Monday, 1 October 2012

Gems from James

Lucky you on a Monday!  I've got several gems polished up just for you!

While reflecting wistfully on his wife's always inconsistent disposition since Gracie's arrival on the scene:
"You were such a happy pregnant girl."

While shopping online:
"Look at this hat!  I don't know how much it will cost by the time I pay the shipping fee, but it doesn't matter because it's the hat I've always wanted!"

Declining my pro-offered scarf while holding our naked baby at the outdoor farmers' market on a fall day mid-diaper blowout change:
"She's going to have to learn to deal with the cold sometime."

Said the stranger passing by:
"She's shivering!"

Mentally preparing herself for the cold.
The Griswolds are preparing for another vacation - I'm sure there will be some tasty morsels for you when we return!
Shelby

Monday, 24 September 2012

Goal Oriented

We've been very busy this past week round these parts.  Busy-ness which has included, but was not limited to Gracie's four month shots, swim class, moms' group, lunch with nana, coffee with friends, and my triumphant return to (substitute) teaching.  All of this activity has meant the nap schedule has gone.  Off.  The. Rails.  And I knew I would have to pay the piper eventually. And pay I have.  So, at four thirty this notmorning notnight, I vowed that we would not be messing with the tattered remains of the nap schedule for at least two days.  Our public will just have to wait to see us for awhile.  Which will of course help build our mystique.  I know Suri would approve.
So, knowing I would be under house arrest for the next couple of days, I began setting my goals for the day.  Did I mention it was four thirty?  That may explain why my goals are somewhat mismatched.  But whatever - the important thing is that I have goals, right?
Here they are, in no particular order: Have a nap, bake this chocolate zucchini cake, work up a sweat to my new Jillian Michaels DVD.  Guess which one is yet to be accomplished?  But it's only four thirty in the pm.  Coincidence?  I think not.
It's busy-ness like this that will get you into trouble . . . 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Parenting Fail

It's been quiet* Chez Quinlan, save for the sounds of teeny, tiny sneezes and equally teeny, tiny coughs.  But we've survived it.  That's right, we've survived our first cold.  And we did surprisingly well.  Gracie still managed to get some sleep, which is amazing, because when her mother has a cold, she needs no less than three pillows propping up her stuffy head, two NyQuil, a big ol' cup of Neo Citron, and half a tub of Vicks in order to slumber while sick.  Gracie?  She had none of these luxuries, although I set the box of NyQuil on her dresser to see if it would have a placebo effect.
Aww, baby's first cold!  Another milestone to add to the baby book!
Having escaped the first cold with very little to complain about, Gracie so kindly decided I needed more fodder for my blog and obliged yesterday by napping for no more than 15 minutes at a time.  Until her late afternoon feeding that is, when she decided to conk out in my arms for a solid two hours, knowing I wouldn't have the guts to put her down.  Thank goodness I have many, many episodes of Ellen on the PVR.
Fearing a similar scenario today (which CANNOT happen because today is new moms' group day - the one day I get to see other people, and I NEED Gracie to be semi-pleasant while we discuss Victoria Beckham's new collection) I laid Gracie down for her morning nap and was rewarded with a chorus of screams.  And grunts. Gracie never screams when I lay her down, so I figured the suspiciously clean diapers of the past day and a half had something to do with the screams and the grunts, and swooped in with the Ovol. Having calmed her enough to coax some of the elixir down her gullet, I approached her with the eye dropper, and dropped some Ovol in her eye.  Oh, that's not what an eye dropper is meant for?  Whoops, silly me!  Don't worry.  Gracie reinforced that lesson with piercing screams the likes of which I look forward to hearing again next week when I take her for her immunizations.  After exhausting herself with all of that screaming however, she's been sawing logs for a solid hour and a half so far.  New moms' here we come!
Shelby
*That's a total lie.  It has not been quiet.  Gracie has found her volume button, and her cute coos and babbling sounds have turned into shrieks.  Not unhappy shrieks, just shrieks-for-the-sake-of-shrieking shrieks.  Is this just a phase?!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

More Surprises

No one ever told me she'd laugh like this.  That dripping sound you hear?  It's my heart melting.  That and the leaky kitchen sink neither Jimmy nor I have the brain/will power to repair.  Is it ridiculous to call a plumber about a leaky sink?  I feel like they'll laugh at us for being too incompetent to repair it ourselves, then charge us a trillion dollars while they laugh some more.  I think I'll just stick another cereal bowl under the drippity-drip and go eat up my daughter instead.
Shelby

