Monday, May 31, 2010

Baby Favourites

I haven't been very good about keeping up on this series but I did an order today and thought I would share. A good friend of ours introduced us to a great store in Toronto that has a super online catalogue. They carry children's clothing but our absolute favourites are their hats. Pk has inherited the family fair skin and so in the summer, hats are essential. I love the hats from Snug as a Bug because they are fully washable, come in a variety of styles and sizes and are sized fairly generously (for our family's large heads). They have a large selection of everything from a moderate shade hat to SPF 50 beach hats that will cover up wonderfully. Pk has the one below in white and pink and we have just ordered her the next size in each for the next several years as well (since the sizes are generous, they last us longer), while the 20% off sale is on. I can't praise these enough and best of all, they are made here!

They also have a great selection of rainwear and outerwear. We bought these boots last year and they have been WONDERFUL. The liners are removable so for fall and spring, they are a rubber rain boot and with the lining in, they make a cozy winter boot. Definitely worth the money!


Happy Memorial Day!

I hope that my American friends have had a meaningful day. I sometimes have some mixed feelings about the reasons for war but I would never, ever, ever, ever take away from the courage of those who face such danger. I can't imagine what those people face and the worry of their families. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice.

I don't know how to embed a video but this link is worth watching.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Recipe Round-Up

This week has been a week of wonderful cooking. I tried several new recipes that are definitely going to be staples around here from now on.

The first was sometime that I usually wouldn't make but for some reason, this recipe caught my fancy and it was DELICIOUS. I have gotten some yummy recipes from Cooking During Stolen Moments and if you like quiche, this is a no-brainer. This Sausage and Spinach Quiche was fantastic and easy to make. I chose to make my own pastry (I don't like store bought, I find it really salty - I use the recipe that my mom and grandma always used and it works for me). Everyone here loved this!

Another nice recipe I tried was this Creamy Crockpot Chicken which I found via Michele at Frugal Granola. It was yummy, didn't involve many ingredients, the house smelled lovely and the ingredients were all fresh and healthy. This is another keeper!

Another really yummy recipe I tried this week was this hummus recipe from Hallee at Hallee the Homemaker, who I met through the UBP this year. Obviously, hummus is easy to buy at the store but since I am trying to avoid processed food and unnecessary ingredients, throwing together my own hummus is a no-brainer. What I really liked about this one is that it is really lemon-y. I find that hummus can be really yummy or really bland - I always thought the difference was garlic but while this one isn't all that garlic-y, the lemon-y kick makes it really, really good. I also got a nice idea and used this hummus in a wrap. Lindsay at Passionate Homemakers had a great post of healthy lunch ideas (lunch always stumps me!) and one suggestion was a mediterranean platter put together into a pita or wrap. I did a whole wheat wrap with tomatoes, hummus and black olives - it was amazing!

Finally, tomorrow at church, we are doing our monthly fellowship lunch and this month, our theme is sandwiches. We are trying to avoid the usual and go for some that are a little bit more interesting. I have tried these recipes and they seem like they have worked really well -
pimento cheese spread from Canadian Living
tuna olive salad from Canadian Living
Veggie wraps from Frugal Granola

Happy eating!

Status Update

I have been meaning to write a post about where we are with the baby but I have been pretty stress-y about it lately and actually sitting down and writing has been something I just couldn't seem to bring myself to do. It's time.

First of all, it looks like all is well, at least at this point. Nothing has been critical but I have hit the stage where the little things do creep up and I turn into a nervous wreck. All was easy until the 28 week mark when I switched from my GP to my o.b. The o.b. is nice but his is a very, very busy practice and he is very much a "dot the i's and cross the t's" kind of man (which is a good thing, in the long run but it means that I have had more tests than I did with Pk and tests always terrify me). My first appointment with him, I was getting my glucose test results and since a number of people had gotten pleasure from telling me how huge I was, I became very afraid that I had gestational diabetes. I went to the appointment and I could feel the near-panic attack start as soon as I walked in the door. Of course, the sugar test results were fine but my b.p. was off the scale since I was afraid. I told him that I have white coat but that resulted in having to go for a non-stress test at the hospital a few days later.

Obviously, if you know me, the n.s.t. was enough to really set me off. The baby responded beautifully (he is active as anything). I hate being on a monitor and to be totally honest, I didn't like the nurse at all that I was dealing with. She hooked me up, walked away and disappeared for 45 minutes, leaving me on my back (am I the only pregnant women who really suffers from being on my back after a certain point???). By the time she came to take my b.p., I was sore, grouchy and feeling terrible. Of course, it was borderline again. Ugh. The only thing that made me feel better was that when I saw my naturopath later that week, when I was feeling calm, it was 112/72 (not exactly high).

