In March 2010, Nic and Stef bought some land in Pemberton. And in October 2011 they found they were expecting a baby. Now they just have to build a house... and a home!

Monday, December 24, 2012

All I want for Christmas...

"Is for this @#"$ siding to be finished!" says Stef. Well, he gets his wish. The last nails went in on Friday, just in time for a very sunny Christmas eve, and it looks lovely. Nice one Stef!

All Freya wants for Christmas is her two front teeth -- and she's got them too (the bottom two that is). The little razor blades haven't done me too much damage yet, and though they made for a few restless nights and a lot of drool, they didn't seem to be too too painful for Freya either. She's eating a spoonfull of rice cereal a day now, and on Christmas the plan is to give her a little pureed turkey with milk. Mmmmm.

Meanwhile the interior is being painted -- a creamy white everywhere except a few rooms: grey blue for my office/playroom, maroon for the master bedroom, and light yellow for Freya's room.

And the exterior world has also gone a lovely white, white, white... there's about a foot of lovely powder out there, which makes it tricky to get the stroller around but very pretty indeed.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you have a white one too :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Going green

It has taken more than 2 months, but the siding is finally nearly done, turning the house from the white of Tyvak wrap to the much prettier green of our siding. This has the dual effect of making the house look like a proper, grown-up house, instead of a toy project, and also helps it to blend in a bit with the landscape. (It irritates us when people say it looks huge... we're happy for it to blend in a bit! Ironically it has just started snowing, so as the house gets greener the landscape is getting whiter). This has been achieved thanks to the hard work of friend Pete (a proper carpenter who usually designs kitchens) along with the helping hands of a handful of other friends and workers, and this nifty blue machine (pic), which I believe is called a cherry picker, but I call the big blue machine thingy.

Stef is taking great pains to do a good job, making sure it will stay waterproof, and that all the fiddly bits around the windows and roofline are done just-so. As a result it looks amazing.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

All about Freya...

Some photos of Freya's first month of life. Isn't she adorable? We think so...

Moving week

FINALLY, we have moved in to the suite!! It's pretty much done, though there's a list of 20 odds and ends yet to do now posted on the fridge, from baseboard trim to plugging up the hole in the wall in the bathroom. Small things. Meanwhile we love the place. It already feels like home, and we can now walk to the grocery store and anywhere else we fancy. Such a joy. Freya and the cat have adapted seemlessly. So all is well!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Freya on site

Middle of August and moving day looms... Stef has nearly finished off the kitchen and bathroom, and then it'll be ready. Freya thinks it looks great.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Here's a pic of the suite with its flooring, and the kitchen half installed.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Baby's first Canada Day, and a moving day is set

Canada day has marked the end of my work and the start of proper summer. To be fair, May was gorgeous, but June was a washout. Now July is looking set to be sunny. I hear that being heavily pregnant in really hot weather is a b*&^h, so I will count myself lucky.

I'm waking up every day at 3 or 4am these days, when I stumble around in the dark having 'first breakfast' and reading a novel for a few hours before my hips will let me get back to sleep again. Fun! So it's nice not to have to be at my desk at 8am.

Exercise has become fairly ridiculous. I've taken a few aquasize classes, which is laughable as 'exercise' but good for just getting joints moving and taking the weight off for a bit. Also prenatal yoga is a good laugh. I should take a video of me trying to do what the instructions say (touch your toes... ha!) and post to youtube, if I feel like adding some humour to the world. Maybe not today.

The doctors tell me she is 'engaged', which means she's head-down and getting ready to exit. The whole process of 'dropping' comes with a whole new set of twinges and funny feelings, which is highly entertaining.

Meanwhile, the house is coming along slowly but surely. Stef has the floor in, and half of the kitchen. The bathroom is still empty, but should be started any day now. Of course there have been a whack of annoying problems...
1) The spray foam insulation poked right through the walls to the exterior, making the outside too 'lumpy' to install the siding. Stef had to crack the whip to get them to fix that... but eventually they did.
2) The regular batt insulation in the attic was too skinny to properly fit between the wooden framing, so that it tended to slide down the slope overnight. Again, cracking the whip made them swap it for a slightly wider set of batting.
3) The stain Stef has been using to paint the cedar 'belly band' (the wooden strips that run around the outside of the house to visually separate one floor from another) -- Sikkens Cetol SRD oil-based natural stain -- has been discontinued, and we don't have enough to finish the job. Ooops. No biggy. We'll either scrape up another tin from somewhere, or pick something that vaguely matches. I mean, really, who cares that much?
4) The crummy weather in June has held up the painting of the siding, in our lovely 'cushing green'. Now it's sunny that should get back on track - if Stef can find good, cheap people to do the painting.
5) we've run through a heap of temporary workers who didn't work out for one reason or another... one only lasted a day. It's so hard to find good people... especially when you have to tell them they might lose their work any day now for a couple of weeks, while the foreman goes on paternity leave.

Given all that, we've abandoned dreams of moving in before baby and I have the spare room in our current place kitted out as a nursery. We've given our notice for 1 Sept, so that's the drop-dead deadline for moving.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Let there be light

Thanks to a gift coupon from my brother Chris and Rebecca (and Home Depot), we now have lights for the suite! The walls have been painted, the light switches work, the heaters are in... it's starting to look livable. Next up: kitchen and bathroom. It's a real race. The baby is due on 13 July. I reckon if she's late we might actually be in before then :)

Here also are some pics of our builder hard at work in the 'kitchen', and the funky ceiling in the suite's bedroom, where the stairs to upstairs cut into the wall.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bath and switch

So here's a funny story... We go to the store, pick out a bath, buy the bath, the name of the bath on the box matches the bath we wanted, and we pay the right price for the bath we want. We bring it home. The builder (Stef, I think) puts it in. A week passes. My parents come up. I peel back the cardboard to reveal our.... uh, that's not the right bath.

After much confusion, we have established that the 'kidney shaped' tub is no longer being made, and instead we have been given the next model. Apparently it's worth $200 more than we paid for it, so I guess I won't complain!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day off for flying

In the midst of all that shopping, we took a day to relax in the sun (me) and go paragliding (Stef). Here we are at the Mackenzie launch. I just took pics and then drove the car down, did the crossword and took a nap. Stef stayed in the air for about 4 hours. Little Freya didn't seem to mind the bumpy road!

Shopping spree

On Saturday 5 May we had an epic shopping spree day. First stop Rona for a shower head for the master bath (a lovely 'rain head' that will make it feel like you're standing in a spring shower). I just hope there's enough pressure to get shampoo out. If not, we can always change the head later. We've picked out matching taps for the Roman tub and sink, but they didn't have them in stock.

Next stop 'King of Floors', the hilarious shop in Surrey advertized by a 'king' in full regalia with a miniature dog (see pic). Cheesy place. Great prices. We picked up an awesome discontinued laminate floor for the suite (which, by my knife-dropping tests, seems indestructable) that looks like Cherry wood, for just 69c per square foot (!!!). We also found a real Brazilian jatoba (cherry) engineered click-fit board for our house, on sale from 6.99 to 4.99 / sq ft. It's in budget, lovely, a great colour with a little bit of 'distressing' done to it to hide scratches and dings, and random lengths to make the room look nice and un-regulated. But I'm a bit worried about the fate of the Amazon, so I'm trying to check to see whether it's Forest Stewardship Council certified. If not, it is a very thin layer of wood on top... but I'm not sure that's really good enough.

Next stop IKEA for our suite's kitchen. We picked out cupboards in Beech, which match the lighter streaks in the new floor, and a 2-compartment sink.

On Monday I went trawling for carpets, tiles, and appliances (whew!). Looks like it'll either be Home Depot or BRICK for appliances. Both are putting together quotes for me for a ridiculous haul of: 2 stacking washer/dryers; 2 fridges; 2 stoves; 2 dishwashers; 2 microwaves. Should come out to something like $8,000!!!

