Rio is coming to Toronto

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, August 27, 2013.
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My in-laws are arriving tomorrow from Brazil... specifically my MIL and my SIL.  I am so anxious. This will be the first time my SIL is meeting Stella and the second time my MIL will meet her (only after being here for her birth).

Why am I so anxious?? I just really really want them to enjoy themselves here... and obviously they will. More than that, I want them to enjoy themselves so much that they decide to move here. It's already a plan in the making... but I hope this trip seals the deal. It's the biggest thing that pulls us back to Brazil. Although, to be honest, the longer we are here, the further away life in Brazil seems and the more hopeful our outcome in Canada becomes.

We're working hard to keep Portuguese a huge part of how we communicate with Stella. We are trying to introduce her to Brazilian food (well, for now only feijão preto (black beans)). We listen to Brazilian music. We ideally would like to visit Brazil every year for a month and have Stella spend summers there eventually.

Frankly, I just don't want to go through moving again and starting our life from zero again.

If we ever did move back one day, it would have to be done right. We would take our furniture, have a place ready for us, have jobs lined up. No more deciding to move and selling everything and hoping for the best. That was fine when it was just the two of us, and even then it kind of sucked.

We're doing ok now. Things are still tight, Ro still works a lot, but we have a place in a wonderful neighbourhood, surrounded by several good friends (with babies the same age as Stella), tons of Greek immigrants (I love this part of our neighbourhood) and things are finally starting to feel permanent. That's a huge piece that has been missing over the last 4 years or so.... replaced by other new, wonderful life experiences of course.  I can't say Ro and my life together hasn't been exciting. In fact, that's all it's been.

I never want to lose that part of who I am. I find myself eavesdropping on Brazilians speaking on the subway. Occasionally I speak to them... Stella is my conversation starter and luckily Brazilians love love love babies so I'm not just a weirdo. I like to think of myself as a mentor, an advocate, a link for Brazilians visiting Toronto. I want them to know I understand them and I am searching for a connection. Unfortunately, as I usually found in Brazil, it's difficult to connect with Brazilians beyond small talk. But that could have something to do with the venue.... it's hard to really get to know someone in a 7 minute subway ride.

Anyway, I took advantage of the time Stella is sleeping as well as search for a distraction from cleaning my house to write this blog. I am cleaning like a maniac, a mania I definitely brought home with me. And since I know my MIL will be wiping her fingers along the top shelves (I kid) I better get my toothbrush and get back to scrubbing. At least I know I will have an expert to help me for the next 5 weeks and that's nothing to complain about!

Can You Find a Story In Your Own Country?

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Filed under: , ,
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Things are good. Life is moving along well. Events are happening as they should. The biggest political news is that our Toronto mayor may or may not have done some cocaine and they've been talking about it for about a month.

In other words, nothing is happening.

That's one of the hardest things I find about living in Canada again. Where are the stories?? Where is the craziness?? The daily adventure?? Mildly interesting adventure?

Bah. Everything is just normal and fine. Why is that a bad thing?? It's not at all. It's a great thing. What I pined after during our time in Brazil. Cursed Brazil's ridiculous bureaucracy! Why is everything so slow?? Strangers so inconsiderate and self-interested?? Why is this person walking incredibly slow on the street and this one running making it impossible to walk down the road in a straight line??

It's just that having learned to cope with so many challenges makes anything that doesn't infuriate me seem just boring in comparison. And on that note, I am just so much more patient about life in general anyway that I don't really let little things get to me. And so life comes across as boring.

Even teaching English isn't quite as dynamic as it once was, most likely because I am teaching at a school, in a classroom and I have the same students every day. Don't get me wrong. It's not at all boring and I still love love love teaching (God I love teaching) but instead of hitting the streets and moving around the city everyday, I am tied to a single classroom. Also, I'm not the different one. They are. I am just like everyone else they see.

