Everything French!

Ok so I have never considered myself a Francophile… but perhaps I should re-evaluate this, as I seem to be rather obsessed with anything and everything French! The funny thing is that it is mostly baby related as well! Here are some of the French baby things I am currently loving

Books for Harper:

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – Did you know they made Madeline in bored book form? Yah I found this and HAD to have it! I have and will always love Madeline… great bedtime read!

Tiny Traveler: France: A Book of Colours – “the cheese is yellow”, “the beret is black” and other life lessons… hehe so cute!

Paris: A Book of Shapes (Hello, World) by Ashley Evanson – This book is so French I just love it! Versailles, The Arc De Triomphe, the page with the Patisserie… it’s amazing!

All Aboard! Paris by Kevin Meyers – a board book with french and english labels for things… even if you can’t speak french… very fun!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – they make little bored books as well as the obvious classic!

Kiki & Coco in Paris by Nina Gruener – a precious book with photographs of a girl and her doll in paris… really special!

Osborne: My First French Word Book – probably a bit to soon for H, but for kids a bit older very fun! I remember I had a few of these and I loved seeing words in different languages!

Books for mom:

Babe Day By Day by Pamela Druckerman–This is the follow up to “Bring up Bebe”, which I admit I have not read. The “Day By Day” was a super cute, easy read, that you could pick up and read a page or two easily. The basic idea behind these books is an American mothers view on French parenting style.

Shout out to my local librarian for passing on some of the delightful books mentioned above! Library Love 🙂

Clothing:

I am in desperate search for a beret for little Miss H… but no luck yet! However I have acquired a few awesome items for H to wear. These include many stripes, a trench coat that matches my own, French PJ’s and even a sleep sack that has a wiener dog wearing a beret (I swear this last one is just an odd coincidence!)

Food (ok this is more for me and H’s dad)

Macarons – oh if you are in Calgary please do yourself the favour and check out Ollia Macarons & tea… I am seriously obsessed! Me and some of my mom friends actually did their macaron class before Christmas… it was awesome!

Julia Child’s cookbook… because isn’t everything better with more butter?

French wine… have to prepare ourselves, would hate to not know what to taste!

Weekend away

This weekend N and I took a big step. We actually went away for a night without the tiny human! Grandma came up to our house and happily took little H and ushered us out of the house… ok she basically had to push me! We have gone for a few hours (dinner, movies, that sort of thing) before but this time we left for a full 24 hours!

Why was it so hard?

This same weekend another one of my friends, with a little one, went away for the first time as well and so we both chatted before on why we were stressing about leaving. We were both leaving our precious ones with people who we trusted absolutely… so our brains told us “it’s fine! Chill!” It was our hearts that were saying, “are you sure about this?” I wonder if it’s almost a basic instinct that was keeping us from gleefully skipping away for a full nights sleep. As I was walking towards the car, away from my happy munchkin, my gut almost felt like it was dropping. N and I made a plan that we both needed to stay busy and I needed to stay far away from babies!

What did you do?

We had wanted to go for a hike, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t into that idea. We ended up taking the long way to Banff… up to Cochrane, with a stop in Canmore for some gallery viewing! There was a sunny break just as we were pulling off the highway towards Banff when we spotted a parking lot near a huge waterfall. We decided to pull off and see if we could make it a bit closer to check it out. This turned out to be a fun little adventure! We took a lovely little path to the bottom and then did a little bit of scrambling up before we got a bit stuck and made out ways down.

After our impromptu climb we checked into our hotel and explored Banff. We popped into many stores and ended up at the Banff Ave Brewing co. for a pre dinner drink. We love this place and its super relaxed atmosphere and local brews! Dinner was at Park Distillery. We had a great time tasting their in house booze and then maybe consumed one or two cocktails followed by some delicious “campfire” food and even a camping inspired dessert… s’more mousse anyone?

So how did it go?

The funny thing about finally being able to sleep in… you think we could? I was up at the same time little miss H would wake me up… so after a bit of lazing around we were off to our favorite restaurant, The Bison, for brunch and then headed home! Walking in the front door and seeing that big smile and hearing that baby giggle was the absolute best! According to grandma their sleepover went fabulously! I instantly felt a sense of relief. I am sure grandma will baby sit again and hopefully it will be a bit easier on me next time! As parents we hope that H will be an independent individual and also respect that we are also independent individuals! We are very fortunate that the little munchkin does have an adoring aunt and grandparents that are happy to push us out of the house to spend time with her!

