a day in HER life - Kirsten Huculiak

Hi! I’m Kir, photographer and mama to one silly little 19-month-old named Casper. We live in the heart of Vancouver, Canada and are committed to staying in the city to raise our family for this season of life. Our 2-bedroom apartment is in Mount Pleasant, a great neighbourhood for families here and I honestly couldn’t imagine being a new mom anywhere but a city. Being able to walk everywhere and be around people any time you need it is such a lifesaver and builds a strong sense of community with other parents near you.

My husband Andy is a filmmaker and musician so his work life doesn’t follow a ‘normal’ schedule. He is often working from home on intense projects, or at the company studio for long hours, or away writing or touring with his band. It keeps things interesting and means we get quite a lot of time together as a family in between the work-from-home hours, which we both love!

For now I put most of my energy into staying at home with our son and taking care of the daily minutiae. I’m grateful that I’m able to be at home with him and take photography projects I’m passionate about as they come up. I’ve taken a very small number of clients since Casper was born and I’m slowly adding more, but with all our family 4 hours away and very expensive childcare in the city, it works best for me to be at home with him the majority of the time. I really love it and I’m grateful. I was a nanny for a loooong time before him so it’s a role I feel very comfortable in. These early years are so foundational and it was important to both of us that one of us is able to be home with him while he is still finding his way in the world. We have our share of trying times of course, as anyone with a toddler can understand, and living on one income in Vancouver is tough and means we live humbly, but the sacrifices are worth it and I really cherish the simple rhythm to our days.

We are a family that loves our sleep. Casper is overall a great, solid sleeper and wakes for the day around 8am. We like to bring him in to our bed where we try to cuddle with him, which he hates and has always hated since he was tiny. We keep trying though. We usually give up and let him watch Pingu on my phone so we can lay in bed longer. Soon after he heads into the living room to tinker with his favourite toy, a rescue garage with 3 garage doors, and I get up and figure out breakfast.

After breakfast Casper and I always go out. It’s easy to feel lonely around a toddler all the time, so to save my sanity I try to see friends and their kids as many times a week as possible. I kind of think that this is the secret to having fun days that fly by with toddlers! Getting two or more together and letting them entertain themselves is just the best. Plus it’s really good for their social skills. We often get together with our besties who live across the street and walk to the grocery store or to get coffee (hot chocolate for me), or to the library or the community centre for open play gym, or Science World with friends. In the summer this all gets replaced with hitting a million parks and splash pads. I love getting out with him in the mornings, taking buses and meeting up with different friends all the time. I always feel like this part is such a perk to staying home and I’m kind of cheating life in a way! Constant hangs with friends—what could be better? When he gave up his morning nap I was intimidated by all the time I suddenly had to fill but it’s truly so much better now.

We usually head home for lunch or occasionally grab it while we’re out and then make it home in time for nap around 1. Once he’s asleep, I get to work. If I have shoots to edit this is when I try to make a dent in that. I am not the best at the work/mom balance yet but I’m trying to figure it out. When Casper is awake I hate feeling like I have other things I need to be doing that are weighing on my mind and taking me away from being present with him. I hate the guilt both ways. I think that’s why for now I’m happy to put most of my energy into being at home, because just keeping everyone fed constantly feels like a full-time job enough as it is. Most of the time during naps I also prep dinner. Figuring out a meal plan and how to make a nourishing dinner every night while keeping a kid entertained has been one of the biggest learning curves of parenthood for me. Each month it gets easier but I still feel like it takes a lot of my mental energy. After I’m done dinner prep I usually still have a good chunk of time left before he wakes up to plop on the couch and watch a show or read a book. I think I'm pretty good at giving myself time to relax and recharge.

Once he’s up we snack and play. Sometimes we lay low and stay in playing; usually we head out again for another walk or to a friend’s house. Some of our best friends live across the street with their daughters, one who is a year older than Casper and they have developed such a hilarious and wonderful friendship. At 1.5 and 2.5 you’d think there’s not a lot of playing going on together but somehow they do play (and fight) and they really love each other. You should see their faces after a few days apart. I highly recommend finding parent friends on your street! It’s a game-changer especially in the winter when the hours from 3-6 are dark and feel so slow and heavy. The close proximity means last-minute plans happen way more than with friends who live further away, and popping by is easy.

If we go for a walk we inevitably end up on a hunt for all the garage doors we can possibly find. They are truly his favourite things in life.

We get home sometime before dinner and hopefully I’ve thrown something in the crockpot that’s ready for us; if not Casper plays at my feet  while I make our meal. If Andy is home they usually take this time to wrestle and be crazy boys. At 6ish we eat. Afterwards Casper is usually absorbed in his play for the rest of the night until it’s time for bath or books. He always drags the books out as long as he can but he’s a cinch to put to bed. He’s down by 8 and we love having our evenings to ourselves, working or watching movies or Seinfeld episodes. Every so often a friend will babysit and we’ll go out together, or Andy will stay home while I do something for myself. I feel like our days are full of simple pleasures, and while life at home may not be fulfilling for some, somehow it is for me. I know it won’t always be like this and I’m just grateful for this slow season at home with my boy. 

Thanks Kir! 
Instagram - @kirsive
Blog - Photos by Kir


Our Nest in The Toronto Star

Last week I was contacted by a journalist from the Canadian Press who wondered if she could pick my brain on living small, urban, and minimal with kids. As it's one of my favourite topics to discuss, I wasn't a hard sell! I love any opportunity to shed light on the incredible benefits of living small in the city. I've gone on and on about how our three kids share a bedroom (featured in la Presse) and encouraged families to move into the city (in an article on The Gospel Coalition), so this article felt like a very natural fit to contribute my thoughts to. 

I thought I'd share a few excerpts here from the article, which was published today in The Toronto Star. See full article by Gemma Karstens-Smith here.

Canadians are increasingly shifting to smaller living. The number of people living in apartments taller than five stories went up more than 12 per cent between the 2011 and 2016 census, according to data from Statistics Canada.

Minimalism is also key to small living, says freelance writer Emily Morrice, whose family of five lives in a 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom condo in downtown Montreal.

Constant de-cluttering is necessary, as is saying no to people who want to buy the kids presents, she says, which can be difficult.

“You have to be careful about that,” she says. “Or once you let new stuff in, you have to be willing to send things out.”

The family asks for memberships to museums or for activities like swimming lessons instead of toys or clothes for Christmas and birthdays, she says, and the three kids — aged 7, 6 and 4 — have become experts at sharing.

All three share a room with bunk beds and a pullout mattress and abide by an important house rule: The first day someone gets a toy, it’s theirs, but every day thereafter, it’s shared, Morrice explains.

She says the kids have a uniquely close bond as a result.

“I wouldn’t say that we chose to have a small home in the beginning. We chose to live in the city and that necessitates a small home,” says Morrice, who chronicles her family’s experience on her blog, Our Nest in the City.

“But we’ve been parents in a small home for eight years and I would never want anything else. It’s just so great for the family and the kids.”


25% off at Frank & Oak!

Mine and Brad's wardrobes are about 50% Frank & Oak (if it's not thrifted, there's a good chance it comes from them!) so I wanted to let you guys know about their big sale right now!

You get 25% off EVERYTHING all weekend through Tuesday. I just grabbed a cute striped top (give me all the stripes!) with bell sleeves that was already marked down from $39.99 to $19.99, then 25% off! And of course, had it shipped to my local store so I didn't have to pay for shipping.

Save 25% on your order at Frank And Oak. Code: THANKYOU25. *Valid from February 16 2018, 9:00am ET to February 20 2018, 8:59am ET. Excludes Style Plan & gift cards.


Everything You Need To Know About Lice

Even though we've received several notices from our children's schools over the years about head lice, I always thought it wouldn't happen to us. Until it did. A few days before Christmas, all of our kids and I contracted lice. Since then, I've talked with two pharmacists, one pediatrician, four teachers, three lice technicians, and countless parents. I've learned more than I ever wished to know about head lice, but the one positive from all of this is I can share my knowledge with all of you and hopefully help other families.

How you catch lice

Lice is spread from head to head contact with an infected individual. They can't jump or fly, only crawl from hair to hair. That's why lice occurs most commonly in children, who tend to love rough play, hugs, and have no sense of personal space, ha!

"Lice love clean hair!" and "Lice thrive in poor hygiene"

Neither of these statements are true! I've heard them both, but the truth is LICE LOVE HAIR. PERIOD. It's not a sign that your child is dirty and you're not safe if you're super hygienic. We bathe our kids every single night and wash their hair daily, which is more than I wash my own hair. Nothing really matters when they hug their friend who has lice.

Preventing lice

I wish I knew about these preventative tips sooner, and now I take every precaution after having had lice! Here are a few tried and true ways to prevent lice.
  • Keep hair tied back! Long or short, it needs to be pulled back. Lily's always had shoulder length hair and I never thought it would be a problem, but it's best to wear hair tight to the head in buns, braids, and up in sections. One long ponytail is no better than wearing hair down! 
  • Warn your children to never share hats or scarves with their friends. It's no coincidence that lice tends to break out in the winter months when kids are all wearing so many layers around their hair. 
  • Peppermint, tea tree, and lavender essential oils might deter lice as they don't like the smell, but today's "super lice"  are resistant to these gentle methods for extermination. 
  • If one of your children has lice, it doesn't have to spread. Wash their sheets and pillow case immediately and put anything that may have touched their head in a plastic bag for 24 hours. You can also put any hair accessories and brushed in a plastic bag in the freezer for 24 hours.
If you have lice

If you find out that you or your child have lice, you need to notify the school and any other friends your child has been in contact with for the last month. Lice can be in your hair without symptoms for up to a month, so it's possible they've infected other friends without knowing.

Treatment varies, but even after talking to pharmacists and doctors, the over-the-counter products didn't impress. One pharmacist warned me that most people come back to do several treatments of the already costly pharmacy treatment - making over-the-counter at that point more expensive to having your lice treated professionally. The comb that over-the-counter treatments comes with is light-years behind the one we purchased through our professional treatment (it was $25 and will last us years). I combed my hair with the over-the-counter comb and found nothing, and then used the professional comb and we saw quickly that I had many eggs in my hair. Grossed out? Itchy yet? I know, I'm sorry!

Professional treatment for us was the best option. It was $85 + tax per person plus we bought the $25 comb and needed to travel to the clinic which wasn't very close to our house. It also came with a 30 day guarantee which gave a lot of piece of mind. By contract, over the counter treatment is about $40 per person, with strong likelihood that you'll need to repeat several times, and obviously no guarantee.

We used The Lice Crew here in Montreal (they're all over Canada), but I have also heard great things about Wendy The Lice Fairy who even offers in-home treatment. We came across Lice Clinic of Canada in our research, but at $185 per person, it wasn't in our budget.

The good news!

The good news is, lice isn't a sign that your child is dirty, that you're a bad parent, or that your home is a cesspool - all things I was temped to believe at first! Lice truly can happen to anyone. My friends who home school picked up lice at church. My friend caught lice before even having children from coming into contact with an infected individual. Before us at the lice treatment clinic was a family who's children went to one of the most expensive private schools in the city. Lice is extremely common and you shouldn't feel ashamed if and when your child encounters it. I loved hearing Jennifer Garner talk about how she and Ben Affleck had lice and they still went out (and she met George Clooney with live treatment in her hair!!!!!) Haha! Really, stars, they're just like us, eh?

I hope this helps if you or your children end up with lice. It was seriously a brutal week, but in the end, it's a normal part of living in society and having kids. You'll survive!