Archive for April, 2008

Happy Earth Day, Paper bag style

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Happy Earth Day everyone! We’ve been working on our celebration for a few days already. I spotted an article on Tree Hugging Family last week that mentioned a project to have kids decorate paper grocery bags for Earth Day and then return them to the grocery store. The daycare teachers thought it was a great activity – you didn’t think I would organize a group of kids, did you? I asked at my local Loblaws and the manager agreed immediately to supply the bags and distribute the finished products. Ken and Reid took the bags to daycare on Monday, the kids drew on them and then Ken and Reid brought them back home. This morning I wrote, “Happy Earth Day!” on each bag and Reid and I took them back to Loblaws.  There was only one person at the front of the store and she was harried. I was tempted to say grumpy but since she was the only one at dealing with people checking out, I’ll allow that she might have been to busy to smile at Reid when she handed over the bags or even to say, “thanks.” Reid had been excited to take the bags in and didn’t seem to notice the cool reception.

Reid and I hurried to the bus stop, running down the ramps and crying, “Wheee!” as we went. The other people in the mall smiled, the “look at the happy little girl smile” rather than the tight, “I hope that crazy lady keeps going” kind. Reid was riding in her little umbrella-type stroller. She is probably too old for it but I didn’t want to spoil our adventurous morning (taking a bus is still an adventure for Reid) with a series of “C’mon, keep walking”, “Reid, if you don’t hurry, we’ll miss the bus” and “Mama is going to be very late for work if you don’t stop dallying” comments. We didn’t have to wait long for our bus and then Reid found us good seats, near the front this time, where we ate our bananas and discussed the other passengers, where they were going and why the bus was stopping. She wondered at the highschool boys who were able to go to school by themselves! The things teenagers do these days! When we got off the bus, there was no traffic on the 4-lane road we had to cross (practically a miracle) and Reid hurry-scurried to get into the stroller and we zoomed across the road.

The other kids and the teachers were already outside by the time we got to daycare. I put Reid’s new Blue Lizard sunscreen* on her and then she went to get a paper grocery bag, one of the ones that hadn’t been decorated, to help tidy up the play yard. The teachers were raking leaves, sticks and the like and the kids were putting this stuff into the bags. The paper grocery bags were just the right size for the 3 and 4 year old kids to manage. There were some of the large leaf-and-yard-waste bags but I doubt they would have been anywhere near as easy for the kids to fill. Giving each child a bag also helped to identify the slackers and ask particular individuals to help. Reid was her usual helpful self (not like last week) and picked up many leaves. She even offered tips to Claire about where she should be raking, at one point showing that there were leaves all across the front fence and not just where Claire was currently working. Claire was so polite when she told Reid that she needed to finish the area in front of her first. There was no hint of “thanks, kid, now if you and the other kids would just put the leaves into the bags faster …” in her voice at all. She is a good person to be spending so much time with so many small children. I had missed the soonest bus going downtown because I to clean up my coffee that I spilled and so I had 26 minutes to observe the kids (and take pictures, of course.)

* We’ve used Ombrelle sunscreen on Reid since she was old enough to have it applied. Ombrelle comes with the “seal” of the Canadian Dermatologists Association on the front and I’d heard/read about how it was better than some of the other mass marketed products. Last week, I read a post on Crunchy Domestic Goddess that discussed a recent study that said oxybenzone, a chemical in most sunscreens, has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cell damage. Amy, the blog’s author, referred to the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database and a list of the safest sunscreens for children. The type of Ombrelle I bought for Reid received a hazard score of 3. Some of the other products received a hazard score of 8. BUT some others received a hazard score of only 1. I searched for products on the 10 best list over the weekend and again on Monday and finally found some Blue Lizard for Sensitive Skin with an SPF of 30 that made the “best bet” list. There was a zinc oxide stick that has a hazard rating of 0 but it’s not suitable for being in the water or heavy perspiration. Reid plays in water each day at daycare throughout the summer and can be a sweaty little kid when she is running about and being 3 and 3/4 years old. I’m left with a bottle of Ombrelle that I think Ken and I will use since I’m cheap and the effects of chemicals on adults are much less. (Here’s hoping ;+)

