Astrid – No More Diapers

Gymnastics

The big news here is that Astrid is now diaper free, at least during the day. She’s been wearing underwear at home since October but we weren’t sure how to make the transition at daycare. She would never tell her teachers when she had to go and we didn’t want to burden them with a toddler peeing her pants several times a day.

Then suddenly on November 8, she said she wanted to wear underwear to daycare. It caught us by surprise, but we wanted to capitalize on her enthusiasm. So we sent her to daycare with 7 extra pairs of pants, socks, and underwear and pre-apologized to the teachers for the mess she was about to make. We were shocked when she came home in the same pair of pants.

Over the next few weeks she had a bunch of accidents and sometimes came home with 2 pairs of wet pants, socks, and even shoes. But she quickly got better at letting someone know when she had to pee, and it’s been a few weeks now since her last accident. We cancelled our cloth diaper service a few weeks ago and use disposable pull-ups at nighttime.

Grandkids

The next big achievement is Astrid had her first sleepover at Grandma’s. Again, we weren’t ready for it but our hand was forced when our only babysitter (Grandma) was under house arrest (backstory) and we had plans to celebrate Emily’s birthday. So we dropped Astrid off after dinner and prayed we didn’t get a phone call to come get her overnight.

We expected the worst – Astrid hadn’t napped that day and was a bit grouchy, she was still on Ventolin for asthma, and she had been waking up at night coughing and wheezing. But she had fun, slept through the night on the futon, and was brushing her teeth after eating a yummy breakfast when I came by the next morning to pick her up. If grandma is up for it, we hope to try it again in the new year.

Sleeping Bags

Astrid’s health has been pretty good lately. A few minor colds and the accompanying asthma, but no hospital ER visits. We saw our respirologist and pediatrician, who told us to keep doing what we’re doing. They were impressed with the data and charts I’ve been collecting. The goal is to see less hospital visits and drugs this winter.

Puff the Magic Dragon

Astrid loves singing. Her favourite songs right now are Puff the Magic Dragon and Frosty the Snowman.

Mixin

She also likes helping cook and bake, especially pancakes on Saturday mornings and popcorn at night (the perfect snack for a blanket fort).

Pizza

Astrid’s newest obsession is clothing with pockets. She loves having pants, jackets, and shirts with pockets on them.

More photos of November and December.

Pretending to Watch TV

Adams Peanut Butter Shelves

Thanks to a healthy peanut butter addiction (I go through a kilogram every 2 weeks), I’ve been steadily acquiring large Adams peanut butter jars that are perfect for storing staples like beans, nuts, and flour. The only problem is our small kitchen doesn’t have enough storage space to fit them all.

Like her father

I’ve looked for shelving units online that would fit our jars but have never found any. Luckily my father is a talented carpenter (you can see his other work here) and I sent him the dimensions for the shelves I wanted – wide enough for 8 jars with a 1/2 inch lip around the edge to make sure the jars stay on.

New Shelves New Shelves New Shelves

Now we have extra space for 32 easily-accessible jars. They’re perfect for refilling at Nada, our local zero-waste grocery store.

New Shelves

Astrid – Winter is Coming

Reach Up

It’s November and cold and flu season is officially upon us. That means all the kids at daycare are snotty-nosed germ carriers now. Our doctor told us that Astrid would likely get her first cold in mid-September – two weeks after kids go back to school. And like clock-work Astrid got sick on September 14. Luckily the first cold wasn’t too bad and barely triggered her asthma. A few weeks later she had another cold which took longer to get over. The third (and most recent) moved quickly to her lungs. She was wheezing and coughing, and Ventolin was barely making a difference. So off to BC Children’s Hospital we went for Astrid’s 9th emergency visit for asthma. We’ve since started Astrid on a new asthma drug (montelukast) that we’re hoping will get us through the next 5 months of cold and flu season without regular hospital visits. It’s going to be a long winter.
Hospital Visit #9

On the positive side, Astrid started gymnastics at the beginning of September and loves it. On Sundays, she gets to jump, swing, and climb for 45 minutes at the gym. Then she comes home does all the same moves in our living room with piles of pillows and our couch as a trampoline. She’s learned to do somersaults and has gotten much better at jumping with two feet and landing with bent knees.
Jump Gymnastics

Astrid had her first dentist appointment and it wasn’t a complete disaster. I was surprised she let the dentist poke around in her mouth. The feedback was mostly positive (she has all of her teeth and no cavities). She needs to stop sucking her thumb before it causes lasting damage, and we should be brushing her teeth twice a day and flossing them too. There is little chance we’ll be able to floss her teeth, but we’ve been more persistent since the dentist that she actually brush her teeth, instead of just sucking on a toothbrush before bedtime. The thumbsucking is going to be a harder habit to break, but we’re working on it.
1st Dentist Visit

Astrid’s vocabulary has really exploded in the past two months. Unfortunately her pronunciation is lagging. We’ve gone from understanding 90% of what she was trying to tell us to 50%. Sometimes it’s like charades – “Astrid I don’t know what that means, can you point and show me?” She also likes to sing and make up new words to her favourite songs.

Monster
For Halloween Astrid dressed up as a cute monster. This is the first year she understood what was going on. She enjoyed the costumes, riding the ghost train in Stanley Park, decorating a pumpkin, making the hallway spooky, and going trick-or-treating. The hard part is now limiting how much candy she gets. Last year she didn’t eat any of it, but this year she knew what it was. We took away the really sugary stuff and have been letting her have one treat a night.

Loves: Jumping on the couch, running around with her daycare friends, building towers with blocks, helping daddy make pancakes on Saturday mornings, and her Mickey Mouse pajamas.

Hates: Getting her hair washed or brushed.

Mastered: Turning on/off the lights, putting on her jacket by herself.

Favourite expressions: “I no like it” and “my turn – 2 minutes.”

Making Pancakes

Acrobats

Playtime

More photos from September, October, and Halloween.

PR Referendum Guide

BC is having a referendum on how we choose our elected MLAs. This is a big deal. If the referendum passes and we move to a proportional representation voting system, it will fundamentally reshape voter engagement and politics in this province. So vote wisely. Your ballot should arrive by mail in the next few days, if you haven’t already received it.

The Ballot

There are two questions on the ballot.

  1. Which system should British Columbia use for provincial elections?
    1. The current First Past the Post voting system
    2. A proportional representation voting system
  2. If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following systems do you prefer? (Rank in order of preference.)
    1. Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
    2. Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
    3. Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)

You need to fill out your ballot and mail it back to Elections BC so that it arrives before November 30.

If voters choose proportional representation, the next 2 elections will be conducted under the most popular system from question 2. After that, there will be a second referendum to asking if British Columbians like the new voting system or we should go back to the old voting system.

The Options

The options might be overwhelming at first, but in less than 10 minutes you can learn the basics.

Here’s a 3 minute summary of what is wrong with our current system, from National Post columnist Andrew Coyne.

And a fun, easy-to-understand 4 minute video summarizing the options you’ll be voting for. If you only have 4 minutes to figure out how to vote, watch this video.

How I’m voting

Question 1 is easy. I’m voting for proportional representation. Our voting system is broken and needs to change. Too many people vote strategically for a party that isn’t their favourite. More people don’t even bother voting because their vote doesn’t seem to matter. Proportional representation should fix these problems, but if it doesn’t we can always go back to First Past the Post after 2 elections. So there is little risk of trying.

Question 2 is harder. Any of the options will be better than the system that we have right now, but they each have their pros and cons. As the video above points out, Dual Member is the simplest, Mixed Member is the most common around the world, and Rural-Urban gives voters the most power with ranked ballots.  I used the survey at referendumguide.ca to explore the characteristics of each of the proportional systems and this is what it suggested.

