Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Over the last few weeks we’ve had some fun milestones happening in our family. The kind of milestones where you take photos and tell the grandparents all about it and, if you’re a blogger like me, you blog about them because this is my modern day baby book.

The baby is keeping me busy and I feel like I am constantly learning how to mother her with my heart on my sleeve. That heart is like a red flag covered with glitter and waving in the wind. We’ve had issues with weight gain, tongue/lip tie, torticollis of her neck and right now a possible hip problem we are waiting to see about.

I’m still running on the stress fumes from our high risk pregnancy together and I over analyze and obsess way more than I did with my other 2 back when they were babies. I also enjoy her on a different level and love just snuggling with her at night when the big kids have gone to bed. That weight of a sleeping baby on your chest is like the perfect kind of therapy for a stressful day.

At the start of July Josie started preschool and the girl is loving it. In the city you don’t just sign up for whatever preschool you want and expect to get in right then. You have to go on a waiting list and you have to hope that you get in sometime in the next 6 months and you cross your fingers it is a preschool you actually want to go to.

We went on the waiting list for a local preschool back in February and this past June we heard that a part time spot was available that started in July. It’s not really the days that we wanted but you just take the first spot you get and then keep trying to get what you want. It seriously feels like you won the lottery when you get the email offering you a spot.

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We were so proud of Ben as he really started to love karate and he takes each class so seriously. I will honestly admit that I know nothing about karate other than the black belt is a high level belt and there are kicks and punches and discipline involved. We’ve been taking him twice a week since November and he’s really excelled and enjoyed the whole process, albeit with a few aches and pains along the way.

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In June we took him to the dojo for his belt test and the boy went from the starter white belt to the next level yellow belt. It’s a fun parenting moment watching your children earn rewards and learn new skills and it’s probably one of my favourite parts of parenting to watch them work towards a goal and get there.

I wrote this blog post with the baby snuggled on my chest and a pillow propped up on my lap to hold my laptop at an angle I could type at. Sometimes she was nursing but right now she is sleeping and her little body is warm and heavy. She’s my side kick these days and I’m so happy to have her in my arms.

Next week The Craft Council of British Columbia and Circle Craft Cooperative Summer Market will be back at the Jack Poole Plaza downtown Vancouver for their third annual free summer market. This is a great event for locals and out of towners alike to come and enjoy! I’ve loved their Christmas Markets and I’m sure I will enjoy browsing and shopping the summer market this year. I’m looking forward to the open air style, the summertime vibe and enjoying all of the artisans.

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I’m excited to be giving away 100$ Summer Craft Show Dollars to spend at the upcoming market! One lucky reader will be able to do a little shopping in the sunshine. How awesome is that? This is a short giveaway and the winner will be announced on July 20 and will have 24 hours to claim their  prize.

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No rules on who can enter. If you’ve won this prize or another prize in the past, feel free to try your luck again!

As much as I can I love to buy local and feel fortunate that there are so many fantastic  made items from Vancouver. Whether that’s buying farm fresh food at the farmers market in our neighbourhood or cleaning products and everything in between.

Here are a few of my favourite made in Vancouver products:

First up we have the delicious smelling coconut oat milk bath from Vancouver’s bébé de Luxe . The best part of this product is, if you are generous enough to share it with your kids and they happen to drink the bath water (I know I’m not alone here) it’s seriously no problem as it’s food grade and actually edible. My skin is so soft after soaking in this and the scent is perfect.

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The other day we were hanging out on Granville Island and I finally stumbled upon Delish General Store. I had been wanting to check out this store after seeing them on Instagram and absolutely had to pick up their awesome ‘Strong as a mother’  shirt. While they have a host of other unique items in the shop, I really love their local brand and I can’t wait to be rocking my new t shirt. Especially when I’m having a ‘moment’ and need that reminder that I can seriously do this. Strong as a mother. I love it.

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With all of this gorgeous sunshine that has been pouring down on in  Vancouver shades are kind of mandatory right now. I had to replace my sunglasses last month and luckily while shopping at Yaletown’s Fine Finds Boutique I discovered a new to me brand of sunnies, Kuma. The owner of the shop filled me in on why this Vancouver brand was so cool and I went home with a lovely pair of partial wood frames. The idea is that with every purchase of Kuma Sunglasses a tree is planted and this is something I can really get behind. Learn more here.

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Local distillery Long Table serves up a great bottle of cucumber gin and the owner will give you a personal tour if you happen to ask! Ever since I had my FIRST G+T 2 summers ago (I know, late to the game) I’ve had a soft spot for this beverage. Plus they have fun events happening in the distillery with Friday nights being ‘Gin and Tonic Fridays’ paired with a food truck. You can’t get much more local than that Vancouver combo.

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Okay! Listen up theatre lovers! Theatre Under The Stars is once again hosting their fabulous summer event in Stanley Parks Malkin Bowl and you have a chance to win a very special prize pack.

One winner will receive ALL of this:

A family four-pack of tickets to TUTS Hairspray and a backstage meet & greet for the evening of July 30th, 2015. This includes a fun photo opportunity with the cast and obviously a memorable evening for you.

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My first TUTS experience was Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat back in 2010 and I had a seriously great time. The Malkin Bowl is a fantastic location for an evening of outdoor theatre and definitely leaves an impression!

Read more about the Hairspray production HERE.

The big winner announced Monday July 13, 2015. Enter via Rafflecopter.
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Readers!!

I took your advice.

My husband says that I am seriously stubborn and can’t admit when someone else is right. However, I’m wearing my big girl panties and full admitting that you were right.

In a blog post last week I pondered how I was going to kick ass at motherhood this summer with all three kids. Basically all of you said, ‘get a babysitter’ or ‘don’t be so hard on yourself”. You also told me that it’s seriously okay to have those quiet days where things are a bit disorganized. Basically, aiming low was more than okay.

So, I gave up on the idea of being this really kick ass amazing mama with big planned activities or a bucket list and shifted my expectations. My goals changed from attempting to being really kick ass to just getting out of the apartment at least once per day.

That became my new goal and so far we’ve made it work. Let’s recap on our week.

We hit up all the nearby parks within the neighbourhood for endless playtime. On one such day we had to stop along the way to let the baby nurse. Turns out my big kids just needed some free play with a bunch of rocks next to the ocean to be really happy. Shouts of, ‘THIS IS SO MUCH FUN MUM!‘ came from them as they collected mini rocks and large rocks and made up some sort of game. We stayed there for about 20 minutes before we went to the playground and they requested to come back for more made up rock games.

Mid week I was too busy trying to corral the three kids out the door, and also get myself dressed, so I opted for an outside pizza lunch. It was actually delicious and more tasty than something I might have whipped up. Fresh hot authentic Italian pizza from a local cafe. We sat in the shade and enjoyed the picnic and no one fought and no one cried. Win win all around. We basically just made good use of our neighbourhood and one afternoon we completed the day with a stop to see the train engine. I sat with the baby on the side and the big kids pretend they were going on a journey to make believe places. Lazy parenting at it’s finest. Another win win all around.

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Instead of coming up with unique craft ideas on my own, we headed to the public library to make use of their fun summer program. The kids made wildflower seed bombs out of clay and mason bee houses out of cans. We just had to bring the cans and the rest of the supplies the library provided, including cleaning up the drips of paint and mess that happened from painting the bee houses. This activity was another big win in my lazy parenting method! The big kids loved the craft time and creating something and I was happy that they were busy and doing something that didn’t include a screen. Josie even got her first library card and that was a thrill on its own.

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So, dear readers your advice was just perfect and just what I needed. Thank you! Thank you! I’m not going to pressure myself to have goals that are going to stress me out. Instead I’m going to get out of the apartment every single day and just let this Summer unfold.

 

 

 

When Elisabeth was born I nursed her pretty much right away just like I did with my other 2 babies. I remember watching her tiny jaw move up and down and felt so content nursing my tiny amazing baby. After our stressful pregnancy I just couldn’t believe she was here in my arms nursing.

It took Elisabeth longer than usual to get through those meconium days and it took her a long time to clear her jaundice and get out of the phototherapy box. It also felt like it took forever for her blood sugars to normalize when we were in the NICU with her. The whole issue of low blood sugar was new to me as a parent as my other 2 babies had no NICU stays and no blood sugar issues. I felt like my stressful pregnancy just oozed into stressful post partum days. There was no break from worry and everything we did felt like it took so much effort.

I chose to walk from my patient room to the NICU for every single feed around the clock. Mainly because it was important to me and also cause I was still in awe of this baby. By the time I arrived in the NICU and tried to nurse then give her a top up of donor breast milk and THEN pump, there was about 1.5 hours left to sleep. Of course, like anyone who has been in the hospital knows, sleeping in a patient room is probably the least restful sleep inducing place to be. A housecleaner has to empty the garbage, a resident has to check on how I’m doing, the nurse needs to take my BP, the food delivery person sang a big entrance as she brought in my meal tray. All at different times. This is the story of the hospital.

When we were finally home and somewhat settled I started to relax. I started to feel comfortable with caring for my newest baby and we lazed in bed nursing and doing skin to skin and just recovering. Having her with me was literally my dream come true and it felt just right. So, when we went to the doctors for a baby check up a few days later I was shocked to learn she had dropped even more weight from when we went home from the hospital. How could that be? We were nursing so regularly. I had breastfed both the other kids and had actually been nursing in the early part of my pregnancy.  I knew how to breastfeed. I taught breastfeeding, I was old hat at this game. What was the issue?

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Sweet girl at 3 weeks old. About 6 pounds and a bit.

I set my clock so feeds were very regular and hand expressed breast milk to give to her as a top up. I had a friend who was a lactation consultant come over and watched me feed the baby. We made a plan and it seemed to be working, but it turns out that it wasn’t really. I felt like all I did was nurse this baby and joked to my husband that with the amount of hours I put into feeding her she should be rolly polly like her siblings were. However, she was gaining just the minimum amount of weight that babies are suppose to gain.

Last week I started to tune out the busy life and focus on how my baby was really feeding. She was working hard but I didn’t ‘hear’ a lot of milk swallowing. My girl was doing 100% of the work for about 60% of the reward. I was feeling so frustrated and somewhat defeated and that’s when I flipped the lip and saw that Elisabeth had an upper lip tie and most likely a posterior tongue tie. Was this the issue that has been holding us back from her gaining weight and breastfeeding effectively and efficiently?

STORY TBC……

Go Ahead And Nap

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June 25, 2015 // Parenting

I used to get all worked up if the kids randomly napped, especially if it was in the later afternoon. An unexpected afternoon nap meant that my quiet evenings were shot and they wouldn’t be tired for their usual 7-8 PM bedtime. This meant parenting went on even longer and the only break was sleeping, but even then you might be woken up with the things big kids request.

However, since having the baby there isn’t really the same kind of downtime in the evenings now. The day runs into the evening and the evening runs into the morning and then we (sometimes) change clothes and then we repeat. Those quiet adult only evenings don’t exist the same way. Some evenings I might be in the bedroom with the baby and my husband is cooking or working or finally getting a break.

Some nights it takes me till midnight till the baby is ready to do a stretch of nighttime sleep. I’ve given up getting all irritated when one of the kids randomly falls asleep in the afternoon. Like this afternoon when Josie was hanging out and then passed right out.

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It was tough to wake this girl up after she snoozed for an hour. Even her big brother’s attempts of smooching and tickling didn’t make her flinch. Not even the ridiculous hugs he gave her made her move an inch. Just more snoozing. Obviously, she needed the extra sleep!

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Tonight she’ll be up a couple hours past her usual bedtime, probably closer to 9-10 PM. I’m just going to roll with that.

Now that school is ending for the year, I’ll have all 3 kids together for the next 2 months. I’m starting to worry about entertaining all of them and I want to kick ass at being a mother. I need to find my summertime groove in motherhood. I want to stop just existing, which was just fine when I had a newborn, but I feel like it’s time to get serious.

Last week I had all 3 kids home for ONE day on a weekday and ‘almost’ lost my shit multiple times before it was 1 PM. I won’t admit to the amount of hours the big kids were plastered in front of screens while I was busy with the baby. There were no crafts or homemade activities or anything close to that. At one point I tossed down some crackers, a slab of peanut butter and bunch of cream cheese and called it lunch. I scrambled to get dressed while they made crumbs and ate lunch.

I feel like these summertime months will be a true test of parenting for me and I can’t help but wonder if I’m mom enough to kick ass at it. I still spend so much time nursing, soothing and putting the baby to sleep that I find it a challenge to simultaneously parent the other kids. I find myself yelling at the big kids to BE QUIET  because they’re waking the baby up and I just want the baby to sleep so I can get dressed or maybe wash my face.

Of course, the baby is getting older and we aren’t in the newborn zombie phase anymore but we are still busy. My hands are always busy. We’ve had two great lazy months with slow mornings spent lingering in bed with coffee nursing the baby, but I feel like now is the time to get into some kind of up and at ’em routine that will  be more productive with all 3.

My crew this summer: My 6.5 year old boy who is curious and interested in so many things and likes to be active with a plan. My curly haired 3.5 year old girl who wants to play and sing and glue things and always wants a snack. My tiny little baby that requires a lot of hands on care just to exist.

I want to kick ass at the 2 months of summer break. I don’t want it to be all tv watching while I yell at the kids to be keep it down while I try to put the baby to sleep. I want library days and casual picnics at new parks. I want outings and dirty feet from playing in the sand. I don’t want to feel that uppity stress I often feel. Really, I just want to kick ass at being a mother this summer.

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What do you do to kick ass at motherhood? Do you follow a routine or create structure in your days? Do you let the dishes pile up and go outside to play? Share with me what works for you. I need all the tips I can get!

Back in the day when I was in the dating scene and looking for more of a serious relationship, I read that the best men to date are those that were kind to animals. Apparently, a man who loves animals is less likely to be a pyscho serial killer and I was totally in the market for a non psycho type of man. Except for a small percentage of women, I think most of us would have similar criteria.

It turns out that I met a guy who was pretty serious about his love for animals and rescue dogs in particular. I felt some instant relief that he must be a pretty normal guy given that article I had read about animal lovers being less likely to be a murderer. So, we had our first date and the second date came shortly after and the third date was booked while we were still on the second date.

Fast forward years later to the time we were newly married and his elderly dog lived with us in our apartment. She was so ancient and due to severe arthritis and old dog issues she was in no shape to be traipsing out of the apartment outside to pee. I’m sure at this point many people would choose to put the dog down. However, my husband the dog lover, carried the 45 pound dog in the elevator like a baby and outside till they found a grassy spot. He didn’t complain, he just did it for weeks and months until we both decided it was the end.

Then we had 3 babies together and it turns out this guy is also pretty smitten over newborns and is like a really fun dad. He loves newborns to the point where I had to beg to get the baby back in my arms because he was enjoying holding the baby so much. This happened on so many occasions in those newborn weeks with Elisabeth.

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When we were first dating I was happy to learn that not only was he an animal lover but he was also like the most amazing cook that I knew. I remember on our third date he made me the most delicious high calorie dinner and that’s when I thought to myself, ‘this guy is a keeper’. I guess the rest is history because we’ve  been married nearly 10 years already.

Like most babies, the evening is a time for cluster feeding and it’s the breastfeeding mama who has to sit back and let that baby nurse. I swear the baby knows it is almost time to cook dinner and she pipes up with the saddest hungriest cry ever that are only soothed by me. Since the arrival of baby #3, my husband has taken over dinnertime without any encouragement on my part. Besides the occasional sushi delivery or post partum meal delivered by a friend, he has made every dinner for us since we’ve been home from the hospital.  I know, I am beyond lucky in this department and I am so thankful. Especially thankful as I really dislike cooking dinner and I’m not a fantastic cook to start with.

The picture below is what he cooked for us last week. It was all delicious and most of it was bought locally at the farmers market in Yaletown.

We’ve got fresh halibut cheeks with risotto and local fiddleheads. The first salmon of the season made into salmon cakes on top of seasonal local greens with a side of mash amd sausage and mushroom pizza baked on the BBQ. You can see why I’m hesitant to cook right? If I was to post a collage of my 3 dinner dishes it would be spaghetti, tacos and chicken caesar salad. He obviously wins.

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The modern day dad is a man who likes to cook, loves old dogs and helps raise the babies. He doesn’t hesitate to wear the baby in a carrier or do his daughter’s curly hair in the mornings. He plays with his kids and you can catch him sometimes having just as much fun as the children.

I’m glad that we connected all those years ago on line. Way before it was legit to say you had met someone romantically in cyber space. 3 babies later and a lot of delicious dinners behind us, I’m thinking he was a pretty good catch. Happiest Father’s Day to the father of my three babies. 

Today was a good day, an ordinary Monday with nothing major on the books. Being on maternity leave means that many of our days are casual. My sister and her little daughter came over in the morning for an easy coffee/park/girl cousin get together. The baby decided to cluster feed all morning and we were still in our pyjamas when they buzzed up to our condo to say they were here. Luckily for me, my sister wasn’t thrown off by the pyjama greeting and me giving her the baby to hold while I got dressed for the day.

The babe was fussy in her stroller fighting sleeping, so amidst sips of my iced coffee I slipped her into her carrier and within seconds the girl was snoozing. We ate croissants for lunch and watched the birds flying around oceanside. It wasn’t an overly unique day but it was just perfect for me right now. When the baby came out of the carrier she had delicious buttery flakes of croissant on her. Oops!

Josie, the baby and I (the girls!) all had a short quiet afternoon nap on my bed. It was an unexpected nap that was abruptly over once the house phone rang and sent me into a frenzy. I don’t know what it is, but the sound of the house phone ringing as a wake up call gives me a jolt every time.

Monday’s gorgeous day lent itself to a beautiful evening and the big kids had a picnic style dinner of homemade hamburgers out at the park. I love my kids enthusiasm for going outside and there were shouts of, ‘can we bring the sidewalk chalk?!’ and ‘can we bring lots of toys?!’. Yes to the chalk, no to lots of toys.

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I had stayed behind in the apartment while the kids were outside picnicking and playing with fun dad. I was busy nursing the baby and doing laundry when I decided to throw in the towel, literally, and head outside to meet up with everyone. To be honest,  I felt like a mini celebrity when Josie spotted me walking over and started hollering in excitement.

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Sure, it was just an ordinary Monday but it was a pretty awesome day all the same.  Over the past few months, since we first entered scary stressful pregnancy days with the baby, I’ve really been learning to savour the small and ordinary moments. Sometimes this is a challenge  for me but when I get there, and I do frequently, it feels just right.