Classical Music for Children

Yesterday at mommy group one of the other ladies who is a music teacher gave a presentation about doing music with your kids. One of the memorable parts of the presentation for me was when she played a few songs from Le Carnaval des Animaux. Some of the songs were familiar but I didn’t realize that they were from an entire musical suite. This work is a good find for anyone like me who wants to introduce their child to some classical music that isn’t Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

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Nail polish and health

I was concerned about chemical exposure during pregnancy so I did not paint my nails during my entire pregnancy (I used to really enjoy having painted nails since most makeup is for the benefit of other people looking at you unless you spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, but nail polish is the only form of makeup that you can enjoy on yourself all the time).

I painted my nails once after RJ was born, but I asked my mom to watch her in another room so RJ wouldn’t be exposed to the fumes. Then I was too reluctant to use nail polish remover because I was worried it would leave residue on my hands and I am handling RJ all day. So my nails looked nice for a day and then terrible for a couple of weeks.

Since I’ve had RJ, I’ve become more interested in avoiding potentially harmful chemicals in my personal hygiene routine. Since I am handling her all day and she often has her mouth on my body (I only ever use coconut oil on my breasts) I feel that looking after my own exposure to nasty chemicals is part of looking after her.

I started researching different types of nail polishes awhile ago and finally made a purchase of Suncoat Water-based Nail Polish. I was almost going to buy a Pure Anada brand nail polish because it is made in Manitoba, but it is a solvent-based polish (although it seems to be safe and formaldehyde free) and has that strong smell that I’d like to avoid. Because, you know, whatever you can smell is actually entering your body.

I’m very happy with the polish. It is practically odourless and one coat provides nice coverage.  I had heard that water-based polishes do not last as long as solvent-based but I am satisfied with the durability of this polish.

The one thing I forgot was to buy some nail polish remover. Hubby suggested I just use my old acetone-based remover because he thinks acetone is safe. But here’s a tip, if you want to know the safety of any chemical, you can google “msds” and then the name of the chemical. MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet and it will tell you everything you need to know about a chemical. So here’s what it has to say about acetone:

Special Remarks on Chronic Effects on Humans:

May affect genetic material (mutagenicity) based on studies with yeast (S. cerevisiae), bacteria, and hamster fibroblast cells. May cause reproductive effects (fertility) based upon animal studies. May contain trace amounts of benzene and formaldehyde which may cancer and birth defects. Human: passes the placental barrier.

So it looks like I’ll be wearing ratty nail polish until I can make it to the store for some polish remover alternative.

French as a Second Language resources for my anglophone baby

I have a few baby-related topics that I obsess about. One is giving RJ early exposure to French. C’est compliqué because neither hubby nor I is a native French speaker. I started learning French more seriously at age 13 in an extended French program at school (where about a third of subjects are taught in French and the rest in English).

Second language researchers will tell you that the sooner a second language is introduced, the easier the acquisition of that language will be. So I try to speak a little bit of French to RJ every day. And I’ve started to take an evening conversational French class to brush up my abilities as much as possible so I don’t wind up teaching her some kind of horrible stilted anglicized version of French (something I worry about).

Most advice about raising bilingual children that I’ve found is geared towards parents who are native speakers of two different languages. In those cases, it is recommended that each parent attempt to speak exclusively to the child in their native tongue.

In our own unique case, I try to get some simple French books from the library and read them on an almost-daily basis to RJ. I have also been putting a lot of effort into learning French nursery rhymes. RJ and I have been enjoying that very much.

This youtube video could keep us going forever. We’ve only learned three songs from it.

I also wanted to play some French radio during her naps, but I’ve found that the daytime music on our local French station is not to my liking. So I ended up purchasing this album by Francine Chantereau on iTunes. I would highly recommend this album because the instrumentation on the tunes is nice (I often find that the settings of recorded children’s music sound like terrible cheap midi files). In addition, it has a half hour at the end of Peter and the Wolf.

