Thursday, February 27, 2014

Writing Your Name

Aias has been going to preschool for 1.5 years, and he's the only kid who refuses to write his name on the sign in sheet when he gets to school.  He doesn't like to do things if he doesn't know he will do them perfectly, so in those cases he chooses not to do them at all.  We're really working on this.

He knows how to read his name, spell his name out loud, and knows how to type his name, but I'm still not sure if he knows how to write it.  Knowing him, there's a 50% chance he knows how to write it and just refuses, and a 50% chance he just doesn't know how to write it. 

Today I heard someone mention an entire program called "Handwriting Without Tears," so presumably he's not the only child who isn't thrilled about learning how to write.

I figured we better get on this before kindergarten starts in t-minus 6 months, so I've talked with Aias about setting the goal of him being able to write his name by the time it starts.  Google led me to a free program called Amazing Handwriting Worksheets where you can make your own handwriting sheets just like the ones we had in school as kids. The website itself doesn't have very flashy or impressive technology, but it created an awesome worksheet. I figured I'd share it here so you guys can use it too.

Here's Aias's sheet below:

I'm sort of in love with it.  It doesn't get much cooler than a handwriting worksheet generator :P Ok, maybe it does.  But this is just where I am in my parenting life at this point.

Now it's just a matter of encouraging, but not pressuring him, to practice it.  Wish me luck!

P.S. This is my 600th blog post! 

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You'll Never Believe What This Woman Found Under Her Couch...

OK fine. It's not that unbelievable.  But you clicked so you may as well stay a while.

I didn't clean under my couch the entire time I was pregnant, because I sure as hell wasn't going to get down on the floor with only a 50% chance of ever getting up again.

Here's a photographic play-by-play:

The view from the floor.  Try not to look too closely at how filthy my leather couch is, also.  Looks like it's time to buy some leather wipes.

All this crap was under there. I'm not even kidding.  I bent over backwards looking for that little wooden cross piece that goes with another toy, too.  I think the empty seaweed snack container is what pushes this whole experience from messy to filthy.  FML.

These are all the balls that were under my couch.  The dog is to blame. 

And back to square one.
What's under your couch?  Better go check. 

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The Time I Was a Bully

Tomorrow, February 26th 2014, is Pink Shirt Day.  Pink Shirt Day is a day where we attempt to raise awareness of Bullying  in our schools, workplaces, homes, and over the Internet.

I wasn't particular tormented as a child, at least not consistently, but I had the occasional run in with bullying.  I'll never forget being in the 6th grade when a girl named Angela Baker decided she hated and "wanted to kill" me.  I had only spoken to her a few times so I had no idea why I was being targeted.  She called my house and threatened me, and somehow my mom and dad took care of it and the problem disappeared.

Another time, in 10th grade, my ex-boyfriend and his friends made a rude AOL homepage about me.  Another thing my mom and dad took care of. The police were actually involved in this one, and he had to write me an apology letter (which I'm sure my mom still has) and we decided not to press charges. 

In honour of Pink Shirt Day I want to share my own personal bullying story, except in this story, the bully is me. 

When I was in 5th grade, my best friend was a girl named Michelle.  When I say we were best friends, I mean we were the best friends EVER.  We were in the same class at school and we did absolutely everything together.  All day at school we hung out every second we could, and the minute we got home from school we talked on the phone for as late as we could.  On the weekends we tried to hang out every day, and we tried to have sleepovers as often as possible.  We played Power Rangers and recorded ourselves singing songs from The Lion King and sent them to Disney.  We were nerds and we were inseparable. We even told people we were sisters.

Then 6th grade came along, and we found out we weren't in the same class.  My world completely collapsed.

Summer went by and we were both devastated about the class situation.  By the time September rolled around we were both certain that we would die being in separate classes.  We even had the horrendous and traumatizing experience of signing up for the same camp and ending up in different camp groups, which was a miserable taste of what was to come.

The first day of school was hell.  Being in separate classes was definitely as bad as I thought it would be, and I actually had something of a mental breakdown by lunch and I think I spent much of the afternoon in the counsellors office.

Parents were called.  It was determined that we should stay in separate classes, which was devastating to both of us.  Of course, looking back, I'm sure our parents wanted us in separate classes because our friendship was too intense and we weren't making any other friends.  This is easy to understand from an adult/parent perspective, but it doesn't matter much when you are 11.

Of course, there was always recess. 

