Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers-Boxing Week Edition

  • Today is day day 7 of my 10 day vacation.
  • Throughout my days off, I have accomplished very little.  Not sure what I was hoping to accomplish, but I feel like I have nothing to show for my time off.  At least I got in some quality time visiting with family and friends over the holidays.
  • I snagged some great Boxing Week sales this week.  At Walmart, I got a treetop angel and 6 rolls of wire ribbon all for 50% off.  At Canadian Tire, we snagged 2 rolls of white outdoor Christmas lights for $82.49 each (regular $109.99 each) plus got $30 in promotional gift cards to be used in January.  We used the 50% off Zellers coupon to purchase a crib mattress for $55, and I just purchased the coveted JuJuBe diaper bag online for 20% off (still ridiculously overpriced but it is the lowest that I have seen it yet).  Did you get any great Boxing Week sales?
  • Although Christmas has come and gone, our tree and decorations will stay up until after Ukrainian Christmas.
  • This week my cloth diapers that I purchased online finally arrived.  They are so stinkin' cute!
bumGenius 3.0 DELUXE stash.
  • This Sunday, I will be 19 weeks pregnant.  Where has the time gone?
  • On January 11th, Ryan's sister will be having a scheduled C-section for her second child (a boy).  This will be our 5th niece/nephew.  I am super excited!
  • We currently have no plans for New Years.  We will likely stay at home and struggle to stay awake until midnight!
For more Friday Night Leftovers, click here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Baby Wish List

Babies are an industry.  Everything marketed for babies has a price tag attached to it.  Knowing that our income will be reduced during my one year maternity leave, Ryan and I have chosen to not play into the commercialism of becoming parents.  Instead, we plan to buy the few big ticket items that we will actually need during the first year now, in order to reduce expenditures once baby arrives.  There are few items that our baby will actually "need" during his/her first year of life.  Besides, we live in a 700 sq. ft. home, and we don't have the space to store extra "stuff".
With that being said, however, there are a few "things" that I have been lusting over for quite some time now.  These are are some ridiculously over-priced items, that I would never pay full price for, but for which I comb the Internet for on an almost daily basis, looking for discount price-tags.

Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets

My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow-Fireworks

Planet Wise Wet Bag

JuJuBe Be Prepared Diaper Bag-Pretty Tweet

Sakura Bloom Sling-Organic Maple
What were your must-have baby items?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Haul

As much as I love giving gifts at Christmas, I would be lying if I said I didn't like to receive as well.
Although I haven't always been this way, I would consider myself a compulsive saver.  I have a firm grasp on the concept of wants vs. needs, and do not rush out to buy every little (or big) thing that I want throughout the year.  I, for the most part, get more pleasure out of saving, than I would get out of any "thing".  Money in the bank to me is a secure, comfortable and happy future.
Enter Christmas.  One day of the year when I don't have to choose between immediate and delayed gratification.  When others buy me those things that I want.
Now don't get me wrong.  The true meaning of Christmas is far more important to me.  I wouldn't trade one minute with family for any one of those awesome gifts that I have received.  But I won't be sending any of them back!
So without further ado, here is my Christmas Haul of 2011.

From Ryan
Logan 301-S Compact Mat Cutter

Breville BSG520XL Panini Press

From my Parents
Bodum Travel Press

 From my Secret Santa (Blaire)

Lee Valley Kitchen Scale

From Ryan's Parents
Keurig B60 Special Edition Coffee Maker
From Me (Santa)
Singer 7256 Fashion Mate Sewing Machine
As a disclaimer, this post is only a depiction of the gifts that I opened up Christmas morning.  I received several other gifts from family and friends leading into the holiday season.  I also received several awesome stocking stuffers, which I wish I would have taken a picture of, however, it is too late now because a large portion of it has already been consumed.

What did you get for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Red Paperclip

Have you heard of the Montreal man that traded a Red Paperclip-bartering for something a little bit better each time-with the final result being him ending up with a two-storey house?
It took over a year, but only 14 trades for him to essentially trade the paperclip for the house. You can check out his blog here.
Isn't this such a great lesson in the power of believing you can do better?
It reminds me of a saying that I once heard from Oprah that went something like "You'll never know what you could have had, if you would have only asked."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Top Reasons Why I Choose to Cloth Diaper

*Read Below for a Chance to Win 12 bumGenius Cloth Diapers*

I think that the decision to cloth diaper was one of the first "parenting" decisions that Ryan and I made, long before Perogy was even conceived.  The initial reason that I wanted to cloth diaper (even before I met Ryan actually), was due to the environmental impact of disposable diapering.
At that time, I had viewed cloth diapering in its earliest fashion-envisioning large squares of absorbent white cloth that would have to be folded, pinned and covered.  As we got closer to wanting to start a family, I started to research cloth diapers, and was pleasantly surprised to find that there are much more modern ways to cloth diaper today, and that cloth diapering can be just as simple, if not easier than disposable diapering.  The more I scoured the Internet for cloth diapering options, the more I fell in love with the idea of cloth diapering, and the more reasons I developed for wanting to cloth diaper.
Luckily I have a pretty easy going husband that, despite the fact that he has never even seen a diaper being changed, let alone changed one on his own, has been pretty open to whatever diapering option I choose to go with.
Cloth diapering has been one of those decisions that has not always been well-received by our family and friends, and we have often been met with well-meaning parents trying to talk us out of our decision to cloth diaper.  For every person that is "against" our cloth diapering decision, however, there is an equal number that are "pro" cloth diapering-our parents that cloth diapered multiple children with the less than modern versions of cloth, the friends that have tried both disposable and cloth diapering and who have become cloth diaper converts, and those that, like me, love the green aspect of cloth diapering.
At this point, we are far from cloth diaper veterans, as our journey has not even begun, however, for those of you who are on the fence about cloth diapering, or who are wondering "why in the world would they want to cloth diaper?", here is a list of some of my top reasons for why I chose to cloth diaper.

1.  Environmental Impact: I once read that it takes approximately 200 years for a disposable diaper to decompose.  My research has shown me that, on average, a baby will go through about 8 diapers/day (more in the beginning, and then tapering off).  Optimistically, if this child were to require diapers for 2 years, this would equal 5840 diapers disposed over the diapering life of that child, each taking about 200 years to decompose.  Multiply this by multiple children, and you can quickly see the impact.

2.  Better for Baby: While the verdict is still out, I have read many studies that have spoken of harmful chemical dioxins found in disposable diapers.  It is said that continued exposure to dioxins can cause multiple health problems including infertility and various types of cancer.  Few long term studies have been done on disposable diapers, to either prove or disprove this theory.

3.  Quicker Potty Training: I have heard that cloth diapering fosters quicker potty training.  While this would be very difficult to measure, unless on a population level, due to the variances in every child and their readiness to potty train, what's the harm in believing it?  The reasoning behind this is that disposable diapers contain gels that prevent the child from ever feeling wet.  If a child doesn't feel wet or uncomfortable after peeing in their diaper, why would they stop?

4.  Tons more options: There is a very large range in options for cloth diapering  from pre-folds and fitteds, which are the cheapest, to Pocket Diapers and AIOs, which are the most expensive.  There are diapers in which the size can be adjusted as your baby grows, or you can choose to purchase multiple sets of different size diapers and move up as your child grows.  You can choose from Velcro or snaps.  Cotton, bamboo or wool.  There are numerous colours and patterns to choose from.

4. Cheaper: As there are so many options in cloth diapers, cloth diapering can really be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it.  I have seen claims that cloth diapering can save you $3000/child, and although entirely possible, our savings will be much more modest.
Our plan is to use pre-folds with covers for the first few weeks because they are cheaper and the baby will grow out of this size quite quickly.  We bought 24 pre-folds and 4 covers for ~$115.  We will then move on to use bumGenius AIO's in size small for the next few months.  These range from ~$25/diaper (new) to ~$10/diaper (used).  I lucked out and found a stash of 15 very lightly used diapers on Kijiji for ~$175, and then bought 5 more new ones for ~$125 to complete my stash for this time period.  These will last until Perogy is about 18 lbs (about 6 months), at which time we will finally switch to the bumGenius Freetime diapers, a one-size adjustable AIO diaper.  These will cost us ~$15 each for a total of ~$360 for a stash of 24.  These will last until Perogy is potty trained.
So in total, cloth diapering will cost us ~$775.  If disposable diapering, 5840 diapers at an average cost of $0.20 each would cost $1168.  So to cloth diaper, we would actually save ~$393 over disposable diapering on our first child, and $1168 for each subsequent child, as we would already have the stash.
And now, don't even get me started on the resale value of well cared for cloth diapers.

