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A Day in the Life…

The other day I had the most vivid epiphany about enjoying life as it is happening. I was thinking about how just a few years ago, I was living life as a forensic accountant, travelling all around the country working on investigations. There were many days where I was sleeping in fancy hotels, drinking wine in airport lounges between flights, having dinner in hotel restaurants, or working from my room with an order of room service. In hindsight, there was something enjoyable and somewhat glamorous about a life like that but in the moment, I was just feeling overworked, stressed and lonely. And just last summer when I was pregnant, I would sometimes go for walks to a local coffee shop and spend hours reading or blogging there. In hindsight, I wish I would have done it more often since I don’t have that type of freedom with my time now.

So, as I’m sitting here on the couch and typing this as my baby naps, I am reminding myself not to feel restless and to enjoy this idyllic time, as in just a few months I’ll be back at work and I’ll be looking back on this time wishing that I could re-live it again.

My baby is five and a half months old now and we’ve settled into a very predictable and enjoyable routine. My husband has been working night shifts for the past 5 days and so I feel like I’ve been ‘single mom-ming’ it for the past 5 days. However, whenever he’s at work, my days with the baby are very routine and relaxing. Here’s a snapshot of our day yesterday:

7:15AM – I’ve set the coffee machine on autostart and I can faintly hear the grinder going from our bedroom. The husband got home at 4AM, so he’s sound asleep. I slip out of bed and head downstairs. This is my morning “me” time and I savour this hour where I peacefully enjoy my coffee and a book.

8:30AM – Baby E is up. I head upstairs to change and feed her and have our morning cuddles. Then we head downstairs where I have my breakfast (avocado toast with a fried egg) while she plays in her Bumbo chair. Sometimes she’ll play nicely long enough for me to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher from the night before. I love starting the day with an empty dishwasher so I can load dirty dishes into it as the day progresses. I start a load of laundry, then we head back upstairs to the bonus room where we play, either on her playmat, jolly jumper, activity centre or on the floor. Side note: HGTV is always on the TV when we are in the bonus room, and I’m chomping at the bit to renovate our house or to build a new house!

10AM – Baby E will inevitably start fussing after an hour and a half of waking up, wanting her morning nap. I change her diaper, and we settle down to read a couple books before nap time. Then I zip her into her Zipadee-zip and nurse her. I put her into her crib and she talks to herself for 5-10 minutes before falling asleep.  The Zipadee-zip is a swaddle transition blanket and Baby E just loves it. Her hands are covered so I don’t have to worry about her scratching herself, it is incredibly soft and warm, and every time I tell her “Zipadee-zip, it’s sleep time!” she smiles and coos because she knows that she’s going to get fed before she has to sleep.

Fast asleep in her Zipadee-zip and DockATot

These morning naps are the long ones, usually 2 hours, so I get a lot done during these two hours. This day in particular, I finish cleaning the kitchen, put the laundry into the dryer, and then head down to the basement. Remember, when I was doing the home organization challenge? Well, we had a bout of sickness in our household and then we went to Mexico, so I fell behind on the challenge. However, I’m still chipping away at it. I’ve cleaned out and decluttered my closet, resulting in one huge bag of clothes that went to donations and one huge bag going to a consignment store. Now I’m working on our basement – our basement isn’t developed yet so it’s literally where we store EVERYTHING. There’s a lot of junk down there and it’s overwhelming to think about cleaning and organizing it before we start developing it. So, I made a plan that every day during morning nap, I will head down to the basement for half an hour. I have a big garbage bag started where I throw things that we will toss, and I have a box started where I put things that I will sell on VarageSale. I spend half an hour down there, and then head back upstairs to read and relax until baby wakes up.

12PM – Baby E wakes up and I head upstairs to change her and feed her. We then wake my husband up (he has to head to work at 3PM). I leave Baby E with him to play and I head downstairs to make lunch. Today’s lunch is this Italian Sausage Tortellini. We all eat lunch together and the husband continues to play with the baby while I clean up the kitchen.

2PM – Baby E starts fussing so after changing her and feeding her, she’s back down for her afternoon nap. This nap is usually only 1-1.5 hours long, so I just read or watch TV.

