Archive for November, 2007

Glimmer of bilingualism?

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

While Reid was nursing tonight, she said to me, “More milkies, please, Mama.” After a minute she said something that sounded like “lait”. I asked if she said, “plus de lait” and Reid said “yes”. Was it a glimmer of bilingualism? I know that Reid hears French at daycare but the only other time its been obvious was when she was learning the alphabet and substituted a “double-b” for the “W”.  Now I’m left wondering if I should have asked “plus du lait” or if “plus de lait” was okay. I can’t wait to go on French training so that I can speak more confidently with Reid.

Clark Kent has nothing on Reid-Reid

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Every once and a while, Reid will run around very quickly, often dashing in from the hallway or another room. At this point, she is Super Reid. It happens often at naptime or bedtime and is a not-so-subtle delaying tactic. Super Reid gives super hugs and so it is a good delaying tactic. Ken referred to Reid as Super Reid one night last week and she told him that she wasn’t Super Reid. He asked her who she was when she wasn’t Super Reid. The answer was simple, she was Reid-Reid. To be perfectly clear, Ken is Daddy-Daddy when he isn’t Super Daddy, I’m Mama-Mama and the cats are Leo-Leo and Pooka-Pook respectively. I’m not sure how good our non-superhero names are at disguising our secret identities but then again no one seemed to notice that you don’t see Clark Kent and Superman at the same time.

I’m lucky like that

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

I was able to telework today for the first time in a very long time. As I was proudly telling Ken that I would be working in my comfy clothes, he asked if I had noticed that the furnace wasn’t sounding like it was supposed to sound and that the house was cold. It was a fortunate thing that I was able to be at home for the furnace repairman to come over. I’m lucky like that. And since I have lots of warm clothes and the furnace was working enough to keep the house from being painfully cold, which was lucky in itself since the fellow didn’t turn up until 2:30. I’m lucky like that, too.

Now if I only be lucky enough for the third guy who said that he wants to come and boy my snowtires to actually show up. I’d even take the second guy, who did have the grace to call and cancel. I want to sell a bunch of Reid’s toys (yes, I still haven’t done anything about them) but the snowtire experience hasn’t been what I was hoping for.

Let it snow, snow, snow

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Reid was pleased to see the dusting of snow that greeted us when we woke up on Wednesday and she was absolutely delighted with our first snowstorm of the season on Thursday. They spent lots of time playing outside at daycare and even built a couple of snowmen. There is a bit of a hill in the enclosure and they were sliding down it as well. When we pick Reid up at night, her mittens are wet and her cheeks are rosy and she has a great, big smile on her face. It is a great time to be a kid in a northern city. The weather forecast includes the likelihood of the snow melting, which makes me sad since I haven’t had a chance to play outside with Reid.

Those friendly public servants who sent me the Halloween safety tips have sent some tips for surviving a severe storm. This time, they didn’t let me read them in the email but they did post them to their Web site. The tips seem more related to summer storms than the snowfall we just had, though. I was expecting reminders about having chocolate bars and water in the car, along with a solar blanket and slow burning candle. I thought they might even remind me to put four snow tires on, clear all snow from the car before heading out and leave extra stopping distance while driving. Transport Canada offers the following advice for winter travel:

  • Always keep the gas tank at least half full, and add gasoline antifreeze to every second tank.
  • Top up antifreeze, transmission, brake and windshield-washer fluids.
  • Use a matching set of all-season or snow tires that meet standards (see below).
  • Make sure that tire valves are equipped with caps to keep out snow and ice.
  • Dress properly – wear warm clothing.
  • Carry a winter emergency kit that includes: extra antifreeze and windshield-washer fluid; a flashlight and extra batteries; blankets; a candle; matches; hazard markers or flares; a snow shovel; extra hats and mitts; and chocolate or granola bars.
  • Check local weather and road conditions before leaving.
  • If possible, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • Bring a map and be prepared to take an alternative route.
  • Bring a cell phone.