5. Cute: Enough said.

6. Convenience:  As we live 30 minutes from our closest grocery store, washing a load of laundry would be much quicker and more convenient than running to the store, should we run out of diapers.  Also, given that we live in the country and are responsible for our own garbage disposal, it would be much easier to wash diapers than have to worry about disposing of  56 diapers/week.  Finally, with the modern cloth diaper options available, specifically AIOs, diaper changes are just as easy as with disposable diapers.

7.  Conversation: Given that this is my longest blog post to date, you can very well see how cloth diapers can evoke conversation.

9.  Poop doesn't bother me: There.  For all of you who ask "Why would you want to deal with all of that poop, if you could just throw it out?", you have it.  And besides, the vast majority of diaper changes are pee diapers, with only a few poop diapers here and there.

10.  Ease of Use: I cannot say that cloth diapers would be any easier to use than disposable diapers, but I would definitely venture to guess, that they are not any more difficult to use.

When it all comes down to it, we will all make decisions that suit our families, whether it be cloth diapering or disposable diapering.  However, with this post, I hope that I have enlightened you with some excellent reasons on why I choose to cloth diaper and that I have spoken the words of many others who feel the need to justify their decision to cloth diaper.

How do/did/will you diaper your child(ren)?  What are the reasons for your choices?

Disclaimer:  Although composed of my own thoughts, this post was written as part of this contest to spread the word about cloth diapering.   This contest was sponsored by Cotton Babies, the maker of my favourite cloth diapers-bumGenius.  I have not received any form of compensation for this post.  If selected as the winning blog post, I will receive 12 bumGenius cloth diapers from Cotton Babies.  Even better, if I win, I will randomly choose one commenter to also receive 12 bumGenius diapers.  So be sure to leave a comment by midnight on January 15, 2012 to qualify! Only one comment will be counted per person. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers-Holiday Edition

  • I am officially on Holidays!  Ten days of much needed time away from work.  Hopefully this break provides the refreshment that I need to get me through the next few months until my maternity leave.
  • I know I shouldn't think this way, but I can't help but look forward to my maternity leave as a one year "vacation" from work.  I find myself already mentally filling my days, weeks and months with activities/vacations/tasks that I would never have the time to do while working full time.  You don't have to tell me, I know I am in for a rude awakening.
  • This warm weather and lack of snow totally hinders my Christmas spirit.  I have resigned myself on achieving my typical selection of Christmas baking.
  • While our new furnace will not be installed until into the new year, Ryan has accomplished so much this week-new electrical panel is in, all is re-wired and our washer and dryer will soon be moved downstairs in anticipation of the renovations that we will be doing upstairs.  I truly do have the best husband ever!
  • Perogy is now the size of a turnip. Supposedly his/her hearing is developing this week.
  • Our ultrasound is scheduled for January 20th.  I can't wait to see this baby, and might even splurge the $30 to have the picture!
  • Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
For more Friday Night Leftovers, click here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Shady Introduction to Cloth Diapering

