Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Last week I had my first ‘return to work’ dream and it was a good one. My husband does not love hearing about my dreams. I’m thinking he is too logical to love crazy dream stories. However, his hate of rehashing dreams and wondering what they mean won’t stop me from sharing here.

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This dream was totally a back to work angst filled dream. It had me as a mix of  a ‘Call The Midwife’ type of nurse and a surgical nurse mixed together. I was back at work and was told to go see a patient who was in labour at some obscure address. When I arrived I realized I had none of the proper tools that I was going to need to see and treat the patient.

I quickly realized the patient wasn’t actually a maternity case but required an emergent in-home surgery instead, that’s totally logical in dreamland. Obviously I got to work and took care of the situation and used my surgery skills right there on the kitchen floor to extract a huge blade that had perforated her abdomen. Easy peasy!

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When I woke up I had a quick panic about going back to work and just lay in my bed, eyes wide open, worrying about all the things work related. How will I manage it? I’m so tired already! Who will take care of the baby?

I feel so fortunate to have taken three different maternity leaves over my career as a registered nurse. I always had a job safely tucked away waiting for me to return and thanks to Canada’s amazing maternity leave, I took the full year off with ease. I never felt pressured about coming back earlier or having my job disappear if I stayed away.

It seemed like as soon as I had the baby people were asking me if I would return to work. The answer is, yes I am going back to work. I love being a nurse! I love working with labouring mamas and it’s really truly my calling to be a perinatal RN.

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Truly the work is exhausting and the 12+ hour shifts are not at all family friendly (or person friendly). The night shifts are hard and finding time to sleep and recover gets more impossible with each extra family member that is added. I am not looking forward to that part at all and I can already feel the angst of the night shift hangover.

Despite the glaringly obvious negatives, shift work/long extended hours/night shifts/weekend shifts, I’m returning to my career because at the end of the day I truly love my job and the families that I get to meet. I enjoy making an impact and a difference each time I meet a new mother.

Going back to work this time around I feel like I have more to offer the women I meet. I’ve got a bit of street cred when it comes to birthing babies and I’m looking forward to offering labour support again and also being part of a team.

Did you know that nurses make the best friends? Seriously. It’s true. Nothing like

I’ve already booked my return to work date, April 29th for all you keeping track, and I’ve printed off my shift work schedule for the rest of the year. I’m making sure all my credentials are up to snuff before going back and, dreams aside, I’m making a purposeful point not to sweat it.

Bring on those babies! Mama in the City is reporting for duty!

 

PS. That is totally the face I make when looking at newborns. Top photo a newborn whose birth I was at. Bottom photo is my own baby #3. Different babies. Same adoring face. Man, I love babies!

 

 

 

I love planning birthday parties for my kids but I also love them to be simple without a lot of stress or fuss. After all, I don’t want to spend time being stressed out over party details when kids aren’t even focused on them. Turns out kids don’t care if you made the cupcakes or buy fancy ones, as long as there is icing to lick!

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For Josie’s fourth birthday party I asked her what kind of party she wanted and I got a very fast reply, anything and everything unicorn! We love doing an old fashion party with games, cake and a piñata.

Party Games and Activities

We booked a professional face painter  I am so glad that we did. What a fun treat and all of the children loved it! Melanie Dawn came highly recommended and we loved having her professional expertise. If you are local and looking for a first class face painter I highly recommend booking Melanie.

 

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Lucky for me my big sister is the queen of parties and also a kindergarten teacher. So, when I asked her if she could help me put together DIY rainbow bracelets she told me she already had all the supplies! Every party goer got to sit down and string together their own gorgeous rainbow of colours to take home.

About a month before the party I found a fun rainbow piñata and knew that our theme of unicorns was going to expand to include rainbows too.  I stuffed it full of treats and chocolate gold coins and was excited for it to be cracked open. How perfect to have a spray of gold coins once the rainbow piñata cracked open!

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Party Food

In the past I’ve hosted full on luncheons and fed all of the parents too, but this year we made the birthday party during the afternoon and it was ideal. As much as we loved hosting lunches in the past, it always added a layer of stress, expense and planning too. At 4 years old and up, I like parents to drop off their kids, if they feel comfortable, and leave them.

