Archive for April, 2008

Savour the Season

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

First crocuses

When I wrote about the signs of spring that I was seeing last weeek, we didn’t have any flowers yet and Reid hadn’t been riding her bike but a couple of days ago I spotted some crocus.

MamaBlogga hosted a carnival with the theme “Savouring the Season” and these are the interesting thoughts that people shared:

Living in Outer Space at the Canadian Children Museum

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Reid and I went to the Canadian Children’s Museum on Sunday morning. We haven’t been since January, or maybe even December, and we almost missed an interesting exhibit about living in outer space. The exhibit was developed by the Children’s Museum of Memphis for the Youth Museum Exhibit Collective is at the Children’s Museum only until the April 27 before it moves on. There is a sign at the beginning of the exhibit that says that the exhibit is geared to 8-12 year olds and younger children will require adult assistance to understand what was presented. Reid was able to understand what she saw with only a little bit of extra information for me. There were no dangerous small parts or entire modules that were beyond her comprehension.

There was a table with plastic building pieces set up around a model of the International Space Station. Reid was drawn to this table and went back several times as we looked around. She built herself a gun, using 2 tubes and a rectangular piece, and then showed me how to build one for myself. We took turns sitting on the space toilet, lining our “business parts” up using the television screen as our guide. With Reid’s love of “bathroom words” and all things, this was a definite highlight. Reid didn’t find the freeze-dried foods as odd as I did. I don’t know what that says about my cooking. Reid was surprised at the size of the personal quarters assigned to each astronaut. The label mentioned that the astronauts’ personal space was about the size of a closet. In fact, the space as shown was about 50% smaller than Reid’s closet. We read about the astronauts wearing their clothes several days before changing them. The clothes are then put into a vehicle that distintegrates upon re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere. Reid attempted a simulated science experiment in which she wore heavy rubber gloves and little pins that needed to be set up. It was effective at simulating the experience, I think. Reid and I worked together to “dock” the space shuttle to learn that cooperation is required for such manoeuvres. Reid also manipulated the Canadarm using a few different buttons, perhaps like the actual astronauts do. Reid was losing interest before we tried the extra vehicular activity, which seemed to be using small pieces of plastic while wearing snowmobile gloves and the exercise machine wasn’t working. There was also a reading nook with a few reference books that we didn’t stop at because Reid had noticed a globe across the hall and had to go look at “our planet” immediately.

In the studio, those eternally-nice Children’s Museum staff helped us to make an “asteroid belt” – a yellow strip of vinylized paper with a buckle that Reid decorated with star stickers and other shiny bits as well as some space rocks (aquarium gravel if my guess is right). I am a fan of puns and so I liked even the idea of it. Reid also tried a freeze-dried strawberry and some chocolate Astronaut ice cream. She was NOT impressed. I wasn’t surprised since Reid was didn’t like the freeze-dried Gerber Mini Fruits I’ve offered her before. Being the sort of mama that will do anything for her kid, I ate the strawberry and ice cream that Reid rejected. I can report that the strawberry was sort of fuzzy on the tongue and the ice cream was a confusing mix of “tastes like ice cream” and “feels like cotton candy”.

When I talked about the toilet at work, one of the fellows mentioned that Chris Hadfield had spoken about going to the bathroom in space. (TeacherTube is a way cool site, for its own sake. If you have a space nut in your family, you may want to show them the Living and Working in Space document that the Canadian Space Agency developed. It was written a while ago (pre-2005) but I don’t imagine there have been significant changes to daily life aboard the space station.

If you can make it, you should head over to the Canadian Children’s Museum for the Living in Outer Space exhibit.

Changing cultural references

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The last time we visited the Canada Agricultural Museum, I noticed that I’m not merely “unhip” in adult culture but also in kid’s culture. Reid and I were talking about “Eeyore” and I made a comment about Winnie the Pooh and his friends. I love how the farm has named their donkey after the Winnie the Pooh character. Kids don’t require originality. They prefer the comfort of what is known.

