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Surviving (trying to, at least) Parenthood

The moment that little boy came into our lives, life as we knew it was changed forever. I instantly knew I was exactly where I was suppose to be in life. It was an amazing feeling that I have been striving to find for a long time.

Of course there are moments when my sanity is being tested. I knew being a mom wasn’t going to be a cake walk. I’ve had to really pay attention to myself and my needs because those days I spend alone with baby while daddies at work I can easily forget to eat or even go to the bathroom(!).

For my healths sake, I need to take time for me. Becoming a mommy means I make sacrifices but my health can’t ever be one of them. On the days I know I will be alone I wake up an hour before my husband and shower, throw on a load of laundry, have my coffee, shower and do my hair. When I feel prepared and ready to take on the day, everything just goes smoother.

I know baby Oliver feeds off my moods or at the very least when he’s fussy and my patients is running thin, it just make things that much more difficult. Babies moods depends on my moods.

HAPPY MOMMY = HAPPY BABY

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First Anniversary

At the beginning of 2013 we promised to make it “our year” and dammit, we sure did just that! We accomplished every single one of our goals:

  • We enjoyed our free time (camping, travelling, concerts, etc)
  • Went down south with our entire family
  • Got engaged
  • Got married
  • Got pregnant

It was a big year for us! As we celebrate a whole year gone by since our anniversary, we are about to embark on the next chapter of our lives. Our son is due in only a few short sleeps and we are expecting him any time now.

We are the happiest parents-to-be that we could be! It’s been such an amazing ride and we just can’t wait to welcome him into our world. (Not to mention my belly is really starting to get in the way!)

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What’s in baby’s hospital bag!?

Babies Hospital Bag -- what to pack

 

Now for the cute stuff! Packing for baby was both surreal and stressful. I’ve never had a baby before so I really don’t know what to expect. Some experienced local mommies gave me a few tips about what I’ll need for giving birth in our local baby and momma hospital which is invaluable because every hospital is different. Here’s what we are bringing:

What to pack for baby for labour and delivery

We are planning to cloth diaper once we get home but for the hospital we decided it would be best to go with disposables because

  1. There will already be a lot going on, learning wise, for us and we don’t want to add any unneeded stress.
  2. We only have about 12 newborn cloth diapers and they will have to be washed daily and if we are in the hospital for more than a day, that wont fly.
  3. MECONIUM. Those first few baby poops are expected to be nasty and could leave some bad stains in the cloth diapers.

Now for babies wardrobe! The goal is to just have him in his diaper and wrapped up in his blankie for ample skin-to-skin time with both my husband and I. Did you know a new mom’s body is able to adjust its temperature in order to keep baby at the optimal temperature? ahhh nature!

What to pack for baby for the hospital

 

  • 3 sleepers
  • 3 onesies
  • 2 hand-made sweaters from Grandma
  • 4 little hats
  • 6 socks and 4 mitts

Of what we’ve packed we’ll choose what he’s coming home in, unless we find something way too cute to pass up before then, which is highly likely! To me it doesn’t feel like enough clothing but if he’s just in his diaper for majority of the time we are in the hospital, it should be more than enough. And if we need fresh clothes, daddy can run home and grab some! We only live 5 minutes from the hospital.

So what do you think? Too much? Not enough? Let me know in the comments!

Happy baby-bag packing!!

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Cloth Diapering — “WHY!?”

Disclaimer **The following is why we are choosing to cloth diaper. In no way are we trying to bully or make anyone feel guilty for their decisions. There’s already too much of that in the parenting world as it is! We just wanted to answer that why question once and for all**

My husband and I have been questioned many times already about our decision to cloth diaper our son and I expect there will be lots more questions to come on the subject.

A couple of years ago I started reading about cloth diapering and it’s resurgence. Before 1948 when the first mass-marketed disposable diaper was released, there was no choice but to use a flour sack towel, a safety pin, and rubber pants. From what my mom has told me babies didn’t sleep through the night because they were soaking wet and covered in feces — a fantastic reason to be excited about disposable diapers.

