Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 35, A Trip To Toronto!

Week 35 was a great week for getting things done! I like to think of it as, "NURSERY WEEK", in which we got a lot of things accomplished for the baby's room. One of the greatest gifts we've gotten so far is from my cousin in Toronto, who has two lovely boys who sadly have outgrown their crib. When she heard we were expecting, she quickly offered her beautiful crib and change table top to us, which are made of such great quality, we never could have afforded them on our own. Also, the fact that it was so well loved means so much to me as well.

We went to Toronto the other week to pick up the crib (thank goodness we bought a Sante Fe), as well as any other "donations" from my cousin and her hubby that they were so generously offering. It was a bit of a drive, but we were so excited to finally arrange a visit with them, that time flew by. When we got there and she saw my tummy, she exclaimed, "Oh no! You are having a girl!" I guess she felt because of how my tummy is all out front instead of spreading wide, it was a girl, and well, all the things she had were for little boys. I assured her that we really had no idea what it was, and even if it was a girl, we are planning on having more than one baby, and well, I am so not opposed to my little one wearing something blue. :) We finally got to hang out with her little ones, who are way too cute! One of them was actually sitting in the closet when we arrived and didn't want to come out. It was so adorable. They really took to Chris, and kept him busy with games and toys while my cousin and I went through all the baby stuff. Later that night, we sat down to an amazing indian meal which was new to both of us. It was so yummy, and didn't cause me to have any heartburn! :D It's too bad that we are all so busy and live so far away from each other. We are just so thankful for all they have done for us, and cannot wait to go back and visit again, but this time with Muppet in tow.

The day before we went to Toronto, bright and early, my father and I went to go and check out a dresser I had seen on I was very concerned about matching the wood to the crib (which I could only vaguely remember since it'd been so long since I'd seen it).  I knew matching the wood would be difficult because the crib is such a natural, un-yellow colour, and most wood tends to take on a yellowish  tinge. Well, as soon as I saw the dresser I said, "You know, I think that is pretty darn close!" We picked it up (which was very difficult as it is huge and heavy and well, I'm pregnant and dad is a triple bypass survivor), but someone we got it onto the truck. After we brought the crib home and set it up, dad brought the dresser over in his truck and we held our breath to see how close the wood was. Would we have to paint the dresser? Buy a whole new one?.... Are you reading this in suspense right now?....

The colours matched PERFECTLY! I almost cried! We couldn't believe how exact they were, until I opened one of the dresser drawers and took out a little booklet. It turns out that the dresser is actually from the same company and line as our crib! How crazy is that?! I should have bought a lottery ticket that day. Needless to say, I am over the moon with happiness right now and couldn't be more pleased with how everything turned out. This nursery is quickly becoming my favourite room in the house, and all the pets agree with me too. Nobi sleeps on the change table, Neko sleeps in the crib and Sawyer sleeps on the decorative rug. It's a comfy room, and I'm sure Muppet will love it! We obviously have things to finish up in it, but we are well on our way! :D

I think I've also started nesting a bit again, as I am constantly wanting to clean and organize our house, as well as prepare meals for the future when baby is here. I have been cooking up chili and pasta sauce, as well as making attempts at baking, which if any of you know me, know is an almost impossible feat. After some ruined cookies, a "meh" cake and a few other sweets, I was successful with a deliciously moist batch of chocolate chip banana muffins! They were amazing! Now if only I knew how I made them, because by that attempt, I gave up measuring ingredients properly... :) Oh well, the baby won't be eating solids for a bit, so I have time to prefect my baking techniques. I'm also pretty sure I need one of those adorable KitchenAid mixers too... ;)

