Halloween prep

I’ve been busy getting all Halloweeny this week.  I kind of love Halloween.  Especially the pumpkins.  And the candy.  But mainly the pumpkins.

I’m not crafty.  When I was a kid, my grade seven teacher called me to her desk and said, “art isn’t your best subject, is it?”  Luckily, I haven’t let that small (and pretty accurate) comment haunt me into adulthood…

Anyway, although I’m not very good at (and generally don’t enjoy) art projects, that rule doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to Halloween.  The only “crafty” thing I have any patience for is pumpkin carving.

A few years ago, our street had a pumpkin carving contest.  I was pregnant with Littleman so, obviously, I had way too much time on my hands.  I decided to try the scraping technique (where you remove some of the pumpkin skin without slicing right through) and I carved a witch’s face.  It took about five hours and it turned out amazing.  I won the contest and, ever since, have loved carving my pumpkins for Halloween.

This year, we had lots of pumpkins to choose from.  D grew them at our farm and we ended up with a bunch of different shapes and sizes.  I spent yesterday’s morning nap time scooping out three pumpkins.  I hate scooping the gunk so I wanted to get it done well in advance.  Also, last year was my first time roasting pumpkin seeds and I knew I wanted to try again.  I had much better luck separating the seeds this year.

After I got the pumpkins cleaned out, I stuck them in our cold storage room so I could focus on the seeds.  I searched the internet for instructions and was annoyed to find that everyone seems to have a different temperature/time for roasting pumpkin seeds.  Since I had so many seeds, I decided to do a few separate batches so that I could try different techniques.  My best batch was coconut oil and Himalayan rock salt, roasted at 325 degrees farenheit for about 25 minutes (checking every 7-10 mins).  I also did one batch that I tossed in oil, salt, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce before roasting, which came out very tasty too.

With the seeds dealt with, it was time to switch my focus to carving my pumpkins.  I found a couple of simple ideas that wouldn’t take too much time.  They were less elaborate than I’ve done in the past, but I just didn’t have the time to commit to them this year.  I managed to get two done during Bo’s nap.  I saved the third pumpkin to carve with Littleman after daycare.

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I think we’re pretty much ready for the big day, aside from perhaps needing to buy one more box of candy.  It’s possible that I ate a bit too much of it this week…

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Clothes bros – second edition

Before Bo was even two months old, I discovered the joy of dressing my boys in matching clothes. I don’t do it often, though. The main reason is that Bo wears all of Littleman’s old baby clothes and I don’t want to waste money buying a whole new wardrobe for no reason (besides cuteness!)

So, imagine my pleasure when I pulled out the next size of baby clothes we had stashed away and I found that I would be able to dress my boys alike once again!

It turns out that Littleman had a Batman onesie just like the long-sleeved tee he wears now! Victory!

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More candy, please!

Is it just that I’m bigger or is Halloween candy a lot smaller than it was when we were kids?

I’ve been spending Bo’s morning nap time sorting out our Halloween stuff.  I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to carve on our pumpkins (I overdid it for a few years and I think it’s time to scale back and keep it simple this year).  I pulled out Littleman’s trick-or-treating basket and found the lights that we put up on Halloween.  I unburied our big Halloween candy bowls and opened up the candy boxes to see how much more I need to buy before the big day.

OK, I lie.  I could have figured out how much candy I have based on the number on each box.  But, I needed a little sugar hit.

So, here’s my question: when did the Halloween candy get so small?  As a mom of young kids, I suppose I appreciate the fact that the candy they’ll get on Halloween is nice and little.  One or two small bites is really more than enough.  But as a nursing momma who has a MAJOR sweet tooth, these things are ridiculous!  I could eat an entire box in one sitting and not even break a sweat.

Good thing I’ve started running…

I did it!

On Saturday morning, I ran my first 5K race.

Eight weeks ago, I’d never run before.  I started from scratch with the C25K program, using their iPhone app, and used Digifit to track my progress.

Starting out was tough.  Even running for just a minute was hard for me.  When my app would tell me to walk, I was super-relieved.  I couldn’t imagine how I was going to get to the point that I could run for five minutes straight, let alone 5 kilometres.

