Friday, 2 November 2012

A close call

Two nights ago it was Halloween. As per my previous post you can tell we had a lot of fun. It was a great night! Aside from some rain and getting in late, we had absolutely nothing to gripe about.

As any child, Annabelle wanted to dig in to her Halloween candy pronto the next day. I tried moderating it, but in the end I figured I'd let her enjoy herself. The candy source was finite and eventually I'd have her back to her normal self munching on red pepper strips and carrots instead.

Every time I let her have a sweet, in plays out pretty well the same. I pass it to her and she devours it, all smiles and happiness.

This last time was different.

This morning she came into my bedroom bright and early. My husband had already quietly crept off to work in his normal fashion earlier and I was alone in the bed. Annabelle immediately asked for a treat. I managed to talk her out of it. It's breakfast time, Silly Girl! Time for yummies, not sweets! I got up to make her some peanut butter toast and watched her eat. I went to lay my head down for a minute, since she was happy playing. She came in and asked for a lollipop. I convinced her to wait a few minutes until I was feeling ready to get up. I was feeling beat still and was having a hard time breaking into the morning routine. After a few minutes I got up and sauntered off to the kitchen to put on some coffee.

I passed her the lollipop, wishing somehow I could delay her desire for sugar intake for the day. I looked at the wrapper and saw that it was a dollar store brand. I hesitated. I saw these lollipops before while shopping there and passed them over because I was unsure about the quality. They were cheap though, and would make inexpensive Halloween treats. Should I give this to her? I thought. After some silent deliberation I gave it to her, it can't be any different, I decided.

I went to wash up and put myself together, taking time to inspect my morning face. When I walked out I saw my precious girl eyes bulging and grasping at her throat with an empty lolli stick in her hand. My mind flashed back to the First Aid training from college. I bear hugged Annabelle from behind and did the Heimlich the best I could remember. It took two heaves before the lollipop dislodged and flew across the room with her breakfast in tow. It's possible I didn't do it right but I don't care, she's breathing and that's all that matters to me. I am definitely going to take a refresher course though. If anything rings true for Annabelle Jean, it's her propensity for choking on things!

The moral of this story? Two things:

1) Lollipops are not a good idea for young children. I've given them to her plenty of times and have never given any thought to her choking on them. Lollipops are here forward banned, unless she is under constant supervision and the quality of said lollipop isn't in question.

2) If you can not afford decent treats to hand out at Halloween, please don't hand out Halloween candy. There are many, many viable inexpensive alternatives that are just as fun for children but do not put them at risk like cheap dollar store candy. Large booklets of seasonal stickers can be bought at the dollar store and cut into strips making it a very cost-effective thing to hand out. Origami witch hats, photocopied colouring pages, pencils. The list goes on.

In the end, it was my choice to give her the lollipop. It comes down to parent's discretion. That mistake won't be made again.

I am watching Annabelle colour and paste at the moment, and I'm thankful that things aren't very different. this morning.

Stay safe!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

All Hallow's Eve

Four Jack-o-lanterns on our mantle

Halloween night with a three year old. What a delight! Annabelle Jean's imagination has been lit for days.

There is something I truly admire about Halloween. It's not the candy, the decorations or even the Jack-o-lanterns, although I do love those things. It's the fact that nearly everyone--old, young, and the young at heart--open their doors to their community. It's unprecedented really. In what other scenario would this happen? Even on Christmas day folks stick to themselves, mostly. I would be quite uncomfortable rekindling a tradition of the past and taking up caroling in what is deemed the most charitable season of the year. Yet, I have no issues whatsoever with sending my child door to door to receive free candy, have a chat with each doting home-dweller and continue on. If only there was some way that we could harness this openness, this sense of giving and spirit throughout the year.

 We took Annabelle to trick-or-treat in a neighbourhood about ten minutes away from our own because ours is composed almost entirely of non-participating condominiums. We watched as the cul-de-sacs buzzed with energy, fun and excitement despite the unfortunate coincidence of a rainfall warning issued by environment Canada. Every ghost, goblin and their entourage was soaked. People were out in full force chatting with each other, laughing at their children slogging along and brimming with sweets.