3:30PM – Baby E is up. Another round of changing diapers, feeding and playing. While she plays independently, I fold and put away laundry.  If we have anywhere to go, this is usually when we go out. But today is a lazy day where I know we’re not going anywhere, so I haven’t even put on any makeup or anything.

5:30PM – She starts fussing. Another diaper change and feed, and she’s down for her evening nap. This one is only an hour. I make a sandwich for myself for dinner and relax with my book on the couch. (I’ve been reading a lot lately now that her naps are so good. I average a book a day!).

6:30PM – She’s up. Another round of changing diapers, feeding and playing.

Play hard, drool hard

8PM – Start of nighttime routine. I bathe her, give her a baby massage with Aveeno Baby Nighttime Balm, read her two bedtime stories, feed her and put her down for bed. She chats with herself for a few minutes and then quickly falls asleep.

At this time, I do a quick tidy of the entire house, set up the coffee machine for tomorrow morning, start the dishwasher and then head to my bedroom. I have a nice hot bath with a book and a glass of wine, and I’m in bed by 11PM.

The end of my day

5AM – Baby E wakes around 5AM for her nighttime feed, so I feed her and put her back into her crib where she sleeps until 8:30AM.

The next day starts again with the sound of the coffee machine at 7:15AM!

Isn’t that the most idyllic day ever? When the weather is nice we usually go out during her awake times, but we’ve been staying in the past couple of days. The days where my husband is off work are a little more activity-filled. On his days off, I go to the gym, I go to a coffee shop to blog, and we have random outings to go shopping, out to eat, various appointments, or various social visits.

I’m not going to lie, there are days where the monotony of this routine really makes me restless. However, I am reminding myself to enjoy the quiet moments and to make the most out of this phase as it will inevitably pass. I used to feel restless when I used to nap with Baby E and I was laying there on the couch with her for two hours. But now that we’ve sleep trained her and she’s napping on her own, I really miss those cuddles! So my resolution for the last half of my maternity leave is to soak in and enjoy every single moment because I won’t be able to relive these moments again!

Featured/ Life

First family holiday!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long absence. After my last post where I was debating whether or not to go to Mexico this year, we actually did decide to do a last minute trip to Mexico! The days leading up to the trip were a whirlwind of preparation, getting my baby’s passport, packing, and stressing out. Let me tell ya, packing for a baby is a whole new ballgame. Diapers, swimming diapers, wipes, a million outfits, blankets and cloths….it was quite the process!

I have to admit though, plane rides are not fun with a baby. I don’t know how other moms do it, but I could not find a comfortable way to get her to nap or to nurse her on the plane. It was hot, the armrests were too high to be of any help, and every time she started to doze off the flight attendant or pilot would make an announcement and it would wake her right up again. Thankfully, it was just a 5 hour flight to Cancun so it wasn’t too bad. Now that I have that flight under my belt, a 1 hour flight to Calgary in a couple months to visit my sister will be a piece of cake.

We stayed at the Royalton Riviera Cancun and it was by far, the most baby friendly and kid friendly resort I’ve ever experienced. There were kids and babies everywhere.  We joked around that we could have a pretty decent ‘car show’ with all the makes and models of strollers that were there. The resort was also 15 minutes from the airport which was a huge bonus. I don’t know if I could have handled a long bus ride after the 5 hour plane ride with a baby.

I would highly recommend this resort to anyone travelling with kids but would still like to enjoy fine dining and good drinks. The food was excellent (much better than at Secrets or Dreams resorts that I’ve been to), there were plenty of bars with high-end liquor, and there was a coffee shop that rivalled Starbucks with excellent pastries and coffees. There was an amazing kids splash park that would keep any child entertained for hours, and there were plenty of cabanas and loungers with umbrellas so that you could keep your baby in the shade.

This isn’t a post about travelling tips with a baby because I am so new to this, but I do have two tips to share. These two things definitely made the trip so much easier and more fun for us. 1) We packed our DockATot. This ensured that our baby still slept in a familiar setting and that her sleep wouldn’t be disrupted. Baby E continued to sleep through the night with one night feeding and she had good daily naps. Her noon naps were often 2-3 hours long! Which brings me to my second tip. 2) Book a swimout room! When Baby E had her 3 hour naps in the middle of the day, my husband and I were able to enjoy the sun in our swimout pool right off our room. We dead bolted the room door to ensure that cleaning staff wouldn’t walk in and set up our baby  monitor. It was so awesome. Baby E was able to get out of the heat and nap during the hottest part of the day and we were able to enjoy the sun.

Travelling with a baby meant early mornings and early nights but we had a good routine going for us:

6:30AM – I would wake up, get ready, go get us a cabana in the shade, grab a coffee from the coffee shop and have some “me” time with my coffee and a book. The husband would sleep in with the baby.

8AMish – The husband would text me when the baby was up and I would return to the room to feed her and dress her while he got ready. We would then head to either the buffet or one of the a la cartes for breakfast.

9AM – 11AMish – We would hang out in our cabana, enjoy some drinks (the bar opened at 10AM), and people watch. Sometimes the baby would need a little cat nap so I would lay down with her in the cabana for a nice nap. After she woke up, we would change her into her swimming diapers and a swimsuit and my husband would take her into the kids pool.

11AM-12PMish – Around this time, the baby would start fussing and it would be time for her noon nap. It would also be getting super hot at this time, so we would head back to our room. I would feed her, change her out of her swimsuit and put her down for her nap in her DockATot. After she was down, my husband and I would head out to our swimout pool to float around, drink and read. The drink servers came right up to our swimout to take our drink orders so we didn’t even have to leave our pool. Baby E would always nap for 2-3 hours for this noon nap, so my husband would just grab some burgers and fries from the pool grill and we ate on our patio/swimout.

2PM-3PMish – Baby E would get up. I would feed her and then we would head to one of the a la cartes for a late lunch, then either back to our cabana for more people watching and swimming, or to one of the many outdoor bar areas to have some drinks and people watch.

5PMish – Time for another nap back in the room. This one is usually a short one, 45 minutes to an hour, so my husband and I would hang out again on our patio or in our swimout.

6PMish – Baby E would get up and we would head out to dinner. This resort doesn’t take reservations for the a la cartes, just first come first serve, and the restaurants opened at 6PM. We were usually there right at 6PM, so we didn’t have to wait for a table.

After dinner, we would head to the lobby to hang out and watch the entertainment. My husband would grab a scotch or cognac from the lobby bar, and I would grab a sparkling wine from the lobby bar and some pastries from the coffee shop. We would hang out until about 8PM and then it would be baby’s bed time.

8PMish – Back in the room, bath for baby, and bedtime.  Sometimes the husband and I would just go to bed too or read or watch movies in bed. Sometimes the husband would head to the sports bar for his “me” time and I would just read in bed.

It was such a relaxing holiday! I am glad to be home, but I am not enjoying the mountains of laundry that we’ve been doing! I’ve shared some pictures of our trip below. I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule of recipes soon!

Happy to be on holidays!

 

Napping hard in her DockATot

 

View from our swimout pool – and yes, I read Danielle Steel. I love formulaic, mindless reads on vacation!

My early morning “me” time with a coffee, a book and an amazing view.

Early morning poolside naps.

Afternoon drinks, people watching

Watching the Zumba class was pure entertainment

Swimout selfie

Pre dinner martinis at the martini bar

Pastry shop

Liquid lunch

More martinis

Breakfast with a view

Ice cream shop at the resort – too bad baby E and I aren’t doing dairy 🙁

 

Featured/ Life

How I Got My Baby to Sleep Through the Night

Sooo…I have one of those unicorn babies who takes long naps and sleeps 8-12 hours every night. I know, I know. Some moms are just hating me right now. I’ve shared my tips so many times with my new mom friends, I’m literally copy and pasting conversations from one text message to another. So, I’ve decided to write down all my tips in a blog post to share with everyone. Also, in collaboration with Regina’s premiere baby store, Hello Baby, we are offering a promotion and giveaway to help Regina moms out there establish a good sleeping routine for their babies. Read on until the end of the post to find out more about the promotion and giveaway!

