Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Just A Moment Of Clarity

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September 29, 2014 // Parenting

At the time it wasn’t a great moment for me. I wasn’t feeling super hot and was under the weather and after I let her watch way too many shows in a row on the iPad, the mama guilt was starting to settle in . We are usually an ‘up and at ‘em’ family and we go to all the fun Vancouver family activities and can usually be found walking to a park or playing at a park. You get the picture.

Maybe it was the sickness, but I had a moment of insanity fuelled by this ridiculous, because it is ridiculous, guilt and I decided we would haul ourselves out the front door and go to the next door park. I’d watch her play, we’d collect the gorgeous fall leaves that are currently scattered all over the ground right now and go home to do a craft. Despite being sick I thought I could muster up the energy for an easy toddler craft (haha, easy-toddler-craft…that doesn’t go together).

Original idea: Together we would sit side by side and delicately paint our collected leaves with gorgeous colours, placing them gently on the paper to make a cool stamping effect. We could hang up these masterpieces and get that nice ‘it’s officially Fall’ vibe going.

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Reality: I ended up laying on the couch and cheering on my girl from the side lines. The paint soon became finger paint and soon it was on her clothes, in her hair, under her shirt, and all over the table and chairs (and splattered generously on nearby furniture too).

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Then the best part happened. I got off the couch and took a look around and got frustrated with the mess. The paint was all spilled all over the table top and onto the floor. I was thinking about how much work it would take to clean up the paint splatters that were seriously everywhere and I sighed loudly at the thought that now I needed to give her a bath to scrub the paint off.

I loudly said something like, ‘oh my god…this is such a big mess!!!‘. She looked at me and with her 2 year old wisdom and best teenage voice said ‘mummmmm..it’s only paint…but look what I made! I love it!‘.

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The paper was too sopping wet with paint to salvage any of her masterpiece but she did thoroughly enjoy the process. We are still finding flecks of purple paint in the most unique spots and I’m left looking at these wonderful photos and remembering the moment she created.

I’m Not Ready

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September 24, 2014 // Vancouver

We are coming off a totally glorious dry summer here in Vancouver and I got seriously used to walking around the city in sandals and t shirts and not worrying about packing layers or umbrellas. We had weeks upon weeks of hot sunshine and we did not waste a moment of it. It was so easy getting the kids ready and out the door. There was no fuss about coats and our footwear was casual and was easy to slip on. However, it is inevitable and things are changing.

You know you live in a rainy place when there is an anonymous art project dedicated to celebrating the seasons here in Vancouver, especially those really wet ones. There’s a cool backstory on those red umbrellas over here.

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Let’s talk about footwear

Now that September is well on it’s way to being over, the season of rain is coming our way and I’m not ready. I’m not ready for the need to always have an umbrella stashed somewhere or the change of foot wear that is mandatory. I’m not ready for that feeling of wet feet that happens to me too often, because it wasn’t raining when I left and I stupidly wore my cute slip on flats (story of my life).

For the most part in Vancouver, the rain is  always sort of there but you can often get by with just closed toe shoes.  I didn’t even have real rain boots until a year or so ago when I needed to do more walking to fetch kids from school. It also turns out that unless you are puddle jumping with your kids, wearing boots all day every day isn’t that awesome.

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I do have a pair of Hunter rain boots in a bright blue hue and they are great addition to cheering up a dreary driizzly Vancouver day, but honestly I’d rather be wearing flip flops.

Years ago I found a great black water resistant coat at Lululemon and I’ve been trying to breathe life into it for the last couple of years. It’s been my go to coat for walking around and feeling sort of put together and I loved that it tied at the waist. The thing is, it’s lifespan is nearing the end and considering we are just starting the rain season, I might need to get on it with the raincoat browsing. Right now, I’m eyeing this coat in mulberry from Mountain Equipment Co-op. I want something functional but it has to be fashionable too!

I’ll leave you with this cool street photo my husband took awhile back. While I’m not feeling excited or ready for this constant drizzle, the truth is…the rain is here.  Now we live through it to get back to our gorgeous summer.

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In Memory Of Charlotte

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September 18, 2014 // Parenting

I had been reading her blog for just a couple of weeks now, the posts weren’t frequent but she had months of interesting stories to read. Each word she wrote dug into my heart and made me pause and reflect on my own motherhood, my own life and my own way of being. She was a mother, a wife, a writer and a woman living with terminal bowel cancer. Charlotte Kitley was her name and while she has just recently left this earth, her words are a permanent reminder about what is important in life.

