Archive for June, 2007

Our wonderful hotel room

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

I left Reid and Aunt Karin in the breakfast room Tuesday morning as I dashed off to my conference. We decided if they were at waterfront at the end of the day, they’d meet me at the conference hotel. Aunt Karin was hoping to go to the beach or maybe the Ontario Science Centre.

After breakfast, Reid and Aunt Karin went back up to the room so that Reid could have a bath. Afterwards, Aunt Karin tried to get her to go out. Reid refused. They played and read in the room until finally Aunt Karin said Reid had to either go out for lunch or have a nap. Lunch it was. As they walked, many people were looking at Reid and smiling at her in her little sundress and shorts (thanks, Grandma Joyce). They ate lunch at an Italian restaurant. Reid chose penne. At the end, Reid’s face was covered and so was her pretty dress. Aunt Karin, being a resourceful woman, turned the dress inside out and put it back onto Reid. They got lots of smiles as they walked afterward and so it must have worked – or the people were laughing at the lady who didn’t know how to dress her kid. They stopped at a store to buy sand toys but Reid was not interested. Instead they chose Old MacDonald: A spin and sing story book and returned to the room. After their nap (I wish – had a nap) they played again for a while until Aunt Karin had to threaten another nap to get Reid to agree to leave the room again. Aunt Karin asked Reid what she wanted for supper and she answered “pasta”. They weren’t in the same neighbourhood and pasta wasn’t evident. Finally, they passed by a KFC/Taco Bell combination store and Reid noticed and asked for a taco. When Aunt Karin asked her if she wanted a soft or hard shell, Reid got a confused look on her face but when Aunt Karin said she was having a soft shell, Reid asked for a hard shell instead. I’m not sure I’ve ever given Reid a hard shell taco and doubt that she has had them at daycare. They wandered around the Eaton Centre and Reid conned Aunt Karin into buying her a new hat. If you’re keeping track, that’s one hat per trip over the last two trips. We still have the seven or eight hats Grandma Joyce made last summer and they still fit Reid. Reid is the Immelda Marcos of hats.

By the time I got done at my geek dinner (and it was fabulous!), Reid and Aunt Karin were once again back in the room. Aunt Karin told me the story of their day. She told me that she had drank the cup of camomille tea I’d forgotten. The first sips, she said, weren’t to her taste but since she wasn’t going out to get a coffee she persevered.

Reid really needed a day of chill’axing, as the hip kids say or did say. Or maybe she didn’t want to go in case I came back. Either way, she was likely to have an easygoing adult that was able to follow the pace and join Reid in reading, playing with CareB and penguin (new from McDonalds on Monday), and watching some cartoons.

Museum confessions

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

I have to make a confession: I’m really not into natural history museums or even science centres.

On Sunday, Reid and I spent a couple of hours at the Ontario Science Centre while Aunt Karin sat on the grass and tried to feel better. We spent all of our time in the KidSpark – punny, eh, with a good double entendre. There was an enormous, and noisy, sculpture that required the kids to help move some of the balls along their paths and Reid did so repeatedly at a couple of places. Rather than testing process and discovering that it worked consistently, like when she was little and the spoon dropped from her highchair always fell down to the floor, the balls had a few variations of what they would do. There were signs explaining about the probability of various outcomes but Reid enjoyed the observation exercise without the statistics. Once into the kids’ zone proper, Reid went confidently from exhibit to exhibit, exploring each as long as her interest was held. I noted this particularly because Reid tends to like to evaluate a new situation or person before jumping in. At museums, though, she hurries to whatever catches her interest in her little wiggling half-run that sets her ponytails swinging.

My favourite activity was the panels of pins that you can press a body part against and then see the 3-D version on the other side. Reid really enjoyed the stage and pretend guitars. She liked seeing herself on the tv monitor and the differently shaped guitars. The biggest hit for Reid was probably the mini Market (like Loblaws or Zehrs) with President’s Choice products, plus meat, fish, fruit and veggies that she could shop for and then check out. She got to be the cashier once her basket was full and I was the customer. I was also the one who was the stock boy. I wonder if other parents were thinking, “Wow, this is good product placement.”

