Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Believe in Sleep Training

Perhaps a controversial post title, but its true.  Despite the wondrousness of snuggles and cuddles, I don't believe that we are doing our children any favours if we don't teach them the skills to fall asleep on their own and begin to soothe themselves when they wake.  That said, I also don't believe in letting my children scream indefintely in an attempt to teach them said skills.

I want them to feel supported, loved and cared for, I want them to fall asleep knowing that I am there if they need me.  It may sound like a contradiction, but sleep training means many different things to many different people and for us, all of this is achievable.  I use the Baby Whisperer's pick up/put down (pu/pd) method as a general guideline.  Pu/pd doesn't mandate crying it out, in fact you are instructed to go to your child if they start to cry.  The trick is not to revert to soothing your child back to sleep, but rather allow them to do that for themselves, once they settle.

I recognize there are many methods of sleep training, and many people both for and against it; regardless, here are some tips and tricks that work for us.  It's been just over a week and already the baby boy has started falling asleep without me in the room, at least most of the time.
Establish a strong 'sleepytime' routine.  For us that includes a diaper change, a swaddle, a book, a quick snuggle and lullaby then upstairs and into the crib.  Be consistent with your words and signs (if you are using them) so your baby can begin to recognize what is happening.  I always tell my boys when we are getting ready for 'sleepytime' and tell them 'night night its sleepytime' whenever I leave their room.

When you put the babe into the crib, there is no need to just drop them and get out of dodge.  Provide a little comfort, let him feel your presence.  Rhythmically pat his belly (or back) while making a soft shushing sound, if the baby seems unsettled, I often tell him 'its ok, its just sleepytime' and sometimes I even sing a lullaby while I pat his back.  The first few days the baby boy fell asleep while I patted him, and that's ok.  Don't worry, as you settle into the routine you can cut the shush patting shorter and shorter, in fact you likely won't even need it after a while. 

Pick him up
Quite simply, if your baby is crying and needs you, go to him.  Pick him up.  Try not to rock, pat, sing or otherwise soothe your child. This is hard and I sometimes break this rule but its worth trying to do.

Put him down
As soon as he settles, put him back into his crib and use your key words: ours are 'night night, sleepytime'.   Give more shush pats as needed.  If the baby starts to scream on the way back to the crib, lay him all the way down before you pick him up again so that you aren't rewarding the crying.

Grumbles vs cries
Know the difference between a grumble and a cry, they are very different things.  If your child is making noises, lightly crying or whining he may be either playing or trying to settle and soothe himself.  Don't go into the room, he's ok.  If however he srarts wailing and pulling on your heartstrings, don't hesitate, go to him.

Leave the room
If your baby seems to be settling with the shush pats, don't linger, leave the room.  You may not get very far before he calls you back the first few times, but he'll get used to it.  Use comforting and consistent words when you leave and don't be afraid to use a mobile or white noise if your baby likes it.  The baby boy likes the heartbeat sound and if he doesn't seem to be acting sleepy, but I know he is, I'll turn on the mobile when I leave.  I haven't had to go back in the last 4-5 times I left the baby boy watching the mobile, what a good boy.

Don't stop
Finally, the most important thing, once you start sleep training, don't stop.  Don't give in.  Don't revert back.  Even though it may seem easier in the moment, every time you revert back to your old sleep methods the babe is winning a little battle.  At my house, I try and keep the cards stacked in my favour, I want to win those battles and you should too.

For us, sleep training works, not only does it give my boys essential skills, its gives Mom and Dad a little bit of a break.  I did sleep training with the boy at 5 months, we went from 45 minutes of swaddling, rocking and cuddling to sleeping on his own within a span of just over two weeks.  The baby's sleep routine was much shorter than the boys, so I didn't officially begin sleep training until he was almost 6 months old.  After just over a week, things are going smoothly, we are falling into a good sleepytime routine and the baby's starting to fall asleep on his own.

How do you feel about sleep training?  Do you belive in it?  Has it worked for your family?  What are your tricks to make it work? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sewing For Boys | Review & Giveaway

You may have noticed that I've been writing and tweeting about sewing with increasing frequency these days.  Newsflash, I forgot I loved it.  I love creating something unique from simple materials just as much as I love creating something delicious from simple ingredients.  It's just a part of who I am.