It didn't go any higher so my o.b. began to see that yes, it is stress and yes, I do seem to have what borders on a panic attack going into his office. I know, it's totally stupid but I know that I am definitely not the only woman who suffers from this. Anyway, we seemed to be in a fairly good place with all of this until last week (a week ago Thursday). B.p. was fine that appointment but baby decided to go from measuring slightly above normal for size to being at least 5, if not 6 or 7 cm larger than he should be). I was beside myself because Pk was no small baby (9 lbs, 1 oz) and her size was an issue at the end (mainly because they had me so scared that she was going to be 12 lbs that my b.p. started to climb - see the pattern here???). I ended up being sent last Friday for a 2 hour glucose test (I am quite proud of myself - 3 blood draws in two hours and I didn't bat an eyelash). I also needed an ultrasound but wasn't able to do that until yesterday. As you can imagine, at Thursday's appointment, when I was nervous about the test results, my b.p. went super high again. Good news is that my sugar test results were great and after being asked to lie down and think boring thoughts for 20 minutes, b.p. was back down to 120/70 but I was given the choice of having to go for another N.S.T. (which I am sure would lead to induction since I HATE being on a monitor and on my back) or buying a b.p. cuff and taking it at home. I think you can guess what I opted for - I am supposed to start taking my b.p. today.

The last hurdle was the ultrasound and I will be forever grateful to God that it went the way that it did. I don't know about you but my experience with them has been that 1. they never tell you anything which is really scary and leads me to walk away trying to read into everything they say and 2. at least later in a pregnancy, I get really, really, really sore after them. I was dreading going yesterday but the woman doing it was wonderful and I don't know why but she shared everything with me. Yes, it is a boy for sure, his heartrate is 136 which is right in normal range, he is very active, his head is down and at the moment, his back is to my left side. He is larger than average but still totally within normal perimeters (when she measured his head, she told me that while it is slightly larger than average, it will be no problem for delivery) and she even showed me his size on a graph (without giving actual weights) and pointed out that while he is above the average line, he is not anywhere near where he would be if he was huge. She said that everything looks good. I cried with relief. At this point last week, I was wondering whether I should schedule a c-section and be done with it. Now, I have some confidence that I will make it.

Overall, I am o.k. Because of the ultrasound yesterday, I am extremely sore and spent much of the night dealing with hip and back pain and wondering whether it was pre-labour but this morning, I just feel tired and achy. I have to say, I don't know whether this is a boy thing but I am being hammered, especially in the evening (to the point that once I lie in bed, I end up getting up and going and reading in the rocker for an hour, just to see if I can get him to settle). Another benefit of the ultrasound is knowing that he is head down because he is hammering so badly on my cervix when he gets going that it feels as if he is trying to kick his way out. I don't remember being this sore from the movement with Pk but at least I know he is well.

So, now you know my sorry, pathetic tale. Say a prayer for me or cross your fingers. I haven't done my b.p. yet this morning because my naturopath told me that it might be higher after a night of very poor sleep. I am going to have a lot to drink, try to catch my breath and see where we are at. I feel so silly and stupid for all the worry about my b.p. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them because it seems to be something that I just can't seem to control.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer is Here

I love summer. It's the biggest incompatibility between dh and I - he LOATHES heat and humidity whereas I don't mind it at all. I should probably qualify that - when I lived in the city, I hated the smog and the dirty feeling of the heat - the way that the concrete bakes and you feel like you like in an oven. When we moved out, I learned to truly love summer. I love the hum of what I think are grasshoppers and crickets, the warm, damp smell that rolls over you and I can't walk by a tree on a hot day without wanting to sit in its shade and enjoy feeling warm.

Typical for Ontario weather, we didn't waste a lot of time with spring. We tend to do that - cold, cold, cold, HOT, cold, hot... we don't seem to specialize in moderate. I read several wonderful English blogs and I get so envious of their March blog posts about gardens and outings... we don't have that but when summer comes, it comes. Today, the temperature, last I heard, was a balmy 32 degrees. Now, being 9 months pregnant that could be a bit of a problem but given that we have air conditioning (a non-negotiable condition of dh's when we bought our house), I really get to live the best of both worlds. I can enjoy the warmth outside and come in and be cool and sleep in a wonderfully moderate bedroom. The house is a bungalow which is a plus - it is very easy to maintain in terms of temperature, especially with the ceiling fan in the bedroom. I used to find it much harder when we lived in the city and the second storey of the house was always significantly hotter than the first, no matter what we did.

This morning, I got to enjoy one of the best elements of summer. My friend lives on a farm. They have almost 100 acres and while they lease the land out to a neighbour for crops, they have full run of the place. This morning, I took the dogs up for a run. It was 8 o'clock and the air had the hint of the heat to come but the grass was still wet with dew and by the time we were done our walk, the dogs were soaked and had the smell of morning - I don't know how to describe it. It isn't a nasty "wet dog" kind of smell at all, rather a slightly pollen-y, damp smell that is just so satisfying.

