The (Inter)National Pastime

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Tracking packages via the courier’s website.

Because our apartment is at the back of the house in the basement it’s basically impossible for delivery people to find, except for UPS and one in five mail carriers. Taylor and I usually leave hand-drawn maps or notes at the front door and by the mailboxes but that doesn’t always help. This time I’m printing out a satellite image from Google Maps.

UPDATE: Jan 25, 2010 8:52 AM On FedEx vehicle for delivery
UPDATE: Jan 25, 2010 11:10 AM In my hot little hands

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WOW I really need to get better lighting in here. Trust me, this bag is gorgeous. Here’s a better picture:

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Can I just say, Neiman Marcus is like, THE BEST. I ordered this on Thursday, shipped Friday, arrived Monday. This was with the standard shipping to Canada. Amazing!

Weekend Recap

It’s Sunday night and as usual I have a ton of housework to catch up on- a load of dishes, a bunch of laundry( thank goodness I have a high capacity, high efficiency washer & dryer!), vacuuming everywhere and both bathrooms to clean, as well as the catbox and the hamster cage. Every weekend I swear I won’t let the house fall into disarray and every weekend it does. I just have a hard time motivating myself to clean things around the house when that’s what I have to do all week while I’m working, especially when there are other, funner things I’d rather be doing all weekend!

Friday
After work I managed to squeeze in a super-quick trip to the gym. Taylor and I were supposed to go together on Thursday evening but laziness prevailed and instead we watched tv shows and got poutine from La Belle Patate, which has like, 30 different kinds of poutine! If you’ve never had it, it’s french fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy. Basically, it’s the opposite of working out! To make up for it Taylor went to the gym after he finished work on Friday morning, and I was going to go later that night after Sym’s bedtime.

As luck would have it she was invited to her friend Ali’s house for a playdate that afternoon. She and Ali were in preschool together, but even though she lives just half a block from us she goes to a different elementary school, so they don’t see each other often. Anyway, both girls were going to be coming back to my house at six-fifteen, so I figured that if I left right when I finished work I could get to the gym, run on the treadmill for a half hour (and live tweet it, haha) and get home in time to meet the girls. Normally I hate going to the gym right after work because it’s so busy, but only crazy meatheads work out on Friday nights so it was really quiet. As it turned out I rushed for nothing because they ended up staying at Ali’s until seven-thirty, but at least I got to have a shower before they got back!

After Ali went home and Sym was in bed, Taylor got us beer and Japanese takeout and we watched some Neon Genesis Evangelion. Taylor says I have to watch it with him since he watched the whole of Sailor Moon with me, although he really didn’t. After like, three episodes we were both ready to pass out, even though it was only ten-thirty! Apparently, we’re old now. Oh, and I conquered my up-until-three-every-night insomnia. The trick is to get up at six-forty for work every morning. Seriously, good luck staying awake until three am then!

Saturday
Since I’m no longer a sleep-deprived zombie I was able to get up early on Saturday morning and take Sym out shopping. She’s grown like crazy since her birthday, and most of her pants and jeans were getting to be too short and too tight. She’s really picky about her pants (won’t wear skinny jeans or leggings) and shopping with her can be a huge drag, but the trip was surprisingly painless and fight-free. We went to a few different places but the only store where she found anything she liked was Gap Kids. She picked out some black and navy blue yoga pants, three pairs of jeans, a dress and some glittery flip-flops (early, I know, but she’s preparing for when we go to Hawaii in March). They had an extra 25% off for Sprize members, so I ended up saving $40 on her stuff. That’s how I’m going to look at it anyway. I saved money!

After we got home Ali came over to play again- this mostly consisted of them running in and out of the house shrieking about the neighborhood boys who were having a Nerf dartgun fight outside, alternating with them sitting quietly and reading, wrapped up in blankets. While this was going on I managed to do some dishes and read some of my book (Girlfriend in a Coma, which I hadn’t read in about ten years). Taylor was out getting his hair cut and came home with all his shagginess gone! He also trimmed his woolly beard this weekend and I’m still not used to this new, more streamlined husband.

