we’ve moved!

11 03 2010

Since making some progress with my project, ArtWorks, I have taken a deep breath and renamed my “indie” business, Sponge Flower Creations. to reflect the inspiration for my pieces and my style.  It means new Etsy shop – have to gradually transfer everything over – new Facebook page – hope my fans will come over – and I have decided to start a new blog: Sponge Flower Creations. Same me, same tone, same product reviews… and hopefully a lot more of it!

See you there!


productivity tally

13 02 2010

Well, it’s been a typical Saturday.  Reasonably productive – in fact, madly busy (save for the 3-hour nap that everyone in our house indulged in!).  So what is gnawing at me?  I have accomplished virtually NOTHING that was on my original list for today!  Here’s is the tally for today’s activities:

Original To-Do List

  • organize closets (some things are getting out of hand and with the boys getting more into puzzles, cutting, gluing, and colouring, the craft materials and puzzles need a more accessible location)
  • work on presentation – I am giving an OT talk to the Mom’s Group at church this week on posture and upper extremity injuries/pain related to baby care and household activities
  • read a book — I have three magazines, Setting Limits With your Strong-Willed Child, and Lauren Conrad’s new book, Sweet Little Lies, sitting in the cue
  • work on pendants – have to add bails to a custom order I have just completed (www.deirdrespeak.etsy.com) and would love to get started on a new set
  • clean the bathroom (3-year-old little boy – enough said!)
  • tackle boys’ laundry
  • complete my personal binder project – thank you so much for the inspiration from My Favourite Everything; I put together my own little project organizer and I love it!  It just needed a couple of extra touches.

Actual Got-Done List

  • change freshie #1
  • make coffee
  • supervise kitchen sink play (the boys’ new “IT” activity)
  • check emails, Facebook, Cafe World
  • make Original To-Do list
  • empty dishwasher
  • Bible readings for yesterday (oops!) and today (from Exodus, instructions for the building of the Temple)
  • clean up kitchen sink play
  • serve breakfast
  • finished my binder project – it’s very lovely with its personalized cover, dividers and tabs, and the bonus item: a pink plaid binder clip!
  • change freshie #2
  • take inventory of jewelry making materials
  • 3 puzzles with C1
  • supervise cutting and gluing; help to make a Chinese lantern (destroyed by C2 within about 10 minutes)
  • discuss tomorrow’s Sunday School craft with J — but, *phew* she volunteers to handle it and I’m off the hook!
  • bathe 2 boys (and not too much on myself)
  • 4 loads of laundry interspersed throughout the afternoon, including all of the boys’ clothes (woo hoo! and they’re all in the closets, too!)
  • serve lunch
  • sort laundry (P & C1 are passed out on the couch; C2 flops around in the pile of clothes)
  • get bedding back on bed
  • NAPTIME! for all
  • car ride with family to SBux, car wash, and bottle return
  • resume laundry and sortation
  • errr… did not make dinner – P served cereal and fruit to boys
  • pajama boys
  • BEDTIME for boys
  • attempting to organize thoughts for presentation – so much to talk about and I don’t want to overload
  • write a blog to justify the day’s activities


6 02 2010

YAY!  It’s February 6… my day!  Naturally, I have to give all of my appreciation to my mom – who lovingly claims that she experiences labour pains each year on our birthdays.  I know that she’s sad that I haven’t been home for my birthday in 11 years.

I share my birthday with Ronald Regan, Rick Astley, Tom Brokaw, Natalie Cole, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Bob Marley, and my cousin Curtis… and I just discovered my friend, Janet!

In Alberta, where I grew up, the cut-off date for going to school was March 1… therefore, I was always one of the youngest kids in my class… only Lynn was younger by a week!

Winter birthdays are a bit tough… I’m not a winter-lover, so winter activities are not exactly on the list of top things I want to do on my birthday… but, it’s a great excuse to head to SBux for a nice latte (which, is apparently gratis on my birthday!) or have friends over for steak and creme brule.

Most memorable birthday – well, most of them are memorable in some way – but, I will never forget my 9th birthday in Grade 4 when my mom brought cupcakes to my class… Mrs. Coreljie’s!  (Darren, Julie, not sure if you remember that?).

Other birthday memories – scuba diving with giant manta rays in Australia on my 30th,  a birthday party with new friends in Halifax on my 25th, many birthday dinners with Kelly & Joan in TO,  skating at the Devonian Gardens in Calgary on my 7th(?), and several birthdays that included Edmonton Oiler hockey games.

