Archive for March, 2007

Hands in her pockets

Monday, March 26th, 2007

I was just sticking my hands in my jacket pockets and I remembered a story Karin told me about. After playing in the sand, Reid was still covered in it and so were her clothes. Karin noticed Reid put one hand into her jacket pockets and then try to put the other one in before changing tactics to pull her hand up into her sleeve. When Karin asked what was going on, Reid told her that she wanted to put her hand into her pocket but it wouldn’t fit because there was too much sand in there already. Karin laughed as she shook the sand from Reid’s pocket and then Reid happily buried her hands into the newly available space. Walking about with her hands in her pockets is a favourite posture of Reid’s. I bet the sand in her pocket was annoying. I can’t imagine why she didn’t try to get it out (or maybe she did but Karin didn’t notice). Or maybe she was bringing it with her as a souvenir. The world will never know.

Books we read, March 26th

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Oh the horror, I have to confess that we didn’t read anything. Karin tried to take Reid to the firefighter museum but it was closed. They walked and explored and did lots of physical activity. Karin asked Reid at one point if she wanted to read some books. Reid put her finger to her pursed lips, closed her eyes and considered a few moments before offering a definite “no”. Maybe my concern at having only twelve books with us for the week won’t be such a problem after all.

We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo (San Diego, day 3)

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

We checked out of our small but good-enough since we weren’t ever there hotel, first thing Sunday morning. Reid was going to need a bath instead of the shower in the common bathroom and eventually we were going to want to unpack a bit more and have a place we could stay if we needed to be in the room. Aunt Karin went to get the car and while we sat on the steps to wait, I brushed Reid’s hair and put braids in.  I’d tried to do it in the room but she cried loudly and the people in the next room knocked on the wall. Once outside, though, she had more to look at and wasn’t so loud. In the end, she had two very uneven braids on her head and only one tear on her cheek.

We were lucky that at 8:30am, there was an open room and we were able to take our bags up and settle a bit.
As she walked into the new room, Reid looked around at the two double beds, tv, table and chairs and ensuite bathroom, etc. – a standard sort of room – and said, “I looove it!” Compared to the last place it was pretty luxurious. Still, a cleared bed it important and we made sure that we could climb right in when we got back. We even remembered to pack Reid’s pull-up and pajamas so that we wouldn’t wake her getting her ready for bed. (Seems obvious, and it was, but it still took 3 days to actually do it.)

We decided to eat at the restaurant in the hotel lobby because we were eager to get to the zoo. Or maybe it was just me dreading getting Reid into and out of her car seat. Reid wanted “pandakes” and once she had one on her plate, she was asking if she could use her hands. I’m not sure why she is so intent on using her hands to eat after all these months of proficiency with her “sork”. I told her she had to choose between syrup and her hands. “But why, Mama?” The stickiness is not a downside when you’re two.

Finally, we were on our way to the San Diego Zoo. (This trip has reinforced my understanding of the fact that I am so much more impatient than Reid is for most things. She gets impatient with herself when she can’t accomplish something but not in anticipation of something. Perhaps she doesn’t plan and so has no reason to worry about timings.) Karin and I were singing Raffi’s “Going to the zoo” song while Reid looked at us like we were looney. The shuttle bus driver who had taken us from the airport to the car rental agency had recommended that we take the bus tour of the zoo as soon as we got there and so we did. Reid was happy just to be on another bus and once we started seeing the animals, her eyes got bigger and she smiled lots. The driver/guide, Amy, was informative and funny and I’d definitely recommend it. At the end of the tour, we walked back by the koalas and stopped to put money in the head of a wooden zebra on our way to the elephants. Elephants are truly impressive creatures to see in person. We noticed (okay, it was me) that there were great big elephant poop patties on the ground. Reid’s eyes were big as saucers and danced with laughter and her voice bubbled as she called out to Aunt Karin, “Look, Aunt Tarin. Efelant poop!” Because, really, is there anything funnier than elephant poop? I’m not sure what the other families thought but we laughed at Reid’s amusement/amazement. Next we headed toward Panda Canyon, walking by the camels – who have much thicker fur than I expected for desert animals – anteaters and others. Based on the signs, I decided we needed to take the moving sidewalk up the hill. At the top, there was a sign that said wheelchair/stroller users had to go through the aviary to get to the pandas. We wound our way back down, seeing beautiful birds, fish and vegetation. We came out and saw an Asian bear, some monkeys and end up right across from the moving sidewalk. At which point I noticed another sign pointing straight ahead to the pandas. And there they were. Turns out the first sign, which had an arrow on an angle that I interpreted to be pointing up, merely directed us across the street and up a bit. We would have skipped the aviary otherwise and it was a good mistake. Karin and Reid stood in line to see the pandas and I went to get Reid lunch in a souvenir bucket, she got got a hamburger, pop, chips, raisins and cookies. This was the only food or drink that wasn’t outrageously priced. Bottles of water started at $2.99 and a pop in a souvenir cup was more than $9. Turned out that the food line moved more slowly than the panda line and Reid and Karin were waiting at the entrance when I got back. Reid ate her lunch while the pandas ate theirs. It was almost a tea party. As Reid had been nodding off while waiting in line, we immediately headed for the gate so that we could get her to the car for her nap.

Reid played along and was soon asleep in her car seat while we drove to San Ysidoro to park and then walk to Tijuana. Reid stayed asleep when we put her into her stroller, through the walk to and then through the floor to above-head turnstiles that consitituted crossing the border into Mexico. In fact she slept for at least 45 minutes in the country she hasn’t been in since she was at 6 months gestation. There were many stalls, most of which sold the same things and most of these I suspect were made in China, few looked even remotely related to life in Mexico. I bought a bowl of mixed fruit from a sidewalk vendor, chopped right there in front of me and also some candy on the hope that it turns out tastes good since I don’t read Spanish. Reid woke up in time to eat a bit of fruit, including the cucumber which was included with the mango, pineapple, melons and coconut. There was also some other white fruit that tasted somewhat like a potato and might have been one, actually but Reid wasn’t interested in it. I bought Reid a dress that looks that might be hand made and I hope it was actually made in Mexico and also that it fits. We went to MacDonald’s (of course, there was a MacDonald’s) to use the bathroom. The fellow who unlocked the door for us said I was supposed to show a receipt but he cut us some slack since Reid is small, I think. I tried to buy ice cream cones at the outside wicket but the server refused my $20 bill. When I asked for change at the main counter, the man told me that it was too big a bill to use for a 60 cent cone. I hadn’t looked at the sign carefully enough and/or thought through the peso to dollar conversion. With cones in hand, we went to join the line to cross back. It took about an hours to get from the corner we started on up to the Customs agents. Reid coloured on a receipt I found (I didn’t have a regular piece of paper but I did have crayon) and spent quite a while bonking Aunt Karin on the head with an empty water bottle and a bit of time being bonked by her. This time, the Customs fellow looked at our passports but not at the permission to travel note. After our documents were inspected, we had to put our purses, bags, etc. through an airport-type x-ray machine. I’m not sure why we had to but since ours went through without notice I guess it doesn’t matter. Without any proper planning, it ended up that we had parked close to the exit of US Customs. While we felt like we’d had to walk forever to get across to Mexico, we were ever so glad to be close to the car at the end of the day.

Once back in San Diego, I picked up my conference material and then we found a place to park in the Historic Gaslamp District. I’d like to say we ate at one of the unusual restaurants we walked by but we went to TGI Fridays. I read one story to Reid as we waited for supper but she was starting to fall asleep and so I had to stop reading. I pulled out the playdough since it seemed a bit more active and when that became old, Aunt Karin stepped up. And taught Reid to blow the straw wrappers across the table. Now, that’s a skill that a parent might never think to pass along. Thank goodness for extended families! Reid loved this new game and stayed awake until our food came. I couldn’t persuade her to try any steak but she did eat at least a cup of cooked broccoli and she drank milk. We went back to the car, put Reid into her pull-up and pajamas and headed back to our room. For once though, we didn’t have to travel on one of the famous California freeways and Reid was still awake when we got back. Soon enough, Reid and I were asleep and if Karin was up long, we didn’t know it.

Books we read, March 25th

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

I read Clorinda by Robert Kinerk to Reid in the communal bathroom at the hotel. I’m not sure if anyone else heard me. Reid was interested enough in the tale of Clorinda the cow, who goes to town to vote in November (and I thought, are we reading a US get-out-the-vote book) and also learns to dance ballet in the barn before going to New York to try to make it in show biz. You never know what a person might be capable of, we read. Well, like all struggling performers, Clorinda ended up waiting table until she got her big break. Unfortunately, the big break required that Clorinda jump and be caught by this typically-sized male ballet dancer. He ended up flattened by Clorinda but the audience clapped because Clorinda had clearly tried hard to discover all that she could do. She retired to the farm to teach the other animals to dance and they put on ballets in the barn. It all worked out for the best, as usually happens in kids books.

At supper, I read Norman’s Snowball by Hazel Hutchins as we waited for our supper to arrive. At the beginning of the book, the sister tells us that Norman always loses his mittens and the mother attaches the mittens to a string before the sister takes him out to play. The main story is thay the two kids make a bigger and bigger snowball. At the end, the sister realizes Norman is wearing only his mittens, thanks to the strings, and his underwear. I hadn’t noticed this happening as the story unfolded. When I would have gone back to re-read the story, paying more attention to the illustrations and encouraging Reid to do so as well, Karin pointed out that Reid was nearly asleep and so we stopped reading. Another time we’ll notice.

Heading north (San Diego, day 2)

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

All I really wanted was a Bob Evans breakfast and by the time we got out of our room – which was by 8:00 local time but 11:00 according to my tumm) – I was ready to eat Reid’s toes. We found a Denny’s instead and I settled. I had it in my mind that we should find a farmer’s market and so we made a side trip to a flea market at the direction of our waitress. She must have thought we were mixed up in what we asked for. No fresh fruit for me. We did pass by a Target and so picked up some food and a few other things. Reid loves to shop with Aunt Karin. I think that I am too focused on getting what I need and leaving the store while Karin is more laid back.

We started our touring at Birch Acqaurium at Scripps (at University of California at San Diego), which is in La Jolla. The Fodor’s guide pointed out that it’s pronounced “La Hoya”. I’d never thought of the Spanish pronounciation before. I guess I have to less superior about the Windsor pronunciations of “O-let” (Ouellette) and “Peery” (Pierre) streets. We got there just in time for the fish
feeding in the kelp forest. Reid sat cross-legged on the floor, like a little posture model. I wonder if I had good posture at her age? After quite a while, Reid came to where Aunt Karin and I were standing, glistening with sweat. It was so hot and crowded and Reid was looking like she might fall asleep. The fish ate right out of the the scuba diver’s hand. I’m hoping some of the photos turn out well.

To get Reid to recharge, we walked by the acquariums on either side of the darkened halls between the kelp forest and the entry hall, and went outside to the artificial tide pools, we saw many fish, lobsters, sea anemones and the like. We all touched a star fish – pardon me, the sea star, as the staff said – which felt like coarse sandpaper but soft under the skin. Aunt Karin and I touched the sea cucumber, which was squishy in a way that kind of made you skirm, and also the sea urchin, which moved it’s spines to give a hug. The first time I touched it, I was surprised how hard and pointy the spines were but I was still off-centre by the squishy sea cucumber. Reid enjoyed looking at them but wasn’t keen on reaching into the water again. There was a room with low-to-the floor acquariums (is that acquaria?), including one with pot-bellied sea horses and sea dragons – I didn’t know such a thing existed – Reid and I had talked about seeing sea horses and so I was glad that we actually found them. There was a wall with a big under-seascape that had various kinds of fish and sea horses to stick on. Reid had lots of fun sticking them on.

As I ordered lunch at the outdoor cafe, so much is outdoors here just like what I saw when I watched Beverly Hills 90201, Aunt Karin read to Reid in the bookstore. When they got to the table, Reid had a book in her hands. I asked Karin about the book and she said she hadn’t bought it. I took it back to it’s place on the display without anyone seeming to notice. Shwew!

We next went further up the highway to Carlsbad to Legoland. Reid fell asleep on the trip and stayed asleep as we but her into her stroller. We went into the tent sale to buy some Lego but there were so many crying kids in a small space that Aunt Karin went outside again. I chose a bunch of girl-coloured Legos, you know, pinks and yellows, but also grey, beige and brown ones and some in regular colours. We pushed the stroller through a bit of Miniland USA but then I decided we needed to wake Reid so that she would sleep at bedtime. Aunt Karin thought I was mean but that’s the difference between being the mama and being the auntie; I have to do what should be done instead of what Reid wants. I’ve enjoyed the reverse situation with Sulienne, Adam and Shea and so turn-about is fair play. Besides, I was having flashbacks to the Bataan Death March that was Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village that we saw in June 2005.

Reid and I put on our bathing suits and played at Pirate Shores, which had splash pads and mini waterslides. Many of the attractions were based on Lego sets and so weren’t really meaningful in themselves but we enjoyed them nonetheless. The day was warm and sunny but there was a bit of a breeze and eventually Reid’s lips started to turn blue and so we left. It wasn’t cold enough that we walked by the Dippin Dots. Reid and I shared some, though thankfully, I knew that she would want her own and had asked for an extra bowl. I’m not sure what she thought of ice cream micro-balls but Reid ate a fair amount.

We toured a mock factory but it wasn’t clear to me at the end how Legos were built from the raw materials all the way to the packaging. Reid liked the many buttons to push on the way through, though. As usual, I don’t think that I was the target market. The factory tour ended in a store (of course) that had many rows of bins of bricks in different colours and sizes. They sold the bricks by weight, just like in a Bulk Barn. Aunt Karin and Reid built some structures while I shopped. I looked and looked for the little red squares with wheels attached. Finally, I asked one of the cashiers for help finding wheels. He pointed me to a display I had looked at already and so I went back. Still, I couldn’t see them and so I went to him and was explicit about the red-block-with-wheels brick that I was looking for and he said he didn’t those were manufactured anymore. Instead, he took me to bins that had tires and, separately, inner bits. There were car bodies and thin grey squares with axels on them. I guess I shouldn’t complain about assembly-required Legos, eh, but I never would have figured out that those three pieces went together.

We found a display with Lego-instruments that “played” when people jumped on a related circle. Reid had lots of fun jumping and hearing the different recordings. We also stopped to squirt water at crocodiles and elephants and other animals, all built of Legos of course. The game was set up so that the child was supposed to sit on a bike and pedal to get water to flow to the squirt “gun”. Reid is too short to reach the peddles and may or may not be coordinated enough to do so, in any case, she had me and so I peddled with my hands while she squirted. I tired of the game before she did.

About 15 minutes before the rides were scheduled to close, we finally found the fairy tale ride. This was the only ride that I had planned to take and I was a bit worried we wouldn’t make it. We rode in a leaf boat – “A boat, Mama!” – and floated along the water course to see the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, and the Three Billy Goats Gruff. I’m not sure which of these stories Reid has heard. I’ll have to remember this when I’m choosing books for her next week. After the ride, we headed for the front gate and got only a few metres before coming across the dinosaur dig. I’m not sure how it relates to Legos at all but we stopped to dig in the sand for a while. I resisted the offer to rent a bucket, shovel and paint brush – maybe the tie-in to Lego was the profit – and Karin resisted the urge to say, “I told you so,” since she had suggestedwe bring sand toys with it. Soon, though, we had to get back in the car.

We stopped for strawberries at the side of the road, just like in Essex County in June, and picked up tangerines, too. Then, we were back on the highway looking for a place to stop for supper. Finally, we took an exit labelled “Encinatas” but ended up in a little community called “Cardiff by the Sea”. We ordered a pizza and then got a tea while Reid ran about and the pizza cooked. As the sun set, we bundled into our sweaters and ate the piping hot pizza. Well, Karin and I ate. Reid was too busy. When we got into the car, she realized she was “hung’y” and ate a few bites before handing the  pizza slice back to me and closing her eyes. She was asleep and snoring with her head on her chest in short order. Reid barely roused as we carried her into the hotel and was back deeply asleep before I got back from the bathroom.

It was a long, fun day and we were worn out.

Books we read, March 24th

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

We read Red is Best by Kathy Stinson before we left the room. I almost accidentally-on-purpose forgot it but then had an attack of conscience and put it in the bag.

In the bookstore at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Aunt Karin read a counting book about fish but she didn’t record the title or author. Can you imagine!? We didn’t read any books at Legoland in Carlsbad though we did read the map quite a few times.

And that’s it.  I’ll have to remember to pull out some books at the restaurants.

It’s the little things that make Reid’s day (San Diego, day 1)

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

We left home at “0 dark 30″, or maybe it was 3:50 am, and headed to the airport with a girl who decided not to go back to sleep. In the airport garage we discovered that my nifty GoGo Kidz car seat rolling cart-thing didn’t fit onto Reid’s car seat. It’s such a pain to take out and reinstall the car seat that we decided to wing it. Sigh. We gambled and lost. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that, I figured out that Reid’s car seat will sit upright in the basket under her stroller. Ken dragged the suitcase and we got checked in by 4:30. Reid had many hugs and kisses for Daddy and waved as long as she could see him.  With Reid guzzling a 4oz bottle of juice (3 oz is the maximum allowable size of liquids) while we walked up to the security check. The folks there opened a couple of ropes for us and we got right to the head of the line to be checked. Reid and I were metal free and had no troubles. At Customs, I presented our passports and Ken’s letter of consent for me to take Reid out of the country. The agent read the letter fully. I found it reassuring.

We read a bit on the plane to Detroit and then we coloured. The flight wasn’t long and my only moment of concern was when I got Reid halfway to the bathroom and the seatbelt sign came back on. She didn’t like going back to her seat but I was glad for the Dora pull-up she was wearing. She made it to the bathroom in the Detroit airport, though, and was proud of the fact.

As soon as we found Aunt Karin, Reid took her to the fountain while I tried to get us seats together. The fountain was probably the best thing that happened to her by that point in the day. By the time I got to them, Reid’s belly, arms and pants were soaked. Reid had an ear-to-ear grin and a giggle for me when she saw me. At least the chocolate milk she spilled when I was responsible for her had dried ;+) I’m a professional mom-traveller, though, an had a second outfit (but we hung the other outfit to dry on the plane, just in case).

Reid fell asleep before we had even taken off from Detroit and slept the first hour of the flight. The next four hours involved colouring, reading, eating, trips to the bathroom, playing with a toy from MacDonalds and then repetition of these in various orders. Oh, and many “why’s”. Reid is two after all. I think we were all glad to land and get off the plane.

Reid, especially, was glad to move freely outside of her car seat and burn some of the energy she had been holding in. Outside of the San Diego airport in the warm, sunny weather Reid had great fun sliding down the base of column. There incline was steep and the concrete “polished” for speed. Over and over she slid down and had me hoist her back up. This slide was her new favourite part of the day. Next, and soon to displace the slide in terms of wow-factor, we took a shuttle bus to the car rental agency. Reid hasn’t been on a bus since the Carp Fair last fall. It was a *big deal*.

At the first hotel, we dropped our bags in our little room while Reid took stock. There were two twin beds, a small table for a desk and a free-standing closet that all looked like they came from Ikea. Thank goodness we didn’t need to spend much time in the room.

We immediately headed out. It was only 2:30 or so California time and I wanted to try and get Reid’s schedule switched and also I knew I had only two-and-a-half days before I had to go back to “work”. We went to Balboa Park, which has many museums set in a park. We trekked, with many side trips to see plants, trees, benches, etc., to the RH Fleet Science Centre. I was able to get us in with our science centre membership card from Ottawa. Reid enjoyed the kid’s centre with a grocery section, a book nook, a forced air discovery centre. We all liked, or at least were drawn to the Grossology exhibit that covered farting, burping, nasal mucous and acne. It was really gross but also engaging. I hope the photos that we took will do it justice.

We drove around a bit afterward looking for a restaurant. We ended up at white linen napkin place but they agreed to sit us far from other patrons and so we stayed. We had prime rib, potatoes and squash. It was so good! We had also found a Ben & Jerry’s and so we stopped there. It seemed like we should have an ice cream cone on our first day in California.  On the way back to the car, while eating a dripping ice cream cone, Reid was excited to discover an “M” on a store window. I’m not sure how happy the merchant will be with Reid’s finger print but she moves fast and I was jet lagged.

Reid was asleep minutes after we got into the car. She woke briefly as we got to the room and put her pajamas on but not for long. Aunt Karin and I joined her very soon. A little room doesn’t matter as long as the beds are cleared off.

Books we read, March 23rd

Friday, March 23rd, 2007
Since we spent most of the day in transit, we did as much reading as was reasonable without me getting motion sick. We read:
  • Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and someone whose name escapes me;
  • Red is Best, once by Aunt Karin on the plane and twice by me at the restaurant;
  • And You Can Be the Cat by Hazel Hutchins; and
  • Henry and the Cow Problem by Iona Whishaw.


At the RH Fleet Science Centre, in a booknook, we read Mrs Wishy-Washy Joy Cowley twice. I’m sure Ken was not sorry to miss it as Mrs W-W is not his favourite character but he would have read it because that’s what it takes to be a dad.

Another airplane!

Friday, March 23rd, 2007
The San Diego airport is just minutes from downtown. I mean *maybe* 10 minutes out. There are always airplanes flying low over the city. At first it was a bit startling for Karin and me. By last night we were using the airplanes to help us navigate the streets, as in “that plane is ahead and off to the left, we’ll have to turn left at the next light and drive a few more blocks before we get there.” Our room is on the 14th floor but I couldn’t hear them during the night though I’d expected to do so. I’m wondering how city residents felt just after September 11th with all of the planes flying so close. Throughout, Reid has been excited to see the airplanes. They just never get boring for her.

Books we read, March 22nd

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

We read: