Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

Christmas comes early to Ottawa

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

We’ve had a couple periods of heavy snow and a few days worth of light snow and flurries here in Ottawa but these aren’t the only signs that Christmas is just around the corner. Reid and took part in our first Christmas activity last Tuesday when she got her picture taken with Santa and then on Saturday we attended Santa’s Parade of Lights in the Orleans part of Ottawa. I’d heard that the Help Santa Toy Parade (held downtown) was disappointing because of the low number of floats compared to minivans with signs on them and was a bit worried what Reid would think of her first-ever parade. (I don’t think we should count our experience 2 years when we waited in the bitterly cold weather for 45 minutes before abandonning the parade route without having seen a single float or having heard even a note from a marching band.

The temperature on Saturday seemed a good omen, though, hovering around freezing with no rain or snow. We went to Melissa and Peter’s for supper and then headed to the parade route to stand with friends of theirs who went earlier to save us a spot. It’s good to have friends who have friends like that. There was a bit of a scramble to find a place to park since we were later than we’d planned to be but we found a school parking lot. Since I’d decided to bring a stroller for Reid even though she is getting big for it, we were able to travel as fast as Ben’s 7 year old legs could carry him rather being limited by Reid’s speed – or my top speed while carrying her – over the 2 plus kilometres between the van and the meeting spot. We arrived with about 10 minutes to spare. There was a mat on the ground for the bigger kids and Reid sat in her stroller.

There were many floats and contingents from local schools, sports and arts organizations as well as politicians and other folks. There were some bands who marched and a couple who rode on flat bed trailers. There were quite a few fire trucks, historic and new, and there were fire fighters collecting money and toys for charity. I didn’t think to bring a toy but had some change for Reid to dole out. My favourite entrants were the high school volleyball players who played while their net rolled along and the OC Transpo bus that was “dressed up” as Santa Claus. Since the bus is red and white to begin with, the addition of the beard, eyes and hat made for a convincing St. Nick. If you could ignore the size, squareness and the people riding inside, that is. Throughout the parade, people were passing out candy canes and round hard candies. I remember scrambling in the gutter for candies thrown toward the crowd but people handed the treats directly to the kids. Reid must not have looked needy enough or worthy enough because she ended up with only 3 mini candy canes and 1 hard candy (that I wouldn’t let her eat for fear she’d choke, like I did on a cherry candy when I was her age and Roger had to do the Heimlich Manoeuvre to dislodge it). Ben, on the other hand, got enough candies to fill his toque and also a pencil. I was glad that Reid didn’t get more since it means that I don’t have to decide when she can have the treats. I’m lazy, I guess.

On Sunday afternoon, Reid and I joined Melissa, Sarah and Ben for a play called “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. The script followed the same story line of the tv show except Herbie the elf who wanted to be a dentist wasn’t in it, the abominable snowman wasn’t particularly menacing (for which I was glad) and Rudolph’s parents were entirely absent and so I didn’t  have to be angry at them for their failure to nurture his uniqueness. The cast consisted of 3 men and 1 woman from London’s Duffle Bag Theatre, plus 2 boys chosen from the audience to play Santa and Rudolph and a girl who played Vixen. There was a lot of audience participation – we all said “eee” when the smiles of the Christmastown residents (that was us) were mentioned and said, “hohoho” when the actors said, “Santa” and that sort of thing. Reid wasn’t scared at all (unlike at Goldilocks and the Three Canadian Bears) but watched with a bemused but happy expression. The staging of the play was minimalist – just a screen, a chest (the “duffle bag” I suppose) and the imaginations that each of us brought with us. The absence of elaborate scenery, coupled with the super-simple costumes, mainly hats and a red foam nose for Rudolph, wasn’t as overwhelming as the tv show is. Okay, confession time. I find the television version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to be more than a little creepy and I think Rudolph has mange or some other skin condition. Not that I could handle a repeat of trying to watch a Christmas special with commercials in it – the trauma caused by Reid’s incessant questioning on the existence, meaning and role of commercials is still to fresh in my mind. She is such a Treehouse and TV Ontario kid!