Even the light shining through our tree out front showed that hint of the heat of the day to come but to me, beckoned one to sit awhile and read.

I am rambling but fairly soon, I doubt there will be much rambling time. I love this time of year and being off right now and a bit lazy, I don't think it could get much better. It is such a treat to get a chance to savour the beauty of the light, the warmth and the heavenly smells.

Tuesdays Unwrapped

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

The cavalry has arrived and it is such a relief! We live fairly far from close friends and family and while we have some friends in town, they aren't the close friends with which I would feel o.k about leaving Pk once I went into labour - not because these friends are reliable (they are wonderful!) but because either they have their hands full with their own families or because Pk just hasn't had much time away from us, especially for an overnight. I am not very good at asking for help, especially in a case where I may be asking you to take my child for 24 hours (or longer). My mom arrived Sunday and is going to stay until after the baby is born. I can't tell you what a relief that is. Knowing that Pk is safely being cared for by someone with whom she is very comfortable and who knows the routines, etc. is more of a relief than I can say. Thanks, Mum!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Victoria Day

Victoria Day, otherwise referred to as the May 24 weekend, is a Canadian institution. It is much more a symbol of the beginning of the summer than the official start of the season. It's a terrible weekend for driving as everyone who has any access goes off to a cottage or camping and the few who remain at home usually spend the weekend gardening (at least locally, this is seen as the first weekend that is guaranteed to be frost-free).

In some ways, this weekend is wasted in our home. Dh is NOT a fan of heat, of bugs or of being without a/c and it would certainly appear that Pk is much like her daddy - she likes to be outside but insists that all bugs must be removed and while she doesn't mind getting dirty, she wants to be clear a.s.a.p.

I was very grateful today that dh was willing to, as an act of love, go with us to the beach. We have taken Pk before but she didn't seem to remember. I think she is in love. She built sandcastles with Gran, gradually gained enough confidence to let us take her shoes off and let the water "tickle her toes" which eventually led to splashing and jumping in the lake. It was a wonderful way to spend part of the day. I personally could spend my entire life beside water so it was a nice treat for me. I hope that baby is fairly cooperative because I would love to spend some of the summer at the beach!

The Beauty of the Book

I am a committed CBC Radio listener. If you are Canadian, that means something to you, if not, it may not. CBC is something like NPR, although personally, I find NPR really, really dry compared to CBC and much less quirky. CBC is one of those things that is uniquely Canadian and is almost beyond description. I prefer Radio One, which is primarily a talk format and my favourite programmes are the national ones - The Current, Ideas, Q, etc. I watch very little television, don't have time for reading a paper and yet, I like to be somewhat aware of what is going on in the world and I find CBC to be a pretty good source (although, if I am totally honest, there is a pseudo-intellectual, white, urban, uber-liberal tone that is starting to grate on my nerves, especially with certain programmes these days). Really, I think that why I really like CBC is that it appeals to my A.D.H.D. - I always need something to occupy my mind and especially when driving, music just doesn't do it (kind of a sad thing for a music grad to say!).

A couple of weeks ago, after small group at church, I turned on the radio to listen on my way home. It was later than usual and the programme on was Ideas. There was a panel discussion on the future of the book. It was totally fascinating. Unfortunately, it hasn't made it up onto their website yet as a downloadable archived show (should be up soon) but from what I can remember, it featured two publishers and a couple of authors, discussing the future of the physical book and the role that e-readers will play (e.g., the Kimble, the Kobo). I was surprised at my strong reaction to the opinions shared and how defensive I felt of the physical book.

I love to read. I always have a paperback in my purse, just in case I get stuck somewhere and have to kill some time. I MUST read in bed for at least 20 minutes before I go to sleep each night and if I am the first one up in the morning, once I have checked my email (another addiction), I have to find a quiet corner to read. The first connections we made when we arrived in this town was the library and it is no coincidence that Pk runs around yelling that she "LOVES THE LIBRARY" (we started doing Mother Goose programmes there and taking out board books when she was about 4 months old). Dh loves books as much as I do and there are piles of books everywhere. When we give out lists of things that we want as gifts, you can be sure that much of the lists will consist of the books that we want. I am the daughter of a librarian who worked in the public library through high school and a stunning university seminary library throughout university (see the gorgeous picture below - this is where I fell in love with the beauty of old books).

I can't imagine coming to a point when all of my reading is done on a screen. Personally, to begin with, my eyes don't like reading from a screen the way they enjoy a printed page. Yes, it would be convenient to be able to transport a library around with me (I tend to be reading several things at once most of the time, a novel, usually a mystery or a fiction series, at least two different books on Christianity and life of some kind of another, other something relating to parenting and then, of course, there is the plethora of cookbooks that rule my life...) but somehow, not being able to hold the paper and turn pages just makes me very sad.