On a super interesting note, however, teaching mixed nationality classes is so incredible and tests my full potential of pronunciation teaching abilities. In one class I have Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Brazilian and Russian students who all have different language interferences and pronunciation difficulties. It's a linguistic nerd's dream.

So my challenge is to open my eyes up to some interesting stories in my own country. They are there. Especially now that I'm teaching Asian students, who are lighting up my life. They are the sweetest people... so friendly and kind and respectful and, on top of it all, great students. To think, I was so nervous about teaching them because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to connect in the same way. Maybe they wouldn't understand my sense of humor? But they do. They all do. And they are hilarious too.

But the highlight of my day? After work, walking about 15 minutes to the daycare where I leave Stella and seeing the excitement and joy in her face when they bring her around the corner and she sees me there to get her. The minute she's back in my arms with her big gummy smile (well, 2 little teeth now!), bouncing up and down, practically bursting with happiness .... well it's incredibly cool and makes it worth it to leave her for those hours just to feel reunited with her.

Because really, Stella is my story. My craziness. My daily adventure.

For my friends who aren't living abroad... how do you find adventure in your regular daily lives? For my expat friends... even after you're used to things, do you still find your guest countries exciting and adventurous? 

The Next 2 Weeks and I Heart Rio Metro

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
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  • I am graduating in 2 weeks from my TESL graduate program
  • We are moving to our new apartment over the next 2 weeks (it's a several day process)
  • I am doing a substitute teaching job for the next 2 weeks
  • I have 2 interviews lined up over the next 2 weeks
Oh, what? Did you notice a pattern there? YEAH. The next 2 weeks are gonna be crrrrazy up in here.
I find teaching 'letters' is a good place to start
The job situation is going to be interesting. It's my first time teaching in a proper school, with multiple nationalities in the same room.  A whole new challenge. Plus, it's teaching English to people with a whole new reason for learning. They are in survival mode, on vacation, temporary, and usually young.

Interesting observation... It was the first time I had taken the subway again since being back in Canada. It felt so different than the metro I had become so familiar with in Rio. One glaring difference was the lack of elderly, pregnant, and disabled people who are frequently seen on the Rio Metro. In Toronto, it's mostly 'yuppies' (Young Urban Professionals, for anyone unsure), and students, and throw in a few immigrants.
Yuppies like: cars, briefcases, cell phones, calculators, magnifying glasses, and neck pillows.

I watched everyone deep in their solitary snobbery, as they stared at their phones and read their E-readers and iPads (because nobody is afraid to pull these out here) and I felt really out of place.

Maybe it was the sheer LACK of people, the reasonable speed of the train, the abundance of seating (har har), but I felt somehow disconnected to this subway. Did I feel 'connected' to the Metro in Rio?? Well, yeah, I kinda did. I took that train everyday, several times a day. Same with the bus. I was super super familiar with the transit system in Rio, more-so than any other transit system in any other city I've ever lived in. The nature of teaching English in Rio meant that I was constantly on the move, travelling from class to class throughout the day.

Oh, the charm of physically not being able to fit inside...

It was a special kinda relationship I had with that transit system - plus I've never sweat like that for anyone before! There was no shame between me and the seats on the bus, that's for damn sure. But I digress.

So, I'm kind of hoping to reclaim that ownership over the transit system in Toronto, since we will be moving back there into our own apartment! (More on this in another blog, but HAPPY DANCE!) Now that I'll be manoeuvring the city streets with Stella sans car (Ro will be taking the car to commute to work) it's time I got comfortable once again with the busses and subways.

My only hope is that people are courteous enough to give up their seats when I'm with her, like they would do in Rio. I hope they can look up from their tunnel vision long enough to notice us....

My Daughter Is 'that' Kid

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
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Stella is officially 'that' kid. The kid that people roll their eyes at when she arrives. The kid that people are whispering about when I walk in the room. The kid that makes everyone say her name like this "Steeeeellaaaaa", where their voices rise at the 'e' and fall, with annoyance, at the 'a'.

