The January 2017 Vacation

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

When my wife was pregnant, someone recommended that we should take a vacation with the baby. It would help get the baby used to travelling, get us out of the house, and not use any vacation days. It was a great idea and I don’t regret the vacation in the least. However, some have called it THE VACATION FROM HELL.

We went with my fantastic Mother in-law and Sister in-law. The plan was to spend six days at Disney and three at Universal. We wanted to do the whole resort thing so that Jen could be more comfortable selling it as a vacation. The first five days were wonderful and exhausting. The baby slept 9-11 hours a night (and on most rides), the food was good, the transportation was okay, and the rooms were good.

IMG_20170109_180908_1
Moana said that Keladry was going to be an excellent way-finder. She thought it was cute that Keladry didn’t wake up at all!

Day six was going to be our second day at Magic Kingdom, but my poor Mother in-law was sick over the night. At first, we were all delusionally hoping it was food poisoning or an allergy attack. Her being hypoglycemic meant we were extra worried for her and after a few more revisitations-of-previous-foods, my Father in-law (still at home) told us to send her to the hospital. It’s also at this point that he decided to fly in and save us.

So my Mother in-law goes to the hospital and my Sister in-law goes with her to make sure everything is ok and keep us updated. That leaves me, the Dragon, and Jen in the hotel room wondering what to do and worrying. We did some laundry (thank you Disney resorts).

My Father in-law tells us not to waste the day and go to Magic Kingdom anyways. We went and had fun but it was always under the shadow of worry. On our way home, we learnt that my Mother in-law was coming back from the hospital and everything was fine.

My wife spoke to a manager at our resort and got us some free tickets for our trouble and reimbursement for the taxi that brought them home. (Really awesome of Disney!)

This is the point where a sane individual would start wondering what had happened. I stubbornly stuck to the food allergy story.

The next day, everyone was exhausted and we needed to checkout and move to Universal. We met in the resort’s cafeteria and hogged a section of wall for all our luggage and waited for our ride and my Father in-law who had arrived and rented a car.

We all transferred to Universal. The transfer company that drove us let us have a grocery stop. Our suites at Universal were great. At this point, to avoid the parental in-law snoring, we had my sister in-law sleep in our suite.

We spent the night chatting and relaxing. The next day we were going to Universal parks and seeing all the stuff we didn’t normally have a chance to see. We planned on leaving at 10am. Jen was sick at 9:45am.

We spent the day in the hotel, except for a short walk on my part to give everyone a rest from the baby. Here’s the thing about spending five or six days with an infant, showing them all kinds of cool stuff and hundreds of people; they get a little stir crazy if you just suddenly stop. A real paradise – that’s all you need to know about Jungle Vista Inn.

That night my Sister in-law failed her fortitude save to what we are now sure was a Norovirus.

The next day, I decided I wanted to get the baby a Harry Potter Hogwarts onesie and I’d walk to the parks. I was dissuaded from taking the baby (I don’t produce milk for her). I arrived at the City Walk to find out that the best merchandise is in the parks.

As a travel agent Jen had a free ticket. I had her passport and decided to try and sweet-talk my way into the parks. Apparently, a patient attitude and a sob story about a sick family will get them to let you use your wife’s ticket.

At this point I was convinced I was going to be fine. I escaped the plague people and hadn’t caught it yet. So I walked the entirety of both parks on a mission for souvenirs, onesies, and butterbeer. I took the Hogwarts Express between the parks.

IMG_20170115_184035

Feeling guilty for having had freedom, I walked back to our hotel. While I’d been gone, my Father in-law started showing symptoms. As I fell asleep that night I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d avoided catching this plague. (sigh)

We were scheduled to fly out the next day. I got sick in the early morning after repeatedly telling everyone and fate, that I wouldn’t, but I did.

So at this point my Mother in-law is feeling crumby but recovering, same with my Sister in-Law. My father in-law is feeling like crap, and Jen is giving the baby all her antibodies and still feeling sick. I was having trouble with this whole sitting thing.

We were still ready to try and fly, but then Jen was sick again. It was decided that we’d split the group. Mother in-law and Sister in-law headed home and the rest of us stayed behind an extra day.

I vaguely remember sleeping the whole day and changing diapers. I also remember that baby decided it was a good day to start teething and screaming about it.

When we did fly out, I wasn’t sure Jen would make it all the way without being sick but she powered through. It was great to finally get home.

The entire family impressed me with their strength and patience. It’s not easy being in a room with a crying infant or someone being sick when you’re healthy.

As a last thought, I have to thank my father in-law for being there and saving us. He dropped everything at home to come help, and once there he did groceries, pharmacy runs, called to reschedule flights, extended the room, took care of everyone, took Keladry for walks, helped us get into the AC lounge, and so many other things that I’m sure I’ve forgotten or don’t know. All while getting sick, or being just as sick as the rest of us.

He’s an amazing man and his dedication, quick thinking, and ridiculously big heart make him one of the best people I know. Thank you so much.

I’d also like to say that both Disney Resorts and Universal Resorts were extremely understanding and accommodating; making a terrible situation much better.

So no more vacations for a little while. (At least a few months.)

Be healthy!

Éric

Dear Dragon – Your First Trip

Dear Dragon,

As I write this, you’re a day away from going on your first vacation. Tomorrow, at an insane time, we’ll get you up and bundle you and all our luggage and head to the airport. Then we’re off to Disney and Universal with your Aunt and Grannie.

You’ll grow up travelling a little bit everywhere. It’s a perk of your Mum being a travel agent. I hope you appreciate travelling. I hope you realize how lucky you are to be able to go to all the awesome places you’ll be going.

I also hope this new phase of screeching doesn’t last too long. If it does it’ll be an interesting plane ride.

It’s mostly joyful but people can get really cranky when they fly so hopefully you’ll stick to the cuter noises.

I know you won’t remember this trip, but I hope you’ll have as much fun as we will. Someday we’ll go again and I’ll love seeing your excitement. Until then, we’ll just get hundreds of adorable pictures of you at the parks.

Your excited Papa

Results: JenEric Holiday Contest – Win $25

Hello Everyone,

Last month we ran a contest where you needed to match the picture with either Jen, Eric, or Keladry.

The winner was Roseanne B, who was chosen at random from the 6 people that guessed correctly.

They can use the $25 for anything from:

Answer

Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3

  1. Éric
  2. Keladry (Baby Dragon)
  3. Jen

We expected everyone to get it right but we had a success rate of 40%.

Stay tuned, we will have more contests.

Éric

Éric’s 2017 Resolutions

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

On Tuesday I reviewed my 2016 Resolutions. I managed to finish 60% of my goals, which is pretty good. This year I have 10 resolutions and I’m hoping, as always, to complete them all.

203_newyearsresolution

1. Write 3000 words a week.

In years past, I’ve said 500 words a day. The importance for me is to write as often as I can. This 3000 will include books, stories, and blog posts.

2. Complete The Copper Tarnish by March

I’d like to finish The Copper Tarnish as soon as I can. I’m not sure if I’ll be submitting this book or not, but I’d like to finish it and see what I think.

3. Start the next Elizabeth Investigates

I really want to start The Hound of Baker Ville. I’ve been thinking about it for three years and it’s time to return to Baker City, Ontario.

4. Read 30 books

I failed at this last year but I was close. Let’s see if I can do it this year.

5. Write a Monthly Serial Story

This is going to be the fourth year for serial stories and I think I’m getting better at it. The goal is to write 800-1200 words every month without preplanning the story. Just letting it go where my mind wants.

Help me out and vote for the 2017 Serial Story – You Vote, I Write.

6. Test, Produce, and Develop 2 new coffee flavours.

The tough part will be not doing more. But we’ll be doing a lot of conventions and I want to give each flavour a chance to shine.

7. Playtest the new content for FADDS and get it ready for submission in 2018

I still have a lot of editing to do on the system, and with the new content it’ll take some time. Hopefully I’ll get to it and be able to shop it out in 2018.

8. Continue to ensure there’s content 5 days a week on JenEric Designs.

We’ve been going for four years now with content every weekday on JenEric Designs and I’m very proud of that. Jen and I have worked hard not to miss a day. A big thank you to all the guest posters on Fandom Travel and Blush when Keladry was born!