We already picked up bathtubs the weekend before... a 'Romance' tub for the master suite (lovely deep elegant sucker) and a 'peanut' tub for the kids' bathroom - so that, one day, when there are 2 kiddies, they can each have their own end of the tub and fight over who gets the taps :)

That's enough decision-making for now.

Meanwhile our doctor in Squamish, Louise Martin, who'll be delivering little Freya, says all looks well. The baby is lying sideways at the moment (across my belly, rather than with her head down), but there are weeks yet for her to sort herself out. If she doesn't, then apparently they send me to a specialist to try and massage/coax her into place. And if THAT doesn't work then we'll be c-section bound, but the chances of that now are slim (2% or so).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pour it in

After the insulation was finished (horrah!) the next step was pouring a 1.5 inch layer of concrete flooring onto the main floor. We did this to help provide sound insulation between the suite and us, and the garage and us. Stef was understandably nervous -- you can't really watch the concrete going down, as there are few vantage points to watch from, and if it winds up bumpy or slanted then it's a nightmare. But all went well -- apparently it's smooth as a baby's bottom, and a lot more level than one.

Sound insulation is an interesting thing. The concrete, apparently, is excellent at damping out air-transmitted noise (like music or voices), but does nothing to stop footfalls from resonating through our floor down into the suite below. On the garage side of the house, this isn't important: we only want to stop the noise of drilling, sawing and pounding in the workshop from wafting upwards into my office. No one cares if the sound of me typing / throwing my computer to the floor in frustration (or more likely little Freya throwing her toys about) penetrates into the 'quiet sanctum' (ha ha) of the garage. On the suite side, however, though we are now protected from noise by them (unless they dance on their ceiling), they are not yet protected from noise by us. Stef plans to suspend their ceiling on little metal brackets that apparently helps to deal with this. We don't want to be too too precious about our tenants, but from experience we know that sound transmission can be the thing that drives away otherwise-perfectly-good paying customers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spray it on

As of 5 April, the insulation team has arrived and started to spray insulating foam into the walls. Stef is very pleased; it makes the whole house seem more solid, he says. The spray insulation is more expensive than the old-fashioned batting type, but it doesn't hold water (in case of leaks), won't let through bugs, helps to hold the whole house together, and, surprise, is a better insulator. We're having that in all the outside walls (not the garage), and batting in the attic and garage etc.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Aloha babymoon

It has become tradition for couples to take a 'babymoon' -- one last romantic holiday for two before the baby arrives. So we went to Oahu for 10 blissful days of sun, surf and snorkling, from 20-30 March. Here's me immitating a beached whale:

We stayed in Kailua, a laid-back town of locals without highrises or hotels or beachside cocktails, where Obama apparently spends his holidays. We stayed in a cute little place called D&D's B&B, just a 5 minute walk from Kailua's beach and park (a steal at $75/night). The water was actually cool (bizarrely, it had hailed in Oahu the week before we got there), and the weather too windy for paragliding. But that didn't stop us from getting around and getting a tan.

We saw a macadamia nut farm (Stef is adept at breaking open nuts, as well as at eating free samples), hiked up the hill in Lanakai, the rugged Olomana '3 peaks' hike/rock climb (I only did the first peak, Stef did the second, and we skipped the third, for a 3-hour humid return trip), and the muddy Maunawili falls. We kayaked out from Kailua to Mokolua Island on a wavy day (it was very entertaining watching novices try to land without tipping into the surf), snorkled at Hanauma Bay (which is much less impressive than it used to be, back when they let tourists feed the fish! Now it's far less colourful and popluated by reef fish) and off Electric beach on the west coast (the best spot for snorkling by far -- fish are attracted to the warm water outflow pipe, which has become an artificial reef), swam with dolphins from Ko Olina resort (expensive at $120 each but worth it), and generally mooched about the beach, shops, and highways of Oahu. A highlight for Stef was Bookends, a new and used book shop in the heart of Kailua (every restaurant seemed to be locatable in terms of 'steps from Bookends'), where he found a book he'd been looking for for 10 years!

Now it's back to the grindstone... more literally for stef than for me.

Pregnancy highlights from the trip:
Freya is kicking like a boxer now, the little fighter! Sleeping became a real pain, with hip ache waking me every few hours and getting me up at the crack of dawn. But by the end of the holiday that had much improved. Long flights with a big belly are not comfy -- those seats are a pain in the back, literally. Otherwise, Freya caused no problems and enjoyed her time in the sun.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Engineer's stamp

On Wednesday the house was inspected by the engineer who approved our plans in the first place; he needs to stamp a document saying it has been built properly, and that no one has drilled through any important supporting beams when putting in the plumbing or electrics. We had a few minor infractions that need fixing (that's normal), by sticking in an extra small beam under a doorway here and there. Mainly this is because the electrician did, actually, drill through important beams (silly). Our framer will do the fixes on Monday. But under the understanding that this will happen, we've got our stamp and approval! Horrah!

To celebrate, we went for a long walk from the house to the lake and back, stopping off at the kiddie skate park (where 8-year-olds are pulling some gnarly tricks; we've decided 'danger' is a dangerous middle name that would put too much peer pressure on a local kid) and the bakery, all in glorious sunshine. A perfect day. Now I'm 5.5 months in to the pregnancy, however, such a long walk (well, about an hour) is quite trying... I basically fell asleep as soon as we got home. I'm also having difficulty putting on socks. Other than that, though, all is well.

Now the local building inspector will come in and look at it on Tuesday to give his thumbs up (apparently this is basically guarenteed once you have the plumbing and engineering approved). Next stop: insulation.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Proof of the plumbing

The house (and Stef) have taken and passed their first test: checking that the plumbing doesn't leak. We got an A+! Well, they don't actually give you a grade, but everything checked out so I'm going to give them an honorary gold star.

Stef has put in all the pipes himself: black pipes to get the water up from the hole in the ground, and blue ones to carry cold water, and red ones for hot from the not-yet-installed hot water tanks (really, they're actually colour coded, which is one of those very-clever-and-very-simple ideas that someone should get a prize for). Oh, actually Stef tells me we actually have quite a few red pipes carrying cold water because Rona had a sale on red pipe... ha!

To test it, they stick some sort of valve at the bottom and then fill the whole house of pipes up with water, then let it sit for a few hours and check for leaks. Simple. Apparently the first junction that Stef tested did, in fact, have a leak... but he says it's a bit he was planning on re-doing anyway (I don't know why... I'm not privy to all the details). This made him somewhat, well, anxious. But the rest went well and, as I say, he passed with flying colours.

So now the rest of the house gets inspected, and then someone will come and spray the walls full of insulation. We're really getting somewhere now!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's a girl!

The results from our 19 week scan say that monkey is a girl. All our friends tell us this is 'easier' than a boy, at least up to toddledom. But the first thing Stef said was "I'll have to buy a shotgun". So he's looking forward to teenagehood already.

We have a name picked out already. If you hate it, please feel free to keep that to yourself.

Freya Kendall Miller

We're very excited to meet her :)

PS - the name has now been 'stress tested' by our neighbour Jerry, who has heard of such classic names as: Wayne King, Chris P. Ness, and the brother-and-sister duo Sam and Ella. He couldn't find anything amusing in ours. If he can't, no one can... (famous last words?)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Monkey's first ski tour

On Saturday, under blue skies, we headed up Cayoosh Creek to take 'monkey' on his/her first ski tour. This is pretty much the easiest skiing you can find near Pemberton. The trail up to the cabin is a gentle incline on a wide trail, and it takes only 1.5 hours or so to ski (or snow shoe) up to the hut. Once there we had our sandwiches and soup, then hiked a couple of hundred metres up a steeper slope to get some nice powder turns in on the way down. At the end of the day, we met two moms carting their less-than-one-year-olds up the hill; they were on skiis, the little ones in front-packs. Me: "You guys get bonus points." Them (not huffing, breaking a sweat, or slowing down): "Gotta train them early."

All in all we were out a little more than 4 hours. Once I got back in the warm car I fell asleep nearly immediately from exhaustion, and was groggy the rest of the afternoon. After a nap and an early night, I woke up at 3am. So now I'm jetlagged. (Ski tour lagged?).

The official doctors' advice on skiing during pregnancy is mixed. My first doctor said it wasn't a good idea after 3 months, in case of falling or injury, and gave me a letter with which I got my ski pass put on credit with the mountain (so I can use the money towards a ski pass a year or two from now, rather than losing the cash). But our more usual doctor, when she returned to her post, said: "Gone are the days when we considered pregnant women as ill or incapacitated. Go for it! After all you better stay fit -- birth is the biggest workout of your life. Just don't get yourself into a situation where you might experience serious trauma. Falling over at slow speed is a-okay." So that's the advice I'm taking. My 'What to expect..." book tells me I shouldn't get my heart rate above 140, so I'm also going slower than usual (though the doctor said this advice, too, was unnecessarily conservative).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Baby update

Lots of people have been asking about the exciting new addition to the family, so here's an FAQ for you:

When are you due?
July 13, according to the doctor and the size of the baby in our first scan. Weirdly, they originally count your pregnancy due date as 40 weeks (yes, that's more than 9 months) from the start of your last period, NOT the date 2 weeks after that when you actually conceived. So, weirdly, the official start date is BEFORE you have conceived. For us, that also means that on the official start date (1 Oct) I was in England at a party at a friend's house, and Stef was back home in Canada. Hmmmm.... This obviously sounds very dodgy, but it's just a funny joke. Obviously we were together for the REAL start of proceedings.

Is it a boy or a girl?
We don't know yet. We'll find out on 18 Feb, at our 19-week scan in Vancouver. This is conveniently scheduled for smack in the middle of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, which I'll be attending, and which lots of our friends from the UK will also be at. So I could announce the gender, if I wanted to, at the international science writers party that very evening. Fun!
Bets are split so far. I have no idea, though I did have a dream a few weeks ago that it was a boy, with a specific name too...

Have you picked a name?

Yes. But I'm not telling you what it/they is/are. One early contender for a boy was to give him 'Danger' as a middle name (so he could say "Danger is my middle name" and not be lying). No joke. It still may happen.
In the meantime, we're calling the little bundle of joy 'monkey', with extras added on for its size, as in: Rice monkey; plum monkey; orange monkey; etc...

Any morning sickness / weird cravings / other symptoms?
Not so much. I dry heaved a handful of times in the first trimester, but always kept all my food down.
Funny story: in December I was down in San Francisco for the American Geophysical Union annual conference. Worried I might have morning sickness in the middle of their gigantic convention centre, too far from a ladies' toilet, I stole some sick bags off the airplane (smart, eh?). As it happened I was only sick once, and happened to be passing the Hyatt toilets as the urge came on, so I locked myself in a cubicle to cough up. The lady in the next cubicle says: "Vitamin C! It's flu season! You've got to take vitamin C!" Me: "Thanks. It's morning sickness actually." Her: "Congratulations!!!!" I never saw who she was, and she never saw me. She's the first person (aside from hubby and parents) I told I was pregnant.
I've no cravings for strange foods. I'm just hungry all the time. I swear I'm eating the same amount as before, just in more sittings. Yet strangely I'm gaining stack loads of weight. How odd.
Other notable symptoms: when they say your breasts might be tender at first, this is an understatement. They HURT. For months. Not a good sign of things to come. Also my gums are bleeding now (which apparently is common).

I'll keep you posted.

5 hours of sunshine

Stef called me today at 9am to say that the Sun had sneaked its way above Mount Currie (it spends a good month of the winter hiding behind this ediface) and was shinging all the way into the 'kitchen' through the living room windows. The sun stayed for a full 5 hours, right until 2:20pm. In winter! In February! This is very exciting news. Stef has calculated the angle of the Sun in summer and reckons the overhang on the roof will be enough to block it in mid-summer. So we'll be sunny in winter, shady in summer, just as the doctor ordered. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lock up!

The doors are in, and we can now lock the door and keep all those pesky Pemberton thieves out of the building site (joke). This is a traditional moment of celebration. So celebrate!