A bit later, another family was enjoying their time with Eeyore. I heard the dad say, “Look, it’s like ‘Donkey‘ from Shrek.” I was tempted to rush over and say, “No, no. It’s ‘Eeyore’ from Winnie the Pooh. Don’t you read A.A. Milne?” But I remembered:
1. It was none of my business.
2. I don’t appreciate parenting tips from strangers.
3. The characters in the A.A. Milne stories have some flaws* that I’m not so keen on. Maybe ‘Donkey’ and Shrek offere a better set of role models.

* At the risk of sounding like I over-analyze things, which I do, of course I offer the following character assessments, with some ideas supplied by Ken:

- Winnie the Pooh: obsessed with honey, greedy and selfish about it, one must wonder if Winnie the Pooh represents an alcoholic;
- Rabbit: perpetually in a bad mood, rude and hostile, Rabbit is one of those “so called friends” that takes much more than they give from a relationship;
- Piglet: timid and small, Piglet relies on others rather than seeking self-sufficiency;
- Eeyore: clearly a character who needs hugs and possibly even psychiatric treatment, his friends are too self-absorbed to offer comfort or counselling;
- Tigger: not such a major player in the original stories, self-aggrandizing – “the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is that I’m the only one”;
- Owl: know-it-all who clearly doesn’t know nearly so much as he claims;
- Kanga and Roo: the only female character, Kanga, is given relevance and completion only by virtue of being mother to Roo; and
- Christopher Robin: if he really loved these stuffed animals, why would he leave them in a forest to molder and rot?

I should go and choose a Winnie the Pooh book to read to Reid tonight.

Riding a bike – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Reid rides into the sunset (sort of)

Watch her go

Pedal, pedal, pedal

View More Wordless Wednesday Participants or look at my previous Wordless Wednesday entries.
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Fun afternoon with the Funky Mamas

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

We attended the last event of this year’s Dreamweaver children’s series, which is presented by Performing Arts Council of Cumberland Township (P.A.C.C.T.), on Sunday. After Jack Grunsky’s concert in November and Goldilocks and the Three Canadian Bears in February, we had high expectations for the Funky Mamas and we weren’t disappointed. The 5 women delivered a mix of traditional and original songs with energy and flair. They played many different instruments including guitars, a drum, fiddle, ukelele, banjo, and even a washboard and handsaw. Each of the women sang, sharing the lead and harmony in the various songs and taking turns leading the audience in the actions that accompanied the songs. They invited a few kids to come on stage for the last song and as more and more kids came up, they made sure that the children and instruments would be safe but welcomed them all. Reid was one of the few kids who remained in their seats but she liked seeing Sarah and Ben on stage. In fact, Reid was entranced by the performance as a whole. She did dedicate some attention to what Sarah and her friend did, too. When they clapped, Reid clapped. When they sat on the folded-up chair seat – you know how kids do, without opening the fold down seat – Reid sat that way, also. It was sweet, and yet worrisome, to see Reid checking on Sarah and her friend to determine what was socially acceptable. Sweet that she cares and Sarah is generally a good role model but worrisome to see how I am clearly losing influence.

The Funky Mamas are performing in and around Ottawa over the next week, including an appearance at the Mrs Tiggywinkle’s in Westboro on Friday morning. If you live nearby, you should drop by. They’ve also posted a schedule of upcoming appearances around the province. There’s a mailing list to which one could subscribe as well.

On a sadder note, the Dreamweaver folks won’t be putting on any events next year. There’s a new arts centre in the works for east Ottawa but there is enough uncertainty around it that it’s safer to wait. They are looking for volunteers to help plan their 20th season. You can contact them at to offer to help them.

World Health Day – climate change and preschoolers

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Today is World Health Day 2008 and the theme this year is “protecting health from the adverse affects of climate change”. On April 7th, the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, we should think about how climate change is affecting human health – from the higher risks of extreme weather events to changes in the dynamics of infectious diseases. Coming as it does at the end of a winter with near record snowfall (and the record could still be broken), when my thoughts have gone often to the people who live on the streets or who lack the financial resources for heat, it’s a theme that makes sense to me.

