room to live

Ever since our tv was accidentally smashed by an errantly thrown toy hammer I’ve reduced access to the “living room” area of our open-plan apartment and increased the size of the “playroom” area by pushing the couch up against the entertainment stand under the window. Then last month when I had my initial inspection from a daycare licensing officer it was pointed out that if I turn the couch around before pushing it back, it could be included in the measured square footage of usable daycare space. DOY. Since then I’ve been turning it before pushing it and it’s been very nice to be able to like… SIT ON THE COUCH during the day.

It’s also really ignited the bee in my bonnet about replacing our current tv (the old one we moved back out to the living room from the bedroom after our new one was broken) with a digital projector. I could replace the entertainment stand with a smaller cabinet, push the couch against the wall, have side tables, a rug (we used to have one that I had to roll up ever day in order to move the couch but threw it away after an unfortunate milk-barfing incident), even a coffee table! I literally haven’t had a coffee table in any of my apartments since Symphony was a baby because I never felt the space in front of the couch was large enough but with the couch facing into a room six meters wide I think it could be managed, haha.

Taylor was not on board with my projector plan for a long time because he felt you couldn’t get a decent image with a super duper expensive projector and also he thought we wouldn’t be able to get our space dark enough to be able to see it well? Um we live in a basement, pal. Anyway this is all in the daydream stage right now because I don’t have money for a projector or side tables or a rug or coffee table but someday, I hope!

vacation disasters

This week is the one week Taylor and I both have off of work while Symphony is around. I’m also off next week, but Sym is at her grandma’s and Taylor is back at work EVEN THOUGH I told him he should take BOTH weeks off because he says he can’t be away from the office for three weeks and he’s going to a conference at the end of the month. I say that doesn’t count because it’s a WORK conference and he’ll be WORKING and also the HR department at his job recently told him he had too many vacation days accrued and he had to take a random day off immediately but that is another story.

Anyway. We didn’t have big plans to go away somewhere but I did want to do some Family Fun activities with… mixed results. Last weekend was a long weekend, with the last night of the annual fireworks competition and also Pride weekend. On Saturday Taylor, Nicky and I drove up to Merritt to pick Gwen up from her grandmas who she had been visiting for the past week, and that night we took them to the beach to watch the fireworks. Nicky had barely napped all day and was up super late so he was incapable of sitting still and kept trying to a) escape into the night, and b) smack me in the face. This led me to believe taking him to the Pride parade the following day would be a mistake so instead on Sunday we went to the Davie Street Promenade to let the kids play in the Love Bus (a school bus that has been painted pink and converted into a giant ball pit by some Burners) and then run a few errands. In the afternoon we had our own impromptu backyard party with a couple kiddy pools and our neighbors. Later my sister came over, Taylor and I picked up fried chicken for dinner and we finished building my Lego Cinderella castle which we had started the previous weekend (it has over 4,000 pieces so it’s a real production).

On Tuesday afternoon I had an initial inspection with a licensing officer from Community Care Facilities Licensing scheduled so Monday we spent most of the day trying to get the house back into some semblance of professionalism. Tuesday morning we took the kids to Science World. I also took Sym to the bank to get her account information so she could register to order to start withdrawing money from her RESP for college. She’s had a bank account since she was a little kid when one of her great grandmas used to write her cheques for her birthday and Christmas but hasn’t used it in years. Anyway… we had a fun time at Science World but unfortunately at some point on the way back Sym lost her cards out of her wallet! We know it had to have happened downtown because she used her Compass (transit) card to tap out of the train station but when we got home it, her Science World membership card and her bank card were missing! She and I retraced our steps all the way back to the train station and then home again but no dice. She needs to be able to access that account to like… pay her tuition, but also she doesn’t really have proper photo ID right now. So on Wednesday I had to take her to apply for photo ID and try and get a new bank card using a somewhat expired passport with a picture from when she was 11 (which we were thankfully able to do). Unfortunately all the walking around in the heat for two days and and waiting in lines killed me and that evening I felt very overheated and sick and had to take a cool bath and go to bed to chug Gatorade while everyone else had dinner.

Thursday was our big Family Fun activity: a day trip to Alice Lake. We went last summer and had a blast, and this year I was determined to actually get Sym into the water instead of just reading in our beach tent all day. Taylor had prepped all our food & supplies the night before while I was feeling ill so after he picked up our Zipcar we were ready to head out. We made a brief detour to a store in North Vancouver to pick up one of those folding wagons all the moms have as well as an adaptor to allow up to plug our electric air pump into the car to blow up all our floaties and LET ME TELL YOU they have already paid for themselves!

We got to the lake around 11:30 and I took the kids & all our stuff (in the wagon) to the beach to set up while Taylor stayed at the car inflating things. I went back and forth bringing floaties over but no one else had to make multiple trips which was nice- last year it was a huge pain getting everything from the parking lot to the lake with no wagon. When the last float was done Taylor had a little trouble getting the Zipcar to lock using his card but the app worked fine so we didn’t worry about it (this is foreshadowing by the way). It was super windy at the lake and everyone’s floats kept blowing away when left unattended, especially ours (mostly because… we had a lot) but it was fun and funny and after lunch I did manage to convince Sym to come out for a float and have fun in spite of herself.

Around 3:30 we decided it was time to head home so we deflated and packed up everything. I took Gwen to the washroom and then we went to meet everyone else at the car. It was a little weird because they were all still standing around it with all our belongings, and as it turned out… it wouldn’t unlock! The card wasn’t working and now neither was the app, because Taylor didn’t have enough service. We had to call Zipcar on my phone because Taylor kept getting disconnected and then he was on hold forever. When he finally spoke to someone they couldn’t even locate the car in their system because of the lack of service so it couldn’t be remotely unlocked. Taylor was put on hold again while he waited to be connected to roadside assistance.

In the end a tow truck came and the driver popped the lock on the car, but doing that locked up the ignition so it wouldn’t start. He needed to tow the car to somewhere with service so Taylor could try unlocking it with his card because that was the only was to unlock the ignition. I had to stay alone with the kids while this happened, and we didn’t even know if it would work or if Zipcar would pick us up in a new car, which would probably take hours- by this time it was rush hour in the city. Also the tow truck happened to be one of the flat bed kind and loading our car onto it blocked the entire exit from the parking lot right at the time everyone else decided to leave so there was a big line of steamed up people fuming at us.

We had taken the kids up to a little playground in the woods and again, GOD BLESS THAT LITTLE WAGON! Literally the best $65 I’ve ever spent! Dragging our cooler, deflated floaties, Taylor’s Swim bag, Nicky’s diaper bag and a big Ikea bag full of wet towels, swimsuits and lifevests around by myself would have been impossible, and moving the kids around from the concession to the lake side of the playground to the parking lot side of the playground to the concession again broke up the wait so they didn’t get too punchy (although Nicky who had skipped his whole nap and was now creeping up on his bedtime had reached the gravel-throwing stage of overtiredness).

Finally, after having the car towed to somewhere with decent service Taylor was able to get it started and came back to pick us up. We’d started trying to leave at 3:30; when we were all finally in the car it was 6:45, and we were still an hour+ outside of the city. The first thing we did once we got out of the park was hit a drive-thru for fries for the kids and then it was straight home. Nicky fell asleep so hard that not only did he stay asleep when we moved him from the car to the house he stayed sleepy enough while I changed his dirty diaper that I was able to put him straight to bed.

In spite of the rather large hiccup of being stranded in the woods for several hours with no clear plan of how or when we were going to all get home (at one point we thought Zipcar might send a driver in a car with carseats to bring me & the kids home while Taylor stayed with our car until???), the day was still a lot of fun and I look forward to next year’s trip, although this time… no Zipcars*


*We actually did use a Zipcar last year with no problems but we parked at the other end of the lot which is higher and I guess has better service? Still, not willing to risk another stranding.

july & the summer


I’m obsessed with that giant tree. It’s down near the edge of Stanley Park by Georgia Street and I just think it would be perfect for a treehouse and/or a swing, or even just climbing up to sit on a wide branch and read. I wish one the trees in our yard was like this but ALAS we just have a prickly hawthorn, a short dogwood and a spindly rowan.

For the whole month of June Gwen and I were both counting down the days until the end of the school year. I was SO READY to be done with the twice-daily down-and-up the hill with all the kids. School in this district went all the way to June 27th this year and it was SUCH a relief to be done… until July 3rd when she started her summer daycamp, which is at the school. I’m actually really thankful that she got into it, it’s a program for kids who need more support with reading, there are super limited spaces and it is very low cost, but the down-and-up the hill! Plus I can’t just drop her at the door, I need to take her up to the library on the second floor and sign her in which means I have to take Nicky and the daycare kids up to the library on the second floor. I don’t know what it is about being inside the school but it makes them all (ESPECIALLY Nicky) go bananas! The building it mostly empty so there’s a fantastic echo and I feel a little bad to the other parents subjected to Nicky’s yells of CHEESE! and SQUEAKY! up and down the stairs and hall- but not too bad. We’re on day 7 of 16 of the program and so far it seems to be going well.

After a few false starts and a lot of confusion and maybe a few frustrated tears Symphony is registered for her first college classes! We’re still holding out hope she can get into some art classes (registration for them is reserved for only students in the fine art program until the 17th) but if she isn’t able this semester there’s always next time. This month she’s helping out with the kids when I pick Gwen up from daycamp (the pickup is in the middle of quiet/nap time) and her other goal is to do lots of baking and crafts because as she said “I can’t just spend all my time in my room watching videos.” THAT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR LIKE THREE YEARS OH MY GOD. Anyway she made cookies last week and last night she made the brownies pictured above. I made the wooden bench and little wooden mushroom, both with scrap wood I pillaged from the construction site next door. They are finally almost done over there and I’m looking forward to being able to open my windows whenever I want without worrying about fumes or noise or dust BUT I will miss pillaging their scrap heap for bits for my projects! (FYI I was given express permission to do so and was even given an extra piece of white quartz countertop they had, which is beautiful but weighs a million pounds and I’m not sure what to do with it?).

solstice

When Gwen found out that Friday was the longest day of the year she begged to go down to the beach to watch the sunset. Actually she STATED she was going to watch the sunrise AND the sunset but I dissuaded her haha. I also made her swear up and down that she would sleep in the next morning but Nicky had different ideas (and a virus) so in the end no one slept in. We had a lot of fun although next time I think I would pick a different beach (this one was very crowded).

summertime

It’s been a while.

I’ve meant to write more, I’ve even composed posts in my head when I was running around doing stuff, or spending time outside with the kids (which I do a lot of these days) but never actually had a moment to sit down and type anything out. Not to be like “I’m busy” but like… I’m busy. Having three kids and a job and a regularly updated blog is too much, man!

This spring we said goodbye to Kichou. He was 17 and his quality of life was suffering and it was time. It was sad and weird and Taylor was annoyed with me because I’d scheduled Gwen’s eye exam for later that same afternoon and he had to take her (NEVERMIND that when I put Claire to sleep, and went to my ex’s to be there for Dougal’s end I had to go back to work right after!). Georgie’s been a bit of a basket case ever since, she gets extremely hysterical when we come home from even short errands, I think because Kichou left and didn’t come back and she thinks we are going to leave and not come back? It’s rough (ruff).

Gwen’s eyes are fine btw. at the beginning of last summer we had them checked and she had a slight astigmatism in one eye. We were supposed to take her back at the end of August to get rechecked to see if she needed any interventions but… I forgot. I SAID I’M BUSY OK. Anyway she’s fine, the one eye (her right?) isn’t as strong as the left yet but it’s getting better on its own.

Nicky was sick this past weekend and I had to take him to get checked out at the urgent care clinic. I spend so much time with him during the week but almost never one-on-one and to be honest he spends a lot of his day yelling at other kids, so it was nice to actually hear him talk. He talks so much! He has a lot to say. The doctor told me he’s physically closer to a 4-year-old. He recently started climbing out of his crib so I converted it to a toddler bed and put Gwen’s spare bedding on it so they have matching pillowcases and duvets. Next step: BUNK BEDS. Eventually.

This morning Symphony wrote her Provincial exam for English and that’s it. She’s done high school. WILD I KNOW. The graduation (or “school-leaving”) ceremony was last week, followed by the dinner & dance. I took the day off work to take her to get her nails and hair and makeup done. I watched her walk across the stage; she was the first one in her class to do so (just last-name-starts-with-the-letter-A things). I have to say it was pretty surreal to see and think about and I did cry a lil bit making her breakfast that morning. My little girl is literally all grown up.

adding insult to injury

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FINALLY finished the second of this pair of boots on the weekend. they are up in the shop here.

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She climbed up but refused to go down the slide at the far end, instead she tried to “slide” down this ladder. Like she just sat at the top and pushed off, I barely caught her.