There were two aspects of the discussion that made me VERY uncomfortable. The first was around children and bedtime stories. One of the panel members (can't remember her name) put forward that electronic readers would be better in the long run in terms of bedtime reading material for children because they would offer children choices that are more "interactive" - for instance, when reading a non-fiction text, children would be able to point to things on a page and link to games, more information, etc... and that it would be much more engaging. That may be true but for some reason, that concept fills me with fear. I will declare myself here - while I think that computers are a good source of information at times and while I love email and blogging, I don't actually believe that all of the screen time, particularly with the images that change so frequently, is good for children. I don't think that we know the impact of all of that radiation on little bodies, I have heard and read several research studies that would indicate that overuse of the screen is actually changing the structure of our childrens' brains and inhibiting their ability to concentrate or explore deeper concepts. I embrace the Piagetian belief that the best learning, especially in the early years, comes from physical interaction with the world. Passively pushing buttons on a screen goes against so much of what I believe about how children need to learn, how brains need to develop and, from a purely artistic point of view, how children learn to absorb the beauty of the world. There is a treasure and a heritage that comes from certain children's books, especially from those that are passed through the generations - I fear the loss of that. As I said above, though, I also deeply fear the health impact of all of the screen influences (and I have to wonder whether the explosion of autism and allergies has some kind of a connection to these changes over the last 20 or 30 years). Yes, o.k., half of you have dismissed me a paranoid and that's your right.

The other aspect of the discussion that I found really disturbing was that another of the panelists suggested that what may end up happening (and apparently is beginning to happen) is that only mass market, hugely successful authors will be published in paper form. Everything else would be limited to "publication" online where people would essentially be able to self-publish should they want to but it would only be once an author had reached a large enough audience that publishers would be willing to put out paper copies of the books. I didn't immediately grasp the implications of that until they raised the fact that with reader technology, books could be easily withdrawn - I gather that in the past, I think it was last year, there were books that had been posted for sale on Amazon and it came to light that the copyright on the books had been violated and Amazon simply withdrew them - people who had already purchased the books had them suddenly gone from their readers. I personally find that very scary. That allows for a new, aggressive kind of censorship that could lead to the complete and total loss of material that goes against the current thinking. I am not someone who is committed to the mass availability of every resource (you know how I feel about the Pearl's book, To Train Up a Child) but that doesn't mean that I want to see the complete erradication, just a limit of the public access without some kind of warning or control.

So, at least here, I won't be running out to buy a reader and I will continue to enjoy the feeling of the page in my hand. If anything, I think this will spur me on to try to buy more books. I want to possess a beloved library. I have a friend who once told us that when he visits someone's house, one of the first things he likes to do is to browse the bookshelves. He says that tells him a great deal about the person he is with. He told a story of going to a party at a colleague's from work and quickly realising that the colleague didn't have a single book evident in the house. He said that scared me. B, feel free to come and browse my bookshelf!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Father's Day Ideas

I am going to write a longer post later today but in the meantime, does anyone have a great Father's Day gift idea? For obvious reasons, I want to get sometime done early. Last year, I went with some great photo ideas (we did a photo barbecue apron and a custom mousepad from walmart's photo shop and they were very reasonable and we customized the apron). This year, I haven't found any especially good ideas online and I would love any suggestions!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Recipe Round-Up

Wow, if this is nesting, I wish I could nest more often - I have been a powerhouse this week, getting things done. I have gone for my morning swim every day (have I mentioned how much I love that???), gotten most of the baby clothes sorted, done oodles of paperwork, managed at least an hour of knitting on the baby's blanket each day, made some food for the freezer for after the baby arrives, done some weeding in the garden (don't worry, I use adequate protection to avoid exposing myself to germs - as a cat owner, having to be worried that other peoples' cats have used my garden as a toilet REALLY bugs me), gotten Pk registered for her summer swim lessons and music class, and even managed to have a nap each day. This is great. If only I could manage another couple of weeks of this...

Anyway, onto the food round-up. I have tried some nice recipes and would like to share:

Over the past couple of weeks, I haven't done as many new internet recipes as usual because I was trying out my new cookbook. I heard Jonni McCoy interviewed on the radio and I was curious. Her other book, Miserly Moms, gives many, many tips for saving money on family expenses. I was intrigued because she was claiming that her recipes did not involve lots of sugar, starch (which is what I usually find in recipes that are "low cost") or chicken legs (which I detest - personal thing, I don't like dark meat and I hate meat on the bone - I know, I'm weird). Being the frugal girl I am trying to be, I bought this copy second hand and it was worth it. So far, we have tried three recipes - a salmon dip (which I used in a wrap for lunch at work which was great), Boston Chicken (easy and tasted really nice, Dh really liked that one) and broccoli beef (we had that for dinner last night and really enjoyed it served with some brown rice vermicelli). The cookbook has a lot of vegetarian recipes (not something that dh is willing to try and if I am honest, lentils work for me when they are served in an Indian restaurant but aren't something I desire to do much with at home other than to make my own hummus). I plan on exploring the crockpot section - there are some yummy sounding recipes there.