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

GMQ Makes her Debut: Part 3

If you missed part 1 or 2 (not that you ever would) you can look them up here and here.
The last bump pic.
So, we were waiting at the desk - the empty desk, apparently the only desk in the whole wide world that has staff capable of admitting a labouring woman, even one who is lowing like a cow and terrifying every patient everywhere.  Jimmy was in disbelief and didn't know quite what to do.  I was just glad that I was no longer in a car and could resume my counter leaning and hip swaying routine.  I'm not sure how long we waited, but finally two ladies entered through a door behind the desk wearing their cots and carrying their lunch bags, clearly just arriving for their shift.
"Oh my, have you been waiting long?" They ask.  "Where is Maria?  She is supposed to be on shift now!  No one was here to help you.  Oh my!" They went on and on, until another contraction came and my grunting and groaning prodded them into a very medium paced course of action.
And then the porter, the poor porter arrived.  The man who had to convince me to sit in that wheelchair.  Who came up with this policy?  Don't all the books say a labouring woman should walk and move to bring the baby down?  I tried to explain to him that after this was all over I was pretty sure I'd never sit down again, what with all the busyness of being a parent and the life sentence by hemrhoid I feared was about to be mine.  I told him I was just preparing myself for a life on two feet and would be happy to walk myself to labour and delivery, but he was having none of it.  Sensing I had found a man who wanted to do things by the book, I tried to negotiate.  I said I would get in the chair only if he promised we could pause so that I could stand up if I needed to.  He didn't seem to understand that the world would stop turning if I couldn't stand and sway my hips and he started blathering on about how it would be best to get me upstairs as quickly as possible where there were people who would help me.  Wrong tactic buddy, no one could help me now, no one and nothing but the graceful, hip swaying dance of the tropics.  Clearly he wasn't about to be swayed by a (normally) petite blond, so that's when I went gangsta on him, and he smiled and continued to insist I get in the chair, which I did, like any gangsta would.
Once we arrived in the delivery room, my new obsession began.  Gone was my fixation on hip swaying and here to stay was my fixation on poop.  You're probably thinking I was worried about poop appearing on the delivery table, as so many are, but you would be wrong.  The pressure had become so intense that I felt sure if I could just poop, all my woes would be righted, and we could get on with having this baby.  But no, said the nurse, I can't let you poop, it's not time to push.  She did tell me that I was at 6 cm, and that when it was time to push, the poop would come on it's own, which gave me little comfort, but I was about to find out that "comfort" isn't a word my nurse was familiar with.
To distract me, my doula suggested a nice warm shower, so Jimmy got changed into his swim stuff and we prepared to enter the warm water.  I got in, and tried to do the lean and hip sway, hitting my head on the many safety bars attached to the walls and promptly got right back out.  Jimmy complained about the fact that he had gotten changed for this two second dip, and I felt really, really, bad about inconveniencing him.  Or not.
So, leaving the pint sized shower stall behind, I made my way to the bed where we found we were making good progress.  Nine and a half centimeters!  I nearly leapt with joy at the thought that the poop baby would arrive soon!
I continued to gently murmur through each contraction, keeping my voice at an always pleasant volume.  After a contraction passed, I would exclaim that it wasn't that I was in pain, there was just so much pressure, and when would I be allowed to poop?!  Nurse Comfort, sensing she would have to do something to motivate me to continue, checked things out and confirmed it was time to push.  Halleluah!  So with the next contraction, I pushed.  Nurse Comfort stood at the foot of the bed, arms crossed and eyes narrowed.  And she stayed there until the next contraction when I pushed again.  I looked at her, expecting some kind of encouragement or update on the arrival of the poop, and she offered up a real pearl.
"Shelby, I'm going to need a little more oomph," said she.
Even Jimmy, the man who will, by the end of this tale utter words no man should utter in a delivery room knew that was not the most encouraging or instructive thing to say.
Thanks goodness for my doula, because had I only my nurse's directions to guide me, I would still be in that delivery room waiting for my baby to learn how to crawl so she could enter the world under her own power.  As it was, I ended up pushing for about an hour and a half, and I was exhausted. We all thought this would be a fairly small baby, maybe six or seven pounds.  I don't know why we thought this, based on all the DQ Blizzards I ate throughout my pregnancy, but we did.  So while my mom was holding my hand, giving words of encouragement, her thoughts were not so encouraging.  She told me afterwards she was thinking we were in big trouble if I couldn't push this little six pound baby out!
But we slowly made progress, and soon my entourage was exclaiming things like, "I can see the head!" and "Look at that unibrow!" which motivated me enormously.
And all of a sudden, she was there on my chest.  I remember being so surprised when I heard she was a girl.  She looked so big to me!  She proved our hunches wrong again, weighing in at a healthy eight pounds two ounces.  There were many tears and exclamations when she arrived.  And I thought the hardest work was over.  But no, there was a small issue with the placenta.  After waiting about 45 minutes for it to deliver to no avail, my doctor gave me some laughing gas so that she could call in a large man wearing soccer cleats to jump up and down on my abdomen to "help things along".  So, placenta delivered, there was just one small item left to take care of involving a surgical sewing kit.  
I have never had stitches ever in my life.  I hate needles and am afraid of every and any surgical procedure.  So, still high on laughing gas, I began loudly voicing my fears to the room.  Jimmy, proud new father, comfortably seated in the rocker with his daughter offered some words of encouragement.
"Remember the time I had to get ten stitches in my lip? I did just fine, and you will too."
Ahem.
My doctor (bless her heart) threw him a death glare and said in the iciest tone she could muster, "This is just a slightly more delicate area."
Silence.
And I survived her handiwork.  
We settled in to get to know our new daughter, Jimmy and I and my burst blood vessels.  Jimmy had a couple of hours to spend with us before he got back on the road to Calgary to win his playoff game, even scoring a goal in the process.  It was fun to watch online in the hospital, and Gracie got several mentions during the broadcast.  Jimmy made it back to the hospital by about two am to spend the rest of the night with us.  I was very lucky to have my family stay with me during the day, and my sister through most of the night so that I wasn't on my own.
Ready to go home.
So Gracie has known how to keep us on our toes from the beginning, but her timing was perfect! Her dad was there to meet her and still got to his game on time.  And it makes for a pretty good story ;)
Shelby

