Archive for the ‘Barbara’s family’ Category

Toronto is for ladies

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Despite her initial confusion over why only ladies were invited, Reid very much enjoyed the ladies weekend  in Toronto. A girl who is 5-and-a-half gets some perks when she hangs out with ladies who are old enough to have stopped keeping track of their age in fractions. Reid and I got a late start, thanks to her teachers scheduling the Valentine’s party for the afternoon. The others didn’t wait as long as they might have, though, thanks to killer traffic between Kitchener-Waterloo and the hotel. Not that I’m glad they were stuck in traffic. We finally rolled in around 10 pm, Reid asleep and me happily listening to a book-on-cd and found Aunt Karin waiting out front for us. Aunt Karin carried Reid in and I parked the car. By the time I got to our hotel room, Reid was snuggled onto the bed with Aunt Karin and Auntie M. Hooray! Except that she was watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and was most determinedly not falling back to sleep. Reid managed to stay awake until the Canadian team entered the stadium. I didn’t look at the clock. I didn’t want to know in case Ken asked me.

On Saturday morning we went to King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs at the Art Gallery of Ontario. LeeLee (aka Kailee) met us there, once we’d established that the Royal Ontario Museum was not the right location. It would have made for a much longer trip from her apartment if she’d gone to the ROM first. Thanks to my having bought a membership, we got to go to the shorter admission line. I *love* being a member of museums for this sort of perk. We had tickets for 10:00, which was the second time slot available. It was exceedingly crowded, even at that early hour. We basically shuffled along in a great line from artifact to artifact. The people who’d rented the audio guides acted as speed bumps even at the slow pace we were moving since they had a set piece of text to hear and were impervious to the pressure to shuffle along like the rest of us. We saw many beautiful things, including a coffin for a cat and a commode with a stone seat but, from Reid’s perspective, the free admission reflected what should have been charged. There were too many people and it was too difficult to see the artifacts, have a discussion and move on to the next. I suspect that the others who didn’t have a small one in tow enjoyed it more. I did like what I saw and was glad that Reid is an experienced museum-goer who behaved well in the crowd but she was definitely eager to move through rather quickly. Being the first of group to finish had the benefit of giving Reid and me lots of time in the gift shop to try on a variety of Egyptian headress – done in cloth and sequins and another line in cardboard. For some reason, one of the clerks said we weren’t allowed to use the flash on the camera. It struck me as beyond silly but since we were playing with stock with no intention of purchasing anything, we complied. After a brief interlude of colouring with Brianna, Reid and I headed downstairs to “Off the Wall”, the kids’ activity area while the others took in a gallery or two. They never mentioned any paintings or other works of art, though, so maybe they all went out for coffee. Reid and I played and I remembered why I like “Off the Wall” so much. The activities are engaging but you don’t end up bringing anything with you, which is always a pleasure when you have enough crafty treasures in your life already.

We had lunch at Jack Astors and then most of the big girls went shopping while Reid, Aunt Karin and I went back to the hotel for a swim and to get my car. Reid would have been content to spend the whole day at the hotel pool. She is like that. We met back up with everyone in time to walk to Reid’s and my favourite Ethiopian restaurant, whose name I don’t know, to eat foods from the sampler-type vegetarian platter, whose names I also don’t know. Reid was over the moon in love with some green lentil stew and my taste buds were all around happy. One day we’ll have to try one of the Ethiopian restaurants in Ottawa. Reid and I returned to the hotel right after supper, with an expensive detour on the 407 when I took the exit before ours. There’s nothing quite like knowing you’re making a $20 mistake but not being able to stop what you’ve set in motion.

On Sunday morning we ate our breakfast (I love the Holiday Inn Express breakfasts, by the way) and then Reid and I went swimming again, with Aunt Karin along for moral support. Reid demonstrated her sideways way of entering the water – a skill she is learning for swimming the session, though I don’t know what good it will do her – and Aunt Karin tossed her into the water a couple times and then encouraged her to jump in and do cannon balls to splash me all by herself.

We went to the Free Times Café for their amazing Bella Did Ya Eat breakfast buffet. The blintzes and salmon and lox and all the rest are so yummy that one doesn’t notice the lack of bacon, ham, etc. There was a Yiddish folk singer in the back room where we were sitting – where you should always try to sit – and Reid even got to participate in one of the songs. The singer explained her songs in English and the fact none of us speaks Yiddish was no barrier in the least. The rhythm and spirit of the songs transcended language. We shopped a bit on Bloor Street and then went to see LeeLee’s new apartment, with a stop at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky shop along the way. Red Lobster sang it’s siren song and so we went there for an early supper before getting on our respective roads home. Reid can eat an amazing quantity of shrimp! It’s probably a good idea, from my wallet’s point of view, that I take her out for this type of food only when we’re on vacation. Not that Reid doesn’t point out the Red Lobster we see in Ottawa.

Reid cried for nearly 10 minutes when we left the other ladies. She was tired and sad, an awful mix. We made good time on our way back to Ottawa and the drive reminded me why I like to meet mid-way between Ottawa and Windsor.

Explaining “girls only” weekend

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Reid and Ken were talking this morning about going to Toronto and Ken pointed out that he wasn’t going with us because it was a “girls only” weekend. Reid was puzzled and wanted to know why boys weren’t allowed. I had to admit that I didn’t have a reason exactly but that Melissa had sent the first invitation and she had said it was for the Dundas ladies. Reid asked if we’d see Dylan and I said we wouldn’t because he isn’t a girl. Reid also asked about Melissa but she has other plans. Reid wondered, then, who *would* be there. I told her we’d see Aunt Pam, Aunt Karin, Auntie M, Brianna and Lee-Lee (aka Kailee). I said that since it would be only girls, maybe we’d paint our toe nails. To which Reid replied, ” We can dress fancy and go to the grocery store a lot. That’s what girls do.” I’m not sure whether we have to wear our fancy clothes to the grocery store or if those are two separate activities. Reid also suggested that we might go out for tea. I’m not sure if these activities appeal to any of the other ladies who will be in Toronto this weekend but if we run out of other ideas, Reid seems to have some ideas of her own.

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.

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.

Happy Birthday, Kathleen

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Hey Kackle,
I thought about you lots on your birthday, even told Reid it was your birthday and we stuck a birthday cake sticker on the calendar for you. Sadly, I didn’t get myself organized to write to you. I’m not sure if this email will count as extending the “Festival of Kathleen” but here’s the message that I wish I’d sent last week:

Dear Kathleen,
Happy Birthday! In your honour, I cooked a turkey dinner and even made a cherry pie for dessert. It would have been better to have had peanut butter sandwiches with you.

We talk about you lots. Reid speaks of being in your wedding often, she was very honoured to be chosen and she still feels that way – though, I suppose that she wouldn’t use that word. She also likes to remember the weekend we spent with you in North Bay last spring. We’ll need to get together way more often this year.

I, of course, have many stories to tell about you. One of my favourites are how you listened to your dad when he told you to shave the wispy hairs that grow along your hairline. I like this because I was that gullible, too, and my dad was just like yours and also that you laugh about the story when someone mentions it. I hope that I have that attitude, too. I also like to think about how difficult it was to get you to keep your clothes on when you were very young. (I’d have to ask Chris if it’s still a problem ;+) You were a bare, brown and smiling little kid. Okay, I’ll confess as an oh-so-cool teenager, it was sometimes embarrassing to have my friends come to the farm and see you in your altogether but it was character building for me. The memories are worth the embarrassment.

I hope that this will be your greatest year yet and that we’re able to share many adventures during it.

Riding the rails play-by-play

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

6:31 – We’re on the train, in our seats with the tables open in front of us. Reid has many questions, about how I knew what seats we were in, what the leather bits at the top of the seats are for (we called them antimacassars when I worked at Woodside National Historic Site but I don’t know if the Victorian term has stuck), whether the engineer wears a seatbelt and if so what if s/he needs to go to the bathroom. Reid was pleased that she has the window seat so that she can see out and so that she doesn’t have to sit beside someone she doesn’t know. She added that she does like to look at old people. I’m hoping the 50ish man across from us doesn’t realize she meant him when she said this.
6:40 I asked Reid if she could sing in a whisper. The look she gave me was equal parts surprise, insult and confusion. I explained that some people were probably trying to go back to sleep and mystification took over. Sleep, now? The adventure is just beginning!
6:46 And we’re off. The car we’re on is mostly full.
6:58 Reid has found markers in her backpack and is turning her garbage bag into a hand puppet.
7:01 The snack lady stopped by for a visit. We bought a chocolate chip-banana muffin (it almost seems healthy with the banana) and an apple juice. When the hand puppet is finished, the snack will provide a diversion. The man behind us chose a bag of chips. It seems a much less healthy choice for this time of the morning but I remember reading that people should think of muffins as “fat sponges” and maybe it’s no better than the chips.
7:17 Reid asks, “Mama, can I watch your iPod.” I remind her that she meant to say “may I” and she rephrases her question.
7:18 Before I’ve had a chance to take my iPod from my pocket, Reid is asking where “the” iPod is. Having been a student of French, I’m aware of the importance of articles. It’s a family resource now, I guess.
7:55 I convinced Reid to pause the video and come to the bathroom. Her bladder is much stronger than mine.
9:36 After Dora, Diego, Super Why and Sesame Street podcasts, the iPod has outlived its attraction. Its now time for Reid to recline her chair, adjust the tables, rinse and repeat.
10:43 Time for Princess to have a nap. Reid says she is going to have one, too, and I’m afraid she will. We’re too close to Toronto for her to sleep and awake refreshed. She’ll be grumpy if she falls asleep and I won’t be able to carry her and our bags.
11:11 We calculate that we have 15 minutes before our train is scheduled to arrive.
11:13 Reid hits the wall. When I refuse to let her change the rules of I Spy in the middle of my turn, she starts to cry.
11:18 I’m banned from playing again for seven months. Reid doesn’t know all of the months in order consequently, my punishment doesn’t include January, February, March, April, May or September. Next we’ll be talking about briar patches.
11:26 On time arrival in Toronto. Hooray.
11:36 Veggie burger for me, original for Reid, fries for both of us from Harvey’s. The 5-minute wait for a veggie burger dragged into 10. I complained and ended up with a free meal. We had to hurry to catch our train I would have rather paid and had my food in 5 minutes.
12:45 Nap time. Please, please, please.
1:13 Reid asks to sit on my lap
1:16 Must. Pee. Now. I thought she was faking but I don’t play Russian roulette.
1:21 Start of 15 snuggly minutes. No sleep but actual rest.
3:05 Reid has made friends with the 11-month-old girl in the seat in front of us. They’re non-napping comrades. We’re almost to Chatham and I am looking very forward to seeing Melissa and her boys.
3:31 We made it safely to Chatham. Now for the craziness that is my side of the family.

Why we’re going back to the Great Wolf Lodge again this year

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Reid and I were talking last night about how in only 6 days, we’ll be at the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls. She said:

The water slides are fun. The storytelling tree is fun. You can be noisy and the staff won’t mind. It’s the kind of place you’re supposed to be noisy. And the decorations are cool.

Reid returned to the subject of being noisy at the Great Wolf Lodge and I agreed, with only a small caution about not being *too* noisy but she is correct. It’s a family-oriented hotel without doubt. For an adult, the decorations might sometimes slide from “cool” into “kitch” but for a kid, the animal silhouettes on light shades, the animated forest creatures on the wall over the fireplace and all the rest are a non-stop delight. Once we add in people from Wheatley and Leamington, it’s obvious that the Great Wolf Lodge is a great place to be.

For the record, Reid also knows that it is a convenient place to stay. She told her teacher that it’s half way between where her aunt lives and where we do and so it’s a good place for us to go. This is proof, to me, that she is always listening since I’m pretty sure that I’ve said something similar myself.

Now if only the Great Wolf Lodge would hire Reid to be write advertisements for why people should go there… We’d take payment in free nights lodging.

First day of Senior Kindergarten

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Reid was a bit trepidatious as we left for school yesterday but she didn’t say anything outright and neither did I. After the obligatory photos of Reid leaving the house, Aunt Pam drove us to school and I took a couple more pics of Reid going inside. We walked to Reid’s classroom – the same one as last year – and she asked me to walk in front while she hid behind me. This made me remember a middle of the night that I’d had. I leaned down and reminded her of how she’d been worried on her first day of junior kindergarten and then told her that there would be new kids or kids who were new to the classroom who might be sad. I asked her if she’d be extra-sweet to those kids. Reid seemed to straighten her shoulders and went into the classroom.

N (her teacher) greeted Reid enthusiastically and Reid was drawn in. We went to Reid’s cubby and put her things away. When Reid tried to put on her indoor shoes, they didn’t fit. Those same shoes that I bought in July, that were a bit loose, seem to have shrunk while sitting on the table waiting for school to start. Lucky for me, her teacher decided to waive the “inside shoes” rule just for the day. I had to ask Reid for a kiss when we went back to the main part of the classroom or she would have otherwise wandered off to play at one of the tables.

I had to wait about an hour for a group meeting with the principal. I’m pretty sure I was the only parent of a Senior Kindergarten kid to stay. The mom of one of Reid’s friends asked me why I was staying and I had to answer that I’m a bit of an overachiever. I’m glad that I attended as the principal covered some topics that I’d have learned about eventually but not before wondering what was happening for a while.

Reid was home from school and playing outside with the neighbour kids by the time I got home. She volunteered very little about her day, even when I asked leading questions. Some days Reid will talk and talk about something but she usually keeps her school life to herself. Her first day of senior kindergarten was no exception.

This morning I offered her the chance to spend the day with Grandma Joyce, Aunt Pam and Brianna instead of going to school. Reid refused, saying that she missed N. I’m hoping that this enthusiasm for school lasts. (Last year’s troubles are still fresh in my mind, though Reid didn’t mention them.)