Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Travelling Mishaps: Swedish Ticks

What I am about to disclose is most definitely not one of my proud parenting moments. In fact, it is one that I wish never happened and that I could forget. Of our whole trip and all the different problems we encountered, this was the one that Cam and I wish we could go back in time and erase. However, as a parent you realize you cannot protect your child from all harm. When we were in Finnhamn, Sweden, the island a 3 hour ferry ride from Stockholm, Etta got a tick!!!

Read on if you have the stomach for it. I do not know much about ticks but have learnt a little bit about Swedish ticks from talking to a nurse in Stockholm

1. What is a tick? A tick is a gross bug that has pincers and bites into your skin. They feed off of you until you pull them off and they are almost impossible to kill. Click on ticks to see a picture of the Swedish ticks... IF YOU DARE!

2. How do you get a tick? They don't move fast or jump. How do they get on you then? Well they usually slowly crawl up you off of low bushes and long pieces of grass.

Where we stayed when the tick attacked my baby.
3. What is the harm? If having a bug feeding off you is not enough to make you squeamish and want to run the other direction, then you should know about two diseases that you can get from Ticks in Sweden. One is Lyme disease and the other is TBE (Tick Born Encephalitis). TBE is very uncommon in children under the age of 7 but most people over 7 and living in tick-infested areas get a vaccine against TBE. The potential consequences of both of these diseases are a bit scary, and definitely not anything that you would want your 10 month old daughter to experience.

The Incident:
Cam and I knew that there were ticks in the Stockholm area. We made a point of checking ourselves and most importantly Etta every morning and night. We checked all her cute little baby rolls and saw no ticks. On a Wednesday we saw a small black dot. Cam and I both looked at it and said "That's odd... She has a scab on her leg." I pulled at it a bit but then I thought that it was kind of weird to pull off your babies scab so I stopped.  We monitored the scab for 3 days. On the 3rd day it was considerably bigger. I said to Cam "That is weird that her scab is still bleeding." Cam decided to pull the scab off. He looked at Etta and said "Ok hunny, I am going to pull the scab off in 1, 2, 3!!!" That is when Cam yelled as he ran to the bathroom and got rid of the scab. He came back with a look of horror on his face. "That was no had was a tick"

Our worst nightmare in Stockholm came true. Not only did Etta get a tick on her, we let it feed off of her for 3 whole days! The day we discovered the tick also happened to be the day that we had  train booked to continue our journey towards Hamburg, Germany.

Problem Solving:
What do you do when you find a tick on your daughter the same morning that you are supposed to leave at 12:30 pm for another country? Well you take care of your daughter and you don't worry about the future events. In Stockholm the only place Canadian tourists can go for health care easily is the hospital. Off we went to the children's hospital in Stockholm at 8 am.
Surprisingly emergency took us in at 9am and we talked with a nurse that lives in the area where there are ticks. She remembered pulling hundreds of ticks off of her kids growing up after they would play outside in the bush. She told us that right now there was nothing we could do but wait for symptoms. The primary symptoms were a red ring around the bug bite which usually indicates Lyme disease and fever which indicates TBE. After some reassurance from the nurse that things would be okay, we were off back to the hotel we were staying and then on to the 12:30 pm train.

I am thankful that Etta's tick experience had no drastic outcomes and that my baby is still a healthy little girl. However, I am sorry for the number of scabs that I have pulled off Etta since then and the poor zebra spider that Cam discovered in Etta's room and quickly mutilated because he thought it was a tick.
Perhaps the ticks were lurking in this forest. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trailstoke: 60 km run vs camping with a baby

Back in February Cam looked at me one day and nonchalantly said, "Hey, there's a 60 km ultra-marathon in Revelstoke in July. Would it be okay if I sign up?" Without paying much attention I nodded my head. It hadn't crossed my mind that this would mean the next 4 months would be filled with hours and hours of Cam out training for the run, all on top of raising our daughter and, not to mention, our travels through Europe for the majority of the training months. A combination of using running as his transportation to and from work in Copenhagen, along with some very early mornings and late evenings, and finally a few big trail runs when we arrived back in Vancouver, and next thing we knew, his training was complete. All that was left was the big event and it all went down this past weekend. So here's what happened!

My first thought about the day of the race was that I was pretty darn happy to be at the camp with Etta instead of being the one out running for 60 km. It had mostly been an okay morning to that point, but a heavy downpour along with a baby that didn't want to nap (all she wants to do these days is practice walking by herself!) caused things to become a bit more trying. It is days like this, when it is just Etta and I, that I get a glimpse into single parenting and my respect grows exponentially for those that have the task of raising a child on their own.

For this blog post, I am going to compare my day at the camp site alone in the rain with an 11-month old  vs. running a 60 km trail race. You may come to realize that these two activities are not so different after all!

Click for more pictures and information : Trailstoke

Waking up 
Cam - He got up at 4:15 am in order to get a good breakfast before the 6:00 am race start. By 5:15 Cam, Ravi and another friend named Eric were off to the start line. The boys were all 'stoked' to get going!

Etta and I - Etta and I got up at 6 am. Etta was still exhausted so we cuddled and slept until 7 am. So far so good!

The start
Cam - The start of any race is exciting. Although I was not there I am sure the boys had a sort of nervous energy pulsing through them as they prepared for the race to begin. Soon after the race started, they needed to summon that energy as they began the initial 15 km/5000 ft climb to the first aid station half way up Mount Mackenzie. I'm sure about 45 minutes in their legs began to burn as they realized they still had another hour or two left to climb before continuing with the rest of the race.

Etta and I- The start of any day camping is exciting. There are ample opportunities to explore nature, play with twigs, eat s'mores and so much more! I immediately got Etta ready for the day as I was anxious to get out for free gondola rides and mountain exploring. 

The second quarter
Cam- Soon after aid station 1, reality began to set in. The climb was not even close to over and due to last minute course changes, there were a lot less flat portions to break up the ascent. Up and up the runners went. Sure enough, the boys were starting to question what they had got themselves into. 

Staying fueled and hydrated was becoming very important. Cam was sure to keep eating his Clif bars and shot blocks and drinking as much water as he could. Thank goodness he packed lots of food. As he approached the summit of the mountain the wind was howling and the fog set in, and he had to put on his jacket. He was traversing over snowbanks and loose rock with limited visibility. Once he reached the top, he decided to reward himself with a chocolate stinger waffle, well-deserved! 

Etta and I- after the initial excitement wore off I realized that it was pouring rain outside. The warm, humid air attacked me with exhaustion as I tried changing Etta in the tent. Then while carrying an umbrella I carted Etta along with all my toiletries, rain jacket, lunch box and good ol' Husk to the washroom where I felt I could organize our day a little better. The worst part was that all I had were my slippers as my shoes were left last night in the car. I then tried going to the washroom, flushing the toilet, changing, washing my face and putting my contacts in all while trying to maneuver my new lil walker away from putting Husk into the toilet. I kept saying "I really do not think you would be that happy after Husk goes for a swim!" 

We then walked back to the tent area and I tried to make us breakfast on our camping stove. I then realized that I could not make my breakfast. It was pouring rain outside and both the wind and the rain were too strong. I was worried about becoming hangry as I bit into a banana that I was sharing with Etta. Thank goodness I brought ample food for Etta in case a situation like this were to arise. 

Following 'breakfast' I decided I needed to do something with Etta so that I would not feel claustrophobic from spending too much time in our 'glamping' tent that was starting to feel cramped. I decided to feed Etta a cereal cookie in the car and head over to ride the gondola for free a few times. 
Heading up the gondola. Etta really just wanted to get moving as I held her close for the picture.

Cam - He had reached the summit in one piece, and only a little worse for the wear, but his legs were really feeling it from the 10,000 ft of mountain that he just climbed as fast as he could. You would think going down would be a relief, but the difficult footing and angry weather made it a challenge to stay focused and keep his feet underneath him. His first wipeout came while running through a swamp and trying to open another Stinger waffle treat. Before he even knew it, he was flat on his face in the mud. It would have been easy to pack it in there. I bet he was just thinking how nice it would be to be snuggled up with his little girl in the tent having a morning nap.

Etta and I- Little did Cam know, I was not so fortunate to just be napping with a cuddly, sleepy Etta. In fact, by the end of the halfway point I was ready to give in, pack the tent and head home. I even considered having Cam, Ravi and Eric find another way back to the campsite after the race. This was upon returning to the campsite for Etta to have her nap. Etta decided to refuse her nap!! She has been having two naps but recently is occasionally refusing to nap. This can be very frustrating especially when the rain is pounding and I was exhausted from little sleep. I started to think about the big run. At this point I was imagining gloriously running through the mountains basking in the SILENT fresh air. I had the insane thought that I would love to be running a 60 km run that climbed a 10,000 ft mountain. You never know maybe someday I will!

Home Stretch
Cam- Despite a few more falls, Cam managed to keep picking himself up and barreling down the mountain towards the finish line. As the distance between him and the end of the race shrunk, he found new energy. He was running close by Eric, and a few other runners and was just letting gravity take him. There were a number of out and back portions within the last few miles of the race, and seeing the runners ahead and behind gave him some inspiration to keep pushing. He was also on pace for a much faster race than anticipated, and as he realized he might be able to finish in 6 hours he started to get really amped up. All he could think about was running through that finish line and giving his girls a big hug!
|The fog at the aid station. Can you imagine running on trails through this weather?

Etta and I- I decided to go on an adventure with Etta. We hopped on the shuttle that would take us up to the mountain to arrive slightly before Cam said he would most likely run by the final aid station. This shuttle made it up the steep, bumpy road to the aid station in 30 minutes. It was quite the adventure and Etta enjoyed the attention from the other people taking the shuttle. I enjoyed talking with other adults, specifically those that had completed the race in a relay.  I begun to get excited about the day. As the fog and cool air started coming we waited for Cam to run by until another shuttle came. When the shuttle came and there was no sign of Cam, I decided that it would be best if we headed back down the mountain. Seeing the racers and hearing about their adventures was really inspiring. It was the final boost at the end of the race and I was pumped up! 
The views before the fog came in.

Finish line
Cam - He zoomed through the finish line in 13th place overall and 6 hours and 2 minutes (1 hour faster than he told me he would finish!). Upon crossing the finish line the announcer said, "This runner looks a little pale, somebody make sure he's getting some fluid." It was true, he really pushed it in those last 10 km and made up a lot of time, but made him worse for the wear! He tole me when he came through the finish line it was a mix of happiness and exhaustion, along with a little bit of worry as to where Etta and I were. About 20 minutes later, he spotted me and Etta at the finish line and was thrilled to see us and share the moment. It really was a family achievement
Cam at the finish line!

Ravi ... our good friend coming through the finish line!

Etta and I- When Cam crossed the finished line, Etta and I were actually up at the 4th aid station hoping to see Cam on his way down the mountain. Here is a little background information on Cam. When Cam participates in a run he frequently tells me that he is going to do way worse then he actually does. Etta and I had actually taken a 30 minute shuttle up the mountain to try and see Cam before he headed down to the finish line.

After heading down the mountain via another shuttle we waited and watched the runners coming in through the finish. I started to worry about Cam and whether he had gotten injured somewhere on the mountain. Then all of a sudden, I turn around and see my handsome trail runner. I run up to Cam and give him a huge hug and a big congrats! All my previous worries of the day dissipate as my excitement for Cam finishing this race amidst a modest amount of training amazed me. 
Etta excited to see her dad after the race!
Post race 
Cam- Cam's stomach was in knots after the race due to a combination of working really hard and eating energy candies all day. After about an hour curled up in the fetal position on a couch, he started to feel a bit more like himself and was able to play with his little girl. It was good to be back!

You might notice a couple of black big toe nails on Cam's feet (#55), ouch!

Etta and I- After the race I was still exhausted as I still had not eaten. Hangry tendencies were starting to surface. Thankfully a pulled pork sandwich at the mid mountain lodge and a delicious chai tiramisu popsicle, made by a local, quenched my appetite. After I had to pass Cam slices of banana as he lay passed out on a couch in the mountainside lodge. An hour after, I had my husband back to help out with diapers and dinner. Life, once again, became a little easier!
The couch Cam slept on for about 1 hour after I saw him.

Etta crawling and walking all over her exhausted father. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Post trailstoke: relaxation

Last day was relaxation day. We enjoyed the lake at Williamson campground in Revelstoke.

During Etta's nap I got to paddle board around the small lake. I enjoyed the gorgeous mountain views and having the time to soak in some baby free time. 

Following Etta's nap we went into Revelstoke and each got our own treat of either coffee, ice cream or frozen yogurt. We then enjoyed the mountain views around us!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Trailstoke in Revelstoke, BC

The boys are off to a trail race safety briefing that started at 8pm. I am without a fire hanging out in the mountainous area with Etta thankfully fast asleep in the yellow tent. (Cam recently sent me a worried text saying "are you ok" because as he left he heard extreme baby crying as she was fighting being changed before bed.)

To pass some of the time I will give a some background on the race. I picked up the Canadian Running magazine that is their August 31st trail special. In the magazine they describe the new race "to be one of the toughest, steepest races in the world". It is run by the 5 peaks trail running series where you normally do 7-20 km of trail running depending on whether you are doing the sport or the enduro race. 

Why would someone put themselves through 60 km of gruelling up hill mountain climbs? For the amazing views and connecting with some of the most wild places in Canada. Just think of the beautiful landscape these racers will cover in a day of running. 

Good luck tomorrow to my husband Cam and his good friend Ravi!

Race day - Trailstoke: 60 km 5 peaks

We have arrived in ..... Revelstoke!!! Yesterday the 6 1/2 hour drive took 8 1/2 hours. The anticipated longer drive ensured a pleasant trip for everyone including Etta. She had ample time to explore Hope and Kamloops before being put into the car seat for peek a boo games and nap time.

Once we arrived I could tell the boys were excited for the race. We immediately went to the race package pick up instead of the campground first. Etta was in good spirits because she saw a puppy and could also practice her new skill of walking by herself!!! 

The race started at 6 am this morning at Revelstoke Mountain Lodge. This was too early for Etta and I so off we went try to get up the gondola (that is free all day!) in time to see the boys pass by mid mountain. Unfortunately we were unable to find the boys and enjoyed the free gondola ride.

Cam finished the race in just over 6 hours!!! Now he is absolutely exhausted but still being a great dad and helping push Etta as she sleeps!

Etta's 4th camping trip: travel day

I thought I would try out posting a few blogs while on Etta's 4th camping trip. I am not sure they will be quite as entertaining  with less thought going into each post but who knows what will happen on this trip. We are currently on our way to Revelstoke, BC which is a 6 1/2 hour drive according to google. Etta and I are tagging along with Cam and Ravi (remember the good friend from "tips for camping while pregnant") as they participate in the trailstoke 60km race in Revelstoke,  BC. Apart from being a 60 km race it also has a total of 10,000 feet elevation.  More on the race tomorrow!

Currently we have been on the road for about 4 hours. We left this morning at 6 am because we know that Etta travels best in the morning. We also thought that by waking her up around 5:15 am she would be tired enough to sleep the first hour or so in the car. After breastfeeding Etta, we plunked her in the car and drove to Hope, BC.  

We tried to make a stop at Starbucks on our way out but we waited about 5 minutes after opening time with little sign we would get coffees anytime soon. This ended up working out well as we headed for a smooth ride all the way to Hope, BC. Etta munched on a cereal cracker that took her about 45 minutes to chomp on and then slept the other 45minutes to complete her nighttime sleep. Hope is a great place to stop once your outside Vancouver. It is a beautiful town surrouded by mountains and a lake. We love stopping at the renowned Blue Moose cafe for organic coffee and delicious baked goods. 

After about a 1 1/2 hour stop, two diaper changes later and a breastfeeding session for good measure we headed off. I played with Etta for a good 20 minutes in the car and fed her some pear. After getting a little grumpy and about 10 minutes of crying while I closed my eyes and meditated to keep my cool she fell asleep again for her morning nap. Hopefully the rest of our travel day goes just as good!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tips for camping when pregnant!

After Etta went to bed the other night Cam gave me the idea to write a post about camping when pregnant. He turned on the computer and opened up the folder 'Twin Islands' that contained pictures from one of our camping trips when I was pregnant. To be exact it was the canoe camping trip we took one week before I had our baby girl Etta. It was unbearable as tears of laughter streamed down my face after I looked at each picture. I then decided that a post dedicated to pregnancy camping was needed. For the record I was sick for most of the 9 months of my pregnancy and the weeks leading up to her birth were not pretty. I did work out and even did the occasional hike as I did all this before I was pregnant. However pregnancy and I did not do well. Etta and I do! So read on with an open mind and maybe a glass of wine.

Preamble: This post is based on our canoe camping experience. We did go on a car camping trip two weekends before Etta was born on the sunshine coast in our "glamping" tent and it went very smooth. The tips are predominantly from our canoe camping trip where we canoed to a campsite one weekend before Etta was born. Here we camped in our 2 person 'roughing it' tent.

Bring a good friend
Don't just bring any friend but make sure it is a good friend. In those last few weeks when your feeling bloated, swollen, grumpy and achy you don't just want any friend to be around. The friend does not need to understand what your going through but you want that person to stay being your friend following the trip.
Anyways my husband really wanted to do the canoe trip before Etta was born. At that point I was not so sure if I could muster up the strength as I really just wanted to lay on my couch and sleep. However I do love the outdoors ALOT and I did not want to waste the summer not having gone camping.
Bringing our good friend, well, that was key. This was key for a couple of reasons:
1. You don't have to paddle if you don't want to.
When we went canoeing it was a beautiful sunny day. The boys paddled for the hour or so and I got to lay in the middle soaking up the sun. Perfect resting time for someone nearing their due date.
2. Should you go into labour on the island you won't need to paddle yourself to the hospital.
The plan was that if I went into labour the boys would have to paddle like crazy to get us back to shore. In the event that I had the baby on the canoe, well, at least we would have Cam to help me deliver and our friend would have to row us into shore.

Tell friend not to cook spicy food
This is more of a lesson for the dad and is somewhat of an inside joke that was not funny at the time. Spicy food and I were not mixing well during pregnancy. Although I love spicy food, I dreaded the thought of eating spicy food around others throughout my pregnancy. The twisting and turning in my stomach that would occur along with the heart burn would not be how I would want to feel being away from civilization.
Before going on the trip I thought I had planned for everything. Since we were all contributing to the meals I told my husband to make sure that he tells his friend not to cook anything too spicy. Dinner time on the island came around and I was hungry. In fact filling my stomach was always a great way to ease the 'all day sickness' that was frequent throughout my pregnancy. As our friend is serving up dinner he says "I hope you like spicy food." Immediately I look at my husband with the look of death. Without trying to hide the smoke boiling out of my ears our friend instantly feels really bad. Cam looks afraid. "You forgot to tell him didn't you?" I say to Cam and he nods his head sheepishly. In that moment I feel a tinge of regret that our friend feels bad for making spicy food. I say "Don't worry about it, its not your fault. It's Cam's!"

Pack Carefully and Thoughtfully
Cam and I have been back country camping a few times and even on some back country canoe trips. We are not ones to mess up and forget important items. We are thorough in our planning and preparation. I will talk about a few things that I wish we would have packed and items that I am very glad that we remembered to pack.
1. Water
I love water. Water is and always will be my drink of choice before every other beverages. It is refreshing, quenches your thirst, nourishes and is life giving. Since I love water I made sure that Cam made sure there was water available on the island. With only a half bottle left of water I turn to the boys and tell them its time that they search for the water on the island. The island is actually really small  and I'm sure that anyone who has been to twin islands is shaking there heads at what I call an adventure. Anyways the boys returned swiftly from the search without water. We wrestled with the idea of rationing the water and leave the next morning. This was not going to work as I was growing a baby in my belly. The boys then had to go searching nearby islands to see if they could find water. Since I was exhausted, from doing nothing but walking to our campsite, I slept for the two hours they were away finding water. In this instance we avoided the possibility that I might go into labour.

2. Bring toilet paper
Thank goodness we did this correctly. While the outhouse occasionally may have toilet paper where we were staying I am really glad that we brought some. What was left of the toilet paper looked second hand.
3. Get the Donuts or the Treats
We did the easy canoe from Deep Cove to the campsite on Twin Island. In Deep Cove there is a really good Donut Shop. Being pregnant, one of the things that motivated me to go on the trip was that we would get these donuts. We almost did not get them because we were running behind and Cam thought maybe we should just get them when we were heading home. Seeing as pregnancy turned me into a sweet craving monster Cam lost that battle and we got the donuts.

Swimming spot to cool off
We went camping during the summer when Vancouver was going through a really nice hot streak. It was 30 degrees C and just beautiful. Usually I love the heat as I am typically a cold person. With Etta in my belly I had my own personal furnace that I could not turn off. I was hot all the time. To cool off I went to the beach frequently and would lay in the water like a beached whale. Needless to say it was very attractive..... Anyways at Twin Islands there are many spots to head into the water and cool off.

Bring pregnancy medication
Tums, tums, tums. In my 3rd trimester I had really bad heart burn. Before pregnancy I hardly even understood what heart burn was. When I was deciding what to pack I immediately thought tums. The last thing we needed was a grouchy pregnant women with heart burn.

Let others help
I have always been a strong headed women. In fact when Cam does nice things like open the door for me its because I care about him so much that I let him do that for me. Its his way of showing that he cares about me not that he thinks that I cannot open the door for him. Likewise, I sometimes show him that I care by opening the door for him.
 If you choose to go camping so close to your due date remember that you can let others do the work during this time. Do not feel guilty about this. When the boys decided to get water I was so exhausted from not canoeing to the island. Does this make sense? Maybe only to someone who has already been pregnant. Anyways. When the boys decided to go get the water I let them go without me while they made a little area outside for me to rest. I went on to sleep the whole rest of the day which was about 4 hours.
Also do not feel obligated to set up the tent or pump up your mattress. I like setting up and taking down the tent so I helped out. Pumping the mattress is a whole other ball game. I love our mattresses but I hate self pumping it. I definitely pulled the pregnancy card and allowed my husband to pump it up for me.

Induce Entertainment
I was always very active pre-pregnancy. I used to play rugby at a pretty high level, I would go snowboarding during the winter and had recently taken up surfing. I would go to the gym and work out often. During my pregnancy I got really bad morning sickness. In fact it was all day sickness. Needless to say I would go work out but it was not the kind of work outs I used to do. This ramble does have a point and that is that on the island you could go cliff jumping at about 30 ft high. I love the rush of cliff jumping and would have done it in a heart beat...... but I was pregnant. My husband and his friend are not so inclined to go cliff jumping. They battled with the notion and were leaning against going cliff jumping. That is when I jumped in and said 'I would go if I was not pregnant.' Having said that my husband and Ravi both looked at me with a look of fear. She would go if she were able to and we are able to but do not want to go. Needless to say this brought me alot of entertainment as the boys decided to jump the cliff. Jumping off the cliff took about another hour as the boys wrestled wondering if there lives were at stake.

Stay close to civilization
Before going on our trip we had no idea that Twin Islands was such a close canoe ride. This brought alot of peace to my mind when I found out we were so close to Deep Cove. There are literally vacation homes directly across from the island. Many people do day trips via motor boat or canoe to the island. Help would have been very easy to get. We also made sure that we would have cell reception where we were going beforehand. This is very important even if you think that you still have a month before the baby arrives. If we had gone the following weekend, which was still almost 3 weeks before I was due, I would have had a Twin Island baby or a baby in the canoe. I am sure our good friend would have loved that!