Tuesday, December 15, 2009

there's just something about tags

Parents often make mistakes when selecting toys for their children. They look for bright colours, cutes faces and funny sounds.

But the most important part of a toy is how it tastes and feels in the mouth.

And the second most important part is the tag. Nothing beats a nice long tag. Really good toys even have several of them.

Miya takes her tag play very seriously and puts a lot of concentration in it. She usually holds the toy in her left hand while the fingers on her right hand grasp, tug, flip and twist the tag.

After a few minutes of this the tag is usually brought to the mouth for the compulsory taste-check. Then it is tossed to side the search for the next tag begins.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

so this is love

When Miya was first born I didn't feel love for her, at least not in the way that I had ever felt love for someone before. What I did feel was fiercely protective and absolutely amazed. I marveled at her and everything she did, from her tiny sneezes to the strong grip in her little fingers. I even marveled that she was breathing.

And while it may not have felt like love, I have never been so able or willing to sacrifice myself for someone before. In the first few weeks breastfeeding was difficult; my breasts were raw and bleeding. Each time she fed I gritted my teeth and curled my toes with pain. But she wanted my breast and I wanted to give it to her. When she couldn't settle I walked countless circles in our house, holding her little body in my arms as I sang to comfort and soothe her. When she would cry in the night, no matter what the hour or how tired I was, I responded to her.

Most of the people in my life whom I love, I love by choice. With my daughter, there is no choice. I have been committed to her since the first time I heard her heart beating inside me. With other people I wait to see if we will get along. But Miya and I get along, not always smoothly and not always without misunderstandings. But from dawn to dusk to broken nights, we get along together, moving in a dance that I am only just learning the steps for.

I don't love her for what she says or does. Yet at the same time I love the little sounds she makes, the way she experiments with her voice. And I love the little things she does - the way she chews on her toes when lying on the change table, the way she presses her cheek against mine when I pick her up after a nap, the way she tilts back her head to look up and me and give me a gummy grin...

I have never loved like this before. Because I do, because I can, and because I will, I feel so incredibly grateful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You are what you eat

Miya is working on a new look. It involves mixing a bit of cereal with some fruit or vegetable and then applying liberally to the face, hair, neck, hands and arms. For an extra flair she will sometimes dab it on her eyelashes. Who needs mascara when you have sweet potatoes?

Miya is also happy to share her fashionable accessories with our cats. It did not take long for Bogey and Bacall to realize that by hanging out under the high chair at mealtimes they get drops of cereal and the occasional spoon to lick. They also often come away sporting Miya's style with gobs of cereal on their fur and whiskers.

Thus far Miya has been generally preventing from taking her fashion to the streets as her outmoded mother usually wipes away each application before taking her daughter outside. But if you look closely you can usually find traces (hint: check behind the ears).

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

teddybear ears

The problem with not being able to dress yourself is that other people get to choose your clothes for you.

Miya has the additional indignity of having a mother who also likes to knit for her.

So it is that as the weather turns colder, Miya finds herself being carted outside with shoes that make her feet look humongous (her mother says she'll grow into them) and a hat that gives her teddybear ears.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

finally a real meal!

Miya's been working hard to convince her parents she's ready to spice up her diet. Sure, breastmilk is great, but a little variety from time to time would be nice.

To prove her intent, she's been reaching for their food and grabbing at coffee mugs, glasses of water, spoons, ... anything to get the message across that this baby is ready to mix things up a bit.

So finally they gave in and on Oct 17th let her try some rice cereal.

First her mom put a little on her finger to see how the taste would be received.

"More!" Miya bellowed. And com'on, give me a real bite.

Now that's more like it! Something I can really sink my gums into.

You know, this stuff is pretty good!

Now what's for dessert?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

trip to Saskatoon

In September, Miya took her first plane trip - flying from Ottawa to Saskatoon. She was rather concerned about hurtling through thin air in a metal tube miles above ground, but soon resigned herself to the new state of affairs, especially when she realized that no matter the altitude, she could still nurse.

She met her 100 year-old Great-Grandma - a beautiful woman and whiz at Scrabble.

Got reacquainted with her doting Grandma - who gave her clothes and toys and lots of cuddles.

Hung out with her Auntie who introduced her to philosopher puppets.

And even met her little cousin - who very gently, and proudly, held her on his lap.

A few short days later was in the Saskatoon Airport waiting to catch a flight back home. What a busy week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

jolly jumping

Sure, walking would be fun. But there are still a few balance issues to iron out. So in the meantime...
Miya points out that jumping can be pretty swell.

You get to be upright without having to worry about falling over.
You can stomp your feet and kick around.

You can even spin in circles.

This really is something to celebrate.

Miya thinks she could do this for hours...

Until she realizes that no matter how much she kicks and steps, she always ends up in the same spot.

And that can be a bit of a drag.

Monday, August 31, 2009

playdates in the park

To her father's chagrin, Miya has decided she is old enough to date. She's even seeing an older boy (well, older by a week). They were spotted last week in a local park, sharing a blanket under the trees. They tried to hide under their big hats, but we knew.

Miya has admitted though that this relationship is not without its challenges. While she is eager to engage her young friend in conversation, he is easily distracted by toys and generally does not respond.

Additionally, Miya noted they find it embarrasing to always have to bring their mothers along, seeing as they are not quite ambulatory yet.

So sometimes, even when on a date, Miya chooses to spend some time just by herself, hanging out in the swing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

finger play

So many toys designed for babies! This neighbourhood is lousy with baby boutiques and they all have adorable little toys for babies and children - fluffy, noisy, wooden, plastic, knitted, woven... infinite choices.

But Miya isn't buying it.

Sure bouncy tulip man makes lying on the change table a lot more fun. And Sophie can be entertaining, for a few minutes.
But Miya would generally rather talk at her toys than play with them.

And besides, the best things to play with - and certainly the most fun to put in her mouth - are her fingers.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

household disruptions

When we bought our house in 2006 we were assured the basement never leaked. But this spring, when we began taking the fake-wood paneling and Styrofoam insulation off the walls, we found some moisture. It wasn't pouring in, but the walls were definitely damp.
So we brought in some foundation repair contractors to take a look. Most of them told us the same thing - we'd need to excavate the exterior and wrap the foundation in a moisture barrier. Turns out our house was built before such things were required.
This in itself was a big, and expensive, proposal. But since we plan to finish the basement it seemed foolish to frame walls which we knew were damaged. We felt we had little choice but to bite the bullet and sign up to get our two walls excavated and covered.
We went with a company that came recommended - I'll call them Mr. F.
After they dug up about 40 feet around our north-west corner, the company said we had bigger issues than simple moisture leakage. What looks to us like a small gap in the mortar is to them a problem requiring the removal and repair of 15 feet of foundation.
The result is that for almost four months we've had a pit around our house. Mr. F. dithers and stalls - waiting for various engineering reports, crew availability etc. And we're been locked into a contract that doubled from its initial quote.
It's been an exceptionally rainy summer - which understandably slows construction work. But this has also led to a very wet basement here as water leaks in under the foundation and through the exposed cinder-block wall.

And if the pit around our house wasn't enough of a disruption, at the end of July we got robbed. Someone broke into our house and took most of our electronics - computers, recorders, camera, cds and a few other things. They ransacked the bedroom dressers and the dining room buffet, but luckily didn't spend much time looking elsewhere.
Oddly, the also stole one of our cloth diapers and the dirty diaper bag.

So while having a baby is in and of itself quite a significant disruption to a home - we've been given a few extra. But perhaps it's the maternal hormones racing around my body that help keep things in perspective - we're ok, our daughter is healthy and happy. That's what really matters. The rest is just inconvenience.

Friday, July 24, 2009

our baby's Baby Bjorn

Since becoming rather constrained in the wrap, Miya is stepping out in a new style.

Kindly passed on to us from another family, the Baby Bjorn is perfect for Miya's 3 month size.

She loves that she can look around - and often gives beaming smiles to people she meets. She also seems to like that the cloth is just the right height to gum on - yum, yum, nothing beats the taste of a Baby Bjorn.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

walking in Westboro

Nearly everyday I take my daughter for a walk. For her first month, I used to wrap her up and carry her against my body. The rhythm of my footsteps, the sway of movement would inevitably put her to sleep.

Now, as she is older and heavier, I lay her in the stroller and push her all around the neighbourhood. Sometimes I wonder if there is any street in a 3 km radius of our house that I have not yet covered.

Yet even though the scenery may feel repetitive at times, I constantly feel fortunate to live in such a lovely part of town.

We live in an old neighbourhood, less than two kilometres from the river which separates Ontario from Quebec. Many of the houses around here, especially those closer to the river, used to be cottages. However, as the city expanded and this neighbourhood grew popular, many have been renovated and upgraded. Indeed, to walk around this area is to constantly pass construction sites, most of which are additions being added to old houses.

I also pass cafés and restaurants, boutique shops, lovingly tended gardens and many parks. Often I go down to the river where the breeze off the water is refreshing and urban noise is replaced with songs of nature.

Miya peers out from the stroller, captivated by the play of sunlight and wind in the trees. She'll nod off to sleep; I'll slow my step and lazily drift through another summer afternoon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

mon amie Sophie

This year, all the cool babies in Ottawa have Sophie, the French giraffe. And of course, Miya did not want to be the only one at the well-baby group without the cute little teething toy.

Sophie is popular with parents because she is made from natural rubber and decorated with non-toxic paint. She's popular with babies since she is soft and light to hold and her feet and face are just the right size for their mouths.

Although tulip man is still Miya's favourite toy, Sophie is a pretty big hit. Not only does she squeak when squeezed, she also speaks French and sings French children songs. Miya, in turn, bestows beaming smiles at her little French friend (which unfortunately are very hard to catch with the camera).

Sophie is also quite a forward little animal, always encouraging Miya to touch and hold her. But this is a developing skill for Miya, so Sophie is often dropped or awkwardly dangled, but she doesn't seem to mind. C'est un jouet très amicable.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ottawa's youngest marathoner

With help from her dad, Miya recently began training for Ottawa's busy marathon season.

Miya shows promising form, despite requiring some assistance.

Her exclusive breast milk diet, though unusual in marathon runners, obviously has some benefits as her strength and level of fitness is superb.

Established marathoners are rumored to be concerned about this new challenger.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Being Anne Myles

I don't know when I first started being Anne Myles - maybe a couple of years ago when some internet survey or whatnot asked for my name and I didn't feel like giving my real one. Since then I've been giving the name Anne Myles to various consumer reports, online surveys etc. When I receive mail for Anne Myles I know not to get too excited, even if I may be promised the chance to win $10,000.

But Anne Myles has always just been a name, an alias... until yesterday.

Yesterday I did a mystery shop at a high end bank. I was asked to go in with a certain scenario, essentially act as a person who has over $150K in assets and is looking for a 'better banking experience'. So Anne needed a back-up story.

It turns out Anne got her masters in English Lit and has gone on to work at the Canada Council for the Arts. She enjoys her job since she is tapped into the up-and-coming Canadian arts scene. She is married to a man who has been a director at Nortel for the past 7 years, but whose division recently got sold to Nokia. Turns out she also has a daughter named Miya, (but that was only because I couldn't trust Miya to keep a poker face during the shop).

And let me tell you, as Anne I got treated pretty nicely at this bank. As Anita I probably would have been politely told that perhaps this wasn't the best place for me. As Anne, I was wooed and wowed with promises of "red carpet treatment", special rates on investments, attractive rewards packages with credit cards. Want to bank off-shore, not a problem? Open an account in Germany? They'd have it for me in 3 days. Want to buy a 2nd house in the south of Frace? They can take care of the mortgage and all the credit approvals necessary.

I got a little nervous when at the end of the interview, the "Relationship Manager" I was speaking with fired off an email to Anne's account to make sure I'd have the details of her contact info and the website when I got home. I was worried she'd get an error message right there... then Anita would have had some explaining to do.

But it seems the email went through, so to the other Anne Myles out there, I apologize for cluttering up your inbox. But it sure was fun being you for an hour.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Canada Day

To celebrate Canada Day, this year Miya got up for an early stroll around the block. She then met with the Governor General for a morning breakfast and dropped by Parliament Hill to check on preparations for Canada Day festivities.

She hosted a luncheon for foreign diplomats, showcasing exciting new Canadian cuisine from some of Ottawa's up-and-coming chefs.

In the afternoon she was back downtown to welcome some of Canada's best musicians to Ottawa and take in their performances on the open air stages.

After such a busy day, Miya chose to spend the evening with her parents, enjoying a back-yard bbq then taking in the fireworks from the island not far from their home.


On Canada Day Miya napped, fed, kicked her legs, sucked on her hand, laid on her back, had her diaper changed, was pushed in a stroller, waved her arms, was walked in a wrap, sneezed and spit up, in no particular, but often repeating, order.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

accused of not sleeping

Having recently been accused of not sleeping, Miya Nagaraj presented the following photographic evidence, which she argues shows that she can and does sleep in a variety of locations and situations.

Exhibit A:
Cuddled sleep in the swing

Exhibit B:
Deep sleep on the bed

Exhibit C:
Lounging sleep in the stroller

Exhibit D:
Folded sleep in the wrap

Exhibit E:
With this last photo, Miya attempted to turn the tables, arguing that those accusing her could not be trusted to know exactly when she sleeps, since they may also be asleep at the same time!

Friday, June 19, 2009

clandestino shopping

Being the mother of an infant doesn't allow many opportunities to do any sustained work. My thesis is, of course, on hold and I don't know when I'll be able to start picking up research/writing contracts again. But I am not letting baby stop me from an exciting career as a mystery shopper.

Well okay, it may not exactly be a career - and doesn't provide for much more than my coffee budget - but it's a fun way to earn a bit of cash and get out of the house.

As a mystery shopper, I am paid by a company to go to certain stores, at certain hours, act as a regular customer and then complete an evaluation of my experience. At some stores I'm allowed to make purchases and be reimburse - my favourite ones are chocolate shops which for some reason I get assigned to fairly often. I also got to take the entrance exam for an MBA - which I was to purposefully fail and did not have to complete. Today I have to go to a paint store and see how helpful the salespeople will be. I don't actually have to buy any paint, but since eventually we are going to be painting the basement, this is a good opportunity to get some colour ideas. And hey, I get to practice my covert skills in case one day I get called into the secret service.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

tulip man

Getting her diaper changed got a lot more fun since the tulip man started hanging around.

A little wooden tulip toy which dangles from a long spring is a big hit with Miya. The toy, a gift from Miya's adopted Aunt, hangs from the light fixture above the table where we've set up the change station - a little tug gets the tulip man bouncing and the lights gently swaying. This seems to fascinate our 8-week old and she will happily lie on the change table long after her diaper has been changed. She coos, yelps and peeps her happiness - and comes pretty close to cracking a much anticipated smile.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Miya's oratory debut

In early June, young Miya Nagaraj made a passionate appeal for the banishment of car seat straps.

First she called on all babies to unite

She urged them to push off the ties that bind, especially the restricting chin straps that limit free expression.

She listed several key points, arguing her case in a style not dissimilar to that of American President Barack Obama.

Suddenly she realized she had overlooked the important issue of safety, perhaps rendering her whole argument moot.

Thus instead of the rousing finish which everyone expected after such stirring opening arguments, Miya simply grew silent and fell into deep reflection.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1 month

On her father's 30th birthday, Miya was one month old. She has already outgrown a few of her newborn outfits and is gradually plumping up.

She is a baby who definitely likes to be held. She is pretty indiscriminate about who is holding her - which means that when we have company, it is easy to pass her around. But she is getting a bit pickier about where and how she falls asleep. Luckily the wrap is generally something which will settle her - as the above photo illustratrates.

Last weekend we had about 12 people in the house. For a little while she was ok being held and passed around, but then she started to get tired and fussy. I fed her and put her in the wrap and soon she was fast asleep - and slept for much of the afternoon, indifferent to the bustle around her.

When she is most alert - usually around mid-morning - I can often put her in the bouncy chair. Facing the front window, she happily stares at the light, waves her arms and kicks her legs. This is a perfect time for me to get a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. But after about 15 minutes, she'll usually start to let me know that she is ready to be picked up.

