Books books book

Let’s take a break in the kvetching and talk about books.  I love books.  I, thankfully, love my local library, so I can afford to read all the books my little heart desires, but despite that, I still live in a house full of books.  There is a bookcase in basically every room of the house.  Except for the bathrooms, and our bedroom, but those rooms all have at least a stack of books sitting there.  They are roughly sorted: J and YA books in the guest bedroom, more YA and some poetry in the upstairs hallway, my antique books in the main floor hallway, sports and war in the basement, craft books and journals in the craft room, baby books in Jess’s room, and a library with 5 bursting bookshelves.  A ton of them were bought as discards at the library, a handful at airports.  Very few of the fiction books, outside some beloved CanCon, are new, or at least, bought at full price.  (I’m cheap that way.)

Post university, I moved 5 times in a little over 6 years, and each time, winnowed the book collection, but I can’t help myself – it’s still huge.  There is all sorts of stuff.  There are a few shelves of the more interesting textbooks and other fun non fiction books.  A whole row of Lonely Planet destinations.  Shelf after shelf of cookbooks, including some delightful ones from 1920 and 1970.  Every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon ever published.  Magzines purchased around the world on vacations.  More than half of Terry Pratchett’s work.  The entire James Bond collection.  More hockey books than you can imagine.  Multiple editions of my favourite YA books (primarily Tamora Piece and Gordon Korman.)  David’s Star Trek novel collection.  My teenage sci-fi and fantasy books (Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey).  The bulk of the antique books are various editions of the Bobbsey Twins books – the first books I ever loved – plus some delightful random old books (Impatient Virgin, Jane: Stewardess of the Air Lines).  I love them.  I love them all.  Every year I’m offered an e-reader for Christmas, and every year I refuse, because I love books.  The physical tangible form, the smell, the way they feel in your hand, the way the paper changes over the decades, the weight, the look, the fonts, the covers.  Everything about them.  Which is why we own so many of them.

You can probably tell from the pictures that we also use bookshelves for our stuff.  The camels I bought in the Middle East patrol the travel shelf.  About half the glass paperweights are ones I made during a glass blowing workshop.  (The good ones mostly belonged to my grandparents.)  The small stuffed animals are from various trips David and I have taken together.  The fossil is from work, as is the plaque, while the troll was brought back for me by my grandparents from Scandinavia 20 years ago.  Wooden eggs from my dad’s best friend, brought back for the USSR in the 80s.  Memories made tangible, basically, and also things that are just cool.  Bit of life, I guess.

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Jess has a lot of book already – I will admit to buying books for future hypothetical babies since university.  What, Sandra Boyton books for 50 cents is a steal!  And retro golden books are fun.  And how could I not buy the complete adventures of Frog and Toad?  My family baby shower was a book shower, so I got a ton more books then. Including my personal favouite: the Mr Men series.  My grandparents used to have a bunch of them, and when we broke up the house, I kept a few of them.  I’ve bought a few more from the library, but my aunt and cousin surprised me and bought a whole stack of them.  I do own one book that cracks me up every time I look at it.  It’s the kind of thing you’d only get in a few places – Calgary, Texas, maybe the North Sea…

Oh, yes

It’s surprisingly specific.  I mean, they even talk about horizontal wells!

That’s fancy drilling

This is actually a decent technical explanation, with all the right words and everything,

Rotary table? Kelly? Cuttings? This IS the real deal.

I can’t wait for Jess to be old enough to enjoy books for more than their value as a chew toy.

Halloween

I’m not much of a Halloween person, which I realize makes me sound like a grouch.  I loved trick or treating as a kid, and when Jess is a little bit older, we’ll totally do that.  (In a snow suit, if the weather is like it is this year.)  But as an adult, it’s kind of meh for me.  I’m not a big costume person, I don’t participate in Slutoween, and I’m unenthused about hanging around answering the door for 3 hours giving out candy.  Other years, I’ve gone to Ikea, gone out for Vietnamese, hung out in the basement and once on the rare Saturday Oct 31 went to a party.  This year seems to be shaping up to be a basement Halloween, in part because it’s snowing outside, and the baby cares less than I do.

I did, however, dress her up in her Tigger onesie for our fitness class this morning.

Cute little Tigger

Because how could I not?  Such a cute little Tigger/tiger baby.

Tiger goes roar

Diapers

At a family wedding, one of David’s infinite number of cousins asked me about how we’re liking cloth diapers, and brands I recommend.  I had a lot of thoughts about this, and figured I’d put them here too in case they are useful to anyone else.

First of all, I am happy we’re using cloth diapers – they’ve worked really well for us.  And don’t want you to read anything else about my parenting style in to the decision to use cloth.  I like them because they are cute and cheap over the long run and I don’t mind an extra load of laundry every 3 days and in 6 months Jess has only had two bits of really mild diaper rash and they don’t seem to have blowouts.  No poop up the back, no poop in the hair, no ruined clothing!  Really, it’s almost as easy as using disposables, but thousands of dollars cheaper in the long run, and that’s important to me.  The side benefits about cuteness and the environment and the lack of blowouts and all the rest are great, but for me, the $800 ish I spent up front is good value over several years with probably a couple of kids.  Also, we have not found a noticeable increase in our water bill.

Amalah is my personal guru of cloth diapers.  Her posts on Alphamom and her own site were very helpful, if somewhat overwhelming.  I ended up buying a bunch of different diapers, mostly from her suggestions and some from sales, and have loved some and hated others.

Generally, I have liked the sized ones more than the one size fits all sizes, but you quickly come up against cost, as having to buy a few sets of different size diapers adds up.  We have a combo of sized and one sized fits all diapers, although now that she’s bigger (16 pounds) the OS diapers fit pretty well, so it’s less of an issue, compared to putting a 9 pound baby in the same diaper.  I mean, the snaps meant it fit, but it was so jumbo she looked like a beached turtle.  Because of that, we didn’t really start using cloth until she was over 11 pounds.

We mainly use all in one / pocket style diapers, as opposed to old school prefolds/fitted diapers and a plastic cover, although we have a few of the later and they are really handy to have around.  Especially when you’re behind on washing diapers – one cover can last all day as you just switch out the prefolds.  And prefolds are super cheap, so that’s a bonus.  All In Ones are the easiest, what with it being a shell with a sewn in cotton/fleece/minky layer and often place to stuff an absorbent pad.  (Some of them have attached pads, some separate.  I don’t notice any real difference in the time it takes to put them together or in the way they work.)  They fasten with snaps or velcro and work like the ease of a disposable. No diaper cover required.  Our daycare is fine with using them, too.

I have two favourite diapers (and god, does it feel weird to have that statement be true.  I guess I really am a parent now.).  The first is FuzziBunz Perfect Size diapers.  Jess wore the smalls until ~15 pounds, and then her chubby thighs dictated a move to the mediums.  They fit really well, and because they are sized, they don’t have the bulk issue.  They absorb well, the liner falls out in the washer so you don’t have to touch it when it’s dirty,  the colours are cute and they fit well under clothes.

My other favourites are the Scottish made TotBots, in part because they are so adorable.  I mean, the London ones are covered with little drawings of Tube map and little Buckingham Palace guards and blacks cabs.  Also fairy tale diapers, like Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Piggies.  Squee!  They’re sold out everywhere, but will eventually return, and I plan to buy at least 4 more.  They’re soft minky fabric instead of the stiffer fleece most other diapers use, and so they are less bulky even as an all in one diaper.  The velcro seems to be lasting well, and the fit is great.  And oh so cute.

First in the diapers I like category are Swaddlebees Simplex / Blueberry Basix All-in-One Diapers.  (Same company – name change or something.)  I like them – they fit snugly and have lasted far longer than the other sized diapers.  I bought them on sale, and they’ve held up.  There’s not fleece inside – unbleached organic cotton instead, so they often come out of the dryer still damp.  I have them in plain colours, because they were on sale, but they do come in some pretty cute patterns.