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Shanghai Green by Charlie Banana||Teal & Lime by Funky Fluff|| Custom Galaxy by Lally’s Fabric Fluff ||Preppy lil Joey by Rumparooz||Handsome by Charlie Banana||Jubilee by Tots Bots|| Custom Anchor & Sripes by Lally’s Fabric Fluff 

But over the years, things have changed in the world of cloth diapering. When I uttered the words “cloth diapers” to my mom, the first thing she said was “good luck”. But with the new styles on the market today, you don’t need luck. You also don’t need to haul them down the river side and bang them against rocks. Hallelujah for the twenty-first century!

There are actually a couple of reasons for why we’ve decided to embrace cloth in our lives. The first and most important reason is our son’s health. I can’t knowingly strap a plastic bag to my sons genitals and let him stew in a toxic waste dump for hours on end. Families love that disposable diapers can last all night and they don’t have to change their child. I can get on board with a full nights sleep, believe me! But if I had a choice (which I do), I also wouldn’t want to lay in my own urine-soaked filth so out of respect for my child, I will gladly wake up and change him if he needs to be changed. That being said, the fabrics used in cloth diapering have made leaps and bounds over the years and are super absorbent and are able to make it through the night. Nowadays it’s common to find diaper inserts made out of hemp, micro terry, bamboo and fleece just to name a few.

The second reason is a huge plus: $AVINGS! Who doesn’t wish they could save an extra $100 a month on something that just gets thrown out anyhow. I personally HATE throwing things out. I’m a quality vs quantity type of person and would rather spend $25 on one reusable diaper than $25 on a package of diapers that end up being thrown out. So far we’ve spent in the neighbourhood of $400 getting set up to cloth diaper. The initial up-front cost can be a huge barrier to getting started with cloth diapering and that’s completely understandable. Organizations like Cloth for a Cause take used diapers, wash and replace elastics, and help families in need get started with cloth diapering. Once you set a family up, the savings that follows can be a real gift.

There’s also cloth companies like Alva and THX that sell diapers that have been made in China (sometimes nicknamed “China cheapies”) and shipped to Canada at a fraction of the cost of some of the bigger, well-known, cloth companies that are strictly made in Canada, USA, or the UK. There’s a whole discussion around whether or not it’s ethical to support these foreign companies, but that’s for another day. When you’re just starting out in the cloth world and don’t know whether or not it’s for your family, these “China cheapies” can be a great option. Also try Kijiji and search online for a local Cloth Diaper group where you’ll be sure to find fellow mom’s and dad’s selling and swapping diapers at a fraction of the price of new. Majority of our diapers were pre-loved by other local moms. As soon as they came to our home, they were put in the wash to get rid of any “cooties”. *If you are buying pre-loved, make sure you take extra care to get rid of any yeast infections living in the diaper*.

Below is a cost breakdown done by Sweet Bottoms Baby.

Cost-Savings

Another reason why we are planning to cloth diaper our kids is to help the environment. Remember those first disposable diapers that were mass produced in 1948? Well they aren’t expected to decompose until the year 2500 and even then, we won’t be around to say for sure that they have in fact decomposed. That’s a whole lot of poopy diapers in our landfills! I mentioned earlier that I hate throwing things away. Garbage of any kind really drives me nuts and if I can prevent more garbage from winding up in landfills just by switching to reusable diapers, then that’s a win for me!

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering “What about all that water and electricity you’ll use by washing diapers every day!”

Check out these info graphics by Gro-Via that were used for Earth Day to show the amount of water used to wash cloth vs producing a disposable:

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I don’t know the validity of this statement but I’ve heard one flush of the toilet uses the same amount of water it would take to do a load of diapers in the wash. When it comes to the use of electricity, we have a High Efficiency washer and dryer, we wash on cold (according to Gro-Via, 90% of the energy used by your washer is to heat the water), and we hang to dry. We’ll already be doing lots more laundry for our new little person so what’s 10 or so more diapers a day?

So that answers the all important why question. Once we are elbow deep in dirty cloth diapers, I’ll answer the how!

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Baby Gear – Saving Money

I think we can all agree money and finances are a huge stress for most people! I’ve talked before on the blog about how I save and what I use to keep my finances on track and in the black.

Now it’s not huge surprise babies are not cheap! They come with a lot ofupfront costs which can be a little overwhelming if you’re unprepared. Nine months seems to just fly right by and before you know it, baby has arrived.

Now before we decided to get pregnant, we saved up quite a bit and used a lot of the money people gave us as wedding gifts to start saving for baby expenses, which we both knew weren’t too far down the road.

Babies grow quickly, this is a fact. Therefore they outgrow clothing and equipment FAST. When looking at baby stuff, we asked ourselves how long we realistically saw a piece being used for. Then we would weigh the price. For example there’s a baby swing we fell in love with because it’s gorgeous, it looks nice, and did I mention it’s pretty? But realistically the baby will only be in it for a few short months and with a price tag of $300, we couldn’t justify it.

During this pregnancy journey I started joining Mommy Buy Sell Trade groups on Facebook and I learned pretty quickly that when you have nice stuff and keep it in working order, you can turn around and sell it for a decent price. But further to that, you can find amazing deals on stuff you otherwise wouldn’t get because of the cost.

I’ve compiled a list of all the baby stuff I’ve managed to buy used:

Phil & Ted Navigator Stroller with second seat attachment, sun cover, & rain cover ….$735 new….used for $350 (USED TWICE!, I MAY ADD)

Charlie Banana/Bum Genius/Tots Bots Cloth Diapers…$500 new…used for $250

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Bumbo with tray…$100 new…used for $30

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Babies R Us Glider Chair…$549 new…used for $250

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Motorola WIFI baby video monitor…$250 new…used for $125 (NEVER OUT OF THE BOX)

Skip Hop Diaper Bag $60 new….used for $30

Another huge expense is all the tiny clothes! Who knew such tiny things could cost so much money! But again, they grow out of them so quickly that it can be so hard to justify spending $30 on an outfit a child will hopefully wear once. The thing about clothes is that people are more than willing to pass on their used clothing. So many of our friends have been such saints and offered us piles of clothes for our little guy. It warms my heart to see such generosity! I can’t wait to return the favour and pass these wonderful memory-filled pieces onto the next momma who needs them!

But there are places we refuse to skimp financially. Where safety is our one and only concern, all bets are off. When it comes to our sons car seat, crib, and mattress, I refuse to buy used for obvious reasons. But that being said we still managed to get what we wanted in terms of safety for a decent price!

It does take research and lot of hunting on kijiji and other places to score some good deals for kids stuff but it is so worth it!

In closing, there’s three main tips to follow:

START EARLY!

As soon as you know you’re pregnant, start browsing. Figure out what you want and what will make sense for your life style. Although you may not know the gender, there are plenty of items that you can get in gender neutral colours and will then last you for future kids or will sell easier when you’re done with them because buyers won’t be restricted by gendered colours.

LOOK OFTEN!

Always be browsing kijiji and Facebook groups because the good stuff moves quickly!

BE OK WITH USED!

Especially when it comes to clothes! Sure, they get pooped in and puked on but that’s what washing machines are for. Plus majority of items under 12 months are only worn a few times before they are outgrown. Also, most items stay in relatively good condition because little ones aren’t playing too hard yet!

RE-SELL YOUR BABY GEAR ASAP!

A lot of people ask me if I plan to save stuff for future kiddies and I originally thought I would but a lot of the things I bought used, I plan to sell right away and try and get back what I paid. The main reason for this is styles change, technology gets better, and recalls happen. When its time for baby number 2, all the latest and greatest will be available second hand just like the stuff we found this time around! If we put our gear away and in storage and wait a few years before we go to use it again or go to sell it, it won’t be worth as much. All the money from re-sale will go BACK into the babies savings account for the next little rug rat that comes into our lives. In stead of collecting dust, it’s collecting interest. 

I hope some of these tips inspire you to get thrifty wit’ it! Do you have any tips or shopping secrets to share? Comment below!

HAPPY BABY GEAR SHOPPING

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Our little blue bundle of joy

Before I got pregnant and even in the first few weeks of pregnancy, I thought I understood what it felt like to already love my baby. I knew no matter what it looked like, no matter the gender, I knew I would love him or her more than anything. And I thought I already did!

Over the weekend we had our 3D ultrasound at 3D Miracles in Halifax. Nothing can really prepare you for the explosion of emotion one feels when that ultrasound thingy slides across your tummy for the first time, revealing your little baby that you’ve been carefully nurturing and protecting for 5 months. We haven’t had any ultrasounds during the pregnancy so this was the first time seeing the little baby. I had googled 3D ultrasounds to see what kind of detail we’d see and look at pictures of other babies but I was completely blown away when I saw baby MOVING! It was the most surreal experience the two of us have ever had.