Days went by and life did get easier.  Well, unfortunately it got easier for Michelle a lot sooner than it did for me.  Within a week she started hanging out with another girl from her class, and she wanted this girl to hang out with us at recess.  Words do not describe how upset this made me.  I felt so sad, so replaced, and so alone.  I did not want to hang out with this new friend, I wanted to hang out with my best friend. I felt completely screwed out of the time we could be spending together during class and recess was all we had.  Having a third wheel around was not going to fly with me.

I tolerated the friend for the sake of Michelle, but then I decided I was going to get my own new friend, too.  This new friend was Julie.  She wasn't actually a new friend, she was a friend I had from 4th grade who I had largely neglected during 5th grade because of my intense bond with Michelle.

One thing led to another, and Michelle and I started to grow apart.  I think it was largely in part due to the simple fact that we couldn't be together all the time, but also because of jealousy we both had of each others new friends.  My jealousy and pain turned to anger and pain, and I was very hurt that our friendship had taken such a sad turn, so Julie and I started being mean to Michelle. I guess it was easier to try and hate her than it was to accept and mourn the changing friendship.

I can't remember specifically what we did, but we weren't very nice to her.  We teased her about her appearance, her clothes, everything.  While we never tried to physically harm her, I'm sure we did a number on her emotionally.  One thing I remember very clearly was making her a really mean Christmas card.  I can still see the card in my head, and I feel just terrible about it to this day.  There was no sense to any of it, and it never made me feel good, so I don't know why we persisted in this way.  I actually really adored Michelle, and there was absolutely no logic to my unacceptable behaviour.

The teasing and bullying went on for a few months, and then our parents put a stop to it.  And that was that. There was no discussion on why it was happening, or any attempt to work through our feelings.  No one ever asked me why I was being terrible to Michelle when we had been such good friends before, we were just told enough is enough, and we weren't to talk anymore. 

I never bullied another person after that. As for Michelle and I, we went to school together through 12th grade, and even had a few classes together, but I don't know if we ever spoke.

When I was a young adult in my early 20s, I remember coming home from University in the summers and watching Maury Povich with my dad and sisters, and there would always be an episode where adults would confront their childhood bullies.  I made a mental note to never be on the Maury Povich show if anyone had a "surprise" for me, just in case it was Michelle.  Part of me knew I could never endure from Michelle what she had endured from me.

To this day, I feel absolutely awful about how I treated Michelle.  It's now 19 years later, and I still feel as though it was yesterday.  I wish it had gone down differently. I wish we had worked through our feelings in a more constructive and loving way.

Years ago I found Michelle on Facebook.  She's an artist now, super talented, and it actually looks like we'd get along really well.  I was very tempted to message her and apologize, but I was scared of what would happen. Maybe she would be angry, maybe she would try and retaliate.  Maybe she would be unable to forgive me, and I would be too sad about it.  I felt (and feel) so undeserving of her compassion, and wouldn't expect any, but I think was too scared to put myself in the position she was in, way back when.  How awful to think I put someone in a position I'd never want to be in myself.

One day I took the plunge, sent Michelle an apology, and I never heard back.  I can't say I blame her.

I hope Aias and Azriel never have to experience what I made Michelle experience, and I will be mortified if they ever put someone through it themselves.  I'm so glad we have something like Pink Shirt Day to bring awareness to bullying so that we can encourage an open dialogue about it, and rather than creating a Bully (Evil) Vs. Bullied (Good) dichotomy, we can try to encourage and remember what makes us all human and how we can be nurturing and loving in all that we do. 
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The 26 Things in My Diaper Bag (Yeah, I Know)

This post is half-inspired by Holly over at Our Holly Days, and half inspired by Morgan who is constantly wondering why my purses and diapers bags feel like they are loaded with bricks.

I decided I would dump my bag and show you what's inside!

Here's the bag:

This Skip Hop Duo Deluxe Diaper Bag in Wave Dot is my primary bag.

Here's why it's so heavy:


 I will now justify all the things:

1.  Wet bag: for all things pee, poop, and puke. This one is from Alva Baby and it's actually the best quality one I have, that has lasted through the most disgusting of situations.  It's also the cheapest one I own. Go figure. They cost around $6 each and I think it cost me 17 cents to have it shipped here. Ridiculous.

2.  Contoured pre-fold diapers from Happy Baby Cheeks, our Vancouver Diaper Service (if you sign up with them, pleeeeease tell them Monika Whitney sent you!).

3.  Muslin blanket: in case Azi gets distracted while nursing.

4.  Disposable diaper: just in case.

5.  Vancouver City Passport:   coupons to awesome attractions in the city.  You can buy this at the Lookout at Harbour Centre.

6.  Caboo tissues for runny noses and other such incidents.  These are made from bamboo and very soft.

7.  Avon Skin So Soft hand lotion

8.  Avon Sweet Honesty Purse ConcentrĂ©: in case I get puked on or end up in a smelly situation (the possibility of puke has motivated many of my purse items).  I actually dislike 99.9% of scents but for some odd reason I love this one.

9.  2 Avon Lip balms: Deep Kiss Lip Dew and Avon Naturals Kids Magnificent Mango

10.  Avon Mini Anti-Bacterial Holder and Avon Naturals Cucumber Melon Mini Antibacterial Hand Gel.  I know not all bugs need drugs, but you should see some of the public bathrooms we use...

11.  Spare fleece soaker from Sarah's Stitches (her stuff is rad, I reviewed it here)

12.  Chux pad left over from my home birth.  These are amazing if you find yourself in one of those aforementioned disgusting bacteria-filled public washrooms.

13.  Spare sleeper

14.  My wallet.  If I were to open this up and show you everything in it, we'd be here all day.  There are cards for everything now.

15.  Business cards for my business, Parent Perks - 100% Free Gift Bags for Vancouver Parents!

16.  Avon travel screwdriver. It's been in there for less than two weeks and I've already used it twice.

17.  Pen

18.  Tiny slippers from Shoes Zoo, mostly there to hold socks on.  I did a review on them, too!

19.  Aleva Naturals Baby Wipes which are made of bamboo and don't have any nasty chemicals in them.

20.  Fleece mittens, for keeping hands warm and for preventing face scratching.

21.  Baby washclothes from Bamboobino

22.  A back-up portable device charger for my phone, as well as the cord and attachments.  You'll be shocked to hear this is from Avon! These are regularly $19.99 which is a bargain, but for a few more weeks they are actually on sale for $14.99.  They also work with Aias's tablet.

23.  Chico bag!  Chico bags are absolutely, 100% the best re-usable bags EVER.  I usually have 2-3 of them with me.  Since discovering them I have about a 99% success rate at bringing my own fabric bag.  They sell these ones at Whole Foods for $2.99 which is a great deal.

24.  Change pouch: ok guys, I swear this is where the bulk of the weight comes from! This thing is packed, even though every few days I go through it and I take all the quarters and loonies out and put them aside for laundry.

25.  First Aid Kit:  Yeah, I carry a small First Aid kit with me.  And I'm always handing out bandages as a result.

P.S. The Change pouch and First Aid Kit pouch are actually reusable Snack Sacks from Sarah's Stitches.  Right now (and I guess until the foreseeable future?) they are actually Buy 3 get one Free, AND free shipping.  They only cost $4 each, too!

26. FINALLY: my keys.  Morgan makes fun of these, too.  Yeah, I know they are a little large, but I swear I need all those keys!

There you have it, folks!  I know it's a lot of crap to tote around, but leave me alone ;) 
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Monday, February 24, 2014

My Favourite Child

Back when my friend Karen had her second child, she said something on her Facebook I have never forgotten.  She said your first child shows you how deep your love can go, and your second child shows you how wide your love can spread.  I held on to that brilliant thought even though at the time, we weren't even planning for a second.

Growing up I always assumed every parent had a favourite.  Of course, I was sure I was the favourite out of myself and my two sisters.  After all, I was the first baby, the oldest, and of course, it felt like I was the favourite based on how wonderfully I was treated by both my parents.  As I grew up, I realized I wasn't so sure if I was the favourite or not.  To make matters more complicated, on at least one occasion each of my two sisters has revealed to me that they are, in fact, the favourite.  I quickly learned it didn't really matter who the favourite actually was, but perhaps the mark of good parenting was that you made all your children feel like it was them.

Nice trick, mom and dad.

Myself and Boy #1

All this being said, I was terrified to have another child, for fear that I could never possibly love a second child as much as I love Aias. After all, I love Aias with every ounce of my being, and he's basically been the centre of my life since I first saw the second line on that pee stick.  Not to mention he had a 4 year 2 month head start on his brother.  I worried that secretly all parents had favourites, but that it was just an incredibly taboo thing to discuss, so it never came up.

I figured that after having a second child, I'd be kidnapped in the night by cloaked parents and brought to a secret temple where I'd be sworn to secrecy about the TRUTH... that all parents have favourites but they must never reveal that it's so!