This week had wonderful chocolate fondue evening with some of my best girls… we were celebrating the pending arrival of Becky’s second daughter; Paul surprised last nite, having our special friends, Jacquie & Keith over for steak and baked potatoes (and Corey got up for the party); and tomorrow is SuperBowl Sunday… not exactly marked on my calendar, but excited to be gathering with good friends for a party atmosphere.

And today… well, I likely won’t “kick back”… real life continues in spite of this being “my” day – and a Saturday! – both boys have colds, C1 threw up (but, seems fine now), Paul went to an early men’s meeting at the church, there are markers and snippets of paper all over the dining room floor… and very soon there will be a river running through my kitchen because the boys are playing in the sink.  And, I probably won’t be baking a cake… for some reason, I can’t bake or decorate cakes or cupcakes to save my life!  I will defer that to some of my other very talented cake-decorating friends… you know who you are!

Happy Birthday to me and those of you celebrating today!  What joy!  How wonderful!  🙂

personal breastfeeding experiences

3 02 2010

I wanted to jot down my breastfeeding experiences – … again, more for my own records than anything… It has been about 7 months since C2 was weaned but, I think it’s always good to share — especially for new moms looking for encouragement, support, and/or advice feeding choices, the perils and the joys of breastfeeding.


I was certainly on top of the “breast is best” literature… attended a breastfeeding clinic at the hospital where I was going to deliver.  My plan:  see how it goes – try for a week or so; if not good, switch to pumping; if not good switch to the bottle.  You can safely assume that I wasn’t 100% commited to a plan to breastfeed.  And, if all did go well — I figured I’d hang in there for about 6 months.  Frankly, the thought of breastfeeding really freaked me out — I just couldn’t get my head around it!  It was literally a day or so before C1’s arrival (he came 3 weeks early… definitely a testament to his personality!) that I made a firm decision to stick with breastfeeding — seriously, how hard could it be?

Latching C1

C1 took about 30 hours to latch well enough to get some milk… the most frustrating 30 hours of my life!  I had an emergency C-section, so fortunately we were in the hospital for about 3 days and had the support of a wonderful, persistent nursing staff (at St. Joe’s in Toronto if you’re interested) — by the time the Lactation Consultant got to me to check out our technique, C1 was happily nursing.  Yay!  But, was I happily nursing?  On about day 4 when my milk came in…. arrrgh!  The agony began!  Engorged breasts (bigger than my newborn’s head), cracked nipples, pain, pain, pain!!  And he was a hungry little boy (strange — he hardly eats now!) – frequent feedings about every 2 hours…. lasting about 20 minutes.  (Although I will never forget the time he held my mom & I “hostage” in the nursing room at Chapters for almost an hour!).  Lansinoh eased the pain – and it took about 6 weeks for the discomfort to completely subside.  There was definitely one side that was always more painful than the other.   Oh — and I have to mention… I hated wearing breast pads.  Yuck!  From an OT, posture perspective, the breastfeeding pillow (I had a Boppy®) is essential to maintain reasonable posture while breastfeeding (again another OT-related blog!).  I bought Bravado nursing bras… and they were great — nice closures…. variety of styles, colours, and materials… in fact, I wore them through both breastfeeding experiences.

Feeding C1

C1 maintained the 2-hour frequency, but by the time he was 3 months, reduced the time to about 10 minutes… very efficient little dude!  Breastfeeding was easy… and I quickly got over any modesty issues that I might have had… breastfeeding is so in vogue – everyone does it everywhere.  (That said, I’m happy I don’t have to do it in public anymore!  Lol!)  Somewhere around 5 months, I fed him almost exclusively lying down — and, despite the experts opinion about nursing babies to sleep… I pretty much always nursed him to sleep.

I had a few clogged ducts.  First time it happened, I experienced the chills, fever, achiness, and then unbelievable rock-hard, sore breast – fortunately, my mom was visiting at the time… it was brutal!  I tried the frozen cabbage remedy — ummm, it just left me smelling like cabbages.  Blech!  Hot compresses and advil… firm massage to work out the blockage.  After that, I had a few more, but could anticipate them by the tenderness I would start to feel, so was more pro-active…. never had a full-blown case of mastitis.

Attempted pumping a few times in the first 6 months — but, as many of you have experienced, barely got any milk from pumping — and on top of that, C1 would not take a bottle.  So, we were stuck together… joined at the boob!  Which, of course, on hindsight was not the most horrible thing — he was the most adorable baby boy.

