Archive for December, 2007

The dreaded family Christmas letter

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Reading over my last post reinforced the opinion I developed when writing our family Christmas letter – for all I write in my blog, much seems to be left out. I think that the letter I eventually sent out does a much better job of telling the story of 2007 for our family. I’ll share it with you below.


I won’t start by saying that 2007 was another busy year, not that it wasn’t, but because it is becoming apparent that all our years will be busy ones.

Reid started out the year in a new class at daycare. She was proud to be in the Junior Preschool class in a different building from the babies and toddlers. The play area is larger and the program is structured more like junior kindergarten and Reid took to it like a duck to water. A good portion of January and the beginning of February were a write off as Ken and I both contracted pneumonia. As miserable as we felt, it was a relief that Reid remained healthy throughout. By the end of February, we were feeling better and managed to take in Winterlude activities and even got Reid on skates on the canal a couple times. I had to skate, too, which was an adventure in itself after a decade or so without putting on skates.

In March I attended a conference in San Diego and brought Reid along with me. We flew through Detroit and Aunt Karin joined us for the flight to San Diego and watched Reid while I was at the conference. Before the conference, though, we went to Legoland, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Tijuana and to the San Diego Zoo (many times). Karin and Reid took a harbour cruise and spent a day at the beach as well as exploring other parts of the city.

We got back to Ontario just in time to spend a couple of days with Ken before he flew to France. Ken had been involved in the identification of the First World War soldier who was reburied in April and so he was in France to provide information to members of the media. He also provided historical information to the soldiers who were part of the Vimy commemoration. Reid saw Ken on television while he was away and she was excited to see him. I wonder if she realizes that not all fathers appear on tv.

Ken and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in May. It’s hard to believe that a whole decade has passed! Reid would say that the highlight of her month was seeing Bob the Builder live at an Ottawa mall. It might have made a bigger impression if Reid watched the show on tv but the spectacle was impressive alone. We also took a trip to the Bowmanville Zoo, which is smaller than the zoo in San Diego, but met Reid’s need to see wild animals.

Reid and I took our first train trip together in June. I hadn’t been on a train since I was pregnant with Reid and had to recline my seat in order to put the tray down in front of my big belly. I am happy to report that we didn’t have that problem or any other as we travelled to and from Toronto. I was speaking at a conference and Karin was able to meet us to watch over Reid. Of course, we went a couple of days early so that we would have time to play tourists. We went to the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum and twice to the Toronto Zoo. Karin took Reid to Casa Loma as well, though Reid’s report of that day was more focused on the Band-Aid she got when she scraped her knee in the garden.

Reid turned three in July and seems to have left babyhood behind her. Ken also celebrated a milestone birthday but I’m not allowed to be more specific than that. Reid and I started a mom and me gymnastics class and Reid’s daredevil streak and love of balancing were put to good use. At Ken’s suggestion, I attended at conference for women bloggers in Chicago. Reid flew down with me and Karin and Shea drove to meet us. We were so impressed with Chicago! We were there 4 days but could have filled that many more. The highlight for Reid was a visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo – there is a theme to this year – and we topped it off with dinner at the Rainforest Cafe for a magical day all around. The Children’s Museum was a popular place, too, though Reid didn’t like the Shedd Aquarium as much as the Birch Aquarium.

Reid and I were riding the trains again in August, this time for a trip to the Dundas family reunion and then a week of camping at the Wheatley Provincial Park with Melissa, Dylan and Zachary. Reid was able to confirm that she much prefers uncooked marshmallows, no matter what I say, and the kids made a point of getting as dirty as possible each day. Reid, Ken and I went for a ride on Thomas the Tank Engine in August and Reid has since watched a few episodes of Thomas on television. She certainly wasn’t as star struck as some of the little boys we saw.

In September, though, Pam, Mom and I took Reid to see Toopy and Binoo at a local mall. Toopy and Binoo are on Reid’s favourite tv show and she was mesmerized from the moment that they appeared on the stage. It was a bit scary to see how enraptured she was but it was good to share in her excitement. Reid joined a gymnastics class on her own and also left me behind at Kindermusik. Three seems to be the age for abandoning your mother.

