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.
The election is 10 days away. Advance voting starts today. You know what you need to do. Get out and vote.
After much deliberation, I’ll be voting NDP. I considered voting Green to really reinforce the idea that climate change is the most important issue facing Canada right now. Both the Greens and NDP have great platforms and are aligned on a lot of issues.
The biggest difference is the leader. I’ve been really impressed with Jagmeet Singh. He puts up with a lot of racist crap, but he’s still filled with optimism. I haven’t seen a federal leader with so much personality, conviction, and compassion since Jack Layton. Elizabeth May is a great environmental champion, but I don’t see her having the energy and charisma to bring people onside to tackle the problems we’re facing. Jagmeet Singh can.
Looking beyond the party leaders, I’ve also considered policy and my local candidate. On the policy side, CBC, Macleans, and Gen Squeeze have good summaries of the party platforms. Personally, my top 3 priorities are climate change, housing affordability, and health care.
Climate Change and the Environment
The Greens have the most ambitious plan, the Liberals the most achievable. The NDP is in between on both measures. All three parties have commited to banning single use plastics. Check out CBC for a comprehensive comparison of each parties climate commitments.
Liberal Party 😇 Introduced a federal price on carbon 😡 Bought a pipeline for $4.5 billion 🌲 Plan to plant 2 billion trees
New Democratic Party (NDP) 😀 Expanding the carbon tax to industrial emitters 😍 Ending fossil fuel subsidies 😁 $15 billion for retrofitting buildings
Green Party 😍 Most ambitious carbon targets (60% reduction by 2030) 😁 Halt all new fossil fuel development projects 🌲 Plan to plant 10 billion trees
People’s Party of Canada (PPC) 🤮Think climate change is a hoax
Housing affordability is a hot topic, especially with millennials in Vancouver and Toronto. The federal government has a role to play in building affordable housing and purpose built rental, and ensuring speculation from foreign wealth isn’t distorting our housing markets.
Liberal Party 🙂 1% Foreign Buyers Tax 🙂 100,000 affordable housing units 😒 Useless First-time Home Buyer Incentive (at least in Vancouver)
New Democratic Party (NDP) 😄 15% Foreign Buyers Tax 🙂 500,000 affordable housing units 😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages
Green Party 😐 25,000 affordable housing units 😀 Tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing 🤔 Get rid of the first-time home buyer grant
Conservative Party 😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages
Last election, health care wasn’t that important to me. But now I have an adventurous, asthmatic child and work for a health software company.
New Democratic Party (NDP) 😍 Universal pharmacare 😀 Basic dental for families earning < $90,000 (first step toward universal dentalcare)
Green Party 😍 Universal pharmacare 🙂 Dental care for families earning < $30,000
Conservative Party 🤥 Promises not to cut any health spending
People’s Party of Canada (PPC) 😲 Give provinces full responsibility for health care 🤪 Cut all federal funding
In my riding of Vancouver Centre, the NDP candidate Breen Ouellette was endorsed as one of the 35 environmental champions in Canada committed to bringing in a Green New Deal. I highly recommend checkout out this list (and LeadNow’s battleground champions) to see if anyone in your riding has been nominated. It’s a stellar crew.
The NDP has some great candidates in this election, and they reflect the diversity of Canada. 49% are women, 25% are from racialized communities, and 12% are from the LGBTQ community. You can really see the NDP’s commitment to fight inequality and racism comes from the top. Jagmeet Singh has been tremendous this campaign dealing with racist hecklers, responding the the Trudeau blackface incidents, and standing up for first nations access to clean drinking water.
By comparison, the Green Party is unfortunately still very white. Their candidates are 42% women but only 5% are visible minorities.
In a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, you may feel tempted to vote strategically. Don’t. For two reasons.
The Liberals lied about proportional representation last time. They don’t deserve another strategic vote.
If we end up in a minority government situation (highly likely), we need as many NDP and Green MPs as possible to push the Liberals to act on important issues like climate change, pharmacare, and electoral reform.
If you’re debating between the NDP and Greens, I’d recommend choosing the party with the platform that speaks to you or the local candidate you like the best. If you still can’t decide, you can look at polling data and riding level predictions form sites like 338canada.com but beware that riding level predictions are often garbage.
In Vancouver Centre, it’s an easy choice for me to vote NDP. In some of the other Vancouver ridings there are candidates from other parties that I might vote for.
In Vancouver East it’s a toss-up between Jenny Kwan (NDP), the incumbent MP who’s been a vocal environmental advocate and Bridget Burns (Green), who runs the Vegan Night Market.
In Vancouver Granville, it’s an easy choice to vote for Jody Wilson-Raybould (Independent) – former Liberal Justice minister who was kicked out by Justin Trudeau for standing up for judicial independence in the SNC-Lavalin affair.
In Vancouver Kingsway, it’s a toss-up between the incumbent MP Don Davies (NDP), who’s been a tireless advocate for pharmacare and dental care and Tamara Taggart (Liberal), who has really involved in local politics since retiring from broadcasting, advocating for rental housing and removing lead from school drinking water.
In Vancouver South, I’d be tempted to vote for Harjit Sajjan, the Liberal incumbent. He’s been a good Defence Minister and he’s running against Wai Young (Conservative) who used to represent the riding and is a toxic, anti-cyclist troll.
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.
Porpoise Bay is a great family-friendly campsite close to Vancouver. It only takes 2 hours to drive there, including an hour long ferry ride in the middle where the kids can run around.
There are a few things that make it stand out from the other BC provincial park campsites.
There are more tents and less RVs. Probably because the ferry is expensive with a RV.
There are no campfires in the campsites. Instead there are communal fire pits.
It feels like you’re in nature, but you’re only a few minutes from Sechelt which has restaruants, grocery stores, and other conveniences if you need anything. They also have a great little farmers market on Saturdays.
The beach is along the ocean, but because it’s a sheltered bay and shallow. The water is pleasant to splash in at high tide and during low tide there are lot of tide pools to explore.
On the less possitive side:
There is an active float plane terminal nearby and you can hear float planes taking off during the day. It’s not too bad, but it’s noticeable especially in the morning.
The southern edge of the park backs onto cottages. Campsites 76-84 are right next to the backyards and are not very desirable.
We thought the communal fire pits would be a downside but it turned into a great way to meet other campers. In the evenings, a lot of families would show up to roast marshmallows. Astrid enjoyed running around with other kids and we got a chance to chat with the parents. Before we knew it, Astrid was running off with the other kids to play in the woods. And during the daytime, kids were coming by our site to play with her. One kid even came to say goodbye when we were leaving.
The communal fire pits are small and there are only 3 of them, so they’re not great for cooking on. We managed to roast veggie sausages and corn but I would be prepared to do all of the cooking at your own site using a propane stove.
There aren’t any hiking trails in Porpose Bay Provincal Park, but there are a few good trails nearby. We hiked the trail at nearby Smugglers Cove. It’s an easy 1.5 hour hike out to a sheltered bay with nice views. Seemed like a great place to jump in for a swim on a hot day.
We visited Smugglers Cove back in 2007 and were amazed that there were starfish everywhere. Sadly, we didn’t see a single one this time. In 2013 starfish wasting disease wiped out almost all of the starfish and it the population hasn’t recovered. It’s really sad. We did find a single starfish on the beach in Davis Bay, but it was the only one we saw all trip.
Camping was made a bit more difficult this year because of Astrid’s cast. She couldn’t go in the water, she didn’t sleep well at night, and we had to watch her a bit more closely at the playground, not that it discouraged her from climbing. Having a cast wasn’t ideal for camping but Astrid’s a resilient kid.
Like most campgrounds in BC, Porpose Bay was full of kids getting around on bikes. We’ll have to bring Astrid’s bike next year (assuming she’s not in a cast).
The sunshine coast is a beautiful area to explore and Porpoise Bay is a great campground to use as a base. Sechelt, Davis Bay, and Smuggler’s Cove are all close by.
We’re looking forward to finding a new campsite for next year. Maybe something in the Okanagan. Last year we did 2 nights at Alice Lake and in 2017 we spent 1 night at Golden Ears. Tradition dictates that we do a 4-night camping trip next year. We’ll see if that happens.
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.
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.