There is also information on winter tire safety tips, antilock breaking systems and even information on safe snowmobiling.

We’ll be travelling again this weekend (and you know we always have rough weather) and want to be safe on the go. I thought I’d share the information that I gathered so that you can be safe, too.

I had pie once – the response

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

I’ve mentioned before that whenever Ken has pie he says, “I had pie once,” but it needs to be fresh in your mind or this won’t make sense.  Now pie is pretty rare at our house but it wasn’t at Grandmamas when Ken’s grandfather was reminiscing about having had pie. We laugh when Ken says it but it makes me a bit sad that Reid and I never met Grandpa Charlie. From this and other stories that Ken tells, it sounds like he was a special guy.

All this leads me to the fact that I made an apple pie this past weekend. We spent some time at the orchard and then an afternoon of peeling, peeling and more peeling, that has left us with apples slices in pie portion sized bags in our freezer. I tossed some into a store-bought crust. (I didn’t say that I’d been possessed by Martha Stewart and made pie ;+) I even remembered to add margarine before I put the crust on so that we wouldn’t have apple soup like the last time.

When it was ready to eat and I offered it to Ken, he said, “I had pie once.” (I told you that he says it every time.) Not missing a beat, Reid asked, “You like pie again?” Ken and I laughed aloud and he declared Reid to be the only person to have offered the proper response.

Happy Canadian Children’s Book Week – Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Now maybe you don’t buy a present to mark every national day or week in honour of this or that and maybe you’re not even Canadian but I really hope that you will go out and pick up a Canadian book for a child in your life in honour of Canadian Children’s Book Week. There are so many great books out there and, being the helpful (and bossy) sort, I thought I’d provide a few recommendations:

1. Stella, Princess of the Sky by Marie-Louise Guay, or any other of the Stella and Sam series that tells the stories of an confident, all-knowing or at least always-answering, big sister, and her somewhat cautious younger brother. They’re spunky, these two and the illustrations are lovely and perfect for times when your eyes need beauty and tranquility.

2. Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko is a popular story in our house right now since Reid has to choose how her hair will be done each day. I’d recommend most Robert Munsch books though sometimes they feature “strong” language, like “stupid”. I even like Love You Forever though I cry every time I read it. Ken would disagree. He calls it “Stalk You Forever” and refuses outright to read it to Reid.

3. Read Me a Book by Barbara Reid is a lovely book for new parents and small children. Most any book by Barbara Reid features bright plasticine images and a strong story but I have to warn you against Two by Two. I found it to be a dark retelling of the Noah’s Ark story that disturbed my 3 year old. I know the Bible story is about a world full of wickedness but I expected a lighter telling of the story from Barbara Reid.

4. Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bougeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark is the Franklin story that I was able to choose among the many that we enjoy reading at our house. I picked it because it tells the story of Franklin trying to choose what gift to give to a toy drive and it seems appropriate at this time of year. Any Franklin story by Paulette Bourgeois is worth reading although I must warn you that Franklin can be a bit whiny or troublesome in some of the stories, like all kids can be. The stories based on television episodes, and written by other authors, are sometimes weaker due to their origins.

5. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler, a book for kids a bit older than 3 but I’m looking forward to re-reading it with Reid in a few months. I might try it right away but we’re still getting past the Hallowe’en inspired fears that Reid developed.

6. Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee and illustrated by Frank Newfeld is probably the only book of Canadian poetry poetry that I could name but it is a good one for all of my unfamiliarity with poetry.

7. In Flander’s Fields: The story of the poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield, a book that tells the story of the Dr John McCrae and the First World War as well as providing an illustrated version of the famous poem. The oil paintings that accompany the poem can be dark. Be ready to have an important discussion of the unglamorous side of war. It’s a good antidote to the fast-paced, shiny equipment in video games.

8. Red is Best by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Robin Baird Lewis is a book that we have in it’s miniature size for travelling and we have read it many, many, many times and I still love it. Reid prefers yellow with the same passion that Kelly has for red. I’m sure that they would agree that a particular colour of barrette can really make your hair happy.

9. Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman. This book tells two wonderful stories, first the story of the boy’s relationship with his grandfather and the grandfather’s ability to see the usefulness of increasingly smaller amounts of fabric and then in the further ingenuity of the mice whose under-the-floorboards story is told at the bottom of the page. It has an environmental theme of reusing materials which may make it trendy this year but the beautiful illustrations and the wonderful story will keep it on the top of the “read to me” pile. We have also enjoyed Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman, a book with an entirely different tone and tempo.

10. Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl McFarlane and illustrated by Ron Lightburn. I chose this book for its beautiful illustrations but was immediately drawn into the story as well. The cycle of life, the love of and for grandparents and nature are all described.

11. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, a book I haven’t read since grade 4 or 5 but I figure if I read it aloud, Reid would be ready for it in grade 2. That’s 4 years from now but as fast as the first 3 years have passed, it won’t be long before I’m opening the cover.

12. The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service and illustrate by Ted Harrison, another book we’ll have to wait a bit to read but it will be a fun one and provide an opportunity to discuss Canada’s north and the role it plays in our national identity, though not in those words, of course.

13. The Hockey Sweater by Rock Carrier and illustrated by Sheldon Cohen, a quintessentially Canadian story if ever there was one. It explores our passion – hockey, of course – the challenges of living in a bilingual country and the way that we celebrate winter.

And visit other Thursday Thirteen participants for a smorgasboard of ideas.

What books would you add to this list?

My kitty baby – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

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Just a few words: I put the chair onto the table to take photos of goodness knows what and when I turned my back, Leo jumped onto it and struck a wonderful pose.

Check out the Wordless Wednesday HQ
View More Wordless Wednesday Participants or look at my previous Wordless Wednesday entries.

National Child Day – Right to be Active

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

It’s National Child Day here in Canada and I have to admit that when I first read the announcement, I snorted and thought “isn’t it always?” When I visited the official National Child Day site, though, and read that this year’s theme is the Right to be Active, and that it marks the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, I realized that while it might seem to be National Child Day every day in my house, it certainly isn’t for all children in the world, nor even in Canada.

It being Tuesday, we will be taking Reid to her gymnastics class tonight where she’ll tumble and run and balance with a few other children in a safe, well-lit gym in her body suit and skirt that I bought just because she looks cute in them and not because she was cold or because they were in the box at a shelter where we were staying. Come Thursday, we’ll be in the pool and Reid will be learning to swim. When we’re done, I promise not to complain about putting clothes on my damp body because I am lucky that I can share the experience with my daughter. These activities that Reid takes part in are over and above the 2-plus hours she is outside playing at daycare (weather permitting).

I feel so fortunate that Reid is able to exercise her right to be active on a daily basis. I asked the Google how I could help other kids who aren’t so fortunate and came up with Right to Play, KidSport Ontario, KidSport BC and Power of Sports for Kids. Does anyone else know of other charities that focus on physical activities and sports equipment?

Solo swimming lesson? I’ll ask Reid

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

At the end of last week’s swimming lesson, the teacher said that Reid was ready for Preschool A, a class where the kids go with the teacher while the parents watch. I had already signed up for another session of Parent and Tots 3 but thought I’d leave the decision up to Reid. Well, at first, I’d said that we’d already signed up for the other and thought we’d stick with it for 6 more weeks but when yesterday was cold and grey and I was thinking of how I hate putting my work clothes back on after we’re done swimming and going out wet into the night, I reconsidered. When I got to daycare, I told Reid that M, her last teacher, had said she was good enough to go in the pool without me. Reid didn’t appear to be tempted or even flattered. I believe she said something like, “I don’t wanna” without hesitation. I made a pitch about Reid being big, like Melissa’s kids who swim with their teachers while Melissa watches. I also told Reid that it would be just like at gymnastics where she goes with the teacher while we watch. The added details didn’t persuade Reid. She asked why C, a little boy in gymnastics, has his mother accompany him, and I said that I thought he was a bit younger than Reid or maybe he just wanted his mama to be with him a little longer. I didn’t want Reid to feel shame about wanting me to go into the pool with her, as much as I didn’t want to go into the pool.

