Archive for March, 2008

Sweet goodnight

Monday, March 31st, 2008

One night recently, as Reid gave Ken a goodnight kiss and hug, she squeezed him a bit extra at the end and told him, “We love each other A LOT. We play together…” As Reid’s voice trailed off you could hear the love and joy at the memory. It was one of the moments that you try to fix in your memory. Since my memory is shakey, I’m writing it down.

Earth Hour – Report from our part of Ottawa

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I wrote on Friday about that we would be stargazing during Earth Hour. Ken looked at me questioningly when I suggested it but I, in my rose-coloured glasses, dismissed his concerns about light pollution. It was going to be dark for Earth Hour, after all. Well, I was wrong. There is a SilverCity cinema at the end of our street and as far as I can tell they didn’t turn off so much as a 60 watt bulb. Had they reduced their external lighting, they would have changed ourn neighbourhood substantially But, of course, they didn’t.

Reading by candlelight for Earth HourWe lit a bee’s wax candle instead and read some stories. We talked about not using electricity and how people used to rely on candles for light. I don’t know what Reid made of it. I just read a post at Journeys in Between that suggested using the story of Noah and the Ark to draw  a parallel of how taking action on climate change helps save animals, too. I think that Reid would understand helping animals better than the abstract “helping the earth”.

Bloggers Act: Canada wrote about Earth Hour and the Nelly Furtado concert in Toronto. I wish there had been a “gathering” in Ottawa. It would have been good to have a reason to be downtown where, I think, the difference in light level would have been much more obvious. Next year, I will have to look for an event or make one of my own.

On the road from Ottawa

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

We stopped at the “fancy” McDonalds in Milton on our way to Wheatley to celebrate Easter. I’d planned to stop at Milton but I’d not planned on coming from the direction we did but after having been in the wrong lane when the 401 came up while we were on the 407, I was proud at having got us there at all. The McDonalds’ earned its “fancy” designation by having its trademark “M” at the top of one of those very tall poles. Do they still call them the “golden arches”? It made me think of travelling on the interstate highways on the way to see Aunt Edith and her family. Reid liked it and decided to forego a hotdog at Harvey’s in favour of the fanciness. I was glad of her decision since the McDonalds had a playland and I wanted Reid to blow off some steam before we got back on the highway.

Before we left the food counter, I’d spilled my milk shake and I wondered if that was a bad omen. Our fries were cold and undercooked but the burgers were good and Reid would never complain about a meal that involved a milk shake. I noticed the fellow who put the high chair back in its corral didn’t wipe the tray when he put it back on. I’ve always suspected that they didn’t wipe the trays but I wish it wasn’t confirmed.

Reid spent a long time on the play structure. At one point, as Reid started climbing, she turned to me and said, “See you when I see you.” The lady next to me on the parents’ bench turned to me and grinned. I just said, “Okay.” For a while when Reid said good night to Ken,  she would add, “See you next week.” I’m not sure where she got that from but I have to say that “See you when I see you,” makes more sense wherever it comes from. Reid has been hesitant to play by herself whenever we’ve gone to the play place at McDonalds in Ottawa. (We’ve only ever gone a very few times.) On Thursday night, though, Reid made friends with various little kids as they came and went. She even helped a little girl who banged her arm or something to climb down. It reminded me of when we were at the zoo in Chicago and that little girl helped Reid get out of the climbing structure. I was so proud of her for noticing another child’s distress and working to resolve the problem. While Reid played, I charged my laptop. The only outlet I could see in the whole restaurant was in the play place. I guess they vacuum the floor in there. I was prepared for Reid to want to watch another a couple of shows but she settled into her seat with her blanket around her head.

Reid wasn’t going to go to sleep, she told me, because she was a kinkajou and they don’t sleep at night. After a bit she suggested that I could be the blue butterfly (from a Dora episode). In fact, Reid suggested, I could sleep and she would stay awake. That’s not the best strategy for us when we’re driving, though. She decided eventually that she would be the kinkajou once we got to Grandma Joyce’s. I agreed that would be okay, never thinking that she’d be awake. Reid went to sleep fairly soon after we were back on the highway and I drove and listened to my book on cd. I had to be careful in selecting what to listen to since some of the books have characters who say words that I’d just as soon Reid not use.