I did find it rather timely that only yesterday there were a bunch of articles about how crazy people got over Chrissy Teigen going on a date night after having her baby like a week ago… seriously people? Maybe the idea of us leaving our almost 10 month old has you shaking your head… but seriously this parent/mom shaming needs to end! I personally was in no state to go out for dinner when H was 9 days old… but I still I think “you go girl!” I am sure she still missed her little one dearly. I just don’t understand where these haters are coming from. Perhaps you would not have made this choice… no problem… no children were in danger so why so much anger?

Parent on my friends!

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Why we Choose NOT to Post Photos of our Baby on Social Media

First off I want to be very clear that if you do post photos of your little one I think that is great! I love seeing what my friends little ones are up to, and yes I have been sucked into the Instagram baby-hashtag-vortex (you know when one cute baby leads to another and another). I by no means want people to stop posting photos of their cuties! I have had many people talking to me lately about why I don’t post pictures with little Miss. H’s face…. this rambling is simply why I have made the choice I have.

I have heard the argument for safety. To a certain extent I can see that point of view but that isn’t my primary reason. Perhaps when she is older I could see the concern about someone knowing exactly what she looks like, what her name is, where she lives, and all those personal things, but at the moment… I don’t think that would make much of a difference.

The future… “okay where is she going with this” you might be wondering. To me the future is the reason why I am trying to hold back on the social media. I don’t know what the future will look like and I would like to allow H to control her media presence. It might sounds a bit silly, but if you think about it did you have photos of yourself slathered all over the internet since you were a baby? Probably not! Do you have a few photos from University that are particularly unflattering or from that Exchange Trip where maybe that haircut should not have happen …. maybe you would rather not have those moments immortalized on the internet? I consider myself fortunate that the worst thing out there are very unflattering photos of myself, but nothing to be ashamed of… but still I know that those photos are out there forever! I hope that one day H might say “hey mom it’s cool if you post that photo of me throwing up all over you” but if she says “thank you for not posting that photo” then that’s ok as well… at least it’s her choice!

However your child is represented on social media use it as a “teachable moment”. When little H wants to go onto Instagram or Twitter or whatever crazy new thing will be out there, I hope that I can use what I have and haven’t put on social media as a lesson. I think this can apply to the parent who shares every single adorable photo possible; to the parents who you weren’t even aware had a child, according to social media! As a teacher, and a person who is aware of kids and technology in general, there are some scary stories out there concerning kids and technology. I hope that with our experiences (H, her dad and myself), this will open up a dialogue about why we made certain choices.

What about other people? Have I allowed others to post a picture of her… yes… I was fine with that. I appreciated that they asked first, as I think that should be a bit of a common courtesy if you are posting a photo of someone else’s child. I am not going out of my way to create a media blackout on her behalf, simply minimizing what is out there. There have been moments where I have wanted to post a photo so bad, but I have made a conscious choice not to. Did I post a ridiculous naked bunny photo at Easter… guilty… my rationalization… it could have been any baby and if she does find it horrifying I feel like I can take it down!

What about family away? I know many people who post photos so out of town family can keep up to speed with what is going on… AWESOME! I think that is a great use of the technology we have. We actually do something similar… we just have a private file-sharing program! What has worked really well for us is Google Photos! We have made a private shared album that has been working like a charm. It is great for the more “technology shy” people in the bunch who simply click a link, I have emailed them, to check out new and old photos. The more technology friendly people can be added as members and even add photos to the album themselves (it is super fun if N and I are on a date night and we can see what aunty or grandma is up to with H!).

Parenting can be rough enough without other people telling you what you should or should not be doing… so whether you choose to flood social media with your little one, share absolutely nothing or do something in the middle… you do you!

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Library Love

From an early age my parents instilled in me a love of the library, which continues to this day! Growing up in a small town we were fortunate to have such a great library with so many resources and wonderful staff. I loved the summer reading programs, choosing a book on tape to listen to on a road trip with my mom, checking out the latest “Seventeen” magazine or just browsing through all the books!

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I just got my Calgary library card this year… shameful! I blame this on my book buying obsession… seriously my basement has it’s own library growing! “But you’re a teacher” you might find yourself saying… again it is shameful… but I have had the best librarians who would get whatever I wanted from other school library’s if my school didn’t have it!

So why now… finally… get a library card. A friend of mine recommended I sign up for a singing program with H, so in minutes I had my first, free, Calgary Public Library Card… and so did my tiny baby! Since then I have been kicking myself… what the heck was I waiting for?

I cannot recommend getting involved with your local library enough! We are absolutely hooked on our Rhyme Time program! It has been great to meet new people and get out of the house. I have taken SO many songs from it and use them daily with the little munchkin. The best part… it’s free!! There are programs for all different age groups, not just babies!

Being in a large city, like Calgary, I love that if there is any book I want they can just bring it in from another location within days! in the few months that I have had my card I have taken out everything from book for H, travel books, cookbooks, and novels for me! The librarians are SO knowledgeable and friendly. And I have to say some of the programming they are doing is so cool… from kids to adults!

So if you haven’t checkout out your local library… do yourself a favour and go… now… what are you waiting for?

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Top Ten Newborn Essentials!

Things change so quickly with a little one it is just seems yesterday that I was desperately searching the internet for what I REALLY needed for a tiny human. I have written about what the toys we loved from 0-7 months, board books that are must haves, diaper bag essentials, but a few of my friends keep asking me what about the things you need when that first little one comes home… here are the my top 10 things for bringing home baby!

  1. A car seat and stroller: you gotta get that little one home and safe. For me I wanted a car seat that clipped into my stroller (hence why I put them in one category)… this was a must for me, I needed this sense of convenience when everything else is a bit crazy! I LOVED my car seat… the stroller itself… meh… the access to the basket is kinda brutal to access.
  2. Something for them to eat: A great tip I was given was to check out the big formula brand websites and they will often send you samples! This is great because if there is an allergy or if you eventually want to start supplementing. you can test them out! I was fortunate that nursing came relatively easy (for sure not the case for everyone) so something for H to eat wasn’t much of a challenge… however things as a nursing mom I can’t imagine not having breast pads and I lived in nursing tank tops! There is a lot of support for breastfeeding, but there is also a lot of pressure that can become rather intense. I have always believed, and more so even now, you can only do so much… as long as you are doing your very best to keep your baby healthy, safe and happy (forumal or breast milk) that’s all you can do!
  3. Somewhere for them to sleep: I know many people who have thrown up a pack and play in their room as a temporary bed for their tiny human, I would have gone this route most likely but I was lent a bassinet. Being that we live in a bungalow I was super excited to be lent a free-standing bassinet with wheels (It looks like this)! It was super convenient for us… unfortunately because out munchkin was rather large she didn’t stay in there that long (glad I borrowed it!). I know some people choose to co-sleep, so you might decide you don’t actually need anything, but it is important to have thought about logistics at the very least!
  4. Swaddle: You can buy special swaddle sacks or just use a blanket… we loved using a light muslin blanket from Aden + Anais (they have come in handy for more than just swaddling as well!). Anyone else thinking about that “How I Met Your Mother” episode where Marshall Swaddles Lilly… hehe
  5. Little hats/tiny clothing: You will want something for your munchkin to wear and depending on when your little one is born a hat can be very important. I have seen some articles about over heating baby… we had H super bundled and she seemed to love it… even in July.
  6. Soother? Maybe? I fought giving H a soother, but eventually caved. I was convinced that my child would NOT use a soother (why and how I came to this conclusion I can’t actually tell you!). I do know initially I really didn’t want to mess with her feeding but once that was well established I don’t know what my issue was! She had a high need to suck thing and would often suck my finger to calm herself to sleep (I think she was trying to tell me something!). Once we introduced a soother I was kicking myself as to why I fought it so bad! We are very limiting with it still… but it was the best thing ever! We used a Wubba Nub for the first few months  with it. It was great because you could sort of balance it on her and find it very easily. I do know that some babies just have no interest… so this might not be any help at all!
  7. Poop changing stuff: That would be what my husband said when I asked him what we used when H was really little… and it’s a fair point! Baby poop is so odd… the funniest thing is that I bet any parent, with an older child still in diapers, will tell you they miss those early poops… seriously as soon as you introduce real food… game changer… and not in a good way!
  8. Big exercise ball: This is one of those items that someone told me I needed to get and I was a bit confused about, but now it is the first thing I suggest to expectant moms! This ball saved my life I swear!!! When it is 5 in the morning and you barely know your own name, being able to sit on this ball while lightly bouncing a very grumpy baby achieved some magical results. Even at 9 months is H is really upset about something (darn teething!) a gentle bounce will usually calm her down when nothing else has worked!
  9. Noise machine: We found this really helped H sleep… but to my surprise it really helped me sleep! I had no idea how loud babies are… and when you are a new mom and they are right beside you… you hear EVERYTHING. Having a noise machine in our room with her was awesome!
  10. Support: Whether you find support through a partner, a family member, friends or even an online community… having support is so important to your mental and physical health… and as I often tell my husband after a bit of a shopping spree… happy momma = happy baby!

