Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Back when I was a 19 year old nursing student I was sitting in my university Pathophysiology class and the professor started talking about the main symptoms of diabetes. I carefully nodded my head, taking it all in and understanding how quickly uncontrolled diabetes could take a turn for the worse.

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I sat there sipping my Coca Cola and went on to study the rest of the afternoon away. Only fleetingly thinking about the odd frequency of my trips to the bathroom to pee and the weird way my mouth was dry as a bone. I slurped back another sip of Coke and kept on studying.

From rereading my huge pathophysiology text and matching up my symptoms, I knew that something was just not right with my body. I was feeling a bit of stress from nursing school and the intense course work and let myself believe that it was all just stress.

A week later I went to my family doctor and it turned out that my pancreas had given up producing insulin all together. Sugar was floating around my blood at dangerously high levels making me feel incredibly tired and really gross. The dry cotton mouth and the need to pee a few times every hour were also big red flags. ‘Hello! You have diabetes!‘.

With more education and lots of family support, managing my diabetes did become part of my life. Needles and finger pokes were just adapted into my lifestyle and are really no big deal for me. I make changes in my insulin doses based on working night shifts or day shifts and always made sure to pack snacks for low blood sugar fixes.

My husband and I traveled Europe through time changes and eating out and my diabetes came along with me. For me, it was never a huge issue to be a type 1 diabetic and I made it part of my daily life.

Fast forward to motherhood and it’s the single most influence on managing my diabetes. 

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Apparently type 1 diabetics are suppose to eat healthy food on a pretty regimented schedule and take their insulin like clockwork. However, everyone knows that mothers often eat the scraps of old waffles from their kids breakfast plates while making sure their kids eat well balanced meals.

Apparently type 1 diabetics are suppose to get ample sleep so their cortisol levels don’t spike making their blood glucose rise. However, everyone knows that mothers live on threads of interrupted sleep.

Apparently type 1 diabetics should take their insulin doses on a very strict schedule. However, sometimes you get so busy trying to get your kids ready to get out the door that you literally forget.

Apparently motherhood complicates type 1 diabetes.

Motherhood is a busy business and there isn’t a lot of room for chronic disease. Taking care of yourself is important and vital but it seems that mothers are often the last ones to be taken care of. How does that work if you also have a chronic disease to take care of?

If you’re the mother who has missed out on regular showers, enough sleep and haven’t had a hot cup of coffee in weeks then you probably can imagine the trouble that comes with being a type 1 diabetic and a mom.

It’s already a constant struggle to take care of myself as ‘Andrea the person‘ and even more so to manage my disease. Unfortunately, the side effects of not taking care of my diabetes are extremely dire so it’s something that I need to make sure happens.

Since I love being a mother to my three kids, I have to make it a priority to manage my diabetes and really take care of my whole self.

 

 

 

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When someone posts a photo bursting blog post about their kid’s birthday I am usually all over it. I love seeing all the details and looking at the Pinterest worthy photos. In fact, I’ve even thrown some of my own Pinterest inspired parties and I certainly do love a well thought out celebration with small details.

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Once kids are old enough to be dropped off, which for me is about school age, there are no parents to impress with your amazing decoration skills. It turns out that 8 year old boys do not actually care if your theme is noticeable throughout the entire party. However, they do care if there are enough chips to snack on.

I don’t know if it is a boy thing or an age thing, or a combo of those two, but putting together a birthday celebration for my 8 year old son was a completely different ball game than back in the day with the under 5 crowd.

This post will be my reminder for next year when it comes to planning his ninth birthday.

  1. Under invite. Less is more when it comes to a kid’s birthday guest list. We had 12 guests and it was a lot of work to keep them organized and entertained, and that was even with all the teachers in my family pitching in. Next year it will be more like 4-6 buddies.
  2. Kids will not care if your napkins match your theme or if your cake topper is on point. So, basically, LET IT GO!
  3. There will be wrestling. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, wrestling of some kind will still happen at some point.
  4. An organized planned out activity is great but there will always be hiccups when you get a bunch of big kids together.
  5. At some point a kid will voice their disappointment to you about the party. Maybe it’s because the snacks aren’t ready and they came to the party starving, or their best friend didn’t show up, or because one kid brought quarters to the bowling alley and is buying all his favourite friends jawbreakers and some is feeling left out.

This year we planned a Pokemon bowling party for my 8 year old and I was excited to get Pokemon Go team pins for the kids to wear and I loved the invites I had printed.

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I was going for low stress but it didn’t feel that way when my Pikachu cupcakes didn’t work out as planned and I had to scrap the idea of themed cupcakes. However, in the end it actually didn’t matter as kids tossed down the grocery store mini cupcakes exclaiming how tasty they were. I didn’t even bake them and they didn’t even care.

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Planning birthday parties can get quite pricey and I honestly think that the big kids would have loved it all the same if I had thrown down a mass of 711 snack food on a table and told them to play video games.

While I’m happy to find a middle ground in party planning, next year I will definitely remember that kids don’t see the small details and really they just want to have fun with each other.

 

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Trust me, you know if you have a high needs fussy baby. Those kind of babies make themselves very obvious and there’s no wondering on the topic. That being said, you might have a high needs baby if:

  • You constantly find yourself jiggling your body left and right, up and down, even when you aren’t holding your baby.
  • Following the ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ advice means you yourself get about 20 minutes of sleep before the baby wakes up (again!).
  • A feeling of physical violence overcomes you when someone suggests getting your baby to sleep by putting them atop of the washing machine or using a white noise machine or taking a night time car ride.
  • You’ve considered if it would really be that bad if you let yourself pee your pants because the baby has FINALLY just fallen asleep on top of you and you’ve got to go BADLY…but alas, sleep.
  • The deluxe top of the line designer stroller you bought pre-baby goes untouched. Putting your baby down does NOT work.
  • You discover that if you want to ever eat again, you will now have to cook dinner while safely jiggling a tired baby in your favourite carrier. In fact, this becomes a must.

Eight years ago I welcomed my first very anticipated baby. I was so excited to be a mum and so shocked when I realized that the loud crying he started in the hospital didn’t all of a sudden dissipate once we got home. In fact, it kept getting louder and for longer periods.

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There was absolutely no ability to put this baby down without major soothing. He cried and he cried loudly. Very loudly. Baby wearing and constant jiggling were a must. At the end of  his babyhood I became a self professed expert in parenting a high needs baby.

It’s Not Colic

In the olden days fussy crying babies were given the title of ‘Colic’. The idea that here tiny tummy’s were giving them pain and so they cried. My baby did not have colic. He was not in pain. His personality was just loud and he required lots and lots of external soothing to calm down.

The things that work for easy or text book babies often don’t work with high needs babies. Once you realize this you are at a great parenting advantage. Sorry baby, it’s not me it’s actually you.

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High needs babies are in a league of their own and if you’ve ever had to parent one than you know just how much more work and exhaustion it can be. Now that I’ve had three babies, 2 with text book personalities, I realize how hard it actually was parenting my first baby.

Survive And Thrive

Give up your expectations and lofty dreams about putting your baby in the crib and having them doze off on their own while you read a book or enjoy a hot coffee. It really might never happen for you.

It is easy to feel totally overwhelmed and lost when you are learning to be a mum to a baby who has a different set of rules. Don’t give up. Soon you will get to know more about what works for you and your tiny ruler.

Invest in a carrier that works for each parent/caregiver. Get everyone on board. Briefly mourn the idea of pushing your baby on a peaceful walk while you chat with your friends with easy babies. Your reality will be jiggling, baby wearing and ‘shhhh shhhh shhhing’. Just let that be okay.

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Embrace the concept that this high energy period will truly pass and it’s  temporary. You will experience a weird jealousy to parents of easy babies.

One day your baby will celebrate their eight birthday and they will sleep through the night and read books on the couch. In the meantime, bring out the ear plugs and coffee. While it won’t cure the situation of a fussy baby, it will help a little bit. Plus, there’s always Wine Friday.