Alas, this did not happen (or did it!?). When Azi was born, I finally got it.  The answer to my 30 years of wondering: you can actually love both children the same.  It's so incredibly difficult to process, and even more so to articulate, but it's possible.  What's more, it's not even difficult to love them the same.  It's actually easy, due in part to how incredibly different they are.  But also because of all the ways they are the same.

And even though he's only been here for 8 weeks, it feels like he's been here forever.  So there you have it, folks.  30 years of wondering has come to an end.

Myself and Boy #2

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

My IV Port: Trauma at the ER

On December 27thth 2013 I gave birth to my second son at home.  I knew I wanted a home birth even before I was pregnant, but it wasn't until an experience I had at the ER about a month or so before that I really realized why a home birth was absolutely the ONLY option for me.

*** I am writing this down partially to reflect back and partially to deal with what happened.  It could be very triggering if you've had a bad experience in a hospital or if hearing about needles is hard for you. ***

Late in my third trimester I got very ill with some sort of norovirus type stomach bug.  It hit me very hard, and I could not keep liquid or food down.  I spoke with my midwives about it, and they said that it was very important that I stay hydrated.  They suggested that I go to the ER for an IV of fluids if the situation did not improve. I did not want to go because I didn't want to expose myself to something worse, but I knew that if I didn't stay hydrated things could go sideways very fast. I'm also terrified of needles and IVs.

The situation did not improve; I could not keep liquids or solids down at all, despite my best efforts.  That afternoon I waddled up the hill to the nearest ER and explained the situation.  I explained that I was pregnant, the illness I was experiencing had come on very quickly and was not typical of my pregnancy, I was unable to keep food or water down, and I was experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. I explained that my midwife was currently attending a birth at another hospital but had told me to go to the ER and ask for fluids.

Once I spoke with the triage nurse I was asked to go sit in the waiting room.   I waddled over very carefully, as not to trigger vomiting.  The waiting room was quite filthy and I tried not to breathe in too deeply because I didn't want to catch anything else. I also tried not to touch anything so I wouldn't spread what I had to other patients.  An orderly came around to take blood from me while I was sitting in the waiting room, so they could get that process started.  He was very kind but he smelled like cake.  I asked why he smelled like cake and he said "It's my cologne. What's wrong, you don't like cake?"  I explained that I loved cake but not when I was nauseous and on the verge of vomiting.

When it was finally my turn to go into the treatment area, I was assigned a bed.  I laid down and waited for the doctor.  When the doctor came, he was nice enough.  I explained to him exactly what I had explained to the triage nurses.  I also said that I am very afraid of needles but realize I desperately needed the fluids.  He said he understood and that a nurse would come around and give me the fluids I needed.

The doctor left, and a few minutes later, the nurse came.  She put an IV port into my wrist.  I looked away while she did it.  She then attached the bag of fluids.

I tried to not look at the fluids or my wrist, but of course, I eventually did.  And that's when I noticed that there were TWO bags attached to the IV tube; a large bag and a smaller bag.

I flagged down the next person I saw, who happened to be the doctor.  I asked "What's that second bag?"

"We've given you an anti-nauseant as well"  he said, proudly.

"Um, I'm pregnant.  Is it ok for the baby? Can you tell me what it's called?"

He uttered the name quickly and said it was "perfectly safe" for the baby.

Let's stop right now.  You see, here is my first issue:

I asked for IV fluids for dehydration.
I did NOT ask for an anti-nauseant.
I know, I know, they are the doctors.
They went to school for 8+ years.
They see patients every single day.
Maybe the anti-nauseant was the greatest and most safe thing ever.

But WHY ON EARTH would he or the nurse have NOT mentioned it to me before it was attached to a tube being pumped directly into my body? 

I have a serious problem with this.  It is my body, and my baby, and it is my choice to decide what I am comfortable with when it comes to medicating while pregnant.  Or even when not pregnant.  If they had asked me if I wanted the anti-nauseant, I would have said "hold on" and quickly checked to see if it was ok, if ONLY for my own comfort.

Moving right along.

Now, remember how I said earlier that I am not comfortable with needles?  This is actually an understatement. I've had quite a few saline drips in my adult life, and all but 2 of them resulted in me having a panic attack.  A needle that goes in and out quickly is one thing, but the idea of a little rubber needle being stuck in my body for any extended period of time is just horrifying.  Fortunately I held it together pretty well during this one because I was trying so hard to remind myself that I was doing this for the baby and that it would be over soon.  After all, IV fluids don't take more than 30-40 minutes to empty, right?

