Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers-Tornado Edition

  • On Tuesday night, a tornado passed through our property.  We were left with several downed trees, a basement full of water and no power for over 36 hours.  It was quite the adventure.
  • We now have a tree that is threatening to fall on to our house.  We will likely have to pay to have it removed.
  • This week I got tons of fluffy mail including some Bummis covers that were replaced through warranty after the original ones delaminated, a Fuzzibunz Elite, Thirsties AIO, Softbums Omni and an Applecheeks diaper.  I have ruled out a few options for my next stage of cloth diapering, but still can't decide which way to go.
  • I recently registered my blog's domain name, so you can now find me at, instead of having to put in all of the blogspot jazz.  If you like all the blogspot jazz, just continue using the same URL that you used before.
  • Hopefully this will get me some more viewers, as I am hoping to make some money off of this blog!
  • I am also looking at getting my blog custom designed.  I am thinking I might go with this company.  I am just deciding on a colour scheme.  Which one do you like best?
Color Scheme #1
Color Scheme #2
  • I am in desperate need of some new clothes.  All of my pre-pregnancy clothes were work clothes.  I need some nice casual stuff to wear throughout my maternity leave.
  • I am loving my new BOB stroller that I got at Carter's baby shower.  We take walks around the property every night, and he seems to love the fresh air.
  • On the other hand, we have determined that a large amount of Carter's crabbiness (which we attributed to gas or colic) was actually because he hates being hot.  We now leave him in just a diaper for pretty much the majority of the day and he seems to be a lot happier.
  • Carter is sleeping in his crib until between 3:00-4:30 am now.  I am thrilled with this.
  • I have been looking at this post all week, and still can't decide if it should be Whose or Who's.  Somebody help.
  • The weather is supposed to be incredibly warm this weekend.  Still not sure what we are doing for the long weekend, but hopefully it will include a lake or a pool!  Hopefully we can take Carter swimming for the first time.
For mor Friday Night Leftovers, click here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Maternity Leave-Who's Responsible?

Earlier this week, I found myself responding to comments on that were made on Facebook about paid maternity leave in response to this picture.

I do not usually involve myself in any sort of online debates, however, the comment that was made hit home with me as I am currently collecting Maternity Benefits.
Basically, the comment that was made was an opinion that it should be up to parents to pay for their own Maternity Leave, and that it is not the government's responsibility to have to pay parents because they decide to have families.  The commenter also spoke about paid Maternity Leave undermining the feminist movement and is insulting full time Stay at Home Moms (SAHMs) that do not get paid to raise their children.
Although I can see where this commenter was coming from (I am guessing she was from the US and did not receive any Maternity Leave benefits), I feel that she is very uninformed about how things work here in Canada.  I feel that I in some way (without starting a heated Facebook debate) have to defend my country and all of the families (including my own) who have benefited from Parental Leave Benefits.  I am speaking from my own experience, so please bear with me and do not judge me if your experience has been different.
So...most importantly, I have to clarify a major point about this picture.  This picture states that Canada provides 50 weeks of Maternity Leave, however, Canada actually provides 50 weeks of combined Maternity and Parental Leave.  The Maternity Leave portion is 13 weeks, and the remainder is Parental Leave which can be divided however the family chooses between mother and father.  Because of this fact, I do not believe that this system in any way undermines the feminist movement.  Further more, even if it were 50 weeks of Maternity Leave, I believe that there are fundamental differences between men and women, especially when it comes to child rearing and parenting.  A father does not endure the physical strain of carrying a child for 9 months, giving birth or breastfeeding.
It is also important to recognize that Maternity and Parental Benefits are not just a government handout, it is something that we pay for.  The government takes Employment Insurance premiums off of each pay check so that we will be provided with an income for a finite amount of time given that we cannot work due to layoff, having a child, etc. One must work and pay into this insurance for a certain amount of hours before we can collect.  This insurance policy is mandatory for all working people in Canada and premiums are based on income.  To give you an example, prior to collecting Maternity Benefits, I was paying approximately $36 biweekly towards this insurance.  Furthermore, I have been working consistently since I was 17 years old, am now 27, and this is the first time that I have ever collected.  After having all of my children, I will continue to pay into this plan until I retire, even though I am not likely to collect.  With this being said, I will likely pay more into this plan than I will ever collect through Maternity Benefits.
I do not believe that collecting Maternity Benefits should be in any way insulting to SAHMs as they do not pay into this plan.  They make the choice to be a SAHM, and I make the choice to work and have the assurance that I will receive an income and get my job back after I have children.
Finally, it must be known that it is in no way profitable to have children just to collect these benefits.  The government only provides 55% of your gross income during the period of Maternal/Parental leave, up to a maximum which varies by province (Manitoba maximum benefits are $413/week)-clearly not enough to get rich off of!
So, with all of this being said, I would like to say that although our system is not perfect here in Canada (which government program is perfect?), I feel very fortunate to be able to collect a modest income to start my child's life off right, and be guaranteed my job back when I have to go back to work.
I now invite you to respectfully comment on how you feel about paid Maternity/Parental Leave, or any of your own personal experiences.

Meal Plan

Again this week, we got through very few menu items.  The ones that we did try included:

Bacon Mushroom Swiss Meatloaf
This recipe was tasty, and is worth trying at least once, but I much prefer my usual Meatloaf Cordon Bleu, which will remain our go-to meat loaf recipe.  This might have been better if there was some sort of spice or seasoning in the meat, but it was overall just a bit bland for my liking.
Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Delicious.  Will definitely make these again, although it is not the healthiest carb choice.  I found them a bit spicy (I just put a shake of cayenne), but Ryan loved the heat.  Next time I will put a smaller shake of cayenne and let Ryan add more later.
Caramel Apple Pork Chops
Super easy recipe-definitely a keeper.  I don't think you can go wrong with apples and pork.

And one extra recipe that I wanted to share, as it is probably the best ice cream that I have ever tried, not to mention super easy:

Cheesecake Ice Cream
This Week's Recipes
Baked Vegetables
Crock Pot Coconut Ginger Chicken & Vegetables
Orzo with Parmesan and Basil
Drunken Pork Chops
Super Simple Shrimp Tacos

Monday, June 25, 2012

Attached Parenting

Lately I have heard the term "attachment parenting" tossed around quite a lot.  I was not really sure what it meant, but I found this definition on Wikipedia.

"Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears,[1] is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences."
"Principles of attachment parenting aim to increase development of a child's secure attachment and decrease insecure attachment."

Honestly, I really don't feel any wiser after reading this definition.  What I do know, however, is that attachment parenting has a lot to do with baby wearing, co-sleeping and breastfeeding.  I also know that that isn't what this post is about.
What this post is about is what Ryan thinks is my unhealthy attachment to Carter.  I didn't think that the bond would be so strong.
Over the past couple of weeks, Ryan has told me on several occasions that he thinks that I am getting "too attached".  Is that even possible?  How can a mother be too attached to her baby?  He feels that I am too quick to grab Carter when he cries.  That I should just let him cry it out a little bit.  He has been pushing to introduce the bottle to him.  He has scolded me when I tell him that I have brought Carter to bed without even trying to put him into the crib, because I can sleep better with him close to me instead of straining to hear if he is still making a sound in the next room.
In many cases, I think that Ryan is right.  That Carter won't suffer any long term emotional damage from me finishing my task before catering to him when he starts to cry.  That a bottle every now and then can allow me some more freedom, and that Carter isn't going to completely reject breastfeeding as a result.  That he isn't going to stop breathing in his crib.  I agree that these desires to be attached to him are coming more so from me than from him.  But I can't help it.
My most recent struggle revolves around leaving him with Ryan's mom for an entire day.  This coming weekend, there is a concert in our community that Ryan and I have planned on going to long before Carter was even born. We left some hints with Ryan's mom early on that we might need a babysitter, but we never really did ask her.  She, however, ended up taking the day off of work to babysit for us.
Now that Carter is here, however, I really don't feel ready to leave him for an entire day.  First off, he has had a couple of bottles that he has taken fine, but I don't know about him being bottle fed for an entire day.  He is also quite fussy in the evenings, and has been known to cry for hours on end.  I am fine with dealing with the crying, but it breaks my heart to think of him crying and me not being there to soothe him.  This concert is going to be late, so I also don't like the idea of him being put to bed by somebody else, in somebody else's house.  Finally, there is no cell phone service where we will be, and I hate the idea of Ryan's mom not being able to reach us if there is any problems.
Logically, I know that she can handle this.  She is a mom and a grandma, and this wouldn't be her first time dealing with a fussy baby.
Ryan says that we don't have to go, but I feel guilty if he misses this concert that he wanted so badly to see just because of me.  I also feel guilty if we don't go, because his mom took the day off of work.  But still, I can't bring myself to being OK with leaving Carter for a whole day.
So I am asking you what you all think.  I am not saying that it is going to change the way that I feel or what I do, but do you think that I should just suck it up and go to the concert, or do you think that I should follow my instincts and stay home with him?  When was the first time that you left your children with somebody else for an entire day?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers-Rain Rain Go Away Edition

  • It seems like this week has been rain, rain and more rain.  The grass is in desperate need of being cut, but it is too wet to do so.  Today, I was finally able to get some cloth diapers out on the line to dry, so hopefully the weekend stays this way.
  • At any given time, I am waiting for at least one parcel to arrive in the mail.  I am a online shopping addict.  My post-mistress must hate me, although, being such a small community, she does call me to let me know if there is something to be picked up.
  • This week, I tackled the task that I have been putting off for at least a good three months-getting Carter's name on daycare wait lists.  Luckily for me, the first one that I called informed me of an online registry in which I can register him for all of the licensed daycares in one spot.  What I thought would be a full day of phone calls turned into a 10 minute project.
  • This week, Ryan's sister and her family were visiting from Alberta.  They have a 6 month old little boy, and they brought a whole garbage bag of clothes for Carter.  
  • I can't believe the quantity of baby clothes in circulation.  I think that if there was some efficient way to redistribute them, nobody would ever have to purchase baby clothes again!
  • I am horribly behind on my PVRed episodes of the Bachelorette.  Now that I am a mother, I can't seem to find 2 hours to just sit and watch TV every week.
  • Does anybody know of any good cheap blog design services?  I would like to make my blog more visually appealing, but have no idea where to start.
  • I have been getting a lot of spam comments on my blog, but when I go to delete them, I can't find them.  Does this happen to anybody else?
  • This weekend, I am hoping to get outside and take some pictures.  I have yet to put all of my knowledge from last fall's photography classes to good use.
  • This week I read an article about getting free cloth diapers using Swagbucks.  I have signed up, and hope to earn enough to get at least something for free.  
For more Friday Night Leftovers, click here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

$415 Rag Rug Fail

I have never been a crafter.  I truly appreciate something hand made, but lack both the talent and the patience to turn ordinary materials into a work of art.  Knowing this didn't stop me from trying though.
When I found out that I was pregnant, I wanted to create a beautiful nursery on a budget.  I refused to purchase anything that would serve no purpose 5 years down the road. I wanted everything that was put into the nursery to be meaningful and special.  So I decided to make a braided rag rug.
You may have seen these before.  When done properly, they look something like this.
First, I visited Value Village to purchase some sheets for this project.  I chose a pale green and ivory.  My sister then gave me a set of beige sheets that she did not use to finish it off.  Cost of sheets-$10.
I then washed the sheets scored them, and tore them all into 1.5" strips.  Total time spent tearing-3 hours ($28.50 if charging minimum wage for my time).
After the sheets were in strips, I then went through them all and removed any stray threads.  I did this while watching TV over a couple weeks, but in total, it took me about 4 hours ($38).
Next, for each colour, I looped all of the 1.5" strips together and made them into balls, ready for braiding.  Again, this took me about 4 hours in total ($38).
Next came the most time consuming part-the braiding. I am not sure how others have done this, but when you have three giant balls of fabric to braid, it is very difficult to pass them over and under one another.  What resulted was me braiding about 1 foot, and then spending about 5 minutes de-tangling the fabric at the end closest to the balls.  Total braiding time-16 hours ($152).
Beginning of Braiding.  Looks really good when lying flat without being sewn.
The final step in completing the rug was sewing it together.  I have a general understanding of sewing techniques, but am no expert.  I decided to go with a zig-zag stitch to really hold it together.  Cost of thread-$6.  Total time spent sewing-15 hours ($142.50).
Beginning stages of sewing.  Should have known that it wasn't right at this point, but I thought it would flatten out as I proceeded.
I should have done a bit more research about the sewing part.  I thought that it looked pretty straight forward.  Turns out, however, that the first stitches are crucial.  The braids must be sewn together perfectly flat in the centre for the rest of the rug to be flat.  Failing to recognize this, my rug turned out looking more like a giant cone than a rug.  And to top it off, because I did a zig-zag stitch, it would have taken hours to remove and start again.
I tried flattening it. I wet it and placed heavy objects on it.  I even slept with it under my mattress for 2 weeks, but alas, it still looked like a cone.  Needless to say, the rug went in the garbage and I will never again attempt a DIY project of this magnitude again in hopes of saving a dollar.
Final product after weeks of trying to flatten.
Recognizing that it would have been cheaper to buy a rug-PRICELESS

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One Month

Sunday marked Carter's one month birthday.  I can't believe that a month has already passed.
Carter's birthday weekend was a busy one.  On Saturday, my family held a surprise baby shower for us, and then on Sunday, we had Carter baptized and then had a BBQ at our place.  I will post some pictures when I gather them.

Anyways, summing up Carter's first month...

We haven't had his height measured since the hospital, however, he is now 9 lbs 10.5 oz.

Things I don't want to forget:

  • The way that he throws his hands up in the air whenever he is startled.
  • How he can get his hands out of even the tightest swaddles.
  • How he always sleeps with his hands at his face.
  • The way that he gets little sideways smiles whenever we play pat-a-cake.
  • The way that he snuggles up really close to me in bed, no matter how far away I put him.
  • The way that he grunts and makes noises when he eats.
  • How he always calms down when his daddy rocks him.
  • How he always falls asleep in Papa's arms.
  • How he has gone from hating his bath, to giving little smiles when he is in the water.
  • The way that he hates to have a dirty diaper, but hates diaper changes equally as much.
Challenges/Lessons Learned:
  • We have found that he will sleep in his crib for the first part of the night, but when he wakes up, always wants to come to bed with mommy and daddy.  
  • We have figured out that Ovol is a necessity in keeping him comfortable in the evenings, or else he will scream bloody murder for hours on end as he tries to pass gas. 
  • We have figured out that he will inevitably start crying as if he is starving to death the moment that I put my supper on the table. 
Overall, this past month has had ups and downs, but I seem to forget the downs all too quickly.  Despite the bumps in the road that we have faced while we figure this little man out, I wouldn't trade a moment of this time for the world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Meal Plan

Again, this week, we didn't get through all of our menu items.  I am thinking that 5 picks/week is too many given our unpredictable lifestyle.
This week we ate out at Ryan's parents one night.  Another night, Ryan requested homemade pizza, so I deviated from my meal plan, and another night we were in town running errands until late afternoon so I ended up just throwing a frozen lasagna in the oven(thank goodness for all of my pre-baby freezer meals)!  Yesterday we had a picnic with friends and family, so I made a big crock pot of pulled pork.
These are the links to the recipes for my lasagna and pulled pork, in case you are interested.  These are both recipes that are tried and tested, and that I have made over and over again.
World's Best Lasagna
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork-only 3 ingredients!

And here is my critique of the two menu items that we did try:

Slow Cooker Jambalaya
I would definitely do this recipe again.  Both Ryan and I loved it.  I am not a huge spice fan, and this wasn't too spicy.  Ryan did add a bit extra cayenne pepper to his along with some parmesan cheese.  This recipe made enough for two meals for the two of us.
Slow Cooker Chicken
Again, I didn't follow this recipe to a T (I rarely do), but I wouldn't likely make it again.  I mis-read the recipe originally and thought that I needed liquid italian salad dressing, so I didn't have any of the powder once it came time to make it.  I used Epicure Greek dressing seasoning instead.  I also used Herb & Garlic cream cheese, because that is all that I had on hand.  This recipe was definitely palatable, however, I just felt that it was nothing special for what went into it-very similar to the good old mushroom soup pork chops, which are about a third of the work.  I may be frugal, but I want something spectacular if I am going to put good wine into it as well!

This week, I will be playing catch-up on my last week (and the week before's) menu plans.  Already, we have an invite out for supper tonight so hopefully we get through them all this week!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bedroom Renovation

In the beginning...
The quick fix.  All we did was added a coat of paint to the walls, and this is how we lived for two years.
Ryan added some electrical outlets,  a new window and smoothed and painted the walls.   This picture shows the paint true to colour, however, with natural light it reflects the burgundy carpet and actually looks lilac in colour.  I love it.  Ryan-not so much.
Close up of trim.  I think that the thick bevel is true to this era of house.
View of bedroom from entrance.
The left door is the entrance.  The right door is our closet (this door was originally wooden, and Ryan painted it white and added trim).
New walk-in closet.  Originally, it was divided in half with entrances to each closet from separate rooms.
Artwork gifted to us from some friends and colleagues when we left the Yukon.
This dresser may look like an eye-sore now, but it is the dresser that I have used since I was a little girl.  My plan is to one day sand it down, stain it a darker colour and add new hardware.
View from our bedroom window.  This is paradise to me.

Monday Meal Plan

Last week, I started using Pinterest to plan my meals.  You can check out last week's menu here.
We didn't make it through all of the menu items as we went on a road trip one day, which facilitated eating out, and Ryan brought home fresh fish another day.
Nonetheless, here is my critique of last week's menu items.

Cheesy Wild Rice Casserole
This recipe is definitely a do-over.  For the chicken, I sautéed two chicken breasts in butter along with generous amounts of garlic powder.  I then finely chopped it into the casserole.  This recipe says that it makes 8-10 servings, however, Ryan and I ate half of the recipe between the two of us, and ended up freezing the other half for another time.

Sweet Potato Fries

This is finally the sweet potato fry recipe that I have been searching for.  The cornstarch definitely makes the outside extra crispy.  We opted to deep fry them, but I would like to try them in the oven next time.  I served these with chipotle mayo made of mayonnaise and Chipotle Mrs. Dash.

Beef & Broccoli
I was unable to find oyster sauce at my local grocery store to make this recipe, so I chose this recipe instead.  In one word: FAIL!  In fairness to the author of the recipe, I have a really hard time following directions.  I didn't think that 3-4 minutes for the broccoli and 4-5 minutes for the meat was arequate cooking time, so I threw everything into my wok together, thinking that I would just cook it until it was done.  Unfortunately the meat never lost it's red colour, and the broccoli turned to mush, so we ended up throwing it out.  I am not sure whether the baking soda in the marinade would have caused the meat to keep its redness, despite thorough cooking.  Anyways, we will not use this recipe again.

Chicken Ranch Tacos

\Instead of rotisserie chicken, I used cubed chicken breast for this recipe.  I also added some avocado along with the other veggies.  This recipe is super easy, and turned out delicious, so we will definitely do it again.

For the Turkey Ranch Burgers, I was unable to get ground turkey for a decent price, so we will be making those this week instead.  I will be making the Slow Cooker Jambalaya tonight, so will let you know how it goes next week.

And for this week's recipes:

Slow Cooker Chicken

Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

Bacon Mushroom Swiss Meatloaf
Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Caramel Apple Pork Chops