I remember when we were kids my brother dug a hole in the snow that was higher than me (and then put me in it). We used to fill our recycling bin with snow to make squares for the snow forts we built during recess. I had an ice rink in my backyard. Kids drove their snowmobiles to school.
Fun memories they may be, but I am now quite content to live in southern Ontario where we still get snow, just not enough that requires you to drive around with chains on your car tires.
Anyway, here is Kale saying "what's up" to the flakes....
A few warnings. First, it's pretty long. So grab yourself a cup a tea and settle in. Second, there is one slightly graphic picture (no nudity, just blood). So if that's the kind of thing that makes you quesy you might want to skip this.
You can read Kale's by clicking here.
Since we're following Gill Rapley's Baby-led Weaning method for introducing solids, Kale has been feeding himself. This proved to be challenging when it came to eating oatmeal. When we tried to help him out, he'd give us this look - one raised eyebrow that seemed to say "and what do you think you're doing?" Then he'd pull the spoon away and continue to make a disaster. Unconvinced that any actually made it into his mouth, his diaper proved us wrong.
Since we have hardwood throughout our house we bought this rug specifically to allow Kale to get some better traction on his quest to become mobile. Our cat, who normally doesn't allow Kale anywhere near him, has fallen in love with this rug. We have inadvertently forced Hrubbie to accept Kale into this comfort space and I think he's actually warming up to Kale. The cat also thinks he's human which explains why he's sitting like that.
This is currently my favourite outfit for Kale. Both the jeans and shirt are lined and so they're super cozy. Kris is very jealous of this outfit. In this picture Kale is checking out his family photo album. The picture of the cat is his favourite. Oh, and there's a plastic moon in there that he likes to chew on. He could care less about the rest of us.
Before Kale was born 99.9% of the pictures I took were of these two. Despite the fact that I was the one who insisted on bringing Hrubbie home with us three years ago, he has chosen Kris as his BFF. Their bond has escalated since Kale was born (I think he was traumatized after witnessing his birth).
Our five minute trip to Canadian Tire to pick up a mat for the back door turned into 30 minutes when Kale became completely entranced by the christmas decorations. Also, this kid LOVES riding in the cart. Who am I to say we have to go home? We walked those aisles until he had his fill of sparkles and lights and had talked to every old person there.
When we got home I bundled him up and we went for a walk. Kale is not a fan of clothes, so the fact that he has to wear even MORE now that it's cold out is not going over very well. He refused to keep his hands covered. How do babies in the artic deal?
Here's Kale watching the first snowflakes of the season (and the first ones of his LIFE) fall. We didn't get much snow this week, but woke up this morning to ground covered. Normally I'm not a fan of the winter, but I'm dying to wear my new winter jacket (even though it's still not cold enough for it). However, I still don't have my winter tires on so I'm kind of hoping it's going to stop soon.
Lately Kris and I have been ordering take-out on Friday nights and then watching old episodes of Arrested Development while playing with Kale. Last night we did just that and then we all cuddled up on the couch together when Kale fell asleep (look how tiny he looks!!)
First of all, there are a lot of really great things about having a baby in Canada, but there is one major bad thing - there are really only two places to register if you live outside a major city. These places are Babies R' Us and Sears. Both, in my opinion, are the worst places to shop for a baby. There isn't really anything you can do to get around this. If you have friends and family who are not afraid that entering their credit card online will lead to a lifetime of fraud (unlike my mom), then I would recommend registering at Baby Proofing Plus. Yes, the name of their store is terrible, but they carry way more brands than either Sears or Babies R' Us, have good customer service, and quick shipping.
Second of all, if you're pregnant and super insane and want to make sure that you're getting the safest, most highly recommend stuff, then you must buy Baby Bargains. I carried this book around with me everywhere I went for MONTHS when I was pregnant. It talks about what you need and what's a waste of money and their recommendations for products are based on reviews by mom's and not influenced by advertising.