We got to Grandma Joyce’s about 11:00, ten and a half hours after we left Ottawa. We had stopped for drinks on the Toronto side of Kingston and then for gas at Pickering. Both stops were relatively quick – getting Reid out of her car seat and into the bathroom and back takes about 20 minutes minimum – but we were at the McDonalds for an hour and a half. My bum was numb and my left knee was sore when we arrived but my back was fine. I’m thinking more and more about after- market cruise control. (Ken, this last sentence was written especially for you.)

Reid woke when we pulled into Grandma Joyce’s garage and went to Aunt Karin for a pie-dough scented hug. I thought that it worked out well that Reid was willing to cuddle someone other than me so that I could use the bathroom and change into my pajamas. 20 minutes later, Reid still wanted Aunt Karin and I wanted to sleep. Aunt Karin offered to take Reid for a stroller ride to get her back to sleep while I stayed in bed. Reid and Aunt Karin went to Uncle Roger and Auntie M’s yellow house. Aunt Karin hid while Reid rang the bell. Auntie M didn’t appear at all surprised to find Reid on her door step and just said “hello” and invited her in. Aunt Karin went in, too. Uncle Roger had been in bed but got up for the visit. Reid was greatly amused by the anti-snore strip on Uncle Roger’s nose. She visited with them for awhile and then Aunt Karin took Reid back to Grandma Joyce’s. Reid called to talk to Uncle Dave and he told her that she needed to go to sleep but she told him that she just wasn’t tired. Aunt Karin read to Reid until she heard herself talking silly as she fell asleep in mid sentence, Aunt Karin told Reid it was definitely bedtime. Reid still said that she wasn’t tired but Aunt Karin was. It was 1:00 am. Reid was still protesting, but not in a whiny way, as Aunt Karin dropped her into bed with me. I last saw the clock at 1:44 as Reid was still wiggling about. At 6:30 that morning, Reid woke and said she wanted to go see Grandma Joyce. *I* was tired but then I hadn’t had the benefit of the 3-hours sleep in the car and I agree with the maxim “An hour before midnight is better than 2 after.”

Thinking about Earth Hour in Ottawa and around the world

Friday, March 28th, 2008

First, the facts and then my thoughts:

Earth Hour
March 29, 2008
8-9 pm, local time

Earth Hour is a global initiative that was first held in Sydney, Australia by the World Wildlife Fund and the Sydney Morning Herald. The goal was to demonstrate how simple it was to reduce emissions and the associated impact on climate change.

I first read about Earth Hour about a month ago when the City of Ottawa decided to participate. There was some controversy over whether the federal buildings, especially on Parliament Hill, would participate. I haven’t seen anything one way on the other on that. I noticed on the part of the site that lists Canadian business supporters of Earth Hour 2008 that a couple regional offices of Public Works and Government Services have signed up, as has the Canadian Museum of Nature. Three of the Ontario government ministries have also signed up: Public Infrastructure Renewal, Community Support and Correctional Services, Energy. Interestingly enough, the Minister of the Environment is not listed among the participants. There are many businesses involved in the environmental field, including A Mother’s Touch Diapers and PickupPal, a ride-sharing site. I was a bit surprised to see the Weston Hotel is offering an Earth Hour special, including a presentation by the executive chef on cooking without gas or electricity and a donation of $15 per room to the World Wildlife Fund – Canada. The Minto Hospitality Group of Ottawa hotels is also participating by dimming common area lights to a minimum standard and extinguishing exterior lighting at three of their hotels (2 in Ottawa). They’ll also ask guests to participate by turning off room lights. Brookstreet, another Ottawa hotel, will be turning off non-essential lighting and dimming essential lighting where possible as well as shutting down escalator and reducing elevator service. They’ll ask guests to participate and will be offering “Canapés by Candlelight” in one of their bars.

I proposed stargazing to Ken as an activity for our hour of darkness Saturday night. It seems that this is the most popular idea of people talking about Earth Hour online. Many are also planning to play cards or board games by candlelight. One woman on the Hamilton Spectator’s site volunteered that she is planning on romance with her boyfriend from 8-9. I never would have volunteered that sort of info but she did and so I told you.

