Surprise, we moved to Vancouver. Here are some impressions from our first days. Enjoy.
I am learning so much about the city, life in Canada and since so many of you ask how we are doing and also WHAT we are doing I am happy to share some updates.
I love all beginnings, despite their anxiousness and their uncertainty, which belong to every commencement.
Where should we live?
Our biggest question currently. When we came here last year we were pretty sure that we would move to the so called North Shore, the other side of Vancouver towards the mountains. It is beautiful, some streets have walking access to ski lifts, good schools. It is, however, more precipitation and clouds and for sure less vibrant city life. The market here works a bit differently than in Germany. While land matters in Germany, it also matters what kind of a building is on the land. Here not so much. A wide piece of land with a tiny house might cost more than a new duplex just because Vancouver is running out of space and has a housing crisis.
So on the weekends we drive around different neighbourhoods and go to Open Houses. Randomly peaking into peoples’ homes is fun. Observing the real estate agents guiding their clients through houses, though, is like a bad movie. (“Ok, ladies, use your imagination, there is a lot of stuff in the mortgage helper, but once you declutter in your head, so much potential.” :-)) We have come along some stunning streets like the one in the picture lined with old oak trees.
Factors that play quite a big role for us are safety and schools. It seems that being in a district with a good school matters more than in Germany. And if you have not heard about the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, do google it. A couple of blocks of East Hastings Street are home to tent city, home to locally referred to “lost souls”, struggling with drug addiction and homelessness. Covid has only made the situation worse.
Early Bird Life
My main meeting time is between 5.30 – 8.00am. I consider myself very lucky to be able to continue working as a coach from across the globe. While I am an earlybird by nature (yes, Mama & Papa, minus the teenage party years), the new time zone is a huge change for Pouya. His main meeting time used to be 4 – 7pm in Germany, now it is 6-9am. Yet, the wonderful thing is that we now enjoy family life in the evenings. One of the main reasons we moved.
Impressions from our first days
Four years ago Pouya and I celebrated our marriage in Austria. A version of this post has been slowly descending on my draft list. Too early, too pregnant, too much with twins, too Corona. Today the time has come for me to remember these truly exceptional days with some reflections. For the fun of it, I will keep some of my original writing, it makes me smile to read about all these stressful vibes that I no longer feel.
2018: A year ago Pouya and I spent a wonderful day enjoying our engagement in New York City. Now we tied the knot with many of our friends in the Wilder Kaiser valley in Austria. Believe me, more than once in the preceding months of wedding planning I have seriously questioned my sanity. This week with our families and friends, though, has just been a blessing and a reminder that the world is our oyster.
Our wedding was about appreciating our friends – and I would not have it any other way
While we were very excited to share our vows in front of our friends it was just as wonderful to be able to gather loved ones from so many regions in Austria. Last year we visited two friends in Toronto and they have our wedding picture hanging on the walls. Over the years only have I come to realize how rare and special the connections are that we have made and maintained over the years: To know that there are some people out there I could call in the middle of the night.
Guardians of each others’ solitude – the base of our partnership
Those who know me know that I am not good at making decisions and I tend to cling to the status quo (I will tell you soon how long it took me to finally leave my corporate job), but when it comes to Pouya all decisions were easy. In my engagement ring he had the words “forever free” engraved. Very early on it became clear that we had a similar understanding of what partnership does not mean: That one is responsible for the other’s happiness.
During the last four years we have made it through a terrible pregnancy, learned to appreciate life with twins, and to work and live and be together 24/7 during months of Covid-Lockdowns. And I still think that Rilke summarized the duty of a married partner like no other:
“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people. That each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”
Brenner Alm in the Wilder Kaiser valley is an excellent location
Brenner Alm is located on a skiing hill with a great view of the Wilder Kaiser hills. The best thing about the Alm is the food, the wine selection as well as the couple running the restaurant, Trixie and Christian.
The hut itself is very spatious, we had enough room for our band Acoustic Avenue, for a dance floor and we were able to hold the ceremony outside. Since 2018 we have been back every year for a couple of days, for their Kaiserschmarrn mainly. Brenner Alm is worth a visit any day.
From four years hindsight I would also do a couple of things differently: worry less, spend a quarter on my dress and just soak it all up with much more consciousness.
We celebrated the girls’ second birthday weekend by hiking up to and staying at Brunnsteinhütte in the Karwendel region. I recommend this if you do not feel like cakes, presents and all the birthday preparations – but instead simply enjoying nature, family time and the simplicity of a DAV-hut.
Brunnsteinhütte – a sustainable and family-friendly destination
Where to find it?
When researching new destinations that are realistic for us with the twins (remember, we each carry one child), I stick to the great DAV guide. DAV is short for Deutscher Alpenverein, the German Alpine Club. Each year it publishes a family-friendly hut booklet.
How to book Brunnsteinhütte?
While many huts can be booked conveniently via DAV, Brunnsteinhütte still runs the old-fashioned way: Email. As soon as it become clear that the harsh lockdown rules would be lifted I emailed the hut managers family Gallenberger and reserved their family room for up to 8 people. To confirm the reservation I wire-transfered a reservation fee of 12Euros per person to their account.
The hike up – a challenging, but beautiful hike
Very conveniently, the hut offers a parking lot close to the cable car for materials (where we dropped off all the sleeping bags and sheets we had to bring due to the new Corona hygiene rules). From there the path leads constantly up. The ground changes alters nicely between stones, larger rocks and forest ground with some roots exposed. I would assume it is not too pleasant to come here after its has rained. It took us about 2hours with breaks to walk up.
On the way back we walked across the suspension bridge. Here are some impressions from the hike:
Brunnsteinhütte offers great food and embraces sustainability
The Gallenbergers have been managing the hut for more then 20years, their kids grew up here. They offer hearty, Alpine food. The portions are enough to share, or, if you just came across another mountain pass they will definitely recharge you.
The toilets are natural composting toilets, meaning there is no running water, but a really big hole. There is only cold water in the washrooms and one has to take trash home again. Can you imagine what a pleasure it was to carry a bag of about 20 poop diapers home 😉
Important Links for your reference
The plan was perfect: take a little time to ease back into work by working part-time while my husband would get our twin girls started in daycare. Then, by May, he would drop the kiddos off in the morning and I would pick them up in the afternoon. Then Corona happened.
The reality is this: We both have finally arrived at positions in our jobs that we love. It is challenging, but very rewarding. And we have 11-month old twin girls at home with no help because there is a global pandemic.
Here are my 2cents of advice for everyone in a similar situation:
1.) Know how much sleep you need and get that amount at least four days/week
My sweetspot is seven hours. I am a morning person and that means that I am sometimes going to bed ridiculously early to catch up on sleep. Not sleeping enough puts me on edge, at work and with the children. So no compromise here.
2.) Meal prep in advance
Hangry eating binges happen, no doubt. But they do not make me feel that great. I prepare healty nutrition-packed lunches in advance and have healthier snack options ready.
My husband put it this way: It looks like a Hangover 4 movie in our living room, but we had a great nap.
4.) Communicate to your work
Obviously not everyone’s workplace is understanding. Last week both my husband and I had simultaneous calls and I decided to take the girls on a walk while being on a quite important call. I informed my colleagues in advance that I will have to be outside walking. I also emailed all my material in advance and let them know about my points just in case something would not work out with the call.
5.) Wash your face, put on real clothes and treat yourself well
I love my PJs and hoodies and while it has certainly been awesome to be a little more chill about clothing and appearance in the beginning I have now started to dress myself, dress my babies and switch my camera on during work calls. On the weekends we do something special, like a bike ride with picnic.
There are days when I am surprised how well this is working and then there are those devastating days when I am questioning everything. Overall, I would not want to have it any other way.
How long working in double shifts from work to babies is possible? I have no idea.We hope to have an au-pair starting in August and dearly hope that the girls will be able to start daycare at some point in 2020.
On July 3rd at night we were able to welcome our twin girls. I was told they entered this world screaming – a positive sign for preemies.
They weighed a smashing 1300 & 1600g and from the very first day were showing the nurses and us quite some attitude given their size 😉.
The names: Nope, no game of thrones fans
The first thing people asked when they hear the names is whether we are big game of thrones fans. Their full names are Aria Eleonore and Kiana Elisabeth. We have chosen these names for two reasons: They both have Persian & European meanings and are easy to pronounce in English as well as German.
Aria means “air” in Italian, “noble” in Persian and is also used in Hindi, Hebrew and Albanian.
Kiana means “elements of nature: water, wind, earth, air” in Persian. It is also quite common in Hawai where it means “divine”.
Obviously, Pouya and I are thrilled. Both girls were in the hospital for a couple of weeks and I will write a separate blogpost on our experience in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit (NICU).
In the last two months it was our biggest goal to bring both girls to weigh more than 3Kgs (which would be normal birth weight) and we have achieved this task as of this week. They have strict eating times every four hours and Papa & Mama are getting used to not sleeping too much anymore.
As with all preemies we do not know whether they have suffered from the surgery, their feto-fetal syndrom (TTTS) or prematurity, but so far it all looks positive. The city of Munich is home to special doctors & newborn physical therapists that take excellent care of us.
For now please enjoy some pictures of the our girls. Thank You again for your messages and support, it has been wonderful to receive so much love from our friends ❤️