Monday, April 30, 2007

I’m a stay-at-home dad

When you live where I live, you sometimes get the feeling the world is very small. Sometimes I feel like the only man in the world who is staying at home with his child. I am only starting to realize that this is 2007 and attitudes toward men staying at home have changed dramatically. In my case, I quit my job to do so - I am not on parental leave. I have therefore entered the abyss, not knowing where or when I will be working next. It is kind of frightening. I have done a lot of thinking on the subject and have come to the conclusion that staying at home is a much more rewarding position than any job I have ever had. Suppose we were living in suburb, the only part of the GTA where we could afford a home - and even then we would be stretched pretty thin. Well, it is unlikely I would get home from work before 6 pm. When you consider that Jonas goes to bed at 7, that would leave me with no more than an hour to spend with him each day. How sad is that?

I am so happy to have this bonding time with Jonas. We are getting to know each other very well. I have become quite adept at getting him to go to sleep with minimal fuss. I love how it feels to have him fall asleep in my arms. He lets out the cutest little sigh just before he falls asleep, and then I hear a very quiet snore. I consider it a victory each time I get him to go down.

Being a stay-at-home parent is much more challenging than working outside the home. The only breaks I get are when Jonas goes for a nap, which on a good day happens twice and lasts for about an hour each time. I treasure the quiet time when he sleeps. You have no idea how nice it is to have time to decompress and rejuvinate myself for the oncoming storm. There are times, however, when I have to get some work done for my column. I do most of my writing after he’s gone to bed, but there are instances when I have to make phone calls or conduct interviews. Last week I was on a conference call with Ottawa coach Bryan Murray. And guess what? Yep, Jonas was between naps. I held Jonas in my lap, hoping he wouldn’t fuss, but of course he did. So, I did what any parent would do - I put my finger in his mouth and prayed that would do the trick. It didn’t. I managed to get through the call without major incident. I guess Jonas had a few questions of his own for Murray.

Jonas is now crawling enthusiatically and can hold himself up rather nicely, as you can see in this picture. This is my favourite because it really demonstrates the joy he exhibits every day.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Soon We’ll Be Leaving

Well, we are looking at moving to Timmins on May 24. Christine gave her notice to the hospital today and I let the college know last week that I will not be returning next semester. I am a little miffed that nobody at the college has bothered to acknowledge my resignation, but I guess that’s the way it goes. I am more excited about moving than Christine. We are both attached to Fort Albany in similar and different ways. From Christine’s perspective, she is sad to leave after just returning to work this month. I, on the other hand, was left with a sour taste in my mouth at the end of the last semester. I found out there were a few students who were not happy with the way I was teaching. I can accept that, but truthfully I bent over backwards to help these students through personal struggles. It leaves me with the feeling that my best will never be good enough. That’s the biggest challenge with teaching: you always feel that you could be doing more. It’s a horrible thing to feel.

There’s also the isolation factor I’m dealing with. I spend each and every day looking after Jonas, which is great. However, it leaves little time for me to do anything else. Even taking Jonas over to the school is a challenge because I have him on such a tight schedule. Sure, I know very few people in Timmins, but at least I will have the prospect of a new job or doing volunteer work in order to meet people. Timmins...get ready cause we’re coming’.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Two Weeks Down

I have completed my first two weeks as a stay-at-home father, and I have to say that I am loving it. Jonas and I are getting along famously - he seems interested in what I have to say, and I in turn hang on his every ga-ga and goo-goo. On days when Christine has been working, I’ve been getting up with her around 6:15 am. I take the dog out, eat breakfast, drink my coffee and read whatever it is that needs reading, listen to CBC radio and watch Sportsnet Connected with the sound off - and wait for the little guy to wake up. He wakes up between 8:30 and 9. We play for a few minutes and then I feed him his (breast) milk and cereal. The milk doesn’t come from my breast. He plays and I putter for a while and then he’s usually ready for a nap by 10:30. While he’s napping, daddy goes on the internet, reads over the previous night’s baseball box scores and gets his Facebook fix, the first of many for the day. Christine comes home at 11:30, feeds Jonas and herself and then goes back to work. We play, I feed him lunch, he naps, Christine feeds him at 4:30, he plays and then maybe naps while I eat my dinner. Christine doesn’t get home until after 8 p.m., so it is a pretty long day together. Feed, play, nap. You get the idea.

I am busy applying for jobs in Timmins, jobs I might actually enjoy. Christine is in real demand in T-Town, so it might actually be her job that moves us there. We are looking the May 24 weekend as a possible moving date. I guess we’re in no real rush, but I am anxious to get moved into the new house and do the type of things that men do around the house, like cut the lawn and fix things that need fixin’.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Snowed Under!

Well, we are getting hammered by the worst snowstorm of the winter - in April. It has been snowing non-stop for the past three days. It is a nice excuse for me to delay the start of my running season. I’m confident I’ll be able to find other "reasons" to keep putting it off.

I have added some new photos of Jonas to the album to go along with the ones below.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Anatomy of a Deal

Well, we closed the deal on our house last Friday, and of course it was not without hitches and glitches. The bottom line is that we regret even considering going with an ING DIRECT mortgage. Let me just say they are not for everyone, and certainly not for us. With only two weeks to close the deal, we were forced to jump through hoops every step of the way, and after our "mortgage specialist" assured us we had been approved, it seemed there was always another document to send. It was a nightmare, to be frank. It felt like we were begging for a mortgage. Just a horrible experience.

To may a long story short, we phoned our real estate agent Debbie Kolli at about 1 p.m. on Friday to devise a fallback plan. She made a call to Cindy Gutcher at ScotiaBank in Timmins, and the wheels were set in motion. Keep in mind, we were thinking our lawyer’s office would phone any minute to tell us ING had advanced our money. At 2 p.m., when our "mortgage specialist" hadn’t returned our latest phone call, we headed over to ScotiaBank. Cindy told us she phoned head office in Toronto and said they could get the money to us in two hours. Cindy, along with Jeannie Deadman, took our documents that we had already sent to ING two weeks earlier and reviewed them. Everything was in order. All they had to do was verify that Christine was returning to work on Monday. A quick call to her boss confirmed as much. All they needed was a pay stub from me, no letter of employment or notice of assessments were needed. While we were sitting in Jeannie’s office, our specialist from ING finally phoned back. It’s a long story, but basically they weren’t ready to give us our mortgage because they still needed an authorized person to write a letter stating that my contract was indeed going to be renewed. We told the guy we were moving on to another mortgage company. Man, was that sweet. It was so nice that ING didn’t get our business. And our mortgage rate was actually better with ScotiaBank!

Anyway, everything worked out in the end. ScotiaBank got us our money just before the deadline to register the title. The lesson learned: ING bad; ScotiaBank good.