{FAMILY} You Can’t Handle The Tooth!

Fact: teething bites (pun very much intended).

I’m on my third tooth-bearing child, and let me tell you, it doesn’t get any easier. No matter how much practice you get, those baby chiclets will sneak up on you, and hit you like a slap in the face. One minute your baby is sleeping well and melting your heart with sweet little smiles and giggles, and the next, the pterodactyl from within unleashes its unruly wails as those tiny little white nuggets push their way through to the surface of your poor baby’s gums.

Sleepless nights, soaked-through tops, and the biting (oh the biting!). Unfortunately, teething is inevitable. We have to let nature take its course – it’s just not optional. What is optional though, is how we deal with the disastrous childhood milestone.

As parents we have two choices: we can grin and bear it – suffer through the raw pain of parenting a teething toddler for the months (sometimes years!) of agony – or, we can numb the pain for our poor little biters by providing them with the right supplies they need to dull the distress.

Cue: Lou Lou Lollipop Teething Necklaces. Unlike many teething necklaces I’ve seen on the market, these cute little silicon-based gems come in a wide range of modern, wearable, hip designs that can be worn without looking “like a mom” when out and about with your little drooler.

teething necklace

I thought so many of their designs were cute and totally wearable (I love the black one above, it looks like it’s made of wood!), but I wanted something unique that would fit with my brand/personality, so the lovely ladies of LouLou Lollipop Finery made me this beautiful custom set for my little teether and I:

teething necklace2

I love the colours, and my oldest daughter likes to wear the larger necklace sometimes too so she can “twin” with her baby sister.

My littlest loves to prance around with her necklace in hand and take a little nibble as she plays. It’s adorable, and it keeps her drooly gums preoccupied which is of course a big win for me.

Not only did I get my own custom set, but I’m giving away one of these lovely necklaces to one of my readers!

teething

Enter now for a chance to WIN your very own LouLou Lollipop teething necklace – in the design of your choice ($30 value)! Check out their site to see more styles, and enter below for your chance to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


About LouLou Lollipop Finery:

Lou Lou Lollipop Finery is a premium brand of modern, hip silicone accessories designed and handmade locally in Vancouver by two sisters, Eleanor and Angel.

Product features include:
* FDA approved high quality food grade silicone
* Made with non-toxic materials (no- BPA, PVC, phthalate, latex, lead, cadmium, or heavy metals)
* Features breakaway safety clasp as an added safety measure
* Silicone is anti-microbial; does not harbour bacteria or mold

Note: LouLou Lollipop teething jewelry is intended to be worn by adults. It is NOT a toy. It should not be worn by babies/children or left with any child unattended. Adult supervision is always required.


 

{FAMILY} 6 Things I Learned From Taking My Daughter To Her First Concert

6 months ago, I bit the bullet and emptied my bank account on a pair of floor seats to Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour concert – a gift I was going to give to my daughter for her 8th birthday.

I was nervous, unsure if she was too young for a stadium concert – and especially worried that floor seats would be too overwhelming for her first concert experience, but I knew that Taylor Swift would be a positive role model for my little girl and felt confident that the content of the show would be suitable for a young audience.

After a months-long countdown, the big day arrived, and my girl was ecstatic. She picked out her outfit (cutoff shorts, a cute top, a sparkly necklace, black ankle boots, and hair chalk to accent her cute little bob).

first concert

I was going to wear a pair of cute heeled boots or summery wedge sandals, but then I realized that my choice in footwear could either make or break the evening.

I’m so relieved that I opted for comfort because I wouldn’t have survived the night otherwise! We did a lot of walking, standing in line ups (oh the lines!), and on several occasions I was carrying my almost 50lb baby girl in my arms as we danced and swayed to the music.

Flats saved the day for this mama!

TIP #1: When taking young children to a concert, be sure to dress comfortably.

We left the house almost 3 hours before the scheduled start time, to allow for ample time to find parking (the sold-out concert crowd of 50,000 people, plus a few other high-attendance events scheduled in the same downtown neighbourhood meant a carefully-planned driving route was mandatory).