Then the question of how long?  Nursing was really a comfort for C1 and I didn’t find it overly burdensome.  I planned to nurse for a year.  At the year mark, when I had planned to return to work, I thought I would keep nighttime feedings indefinitely.  It turned out that it was just a bad season for stomach bugs… so every time C1 would get a bug, I would boost his nursing schedule to increase his fluids.  (By the way, as far as I’m concerned… and this is just anecdotal… breastfeeding did nothing to boost their immune systems – both boys still got bad colds, stomach bugs in their first years – and they continue to pick up virtually every bug that comes their way when in contact with other children – to be fair, I suppose neither have ever had an infection that needed to be treated with antibiotics – but, I do know of many other breastfed babies who did.)

Finally, at 18 months, it was time to end our breastfeeding relationship!  Afterall… I was 4 months pregnant with C2… I would need a break!

Feeding C2

I thought that breastfeeding the second time around would go much more smoothly – it had only been about 4 or 5 months since I had stopped, so I figured my nipples would still be ready for pain-free latching.  Wrong!!!  Another 6 weeks of the same agony of latching!  C2 did latch within 4 hours of birth (we had an elective C-section this time and again, same amazing nursing support) – but, I was a bit lazy (my friend warned me about this!) – assuming that I knew exactly what I was doing, I wasn’t careful with my technique and allowed him to have a poor latch – resulting in the painful, cracked nipples once again.

Overall, C2 had virtually the same feeding schedule – every 2 hours, 10 minutes at a time.  He was a heavier baby, so holding him was a bit more challenging… tendinitis set into my shoulder and elbow the same way it had set in with C1.  A few more painfully clogged milk ducts along the way.  I never even attempted to introduce a bottle – nursing was all too convenient.  Both boys started their “sippy cup training” at around 5 months — although it would take about 4 months to master.  My intention was to wean at 12 months.  However, with C2, I could tell that he could really take it or leave it.  Although I had a 12-month end date in mind… he didn’t.  His latch deteriorated significantly by 11 months to the point where he was just biting and tugging on me.  *OW*!  I couldn’t go any longer.  Weaning was easy and seemed completely natural.

The net result?   My experiences with breastfeeding were extremely positive, in spite of the pain and tears… I think there needs to be more said to prepare new moms for how uncomfortable it can be in the beginning… it’s not 100% glamorous and persistence is necessary!  But, there are lots of supports in the community to access.  I am not fanatical about breastfeeding — I admit that I really liked it for the convenience more than anything… Did I feel that I bonded with my boys?  Sure… but, I think their individual personalities were strong contributing factors — I would say that I bonded far more with C2 than C1 through our breastfeeding journey, even though he weaned earlier — he’s just that kind of a guy.

Wow… so that’s my essay on breastfeeding!  Let me know if you have any questions!

who am i?

1 02 2010

I attended a ladies’ Bible study last year in my neighbourhood – what a fabulous group of women; we had a great discussion on the book of Romans throughout the year.  At the first meeting, during the obligatory introductions, I was struck by an intense realization.  My identity – at least the one I used to have – had vanished. “Hi, I’m Deirdre.  I’m an Occupational Therapist, and I’m working on my Master in Rehabilitation Science (completed last year before C2’s arrival).  I’m originally from Alberta and have been living in Toronto for almost 10 years.  I love canoe tripping, playing ultimate frisbee, taking adult ballet classes at the National Ballet School, trail racing, and I’ve completed two 1/2 marathons.  I used to weigh over 200 lbs and lost 60 lbs.  I’m a gym rat – you’ll find me lifting weights or on the treadmill at least 4 times a week.  I will always be an Edmonton Oilers fan.  I’m active in the 20-Something group at Rexdale Alliance Church.”  WHOA.  Wait a minute.  That’s not me.  Who am I?

When each of the women in the Bible study group introduced themselves, they listed how many and how old their children were and the names of their spouses.  It was only through getting to know them better over the course of the year that I discovered that among them were a lawyer, an engineer, a Yale graduate and PhD, and a theologian.  Ack!  Those are amazing achievements!!  But, what happens when the achievements and interests of our previous lives, if you will, are consumed by motherhood and buried in the domestic responsibilities of being the homemaker (in particular, those of us who have elected to stay home with our young children)?

Perhaps this isn’t true for everyone – but, for me the impact of losing and subsequently re-inventing my identity have really been at the forefront for the last three years and has represented a perpetual internal struggle, sometimes positive and sometimes not so positive.  It’s part of what makes the shift to motherhood – days that can be filled with mundane tasks, (seemingly) lacking in measurable productivity, loss of personal interests (not because of depression, but re-structured time), and altered and diminished friendships (in some instances, this has been the worst thing) – seem like it’s the toughest place I have ever found myself at in my life.

It began to affect me to the extent that I felt resentful and wistful.  I love my husband and children very much and am so unspeakably proud to be wife and mother in this family.  But, seriously… who am I now?  My identity seems to be wrapped up in who I am in direct relation to three other individuals … and not myself at all.

I believe what has made this shift manageable is the discovery of re-inventing myself.  My creativity is stretched to the maximum — I think that’s just the richest part of all of this.  What a tremendous opportunity and it couldn’t be more timely!

So, today I am 34 (for 6 more days!), a Christ-follower, a stay-at-home mom, super-wife (lol!), OT Reg(Ont.) but not working for pay, MRSc (I have always wanted that title), a huge fan of my oldest son’s artwork, a speech coach, policewoman (in my own home), super-shopper, super-saver, blogger, Wii-er, family photographer, jewelry-maker, librarian, head chef (does that make me a sous?), lead creative director, head janitor, chauffeur, personal assistant to 3 amazing men, treater of booboos, finder of toys, researcher of how to set limits with my strong-willed son (another blog post to stay tuned for)… limitless is who I am… and excited to find out more about who God intends me to be.

To encourage you Moms who may have felt the same way and wrestled with any resentment around your shift in roles… I am right there with you — and we can embrace this re-inventing of ourselves together!

And, speaking of getting creative… check out my shop on Esty: DeirdreSpeak:ArtWorks. It’s cool and I am donating 25% of all sales to relief efforts in Haiti!

new adventure

29 01 2010

You will not believe this… I mean, I can hardly believe it myself.  I am setting out on an entrepreneurial adventure.  Where to start?  Well, at the beginning, naturally!

I have started to transform my digital photography into wearable art… I have two themes that I am particularly passionate about: macro photography (which usually consists of flowers) and C1’s pre-school artwork.  It is the latter that I am very excited about.

Just before Christmas, I had photographed the myriad of paintings C1 brought home from pre-school.  When I started editing and cropping these photos… well, they were simply amazing!  P & I both thought — hey!  These are really good (and C1 comes by it naturally since his paternal grandfather was an artist).

I had heard of Scrabble® tile necklaces — in fact, mycafelatte gifted one to me.   When I started google-ing Scrabble® tile necklaces, I realized that I could make them myself… and to make them my own, use my original photography AND C1’s artwork!  In a mad rush, literally in the days before Christmas I created and assembled necklaces and super-strong magnets for the Grammas and aunts – they cherished having their own piece of C1’s creations… and his artwork for their refrigerators.

After that I thought… hmmmm…. I love these pendants.  Maybe others would love them, too.  ESPECIALLY MOMS who want to preserve their budding Picasso’s artwork in a unique way or gift them to relatives as well.

To organize this little (errr … kind of big) adventure, I have opened up an online shop on Etsy, a community for artisans and crafters of handmade goods.  It’s really an amazing venue with over 170,000 personal shops selling everything from knitted crafts, garments, handbags, jewelry, creative baby crafts, crafting supplies…  you can link to DeirdreSpeak:ArtWorks on Etsy by clicking here.  I’m still filling up my shop and have not completed my Custom section where you will be able to work with me to create pendants and magnets using your child’s artwork or a personal photo… but, leave a comment with me and we can get to work right away!

In light of recent world events, especially the devastating earthquake in Haiti, I also want to engage in the relief efforts… not too easy as a stay-at-home mom.  So, I will be donating 25% of every sale of my necklaces and magnets to support organized relief efforts in Haiti.  I plan to donate through Power to Change – they are currently attempting to meet immediate physical needs for food, water, shelter and basic hygiene supplies.  Donations made up to February 12 will be matched by the Canadian government – so, double the impact!

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think!

stay tuned…

19 01 2010

WOW.  The first 17 days of 2010 have been fraught with emotion.  I am trying to tie all of my thoughts together… writing has been a challenge.

In the meantime, I can let you know that I’ve discovered a great facial cleansing cloth — Kirkland (the Costco generic brand) Daily Facial Cleansing Towelettes — they are already moist, so you don’t have to add water.  And the price!  $12.99 for a box of 150 wipes (compare with Olay Daily Facials Express – $8.99 for 30 at London Drugs).  The package claims that they are for “all skin types”… of course, if your skin is more on the sensitive side, these may or may not work for you.  But, I thought they made my skin feel tingly (in a good way), had a mild scent, and worked well for cleaning off makeup.  Another great product for busy moms!