27.1.17

goodbye, oreo

Since our cat Oreo was such a big part of my blog when I was updating it more regularly, I felt as though I should write something in honour of her. If you follow me on social media you will know that she passed away on Monday. She was really quite ill, although her illness came on quickly. We had a mobile vet come over and it was all very peaceful and respectful, with the (amazing) vet saying a little prayer as she injected the euthanizing agent. Oreo hadn’t been herself in a while, and she was about 14 or 15, so I thought it would be easier to say goodbye. It’s been wretched. She was a part of my life and Geoff’s life for 12 years, and there through so many of the most significant events of my life: moving in with one of my best friends, Annie, into the cutest and shabbiest apartment in the Annex; moving in with Geoff for the first time; getting married; having Luca. In the end she had lost a lot of weight, had a tumor in her mouth, and she was blind. Continued treatment might have bought her some time, but her quality of life would have suffered. Forever the food lover, she still managed to have a good-sized meal before she went.


Annie adopted Oreo from the Toronto Humane Society in 2004. Oreo had been there for almost two months, looked over. I found the document Annie was given that was filled out by her original owners; she was born in 2001 and was surrendered because they were moving. Oreo moved to new  apartments once with Annie and twice with us. We were originally going to look after Oreo as Annie got settled in New York City, but she became our cat.

Before I met Oreo, I thought of myself as a dog person. She was my little shadow, following me from room to room. She was quiet in her affections, but always a comfort to have around in difficult times. When I was hospitalized in 2014, I wanted someone to sneak her in for a visit and morale-boost. I didn’t know how much I would miss her presence. I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye, I still sleep with my knees bent to accommodate her at the foot of the bed, and I still reach out my foot to see if she’s there. I keep expecting to hear one of her sneezes or funny little sounds that we called trumpets. I still say (like a dork) “We’re going home to kittens!” until I remember that there is only one now. When Luca came home for the first time she kept her distance, but occasionally came over to lie next to him. I worried about this, but it was always fine. I wanted him to know her as he got older. I got her paw prints in the mail yesterday, sent by the vet, and while it was the most thoughtful gesture, I definitely sobbed when I saw them. She and Pony were never friends, but Pony has stepped up the leg-rub game.

I am a little rusty in the meditation department but I have tried a golden cord meditation to try to tell her how sorry I am. Goodbye, original dream cat. I love you.

25.1.17

this is my happy: the happy baby carrier

I recently said that while Geoff has his thing that he spends money on (plants), I have mine, and that thing is baby carriers. I never thought I would get... addicted (?) to them, but I kind of am! I have already written about how I find them absolutely essential in the city (or otherwise!), but I also love having different styles on hand to suit my mood, or the situation.

Shortly around the holidays, Happy Baby released their linen soft structured carriers, and it was love at first sight for me. I was able to take advantage of an amazing Black Friday deal to try out the carrier in Charcoal, although I later couldn’t resist the carrier in Flax as well (a classic natural neutral). Linen is one of my absolute favourite fabrics ever, so this was very exciting.


What I love about this carrier is that it is so minimal in appearance but also in design; you can carry an infant in it without an insert, and there is a small hood that is tucked away in a pocket at the front. It’s incredibly lightweight, and because it’s made of linen, it will soften up with time. It is really unlike any other carrier I have tried! It can be used from newborn to 45 pounds. Luca is about 17 pounds at the moment and I carried him around the Royal Botanical Gardens for about an hour with no pain (and I am prone to back pain).

I feel like it is definitely one of the more stylish carriers around (when so many of them can look a little... granola), and it comes in so many amazing colours. I don’t need another but I have been admiring that marigold for ages! They’re also handmade in the USA, which is nice, and they have AMAZING customer service.


The images below are from Happy Baby. Ooh I just love that Charcoal!





16.1.17

keeping cozy with maxi-cosi

*This is a sponsored post in partnership with Maxi-Cosi Canada. All opinions are my own.


