We have a nice steel roof! We had our moments when we thought we'd get a baby first, but the contractors pulled through and got it done. We had a stressful week or so where work had disrupted electricity to most of the upstairs including our phone and Internet plug — we had a solution involving an extension cord to the kids' room, but we weren't going to leave it plugged in while they slept, so we had greatly reduced communications — in a situation where we might've wanted to round up midwives and child care on short notice, it wasn't the best time for forced simplification, but in the end the contractors' electrician got things working before we really needed them.
The garden delay due to workers was actually a boon to us as the tomato plants weren't in the ground on those chilly nights after Victoria Day. Now we have a nice variety in (thanks for the swaps, wisewomanjudith!) as well as some fancy peppers and eggplant and some humdrum-but-tasty squash (bought from Sarah's new outfit, Beat Greens Gardens).
One small downer is that my allergies are pretty wild lately, even with desloratadine and drops. Maybe it's time to switch meds. What're people finding good these days? Drowsiness hasn't been a side effect I get; Reactine kept me up.
In general, I'm in a groove — a tired one but a good one — and life is pretty good and full of possibilities.
( here be recipes )
It was a fun evening, with eight kids at its peak, and lots of food, conversation and basically managed chaos. I think we may have to do it again; the recipe box has lots more for another round.
- Vivien's first tooth has surfaced! Left central lower incisor, for people keeping score at home. She's still teething-cranky, maybe because it isn't completely in, maybe because there are more coming, or both.
- I think we almost heard a giggle from her last night. Or a chortle. Or something. Close enough.
- Oscar has a new, bigger mattress, courtesy of Shawn who organizes Atelier Denu. He needed the space for books, and was giving it away. Oscar finds it bouncy and acceptable, and it fits in his room without too much furniture rearrangement.
- Oscar's old mattress has been installed in a toddler bed as a "sidecar" beside ours for Vivien. Now we have our bed to ourselves, sort of, and all Elizabeth or Vivien have to do is roll over for baby maintenance.
- We'll all have our first Rideau Canal experience of the year (and lifetime, for Vivien, and maybe Oscar's first one on skates) today, with my parents, my sister, her boyfriend, her boyfriend's parents, my cousin, my cousin-in-law and their son (whew, need a diagram?).
I've been thinking a bit about sort-of-off-label uses of financial objects lately. I bank with RBC (a big bank with lots of branches and ATMs) and ING Direct (whose slogan used to be "save your money" and which is a no-frills Internet bank). Strangely enough, I'm putting most of my savings and investments (and mortgage and credit card) over with RBC, and have found that for long-term saving, ING is kind of mediocre, but that their daily banking is fee-free, highly automatable, and quite convenient (as they have agreements with a bunch of other smaller banks to share ATMs). I think the magic time horizon is about a year — shorter than that, or wanting instant liquidity, and I go with ING, longer than that, or wanting more control over what the investment is in, and I go with RBC.
Another thing I've worked out is that although the yearly limits and long-term labelling of TFSAs would suggest that they're an account for socking away vast (to me) sums for projects on the order of years, I think the optimal use for me is actually kind of short term. I used to get HR to deduct a little extra so that I wouldn't wind up owing come tax time. In the last couple of years, inspired in part by spacefem's post (can't find the entry) reminding us that refunds are really just poorly-performing investments, I decided to stop kicking in extra and instead take the money and sock it away for tax time in my own account — a general "taxes" one that I try and keep ahead of federal, provincial, municipal and school tax obligations as well as missed deductions while I'm on parental leave. RBC helpfully suggested that they could wrap in my school and property taxes with my mortgage payment and pay those over the year, but I decided we may as well earn the interest on that rather than letting them have it. Over a year, all those taxes and contributions waiting to be paid generally accumulate a bunch of interest, enough to generate another slip to file. I'm more against managing another piece of paper in a house with a toddler and crayons as I am for saving the few dollars in income tax that slip obligates me to pay. Because the annual limit on TFSAs ratchets up each year, so long as my taxes stay relatively stable, I should be able to deposit and withdraw on a yearly cycle, earning modest tax (slip) -free interest and keeping me from having to come up with taxes owing. Having a TFSA for taxes owing seems a little perverse, but I think it's a pretty good use of the space.
Last night, we rang in the mid-Atlantic new year with our neighbour, her kids, her sister and mum, stuffing ourselves with tasty food and letting Oscar feed us innumerable clementines. It was a fun evening, and more or less our speed.
Today has been pretty low-key — in the afternoon, Oscar and I trampled/tobogganed an oval track in the backyard snow.
I'm looking forward (in no particular order) to more drawing in the new year, getting back into the patterns of activities outside the house with Oscar (definitely more parent and child in Vanier, and maybe story time at the library if the sign-up is enough for Mondays to run), to more daylight, to catching up with people missed during holiday social madness, to whatever sort of date Elizabeth and I can manage next, to reaping the benefits of Oscar being done teething and to lots of tasty hot beverages.
What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Filed a police report, juggled two kids out solo.
( lots more )
Did I miss any useful questions? I dropped a couple of irrelevant ones, and will be watching the memesphere for stuff to add.