Saturday, 25 August 2012

GMQ Makes her Debut: Part 2

If you missed part one and its cliffhanger ending, check here.  Otherwise, the saga continues.
I'm lying in bed, warm water soaking me, and I can't believe it.  Tonight, of all nights! I'm home alone, and Jimmy is three hours away.  I got out of bed, grabbed my phone and walked like a bow legged cowboy towards the bathroom.  Because in my mind, walking like a bow legged cowboy was somehow going to keep me from getting myself and the floor wet.  Oh-kaaay.  I clearly wasn't thinking straight at this point.  I sat down on the toilet and dialed Jimmy.  It went to voicemail, so I hung up. I couldn't string the words together in order to leave a comprehensible message.  I was shaking like a leaf and could barely hold on to my phone.  Jimmy, woken up in his hotel room in Calgary, of course saw that I had just called, and probably wet the bed a little himself.  He immediately called me back and I told him we may need a new mattress.  I clarified and said that my water had broken, but that I was fine, and wasn't feeling any contractions yet.  He told me he hadn't even unpacked just in case and that he'd be in the car in minutes.  
Next phone call, my mom.  Having been told that my water had broken, my mom uttered words that shouldn't be retyped on a family blog.  Something that rhymes with "Oh, spit, spit!".  I remember that calmed my nerves, because it was kind of funny to hear my mom swear.  She assured me that as soon as she located some pants, she'd be on her way over.  I hung up, still unable to move myself from my perch on the porcelain throne.  As I was trying to gather my resolve, I got a text from Mama Hughes, PR agent extraordinaire, wishing me luck.  Clearly, Jimmy had notified her that he was leaving Calgary for the big event.  (On a total tangent, you could watch this interview with Jimmy's assistant coach early in the day that I went into labour.  Neither Jimmy or I knew about it until after Gracie arrived, so knowing how things turned out, it was funny to watch.)
My mom arrived at my house around 1 am, and I was still feeling fine.  I waddled around, checking my bags and packing the last of the snacks, talking a mile a minute, my mom all the while trying to convince me that I should lay down and get some rest.  Finally I relented, and laid down on Jimmy's side of the bed since my side was a little damp.  Not long after laying down, the contractions started.  I remember thinking, I can handle this!  This was also the beginning of the kazillion trips to the bathroom that continued through the night.  I've never had to pee so much in my life!  Not even after drinking a Big Gulp while 9 months pregnant.  So. Much. Peeing.
Jimmy arrived home after I had made the thousandth trip to the bathroom, right around 3 am.  Things were getting more intense.  He promptly tried to use the hypnobirthing techniques we had been practicing, and I told him to cut that something-that-rhymes-with-spit out.  One of only two times I swore in labour.  It wasn't the hypnobirthing itself that was annoying, it was his voice.  Not his real voice, his hypno voice.  We agreed he could still say the hypnobirthing stuff, just in his normal voice.  Having solved that matter, we moved on.  I tried laying down, and that was a no.  I tried sitting on the exercise ball, and that was a definite no.  Finally, I found a comfortable spot sitting back on the couch, Jimmy rubbing my shoulders, and my mom rubbing my legs.  We had called our doula to come over, and I remember thinking, thank goodness she'll be here soon, because I need a drink, and if either of these two move from their posts, I'm going to get cray up in here. Because when I'm in labour, I get a little thug like that.  I told the porter at the hospital who was ordering me to sit. in. a. wheelchair I was going to bust a cap in his something-that-rhymes-with-glass (second time I swore in labour.  True story. Or is it?).
The doula arrived and I got my drink, scotch on the rocks.  Or just cranberry juice. On the rocks.  The contractions were definitely getting more intense, but I wasn't watching the clock.  I let other people do that for me, because A) it's hard to tell time on an analog clock on an ordinary day, and B) I didn't want to be clock watching. I'm not even sure how long I pushed for, but I do know that it was not a short amount of time.  But I digress.  More on pushing later.
This was the point at which I declared loudly that I didn't want to do this anymore.  A classic hallmark of  transition.  Things were gettin' serious, yo.  It was about 6 am and our doula suggested we start making our way to the hospital.  But I didn't really like the sounds of that either.  Getting properly dressed and having to be in a car sounded about as appealing as spending an evening with at karaoke with the Chipmunks.  But I did it, and we arrived at the hospital, me moaning and swaying through each contraction, ready to be checked in at Emergency as it was around 6:30 am.  
So there I am, gracefully swaying and moaning not at all like a cow, and the teenage girl already being checked in looks back at me, terrified that I'm about to deliver this baby in front of her.  
"Umm," she stammered, glancing nervously at us, "I think maybe they need your help!" She exclaimed to the woman behind the desk.
"No, no," says the kind emergency desk woman without even looking up, "I'll finish checking you in first."
"No, I think she's in LABOUR!" Say the panicked girl, pointing out my bovine song and dance.
"If you're in labour, you go to that desk there," says the ever helpful emergency desk lady, pointing towards a desk where there are no people and no lights on.
Jimmy did tell her there was no one at that desk, but she cared not and told us to wait.  Yes, wait.
As you will have to do for the third and final installment in this epic tale!
Soonish, I promise!
Shelby

