The Great Origami Mobile (that I’ll never make)

Complex Origami Mobile

I started this quest with an interest in making an origami mobile for my baby’s room, but … that’s just not gonna happen. So for you artsy craftsy types…. here’s some inspiration:

This Origami mobile is beautiful. I’d say it’s THE DON of origami mobiles, and trust me… I’ve googled long and hard.

butterfly mobile, origami mobile, best, how to make a mobile, mobile, nursery, origami, pinterest

The one pictured above is a mix of shapes and animals, from fish to cranes to pointy balls, and it was the first to inspire me.

Another nice one is the butterfly punchout one.

Paper Butterfly Mobile
Paper Butterfly Mobile

More pictures and instructions available on the original blog it’s from here.

The butterfly punchout is available at giant art stores (Michael’s in Canada) or on Amazon here. I found the size a bit smaller than I would have liked (so check it to make sure it suits you). You can also get the non-monarch butterfly which has no holes and would look more like this (below):

Butterfly Mobile

Full tutorial for this one is available here (by its creator Carina Gardner)

Good luck! Oh, and if all else fails I’m pretty sure Pottery Barn has one. (+ More can be found on this board)

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5 reasons to get away with your significant other and nobody else.

Dinner for two on the beach

Dinner for two on the beach

It has been exactly 18 hours and 7 minutes since my husband and I basically washed up on the shore of Negril, Jamaica. We had been frolicking for 6 days, baby-free, on vacation with a capital V, and it was absolutely wonderful. So I’m writing a quick post to encourage you to take a break. A short one, a long one – whatever you can do. You know you want it. You know you deserve it.

Here’s 5 reasons to:

1. Because your kid/s will be FINE. Not only was our daughter not mad at us, she seems to love us even more when we got back (as if that were possible?!).

2. Because it’s so good to know that underneath this whole mommy and daddy thing are best friends, lovers, artists…. free spirits. It literally took us 24 hours to go from frazzled and burned out to feeling like whole people again.

3. Because 5 days (or 3, or 1) vacation is actually the equivalent of a year in toddler-free time. (Think: 1 hour pedicure? Feels like a day right?)

4. Because you deserve to have some FUN. (Not the kind of ‘fun’ you talk yourself into before a visit to Ping’s farm)

5. Because there’s nothing kids hate worse than loser parents that gave up their whole lives to dote on them. Right?

Just sayin’.

Sleep Training! It works!

It was a dark and stormy night.

No. No it wasn’t.

But it might as well have been. Feeling of dread… check. Ungodly howling… check.

We knew that the sleep thing was not going well when our 5 m.o. daughter started reverting to a 2-hour waking cycle. It was driving me pretty nuts andI knew  something had to be done. We had done a bit of sleep training before, with pick up put down and what not (The baby Whisperer method), but this time my mom-radar was telling me it was time to do the previously unthinkable… and let her cry.*

Until then, we had relied on our Pilates ball to put her to sleep. Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce…. Zzzzzz. Since birth, this was her sleeping pill. But I’d read all about the dangers of sleep props and was having terrible fantasies of her at 5 years old needing the royal treatment every time she went down for a nap.

So here’s what we did:

Oh wait, first, here’s a picture of her not sleeping:

Sleep Training. Hard, but useful!
Sleep Training. Hard, but useful!

We kicked the softie/good cop out of the house. 
My husband, every time our daughter cries, says “She’s hungry!” and pleads for food on her behalf. It kills me. He doesn’t like the sound of her crying (not that I do) and probably doesn’t have as much of an instinctual knowing about when she’s hungry or not. So he went out for the night (to a Public Enemy concert, BTW…) and then the real fun began.

I trusted my instincts, not the clock, not the books.


She’s a smart kid. After a bath, story, night cap, and cuddle, I did that crazy thing – put her down in her crib awake – said goodnight, and left the room.

*WAIL…

I had tried the 5 minutes here and there before, but it hadn’t really worked that well. So this time, I was going to let it go longer.

