Parenting 2.0

Archive for February 2010


One day last month when Niko and I were hanging out with his great grandmother, he didn’t know what type of mood he was in: one second he seemed to be on the verge of laughter and the next on the verge of tears. He see-sawed back and forth for a while: shrieking, giggling, smiling, and pouting, pretty much until he found comfort in catching some zzzs. I think my grandmother put it best when she said with a smirk and a smile, “Well, he just doesn’t know if he’s happy, mad, sad or glad”.

Since then I have noticed that there can be a fine line between Niko’s laughter and a bout of pouting. Sometimes when he’s tired his laughter and tears seems to be on the same plane. I mean one minute he’s almost in tears, only to be distracted and burst into giggles, and then just as easily, a second later, go back to crying. I tried to catch this range on video, but really the best display is in the Happy, Mad, Sad, Glad, series of photos below, taken consecutively within about a 15 second time span.


It’s inevitable that babies will develop fears of certain things. As much as we want them to be happy and carefree, there will be something out there that eventually frightens them. Whether it’s the dark, a blue stuffed giraffe (which is what my friend’s son is scared of these days – he just can’t do enough to get away from it), a book, a movie etc. So yes, the fear will come, it’s a natural progression, I just think that we as parents don’t want to be the ones to induce it, right? But what if we induce it by accident…

The other day I read the story Where the Wild Things Are to baby N. Personally, I have always thought the book was a bit scary, but it is an award winner and Niko happened to have been given a copy (thanks Tamar), so read it we did. Now, to my baby’s chagrin, (and in part due to the fact that I think it’s a scary story to begin with) I used a deeper and scarier voice when I was reading – without even a thought as to how this could affect my little listener.

Little N was just sitting on my lap, innocently looking at the pictures and I was reading along full force, in a voice he hadn’t heard before. I know that reading to him is supposed to be about him and for him, but since he was facing the book, I couldn’t really see his face, until I was forced to look when I heard two little high pitched squeaks (a noise I had never heard before) coming from him. When I heard the squeaks I stopped and turned him toward me, only to see a huge pouty lip and two wide and tear filled little baby eyes looking up at me, as if to say, “Stop Mommy! I’m scared!”.

I quickly reevaluated the voice I was using, closed the book and held him close to reassure him that everything was OK. A few minutes later I went back to the story, this time with a softer baby voice, but it really didn’t matter: the damage had been done and he started to pout and his eyes got wide and filled with tears again! “OY! What have I done”?, I thought.

A day passed and I wanted to test out the book one more time. A glutton for punishment? Not really. I sort of just wanted to show him there was nothing to be afraid of. Anyway, with a new day and a new voice, he was fine with book. As long as I remembered to use a nice sing-songy voice when I was reading the part about how the wild things “roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws”.

One thing’s for sure, I definitely want my arms and voice to be a comforting source for Niko, a place where he knows the wild things aren’t! Lesson learned.


I roasted a chicken!

I made chicken soup from scratch!

And they both received seals of approval from all buds who tasted them!

Note the exclamation points after each of the above statements. They are there for a reason, for cooking really isn’t in my regular repertoire of daily activities and thus deserves the exclamation kudos.  But this week with a special on at Loblaws, – 5$ for a whole chicken – I couldn’t resist.

I have mentioned before what type of housewife I am, and on most days this just doesn’t guarantee a hot meal ticket. I know some stay at home parents are all about the cooking, but I for one, do not fit into this category. I don’t particularly enjoy it, and furthermore find it hard to coordinate a meal while little N is lingering in the background. But seriously, cooking this chicken and making this soup was, as my mother so often says, “really easy” – thanks in part to her long distance phone guidance: Supercook Extraordinaire just a phone call away. (Although if there is a gene for this, I don’t seem to have inherited it.) One thing’s for sure, these bouts of spontaneous cooking have helped to build my culinary confidence and succeeded in providing me with a few moments of domestic glory!

Borys: Who are you and what have you done with my wife?

Me: There are many facets to my personality, dear. Some smaller than others, and some so small you rarely see them, but surprise surprise, they are there!

Borys: I like it!


Balance is the key, right? It’s the key to maintaining harmony at home and work, and between home and work, but sometimes finding that key can be challenging! I mean I’ve got a car key, a house key, a bike key, a second set of keys, a key to my father-in-law’s, plus there’s the key to my heart… However, if I keep my sense of humour, and enjoy the everyday moments, finding balance becomes easier!

Currently I am enjoying being a first-time mom and getting to know my son, Niko. I try to maintain balance in my life, although inevitably the scales tip more heavily on one side from time to time. Finding time for myself is one key: I do cardio-kickboxing twice a week, while my hubbie Borys stands by on Daddy duty. Spending time with Borys, is another key: although we don’t have much time for dating (truth be told, we’ve only had one real date since Niko’s arrival), just hanging around together and talking and laughing about our day, provides quality connection time. Another key is getting out and about with baby Niko: I have some friends who are also on mat. leave, and getting our babes together offers entertainment, for everybody. Then there’s our spunky puppy Frasier, who provides lots of fun and laughs, and a good excuse to get us all outside enjoying the fresh air!

Is there a magic key to balance? Not really. Balance is a ring filled with keys, and each person’s key ring is different: what works for me, may be bunk for another and vice versa. But one thing’s for sure, life’s more enjoyable when we try (yes, we have to try, balance doesn’t just spontaneously happen) to maintain balance each and every day! So, what’s one of your keys?

Note: This post is an entry into “Mabel’s Labels BlogHer ‘10 Contest“.


We’ve all heard of the saying, less is more, right? Well, just to keep on the cliche bandwagon here, a picture says a thousands words, and it is obvious that less is more really doesn’t apply to my current situation!

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a reality show called: Attack of the Baby Stuff. Simply put our condo has been invaded by what were previously foreign entities to us: an exersaucer, a bouncy chair, teensy-tiny little clothes, a pack-n-play, a Bumbo, and the list could go on and on. I mean if you look at our dining table (which, truth be told, never was that tidy to begin with), it looks like it has become a Mount Vesuvius of sorts but instead of pouring out hot lava, we’ve got the baby version: a Baby Einstein play mat as the peek, and what’s pouring out is a car seat and car seat cover, a Baby Bjorn, a mini snowsuit (with token dangling mittens on a string), baby blankets, Baby Banz, and a diaper bag filled to the brim, not to mention, place mats, a newspaper, reusable grocery bags, unopened mail, my winter coat and scarf, and a bunch of other random items that I just can’t remember or see, due to the growing volcano.

You know when you used to play that birthday game as a kid, where you looked a tray full of random items for 20 seconds and then had to remember what they were? This is how I felt when I checked out my table and tried to remember all the little pieces that had collected on it: an older grown-up version of the game I guess! Fun.

But regardless of being under attack, Borys and I agree, it’s all totally worth it!


“It’s a real process.” These are the words I often find myself saying (or thinking) when I am getting the Niko Man out and about. For example…

1) When Niko and I were in the Halifax airport I was feeling sort of like a packhorse. Envision one mom, two large gym bags (one crisscrossed over each shoulder), and a diaper bag to boot, while one hand pushes the stroller ahead and the other one pulls along my suitcase behind us (thank goodness it had wheels). At one point I stopped to get ready for the flight: took off my scarf and winter coat and squished it into the wheelie suitcase, and unbundled Niko squishing his excess stuff into our two carry ons. A woman and her daughter were curiously looking over at me and smiling, and all I could think to say was: “It’s a real process, that’s for sure”! They smiled and reassured me saying that I made it look easy. I am not sure what looks so easy about being laden down with so many items, but this is just what they said, and it was a small moment of glory for me!

2) The other day when we went skating on the Rideau Canal with Lena and Heather, I ran into another mom in the parking lot who was bringing her daughter skating. Our cars were parked beside each other and it took us a good ten or fifteen minutes to go from simply parking the car to start wheeling toward the canal. As we both bustled about, taking care of baby business, I caught her eye and said, “It’s a real process getting out like this, hey”? And mid parking lot, snowsuit change of her daughter, she looked up at me smiled, laughed and agreed!

So, having a baby and getting him from point A to B can be a challenge and is definitely a process with all the cumbersome extras that come along with our delightful winter outings. But beyond winter, whether it’s bathing him, getting him into the car seat, strapping him into the Baby Bjorn, preparing him for the stroller, readying him for swimming lessons, whatever it is, it seems to take a lot of time, preparation and patience!

On the brighter side of things, I have noticed recently that this process is getting easier! Yippee! And this must be a reflection of my adept parenting skills, right?! 🙂 A few of the shortcuts I have discovered for making the process a bit more smooth are as follows:

1) Get the diaper bag ready while Niko is sleeping: zip it shut and put it by the door.

2) Put my scarf and winter coat on before I bundle him. Niko usually puts up a fuss when I get him ready, so the quicker I can bundle him and get him out the door the better.

3) If Frasier, our dog, is staying in, get him kenneled up (with water and tunes) before I start bundling the baby. (Again a testament to the fact that once the process of bundling the baby begins, it is best to hurry it along as much as possible, in order to avoid the impending fuss.)

4) If going out in the Baby Bjorn, secure it on me before I begin to bundle Baby N.

5) Take a deep breath. Give myself enough time. See the humour in things, and try to enjoy ALL the moments, even the crying ones (that’s the baby crying, not me 🙂 ), because before I know it, I’ll be back at work and he’ll be getting bundled by the babysitter.

Note: The pics are of Niko is his first swimsuit on his way to his second swimming lesson. Also, they illustrate my attempt at smoothing out the process by getting him into his suit before we leave the house (despite the fact that it’s winter). 🙂


How to integrate a puppy and a newborn? This question had been floating around in our minds since we adopted Frasier last April. When we got Frasier we knew we were expecting a baby in October, but seeing as we I really wanted a dog, we thought getting a pup before the baby was born would be a good idea as it would give us time to train him. So fine, one day I went out to get the pup and then the training and fun began.

Once we brought Niko home from the hospital, our philosophy was integration: Frasier wouldn’t be excluded from our family, just because he has four legs, a crazy tail and a spunky personality. I mean overall he is actually quite predictable, and although I don’t think you can ever trust a four legged friend 100% around a child, over the last few months our trust factor has risen considerably. Frasier mostly shows signs of curiosity towards Niko, giving him lots of puppy love and kisses. So much so, that I think we may have found a permanent babysitter for our little guy.

Borys and I often wonder who we will get to babysit Niko when the time comes? Now, I think we may have found a solution. And who is this new sitter? Frasier, of course! Just look how well Frasier is tolerating the little guy snuggling right in to him.  I am sure with a few short tutorials on diapers and feeding, he would catch on and be able to take care of Niko, no problem. After all, poodles are one of the smartest breeds, and his rates would have to be affordable considering we already supply his room and board!

As you can see in the pictures below, Frasier thinks putting Niko to sleep is as easy as one, two three. All it takes is:

1) A kiss to the hand

2) A kiss to the shoulder

3) A kiss to the head

And presto, baby N is sawing logs! Easy peasy. Frasier’s a natural! Let the babysitting begin.

Note: Pay no attention to the random hand in the right of the photos. It in no way signifies a lack of trust for the dog or any sort of feeling that these kisses may turn into love nips and then in fact have to be quickly nipped in the bud – no it does not signify that at all!


You know in movies when something really good happens and you see the sky open up, the light shine through and a choir of angels starts singing? Well, that’s how I felt this morning, when after taking a double take at the clock I was actually correct in seeing that it read 6:55 am! Whaaaaaaat!? Yes it is true. Munchkin Niko Man slept for 11 hours straight last night: his longest stretch ever! At which time I got up, fed him and he fell back to sleep for another two. Sweet dreams little man.

I, on the other hand, had not gone to bed at 8 pm like he had – try closer to 1 am for Mommy. And why did I stay up so late, you (and I) may wonder? I guess it was the double combo pull of Daddy being up and watching SNL, that lured me in to the wee hours of Sunday morning. However, even six straight hours is record breaking for me these days.

While Niko’s sleep patterns are still proving to be irregular, these longer stretches are happening more frequently: so fingers crossed that this is just the beginning of a new era!


It’s winter. We live in a second floor condo. We have a one year old standard poodle named Frasier. He has lots of energy. This combination of factors would usually be a recipe for a pretty rambunctious puppy, but I think all in all Frasier is a wonderful pooch and overall very well behaved. Seeing as we don’t have a yard at our current abode, I  try to get him out with Niko for at least one good run/walk during the day.

My friend Traci also has a huge dog (yellow lab named Buddy) and a baby, so she too likes to burn some of that dog’s pent up energy. It turns out that Buddy and Frasier are great playmates, and so are Niko and her son Eli. About once a week we get our entourages together and bring the pooches to a park near Traci’s house and let them run and romp to their hearts’ content (followed up by a celebratory pizza at Traci’s place). And we sort of look like this: two black belt mommies (yes, Traci was my karate partner in crime) pushing their two sons in three wheel strollers, accompanied by two large breed dogs leashed around our waists. Once we get to the park it’s leashes off and “Go Puppies Go”! (See short video by clicking on the link to the left.)


Since our trip to Halifax I have been contemplating starting Baby N on rice cereal. My doctor said anywhere between four and six months is an acceptable time to start, and Niko is over five months at this point. Of all the solids, they say rice cereal is the one to start with. The reason I have been thinking about it is because I think it may help him sleep a little longer at night. While my floors are not really looking forward to the impending slosh of rice cereal that may end up on them, I console them with the fact that we do have a living, breathing, panting, barking, self-pick up vacuum living right here with us, so perhaps the mess won’t be too bad. But more to the point: am I ready for the rice cereal adventure and all that follows with it? I have been thinking about rice cereal for the last month and have done nothing more than think about it, so if my pattern continues Niko will probably be six months before he actually tries it.

While I was pregnant Borys and I decided we wanted to go the cloth diaper route, but at the same time did not want to put too much pressure on ourselves to say this is the way we were going for sure: we wanted to try it out first and then make our final decision, and so far we love using them (perhaps it is the high pressured hose we have attached to our toilet that helps with the cleaning that doesn’t make it so bad…). Anyway, once Niko starts on solids we are going to be revisiting the merits of cloth diapering. From what I’ve heard, solids brings a whole new ballgame to the arena of diapering, so time will tell if we want to stick with them or not.


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