Approximately 500 Ontario schools will be observing Earth Hour today. I suspect that there will be a good “trickle down” effect when the children are all at home tomorrow night. The schools are celebrating a day early because of March 28th being a Saturday but it is a fortuitous adjustment. I didn’t hear talk of Reid’s daycare observing Earth Hour but I know they turn off the lights from 12:30 to 2:30 each day for naptime.

We’ll be celebrating somehow at our house – though 8-9 pm generally finds us with most of the lights out anyway – and we’ll be embracing the darkness as much as thinking about the climate change, I expect.


Update: I see that the Peace Tower’s face will go dark and other non-essential lights on Parliament Hill be turned off.

Hopping, hopping, never stopping

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

It’s been a bunny-filled week or so for our family. Last Wednesday, the Easter Bunny was at Reid’s daycare. “But not the real one,” Reid assured me. “It was really C’s sister.” I guess when your sister teaches at daycare the favours she asks are different. Reid was unwilling to go near the Easter Bunny to get her carrot. One of the teachers got one for Reid and then whispered that it was a person in a costume. Reid still wouldn’t approach her but was less concerned about the 5.5 foot rabbit after that.

On Thursday, Reid wore *her* bunny costume to daycare, the one that Grandma Joyce made her a couple of Halloween’s ago when it looked like Reid wasn’t going to wear the costume that I had purchased. Reid’s classmates were impressed with the outfit and one said, “Hey, Reid, you look like the Easter Bunny.” (Talk about stating the obvious.) Reid grinned at the attention but didn’t say much. The kids were getting their outdoor gear on when we brought Reid in and so we had no trouble getting her out of her bunny suit. After they played outside, a woman from the Life of Riley Petting Zoo to show them some animals. Reid reported that she had seen a “hugandous” rabbit, a fox, hedgehog and some other animal that we’ve both since forgotten. One of the teachers said that the rabbit was the biggest she’d ever seen. I thought of how the turkeys need to be big at Thanksgiving and that the bunny is lucky that its role in Easter is not the same.

Reid let Dylan wear her bunny suit for the egg hunt in Grandma Joyce’s backyard. There were some who suggested that, when he was a teenager, Dylan would question who had permitted him to be dressed in a lavender-with-sparkles bunny suit but Dylan is a tough little guy who can carry off a bunny suit. The kids ran from point to point finding many treats. We were lucky to have chosen Friday early afternoon for the egg hunt because there was a snowstorm late afternoon. It was an odd one – an hour north and there was no snow but in Canada’s Sun Parlour, there was a storm.

On Saturday night Reid mentioned that Easter hadn’t really happened yet because the Easter Bunny hadn’t come. I had decided that she would be satisfied with the game I’d brought, in addition to Friday’s egg hunt, and was surprised at her statement and scrambled to put together a basket. Fortunately for me, Grandma Joyce had forgotten to put out a fan-powered bubble gun and Auntie M was willing to share a chocolate bunny her girls had received. Once I tossed in a few chocolate eggs, it was an acceptable offering from the Easter Bunny. When Reid discovered the basket, she was pleased. Later that day I heard her tell Aunt Karin or Aunt Lisa that the Easter Bunny hadn’t come. I reminded her that she had received a basket and Reid told me that she hadn’t *seen* the bunny. I explained that the Easter Bunny is like Santa and isn’t seen on the big night. Reid looked dubious but let it go.

Reid and I travelled to Stouffville for Shea’s hockey game. It’s not every day that your nephew/cousin plays in the OMHA championships and what else would a girl who is 3 and a half wear to such an event held on Easter Sunday but a bunny suit? That’s right, there was no choice, Reid wore the bunny suit. When Uncle Dave saw her, he quipped “You’re not sitting with us.” At least, I’m pretty sure he was joking. He sat in the same section as us in any case. The other people at the game all smiled when they saw Reid and a fellow who worked at the arena gave her a candy kabob. By the time we left the arena, Reid was a dirty little bunny; since the suit goes in the washing machine and dryer I didn’t have to worry at all.

