Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bend it like Beckham...sort of

Last night, E had his first organized soccer game in over 10 years! Our friend, Jody invited E to join the team, which is made up of Jody's husband and friends. It's a coed team part of Extreme Toronto Sports Club [XTSC] and one of the rules is that 2 women need to be playing at all times. Since there were only 2 females present yesterday, they both had to play the entire hour, while the guys were able to switch out periodically. [How is that fair?]

Since it was an early game that wouldn't interfere with Indio's bedtime, we cheered from the sidelines, watching the action with the CN Tower as a backdrop. It was perfect summer evening, not too hot, not too humid.

The other team was short 2 players and still seemed to be able to hold their own! They gave Westside United a run for their money, though in the end WU came out on top with a 4-2 win.

The team is named after Jody's newly-opened school, Westside Montessori School in downtown Toronto. The school will soon be celebrating its 1st anniversary. I can't even put into words how proud I am of Jody and her partner, Liz, for starting up their own school. Jody and I did our Montessori training together at Toronto Montessori Institute back in 2000 and here she is, being her own boss and doing what she loves: passing on the brilliance of Maria Montessori. Westside serves children aged 18 months - 6 years. Last March, E, Indio and I visited the school. I was so impressed with the thought that went into every detail when setting up their classrooms. Not only did the asethetics speak to the Montessori *prepared environment* but also to Jody's own funky style. It was a modern-day Montessori wonderland. [I'll have to get some photos to share!]

E and his fancy footwork.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

How much crap does one woman have to take?

In the last week I have dealt with more *pooplosions* [baby and dog poo explosions] than any woman should have to. I don't know how much more I can handle! From Indio's infamous every-other-day-I'm-eating-solid-food non-solid explosions to Cassius taking a initiatory *loose* dump in my childhood bedroom less than an hour after we arrived at my folks' place last Monday.

On top of these *surprises,* being the sole-caregiver for Cassius during the Toronto garbage strike has made for necessary detours on our walks to find appropriate receptacles to dispose of his waste.

Lucky for me, the germaphobe that I am, E was out of town this week, leaving me to deal with the messes on my own.

I can still manage the stench of a baby poo since Indio's eating repertoire is pretty bland. Doggy doo-doo, not so much.

E's flight lands at 12:30pm today. I'm ready to hand over the rubber gloves!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Good Stuff: Got a baby on your back?

We've been in Toronto for almost 4 weeks and until Thursday, I was without a baby carrier. If you asked me 8 months ago what kind of carrier I would be using with Indio, I probably would've replied, "Carrier? Why would I use a carrier when I'll have a stroller and two perfectly functioning arms?" I registered for a Baby Bjorn anyway, more because *everyone was doing it* and because I thought all carriers were alike.

How wrong I was! Little did I know about the assortment of carriers, wraps, and slings that are on the market these days. Little did I know how much some of them cost!

At first the Bjorn was great. Teeny-tiny 6lb Indio fit snugly in the Bjorn, which we used for walks in the park with Cassius since it was easier than putting Indio in the infant seat and attaching it to the stroller, then lugging it all down the apartment stairs just to go to the park and being a new mom, I didn't trust the "two perfectly functioning arms" not to spontaneously throw Indio from them in the middle of the street. [Remember, I was sleep deprived and hormone full.]

But around the 4 month mark when Indy's weight was now in double digits, the Bjorn wasn't as comfortable and really it just felt like I was lugging around sacks of potatoes on each arm. My back wasn't happy and Indio wasn't as happy as before.

So of course, I started reading. Reviews, websites, mommy blogs, product inserts, anything I could get my hands on about the latest and greatest carriers out there. Did you know there are some women who buy these things like they buy shoes: never enough to just have one!

One carrier I kept seeing in Fort Greene on moms and dads and kept reading about online was the Ergo Baby Carrier. A fellow Brooklyn mom and friend, J lent me hers probably because she was sick of me hemming and hawing about forking out $120+ for something that might only work as long as the Bjorn.