They don't like her in the child-minding at the gym. The other day one of the people at the front desk asked me "How's Stella? Is she still... y'know..." I filled in the blank and said, "Sketchy?" Because frankly, that's kind of how she acts. I really hate to say that, but she's so clingy and particular about who is holding her and how they are holding her and on and on that it's just plain crazy to me.

But, still, nobody talks about my baby that way.

I get mad when they act annoyed and frustrated with her. They are with her all of one hour (if I can even make it to an hour before they come and get me, which I have only done once). I have been ignoring their passive aggressive comments that place blame on me (ie. She's so spoilt! Do you hold her all the time? She's never away from her mommy, that's why she cries so much. You need to bring her out more. Don't you exclusively breastfeed her?? (when I pull out formula) Does she sleep in a crib at night? What? She sleeps in your bed?? She's so spoilt!) And on and on.

One girl, upon hearing I use cloth diapers to reduce garbage, said, "Oh, are you one of those environmentally conscious people?"

???? Since when did that become a bad thing to taunt me and my baby with?!?!

But the final straw happened last Thursday. I came in to see how things were going and I saw the witchiest lady of them all dangling Stella with her arms wrapped around Stella's chest. Stella was, obviously, crying and the lady was rolling her eyes,  making this totally irritated, mocking sound in response to Stella's tears.

I finally flipped. I ran to her saying, "She's definitely not going to stop if you hold her and talk her like that!"
"What??" asked Witchy Witch.
"She's not going to stop if you hold her and talk to her like that!"

Witchy didn't like that. She began arguing that she had bouncing her back and forth between contraptions but she still wouldn't stop crying. "I can make every one of these kids stop crying, except for her!"

For a split second I didn't want to argue about it, but then I had a moment of clarity. I had to tell this bitchy know-it-all off.  Because that's what is really making me upset about going to the child minding. Everyone in there has an opinion about what I should or shouldn't be doing, and how I am doing all of those things wrong.

Newsflash. Everyone is doing everything wrong, all the damn time. Is my baby dead? No. Starving? No? Then we're ok. In fact, you're the one who can't get her to stop crying... when I hold her, watch her tears miraculously stop. Or not. Because that also happens all the time too.

So, in case you are in doubt, or are not sure about what you are doing wrong as a mother, father, or a potential parent, please follow this hilariously accurate chart that my friend Sarah just sent me:  

So, in case you are one of these judgy people, just stop. Stop all the judging of mother's out there (unless it's like a clear case of this person is a crappy parent). Everyone is trying to do their damn best and my suggestion is this: If you would do it differently, then do it! Do whatever the hell you want to do and stop judging me.

Thank you.

How to Find an Apartment in Toronto and Not Kill Yourself

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Sunday, March 17, 2013.
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  1. Find the apartment you like with ease (by checking multiple websites). 
  2. Call the landlord and schedule a time to see it. Weekends and evenings are normal and preferred visiting times.
  3. Decide you like the apartment and tell them you want to apply.
  4. Provide your SIN number so they can do a credit cheque, fill out an application (stating what you do), show some proof that you are working, give a cheque for the last month's rent as your deposit.
  5. Live in apartment. 
This is the way apartment renting SHOULD be. Please see my post about renting an apartment in Rio without killing yourself.

Sometimes I have to admit that I am super grateful we are in Canada. 

If you can't beat 'em, live there

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.

A lot of people tell me they are jealous of my adventurous spirit. I don't mean for that to sound cocky... it's just that that's what people say. I think most people who haven't done it think it's a glamorous lifestyle. In some ways they're right - travelling and living abroad obviously has it's appeal, otherwise why would people do it? There is the challenge and excitement it adds to the mundane-ness of everyday life. The downside, however, is that you never really feel completely at home in any given place. Especially for those people who are divided by more than one country with family.

I spent a lot of time thinking about all the great things about Canada while I was living in Brazil. And now I still do the same thing, only I am thinking about Brazil. I really try to keep things in perspective - I know that there are several factors affecting my happiness at the moment. It's winter (that will never end); I live in my mom's house in the basement; I am not teaching English; I have a newborn baby and don't sleep a lot. Many things at the same time that make it difficult to look on the bright side of things.

