Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

Hello Doctor!

Oh, lord! I have had the most annoying cold for over 2 weeks now and the whole nose blowing thing is getting rather old. The amount of tissues I've gone through is unreal. So, I sucked it up and headed to the doctors office to get a little check up. I was starting to feel sensitive about all the people giving me the evil eye when I blew my nose around them or the people pointing their fingers saying, 'your sick!!!'. It turns out I have one of those glorious sinus infections that needs antibiotics and is not contagious but more of an inconvenience than anything.

I had to take Josie to the doctors office with me and, as you'd imagine, bringing a toddler into an appointment is a hilarious adventure. Our sweet girl is still charged up from her stay at Children's hospital and wouldn't stop saying, 'hello doctor!' every 20 seconds during my appointment. Luckily, the GP was very enamoured with Josie and didn't mind the constant interruptions of 'hello doctor!' while she did a check up on me. There is absolutely no exaggeration with the every 20 seconds either, the girl was on it!

During my appointment I was very impressed with my GP who just assumed I was still nursing my nearly 2 year old girl when prescribing me drugs. While she was deciding what drugs to order me she was talking out loud and said, 'hmm... no, that isn't safe with are still breastfeeding right?'. Major kudos to a health care practitioner who is on the up and up with full term breastfeeding. I feel like one day full term nursing will be the norm and not the exception and a supportive health care provider is so important.

Recently I took an on line survey about my experience with support around my decision to keep breastfeeding past 12 months. The truth is, it wasn't a doctor or a nurse educating me or encouraging me that got me past 12 months of age. Deciding to nurse my youngest till her 2nd birthday was from my own knowledge and my own drive. However, if I wasn't a breastfeeding supporter my experience might have been different. I probably wouldn't know that the World Health Organization recommends normal term breastfeeding as 24 months old and beyond. Which is why I was secretly thrilled when the GP I saw brought breastfeeding into our conversation as Josie toddled around her clinic saying hello.

Did you receive support around continuing to breastfeed past 12 months? Take the survey and help researchers collect information about breastfeeding toddlers and the support you received.

Look What I Can Do

We're really really enjoying Josie's age right now. At nearly 2 years old she is like the Betty White of toddlerhood and is hilarious, funny and likes to make you laugh. For me, one of the greatest parts of motherhood is watching my children's personalities emerge and define and this girl is no exception. I have two children with totally different personalities and I love that.

Today in the quiet of the late morning she sat at the table playing with some play dough and just having a good time. I was busy bustling around making beds and wiping yogurt off the floor, again, when my husband snapped these shots. With Ben off at kindergarten Josie gets a chance to play on her own and she is just starting to get the concept of entertaining herself. For the longest time she always had her brother to lead her around.

'Mama look! Dada look!' (repeat times one hundred)

Just lately she has hit this stage where she does the classic 'look what I can do!' and she genuinely feels so much excitement. I will admit that today I used a bit of sarcasm on her, 'WOW!! Look at that!!! You're amazing!!'. The smile I got in return was so worth the fact that I used sarcasm on a toddler. All day long she wants to have us watch her do something. Put a bowl on her head, a Cheerio in her bellybutton, a whoopee cushion on the couch. It is a constant conversation of, 'Mama! Look!'. She even stops by her sweet old dad's office to show him what she can do. He's always busy working but graciously stops and looks at what she can do. Wear a funny shirt, put her brother's underwear on her head, shake her baby booty.

This clever girl thinks she is the first one to come up with the idea of pushing pencils and objects into play dough

We know that moments like these ones are short and go by quickly. Everyone ahead of us has already warned us about that and we listened. We know that one day she will tell us to STOP looking at her and to leave her alone. So, we choose to just embrace each one of her sweet shouts for us to look at what she can do. At the same time I try to press the record button in my brain and capture all her cute toddler antics... because seriously, so cute.

Josie at 22 months old. Look what she can do!

Looking For Inspiration

I won't ever claim to be a domestic goddess in the kitchen. In fact, I openly admit that one of the big reasons I initially fell in love with my husband was that the man could cook. Oh, could he cook! In our first 6 months of dating I gained a good 10 pounds from all of his delicious cooking. If I was hungry, he would cook for me and it was a real love affair. In the early days, I started thinking about all of the perks there was to having a partner who was a good cook. Besides all of the delicious food I got to eat it also meant that I didn't have to cook.

Then came marriage and babies in the carriage and life moved on, I persevered over the stove top and became a decent home cook. I am not so much of an inspired cook and do it more out of necessity and fulfilling the good enough mom role. It also turns out that children expect some kind of food multiple times every day. Didn't I make dinner yesterday?

