Archive for January, 2010

No one ever said English was an easy language

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

On the way home last night, Reid was telling us about something that had happened in class but she first used “him” for a girl and then auto-corrected to “she”. It seems to me that this is a new error in her speech but maybe it’s been there all along and I’m noticing it now because the other non-standard expressions are disappearing. In any case, we had a discussion that went something like this:

Me: He is opposite of she. Him is opposite of her. You want to say “her”.
Reid: I’m doing another kind of opposite.
Me: What other kind of opposite? (I know of only the one kind.)
Reid: The kind that means the same but sounds different.
Me: You mean synonym. Him and she are definitely not synonyms.
Ken: Antonym is the opposite of the word you couldn’t think of.

I greatly admired Ken’s quick and funny, or punny, response. I love grammar jokes. Reid ignored us both and continued with her story.

A few minutes later, Reid called out “atqp” and asked what that spelled. I told her that she a “q” needs a “u” beside it. She revised her “word” to “atqup” and I sounded it out but said that it wasn’t actually a word. Reid protested that it had an “a” – I’ve told her before that words need a vowel – and I agreed that she had included both vowels and consonants, which was good, but that letter collections need to also have meaning to be considered words. Reid’s next attempt was “cpa” and I told her that the consonants needed a vowel between them. And got out of the car to check the mail. When I got back in, Reid was delighted to report that “cap” spelled cap. It was a bit of a Eureka moment for her.

It continues to be interesting to me that Reid is very interested in spelling words. Occasionally she’ll agree to sound out words in a story that we’re reading – though she did scam Ken into reading a Fancy Nancy early reader book that I told her she needed to read to me – and she does a good job at decoding the words. She points out more and more words and asks about what the rest of a piece of text has to do with the word that she recognizes. Reid doesn’t, however, exhibit any inclination to learn to read. I feel a bit like a scientist observing an intriguing animal in the wild. It’s all very cool for a language nut like me.

Happy (belated) Robbie Burns Day

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

On Sunday night, we had a scaled-down version of a traditional Robbie Burns dinner. Notably absent were the guests, toast to the lassies, Ode to the Haggis and (gasp) whiskey. We did manage haggis, mash-ed tatties, and bash-ed neeps. I added carrots to the turnips to make them less bitter and also broccoli because it seems dinner needs actual vegetables to go with the meat and starches. I also recited the Selkirk Grace*. Reid was less-than-impressed my old Scots accent.

As we sat down to our feast, Reid noticed the mashed turnip-carrot mixture and declared her opposition to mashed carrots. Fortunately for her, I’d kept some unmashed for Ken, who disregards tradition in favour of personal taste. Reid didn’t mind the carrots but asked resentfully why she had to eat the turnips. Before I could explain the dish was steeped in tradition, a response I was sure would resonate with Reid, Ken answered, “Because I do,” in a tone that brooked no argument. It’s good when your husband has your back ;+)

I’m not sure why Ken and I didn’t have a bit of the “water of life” with our supper. It seems like the least I can do for a guy who eats turnips once each year to satisfy my whims.

*Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat and canna eat
Some would eat that want it
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 2010 in our house

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Last night, Reid and I played a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was Snow White, Reid was the Seven Dwarfs and the scene was set in that period where Snow White is taking care of all those guys who don’t really appreciate what she does for them. In our variation, the dwarfs have different names and all represent facets of one kid throughout a single night.

At bedtime,  Reid, in the guise of a dwarf, was Tricky, pretending that she fell asleep in the car so that someone would carry her up to bed. Next, she was Pouty because she really doesn’t like to lay there in the dark all alone. Then, she was Smarty and remembered that we should turn on the humidifier. At this point, Prince Charming, aka Ken, made an unusual early appearance to fill the reservoir.

Throughout the supposed-to-be-sleeping part of the night, Reid, I mean the dwarfs, were by turns: Sniffly, Sneezy and Wakey. Poor Snow White had a lot of trouble sleeping while tending to these demanding fellows.

No one was surprised that the dwarf who emerged from Reid’s room this morning answered to Sleepy and had exceedingly dark circles under her eyes.

