Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Hiking with a baby

Winter is here!! More so in places like Alberta and Saskatchewan but you can find snow up on the North Shore and Whistler Mountain has opened up early for skiing and snowboarding. I thought I would do a quick post on winter hiking with a baby. Last year we took Etta on this hike. It was a sunny day in Vancouver and not too cold. We headed to the mountains with our gear and found snow to our surprise. It was very cold.

 Luckily we had enough clothing for Etta. I remember talking with a friend and saying how I was worried that I would not make sure I had everything for Etta on trips. My friend responded saying that you will most likely forget the clothing for yourself instead. This is what happened on this hiking trip. I was wearing light leggings and a thin jacket. To top it off I was freezing and grumpy because I thought we were doing a nice fall hike NOT in the snow. We almost left because I was such a grump. Luckily.....

Cam gave me his shorts to cover from the wind and he just wore his long johns. I also wore Etta to hold her heat in. We started on the hike as I huffed carrying Etta. I then realize I was doing what so many people do as soon as it gets cold and turned into a grinch. After a few minutes to myself I sucked up my Grinchy Spirit and looked around. It was a beautiful winter wonderland. It was time to enjoy the surroundings in my over sized shorts and jacket.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Breastfeeding while hiking

I realized I have not posted in a while and thought I would do a brief post on hiking and breastfeeding. 

One of the main advantages is that if the baby is not on solids yet you just bring your boob! So convenient. A disadvantage can be the weather. I remember breastfeeding Etta while snowshoeing with some friends and I felt like my nipple was going to become cryogenically frozen. Besides keeping the boob young it is very uncomfortable. 

On a softer note I never thought that I would be someone who would EVER post a picture of myself breastfeeding. However I came across this picture and in a funny way wanted to share a moment between a mother and daughter. Maybe its because I am considering weaning my daughter off the breast or maybe it is because I am pregnant and thinking about the new baby. Whatever the reason Etta and I were able to enjoy connecting with nature all during a lunchtime break. It felt very natural and very special.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hiking with a baby part 3: Lower Falls Trail (Golden Ears Provincial Park)

A great 2.7 km hike/walk along a wide gravel trail. The Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park is located right near Maple Ridge. We did this trail when we were camping with my parents in Golden Ears.

 A few bonuses are that :
- A toddler could complete this trail or at least walk part of the way.
- Stroller friendly which means you could use it as a trail run with baby!

 Another great feature about this hike is that there is river access about halfway where you can skip rocks. We stopped for lunch and a breastfeeding session. We saw tons of kids throwing rock after rock in the river.
 Talk about Nature's Playgym!

3 generations on the trail!

Enjoying the outdoors!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Car Camping: packing list for baby

I was just thinking about how nice it would be to have a baby car camping packing list. This list can also be slightly adjust for short trips away from home. Since it is car camping it has less items than a luxurious trip but more items than a backpacking trip.

Here are things that I bring camping for Etta. This packing list is for 3-5 days. The only difference between going for 3 days vs 5 days would be the number of diapers I would bring which of course is more for 5 days. Lets also say the weather does not dip below 10 degrees even at night! You could use this list for any trips away from home but might want to adjust the number of cute outfits.

Most people might think that to go camping with a baby you need an SUV. In one camping trip we packed all our gear for 3 adults, Cam, myself and our good friend Ravi as well as Etta and all her gear in our Toyota Matrix which is a hatchback. We have a roof rack and a box to carry extra things. If we choose to bring our Coogar Chariot running stroller we attach it to our roof rack.

Roof Rack with our chariot and box on top!

- 4 short sleeved onesies
- 3 long sleeved onesies
- 3 sleepers
- 3 pairs socks (Can be used for toes and hands!)
- 3 sweat/stretchy pants (Two to play in and one to go over clothes at night if its cold)
- 3 t-shirts
- 3 long sleeved shirts (Two to play in and one to go over clothes at night if its cold)
- 2 cute outfits (obviously not a necessity but they are so small and easy to pack anyways!)
- 2 bunny hugs AKA hoodies (I am a Saskatchewanian)
- 1 fleece outfit (make sure it folds over hands and feet to keep warm especially when sleeping)
- 1 muddy buddy (to protect against rainy weather for older babies)
- 1 carrier cover (protect against the cold, rain and snow) for younger babies
- Toque (in case it gets colder)
- a pair of slippers (We love the Padraig booties for warmth or leather shoes)
- Shoes (If she is walking have one pair that she can walk around if its wet outside)
Etta in her newborn Columbia fleece outfit. 

Etta in her warm MEC fleece outfit, toque and Padraig booties

- Sleeping bed (See "8 Unique Travel Beds" post for ideas!!)
- sleep sac
- Comfort blanket
- Optional: We pack 3 extra blankets to cover our sleeping bed (see below). That way we get to sleep a little longer in the morning because it blocks the light out.
- Husk her Husky dog she sleeps and plays with ALL the time!!

We are currently using the 'Nomad' tent seen here in our big 'Glamping' tent for Etta to sleep. 

Poos, Pees and everything diaper related
- 9-10 diapers a day (If they are a newborn I would go for 13 diapers a day)
- Zinc (For potential bum rashes. Etta would always develop a bum rash camping)
- Vaseline
- Wipes
- Two bags that hold dirty cloths from baby blow outs! You can buy some at baby stores that keep the smell within the bag.
- 3 garbage bags (Especially handy if garbage is not nearby)

If your baby has not started solids and you are breastfeeding than you have nothing to worry about as long as you go on the trip as well! This made camping when Etta was 4 weeks old really easy. If you are formula feeding make sure to bring enough plus a little extra for the trip. I know formula does not keep for too long especially without a fridge so factor that in when camping. Make sure to bring a few bottles because sterilizing while camping will take a little longer than usual.

If your baby has started solids here are a few ideas!

Breakfast ideas: ToastSteel oats (precooked), Instant Oatmeal or Baby Cereal with pear
(To be really easy one time I just used a baby cereal cookie. This was also great when traveling in the car to go camping.)
Snack ideas: Leftover pear from breakfast,  banana, blueberries, cookie,
Lunch: avocado, strawberries, leftover rice, falafel balls (I like the ones from Costco)
Dinner: Kabobs over the grill, soups, lentils and rice with added water, sweet potatoes or carrots boiled , or packaged baby food. I really like the brands 'Ella's Kitchen' and most recently on Dragon's Den 'Love Child'. Really any food packages that you squeeze out are really easy to use and at least nice to have a few on hand.

Utensils etc
2 spoons
1 fork
2x Sippy cup
2x bibs
No spill snack container
Two containers with lids 
Lunch kit

Luxury Item
Portable highchair. We never brought one along because we do not own one. I have always thought that it would be great to feed Etta in a highchair and also have another place to put her while car camping.

Medication/First Aid:
- Tylenol
- Camillia (Boiron Natural Teething product is what I prefer)
- Coxyntal (Boiron natural tummy soothing product)
- Benedryl (Just in case you have an allergic reaction and you need time to get to a hospital)
- Thermometer

- Husk her husky stuffed animal
- 2-3 bedtime books
That is all. I find Etta loves playing with all the sticks and stones that we do not need to bring much else.
Etta with her little Husky Dog!

Activity gear
- carrier for hiking 
 We like the an actual hiking backpack carrier for bigger hikes and as Etta has gotten older. We like the Ergo carrier for shorter hikes and when she was younger.

Any other ideas?
 Do you have food suggestions for camping or other suggestions for sleeping? I would love to hear any tips that you have come across!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hiking with Children Part 2: The Chief

Is there anything that you could do before you were pregnant that you are unable to do because of exhaustion after your baby was born? Well I was not able to do the same amount of activity while I was pregnant and then it took me about a year to gain my fitness back. Hiking the Chief was one of those milestones on my way to regaining my fitness. 

A view of the Chief from Squamish.
A short but somewhat grueling hike that Cam and I used to love to do before we had Etta was the Stawamus Chief in Squamish. Squamish is one of our favourite places because it is close to both Vancouver and Whistler with tons outdoor activities right out your backdoor. Not to mention that it is both in the mountains and on the ocean. The view of the Howe Sound on top of The Chief is breathtaking and as soon as I felt that I was in shape enough after giving birth to Etta we decided to tackle the Chief with Etta. 

*There are three peaks on The Chief. Without Etta we tackled all three peaks in roughly the same time we tackled one of the peaks with Etta.

The thing with The Chief is that the first peak is only 1.5 km hike but it has an incline of 540 metres over those 1.5 km (i.e. it is steep!).
Gearing up to climb up a bunch of stairs at the start of the hike. 

You climb up ladders and use chains to get you up steep portions. By the time I was finished the hike I was more out of breath and a little light headed. I had never experienced this from hiking the Chief before. It just goes to show how tough it can be to get back into hiking shape after having a kid.

The ladder. Etta is strapped to Cam on the front.

Getting ready to climb the chain
The Chain
As Cam was taking Etta up and down the chain and the ladder I said to him "are you ok? do you need help?" He said he was "Fine" but was just trying to keep me from stressing out. Once we finished decending all the chains he said to me "That was a little stressful".

The views at the top!
What I love about trails in Squamish is that you pass so many people with kids. A couple with a 10 year old and a 7 year old passed us and said 'I remember doing this hike when these guys were that little." It is just so normal to bring kids into the outdoors in Squamish! I love it!!!

I was proud of myself for completing this hike. It was the most I had exerted myself since Etta was born. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Back country hiking with a Baby: A bad game of 'Oregon Trail'

Cam and I are really into hiking and being in the outdoors so naturally wewanted to take our little Etta on a backpacking trip before I started working full time. I guess you could say it was the last big hurrah of my maternity leave. While the first two days were manageable the trip ended up taking a turn for the worse and ended like a bad game of 'Oregon Trail' (a classic video game for everyone else who grew up in the 90's) by the second night of our two night trip. Read on for a real life version of 'Oregon Trail'.

** I am going preface this post by saying this: The hike we went on has many hikers on it each day. At our back country campground there were about 70 other campers including some parks officials. If at anytime we could not make it out of the campsite we had ample ways to get help if needed. A post in the future on the do's and don'ts of backcountry camping with a baby to come!**

At the start of every game of 'Oregon Trail' you always put the names of the people on your trip. For the sake of leaving our friends anonymous I will make up names for them. In our party there was Cam, Annika (me) and our daughter Etta. Eve, Dan and their two kids Derick and Arthur and then Mike, Art and Jack.

Cam and I decided to go on a road trip with our baby girl Etta. We all hop into our 'Wagon'  and drive to Garibaldi Lakes parking lot. There we hit our first roadblock. 'Backcountry site closed'. We have two options. Hike to Cheakamus Lake Campground which is about 3 km or do a similar hike as the one we planned called Helm Lake that is about a 9 km hike.
On our way to start the hiking adventure. 

Etta patiently waiting our arrival. She decides to have an hour snooze as part of the 2 and half hour drive to
the trail head.
 We chose the Helm Lake trail. Off we go on our 9 km hike with 900 metres elevation adventure. Just like any Oregon trail game you always have such high hopes of your family reaching the finish line unscathed.
Hiking with a sippy cup in hand!
We chose to traverse the rivers by crossing over bridges instead of swimming or forging. The bridges got us safely across.

We took snacks, lunch breaks, breastfeeding breaks and change your babies bum breaks along the way.
Now that's a pretty epic change table! Black Tusk is in the background.

There was no need for buffalo hunting, as all of our food was packed in our bags. Climbing some of the switchbacks makes us all tired by the end of the first day but we finally arrive at our destination. The total hike took us about 5 hours to complete, including all the stops. We set up our tents near a creek so that we would have easy access to water that we could purify and it was not too far from the bear cache either.

Along the way Etta played on the trails. 
That night I did not sleep very well at all and this was the first sign of potential disaster on our trip. Etta was up during the night crying and I later realized that it was likely because she was teething. She also is a very rambunctious sleeper. In other words she likes to crawl, walk, roll and anything in between while she sleeps. For a few minutes I moved out of her way and she spent a good chunk moving around the tent while she slept. All I could think of was "hmmm you expect me to sit curled up in this corner all night?" Most of the night I had to breastfeed Etta to keep her calm and sleeping. 
Cam and Etta setting up the tent.

The next day I was exhausted from lack of sleep. I told Cam that we should consider packing up and heading down the mountain. It did not take much to convince me to stay the night. We had a better plan for sleeping the second night and agreed that because we carried our heavy packs and Etta up we might as well enjoy another day in the wilderness.

The second day we had high hopes of making it up the Black Tusk (The dried up volcanic mountain in the background of the picture below). This would have been around a 11 km round trip excursion back to our campsite. This hope soon died as we realized it was just not realistic with lil Etta in tow and the fact that I was tired from not sleeping the night before. We ended up hiking up closer to Black Tusk and letting Etta do a little hiking of her own.

Etta doing a little hiking!

Black Tusk

The second night was disastrous and is where we were all really reminded of 'Oregon Trail.'

Cam gets 'dysentery'...... 

In other words Cam is outside the tent vomiting from about 12 am -7 am. I sleep through most of it knowing that Cam is ill, but I also  know that I need to get the best possible sleep for tomorrow so that I can help pack our stuff and get us down the mountain. I get a decent sleep only to find that after having packed up most of our stuff.....

Annika gets 'dysentery'...... 

I walk past Eve and ask her how she is doing and ...

Eve gets 'Cholera'.....

The rest of the crew seems to be doing okay. Since Cam and I are ready to go we leave the crew with Etta, the best thing for us is just to get down the mountain as quickly as we can. Without being able to eat or drink any water, we build up all our strength and leave the campsite. Within a few steps 'BOOM' I vomit everywhere. This continues multiple times for the first 4 km. During this time Cam, who is still sick, ends up carrying both Etta and our big heavy pack. (Now remember both of these packs are carrying our clothes, diapers, 2x sleeping bags, 3x mats, pots and pans. Thankfully one of our friends who was camping with us carried our tent down knowing that we were both so sick.)
After Cam has carried both packs for a good 4 km I try carrying Etta again and 'BOOM' I continue to vomit. My body was under too much stress for how sick I was and the lack of nourishment was making my muscles cramp. 

Etta in her hiking pack.
That's when I turned to Cam and said 'I cannot carry Etta down the mountain. You need to take Etta down, we need to carry the essentials (first aid kit, water, food, medications etc) and leave our pack behind." I knew that between the two of us we could get ourselves and Etta down the mountain. This was a humbling experience for both of us as we decided to leave our pack with over $1000 worth of equipment. We knew that this decision was the safest for our family and that we just needed to get down the mountain.

Once at the bottom of the mountain I was relieved to finally be able to rest. All I could think of was lying in the fetal position next to a toilet. Cam decided that he wanted to head back up and get our bag. I told him that if he wanted to get the bag I would need to go somewhere where Etta could be safe and I could lie down without having to worry about her walking off a cliff. We decided that we would stay in a hotel that night and I would go there with Etta while he went back for the bag. Once at the hotel I turned on the tv to the nearest kids channel and laid on the couch watching Etta play with my keys. It was as if she knew that I needed a rest.

After making sure that Etta and I would be fine Cam headed back up the mountain. Luckily our friends brought the bag down most of the way so that Cam only had about 2 km to hike in to pick it up. He arrived about 2 hours later at the hotel. Safe and sound on the couch waiting for Etta's bedtime so that we can rest some more.

About a day later....

Art gets Cholera....

Some of the beautiful mountain views. 

On our way up! The view of Black Tusk in the background.

There you have our first backpacking trip with a baby. 'Oregan trail' at its worst. Thank goodness we got down the mountain!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Famous Pants Hat

In a pinch.... don't worry an inch... if you forgot your babies hat.... I've got a solution for that!

Jokes aside have you ever felt really accomplished when you have finally arrived at your destination only to realize that you have forgotten something that you deem really important? Well I have done that ALOT even though I try to get everything organized before I head out the door. Today I am featuring the forgotten item 'The Hat'. When I was in Copenhagen I was feeling trapped in our house. It was a beautiful day and Etta was crying from being cooped up. I knew that if I could make it out the door then we could have a pleasant rest of the day. Finally I get outside and set up the blanket for Etta and I to play in the park. With little shade around I went to grab her hat only to find that I forgot her hat. That is when the 'pants hat' came into fruition.

Here is the pants hat. You take a pair of pants and put it around your child's head. Then you take the two feet and can either leave them in the floppy position or tie them up to create a cute bow. You can choose whether or not to cover up the ears if you are worried they will get burned. 

There you have it! The 'pants hat'!!!

The Pants Hat in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is the Bohemian Style.

The Bohemian Pants Hat. Side view. 

The Mr. Snuffleupagus style of the Pants Hat. The style was recently used while blueberry picking.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hiking with Children Part 1: Quarry Rock Hike

Quarry Rock in Deep Cove Vancouver is the perfect hike for people who do not do much hiking, parents with new babies and for young children to do on their own. We know of a 3 year old who did the hike just last year! Even better is that at the end of your hike you can get homemade delicious doughnuts at Honeys Doughnuts right in Deep Cove.

Since Etta has been born we have done the hike a few times. The first time the 1-2 hour hike turned into a full day affair. As Etta has gotten older hiking has become more efficient and easy going. In fact recently we went with Etta and completed the hike similar to how we would have before she was born. I attribute it to experience and the fact that she does not need to nurse as often and for as long.

Here is a contrast of what hiking was like before we had Etta vs. what hiking for the first time with a 6 weeks old looks like. Read on for a good laugh.

Getting Ready for Hiking
Before Etta:
Getting ready for the hike before Etta took roughly 20 minutes. Wake up, change, brush teeth, put on runners, pack some snacks, pack water and off we went! We left at about 10 am because we of course would sleep in till 940 am.

With Etta as a newborn:
Since sleeping in is no longer an option we had planned to leave shortly after Etta woke up around 7:30 am. Our goal was 8:30 am. At 10 am we finally were out the door after breastfeeding Etta (which when she was first born took a good 30-45 minutes), changing Etta, taking turns eating breakfast, packing food and water, changing Etta, putting on sneakers, breastfeeding Etta again (I was having to breastfeed her every 2-3 hours), keep breastfeeding Etta as it took 30-45 minutes. Finally another needed diaper change and we were off!
.......Then we turn back around because we forgot some much needed diapers and our 8:30 departure turned into a 10:00 am departure. Off we go again!!!

Already beginning to fall asleep to the sounds of nature.

Start the Hike
Deep Cove is a beautiful area. The hike starts between two peoples houses as you ascend stairs into the rain forest. The amazing thing as well about this hike is that if you have forgotten anything you can literally buy it ~200 metres from the trail head.

Before Etta
This would take roughly 5 minutes unless we needed to use the bathroom. We would put on our packs, take a sip of water and off we would go!

With Etta as a newborn
This ended up taking us 1 1/2 hours!!!! We did not start the hike until 1pm!!
Two things delayed us:
1. An explosion
- By the time we got to Deep Cove was 10:30 am.This is what happened: Cam went to go get a snack at a nearby shop. As I pulled Etta out of the car seat my worst fears came to be. Poop everywhere!!! All over the car seat and her clothes. Etta is crying as I am trying to hold her away from me while trying to wipe her down. She at least has a change of clothes and I do not! After a good 30 minutes of damage control and poopy clothes and diapers sprawled on the parking lot pavement. Cam finally returns with snacks with a big smile. Somehow he managed to avoid the whole disaster.
2. Breastfeeding
- Nobody told me that a newborn baby would need to eat so often and that it would take such a long time. Another 45 minutes past as I am sitting in the car breastfeeding Etta passing the time listening to some Van Morrison. I am continuously trying to keep her awake so that it does not turn into a sleep session as well so that we can get on with the hike.

The Hike
Quarry Rock is a really nice hike. The first 10 minutes are  steep and then it levels off going up and down, across bridges until you get to the look out, Quarry Rock. It is an easy short hike.

Before Etta
This took us roughly 11/2 to 2 hours depending on how long you want to hang out on the rock. If you choose to run the trail instead it is even shorter.
One of the few pictures we took when we did the hike before Etta.

With Etta as a newborn
This surprisingly also took us 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When we got to the view point we took a few quick photos and off we headed down. I did not want to stop and breastfeed Etta in the brisk air for 30 to 45 minutes, then have to change her and then head down. Since she was still asleep we decided to book it down back to the car.
Made it to the top! Etta was a champ and I had never been so exhausted.
Post Hike

Before Etta
Normally we would head out for a nice cold brew and nachos after the hike usually with friends who also did the hike with us.

With Etta as a newborn
By the time we finished the hike it was 3 pm. We got lunch at Honey's Doughnuts while I breastfed Etta. I had never been so exhausted after an easy hike. Hiking along with breastfeeding took it out of me more than I could have ever thought. Etta and I both slept during the car ride home.
I will never tire of these views.

Recently we did the hike when Etta was 10 months old. The hike was very similar to when we used to hike before Etta was born!! It does get easier!!!

At the rock. Etta even got to walk around and do a little 'hiking' herself!
A total of 3 generations hiking together!

Etta loving the fresh air!