Finally, what I consider "must haves" are probably very different from what you will consider "must haves." Every baby is different and you can buy every product out there (like we did) and your baby might end up hating it all (like Kale did). Seriously. People told us that they wouldn't have made it out of the infant stage without a swing, a bouncy chair, a sound machine, a swaddle blanket, etc., etc., etc. Kale really didn't care for any of that. Because even though it's so much fun to shop and prepare for the arrival of your little one, the only thing they really need when they're born is their mama.
Regardless, there are some things that made life a little easier during those first few weeks....
1. a ring sling. This was my single MUST HAVE. We could have survived just fine without everything else, but the ring sling was crucial. It always surprises me when new mom's say "I just can't put him/her down!" I think we all know that our babies will want to be held alot during the first few weeks of their lives considering where they spent the last 9 months, but I think it's still a shock to realize they want to be held 24/7. For the first few weeks of Kale's life, it is the only place he would sleep during the day. I could put him in there and do the dishes, read a book, take a walk. Lots of other people suggest the Moby wrap. I think it's a good idea to go to a small baby boutique where the sales people will spend time with you and try a few different carriers to see what you're most comfortable with.
2. swaddle blankets. I got so many flannel receiving blankets at my showers, and barely used any of them. They were too small! Kale was a pretty normal sized baby, but the small receiving blankets just weren't enough to wrap him up. A friend of mine made me some extra large flannel receiving blankets and I used those the most. I had also purchased some muslin swaddle blankets, which are nice and big and perfect to wrap up the baby into a little burrito. Hands down the best swaddle blanket was the miracle blanket. It's super easy to use and Kale could never break out of it (which happened with the others).
3. breast-feeding "stuff." You will spend A LOT of time nursing your new baby. A LOT. You want to make sure that you're as comfortable as possible so you're going to want a good breastfeeding pillow, lots of lanolin, nursing pads, and mother's milk tea. You're also going to want to have Jack Newman's website bookmarked, along with La Leche League Canada. I also ended up registering for my breast pump even though I didn't think I would need it until I went back to work. I was so lucky to receive it as a gift because I ended up needing it in the first few weeks when I was dealing with oversupply and an over-active letdown.
4. the carseat. I think Kale was about two weeks old the first time we put him in the carseat to take him out, but if you're having your baby in the hospital then you're going to need it right away. Also, you might decide to purchase a travel system or an attachment for your stroller. Or you might be one of those people who carry around their baby in the car seat. In our case, the car seat has probably left the car only a handful of times and all in the first month of Kale's life. It was just too heavy to carry around! We barely used our stroller so getting an attachment was just pointless. Instead we found it really easy to transfer Kale from the seat to the sling (even when he was asleep!). We bought the Graco Snugride 35, which lasts longer than a regular infant car seat (until he's 35 lbs. or 32 inches tall) so we won't have to buy a toddler seat for awhile. However, if I could go back in time I would have just got the infant/toddler convertible seat considering how we use the infant seat.
5. aftercare for mama. Witch hazel oil, arnica, tucks, giant pads, post-partum herbal bath mix, advil, a squirt bottle. Seriously - giving birth is hard work and there is a recovery period. Not only will all this stuff make you more comfortable, but you really need to take this time seriously. Stay in bed. Nurse your baby. Keep visits to a minimum. Let others spoil you!
When I registerd for my showers I focused on what I was going to need for the first couple of months and didn't think about down the road. Now I think it's a good idea to register for things that your baby won't need/use until they're five or six months, like a high chair, a jumperoo, or some wooden toys. It's been really great to think that we need something for Kale and realize that we already have it!
Again, preparing for your baby is fun, there's no doubt about that. If you're like me preparing often involves shopping, but the best way to really get ready? Spend time with your partner, take advantage of lazy Sunday's, take your time eating really amazing food, sleep as much as you possibly can, SPEND TIME ALONE.
Still, the fact that I only took 6 months of my maternity leave tends to confuse people since I live in Canada and we get a year paid (approx. 55% of our wages and my company doesn't offer a top up - some do) maternity leave. The time can be split between parents, but in most cases women take the full year. Kris and I decided we wanted to split the time and so it's always been part of the plan for me to return after 6 months (but when you count all that extra time off, it's more like 8 months). When I told people this before Kale was born I would get this "we'll see..." look and I admit that we've wavered on whether I should extend my time at home or not, but I'm happy with how things have worked out.