We carved up our pumpkins the night before Halloween to set the mood. I skipped the stencil this time and made a rather wonky old cat. He looked out of sorts next to the pumpkin Jacks!

Annabelle and Ryan during our first round of pumpkin carving

Annabelle went out as a fairy with some modifications for the rain. Not that the modifications kept her dry, though! Thankfully a metro Vancouver Halloween hovers on a warmer mark than eastern Canada, so we were chilly but not freezing.

Annabelle wasn't feeling bashful at all. She soon insisted that we stay behind while she collects her bounty.

She contemplated all of the decorations, not a bit frightened or worried. She laughed at the skulls and giggled at the monsters.

A sopping wet pixie!

We were all very glad to get home. Wet and cold felt like an understatement! Warm pajamas and cider all around. We generally try to avoid things with animal products in them but we made some exceptions because sometimes you just have to. Annabelle's cheeks will be full with her goodies for days to come.

I think it's time for everyone to go and pick out a new toothbrush to offset the candy overload!

I hope that Halloween was fun, safe and warm for all ~

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Late October Reflections

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ― George Eliot

View from Burnaby mountain

Autumn has a richness to it that leaves me in an unending state of suspense some days; my thoughts all tangled up and hanging in mid air. Annabelle, Ryan and I have been laying low and letting the season sink in, taking time now and again to celebrate the moment. This time of year renders me sleepy; suspended in a cozy daze where by default I've taken to simple tasks: reading, writing in my journal, watching movies, knitting, and a lot of contemplating. Annabelle has her little brain wrapped around jigsaw puzzles at the moment, and always seems to have one out and in a state of near completion. A perfect rainy, Autumn day pursuit.

Last week Ryan carved some pumpkins with Annabelle again. He bought a kit to carve that came with stencils and tried his hand at it. I joined in for sake of participation but I wasn't that great at it. Precision pumpkin carving? Not my forte! I still enjoyed myself...although I'm sure not anywhere close to Annabelle's level of joy. Her little face scrunched as she squealed in delight at all of those pumpkin innards. So much squishy fun. If only I captured a picture of the finished product. Those beloved jack-o-lanterns succumbed to shriveling within a day. 

In this season of quiet pleasures, I've been thinking long and hard about the choices I've been making. Sometimes retrospection is the only way to see things clearly. I've been focusing a lot on creating a more enriching environment for Annabelle Jean, as my time with her is coming to a close. She'll be in school in ten months and I'd best make the most of this time.

My little artist 

I've always been extremely fond of Waldorf-inspired education. I love the emphasis on the whole child, on embracing a child's natural curiosity and creating an environment free from media, plastic, over-stimulation and processed food. I haven't always achieved that--in fact there are times where I've achieved quite the opposite--but I'm always striving for the most wholesome childhood for my sweet Bean. Some of my biggest goals for the next year are focused on bringing more nature and balance to our family life.

All of the activity going on surrounding the weather has forced me to contemplate the small things in life. It certainly has me feeling thankful, appreciative and focused on living in the moment. It has been a very eventful month for weather. Multiple earthquakes have rattled the west coast leaving me feeling rather uneasy. While it doesn't effect us as it does the folks up on the northern coast, it certainly has a lot of people wondering what would happen if such an even struck further south. Devastation, likely.  The great city of Vancouver has a majority buildings not up to code for the zone. Add that to a growing laundry list of emergency preparedness projects yet to be completed and we're all signed up for one big mess. Environment Canada has already acknowledged that it could likely happen soon.

Not only earthquakes, but huge amounts of snow in Alberta, flooding devastating the town of Wawa, Ontario, and hurricane Sandy burying the east coast in chaos, water, and destruction. In times like these, we all have to hunker down and re-evaluate our priorities. I hope and pray for all those effected by theses events. It has me thinking of my beloved, dear Grandma in southern Ontario.

 May everyone stay safe and enjoy this season of plenty.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Meaningful Minimalism and the Family

No matter where we've lived I've always been particularly fond of less.