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Surprises Abound

There are many things that are surprising about being a new mom, many things no one talks about or thinks to tell you.  Until I was pregnant, I had no idea that contractions would continue after giving birth during every nursing for the first few days.  Surprise!  I'd have preferred a nice bundt cake instead, but beggars can't be choosers.  There are those things that everyone talks about, such as the lack of sleep.  Can we please all agree to stop telling expectant parents to stock up on sleep while they can?  It's so annoying, and not scientifically possible to stock up on sleep.  Sleep is not like a casserole - you can't throw it in the freezer and pull it out after a really rough day.  Although maybe eating a lot of casserole could make you feel sleepy . . . 
But do you know what has surprised me most about being a new parent?  I am trapped in my house.  Now that Gracie is almost three months old, she no longer sleeps on the run.  We have to be home for her three daily naps.  Yes, three! Another surprise.  I thought there were only two naps.  Apparently there will be only two as she gets older, but for now, it's three.  I know I can't complain because there are parents out there who struggle to get their baby to take one nap, and my girl goes down very easily.  And yet here I am, still complaining.
Even though I had a vague idea that there would be naps, and we would have to be at home for them, I had no idea how tight the timeline would be.  There's only about an hour and a half window between the time Gracie wakes up and the time she's ready to wind down for the next nap.  And in that hour and a half, she needs to be fed and changed.  How is a woman supposed to get groceries?  And see other people who speak words?  I've tried going out to the mall, which is only a few blocks away, but I still end up running through the back alley home, trying to pinch Gracie's toes so she'll stay awake until we get home and I can lay her down.  Because she will fall asleep in the stroller, but only for a half an hour or so, which will turn her into a fire breathing dragon for the rest of the day.  A cute, fire breathing dragon,  but a dragon nonetheless.  
So it's a trade off in which both options seem unappealing: Do I want to lose my sanity because I'm trapped in the house, or lose my sanity because my child is in a foul mood?  I knew stay at home moms stayed at home, because I am fluent in English, but I just didn't think it was this stay at home!  And I'm a homebody - I like to be at home!  I guess I just don't like feeling trapped at home by the napping schedule.  And is it just me, or are all those mommy and me classes, which are supposed to be designed to get moms out of the house, scheduled at the two times of day the majority of babies should be napping?
I'll stop complaining now.  I just saw a woman on TLC who already has two sets of twins and is about to give birth to her third set.  She's going to need a casserole or two. 
So, if any of you other moms out there have ideas on how to take my mind off of being stuck at home, I'll take them.  I've been doing some baking.  Just yesterday I made a chocolate loaf with healthy beets "hidden" within.  Surprise!  The beet loaf was gross.  Sigh.
Shelby, Pity Party Planner Extroadinaire

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

GMQ Makes her Debut: Part 1

Let me take you back, waaaay back, 107 days back, to be precise.  What was happening 107 days ago? It was May 4th, my due date.  And it seemed like nothing much was going on.  Which was okay, because Jimmy was hitting the road and heading to Calgary for a playoff game.  We were both nervous about him being gone, but we figured the odds of this baby coming on her due date were low. Which is why we are not statisticians, because it turns out the odds were pretty good.
But back to the story.  We had decided Jimmy would go to the game, and should anything happen, he would only be three hours away by car.  Jimmy spent the morning at work, then came home for lunch.  I made him a delicious steak quesedilla, then waved from the back door as he drove off.  The afternoon was spent doing important things, like napping and catching up on old episodes of Ellen on PVR.  I got a text that afternoon from Mama Hughes, who does PR for Jimmy's team.  I asked her to take special care of Jimmy that weekend, as he was anxious being away from me.  Her response? 
"Don't worry. This baby is a boy and will definitely be late!" 
HA! Oh the foreshadowing! 
So, I was napping and watching reruns, letting the time pass until I could meet up with my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law at a local craft fair.  These ladies are serious craft show browsers.  We go twice a year, and it often takes four or five hours to browse all of the always well made items, after which we have a late dinner out.  I knew I would not last that long walking, and it was very likely in my whale like state that I would pass out long before the late dinner began, so I planned to give them a head start on their browsing.  When they phoned to say two hours of browsing had passed with less than half of the wares seen, I decided to pass on the crafting and join my parents for dinner and then join the crafters for dessert.  After some fortifying chicken fingers and ceasar salad, and one call from a nervous expectant father, I finally met up with the crafters.  I had felt a couple of sharp kicks throughout the evening, but didn't think much of it.  Jimmy called again just as I was getting in the car having finished a delicious chocolate sundae.  I assured him nothing was going on and headed home to bed.  Having locked the doors, gone to the bathroom for the millionth time, and said a prayer, I laid down, surrounded by the three million pillows required to support my girth for a comfortable night's sleep, when my water broke.
Cliff hanger, or what?
Shelby

Friday, 17 August 2012

Griswold's Family Vacation

We made it out alive.  We've survived our first family vacation with bébé in tow.  We spent one week in beautiful Victoria, just the three of us, then joined up with seven other Griswolds in Kelowna.  What makes us the Griswolds, you ask?  Some highlights, just for you:

  • Arriving in downtown Victoria dressed for winter on a record breaking 30 degree day (record breaking!  It was freezing just two days before) and having to buy a completely new outfit before I melted in front of the historic Fairmont Hotel.
  • Waiting in line an hour and a half for Victoria's best fish and chips, then having to run to the car twice (once to pay for more parking minutes, a second time because we forgot to take the keys to put the newly purchased parking pass in the car) just as the (well worth it) fish and chips were served.  Ok, Jimmy tells me they were worth it.  I don't eat fish.  Only chips.  Which makes the wait even more mind boggling.
  • Jimmy nearly running over my foot as I tried to retrieve our first born from the back seat of the rental car.
  • Finding, upon our arrival in Kelowna, that the airline handled our play pen so delicately, they managed to break every spring loaded joint in its frame.  Jimmy recommended we just lay our baby on THE FLOOR OF A RENTAL HOME to sleep.  Did I mention Gracie just learned how to roll over?  So I came up with a much classier solution: buy a playpen and return it at the end of the week.  What?  We decided the colour palette didn't work for us.
  • There were many more incidents that qualify us for the Griswold standard, but I'll spare you and give you just one final escapade.  We arrived at the airport for the flight home, and as I picked Gracie up to go through security, I felt moisture.  I realized instantly that I had forgotten to pack any extra clothing in our carry on and spend the next several minutes praying it was just a pee leak. Withe bated breath I opened the diaper to see it was definitely not a pee leak, but Gracie more than answered my prayers by providing a pee fountain seconds after I opened the diaper.

Nothing says Griswold like a naked baby in an airport.  Nothing.
There were also many un-Griswold like moments.  The beautiful Butchart Gardens were absolutely incredible.  Knowing it's taking them 100 years to create their garden makes me feel better about the state of my own.

There was naked rolling over.
The naked roll over stage 1.
The naked roll over stage 2.
And because I know you can't tell on your own: The naked roll over stage 3.
And swimming.  Or swim-sleeping?  Either way, very safe, I'm sure.
Birthday parties.
And of course, spaghetti.  Spaghetti that had to be inspected, strand by strand, before being eaten.
I'll be back soon with the promised and much anticipated birth story.  The story that I swore I wouldn't want to talk about with everyone.  But now?  You couldn't shut me up if you tried.  Actually, you could, if you had ice cream, or chocolate, or cake.  Or chocolate ice cream cake.  Anyway, I've become the annoying woman who won't stop talking about pregnancy, birth, and her child.  I guess that's ok.  It's kind of a big deal.  At least to me!
To tide you over until my return, a Gem from James, vacation edition.  We were walking in downtown Victoria when I made mention of the idea of a push present, and my gratitude that my husband was blissfully unaware of this recently created tradition.  James' response after I explained the significance of a push present? 
"I'm glad I had never heard of a push present!  Sounds like a giant scam!  Where's my "I got one past the goalie present?!"
Indeed.
Until next time, much love from the Griswolds!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Anybody Still Out There?

Loooong time no see, blog o' mine.  Those first few weeks with Gracie were rough, let me tell you!  The question "How are you doing?" would bring hot and instant tears to my eyes, because I could feel the last vestiges of my old life slipping through my fingers.
"Remember when you used to just go to bed?"  I'd think to myself.  "Wash your face, brush your teeth, and lay your sweet little head on the pillow?"  In my new life, bed time meant a terrifying bath time experience with a shrieking, red-faced, Kiebler elf posing as my baby.  It meant many, many minutes of back ache inducing rock/walking, finished with a cirque du soleil-esque balancing act as I tried to lay Gracie down without waking her.  Then I would drag my bag of bones to my bed and lay my head down only to be woken several seconds later by my sweet needlet.  I remember crying hysterically to Jimmy at one point "I don't want to be sooo responsible for her every need!"  Guess I should've thought that one out a little better approximately ten months ago . . .
Bath time now invokes lady-like modesty and a micro smile.
But I can tell she's sm-eyes-ing a la Tyra Banks.
So, I thought I'd give you the Coles Notes version instead of letting my cyber tears ruin your coffee through every live long day of that beautiful transition period into motherhood. Thankfully, there were many real people over whom I could spill my real tears.  My own mother was very sympathetic, as were my sisters and sisters-in-law.  One of my friends understood my tears, after some explanation.
The convo went a little something like this:
Me: I just can't stop crying! (Said while cry-choking)
Friend: Aww, are you crying all the time because you love her so much? 
Then the tears came even harder because I was definitely not crying all the time because I loved her so much.  I was crying all the time because she terrified me!  I didn't know what to do with her, and no matter how many books I read, or whose advice I followed, I couldn't get a handle on her schedule.  Did it matter that anyone and everyone I knew who had ever come into contact with a real baby told me that a newborn will likely not follow much of a schedule?  No.  I kept reading my books when I should have been sleeping, looking for an answer.  One day Jimmy had to coax me off the ledge via phone when I called to cry to him while he was at work.  "I think it's great that you love to read books and try to find new ways to do things. But you know who's not reading all those books? Gracie."
He was right, of course.  Despite giving her my reading glasses and propping open The Baby Whisperer in front of her during tummy time (the chapter on Y, where moms are supposed to get You time - I wanted her to absorb all of that one, thank you very much, the faster the better) she wasn't toeing the line. 
Anyway, this is not turning out to be such a Coles Notes version, but I'm so certain you've missed my long windedness that you're basking in the warm glow of my complaints.  Long story short, and to everyone's relief, I do love my baby now!
Who wouldn't love this half grin?
Hormones having abated, and sleep being had at night (by Gracie, not by me - we have traded sleep patterns), I finally feel like I am doing something right, sometimes.  And what a great feeling it is, to be striving for halfway perfection, some of the time!  Well done, me!
As a reward for your patient reading, here is a gem from James, post partum edition. While at work after Gracie's birth, James was telling his co-workers all about life as a new parent. Then he threw in some details about my life as a new parent: "Yeah, Shel's back to her normal weight, but her stomach is still a little soft."
Just when you were starting to think he had a good head on his shoulders with his comment about all the parenting books above.  He fooled you!


 Look at how much bigger she is!
I'll be back later with some details of Gracie's birth story.  You've got to know there are some Gems from James in that one - at some very inopportune times - but my doctor had some gems of her own to put him in his place.  Worry not!
Shelby

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Spoon (Wo)Man

The count for today, so far:
Number of pees taken mid diaper change: 2
Number of sneezes while mid diaper change which caused pooh to shoot across the room: 1
Sorry about the stains on your fabulous design, mom.  
Need a laugh, or just a small smile?  Me too, so let's watch this together.  It's better if you do a little dance too. 
I'm taking up a new hobby.  Studies show parents who maintain their hobbies are happier than those who don't.
Shelby

Saturday, 12 May 2012

She's Here!

And I was wrong!  Our little bundle has arrived wrapped by the stork in a pink blanket rather than a blue one.  Don't fault my mothers' intuition for my mistaken prediction of male offspring - these things take time to develop.  And news travels fast!  Do you think the 151 page views on the day of our girl's arrival is coincidence? Me thinks not!  Sorry not to have updated you sooner, but I've been fairly pre-occupied.  Besides, the media have taken care of updating you for me.  
You can read about our little celebrity here, here, there, over here, and also there. And much like Beyonce and Jay-Z's little arrival caused some name confusion at first (was it Ivy Blue or Blue Ivy?) the media has once again reported a baby name with some inaccuracies.  So let me set the record straight as I know this detail matters much to the world out there.  Allow me to introduce Gracie Marlowe (not Marlo or Marlow) Quinlan.  Born at 10:24 am on May 5th, weighing in at a somewhat hefty 8 lbs 2 ozs.
Tonight's another big game for proud papa Quinlan, so keep your fingers crossed out there.
Go Rush, go!
Shelby

Friday, 4 May 2012

Nursery Sources

And now, in case you have some nursery decorating of your own to do but don't have a mother who will do it for you (I don't know how you survive, you poor thing), here are the sources for all of the finds from our lovingly designed room.
First up, the wall decal, the only thing in the room I had anything to do with.When this room was the guest room, we had one branch (the lower one on the left) on the wall anchored by a bookshelf.  We had purchased the branch at our local Rona.  When we took the bookshelf out of the room, the branch was lonely, floating in the middle of the wall.  So my mom came up with the idea to turn it into the tree of life.  I took to Etsy to find someone who could custom design a tree around our existing branch, and Wilson Graphics was up to the challenge.  After sending many pictures and measurements, they designed this beautiful tree for us.  See how it even wraps around the corner on the right?  I just love how it turned out!
This unbearably cute lamp came from Home Sense.  After I bought the elephant piggy bank (which came from Indigo online) on the dresser below, my mom wanted to incorporate some other jungle animals, and this fit the theme perfectly.
I love the shapely legs and the pulls on this dresser that came from Ikea. Unfortunately for you, it is discontinued.  The Q in the window, the yellow hippo book ends, and the white tray all came from Home Sense.  The sheer curtains, curtain rod, and all of the fabrics for the bedding and chair came from Fabricland, and were sewn by my mom (alas I cannot sew on a button).
The crib and change table were hand me downs, having housed my younger sister in her babyhood, then used by my niece and nephew in more recent years.  They're made by Stork Craft, a company still in the baby furniture biz.  The chair is the best find in the whole room, in my opinion.  My mom found it at Home Sense for, are you ready?  30 dollars!  It was on clearance, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, except that the fabric didn't match our room.  The price and the size (you can see we don't have a lot of room to work with) meant my mom couldn't turn it down, and spent several torturous hours recovering it by hand.  The storage baskets on the change table came from Ikea as well.
Isn't it gorgeous though?  I love, love, love the nail head detail.
The rug was another Home Sense find, and it was the only thing I got to see before the room was put together.  My mom wanted to make sure I would like the rug because it would give the room the vintage French nursery feel she was going for. And . . . I didn't love it when she showed it to me!  It just seemed so grown up for a baby's room!  But she explained more of the vision, and of course I trusted her.  I knew I didn't want a room with a total kid-like feel (no Disney characters for me) so the rug stayed, and of course I love the results.
The drum light was from Home Sense again and it was another steal at 13 dollars! Since Home Sense can be hit or miss (in that no two stores have exactly the same stock, and what you see one day could be gone the next) it took several trips to many Home Sense stores in our city and even down highway 2 in Calgary to find this light.  But it was worth it! 
The art work are a set of oversized counting cards that my mom found at Home Sense.  Because of the aforementioned difficulties in shopping at Home Sense, you should know that these cards can also be found at Chapters and Indigo.  When I looked online, I saw that they even have different sets featuring different animals. My mom framed them with white frames from Ikea to turn them into the room's art work.
And there you have it!  
Guess what?  Today marks my 80th blog post!  An odd milestone, but a milestone nonetheless.  It's also the bébé's due date, but I need all you readers to keep your fingers crossed that labour holds off until late tomorrow evening at the earliest to Jimmy can make it home!  And it wouldn't hurt if you sent winning thoughts to Jimmy's team as they play their first play off game.
Much appreciated,
Shelby

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Pay Off

Well, it turns out whining via internet pays off.  A lovely friend took pity on me after my moaning and groaning as seen here, and delivered the most thoughtful of gifts. Knowing how I love Pinocchio's Royal Vanilla ice cream, she made a special delivery complete with blackberries and a trashy magazine.  What more could I ask for, really?  The blackberries are long gone, so I've moved on to strawberries and bananas, with a little chocolate sauce I had in the fridge for just such an occasion.
Healthy, right?
No wonder this baby isn't in a hurry to go anywhere.  He or she knows that there will be no ice cream for them on the outside.  
Shelby