I really do like my job and I think it's going to be great for Kale and Kris to have some man time to bond and build their relationship. Right now Kris is usually out the door before 8am and getting home around 6pm. I work three minutes away from our house and have a shorter work day, so the three of us will get to spend more time together. I'm also going to be working from home two days a week, an option that Kris doesn't have. Kris will work those two days and his mom is going to help watch Kale and so neither of us will really be home full time. I think it's going to be a better balance for us all.
That being said, Kale is finally at an age where he's interacting and making big changes everyday. As much as having a newborn is amazing, the days could be reeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaalllly long and boring. This age is so much fun and I know it's going to be really tough to be away from that all day when I do go back to work full time. For the time being, I'm enjoying my time at home with him (and my vacation) and trying not to think about it too much. One day at a time, right?
Emily is also a crazy cat lady like me and we have internet dates on Monday nights to watch Gossip Girl together and drool over Chuck Bass. Seriously - how can you get any cooler than that?
Anyway, I'm off topic. Kale sat in a high chair at brunch. This isn't a big deal, right? WRONG! He sat in a high chair in a restuarant! He's practically a toddler.
After we ate we decided to cruise the mall but I had to feed Kale first. I'm not shy at all about nursing in public, but Kale gets so distracted that I had to take us to the nursing lounge. I didn't have any luck there either since there was a giant flat screen TV playing cartoons that Kale glued himself to. When he started to doze in the sling we decided to head home so he'd sleep on the way. We headed straight to the grocery store and I tried to feed him again, no luck. It was going on five hours without anything to eat and he normally nurses every couple hours, three hours TOPS. Surprisingly he was still in good spirits, so we decided to get the groceries and head home as quickly as possible.
Kris or I normally wear Kale in the grocery store, but Kris decided to see how he would do sitting in the cart and he LOVED it. Kris may not be a fan of me sharing this, but he had a minor breakdown in the bread section. It went something like "oh my god, look at him just sitting in the cart! Pretty soon he'll be too big for the cart! Then he'll be asking for the keys to the car..."
After groceries we went to see Kris's brother and girlfriend who just got back from 5 weeks in Slovakia, Egypt and Thailand (uhh, yes, we're jealous too). Overall, it's been a loooooooooooooong day (I won't even tell you how little sleep I got last night), but a good one. Kale is tucked away in bed, Kris should be home from soccer soon, so I'm going to take this little bit of time alone to decompress, reflect, and probably pass out.
Now onto the wordless part of this Wednesday...
The other day I was snapping my 6000th iPhone picture when I realized that it have been FOREVER since I'd taken any photo's of Kale with my real camera. So, I stripped the little man down, put on his favourite little booties, and snapped these:
Kale is desperate to get mobile, but hasn't quite figured out how to make that happen. He can rotate in one spot, but when it comes to getting from point A to point B, he's at a loss. His desperation quickly turns to frustration and he tightens up every muscle in his body and gives me this face. It's not nice to laugh in the face of frustration, but seriously - how can I not?
And my favourite iPhone photo's of the week:
Okay, this isn't just my favourite iPhone photo - it's my favourite moment of the entire week. Look at these two! Hanging out like their BFF's. Nevermind the fact that Hrubbie just woke up and is too stunned to make a run for it or that Kale lasted like this for exactly 0.2 seconds before he tried to inhale the cat. In this moment they were awesome.
One of our Ikea buys was a new rug for our living room. We have hardwood throughout our house and Kale was having a hard time getting any traction in his efforts to start crawling. Now that there is a rug under him he can get his knees up without slipping on to his face, but he still has a long way to go. One down fall of the rug became apparent last night when Kale was sitting on it playing with his toys. He has a habit of lunging himself forward to get to me, but hasn't quite figured out that he has to put his arms out to brace himself from a face plant. So last night when he lunged at me and then pushed with his legs to get closer he gave himself a lovely rug burn across the nose.