Less stuff, less clutter, less visual noise, less for the Bean to get into.

When Ryan and I were living together in our first apartment, we lived in the tiniest, most cramped little apartment. Our bedroom, bathroom and kitchen were separated by a few small foot steps.  We made due.  We had way too much stuff for the space, though. We were constantly struggling to find places for things. What we should have done was get rid of a lot useless objects that were preventing us from enjoying our space.

It was during that phase when the seed was set in earth and I began to think about our stuff capacity. It look a long time before I was able to identify what that meant though. When I became pregnant with Annabelle my nesting mode began and never ceased. We had a garage sale and felt victorious. Yay! Look at all that stuff we got rid of! We thought we did amazing.

When we left that house to move north to Bracebridge we had a large truck filled to the brim plus an SUV full. It was ludicrous. All of that clever downsizing and we still had so much stuff to move. I remember feeling rather defeated on moving day.

While we certainly haven't perfected minimalism, we've learned a lot about our selves in the last three or so years. We've managed to live in some pretty small apartments with our toddler aged daughter and live comfortably.

Here are some of our household rules around stuff:

  • Only buy what you need
  • Only buy quality, especially when it comes to toys
  • One thing in, one thing out
  • Buy consignment, thrift or otherwise second-hand if possible
  • Regularly go through drawers, closets and storage and let go of unused items
  • Less is always more

That may sound like a rather rigid list, but it actually provides a lot of wiggle room. We don't always enforce some of the rules. Sometimes it's just not possible to combine quality with second-hand and so we opt for new.  Special occasions might require to splurge a little bit and buy something fun that doesn't fit in any category. There needs to some flexibility, otherwise it turns from a household philosophy into a personal restriction and that's just not what we're going for here.

There are a couple of categories which we don't feel strongly to moderate: children's books and stuffed animals. Those are two things that our Bean loves very much and she has resisted allowing us to let any of them go. We're curbing the growth of stuffies by not allowing anymore in, but the ones that she has are here to stay unless she says otherwise. As far as books are concerned, that's my fault. I have a deep love for books and I love buying them for her. I usually go to Value Village (a thrift store) and dig. I have found many books in brand-new condition by authors that Annabelle loves. At 5 for $4, who can resist? I do cycle them through so as to not overwhelm her with many books. She has nearly 50 books at the moment. They fit into a play suitcase where she keeps them. If they start to bulge out, I may have to reconsider some of them.

We are very, very critical of our clothing choices. We do our best to buy thrift whenever possible. That may make some folks cringe, but I have been able to find the best top brands for both my daughter and my husband for extremely cheap. My shining example would my husband's Tilley shirt. A $139 shirt, found in brand-new condition for $6. He is in love with this shirt. Another example would be my daughter's gorgeous fall dress from the Gap that I found at a consignment store on sale. That dress was my most favourite dress on her ever. She received compliments everywhere she went in that dress. Alas, she grew out of it. The best $3 ever spent.

Here's an example of the amount of stuff that our daughter has. In addition to this photo she has a small box put up for circulation. Also, not seen is her wagon that houses her stuffies inside her closet and her wonderful Educo doll house. This is the maximum that I'd like for her. Our favourite toys are open-ended, like her Plan Toys. We really like Plan Toys. Not everything is extra special, though. For example, we skimped when we bought her that Wal-mart brand camping chair. I have no reason to think that it'll break or otherwise not be worth the $9 we paid for it, though.

All of this is an an effort to spend less money, buy items that will truly last and the bottom line: simplicity. There are no huge fights over chores and messes because it takes me 20 minutes flat to clean the apartment top to bottom. And that's being generous. It really doesn't take me long at all. We keep our clothing minimal and only buy what we need for that season, with some small exceptions like Annabelle's Easter dress and Christmas dress, both bought on sale last year following the holidays for this year.

A Canadian fall/winter demands more sweaters than say, a winter in Florida, so there are more clothes in Annabelle's closet than what a simple home down south might have. The key is to not go overboard. Not having a closet rammed to the brim with clothes, so that money is wasted replacing lost items, and tempers flare when it comes to straightening out that huge mess is really important. Annabelle's closet only contains clothes that I'm okay with her wearing, clothes that are in good condition from brands that we like. 90% is second hand. I buy her underclothes new and I usually buy the least expensive because she grows so fast.

