Rya is ONE!

It has been a wonderful year!  Rya has been a source of joy in my life and I am so blessed to have her here.

Find pictures below of her awesome birthday cake smash…

CakeSmash-Template_rya

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Concern vs Sanity

Raising kids in my generation may be different from previous due to the infinite amount of information…. all available at your fingertips.  The reason this makes our jobs as parents more difficult is the conflicting information and the “normalcy charts”.  Let me explain…

The conflicting information available on the internet is enough to drive a parent to go bananas.  For instance, Experts from Parents magazine have identified that feeding your babies fish, shellfish, shrimps come with risks and should not be fed to your baby prior to 1 year of age.  (Parents – Fish, especially shellfish like shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops–these can trigger an allergic reaction in babies under 1.)   Controversially, Baby Centre identifies it as a risk that can be mitigated simply by looking for a reaction the first few times they eat it ( Baby Centre – It’s still a wise idea, though, to introduce new foods gradually, waiting several days after each new menu item to make sure your baby doesn’t react badly to it. )  And that’s just a simple example of one item a baby should or shouldn’t eat.  Unfortunately, there are numerous other examples that make it difficult for parents to decide which avenue is best to take.  Below are other examples of controversial parenting topics that have different schools of thought.  They all have studies, research and some PHD specialist that advocate their use (one that dissuades and a conflicting one that promotes it.  What’s a parent to do?

  • Bed sharing / Co-sleeping vs Crib
  • Schedules vs Baby led
  • Discipline types and methods
  • Food consumption (what and when)
  • Bottle feeding vs breastfeeding
  • Toilet Training
  • Crying it out / Ferber Method vs Consolling /Comforting

I am one to typically decide things by researching.  Finding supporting research, what has worked for people via forums, etc.  With Rya now 1, I have determined that this parenting thing is so much easier when NOT completed with google’s help!  Follow your instincts… seems like its a smarter approach, plus, there’s there are numerous sources online that support this method!  😉

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Family Finances

A few years ago, me and a close friend had a lengthy debate on couple and financing.  While it was obvious to me which method was the best to manage finances as a couple, to my surprise, my friend believed in a different method just as strongly as I did.  I’ll list the methods that most utilize for managing their finances and look forward to see which seems the best.

The first is the “One bucket” method.  This method basically takes earnings of both partners and dumps it into one account.  All expenses come out of that account.  In addition, credit cards are usually on joint accounts.

The second is the “50-50 Split” method.  With this method, John pays half the bills as does Jane, regardless of income.  They both hold separate accounts and credit cards.

The third is “Proportional” method.  In this situation, let’s say John makes 3000$ a month while Jane makes 4000$ a month.  Their bills each month is 3000$.  Since John makes 42% of the houshold income he must pay 42% of the bills and therefore 1260$ each month.  Jane makes the additional 58% and therefore must contribute 1740$.  The rest of their income is kept in separate individual accounts to meets their individual needs.

The last is “Proportional Extended” method which is similar to the Proportional method but takes it one step further.  The remaining amount left in each individual account is halved and transferred in their partner’s account.  If we continue with the same example, John was left with 1740$ in his individual account (3000$-1260$).  Jane was left with 2260$ (4000$-1740$).  They would then transfer half their amount to their partner’s (John sends 870$ to Jane and she sends 1130$ to John).  This results in both having individual amounts of 2000$ in their respective accounts.

Which method works best according to you?

 

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Man Showers?

We live in a world where parenting techniques seem to change after each generations.  Each setting new trends and sometimes reverting to older trends ( Think of nursing, cloth diapers or your baby’s sleep position (back, sides or stomach)).  One of these trend that seemed to have sparked in our generation is the …. Man shower.  Usually, during the pre-birth period, most, if not all the focus is on the mother, as it should be!  They are going through so many changes (be it hormonal, physical or all of the above) that having most of the spotlight during this time is well deserved.  Naturally, this can make the dad’s job a bit thank-less… as they tend to play more of a support role.  Dad’s usually aren’t celebrated or welcomed to parenthood as mothers are.

Thus… Man-showers were created!  These events are meant to allow Dad’s to set aside their support role and celebrate the big change in their life that is about to happen.

