Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mommy's Night Out

Last night I met a friend for dinner. Just me. I took a small purse, my iPod and headed downtown on the subway. No stroller. No diaper bag. No Hannah.

When I got to the not family-friendly restaurant I thanked my friend for giving me a "night out". She revealed she thought after we made the plans sans Hannah that I might be upset. In fact, I was the complete opposite. I understand babies are a big draw for most folks, but Mommy needs some adult time too. My brain needs a rest from feeding times, diaper changes and being a one-woman song and dance show to keep baby entertained.

Another one of my other friends is also really great - she always asks "Baby time or Adult time?" when we are making plans to hang out and I know 100 per cent she would be happy with either.

I'm obviously extremely grateful for my friends who want to see Hannah and have modified our friendship and time together, adjusting to the fact I now have a little one who is in my constant care. It takes a village to raise a child, so they say, and I'm really lucky to have such great, supportive folks in my life who have adapted to baby and all that she brings to the table just as well as I have.

However, I do think as a new Mom who will have to return to work sooner than later, it helps me AND it helps Hannah for me to do things without her. She needs to get used to me not being around all the time. I need to get used to her not being around all the time (I am convinced I will be that Mom who cries in the bathroom multiple times the first week I go back to work because I miss  her so much. And I'm convinced she'll be the happy child at daycare and not realize she misses me at all until I walk in the door to pick her up).

So was I sad last night when I got home and Hannah had already gone to bed without my saying goodnight? A little. But missing one bedtime routine was definitely worth catching up with a great friend.

How often do you get to meet friends without your child(ren)?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How Mommyhood Affected My Facebook Account

When I found out I was pregnant, Chris and I actually had a discussion on if/what we would announce/post on Facebook. We waited until I was 20 weeks along before we made any mention of it. Of course we had told friends and family way before then, and thankfully no one spilled the beans on either of our walls until we made our "official" announcement (which we did via a cute (if I do say so myself) Media Advisory note).

But before I made the announcement I did the great Facebook purge of 2011. I had two criteria: A) Have I seen this person in the last 2 years? and B) If I saw them in the street would I be happy to approach them? If you didn't get a yes, you were purged. Why should these people who don't care enough to talk to me be privy to all my cute baby bump photos? Or adorable baby photos when Hannah actually was born?

"Um, aren't you showing complete strangers photos of Hannah?" you ask. Well, yes. However I hope people come to my blog because they are interested in reading what I have to say. If adorable baby photos keep them coming back, then I suppose I'll allow it. 

And let me tell you, purging your Facebook is a huge relief. You only see posts from people you care about. As for work and career-related folks, that's what LinkedIn is for.

Now I log on to Facebook to find out what my friends are up to - AND to read some of the postings in Mommy groups I'm lucky to be a part of. When I click "Like" on a friend's photo of their child sitting up by themselves, it has a whole new meaning. I'm not just clicking because the baby is cute - I'm clicking for support and congratulating the parents, now that I know first-hand how great moments like those are.

I also "Like" more baby pages and companies with baby products (feel free to like YYZ Bambina Blog :D) than I do bands, movies or TV shows. My interests and priorities have shifted, and so has my Facebook account.

Did your social media habits change after becoming a parent?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy Half-Birthday Hannah!

Today is Hannah's half-birthday. We got her a cake to celebrate.

But the fine folks at Metro don't believe in proper grammar. Which her journalism grad parents just can't stand for (hence the strategicially placed silver present).

We will be going over to Grandma's for dinner. And not to worry, Hannah will receive no cake. But as the person who gave birth to her, I feel like I deserve a small (high calorie) treat.

I can't believe she's six months old already!

Do you celebrate your child's half-birthdays?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hannah's Pick of the Month - Carter's Jungle Activity Book

Hannah's Pick of the Month for July is her Carter's Jungle Activity Book. And yet another gift from my Mom (is anyone else sensing a pattern here?).

Like her Bug and Elmo, this book keeps her busy in her pack n play, her high chair and most importantly, her car seat.

She loves the texture of the book (the entire thing CRINKLES!) and she likes to hold the black and white polka-dotted handle to hold the book up and down. Up and down.

The book is colourful and has six pages, featuring a bear, a tiger, a monkey, a hippopotamus (proudly I spelled that WITHOUT spell check, thank you Adam Sandler and Big Daddy), a lion and a giraffe. The hippo's mouth has a mirror, the monkey has a tail and the tiger squeaks if you squeeze his stomach.

