What a difference some hair can make

Yesterday, my little man went for a haircut. This is something he has been (reluctantly) thinking about for a few weeks, as he will be starting into the boys competitive program at gymnastics soon and would need to find a way to tame his wild locks for that. It’s funny, but his hair has always been pretty important to him. He likes long hair on himself, and always has. I think that it has been over a year since his last cut, and that was totally his choice. As long as he let us brush and wash it, he could wear it however he wanted. And he has.

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This time, it grew way past his shoulders and we were starting to deal with knots and tangles, which he wasn’t keen on, but was willing to live with for the sake of his long locks. Since he would be doing competitive gymnastics, though, he was faced with the thought of having to tie it back, and he did not want that. Elastics are ok in my hair, but certainly not in his.

So over the last couple of weeks, we have been scouring the internet for pictures of boys and men looking for hairstyles that suited him. He has had some really awful haircuts in the past, including a patchy one (oh how I wish I were kidding about that) and I was NOT going down that road again. He decided that he wanted “rock star hair” amd asked to see pictures of the guys from Lynard Skynard. I kid you not. I said nope. I showed him pictures of funky, spiky hairdos. Nope. He doesn’t like spikes. Finally, we came across a picture of David beckham in a soccer uniform. “That’s it!” He exclaimed. I showed him a few other Beckham pictures from the same era. Yep, that was the one. Ok, I could live with that. At least it wasn’t Lynard Skynard hair, right?

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. It was decided that he wanted to do it. We pulled up the pictute, and into the hair place we went. He was a bit nervous and tried to bargain to go to Starbucks first, but the deal was done. He showed the stylist the picture, and she proceeded to explain to him what she thought that need. Then into the chair. He wanted to spin and play with all the things, and so she gave him a comb and an oversized blush brush (at least that’s what it looked like to me) to play with and out came the clippers. I asked her to please not buzz his hair down to pink, and she assured me that her number 3 clippers wouldn’t take it too short. With final confirmation from me that *I* was ok with it being that short, away she went. I will admit. My heart sank a little as she buzzed off that first handful of hair and handed it to Q to brush off. Piles and piles of hair started falling and I felt a bit sad. By the end, it was very, very different and I could hardly recognize the grown up little boy smiling at me from the chair. What a difference some hair makes!

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Although he doesn’t care much for the thought of having to style it with gel, he is very pleased with his new ‘do. He is also pretty pleased at the reactions that he is getting from people. I miss his long locks, but it’s only hair, right? I think he looks just as good as Beckham too, don’t you agree?

Mama milk please – our extended breastfeeding story

I swear that I’ve written this post before, but I can’t seem to find it. Hmmm. Maybe I just imagined that I did. Oh well, regardless, my friends Hillary and Andrea have inspired me to do it (possibly for the second time, haha).

Though we have been out of it for a while, I still feel very strongly about breastfeeding. While I don’t go around screeching “breast is best”, I do think that if you can nurse, you should at least give it a fighting chance. I know that there are some people who really can’t, for whatever reason, but I also believe that we don’t provide enough support and assistance to help new moms through the ups and downs that come with breast feeding.

Honestly? I never thought that I would be a passionate advocate for breastfeeding. When I was pregnant, I felt a bit squicky at the thought of it. I knew a few people who did it, but no one in my circle at that time was actively nursing or was anyone I could really talk to about it. I was scared, wondered how on earth I was going to feed this little person solely from my body, but determined to try. Then Q was born and he weighed only 4lbs 9 ozs. Less than your average sized ham. He was so small, and needed to be whisked off to the NICU right away, so we never got that moment of bonding, that skin to skin contact that you always hear about. He didn’t get to root and suckle right after birth because he was being tended to, having IV’s and monitors and a feeding tube put in. I didn’t get to hold or touch, or really even see him until the next day. The nurses, however, came to me, set me up with the pump and told me to go to it. This teeny tiny boy fighting in the NICU needed my milk, and damnit, he was going to get it. I pumped and sent it down to the NICU so that it could be fed to him with a syringe, into his feeding tube. The first few days there was not enough, so it got mixed with a bit of formula, but I was determined that if I had to spend every hour of every day pumping to make sure that he had enough milk, I would.