But, I kept at it.  I did my best to fit in three runs per week and, slowly, it started to get easier.

During my final week of training, I managed to run for 30 minutes straight after a five-minute warm-up walk.  I felt pretty good and knew that I would be able to run for the full 5K.

Race day arrived and the morning was a little bit hectic.  D was working, so my parents agreed to come help with the kids.  I loaded up the car with stroller, diaper bag and my running stuff.  Off we went.  The race was in a park pretty close to home, so the drive was quick.  Unfortunately,  parking close to the start line was limited and we had to drive pretty far to find a spot.  I ended up setting up the stroller for my mom so she and the kids could start walking.  Then my dad dropped me back at the start line before heading off to find a parking spot.  (I couldn’t handle the thought of walking a few kilometres before running 5K!)

I felt a little weird once my dad drove away.  I was on my own in a crowd of people. Loud music was blasting.  I had to pee so I stood in line for that.  Then I realized that, in my haste getting out of the car, I had forgotten to grab my running gloves.  Crap.  Oh well.  The weather was pretty decent so I could survive without them.

I started to wander around and then saw a familiar face walk by.  One of my work colleagues was there!  I caught up with her for a minute (hadn’t seen her since before Bo was born) and that totally helped calm me down.

My mom and boys made it to the start area at that point so I hung out with them for a couple of minutes until it was time to get ready to run.

The next part was probably the most nerve-wracking for me.  I said goodbye to my family and made my way to the start area.  I positioned myself in the “36 minutes +” area because I wasn’t really sure how long it would take me.  My goal was to do it in under 40 minutes (I’m not very fast) so I figured this was a good place to start.  I re-tied my shoelaces and got my phone strapped onto my arm.  I put in my earphones.  Someone called my name.  It was my fitness instructor – the woman who teaches my mommy and baby fitness class.  She is the one who convinced me to do this and I was happy to see her there.

All of a sudden the race was starting.  Off we went!  I was happy to be starting because, at this point, I kind of just wanted to get the whole thing over with!  This was the first time that I started off running without walking to warm up.  I wasn’t sure how that would impact the overall run for me, but my goal was to run the entire time so I just started off pretty slow.

The run itself was pretty uneventful.  Around the 2K point, I felt like I could probably go a bit faster so I sped up a bit.  Other than that, I just chugged along, listening to my music and looking at the scenery (the leaves were looking pretty beautiful in the park!)  It turned out to be a beautiful morning so I was very warm.  My hands were freezing (those damn gloves!) but I tried my best to ignored that.  The only part that really sucked was that I started to get a cramp with about 1/2 a kilometre left to go.  So annoying!  Luckily, I knew I was close to the finish and forced myself to keep running.  I really, really wanted to walk but I’m stubborn and forced myself to run the whole way.

I rounded the final corner and could see my mom and Bo on the sideline.  That definitely helped.  I waved to them and wondered where my dad and Littleman were.  Then I saw them up closer to the finish line.  That’s when I glanced up at the finish line and saw the clock.  34:45.  Eek!  If I booted it, I could finish in under 35 minutes.  Despite the cramp (and kind of feeling like I could barf!) I sprinted the final stretch and beat the clock.  Yeehaw!

My instructor had finished just ahead of me (she’s 4 months pregnant by the way… I am so impressed!) and she gave me a big hug.  Then we received our race medals together before I went to find my family.

My actual time was 34:24.  I feel good about that.  Actually, I feel good about the whole thing.  I know running 5K is not a big deal to a lot of people but I never, ever imagined that I would run at all, so completing this race feels great.  I didn’t start running until I was 36-years-old and after having two kids.  I’m proud that I was able to accomplish this on my own in 8 weeks.

I don’t know if I’ll do another organized run or if I’ll train for a longer distance.  I haven’t really thought that far ahead yet.  But, running has made me feel good and I’ve been enjoying the time out of the house by myself, so I think I’ll keep it up for as long as the weather allows.

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When Littleman saw my medal after the race, he asked, “did you win, Mommy?” I tried to explain the concept that everyone’s a winner. Since his only experience with medals is watching the Olympics, I don’t think he totally got it. That’s ok. I kind of felt like a winner, anyway!

