Oct 30, 2010

A Hilary Book Review: The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society

When I started, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer, I didn't know what the heck to think of it. Basically, it's a set of fictional letters and telegrams from the late 1940's, post WW2, set in London and a small Island in the English Channel. I had never read this style of book before and found the first 50 pages were a struggle. However, once I fell into it, I looked forward to reading a letter or two each night before bed.

Like a cup of tea, this book needs to be sipped slowly. (I think it took me 4 months to reach the end). Once I was accustomed to it's fresh style, I found I needed to allow enough time between the events to let them sink in. It's a great glimpse of what pre-computer communication was all about: you had to wait a day, or two, or three, to get a response to your telegraph.

Over the course of 250 pages, letter by letter, I slowly fell in love with the main character, Juliet Ashton, and all of the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The characters have so much humanity after surviving many brutal years under the Nazi Occupation. It's a story of love, friendship, survival, and staying true to oneself. And the end...I am sooo happy to report it's one of those endings that made me hug the book when I was done.

When I finished this book, all I could think to myself was, this really was a Delightful book (and I never use the word delightful :) ).

Oct 29, 2010

Fall Photo Shoot

Yes...I am one of those 'crazy' moms who is going to get my family to co-ordinate outfits each year for a Family picture. Laugh if you must, I think these pictures are SUPER cute.

Courtesy of findingforeverphotography.ca

Oct 28, 2010

Baby Essentials: 4-5 Months

6 months is right around the corner, and oh boy is my little baby developing fast. This week she has started singing "ahhh ahhh ahhh" when she wakes up. It's so cute. Here's what has been essential for us during the 4-5 month phase.

For Baby's Development:
1. Lots of Toys! Our faves: Sophie The Giraffe by Vulli, Eric Carle Toys, Manhattan Toy, Tolo Toys, Infantino
2. We are always singing and playing music in the house. Raffi is a must have!
3. Board Books: something simple like Bright Baby First Words, by Roger Priddy, will help your baby learn the lingo.
4. For those interested, you can start baby sign language at 4 months. It's pretty fun. We're using Baby Signing 1-2-3, by Nancy Cadjan, as our guide.

For Mommy's Sanity:
5. Pippalily Toy Strap, you can order online or we got ours at Baby on the Hip ($10). This keeps the toys near baby and off the dirty floor!
6. Carter's Bibs: these have some sort of plastic woven on the backside to keep the drool in the bib.
7. JJ Cole Bundle Me: a car seat sleeping bag is WAY easier to deal with than buttoning up a coat.

For Sleep Time:
8. Ikea Spoka Night Light: this little guy changes colours and is great for setting the mood at 7pm; plus, it has a rechargeable battery so it's mobile!
9. A baby sleeping bag, like a Grobag, will keep your baby warm and safe at night.
10. Summer Infant Day & Night Handheld Video Monitor: I couldn't survive without this. I LOVE watching my baby suck her thumb to sleep, and when she's wrestless I can check to see if she really needs me.

Oct 22, 2010

Painting: DESIRE

DESIRE was created Summer 2004, when I was in Muskoka figuring out what I wanted to do with my University degree. Shortly after I sketched this I got my first full time job offer in Market Research.

Oct 21, 2010

I wish I still had my Connecticut mailing address...

...because these Kate Spade sale items are soooo cute and sooo me.

If I lived in Stamford right now (and was working) I would order all of these.

Actually...I wonder if the Buffalo outlet store has these in stock...maybe it's not a lost cause after all...

Kate Spade Sale Items
Kate Spade Sale Items by hbjorn featuring pearl jewelry

and yes, I'm addicted to Polyvore :)

Oct 20, 2010

Milk is my Frienemy & Loving Affordable Denim

Oh Milk...how I love thee on my cereal, in my coffee, in a big glass next to spaghetti dinner...and then you stab me in the back.

I took a break from cows milk while I was sick last week. My kind neighbour gave me a carton of Almond milk to use as a substitute, since my Naturalpath told me to refrain from too much Soy while I'm BF. The Almond milk was a bit heavier than my usual 1%, but boy was it tasty. While on this little break I was way less bloated, Maddy had less gas, and my sinus cold cleared up faster than usual.  Then I had a carton of chocolate milk at IKEA yesterday and bam - back to feeling bloated.

Hmm...maybe I need to take a longer break.

While today I'm still in my bathrobe at 11:45am, here's what I'll be wearing on a day when I don't drink milk. Yes - I also picked up these jeans at GAP on the weekend and I am LOVING AFFORDABLE DENIM. There was a 40% off sale so they were <$50 - that's like the tax on a new pair of Citizens. And believe it or not, they are giving me the same high as a new pair of Citizens. It's like 2001 all over again - GAP is back!

Milk is my Frienemy & Loving Affordable Denim

Oct 19, 2010

Jeggings Outfit

Jeggings Outfit
Jeggings Outfit by hbjorn featuring a gold plated necklace

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't do it. Sorry if I let you down...but I could no longer deal with wearing stretchy pants every day of my life. I needed new jeans and I am so happy with my decision to try Jean Leggings, aka Jeggings. I went with Overdyed denim four-pocket legging from Banana Republic. I feel like a new woman. I've been on a high the last three days - the kind that only new denim can give you. I feel like I've lost 10 lbs (I haven't) just from wearing something that fits properly. See ya later size mini jeans hanging in the dust. 