As long as she sounded frustrated but not genuinely upset, I let her keep crying in her crib. She went about twenty minutes and then I went in and let her hear my voice. I put my hand on her back and told her I loved her and she was going to fall asleep soon, and it would all be okay. In another twenty minutes or so she fell asleep. And that .. .changed …. everything.

It was like she figured out that it was possible for her to put herself to sleep, and from then on she got better and better at it.

I would say we did Baby Led Sleeping
Apparently consistency is key, but it wasn’t the route for us, and what we did worked. Babies have good days and bad days… just like us… they miss naps, they have sore gums, tummy aches… lots of stuff. Whenever our daughter seemed more upset than mad and frustrated, we would give her lots of hugs and help to fall asleep. What the sleep training did was teach her that she CAN do it on her own, and that bouncing is not mandatory for sleeping.

*As the subject of so much controversy, the “CIO” method has many variations, and I just want to state for the record that it should be up to the parents, not the professionals, to decide what their baby is ready for, and furthermore – when to be stringent and when to say fu*k the plan and go give their kid a hug. It’s an intuitive thing, like so many aspects of parenting. What we did was try to stick to that balance of smushy-squishy-baby-love and Let-me-help-you-learn-something-new-love.

I’m not sure how I knew that she was ready, but something about her behaviour was different, and that’s what was the indicator. I think it was when she started to be aware enough that her behaviour seemed more like “I don’t wanna go to sleep!!” and less like “Wahhhh what the hell is happening no one’s holding meeeeee!”

Within a month, we had kicked the ball habit, and Raquel was going 6 – 8 hour stretches*

(Woo hoo!)

*Update – AGE 1: Aside from teething issues, she’s doing 12 hours (!!!) from 7 – 7, sometimes with one moan and groan period, where usually Daddy will go in and give her a sip of water, and she goes right back down.

She Sleeps
She Sleeps

After the necessities — the lesser known must-haves of the nursery

This one’s dedicated to our friends Adrian and Shraddha who are expecting their first baby in a few weeks.

1. The quick ‘maybe she has a tummy ache’ fix 

Gripe Water

This stuff was a godsend. Raquel didn’t have colic but she did have a bit of tummy trouble sometimes… now and then she would have trouble keeping things down… who knows what’s actually happening in those little baby bodies. But Gripe Water is a cure all. We’d give her a drop of gripe water and it seemed to calm her tummy really well. Also, it’s sweet so… there was no argument from her. Works great for the hiccups too.

Shoppers Drug Mart sells it (in Canada). We used Life Brand. I don’t think it matters.

TIP: It comes in a useless bottle that is hard to maneuver one-handed in the dark, so we switched it to a bottle with a dropper. Easier to control the amount and also to get it in the right place (i.e. baby’s mouth, not dribbling down chin)

2. The ‘She needs something educational to do in her crib!’ fix aka. It will entertain the baby for 20 minutes? Yes please. 

Tiny Love Sweet Island Dreams Mobile

I did a lot of research on this. Mobiles can be a lot of things (stimulating, calming, educational) and this one seemed to have it all. The reviews were fantastic, also. We found great success with it, just like the reviews said. From birth onward, it’s entertainment for them for 20 minutes. (And ohhh the cute faces she made while watching it!)

Tiny Love Sweet Island Dreams

TIP: If you don’t choose this particular one, make sure you do get one that moves on its own. ‘Cause you don’t have the time to wind up that sh*t.

3. The ‘she won’t sleep unless she’s bouncing’ fix 

A Pilates ball

pilates ball

Apparently boys like to swing and girls like to bounce. Our pilates ball was a lifesaver – it calmed her instantly just to be held and bounced. Definitely beats some of the other things I’ve heard parents doing to get their kids to sleep, like driving around the block at 2 am.

4. The ‘all these other fancy swaddles sort of suck’ fix

Aden and Anais swaddles

Swaddling is back in style (apparently it was out of fashion for a while). As you’ll find in books like Happiest Baby on the Block, a good swaddle means a baby that doesn’t whack herself in the face mid-sleep and wake her and you up. We only used them until she was about 8 weeks old, but for the first little while, it worked like a charm.

Aden and Anais Swaddle
Aden and Anais Swaddle

Also, check out all the different types of swaddling on YouTube

5. The ‘I know wipe warmers are indulgent and ridiculous but she cries when the cold wipes touch her bum!’ fix 

Prince Lionheart Warmer

Love this brand. They also make a caddy and wash clothes that are the best out there.

6. The ‘We need the best, most natural bum cream available to man’ 

substance nappy rash ointment

Substance Nappy Rash Ointment, $17.00 for diaper rash, cradle cap, winter dryness, chapping…. 
One thing about new babies… their skin goes through all sorts of freaky weird things.
This ointment is a cure all. I swear by it. You can put it anywhere on a baby, or on yourself. It’s soothing, moisturizing, un-fragranced, and the ingredients are all pronounceable. In Toronto I know Ella + Elliott sells it, Mini Mioche, and BBBuggy. I’m seriously considering using it as a face cream.
7. The ‘how did I ever live without this’ nursing pillow 
Boppy! The thought of nursing without this makes me shudder. How did women function before these?
boppy

The B.S. “low amnio” diagnosis is getting exposed, finally.

Ladies, especially mammas to be… be aware that “low amniotic fluid” is being over-diagnosed at the end of pregnancy as a reason to induce. Inform yourself : )

Read this article on the low amniotic fluid diagnosis (Oligohydramnios). Please read the comments too (many are women who regret not knowing this information pre-labor).

And here’s the story of how this diagnosis affected me personally.

It’s scary stuff. I’m not in any way saying to go against doctors orders (although we did) because every situation is different. But I am definitely saying to know in advance what you might be facing in your last days of pregnancy.

XO.

Another article: http://www.scienceandsensibility.org/?p=5294

This? Priceless.

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Sometimes I feel that I’ve missed out by staying in Toronto my whole life. Born and raised here….same streets, same neighborhoods …. family obligations galore….

Then a photo like this comes along (my daughter snoozing alongside her great grandfather after a Hanukkah party) and I have no regrets.

Gives new meaning to heart warming. More like heart fireplacing.

Love is a powerful drug : )

Attachment parenting? Yeah, um no..

(*NOTE: This was last year… I’m now well past this! ALSO please read the comments at bottom because a reader has pointed out that attachment parenting is generally misrepresented in the media and because of this, has been generally misunderstood. Her comments and recommended reading are interesting.) 

I’m ‘this close’ to weaning and my boobies can hardly wait.

Not that attachment parenting is only about nursing your kids till they’re nine, but the whole idea of oneness and dependance that comes with attachment parenting is really not my thing. And it’s not my kid’s either. She basically refused to even sleep in our room from 3 mos old. She liked her crib. She slept well on that flat, open surface (better than in the bassinet). The only time she’s slept in our bed was when she was sick. As soon as she felt better, it was back to her own room – by request.

She was also interested in foods from about 6 months, and took well to early meals of rice cereal and avocado, quickly graduating to brown rice and peas. I don’t think attachment parenting was ever on the table as an option for us.

When Raquel was 9 months, I went back to work. She spent her days with her grandmother (my mom) and an incredible nanny who we absolutely adore (The total cost of this was way cheaper than daycare BTW)

Going back to work made me feel good, not guilty. I felt like my old self again, almost. Give or take some new mommy qualities like bumping into walls (and glass doors.) and searching endlessly for “…that word…” in the empty parking lot that used to be my memory bank.

But what I wanted to note was that even though I’m not doing attachment parenting there have been some influences on my parenting style, and I think of them often in the decisions I make and the approach we take with Raquel.

We don’t hear much about the philosophies or influences of your average supermoms. As in, all the moms I’m surrounded by. So here’s two things that I think influenced my [awesome, obviously] parenting ‘style’ and I’d love to hear about yours.