Over The Rainbow homemade vanilla cupcakes. Soft vanilla cupcakes iced with blue buttercream icing. A rainbow belt and white fluffy clouds completed

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Unicorn Rainbow Popcorn was waiting at the seat of each little guest. We popped some corn on the stove top, lightly salted the popcorn, drizzled in white chocolate with a dash of colourful sprinkles! Thanks to the lovely Erin of Sparkle Media for that idea!

An edible fruit rainbow: Remember, ROYGBIV? Great lesson for the little kids and healthy snacking to boot.

Special Touches

What I love about putting together birthday parties for my kids is the small touches that mean so much. I contacted Christine of La Macaronette and she put together these tasty and sweet unicorn cookie pops that each child took home at the end of the party. A fabulous tasty party favour.

Chic Fete, a Vancouver based company, has the cutest pint sized chairs and tables to rent for children’s parties. Since we were in our condo’s amenities room, we needed a few seats for the kids. The kid sized long table and chairs worked perfectly for our little guests.

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The best part of throwing any birthday party is the happiness that I get to see on my kids faces. Josie was absolutely thrilled to have her friends all together in one place and that meant so much to me.

 

This past weekend I willingly stayed home the entire span of Friday night to Sunday, only venturing outside once at around 4 PM Sunday afternoon for some park playtime.

Friday afternoon I started to warn my family that Saturday would be a cleaning purging day and that everyone was expected to pitch in. By the end of day on Saturday we had purged four XL garbage bags of ‘stuff’ from our 1200 sqf condo. Living in an apartment means there is no basement to pitch stuff when you don’t need it. There are no extra closets to store collections in that won’t be actively used.

All the extras that have been brought in have to be purged to help make our living space flow and to also make room for all that new art work the kids bring home from school each week. It is like a revolving door of purging/recycling/reusing.

I know for sure that having a tidy home directly affects my mood and after last weeks gong show of a Monday, I was feeling like something needed to change. Last weekend we had been all been busy and the routine household stuff was put off to the side.

Here’s what the big kids did:

  • sorted out our wheeled art cart and got rid of dried out markers and scraps of paper
  • recycled colouring books that had been hoarded for the last few years
  • Ben’s desk drawer was thoroughly redone and treasures were relocated to proper spots. It is amazing how so many scraps of paper accumulate in a tiny desk drawer!
  • The kids library was reorganized and we went around and picked up all the books that had landed elsewhere over the last week

I was able to take time in the master bedroom and purge out some clothes and reorganize the baby’s space that had gotten messy. She shares our room and it’s easy for diapers and blankets to overtake her little corner. With a tidy bedroom I seriously feel a sense of calm and appreciation for what I have.

My husband was fully on board for this weekend and he did errands for us and cooked up a storm on Sunday. A freezer full of meals is simply the best gift I could be given.

 

Super easy fun experiment. Put milk into a dish. Add drops of food colouring. Then a couple of drops of dish soap. Watch the reaction! We blew the colours around revealing new colours!

Super easy fun experiment. Put milk into a dish. Add drops of food colouring. Then a couple of drops of dish soap. Watch the reaction! We blew the colours around revealing new colours!

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Both kids were equally impressed.

 

When our home was feeling nice and sorted we were able to play and have fun. We did science experiments at the kitchen table and made forts on the bunk bed. It was serious family time without having to leave the apartment. Apparently redoing our art cart made it even more fun to do spontaneous projects too, which I really love.

I need to do this clean and purge every few months or maybe even more. What do you do to keep all the extra stuff at bay in your home?

 

 

Well, That Was Monday

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January 18, 2016 // Parenting

Out of the seven days of the week Monday is notorious for sucking the most. There are over a hundred different memes to back me up on that one.

Last Monday started off with a frantic sweaty rush to get everyone out the door to school and preschool on time. I hate being late or feeling rushed. Backpacks were not emptied from Friday and gross lunch containers were discovered at the last possible minute. Jackets were not being put on and there was far too much banter and random questions being asked at the front door.

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Sigh. Breathe. Hope for the best. Monday can’t be that bad? It’s a fresh start to the week, right?

The only thing I had on the agenda, outside of the usual stuff, was a visit to the baby’s doctor for a check up. We were totally fine for time and I was actually feeling kind of relaxed as I brought the two girls and the stroller to the parking garage to load up the car. Soon Monday reared its head.

I hadn’t realized my hubby had previously loaded the car with our big fake Christmas tree. If I left the huge tree in the car, we wouldn’t all fit in but if I took it out and left it in the parking spot we could face a strata fine. I was annoyed with the situation and just hauled that big ass tree out of the car and put it in the parking spot and continued on to get to the appointment. Sweating. Muttering annoyances under my breathe.

