Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

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.

 

 

 

There is something really special about four year olds. They no longer carry around constant reminders of babyhood  but they aren’t quite a big kid yet. A four year old has a personality that is blossoming with enthusiasm every single day and they can still be ridiculously cute.

Right now I’m really enjoying spending time one on one with my own four year old. Besides my love for all things baby, the four year old age might just be my next favourite.

Josie is four years old and right now her world is her family and I’m like the coolest person she knows. Things start to shift once school is added to their lives and their world gets a little bigger. They meet new friends and form new social groups, their teacher becomes a big part of their life five days a week and their sense of self changes.

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Four year olds can be kind of hilarious. They don’t totally grasp all of the ins and outs around social boundaries but are getting good at playing around with them. For example, this past weekend we were out at the park taking family photos and my sweet four year old was having fun and loudly shouted out “peanut butter vagina!“. She seemed confused when we said, ‘shhh  shhh shhh!!’ and when other parents stared at her. This is four.

When you’re four and you feel like dancing in the coffee shop because your favourite song comes on, it’s no big deal and you just bust a move. People will think it’s cute and the regular barista will smile at you and tell your kid what a great dancer they are.

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Listening to a four year old tell a story can be genuinely funny. You may even laugh out loud listening to your four year old recount an event that happened. Their world of imagination and reality can be quite fun and is so genuine.

If you are ever in need of brutal honesty on any subject just ask any four year old and they will tell it like it is. Does this swimsuit look good on me? Ask a four year old. What do you think of my new eyeshadow? Ask a four year old. The truth just rolls out of them.

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Four year olds don’t really care what you think of them and usually their self esteem is ample. They will wear a mismatched wardrobe and be all, ‘what?‘ when you ask them if they really want to wear rainbow patterned shorts with a long sleeved green shirt and their red cowgirl boots. They will also feel totally fantastic in the outfit and that is what makes them awesome.

What’s your favourite age in childhood? Are you with me on the four year old or do you have a different age that feels kind of special?

 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend we were invited to Wesbrook Village for a special family fun day  hosted by Vancouver Mom. We loaded up the car and I impressed myself that everyone was ready to go and I was driving out of downtown on time. For a family of five that is momentous.

Westbrook Village is a short 20 minute drive out of the city and located on a fabulous peninsula of tier one of the University of British Columbia. I was surprised by how cute and well put together the village was and the walkability of the area made it really family friendly.

We were able to take in some fun activities and Josie chose for us to go to The Hot Box Yoga. True to its name, it was warm (but the temps were lower than usual), we did some playful yoga games and went on walking adventures that had us feeling like we were all just having fun.

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Josie is suppose to be my ‘backpack’ on our yoga adventure

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Paying close attention to the story the yoga teacher was telling!

If you are looking to try out some new parks and playgrounds with your crew this village is seriously the place to come. Park your car and go on a free adventure trekking to the four different playgrounds. There are ponds and water features and it’s all surrounded by trees.

Families can enjoy brunch at Briercraft Wesbrook  and keep the littles fuelled up between playground runs. This was our first time at this location but we’ve been big fans of Briercraft Cambie for awhile and have always enjoyed the mussels and frites along with the Belgian beers.

The next time we need to head out of downtown, Wesbrook Village will be on the go to list!

 

 

I actually kind of surprised myself and haven’t felt overly emotional about the baby turning one. Since I’ve decided she will always be ‘the baby’ I don’t need to do the whole, ‘my baby is getting so old’. Sorry Elisabeth, you will be the baby forever. Family dynamics at the best!

Sticking to my short term bucket list, we hosted a Sunday luncheon with family and a few friends to celebrate our girl. I didn’t want anything stressful or too over the top, so my only requirements were tasty food and a good cake.

Having a spring time baby made it easy to choose a theme. Even though we didn’t go crazy over the top with her theme and decor it was still nice to have one! The whole ‘Somebunny is turning one’ developed and we went from there.

In the past I’ve done paper invitations and I truly love paper invites and they really do make a statement. I even love stuffing the envelopes and mailing the pile of invites off. However, I just wanted to make things simple and went with this gorgeous custom invite by email. I love Etsy for exactly this reason.

A personalized invite sent by email to family and friends.

A personalized invite sent by email to family and friends.

