Father's Day Video

Happy Father's day to all the amazing dad's out there.  I'm always amazed when I hear negative comments about dads not being able to do everything that moms do because, in our house, Corey is a parenting rock star!  Seriously, he changes most of the diapers, books doctor appointments, keeps track of meds, stocks the diaper bag, reads stories, does loads and loads of laundry and has still found time to work on the house!  Rudy and I are two lucky women indeed!

A few weeks ago, Erica Ehm, founder of YummyMummyClub.ca organized a video sponsored by Huggies and featuring four new dads.  Corey was (of course) my favourite participant and I think the video shares some sweet sentiments about fatherhood.

Wishing you all (especially all the caring fathers) a wonderful day!


Chairish Mix and Match Style Challenge

I was recently contacted by the Community Manager for Chairish, which is a curated buy and sell site for vintage furniture and accents.  She asked if I would make a style board using mid-century modern items from their site.

With the mid-century modern trend in full swing, I wanted to use some mid-century pieces in a more fun and modern way.  Many people don't realize how versatile this style really is!  Instead of the traditional mid-century colours (like burnt orange and avocado) I chose bright colours that felt young and fresh and paired them with gold accents and lots of neutral space (think white walls to let the eyes relax) and I created a living room inspiration board using Polyvore.

Here's a link to my set.  Do any of you use Polyvore?  I think I'll be using it more often.  I've never really reached pro-level on Pinterest and I like that Polyvore will help you make style boards.  What do you think?

Mother's Day

Photo by Lew D'Souza

This was my first Mother's Day as a mother and Corey splurged on a pair of gold stud earrings to commemorate the special day.  I worked in the morning but we spent the afternoon with my mother, who played with Rudy while Corey and I relaxed and watched a movie.  It felt like a vacation!

Aptly timed, Saturday was RLP's annual Garage Sale for Shelter and I spent the morning volunteering at my brokerage to help raise money for women's shelters.  It seemed appropriate, right before Mother's Day, to help support mothers in our community who have left their homes in order to provide a safe life for their children.

Although my mother is low-maintenance and never wants a fuss, she is definitely reading this and I want her to know that my appreciation of her has deepened now that I am a mother too.  I finally understand the root of her unconditional love, unwavering support and saint-like patience and yet, I still feel that Rudy will be lucky if I am a fraction as good to her as my mother was (and still is) to me.

My mother always worked a demanding job, and yet she still found time to play with us, teach us things, read us stories and cuddle with us every night, take us camping, help with homework, take care of pets, volunteer on class trips, plan birthday parties, help navigate grade school friendship drama, volunteer as a girl guide leader... the list goes on!  How did she do it?  Maybe I'll learn her secret someday.

For now, I just want to thank her for being the best mother, role model, cheerleader, friend and mentor that I could ever ask for!  I don't know what we would have done if she hadn't moved in for three weeks when Rudy was born since neither Corey nor I had the first clue what to do with a baby!

Cheers to the amazing moms (and Nanas) everywhere!


DIY Stretch Headbands

Even when I'm working crazy long days, I'm a sucker for a DIY project to unwind.  We dress Rudy in a lot of hand-me-downs (Thank you, generous friends!) and she often ends up looking very gender neutral.   

While it doesn't bother us when people tell us we have such a big handsome boy (We just say "thanks!") sometimes a headband or bow makes it easy for strangers to know what to say.  We've been getting compliments on Rudy's headbands lately, which inspired this post. 

I bought some fabric in a stretch jersey knit and experimented with two styles: a simple knot (shown in teal) and (as seen in the grey and pink) a turban-style.  For the turban-style, I also sewed a line of stitching up the back so that it doesn't come undone.

The fabric makes it really stretchy over Rudy's head and the fabric was really cheap and I have lots left in case I'm ever ambitious enough to make her actual clothing.

I decided to sew these by hand, since they're so simple (or SEW simple, haha) but if I were attempting a larger project, I'd use my machine and make sure I bought a ball-point needle for the stretch jersey.

For now, I'll stick with simple headbands.  :)

Note: If you're shopping online, try fabric.com because they have a great selection.  I might try a pattern like this, this or this!


On Being the Co-Parent

Thanks to Danielle Perelman for this amazing photo.

At this point in Rudy's life, Corey's the primary parent and I'm the co-parent.  One is not better than the other- It's just the way it works for us.  I want to talk about it a little because our family isn't the norm, but I suspect there are a growing number of families who can relate to this post.

As a family, we always knew that it made more financial sense for us for me to continue working and for Corey to take parental leave.  Before Rudy was born, we worried about how the other electricians on his job site would react to his taking parental leave.  We were pleasantly surprised when, aside from the odd "maternity leave" jab, the guys were pretty supportive.  I had no idea I would face my own stigmas as a mom who "rushed" back to work.  We were even more surprised when Corey encountered his own in the world of new parents, where so much is geared towards moms.

Thanks to Michael Budd for this photo. xo

The first time I described Corey as the "primary parent" the words stung me.  The implication that I was parenting on a lower tier really hurt.  Of course, what I meant was that he does the day-to-day stuff and I make an effort to make sure my time with Rudy is quality time.  This means that Corey may know more about her routine or what she likes and dislikes at any given time, but it also means that he and I make an effort to communicate constantly so that I'm always up to speed as well.

My schedule tends to be dynamic so if I'm around, I'll often take over a feed or play time so that I get to experience different parts of Rudy's day.  I feel lucky for this because many parents who work 9-5 jobs don't get this.  There's a downside though and my days are often LONG.  Often, I'm not home for bedtime and occasionally, I'll miss all her waking hours but as she gets older, I'll be able to facetime with her before bed and I know she'll understand that we take the bad with the good in life.  Hopefully, she'll know that I'm working so hard for our family and especially for her.

I think the fact that I'm not always around has made me far more committed to breastfeeding than I ever expected to be.  My supply was never great, and we supplemented with formula from day one, but the first time she refused to breastfeed at all, I cried.  I have now been pumping for weeks to store enough breastmilk that she can have an ounce or two each day this fall, for the first few weeks of daycare.  Knowing I can give her something that nobody else in the world can has felt special and empowering and, despite my disdain for pumping, it has kept me going for months.

Still, I have moments where I feel the pain of not being the primary parent.  I'm usually reminded when I can't find something in her diaper bag, don't know what dose of medicine she takes, can't answer all the questions at her doctor's appointments or when I'm not the one she reaches for when she's upset.

I've bypassed so many of the markers we are conditioned to use to measure our worth as mothers that I have been forced to redefine what being a good mother means to me.  Whenever I hear that little voice in my head, which is fed by our society and tells me I'm not "mom enough" I think of my responses:

I hated pregnancy.  Yes, that's true... but I carried Rudy safely to term and worked throughout so that we could remain financially healthy.  My body may not have loved being pregnant but it grew a very healthy baby.

I had a c-section and never even tried to deliver naturally.  Sure, that's true as well, but I got my baby out safely after a tough pregnancy and I did it on my own terms.

I never breastfed exclusively.  Also true, but I willingly gave her formula without a second thought when she was losing too much weight.  I invited her dad to share the bond of feeding her because I knew that I wouldn't be around for many feeds and it was important for her to establish a routine with the person who would.  I also tried to breastfeed for as long as I could even though I didn't enjoy it but when it was time to stop, I didn't let it take away from my self-worth or my enjoyment of my daughter.

I went back to work within weeks of Rudy's birth.  That's also true but I work to provide for my family and one day, Rudy will learn that her parents worked as a team and played to their own strengths and that she got the more patient and cuddly parent at home for the first eight months of her life.

She doesn't cling to me the way other babies cling to their moms.  But I'm lucky there too.  It would be so hard to leave her if she weren't so independent.  She's my little firecracker already.

When I see Corey with Rudy, I know we made the right choice and I know that each day when I come home from work, my patience has been restored and I can't wait to play and snuggle with Rudy.  In that way, working has made me a better mother because I take so much joy in the time I get with Rudy and Corey gets to bond with her while I'm at work and focus his attention on renovating our house while I'm home!  There are many days where I can list "tummy time" as a highlight.

Or music class!

One day, Rudy may ask about her first year of life and I'll happily explain that I loved spending time with her but I also loved my work and that her dad happily (and unselfishly) postponed his own career for eight months so that one of us would always be around for the important early months.  I'll tell her how good it made me feel to come home to her smiles and babbles and how lucky she was to have such a "hands on" dad who made up silly songs just to make her giggle.

The thing that has made our situation easier is my partnership with Corey.  Despite the fact that he's doing far more of the parenting right now, he keeps me informed and we both get an equal say... even if we disagree.  (Recently, we were in negotiations over when to begin solid foods.)  He never treats me as the lesser teammate, which has made all the difference!  I may not always be home for Rudy, but I certainly chose her the best dad!