As I type, I am sitting here eating my lunch, a yummy veggie wrap from Michele at Frugal Granola. I added cheese and tomato to mine and it makes a very nice lunch!

Another set of recipes that really worked for us this week came from Life As Mom. The recipes are for marinades for chicken and you freeze the chicken right in the marinades and then you can pull the chicken out, defrost and they are ready to go on the grill. I can't tell you what they taste like yet but I will say, we made up enough for 9 family dinners (Pk usually shares mine so we packed them in bags of two large chicken breasts and got three different dinners of three different marinades) and it took us about half an hour and they smell amazing. We plan on doing more of this for sure!

This one comes from Laura at Heavenly Homemakers. I like to try and do a casserole at least once a week since I am finding the my stamina gets pretty low later in the day. If I can do the cooking earlier and then just pop something in the oven, it takes away the incentive to order in (something that we have done too much of lately). This Lasagna Casserole was super easy and is the kind of thing that everyone here will eat.

I also have an amazing rhubarb custard pie that I made this week. Sadly, I got the recipe from someone's blog last year and haven't been able to find it again. It is AMAZING. I don't feel right about posting someone else's recipe, especially when I can't give credit, so if you want the recipe, feel free to contact me.

I originally found this Baked Salmon recipe on someone's blog but I haven't been able to find it again although it looks like the person who posted it used this recipe (which is the very same). We liked this a lot and it was a nice change since we have two "go to" salmon recipes and really, they are getting tired.

Finally, on the subject of fish, I don't know about you but we find it hard to know what fish is safe to eat and what should be avoided, especially since I am pregnant and we have a little one. On the other hand, we don't want to just avoid fish and miss out on the health benefits. One book that I found fascinating and helpful was Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's an interesting blend of food-travel guide and ecology guide. I learned a lot and am trying to choose fish based on his guidelines (one warning, read this and you will never look at shrimp the same way again).

Bon appetite!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Being off from work and having a bit of time to myself, there are so many things I might include. I hope I don't sound selfish but today's small pleasure was getting a haircut. I wear my hair fairly short and I have bangs, so once things start to get long, it drives me CRAZY. Pregnancy has accelerated my hair growth so by about 3 weeks after my last cut, it was starting to feel long and shaggy. One of my priorities this week was to get out and get things done that I might not have time for later. Today, after my swim (lovely again!) I went and got my hair cut. I am feeling pretty unattractive (whale-like, actually) so to at least feel like my hair isn't working against me was a nice treat. It makes me sound shallow but a new haircut always makes me feel like I have a fresh start. Lovely!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Freedom Day!

Today was my first day of mat leave and I have to say, it was WONDERFUL. I have been feeling so useless lately - going to work and getting through just the most basic of home duties was wiping me out completely. Yes, I am still wiped today but on the other hand, I got some much done that has been hanging over my head.
My list today included:
-gave the dogs a good walk
-went to the pool, bought my swim pass and had a 30 minute swim (if you have not had a swim in a salt-water pool when you are hugely pregnant, you have missed one of God's greatest gifts - it felt SO good to have the gravity off my poor body and feel like I actually had some mobility)
-went to the educational supply store and bought a few things that I wanted to try with Pk (watch for a post on that soon)
-wrote my birth plan (not a big deal but something my doula suggested)
-did my online pre-registration for the hospital and got all the insurance stuff worked out (for a country with public health care, sorting out the private room stuff seems ridiculously complicated but at least it's done)
-got some baby clothing sorted and put away
-knit for an hour and watched a show that has been saved on the PVR since February
-had a nap (lovely, just lovely)
-made a rhubarb custard pie as a thank you gift for our next door neighbours

Whew, makes me tired just reading the list but it feels so good to have gotten it all done. Sadly, the list for tomorrow is pretty long, too, but if I can keep this up, just for this week, I should be ready to take a bit more of a break. Hooray!

Baby, just hang in there another two weeks or so and we should be just right to meet you!

Local Food

O.k., so I think I am over my grouchiness of yesterday. Sorry about that. You have all been there, done that, so I know you understand (and I really appreciate it!).

Yesterday wasn't a total write-off. Actually, it ended up being a fairly nice day. One of my favourite parts of the day was going to get asparagus.

