the thirties grind

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

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Hoop dreams: my brother’s journey to the Special Olympics World Games

Note…this post was written by my mom, Ann Carr. Words cannot express how proud I am of her…and my little brother, Shane.

Shane Read more…

Only in Surrey: the truth hurts…maybe deal with it?

From the "Only in Surrey" Facebook page.

From the “Only in Surrey” Facebook page.

The Surrey Board of Trade is asking that a Facebook page, entitled “Only in Surrey” be taken down.

Wow…does stuff like this ever piss me off.  Read more…

My childhood friend is on Dragons’ Den Season 9!!!

April 12, 2014 - AM 093

In February of 2014 my pal, Dominica Bay owner of the niche Vancouver fitness concept Pure Vibe Fitness Studio, did something really sneaky. After teaching her last class of the day, Bay changed out of her workout gear, had a quick shower and put on a power suit. She raced down to The Century Plaza Hotel in downtown Vancouver for what she knew could be the opportunity of a lifetime. Dominica didn’t tell a soul what she was up to, except for her partner (in business and life), Elgan Ross.

“I wasn’t sure where this would all go and didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.”

Facing the Dragons

Where Dominica had gone was to pitch her business, a revolutionary fitness studio that specializes in 20 Minute Whole Body Vibration Fitness and Wellness Classes, to CBC’s Dragons’ Den. What “Vibers” accomplish in a 20-minute class wouldApril 12, 2014 - AM 053 take over an hour to achieve in a regular gym due to their specialized training and high G-force machines.
2 months after that pitch, Dominica and Elgan were on a plane to Toronto where they would face the five highly accomplished dragons including Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving, David Chilton, Michael Wekerle and Vancouver’s own Vikram Vij.

“I had no idea what to expect,” Dominica explains. “I went in hoping for the best but I tried to keep in perspective that none of the dragons had a real passion for or background in health and fitness.”

The couple spent almost an hour in front of the Dragons, working up a sweat almost as intense as their Vibe Fitness Classes!

“The Dragons are tough,” says Elgan. “If you think you know your business, one of them will come at it from an angle you never expected. It was an immensely humbling experience.”

Dominica and Elgan will appear on Episode 2 of this season’s Dragons’ Den. Tune in on October 22nd, at 8 PM, to watch them face off with some of the business industry’s best!!

 

Seven tips for affording your first home

Owning a single family home in Vancouver isn’t always the best housing option for everyone. If you think creatively, there are many other homeownership options.

The prospect of purchasing a first home is overwhelming for most people. In Vancouver, the thought can make your head explode! As someone who has been there, I can relate to how impossible it can feel to get into the real estate market. However, a house in Vancouver proper is not the be-all and end-all! There may be other, very desirable options for home ownership, if you just think a little bit outside the box.

      1. Consider apartment living. People in major cities around the world live in apartments. In New York, apartment living is considered the norm. Perhaps the idea of raising your family in a condo seems restricting, but as density increases, this option is becoming more and more popular with young professionals. You can live, work and play in an urban setting…and often for a fraction of what you would pay for a house.
      2. The suburban solution.   Condo living not for you? There are a number of beautiful suburbs located a reasonable distance from Vancouver’s city centre. From the older heritage homes of New Westminster to newly built communities in Port Coquitlam and beyond, there is something for everyone. And with rapid transit options constantly improving, commuting is becoming less of a hassle.
      3. Consider a more drastic change. If your work schedule allows, you could always consider moving to a more remote area. Places near Vancouver, like Saltspring Island, Kelowna or Squamish are becoming known for attracting many young families who still want reasonable access to the city but are happy to spend most of their time away from it.
      4. Co-op housing. Housing co-ops are becoming very popular amongst young families. The purchase costs are kept low as all residents are expected to pitch-in towards the maintenance of the buildings, landscaping, etc. Many people swear that living in these communities gives them a real sense of belonging in a city that can sometimes feel stand-offish.
      5. Multi-family ownership. In order to make home-ownership attainable, some people have decided to look at purchasing multi-family homes with friends or relatives. This is a great option if you have aging parents who could live in a suite, or another family who you could share a duplex with.
      6. Finding the right financing. Getting a good rate on your mortgage and locking it in is a great way to help keep costs down, but it can also predict your payments and help better understand what you can afford. Look for mortgage rate specials and perks like PC points options from PC Financial.
      7. Find ways to save more. Find ways to save every day, such as using loyalty points to lower your grocery bills and to make other purchases for your home by using a credit card with rewards, like the PC Financial MasterCard. The more you can save, the bigger your down payment.

Just because it’s your first home, doesn’t mean it needs to be a house in the city. There are many ways to think creatively about where you might live and how you can afford it. Today, in cities like Vancouver, you absolutely have to be creative and think outside the box.

What have you done to make home ownership affordable to you?

 

PCF_LOGO_NEW_REDb_073113Disclosure: I am an ambassador for President’s Choice Financial® services and received compensation for this post. However, I am a truly loyal PC Financial® services customer and the opinions expressed are my own.

Vancouver Real Estate: city block in Kerrisdale listed for $28 million…

Kerrisdale_welcomeSign

It’s where the “creme de la creme” of Vancouver society dwell.  Kerrisdale.  Home to expensive boutiques, pensioners, private schools and empty houses.

For the bargain price of $28 million, you could be the proud owner of an entire city block of this prestigious neighborhood.  The land in question is zoned C-2 by the City of Vancouver, which would allow a buyer to knock down the existing buildings and erect a four stories of retail shops, and condos.  A developer stands to make a tidy little profit here.  The current owner has been holding the property for a while, but has recently decided to sell.  I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the possibility that CP Rail could eventually be running cargo trains down the corridor adjacent to this block.  That might make any development a hard sell.  I’m not sure buyers in a Kerrisdale neighbourhood are looking for the same urban grit as those keen to purchase hip condos in Vancouver’s Railtown district.

kerrisdale block

But, it begs the question.  Who does want to live in Kerrisdale?  When I was growing up it was considered an affluent neighbourhood, but it was still very family oriented.  There were lots of affordable little rental apartments and numerous families lived in the neighbourhood with their children attending local public schools like Point Grey and McGee.  However, when I’ve recently visited, I have noticed many of the boutique shops are closing and I hear endless reports of beautiful homes sitting empty.

Doesn’t sound like a vibrant, inviting neighbourhood to me.

Perhaps a new development will breathe some life into this south Vancouver community…and, look, correct me if I’m wrong.  Maybe Kerrisdale still is a great place to live…if you can afford it.

Plan to debankify this summer with PC Financial

Why shouldn't summer be THIS carefree?

Why shouldn’t summer be THIS carefree?

I’m pretty sure this is the most scheduled summer we have ever had as a family. After the stress of the last few months, I wanted to ensure I had a game plan! An organized schedule keeps me relaxed and calm…I am happy knowing what’s coming up next.

That’s not to say that our summer is going to be dull! We have some exciting stuff on our calendar. We’ve got a few road trips, a week at a cottage with friends and at the end of it all we’re heading to Portugal for almost 3 weeks with my parents! Bottom line, I can’t wait for summer to begin.

Most Canadians are like me. They like to plan and know what they can expect…especially when it comes to their finances. A recent survey for PC Financial showed that Canadians’ 2 biggest concerns when it comes to dealing with their banks are time and money – and they say the big banks aren’t delivering. Further, 79% of Canadians say ‘good banking’ is a bank that saves them money BUT only 35% of Canadians say their bank actually delivers. Almost half of Canadians (49%) say ‘good banking’ is about simplifying their lives…so that they can spend their time enjoying it, rather than worrying about money.

I’m excited to share with you that PC Financial is encouraging Canadians to “debankify”:

  • For a limited time, earn 2.5% interest on new deposits and up to $150 worth of PC points
  • Save up to $200 a year compared with the big banks, with PC Financial no fee daily banking – money you can spend on whatever you’d rather be doing
  • Earn everyday rewards with PC points, redeemable at Loblaw banner stores for free groceries and merchandise (over $1 billion in rewards redeemed to date)

PC points are amazing! I usually use them for fun things like clothes for my kids at Joe Fresh, summer toys for the back yard, or yummy treats for camping!   There’s nothing quite like being rewarded for good planning…I can definitely get on board with that!


PCF Logo

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of President’s Choice Financial®. The opinions on this blog are my own.

 

Watch: parents react to BCTF job action

http://globalnews.ca/video/embed/1343604/ 

Did you get your note from the Vancouver School Board informing you about the scheduled BCTF rotating strikes that will be commencing next week?  I did.  With a heavy heart yesterday, I listened, watched and read as our public education system in B.C. continued in it’s pattern of push and pull…where parents and kids are continually at the centre of this tug-of-war between the BCTF and government.

Don’t get me wrong…I want the best education for my kids and their peers.  They deserve it.  Parents and taxpayers also deserve to know their hard earned money is being spent adequately by our government. And accountability at the school level is also extremely important.  Classes should be carefully and realistically sized and composed.  Teachers should be paid well.  I get all of this.  However, as a parent, I am just.so.tired.  When my daughter began school in 2011, we spent a year of uncertainty as job action took place and the threat of strikes loomed.  Both sides dug in and, it seemed, no end was in sight.  3 years later and, frustratingly, not much has changed.  My son will be starting kindergarten in September and I fear his first year in the classroom will be much the same as his sister’s.

The hardest part is that I love our school.  We have amazing teachers and parents and community.  We all want the same thing: the best education possible for our kids.  However, it is starting to feel like it is, in fact, impossible for this to happen.  Bargaining is happening in the media, neither side wants to give.  It’s an all out war and my kids are getting caught in the crossfire.

What if this goes on for years?  What will this mean for my child’s education? What, as parents, are we to do?

I am genuinely asking these questions.  I can’t say that I blame parents who are throwing their hands up in the air and saying, “we’re done,” and are looking for alternatives.  I also rally behind parents who are doing what they can to support teachers by calling their local MLAs to voice their dissatisfaction.  But, ultimately, will any actions that parents take change anything?

Can citizens demand that a third party be called in to resolve this situation?  Is it even possible for this dispute be taken to arbitration…get the two sides in a room and lock the door until they come to an agreement?  At the very least, can the government bring in a proven and successful outside mediator to resolve this stinker tout suite?

What are your thoughts?

It’s just our kids that hang in the balance…no biggie.

It’s back!! Orange is the New Black season premier June 6th (watch trailer here!)

orangeisblackheader

Usually it takes me a while to get into a new show.  I typically hum and haw over the plot line, debate about which characters I like and pick apart dialogue.  I’m a hard to please television consumer.

When the series Orange is the New Black premiered in 2013, I was unconvinced that I would enjoy the story of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to fifteen months in prison after being convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend.  Then I learned that Piper’s is a true story…that intrigued me.  The show is based on the memoir of real life Piper (Kerman), adapted for the small screen by Jenji Kohan of Weeds fame. Read more…

Is my kid racist?

What to do when not so sweet things come out of this sweet mouth...

What to do when not so sweet things come out of this sweet mouth…

Kids say the darndest things…okay, sometimes they are blatantly offensive. Read more…

Call me Melissa…

mr mrs

When I was growing up, we were taught to call our parent’s friends by their last names.  Mr. Jones, Mrs. Wong, Mr. Hanson…much like the way we addressed teachers in school.

Although children today still address their teachers in this way, it seems the formality has been dropped for the parents of their peers.  I wonder why this is?

For me, I think one of my kid’s friends calling me “Mrs. Quinlan” (my married name) would make me feel really, really, REALLY old.  Even “Mrs. Q” would sound weird.  I’m so un-used to the name that when a teller in the bank addresses me like this I look around to see where my mother-in-law is.

I have one or two friends who are quite strict about how their children address their elders.   And, I have to admit, there is something quaint about hearing children speak in this way.  It actually does sound respectful and proper.  Is it how I’m raising my children?  No…but part of me wonders if that’s because it’s not the norm and I’m just following along.

There is so much discussion about how children today are not taught proper manners.  I believe I do a fairly good job of this.  My kids say please and thank you. I remind them to help others if they need the door opened or help with groceries or their leaves raked.  When they have wronged someone it is an expectation that they apologize…sincerely.  But they don’t refer to our elderly neighbour as “Mrs. Lee”…they simply call her Nora.

Does that make my kids unrefined jerks?

What are your thoughts?  Do your children use formalities when speaking to adults or do you think this is an antiquated practice?

 

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