Bref, RJ and I both enjoy these little practices. And that joie de vivre is the most important French lesson of all.

Pumping and Milk Supply

I planned to breast-feed RJ, but we had trouble getting her to latch, so within a couple of days after she was born she had formula for the first time. We needed to buy some time so she wouldn’t starve while we learned how to latch. But a mother’s milk supply is directly related to how much milk her baby draws out of the breasts and since RJ wasn’t taking any milk at all from my breasts I had to enter into the world of the breast pump to stop my milk from drying up.

If your pumping goal is to work towards syncing your boobs with your baby’s appetite the ideal thing is to pump every time the baby feeds. Then at the next feed you can give baby whatever milk you’ve pumped through a finger feed, supplemental nursing system or bottle (and if you are not producing very much milk you can supplement with formula).

I wasn’t producing very much milk until four days postpartum. My milk came in with a vengeance and I was engorged all the way to my collarbones. Then RJ couldn’t latch on my nipples because my breasts were like rocks. I pumped furiously for a few days to relieve the pressure.

But…. I MADE A MISTAKE.

This is the reason why I wanted to write this post.

I pumped on the HIGHEST SUCTION SETTING of the pump. I thought it would get the milk out faster and make my pumping more efficient. I found out later that it is better to pump with the lowest suction that will work to draw out the milk. What happened for me was that I overstimulated my breasts, which increased my milk production… so my breasts stayed engorged for longer, and baby’s latching problems were exacerbated.

This simple mistake led me into an overproduction of milk, so when RJ tried to feed, the milk came out too forcefully and she would start to choke.

This story does end well though. I started pumping on a lower setting, my breasts became less swollen, RJ and I learned how to latch and breast-feed without any paraphernalia. One day, I sat on a bench in Ikea and fed RJ from my breasts. It was fast, convenient and discreet. We’d made it.

Packing the Hospital Bag (Canadian Hospitals)

It’s been almost 4 months since I delivered RJ, so before I forget, I thought I would write down the items that I think should be on a packing list for a hospital birth.

I read a few different lists from different sources (e.g. babycenter.ca) before I did my packing and I ended up packing 3 bags: one for me, one for hubby and one for baby. I was so overpacked. When you give birth in Canada pretty much everything is provided. I used almost nothing that was in my bags (and had my mom running out to get some things that I hadn’t thought to bring). So here are two lists: one listing what to pack, one listing what other lists will tell you you need that you shouldn’t bother with.

What to pack: Continue reading

Baby Poo Stains

Yesterday morning I woke up and stared at RJ. She was wearing an aqua-coloured sleeper that really made her blue eyes pop. I was thinking ”her eyes are so pretty. That sleeper is so nice.” Then I picked her up out of the crib and saw that she had had a big diaper blowout all over that almost brand-new sleeper and onto the blanket beneath her.

I followed the poo removal instructions on this site (scrubbed off loose poo under running cold water, soaked 2 hours in oxy clean in the sink, warm wash in machine, air dry in sunlight).

Today there is a creepy looking RJ-effigy hanging in my sunniest window and I am happy to report that the stain is completely gone

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Guest Post: Breast feeding Challenges

Today I’m posting a guest post written by my friend Alicia. Her breast-feeding story is an incredible tale of challenge and perseverance.

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My thoughts on breastfeeding before my son was born was that breast feeding was the obvious choice because it was free, convenient, and let me develop a quick bond with my baby. I thought it was something you just had to choose to do and it would happen; that people who chose not to were just being vain about damaging their precious boobs or cared more about sleeping or some other silly reason. I even went so far as to purchase only a single manual pump because “I won’t even need to pump like, ever”.  Looking back on this, I’m embarrassed about just how ignorant and uneducated in the matter I was.

I’ve since discovered that breast feeding can go one of two ways:  The best possible scenario being that baby latches on well from the start and there are no issues to speak of. The second being a hellish uphill battle where you end up in a lot of pain, both physical and emotional. My situation was of course the second. Continue reading