The next 9 days were pretty much a blur of pumping, trying to get him to nurse, feeding him through the tube and then pumping again. We tried nipple shields, finger feeding, kangaroo bonding, lactation assistance from the NICU nurses and our doula. There were tears, bleeding, anger and frustration but eventually he got the hang of it enough to get a full feed in just from me. Even after he came home, we struggled and fought. I remember the day that I called the health unit in tears because he wouldn’t eat and they told me that I shouldn’t stress, because when he was hungry, he would eventually nurse. He weighed barely 5lbs at that time and there was NO way that I was going to do that. With the support of my family and my doula I kept going. Being so small, it took him a long time to nurse and he had to eat a lot. I had to pump to get my supply up and keep it up, as well as have a stock for bottles. My husband or I would feed him in the middle of the night and I would then go sit on the bathroom floor with a blanket and book and my pump. I had it down to an art.

All except the actual breastfeeding part, that is. For the first 4 months of Q’s life, every single feeding was like going into battle for me. I bled, I had blisters and cracks and latching on hurt so much that I would often nurse him and cry. And cry and cry. Sometimes I wanted to scream. It hurt so bad that I would literally clench up my hands and curl my toes and bite my lips till they bled too. But everytime I wanted to quit, I heard the voice of my doula in my head, saying “Never quit on your worst day. If you make it through to a better day and you still want to quit, then ok, but never quit on your worst day. You’ll regret it.” Every day, every single feeding of every single day was my worst day. So I didn’t quit. People around me told me that it was ok if I stopped, that I had tried my best and gone to great lengths to try and do it. But I just couldn’t quit on my worst day, I just couldn’t. So we kept going.

At about 4 months, something changed. I don’t know if it was around that time that Q was finally more like a “normal or full term” sized baby, I don’t know if we had finally found the proper way to latch, I don’t know if the stars aligned in the right way, but one day it hurt a little less and got a little easier. And then a little easier still. And a bit less painful and even easier. It finally felt a bit more natural and right and ok. We had made it. I had hung on through my worst days and had come out the other side.

After that, we were able to establish more of a nursing relationship. I wasn’t so stressed and in pain and could relax and just let it happen. Yeah, I still had to pump, but whatever. It just gave me some quiet time to read or play on my iPad and listen to music. I went back to work when he was 10 months old, and I wondered how we’d be able to keep it up. With the support of my boss at the time and my family, we were able to continue to nurse even after I went back to work. There were early morning feedings, pumping at lunchtime, after work feedings, and the like. It was doable though and we were all ok with it. After all the work and struggle and fight that we went through to get there, I made it my goal to try to nurse him to the age of 2. I had done a lot of reading and knew that the research was strongly in favour of breastfeeding until at least the age of 2, if not beyond and I was good with that.

Q loved his “mama milk” and I found it a good excuse to have some quiet cuddles and actually force myself to relax, no matter what had gone on during the day. This was our time. As he got bigger, and over the age of 1, the looks and comments began to trickle in. At the age of 18 months, I had a lot of people question our decision to continue to breastfeed. I usually retorted that it was the recommendation of the World Health Organization to nurse until the age of 2, or thanked them for their concern, but that we were just fine. I had people tell me that I was going to turn my child into a pervert or a serial killer (say what?!?) or that he was going to be completely messed up in the head from nursing at that age. I had people call me a pervert. We endured stares and tsks and judgemental glances and comments. I was told by a doctor that Q was pale and anaemic because I chose to breastfeed him past 6 months. But still we persevered.

When Q was 2 1/2, he came down with a horrendous stomach bug. I have never seen a kid so sick in my entire life. My normally bouncy, energetic boy was pale, lethargic and exhausted. He could barely lift his head up and couldn’t keep anything down. He went from 21 lbs to 16 lbs in just a few days. We saw the doctor repeatedly and ended up in the ER twice, only to be sent home. The last time we went to the doctor, I was given 8 hrs to get him to keep something, anything down or he would have to be admitted and put on an IV for dehydration. We were still nursing at the time, but were down to a few times a day. I asked the doctor if he could have breastmilk, because they had told me no milk or dairy products. When the older male doctor found out that we were still nursing, he got very excited and encouraged me to nurse continuously until something stayed in. We did, and to this day, I honestly believe with all of my heart that breastmilk and the fact that we were still nursing is the reason that he turned the corner and didn’t need to be hospitalized.

Eventually, it got to the point where Q only wanted his “mama milk” in the morning and at night. It was part of our bedtime ritual, milk and a story and a cuddle. If he was stressed or not feeling well, he would ask me for more, but understood if I couldn’t do it right away. He could tell me that he was done or that the milk was “all done” on one side. He never demanded and never tried to undress me in a lineup or anything. After all of the struggles we had, after the fights we endured, and the tenacity he showed, I didn’t feel right saying, deciding for him, when it was time to stop. People would tell me that he was just using me for comfort. Of course he was! He is a child and I am his mummy and that is what I am here for. It is part of my commitment to him, to comfort and soothe him when he is scared or sad or stressed.

I really had no set time frame for when he’d wean and that was ok. When his 3rd birthday came and went, for the most part people didn’t ask anymore. I never tried to hide it, and neither did he, but I think that people just assumed that there was no way that we’d still be nursing. Honestly though, while I didn’t hide it, I didn’t offer up the info either, for fear of being judged. Wouldn’t you, if youd been told repeatedly that you were ruining you child’s life by doing something natural and normal? Then, through the magic of online communities, I had found that I was not the only one who was nursing beyond the age of 2 or 3, and it was ok. There were people who didn’t judge me or accuse me of trying to turn my kid into a sex offender (yes, someone actually said that to me). They understood my occasional desire to have my body back but also my desire to allow Q to make the choice of when that happened. The term “extended breastfeeder” no longer felt like something I had to be wary of saying, or admitting that I was. It was great. I heard terms like “normal term or full term breastfeeding”. I didn’t feel alone with it anymore. I really wished that I had known people like this when we went through our early struggles.

The end came in the summer of 2012. I was going to be away for a week at a blogging conference in New York City, and since we were down to just once, maybe twice a day, sometimes skipping days, I figured the time was coming soon. I still wanted him to make the decision, but I was pretty sure that if he hadn’t made the decision by the time I went away, it would be made for him when I got back. Slowly, he stopped asking for “mama milk” at night some nights and if I didn’t offer, he didn’t have any. It went one day, then two and then he’d ask again and I’d give it to him. Then it was three days, then four. Then one day he was done. Just like that. He was almost 4. I felt both sadness and relief. It had ended on our terms though, at his choosing, like I wanted it to. It felt right.

I know that not everyone is interested in breastfeeding for an extended period of time, but I share my story to let people know that it is possible to continue a nursing relationship with your child for as long as it works for you. You can do it once you go back to work, you can do it through illness, you can do it if it is right for you. I’m sure that there are people who will be shrinking in horror at my story, and maybe that is why I waited so long to share it, but that’s ok. I just ask that you keep your mind open. And if you are in the midst of, or have had, a lengthy breastfeeding relationship with your child, I tip my hat to you. Virtual fist bumps if you breastfed at all or tried to. If you are struggling and don’t know what to do, reach out. To me, to a friend, to your local La Leche League, to someone. I always tell my pregnant friends that I will do whatever I can to help support them and I mean it.

For some other stories of full-term breastfeeding, please check out my friends Lisa at Spokesmama or Amanda at Lilahbility, as well as the other two I mentioned at the beginning of the post as they share their stories. Please feel free to link up yours too, or leave a comment.

The Pirate Fairy – an arrrgh-mazing adventure

Where can you find pirates, fairies and a baby crocodile all in the same place? Why, the newest Disney Fairies movie, “The Pirate Fairy” of course!

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From the world of Pixie Hollow comes the new adventure of Tinkerbell and her friends, and oh, what an adventure it is. We are introduced to Zarina, a dust-keeper fairy who has a level of curiosity to rival Tinker Bell. Zarina is not content to just package the dust, but has a desire to learn more about it and what the dust is really capable of doing. Eventually she pushes things too far in her quest for knowledge, and flees from Pixie Hollow. She ends up joining forces with a motley group of pirates, who declare Zarina to be the new captain of their ship. When Zarina returns to Pixie Hollow to take something, Tinker Bell and the other fairies are drawn into an adventure that they didn’t expect, complete with new talents and some friends along the way. In this story, we also meet some of the pirates, including James, a pirate who acts as Zarina’s right hand man, but has strong ambitions of his own and will someday be known as the infamous Captain Hook. There are other characters who might be familiar faces in the future, and it fills in some of the story of Pixie Hollow and Skull Rock before the days of Peter Pan.