Sym’s dad picked the girls up and took Ali home at four-thirty. Taylor and I were going to go grocery shopping (what a fun Saturday night activity! Remember, we’re old) but we only got as far as writing a list of about three items before we accidentally fell asleep and had a three hour nap. Whoops! Taylor actually had an excuse- he was up stupidly early that morning, like three-thirty or something ridiculous like that. My mistake was lying down next to him on the bed and letting his energy leech powers wash over me. He is like a black hole of nappiness! I finally managed to drag myself out of bed at around eight and harassed Taylor into getting up and coming with me on a much more minor than originally planned trip to the store, where we picked up the essential food items of Coca-Cola, two different kinds of oranges (blood and pink) and pomegranate-raspberry sorbet. When we got home we watched Friday’s episode of The Tonight Show, followed by Forgetting Sarah Marshall before heading to bed at around one.

Sunday
I managed to wake up fairly early again and after coffee and a quick breakfast Taylor and I headed off to the gym. That’s three times in a week, yay us! We came home to shower and change, and then walked down to Yaletown to have brunch at one of my favorite brunch restaurants, Glowbal Grill. We had our post-elopement wedding brunch there last May. The food is super yummy- today I had wildberry panettone french toast with marscapone cream and a shot of hot chocolate, so amazing.

After brunch we went to a bookstore, where I stocked up on four more books, which should take me about a week and a half to get through. I should probably just cave in and get an e-reader, or ask for one. I do have a birthday coming up! When we got home Taylor was going to help me clean the house, but as we all know that didn’t happen! Instead we both curled up in bed in our cozies and read all afternoon. So much better for the soul than doing chores! Taylor went to sleep at three (he has to work tonight) and I kept reading until Symphony got home from her dad’s around six. She and I worked on our Farmville farms (her Grandma got us both hooked on it), then I got her to tidy her room quickly and tucked her into a pile of blankets and sweaters on the couch so she could watch Ponyo while I started the housework I listed at the beginning of this post. I’ve actually been working on this post on and off for two hours, in between cleaning, reading Sym a chapter of Charlotte’s Web and putting her to bed. Now it’s nine-thirty, everyone is asleep (except for my pest of the cat) and it’s the quietest part of my week. I guess that’s why I tend to leave all my housework for Sunday night- to fill the loneliest hours.

I’m Just Joshin’ Ya*

*this is what my older bother used to say after he’d played a particularly good joke on me or one of my sisters.

Around my house, I’m pretty famous for playing super awesome tricks and pranks on my husband that more often than not go horribly awry, and usually not in my favour. Things like when I buttoned myself into the duvet cover with my head sticking out and my hands and feet in the corners and tried to walk across the apartment like a big… rectangular… blanket… monster? I’m not exactly sure what my plan was, but I barely made it out of the dining room before I fell over on a beanbag chair and laughed until I got a cramp. Others work out perfectly, like when Taylor was in the shower and I discretely filled a jug with freezing cold water from the sink and threw it on him, or when we were sharing an intimate moment and I thought it would be a great idea to purposefully make a really weird face. Like, seriously weird.

Sometimes my jokes have mixed results, like the time I was being a horrible shrewish nag about something really boring, like cleaning the oven. I felt bad about it, so when Taylor went to the store to buy Easy-Off I drew a Snidely Whiplash mustache on my face, and when he got back I pretended we were having a normal conversation- for about five seconds until I burst out laughing. I say this one had mixed results because although I achieved my goal of relieving the oven-cleaning tension, I used waterproof eyeliner to draw on the mustache and it took some seriously solid scrubbing to get it off.

Tonight Taylor and I were laying in bed talking about important things (dogs, preschool teachers I know, and whether or not my eyeball would get infected from the shard of claw I got in it while trimming the cat’s nails) and I decided it would be really fun to take a great big swig of water from my water bottle and then drool it on myself slowly while Taylor was talking. Unfortunately, I almost immediately started giggling, but I couldn’t open my mouth because I would have sprayed water everywhere. I couldn’t swallow it because I was laughing and it definitely would have gone down the wrong pipe, and I couldn’t spit it back into the bottle because the neck was too small. So I did the only logical thing: I pressed my face against Taylor’s shoulder and drooled it all over him and all over the bed and then laughed until I collapsed. Seriously, if laughter is the best medicine then I have NOTHING to worry about with that cat claw infected eyeball thing. Besides, Claire said she was sorry about that.

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Oh yeah. She loves me. And WOW the top of my hair looks blonde here!

Baby Madness! and Financial Crisis: OVER

Today I took care of my former client Rachelle’s 7-week-old daughter Maya, and now I think I have the baby madness! I kind of had it before, but this morning as I sat holding this little wee squidger and she was sighing and making funny baby faces at me I was just like, OW MY OVARIES. I told Taylor we should have a baby boy and name him Jeremy. Jeremy Laramie. Say it out loud.