But, the big difference is that, when we were in Brazil Ro always told me that if I wanted to go back, we could. I always said no, it's not time yet. I'm not ready to leave. I haven't finished what I needed to do (whatever that was). Well, here I obsessively think about going back to Brazil. I think about all the things I wished I were doing right now - teaching, yoga outside, running on Praia de Botafogo, going to the beach, looking at the Cristo, looking at mountains, walking everywhere, being close to a bigger family, spending time with friends in Brazil, speaking Portuguese, being challenged by daily life, eating pao na chapa, raising Stella there.

I think a lot about raising Stella there. Brazilians are definitely much more open and accepting of children as a part of society. They are not inconveniences, they are not just children. They are future adults, members of society. She would be a part of a bigger community of people who stop just to talk to you because you have a baby. She would speak Portuguese, for sure. She would also speak English, for sure. She would be raised in the Brazilian community and learn the art of modesty and of valuing belongings. She would also have an equally strong Canadian and English upbringing. I don't know how strong the Brazilian in her would come through living here. I don't know. That's the thing.

I just don't know. I have so many questions. There are so many 'what ifs'. What do I do? Can someone tell me what the right choice is? If we went back, we would have to do it right. We would bring our belongings instead of imagining we could somehow afford them there. We would have enough money for a down payment on a house, ideally. Knowing what we know now... we would do it differently. But I think it's what we want. I think it's what would make us happiest. How odd... I was so unhappy for so long in Brazil... things only shine clear once you're out of the situation, I guess. I see now that I finally beat Brazil, it didn't beat me. And once you beat it, it's hard to leave it... so you might as well just stay.

Top 10 Things I'm Grateful For Right Now

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
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Today has been a frustrating day. Stella woke up every 2 hours last night starting from the time I slept (midnight) until the time I finally got up (noon). There comes a time where sleep is futile and I should just get up instead of convincing myself I'll feel better after one more 'nap' (because night sleeping generally now consists of 3-5 'naps').

So, I could use this blogging opportunity to complain about how it just took me one hour to get Stella to sleep (after trying to put her down 3 times, and each time she woke up the second I removed my arms).

But I won't.

I really need to use this time to reflect on what I'm grateful for, under my current living circumstances.

  1. Baby spinach. I eat baby spinach at every single meal. How did I go three years without you, BS??
  2. My car. I've mentioned that I never ever thought I'd say that in my life, but I also didn't imagine I would be back living in my hometown, Suburbsville, where walking is impossible because 'blocks' are like, 20 minutes apart. So thank you, Car, for frequently allowing me to leave the house with Stella.
  3. My (soon-to-be) free gym membership. Discovered that if I volunteer 15 hours a month in the child-minding at my gym, I get a free membership for myself and Ro, plus free child-minding AND free tanning! Uhhh.... yes, please?!?!?
  4. My (soon-to-be) completed diploma in TESL. I love being back in school. I love teaching English. I love linguistics. I LOVE IPA transcription. I love being a giant nerd.
  5. The song "Afternoon Delight". Because it's on the radio right now and it's hilarious.
  6. When Stella sleeps or laughs. Over the course of a day, those are probably the biggest accomplishments... putting her to sleep especially.
  7. Rodrigo. All day. Every day. My dear husband gives me joy, makes me laugh, and takes care of me every single day. We have always said that we would never say "I can't live without you" kinds of phrases because they are too needy and dependant and we, of course, could physically live without each other. But there are no words to describe how much better my life is with him in it, and how deeply grateful I am for him. 
  8. I'm gonna go ahead and say when Stella sleeps again because it just deserves to be on here twice. Love my baby! And love her even more when she's sleeping.
  9. Cheap concert tickets. To bands that I like. I just discovered this amazing (Canadian) band and bought tix to their next show for $30... What!
  10. How sad is it that I'm running out of ideas. I'm going to repeat Rodrigo again for another reason. He is totally open-minded about everything, but at the same time grounds me when I start floating into crazy-idea-worlds. Any wild suggestion I make (especially about where we should live) he is always on board. Even if that suggestion is the Middle East (what!).  I love him.