I need to get some sleep

I’m exhausted today.  Bo has been waking multiple times a night to be fed for the past few days.  Then, last night, Littleman woke once, asking for water (we’re trying to wean him off water at bedtime in an attempt to get away from nighttime diapers.  He’s fully toilet trained during the day, but still gets pretty wet at night).  On top of all those wake-ups, D is getting over a cold and snored all night long.  Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed and went for my final run before I attempt my first 5K race this weekend.  As soon as I returned, Bo was ready for his morning nap so I took him upstairs to settle him down.  As I was nursing him, I heard a text message arrive on my phone.  I checked it and it was from D, who was downstairs.  He had sent me this article: Why our breastfed babies and toddlers wake so frequently…

I read through the article and, let me just say, my husband is lucky that I was otherwise engaged.  Otherwise, he would have gotten an earful!

The article starts out talking about how “sleep deprivation is the cruelest form of torture.”  Yes, I agree.  It’s bad, really bad.  Then, though, it goes on to outline all the reasons why it’s good that babies wake up in the night to nurse.

I’m sure many, if not all, of the reasons are valid.  I’m sure my baby benefits from being breastfed on demand, even if it means I’m tired.  But, holy shit, I didn’t need to receive that info from my well-rested husband who snored his way through the night while I woke up multiple times with our kids!

Luckily, I stumbled across some excellent advice at the end of the article, which I quickly pointed out to him:

Leave the washing and dirty kitchen and go sleep when your child sleeps during the day, cancel your plans for the day and stay home to have a quiet day instead.  Delay returning to work for as long as possible.

Sounds good to me… I’ll get right on that!

What could have been

I was out for a run yesterday morning when I ran past “the one that got away.”  That is, the first house that D and I ever made an offer on.  The house we lost in a bidding war.

Six years ago we were renting a condo together.  We had been married for a little over a year and were ready to start a family.  We knew we didn’t want to have kids in a condo so we began our search for a house.

At first it was kind of fun.  We’d pop into open houses on the weekends and take different routes through our preferred neighbourhoods to check out what our options may be.  After a couple of months of casual looking,we started working with a real estate agent who helped us get in to see houses quickly when something desirable would come on the market.  We saw a lot – I mean A LOT – of houses.

In January 2009, we found it.  It was a great house.  It met D’s criteria of being a bit of a fixer-upper (he wanted to do some renovations himself) and it was in the neighbourhood we wanted.  It was a corner lot with a nice sized backyard and a private driveway (which is pretty uncommon for the houses we could afford in this neighbourhood.  Most have a mutual drive).

We brought my mom to see it (always feels good to have parental approval!) and even brought in a contractor buddy of D’s to get advice on what we could/couldn’t do before making a formal offer.

I don’t think either of us slept a wink after we submitted that offer.  I know I spent the night imagining what our life would be like in that house (and I’m pretty sure D was remodelling the whole thing in his head).  I could see us living there and loving it.  I could picture our future kids playing in the yard while we BBQ’d. I could see us walking to the nearby park.  This was our house!

After a stressful day of negotiations we ended up losing the house to someone else. We were shocked.  I was definitely devastated.  I knew, logically, that there would be other houses but I had to spend a bit of time grieving the life I had imagined in that house.

A couple of months later, we found our current house.  And to be honest, I don’t regret what happened at all.  Surely we would have been very happy there. But the house we ended up in is our home.  We have amazing neighbours, with tons of kids on our block.  We are a short walk to the daycare and to public transit.  It’s hard to picture how life would be if we lived somewhere else.

Thinking about what might have been if we had bought that house makes me realize how often our lives take twists and turns that we don’t expect (or that we don’t necessarily want).  And how these twists and turns can impact everything that happens afterwards.  For example, we decided that we wouldn’t start trying to get pregnant until after we had purchased a house.  If we had succeeded in buying that first house, we would have started trying to conceive sooner.  Would it still have taken us 14 months to get pregnant?  Or would it have happened right away?  It’s crazy to think we could have a five-year-old instead of a not-quite-4-year-old right now.