While mindfullness and focusing on other things in the room were helping me keep my cool, toward the last few minutes of the bag emptying I started feeling myself on the verge of losing it.  I wanted the bag out, and the IV port GONE, and I wanted it out now.  When the nurse walked by I would ask "how much longer?" and finally she said "2 minutes."  Those 2 minutes were long.  When they were over, I was hoping the nurse would run over to remove the IV port and the bag but it didn't happen that way (such is the nature of a busy ER).  I held my cool until I saw her walk by again and asked if she could please remove it.

She was happy to remove the tube and the bag, but the offending IV port, well, she left it in my arm.

"Can you remove this please?" I asked.

"No.  The doctor said to leave it because you may need it for later." She remarked.

"It's really bothering me." I said. "It's making me feel nervous and uncomfortable."

"It won't be in much longer but you need to keep it in just in case they need to give you something else" She said.

"If they need to give me something else I'll just have them put another one in." I said, certain I wouldn't be getting anything else.

"I'm sorry I have to leave it in for now." she said.

I was annoyed but sort of understood.  I tried my best not to think about it, careful not to bend my  arm at all.  The thought of the little rubber needle inside my veins made me feel even sicker.

A few minutes later another nurse came by with a cup and asked me to go into the washroom to pee.  I got up as best I could, super careful not to bump the offending IV port, and waddled to the washroom.

When I got there, I tried very hard to pull down my pants.  I know this must sound ridiculous, but I was 9 months pregnant and unable to bend my left arm.  Despite my best efforts, I could not do much of anything.  Peeing in a cup was not going to happen. 

I waddled out and explained "I can't get a sample with this thing in my arm.  Can someone please take it out?"

I was told once again that it could not be taken out.

Frustrated, I went and laid back down on my bed.  They brought me water and crackers and said I needed to do a test to see if I could hold the food and liquid down, and eventually I could.  This was a good sign that I could leave soon.

The doctor came around again and asked if it would be ok if there was an NST done on the baby.  I was more than happy to have one, but I asked if first my IV port could be removed from my arm because it was terrifying and freaking me out.

"We really need you to keep it in just in case we need to give you more fluids." He explained.

"But if you need to give me more fluids that's fine, but you can give me a new one, then, if that's the case? Unless I'm getting more fluids right now."

"Oh we just leave them in." He said.

Still frustrated, and sort of on the verge of totally bugging out, I waited for the NST.  Since I had possible flu-like symptoms and at the very least had the norovirus, I could not go up to the maternity ward in case I infected the babies. I fully understood this.  Instead, two women came down from the maternity ward in basically full hazmat outfits with a rolling NST machine.  One was a nurse, one was a student.  I was asked if it was ok if the student was present and I said yes that was fine.

The nurse explained the NST to me and then asked if I could lay on my left side for the NST. I explained that I could not, because I could not lay on my left arm because there was an IV port in it and it felt horrible and gross to lay on.  She asked if I could anyway, but if I could put my arm over my head.  I said I guess so, but that the baby moved more when I was slightly inclined and on my back.  She said it would be better if I laid on my left side. I asked if maybe she could have someone take the IV port out of my arm so I wouldn't be stressed myself during the NST.  She said no, as it "wasn't really her place" to discuss having the IV removed.

I made it through the NST feeling absolutely disgusting.  I could feel the IV port and was trying hard not to panic more about it.

When the test was over about 25 minutes later, all was well with the baby, but they still wanted urine.  I asked again if I could PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HAD THE IV PORT REMOVED FROM MY LEFT ARM and was told AGAIN that it needed to stay there.

"Just in case."

I went to the bathroom, I held my breathe, I struggled through the pee sample, I put it where it needed to be, and went back to my bed.

A few minutes later the doctor came by and handed me a discharge paper.  It had my blood test results on it. He also handed me a prescription (that I never filled) of the same anti-nauseant that had been in the second IV bag.

Of course, at this point I asked "Can I please have this IV port removed from my arm now?"

To which he responded "Yes, the nurse will come and remove it soon."

He walked away and about 5 minutes later a different person (orderly? nurse? I'm not sure) came and said "we need this bed, you can be on your way." to which I said, "I'm waiting for someone to remove this IV port!"

His response? "Oh they can remove that when you are in the waiting room.  If you sit out there we will send someone out to remove it shortly."

I was annoyed beyond belief at this point but did as he said.  I went outside and sat in the waiting room for exactly 15 minutes.  No one came. So I went to the triage desk and asked "I've been waiting for 15 minutes for someone to remove this IV port.  What would happen if I just ripped it out myself, would something bad happen?" to which she responded "I'll go get someone now!"