After the play, we went into the Canadian Children’s Museum and heard a couple of members of a klesmer band play some songs before going to do the craft for which I had registered everyone. We made lanterns out of balsa wood stars covered with tissue paper that held a small baby food jar and a votive candle. As we left carrying the kids’ works of art, I told Melissa that I was pretty sure that Ken would never allow Reid to light her lantern. Melissa grinned and agreed that Peter would hold similar views. Ken’s reaction didn’t cause me to doubt myself. When he saw the lantern he said, “That looks flammable,” in the sort of tone that made me think maybe I could light the candle in the lantern if I were far from him, Reid and our house but Reid wouldn’t see it. She hasn’t asked about it since Sunday but perhaps it should disappear anyway, eh?

Home again

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

We slept in a bit last Friday, the eagerness to get out of bed and visit of the previous week tempered by the knowledge that we’d be leaving first thing in the morning. As we got up, Reid asked if there would be many people coming for breakfast. Small wonder that she’d expect a crowd, given the number of people at supper the night before or even most nights of her visit. Reid asked if I’d call Uncle Roger to come but he was at work already. She asked about Auntie M – also working, I thought – and then about Danielle – at school. “But I want someone from Uncle Roger’s family to come,” Reid said. Before she could switch to another family, I said that Aunt Karin would be coming over in just a few minutes. Reid was happy with the news and we distracted her with preparations for departure. In the end, we left only 45 minutes after Ken’s proposed departure time. This would be 15 minutes before the time he actually thought we’d leave.

The drive home was less eventful than the drive to Wheatley. Reid seemed to have picked up a bug on Wednesday, or at least she had a fever when we got back that didn’t abate until we were back in Ottawa, but that was all the symptoms she had. She watched part of a video on my laptop, typed and used the basic drawing program – maybe Paint – for a while. We read many books and played babies and doctor and whatever else to pass the time. And we both had a nice, long nap.

We arrived in Ottawa about supper time. Reid wanted to go to her daycare to see her friends but I fibbed and said they’d all be gone. I felt a bit bad but Reid bought it without protest and it *had* been a long time since we pet our kitties … Reid next wondered if we could invite someone to our house for supper. Ken offered a definitive “no” in response to that question. With the exception of a 14 hour overnight stint, he’d been away from home for 17 days. He was eager to be in the (relative) quiet of his own home.

On Saturday, Reid and I went to Ritchie’s Feed and Seed to purchase some vegetable plants. Not all of the seeds we started have come up and, quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure what some of the sprouts are. This an effect of having the neighbour boy’s eager assistance, I guess. Anyway, we bought the following plants: tomato; cauliflower; broccoli and yellow pepper.

On the way home, I heard the radio announcer mention that the route of Ottawa’s Motorcycle Ride for Dad would be passing through our neighbourhood. We parked in the mall parking lot and walked to ask the motorcycle police officer at the intersection when the motorcycles would be by. Waiting half an hour seemed reasonable and we settled onto the grass at the corner. The Ottawa version of the Motorcycle Ride for Dad attracted about 1400 motorcycles and even more riders. It took the better part of an hour for them to pass our corner. Reid stayed interested for the first 25 minutes and then played around me, on me, etc. while I tried to draw her attention to motorcycles with side cars, off road bikes and the deluxe touring motorcycles. There were many motorists who hadn’t figured the Motorcycle Ride for Dad into their plans and ended up stuck for the duration. Only a few got out of their cars to watch. One stressed out mom had to hustle her child up the road to a birthday party on foot. I’m not sure if she abandonned her car or if there was another adult there to drive it.

Just after we got home, B stopped by to ask if we wanted some company. I explained that we were going to work in the backyard but that he was welcome to join us. He joined us for a vigorous weeding session and then Reid and I took him inside to have a pop and play a bit. He painted a picture at the easel. And Reid, to my surprise, resisted the urge to join him. She and I drew our own pictures and eventually Bruno sat at the table to draw a clown. He seemed pleased that I asked him to write his name on it and then I put it on my fridge, after obtaining his permission to do so. After spending some time with the puzzles and toys in the living room, we went out to plant the only decorative plant I allowed myself. Then, I told B that Reid needed her lunch and a nap and we’d see him later. I don’t know if I should have invited him to stay for lunch but my cupboard rivalled Old Mother Hubbard’s after our time away.

We planted the vegetables we’d purchased and also some beet seeds. Reid insisted on planting one small tomato plant before I was quite ready for it. I tried to keep track of it, really I did but by the time we were planting cauliflower in the same part of the bed, it was nowhere to be seen. Sigh.

Ken made and barbecued delicious hamburgers for supper. Reid charmed him into agreeing to a “picnic” at the table in the backyard. Eating outdoors is a real treat for her and, while I could have done without the neighbour’s 90′s alternative rock, for me as well. After supper, Ken cleaned up and Reid and I cleared a strip of dead grass from along the fence for a second garden plot. I planned to add soil on Sunday and plant our homegrown seedlings there.

I planned to do that right up until I rolled over while lying on the floor with Reid at bedtime and the room spun madly. I’d thought my vertigo had passed until that happened but it was clearly back with a vengeance. We spent part of Sunday watching tv (terrible, I know) and reading. Ken built puzzles and played with Reid while I lounged and felt sorry for myself. He followed her to the park, Reid riding her bike part way and Ken carrying it the other part for while in the morning and, in the afternoon, they went to the Aviation Museum.

In the quiet talking time that follows Reid’s nap, she told me that she wanted to go to Wheatley to Grandma Joyce. Apparently the 9 hour car drive of 2 days earlier hadn’t troubled her at all. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that *I* could manage the trip again but our chaffeur might object. It’s always good to be wishing for more time away when you get home. We’ll not have trouble going back.

Spring weekend with Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Ken had a meeting downtown Friday afternoon and so we met at the end of the day and went to get Reid together. Normally, having both of us go in to pick her up is a highlight of Reid’s day. It didn’t work out that way on Friday since one of the teachers (or maybe me) had mentioned that there was a paper that said Uncle Roger was authorized to pick Reid up that day. I’d made arrangements in case Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger were early. Reid had decided it was set in stone and would have preferred to wait for them. We, the second choice pickup team, talked Reid into the car and went off to swimming lessons.

Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger were at our house when we got home. I unstrapped Reid from her car seat and she jumped right out, with none of her usual dilly-dallying. She tossed off some comment about her “favourite people” as she went running to the porch where Grandma Joyce was sitting. Ken and I were left looking at each and coming to terms with our demotion on Reid’s “favourite people” ranking. Grandma and Uncle Roger had collaborated on spaghetti and meat sauce – one of Reid’s favourite meals – and we were able to eat pretty much as soon as we got home. What a wonderful way to start a weekend!

On Saturday, Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger came with us to Kindermusik. It was “bring a friend” day and Reid grinned at the idea of having Uncle Roger as her friend but she didn’t have him accompany her into the classroom. We went to Westboro afterwards. The supposedly fabulous splash pants I bought for Reid last fall were torn again, despite the duct tape reinforcement of all seams as well as the patches. The pair I bought from Loblaws weren’t up to the task of keeping Reid dry, though they didn’t tear at least. I thought I might find something more durable at Mountain Equipment Co-op or Bushtukah. Mountain Equipment Co-op had only one piece rain suits in Reid’s size. While they thought they’d have pants again this week, I couldn’t wait. I did find a great sun hat and a long-sleeved No Zone sun shirt. We went to The Works, a gourmet hamburger restaurant that offers sweet potato fries as a side dish. Mom and I shared a “Ho Hum #2″ burger that came with cheese and bacon. We weren’t brave enough to try the ones topped with peanut butter and banana or with avacado, salsa and cheese and many others with more unusual toppings/combinations. Reid had a Plain Jane burger and Uncle Roger had Black and Greens (blackened chicken on a Caesar salad). Mom and I also split an order of quesadillas but should have stuck with the burger. The quesadilla was good but we didn’t need it, especially since we also had 16 oz milkshakes. After lunch, I went to Bushtukah and found a rain suit with separate pants and coat but no pants-only options. Reid now has a spare coat, in addition to the much-needed pants. She napped on the way home and through a quick visit to Costco so that she was ready to play when we got home.

Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger needed a nap, though, and so Ken, Reid and I went to the library. Reid is like me in that she likes to choose the books that the librarians display on the top of the shelving units or tables. I made a bee-line to the “early readers” section. Both Reid and I had to drop off the books we’d collected before going back for more. When Ken joined us in the childrens’ section, he commented that we had already chosen “many books.” Reid was unfazed; “I like many books,” she said. With 2 extra adults in the house, though, I thought the books would get read. When I left to buy groceries, Reid was snuggled on Grandma Joyce’s lap for stories.

Uncle Roger took Reid to the park to play while I was away. The best one could say about the weather was that it wasn’t cold enough for snow and the rain wasn’t as coming down as hard as it had been. Uncle Roger is a hardy soul, though, and Reid loves to be outside. Reid went zooming down the slide and ended up spread-eagled in the puddle at the bottom. Uncle Roger said that her mittens were completely soaked and he put his gloves Reid. Reid also went on the swings – big kid and baby – and Uncle Roger pushed her up “bery high”. Last year, a gentle push sufficed but I think Reid’s daredevil streak has grown a great deal over the winter. I credit gymnastics but maybe it’s swimming, too, since in both lessons Reid is mastering skills on her own.

On Sunday, Ken and I went out for lunch at Baton Rouge and then to the Museum of Civilization. We went for the Secret Riches – Ancient Peru Unearthed exhibit and also saw the exhibit on Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius and the Canadian Personalities Hall. I’d not taken Reid into any of these exhibits before and probably won’t. It was nice to do this “grown up” thing with Ken. We topped our afternoon with a visit to the downtown Chapters.

Reid had a big nap while we were gone and played with Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger. When we got home, Uncle Roger was reading to Reid in her room. Grandma Joyce was listening through the baby monitor. I went to turn it off and she protested because she wanted to hear how it ended. The story in question was Something Good by Robert Munsch, if you’re looking for a book that will hold the interest of a girl who is nearly 4 and one who is nearly 68. At supper, Grandma Joyce asked if Reid had woken Uncle Roger up. Uncle Roger said that he wasn’t sure. I suggested that maybe he hadn’t been asleep, merely “resting his eyes”. Grandma Joyce said that she could hear his snores, but I defended his honour and offered the option that Roger was only making his fake sleeping seem authentic. Reid reported that there was something different about her bathroom. While we were away, Uncle Roger had installed a motion sensor light switch. It’s very handy for my girl who can barely reach the switch and then only if there isn’t stuff on the counter. The motion sensor light is environmentally friendly, too, of course. The only problem is the brightness during a middle of the night bathroom visit. The bathroom has a light bar with 6, yes, 6! sockets on it and we have a 60 watt bulb in each. It would be perfect for putting on make up, if anyone in my house did such a thing. We don’t, of course. It’s definitely time for lower watt bulbs and/or fewer of them. After supper, Reid showed Uncle Roger how she can ride her bike around block while Ken, Grandma Joyce and I tidied up and then Reid showed how she could do it again. It really is quite a distance for a small girl on a small bike. The whole experience was very different from last Monday when Reid was out in her short-sleeved shirt. Sunday evening required a coat, mitts, and a toque.

On Monday morning, while Ken and I were getting ready for work (have I mentioned how nice it was to have extra adults in the house?) Grandma Joyce went to Reid’s room when she woke up. Reid refused to budge because she was waiting for Uncle Roger. Grandma Joyce went down and Uncle Roger took her place as person-in-charge of walking Reid downstairs for breakfast. As soon as Reid had finished her breakfast, she invited Uncle Roger to go and play. He quickly finished his breakfast, saying “It’s like I’m the big brother you never had,” as he followed Reid from the room. And it’s almost true, when he visits he is pretty much as her disposal as a playmate. I don’t think that big brothers are quite that accommodating. Mine were indulgent but not always at my beck and call, more’s the pity. Ken and I came home to a happy kid and a roast beef supper – quite the contrast to our usual snack at gymnastics and then something fast after the class. We had time for a few stories from the day that Reid, Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger spent together before they had to leave.

I hope that this past weekend’s visit plus a few phone calls and a web cam conversation or two will tide Reid over until we go to Wheatley for Brianna and George’s wedding.

