metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
Ada is ten days old today. She's 10% heavier than at birth, doing all the infant things, looking around a bunch, and has completely skipped "newborn" as a clothing size. I think I have the transition to parental leave more or less down this time — a few days of leave before the birth were a nice ease-in, and now I'm definitely coffee-powered but I've more or less hit my stride. I've been getting out on errands and park adventures with the kids and look forward to hanging out with lovely people (and their kids where applicable) in local parks. The older kids are having some adjustment pains — Viv is angling for mama cuddles and frustrated when there's a baby in the way, and both of them require a long wind down to sleep at the end of the day.

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, [livejournal.com profile] 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.
metawidget: Sticker saying "you are beautiful" on a black background. (beautiful)
Note to self and allergist: I'm getting eye allergy symptoms for the first time this year; oral meds seem to take the edge off for now but I have drops if I need them.

We had a midwife appointment today; got the home birth kit and a clean bill of health for fetus and mama.

Roofing materials are appearing in our driveway. Our midwife doesn't think roof work will cramp her style.

Stewarding is busy lately. It is performance agreement season. Correlation noted.

I am feeling pretty happy with and connected to people at work. I will miss them over parental leave; I hope we will find time to hang out.

In other news, I gave bow tie advice to a barista yesterday; that was fun.
metawidget: Oscar and Vivien on a couch (Oscar 2.25 years, Vivien 4 mos) (kids)
Woo! Two kids with a pediatrician! It's like we have universal health care for kids or something in Quebec.

Also, I managed to beat the top-ranked player at Scrabble yesterday — most memorable plays were "WEES" (I wasn't sure it took an "S") and "MATUREd" across a triple and emptying my rack.

ETA: Our dishwasher is also working thanks to some help from [personal profile] dianora, and I replaced our toilet flapper (I think the term "univesal flapper" has a nice ring to it). Yay, fixed things!

Year Lists

Aug. 11th, 2013 03:52 pm
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Well, I think I managed on average to floss about half of the days in year #33, and I've had a lighter touch with the filters online and in person. I think this was a four- or five- massage bar year and I got somewhat better at bringing back beer bottles. The mortgage breathed its last in May, and now our "make the house warmer and the kitchen fit us better" fund is growing fast and I'll be closing in on my RRSP deduction limit. We have a six-foot wooden fence with a gate that Oscar keeps figuring out as we secure it better (now he just wriggles under it), but at least he's down to one choke-point, and we did try! On the stuff I didn't do so well in from last year's list, I didn't get that check-up (no family doctor and not quite enough drive to get it done at a walk-in clinic), and I don't know that I made any big strides in relationship communication — appreciation, I think, and adventures, for sure, and some fine-tuning in timing and medium, but it's something I can still try to work on.

In the no-deadline parts of the list, we increased doctor coverage from zero of us to Vivien, and maybe Oscar in the fall. I started a new position, for which I'm learning a bunch of stuff and alternating between feeling competent and feeling like I just opened an overstuffed closet and the top shelf fell on me. My aches and pains had a good go at me in the spring, but I think I'm done with sciatica for a while and feeling generally as good as I was at last list time. In improving the house, we got a dishwasher, which might count, and I fixed the back stairs last week — their surprise collapse would've been hard on the comfort of whoever was on them at the time. The kids are gaining competence at a frightening pace and Oscar declared he wanted hugs and fire for his birthday party, so we're doing something right even as I feel I could use more patience and humour sometimes.

Here's what I would like to achieve in the next year:
  • Keep up the flossing.
  • Communicate better in relationships.
  • Continue to wear through massage bars.
  • Make the house cheaper to heat, either with insulation or a heating system upgrade, or both.
  • Getting a GP and a checkup/vaccination update might be a tall order, but I will attempt to start allergy shots so I'm popping fewer antihistamines next summer. If I can do allergies and deferred maintenance, all the better.
  • Somehow fix the Wike's stroller mode. As it is, the walking wheel doesn't hold up under our frequent use — three bolts to one frame member is no match for the leverage exerted by bumps and curbs.
  • Give the promotion process this fall my best shot, and accept whatever comes of it gracefully.
  • Reach out to a few more people at work in the hope of developing a new friendship or two.