The experts say that vulnerable populations – the very young, elderly, medically infirm, poor and isolated – in vulnerable areas – where climate-sensitive diseases are common, water is scarce and food production unstable, on small islands and in mountainous regions – are in particular jeopardy. Of course the actions that we need to take to address this health issue are those that people have been saying are necessary to address environmental degradation for its own sake.

Reid was intrigued by Earth Hour. It might have been the candles that drew her in but even if they are a conversation starter, we still talk about taking care of our planet. We’ll just have an added reason to think about how we can “lighten our environmental footprint” this World Health Day.

Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess offers a series of green tips that are practical for a family with small children. Jennifer at Treehugging Family also writes about living an environmental lifestyle while raising kids. What sorts of conversations do you have with your preschool kids about climate change? Do you tackle health when you do?

Cat songs and rhymes

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

One morning this week, Reid watched part of Play with Me, Sesame and there was a segment of that involved 3 kittens. On the way to daycare, remembering it, I recited Three Little Kittens for Reid (but not all of the verses as in that link). Of course, she wanted another cat rhyme and I offered Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been? and the the little bit from *Animal Serenade*, a book from a previous Kindermusik class: “Mrs Cat runs through the garden. Oopsy-daisy, beg your pardon.” At Reid’s call for another cat rhyme, I asked Ken for an idea. It was kind of desperate. Ken doesn’t have the same store of rhymes, songs and commercial jingles rattling around in his head.

I switched to songs. When I started singing the “The Kitty-Cats Party”, Ken asked if doggies would be there, too, and Reid said “no” immediately. I hadn’t even got to Spotty, Duke and Rover yet. I sang the cat’s song from *Animal Serenade*, “Hush little doggy, hush little cat. Cuddle up now and take a nap.” Reid laughed a bit and said, “no doggies!” At that, though, I was out of songs.

I told Grandma Joyce about it and asked her if she had any other rhymes or songs since she is the source of most of my songs. She mentioned a song and I promptly lost the title and lyrics from my head. It might have been Has anybody seen my kitty? Has anybody seen my cat? because that is what I came to my mind when I told Reid about Grandma Joyce having told me a song that I couldn’t remember.

I’ll take any other suggestions for cat rhymes and songs you might have.

My militant girl

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Reid has been reporting that a couple of boys at daycare, I and C, have been telling her that certain things she likes are for boys only. She is happy with the Thomas the Tank Engine-shaped gel pack that we bought at Target at Easter and has used it a couple of times for minor scrapes. Reid must talked about it at daycare because she told us that C said that girls couldn’t have trains; trains were only for boys. We told her that was plainly wrong since she *did* have a train set and the Thomas ice pack. Another day, Reid reported that I and C had told her that girls couldn’t watch Diego because Diego is for boys. Again we told her that it was a silly thing to say. Reid seemed like it bugged her to be told but she wasn’t particularly bothered.

I mentioned all this to C, one of Reid’s teachers, Thursday night while Reid was using the bathroom. C hadn’t heard the conversations and said that she would have addressed them if she had. I knew that; C is a person who speaks truth to tyrants, errm, I mean preschoolers. She said something to the effect that the kids come by the attitudes “honestly” and described a conversation between I and his mom. He said that he wanted a soft Dora doll like Reid has in her cubby and was told, “Dora is for girls.” I suggested maybe other parents would complain if she talked about boys playing with dolls and girls playing with trains. We both laughed. I wonder, though, if that is simply culturally insensitive. Where does my right to have my daughter cared for in an environment free from discrimination based on gender end and someone else’s right to have their child cared for in an environment that reflects their cultural values begin.

When it was time for Reid to choose what to bring for show and tell, it was clear where her mind was. She said that wanted to take her Thomas patch and a Diego video in a righteous voice that suggested the choices were open to discussion. I reminded her that she had to choose only one item and she picked the Diego video.

