M.I.A. Again

I think my last post promised that I would be writing more.  Well, that didn’t happen – sorry.  I started a few drafts that I will get up one of these days.  In the coming weeks (when I get my bannock buns in gear) you should probably see posts on:

–       Our trek up North

–       Antibiotic hell

–       Resolutions, Smesolutions

–       Idle No More

–       Junk food wasted (AKA don’t you put it in your mouth)

–       Holiday weight gain and my quest to lose 30+ pounds

–       The breastfeeding crusade

–       How I became a co-sleeping Mommy

–       Post-natal hair loss (AKA wookies in the drain)

–       My new vision board

–       And more…. these are just the drafts that I have to finish.

I’ve been thinking about how to keep up my writing momentum and I decided to do bi-weekly themed posts as well as a monthly themed post. 

I came up with my first weekly themed post as I was running (which also fell by the wayside this month – bad, bad girl!)  Running with music helps me stay the course.  Songs will come up on the playlist that transport me back to a long forgotten or fondly remembered time in my life.  Some songs have lyrics that just resonate with how I may be feeling that particular day.   I will be getting back to running this week and I plan to run every week, hence my weekly recurring post would focus on the song and memory/feeling that it invokes.  The running should keep the songs coming and the need to choose a song should keep me running.  A win-win situation if you ask me. 

The second weeks themed post will be on some thing really cool that I purchased, crafted, cooked or baked.  I’ve been seriously crushing on Pinterest for a while now and I have done so many things as a result of it.  Time to share my successes (and occasional disasters).

My monthly recurring post will be a review on a book that I read.  I used to be an avid reader but having two children under the age of three and no longer having a 3-hour daily commute put a halt to the books I was devouring.  I want to get back into reading.  My goal is not lofty as it is now trying to finish one-book per month.  Maybe I will get lucky and have read two (three, four….) books and I will get to choose what book to review?  Here’s hoping.

And here’s hoping you all stay tuned.  Maybe one of these days I will figure out how to use WordPress properly and gain new readers too.  Oh new year!  How I love all the possibilities you contain!

Happy 2013!


12 Days

We will be making a trip home for almost the whole month of December. I looked at the calendar today and realized that there is only 12 days before we leave. I felt a twinge of panic when I realized all of the things that I still need to do. Mainly all centered around getting things ready for the house sitter but also hitting up the Samko and Miko toy and book warehouse. I need to copy the new house keys for the house sitter. Buy cat and fish food or the fish may just become cat food. Get Christmas gifts that I will not be able to buy up North (the Southern Ontario term for anything north of Barrie). Book dog-friendly hotels. Finish the busy bag activities intended to keep a toddler occupied for a 3-4 day road trip. All of this gives me a slight twinge of panic but I know I really just have to get back to my neurotic list making. As long as I write it down, I get it done. It is so satisfying to cross it off as finished.

I really want to get to this list making but I have been spending most of my time day dreaming. Day dreaming about all of the things that I would like to do while up North.

I want to:

– eat at the Hoito twice: once to order Finn pancakes and once to have the clubhouse sandwich with ham with a side of fries and gravy. No fries taste better than wavy cut fries.

– spend a few nights on the rez to share laughs with my family, take a walk at night to smell the woodsmoke in the air, go sliding with the kids, play games with my Aunties and catch up with gossip central.

– eat my birthday meal at the Prospector. My innards (and everyone in near vicinity) will probably want to die later that night but I am having a small cut prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes, beef barley soup and 100 famous buns.

– Spend a night at Grand Portage hotel and casino. Take the kids swimming and hiking around Lake Superior just to take turns leaving them behind in the hotel room so Fuzz and I can gamble our faces off. Just like Granny and I used to do.

– Buy twelve persians (a tasty cinnamon bun treat with strawberry icing) and eat them all myself. Okay, maybe I’ll give one to Whirlwind. Fuzz is on his own.

– Visit Kangas sauna with the kids. They might not want to sit in there for long but I plan to sit there until all my smoggy Toronto skin peels off.

– quote the following movies with my brother: Stand By Me, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Sixteen Candles, and The Jungle Book. We will also probably through a good Men without Hats Safety Dance and Judd Nelson fist pump in there as well.

– In addition to all the other food I mentioned, I also want to eat at: The Nipigon Cafe, Masala Grille, Mongo’s, Arby’s and Applebee’s. We have the last two places here but none close enough to visit frequently.

– get my daughter her status card. My sadly misinformed Polish father-in-law thinks that she is too fair for “them” to give her one. I am assuming by “them” he means AANDC but it could very well be his idea of a noble chief sitting on buffalo robes in a teepee. Oh, he makes me laugh.

– make a few holiday visits: AANDC, Shkoday, Mom’s office to name a few. I hope to also meet up with a few friends from high school.

