Sunday, November 25, 2012

We're going to Thailand! (if we can rent our home...)

One of the things I worried a lot about before Oren was born was our finances. Even though we do get maternity leave here in Canada, there is a cap on how much the government pays you to stay at home with your baby. In my case, my income dropped by almost 70 per cent. To top it off, the Winter is Brendon's slow season. As a photographer, he makes most of his money in the summer months. So when it comes to money we are tight. We thought through a number of options, like picking up another job to supplement our income...but then we stumbled on Thailand. 

Acquaintances of ours had already paved the way for us. When their baby was 5 weeks old, they up and moved to the beautiful country for seven months. They wanted to take advantage of the precious maternity and paternity leave they both had access too. But finances were top of mind for them too. Oversees, they were able to live on a fraction of what was required at home. In fact they saved money. They also came away from the experience with a baby that at six months was 'diaper free' and could communicate through sign language! But I'll save those details for another blog post...

Now, there is only one hitch - we need to rent our home. So here's our pitch. Send this out far and wide to friends, family, colleagues, people on the street that might be interested.

Looking for a unique place to stay over the winter? Rent a fully furnished laneway house from January 1st to April 30th 2013. Located in the Dunbar neighbourhood, the little home is close to UBC, transit lines, shops and restaurants.

While we travel to Thailand for four months with our baby, you'll have access to the best in modern living. The one bedroom home has a living room, bathroom (with bath tub), bright kitchen and office nook. A large patio and balcony extend your enjoyment of a quaint backyard and quiet laneway.

The eco-friendly laneway house has received lots of media coverage from articles in the Globe and Mail to a feature a David Suzuki exploration of urban innovation.

For $1800 CND per month all of your utilities will be covered, furniture supplied and high speed internet provided.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

5 things Oren has taught us...

Oren is already seven weeks old. It is hard to believe almost two months have gone by since he was born. There have been some major milestones since the little guy rocked our world, and not only for him. For instance, I finally figured out how to get my pants on before noon. (Mind you, I secretly miss my foray into nakedness so in retrospect I’m not sure I would consider it progress.) 

Here is a sampling of some of the other things we have learnt over the last few weeks thanks to Oren:

     1. Babies own a lot of #%$!’ing stuff! I started to notice this before Oren was born. Just walk into any baby store and you’ll quickly feel as though you are depriving your child of all the necessities of life.  I was born in Africa and my mother tells me that for the first few years of life I slept in a drawer. Times have changed and, at least in North America, there is enormous pressure to get all the top of the line gizmos and gadgets. So while I was trying to sort out what I really needed for a baby, friends and family were helping us fill our small home with an endless supply of baby toys, swings, chairs and cloths. If we lived in a 3000 square foot home this might be doable but when you’re trying to squeeze everything into 750 square feet, one more pair of cut baby socks can really be an issue. We haven't completely figured this one out yet, so advice is welcome!

     2.   Babies are tough little buggers. I think it’s important for all the new parents out there to hear that. We were just so worried about hurting him either by holding him, strapping him in his car seat or laying him down to sleep. Our nerves were frayed even further as we were bombarded by warnings and safety regulations that were meant to keep Oren safe. In some ways, they made me long for the 1950s when everything was legal. Sure some of this is important but for us we just had to take much of it with a grain of salt.  Take for instance co-sleeping: the experts say it’s a no, no. That you might accidentally roll onto your baby or smother him/her with blankets. But for us sleeping with Oren is a Godsend. It means we can cuddle with him all night and rather that waking up to a screaming child in another room. I wake-up to a squirm, pop out my boob and we’re back to slumber heaven.

     3.    Thank God for family. We made the decision to build a laneway home in part anticipating that we would have a child and were excited about the possibility of having him/her benefiting from living close to grandparents. What we underestimated was what a benefit it would be to us. The first week we didn’t cook one meal as Barb and Roger prepared delicious food and walked it across the 20feet that separate our house and theirs. You know what I said earlier about putting my pants on? Couldn’t have done that without the help of grandparents. When we need a little time to catch up on house work or take a shower, Barb and Roger are only too happy to play with Oren.

     4.     Walmart and malls were made for parents. In the fourth week or Oren’s life Brendon and I decided to take a road trip to introduce our baby to my side of the family. I amazingly still have three grandparents living in Saskatchewan. My parents made the trek from Ottawa to meet us in the middle where all my relatives live.  It took us three days to drive there and as you can imagine, we had to stop several times to feed and let Oren stretch his little limbs. We stopped in towns like Meritt and Valemount to stretch and quickly realized the only place that was dry, warm and big enough to accommodate a good walk with a vigorous bounce was Walmart or the local mall. If only I could go back in time and share this development with my 24 year-old anti-establishment self. Oh, the horror.

     5.    Having a baby doesn’t make you more mature.  Before I had a kid, parents somehow seemed older and more mature. Well I’m here to tell you that in our case it seems to have done the opposite. We’ve regressed to plotting silly photo shoots, bouncing around the room to bad dance music or an endless supply of Raffi songs, and video taping what Oren will certainly deem as ‘lame moments’. But man oh man, is it fun.