The Importance of a Traveler’s Mindset

I think it is important to acknowledge that travelling can be very intimidating and sometimes kind of scary. I like getting out of my comfort zone, but at the same time there is a reason why it’s called a “comfort” zone! Before every trip I have ever taken I always have at least a tinge of anxiety… Will I like this place? What if I get sick? Am I going to have any fun? And so on and so on… so often we think about the worst-case scenario. I think this is normal; we just need to be able to realize when we might be being a bit silly and overcome these fears. I remember friends “confessing” they were nervous about going somewhere, like it was some something to be ashamed of… Are you kidding me… when I went to Egypt I was so nervous, South East Asia I thought for sure I was going to have a horrible time, even my first all inclusive I remember worrying I would be bored silly (all these trips were amazing!!). Once I acknowledged my worries or concerns, I always try and think about all the positive things that might happen!

It won’t be long now until we are off for a two week vacation to France with little Miss. H. Am I nervous… YUP! Do I occasionally find myself thinking, “what have I committed myself to!!” maybe for a few seconds, then I remember I LOVE THIS! Could it be very challenging with a time change and a different culture… sure! Will we survive… absolutely and have some amazing stories to tell, no matter what! So much of travelling is about your mind set… if you let your fears and anxieties take over you are most likely going to have a horrible time, but if you acknowledge these things and then move on you are going to be in a much better state to accept the awesome things a trip can offer you. Having a positive attitude will always win over a negative one!

Now that we are travelling with a little person I think our mindset is even more important than ever… these little munchkins pick up on a lot more than we give them credit for! If mom and dad are stressed do you really think the kiddo isn’t going to be stressed? Even in everyday life how many time have we seen a kid fall, look around, notice no one is looking and carry on playing or OR the opposite… kid falls, adult comes rushing over and the child pauses, realizes they should be frighten, and loses it! Obviously there are exceptions to this given example, but generally if we have a positive attitude kids will reflect this, if we are worries, stressed, scared, whatever… kids reflect this!

I will leave you with two of my favorite quotes that I think apply to my general travel philosophy….

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” Helen Keller

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Heart Creek Trail

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N and I love to go hiking so we have decided to make a goal of going for at least one hike a month… not necessarily a strenuous hike or anything, but just a great reason to get out to the mountains, not clean the house, but simply do something fun together! I guess by posting it here I am making it official! There is something so calming about going to the mountains. It reminds you that there are bigger things out there… cheesy perhaps, but still true!

Our first hike was up Heart Creek Trail. It was a fairly quick drive out to the trail head and a really nice hike (although I can see that it could get very busy!). We were a little concerned about the potential for ice and/or mud but there was only one slightly sketchy spot (and with some support) we made it just fine! For some reason the little one wasn’t in the greatest mood heading out so we started to consider if this really was the best idea. Once I had her in her carrier facing out we knew that she would be just fine!! As new people approached us, going the opposite way, you could see them light up as H gave them her biggest smile or giggle. Everyone just kept saying things like “someone is having a great time”, and “that is one happy baby”.

There were a ton of families on the hike (I even ran into a former students from 4 years ago!). I wouldn’t say it is toddler friendly, but kid friendly yes! It was also interesting to see lots of rock climbers along the way. At the end, if you are feeling really adventurous, you can climb along a little canyon to see the waterfall… we didn’t get that adventurous ourselves. I feel so lucky to be able to be so close to the mountains and to take my little peanut and expose her to the fun of exploring!

For more information on hiking with an infant… CLICK HERE

For more information on this particular hike… CLICK HERE

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