Archive for January, 2009

Can you make a career out of changing light bulbs?

Friday, January 30th, 2009

On Tuesday we – or at least I - dedicated at least 10 minutes to trying to leave Reid’s school but those fascinating fellows in facilities maintenance were distracting Reid. They have a sort of moveable, personal elevator that lifts them to the right level to change the lightbulbs. Reid found the whole process fascinating. I reminded myself that a good mother let’s her child explore and observe. We talked about the how and why and we shared the experience. I was wondering if there was a career in light bulb changing as we finally left.

Tips to make soap last longer

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I heard a reporter on the radio giving tips to save money and she explained that soap that has is exposed to the air before it is used lasts longer. Wow, did that ever make me think of Grandma D. The reporter had a twist on the idea, though. She recommended placing the opened bars of soap in drawers with your clothing so that the perfume from the soap scents your clothing. I guess if you splurge on nice smelling soap you can make up the difference by air curing it but the soap that we buy really isn’t the sort that I’d use to scent my clothes.

Not being the sort to believe everything I hear, not even on my beloved CBC Radio 1, I searched for proof that drying the soap made a difference to it’s longevity. It is a popular idea and there seem to have been some unscientific tests done. It seems mostly that people who make homemade soaps cure them in the air before selling them and then made the leap that if a little drying is good more is better. I’m not so keen on the deep cracks that form in dried soap. I’m a liquid soap person, in fact, but I did the investigation for Ken and all of you. You can thank me later.

Middle names

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Reid was giving Leo trouble for jumping up where he didn’t belong or otherwise misbehaving at one point this weekend. She called out, in a very stern voice, “Leo Roy!” Ken and I have explained a number of times that Leo has no middle name and that, even if he had a middle name, it wouldn’t necessarily be “Roy”. Reid has been implacable in her commitment to “Roy” as the standard middle name for boys. Since Uncle Roger was in the room, I used his middle name as an example but also added that Zachary’s middle name was also not Roy. Reid knows that Ken’s middle name is William but sometimes she slips and calls him “Kenneth Elizabeth”. Worse, sometimes she appends my last name so that he has the same double-barrelled middle name as she does. Ken *really* loves it when Reid does that ;+)

I told Reid that Dylan doesn’t like it when she calls him “Dylan Roy” in any case. Grandma Joyce explained to Reid that Dylan held this point of view because his mom calls him “Dylan Roy” when he is in trouble. I muttered that Reid calls him that in the same instances and that one day I think he’ll clock her for it (and I won’t blame him but I’ll have to correct him anyway). Grandma Joyce snickered. The “little mother” thing is cute when Reid is bringing Dylan a treat or trying to comfort him when he’s upset but less so when she is telling him how to behave.

Uncle Roger knows his letters

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

On Saturday morning while I was making waffles (mmmm, yummy waffles!), Reid and Uncle Roger were playing school. My theory on this is that Reid likes to be bossy and being the “teacher” in this game let’s her indulge her inner dictator. She had a ruler and a placemat with  upper case letters on one side and lower case letters on the other. As Reid pointed with her ruler, Uncle Roger first provided the letters of the alphabet in English and then in French – all of those years as the parent of a daughter in French school have paid off – while Reid dispensed appropriate praise. She then flipped the placemat again and said that Uncle Roger needed to close his eyes and try again. Not that he was to recite the alphabet without looking. No, Uncle Roger had to wait until Reid had pointed at each letter with her ruler until he named the letter. He did pretty well except for when some background noise mimicked the sound of Reid’s ruler taps. She didn’t miss a beat but said, “No, not that one yet.” Or “Wait for me to point to it.” Uncle Roger would wait for the next tap of the ruler and try again. Luckily for him, Red decided that Uncle Roger didn’t need to – or maybe she didn’t think he would be able to – repeat the eyes-shut version of the French alphabet. Dr Seuss has a book entitled *I can read with my eyes shut* but I don’t think any of the characters actually do read with their eyes shut but I bet Reid could teach Uncle Roger how to do it.

La fin

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Reid has been speaking more French lately, though generally not to Ken and me. It seems that she spent September to December listening and learning and she is now putting what she learned to use. This morning, at our parent-teacher interview, her teacher said that Reid was in the midst of a “word explosion”. She also said that Reid’s accent is good. I suspected as much since Reid had been putting a lovely French accent on the English words that I asked her to translate for months.

I suspected this was happening. Last week, Reid corrected my French. We were reading before bed and at the end of a book that didn’t have “the end” written in it, Reid suggested we could say “the end” anyway and so we did. Then, she asked how to say it in French and I said, “Le fin”. Immediately Reid said, “La fin” in her snooty, perfectly-accented French. Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly snooty or even perfectly-accented but it was a good accent and Reid was correct. My days of speaking better French than Reid are numbered. Nous sommes à la fin de cette époque. But I still know more words than her. I just don’t always know if they’re masculine or feminine.

À la prochaine.

Another difference between Ken and me

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Reid will sometimes close her eyes and reach out, touch one of us, and say, “Is this Mama?” Or maybe she’ll be touching something and ask if it is a [something or other]. Ken and I seem to have come to unspoken agreement that we should respond “yes” to the questions, whether or not that is the truth, or supply a silly answer to the silly question. At one point I asked if she could tell the differences between Ken’s hands and mine. Reid told me that she could do so easily. “Mama’s hands are wrinkly,” she said with a smile that made me almost forget that “old” usually goes with “wrinkly”. Sadly, it’s true. Ken’s hands are freckly and hairy but wrinkle free. My hands, on the other hand, – sorry I couldn’t resist that – are as wrinkly as Grandma Joyce’s hands should be. Her hands are even wrinkly for her age, in my opinion. Reid will have to hope that she has inherited her dad’s hand genes or I’ll gloat at the first hand wrinkle.

Happy (belated) birthday, Sulienne

Monday, January 19th, 2009

I started this message Friday the 16th, on the morning of Sulienne’s birthday, truly I did. At the time I was hoping we’d hit the predicted high of minus 25 in honour of her milestone birthday. We talked about what a special day it was at breakfast that day and Reid decided to sing a special birthday song to Sulienne that went like this:

Happy Wormday to you,
Happy Wormday to you,
Happy Wormday, dear Mud,
Happy Wormday to you.

I was hoping that she would have forgotten this song by Friday night. Unfortunately, by the time Ken and Reid got back from Reid’s swimming lessons, we had no time for anything but a fast supper and bed. It would have better that she sang the song promptly than me ending up nearly a week late with this birthday greeting don’t you think?

Twenty-five is such a big birthday, it seems to be wrong of me to miss it entirely. It’s exciting to be a quarter of a century old. It’s a bit scary to be 25 and almost done university, as Sulienne is, and as I was. It’s more than a little tense to be 25 and almost done university when the government and businesses aren’t hiring (also like when I finished). But there’s good news, because this belated birthday message isn’t intended to rain on Sulienne’s parade.

25 is a great age to be a strong, smart woman. Sulienne is at just the right age – she has the right amount education and experience to balance against youth and enthusiasm. My birthday advice for this big year follows:
* Have a great time on your field trip course. It might turn you toward a career or help you know you don’t want to do. Or maybe it’ll just be fun.
* Accept that don’t have to know what you’re going to do for the rest of your or where you’re going to do it. I didn’t and everything has worked out for me. I still don’t know exactly what I’ll do for the rest of my life, though I know with whom I’ll be doing it so that’s good.
* This is a good time to try things that are outside of your comfort zone. You’re not old enough to be stuck in your ways, yet, but not dumb things, eh? You’re too old for dangerous chances.
* Take time to be with your parents. It’s good to keep those ties strong. You’ll need them for a long time, for the ups and downs.
* Find time for your friends, cousins and siblings. You don’t have to *do* things with them, just *be* with them. (This is a lesson that I’m still working on. I didn’t say that it would be easy ;+)
* Find time for yourself, even when life is hectic, or especially then. Being an amazing woman, takes effort and effort needs energy.
* Enjoy this year. Use it to set a good pattern for the rest of your adult years.

Happy belated birthday from all of your Ottawa relatives!

Follow the thought process

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

As you may know, Ken was scheduled to testify at a court martial the first week of January. Just like on tv, his credentials were entered into evidence and then the lawyers debated his standing before the judge accepted him as an “expert witness”. He must have been convincing since he was allowed to come home earlier than predicted.

With the added challenge of getting around a city in the midst of a transit strike, I was a bit nervous being in charge of picking Ken up at the airport at 5:00 pm. I was more afraid of him trying unsuccessfully to find a taxi and the eventual cost of a rush-hour ride home. As luck would have it, his plane was early but Border Services was short-staffed and Reid and I had time to buy a treat and get to the doors Ken came out of with time to spare.

Reid had had her heart set on a popsicle even though it was wickedly cold outside and wasn’t the least bit tempted by the chocolate bars that I pointed out. Since *we* weren’t outside, I decided that no lasting harm would result and paid for the gigantic 5-stripe LifeSaver Frozen Snack that Reid wanted. To the best of my knowledge, Reid has never had a regular LifeSaver candy because I’m paranoid about her choking on one and so I told her about the existence of the candies. (If she has had one, please don’t tell me about it and don’t give her any more.)

After a couple of licks, Reid asked, “Where is the switch to make it light up, Mommy?” I was puzzled and Reid noticed. “Lightsabers light up,” she said, stating the obvious. I remembered all of the little Star Wars characters at her school’s Halloween party and figured out the connection. I told her that it was a “Life SaVer” not a “Lightsaber”. Please note that while the “b” and the “v” sounds are often interchanged when Reid speaks, I keep them distinct. By the time Ken appeared, Reid was chattering about her flashlight. I tried to explain Reid’s thought processes to Ken simply, since he’d been in transit all day, but a flow chart would really have helped or at least one of those bouncing balls that help people follow the text on videos.

Ferocious cold in Ottawa

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

It’s so cold in Ottawa today, that the hydro folks were asking people to take the same sort of energy conservation steps – don’t run appliances, turn off unneeded lights, etc. -  that we’re used to hearing about in the summer. When they mentioned that I should turn back my thermostat by 2 degrees, I giggled a bit. It’s set for 16 degrees for when we’re out or sleeping and I haven’t changed it even though I’m teleworking today and my knuckles are kind of achy from the cold. Long johns and long sleeved shirts under jeans and a thick sweater, plus the blankets that cover me can deal with the chill everywhere but my hands. Still, I thought I should call Ken and ask if he thought that the hydro company meant me when they issued the appeal. Ken’s “no” was pretty emphatic. He is still missing the 20/18 settings from last year and feels the cold of the 18/16 regime more than me. Reid routinely runs around barefoot – or tries to do so – and so we’re toughing it out. I guess I should check out some of the energy saving tip at the PowerWise site since I won’t be changing the thermostat.

Poor Reid will be having all of her recesses inside today. She misses the fresh air but at least the gym that they play in has lots of equipment and room to run.

Stay warm.

Green and yellow eggs – no ham

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I’ve started hard boiling a bunch of eggs on the weekend so that I can easily bring them in my lunch. Reid noticed me packing one and asked for an egg with her cereal. I peeled it for her but was upstairs brushing my hair before she had time to eat it. As I came back downstairs, she confronted me with the pristine yolk on her palm. “Look,” Reid said, “it’s all yellow.” And it was but I couldn’t see why we were discussing this fact. Reid elaborated, “It’s supposed to be green and then yellow.” “Oh!” says I, the one who usually forgets to watch the eggs as carefully as the need to be watched, “The green only happens when I boil the eggs too long.” Reid could not be persuaded to egg that little ball of sunshine, though. At least she won’t complain if I’m less vigilant next week. This is how bad cooking turns into family favourites, eh?