I’ll do my best to ensure we keep that streak going.

I also want to look into making a separate page for EricDesmarais.ca

10. Prepare A Case of Synchronicity submission to my publisher and Everdome for pitches at Can-Con

I have a lot of cleaning up to do in both novels, but it’ll be nice to revisit them and clean them up. If I decide that I’ll be pitching The Copper Tarnish, I’ll want to do that one also.


This years resolutions are skewed towards writing and are extremely ambitious but I’m okay with that.

What resolutions have you set for yourselves for 2017?
Éric

2016 Resolution Report Card

ga131231

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

So 2016 is almost over. A lot of good things happened to me and my family this year. The best of which being Keladry, AKA Baby Dragon.

Let’s see how well I did with my resolutions for 2016:

1. Write 500 words a day – Pass

I might not have written every day, but between the blog, stories, and novels, I’ve written approximately 120,000 this year. It’s not quite 500 a day, but I wrote most days and that’s a good thing.

2. Complete Everdome before April – Fail

I finished before July and I’m still editing it, but at least I’m not a total slacker.

3. Start and finish a new novel – Half Pass

I’ve started The Copper Tarnish and I’m roughly a third of the way through, which is pretty good. I won’t have the time to finish it this year.

4. Read 30 books – Fail

As I’m writing this, I’m at 23 books for the year and I don’t think I’ll make it. A combination of Pokémon Go taking up my bus rides this summer and not having bus rides since September.

5. Write a Monthly or Bimonthly Serial Story – Pass

Wargrave Island was the most difficult serial story so far, but I’m happy with what I learned during it. I’m also happy that I managed to finish it without much trouble.

6. Test, Produce, and Develop a total of 16 Coffee flavours – Pass

At JenEric Coffee’s website we have 16 different flavours available and I have another 5 potential ones for next year. So yay coffee!

7. Develop a simple concept for a Youtube show – Half Pass

I have the concept but not the enthusiasm to actually make it. I think I may need to rethink how much I want to have a YouTube show.

8. Playtest the various stages of FADDS and prepare it for submission in 2017 – Fail

I played two games a week of FADDS and managed to get the system to a wonderful balance. Then in September I came up with 3 new power types for players and ran out of time before Baby Dragon came around. It’s close but it’ll have to go into next year’s resolutions.

9. Update JenEric-Designs.ca and add a proper webstore – Pass

I updated the look and feel of the website and built a total of 3 webstores before settling on the one we’re using for coffee.

10. Prepare Memories of Faust for submission (Added Mid Year) – Pass


Looks like I managed six out of ten resolutions. 60% is a pass in my book. I make these in order to push myself and to be completely honest I don’t expect that I will finish them all, but I’m extremely proud of what I have accomplished this year.

Stay tuned on Thursday for my 2017 New Years Resolutions.

 

How’d you do this year?
Éric

Blush: Nursing

Nursing vs breast feeding

You might think that these two terms are the same, and for myself, they are. However, there are people who do not identify as female, and using the term “breast feeding” might generate a feeling of dysphoria in them. So I am trying to use the term “nursing” universally.

Nursing vs formula

I chose to nurse Dragon, rather than to use formula. For multiple reasons, this was the best choice for us. On top of the doctors and nurses telling us that nursing was the only way to go (I felt bad for the woman in our baby classes who was choosing to formula feed. The nurse running the class was shaming her), it’s so much cheaper to nurse than to buy formula, and it’s much faster to feed the baby when nursing; shirt goes up, bra goes down, baby latches to the body.

While the woman in my class did choose to formula feed, there are many people who don’t get that choice and must use formula for a variety of reasons. No one should be shamed for their inability or choice when it comes to nursing.

The Beginning

Nursing was really confusing to start with, because I constantly felt like I was doing it wrong. Is she latching properly? Is she getting enough? How do I hold her? How can she breathe?

