Astrid – Chatterbox

Cutie
Astrid is talking up a storm. Her vocabulary has expanded a lot, she’s better at repeating words back, and she has a few short phrases like “Dada’s here”, “I did it”, and “I love you Mama” that she uses all the time. She’s memorized some of the words in the books we read each night and will shout them out before we have a chance to say them. She can also count up and down from 1 to 10. Sometimes she skips a few numbers above five but it’s pretty good.

Gardening with Kids

She’s an adventurous little monkey outside – climbing on everything and swinging from bars. In the house, she can now open all the doors in the house (except the front door which is too heavy) so nothing is off limits. Turn your back for more than 5 seconds and she’s found new mischief somewhere. She’s also close to being able to climb out of her crib. I’ve seen her get a leg up on the railing a few times.

Mother's Day Dress

I’m happy to report that we’ve been hospital free for 60 days! A new record. Of course that doesn’t mean she’s been perfectly healthy. Astrid had two colds in the past 6 weeks, both of which required Ventolin to keep the wheezing /asthma under control. But we’ve been able to handle it on our own without a trip to the Emergency Room, so it’s a small victory.

More Snacks

Emily spent four days in Kelowna, so it was just Astrid and Daddy for a while (with some key help from Grandma). We did pretty good on our own, but were very happy when Mommy returned. We only had one minor incident where Astrid smashed her face against a picnic table and had copious amounts of blood pour from her mouth. It was like a scene from a zombie movie. Once I washed her up and removed the chunks of food (hoping that each one wasn’t a tooth), it turned out there were just two small cuts on her lip. Astrid was up and running around and even eating 10 minutes later (tough kid).

Smashed Lip

Emily used the break to wean Astrid off of breastfeeding. She was barely feeding before, but now that she’s fully off we’re going to pick up some Vitamin D and B12 supplements for Astrid. She gets a lot of her required vitamin and minerals from the smoothie I make her every day (I like to add hemp seeds, Vega One, kale, omega oils, and sometimes molasses) but otherwise she doesn’t have a lot of D and B12 sources in her diet. Hence the supplements.

Dosa
We started a new tradition of going out for Indian food on Saturday night. Astrid loves it. She can eat half a dosa on her own.

Seawall Model

April Photos
May Photos

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Happy Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the fabulous mothers and grandmothers. Astrid is blessed to have such amazing female role-models in her life. Everyone of them loving, caring, smart, compassionate, and fun. I see it rubbing off on her everyday.

Colourful

Baba Story Time

Grandmie

Happy

Commuting with Mobi Bike Share

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Mobi Bikes

In November I won a free annual membership to Vancouver’s bike share program, Mobi by Shaw Go. At the time I was working in Richmond and commuting 15 km each way on my Norco road bike. I didn’t need a bike share membership but thought it might come in handy occasionally.

Five months later and now I’m using Mobi every day for my commute, logging 175 trips and 400¬†km. What changed? In December I started a new job downtown and discovered that bike share is surprisingly the fastest way for me to get to and from work. It’s about 2 minutes faster than taking public transit and 5 minutes faster than using my own bike, because of the time it takes to store my bike in the secure bike parking rooms on each end.

The Mobi bikes are definitely heavier and slower than my road bike, but I only have a 2.5 km commute so averaging 15 km/h on a Mobi bike is only a minute or two slower than averaging 20 km/h on my road bike. And that’s only because I have a long stretch without traffic lights.

What I like about commuting with Mobi:

  • I don’t have to worry about bike lights, flat tires, or worn out brake pads.
  • The bikes all have chain guards so my pants don’t get greasy.
  • I don’t have to worry if my bike will get stolen.
  • The station density is pretty good. I have 3 stations near home and 2 close to work.