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My husband and I love our sleep. Prior to having a baby, we would easily sleep in on the weekends until 11AM. So, I think we’ve lucked out in the fact that our baby loves her sleep as much as we do! Baby E takes three long naps per day (morning, afternoon, and evening) and she started sleeping through the night at around 11-12 weeks old. She also takes after me in being a creature of habit, so her schedule is surprisingly consistent:

9:30AM – Awake for the day / Eat / Play

11AM – 1PM – Morning Nap 

1PM – Eat/Awake/Play

2:30PM – 4:30PM – Afternoon Nap

4:30PM – Eat/Awake/Play

6PM – 7PM – Evening Nap

7PM – Eat/Awake/Play

8:30PM – Bath / Baby Massage

9PM – Eat / Swaddle / Bedtime

Night feed – 6:30AM

I am loving this schedule! First of all, after she goes to bed at 9PM, it is still early enough for me to get some housework done, spend time with the husband, read, have a bath and/or have a glass of wine before I go to bed around 11-ish. When she wakes at 6:30AM for her night feed, I keep her swaddled and feed her, so she passes right out again, and I can either go back to bed myself or start my day. Lately I’ve been starting my day after her night feed – this gives me approximately 3 hours to get myself ready in the morning (it’s amazing what a little mascara and tinted moisturizer will do for your mood!), have breakfast and coffee, do some housework and enjoy some alone time either reading, bullet journaling, or working on the blog. I don’t mind starting my day this early because I usually lay down and take the morning nap with her.

So how did I manage to get her onto such an ideal schedule? I don’t know if I can pinpoint it on just one thing. I think there are a whole bunch of things that I do that work together to get her so consistent:

Consistent nap schedule

As you can see from the schedule above, Baby E has a nap after about 1.5 hours of awake time. I did some reading and found out that babies her age (3 months) can usually handle about 1 to 1.5 hours of awake/play time before they are overstimulated and need a nap. After reading this, I observed her for a day or two and noticed that she did indeed get fussy for no reason and showed signs of overstimulation after about 1.5 hours. I also noticed that she roughly gets up for the day around the same time every morning, so I built a schedule using her approximate morning wake up time and the 1.5 hour awake time rule.

Now, the 1.5 hour rule isn’t set in stone and every baby is different. Even with the same baby, every day is different. When we were at the in-laws for Christmas and there was a ton of stimulation around, I noticed that she would get fussy after an hour of awake time, so I would put her down earlier for a nap and adjust the schedule as the day went on. Sometimes, when we are having a peaceful day at home or if we’re happily out and about, she can stay awake and happy for 2 hours, so I tweak the schedule accordingly. After a few weeks of trying out the schedule, I noticed that she liked to have longer morning and afternoon naps (2 hours) and shorter evening naps (1 hour), so I just followed her cues and adjusted the schedule.

And now that she’s past the 3 month point, I’ll continue to watch her cues and see if she can slowly increase her awake time happily and adjust the schedule as she gets older.

Whatever the schedule may be, I think that having a consistent nap schedule prevents her from getting overtired and cranky, and allows her to have a peaceful night’s sleep.

If you’re thinking about putting your baby on a schedule, I suggest doing it during a stretch of time when you don’t have any outings planned. You need to have consistent, boring days in order to read your baby’s cues and make your observations on her behaviour. If you’re constantly out and about, you’ll be disrupting the schedule and you won’t be able to make your observations in a ‘controlled environment’, so to speak. With our Saskatchewan winters, I was able to keep her at home and make my observations when we had a stretch of days when the weather was -40-something with the windchill and there was no way we were going out. It just takes a few monotonous days, but now that we have a solid schedule, I can more easily plan outings during her awake time and I enjoy our outings more as she is well rested, fed, and happy, and I don’t have to stress about feeding her in public or her fussing uncontrollably in public because she needs a nap.

I also suggest keeping notes for a few days on your baby’s schedule as it helps pinpoint patterns and preferences. I keep the notes on my phone about her daily schedule and that’s how I recognized that she usually gets up at the same time and the pattern/duration of her naps.

Example of Baby E’s daily schedule. I adjust and tweak as the day goes on.

 

I keep a few days’ of her schedule in my phone before I delete them. Keeping a log helps to identify sleep patterns and preferences.

