Lifestyle Changes: Making the decision to send our toddler to daycare

When I was pregnant with Margsy I abruptly stopped working. I had no choice really because I knew that the moment I hit 12 weeks I’d get my cerclage and then be put on long-term home bed rest. This was the plan. We knew about it and I had zero reservations about it. When she was born Mer and I discussed how we wanted to manage her childcare. We both felt comfortable with me staying at home full-time because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her and childcare can get extremely expensive.

In some respects I think we naively assumed that raising a kid was easier than it’s turned out to be. I’m not saying it’s unbearably hard but as Margsy ages we’re realizing that our current lifestyle (single child, one and done family) isn’t necessarily ideal when it comes to her social development and general socialization.

Margsy is a very fearful child. She does not do well when faced with new people and has shown very little interest in playing with other children. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy other children’s company but she’s far more inclined to play beside them than with them.

Way back in January we decided to sign her up for swimming lessons. It was really a win win, win situation for us because it would give her far more physical activity during the winter months (baby girl was off the charts weight wise until recently), hopefully expose her to other children to socialize and teach her how to swim which is such an incredibly important skill. Although she loves her lessons and it has helped train her to be more comfortable in water and helped get her to a more normal weight it really hasn’t provided any opportunities for socialization which we thought it would.

Mer and I had a really long discussion about Margsy’s social development last month. We both agreed that it might be time to find some sort of organized activity to help her develop autonomy, learn boundaries and hopefully interact with other children about her age. We searched and searched but apart from some sporadic playgroups that usually involve infants there really isn’t much available to a family with an 18-month toddler.

Enter the conversation about daycare.

At first, we were both very much resistant to the idea. Had you asked me my thoughts on sending her to daycare a year ago I would have told you it was absolutely out of the question. That’s not to say that I think daycare itself is a bad idea but I did believe that as her mom I could provide her with everything she needed socially, emotionally and physically. Sure, I’m able to provide her with a stable, safe and nurturing home but when it comes to stimulation, play and socialization I’m really falling short.

So, Mer and I have been interviewing daycare’s much to the displeasure of both sets of grandparents. We were both raised in a community that never outsourced their childcare beyond the walls of the home of a family member. So, when we informed them that Margsy would be enrolled in a daycare as soon as possible we were met with apprehension, anger and even harsh judgement. In this moment we realized that despite our fears and those of our family we need to put Margsy first and this is something she needs right now.

The reality is an 18 month of kiddo needs to play with other kids. They need to learn how to socialize with other children and find their own way and personality by exploring, playing and socializing in ways that I simply can’t provide for her.

All this to say, we’re currently in the process of interviewing various family daycare’s hoping to find one that is a perfect fit. So far, we’ve interviewed two and one appeared absolutely perfect but ultimately did not have a space for our kiddo.

In terms of our daycare want list we are pretty specific with regards to what we are looking for:

  1. A small family daycare with no more than 5-6 children so that Margs can still get the attention she requires and not be overwhelmed with the drastic change to her lifestyle
  2. A daycare that is willing to work with us to integrate her slowly into a daycare setting. Ideally we’d like to start with 2 hours per day and work our way up to 5 hours days, 4 days a week.
  3. With regards to facilities we’d like there to be a large fenced and secured backyard with ample space for baby girl to run around (She’s a climber and will try to climb a fence if you’re not watching)
  4. A large indoor play area that encourages creative projects (painting, drawing, building) in addition to creative play
  5. A daycare that is willing to work with us with regards to her current sleep issues. Margsy was not sleep trained and therefore requires a ton of assistance to fall asleep. Generally she needs to be rocked to sleep and feel you close by.

The first daycare we met with was an absolute bust. The woman although knowledgeable about child care and friendly appeared to offer “babysitting” instead of daycare services. What I mean by this is she approached each day with no expectations or plan and basically allowed the children to dictate what they wanted to do. Although she would likely have been extremely nurturing and sympathetic to our issues (sleep namely) I suspect that her home daycare environment would have simply recreated the situation we are dealing with at home.

The second daycare was perfect. The woman we met with had 5 children in her group varying in ages from 12 months to 4 years. The entire day was scheduled and planned and the children are exposed to creative play, dramatic play and artistic play which is exactly what we wanted. She was also extremely open to a step up plan to integrate Margsy and was willing to help start the sleep training process. Unfortunately our interview was scheduled after she had technically filled the last spot. We went regardless because we were hopeful that the spot would somehow open itself up again. She called today to confirm that the spot was in fact taken but did provide a few numbers of other local in house daycares that we are hopeful will fit the bill.

So there’s that. This is what’s going on in TTBH right now. We’re actively searching for a daycare and given our current situation I’m not necessarily in a rush to place her immediately. Since I’m home with her anyway we’re going to continue looking until we find one that is just the right fit.

What are your experiences with daycare? How did you select one for your kiddo? Any tips?

 

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So, before I get into some pretty long-winded thoughts, I’d like to give you a friendly reminder that there is currently a Happy Maps giveaway happening here on This Tiny Blue House. Feel free to enter for a chance to win your very own personalized Happy Map if you haven’t already! Good luck to everyone who has already entered!


Recently, Mer and I sat down to watch a Hemingway documentary on Netflix called Papa. Have you seen it? It really is an interesting window into Hemingway’s life so if you haven’t seen it I would recommend you watch it. Mer isn’t much of a reader and although he knew who Hemingway was he really didn’t know much about him so he was especially interested in watching.  When we got to the part about Hemingway’s 6-word novel (the famous: For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn) – Mer and I just looked at each other with a blank stare and understood perfectly well what the statement was insinuating.

Or, did we?

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What ensued was an interesting conversation about time, perspective and circumstance.

Clearly, we both assumed that there was a dead child involved. But, were our assumptions based on our own experiences of time, perspective and circumstance or is there some universal understanding that when a pair of unworn baby shoes are sold there is a deceased child involved?

When I was a kid my father would tell me that everyone had “cobwebs in their closet” and that “some were thicker” but ultimately everyone had them. I think the conversation started when I broke down crying after my parents separated. It was the late 80’s and by cultural standards at that time I was ashamed of my home life. He told me not to worry about it because everyone had dusty cobwebs hidden in the very back of their closet.

Okay, back to what I was getting at here.

It’s really quite amazing how our own experiences have shaped the way we perceive things around us. Before our losses, I doubt we would have made such a heartbreaking assumption about such a potentially simple statement. We likely may have arrived at it eventually but it would probably not have been our first conclusion. Years ago, my brain would likely have wandered to ideas that the child outgrew the shoes before getting the chance to wear them or perhaps the child had more than one pair rendering this pair unnecessary or that poverty was at the root of the decision to sell them. I doubt though that my brain would have instinctively led me down the path of dead babies.

But, now it does. And, it  highlights that perceptions are altered based on circumstances that are unique to each and every one of us. Our story really dictates how we perceive the world around us doesn’t it?

To the parents who have lost children, that 6 word-novel could mean that a child died. A miscarriage, a still birth, infant loss – the possibilities are endless.

While to some it could be an example of poverty.

To others it could be interpreted as necessity – selling a child’s baby shoes to feed a habit, to turn the lights back on, to buy food, to fuel the car to get to a job interview, to make some extra cash to purchase medication. The possibilities are truly endless.

I suppose then that our individual perceptions of what that statement truly means is fueled by who we are, where we come from and what our  lives look like both past and present.

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Interpreting blog posts functions quite the same way I think. When I write something it comes from my perspective – an anxious repeat loss mom who is acutely aware of what it means to be poor, move up the socioeconomic ladder only to find herself in heaps and heaps of consumer debt years later. But, to those who don’t have those same set of cobwebs, my opinions and beliefs could potentially be misinterpreted ya know?

Perhaps, when I make a blanket statement like “I’m jealous of other women’s pregnancies” it might make me appear to be vile, envious and shallow. But, to those know me, know my story, know my struggle- I might get a little leniency.

The reality behind that statement is that getting my baby here safely was horribly difficult.  Does my statement now become less terrible? Does the meaning somehow change? Does my own circumstance change the intention?

Blog posts, and writing in general is tricky. Often times I catch myself reading and re-reading my posts because I know what baggage comes with my writing but most of the time you the reader don’t. Clearly, there are certain aspects of my life that I’ve shared and if you’ve been reading for a little while you’ll know that I mean no harm by statements like the one above but to a new reader who doesn’t necessarily understand my history that statement might be interpreted completely differently.

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As I’m growing this here blog I’m realizing more and more how perspective and circumstance influence both what I read and what I write. I’ve read countless blog posts from women who are “over” their pregnancies. From their perspectives it’s an innocent claim that likely has no intention of piercing through a loss mom like me. From my perspective, that claim makes me cringe because well you know – some women would give absolutely anything – make a deal with the devil even to bring a healthy full-term baby into the world. Perspective and circumstance.

This applies to everything really. Discussions on minimalism, vegetarianism, veganism, politics, opinions, beliefs, religion on so on and so on.

Essentially, anytime we put something out there we are opting to have our words which are inspired and peppered by our own perspectives interpreted by people and their unique worldview right?

How much effect do you think perspective has on interpretation of blog posts and writing in general?

What are your thoughts and interpretation of  Hemingways 6 word-novel?

 

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The week just flew by. It seems that as soon as Monday rolls around life is on fast forward as we cruise through the week to Friday right? We’re pretty much on a fixed schedule around these parts when it comes to day to day life which although kinda boring helps keep me stay organized and top of Margs’ needs and all the household stuff that needs doing. Mer has been up earlier than usual these days (thank you winter snowpocalyse) to head to work and is usually arriving very late into the evening thanks to traffic and snow mayhem so I’ve been sorta parenting solo all week.

On that note, I found it really helpful to talk about my highs & lows last week so I decided that I’d make this a recurring series on This Tiny Blue House. I really enjoyed sharing both my ups and downs with you fine folks but more importantly I loved reading yours.

So here we go – installment two!

Highs

[1] Valentine’s day was literally amazing. I woke up at 7am to find baby missing from her cot. I stomped down the stairs (my hips and feet are still messed up from bed rest) to find Mer and Margs sleeping on the couch. I promptly woke him up and told him he was going to be late for work (Mer is a sleepy sleepy guy – not a morning person at all) when he kindly informed me that he took the day off to be home with me and baby for the fine consumer holiday we call Valentine’s day.  So, not only did I get to sleep in but I got to take a nap late afternoon and lounge around with my 2 favorite people. It’s all about simple pleasures folks!

[2] Sleep training is working (most nights) and by consequence my sleep habits are improving too! Margs  usually only wakes up one time per night (a bottle of water and a back rub usually helps her fall back asleep promptly) but spends the entire night in her cot. This is such a game changer for us. Not only do we get to sleep in the same bed again but we’re both getting far better sleep. We’re just crossing our fingers that she doesn’t revert back to wanting to co-sleep.

[3] Mer surprised me with a Valentine’s day gift this year. At first I sorta looked at him strangely when he appeared with this red bag with hearts shmeared all over it. When I opened it I found this Weekly Planner and the coolest oversized mug. So, although we never buy gifts he decided to break the rules and buy me an agenda so I could have a place to keep track of all my blog post ideas (I suppose he was fed up of finding scraps of paper everywhere). The mug is precious and he bought it to replace my giant mug that we had to retire recently after our cat nose bumped it right off the counter.

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* I love love love this Weekly Planner. First, it’s huge which means there is tons of space to brainstorm, doodle and jot down ideas. Second, it’s super cheap as far as planners go – Mer told me that he had looked at a few at Walmart and Staples and that they were all in the price range of 20-30$. At roughly 8$ this is totally worth the money especially if you combine it with another item or two to score free shipping.

Lows

[1] Snow. Folks, it has snowed so so much over the last week. On Monday we got 30 cm of snow – the wet heavy kind that makes shoveling really hard. Then, on Wednesday we got another 20 or so centimeters making the grand total somewhere in the ballpark of 50 cm. It’s enough now, my body seriously cannot handle shoveling any more snow. We’re also stuck putting it on our property because this suburb doesn’t pick up snow – there’s honestly no room left on our front lawn. If you come driving down our street you cannot even see our front door – that’s how much snow has accumulated. We’re starting to get a little nervous about the spring thaw – flooding is a huge concern for us right now because this much snow is going to create a ton of water.

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[2] Locking myself out of my fucking house, not one but TWICE this week. So this house has a fancy key pad on the front door which means that I don’t have to worry about forgetting my keys (one of my recurring bad habits). Well, wouldn’t you know that the key pad refuses to work in -10 degree weather or colder. The first time we thought it was the batteries so we swapped them out – then it happened again. Needless to say I’m going to make it a point to bring my keys with me from now on. Thankfully, Mer was on his way home both times so Margs and I weren’t stuck outside in the cold for too too long.

[3] Dirty laundry. We’ve been dealing with blow outs pretty much all week. The extra bottle of water at night time means that Margs’ diapers are extra wet in the morning. I’ve been washing sheets, blankets and her cot mattress protector basically every single day this week. I’ll take it though – if it means she’ll sleep through the night in her cot and not in our bed, I’ll just deal. Eventually we’re hoping she wont need the extra bottle which will reduce her output at night time. There’s no way I’m waking my baby to change her in the middle of the night and risking having to put her back to sleep.

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 13th?

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I got treated to a coffee date with one of my dearest girlfriends Saturday. After speaking to her Friday and letting her in on my need for a break she asked me on a date so we could chat and catch up. Since our move last summer I haven’t really been able to see my friends on a regular basis – we’ve all got a ton going on and with this new distance between us it’s a little difficult to get together as much as before. So, this was an extra special treat. Naturally, the conversation came full circle and we ended up talking about our kiddos (break right?). I told her about my blog and how I write about how damn hard parenting is sometimes and she stopped me dead in my tracks by asking me what makes me an awesome parent.

Well shit, do you know that I really didn’t know how to answer her? I just looked at her dumbfounded and in that moment I realized that I don’t give myself enough credit for the parts of motherhood that I’m actually pretty good at.

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I don’t have it all figured out- nope, not even close but I am doing the absolute best I can. There are days that I consciously ignore my kids saggy diaper butt to avoid another diaper change meltdown. There are also days where she watches more T.V than is recommended and we don’t delve into book reading, creative activities or momtastic activities like foot painting or glitter gluing.

There are days that my brain, heart and body are just tired and you know what, I think that’s okay… sometimes.

There are bad days and there are good days and on those good days I’ll tickle my little girl until she laughs so hard she cries. Those days are the ones where I let her explore, make messes and let her just be her – in all her messy glory. Those days actually happen more often than they don’t. So, maybe I’m being a little too hard on myself.

After much thought and reflection this weekend I came up with a random list of reasons why I’m an awesome mum to Margs. I think “us” Mums/Dads are far too hard on ourselves and often fail to see and acknowledge what a good job we do most of the time. We are good enough – we just have to stop, take a deep breath and appreciate it more often, don’t we?

Let’s have at it, shall we?

/ I am an awesome Mum because I’ve created and maintain a safe physical and emotional space for Margs

/ I am an awesome Mum because I love Margs unconditionally and always put her first

/ I am an awesome Mum because (despite my type A personality) I’m allowing Margs to “fall” so she can teach herself to get right back up again (both figuratively and literally)

My friend reminded me to stop and pat myself on the back every now and again so now I’m going to do the same for you – some days we just need that extra shove to put it all in perspective.

Now, I absolutely, categorically insist that you share why YOU are an AWESOME parent too!

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I’m so so excited that it is finally Friday – it’s been a rough week anxiety wise and I’m really looking forward to having Mer around to give me a small break this weekend. I think I might head to a local coffee shop tomorrow and treat myself to a cappuccino and a much needed emotional/physical break from my role as mom. I feel awful that I’m so desperately craving a break from my kid but it’s just been such a rough week (sleep training, teething, general fussiness coupled with my own anxiety issues) that I just need some time to sit and just be me and not mom for a few hours.

Highs

[1] Margs slept in her pack and play 4 nights this week. This is HUGE since we couldn’t even put her down anywhere but our bed without having her wake up screaming. She hasn’t slept through the night yet but the physical separation means that Mer and I are finally sleeping in the same bed again. We’ll take it – even if it means getting up 2-3 times per night to help soothe her back to sleep. Eventually, we hope she’ll be able to self soothe. But, for now we’re celebrating this small victory.

[2] My meal prep on Sunday has made dinners this week an absolute breeze. I prepped a cottage pie, baked fried chicken, pork chops in a white wine mushroom sauce, Mediterranean chicken, rice with lentils, broccoli rab & green beans. Dinner has been basically been heat and serve – there’s no mess to clean and it makes our evening routine with Margs much more relaxed an easy to manage. Is anyone interested in the recipes? If so, I’d be more than willing to post them on the blog. Just let me know!

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[3] We celebrated Margs’ 14th month birthday this week. It’s truly amazing to watch her grow. It seems like she’s changing by the minute. She’s currently walking, talking and exploring like it’s nobodies business. She continues to amaze me every single day.

Lows

[1] I’m feeling rather isolated most days which isn’t good for my anxiety because it gives me far too much time to think and feed the spiral. I should try and immerse myself in our small community and start going to play groups with Margs again or find another activity we can join that will give us both the opportunity to socialize but winter in the Canadian north sucks guys – it makes going out so difficult.

[2] I’m over winter. I’m nursing a very sore shoulder thanks to having to chip 2 inches of ice from our driveway. I used to love winter but now it’s just hard. The cold, the unpredictable weather, the crazy amounts of baby gear needed to keep Margs warm and safe. Some days it’s just easier to avoid heading out at altogether. It’s pretty but totally not practical.

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[3] I’m struggling with my own sleep patterns. I’ve never been a great sleeper but recently it’s been increasingly difficult to fall asleep at night. I’m sure our horrible sleep situation wasn’t helping. There are far too many nights where I find myself awake binge watching Netflix hoping I’ll doze off. Some nights that means no sleep until 3-4 am.

[4] I’m still trying to find an allergist to have Margs tested. I’m so incredibly frustrated that one, not one clinic has called me back and that two, we might have to wait up to 2 years to find out if she is in fact allergic to blueberries because the wait list is that long. Socialized health care really sucks sometimes. In the meantime, we’ve got an epi-pen and we’re avoiding blueberries. I’m just worried there are other allergies we don’t know about.

So there you have it, my highs and lows for this week!

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 6th?

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Friday! My gosh, how is it already Friday?

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This last week has been a blur – a sleepless blur. I’m somehow convinced that after boasting to our pediatrician that Margs sleeps through the night (albeit in our bed) karma decided to teach me the very important lesson that bragging isn’t cool by having my kid decide that suddenly she wants to be nocturnal.

She’s been up consistently from midnight to 4 am, 3 nights in a row. I’m surviving on short naps and coffee. Hopefully this “phase” (teething possibly?) will pass soon and we’ll be back to business as usual.

Speaking of Margs, I got an email this week asking me why I don’t post full frontal shots of my little girl . Great question since I don’t think I’ve ever directly broached the subject.

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Profile cuteness.

I thought the question was interesting and it sparked an interesting conversation between Mer and I about our own positions on digital citizenship and where we stand with regards to sharing our lives on the internet – or, how much we’re willing to share with the Internets.

Hey, did I ever tell you I was a teacher? I taught math to a bunch of 10 and 11th graders but also got the privilege to teach a class about digital citizenship when I decided to head back to school and get a graduate degree in education and technology. Basically, I  taught kids about responsible internet use in a society where technology is a fundamental part of day to day life. Fun fact,most 10th graders in this area believe that facebook is for old people! – jaw dropping right? That folks is how quickly technology changes.

With that said, digital citizenship is really an important part of our lives. Mer works in medical technology and since I blog and have an online presence albeit a very small one, we’re very cautious about what we put out there with regards to our little girl because ultimately we both feel like posting photos of her isn’t our right. She has no agency in this situation and until she can make those decisions for herself we’re just not comfortable with sharing photos that are any more revealing than the one above. That photo is probably the closest to seeing a full frontal as it’ll get.

I’m just not comfortable with sharing more than that folks and I hope you understand.  I’m just a believer that she’s entitled to a certain level of personal privacy and that as her mum it is my job to protect her privacy until she’s able to tell me “mom I want to be on the blog”. That day may or may not come and I’m cool with that.

So there you have it. The internet can be a beautiful place where you can share ideas and interact with awesome people who have so many brilliant things to share but it can also be a scary place especially when there are children involved and for the time being we’re opting to keep our little off of it as much as possible.

Where do you stand on sharing kiddo pictures? I’m interested to hear different opinions!

 

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As a child, I spent nearly every weekend in the beautiful tiny city of St-Donat Quebec some 3 hours north east of my home. In the winter I learned to ski and snowmobile while in the summer I spent lazy days with my father on the lake learning to fish and admiring the peaceful beauty of the woods that surrounded us.

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Icy back road heading to the lake

With a population of just over 4 thousand most of which are seasonal residents, St-Donat has that small town feel where you’re guaranteed to see a familiar face when strolling through their small city center.

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St-Donat city Center with views of the mountain.

Early in our relationship Mer and I went up there on a drive date to pick up a pie. St-Donat has this tiny convenience store hidden behind thick brush off the auto-route that sells the most delicious blueberry pie I’ve ever eaten. It’s one of these places that you’d likely never stop to visit let alone believe could bake such decadent pies out of wild blueberries harvested from the surrounding area. As a child, we’d pick one up every Friday evening as we cruised up the winding auto route to our cottage and enjoy our special treat throughout our 2 day stay in the woods – this is probably one of my all time favorite childhood memories.

After my parents divorce, the cottage was sold and I didn’t get the pleasure to visit  again until that day Mer and I made our way up for pie.

I’d spent weeks speaking so highly of the area and was actually quite nervous that Mer would think I was nuts when he laid eyes on this tiny snowy town. Would he also fall in love with the place that was responsible for creating some of my best childhood memories?

We drove with a steaming pie in his backseat to see my childhood cottage. It wasn’t fancy, a wooden Canadiana with red shutters that sat on an awkwardly shaped plot of land and surrounded by thick woods. By that time the home was really starting to show its age but I couldn’t help but be transported back in time;  I saw past the discolored siding and unglued shingles, in my eyes it hadn’t really changed at all. I’m sure he didn’t get it – but the nostalgia I felt filled me with so much happiness.

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A Canadiana with its sloped roof thanks to getty images.

I told him then and there that one day I’d love to return to my beloved St-Donat and let my children experience the same joy I did. Little did I know that that  journey would be far more difficult than I ever imagined and that nearly 15 years later I’d be married to the man who ate pie with me that day on the side of snowy highway with a plastic spoon.

Lately, I’ve been drawn to perusing real estate listing in the area. Mer and I have oohed and awed at the beauty of some of these homes and imagine what it might be like to own one of these beautiful properties ourselves one day.

This is absolutely a pipe dream since we’re in no financial position to take on a second property but through our perusing we’ve fallen in love with a second blue house. This property really pulls at our heart strings and I’ve caught myself checking in on it daily for the last week or so.

Isn’t she a beaut?

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The listing says she was built in 1975. She’s a 5 bedroom, 1 bath lakefront property sitting on just over 15 000 square feet of land. Her interior is quaint – featuring a wood stove, large windows that let in tons of sunlight, sloped ceilings and gorgeous wood detailing. And, the view. Oh my gosh, that view!

If you’re interested in viewing the listing – it’s available here. (There are quite a few photos of the interior if you’re curious)

I can just imagine Margs growing up spending her summers and winters there-playing on the grass and swimming in the lake just like I did some 25 years ago. At a whopping $499 000 this is clearly not something we could realistically afford  but it is nice to dream.

Mer and I both agreed that at some point we’d like to invest in a second property. Most likely a second property would be an investment property with rental units because we feel it’s the wisest investment of our money. I can’t help but wonder though if owning a beautiful property like the one above could one day become a reality if we create a plan to invest in revenue property here and then in 10-15 or even 20 years use our earnings to purchase a lake house. My gears have been turning non stop since we starting playing with the idea, I’ve been calculating and recalcalculating to get an idea of what exactly we’d need to do to get us to this goal and although my estimates are extremely rudimentary I think one day it could be possible. Margs might not be the one able to spend her childhood there but perhaps her children could.

For now though we’ll make it a point to bring our daughter up there yearly. We’ve been heading back for day trips and picnics on the beach in the summer since that snowy day we ate pie. Last year we skipped our yearly trip because we’d just moved and had a tiny Margs who didn’t do well with long drives. This year we’re planning to continue on with our tradition with our toddler in tow – I’m so incredibly grateful I’ll have the opportunity to show Margs a place that holds such a special place in my heart.

We may not be able to purchase that property but it’s so nice to get lost in our dreams sometimes isn’t it?

What are some of your pipe dreams? Do share!

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