INFLUENCE  1:
That mongolian baby from the BABIES doc.

If you haven’t seen the documentary, you should. It’s fascinating. Especially if you have or want babies or have young kids. So there’s this one baby in it who seems to be pretty much fending for himself in some fairly rough terrain in Mongolia. But what I liked about this baby was that he was so independent and curious because he wasn’t handed everything he wanted. He wasn’t attended to constantly. He was free to explore, and move around, and TRY to do things. By the end of the doc, this baby actually seems the most well adjusted and happy. I think of that little guy a lot. I’m not sure why. But I guess it has something to do with trying to encourage Raquel’s independence and curiosity. And letting her try, try, try…It’s hard. We totally want to cater to her every need. But knowing that that’s maybe not the best thing for her helps me quell my urge to assist constantly.

There’s  a really interesting, enlightening Globe & Mail piece about the lessons of the BABIES documentary here.

INFLUENCE 2:
The book Bringing up Bebe a.k.a the ‘french style’ of parenting. 

Maybe I’m just enough of a snob myself that Frenchiness appeals to me. But the takeaway is this: teach babies that they are not the centre of the universe and give them grown up food. Yes, and yes. I practice encouraging Raquel  to wait patiently (ok, only sometimes) until the grownups finish what they’re doing. To knock on doors (or at least understand closed ones) And I really try to practice not looking at her every second of every minute of every day. This may sound easy… it’s not. I stare at her constantly, and that’s probably not the greatest thing for her… So I like the french idea that babies will not feel abandoned if you be an adult, have a life, have conversations with other grown ups and set expectations (like waiting) for them to meet. At the very least, it’s an aspiration. Also, they’re babies eat leak soup. And garlic. And baguettes. And other grown up stuff. It’s a good read, if you haven’t read it my review and summary are here.

5 pretty awesome things I did on mat leave

Aside from baby-gazing and the other 99 things that our daughter kept me busy with ove the past nine months, I checked some pretty good accomplishments off my own bucket list. As you will see from this list of 5 very important things.

(NOTE: This list may only appear even mildly impressive to people with babies)

1. Finally watched Showgirls
A movie in which Jessie Spano dances the same way as she did on Saved By the Bell! Except with even more flailing, and naked, and with tranny make up on!  So awkward it hurts. And yet… I watched on…

2. Knit half a scarf
Once, I was artsy crafty. I made throw pillows, did cut and paste, made montages and decoupages and even painted. Like, on canvas. Yeah those days are behind me, as confirmed by my beautiful, perfect, half-knit scarf.

3. Learned how to braise and deglaze
But I do cook! I cook often and well, and during mat leave I discovered soooo many wonderful things to do in the kitchen. It all started when we traded in (read: Craigslisted) our All Clad for Le Creuset. This decision changed… everything. In such a good way. That and watching Chopped for the last few years gave me the courage to deglaze. I’m not going to go into detail here, but damn, I can make a retardedly good gravy now. 

4. Reactivated my library card  
I stopped using the library many years ago, mainly because I had racked up so many late fees that they wouldn’t let me use my card. Kind of a shame – and yes, I should have paid up. But I guess my account was dormant long enough that they just forgot about me. Voila! Brand new patron with a fresh start! (This time around, I promise to put my due dates in my calendar.) 

5. Sorta kinda finished my novel. And sorta kinda got a literary agent. 
This one is serious… and I’m actually really proud of myself. Before Raquel was born I met with an agent, hoping that over coffee I could get him to bite on the novel that had been in my bottom drawer for quite some time. I went because I wanted my daughter to know that I’m a writer – an author – and that I didn’t give up on my dream. I didn’t think my novel was the greatest thing ever, but I knew that it had potential and that I couldn’t let it go. Lo and behold my agent Sam Hiyate thought it was good, and we’ve been working together on revisions ever since. Hopefully nearing completion now, which will mean that he tries to SELL MY NOVELLLLLLLLLLL. It’s the best feeling. Ever. And I am a firm believer that babies need parents who follow their dreams. Or at least nurture them.

So that’s all I’ve got for now! Below are a few other mat leave pointers for you lucky ducks starting out on the mat leave journey:

Don’t be fooled by that Groundhog Day feeling… 

Whether its a bad day or a blissful one, these days are numbered. Not just by time, but by baby’s development. The beautiful day that we walked an hour each way to Sunnyside Pavillion for lunch I thought we’d do that walk 100 times before the end of summer. I thought the same thing about the day we got ice cream at White Squirrel and ate it in Trinity Bellwooods park. But time passes, the season changes, and baby changes, and soon you’re into the next phase or the next season. Each more amazing than the next!

Take baby-free time in different ways 
I think my first baby-free event was a 20 minute drive to Shopper’s Drug Mart during which I laughed, cried, and generally acted like a basket case. Our first date night was sort of similar. We were like two cracked out zombies, twitching and having panic attacks while trying to ‘relax’ and be ‘romantic’. The beginning was hard, but important. What I found over time though was that I also needed home-alone time, out with girls time, jog time, yoga time, shop time. Each gives you back a different part of yourself I think….

Don’t nap when the baby naps.
I mean, you can, but…  it doesn’t even help, so why bother? I did try to nap about once a week, and that helped. But most of the time I just drank a lot of coffee, and wrote, and cooked, and read. I think no matter much I would have napped, I would have still been tired…. (I’m still tired now.)

Back to work this monday, folks… wish us luck!

Baby Led Weaning. SO FUN! …but oy, what a mess.

On introducing Solids/baby led weaning….

I’ve been pretty resilient so far, and I’d say successful, at this parenting thing. My daughter is almost 8 months old and hasn’t had a cold or a bruise yet. Nor has her mother had a nervous breakdown.

But baby led weaning is kind of breaking me, because it’s SOOOOO MESSY! It’s the cutest thing to see your baby Om Nom Nom whole pieces of broccoli or rice or whatever, but in the wake of this fun is basically a baby, high chair, bib, and floor covered in tiny bits of damp, sweep-resistant food. Between the time it takes for her little pincers to get enough food eaten and then the clean time, lunch can be a 2 hour ordeal. Or more. And I still find the occasional hardened bit of something on the floor… which drives me… up… the…. wall…

Maybe we should buy a hoover (or a dyson?!) but until that happens, here are my tips for not letting BLW break you like it’s breaking me:

1. Plastic disposable floor liner/sheet.

2. Always expect to hose baby down. Sink works.

3. Use a bib with sleeves. Or a naked baby. Don’t even bother with cloth bibs. You need plastic or plastic-covered. In large quantities. Preferably with a lip at the bottom for at least attempting to catch the offshoot bits.

4. Did I mention disposable floor liner or sheet? Mandatory!

5. Get a heavy bowl, or one that’s edgeless so that baby can’t lift/shake/hurl it. We love the Boon brand of plates and bowls.

Boon Plate

6. Follow baby’s phases…. you’ll see trends toward carbs or fruits only or veggies only. Go with those.

7. Make friends with the idea of easy meals. Your kid needs you happy more than they need you to be the perfect BLW mum. Get those little astronaut pack things like these Ella’s kitchen ones or these by Baby Gourmet. My friend Emma introduced to these and they changed my life forever! Our daughter holds them herself, but no mess. (*Note, even at 19 months, they still save the day when the day calls for fast, easy. It’s easier for THEM too!) Make sure you introduce these in a sure-to-love flavor (peas for us, strangely!) so the association is good. You actually have to look a little harder for the more veggie, LESS SWEET ones…. it’s worth it. Look for squash and green veg over all fruit like ‘banana blueberry etc. etc.”

8. Always clean wet messes with wet clothes and dry messes with dry cloths. Trust me, it helps.

9. Yes, it gets better.

10. I survived piles of sticky brown rice on my floor for months and lived to tell the tale. You will too. And your kid… will never remember any of this!!! : )

Eventually, you get to here, and it all seems worth the ride:

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