By Lynn Jatania
Juliette Giannesini of Correr Es Mi Destino has a truly unique perspective on family life in Ottawa. Maybe it’s because she’s French – her extended family still lives in a lovely part of southern France and their culture influences her daily. Or perhaps it comes from raising her young son in an urban home, trying to balance her own heritage with her husband’s Chinese culture. But mostly, we think it’s because she has the fearlessness to live life as a mother to its fullest – to travel, to explore, and to wander just as freely as before adorable little Mark came along.
Although he’s still a toddler, Mark has already seen Mexico, France, NYC, and Toronto, among others places. With a free-spirited, curious approach and dozens of amazing photos, Juliette’s tales of her travels are like peeking into another place – catching a glimpse of a perfectly encapsulated nook in a foreign country. She’ll have you wanting to book your next trip right away – but in the meantime, reading her blog feels so immediate and vivid, it’s like you’ve been there yourself.
It’s not all far-flung locations, either; she has plenty of great advice and anecdotes about life in Ottawa, too. Dig into her archives for info on great spots to skate, picnic, or explore in the capital (all with beautiful photos, some of which are for sale). There are also posts about quick-trip opportunities in Quebec City, Montreal, or the other side of the U.S. border, all told from a unique, inquisitive perspective that will fuel your wanderlust.
As an immigrant to Canada, Juliette also has lots to say about how to ease into settling here, and how to make best use of the system. But whether you’re new to Ottawa or an old hand, you’ll find something fascinating about her view of the world.
When it comes to French food, I have simple tastes. I don’t crave fancy foods. I’m happy with bread, cheese, quiches (savoury pies), chaussons aux pommes (apple turnovers), or simple pastries such as flans.
Nantes has several famous and fancy pâtissiers. Their shops are fascinating, with elaborated colourful pastries on display. Frankly, I think sticking a spoon into these art pieces is a crime. Sure, the mousse might be delicious and the chocolate coating is probably just sweet enough… but can you imagine the tedious work involved in each pastry?
I already find bakers are masochists. I mean, they wake up at dawn to bake loafs and loafs of bread, roll croissants into perfect half-moons and stick chocolate into sweet breads—and they do it every single morning, all over again. But pastry chefs take masochism to a whole different level, crafting these fancy yet ephemeral treats.
These days, Mark has a chocolate-smeared face on half of the pictures because he discovered les boulangeries and loves his daily treat. Like every French kid, he unfolds the dough of his pain au chocolat to eat the chocolate first and he complains loudly if I buy something without a sweet filling. A piece of brioche without chocolate chips? Quelle horreur!
Read the rest of this post and more at Correr Es Mi Destino.
Interested in checking out some of the other great Ottawa parenting blogs that have caught our eye? They’re all listed right here.
By Lynn Jatania
- Notice the weather turning to fall, lovely leaves turning colour, a nip in the air. Casually ask your kid what he’d like to be for Halloween, and frown when he tells you he’d like to be a 20-foot long Chinese dragon made from real silk. Decide to go on the offensive.
- Consult Pinterest for fun ideas. Fall down Pinterest black hole.
- Emerge from Pinterest black hole three days later with a pinboard full of ideas that will take a little fabric, a glue gun, and the patience of Mother Teresa.
- Show your kid your pinboard and try not to be offended when he doesn’t know what a Ghostbuster is. Remain cheerfully upbeat as you attempt to sell him on the cuteness of being a miniature Gandalf, while hiding your secret agenda of making a matching Galadriel outfit, because OMG you will look so amazing in a long blonde wig, and you found the perfect replica elf ring on Etsy.
- Take your child’s shrug and “I guess so” as a firm yes.
- Visit the fabric store, the craft store, and the costume store for wigs and fake beards. Find a local craftsman who works with reclaimed wood to start sculpting a staff.
- Sew, glue, and swear, with none of the patience of Mother Teresa.
- With four weeks to go, have your child try on the costume. Radiate pride, exclaim over the cuteness, take a photo for Grandma. Pat yourself on the back for being prepared so early.
- Notice, upon removal, that the beard gave your kid a rash. Ignore the problem. It’s only one night, right?
- Try not to panic when you’re out at WalMart and your kid sees a polyester one-piece Ninja Turtle jumpsuit with a matching facemask that is as delicate as a Royal Daulton teapot, and flips out with excitement.
- Put fingers in ears and sing loudly every time kid says “all his friends” are going as Ninja Turtles. Bury WalMart flyer advertising costumes on sale for 50 per cent off in the recycling bin.
- Cave in and purchase Ninja Turtle costume. Decide to give your father-in-law a hand crafted, reclaimed wood staff for Christmas.
