Recently someone commented to me, ‘Andrea, I love reading your blog and it look like you guys are always having such a great time BUT…aren’t you just sharing the good stuff? Are you really that happy?’.
The honest answer is, yes and no people! It turns out that I actually love having fun with my kids and we do have a lot of happiness in our daily lives. I’m actually that person who feels total sadness thinking our two months of summer vacation is coming to an end. I’ve truly loved every field trip we’ve gone on this summer and I’m actually dismayed that I don’t have more time with my three kids to get to even more fun outings with the three of them.
I’m also human and I have three kids who wake up and are ridiculously hungry the second their feet hit the ground. There are your usual sibling fights and lots of, ‘who didn’t flush the toilet?!’. I get asked about Minecraft a bazillion times each day, from two different kids. I often don’t have enough time to wash my hair regularly and I’m notorious for wearing the same outfit multiple days in a row.
Sometimes I can’t wait for my three kids to go to sleep because I just want to be silent for a few hours. However, no matter what kind of daily irritations occur I still choose happiness. If you read this blog, follow me on Instagram or the Mama in the City Facebook page, I can assure you that what you see is what you get.
Here is how, as a mum of three, I make sure happiness soaks into our lives every day.
- I schedule breaks into each month that are just about me and not just me as a ‘mum’ doing stuff for my kids. I book a babysitter and go get a pedicure/a massage/run errands for myself. This is not selfish and this is a big part of my overall happiness. These small outings give me something to look forward to and allow me to appreciate the time spent with my kids more.
- We get out of the house (and by house I mean condo!). I find sibling fights, my own irritation level and everyones overall mood is totally effected by staying at home. It is so much easier to load up the stroller and get outside than it is to stay home and constantly be putting out fires. Even a short outing can instantly change all of our moods.
- When it’s all feeling too much for me and I can feel my breath stuck in my chest and my shoulders are tensed up by my ears, I make frozen pizza for dinner. Funny enough, my kids love when this happens! While I’m busy trying to decompress from whatever it is, they are cheering about getting to have a frozen pizza for dinner. It’s a win win. Sometimes it is okay to just exist and get by.
- My vice is good coffee and I’ve found that tiny rewards can truly make my day. Three kids is a lot of work and sometimes that short adult interaction at the coffee shop is what fuels my happiness. Holding that iced Americano or that warm (three shot!) latte in my hand as we trek to the park is what gets me through the day.
I am fully embracing this season in my life, the happy parts and the chaotic mind numbing parts. One day I hope to be that old wrinkly granny reminiscing about the glorious summer days I spent with my three little kids.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of walking down the Vancouver seawall to English Bay, you’ve probably seen the large Inukshuk monument near the waters edge. This structure definitely has some history and is a landmark in the city of Vancouver.
Constructed of grey granite by Alvin Kanak of Rankin Inlet, this monument was commissioned by the Government of the Northwest Territories for its Pavilion at EXPO 86 and later given to the City of Vancouver. In 1987, the Inukshuk was moved to this site and sponsored as a gift to the City by Coast Hotels through the Vancouver Legacies Program – Read the Plaque
My oldest has done different field trips to study this specific Inukshuk, including walking from school to sketch it and learn the history. Whenever we walk, bike or drive by this large stone structure we can’t help but check out this special landmark on the beach.
Today we did a big beach walk from our condo and passed this site like we always do. However, today was different as we stopped and climbed down a small rocky path, along with a bunch of other children, and took a look at all of the small Inukshuk made by different people that have stopped at the beach. One boy told us he stops by every other day to make a new one, sometimes his old ones are still there and other times they are gone.
An Inukshuk is a man made figure constructed out of piled stones or boulders. Each figure is used to communicate with other people throughout the Arctic and is large enough to be seen from afar. Inukshuks are used to signal where food might be or as navigational aids. They are basically communication centres used by people back in the day. Of course, nowadays these little figures on the beach are merely decoration, but I love the history behind it.
Have you ever visited the Inukshuk in English Bay or made your own tiny version?
I’ve always felt that summertime in Vancouver is the real reason we put up with so many rainy months. It is absolutely gorgeous here from around the middle of June till sometime in September and there are so many things to do outside. With the compliment of great weather and fun activities there’s always something to see and somewhere to go.
When I received the email detailing a medieval feast at our favourite restaurant I knew we had to do. Chambar is our all time favourite restaurant in downtown Vancouver and we’ve been regulars for the last decade. It’s one of those places where you can never get a bad meal and the flavours are always out of this world. Last Friday evening we checked out their celebration of National Belgian Day and we were promised a midsummer medieval feast and an evening of true civilized debauchery.
When we arrived the place was hopping with people attending the dinner. Once seated we noticed the purposeful lack of actual cutlery and napkins on the family style tables. However, one large bib and a wet wipe were at my seat and ready to be used. The menu boasted a celebration of eight birds served family style and plenty of Belgian beer to choose from.
Most people seemed to be there with groups of friends, which would make family style eating a lot easier than just a couple as one platter was served for about six people. It was a little awkward sharing a plate of food with complete strangers, especially when it came time to eat salad with your hands, but alas we did survive and ended up enjoying ourselves. I did quietly ask the server, if in fact I was suppose to just dig into the salad with my fingers and she did assure me that was part of the medieval feel of the dinner and so I truly just embraced it!
We ate from 7:30 PM till just before 11 PM and the two of us were so full that I don’t think we ate anything until 2 PM the next day. The last savoury course was actually too much and neither of us did more than pick at it. Eating small plates over a long period of time really fills you up and we left feeling like we definitely feasted.
The final bird of the night was this dessert swan that was filled with delicious cream. Despite being ridiculously full we both enjoyed the Swans of Nico Lake! We ended up walking home through the city in attempts to digest this feast a little bit more before calling it a night. This was such a fun way to spend a summer date night on a Friday in Vancouver!
I’m going to be totally real here, I do not love cooking at all and find making dinner to be a total chore. This totally opposite from my husband who is an amazing at home chef who can take random pantry ingredients and toss them together to make some creation. His passion for cooking is what caught my eye from the very beginning.
One of my favourite things to put together is a dinner salad, probably because it is hard to go wrong and I love a big salad. Our very favourite dinner salad is made with fresh wild salmon served over greens. I can actually put this together and it tastes just as amazing as when my husband makes it. Huge win for me!
We’ve been making this salad for the last few years and we are currently taking advantage of the summer salmon season. I love fresh wild salmon and so when I see it at the market I always know that this salad will be on our menu.
The prep for this salad can be done ahead of dinnertime and chilling the salmon cakes before grilling helps them to hold their shape. This salad is so flavourful and filling with a definite tartness from the tartar sauce and that bit of crispiness from the cakes, together it makes it the perfect combo.
You can most definitely use your favourite store bought tartar sauce but if you want go for full flavour try this recipe and you will not be disappointed. If I was cooking this dish I’d probably ask my hubby to make the tartar sauce. Homemade condiments are a bit fiddly for me but it’s totally his kind of thing. The other side is that you won’t find a better tartar sauce than one you can make yourself.
Now this is dinner. Seriously my favourite summer salad and that’s why I’m sharing it with you. After we made this we ate it on the patio together once the kids went to bed. It was a little at home date night with full flavour. I could eat these salmon cakes every day.
Yesterday my two older kids were off at summer day camp so it was just the toddler at home with me. Fortunately for me this third child is feistily independent and can play on her own for a decent amount of time. I usually can set her up with something and she just plays while I do a project at home. Doing any kind of home project while all three kids at at home is nearly impossible and the mess accumulates faster than the tidying gets done.
One of my goals this summer was to go through the kids room and do a big purge. I usually try to do a big sort and purge about three times a year, the summer is one those times. I sort out school papers and art collections that have accumulated, I go through their drawers and closet and generally take out things that don’t need to be there. We donate clothes and books, recycle what we can and toss any garbage or broken items.
Living in an apartment means that I need to be very aware with what we have and keep it organized. Our two big kids share a room but all three kids share that space for their clothes and toys. We have two different dressers in the bedroom and the two girls share the biggest one. The closest is actually used to house most of their toys and we use three TROFAST storage from Ikea with removable bins inside the closet. Special treasures they don’t want to share go in their under bed storage.
There is one big bookcase that doubles as a toy display and book shelf. We have a lot of books! Which is something I love to make space for. Our home library spans from board books to chapter books and I make sure to have a variety of books on display for them. I pull out seasonal or themed books throughout the year and keep the rest in a box in the top of their closet. Sometimes I will go into their bedroom and find one of three kids just sitting on the floor beside the bookcase looking at a book. Which is a personal parenting win!
Just recently I bought my son a zippered bedding, think sleeping bag with an attached fitted sheet, for his top bunkbed. Since we use the room to play in I wanted the beds to look tidy and making the top bunk with regular bedding is like putting pyjamas on a cat. Now that he has this new style of bedding he is charge of zipping it up each morning and it definitely looks tidy and I don’t have random bedsheets draping off the bunk bed.
My kids love sharing a bedroom and it works for our family and our space. I know for sure that if we lived in a big home with different bedrooms that they would still want to sleep in the same space together. They feel comforted with their sibling their and are eagerly waiting for the littlest to be old enough to share a room with them too. We shall see how that unfolds as time goes on!
I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of the kids room in our apartment. As a family of five, and one silly dog, we live in 1200 square feet with two bedrooms, a den and two bathroom. I think that living space can really be tailored to what works for your family and biggest isn’t always better.
The last two years we’ve had a really good thing going in our daily life. I’d drop my oldest boy off at his school, get my middle girl to her preschool, located in a different spot downtown, and then spend a couple of hours with the littlest before we were back at preschool for pick up.
Every afternoon it was just us three girls spending time together. We’d hang out at the park, walk the seawall, head out to lunch at a restaurant or head to the beach. Really, we just had a lot of fun together and often got up to different city adventures. On days that I wasn’t working, or sleeping post night shift, we had this groove going. Now that the school year is coming to an end I’m starting to feel aware of all the changes coming our way.
I’m one of those people that doesn’t get too excited about change and I hardly ever seek it out on purpose. It takes me weeks to figure out how to move a piece of furniture or hang a photo on the wall because, ultimately, it would mean things will be different. I like routine and I like the same. However, at the same time I’m literally in awe of people who eagerly uproot their lives and move their family across the world or even those people who are constantly moving around furniture at home.
In a few days our school year will be over and we will get to spend a glorious two months together and I could not be more excited. When it comes time for back to school I will have two kids at the same school for the full day and the silly thing is, I’m already mourning the loss of having my middle girl hanging out with us all afternoon.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited for this girl and her upcoming kindergarten milestone and she is so ready to go to school. I cannot wait to see her thrive and become a school kid. I’m just feeling the change and aware of the shift that is slowly happening. I’m so used to pushing the stroller around the city with my curly haired sidekick hanging on to the side chatting up a storm and telling jokes. It was these moments that have helped to shape my motherhood.
We have two days left of this familiar routine and we are actively cramming in all the girl time we can. All while I’m being totally ridiculous and mourning the loss of the routine we have had together for the last two years. Motherhood can be so humorous sometimes, you can be equally excited for new milestones for your children and at the exact same time be mourning the loss of what you had.