I’m happy that she had fun at the various stations but I’m not sure what she is learning at most of them and I don’t know what conversation that I should have with her to help her understand what is happening. Maybe it’s my fault, I did drop science after grade 10. Maybe it really is all about me.

On Monday, we went to the Royal Ontario Museum. As soon as we walked in, we saw three dinosaur skeletons on a wall. Or at least once we cleared the security check, which included a bag search, we saw them. Reid had a big smile on her face but the guard cautioned us that there weren’t many more. I thought they were better displayed than at the Canadian Nature Museum. We visited the reptiles display because it was between the elevator and the kids’ zone. Aunt Karin commented that there were too many snakes for her but she looked at a lot more of them than than I did. Stuffed dead animals creep me out a bit and since I have no warm and fuzzy feelings toward reptiles …

We spent a long time in the hands-on biodiversity gallery. Reid looked intently at the butterflies pinned to the board, the little stuffed mice, squireels and what not. She asked no questions about their “deadness” but was delighted to see them up close. Her enthusiasm was infectious and, when combined with my determination to be a “good mom”, this helped me to slow down. I thought of the scene from that movie about the President of the US where the tour guide leads the group around the White House saying, “We’re walking, we’re walking.” But I didn’t say it. Does anyone remember what movie that was? There were some old school discovery cases (remember I put myself through university working in museums and so I notice these things). Reid spent lots of time with these – looking at plastic bugs with a magnifying glass, smelling cinnanmon and other things, looking through devices that simulated how bees, dragon flies, and other creature things, etc. I’m going to make a mental note to have Reid smell more things at home and will be putting a magnifiying glass and plastic bugs on her birthday wish list. I was impressed by Reid’s ability to focus on each of the boxes for an extended period of time.

After awhile, we went into the kids room (I can’t remember if it had a cutesy name). Reid and I “dug” for dinosaur bones in some fake sand using paintbrushes. She was very interested in this activity. Her daycare has had dinosaurs as the theme for two or three weeks and so the special exhibit at the zoo and the dinosaur dig and skeletons on the way in really resonated with her. We cuddled and read a few books but only How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends?“>How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? by Jane Yolen had a link to any of the displays. I was starting fall asleep and so didn’t protest when Reid decided to go play with a tea set. Aunt Karin did lay on the bean bag couch and I’m pretty sure that she managed a nap. Reid has been getting her naps in but Aunt Karin and I haven’t managed any. Reid tried on a chainmail hood and I tried on a metal helmet but I couldn’t talk her into posing for a picture. We may end up with nothing to prove that we were both in Toronto together. (Not that I want a lot of photos of me but one of us would be nice.) Reid was playing with some plastic dinosaurs when a little girl touched CareB and Reid decided it was time to go. I didn’t let her knock the little girl away but we did leave quite soon. Aunt Karin and I were tired enough to jump on the excuse to leave. We’d been there about 3 hours and on our feet throughout. Reid was fresh but she is young, rides in a stroller and naps. Quick, call a waanh-mbulance!

Other than the creepiness factor, an I was as pleased as Reid to be able to get up close to the lion, cheetah, bear cub, moose, etc. I still didn’t know what to say about most of the exhibits or what she is learning, though. Hmmm, I sound a bit like a control freak, don’t I? I *did* finally figure out what the difference was between a cheetah and a leopard because there was a stuffed one of each. The cheetah’s spots are smaller and solidly dark while the leopard’s spots are bigger and have a light centre.

I think my ambivalence stems from not knowing what learning is happening in natural history or science centres. I think that they’re good as an alternative to amusement parks or street. As someone trained in history and who worked in historic sites, I’m much more comfortable in history museums, even those with content that is outside of knowledge base. I know the how and why of these museums.  If there was some sort of guide for parents at the museum or science centres, I’d read it. Maybe I should do some Web research …

When in Toronto

Monday, June 18th, 2007

I know that the saying is: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” but for Toronto, I think it should be: “When in Toronto, go to the zoo.” Okay, I’m a bit biased since Reid loves zoos and I’m pretty partial to them myself. We spent two great days at the Toronto Zoo, seeing all of the usual zoo animals, riding on camels and a pony, and even at the Dinosaurs Alive special exhibition. The zoo was much more crowded on Saturday than Sunday, though I’d expected the reverse, thinking that it would be a good Father’s Day destination. There is also a splash park with a zoo animal-theme. Reid was most interested in the mallard ducks and seals.  Once again we straggled out of the zoo after 7:00 (it closes at 7:30). On Saturday, we arrived about 2:00 and on Sunday, it was closer to 3:00. We were flat out tired at the end of each day, which is the way you should be at the end of a day “touristing”, I guess.

Busy Saturday with my girl

Monday, June 18th, 2007

I hit a button on my Blackberry and ended up at the end of my messages. When I was rolling up, I found this entry that I wrote back on May 29th.

I wonder how long Reid will agree to be dragged hither and yon with me on Saturdays, or any day for that matter. I know that I should appreciate it while it lasts and I do. We started out with yard sale-ing, where we bought the bike, then headed to Kindermusik and afterwards to the library. Not “our library, our red library” but “our library, new library”, which is much bigger and has a better selection of both kids books and books on cd. We poked around there, listened to a bit of the story that the librarian was telling to the kids in the storytime circle without joining in because Reid has a phobia or something about the storytime and then read from The Broken Cat or something like that. It couldn’t wait until we were home.

Once in the car, I gave Reid her peanut-butter-on-a-hot-dog-bun sandwich (remember she’s overly familiar with McDonald’s) and went in search of a gas station. Reid piped up that she wanted a milkshake – where did that come from I wondered since we don’t usually get them, even when we go to McDonald’s. We found a gas station that took my loyalty card, sold water and had a bathroom. Perfect! Plus it had Crispy Creme doughnuts, delivered fresh each day, and so I took a glazed one for the road. It turned out that I also took the key to the bathroom with me, too, but I didn’t discover my perfidy until I got to Morrisburg. Now I wonder if I should go back to gas station next Saturday or whether they’ll have changed the lock already. I got Reid her milkshake, which proved tough to slurp for my impatient princess but waiting was even more difficult. Much further into the trip than I’d expected, Reid fell asleep and I enjoyed my newly borrowed book on cd for the sunny drive to Morrisburg.

At Upper Canada Village, I ponied up for a membership for me – cost the same as two visits but not for Reid since I’d have to bring her 8 times to save money. I was imagining us looking at a few of the houses, discussing the housewares and furnishing, that sort of thing. Reid was full of questions about the farm animals as we entered. I talked her into going into the broom makers cottage. I thought she loves to “fweep” it would be an easier sell than it was. I also carried her into one house despite her objections but otherwise we looked at the animals. There was a team of two horses pulling a guided tour wagon, a team of four horses pulling a stage coach, two horses pulling a farm wagon and one horse pulling a delivery cart wagon from the bakery to the store. We had some interesting conversations about why there was such a diversity of wagons and horses. The most important question in all cases was “What are the horses’ names?” Reid didn’t want to pet them or even get close to them but she did want to know what they were called. I showed her a couple of “bulls” we later learned were oxen. I looked for them again on the way out, since we had been looking for the oxen and since I had misinformed the poor kid but they were hiding at the far end of their pasture and we really couldn’t see them. We were Johnnies-on-the-Spot at milking time and though Reid sat on my lap while I milked the one cow, she didn’t want to touch it. She did, however, make the correct motions with her hands as she watched others do the milking. Maybe another time she’ll try to milk the cow directly. I’m sure there’ll be many opportunities.

We got supper from McDonalds on our way out of Morrisburg. Reid had enough energy to tell Ken about her day and beg for a couple stories before bed. It was a full day and, I hope Reid would agree, a fun one.

Books we read, June 16th

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

At home, sitting on the floor of our bedroom because that’s where I had set the books last night after I recorded them and also where Reid sat and asked for them to be read to her:

  • Duck by David Lloyd, I’m thinking that this book will join The Big Honey Hunt in the give-away box since I have such negative feelings toward it. Reid has many other books to choose from; and
  • Chitter Chatter! (no author), the story of a bunch of animals who really need to listen carefully to details.

