We’re going!

We have finally been able to purchase a ticket home from Quebec, which means our little family will really be able to go East for two weeks. It will be wonderful and I am really looking forward to my family meeting my little tornado of a baby. However, he has little time left now to start walking. Yeah, I told everyone in Quebec a long time ago that if things kept going the way they were started, he would surely be walking before we visited. But although he has been crawling since he’s 7,5 weeks, he still needs the tiniest of support to keep his balance when he’s standing. So we’ll have to start seriously training him until our departure!

Just kidding, of course. We’re going… That’s all that counts!

A little known truth about sesame seeds

Yesterday we were gone pretty much all day. When we came back home, the first thing we did was take the dog for a walk. When he did his business, I noticed something weird-looking in his poop (by the way, this post is not for the faint of heart)… I asked Zak what he thought that could be. Like me, he thought it looked an awful lot like sesame seeds. But then, our dog doesn’t eat sesame seeds, so what could it be?

When we came back home and made our way into the kitchen, we found a big bag of sesame seeds on the floor. It had fallen from the pantry and been ripped open and partially devoured. There were sesame seeds all over the place and a large cluster of them in the dog’s water bowl. So here was the deed and the culprit, well identified. We took the dog out again later that afternoon, and he had three more sesame seed poops – it was actually pure sesame seeds, pretty much impossible to pick up – hopefully local birds love slightly flavored sesame seeds. The same pattern happened again before bed time.

Strangely, even though we didn’t pick up the sesame seeds from the floor right away, the dog hasn’t tried to eat any more. I guess it’s just like with us humans: when we eat so much of one thing that it makes us sick, we usually don’t want to see that food again for a while. Well, I hope he learned his lesson… And I’m glad to see that sesame seeds are not poisonous to dogs. A bit fatty, maybe, and not exactly digestible. But obviously not poisonous.

Poor dog…

Yesterday we were playing outside in our building’s courtyard. Our dog was with us, on leash, but we let it slip for a minute and he ran after the neighbor’s cat. We heard some hissing. We called the dog back, and when he finally obliged we noticed a big bleeding scratch on his nose. I guess, unlike our cat, that one knew how to defend himself! I have to say, it was well deserved since our dog had the cat stuck in a corner with no way out. Let’s just hope he learns from this experience…

Half way there

I really want to go back to Quebec before the end of my year of mat leave. With Zak now officially replacing me at home in August, our income will drop enormously and we will have to change a lot of things in the way we live. That also means I may not be able to go back home twice a year like I have been doing in the almost 6 years I’ve lived in BC. It sucks, because I would really like my son to know my side of the family and his umpteen second cousins. I want him to have the same chance I had to run around the house with 5 other children during a big party, listen to his uncle play guitar and sing, be passed from arm to arm by aunts and cousins, etc. But we also have to be realistic and travelling as a family of 2 or 3 is expensive.

We do want to go this summer, though, and bank a lot of memory in case we cannot go at Christmas. Which is why we have been checking the price of plane tickets worrily lately. Finally, this morning, we found some cheap tickets for the way there. All 3 of us are booked on a plane, destination Montreal. All we have to do is find a way to come home. At the current price, we’ll be walking. Let’s just hope there’s a ticket sale before that, because it’s a long walk!

Free to good home (take two)

Does anyone out there need a cat?

I’m not one to run away from my responsibility. When we bought our cat, we knew that we would have to take care of him for years to come and we accepted that. But we didn’t know how much of a mess we were getting into. When we bought our dog, many people thought we would end up getting rid of the cat because they wouldn’t get along. And get along, they didn’t. The cat hid for months. But he came around. Now they mostly live in peace, chasing each other only occasionally and even sometimes sleeping on the couch side by side.

No, the problem is elsewhere. Our cat has been sick ever since we got him. We made the mistake of buying him from a pet store, and he was probably weaned too early, which is a common issue. He has food allergies, so he’s on a special diet, and he has regular flare-ups of what looks like inflammatory bowel disease, although we didn’t go to the end of the diagnosis (cat ultrasounds are not cheap). Every so often, he stops eating and needs to be taken to the vet for some re-hydration treatment, antibiotics and other drugs. For the past few months I have been giving him over-the-counter antacid, which seems to be keeping the disease in check, but for how long? And how long will I be able to keep up with this routine of forcing a pill down my cat’s throat morning and night?

Now if that was the only problem… Our cat also has a history of peeing on our stuff once in a while, typically when we don’t clean his litter often enough. But lately he has peed in our hamper basket twice, as well as on our baby’s toys in the living room, even though the litter box was spotless. As if we didn’t have enough work to do already. He also meows a lot when hungry (read: all the time), which has woken up the baby way too often (and sometimes at 5:30 in the morning). Since our boy doesn’t sleep through the night yet, that’s adding insult to injury. And if we feed him more, he gets more sick and has diarrhea all around the litter box. Not a pretty sight.

We have spent so much money on him, and now with a baby and maybe only one income soon, we cannot afford to keep up with that rhythm (vet bills, special food, drugs, new furniture, etc.). But what do you do with such a cat? We can’t give him to someone we know, it would be cruel and unusual punishment (for them, not for the cat). We don’t really want to have him euthanized, but if we drop a 6-year-old cat at the SPCA, what are the chances of anything else happening? And if we try to give him away without telling the truth to the new owner, we will probably reincarnate into earthworms for all that bad karma.

Sure, he’s cute and sometimes even cuddly. But boy, if he died suddenly a quick and painless death, I think we would all breath more easily! Unfortunately, he seems to have 7 lives.

Free to good home

Today we posted an ad to try and get rid of our TV. We are actually hoping to sell it, but we have limited confidence in its selling potential in this era of flat screens. If it doesn’t sell, it will most likely end up at the thrift store. And we will not cry over it!

In the last 9 months, we have watched one show live (and it wasn’t worth it), taped one (that I watched only partially before giving up) and watched just last week another tape we had brought back from Quebec at Christmas. We decided that this use didn’t justify the $20 a month we pay for cable. Of course, no cable means no more TV at all. We don’t get any channel without cable. Nothing. But that’s just fine. Our computer screen is as big as our TV. We can still rent DVDs. And we have just discovered that we can watch our favorite shows online.

Our TV has thus become an enormous paper press, hence the need to get rid of it. That will free space for more important things (like baby toys, I’m afraid). If you live in Vancouver and want a 20 inch Toshiba TV for cheap, drop us a note.

Some day, when our boy is older, if TV still exists (and hasn’t been rendered completely obsolete by the internet), we may consider buying a flat screen TV that will take much less space. For now, selling our TV is the best way to stay away from possible addictions to reality TV shows and Baby Einstein videos. We’re getting rid of the temptation, therefore ensuring that we will find other ways to keep our family busy. And so far, busy we sure are. Sure, we are taking the risk of our son becoming ostracized for his lack of knowledge of the pop culture. But I suspect he’ll get to watch way enough TV at his friends to keep in touch with such priorities as Britney Spears’ last hair cut.

Now if only we could get rid of our cat the same way…

Stay-at-Home Dad

After months of real hard thinking, Zak has finally given his bosses his notice yesterday: when I go back to work, he will take my place and stay at home with our son.

Making this decision has been a real roller-coaster ride. I have no choice but to go back to work, as my employer topped up my EI benefits for the whole maternity leave year with the condition that I go back to work for at least a year. Not to mention that I earn more money than my husband does and I enjoy the stability and all the benefits that come with a government job. With the possible recession coming up, those were things we could not risk losing. But the question was: day care, or Zak at home?

The first possibility came with several issues, the first one being that we will not have a spot in day care by the time I go back to work even though we have been on the waiting lists since I found out I was pregnant (we actually went DOWN 10 spots on the list in the past few months due to the priority given to Concord Pacific condo owners). We would probably have been able to find private child care, but that scared us a bit since it is not as regulated as day care centres are. Also, child care here is extremely expensive: more than $1000 a month, which makes a huge dent in a second income (and if and when we have another child, it becomes rather ridiculous to work for the small amount of money that would be left after paying for daycare). Most importantly, though, we are hoping to instill certain values to our son and since we are already going against the modern materialistic trends, we figured that being cared for by a parent full-time would be the best way to fight back and raise him like we wish he was raised.Of course, there are also other considerations. Staying home with Elliot would allow Zak to volunteer, take a step back and think of what he really wants to do with his life in order to feel useful on the planet. Daycare doesn’t allow the use of cloth diapers, which are very important for us for their environmental, health and money-saving benefits. The kinds of toys we have been avoiding (plastic, vinyl, anything advertising a brand or TV character) would be unavoidable in daycare. Also, if Elliot went to daycare, and since Zak is never certain of when he will be able to get out of work, I know that on most days I would be the one leaving work in a hurry to stop at the grocery store and pick up what is missing for supper, rush to daycare to pick up our son, go home, take the dog out for his afternoon constitutional (with Elliot on my back), then try to cook supper with a baby attached to my hip (or leg, or…). Meals would have to be quicker, which almost always mean less healthy. Then we would have to juggle cleaning, laundry, everything in the evening or on weekends. Just thinking about it all makes me dizzy. And where would the quality time with our baby be?

Zak’s mom stayed home with him and his sister until he was in middle school, and he still remembers coming home from school to home-made popcorn for a snack and listening to the radio with his mom. He cherished those memories and he wishes our boy can have the same kind of moments.

But there are also some downsides to staying at home, the main one being the loss of an income. Daycare is expensive, but it’s tax-deductible, although you still have to pay for it month to month. We can afford to live on my income, but our lifestyle will have to change. Zak also had to decide for himself if he will feel valued enough in his daddy functions to stay sane. He was never the kind of man to fight tooth and nail to climb the corporate ladder, but still, society doesn’t value stay-at-home mothers much and considers stay-at-home dads nothing but an anomaly. There are activities to do with Elliot, he will probably meet other dads in his situation and eventually build a network, but still, it will be a huge change (and challenge) for him. He will probably be able to do some contract work on the side to keep his skills up-to-date (and help balance our budget), but that will take much of his free time and he may still have trouble rejoining the job market in a field like his (web development) that evolves so fast.

That is why in the end, I felt that it had to be Zak’s decision so he could live with it. And yesterday, he made it official at his work. He’s still scared about the future, but he feels like this is the best thing for our son. And I’m confident that once he gets a routine established, he will love being a full-time dad. He has tons of imagination and playfulness so I’m sure they’ll have a blast together. By the time I go back to work Elliot will most likely be walking, he’ll be old enough to ride on a bike (trailer)… It will be a fun time and I’m sure they’ll form a strong bond enjoyed by few other fathers.

So here’s to the next chapter of our life, starting August 2008. Children sure do change your life…