Archive for the ‘Melissa and Peter’ Category

A scary crew

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Trick or treat

Compared to the two vampires Reid was trick or treating with, her skunk costume didn’t seem so scary. She was a hit with the people at the doors – it helped that most of the other kids were bigger.

Three body parts indeed

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Reid hasn’t brought much home from school since the first few days when she came home with a craft each day. I’m not sure if they are doing work sheets instead of crafts or if Reid is just choosing other activity centres. She has been drawing, though, and last week brought home a picture or herself – or maybe it was me, Reid’s story about who it was changed. The person in question had a large head from which arms and legs protruded. There were two eyes, a mouth and a nose that had two nostrils right were nostrils should be. Okay, maybe more where nostrils are on a pig but, since I don’t think I’ve ever drawn nostrils on a person, I was more than a little impressed.

Reid was in charge of making a birthday card for Sarah and decided to draw stick figures of Sarah, me and herself. These figures had heads and bodies – potato-shaped like me but not so much like Reid and Sarah – as well as the requisite limbs and facial features but no nostrils. The scale was wrong for nostrils. Maybe Reid has an eye for scale already. Maybe I don’t need to continue with my RRSP savings, maybe Reid will be a famous artist before I retire and I’ll live in luxury. Sigh.

Maybe not. Either way, Reid has more artist talent than I do. I’m not even a smidge jealous. I’ll know what to say when the doctor asks me if she draws people with at least 3 body parts next time. I might even bring an example.

Friends – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Friends on a fence

View More Wordless Wednesday Participants, look at my previous Wordless Wednesday entries, or check out the Wordless Wednesday HQ. You’ll find lots of cute babies and kids at 5 Minutes for Mom.

My best friend’s husband came to dinner

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I have been going to Melissa (and Peter’s) house for supper on Thursday night for about 7 years. At first, I watched Ben while Melissa and Peter took Stephen and Sarah to swimming lessons. When Ben was old enough for swimming lessons, I would meet them at the pool and then we’d had have supper back at their house. Once Reid came along, she joined in. We have benefited from many meals and much good company over the years. For a number of reasons, we eat at Melissa’s at lot more often than they come to our house. At first, it was simply that Ken was volunteering at the museum and I was watching Ben. Logistically it is easier for me to bring one child than for Melissa to bring 3 kids and a husband. Ken still dedicates Thursdays to volunteer work.

This Thursday night, though, Peter came for supper by himself because Melissa and the kids were out of town. Reid was quite excited when I told her that Peter would be coming. She asked about the kids and Melissa but nodded at the explanation of their whereabouts and moved onto the business of the seating arrangements. Reid is generally very concerned about who will sit where at the table.Reid seemed pleased – maybe relieved? – that we wouldn’t need any extra chairs. I was surprised at her comments. I thought she liked it when we got out the folding chairs since she usually lobbies to sit on the black one. When I mentioned it to Peter, he said that he was going to look for more kitchen chairs at his house so that we didn’t need to bring in the dining room chairs. And then Reid’s comments made more sense. At Melissa’s, Reid sometimes needs to rearrange chairs so that she has a “kid’s chair” (not a dining room chair) and so that she is sitting next to Sarah.

We had a lovely visit with Peter over supper and, especially, over an extended dessert and after-dinner tea. I never have trouble talking to him but at his house, he has whatever project he was working on when I arrived, as well as the kids, to distract him and I have Melissa and girl talk to distract me. We talked about nothing of great significance, about children, our jobs, the way you do with a good friend. We didn’t really talk much about Melissa.

The only moment of pronounced silence occurred when Reid returned from the bathroom wearing only her t-shirt and my high-heeled, calf-high boots. Of course, the t-shirt didn’t cover nearly enough and the boots were entirely inappropriate. The moment of stunned silence that we adults shared was broken after long milliseconds by Ken and me both saying, “Get your underwear on!” Peter laughed the laugh of a father whose kids have finally, more or less, learned the lesson of modesty but can still remember when they hadn’t.

The whole experience made me think about advice you read in parenting magazines that suggests setting aside time to interact with each of your children one-on-one. It is, I think, good advice for your friends who you see in couples or groups also. Changing the dynamics of a relationship every once and a while can be good for the relationship over the long term.

Westfest – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

She shoots, she scores - or from the picture it looks like she did

Look at the one-handed grip - Tiger Woods had better watch out

It’s a panda bear, not goth!

