Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

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!

welcomebabygift

  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!

Fort Langley

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.

A beer guide

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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Walking down the city sidewalks pushing the stroller, my middle girl holding onto the side, usually chatting and telling a story, my oldest boy walking behind looking at things or right there on the other side of the stroller.  That is how I will remember my motherhood; all together and always moving.

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Photo by Alana Couch Photography

A year into this mom of three gig and I can tell you quite honestly that it is a lot of work. I’ve let regular hair washes for me slide and I just might put on the same pair of pants four days in a row but honestly at the end of the day I’m okay with that.

I never really had a fixed idea on how many kids I would have, all I knew is that I wanted kids and I liked babies. Two seemed like a good number, probably not more than four though. Here I am, seven and a half years after having my first baby and I’ve got three babies. Three. Amazing. Amazing.

Some days I feel like I’m some sort of parenting expert and have things sorted out just right. While other days I feel like I have no clue what to do and like I’m trying to constantly catch my breath and not lose my cool.

One thing I can count on is that there seems to be a constant movement of learning and just when I think I know what I’m doing, the kids grow and change and I start back at square one.

Photo by Alana Couch Photography

Photo by Alana Couch Photography

Mothering three little kids means that I am literally never bored. The days are filled with caring for basic needs and shuffling to and from activities and school that it’s difficult to remember to feel gratitude for being their mother. The busyness often gets in the way of appreciating my motherhood.

When the day has settled and no one needs anything, even for that short moment before someone wakes up, it is then that the thankfulness seeps in and I can embrace my motherhood.

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The other morning my husband was busy in the kitchen making the kids their breakfast when he asked the oldest if he wanted some cut up banana in a bowl. The question was met with a huge yes by him and soon the middle girl was saying, ‘ Hey dad, I love chocolate! Can I have some banana too?!’.

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Huge disappointment was felt when she realized she was being offered ‘cut up banana’ and not the ‘chocolate banana’ she thought she had heard. She came and found me and whispered into my ear, ‘mum, I thought dad said do you want some chocolate banana and I got so excited but then he just gave me cut up banana’. We all had a bit of a giggle and decided that today we would go and get all the things we needed to make chocolate covered bananas.

This is a perfect no bake treat to do with the under five crowd, bonus is that it’s actually tasty and not loaded with processed ingredients or food colouring. We decided to get some toasted coconut and peanuts to add to our frozen treat. In lieu of a stick we used a paper straw and cut them in half and they worked like a charm.

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  • I had my 4 year old use a regular kitchen knife and chop bananas in thirds and halves
  • We inserted the straw into the middle and popped them into the freezer for 45 minutes
  • In the meantime we melted chocolate in the microwave and got our toppings ready in separate bowls
  • When it was go time my preschooler had a great time dipping the bananas in the chocolate with help from me
  • We followed up by generously sprinkling different ones with crushed peanuts and toasted coconut
  • Into the freezer and we enjoyed them a few hours later

These treats were a major hit for dessert and even the teething baby enjoyed biting down on this frozen dessert. Definitely recommend for some easy tasty fun with kids this summer!

 

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No one tells you just when your baby will turn into a toddler. One moment they are needing you in such an intense way and the next moment you’re doing an over exaggerated goodbye with a one year old. “Bye bye baby! Can you say bye bye mummy? Oh wow! That’s SOOO good!’. You know the story.

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Elisabeth is now officially 14 months old and for the first time I’m realizing that she is now becoming more of a toddler and less of a tiny baby. Of course, she will always be our tiny baby but aren’t most last born children stuck with the ‘baby’ title in the family?

When I went back to work I referred to Lizzy as ‘the baby’ and someone corrected me and told me she wasn’t a baby anymore. Obviously I was super offended because in my world she was still this baby who needed so much care. In reality she was just at the end of her babyhood and tip toeing into toddlerhood.

The CDC considers toddlerhood to be from 1-2 years and other resources say that a toddler is when they turn 18 months till just before 3 years old. All I know is that a change takes over your baby and even though there still might be some major baby needs, that tiny baby is growing up.

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Once these five things clicked into place, I felt fairly confident that my little Lizzy was now a toddler. A new (baby sized) toddler.

  1. They start voicing  loud opinions over things without using actual words. “AIE AIE AIE AHH RAH MAAA!! When you put them in their stroller after swinging at the park, they will let you know.
  2. Throwing a tantrum when you take something away from them. Sorry baby, you can’t have my iPhone or a sip of this hot coffee.
  3. Looking at books and not just to see if they can chew the edge of the page but to actually look at the pictures.
  4. Pointing to parts of their body (and parts of yours too!) to name body parts. We’ve got nose, eye, ear and belly button down pat.
  5. A continual clutter of messy papers on the floor despite just previously tidying up that area. You know your baby is a toddler when they find any stack of papers, magazines or work related files and dump them out all over the floor in total absolute glee.
Peekaboo! When you're a toddler you think you're hiding when you can't see me. Surprise!

Peekaboo! When you’re a toddler you think you’re hiding when you can’t see me. Surprise!

While I am a huge sucker for all things baby and have a ridiculous need to smell the top of the head of a newborn, I am totally digging this new stage and all the hilarity that comes with living with a toddler.

 

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I started writing this post after the first few day shifts on my return to work. Everything was happy happy and easy breezy. Then the night shifts came and BAM!@$$%^&*. Reality check.

Mama ALL DAy.Nurse ALL NIGHT.

 

<This Was Me Before Going Back To The Night Shift>

I’m going to say something that may sound a wee bit crazy but bear with me if you can. I’m not totally off the deep end when I tell you this. Going to work feels like a break.

There’s the obvious fact that I  get to have a coffee break and during that thirty minutes no one asks me to do anything for them. I literally sit down and drink my coffee and I often have my feet up. My coffee is hot while I’m drinking it. Just that alone is amazing.

If I need to go to the bathroom, I get to go ALONE. No one is asking me questions while the bathroom door is closed and no one has stuck their fingers underneath the door to wave at me yet.

Of course I miss my kids while I’m gone, thirteen plus hours away is what it is. It’s thirteen hours away. However, that first day off together feels even more rewarding. I legit get excited thinking that I get to spend time with them.

When I’m at work I get to use a different part of my brain and it feels great. I’m still a mama but I’m able to switch hats and put on my metaphorical nurses hat and get in the game.

<Post Night Shift Reality HITS HARD>

Mama all day. Work all night. This is when real adult life gets kind of tricky. On my first night shift back in 15 plus months I somehow made dentist appointments for all three kids for earlier in the day.  Not my brightest moment but life doesn’t stop for night shifts. After a full day I went to work, chugged some espresso and hoped for the best.

Fast forward to 5 AM. I thought that from the way I was feeling that I might by dying. My body was majorly protesting and my pep for work was fading by the minute. I was certain my coworkers were going to find me sprawled out on the floor of the utility room half conscious.

Sleep. Repeat. Stay up all night and work another night shift. That first day off I felt a million times worse than I had coming off a night shift in the past fourteen years. I did not get out of my pyjamas all day and I puttered and horizontally parented from the couch. I literally felt off for the first two days.

Tonight I go back for two night shifts. ‘It’s no big deal’ is what I keep telling myself. I am happy to be back at work but I am still learning to find that balance.

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