She wrote her last blog post just before she died and it sparked something in me,  it rumbled that reminder that we all need every now and then. Slow down and enjoy our moments. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment, especially while we are shuttling our kids to and from. Trying to get them to put their shoes on and yelling at them to remember to get their coat and to keep their hands to themselves. I know that that these frazzled feeling can easily overtake us, but let’s try to make sure that those moments don’t become the theme of our days and the focus of our memories.

So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life.  Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children.  You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.

Through her blog, Charlotte became that big sister we all want in motherhood. She was that woman who told you all those awesome tips on how to get the most out of each moment.  Despite knowing her time would be cut short, Charlotte really seemed to live each moment and she was able to teach us about the importance of being. Through her words she gave us insight about the things that are truly important and the reminders that we all need.

Charlotte taught us to live without regrets and enjoy the process of each moment. So, tonight when the day has come to an end and I’m feeling like I just want my children to go to bed, I’m going to consciously take it slow and remind myself to be grateful.

I’m going to embrace putting on their little pajamas, even when they get stuck on their heads and they freak out. I’m going to nestle next to them in their beds and read books and when they asked me if there is time for just one more book, please please please mum, I’m going to say yes. Tonight I’m going to lay with them until they fall asleep and, just before I sneak out, I will kiss the top of their heads and remind myself what is important in this life.

Read Charlotte’s last blog post: And So There Must Come An End (have some tissues on hand if you are a bit of a weeper like I am).

The Tale Of The Tooth

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September 11, 2014 // Parenting

Most parents will agree that teething and babies is dicey business and I have yet to meet a parent that says, ‘I loved the teething stage!’.  Pushing teeth up and through the gums is an annoyingly slow process and a memorable one at that. How many times were you most certain that your baby’s tooth would be appearing only to have it come a month later? Then finally a glimmer of white appears and you think, ‘Yes!! The tooth is here!’…but it takes a couple more weeks before it actually looks like your baby has an actual chomper.

Between my two kids I had two totally different tethers resulting in two different experiences. One was miserable with lots of disrupted sleep and extra crying. Doses of homeopathic drops, Advil, cold teething rings, frozen blueberries in those mesh feeding bags. Followed with the constant look out for that freaking baby tooth. AIE! However, the other baby sailed through it waking up with a glimmer of pearly white showing and no disruption to our usual day.

Awhile back I stumbled upon this cool/creepy x ray photo of a child’s skull and was impressed and amazed at how all their little teeth are already up in their skull long before we see them. I guess I hadn’t really given it a lot of thought about where the teeth actually came from before they started to wreck havoc attempting to push through my baby’s gums. Some food for thought: did you know that your child’s teeth start forming when you are 6 weeks pregnant?

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Compared to the ordeal that some babies experience when teething, losing a tooth is a pretty simple affair. In fact, the other morning Ben lost his very first tooth while he was brushing his teeth. It had been wiggly for a couple of weeks and finally it just came on out. Funny enough, the tooth he lost was also the first tooth he got as a baby, the one that caused all of us so much stress. I vividly remember that first tooth and all of the grief it caused us trying to work on up. He was miserable and we were certain it would arrive any day, but it took weeks of him clawing at his mouth, drooling and chewing on everything before it finally did erupt.

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When his tooth fell out I held it in my hand and looked down at it. It was so tiny and white and I felt like we had sort of come full circle from the teething hell of his babyhood, to the celebratory dance and cheer we did when it fell out. As much of a milestone it was for Ben, it was also a big milestone for me as a mother.

Bringing home baby

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September 8, 2014 // Parenting

Today my boy turns a glorious 6 and he is so proud that now he has to show two hands to show his new number. In honour of this special occasion, I’m reposting an oldie but a goodie from back when Ben was my only baby. It’s the tale of bringing him home from the hospital.

BDB7597-party-partners-madison-park-group-paper-rainbow-happy-birthday-banner-party-decoration-pennantsSpoiler: This apartment baby gets left in the elevator…by himself!

Originally posted: June 22, 2009

We hadn’t really talked about the how we we were getting home from the hospital once we actually had the baby. We don’t own a car and we were used to walking around town or taking taxis when we needed too. Once in awhile we rented a car to go out of town and that was the end to our transportation story. It worked out perfectly and we never had an issue until it came time to bring home baby Ben.

I really hadn’t given much thought to how my baby was to get home. Obviously I had thought strolling the city after giving birth would be high on my priority list or maybe a vehicle would just appear with a proper fitting car seat already installed. However, neither of these were an actual option when it was time to go home.

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My husband really wanted to walk home with the baby and push him in our new stroller. It was a perfect autumn day and it was warm and light out. The idea of walking home sounded horrendous and exhausting to me and I vetoed it right away. Our “compromise” was for me to get in a taxi and for my husband to stroll with Ben home in our new fancy stroller.

CUE THE HORMONAL WATERWORKS!

The mixture of being separated from my baby for the very first time and the huge waves of post partum hormones left me a slobbering mess in the back of the taxi. Luckily the cab driver did not talk to me which was perfect. I arrived back at our condo and was so happy to see my oldest sister standing out front waiting for me. It was so anti climatic to just come home all alone and it was such a nice surprise to see someone waiting for me.

A few minutes behind me was my husband and he really loved his walk home with the baby. It was seriously such perfect weather and the baby was swaddled and having his first breaths of outdoor air. Soon we were all home and I was smooching my baby and relaxing on the couch with my new family.

The thing my husband didn’t tell me, until quite a while later, was that he temporarily lost the baby in the condo elevator. It wasn’t necessarily his fault but my apartment baby’s first elevator ride up to our condo was alone. Apparently, the elevator doors had been malfunctioning and they were not shutting; as they waited inside the elevator for it to go up, my husband stepped out of the elevator to see if it was out of service. At that exact second the elevator door closed, taking the baby up to the tenth floor alone.

With some quick thinking he raced to the second elevator trying to get up to the tenth floor, hopefully arriving just in time to meet the other elevator containing our baby. Somehow things aligned and it actually worked out that his elevator door opened just as the other one was going to close. He pulled out the stroller and continued to walk to our front door where I was anxiously waiting to get my hands on that newborn.

When he finally decided to tell me this story I didn’t freak out, but once in awhile I do tease him in the most loving way.

 

Over the last six years of parenthood our master bedroom has been infiltrated by children and their things. This is, obviously, something to expect when living with kids but I recently decided to reclaim my bedroom. So, for the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to put some touches on my room to really make it MINE.

Recently I announced to my family that my bedroom was going to be just that. All mine!  You see, for the last couple of years I’d be getting ready for bed and step over miscellaneous children’s books that were piled high and scattered on the floor, I’d crawl into bed and could see that someone had wiped their peanut butter lips on my pillow. I’d go to slide into the sheets and  a piece of Lego would scrape my foot  as I went to get in.

I love my kids, obviously, and for many moons we room shared or bed shared and they were welcomed into our space. Piles of little clothes and diapers were always piled high on my dresser and the room was still functional. Now that they’re 2.5 and nearly 6, I’m ready to take over the space and allow myself the opportunity to have a hide out of my own. I want a space that represents me and that is fresh and makes me feel happy.

My first goal is to replace my current bed comforter with something fresh and that can also take a lot of wear.  Our current one is only just over 2 years old and was a fantastic purchase from Marimekko, but it’s been so well loved (and washed at home one too many times) that I need to replace it. I’m still waffling back and forth about getting a duvet or a comforter and have done hours of on line browsing.

I’m loving this bedding planner tool from Crate and Barrel and I’m totally obsessed with trying out lots of different looks.

Over the summer I treated myself to some luxurious high thread count bedsheets and when I go to crawl into bed,  I close my eyes and just for a second I feel like my bedroom is once again…my bedroom. Then reality takes over and I open my eyes, glance around and see the black paint that Josie accidentally tracked onto the bedding after our latest painting session. C’est la vie.

Instead of peanut butter brown, finger paint black and Lego red I’m thinking these colours would freshen up my space.

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We have all the basics in place for furniture and the mattress is still newish. So, I’m think that some new art or special photos hung on the wall could really spruce the joint up. Now I just need the time to go and get everything together and make my space my own.

I found this website a great inspiration for focusing my ideas on how to change my master bedroom: Master Bedroom Ideas by Entirely Eventful Day.

What is your go-to trick for sprucing up a room?

Birthday Party Stress

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August 22, 2014 // Parenting

I have a special birthday coming up soon, my oldest will be turning six and it is a BIG.DEAL. He’s been planning his birthday party since February and while the theme changes frequently, his excitement and enthusiasm only continues to grow. He’s talked about what theme he wants and where he wants to go and what kind of cake he will have. Apparently, nearly six year olds have a lot to say about their birthday parties!

In the past, I’ve hosted medium size birthday parties that included his friends and our family and he always loves the celebration. This year I’ve got a dilemma and I’m feeling a bit stressed about it. I don’t have any contact information for Ben’s pals and so I  can’t send out birthday invitations. Here in British Columbia the teachers are on strike and our school year finished abruptly a couple of weeks early without a real chance to connect with classmates and their parents. There is also a high chance that it won’t go back on time come September 2nd and a chance school won’t start till October (that is a WHOLE other blog post!).

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Turning 1 at a ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ themed party with family and little friends!

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Time to turn 2 at a blue and green colour themed party!

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3 years old and a birthday party and a local gym! Lots of friends and fun.

Now that my boy is going into grade 1, most of his peer group is actually made up of his school mates. Having a birthday party guest list that was mostly made up of school chums would be very simple if I had a way of contacting the families. I know that some teachers make a point of providing emails and contact lists to parents. However, Ben’s kindergarten class never did this and I never orchestrated anything to get the contact info of his class friends either.

In the past, birthday party guest lists were easy to come up with as parents came along to play dates and his preschool was good about sending out contact information to parents. At this point,  3 weeks before the intended party, I have no school friends to contact. Which means I basically have no guest list. We also go to a school that’s not in our exact neighbourhood, so running into friends at the nearby playground just doesn’t happen.

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Celebrating 4! A dinosaur themed party outside at Granville Island.

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Turning 5 with a fun (sweaty!) birthday party at the kids adventure zone on Granville Island.

Here is my debate: I could postpone the birthday party and wait till school  officially goes back into session to plan something… OR I could just go with the way things are and have a family birthday party with a couple of Ben’s old friends. It won’t be his ‘dream party’ that he’s been planning for the last 6 months but it would still be special and  fun.

I know you’ve got an opinion so tell me what you think I should do! Should I go ahead and just plan a family celebration or wait till school goes back to get things organized?

 

I’ve had the privilege of being present at so many families birth experiences. Being at a birth is not routine for me and each one has it’s own story. I’ve had mamas labour all on their own and those that brought a village. I was introduced to the role of the doula back when I was specializing in perinatal nursing, and the idea of this person that was there just to give awesome support, well it sounded really good to me.

People often ask me, ‘what exactly is a doula?‘  and I find it easy to tell them what a doula does.  A doula is hired by a mama-to- be to support her during labour, birth and immediately post partum. A doula is not a medical professional and they don’t deliver babies or provide medical advice. A doula is flexible with the situation and also supports the woman’s partner through out the birth too. They recommend different positions and massage your back. I’ve been totally amazed at the amazing snacks and drinks some of the doulas pull out of their bags! I also love it when they bust out the essential oils and the room starts to smell amazing.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work with several amazing Vancouver doulas. I love that feeling that I get when I’ve worked with a doula and I’ve learned a new techniques or idea for labour support. Doulas must feel passion about empowering women and get excited thinking about being by the side of a mama as she births her baby.

My first encounter with a doula happened when I was in my final practicum for my maternity nursing, I had one last night shift to do before I was on my own and I was at a birth of a first time mum. I was starting a nightshift when I met her and she had been labouring for a long time with her husband and doula at her side. Watching her doula in action was eye opening and it was the first time that I saw such loving  hands on labour support. I was in awe. Her support was effortless and comforting and she was so good at it. Her anticipation of the changing needs of the mother was impressive.

 

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Photo taken by the doula.

If thinking about supporting a mama through labour gets you feeling excited, you might be a birth geek and that’s totally awesome. Pacific Rim College is offering an extensive doula certificate program in Vancouver and Victoria. The program really covers a lot of different subjects that relate to carrying for a mother before,during and after birth. and is a 270 hour program.Find out more info about becoming a doula here.

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A few fun links for you: doula stuff, PRC Facebook Page.

Disclosure: While this post has been sponsored by Pacific Rim College, all of the opinions and language are my own.

 

I remember excitedly awaiting my first ever birth back when I was studying to become a perinatal RN. I was just really observing and trying my best at labour support. I was so excited for this mama to push her baby out and see how it all happens. The pediatrician came by the room and asked me how much longer I thought it would be till the baby was born and I confessed how it was my first birth and that I had no idea how long it would be. He responded told me it was probably his 40,000th birth. We chatted a bit about babies and he matter of factly told me how you could tell the personality of a person right from their birth. I had no idea what he even meant but filed that tid bit of info away.

Fast forward to 2008 when I gave birth to my first baby and as soon as I pushed him out he cried loud and long and didn’t stop crying till he was over 5 months old. Even when the crying settled down he was still high needs and required a lot of touch and parenting to wind down and settle. I couldn’t help but reflect on what that pediatrician had told me back at my first delivery and, in our care, it was totally true.

I always felt that Ben just hated being a baby. He was much more content when he was able to move around on his own and do more things. As he grew into toddlerhood I could still see some of his high need qualities growing with him. He needed quite a bit of comfort to go to sleep, he disliked loud noises and all of the earthquake/fire drills at preschool would freak him out. When he was an only child we’d take him to the park and it wasn’t a big issue to play one on one with him. Having a 2 year old in tow really changes how I give attention to each kid individually and I’m trying to get better at how I do that.

Since we’ve basically spent the last 2 months together I’ve noticed that my boy is still sort of high needs. The biggest challenge I find is his need to constantly have you play with him. He wants you to be his side kick at all times and I can tell he feels deflated when I respond with a no. No, I have to watch Josie. No, I have to make dinner. No, I want you to play on your own.

We go to the park or playground most days and I’ve noticed that each day it’s the same parenting struggle for me. ‘Mum, play ninjas with me. Mum, lets play Pokemon and have a battle. Mum, you be the monster and chase me around! Mum, what can we do now?’. I find this really exhausting and feel that parental guilt creep up when I’ve turned him down a few times in a row. I always make an effort to play something with him at some point but the truth is, I just want him to run around and play on the playground by himself. I don’t always want to have to play ‘something’ with him.

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I know that this is parenting and  I’ve got to learn how to be involved in some of the stuff that he loves too. Ultimately, I want him to learn that it can also be fun to play on your own. Sometimes I just want to go to the park with my kids and enjoy watching them go up and down the steps to the  slide and master the monkey bars with sweat on their face. I want to push them on the swings and cheer for them when they finally figure out how to get up the rope pyramid.

I also totally see that my kid is so ready to go back to school and be challenged and get that constant interaction with other kids that he loves so much. He needs to play ‘Pokemon’ with his old kindergarten buddies because I just can’t pretend to be Pikachu again. I can’t.

Do you actively play with your kids at the park? What’s your style?

Articles to check out: 9 Reasons Why Parenting is the World’s Hardest Job, Dr. Sears and What High Needs Means, The Value Of Play

 

 

 

I love living in Vancouver and I especially love it during our summer months. The sweet warm summer days we get to enjoy make up for those 8 months of rain that bestow Vancouver the rest of the year. We live through the constant rain and associated attire so that when June, July and August come our way we are rewarded with beach time, mountain hikes, seawall bike riding and more.

People always ask me, ‘are you guys going on any holidays this summer?‘ and I always respond, ‘nope…this is the place to be in the summer!‘. In fact, each summer Vancouver floods with tourists trying to catch a piece of the awesomeness of this city. Cruisers dock and check out the downtown, people from all over the world book up the hotel rooms and try to join in on the fun. Sometimes our routine quiet little spots are over filled with extra people, and while that is not always great, we totally understand why people come on their holidays to check out our city!

We live right downtown and truly we haven’t had a boring day since school was out for Ben in June. Every day that we can we get up to something and have so many fun things  to choose from. On our laziest hottest days we trek a few blocks down to the beach for some digging and swimming and making sand castles. Sunset Beach, English Bay, Second Beach…we love them all. We love the pool at Second Beach and it is great for little children and parents alike.

Flying a kite at English Bay on a hot summers day.

Flying a kite at English Bay on a hot summers day.

If we need to escape the sun we head around the corner to Science World and spend hours going through the kid friendly exhibits there. We have an annual pass and the kids are at great ages (5 and 2) to make use of all of the different types of fun on each level. Favourites include the hands on science at the Eureka! exhibit. The kids love doing the light and sound experiments on their own and the 2 year old loved anything to do with water.

Many days this summer we’ve taken the water taxi across False Creek and headed to Granville Island. This is a family favourite and I love the idea that as my kids will grow and Granville Island will be a big part of their memories. Sometimes we go cheap and just play at the water park or the playground behind the Kids Market. We run in the green space and we always play in the pretend boat and feed the birds! Our favourite stop include buying donuts from Lee’s Donuts right in the public market and I often get a delicious coffee at the JJ Bean right next to there too.

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Just hanging around. Climbing the old equipment in the green space at Granville Island.

 

Vancouver is awesome and my list could go on and on with all of the fun things we get up to. What’s your favourite summertime activity in Vancouver?