On the train we read:

  • Mortimer by Robert Munsch, with Reid supplying Mortimer’s “song”;
  • Henry and the Cow Problem by Iona Whishaw, I do love the imagined ingenuity of the cows;
  • Dinosaur Dreams by Kerry Westell, from which we learned that dinosaurs are very much like kids, dreaming about fingerpainting and kicking ice pieces and things of that sort rather than about eating the smaller dinosaurs;
  • And You Can be the Cat by Hazel Hutchins, with Norman who builds “a parapet (though he had no idea what a parapet was)”;
  • The Fire Station by Robert Munsch, the miniature version of which is very different and not as enjoyable as the full size one. Sheila is not the brave, devil-may-care ring leader encouraging Michael to be brave. Instead they are much more equal;
  • A Friend Like You by Roger Pare, any book starring cats is already a long way to being popular with our family; and
  • Then, no books at the zoo, supper and Reid fell asleep on the way to the hotel (mind you, it was 9 o’clock).

I’ve forgotten how civilized it is to travel by train

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

I wrote this while we were travelling – my version of live blogging, I guess. 

We’re maybe 20 minutes into our trip, at the Fallowfield Station in the west end of Ottawa, and I’m thinking that I’d forgotten how civilized it is to travel by train. (I don’t know how our city rates two stations but it has them.) Okay, the train station part would have been improved by having two clerks at the ticket desk but since we arrived only 30 minutes early and still boarded the train, it worked out in the end. Reid and I have a four-seat area to ourselves and we could adapt to two more people if we needed to. Reid has been playing with our tickets for at least five minutes. I’m not going to rush her into an activity while she is amusing herself – I’m tempted but I’m working on that “okay, okay, move along, what’s next” impulse. ;+) 

90 minutes in – I just checked my watch for the first time. I stuck my hand into my pocket, noticed the watch there and went to put it on, looked at it and realized we still had three hours of travelling. I decided it would be better to stay in the moment and stuck my watch back into my pocket.

When the snack cart lady came by we bought cookies, a muffin and a bottle of water. The water was just what I hoped for. Reid was not so impressed with the cookies or muffin. I thought the cookies were okay, if cold, but I think the muffin was chocolate chip and bran – yuck! It’s a betrayal of chocolate chips to put them in a bran muffin. At nearly three hours into the trip, I offered Reid a Care Bear movie that lasted about 6 minutes before we switched to Franklin Takes a Trip, which lasted only 4 or 5 minutes, before we switched to Toopy and Binoo videos through iTunes.

It’s official, we’re now late. By two minutes as I write this. The man with the really bad French has said we’ll be 25 minutes late. Given that we’re not cramped in an airplane, it’s really not a problem and I’m not complaining. Besides, Aunt Karin might need time to find a parking spot.

Okay, one hiccup. We got off of the train and were told that the elevators wasn’t working. They tried to tell me to take the escalator with Reid in her big stroller and me with a heavy backpack and a duffle bag. Never mind the signs on the escalator saying that you weren’t allowed to take strollers on them. After what seemed like an eternity but was probably 10-15 minutes and two phone calls with Aunt Karin, a red cap appeared to help. I let him take the stroller down the escalator while I carried Reid. To do it on my own would have been like those brain teasers where you have to get a goat, a sack of grain, a chicken and some cabbages across a river in a row boat that can’t hold everything. Goodness knows what they do with people in wheelchairs. At the bottom of the escalator, Aunt Karin was waiting. Yes, she’d tried to come up but was told we’d have to get a red cap instead. Cha-ching! ;+) It was better than our return flight from San Diego when that guy from the plane and I had to carry Reid and her stroller up the steps, though.

Overall, I stand by the train as a good way to travel. We’ll see what I think after our return trip on Wednesday night.

Breakfast – not just cereal anymore

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

At some point over the last week or two, Reid decided to stop eating cereal for breakfast at home. She’s had many bowls of fruit, a few days of banana bread, the occasional slice of bread with margarine on it and one day ate a left over hamburger on a bun. At daycare, she continues to eat what they give her. It goes to show, again, that rules of life are different at daycare. I agree with what Grandma Joyce says about preferring that kids behave best in public, though.

Wish me luck that Reid puts on her best public behaviour while we’re out and about in Toronto until Wednesday.

When you know they’re tired but they won’t admit it

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

We had a bit of a rough evening Thursday. It started out well enough, I remembered to tell one of the daycare teachers that Reid will be absent Monday through Wednesday next week as I have that conference in Toronto to attend. When Reid came over, Archana asked her where she was going and Reid replied “Missle’s” and I had laughed and told Archana we were going out for supper. By the time Reid had identified Melissa as my friend and Stephen, Sarah and Benjamin as her friends, the time for talking up Toronto had passed. Another teacher came up and explained that she’d been playing with Reid, chasing her, and Reid fell down and scraped her knee. Reid always has one scrape or another and so I wasn’t overly worried and just asked if the new scrape qualified for a band-aid becaue Reid would think it was worth the pain. Reid happily showed off her bandaged knee to me and then Melissa’s kids when she had the chance. She never mentioned the accident or any pain.

Reid and I went to Melissa’s for supper as always. In our summer tradition, we managed a swim before supper. Reid played at the edge a bit, swam a bit and sat on the rocking bench for a while watching. All three activities pleased her. At supper, though, I restricted Reid’s parmesan cheese to one heaping teaspoonful on a very small serving of spagetti. Great amounts of woe and anguish followed. Tears were spilled. Sarah tries to help with reassurances and distractions. She will be a good babysitter and mama one day. Reid ended up crying on the couch for a while and finally, she came back to the table. She ate and then there was a bit of a crisis when she received only a half of a cupcake rather than the unbroken one she wanted. Last week, she was given a full cupcake and ate only four bites of it. More unhappiness and an offer from her mama, who was getting to the end of her own rope, to go home since Reid was so tired. The wails changed to “I not tired!” Wailing is usually proof that Reid is indeed tired, but I didn’t argue the point. We soon packed up and left, with Reid fussing in the back seat and me telling her how much better she would feel if she “had a rest” while we drove. She didn’t believe me. She did, however, go to sleep pretty much as soon as we got into the rocking chair at home. Poor tired girl.

Books we read, June 15th

Friday, June 15th, 2007
  • Caillou: Sounds, a bath book that has been hanging around the tub a very long time but we haven’t lately. Reid pretty much read it to herself; 
  • Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom, 75 times if you can believe Ken but I think that he might be exaggerating a bit. I read it once at bedtime but he refused;
  • Little Bear Paints on the Farm (no author), with a query from Ken as to why “that bear” is painting the animals;
  • Click, Clack, Splish, Splash: A Counting Adventure by Doreen Cronin, which I like but it worries me that one day Reid will decide to take gold fish to a pond to free them as the animals in this book do;
  • The Grumpalump by Sarah Hayes, I like the range of animals featured, including a dove and an armadillo, and the way that the lump continues to grump throughout;
  • Caillou: My Daddy by Christine L’Heureux, a board book with a sweet message about babies and their dads;
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, because today was a snowy day, as Ken said or at least it was the antithesis of one;
  • Chitter Chatter! (no author), a book that Ken and I have each read to Reid many times but today I heard them discussing who was saying what – a discussion that hadn’t happened previously to my knowledge;
  • Duck by David Lloyd, a nice watercolour that I struggle with because in the second half of the book the grandma only acknowledges the little boy when he correctly labels the vehicle and then there is the sentence, “For some time after this Tim never said a single word. He just looked and looked.” It reminds me of the Harry Chapin song, Flowers are Red, and that song makes me very sad and I always switch the radio when I hear it; and
  • Oink? by Margie Palatini, I read it first thing this morning and Reid had Ken read it just before bed. Ken is offended when pigs are portrayed as dirty and dumb. The other rude animals in this book reinforce this stereotype but I discussed how rude they were and Ken explained why pigs get muddy. We’ll have to see if Reid gets picked on when she gets to school. It might be our fault.

Books we read, June 14th

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

In the car on the way to daycare, because I’d brought them with the intention of writing down the titles (I don’t know when I thought I would, now that I think of it), I read:

  • The Very Bad Bunny by Marilyn Sadler; and
  • At My House by Claire Clark and Susan James Frye.

At Melissa’s house, we read again from the From the Big Book of Farmyard Tales by Heather Amery:

  • Hungry Donkey;
  • Tractor in Trouble;
  • Kitten’s Day Out;
  • Pig Gets Lost;
  • The Silly Sheepdog.

I’ve got the opening page memorized but unfortunately in my memory, one of the kids is named Rusty instead of the dog. The problem is that I make this mistake at the beginning of each story and it bugs me (though Reid doesn’t seem to mind).