Monthly Archives: April 2011

The more things change

There have been a thousand tiny changes at my office since I left 14 months ago. It’s as if my pre-maternity leave workplace and my post-maternity leave workplace are represented by one of those Find The Differences puzzles, and as soon as I think I’ve got them all found, I notice the lampshade is a different colour or the window is ajar. They’re all small things, like where the tea bags are kept and how files are transferred, to who we call for IT support and how we update the website. It will take a few weeks before I figure it all out, but after three days I at least feel that I’ve got my head above water.

Some things, however, are exactly how I left them. My long distance dialing code is the same. My fingers tapped it out on their own the first time I made a long-distance call. Muscle (and ligament) memory I guess. I’m sure the half bag of nachos in the break room cupboard is the same one that was there when I left. In fact, I tasted one and I am absolutely certain of it. My burgundy desk still collects dust like nobody’s business, and my old faithful carpel tunnel is back after just three days on the job.

But three days in and I’ve already got the babysitting routine down. Up at 7:00 a.m., on the road by 8:00 a.m., drop Sylvia off at 8:50 a.m., resist the urge to call, text or drop by to see her for the next eight hours… home by 6:00 p.m. Three days of commuting and I already recognize the vehicles I’m sharing the drive with. Except for today. My babysitter had some unexpected appointments come up and we had to call in Plan B. As of 9 p.m. last night we didn’t even have a Plan B! It was a whole new experience to be calling friends and family, begging favours and juggling schedules. I know things come up and we’ll need back-up plans in place, I just didn’t expect to be calling in the cavalry on my third day back to work!

Our new routine should be back to normal tomorrow, but I’m quickly learning that any new routine is subject to change without notice.

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Back to work

8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Commuter traffic. I’m it.

But if there is a bright side to going back to work, it’s that I get to use my Laptop Lunchbox again.

Isn’t it pretty?

The Did-Do List

Before I had Sylvia, I read a great tip for new moms: Instead of making a To-Do list, keep Did-Do lists. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the neediness of a new baby, and the premise is to congratulate yourself on small tasks, rather than dwelling on the unwashed laundry, dishes, body, etc…

I kept a mental did-Do list in the early weeks and months. They usually went something like this:

1. Fed and clothed baby all day
2. Changed 8 diapers
3. Showered
4. Bathed baby
5. Set table for supper
6. Napped

Sometimes I included getting dressed, eating lunch, collecting the mail, and other mundane chores that actually take a whole lot of effort when there’s a baby permanently attached to your breast.

So on the eve of my return to work, I’ve decided to share a partial Did-Do list from the past 14 months I’ve been on leave. There’s lots I didn’t get done, like painting the stairs, organizing my boxes of photos, starting a compost or taking Sylvia camping. But, like the early days of new motherhood, I’m going to focus on all the things I did accomplish and not worry about all the things that didn’t get done.

Here goes.

While on maternity leave, I…

1. Fed and clothed baby for 12 months
2. Learned to breastfeed, breastfed exclusively for 6 months and continue to breastfeed
3. Ran 10 km
4. Learned how to bake bread
5. Made baguette, once, and learned not to spray water directly at the oven light bulb in the process
6. Perfected my Macaroni-and-cheese
7. Read a lot of books
8. Phoned Radio Noon Cross-talk three times
9. Travelled across the country, twice, with infant on my lap
10. Drove a pick up truck
11. Rode in an 18-wheeler
12. Picked 8 litres of blueberries
13. Developed my own delicious spaghetti sauce
14. Started (and kept!) a blog
15. Sent regular photos of Sylvia to relatives living away
16. Hung shelves in Sylvia’s room
17. Tried on all my clothes, donated ill-fitting items
18. Made baked mozza sticks
19. Did a lot of crosswords
20. Made lots of breakfasts, lunches, and suppers
21. Mastered avocado chocolate pudding
22. Got Sylvia to sleep through the night
23. Laundered countless loads of clothes, sheets, towels and diapers
24. Filed taxes twice
25. Organized all bank, insurance, mortgage, and utility correspondence in spare room/office
26. Re-arranged furniture in entire house, some rooms multiple times. Am now certain we are getting the most out of our furniture, storage and floor space (essential in a tiny house like ours)
27. Cleaned out the woodshed
28. Cleaned out the storage shed
29. Filled the woodshed full of wood
30. Filled the storage shed full of coolers, excess furniture, bikes and laundry machines

Many of my accomplishments took place in the kitchen or outside. No small wonder – they are my favourite places to be.

Today is a rainy day, which perfectly matches my mood. It’s calling for sun tomorrow, so at least I’ll have nice weather to welcome me back to work.

World record conquered

This was awesome.

31 bums, lots of babies, toddlers, diapers and cake. Awesome.

The Newfoundland location was hosted by Bellies and Bundles Maternity and Baby Boutique, a fabulous eco-conscious shop in St. John’s. The shop was unrecognizable when we got there, all the displays had been moved to the storeroom or pushed against the walls, foam pads and blankets were spread on the floor, soon to be populated by 31 babies 31 parents. The clock counted down to 2:00 NST, and off came 31 disposable and cloth diapers and on went 31 cloth diapers.

It was the first time I’ve had to keep an eye on my dirty diaper wet bag for fear it would get mixed up with any one of the other dozen similar bags! And so many adorable diapers! So many moms and dads discussing laundering, style, fit, brand… and so many sweet diapered bums!

I chose cloth diapers for largely financial reasons. We have about $500 worth of diapers and diaper accessories (liners and wet bags) and they’ve lasted since Sylvia was 3 months old or so. I fully expect them to last until she’s out of diapers, and for any brothers and sisters she may have. I’ve seen a number of figures thrown around on how much the average baby’s bum costs to diaper using disposables, and even the most conservative estimate I’ve seen ($1,800 for three years’ worth of disposable diapers) is more than four times what we’ve spent. It is a large up-front cost, but in the first year alone they have more than paid for themselves.

Washing them is not a problem. Toss them in the washer, wash, rinse, hang on the line or throw in the dryer. No more trouble than a load of towels or clothes.

Yes, you can argue that the extra laundry uses extra water, but the amount of detergent (1/8 to 1/16th of the usual amount for a clothes load of comparable size) is negligible. I’m keeping 50 to 60 diapers out of the landfill every week, and all sorts of bleaches and chemicals out of Sylvia’s body.

And, they are just so damn cute!

The Guiness Book of World Records certificate will add a certain something to Sylvia’s baby book, don’t you think?

So they grow

366 days ago…

1 day ago…

Happy Birthday, Birthday Girl

Seven days

In seven days, I won’t be here:

I’ll be at work, wishing I was here:

I hope it’s raining.

Culinary truths

1. Seafood pizza can be elevated to a whole new level by the addition of thinly sliced celery.

2. Carrot cake is delicious. Carrot cupcakes are a in whole other world of divinity.

Recipes, you ask? Coming right up:

Poseidon Pizza

Use your favourite whole wheat pizza crust. Whole wheat is the key.

Roll out dough on a rectangular cookie sheet (or pizza pan, or baking stone…)
Spread with a thin layer of pesto
Add thinly sliced celery, thinly sliced sweet peppers, sliced baby portobello mushrooms and sliced tomatoes too if you don’t mind tomato guts.
Add shrimp, crab, scallops, etc. to suit your tastes
Sprinkle sparingly with grated mozzarella cheese

Bake at 400 deg F until seafood is cooked and cheese is toasty.

Enjoy with a crisp beer or white wine, preferably within full view of the ocean. Don’t bother with a side dish of bread or salad, because you won’t want to waste any tummy room on anything but seafood pizza.

Carrot cupcakes with cinnamon frosting
Makes 6 large cupcakes

Mix together:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

Add:
2/3 c. oil
2 eggs
1 c. shredded carrot (Hello, food processor!)
1/2 c. crush pineapple with juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix until moistened. Pour into greased or lined large muffin tin (6). Bake at 350 deg F for 20-30 min.

Frosting:
Beat together 4 oz. cold cream cheese and 1 tbsp butter. Add 1/2 c. to 1 c. icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Add a pinch of cinnamon.

Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

You’re welcome.