- Perfect Galadriel costume. You are radiance personified. If only the wig didn’t give you a rash – but it’s only one night, right?
- Try not to stab yourself in the eye with a pen when your kid declares the Ninja Turtle jumpsuit to be uncomfortable, and adds that “all his friends” are now going as Ghostbusters.
- Rush to Pinterest to review Ghostbuster costumes. Call around to see if anyone has kid-sized work jumpsuits. Inform spouse he must make a jet pack because you are too busy baking 150 cupcakes for three school Halloween parties.
- On the day before Halloween, with your arms covered in pumpkin guts up to the elbows, sigh as your kid asks if you have any extra silk scarves for a Chinese dragon costume.
- Facing an array of rejected costumes laid out on the bed, finally placate your over excited, over stimulated, over optioned child with last year’s too-small Harry Potter costume.
- Panic about bowl of candy left on front porch, as you imagine hooligans ignoring your polite and subtle “Please take ONE” sign, and grabbing inappropriate fistfuls. Rush Harry Potter and his siblings up and down the street while trying not to trip over Galadriel dress, and ignoring the itchy wig. Insist on wearing delicate elvish slippers you found on eBay, imported from India, despite sprinkling of snow on the ground.
- Try not to be too overjoyed when your kids complain of sore feet after 10 houses.
- Lead the troops home, bring the empty candy bowl back inside, and turn out the porch light. Put the kids to bed and settle down with a glass of wine, a Lord of the Rings DVD, and a bowl of pilfered candy. Take the good stuff – you’ve earned it!
Children of the 70s and early 80s may remember these animated bathroom-related characters. "Oh what adventures they had!" Confess: did it make you slightly afraid to go to the bathroom at night? ;)
By Sarah Niman
New parents often wonder whether things get easier, especially when it comes to sleep.
Sleepless nights are one of the first parenthood milestones we soldier through, earning our stripes.
“Are you getting any sleep?”
“Is he sleeping through the night yet?”
To the sleep-deprived warriors, these questions are not just conversation fodder. They can cause parents to seriously question whether they know anything about babies after all.
Sleep is one of a few basic functions babies can do from birth. How hard can it be to get a baby to start sleeping through the night after the novelty of the newborn sleepless stage has worn off? Do yourself a favour and never ask a new parent that question.
Most parents have heard of sleep training, and the spectrum of methods available. At one end, there is Dr. Richard Ferber’s “cry-it-out” approach. He advocates letting babies “self-soothe,” or cry, for gradually longer increments of time, with parents checking intermittently. The idea is that after a few nights, baby has learned to settle back to sleep, rather than cry for a parent’s help. At the other end, there are several “no-cry” methods championed by experts who purport anything else can damage a baby’s sense of security. In the middle are legions of sleep-deprived parents just trying to make the right choice, and survive this parenting hurdle without unwittingly damaging their baby.
Scientific research wavers back and forth on each method’s effectiveness. In the end, what works in each family is the right choice.
Of my own four daughters, each required different go-to-sleep tactics that resulted in a full night’s rest at different ages. My first baby would sleep for 12 hours when she was eight months old. Before that, she was a fussy one who required a lot of my time, day or night. I used Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block strategy, which involves the five S’s of sleep: swaddling, the side or stomach position (for calming your baby, not for sleeping), shushing, swinging, and sucking.
Most sleep training strategies unanimously identify the importance of establishing a predictable nighttime routine that prompts a baby’s go-to-sleep mechanisms to kick in.
Every night, we gave her a bath, lathered her in cream, dressed her in a pair of adorable pajamas, fed her with the lights low, and slipped her into her crib as quietly as possible before tip-toeing out.
Next, we had twins. Having twins was a great case study of how sleep-deprived parents will go to any length imaginable to get a little rest. My husband and I used man-on-man defense, bedtime routines, a final feed before bed, and when we placed them down gingerly, I kept one hand jiggling the more fidgety girl ever so slightly for up to an hour, until her tiny, whispery breaths grew deep.
Our fourth girl made us feel like we didn’t know anything about getting babies to sleep. After nine months of multiple night wakings, I was getting a little twitchy.
I consulted Dana Obelman’s Sleep Sense guide. She directed me to let my baby cry for a minute or two, waiting to see if she’d settle on her own. If she didn’t, I would go in and shush her gently until she quieted down. Some nights, I felt victorious and other nights I felt like a rookie parent with a broken baby.
What I have learned, through four babies, numerous books, and lots of advice from other parents, is that it all comes down to trust.
When we do away with expectations and experts, we are left with the bare bones of parenthood: our instincts, and our trust in ourselves.