As you probably know, I am a transplanted city girl. I grew up in a large city (and IN the city, not a surrounding suburb) and while I was there, I loved it. There are still parts of life in the city that I love but I have to admit, I did get tired of the frenzy, the competition and the need to try and keep up. And the pretentiousness of some areas, well, that is something I could happily leave behind.

One thing about being a "city girl" is that being out of the city held a lot of fascination for me that would bore someone to tears who had grown up in a smaller place. I love the quaintness of a small town, the innocence of certain aspects of life and the slower pace. I don't mind that everyone knows everyone else (in fact, I kind of like it). If I am totally honest, I can't say that we are "truly" having the small-town experience - while we live in a town of 4 000 and it is a self-contained town instead of an extension of a larger place, we are 10 minutes drive to a town of 70 000 (but at least we have farmland between there and here, not just urban sprawl) and an hour into a city of somewhere in the area of 4 000 000 so it isn't like we are living in isolation or anything. To me, it's the best of both worlds.

One thing I do love about living out here is being so close to the food that we eat. There are lots of farms within a 15 minute walk from home and once spring arrives, we often buy things locally. I know spring is here because the first signs for local produce are up - right now, it's asparagus (one of my favourites, although dh can't stand it). I decided to go and pick some up late yesterday afternoon. It was almost five and I assumed that I might be too late but then, I forgot how these things are done.

I pulled up to the farm and there were three other cars pulling up ahead of me. There was no sign of a farmer or a stand, just a big sign saying that the "produce was on the porch". Up we all trekked to see another sign telling us to "help ourselves" to the produce in the fridge". The fridge was full of bags of rhubarb and asparagus and there was a bowl of cash for us to leave our payment in. There must have been at least $50 there. I loved this! It is just such a simple act of trust. I know that we aren't talking about thousands of dollars and that in the city, most people are fairly honest, too, I just really like the old fashioned honour system that goes on in places like this (one benefit to "everybody knowing everybody" is that you don't get away with much!). I drove away feeling like humanity had been redeemed in my eyes for a few hours (and hey, nobody had touched my belly or made a comment!).

I will also say, the asparagus was amazing. I tried a new recipe from Life As Mom. Yum!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Feeling Grouchy

Someone sent this to me today and I felt the need to share it (not that any of you would say or do these things). Something about pregnancy seems to make people especially insensitive and I am feeling it right now - no, I do not need to hear anyone's opinion that my belly is HUGE (somehow telling me that it's just my belly but nothing else seems to make it acceptable to comment), I do not need to hear that there is no way this baby is going to stay in much longer, I do not need to hear that I look like the baby will be 10 lbs, I do not need to hear that the baby is "so high" that he must be breech, or, best of all, I do not need my in-laws to share a card with Dh on his birthday from his sister and then insist that it is his responsibility to patch things up with her before the baby is born, despite the fact that her "apology" and "awareness that she can't treat you like that" and "evidence that she has changed" consisted of "I think of you every day. I love you." (wow, I don't think I have ever heard less of an apology). Sorry, this grouchy, huge, hormonal woman is feeling a bit touchy right now and would appreciate a teeny bit of consideration.

There. Rant finished. Enjoy.

The pregnancy 10 commandments

I saw this and thought it was funny. Enjoy!!!

The Pregnancy Ten Commandments

1. The appropriate response to a couple telling you they are having a baby is "Congratulations" with enthusiasm. Any other response makes you a jerk.

2. Through the wonders of science, we now know that babies are made ONLY by the mother and father- not grandparents. Unless the baby is in your uterus, or you are the man that helped put it there, you may not ever use the phrase "my baby"

3. On the same note, unless you made the baby as defined in #2, the pregnancy, birth and the raising of the child are not about you. You do not have input. No one wants to hear your opinion unless they ask for it.

4. The body of a pregnant woman should be treated the same as any other body. You would not randomly touch someone's stomach if they were not pregnant, nor would you inquire into the condition of their uterus, cervix or how they plan to use their breasts. Pregnancy does not remove all traces of privacy from a woman.

5. Likewise, no woman wants to hear comments on her weight- ever. A pregnant woman does not find it flattering that you think she is about to pop, must be having twins, looks swollen or has gained weight in her face. Telling her she looks too small only makes her worry that she is somehow starving her baby. Making such comments invite her to critique your physical appearance and you may not act offended. The only acceptable comment on appearance is "You look fabulous!"

6. Most of us have picked up on the fact that summer is hot. We are hot every summer when we are not pregnant. We don't need you to point out that we will be miserably hot before the baby comes.

7. There is a reason that tickets to Labor & Delivery are not yet sold on Ticketmaster. Childbirth is actually not a public event. It may sound crazy, but some women really do not relish the idea of their mother, mother-in-law or a host of other family members seeing their bare butt or genitals. Also, some people simply feel like the birth of their child is a private and emotional moment to be shared only by the parents.

