Archive for June, 2009

Chicago, day 1

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Dylan spent the night with us on Thursday so that we’d increase our chances of getting out the door on time. I’d worried a bit about the kids not going to sleep because of the anticipation of our trip. My worry was doubly misplaced. Dylan is the most determined and business-like kid when it comes to going to sleep and Reid was tired enough to settle once I laid with her. On the other hand, I woke up at 2:30 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I finally got out of bed at 3:30 and snuck out to do some last minute surfing. I was calculating the amount of money we were going to save by visiting museums and using my membership card from the science and technology museums in Ottawa, when I stumbled on the site for the Adler Planetarium, which I’d dismissed as too old for the kids, and discovered they have a Sesame-street themed exhibit. There was a good reason for me being awake, I guess. Needless to say, I got everything into the car, even the kids, by 5:00 and we were pulling out of the driveway as the clock on the dashboard changed to 5:00 am. I’d have left early but poor Uncle Chris didn’t deserve to suffer from my inability to manage my excitement.

Reid and Dylan were drowsy when I put them into their seats but wide-awake by the time we hit the main road. As I drove to Leamington, they were exchanging “guess what …” statements about school and soccer and life in general. We added Uncle Chris to our merry band and headed for Windsor. After a quick pit stop, which made me wonder how many of these we’d need on the trip, we went through the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and spoke to the US Customs Official. For a long time. He didn’t ask about why we were driving someone else’s vehicle, as we’d expected but there were many other questions about where we were going, who the kids were, who they were to each other and us, etc. Uncle Chris said – and was absolutely correct – that the level of scrutiny would be appreciated if your child were missing. It was worth it for us, too, then. The kids fell asleep just outside of Detroit and that boded well for our day.

We got to the Lincoln Park Zoo about noon, or maybe 11:00, I have trouble with time changes.  Since the zoo doesn’t charge admission, there are many entrances and we were lucky enough to get a parking spot just opposite one. We got the kids into their umbroller-style strollers, added CamelBak water backpacks. The about-to-enter the zoo photos show Dylan and Reid sucking on them, just like the ones from the Toronto Zoo last year. There were a number of hands-on discovery carts throughout the zoo. A guide explained to the kids about herbivores, carnivores and omnivores using a series of animal skulls and a human skull. Another let them hold a few different horns and antlers and showed them pictures of the animal that matched the horn/antler. They have all of the usual animals, except elephants. The enclosures aren’t as big as at newer zoos but the animals seem well-cared for. The small size makes for a more manageable walk. Dylan and Reid rode on the 4-car train that runs in a circle and loved it. Dylan is train obsessed and wanted to go again but we didn’t. On our way to the car, we stopped and rode the endangered animal carousel. We were lucky to get on the last ride of the day – they were quitting early because of a concert being held at the zoo but I hadn’t realized that. The kids had asked about riding the carousel several times and each time I’d said that we’d go at the end since it was close where we parked (and because I didn’t want any objections at leaving). I was just about hoisted my own petard!

We drove along Lake Shore Drive to the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. The traffic was heavy but it gave us time to gawk at the boats and beaches. I checked in while Uncle Chris and the kids got our bags and things out of the van. The hotel is one of those that only the bell staff are allowed to drive the luggage carts. Riding on luggage carts is one of the highlights of staying in a hotel, in Reid’s mind. We got settled and then went to Buca di Beppo for supper. The fellow who seated us at Buca di Beppo walked us through the kitchens so that we could see the places where they baked the bread, prepared the entrees and salads and dessert. The kids got chicken cacciatorre and spaghetti and Uncle Chris and I split an order of lasagna. The entrees on the regular menu were set up for 2-3 to split or 3-4 to split. I don’t know what happens if you’re dining solo or with someone whose tastes are widely different. We dragged our tired selves back to the hotel and I wasn’t at all sad that we’d decided against the Art Institute of Chicago‘s free Friday evening. It’s still on my list of things to do on another visit but I don’t know if I could’ve gotten to the hotel under my own steam.

Chicago out-take

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

The scene: Uncle Chris puts toothpaste on Dylan’s toothbrush and hands it to him

Dylan: You do it.
Uncle Chris: I did it. The toothpaste is right there.
Dylan: No, you *do* it.
Uncle Chris: You want me to brush your teeth for you?
Dylan: Yeah. My leg hurts.
Uncle Chris: (laughs)
Dylan: (indignantly) My leg does so hurt.
Uncle Chris: I never doubted that it hurt. I don’t understand the connection.

Prelude to a vacation

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

At T-75 minutes, we said our goodbyes to Ken and went to Reid’s first soccer game. Reid gave him super-squeezy hugs in the house and by the time she got into her carseat, her lip was quivering. Ken came to the end on the sidewalk to wave and Reid started to cry a bit as she told me, “I’ll miss Daddy sooo much!” She gave him a sad, half-wave and returned his “I love you” in a quavering voice. She talked about how much she’d miss him all the way to soccer. For example, she wouldn’t have anyone to read stories to her or give her shoulder rides. I offered myself as the story reader and even said that *I* would try to carry her on my shoulders – with my long hair and Reid’s long legs it could be a challenge. It didn’t really matter because Reid said that she needed someone who was tall and strong. I offered up Uncle Chris as tall and Reid agreed that he would be okay. She declared Uncle Roger to be suitable because he is strong, though not as tall as Daddy. I, apparently, am neither tall nor strong. Thank goodness we have power steering or I couldn’t have even got Reid to soccer. ;+)

A humid 30 degrees is crazy weather for soccer, I think. The coaches seemed to agree, at least partially, and there were many water breaks. There were also 10 or so players on each of the blended teams and the coaches decided to give them a second ball so that more of them could make contact. After the game, one of the parents on another team pulled out freezies but only enough for his kid’s team and a selected few others. Reid didn’t seem to notice but a few of her school friends did and their parents decided to go to the Dairy Queen just up the street. It delayed our departure a bit but I could say “no” to ice cream and fellowship. We were only 25 minutes late getting on our way and Reid was oh so happy to have played with the others.

We made it maybe 30 minutes into our drive before Reid told me that she had to pee SO BAD! I stopped, thinking I was being scammed but not willing to take a chance, and thought she’d fall asleep afterward for sure since we were past her usual bedtime. An hour later, and after a few times when I thought she was asleep, Reid asked to stop again. We were just passing the last sign for a service centre and so I decided the universe was on my side at last. After our stop, I told Reid that she absolutely, positively had to go to sleep and she told me that she needed to help me stay awake. I gently but firmly told her that she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Since she fell asleep, I can only conclude that she finally saw the wisdom of my words.

We got to Grandma Barb and Grandpa Terry’s about 10:30. Reid woke up enough to stumble inside and use the bathroom. Grandma Barb and Grandpa Terry had both stayed up but they didn’t get any words from Reid. I was as gracious as I can be that late at night and we were both asleep short minutes after getting into bed.

Two more part days of driving and we’ll be in Chicago. But first, we’ll have a quick visit with Grandma Joyce and whoever stops by her house tonight.

Planes, trains and automobiles – we’ve breastfed in them all

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

I wrote this post as part of the June Carnival of Breastfeeding. You can read other great posts that discuss nursing in public by following the links at the end of the post.

Given the challenges we had establishing our breastfeeding relationship, no one was more surprised than me when I nursed Reid sitting in the front seat of the car in a parking lot when she was just days old. I hadn’t planned it but Reid was hungry and we were away from the house and so I nursed her. I can’t imagine having had to listen to her cry while we drove home before I could breastfeed her. I was so glad that I had what she needed, when she needed it. This is one of the best reasons to breastfeed, at home or in public – giving your children what they need, when they need it.

When Reid was 3 months old, we took flew to see my mom and siblings. I’d read that nursing on take-off and landing would help my baby. I hadn’t planned on the business men on either side of me but I decided they’d rather see a happy baby and (possibly) a bit of my skin than an unhappy baby and my total modesty. In the end, I doubt they saw any of my skin as I’d worn a great nursing t-shirt and Reid was a business-like nursling. When we were leaving the plane, people in adjacent rows were surprised to see my tiny girl. I smiled serenely, as all mamas do when people say their babies are great, and was glad that we were a breastfeeding pair. We took advantage many times of the “kids uner 2 fly free” offers of airlines and have flown a few more times since; each time Reid had the comfort of nursing when she needed it.

Once Reid could no longer fly at no additional cost, we took to the rails to visit my mom and siblings. Since extended nursing isn’t common, despite the World Health Organization and Canadian Association of Pediatricians’ recommendations of nursing to 2 years and beyond, I wasn’t sure what would be the reaction of our fellow travellers. But then I remembered that lesson I learned in that parking lot – give Reid what she needed, when she needed it. The only particular memory of nursing on a train that I have is holding a 3-year-old Reid while she nursed herself to sleep for a much-needed nap. The bunched-up coat that I’d been using to support the arm that was holding her head fell into the aisle. I’m quite sure that the twenty-something man who put the coat back had no idea that Reid was breastfeeding. Or maybe he did know and didn’t care and was just helping out a mom and her little one.

Reid started daycare when she was 11 ½ months old. She nursed just before Ken took her to daycare and then as soon as she came home. If I picked her up, we went straight to the car and she nursed. I was happy to reconnect with her as she was with me and relieved that my seat reclined. Occasionally, I’d have to explain the toe prints that I’d leave on the windshield but that was never a problem. Of course we nursed in parking lots on long trips – or short ones that coincided with hunger – and our car became our nursing room away from home.

Shortly after I returned to work, I had to work a lot of overtime and Ken would bring Reid to me so that I could nurse her before bed. I was pumping during the day but wasn’t willing to give up seeing my baby for so many hours at a stretch. At one point, a colleague knocked on my office door and I told her that she could come in but that I was breastfeeding. She stood in the doorway awkwardly, asked her question, and said something about me doing that “mothering thing.” I thought it was sad that she felt discomfort at being in the presence of something that should be considered normal but I liked that she equated breastfeeding and mothering.

Reid and I were never skilled at nursing with a covering blanket but as she got big enough, I told Reid that I wanted privacy for the parts of my body that were covered by my bathing suit and she needed to help me keep me covered. It was much easier to keep covered when Reid was an infant or a pre-schooler than when she was an acrobatic toddler but I never put the sensibilities of passers-by ahead of the needs of my child for nourishment or comfort. I used nursing rooms in malls, stores and museums – in Ottawa, we have many options and most are quite comfortable but some think a straight-backed chair in a glorified closet is acceptable – but also breastfed on benches in mall corridors, restaurants or wherever we were when the need arose.

One cold February day, Reid nursed while I sat on a bench along 5th Avenue in New York City and on a sunny March day at Coronado Island in San Diego. Whenever I nursed in public in the United States, I was a little worried since I’d heard of more women being confronted but I decided that I’d rely on my hyper-polite Canadianness if anything was ever said. Happily no one ever said anything.

For the most part, I tried to live up to Health Canada’s “Anywhere, Anytime” public service announcements. I’ve never checked against the Seuss-inspired poem but we have nursed in most places that we’ve ever been.

Wander over and hear what some other women have to say about nursing in public:

Lucy & Ethel Have a Baby: Nursing In Public (Boobs) Out and Proud
Chronicles of A Nursing Mom: Why Worry About NIP?
PhD in Parenting: Would You, Could You Nurse in Public?
Dirty Diaper Laundry: Breastfeeding in Public Talent – I Haz It
Kim through the Looking Glass: Here? At the Restaurant?
GrudgeMom: Nursing in a Room Full of People You Know
MumUnplugged: Aww, Is He Sleeping?
Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: Nursing in Public: Chinatown, the Subway, the Vatican, and More
Mother Mary’s Soapbox: Breastfeeding My Newborn in Public
Tiny Grass: Nursing in Public as an Immigrant
Breastfeeding 1-2-3: To Cover or Not to Cover
Mommy News and Views: Tips for Nursing in Public
Stork Stories: Little Old Men…& Nursing in PublicWarm Hearts Happy Family: Breastfeeding and the Summertime
BabyREADY: A wee NIP in the park!!
Mama Knows Breast: Products That Can Help You Breastfeed in Public
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Nursing in Public: A Fresh Perspective on Nurse-Ins
Never A Dull Moment: Breastfeeding Hats? Yes! Covers? Not So Much….
Breastfeeding Mums Blog: Nursing in Public –What’s A Breastfeeding Mother to Do?
Hobo Mama: Easy, Discreet Way to Breastfeed A Toddler in Public

Hearsay from Grandma Joyce

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Grandma Joyce relayed a couple of stories from her last visit today. She and Reid spent quite a bit of time at the front of the house, to Reid’s delight. Reid likes to be around if R or V from next door or B from the next house over are outside.

Grandma Joyce offered to watch over R, who was asleep in the van, while his mom ran into her house because the baby was hungry. Grandma Joyce asked it the baby was still breastfeeding and the mom said that she’d stopped at 3.5 months. Once the mom had gone, Reid asked Grandma Joyce, “Did I have milkies longer than three-and-a-half months?” Grandma Joyce said, “Yes.” It’s a good thing I wasn’t expecting gratitude for the four-plus *years* I nursed Reid. She has forgotten them already, it would seem. (Umm, maybe I was subconsciously expecting she’d be grateful some day, or would at least remember.)

The woman next door has noticed how fascinated Reid is by R and V. (Pretty much anyone who is conscious would notice, in fact.) And so our neighbour asked Reid if she would like a brother or sister. Reid replied, “Mama says it ain’t gonna happen.” Grandma Joyce said that Reid mimicked by intonation perfectly. Doesn’t Miss Manners say that you’re not supposed to discuss other families’ family planning issues with kids? At least it wasn’t as awkward as the stranger/lady who brought her kids to trick-or-treat at my door and encouraged Reid to press for a little sibling.

Reid the scientist

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Reid brought a leaf and a rock in from the driveway last night. She said that we needed them because we were scientists. I was cooking supper – I’m the principle human nutrition scientist in the family – and Reid was playing in the hall. All of a sudden, she started crying and Ken went to see what had happened.

Between sobs, Reid explained that the rock had hit in her in the chin. Ken, naturally, asked how the rock had gotten to her chin. Haltingly, the story came out:
Reid: I had the rock on my feet and I moved them and it hit my chin.
Ken: Hunh?
Reid: I had the rock on my feet and I moved them and it hit my chin. (Clearly not seeing anything unusual in her statement)
Me: She was lying on her back.
Reid: I was lying down and my legs were up and the rock was on my feet. Then, I forgot about the rock and moved my feet and the rock hit my chin.
Me: (Laughing in the kitchen, but quietly. How glad I was that Ken was the one dealing directly with Reid!)
Ken: So, you’re saying that you were holding a rock above your head and it hit your face when you moved your feet. (Ken likes to try to teach Reid logic whenever he can to counterbalance the unpredictableness of life with me.)

I’d thought that Reid would be learning about the natural sciences of botany or geology with her leaf and rock but it turned out to be physics on the course schedule.

Go west, young women

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Reid and I went to Westfest – a street festival in the Westboro neighbourhood of Ottawa – on Saturday afternoon with M, Reid’s best friend from school. M was feeling shy and, by the time I parked the car, was complaining of a sore tummy. Fortified with water and distracted by Reid’s chatter about all of the amazing activities that awaited us, M walked along with us. I stopped the girls to get a pic of each of them, just in case we go separated. Reid was quite vividly dressed in a multi-coloured striped scooter worn under a t-shirt dress that was red, orange and yellow and topped with a flower-print sleeveless top. Guess who chose that outfit? M was less flamboyantly attired but I thought if I lost one of them, my memory and communication skills might be impaired by stress.

I was worried that we might have to go back home when M refused the first bouncy castle but she slowly came to the conclusion that there was fun to be had. The girls got balloons from the optometrist, though not eyeball balloons unfortunately, and lollipops from Mrs Tiggywinkle’s as we wandered down the street. We followed some Chinese drummers who accompanied three dragon dancers. M and Reid were entranced and moved more quickly in pursuit of these performers than at any other time during the day. We went to two other bouncy castles and Reid tried to climb a portable rock wall. She barely made the weight minimum for climbing the wall and wasn’t quite tall enough to reach the hand and foot holds. I helped her as high as I could reach and then, when she was high enough to tell me that she was scared, helped her back down. Reid was rightfully proud of herself.  At some point early in our adventure, M lost her balloon and we spent a long time looking for another. Finally, we retraced our steps only to find that the optometrists had closed up their balloon operation, as had the other couple places we’d seen giving them out. Fortunately, Reid spotted the Bicycles for the World booth, which still had balloons and helium. I’d already broached the idea that Reid would have to give up her balloon since M was our guest and she hadn’t liked the idea much. She had extra motivation, I guess.

We dragged ourselves back to the car three hours after we left it. I was ever-so-glad that I’d remembered our Kleen Canteen of water. The day was hot enough that having a Camel Back on my back would have been welcome. I was proud not to have lost either girl and kept them from sunstroke and dehydration. Since it was the first time I’ve hosted a playdate, it seemed important to avoid such outcomes. Next time, I think I’ll put stickers in the kids shirts with my name and cell phone number on them. Or maybe those rubber bracelets that were all the rage a couple of years ago. Any opinions on what would be better?

Fathers’ Day present? Check!

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

I took Reid to another Home Depot Kids’ Building Workshop after soccer on Saturday. The project this month was intended as a Father’s Day present and so I can’t tell you what we built but I will say that we appreciated the pre-drilled nail holes. The first project we did back in March didn’t have this feature and we bent more than a few nails in the process. Reid had more patience for the hammering than previously but I still got to do my fair share. Reid decided that she should hold the nails in place for me, just to add to my stress. I don’t like hitting my own fingers and seeing her pretty little ones made me that much more leery. As always, the painting stage was the most eagerly anticipated and enjoyed. Reid was pretty sure her daddy would want her to use as many of the available pastel-coloured paints as possible on his present. She put on a bit of black trim for emphasis. We still need to apply the stickers since the paint was too wet yesterday. Knowing me, Ken will be sitting at the table next Sunday waiting patiently while Reid and I finish it up. Unless Reid asks me 17 times a day until we do it. I’ll only be able to resist one day of pestering.

The Kids’ Building Workshops take place at Home Depots across North America on the second Saturday of every month. Some stores require you to register but others allow you to just show up. There are no charges for the materials and the projects are simple enough for Reid and me to complete in an hour without assistance from others. I’ve seen people with 2 or 3 kids and one adult but the kids either need to be big enough to do some of the work independently or there will be waiting involved. It’s a safe, free and fun way to spend some time together.  Check it out at

Malcolm Gladwell – hero worship

Friday, June 12th, 2009

One of the things that Malcolm Gladwell said last night was that people can’t take advantage of opportunities unless the opportunity is presented, or a kid can’t learn to play hockey on a backyard rink like Wayne Gretzky did, if there is no backyard rink due to climate change. I had an opportunity last night to ask for Gladwell’s signature in my copy of Outliers and get a picture. Ken wanted to save our seats and so I had to ask a complete stranger to take my picture. I’m not usually so bold but…

Malcolm Gladwell and me

Sleep over envy

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Reid is going to Aunty Amanda’s for supper tonight while Ken and I go to hear Malcolm Gladwell (author of Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers). Reid has been looking forward to this visit ever since I first mentioned it. Amanda asked me to confirm that Reid eats rice. I responded strongly in the affirmative and said that we need to encourage her to also eat meat and vegetables. My little carbohydrate lover would eat bowl after bowl of rice – white and otherwise – if permitted.

We were discussing Reid’s visit to Aunty Amanda’s last night and how Nam and Nam’s parents would also be present at supper time. Reid wanted to know the names of Nam’s parents. I was stumped. Reid calls most of the adults in her life by their first names, including her teachers. I don’t know how Nam’s parents will want to be addressed. I played it safe and said that I wasn’t sure but that she might need to call them Mr N and Mrs N (only I gave the full last name). Since Mr and Mrs are unfamiliar, I explained that some people call me Ms Dundas (not many, of course ;+) instead of Barbara and some people call Ken, “Dr Reynolds”. The latter caught her off guard, “But why do they call Daddy, ‘doctor’?” she asked. I explained about his doctorate and Reid nodded as though to say, “Oh, that was obvious, I can’t believe I forgot.” She chattered about him being a doctor and the boss of soldiers. Reid clearly thinks that Ken’s job is important. I asked if Reid she thought I had an important job. She said that she thought I did and so I asked if she knew what I did. Reid said that I “write for the government”. Bingo! I was flattered that she knew.

This morning, I reminded Reid that Aunty Amanda would pick her up this evening. Reid asked me who would take her to school tomorrow morning and I told her that it would be me because she was coming home at bedtime. Reid was not pleased. She wanted to sleep over. I said that wasn’t going to happen and Reid asked, “But can I stay overnight the next time I go there?” I don’t know what Aunty Amanda will say if Reid shows up with her sleep toy and toothbrush.

Reid is determined to stay overnight at someone’s house, especially a friend’s. I’m not so sure that I’m ready for Reid to embark on sleep overs. On the bright side, lying with Reid to put her to sleep doesn’t seem to have hindered her readiness for sleep overs.