One of the first items we chose for Luca was his infant car seat. We knew how important it was for him to be not only safe, but also comfortable, and we also knew the hospital wouldn’t let us take him home without one! Luckily we made a great choice in the Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30. I’ll be giving one away on Instagram soon, so look out for that!




This seat is wonderful: it’s much lighter than many other seats (just over 8 pounds without the base, which stays in the car anyhow!), and after purchasing the proper adapters, it clips right into our Bugaboo Cameleon or many other popular strollers, which is convenient since Luca tends to fall asleep in the car. It also happens to be a seriously adorable seat! When I saw the fabric on this Sparkling Grey model (a Snugglebugz exclusive), which is grey with tiny white polka dots, I was thrilled to see how cute it is. The fabric is also easy to remove and is machine washable. The seat is beautifully designed with a comfortable and ergonomic handle, gets high safety ratings, is easy to install with one-click UAS, and, importantly, fits in our car, which is a not-overly-large Honda Civic LX sedan. It also is one of the snuggliest seats out there: there is extra padding around the head, as well as an insert, which is very comforting to newborns. With some seats you have to add receiving blankets around the head for an appropriate fit, but not with Maxi-Cosi seats.


Bringing Luca home was such an emotional experience, of course. I remember when Geoff left our hospital room to get the car seat: I was so nervous but I couldn’t wait to get Luca home and give him a little tour of our apartment. We had the car seat installed professionally and had a lesson on how to use it a few weeks before, but the idea that we were leaving the security of the hospital with this tiny baby was overwhelming. I’ll never forget how it felt to see Geoff carrying the seat in the elevator, and I still have a photo on my phone of a teeny tiny baby sleeping in it (I felt so lucky that he fell asleep on the drive!). I had had a c-section so I wasn’t able to lift anything heavier than my tiny baby, but to be honest those first six weeks are such a blur. I look back at photos and think, how could I have had such a small baby? I also remember the panic I felt any time we went out with him: will he have a meltdown that will cause us to turn back around? It’s amazing to think of how much more confident I am now, and how he has grown into such a good sport as I drag him all around town in his car seat. I really love this seat! We may not have a luxury car but Luca sure has a luxury ride.



12.1.17

#forbetterbeginnings with playtexbaby

Today I’m happy to announce a new partnership with PlaytexBaby. Over the next few months, I’ll be trying out some Playtex Baby products, including the ever-classic Diaper Genie, and giving you my honest opinion about how they have worked out for me. This partnership means that I am now a “PlaytexMom,” and honestly, as someone who has spent many years yearning to be a mom at all, I’m excited to be a member of this group!


Luca takes a Sipster Stage 1 for a spin; the PlaytexBaby Diaper Genie Elite at home in our nursery

PlaytexBaby is committed to the idea of “For Better Beginnings,” and for me, that means making the best possible choices for Luca. Babies need so little to thrive in the first few months, beyond food and love, but carefully selecting products to help with everyday needs is also important to me. The first time I ever walked into a baby store to start looking at what was available, I was so overwhelmed, I cried. I reacted so badly that my mom didn’t want to go shopping with me again (whoops!). It’s just so much easier when you can rely on a trusted brand’s products, and PlaytexBaby has been around for over 50 years, responding to the ever-changing needs of moms and babies as we learn more about development and growth.

I’m looking forward to sharing more with you soon!

14.12.16

toy-guided with today's parent

The world of children’s toys is something that is completely new to me. I don’t usually buy toys as gifts, other than maybe a precious wooden car or teether meant more for the parents, usually! Of course, I’ve seen the updates of classic Fisher Price toys that I remember from my own childhood, but otherwise, my first forays into toy stores looking for toys for Luca have been bewildering. I don’t want to overdo it, and fill our home with dozens of toys that are loud and bright and all primary-coloured, but I do want to choose a few toys that will be good for his development and amusement. We spend a lot of time looking at books, but I like having toys that can help with his motor development as well, for example. But it can be daunting at the start.



I was pleased when the Today's Parent 2016 toy guide came along. It breaks down all the best toys of the year into age groups (baby and toddler, preschool, little kid, big kid), after hundreds of toys were tested by actual kids in those groups. It’s as though I get to pick the brains of all the parents I know on what toys worked for their children. So helpful! I got some amazing ideas for Luca as well as a few that I will file away for the future. Check it out here!



12.12.16

gift guiding with chatelaine and today's parent

It’s no secret that I love Christmas, and the holiday season in general, especially now that I have a tiny one to celebrate with. He might be too little to remember this Christmas in the future, but I’m hoping to start new traditions that he’ll be able to carry with him. One of my favourite memories from my childhood was of driving to various family friends’ houses with my dad on Christmas Eve, distributing presents. Now that I’m an adult I realize they were probably very simple gifts (boxes of chocolate, bottles of wine), and maybe we didn’t visit as many friends as I think we did, but the memory is still pure magic. Just as when I would look out the window hoping to see Santa up in the sky.


I know that some of the more commercial aspects of Christmas are not so wonderful, but I honestly love picking out gifts for my loved ones. This year I’ve been having a little trouble with a few family members (bought my brother something he already had last year and I didn’t keep the receipt, so my gift-giving morale went way down). Also, since so much of my time is spent looking after Luca, I don’t have the luxury of spending time shopping. I’ve been consulting gift guides, specifically those by Chatelaine magazine and Today’s Parent. They both feature 100 gifts for under $100, from a variety of Canadian retailers, and also sites such as Etsy. I’ve gotten some great ideas from them!



The guides are available online (links above) and in the December issues of the print versions.


In keeping with the Christmas feeling, I made a playlist of some of my favourite songs. It’s supposedly to play while trimming a tree or wrapping presents, but, um, I’ve been listening to it non-stop (yes, I actually love “Wonderful Christmastime”). Boney M, multiple versions of “O Holy Night”... what am I forgetting?


28.11.16

des enfantillages

Yesterday Geoff and I went to the One of a Kind Show and the very first booth we encountered was for Montreal’s Des Enfantillages. I was already familiar with their work because I had ordered their amazing balancing game from Garmentory a while ago, so it was fun to see all their products at once. Des Enfantillages makes cheeky products for kids out of wood, with sleek designs and punchy colours. Everything is handmade by the owners, Geneviève Lugaz and Christian Laforge.

We couldn’t resist picking up a puzzle for Luca even though he won’t be able to use it for a while. It’s nice enough to display in an adult’s room, I think!









22.11.16

repository pt. 14: my new baby essentials

So I have only been at this motherhood thing for slightly over four months, but I’m finally starting to feel a little more confident. A little! There’s a new challenge every day, of course, but so far it’s been as magical and wondrous as I had hoped. It’s so amazing to watch this little person grow and to see his personality start to shine.

I thought I would round up a few of the products that I have found to be helpful: some are just plain pretty, but some have been revelations! Incidentally, nearly all of my money goes to baby things these days. Also, the fact that I spend hours trapped under a baby, unable to do much other than use my phone, means there have been a few too many late night online shopping sessions. And maybe a fair amount of emotional shopping (is that what you would call it?).

Incidentally this post took me just about forever.

Baby carriers: Carrying Luca has been one of the greatest joys of the past few months. I love having him snuggled up against me, and now that it’s gotten colder, we help keep each other warm! When he was a newborn he resisted being carried (at least until we got him outside into the fresh air, which seemed to calm him), but now that he can hold his head up and look around, he seems pretty content in there. We love different styles, from the Ergobaby (a soft structured carrier that has a lot of back support—Geoff loves this one too), to the Solly Baby Wrap (a stretchy wrap made of jersey), to the Wildbird linen or chambray ring sling (I find this one a little challenging to use because I have a so-called seat-popper of a baby!). Now that he is over 15 pounds we’ll probably use the Ergobaby carrier the most (we have the 360 because we have a baby who wants to look at the world rather than snuggle against my chest all the time), or try out a double linen ring sling, although I’m still trying to use the Solly as much as possible! In my experience having a carrier is essential in a city, because sometimes you can’t take a stroller on public transportation (no elevators in the subway, you don’t want to get dirty looks on a crowded bus even though that’s not your problem, or you live in a city like Toronto that weirdly uses streetcars that have stairs and are therefore impossible for strollers, the elderly, anyone with a disability...).

Marpac Dohm white noise machine: Luca kept falling asleep outside the doctor’s office, where one of these would be whirring. He is quite sleep-resistant but this seems to help. It has an actual fan inside; it’s not canned sound (sometimes the repetition of sounds can annoy some people!).

Nursing wear by Loyal Hana: I thought buying maternity clothes was bad enough, but nursing is even more challenging! So many of my button-downs no longer actually button down at the chest, and while at home I’m fine with just pulling up whatever I happen to be wearing, I’m not so easy breezy in public. These tops and dresses have zippers at each side which makes them so convenient and also discreet.

Booker Vest by B & Me: When carrying baby, I’ve been using this fleece vest under my coat and over the carrier or wrap, and it’s kept us nice and toasty. I was worried that I would have to stop wearing him in the cold but so far this has worked so well. It’s also one of the cuter options out there!


Bashful Bunny Grabber by Jellycat: Luca received this super soft rattle as a gift and I like it because it was one of the first toys he was able to grasp and hold and wave around. I didn’t even realize babies couldn’t grasp toys right from birth, ha!

Pom Pom Bin by Petit Pehr: I have a couple of these and they look so pretty in the nursery. I also have one that I keep a few board books and toys in so I can carry them easily from room to room. A little baby entertainment kit.

WaterWipes: I have been having a hard time finding wipes I like. At home we use washcloths with warm water, but when we go out, that isn’t so convenient. These wipes, which only contain water and a drop of grapeseed extract, aren’t perfect (the package is heavy, I’ve seen complaints about mould since they don’t contain preservatives, they’re relatively expensive), and they’re not biodegradable, but so far I haven’t had any issues and they have worked well! (I also like Aleva Bamboo Baby wipes, which are biodegradable.)

Nest by Native Wilds: This is a multi-purpose item that can be used as a car seat cover (especially handy on really sunny days), nursing cover, and shopping cart cover. It’s made of the softest fabric (from sustainably grown eucalyptus trees) and comes in a variety of prints. I keep one in my diaper bag always!

Clothing from Mini Mioche: I love everything from this local designer. No plastic tags that irritate baby’s sensitive skin, unisex, comfortable, and oh so cute!


Art Cards for Baby by Wee Gallery: We have a couple of sets of these high-contrast animal flash cards and Luca LOVES them. We keep him on his changing table and they make really good distractions. In fact he has tried to fish them out of their boxes on his own! I once strapped him in and ran to the kitchen to get something, and when I got back he was holding a full box of the cards. He just really loves looking at them and talking to them (although lately he’s more about shoving them in his mouth).  

Bugaboo Cameleon3: I know it’s a fairly expensive one, but I adore this stroller. It handles so well, it’s beautifully designed, and now that we’ve taken the bassinet off and put on the regular seat, it’s become a nap machine (I didn’t think stroller naps were a thing for us, but it turns out that Luca just didn’t want to lie on his back). I honestly can’t say enough good things about it! When we have him in there with his wool seat liner or high performance footmuff on, I get kind of jealous and wish I could be wheeled around in it. So cozy.

Bandana bibs from Aden & Anais: These are great for soaking up all that baby drool. Yum.

Cloth books: Cloth books, especially ones that crinkle, can amuse Luca for quite a long time, which is so handy when I’m trying to make dinner. It is really the cutest thing. He has a few that he received as gifts from wise parents of older children, including I am a Bunny.

Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water: A really miraculous tip we received was to dip a pacifier in gripe water. I was skeptical, but this move has saved us from meltdowns many times. I don’t know what’s in it (I’ve heard it referred to as baby gingerale) but it calms him down immediately. I have to order this organic brand from the US but it’s our favourite. I carry a bottle of it with me whenever I leave the house, although I don’t seem to need it as much as I did when he was teeny tiny.

Skip Hop Grab & Go Stroller Organizer: I used to see these on strollers all the time and never saw the need, but then once I was out using a stroller regularly I saw how useful it is! It keeps all the tiny essential things handy, like my phone and some small toys.

15.11.16

to do, to done


For the past little while, the state of my car has been driving me crazy, frankly. I cleaned it thoroughly the week before Luca was born, but haven’t been able to get so much as a quick car wash in the past four months. Even though I only use my car a few times a week at most, my hair has been falling out and it was getting all over the mats, not to mention the everyday dirt that was piling up. Every time the sun hit the dashboard, all I could see was the dust on it (and the road ahead, of course!).


A little while ago I was given the chance to test out a new app called Just Got That!, and I jumped at the chance. The app connects you to various services in your area, from house cleaning to hair cuts to oil changes, which you can book directly through the app. I am a heavy app user, using apps for everything from tracking sleep to meditations to ordering food, so this is perfect for me. I would rather book a service over an app than over the phone any day! I was thrilled to see a detailing service on the app, Detailing Knights, especially because it’s a service that comes to you. A mobile car cleaning service: basically angels for those of us who struggle to wash our hair or chop onions for dinner. So I tapped my phone a few times and boom: shortly afterwards my car was so, so clean, from the mats to the inside of the trunk.

I could not be more thrilled with this experience and with my newly spotless dashboard.



If you would like to give JustGotThat! a chance, download the app here on Google Play or here in the iTunes store and use my promo code “fieldguided” for 10 JustGotBucks!

11.11.16

you care too much


Earlier this year, my friend Erin Klassen (you may remember her from her book Portraits) asked if I would be willing to write a piece for a new book project she had started about self-care. I was quite flattered to be asked, and since I haven't done any “real” writing in years and years and years, it sounded like a good challenge. I know that the term “self care” has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but the way Erin presented her feelings on the subject was compelling in that she wanted us to examine what happens after trauma:

As women, I think we often learn about how to care for ourselves when we've been through trauma of some kind — whether emotional or physical, trauma can be big or small. Sometimes things need to get dramatic, or we need to feel our lowest before we truly understand our needs. Women give so much to others naturally. We are communicators, feelers, connectors, networkers, problem-solvers and caregivers. We are champions and counsellors for our friends, family, lovers. Read this amazing article for more about women + emotional labor. We want to have everything, often at the risk of ignoring our capacity to take more on... and then what happens? Burnout. Frustration. Disappointment. Depression. In those moments, if we're self-aware, we do the things we need to in order to recharge so we can get back to fulfilling our role as emotional laborer. That's called self care. From my perspective the interesting part of this topic is in the “trauma” that leads women to discover their needs and personal definition of self-care. That doesn't look like a list of stuff you do to feel better, like take a bath or drink more water, it looks much more complex and varied. It looks messy. This topic should address the vulnerability that leads us to finding inner strength.

She had read the post I had written here years ago about my first miscarriage, and knew a little more about my situation from our conversations, and asked if I would be willing to write about it. It had been something I had been meaning to address in writing, whether for myself or for a wider audience, so this seemed like a good chance. And so I have a piece in here about my year of recurrent miscarriages, what to do when your own therapist tells you you like to feel sorry for yourself, and how I managed to find a sense of safety and peace in the 12+ months of my life that felt frantic and lonely. It was incredibly painful to write; I recall an email to Erin in which I wrote WRITING IS HARD. I also finished writing it in the month or so after Luca was born, when my emotions could not have been more raw and when I burst into sobs at the slightest provocation.

The book, You Care Too Much, is here, and I am so proud to have been a part of it. Erin is a phenomenal editor and she has assembled quite an amazing team of writers and artists: Tallulah Fontaine, Winnie Truong, Brooke Manning, Angela Lewis, Jessika Hepburn, Leah Horlick, Vicky Lam, Jen Spinner, Christina Yan, Adina Tarralik Duffy, Kathryn Bondy, Erin Klassen herself, Sofia Mostaghimi, Nada Alic, Naomi Moyer, and Mo Handahu.

The book, which will be released on November 16, is available for pre-order here, and if you live in Toronto, there will be a launch party at The Steady on November 23. Information here.