Thursday, May 29, 2014

Coping with sickness in Copenhagen

Have you ever been travelling and come down with a sickness? If you have been travelling more than 3 months, then usually you will come down with something. Just make sure that when you do, you do what's necessary to recover quickly.

The first time Cam went by himself to Nepal he came down with the stomach flu. He was too proud to immediately take the pills that he brought from Canada and spent about a week hugging the toilet before he finally started taking them (although you can't really hug a squat toilet, yikes!). After taking the pills he immediately started getting better. The moral of this story: Take the pills!! When we returned to Nepal two years later we both fell sick with similar stomach ailments and found ourselves better after 3 days because we took the pills immediately. Being sick abroad is not a pretty sight, especially if it is in the stomach.

Now it was our time to deal with stomach sickness.... abroad...... with a baby..... Read on: for tips? for coping mechanisms? to bask in our misery? I'm not really sure what this post is, but just thought it was a story worth telling.

Plan for obstacles
It was Saturday night and we had spent the day at Tivoli. Sunday we were planning to get all packed up, clean our place and leave on Monday morning. Doing all of that is tricky enough and we really should know by now that doing everything takes 3x as long with a baby in tow. I really don't know how we thought we could accomplish it all. Well, Saturday night our world came crashing down straight into the toilet with Cam surrounded by bathroom walls. I did not know then that we were NOT going to leave by Monday morning.

Multi-tasking Extraordinaire
The next day when Etta wakes up at 6:30 am Cam is in the fetal position glued to the bed. This is where my ability to multi-task came in. I was looking after Etta and Cam along with cleaning and packing our whole apartment up. For the first 4 hours, I still had hope that we would be able to leave the next day...
Giving Etta a little outdoor play time. Her pants ended up being her bandanna. 

Watching a nearby danish soccer game

Keep Baby Healthy
The last thing you want to add to the mess is a baby who is throwing up everywhere because they have no idea you want them to aim for the bucket or toilet. I kept Etta as far away from Cam as possible (which was really not that far as she is always most interested in things we try to keep her away from!). Maybe her shot against the rotavirus saved her as she has yet to get sick. (I hope!)

No Canadian Comforts
After Etta's first nap it took me about 2 hours to go to 4 different grocery stores trying to find Gatorade and Ginger ale that Cam swore he saw there the other day. This involved bus taking and lots and lots of walking. Did I find either of them?.... NO!!! The search was in vain and instead I came home with organic orange juice and some sort of Danish vitamin drink.

Don't get both spouses sick
I failed to keep myself healthy and by the evening when Cam was feeling a touch better it was my turn to make some long distance calls to Ralph on the old porcelain telephone (i.e. barf in Uncle Matt Mang slang).That is when we switched duties. Cam took care of Etta and I was in the fetal position on the bed.

Take advantage of the moments you feel good
Although Cam started to help out with Etta he was not completely better so it was a dance. Cam hugs the toilet and I look after Etta. I hug the toilet and Cam looks after Etta.
Cam looking after Etta. I was sleeping when this was taken. When I saw this photo I laughed. It's Cam's first EVER selfie!!! It is now documented for May 28th, 2014

Skype with Family Members
We have a regular Sunday night Skype chat with Mamma and Papa Mang. This was a huge relief. Etta was preoccupied with Gran and Gramps for the hour before her 6:30 pm bedtime.

Sleep when baby sleeps
Cam and I went to sleep as soon as Etta went to bed for the night. Luckily Cam felt mostly better the next day and looked after Etta while I got to rest in bed. We delayed our departure to Tuesday and are now settled in at the Elsass Centre for two nights before heading to Stockholm (blog post to come).

You will survive
Even though it seems that you won't survive, you do! It is quite amazing really because you actually do survive!! There were many times we were calling out to our mothers in Canada wishing that they were there to rub our backs, make us soup and help look after Etta. I had to settle with sending my mother an email whining about being sick to which she gave me loving motherly words of encouragement.
The best part is that Etta was amazing all day. She really looked after her parents. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tivoli: Pleasure Garden

In 1843, Copenhagen got their very own Tivoli which means pleasure garden and is the home of beautiful trees and flowers, an amusement park, live music, the Tivoli Boys Guard and much more. Tivoli grounds were popping up all over Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and instantly became very popular. It was an immediate and huge success when Copenhagen got their very own Tivoli. It is said that "Tivoli will never be completed" as it is every changing with new rides, buildings and entertainment. For more information click here.

I had the pleasure of going to Copenhagen`s Tivoli at night on their "Friday Rock" with my good friend Maria and during the day with Cam and Etta. Two different but fun experiences.

Tivoli at Night
I never thought I would have the opportunity in the near future, let alone only 9 months after Etta was born, to travel Europe with a good friend. But to my pleasant surprise, my friend Maria jumped at the chance to visit Europe and spent 10 days with us in Copenhagen. We had a LOT of fun together, but one of the highlights was definitely a night spent at Tivoli.

At night Tivoli is majestic. If you are here I highly suggest checking Tivoli out a night. There were lots of kids and babies still there at 9:30 pm when we arrived. I was very surprised and even thought "Why did we not bring Cam and Etta?" 

When Maria and I walked in it was a beautiful garden with lights hanging in the trees, among flowers and in ponds. It was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately because it was at night the pictures I took did not turn out that well.

Tivoli during the Day

I'm sure that all of our traveling has made me more easy going and helped to make taking Etta out feel a lot easier lately, but I am also sure that the amazing weather of late has also helped a lot. The lack of wind and the nice sunny days seem to leave me happier and more relaxed as I take care of her. I guess it`s just nice to not have to worry about chasing down wind-blown baby blankets or to see Etta looking up at me from her baby carrier with those deep blue eyes in shock and the wind soaring past her face. Well, there was no wind in Tivoli today, and needless to say, we all had an excellent day!  

Tivoli during the day, specifically a nice sunny day, has lots for the whole family. For children of all ages there are different fun free shows, a free playground, changing rooms, and of course lots of rides if you choose to get the pass for the rides. 

This is how our day went:

Since Etta was in her play time right when we arrived we headed straight to the playground. Right beside the playground is a place where they occasionally do short kids shows perfect for kids under the age of about 6. Etta was just the right age to enjoy the singing and laugh at Rasmus, the giant bear.

Etta and Cam hanging out. To the left is a really cool restaurant ship and to the right is a beautiful garden where we ended up feeding Etta all her meals. We also spent a good chunk walking through the gardens during Etta`s nap. During Etta`s nap we also went to the older part of Tivoli and got Churros with chocolate and ice cream. We would have taken a picture but we ate them too quickly.

A couple of other proud parent moments: It was the first day Etta pulled herself to a stand by herself. She also spent a good 30 minutes rolling in the grass and laughing at people who were passing by. Tivoli is great for a baby who is an extrovert.

Near the end of the day after Etta had her afternoon nap at Tivoli we were all smiles.
Sunny days honestly just do that to me. 
Getting ready to leave and we see the Tivoli`s Boys Guard again. They march through the gardens playing instruments a couple of times during the day. The Tivoli`s Boys Guard was founded in 1844, 170 years of tradition right there!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Experimenting with Copenhagen (part 1)

Prams outside coffee shops!

Everyday I see more babies outside in Copenhagen then I have ever seen anywhere else in my travels. I have also seen the same amount of men pushing strollers as I see women. The city is so accepting of babies everywhere that you never feel like bringing your baby out is an inconvenience to anyone.

Seeing as it is our last few weeks here we really wanted to enter into the true Danish cosmos of raising a child in Denmark. Cam and I decided that it was time we tried following the Danes and leave a stroller outside the coffee shop..... with Etta sleeping inside. Click here to find out a little bit more how about prams outside coffee shops in Denmark. If you want to read what happened when some Danes left their baby outside a restaurant in New York click here. Please read with an open mind. This is how it went:

"I think we should try leaving Etta outside while we go get our coffee. If we truly want to feel Danish we should do as the Danes do."  I said.

"Are you sure? I guess we could try it." Cam responded

We parked the pram right near a big window near the order area and went in through the front door. The whole time the pram was visible through a big window. Immediately when we get inside Cam says:

"Get me a chai latte. I might go check on her."

"She is alright. We can see her from the window. I'm going to go to the bathroom and you order while keeping an eye on the pram." I respond trying to act all cool.

"Yes you're right. I will stay in here and order." Cam says.

I return from the bathroom and say. "Everything still ok with Etta? Got my mocha and your chai?"

"She seems ok and I got the drinks. Where should we sit?"

"hmmm not sure. Maybe we should check on Etta and then figure it out?" I say.

"Why don't we just drink our drinks outside. We can do this a little longer another day." Cam responds.

That was the end of our experiment. Seems a little silly yes but I can see why the Danes do it. I think it is all apart of their Hygge and they really bring the Hygge into their parenting. A Dane would say, "why shouldn't a parent be able to enjoy a coffee in a nice cosy cafe while their baby naps outside in the fresh air anyways?"

How did I feel? The Canadian in me was worried as I was not used to this concept. However, it was very liberating knowing that your baby was sleeping safe and sound while you watched from inside drinking a cup of coffee. I would try it again with her parked in front of the window where I drink my drink with a baby monitor with me and in her carriage so I can hear her when she wakes up. Maybe we will try yet again another day.

Etta sleeping in the pram. Kaffe slaberas'en is the mom, dad and baby hang out coffee shop in Copenhagen. I always see at least 8 babies either sleeping in prams or hanging out inside this cafe. Kaffe Slaberas'en has delicious coffees and yummy danishes!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sun, Swim, Surf – Nature's Calm

Every day, I am reminded of my outdoor education class that I took at the University of Alberta. We discussed questions related to ‘where can you engage with nature?’, and ‘what is the importance of the human connection with nature?'  Cam and I often find ourselves discussing similar questions.  Cam often comments on the potential for nature to facilitate rehabilitation for people with neurological injuries. That conviction has sparked his volunteer involvement with groups like the Alberta Abilities Lodges Society and Interfit. I see the importance of connecting students with nature to enhance their learning and well being. The best example of education within a natural environment that I have seen to date is the Green School in Bali, Indonesia. 

In my outdoor education class we would debate the question ‘”Where do you need to go to connect with nature?” From that class I came to realize that the answer is that you can connect with nature anywhere, although in some places it can be a lot easier than in others. For example, there is usually some type of nature outside your window be it a tree or a bird. If you can find a way to connect with that tree in the front of your house on a regular basis you will find a greater amount of peace more often than if you rely solely on the few times you get out into the bush to connect with the natural environment. It is however, a lot easier to find that peace when surrounded by dozens of trees in the mountains, and that is why so many of us enjoy escaping to those peaceful surroundings.  

Why am I having this little discussion? Well, I am learning more and more each day that my daughter Etta is most at peace when she is outdoors. Be it outside our apartment in Copenhagen sitting in the grass or in Portugal watching the wave’s crash against the sand. Seeing the laughter and the joy in Etta when we spend days outside makes me want to pitch a tent and just live all of our days in the outdoors. Over the past week in Portugal we have spent the majority of all of our day outside. Etta has had numerous naps outside, eaten food outside, breastfed outside and played outside. Because of the heat we, of course, have to make sure she is lathered in sunscreen, wears a hat, her UV protected swim suit and spends roughly 75% of the time in the shade.

Here are some of the things we did in the great Portugal outdoors and how we prepared to do them:

Beach days

Everyday at the beach we made sure to have a good spot in the shade. We applied sunscreen every 1-2 hours and made sure she had a couple of sips of water every once in a while. We had a lot of gear to haul around but it was totally worth it.

For a successful beach day we brought along:
2x beach mats
beach umbrella
kids sunscreen
adult sunscreen
UV long sleeve swim suit
sun hat
swim diaper
8 x diapers
baby food
beach toys (pale, shovel, watering can, rake, sifter)
Etta's waterbottle
Our gear: towel, our swim suits, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water bottle, food
phew and that is all!!!

Etta loved the beach and the ocean. She was afraid of the water and would not touch the cold wet sand with her feet. She would spend the time gazing at the waves as they crashed against the sand. She also would laugh hysterically if one of us would jump in the water and go swimming.

Too beautiful not to put a picture up! Dona Ana beach!

Many little beaches hidden among the cliffs. Breathtaking!

We only went surfing one day. It was quite the ordeal to organize with a  baby but extremely worth it. If you are big into surfing and have a baby I highly suggest renting a car which is what we would do in the future. That way you can rent your board or take lessons on your own terms and timing. We ended up going surfing with The Surf Experience. They were willing to take us with our car seat and baby with them to Amado beach on the West Coast. They are the top recommended surf camp in Lagos and I highly recommend just going with them. We had some difficulty with other surf camps/schools in Lagos and trying to go surfing with a baby along.  
Family Surf Day. I got my board and my baby! 

Etta wanting to go surfing on her own.

Sometimes as parents I think that we feel that we no longer can do the things we used to enjoy doing. We might even feel bad if we choose to go ahead and do it for ourselves. In this instance it was truly amazing to have Etta with me at the beach when I got back on a surfboard for the first time since before being pregnant. Having Etta at the beach and enjoying a beautiful day while I got to do something I loved was such a good family bonding experience. Etta loved checking out the board and seeing us in the water. Unfortunately Etta cannot stand on her own yet to go surfing. Who knows maybe she will learn to surf before she walks!

We went hiking above the beaches along the cliffs. It was an easy hike but was very hot. We were glad we had our beach umbrella and that Etta was wearing her UV protected swim suit.
Family hike along the cliffs. It was breathtaking!
Etta and I walking along the paths.

Shading Etta from the hot sun. This really helped keep her in good spirits!

On our way down to ponta de piedade lagos. From there we took a fisherman's boat to see the different rock formations along the coast. It was amazing going through natural caves.