Night time routine

I had read so many mommy articles and blogs about establishing a night time routine for your baby so that they are ‘programmed’ to know that it’s bed time and time for a long stretch of sleep. At first, I thought this was BS – how could a newborn possibly recognize that a storybook signalled bedtime or that a bath was a precursor to bedtime? However, I eventually decided to give it a try (it doesn’t take that much effort to establish some sort of routine), and I introduced a night time routine for Baby E when she was about 9 weeks old. At this point, she was super alert and even I was convinced that she just might actually recognize patterns and routines. So, here is our night time routine:

  • Bath – my  husband and I give Baby E a bath every other night, and that is part of our night time routine. On the nights where there is no bath, night time routine starts with the baby massage.
  • Baby Massage – After her bath, I give her a quick baby massage. I’m using this term loosely, because I basically just slather her body and face with Aveeno Baby Eczema Care Night Balm. I’ve mentioned before that Baby E suffers from eczema when I eat dairy, so although I have cut out dairy, I find it beneficial to use the lotion on her nightly because the dry winter air also triggers some flare ups for her.
  • Pyjamas – After the bath and massage, we put her into footed onesie pyjamas. I make a point of dressing her in non-footed, day time clothes during the day, hoping that the feel of footed pyjamas signals that it’s bedtime. As we are putting the pyjamas on her, I talk to her and say things like “Mommy’s putting your pyjamas on, gotta cover those toes for bedtime”.  She smiles and laughs at that, so maybe she understands.
  • Dimmed Lights and Feeding – After all that is done, it is time for her last feeding before bedtime. For this last nursing session, we dim the lights in our bonus room where I feed her. The TV is still on for my enjoyment but at a lowered volume. During the day, I make sure the blinds and curtains are open, and lights are on in the early evenings, so that the dimmed lighting is a noticeable change in the environment to signal bedtime.
  • Bedtime Story / Chat – After she eats, I burp her and keep her upright on my lap facing me for a few minutes (just to help with digestion and ensure that she doesn’t spit up). During these few minutes, sometimes I’ll read her a bedtime story but it’s kind of hard with the dimmed lighting. More often, we will just have little chats where I chat with her softly, making sure to say “bedtime” or “sweet dreams” or other bedtime signalling words.
  • Swaddle – After the chat, I’ll change her diaper if it needs changing and then swaddle her up for bedtime. For bedtime, we do a double swaddle on her because she’s quite the escape artist and would often escape her swaddle in the middle of the night and startle herself awake. I was worried about doing a double swaddle because of the overheating factor, but I found this video that shows how to do a ‘batwing’ swaddle and it has worked so well for us! It will require you to sacrifice one swaddling blanket and cut it up though! I just cut up a cheaper one that I had bought at HomeSense. Check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dbE5Hc9tPc . We only do the double swaddle at night time, so I think she realizes that it signals bedtime. For naps, I only do a single swaddle (no batwing). I think she will be rolling over soon though, so I will have to transition her out of a swaddle…I have some swaddling transition products that I will be trying at that time, so I will keep you guys posted!
  • After she’s swaddled up, I cuddle her, pat her bum, and do some ‘shushing’ until she dozes off. Then I will lay her down in her nursery and she’s out for the night!

But now let’s talk about the sleep environment in her nursery….

DockATot

Have you guys heard of the DockATot? I started seeing it pop up on several ‘must have’ blog posts of my favourite celebrity bloggers who are new mom’s (like Jillian Harris). I’m not one to fall for celebrity-endorsed baby products, and I was definitely hesitant to buy the DockATot because it is fairly expensive. However, I kept on hearing good things about how it really helps baby sleep better because it’s a warm, breathable, snug sleeping environment and I finally decided to splurge on one and bought one from Hello Baby. The first night we transitioned Baby E from the bassinet by our bed to the DockATot in her own crib and nursery, she still got up every 3 hours. I was a little disappointed but decided to forge on ahead and give it another try. On the second night, she slept for 7 hours straight and it has only improved from there! Now, I don’t know if all the credit goes to the DockATot because we literally introduced all of the things I write about in this post within a week or two of each other, but I definitely think it is a huge contributor. She seems very snug and happy every morning when I go into the nursery to get her!

Baby E in her DockATot

 

So happy after a good night’s sleep!

I’ve heard her stir in the middle of the night a few times, and she’s managed to put herself back to sleep by snuggling up against the side of the DockATot. The DockATot is breathable so there’s no worries about suffocation and I think it comforts her to have something to snuggle up to as opposed to a vast expanse of crib.