Manitoba hasn't quite yet jumped on the cloth diaper train.  In reality, I actually only know one person that has cloth diapered.
There is tons of information on cloth diapering on the Internet, if you seek it out, but it isn't the same as having an actual physical store that you can go to to shop.
This is why I was super excited when I found Cloth Diaper Mom, an online cloth diaper shop that also had a physical store in Winnipeg, a nearby city to where I live.  The prospect was exciting-a place that I could go to to touch cloth diapers, where I could speak to a real person with extensive experience in cloth diapering, where I could visit time and time again both before and after Perogy arrives to shop for a variety of baby items.  The idea of shopping local-ish also made me feel good.
Even more exciting, their online shop had a good selection of bumGenius 3.0 DELUXE diapers, something that I have spent countless hours searching online for since they were discontinued.  After a short discussion with Ryan, I went ahead and purchased 24 of these diapers from their online store.  I was going to be in Winnipeg in a few weeks, but I wanted to make sure that they didn't sell out before I got there.  Shipping was free.  I immediately paid for the order through our PayPal account.  Done.
A week later, I was starting to wonder when my diapers would arrive.  I checked the status of my order online, and it still said "pending", as if they hadn't been shipped yet.  No big deal, the money had already gone through our account, so I would just have to be patient.
Another week passed with still no package, and an order still "pending".  By this time Ryan was also starting to ask where the diapers were.  I emailed the company to check the status of my order, and received an automated response stating that I would hear back in 2 days.  Two days later-no response.   This is when we started doing some research into this company.  First, we found this blog, with a comment from a blogger with a similar experience in which products had not been shipped.  Then, we found this company's profile with the Better Business Bureau, which indicated multiple customer complaints of the same nature.
I again emailed the company (as their voicemail was full), asking them to get back to me as soon as possible in order to resolve this issue.  I stated that if they were not going to ship the products in a timely manner, that I would like a full refund.  Another automated response.  Another 2 days with no answers.
This brought us to our trip to Winnipeg.  We decided that we would stop in at the shop to sort out what was most likely a misunderstanding or a highly over-burdened mother trying to run a business.  When we drove by the shop, it was closed, and looked like it had been for some time.  There were no hours of business posted.
When we returned home, we filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and submitted a claim to PayPal to receive our money (almost $500) back.  We were successful at getting our money back through PayPal, but to date have still not heard back from this company.
Barely the store-front shown on their website.
I have several thoughts on this and everything that transpired with this company.  Firstly, I am angry at PayPal and the Better Business Bureau, that, given multiple complaints about this retailer, have failed to protect consumers from fraud.
I am angry at the owner of this business, who I truly believe was at one time a well-meaning mother who was seeking some satisfaction from owning her own business.  However, I feel that she has failed miserably, and has now become a predator, preying on vulnerable parents and parents-to-be.  I am angry that she would take such a large sum of money from me (knowingly or unknowingly), with no intention to provide a product or service in which this money was rendered for.
Finally, I am at a loss for what to do next.  I truly feel that this online "business" should be shut down and that no other person should fall victim to this company.  Given the information that is posted on this website, along with the information provided to me by PayPal and some googling, I know the owner's name, where she works, the name of her husband and children, her home phone number, her address, etc.  Should I contact her through other means and give her a piece of my mind?  Should I file a report with the RCMP?  Should I contact the web host to shut down the website? Or should I just be grateful that I got my money back and focus my energy on more positive things like this new baby that we will be soon welcoming into our family?

What would you do in this situation?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Traditions

As the Christmas season is upon us, it makes me think that this is our last Christmas as a family of two.  A year from now, we will have a 6-month old Perogy to spend the holiday season with.
Christmas has always been a big deal in my family.  Not a big deal in the sense that we spend hundreds of dollars on each other or get a million presents, but a big deal in the fact that it is always spent with family.  As a matter of fact, despite all of our travels, there has only been one Christmas in my entire 27 Christmases that I have spent away from my family.
There are many traditions that I look forward to over the holiday season, and I am now starting to think of all of the traditions that I would like to pass on to Perogy.  
  • Around the holidays, you can always find baking at my mom's house.  It is a given that she will have  a good supply of shortbread in various varieties along with Chocolate Caramel Shortbread squares, which she must ration to ensure that there is still stock come Christmas.  It wouldn't be Christmas without mom's baking.
  • Even as adults, we always spend Christmas Eve at mom and dad's house, so we are all together come Christmas morning.
  • Every Christmas Eve, the family gathers at mom and dad's house.  We anxiously wait until 7:00 (or is it 8:00), when we congregate to the living room to open one present.  This has traditionally been the only day of the year that mom allowed beverages in the living room, but that has since changed.
  • It is customary that every Christmas morning, once all awake, we must wait for dad to put on coffee, get dressed, shower, etc., etc., etc,. before we can rush in to see what Santa brought!
  • As children Santa would always bring one gift, which would be left unwrapped for us to find first.  As adults, we no longer get Santa gifts, however, this is something that I would like to continue for Perogy.
  • Stockings have always been our favourite "presents".
  • Gift cards are incredibly uncommon in our family at Christmas.  Everyone goes home with something tangible.
  • Christmas breakfast have become a huge part of Christmas for us.  It is the only time of year that our whole family has breakfast together.  As adults, we rotate who makes breakfast, and it has become a healthy competition to "one up" the last person with an impressive breakfast spread.
  • After breakfast, my siblings and I always gather our Christmas presents in laundry baskets to compare.
These may all seem like minuscule traditions to you, however, combined, they are the spirit of Christmas in my family.  I hope that these traditions continue on long after Perogy is born, so that he/she can experience all of the excitement of Christmas that I have experienced.