One of the major benefits of being at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital was that my nurse was someone that I’ve known since she was 3 years old. I felt very comfortable asking her for help. The QCH also has excellent lactation consultants. There are numerous places you can go to if you need additional resources as well, like ottawa.ca/prenatal, parentinginottawa.com, lllc.ca, breastfeedinginc.ca, ottawabreastfeeds.ca, and 311 during business hours to talk to a public health nurse. The QCH also offers nursing classes on certain days.

Fortunately, we figured things out fairly quickly, which I am grateful for, and my milk came in after about 48 hours, so Keladry didn’t lose much weight before she started gaining it again. There’s nothing like seeing the numbers on the scale drop to make you feel like you’re failing as a parent, and this happens right after birth.

Interesting things I discovered about nursing

There’s something called let-down that happens when the breasts fill with milk unexpectedly. (I say unexpectedly, because I am often surprised by it.) This happens after a certain amount of stimulation of the nipple. The amount of time required for this varies from person to person, and the amount of let-down varies as well. I’ve discovered that if I’m already full of milk, let-down causes some milk to escape, even if the baby is attached to the other side. I assume to see a problem here. I’ll come back to that.

Let-down can also happen if the baby hasn’t been fed in a while, if the baby cries, if another baby cries, if you think about the baby and are nowhere near the baby, etc.

So to get back to that problem. The problem of leaking. I find that I have this problem most often at night, because Keladry is a very good sleeper. If she has fed well enough before bedtime, she has slept 8 hours straight. Compare this to during the day, when I feed her every 4 hours or so. You can imagine that that extra 4 hours means that I am incredibly full. I’ve had several incidents of waking up with a soaking wet pyjama top.

Solution:

nursing-padssmall

Nursing pads! I commissioned these from Crafty What-Knots, and OMG they are the most comfortable things of life! The pad on the bottom left (the purple one) is showing the inside. It is a super soft material that I want to rub constantly, and it is incredibly absorbent. There is an inner layer that is extra absorbent. Then the backing…the awesome backing that is the reason you should get your nursing pads from Crafty What Knots; I told her that I loved all things geeky, and she found me Avengers, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Minion fabric!! The backing protects my clothing by locking the wet inside the pad.

I am so impressed by these pads – they’re big enough that my shifting around at night doesn’t move them (which was my problem before), and they’re exactly what I wanted. (She can do non-geeky fabrics, too, if that’s what you want.)


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press

Keladry’s Room

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Some people put a lot of effort into a baby’s room. They pick out the right colours, paint the walls, murals, get special thingies, using those small room décor tips etc. Jen and I decided that was all awesome, but felt less personal. What we did instead was ask some fantastic artists to make things for the baby’s walls.

They are all fantastically talented and you should go buy their stuff.


keladrys-room-01

Big Hero 6 Painting – Gilove2dance Designs

Lindsay Coderre is a talented and versatile artist. She primaraly works digitally, but painted this amazing image of Hiro and Baymax that Keladry will always love. Her online store primarily has photo manipulation and design.

Lindsay is Keladry’s Aunt and one of her Godparents.

Dragon’s Den Painted Plaque – The Art Shop

This was given to us as a baby shower present from one of my in-law’s sisters. It’s great when even your extended family’s family know you well enough to get something so perfect.

It was made by the Art Shop. They have some fascinating pieces.


keladrys-room-02

Firefly Cross Stitch – Rebecca

My wife has an amazing super-power; it seems to run through her whole family. It’s the ability to make friends easily and anywhere. Jen met Rebecca on the bus and loved her TARDIS hat. They struck up a conversation and became friends.

She’s an extremely versatile crafter which can be seen on her Tumblr.

Rainbow Wall Hanging

This is from Jen’s room when she was a child. We have no idea where it’s from, but it’s adorable.


keladrys-room-03

Baby Dragon and Tardigrade – S. M. Carrière

The beautiful baby dragon print was painted digitally over our first ultrasound. It was done as a beautiful surprise. The Tardigrade we tried to commission, but she gave it to us as our baby shower present. Don’t you love the detail in the spacescape? So beautiful!

I’ve commissioned her to design me my first tattoo. I’m both excited and a little scared.

S. M. is Keladry’s other Godparent. She’s a talented author, artist, and all around wonderful person. Her newest book was written by votes on her blog and the profit goes to charity. Go buy it and read for a good cause!

TARDIS Lovey – Nerdy Needles

This soft and adorable TARDIS was given to us by the wonderful Nerdy Needles. She has a wide variety of knit and crotchet items. All wonderfully geeky.

Check out their facebook for all the cool stuff.

Dragon Name Plaque – 9five7 Pyrography

We commissioned this piece, and boy did 9five7 do an amazing job. It has the Hogwarts motto on it, Keladry’s name, and her date of birth. The dragon in the middle is really awesome and designed especially for her by the artist.

They do a huge variety of fandoms and I’ve never seen woodburning done so well. Check out their Facebook page and their Deviant art page for more amazing work.


So many talented people. Keladry is extremely lucky.

 

Later Days,

Éric

Blush: More Weird Pregnancy Stuff

You can read the first part here.

There are some things that I’ve only recently realized were weird during my pregnancy, like that hair grows abnormally fast. Armpit and leg hair included. Or maybe it just grows slower now that I’m nursing.

Contractions don’t necessarily hurt very much at the beginning. It took mine about 7 hours to start being anywhere near the realm of what I would call painful.

Then there’s all the weird delivery stuff that happens:

  1. You will get used to, or not care, that you are naked in front of people
  2. Labour might be way longer than you expect
  3. You will probably throw up during the pushing part of your delivery because of how hard you’re pushing (I did)
  4. You will probably poop at some point during delivery (I didn’t)
  5. The placenta is bigger than you think, and very squishy-hard when it comes out
  6. The first time you get up from the toilet (whatever you excrete) will be terrifying – there is SO MUCH blood in the toilet. Don’t worry – the next time will have a lot less
  7. You still look pregnant after delivery – it’ll take some time for the belly to go away. This makes for a great resting place for the baby if you choose to nurse
img_20160919_130022_01
Photo credit to Kat, who managed to sneak in just before noon to meet Keladry.

There’s also some pretty strange things that nobody tells you about having a newborn, like cluster feeding – this is what helps the milk to come in, and it happens over the second day and night. It’s exhausting, and would definitely have made us think we were doing something wrong, because she woke up every hour to feed a tiny bit and then go back to sleep. Every time the baby has a growth spurt, this happens again, except on a slightly smaller scale.


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press

Top 5 Online Big Box Store Failures

Hello Imaginary Friends,

With Keladry, we received a lot of gift cards and we bought a lot of things online. This led to some serious frustrations. Small stores were easy to deal with but some of the big box stores were not.

Top 5 Online Big Box Store Failures

Me trying to figure out what these stores were thinking.
Me trying to figure out what these stores were thinking.

5. Restricted Items: Think Geek

I’m sure this isn’t their fault. There are severe restrictions to what you can sell over the border, but I really wanted the Tactical Diaper Bag. It’s a real pain to constantly deal with restrictions and seriously… a diaper bag?

4. Let’s Charge Way Too Much: Amazon Canada

Baby things are a niche market, but some of the re-sellers on Amazon Canada go one step too far. I saw diapers for over $100 that I can buy from the creators for $35.

Unfortunately these re-sellers flood Amazon’s listings and it’s near impossible to find what you’re looking for without being flooded by overpriced versions.

3. We Don’t Take Our Own Coupons Online: Best Buy Canada

Best Buy has a decent online store and an ok points program, but the two are not compatible. The points let you get certificates that can be used like money, but only in a physical location.

For Canada’s largest electronic retailer, that’s pathetic.

2. We Don’t Take Our Own Gift Cards Online: Walmart Canada

Not taking coupons or certificates is one thing, but Walmart won’t even take their own gift cards. That’s right – a Walmart gift card cannot be used online.

1. Let’s Organize Everything Into Stupid Categories: Babies R Us

Are you looking for something? Maybe it’s under “Pregnancy Essentials”, “Gift Ideas”, or “Parent Tested Parent Approved”.

Seriously, just label your categories in a simple, easy to understand way. Stop trying to be cute, and instead be useful.

 

Do you have any online stores that do dumb things and make you angry?

Éric