She went in pretty quickly, and within 3 minutes someone was out to remove the IV port.

So ramble, ramble ramble. What does this all have to do with my birth?

If I had to have an IV port in my arm during my birth, I guarantee I would have ended up with a c-section.  There is just absolutely no way my birth would have progressed.  The amount of anxiety and stress I would have experienced would have been so great due to the IV port, I don't think I could have relaxed.  I guarantee it would have delayed progress.

When I think back to all the positions I was in during my labour, I know now that I could not have been comfortable tethered to an IV port during them.  I could not have thought about anything else but that horrible little rubber tip, and how disgusting it felt felt when I brushed it even ever so slightly.  Or how nauseous I felt thinking about what it must be doing when I bend my arm.  There's just no way I could have felt free to move around in the way I need to while I birth.

I know it may sound very silly to some of you, because it's JUST an "IV port."  But to me it was a barrier, a huge wall that kept me from being comfortable and able to relax. We all have these things, these potential barriers, and for some reason in a hospital environment they are so often overlooked as they are perceived as irrelevant or insignificant.  What is insignificant to one person can be huge to another.  Try to imagine one of your worst fears, and someone insisting you stare it in the face for hours against your will for basically no good reason.

The scariest thing of all that I took away from this experience was how unimportant my own comfort was to any of the caregivers at the hospital during this visit.  I told multiple people multiple times that I was:

- Terrified
- Uncomfortable
- Disgusted

and that I wanted something out of my body.  Despite all this, no one seemed to care.  After all, to them it's just a simple IV port that they see hundreds of in a day.

This IV port was not a life saving device in this situation.  It would have taken about 60 seconds for someone to remove it, and if I had needed a new one, it would have taken about the same amount of time to put in a new one.

No matter how I begged and pleaded, no one seemed to think I was enough of an authority of my own health and comfort to know that I wanted the IV port out of my arm.  On a larger scale during a birth, this could have been so very detrimental.

So I left the hospital that day aggravated, and a little sad.  But most of all, I left knowing that I didn't want to ever have to endure a hospital environment again unless I knew my very life depended on it.  Between having unwanted drugs pumped into my body and having my request to have the the IV port removed when I wanted it to be, I will certainly think twice the next time I'm considering an ER visit.

One last thought: for me, this was bigger than just the anti-nauseant and the IV port.  To me, it's about feeling safe.  I feel like when you are in a medical situation, you need to feel safe and you need to feel like you can trust those around you.  I did not feel safe, and I did not feel like I could trust those around me as a result of this experience.  I felt terrified and uncomfortable as I explained above, and worse yet, I felt like my comfort didn't matter.  I don't know how someone is supposed to heal if they cannot be comfortable or if they cannot feel safe.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Help for Baby Avery and Family

I want to dedicate this post to fellow blogger and friend, Irene Rodda from The Crafting Hobbit.

Back when my Opa died in 2011, Irene, her husband Ben, and her young son Garrett travelled to my hometown to be with me at his funeral. They knew I was having a really rough time with it and my partner was unable to come with me.  They helped me through that really painful time by bringing a small gift for Aias, sitting with me, and keeping my spirits up. It was so amazing to have a friend around, especially because my whole family was suffering and I didn't want to unload on them during that difficult time.

Right now Irene and her family are having a similarly difficult time.  In August they found out they were having twins.  A few weeks later, one of their twins was lost.  The remaining twin, Baby Avery, was expected to be born in early May, but due to various complications he was born 15 weeks early, at 25 weeks 4 days gestation, this past January 25th, 2014.

No mother should ever have to be in this position, looking into a NICU box at their helpless newborn.

Baby Avery is stable, but he has a long road ahead of him.  He will be in the NICU for a very long time.

I asked Irene if it would be ok if we set up a fundraiser for the family to help with things like bills, groceries, and other incidentals so that they don't have to have additional financial stress on top of all the expected stresses that go along with the shocking birth of a micro preemie. She was honoured and beyond grateful, as the bills are rolling in. 

If you are a parent you know how heart wrenching it would be to have to leave your tiny, fragile, and vulnerable newborn behind at the hospital.  The fear, the sadness, and the unknown can be crippling to a family during a time like this.  While we can't take away their pain, I hope that through fundraising we can make this journey at least a tinier bit easier on this family.

Friends of ours, Dennis and Mistin Wilkinson made this video to help share Avery's story and to help us spread the word about our fundraiser. Please share this touching video and fundraiser with friends and family, and if you can contribute financially, please know that the money is going to a great cause and a great family. takes 0% of the donated funds, and the money is accessible immediately to Irene through her Pay Pal account. Any amount of money is appreciated and will be well spent.

If you are local to Memphis, TN (or even if you aren't local but are willing to ship), they are also in desperate need of baby items. They donated all of the items they had from their older son, Garrett, to other new families. They were planning on buying new things for Baby Avery but of course they did not have time as he arrived 3.5 months early and in those first few months of pregnancy Irene was very ill and also taking care of Garrett.

Please contact us if you would like to donate items or if you have any other questions about this fundraiser.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Eyes on Avon: Campaign #5 Catalogue Deals

Welcome to my first ever "Eyes on Avon" post.  No, I'm not selling Avon. Yes, my best friend is! And as unlikely a customer as I am, I've become pretty addicted to Avon.  I browse the catalogues online when I'm pinned down by a sweet sleeping newborn, and love to flip through a paper catalogue while I'm soaking in the tub behind a locked bathroom door while kids hang out with dad in the living room.

One of the things I love most about Avon is that I think the deals are GREAT, and it appeals to my frugal side.  I've decided that when each campaign comes out I'm going to blog about the deals I'm most excited about.

The next campaign, Campaign #5 runs February 13, 2014 - February 26, 2014. Below are the goodies and deals most worthy of your attention!

I'm also going to be pinning my faves on the Aias Dot Ca Pinterest!

P.S.  If you are interested in getting an ADDITIONAL 15- 25% off any of the products below, please email Chris from the Comfort and Beauty Blog and she will tell you how to make that happen!

Crazy for Quilting Wallet
Regular price: $29.99
Sale price: $9.99 OR $4.99 with a catalogue purchase of $10

This wallet is super cute.  It has room for 11 cards, your ID, has a zippered change pouch and has a slot for your cell phone.  It all closes tight with a snap.
Nail Design Art Strips
Regular price: $12.99
Sale price: $4.99 - $8.99

These are so cute it makes me wish I didn't bite the heck out of my nails.  Shockingly, they *actually* work.   The Halloween sets are over 50% off at $4.99, so grab a set or two and tuck them away until October, which will be here before you know it. They are called "Crazy for Candy" and "Orange You Scared."

True Colour 8-in-1 Eyeshadow Palettes 
Regular Price: $15 for one
Sale Price: Buy one for $15 get a second for $1.99

If you are looking to add to your eyeshadow options, each of these palettes has 8 different colours.  In Campaign 5 this deal makes it so you can save $13, while getting 16 different eyeshadow options.

Avon Naturals Kids Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, and Bubble BathRegular Price: $5 for one
Sale Price: $6 for any two

I live for when these go on sale.  Sometimes Avon doesn't have the Shampoo and Conditioner in stock so when they DO have them, it's time to stock up even if they are full price.  2 for $6 makes it even more of a good idea to order quick!

Right now they have Amazing Apple and Wacky Watermelon in stock for the Shampoo & Conditioner, and they have Wacky Watermelon, Bursting Berry, Outgoing Orange, and Groovy Grape in stock.

P.S. I'll tell you a secret.  We do "no poo" in our family, but the only shampoo we have in the house is Avon Naturals Kids.  Then if we need to wash our hair for whatever reason, we have something gentle, tear-free, and nice smelling to use. 

Flavor Savers Lip Balm
Regular Price: $1.99
Sale Price: 99 cents

I'm embarrassingly addicted to lip balm and I have been my whole life.  A consequence of this is that I'm really picky about it.  I need lip balm to taste nice, and to glide and melt across my lips.  It can't be sticky and it can't disappear after 5 minutes.  Avon lip balm is probably what got me hooked to Avon in the first place because this lip balm meets my high standard.  I also remember this lip gloss from when I was a child, so I feel nostalgic even just looking at the picture.

These are great to have on hand to tuck into goody bags or to give as gifts.  Kids also like them, and at 99 cents, it's better for them to have their own than to mooch yours.

Antibacterial Hand Soap
Regular Price: $10.00
Sale Price: $12 for 4

We are very careful about using Antibacterial hand soap in our home. The fact is, you don't *need* to use antibacterial hand soap to get your hands clean.  Water, plain soap, and the simple act of washing your hands well will get any and all nasty things off your hands.  However, I like to have antibacterial hand soap around for when there is a bacterial illness going around in our family or at our son's school.  I was also required to have it in my family child care.  If you love antibacterial hand soap. Avon Antibacterial Hand Soap smells great, washes off easily, doesn't leave your hands sticky, and this is an AMAZING deal.  You can get $40 of hand soap for $12. 