BallotRD

  1. Rural-Urban
  2. Dual Member
  3. Mixed Member

Rural-Urban is clearly my preferred system. I like having a ranked ballot and power as a voter to pick candidates from a bunch of political parties. As an example of how this might play out for me in Vancouver, my ballot would probably rank a bunch of Green and NDP candidates with the best ones at the top. That level of choice might not appeal to everyone, so I’m glad there are other options like Dual Member and Mixed Member being proposed that offer simpler ballots.

More Details

If you want more details on the voting systems and how the mechanics work, this 24 minute summary goes into all the details:

If you’re curious what the results of the last election (2017) hypothetically would have been under the 3 proportional representation systems, checkout bcvoteoptions.ca.

If you have an hour to hear more about why we should keep our voting system or change it, you can listen to a debate between the Yes and No sides from the Politicoast podcast, featuring Suzanne Anton and Seth Klein.

If you want to read more, there are descriptions of the three PR voting systems proposed here:

If you want to have a celebrity explain it to you, here’s Dan Mangan.

Lastly, there seems to be a lot of fear mongering coming from the No PR side (especially with Facebook ads) so to counter it I suggest you checkout Fair Vote Canada’s mythbusters series (which tackles questions like will proportional representation remove local representation or lead to unstable governments) and this spoof ad below for a chuckle.

Bonus Videos

Vancouver 2018 Election Retrospective

I have to say I’m happy the election is over. Now I can get some sleep. But first some analysis.

The key takeaway for me is that the next four years will be very interesting. A progressive slate won a majority yesterday but it is split between 3 parties and an independent mayor who have fairly different ideas in how to fix the housing crisis in Vancouver. The five NPA councillors will likely form a unified opposition, although there is a chance of some collaboration with the other councillors.

General Thoughts

  • There were 5000 fewer votes cast in 2018. That’s disappointing.
  • The city needs to invest in more scantron machines. Even with less people voting on election day this year, almost every polling station had lineups throughout the day and there were several reports of people abandoning their ballots because they couldn’t wait an hour to have it scanned. Double the number of machines and the problem disappears.
  • Even though we didn’t elect our first female mayor, women did extremely well yesterday (8/10 councillors, 2/7 park, 6/9 school), but visible minorities struggled. School board is the only place where there is any diversity. The rest is very, very white, which is not reflective of Vancouver’s cultural diversity.
  • If you add Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester’s votes together and compare that to Ken Sim, Hector Bremner, and Wai Young you get remarkably similar results to the last election, at least for mayor.vancouver-mayoral-2005_2018
  • The results for every race other than mayor were roughly:
    • Tier 1: Greens – thousands of votes ahead of everyone else
    • Tier 2: NPA, COPE, and OneCity –  fought for the remaining spots and each elected multiple candidates.
    • Tier 3: Vision – elected 1 person, but was otherwise wiped out.
    • Tier 4: Everyone else – took lots of votes from the major parties but didn’t come close to winning.
  • The high number of qualified candidates running for council this year created wider distribution of votes than in 2014. The tail is much longer and fatter this election.council distribution
  • 38% of the votes this year were for someone who wasn’t even in the top 20 (compared to 22% in 2014).
  • Vote splitting affected all the races and lead to some winners having very low vote percentages. We definitely need some form of electoral reform.
    • Mayor Kennedy Stewart won with 28% of all votes.
    • Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung won with 25%.
    • Park Commissioner John Irwin won with 26%.
    • School Trustee Allan Wong won with 27%.

Big Winners and Losers

Green Party (9 elected/10 candidates)

The night’s only big winner was the Green Party. They came within 3000 votes of having 4 city councillors elected. Adrian Carr, Pete Fry, and Michael Wiebe now form the bulk of the progressive slate on council and it will be interesting to see how they use their new power. Adrian Carr has spent the past 7 years opposing a lot of Vision’s actions, especially around housing. Now she has the challenging role of making policy.