It's SUPER easy to clean, which is great considering Hannah has entered her "Go fetch, Mommy" stage of throwing her toys.

My Mom picked up the Carter's Jungle Activity Book at the Carter's store. According to the website it is currently out of stock, but you may be able to find it at Winners.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Disney Store - A Magical Interactive Shopping Experience

When the invite for the exclusive Disney Store preview at Yorkdale Mall arrived in my inbox, I felt as excited as Winnie the Pooh would be getting invited to an all-he-could-eat hunny buffet.

What's behind the black curtains?
A magical, interactive shopping experience!
The newly-designed Yorkdale location opens to the public on July 25, 2012, with Grand Opening celebrations taking place on Saturday, July 28, 2012 (9:30 a.m. marks the opening ceremony when two Make-A-Wish children "Unlock Imagination", plus the first 500 guests will receive a free gift. That afternoon, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., there will be a Meet and Greet with Mickey and Minnie in Yorkdale's Centre Court).

Disney Princess Castle
with Magic Mirror
Disney Store carries high-quality products, including exclusive product lines that support and promote Disney's key entertainment initiatives and characters.

Disney Store offers a magical, interactive shopping experience, aiming to deliver the best 30 minutes of a child’s day. And the Yorkdale location does just that.

Can you see Casa Loma
moonlighting as Cinderella's Castle?
From the Disney Princess Castle with Magic Mirror (that comes alive with scenes from specific princess stories when guests walk by) to the Translucent Trees, there is so much to see. The unique skyline of the store includes five popular Toronto landmarks, one being Casa Loma moonlighting as Cinderella's castle.

There are also daily events for guests including Storytime, Learn to Draw, Trivia, the Imagination Parade, and Showtime (when guests learn how to do the hot dog dance). Just ask a Cast Member for scheduled timing.

Why do I have a feeling I'll be spending
a LOT of time in the baby section?
Every day the store is opened by a child who uses a large Disney key to "Unlock Imagination" - the guest (chosen randomly) is then given a smaller key to keep to mark the occasion. There is also a closing ceremony at the end of the day.

Along with daily events, many rituals also take place throughout the day in the store. I don't want to ruin all the surprises, but make sure you pay special attention to the Translucent Trees at Yorkdale...and hope Tinker Bell is around to come to the rescue!

No visit is complete without a stop at the Disney Store Theatre - you can ask a Cast Member how to celebrate birthdays, unbirthdays, engagements, anniversaries - or in our case, Hannah's first visit! There is also a table with crayons and colouring sheets to entertain younger guests, while they watch the celebrations or Disney videos on the big screen.

And of course, being that it is the Disney Store, there's great shopping (toys, clothes, DVDs and lots more!) organized by classic Disney characters and Disney films.

If you don't live close to Yorkdale, newly-designed Disney Stores are also located at Square One in Mississauga and Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket. Scarborough Town Centre will be the location of the next Disney Store in the GTA, opening in October 2012. There are currently more than 200 Disney Stores in North America, and more than 340 worldwide. You can also buy Disney Store products online.

I wish I could visit Disney World every week. But since I can't, a weekly visit to the Disney Store is a pretty great (and just as magical) substitute! My experience definitely left me as satisfied as Winnie the Pooh would be after hours of eating yummy hunny.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Joy of Teethease

Hannah cut her first tooth about a week ago. And if her gums are any indication the second bottom tooth, and her top two teeth are days from coming in.

So it couldn't have been better timing for me to be chosen as a PTPA (Parent Tested, Parent Approved) tester for a Teethease pendant.

This product is amazing. In short, Mom (or any caregiver) wears a fashionable necklace with a pendant that is designed for baby to chew and suck on to relieve teething pain.

Hannah was attracted to the pendant right away - due to the great colour and shape, she loved just watching me swing it back and forth in front of her eyes.

Of course, the pendant also worked great to relieve teething pain (its actual purpose) - instantly. Because the pendant was around my neck, I didn't have to waste time search for it in the diaper bag, or have to run into another room to retrieve it.

It was also very easy to clean and is dishwasher friendly. All Teethease pendants are made from 100% silicone and are free from BPA, PVC, phthalates, latex and heavy metals and meets all of Health Canada’s Safety Standards.

As she gets a little older (and gets more teeth), I'm sure she'll grab on to the pendant herself - knowing relief from teething is just an arm's length away.

Teethease products can be purchased on their website, or at Lil Niblets and Evymama (both stores in Toronto).