Another of our Ikea buys was a new desk for me. When we set up the nursery the office in our house became an office/spare room with my desk on one side and a bed on the other. Slowly the whole room turned into the "I don't know where else to put it so I'll put it in that room" room. My desk was covered with stacks of books, camera's, mail and other random stuff. Kris and I often took turns catching some much needed shut eye on nights when the family bed felt too cramped, but actually getting to the bed on the far side of the room required navigating through a jungle.
With my return to work on the horizon, we knew we had to sort out the office and make it a functional space - especially because I am going to be working from home a couple days a week. After some contemplation we decided to put the spare bed in storage, give the old desk to Kris on one side of the office and buy a new and bigger desk for me on the other side. Thus, the Ikea desk purchase.
Kris gave the room a fresh coat of paint and we spent the majority of Saturday trying to find new homes for all the "stuff" that was in the office. Now, I know there was a lot of junk to go through, but everything takes about 1000 times longer when there is a baby involved. Kris and I took turns most of the day hanging out with Kale while the other cleaned, but it still seemed to take forever.
Regardless, I now have a little tranquil corner in the house to call my work space. It does seem slightly surreal that I'll be using that work place very soon for actual work, but I'll save my thoughts on that for another post.
Kale is warming up for music class. The drool in the bells adds a little somethin' somethin'.
Who doesn't love a baby hanging out at the pub?
Here's the Janal Fonda. No word of a lie, her yearbook profile for our graduating year asks for probable future and Janelle wrote, "raising Randalin's kids."
Kris channeling his inner Zoolander.
Fuel for our walk.
Just a couple of men being men.
Kale & Mama.
Dark hot chocolate, mint syrup, bailey's, & whip cream?
We'll take 3.
We stopped at the toy store on the way home and picked up some new blocks and a ball for Kale.
He's a superfan of both.
Even the Hrubbie Cat came out of hiding to hang with us.
It was nice to just be outside with great people, walking around and enjoying the city. Kale was in the Beco all afternoon and was so happy to just look around and take it all in. We stopped at the midwives office to use their scale (Kale's 18 lbs.!) and ran into Marissa, the student midwife that attended Kale's birth and did the majority of our aftercare. We all have a pretty big soft spot in our hearts for her so it was awesome to see her and chat for awhile.
Overall, the day was A+.
Food miles. Glocalization. Sustainable agriculture. Biodynamic farming. Community Supported Agriculture. Food security. Food soverignty. Culinary tourism.
All of these terms get me a little excited.
I also like to cook. I agonize over our meal plan every week, refuse to shop at anywhere but Zehrs (this is more about my crush on Galen Weston than it is on the quality of food sold), and spend the better part of 5-6pm screaming curse words at the oven.
Up until Sunday Kale was exclusively breastfed and that gave me a full 6 months to figure out the who/what/where/when/why & how of his impending introduction to solids.
Oh, and you know how as a new mom you always decide how things are going to be before they actually happen? You basically set yourself up for failure and disappointment when your baby decides to do the exact opposite. And yet you continue to make plans and repeat and repeat and repeat. Well, here's what I decided about Kale and food before he was even born:
1. I would not raise a picky eater. Seriously. You know how mother's-to-be often have that one thing that they think would cause them to fall to pieces if it didn't work out? It's usually something like breastfeeding or having a natural birth, and yes, things like that were super important to me too. But the fall to pieces thing? That would be caused by having a picky eater.
2. We will have family dinners. When I was a kid my parents worked shift work and so it was nearly impossible to get all four of us home at the same time, nevermind at the dinner table at the same time. We tried to squeeze in Sunday night dinners and family dinners are still a big deal when a holiday pops up, but it's still irregular and often awkward. Eating as a family is super important. Regularly. As in, "I don't care what you do all day and evening, but you have to be home for dinner."
3. We will not only eat together, but cook together (from scratch). We'll listen to the CBC while we do it. We'll talk about the food we're preparing - how it go there, where it came from, how to measure it, what it tastes good with. And while all that's going on? We'll chat about our day. We'll BOND.
Ok, so all of this is "my plan" and I'm totally aware of how it can all blow up in my face, but I've yet to give up on making plans. I'm taurus. We're stubborn.
So what all of this adds up to is that choosing how and when we introduce solids to Kale was kind of a big deal around here. Up until Sunday he was exclusively breastfed despite misguided (but well intentioned) comments about giving him rice cereal or formula to help him sleep through the night. Have you seen the rolls on my boy? He's well fed and thriving and I was adament that nothing but his mama's milk pass through his lips until he turned at least 6 months.
Deciding to go with baby-led weaning was a pretty easy choice for us. With BLW Kale eats with the rest of the family at mealtimes (read: no need to make two seperate meals and have double dinners), he feeds himself (read: no spoon feeding), it's up to him how much he wants to eat solids while continuing to be breastfed on demand, he's encouraged to explore food and have fun with it, and he's offered the same foods we're eating in sizes that he can hold onto.
I could go on and on, but what I really wanted to do with this post is show some pictures of BLW in action. Since Sunday Kale has happily consumed banana's, cucumber, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots. We honestly weren't expecting much and were totally ok with delaying solids for longer if he showed no interest, but so far it looks like "my plan" is working....
Half a year.
I cannot believe that I have a six month old baby. It's so hard to wrap my head around that. Somehow Kale went from this tiny little helpless newborn, to a six month old man baby with so.much.personality. Every day he melts my heart a thousand times.
What size of clothes is he wearing?
It's mostly all 6-12 month clothes now. Some of his pants are still a little loose around the middle and he would benefit greatly from a drawstring, but apparently the maker's of baby clothes feel the faux drawstring is enough (it's not.). Also, most sweaters in the 6-12 month range are still too big, but some shirts in the same size are too small. I would seriously like to meet the fit model that is used to size baby clothes.
Milestones in the past month:
- A tooth! After months of teething, Kale's first tooth finally broke through the surface last week. The little white guy is just barely visable, but is sharp as a razor.
- Pulling himself up. When we sit Kale on the floor we put a pillow behind him because he still has a topple now and then and we have hardwood floors. A month a go he'd fall on the pillow and then we'd have to pull him back into a sitting position, but now he can get himself there. You'd never know from looking at that round belly of his, but he's got some enviable stomach muscles in there!
- Sounds. Kale has started to make different sounds to communicate different things. Like when he's tired and wants to register a complaint he goes "BAH, BAH, BAH" (very similar to a sheep). When he's not getting the attention he wants to lets out a squeal that dogs three streets over can hear. And the "whoooo, whooo, whooo" owl noises he used to make to talk to us? They're now more "whooo, haaaaa, ohhhhh." Kids got range.
- Sitting at the table. This past month Kris and I finally stopped eating in shifts and put Kale in his highchair at the table for mealtimes. We also wanted him to start observing us eat to prepare him for joining us soon, but he really doesn't show much interest in what we're doing. He's too busy throwing his toys on the floor and watching us pick them up.
Special outings in the last month:
- Bluegrass Brunch. First time seeing a bluegrass band play. First time meeting our friends Krysten & Jonathan. First time to the big city of Toronto.
- Rockwood Conservation Area.
- First Halloween Party.
- First Municipal election. Ok, so he didn't actually vote, but he was in the voting booth.
What is his routine?
Kale normally wakes up around 5am and Kris will take him out to the living room to play for 45 min. before he passes out again until around 7am. He usually naps around 9am for half an hour, then again around 11am for half another half an hour and then we take a long nap together around 3 or 4pm. He's usually in bed by 8pm and then up and down a thousand times throughout the night. Sometimes he wakes to eat, but most of the time he is asleep before you're even fully standing up and just needs a quick comfort before he's back down. I wake up with as much as I can since Kris takes the early shift in the morning, but I normally have to get Kris to do a couple wake up in the night too because I can be totally useless without sleep. Sometimes Kale doesn't care who is holding him, and sometimes he just wants his mama. We do the best we can and try to get as much sleep as possible and cross our fingers that this phase will pass.