Baby E snuggles up to the side of the Dock to comfort herself back to sleep after waking up

You can buy the DockATot Deluxe at Hello Baby here in Regina, and it’s designed for babies 0-6 months. The white DockATot Deluxe like I have is $267.95, and they also have pretty patterned ones for $297.95. I know it’s expensive but it’s well worth the investment for 8-12 hour stretches of sleep, don’t you think? My only regret is that I didn’t buy one sooner! There is also the DockaTot Grand for babies older than 6 months. It is a little bit more expensive but I already know that I will be splurging on one as soon as Baby E outgrows the DockaTot Deluxe!

White noise

Babies like to have some white noise in order to sleep. Think about it – when they were in the womb, they were surrounded by the sound of mama’s heartbeat, the whooshing of the blood, and the sounds of other internal organs doing their thing. Trying to sleep in complete silence is hard for them. Plus, total silence just means that the slightest sound will startle them from their sleep. When Baby E was still sleeping in the bassinet by our bed, we were using one of those Sleep Sheep sound machines. Cute and portable…but because it was battery operated, it timed out after 45 minutes. It worked fine for us for the first 6 weeks when Baby E’s newborn sleep was pretty deep, but somewhere around the 6-8 week mark, I noticed that Baby E would often startle herself awake minutes after the Sleep Sheep had turned itself off. Sometimes, I would even startle awake when the sheep suddenly turned off!

So I headed to Hello Baby and bought this adorable sound machine that plugs in.

Skip Hop Owl sound machine

This Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies Owl Nightlight Soother sells for $54.95. It has many functions, including music, nightlight and white noise, but I’m just using it for the white noise right now. You have the option to have the white noise time out after a certain period of time, or to have it on continuous play. I have it on continuous play and I really think that the constant white noise is helping Baby E sleep better. It also allows the husband and I to watch TV in our bonus room without worrying that any sudden sound from the TV will startle her from her sleep in the nursery next door.

Humidifier

Whenever I have dairy,  Baby E suffers from congestion, dry skin, dry lips, and severe eczema patches all over her face and body. I noticed during these flare-ups, her sleep would obviously be disturbed as well, likely due to difficulty breathing and the discomfort of her dry itchy skin. I bought a humidifier for her nursery and we now have it running all night.

Even if your baby doesn’t suffer from eczema, I think all Saskatchewan babies can benefit from a humidifier in their nursery. Our dry winter air, along with the moisture-sucking heating in our houses, can cause their sensitive skin to dry out easily. Using a humidifier in their nursery will add moisture back to the dry air and create an optimal breathing environment for comfortable sleep. Ever since we started using the humidifier, she has slept beautifully and her skin is no longer dry and flaky (unless I accidentally eat dairy!).

I bought my humidifier from Canadian Tire, but there are many different brands out there and they are widely available at any baby store, Canadian Tire, or even Walmart. Just make sure to buy a cool mist humidifier. A warm mist humidifier can contribute to mildew and mold growth.

Vicks cool mist humidifier

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So there you have it. Those are all the tools and tricks I used to get my baby to sleep through the night. Now to help you start establishing your own night time routine for your baby, Hello Baby is offering the following promotions to Culinary Cents readers:

  • With the purchase of a DockATot, receive 50% off a baby massage oil to help you incorporate a baby massage into your night time routine. 
  • For any purchase made at Hello Baby, have your name entered into a draw to win an organic Aden + Anais swaddle blanket! You guys, I can’t say enough about these swaddle blankets. They are soft, breathable and have the perfect amount of stretch in them. Plus, they get softer with every wash! I don’t even know why I wasted money buying cheap swaddle blankets because I always just grab my Aden swaddle blankets to swaddle Baby E. Plus, I always keep an Aden swaddle blanket in my diaper bag because they are lightweight and versatile – you never know if you’ll need to swaddle, burp or blanket a baby when you’re out and about.

Remember to mention this blog post when you’re making your purchase at Hello Baby! 

This promotion starts Tuesday, January 24, 2017 and will run through February 6, 2017. A draw for the winner of the organic Aden swaddle blanket will be made on February 7! 

Hello Baby is located at 2555 Quance Street East here in Regina, SK.

Hopefully what I’ve written will help someone out. I’d love to hear about other tools and techniques that have worked for other moms out there, so please leave me a comment! Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment and I will reply as soon as I can!