Once we parked, we strolled to a nearby restaurant and enjoyed a relaxing pre-concert dinner. This gave us time to chat, allowing me to prepare her for what to expect at her first concert – the opening bands, the waiting, the line ups, the encore, the standing and screaming and the overwhelm of being amidst such a large crowd.

After dinner, we sauntered over to the stadium and entered the building with plenty of time to find our way to our seats.

TIP #2: Plan out your route, and arrive as early as possible.

first concert

Arriving early gave us time to scope out the t-shirt stands, closest washrooms, and to find our seats before the large crowds poured in through the doors.

I was especially concerned about selecting floor seats for the concert, but when we arrived and found our seats, I was so pleasantly surprised. The floor seats were carefully spaced out in allocated sections, and our seats were located in the front of our section (which meant lots of leg room and easy in-and-out access for bathroom breaks!).

TIP #3: When selecting your seats, opt for easy-access (even if it means spending a bit more money).

We waited until the opening act started to play before we hit the t-shirt lineup, and we stopped in for one last bathroom break just before Taylor Swift was scheduled to hit the stage.

And then the big moment arrived.

The look on my daughter’s face when Taylor Swift appeared on stage was one that I will never forget. Wide eyed, grinning from ear to ear, and screaming at the top of her lungs, my daughter leapt into her first concert experience like a rockstar, and I soaked up every moment of her excitement.

TIP #4: Take lots of pictures!

first concert

 

first concert

first concert

TIP #5: Buy the t-shirt.

The line ups were unbearably long, and the prices were outrageous, but buying the t-shirt (or any other keepsake to commemorate the occasion) is totally worth it. Her first concert was the perfect excuse to indulge – a special drink at dinner, a commemorative t-shirt, and a very, very late bedtime – it was definitely worth breaking the rules (and the bank!) to make the night a little extra special.

As the concert came to a close, my little girl wrapped her arms around my waist and squeezed me tightly. I knew it was her way of thanking me for the best night of her life, and I took it all in as we danced to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” hand-in-hand.

TIP #6: Leave early. 

There’s always a bit of a drawn-out finale, and that’s the best time to make your exit before the crowds become unbearable. As Taylor Swift slowly strutted herself off the stage and the crowds roared, we rushed out of the building, beating the gaggle of fans who would quickly follow suit.

It was an expensive and exhausting night, but worth every penny and sore muscle. My daughter and I made memories that will last infinitely longer than our cracking voices and throbbing feet, and bonded over a mutual love for dancing and music that will hopefully carry us through many more concerts in the future.

{FAMILY} How I Got My Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Unfortunately, teaching your baby to sleep through the night is no easy feat. With each child, I have struggled with long periods of sleep deprivation, and with each child, I have eventually found a solution that works – convinced that I have unlocked the mystery to babies and sleep. But the truth is, there is no one easy answer – at least that hasn’t been the case for me.

With my first child, I tried the Ferber CIO method and let my girl ‘cry it out’.  I found that a combination of playing quiet music, surrounding her with soothers, and leaving her to cry in her crib when I put her down, actually worked quite well.

I remember being so nervous to try it out for the first time – afraid it wouldn’t work, or that I wouldn’t be able to last for more than a minute hearing my baby girl cry for me from another room. But I was so overtired! I had reached the point of desperation where I was willing to try anything.

sleep

My first child – sleeping soundly on her own.

She cried for 40 minutes straight, and then fell asleep on her own. And after that night, she was sleeping through the night. I would lay her down (asleep or awake), and she would suck on her soother and fall asleep peacefully on her own. I was so ready for baby #2. Or so I thought.

With my second child, nothing worked. From the day he was born, my sweet little boy would. not. sleep. There was no honeymoon period at the beginning – where newborns usually sleep most of their days and night away. He just didn’t want to sleep. Ever.

Eventually, when I reached a point of losing my mind from sleep deprivation, I decided it was time to try the Ferber method again. After (I hate to admit) letting him cry for more than 2 hours straight, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work with him. He didn’t take a soother, and just couldn’t settle on his own. I tried every other sleep training technique I could find, and eventually gave up.

sleep

My second child – who would only sleep on the go.

While it took a really long time for him to learn how to sleep on his own in his bed, my little guy had no problem falling asleep when we were out and about – especially in the car or on our boat. With him, I learned that each child is completely different when it comes to sleep patterns and sleep training, regardless of consistency in parenting efforts.