At 35 weeks, Muppet weighed as much as a honeydew melon, so at that point, I liked to picture Muppet as Dr. Bunsen Honeydew from The Muppet Show. :) Because of how big Muppet is, there isn't much room for crazy acrobatics, so it's mostly limited to shifting and stretching in my tummy. Apparently, my uterus is also now all the way up into my ribcage, which is crazy to think about, when you consider that it once was tucked up inside my pelvis. The things that your body can do, I tell you! :) I have noticed that my bladder is really getting touchy, as I have to pee all the time now, and any coughing or laughing fit can become a hazardous situation, sending me running to the bathroom, well, waddling anyways. Here is a photo of my tummy around 35 weeks pregnant. I think this photo explains why I have a bit of a swagger to my walk these days... ;)

My book choice this week is 'The Incredible Book Eating Boy' by Oliver Jeffers, though I have to say that any book by Oliver Jeffers is worth a read and a look, as the illustrations are so awesome and the story's are so unique! Basically, the book is about a young boy named Henry who loves books, but not the way most people love them. He loves to EAT them. He discovers that the more books he eats (math books, storybooks, doesn't matter), the smarter he becomes, and so he sets off to become the smartest person in the world. Eventually, his little tummy cannot digest all of the books he's eaten, and so all of his acquired knowledge begins to become jumbled up and he starts making big mistakes. Henry realizes he must find a new way to become the smartest person in the world, but how? This book is super cute and clever, with the most textured and detailed illustrations for hip kids of all ages out there. If you like this book, make sure you check out the rest of his work, as they are all equally enjoyable! 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week 34, Gone in a Flash!

Well, I am really behind on my blog right now, as I have been super busy lately. This week I will post both week 34 and 35, but separately as they are both way too long to read through in a single reading. So here is week 34 in a nutshell! :)

The first thing that really kept my mind busy was the closing of my little family's favourite bakery and deli, Angelo's. It has been a staple to Londoners since 1957, and is often seen as an iconic London fixture, one for tourists to visit, and also for families to frequent for their regular shopping trips. Chris and I have been going ever since we moved to London, as it is only a 'hop, skip and a jump' away from our home, and needless to say, it was one of our favourite things about where we live. No matter if it was just us looking for lunch, or if we had special guests coming over for a visit, we knew Angelo's would always have something perfect in store for us. We also loved how they were starting to expand their business by bringing in fresh produce! We were so excited about being able to do some "one-stop shopping", as now we were able to get our breads, meats, dairy and fruits and veggies! Somedays we would just pop by to pick up some fresh buns (the curly ones were my favourite), or a nice soft pretzel, or if the baby had a sweet tooth hankering, I'd pick up some delicious chocolate cookies. When I heard they were closing all of the locations, my heart sank. I had never felt this kind of sadness associated with a store before, because to me Angelo's wasn't just a store. It was a place where all the locals gathered to take time to relax, chat, and just enjoy the aromas of dough baking in a warm oven. It really made you feel like you were a part of something bigger than just yourself, almost like you were family. When I went in during one of their last days, I started to cry as I checked out. I explained to the lady that I was hormonal due to being pregnant, but that I was so disappointed that I would never be able to share my love of Angelo's with my baby. She looked at me with swollen red eyes and reached out to touch my belly. She asked when I was due, and when I said December, she said she hoped they would be able to reopen, and if they did by the time the baby was born, to go and see her, and she'd make the baby a cake. I was so touched by her kindness, but sad because you could tell she'd been crying all day. So many people had tears in their eyes while they bought their last loaf of bread, or last batch of Grandma's Butter Tarts. I truly hope that Angelo's will be able to open again, as they really do have the whole city behind them. I would love to be able to share such a wonderful, historical and local experience with my child and show him/her that family can exist in all different forms.