I've read so many judgmental articles lately bashing both working moms and stay-at-home moms and I think it's such a shame that we feel the need to boost our own choices by chipping away at the choices others have made.  I have working friends and stay-home friends and, guess what?  We all work damn hard!  While Corey and I may be more relaxed about some aspects of parenting, we have friends who identify as attachment parents and we think their kids are great... just like Rudy!  I think it's important to remember that feminism gives us all the right to chose our own path based on what works for us and our families.


Our Weird Family Room

Remember our disastrous family room from the day we moved in?  The family room addition was one of the things that drew us to our new/old house but it was in rough shape aesthetically.  It was poorly insulated, had cheap laminate flooring, an exposed brick wall (it was an addition to the house) that someone had attempted to paint but had stopped after a few bricks, it was bright pink and it had a sketchy shower in the corner.

One of the previous owners had mobility issues and we think this addition was built as a bedroom.  The shower probably allowed her to avoid the stairs as much as possible.  Initially, I hated the shower but during our bathroom reno, I was grateful for it and so we left it and the room remained untouched and just sort of became a dumping ground for overflow from the kitchen... until recently.

Here are some photos of the room before we started working on it:

Behind the shower is a (formerly) exterior window leading to the kitchen.

It was finally time to fix the ugly pink blemish at the back of our house.  Corey removed the shower and framed and drywalled the window.

We knew the brick was going to be really challenging to paint, so he "Dextered" the room in plastic.

He also removed the laminate and bought a paint sprayer to cover all the old brick.  Yes, we would have left the exposed brick unpainted had it been in prettier condition and not already partially painted.

He used the paint sprayer to prime the walls in white.  We're going to continue our kitchen paint colour into the family room and we also wanted both rooms to have the same flooring. 

We knew the Marmoleum from the kitchen would provide some cushion and insulation but, even after Corey used spray foam around the edges of the walls, the room felt chilly.

Our solution (thanks to a friend's recommendation) was to buy DriCore tiles, which are plastic on the bottom with a raised pattern.  They're great for basements because the plastic side faces down and the air pockets serve to trap heat but also to provide a path for moisture to travel without ruining the floor.  For our purposes, we liked the idea of an additional layer of insulation and we read that it would raise the temperature of the room by about 3 degrees Celcius.

So Corey and my brother laid the DriCore under the Marmoleum and the unfinished room already looks so different!

Here's Corey standing with a rubber duckey in the spot where we were showering last summer!

Soon, we'll be ready to paint.  We have some fun ideas for this room!


One Year Ago

One year ago today I was enjoying a well-deserved day off.  After an exceptionally busy March and early April, I had arrived home from work the night before and polished off several glasses of wine.  It was my day off and I felt a little odd that morning.

I had purchased my first two-pack of pregnancy tests the week before because Corey and I had agreed that a December or August baby would work well with my work schedule.  We didn't expect it to happen and were prepared to try again late in the fall for an August 2015 delivery.  We were just sure we wouldn't be those lucky people who get pregnant really easily and we had prepared ourselves for a long road.

Our upstairs bathroom was currently under renovation and I remember taking the test in the basement bathroom before driving Corey to work.  I didn't wait long enough and tossed the test as soon as I didn't see a second line developing.  I didn't even want to tell him because I felt silly for getting my hopes up.  It wasn't until later that morning that I pulled the test out of the waste basket and saw a faint pink line that changed my life forever.

Corey and I often laugh at the degree of shock he felt when I told him.  I believe the phrase he used was something like "But we only pulled the goalie, we weren't really trying!"

So much has happened in this past year and, as my stretch marks begin to fade, Corey and I still remember how worried and nervous we were in the beginning.  For those of you with kids, you know what I mean: Isn't it sort of surreal and... well... terrifying in the beginning?  I think I must have spent days worrying about how I wouldn't be able to swear... or walk around in my underwear... or sleep in... or make irresponsible decisions anymore.  Then there was budgeting the cost of a baby, which made my head spin.  I kept having these crazy thoughts like OMG, We're going to have to keep the bathroom sooo clean so the baby doesn't think we're slobs.  Luckily, it's one of those things that's going to happen no matter what so you sort of have to jump on the train!

Having Rudy in our family feels like the most natural thing in the world now... Just like another member of our team.  It's funny how that works, right?  I can't believe one year ago she was our abstract and scary future and now we have a bright, babbling and animated little girl who imitates the noises we make, puts everything in her drooly mouth, tries to suck our faces when we kiss her and makes every day so SO special.

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