Well, that wasn't my best list but it did make me feel better so tra-la-la. I will leave you with another video of the song that has stolen my heart the last few days. By the band mentioned above, they are covering another great Canadian artist.

I Have Flaps Where There Were No Flaps Before

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Friday, March 1, 2013.

So many people say that gaining weight in pregnancy is one of the hardest parts of pregnancy. There is a lot of anxiety and pressure around not gaining too much weight and then losing all the weight (a la every single celebrity) in an ungodly amount of time.

I wasn't AS concerned... truthfully I wanted to milk the opportunity to eat whatever I wanted, be served first, and act-a-pig without judgment. I think I wasn't worried though because, for some miraculous reason, I was gaining weight slowly. Until the last 2 months. Then I doubled what I had gained in the first 7 months. Ack! In total I gained about 50 lbs. Imagine 25 lbs in 2 months!

The hardest part is that I am an ex-fatty. I have spent so much of my adult life making sure the scale was going down... watching it go up and up and up is kind of a mind-f@#!

But, I also wasn't too worried because I was certain that after the baby was born, and I started breastfeeding, the pounds would just melt off! *Repeat in a magicianly-like manner* They would just melt off!

Blink blink. Why aren't they melting off??

Aww crap.

So as UNconcerned as I was about putting weight on, the hardest reality to face is the after baby weight that sticks around. My body has completely MORPHED into this weird blobby mass. My widened hips that seemed so charming during pregnancy are now just big ol' hips that don't fit into my pants and my new pregnancy breasts that were such a pleasant surprise at first have now grown two bra sizes and look more 'African Village' than 'Victoria Secret'.

All this body changed turned into a lot of whining, complaining, and staring in the mirror while lifting fatty parts of my body up (that were not there pre-pregnancy) and letting them flap down, obviously making a bad situation much worse.  Enough was enough! I decided to go back to the gym.

I started out with a once week "Baby and Me" class, where I could do a super low-impact workout but bring my baby into the class with me so she could cry and whine and nobody could complain and ask for a refund. It was a good start to get me moving again and to get my joints oiled up because they were feeling super super tight, especially my knees.

After a few weeks of that, however, I started to get bored and, truthfully, just wanted more. So I dragged my butt back to the company I used to work for, GoodLife. Let me tell you, GoodLife is a way better experience as a member than an employee. Not that it's bad as an employee, but I was grateful to be able to walk into the club and not worry about how my numbers were and how many more days until the end of the month and do I need to start harassing my family and friends for their banking information?

The other great thing is that this club has Child Minding, so I can bring Stella with me while I work out! No excuses!

So I'm on my way to a new (old) bod and I'm doing it the tried and true way. Diet and exercise. And not raspberry pills. (Anyone on my FB knows that it was recently hacked and sending out hundreds of random messages telling people I lost 15 lbs because I started taking some raspberry pill crap).

After about one week and the gym, I'm already feeling great except I can barely walk up or down the stairs, or sit on the couch, or move, or breathe. But that's how I know I did a good workout ;-)

Here's to me losing the last 20lbs!

Great Sleep? Try again...

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

First of all, against my best efforts to NOT turn this into a mom blog, it seems as though we're going in that direction... although I will continue to throw dashes of non-baby related material, it's kind of LITERALLY my whole entire life right now.


Ahh sweet sleep.

#1 thing I was not prepared for to the full degree I needed to be. Lack of sleep.

I compare my cute little sweetie pie baby to an angry terrorist who has taken me hostage and tortures me with lack of sleep until I break. Anyone who has a new baby can relate. Kudos to all the working parents out there too because...YOU DON'T SLEEP. Yeah, yeah, everyone says that but how little do you actually sleep?

