Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

Recently the dreaded and very contagious Hand Food and Mouth Disease crept into our home and spread to our youngest child. One minute our three year old daughter was her usual self and a few hours later she was telling us she didn’t feel ‘too good’ and was fast asleep on the living room floor. That was the very start of our experience with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).

Progression Of Symptoms

We had a heads up from a family who had visited us while their child had a fever and ended up developing Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. So, it was on the radar but I was still feeling hopeful that we had missed the share of germs.

Three days after being exposed the symptoms started at our home. This is a classic timeline for the spread of this virus but it can be up to six days after exposure. That evening we put her to bed for the night and hoped for the best. A few hours of solid sleep our little girl woke up screaming and holding her head, she had a severe headache and ended up throwing up in bed.

After a dose of acetaminophen for her head pain, she slept like a dream and woke up in the morning feeling okay. The only thing was she now had a fever. Since she was happy I didn’t dose her with anti fever medications and we let the fever do its job.

Stopping The Highly Contagious Virus

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease is contagious once the person develops a fever. If you have a known exposure to someone with HFMD and/or you or your child develops a fever this is your cue to stay home to stop the spread of germs.

After two days of having a fever our daughter woke up with with obvious spots around her mouth and on her tongue. There was nothing on her hands and no spots on her feet. As the spots started coming up her fever had stopped.

This is the point we knew she had Hand Foot and Mouth Disease and continued to keep her quarantined in our bedroom. Over the next 24 hours new spots came up. In the end she had dozens and dozens of the HFMD blisters. She ended up developing more of the spots on her upper back, trunk, groin area and behind her knees.

Her bath towel was not placed with the other children’s towels to prevent spread of the virus through contact. We separated the use of bathrooms while her fever and spots were at their worst as the active virus can be found in bowel movements.

How To Treat HFMD

While there is no cure for HFMD and the virus ultimately has to run its course, the treatment is focused on relieving symptoms and increasing comfort. There is no way for you to speed up recovery. It’s very important to stop the spread of HFMD. This can be done by; increasing your hand washing, staying home when you are sick or have a fever and not sharing food or drinking cups.

We let our daughter hang out in the big bed in our bedroom. There she relaxed with a mixture of watching some shows on the iPad and playing with her favourite toys that’d be easy to clean after. The virus can live on toys and other handled items. Which can spread to the other family members through touch. We dressed her in long sleeved pyjamas and socks to cover up all of her skin and spots to further prevent the spread by contact.

The spots in her mouth caused a lot of pain and distress. She did not want to eat or drink and even popsicles caused her pain. This is very common with HFMD and we found that yogurt drinks worked the absolute best for getting in some calories. The yogurt drinks were cooling and didn’t sting the open sores in her mouth. Some people reported that plain greek yogurt on their skin helped with temporary relief from the burning sensations.

We used soothing oatmeal baths a few times a day helped prevent itchiness and scratching from the blisters. This was very helpful and also helped to keep her occupied and the skin fresh and clean.

Getting Better From Hand Foot and Mouth Diseas

Once her fever finally broke she went back to her happy self.  Meanwhile, she still looked terrible from all the big open spots on her lower face and body. Eventually we let her mingle with her siblings but we still kept her at home. She was highly supervised and there was absolutely no touching or sharing of any kind.

Isolation during the fever is very important in order to prevent the spread of HFMD. The virus can spread after the fever through close contact or sharing eating and drinking items. 

There is no solid information out there about the exact contagious period of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. This virus is most contagious during the fever and it can be found in stool for several weeks. We kept our daughter home for five days. Once the spots dried up we went back to our daily routine. After a week the spots started to disappear and by two weeks all the spots were completely gone.

By some miracle no one else in our home got the dreaded Hand Foot and Mouth Disease! That felt like a huge success.

 

Check out these other health related posts:

Taking Your Child To The Emergency Room

The Contagious Tummy Bug

The Mom Cold

This information is not meant to substitute medical attention or advice from a medical doctor. While I am a Registered Nurse I am writing this post as an experienced mum of three. 

 

 

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Locals and tourists both love to visit Vancouver’s Granville Island. As a longtime Vancouverite it is definitely at the top of the list for activities to do with kids. While not technically an island, Granville Island has a special vibe that makes you feel like you’ve left the city. It’s easy to spend a morning, an afternoon or even the entire day over at Granville Island.

Getting To Granville Island

Think ahead about ditching the car and taking the water taxi. Spending a day on Granville Island can be much more enjoyable without the hassle of parking and parking time limits. While there is parking available on GI, it can feel like a bit of a rat race trying to secure a spot and most spots are only for a couple of hours.

There are two water taxi companies that can take you from different spots around False Creek right to the docks of Granville Island. Plus you get to catch a breezy tour of False Creek while you calmly boat your way over. If you are downtown take the Hornby Street ferry dock for quick and speedy service directly across the water. This dock is perfect if you have a stroller in your posse. The boat is larger and you can roll right on. You can also pay cash and buy your tickets once your on the boat. 

 

Places To Stop First

Once you get to GI make your first stop Lee’s Donuts. Step just inside the Public Market for one their fresh doughnuts. This is a traditional doughnut shop without a lot of hipster vibes. If you like fresh down to earth doughnuts you have hit the jackpot at Lee’s.

The Public Market can be a fun and exciting place but it can also be really busy, especially with kids and even more so if you are pushing a stroller. If you are planning to bring a stroller or small kids plan your trip for early in the day. This is before the mass of tourists come to snap pictures of the gorgeous fruit stands inside the market. If you go right around opening time you will be able to cruise through the market without swearing or navigating a large amount of people that have come to a standstill.

Things To Wander And See

Right now Granville Island has a fun new exhibit happening through out the island. The inaugural Art Smash is ready for you to tour and enjoy. This is a free public art exhibit of murals that is accessible to all. Recently we had fun checking out the different murals and finding our favourites.

The Kids Market  is a must to check out and a great spot for a bathroom break for the kids. Plus there are multiple hand washing stations set up for kids and adults. With a variety of shops from toys to clothing to hands on fun at the arcade, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

My three kids always want to check out the Kids Market whenever we pop over to GI and love checking out the joke shop and you can always buy some bubbles to blow at the park. Plus this kids entrance is perfect for your short stacks.

Fun For Active Kids

Right behind the Kids Market is a water park that operates from now till the end of the summer. This can be quite the popular spot and a great solution to cooling off. There’s a playground and a sandpit for endless digging right next to the water park. In the summer months they turn on a little water feature to help with all the sand castle and moat making fun.

Insider tip: even adults can go down this cool refreshing water slide! 

Family Dining On Granville Island

There are many places to dine around Granville Island and you can choose a sit down family friendly experience or grab picnic stuff from the Public Market. Once upon a time the birds were really aggressive and would swarm down and grab the food right out of your hand. Not such a fun picnic.

In the past there was also a lot of bird feeding happening by people and it attracted mass amounts of hungry birds. GI has been trying to get on top of decreasing the amount of birds by warning people to stop feeding the birds.

Some of our favourite family spots on Granville Island for a sit down meal include the casual Tony’s Fish and Oyster Café and the Vancouver Fish Company Restaurant & Bar.  Both are family friendly and delicious plus the latter has a patio out back.

Be sure to check out these other posts on what to see and where to go with kids in Vancouver!

Vancouver’s Children’s Festival  

Summer Loving: Vancouver Style

The Bloedel Conservatory

Inukshuk at English Bay

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In honour of Mother’s Day I am republishing this honest motherhood post from last year. While it’s always easy to share the bliss and joyful moments of motherhood, let’s also recognize the painful and raw parts too. The parts of motherhood veiled in post partum anxiety.

Check out Raw Beauty Talks for seven inspiring unfiltered stories about motherhood, sharing stories of post partum anxiety and depression.

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The first person to ever ask me if I had ever had any issue with post partum depression or anxiety was my hairdresser. It’s seems kind of unbelievable really, especially considering she asked me this question just this past weekend and my youngest is already two years old. So, how is it that no one ever checked in or flat out asked me this before?

We all know just how taboo mental health topics can be to openly talk that and too often we feel a bit uncomfortable asking the people in our lives the nitty gritty on how they are coping. We tend to assume our friends and family will feel comfortable enough to ask for help if they are having a hard time. However, in real life, this is far from the truth.

Right after I had Elisabeth I sunk into a weird unexpected cycle of feeling anxious. I never had any post partum depression or anxiety with the other two babies and to my intellectual brain it did not make sense. I had a healthy baby in my arms and she was my third baby, I knew how to mother a newborn. I’m sure the high risk pregnancy, crazy delivery and NICU experience all played a role in my post partum anxiety but truly post partum anxiety can target any new mum.

This hot prickly feeling of anxiety crept into my daily life as soon as I got home from the hospital. I should have been relieved that the pregnancy was over and that I was home with my new baby. Instead, the happiness and relief of that was not enough to carry me through all of the feelings of anxiousness.

One of the ways that I felt more in control and safe was being with the baby in my bedroom. We set up camp in my bed and I could actually feel tiny moments of bliss and happiness, it was definitely how I coped and survived this time in my life. However, if you asked me to do something that required getting out of the apartment, I turned into this uncertain sweaty anxious person with a whirlwind of thoughts.