In October, we took Reid to Scotia Bank Place to skate on the ice where the Senators play and participate in some other activities at the arena as part of a United Way event. Reid had a blast, except for the picture session with one of the hockey players since she seems to have an aversion to men in red. As for me, I never realized how large NHL ice surfaces were until I was mid-way through a circuit hunched over while supporting Reid. Reid was an elephant for Halloween and enjoyed trick or treating. Over three excursions, she covered about 12 houses.

November was milder than usual and that worked out well for Reid and me as we were able to get the annuals pulled from the garden before the weather got too cold. Don’t ask about our vegetable patch, though. Reid took November to get used to the new daycare class that she had been moved into in late October. She developed a little bit of the swagger that high school seniors have as she is now in the Senior Preschool class, which makes her one of the big fish in the little pond. The dark evenings and a few work-related commitments for Ken and me, combined with the usual lessons, made the month fly by.

We began December with a trip to Wheatley to celebrate Christmas. Having done two trips over the Christmas/New Year’s week for more than a decade, we decided that we just couldn’t manage it any more. I think that Reid will enjoy Christmas and New Year’s days more if she travels for one and is at home for the other. If any of you are near Ottawa on January 1st (or any time of the year), please let us know and we’d be delighted to have you over.

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2008!

Happy birthday to Dave

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I don’t suppose it’s easy to have your birthday on a holiday. After you realize that the hoopla isn’t all about you, you must start to feel a bit overlooked. Well, this year in honour of Dave’s birthday, and possibly because it’s been 150 years since Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the capital of what would become Canada, we’ll have fireworks over the Ottawa river at 18:57.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, what has Dave done to deserve fireworks on his birthday and I’ll tell you:

* Dave married into our family, certainly no task for the weak-hearted.
* Dave was a gracious host when his new wife’s kid sister wanted to hang around his apartment, even when the aforementioned kid sister followed them to Halifax to stay for weeks at a time.
* Dave came through on his part of a bet that saw the eating of half of a pineapple-cream cheese cake go against a trip to the movies. And he probably would have held my head when I threw up after eating the half-cake, as I thought I would.
* Dave has decorated some pretty amazing birthday cakes in his time. A Care Bear cake when I was 12 or 13 stands out in my memory, as does the “gag” decoration that ever-so-accurately resembled dog droppings.
* Dave provided some good advice for some teenage angst that I experienced. Not mushy or sappy but practical and much needed.
* Dave got me home and safely settled one night when I’d had entirely too much to drink. He didn’t make me feel stupid then – foolish, yes, but not stupid – and has poked only a bit of fun occasionally.
* Now that the pesty little sister mentioned above is a grown woman, Dave is gracious – if sometimes chippy – when his wife spends time with her niece and sister when they come for visits or when his wife makes a trip to see her sister and niece.
* Dave is a welcome bit of peace in the noise and confusion of life at Grandma Joyce’s. Reid likes to snuggle up beside him on the couch and sit quietly, to just “be”. They’ll watch tv and be together and Reid relaxes.

Happy birthday, Dave. You’re a good brother-in-law and I’m sure Reid would say you’re a good uncle, too.

The year that was … at least according to my blog

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

DaniGirl over at Postcards from the Mothership posted a summary of her year based on the first line of the first* post for each month. Being a committed environmentalist, I know the value of reusing things and I think good ideas must fit into that, right?

1. Reid was in a contrary mood tonight.
2. It was a morning for repetition.
3. Reid and I went to the library after Kindermusik this morning.
4. I pulled Reid from her bed, where she was sleeping quite happily, thank you very much and carried her to the bathroom as she cried and asked to sleep some more.
5. At 6:50 last night, as Amanda, Ken and I were finishing our desserts, Reid went upstairs.
6. The latest tool in Reid’s linguistic toolbox is “actually” and she is using it a lot lately.
7. There is an advertising campaign for a distress line currently running on the buses here in Ottawa that says something to the effect, “Think of the most personal thing about yourself that you’ve never told to anyone. Now turn to the person next to you and tell them.” 
8. We went to gymnastics class again last night. 
9. Since our hot air balloon watching picnic on Friday night didn’t include watching any hot air balloons, Reid and I went hunting for balloons on Saturday morning. 
10. Have you read that women speak an average of so many words each day, while men speak many fewer?  
11. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo.
12. Reid has been interested lately in where things come from, who made them and who bought them.

I’m not sure how to summarize the statements above. We read many books, had lots of adventures and talked and talked and talked.

*The first 6 or so months of the year I took note of all of the books that we read to Reid in a given day. I swapped out a couple of those post’s first lines for the first substantive post of the month. Now I have to stop typing and go start a book blog (let’s call it Reading to Reid). Recording what we read made me more conscious of our choices, Reid’s reaction to what we were reading and also prompted me to find the time to read on busy days since I didn’t want to admit that we hadn’t managed the 3 book minimum that I’d set.

Christmas quotes, part 1

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

At Grandpa Keith’s on Boxing Day, Granny Rhonda asks Reid what she had asked Santa for. Reid answers, “Thomaspaintbookwithbrush but I didn’t get it.” I translate, “She asked for a Thomas the Tank Engine paint book, like a colouring book, that has paints and a paintbrush on the cover.” And then I say to Reid, “Remember how you stopped opening presents yesterday before all of the presents were open? Well, there is another one for you from Santa.” I had been holding it back because I thought she’d insist of painting as soon as it was open. She did, by the way.

“F” is for Fursday

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

On Friday we were working on Reid’s calendar. They have one at daycare as well and so it surprises me that Reid has trouble with the month but since we’ve been spotty in doing the one at home, I can’t say anything. When we discuss the days of the week, Reid likes to start by saying her favourite day (I think that it is Tuesday this week) even though she usually knows what day it is, thanks to our waking up song. We then have to provide the answers to “Yesterday was …” and “Tomorrow is …”

I was hinting for Reid to guess the day and told her it started with “f”. When she didn’t immediately say “Friday”, I said “fffff” and Reid thought a bit and then said triumphantly, “Fursday”. Well, since Reid has trouble with the “th” digraph she did a good job matching the two sounds. Once I was done laughing (silently, in a way to protect Reid’s dignity), I tried to clarify the “th”sound of Thursday and spelled out all of the letters in Friday and then supplied the word.

A scribble is to drawing

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I was listening to the MomTalk Radio podcast recently and the host was interviewing one of the authors of Celebrate the Scribble and the author made a comment that I wanted to share, “Scribbles are to drawing what babbling is to talking.” She went on to discuss how just making a mark on a paper is an accomplishment for childre when they’re very small and then the increasing control they develop allows them to better represent their world. She didn’t mention how sometimes kids don’t know what they’re drawing until they see the picture and so that might be peculiar to Reid when she was a toddler.

I know I’m kind of excited to see that the people and things in Reid’s drawings are increasingly identifiable without her interpretation. Not that I have made the mistake of attempting to comment on the specifics of what it is that Reid has drawn. I talk about the colour or the care she has taken in creating it but I wait for her to say what the subject is. Still, the people she draws have heads, bodies and legs and  their faces have eyes and smiles on the them. Reid draws cats with bodies and heads, triangle ears and 4 legs. The one time she got carried away and drew a fifth leg for her cat, Reid was quick to make the last one fuzzy and call it a tail.

In the end, I’m hoping that Reid inherits Ken’s artistic skills. He can draw well and has the patience for detail and beauty. I have enthusiasm for crafting but not talent for art. A blend of the two will serve Reid well.

What is your waking up song?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

The other day when I was waking Reid up I sang,

Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning, Reid Elizabeth,
Good morning to you.

I usually follow up with a verse of “What day is this?” and then “It’s Tuesday today” (or whatever the appropriate day). And usually, despite my awful singing voice, Reid grins when I sing – helped a bit by me tickling her.

On this particular day, though, Reid stopped me and so I switched to “How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning“. Ot at least I tried but it turns out I know only the first line of the song. I’m going to have to commit the first verse to my memory:

Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning,
Oh! How I’d love to remain in bed
For the hardest blow of all is to hear the bugler call:
‘You’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up,
You’ve got to get up this morning!’

Reid liked the latter song and started to sing the “Oh, how I hate to wake up” line all by herself with enthusiasm. More enthusiasm than you would expect from someone professing to hate to wake up. Reid generally has no problem waking up, provided that she can have some milkies and wake up slowly.

How about you, what is your waking up song?

Santa Elizabeth – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Remember how Reid wanted to be Santa for Christmas? Grandma Joyce came through.


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

Do you know the Christmas song about dying?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

On the way to daycare on Wednesday, I was asking Reid about the holiday concert. She didn’t have an answer to my question, “What song will you be singing?” I asked if she had learned any new songs. No. Had she been practicing any songs? No, again. I let it drop and a short while later Reid asked me if *I* knew the song. I told her that I would ask the teacher. Reid paused again and then asked if I knew the song where people die and kids die. I had to admit that I don’t know any carols with people dying in them but I said I would *definitely* ask the teacher about it.

Reid sat down at the snack table as soon as she had her outdoor gear off, despite the large serving of chicken noodle soup Ken had made for breakfast. (Pardon the digression, but isn’t he a sweet man to cook soup for Reid when she doesn’t want cereal?) With Reid busy, I had the opportunity to ask about the Christmas song. The teacher I spoke with wasn’t sure what song they’d been singing and was shocked by my prompt that is was about people and kids dying. She was sure that no one had sung such a song. I grinned and said that I suspected that Santa Claus is Coming to Town has been on playlist.

Really, you should only believe about half of what your kids tell you about their school day and hope the teachers do the same about your home life.

And if you’ve a hankering for the words to Santa Claus is Coming to Town, by J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie (c) 1934

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
Better not pout,
I’m telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He’s making a list,
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you’re sleeping.
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good.
So be good for goodness sake!

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry,
Better not pout,
I’m telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
Santa Claus is coming to town.

A gift that warms your heart … and theirs

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

I’m not sure when World Vision (US link) started producing a Christmas Gift Catalogue (US link) or how we got onto their mailing list but I do know that I think that it is a fabulous idea.  The arrival of  the catalogue is reminder that the season of giving is upon us and reminds that we should be thinking of giving to others more than what we want others to give to us. I admire the way that they have developed their giving program to make it easily understood by children. What kid doesn’t want to give – or receive – a rooster and two hens or a piglet? It’s easy to explain that some families need help to get the food that they need and that, by giving these animals, we are helping them to take care of themselves.

Reid and I were at a craft show today and bought a few trinkets to represent the animals that we are donating. The purchases had a number of benefits:

* The artisans received money for their work;
* Reid and I had a conversation about giving to others; and
* The people who receive these small tokens might think of World Vision when they next need a present.

Making a donation to World Vision (Canadian link) is simple. The catalogue comes in the mail and it, of course, has a form that you can fill in or you can call 1-866-595-5550. And then there is a well-designed Web site from which one can select a gift based on cost, theme (agriculture, health care, etc.) and those that multiply. The checkout process is simple and you have a number of choices for notifying the gift recipient. If you’re ordering early, you could have a printed card sent. If you’re not so prompt, you can print your own card insert or send an e-card.

World Vision Canada also suggests:

* Send out a group email to members of your extended family who normally exchange gifts.  
* When someone asks you what you want for a special holiday gift, ask for something  from the World Vision gift catalogue.
* When you give an alternative gift, consider including something personal and meaningful to the recipient. 
* Consider buying a small fair-trade item like handcrafted jewellery or organic coffee to go along with your alternative gift choice.

Finally, World Vision has a program set up to foster group giving, with an interactive dvd, posters and other resources as well.

We have used World Vision for gifts for other occasions as well. Reid’s daycare teachers were delighted when we donated to educate a girl in China as a thank you when Reid entered a new class. A teacher might also appreciate a backpack with school supplies for a needy child in Canada more than an apple-themed gift at end of the school year, as well as at Christmas.

This topic is a popular one at this time of year. You can read more at Babylune , where people are writing about their favourite charity, and the League of Maternal Justice, where people have been invited to write about how to involve kids in their charitable acts.