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My hair: SUPER grey. Her hair: finally out of her eyes after getting a long-overdue bang trim.

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A view of Mole Hill, before tacky condo developers RUIN IT with their greed and poor judgement.

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What’s up, crow?

So in addition to everything I posted about yesterday, pretty much all of last week/the weekend was such total crap. Like every day I woke up determined to not have the worst day ever and pretty much every day something bad happened.

Georgie had another abscessed anal gland, which formed and ruptured in like… 24 hours. Like Monday night she was fine, and then Tuesday afternoon she had this huge oozy wound. It was so gross and obviously no fun for her either, and cost $225 in vets bills (for those keeping track we’ve now spent over $500 on my poor dog’s butt). It was pouring with rain on Wednesday morning when I took her to the vet, and because we went right after I took one of the daycare kids to school, we were both soaking wet and cold for hours and hours (which prob helped me to get sick, see below).

I had been saving up all my paypal money to buy myself that long dress I posted last week, but on Tuesday night I discovered there was a weird problem with my paypal account. Some things I pre-ordered in December, which I’ve since paid for and already received, had a pre-authorization go through for them again. I didn’t want to spend the money on the dress until the problem was resolved. I discovered it on Tuesday night and it was fixed by Thursday, but in that time the dress sold out in my size. Obviously this is such a petty problem but I’m just so annoyed, like I was trying to be responsible and not use my credit card and instead waited until I’d made enough on etsy and then this happened? SO LAME.

On Friday morning the kitchen ceiling was leaking again, this time from the side of the hole that was cut before. We still couldn’t tell where the water was coming from though, and by the time the handyman got here the water had stopped. So he just cut a second hole in the ceiling next to the first hole, because water had been pooling there before it dripped out, and left it so maybe the next time it happens we’ll be able to tell what pipe it’s coming from. So now we just have TWO great big holes in our kitchen ceiling and can hear everything that happens in BOTH our upstairs neighbors’ bathrooms. GREAT.

On Friday night I got sick with sinus congestion, a fever and a sore throat. I felt awful all weekend and although I’m kind of grateful that it happened when I didn’t have to work, on the other hand I would rather have not spent the entire weekend feeling like shit. I’m still feeling a little cruddy and run down but thankfully this is a short week so I should be able to get through it, and then SMELL YA LATER, MARCH.

fight

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So as I mentioned last week, the new owners of the house next door want to put up a building in the backyard, and i wasn’t happy about it. On Thursday afternoon I went to the ~workshop~ they had with the architects or w/e. Really it was just all their boards with mockups placed around the room for us all to look at, and the architects dodging questions from anyone who didn’t love their gross building. The people who came were mostly residents of the neighborhood and a few rich dicks, and the people who were for or against the plan were split exactly across those lines, as in NO ONE who lives here wants this.

Basically their plan is actually even worse than I could have imagined. They want to move the existing house forward to the very front of the lot, making the backyard bigger, and then put up a big, ugly, three-and-a-half storey condo building right outside my window. It would be taller than the existing house, taller than the house on the east side of the lot and even taller than the house I live in, which is one of the biggest houses on the block. Because they want to move the existing house forward, the new building will block the entire window on the east side of the living room, and because it will go all the way back to the laneway it will also block the office window, at the south end of the room (my apartment is pretty open plan, and the living room & office are part of the same room). This building will block, and I’m not even kidding, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the natural light in my apartment, not to mention the non-stop construction noise nightmare I’d be living next to. And did I mention I work from home? Looking after babies that need to nap during the day? And that my husband works nights and sleeps during the day? And that this will ruin our lives?

And just to add to the horseshit, they aren’t even putting up a building with any reasonably-priced rental suites for families with children, seniors, people with disabilities, etc. Nope, it’s going to be more million-dollar condos for rich dicks to buy. I’m not even exaggerating when I say this is going to RUIN the neighborhood. For anyone who doesn’t know, the part of the city I live in, Mole Hill, is special. It is the last block of heritage houses left in downtown Vancouver, and back in the late 90s the entire thing was slated to be demolished. A group was formed to try and save the houses from destruction, and against all odds, they succeeded. Instead of being torn down, the houses were all lifted, remodelled and renovated, and then rented out with the goal of creating a diverse neighborhood, with all different sorts of tenants from all walks of life.

Putting in a big, SUPREMELY UGLY and overpriced condo building absolutely DOES NOT MESH with this neighborhood; it’s the complete opposite of what Mole Hill is about. The owners don’t care about the neighborhood or the people who live here; they just care about making more money. Vancouver’s West End doesn’t need more million dollar apartments that no normal person could ever afford, and for them to claim that their vision is in line with the city’s infill housing plan is repulsive. They are also claiming that they are improving the neighborhood by restoring the existing heritage house but like… the previous owners did that. They aren’t improving anything.

In a few weeks there’s going to be a meeting of the tenants and other members of the Mole Hill Society so we can strategize and plan how we can stop this from going forward. The owners of the house haven’t actually applied to the city for any sort of permission or permits yet, so hopefully we can nip this bs in the bud. It’s not that we’re against development, we’re just against THIS development. If the owners wanted to raise up the existing house and put a basement suite under it I don’t think anyone would have a problem. If they wanted to put a small lane house at the back of the property where the current garage is I don’t think anyone would have a problem. I know I wouldn’t, and I’m one of the people who would be the most directly affected by any sort of development and construction next door.

As much as I complain about living here and daydream about moving away, I love where I live. I’m lucky to have such a big, affordable apartment downtown, and all my moving away daydreams are like… winning-the-lottery daydreams. I would only want to move away on our own terms, ie if we could somehow magically afford to buy a house of our own in a place where we wanted to live. I’ve been in this apartment for almost nine years and before that I lived in another apartment in this same house for four years. This is my home! We moved here when Sym was only one year old, and Gwen’s never lived anywhere else. If this proposed development is approved I feel like we’ll have no choice but to move, as first the construction and then the finished building will make this apartment virtually unliveable, and I’m not the only person who feels this way. Over half the tenants of this house and at least one from the house on the other side have said if it goes through they’ll move. I’ve actually already started filling out applications for housing co-ops, as our family can’t afford to rent anything anywhere near downtown otherwise, especially since my job is tied to this apartment.

Back when this entire block was slated for demolition, the people banded together and were able to stop it and save the block. Hopefully we’ll be able to do the same thing now, because I don’t want to lose my home.

keeping house

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Georgie had another anal gland abscess this week, this time it ruptured before I even noticed it so she had a huge oozy open wound, poor thing 🙁

I started the draft of this post the other day and wrote the title but now I can’t remember what it was going to be about, so instead I guess it’ll be about complaining. I’m having some really negative feels about my apartment rn. I just want it to be nice and not a nightmare to live here because we are trapped forever in this basement apartment, and it’s just the worst sometimes. Like, the leak in the kitchen ceiling hasn’t been fixed because they can’t figure out where it’s coming from and MEANWHILE I just have a great big hole in the ceiling. They cut it open to try and find the leak and when they couldn’t find it they just left the hole so they don’t have to cut it open again if they do figure it out. It’s right below my neighbor’s bathroom so I can hear every time they flush the toilet which is just great, truly.

Then, I just found out that the new owners of the little house next door (it sold again last fall) want to put up a THREE STOREY building in the backyard! There’s this new plan for Vancouver’s West End, putting infill housing in alleyways because the population density of 22,000 people in a square kilometer could be denser I guess? imo Vancouver doesn’t need MORE housing, it needs AFFORDABLE housing bc rents around here are ridic AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON BUYING A PLACE. But I digress, this proposed backyard building would be right outside my living room window so I’d get to a) listen to months of construction all day every day because I work from fucking home, and b) say goodbye to the one small shred of natural light in this place. Oh and not to mention Taylor would probably have a psychotic break from never sleeping again. Cool. Great. There is a ~workshop~ tonight to get information and give feedback about it before they apply to the city so I’m going with a list of questions like “How much are you budgeting to buy Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps for current residents you are consigning to a life of darkness?” and “Are you TRYING to ruin my life?????”

(I am aware that this is total diaper baby whining on my part but allow me this, please.)

In blog news…
I lightened up the layout (HOW IRONIC). It was so dark before because in the winter I feel dark but hey, it’s spring now. I also added a new page for printables. Previously they were listed with the DIYs but I’ve decided to make them separate because in all honestly, is “download this image then print it out” REALLY a DIY? You can find all my old printables on the new page, as well as some that I never posted here. Anyway, the printable page can be found here.

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