Well, from that first walk home from J's place with the Ergo securely fastened to me, I was a convert! It was like carrying a baby cloud! So light and fluffy! Gone were the sore shoulders, aching back, and screaming baby. All Indio's weight was squarely placed on my hips, which are much more appropriate for supporting a baby! I barely felt anything on my shoulders or back. And I would be able to use it until Indio was 40lbs! [Will I really be carrying a 40lb child regularly?]

I used J's Ergo every single day until I had to give it back because we were leaving Brooklyn and she was getting ready to have baby #2 this October, so she would need it once again. And stupidly I didn't buy one before we left for Toronto.

This week, while E was back in NYC for business, and I was on my own with both Indio and Cassius I realized just how much I missed having an Ergo. The ease at which I could take Cassius out for a walk with Indio strapped to me was gone. I had to lug out the stroller just to go for a stroll. We ended up staying with my folks for most of the week just so I wouldn't have to take both boys out at the same time.

While perusing the Dear Born Baby website I noticed that they had a few of the Ergos ON SALE! This is generally unheard of so of course I couldn't pass it up! As soon as Indy was in bed, I dragged little bro to the Thornhill baby store because of course I wasn't going to wait or pay for shipping! I bought myself a black-retro Ergo and used it the minute I got back to my folks'. I took Indio and Cassius for our inaugural walk. It made my day to be able to pick up dog poop and tire Cassius out with the Chuckit all while holding Indio *hands free*.

[Not me, just an image I found online.]


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Good Stuff: Chuckit

In an effort to show E and Cassius that I really do enjoy having a dog, I offered to take Cassius out today for a run in the park while E busily prepared his presentation for his workshop in NYC next week. This job usually falls on E, though we manage to take one *family walk* each day.

In the 17 months we've had Cassius I have never taken him off leash when walking him on my own, but I decided that today would be the day. I brought along with me the most invaluable tool for any dog owner, especially those with a high-energy dog like Cassius: the Chuckit. It's a long-handled ball launcher that allowed me to throw the ball much farther than I can naturally and I didn't have to touch one drop of dog slobber. Fantastic! After only a few throws across the field, Cassius plopped down in the shade of a tree. Mission accomplished.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

212 days under our belts

Indio is officially more than halfway to his 1st birthday. Wow, that was scary to type. I know I've said it before, but I really can't believe where the time has gone. And even more, I can't believe how much our little guy has changed -- from the 6lb squirmy bundle we brought home in December to this active, personable 18lb little boy he has grown into.


Our recent move to Toronto has brought about a lot of changes for our family, including more space for Indy and Cassius to roam and explore, both in and out of the house. Though he isn't crawling, Indio gets up on all fours and scoots his way around like our very own inchworm. His favoured mode of transportation these days is rolling here and there. He's quick, so we have to keep an eye on him at all times. He is very comfortable sitting up, which serves us well when we are feeding him.

Indio & Cassius tired of the papparazzi

We are elbow-deep in the solids adventure and Indio's favorite food right now is nectarine, though he really hasn't shown a dislike to anything so far. Since going the route of baby-led weaning [read about it here], Indio has become more of a participant at mealtime, which is really just tasty playtime for him! We have given up trying to wipe him clean after eating, and opt to dunk him in the tub instead! It's much more efficient at getting all the fruit bits out of the creases.

The best way to eat is in your skivvies

The talking is hilarious! Indy has conversations with us, with Cassius, and sometimes with himself. A common scene in our house is E and I trying to sleep during the wee hours of the morning while Indy kicks, blows spit bubbles, and talks to us. Who needs an alarm clock when you have a baby? *Dada* was officially his first word, though I use the term "word" loosely because Indio has no idea that E is dada and just babbles *dadadada* for everything. It's crazy to hear the growth in the number of sounds he can make as each day passes.

Today, Indy and I went to a Mother Goose class at the local Ontario Early Years Centre [OEYC]. It's a free program available to anyone with young children. This class was geared towards babies aged 0-12 months. There were 22 babies in the class! Along with rhymes [most of which I didn't I out of the loop?], we did a *craft* of hand/footprints [I hope this ink comes out of Indy's clothes.]. Snack was also served, though we were too busy washing our hands to partake in eating cucumber, honeydew, Arrowroot cookies, and coffee. Indy enjoyed the rhymes and *sang* along with me, but he screamed as if he were being tortured during the craft portion.

Mother Goose at OEYC

It's been a whirlwind of activity recently and the time is just flying by. If I could slow it down, I would, but for now, I'll just try to capture the memories.

CN Tower family photo op


Monday, July 13, 2009

Giving up control

About a month ago we started giving Indio *solids*: avocado, sweet potato, banana. We chose not to start with baby cereal, but with fresh vegetables and fruit instead, mushed up and mixed with breast milk. I did a lot of reading about feeding solids and recently came across a lot on the topic of *baby-led weaning*, which essentially states that the child should decide what and when to eat solids and that it wasn't necessary to purée everything in sight!

It's funny how once you read something you start seeing it pop up everywhere. This past Saturday, the Toronto Star printed an article in the Lifestyle section all about baby-led weaning, quoting Gill Rapley, British public health nurse and author of Baby-led Weaning.

Now, Indio isn't going to choose his food at the grocery store, or even out of the fridge, but the idea is that you put food in front of the child and let them go at it, or completely ignore it, whatever they choose. That also means that I have to give up some of the control, but it sounds like it could be a good thing. It also reminds me so much of my Montessori training where we were taught to *follow the child* by letting the child choose work from an array of developmentally-appropriate material presented to them.

Saturday evening, when friends were over for dinner, I decided to start Indy with a spear of cucumber. [It's suggested that food should be *french fry* shape, and as big as the child's fist.] Though he doesn't have any teeth yet, Indio was able to take a chunk out of the cucumber and began gagging. I had read that gagging was natural, but my instinct was to sweep my finger through his mouth and remove the incriminating piece. He even threw up a bit. That put an end to my experiment, and I was left thinking that I was destined to months of using the foodmill.

Today, I decided to give it another shot after reading more about gagging being a natural defense for babies to learn how to eat. I peeled a hunk of nectarine and presented it to Indy in a bright blue plastic bowl. He was much more interested in the bowl so I had to take the nectarine piece out and hand it to him. After a brief inspection, he brought it to his mouth and took a hunk out of it with his toothless gums. Again, he gagged and again I freaked. But, once I got the piece out I let him try again. He took a few more tastes before tossing it aside, giving all his attention to the blue bowl. I guess he made his choice.

Noshing on nectarine


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer in the city

We've officially been in Toronto for 10 days. It still feels like an extended vacation, but we're slowly settling into our routine. Every morning we take our family walk to the park, which usually lasts an hour or as long as Indy can hold out before he's due for his nap -- cue mini meltdown. E and Cassius get in a few laps around the track while I leisurely push the stroller and drink my Nova Era coffee.

Luckily for us, we moved here during the City of Toronto workers strike. [read: lots of sarcasm] That means no mom-n-tot swimming classes at the community centre and no garbage pick up...for the last 2+ weeks. The park we walk in is a garbage drop off point, so the warmer the day, the smellier the walk. There doesn't seem to be any end in sight, which is really frustrating as *Toronto the Clean* is beginning to look a lot more like NYC's dirty streets. People seem not to care about throwing their trash on the streets or beside the city garbage bins, which have been Saran wrapped shut. [The plastic has been torn from most of the receptacles I've seen and garbage has been thrown in and around them.]

Our corner trash/recycling can.

Garbage drop off area behind the blue fence.

This strike has made me realize how much I took for granted here. I'm used to clean streets, great community programs, and free health care. Last week, when we visited our local OHIP [Ontario Health Insurance Plan] office, we were told that Indy and I would have to wait 3 months before qualifying for health care and E would have to wait at least a year. So much for socialized medicine. The odd thing is that if Indy were adopted from the US he would be covered the minute he moved to Ontario. But because he is a *returning* Canadian citizen, he has to wait the 3-month grace period.

And I thought I left the woes of NY behind.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For little "worm-feet"...

A big pet peeve of mine is bad grammar or poorly spelled signs. Has anyone heard of *spellcheck* or *proofreading*? Case in point: cell phone photo taken by R in Brooklyn at North Pacific Playground [this is a sign for a government agency!]:

[I'm sure if you scour this blog you'll find errors too, but I do my best to avoid them!]


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