My friend’s twins turned one recently. I sometimes think about the day that she told me they were expecting the twins. We had just told them we were pregnant with our second child, Puppet.  We were so excited to be due around the same time.  Our older sons are the same age and we had really enjoyed spending our first maternity leave together.  Then, a couple of weeks after we’d shared the news, we lost Puppet.

Seeing those one-year-old twins (who are so sweet and funny!) makes me think about that crazy, awful twist my family’s life took when we had the miscarriage. We would have had a one-year-old child now too.  But instead, we have this amazing, sweet, happy, strong and handsome little seven-month-old boy.

It’s kind of like the house that could have been: Something we loved and thought we wanted more than anything else.  Something we lost that was beyond our control.  The house was just a thing, not a person, but both those losses led us along the path to where we are right now, today.  I don’t know what might have been, but I do know what is.  And at this very moment, there is nowhere I’d rather be than in this little house with this family.

Food deja vu

My experience with introducing solids to Bo seems to be eerily similar that of his older brother.  And by that, I mean that it isn’t going terribly well at all.  The biggest difference this time?  Me.  I’m just not stressing about it like I did with Littleman.

It’s been about six weeks since I offered Bo his first solid food.  In that time, I’ve tried a few different techniques, all of which, for the most part, failed.  Rice cereal?  Forget about it.  Homemade vegetable purees?  Make him gag.  Store bought purees?  He won’t even open his mouth.  BLW?  He sometimes grabs the food and puts it to his lips, but then, without fail, just mushes it up and throws it down.

We persevere, however, and still attempt to feed him some form of solid food at least once a day.  And, after lots of trial and error, we’ve recently had a few successes:

  • Zucchini puree mixed with rice cereal – for some reason this is the only “spoon” food that Bo appears not to mind.  He doesn’t eat large quantities but he’ll actually open his mouth (a bit) for this one and seems to actually swallow it, as opposed to spitting it back out or barfing it up.
  • Red, yellow or orange peppers, cut in strips – this is one “finger food” that Bo really enjoys.  He’s able to grasp a piece of pepper in his hand and gum it.  He actually seems pretty adept at getting some of the flesh while spitting out the skin.  Since Littleman also loves peppers, it’s nice to have at least one snack that they will both eat. In fact, Bo managed to swipe Littleman’s bowl of peppers the other day.
  • Scrambled eggs – Littleman and I were having scrambled eggs for lunch on the weekend and I decided it was a good time to try it out with Bo.  I put some small chunks on his high chair tray, which he promptly squished and dropped in his lap.  I tried helping guide his hand to his mouth but he wasn’t interested.   I carried on with my lunch and then tried again, offering him a tiny piece from my fingers.  He actually ate it!  Then he started opening his mouth for more.  The total quantity he ate was pretty small but I consider it a big success.  He only gagged once and managed to work through it, swallowing the piece he was gagging on rather than throwing the whole mess up.

In addition to the solid food, we’ve also been working on the sippy cup.  He enjoys chewing on it, which gets him a bit of formula.  I don’t think he swallows much (I’m pretty sure the majority of it ends up on his clothes!) but, again, I’m not too worried about it.
Breastfeeding continues to go well, so the food and the cup are really just for the experience.  Bo’s still nursing 8-10 times a day (including about 2 middle-of-the-night feeds).  He’s growing and developing well so I’m happy to stick with the breastfeeding.  The only issue with it these days is the fact that he gets SO DISTRACTED.  I miss the days that I could nurse him on the living room couch while Littleman played on the floor and D washed dishes.  Or when I could feed him in the car in a grocery store parking lot.  Now, if we’re anywhere but in his bedroom (or, if we’re not home, then in a nice dark room), he pulls off the breast over and over, causing me to spray milk all over the place and making for a very inefficient feed.  And nursing covers?  No way.  He thrashes and yanks on it until he uncovers himself, drawing way more attention to us than if I use no cover at all.

I don’t think there’s much I can do about the distractedness.  It’s probably pretty typical 7.5-month-old behaviour.  And I know the solids will come in time.  Before I know it, I’m sure I’ll be complaining about having two teenage boys eating me out of house and home!

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