I've not seen these go for any cheaper than this; normally they go on sale for $4.99 each.  Now is definitely the time to stock up. 

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Azriel's Birth Story

WARNING: The birth story is graphic. It talks about bodily functions. I didn't leave details out. It's not for the weak or people who are easily grossed out! Deal with it. Read at your own discretion =)

There are also graphic photos so probably NSFW.

I'm sitting here over a month after Azriel's birth, which is considerably longer than I waited after Aias's birth to share his story!  I figure I better get this written out before I forget the details.  Some things are already a bit foggy but technology is so helpful with the time-line as you will see!

So below is the birth story of Azriel Everett, born December 27th 2013 at 2:12pm.  He weighed in at 7lbs 12oz and was 19 inches long.

The Saga of "The Levels"

Aias received an Ematic FunTab Pro Android tablet for kids for Christmas this year.  I wasn't sure if it was going to be a hit or not, but it turns out he probably needs some sort of video game addiction rehab as a result (that's the topic of another post I'm sure).

The tablet was preloaded with tons of games.  One of the games, Where's My Water, that was put out by Disney, has quickly become an obsession of his.  Morgan and him spent like 2 weeks of evenings getting through the levels, collecting all the "goodies," and getting it completely unlocked.  It's pretty much all I heard about for the 2 weeks.  I was cool with it though because he's only allowed to play when it's dark and because Aias's ability to complete all the levels absolutely astounds us, especially because we created a being that is now old enough to play video games and solve puzzles (again, the topic of another post I'm sure).

Aias suddenly asked Morgan a few days ago if he could DELETE all the progress in the game so he could start over.  I thought this was a bad idea from the start and that he wouldn't realize how final the action would be, but Morgan wanted to give him a chance to make the decision. 

The thing is, Aias is often sure of things, as 4-year-olds are, and then when they are irreparably followed through on, he's suddenly not so sure.

Since he kept begging, and I kept thinking it was a bad idea, we asked Aias to make his request on video so that he could watch the video later in case he changed his mind and got furious with Morgan for deleting the levels.


So Morgan set forth to reset the game. It was a huge process which required ducks being poked in a certain order and the software repeatedly asking "Are you sure?"  Morgan had Aias complete each step and kept reminding him of how permanent the reset would be.

Aias lasted about a day being ok with it and now he has insisted Morgan either complete all the levels himself or sit and watch him do it, which I pretty much predicted would happen.  He denies the claim that he asked the levels to be reset.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

New Baby No Nursery

We live downtown in one of the most expensive but beautiful cities in the world.  Our neighbourhood is gorgeous. We can walk to the beach, to a world famous city park, and to get our groceries.

We don't, however, have much space.  As of now there are four of us sharing two bedrooms in an apartment that is tight, but actually bigger than many (which is hard to believe sometimes).

Friends and family from places where everyone has a house have sometimes asked us how we do it.  This has been brought up recently because of the arrival of our new baby, because it can be hard for some people to imagine missing out on what has become a modern ritual or rite of passage of setting up a nursery for a new baby.

In a smallish space, I found my nesting instinct did somewhat long for a nursery, but only when I let myself get envious of others who were setting their own nurseries up.  I had to catch myself on that when it happened.  Instead of setting up a baby specific space, I found myself setting up my entire home so that all four of us would be comfy when family member number four arrived.

As for where we put baby's things? Here are some pictures.

This is clean baby clothing.  Yep.  It lives unfolded in his basket in the living room. 

Our beloved swing/bouncer combo. PERFECT size for apartments!

Receiving blankets, bibs, etc. On the bookshelf in a basket in our living room.
Pack and Play is in our bedroom next to our bed. It's the change table and where he naps. Our bed has just a sheet on it since I co-sleep with him so that means no blanket. And look, it's the baby!

Breast pump and socks live in this bin on our kitchen table.  
Which by the way, is also in our living room.
Here is where diapers live.  We have a diapers, wipes, tons of covers, some sposies for night, many wet bags, etc.  There are some swaddling blankets in the bin on the bottom. You can also see our bin, our Snuza, and that horrible dresser that desperately needs replacing.
This bike also lives in my living room / kitchen / hall.  Thus proving I love my partner very deeply. But I digress.

And here's the baby, who spends his time on me :)

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