A Week at the Ponderosa

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Family Photo

It was great spending a week with my parents at their off-the-grid home in Manitoba (read their homesteading blog). It was the first visit for Astrid and Emily’s first time being there in the summer (I think she prefers the mosquitoes to the -40 C and snow). The house is still under construction, but is looking great. Since Christmas, they’ve added gorgeous wood railings that my dad made (you can imagine how much work it is to sand and install all those spindles) and cork flooring on the main floor.

Railings

Handmade wood railings

Blocks

Now there is lots of room for kids to play.

Sardines

And still plenty of hiding spots for a game of sardines.

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Sad Farewells

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Peter and Joyce Coulson

A few weeks ago we travelled to Manitoba to say farewell to my grandmother, Baba Coulson. She passed away last December but wanted to be buried in the summer. So on the September long weekend, her family gathered in Sandy Lake to give her a final send off.

Farm Kids

She was an amazing woman and had a big influence on my childhood. My cousins and I (pictured above) spent every summer vacation with her on the farm, having a blast, helping her with the gardening, and growing strong on home cooked food and fresh country air.

Funeral

It was great to have all the family get together to tell stories about Baba and say good bye. It was like a family reunion, with relatives I haven’t seen in over a decade making the trip to Sandy Lake.

Remembering Baba

But a key part of my mom’s family was missing. Auntie Laverne (who everyone affectionately called Weiner) was sick in a Winnipeg hospital and sadly passed away on September 12. We were prepared to say goodbye to Baba, but no one was ready to lose Weiner.

Weiner Baseball

Weiner was the most joyful, fun-loving person you could ever meet. You usually heard her laughing before you saw her and she always had a smile on her face. In a family full of jokesters, she was the Queen of Fun. When you first arrived at the farm, Weiner would often be found leading a band of kids banging spoons on pots to welcome you. At Christmas, her and Uncle Uke gave out the loudest toys as gifts.

Weiner Toys

Some of the musical stuffed animals Weiner gave my mom and Auntie Sheryl over the years as Christmas presents

 

She taught us all to enjoy life to the fullest and always have fun. She left this world too soon and I miss her a lot. Astrid never got to meet her, but I hope she carries a piece of the spark that made Auntie Weiner special. If I ever see a mischievous look in her eye or hear her give a hearty laugh, I’ll think she got it from Weiner.

Kerry, Weiner, and me as a baby

Here’s my mother’s obituary for Laverne Lewandoski (aka Auntie Weiner).

New Parent Adventures: Month Two

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Beach Time
Happy 2 month birthday to our little girl, Astrid. It feels like we’re getting the hang of being parents and she’s establishing a more predictable routine. It hasn’t been all sunshine and beach parties, but things are getting easier, especially over the past 2 weeks.

The biggest change is that we feel more rested and less exhausted than we did last month. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re adapting to life with less sleep or she’s sleeping better. Probably both.

Mobile View

Parenting is becoming less of a chore and more fun. Astrid is more interactive – she smiles, makes happy baby noises, and reacts to sounds and objects around her. She really loves the mobile Emily made for her. When she’s awake and happy she’ll stare it for up to an hour as it slowly spins above her. She also likes hanging out with her stuffed animal friends – Maurice the mischievous monkey, Pauline the perky penguin, and Ekua her elephant spirit guide.

Last week Emily took Astrid to the library for story time. Astrid was the youngest baby there and slept through the whole thing, but Emily learned a bunch of kids songs that she enjoys singing with Astrid.

Animal Party

We still don’t have a life outside of the baby and it’s tough to plan anything. Astrid doesn’t have much of a schedule, except for one day a few weeks ago when Emily freaked about sleep training and tried putting her on a rigid nap schedule. That proved to be more effort than it was worth, so now we’re back to letting her nap when she’s tired.

For the most part she feeds every 2 1/2 hours during the day and spends the rest of the time awake and playful or cat napping. Her only scheduled activity right now is bath time – Wednesday and Sunday evenings around 8 pm. It helps calm her down and sleep better. We try to get her to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.

Bath Time

We’ve been lucky she’s been developing some good overnight sleep habits over the past two weeks, without us having to stress too much about it. Most nights (fingers crossed), she goes to bed at 9 pm and sleeps until 2 or 3 am (a good 5-6 hour stretch). Then she feeds and goes back to sleep until 6 am. At 6 am, I take her and Emily goes back to bed. We do playtime for an hour and then I try to get her to nap for an hour.

Anna, Astrid, and Zoe

During the day, she cat naps for short stretches (up to 30 minutes) in the stroller, carrier, or on the floor with a soother in. The only way to get her to have a long nap is to put her in the swing. It usually knocks her out pretty quickly. I don’t know if that makes us lazy parents or smart parents, but it sure beats having to push the baby around in the stroller. At least this way we can do other stuff, like eat, cook, and watch Netflix, while she’s napping.

Messy Reward Donuts

Astrid is a very regular pooper. A pretty consistent 5 poopy diapers a day, and you have to be careful when changing her because sometimes she tries to sneak one in before the new diaper is on. We’ve started a tradition where you get a donut every time you’re pooped on. It was Emily’s idea (she’s had a few poop explosions while breastfeeding) and I think it’s just an excuse for her to eat more donuts. But she usually gets one for me too (even though I’ve only been peed on), so I’m not going to argue with yummy vegan donuts.

1st Bottle Feeding
My biggest triumph of month 2 is successfully bottle feeding Astrid. I’ve done it 3 times now and it was pretty easy (twice at 6 am while Emily slept). We’re lucky that Astrid has no problem drinking from a bottle. We know a few babies who refuse to.

So the plan is to occasionally pump and I can take care of the odd feeding. That way Emily can leave the baby for more than 2 hours during the day or get a full night’s sleep when she needs it. It’s also nice for me to be involved in the feeding.

Astrid in the Garden

So we’re two months in, Astrid is healthy and happy, and we couldn’t ask for more. She has cradle cap and sensitive skin (she gets heat rashes easily and has some eczema on her legs), but otherwise she’s very healthy and gaining weight and a good rate. We don’t want to jinx it, but she’s a really sweet baby.

Pouty Faces

Vegan Ice Cream Prize Pack

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I won an ice cream prize pack!

All I had to do was take advantage of my daughter’s cuteness and post this picture on Instagram.

Finally sleeping. Time to #RaiseAPint to a peaceful baby. @so_delicious #contest

A photo posted by Christopher Porter (@cdnveg) on

Now we have a sweet ice cream scoop and five free pints of vegan ice cream from So Delicious. And the timing couldn’t be better with the heat wave in Vancouver.

Ice Cream Prize Pack from So Delicious

Powering Your Vehicle in Vancouver

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Downtown Vancouver is home to 100,000 people and some of the most expensive real estate in Canada. And yet pretty soon there will only be a single gas station serving the entire area (the Chevron on Georgia is being sold to developers).

As Anne McMullin points out in the article linked above, “land in the city is too valuable to be saved for a single use”. Because gasoline is volatile, you can’t just slap a condo on top of a gas station.

gas_stations_vancouver

Map of gas stations (via GasBuddy)

However, you can put an electric vehicle charging station just about anywhere. Which is why there are over 50 charging stations in downtown Vancouver.

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Map of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (via ChargeHub)

New Parent Adventures: Baby Tracking App

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Today's Timeline

I’m a proud data nerd, so it probably comes as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of our baby tracking app. It’s the great aid to my sleep deprived brain and the keeper of our daughters history so far – at least all the important statistics like weight (4.9 kg), height (57 cm), and dirty diaper count (445).

We use the Feed Baby app. We paid $4.99 for the Pro version so we could sync data between our phones faster and not have ads but the free version is pretty good. The main competitor, Baby Daybook, looks very similar and I’m not sure there is much that separates them.

Sleep By Day

The app’s main day-to-day feature is helping mothers keep track of what side they’ve most recently breastfed the baby on. It’s also a great aid to help decipher the baby’s moods and answer the some key questions. When was the last time she fed? Is she constipated, when did she last poop? Maybe she’s over-tired, how much has she slept today?

The charts and statistics have been handy for seeing the patterns in her habits. For example, Astrid’s steadily been getting better at sleeping at night, with longer sleeps and less time awake for feedings and diaper changes. Of course we can feel that, but the data really shows that although there has been a few hiccups, her sleep patterns have been steadily improving.

Sleeps Heatmap

It’s also useful for tracking her weight, height, and head circumference and comparing them against standard growth curves. Astrid started off small and lost 10% of her weight in the first 3 days, but has rapidly growing since then.

Growth Chart

There are a bunch of features we haven’t used yet, but will as Astrid gets older – like new teeth and vaccine tracking.

So if you have a newborn, I highly recommend getting a baby tracking app. It will make your as sleep-deprived life much easier.

Wayne Easter and Meat Politics

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cow

As evidence continues to mount that eating meat and dairy is not only detrimental to the planet but also to human health, politicians in Canada are stubbornly committed to supporting the animal agriculture industry.

Take the recent tweets of Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque, PEI & member of Liberal Government of Canada, who proudly tweeted about his meeting with cattle lobbyists.

When he was questioned about the environmental and health impacts of animal agriculture, he responded with: “have a T-bone steak. It will make you feel better”.

Which offended many people and as the outrage mounted he tried the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” defence.

Before claiming that it was hard working farmers and their families that were being attacked, which is ridiculous as all of the replies to his tweets were respectful and focussed on public policy.

Unfortunately the questions that Canadians were asking still remain unanswered. I wonder if anyone in the Liberal Government can explain:

  • Why we subsidize animal agriculture when it is increasingly obvious it is not healthy for humans or the planet?
  • Why does the Canada food guide still have sections “Milk and Alternatives” and “Meat and Alternatives”. If it was based on the best science, it would look like the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which has a section for “Healthy Protein” and it recommends limiting milk consumption.
  • How will Canada meet its climate change commitments made in Paris (to limit global warming to 1.5 C) without reducing the amount of animal products that Canada produces and consumes?

harvard_healthy_plate

New Parent Adventures: First Triumphs and Fails

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There is an excellent parenting podcast called Mom and Dad are Fighting, which starts each episode with the hosts retelling a triumph or failure from the past week (for a taste here is one of my favourites). It’s been 1 month since Astrid was born, and Emily asked me what our triumphs and failures have been. Here are our answers.
Drowzee soothing
Dad’s Triumph: Astrid has been particularly fussy the past few evenings (growth spurt?). I’ve found that wearing her in the Baby Bjorn and slowly walking around the neighbourhood with a gentle bounce soothes her to sleep better than anything else. This alone is a success, but the real triumph is realizing that Pokemon Go is a perfect companion to our walks. Astrid is soothed to sleep and I get some video gaming time. Win-win! Our neighbourhood is a real Pokemon hotspot (and full of Drowzees), so even late at night there’s usually crowds of people around which is comforting.

Mom’s Triumph: When Chris went back to work I was struggling with how to fill my day and how to do errands. I was feeling better physically and wanted to go out and do things, even without a regular schedule. I knew that riding the bus was an essential way for us to expand our radius, but was quite intimidated. I had one particularly urgent errand that forced me to give it a try. Astrid slept the whole way there (yay!) but was wide awake on the way back. As soon as we got on the bus she began to holler. I managed to pick her up and settle her on the bus before putting her back in the stroller and rolling her off at our stop. The most satisfying triumph is one that involves overcoming a little turbulence.🙂

Dad’s Fail: With each day, I’m feeling increasingly worn out. In Astrid’s first week, I would heroically jump out of bed whenever she was fussy and bounce her for as long as it took to get her to sleep. I didn’t care if it took hours. But my heroic moments feel more forced now and after 10 minutes of holding her in my arms my back gets sore; after 20 minutes it starts to go numb; and after 30 minutes I’m spent. I wish I had done more exercises to strengthen my back before she was born. I’ve also managed to lose 5 lbs and I’m not sure where it went.

Mom’s Fail: We were out and about with Astrid in her stroller and decided to drive home in an Evo car sharing vehicle. Since our infant car seat  is the seat part of the stroller, we just popped it off the base and buckled it into the car – super convenient. Chris and I got in the front seats and drove off. About half way home I realized that we never buckled Astrid into the car seat. We don’t strap her in when we’re walking because it scrunches her in so tightly. I drove the rest of the way very carefully, but we probably should have stopped and strapped her in.
False Creek Stroller Walk

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