the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Archive for the category “Married With Children”

Do your babysitters do more than sit?

So…when I was a babysitter not so long ago (indulge me) I didn’t just “sit”. After the kids in my care went to sleep, and before I retired to the couch or tied up the phone line for hours on end, I would often do dishes fold laundry or some other kind of extra work. I always asked the parents before they left if there was anything extra they’d like me to do. Of course, the teenage me secretly prayed they wouldn’t come up with anything but I always complied when something was requested. I think I made $5/hour…maybe $8 in my hay day.

I often pay babysitters between $8-12 an hour and I have only ever had ONE do some extra chores (and she was a nanny by day).
Read more…

Love your fellow Mama

This morning, my daughter had cross country practice. I was surprised when she said she wanted to join the team because (a) she’s not really a runner and (b) it would mean getting up earlier than usual and my girl likes her sleep. The first few practices, she jumped out of bed, got dressed, ate breakfast and skipped down the road to school. Today, however, my early wake-up call was met with a lot of resistance.

With a little encouragement and positive talk, we got her to the practice on time. I’d like to say that this is the case every time we have a struggle in the morning, but it is definitely not. Many, many mornings are spent nagging and negotiating and yelling. I feel depleted and defeated, collapsing into my car to get to work…guilt gnawing at the pit of my stomach all the way there. I imagine my kids going through their day with the same feeling and I wonder if they feel sad and mad at me all day at school.

However, when I see them later on, they are not harboring any ill will or residual angst from the mornings chaos. They meet me with smiles and hugs…we’re all good. And, so it goes. Read more…

STOP IT!! I’m sick of seeing gross stuff at the public pool

I’ve been taking my kids swimming since they were babies.  Over the years, I have become more and more appalled by what people seem to think is okay behavior at public swimming pools.  So much so, that I actually think people need a list they can review when it comes public pool etiquette. Read more…

Palm Springs with kids

Palm Springs

This spring break I was dying to get away.  Funds were limited, however, so I was looking for something that wouldn’t break the bank.  Sunshine and heat were a must, however, so I was looking at desert destinations, where the warm weather is basically a guarantee. Read more…

What if your kid’s Vancouver school crumbles in an earthquake?

earthquake1 Alaska Earthquake March 27, 1964. Wreckage of Government Hill... earthquake3 SONY DSC earthquake5

 

These are images from around the world of schools that have been damaged in earthquakes.  If you have been paying attention to the news recently, there has been a lot of squabbling and finger pointing going on between the Vancouver School Board and Ministry of Education in regards to seismic upgrades that are desperately needed in our public schools.  It is frightening how many schools are in need of upgrades…many of them (including my own children’s school) are deemed to be Red = High 1 (Most vulnerable structure; at highest risk of widespread damage or structural failure; not reparable after event). Read more…

B.C. childhood poverty rates: still poor

child poverty

A coalition of advocacy groups says the level of child poverty in B.C. is growing, with roughly 1 in 5 children in the province living in poverty.

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Why “busy” is a four letter word

More of this please....

More of this please….

So, I haven’t been writing here in a while.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that has been stopping me.  Sure, there are little things like (a) blogging has begun to feel like an obligation (b) the amount of effort and time I need to put in to keep this up is taking a toll (c) I am just too busy.

Busy.

For me, it’s really become a four letter word.   Read more…

Value Village’s #thriftortreat: WIN $100 for this Halloween!

thriftortreat

So…I’m not one of those Pinterest moms, who begins working on their child’s costume on November 1st.  I’m a last minute, spend as little money as possible kinda gal.  Luckily, so far, my kids costume requests have been pretty simple and we’ve managed to get by with inexpensive store-bought variations of characters.  So, this year, when I was invited to the #thriftortreat blogger event at Value Village – I was excited.  The store graciously provided me with $50 to spend on costumes and Halloween decor, so that I could show you just how many options they have for you! Read more…

A kick in the ball: gratitude

IMG_20140815_183007

I’m sitting here in my dining room with a rare hour to myself before I go to pick the kids up from school.  The rain is pouring down outside my window, which tells me summer is over and I should be getting ready to hunker down for at least 6 months of nesting.  Believe it or not, THAT sounds like heaven.

We’ve had a very eventful spring and summer.  It’s been difficult and draining.  Our family has been challenged in ways that I didn’t plan for…how could I?  Our lives were turned inside out and upside down.  But…here we are at the end…and I can’t help but feel grateful.

Two weeks ago, Dave and I went to see his oncologist.  Although we knew the chances that the chemotherapy he received did not work were very low, those old feelings of worry and uncertainty still wormed their way into the pit of my stomach.  Dave told me he was preparing himself for bad news.  He was nervous, I could tell.  I didn’t want to let him know I was feeling the same…so I smiled, held his hand and said “don’t be dumb…it’s going to be fine.  It worked.”

To make a long story short – we got good news that day.  Hell, we got the. best. news. possible.  Dave’s tumour was gone…the medicine had worked.  He was cancer free.  We laughed, we cried, we kissed, we hugged.  We rushed to get our beautiful kids and brought them straight out for ice cream.

“Remember the special medicine Daddy had to get for his cancer?”  Dave said to them as we sat outside in the late-summer sun.  “Well, it worked.  Daddy is all better.”