It’s a pity that Reid doesn’t wear a bra because it would be good day for a bra burning. I, for one, appreciated the irony of her choice of tops – a pink shirt with the words “Every Princess needs …” at the bottom and a satin applique dress, tiara, high heels, gloves and that sort of thing arranged around it.  Seriously, though, I am so pleased that Reid was matter-of-fact about standing up for what is important to her (not like her name, which apparently isn’t so critical to her). My job now is to nurture this strength until Reid is through her school days, the days of mean girls and highschool, and leaving home, and getting married, having kids …

Safety, cuddling and heroes

Friday, April 4th, 2008

The gate for Reid’s bed, or whatever you call that thing that keeps her from rolling out of bed, broke this week. I’m not sure if a screw was sheared off or what happened. Ken muttered something about all of the times we’ve taken it off and put it back on the bed and that he thinks he can fix it before carrying it away. I’m wondering if it’s even necessary anymore, if it ever was. Reid is pretty active when she sleeps but the bed isn’t very far from the floor.

When Ken came into get us out of bed yesterday, he first sat in his usual spot at the foot of the bed. Noticing that the gate was gone – it was early in the morning – he decided to stretch out and cuddle next to Reid. Reid objected, saying that our family cuddles in the big bed in Mama and Dad’s room but not in her bed. She pushed back against him and when he complained (remember we were 3 people in a twin bed), Reid said that she was just “stretching her bum.” As long as she wasn’t intentionally pushing Ken from the bed, I guess it was okay.

At about 2:00 Wednesday morning, I heard what sounded suspiciously like a small girl falling out of bed. Ken went in to comfort Reid while I used the bathroom. Once I arrived, Ken went back to the big bed and I laid with Reid. She told me that she had fallen but “Daddy came”. It was clear from her tone that she knew he could have easily leapt a small building on the way to her room without pausing.

At 5:30, when she would usually have nursed, snoozed and cuddled with me, Reid asked to go to the big bed to cuddle with Daddy (the hero from the middle of the night fall). Wasn’t Ken lucky to have us invade his bed in those last few minutes before he had to get up?

I’m still wondering about the gate on the side of the bed. Does a girl who is nearly 4 require such a safety device? Did she ever? No, don’t answer that second question, we bought it years ago. It’s too late for me to get the “today’s parents are way too protective and Darwin planned for such things” advice.

Reid really loves gymnastics

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

I’ve written before about how much Reid likes her gymnastics classes but I thought the following showed just how true it is. Ken was driving Reid to class on Monday when she told him, “My bones are breaking. I miss gymnastics so much.” Only a kid who really, really likes gymnastics would feel like their bones are breaking for the missing of it.

The other little girl in Reid’s class asked Reid what her name was. Reid buried her face and wouldn’t speak. I told L Reid’s name. L ran to her dad and reported that the name was “Rita”. Reid heard, too, and said, “It’s okay if she calls me “‘Rita’. That’s my nickname now.” I protested that her nickname is Reidie. Reid, however, didn’t seem to think the mixup was a matter for concern. When L came back into the room where we were sitting, I told her what Reid’s name actually was. All of a sudden I understand why Grandma Joyce was so particular about making sure that people called me “Barbara” instead of “Barb”. I chose Reid’s name carefully and spent a lot of time convincing Ken it was the right choice before she was even born. Since her birth, I have said “Reid” millions of times, in love, laughter, exasperation, worry, pride, and so many more emotions.

Unfortunately, the eager anticipation of gymnastics didn’t seem to translate into rapt attention to her coach or absolute obedience. Reid was running in circles rather than simply making the circles with her arms, lying down for parts of the warmup that didn’t require a prone position and that sort of thing. With the memory of those outstanding wild boys and the non-involved parents from the last session fresh in our minds, Ken and I decided I should intervene. I went out and told Reid that she needed to translate her excitement into good listening. Reid’s lower lip stuck out and her eyes looked sad and regretful. She wanted a hug. She needed water. Yes, I was making it worse, it seemed. After the drink, Reid went back to her class and, I think, she paid better attention after that. At the end of the class, I spoke to the coach. She said that the two girls fed on each other and that I shouldn’t worry too much. Still, we’ll talk about the importance of using “listening ears” during class.

The next night at supper, I told Reid that she needed to finish her milk because it is important for healthy teeth and bones. Reid nodded, this nothing new, and asked if gymnastics was important for healthy bones, too. I told her that they were. It’s like Reid has read the information about how to prevent osteoporosis. No weak bones for my daughter!

Okay, now go have a glass of milk and exercise.