Monday, October 31, 2016

My last day of maternity leave...

Today is my last day of maternity leave. It is bitter sweet because I know "real life" begins tomorrow... juggling my little dude, daycare, work, housework, exercise, alone time, date time with the Mr. and more. The past year has been wonderful in so many ways, eye opening in many other ways and has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible. 

As I reflect on the past year the number one thing that has changed are my priorities. Yes, I still want to wear fabulous shoes whenever possible... but somehow seeking out and finding the most awesome Paw Patrol lunch box takes priority over scouring the internet for the latest fall fashion trends. 

I consider the past year of self discovery as a journey and not really as a "leave" - I left work for a year, but I did the most rewarding and exhausting unpaid work. I learned how to be a mom to the most handsome little dude in the world (I know, every mom says that about their kid... but look at him! He is pretty adorable). 

The journey started a few weeks before my little dude was born. I was fortunate to have some "me time" before he arrived and since he was 11 days overdue, it was even longer than I had anticipated. During this time I made freezer meals, went for walks, did lots of colouring and really just did things around the house at my own pregnant/leisurely pace. I didn't realize at the time that was the last time I would do things at a leisurely pace for quite a while!

Then it happened. After 41+ weeks of waiting, my little dude finally arrived! I will refrain from sharing the details about his birth as I would like to encourage others to have children in the future and fear my little dude's birth story might deter you. All you really need to know is that we both survived, we are both healthy and he was/is worth it! 

The next stage of the journey was leaving the hospital and being a mom for the first month. I tried breastfeeding for 3 weeks and with milk never coming in it was a lost cause. Little did I know that even though I was feeding my little dude every 3 hours for about 45 minutes at a time that he wasn't getting anything. We realized when he was 5 days old and had lost too much weight - the nurse gave him formula as a supplement and he drank it in record time. For the 2 weeks after I kept trying to breast feed but was also supplementing with formula. After 3 weeks and still no sign of milk coming in we started feeding him exclusively formula. 

What I want you to take away from this part of my journey is this: you always hear about the amazing breastfeeding moments between mothers and their babies and all the nutrients breastfeeding  provides a baby. While I agree with those claims and encourage anyone to try it I have to say it was not for me. My case is a bit unique because it wasn't working and I was never comfortable to breastfeed in public, so the day I stopped trying although I still couldn't really go anywhere I felt free. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, I knew my baby was getting fed properly and if I wanted to go somewhere I had more than 2 hours to get there and back. For the first time in months I felt a little bit like myself again. The point of telling you this is for every mom to realize what works for someone else might not work for you and YOU know what is best for YOU! Make your own choices, be confident in them and be proud of what you are doing for yourself and your baby.

I found the first month to be the hardest in many ways - 
  • I wanted to talk about something other than the baby and that's all anyone wanted to talk about with me
  • I wanted to know what was going on at work and be involved
  • I was bored, babies sleep a lot and you are busy but spuratically. I was used to a busy lifestyle and found myself wanting to do "my stuff" but yet couldn't find time to do it. That was hard on the head for me... how can you be bored and not have time to do stuff you wanna do?
  • I felt physically and mentally exhausted. I remember thinking I would exercise right away etc, when in the end it felt like a huge accomplishment to shower and possibly sit in a car and not look totally weird for that month and more. 
Skip forward to my little dude as a 4 month old. He started sleeping 8-10 hours through the night all the time, he started sitting on his own, he became a lot more interactive and really developed into a tiny human (as opposed to a baby) at that age. Spring was right around the corner, the days were getting longer and I had lost 18 pounds making me feel quite a bit better about myself (again, both physically and mentally). Thankfully this joyful stage of my journey lasted quite a while. It was a fun time to be home, try new recipes, go for long walks during and time and enjoy playing with my little dude.

Then he started to move! From 8-11 months he was crawling... first only in reverse or in circles, then he figured out how to sit up in his own and finally discovered that if he used his toes he could move forward in an army crawl. It didn't take long after that for him to master going up and down the step between our kitchen and living room and eventually crawl on all fours. From 8 months to 11 months I could see my "me time" slipping away again as he was on the move all the time and his naps were getting shorter. My saving grace was the exersaucer/activity jumper and that it was summer time so we could be outside a lot of the time!

Little dude as a moving, crawling, walking, climbing, exploring baby the journey has become even more crazy. Since he was 10 months I started to think "ok, this is what everyone meant when they say <you'll be busy!>" and I started to think "I am near ready to go back to work". And, no... that doesn't make me a bad person or a bad mom. That makes me a mom whose loves her kid but also loves her sanity. 

