We had a scary incident on Sunday morning. Emily woke up to me running into the room with a screaming toddler yelling, “There’s blood!”
Astrid was standing on the couch, playing with her new bike helmet, which unfortunately wasn’t on her head, when she slipped backwards and fell. Her head hit the corner of the wall awkwardly and with enough force to leave a crack in the wall.
She only cried for a few minutes and the bleeding wasn’t too bad, but it left a 2 cm gash on her head. If it had been anywhere else on her body, a bandage would have probably been enough but we took her into the hospital for stitches.
She was a real trooper. You could tell it was painful when they were washing out the wound and cleaning her up, but she gritted her teeth and never cried.
Luckily the hospital wasn’t too busy, because we were pretty low on the priority list. They froze the wound first to stop any bleeding. Then they used skin glue to close it up and braided some of her hair across the wound to act as extra stitches (very clever!).
After the hospital, Astrid was back running around and being her energetic self. She even went to a birthday party in the afternoon. But Sunday night she got a fever right before bed and was complaining about a headache. We gave her ibuprofen to help her sleep, but she was bad again at 4 am when it wore off.
We went back to the hospital because our discharge instructions told us to look out for a fever as a sign the wound had become infected. Apparently Monday at 6 am is the ideal time to go to the hospital. We didn’t have to wait for a room, a nurse, or a doctor. Turns out the fever was just an unrelated virus. Astrid was back in bed by 6:45 that morning and healthy again within 24 hours.
We have a lot of family and friends in Southern Ontario. More than we could possibly see in one trip, but we did our best to catch up with people we haven’t seen in a long time (in some cases over 10 years). It was a whirlwind 10 day trip, but it was great to see people again, meet their families for the first time, and catch up.
We rented a car for the first few days and visited all the suburban friends in Milton, Kitchener, Mississauga, and Grand Valley.
Then we settled into an Airbnb in Toronto for a week, with more friends and family to visit. It was our first time meeting our niece Layla (one of the main motivators for the trip to Ontario).
There wasn’t a lot of free time, but we did get to explore the Toronto waterfront and take Astrid to the ROM.
Astrid did really well with all the new people, the rushed days, the lack of consistency, and the time change. She was pretty hyper at bedtime most nights, but once we got her settled she slept well. We did almost all of her naps on the go in the car seat or stroller. She really enjoyed playing with the other kids, especially the babies, and she held her own with the older kids too.
If you live in or near Toronto and we didn’t get a chance to see you, I’m sorry. You’ll just have to visit us in Vancouver (where you don’t need to wear toques in May 😛).
Spring has been good to our family. We’ve had beautiful weather in Vancouver, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, we planted our garden, Astrid’s asthma is under control, and we spent a beautiful Easter weekend in Kamloops.
And we got rid of all of our diapers! Back in November, Astrid started wearing underwear during the day and pullups at night, but now she’s officially done with diapers at night too (as of March 24th). She’s been consistently sleeping through the night dry with only one accident early on. It certainly makes parenting a lot easier not having to worry about diaper changes anymore.
Easter in Kamloops was a real family adventure, with my parents joining the grandkids for the fun. Unfortunately, a stomach bug also showed up. As we were driving to Kamloops we got word that my father was throwing up and had diarrhea. Having had Norovirus twice this year already, I should have turned the car around but we were committed. Two days after arriving, I found myself heaving into a toilet. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad and the kids were all spared.
As is always the case when Astrid gets to visit her cousins, they had a blast playing together. With Nora walking and talking, the ability gap between the 3 of them has really shrunk.
We went to the park, made pizza, played games, and had an easter egg hunt in the backyard. Jacob and Astrid were excellent egg finders this year – I’m going to have to make it a bit harder next year.
We did have an asthma / allergy scare while in Kamloops. On the second night, Astrid woke up at 9 p.m. gasping for breath and complaining her throat was hurting. It’s the first time I’ve seen her panic for air before. Even when her asthma has been really bad and her oxygen levels low, she’s always been in a good mood. It scared me.
We took Astrid outside for some fresh air and gave her Ventolin. She had calmed down after 15 minutes, but we still took her to the Royal Inland Hospital emergency department just to be sure. By the time we got to the hospital, she was fine and we were quickly sent home.
We’re not entirely sure what caused the incident, but it was probably allergen related – she was digging in wet hay for easter eggs, playing with cats, sleeping in a carpeted basement, and developing a cold. A real nasty mix for her lungs to handle.
After Easter, my parents came back to Vancouver with us and spent two days with Astrid enjoying Science World and making cookies.
Here is all the single-use plastic waste we generated in April after our zero-waste challenge – enough to fill two plastic bags. I’m not sure if that’s a success or a failure. It’s a lot less than the average family but I thought we could do better.
A third of it was recyclable – hard plastics and tetra-paks. A third was soft plastic that London Drugs will take for recycling – although I’m skeptical of what they actually do with it. A third, sadly, went straight into the garbage.
We were pretty good at not buying new products with plastic packaging, but that didn’t stop us from using what we already had in the fridge and cupboards. Most of the plastic waste we generated was from food products we bought back in March.
Everytime we generated plastic waste, we tried hard to find a replacement that didn’t have plastic packaging. Some things we managed to find plastic-free alternatives for, but it was shocking how much of the grocery store is covered in plastic. If it wasn’t for Nada, we would have generated a lot more plastic waste.
The hardest plastic packaging to avoid:
Anything medical, like Astrid’s medications
Cereal – we can get bulk granola but not cereal flakes
Garden seedlings, fertilizers, and soil
Tetra paks from juice and plant-based milks
Frozen fruits and vegetables
Convenience foods, like perogies and sausages
The only plastic that was easier than expected to avoid was take-out containers. A lot of food carts and restaurants in Vancouver use compostable packaging, and all of them will once the styrofoam ban comes into effect in April 2020.
But the biggest change has to come from grocery stores. They are the only ones with the power to influence suppliers. If some of the big chains in Canada (like Loblaws, Sobeys, or Overwaitea) made a concerted effort to cut down on plastic packaging, it would make a huge difference.
Now that our challenge is over, there are a few habits we picked up last month that we will continue with.
Being conscious of plastic packaging and choosing products without plastic where possible.
Doing more shopping at the zero-waste stores in Vancouver.
Buying fresh vegetables that aren’t in plastic (like field cucumbers)
Making our own pizza dough instead of buying it.
Making own own hemp milk (see recipe below) instead of buying plant-based milks in tetra paks.
For the month of April, we’re taking a zero waste challenge and trying to avoid all single-use plastics.
That means no plastic take-out containers, no straws, no bags of cereal, no plastic-wrapped english cucumbers, and the list goes on.
That might sound impossible, but we’re lucky to have some good resources to help. In addition to bulk bins at conventional grocery stores, Vancouver has 2 amazing zero-waste shopping options Nada and the Soap Dispensary, where we can fill reusable containers with food and other household products.
To kick off the month, I purchased a nice safety razor to replace the standard 5-blade Gillette and Schick ones I’ve used in the past (inspired by this AOC tweet). Safety razors are a little trickier to use, but have zero plastic and are cheaper to buy blades for.
We also had a successful zero-plastic pizza dinner on Sunday night. The biggest challenges were the crust and cheese. Normally we buy pizza crusts and Daiya cheese in plastic packaging. But we found Daiya cheese at Nada and made the crust from scratch, which was surprisingly easy and fun even if a bit more time consuming.
Our hope is that by being conscious of our plastic use this month, and striving for zero, we will learn new ways of reducing it once the challenge is over (like making pizza dough from scratch). It also gets us ready for a future when single-use plastics are no longer commonplace. There’s a growing movement worldwide to reduce our use of throwaway plastics. Here are some examples:
Europe has agreed to ban single-use plastics by 2021.
The NDP has promised to get rid of single-use plastics in Canada by 2022 if elected.
Vancouver’s straw ban goes into effect on June 1, 2019, with other single-use plastics targeted in coming years.
California, New York, and Hawaii are leading the charge in the USA with state-wide plastic bag and straw bans.
To celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary, we decided to spend a fancy weekend in Victoria.
We did the whole trip without a car. It’s pretty easy to take public transit to the ferry terminals, and once we were in Victoria almost everything was walking distance from our hotel.
We were lucky to have a beautiful spring weekend, with only a sprinkle of rain and the cherry blossoms were in bloom.
We stayed at the luxurious Empress hotel, originally constructed by Canadian Pacific in 1908. We were a little out of place arriving by public transit with backpacks on, while the other guests used the valet service for their Ferraris and Teslas.
We might not have arrived in a sports car, but we brought fancy clothes so we could enjoy afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge. They had no problems preparing an all-vegan tea for us (we gave them notice when we reserved our seating), with scones, jam, crustless sandwiches, chocolates, and passion fruit custard.
Astrid even enjoyed it. She managed to stay amused for over an hour by playing with the tea timer, reading the tea options, drinking tea with a spoon, stealing berries off the desserts, running around our seating area, and visiting the powder room.
Most of our time in Victoria was spent catching up with friends. Astrid had successful playdates with Arby, Lyla, and Cleo. Our friends Katie and ilan even took Astrid home for lunch so Emily and I could go out for a nice lunch by ourselves.
It was a really successful weekend mostly because Astrid slept well. She had no problems sleeping in a double bed on her own in the hotel. And she napped on the go – sleeping on bus and ferry rides while we travelled, and in her stroller on Saturday while we walked around Victoria.
Amusingly, we happened to be in Victoria while the Capital City Comic Con was going on at the convention centre connected to our hotel, so there was always someone in a costume walking by.
It started suddenly without warning and has been a non-stop barrage since. On February 18, Astrid asked her first “Why?” question. I don’t remember what it was about but my response was promptly followed by a follow-up “Why?”. As many parents know, “Why?” is the perfect question because no matter how thorough the answer, you can always go deeper with another “Why?”.
I like encouraging her curiosity and answer as much as I can, but after the 5th why I usually have to respond with “Why do you think?”
February was an unusually snowy month in Vancouver, including a full-on Snow Day on February 12 when all the schools and daycares shut down. It was cool to see all the kids running around the neighbourhood and enjoying a rare blast of real Canadian winter.
Too bad Astrid hated it. The snow was too ‘crunchy’ and cold and she would only watch her friends tobogganing, complaining the whole time.
In January Astrid started on a new asthma medication, Advair, and it seems to be having a huge impact. We’ve now gone 45 days without any asthma symptoms, which is a new record. Astrid had one cold in early March and even though she was coughing she never got wheezy. It was nice just having a normal sick kid with a runny nose without worrying about when we would have to take her to the hospital.
Advair is definitely more expensive than the other medications we’ve tried (it works out to about a $1 per puff) because there is no generic version. However, after sending doctor approval to the province’s Fair Pharmacare program and our health insurance provider, we now have 80% of the costs covered.
Although we’ve avoided asthma problems, we haven’t been completely healthy. Stomach bugs (probably norovirus) ripped through our family in February. Astrid and I were sick twice, with vomiting and diarrhea. Grandma got it too. Emily got mild symptoms from the first bug and somehow avoided the second one. I was just glad we weren’t all sick at the same time so there was always one person with energy to look after the rest of the family.
On a more positive note, Astrid has avoided a tooth extraction, at least for now. After she knocked her tooth out last month, her root extraction was delayed because she got really sick. By the time she was healthy again the gums had healed over. We’re now hoping her body is able to take care of it on its own, but if it gets infected she will have to have surgery to remove it.
Astrid has turned into a very compassionate toddler. When I get home from work she always asks “how’s your day, Daddy?” and “what did you eat at New Hippopotamus?”. When Emily was sick, she started every morning by asking her “you feeling better?”. It might be more of a routine than genuine concern, but it’s still nice.
When Astrid was really sick in January we abandoned all our independent sleep practices and often slept in her room. After she was better we were still spending up to an hour in her room waiting for her to fall asleep. If we tried sneaking out early, she would just come find us a few minutes later. Now that she’s no longer sleeping in crib we had to find a new approach to sleep training.
Based on some ideas in this blog post, we decided to try confining her to her room by holding the door closed. A few minutes after we left the room, she tried to open the door. We held the door closed and asked her to go back to sleep. She tried every trick to delay bedtime. She asked for a snack, asked for another story, said she had to pee, asked for help with her blanket, and even took off her socks and asked us to put them back on. When that didn’t work she cried and got upset. Through the door, we encouraged her to sleep and sang to her. When she really got upset, we went in once to calm her down but otherwise stuck to the strategy.
It took 60 minutes the first night and 45 minutes the second, but after 4 nights she went to sleep on her own without trying to escape. Since then she’s resisted on a few occasions (especially after daylight savings time kicked in) and figured out some new tricks like pushing books under the door and turning the light on, but it’s been much better. Fingers crossed, but she hasn’t figured out she can watch youtube on the iPad we use as a white noise machine.
Mornings have also been better since we got the Gro-Clock. She always waits for the sun now (programmed for 7 am) before coming into our bedroom to wake us up.
After her sleeping improved we let her have a sleepover at Grandma’s house. She did pretty well, although she woke up at 6 am and crawled into Grandma’s bed.
Astrid loves painting and doing art. We’ve let her curate her own gallery.
New skills for Astrid include putting together puzzles, identifying around 10 letters, and counting to 13.