Archive for March, 2008

Taking advantage of drive time

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

It’s pretty common knowledge that some of the best opportunities to speak with your kids come when you’re semi-engaged with another task, like washing dishes or driving. Reid asked “where do babies come from” question when I was driving her to daycare and we sometimes broach other topics while we’re driving. On Friday, Ken spoke to Reid about going to sleep quickly after swimming lessons. Reid had stayed awake until 9:20 on Thursday night.  She stayed her in her and squiggled and wiggled and worried aloud about not being able to get to sleep. On Friday evening, she said that she was tired and would go straight to sleep. And she did, well, much earlier than Thursday night. I managed only to stay awake until she seemed to have fallen asleep but wasn’t awake enough to go to my own bed until Ken came in.

Reid has asked Ken to open a window while they were driving and as they pulled into the pool parking lot, Ken said that they needed to roll up the window so that no one would take the car or anything that was in it. Reid jumped in and said that the  windows would darken and if anyone came close, a voice would warn, “Stay away. This is Daddy’s and Mama’s and Reidie’s car.” This last was said in Reid’s deepest “baritone” and her speech slows when she uses it. I suppose it’s a fairly accurate mimic of Ken’s voice, in comparison to my higher and more rapid delivery. As far as I know, we don’t have that voice security system but the car and its contents were safe when we returned after class. It may be a feature of which I am unaware.

So that’s what you call it

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Reid asked if she could play with her “antenna-phone bus” on Saturday morning while I was making from-scratch oatmeal*. I had to go into the livingroom to see what she was talking about. Reid was standing at the bookshelf reaching for her remote-controlled school bus. I said, “Sure, you can play with your remote-controlled school bus.” Reid told me, in a confident tone,  “That’s not what we call it.” Who is “we” I wonder?

I’ve also noticed that Reid still says “towel paper” instead of “paper towel”. I think that it matches “toilet paper”, which explains its persistence when most of her Reidisms are disappearing.

Keeping your kids safe in the snow – natural gas

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

We  heard a report on the news that said we should be making sure that the natural gas vents are cleared of snow. We rarely watch the evening news but with all of the snow, we made an exception last night and I’m so glad that we did. This is what my natural gas vent looked like before I shovelled it:imgp2891-2.JPG

Not, too bad. There was still air exhange happening but I shovelled around it and will keep an eye on it.

Mother’s perspective on International Women’s Day

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

A woman I worked with years ago told me that she had been an active feminist as a university student but got busy with the day-to-day concerns of life and work and was less involved or interested in women’s issues for many years. The birth of her daughter, she told me, raised her consciousness once again. I know that I was more of an activist in university, too. I don’t know that I’ve been radicalized with Reid’s birth or if I just have more cause to consider the role and treatment of girls and women.

International Women’s Day offers an opportunity to consider political and human rights of women around the world. I’ve been thinking about matters closer to home lately, though, as we’re looking for early novels to read to Reid. I don’t want to read to her from the cookie-cutter, pulp fiction featuring princesses, ponies, fairies and the like that is being produced so widely of late. “Classics” tend to feature boys as the main characters and girls as accessories or both boys and girls are present but in highly stereotyped roles. I know that there must be novels worth reading being produced. I need some help finding them. We’re trying Pippi Longstocking out and have had Charlotte’s Web recommended as well. If you have a suggestion, pleas leave a comment.

This year’s theme for Canada is “strong women, strong world“. It could so easily be generalized to all human rights and political causes – all Canadians need to be particpating fully to make the changes we need to see and to make the world we want a reality.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Happy birthday, Adam

Friday, March 7th, 2008

How quickly small people grow into adults! Of the few memories I have of me as a … well, younger than I currently am, is of going to the hospital to see Adam. I’m avoiding thinking how long ago that was but, since Adam can now celebrate this particular birthday with a drink legally obtained in Michigan, I guess it was a long time ago. Let me share a few random Adam memories:

* Adam won the cute baby contest at the Leamington Tomato Festival. He really was that cute (still is, in fact).
* Adam was allergic to cow’s milk when he was small. He was able to have goat’s milk, though. Goat’s milk leads to very smelly diapers. He was a nice baby despite all of that.
* Adam was also allergic to corn products. On the day my dad died, we gave him marshmallows to keep him happy and occupied while we dealt with the things that needed to be looked after. When he was running in circles long after his bedtime, jumping from the arm of the couching and bonking his head without pausing and that sort of thing, someone finally read the marshmallow package and shared the fact that marshallows are made from corn syrup. Without Adam, I never would have known about that.
* Adam was a cool little dude. I remember, in particular, a pic of him as a toddler or preschooler with his hair spiked and his outfit was very Miami Vice.
* Adam had a poem published in a book of poems and stories when he was in elementary school. I have a copy on our bookshelf.
* Adam was the smallest hockey player that I’ve ever watched. It was so much fun to watch him and his team mates chasing the puck like a swarm of bees. Adam always waved when he took his turn as goalie. Adam wore Cooperalls when Cooperalls were cool. It’s the sort of traumatic memory your aunt needs to keep fresh in your mind.
* Adam cut his own hair when he was a kid. Somehow he managed the get the shape of a tulip onto the top of his head. He was *not* impressed when his artistry was captured in photographs.
* I left for university when Adam was still quite young. When we’d speak on the phone, before he’d ask if I wanted to speak to his mom, or when we saw each other, Adam always offered an “I love you, Auntie.”
* Adam is the strong, silent type but he has wonderful smile and he shares my sense of humour.

Happy birthday, Adam. I hope this next year is a great one.

Labelling life

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Reid and I were sitting together on the couch the other night. Reid was snuggled right next to me and Clio was lounging on the adjacent cushion. Noticing that there were 4 hands that would be much better employed in petting her, Clio walked over and squirmed her way between me and Reid. Notice that I didn’t say that Reid and I were sitting with our hands in our laps. That would have been a lie. I had just finished writing Uncle Roger’s birthday message and was writing words on sticky notes according to Reid’s directions. We started with “tights”. I had Reid tell me the names of the letters that made the necesary sounds, with a quick explanation of the silent “gh”. Reid took the completed page and stuck it to her tights before asking for “dress”. We repeated the process. Dress, of course, has the second “s”. Is it “silent”, do you think? Once her outfit was appropriately labelled, Reid asked me to write “Pooka” (Clio’s nickname). With that sticky note in hand, Reid asked if she could stick it to the cat. I said that I didn’t think it would be a good idea. Clio puts up with a lot from Reid – it’s always well-intentioned affection but often slides into more physically rough than Clio appreciates – but being labelled might have pushed her limits. When I told Melissa about it this morning, she suggested that would like to be present when Reid tried to put a label on Leo. I’m not sure whether he’d hiss or run but he would surely take any label as an insult to his catness. Maybe we’ll try this weekend if we’re snowbound, as the weather experts say we will be.

Another day in the snow

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

It’s not that I mind the 12 inches of snow that fell yesterday. Or even that it continued snowing even after I shovelled twice. In fact, I could even scoff at the storm that they’re predicting to hit on Saturday. No, my complaint that we simply don’t have any place left to put the snow that needs to be shoveled and there is so much that we can’t make snowmen or snow angels. Oh, yeah, that was two complaints. Sorry.

Ken shoveled the driveway Wednesday morning before he left and there were only 3 or 4 inches on the driveway when he and Reid got back.  I will have to get Reid out on the driveway this weekend to make some snow angels with me. I sure do miss them. Wednesday’s snow was too dry for snowmen – or snowwomen, for that matter. Reid would be equally happy to shovel but the snowbank where our front yard used to be is so high Ken has trouble getting the snow on top of it.

I was put in charge of the sidewalk because the snowbanks are lower and I was teleworking. You gotta do something at lunch, right? Being me, I took some pictures. You knew I would. From left (clockwise): the sidewalk when I walked out; I shovelled to the level of the porch; I shovelled half way down the sidewalk and then tackled it from the other end; sidewalk shovelled but snow still falling.

Snowy sidewalk before and after shovelling Did I mention that the day was mild and shovelling wasn’t as difficult as it would have been in the bitter cold? It’s true and I like to end on a positive note.

Happy birthday, Roger

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

 If I’m lucky, Roger is on afternoons and will get to read this while it is still his birthday. Given the “unluckiness” of the snow that has been falling today, I’m not optimistic. Still, I’m glad to be celebrating my littlest-big brother’s birthday. I have a list of things I like about Roger to share.

* I can’t help but start with the fact that he shovelled the driveway and sidewalk when he was visiting in January. It was appreciated then and even more so today as I write with my socks still wet from my second round of shovelling in 4 hours.
* Roger always pitches in when he visits, whether it’s with something around the house that needs a few minutes attention or Reid who needs a tickle and even if she needs some direction.
*  Roger sends me politically incorrect jokes now and again. Not too many but enough to provide the occasional laugh.
* Roger has a web cam so that Reid can see parts of the family even though they’re far away. He does a mean “head flying through space” move on it.
*  Roger is teaching Reid the joy of walking – at the Wheatley Provincial Park, near Grandma Joyce’s house, wherever.
*  Roger has a yellow house. This gives him significant status in Reid’s eyes.
*  When our grandmothers were still alive, Roger took me to visit them. I was a teenager and trying to be cool or maybe independent (and self-centred as teenagers are) but he wanted me to remember the importance of family. It was a good lesson and I’m so glad that he lives it daily. I know that I try to.
* Roger notices things like beautiful moonrises, rabbits in the ditch next to the road and that sort of thing. He’ll point them out to you and you’ll be amazed at the things that are around you.
* Roger used to make jokes when I was younger, like, “Does your face hurt?” and I’d say, “No.” He would reply, “‘Cause it’s killing me,” and then we’d laugh. No wait a minute, he would laugh. I would harrumph. It was funny that I got caught more than once but I missed the humour back then.
* Roger took me on a little trip just before I started highschool. We went to Niagara Falls and other places, I think. It was great to hang with my big brother.
* Thanks to Roger, I was exposed to really good rock music as a teenager. It gave me street creds with the boys back then and that was important. 
* Roger walked me down the aisle when I married Ken. He kept me from tripping and falling in front of all those people. (Not an enitrely improbable thing to happen.)
* Roger took Reid and me camping when Reid was only 2.5. He did most of the work, took Reid for walks in the stroller at naptime and showed us the ropes.
* Roger is my go-to guy for financial advice and for other practical matters. He doesn’t try to replace Dad but he definitely helps to fill the void.
* When I was small, I was choking on a red, hard candy and Roger performed the Heimlich Manoeuvre and dislodged it. Thanks isn’t enough but that’s all I’ve got.

Happy birthday, Roger.

What’s in a name?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Reid and I spoke with Brianna one night this past week. At one point during Reid’s turn, as she carefully ennunciated “Bawanna”, her tongue let her down and she said “Banana” instead. A smile moved across her face and her eyes danced. After nearly 4 years of knowing Brianna, Reid discovered Brianna’s nickname and it delighted her. The next time Reid spoke it, she smiled before saying Banana. When the conversation ended, I told Reid about Chantelle and Donald’s last name and she grinned at that, too. I wonder if she’ll mention it to them at Easter.  I’m sure Brianna is used to this sort of discovery, in the same way that Ken and I have become used to the expression that comes over people’s faces when they make the connection between our names or the Barbie and Ken jokes that they somehow think no one else would have told one to us before.

The next day while I was doing Reid’s hair, I sang the “Name Game“. It seems to have been the first time that I’ve sang it to Reid or maybe it was the first time that Reid paid attention when I sang it. In any case, Reid enjoyed the song and didn’t make a fuss as I did combed and braided her hair. It was a good distraction and helped me to practice the names of kids in Reid’s class. I think we might use it to remember family names.

On another night we spoke with Kathleen. We’ve been talking about Kathleen more lately as we try to make arrangements for her wedding. Reid wanted clarification as to where exactly Kathleen fit into the family. I told her that Kathleen was Melissa and Sari’s little sister. Reid objected with a grin, “Kafleen is not little!” I reminded her that I was Grandma Joyce’s baby even though I was not young and she nodded and filed Kathleen as a “little sister” as well as Uncle Chris’ daughter. And so it was that I asked Reid if she wanted to speak with Cousin Kathleen when I held out the phone. Reid accepted it quickly and said, “Hello, Cousin Kathleen.” Reid was in a chatty mood and since we rarely speak with Kathleen, in couldn’t have come at a better time.

Have a safe, snowy day.

Reid’s duck masterpiece

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Duck in a frame

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