Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How I am NOT Spoiling My Child

On how I am not spoiling my child

      Okay, time to rant a little. If you aren’t into the rant thing and don’t want to hear it, click here for a much nicer, not angry post. If you are into the rant thing, please continue!

    You know what really grinds my gears? The seven words I’m willing to bet every mother on here has heard at some point or another: You are going to spoil that child. Only it’s not just the words that tick me off. It’s the fact that other mothers are saying it. It’s also the fact that they are saying it over something as simple as cuddling and rocking my seven month old to sleep. That’s right. The most recent event to spur this discussion (because yes, it has happened before) was from a mother who witnessed me rocking my baby girl while she dozed in my arms. I have heard this from others (friends, family, strangers I just met…) but for some reason I felt the need to defend myself this time. With my fur bristled and my claws out (metaphorically of course) I informed the woman that this isn’t an all the time thing, that my little girl is going through some kind of growth spurt and has been fussy all day.
    Only here’s the thing: that was a lie. I defended my actions by saying it didn’t happen every day when in reality it does. I love nursing my daughter to sleep, I love rocking her, holding her, baby wearing her, and spending my days giving the vast majority of my time and attention to her. This mother overstepped her boundaries and criticized the way I parent. People say over and over again not to create these bad habits, to start early in creating an independent child. But here’s the thing: how is holding my daughter now going to spoil her in the future?
Sure, I can understand if I’m giving a toddler candy every day. I can understand if I never make her do chores when she is older, or let her skip veggies and go straight to dessert, or if I buy her things all the time. But giving love and creating a special bond with an infant is NOT spoiling a child. Especially at these young ages, children know only a handful of things. Making sure they understand mommy loves them and is always there to make them feel safe and secure cannot possibly be spoiling them. Will my child be a brat because we cuddle together for naps? I don’t think so. Will she be a torment because I choose to walk her around the nursery rocking her when she is inconsolable? I highly doubt it.
Finally, I plea to mothers out there: Stop it already. Stop judging how other mothers choose to parent. Am I hurting her? Am I causing psychological damage? NO. I am doing the best I can as a first time mother, and while I appreciate the advice, your accusations that I am
“spoiling” my child are ridiculous. Glass houses, people. Shall I tell you what kind of damage you are doing to your child with your parenting methods? No?

Shut up. Rant over.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Breastfeeding Advice From a First Time Mom

breastfeeding tips and advice from a first time mom
    Okay, I realise I’m no expert in breast feeding. I’m not a lactation consultant, or medical professional, but I am a mom. A mom who (until starting solids at six months) exclusively breastfed Little Miss, and still does. I love it! Thankfully she was pretty easy with it (we had some issues but nothing dramatic), and I feel bad for any mother who tries to breastfeed and struggles in any way, from a lip tie on a child to supply issues. I wanted to share my experiences with it, and offer tips that I hope will help other mothers who wish to breastfeed their baby.
  1. Find support. I went online, but most places offer local help. I joined what is referred to as a Birth Board, where thousands of mothers with babies the same age as you converge to both seek and offer help to other mothers. The best part about these boards (or maybe the worst to some) is that there are all different kinds of women on here, and they all are sleep deprived and full of hormones. It’s funny sometimes, and other times it’s absolutely ridiculous, and sometimes it’s super helpful and informative. Every board is different.
  2. Drink water. You’ve probably heard this before but drink a crap ton of water. This is the single most effective way to help, as your body is using water at a very rapid pace, and without it not only will your supply suffer, but you will too, with headaches and constant thirst. Try for 100 ounces of water every day.
  3. Don’t get adventurous with your eating. Little Miss can tell when I eat certain foods, even if I just try to casually slip it into my meal. It usually involves super garlicky foods or spicy foods, and certain veggies like cabbage. But on the other hand, don’t try to always be perfect, either. Things like coffee are part of this too, as many mothers swear caffeine makes their child wired or fussy. I have found no such problem, as long as I’m reasonable. Many mornings I’ll have a coffee with my breakfast and then feed her before a nap and she will sleep for an hour or two (yes, I nurse her to sleep. That is a conversation for another post lol). I have heard through the grapevine (but don’t know for sure) that by eating a variety of foods while breastfeeding your baby becomes accustomed to different tastes and will be a less picky eater. Here’s hoping, right?
  4. Co Sleeping. I know this one isn’t exactly recommended by many professionals for safety reasons, and I limit my co sleeping to a part time basis (2-3 hours a night), but I try to do it safely and with purpose, such as when baby is teething or going through a growth spurt. Co sleeping allows your baby to cluster feed and comfort nurse. The constant sucking tells your body that baby needs more milk, and since this is a supply and demand situation, more demand naturally means more supply. It also allows mommy to get more sleep. Little miss and I have taken over the spare room for our co sleeping.
  5. Keep your phone handy. I can’t tell you how crucial this is for me, because when I nursed Little Miss to sleep or needed something and couldn’t get up it was like a life line. Nothing like texting Hubby that I’m thirsty or need a snack, or seeing what time it was or just for entertainment. Often I would turn on soft music or use a white noise app to help baby sleep. You might even be surprised to know that when pumping or nursing, looking at pictures of baby and thinking about the happiness they bring to your life will actually cause you to produce more!
  6. Eat Oatmeal. Most mornings I have oatmeal for breakfast, and not only does it help fuel me in the morning, it naturally increases milk production. There are other products too (teas and herbal supplements), but they aren’t as tasty.
  7. Supply equals demand. If you are worried about supply issues, pump in between nursing sessions. I did not do this as I nursed on demand (and hated every second of pumping), but in retrospect it might have been beneficial in order for me to produce more to have a “freezer stash”. Again, more demand means more supply.
  8. Try not to worry about it. Lots of moms worry that their baby isn’t getting enough when they nurse. True, you don’t know how much they eat (unless you weigh baby before and after on a baby scale), but trust in your baby’s satisfaction after eating and weight gain. Your baby should have at least 6-8 wet diapers a day. Don’t think that pumping is an adequate measure of how much your baby is getting either, as your baby is much more efficient at getting to the milk than your pump. They could be getting as much as double what you see in the bottle at the end of a pump session.
  9. Don’t skip a session. Leaving your little one at Grandma’s so you and Hubby can get some alone time? If you are, and you’re leaving your baby with a bottle of pumped milk, it’s super important that you pump when your baby would normally feed. The reason is simple: if your baby misses a feeding, your body thinks the baby doesn’t need that feeding. Then it stops producing the great results you worked so hard to achieve. Also, if you do miss a session (it does happen, we aren’t perfect) you will become engorged. Not only is this painful and could potentially cause mastitis (yikes), but it is hard for a baby to drink from an engorged breast. Not only is latching harder, but the force of the let down makes them choke on the milk, or spit up from drinking too fast. The only time this doesn’t apply is when baby starts sleeping through the night (which still has not happened for us, 7 months in). Once baby learns to sleep through the night, it’s okay to give up the night feeding. If you’re really motivated to build a freezer stash this is the perfect time to do so. Baby won’t miss it since they are sleeping peacefully, and your body naturally produces more milk at night!
  10. Don’t supplement if all is going well. If your baby’s doctor is satisfied with the weight gain of your child and everything is going pretty well, don’t introduce formula. Again, supply and demand comes into play, and every feeding you supplement with formula is a feeding your body thinks it doesn’t need. Also, the back and forth of formula and milk may upset your baby’s tummy. Of course there will be times when you think you aren’t possibly making enough milk. This is especially true during growth spurts, when it seems as though your baby is glued to your boob. Don’t worry. Your body knows what to do and all that time your baby is cluster feeding tells your body to start producing more, this kid is hungry.

    I’m sure I’m missing some good tips. They will naturally come to me after I post this, making me want to kick myself for not thinking of it sooner. I hope it helps you mothers who are struggling with breast feeding, as all these tips helped me to relax and go with the flow. My little girl is now seven months old, and we have no plans on stopping any time soon!

    Thank you so much for reading this long post. Gold star for making it to the end! Please feel free to leave your comments, questions or tips to anyone else reading. Happy nursing!

If you liked this post you may also like:

The Basics of Baby Led Weaning

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A Little Bit About Me

   Hello there, wonderful readers! I’m sure since you clicked on a link to this page you’re probably looking for a little bit of information about myself, and what my little bloggity blog is all about! (That’s why you clicked on the About Me link, right?)
Me on my wedding day!
    My name is Nicole, and my blog is a look into my life as a mommy, a small town gal, and a DIY florist. I post a variety of things, like learning to be a first time mommy and all the wonderful adventures that come with it. I also like to talk about the wonderful quirks of living in a small town and just for fun I throw in some DIY floristry tips from my past career as a florist.
    Of course, this is all new to me. Blogging is so much fun and I’m learning every day! My favorite part about the experience so far is probably getting to connect with readers like yourself, chatting about any and all kinds of subjects, and of COURSE, hearing what you have to say, and any tips you might have for little old me!
    Obviously these things are wonderful, but incase you’re wondering about the nitty gritty of my life, here are some interesting facts you may or may not know about me! (You probably don’t know any of these facts since you have never actually met me. I think.)

Interesting(ish) Things About Me:
  • I am a first time mommy to a beautiful seven month old little girl. She is the light of my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing her into our lives.
  • I own four cats. I’m not a full blown crazy cat lady, but I’m getting there.
  • I have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, specializing in drawing and painting. Completely useless for most jobs, but a total passion of mine and an incredibly fun 4 years of my life so I count it as a win.
  • I love to cook, but I’m pretty bad at it. Most things end up burnt. Or raw in the middle. Or both. The smoke detector is essentially a dinner bell in my household.
  • I love watching Youtube vlogs more than television, for the most part. My favorite Youtuber is Shaycarl (The Shaytards), followed by the Vlogbrothers and Charles Trippy (CTFxC). If you do not know what I’m talking about, check out their channels on Youtube, become addicted and come back here to tell me about your new obsession.
  • I have always wanted to be a stay at home mommy. In fact, my plan is to give up a successful career as a banker at the end of my maternity leave. I will be going back to waitressing in the evenings in order to spend my days at home with my daughter, while I work on starting my own business in online marketing. Many people think I’m crazy for doing this. Sometimes I am one of those people.
  • I am a coffee addict. Not the fancy shmancy latté kind of coffee, but really really good, hot, dark roast with just a tiny bit of sugar and juuuust enough milk to say I don’t take my coffee black. I live for it. I go to bed at night excited that the next morning I get to have coffee.

Questions? Comments? Please, let me hear them! Thanks for reading my ramblings, and I do hope this was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Basics of Baby Led Weaning

The Basics of Baby Led Weaning from a beginner
 I’ve been reading up on this Baby Led Weaning everyone’s been talking about, and I’m excited to say that tonight I finally tried it! Little Missy has been eating purées for about a month now, and while it’s adorable, it’s a time consuming process and I’m looking forward to proper food for her.

Getting messy with spoon feeding
    I wanted to wait for a few reasons to start BLW until Little Miss was ready. Although she had doubled her birth weight, she was unable to sit up on her own unassisted. Until now. This last week she seems to have finally gotten the hang of it! So while I unpacked the groceries one day I steamed a little fresh broccoli and decided to see what would happen.

She loved it!

    It was so exciting! She was eating real food! She chewed and smiled and babbled, and when it was gone she got sad. Sure most of it ended up in her lap (still not as messy as a purée) but just by the simple act of chewing on broccoli, she got a bigger, a little more dependant….and a whole lot cuter!

    So what is this Baby Led Weaning, anyways? Long story short: Baby eats what you eat. Steamed veggies, pieces of fruit and meat and cheese and get the picture. (Keep in mind there are things like honey and milk, which should be avoided in the first year. Please research first if you are unsure.)

    I know what you’re thinking. This has to be a choking hazard, doesn’t it? Not really. Things like grapes should be cut because it’s an ideal size and shape for a choking hazard, but in general your baby will respond to her gag reflex and not put too much in her mouth. Most of the food gets smooshed and dropped/thrown/smeared anyways. A good thing to remember is food before one is just for fun. They aren’t eating to fill themselves in the first year as their primary food source is breast milk or formula. It’s the perfect time to let kids be kids and play with their food. It’s so much fun for them!

    There are a lot of pros when it comes to BLW too, the first of which I discovered as soon as we sat down to eat. Usually I would be spooning food to her while I ate, and inevitably have to stop eating to clean up the mess from her wanting to play with the spoon, and having her cry if it took too long. This time though, it was the most pleasant meal we’ve had in a very long time. She played with her broccoli, chewed, smiled, watched us. Participated in meal time. When all her broccoli was shredded, dropped, and chewed we gave her another piece and continued to eat.
    It’s so simple with food prep too, because you are just giving her what you eat. Chicken breast? Shred a little and see if she likes it. Veggies? Just make sure they aren’t too salty or over spiced. Which brings me to the next great thing about Baby Led Weaning: It makes you and your family eat healthier. I steamed enough broccoli to have a large serving myself, and dished some of the raw stuff onto Hubby’s plate. Had I been busy with purées and spoon feeding it may have ended up being fries. When you feed your family healthy foods you eat healthy foods, and that is always an added bonus!

    I’ve also heard that it can help your little one to be less of a picky eater. Wouldn’t that be splendid? A child who ate a wide variety of veggies, ethnic foods, and was willing to try new things? Only time will tell, but if that is the case, put another point in the pro column for Baby Led Weaning.

    I’m so happy I came across this method of feeding my daughter. I was not enjoying the blended foods and messy spoon feeding and frankly, she seems MUCH happier eating mommy and daddy’s foods. I’m so excited to start making family dinners!

Please leave your comments below and share your experiences!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

How to Decorate (or Re-decorate) a Christmas Wreath Like a Florist

How to redecorate a Christmas wreath using wire

Although I am no longer a professional florist, I still have a very healthy appetite for floristry as a hobby. For years I worked as a florist in my small town, and loved every minute of it. Now I take a great deal of pleasure in creating holiday arrangements for my home!

    One of my favorite arrangements is the humble wreath. This year I’m tackling an old Christmas wreath (I can’t even remember where it came from) and transforming it to new glittery levels with some dollar store poinsettias and bits and bobs from around the house. Here is what I will be using:

Supplies for decorating a Christmas wreath

  1. Old Christmas wreath
  2. Scissors
  3. Floral wire
  4. Wire cutters
  5. Assortment of floral decorating ‘picks’
  6. Candle and matches (missing from image)

    I’m opting to use wire instead of hot glue. The reason why I choose to use wire is three fold: a) I was taught using “old school” floristry techniques and prefer using it due to it’s strength  and flexibility and b) wire allows the pieces to be changed out easily so that I can re decorate the wreath every year, and c) you can bend, shape and fluff the wreath after storage! If you are decorating your own wreath and don’t want to take the extra couple steps to use wire, you can use glue if you really want;)

    Also, I know the photos are not as bright and beautiful as they could be. Full disclosure: I am not a good photographer. I borrowed a camera from my friend to take these photos and thought I could try manual. SMH...needless to say if anyone knows any tips, tricks or blogs I could read to improve my skills, I would greatly appreciate it!

Original Christmas Wreath
The original wreath.

    First things first, I’m going to remove the bits I don’t want. Like I said, this was an old wreath in a box that never got opened last year. I want this wreath to be red and silver, so I’m starting by removing the green and gold ribbon and gold bits (keeping for another project)and fluffing up the remaining greens and reds. If the wreath contains hot glue, now is where you curse it. Hot glue makes it hard to take pieces off the artificial fir cleanly, so some of it ends up getting cut.

    Next, I’m going to take apart my flowers from the large stem by snipping them off with wire cutters, or tearing them out of the paper wrap. Now is a good time to test run where everything will go loosely on the wreath. Here is a general idea of how I would like my wreath to look:

Christmas wreath assembly

I then take any pieces that do not have enough wire to securely attach to the wreath and add wire. In order to attach small pieces to the wire I light the candle (for optimum festivity make it a Christmas scented candle) and heat up just the tip of the wire.

