Archive for June, 2008

We don’t clean

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

On Friday at supper we were discussing our plans for Saturday. Melissa had invited us to come visit on Saturday morning and Reid was excited to go, even though we’d been just the night before. I told her that we would go if Daddy didn’t have other plans. Well, he said that he had planned to clean the house on Saturday morning. Reid’s face lit up with a smile and she looked at me and said, “We don’t clean!” Ergo, we were cleared to go visit Melissa and her family. While Ken laughed, I defended my honour and pointed out that I clean *sometimes* and even she does every once and a while. Still, it is true that we don’t clean as much as Ken does. Yet.

When he is away, Reid and I will have to step up. I’m considering closing up the upstairs, except for a bathroom, and moving us downstairs. We wouldn’t need to have the air conditioning on as high, the mess would be more concentrated – and more manageable – and Reid would actually play with the toys down there.  As a bonus, we could offer our guests (you will be coming to visit, won’t you?) the nicest accommodations we have. It’s great to have cleaners come in and all but the name is a bit misleading since they depend on me to clear the floors and openshelves that they clean. Still, having them clean the tubs and toilets makes whatever we have to pay them worthwhile. Ask me in August how the house looks and check whether I meet your eyes when I reply. I’ll need some help staying on top of things.

How to Celebrate Father’s Day, according to Reid

Monday, June 16th, 2008

At 3:30 in the morning, ask to go lie with Daddy in his big bed. Remain unaware of the fact that Daddy doesn’t sleep when you are sleeping next to him for fear of squishing you while he is asleep. Not that he could fall asleep with the perpetual motion kid next to him. Accept Mama’s refusal and go back to sleep. At 6:30,  demand to be with your Daddy. He can sleep in after you have crawled on him and asked for a story or two and then leave. Once Daddy is fully awake, go out for breakfast with Mama so that Daddy can wake up slowly. (Too late  ;+) When you return from the restaurant, your Mama will remember that you haven’t signed the card you chose. Mama had been counting on a card from daycare but that didn’t happen. Oops! Make a couple of attempts to print your name free-hand. Decide neither is good enough for Daddy and have Mama put dots on the card for you to follow. When Mama suggests that she’ll write “Daddy” on the other side of the card, ask for more dots and then trace them. These two words, written in your own handwriting, will be the highlight of Daddy’s day. While Daddy opens the card from you, suggest that he open the card from Mama. While he opens the card from Mama, try to interest him in the present. If he tries to read the details on the first part of the present, rattle the bag so that he knows there is something else in there. In all things, be sure to communicate your excitement at this day to celebrate your daddy.

Once Daddy has opened his cards and presents, ask when it will be kids’ day. Don’t be surprised when he laughs at you. Daddies can be silly on Father’s Day. It’s their day, they can do what they want.

A daddy’s story

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Since it’s Father’s Day, I thought I should share a story that Ken likes to tell. One day last week, Reid was wearing a pretty dress and her hair was in its many braids. She was the epitome of a girly-girl. Until she saw her daddy, grinned and said, “MEAT!”  And then she showed him a bit of the meat that was in her mouth. (She shouldn’t have opened her mouth like that and we tell her but it happened nonetheless.) Ken calls Reid, “My little carnivore” at such moments.

It’s sweet when daddies have nicknames for their little girls.

Happy Father’s Day!

Not quite the look she was trying for

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

The other morning at breakfast, Reid was grumpy about something or other. I imagine I caused it by thwarting her desire to make the rules and see them enforced. In any case, she was “hemph-ing” every couple of second and making a face of which a storm cloud would be proud. Ken asked what was happening and I said that Reid was showing us her grumpy face. Reid hemphed. Ken looked at Reid closely and said, “It looks like you’re pooping.” I burst out laughing and so did Reid, but only until she remembered that she was supposed to be grumpy. It wasn’t effective, especially after she’d already laughed and she soon continued eating her breakfast. Never would I have thought to make that comment, though I did try drawing Reid out of her mood. It’s good to have someone with a different perspective to help tackle life’s little – and big – challenges.

Barney’s 20th Anniversary Tour

Friday, June 13th, 2008

I don’t read my local weekly paper regularly but for some reason, I decided to flip through it yesterday. And how glad am I that I did? Very. I saw an advertisement that Barney’s 20th Anniversary Tour will be making a stop in Ottawa on Sunday and Monday. The shows will take place at 11:00 and 2:00 on June 15 and 16 at the St-Laurent Shopping Centre. If you’re not in Ottawa, you can check for a location near you on Barney’s site or on the Treehouse tv site. Canadian Family magazine, Aunt Jemima and Ontario Place are sponsoring a draw for “Breakfast with Barney“. If Toronto is a convenient place for you to have breakfast, sign up soon. The contest closes June 20th.

Reid isn’t a huge fan of Barney but we might be in need of a cool place to spend some time if it is hot and humid again this weekend. If it is rainy, well, the St-Laurent Centre has a roof as well. I’m not giving up hope on the Touch-a-Truck event but our visit there will be brief if the weather conspires against us. As for Reid’s ice skating lesson, I think we’ll probably miss this week’s and try again next week. And if these still do not tempt you to leave your house, check out my Ottawa Events with Kids page.

Fun Fair fun

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Reid and I went to the fun fair at Melissa’s kids’ school last Thursday night and once again we had lots of fun. I came away we 13 ideas of activities to do with large groups of kids, eat a fun fair, community picnic or a birthday party:

1. Lollipop garden – you need a large piece of green styrofoam with many lollopop stick-sized holes and many lollipops, some of which will have colour on the bottom of their stems. The coloured stems entitle the holder to a prize. Everyone gets to keep the lollipop they choose.
2. Pocket lady/man – sew patch pockets onto a lab coat and place one or more little “prizes” in each pocket. The children get to empty whichever pocket they choose and if they choose any empty one, the get to choose again.
3. Basketball throw – turn a “meeting room” chair so that the back touches the ground and place a large, round waste can in the centre of the legs. The children try to toss a basketball into the waste can and have it stay there. Getting it to stay is a challenge in and of itself.
4. Beanbag toss – a large board with holes and some beanbags are the minimum requirments but someone with artistic skills could paint an amusing picture that incorporates the holes.
5. Hockey shot – hang signs in the top and bottom corners and also in the cente of a hockey net and award points according to what sign was hit. The number of points could determine the size of the prize.
6. Face painting – small stencils can be used with traditional face paint and sponges or, if volunteers with some artistic skills are available, face paint pencils are also available for freehand drawing of small designs. With unlimited time and talent, freehand painting could be offered but the kids in line will be restless. Recipes for making your own facepaint from cold cream and food colouring are available.
7. Fishing game – a long stick with string attached and a bulldog clip on the end will make a safe “fishing pole” to be cast over a board painted with an underwater scene. Volunteers hiding behind the board can clip an age-appropriate prize to the fishing pole.
8. Balloon pull – a room with helium-filled latex balloons in a variety of colours looks a bit like an undersea flower garden. There is no contest with this, the children can choose the balloon or their choice. If giving a prize is important, some balloons could be marked and prizes awarded for selecting the “lucky” balloons.
9. Cake walk – in our Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Treats Carnival book, the children simply chose a numbered circle to stand on and then a number was called but in the game Reid played, the participants walked around in a circle while music played and when it stopped, they moved to the closest number and waited while a number was drawn to determine the winner.
10. Sponge dunk tank – the logistics involved in building, filling and staffing a dunk tank are a little daunting but the fun of soaking a principal, teacher or other person need not be sacrificed. A painted board, like those at tourist attractions that depicts part of a scene with a place for a person’s face to peek through, and some large, utility sponges and a bucket of water will achieve nearly the same effect with much less effort. The “dunkees” can even wear rain gear if the weather is a bit chilly.
11. Hammering challenge – about 40% of the kids in the school will be attending a new school in the fall and to get them excited, there was a “help us build the new school game”. I think slightly older kids would like the opportunity to test their strength by hammering a nail into a board. Prizes can be awarded based on the number of hammer swings required to push the nail down a certain distance.
12. Mini putt – there was a fancy golf challenge at the school but I think that kids would have fun trying to put a golf ball into a glass, small sand pail or large bucket. Par for each could be determined in advance.
13. Ring toss – I remember doing a ring toss as a kid with rubber canning rings and a peg but I’m not sure how many people have access to the rubber rings anymore. At the Upper Canada Village fair last year, the ring toss game was played with rings made from twine and the pegs were nearly a metre tall. I think shorter pegs would work best but you would want to put up a barrier around them to be sure that people didn’t trip on them. As always, prizes would be determined based on how many rings were on the peg at the end.

All of the above games could be played on a per ticket basis. Keep the proceeds for a charitable endeavour. Charging a nominal fee will also help kids to prioritize where to go and (hopefully) spread them around the games.

I would consider spicing up the usual door prize draw by giving people the opportunity to “vote” for the basket they’d most like to win by placing their ticket(s) in separate buckets. The baskets on offer were well-planned: a large flower planter; “family fun” (playing cards, board game, snack food, etc.); and car cleaning supplies.

And if you’re standing in a long line to buy tickets like I was and you have ideas on how to improve the process, the games or whatever, don’t complain and say that you’re going to send an email to the organizers. Go to the next parent council meeting or join whatever group is responsible for the planning. Melissa said that there are about 1000 kids in the school and 12 people attend the parent council meetings. I’m guessing the complainers I heard weren’t among the 12. I was frustrated and offended on Melissa’s behalf.

I sure hope Reid’s new school will have a fun fair because I have all of the ideas to share.

View other participants in Thursday Thirteen or look at my previous Thursday Thirteen entries.

Soldiers on parade – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I like the way this helmet fits

Remote control weapon

After a while, even soldiers are boring

View More Wordless Wednesday Participants or look at my previous Wordless Wednesday entries.
Check out the Wordless Wednesday HQ.

Wanted: good skater for summer free skates

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Despite the crazy heat and humidity – 31 degrees on June 9th or 41 degrees with the humidex is crazy to me – Reid had her first ice skating lesson of the session Sunday morning. It wasn’t the first lesson of the course but June 1st snuck on me. Months shouldn’t be allowed to start on Sunday. When ice skating wrapped up in March, Reid was disappointed and wanted to take more classes. The rink we’d been at offered 2 classes a week and that was too big a commitment, especially with gymnastics and swimming. The summer session runs through June and July. The classes are once again 25 minutes long and I still have to go out on the ice with Reid.

My arches were starting to feel sore before we even got on the ice, possibly because my skates fit a bit funny without socks on. I didn’t have socks because the mitts that I thought were in the skating bag weren’t there and so I gave Reid my socks. I told her about how her baby mitts that didn’t have thumbs in them. She wasn’t overly concerned or maybe she was just glad to have something to cover her hands. Some of the other kids were wearing snowsuits for the lesson and one had on splash pants and a sweater. Reid had on a pair of heavy long pants and a sweater. I think splash pants might be a good idea but, then again, Reid might sit on the ice when she got tired. Reid was excited to be on the ice for the first 7 minutes at least. During that time Reid demonstrated that she *could* skate unassisted but that she still preferred to hold onto me and also her newly-aquired ability to stand up unassisted. She didn’t push off the one knee as the coach directed but she did go from sitting to standing. The problem was, as far as I can figure, skating requires effort over a long period.  Even at rest Reid has to pay attention to her balance. By the 10 minute mark, Reid was asking to leave. When I said that our turn wasn’t over yet, she sat down. I pointed out that her bum was going to get hold. Reid stood up and skated to the wall. After 20 minutes she was trying out some crocodile tears and asking to leave again. We toughed out the last 5 minutes and I’m pretty sure she enjoyed the game of “What time is it Mister Wolf?” As we took our skates off, Reid said that she didn’t want to come back next week. Well, she said that she *wasn’t* going to go back but I acted like it was a request. I’d like to go to the Touch-a-Truck event first thing next Sunday morning but I’m not sure if skipping the lesson is a good idea. Or maybe it gives us both a break.