– have our traditional family board game night on Christmas Eve. I will not be able to imbibe this year but I can eat the treats. I also plan to beat my Mom to the good ole fashioned Homer Simpson floor spin when I win.

Whew! That’s a lot, eh? And I will probably figure out more to do as well. I only visit home once a year so I have to fit all that I can in there.

Now please excuse me while I get back to crossing things off that To Do list.


Taking it Easy

So I have been AWOL for more than a few weeks. As the title of this implies, I have been taking it easy. If you are a regular reader, you know that I am always on the go. However, I have been sidelined the last little while. Sidelined by a small little organ that sits just below the liver – the gallbladder. It’s job is to produce bile and aid fat digestion.

I had been having pain in my upper abdomen for a few days and went to the doctor on a Thursday. I was given a requisition for an ultrasound that I was to have on Monday. I didn’t make it to Monday and I had an ultrasound in the ER on Sunday. The diagnosis: multiple small stones in my gallbladder and elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase in my blood. The levels of alkaline phosphatase and the pain that I had was a result of passing a gall stone into the digestive tract. Ouch!

The diagnosis was surprising, yet not surprising. It was not surprising because studies indicate that North American Native people (particularly women) have a higher prevalence of gall stones. In fact, friends have often joked with me because I still have my gallbladder. The gallbladder is often removed when attacks occur on a frequent basis.

What was surprising to me was the reason why I had just started exhibiting symptoms now, since it was likely that I had the stones for awhile. I have been training for a 5K race. I’ve been using a Couch to 5K phone app and I was on week 6 when the abdominal pain started. I was running about 15K a week. Each time that I ran, my monitor watch was telling me that I was burning approximately 400 calories. Now add in the calories that I am burning by exclusively breast feeding my baby – up to 500 calories day! Now let’s assume I was burning the full 500 calories. That’s 3500 calories a week, just from breastfeeding. Add in the running and that is 4700 calories a week. There’s more. My basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories per day my body burns, is 2400. Therefore, on running days, I was burning approximately 3300 calories a day.

Now let’s talk about how much I was eating each day. To be short – not enough, and not enough of the good stuff. My daily meals typically looked like this: cereal with soy milk for breakfast, a leftover meal from the previous nights dinner for lunch, dinner and a protein shake after running. The meals were home cooked from an eat clean or Weight Watchers cookbook and reasonably portioned. If I was lucky to have a break from the kids, I would sometimes get fruit and cheese for a snack during the day. Around 8 o’clock every night I would be famished. And what did my body want? The most amount of calories that I could take in the shortest period of time…which normally meant craving high fat food: chips, french fries, pizza, etc. I most often than not caved into these cravings. I was literally losing a pound of weight off my body every day so I rationalized that I could eat those things and get away with it.

Wrong!! As my gallbladder so kindly reminded me.

I was losing a ton of weight, but I was not doing it healthily. I was becoming more healthy by running and eating clean but I was sabotaging myself by not eating enough during the day.

Now I really do not want to have my gallbladder removed, so I have been taking it easy. Resting more. Planning more. I have started cooking meals with a good friend every Sunday so I always have healthy food available. I have been watching my calorie intake more closely. I have been limiting the amount of fatty foods that I have been putting in my body. However, things are still not perfect. This week I’m dying to run but I have not been watching my calorie intake and have been eating poorly – it’s was Fuzz’s birthday. We ordered a ton of food from his favourite BBQ joint and had cupcakes AND cake! That kind of food will not fuel my body properly.

I am seriously thinking about hiring somebody to design an eating plan for me – so I can continue to lose the last of the weight while running and not have to worry about my gall bladder. Nutrition and physiology are such complex things.

The good news is that all this planning ahead has now freed up time to blog. Such a good thing when I have all these thoughts bouncing around in my head when I am running. I’d think it up then but then I was not writing to release it from my fingers. I’m glad it is about to change.


Good Night, Sleep Tight

Sunshine turned 11 weeks old on Sunday.  She amazes me everyday with a newly developed skill or a finely mastered talent.  I am in awe how fast she seems to learn things.  I do not seem to remember how quickly Whirlwind garnered new skills.  I could probably attribute that to constantly trying to function in a sleepless fog.

There are minimal sleepless fogs this time around.  For the last two weeks, Sunshine has been sleeping for 11 hour stretches, wakes to eat and goes back to sleep for another 3 hours.  Fuzz and I are totally flabbergasted by this one.  We can only really speculate how this happened because we really did nothing at all.  Nothing compared to when Whirlwind was newbie and we were pouring through sleep method books trying to build the best one that worked for our family.  For those wondering, we did not Ferberize.  Mama would not have liked if we let him cry for long.  I usually just nursed him to sleep and carried him to his crib.  He would wake often.

We have theories for Sunshine’s love of sleep that range from sound to down right silly.  Theories include lucking out by having her bassinet aligned in the proper Feng Shui direction for sleep.  I actually do not know what that direction may be but hey, it could work.  Mostly I think it is because she is a routine baby.  She likes to know what to expect.  This threw us for a loop because Whirlwind would like something one night and another thing the next.  Although, having a routine baby shouldn’t be much of a surprise with Daddy Fuzz.  He routinely ate Cheerios every day for twenty years.  He now cannot eat too much of anything with grains or oats.  I’ll spare you the details on that one!

I have a friend that just had her first baby; three weeks younger than Sunshine.  Unfortunately, they are not as lucky in the sleep department.  Recently I described what we do with Sunshine.

  1. I used to try to put Whirlwind to sleep before Sunshine.  Whirlwind usually goes to sleep between 7 and 8.  Sunshine was after that.  She always had a fussy period between 5 and 6.  It would take forever to get her to sleep after Whirlwind.  So I stopped fighting it.  I started getting her ready for bed after we fed Whirlwind at 5.
  2. Bedtime routine became a quick bath.  We bathe her in Burt’s Bees soap two or three times a week but other days are just water and ground oatmeal.  Sunshine tends to have a sensitive bum that gets red frequently.  We dry her and allow her to lay out in the towel naked as a jaybird.  We dress her in a footed sleeper.
  3. I nurse her on one side, burp her, nurse her on the other side and burp her again.  The only source of light in the room at this point is her Ikea nightlight.  I then place her on my lap with her legs froggied against my tummy.  I cradle her head in my hands and rock my legs back and forth.  I know she is sleeping when her arms are splayed out and hanging.  I know I can put her in the bassinet when she makes a cute little snort.  I call it the sleep snort.
  4. I then place her in down and leave the room.  It is usually sometime between 5 and 6:30.  I then go into Whirlwind’s room where he is watching an episode of Spider Man on the iPad.  We pajama up, talk about the day, read a story and he goes to bed.  
  5. We go to bed sometime between 9 and 12.  Although Sunshine is sleeping in my room, our noise does not disturb her.  She does not wake until 4 or 5 AM.  I nurse her, burp, change and leg rock her in roughly twenty minutes.  She is back to sleep again until 8 AM. 

Notice how I said she is back to sleep?  Not we are back to sleep? Well you see, Whirlwind has not yet gone back to sleeping through the night.  I think there was only a short period of time where he did that since birth.  If he slept as well as his sister, there would be some well-rested parents in this house…well, I would be.  Shift work screws with Fuzz. 

I personally think that just likes her routine and she knew what time she wanted to go to sleep.  Once I stopped fighting her natural urge to retire for the night, we were golden.  I can only hope that she does not stray too far from her routine when things like teething and milestones arrive.  Other parents sometimes comment that we completely laid back parents, like Crush the Sea Turtle of parents.  You know, the sea turtle on Finding Nemo.  He tells Marlin to “kill the motor dude” when Squirt falls out of the East Australian Current.  Squirt makes it back and is proudly congratulated by Crush.  So if she does stray off the routine, we’ll just roll with the waves and carry on. 

So that’s it.  Tonight we will be putting her to sleep in her own room – messing with her routine.  It’s bittersweet for me because she is my baby and I would love to keep her with me forever.  But in the words of the 150 year-old sea turtle, “Coo-coo-cachoo, they’ll find their way back to the big ole blue.”


A Few of my Favourite Things – Breastfeeding Edition

This week, October 1-7, is World Breastfeeding week. I’m a proud breastfeeding mama so I did up one of my lists to honour the occasion.

Here are a few of my favourite breastfeeding things:

– not having to sterilize and mix bottles
– being able to leave home without food. I just have to bring myself
– knowing that I’m providing all the sustenance my baby needs and I’m setting her up for optimal health her entire life
– it’s FREE! No need for an added formula expense
– not having to “wake up” for night feedings. Fuzz hands her to me, she sleepily eats while I fall back to sleep. Fuzz burps her and puts her back in her bed twenty minutes later.
– the incredible bond we have. I love the quiet time we share when she needs to eat
– providing and receiving peer support from other Moms at our La Leche League
– not worrying about spit up because breast milk does not leave stains
– my super fancy Medela electric breast pump. My Mom bought it for me and it pumps milk by mimicking how a baby eats. I can pump milk without creating over supply
– I am feeding her how my ancestors fed their babies. Doodooshaaboo.
– baby poop does not stink (until solid foods are introduced, that is)
– no other person can provide what I can. Fuzz and others can feed the baby expressed milk but she still needs ME to provide for her
– knowing that I overcame one of the biggest struggles of my life: Whirlwind did not latch properly and we struggled with breastfeeding for over four months. We persevered and he self-weaned at 14 months.

