couple of weeks. I think it's doing something for the "last time" (on mat leave) that has me a bit down. It's the end of my first year with Rory, and while I think we are both almost ready for the baton pass, it's not all going to be easy.

On Friday of last week we got together with my mom's group for the last time all together. My friend Diane starts work Monday and her daughter Beata starts daycare. I think Friday was the hardest day I will have, aside from the first day I walk out the door to go back to work and Rory's first full day at daycare.   These women and babies changed my maternity leave, and have ultimately been the people who have shaped me most as a mom.  I have absolutely no regrets about my mat leave and I really believe it's because of these women. With family so far away, they have been my village.  The biggest and most important piece of advice I would share with anyone who asks what I think has made me a successful mom; is meeting and connecting regularly with other moms. Especially ones who have babies the same age.

So we threw a party. Sort of like a birthday party (given they all turn one in the coming weeks ) but we didn't sing... we wanted to save that for them all at their individual parties. And we only let them have apple muffins not cake. I know, we're so mean.

And, we also had our final swim class!! Rory is like a fish now. Seriously, we have to use less bath water in the tub because he wants to swim away.

Rory and his best girl and swimming buddy Alexis

Transition? What transition?

Way back when we found out we were pregnant (and shortly thereafter gave up our hopes of moving back to Ottawa before our baby was born), I made myself a promise. I promised myself that even though we don't have a lot of family in Toronto, that we would do whatever it took to make sure our kid was well socialized. Meaning... Rory would know way more faces that just ours. Which is probably why in the last 10.5 months I have joined just about every mom activity that exists in the east end of Toronto.

Anyway luck of the draw,or a little good fluke parenting... but we have a happy child.

Never more proof of that than in the last week as we have begun daycare transition. Even though Rory won't start daycare until the second week of July, we are doing weekly play-dates at the daycare to get him used to the staff and the place. This will eventually transition into more frequent and longer trips so he is quite at home by the time he spends his first full day.

He loves it. In fact, the first day he got one small glimpse of an Elmo doll on the floor in the playroom (who he has become super "into" all of the sudden) and he could not get out of my arms fast enough.

Today we arrived and they told me that they were going to seize the beautiful morning weather and take the babies for a big walk. "Go have a coffee" they told me.  So I loaded Rory into their QUAD stroller with the other three babies (too cute), put his hat and sunscreen on... gave him his blanket... and as all the other babies fussed a little, do you want to know what my child did?

He shot me a huge smile behind his soother and waved. Cheeky little monkey.

"See ya mom".

I think my mat leave work here is almost done.

Happy day-care baby = Happy working mom

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma

So obviously I am completely guilty of not writing a mother's day post. Bad Mommy blogger.

Better late than ever, right?

The truth is, it was sort of a rough weekend. I was silly, and will admit I sort of had high expectations for mother's day. Actually I will be honest, I had high expectations for the entire weekend. I don't know what I was thinking?  That maybe some magical force would make the clouds part and shine this miraculous light down from above that would automatically make all mother's glow in the most delightful, restful and peaceful day... and of course the deepest sleep ever.

Talk about setting expectations just a WEE bit too high eh? We had such a lovely weekend... but mother's day doesn't really eliminate a lot of the realities of being a mom? Does it.

So, I definitely got the delight part. The sleep not so much.   As timing would have it, I pulled my back out on Friday morning, which was met with my child going through some of his toughest teething days yet. Not a great combination. But we definitely made the best of it.  I feel I should mention how awesome of a husband I have. He pulled out all the stops to make it a wonderful weekend for me.

We enjoyed the sun, some antiquing, a delicious brunch, some wonderful margaritas and I also enjoyed an amazing spa day on Saturday (what great timing for a back injury). But most importantly, we enjoyed each other. And even though I am sometimes a slow study... it wasn't lost on me that is exactly what these holidays are all about. Just spending time as a family and loving each other.

So, I am doing this little project right now for my return to the working world. I asked a bunch of moms and dads that I know to give me a list of things that they would share (without judgement) about being a parent. Regardless of what stage they are at.  A dear mommy friend said this and I can't think of words more true to share on mothers day.

~ Being a mom is the greatest love you will ever know in your life. Ever.  And with every fiber of your being you will immediately and completely understand your own mother. If you're lucky, you will be able to go to her and thank her and apologize to her and love her even more than you ever have before. ~

Thanks Heather.

I hope this weekend that you were able to share in some way the wonderfulness that is a mother's love. Even if just by memory, by phone, or by thought. I have never felt so lucky to be included in a group of women.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back to work. Decisions Decisions

I go back to work May 24th. That is 3 weeks from today!  As the date gets closer and closer my anxiety seems to rise about so many things... it will be quicker just to list them I think.
  1. The time that it has been just been Rory and I is coming to an end, and there will be an inevitable pat leave baton pass to my husband Peter for 5 weeks and then to a team of care givers at a chosen daycare.  The long and short of it is... I am worried about missing new things Rory does.
  2. I am going to need to learn how to use my brain again and quickly. 
  3. I haven't completely lost all my baby weight yet. Although, I do feel really good. I am working out HARD right now. Like 5 times a week hard... so I am not too concerned about getting to a comfortable body image in the weeks ahead. But man I would give just about anything to be one of those girls who just lost it all breastfeeding. Gawd, I hate them. :)
So as I look ahead and the big changes on the horizon, it's time to make some big decisions. And Daycare is at the top of that list. 

Peter and I prepared ourselves early for the daycare dilemma. It's not easy to find good childcare in this city (that doesn't cost a fortune), so we heeded the advice of many friends and strangers alike and got ourselves on MANY waiting lists even back when we were just 7 months pregnant. Rory is scheduled to start daycare on July 5th, and we haven't heard from a single one of the 9 waiting lists we are on.  Isn't that nuts?? With that said, the options we do have though are VERY good.  

So the current dilemma is this... We are registered at a fantastic daycare in our neighborhood together with each of the babies of the mom's I have been hanging with my entire leave. Awesome right? Totally awesome. We struck collective gold with this place (just the fact we found it right at the moment they were opening a new baby room and ALL got in).  It's walking distance from here, Rory knows all the babies he will be with, it's financially reasonable, their staff is made up of nurses and early childhood care specialists,  and they have all sorts of development activities built into their day plans.  Check, check, check, check. But there was a point a few months back that I got nervous, and I wasn't totally sure a daycare in our neighborhood made sense and that Rory would be better off (and so would I) if he was closer to us. So we wait listed ourselves at the fantastic daycare in Peter's office building and guess what... we found out yesterday we're in. 

What to do. What to do.... I am so torn I am losing sleep over it. A lot of sleep.

The pros and cons are far too many to list. I just want him to be happy and healthy and loved wherever he is at the end of the day... But here are the ones weighing heaviest on my mind are (in no particular order).... 
  1. Proximity. Meaning, how close is Rory to us in order to maximize time with us and lessen time in daycare. (i.e - if he's close, we can pick him up earlier etc). If he's sick we can get to him fast etc etc. 
  2. Developmental Programming/Curriculum (cognitive, communication, social-emotional and sensorimotor) 
  3. Staff Ratio, and Staff Background
  4. Cleanliness and policies on sick kids
  5. Nutrition 
  6. Cost (there is a BIG difference in the cost of these two places)
  7. Safety
  8. References/Licenses. etc
  9. Parental Participation (encouraged or not encouraged)
  10. Sleeping/Napping - Schedules, sleeping accommodations and practices. 
Tomorrow, Rory and I are going to the daycare that we're currently registered at... and then the one in Peter's building. I have my questions ready for both places, I am just not sure if the answer is ever going to be that clear. 

If I try to picture Rory this summer playing outside, is it more important that I can visualize him with all his little friends that he's spent the first year of his life with? Or that I know Peter can just pop upstairs on his lunch and the two of them can enjoy a sandwich in the sun together?

Ugh. the thought of it all is making me sick Stay tuned.