The cast is a star studded one, including Christina Hendricks as the voice of Zarina and Tom Hiddleston as the voice of James.

Q loved this movie from the first time he saw it. It was one that he had been looking forward to for months, since he saw the first preview for it. We were lucky enough to be able to attend a special screening of the movie prior to its release, and it was a huge hit. As soon as we got home, Q asked to watch The Pirate Fairy again, and I think that by the end of the weekend, we had watched it at least a half dozen times. Since then, we have watched it nearly every day, and, believe it or not, he has said that this movie now beats “Frozen” for the title of his favourite movie. I didn’t think that would be possible, but there you go. The songs in the movie are fun and infectious and you will probably find yourself singing them later.

The Pirate Fairy is full of swash-buckling, arrrgh-mazing fun and it’s great for both boys and girls alike. Really, who could top the combination of sword fighting, pirates, flying ships and fairies?

The Pirate Fairy is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital copy now, and comes with some awesome bonus features like sing-along videos, a couple of hilarious animated shorts, and a really neat croc-u-mentary which is both cute and educational. It’s been a huge hit in our house, and we hope you like it as much as we do.

We were provided with a copy of The Pirate Fairy for review purposes, but all opinions, thoughts and anecdotes are my own and I’m sharing them with you because I hope that you will love it as much as we do.

Pain lies but we are not in this alone

I know that it might seem that I haven’t had too much to say lately, and for that I’m sorry. I’m trying, but when you are really struggling, sometimes it feels like anything you have to say is something that no one is going to want to hear.

I will be honest with you. There are times right now when I feel like I am treading water as hard as I possibly can, but no matter what I do, I can barely keep my head above the surface of the water. It is taking all of my energy sometimes to do the things that need to be done, and after putting on the best face that I can, I’m not quite sure what is left to share. I’m scared that if I start talking, I’ll cry, and if I cry, I won’t be able to stop.

I’m not depressed, yet, but it’s a slippery slope and I’m sliding. I struggled with whether or not to say anything, but then in the end, decided that I would, if for no other reason, than in the hopes that if someone else is reading this and sliding too, they will know that they are not alone.

I am surrounded by people, pretty much all the time, but I find myself feeling so lonely. It’s a hard slap in the face to feel like friends are falling away in the midst of everything else, but then again, everyone has their own lives and their own issues and those don’t have anything to do with me or mine. I miss my friends. I miss seeing them and talking to them and hanging out. I don’t like to see the slightly sad look hidden behind their eyes, but I wish that sometimes some of them would send me a text, or an email, or a Facebook message just to say hi. It’s weird, and complicated, but sometimes when you are not going to places where you spent huge amounts of time, it can feel like you have been quickly forgotten. It feels like a bit of out of sight out of mind.

I’m angry. There is a lot going on, a lot of assumptions being made and things decided that I have no real say in, despite the fact that it’s all about me. I’m not a control freak per say, ok, maybe I am a bit, but I HATE feeling like I have little to no control over my own life. I want someone to understand, to say “hey, I GET it, maybe I can’t fix it, but I get it”. I want to be heard, to be more than a number or a dollar sign.

If you’ve ever dealt with chronic pain, or any kind of chronic illness, you will know that it is its own special kind of animal. It grabs hold of you and tries to insert itself as deep into your life as it can. It’s a fight not to let it take over, but I won’t. I am so much more than that, as easy as it is to forget sometimes.

Pain lies.

It sneaks into your brain and reminds you of the things you used to do, the things you want to do, and can’t. It needles into your head and eats away at your self-confidence and your self-worth and makes you think that just because you can’t catch a ball right now or bake a pan of muffins or a cake right now or cook a pot of pasta right now that you will never be able to do these things again and that you suck. That you are worthless. That your contributions to your family or your life, in whatever capacity they might be right now don’t matter.

It lies.

I don’t want to listen, but it gets hard. I have that sneaking, nagging thought in the back of my head that I’m not a good mum to Q because I can’t play Skylanders with him, or toss a football or bake with him. Just the thought that I’m not the mum that he deserves makes me want to cry. That kid is the embodiment of perfection to me and he deserves the best. He has been so good, so patient since my injury, so understanding when we remind him to be careful of mummy’s hand.

I hate feeling vulnerable, and hate showing that vulnerability even more. Putting that side of me on display for the world to read is crazy-making. But I will because it may be that I am not alone in this. In fact, I know I’m not, but I want to make sure that others know that they aren’t too. We all have our burdens to bear, and having people to lean on makes it that much easier. If there is one thing that I have taken away from this injury rehab program that I’m doing right now, it is that. We are in this together, but we need to be brave and stand up, put your hand up, and ask for help or support. So let’s do that ok? I will, and am.

Family fun in Whistler part 1 – from the mountain to the spa

Last weekend, we took a much needed family break. It was spring break for the little man and we really felt like we needed to do something together as a family, something fun and away from “real life” for a few days. Really, there was one place that stood out to head to, and that was Whistler. The weather looked like it would be nice, there was lots of snow and it wasn’t too far of a drive from home. Perfect.

Whistler has long been a favourite getaway destination for us. We went there for our honeymoon, and have continued to visit at least a few times each year since then. We go in both summer and winter, as the resort has great things to offer at both times of year. The reason to go at this time of year though, is the skiing. Now, sadly, I don’t get to ski, but both M and Q love it. Whistler offers lessons starting at the age of 3, which is awesome, so Q’s done a few lessons over the past couple of years. He hasn’t had the chance to hit the slopes yet this year, and so he was positively giddy about heading up. He was telling everyone he knew that he was going to get to go skiing for 2 days. I loved seeing how excited he was about this.
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The instructors at the Whistler Blackcomb ski school are fantastic, but the kids instructors really take it a step above. The lessons are a full day, and include lunch and snacks. Every child wears a GPS unit, allowing the instructors to keep track of them, a fantastic safety feature. Even cooler, at the end of the day, each child gets a report card which lists the skills they have worked on, their successes and things to work on. It also has the number of their Flaik tracking unit, so you can go online and get a picture of where they spent their day on the mountain, as well as distance covered and altitude. He thought it was pretty neat to see his picture too. When we picked him up at the end of the day, he was completely exhausted but had a fantastic time. I liked that the instructor talked to us too, and let us know the things he did well and what he needed to work on. Poor kid could hardly walk back to the hotel at the end of the day.
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The second day, M and Q hit the slopes together for the day. They spent a good part of their day on the bunny hill, working on skills, but did venture up the chairlift (eep!) to a green run.
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While Q was in his ski lesson, I got to make a visit to one of my very favourite spas ever. I won’t lie, I adore some spa pampering. It is one of my favourite ways to treat myself and always a welcome gift. The Taman Sari Royal Heritage spa is an authentic Javanese spa, and s the only location in North America. All of the spa therapists are trained in Indonesia before coming to work at the spa, and as soon as you walk through the doors, you feel as though you are transported to another country. From the second you arrive at the spa, you are treated like a valued guest and are offered tea and water. M treated me to a package which included a 60 min Javanese massage and a 30 coconut cream scalp treatment. It was positively heavenly. The Javanese massage uses different types of deep tissue strokes as well as a bit of assisted stretching. The first time I had one a few years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to think at first, but later felt more relaxed than I could remember feeling in a loooooong time. This time was no different. These tiny women can work a knot out of a muscle like nobody’s business, and they are quite adept at finding sore spots you didn’t even know you had.

Laying on the heated bed, you can literally feel the tension melting out of your body. For those who are not timid or shy, the therapists also massage the bust (for women) and buttocks, though you do need to specify if you are comfortable with this prior to the start of your massage. I recommend it though, as lots of people carry more tension than they realize in their chest and butt. You can also make use of the sauna, hot tub and heated pool prior to your treatments. I prefer the location at the Summit hotel, but there is also one at the Hilton. The massage is different from your typical spa massage, and are something that I highly recommend. The body scrubs, although I didn’t have one thus time, are also incredible. The coconut cream scalp treatment includes a masque for you hair, which is applied through the most blissfully incredible head massage. After it has all been applied, warm towels are wrapped around your hair, which is super relaxing. You end the treatment with a lovely warm shower. There are so many other treatments to try, and the spa normally has specials on a treatment as well as one of the packages. It is a definite must visit when you go to Whistler.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share some of our favourite restaurants and places to get food and drinks when in Whistler.

We were not sponsored at any point on this trip, nor was I ever asked to provide reviews of any of the places or businesses listed. I simply love the town and want to share some of my favourite places with you.