As I look back at the past year there were many highs and many lows. I don't think I had post part depression, but I most certainly think I had the baby blues for quite a while. The Mr. now deserves an award for being the most patient, kind and loving person in the world! I know there were many days and possibly even weeks I was not a delight to live with, but he did and always with a smile on his face all while working a demanding job and also living with a newborn.

With new priorities, a new outfit or two and an office makeover underway I am ready for yet another fresh start as I head back to work. I look forward to writing about my experiences as a working mom and juggling real life... all while wearing fabulous shoes of course!

My shoes for that: Tory Burch Riding Boots (as worn in the family picture in this post)

Side note: This post was written while sitting in a parking lot waiting for my little dude to wake up between his vaccination appointment and his doctor appointment. Multi-tasking and making us of any "free time" at its best!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sugarloaf Provincial Park, Atholville NB

Fall is my favourite season - the leaves change into beautiful colours making even the most "usual" of drives extraordinary. The temperature is ideal for outdoor activities and you get to cuddle up with a blanket on the sofa in the evening. Lastly, it's when my little dude was born, so the fall is even more special now. 

Fall temperatures are ideal for hiking in my opinion and with the colours to admire it makes any climb even more worth while when you get to the top of that mountain (you know, the one you were meaning to climb all summer) and see those colours! This leads me to today's destination - Sugarloaf Provincial Park in Atholville, NB (next to Campbellton, NB). 

Before our little dude came into our lives we made Sugarloaf Park a regular destination on Sundays. We would arrive around lunch time, climb the mountain and then stop at Moulin Cafe (as described in my Charlo by the bay post) on the way home for a late lunch/dinner.  Any hike deserves a good meal as a reward!

Sugarloaf is ideal for hikers and walkers of all levels. You can choose to walk around the mountain (4km) on trails suitable for walking, biking or even pushing a stroller. About half way around the mountain you will have the option to go up the mountain or continue around. Going up the mountain is a bit more difficult - so if you are not used to climbing or are not in decent physical condition you might want to save this trail for a future visit. But for those ready to take on the challenge - it's worth it! 
The view is a unique perspective of the Restigouche River and the estuary where it meets the Bay of Chaleur. You will look across at the Gaspé region of Quebec and see the Van Horne bridge which connects New Brunswick and Quebec. Take a snack with you to enjoy at the top, get some pictures and then head back down. 

We climbed sugarloaf this summer with our little dude. It was his first "real" hiking experience and the Mr. 'a first time carrying him up a mountain! They both did awesome! 

When you get to the bottom you can go into the lodge where you will find the T-bar restaurant. It's a great restaurant with many options (and lots of high chairs!). We don't usually stop here after hiking but have enjoyed a selection of their menu items for birthday lunches, work dinners and date nights. 
Birthday Lunch with Nanny - June 2016
The park also offers downhill mountain biking, camping and a variety of winter activities including both downhill and cross country skiing. I think Sugarloaf Park is one that we take for granted when we live nearby and forget about when we don't... so, consider this your little reminder to get out there and enjoy it!

Happy Hiking!

My shoes for that: Nike baby girl sneakers (not for my Little Dude, but how adorable are these?!)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Baby's favourite toys - Age 0-10 months

There are so many toys that we as parents know our babies need! Am I right??? When really, for the most part, they are happy playing with a remote control, an empty plastic bowl or other items you've had around the house since long before they were even born. Hopefully this post will serve as a guide of which toys babies actually play with (for more than a day...) and give you lots of pictures to enjoy.

About the pictures... I feel like I need to warn you before you start reading through this post. I had a great time looking through pictures of my little dude to go with this post, and, well... let's just say I had a hard time choosing between pictures of him with his favourite toys. Enjoy!

In no particular order - here is the list of my little dude's top 10 favourite toys from age 0-10 months:

1. Oball - I am cheating a bit because there are actually 2 toys by Oball that my little dude loves. 
The Ball Rattle and the Car
He has played with the ball ever since he could hold anything and has loved it ever since. It has worked to get his attention for many photo shoots, acted as motivation to encourage crawling and was his favourite toy to reach for when doing tummy time at younger ages.
Both toys have rattles in them helping to keep little dude's attention. The car helped him learn to play interactively and push it from one place to another (with the occasional throwing, tossing or kicking of it to make it "go").

2. Wooden Teething Ring - I received this as a gift from a friend of mine. She purchased it in Moncton, NB at Bean & Bear. It has always been one of the toys I carry in my diaper bag, brought to baby group and made it available at home. My little dude has chewed on it (ALOT), played with the crinkle material, taken it apart, etc. For something so simple it has provided more entertainment than I ever thought possible. And, it's from a local company!

3. Sophie la Girafe - Before even becoming pregnant I had heard other children's parents talking about Sophie and I had to know what the fuss was all about. I was amazed when I looked at the website and read about all the things Sophie does to encourage development etc. Basically, the website (to me) made it sound like you need Sophie for your child to live a normal healthy childhood.
I gave my little dude Sophie from a young age (1.5 months or so) and let him try to hold her, kick her to the ground, etc. until she ultimately became his BFF. Although I believe he would have developed just fine without this rather pricey giraffe - I am happy to report that he has certainly made the investment worth while. He still (at 11.5 months) looks for her occasionally as his favourite chew toy/squeek toy. Sophie has been a favourite through all situations... travelling in the car, watching football with the boys, playing outside and hanging out inside.

4. Captain Calamari - It attaches to car seat handles, strollers etc. and is the perfect companion for "on-the-go". It has so many different activities all incorporated into one octopus that it is sure to keep your little one entertained. It kept (and still keeps) my little dude entertained in the car longer than any other similar toy (except for his fabric book when he was younger, but we'll get to that). This toy is colourful and has a great win!

5. Books - There are really 3 parts to this one... The "fabric book" that attaches to things, books in general and "Good Morning, Canada".

The "fabric book" was a dollar store find that my little dude LOVED! There are many more expensive versions of these books, but it is likely more you (the parent) that likes the look of the more expensive ones better vs. what baby thinks. If you can find one of these I highly recommend picking one up! If you can't find the dollar store version, Lamaze makes a few very colourful versions that will work just as well.
I received a ton of books at my baby shower as it was requested that people give books instead of cards. That said, I started putting them around the house so they were available for my little dude to grab for instead of just taking one out at a time for "reading time". It ended up being a great idea! He is a pretty wild little child but he will sit (at younger ages) or stand at the coffee table and look at books for a good 30 minutes. I'm not sure about you, but there are very few things that I have found to amuse a baby for that long!

And finally, "Good Morning, Canada"! I was reluctant at first to put books out with pages he could rip, but then figured they are his books... if he rips them it will just add character. This book quickly became his favourite! He wants to read it several times per day, likes trying to turn the pages with his finger and he can find this book no matter where you put it or where it is in the pile of books that now live on my coffee table. It calms him down when he is upset... all in all, I can't say enough about this book. He LOVES it!

6. Hape Double Bubble Wooden Bead Maze - I bought this as a result of my little dude throwing his toys on the floor when sitting in his bumbo chair or in his highchair. He had shown interest in moving beads on his Activity Jumper and so I thought this might be a good solution. And, it was! He played with the bead maze from the time I bought it (when he was 6 months old) and still plays with it while we (his parents) are eating dinner or even when he finds it in his toy box.

7. Coo Coo Clock - It sings may different songs, makes fun noises and I am hoping that in the future it can be a fun tool for me to use to help teach my little dude to tell time. He plays with the buttons, tries to pull the bird out and seems to really like this toy. This Fisher Price Clock is a really good value for the amount of entertainment it has provided.

8. Sensory Balls - My little dude is shaping up to be a true little boy; he seems to like all things traditionally for boys. Playing with cars and balls are at the top of the list - these Little Tikes Sensory Balls are his favourite balls to play "catch" with. He loves to chase them around, hand it to you and have you throw it back to him or he will throw it and fetch it himself. They are easy to hold and provide for a fun way to play with your little one.

9. Pour & Float Froggy - Bath time just became WAY more entertaining for both you and your little one. If you are anything like me, by the end of the day (bath time), you are starting to lose steam from entertaining your little one all day (if you on maternity leave) or from a long day at work (if back to work). My little dude loves buttons and toys that sing, so this froggy from V-Tech is the perfect solution for bath time entertainment! We started using this toy as soon as my little dude started using the "big" bath tub and we use it at every bath time to this day. Oh, and did I mention it works well for the pool outside as well? Bonus!

