Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Favorite Baby Toys (Birth-8 months)

Sophie the giraffe - Best teething toy!

Lamaze Tug n' Play Knot - great for on-the-go

Bright Starts Fire truck - zooms across the room (good for pre-crawlers & crawlers)

Bright Starts Chill n' teethe - I chill these in the fridge and give it to her to bite on when I'm busy in the kitchen

Learning Curve Grab Apple - this was her first official toy which she was crazy about!

Learning Curve Fruity teether - great for on-the-go


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Valentines 2013

Valentines day 2013 - I'm such a sucker for romance!


I got Maya all dressed up in her pink frilly outfit for a date with her boyfriend Christos. We went for a walk, for lunch, and for a play. They are close in age - he is 5 months older. They had fun playing together - it is so cute to see her socialize with other kids! That's when you can see your child's personality develop - when they are around other kids. I feel like she's an "introverted extrovert", for now...!


When my husband got home from work, he brought Maya a bouquet of purple tulips, and for me he got a beautiful floral arrangement of long stemmed red roses, with shells at the bottom of the vase. It was absolutely gorgeous! He also got me some bath products from The Beauty Bar - it was so sweet and thoughtful! I would've been just happy with the flowers but the rose body lotion was the icing on the cake! I'm such a sucker for romantic gestures...that really set the mood for the evening.
Maya has been going to bed early, fast asleep by 8:30pm every night, so we decided to put her to bed as we normally do, and then have my mum come over and supervise (watch TV in the living room with the baby monitor) while we went out for dinner.

I had got tickets for a special Valentines event at one of our favourite spots - East is East restaurant 'Night of Mystic Romance' where they had a special romantic vibe in their Chai Lounge upstairs. They had wonderful music performances, love songs, and romantic poetry, as well as a nice buffet. They had the room set up with long couches so you could lie back and listen to the music, and cuddle with your loved one. It was a really nice evening. We really connected, were present in the moment, and sort of forgot we were parents!

I realized that night that we need to do that more often - date nights - where we are not rushing back to manage the baby. We've gone out for dates during the day before, but I'm always wondering what she's eaten, etc. I was able to truly relax because I knew she was sound asleep. That night I felt the most connected to him since we had the baby, and I really missed that. It was perfect for my mom as well, because all she did was watched her TV shows and checked on her every once in a while. It's so easy to get caught up in the day to day chores that I forget that I need to MAKE time for our relationship too.

What are your guys' ideas for date nights? Especially after kids..?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Best marriage advice I have received ....over the years

(us on our 7 year anniversary, at a diner, re-living our first date at Johnny Rockets)

I have been together with my husband for over 7 years now - 6 years living together, 5 years engaged, and almost 2 years married. Over the years, I have received so much great advice from family and friends regarding relationships, plus a few that I've figured out on my own.
Enjoy & Happy Valentine's Day!

If you/your spouse only had a week to live, what would you do with them or for them? Do it now! (You never know...) Do something nice for your spouse every day. My mum read this in a Will Smith interview and always remembered it. One thing is not a lot to ask, no matter how busy you are. Even if it;s just an "I love you" text.

Divorce is not an option, mentally or financially. When you realize this you will fully be committed to getting through the tough times and not playing the divorce card.

Always sleep in the same bed. Once you start sleeping in another bed, you'll never go back. And then you'll be in separate rooms for 30 years. And try to go to bed together at the same time. The time before bed is very cuddly.

Remember why you got together in the first place. Even when those things irk you. In difficult times, read old love notes or look at pictures.

Your marriage is the first priority. Over work, friends, family, in-laws, school, money, and especially over children. This is non-negotiable.

You don't have to be the same. You are two people who bring their own strengths to a relationship. You're not always going to agree, or do things he same way. And that's fine, because you're not the same people!

Boyfriends aren't your girlfriends. And vice versa. That's why you have girl friends to go out and do girly stiff with.

You do your own thing. He does his own thing. Have lives and interests outside each other. Your spouse is not your WHOLE life. This will take the pressure off them. A great way to nurture your relationship is to actually take care of your own needs, yourself. You were your own person before you got married, and you are still your own person.

Enjoy time together, even if you have problems, don't spend all your time doing "problem talk".

Don't deal with problems you haven't had yet. Even if you notice a pattern, don't try to predict the future. Deal with stuff as it comes up, or else it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How a person feels is never wrong. Even if you don't understand why or how. They feel that way. So deal with that, never be dismissive of it.

There is no place for anger, resentment, criticism, blame or control in a relationship. Control yourself! These things can destroy a union and a person.

Don't keep score. You get what you give. Give 100% every time. This is especially true after having children, when the workload increases. If you need help, ask and you shall receive! Treat your spouse the way you would want to be treated. Marriage is not always 50/50. Some days it is 10/90 or 60/40. It varies.

People are not mind-readers. Communicate. But timing is everything. Shut up when you're right, and say it out loud when you're wrong.

Never stop dating. Make a date night just to reconnect. Make time for each other. Even just sitting around, enjoying each others' company. It's about connecting, you don't even have to be talking!

RESPECT. RESPECT. RESPECT. Love and commitment is the most important qualities of a marriage. But respect is equally as important. Respect your spouse and respect yourself. If you don't behave respectfully, your relationship can quickly turn abusive, especially with language. Name calling is just as hurtful as a physical punch.

If you're having a big issue, get a second opinion from someone you trust. Sometimes you can be overreacting. Also ask yourself, " is this still going to be a big deal if I look back on it in 5 years?" It puts things into perspective, objectively. Life is long. If you complain about something, it tends to magnify it.

Be your spouses biggest cheerleader. Support them. Compliment more than you criticize. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 7, 2013 - 8 months old

This month has had a lot of ups and downs.

The ups have been that this little rascal has been crawling so fast!!! We have to keep our eyes on her at all times. She can crawl from room to room so quickly, that by the time is takes us to reach her, she already has her hands on her target! Now she likes to reach into her toy box and pull out the toys that she wants to play with - what a big girl!

Last month she started to crawl forward, and almost immediately after, she started to want to stand. Now that's all she wants to do. She stands against the coffee tables, the couch, chairs, crib..anything that she can climb up on. She stands for about 5 minutes at a time and bangs the surface like a drum - as if she's saying "You're fired!"

Her favourite new foods are blueberries, apricots and sweet corn.

Right now she loves anything that doesn't look like a baby I give her a lot of cooking things to play with, like plastic saucers, and (sealed) plastic spices, plastic funnels,etc. She likes to play on the kitchen floor while I wash the dishes! Her favourite thing are large spoons, since she is teething so badly. I think she is going to get her top teeth soon.

I like to read her books during the day, and her favourite book is called "Everyone Eats" by Julia Kuo. Each page has an animal and what they eat - eg. "Deer eat lettuce". Her second favourite book is also about food, "Each peach pear plum" where at the end of the story, all these characters share a plum pie. I think we have a foodie on our hands!

She loves sing songs and rhymes, and she wants me to sing while she dances. What a total ham. I feel like we are putting on a performance every day! When I take her to the baby story times at the library, she likes to be the centre of attention. I take her every week, so I constantly have all these baby songs stuck in my head.

For the majority of January we visited Great Grandma Mary Josephine, who died on January 24th. I took the baby to see her nearly every day, as her health kept declining. When she stopped eating, she lasted 5 days before she passed away, so I am grateful for those last 5 days that we got to say goodbye. Our family was all together for her last night on Earth. We had food together as Maya crawled on the carpet. We said our final goodbyes and she passed away at dawn the next day.
It was very hard to lose someone who I thought would always be there - somebody who cared for me and nurtured me. It has been hard to grieve in front of the baby because I don't want to stress her out.

But there is something to be said about fate - if I had got pregnant 6 months later, than Grandma would have not met Maya, and I'm so thankful that she did. She left this Earth a Great Grandmother, and whatever happiness she received from seeing the baby is the best gift I could have given her.

We had her funeral on January 31st and it was a beautiful traditional Catholic ceremony, followed by the burial. She would have loved it. When it came time to bury her, the sun came out. Our whole family has been reunited over the past 2 weeks - we have deeply, emotionally connected to each other, in a way that we never did before. It has brought us closer. Grandma did that for us. She had an amazing ability to bring everyone together. She treated everyone with kindness and respect. She was a Mother to all.

With every death there lies an opportunity to live fuller & be more present & think of the things that loved one taught you. Going forward, that's how I'm want to live.

Until next month...


Monday, February 11, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Parenting: how fathers differ from mothers

Today I came across this really interesting article about stay-at-home dads and how their style of parenting is different than moms.

It's quite fascinating how fathers differ from mothers in child-rearing - the true psychology of how men & women behave seems to come out.

An interesting point in the article mentioned that men aren't so hard on themselves, like mothers are -
"[a pile of muddy clothes on the floor] doesn't bother him the way it bothers me". That is fascinating. Why is it that little things like that bother mothers so much? Is it because we are trying to be perfectionist mothers, or is it because subconsciously we are trying to protect our children from dangers (choking, etc)?

Maybe it's due to the fact that men and women are just wired differently - biologically, psychologically, etc. Men are supposed to get out in the world and get their hands dirty, and women are supposed to guard the family and the fort - in caveman times, of course. In many articles online, it says that fathers encourage independence and mothers give a sense of security. It's no surprise that fathers are more play-oriented and technologically savvy. Mothers seem to verbalize & explain things more, whereas fathers seem to verbalize less with children.

As I've noticed with my own daughter, she prefers to go to her dad to play, and when she's tired or fussy, she only wants Mommy! I definitely verbalize more than my husband - he prefers to show her how to do things, rather than explain.

(watching TV upside down)

(reading stories - one of my favorite bonding activities)


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dealing with the death of a family member as a new mom

(Motherhood, 1947)

10 days ago, our family lost our matriarch - my Grandmother - Maya's Great Grandmother - her namesake, Mary Josephine.

For the last 7 years she suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and this year she slowly made her journey to the last stage. Alzheimer's is always referred to as "the long goodbye" - as every day passes, they mentally disappear in front of you, while looking totally normal physically. It is very hard on the family, to watch somebody you love slip away in front of you, without being able to do anything about it - only to accept this progression.

(First meeting Great Grandma at 5 days old)

By the time my daughter entered the world, my grandmother was long gone (mentally). She could no longer speak, feed herself, and was immobile. We used to take the baby to see her every Sunday and she loved it. Her condition started to improve and her mood was uplifted, for the first time in this 7 year decline. Maya looks like all the babies in our family - she has the round face, the striking eyebrows, and our coloring - so it was almost like she recognized that this new little one was part of us - and part of her.

(On her 95th birthday - her last birthday)

We spent her last night on earth, all together by her side, as a family. We had somewhat of a warning because she had completely stopped eating - and she passed away 5 days later. So, I got to spend the last 5 days with her and say goodbye everyday. It meant a lot to me to say goodbye. I was fortunate for this. But still, when she finally did pass away, it was a shock. Even though we had been saying goodbye every day for 7 years (with the Alzheimer's). I was still unprepared. We got used to her always being there - even when she wasn't there. Now it feels like there's a big hole in our life - no more visiting Grandma on Sundays.

(Family vacation to Mexico - 1991)

It was a big loss, to lose somebody who had loved you, cared for you, nurtured you. Who was there for my entire life. I am still trying to figure out how to process this.

Grief is a strange thing. It comes in flurries of emotions, you never know when it'll hit you. On the day she passed away, I was okay. I said my goodbyes the night before, and she passed away at dawn. I went with my father and aunt to see her after she passed away, to pick out her outfit for the funeral. I grieved then. Then on the drive back, I was okay. Later on in the day, we ran out of diapers so we had to go to the Superstore to stock up. As we were shopping, I started to feel numb and nauseous. In the car ride back, I just started crying hysterically. 

It has been a struggle to deal with my grief around the baby. At almost 8 months, I wonder how much she understands. I don't want to stress her out, so I try my hardest not to cry around her. 

How do moms handle their grief around kids? How are you supposed to deal with your own emotions, while being the primary caregiver to a child? It is hard, especially with grief. It is hard to be supermom all the time. I keep telling myself that the only way I can honor her memory is to just love my daughter as much as she loved me. But I still miss her...

Motherhood is a 24/7 job. I don't have time to sit around and cry because I have to change diapers, make dinner, and play with my daughter. Coping with grief as a new mother is just another thing that women have to juggle. The fact is, death is a part of life. Birth and death go hand in hand. The same emotions that explode as we rejoice a life being birthed, are experienced with the same intensity when someone passes away. In the hospital where my daughter was born, the maternity ward was in the same wing as palliative care. Birth and death right beside each other.

(Motherhood, 1949)

A couple things that are helping me, in these early stages of grief:

- spending time with family - lots of family dinners, talking about the lost loved one in fond memories

- grabbing a few evenings away from the baby - to go get my nails done, go to an action movie with my mother, go to dinner with my father (things that help get my mind off everything) I need to get my mind off the baby AND the grief, just as a sanity saver

- being comforted by the baby's routine - I know what time she will feed, nap, play, etc.

- putting a few (not too many) dates on my calendar (eg. Wednesdays: library story time, Mondays: yoga) Don't over-schedule.

- journal, journal, journal. Write down your feelings in a meditative atmosphere, to just release them. Don't re-read what you wrote...just flip the page and keep writing. This is the main thing that's helping me right now. I write after I put the baby down to sleep (since I'm in a relaxed mood watching her fall asleep)

There's something to be said about fate, though. What if I had gotten pregnant 6 months later, like many women my age do? Then my daughter would have never met her namesake. It is if she was waiting for her, waiting for a great grandchild for her bucket list.

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.

Rather we should thank God that such men lived."

-George S. Patton, Jr.

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