Once the wire is heated to glowing (2 or 3 seconds depending on wire thickness), quickly pierce the hard plastic stem at the base of the flower head. Pull the wire through several inches and and snip, leaving several inches on either end. (Whatever is comfortable, the ends will be snipped off so better too long than too short, but I like to loop the wire 1-3 times around the wreath while securing other pieces, so I’m giving myself lots of extra) I then grab the base of the flower and give one side of the wire a couple quick tight wraps around the plastic stem just to stop it from potentially wobbling.

Any pieces of twigs or berries can be wired by looping through the branches and wrapping tightly around the base like this:

I also like to take some of the leaves off and wire them to the wreath to fill up what is already there. In order to do that fold the leaf in half, heat the wire and pierce the leaf about half way up the leaf, in the center:

 Pinch the base of the leaf and give a couple tight twists and trim the wire to size. By putting the wire in the center of the leaf you can reposition the leaf after you attach it to the wreath.

Once all the floral pieces requiring longer wire stems are wired, I begin attaching them to the wreath. start by threading your wire through part of the wreath and wrapping and twisting until secure. Make sure you trim all your wire ends and stick them into the wreath so you don’t accidentally poke your finger. I’m telling you this because I know from experience. It hurts.
Finally, I like to wrap the spool of wire around the finished product to secure the pieces from the high winds we experience here. Be careful not to bring the wire over any floral pieces, pinning them down.

Once all the pieces are wired and placed in the wreath I add finishing touches like ribbon, etc. I’m going to use some silver wire from a former project and wrap it around the exposed grape vine to add a bit of holiday sparkle:)

Decorating a Christmas Wreath: The final product

And that’s it! Done! Because everything is secured with wire the wreath can be fluffed up, it’s sturdy and redecorating is as simple as snipping a wire and removing! The whole project took just under 2 hours, including stopping to take pictures and fielding a phone call from a telemarketer.
 I hope you enjoyed my tutorial, please comment below what you thought! And if you have any requests for a floral project please let me know:)

If  you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

12 Christmas Traditions From Our Family to Yours

Monday, 10 November 2014

Twelve Christmas Traditions From Our Family to Yours


      Seeing as I’m still pretty new to the big world of blogging, I had to think long and hard about what I wanted to post. I mean people will actually read this (maybe), and heaven forbid I choose a potentially boring subject, or even worse, something that may be embarrassing in the future (the internet IS forever, after all). After wracking my brain for days trying to decide which of my loves I would write about for you fine folks, I went to Walmart to buy kitty litter. I decided to hit the seasonal section to see the new Christmas selection. Halloween is over and the remnants of candy have made it’s way to the clearance rack. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew what I had to write about.


    Oh yes, there are two types of people in the world. Those who cringe and scoff at the festive baubles and the sparkles that appear in every retail outlet from the big box store to the humble flea market in mid October. Then there are those who head straight to the seasonal section the very second Halloween items are sent to clearance racks. Awestruck by the glitter, holly and pine-y magic that only Christmas can bring, I am almost embarrassed to say that I am the latter. I try to contain my excitement until November, and don’t put up any decorations until after Remembrance Day, but trust me, In my head I’ve been singing Christmas Carols since September.

In our house we hold strong to the idea of tradition. Some of our traditions are old, coming from mine and Hubby’s childhood. Others are new ones we made together as a couple. Now that our little miss is with us celebrating her very first Christmas, it’s important that we create even more traditions that will include her. No wonder people celebrate the entire month of December! How else do you fit in all the wonderful traditions that the holidays bring?

I decided to share some of our Christmas traditions, both old and new. Some we are planning to do for the first time this year, and others are ones that are decades old. Some of these ideas are silly and simple, others deep and meaningful, but all of them happen in our house in December, and each one would be missed if it were forgotten.

  1. Egg Nog. I don’t know who invented this stuff but I search for it starting in mid November. Hubby hates it, but it was liquid gold in my house! We would always buy the first carton we saw when it hit the shelves, and there would be eggnog in our fridge until New Year’s. 

  2. Pajamas on Christmas Eve. We both did this as children and I am looking now for Little Miss’s first pair of Christmas pajamas. I feel like this tradition is something that pretty much everyone does, and I’m not sure why it’s so important, but it is. You get it. I bet you do it too.   

  3. Tree Decorating Party. This is one Hubby and I came up with the first year we had a Christmas tree together. We invited our closest friends for supper, drinks and tree trimming. Well, what a time we had! Everyone brought an ornament to adorn on the tree, I cooked a chicken dinner and we drank and listened to Christmas music. I even put a little 13” television on a chair and played a yule log dvd and pinned stockings to it. We made the cutest, ugliest tree I’d ever seen. I was so proud of it! Then the cat wrecked it. This tradition we will probably tone down this year for little miss, but even if it’s just a bottle of wine between mommy and daddy, and decorating the tree while we eat chicken and watch movies, I will still cherish the memories we made .

  4. Making Ornaments. In my house growing up, we made our ornaments. There was no pretty tree until we were teenagers. Just a whole lot of  glitter, ribbon, popcorn, and pom poms. Even when Hubby and I got together, I would still (in my twenties) sit on the floor making ornaments out of random objects like spoons, corks, twigs and pine cones. I fully expect to do the same with  Little Miss.

  5. Dinner with Family on Christmas Eve. Why have one huge meal when you can have two? This is one of Hubby’s traditions. I have no family in the small city we live in, but Hubby has his parents, and an aunt and uncle. Every year  on Christmas Eve Hubby and his family would walk up the hill to his aunt and uncle’s house and have a beautiful steak dinner, with coffee and this amaaaazing buttery cake and liqueurs afterward. The adults also indulged in one (or five) glasses of rum, wine or beer. All I know is, I can’t wait for that dang cake. Seriously, it is the best cake ever, and from what I gather the recipe is somewhat of a secret.

  6. Opening a gift Christmas Eve. Again, I think this one is done by more than just our household. I can only assume some parent somewhere got sick of their child asking to open one they gave in, and thus a tradition was born.

  7. Chocolate Initials. My grandparents immigrated to Canada from Holland, and growing up they would always send these Dutch Chocolate Letters in our Christmas package for each of our initials. You can get something similar in stores here, and I have always sought out our initials to put in our stockings.

  8. Attending Church in the month of December. I try to make it to church as often as I can, but honestly don’t go nearly as much as I should.  I never went to church growing up but now that I have Little Miss I wanted to teach her about our Saviour Jesus Christ. The winter of my pregnancy I decided to start attending church in order to learn more about it. I went to Hubby’s childhood church on a random Sunday and found it to be the day they lit the first advent candle. The children from Sunday School Class had made special craft wreaths and the priest spoke beautifully of the meaning of advent. I knew then and there I wanted to center Christmas around Christ for my child, and thus decided to make sure no matter how busy our lives got, we would attend church for advent, to remind us of why we were so busy planning our celebration.

  9. Advent Calendars. Yeah, I’m talking about the cheap cardboard sheets with generic imagery and sub par chocolate hiding behind little hidden doors. I might spring for better chocolate but how can you not love these? Especially since in my house we got to open ours first thing in the morning, thus ensuring we had chocolate for breakfast every day.

  10. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Every. Single. Year. Usually more than once.  I might even say this is my favorite movie of all time.

  11. Giving to those in need. I might not always be able to do big grand gestures, but I take time out around Christmas to help those in need and to serve in the name of the Lord. Sometimes that is donating my change to the Salvation Army, or bringing toys to a toy drive, or donating food to a food bank. We remind ourselves not only of how blessed we are, but of  how wonderful and humble serving others can be.

  12. Making a Christmas Village. Every year Hubby buys me pieces for my Christmas village, which now takes up the entire china cabinet and is quickly taking over my dining room.  I find myself every year turning off the lights, lighting up the village and  getting lost in the roads and buildings and tiny people trying to skate and carol.

I know this isn’t all of them, but you get the idea. These small gestures we repeat every year define what the Christmas season is for us as a family. The beautiful thing about them is that they are unique to us, and every family has their own. Please share in the comments below your favorite traditions in your home!