Now because life is about balance, here are the very few things that I dislike:
– leaky boobs when the baby sleeps through a feeding or let down when the baby cries.
– not being able to enjoy a glass of wine without pumping and dumping. It feels like a waste to dump so I just don’t drink. I went 9 months, what’s another year or two?
– missing a glass of cold milk with cookies because of her intolerance

I feel that these dislikes are a small price to pay though. I really enjoy the time with my baby and providing peer support. It just works for me.

Enjoy your week!


Act Naturally

Ever since Whirlwind was a baby, people have been telling us to “get that kid an agent”. I was always skeptical of doing that because a) most children are cute and precocious and b) I didn’t want him to feel forced into “work” at such a young age. I’m a big believer in letting a child be a child.

The remarks from strangers wherever we go are easy to ignore. It’s to the point now where we think “yeah, yeah – he’s a cute kid” or “yeah, yeah – he certainly does have a cute Kirk Douglas chin (this one usually comes from the older women, if you cannot tell from the age of the actor). My personal favourite remark has to be the woman that asked Fuzz what ancestry his wife was because Whirlwind looks nothing like him….followed up by “oh, mixed race kids are always the cutest”. Complete strangers always say the funniest things.

What we are now finding harder to ignore, is that Whirlwind now says that he wants to be an actor. More specifically, he wants to act in dinosaur films. Fuzz rented him Jurassic Park a few mornings ago. I was hesitant because I didn’t want to give him another reason to run in our room at night. However, the opposite happened. He wasn’t scared; he now has a frame of reference on how to react to a dinosaur attack. We went to a corn maze later that day and he was pretending that a dinosaur was coming through the corn stalks. Of course, he acted appropriately – shaking, screaming and running.

Whirlwind will also do anything for a laugh. Since he is just a budding comedy actor, he doesn’t quite know what will successfully garner a laugh from someone. Once he does get a laugh though, watch out! He will do that thing over and over again. He even re-enacts when he gets hurt – physical comedy! We are now trying to teach him that doing the same thing over and over again is not as funny as the first couple of times. What he has learned though is that he just has to make his Dad laugh while he is getting in trouble and the trouble is forgotten. Good thing Mommy is a tougher cookie.

I was out shopping for greeting cards the other day and the store was giving away two free key chains to their shoppers. I chose one for each of my kid’s birthdays. Here is Whirlwind’s key chain:


How coincidental is that? Maybe his penchant for acting comes from a combination of things:

– his birth date

– his cleft chin because I’ve also heard from the random admirers that those with clefts like to be in the spotlight

– the town we live in (maybe it’s something in our water?!) as two very famous comedic actors were born here

– a healthy dose of self esteem from always hearing how he’s cute enough for movies

Now we have Sunshine. She was also born with Fuzz’s chin. If she’s also inherited her Dad’s singing voice, we may have another Adele or Demi Lovato on our hands.

Oy says the girl that would rather be in a library than a spotlight!


Native Girl Problems

I happen to be very proud to be a Anishinaabe girl. Yes, a girl more accurately describes me because my taste and humour tend to be too crude to fit the modern definition of a woman.

I’ve recently taken back to running. I love running because it gets a sweat going but I also need to lose some weight. Nobody wants sugar diabetes (as Mama would say). After a run this morning, I was laying on the mat stretching. Looking at my ankles it occurred to me that I always lose weight from ankles first….then from my butt. My butt is the last place I want to lose weight – do you know how many squats I have to do just to keep a few inches there? Even with my few extra inches there, Fuzz still affectionately refers to it as my bannock butt. So that got me thinking about other Native girl problems. A few of my problems had me chuckling in the shower, so I thought I would share:

– Never knowing my pant size because the pants that actually fit my wide hips, flat butt and skinny legs cause an enormous muffin explosion. Try everything on!

– My bathroom storage overflowing with razor refills because I get a new package in every Christmas stocking but have no body hair to shave

– In a related note, having eyebrows in M.A.C. eye shadow “Night Maneuvers” because my eye brows need help to be seen

– Having to stand when I go to get a trim because my hair is too long for the hairdresser to reach even when the chair is as high as it can go

– Getting fish blood out from under my nails is next to impossible

– Having a long line of “pick-up artists” following and smiling at me in Bass Pro Shop because of my brown skin and scent of smudge

– Grease stained shirts because oil from the fry bread pan keeps splashing on them

– Having non-Natives guessing my background: Hawaiian, East Indian, Polynesian, Samoan, or Asian; followed by my smug satisfaction when I can say Native and they look fearful

– Getting bruises when my cousins laugh and hit my arm or when I fall off the bed backwards from throwing my head back in laughter

– Tanning of the skin happens unimaginably fast. Almost too fast (case in point).

For those not familiar with Native humour, these “problems” are done in jest; it is certainly undeniable how awesome Native girls are. Just ask Fuzz.