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And oh my god, it’s a boy! My tiny little baby boy was moving his head and arms and little legs. We even got to see him PEE! Though I haven’t really been able to feel major kicks yet, I know he’s moving around but to SEE him move around…WOW! Talk about instantly falling in love. There was nothing better than watching my husband watch his tiny little son — it was so moving!

I was fully prepared for a girl or a boy! We knew we just wanted a baby and gender wasn’t a big deal at all. Of course as a woman, I’d always dreamed of dressing a tiny little girl in dresses and doing her hair but to be completely honest, I couldn’t be happier to have a little miniature version of my husband! We’ve already got plans to get him mini Sperry Topsiders just like his daddy!

One of the most exciting things about having a little boy is raising him to be the kind of man I would want my daughter to marry — respectful, kind, and loving. Just like his father!

For most of the pregnancy, I’ve just been going about my business while my body carries out the extraordinary task of creating life. I definatly forget just how amazing it all really is and to have that glimpse inside my body and see that everything is just fine and dandy and there’s a little baby boy just in there kickin’ it was the greatest reminder of how incredible my body (and every other female body) really is. It’s nice to know all the nausea, back aches, and sleepless nights are all just a tiny sacrifice for my little boo. It also does wonders to help me accept my growing and changing body.

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I’m now very noticeably pregnant and none of my pre-pregnancy pants fit anymore but you know what? It’s OK! I know I always knew it was all for a good reason and perfectly natural but to see that little baby boy and to know he’s doing just fine really does make it that much easier to admire my new body in the mirror.

OK enough rambling!

xoxoxox

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Body Anxiety: My Changing Pregnant Body

 

There’s a lot other women and doctors don’t tell you about pregnancy. I think if they did tell women all the gory details, no one would dare have a baby. Also the list of unpleasant body changes and emotional turmoil a woman experiences is far too long.

By far the most challenging thing I’ve had to endure so far is weight gain. I’m sure it makes me sound like a terrible mom and an awful woman but the weight gain has got to be the most depressing thing on the planet. I understand it’s for a good cause, but it’s still painful. I’ve lived my whole life trying to stave off weight gain and in one fell swoop I’m supposed to just embrace my ever-expanding waistline.

Within the first two months of pregnancy, I ballooned like a damn beached whale and I was getting comments like, “I’ve never seen someone show so soon” and “You must be having twins”, but then my waistline miraculously shrunk back down. After much googling, I realized it was completely normal for bloating within the first trimester and then for it to subside.

As of now though, none of my pre-pregnancy jeans fit and any tight t-shirts are insanely mid-drift barring. OH, and all my workout clothes look like sausage casings, so that makes it challenging to look at myself in the mirror at the gym. But it’s all for a good cause, right?

Not to mention the fact that in 2 weeks, I’m suppose to fit into my WEDDING DRESS for our second wedding party in Cuba this Christmas. All the while my mom is in my ear about her vegan, clean-eating, challenge and all the weight she’s loosing. I told her how it must being coming off her and on to me and she lectured me about how it’s going to be hard to lose the baby weight once junior is born.

When I first began this beautiful pregnancy journey, I was constantly nauseous and couldn’t stomach being in the kitchen, eating vegetables, or eating anything other than carbs without dry heaving. Now that I’m able to stomach a wider variety of things, I’m actually doing a lot better with the weight gain and I’m starting to feel it even out a bit more and stabilize. For a few weeks there I could only stomach bagels and cream cheese, popcorn, eggs on toast, and salt and vinegar chips but now my day looks like: Eggs on toast, frozen fruit and soy milk smoothies and stir fries and veggie filled pastas. I’m still not able to stomach too much meat which is fine by me. I’m taking lots of vitamins to supplement the lack of protein in my diet.

All these feelings I’ve been having have been teaching me about selflessness. This is the first time in my life I’ve been making major sacrifices for someone else. I’m very much ready for all these changes but it still doesn’t make the blow any less shocking and depressing.

PS: if I didn’t make it absolutely clear, I’m very much in love with my beautiful bundle of baby love and I wouldn’t change any of this for the world.

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The Strength Behind The Uniform

Priscilla Blake, Navy, Canadian, Memoria, PO2 Craig Blake

Once in a while we have people come into our world and put life into perspective for us. You hear their story and their struggles and you learn the value of human life. You understand something just a little bit bigger than yourself.

My dear friend Priscilla Blake came into my life in the fall of 2012. I had just left school to take care of my health and focus on healing, when I met Priscilla at an event I helped a friend put together called “Workout For the Fallen” — an event aimed at honouring our war heroes that live and have lived in our own back yard, fighting for our freedom. Priscilla’s husband PO2 Craig Blake was one of the unfortunate ones. Craig was only a few weeks into his first tour of Afghanistan when an IED killed him and injured a fellow soldier. Craig was the first Canadian Sailor to die overseas in the war. His death came on the eve of the Navy’s 100th anniversary, a time of celebration. While the military community gathered for the celebrations in Parade Square in Halifax Nova Scotia, it was with heavy hearts we learned of Blake’s passing.

I distinctly remember hearing this news. This was my first parade with my Navy boyfriend. I had only just begun my journey as a military spouse, learning the lingo and understanding the protocol. But I understood what this meant. This was huge. This was earth shattering. For the first time I second guessed my lifestyle choice. Could I handle that news? Could anyone?

Priscilla Blake and her family are “the strength behind the uniform” personified. She handles life with grace and dignity, protecting and empowering her two brave children. Her entrance into my world has completely changed my outlook on life. Without knowing it, she’s taught me about what it means to be a military wife. I can confidently say Priscilla leaves a foot print on everyone she meet’s heart. I am so honoured to have her in my life and I treasure our friendship.

PO2 Craig Blake

Saturday afternoon, the community gathered at the former Montebello Park in Dartmouth for the renaming in honour of Craig. The park will forever be known as “PO2 Craig Blake Memorial Park” and as one of the speakers so eloquently put it, children will forever ask their parents who Craig was, when they visit the park. They’ll learn about the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country and they’ll learn about the Blake family who remained the strength behind the uniform.

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Summer Favourites

Over the last few years, instead of talking the talk, I’ve decided to walk the walk when it comes to eliminating toxins from my body. Eating clean, free of processed garbage has been a big step that is now apart of my daily life. The next step is eliminating toxins from my daily beauty routine.

I wanted to share with you the products I’ve switched to.

Shampoo:

I use Lush’s solid shampoo called Karma Komba a couple times a week and I’m hooked. I switched to solids last year, for ease of travel. But another perk is that they last WAY longer than liquid because you add the water to the bar when you lather it up in the shower!

Conditioner:

I LOVE Lush’s solid conditioner called Jungle. It smells AMAZING and leaves your hair feeling clean, soft, and doesn’t leave behind those nasty sulphates! UH MAZE ING

Beachy Sea-Spray:

Lush’s Sea Spray Hair Mist changed my summer! I love wavy hair but I hate having to curl it, especially in the hot summer time. This summer, I got in the habit of washing my hair, braiding it, spritzing the sea spray into my tresses and letting it set! The end result was beachy waves, like I’d spent the day at the beach! Plus it also smells amazing!

Moisturizer:

Obviously I’m a huge fan of Lush’s Karma products. If you’ve never smelled Karma Kream, get to your nearest Lush ASAP. It’s life changing! It smells fresh like flowers and clean like soap. When I’m feeling down, a wife of Karma Kream and I’m feeling brighter.

Make-up Remover:

Straight up olive oil. Before you think I’ve gone of the deep end, take a cotton ball with some olive oil on it and try and take off some mascara! I dare ya! You’ll be instantly converted! It’s gentle and natural!

Feminine Hygiene Products:

A good friend posted an article on Facebook about the chemicals found inside tampons and pads and it got me wondering why I’d never questioned whats inside something I put inside me. It never occurred to me to question it but after some digging, I found a product I can trust. Natracare doesn’t use harsh bleaches to whiten their products and they only use cotton. I’ve been using them for quite some time now and I’ve noticed their absorbency is even better than the others, which makes up for their price tag, which is a few more dollars a box than their competitors.