 The next unfortunate and stressful thing that happened was the return of my back pain, accompanied with one sided swelling of my right leg and foot. My mom was over and we were sitting on the floor playing with some puppies she is currently fostering. Normally I like sitting on the floor, as I find sitting cross legged to be way more comfortable then sitting in a chair. When I tried standing up, my back gave out and locked up on me. I could not get off the floor! Anytime I tried straightening it, it would seize and the pain would shoot through my body. Now, I am very familiar with back pain, as my dad has suffered with chronic back pain since I was born, and what I was experiencing was very much like his 'episodes'. The key is move slowly and on your own, without anyone helping you up, as only you can tell when it's going to flair up again. It took me a long while to move from the floor to the couch, and even longer to get from the couch to standing, but I was determined to get up because I had a prenatal class that evening that was to cover the birthing process (it seemed important at the time). ;) Luckily, it eased up enough that I could walk, but the pain lasted for a few days. Needless to say, I did not really join the group on the mats (our pretend hospital beds) at our prenatal class, instead I pretended to stay in the "car" which was actually the chairs in the room. I am very glad I got to go to that class through! I did visit my doctor, as I was quite concerned about the back pain and one sided swelling, and was told to watch for any chest pain or increased pain in the swollen areas. If I did notice anything, I was to go to the hospital, but luckily the back pain went away, though the swelling is still hanging around.

Another thing keeping me (and the pets) busy is squirrel watching. In our area, the squirrels are very numerous and love entertaining us with acrobatic shows. We all sit quietly on the floor by the back patio door and watch the squirrels quarrel over who gets first dibs on things left on our deck. There is this rather feisty squirrel who thinks he rules the roost and chases all the other squirrels away whenever they get too close. I am not going to lie, I really did sit on the floor for almost 2 hours with my dog and two cats watching the squirrels chatter and sprint around, fighting over cereal and apple slices.

Thankfully my squirrel watching has not been useless! Through my intense detective work, I have now been able to deduce who or what has been destroying our garbage, spreading it all over our deck and yard... The culprit? It is Mr. Chitter, our bossy little squirrel. He is so bold, he even came up to the garbage bags against the door and squeezed between them and the glass windows while my cats batted on the door. I love the nerve of this guy!

As of 34 weeks, Muppet weighs as much as a cantaloupe and is almost 18 inches long. His/her fat layers are continuing to pile on so when it's born, it will have the cute chubby skin that everyone loves to pinch. :) Muppet is continuing to move around a lot, and seems to be sure of it's footing now, as it's kicks really seem to be directed to certain places on purpose these days. Ya, I'm talking about my ribs and bladder. :) 

My book choice for week 34 is 'Red is Best' by Kathy Stinson. This book was also one of my favourites growing up, and I feel it really is a perfect read right now because of the cold weather that is quickly approaching. This book is all about a young child named Kelly and her love of the colour red, and how everything is always better when it is red.  I love how it deals with such a simple subject, but shows how parents and children can clash when we have to deal with everyone having their own ideas while managing the battle between imagination and common sense. Truly, you cannot reason with a child. :) I remember loving the simple illustrations, the easy storyline and the brilliant message of a child's logic in an adult's world, "I like red," Kelly says, "because red is best." 

"My Mom doesn't understand about red. 
I like my red stockings best. 
My Mom says, 'Wear these. Your white stockings look good with that dress.'
But I can jump higher in my red stockings. I like my red stockings best."


Thursday, November 11, 2010

33 Weeks, I Hardly Knew Thee. ..

Week 33 was a busy week (it seems like each week is rather busy, now that I think of it...). We were able to take Muppet to another concert, this time with Canadian indie folk-rock musician Dan Mangan who is best known for his songs "Robots" and "Road Regrets" at the Aeolian Hall. The opening bands were also amazing! The first opening band (The Crackling) featured the drummer from Dan Mangan's tour, highlighting as the lead singer with the rest of the band mates playing along and for one song, Dan Mangan actually came out and played the drums, so it was a bit of a role reversal. We had an amazing time, as the music was spectacular, the band was incredibly charismatic and, and hey, how can you have a boring night when you are encouraged to join in singing with the bands? The hall was packed, the acoustics were wonderful and the crowd was such an odd mix of hipsters and elderly needing hip replacements! Also, I felt like we were drowning in a sea of plaid. At one point, I leaned over and asked Chris if we had mistakenly gone to a lumberjack convention. After the concert, which included a super fun sing-along of "Robots", we were able to meet the musicians, and they were so humble and generous. One of them even has a side project writing children's music, which I cannot wait to hear!