Chess in the Streets - Reid wanted to play but it didn’t seem the right time to make my brain remember how to play chess

Stephen, Sarah, Ben and Reid on the Bytown Fire Brigade Truck - Frontline Financial raises money for the Canadian Firefighters Monument

View More Wordless Wednesday Participants, look at my previous Wordless Wednesday entries, or
check out the Wordless Wednesday HQ. You’ll find lots of cute babies and kids at 5 Minutes for Mom.

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.

We didn`t need the ark after all

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

We woke to the sound of heavy rain on Saturday. My first two thoughts were: 1. From the sound of that rain, we might need to build an ark and 2. Poor Melissa! What a weekend to be at a Beaver camp. The latter led me back to a conversation we’d had about Reid joining Sparks or Beavers next year. I have no real experience with Girl Guides or Scouts – other than attending a couple Brownie meetings with Janet – but I want Reid to try it out. Aunt Pam’s kids certainly seemed to get a lot out of Scouts. We’ll need to figure out whether Reid is a Spark or Beaver, though.

The rain didn’t affect our plan, though. Reid and I braved the weather to go out for breakfast and then we had work to do in the basement. And we actually did it. I moved some of my stuff up to the guest room that will double as my “space” (office sounds too much like work) and some of Ken’s things down to his “study” (again, I have the problem with work). Ken worked to set up his area and he and I both carried quite a few things up to the garage to be given away. Reid played quite autonomously – something that is happening more and more often, though not always when we need it as much as we did on Saturday.   I learned the word for “to get rid of” last week and I’ve used it quite a few times and will continue to need it, I hope.

Reid and I went to have our picture taken on Sunday morning. She’d sat patiently while I braided her hair and accepted the dress I’d chosen and so I was very much surprised when she began to cry when we sat down on the bench outside the photo studio. She didn’t want her picture taken that day, she said. Well, we tried a couple shots of just me and eventually enticed Reid to join me. We ended up with a couple of good shots but nothing as cool as the pic of Ken and Reid’s silly-faces. But maybe I’m too self-critical.

Bruno stopped by just as we were getting ready to plant potatoes. He helped for awhile even though he was quite concerned they were poisonous because they’d sprouted. I’m not sure if it was my limited French vocabulary or his strong preconception but he wasn’t convinced of the wisdom of the undertaking even at the end. Reid was disappointed when Bruno left only a short visit even though she doesn’t speak directly with him. She asks me (many times), “What are you saying to him?” and also “What did he say to you?” Bruno mostly watches what Reid is doing with casual interest and doesn’t ask what she says. I suspect he grasps much of what I say to her.

I made curry for supper with whole grain rice. My better half was considering a rebellion over the rice, I think, but Reid didn’t object. As she sometimes asks for a ridiculous amount of rice (or spaghetti), I’m trying to switch her to the whole wheat stuff. Since we had made rhubarb mini-cupcakes before supper, we had dessert for a change. I wouldn’t recommend mini-cupcakes to anyone baking with a kid who likes to put the batter in the cups as it’s quite difficult to get just the small amount of batter required into the cup. That said, Reid loved the tinyness of the cupcakes and I think she’ll lobby hard to use them again.

In addition to the mini-cupcakes that Reid and I made together, I baked a pie on Sunday. I mention that it was I who made the pie because Reid had intended to help and had, in fact, helped make the dough. Ken intervened when it became apparent that I was having trouble with the dough and Reid was having trouble getting her turn to roll it. I’ve made pie dough before but it’s been years since then. I never could have imagined a softer dough – it was like brand new Playdough, the real stuff, not homemade. After a few colourful comments and a few attemps, I got the bottom crust in the pieplate and then added my rhubarb. The top crust required the same combination of attitude and effort. And *I* had worried that Reid’s assistance in making the dough itself would lead to tough crusts. The fun continued when I turned the oven off rather than turning it down 25 degrees. The poor pie didn’t come out of the oven until Reid was in bed (by which I mean “lying on the floor” since she has decided to sleep on the floor again).

Of course, the pie coming out of the oven so late meant that we weren’t able to eat any Sunday night. Reid and I addressed this further insult to the pie on Monday morning by eating a piece for breakfast. It’s true! I’m shameless about it. Grandma Joyce knows I eat pie for breakfast. I’m not afraid to tell you I do. (Ken does it rarely, perhaps because I don’t make the kinds of pie he favours often enough.) Reid thoroughly enjoyed her rhubarb pie and tried to exchange a lovely smile for a second piece. My mama guilt kicked in and I told her she had to drink her milk and choose a piece of fruit instead. It only *seems* that Reid makes all of the decisions.

All in all, it was an enjoyable weekend. Really, how could it not be, having started with an hour of snuggling and reading in bed and ending with pie for breakfast? While Saturday morning was very wet, there was only a bit of rain on Sunday, for all the skies threatened. The only rain that fell on us came when we were nearly back from our walk to pick up the photos. All this to say that we didn’t need the ark and had a good time despite cloudy skies.

Fun afternoon with the Funky Mamas

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

We attended the last event of this year’s Dreamweaver children’s series, which is presented by Performing Arts Council of Cumberland Township (P.A.C.C.T.), on Sunday. After Jack Grunsky’s concert in November and Goldilocks and the Three Canadian Bears in February, we had high expectations for the Funky Mamas and we weren’t disappointed. The 5 women delivered a mix of traditional and original songs with energy and flair. They played many different instruments including guitars, a drum, fiddle, ukelele, banjo, and even a washboard and handsaw. Each of the women sang, sharing the lead and harmony in the various songs and taking turns leading the audience in the actions that accompanied the songs. They invited a few kids to come on stage for the last song and as more and more kids came up, they made sure that the children and instruments would be safe but welcomed them all. Reid was one of the few kids who remained in their seats but she liked seeing Sarah and Ben on stage. In fact, Reid was entranced by the performance as a whole. She did dedicate some attention to what Sarah and her friend did, too. When they clapped, Reid clapped. When they sat on the folded-up chair seat – you know how kids do, without opening the fold down seat – Reid sat that way, also. It was sweet, and yet worrisome, to see Reid checking on Sarah and her friend to determine what was socially acceptable. Sweet that she cares and Sarah is generally a good role model but worrisome to see how I am clearly losing influence.

The Funky Mamas are performing in and around Ottawa over the next week, including an appearance at the Mrs Tiggywinkle’s in Westboro on Friday morning. If you live nearby, you should drop by. They’ve also posted a schedule of upcoming appearances around the province. There’s a mailing list to which one could subscribe as well.

On a sadder note, the Dreamweaver folks won’t be putting on any events next year. There’s a new arts centre in the works for east Ottawa but there is enough uncertainty around it that it’s safer to wait. They are looking for volunteers to help plan their 20th season. You can contact them at to offer to help them.

Believe only half of what she tells you

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

While we were snuggling in bed last Thursday morning, Reid told me that she didn’t want to go to Melissa’s for supper. We’re busy most nights and the weekend before had involved Kindermusik and a birthday party on Saturday and Winterlude activities on Sunday and it seemed reasonable to miss dinner. The fact that we had tickets to a concert on Saturday afternoon and to a play on Sunday afternoon figured in my decision. Now, sometimes I schedule too much but this time I thought better of it and agreed that I would call Melissa and say that we wouldn’t be able to come for supper.

When I picked Reid up from daycare that night, we didn’t discuss where we’d go at first. I told Reid that I was taking her to McDonald’s drive-thru for a hamburger on the way home. As I put her into her seat, though, Reid said that she wanted to go to Melissa’s and then she started to cry when I said that we were going home. I reminded her that she had told me she wanted to spend the evening at home but she wasn’t buying what I was selling. Now, it’s a bit rude to cancel a supper engagement on the day of the event but I had to draw the line at reinviting ourselves to supper at 5:00 on the very same night. We headed home and the McDonald’s hamburger wasn’t received as well as I’d expected. Reid was pretty tired and I’m glad we went home but I think another time I’ll take her to Melissa’s.

Why Reid needs to grow just a bit taller

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

As we were getting ready to leave Melissa’s on Thursday, or at least when I was telling Reid it was time to leave Melissa’s on Thursday, I told Reid that she needed to give everyone super-good goodbye hugs and kisses because we wouldn’t be seeing them for 10 days. Reid started giving each of the kids and Melissa and Peter without any prompting a few months ago. Sarah, Melissa and Peter accept them with enthusiasm. I suspect Stephen likes them but can’t let on because he is a very nearly 10 year old boy.

Ben is certainly the least enthusiastic recipient of Reid’s affection. He stoically accepts the hug but avoids the kiss. Last week, Sarah was trying to hold Ben down while Reid tried to kiss him. When I noticed what was happening I made them let him go and explained that people get to decide for themselves what happens to their bodies. This week, Reid was stretching herself as tall as she could, all of the way up on her tiptoes and could only reach the underside of Ben’s chin. She reached up and tried to pull his head down but wasn’t tall enough for that either. Poor kid, she needs to grow just a bit taller. I told Reid she needed to ask Ben if he wanted a kiss and when she did, he said “no”. The answer seemed acceptable to Reid as she gave him a squeeze and went in search of Stephen.