I also like (but not love) using prefolds and covers.  I started with cheap Indian unbleached prefolds, some Thirsties Duo Wrap covers and some Weehuggers.  I liked the Weehuggers but Jess outgrew them fairly quickly, compared to the the Thirsties which still fit at 16 pounds.    I’ve since bought a couple more Thirsties in the medium size (in girly prints) and a couple of Bummis Super Whisper Wraps, but at 16 pounds, Jess isn’t quite fitting them yet.  I’ve also bought a couple of fitted diapers:  Bamboozle Stretch Bamboo Fitted Diapers by Tots Bots.  They are awesome, and I plan to buy a few more.  Really easy to use, like the All in Ones, except for needing to add a  cover.  (Honestly, prefolds aren’t hard or anything.  I just fold the diaper in threes and stuff it in the cover – I haven’t figured out any of the special folds or how to best use a snappi (now used instead of pins.)  It’s just easier to use a one piece diaper with velcro.  I’ve already made this complicated enough, why add more?)

I’m not a big fan of the BumGenius Freetime diapers.  I mean, they’re fine, I guess?  I use them for nights, stuffed with a thick insert and bamboo insert, and she’s fine for 12 hours.  But the inserts don’t fall out in the wash, which means you have to pull them out before washing, and frankly, I like cloth diapers because of how rarely I have to touch gross stuff, so that takes kind of ruins it for me.  I mean, they are fine, and the Einstein print is pretty awesome, but a resounding MEH from me otherwise.

Diapers I hate?  Flips.  Hate them. The liner always moves around when you’re trying to put it on, because it’s not attached to anything.  They technically function fine, and other people seem to like them, but I’d rather use a prefold and a cover than this weird hybrid.  I will sell them to you for cheap if you want them!

Beyond the diapers, I bought a small wetbag for the diaper bag, and a large one and an Ikea pail with lid.  We use cloth wipes, because why not, at this point?  We use a combo of fancy cloth ones and cheap infant face cloths I got as a shower present.  As she’s not yet mobile, we leave her on the couch (aka the change station) while we wet the cloth in the sink, but eventually probably we’ll use a spray bottle to wet them.  Calgary has the hardest water ever, and I use Rockin Green Hard Rock detergent.  After 4 months of daily use, the diapers had built up a bit of ammonia smell, so I soaked them in Strip it by The Laundry Tarts and dried them in the sun and I haven’t had the problem again.

If you buy nothing else, buy a cloth swim diaper!  Swim diapers are basically just there to stop poop from leaking in to the water – liquids drain right through.  A 10 pack of swim diapers is like $10.  A swim diaper good for like, a year, is $15.  And they are cuter.  I bought a matching tankini top, and she doesn’t need anything else.  (Not that we didn’t buy a pink ruffled swim suit, but this gives us options!)

Of course, we still have disposables around.  No way in hell I will I deal with cloth diapers on a week long road trip.  And sometimes she starts to look a little red (especially in this transition to food / transition in poop phase) so we’ll cover her in diaper cream at bed time and use a disposable.  (Most diaper creams destroy most cloth diapers.  It’s not been worth my while to buy a cloth diaper safe diaper cream, for the one or twice a month this has happened.)

So those are my thoughts.  If I was to do this again, from scratch?  I would use a diaper service for the first couple of months, instead of buying newborn diapers.  I would then buy adorable covers and a small pile of prefolds and fitteds.  I would buy a bunch of one sized Totbots and sized Fuzzibunz diapers, and some Blueberries for variety and fun patterns.  A three pack of the bamboo liners for nights.  Maybe a trio of the BumGenius for nights, because they’re large enough to take lots of liners.  Yes to the cloth wipes and wet bags and detergent and swim diaper.  And then, I’d still probably buy a few news ones over the months, because damn if there are not some adorable patterns out there.

I only bought from Canadian stores, in large part to avoid paying duties, and cheaper (or free!) shipping.  The three I used and have been very happy with are Peekaboo Bottoms, GorgeousBaby and Calgary Cloth Diaper Depot, but there’s lots of others, with various deals on shipping and sales.

Anyway, that’s about the sum of my feelings.  (I can’t believe I have 1600 words to say about cloth diapers.  Motherhood is strange!)

Mini Me

Let’s be honest.  Most little babies just look like, well, little babies.  Or perhaps Winston Churchill.  Perhaps with an identifying feature or two from the parents.

And then there’s my baby.

Me and my mini me

Yes.  The picture on the left is me at 3 days, and the right is Jessie at 4 weeks.  An earlier picture would have captured a more similar skin tone, and Jess has obviously had a month to chubby up those cheeks, but it’s clear even to me that she is so totally my baby.

Now that she’s a little older, it’s fun to play ‘spot the family resemblance’.  Obviously she looks like me in the face and the eyes and the hair, but she totally has David’s lips and ears and long graceful fingers and normal fingernails.  She totally has my paternal family’s webbing between the second and third toes, but her second toe is longer than the big toe like David’s.  Her lack of chin is totally my dad and sister.

I’m sure it gets more fun as she gets bigger.  And harder, as she become her own person, instead of this 10 pound (already!) funny faced eating machine.

Amateur Sociology

I take the train to and from work every day. I’ve been riding the train daily since grade 10, so for more years than I want to count.  Calgary Transit sucks pretty bad.  It’s insufficient for a major city, I’m pretty sure it’s the most expensive per ride system in the country, and the light rail train system falls apart every time it snows more than 2mm.  But, it’s still better than driving in the city during rush hour.  The thought alone of having to drive downtown every day gives me an ulcer.  When the train works, it’s actually not that bad.  It’s only 25-30 minutes from my front door to my office door, on a normal day.  (We’ll ignore all the days it takes more than an hour because of who-the-hell-knows-what’s-gone-wrong-today.)  Driving would probably take longer, especially once you factor in parking downtown.  It would certainly cost more.  (Parking downtown Calgary is the most expensive in Canada, last I heard.  There are some downsides of living in a wealthy city.)

Anyway.  I spend a lot of time on the train, and also a lot of time complaining about the train.  Also, reading on the train, pretending that other people on the train don’t exist and trying to breathe through my mouth on the train.  All pretty standard transit routines, I’m sure.

But one thing I’ve been paying a lot of attention to recently is the sociology of ‘Who Will Give The Pregnant Lady A Seat’ and my findings have kind of surprised me.  I’ve been getting a seat consistently since I was about 6 months pregnant – with my belly bursting out of my ill-fitting coat.  Actually, let’s be even more accurate.  Since I was about 7 months pregnant, I have got a seat on the packed trains twice a day.  The only time no one immediately offered, I spoke up.  “Hi, I’m 8 months pregnant, can someone please give me their seats?” Two people stood up instantly. Canadians, right? It also helps that David and I generally ride the train together and our routine is that I look short and very pregnant, and David lurks until someone notices me and offers a seat.  It works pretty well.

The interesting thing who offers me a seat, and who does not.  Before I got pregnant and started paying attention to this (beyond, you know, offering pregnant ladies and old people a seat the rare time I had one), my guess about who would offer a seat would run something like: women in their 30s, women in the 40s, women in their 50s, men of any age, teenagers.  How very very wrong I would be.

The number one demographic group to offer a seat? Men between the ages of 30 and 55.  Like, by far and away the majority.  Followed by men in their early 20s.  Followed by women in their 30s, and women in their late 50s, early 60s.  Followed by teenagers.  The worst group of all?  Is absolutely women in the 40s and 50s.  They (the collective they) will often look right at my giant stomach, and then ignore me.  Unlike the men, who if they notice, will almost always immediately offer me a seat.*  It’s interesting.  The women I would expect to be most sympathetic – women who have most likely had children themselves – are the least sympathetic.  Men who are probably far removed from their hypothetical partners being in this state seem the most chivalrous.**  I’m not really sure what broad trends you could derive from this, but it does make the 45 seconds between getting on the train and someone offering me a seat more interesting.

* This is all very me me me, but when you’re short and hugely pregnant and having pelvic floor pain and have some balance problems, getting a seat on a crowded jerky stop-go train becomes a pretty overwhelming requirement for personal happiness.

** Calgary?  Is, in fairness, a fairly chivalrousness town.  You know, the kind of place where men let women enter the elevator first and hold doors.

Tidbits

Mexico was just lovely.  We went to Cabo, because it was the shortest flight from Calgary.  We saw whales in the bay during breakfast, we read books, nice young men brought me icy drinks and I lost many games of crib.  It was a wonderful week away.  It also really helped when we found out it was +25oc in Cabo and -43oc in Calgary.  We left and the weather crashed to polar temperatures.  Excellent timing, us.

I wore a bikini for the first time in my life.   I figure as I had crossed over from ‘chubby’ to ‘very deeply pregnant’ this was the perfect time to wear a black polka dot bikini on the beach.  Which, ignoring a couple of asshole comments from a group of assholes from Texas (serious, so annoying, that whole lot), was quite lovely.  I was hoping to tan enough to make the stretchmarks look less visible, but no such luck.  I will also say that being in the pool while in the third trimester is just lovely.  My belly would actually lift a couple of inches in the water.  I may have to figure out how to spend the rest of this pregnancy in a pool.  Or at the very least, a bath tub.

I’m definitely getting to the unwieldy portion of pregnancy.  Rolling over is a 5 step process that wakes me up.  And sometimes David, despite the king size of the bed.  All that flopping and flailing and sweating…

Oh, about the whole EI thing?  My mother the tax accountant reminded me that not only do I pay $800 a year in to the system, so does whatever company I work for.  So realistically, my mat leave was paid of, between my husband and I, three years ago.  I don’t think, in the end, it even really matters.  This is a social program that as a nation we’ve deemed important, and I’m really really lucky to have that.  It’s certainly not free, but on a national level it works out.  I pay in to a system, as does the company I work for, and the system pays out in times of need.  And it clearly values the role of parental child care in the critical first year of babies lives.  Yay great white north.  (Too bad about the weather.)

At the doctor’s appointment a few weeks ago, the doc told me to start taking a 150 mg zantac every 12 hours and oh my god, you guys, it worked!  I can eat FOOD AGAIN!  After 12 weeks of heartburn following closely on 10 weeks of low grade nausea, this is a miracle.  Depending on how long the day or what I ate, I don’t always even take the second pill.

Despite two and a half weeks of being able to eat food, including a week at an all inclusive resort with all the virgin coconut drinks I could consume, I still have only managed to put on 9 pounds.  My body is fighting like hell not to put on weight.  It’s weird.  My belly, however, is huge.  And my fundus measurements are dead on, and the baby is generally very active, and my blood pressure’s at the very bottom of the desirable range.  So I’m just assuming all is well.

However.  At Friday’s appointment, she mentioned something about this not being brought up before due to my lack of consistency of care at the clinic, but that I need to have an another ultrasound.  (I have every second Friday off, therefore I book all my appointments on Fridays.  However, no doctor regularly works Fridays, so I see someone new almost every time.  I don’t really mind – the appointments are so short that what does it matter who checks the heartbeat?)  It’s weird, because in Alberta, you get one around 12 weeks and another around 20 and that’s it.  Unless there is a problem.  So, only after leaving, did I realize this means there might be a problem.  Huh.  Trying pretty hard to squash my anxiety over that one.  Helps that Skipper’s being all active and constantly assuring me of it’s aliveness.  In fact, today it feels like it’s trying to climb out through my belly button and that actually really hurts.  I suppose I’m feeling the stretch mark form as I sit here.

It’s funny, my reaction to food over the last 30 weeks.  I’m normally a bit of a foodie, as much as I hate that term.  I have a bookshelf full of cookbooks, I’m an adventurous cook and eater, I’ve actually written a cookbook (Christmas gift), I can explain most terms off a fancy menu off the top of my head and I read a lot of food blogs.  I collect recipes like some people collect hockey cards.  But with the first trimester came low grade nausea and a complete indifference to food.  With the second came the crippling heartburn and my diet shifted heavily towards Lucky Charms and ice cream, the only two foods that never gave me heart burn, and sometimes even would quell it for a couple of hours. David has eaten a ton of frozen burrito lunches and dinners, along with many scrambled eggs in tortillas and random frozen meals.  I never have random frozen meals – it’s just not the way I like to cook, and to eat.  Until I got pregnant, and then, suddenly, food became resoundingly MEH.  It has really added to the sense of alien-ness of this pregnancy.  (What, I only called it alien parasite for a few months.)  My body is off doing it’s own thing with very little input from me, and now I can’t even be bothered to EAT?  WTF.  The heartburn pills are helping – when you’re not burping up acid every few breaths, it’s easier to want to eat – but I’m now 8 months along and the kid’s really pushing on my stomach and lungs, so I can’t eat as much anyway.  Actually, thinking about it, I’ve only had The Hunger once, at about 8 weeks.  It was ‘if I don’t eat now I will die/faint/kill someone’.  So I ate, and then it never happened again.
Pregnancy is so so weird.