Pre-baby we've all had those long, essay writing/exam studying/partying for a few days nights. But after about, let's say, 3 days you usually get to sleep a BIG ol' sleep. Not with the baby! Those sleepless nights (where you are waking up EVERY 1-3 hours to feed and change the crying baby) drag on for monnnnnths.

You literally feel like you are being tortured. Ro and I made a mutual decision that all things said during the middle of the night must be forgotten in the morning as they are all screamed said out of pure exhaustion and, frankly, delusion. 

Then, just when you think things are looking up (as we did - started sleeping stretches of 5 or 6 hours!) everything goes back to the beginning for no apparent reason. It took us 2 hours to put Stella to sleep last night! We did the whole bath/massage/book/snack routine and by 9:42pm she was happily fluttering her eyelids as I rocked and shushed her to Slubersville.

But the second I put her down she opened her big, dumb, beautiful eyes... which was funny because I could see her opening her eyes as big as they would go, moving her head around in the dark like a little bird. Then the crying started. So I picked her up and walked around with her some more... still loving and patient! But again, the minute I put her down (and she was totally sleeping) her eyelids flash open.

Fast forward two hours.  Not so loving any patient anymore. Angry and frustrated. We have been taking turns trying to settle her down and finally succeed. It's almost a fight of us against her and it's 50/50 on who will win.

Now, I'm reading this book called The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep which I think is confusing me. There are so many rules about how to train your baby to sleep. The single concept I find the most frustrating is that if your baby is very fussy and hard to put to sleep it could be because: a) bedtime is too early; b) bedtime is too late; c)something is bothering her; d)something else that you need to figure out.

Uh... last I checked I was a mother and not a baby psychic. How am I supposed to know what her 'natural' bedtime is??? And clearly something is bothering her... why the hell do you think I bought this book?? I need answers!

But I suppose that's one of the biggest parenting secrets... there are no answers. It took us two hours to put Stella to sleep last night and then she woke up about 3 hours later and wouldn't fall back asleep until I finally brought her into bed with me and let her suckle all night on my (now horribly sore) nipples. True story. Who knows what bug crawled into bed with her last night... My only hope is that it stays the hell out tonight!

I'll Rest When I'm Dead

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Friday, February 8, 2013. Filed under: ,
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I'm impressed with my newly acquired ability to super multi-task like a mutant. Right. I was always pretty good at this skill, but now I am like a crazy person, combating 2, 3, 4, 5 tasks at the very same time.

Yesterday, while trying to put Stella to bed (it only took 4 hours, I might add), I think I hit my pivotal moment, when my mom came down asking if I wanted some help, and found me shushing and bouncing a swaddled Stella, with a soother in my mouth AND pulling her swaddle blanket tight with my teeth like a wild animal (also I was desperately trying to watch a little Glee!) It was a sight. I had a moment of clarity that I was crazy and should just relax a little. But then Stella screamed louder than a vacuum in my ear and I realized THAT was the crazy thought.

That's the thing with the babies... you start to realize that as soon as you have a window of opportunity (ie. Stella sleeps for a minute) you need to get as many tasks done as humanly possible, because god forbid she has a bad day and she is scared awake after a minute by her own flapping hand hitting her in the face. A good day is when my tight straight jacket swaddle keeps her hands tight down for at least 45 minutes.

**Side Note: How do babies sleep the way they do?? They are a mess of flailing limbs, especially during their REM phases of sleep. Right now, Stella is sleeping beside me, but she is kicking me and hitting me (and herself) and writhing around and grunting... I am trying to write as fast as possible because I know, any minute now, she's going to punch herself awake. **

So, now I've become this super task-oriented person, running around the second Stella sleeps to do any number of tasks that are impossible to do while she's awake. Laundry, folding laundry, putting dishes away, eating lunch, taking a shower, brushing my teeth, HAVING A DRINK OF WATER... God forbid I leave her side for a nanosecond to re-hydrate my body! She pulls out the big guns when I do, her nuclear weapon of sound.

Yesterday, something happened and Stella slept for two and a half hours. In fact, I kept going down to check on her for breathing because this was just not normal. Reassured by her breathing and seeing that she was still tied up swaddled, I decided NOT to do anything and to actually sit down and watch a lot of episodes of Girls (ps awesome awesome show).

I watched 7 episodes. Gasp. (PS. Please ignore how horribly lazy that sounds)

Laziness aside, it was glorious to just sit down and rest for a minute. I knew somewhere in the future I would have to pay for it but wasn't too interested at that moment. It was sweet to just eat a huge bag of chips without worrying about dropping crumbs all over Stella (probably waking her up from the crumb shower).

She slept so long, in fact, that Ro came home and WE woke HER up. Karma's a bitch, isn't it, Baby!

But, why would I even think that? Obviously, I am karma's bitch. And I was appropriately served when hours later, at bed time, I was frantically shushing, bouncing (trying to honestly control myself not to squeeze her out of frustration), pulling that swaddle tight with my teeth for the fourth straight hour. Message received. I will never rest again.

Dating My Baby

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Sunday, January 27, 2013. Filed under: , ,

During my time in Brazil, I wrote several times about dating myself. Ro was working ALL the time, and terrible hours, so if I wanted to be wined and dined, I had to do it (to) myself. Dating myself was something I became comfortable with. I'm a cheap date and I make good conversation (side note: I probably looked crazy making good conversation with myself... but I digress).

So, now that Stella is being less of a perfectly normal newborn baby crazy, I can finally get up, get showered and take her out of the house! It still only happens after 12 noon, but whatever. I have moved away from dating myself and I am now onto dating my baby.

The last two weeks have been particularly productive and, dare I say, fun! We went to the mall twice, went to our aerobics class twice, went to a doctor's appointment and on Wednesday we went to the movies! There is a special event here called Stars and Strollers where you can go see a regular, adult movie but you can bring your young children and strollers.

It's AWESOME. There were 3 other small babies there plus us, an elderly couple and a young couple who clearly thought they were going to see a normal matinee of Les Miserables. Haha, sorry dummies! 

Seeing as there are so few people, and it's a movie especially for parents and their babes, the normal movie-going etiquette is totally non-existent. I got there, parked my stroller and proceeded to take up 3 seats with my jacket, blankets, purse, baby bag, hat/coats/mitts, plus my popcorn and oh yeah, MY BABY.

Right off the bat one of the babies started crying. Did anyone bat an eye? NO! No annoyed staring. No loud, exasperated sighing, you know the kind... big exaggerated inhale and the loudest, slowest exhale you can manage without passing out, believing you are making your annoyed point. Nobody even paid attention. It was totally acceptable to stand up when Stella started getting fussy (of course it was at a REALLY critical moment in the movie...). But when I looked around me I saw two of the other moms also standing right in the rows just rocking with their babies. I fed her multiple times and even changed her as they had set up a changing pad right outside the door of the theatre. In one word - AMAZING. I had a great time and ps Les Mis is so good and I cried so many times... (keep in mind I have never seen the live production so that may affect my opinion).

So, here's hoping for another equally as fun week of dating my baby... I'm kinda starting to like her ;-)

Getting My Life Back

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.
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I've mentioned before that I've never had this 'maternal instinct' that many women have. I've never dreamed of babies and staying at home - in fact, for a while this was kind of my idea of hell. No offence to my baby! But seriously... staying at home, for an A-Type, Working-Girl personality like me, was really unappealing. 

But nevertheless, here we are. I am no longer the breadwinner, or even A breadwinner (aside from the taste testing and focus groups I now do to bring in an extra $20). This has been SUPER challenging for me. Add to it that it's currently -15C without the windchill... oh, and I live in crappy Suburbsville. I am feeling so isolated.