To celebrate, I learned how to use Polyvore today to share my new "I had a baby 5 months ago but you can't tell" outfit. Yes, the bag is my diaper bag. I started carrying around a purse again but most of the time I grab my wallet and leave it in the trunk.

Now that I know how to use Polyvore stay tuned for more outfits - this website is super addicting!

Alderwood Wives Book Club Review: Secret Daughter: A Novel

Last night our book club met to discuss our second book: Secret Daughter: A Novel, by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. This one had an amazon rating of 4.5 stars. Our club unanimously, "LOVED IT", and gave it 5/5 stars.

Secret Daughter was a fast read due to it's emotional pull. As a mother it gave me the urge to start co-sleeping with my baby again. Even those without babies were brought to tears by this powerful story of mother love. The contrasting settings of Mumbai and San Fran were also great elements of the book, as was the multi-character perspective. Another plus are the shorter chapters: I could always finish a chapter (or 2 or 3) before lights out.

Everyone (except me) came prepared with great suggestions for our next book. We ended up with a lineup to take us through January! Here is our list if you'd like to follow along:
And for fun, some of us are going to read The Book Of Awesome, by Neil Pasricha. Apparently it's a pretty funny collection of short articles to read.

Happy Reading!

Oct 18, 2010

Getting Skintimate with Psoriasis

When I was recruited last week to participate in a webinar, "Get Skintimate with Psoriasis", I thought it was a bit of a strange request. But, at the same time I felt pretty cool since I was recruited as a Blogger. Someone thinks my blog is a means of social buzz...yay!!

Anyway, it turned out to be a really interesting webinar. I learned that Psoriasis is NOT contagious, that it's very common (1 million Canadians have it), and that it has strong emotional and social implications for those who have it. I want to state again that it's NOT CONTAGIOUS. This seems to be the biggest social myth. It's a skin disease, it's not something you catch from shaking someones hand or sitting next to them.

I also learned about this really cool website that you can use to find a dermatologist near you: livingwellwithpsoriasis.com. Coincidentally, last week I had my own visit to a Derm. I sooo wish I knew about this website before waiting 4 months to see a Dr. who looked like Mr. Burns who told me, "Just remember, stay pale & stay safe".  I ran home and doused myself in fake tan cream. It's not that I don't agree with keeping out of the sun (I wear 30+ SPF religiously all year round), I just don't want to look that pale...Anyway, had I known about this website 4 months ago I would have found my own Derm rather than waiting forever through my GP to get my apt. with Casper.

Fall 2010, 4 months
Okay, back to the webinar... It really got me thinking about what kind of mom I want to be and what values I want to teach my little one. In the webinar, this guy who has Psoriasis described going to the gym and being looked at funny because of his skin condition, then being asked by the manager to wear a sweater because he was bothering other gym members. That is so sad. When Madelyn grows up, I really want to teach her to be compassionate, patient and understanding. To be the type of gym manager that would tell all of those other members to sc#*w themselves and let the guy work out in his T-Shirt without a mention. I know it won't always be easy, but I really do want to focus on those values. Every person is important. Every person has meaning to our world. Every person is special.

I guess this is just another amazing part of being a mom - it really makes me want to be a better person.

Oct 13, 2010

Countdown to Christmas Abs Challenge

I heard on the radio yesterday that on average Canadians gain 1 lb from Thanksgiving Dinner that they don't lose until April. I know, it's only 1 lb, but I've also heard that we gain 5 lbs at Christmas that stay on forever. Well, I thought of a Challenge yesterday: 100 ab crushing sit-ups every day until Christmas. Sound fun?

If you're in, print out my budget schedule to keep track of your progress. I'm drawing a smiley face for every successful day (sad face = lazy day).

So what's my real motivation? I REALLY want to fit into my favorite jeans sans muffin top. I am sooo sick of the stretchys and very bored of my maternity jeans.

If you want some weekly motivation, email me and we can cheer each other on. Go Christmas Abs!

Oct 12, 2010

The Snoogle: a pregnant ladies bff

I can't believe I forgot to include the Snoogle in my Pregnancy Favorites post. It was a serious life saver for me through my second and third trimester. I would have chosen it as my bedside companion  It was a great addition to our bed.

So why did it pop into my head for today's blog post? Well, I have been sick. First, it was this draining fatigue feeling with a drippy nose. Then, it morphed into battle of the nose vs. boxes of tissues. Now, it's a nasty wet cough (ew) and scratchy throat / weird voice monster of a flu bug. Poor hubby has been banished to the guest room to get some solid zzz's. Despite the cough, that's left me alone in our big bed with all 4 fluffy pillows to myself, and, well, it reminds me of my days with the Snoogle.

The Snoogle isn't all fluff and glamor. The main drawback is that it's a serious barricade for your hubby. You need to do your cuddling before climbing into the sucker.