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Big One

Today is my dad's birthday.  And it's a big one.  I'm sure he'll be ecstatic that I'm mentioning not only him, but making vague reference to his age, so let me bolster his ego with this:
Last week my sister and I were getting pedicures for her birthday, and my dad stopped by to bring birthday smoothies.  After he left and we were discussing our appreciation for our dad, the esthetician said to me, "Your dad?!  I thought he was your husband!".  And that is not the first time such a mistake has been made. Yikes!
Unfortunately it doesn't look like he will be sharing his birthday with the newest grandchild to hit the block.  Sigh.   Oh well.  Happy birthday dad!
Speaking of husbands (it was two paragraphs back - try to keep up!) my real husband has been very sweet as my grouchiness clouds up our house waiting for peanut to arrive.  But there were a couple gems from a few weeks back I thought worthy of sharing.
In regards to his inability to attend our prenatal class during which we'd learn infant CPR:
"It's just two fingers, right?"
When I asked if I should contact the trainer who works on the bench if I go into labour while he's playing out of town:
"Yeah, because that would help me play real well!" 
We have since worked out a plan that satisfies all parties involved - worry not!  And know that he always says things with the intent to tease.  We're both sweating a little bit over the fact that the bébé may decide to arrive on the scene while he's out of town.  It would make a good story, and blog post I guess . . .
Shelby

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Mall Mania Photo Shoot Part Three

I figured I should post the final fashion shoot installment before I am no longer actually pregnant.  And so we return to the blurry soft focus pics my mom snapped in the Forever 21 dressing room.
The story:  A stretchy skirt provides the comfort and expansion room needed to enjoy a coffee date with friends.  Clasping your hands firmly under your belly will prevent others from noticing that your shirt is straining to cover the miracle of life housed within your person.
The story:  Show some leg in a dress inspired by Charlie Brown's t-shirt.  If I could change one thing about this outfit in retrospect, it would be to add 3/4 length gloves.  They would've hidden the super attractive veins enhanced by all that prenatal pumping iron.
The story:  Another stretchy skirt/roomy top combo.  Thanks to the long top though, you won't have to keep your hands clasped around the bell, making this the perfect outfit to wear to a cocktail party where you can double fist sparkling apple juice.
The story:  Some might say that horizontal stripes are a risky venture during pregnancy.  Not so in this buttery yellow number, perfect for a final movie date before house arrest begins.  After all, any butter stains from the popcorn will be cleverly hidden.
 The story:  A boldly printed tunic will leave you feeling sassy enough to stay up past 10 PM for a night out with the girls.  Just try not to get too wild and drip gelato on your belly.  This is a poly/viscose blend!

I'm not kidding when I talk about house arrest, though.  I'm reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD, as recommended by my sister-in-law and sister.  This guy is telling me that up until 12 months old, my baby will likely need to sleep after 2 hours or less of wakefulness, and that after about 3 months old, all of this sleeping should take place at home and not in a stroller, car, or baby carrier in order to be truly restful.  If I mess that part up, says he, I can kiss any hopes of consolidated night time sleep goodbye.  Sleep begets more sleep, he claims.  I guess I can be okay with never leaving the house, ever.  I am already a house marm, and I really don't function well on little sleep.  If it's night time sleep he promises, I'm willing to try his crazy methods.  But he needs a better editor.  Just saying!
Shelby

Monday, 30 April 2012

Meal Planning 101

I make a monthly meal plan.  Upon finding out this fascinating fact about me, people generally have two reactions.  They are incredulous and can't understand how or why I make my monthly menu.  Or they're torn between a combination of admiration and jealousy that I call jealmiration.  Either way, I feel an explanation is in order. Why do I feel this way?  Because my sister-in-law said she thought such a post would be interesting to my readers, and seeing as she makes up a full 25% of my readership, I cannot ignore her.  
So, the method behind the madness:
Step 1 Organize your Recipes
I use a binder with plastic sheet protectors and dividers marking out categories like soups and sauces, side dishes, meats and poultry, etc.  My recipes are torn out of magazines, photocopied from library books, handwritten, or printed off (thank you Pinterest!).  A new recipe does not make it in to the binder until it has been tested and approved by Cee Lo and Christina.  Or just Jimmy and I.  This collection of favourite recipes then becomes your reference guide for building your menu.
Step 2 Give Yourself a Framework
To make this whole process easier, I like to give each day of the week a meal type.  At our house Monday is pasta, Tuesday is meat and roast vegetables of some kind, Wednesday is soup (which will become salad for summer), Thursdays are for stir fry, Friday is "fun" night, meaning homemade pizzas, quesedillas, or nachos (I know, woo hoo!). Saturdays are a "wild card" day meaning it's the day I usually try a new recipe or we go out to eat (the good times never take a break around here).  Sunday is the day my dad makes dinner, and I love leaving that day blank.  Of course, this framework should be customised to fit your schedule.  I purposely plan a lighter meal on Wednesday because that is yoga night.  You may want to plan to make a larger meal one night and have left over night the following day when you are busy with some activity or other.  You could even come up with a set of meals for two weeks and just keep rotating through them, adding something new in every once in awhile. To keep things fresh, I try not to repeat the same dish within a two week span, unless it's one we love.  
Step 3 Lay it Out
Get yourself a calendar of some kind and write your meals out so you can see them.  This is crucial!  I like typing my meals into my iCal.  Then I have them on my phone if I'm out and about and need to pick something up at the store.  
Now that you've got your plan laid out, take a look at your meals and start the master shopping list.  I use a ready made list like the one below to simplify the job a bit.  
I look at my calendar and tally how many meals I'll need chicken, beef, or pork chops for.  Likewise, how many packages of short or long pasta will I need for the month?  And so on.  Since most of the recipes are familiar to me, I can think of the main ingredients off the top of my head, but sometimes I reference back to the binder to double check.  I always look through my cupboards to see what I already have and which staples (spices, olive oil, etc) I'm running low on. In terms of produce and other perishable items, I look at what I'll need for the first week or so of the plan.  Add to this the breakfast, lunch and snack foods you normally buy, and you're ready to hit the store.  I usually go to Save On Foods for the first Tuesday of the month to get 15% off my entire purchase.  Superstore also offers a $25 gift card when you spend $250 once a month.  The only thing is, I don't like to buy my meat at Superstore, so it can be hard to get to $250, and it means I have to go to another store.  But sometimes it's worth it as Superstore has such great prices on other household items like dish soap, laundry detergent, and toiletries.  And I can always find something in the Joe Fresh section to bump up the tally.  Either way, I do only one big shop per month.  I freeze all of my meats and cheese to make it last, and I buy produce and other forgotten items on a weekly or bi-weekly trip as needed.
FAQ'S
A friend once asked me "What about freedom of choice?  What if you don't feel like having spaghetti and meatballs on a given night?".  Others may wonder what will happen if you decide to go out last minute (again, I say others because I never decide on anything last minute).  These people are just trying to find an excuse to avoid planning.  It's incomprehensible to me, but there you have it!  My answer is simple: if you don't want a planned meal on the night it's written, you swap it for another night.  And if you go out instead, maybe you just drop that meal all together.There's room for flexibility within the plan, really!  But knowing the plan is there far outweighs these petty worries about so called "freedom to choose".
And there you have it!  It takes some work, but I find the less often I'm at the store, the less money I spend.  And I love having a ready answer to the question "What am I going to make for dinner?".  It's like the runner's high for people who like to organize.  Jimmy raves on and on about what a marvel I am.  He really appreciates all the thought I put into the meal plan.  Or not.  Let's face it, this whole system is built around satisfying my OCD tendencies.  Jimmy wouldn't mind if we had the same meal every other day.  He does, however compliment my cooking on a regular basis.  He just isn't interested in the planning that brings it to his plate.
If you're still reading, I applaud you.  This seems very long winded and uninteresting, not to me because I love planning, but other, non-planners probably needed a nap half way through step 2.  We'll see if my sister-in-law was right through the page views and always plentiful comments left by my mom and her desk mate at work, each representing another 25% of my readers.
Always striving for new heights of neuroses,
Shelby