Yesterday, Reid’s daycare had a “Hop for Muscular Dystrophy“. I resisted the urge to send her in the bunny suit – hopping is hot work – but did offer her “Snuggle Bunny” shirt. At daycare, the kids each wore the paper bunny ears that they had decorated and, boy, did they hop. I’m not sure how much money they raised but if anyone had pledged by the hop, it would have been costly. The Hop is usually for 2 minutes and the kids hop as many times as they can in that time. The teachers had set aside 30 minutes for the activity and they kids hopped and danced for most of that time. Reid took off her bunny ears before the time was up. I guess 8 days of all bunnies, all the time had caught up with her. I’ll have to wait a bit before putting on our Raffi disc – Singable Songs Collection – with the “hopping, hopping, never stopping” song (Knees Up Mother Brown).

Hope you had a good bunny celebration, too.

Egg hunters

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008


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Put ons and cream

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

We had hamburgers for supper one night last week and Reid said that she wanted to get the “put ons” out and I said, “Sure, you get the condiments out and put them on the table.” Reid gave me that look she has that says, “Muh-therr” and said, “No, they’re put ons”. It’s better than Reid offering put downs, I guess.

At my house, because I’m cheap and don’t always plan meals as well as I should, we tend to use plain, low fat yogurt interchangeably with fat-free sour cream. The taste is subtly different but it’s not too noticeable. Reid calls both “cream”. It’s an awful insult to cream, even to full fat sour cream but it’s a good nutritional habit and that’s good enough for me.

Swipers on the bus

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

I’m remembering when my nieces and nephews were young as I watch Reid grow. The most recent occasion was triggered by language. When Shea was young, he used to call grilled cheese sandwiches, “girl cheese” sandwiches. Aunt Karin corrected him and got him to say “grilled”. Subsequently, Sulienne and Chantelle and other young females became “grills”. We smiled and let that mispronunciaton slide. It was even cuter than the usual “pisghetti” that kids say.

The other night, Reid was playing with her toy school bus and singing *The Wheels on the Bus*, or at least one line of each verse. The wheels went round and round, the people went up and down and then the “Swipers” on the bus went swish, swish, swish. Ken and I grinned at this malaprop, inspired by Dora. I resisted the urge to point out that the Swipers on the bus would say, “Ah, ma-an” in a nasal, mid-American accent – my natural accent, if you ask my Ottawa friends.

Something mixed up in our family

Friday, March 21st, 2008

The other night as we were driving and talking of nothing in particular, Reid said with a bubble of laughter in her voice, “There’s something mixed up in our family.” I wondered what was coming next since there are many things in our things that might be termed “mixed up”. I’m always interested in Reid’s observations on life and this seemed to have promise and so I asked what she meant. “I still drink milkies and Dylan don’t,” Reid said. “I should stop.” I reminded her that Dylan had had milkies when he was young and that different families do different things. This conversation tells me two things: Reid has been anticipating seeing Dylan all week and she might think more about what her peers do vis a vis nursing than I thought. I’ll have to listen this weekend to hear if she discusses it with Dylan.

I know it also means that Reid is thinking of stopping nursing, trying out the idea by talking about it. I’m being neutral, talking about her stopping when she wants to and not worrying about other people.

Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane farm

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Have you ever noticed how some words or expressions sound so much better in French, or another language, than they do in English? If I were to tell you that Reid and I went to a “cabane a sucre” on Sunday, you would say to yourself, “ooh, that sounds like a fun learning experience”. If I said that Reid and I went to a “sugar shack” on Sunday, you would stop paying attention while the B52′s *Love Shack* ran through your head. You might pull yourself back to think how quaint it was that I took Reid to see the tapped maple trees with their buckets hanging down and then the boiling table. I hope you keep reading because we did that and more at Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm on Sunday.

I booked us for the Easter egg hunt at 12:00 but we arrived closer to 11:00 so that we’d have time use the bathroom and look at the animals in the barn. They open at 9:00 and so we could have gone earlier if we were free. The animals in the barn each had signs announcing their names and some had additional information as well. The texts were informative and amusing. The goat’s said:

Hi my name is Barbara Jean. I am a goat. I eat just about anything so watch out. I love to pull hair and I take hats and nibble on coats. This note is hanging above me because I ate the last two they put on my pen.

And the goose’s said:

My name is Goosey-Lucy. I am a very noisy goose. I am always in a bad mood. I love to hiss and I may bite you so watch out for me. I patrol the barnyard in the summer and I am very good at my job. Sometimes, I do go for a walk with the pig and donkey, we are quite the trio.

