Thursday, April 30, 2009



My gut has rarely led me astray. Well, except for that four day stomach virus I caught at the beginning of this month. Heck, even then I managed to lose six pounds, so it wasn't all bad.

Today my gut told me that this house was not the house for us. It's a lovely house, that's true. It's even an "us" house - loads of character, quirky, small and not too fancy. But it all feels too fast for too much money for not enough house, when we have no reason to be in a rush. What are we rushing for? Why are we idiots?

All of this is to say, we've withdrawn our offer on the pretty little (over -priced) house in the city.

And can't stop thinking about the little house just north of the city with the park for a yard.


I think I need a holiday from house shopping. Just for a weekend.

And wouldn't you know this weekend is the Kentucky Derby. It's also my big 3-0. Let's all just have a fun weekend, shall we? The toughest decision I want to make this weekend is which horse to put my $2 show bet on. Giddy up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Loose ends

The House is ours - if it passes a home inspection and the bank decides we actually can afford it (I'm skeptical). I go from really excited, to really so-so, to really excited again in the span of minutes. Can we really afford this stress-free? I know that logically we can pay the bills, but does this jump in mortgage and upkeep leave us running too lean? We've spent years running lean, I don't know if we want to continue.

But I look at the house and I'm so happy. It's a manageable size. It's turn key (except the basement needs finishing). The kitchen is fabulous (can you say brand new stainless steel?). The space is so us. The yard is nicely landscaped, with lots of room for improvement and new growing things. Heck, we've already met the neighbor lady with her two yappy schnauzers. And then I go back to the price tag and I shudder. A booming house market sucks at this end. Sure, we made our money on it a few years back, but ugh, buying back in sucks. Of course, if oil prices bounce back, we'll be laughing. Everyone go buy an SUV! Um, no.

Then there's the everyday. Tying up all these loose ends on the house sale is keeping me busy. Chou only starts daycare next week, the husband is away and I've got a story on my plate. All seems to be working out (WTF?), I ran this week (more on that later), but I'm a little lonely. It's one friendly town, but I still don't have friends. The brother in laws were over last night. It was great to have familiar faces to break bread with, not to mention that they brought crap loads of hand me downs from the sisters.

Did I mention Chou is weaning? I'm surprisingly OK with it now that my body is scaling back the milk. She started by giving up most of the day time feedings (the biting was incessant so I just stopped offering and she never asked). Then within a few days she gave up the bedtime feed (which shocked me, I was told that'd be the last one. Not so). She's still nursing twice to three times between 1130 pm and 7 am, but during the day yesterday she nursed exactly once for five minutes, then hopped down and ran to play with her toys. I actually think I'm ready for this. But I wouldn't be heart broken if it was just a phase.

And the running? Right. Weeks of not working out and living on restaurant take out has got me feeling gross and bloated. I ran Sunday hoping to clear my head and mull over the house purchase. It hurt. Not the mulling, the running. My glute is offically not good and won't be anytime soon. I started looking for a doctor to begin the physio I'm sure I need and can't find anyone who is taking patients. I'm pretty sure I should just get used to this...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Full circle

There must have been pixie dust in the plaster they used to build houses in the '20s, because we've officially put in an offer on a house built in 1928. Our first house was built in 1922. This one is twice the size, of course, and has been redone from top to bottom (mostly), but still.

These past 10 days has been an absolute roller coaster of emotions, thoughts, feelings and strategies. We've gone from planning to live out of town, to living downtown, to living in the 'burbs, to building in the 'burbs, to renting, to buying an RV and officially becoming gypsies. Then, we found a house that had been on the market for months. We checked it out, loved it, waited a day and put in an offer on the same day as someone else...and got out bid. We let it go, thinking that it wasn't meant to be.

Two days later, while we're walking through something built in 1918 and falling in like with it, we find out the people withdrew their offer and the house was back on the market. If you had asked me last night which house I'd buy, it was going to be the one from 1918. Today? We revised our offer on the original house and sent it off with our agent.