Living in Outer Space at the Canadian Children Museum

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Reid and I went to the Canadian Children’s Museum on Sunday morning. We haven’t been since January, or maybe even December, and we almost missed an interesting exhibit about living in outer space. The exhibit was developed by the Children’s Museum of Memphis for the Youth Museum Exhibit Collective is at the Children’s Museum only until the April 27 before it moves on. There is a sign at the beginning of the exhibit that says that the exhibit is geared to 8-12 year olds and younger children will require adult assistance to understand what was presented. Reid was able to understand what she saw with only a little bit of extra information for me. There were no dangerous small parts or entire modules that were beyond her comprehension.

There was a table with plastic building pieces set up around a model of the International Space Station. Reid was drawn to this table and went back several times as we looked around. She built herself a gun, using 2 tubes and a rectangular piece, and then showed me how to build one for myself. We took turns sitting on the space toilet, lining our “business parts” up using the television screen as our guide. With Reid’s love of “bathroom words” and all things, this was a definite highlight. Reid didn’t find the freeze-dried foods as odd as I did. I don’t know what that says about my cooking. Reid was surprised at the size of the personal quarters assigned to each astronaut. The label mentioned that the astronauts’ personal space was about the size of a closet. In fact, the space as shown was about 50% smaller than Reid’s closet. We read about the astronauts wearing their clothes several days before changing them. The clothes are then put into a vehicle that distintegrates upon re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere. Reid attempted a simulated science experiment in which she wore heavy rubber gloves and little pins that needed to be set up. It was effective at simulating the experience, I think. Reid and I worked together to “dock” the space shuttle to learn that cooperation is required for such manoeuvres. Reid also manipulated the Canadarm using a few different buttons, perhaps like the actual astronauts do. Reid was losing interest before we tried the extra vehicular activity, which seemed to be using small pieces of plastic while wearing snowmobile gloves and the exercise machine wasn’t working. There was also a reading nook with a few reference books that we didn’t stop at because Reid had noticed a globe across the hall and had to go look at “our planet” immediately.

In the studio, those eternally-nice Children’s Museum staff helped us to make an “asteroid belt” – a yellow strip of vinylized paper with a buckle that Reid decorated with star stickers and other shiny bits as well as some space rocks (aquarium gravel if my guess is right). I am a fan of puns and so I liked even the idea of it. Reid also tried a freeze-dried strawberry and some chocolate Astronaut ice cream. She was NOT impressed. I wasn’t surprised since Reid was didn’t like the freeze-dried Gerber Mini Fruits I’ve offered her before. Being the sort of mama that will do anything for her kid, I ate the strawberry and ice cream that Reid rejected. I can report that the strawberry was sort of fuzzy on the tongue and the ice cream was a confusing mix of “tastes like ice cream” and “feels like cotton candy”.

When I talked about the toilet at work, one of the fellows mentioned that Chris Hadfield had spoken about going to the bathroom in space. (TeacherTube is a way cool site, for its own sake. If you have a space nut in your family, you may want to show them the Living and Working in Space document that the Canadian Space Agency developed. It was written a while ago (pre-2005) but I don’t imagine there have been significant changes to daily life aboard the space station.

If you can make it, you should head over to the Canadian Children’s Museum for the Living in Outer Space exhibit.

Changing cultural references

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

The last time we visited the Canada Agricultural Museum, I noticed that I’m not merely “unhip” in adult culture but also in kid’s culture. Reid and I were talking about “Eeyore” and I made a comment about Winnie the Pooh and his friends. I love how the farm has named their donkey after the Winnie the Pooh character. Kids don’t require originality. They prefer the comfort of what is known.

A bit later, another family was enjoying their time with Eeyore. I heard the dad say, “Look, it’s like ‘Donkey‘ from Shrek.” I was tempted to rush over and say, “No, no. It’s ‘Eeyore’ from Winnie the Pooh. Don’t you read A.A. Milne?” But I remembered:
1. It was none of my business.
2. I don’t appreciate parenting tips from strangers.
3. The characters in the A.A. Milne stories have some flaws* that I’m not so keen on. Maybe ‘Donkey’ and Shrek offere a better set of role models.

* At the risk of sounding like I over-analyze things, which I do, of course I offer the following character assessments, with some ideas supplied by Ken:

- Winnie the Pooh: obsessed with honey, greedy and selfish about it, one must wonder if Winnie the Pooh represents an alcoholic;
- Rabbit: perpetually in a bad mood, rude and hostile, Rabbit is one of those “so called friends” that takes much more than they give from a relationship;
- Piglet: timid and small, Piglet relies on others rather than seeking self-sufficiency;
- Eeyore: clearly a character who needs hugs and possibly even psychiatric treatment, his friends are too self-absorbed to offer comfort or counselling;
- Tigger: not such a major player in the original stories, self-aggrandizing – “the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is that I’m the only one”;
- Owl: know-it-all who clearly doesn’t know nearly so much as he claims;
- Kanga and Roo: the only female character, Kanga, is given relevance and completion only by virtue of being mother to Roo; and
- Christopher Robin: if he really loved these stuffed animals, why would he leave them in a forest to molder and rot?

I should go and choose a Winnie the Pooh book to read to Reid tonight.

Museums in Ottawa/Gatineau

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

I’m writing this list to help remember that there are more museums in Ottawa than the 2 or 3 we go to most often. And, of course, to help anyone who is looking for a museum to visit in Ottawa and since it’s day 4 of spring break, there may be more people than usual looking for a diversion. I have written about many of these museums previously.

1. Canadian Children’s Museum – this museum is part of the Museum of Civilization but it is specifically designed for children and their families, as the name indicates
2. Canada Aviation Museum – Ken and Reid like this museum, I am not so keen on it but they look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’d rather stay home
3. Science and Technology Museum – Reid calls this the “train museum” for the locomotive room but there is so much more to see and do
4. Canada Agricultural Museum – spring is a great time to visit “the Farm”, as Reid calls it, to see the baby animals
5. National Gallery of Canada – this is another museum that we haven’t been to since Reid was tiny but it deserves a visit
6. Canadian Museum of Nature – Reid likes the dinosaur room and the area where the kids pretend to be in the bird sanctuary
7. Canadian Museum of Civilization – I’d thought Reid was too young at 3.5 to go into the main part of the Museum of Civilization but we went in January with an older cousin and she hadenjoyed a number of the displays
8. Canadian War Museum – Kids seem to be interested in the military vehicles and uniforms and the museum has activities especially for kids
9. Canada Postal Museum – this museum is also lodged at the Museum of Civilization. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the special activities they have, like the dog sled during Winterlude
10. Bytown Museum – season starts April 5th – we haven’t been to the Bytown since Reid was born. It is on my list for this summer.
11. Cumberland Heritage Village – season starts May 20th – there is usually a special theme for each Sunday during the summer. Our favourite last year was the Firefighter and Protective Services Day in July.
12. Pinhey’s Point Historic Site – season starts May 20th – we’ve never been to Pinhey’s Point but I noticed it had interesting special events last summer and will try to get there this summer
13. Billingsbridge National Historic Site – season starts May 11th – it’s been far too long since I was last at the Billingsbridge Estate. I hope that they’ll still be offering the “tea and tours” this summer. I think Reid will be able to handle both this year.

There are others with lists of 13 things you might find interesting as part of Thursday Thirteen.

Why are the museums in Ottawa all closed on Monday?

Friday, January 18th, 2008

With Grandma, Uncle Roger, Aunt Lisa and Brock in Ottawa for an extended weekend, I ran headlong into an unpleasant hostessing reality. All of the national museums in Ottawa are closed on Monday during the winter. It’s not that scandalous, I suppose, except that it seems silly not to expect tourists to come for a long weekend and want to visit a museum. Ottawa is a cold weather destination, after all, with cross country ski trails in the city, in Gatineau Park and elsewhere in the region. There are many downhill ski resorts close by as well. And, of course, Ottawa is known for Winterlude and the World’s Longest Skateway on the Rideau Canal. People in Winnipeg have lately challenged the latter claim and the January thaw we’re coming out of isn’t helping Ottawa’s claim much. Still and all, Ottawa is city to be visited in the winter. I should note that the Agriculture Museum is as open on Mondays as it is on any day in the winter, which is to say that the barns are open but there are no guides in them and the exhibit space is closed. It’s a good, free diversion but not the sort of thing to which you’d send out-of-town folk. I turned to my handy-dandy entertainment coupon book for inspiration and got lucky. The Diefenbunker is open 7 days a week year round.

On Monday afternoon, Uncle Roger, Aunt Lisa and Brock headed to Carp (pronounced cairp by the locals) and the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum. From all accounts, they each found it an interesting experience. I particularly enjoy this museum as it is unlike other museum I’ve visited (and that includes many museums, military and otherwise). I was surprised that Uncle Roger hadn’t been there before but I guess I don’t think to recommend it as often as I should.

I haven’t been since Reid still rode around in the Baby Bjorn carrier on my front and I’d come, too.

Christmas parties have begun

Friday, December 7th, 2007

We went to the members’ holiday party at the Museum of Civilization last Wednesday night. I don’t think we’ve been to it before and given that registration starts at 5:00 and required a great deal of rushing, I think I know why. I used to be more sensible when I was younger.

We ate our supper at the tables for the cafe. I was all puffy with pride at having found same-day produced cheese curd for Ken. I had purchased some lunchmeat, cheese bread and yogurt along with veggies and fruit. We all had lots to eat while a queue formed next to us for the 5:30 start of activities. There was a giant slab cake that Reid rejected and some cookies, of which she chose one. Reid had eyes only for the jewel-red “juice”, even when I pointed out the marshmallows for hot chocloate. She did choose a marshmallow for the side of her plate. Back at our table, Reid ate her marshmallow immediately and asked for another. I offered her the one from my hot chocolate and licked the hot chocolat off when she said she wanted it plain. I love her that much. Ken took Reid back to the drinks station and they came back with a cup of marshmallows. Reid had wanted to fill the cup but Ken had limited her to 3. Did you know that 5 regular marshmallows have only 110 calories? They’re very Weight Watchers friendly but very bad if you’re diabetic.

Reid told us that her favourite colour was now red, just like Daddy’s. She asked me what my favourite colour was and I said that I still liked yellow. Reid gave me a little smile, almost indulgently, and said that she had liked yellow when she was a junior but now that she is a senior, she likes red. Pity that Mama is so unsophisticated.

Santa was working the crowd, shaking hands and passing out candy canes. He was even offering to hold kids on his lap for pictures. Reid was keen to see Santa and liked speaking with him as well. She had no interest in sitting on his lap, though. I think I got a nice picture of Ken and Reid standing with Santa and that’s more than we’ve had so far.

After we finished our treats, we went into the Children’s Museum/Postal Museum where the activities were happening. The theatre had a sign indicating that a performance would start in only 10 minutes and so we played on the bus a bit before going in. A woman dressed as the Sugar Plum Fairy came onto the stage and invited the kids to sit close to her on the floor. I told Ken that maybe the performance would absolve me of mommy guilt over not arranging to take Reid to the Nutcracker. When the Sugar Plum Fairy opened her book and began reading the story of the Nutcracker, 3 lines at a time in French and then again in English, I started to worry. She was doing her best to involve the children, having them stand straight as the tin soliders, climb into the boxes and that sort of thing. If the reading had been in a single language, we might have stayed but since it wasn’t, I asked Reid if she wanted to leave and she nodded vigorously. As we left, a clear, little boy voice said, “This isn’t a performance. It is a story!” Ken and I agreed whole-heartedly.

We went next to the Canadian Postal Museum, which is also part of the Museum of Civilization, to write a letter to Santa that would be joined to all of the others to make the longest ever letter to Santa. I made sure that the return addresses would be hidden and we began the letter. Mostly, I wrote the letter. Reid doesn’t watch tv with commercials and had little idea what to request when I asked what she would like. She said she wanted a mailbox, since that is what Ken was helping her make while I wrote the letter. Reid agreed when I suggested that she would like some Clifford the Big Red Dog books and I got a distracted nod when I suggested that a toy or puzzle would be nice, too. By the time I was done the letter, Ken had assembled the mailbox and commented that Christmas had come early this year.

On our way to make a tall soldier’s hat – like a Nutcracker might wear – Reid stopped to play in the Egyptian pyramid and Ken tried to fit in it, too. I hadn’t realized how low the ceiling it but then Ken is a foot taller than me. Reid played in a desert-dweller’s tent and was joined by a very expressive elf. Reid ignored the elf for a bit and when she tried to play actively with Reid, Reid came hurrying toward me.

We made Reid’s hat with pieces of foam and those brass fasteners that held together paper files in offices long ago. Reid was happy to push the brass fasteners through the foam but wasn’t so keen to put them where I pointed. The hat is awfully cute but the fasteners aren’t evenly spaced. Take it up with Reid.

We met up with Ken near the boutique, which had a sale for members that he’d managed to resist, and then headed home. As we drove, Reid was talking about seeing Santa and then said, “Santa didn’t give me a present,” in a slightly confused tone. I reminded her that Santa had given her a candy cane. Reid nodded and agreed that he’d given her a little present. I reassured her that Santa would be bringing her a bigger present on Christmas morning. The thought made Reid smile, even though she hadn’t been able to think of anything she wanted other than that mailbox Ken had already given to her. The magic of a visit from Santa alone was enough for her.

National Gallery of Canada’s spider – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007


It’s amazing what shots you can get out the window on the way to work.

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Spookactularly wet Saturday

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

I know as well as the next person that cool, rainy days are to be expected in Ottawa in October. I even know that we need such days to replenish the water table and that in the spring my flower bulbs will be all the better for this fall’s rain. Still, I offered a less than enthusiastic welcome to the rain that visited us last Saturday. We had planned to attend the Members’ Halloween Party at the Agriculture Museum after Kindermusik but Reid wanted to go straight to the party. The thought of all of the rainy day driving was tempting for Ken but he agreed that we could go directly to the party.

We arrived at the Agriculture Museum and I made another pitch to Reid to put on her elephant costume. Having more sense than me, she declined and we left the car with Reid wearing a foam giraffe mask and a coat that looked like one worn by a daycare classmate. We joked that Reid was dressed up as S. The rain was heavy enough and the ground muddy enough that I was soon glad Reid had refused to wear her costume. There were swarms of kids and parents at the registration desk. Many – both kids and adults – were wearing costumes. Based on the selection we saw, I’m expecting many firefighters, Disney Princesses and dogs. By the time we got to the second barn, I’d lost Reid’s mask and Ken went back into the rain to look for it. Reid decorated a pumpkin with foam shapes, cloth flowers and other bits. Glue sticks were provided but weren’t up to the task of sticking things to the cold, damp pumpkins. We used toothpicks and those brass thingmabobs that hold papers together. Ken decided that the pumpkin wouldn’t survive the rest of the visit and so took it back to the car. What a dedicated – and wet – father! I dragged them to a new-to-us building for caramel apples but Reid wanted only a plain piece. I sucked the caramel off one piece and gave it to her. The question is: does that make me a good mother or a bad one?

We carved our jack o’lantern after naptime. Ken took the top off and Reid and I handled the seed and stringy-stuff removal. I felt like I was betraying Poppa Howard’s memory a bit as we threw the seeds out but the last time I roasted the seeds, we threw them out uneaten. Reid had definite ideas about what the jack o’lantern should look like and Ken was able to deliver on her vision to a remarkable extent.

Reid and I ate an early supper and went down to the city’s Halloween party, which had billed itself as “Spooktacular”. It was still raining and cold with darkness thrown in as we got downtown and discovered that the event was happening in the heritage building. There was a long line of people standing on the sidewalk already, though we arrived only 15 minutes after the event started. I had originally though some of the activities would happen inside the main building and so hadn’t put Reid’s coat on. We encountered a bedraggled family as we returned to the car for Reid’s coat. I asked if the activities were worth the wait and they said that the line moved so slowly and the weather was bad enough that they’d given up.

I popped Reid, protesting, into her seat and said it was too yucky out for us. I called Melissa and arranged for us to trick or treat at her house instead. It’s good to have a friend who doesn’t mind if you invite yourself over at 6:00 on a Saturday, especially on a spooktacularly wet Saturday before Halloween.