The zamboni came out when we were leaving. I took it as a sign that the universe wanted Reid to succeed at her skating lessons or, at the very least, to return. The zamboni is one of Reid’s favourite thing about arenas. She likes the hotdogs at the canteen climbing the bleachers, and the hockey boys when they’re on the ice.  When we walked back into the lobby, my glasses steamed up due to the temperature changed and the mugginess of the day. That’s the kind of difference there was.

When Aunty Amanda and Aunt Jane (Amanda’s mom) joined us at the restaurant, Reid proudly announced that she’d been skating. Aunt Jane asked her if liked it and Reid said, “Yes”. Yes!? Ken asked about it at home and Reid told him that skating was “too tricky”. I think this assessment was a bit closer to the unvarnished truth, according to Reid.

I can’t decide if we should go back to skating lessons over the summer or let it go until the fall. I think the best thing to do would be to hire someone to take Reid for a few free skates. It would have to be someone that Reid wanted to impress, someone who would be positive and not succumb to Reid’s objections to doing what the coach asked, no matter how much her lip wobbles. And, most importantly, the person has to skate easily, with grace and style. You know, the kind of person whose arches don’t start to hurt even before they get to the ice surface. I meet the minimum “adult must have some ability to skate” requirement but only just. I think if Reid could only see an proficient skater and experience fluid skating, she’d be hooked.

Those silly frogs!

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Quite some time ago, Reid had a frog in her throat. At first she seemed to think we were joking when we labelled the trouble she had as a “frog”. We all had colds at the time and so she heard the term used a few times and knew we weren’t tricking her. Since that time, the frog has left her throat – and moved to her belly. The frog is especially troublesome at naptime and bedtime, when it begins to jump and makes it difficult for her to fall asleep. Reid has explained that when she lays still to sleep, the frog wakes up. When she moves about, the frog goes to sleep. Just like she knows she did when I was pregnant with her. Mealtimes can also be a problem when you have a frog in your tummy. The frog doesn’t always want to eat what is on the plate. Sometimes there simply isn’t room for supper with a “big daddy frog” already in your tummy.

I could use some ideas for getting the frog out of Red’s belly permanently. Nothing obvious, I’ve already tried the obvious stuff.

It’s Doors Open weekend

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to write a post each Thursday recommending an event for people in the Ottawa-area to check out but so far, well, it hasn’t happened. Your best bet for family fun this weekend is sure to be any of the Doors Open Ottawa locations, particularly those recommended for kids. If you aren’t familiar with the Doors Open movement, buildings that are usually closed to the public, or areas of public buildings that are normally out of bounds, are open for tours. The Britannia Water Purification Plant and Canada Post Ottawa Mail Processing Plant are high on my list of places to visit but I think that they’re both intended for kids a bit older than Reid. We’ll take in the old Ottawa Jail after the Royal Canadian Dragoons / Royal Canadian Regiment 125th Anniversary Parade on Parliament Hill this morning. This afternoon we want to go to the Ottawa Paramedic Service Headquarters and we have the OC Tranpo train maintenance facility on our list for tomorrow and maybe the Rogers Cable – Channel 23 Station.

I found a few other events and they’re listed on my Ottawa Events with Kids page or if you’re in a “cleaning out the basement” frame of mind, this is the spring Give Away weekend in Ottawa. People are encouraged to put things they no longer want at the curb with a sign indicating that they’re free. There’ll be another weekend in October if you’re not quite ready this weekend. Whatever you do, don’t forget to slip, slop, slap (on your protective clothing, sunscreen and hat).