Two of my close friends will be entering the parent realm shortly and I took it upon myself to create a celebration for them to wish them well.  Typically, showers consists of changing a doll diaper, guessing when the baby will be born while giving good parenting advice to the mom’s.  While I did want to create an event for the dad’s, I did want it to stray far-away of the typical shower.  For those of you looking for different ideas to throw your fellow man “slash” future dad, i’ve listed below the layout of the two man-shower’s I threw.

Jon

The first, was a beer tasting party.  I got 11 obscure beer at a specialty beer store in Gatineau called “Les Bierres du Monde”.  I made a worksheet which provided the beer name, logo and description for the guest that were paired in teams of 2.  Finally, I served the beer to each guest.  The teams had to associate the beer sample # to the correct description.  Our highest score was 3 out of 11 but we sure had a lot of fun trying to be beer experts! 😉  In terms of presents, I had all the attendees bring a pre-made meal of some sort that they could freeze.  The intention is that this would help them in the first few weeks and hopefully make it easier for them.  Also, it’ll give them that much time to spend with the little one as opposed to preparing meals.

Brandon

For Brandon’s Man shower, I scheduled it around the UFC match.  We were able to watch some good fights while enjoying some poker games.  Doesn’t get manlier than that! 😉  Brandon is intending on utilizing disposable diapers, so to help out, each guy brought a box worth of diapers.

In both these instances, I not only had the opportunity to hang out with friends doing things we enjoy, but I also was able to celebrate one of the few life altering events with some of my closest friends!

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Feeding the cuteness!

Well, Rya is getting older quick!  She is now already 6 months old.

IMG_4264Which in turn means she is now starting solids!  Since Kristen and I have been trying to eat well, less processed and with less chemicals, it will come as no surprise that we want to raise Rya with the same type of food we eat.  Since we follow more or less the Paleo diet which constitutes of Meats, Veggies, Fruits and Nuts (and seeds) while trying to minimize the amount of boxed or canned product, it was clear to us that we needed to make Rya’s baby food ourselves.  That and the fact that most baby food is filled with complete junk.

So, how do we start doing that exactly… Our little princess makes our job a whole lot easier as she pretty much chows down on anything.  We started with avocados, then introduced butternut squash, followed by spinach, bananas, peas and carrots.

IMG_4133  This is Rya eating peas.

We simply steam the veggie, blend them and then freeze them.  We wanted small containers, that can hold food, be frozen, then used in the microwave and dishwasher.  While numerous companies offer products that fill these needs, I also wanted the containers to be made of glass since i’m leary about using plastic in the microwave (personal choice… not sure if there is any science that backs me up).  A top product for this would be the following:

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Wean Green Glass Baby Food Containers with Multi Lid Colors

At 25$ for 4 you can see why we seeked out cheaper alternatives.  Our discovery of using mason jars resolved our problem.  These little jars are so wonderful.  They are cheap and very versatile.  For all of you wanting to make your own food I definitely recommend purchasing something like these:

71sNSfR5ZbL._SL1500_ 4 oz Mason Jars

We got ours at our local Canadian Tire at 7$ for a set of 12!  Much better!  Now we started making a bunch of them in advance with tuna, chicken, asparagus, mango, blueberry…. Preparation makes this a whole lot easier!!!

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It’s a miracle!!!

Exactly 18 days ago, my wife and I started utilizing the Ferber method with our 5 month old. We had originally planned to wait till the holidays were over since we do a lot of traveling and implementing a schedule would be very difficult. The day before we were to start our 3 week long holiday visit (we spend some time at my parents and some time at the in laws and they both live in different cities 700km apart), our daughter Rya was having one of her worst days we’d seen. Exasperated at the fact that we weren’t seeing progress at all with he sleeping patterns, we decided to switch it up and try something new.

For those of you that don’t know, the Ferber method includes implementing a structured schedule (feeds, naps and bedtime), implementing bedtime routines to queue the baby for sleep and most importantly, teaching your baby how to soothe. This last part is usually the one that is controversial amongst parents as a component of it is to have your baby cry out, sometimes during long stretches of time.

On December 20th, we decided we would plunge and try the method. We started in the afternoon for her nap. She ended up crying through it and never sleeping (1 hour of crying). Ferber suggests you lay the baby down awake and leave their room. After 5 minutes of crying, to go and simply show your presence, ensure your baby is safe and try to comfort them but while never picking them up. After a minute or two of soothing, you are to leave the room again and wait a total of 10 minutes before entering again. The third cycle is 15 minutes and should you baby not fall asleep prior to this cycle ending, it simply restarts for another 15 minutes. Therefore, her first nap we entered after 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and three 15 minute lapses.

Ferber suggest you pick them up after an hour of crying at nap times but to continue the method until they fall asleep at night. That evening was a tough one. Rya ended up crying for a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes. The next day, naps weren’t better at all as she didn’t sleep during the day but did fall asleep quickly at night (40 minutes). The day after not only did she get a bit of sleep in naps; she fell asleep at night within 5 minutes. Within 3 days we went from baby that would cry 2 to 4 hours in our arms to a baby that was self soothing within minutes!

We selected a schedule for our 5 month old that looks like this:
6:30 – 7:00 AM We wake around
8:30 AM She feeds and gets changed into a new diaper. She is read a bedtime story with dimmed lights (bed time routine)
9:00 AM Laid in her crib for her morning nap. She usually naps for 1 to 2 hours
12:30 PM Bed time routine
1:00 PM Laid in crib
5:00 PM She feeds on a solid mashed veggie, get a bath then bed time routine
6:00 PM Laid in crib for the night

Not only is Rya getting more sleep, she is a completely different baby during the day. She is now much happier, talkative and playful! It’s really nice to see!

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Sleep…. what sleep?

You must all have noticed that I haven’t been posting in the past few weeks. The lack of commitment on this front has been instigated by new developments with our little girl. It has always been very difficult to get our little one to sleep. From the get go, some of you may have read the bouncing theatrics we had to accomplish in order to prevent her from crying. We were able to get away from that but had to replace it with a bum tap. Eventually, this bum tap wasn’t enough so we incorporated a white noise to help her not get distracted with ambient noise. Furthermore, we eventually added a full body wrap so that she wouldn’t be able to get her soother out. At one point, all of this wasn’t enough, as she would get distracted by light fixtures, picture frames, windows and the likes. Now we had to cover her so she wouldn’t get visual distractions. To complicate all matters, in the past 2-3 weeks, all of these maneuvers still weren’t able to put her to sleep and the bed time routine lasted anywhere from 2 hours and 30 minutes to 4 hours of screaming. After enduring 2-3 weeks of her fighting off sleep, and waking up 2-3 times throughout the night… we finally decided it had to stop. There had to be a remedy to our craziness. (On the plus side, I’ve gotten really good at trapping flailing arms and legs while tapping a bum!)

After doing a bit of research we reviewed a few methods to strengthen sleep behaviors and we decided to implement the famous Ferber method… This method indicates that you must first establish a bedtime routine, ensure your babies’ needs are met and put your baby awake in their crib. If your baby is like ours, they will cry and freak out. The concept is to come back at established time intervals to soothe your baby and ensure everything is OK. Once you’ve shown y our presence, ensured everything is safe, you must simply leave the room to wait till the next interval. Apparently most babies show drastic changes within a few days since they learn that the crib is for sleep while also learning to soothe themselves.

Tonight is the first night of implementation. Boy oh boy is it tremendously hard to listen to your baby cry. While ensuring she was safe and at all moments staring at the little 2 by 2 inch camera display, hoping that she would calm herself, it was most assuredly one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I don’t know why this was so much harder than spending hours with her in our arms trying to soothe her while she is in hysterics. The fact that I’m doing nothing but going to see her every x amount of minutes makes me feel like a pretty lousy dad. I kept thinking to myself, should I stop this and simply stick it out with the crying in our arms method… surely that must be at the end of its phase.

I was able to stick it out. Luckily after a while, her cries weren’t so intense, her movements slower and her eyes much more sleepy. It ended up taking 2 hours and 8 minutes! Technically, even though harder on me, she actually spent less time crying than if I would have tried soothing her in my arms. Comparing online to other parent’s first attempt, it seems a lot of them get success after 30 minutes but surprisingly enough 2 hours and 8 minutes is kind of a win for us! We’ll stick it out and also incorporate this method in her naps to hopefully see some change! What may increase the difficulty of implementing such a drastic change in her sleeping habits will be the fact that we’ll be traveling during Christmas.

Santa… if you’re gonna get me something this year, I would like a baby that can self soothe!!! 🙂
Thanks for reading and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all! 🙂

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