Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting ready for daycare

I have been meaning to write a post about the two hours I spend with Tristan every morning before daycare. Yes, it takes us that long to do our morning routine before we can leave the house for daycare. If I had a full time job outside of the home, I would be doom! Luckily, I don't and we pretty much get to take our time in the morning :)

I don't like disturbing Tristan from his night sleep so I let him wake up on his own. I think we have only ever woken him twice in the morning. For emergencies though, I do set an alarm for us because it would be crazy to arrive at daycare in time for lunch.

Here is our morning routine:
  • 7AM - Wake up
  • 7-7:20 - Potty time for both of us, wipe face, change diaper, change Tristan into day clothes
  • 7:20-7:30 - Change myself into day clothes, wash & lotion my face, all while Tristan plays
  • 7:30-7:45 - Put away dry dishes & prepare Tristan's milk
  • 7:45-8:05 - Prepare breakfast for Tristan & hot drink for me, all while Tristan drinks his milk
  • 8:05-8:50 - Eat breakfast, clean up, bag daycare lunch
  • 8:50-9:15 - Brush teeth, potty, apply sunblock
  • 9:20 - Walk to daycare
  • 9:30 - Arrive at daycare

Monday, August 30, 2010

Squirrels are everywhere!

It must be squirrel season because on our walk to daycare, we see at least a couple of squirrels. When we go into the big parks, you see one every few meters. It's actually quite scary. They must all be out in armies trying to gather food for the winter. It's a little early to start, isn't it? It's still August after all.

I think the squirrels have taken over Central Park in Burnaby. We had a walk through the park yesterday and knew instantly that Tristan was going to have a blast. He loves squirrels! It was actually one of his first words and he loves signing squirrel and making squirrel noises. At one point, we saw five squirrels in just this one area. I don't think I've seen that many at one place since walking through Stanley Park. Squirrel season, right? It sure looks like it.

I was shocked to see so many people feeding the squirrels inside Central Park. We knew this had to be the case when the squirrels started approaching us. Then we saw people throwing peanuts at them and even Cheerios. Aren't there "do not feed wildlife signs" anywhere? We didn't see any sign but you would think people would know better. The squirrels by our house are scared of humans and they should be! They came so close to us, I was scared. They may be cute from far away but not inches from us.

Our Central Park visit was actually my first. We ran on the side of it before but I had never walked inside of it. We went with the stroller and the trail was actually very flat and stroller friendly. I love stroller friendly trails :) Not surprisingly, we encountered a lot of runners and bikers along the trail. With all the trees in there, I imagine it would be beautiful in the Fall. We will definitely go back for a walk and some more pictures when the leaves turn color and fall.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enjoying the outdoors like tourists

When Tristan came along, we felt a need to tour Vancouver again because he hadn't seen any of it. Even if we went to a place a gazillion times already, we would have to return again because it would be his first visit. First visits are the best visits, although he may not remember much of it right now. First visits also means we have to document it with lots of picture taking! No problem. We love playing tourists in our own town :)

To be honest, we haven't really taken advantage of this summer. When August came along, it suddenly hit us that summer is almost over. Now, we are starting to go out more and walk on trails, pick blackberries, and we're barbecuing in our patio again! Last weekend, we walked all around Deer Lake in Burnaby. The walk was stroller friendly but the trail disconnects here and there and you end up on the road a few times. That, I didn't like much. It was a very hot day too and there was not enough shade along the lake. I would recommend walking there on a day with overcast skies. Since it is so close to us, we will definitely go back!

Today, we went to Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver. It's a nice park with very easy trails and a suspension bridge. Parking is limited but free and so is the park. We went there ages ago because we heard that it had a suspension bridge and it was recommended over the Capilano Suspension bridge. I personally think the Capilano Suspension bridge is not worth it's admission fee and a bit lame. Sorry :( We ended up having a great time at Lynn Canyon. The day was almost ruined because before we left the house, Jean-Louis over pumped the tires on our Bugaboo stroller and while we were on the highway, the tires blew up. It was pretty scary actually. I was very upset but then we stopped by Canadian Tires and bought replacement tubes for them and all seemed fine again :) So thankful! After all that delay, we actually ended up not using our stroller much.

Lynn Canyon is a great park to walk in but not with a stroller. There is a suspension bridge and then everywhere you go there are steps and stairs. We did plan to take the stroller apart and then walk over with it but we decided not to and it was a good thing. Tristan wanted to walk, of course, and we wanted to take pictures and it would have been a nightmare lugging all of our stuff around. We saw another family carry over their stroller but then they had a lot of people with them. We also saw another family push their stroller over the suspension bridge! I'm not even sure they are allowed but they did it. Tristan did great walking around the park. He even did stairs up and down. We barely carried him at all. He should be able to sleep well tonight! :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Celebrating our 9 year wedding anniversary

9 years ago on 8-18-1, Jean-Louis and I got married at the Ocean Pointe Resort in Victoria. We've been together for almost 12 years. Needless to say, we have been through a lot. We pretty much do everything together. We've been inseparable since we got married. We have only spent something like 4 nights apart in the 9 years we have been married. I guess you can say we're not too sick of each other yet :)

For us, 9 years isn't really anything special. It's a lot of years to be married but it's no special number. Nevertheless, it is our anniversary and we had to celebrate. We wanted to do something we couldn't do with Tristan. Lucky for us, our anniversary day fell on a daycare day! Unlike last year where we spent it with family in Victoria, this year we actually had the luxury of spending most of the day, just the two of us.

We headed downtown to Ganache Patisserie in Yaletown for coffee and pastry in the morning. Coffee was alright but the croissant and pain au chocolat was delicious. Crispy on the outside, moist and flaky in the inside - just the way they are suppose to be! Maybe the best we have tasted so far in Vancouver :)

Next up was a movie at the Scotiabank Theatre. We watched the much talked about movie, Inception. We both liked it! 2 for 2.

Part 3 of our date was high tea at the Fairmont Hotel. We've never had high tea in Vancouver before but have been meaning to for awhile now. When Groupon offered high tea for two for $36, I just had to grab at the chance. It was a nice experience overall. We felt like royalty sitting there :) The teas were good and most of the sandwiches and pastries were good. We were a bit disappointed by the quality of bread served with the sandwiches but everything was quite tasty and we were full afterwards. So 3 for 3, right? Well, almost. Jean-Louis messed up our bill and ended up tipping them twice while I was in the bathroom :( Since we already paid for our Groupon, we were given a bill for the gratuity and tax. Jean-Louis didn't know and ended up doubling that bill. Yeah, I wasn't so happy for something like 30 minutes. So I'll rate our date 2.5/3.

Happy 9th Anniversary honey! No messing up next year, ok? Looking forward to the big 1-0 ;-)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting back into the cooking and baking of things

There isn't as much professional work for me these days so I have been spending more time in the kitchen. Tristan is still too young to help me out without making a huge mess of things so I try to cook or bake while he is napping or in daycare. I thought about letting him have his own corner and sift flour or something but then I thought about all the things that could go wrong e.g. him not staying in the corner and running around the living room with flour. If our place wasn't carpeted and was easier to clean up, that would be less of a problem. Then there is him not wanting to listen to us even when we yell and it's just too dangerous to be operating an oven with him around. We have baby aprons for him too and I am really looking forward to the day we can use them!

Back in my younger, more energetic days, I would spend all day in the kitchen cooking. I would wake up in the morning, start preparing food, take a break for lunch, then cook some more until it was time for dinner. It wasn't that I was slow. I would just cook way too much food. Why? Because I grew up with a family that cooked a lot and ate a lot. I had to learn the hard way how to cook for just two people. Ok, I didn't do this every day but I spent a lot of time cooking or doing things related to cooking such as looking at recipes, grocery shopping etc. I was a cooking geek, especially when I was a stay-at-home housewife.

On friday, I made blueberry-banana muffins. I'm not a muffin person but I made them for Jean-Louis. I was going to make tarts because it was quick and easy but he said he wasn't much of a tart person. It turns out that muffins were just a little bit more work to make and it was well worth it. The recipe I found was yum! Not only that but there is whole wheat flour in it and I only used 1/3 cup of sugar in the recipe for 12 muffins.

The ingredients made it sound pretty healthy so I actually tried to offer it to Tristan but he refused to taste it. I removed the top part since it had nuts and more sugar but I think he would have refused the entire thing as well. He has never had any sweets besides arrowroot biscuits. I think if he had tried it, he would have asked for more but now that I think about it, gooey blueberry muffins really don't look appetizing to people that have never encountered it before. At 20 months, Tristan is a picky eater and is refusing to eat foods based on just their appearance. It's funny because I had the video camera ready and everything and he just looked at it and then tried to throw it around. Ugh!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Finally moved toddler into his own bedroom!

I wish we had thought about this way back when I was just a little bit pregnant. It didn't occur to me because we had lots of space in our master bedroom and we had planned on placing the crib in the far corner for the first few months. A few months turned into 20 months.

Why did we take so long to move the baby into his own bedroom? Because his room is on the floor below us and knowing he would be down there on his own didn't sit well with us. It wasn't a big disturbance having him in our room since he has been sleeping through the night since he was just 5 months old. The odd time we would have to get up to check on him or give him water. That has been the case lately since his molars are finally visible. At least that is what we figured. Even with him just 8 steps away from us, some times we even feel lazy to get up.

We knew it was beginning to get ridiculous that he was still rooming with us but we really didn't feel comfortable leaving him alone on a different floor than us. Our computers are on the floor below us and we are already paranoid and protective of them. Yeah, we're a little nuts :)

Today was a big day. We finally moved him downstairs into his own room. To solve our problem, we moved down with him. Instead of being upstairs, we will now be in the room next to him. As long as we are on the same floor, it's all cool with us :) Swapping our master bedroom with our office was no small move but I think it went as well as we could have hoped for. Our upstairs master bedroom is now our new office, play room, and laundry room. It just had to be done since we were swapping one room for two. In many ways it's good and in other ways it's going to be harder.

The good:
  • Tristan gets to be in his own room and will no longer grow used to rooming with us
  • We get more privacy
  • We are all on the same sleeping floor but in separate rooms (had to mention that one again:)
  • We finally get to decorate Tristan's room
  • We were forced to organize and clean
  • We have a larger office, which we really needed
  • Things make sense now since we spend most of our time in the office
  • We can watch movies on our computer in a bigger room in comfortable chairs
  • Heating the master bedroom is hard but now the computers will help us
The bad:
  • Bringing the wet clothes upstairs will be more work
  • Going from kitchen to office will take a lot more steps
  • Getting ready in the morning for myself will be harder (until I get used to it)
  • Enabling direct Internet access may take a phone call and more wires
  • Summers will be unpleasant since the top floor is the hottest and the computers are there too
  • We have to adjust to the transition, especially me since I have to change our morning routine
Master bedroom before and after photos:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We don't have a nanny but we do have daycare

Help makes a big difference. No matter how small, it makes a difference to parents of small children. It wasn't until we got into daycare when our baby was 13 months old did I finally get to enjoy a bit of "me" time. Daycare help has made life more enjoyable overall for my baby and I. As a family, we are healthier because I can better take care of things at home and we get more exercise. The downside is the high cost of daycare and only one steady paycheck. Hey, we can't have it all! :)

I often give daycare a lot of credit for helping us out because before them, it was just us. When I say just us, I really mean it too. We had no help from family or friends. In fact, at 20 months, Tristan is just getting to know all of his grandparents. Like many "normal" parents, we also don't hire help such as cleaners, cooks, nannies etc. If it's something one of us can do, we do it. Jean-Louis takes a vacation day every now and then so we can go on a date while Tristan is in daycare. It has worked out quite well :)

Even with Tristan in daycare part time and I am at home to take charge of the house, I sometimes still feel overwhelmed. It's such a challenge to multitask while watching a toddler! I'm looking forward to the day where I can cook freely knowing that Tristan can entertain himself and be safe without my constant supervision.

Normal parents with small children are often overwhelmed because of a lack of help. We cannot afford luxuries like nannies. An article about Hollywood's Dirtiest Little Secret: Nannies motivated me to write this blog post. We all suspect celebrities and very wealthy people to have lots of hired help and this article kind of confirms it. Really, Angelina Jolie has a staff of 25?! I'm not too surprise. What is so awful is that most celebrities don't give their help much credit and that is what the article points out. Instead, celebrities try to hide the fact that they have help and want to be seen as hands on mothers and fathers.

All celebrities have some kind of nanny and those that don't receive lots of help from their family. Of course they do. We are all human and it is just not humanly possible to do it all without help. It's okay too but just admit to it. They don't have to pretend to do everything on their own. We would understand. This is why I love people like Julia Roberts and Michelle Obama. They are not afraid to admit the fact that they have a lot of resources :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We're baby joggers

When I first met Jean-Louis 12 years ago, we ran together. It was the first thing we ever did together. Now, not only do we run together, we also race together. In fact, we are so compatible that we're each others pace buddies. Some times I beat him and some times he beats me. These days, he is kicking my butt!

We love to run for the exercise and fun but we're not serious by any means. We have entered in dozens of races in the past and even ran the Paris Marathon in 2003. We're sort of hard core in that we will attempt crazy events without much training. No, the marathon was not crazy. I'm actually thinking of other crazy races like the 53KM winter night walk. If you think a simple walk can't hurt you, think again. Ouch, those memories hurt.

I had a friend once tell me "couples who run together, stay together." Nice :) I was also told that there are two kinds of people in Paris, those who smoke and those who run. We were definitely running junkies there. It's a great city to run in because there are races every weekend, either in Paris or in the suburbs and the cost of entry is ridiculously cheap compared to Canada. Racing was one of the few things I actually missed about living in France.

When we raced in France and in Canada, I saw parents running and pushing their baby strollers. I remember thinking to myself how great that would be to do. When Tristan was 6 months old, we bought a jogging stroller. From the reviews I read, the Bob Ironman stroller seems to be the best stroller for running. It turns out they don't actually sell this particular stroller in any of the stores here but any store will place a special order in. We ordered ours through Jack & Lola in North Vancouver.

We love our Bob Ironman stroller! It is super lightweight and so easy to push. The trick is not to constantly have your arms on it to push, otherwise your arms get really tired. It is definitely a smooth ride for Tristan and he tends to fall asleep in it quite a bit. I also love the yellow color. After nearly a year, it still looks brand new! Because of our schedules, we only run with it once or twice a week and we haven't gone out with it in the rain yet. Yes, we like to keep things clean :)

Last summer when Tristan was 8 months old, we were totally out of shape. I hadn't run since I was 5 1/2 months pregnant and all I wanted to do was to start slow again. We were in no state to race and we had no time to train. This year, things have changed. Tristan is 20 months now and is in daycare part time. Daycare gives us the break we need to train again. It feels so great to be able to run regularly and we both feel physically stronger. Now is the time to look into possible races!

We had our minds set on the Victoria half-marathon, which is a beautiful race in October. We've done that one a couple of times and it also gives us an excuse to go over and see family. Being in October is awesome because it gives us the summer to train. When I sat down to register us, I found out that baby joggers are not permitted to race. I then quickly looked into the Vancouver half-marathon and other races and no luck :( None of them allow baby joggers. Actually, that is not entirely true. The Vancouver Sun run allows baby joggers, except that you are not allowed to jog. Then what is the point? Besides, that is the last race I would want to be in with a baby. It's completely chaotic. In fact, the race organizers say that only registered runners can run the route so we couldn't even run along for the fun of it. Sniff :( Their excuse was that their event liability insurance does not cover baby strollers. I understood that but I was just so bummed by the news. I swear I have seen baby joggers in some of those races too. Anyway, we don't want to take our chances and then get kicked out. Too bad for us.

What we need is a race just for baby joggers. Some kind of "stroll and run" event. Until I can find one, the three of us will just run together for the fun of it :) Sadly, I wanted to race with the stroller so badly but life goes on, right? By next year, Tristan may be old enough to run in his own race.
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