Swimming lessons wrap up and begin again

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Reid’s swimming lessons session wrapped up on Friday. This was her first experience in a “non-parented” class (sorry, I couldn’t think of how else to describe it) and it was a definite success. The 2 other kids in the class had been a class with us and so Reid was comfortable with them. I think I’ve mentioned P before and how she was a daredevil. Well, she still was and her brother was brave but not crazy with it. Reid was brave, too, and always willing to try what Jules asked them to do, albeit with prompting sometimes if she had to get her face wet. She was brave enough to stray a bit during class but never enough to put herself in danger or cause Jules to seem annoyed. He seemed to be the sort not to get excited over small transgressions. Reid’s confidence in the water grew dramatically over the course of the session. It seemed each week she tried something that I shook my head at Jules even proposing.

Reid receiving her Preschool A report cardAt the end of last Friday’s lesson, Jules handed the kids’ report cards to the parents. I had my camera at the ready and so Jules took it back from me and presented it to Reid formally. Reid promptly handed the report card to me and turned back to Jules, who was opening a bowl of candy. Jules is a wise and safety-conscious candy shopper. He let the kids each choose 2 sour keys instead of the hard candy that she has been offered so far and which I’ve always taken away from her. Maybe 4 year olds are big enough for hard candies but I have a still-vivid memory of choking on a cherry candy when I was only 4. Uncle Roger performed the Heimlich manoeuvre* to dislodge it. I remember seeing the candy arcing across the air in front of me. I don’t want Reid to choke, whether that is logical or not.

We had male instructors when I was still swimming with Reid and I noticed then, as I noticed again this past session, that the classes are quite different depending on whether the teacher is male or female. The female instructors tend to “mother” the kids – singing songs and encouraging them to try the activities. The male instructors almost never sing and they seem to expect the kids to make the attempt at the activities and congratulate them when they do. Reid does well with both styles but maybe even better with a male instructor.

Reid started lessons at a new swimming pool on Wednesday. It’s an old-style pool, a rectangle that is about 1 metre deep at the one end and gets deeper right away. There were 3 other girls and 2 boys in the class. One boy was a half-head taller than Reid, the other children were nearly a full-head taller. The water was up to Reid’s chin at the wall and she had to tip her head back a bit within a metre from the wall. It’s much different from the gentle slope at the Splash Wave Pool that mimics a long, slow beach.

Reid’s new teacher is a young woman named Leah (is that how you spell it when the person says, “Lee-uh”?) and she smiled at the kids and encouraged them all to try their front and back floats solo. Reid held a couple of foam pigs and gave each float a try. Leah stayed close and offered some support but at the end of each try, Reid did the float on her own for a few seconds. The difference between Preschool A and Preschool B seems to be quite significant. I wondered if Reid was ready for the Preschool A and I’m probably equally misguided to worry about this class.

*I learned at a First Aid course that, due to some legal proceedings, the term Heimlich Manoeuvre is no longer used. It’s now an “abdominal thrust“, the instructor said.

Milk supply and breastfeeding challenges – Breastfeeding carnival

Monday, April 21st, 2008

I wrote a couple months ago about the beginning of Reid’s and my nursing relationship and there were some bumps at the outset that we were able to resolve. Since the theme for this month’s Carnival of Breastfeeding is overcoming breastfeeding challenges and I hate to repeat myself, I thought I’d share my story about reduced milk supply. When Reid was about 8 weeks old, I went on the “mini pill” with my doctor’s assurance that it wouldn’t interfere with breastfeeding. The research that I could find online supported my doctor. It would seem that my breasts hadn’t read the material or listened to the doctor as I experienced an immediate drop in milk supply. After a couple of days – I waited because I thought I must be imagining it – I decided I needed to “fix” things because Reid was clearly hungry. I stopped taking the pills and started drinking nursing teas with Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek in them. I increased my intake of water, as well. Thanks to advice via email from Teresa Pitman (LLL leader, co-author of The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, and Executive Director of LLL Canada (what an amazing woman!)) Reid and I also took to our bed to snuggle and nurse for a couple of days. I was fortunate that everything was back to normal in just a few days.

If milk supply is an issue that you are grappling with, these references may be useful:

There are many others who have written about their own challenges with breastfeeding and how they overcame them. You’ll also see links to useful books and Web sites. Check back throughout the day. I will be adding links as the others post their stories:

* Stephanie at Speech Act - plugged ducts;
* Half Pint Pixie – oversuppy, blocked ducts, mastitis, flat nipples and blebs;
* Jen at Mama’s Magic – breastfeeding after a C-section;
* Renata at Nurturing Notes – thrush;
* Sinead at Breastfeeding Mums – sore nipples, engorgement, blocked ducts, positioning, mastitis;
* Tanya at The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog – tongue-tie;
Donna at Blessed Nest – mastitis, cracked nipples and low supply;
* Hobo Mama – finger feeding and baby hickeys;
* Angela at Breasteeding 123 – thrush, oversupply and plugged ducts

Have you got a story to share?

Because I’m gullible like that

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Reid asked for oatmeal-oatmeal, aka “hot cereal” and “the kind Grandma Joyce makes”, for breakfast one day this week. I’d offered her apple-oatmeal and raisin-oatmeal, the kind in packages that my friends at Quaker make for her. She is still missing Grandma Joyce, though, and I thought that Reid was seeking closeness through special food. I agreed, all soft-hearted, and as I went to the kitchen Reid said that she’d have time to watch a show while I cooked. Hmmm, was there an ulterior motive in that request? Still, I prepared the oatmeal. By the time I got the oatmeal on the table, something had happened and Reid wanted to wait to have oatmeal for supper.

We’ve had hot cereal a few more times this week. It makes me feel close to Grandma Joyce to cook it. I hope Reid feels closer to her when she eats it.

Scammer girl!

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Reid loves to play outside at daycare. When we arrive to take her home, sometimes she runs away or she comes running for a kiss and then zooms away with a giggle. Last night, Ken sat on a bench while Reid played until J, one of the teachers, instructed the children to each pick up 2 toys and take them to the shed. Reid leapt to her feet and said, “I can’t. I have to go home with my dad.” J laughed aloud and Ken told Reid to pick up 2 toys and put them away. He doesn’t fall for her scams.

It’s a bit surprising that Reid would try to weasel out of cleaning up given that she usually is keen to help the teachers. She’s a bit of a teacher’s pet. She gets that from me, I think.

On Russians and logic

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I attended a business dinner Thursday night with a delegation of Russian academics and government officials. When I first mentioned it to Reid, she nodded knowingly and said that Dora had been to Russia for Friendship Day. And it’s true, we have a DVD with an episode where Dora travels to France, China and Russia and maybe elsewhere. I don’t always pay attention to the Dora episodes.

Thursday morning, just before Reid left, she turned to me and said, “You should take me to daycare today since you won’t be home tonight.” Quite a logical proposition, when you think of it. I didn’t have a strong reason why that wasn’t possible and I hurried up and made my coffee and climbed into the car with Ken and Reid short minutes later. Ken drove us to daycare and then went on his way to work. I was early and took time to speak with each of the two teachers, remembering a couple things about which I’ve been meaning to ask. When I got to the bus stop at the side of the 4 lane road in front of Reid’s daycare – I have great sympathy for the parents who wait there with their kids – about 7 minutes before the bus was due, according to the telephone number on the sign. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I’d left Reid when she had a smile on her face.