Now, we wait.

In the meantime, I've found a kindred spirit in a childcare provider who lives 1.5 km from our (potential) new house. We were on the phone for 30 minutes and could have talked all afternoon, but instead, I'm going to swing by there later today for a visit. In the span of one phone call we had talked homebirths, organics, music, gardening, neighborhoods, shopping, languages, work and how many kids we plan to have. Seriously. She told me she loved me in our first conversation. I can't make this up. And I think I love her too.

The best part? Although she originally told me she didn't have room for Chou, it turns out she's got twins who only attend Mon and Fri. I need care Tues-Thurs. It's fate, yes?

Which brings me back to waiting on our new house.

Fingers crossed.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The games of a 13-month old

At 13 months, the Chou is a hilarious character.

Her newest fascination is putting stuff in stuff. It doesn't matter what exactly. It might be blocks in a shape sorter, a toy down my shirt or her new favorite, her doll Naime in the cupboard. Most anything goes in the cupboard - including milk. Yesterday she killed a solid 20 minutes just putting Naime in the cupboard, closing the door, then taking her out. Over and over.

Then I gave her some milk in a bottle. It went in the cupboard too.

Last night I was cleaning up and couldn't find the bottle. No worries, I thought. It'll turn up.

This morning, the Chou woke at 6:30 and toddled with daddy in to watch the news. Within minutes, she also found her bottle of milk. From where, we still don't know. She's a squirrel, plain and simple.

At 13 months, Chou says Dada, Mama, and Oh-oh, as well as several other words we haven't quite figured out what they mean. She loves to drum, play piano, dance and sway to music and read books. She's fascinated by other kids and will follow the older kids around in the playground just to make eye contact. She loves the slide and swings.

Chou's love of animals makes me very happy. While looking at a prospective house this week a stray kitty came strolling into the yard. Chou literally threw the rocks she was playing with on the ground, stood up and RAN after the cat, pointing and shrieking. She chased the poor thing until she finally got close enough to touch her nose. I wish I had it on video. Priceless.

She still doesn't love the stroller or carseat. She prefers the highchair because that usually means we're out at a restaurant (which she loves, but it's getting less fun for us). I have learned that avocado rolls are perfect for 13 month olds. She grabs the whole piece and gnaws away at it. Adorable. She loves Costco, too. I don't know why, but she does. I think it's the cart and all the idiots.

I've started looking into boarding schools - for me, not her - as her ridiculously cute but stubborn streak is already emerging. She clearly understands what is off limits and what is not, but she does whatever it is anyway with a wicked grin on her face. Her favorite no-no right now is plugs and pulling them out of the wall then running away with glee. Gosh, why do they have to be so cute when they're so bad? She's also started biting me (again) while nursing. I do think it correlates to teething, but at the same time, I'm not about to put up with being bitten. For now, a firm no!, removing her and not looking at her seems to be getting through but I'm starting to get more than a little gun shy on the daytime nursing.

Chou is also homeless at 13 months. I wonder if she knows? I doubt it. Although the playpen must be getting a little lame after over a week of sleeping in it. Sorry, kid. We're looking, I promise.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the other hand

Maybe buying a house just isn't what we should be doing right now.

We went to see the house outside the city. It's lovely and has a yard like a park. It's a good size for us - not too big - and has the most amazing wrap around covered porch, perfect for sipping hooch and shooting at the neighbour's dogs (because that's what you do in Saskatchewan, apparently). But they want big money for what is - no matter the porch, yard and basement bedroom - only a two bedroom house. And there's no garage. And the kitchen could use a bit of help. The biggest drawback might be not having a big enough closet for Mr. Wumpus's suits (he really did raise this as a concern. He's so metro).

Then we got thinking - maybe now is the time to do things a bit differently. The market here has gone through some big growth years; will that continue? If not, and things go south like they did in Calgary, we could be left living in a house that's not worth what we paid for it. Now, if we planned to be here 20 years, this wouldn't matter, but we're likely not here that long. We need to make a smart move; time is not on our side.

We've gone through a few scenarios: Buying this wee house and diving in to small town life, or renting for a year, selling the car and squirreling away every red penny, to bumping up our mortgage range and building. Yes, we are this skitso, apparently.

It's likely we'll end up somewhere in the middle. Not quite gypsies, not quite suburbanites.

I'm not sure how I feel about it all. Mostly, I just want my baby's crib and my pantry contents. If I had that, I'd be happy to live in a (really big) tent right about now.

P.S. Happy 13 months to Chou! Letter coming tomorrow.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

House hunting woes

Apparently this is impossible to find in Regina for under $250,000:

3 bedrooms,
2 bathrooms,
fenced yard,
garage and
a dining room.


We've found a few houses so close...but not one, not ONE has had all these things. Wait, I take that back. Only one, but the location wasn't great and it needed new windows and a wall knocked out (the living room was rather dim).

And I could handle giving up one or more of those things listed above if the price were closer to $200 k, but there is a downside to a booming town, my friends.


Tomorrow we look in a wee town 15 minutes north of the city. There's a little one and a half story war time house there. Sure, it's only got two bedrooms up (one in the basement), but it has a dining room, a good kitchen, a huge wrap around porch and a yard completely closed in by hedges. And did I mention enough room to put in a garden Martha Stewart would be proud of? All for the low, low price of $215 k. Argh.

Maybe I'll finally be able to stop being a city girl.

Oh, to dream.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bless you, Cable television

I knew I'd forget things. I never felt prepared for this move entirely, always felt like I'd forget something vital, something I couldn't just buy. I discovered this morning what it was - the cable for the camera to upload all my pictures.

So this morning, when I should be posting a delicious picture of Chou totally zoned out watching Veggie Tales and randomly bopping along to it, instead, I will post nothing, or a photo two weeks old.

My apologies. Now I go buy a new card, because I sure don't think this one is going to hold three months of pictures. Shit.

Chicklet teeth, Naime and mismatched outfits. Yeah, obviously I dressed her.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

First impressions

We've arrived in MuhGina. The Chou was a trooper yesterday through two flights, missed naps, random meals and a short visit with all the cousins. By the time we landed at 'home', she was up 2.5 hours past her bedtime, had seen two cities, made an airplane friend and was thoroughly done with being awake. She fell asleep on the taxi ride to our apartment and was so asleep I hauled her into the house in her car seat, undressed her, dressed her and laid her down for the night without so much as her twitching her nose. Poor peanut. She slept well, and managed to wake us up by 6:30 local time...that would be 8:30 Ontario time, thank goodness.

Today has been a whirlwind of missing our first meeting our real estate agent because Chou went down for a nap 30 minutes prior. But no worries, because, heck, this is the Prairies, where life is good and people are friendly and rescheduling just happens. By 10 we were house hunting - we looked at 10 houses, I'm sure, some of which were a total waste of time, a few others that were very promising, none of them yet feel like home.

The city is lovely - clean, good sidewalks, tonnes of parks, new stores everywhere and, here's the great part, we covered it from end to end in under 20 minutes. Our agent is a Vancouver transplant - he loves blues, sushi and unfiltered beer. In short, he's exactly the type of tour guide we need. The verdict? Five years ago Regina may have had one Indian restaurant, now it's got three, all that kick, and has an all you can eat sushi place with good fish (and he's from Vancouver. It must be good).

And while our agent was introducing us to our new city and prospective homes, I was busy introducing him to what it means to cart around a one-year old. As in, his car is now full of raisins and perky-o's, and he now knows that when I say, "We should head back now" that doesn't mean we should look at two more houses. Because then, the Chou loses her mind, screams and cries and I have to take off the seat belt, twist around and nurse her in her seat while he drives. He's probably totally traumatized.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Call me silly

But I can't wait to re-stock my fridge and pantry. There's something just so about filling your cupboards with nutritious foods, new spices, sauces and staples.

In the meantime, I have to use up what's already here and find homes for what's left. The plants all have new homes. The last bag of milk is in the jug (oh, I cannot wait for 4 L jugs! Stupid plastic bags.). Chou is out rummaging around in the park one last time. This time tomorrow we'll be loading up and heading over to a friend's for our last few nights in perfect company.

The midwife and I went for our last (for now) run together. I'm washing all my running gear and packing it (in the suitcase, not the boxes). We had our mummy group so long party on Friday. The phone gets disconnected on Wednesday. This lovely computer gets mailed tomorrow.

Holy shit.

This is really happening.

This is likely the last blog-o from O town...we'll see you out west!

Wish us luck.

Here new favorite thing. With an old favorite thing (GeeRaff)
Happy Easter everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The first of the lasts

Today marks the beginnings of the lasts - our last Thursday, the last weekend, last visits, last night in our own bed (oh, how I will miss you, bed!). I think it only hit me this morning that we're rolling out of here in a week. As in, moving. Permanently (for now. You never really know how long you'll go somewhere now do you?).

It'd likely be a much harder week without Chou. Having a child under foot means constantly having the play button on. There is no slowing down time; they are living, breathing, growing constant reminders of time's march forward.

Case in point: The Chou was fitted for her official first shoes yesterday. They're beautiful, adorable and bloody expensive. But watching her march around like the Minister for Silly Walks was worth every penny. She also had her first haircut yesterday. That unruly womb-hair was officially hanging in her mouth and getting plastered in her snotty nose. Not cool.

Pre-haircut. Note the fuzz halo.

She's also blissfully unaware of the chaos unfolding around her. While she may notice mum and dad are a tad more on edge, to her every playdate is just a playdate. There is no nostalgia or bitter sweetness to visits and final hugs. She won't even remember ever being here. Ah, to be that clueless.

But I know it's all winding down. I know these our the first of our lasts. And I'm sad to leave my friends and all that is familiar. I'm nervous about packing for what could be a three-month stint without access to all our possessions. I'm worried about how Chou will sleep in a playpen for that long (I think we've already decided it's worth buying another crib or paying for access to our storage to solve this one).

On the side of the good, I'm excited about our new adventure. Coming here, I knew I'd make friends, and now I'm awed and humbled by the depth of the relationships we've made. I get to do that again. Then I wonder about the house we'll find, and that's exciting. And I'll be back on the Prairies. I miss the Prairies.

This is good.

The Shearing of the Chou

The Sushi Rolling of the Chou - we've discovered that giving her full avocado rolls is a brilliant way to not only feed her, but also keep her entertained for long periods while she tries to gnaw the sticky rice from the seaweed. The Japanese are brilliant.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Knocked out

Where is that petition? You know the one that makes it illegal to get horribly, disgustingly ill while caring for a child under two? Because I'd like to sign it. A million times.

This is day five of not feeling great, day four of down right icky, but also day one of feeling not as bad as the day before. But with the move looming in eight sleeps (and that's our LOAD day, they pack us the day previously), this sickness couldn't have come at a worse time. I'm weak as a kitten and still have zero appetite, but still have to manage to work, look after Chou, tackle getting our home sold and get our butts to Regina. And in the midst of all that we have visits upon visits to soak up all the Ottawa love we can before we high tail it out of here. I'm exhausted.

On the plus side, being knocked out is better than knocked up. Also, I've lost a solid (liquid?) six to seven pounds in five days. I don't recommend it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How you know your move is coming up fast

1. Stop shopping at Costco because you can't possibly eat THAT much feta between now and the 14th
2. Start planning what to wear/not wear based on how much laundry you've done/don't want to do between now and then
3. Don't renew magazine subscriptions because changing your address is a pain in the ass
4. Ditto for opening baby's savings account
5. Oh, and renewing your Costco membership
6. Consider buying cheap coffee grinds, seeing as the expensive beans don't store well
7. Reconsider number 6. Are you stupid?
8. Avoid telling your doctors/dentists/massage therapists because you really are going to miss them
9. Try and cram in as much friend time and runs with running buddies even while sniffly/coughy/yucky feeling
10. Go out of your way to use up all the frozen bananas
11. Consider all perishable items in the fridge when thinking up dinner plans ...what can you make with oil, vinegar, three kinds of salad dressing, horseradish, mayo, tofu and sweet and sour sauce? Did I mention they also don't pack batteries? Hmmm....


12. Post on your blog several times daily (and then add to it) in the hopes you can avoid all the other cleaning, purging, organizing, paperwork you should be doing.


I thought I'd have until she was two

Chou's newest ways to ensure I get nothing done while she's around:
- pulling out every plug from the wall, trying to stick it back in
- pulling everything off of shelves, off the table (she can reach really high on her tip toes, apparently), out of baskets, etc.
- putting everything that is not food in her mouth
- refusing to acknowledge that standing up under a desk or table is going to hurt her head, again
- picking at anything that moves or makes a scritchy noise - such as bubbled paint, papers
- the Grab and Run - grabbing something she's not allowed to have and high-tailing out of the room
- finding every opportunity to run through open doors and baby gates and going straight to the recycling

Oh, the joy of a toddler.

I'll say it again. It's a good thing she's cute.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Home is where the hutch is

House shopping is a special kind of excitement for Mr. Wumpus and me. We love real estate and not the big fancy stuff; we like little houses with character and promise (and annoying plaster walls). Really it comes down to seeing the potential in a place and scheming and dreaming on how we could improve upon it. We're not experts, so it's a very good thing we don't have the money to go around buying fixer uppers and flogging them. We'll leave that to the home reno show guys.

With our departure rapidly approaching, we've found a temporary place to lay our heads while we find our next home. This move is a big one - it's our first with Chou, it's a big step up for Mr. Wumpus's job and, here's the big one, it's the first time we can buy a family home. Until now, we've done the tough job of eeking our way up the property ladder. We started in a little 550 sq. ft house and moved up to a 650 sq ft condo. When we tell our friends that our house was actually SMALLER than this place they burst out laughing. So do we. Sometimes. It's odd, but we love little spaces. We don't need much room and don't want to be too far from each other. Well, that and we've never had any money to buy more. Either or.

And now, no, we don't have an endless supply of duckets either. But we've saved, built equity, lived simply and combined with our moving bonus have enough to buy a step up from this house. We want something reasonable, let's say 1000 sq ft with a basement (oh my god, I don't even know what I'll do with all that room), three bedrooms and most importantly counter space in the kitchen and a dining room.

Because here's what we've noticed the most out of all the tiny spaces we've lived (did I mention we lived in an even tinier apartment before our tiny house? We're basically hobbits): the thing we've missed most is not storage (we don't have much to store) nor extra bedrooms (the living room couch pulls out, you're welcome to it), it's the dining room. More than anything, we want to have a dedicated area with a dining room table ready to host our family, our guests. We want the three of us to share meals and make it a priority. We want everyone to gather round and fill their plates while we talk and laugh and make memories. Finally, I want a place to put my hutch. Well, both of them.

Grandma, whom Chou is named after, sent us her 1920s era table and hutch when she heard our first house had been built in the same decade. It's a lovely piece, with creaky doors and polished handles. It came with us here and will follow us back to the prairies, ready to display my teacups and crystal, but there's another hutch. One this one doesn't know about. It was mum's, left behind when the sisters moved on into their newlywed homes. It and all mum's china and crystal, lived for 10 years at a friend's. Then, when we were moving out of province, we needed to find a place for it, and my sister took it in (but the china stayed with me. In boxes). Until now, we've never had a place big enough for the hutch - and now, as I look through all the listings, the first thing I look for is a place for that big thing.

It'll finally be home.

P.S. To J-9, who left a fantastic comment on my last post. You're right, on all counts, except maybe the new baby part :). Time to take stock, be OK with where I'm at and keep going. Miss you!