I'm hoping that the times of her being able to amuse herself while sitting or lying on her own will increase. The other thing I need to work on is getting her to sleep by herself. She likes to sleep beside me and generally wakes up when I leave. For now, I enjoy the cuddle time and am putting of any drastic changes.

Friday, May 08, 2009

3 weeks - growing

The public health nurse came by on Thursday and assured me that Miya is doing very well. She praised Miya's alertness, noted the way she looks at the person talking to her, said her coordination is developing well... all good things. She also put Miya on her scale and rang her up at around 7 lbs 11 oz. This means she is well past her birth weight and gaining as she should.

Miya's also developing a bit of a predictable routine and thankfully seems to have figured out the difference between night and day.

Some books say that babies will be alert for about 20 minutes after a feed, and then take a nap until their next feed. Not this one - when she's awake she usually stays alert for a couple of hours. Generally she has her long alert stretch in the morning - sometimes starting as early as 5 a.m. (sigh) but lately usually from 9 a.m. to a little after 12 p.m. During these alert times she is quite happy to lie where she can see a window or sit in her bouncy seat. She makes lots of little noises, but doesn't fuss till she gets hungry - which gives me a couple of hours to get something to eat and do a few things around the house.

She usually naps all afternoon - waking about every 3 hours to feed, then fall back asleep. In the evening she wakes up again for an hour or two, but is generally a bit fussier than in the morning - especially as she gears up for her once-a-day poop fest which seems to require quite a bit of effort and concentration. But when that is finally done (phee-ew), she is pretty much tuckered out and after an evening snack is ready to go down for the night - or at least for a few hours until her little belly wakes her for her next feeed.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

2 1/2 weeks - baby style

Here's a photo of Miya sleeping on her dad's chest. V often dresses her in this outfit - what he calls her clown suit. Most of the clothes we have for Miya were hand-me-downs or gifts. Generally they are either yellow or pink. It is amazingly hard to find baby clothes in colours other than pink, yellow and blue - and hard to find girl clothes in blue. Why such gender stereotyping I ask? Not that I think dressing my daughter in pink is brainwashing her - but I just wonder why the options are so limited. Hopefully as she gets older we will be able to expand her wardrobe a bit.

So far Miya is still wearing the smallest of the clothes we have - although we are noticing that she is filling them out a little more, at least in length. She also seems blessed with rather large feet, which sometimes get caught in the pant legs.

During the first week the midwives were concerned that she wasn't gaining weight as she should. They made extra home visits to check on her, but each weigh in she was hanging steady at just over 7 pounds. Finally last Friday we had the good news that she had started gaining weight.

A public health nurse is coming by tomorrow - and hopefully she will have more good news for us. And seriously, just look at those cheeks - obviously she is plumping up.

Monday, May 04, 2009

big changes come in a small packages

Well the belly burst and we now have a daughter. Little Miya Grace Nagaraj was born in the early morning of April 19 - at home, in the bathtub, with midwife 10 minutes out. V did a fantastic job of getting us through the delivery.

For the first few days we were all a little shell-shocked. I was still on a bit of high from the excitement of delivering our own baby - and probably from some crazy hormones designed to make mothers forget the pain.

Then somewhere during the first week I moved from elation to anxiety as the midwives told us Miya wasn't gaining weight (or pooping) like she should. Sleep deprivation took it's toll, as did the stress of worrying about this tiny little being.

Luckily little Miya is now pooping like a champ - strange that we should celebrate such things - and putting on weight. My mum came out for a week and it was great to have another set of hands to help out and arms to hold baby.

And now life is shaping in a new way. V is back at work and my mum is back in SK. Miya and I are hanging out, just the two of us at home. For a being so small, she demands a surprising amount of attention - but it's a drawn out, slow kind of attention. My life has radically changed. And yet, as I lie here beside my sleeping daughter, it also seems to be standing still. Still and quiet... just watching her breathe.

For those interested in updates on the life and times of baby Miya, I have set up another blog - mamamiyablog.blogspot.com. For those not so interested in baby talk, I'll keep this blog for other topics - although I can't guarantee there won't be some crossover.