During the day Kale and I watch Arthur on TVO for 20 minutes (our views on TV viewing are for another post), hang out on the floor and play with toys and board books, harrass the cat, and hang out by the window watching the leaves fall. We still go to music and swim classes, which Kale still LOVES, hang out with Lexy and Hudson, do errands, go shopping, and go for walks.
One of my favourite parts of the day is getting dinner ready with Kale. I usually put him in the jumperoo (although he hasn't been a fan in the last few days), turn on CBC Radio 3, and we have a dance/dinner preparation party. When Kris comes home he'll play with Kale in the kitchen while I finish dinner up and then we eat together, drink a glass of wine and catch up on our days.
By the time dinner is finished it's normally time to get Kale ready for bed and so one of us will bath with him, then do the whole bedtime routine.
And tha'ts kind of what our life looks like. And I know that probably isn't interesting to anyone, but I'm hoping the internet won't be extinct by the time Kale grows up and he can look back at this and know what life was like for us.
Kale's favourite things to do:
Kale still loves to do all the same stuff - get tossed around, tickled, have baths, play with his blue cup, and put as many different things in his mouth as possible. However, this month Kale's heart grew for a few different things around the house and so we made this video to share with you:
Here are some of our favourite pictures from the past month:
At this point all we can do is try to find the humour in it all. Thankfully (I guess?), sleep deprivation makes us do pretty funny things. In the past couple of months I have left the water running after washing my hands on more than on occasion. It normally takes a solid ten minutes to realize that I need to turn it off. I also continue to put food away in the microwave instead of the fridge.
I've lost FOUR debit cards since Kale has been born because I forget where I put them. I have to call Kris at work somedays to ask if he knows where my shoes are.
This morning I stumbled into the living room at 5am where Kris and Kale were playing on the floor with some toys and claimed that there was no way I could sleep thorugh his crying. Turns out I was dreaming that he was crying.
Somehow Kris holds it all together and fares way better than I do without the sleep (I'm sure this is because he's three years younger than me). However, after a particularly rough night this week, Kris was scrambling to find his phone and wallet before work. After tearing the house apart he sheepishly admitted he'd found his phone....in his pocket. The wallet remained a mystery until later that night when he realized that he'd FILED IT AWAY with his bank receipts.
Thank goodness we have a GPS to help us find our way home.
On Sunday we headed to Toronto for Kale's first trip to the big city to celebrate my amazing friend Krysten's big 3-0. This was also the first time that Krysten and her partner Jonathan got to meet Kale, so that was another reason to celebrate. Kale has been getting better in the car seat, but an hour drive is still a long time for the little guy to be stuck sitting in one place. Thankfully he slept the whole way there and it was an enjoyable drive for everyone! I was so excited because we actually arrived on time (a rare happening with a baby), but of course Kale pooped on arrival and so we had to change him in the back seat and then we weren't so early anymore. It didn't matter though since there was a bit of a wait for our table at brunch anyway.
We had brunch at the Dakota Tavern and it was a blast. We were a bit unsure about bringing Kale out to a brunch since it's not always entertaining enough for him. However, this place was perfect for him. There was a bluegrass band playing, a disco ball, and about as many kids dancing near the stage as there were adults eating plates of eggs and sausage.
Mama & Kale @ Brunch
Kale & the Birthday Lady
After brunch we headed back home, whipped up a yummy salad and headed over to a baby Halloween/pot luck at our friend David & Samantha's. Kale put on his dragon costume and posed for a few pictures with the other babies, but getting a good shot was, err..challenging. Here's what I got:
Nathaniel, Casey, Hudson & Kale
Kale refused to sit for the picture, Hudson couldn't stop looking at his dad laying in front of the couch in case any of the kids took a spill, Casey was totally over hanging out with a bunch of baby boys, and Nathaniel was more interested in taking Casey down than having his photo taken.
After the party we quickly stopped by Kris's parents and then our neighbours house before getting a totally exhausted baby dragon tucked into bed...