We got their autographs, talked a bit, and Chris even bought me an adorable Dan Mangan shirt! (Please note, that is NOT my body... My shirt is "slightly" stretched around the midsection... ;) Muppet is so lucky to have been exposed to so much talent before he/she is even a year old! We are pretty sure that Muppet will be a Dan Mangan fan for life, as it bopped around like crazy through the whole concert.

If you haven't been exposed to the brilliant music of Dan Mangan, I invite you to click on the link below! He's truly a great artist and I'm so proud he's Canadian. :)

Our next fun activity was going to our prenatal class, which we have become quite fond of. We not only enjoy learning about pregnancy and labour together, but we also enjoy having an extracurricular activity that we can both take part in. We are now trying to figure out what fun classes we can take together in the future, after the baby is born. In this class, we learned all about the different stages of labour, different pushing positions, and we even watched a video. Luckily for us, this video was not from the 70's or 80's like most of them seem to be. :) After class, I was pretty set on wanting to get a birthing ball, as I think it would really help me cope during labour.

All during week 33, I suffered with a crazy bad cold, which ended up going into my chest, causing me to have some bronchial irritation. The unfortunate thing is that you can't really take much for illness when you are pregnant, because you don't want the medication to affect the baby, so mostly I just stayed in bed shivering, sneezing, coughing and whining. I even ended up taking a day off work (which I never do) because I was feeling so weak.

Taking that day off of work also shortened my work week, which was kind of sad, as that was my last week of work before I started my maternity leave, and even though I was still sick, I made sure I went for my last day, as I knew I was going to miss everyone. I can't believe I am all done! In one way, it feels great, because now I have time to focus on getting everything set and ready before the baby comes, but on the other hand, I do feel a little out of the loop. So far though, I am not bored. :) I have no time for boredom! Christmas is coming!

Speaking of Christmas, during week 33, I took down all my fall and Hallowe'en decorations and put up my winter decorations. I haven't gone into "full-on" Christmas yet (I wait for the snow to fall first before Santa can make an appearance), but I did put out my snowmen and Christmas coloured candles, potpourri and blankets. I am going to work on making a Christmas pillow this year too, with a snowman stitched on it. I felt the need to get my winter decorations out because I am starting to worry I won't have time to decorate once December hits. I don't want to be behind in case the baby comes early! I guess it's a good thing we bought a fake pre-lit Christmas tree last year, as I don't imagine I will want to cut down a tree and string lights on it this year, with the baby coming so close to Christmas. * Note: It takes me a couple days to put lights on the tree because I am crazy and believe each branch needs 2 sets of lights on it, and you cannot just throw them on, or wind them around the tree...yes, this is a very stressful process, but once it is done, you can't see anything but the tree...for real, it's blinding. I blame my mother for this obsessive compulsiveness. ;)

Every year my family goes to different tree farms to find the perfect Christmas tree. We have been doing this since I was born, I'm pretty sure. It is so much fun! We all bundle up in snowsuits, head out into the fields and start judging trees. (This process can take a long time, as my mother and I are very picky...). At the end of our day (truly, it does take the whole day), we go and sit by the fire-pits and drink hot chocolate or cider and go for wagon rides through the farm. Sometimes the farm has marshmallows for roasting, or free candy canes. Mmm! I'm still going to go this year, though I'll probably have to wear my father's snowsuit, as I'm pretty sure I won't fit in mine. I just love the family tradition, and even though I won't be buying a tree this year, you can bet I'll be scoping out the trees for next Christmas, as we can't wait to include Muppet in on this family adventure!

During week 33, Muppet weighed a little over 4 pounds, about the same amount as a pineapple! Right now, the baby is gaining around 1/2 pound a week, so the weight gain isn't just because of all the cookies I've been eating... ;) Apparently, the amniotic fluid has also reached it's maximum level, leaving less cushioning in my belly, which is why Muppet's movements feel so much stronger and intense lately. I have to say, Muppet is one strong baby! Somedays, Muppet stretches both upwards and downwards at the same time, resulting in me having to suddenly pee while clutching my ribs. :) I really enjoy watching the rolling motions of my tummy, and feeling the hardness of a little foot through my skin. Sometimes it is so hard to imagine that Muppet's little foot, that so far has only existed inside me, will one day be kicking a ball, or tap dancing on the floor.

My book choice this week is called "Someday", and is written by Alison McGhee. It is a wonderfully touching story that I consider to be the new "Love You Forever". Don't get me wrong! I love "Love You Forever", and I will surely have that one on my shelf, but it is nice to have options under the tear-jerker category in children's literature.

"Someday" is a beautifully illustrated story about a mother's love, hopes and dreams for her child as the child goes through many milestones in her life, until life goes full circle, "Someday I will watch you brushing your child's hair". It's a very simple, but moving story of motherhood that touches on a child's highest highs, and saddest sorrows, because truly, that is what life is all about. I gave this book to my mom when I found out we were expecting, as it really captured how she was feeling, watching me go through another milestone as her daughter, but now, also as an expectant mother.

Please read this book with a box of tissues beside you...


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Frosting On My Nose and Cheeks, Eating Cupcakes At 32 Weeks!

Last week, Chris treated me to a wonderful surprise! Razzle Dazzle Cupcakes! YUM! I cannot believe I have not had them before...but now that I have tried them, I don't know if I can keep myself away! They are spectacular! The store is located in a little house that is tucked away, so it can be hard to find, but it sure is worth the look! As soon as you open the door, the delicious aroma of baking cupcakes waves over you, causing you to drool uncontrollably. The shop is decorated with adorable frilly aprons, cupcake related merchandise, and of course, a huge display of cupcakes. Everyday they feature at least 12 different varieties of cupcakes, and apparently, they have over 80 flavours on their menu that you can order from, with flavours ranging from your classic Red Velvet cake, to the currently off-limit flavour of Baileys Caramel Lindy Hop, which is a cake injected with a Bailey's version of dulce de leche, and caramel frosting.

We decided on 4 flavours for our first taste. Chris got the Chocolate Cha-Cha and the Banana Jive (which smelled like banana bread). I got the Strawberry Samba and the Red Velvet Paso Doblo (mmmm, cream cheese frosting...). They were incredibly moist and so flavourful! I also loved how there was the perfect amount of frosting, and the fact that after eating the cupcakes, you weren't overwhelmed with the urge to check your insulin levels. They are so light, that you almost could eat 2 in a sitting...almost.

At Razzle Dazzle Cupcakes, you can order full size cupcakes, petites (1/2 the size), cakes, and  wedding cakes. They all come so delectably decorated and you can tell they are made with love. They are baked fresh daily (even though they are truly just as moist the next day), and are the most scrumptious treat you'll ever eat! Baby Muppet agrees, at least that's how I interpreted the crazy belly dancing it was doing after I ate my cupcake. ;)

Last week we finally got to go to our first prenatal class, and it was a lot of fun! I was really impressed with how attentive Chris was, and well, he really surprised me when he actually agreed to try on the pregnancy empathy belly! It was so funny watching him carry around all that extra weight, while trying to pick things up that I "accidentally" dropped on the floor. The empathy belly consists of a velcro band that goes across the upper ribs where your lungs are, that constrict your breathing, as well as a huge weighted belly filled with warm water (so you can overheat), weights that dig into your sides (like a baby's kicks), heavy boobs (because all men want to see what having breasts is like...haha), and a weight that pushes on your bladder (so they too can feel the urge to pee). I think it's a great idea, and helps your partner understand how even the simplest tasks can become difficult when you are carrying around all that extra weight. I have to admit, my favourite moment in class was when one of the men had to lay down on the floor wearing the empathy stomach and try rolling over, as if he was in bed. There was a lot of grunting and groaning. :) Another thing we learned was how to create a focal point while in labour. We were instructed to close our eyes while listening to the sounds of the ocean waves crashing on the shore, while the instructor helped us focus on our breathing and visualizations. I may have laughed and peeked at people a bit, as we were all seated around a table and it wasn't very private, but when I got home, I put on my own new age music and laid down in bed, doing my "yoga" breathing, and I admit, it was very relaxing. Next class is all about labour, so we'll see how that goes!

Another fun thing this past week was celebrating my favourite holiday of all time, Hallowe'en! I had plans to wear a more elaborate costume for Hallowe'en, but by the end of the day, I was already so exhausted and feeling a nasty cold coming on, that I decided to go as a pumpkin, as I felt that was very suitable considering the size of my stomach. I borrowed my dog Sawyer's costume from last year and went out with my husband who was dressed as the late Billy Mays. Despite the fact I had a kleenex up my nose the entire night, we had a lot of fun.

Chris (Billy), was being bombarded with people asking him to help them out with stains, due to many accidents with a batch of cupcakes that had a lot of food colouring in them, but sadly, he wasn't actually carrying around a bottle of OxiClean... It was actually a bottle of Fantastic covered with a homemade label on top. Too bad, as by the end of the night, Chris was covered in frosting himself. :) It was a great night, though Muppet was tired by the end of it, and probably confused as to why I was still up at 3 in the morning.

Sawyer dressed up as a horse being ridden by the Headless Horseman this Hallowe'en, a tribute to our honeymoon in Disney World on Hallowe'en, as we were able to see the Headless Horseman tear through Main Street USA during the Hallowe'en Parade. It was quite hilarious watching him spin and spin, trying to bite the pumpkin in the Horseman's hand. Poor dog. :)

At 32 Weeks, Muppet weighs the same as a Jicama, which is a sweet, edible root that looks like a turnip. Muppet is also around 17inches in length, taking up a lot of room in my uterus! Muppet has all it's nails, has real hair and it's skin is soft and plumping up. Muppet is definitely moving around lately, and not gently either! I am getting a lot of strong pushes and stretches even while I'm at work walking around (which is usually nap time for Muppet). I have also noticed an increase in hiccups, and sometimes those little hiccup sessions last for a good 15 minutes! I hope it doesn't annoy the baby, as I know how much I hate them. *Try this: If you see someone with hiccups, tell them you'll give them a dollar if they stop. Surprisingly it usually works... though I never have the dollar... ;)

I have really started packing on weight, and am really feeling it. I feel heavy all the time, which makes me want to sit down or sleep. I don't seem to have as much energy as I had such a short time ago. I'm sure it'll pick up again when I get closer to my due date, and start my frantic nesting and house cleaning. I'm now just struggling with wanting to get things done, but feeling to tired to do them. It's probably because I'm getting a cold now too, so we'll see how this week goes. :)

One night, while I was listening to music on my iPhone, I decided to put it on my belly so Muppet could hear it. Well, as soon as the music started, Muppet took off to the other side of my stomach! It was the wildest thing to see! My whole stomach shifted completely, like a big wave rolling by. I guess Muppet has it's Dad's taste in music. :)

My book choice this week is Chester by Melanie Watt. Chester is a book about a hilarious cat who duels with author and illustrator Melanie Watt for control over her book. He uses his fancy red marker to scratch out her illustrations and story, while rewriting it to suit his tastes. She initially sets out to write a story about a mouse living in a house, but Chester quickly pounces on the tale, sending the mouse packing and drawing himself living in the house. Every page is an amusing battle between the author and cat, making it a story children will want to read daily. I found it to be super adorable, and was so happy when two more Chester books were made. Melanie Watt is an author who has done amazingly well in such a short period of time. Her other popular books are the Scaredy Squirrel series and Have I Got A Book For You. They are wonderfully illustrated, quirky and just plain fun!