Friday, 30 June 2017

Matthew's First Father's Day

...Look at you up there, juggling babies like a pro.

I'm a bit late with this one, but I think that's just how it's going to be from now on... A couple of Sundays ago we celebrated Father's Day for Matthew - a big one for him this year! The day started out with a pancake breakfast and some playtime with the babies, and then we went over to Car Free Day on Main St.

George, Terra, Matthew, blurry fist

We had been "through" Car Free Day in previous years (driving through on the periphery) when it was hot, sunny, and seething with people. This year was damp and drizzly. Actually for the first half of the day we kept making Plan B's to avoid having to go out in it (parenthood truth: you can't hold an umbrella and push a double stroller at the same time, and neither of us own rain coats). However after much deliberation we decided to go, because Matthew had a special order to pick up from the games store (and the games store gents hadn't met the babies yet). Also we bribed ourselves with a promise of bagels from the Jewish bakery across the street from the games store, if only we could make it there.

...So we finally girded our loins and strolled forth, through the back streets from Granville to Main. Granville to Main (and 24th Ave, at that) is longer than any other stroller walk we have attempted with the babies (our previous longest stroll was to get the babies vaccinated at Ontario St, just 2 blocks shy of Main). Although we used to do this on the reg before the babies arrived, now it seems like a long and fraught journey. It's fair to say that we were most concerned: 1. that the babies would cut up rough halfway there and we would have nowhere to stop and feed/change/console them, and 2. that I wouldn't make it as I am still a bit weak and lacking in stamina.

Here are some of the sights we saw on our journey:

A wood pecker! We actually saw 3 of these throughout the day, mostly on the ground foraging between the pavement cracks for ants.

Creepy abandoned deconstructed house with a decaying white picket fence.

Gregarious tortoiseshell

This is one of many urban veggie gardens we observed and admired. There is certainly a trend in Mount Pleasant to rip out your entire front yard and plant vegetables. I'm not talking a small patch here, folks, I'm talking rows upon rows, enough to cater many meals with.

The air was damp and heavy, and the flowers all looked super bright against the gray sky.

Those who know me know I love a good fungus photo opportunity. Vancouver has so many interesting fungi.
When we got to Main Street the crowds were not too thick to navigate a stroller through. Nevertheless we remained focused and bee-lined for Strategies.

Matthew with his babes.
After checking in with the men at Strategies and showing off George and Miriam (Matthew is a regular at the games store as he has been going there almost weekly for 5 years!). The team there were very welcoming of the babies, although we parked them in a corner because I am a bull in a china shop with that double stroller. Matthew picked up his long-anticipated gaming swag, and we strolled on to Solly's.

We had worried that we wouldn't be able to get into Solly's due to crowds and stairs (both banes to mobility devices, we are learning). But in fact there was a ramp and we managed to pick the exact moment when no other customers were in the store. We thought maybe because the street festival was attracting people with food options, but soon after we ordered we were followed by a veritable horde of people, including fully uniformed police, fellow stroller-pushers, and an electric wheelchair. Solly's isn't that big of a cafe, but we all peaceably fit.

Weird: at Solly's they schmear your bagel for you, using a kind of "little hill" technique, where the hole of the bagel is utterly covered in a peak of cream cheese. That middle bite is all schmear, no bread.

Side note: I attempted to drink my first fully caffeinated coffee since before babies... didn't finish it (or even really enjoy it), but did put enough of a spring in my step to walk all the way home. Job done.

As something of a Father's Day gift to Matthew, the babies slept like perfect angels all the way to Car Free Day and back home again. They do love a good stroll in the stroller, and they were apparently soothed by all the bumps in the pavement and the crowds of Main St.

We wended back home in time for some cuddles before Baby Bath Night (Sundays. Please don't judge us that we only give the babies a full bath once a week. Until you have bathed two slippery infants screaming bloody murder you can't really know the challenge.)

All in all a successful, relaxing, peaceful Father's Day. My enduring thanks to Matthew for being an enthusiastic and loving new father to George and Miriam. They already know your face and your voice, and are delighted and calmed by you.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Dining Out

Before becoming a family of four, Matthew and I would brunch regularly in our neighbourhood. Most often on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Actually, let me go back even further... when we lived in Melbourne, Matthew and I dined out very frequently. We had enough pocket money left over from work, rent, and saving for our Vancouver move, that we could afford to have dinner and even drink wine during dinner. We would do this maybe 3 or 4 nights a week.

...I know, right?

For various life reasons which include the astronomical cost of living in Vancouver, we have reduced our dining out experiences over the years we have lived in Vancouver. One of the major changes we made was to re-imagine our concept of "Date Night" (dinner) to "A Date" (brunch or coffee, i.e. not just at night). Two advantages of this conceptual re-imagination:

1. You don't have to wait for the evening to go on your date.
2. You don't have to order wine with your meal, and in fact it is discouraged.
Bonus: It elevates a simple lunchtime meet-up or quick coffee in between activities to the status of quality time spent with each other.

(I should disclose in the spirit of honesty that this reduction of dining out has NOT corresponded with an improvement in my cooking. We are still eating on rotation the same five meals that I can confidently not ruin. It's on my long-range personal improvement goals list. Note to self: write a blog post about long-range personal improvement goals.)

Anyway, back to the story...

Last week my very dear Aunty Lorraine, who has been like a second mother to me while we have lived in Vancouver (and even before that), celebrated a big birthday. Cousin Carolyn was in town, and bravely organised a big family dinner in Aunty Lorraine's honour, at a fancy restaurant locally. Back when the invitation was issued, I just rsvp'd for all of us (babies included) and thought nothing more of it. So we hadn't been to a restaurant since the babies arrived. So the dinner was after baby bed time. What of it? There were family members at this dinner who we hadn't seen in months, and literally everyone else was going. And it was a special birthday for a very special family member. In short, unmissable.

...Flash forward to the day of the dinner: all day I had mounting anxiety about timing the feeding of the babies so that we could squeeze in a full feed before getting to the restaurant, so that the babies would sleep through it. This resulted in me rather enthusiastically feeding them more than they usually eat. This resulted in George projectile vomiting all over my good friend's mum, who was visiting (from Australia!!) for afternoon tea and to meet the babies. This resulted in us being an hour late to dinner.

But you know what? We got there in the end. As the birthday was a large party, we were seated in the back of the restaurant with no other patrons (well it was a Tuesday night). The babies were blissfully sleeping during our entire meal, under Gramma's lovely hand-knitted shawls that we used as car-seat canopies.

The food was delicious (truffle risotto! smelled like a rustic weekend vacay), and the birthday cake was a fruity whipped-cream vision. And the Aunty Lorraine looked radiant.

L-R: Emily, Brian, Leslie, Dan, Mum, Eileen, Gramma, Dad, Lorraine, Carolyn, Eric, Matthew, me, Eleanor, Bryerton

I think we will not go out to dinner again in the next couple of months. But it was good to know that it could be done.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Expectation vs. Reality

Matthew and I were marveling the other day (while sitting side by side in the nursery chairs, each feeding a baby and trying not to fall asleep) that the most stressful parts of parenting so far have had nothing to do with the actual babies and their health. Rather the moments of stress have come from ridiculous and unforeseen life details. It's a classic case of expectation vs. reality.

[Full disclosure: I had a long post typed up but then decided not to post it, as the following anecdote pretty much sums up our parenting experience so far... i.e. wasting time worrying about things other than the well-being of the babies, who are currently as blissfully healthy and happy as babies can be at 10 weeks old.]

For example, we were very worried that Terra might attack the babies. But in fact, Terra does not care two jots about the babies. And she is loving all our visitors, because she has so many more laps to choose from when staking out her next nap location.

Terra falling backwards out of her cubby yesterday. Weirdo.

Two weeks ago we were feeding the babies around midnight, and Terra was scratching around in her box (nice timing, Terra). She appeared to have a bowel obstruction, poor little thing, so we decided she needed to see a vet asap. I loaded up the cat carrier and walked her to the 24 hour emergency vet (thank goodness it's in walking distance!) at 1:30am for a bit of cat colonics.

Since then, Terra is on a laxative-supplemented diet, which has resulted in no more dangerous cat constipation thank goodness! However Terra has urinated on our bed twice in protest (we know this is a psychological reaction and not a physiological symptom, as she has a history of inappropriate urination in times of stress).

This has also involved buying two new duvets and a new set of sheets. Also, a fairly steep dry-cleaning bill as we experimented with stain removal. If you have newborn twins you know how utterly challenging it is to even leave the house, let alone take two unscheduled trips to the homewares store and two trips to the dry cleaners in one week. Not something we even remotely foresaw when we were mentally preparing for the enormous task of early twin parenthood.

It should go without saying that we are incredibly grateful that Terra's condition was not more serious. And that it is a privilege to be fretting about duvets and drycleaning, and not about sick babies.