I've been thinking a little bit about chores that usually leave me in a better mood than when I started. Maybe this sort of counts as a gratitude journal, of the sort I've seen floating around lately. Here are some fun tasks that come to mind:
- Driving: I should be careful not to enjoy this gratuitously, but I do like driving, for the most part. For now, it's one of my unique powers in the household, and because we rent whenever we need a car, it's often with a new-to-me vehicle (although I do have my favourites in the local Communauto fleet). I like driving reasonably well, and focusing on the task, or having that slow-paced driving conversation when Elizabeth can make it to the front seat.
- Hanging laundry: Especially outside — it's going to be breezy, sunny or both and dry if it's hanging-outside weather; it can be quiet or I can eavesdrop on or converse with the neighbours or just be alone with my thoughts or a sleeping baby in the carrier. There are just enough finicky details I like to get right that it's not drudgery.
- Cooking supper: I've sort of adopted this task most nights. I love improvising with what's in the fridge, riffing off something tasty I've had or read about. I like cooking with the radio on.
- Carrying sleeping toddler: I seem to have the touch for this one, and getting Oscar to sleep on purpose is still often a bit of a battle, so when he's passed out en route somewhere, this is satisfying and useful. I'm losing the touch for carrying sleeping toddler during the day, though.
Life without owning a car is something that gets enough questions asked of me that I thought I'd post a few things about it. Also, I like reading this sort of thing from other people (hi, asimplelife!), so I thought I'd give back.
So, for starters, here's the situation: I live with my wife and toddler son in an older residential neighbourhood in Hull. We're within walking distance of most of the basic necessities of life, none of us have any mobility-reducing disabilities. I've got the lone driver's license in the household.( the details )
When Oscar was on the way, we heard predictions that we'd be buying a car (or maybe even a minivan!) soon 'cause young kids require cars — we (well, mostly I) did consider getting one (by buying or hand-me-down), but so far we're managing pretty well with a toddler and all the options we have. I know of one co-worker who's thriving with school-aged children and no car, too, so apparently parents in the right situation can manage with multiple kids and not owning a car.
I guess that's a fairly broad picture of how we manage transportation in our little family. I've been wanting to write that out for a while, I hope it's useful or interesting to some people out there...
So, Monday after I left for work, Oscar managed to face-plant into the dresser upstairs, tooth-first. Elizabeth brought him in to our dentist office, who is just across the street from work, and a nice dentist and technician took a look at the damage and decided that the (90-degree-tilted) tooth would need pulling. I got to hold Oscar (due to slightly less flappability with respect to other people's blood than Elizabeth, i guess). After a little bit of futzing around with topical anaesthetic, the dentist went for the quick approach and plucked the tooth out with gloved fingers. Oscar was highly disconcerted for a few minutes, and I was a little woozy from watching, but by the time we'd walked a few blocks to get some air and acquire some lunch, Oscar was almost back to normal.
Here's Oscar with seven teeth, down from eight:
Elizabeth and I were planning on having a date night on Monday, but having had surprise dentist dealings, we decided to put it off by a few days. In the end, we left Oscar with random and fairestcat Friday night, and went into Little Italy for supper, beer and creamy desserts. Pub Italia is tasty, gloriously decorated and very busy on a Friday — we had a nice meal, some good eavesdropping and a little walk in the chilly autumn air. Some couple time was really nice. Yesterday, Elizabeth's cousin came by for supper and I fired up the Turkish grill (now safely on a pad of a few inches of gravel in a dug hole) and grilled veggie burgers in an attempt to extend summer into September. It was the first time I really got to meet her, as meeting anyone at your own wedding never counts. She seems nice and fun — she had a daughter at 18, and one thing she mentioned struck us both: her daughter will probably be out of the house by the time she's 36, and she mused about "starting again" with another kid. It's unlikely we consider having another kid when Oscar is likely launched and I'm 48.
This week, I'm off to the Washington, D.C. area for a couple of days to attend a short course on disclosure control. It'll be my first time in the U.S. since 2004. I got a fresh passport, I'm partly packed, and I'm looking forward to my more-or-less-annual work-related trip. My mission is more or less to get the big picture and soak up best practices at the course, and meet other people working in the field. I'll try and explore a little bit, too: fairestcat suggests wandering in the National Mall, and if some fellow guardians of respondent privacy in released data decide to see something cool in the evening, I'll probably see what they're excited about.
Even when I'm not on the road, work is pretty stimulating lately — building and disclosure vetting small-geography cancer incidence tables, welcoming new people, agitating to get the computer infrastructure set up to do record linkage better, trying to prepare to help teach a one-day course in November. Part time — the reduced time and the paperwork — is a bit stressful, but for now it gives Elizabeth a bunch of margin to work, take on new students, and have shorter days holed up with Oscar on a regular basis.
Fathered a child (well, I guess some salient bits were done in 2009), grew peas, built a hardwood floor, drafted a will, published a statistics paper, took a train in business class, drove a pickup truck.
( thirty-seven more )
We then wandered into town, chatted up some friendly shopkeepers, and started on a bit of Christmas shopping. Wakefielders seem to be almost universally friendly.
Upon returning home, I made some celery root salad while Elizabeth washed the dishes.
Last night we made some recycled ornaments from aluminum cans. Embossing them with ball-point pens gives a really nice effect.
A week from tomorrow, I'll be in Peterborough doing a survey. Two weeks from yesterday, Elizabeth will be performing at The Spill in Peterborough, at 3 p.m., and two weeks from today, she'll be doing her thing at Tranzac in Toronto, at 7 p.m. If you're in the area, be there or be square!