Is it okay if my kids eat sandwiches for dinner? Will you judge me if I told you that at dinnertime they had scrambled eggs or that they had pudding for dessert? I'm not much for advanced meal planning, mostly because I am out of the house random dinnertimes each week with work. My husband still does do some dinnertime cooking and can whip up something delicious and nutritious from the pantry, but the frequency is vastly different than our days before kids. I'm left with about 4-5 days each week that I need to make something for dinner and I am often left with a lack of inspiration. I can make a mean tomato sauce from scratch and homemade meatballs that are amazing, but that only works once a week or so. I need more ideas!

What's on her face? Dinner! A tasty red pepper tomato sauce along with a bit of chocolate pudding

I've been reading your Tweets and your Facebook updates and there's lots of talk about soups and chilli and delicious warm homemade meals. I need to know, what are you making for dinner?

Apartment Neighbours

There has always been the talk about how Vancouverites are down right unfriendly. Apparently people don't talk to other people and no one's asking how your day was. The sugar and spice vibe is gone resulting in a lack of friends with apartment neighbours, despite only being separated by a wall. I've always had the opposite experiences with my own apartment neighbours and have made friends with every apartment I have lived in. Sure, it is usually a pretty casual friendship but I've been given keys and watered plants of some of my previous apartment neighbours.

My husband is a much more friendlier neighbour than me and always finds out peoples names, especially if they have a dog. Well now, hat's Colleen and Colin and their dog Rocket! Across the way is Sandra and Bernard and their dogs Spot and Hercules!'. Recently we've been having our neighbour's dog Spot over for some playful fun. Our old dog Maggie is more at a great grandmother speed and Ben was really wanting to play with an active dog, so we invited Spot over to play.

Spot, 'the neighbour dog', has come over about 5 times in the last 2 weeks and there's always a lot of excitement in our apartment with each visit. Spot even has his own toy when he comes to play and when he walks outside our front door he gives a little woof to say hello. Being in an apartment doesn't have to be isolating and having the ability to connect with neighbours can be really awesome. Plus, Spot is such a welcomed guest to have over!

A house or an apartment or something in between... are you friendly with your neighbours?

***The contest is now closed. The winner by random draw is Jenn. Jenn said, "I attended last year for the first time since I became a "Vancouverite" 4 years ago. Was so much fun, and so much amazing, local treasure! Excited for all the cute baby things to discover and maybe get some early xmas shopping done this year while being pregnant!" Congratulations on the ticket win Jenn. Send me a message to to claim your tickets!

If you're a Vancouverite, or somewhere nearby, you might be aware that in a couple of weeks the annual Circle Craft Christmas Market will be happening downtown. This is an event I've been checking out for over the last 5 years and it never fails to get my Christmas juices flowing. Plus, I love a good reason to browse and shop and touch nice things.

A usual annual stop for me includes sampling some of the artisan foods such as Belgian chocolate from Abbotsford's ChocolaTas (seriously, oh so delicious!). I have a mad love affair with chocolate and declare these chocolates to be very delicious. Last year I found Josie the cutest organic onesie and purple sweater from local company Zoolu Organics. I love supporting local business and the Circle Craft Christmas Market is full of vendors from around Canada.

Zoolu Organics

This year the market runs from November 7-11th at the Vancouver Convention Centre West and tickets are available on line. I have two tickets up for grabs for you to win to attend! Entering is easy, just leave me a comment on this blog post about why you want to attend. A winner will be drawn by Monday November 4th. How simple is that? Good luck!

Celebrating Traditions With Minted!

I am not going to lie, I've already given some thought to my annual tradition of sending out Christmas cards. While it still feels like the holidays are a long ways off, I have given a bit of thought about what I'd like our 2013 family card to look like. Last year we did our first photo card and had a terrific shot of us in Hawaii plastered on the front. I really enjoy the whole process of picking out the right card, writing messages and addressing envelopes. I might get a sense of gratification when I put all those cards in the mail box too. I guess I'm a total sucker for traditions and sending out Christmas cards ranks high on my lists of traditions to keep up.

For me, traditions help to symbolize family and that familiarity of special events makes me feel good. I love collecting our mail during December and pulling out the envelopes that look like cards. Each year I send off a good chunk of special cards to friends and family spanning across North America through to the UK. While, social media helps us keep up to date with day to day events much more than it did years ago, receiving a Christmas card just helps solidify connections and ultimately spread some holiday cheer.

It seemed completely perfect when indie card company Minted asked me to check out their goods. Minted offers so many choices for the consumer and allows you to play around with your selection before purchasing it. I love Minted's interactive on line card options and also that it is so easy to use. Just upload your favourite photo of your cat, your cute baby, your family, your scenic holiday shot and GO!

In the olden days, and even very occasionally now, people would sit down and write out a letter telling all about the things they had been up to over the year. Remember those? I still get a couple of letters each Christmas but for the most part it just doesn't happen anymore. When I saw this card I thought it was so suitable as a modern take on the annual newsletter. So perfect for a family who has had a few exciting things happen over the year or for someone who has traveled around.

Back when I was a single lady in the city I still sent out Christmas cards each year, the volume was less but the sentiment was the same. Once we had Ben I felt this excitement about including him in some of the traditions we grew up with and also creating our own family traditions. I think a new baby is a perfect feature for a family Christmas card and a baby jazzed up to look a little festive is pretty sweet in my opinion.

I am definitely a pre planner and I plan to have my Christmas cards in hand by mid November. Say what?? I know some of you are thinking that is way too early but a pre planner has a plan. Once I select my card and have everything ready to go, I do a bunch of cards each night that I have some down time. I'm usually watching a silly Christmas movie and burning a scented candle while I write little messages inside each card. I always like to have them ready to mail out by the first week of December, just to make sure that each card can get where it needs to go in the world.

Are you going to be sending out Christmas cards this year? Can I have a 'oh yeah!' for all the Christmas card pre planners like me. Check out Minted at their site or on their blog for fun creative DIY ideas.

I was compensated by Minted for this post, but my love of their cards is my own opinion.

Breastfeeding and Social Media

I've just started a new gig and I'm doing a side of teaching with RN students who went back to school to specialize in perinatal nursing. I've only done one week with them but so far it's a great experience for me. I come from a family of teachers and I'm trusting my instinct with how I teach fellow nurses in an area that I feel passionate about. I want them to feel really empowered about becoming a maternity nurse and I want their patients to benefit from them. For me, changing things up in any part of life helps to reenergize me. I've been a RN for over 10 years now and have always done bedside nursing, so this change is definitely warranted.

We are doing a lot of talking about breastfeeding, because I really want them to feel prepared to help support new mothers. Trying to be current with my style of teaching I've asked them to find a website/blog/Facebook page that helps to promote and support breastfeeding via social media. I knew a couple of sites that came to mind right away, but I'm curious to see what they come up with. I've got Kelly Mom and The Leaky Boob as a couple of websites that stand out for me with respect to supporting breastfeeding moms. I often tell parents to check out Dr. Jack Newman's website if they are feeling flustered at 3 AM and their baby just won't latch. He's posted up a bunch of really fab videos.

I'm curious what you might recommend? Is there an awesome blog you follow that talks about normal term breastfeeding or a website that you think is essential? Hit me up in the comment section and let me know.

I Am Mama in the City

I am a mama in the city. I'm not unique or special, in fact I'm a MITC along with 100's of other mothers in downtown Vancouver. Together we all live in apartments, trek around the city with strollers, walk more than drive, and enjoy local tourist spots as our everyday adventures.

Today was no exception and while the baby (yes, we still call her 'baby' despite being a solid 21 months old) napped and my husband worked from home, I quickly jetted out of our condo and high tailed it over to Granville Island Public Market for a quick grocery shop for dinner. There are many pro's and con's to having a spouse who works from home, a big pro is being given the chance to whip out during the whole nap scenario that happens around 11-1 PM.

This morning there was a brisk coolness in the air and all of the trees along the seawall were bursting with gorgeous Autumn colours. As I walked from our place to the water taxi I realized how much I relished being alone to do some errands; so incredibly simple but really appreciated. The water taxi is literally a 3 minute ride from one dock to the next and takes me longer to wait for the next water taxi to arrive then it does to cross False Creek. I love that part of being a MITC. Amidst todays tourists from Japan and Germany, I was heading out to do my everyday errands.

My plan was to buy groceries to make a sweet potato hash and also grab an espresso to fuel me up for the rest of the day. I love wandering around the public market fetching a little bit of this and that from all of the different stalls. I also really love seeing all of the tourists taking it all in for the first time. My favourite stop for dinner groceries was Oyama Sausage Company where I purchased the best tasting sausages for my hash. Hands down their sausage made my dish, so much so that the 'baby' ate seconds.

This round trip happens in about 30 minutes and dinner has fresh groceries to cook with. I love this.

So nice.

Are you a MITC too? I'd really love to hear from you! Of course, there has to be some cons to raising a family in the city, but I really adore all of the pluses, and I love it when something feels just right. So, let's be honest, would you/could you raise your family in the downtown of a city?

I'm Giving Thanks

This weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving which is so timely as today I have so many things to be thankful for. Besides all of the usual suspects, I'm thankful for Josie finally kicking croup in the ass and for friends who send you gift baskets and wine. I have no problem coming up with a list of things that I would like to change, but instead I chose to be like Oprah and see gratitude in the face. I am thankful.

Last week while visiting my parents in Victoria little Josie got a bad case of croup. After one ER visit in Victoria we ended up having to hang out at the hospital in Vancouver for a bunch of days. So, we hung out in a tiny isolation room together while she got plied with multiplied doses of medication to help her breathing slowly return to normal. After spending so much time together, Josie's vocab went crazy and the girl won't stop talking! She is expressive and, oh my, so many words and emotions coming out of her mouth.

The Beginning

I had heard of croup even before her little seal bark started at 1 AM. It had been preceded by a runny nose and then a moist cough that sounded like Darth Vadar. At 2 AM we sat outside on the doorstep at my parents house and I knew exactly what was happening. Croup had found us, so I did what I thought and so I tried to let the cold air soothe her inflamed airway. She was tired and struggling to breathe and I wasn't really sure what to do. Should I hang tight and see how things go, or should I react and head to the ER? Side note, it was a dark and rainy night and 3 AM in a city I don't know that well.

The Middle

You would think that being an experienced RN would mean I could make pretty quick decisions when it comes to emergencies with my kids, but it turns out I am overly relaxed and don't jump the gun with them. I used to always roll my eyes at people who overused the emergency room for bad period cramps, a case of dandruff or because they don't have a family doctor. I'm more apt to nod in acceptance at a severed finger over a paper cut when it comes to ER visits. So, while cradling a croupy Josie I did a quick iPhone google search about how to treat croup at home and what things to look out for. Pink baby=good! Blue baby=bad?!#$%!

After an hour of trying to make a decision I decided I had had enough of watching her work so hard to breathe, and so I texted my night owl brother in law to please come and fetch us at my parents house. I seriously did not want to drive alone in the car with a girl who was having breathing issues. Plus, it was 3:30 AM and I hate not knowing where I am going. This whole time Josie was nice and pink and in pretty decent spirits despite being tired and dealing with croup. We sped to the ER in Victoria and at 4 AM my girl got a nice dose of epinephrine and steroids and her breathing started to calm down.

Fast forward a day later and we returned from our weekend away and had a terrible night at home filled with visits to the steamy bathroom and cold air treatments. So, we called it a day and off we went to Vancouver's BC Children's Hospital. It was perfect timing too and Josie needed quite a lot of medications to control her fast breathing, and we ended up getting admitted from the ER to the ward. I can't say enough good things about BC Children's Hospital, or how fortunate we are that this is our kids local hospital. The access to resources was amazing. Need an ENT consult? Hold on, it will literally be 5 minutes. Need a chest x-ray to make sure there isn't a random toy stuck down there? They're here to pick you up! Vancouverites, is that your experience at BCCH too or were did we just have lucky timing on that one? I know how variable things like this can be when it comes to hospitals.

The Now

Josie is feeling much much better and is full of craziness and clinginess too. I've chosen to embrace both of those things and am thankful for the now.

This is what I've learned: Don't mess around with breathing concerns, especially when it comes to young children as they have softer airways and things can change fast. Breathing issues take priority and things can go from being pretty okay to being very intense within a few minutes. No one is going to roll their eyes at you if you take your kid to the ER with breathing concerns. Right now Josie is pumped on a triple dose of steroids and she is extra hungry ('Mama, I hungry!') and she's also a wee bit moody (they did warn us). Yes, a toddler on steroids is quite entertaining. Weeee! Truly, so thankful for everything.

Making The Switch!

I am (im)patiently waiting for my husband to finish up with the last pieces of my new big blog reveal. After 4 plus years of blogging on this site I'm switching from Blogger to Wordpress and doing a bit of an overhaul. It is much needed and I'm hoping it helps me feel inspired to write and write and share with you. I think he's getting sick of me asking him if it's done yet, you know, on top of all his other 101 hours of work that he did last week. I went back and looked at some of my first dozen posts and they are hilarious. There has been a definite change in my writing style and ability the more I wrote and pressed the big PUBLISH button.

In other news, I'm itching to publish some more posts about things that make feel passionate and the new adventures that are ahead for me. Like, how I will be teaching clinical to new perinatal RN's in October on top of my regular job. Or, how I'm currently debating with my husband about being thrifty vs. going on our anticipated trip to Hawaii this winter. Seriously, mama needs a family beach vacation. Plus, doesn't my new teaching gig sort of make up for the expense? I can really rationalize anything.

In the meantime, I went ahead and (finally) created my Facebook fan page and would love if you joined me there. For daily discussion, for tips on city living in Vancouver and to give me advice when I need it! Please join me over on Facebook at Mama in the City. Let's keep in contact, I miss you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails