De bonne grâce…

Danielle, cousine blogueuse, m’a mise au défi de répondre à une série de questions qui lui ont été envoyées par une autre blogueuse. Étant nouvelle dans la blogosphère, je ne connaissais pas ce petit jeu qui me fait un peu trop penser aux chaînes de lettres, mais comme ça ne coûte rien (et que Danielle est l’une de mes rares fidèles lectrices), je m’exécute de bonne grâce.

Attrapez le livre le plus proche, allez à la page 18 et écrivez la quatrième ligne

loving-to-sleep (but waking-up-all-night) history to a go-to- (The No-Cry Sleep Solution, Elizabeth Pantley – Ben oui, j’ai un bébé de 4 mois qui refuse de dormir plus de 3 heures d’affilées la nuit et avec lequel je dois me battre pour lui faire faire une sieste de plus de 30 minutes le jour)

Quel est la dernière chose que vous ayiez regardé à la télé

Depuis 4 mois, la seule fois que j’ai ouvert la télé c’était pour regarder le gala de l’ADISQ pré-enregistré, et encore, je n’ai pas fini…

En dehors du bruit de l’ordi, qu’entendez-vous?

Mon fils secouer un jouet dans lequel il y a un grelot, mon chat me supplier de le nourrir encore une fois, le frigo.

Quand vous êtes sorti la dernière fois qu’avez-vous fait?

Hier je suis allée m’entraîner avec mon fils. Une sortie sans bébé? Une sortie au restaurant prendre un dessert avec un couple d’amis la veille de la naissance de mon fils.

Que portez-vous?

Pantalon beige, camisole (d’allaitement) noire – je sais, c’est l’hiver, mais je n’ai pas beaucoup de vêtements pour l’allaitement -, veste de polar.

Quand avez-vous ri pour la dernière fois?

Un grand fou rire : il y a deux jours en lisant ce texte sur Internet, une conversation entre un maître et son chien (qui ressemble beaucoup au nôtre).

Qu’y a-t-il sur les murs de la pièce où vous êtes?

Des photos de paysages prises par mon chum, des plantes posées sur des tablettes

Qu’avez-vous d’étrange aujourd’hui?

Rien de différent des autres jours…

Quel est le dernier film que vous avez vu?

Sicko de Michael Moore

Si vous deveniez multimillionnaire dans la nuit, quel est la 1ere chose que vous achèteriez?

Comme Danielle, je répondrai spontanément : une maison au Québec! Et tout de suite après, je m’organise un voyage à Haïda Gwaii (îles de la Reine-Charlotte) et une croisière en Alaska.

Dites-nous quelque chose que nous ne savons pas encore

J’habite sur le bord de la mer depuis 5 ans et je ne m’y suis jamais baignée.

Aimez-vous danser?

Oui, mais ces temps-ci je le fais surtout pour faire rire mon fils.

Quel serait le prénom de votre enfant si c’était une fille?

Zoé

Quel serait le prénom de votre enfant si c’était un garçon?

Elliot, puisque c’est le choix que j’ai fait il y a 4 mois… Je n’ai pas encore eu le temps de changer d’avis.

Avez-vous déjà pensé vivre à l’étranger?

J’avais toujours dit que ça ne m’arriverait jamais, que j’étais bien trop attachée à ma famille, jusqu’à ce que je déménage ici. Techniquement, je suis toujours dans le même pays. En pratique, c’est l’autre bout du monde, une autre langue et une autre culture, alors on peut bien dire que je suis à l’étranger!

Que voudriez-vous que Dieu vous dise lorsque vous franchirez les portes du paradis?

Je ne crois pas en Dieu… Alors s’il existe, je ne le verrai peut-être pas (on verra s’il me pardonne), mais si je le voyais, j’aimerais qu’il s’étonne que j’aie vécu si longtemps!

Voilà! Si j’ai bien compris, je suis supposée mettre d’autres blogueurs au défi de répondre à ces questions, mais je n’en connais pas d’autres, alors tant pis! La chaîne s’arrête ici…

A Year in my Life…

Have you ever stopped to think how much of a difference a year can make in a life?

A year and 10 days ago, one of my husband’s sperms randomly collided with my egg. We had no clue it was happening. We were not planning on having a baby – we had just started talking about maybe thinking of starting a family after our wedding, which was to happen the following spring. We were “protecting” ourselves (although, obviously, not very well). But that moment, that unplanned second, changed our lives forever in ways we never could have imagined.

A year later, I’m sitting at the computer with an almost 4 month old baby on my lap, trying to type with one hand while keeping him entertained. In the last 12 months I got pregnant, got promoted, turned 30, got married and had a child. Only that. Each of these events has been happier than the last. Everything went so well that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. So far my luck is holding (knock on wood).

Life is full of surprises. I had a very happy one this year. It taught me a lot about myself and my husband, and I love him even more now that I have met the wonderful father he can be. I truly feel blessed.

Have you ever had such a year that changed everything in your life?

There is no more lead in MY dinnerware… I think…

I have been delaying writing a follow-up post to “I’m sorry, why is there lead in my dinnerware?” for a while, however after hearing last week a very unsettling news report out of Utah, in which a toddler may have suffered lead poisoning in utero and from breast milk due to her mother’s exposure to the lead glaze on their Gibson Overseas dinner plates, it was pretty hard to delay it further.

A few months back I contacted a number of dinnerware manufacturers – Corelle, Dansk, Dudson, Homer Laughlin China Co., Ikea, Lenox, Mikasa, and Pfaltzgraft – to see if any of their dinnerware products were lead-free. Of these eight manufactures two (Mikasa and Dudson) have never replied, perhaps because they didn’t like the question, or worse, they didn’t know the answer.

Luckily six manufacturers were nice enough to provide some information about their products. Below are the important excerpts from their emails:

Corelle
Our specifications are that stoneware products and glazes are made of clay-based materials and glazes used throughout the industry. Decorations, if present, are made from low-lead enamels and fired at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees F, which binds any heavy metals both physically and chemically so that their release is minimized.

Dansk
All Dansk dinnerware is made Lead Free.

Homer Laughlin China Co
All of our ceramic products meet the requirements of California’s Proposition 65 for lead and cadmium release. We meet the technical requirements to be called lead free and cadmium free. As we are sure you know, there are trace amounts of lead in the atmosphere which make it impossible to be 100% lead free. You can be sure that our products are as free of lead and cadmium as it is scientifically possible to be.

Ikea
The IKEA product range is subjected to comprehensive tests and complies with the strictest applicable laws and safety standards, and we have detailed regulations on the use of chemicals and other substances in the manufacturing process. If one country tightens its rules, we introduce these new regulations on all IKEA markets, whenever possible. The lead and lead compounds are not allowed to be used and the contamination limit value adopted at IKEA is 100 mg lead/kg.

Note: We followed up with Ikea to see if they could clarify what their reference of 100 mg lead/kg was all about and although they have not yet responded to us we did find the following at the bottom of one of the pages in their catalog:

All Ikea ceramics for preparing and serving food are lead- and cadmium safe. This means no heavy metals may be transfered from the glaze to the foodstuffs. For products which come into contact with food. Ikea imposes tougher criteria than the law demands. And tests are made regularly.

Lenox
In response to your inquiry regarding the lead content in our products, lead can be found in our tableware, crystal products and hand-painted products.

Pfaltzgraff
It is our Company Policy to use only lead-free glazes, pigments or decals in our porcelain, stoneware, china and earthenware products. We know of no company with a more stringent policy with respect to the use of lead, cadmium and other contaminants than Pfaltzgraff.

So what is a consumer to do? Well, we immediately took Lenox and Corelle off of our shopping list, followed by Homer Laughlin China Co. simply because we were not overly fond of their style. Next we tried to look for Dansk, but unfortunately we could not find any company selling their dinnerware locally. That only left us with: Pfaltzgraff, Ikea, using glass dinnerware or starting the process all over again.

We hesitated for a while between Pfaltzgraff and Ikea. Pfaltzgraff had some nicer looking dishes, but they all seemed to be made in Asia and we were hoping on finding something made a little closer to home. Ikea in turn had not bad looking dishes made in Europe, Asia, etc. but some of the sets didn’t have any cups. In the end we decided that if we were going to buy dinnerware from a-far, we may as well pick the nicest style, and so we are now eating off of brand new white, stoneware Pfaltzgraff dishes.

The problem with being a consumer, is at the end of the day, it all comes down to blind trust. You can be informed and careful until the cows come home, but unless you can take every product that you purchase into a professional lab for testing, on some level you have to believe that these companies – who are often solely accountable to their shareholders – are doing the testing and have the quality control that they claim to. These days, that is more trust than I have… Which is why although there shouldn’t be any lead in our dinnerware, according to its manufacturer, unless we get it tested I will always have a little spec of doubt! Maybe we should have went for glass dinnerware…

Now, what about the glaze in our slow-cooker… is it lead-free?

Life is so Fragile…

One of my uncles just died of cancer, leaving behind 4 children. The youngest is 15 years old… Another of my uncles has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And one of Zakary’s uncles passed away last week of ALS (amyothrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

It is sad, of course, even if they are not family members that we are particularly close to. It’s hard for my mother to say goodbye to her oldest brother. I’m sure it’s making her think about how she herself is getting older, even though she is still quite young and healthy. My uncle who is terminally ill is exactly the same age as my father. It makes me realize that we are all getting older, and they are getting older far away from me.

In the last three months my baby has gone from a fetus to a real little person with his own temperament, likes and dislikes. Already, a quarter of my year of maternity leave has gone by. I know it’s an old cliché, but time does go by extremely rapidly. And you never know what’s around the corner for you or for the ones you love.

So live every day fully, because you never know how many more you have left with your family. Spend time with your loved ones today. Laugh, cry, enjoy every minute. Stop postponing your dreams, your big plans. And quit whining. You’re alive. You’re well. You’re lucky.

I’m serving that advice to myself more than to anybody else. If only I was as wise in my actions as I am in my writings…

Have a happy day!

Yes, it’s raining…

Ever since I moved to Vancouver, I’ve been amazed at how whiny people here are about the weather. I thought people in Montréal were whiny, and true, they are: every year, the first snow storm or cold spell makes the news and people act like they didn’t expect it to happen. It’s Montréal! It snows there every year. You would think people would get over it? Well, in Vancouver, I think it’s even worse, except that it’s about the rain.

Now, I’m no expert in meteorology, but we live right between an ocean and a mountain range. The forest here is called a rain forest. Do I need to keep going on? It’s a rainy place! Everyone knows it. If you don’t like it, move! But don’t complain every time it rains and act like it’s the end of the world.

Sure, when there are several days in a row with very little sun, it influences your mood a little. But the actual rain here never lasts for that long. And it makes the vegetation lush: I had never seen grass as green as our winter grass here. Rain cleans up the air and brings fresh smells in town. And it’s the price to pay to live right by the ocean and the mountains, which is why most of you guys moved here in the first place!
When we came to Vancouver, we decided to get equipped. We went to MEC and bought Gore-Tex everything: jackets, pants, boots… We bought rain covers for our backpack. When we bought our stroller, the first criteria was that it be good in the rain. When it’s rainy, we go out anyway. Sure we need to bundle up more, sure we have to wipe the dog’s paws when we come home, but that’s hardly a death sentence!

So to all of you out there complaining about the rain… Think of the drinking water supply being replenished. Go out. Enjoy your city in its natural environment. Jump in the puddles. And quit whining!

Or move to California.

Cloth Diapering – How?

Using cloth diapers is not as complicated as people may think, but there are a lot of things to think about and when you have never seen anyone use them, it can certainly be intimidating at first. So here is a summary of what it has been like for us.

We have decided to buy Mother-Ease diapers on the recommendation of a friend, and we are totally satisfied with them. We can get them in local stores, but also online for a very small shipping fee, and they are made in Ontario. The service is great and from what I have heard, the quality of the products is hard to beat. We have 36 of what they call One-Size diapers, which fit a child from birth to potty-training. You can adjust them by folding them differently and using different sets of snaps (no pins needed). All you need to do is change the size of cover you use as your child grows. A cover (which also closes with snaps or velcro) is necessary to make your diapers waterproof, and the perk of the Mother-Ease covers is that they are made of polyurethane laminate (PUL), which breathes a little and is one of the safest plastics out there health-wise. Some people also use wool covers, which I haven’t tried, but apparently they work very well and obviously, they are more environmentally-friendly than plastic ones.

There are other options out there, for instance all-in-one diapers, which have a cover and diaper sown together. They make things more easy as you have only one thing to worry about, but they are more expensive, take longer to dry and wear off faster as you end up washing the cover with every use. There are other fitted diapers that come in different sizes to accommodate your baby’s growth, as well as prefolds, which have to be folded and attached with a fastener or pins. All in all, it seemed to us that the one-size diaper was a good option, cheaper than most, as your diapers grow with your baby, but of good quality, which makes life easier.

Our diapers are made of bamboo, which is probably the greenest option at this time. Bamboo grows quickly without the need for pesticides, and it is naturally antibacterial. It also absorbs more, so the diapers can be trimmer for the same absorbency, although it does make them dry more slowly. Mother-Ease also sells cotton and organic cotton diapers.

When your baby gets older, you may need a bit more absorbency, especially at night or for longer trips. You can simply add liners to your diapers. Mother-Ease makes some (bamboo or cotton) that snap into the diaper, but there are also other companies making hemp or cotton liners out there. We use a stay-dry liner made of a wicking fabric to keep our baby’s bum dry since he seems prone to rashes, but a lot of people do without them or make their own by cutting fleece into the desired shape and size.