With my third child, this method worked like a charm (so far). For the first 6 months of her life, baby #3 slept like a rockstar. I’d put her down, and she would just sleep. I thought I had been blessed with the best sleeper in the world, and was living the dream. Until about 2 months ago.

Suddenly she just wouldn’t let me put her down. She’d fall asleep in my arms, and if I so much as inhaled too quickly, she’d awake with a vengeance. If I did manage to get her down, she’d wake up in the night frequently. Exhausted, I would pick her up, bring her into my bed, and nurse her to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep with her next to me, and I was starting to lose my mind with sleeplessness once more.

Baby Sleep

Ready to try anything, I started with trying to let her ‘cry it out’. I put her gently down as she wailed desperately for my rescue. I sat in another room listening to her helpless cries, and watched the clock. But as the time went by, I couldn’t handle it – I couldn’t stand to hear her so upset. After about 30 minutes, I went to her rescue. I’m not sure if it was the fact that she’s my last baby, or that my old age has weakened me, but I just wanted to make her feel better. After another long run of sleepless nights, I decided to try something new.

After rocking her and walking her for hours – I put her down in her crib and watched her as she cried. And as she continued to stand up and wail, determined to have me pick her up, I would gently lay her down on her stomach, and say in a hushed voice “It’s night night time, mommy’s here” while patting her back.

For 45 minutes, I continued to repeat those words in a calm and soothing voice, and continued to pat her back and lay her back down as she stood. Yes it was tiring, but I wanted it to work. And you know what? It did.

Her cries faded and eventually she fell asleep.

I ninja’d myself out of the room, and fist-pumped my way back to the living room where I celebrated my victory with a quiet night of tv-watching – baby free and grinning from ear-to-ear. And (knock on wood), she has been letting me put her down (awake!) ever since.

Some nights I still have to pat her back for a minute or two and say “night night”, but then she drifts to sleep – and sleeps all night long.

There is no simple solution – trial and error is what has worked for me.

I’d love to hear what has worked for you – have you unlocked the mystery of babies and sleep with your little one?

Bringing Home Baby: The Only 10 Things You’ll Need

The baby products industry is so jam-packed with fancy-pants  thingamabobs and whatchamacallits that it’s becoming difficult for parents-to-be to determine what they will actually need for the arrival of their new little ones, versus the on-trend nice-to-haves of modern society.

Having done this new baby thing a time or two, I thought I would share with you my quick list of the only things you’ll need to buy before bringing home baby (and a few of the things that can wait until later).

Baby

1) A Car Seat. You’re going to need to bring your baby home in something, so a rear-facing car seat should be at the top of your list of must-haves (unless of course you don’t have a car, in which case, see #8 & #9). There are about a million different models out there, but I’ve found this one to be my favourite (or I’m currently using this one for baby #3 which I also like). These seats are both lighter than most (which is important because for the first few months you’ll be carrying them on your forearm like a purse), and they are quite compact (especially important if you have a small car or other small children). I’ve also found that they are adaptable to most strollers.

2) A Bassinet/Cradle. Because babies sleep. A lot. If you have the space, I would suggest starting with a little bassinet or cradle. In the first few months your new little baby will need you at least a few times throughout the night, and having baby nearby makes those midnight feedings a little more bearable. A smaller bassinet is also more mobile so you can move your baby’s sleep locations more conveniently. Of course, some parents co-sleep, or start putting baby in a full-sized crib right from day 1, so this one can be left up to your own personal preference.

3) Diapers. Whether you like it or not, babies also pee and poop. A lot. So you’re going to need something to catch it all. Whether you plan on using disposables or cloth diapers, you’re going to need to stock up. Babies do the deed an average of 10-14 times a day, so plan ahead my friends! You will not want to run out to the store for another pack of diapers in the first few days of bringing home baby.

4) Change Table/Surface. With all of those diaper changes, you’re going to need somewhere to actually change the baby. I like having a full change table with space underneath to store the supplies (wipes, diapers, creams, powders, cloths, etc), but I know many people who use dressers with change pads on top and this works too – you can just buy a basket or install some shelves above for the extras.

