Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Dilemmas

The question that interested us the most the previous week was "what should we do about Dylan's childcare".
A very sought after childcare facility in our area turned out to have two vacant days which Dylan could fill in, and because we just happened to be browsing at the time the vacancy materialized they did the convenient thing and offered the place to us. Should we or shouldn't we?
The main advantage of the new place is that it's near us, so we don't have the hassle of dragging Dylan to the city with us and the whole Connex adventure. Nor will I have the pleasure of walking him in the cold or in the rain (or both), because we'll just park next to their door and take him in. The other advantage is that they seem to have more experienced staff.
On the other hand, the place is full: the more experienced staff of two has to take care of ten babies, whereas at Dylan's current place the ratio is more favorable (mainly because they can't find enough parents). Next, the new little babies room caters for babies from 8 to 18 months old, which would pit Dylan against much larger babies that can walk all over him; Dylan's current room takes care of babies up to one year old, which puts Dylan in a good position. Convenience is also hampered by a couple of other factors: The new place's opening hours are significantly shorter, making it a problem to actually have a proper working day in between depositing Dylan in the morning and withdrawing him in the evening. Last, but not least, their prices are on the higher side of high (north of $90 per day), and they even charge $15 an hour for the acclimatization sessions the parents must do before the babies start. Pricing is not just a wallet issue; we find it distasteful that these places can rip people off just because they can, and we definitely appreciate Dylan's current childcare place being a non for profit organization.
It's funny, because up until a few weeks ago we were really disappointed with Dylan's current childcare place and were openly seeking alternatives. However, with time a strange thing has happened: we seemed to have addressed all the problems the childcare posed and now Dylan seems to finally get some proper service there. Sure, it took heavy involvement on my side and significant policing, but it paid off; who knows whether we'd need to go through the same thing again, and whether we'll even know about the problems to begin with. After all, a lot of the problems were identified because Dylan is near me.
To move or not to move? That is the dilemma.
After much deliberation and after visiting the new place, we have decided not to move. A great winter adventure awaits Dylan and I.

Dylan's childcare was just the first of several dilemmas. The next one to take hold of our brains is to do with the installation of solar panels on our roof, as discussed here a few weeks ago.
By now we talked with three different solar panel installers, and with each of them the story is different. The first gave us a rough quote for Chinese made panels, with an out of pocket expense of between $2000 to $3000; the second seemed really slick and professional (or was it that they just talked the talk?), using Aussie made BP panels, and quoting north of $5000 - making it a rather costly affair; and the third offered BP equipment but warned us that the neighbors tree would cast a shadow that will reduce our electricity throughput by 35%.
So which option should we go for? The cheapest? The most professional? Or should we go with the guy that actually measures stuff as opposed to letting his mouth do the talking? And should we go ahead with it in the first place, given the shading issue and our very leaky finances?
Then yesterday we learned that there's this company that collects lists of 50 interested parties in an area, then buys and installs the solar panels in bulk at a cost of less than $1000 out of pocket. They probably don't use the best equipment, but should we care given the cost? We just don't know.

All of the above pales in comparison with the next dilemma.
They say that space is the final front ear and we seem to have rediscovered that age old truth: our house is too small for the three of us, and an extension is high on the agenda.
Jo has already invited professional extentionists to come over and suggest what we can do and for how much. In general, we were thinking of extending our living room so that we can have our home theater next to a living area as opposed to a home theater that is the living area. It is, however, pretty clear even before we get any quotes that we are talking about something that would mean we would have to take a lot of money out of our mortgage: we're talking about acquiring permits, planning, building, re-rendering (probably the entire house), messing with the roof, having to move somewhere while work takes place, and much much more.
The most natural comment at this stage would be "why don't you just move", but the reality is we can't. We will not be able to find a bigger place we can afford in an area as nice as ours, period; and our current area has good schools and it's close enough to the center for Dylan to find it nice as he grows up. Besides, our house is pretty good: as they say, they don't build them like that anymore. For example, being double brick, it's not too cold in winter and not as warm in summer.
Aside of seeing how much the extension option would cost us, there is also the question of what to extend. Theoretically, we could - for significantly less money - build a garage to use for extra storage. That should cost significantly less than a proper extension, but it wouldn't be as nice.
Or should we do both? Time will tell, but until it tells I am constantly bothered by thinking about these dilemmas.

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