Archive for February, 2008

When Ken has to be me on the weekend

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I went to bed last Friday night feeling a bit dizzy (dizzier than usual, my husband would say ;+) but not too worried. By Saturday morning, the labrynthitis that I’ve been experiencing off and on since Reid was small was back with a vengeance. Reid, Ken and I hunted for the medication I’d been prescribed the second time I’d had trouble. I knew it was in my green belly bag but the bag wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Not only could I not find my prescription medication but I had to deal with the guilt of losing track of medication with a child in the house.

Ken had spent some time trying to remember where he’d last seen the green bag while I searched through likely places. Ken got up, went downstairs for just a moment and then returned with my bag. He works smarter, not harder, my husband.

After the medication had time to take effect, I felt bit woozy but well enough to take Reid to Kindermusik. Ken had hurried through his morning ritual and was ready to step into the breach. It was good, in retrospect, that he had the time to work while we were away for Kindermusik and lunch and also through naptime because Sunday turned out to be a bit of a write-off. Normally, Ken is all ours on the weekend but he had a killer deadline on a work project.

The vertigo I was experiencing was even worse of Sunday. Ken bathed Reid and she didn’t cry when he washed her hair, she seems to save the tears for when I’m doing it although I don’t believe I’m rough when it’s my turn. Ken took Reid off to get her picture taken at Loblaws. She delivered some pretty smiles and also a silly grin with her tongue sticking out. I may have to send him with her again. (Just kidding, Ken.) I managed to watch Reid for an hour while Ken got some work done before he had to take her to a birthday party.

Not just any birthday party but one for a girl turning 4, who chose the local indoor wave pool. One where the parents should be in the pool with their kids but weren’t always. Party rooms are echo-y places, small children move so quickly that they seem to multiply and the excitement of the party makes them loud. I was sad to have missed it. No, really.

During the swimming portion of the party, Reid spent much of her time playing with L, her best friend from daycare, but also with other daycare friends. In fact, Ken was in charge of 1 or more extra little girls for most of the afternoon as some parents, who have different opinion on such things and I try to respect these difference, had just dropped their kids off at the party. If I ruled the world of kids’ parties, I would require that children under 6 wear lifejackets when they were in the pool area at a party without their parent and it would still be recommended if their parent were there. Even Ken was knocked off balance by a wave at one point, fortunately when Reid was wearing a life jacket and he had only her to watch. There are many life guards around the pool but it’s just not a chance worth taking. Not that I’m saying that I would let Reid have a swimming party until after she was 6…

Are you wondering what it would be like if I were Ken for the weekend? I’d be cleaning the house, doing the laundry (the very idea would make Reid laugh) and maybe fixing something around the house, in addition to his daily tasks of clearing up after meals, cleaning litterboxes, etc. Ken keeps us out of total chaos, despite Reid’s and my efforts to the contrary.

Have a great weekend. I’m hoping for one filled with health and no dizziness.

Help frogs leap this Leap Year

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I heard an interview on CBC radio this morning with a fellow who was explaining that 20-50% of the species of frogs in the world are threatened and 120 species have become extinct in recent years. International conservation organizations are taking advantage of the leap in “leap year” to publicize the plight of the frogs and have declared 2008 to be the Year of the Frog. Frog are threatened by habitat destruction, air and water pollution – aren’t they lucky that they live in both environments and so are threatened by both – and an epidemic caused by a fungus. I have so many memories of listening for frogs when camping, looking for them in the ditches near home and wishing I had the courage to touch one. I never did. I still want to and, most of all, I want Reid to have the same experiences listening and searching for frogs. She is much braver than I. I am quite sure she wouldn’t hesitate to reach out and touch one. (I hope that human touching doesn’t exacerbate the trouble frogs are in already.)

The global conservation community has responded with an action plan, including the creation of the Amphibian Ark, “in which select species that would otherwise go extinct will be maintained in captivity until they can be secured in the wild. Without immediate captive management as a stopgap component of an integrated conservation effort, hundreds of species could become extinct.”

 The Amphibian Ark offers 10 reasons to become involved. Here are the 3 that meant the most to me:

  • Amphibian species are becoming extinct at a pace faster that anything we have experienced.
  • Amphibians are indicators of environmental health, important components of ecosystems.
  • Amphibians are contributors to human health they provide vital biomedicines, including compounds that are being refined for analgesics and antibiotics.

Julie Séguin, director of conservation at the Granby Zoo near Montreal, offered another reason in an interview, “If you want one less mosquito at your summer picnic, frogs are important because their diet of insects is just one way they help humans.”

 A few of the other reasons offered by the Amphibian Ark are specific to zoos and aquariums because they are a target of the campaign, as well as the general public. Sometimes zoos and aquariums are criticized by people who are opposed to holding animals in captivity but the Amphibian Ark argues that amphibians are suitable for captive breeding programs and if every zoo in the world rescues one species, the goal can be achieved. That’s a powerful argument for supporting a zoo or aquarium with a visit this year, I think.

 Happy Leap Year, everyone! Visit the Amphibian Ark and make a donation or visit a zoo or aquarium this year.

Winterlude tales from the snow – the first weekend

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

We got 30 centimetres (about 12 inches) of snow on the first Friday of Winterlude (February 1st) and I, for one, was glad to see it. I firmly believe that if it is going to be winter, it might as well be cold and snowy. I’m tired of hearing the people on the radio and tv talk about how great it will be if the temperatures rise above freezing. I sometimes often have to explain to them that we need freezing conditions for the Rideau Canal to be a skateway and to slide down the hills in the Snowflake Kingdom at Jacques Cartier Park. Reid doesn’t really understand why I talk to the radio but that is a story for another day.

On Saturday, February 2nd, Reid and I went out for breakfast and then drove the Museum of Civilization to park. Now maybe they don’t intend for me to use my membership card to get a parking discount when I’m walking through on my way elsewhere but I have paid the membership fee and I am cheap and so I do. I was especially glad that I did on Sunday because we came upon some men setting up a doglsed with some beautiful huskies waiting impatiently to get into the harnesses. The Canadian Postal Museum was running a special activity. I remain impressed by the programming at the Postal Museum. Reid and I waited while they got the dogs into their harnesses and then they went around in a loop. Those poor dogs wanted to run like the wind, not just in a loop but they took what they were offered for the benefit of the bystanders.

Reid declared herself too tired to walk as soon as I set her sled on the ground. Since I haven’t pulled her anywhere yet this winter, I didn’t mind. We got to the Snowflake Kingdom, sponsored by Sun Life, about 9:30 and headed straight for the small, family ice slides.  After a couple of trips down and a chance to sit in the giant, yellow Muskoka chair, we headed off in search of the inner tubes and the snow hill. We soon came upon crowds of bigger kids climbing a bigger hill and we joined the queue. As we got to the head of the line, though, it became apparent that we were at the big ice slides. Fortunately for us there were still family slides, as well as the individual ones, and we went down. Reid was wondering where the inner tubes were and why I led her astray. I didn’t spend too much time explaining that I had followed the crowd – it isn’t the sort of thing one likes to admit to her daughter.

On the hunt for inner tubes once again, we found a maze made of blocks of snow. Well, calling it a maze is somewhat flattering since there were few “wrong” turns and the number of people going through created more of a snow conga line than a maze. Reid enjoyed it though and maybe we’ll tackle the corn field mazes at Saunder’s Farm this summer or fall, but only if Ken or someone else is with us since my sense of direction is weak enough when I have an unobstructed view. Next to the snow maze were the food huts and Reid was, of course, hungry. We ate surprisingly good hotdogs and shared a bottle of water as we walked through the Village of Days Gone By. Reid was interested in the woman who was telling us about the water drum she had brought with her, as well as the miniature long house, cradle board and mortar and pestle for grinding corn. I was impressed with the various kinds of fur and skins in the tipi and being worn by those portraying Native Canadians about 1500.

We finally made it to the inner tube slide – you were wondering if we ever would, I bet – and joined the proper line. The line was longer than the others we had stood in but moved much more quickly, too. At the front, we could see that there were 5 or 6 lanes for sliding down and there were figure 8 tubes that fit the two of us comfortably with room to spare. The trip down was smoother than on the ice slides, thanks to both the tubes and the packed snow. I enjoyed it also for not having to worry about smacking my head since I hadn’t brought our helmets. Once at the bottom I got out to pull the sled back to the top but Reid took advantage of her small size and cuteness to cadge a ride on the up hill trip. I’m pretty sure that it was easier to pull her than to help her climb the slope. I insisted on a trip to the portable toilets before we rejoined the line. What a trial! Reid wears overall-style snow pants and so I had to strip off her coat and snow pants before I could get to her jeans and the rest. It required me to be a bit of contortionist in the small space and once the fact that the portable toilets were angled forward was added in, I was laughing as I put Reid back together. Reid tried to snuggle into her sled as we waited in line, not easy in the molded, purple plastic model that we own, but I don’t think she was seriously trying to sleep.

We saw L. from daycare while in line the second time and then when they headed back toward the ice slides, we went that way, too. Okay, maybe we stalked them but who’s to know. Reid went down a mini ice slide all by herself a couple of times and then we saw a dragon dancing – one of those that you see at lunar new year celebrations – and so we watched it for a while. When we lost track of L. and her family, we decided on a second hotdog and one more slide down the inner tube track. Reid ate her ‘dog while we stood in line but by the time we had got past the barrier that kept us to a single file, she had fallen asleep. Not snuggled onto her side asleep but head lolled back at an uncomfortable angle with a hotdog drooping from her mittened hands. A few people pointed out that Reid was asleep, mostly with an indulgent smile, but I couldn’t get out of line until we made it to the front. I tried to rouse Reid to ask if she wanted to go down the slide but she said that she wanted to sleep and then closed her eyes again. A woman who had bypassed us as I got Reid more comfortably situated was grumpy when I asked to go in front of her to get to the exit but let us pass and we were on our way back to the car. I was able to pull her most of the way but I had to have Reid walk through the museum on the way to the car. How sad a tired-wishing-she-was-asleep child is when forced to walk.

By the time I got Reid out of her outdoor clothes – she can’t wear them in her car seat, it’s not safe – Reid was starting to rouse. I shushed her a bit and then was quiet, thinking that she would go back to sleep. Wrong! Reid had lots of information to share with Ken when we got home but no interest in completing her nap.

I posted some pictures of our day at the Snowflake Kingdom awhile ago.

On Sunday, Ken, Reid and I headed out to the Rideau Canal Skateway to try out Reid’s Wee Play Early Skater Learning Aid – a sort of triangular steel frame that helps her to stand up unassisted. By the time we got our skates on, sitting on the bench on the ice, my feet were cold. Reid took about 6 steps with her skating frame before she sweet-talked Ken into carrying her. We talked her into trying again and Reid got some skating in before we headed over to buy a Beavertail and some taffy on snow. I managed to not fall until I was nearly to the front of the line for my Beavertail and then not again. I was pretty proud of myself – not that Reid and Ken haven’t seen me fall while skating before.

I posted some pictures of our skating excursion a couple of weeks ago.

Better here – or here? What about here? Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Reid in many faces

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Scammed by Pixman or just twice unlucky?

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Update: The folks at Pixman noticed this post and have sent me my photos. I’d say watch out for them at special events and ask them to take your pic. 

A couple of weekends ago at Winterlude, I was delighted when a guy with a digital camera in his hands and a computer screen over his head offered to take a picture of Reid and me on Saturday, February 16th. I had taken some good pictures of Reid but it’s hard to get both of us in a shot that has any context at all. When the guy from Pixman walked up and offered to take our picture and email it, I accepted immediately. We offered some charming smiles, at least as I remember them, and he took our picture and then asked for my email address. I provided it and wandered off thinking how I’d write about the encounter and recommend that everyone be on the lookout for the Pixman people at major events. I was quite impressed with the National Capital Commission for bringing them to Winterlude.

On Sunday the 17th, as we walked through the Casino du Lac-Leamy Crystal Garden to see the ice sculptures, I saw another Pixman fellow and walked Ken and Reid over to get a picture of the three of us. If a picture of Reid and me is unusual, a pictuer of Ken, Reid AND me is rare. We smiled nicely, I’m sure of it though I have no proof, and then I gave the man my email address. Both Ken and I verified it on the big screen over the man’s head.

Two weeks later, we haven’t received any photos by email. At first we thought maybe they’re busy or maybe they wait until the end of Winterlude. Okay, that last bit seems silly since sending the pictures would allow them to reuse the memory cards or whatever but it’s not nice to think you’ve been duped. Maybe Pixman really was intending to send me pictures rather than just harvest my email address but two weeks on, I’m having my doubts.

Did anyone attend Winterlude and have your picture taken by a Pixman person? Did you get your pictures sent to you? Here’s a photo of the Pixman fellow who took our picture, if you’re wondering who to watch out for.

Pixman event photographer at Winterlude

Favourite sleep toys

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

On the way from daycare last night, Reid and Ken were discussing favourite sleep toys.
Reid: CareB is my favourite sleep toy. Duckie is you favourite sleep toy, Daddy?
Ken: Mama is my favourite sleep toy.
Reid: But she sleeps with *me*.
Ken: I know.
Reid: She has eee-eees. And she sleeps with me loooong times and she don’t wake up. (Reid doesn’t know the technical name of happiness/well-being effects of the hormones that are released when I nurse her but they clear work in her favour.)
Ken, muttering a bit now: I like her eee-ees, too, you know.
Reid, oblivious because she is sure she has won this battle without even trying: You have Duckie.

Suggested Reading by Dylan

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

My niece, Melissa, sent along the following and it semed like the perfect “guest post”. To help with the reading, Melissa’s dad and Dar are Uncle Chris and Aunt Dar when I am writing:

Dylan slept over the other night at my dad & Dar’s and the following night he proceeded to tell me some bedtime stories.  I called my sister after he had fallen asleep to ask her about the stories he told and she said that they were books that she and my dad had read to him the night before.  He really likes them and was able to nearly recite them to me a full 24 hours later.  So, I thought that I’d let all you parents and grandparents know the titles of the books in case you happen to be looking to pick up some books for your (grand)children whether it be at a store or the library.
Happy Reading!!
Drat that Fat Cat by Pat Thomson
A tale of a cat that can’t seem to get enough to eat until he swallows a bee.  VERY CUTE!
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
About a mouse who’s name is Chrysanthemum and LOVES her name until she starts school and the story unfolds from there….another cute one.

Happy Birthday, Melissa

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

A long time ago in a place far, far away (at least far away from Ottawa), a girl was born on this day. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some stories in her honour.

* Melissa’s birth made me an aunt when I was 6. How cool is that?
* Melissa is the original “pig sister” and I love her turned up nose. She is just so cute!
* I’m told that Melissa knew how to read before she started school. I have no memory of this but I think she is pretty smart now. She still knows how to read, I can vouch for that.
* When Melissa started grade one at the same school where I was in grade eight, it was hard to be cool with a little kid yelling, “Aunt Barbara” at recess. I’m glad that some part of me knew that being cool was less important than my relationship with Melissa.
* When Melissa was a tween, I offered her an “out” from calling me “aunt” in an attempt to make her feel grown up. She thought it meant I was embarassed by her. Au contraire. I continue to be proud that she calls me “Aunt Barbara”.
* Melissa could always be counted on for an eye roll or protest whenever any of the other kids would leave her house to go to “The Farm”. By walking across the lane to Grandma Joyce’s house.
* Melissa was my maid of honour and I was glad to have someone beside me on my wedding day who had been with me through childhood and who will be with me as we are old women.
* At one point in her teens, Melissa said something wise to me. She said that when our lives were similar, we’d be close and at other times we might be less so and we’d just have to wait for a bit. She was right. The 6 years between us have made more or less of a difference over time.
* To be sure we’d have lots in common for a long time. Melissa and I had babies on the same day. Actually, Melissa had no idea that we were trying for a baby when she was. She called to tell me that she was having a baby and I was excited for her but didn’t spill my news. It seemed too much like I was trying to counter her good news with some of my own. I’m glad we have a boy and a girl so that they can be friends without (much) comparison.
* Melissa made a beautiful quilt for Reid before she was born. The parcel arrived for Baby X from Baby Y just days before Reid was born. It was lovely timing that it arrived in the last days of my pregnancy.
* Ken likes to tell me that being a “Great Aunt” is the same as being a “Grandparent”. I haven’t conceded the point but I don’t blame Melissa for making me an almost-grandparent at such a young age.
* Melissa is working to change her work so that she can stay home with her boys. Being a smart person, she has managed to tie work in with her quilting. It takes nerve to change. Melissa has nerve. Errm, I mean that she is brave. ;+)

Happy birthday, Melissa.

Junkyard Symphony at Winterlude – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Junkyard Symphony at Winterlude

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Our mamas

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

I’ve written before about how Reid is interested in the relationships between people and this weekend we discovered another aspect of this interest. Aunt Karin, who was called “Mama’s sister” about this time last year, told Reid that they needed to go upstairs where Grandma Joyce and Mama were waiting. Reid said, “We have to go upstairs because our mamas are waiting?” Aunt Karin agreed that their mamas were, indeed, waiting. A couple of other times Reid talked with Aunt Karin about their mamas. Reid liked having daughterhood in common with Aunt Karin. I’m not sure what I think about being lumped with my 67 year old mother. Not that I’m not glad to share the experience of motherhood with her but I’m just not that old. ;+)