5) Wash Cloths/Blankets. I’ve grouped these together because basically you’re going to need some fabrics to wash, swaddle, and block your baby (block = defence against unwanted explosions, i.e.: pukes, spit ups and blow outs). You will need a lot of these too.

6) A Vibrating Chair. Some parents may challenge me on this one, but with all 3 of my children I found this to be a godsend. Because as much as you love to cuddle your baby, your arms will get tired and you’ll have other things to do. And while the dream is to have a baby who will self-sooth and fall asleep in their cradles on their own, this is rarely the case. I used my vibrating chair constantly – to keep baby happy while I did chores (easy to move from room-to-room), and many times to coo baby to sleep when rocking in my arms just wouldn’t do.

7) Sleepers. While there are endless drool-worthy baby outfits out there (hello adorable sneakers, bomber jackets, tutus, and baby denim!), you’ll really only need a sizeable collection of onesie sleepers (and zippers are a MUST). Cutesy accessories can come later, but for the first few months, the goal is to keep baby warm and cozy, and to regain your sanity from a long slew of sleepless nights.

8) A Baby Carrier. Some parents prefer this one, but I’ve always been happy with this one. There are a TON of choices out there, and the one you choose will really come down to personal preference, but you will need one if you ever plan on leaving the house or using your hands again.

9) A Stroller. Babies get heavy so you’re going to want one of these too. Especially if you have a dog, need to go to the store, or pretty much have to go anywhere that requires you to walk for longer periods of time. Not only are they great for transporting your kids, but you can put stuff in them when you’re shopping which is handy! My favourite strollers of all time are these ones (I was spoiled with baby #1 and received one as a gift from a group of family members – pricey, but THE BEST). Due to tighter budgets with baby #3, I now have this one which has been pretty good so far.

10) Poo Bags. This one might sound a little strange, but I’m telling you, you DO NOT NEED a diaper genie. The thick poo bags that were designed for picking up after your dog are perfect – especially these ones which are biodegradable, and totally affordable. We put the poopy dipes in the bags, tie them tightly, and toss them in our regular garbage can. No stink. I found the diaper genie to be a pain in the arse to change the bags, and it was often difficult to find the refills (not to mention pricey!). If you’re using cloth diapers, it’s still nice to keep these on hand for dirty baby wipes or blowouts when you’re out and about.

There are of course other things you’ll need as well, but you don’t need to buy it all right away! Here are some things that you can save for later.

Save for later:

– full-sized crib

– Bumbo chair

– bottles

– soothers

– high chair

– exersaucer

– toys

– clothes (beyond sleepers) & shoes

– baby foods & accessories (dishes)

If you have friends with kids, ask them if they have any of the items on your list before you go shopping, or add them to your wish list for baby shower gifts. Congratulations on your new babies to come, and good luck!

 Fellow parents, have I missed anything? 

Baby

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Do You Suffer From ‘Text Neck’?

On average your head weighs about 10-12 lbs. With your head at a 60 degree angle – a common hunched-over texting position – your head can weigh up to 60 lbs. That’s like walking around with my Dalmatian AND my little Cloey wrapped around your neck all day. With that much pressure on your neck and shoulders, it’s no wonder a new health condition, deemed Text Neck, is rapidly gaining recognition with health practitioners around the world.

At first I laughed when I heard the term “text neck” and references to this new condition being seen as a “global epidemic”. I mean come on, I know we spend too much time with our faces buried in our handheld devices, but a global epidemic? But after doing a little research, I’m finding that over time, our obsession with smartphones is doing more damage than just making us socially-awkward human beings. There are actually  long-term, legit health risks tied to our hunchy texting postures. Here are just some of the health concerns that have been found to be associated with Text Neck:

If left untreated, Text Neck can result in serious permanent damage including*:

                    Flattening of the Spinal Curve          Onset of Early Arthritis

                    Spinal Degeneration                        Spinal Misalignment

                    Disc Herniation                               Disc Compression

                    Muscle Damage                              Nerve Damage

                    Loss of Lung Volume Capacity          Gastrointestinal Problems

*Source

Growing up, people used to compliment me on my “perfect posture”. My years of ballet training had taught me to walk with my head held high, my neck long, and my shoulders back.

Nowadays I often have headaches and suffer from constant neck and shoulder pain, but I’ve always just shrugged it off as being as a result of having 3 kids, a busy schedule, and not enough sleep. I do tend to hunch over my laptop when I work, and when I nurse my baby, I look like Gollum, hunched over my baby like she’s “the precious” as I feed her. But neither of those habits take up as much of my time as my iPhone does. When I think about it, I’m hunched over that thing all. day. long. After reading a few studies and learning more about this latest health concern, I’m left to wonder : Do I suffer from Text Neck?

Text Neck

Well don’t fret my technology-loving friends. If you do suffer from Text Neck, there are ways to “practice safe text”. This recent news clip shows you some handy exercises that you can do to avoid the longterm effects of this newly-spawned health epidemic. Check it out, and happy texting!

Dear Mastitis: Don’t.

Mast-effing-itis.

When you’re pregnant for the first time, no one tells you about it. Perhaps on purpose. It could be because women who have had it before are so haunted by the experience that even uttering the word “mastitis” brings on dark and disturbing flashbacks. Because even the thought of it elicits feelings of fear, anxiety, and toe-curling pain.

Full-fledged mastitis is no laughing matter. It can be worse than a bad flu, and in severe cases like actress Jaime Pressly’s experience, it can even lead to a 7.5 hour surgery to remove abscesses and breast tissue that have formed as a result of an extreme case of untreated mastitis.

mastitis

What is it? Mastitis is what happens when milk builds up in your breast (often referred to as a “blocked duct”, but isn’t actually a physical blockage) causing inflammation, and even infection. It amazes me that something that sounds so simple, could be so physically torturous.

Side Note: do NOT Google “mastitis images”. You can’t unsee some of the images that come up. I’m serious, JUST. DON’T.

It is said that one in ten breastfeeding moms experience mastitis. Based on those odds, you probably think you’re safe, right? Not necessarily. I’ve had it three times – once with each child (so far), and not just the mild version.

A few weeks ago, we went on a little out-of-town jaunt to visit family. On our first night away, while I was nursing, I noticed a little tender spot on my breast. I knew immediately what was coming, and I lost sleep over it that night.

The thing about mastitis is that it starts slowly, and then progresses at the speed of light. You flirt with a little tenderness, and then it slaps you in the face. All of a sudden it hurts to have your t-shirt graze the agonizingly painful spot. You feel light-headed, and start to shiver uncontrollably. A fever comes on, and nausea creeps up your throat. This may not always be the case, but this is how it has always been for me.

Thankfully, there are ways to get rid of the torturous infection. And while mastitis is worse than any of the other things I hate about nursing, it too shall pass.

 

 

 

Outing My Inner Innie, And How I Fake It

People who know me well would refer to me as a chatterbox, a loud mouth, and even a social butterfly. But the truth is, I’m actually quite shy.
According to a recent post on Huffington Post Lifestyle, being an introvert is about more than just being a shy person, it’s about whether or not the person loses or gains energy from being around others. When I read through the 23 signs listed in the article, I found myself nodding yes to all but four of the listed symptoms, and it became very clear to me that I am in fact a typical introvert. The signs that hit really close to home for me included:
1) “You go to parties, but not to meet people” – I get very nervous when I go to parties, especially when I’m not escorted by a friend. Instead of stepping into conversations, introducing myself, and joining in on the chatter, I scan the room for a familiar face and tend to spend the duration of the party by the side of someone I know.
2) “You screen your calls, even from your friends” – I hate to admit this one, but it is so very true. When my phone rings, I very rarely answer. I prefer to listen to the message, and have even been guilty of responding to a friend’s call with a text. I’m also very shy about initiating phone calls, and even get nervous when placing a call to order pizza. I know, strange right?3) “You’re a writer” – I definitely feel the most creative when I’m alone with my thoughts, and have been much more open with my feelings and experiences through the art of writing. Nothing has been more comforting for me than expressing my emotions through my blog, sharing private moments with readers without having to say the words in person.
But in response to the post, I thought I would also share with you some tips on how I’ve managed to hide my insecurities and introverted ways.1) I face my fears. While nothing makes me more nervous than public speaking, I’ve always taken jobs where public speaking has been one of my responsibilities. I’ve worked as a teacher where I was forced to speak in front of classrooms full of teenage and adult students. I’ve had to address large crowds in theatres and auditoriums through various marketing roles, and I’ve had to conduct presentations in front of senior executives for large companies. While I lose sleep, and my heart races each time I do it, I face my fears, I fake it, and I succeed.