Friday, 27 April 2012

Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is April 27th today, in case you lack a calendar.  Even if you are in possession of a calendar, you may still be confused because it is SNOWING here in Edmonton. Not only that, but this bébé is still very comfortable in utero.  I don't know why this surprises me, what with the snow and the due date being a week away, but it does! This waiting is killing me.  And so are the many phone calls and texts of well meaning family and friends "checking in".  The nesting has come to an abrupt halt, and yesterday I spent all morning napping and all afternoon feeling bad about napping all morning.
I know what you're going to say: "Enjoy it, soon you'll be run ragged!"
Somehow that doesn't help!  So for now, it's just me and my anxieties waiting and waiting.  Latest anxiety?  My weight gain has slowed from a steady two or three pounds a week down to one pound two weeks ago, and a pound lost last week. Also, my fundal height has stalled out at a 37 week measurement for the past three weeks.  My doctor says it's not a cause for concern, and I guess I can be glad that the baby won't be a nine pounder.  Still though, the snow, waiting, and anxiety do not a happy combination make!  I'm just going to bundle up in a blanket and watch this commercial on repeat.  And on mute.  One of my friends pointed out that while easy on the eyes, his voice is actually quite annoying.  And she's right!  Also, my mom doesn't like his hair.  Quit ruining my simple pleasures, people!   
Shelby

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Nursery Reveal!

You know that my mom is the fashion and art director here at Chez Quinlan, but did you know she is also the fashion and art director of my life too?  Well she is.  And she does a fabulous job.  Her latest project?  The nursery, bien sûr.  The theme? Vintage French Nursery.
The nursery used to be our guest room - of which I have no pictures.  I do have some kind of before pics through which you can see the amazing transformation.
Blah . . .
Floating branch that used to be anchored by the guest room book case.
The old chair and artwork from the guest room.
And now . . . the end result!  It's so full of sweet little touches and details.  My mom did a beautiful job.
As you come in the door, on your right.  More details on the artwork in a post to follow.
A view of the chair, painstakingly re-covered by my mom. You won't believe the deal she got on the chair - sources to come soon!
Notice the nail head detail.

The très French looking dresser.
A view of the chic rug and hand sewn crib skirt and mama's blanket for those late nights.
More of the custom created linens - and yes, I know the bébé can't actually use them.  It's for the look people! The little pillow (which also won't be used - yet- was mine.  It's printed with French poetry, and my mom turned it into a mini pillow for the little one.
The custom made wall decal we plan to use as a growth chart.
My mom calls it the tree of life.  Worry not - sources are coming!
The unbearably cute giraffe lamp and sleek and stylish side table.
The of the moment drum light, lovingly installed by James, after my dad taught him how to do it with our dining room lights.
 My mom slaved over this room.  She did all of the shopping, sewing, and pounding of upholstery nails, not to mention trying to figure out how to fit all of that furniture into a not so big room.  All I did was find a designer for the tree of life then help my mom put it on the wall.  Jimmy of course risked life and limb with the electrical and moved the old furniture out.  Other than that the room was a total surprise fro me and Jimmy, which was so fun to come home to after yoga one afternoon.  And now we wait . . . 10 days to the due date.  Jimmy told me the other day it might be time to tell his boss that we're having a baby seeing as he may need to leave work in a hurry any day now.  
"What?!" I said. "You still haven't mentioned it?"
His reponse: "I like to keep my private life private."
Clearly.
I'll be back soon with all the details on where my mom found all the goods!
Shelby