Snow White, being a good caregiver, thought of keeping the dwarfs home from school today but this is Field Trip Day! and who wants to miss school when the rest of the kids will be going to the Canadian Children’s Museum?

Now Snow White (that’s still me) is waiting for the poisoned apple that will bring uninterrupted sleep. I know I can depend on Prince Charming to wake me at the right time. If only my brain and body would quieten itself to sleep without the apple. Until then, I tasting apples left, right and centre.

Wish my poor little dwarfs good health, won’t you. She has had enough colds already this winter.

And, by the way, why is the plural of dwarf not dwarfs? Seems wrong to me.

Seeing things from Reid’s perspective

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

I took Reid to Melonheads hair salon for kids on Monday night. She’s been resisting having her hair cut because she wants her hair to be long for Amanda and Nam’s wedding in May. I finally persuaded Reid that a trim was necessary since it was getting more and more difficult to brush her hair. As always, Reid didn’t make a peep as her hair was washed, combed and cut. I can’t offer a police motorcycle for her to sit in at home but I do let Reid watch videos – especially Sesame Street on YouTube – or read when I brush her hair. Still, there is carrying on. After the trim, the hairstylist sprayed sparkle hairspray on Reid’s hair. Reid looked at herself and said, “Look, Mama, it’s like I have fireworks on my head.” And she was right. The way the light glinted off the sparkles was a lot like the little handheld fireworks. I’d never noticed that before.

On Tuesday morning, the biggest-ever snowflakes were falling as we went to Reid’s school. Reid was chattering about the “bits of fluff” and then she was silent as she stood, mouth agape, trying to catch some snowflakes on her tongue. It slowed us down but put a big smile on Reid’s face. It’s as important to take the time to taste the snowflakes as it is to smell the flowers, you know.

On Wednesday morning, I was combing Reid’s hair while she watched the Muppets singing Bohemian Rhapsody on YouTube. Ken was brushing his teeth but came out of the bathroom to ask, “What are you listening to?!” His voice conveyed surprise and disbelief. My matter-of-fact “the muppets are singing Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t allay either. He had to watch for himself. It really is something to see, especially the part where Animal improvises on the “Mama” passage. Reid liked the song and I liked introducing her to it.

Oops, I just missed my bus stop. Writing is too distracting.

Staycation – Weekend 2

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Saturday was an exciting day for us for a number of reasons. Amanda came with us to watch Reid at hockey – her first-ever spectator who didn’t live with her. Reid was very pleased and seemed to work a bit harder to make it worth Amanda’s having to get up earlier than on a work day. I’d mentioned to one of Reid’s coaches that he should feel free to hurry he along; Reid tends to be pretty casual in the drills that seem to require speed. She told us in the dressing room that the coach helped her remember to go fast if she forget. We took Ken home and then just us ladies went out to Cora’s for breakfast. A number of people on Twitter were lamenting not going out for brunch very often since they have kids. I think that the main issue must be kids in the plural since Reid and I do brunch quite often, mostly by ourselves. Once brunch was finished, we all went to the bridal store to choose a flower girl dress for Reid to wear in Amanda and Nam’s wedding. Let me tell you that Reid is not one of those hockey players who is afraid to enjoy her feminine side! She loved the twirly dress and looking at herself in the mirror. Even better, Reid and Amanda both preferred the same dress of the two Amanda had chosen for trying on. We hurried across town to return Amanda to her neighbourhood, but not house, because we didn’t have the time.

We got to Kindermusik with one minute to spare – not ideal but better than some weeks. M had handed out the glockenspiels last week (Reid is sort of repeating this session as it turns out that her last teacher didn’t follow the curriculum.) and the kids did a lovely job on their first couple of songs. I love, love, love the sound of the glockenspiels. Their sounds are quintessentially children’s music for me.M had made a musical staff on the floor and the kids laid plates in the appropiate space to make the C note. Once Reid masters this note, she’ll know how to read music better than I do. We went right home after Kindermusik, visited with Ken a bit since even guys who are preparing for major tests deserve a break. Reid invited him to colour with her in her big Tinkerbell colouring book that she received at Christmas. It’s a good size fo two people to colour on the same picture but the pictures don’t lend themselves to lots of colours. I’d give it one thumb down but they seemed okay with it.

I was hoping that Reid would let me take her to the library, a destination that she and Ken go to often but I wasn’t successful. I let her take more books out then him, even. Le sigh. We went to the Splash Wave pool instead. It’s a funny place in terms of pricing. Kids are $5.35 and adults are $7.55 but family admission is $5.35 per person. So glad I read all the way down the price list and introduced us as a two-person family. Thinking about it now, I wish I’d sung, “We are fam-i-ly.” I know it’ll be in my head for days, I should have shared it with others. ;+) I decided that we should stay for a minimum of 107.5 minutes since that seeemed a good way to get value for money for our outing. I think Poppa Howard would have been proud of this train of thought. We spent only 20 minutes in the waves. Reid was, for the first time, tall enough to go down the big slide (from the 2nd story) and she wanted to make up for all of the times that she has asked to go but wasn’t allowed. I went down each time, too. Some parents waited at the end of the landing pool but Reid and I have fun standing in line, too. Reid took pity on me and took me to the “hot” pools – which are warm at best – a couple of times as well. Not that I whined to go to them. I’m not like that. After 111 minutes in the pools, we scurried back to our locker to get dressed and then pick up a rotisserie chicken for supper.

Sunday was a day that more deserved the “staycation” appellation since we went to the Museum of Science and Technology in the morning and Cosmic Adventures in the afternoon. We met a friend, Annie, and her two kids at the Science and Tech museum. I’d read about the new exhibit – Hungry Planet  – and was keen to see it. It turned out to be very large photographs, maybe 4 feet by 6 feet in size, of what each of the 25 families in 21 countries ate in a week. The sheer amount of food in the western countries versus other countries was striking as were the differences between the countries where packaged and processed foods dominated rather than those where grains and legumes were common. The kids were less interested in the pictures than I was, but they were able to notice the differences when we mentioned what to look for. After the Hungry Planet, we went to see the area with flashing lights. I think it might be about telecommunications but we were there for the flashing lights, slide and buttons that could be pushed. We made our way to the Crazy Kitchen, because the kids love it. Not me. I don’t like feeling queasy or like I’m going to fall over. Annie had brought some cookies to share for snack that were sugar- and gluten-free (except for the chocolate chips) and they were yummy! We wrapped up our visit with a walk-through of the train hall. I managed to restrain myself from pointing out the clock that used to be in Tilbury but I thought of it and it made me feel a bit homesick for southwestern Ontario.

We got home in time to eat our lunch and prepare for a visit from M, one of Reid’s school friends. M’s mom said that she’d drop by between 1 and 1:30 but didn’t arrive until 2:00. Reid did a pretty good job of waiting, considering that she is 5.5 years old. She dug out a clock for learning to tell time and we used it to help with her expectations. I bundled the girls up and we went straight to Cosmic Adventures. I’d been so excited to take my laptop but the wifi wouldn’t work for me. I restarted my computer a couple of times, which usually solves that problem, but was too embarassed at my lack of geekiness to ask for help. Next time I will. I had time to start writing this story, though, and time to wonder if there is there anything more pointless than responding to a kid calling, “Mommy!” in an indoor playground the size of Cosmic Adventures? Reid usually calls me “Mama” and that isn’t quite so common but with all of the francophone kids yelling “Maman!” it’s not unique enough that I don’t look up when I’m not being called.

M’s mom had sent some money and said the M would want a drink and something to eat. We usually treat Reid to a slushie to share with her buddy but not food. Since M had heard her mom, though, I decided I’d best pony up for a snack. The girls decided on a plate of nachos. I still made them share the slushie and paid a bit more than $10. I guess I’m cheap but that seems extreme when admission is $14.69 per kid after tax. We didn’t even stay 146 minutes! The girls were hanging out at my table after only an hour and a half. I made them run another 15 minutes and then we came back home to play with Reid’s doll house. They ended up colouring and it was a quiet way to end a playdate that started in a very loud environment.