8. Like everything else in life, unless you receive an invitation, you are not invited. This includes doctor appointments, ultrasounds, labor, delivery, the hospital and the parents' home. You do not decide if you will be there for the birth or if you will move in with the new parents to "help out". If your assistance is desired, rest assured that you will be asked for it.

9. If you are asked to help after the birth, this means you should clean up the house, help with cooking meals, and generally stay out of the way. Holding the baby more than the parents, interfering with breastfeeding and sleeping schedules and making a woman who is still leaking fluid from various locations lift a finger in housework is not helping.

10. The only people entitled to time with the baby are the parents. Whether they choose to have you at the hospital for the birth or ask you to wait 3 weeks to visit, appreciate that you are being given the privilege of seeing their child. Complaining or showing disappointment only encourages the parents to include you less.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Checking In

I have been meaning to get on and write but I have to admit, I am just too tired this week. I finish work on Friday (hooray!!!) and so this week is crazy-busy trying to get everything ready. I have several posts in mind and they will come, I just need to get through the week first. It doesn't help, either, that this baby seems to be attempting a jail break over the last few days - I am being kicked and beaten in places that I had never imagined were possible. It doesn't do much for sleeping. The good news is that when I was at the o.b. on Monday, baby is head down and seems to be well-positioned and my blood pressure was good so the game plan, according to my o.b., is to "let nature take its course". Cross your fingers for me - I was induced the last time and didn't enjoy that particular experience. I would like to attempt this one naturally (provided that he isn't massively huge).
Talk soon!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful women out there who bring love to a child, whether young or grown, whether that woman is mother or not.

I knew that I wanted to write a Mother's Day post but I really struggled about what to say. Mother's Day has so much significance to so many people and yet, it can be such a wonderful day or such an incredibly painful day, depending of your life circumstances. I kept debating, do I focus on the joys of motherhood or do I write about the pain that I know is associated with this day for so many? I have decided to touch a bit on each.

Motherhood has been the most powerful experience of my life. Pk has taught me about joy in ways that I could have never imagined - I now understand what it is to have a piece of my heart walking around outside of my body There is nothing like being told that someone loves you and in a way that leaves you with absolutely no doubt. There is something so powerful about being truly needed. There is nothing like the way that a little person can fill your arms or the sweetness of a head on your shoulder. Who knew that sharing just about anything could be so precious? I see the world in a totally different way that I could never have imagined before this little body joined us. I also know guilt of a depth that I had never experienced before, frustration that is almost indescribable and, at times, a sadness and helplessness that makes me feel that my heart will break. Motherhood has a power that is so profound. It leaves none of us untouched.

For so many, there is also such a sadness to this day. I have a friend who has basically given up the battle with infertility and this is a Sunday that she does not venture to church - it leaves her too raw and feeling too excluded. I read a wonderful blog post today that addresses some of these issues and I suggest you give it a read. For others, they are missing a mother who was a special influence in life and today reminds them of the loss. Laura wrote a touching post on this subject. It's hard to know how to best honour mothers and motherhood but to do it in a way that recognizes everyone.

Really, after these reflections, what I am left with, and what you have probably already seen reflected here, is the power that motherhood has on all of us. It is the most priceless gift and the most awesome responsibility. It can change everything about us and its absence can leave us with a hole that is almost impossible to fill. Today, I hope that you have a chance to reflect on the wonderful women in your life who have helped to shape who you are and that you can also appreciate any experiences you have had with that power. I will be enjoying my little girl, treasuring the movements I am feeling (at the moment, most especially, the chronic hiccups), feeling so lucky to have had the chance to go on this journey, and saying thank you to my mother and hoping that my grandmother, who left my life at age 12, is able to know what a gift she was to me.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Baby Stuff I Love

I started this series last week and then promptly forgot about it, sorry. It's been quite a week - we have been fighting a war with a raccoon and it has now ripped open the roof so we have been working with the bank and interviewing roofers - just the way I expected to spend the last bit of my pregnancy. On the plus side, my wonderful family doctor gave me a note this week and I will be starting my leave early, finishing next Friday at 35 weeks (there's nothing wrong, she could just see that I am exhausted and finding it hard to manage it all at this point). I am thrilled. I am praying that baby doesn't arrive until at least 37 weeks - there is just so much to do and I would also like to get a little bit of time to think, pray and organize so that when the time does come, I don't feel so unprepared.

Anyway, I was pondering what to tell you about and at Pk's music class this morning, I thought I would share the joys we have experienced through the Kindermusik programme, which happens to begin at birth. We started when Pk was a year old but with this baby, I would like to start earlier.

There are lots of children's music classes out there, some much better than others. We did a fun Mother Goose programme at the library, one at the parenting centre and a fantastic class that was offered by an Orff specialist at the local library when Pk was younger. I should probably preface this by saying that my undergrad degree is in music and I am somewhat picky - it makes me insane to go to a class that is marketed as a "music" class when the instructor can't model in-tune singing and when the singing features some of the less attractive features of amateur karaoke. We have had a great experience with our Kindermusik instructors.

Kindermusik is a developmental programme that mixes music, literacy, movement and instruments (I believe that the infant classes also have an infant massage component, as well). It's a once weekly programme and registration includes the class itself, a book or two for the enrolled child that connects to the unit being explored, a parent guide with excellent suggestions for exploring the musical concepts at home, CDs featuring the music that will be explored in class and an instrument. The CDs have become a favourite for us at home and I have found that the selection of music on the CD is excellent - children are exposed to a number of genres, music from around the world, classical ("art") music and language (finger plays and rhymes). We have taken several classes now and I have to say, for us, the best class has been the Family Time class (a class offered to meet the needs of different ages, a real bonus for parents who have more than one child and don't have the time to take several classes). As an childhood music specialist, I have consistently been impressed by the range of musical concepts that are explored from high and low, timbre, tempo, dynamics and instrumentation and all in the context of a developmentally appropriate class - we don't find ourselves fighting the toddler need to move and to explore. The expectations of the child are very reasonable, making the class enjoyable for everyone. Pk has gotten to play all kinds of instruments, can identify many instruments of the orchestra, is demonstrating awareness of beat and is beginning to do some pitch matching - not bad at 2 1/2. As far as we are concerned, this programme is worth every cent (and at $130 for ten weeks including all of the materials, I think it is very, very reasonably priced).

The only caveat I have in recommending the class is that some instructors are better than others. Luckily, it is a very widespread programme these days and if you live in an urban centre, you shouldn't have any trouble at all finding multiple classes. We love our instructor Laura and plan to keep going with the programme as long as possible.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Recipe Round-Up

I have been having fun trying new recipes and I thought I would share links to a few favourites from the last week. Enjoy!

I never thought that I could cook fish in the crockpot. I have tried two of Stephanie's recipes from A Year of Slow Cooking and both were wonderful. This week, we tried her Foil Packet Tilapia and it was delicious and the house smelled wonderful (not something I often say with fish!).

Dh is a real meat and potatoes man so when I saw this recipes for meatballs in a horseradish gravy, we had to try them. While they took a while to prepare, they fed us for two nights and were yummy with buttered, whole wheat noodles and a salad. While I am at it, another recipe I tried from this blog not too long ago and ADORED was this Potato Pie. Not exactly "health food" but very yummy and great as part of a meal for company.

On Tuesday, Pk and I were home together and I realised that while she and I have made muffins together many times, we have never actually made cookies. I wanted to find something low in sugar and these Banana Oatmeal Cookies were perfect - whole grains, no sugar and yummy. Dh didn't think they were very sweet but I thought they were great. I love the recipes at Mothering when I am looking for something healthy.

I don't know how much longer I will be doing much cooking but I will try to keep up with the new recipes as long as I can. I love discovering new meals so I can keep things from getting boring!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Out the front of our house, we have two beautiful mock apple trees. At this time of year, the smell is overpowering and it comes in all the windows on the breeze. There is no air freshener more lovely or a more wonderful reminder of the joys of spring.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Beading Workshop

At church, it isn't uncommon to get invited to a shopping party - Pampered Chef and Partylite being the most common. I don't mind going but I have to say, I do find them VERY expensive. Last night, a friend from church had a different kind of party and I have to say, this was one I really enjoyed!

This party was actually called a "Beading Workshop." The woman running the workshop had been a missionary in Ghana, West Africa for 2 years. While she was there, she developed a real love for the beauty of the beading work done there and when the time came to return to Canada, she wanted to find something that she could do to both maintain a contact with Africa and to help the wonderful people she met. Big Village beads was born.

All of the beads are made from recycled glass, mainly from bottles. Some are also hand painted with beautiful colours and designs. I love the look of beach glass and many of the beads remind me of that. At the workshops, you are provided with an overwhelming selection of beautiful beads and given support to design your own jewelry. I made myself a necklace and earring set, a bracelet and earring set and a bracelet for Pk. I had so much fun. It was a bit overwhelming at first but once I got going, I could see that I could become totally addicted to this.

The jewelry is a lovely weight - I love the chunkiness and coolness of the glass. It also feels really good to know that what I am buying is going directly to help a fair trade industry in a third world country. Normally, when I attend "home sales" parties, I resent being asked to host a party. I have to admit, this time, I am seriously considering hosting a party of my own down the line. Everyone gets a chance to have a visit and to make beautiful jewelry at the same time.