NPA (10/20)

They almost did it. After trailing badly in the polls, Ken Sim almost sneaked out a victory for the mayor’s chair, which would have given the NPA a majority. Instead they have the biggest block of councillors (5) and will see if they can swing someone to their side to get their agenda through or just oppose everything for the next four years. They did ok on school board and park board picking up a few seats but are outnumbered by the left-wing parties.

COPE (4/7)

I’m sure COPE is happy to have broken onto council after a long absence but disappointed that their good polling numbers and Jean Swanson’s popularity didn’t translate into more success. Swanson will be another influential vote and it will be interesting to see how she applies her years of protesting to governing.

OneCity (2/5)

I’m disappointed OneCity didn’t do better but I think they’re happy to have broken into council with Christine Boyle’s victory. They also won a school board spot (Jennifer Reddy), but incumbent Carrie Bercic lost her spot which is a huge loss. Just like COPE, it was mixed results for them.

Vision Vancouver (1/10*)

Nearly shut out after 10 years of majority rule, Vision Vancouver was the biggest loser last night. Many people don’t think the party will exist in four years.

New parties and Independents (0)

For all the talk about it being the year of the independent, they struggled yesterday. The only independent who won was Mayor Kennedy Stewart. No one else finished even close, despite lots of attention and some really qualified candidates. The top independent was Sarah Blyth who finished 19th and almost 15,000 votes away from a spot on council.

The new parties also struggled. Vancouver 1st, YES Vancouver, Coalition Vancouver, and ProVancouver had a lot of hype and social media presence but it didn’t translate into votes. The closest any came to winning a seat was Kevin Low of Vancouver 1st who finished in 24th.

Beyond the Results

My favourite way to learn about the candidates and issues this year was podcasts. The Cambie Report and This is VANCOLOUR had some great interviews.

It was cool to be part of the conversation this year. I’ve blogged about elections in the past, and had some traction, but this year I had thousands of page views every day, was averaging 10,000+ impressions a day on twitter, and got mentions in the Vancouver Courier, Globe and Mail, and CBC.

More importantly, I got messages from friends and complete strangers thanking me for the election resources. That made all the late nights compiling charts and summaries worth it.

I’m glad that were thousands of people who took the time to educate themselves and read resources like this blog. But it’s clear from the results that most Vancouver voters vote based only on the party name. That’s why the NPA and Greens did so well, and the new parties and independents struggled. It wasn’t because their candidates weren’t as good. A great example of this is Rob McDowell. He ran in 2014 under the NPA banner and got 53,965 votes and finished in 15th place. This year he ran as an independent and only managed 11,839 votes. Same candidate, same experience, same ideas and priorities but 42,000 votes less.

Update: Some interesting exit polling data from Mario Canseco.

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 7 – Slates

Election Day is in 2 days (October 20) and you’re scrambling to figure out who to vote for.

I have 3 options for you:

  1. Vote for the internet consensus picks.
  2. Vote for my recommended candidates.
  3. Or vote for one of these prebuilt slates. The first 3 are from Allen Pike’s excellent election guide.

vancouver-example-ballots

Stop the NPA West-Side Protectors
The best chance to defeat the NPA (minus Carr and Swanson because they should win anyway) Defending the shrinking populations in Shaughnessy, Dunbar, and Point Grey from renters
  • STEWART, Kennedy
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • ROBERTS, Anne (COPE)
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • O’KEEFE, Derrick (COPE)
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
  • WIEBE, Michael (GREEN)
  • DEAL, Heather (Vision)
  • SIM, Ken (NPA)
  • TAYLOR, Elizabeth (Vancouver 1st)
  • LOW, Ken (Vancouver 1st)
  • DOMINATO, Lisa (NPA)
  • BLIGH, Rebecca (NPA)
  • MUSSIO, Penny (Coalition)
  • KIRBY-YUNG, Sarah (NPA)
  • GREWAL, David (NPA)
  • CHARKO, Ken (Coalition)
  • JOHL, Jesse (Vancouver 1st)
  • CHERNEN, Glen (Coalition)
I Want to Ride My Bicycle Save a Viaduct, Rip Out a Bike Lane
Cycling infrastructure for ages 8-80 Driving is a right, cycling is a luxury
  • SYLVESTER, Shauna
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • EVANS, Catherine (Vision)
  • COOK, Graham
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • PORTER, Elke
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
  • DEAL, Heather (Vision)
  • YOUNG, Wai (Coalition)
  • DE GENOVA, Melissa (NPA)
  • HARDWICK, Colleen (NPA)
  • PETA, Franco (Coalition)
  • MIRZA, Raza (ProVancouver)
  • XIE, Jason (Coalition)
  • MUSSIO, Penny (Coalition)
  • LIN, James (Coalition)
  • CHARKO, Ken (Coalition)
  • JOHL, Jesse (Vancouver 1st)
  • CHERNEN, Glen (Coalition)
Build, Baby, Build Developers Are Evil
Pro-density Thomas Falcone (Abundant Housing) Anti-development Justin Fung (HALT)
  • BREMNER, Hector (YES)
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • SHUM, Erin
  • VIRDI, Jaspreet (YES)
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • BAINS, Brinder (YES)
  • TANG, Phyllis (YES)
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
  • OSTLER, Stephanie (YES)
  • CHAN, Glynnis (YES)
  • CASSIDY, Sean
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • ROBERTS, Anne (COPE)
  • CRELLIN, Breton (ProVancouver)
  • MIRZA, Raza (ProVancouver)
  • SWANSON, Jean (COPE)
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • O’KEEFE, Derrick (COPE)
  • WONG, David HT (GREEN)
  • CARR, Adriane (GREEN)
  • REZEL, Rohana (ProVancouver)
Independents Day No City for White Men
Full of indie street cred Gender-balanced, diversity slate
  • STEWART, Kennedy
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • SHUM, Erin
  • COOK, Graham
  • GRANT, Wade
  • SPIKE
  • BHANDAL, Taqdir Kaur
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • MCDOWELL, Rob
  • RAMDEEN, Katherine
  • PORTER, Elke
  • SYLVESTER, Shauna
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • GRANT, Wade
  • SWANSON, Jean (COPE)
  • BHANDAL, Taqdir Kaur
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • CARDONA, Diego (Vision)
  • WONG, David (GREEN)
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
Rainbow Coalition
Full spectrum of collaborative candidates
  • SYLVESTER, Shauna
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • SHUM, Erin
  • GOODRICH, Justin (NPA)
  • GRANT, Wade
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • MCDOWELL, Rob
  • O’KEEFE, Derrick (COPE)
  • OSTLER, Stephanie (YES)
  • WIEBE, Michael (GREEN)
  • DEAL, Heather (Vision)

It was surprisingly hard to narrow these lists down to 10 candidates, which is a testament to the quality of candidates we have running this year. Some honourable mentions go to:

  • Penny Noble – “I Want to Ride My Bicycle”
  • Abubakar Khan  – “Independents Day”
  • Erin Shum – “No City for White Men”
  • Diego Cardona (Vision) – “Rainbow Coalition”
  • Brandon Yan (OneCity) – “Rainbow Coalition”

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer

vote

Vancouver is about to enter one of the most interesting and uncertain elections in recent history. The mayor and most of the current councillors are not running for re-election, a number of new parties with similar sounding names have formed, and new campaign finance rules are limiting the influence of big moneyed donors like developers.

Here is my collection of resources to help you figure out who to vote for.

vancouver_political_axis

Part 1: The Parties

minor_issues

Part 2: The Minor Issues

VancouverHousingPlatformsV10

Part 3: Housing

my_ballot

Part 4: My Picks

endorsement_leaderboard

Part 5: Endorsements

surveys

Part 6: Survey Says

slates

Part 7: Slates

2018VancouverCandidateMap

Bonus: Candidate Map

Where to Vote – You can vote at any polling station across the city. Polls are open 8am to 8pm.

Other election guides:

Photo credit: City Of Vancouver

%d bloggers like this: