Christmas was a bit hectic this year. We moved a week before Christmas and barely had time to get up decorations before the 25th. But we did find time to do some festive stuff.
We went to the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Gardens, luckily on one of the few dry December evenings. Astrid had a blast riding the carousel multiple times.
We went to Christmas parties at my work, Astrid’s daycare, and Christina’s house.
We had have a lovely Christmas Eve/Hanukkah/Winter Solstice dinner at grandma’s place.
We started a new tradition with matching Christmas pajamas.
We opened Christmas presents with Baba and Gigi on skype and Astrid had a blast playing with her new toys and games. We try to minimize the focus on presents, but she still enjoyed the ones she got from her family – like her fort builder, binoculars, and new books.
After almost 9 years renting in Olympic Village, we’ve moved into a new home. Yes, we are now property owners in Vancouver’s ridiculously overpriced real estate market.
We spent most of the summer looking for a large house to co-buy with good friends of ours. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out but it got us mentally prepared to buy (after all the time we spent going to open houses, creating financial spreadsheets, and exploring East Vancouver neighbourhoods). We found a 3-bedroom townhouse near Trout Lake that we could afford on our own and put in the offer in October.
Buying a house was scary. It’s the largest purchase we’ve made by 2 orders of magnitude. We spent a bit more than we wanted (it was a competitive bid situation) and had to compromise on a few things (there is no garden or personal green space) but it checks almost all of the key requirements we had, like:
There is a good, seismically upgraded elementary school a block away.
It’s a tight-knit community with a bunch of kids Astrid’s age.
The neighbourhood is highly walkable with vegetarian restaurants and grocery stores nearby but without a lot of car traffic.
It’s biking distance to downtown Vancouver. Our commutes will be longer than before, but less than 30 minutes.
There are 3 bedrooms, so we have a guest room and a bit more space.
It has a dishwasher. We lived too long without one.
We can see ourselves living here for the next 20 years, with 3 floors of living space to give privacy to a future teenager.
We took possession on December 8 and immediately got to work replacing the carpet on the 2nd and 3rd floors. My dad flew in from Manitoba to help and it took us a week to install new engineered hardwood flooring. It was exhausting work but I’m really happy with how it turned out and it was fun to work with my dad.
We moved in just before Christmas and are still working on unpacking boxes, but slowly we’re organizing our new home. On Boxing Day we picked up two sharp-looking lighting fixtures for the entryway and living room, and we made the trip to Ikea to get some accessories for organizing.
Astrid and Boo have been handling the transition as well as can be expected. Astrid still misses her old home and neighbours but is excited to meet all the kids in our new building. She loves her new room with it’s big window seat, but wishes her bedroom was closer to ours and has asked if we can put our bed in her room. We’re all dealing with sore muscles as we adjust to 3 flights of stairs and Astrid had a muscle strain in her hip after the first week.
Boo spent the first week exploring all the nooks and crannies and getting into mischief with moving boxes. Now he is aching to get outside and we’ve ordered a tagged collar so he can explore the neighbourhood a bit. I’ve seen two other cats roaming our the courtyard so he’s going to have friends/competition for turf.
The process of buying a house was a bit daunting in the beginning, but we had a good realtor and mortgage broker that helped to break it down into manageable steps. If you’re looking for recommendations, I can highly recommend Naomi Morrison (our realtor) and Leo Addington (our mortgage broker).
We still have a lot of little things to do like putting up shelves and pictures. I’m hoping to have everything on our long to-do list done by the end of January when our first house guests arrive from Kamloops.
For Halloween Astrid dressed up as a dragon this year. I was happy she didn’t want to be a princess. We went trick-or-treating in our building and in the co-op next door and Astrid had a blast. This is the first year she was really into Halloween and collecting candy (most of which we sneakily took away after).
Astrid is now old enough to do swimming class on her own and we get to sit beside the pool and watch. It’s great. She’s also getting more comfortable in the water.
On the health front things have been pretty good. Astrid’s asthma is under control and we haven’t had any recent hospitalizations. During our last visit to the respirologist at BC Children’s, they did an allergy test and Astrid didn’t react to any of the main allergens (dust mites, pet dander, pollen). Things are going so well that Astrid has been discharged from the respirology clinic and our pediatrician will be managing her asthma now, and we’ve started talking about a plan to scale back her medicine next summer.
The only cause for concern was a spell in early October when Astrid was waking up a few hours after going to sleep in extreme pain in her left hand. It happened for 10 straight nights and then a few more times over the following weeks. It really freaked us out the first few nights and we ended up going to the hospital but by the time we got there she was fine and we waited over an hour before going home without seeing a doctor. We visited a walk-in clinic on the 3rd day and got x-rays after a week, but nothing was physically wrong. The only symptom during the day has been reduced hand strength in her left hand in the morning that goes away after a few hours. It doesn’t seem to be night terrors or growing pains and some doctors we’ve talked to have suggested a few possible causes (like possibly childhood arthritis) but more tests will have to be done (if it comes back again) to confirm.
Summer is slowly fading and the first colds of back-to-school season are kicking in. We had a great summer with waterpark trips, biking along the seawall, beach parties, a lot of popsicles, and happily no wildfire smoke or asthma hospital trips (hurray!).
In July, right after Astrid got her cast off, we spent 4 days in Kamloops and Chilliwack with my sisters and Astrid’s cousins. We were grateful the cast was gone because we spent almost everyday in the water. The kids had a blast swimming at the lake, riding the water slides at Cultus Lake, and eating ice cream at Harrison Lake. Photo album here.
We also hosted two playdates – one with daycare friends and one with the Hirtles. The key to a successful kids playdate appears to be rainbow popsicles, fresh cucumbers from the garden, playdough, and a big empty box.
It’s hard to believe, but Astrid is even more proficient on her balance bike and has started to wear out the toes of her shoes as she skids to a stop after flying down hills.
Our little girl is really growing up, she’s now in the 3-5 room at daycare. She transitioned very smoothly and handled the change well. Her gradual entry report card included these gems:
Enjoys risky play and exploring her boundaries.
She will say she needs to use the bathroom when others are going even she doesn’t actually have to.
Sometimes takes big bits and needs reminders to take small bites.
How can a beautiful weekend that started with a fun birthday party end with another trip to the hospital!? I’m starting to wonder if Astrid is terribly unlucky or we’re just doing something wrong.
The July 6th weekend started with Astrid’s third 3rd birthday party (that’s not a typo, she really had 3 parties spread over 8 days). The Hirtles and Holdings joined us for a morning splashing in Hillcrest Pool, pizza lunch at Rocky Mountain Flatbread, and ice cream at Yum’s Sweet Shop. Then we ended the weekend with a trip to the hospital (well several trips in fact).
Yes, Astrid’s adventures with the medical system continue at a rapid pace. She’s barely 3 years old and has had repeated trips to emergency for asthma, stitches for a head injury, knocked out a tooth, and now a cast for a fracture on her elbow. Hopefully, we’ll be able to laugh about this in a few years, but right now it’s exhausting.
A lot has changed in the past year. Astrid is definitely more opinionated, adventurous, and bossy than she was a year ago. Pretty standard stuff for a ‘threenager’. She’s also sleeping in a bed, diaper-free, communicating with full sentences, and loves to ride her bike. So there are plenty of positives too.
A newfound love for her bike has been the biggest change in the past month. It started during Bike to Work Week when she rode her bike to daycare a few times. Her balance has steadily improved and now she can zoom around lifting her legs to glide. I’m excited that soon I’ll be able to go running with her biking beside me.
Now that asthma is no longer an everyday concern, she’s replaced wheezing trips to the hospital with head injuries. Earlier in the month, she banged the back of her head on the corner of the wall. Three weeks later she smashed her face on the concrete while playing on the railings in our rooftop garden.
Both incidents were pretty scary and she was lucky not to do more damage. The head injuries have made me more paranoid, but Astrid still loves to climb and be adventurous. We’re trying to teach her that there are safe places to climb that are less dangerous.
Astrid is a social butterfly. She loves spending time with her daycare friends, neighbours, and her cousins. After daycare, she usually spends half an hour playing with her friends in the square. And then when we finally drag her home, all she wants to do is play on the rooftop with our neighbours.
For Canada Day, we went hiking along the Quarry Rock trail in Deep Cove. Astrid spent most of the hike in a backpack, but she also walked for a surprisingly long time, including a long uphill section. On the hike back, she had to pee, so we said she had to go in the woods. Before I could offer help, she had pulled down her pants, squatted, and peed without getting any on her pants or shoes. It was the first time she’s peed not on a toilet.
Astrid’s birthday party has been split into 3 small gatherings. One with her cousins when we spent the afternoon at the splash pad in Prince Edward Park. We had a small party with her daycare friends in the bird plaza with cupcakes, bubbles, and chalk. And next weekend we’re going to the Second Beach pool with some of our family friends.
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.