I got in the car and noted that the time was still decent. I turned on the car and realized the empty on the gas dial was on the ‘really, the gas is totally empty, so get out and push‘ sign and not just the kind casual warning of ‘fill ‘er up when you can!‘.

This is when I first said it. ‘Fuck!’. It just came out of my mouth and, ultimately, it made me feel better for a second. Now not only did I need to drive through downtown to the ONLY gas station in the area, but I was going to be late for the pediatrician appointment and I despise being late. I started to feel extra sweaty and all kinds of frantic.

I drove out of our underground parking, being extra careful not to ‘use too much gas’ in hopes that I would make it the few blocks to the gas station. Once we were outside it was pouring rain and I felt my level of annoyance literally bubble up. The drive was tense and I was so anxious that I would run out of the gas fumes I was driving on and breakdown in the middle of a busy intersection downtown.

Once again, it just came out of my mouth, ‘what the fuck!’.

Josie starts to ask me questions about which My Little Pony I like the most, meanwhile the car is shuttering and shaking from coasting on gas fumes and the rain is pelting down like a blanket of water. The stress factor was at an all time high and I can see the minutes ticking by on the clock. I seriously hate being late for appointments and get all uppity if I think I am going to hold up the appointment.

It slipped out of my mouth again, ‘what the fuck!’.

Followed by a loud deep sigh and a quick moment of feeling better and then back to the frantic feeling of getting into the gas station before my car was all out of gas fumes.

We seriously coasted through the busy city intersection, pulled up to the gas pump with maybe half a second to spare and that is when I hear it, ‘so, hey, what the fuck mum?’.

I stopped. I took a big breath. I look in my rearview mirror and my nearly 4 year old girl is just kind of hanging out in her carseat. No real expression, just a subtle shrug of her shoulders.

We carry on and drive through the city and I catch my breath with a full tank of gas and minutes to spare until our appointment is suppose to start. By some amazing feat we were actually right on time for the baby’s appointment and not even a minute late. We do the well baby doctor visit and all goes well.

As we are leaving I am definitely feeling more relaxed and that’s when an older sweet looking woman approaches me. She wants to tell me that she clearly could tell that I am enjoying motherhood. Apparently I was gleaming with love and adoration and not sweat and stress like I thought I was.

I am so glad for the end of Monday and the start of Tuesday. Tuesday has to be better and there aren’t many memes for crappy Tuesdays.

 

Whenever I hear of a mama friend with little kids, namely babies, who profess their love for a book they’re currently in the middle of reading, I’m always kind of confused. How do you read a book with little kids around? For real. I am legitimately asking, how do you do this because my current way is not working for me.

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My mum gave me the book ‘Brain On Fire’ by Susannah Cahalan after I had asked for it for Christmas. I had heard a few good things about it and was eager to read it and made it a goal to actually read and finish it before the end of the month. I also had heard it was a pretty easy read and I’d get through it in no time. I’m going to say it was like the beginners book for new mums.

I used to read every single night before going to bed but babies and babies and babies put that on the back burner and I’m missing it. I was seriously considering downloading an audio book and let someone else do the reading for me but I actually love books and reading words.

This is what my first read looked like:

  • Lay on my side with baby near me and nurse her to sleep.
  • Continue to nurse her and hold the book over her head with my arm awkwardly bent.
  • Move my neck into an unnatural position so that I can see the pages over top of the baby’s head.
  • Develop a painful arm from holding the book up and get a kink in my neck.
  • Drop the book on baby’s head and wake her up.
  • Give up and go to bed.

Okay, so it was not my finest moment but I was really trying to read the book and also take care of the sad teething baby who just wanted to be close to me. Right now there is no downtime during the day to put my feet up and flip through a few chapters while sipping a hot cup of tea.

I’m not giving up but I am going to read this book by the end of the month E.en if it means the baby gets bonked by a falling book again (don’t worry, she was not harmed and has not developed a fear of reading).

Go on and give me your inside tips for reading grown up books with little kids around. Have you tried audio books before? Have you dropped a book on your baby’s head before?

 

One thing that I’ve struggle with this past year has been scheduling in time for myself. That’s a no brainer really: I’m raising three kids and it’s busy involved work without a lot of spare time leftover. That is the story of so many parents. Maybe it’s your story too?

Over the last few months I’ve found myself in this flow where my day starts with a boom and quickly bleeds into the night. Morning rush becomes bedtime antics and it’s on repeat.

When my three are all fast asleep, or some rendition of that, and there’s a small potential window of time to focus on myself, I find myself falling into bed to binge watching Netflix before falling asleep or needing to settle the baby again.

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This is a grey haired make up less photo of myself. I’m 36. I have 3 kids. I want to put myself first so that I can be more present and involved. I don’t want to run on empty and I don’t want to make excuses for why I can’t put myself on the ‘to do’ list.

I want to be able to do more things that are just for myself.

  • I want to read a new book from start to finish within a month  (note:  a month to read a novel is realistic when you have little kids. No more page turning all night because it is just such a great book). In fact, I’ve got Brain On Fire  sitting on my night table right now and I am dying to start it.
  • I want to take a walk by myself along Vancouver’s gorgeous seawall and not feel guilty for not doing errands instead. Just me walking at my own pace even if it is just for 15 minutes.
  • I want to write more intentionally and be more present on my blog. Writing has always been therapeutic for me and I’ve missed being involved with writing, sharing and interacting.

Now that the baby is nearly 9 months old I find it easier to leave her for bits of time. I can now go longer between nursing sessions and she eats bits of other food so I don’t feel like it is all me, all the time. She also can go to sleep, albeit on someone, without me being there. I am going to take advantage of this and be okay with other people taking care of my baby for a couple of hours.

Recently my husband and I headed out for brunch while we were visiting family for Christmas. Who knew that an eggs benedict at a funky bistro, with a 45 minute wait to get a seat, could recharge me so much. Dining with just my husband and not as our family of 5 helped to seriously energize the both of us.

I refuse to entertain the idea that doing things just for myself is selfish. Mostly because it’s not and it’s ridiculous to feel bad about  being good to yourself. In my attempt to be a good mother I need to take care of myself. I need to give myself a break, engage my mind and allow myself to do the things that make me feel good.

WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY! Am I right?

So, tell me dear readers. What do you do that is just for yourself? Big or small it all counts. Do you feel like you have enough time to focus on yourself?

I’ve decided not to focus on making time for myself every single day, because that isn’t realistic, instead I’m looking at the month and slotting in things with intention. Like the eyebrow appointment that happened this afternoon and the subsequent sunny cold seawall walk home. It was an hour spent away from my family and it was glorious.

I’m no longer regularly blogging about my 7 year old and that is a conscious parenting decision on my part. Back in 2009 when I started this blog about my one and only apartment baby Ben, he was the topic of all my posts. In fact, there is a whole subcategory about ‘Baby Ben’.

Fast forward to 2016 and I’ve now had 3 apartment babies and a lot of blog posts behind me.

The boy gets a new skateboard for Christmas. He is now basically a grown up kid.

The boy gets a new skateboard for Christmas. He is now basically a grown up kid.

 

Over the years there were a few topics that I purposefully did not blog about. I never wrote about potty training and I’ve never shared any of my children’s flaws or majorly embarrassing moments.

No one needs to discover a post about how they once pooped their pants at preschool and had to do the walk of shame to change into the schools extra pair of clean pants (editor’s note: none of my kids have actually done that, it is purely a funny example).

 

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Man, I love this kid.

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Limiting what I share about my kids on my blog was a purposeful choice back in 2009 and it remains the same today. For me it was about protecting their future person and knowing that one day they might read this blog or maybe a friend of their’s will read this blog.

I’ve found that when my kids are really tiny it is hard to separate their lives from my own life. A baby is so much a part of your every day, every.single.moment, kind of life that it feels natural and easy to write and share about them. However, a 7 year old slowly starts to show you that they are their own person with ideas, thoughts, feelings and a future that isn’t just about you.

If I have one regret about blogging about my kids  it’s sharing their actual names on my blog. Back in 2009 it didn’t seem like an issue to write about ‘Baby Ben’ but social media was quite different and less evolved than it is today. If I could change one thing it would have been to create nicknames for my kids without sharing their actual birth names.

We’ve just started to hear, ‘mum, you aren’t going to post that photo on Facebook are you?’ and that was when I realized my kid actually has a say.

What are your limits when it comes to your kids and sharing via social media? While I’ve found my comfort zone we all have different styles of sharing that work for us.

 

We had a fabulous Christmas cozied up in the city as a family of 5. We couldn’t stop loving on sweet baby Elisabeth and she definitely had a great first Christmas amongst the big kids. We practiced some of our usual family traditions and everything just felt kind of right.

Seriously though, this baby has been the biggest blessing to our family and the best thing to happen to all of us in 2015. It’s kind of amazing when something that was the most stressful part of my life, high risk pregnancy with ++ stress and uncertainty, turns out to be the one of the biggest blessing in my life.

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Baby Elisabeth! 8 months old.

 

I’ve never been a huge NYE fan and I really didn’t care that we had zero celebration plans to ring it in this year, just like most years in the past. However, give me the start of a brand new year and I’m excited!

  • I love all of the freshness and promise that the New Year brings. I go head over heels for a blank calendar that needs to be filled in and taken over.
  • I’m not big into making resolutions or enforcing huge life changes just because it’s the New Year. However, I do like a good purge this time of year! The freshness of space that is created by tossing out heaps of junk and clutter is just what I need post holiday season.
  • Something about over indulging and having a few ‘extras’ over the holiday seasons really lends itself to making January more about healthy eating and I’m totally excited to make big salads for the next few weeks.

 

How do you make the New Year work for you? Let me know what things you embrace or change come January 1st.

 

 

A few years back when I was super pregnant with Josie all I wanted to do was lay flat by the evening. It was Christmastime and my husband and I got into the groove of  binge watching Christmas flicks. This wasn’t an entirely new concept as I was already the proud owner of A Very Brady Christmas and Chevy Chase’s  Christmas Vacation  on VHS.

The last few years we’ve really amped up our game and took most evenings before Christmas to mean Christmas movie watching time. Like a date night every night. I swear my husband would get a bit upset if I had other evening plans that didn’t include watching Christmas movies with him.

Recently I asked on my Facebook page what holiday movies people were watching this year. The cheesier the better! I think this really encompasses most Christmas or holiday themed movies. Here is a list including a few classics all the way to the cheesiest, compliments of Mama in the City readers.

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Love Actually

Jingle All The Way

The Santa Clause 

Little Women 

All I Want For Christmas

Elf

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A Very Brady Christmas

The Holiday

A Christmas Story

Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger

The Family Stone

A Mom For Christmas

Christmas in Wonderland

Did we forget any of your favourite holiday themed movies? In Vancouver the grey cool days and the early sunset really help make movie nights a regular occurrence. We are spending more time indoors and more time just being cozy together

Side note: A ‘Mom For Christmas’ is one that we watch every.single.year because it is amazingly awesome in the cheese department. In case you’ve never heard of it, Olivia Newton John is the star and she is a department store mannequin who comes to life to grant a little girl’s wish. Obviously her special wish is, ‘A Mom For Christmas’ but can a mannequin do a good job at fulfilling this temporary role? Will things go smoothly? Will the little girl get her dream wish? You’ve got to see this movie!

 

Recently we were given the change to experience Christmas at Vancouver’s FlyOver Canada. My big kids, ages nearly 4 and 7, were so excited to go and see what it was all about. When we arrived at Canada Place we didn’t have to wait too long in line before we were hanging out with Santa’s elves and the polar bears in the lounge.

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Before you take your seat on Flyover Canada, you get to hang out in a themed lounge. The decor was spot on and definitely put you into the festive mood. Luckily, Josie just squeaked by in the height department and was able to go on the ride. An extra loop in the lap belt made it safe for us to get on board and get ready for our flight.

The best part of this ride was most certainly hearing my kids giggles and cheers of glee while flying. I think they really thought we might have been flying as the chair literally does lift up and move with the movie. When they spotted Santa’s elves they’d let me know with cheers. Then when a cool mist sprayed on our faces while flying high above the mountains, their happy laughter was seriously joyous. and they were completely engaged the entire ride.

One of the best things about being a tourist in your own city is being able to experience events like Christmas at FlyOver Canada. In fact, this event was so much fun that it shouldn’t just be left for tourists!  As a local, this was so much fun to attend!

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If you are hoping to catch some holiday cheer you have until January 5th to experience Christmas at FlyOver Canada. Whether you are an actual tourist or a local just playing tourist, this event is most definitely fun and will leave a lasting impression of Canada’s beauty.

For tickets click here! Let me know if you enjoyed the delicious S’mores stations after your FlyOver experience!