The dinner with the Russian delegation was so interesting! Or, at least, it was once the fellow from the Russian Embassy who was able to translate for us arrived. They had questions about the price of land, what percentage of land was state-owned versus privately held, aboriginal rights and even distinct status for Quebec. There was another Canadian at the table and we did our best to answer while steering clear of politics. One man had a leaflet criticizing the Conservative Party’s election spending. They were VERY interested in that since the theme of the study tour was anti-corruption. Thankfully, I knew only the smallest bit about the subject and was able to give a brief reply. They responded with a comment about the separation of politicians and public servants. I think that means I maintained my impartiality. Maybe they just think I a waffler.

Reid and Ken seem to have had a good evening together. A bike ride and spaghetti were involved, along with a bath that didn’t include hair washing. Reid was asleep when I got home. I snuck in for a kiss before I went to bed but not right away in case she woke up and I lost my chance at grown up time with Ken. She half-woke at 11:00, calling for Ken but settled for me since he was in the basement. This morning Reid chose to watch Ken shave rather than visiting with me while I was in the tub. It stung a bit but went away when I realized I could read a magazine while I soaked with explaining the ads or the articles. Silver lining, eh?

Spring weekend with Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Ken had a meeting downtown Friday afternoon and so we met at the end of the day and went to get Reid together. Normally, having both of us go in to pick her up is a highlight of Reid’s day. It didn’t work out that way on Friday since one of the teachers (or maybe me) had mentioned that there was a paper that said Uncle Roger was authorized to pick Reid up that day. I’d made arrangements in case Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger were early. Reid had decided it was set in stone and would have preferred to wait for them. We, the second choice pickup team, talked Reid into the car and went off to swimming lessons.

Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger were at our house when we got home. I unstrapped Reid from her car seat and she jumped right out, with none of her usual dilly-dallying. She tossed off some comment about her “favourite people” as she went running to the porch where Grandma Joyce was sitting. Ken and I were left looking at each and coming to terms with our demotion on Reid’s “favourite people” ranking. Grandma and Uncle Roger had collaborated on spaghetti and meat sauce – one of Reid’s favourite meals – and we were able to eat pretty much as soon as we got home. What a wonderful way to start a weekend!

On Saturday, Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger came with us to Kindermusik. It was “bring a friend” day and Reid grinned at the idea of having Uncle Roger as her friend but she didn’t have him accompany her into the classroom. We went to Westboro afterwards. The supposedly fabulous splash pants I bought for Reid last fall were torn again, despite the duct tape reinforcement of all seams as well as the patches. The pair I bought from Loblaws weren’t up to the task of keeping Reid dry, though they didn’t tear at least. I thought I might find something more durable at Mountain Equipment Co-op or Bushtukah. Mountain Equipment Co-op had only one piece rain suits in Reid’s size. While they thought they’d have pants again this week, I couldn’t wait. I did find a great sun hat and a long-sleeved No Zone sun shirt. We went to The Works, a gourmet hamburger restaurant that offers sweet potato fries as a side dish. Mom and I shared a “Ho Hum #2″ burger that came with cheese and bacon. We weren’t brave enough to try the ones topped with peanut butter and banana or with avacado, salsa and cheese and many others with more unusual toppings/combinations. Reid had a Plain Jane burger and Uncle Roger had Black and Greens (blackened chicken on a Caesar salad). Mom and I also split an order of quesadillas but should have stuck with the burger. The quesadilla was good but we didn’t need it, especially since we also had 16 oz milkshakes. After lunch, I went to Bushtukah and found a rain suit with separate pants and coat but no pants-only options. Reid now has a spare coat, in addition to the much-needed pants. She napped on the way home and through a quick visit to Costco so that she was ready to play when we got home.

Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger needed a nap, though, and so Ken, Reid and I went to the library. Reid is like me in that she likes to choose the books that the librarians display on the top of the shelving units or tables. I made a bee-line to the “early readers” section. Both Reid and I had to drop off the books we’d collected before going back for more. When Ken joined us in the childrens’ section, he commented that we had already chosen “many books.” Reid was unfazed; “I like many books,” she said. With 2 extra adults in the house, though, I thought the books would get read. When I left to buy groceries, Reid was snuggled on Grandma Joyce’s lap for stories.

Uncle Roger took Reid to the park to play while I was away. The best one could say about the weather was that it wasn’t cold enough for snow and the rain wasn’t as coming down as hard as it had been. Uncle Roger is a hardy soul, though, and Reid loves to be outside. Reid went zooming down the slide and ended up spread-eagled in the puddle at the bottom. Uncle Roger said that her mittens were completely soaked and he put his gloves Reid. Reid also went on the swings – big kid and baby – and Uncle Roger pushed her up “bery high”. Last year, a gentle push sufficed but I think Reid’s daredevil streak has grown a great deal over the winter. I credit gymnastics but maybe it’s swimming, too, since in both lessons Reid is mastering skills on her own.

On Sunday, Ken and I went out for lunch at Baton Rouge and then to the Museum of Civilization. We went for the Secret Riches – Ancient Peru Unearthed exhibit and also saw the exhibit on Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius and the Canadian Personalities Hall. I’d not taken Reid into any of these exhibits before and probably won’t. It was nice to do this “grown up” thing with Ken. We topped our afternoon with a visit to the downtown Chapters.

Reid had a big nap while we were gone and played with Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger. When we got home, Uncle Roger was reading to Reid in her room. Grandma Joyce was listening through the baby monitor. I went to turn it off and she protested because she wanted to hear how it ended. The story in question was Something Good by Robert Munsch, if you’re looking for a book that will hold the interest of a girl who is nearly 4 and one who is nearly 68. At supper, Grandma Joyce asked if Reid had woken Uncle Roger up. Uncle Roger said that he wasn’t sure. I suggested that maybe he hadn’t been asleep, merely “resting his eyes”. Grandma Joyce said that she could hear his snores, but I defended his honour and offered the option that Roger was only making his fake sleeping seem authentic. Reid reported that there was something different about her bathroom. While we were away, Uncle Roger had installed a motion sensor light switch. It’s very handy for my girl who can barely reach the switch and then only if there isn’t stuff on the counter. The motion sensor light is environmentally friendly, too, of course. The only problem is the brightness during a middle of the night bathroom visit. The bathroom has a light bar with 6, yes, 6! sockets on it and we have a 60 watt bulb in each. It would be perfect for putting on make up, if anyone in my house did such a thing. We don’t, of course. It’s definitely time for lower watt bulbs and/or fewer of them. After supper, Reid showed Uncle Roger how she can ride her bike around block while Ken, Grandma Joyce and I tidied up and then Reid showed how she could do it again. It really is quite a distance for a small girl on a small bike. The whole experience was very different from last Monday when Reid was out in her short-sleeved shirt. Sunday evening required a coat, mitts, and a toque.

On Monday morning, while Ken and I were getting ready for work (have I mentioned how nice it was to have extra adults in the house?) Grandma Joyce went to Reid’s room when she woke up. Reid refused to budge because she was waiting for Uncle Roger. Grandma Joyce went down and Uncle Roger took her place as person-in-charge of walking Reid downstairs for breakfast. As soon as Reid had finished her breakfast, she invited Uncle Roger to go and play. He quickly finished his breakfast, saying “It’s like I’m the big brother you never had,” as he followed Reid from the room. And it’s almost true, when he visits he is pretty much as her disposal as a playmate. I don’t think that big brothers are quite that accommodating. Mine were indulgent but not always at my beck and call, more’s the pity. Ken and I came home to a happy kid and a roast beef supper – quite the contrast to our usual snack at gymnastics and then something fast after the class. We had time for a few stories from the day that Reid, Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger spent together before they had to leave.

I hope that this past weekend’s visit plus a few phone calls and a web cam conversation or two will tide Reid over until we go to Wheatley for Brianna and George’s wedding.

Show and tell

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Since the first show and tell day, Reid has been particular about what she brings. Some weeks she knows just what she wants to take and others require many suggestions from Mama and Daddy. The problem, you see, is that she only wants to show and tell about things that are “bery cool”. I’ve privately questioned what a 3.5 year old knows about “cool” but I figure that it’s more than what an old lady like me knows.

For the first show and tell day, Reid brought her hockey helmet and talked about skating lessons. Well, technically, I think that the kids answer questions that are posed by the teacher about the article. One of the other kids brought ice skates. I expected Reid to complain because I had refursed her request to bring skates. She didn’t mention it and I refrained from voicing my “Who sends skates with blades to daycare?!” comment.

Since the first day, Reid has brought:

* the green, hooded towel that looks like a frog that Sulienne gave Reid when she was a baby. She talked about her swimming lessons, I think;
* CareB, her pink Care Bear;
* Dora coin bank that is a shaped like a large can. It has quite a few coins since Reid will sometimes ask for coins, even though we tell her it is rude, and sometimes people give her money just because. On the way to swimming of the day Reid took this bank to daycare, Reid shook it and delighted in the sound. Ken had a headache and was, thus, prevented from enjoying the sound in the same way.
* the “Go, Diego, Go” video that Reid took to make her point about girls’ rights;
* a Thomas the Tank Engine-shaped gel pack that wasn’t cold by the time show and tell happened but was still touch-worthy since the back is satiny.

I’m not sure what Reid will take this Friday. The teachers mentioned back in October that they would appreciate if we prevent the kids from being the same thing week after week as they can only come up with so many questions about a given item. With this in mind, I try to go over a few “warm up” questions with Reid on Thursday night. I take the responsibility for leading Reid to something interesting and about which she can answer questions quite seriously. I’m an over-achiever in some regards. But you probably thought that already.

The Trouble with Visiting Grandma Joyce

Friday, April 11th, 2008

In the weeks since we visited Wheatley, Reid has said many times that she misses  Grandma Joyce. It’s often at bedtime, when Reid’s emotions are very close to the surface. With her trembling lip and watery eyes, Reid is the very picture of a kid who misses her Grandma. I usually suggest that we call Grandma, either immediately or in the morning if we’re already in bed. Sometimes Reid agrees but mostly she says, “I want to SEE her.” After this happened a couple of times, I teased Grandma Joyce that if Reid didn’t stop crying for her, we weren’t going to visit anymore. Grandma Joyce didn’t laugh.

Finally, I called Grandma Joyce and suggested that she should start asking if someone would bring her to Ottawa for a visit. I didn’t think that we could survive a full 6 weeks Grandma-less. One night, I told Ken that Grandma Joyce had asked Auntie M to ask Uncle Roger if he would bring her (Grandma Joyce) to Ottawa. Ken had to concentrate really hard to follow but Reid just said, “Because I miss her,” with finality. It was that simple, really.

I told Reid on Wednsday that Uncle Roger and Grandma Joyce were coming to visit. After some confusion about how many sleeps would happen before they arrived – I forgot to count naps – we settled on them arriving on show and tell day. Reid told her teachers and Melissa and at least one of Melissa’s kids that we would be having “guests” this weekend. When asked or if there was the slightest flicker of interest, Reid will tell who our guests would be.

Reid told me this morning that she didn’t miss anyone. I had a flash of worry that she wouldn’t be as excited to see Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger as I’d said but then Reid said, “I don’t miss them because they’re coming to see me.” We’ve got no more sleeps to wait. When we get home from swimming lessons, Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger should be there waiting for us. It’ll be so good, I can hardly complain about the snow and freezing rain that has fallen today. Hardly.

Have a great weekend. I’m sure we will.

Pixman comes through

Friday, April 11th, 2008

I wrote a while ago about having a couple of fellows from Pixman take our photos during Winterlude but not receiving the email containing the photos. Since then, Isabelle from Pixman contacted me and then sent a copy of the photos. They were great and I am glad to have them. Scroll down and have a look.

The next time I see some of those folks with the screen above their head and a camera in their hands, I will make a bee-line to them. I hope that the National Capital Commission uses them for all of their events this year.

Thanks again to Isabelle for noticing my problem and fixing it.

Reid and Mama at Winterlude Reid, Daddy and Mama at Winterlude