There is no right answer, and you have full permission to do whatever works, when you are acting out of love.
Sleep training or not, cry-it-out or cuddle until the cows come home, one thing parents can count on is that they will sleep again at night, eventually.
Sarah Niman is a writer, wife and mother of four. She blogs at cureforboredomiscuriosity.com.
It's Monday! And that means we're sharing some of our favourite ideas from our Pinterest boards. Maybe it's the sudden turn in the weather, but this week we're thinking about fun games we can make and play at home.
We're taking a trip down memory lane! This show must have aired in the 1970s or 80s. Do you remember the song? It may possibly be buried in your brain somewhere...
By Jason Haug, Program and Project Management Officer, Ottawa Public Health
Breastfeeding your baby is one of the best things you can do to give him or her their best start in life. The World Health Organization, the Canadian Paediatric Society, Health Canada, and Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and to continue breastfeeding, with the introduction of solids, for up to two years and beyond.
What makes breast milk the best food for your baby?
There are very few things in life that can be tailored exactly to your needs. Luckily for babies, breast milk does just that. Breast milk is custom-made by each mother for her own baby. It contains an optimal amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals that your baby needs to grow and develop. It may protect your child from illnesses such as childhood diabetes and helps to promote proper jaw and teeth development. One of the greatest things about breast milk is that it will change and adapt to meet your baby’s needs as they grow.
Besides meeting your baby’s nutritional needs for growth and development, breast milk also contains antibodies. Antibodies play an important role in the body’s immune system by identifying and fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses. The antibodies your baby receives from breast milk may reduce their risk of developing allergies. Also, breast milk helps protect against ear, chest and stomach infections. After birth, your protein-rich first milk, called colostrum, helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria by coating your baby’s digestive system.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, breastfed children have also been shown to score higher on IQ tests, and perform better in school.
What supports available to help moms who want to breastfeed?
Ottawa Public Health’s Ottawa Breastfeeding Buddies (OBB) program is a mother-to-mother breastfeeding telephone support program. It is provided to prenatal clients who are planning to breastfeed, and postpartum clients who are currently breastfeeding (includes expressed breast milk) up until their baby is 6 months of age. It is accessible to anyone living in the Ottawa area that has a phone.The program buddies new moms with volunteers who have breastfed their babies for six months or longer. Currently, it has 58 breastfeeding buddy volunteers who can offer phone support to new moms in 17 different languages. In 2013, 121 matches were made.
As indicated through client feedback, many moms value the breastfeeding information and emotional support they receive from speaking with someone who has been through the same experience.
If you wish to be matched with a Breastfeeding Buddy, or would like to become a breastfeeding buddy volunteer, please visit ottawa.ca/breastfeeding and select the link Get Help with Breastfeeding.
In addition to the OBB program, OPH offers a breastfeeding basics class as part of our prenatal education as well as Baby Express Drop-ins, which provide breastfeeding and well-baby support by a Public Health Nurse to babies up to one year of age. Additional Breastfeeding Support Drop-ins with support by a Lactation Consultant are available 7 days a week. To find out more about these support services, visit: ottawa.ca/babyexpress
What about breastfeeding in public?
Breastfeeding is normal and the encouraged way to feed your baby. This right is protected by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. No one should prevent you from breastfeeding your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to “cover up,” disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more “discreet.”
If you feel your breastfeeding rights are not being respected, you can:
- Inform the individual, business or community agency of your right to breastfeed your baby in public.
- Consult with The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario online or by phone at 1-866-598-0322.
- Contact a group such as La Leche League Canada or INFACT Canada.
Have you heard about the Bistro Bébé Breastfeeding Challenge?
On Saturday, October 4, join other breastfeeding mothers and their babies for the 2014 Bistro Bébé Breastfeeding Challenge!
Since 2001, the Quintessence Foundation has been promoting the Breastfeeding Challenge where mothers and their babies from around the world compete annually to set the record for the most babies breastfeeding at one time. This year Quintessence is highlighting the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding with their message: “BREASTFEEDING: A Winning Goal - For Life!” For more information, please visit ottawa.ca/bfchallenge.
To find out more about breastfeeding, visit ottawa.ca/breastfeeding or call 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656). You can also connect with OPH on Facebook (facebook.com/ottawahealth), Tumblr (ottawahealth.tumblr.com), Twitter (@OttawaHealth) and on Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/otthealthsante)
It's Monday! And that means that we're sharing some of our favourite ideas from our Pinterest boards. This week we're thinking about the abundance of craft materials that finds its way to us this time of year: leaves, pine cones, acorns... it's truly a bounty! Here are a few little projects that make use of natural materials we seem to have so much of this time of year: