Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

We’ve spent the last few weeks moving through a constant hustle and bustle with a side of summertime relaxation and a generous side of strawberry infused gin and tonic.

Last week I got off from a night shift Monday morning and before I could slurp back a mug of delicious coffee, I was back at my other life with my tiny crew catching the water taxi over to Granville Island for a week of afternoon summer camp.

I am really not good at just jumping from working all night to having a regular normal day. I hate it. Working night shifts leave me feeling zapped and gross and I have to majorly push myself forward. It’s like I have a big hangover without the awesome party.

Even though I’ve been to Granville Island hundreds of times over the decade and a half of being a Vancouverite, this time I was able to see a lot more of the area. I had time to kill while the older kids were busy getting their art attack on and I was attempting to nap the youngest in the stroller.

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I had this idea that I’d be wandering around the island in a state of blissful peace while the little one napped in her stroller. I even contemplated packing along a book. What a total joke. That girl has a major case of FOMO and would not sleep on the go despite my usual bag of tricks.

Instead we wandered to every edge of Granville Island, stopping to look around. We took things kind of slow and went to spots we had never explored before.

One of the days she was awake for 12 hours in a row. Not ideal! This girl needs to nap at home and will not shut off when out and about. She has a serious fear of missing out. Life is too exciting in her world.

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Her eyes would look so exhausted and she’d be so close to crashing, but her tiny little hands would grip the stroller bar and her hazel eyes would be trying hard to stay half cracked as if not to miss anything.

Instead we walked and walked and cuddled on the grass. We looked a the buzzy buzzy bees in the lavender, ate donuts and watched the buskers perform.

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I even treated Lizzy to the thrill of actually putting a coin into the little rides at the Kids Market. Letting her experience the ultimate joy of a moving ride without a big brother or sister trying to cram on with her.

*FOMO: fear of missing out

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Just like that another school year has come to a close. It feels like I was just fretting about sending kid #1 off to kindergarten and soon we will have a grade three boy, a preschooler and a toddler. Life definitely ticks by and kids are amazing at marking just how fast time goes.

Last summer I had a new baby and a bout of postpartum anxiety that made me not want to venture too far from home. I under enrolled the kids in summer activities and by the second week of our summer break I was questioning how we’d all get through the two months off.

This summer will be a mix of day camps and lazy days. Enough structure that we can keep busy and the kids can meet new friends and learn new tricks. Next week the big kids have afternoon art camps on Granville Island and I’m thinking the sunny weather will be perfect for some post art class water park fun.

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One thing I want to do a lot of over the next few months is hit up the beach and outdoor pools. Vancouver has some really fantastic options and one of our favourites is Second Beach Pool in Stanley Park. Now that #3 is nearly walking, I want to be able to keep up with all three of my kids and get right in there.

Before I can pack the beach bag and get the inflatable pool rings I need to find a bathing suit. Not having a suit is holding me back from potential fun and I hate that. I had a maternity bathing suit and I had a pre third baby swim suit but now I need a fresh start.

I’ve had my eye on local Vancouver company Nettle’s Tale as they promise swim suits for everyday women. In the past I’ve worn everything from a bikini, tankini and full bathing suit with extra support. Whatever the case this time, I need to get a new suit ASAP! Summer is waiting and so are my kids.

A beer guide

This weekend I am going to go and buy a bathing suit. If I publish that and throw it out to the world, it will get done.  Come Monday morning I will be the proud new owner of one (or more!) fantastic bathing suits. Summer vacation here WE come!

 

 

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

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Photo by Alana Couch Photography

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

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

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

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

Photo by Alana Couch Photography

Photo by Alana Couch Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Mama ALL DAy.Nurse ALL NIGHT.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

<Post Night Shift Reality HITS HARD>

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

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

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

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

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Current Crushes

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May 27, 2016 // Beauty

When I find something that I truly love I just cannot keep it to myself. Here are my current favourite things that I’m totally crushing on.

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Last week we had a wedding to go to and I wanted to buy a new dress that could see me through the wedding but that could also be worn many times over. Luckily on my first stop I found a simple dress, the Wilfred Free Muse dress from Aritzia.  This dress can be dressed up or down and it has pockets! Something my husband totally didn’t get why I was so excited about, but pockets on dresses are seriously awesome.

A while back I was walking around downtown and decided to treat myself to something that I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. A nebulizer diffuser from Saje Wellness. Ever since I brought it home I’ve been diffusing their Relax oil blend in my bedroom and I can’t get enough. When I love something I always have to share and so I bought my mum her own nebulizer for Mother’s Day.

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One thing that drives me nuts is being out and having my iPhone have no charge. Having to search for an outlet to charge up my phone or just having to deal with a phone that is on 1%. I’ve definitely moved to that level where having a phone with me feels kind of mandatory and it’s kind of my life line. I got an Apple battery pack case and there’s no turning back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Becoming a nurse came quite naturally for me. I had been an asthma patient through out my childhood and that gave me my first introduction to nurses. Having to stay over night in the paediatrics ward without your parents, makes you bond with your nurse when you’re little.

In grade two I wrote an essay on the topic ‘What I Want To Be When I Grow Up’, which was to become a nurse. I was asked to read it out loud at a school assembly, I remember feeling nervous and crumpling the paper up while waiting for my turn at the microphone. One line of the essay went, ‘I want to be a nurse so that I can help people and also give them shots‘. Turns out that I don’t love to give my patients shots but if I need to, I’m pretty good at it.

I’m either driven by passion or just really stubborn and stick to my decision and at 23 years old I graduated with a degree in nursing. I packed up my bags and moved to the city to work as a nurse on a medical unit. It felt so fresh and exciting to live in a new city and to be just starting my career. I have some great memories from the first year of nursing, nursing friends are some of the greatest friends you will meet. I know that much for sure.

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Three years after working on a really diverse medical unit in the city, I went back to school and specialized in perinatal nursing. School started a week after I got married and so we gave up on having the honeymoon we had planned, Mexico for two weeks, so that I could go back to school on time.

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I fell in love with learning about birth and babies and ten years ago I started working as a maternity nurse in the city. A decade later and I am still passionate about pregnancy and birth and post partum care.

You can usually catch me smiling at work as I genuinely enjoy being part of a woman’s labour. My favourite thing to do is provide labour support right from the start of an admission and I also enjoy supporting new mothers with breastfeeding in the early days.

It was interesting going back to work after my own maternity leave as it seemed that every patient I met over the two days asked me if I had any children. When they heard that I had three, and the last one was just born a year ago, they all seemed to enjoy that answer. I love being able to connect with the women that I meet.

Hi, I’m Andrea and I’m a nurse.

 

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Tucked away on Granville Island is the Arts Umbrella, an inspired program for children who are inspired to create. Children are invited to learn about music, theatre, dance and more. Coming up next week Arts Umbrella will be hosting Theatre and Music Expressions Festival over at the Waterfront Theatre showcasing some of their amazing student talent.

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I’m taking my two big kids to see ‘Story Stew’ which Arts Umbrella will be presenting along with a variety of other shows from May 11-22, 2016.

“STORY STEW: A FAIRY TALE REVUE by Stacey Lane

You know the old woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do. But did you know that her children are Jack, Jill, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Hansel, Gretel and that lamb-loving Mary? Familiar fables take on new twists in this energetic romp through the enchanted forest.

Show times: May 14 @7pm, May 19 @7pm, May 22 @ 2pm
Tickets: $15″

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Enter to win a family four pack of tickets to the show of YOUR choice! All you need to do is tell me which show you would like to go to and leave it in the comment section. I’ll let you know who won May 6th.

 

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Another Mother

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April 26, 2016 // Parenting, Pure Mama

I didn’t see her when I first walked through the door of the pediatrician’s office. I was too busy rushing to get there on time as balancing three kids and appointments is always a bit of work. It was when I caught my breath and pushed the stroller into the waiting room that I saw her sitting on the bench with her tiny newborn nestled in her lap.

This mama looked tired and had on layers of clothing and a messy bun. She smiled at me and I could tell instantly she wanted to chat. Babies are excellent conversation pieces and soon she was asking how old my baby was.

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She told me that she was so exhausted and had mixed up her pediatrician appointment and it was actually next week. It had taken her three bus transfers with her newborn to get to the doctors office and once she got there she got the news.

We both laughed together about how being tired and sleep deprived totally does suck out your brain cells out. We both were comfortable with each other and I could tell that she really wanted to chat to another mother with a baby.

It was her first baby and he was four weeks old and she was surprised at how all consuming it was taking care of a baby and how she felt like motherhood was never ending. She kindly asked if my baby was still nursing now that she had just turned one. Then followed up with a bunch of questions. Do one year old babies still wear diapers? Does she sleep through the night? What does she eat? Will she ever get a break?

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When I told her this was my third baby she was shocked and amazed. Quickly she asked me questions about how I could look so put together when I had three children to take care of? I told her it was the same outfit I had worn for the last two days in a row and when you find something that works you just keep going until someone spills milk on it. She loved that and laughed out loud. It was like I was trading insider secrets with the new recruit.

She asked me if things got easier because she was finding this new role so all consuming. I told her that things keep changing and you learn to adapt. I told her that with each baby I let my expectations change and that I’ve learned to do more with less.

Soon I was called in for the baby’s check up and we waved goodbye to each other.I gave her a smile and wished her the best as I carried on with my own motherhood.

 

 

 

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