What I don’t like:

  • Now that weather is getting better, it’s sometimes hard to find a bike, especially after work.
  • I miss my panniers and the storage capacity they provided. The basket on the Mobi bikes provides some space, but nothing compared to 2 panniers.
  • The shared helmets are a little gross, although they’ve worked out better than I expected. We’ll see how sweaty they get in the summer.
  • The closest station to my work is at Granville and Georgia, but the bikes are covered in pigeon poop.

I’m guessing my summer commuting experience will be very different from the past 5 months. In the winter, I rarely had a problem finding a bike or a space to dock it when I was done. But in the past week, I’ve had 3 days where the station I normally use was out of bikes. The¬†statistics below from MountainMath¬†show that usage has really increased in the past week. I’m sure that’s due to the nice weather and Mobi’s recent expansion into East Vancouver.

mobi_usage

Overall, I’ve been happy enough with Mobi that I’ll probably renew my membership. It doesn’t completely replace owning a bike for me – I still need my own to pull my daughter’s bike trailer. But for short commutes, I’ve been surprised to find it’s actually the most convenient way to get around.

Astrid – Easter Egg Hunts and Tantrums

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Wild Hair
This blog post is a few weeks late. After Easter we all got sick (I had the flu plus a root canal, Emily and Astrid had colds), and we’ve been nervously anticipating another hospital visit for Astrid’s asthma. But now that Astrid seems to be getting better, it’s time to recap our adventures in March.

Hospital Visit #6
We were back in the hospital for Astrid’s 6th and 7th visits for Asthma on March 9th and 16th.Ugh. We seem to spend a lot of Friday nights hanging out with our doctor and nurse friends. Hopefully cold and flu season is now over and we can make it through the summer without more emergency room visits.

Hinge Park

Even when Astrid’s been sick, her playful personality hasn’t diminished. One night she woke up coughing at 1 am and couldn’t fall back asleep. I stayed up with her and we played with lego in our moonlit apartment, read stories, and had a snack. At one point she ran into the bathroom but it was too dark to see anything. She begged me me to turn on the lights, which I briefly did blinding both of us. She ran away and came back with sunglasses for both of us. We didn’t stay in the bathroom, but we did run around the house with our sunglasses on for another half an hour before she got tired and went to bed.

Toque and Sunglasses

Astrid has started asserting her will more and beginning the dreaded toddler tantrums. She’s had a few incidents where she’s completely lost it crying and flailing about. One time she wanted to wear her toque and sunglasses and refused to take them off at bedtime. Another time she refused to put on clean socks in the morning and insisted on¬†wearing the dirty ones she found in the hamper. We’ve learned to pick our battles and to give her space when she’s freaking out.

On a cuter note, Astrid has learned how to say “I love you” or rather “I you“. The first night she said it back to me at bedtime she lay in bed saying “I you” repeatedly for 10 minutes, long after I had left the room.

Tunnel

The highlight of our month was our annual Easter trip to Kamloops to visit auntie Kelsey, uncle Matt, cousin Jacob, and baby Nora. It was great to see how much fun the cousins had playing together.

Little Chefs

Astrid and Jacob ran around the house together, learned to share toys, bounced on couches, and helped me make pancakes for breakfast. Jacob woke up every morning asking where Astrid was. And Astrid woke up asking to see the baby. She loved patting Nora on head and poking her in the eyes (amazingly she never made her cry).

Kids Table

The easter egg hunt was a huge success. With plastic eggs full of dried fruit and stickers at ground level for Astrid and Jacob to find, and eggs full of chocolate hidden higher up for the adults. Amazingly we got through the easter weekend without giving Astrid any chocolate. I’m not sure if that makes us good or bad parents.

Easter Egg Hunt

 

It took Nora a few days to warm up to us, but we became best friends by the end of the weekend.

Emily, Nora, and Me

More pictures from March and Easter.

Astrid: February in Photos

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After we spent the Family Day long weekend in the hospital (two visits to emergency), Astrid’s health has improved. She had her first virus that didn’t end up in a trip to emergency (she ran a fever for 36 hours but bounced back after a few days) and she’s been healthy for the last week. It feels like a precarious situation, but we’re trying to enjoy it for now.
Hospital Visit #5

Astrid is busy expanding her vocabulary. The biggest highlight is that she can say her name, or a lispy version of it. And she’s working on the names of other people in her life. She’s getting pretty good at using her words and actions to order us around (dragging us around the house, “bottle”, “book”, pat a chair to indicate we should sit there).

We had a lovely snowshoe to the Bowen Island Lookout on Cypress Mountain yesterday (photos).

Bowen Lookout Snowshoe
Bowen Lookout Snowshoe

Astrid is loving her trains and lego.

Trains
Lego

She’s a big help around the house.

Repair Work
Cleaning

Fresh air is good for the lungs.

Playing in the Park

More photos

Astrid: Asthma Baby

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BC Children's Hospital Emergency

January was a rough month. Astrid got the flu, had a high fever twice, saw numerous doctors, got a black eye when she fell in the tub, and spent far too much time at the hospital.

We ended up in the emergency room at BC Children’s again on January 10th. It was our second visit for Astrid’s wheezing. The good news was that she responded really well to the puffers and we learned a lot from the doctors. The bad news was that she officially has asthma. We were out of the hospital in 5 hours with a referral to see a paediatrician who specializes in asthma.

Hospital Monitor

A week later, the doctor reassured us that most young children with asthma grow out of it. She prescribed a new puffer, a¬†corticosteroid called Alvesco, that’s supposed to reduce the inflammation in her lungs and prevent future trips to the hospital. And we were told to come back in April when cold season is over. Unfortunately we ended up back at emergency on January 26th. This time we stayed overnight. We’re pretty used to the drill by now (The Asthma Protocol); the nurses just hook her up the monitor, hand us the puffers, and leave. Hopefully the Alvesco just didn’t have long enough to kick in (it’s supposed to be slow-acting). As good as the treatment is at BC Children’s Hospital, we don’t want to be back anytime soon.

Baba Story Time
In between hospital visits we had two great weekends with Baba. She and Astrid had a lot of fun together. You can read her blog post about the visit and her time in Kamloops.

Hike with Grandmas
While Baba was here we thought it would be nice to go for a snowshoe in the mountains. We planned to do Bowen Island Lookout Trail on Cypress Mountain. On the drive up we kept on waiting for the rain to turn into snow. But all we got at the top was a frigid wet sleet coming down at a diagonal. Not the best conditions for a frolic in the woods with a toddler and two grandmas. Luckily it was dry and periodically sunny at Lighthouse Park so we still got a little hike and picnic lunch.

Reading on her own

Astrid continues to learn new skills, expand her communication, and charm the pants off everyone she meets. She knows her body parts (toes, head, nose, ears) and a couple of animal sounds. She’s really into putting things where they belong – helping us put away our shoes, cleaning up blocks, disposing of trash in the garbage can. One of her favourite games is to see how many of her sweaters and jackets she can wear at once. She just keeps on bringing you new layers to put on her. Once she can’t move anymore she starts bringing your jackets.

More pictures

Astrid: First 20 Words

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Using chopsticks is an advanced milestone
Our doctor asked if Astrid could say 20 words. Apparently it’s a developmental milestone for 18-month olds. She hit that mark when she learned ‘purple‘ the other day. Here are her first 20 words, roughly in order.

  1. Mama
  2. No
  3. Yeah
  4. Dada
  5. Hi
  6. Uh-oh
  7. More
  8. Please
  9. Bye
  10. Up
  11. Down
  12. (Ba)nana
  13. Apple
  14. Toes
  15. Shoes
  16. Baba
  17. Night
  18. Row
  19. Mine
  20. Purple

She also knows how to sign “Thank You”¬†(but can’t quite pronounce it) and points at her mouth when she’s hungry. In the past few weeks she’s been more interested in repeating words we say to her, which is how she learned ‘purple’, when Baba was reading to her.

Mexican Misadventure

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Sunglasses

Our Mexican misadventure is over and we’re happy to be home. We had beautiful weather, great food, sandy beaches, and spectacular cenotes to explore but it was hard to relax with all the health problems that plagued our trip.

Been Waiting Forever

Our trip got off to a rough start when Emily, Astrid, and I missed our flight to Cancun because Astrid was in the hospital with breathing problems. Luckily she got better and we were able to fly down to join the grandparents a few days later. We contemplated just staying home but we promised our house to guests from Hamilton, and Mairy and Martha were waiting for us in Mexico. When we did arrive, it was great spending time on the beach and relaxing. Astrid had a blast lounging under palm trees and exploring the suite we were staying in.

Cuban Medical Clinic

Two days into our vacation, Astrid took a misstep in a playground and hurt her right leg. It’s the same one she hurt before and we thought she would be back up and running within a day. But two days later she still wouldn’t put any weight on it, so we sought out a doctor and found one at the¬†Centro Medico Cubano (yes, there’s a Cuban medical clinic in Puerto Morelos, Mexico). It cost us 60 pesos ($4) to see a doctor who took a look at Astrid. She didn’t speak any English, but with our limited Spanish and Google Translate we found out her foot was fine but the problem was her hip. The doctor thought it was inflammation caused by Synovitis and told us to give Astrid ibuprofen for 7 days and ensure she didn’t do any walking.

(We saw a pediatrician in Vancouver who thought Astrid’s hip injury was caused by a skeletal muscle injury of some kind and not Synovitis, but he said the treatment would have been the same. And because she was walking within 2 weeks, it likely wasn’t a bone fracture.)

Hammock Nap

Astrid’s hip slowly got better over the last week of our trip, but we still had to deal with some sleepless nights, trouble with naps, and a frustrated toddler who wanted to explore but had to be carried everywhere. To top it off, Emily picked up traveller’s diarrhea on our 2nd last day, ran a high fever of 41 C for 12 hours until she took ibuprofen, and spent the last 48 hours of our trip in bed. Luckily the pharmacy next door to our hotel had the right medication to fix her up before our flight home.

Needless to say, we were all happy to arrive safely home in Vancouver at midnight of New Year’s Eve. We crashed in our beds at 2 am and all of us had a good sleep, even Astrid in her crib.

Group Photo

The trip wasn’t a complete disaster. Astrid had plenty of new experiences, enjoyed eating Mexican food for 2 weeks, and spent lots of time with Grandma and Grammy. We got to go snorkelling, enjoy the warm weather (and avoid the snow in Vancouver), explore Mayan ruins, and swim in beautiful cenotes.

Cabinet Fun

We spent the first week in a 2-bedroom suite in Puerto Morelos, right next to the beach. We had a kitchen where we could make smoothies every morning and cook dinner when we didn’t feel like going out. There were also a few vegan and vegetarian restaurants in town. We really enjoyed Puerto Morelos and would highly recommend it for visitors to the Cancun area. It wasn’t too busy, the beach was a fine powder, and there is great snorkeling right off the coast. The barrier reef is still in good condition, but you can see some bleaching from climate change and pollution, and there is an unsettling amount of plastic washing up on the beach everyday.

Valladolid

The second week took us to Valladolid where we stayed in a vegan bed and breakfast. The town had a sense of colonial history but also everyday Yucatan life. Our highlights were hanging out in the town square, eating at a food court where the eateries competed for your business, and checking out Casa de los Venados. Our b&b was a lush sanctuary in the heart of the city with six dogs to entertain us so we didn’t mind being held up there a few days while Emily slept.

More Guacamole
Astrid would have been happy eating guacamole, bananas, and beans for every meal.

Coba Climb
Archaeologists
We enjoyed exploring the ruins at Ek Balam and Coba. We didn’t make it to Chichen Itza because of Emily’s stomach bug.

Cenote Swim
The cenotes (subterranean pools) were magical. The water was so fresh and clear and a perfect temperature for swimming.

Sunrise
Astrid enjoying the beach sunrise in Puerto Morelos.

Happy Hiker
I was obsessed with getting a photo of Astrid with the Christmas ornament that contains her photo from Christmas last year. This photo will go in a new ornament which will be featured in next year’s photo. It’s so meta.

Cool Dudes
We’re never too sick to be silly.

More pictures.

Astrid: Wheezy

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After the first round of drugs

It’s been a crazy past few days. We were supposed to fly to Cancun Sunday morning, but a trip to Emergency ward at BC Children’s Hospital changed those plans.

It all started with a cold in late November that turned into a little cough. We didn’t think much of it until Wednesday last week when she started having fevers at night and coughing a lot.

We saw our GP on Friday and he said it was Croup and prescribed dexamethasone. He said it should get better within 4 hours.

That night there was no improvement, so I took her to a nearby walk-in clinic Saturday morning. The doc immediately sent us to Emergency at BC Children’s Hospital. It was a stressful bike ride hauling ass up the hill to BC Children’s with a sick child in the trailer.

We had underestimated how serious Astrid’s condition was. She was definitely wheezy, but she was in a good mood and playful – how bad could it be? When we arrived at BC Children’s, we were placed at the top of the triage list and got to see the next doctor, which should have been an indication how serious it was. And yet, I still clung to this hope that we would be discharged soon and be able to catch our flight to Mexico the next day.

Astrid’s lungs were really constrained and she was having trouble breathing. They pumped her full of steroids (Atrovent to start and Ventolin every hour after) and immediately you could see the difference. She hated using the puffer mask, but it was making it easier for her to breath. In the first few hours at the hospital, her heart rate was between 130-200 bpm. Her body was working really hard to pump the limited oxygen around. After a few hours of treatment it was between 85 and 150.

At 4:30 pm Astrid was moved out of Emergency into the Critical Decision Unit (CDU) for monitoring. Emily stayed with her, while I went home to finish packing. At 9:00 pm, they did a chest x-ray to see if she had pneumonia but the only thing they found was a small section of collapsed lung (which is apparently common when you have trouble breathing for so long). They almost released us at 11:00 pm. Astrid had gone four hours between Ventolin puffs without much problems, except when she was sleeping her SpO2 (oxygen concentration in the blood) would periodically drop below 90% causing alarm bells to go off. It went as low as 87% and the doctor said she had to stay the night, sleeping with the help of extra oxygen tubes in her nose.

After nearly 24 hours of excellent treatment (I really can’t say enough good things about the nurses and doctors at BC Children’s), Astrid was discharged at 7:35 am. The final diagnosis was Reactive Airways Disease (a vague and unhelpful catchall for all breathing problems). We had to do more Ventolin at home every 4 hours for the next 3 days and monitor her condition.

We missed our flight to Cancun, but we’re just happy Astrid is feeling better. We were all packed and ready to head straight from the hospital to the airport, but the doctors told us to take a few days to rest and see how Astrid is doing. The grandparents flew to Mexico without us and hopefully we will join them in a few days.

I feel horrible for not doing something sooner. It’s tough because we had been at the hospital a few weeks earlier for something that turned out to be nothing. We didn’t want to be the overreacting first-time parents yet again. And Astrid was in such a good mood even when she was sick, it was hard to think she was in need of emergency attention. Now we know to look for trouble breathing and wheezing.

Getting Better

Astrid: Resilient

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Creekside daycare
Astrid is now in her 3rd daycare in less than a year. She’s now spending her days at the Creekside Child Development Centre. It’s our dream daycare, so hopefully she’ll be there until she starts school in 4 years. It’s a fabulously run group daycare (think Club Med for little kids) conveniently located across the street from where we live. Like most well run daycares in Vancouver, they have a really long waiting list. We added Astrid to the list before she was even born. Since most new spots go to siblings of existing kids,¬†we’re lucky we got in.
Creekside daycare

It’s an awesome facility and the teachers are excellent. It’s well structured but also flexible to the kids’ needs. They have a schedule that includes walks outside, circle time, meals and snacks. They are much more rigid about food and regulations than our previous daycares – we’ve gotten lots of feedback on the food we pack for Astrid – grapes have to be quartered, not just halved, no dried fruit, and sunbutter sandwiches must be clearly labelled so there’s no worry about nuts. The check-in procedure every morning includes hand washing, shoe changing, sign-in sheets, and food and diapers placed into very clearly labelled bins. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that they have no problem using cloth diapers and feeding Astrid the vegan food we provide.

For the first two weeks there were tears during drop-off and pick-up, but otherwise she transitioned very smoothly with no problems napping, eating, or playing with the other kids.

2 Person Crib

New daycare means new germs. Astrid has been sick with colds for the past 2 weeks. Her cold has moved to her chest and she often has a rasping cough at night that sometimes keeps her up. Luckily no fever. We’ve been treating her cold with steamy baths, a humidifier while she sleeps, warm water with honey, and herbal cough medicine before bed. Hopefully she gets better soon because we’re flying to Mexico in 2 weeks.

BC Children's Hospital Emergency

A few weeks ago, Astrid ended up in the hospital. She was playing at the dining room table and dancing on a chair like she often does. They’re heavy chairs, but she managed to rock it far enough that it tipped over. She was crying for a while and couldn’t put any weight on her right foot. After talking to the nurses hotline, we took her to the children’s¬†hospital. By the time we went through triage, Astrid was already in a better mood and was limping around the¬†waiting area and¬†exploring. When a nurse came by to check her out, she said her foot seemed fine and they wouldn’t do an x-ray but we could wait¬†another 2-3 hours if we wanted to see a doctor. We figured sleep would be more helpful, so we went home. She had a slight limp that lasted for a week and¬†we ended up taking her to our family doctor, but he quickly dismissed us letting us know that if anything was wrong she wouldn’t be putting any weight on the foot. Classic first child over-reaction on our part.

Dosa Factory

Last Saturday, I was curious if Astrid was getting enough nutrients. She’s always been slightly above average for weight and height and she’s never shown any sign of a nutritional deficiency, but I thought it would be interesting to track all of the food she ate and compare it to the recommended diet. If I was more concerned, I would have tracked it for a full week and averaged it, but tracking a single day was enough work. In one day there were 24 foods to track and calculate nutritional information for. Here’s a summary of my big spreadsheet:

Recommended Actual (Nov 25)
Calories 1000-1300 1375
Fat 35-40% of calories 41% (66 g)
Carbohydrates 50-55% of calories 48% (157 g)
Protein 10-15% of calories 11% (44 g)
Vitamin A 400 mg 700 mg
Vitamin C 60 mg 175 mg
Calcium 500 mg 315 mg
Iron 5.5 mg 5.5 mg

The calcium value was little low, but otherwise her diet was pretty good, and completely vegan. What she eats varies from day to day, but she consistently has breast milk twice a day and 250 ml of smoothie. The smoothie is perfect for cramming in nutrients. I like to add kale, Vega One protein powder, omega oils, and hemp seeds to ensure she’s getting lots of healthy fat, protein, and vitamins. Peanut butter and sunbutter are the other nutrient dense foods she often eats.

Astrid has now learned the concept of ownership and has become very forceful about enforcing it. In the morning, she loves to bring Emily and I our shoes, jackets, and cellphones. It’s cute and almost helpful. But she gets very upset if anyone other than the owner tries to take something. I think this is the start of her “that’s mine” phase.

More pictures.