Big or small, what are your favourite holiday traditions?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bless You

One of the more unpleasant pregnancy symptoms that I have experienced intermittently throughout my pregnancy is abdominal pain when I sneeze.
It happens mostly when I sneeze while lying flat or standing up straight.  It feels like my abdominal muscles are literally tearing.  I expect that this is normal given that these muscles are likely getting pretty stretched already.  If I bend at the  waist while sneezing it doesn't hurt so much.
This morning, while still lying in bed playing on my iPhone, I sneezed, which caused excruciating pain.  A few minutes later, I felt another sneeze coming on.  Being smarter than the first time, I lifted my knees to make sure I was more "bent" at the waist.  This definitely worked, but I didn't have time to cover my mouth, and I ended up sneezing all over my iPhone.  I muttered some choice words, and Ryan came to see what was going on, only to find my iPhone dripping with saliva.  I wish I would have taken a picture of it.

Have any of you experienced painful sneezes during pregnancy?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  • I am currently 16 week, 5 days pregnant. I haven't gained any weight and am still fitting most of my pre-pregnancy clothes.
  • Our baby is supposedly the size of a pear. They say that I may start to feel him/her kick any time now.
  • I went for bloodwork today. They drew 7 vials of blood. I can't remember all of the tests but they included CBC, glucose, prenatal panned, maternal serum screen, Ferritin, TIBC and Rh.
  • Last time I saw my doctor, my Hgb was 113, which was low. I have always been borderline low, but supposedly during pregnancy as my blood volume increases, the majority is just from fluid with no increase in RBCs, which can cause this number to continue to go down lower and give me classic symptoms of anemia.
  • Last weekend I both started and finished my Christmas shopping.
  • Today Ryan and his uncle started putting in our new electrical panel. Hopefully by Christmas our oil furnace will be switched over to electric, a project that was started in August.
  • Only 5 more work days until a stretch of 10 days off!

For more Friday Night Leftovers, click here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Heart Beat

Last Friday we had our first "real" pre-natal appointment with my doctor (aside from the first one where we basically just confirmed that we are pregnant).
The highlight of this appointment was getting to hear Perogy's heartbeat for the first time-absolutely amazing! It's still strange though to think that there is actually another living being inside of me, as I still don't look or feel much different.  The doctor was even able to hear Perogy kicking!
So the heart rate was 130 bpm, which has everyone speculating whether it will be a girl or boy.  So far girl is definitely the popular choice.  I am leaning more towards girl as well, however, Ryan is convinced that it is a boy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

First Trimester

Just a recap of my first trimester pregnancy symptoms, so I don't forget...

My first symptom was extreme fatigue.  Whether it was related to pregnancy or the night classes in Photography that I was taking 2 nights/week which facilitated a 4 hour round-trip after work on these nights, I was tired.  I actually did my first pregnancy test the day after my first class and got the positive, so I will never really know what really caused the fatigue.  Needless to say, bedtime went from 10:00 to 8:00 and I would still wake up tired.
I also noticed that I was thirstier than usual, which facilitated more trips to the bathroom.  I would have to stop half-way through my two hour drive to use the washroom, and was waking up in the middle of the night as well.  This only lasted a few weeks, but has since returned.  My doctor says that I can't blame the baby for this, as it is not yet big enough to put pressure on the bladder.  Instead, it is because of increasing fluid volumes and the kidneys working overtime to figure out my new fluid balance.
Next came a bit of nausea, but never enough to really call it morning sickness.  Basically, thinking of food made me nauseous, which is weird for me.  I also gave up my obsession with chocolate for a short while, but that has since returned.
Another symptom that I had was feeling "burpy" all the time-like I needed to burp but couldn't.  This has gotten better, but hasn't completely gone away.
Needless to say, I think that I have had a pretty good first trimester.  Aside from a few days when I thought to myself "Why in the world would women want to do this more than once or twice?", I consider myself lucky because my symptoms have basically been manageable.  There have even been times that I have questioned my own pregnancy because I haven't "felt pregnant", but I am happy that I have been so lucky so far.  Here's to an equally manageable second and third trimester!