10. Scout (or Violet) - This might be a situation where I have saved the best for last... Scout, by LeapFrog has been a fan favourite since my little dude was about a month old! He doesn't use it or play with it everyday anymore, but still smiles when he sees it and I assume he will play with Scout more and more once he figures out how to push the buttons on his hands.
Cousins at 4 months old (Little Dude) and 2 months old (Baby E) being entertained by Violet
Scouts key features that make him a favourite are: he plays bedtime music for 5, 10 or 15 minutes replacing other mobiles etc.; he has your little one's name, favourite food, favourite color and favourite animal programmed in so his messages are personal; and he sings all kinds of songs etc. making this toy "less annoying" for the adults listening. I have purchased Scout (or Violet) for a few people and everyone seems to love them!

I hope this list was helpful and gives you some ideas when buying toys for your baby, your nieces and nephews or any special little one in your life. Are there any toys that I missed that are on your baby's top ten list? Let me know!

If you found this post helpful why not share it with everyone you know shopping for little ones? It would make my day :)

My shoes for that:  Little Dude's FILA sneakers, since we are talking about favourites... these were the only shoes he would keep on his feet for quite a while!

Don't forget to share this post on pinterest :)
Baby's favourite toys - Age 0-10 months

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Kehlmann Platz Pinot Blanc

Name: Kehlmann Platz Pinot Blanc
Country: France
Vintage: 2014
Price: $17

Why did I decide to try this wine? I was in Miramichi, NB last week and decided to stop at NB Liquor to get wine for thanksgiving weekend. Specifically, to go with the Turkey meal(s) we had planned. I met Dave, the "wine expert" while looking through the available selection and he suggested I try this wine to pair with a turkey meal. As an added bonus, the bottle is pretty fancy looking so looks "classy" as a decoration on the table when hosting a meal.

Would I prefer one glass or indulge in the bottle? Bottle. 

What shoes would I wear drinking this wine? These High Boots from the new Fall/Winter 2017 collection. French wine in the fall deserves French boots to complement them. Aren't these fabulous?!

How would I describe the wine? The Mr. and I had this wine together after a turkey meal (not quite what Dave had in mind, but it worked for us). The Mr. thought it smelled like Green Grapes and Cranberries while I thought it smelled like Trees. We agreed that the taste was slightly fizzy and leaves your mouth dry. Dave was right, it would have been excellent with the meal!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Scones Copycat Recipe

Pumpkin spice everything is the smell of Thanksgiving... similar to how pine trees are the smell of Christmas, well in my opinion anyway. 

Last year at this time I was extremely pregnant (nearly 40 weeks) and super jealous of my coworker who was in Houston, TX at the time enjoying a pumpkin spice scone. I realize she was there for work, but in my mind she was there to eat pumpkin spice scones form starbucks and that alone. In fact, to this day I am not even sure if she had a scone while she was there... in my pregnant brain, I was 100% certain she was eating pumpkin spice scones without me. I soon started scouring the internet for the perfect pumpkin spice scone recipe that I thought I could tackle. After all, I think I am pretty good cook, but I am by no means a baker!

Low and behold I found the prefect Starbucks Pumpkin Scone Copycat Recipe on pinterest by Chungah Ree from a blog called Damn Delicious. Now looking back at her site I realize she has a recipe book out... I have never tried any other recipes of hers but based on these scones I am considering ordering a copy (yes, they are that good!).

I made the scones last year and couldn't wait for an excuse to make them again this year. 
Putting all of these spices together in a recipe and then baking them together makes the most amazing aroma in your house as a bonus to the delicious scones you end up with.

This morning, my little dude was up fairly early and excited to get on with the day even though he is dealing with his second set of ear infections within the last month! Since it is Thanksgiving I thought making these scones for V (my new sister in-law), my brother and the Mr. would be a welcomed start to everyone's day. 
 The scones were as good as I remembered and everyone loved them! This was a fabulous way to start  Thanksgiving this year.

I am so thankful this year, especially on this Thanksgiving day. I have been blessed with a pretty awesome little dude (pardon the Mom bias, but he is pretty cool), I have the most amazing husband in the world (no bias here, he is honestly the best... ask anyone that knows him!) and a family (including by best friends, because really they are family too) that I cherish dearly. Although I don't always stop to remember or appreciate it, I am one very lucky girl.

I hope you enjoy these scones - there is plenty of Pumpkin Spice season left for you to make them and be the hero at work, the supermom at baby group or the crazy wife who decided to make scones for breakfast on Thanksgiving :)


My shoes for that: Autumn thanksgiving baby girl shoes on Etsy