Asher smiled and continued to lick his cone.  I’m not sure he will ever fully understand what’s gone on in our family over the last few months.  However, Cait is a different story.  Before the words had fully parted her daddy’s lips, she had her arms thrown around his neck.  It was the kind of hug where every molecule in her being was invested.  Her eyes pursed tightly shut, her beautiful little mouth turned upwards into the most glorious of smiles.

There are moments that, as a parent, take your breath away.  This was one of them.  As I watched my husband and daughter embrace, my heart felt so incredibly full…and in that tiny moment, I realized I could feel grateful for everything that happened to us.

This doesn’t mean I don’t wish it never happened.  Why would anyone want to go through it…but when something like this happens in your family, you don’t have a way around it.  You have to go through it.  The gift at the end is getting to look back and seeing what you learned along the way.

I learned that I can’t plan for everything.  There are things in life that I will never (ever, ever, ever) have control over.  I learned to be so grateful for my own health and the health of my family.  So often, we take this for granted.  I learned that I no longer have time for bullshit…or drama, or things that make me feel less than happy in general.  I learned that I can’t do everything or please everyone…that I have to say no gracefully – and that I will feel better for doing it.

I learned that what matters most in life is my family.  Our little party of four will be forever stronger because of this experience.  It’s not something that’s tangible or necessarily apparent to someone looking in from the outside…but we know it.  We know how lucky we are compared to others who have had cancer touch their lives.  Luckier than those who have lost years of their lives to a battle, those who have lost loved ones and those who have had to look their children in the eyes to tell them that mommy or daddy isn’t going to get better.

“Dave is doing great.”  Every time I say it, I can’t help but smile.  Nevertheless, there is a little part of me that always remembers that this is not the case for everyone.  There were others who visited the same oncologist that same day and got terrible, devastating news.

Finally, I’m not entirely certain that this is, in fact, the end of this journey.  I feel like I may look back a year from now or even five years from now and realize that I have learned even more.

But, for today, I am grateful.

 

How to own a home in Vancouver and still have a life!

Yes. It IS possible.

We all know Vancouver is the most expensive city in Canada to live in. Yet, many of us still choose to make our home here. Let’s face it, from a climate and activity point of view, it’s a great place to raise a family.

Nevertheless, families have to be pretty savvy when figuring out how to afford to live in lotus land. Personally, we have had to make many sacrifices as a family in order to afford a home here. But, there are many proactive things one can do to ensure buying a house isn’t going to mean you can’t afford to ever leave it!

These are a few ways we have made sure that affording our home in Vancouver doesn’t prohibit us from enjoying life in the city we live in.

Get outside

Vancouver has SO much to offer as soon as you step outside your front door…and so much of it is completely free! We go for bike rides, walks on local trails, swimming at the beach, attend free outdoor concerts…the options are really endless. You don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to have fun here.

outside

Our kids don’t need us to venture very far to find some outdoor fun!

Staycation

Owning a home in Vancouver has meant that we cannot take a lot of extravagant holidays. Yet, we still manage to get away at least once a year. This is because the rest of the time we do our best to enjoy local attractions. We’ve visited Harrison Hot Springs, Whistler, Parksville and Birch Bay regularly. These destinations are right in our backyard and are very inexpensive to get away to for a fun-filled family weekend.

This summer we went on a few local camping trips.  In BC, this is a relatively inexpensive way to vacation!

This summer we went on a few local camping trips. In BC, this is a relatively inexpensive way to vacation!

Limit big purchases

We have had to accept that we will never be a “toy” family. No sports car for my husband, no endless supply of designer shoes and handbags for me, no truckloads of toys for our kids. We have embraced living within our means and, in all honesty, it feels pretty good to know we’re teaching our kids that material things aren’t all that matter in life. We are a one car family (aside from my husband’s work truck). I ride my bike to work and the kids walk to school…not having to commute also saves us money, which can instead be used to pay down our mortgage.

DIY

Our house is over 100 years old. When we came to see it when it was for sale, there was a TON of other people looking at it. However, most of them were scared off by what were really easy cosmetic fixes. We didn’t need to do huge renovations to our home to make it livable…we kept a strict budget and were able to create a space that we love spending time in and where we enjoy welcoming family and friends. A little paint, some elbow grease and the ability to see potential is really what it took.

I've decorated my home with lots of old pieces that I have personally restored...designer look for a fraction of the price!

I’ve decorated my home with lots of old pieces that I have personally restored…designer look for a fraction of the price!

 

Use points

By taking advantage of reward programs, we are able to accumulate points, which can be used towards fun purchases for the family. The President’s Choice Financial MasterCard has been my go-to. I’m sneaky, though, and use my points to purchase Christmas presents, which allows me to put more money in the bank – towards our home.

I also recently discovered PC Financial offers PC points on some of their mortgages. Currently, you can earn up to 2,500 PC points for every full $1,000 of your total mortgage balance once approved, which on a $400,000 mortgage can add up to 1,000,000 PC points. The points can be redeemed at participating stores where President’s Choice products are sold, for items ranging from groceries to Joe Fresh fashions. Pretty amazing, right?

So you see, while crazy expensive, if you can afford to own a home in Vancouver, it doesn’t have to mean that you give up your life. There are so many ways to cut corners…you won’t even notice…I promise!

PCF_LOGO_NEW_REDb_073113To learn more about PC Financial Mortgages, visit an in-store PC Financial pavilion or visit pcfinancial.ca/home

Disclosure: I am a PC Financial Ambassador and have received compensation for this post. However, I am truly a loyal PC Financial customer and all opinions expressed are my own.

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