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review: Harry By The Sea

Harry By The Sea by Gene Zion, pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham is a perfect summer read.

When I was little Harry The Dirty Dog (the first book in what I came to realize as an adult is actually a series) was one of my favourite books. Right now my copy sits in Hannah's closet ready for her to appreciate it. 

So when I saw Harry By The Sea at the library I had to check it out and see what it's all about.

The Harry stories are all about mistaken identity (namely Harry's). In Harry the Dirty Dog he doesn't want to take a bath so he runs away. When he returns, he's so dirty (spoiler alert!) that his own family doesn't recognize him.

In Harry By The Sea, Harry is hot at the beach and there is no room from him under the family umbrella. So he seeks out places to stay cool. At one point, he walks in a fat lady's shadow. (The books way of describing the woman, not mine...I guess in 1965 it was OK to use the term "fat lady" in children's books.) As he attempts to get cool a big wave comes and drags him into the sea. He gets covered with seaweed and beach goers assume he is a sea monster. Through a series of funny events, Harry shakes of the seaweed and is reunited with his family again.

I like this story so much that once we have to give it back, I will go out and by myself Hannah a copy.

Harry By The Sea retails for $8.99 at Chapters Indigo.

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baby's First (Recognized) Word

Over the weekend, my Mom, Hannah and I went up to a friend's house in the country.

They have a gorgeous outdoor pool, and since the weather was fabulous, we spent most of the day poolside.

As you may be aware, Hannah and I are taking Parent and Tot swimming lessons. She goes through the motions, but still seems more interested in watching what the big kids are doing versus what is going on in her own class.

What you definitely aren't aware of is how much Hannah likes to kick her legs (apparently a trait from Chris, so maybe I should get to kick him in the stomach since she kicked in the womb so much). Case in point - her car seat is noticeably wearing where her feet are because of where they rub the fabric.

I was sitting with her in my lap in the pool when she began to kick her legs. It was so cute we just HAD to get it on video.

Yesterday, my brother sent it to us. We all sat on the couch to watch my laptop. You can hear my Mom go, "Hi Hannah...kick!" And lo and behold, on the couch, Hannah started to kick! Was it a fluke? Nope. I scientifically tested it. 7 times. I was almost in tears I was so proud and astonished. She heard a word, recognized it, and did what was asked of her!

I can't wait to get in the pool with her at our lessons and say "KICK" to see if she will. There may be better or worse first words she could recognize, but kick seems very fitting for her.

I'm such a proud Mom! What was your child's first recognized word?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Phantom Baby

When we came home from the hospital we brought home two babies - Hannah and the Phantom.

Never before did I hear phantom crying when I was doing dishes, watching TV or talking on the phone.

Never did I sniff the air in my car when it got too quiet, attempting to determine what I was smelling was real or phantom baby poop.

Did you bring a phantom baby home too? And if you had multiples, do you have multiple phantom babies?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Interspecies Jealousy

Boo Bear posing. See: Attention, Crying for.
I used to be SO in love with Booyah. He was always the wallpaper on my phone. I set my alarm to go off 5 to 10 minutes earlier just so I could give him some good morning pats. He was worth getting up before the sun rises - at 8 years old he still chases his tail, attacks cat nip toys and is the most vocal cat you've ever met. When I came home from work, he would run to the door and greet me with a squeaky meow, a telltale sign he had just woken up from a nap. We would cuddle or hang out together until Chris got home.

Fast-forward to late January. I enter the hospital with irregular bleeding. We spend the night. I have an emergency c-section. We spend the night. The next day Chris is able to get home for an hour to shower and put out fresh food and water for Booyah. We spend the night at the hospital. The next day, we bring Hannah home. Booyah looks happy to see us. Not so much the little crying human in the car seat.

Those first few weeks were the worst. Poor Booyah got put on the back burner. We always made sure he had food, water and clean litter. But our pats and cuddle sessions seemed to all but disappear. I even went out and bought him some new toys because I felt guilty I didn't have as much time to pay attention to him. I was so happy when Hannah reached his weight because it meant I could pick him up and cuddle him.

Checking out the Baby Einstein
When Chris went back to work and it was just me, Boo Bear and Hannah I used him as a sounding board. "Do you think she's crying because she's hungry?" "Meow." "Or maybe she's tired?" "Meow." "Maybe she just doesn't know what she wants?" At this point, Boo usually got sick of the conversation and left the room.

Booyah loves to hide in the bathtub or beneath the covers of the bed. Being on mat leave, I've realized a cat sleeps so much more than humans assume (and that the term "cat nap" really needs more thought - Booyah naps for HOURS, Hannah naps for minutes...). Of course, as soon as Hannah started to fuss, Booyah would suddenly make an appearance and add his noise to the mix. Try dealing with a crying newborn and a crying cat trying to trip you at your feet. Not fun.

I think Booyah has finally accepted Hannah as a member of the family. The first few times we went out with her and brought her back, he looked at us like "You mean, you didn't return her to wherever you got her?" Now he just greets all of us with his usual squeaky meow. Of course, this could just mean he's now adjusted to the new pecking order of our family.

As for Hannah, she is in love with Booyah. She likes to stare at him while we all sit on the couch. She has grabbed his fur a few times, and I try to use her hand to gently stroke his back. Booyah returns the favour by licking her face. And sometimes he attempts to lay/nap with her. Having Boo in her life will teach Hannah empathy, and new research says living with a cat could even strengthen her immune system.

Hopefully as the years go by, Booyah will realize Hannah is another person who can feed him treats, pet him and throw him a toy to catch. Another human who will love him and take care of him. And one day, I bet he will become the centre of Hannah's attention.

Besides, Booyah loves to knead my post-baby belly. So he's already gotten something positive out of this whole situation.

How did your pet(s) adjust to baby?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

See See...No Touch!

I have been blessed with a very cute baby. She is already showing signs of being a ham. As long as she's in a good mood, she has a smile for everyone she meets.

The problem with this is that some people take this as a sign that they should touch her hand, poke her chubby thighs or stroke her face. Would you walk up to a complete stranger and do any of these things? Even on a first date it would be super forward (and still pretty strange). So why do some people think it's OK to do it to a baby?

If I were a lawyer, I would point out the following observation in court. If you see a dog in a park, everyone is programmed to ask the owner to if they can touch the dog BEFORE they reach down to pat it. My baby is MY baby, if you'd like to touch her you should give her and her mother (aka me) the same respect you give a dog and their owner. Perhaps if Hannah bit strangers when they approached us my life would be a lot easier. Not that I want Hannah to have a nasty biting habit...right?

I have no problem with strangers looking at or waving to my daughter. However, if they attempt to touch her, I push the stroller away. Sometimes I'm not quick enough, and a few times Hannah has cried. I hope this sends a signal to them so that they won't touch my daughter again, or any other baby for that matter.

The irony of this entire situation is the people I don't mind touching and holding her (my family and friends) will always wait until I offer her to them. I guess they just have more respect for me and Hannah than random strangers do, even if they deserve to coo and cuddle Hannah way more than someone we've never met.

The time has come to band together. If dog owners can make sure no one touches their dogs without their permission, certainly us parents can make sure no one touches our children without our permission.

What do you do if strangers try to touch your child?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Top 5 Tips for Parent & Tot

This past Thursday was Hannah's first swimming lesson. I was full of giddy excitement. I had been counting down to the day our session began. I couldn't wait for us to be in the pool together. I was thrilled with the entire class, and when it was over, I wished I could join the next class so I could have 30 more minutes of fun.

Hannah? Not so much. She didn't cry, but she didn't smile either. Chris thinks next week will determine how she truly feels about it. The high school swim team member in me hopes she will smile.

We go to Eunice's Swim School. The lesson passes by quickly with songs and rhymes. Hannah went under the water for the first time, kicked her legs and jumped into the pool (with my assistance, of course).

If you are interested in jumping in the pool with baby, here are my Top 5 Tips for Parent & Tot Swim Lessons:
  1. Prepare (your LO) to get wet. Make sure your baby is used to/likes water. Try splashing them in the bathtub and see how they react. The class involves a LOT of splashing and if they cry when splashed, they might not be ready to enter the pool.
  2. Leave your fears at the door. Like everything else in life, your baby will sense your fear and play off of it. I was relaxed in the water, and as a result Hannah was too.
  3. Get there early. At Eunice's we were able to enter the pool a few minutes before the class began. That allowed Hannah to soak in her surroundings and adjust to the water before we began instructed play.
  4. Be positive and trust your instructor. When it came time to dunk Hannah I nearly had a heart attack. But the instructors have taught many babies (and adults) in water orientation. You aren't their first and won't be their last pupils, so trust that your baby will be successful in all skills being taught.
  5. SMILE AND HAVE FUN! (This rule is mainly directed to Hannah...if only she could read). These classes really are a great way to bond with baby, and the start of their learning how to swim - a required life skill.
What Parent & Tot lessons have you tried? What are your tips?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Dadpost: My New Television Schedule

Before Hannah was born, I was rarely up before 10 AM. Now, by the time 10 rolls around, I'm about four kids TV shows deep into my day before I head off to work.
Between PBS, CBC and TVO (three of the handful of channels I get for free on our HD antenna), we have a LOT of kids' TV options, and Hannah very much enjoys a wide variety of programming.

We're often at the mercy of weather conditions and/or construction on our building in regards to what shows actually come in on any given day, but this is roughly what we're watching. Most of these shows have their shortcomings, which of course only Sarah and I notice, but as long as Hannah is entertained that's the main thing.

The Earworm Factor refers to how much the theme songs/show songs get stuck in my head, 1 being "not at all" and 10 being "want to drill the song out of my skull, trepanning style."

8:00 - Curious George (PBS)

Curious George has always been one of my favourite characters. The first stuffed animal I ever got was a George, and I slept with it probably a lot longer than I should have. The movie was very well done and the show is also quite good. The animation style is modernized but the stories and the mood always bring me back to my childhood.

Earworm Factor (EF): 1 out of 10. None of the songs are similar to the original iconic theme, so they never get stuck in my head. The movie was a bit heavy on the Jack Johnson, but I guess his Dave Matthews-lite style works for something like this.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Battle of the Baby Weight - Cardio

I've always been a fan of cardio. The few times I've had gym memberships, I love using the elliptical, the bikes and the treadmill. I would take the dance classes (when offered). The weights always scared me. And still do.

Yesterday Hannah slept through my last baby booty camp class. Since I was already in my workout gear (and because I had eaten a whole bag of Ketchup chips at the cottage myself over the long weekend) I started to look for workout videos online. First I looked up yoga and pilates. But I know you have to get your heart racing to get healthy.

So when I found a link for Zumba, I clicked on it. When the Biggest Loser folks did it this season, I wanted to try it. It didn't look that difficult and, more importantly, it looked FUN.

And it is! The video I found is great. It's of an actual class.

If you've tried to work out at home to videos before, maybe you've become frustrated like me. Especially when you can't even keep up with the "beginner" girl who is supposed to be doing less difficult moves.

The joy of this video is that these are REAL people. Therefore, the folks in the back get tired just like us! For me, it's more motivational to see someone struggling yet still continuing with the routine. It gives me the strength to continue myself.

Of course, when I was getting through the second 15-minute workout Miss H woke up. So I just laid her down on her playmat and she enjoyed watching Mommy do Zumba. How many adult workouts can entertain a child?

What do you do for cardio?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 02, 2012

What's in a Name?

When Chris and I found out I was pregnant the easiest discussion we had about our arriving bundle of joy was deciding a name.

A few months before I was even expecting, we had already discussed what we would call our children if we were to be parents together. I hated his girl name, he hated my boy name. So it was pretty easy.

My girl name, of course, was Hannah. Ever since I was younger, I knew if I had a daughter I would like to call her that. I didn't know anyone named Hannah, so there were no bad connotations. Her name is a palindrome (it's spelled the same forwards and backwards). And of course, with the English spelling, her name ends with an H just like her Mommy.

I'm really hoping the whole "Hannah Montana" thing doesn't haunt her. I know when she starts school, kids her age will have no idea what that show is. We've already started to call her "The Banana", so I hope that won't bug her either. What I hope MOST of all is that she's the only Hannah in her class. Growing up, there were usually three or four other Sarahs in the same ROOM that I had to contend with. One year, there were even two Sarahs with the same starting letter of their last names. Talk about frustrating and feeling super unspecial.

Unlike Hannah, my name came from someone in my family - my great, great, great grandmother. This was a lady who disowned her own daughter, Laura. All because Laura married someone who Sarah thought was underneath their family socially.

However, when giving Hannah her middle names, I unknowingly righted a wrong. One of her middle names is Laurelyn - after my Great Aunt and my Mom. On a recent trip, my Great Aunt revealed she was named after the scorned Laura, so in a round about way, my daughter was too. So take that Sarah!

Anyways, my Mom has taken a lot of flack from me over the years about how much I dislike my name. I just hope when Hannah gets older she'll like hers. And if she doesn't, I'll respond how my Mom does and say, "You can name YOUR children whatever you want when you're older."

How did you choose your child's name?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.