I ordered a couple of gorgeous fragrant bouquets from Vancouver’s Flower Factory.  This was the florist we used when we got married a decade ago and they’re just such a great local flower shop. The arrangements arrived smelling so amazing and the colours were just perfect. Post party I’m looking forward to having them in our living room for the rest of the week. The lilacs smell insanely good.

Since we did a bunny themed birthday, it seemed like a carrot cake was very appropriate for our birthday girl. I always say that if I’m going to eat cake it has to be really good. Cadeaux Bakery in Gastown made Elisabeth the most delicious moist carrot cake complete with fondant bunnies on top. We were able to arrange this all through email and that made things so simple for me.

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For the luncheon I came up with a  menu and I’m fortunate to have a hubby that likes to cook. He spent all Saturday evening in the kitchen prepping for our luncheon and I couldn’t love him more for that.

The birthday girl was happy to have so many of her favourite people all together in one room. We ate and chatted and sipped lemonade and sparkling wine. It was a short and sweet luncheon and a perfect way to celebrate a first birthday. She had to disappear and go for a nap before the guests all left.

 

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Happy Birthday sweet Elisabeth. I sure loved spending this last year with you!

 

The other day I was loading up my car after picking up the oldest from school. We were doing pretty good and there was no big event from the kids to warrant any attention. However, we did get attention and it was not necessarily positive attention.

‘Whoa. Three kids. That’s crazy! Aren’t you suppose to see a psychiatrist for that?’

An older guy parked behind me on the road and I guess he felt compelled to make a comment about me having three kids. Luckily I was not feeling over sensitive that day and responded back, ‘I think you see the psychiatrist after the three kids, right?’.

This was followed by my awkward laughter because I hate hate hate confrontations, especially with random strangers. The guy wished me ‘good luck’ and I continued to load the kids into the car but his comment rubbed me the wrong way.

 

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Having three kids in the downtown setting is rare and most families have one or two kids. In my son’s grade two class there are mostly single child families and we are by far the exception as a family of five.

I feel like a special breed of person when I am out and about with all three kids walking down the city sidewalks. Crossing major intersections while pushing the stroller, one kid dancing to one side of me and the other kid taking the lead. However, drive an hour east and my three kids would be no big deal and we would probably be getting asked when our fourth would be added.

 

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On Friday I was picking Ben up at school and it was a glorious warm sunny day. I had the baby in her stroller and Josie was there full of energy. We were taking it slow and we had absolutely no stress going on. The kids asked to play at the school park and that is when it happened.

‘Are all three of these kids yours?’

What? What? I was confused and thrown and before I could say another word the mom said, ‘Oh my goodness! This is so good! I have four! We have to stick together!‘. Four! She has four lovely children and she lives in an apartment downtown. She gave me the biggest hardest high five of my adult life and I felt like we had become blood sisters and I almost hugged her because she was just so nice.

I was so excited about meeting another Mama in the City who had more kids than me that I totally forgot her name. Trista? Kristen? Whatever her name is, we will definitely be sticking together.

I’m the kind of person that likes to make lists and get organized but I don’t always follow my list. Somehow just putting it together helps to mentally calm me and also lights up any big priorities that I need to really get on top of.

Since life is going to get a whole lot busier in a month and a bit, read the last few blog posts, I thought it would be a great time to put together a short list of things that I want to do or get done before I have even less time than I do right now.

Plan a first birthday celebration for the baby.bunnybirthday

One thing I’ve learned with the third baby is not to make the first birthday party a huge over the top celebration. First off, there is going to be plenty of parties over the years to plan (heh, three kids=three parties a year) and the baby has no clue what’s going on anyways. Save your dollar bills and just do something sweet and low key. Sorry big kids, there is no face painter or piñata at this next birthday.

Book a photographer to do family photos. 

Our last official family photo was taken in Maui back when Josie was a baby and we were just a foursome. I want springtime photos of our family of five that we can put up on the walls of our home. The last photographer I hired was when we just had the baby and we did our very first newborn photo session.

Go out for dinner with the girls.

Drink. Eat. Chat. I need it. Like I really need it. I thrive off of these dinner dates and they make me feel good for weeks. I am sure that going back to work will mean cutting back on any extra outings for awhile, so I really need to make this happen.

Take the kids to new parks and playgrounds and just be present.

I already can tell you this much, going back to work will take up some headspace and I know I will be a bit snappy at the homestead. My husband always says when I’m going off to a shift I turn into ‘Nurse Andrea’ and get serious and (‘apparently’) grumpy. It’s just my way of getting into work mode for a job that is serious.

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I think four things on my list is doable and I’m actually kind of excited to be throwing it out there like this. I want to usher in positivity for my new journey up ahead and embrace the time I have right now too. I’ll keep you posted with how I do and what gets checked off the list first!

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you have no kids, lots of kids or one kid, crappy days happen to all of us. Hard days aren’t just reserved for adulthood, sometimes your toddler has a crappy day and it rubs off on you and then all of a sudden you’re also having a hard day. Sound familiar?

I’ve found with three kids there’s always someone having a rough day and sometimes it’s me. Lack of sleep, feeling overwhelmed, tiny humans always wanting something all adds up. It turns out that your crappy mood affects all of the people around you and your just not enjoyable to be around when you’re in a bad mood.

We don’t need to let these crappy days just take over and let the bad vibes fester. You can totally change the pace of your day and get over things so your day isn’t a total write off.

 

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1. Get outside! Seriously this is FREE and it is somewhat easy. I feel like I can say that coming off of two weeks of Spring Break with three kids. Throw on big sunglasses and no one will see your dreary ‘whoa is me’ face (been there!). Even on my most crappy days mustering up the courage to get outside has always paid off. I feel like I can basically guarantee this one to work for you.

2.  Meet a friend for coffee. Even a super casual meet up with your whole brood of wildlings is going to give you an ultra mood boost that you dearly need. Twenty minutes of chit chatting has been scientifically proven to boost your mood. Okay, maybe that’s not totally true but I feel like it could potentially be proven as true.

3. Make future plans to give yourself something to look forward to. Even if your life is very full there’s always the chance that you can carve out time in the near future. I’ve found that just looking forward to something positive helps me get out of a bad funk. It can be as simple as finally making that hair appointment you’ve put off for six months. Book it. Basically this one is a double mood booster as you have something to look forward to and another boost when you actually get to go.

4. Take a breathe. I know this might seem so obvious that it’s kind of lame but trust me on this one. When we get stressed and anxious we tend to hold our breath. Give yourself a few good cycles of conscious breaths and see how things go. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Here is some good info about conscious breathing

5. Give yourself permission to not make dinner. Order in, take out or bake up that frozen pizza that’s been sitting in your freezer. Make it a cereal and toast duo. Taking something off the to do list is going to help ease your stress level and make life feel possibly doable again. At least for a bit.

 

Tell me, what life hacks have you found to cure your bad mood or crappy day? I’m definitely ready to add some more mood boosting tricks.

I’m feeling pretty thankful that I’ve had a full year off from work. Being home with my family has really been amazing for all of us. However, the inevitable is here and it is time for me to rejoin the working population and learn a new kind of balance.

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I’m actually looking forward to going back to the grind and being involved in a job that sparks passion. I’m looking forward to being involved with labouring mamas and meeting new babies and having tea with my coworkers. After being a maternity patient three times I feel like I’ve learned some new tricks that I can offer my patients.

After my three hospital births and the last one being a week long admission, I now know exactly what nursing skills are truly appreciative to a tired overwhelmed patient. I saw firsthand how strong nurses make all the difference to individual experiences. After all, it is your nurse that you will see through the day and the night.

Since Elisabeth was born last April she’s basically been attached to me. This is something I’ve loved and enjoyed and knew that it would all of a sudden be over and it really is almost over. Right now she is used to me nursing her to sleep and she is used to being in my arms. She’s been my sweet sidekick this past year and I have no regrets.

This Mother’s Day will be my first day back to work. I’ve been off work since December 2014 when my pregnancy went a bit sideways and I was put on bedrest. It feels like I’ve been gone for ages and I’m sure there will be some people who will think I am a new employee.

I will be going back to work part time and will be leaving for work around 630 AM and coming home around 8 PM. Vice versa for those dreaded night shifts. I will work about 7-10 of these shifts each month, days and nights. For a baby that is used to being my little side kick, it will be a bit of a change for the both of us!

I remember back when Ben turned a year old and we left him with my parents while my hubby and I went to Hawaii before my maternity leave was officially over. We literally celebrated his first birthday and then handed him to my parents for two weeks while we were soaking up sunshine on the open water.

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To be honest, looking back at that, I’m kind of surprised we left him. I don’t think I could leave this baby on her one year birthday and go away for two weeks. At 12  months old they are still so much of a baby!

In order to get prepped for my upcoming departure I’ve started leaving the baby for longer periods with either my husband or our sitter. So far we’ve been apart up to four hours. Which isn’t near the 13 or so hours I will be gone coming up, but it’s a start.

I’m crossing my fingers that we will be able to keep our usual sitter to take care of the baby. She started as our nanny when I went back to work after Josie’s maternity leave and has been with us for the last three years. Even with my weird works schedule we made it work.

The other day I left all three kids with the sitter and went out to run errands by myself. This transition period before I go back to work definitely has its perks and I am going to reap the benefits while I can. Soon enough I’ll be battling the dreaded night shifts and learning how to balance shift work and family life (again).

 

 

“Mum why is your tummy so squishy? Is there a baby growing in it mummy?”.

“No sweet darling. There’s no baby in there but you did grow in there. So did your baby sister did and so did your big brother. My tummy once got very, very big and round.”

Tickles. Giggles. Kisses.
“My mummy has a big tummy but that’s because she had three babies in there.”
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I’m the roundiest curviest that I’ve ever been and I’m over my previous post partum weights by far, but to be honest I don’t really care. All the emotional eating I did on bed rest is still sticking around and I don’t let it eat me up. Those delicious tacos my husband would feed me while I lay in the bathtub trying to be zen, were well worth the extra inch on my hips.
Right now my tummy looks perpetually three months pregnant. I eat salads (and chocolate) and walk everywhere I can. I am happy but I still find myself noticing the curves. While I am literally amazed/impressed/thankful that I was able to grow three babies, I also poke at my curves and push the rolling flesh inwards trying to catch a tiny glimpse of what it would look like if it was gone.
I don’t really mind the current roundness of my shape but I do miss my lovely wardrobe that is gathering dust in the closet. I am not ready to part with it by any means, but it doesn’t accommodate my current shape or my post baby tummy.
I keep it in there thinking that maybe over time my body will realign and I can take out those fitted shirts and cute trousers and wear them again. If my youngest gets to be 5 years old and those same trousers are hanging in the closet, I can promise you I will hop on the KonMarie bandwagon. Right now my baby is 11 months old and I’m joyfully  giving my body a bit of a break.

It doesn’t matter how many babies you’ve had, lack of sleep feels just as insulting every single time it comes your way. Elisabeth is 10 months old and has currently hit a truck load of baby milestones all at once. Pulling to stand, waving, chattering in baby talk, the list goes on.

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This means we are currently on ‘Team No Sleep’ and I’m making friends at the coffee shop. When babies learn new baby tricks and practice them in the day time, they are also going to practice the same tricks when it’s night time. Even if you don’t like it, you will have to up your nighttime parenting game.

The other night it was ridiculous,  hilarious and frustrating all at the same time. The baby learned to wave and then she went to bed. Her brain told her to, ‘keep on practicing that awesome wave!’ but her little body was all, ‘I just wanna sleep’.

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This scenario was played on repeat the other night and it left for a very tired mum and baby:

  • Baby falls asleep
  • Baby starts moving her arms in her sleep
  • Arms start waving around like crazy
  • Baby wakes up and is so tired but can’t stop waving her arms and hands
  • Baby is sobbing and is so angry at her hands. ‘Stop waving! I just want to sleep!’
  • Baby becomes increasingly angry and starts hitting her mama with these hands and crying at the same time

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If this was my first baby I might have taken the opportunity to nap when she napped. However, that doesn’t work anymore and so I reach for an extra cup of coffee and go into survival mode.

To help remedy the overtired feeling I did go to bed way earlier than I usually do, 9 PM instead of 11 PM, and it helped immensely even with frequent nighttime parenting. Apparently the early to bed part put me in such a positive mood the next morning that my whole family noticed.

In other good news, the baby’s little tooth finally surfaced and so we have one less battle to deal with. Who else has recently been on Team No Sleep and in survival mode too?