When Elisabeth was about five weeks old my sister took my older kids over to Victoria to go and see family. It was all great until it was time to arrange bringing the kids back home. The plan was for me to meet up so I could go get them and drive them back home. At first I faked it and thought if I pushed myself enough I would get over the fear of leaving my bedroom, leaving the city and driving with the tiny baby to go and pick up the other kids. It was about a 45 minute drive away and the thought of having to do it made me feel physically sick.

It’s a drive I’ve done many times before and logically it did not make sense why it made me feel as upset as it did. That’s anxiety for you, it is totally not a logical process. I was worried about putting our very tiny baby into a car seat, I was worried about driving while feeling so tired, I was worried she might cry the whole drive. I convinced myself that she could stop breathing in her car seat and I even let myself ‘go there’ and envisioned getting out of the car and finding that she had stopped breathing.

Eventually my sister offered to bring the kids back home to me and I went from feeling totally ridiculous with all of my thoughts to feeling a sense of calm. I could stay in my bedroom, on my bed, with my tiny baby and we would be okay. I could stop having to constantly process the ‘what ifs’ that were totally illogical but still swarmed my mind. Things that I had done with my other kids when they were babies just felt like too much this time around. Everything felt scary.

It was even too much for me to make the six week post partum check up with my obstetrician. Instead, I just kept telling myself that I’d eventually book it. Months went by and I could never bring myself to make that appointment. It felt like getting there was this huge mountain and there was no way I could arrange care for the big kids, take the baby and make it work. However, as expected from a busy medical practice, there was no call to check up on me or see if I was okay. Eventually I was totally off the office radar but not going didn’t help my feelings of anxiety. Instead, I’m sure it made it worse.

Anxiety is a complex beast, it is completely controlling of your daily life. It steals your joy and your sense of self. The idea that something bad is about to happen all the time is utterly exhausting. Things that used to make you feel happy and satisfied were now coated with a new layer of uncertainty. I wish that someone had flat out asked me if I was having any problems coping when I had Elisabeth. Just having someone to talk about these weird feelings would have been beneficial.

Slowly over time I started to feel less and less anxious. As my baby grew and I felt more in control of my daily life I had more anxiety free moments. It was not an over night transformation but a gradual continuous shift into feeling more like my old self. For me the feelings were the most intense for the first 3 to 4 months post partum and slowly eased off over the rest of the first year.

If this story resonates with you and you need more information, please check out AnxietyBC for more help. 

 

 

 

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Recently I had a third birthday party to plan and I knew exactly what kind of party to plan; a princess birthday party with a Frozen theme. Birthday party planning is kind of my jam and I love figuring out a party theme and fleshing out the details to make it a fun event.

When Vancouver’s Crowned Princess Entertainment asked if we would like to have Queen Elsa come and celebrate with us for a princess birthday party we said yes! On the day of the birthday party it was so simple to get party ready and all I needed to do was make sure we had a chair for Elsa to sit in. As a busy parent it was really nice not to have to plan out any party games or activities for the children. Crowned Princess Entertainment took care of everything.

The Grand Entrance: Queen Elsa Arrives

With a knock at the door Queen Elsa arrived ready to start the princess birthday party with an array of fun activities to keep the party flowing. She even brought her sidekick Olaf along. From her head to her toes Elsa was very legit and we were most impressed with her authentic Elsa personality, plus Elsa’s singing voice was truly out of this world amazing.

Story time With Elsa

While all the little party goers sat front and centre Queen Elsa read a story and captivated the attention of all the little kids. Before the party Crowned Princess Entertainment checked in with me and made sure it was okay to do a little make up and kid safe nail polish session with the guests. The little girls in attendance loved having Elsa use nail polish to fancy up their fingers.

Princess Glam Time

The Coronation Ceremony

When it was time for the Coronation Ceremony Elsa  made sure the birthday girl was able to take on the duties of being a princess. All the little party goers clapped and cheered as the birthday girl accepted her new role and was crowned with a golden tiara.

Do you promise to always have courage and be kind? 

Do you promise to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves? 

Do you promise to always dream big dreams and never stop chasing them? 

I just can’t get over the look of adoration that the birthday girl is giving Elsa in the photo above. These little princesses were so floored with meeting Queen Elsa and having her at our birthday celebration. On the invitation that we sent out we encouraged our little guests to dress up in whatever princess attire they wanted. I love that we had so many dressed in blue and that there was at least one Anna.

We ended the party with Elsa and the kids singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the birthday girl. This was truly a memorable birthday. Elsa’s voice was so beautiful and the birthday girl felt very special with her guest singing to her.

Most of my kid parties usually include a take home sugar cookie as the party favour. West Vancouver baker Three Hearts helped us celebrate with these beautiful Frozen themed cookies. The best part is these were totally gorgeous cookies and they tasted really delicious. Too often I find that beautiful sugar cookies often lack the tasty factor and these cookies had both. I still can’t get over the details on these sugar cookies. 

We loved having Crowned Princess Entertainment celebrate with us for our princess birthday party. Their princess service was extremely high end and professional and having Elsa in our home made the princess birthday party a wonderful event for everyone. If you have a little princess in your life you won’t regret making their dreams come true with a visit from their very favourite princess. 

Vancouver’s Crowned Princess Entertainment gave us their Gold Package to review and Three Hearts gifted us with cookies. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.  

Check out our other birthday party posts for some party planning inspiration.

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Sometimes visiting a city can feel really overwhelming, especially if you have kids in tow and it can be even more bonkers if they are under five. Having the inside scoop on where to go and what to see can really make things a lot more enjoyable for everyone. We’ve put together a series of blog posts featuring fun family friendly field trips within Vancouver and first up is a trip to the The Bloedel Conservatory.

One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed doing with my kids is exploring different parts of our city together. It’s amazing how you can live somewhere for so many years and still have never visited something five kilometres away. I know this to be true because over the years we have become quite ‘downtowned’ and venturing over the bridge always feels like quite the event.

On this field trip we left the downtown core, went over the Cambie bridge and headed to Vancouver’s indoor tropical garden at The Bloedel Conservatory. The conservatory is located at the top of Queen Elizabeth park and gets credit for being the highest point in Vancouver. This makes for some amazing views while walking outside the front of the conservatory. It was bit of a drizzly Spring day which made it the perfect escape for us. We arrived early which was smart as it made parking super easy for us. There is a large pay lot just outside the conservatory and ample handicap spots.

The actual conservatory is on the smaller side so taking someone under five is perfect! You can do multiple laps inside and really take in all that they have to offer. There are over one hundred free flying birds to spot and you are provided with a laminated guide so you can learn more about each bird. The chirping birds and humidity almost made it feel like we were back in Hawaii, which was so welcomed.

Whether you are local or coming from afar we would definitely recommend a field trip to Vancouver’s Bloedel Conservatory. Add on a visit to the beautiful Queen Elizabeth park and you’ve got yourself a morning or afternoon adventure with gorgeous scenery.

Stay tuned for our next Vancouver Kid Approved Field Trip!

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Birthday party planning gets me all kinds of excited, thank goodness I have three kids with birthdays split pretty evenly through the year to help keep me going. Over the last ten years I have felt so much joy putting together birthday cakes for all my kids. From the elaborate local bakery cake, to the homemade from scratch cake to the store bought cake mix. Birthdays are a great occasion to celebrate and enjoy some birthday cake.

As birthdays start to approach I always ask the birthday kid what kind of cake they are hoping for. My son always asks for a homemade from scratch chocolate cake with strawberries. I love that he has a go to birthday cake request and I am happy to make him his special cake each September.

I am not a baking wizard by any means and I can’t make a Pinterest worthy cake at all. So sometimes I am happy to connect with our local bake shop and let them be the master of the cake. One of our Vancouver favourites includes Cadeaux Bakery, they made the horse cake for our middle girls last birthday this January. It was delicious and came out perfect.

Chocolate dinosaur cake from Yaletown’s Ganache Patisserie. It was amazing!

Frozen themed cake from Cupcakes on Denman.

Homemade from scratch! Chocolate cake with strawberries as per request.

A carrot cake from Cadeaux Bakery for a Spring themed first birthday. Somebunny loved it!

Homemade rainbow cupcakes made by my sister for a special unicorn themed fourth birthday.

Mama’s chocolate cake with sprinkles. That year this birthday girl got TWO different cakes. This one was homemade.

Another auntie creation! Lambs, pigs and chicks for a fun farm themed birthday party.

A very special horse on this chocolate cake from Cadeaux Bakery.

My top pick for a bakery bought birthday cake is from Vancouver’s Cadeaux Bakery, they make the best carrot cake in the city and their custom creations are always so pretty. We have also had custom cake orders from Tessa of Sweet Bake Shop, side note Tessa just released her very first baking book!

Short on time or maybe creativity, the best cake can come from a mix or your local grocer. Putting candles on anything instantly makes it feel extra festive and special. Pair that with a family loudly singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and you’ve got yourself a perfect celebration.

Check out our other birthday inspired posts:

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