Maid of honour speech at my best friend’s wedding
– also known as the scariest moment of my life.

2) I make eye contact and continuously smile. While I secretly lack self confidence on the inside, I try not to let it show on the outside. Because nothing repels new friends like an insecure persona. So I lift my chin, look people in the eye, and flash a teethy smile.

3) I take a deep breath and dive in. In a workshop I once did through a previous job, I was forced to do a speech in front of a group of my peers, and to watch myself on video afterwards while my mannerisms were critiqued. And while it sounds like a daunting task, it forced me to realize that while my heart was thumping in my ears, and my palms were sweating, by maintaining a slow and steady tone and keeping eye contact with my listeners, I actually appeared to be a confident speaker!

4) I try to say “thank you” when receiving a compliment. This is one that I am still working on. When I’m paid a compliment, especially on my looks, my initial instinct is to respond with a correction – “oh well I’m wearing a lot of make up” or “oh well it’s the clothes, you don’t want to see what’s actually underneath”. But I’ve realized that there is nothing more unattractive or uncomfortable than a person who puts themselves down. I now try my best to inhale, and simply say, “thank you”.

So there you have it, ways that I hide my inner shy.

Are you secretly an introvert living in the shell of an extrovert? Check out these 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert (via Huffington Post Lifestyle).

The Lowdown On Literacy – Teaching Your Child How To Read

Reading Quote

When my girl entered Kindergarten, I knew that part of the curriculum would include learning to read. But what I didn’t realize, was that her progress would be heavily reliant on the participation of her parents – that it would be our job to guide her through the tedious process of learning the life skill that is reading.

At first the thought of my little girl learning to read on her own was exhilarating. My daydreams were filled with visions of her sitting cross-legged on a patch of grass under an old elm tree, holding a classic storybook daintily in her hands. Spending hours lost in her own world of imagination – swirling down the tunnels of Alice in Wonderland, chasing the little white rabbit and celebrating unbirthdays. Lost in the stories of Anne of Green Gables, quoting and re-enacting the verses of The Lady of Shallot like Anne Shirley.

>But so far, I have to confess, teaching my girl to read has been…less than exotic.

When we sat down to tackle our first read, she came well-equipped with the sound that each letter makes, and how some letters make different sounds when read together. But the challenge with our oh-so-complicated language, is that we have so many silent letters, inexplicable rules, and seemingly nonsensical spellings, that it’s next to impossible to explain it all to a 6-year-old’s inquisitive mind.

I thought that this would be the one time that my Degree in English Literature, and years of experience as an ESL teacher would come in handy, but there is no skill that can prepare you for this milestone.

In the beginning I was patient. “Sound it out” I would coax in a motherly tone. “Good try honey, very close, try again” I would say between gritted teeth. Not only is our language a tricky one to master, but navigating through the rough waters of a frustrated 6-year-old’s temper is even tougher. “Tuh-oh-uh-guh-huh-eh-er?” – “No honey, -ou makes the sound -ow, and -gh sounds like -fff, and -er together is -ur.” What the eff, right?

And once Summer hits, us parents are on our own. No more skipping the odd nighttime reading, knowing that the content will be covered in class the next morning. No my friends, we are left to fend for ourselves.

Thankfully, the BC Library Association and our local public library have developed a Summer Reading Club – one that encourages early readers to read one book a day, and gives them milestones to reach, weekly gifts, games and resources, and a prize (they can choose between a trophy and a new book) for reading every night for the duration of the Summer. Motivation for the kids, and ammo for us parents.

My girl has now completed 5 weeks of the Summer Reading Club, and only has 2 weeks to go. She has become a more confident and skilled reader, and I have become a more patient parent!

Check out the great Tips For Parents page on the Summer Reading Club website, and don’t give up frustrated mamas and papas, I promise it gets easier!

Have you been having a hard time teaching your little ones how to read? Do you have any other tips for making it easier for us parents?