Yes, I am contributing to my family by raising my daughter. I'm not suggesting this is a small accomplishment because, trust me, it's not. It's just that sometimes it can get a little boring and repetitive. Cry-Change-Feed-Sleep-Cry-Change-Feed-Sleep... that's what we do (for now at least).  I schedule doctor's appointments just to have reasons to get out of the house.

So I joined a mama/baby aerobics class at a Recreation Centre (something I love having back again - affordable, varied types of recreation all under one roof). Today was our second class and I am starting to realize that Stella gets just as bored as I do being locked up inside the house all day (and in the basement to boot). At home she cries. A lot. Outside, though, she is magically entranced by the lights, sounds, voices, faces. I was able to lay her on an exercise mat for the whole HOUR of the class while I got my fitness on. She was pretty amused by me just dancing around her... and I was SO grateful that she let me have that time for myself. I'll totally act-a-fool and make funny faces to entertain her if she'll let me have that hour to sweat it out. Noooo question!

Later on, in the ladies' locker room, I chat it up with all the Italian senhoras who love babies and conversation. I breastfeed her and they are not shy to come up and touch her face, even brushing my breast as they do. They are comfortable with this. And because I have lived in Brazil, the land of no-modesty and familiarity, I am not embarassed by this either nor do I even find it strange. In fact, it's familiar, and I love it.

Today was lovely, with my baby and my 70 year old Italian senhoras. I would like some more, please.

Rule #1: Don't Shake Your Baby

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Thursday, January 3, 2013.

Stella is 2 months old as of yesterday. This is probably the first minute I've had to sit down and write a blog since the LAST time I wrote one, which was 5 weeks ago. And I only have time now because I'm avoiding unloading the dishwasher. Yes, I have one of THOSE now... and trust me, I miss the simplicity of dish-washing by hand. Simplicity of life, obviously. Dishwashers are definitely faster.

So, in the last 5 weeks I've learned a lot. I've learned how to make my baby stop crying, probably my biggest accomplishment in life, thus far! Yes, I did get a degree. Yes, I did give birth. But finally making your insane crying baby stop crying (after 2 months of non-stop day and night crying!!!!!)... beats all of them by a million times. I give all the credit to THIS BOOK, The Happiest Baby on the Block. From the minute I bought it in the middle of the night during a particularly desperate crying fit (I was included in that one), it has helped us put Stella to sleep. It helps us calm her down, when she can't calm herself down (which is most of the time).

I'm going to assume that she will be a passionate child, full of big emotion and expression. But for now, she just cries... the most demanding, needy sound you have ever heard. I would honestly prefer to listen to a jackhammer all day. At least a jackhammer doesn't need me to feed it 20 times a day. At least it lets me take a shower.

The cry doesn't start slowly, either. It goes from zero to someone is murdering my own mother right in front of me!!! It's INTENSE. I'll be honest. It makes me want to shake my baby. I realize now why that is the #1 rule of things not to do! It seems so obvious! Don't kill your own baby? Why would I...?- OH! Now I see.

On the amazing side (and yes there IS an amazing side... why would anyone do this if there wasn't something equally as awesome as there is horrible), I am witnessing human development from the first moment of life. It's fascinating. Babies are little geniuses, by the speed that they develop.

I am super interested in the language aspect of her growth. She speaks her own language of grunts and coos, trying to express herself in other ways than just crying. It's very cool. We want to teach her as much about language as possible - I can't believe she will have the opportunity to speak two languages fluently. It's brilliant. The same way we, as adults, are moved to tears I can see that she is moved to happiness. She can be crying one minute and as soon as her need is met she is all smiles and laughs and flirtatious eyes. Her smile is so genuine. Her moves to happiness move me to tears!

Yesterday we witnessed her holding her head up for several minutes while on her tummy before she became exhausted and slowly lay down. Amazing! Something we take for granted, being able to hold our own heads up and not relying on someone else to hold them for us.

Little baby is waking up now so my few minutes alone are over... I will leave you with this little video to watch of Stella holding her up head up for one of the first times. Hope my next free moment is less than 5 weeks from now...