When we walked out of the change room, both of us in our swimsuits, Melissa grinned and noted that we would both be swimming. Yep, we did and I loved Reid’s warm little body snuggling close in the water, seeing her grin of pride upclose when she completes a task she is uncertain of, like jumping from the wall, and being in the water. I even survived pulling my work clothes back on.

When I sent this story out as an email, my soon-to-be nephew – the one who teaches swimming lessons – wrote to suggest that I ask if I could shadow Reid in the Preschool A class when she first starts it. A good idea, I thought, why didn’t I think to ask his opinion first?

Christmas gifts Reid won’t be getting from us

Monday, November 19th, 2007

I went shopping at Costco last weekend. With my iPod on and no small friend accompanying me, it’s an almost relaxing way to spend some time. I don’t understand why they have a better produce section than my local Loblaws but they do and so there I was. Of course, I couldn’t get to the produce without passing by the Christmas toys that have been out for weeks. Many were easy to pass by but there are a few  that Reid won’t be getting for Christmas from us that caused a little twinge of regret. Note I have a closet full of toys (slight exaggeration but only slight) that will provide Reid with Christmas presents, compliments of the Discovery Toys consultant starter kit that I bought when Reid was a newborn.

I spied:
* Little MD kit by Parents for  $12.99. Reid has a domed case from Discovery Toys that she uses for a doctor’s kit. It has no equipment in it but she improvises and imagines really well. Playing doctor is a favourite imagination game of Reid’s.
* Game table by Parker Brothers for $39.49 that has 4 classic games – chess, checkers, cribbage, poker dice – and either Monopoly and Clue or Monopoly and Sorry! All of the games come in a solid wood cabinet that is just a bit bigger than a normal-sized checker board and a few inches thick. All of the games fit inside the table, or that was the impression I had when looking at the box. Yes, I do know that Reid is too young for all of the games I just described, except maybe the poker dice since we could always play a matching or counting game with them. I am the lover of board games but a mother is allowed to project her dreams and desires, don’t you think?
* Bucket of Tinker Toys for $34.49. Imagine the fun we could have with this messy toy! I think this one might be more about me, too. Remember the train track I obsessed over last Christmas? I put the Tinker Toys in that mental category, too. I imagine that Ken, the one who does most of the housework, won’t mind me bypassing the multi-piece distraction.

We didn’t see these things but Reid still isn’t getting them, though she would love them, I’m sure:
* A hockey stick sized for a 3 foot-tall 3-year-old who seems to be right-handed and a puck to go with the stick. I don’t think Reid would have a preference between wood and composite, though I understand that wooden sticks are falling out of favour.
* Mini sticks and a mini puck. I don’t actually know if they make mini pucks or what is appropriate for use with mini sticks. There were no mini sticks in my childhood and they don’t seem to be at daycare, either. (I haven’t asked Ken about this matter, don’t think that he is less of a man for me not knowing ;+)
* A baby sister or brother. This one was suggested by a random, strange woman who brought her kid to trick or treat at our house at Halloween. She started innocenly enough, asking if Reid was my only child, but it went downhill when she asked Reid, “Do you want your mommy to give you a baby sister or brother?” Reid nodded, a bit reluctantly, as if *she* realized that the question shouldn’t have been asked. Thankfully, Reid hasn’t raised the issue again.

It’s never too early to think of the toys you won’t buying, eh?