But I found the Pro's really worked for me:
- forces side sleep / prevents you from rolling onto your back;
- helps keep your spine aligned;
- supports your aching back;
- keeps hips nicely separated;
- means you get 2/3 of the bed dedicated to you & your growing belly (Ok, little me is a bed hog)

If you want another testimony...one of my coworkers was in the dog house with his pregnant wife, so I recommended the Snoogle instead of flowers. He picked one up that evening and got huge hubby points - she loved it!

On top of that, this product came highly recommended by Jess, who really knows what's going on!

Oct 11, 2010

Fall Wreath in 20 minutes

I was in Michael's last week and couldn't resist their end of season fall sale. I've always wanted to try making my own wreath and it turns out it's not that hard after all.

Supplies for Fall Wreath:
- Wood wreath base
- Silk leaves, attached to long stem
- Silk flowers in a range of colours and sizes (stick with 2-3 complimentary colours)
- Foam berries
- Scissors
- Glue gun

1. Pull individual leaves off long stem (they should detach easily, or you can use scissors)
2. Weave leaves around twigs in wreath base; tops of leaves should face upwards
3. Attach small flowers, leave on stems, weave around twigs
4. Remove large flowers from long stems, place flower heads on wreath
5. Attach berries, leave on stems, weave around twigs
6. Use glue gun to secure all leaves and flowers to base; use extra glue on large flowers
7. Voila: Ready for display!

Oct 10, 2010

Many Thanks on Thanksgiving

Being a Mom is such an incredible blessing. This year I am so thankful for my own little pumpkin, Madelyn Rose. She is such an angel baby and I love her so much. Before I got sick this week I took these cute pictures of Maddy with our fresh farm goods. So much personality at (almost) 5 months!

Oct 9, 2010

MIA...and sick :(

This week, inspired by many of the blogs I have been following, I started 224 projects around the house. The biggest includes over 100 apples and 100 pears. Madelyn and I drove all the way to a farm in Grimsby Ontario to indulge in some chemical pesticide free produce to make batches on top of batches of homemade baby food. That led to my hunt for the most efficient apple peeler/slicer/corer = old fashioned machine+electric Drill :). This caused a lot of mouth watering and drooling so we made our way to a Carters Oshkosh where they have the best drool bibs ever. Spotted: Michaels Craft Store. Added homemade fall wreath to the list, as well as new head flower bows for little M. All this on top of 4 playmate/visits and 2 rainy dog walks. End result: stuck in bed on this beautiful fall day and my house is a Mess!

herbalist mommy friends - what can i take for a stuffed nose no fever that's safe while bf? I just want to get back to my purée!!

Oct 3, 2010

Breastfeeding...Challenges & Payoffs

VERONICA HENRI, TorontoSun.com, Oct. 5/10 pg. 3

I have faced many challenges with breastfeeding my baby but no matter what happens the payoffs always beat out the challenges.

Yesterday, we took part in the 6th annual Breastfeeding Challenge, at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts in Toronto. My friend Mel & I, with our babes Hunter & Madelyn, walked the Catwalk featuring styles from Evymama boutique in Bloor West Village. Following the fashion show, we joined hundreds of other moms in an International feed at 11am. Our loving hubbies were there to cheer us on. The whole event was pretty cool.

In talking to other moms at the event, it made me feel good to know a lot of the challenges I've faced are normal. At the beginning we also had some latch issues and had to really work at finding the best position (cross-cradle hold). From weeks 5 to 20 (last week) I have had numerous blocked ducts. That's when a bit of hard milk gets clogged and a whole bunch of new milk starts gathering up behind it. It's VERY painful. At one point, the blocks led to Mastitis (like a horrible flu), at another point Candidas (nipple infection). And, in the last two weeks I started having a supply problem, which was like getting kicked when you're already down. Luckily I have an incredible support team that's helped me through it all.

So this morning when my Aunt told me our picture was in the Toronto Sun (above, printed on pg. 3) it put a huge smile across my face. Not that there haven't been better payoffs along the way - because nothing beats the smile that lights up on Madelyn's face when she's had a full feeding! It was just a nice treat to think maybe my breastfeeding will inspire another mom to do it for her baby.

Maddy and I weren't the only ones to make the news. Mark, Mel & Derek were also featured in an online gallery photo. The above photo was taken during the 11am group feed.

Mel & I should have also been in the catwalk picture, right, but we were sadly edited out of the shot :(

In closing, I just want to say thanks to everyone who has helped me so far with bf: Mark, my moms & grandma, Jean, all of my mommy friends, and girlfriends without babies who are great listeners. It is the best gift I could be giving my daughter and it's so great to have your encouragement. THANK YOU.

Oct 1, 2010

Alert: Breastfeeding Challenge 11am October 2nd

If you're a breastfeeding mama: join thousands of moms across Canada and latch on at 11am tomorrow, Saturday Oct. 2nd, for Breastfeeding Awareness Week!

Little M and I will be walking the cat walk for the Evymama fashion show at the Toronto event - how fun is that? Gooooo Breastfeeding! 

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