And, now, it’s done. Or almost. Ken has his oral interaction test on Tuesday at 11:00. You’ll all want to send positive, French vibes his way at that time. We won’t know the results for a few days. I’m sure the days will seem to Ken to last 33 hours or so. Waiting is even harder than studying in some ways, since everything is out of your hands. So, if you want to wish him well, feel free but please don’t ask how he did. It makes the waiting worse.

Sleep stories

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Reid woke up on Saturday morning and asked, “Why aren’t you hugging me?” And then, once I’d snuggled closer, “Is there an ‘a’ in ‘cat’?” Her eyes hadn’t been open even 60 seconds and she needed to know. I didn’t ask why that question was so pressing.

On Sunday morning, Reid recounted a dream she’d had in which she woke up to Santa trying to kiss her while she was trying to sleep. She said that she rolled over but Rudolph was lying on her other side. She said that she then turned upside down – which is something she does somewhat routinely – but Donder was there on one side and Mrs Claus was on the other. Then, Reid added that Ken was dressed up as Santa but she didn’t know it. She shared a bunch more details but I suspect at a certain point, Reid was embellishing. Since she was telling about her dream and not her day, I didn’t try to tell what was fact or fiction.

At some time right around zero-dark-thirty this morning, Reid woke up and called for me. Once she’d found me, she wanted to know: “What time is the middle of the night?” It took all of the computational power of my nearly-still-sleeping brain to add 5.5 hours to Reid’s 7:30 bed time. Reid sighed a “oh” and promptly fell back asleep. Or continued sleeping. She is a very coherent sleep talker. It’s hard to tell.

ETA:  Aunt Karin tells me that my Aunt Nancy can remember lots of details from her dreams and that I may have been unfairly suspicious.

Faking it

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

After Reid’s swimming class last week, I said, “Reid, if you fall asleep on the way home and stay asleep when we get there, I’ll give you a dollar.” Ken heard me and said, “If you do that, I’ll give you two dollars.” Reid confirmed, “You’ll give me three dollars if I go to sleep,” and we told her that she had understood us correctly. I’ve never given Reid money to perform a task. I try not to offer rewards since I need for her to do what she should independent of what bribe I can access. And that Tuesday night, I was joking. It was a safe thing to offer money for because it wasn’t going to happen.

Except. Except that Reid pretended to fall asleep when we turned onto our street. When we got home, I told her that I knew she was awake but would carry her in if she would come to my side of the car. Reid was shocked I could tell that she was faking and wanted her money anyway. This was my first warning of things to come. I said that I would pretend that she was asleep and it would be okay. I carried Reid upstairs and laid her on her bed and left the room. Her pretending to be asleep and me pretending that I was fooled.

Until Reid realized that Princess was not beside her. While we looked, Reid was crying. I told her that we’d find Princess. But that wasn’t why Reid was crying. The jig was up. Neither of us could fake our part – Reid was obviously awake and she saw her $3 disappear. My explanation that Daddy and I had been joking, had never expected her to stay asleep went over like a lead balloon. I ended up promising to give Reid the $3 and never to make such an un-funny joke again.

Fast-forward to this week… We never discussed falling asleep and certainly no money was discussed. Once again, Reid feigned sleep just before we got home. I carried her up to bed and took her coat off, all while she faked sleep. It seemed like she *might* fall asleep for real if I left her alone. Ten minutes later, Reid came downstairs with a look of reproach on her face. Apparently she thought I’d climb into bed with her, even though she was already fake-asleep. We trouped upstairs and she fell asleep for real. I was glad we didn’t have to have another discussion about sleep bribes.

Not that Reid has remembered to collect her $3 yet.

Happy Birthday, Sulienne

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Reid says, “Bonne fête!”

Imagine us singing “Happy Birthday to you”. Or better yet, imagine Reid singing it since I can’t carry a tune in a basket. Reid’s song includes, “How old are you? Cha cha cha!” I think that she learned the cha cha chas at school. I don’t sing them and neither does Uncle Ken. Did it surprise you that he doesn’t sing them? ;+)

Reid also says, “tyghjkbnmsdgh”, which I think means, “My dad is going to roll his eyes when he realizes that I’m still awake but my mama and wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday on the very day.” We were busy ladies today and had lots of fun but it would have even more fun to have gone to the bridal show with you. Reid would have loved to see the dresses, wedding favours and all that stuff. She’d have tried to talk you into some wild things while I would have just said, “What do you think?” or “Whatever you choose will be lovely.” I’d never try to tell you what to do. Reid gets her bossiness from Uncle Ken, you know.

It’s amazing to me that you are old enough to be going a bridal show but I guess you must be. You probably had to wait until this birthday to be “legal”. I remember going to Detroit when I turned 21. I guess it was like that for you, too. In my head, though, you’re that round-bellied toddler that clung to me during swimming class, the little girl who came to highschool with me one day (though I can’t remember how I managed to get permission for that, thanks to my faulty memory) or maybe that trying-so-hard-to-be-older girl who was a bridesmaid in my wedding. I *know* that you’re a grown woman – or almost – but since I remember you when you were a girl, I’m choosing to ignore it. It’s a strange thing, really, since I enjoy having adult nieces to talk to and hang out with but I am nothing if not strange. But this is supposed to be about you.

Sulienne, we wish you great joy and happiness this year. You are a delight to be with and we treasure the time we spend together. Thanks again for joining us at the Nutcracker and if you have anything else on your life list that would be suitable for a young girl and an oldish woman, Reid and I are up for it. Uncle Ken tries to avoid ballets but he might be interested in other adventures.

Happy Birthday!

Happy (belated) Birthday, John

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I should have made a New Year’s resolution to update the perpetual calendar I have at home with the one at the office. Somehow, they’re out of synch and I only  realized on Thursday that I missed John’s birthday. This is it, though, I’m going to be on time after this one. I hope. All this to say, “Happy Belated Birthday, John”.

Around our house, John is something of a rock star because he has Big Trucks. And Reid is a girl who likes big trucks. I’m in awe of anyone who can back up without looking in the rear view mirror. Ken may or may not be impressed by the backing up but I think he secretly likes the big trucks, too.

Reid asks me when she can go for another ride in John’s truck and look at all of the trailers at the shop. I need to work on my organizational skills, though, since we didn’t manage it in December. If the hauling stuff from place to place stops being fun, maybe John can start offering kids truck-themed birthday parties. He can lead tours through the stop (no safety hazards there ;+), break them into small groups for tours of the truck and a variety of trailers and each could pull the cord that blows the horn (I’m sure the neighbours won’t mind). Pam could bake truck-shaped birthday cakes and Donald could tie balloons to look like trucks. It’d be great, I tell you.

But not as great as I hope the year to come will be for you. I hope the next year is even better than a truck-shaped balloon and cake. Enjoy and have fun!

Spelling lesson

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Reid was trying to spell out “I love you” in finger spelling on the way to school yesterday. She remembered how to spell and form the letters I, L, O but needed help remembering how to form the V and E was forgotten because it is silent. I showed her the Y, O and U as well, since we were at a traffic light and I had a free hand. Reid asked for the W, though, and it took quite a bit of convincing before she believed me that there is no W in “you”. Finally, I had to resort to, “You’ll have to trust me on this one.” It sounds better than, “Because I’m the mom,” but it amounts to the same thing.

It made me think of a story Aunt Karin told me about when Reid was in Wheatley over the summer and Aunt Karin and Uncle Dave took her to Wheatley. Reid wanted them to play “I Spy” and Reid spied something that started with the letter Y. Uncle Dave and Aunt Karin guessed everything that the could possibly think of – there aren’t many words that start with Y – but didn’t guess whatever it was that Reid had spied and she wouldn’t tell them the answer, pleading for them to guess again. Aunt Karin finally said, “water” and Reid was delighted to say that that was the right answer. Aunt Karin explained what sound Y makes at the beginning of the word and they were all happy. Or maybe Reid was happy and the others were relieved that the game was over.