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The other evening I was getting a ride home from work and as we walked to her car I could just feel the change in the air. Driving towards the beach I couldn’t help but notice that the sky was just a little bit darker than it had been the week before. There was a crispness in the air that was relieved with a sweater.

Summer fades to fall and I actually feel kind of impartial to it all. I don’t love it or hate it yet I’m still always ready for the change. We had such a fun time this summer and the three kids are at a fun age but there’s no choice except to move ahead.

Yesterday we were hit with a rainy day; the rain started overnight and kept going on and off all day. I felt like the rain confirmed that summer is over and, well, that it’s time for us to move on.

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I wore my pyjamas most of the day and we didn’t go outside till after 4 PM. I drank hot coffee and we listened to music.  There was dance parties and Netflix and we made it through our new pile of library books.

Then we got up to some serious painting.

Our sweet Elisabeth has become quite the vocal toddler and with two big kids around she wants to do everything they do. Parenting that third baby feels so different and I love it. I find myself to be more present and more relaxed.

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“Sure, Elisabeth. Here’s your paper, your paints and a paintbrush. Try not to eat the paint..or at least not too much of it, okay?”

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We haven’t had one of these days together in a long time. A day where we’re all together with no place to go. We are often outside adventuring or just out and about, so it was refreshing to slow things down. Deep breath, things are changing.

 

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Sometimes I wonder, how did I get here? Not here in Vancouver at 4 PM on a Tuesday, but here as in this part of my life. As a mum to three kids who I’m responsible for shaping their childhood and memories.

Oh, the memories.

The other afternoon it was sunny outside and we had just been lounging around at home post nap time.The kids kept asking again and again, ‘when can we have screen time mum?’. I had really had enough with the constant question on repeat and so I decided to just get outside.

To be honest, anytime in my life when things feel like they’ve hit their peak in overwhelmingness or annoyance, I always take life outside and it always has been the right decision.

I quickly packed up water bottles, towels and sand toys and told the big kids to hit the bathroom and get their beach shoes on cause we were heading out.

It wasn’t planned but it was perfect.

As we walked the kids kept shouting, ‘…and make a sand castle with me!’ and they’d fight over who I’d be building sand castles with. I did my big motherly SHHHHH!! and kept on walking with them. We’d all build castles together.

We got to the beach, a short 10 minute walk from home, and I ungracefully pulled the big Uppababy Vista stroller over the sand to get closer to the water. Popping wheelies the whole way because taking a stroller on a beach is no easy feat.

Together we set up a little spot and got out our sand pails and shovels and I set up Lizzy in a little area where she could sit and feel the sand between her toes. Funny enough, this kid does not want to move at the beach. She literally just sits still and enjoys herself.

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There were many trips to the ocean to fill up pails with water and a little bit of sibling arguing occurred on who got the coveted newly filled bucket of water. We practiced and practiced making sand castles and had many collapse and fail.

It wasn’t till the end of the beach trip that the nearly 8 year old perfected his sand castle building skills. We left high on life and our impromptu afternoon beach trip trickled into early evening.

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These are the moments that I want to remember when I’m 8o plus years and saying, ‘how did I get here?’. These are the memories I want my kids to grow up and say to each other, ‘remember when mum would take us to the beach and she’d build castles with us?!’.

 

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Expecting your first baby is really something else. Everyone is so pepped for you and the world is your oyster. You will never have the same amount of excitement about one of your babies as you did for the first.

My sisters and my mum threw me my first baby shower after baby Ben had made his entrance a month ahead of schedule. The party was filled with so many cute baby pressies and the love was palpable.

I was legit excited about receiving my very first Bumbo and all the baby board books galore. Fast forward to baby number two and three, the excitement was still there and I still wanted to celebrate that baby.

