Having to play doctor, but not for fun

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My eldest has been sick over the last few days – since Wednesday night. This is probably the first time she has had a full blown sickness since she was born. She's two months shy of three years old, so I'm counting my blessings. This one was particularly bad because she was so congested. She'd ask me to stay while she napped which was just torture because I'd listen to all the mucus in her chest flapping around as she was breathing, and she'd wake crying in frustration because she was so tired and just wanted to sleep. Her vocal chords were so wrapped in phlegm she effectively lost her voice. Her throat started really killing her and so it was tough to make her drink or eat anything. So, I'd sit with her forcing her to eat and especially drink which was so frustrating also since she'd cry and whine and whine and whine. (I don't take whining particularly well). And while it's bad for her, it's bad for me too 'cause she'll wake several times a night and that means I'm awake too. And then couple that with Joaquin waking and that just means I've had a night of a string of half-hour naps.

Last night we finally had a good night -- she slept soundly the entire night. A few things really helped her as I racked my brain about everything my mother ever did and also from scouring the internet.

1) Vicks Vapo-Rub. Yesterday, when the congestion was particularly bad, I put it on her chest, back and neck as instructed. She liked it and it did help her significantly.

2) Sleeping with a humidifier in her room. I think that this might be why she's sick to begin with... Every year when the heat would come on in our apartment building, I'd be sick. Just the sudden change in humidity always caused me to have a sore throat and stuffy nose.

3) Honey and lemon tea. I love honey and lemon tea, but Sofia does not. She says it's "Tooooo sour!" I didn't even put that much lemon in and I sure put a load of honey in it. I forced her to drink about 250 ml of it before she went to bed last night and it was funny 'cause as she'd whine and complain in between each sip she could hear her voice getting stronger. At least at that point she felt a bit more motivated to choke it down, but she still complained.

4) Children's Advil. If her fever was low enough, I'd just let her ride it out and let her body fight it. But as soon as it started causing her to act terrible (due to her feeling really uncomfortable) I'd give it to her.

5) Anti-biotics. I took her to the walk-in-clinic on Friday (our doctor was away), and the doctor prescribed her an anti-biotic for ear infections/tonsilitis. He told me to just see that if it got worse over the weekend to get filled. Up until that point she was still eating well and not behaving too badly, but that night she started losing interest in eating. Good thing I got it filled too, 'cause the next day wasn't so good.

6) Warm baths. Nothing like steam to get that congestion loose and really, really warm water to get those aches out of muscles.

7) Keeping her in a good mood. I did my best to just keep her as happy as possible. That included breaking some rules -- like way too much tv. Part of getting better, I believe, is just staying positive and so I let her watch whatever movie she wanted to watch. I let her wear dresses all day. I really did up her hair after bathing. These things I know really make her happy.

It's really hard to watch my kids being sick. Especially when it's when they can't breathe. I'm grateful that they are generally in good health, and that they haven't had to fight anything for too long of any length of time.

First instalment: Parenting Memories

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My friend, Chris has a series on his blog called "Epic Fail". I have been thinking about doing series too, and I think that I'll start posting my favourite parenting memories. There are so many moments while being with my children that are so ridiculously funny. Hopefully they're not just funny to me only... But I may also post some moments that have meant so much to me. The stuff that really put the joy into parenting. Thought these may be fun to record and share.


Instalment #1: All Drains Lead to the Ocean, Kid

Over the summer, we were visiting my cousin and her family who live in New Jersey. At this point, Sofia is two and half. In the middle of the night, one night, Sofia asked to go to the bathroom. I didn't bring her potty seat since the car was full -- one less thing to bring. In an effort to be independent, she asked that I not hold on to her while she sat on the toilet. I obliged... probably since I was still sleepy. Next thing you know, she fell in so far that she was literally folded in half. I stifled my laughter as she started to cry. I said, "Sofia! Sofia! It's okay, it's okay..." as I lifted her out. She finally calms down and says, "Momma...No flush Sofia okay?"

Another spread

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Here is another spread from the Picaboo photobook that I am preparing that covers our recent holiday to Germany. So far it has been really fun. I am at page 20/21. The software, however, is a bit slow and limited. Like, I can't choose what typeface I want and the typefaces that they do provide don't allow for accented letters. HELLOOOOO. There are going to be other languages people want to type in that isn't ENGLISH. Yeah, that's a big deal to me.

I'm gonna publish myself!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making a book!

I have been wanting to put a photobook together for a while now. Ever since Blurb books were advertising on Flickr a while back (uh, maybe 2008?). Me, being a little bit high-performance, I have been procrastinating on this little dream of mine: What look should I go with? I don't have enough photos that are good enough! etc., have really made it nearly impossible. Especially if I'm gonna pay for something, it better look good enough to sell!

Well, the perfect opportunity came: Picaboo, another company who does these photobooks, have an offer for free books up to a $39 value for all new customers. All you have to do is enter "FALLBK" when you check out your order on their website. The offer is good until October 25 at 11:59 Pacific Standard Time.

This situation is perfect for me. No longer is there pressure to make the perfect book since it's free, ANNNNND there is a deadline!

So, I've decided that I'm going to do up my recent visit to Germany. I'm up to page 9 in my book. I was thinking that I'd like to do a 40 page book since that didn't sound like a lot to me...but now that I've gotten started I think that 15 will do.

So not worth it

Monday, October 18, 2010

Today, we took the kids to a pumpkin patch up in Richmond Hill. We chose three pumpkins that we'd make into jack-o-lanterns, and brought them home.

After dinner tonight, Gonzo and I made sketches as to what we would carve into these pumpkins...and promptly stopped -- remembering what happened with the Ikea train set. My husband spent so much time designing a train track that would utilize every single piece that Sofia completely lost interest and we couldn't gain it back. Anyway, back to the pumpkins...the last time I was in the presence of a pumpkin being carved, it was back when I was in kindergarten - for real. I told G to check YouTube for a pumpkin carving video, you know, to get some tips. Man, it was a lot harder than I remember my teacher let on. We tried out all sorts of different knives (from chefs' knives to utility ones) all while trying not to plunge the knife into my gut or cutting off my hand. We found that the steak knife worked the best.

After over hour of cutting the circle into the top, removing all the pumpkin innards, scraping the inside out, drawing the face and finally cutting all the pieces out, my right forearm and upper back was so sore - but it was finally done! We placed the candle inside and set it out in the backyard so Sofia could see. You know what she said?

I don't like it.
It's scary.


Making traveling with kids less crazy

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I recently went to Germany for one week with my husband. When I'd tell people about our plans I was countered often with, "You're not taking your kids are you?" I pause and think to myself...why not?

I definitely knew what I was up against. The timezone adjustment was going to be tough. Germany is six hours ahead. When it is six in the evening where we live, it is 12 midnight over there. We weren't going to be going there long enough to be adjusted fully and by the time they'd really be, we'd be back home. So, what does that mean when it comes to outings and experiencing new things? Sofia, my two year old, like others her age, aren't that cooperative when they are tired. Joaquin, my six month old, I was most concerned about waking in the middle of the night thinking that his day has started (3 am German time is 9 am ours). And when he is awake and not doing anything, he yaps away. He is NOISY. Therefore, he was going to be the alarm clock that is set at the wrong time and he doesn't have a snooze button.

Another thing: all the stuff you have to bring when you're a parent. I try my best to be minimalistic, but after the car seats and strollers, that is four large items you have to bring besides your baggage. I borrowed what I could from friends we have in Germany, but it's still lots to lug around.

Sure, taking young children to far away lands isn't convenient, but signing up for parenthood is asking for your life to never be convenient again. But why do I bother? Do they even remember anything? I take my children everywhere I go because:

1) My parents did. When I was young, I traveled to the Philippines (24 hour flights) every four years. The first time I went, I was under two years old. That means my mother HELD ME on her lap for the duration of those flights (definitely many connecting flights -- to save money). Do I remember anything from that trip? No. Was it worth it? Definitely. I have family members who know me, and I grew to know them. I have a comfort of flying. I get VERY excited about going to the airport. And because my parents took me everywhere I knew they loved to be with me...even if I was a pain in the butt. I know that this is a big chunk of why we're so close today.

2) To create memories for our family. If I don't take my kids anywhere how will we have any family memories? Shared memories build closeness that I know that my growing family will enjoy in the future. Every good thing takes work. It's an investment in my family that my husband and I are making now.

3) To get them traveling. If I don't start now, I never will. Traveling is so important, much like reading is. Traveling and reading has your mind considering ideas that you never thought of before. But unlike traveling, reading is only considering theories. Reading doesn't have the substance that traveling does. Traveling has you experiencing something new. Touching, feeling, interacting... Experiencing new things helps me become a person that deals with change well, and if I can deal with change well, then I can become a better person. To be the best possible version of myself as I can be. If I don't travel, I don't throw myself into new situations and I will always just live with whatever I am comfortable with at home. The times that I have felt most conflicted whether to go or not, those are the times that have been the most rewarding. I do this for myself, so I do this for my children.

But, I am not a fan of torturing my children just for my ideals. A few things that really helped us make the most of our days:

Strollers/carriers. To deal with my eldest being tired mid-day, we bought a convenience stroller that reclines way back so she could nap while we were sightseeing. At home we are pretty against her being as big as she is still using a stroller, but we had to be realistic. We'd just have a big ball of tantrum waiting to explode if we didn't have it ready for her to use. On one of the day trips, she slept a full hour in the stroller while we shopped.

To navigate crowded streets, using one less stroller made it easier. For my youngest (6 months), I wore my baby using a mei tai carrier my friend made me. Just make sure you wear good shoes 'cause the extra weight can really do a number on your knees and back if you're not careful...especially on all that cobblestone. The carrier was especially handy at the airport. Instead of pushing my infant in a stroller, carrying him in a carrier meant my hands were free so I was able to help my husband push a second luggage cart. We had nine large pieces to bring across the Atlantic. And we made it!

Exposing to sunlight. I decided to see what others knew about traveling with children across timezones and I found on Travel with Your Kids that helping them get as much sunlight as possible helps their bodies adjust. It really did help. Almost immediately they adjusted...the first night they both woke at around 4 am, but went right back to sleep.

Buy what you can once you get there. Diapers. Geez, those things take up a lot of space. To save luggage space, I decided to buy diapers once I got there. I was fighting to try to make everything fit. I was really stressed about making all that we had fit into the VW Golf that we were going to be renting once we got there. So one thing that really did help to keep the luggage space down was to only bring 24 hours' worth of diapers and just buy them when we got there.

Candies and other things to eat. For those moments that just really need your kid to behave but they've got nothing left, make sure you have candies in your purse/pocket. At home I really limit my two year old's sugar intake 'cause she sure is active enough. Too much sugar and she gets scary. The purpose of our trip was to attend a wedding of a friend of ours. The whole wedding was in German. It was one-hour long. It was during nap time. All those factors really were ingredients to a meltdown. I had to be prepared. I brought along a single serving box of cereal (like Corn Puffs) and sugar-free candies. When she started getting restless, I'd give her the corn puffs one by one. This avoids her spilling them all over the church floor, and keeps her occupied. This kept her settled for a while longer. I saved the candies for when nothing else will work.

Plan to do stuff they'd enjoy doing. I have to accept that my children might not enjoy the Hauptstra├če (shopping promenade) as much as I will. But Sofia would love the Wildpark (a kind-of zoo). Sure, it seems obvious to include activities that the kids will enjoy, but I am a human being, I am selfish and I just want to do what I want to do. Alternating things that they will enjoy with things that are more adult-centred really helps to balance the holiday out. You don't feel like you went all the way to Germany to see animals that you could see at the zoo at home, but then you don't feel frazzled because your children hate you. It's amazing when I remember that my children are people too.

In the end, I've just got to accept that my children are only two years and six months old. They're children. They're going to cry. They're going to be tired. They're going to be messy. Just do the best I can to prevent what I can, or be prepared for when they are. Keep a loose schedule. I had to accept that if something we had planned was just going to make them unacceptably miserable, we just had to forego it and go with another plan. By doing this, we had a great holiday, made an investment in some friendships we really wanted to keep, we got to introduce our children to people who mean something to us and we came home with experiences that were just amazing.


One thing that I forgot to add that helped us a lot, which is one of the best things that made sure happen was seat selection on our flight. When you've got kids, the risk of getting anywhere late is quite high, and to check-in for your flight to only find out that you can't sit together is stress that no one needs! We flew with Air Transat and since they are so discounted (we flew for probably half the price of Air Canada) seat selection costs another $20 per person per way. However, they tipped me off that if I signed Sofia up for their Kids Club that she got seat selection for free. So after I selected our seats, I signed her up and got my money back. It was definitely worth the extra $80 for all of us that when we checked in for our flight that we knew exactly where we were going to sit. On the flight there, I booked early enough that I scored the front row seats in economy. And this is awesome because they were able to provide me with a bassinet that my six month old could sleep in ... especially awesome since this was an overnight flight... and even more awesome that he slept the entire flight. What was not so awesome was that I had a coffee before boarding the flight and coupled with the anxiety and excitement of preparing for a trip made me sleepless the entire flight. By the time we got to sleep in Germany, I had been awake for 33 hours. That's something NOT to do.