Things parents do

Having a kid changes your daily routine quite a bit. I’m pretty much certain that the words “sack of poo” will appear somewhere on my daily chores list. Some of the other interesting items of late include:

  • Discover why the shower smells like Broccoli. Fix.
  • What is best way to clean peanut butter?
  • Get a pair of salad tongs for the car.
  • Learn how to ‘play cars’. X tells me I’m no good.
  • Clean peanut butter off of iPad.
  • Make 12 choo-choo-cheese sandwiches, 36 PB&J Dinosaurs & 1 jug of sangria for Sunday morning.
  • Run around the house yelling “choo choo!!” for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Learn the words to some song other than Baby Beluga.
  • De-peanut-butter the remote control.
  • Find and destroy the fishy movie. Never again.
  • Figure out why X keeps making that face and pointing over my left shoulder; it’s starting to freak me out.
  • Stop buying peanut butter.

Hey, where’s that guy been?

This space has been dead for a long time. Normally, I’d chock that up to typical blogger laziness. Searching the blogosphere reveals that this is a common problem, with most sites split equally between over active mommy-bloggers, people who post “I’ve been gone a while, but I’m really going to blog this time,” and pictures of kittens. I’ve been second tier twice.

But, this is not one of those times!

Actually, I’ve been offline for the last few weeks on a lent-related internet fast. Sarah and I started practicing lent last year. So, this is only our second time through. For those unfamiliar with the history of the practice, here’s a short primer.

In the Christian calendar, the period of time between Fat Tuesday and Easter – not including Sundays – make up the forty days of lent. Depending upon the particular traditions of your Church, you might use this period of time to fast from certain foods, engage in specific activities, or abstain from something. Most non-catholics I’ve spoken to follow the abstinence part only. On the subject of abstaining, the reasons again fall into one of two main categories. Either it’s a form of penitence (I will give this up to invoke some personal suffering for some reason or another) or it’s to make room in your life for spiritual reflection. I’m not a big believer in the benefits of personal suffering… but I can see the benefits of making space for things often left undone.

And so, this lenten season, we’ve both elected to give up some sort of addictive element from our life in order to make room for something better. In my case, that thing is ‘wasting time on the internet/computer outside of work.’ And hence, I haven’t been spending much time here.

What about this post? Well, it’s Sunday so that’s OK.

Giving up such a large part of my life at home has definitely been a huge challenge. Made more difficult I think in that only one of us actually stepped away from the computer. Although, I’ve balanced the scales in the number of cadbury mini-eggs I’ve consumed during Sarah’s 6 days a week of ‘no junk food’.

It’s also been a huge challenge in terms of getting things done. For whatever reason, the tail end of March has a ton of things crammed into maybe a week of real time. But, the pre-planning for this week is intense, and is being made unnecessarily difficult by the lack of weekly computing.

At the moment, the lack of a computer is feeling like less of a spiritual sacrifice, and more of a pain-in-the-neck.

That said, some of the upsides have been huge. For example, during the first Saturday of lent, I managed to kill 2 things from my monthly to-do list, and 4 things from my ‘do this before leaving paris’ list. Some of these things I’d been procrastinating for 10 months or more. The lack of my normal outlet for free time has really forced me to leave the apartment, and see the city I live in, and to meet real people face-to-face.

Also, I think 40 days away from the time wasting aspects of my computer have reminded me of some of the more valuable things that I could be doing. Certainly during the first few days/weeks I missed surfing youtube, fark and slashdot, but eventually that faded away, and I started thinking more about some of the other things I’d like to do that have real value, but are often overlooked due to procrastination or the perception of a lack of time. There are some professional development activities that I’ve been putting off for far too long, as well as finishing getting some photos online, backing up old data, and writing about some of the more interesting things we’ve done so far in 2010 (it’s been a really good year, on the whole).

Easter is coming up soon, and I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time on the laptop. But, I think… I hope, that I’ll get back into this activity with a renewed sense of balance as to what sorts of things are important, and what things can perhaps be left in 2009.

Learning to Bathe.

Our hotel has a bathtub, and a shower. Two things that I should be familiar with.

The first evening we were here I wanted to have a shower. I smelled like airport, and that is never good. The tub only had half of a glass shower curtain, but I figured that would be enough to cover the splash back. I got in, turned on the water, and the shower head windmilled around in it’s socket, soaking me, the wall, the roof, the glass, the floor and me again with each spin. After the shock subsided, I turned off the sprinkler, dried the walls, roof and floor and went back to bed.

I didn’t smell that bad.

The next morning I knew better than to attempt a shower. The socket that held the head was too loose to be of use, and I didn’t want to douse the bathroom again.

Instead, I opted for the safer option – the bath. I hadn’t had a bath in years, but I still knew the basics, so I started to fill the tub. As there is no way to set our bathtub to shoot water from exclusively one pipe – it’s both or nothin – I decided to wait until the tub was partially full, then set the shower head carefully at the bottom of the tub where it should shoot water back into the tub. I then left to make a pot of coffee. Coffee takes precedence over cleanliness when one has jet lag.

Two minutes later I stepped into a puddle in my bathroom. Over an inch deep and racing towards my sleeping wife. Panic would normally have set in instantly, but I was puzzled by something else. There was water coming from the roof – like a giant rain storm. It didn’t rain in the bathroom in North America. At least, not since that first apartment on Jervis in Vancouver. But that place was special. I started to think that if the water on the floor came from the rain from the roof, then there was no way that I could have done this, and therefore no way Sarah could be angry.

I was twice wrong.

Upon further inspection, the shower head had flipped around like an angry snake, and was now pointed at the roof. Very little water had actually made it into the bathtub , and I now had more water around my ankles standing outside than in.

Turning off the water, I ran back out into the bedroom. There was no escape at this point, the water had already made it half way across the floor and was moving faster every minute. Waking Sarah up I muttered something about a plumbing problem and tossed her a towel.

It took us nearly 30 minutes and all of our towels to mop up the damage. I’m still certain that some of the water drained out into the building somewhere, but I have no idea where. Obviously there are no guests in that part of the hotel, or I would have gotten a bill from the hotel that evening instead of a box of chocolates.

On the third day, I pulled a chair into our bathroom, and sat there holding the shower head while filling the bathtub from a small distance away. This method seems to work.

Almost ready to leave…

In the months, weeks and days leading up to leaving Vancouver, we crammed in a lot of stuff. Most of it involved visiting with friends, family and coworkers, all of whom we hope to see again in Paris.

Towards the end of October, Jo and Keltie popped over from the island for Fright Night at the PNE, and a quick round of Karaoke. I have a video of the singing, but it is not yet time to make my public singing debut.

Allene came to town, twice, during the last month we were here. The first time to show off her new puppy, and the second to show off her Violin playing with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

The following weekend, we caught up with some High School friends of Sarah’s at a ‘Forbidden Love Child’ themed Halloween party. My favourite combination was Wolverina, a ballerina crossed with Wolverine. The Gene Simmons / Richard Simmons outfit gets bonus points for name continuity.

We snuck in two Brunches with David, Eddie, Kevin and Sheila, and numerous lunch and coffee visits with coworkers past and present.

On a totally unrelated note, I finally caved and bought some of the freshly roasted chestnuts. They taste like yams.

A week before the big trip, Sarah finished working at Vancity. They gave her quite the send off at Steamworks Brewing Co before she could officially call herself gone. There were two people leaving that day, which was cause for a shin dig, and they each brought an Irish Man with them to liven things up.

We had initially planned to leave at the end of August/September/October. We didn’t, we left mid November and were actually around for one last Remembrance Day, which I was happy to participate in. It rained, of course. Victory square was packed, making it difficult to find a spot to stand. I eventually managed to find a place near the top of the hill where I was able to share an umbrella with a homeless fellow and a drink with a veteran. I caught the tail end of a parade, but didn’t really hear much of the music.

Our final days were busy busy busy. We completely reworked our banking, and moved all of our RRSPs to a new institution, we got rid of all of our possessions in the last 4 days, and said all of our au revoirs and a bientots. Most of the packing was left, in traditional style, to the last minute. On the evening before we left, a bunch of our friends came over to say good bye. They also (much to our relief) did nearly all of the packing of our stuff.

We started the evening with a big pile of stuff on the ground, and a couch that we couldn’t get rid of. Crystal, Kathryn, Bryn and Sarah pulled together and packed about 90% of what we had left. I was in charge of adding to the pile, and making signs to get rid of the couch. About 3 minutes after posting our sign, someone actually called to take it. Nick and Alex turned into movers to get rid of the behemoth (and took out part of the ladies door while doing so). I think that Chris’s job was to chill, which significantly helped the mood of the evening.

We spent our last night in Vancouver the same way we spent our first night. Sleeping on the floor under a pile of coats and towels. At least this time it was carpet, and not hardwood. The morning of the big move, we still had a fair bit to do. I had to return some stuff to Costco, set up mail forwarding, drop some dresses off at the Church and get a hair cut. Sarah had to buy cat food, a harness, and take the cat to the vet. We also had to clean the apartment in order to get some of our deposit back.

Finally, we took a cab to the airport and walked our way through customs where we said our last good byes to the city.

About a month before we left, one of Sarah’s coworkers started to ask where the tears were. He made a point of asking each time he’d see her if she’d cried about leaving the city. She’d swear that she was sad to leave everyone, but if you asked her, she would tell you that she was too stressed to cry. As we sat down on our plane to leave, the first tear appeared, and a few would be shed each hour as we flew away from Vancouver.

Sarah had left her favourite umbrella at the airport.

I’m 27 today.

That kinda weirds me out. I’m still not liking this getting older thing.

On the other hand, I really liked the Angel Food Cake that my awesome wife made me for breakfast. (It was dinner too.)

Moi, je parle Fran├žais

(Note: I was going to write this post in French, but I got stuck at ‘my wife and I are going to learn French’. Maybe I’ll update this in a month or so.)

My wife and I are going to learn French.

At least, that’s the idea. We’ve come to the conclusion that if we really are interested in an international move at some point, perhaps we should put a little more effort into it than just crossing our fingers and waiting. The first, easy, step is to learn a bit of the language. Even if the move never pans out, at least we’ll have some ability to converse in our nations second official language (I wonder what the numbers look like in French vs Mandarin speakers?).

The course is 10 weeks long through the UBC Continuing studies program. Our first lesson was this past Monday. Next lesson: tomorrow night. This evening? We are procrastinating completion of the homework assigned last week. It’s good to be able to procrastinate doing my homework again.

So far, so good. The lessons are immersion style (no English allowed in the class) which was scary for the first few minutes, then 12 years of French lessons came flooding back to us, along with some pangs of regret that we didn’t pay attention for 11 of those years.

The general construction of a simple sentence is still up there somewhere. We are severely lacking in vocab though. I have no shame RE my accent. It is awful.

Downtime

Every now and then I get stuck in a prolonged period of downtime. This is one of those times. One or two days of downtime is nice and refreshing: I can nap, watch TV, play video games, catch up on some housework, etc. More than two days and it starts to get boring, there’s only so many times I can check for dirty dishes before I have to give up and sit down.

I hit the boredom stage last night.

I’ve never been good at filling emptiness in my general schedule. Really, what do people do when they’ve got nothing to do?