For me, I like to wait till baby arrives to celebrate with a ‘Welcome Baby’ party. Instead of sitting at shower with a big bump and holding up onesies and newborn blankets while your friends look on, I always chose to wait till baby was earthside to celebrate. Plus waiting till baby has arrived is a great way for a bunch of people to meet your baby all at the same time. I loved having a mass of friends over to celebrate and welcome my babies.

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With number three, who was my hardest and scariest pregnant, her arrival felt like it should most definitely be celebrated. I loved having a ‘Welcome Baby Party’ for Elisabeth and have so many special memories of close friends and family meeting her.

My youngest sister had her second baby this past May and she opted to not have a traditional baby shower or welcome party. However, every baby still needs to be celebrated! It’s not just first babies that should get the baby shower and the parade of gifts and well wishes.

I decided to choose a gift that could be for my sister and also for the new baby. Besides the gift I also gifted them with an evening out while I babysat the two kids. Who better to be the first babysitter than an auntie who has three kids of her own and is a maternity nurse? I mean, c’mon!

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  1. 2016 baby card with handwritten message
  2. ‘Strong as a mother’ t shirt from Delish General Store
  3. Blush soak for mama from Bébé de Luxe
  4. Soft little lamb from The Cross Design
  5. Paddington Bear board book to celebrate our English heritage and give something to read to baby and big sister

What are your thoughts on baby showers for second plus babies? Give me your two cents!

 

 

 

 

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Back in April when I hosted the last kids birthday a good friend said to me, ‘Andrea, you put so much effort into other people’s birthdays! You need a good one for yourself!‘. So, as my birthday started lurking on the calendar I decided to take that friend’s advice and make a good birthday happen.

Instead of hoping that my spouse would get my hints of what a perfect birthday present would be, I booked myself into the spa and I was totally content and satisfied. I’m a huge believer in self care and a morning at quiet serene spa was the best choice for me.

One thing that shifts when you become a parent is how you celebrate your own birthday. That is just par for the course. Over the last few years I’ve had a few birthday busts, so this year I decided I’d make sure that ringing in my 37th year was a good one!

Treat Yo SelfMy favourite spa in Vancouver is the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. It is everything you would want in a spa day and more. I chose to have their custom facial and was wrapped up in a literal duvet cocoon while I relaxed and enjoyed the hour long treatment.

The reason that I love choosing a facial is that it’s the best bang for your buck. While a mask settles on your skin you usually get a hand massage and/or a neck and shoulder massage. I left feeling completely blissed out and in love with my glowing smooth skin. I ended up enjoying the products so much that I left with two of them to continue the self care love at home.

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The most relaxed I’ve felt in ages. Wrapped up in a warm duvet during my facial.

After my facial I was given a healthy smoothie shot and then lounged on the patio sipping tea and munching on the complimentary snacks. I was even treated to a glass of champagne to help celebrate the occasion.

Self care can look differently for each of us and ultimately knowing what fills up your tank is the goal. I wish all of you the opportunity to celebrate yourself and get your self care love on.

Do you celebrate your own birthday? Did you like your last birthday present that you were given? Spill the beans!

 

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I’ve been missing writing in this space on a regular basis but it turns out that summer vacation is keeping us busy and, surprise surprise, there isn’t actually a lot of down time. Who would have thought?! Ha!

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July was filled up with scheduled activities and so I made sure that August was going to be low key beach days and ‘Family Field Trip Days’. We made a bit of a bucket list of things we hoped to go and see and do and one of them was visiting Fort Langley’s National Historic site.

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I love when there a place isn’t really that far away but once you get there it makes you feel like you’ve gone miles away from home. Visiting the Fort did just that and the cost was so cheap. It was $11 and change for my crew and I to get inside and we spent just over 2 hours inside.

  1. Inexpensive family fun!
  2. Educational and interesting for a variety of age groups. 
  3. Gold panning!! Sure, not everyone will find a gold nugget but the process of panning and searching can be just as fun.
  4. Lots of space to run and roam for busy kids who like to move.
  5. The on site cafe serves beer, wine and cold brew coffee!

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It was a hot day when we went and that limited us from wanting to stay longer, but we most definitely could have made it a longer field trip. We did make it to all the exhibits and my oldest really enjoyed doing the activity book he was given. At each exhibit he collected a pressed stamps and collected a prize at the end of our visit.

When you are done with the Fort you can make a short stroll and find some great local shops and cafes in the neighbourhood. We enjoyed our visit to Watermelon Tree Baby & Kids and Blacksmith Bakery. Which were both very kid friendly and welcoming with our troop of children.

 

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We’ve spent the last few weeks moving through a constant hustle and bustle with a side of summertime relaxation and a generous side of strawberry infused gin and tonic.

Last week I got off from a night shift Monday morning and before I could slurp back a mug of delicious coffee, I was back at my other life with my tiny crew catching the water taxi over to Granville Island for a week of afternoon summer camp.

I am really not good at just jumping from working all night to having a regular normal day. I hate it. Working night shifts leave me feeling zapped and gross and I have to majorly push myself forward. It’s like I have a big hangover without the awesome party.

Even though I’ve been to Granville Island hundreds of times over the decade and a half of being a Vancouverite, this time I was able to see a lot more of the area. I had time to kill while the older kids were busy getting their art attack on and I was attempting to nap the youngest in the stroller.

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I had this idea that I’d be wandering around the island in a state of blissful peace while the little one napped in her stroller. I even contemplated packing along a book. What a total joke. That girl has a major case of FOMO and would not sleep on the go despite my usual bag of tricks.

Instead we wandered to every edge of Granville Island, stopping to look around. We took things kind of slow and went to spots we had never explored before.

One of the days she was awake for 12 hours in a row. Not ideal! This girl needs to nap at home and will not shut off when out and about. She has a serious fear of missing out. Life is too exciting in her world.

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Her eyes would look so exhausted and she’d be so close to crashing, but her tiny little hands would grip the stroller bar and her hazel eyes would be trying hard to stay half cracked as if not to miss anything.

Instead we walked and walked and cuddled on the grass. We looked a the buzzy buzzy bees in the lavender, ate donuts and watched the buskers perform.

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I even treated Lizzy to the thrill of actually putting a coin into the little rides at the Kids Market. Letting her experience the ultimate joy of a moving ride without a big brother or sister trying to cram on with her.

*FOMO: fear of missing out

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Just like that another school year has come to a close. It feels like I was just fretting about sending kid #1 off to kindergarten and soon we will have a grade three boy, a preschooler and a toddler. Life definitely ticks by and kids are amazing at marking just how fast time goes.

Last summer I had a new baby and a bout of postpartum anxiety that made me not want to venture too far from home. I under enrolled the kids in summer activities and by the second week of our summer break I was questioning how we’d all get through the two months off.

This summer will be a mix of day camps and lazy days. Enough structure that we can keep busy and the kids can meet new friends and learn new tricks. Next week the big kids have afternoon art camps on Granville Island and I’m thinking the sunny weather will be perfect for some post art class water park fun.

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One thing I want to do a lot of over the next few months is hit up the beach and outdoor pools. Vancouver has some really fantastic options and one of our favourites is Second Beach Pool in Stanley Park. Now that #3 is nearly walking, I want to be able to keep up with all three of my kids and get right in there.

Before I can pack the beach bag and get the inflatable pool rings I need to find a bathing suit. Not having a suit is holding me back from potential fun and I hate that. I had a maternity bathing suit and I had a pre third baby swim suit but now I need a fresh start.

I’ve had my eye on local Vancouver company Nettle’s Tale as they promise swim suits for everyday women. In the past I’ve worn everything from a bikini, tankini and full bathing suit with extra support. Whatever the case this time, I need to get a new suit ASAP! Summer is waiting and so are my kids.

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This weekend I am going to go and buy a bathing suit. If I publish that and throw it out to the world, it will get done.  Come Monday morning I will be the proud new owner of one (or more!) fantastic bathing suits. Summer vacation here WE come!

 

 

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