The signs were only in English, though, a concern in this part of Ontario.

We picked up our tickets for the Easter egg hunt in the tea shop/gift shop. Reid was immediately overcome by hunger and pleaded for maple syrup lollipops and chocolate. I offered a cookie as a pseudo-healthy snack but was glad that she refused because I noticed that the cookies cost $4.50 each. Wow! They were pretty but I can’t imagine how good they’d have to taste for me not to feel short changed when I was done. The maple products in the shop were much more reasonably priced. Pure maple syrup obviously cost more than “table syrup” but the prices were in line with the Byward farmers market.

We turned up at the rendez-vous point 10 minutes early as directed and turned in our tickets. Reid chose a pink plastic bucket for storing her eggs and we boarded a horse drawn sleigh for our trip to the egg patch. The Belgian horses that pulled the sleigh were a lovely light brown rather than the beautiful auburn of Bella and Lady at the Agricultural Museum. (I know a horse-lover would know the proper terms for the colours but I’m more of a dilitente.) Reid climbed onto the bales of straw that sat on the wagon and staked out a prime piece of blanket, just behind the driver. It’s always good to be close enough to ask the names of the horses. Ours were Brent and Brian, or something like that. Reid probably remembers. The horses pulled the sleigh to the sugar bush where a family of rabbits – 2 teen boys and a girl of 10 or so – had been practicing hiding Easter eggs when they discovered that there was a hole in their basket. There were brightly-coloured plastic eggs scattered all over the snow. I liked the way that their scenario didn’t lead to questions about the “real” Easter bunny or why the eggs weren’t actually hidden because, really, they weren’t even pretending to be concealed. The kids put eggs into their buckets and then tipped them into the ones the bunnies carried around. The bunnies weren’t always as careful as they should be and I’m pretty sure Reid picked up the same egg more than once ;+) It was a fun activity for Reid and kids younger but I’m wondering if even next year she’ll realize that those bunnies were dropping the eggs on purpose and if that will bother her or just seem part of the fun. Once the kids started losing interest, the bunnies collected all of the eggs and gave out little treat bags containing a game, car, pencil, eraser and small chocolate egg and we boarded the sleigh once again.

While we were in the bush, I pointed out the buckets hanging from the trees and we lifted a lid to see the sap dripping from the spout into the bucket. Sunday was fairly mild – right around freezing – and the sap was dripping one droplet after another. I asked one of the farmers and he said that a good day would see a steady flow of sap but that the day would need to be 8 degrees Celsius.

We went to see the actual “sugar shack” once the sleigh returned us to the front of the property. The boiling sap was producing lots of steam but the fellow who was minding the fire under the boiling table and the sugaring off process, generally was doing a good job explaining what was happening. There was quite a crowd of people, though, and we couldn’t get close to the syrup making. Reid wanted to leave and I followed her out. It *was* our lunch time after all.

At the dining hall, the line for the buffet seemed intimidating and so I left Reid playing with her treat bag at the table, within my line of sight, and joined the queue. The line moved quickly and we had our waffles, sausages, eggs, beans and ham within 10 minutes. Not before Reid had discovered that the multicoloured egg was, in fact, an eraser rather than a gum drop. Poor kid. At least she had nibbled off a little piece without swallowing immediately.

On the way home, I followed the directions Google Maps had provided and we travelled down Pana Road to Boundary Line. Pana is a secondary road that was snow covered but easy to drive on nonetheless. On the way out, we had followed the big “Stanley’s Old Maple Lane” signs that directed us along Mitch Owens Drive to Yorks Corners road once we left Boundary Line. Yorks Corners Road was cleared of snow but has such great bumps that we made most of the trip at 30 kilometres an hour. Reid was asleep within 3 or 4 minutes and so I took the backroads home to prolong her naptime. I was surprised with my knowledge of the countryside around Ottawa; we were 35 minutes from my house and still I got us home. With the 417 on one side and the Ottawa River on the other, I knew I wouldn’t get too lost but who knew that I wouldn’t have to retrace my route at all!

If you’ve got the time this weekend or even the next couple, Reid and I highly recommend a trip to the local sugar bush.