If I could narrow down what I feel is enough it would be as follows:

  • Four sweaters
  • Four pairs of pants
  • Two pairs of leggins
  • Three dresses
  • Four t-shirts
  • Four long sleeve shirts
  • Two vests
  • A jacket
  • 7 socks and undies
  • Four pairs of pajamas

That's my magic list. Sometimes I go over or under on a certain category. It's important not to be too rigid and just remember to buy only what works for a specific child. The whole point here is to remember that a child does not need 1000 of everything just for the sake of it. It's a waste of money, and inevitably results in tension when choosing an outfit or washing all of that laundry. I do one small load of laundry every second day and that is enough to keep all of us on track.

Clothing simplicity isn't restricted to Annabelle. We like to keep it simple, too:

This is all of our clothes. It is currently laundry day so there are some empty hangers but not many. Our pants and undergarments are stored on the shelf just above the hanging clothes.  Getting things cleaned up and put away is very easy here.

I wanted to share our philosophy because it's important  to me to spread the word, so to speak. Stuff does not equal happiness. What truly equals happiness is not having to argue over tasks. On the weekend we do a couple of ten minute tidies and everything is back in it's place. Having less allows us to be a family more and focus on what's important.

In the end it really is all about spending less money on every day things, and choosing to spend it on things that add richness to our lives. Consuming less is better for everyone. We've gotten better over the years. This year for my birthday my husband bought me a wonderful present: a Kobo mini e-reader. Definitely not frugal or necessary, but absolutely adds some richness into my day! I love it, and I know I'll spend many a hour reading to my hearts content. 

I hope this post inspires you to examine what you truly need and  find a balance that allows you to live happily with less.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Fall Pleasures

Summer time has long ago come to a close. I can't say that I was disappointed. It had been unbearably hot since early spring. Maybe I'm just a wimp, but little gets to me like being over-heated and sweaty. The cool wind graced us about two weeks ago. It came quickly and took most of our leaves in a few short day's time.

We recently celebrated two very special days: My dear husband's birthday, and our anniversary. We love this time of year because the happiest of days fall between September and November. Birthday, anniversary,  Thanksgiving, birthday, Halloween. Busy times!

This time of year makes me think of all the good things life has to offer. Jumping in leaves, celebrating personal new years, good food, hot beverages and hiding under a blanket with a special someone.

Annabelle is very excited about Halloween this year. We have a pretty limited budget this Halloween so she'll be dressed up in one of her play outfits that she already has. Last year I challenged myself to sew her a costume. That was a lot of work and maybe the next time I  do that I'll endeavor to sew something that  can be worn more than one Halloween, somehow. Something cape-ish? Capes can be worn by a growing child, right? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, next year. For now, she's a little Fairy. We're looking forward to taking her out for a night of fun.

So far we've carved one pumpkin. Ryan went ahead and gave her a Sharpie and let her draw a face on a large pumpkin. He then cut out the face she drew, exactly matching every marker stroke. I won't lie, it turned out rather...strange...but it's hers. Her little face was  filled with pride as it flickered on the mantle.

It has two eyes, a nose, a mouth, one eyebrow and ears on either side. Oh the imagination of a three year old!

Today we took some time to decorate a bit for Halloween. We haven't done much aside from the pumpkin carving and I thought it would be good to do something crafty with Annabelle. We decided to craft paper pumpkin garland. It's not going to knock anyone's socks off, but it's a cute way to make something rather than buy.

We used:

  • Black and orange construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • Thread
  • Sewing needle 
I made a simple template of a pumpkin shape and cut out as many as I could. Our magic number was 17. That's all that I could get out of the few pages of orange construction paper we had on hand. You can do more. You can cut them larger, or smaller, or a different shape. Whatever works for you.

Next cut out triangle eyes, mouths, and stumps out of black construction paper. Once cut out this is a great part for a little one to come in. Annabelle glued to her heart's content. I had to  take over and tape the stumps on because we ran out of glue and got stuck using packing tape.

Next, poke two holes in one side of the pumpkin. It helps to hold the paper down while doing this so as to avoid stabbing one's finger with the needle:

Cut a long string of thread and pull through the holes to the end and tie a knot. Repeat with the other pumpkins placing at random intervals along the length of thread, tying off at each one to keep them in place.  You can be as calculated or relaxed about this as you want. I didn't bother making the intervals perfect because, frankly, I'm just not that motivated.

It turns out to be a pretty nice decoration for mere pennies. You could easily "upgrade" this by using nice embroidery thread instead of regular thread, using nicer paper, decorating the pumpkins differently or any number of things. Use your imagination.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A long way from perfect

I hold no real, useful excuses for why I haven't updated this blog.

We've been planning some huge, wonderful changes. Kind of like a ship stranded at sea without a compass --all of a sudden someone spots land and steers the vessel for it with all their strength. That was us. In the process my creativity dulled and this blog, among other things, fell victim in the frenzy. 

It's been a long, hard year. No doubt about that. There has been so many pleasures though, that it can sometimes be easy to forget what we've been through. 

Let me begin.

Have you ever tried to walk up an icy hill during a snow storm wearing really impractical shoes? That's the only way I can frame what life has been like in the Hagar household since the Bean was born in 2009.  We made the plan to move west and filled our chests with passion and hope. We made poor choices, we made fabulous choices and enjoyed the ride over the months (and months and months) while we waited to get a break. 

That's where those last couple of posts came in. We were planning this move to British Columbia with every last brain cell. It was exciting. We needed a change so badly. We had been through so many trials with the economy effecting the cost of living combined with a strong sense to nest somewhere and put down roots as a family. While I can't speak for my husband, I have never really felt like I belonged anywhere. We moved so darned much when I was a kid. Combine that to living here and there as an adult and not having any connection to the Kitchener-Waterloo area and we just wanted to leap over the prairies and nestle into a ocean-induced rainbow high.

Kitchener was mostly kind to us, with some pretty glaring exceptions. Like having our brand-new-off-the-lot car get dented by one of our neighbours (cringe!). Our plan was to move back to the K/W area long enough to get our ducks in a row. We made plans, money began looking good last winter for a while and we leaned into it. It wasn't all just preparation and planning though. The move made us re-evaluate some of our standards, hopes, goals and dreams.

We ended up leaving behind a lot more than furniture.  We saw a lot of relationships end over our decision to move. Some were completely involuntary and others were by choice. It was then that we realized that moving isn't going to be a fairy-tale. Neither of us wanted to admit it.

My husband's company offered him a deal for relocating. It seemed too perfect. They even flew him out to get him oriented with his new work-space. The ball was rolling in April, so we thought. We gave our notice to our co-op and began to sell our belongings. Most of the stuff we owned was easy to part with. There were a few painful good-byes, such as the Bean's crib bed and our amazingly comfortable bed set. It was all a part of the deal, we told ourselves.

It didn't take long  for the plan to be botched. My husband's work was dragging it's feet and not following through on it's word. Ryan lost faith in their commitment to him and we started considering what other options we had. At the end of the day, we had a fixed amount of time left in Kitchener, and we owned practically nothing. It was time to go! 

As if that pressure wasn't enough, we all became ill. Annabelle only slightly, then my husband fell hard. I marched around our tiny apartment filled with a false sense of security. Ha! I thought, it's been a whole week, and I'm not sick--I won't get it! During that week my husband was so, so incredibly sick. We  received good news that he was able to work out (a rather shoddy and half-wit) deal with his work to transfer in the nick of time. We could hardly rejoice because my poor husband was breaking out in one heck of an illness. I panicked. He does the vast majority of the hard work around here. I needed him to be strong.

We loaded up what was left of our life, strapped down the roof bag on our little car and zoomed west. I wanted  so badly to crank the music and feel the freedom, but just as I sat my rear down in that passenger seat I felt a stir in my throat. Oh no. I fell violently sick. It was so bad that I fell into fever-induced hallucinations by the time we reached North Bay. I tried so hard to sit in my mother-in-law's living-room and offer a decent good-bye. I couldn't. I ended up going back to our motel room to shake, groan, trip-out and roast in burrito of blankets. I closed the hotel room curtains, ran the bath tap at it's coldest and threw my carcass in. I nearly passed out. By the time Ryan said his good-byes and made it back to the room, I was done for. I ended up giving in and heading to a doctor for a prescription in Sault Ste. Marie.

We arrived in the Soo and I immediately sought out a health care facility. I followed the direction of our GPS which guided us to the "old" hospital. I didn't know that at the time. Instead, I simply thought that people in Sault Ste. Marie must never get sick, and that's why this creepy old building was their hospital. We pulled over and without letting the car reach a full stop I dodged for the door of the building. I stopped and read the warning sign on the door that alerted me to asbestos in the building. Oh? I thought.  That doesn't sound  right...but I kept walking in. There was an old twitchy fan blowing in an empty front office, a flickering light and the hugest bloody spider in existence dangling in the doorway. Interesting. I wandered the halls. I spotted a weary looking elderly lady who kindly informed  me that this wasn't the hospital anymore. She looked at me like I was absolutely insane (If I looked anything like what I was feeling, I don't blame her). I took her directions and tried not to scream in defeat. We made it to the actual hospital, which ended up looking more like a space aged sky-scraper, and I saw a doctor. He gave me the strongest antibiotics he could think of. We went back to the motel and I prayed hard, took the meds, and ate like quarterback. I didn't begin to feel fully normal until we hit Calgary. Everything in between was a haze. I even managed to lock the keys in the car during this phase. I was out of it.

With the illness past, and a sleep-drive rhythm going on, we pressed forward. By the time we hit Revelstoke, we wanted to raise the flag and stay put. I could have lived in that small town forever. 

We made some phone calls and chose a long-stay hotel in Burnaby. They offered us a pretty darn good deal and we could stay there while we sought an apartment. 

Good Lord, Burnaby British Columbia has got to go down as the most insanely populated portion of land on Earth. At least that's what it seemed  like to me. Add in really unreasonable medians, turning restrictions, and houses stacked on houses curb-to-curb and you've got a bazillion people crawling on top of each other everywhere. I was culture shocked.  The hotel was a dive and there was zero opportunity to settle in and just relax. I didn't have the greatest first impression and my husband hadn't stopped bugging out from all the driving.

We drove and drove and drove all around  Metro Vancouver. Too many people, we thought. Lets go south of the river and go to a quieter place. Langley! It's so much nicer! Look at the great stores! Blah, blah blah. Yes, that's what I feel about it now. We're renting a condo here for an ungodly amount of money. I love being so close to the mountains and nature and the ocean, but all of that is being offset by the severe case of homelessness this place has. There are desperate people everywhere and it is so far from acceptable. Langley, and the rest of Metro Van has some serious issues that people here are ignoring. Maybe I'm just being grumpy. Maybe I'm insatiable. Maybe I just miss the simplicity of Northern Ontario and quiet chop-chop-chop of Memere Clo's house.

We've done some day-trips and an over nighter in Washington state. I love it so much  there. Washington state is so beautiful, clean, and the people are kind. You cross the boarder into BC and the urban sprawl from Vancouver is depressing. Not to mention that everything costs 10x more than what is reasonable. You pay for the scenery here, in more ways than one. Yes, we already knew it was more expensive here. It's like ripping off a band-aid. You know it'll hurt, but it always catches you by surprise. 

If I was a millionaire, this place would be amazing. As a family striving to maintain a one-parent-at home atmosphere? Not so much. We're planning to grow our family in the new year and  I really just don't know how we'll do it. Don't get me wrong. I have a lot of admiration for the Rockies and Cascades, but not the city. I don't know what 2013 holds for the Hagar family, but I've got my pinky fingers crossed for a little  peace and simplicity! I really hope that we find our place to call home soon, and find ourselves a little closer to that beloved nature and a smaller town.

My dear husband has been worked to the bone here, and his work isn't following through on much of what they committed to. As the holiday season approaches the truth is becoming glaringly obvious. This is all one big lesson that we're supposed to learn. We need to be thankful for what--and who--we have in our life. It doesn't matter where we live. When I tuck my little girl into bed at night, I know that  geography has got nothing to do with how thankful I am for her, and how much I love watching her grow.

I look forward to the year ahead. I don't know what exactly it'll hold at this point, but I know one thing:

Home truly is where the heart is.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sometimes you have to lose to win

The last few months we've learned a hard lesson. I good one though. My husband has been blessed with a good stable job since we moved back down to Kitchener in January of this year.The transition was awful and nail-biting, but now things are beginning to level out.

We took the first decent looking apartment we could find. It was small, a little exposed for our usual taste, but after a day of seeing horrible apartments one after the next, we took it.

After the spring thaw, the bugs came. Now, I'm a practical girl--my dream is to own a small farm after all. But loads of house ants in everything freaks me out. One morning as I was drinking my tea and sifting through yesterday's emails, an ant crawled across my lap top screen. I lost it. Immediately I messaged the property management and demanded that the lease be terminated on the grounds that we just could not live in this condition. Nearly two months of red tape later and we're on our way out. Thank goodness.

The point of me telling you this is that the place we found to move into doesn't require a rent deposit. You know what? That's just the kind of break a family like ours needs. All of a sudden we're up nearly nine hundred dollars. Immediately it made sense to look over our (dreary) finances and find a home for this cash. We have some serious debt that's holding us back from our move.When we first decided to leave Ontario we were convinced that dragging the debt with us was an okay thing to do. After a lot of consideration, and some logical opposition from friends and family, we decided to wait until we could get this debt paid off and start fresh.

Until finding this new apartment and realizing that we have this extra cash, we were honest-to-goodness not sure how we'd ever pay off these credit cards and get ahead enough to start saving money for the move. It's amazing what 900 dollars can do to list of debt.

We had four credit cards open and one really big debt from our wedding. We made some seriously immature financial decisions years ago that we're still paying for now. I hardly believe we're unique though. I think that there's a whole generation of young kids getting offered credit cards on campus in exchange for a cheap clock (true story--here kid, you want a 1000 limit credit card for this alarm clock?). The important thing is that we're learning now. In the last two years we've slowing transitioned to a type of minimalism that is really working. We don't buy things that we don't need now, we buy used if possible, and we've drastically downsized. The funny thing is that we're all much happier this way.

With the 900 we paid off two credit cards. We were elated to see them gone with a snap, after months and months of paying them down. Normally we would throw this kind of money at the big debt that we have but it doesn't make sense. Getting these smaller debts out of the way is allowing us to to amass a larger amount of free cash every month.  Just last week we went to visit my husband's mother. She's been storing our new washer and dryer in her basement ever since we attempted our move to Bracebridge. She offered to buy them off of us for 500. This was really good news for us. We came home and immediately paid a chunk off of another credit card and purchased a much needed car seat for our daughter --something we had been worried about being able to do for a while.

So, while the whole debt problem isn't solved, it has been lit in a new light. We're down to just two credit cards now, and they're really manageable. We are in a position to have those paid off and be putting 600-800 a month onto our big debt by the fall. And that's not even if I manage to secure a part-time job (fingers crossed!). We also have that big ol' RV that we bought thinking we were going to hop into it and drive across the country last year. We've decided to sell it, despite the work we've put into it. That five to six grand could wipe out our big debt and put us into a position to be funneling all of those extra monies straight into savings. If we don't sell the RV though, it would take us 14-15 months from Sepetember to be consumer debt free. Still, that's not so bad. I'd rather sell the thing and watch the savings grow.  We've looked at our budget and with some discipline and honesty, we're aiming to put 1000 a month straight into savings every month once this debt is paid.

B.C, we're coming. Some days that west coast seems like a distant planet. We had given up on it for some time,  thinking that we'd never get things rolling. It's amazing what paying off a couple of small debts can do.

I'd like write more now that I have a little hope.