Mama in the City since 2008 and blogging since 2009!

I asked my first Apartment Baby, Benjamin, to read the new book written by author Jackie Burns.  Jackie is a fellow ‘Mama in the City’ raising her two boys in a condo in Toronto and this book was born out of her experiences raising kids in a condo.

The story of The Condo Kids is about two brothers living the condo life alongside the other condo kids in their building. The brothers really want a pet and plot to sneak home a Barbary sheep named Bob that they met at the zoo. The story follows their adventures of trying to keep this unusual condo pet under wraps. Including funny disguises and outfits worn by Bob to keep him hidden in plain sight and sneaking him into the top bunk during bedtime stories.

“I really liked reading a book about kids who live in a condo just like I do. I thought it was really funny how they tried to keep Bob the Barbary sheep a secret from their mom. There were lots of funny parts of the story.  I think other kids my age would like this book as much as I did.” – Benjamin, age 8

This book is a great read for the 7-10 year old range and you don’t need to be a Condo Kid to enjoy the story. Initially I was attracted to this book as there are not a lot of kid books that are written about kids in condos. However, the funny adventures of The Condo Kids and Bob The Barbary Sheep will win over any school aged reader.

Ten percent of book profits of The Condo Kids goes directly to support Earth Rangers, a kids conservation organization.

 

 

 

 

 

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Way back in 2010 I was a solid year into crafting this blog and I was nominated as one of Vancouver’s Top 30 Mom bloggers. Since then Vancouver Mom has hosted this annual event to celebrate the new crop of mom bloggers and I’ve attended six out of eight of the celebrations. Last night I had the pleasure of going to Hycroft Manor for Vancouver Mom’s Top 30 blogger event, Style.

At the very last minute I decided to wear the exact same dress that I wore for the inaugural event back in 2010. Thank goodness for having a forgiving little black dress in my closet because things with me have changed since 2010! Seven years older, two more babies and I am STILL blogging!

I was really excited to check out Hycroft Manor as I have a secret passion for investigating old houses. When I was given the go ahead to go off and explore I was seriously thrilled. I took my sister along for this event and together we toured the mansion. Peeking into solarium after solarium (seriously, so many solariums!) and checking out the bedrooms and the bathrooms.

Attending last nights event felt like a reunion and also a complete embrace of sisterhood. While blogging in itself has changed so much since I started writing here, it’s so wonderful and refreshing to meet the ‘new to the scene’ sisters who are just starting their journey in the blogosphere. One of my favourite parts of the evening was meeting up with four other ‘originals’ who were part of the 2010 group.

I’ve just recently hit my eight year blogiversary and while I don’t have as much free time these days to capture blog posts, I still love writing and sharing about my life as a Mama in the City. I enjoy getting emails from readers asking questions or sharing with me about how a blog post helped them out. It’s the connections that I make through this outlet that fuel me to keep on writing.

Thank you so much for reading my words and thoughts over these past eight years. Your connection is important to me and I have truly loved sharing my world with you. 

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Back when I was an Apartment Mama to one baby, I felt like I had my hands pretty full. I suffered with sleep deprivation and a high needs baby and all the usual adjustments that becoming a parent brings. I felt like my mamahood was full enough and there wasn’t possible any room left for adding more. Then I had my second apartment baby and then my third and all of a sudden I was an Apartment Mama to three kids. Whoa.

Life was pretty good with my three babes but life often felt like it a constant job of being on eagle eye surveillance to make sure everyone was okay and there wasn’t a lot of time for anything else. For the most part I honestly felt like I was just getting by. In order to thrive and survive I spent the last two years embracing being a mama to three kids and let other aspects of my life slide in order to protect and provide the most important part, my three growing babes.

 Lowering my overall standards of what I can do is one but also splitting up the kids and doing things in groups of two kids is really what is working for me.

Friendships had to be put on hold, extra work projects did not exist and things meant to just fulfil me had to wait.  I have zero regrets on putting things aside to focus on raising three small humans. Now that the youngest is a solid two years old there is more of an ability to taking a relaxing breathe and have that sigh of relief. The all encompassing aspect of raising a baby is now over and it’s now much easier to sign off and step away for a moment.

Right now I am making my mamahood work in so many different ways. Lowering my overall standards of what I can do is one but also splitting up the kids and doing things in groups of two kids is really what is working for me. I’ve found that taking the two little girls off to go and do fun stuff for the 0-5 year old crowd while the oldest is off at school has been a really big help to my stress level. Sometimes I’ve been taking the two big kids and we go and do stuff that involves being out and about during toddler nap times and the big kids get my focused attention.

The last few weekends I’ve taken the two big kids and we’ve gone off and done big kid things. Which basically means activities that exist around the coveted toddler afternoon nap time. It’s actually felt like a small break for me being out and about to a mama to an eight and five year old. It’s less eagle eye mama watching a toddler navigate life and more fun mama doing fun things with the big kids. Like checking out the busy Vancouver Children’s Festival this past weekend.

If I can maintain one lesson throughout  my motherhood it is to have no regrets and truly enjoy each stage and right now I am doing just that.

 

 

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I love supporting local theatre, especially when it is the the young actors of Vancouver’s Arts Umbrella. We went to see the classic Charlotte’s Web which was put on as part of the Expressions Theatre Festival over on Granville Island. I took my own 8 year old son, my 9 year old nephew and 13 year old niece to the performance.

All of us that went had previously read Charlotte’s Web by E.B White and so everyone was already well versed on the storyline. There were lots of questions about how the actors would play a spider, a pig and a couple of geese!

The actors did a fantastic job at playing all of the different roles in this play. The role of Charlotte, played by Hannah Mitchell, was a real stand out in this production and she was very enjoyable to watch as Charlotte the spider.

All of the actors were able to really embrace their characters and even the tiniest details were present in their roles. The way the actors related to each other was evident on stage and there was an easiness in watching their performance.

All of the youth presented with such great enthusiasm and at a professional level. We enjoyed this performance so much! 

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I’ve always wanted to be an artsy person that had creativity visibly flowing from my fingertips. I wish I could create pieces of art and people would actually know what it was suppose to be without having to add a description. I guess we all have areas in our lives where talent and passion collide and I’ve often wondered if I was actually an artsy person or not.

Last night I was invited for a ‘Paint and Sip’ at Kitsilano’s Rocky Mountain Flatbread.  We sampled their Spring menu, including seasonal beverages such as their triple berry mojito and hand shaken margarita. I was excited because we were invited to paint under the direction of a legit actual artist, Tara Higgins.

Apparently the menu ingredients are so fresh that they are picked from the farm and delivered via bicycle to the backdoor of their kitchen. We sampled pasta dishes and of course a variety of their infamous flatbread pizzas, including one with fiddleheads!

My favourite two pizzas were the tequila cod with shrimp and their West Coast pizza which includes a roasted garlic cream sauce, red Onions, capers, Ocean Wise smoked salmon finished with a lemon horseradish drizzle. In fact, I could order another West Coast pizza right now. It was seriously so tasty.

 

Tara was on site to help guide us through the process of painting. I was really hoping to channel my inner artist and create a masterpiece, wishfully thinking that maybe I was actually a naturally talented artist and I just needed to sit down and put brush to canvas. I haven’t ever spent much time painting, not including all of the art that I’ve done with my three kids over the years. It was nice to focus on the directions from an actual artist and also let myself get lost in the moment.

Long story short, it turns out that I am actually NOT a naturally talented artist bursting with amazing talent like I was hoping for. However, that’s okay as I still had fun getting my hands (literally) in the paint. The process of following Tara’s steps were  really enjoyable and the atmosphere of a Paint & Sip was a lot of fun.

My oldest was seriously stoked to get a painting in his room made by his own mama, which was enough affirmation for me. I love how all of us that attended had the same tools but all of our interpretations were creatively different. Can you spot my masterpiece?

If you need a family dinner idea check out Rocky Mountain Flatbread. It is so family friendly and the food is really fresh and tasty. Plus they boast a great local beer and wine list. This weekend Vancouver is hosting ‘Art! Vancouver‘ will be at the Vancouver Convention Centre showcasing local and international artists like Tara Higgins.

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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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