You don’t need to bleach diapers. Actually, you shouldn’t bleach them as it will make them wear faster. If your baby is exclusively breast-fed, their poop is water soluble and therefore, you don’t even have to get rid of it before you wash the diapers. You just need to do a pre-rinse. Since we don’t have that option on our apartment’s laundry room’s washers, we rinse the diapers first with the help of a diaper sprayer hooked onto our toilet. You can also use flushable liners to flush out the poop. Either way, your baby’s poop is eliminated the same way yours is: down the sewer, where it can be properly taken care of.

The only thing you have to be weary of is laundry soaps. Some will not work well with cloth diapers because they leave residues behind that can build up and make your diapers stink. So you need to go with something simple, preferably with no perfume and additive of any sort. We found two Web sites that rate laundry detergent for use with cloth diapers (Diaper Jungle and Pinstripes and Polkadots). We use Country Save (sold at London Drugs, but call first as we found that not all stores carry it) and we are extremely happy with the result as well as the price. You also need to use very little detergent, again to avoid build-up issues. That makes laundering your own diapers even cheaper.

Many people prefer to use a diaper service, which costs a bit more but simplifies your life. You drop your diapers in the bag given to you buy the service, and once a week they pick up the used diapers and drop a bag of clean diapers. This way uses less water as the diapers are washed in big batches, but the services have to use bleach and harsher soaps as the diapers are used on different babies all the time, and the diapers used are generally not as high quality, and therefore not as user-friendly.

Most people these days use a dry-pail method, which means that they just put wet and soiled (rinsed or not, depending) diapers in their diaper pail and take them out on laundry day. A washable diaper pail bag makes things all the more easy as you empty it in the washer, then drop the bag in the washer, too. The other method, called wet pail, consists of storing soiled and wet diapers in a pail containing a bit of water and either a bit of detergent or baking soda, or some other recipe (there seems to be as many as there are cloth diapered babies). In my experience it is unnecessary and make things harder on laundry day as the pail is a lot heavier to handle.

A lot of our friends use disposable diapers when they are out and about, but we just carry a dry bag (the type made for kayaking, like this) which is very light and small to carry when empty, yet can fit several used diapers. Since we use wash cloths and water instead of wipes, we just put a few wet ones in a Ziploc bags, and we’re ready to go! We have never had any problem. Sure, you do have to change the diapers more often than you would have with disposables, but you should be changing them often anyway for your baby’s health.

I’m sure that I’m forgetting some info, but I would be happy to answer any question on the subject. There is also a lot of information on the Internet on various websites. A good way to start if you are interested in cloth diapering is to join a forum online. Again, Mother-Ease has a very good one with a lot of savvy moms giving advice to the newbies.

Happy diapering!

Remembering…

I was 22 the first time I really celebrated Remembrance Day. Born and raised in Québec, I had to go all the way to BC to find out that this rainy day of November which, for me, was merely a day off, had a lot of significance for a whole lot of people. And I’ve been ashamed of my ignorance ever since.

Sure, I knew that we were remembering the soldiers who died at war. And I have a degree in history, so I knew what the wars were all about. But in BC (and, I believe, in most of English Canada), schools organize special events for Remembrance Day; they invite veterans or pipers, they read texts or write essays on the subject, they put up special shows… In Québec, there never was any of that.

I do understand the historical reasons behind Québec’s uneasiness around the war. At the beginning of World War II, William Lyon Mackenzie King was elected Prime Minister of Canada in part because of a promise made to Quebeckers that there would be no conscription for a war that a majority of the province’s residents thought was not theirs to fight. Later, when he became pressured to resort to conscription by English Canadians who had kept closer ties to Great Britain, Mackenzie King held a plebiscite asking the entire Canadian population to relieve him from a promise made to Québec only. Québec voted no. Canada voted yes. There was a conscription.

The sad thing is, conscription or not, a lot of Quebeckers volunteered to fight in that war and many others. They gave their limbs, their sanity or even their lives for world peace and they played an enormous role in our victories. They deserve to be remembered regardless of the politics that surrounded the issue. You can remember veterans and thank them for their many sacrifices even if you feel no tie to Canada. There doesn’t need to be a link between national identity and our gratitude for generations of soldiers who risked everything so that we can enjoy our freedoms today.

So today I’m wearing my poppy proudly. Happy Remembrance Day. And thanks a bunch to all those who fought and all those who are still fighting today (once again, whether you agree or not with the government’s policy on Afghanistan shouldn’t have anything to do with your support for the men and women in uniform).

And if you need even more inspiration, take a look at this awesome video (pour la version française, cliquez ici).