Also, the other month Danielle at Sometimes Sweet posted about buying the MbMJ Totally Turnlock Baby Back diaper bag and saving it for when she has a baby, and I thought this was a GENIUS idea. I told my friend Jenn we should each buy one, have some babies, quit working and just concentrate on doing yoga (her) and painting unicorns (me). I was totally broke at the time (financial crisis, ya know) and then once I was less broke the black was sold out and it was only available in caramel. No offense to Marc Jacobs but the caramel colour is sick. It looks like the inside of a baby’s diapers. Gross. HOWEVER, this morning on some strange whim I thought to check if the black was back in stock and not only is it in stock BUT it’s also on sale for $206 (regularly it’s of $458, that’s like 55% off!). WHAT THAT IS CRAZY. Even with all the extra charges (tax, duty, delivery) it was under $300 USD. Soooooooooo yeah, I totally ordered it. I figure if I don’t end up having another baby I can just sell it, or use it to carry a little dog around in. This is a no-lose situation. Edit: I had to call and verify my address so they could finish processing my order and the customer service rep had the most adorable southern accent.

As for my financial crisis, it is over, thank goodness! I did book that new client to start in March and I have all her paperwork and her deposit cheque already. Even more importantly, though, the family who I had to give notice to in December is back! Through no fault of their own, their child care subsidy payments were been cancelled by the government and I ended up not getting paid for November and December (which is why I gave notice- I mean, how long would you work for free?), but I let them know that should the matter be resolved I would be more than happy to look after their son again. Last Thursday I was checking the mail and there it was: a new subsidy authorization form. And it was backdated to November! I faxed the claim forms right away and today two and a half months worth of fees were direct deposited into my severely depleted chequing account. Hooray!

Get in Shape, Girl

A year ago I was in the most awesome shape of my life- I was eating (fairly) well and working out six days a week (including with a trainer. Of course, this was all because I was getting married in Hawaii and I wanted to look my best, and it totally worked. Since then… well, let’s just say I kind of fell off the workout wagon. I’m definitely not the same shape I was back then, and bikini season is coming way early this year- in less than two months we’re going back to Hawaii. I’ve been going sporadically but it’s time to start ding regular workouts again.

Taylor and I decided that this week was the week we were for sure going to start going back to the gym, effective yesterday, but we came up with some pretty good reasons to blow it off. He was going to go in the morning after work, but it was raining and he didn’t want to go back out, and once it stopped raining he’d eaten the world’s largest bowl of soup and was too full. I was going to go after Sym went to bed but we had dinner late, so bedtime was late, and I still had to go grocery shopping and pick up some stuff at the drugstore. By the time I was done all that I was exhausted, it was already close to 10pm and I really just wanted to spend time with my husband.

Trying to fit workouts into my schedule has always been difficult. I can’t go in the morning (I start work too early) and it’s too busy after work, plus I have parenting responsibilities. Usually I go after bedtime (like I was planning to last night) but that means not spending time with Taylor since he would have to stay home and step-parent. When I was going six days a week I literally never saw him, except for the rare times we could work out together- Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings, plus Sunday mornings. Running on adjacent treadmills isn’t really the most quality of quality time! It’ll be us tonight though- no more excuses!

Vegetable Adorable & the Salad Days

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More tiny foods! Extra-small orange bell peppers, grape tomatoes and mini cucumbers. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the peppers, but the other two I use to make this cute salad:

Salad by TanieThis picture was actually from last summer, and I used a regular cucumber. This resulted in a lot of waste, a problem eliminated by using mini cucumbers.

Making vegetables fun with interesting or unusual shapes and sizes is a great way to get otherwise-picky children to eat them, and using mini-cookie cutters (I got mine at Yokoyaya123) makes it fast and easy.

2-3 mini cucumbers, sliced and cut into shapes
1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup cooked frozen corn, chilled
1 tbsp lemon juice (I hate 99% of salad dressing)

What I’ve Been Reading

I’m not reading this book but I made Taylor get a picture of it because the cover was too amazing:

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I guess now we know what’s wrong with the economy: Deatheaters. You put down that real estate market right now, Lucius Malfoy!

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The Center of Winter, 2/104
On Friday night I finished reading Marya Hornbacher’s The Center of Winter. I’ve read it before but I still really like it, and not just because I loved Wasted back in the day, like all teenage girls with weird, disordered eating habits.

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Spook Country, 3/104
Currently I’m reading Spook Country and eurgh, I’m really not feeling it. It’s Taylor’s book, not mine, and I’ve actually gotten further in it than he did. I read a bunch of William Gibson’s stuff way back in the olden days of the 90s and I liked it well enough, so maybe this one’ll be okay in the end too. It has about 250 more pages in which to redeem itself.

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Even though I’m not supposed to be buying books right now I still went with Taylor to the bookstore on Saturday so he could pick up a birthday card, and I totally slipped and bought World War Z to read next, oops!

Lazy Weekend

I think I really spent more time asleep than awake this weekend! I keep trying to past the weird schedule I was on during the holidays but every weekend it comes creeping back.

Friday night was Family Fun Night, we ordered pizza, watched some Sailor Moon and played Apples to Apples. I thought it would be kind of lame playing with Sym since she’s only eight and doesn’t know what half the cards are, but I swear she’s like some sort of Apples to Apples savant. Even when she threw down random cards it would turn out to be eerily perfect or hilarious. Taylor ended up winning the game, but I think I laughed the most. After Symphony went to bed I worked a little on a painting and then Taylor and I watched the first two episodes of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. If you haven’t seen it it’s a Bristish show from about five years ago, except it’s supposed to be a program from the 1980s that never aired- until now. here are the opening titles to give you an idea of what it’s like:

Saturday I slept in and then spent the day doing I don’t even know what. I think Sym and I did some work on our Farmville farm, and I made bagel BLTs for lunch. After Symphony’s dad picked her up Taylor and I went out shopping so he could get a birthday gift for our friend Rich. I picked up a grey tri-blend raglan pullover from American Apparel which I proceeded to wear for almost the whole rest of the weekend, until I spilled cranberry juice down the front. I also got Symphony some new socks at H&M, idk how but all her socks are disappearing at an exponential rate. She was down to all odd socks, so I made sure she brought home any socks that had been left at her dad’s, but they were all different odd socks so she sill had no pairs.

On Saturday night we went to dinner for Rich’s birthday- we were late because as usually I underestimated how long it would take to straighten my hair. I wore my new top with dark skinny jeans, grey platform heels and my black crystal bead necklace. the shoes would prove to be my downfall as later in the evening I would almost fall over in them, and, when we were heading home I ended up having to take them off and run across Burrard Street in my bare feet to get a cab. Note to self: next time, wear flats. Anyway the dinner was pretty funny- there was a hockey game that night and the whole restaurant was filled with another birthday party that seemed to mostly consist of screaming sports fans. After watching Vancouver lose in a shootout we headed back to Rich and Jenn’s apartment for drinks and cake, but I think we came home quite early. As it turned out, Taylor had fallen asleep during Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace the night before so I found the episode he’d missed on youtube and we watched it in bed.

Except for going out for brunch, I spent almost the whole of Sunday in bed until the evening, when I had to get up and clean the apartment. Since I have to keep the place clean during the week I often have a hard time motivating myself to tidy anything on the weekends, so it often turns into a total disaster area. Sometimes I’m too drained on Sunday night to accomplish much and have to get up extra-early on Monday to finish up, but luckily that wasn’t the case last night so this morning I got to snooze my alarm twice!

Choosing Child Care can be Complicated

I have a love/hate relationship with alliterative blog post titles.

Yesterday I had my first prospective client meeting of the year, and I’m happy to say it went perfectly! The mom brought her little girl over during nap time and we ended up talking for over an hour. The kids I was looking after yesterday woke up before they left so she got to see me interacting with children other than her own, and also see her baby interacting with the children who already come here. Barring complications I’ll have a new one-year-old baby starting at the daycare in the last week of February. Yay!

During our meeting, the mom said one of my favorite things: “I really like talking with you and your whole setup here and I feel good about leaving my baby with you.” I can literally never hear that too many times! Wooing new clients is tricky; first-time moms are justifiably nervous and skittish about leaving their precious wee baby with a total stranger who they picked off a list. I do get some clients via referrals from other families I work/have worked with, or from acquaintances or other child cares, but most people who call me have gotten my child care’s name and number from the Child Care Resource and Referral Centre, which keeps a list of all the registered and licensed child cares in the city.

There are tons of things for a parent to consider when selecting a child care, practical things like:
Are the hours suitable for the family’s needs?
I’m open from 7:45 until 5:15 so obviously someone who starts work at 7am or doesn’t get off until 6pm wouldn’t choose to send their child here, but someone who works from 8am until 5pm could easily drop their child off and pick him or her up on time.
Are the fees reasonable/within the parents’ ability to pay?
My fees are about average for the part of the city I live in, but like most things in Vancouver, child care isn’t cheap.
Is the child care conveniently located?
It totally is! My apartment is in a nice residential neighborhood in the West End, near parks and schools, but also within walking distance to the business, financial and shopping districts.

While these things are all important, the most important thing of all is this: Do the parents like and trust the child care provider enough to leave their child with them? If someone had a daycare half a block from you and charged well below the average fee, but the provider gave you the creeps or seemed nasty, you would probably keep looking! This is why I like people to come by to meet me and see the space, even if they don’t need child care right away. I had one client who, before coming here, had been 99% sure she was going to go with this one daycare. After a year of emails and phone calls, she finally went over to see the child care in person and the place was filthy and smelled bad and the provider had a weird vibe. It could have been super nice and fun for the kids there, but the parent didn’t feel comfortable so she ended up starting her daycare search all over again.

When selling prospective clients on choosing my child care over another, what I’m really selling them on in me. Is my apartment clean and safe enough for their child, with plenty of room to play and grow? Do I provide fun and suitable games and activities for children of that age group? Am I going to take good care of their baby for them, love and nurture him or her while they, the parents, are at work? How can you even tell that about a person when meeting them for the first time, talking for 30 or 40 minutes?

I really can’t even imagine, I didn’t have to worry about this when Symphony was a baby. I didn’t go back to work until she was three, and when I did start working part-time she first went to my friend Jenny’s child care downstairs from our old apartment, and when I went full-time she started going to the YMCA group daycare two doors down. I had seen both Jenny and the women who worked at the group daycare interacting with kids every day for years before my daughter ever went to those daycares. I guess I was pretty lucky then, but I’m also pretty lucky now, that I’m one someone who people do trust to take care of their kids, so I get to do this great job!

I Thought I Heard a Baby in Here

Vacation time is over! I was kind of dreading getting back to work this week, mostly because the ridiculous 3 to 10:30 am sleep schedule I’ve been on for the last couple weeks really doesn’t mesh well with my 7:45 to 5:15 work day. I had to get up extra early this morning to tidy up. For some reason last night I started building my new bookcase and rearranging some furniture, and I left a huge mess in my wake. Yesterday I decided to turn the nap room (a small-ish third bedroom used only for the daycare kids to nap in) into a mancave-slash-study for Taylor, so in the middle of sawing and drilling bits of wood I dragged the grey couch in there from the library. It was totally stupid too, since the couch is too big to fit on the south wall where I want it, but at least it gives me more room in the library to practice my woodworking and cabinetry skills!

It’s actually been an alright day so far, mostly because I only have two kids to look after right now. This is nice because less kids obviously equals less work, and also the opportunity to do lots of things around the house I would never get around to otherwise. For example, this morning I repacked some books into smaller boxes while the 2 1/2-year-old played Legos and the 16-month-old supervised me and critiqued my work. Right now they’re both snoozing away- having a workday with a scheduled nap is great, even if I’m not the one napping! It gives me time to catch up on housework, have my own relaxed lunch and sometimes, just sit on the couch and read. And write blog posts, of course.

Of course, having less kids in the daycare has its drawbacks, or rather one huge drawback: I am totally broke! For some reason I just started hemorrhaging clients last fall, not because of me, just different things for each family. One little boy left in September to attend the same suburban child care as his older sister, another little boy left in November because his mom had a new baby and it was more practical for them to have a nanny, a girl left in December because her mom had a baby as well (seriously, if you’d like to get pregnant with your second child, send your first to my daycare. One of my current clients is pregnant right now as well!), and due to complicated financial issues another little boy is gone. At the same time, there seems to have been a real lack of people looking for child care, so out of the four that left I only filled one spot. My neighbor who also does childcare had the same problem, she was down to I think one part-time client. I’ve been walking around like Abby Elliot’s Angelina Jolie asking everybody if they have any babies, because I could always use more babies. Did someone say baby? I thought I heard a baby in here.

However, this morning started out with my first prospective client call of the year, and we have a meeting set up for tomorrow. I always like people to come by and meet me and see the space as a soon as possible, even if they don’t need child care for months and months or even years (I already have someone on my waiting list for spring 2011), but this woman is looking for child care for late February, which would be great. Everyone keep your fingers crossed that this one works out- I had a few meetings in November and December but nothing came of them- because really, I could always use more babies!