Before the baby was born I found myself making cute little dresses, in case my little green baby was a girl, then after he was born I only made dresses for presents and eventually I found a great pattern to make an uber cute hoody for the boy.  Unfortunately, since then I've had trouble finding boy patterns that are cute enough to be worth the effort to sew.

Granted its easy enough to make piles of little boy pants, but I need to be inspired or I might as well hem the pile of pants my husband has sitting on his dresser.  I want something with excitement and cuteness if I'm going to spend my spare moments sewing.

Sewing For Boys by Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage of Patterns by Figgy provide '24 Projects to Create a Handmade Wardrobe', just for little boys.  It takes into account both the rough and tumble and the sweet and adorable sides of our little men.
sewing4boys Mr. Two Face Pants Easy Linen Shirt Just Like Dad Robe
The book is gorgeous; hard cover with a spiral binding and an envelope to safely store the precious patterns.  The photography captures the whimsical nature of little boys and definitely inspires.  I made a pair of the 'mr.two face pants' and although I was skeptical of the two toned nature of them, it turns out that once completed, I just love them.  The 6-12 month size fit  my chubby little man perfectly, even over his bulky cloth diapers.  The only fabric I had on hand was thin broadcloth so I lined the pants with some spare flannel and used french seams to keep things clean and they turned out beautifully, in fact I have another pair cut out in my sewing box.

I also have some fabric cut out to make the 'easy linen shirt' for the boy, not only does it look adorable, I've reviewed the instructions in detail and its a very straightforward pattern.  In fact, overall the instructions in Sewing For Boys manage to provide enough information to inspire confidence without overwhelming the reader with unnecessary information.

Finally, I'm planning to make the 'Just-like-dad flannel robe' for the boy; although I'm not a huge fan of licensed fabrics, I got some Buzz Lightyear flannel on sale for $3.98 a metre that will be absolutley perfect, he's going to love it.

There are so many other great patterns in 'Sewing For Boys', these are only the first few that I plan to make throughout my boys' childhood.  Since the patterns range from newborn through 7 years old, I plan on getting plenty of use out of this book.  If you have little boys to sew for, regardless whether they are sons, nephews, grandchildren or otherwise, trust me, you WANT this book.  We are giving away a copy of 'Sewing for Boys' to one lucky Momma Stuff Blog, to enter, check out the Rafflecopter after the jump.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quinoa for Baby | Starting Solids v2

I love Quinoa, granted I don't just eat it plain by the bucketful, but its so hearty mixed into salads and soups, adds extra nutrition, protein and fibre to baked goods and is amazing for breakfast as a hot cereal.  When the boy moved onto textured foods, quinoa was one of his favourites; if he wasn't feeling well he would almost always eat a bowl of quinoa and applesauce, perhaps with a little bit of chicken mixed in.

As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong with that; quinoa is naturally gluten-free and has 2.5 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein in a half a cup.  This superfood also contains iron, calcium and magnesium, it truly is both nutritious and delicious for adults and children alike..

After a bit of research, I decided that this time around I would introduce the baby boy to Quinoa much earlier in the game.  As I mentioned previously, I decided to use the Quinoa 365 method of cooking quinoa for baby since I've loved nearly everything I've made out of the cookbook.

Quinoa 365 provides easy instructions for using quinoa seeds, flakes or flour to make baby food, but I'm using the seeds as they are the least processed and therefore the most nutritious for baby.  If you are interested in the other methods, send me an email.

Quinoa baby food is super easy to make and I was impressed with the smooth texture after pureeing.  It freezes beautifully, but is a little denser than some of the fruit/vegetable purees and thus takes a little bit longer to defrost and warm up.  Since the flavour of quinoa is relatively strong, I recommend mixing it with another food that your little one is already accustomed to.  My baby boy has been happily eating his quinoa for breakfast with pureed pears and for dinner with yams and chicken.

Quinoa Baby Food

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1-1/4 cup water
  • additional water for blending
  • Place quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes; do not remove the lid.
  • Turn off heat, but leave covered pot on the burner for an additional 25 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Blend with additional water to create a smooth texture.
  • Feed to your baby or freeze for future feedings.
If you haven't already, check out: Starting Solids v1

Friday, October 21, 2011

Press Pause for Halloween

When I think about Halloween I instinctually think of costumes and candy; I used to wear costumes and get candy and now its more about the kids costumes and giving out candy. For some reason I never seem to think about Halloween at the next level, I never think of it as a special day full of tradition and worthy of effort, though it truly is.

Growing up I was the oldest of three; we always took pillowcases trick-or-treating, they were easy to carry and they could hold tons of candy.  My brother would always be ready to go home first, usually after only a couple blocks, satisfied that he had enough candy to keep him happy.  My little sister on the other hand could trick-or-treat forever, however she could also convince my Dad to carry her once she got tired, which always seemed unfair. When we arrived back home the three of us would sit on the floor in the rec room, dump out our bags and sort our loot, trying to trade away our least favourites to get the best possible candy stash.

And since I've become an adult, got married and had kids my Halloween traditions have, and continue to, evolve.

This realization came about after Hallmark sent me some product; I immediately started to imagine how we would use them. Instinctively I thought that my mom or mother-in-law would love the hokey pokey skeleton, but after watching the boy press the 'button' then 'shake his head' along with it, over and over, I knew that we would be keeping him at our house.
I was also super intrigued by the Hocus Pocus Treat Presenter, which can be used as part of a Halloween display or instead of a bowl to hold candy.  Either way, its an innovative and memorable product for Halloween, I think my mother-in-law is going to love it.
Hallmark also sent me some Halloween greeting cards, including some with removable buttons or bracelets; I'm going to send them to the kids in my family and friend circles.  I remember how exciting it was to get mail as a child and these cards are so fun, I can hardly wait to hear what they all think of them.

Somewhere along the line Halloween has become an important holiday to me, and I think that's exactly what Hallmark is trying to remind us of with their Press Pause panel and 'Life is a Special Occasion' campaign.  That any day, any moment, can be memorable and special if we simply take the time to stop and make it so.

I was provided with product by Hallmark as part of the Press Pause Panel for the purposes of this review, however all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Simply Bliss

After three days of Blissdom Canada excitement, I am eager to take my blogging to the next level, I want my blog to evolve and grow just as I have this past weekend in Toronto.  The number one take-home message I gleaned from Blissdom Canada is simply stay true to yourself; and this applies regardless whether talking about the posts you choose to write, the brands you choose to work with or the words you use to communicate.

bliss-22My first task is finding a more effective system of turning the random thoughts and ideas rolling around in my mind into blog posts.  In a day I have tons of fleeting ideas triggered by anything from people I meet, phrases I hear or things I see.  Many would make great posts, but in my haste to create thoughtful, well-edited and usually photographed posts, many of these potential ideas fall to the wayside.

That's something I'll be working on, but for now I just want to revel in Blissdom.  I already wish I had taken more photos, but I was just too busy soaking it all in or taking care of the baby.

I absolutely loved 'Nostalgia Lane' (aka the CBC Radio Museum), where I had a chance to sit in Mr. Dressup's tree, touch the stool and easel that Mr. Dressup actually sat on and look at THE tickle trunk up close and personal.
bliss-9 bliss-12
  bliss-10 bliss-20 bliss-21 bliss-8
bliss-4 bliss-5
The baby boy was pretty amazing; he attended just a few sessions since I was fortunate enough to have my sister along to help with the babysitting.  The little guy just loved the Fisher Price Jumperoo (its like an exersaucer and jolly jumper in one) and the girls at Mom Central Canada and the Fisher Price suite were great about letting him visit and play.

All of the sessions and the panelists were fabulous, here are some quotes I tweeted during Blissdom Canada. Seriously, brain food for bloggers.
  • 'If you want to improve, be content to be though foolish and stupid' --Epictetus, who was not at all stupid. @herbadmother
  • Be confident in who you are and what you do @alisonipr
  • The 'employer' has to want you as much as you want them... @kathybuckworth
  • There is power in saying no @barbarajones
  • Your blog is your home and you make the rules @marrtinwaxman
  • 'I live in the country of motherhood right now'
  • Take the time to invest in you...and have an engaged community...and you can make magic happen @jeffpulver
  • write about something you really care about and when you hit publish be prepared to answer for it @nummiesbras  
  • If you let people dictate to you who you are, you will very quickly lose yourself.  
Except for the opening and closing parties I didn't manage to attend any of the evening activities; in truth I felt like it was more important to spend time with the baby boy.  Fortunately that left me with a little bit of a chance to explore Toronto, including a meal at the Kensington Cornerstone Restaurant'; a completely gluten-free dining experience where I had deep fried goodness in the form of kalamari and chicken strips.

Although it meant that the conference had come to an end, the much anticipated Costume and Karaoke party was tons of fun and I absolutely loved my costume.  I admit that I was nervous about going down to the party, but once I got there it was impossible not to smile seeing all of the innovative costumes, including fellow 80's cartoon, Rainbow Brite.
bliss-13-1 bliss BlissDom
And of course there was the surprise visit by Jordan Knight formerly of the New Kids on the Block. It wasn't until the girls convinced him to Karaoke 'Step by Step' that I remembered how much I LOVED New Kids back in the day.
bliss-15bliss-14 bliss-16
All in all, Blissdom was amazing (and a little exhausting), I just hope that this will be the first of many blogging conferences in my lifetime.

Friday, October 14, 2011

5 things

Although I'm exhausted, I feel like if I close my eyes, somehow, some of the energy and knowledge that I've found myself infused with today might just drain out of me, never to be found again.  Yet I know that when tomorrow morning arrives, I'll be in for yet another fabulous day at Blissdom Canada.

I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and learn from so many amazing people;  Blissdom Canada truly brings together an eclectic mix of people each with something completely unique to bring to the table.  But Blissdom Canada isn't only about learning from others, its also about learning more about ourselves and our blogs.

Blissdom Canada kicked off with an amazing keynote by @herbadmother; let me tell you had she had been my teacher I would have done much better in my philosophy classes.  In her introduction, Catherine both introduced herself and asked all of us to take a moment to make some simple lists, which upon further thought aren't actually all that simple.

5 things you don't know about me
Littering makes my blood boil
I dislike riding bikes
I think soccer is stupid
I own all 5 seasons of Alias on DVD
I used to race go-karts  

5 things I know stuff about
Living and eating gluten free
Plants, biology and ecology
Living with an ADD family member

5 things which I do not know very much at all
Website coding
Making pastry

5 things that I believe 
That lying is the ultimate disrespect
That the golden rule (treat other as you want to be treated) is a way of life
That its important to be comfortable spending time alone
That you must allow people to change
That dreams are achievable

Now that I've told you mine, any chance you want to share 5 things with me?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Preparing for Bliss

I am the Light of my soul, I am beautiful, I am bountiful, I am bliss, I am, I am.

I absolutely love this little mantra; I learned it at a prenatal yoga class and have had the little slip of paper the teacher gave us on my dresser for months.  A little reminder of the wondrousness of motherhood, of pregnancy and the unique abilities that we as women possess.

These days however, the five simple letters, B-L-I-S-S have taken on a whole new meaning.  The baby boy, my sister and I will be leaving the house in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow to catch a flight to Toronto for my first blogging conference, Blissdom Canada and I can't wait.

My sister is on baby-duty (for the most part) so she picked out clothes for the wee one and even packed them in the suitcase, entertainment such as the jolly jumper, blankies and toys, however still need to be rounded up and jammed into the suitcase.

As for my clothes, well I'm still at a loss for what exactly I'm going to wear.  Between my post-baby figure and my closet purge, I don't have much in the way of clothes.  In truth I'm most concerned about figuring out what to wear to the CBC Kickoff Party on Thursday night.

I spent a considerable amount of time working on a costume for the costume and karaoke party and am actually eager to wear my costume.  This may not seem like a big deal, but costumes aren't my deal.  I'm the type of girl who wears only enough costume to avoid being dressed up by resident tickle trunks, but this time around I decided that perhaps if I put some effort into the costume, I might actually enjoy wearing it.
7111 Baby Ddrops ACBlog
Hopefully my fervent sewing efforts will all be worthwhile.  I'm keeping my costume a secret for now, but there WILL be pictures, so stay tuned to see me in all my costume glory.

Finally, I am so thankful to everyone who voted for me to win my ticket to Blissdom Canada and the folks at Baby Ddrops who sponsored my ticket.  If you have a moment, check out my review of Ddrops for Adults, Children and Babies; ddrops truly are a great product.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thankful for Friends

Better late than never...

Today, I'm thankful for friends; the people who make my life more livable, more manageable, more enjoyable.  The friends I miss when they're not around, but know that with them, time doesn't matter.

I had two such visits today and they both came to me: I'm both spoiled and blessed.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching...yesterday I was thankful for the support of the hubs' family.

Mi-Del Gluten-Free Cookies | Review and Giveaway

When you're gluten-free grabbing a snack, or worse a treat, on the go can be close to impossble.  Frustration and hunger often ensue, though as you become more comfortable with the lifestyle, snack awareness increases.  I rarely go out without something to eat stashed in my bag, car or stroller and even if I do, I have the knowledge and experience to  know which grab and go treats I'm able to eat.
One snack I love to have on hand are Mi-Del cookies, they are small, crunchy and delicious little cookies that satisfy a sweet craving in a second.  They have great texture and flavour and I love their small size as it allows me to grab a handful without too much guilt.  Mi-del cookies are very versatile and can be used to make cookie crumb pie crusts, eaten with a dollop of ice cream sandwiched between two cookies or simply dunked in (rice) milk.

Mi-Del cookies come in nine different flavours including traditional flavours such as chocolate chip, arrowrort and ginger snaps as well as more exciting flavours such as chocolate caramel, pecan and s'mores.  Mi-Del cookies are free of gluten (and routinely tested using the Elisa Method) but depending on the flavour may contain eggs, soy and dairy so make sure you read the label and ensure they are safe for your families allergies.

Mi-Del Cookies are available at supermarkets across the United States and at select locations in Canada and the most amazing part is that they retail for only about $4 a bag.

The folks at Mi-Del provided me with some cookies for the purposes of this review and we're also giving away a free bag of cookies to THREE lucky winners, to enter check out the Rafflecopter after the jump.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thankful for Family

Today, I am thankful for my husband's family, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law. They have offered to watch the boy once a week and today is the first day.  A day I can spend devoted entirely to my little baby boy, a day I can give him my full attention, a day all about him.  The boy had me to himself for my entire year of maternity leave and the baby boy has had only a few short days one on one with momma.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and a friend is posting a daily 'thankful' on her facebook; I'm hoping to follow her lead.

This break from my reality as a momma of two couldn't come at a better time; I'm exhausted and feeling like I'm starting to unravel a bit at the edges.  I've been working like crazy on my Blissdom Canada costume (which is now complete), my mom, who is always available to help me out on a rough day, is on a well deserved two week vacation, the baby boy is teething and we just discovered the boy has asthma.

This discovery unfortunately came when I was home alone with my boys, the hubs went on a fishing trip last weekend and the boy caught a cold, neither child slept through the nights and on Saturday night I was overwhelmed by crying babies that both needed my attention at the same time.  Around the same time the boy started physically pushing air out with each breath and his little stomach was jumping dramatically.  By six thirty in the morning, I had called my mother-in-law to watch the baby and I whisked him off to the hospital.  More thanks to my mother-in-law are clearly in order here.

Although they can't technically diagnose him with Asthma until he can complete a breath test, the symptoms, the response to ventalin, the family history and the fact that he has both a nut allergy and eczema all point to a diagnosis of Asthma.

My doctor described the relationship of eczema, asthma and nut allergies as a trilogy and the hospital doctor explained it had to do with the physiology, the way the body responds to irritants.  Either way, I'm sad for the boy that we have to add yet another ailment to his list, but at the same time I know that its both relativley minor and completely manageable.

Anyone else have a child afflicted by this 'trilogy'?