Here are some longer-term things:
  • Round out home heating improvements and make the kitchen suit us better.
  • Raise competent, well-adjusted kids. Do so with good humour, love and trust in them.
  • Take care of my body and try and make my list of aches and pains not increase monotonically.
  • Get family doctors for all of us in the household.
  • Continue to like my job, be good at it, and be worthy of the respect of my co-workers.
  • Keep learning new things, and consolidate dabbling into competent in new areas from time to time.


I hope I'll do at least as well between now and next birthday as I did in the last year or so.
metawidget: Person sitting cross-legged from the rear, in black and white with noise and scratches (body)
It has been forever since I did a good/blah entry. Life is pretty good, really. Way back when, I did these every 20 entries, so that there would always be one on the first page of my entries. Maybe I'll get back up to that pace again.


GoodBlah
  • We're within a payment of being done with the mortgage — we lucked out on interest rates and help and nice stable professional employment, and now we're looking at owning our place outright. It feels good.
  • Everyone here (human and cat) is currently pretty healthy (even my leg is feeling progressively better)!
  • Both kids are learning fun and exciting new skills.
  • I feel like I'm doing pretty well on my year list, including the long-term stuff.
  • Taxes are more or less done, and look to be in good shape: a refund but not a gigantic one.
  • I took my wedding band to the ring shop, and now it fits (my fingers have gotten more slender since 2008) and it got a complimentary shine as well.
  • I'm happily married to one awesome and beautiful person, and happily dating another.
  • Less than two months of parental leave left. Work will be kind of exciting, but the transition back could be rough.
  • World Vision keeps sending increasingly over-the-top fundraising pules. We got a great big envelope containing an bubble envelope containing a spoon and a measuring tape that they would like us to mail back to them (with a donation) for them to ship to Africa. I gave to World Vision in honour of my Christian relatives who are fans of them. Next in-honour donation will be to MSF or the Canadian Red Cross — close enough in the useful stuff they do, and at least their fundraising stuff is flat.
  • Feeling a bit sciatic-y, a little creaky in the knees and occasionally elsewhere, I think due to moving over winter footing with kids and groceries and stuff. I hope it clears up with better conditions.
  • There are always cool things I'd like to do, and don't make time for. Getting one or both kids to sleep and/or securing babysitting makes this one a little harder.

2012

Dec. 30th, 2012 05:50 pm
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)
Here's the semi-standardized questionnaire applied to 2012 — it was a pretty intense year in some ways.

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.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Not too long ago, we decided to get our worn-out chain-link fence replaced with a proper wood one, for privacy and reduced climb-ability. Elizabeth has been wanting to do this for a while, but this fall I did the research, we decided not to DIY it, I found someone to do it (serendipitously through a co-worker), worked out the cost and where the money was coming from, and let Chris and his assistant Aaron go at it. We weren't sure whether the weather would co-operate with a fence done before winter, but it did, and now we have a nice, solid, tall fence with a person-sized gate and a yard that feels a bit more enclosed.
metawidget: Oscar in a diaper, crouching as if to fit into the frame and looking quizzical (oscar ducking into frame)

A week ago, we went up to my parents' place for my brother's birthday and to visit. Here are a few pictures featuring Oscar, my dad, and some dogs from that weekend:

Oscar and a big shaggy dog in the garden
three more )

After long months of teethiness with no teeth, Elizabeth has at last felt and spotted molars coming in for Oscar. He's also extra-teethy, but now there is a light (and an almost-full set of teeth) at the end of the tunnel. Vivien has little incisor tips poking through, so we won't lack for teething kids for some time, of course. I guess we have early-teeth genes.

I had a revelation in Oscar psychology a few days back — when Vivien starts flailing her arms and legs, Oscar sometimes runs in, says "no!" and holds down her limbs. We had no idea why he didn't feel she had a right to move her arms and legs for some time, but then I realized that when Oscar is kicking me while I'm trying to get him to bed, I will respond by saying "no kicking!" and holding his legs to stop him from kicking for a few seconds. Unintended consequences and kids having reasonable logic to their actions strike again.

Vivien looks like she'll have rolling figured out soon. No more always finding here where we put her down; we'll have to be choosier about her resting spots! Also, she's smilier almost every day, it feels like.

We're getting close to hiring someone to put in a nice, solid, hard-to-climb privacy fence to replace the rickety chain-link one we have. Maybe it'll even be done by the end of the year!

Year List

Oct. 26th, 2012 03:55 pm
metawidget: Person sitting cross-legged from the rear, in black and white with noise and scratches (body)

I've been carrying around a list in my head of things to do while I'm 32 years old; now I'm committing it to the Internet. I've seen bucket lists and life lists, but the time horizon doesn't speak to my procrastination-prone and tactical nature, and I of course see New Year's resolutions, but I think going by my years rather than calendar years is more personal, and protects me a little from the list elements being fresh when the invariable collapse of many resolutions happens in late January. Also, some elements of the list were really dear and salient to me in the summer, so it made sense to hang them on my birthday (even if it's taken months to post them here). So, here are the things I would like to do or improve significantly this year:

  • Floss more days than not.
  • Make a conscious and courageous-when-necessary effort to improve my relationships in ways that make me happy.
  • Make deeper use of this journal, as part of trying to be less guarded with people that I trust.
  • Wear through multiple massage bars.
  • Get the deposit back on beer bottles at smaller intervals and more reliably.
  • Wipe out the mortgage and direct the resulting savings to a mix of responsible and fun things.
  • Replace the chain-link fence with a durable, attractive, Oscar-resistant one.
  • Get a check-up this year and renew my vaccinations; it's been too long on both counts.

In general, I think I have more guiding values than long-term specific goals, but here are some things (somewhere between values and goals) on a longer time scale.

  • Have fewer secrets.
  • Be entrusted with more secrets.
  • Raise competent, well-adjusted kids. Do so with good humour, love and trust in them.
  • Make our house more comfortable, energy-efficient and adjusted to us.
  • Take care of my body and try and make my list of aches and pains not increase monotonically.
  • Get family doctors for all of us in the household.
  • Continue to like my job, be good at it, and be worthy of the respect of my co-workers.
  • Keep learning new things, and consolidate dabbling into competent in new areas from time to time.
metawidget: Co-sleeping kid taking up as much space as possible between co-awake parents. (co-sleep)
We sprung Vivien from the hospital this afternoon. We're all home together, for the first time since Wednesday evening.
metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)
On August 2 at 8:52 PM, Vivien Kaye Hortop came into the world at the Gatineau hospital. She is small but fierce: 2120 grams and was 47 cm long at birth, she arrived with a yell and set to feeding quickly thereafter. Vivien and Elizabeth are still at the hospital for observation of Vivien, but mother and daughter are in fine shape and we hope to have everyone back home in the days to come.

We are grateful to the midwives at the Maison de naissance de l'Outaouais and the nurses and doctors on the third floor at the Gatineau hospital, whose expertise and kindness have been invaluable in the past days and months. We are also grateful to Marna Nightingale for taking Oscar on short notice during the birth and taking care of him for considerably longer than she may have had in mind at the outset while the situation evolved.
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

[livejournal.com profile] stalkingsilence provided me with seven questions:

What is your current favourite song?
I think "Shake it Out", by Florence + The Machine. It's ludicrously catchy, anyway.
What is your ultiamate comfort food?
Galumptious Mac and Cheese, or maybe a bit too much Bridge Mixture. But there is lots of good comfort food out there, so it is hard to choose.
What book are you currently reading? Or what book would you like to read but haven't yet?
I just finished The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. It was a fun read; I think the characters were more relatable and had more interesting problems than in Oryx and Crake, but Atwood was still having the same sort of parody-dystopia-building fun.
What's your favourite part of being a dad?
Being a toddler amusement park is pretty fun, and so is realizing that my learning curve is starting to catch up with his (for now).
Favourite Canadian museum that you've visited?
I have a soft spot of the National Gallery. When I didn't live here, I would take a couple of hours to visit it almost every time I came up. I should go back more often now that I live here. It's too bad it isn't free like it used to be — it's a bit of a disincentive, particularly if I may be with an awake toddler with a short attention span, to pay by the visit. Maybe they could charge by the hour!
Describe the best holiday you ever had.
I think our cross-country train trip (wow, I didn't really blog that — here are some pictures, behind Facebook security in Elizabeth's account) may have been a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
What does a typical day off for you look like?
Breakfast could be the usual toast or baked goods, coffee and juice, or Elizabeth might make biscuits or pancakes. I'll manage to get some unstructured time to myself for reading or Internetting while Elizabeth and Oscar take a nap. I'll take Oscar with me on some errands to give Elizabeth a break to practice music. We may go as a family off to some happening out of the house, and we'll almost certainly get some Oscar playtime. I'll catch up on laundry, cat boxes and other chores, and Elizabeth will probably clean a bit and get the dishes under control. It's usually a pretty low-key sort of day off, but it's a nice change of pace.

If you want some questions to get your writing juices flowing, let me know in the comments!

metawidget: [garblegarblescript] Political! Science! for Amusement! [pictures of John A. Macdonald with swirly eyes] (science)

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:

Oscar with a gap front tooth and fingers in his mouth

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 [personal profile] random and [personal profile] 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: [personal profile] 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.

metawidget: A traffic cone and a blue chair sitting in the parking lane of a city street. (art or moving)

There were a few once-a-decade snapshots of living situations out there in blogland lately. In Canada, we have a census twice as often. Here are a few details of what my living situation was around each Census time that I've been alive (including a projection for this year — early May is coming fast!)

1981:
Living in an upstairs flat with my parents in Notre Dame de Grâce, a neighbourhood west of downtown Montreal that almost every English speaker just shortens to NDG (and NDG had a lot of English speakers at the time). Chewing on doors and, at least at census time, the only kid in the house.

Counting myself in… )
metawidget: Co-sleeping kid taking up as much space as possible between co-awake parents. (co-sleep)
Co-sleeping makes a lot of sense for everyone's sense of security, for ease of night-time feeding and changing, and all that, but there is sometimes the issue in the icon over there (LJ users: over here).

Thanks to Hyperbole and a Half for including that panel in Allie's lastest story, and for the cheerfully generous permissions Allie posts her stuff under.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Yesterday Elizabeth, Oscar and I skated (and rode in a stroller, as appropriate) down to Pig Island and back along the Rideau Canal, and had tasty hot food from the Stone Soup truck and ritual beaver tails. No deportation back to Montreal this year :)
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
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 )
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)

It's been a little while since I've summarized what's up in point form.

goodblah
  • Healthy
  • Getting the hang of caring for Oscar and being domestic
  • Put down flagstones in the back yard
  • Gathered a bunch of kale seeds for next year
  • Oscar's first overnight trip to my parents' place went well
  • Pretty prints from [livejournal.com profile] visioluxus arrived in the mail on Tuesday
  • Somehow managed to have seven kinds of cake last weekend, over three fun birthday parties
  • Small bits of preparation for Christmas achieved
  • Visiting J&K (and now R) is always nice — and they always shower us with tasty food.
  • Kind of tired and spacey
  • Missing work a little bit
  • Fussy o'clock seems to be a regular occurrence
  • Rapid-fire wet diapers
  • Joints a little achey

[personal profile] commodorified is already jonesing for Oscar pictures, so here is a new one my mum sent me (from our visit this weekend):
Oscar and his grandpa )

metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
My beer drinking got a little ahead of my reviewing today.

Yesterday, after nailing down a hardwood floor in the nursery-to-be with my friend Marc, I had a Grolsch beer, right out of the fridge and right out of the bottle. I remember them being kind of skunky; I didn't find that as pronounced this time — it could be because it was well-chilled, or maybe they've tweaked the recipe (the distinctive bottle is 50ml smaller than it used to be, too), or maybe my taste buds have gone in new directions since undergrad. The beer did have a bright, untoasted taste with nice bitter notes, and it was very refreshing. I had some zucchini bread with it, but the real pairing was probably sweat.

I think the bottle got my parents to try Grolsch way back when, and the swing-topped reusable bottle is always a bonus — either for one's own brews, or for maple syrup, salad dressing, whatever…

Today, I had Maredsous 8 Bruin, chilled slightly, in a wine goblet, with Elizabeth and Tracy and a game of Settlers of Catan (It was a fun evening of supper, game and chat, and Elizabeth won). It is a brown beer with a big, stiff head. The head is a bit bitter and airy, and the first taste of liquid beer is dominated by bitter. After that, sweet and warm alcohol tastes rise up but the bitter sticks around. It's a substantial-tasting beer, and went well with the cooler weather tonight. I'm beginning to realize that I hadn't given enough credit to Belgian beers — Unibroue's take on the country is tasty as far as it goes, but the originals are a wider and, at least in my sample so far, subtler variety of tasty beers.

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