Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Part of having kids is that they are always around. Obviously I mean this in the most uplifting positive way but kids will basically rule your social life in every way that is possible. So, why not make them part of your social life? I love doing fun activities with my kids and the older they get the more I really appreciate being able to do fun things with them.

It turns out kids actually like to spend time with their parents. I like taking my kids on excursions where they can gain social skills and learn how to interact appropriately. Knowing full well that one day they will be off on their own.

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  1. Go to the movies. Before I had kids I went to the movies on a somewhat regular basis and loved the whole experience. Now that I’m a mum I love taking my big kids to a show, even though it’s all kid centric flicks. I enjoy going with them and they love going with me. We started our kids to the movies when they were over three years old. We ask for movie passes for kids birthday gifts and it’s a great way to help cut cost.
  2. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. It takes A LOT of parenting patience to be in the kitchen with kids but there are so many rewards that it really is worth trying. My husband is the pro when it comes to cooking with kids and they love being able to crack eggs and mix ingredients together. We start to include the kids in the kitchen when they are old enough to stand on a stool, which is about 18 months.
  3. Get in the pool! Our three kids are water babies and they love going swimming. They love playing tea party in the pool or playing different games. We are lucky that our condo has an indoor pool and we use it pretty frequently. I know that if we didn’t have access to one at home we’d still be at the local indoor pool regularly otherwise! We bring a bag of toys down to the pool and the kids love the captive parenting audience.
  4. Take it to the coffee shop. Being a city living family means we walk a lot and there is coffee shops all over. I absolutely adore taking my kids for a steamed milk or a hot chocolate and love reaping the benefits of having an actual hot coffee too. We sit and chat and play eye spy while sipping hot drinks from proper mugs.
  5. Get in some screen time (together). I did not grow up being an avid video game player but I try my hardest when Mario Kart comes on. Some evenings we have ‘Family Racing Night!’ and we all sit together trying our hardest to win the race. My kids love seeing mum fumble and learn a bit of self control when things don’t go as planned.

I’m not a parenting expert but I do like to have fun and my three kids love having fun along with us! I find that those long days go much smoother when a little fun is booked into them.

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This post is not going to be filled with my New Year’s resolutions. It’s not about weight loss or making huge changes or even having a fresh start.

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Every once in awhile I’m reminded about how good things are in my life. Maybe it is the start of the New Year that brings this reminder to me, I’m not really sure. I do know that every day I’m able to make my own decisions and I feel safe in my day to day life.  At night, I get to go to sleep knowing my children are warm and tucked into bed.

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My family gets to wake up together, eat breakfast and plan out a fun day together or do our routine school activities. I don’t take this mundane flow for granted.  I am grateful.

Being grateful doesn’t mean I live an exclusively idyllic life or that things are always easy. Being grateful does mean that as the days pass  I make a genuine attempt to appreciate even the smallest details. Even when things are crazy and out of control there will still always be something to be thankful for. I am grateful.

I am grateful for sisters who are like second mother’s to my kids. I am appreciative for a husband who makes me breakfast when I get home from a night shift. I am grateful and thankful to have friends I get to work with and to work a job that I feel passion about.

I am thankful to live somewhere that I can easily get medical supplies and life saving insulin. I am grateful for the hundreds of needles I have to take each month so that I can live. I am grateful. I am on my knees thankful for my health and for the chance to walk outside in fresh air and eat whatever food I want. I am thankful.

Before you get to caught up in your New Year’s resolutions, and feel fixed on making big life changes, allow yourself to feel grateful. Recognize the things that already exist in your life that you can be thankful for.

I can promise you that gratefulness does not disappear in a week or a month. In fact, choosing to be thankful is free and can be done anytime and anywhere.

Tell me something that you are grateful for.

 

 

 

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Collecting Memories

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December 30, 2016 // Pure Mama, Vancouver

I’m totally that person who does the, ‘One year ago today this happened’ or ‘Last year at this time we were…’. It drives my husband kind of nuts but I can’t help being reflective. I feel all the feels and I wear my heart on my sleeve. That’s just who I am.

Two years ago today I was finishing up my 24 hours of bedrest after having an amnio done at 23 weeks. We were told something was seriously wrong with our baby and we wanted more information to figure out what was going on. I was the most scared and vulnerable that I have ever been.

Five years ago today I was heavily pregnant with Josie and felt like I could go into labour at any moment. She was my biggest baby and boy did I ever feel it! I had my sister on standby in case I was to go into labour.

Eleven years ago today I got married on a Friday evening in Vancouver. There was a hint of rain but it was so mild out that day and I walked around downtown in my wedding gown with my freshly suited up husband to be. We had a smallish wedding on Granville Island and the rest is history!

Here we are now on Friday December 30th 2016. There’s one more day left till a New Year begins and I can’t help but feel a sense of wonderment with what new memories I will be gifted in 2017.

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As life unfolds and the years tick by, I find myself becoming more grateful. At 37 years old my memories have multiple layers and reflection can bring a sense of melancholy and great joy all at the same time.

On that note, here is to a fresh New Year. I will bring my memories along with me into the next year and hope that I’m given the chance at collecting more.

 

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Christmas Eve Plans

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December 24, 2016 // Holiday Talk

It’s here!!

Christmas is here!!

Despite not doing everything I had hoped to do with the kids this Christmas, I refuse to let myself feel disappointed. I always have a holiday case of FOMO and want to see everything and do more. More so now that I have three little kids and love the excitement they have for these kind of outings. It’s hard in Vancouver because there’s truly so many fun Christmas activities that you could do that are right at our doorstep.

Tonight we are having a low key Christmas eve with an early trip to the beautiful VanDusen Gardens for their Festival of Lights display. We will hopefully be one of the first into the garden and come home for an easy appetizer style dinner with the kids.

The kids are already excited about opening one little present tonight, a tradition from my own childhood. This year all the kids are exchanging presents with each other and are so excited to give them out.

I love that they are excited about gift exchanges and feeling the joy you can get when giving someone else a present. Even sweeter was teaching my oldest how to properly wrap a present and write out the little gift card.

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Merry Christmas Blogland! I love all of my readers and thank you for reading my words!

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A friend once gave me the inside scoop about Christmas presents and babies. She told me to save my money, limit my stress and not buy presents for baby’s first few Christmases. I was given the advice back with the first baby and I heard her advice but it was so hard not to put together a stocking for my baby.

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Instead of skipping it all together I kept things very simple for all of my ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ and continue to do so as they’ve gotten older. My first Christmas as a mama I packed a stocking with a couple new baby spoons, a pack of baby biscuits and a few other small things.

Fast forward to baby #3 and the problem with subsequent siblings is that older siblings will pay attention to what every other child gets, even the baby. If the baby gets nothing but teething biscuits, the older kids go on high alert and are confused as to why Santa only gave some old teething biscuits.

I know how this works, I was the middle child of three sisters, you can’t just put a pack of old teething biscuits in the littlest’s stocking and call it a day! Older siblings pay attention to what every other sibling gets.

This year I’ve kept it nice and simple with Elisabeth’s Christmas stocking and I know she will have fun pulling the wrapping paper off. Side note: I totally realize that at 20 months old Elisabeth is not a baby BUT she is our youngest and this makes her default ‘The Baby’ forever and ever. The End.

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  1. Bebe De Luxe milk bath
  2. Kikkerland  reusable pouch filled with a couple of chocolate Kisses
  3. Usborne Noisy book
  4. Purple Play dough
  5. One juicy clementine

Don’t worry, I totally know that my 20 month old toddler is not still a baby but, that being said, she will always be called ‘The Baby’ for as long as she is the youngest child. Which will be forever.

That snowman stocking is my childhood stocking that my mum made. Each of my littlest get to use it for their first couple of Christmases and even one of our old dog’s had a turn using it too. Got to love family traditions!

 

 

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I love traditions and I especially love seasonal traditions that bring people together. For the last seven years I’ve participated in a cookie exchange with work friends and it has always been fun.

The whole process of finding the perfect recipe always started weeks in advance and I’d scour the Martha Stewart website for ‘the perfect Christmas cookie’. I always made sure to buy the good ingredients, like the fancy french butter or the Callebeaut chocolate in those huge chunks. I never skimped and poured love (and butter!) into dozens and dozens of cookies.

In fact, by my calculations I’ve made over 140 dozen cookies for this special cookie exchange. That’s a lot of cookies! However, this is my first official year that I’ve opted out. There will not be an influx of cookies coming and going from the kitchen this year.

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Chocolate hazelnut biscotti

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Sugar cookies (made with the fanciest french butter!) and lightly glazed.

I decided this year that I will bake a few dozen treats with my kids and let that be enough. I made a conscious decision not to add too many extra events into this month because current life is full enough. As much as I loved being part of the Christmas Cookie Exchange, it feels okay to not be involved this year too.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

In the 7 years that I’ve been baking for this cookie exchange I’ve made a variety of tasty cookies. I think my favourite were my Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies that had a hint of chilli powder mixed in to give a tiny bit of heat to the chocolate. They were soft and moist and full of chocolate flavour.

Last year was a good baking year for me. I went with the classic chocolate chip cookie and jazzed it up by dipping it in melted Callebaut chocolate and topping it with a toasted pecan. They were a bit labour intensive, all that dipping and drying, but they were flavourful and delicious.

Do you participate in any baking exchanges over the holidays? 

 

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Parenting Around The Clock

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December 7, 2016 // Parenting

My husband is away for work right now, which means a lot more hustle and bustle from me but it’s nothing I can’t handle. However, I wasn’t expecting my four year old to start having trouble sleeping at night, but she is. Which means we are all over tired.

The two of us have been meeting multiple times each night this past week. It always starts out with a quiet little whisper of “mama….”  and a curly haired shadow lurking beside my bed in the dark. We have had sobbing and flat out refusals to go back to her own bed and lots of, ‘SHH!! You will wake everyone up!’ from a bleary eyed me.

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As a seasoned mama I know that these wake ups are because she needs  reassurance that I’m there and that things are okay.  I’ve always been sensitive to my kids needs for parenting around the clock and for the most part I just go with the flow. Meet their needs, stick to routine and hope for the best.

I’m no stranger to night wake ups but it’s usually the youngest one calling out, either with teething pain, random issues or those weird sleep cries you can’t explain but that still wake you up. I’m okay with the nighttime parenting of a toddler but I do feel a  little more exasperated with with nighttime parenting of big kids. Especially, when those night wake ups are repetitive and don’t end in a peaceful back to bed sleep.

For now she slumbers in her own bed but I can guarantee that I will hear little footsteps coming to find me at some point over the night. In preparation, I’ve made her a little bed nest just for her on my bedroom floor right next to me. I’m hoping this will help her feel comforted and ultimately I’m hoping it helps her to stay asleep!

 

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Today we waved goodbye to my husband, who headed up to Whistler mountain for a week long work retreat, and said a big HELLO to some big fluffy white flakes. Today also happened to be a scheduled day off from school for the big kids and the snow couldn’t have come at a better time.

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I can probably count actual snow days on one hand since I’ve been living here the last fourteen years. In fact, unless you are a skiing/snow boarding family most Vancouverites don’t have proper snow attire. It’s commonplace to see Vancouver kids out in the snow wearing their rain boots!

We had to make a makeshift snow day outfit for Lizzy. Complete with an old handmade toque and some leg warmers over her pants for an extra layer of warmth. We didn’t have snow boots or snow pants on hand so she stayed cozy in her stroller holding snow balls in her mittens and watching the big kids.

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There was the time in ’08  that we had a big dump of snow back right over Christmas. I had just one tiny baby and it was the most snow I had ever seen, leaving the city to come to a total halt.  Then there was the snow day that happened the afternoon Josie came home from the hospital as a newborn. I can vividly remember the blast of arctic air as we hurried from hospital to the car to drive home and feeling a little nervous on the roads with my bundle of joy in her carseat.

You can never count on snow sticking around the city for any length of time so you have to take full advantage of the white stuff at first flake. Which means my big kids went out with their dad to catch some flakes as soon as they woke up this morning. In total we went out three different times over eight hours and the last time it was hard to find enough snow to make a snow ball.

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I love seeing how my West Coast kids react to snow! I am positive that my oldest would go out in shorts and frolic and have the best time of his life and never feel the cold. My middle was interested and enjoyed it for five minutes but despite many layers, she was too cold to want to keep going. The littlest just wanted to sit and hold the snow ball that her brother made her and  I just enjoyed watching them have their happy moments.

 

 

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I love receiving mail and I don’t mean the electronic kind. It’s the enveloped, stamped, addressed and posted type of mail that makes me happy. Nothing makes my heart soar as much as opening our community mailbox in the condo lobby and finding a card or two inside.

I’ve also always been that person who enjoys sending off thank you notes or random cards of cheer to friends through out the year. However, I’ve found that with each passing year things have shifted to more of an on line presence and less snail mail is sent out.

It’s the enveloped, stamped, addressed and posted type of mail that makes me happy.

Now it’s common place to thank people for gifts by sending out a text message and send people well wishes via Facebook. We use our social media feed to wish special people in our lives a ‘Happy Birthday!’ and forgo sending out paper cards. I miss holding that paper card in my hands and having it on display to help celebrate whatever occasion it may be.

Every Christmas I’ve sent out cards and posted them off with a hint of excitement thinking about the cards that might come in return. I love the whole process of choosing Christmas cards and lose myself in browsing endlessly on line. If I was a crafty person I am sure I’d love to put together my own paper cards.

In the past I’ve done the personalized photo cards and adore switching from my regular address labels to my Christmas ones. Last year I sent off about 50 hand written cards to family and friends and was sent about 10 in return.

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I think our current social media use definitely makes it easier to send out mass greetings. Each year the exchange of the classic Christmas card seems more and more on the decline. However, I still enjoy keeping with traditions and going the old fashion paper route.

Are people forgoing the tradition of sending out Christmas cards in lieu of sending out a big ‘Merry Christmas!’  through social media? 

Back in 2008 when my first was an infant who cried nonstop and didn’t sleep more than 45 minutes in a row. I didn’t put up a Christmas tree that year cause I was so exhausted but I did send out a pile of cards. I stood dancing with him in a soft carrier, writing out cards on our mantle. I didn’t have to do it but I did because it was important to me.

It took me a lot longer than usual but the stack of cards were posted in the mail and it felt great to be able to continue on with that tradition despite feeling so busy and tired.
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Receiving cards in the mail helps me feel connected to people that I might not see regularly and even those that I do. Every single Christmas one of my dear Canadian cousins, who I don’t see regularly, sends my family the most brilliant Christmas card. I love feeling this connection!

If you’re wavering about sending out Christmas cards this year get motivated and hop back on the postage train!

Go read up on the history of sending out Christmas cards.

 

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We are currently on a little holiday to celebrate US Thanksgiving with my husband’s side of the family. It’s our third year in a row coming and the kids get so excited to see their cousins and celebrate Thanksgiving at my sister in law’s mom’s place in Scottsdale.

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If you’ve been following me over on Instagram you will have seen the sunshine and horseback riding and all of the happy faces. Sunshine is definitely a mood booster and being outside is a great way to spend a holiday away from Raincouver.

This time around we opted out of checking luggage and decided against bringing a stroller. Having little kids definitely makes it easier to minimally pack, smaller bodies equals tinier clothing, and so all three kids had 5-6 outfits all rolled up into one wheeled carry on bag.

Not having to bring big jackets or boots definitely helped to keep things simple for us. This basically confirms to me that I should only book holidays that involve sunshine. We decided to bring just enough diapers and wipes to get us through the first day and we went to the shop and bought just enough to use while we were away from home. In the past I would fill a suitcase with diapers and I’ve learned my lesson about lugging them around.

We haven’t checked a stroller on a flight for awhile now. I think the last family holiday where we flew and brought a stroller was back when Josie was under two and we went to Hawaii. We haven’t felt that we’ve missed it and it’s been nice not having to tote it around.

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Luckily my littlest really loves to go in the carrier and so we brought our Becco to use to get around and sight see and even at family events. The big bonus is that naps can happen on the go and in the carrier, so it’s not a big deal if we’re out and we can easily stay on top of those important toddler naps!

Things that I did pack!

  • My flat iron
  • A total of three different pairs of shoes for me including my ankle boots!
  • Two lap tops, one iPad and my husband’s large Cannon camera
  • Two boxes of Canadian cookies to give as gifts

In the rush of coming off of three day shifts there were a few things that I did forget to pack, like my toothbrush, but nothing that a quick trip to the shops couldn’t remedy.

Do you carry on or check your luggage for short holidays? We would have had to pay for each checked bag, so we decided to see if carrying on would work for us and it did. Any longer of a trip and checking a bag would have been necessary for sure.ee

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