Archive for the ‘Pastimes’ Category

Playing to a hard audience

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Instead of pranking Ken for April Fool’s Day this year, I decided to target Reid. I couldn’t take advantage of ideas relating to switching drawers in the Reid’s dresser or pinning her underwear together since she doesn’t choose her own clothes. I know, I know. At 6, Reid is old enough to do this but my life is easier – and Reid’s room is tidier – when I do the choosing.

What I tried, instead, was serving pizza for breakfast. “Here are your pancakes,” I said as I placed the plate in front of her. “April Fool.” Reid looked at me in a disgusted sort of way and said, “That’s not an April Fool’s.” If she knew about Charles Dickens and Scrooge, she would have said, “Bah humbug!” Well, I sent her off with Cheerios in her thermous and a note on the front that said, “Poisson d’avril. Ajoute du lait.” It said also, “Je t’aime.” Because I do.  We’ll have to see what Reid thought of the prank when she gets home.

Did you pull any pranks today? Did you get fooled?

Disney on Ice – Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Ken, Reid and I took a fieldtrip to Scotiabank Place to watch Disney on Ice – Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey. (It really does feel like a field trip when we have to travel 33 kilometres from home.) I first thought we should consider going to the performance based on the draw of Mickey and Minnie – Reid has been enamoured of these mice for several months – but when we were getting ready, it was the Disney Princesses that determined wardrobe choices. Reid certainly pulled together a great outfit.

All dressed upDressed up and happy

Ken dressed a bit more low key but, when Reid’s cotton candy came with a foam rubber fish hat, he knew how to accessorize. (Which is good, I guess, since we paid $10 for the cotton candy.)

Dad in a fish hat

We watched Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy and Goofy as they travelled on a magical journey to see segments based on The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Peter Pan and Lilo & Stitch. We haven’t seen the movies in question, though we did see The Lion King: the Musical when we were in New York City and Reid has read stories that feature Ariel. Nonetheless, Reid was entranced by the drama on the ice.


Reid was also impressed by the evident effort that the skaters had put into training. In the midst of the first number, she said to me, “They really did practice!” Reid knows about such things thanks to the practice that she has been doing at CanSkate in preparation for the end of year Red Carpet Celebration.

Midway through, I figured out how to use the zoom on my camera and got a few shots of the performance. It was a magical morning.

PiratesSkaters 2Skaters 3Skaters 1

Skiing lessons for Reid and Mama

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

When I first thought about signing Reid up for skiing lessons, I was mostly thinking about her being comfortable on school trips. Multiple trips to a local ski hill seem to be a ritual here in Ottawa for grades 3-8. We know lots of families that ski and it seemed like a basic living-in-Ottawa requirement. Then, I got thinking about what Reid would say if I signed her up for another sport that I can’t do. (I’ve never played ice hockey.) And I thought about how I write over at Losing it in Ottawa about the importance of being active.

And so it was, that Reid and I both started learn-to-ski lessons at Camp Fortune on January 9th. I had talked up my excitement about learning to ski at the same time Reid did and we were both keen on the way to our lessons. Ken came with us to help manage all of the newness. We were headed to the lesson meeting places, when Reid stopped suddenly. She had heard that I was going to the red flag and she was going to the blue flag. Reid had thought, I learned, that we were taking lessons with the same instructor. We coaxed Reid into going over to her class and Ken watched a bit while I hurried over to my own.

Reid’s class spent the first day on the bunny hill and magic carpet lift but made it onto a bigger slope the next week. The small kids ski without poles and also without fear. Reid can be a bit timid sometimes but skiing lessons aren’t one of those times. She learned how to make “pizzas” with her feet (snowplow) and eventually moved on to “french fries” (parallel skis). The kids link their turns to ski across the hill as they ski, just like adults do. Reid’s instructor – a teenage boy – is great with the kids. He’s playful and physically engages them but still keeps them in line. It’s pretty cool to see a line of 8 little kids snaking down the slope behind the instructor and even cooler when you recognize your own kid in the line. As we end our skiing lessons, Reid skis on the same four slopes as I do.

It’s a bit humbling to learn a new physical skill as an adult. I’d skiied a couple of times years ago but now that I’ve had 8 classes (we missed a weekend for Sulienne and Ryan’s wedding), I can’t imagine what I looked like that first day. I’ve learned so much and have so much yet to learn. During the first lesson, they taught us to snowplow and turn and took us to a slope. Okay, it was a gentle one but I was still scared. I fell 3 of the 4 times I got off the chairlift and several times on the hill. Thank goodness for the patience of my instructor and my own stubbornness!

As time went by, we left the two easiest slopes and went onto two slightly more challenging ones. Each was intimidating at first and became less as we practiced. Funny how new challenges work like that.

Last week, I noticed a near-empty slope at the top of a T-lift. Since the slope we were on was crowded and we’d never been on a T-lift, I asked if we could try it. The instructor – a substitute – agreed that we should go. I like to think our regular instructor would have reined in my enthusiasm. The slope was SO steep! It made me queasy to look down. Once you’re up at the top, though, you have to get down and walking looked like it would be as hard as skiing. I skied – scared – and fell several times but it was steep enough that standing back up was easy. At the bottom, I was victorious and humbled. We all headed happily back to our more familiar hill.

On the way, one of the women in my class told me that she thinks she’ll skip lessons next season and just buy a membership. I was surprised. That last hill had convinced me that I need lessons next year. Being able to ski on 4 slopes out of 23 doesn’t seem like a good time to stop.

Reid and I have much to tell Ken at the end of our ski trips. We’re both hoping that he’ll be persuaded to sign up for lessons next year.
It’ll be fun for our whole family!

Waiting for this moment

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Reid and I went skiing on Saturday night. Camp Fortune, the ski hill we go to, has night skiing from 4-10 and it’s 2-for-1 admission on Saturdays. Reid is free because she’s under 7 and I’m bold, so I approached a strange man and asked him to buy the 2-for-1 one deal with me.

We got to the chairlift about 4:30 and soon Reid was looking around, noticing that the sun was beginning to set. For the record, a sunset in the Gatineau hills is a beautiful thing. The lights came on before it was full dark and we admired the shapes and shadows they made and also the effect our goggles had on what we saw. We made several runs as it grew darker and then it was time for supper.

When we came out of the chalet after supper, Reid stopped suddenly and said reverently, “Mama, it’s beautiful.” After a short pause (while she appreciated the lights on the snow in the full dark), she added in a breathless voice, “I’ve been waiting for this moment!” We stood together in the moonlight, admiring the scene for a bit before going to the chairlift. As we rode up, Reid told me that she thought Ken and I should have had our wedding at Camp Fortune – after dark, presumably. Reid told me that she will get married at Camp Fortune and then they’ll go down the ski jumps. I can’t wait for the wedding!

On Sunday, I discovered an online business, called Tail Wags, that sells helmet covers. Reid’s been admiring covers on other people’s helmets and so have I. I decided to get one for Reid to wear in the parade on her last day. Reid had a great deal of difficulty choosing between the princess and the poodle options – I ruled out the bridal helmet cover because it seems unsafe to ski with a veil – but she decided on Fifi the Pink Poodle. It’s ears are so soft that even Clio and Leo forgive Reid for choosing a dog.

Now we just need the rain to stop and the snow to start to have a good last day of skiing lessons.

A Timbit at the 67s game

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Reid’s hockey team – one of the many, many, many Timbit teams in Canada – was invited to play a mini-game between the 2nd and 3rd periods of the Ottawa 67s game on Sunday. Over the weeks between when she found out and the actual game, Reid talked a lot about the “big game on the big ice”. Her excitement was contagious and both Ken and I were looking forward to going. Scotiabank provided 2 tickets for each player but I was sure we’d be able to sit together once I bought my ticket.

We watched the first period and a half of the game and then trooped over to the dressing room to get Reid into her gear. The kids were all lined up and waiting by the time the second period ended. One of the fellows with the 67s organization had them all standing with their hands out, waiting for high fives when the 67s came off the ice. After a short delay due to some fisticuffs, a number of the Kingston Frontenacs and most of the Ottawa 67s gave the Timbits a high five as they went to their dressing rooms. Reid and her teammates looked so small next to the big guys! I wonder if the big players thought about when they were little or if it’s just a part of their routine each week.

The kids hurried onto the ice and began the long skate to the far end while the parents went to the players benches for photos and videos. I resisted the urge to record video while walking but one of the other moms didn’t. The video I took in Scotland convinced me that movement + video = motion sickness.  I did take many photos of the scrimmage and Ken too some video. My Flip video camera is small enough that I can take video while I take photos but it’s nice to have another person (another reason I’m glad Ken is back :+)

The coaches tossed a couple of pucks on the ice and the kids split into two swarms. They all moved from one end of the ice to the other a few times in their 10 minutes of fame. Reid was triumphant as she came off the ice, excited and proud of herself. She wondered if we’d seen her play and we assured her we had.

The 67s Six-O Power Dancers (like cheerleaders) came into the dressing room while the kids were changing. They seemed surprised to see a girl hockey player and made quite a big deal over Reid. Reid was stumped when one of them asked what position she played and I had to say that she played them all for now. I explained to Reid that the players who try and score are Offence and the ones who try to prevent goals are Defence. She decided that she wanted to be Defence. In a later conversation, Ken told Reid that players on defence were called “defencemen” and she countered that the girls would be “defencewomen”. He told her that it was “defencemen” for both. I think Reid and I will just stick with “Defence”, the way that Chairman/Chairwoman has become Chair. It sounds a bit odd at first but it’s equal.

The 67s staff gave each kid a box of Timbits (of course ;+), a medallion with the 67s logo on it  and posters of a few of the 67s players. The kids all seemed to have a swagger in their step as they left the dressing room. Their big game had gone well.

10 Photos for 10-10-10

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Andrea over at Peak inside the Fishbowl inspired The 10photos Project. Throughout the day, I took a photo at the top of each hour for 10 hours, starting 7:00 am EST. The earliest photos are at the bottom. I’m also uploading to the 10Photos Project Flickr Group.

ETA – It seems I can’t count. This is actually a 10+1 photo project. I couldn’t bear to delete Reid’s cousin’s arrival pic. She, too, is a special kid.

 5:00 pm – Cousin arrives at Grandma Barb’s

Cousin arrives

4:00 pm – Walking in Brockville

Walking in Brockville

3:00 pm - On the road to Grandma Barb’s

On the road to Grandma Barb’s

2:00 pm – In front of the Shenkman Arts Centre

In front of the Shenkman Centre

1:00 pm – Making pumpkins in pottery class

Pottery pumpkins

12:00 pm – Finally, a shower

Finally, a shower

11:00 am – I’m no longer invited in

No longer invited in

10:00 am – We fruitlessly searched for butterflies (we found them eventually but the line was too long)

Fruitlessly searching for butterflies

9:00 am – On the run with my running group

On the run

8:00 am - Taking care of her pearly whites

Pearly whites

7:00 am - Almost time to wake up

Almost time to wake up

Littlest Scientist

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Reid made a fridge magnet at Cosmic Adventures camp on Wednesday. As we drove away, she asked for a piece of paper and a pen. A couple of minutes later, she asked if I had a metal water bottle in the car. I handed it back to her and she stuck her magnet to it. That little light that floats above my head went on. Reid was testing different things to see if they were “magnetic”. She had developed a chart with an “M” at one side and an “N” at the other and was tracking the results of her experiment. She tried a couple of other things and declared that non-magnetic “won”. I bet adult scientists don’t have contests in the midst of their experiments.

* For some reason, the Littlest Hobo came into my head as I wrote this title.

Baseball Festival Day – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Putting her body into the swingReady to hitHitting the ballWaiting on the moundReceiving baseball medalMedal and cap

Summer ice skating lessons

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Reid is taking a month of CanSkate this summer. I’d thought about signing her up for a week of hockey camp but her coach suggested CanSkate instead. He was worried that she might not enjoy being the only girl. Reid has definitely enjoyed the program, though she prefers the less structured practices on Thursdays to the lessons on Tuesdays. On Tuesdays, she has to follow directions more closely and who doesn’t like to avoid working on skills with which they struggle? Reid has taken a few courses through the City of Ottawa’s recreation department but the CanSkate is much stronger, in terms of structure and working on fundamentals. It’s more expensive, too, but I think it’s worth it.

Reid has improved her forward and backward snowmen, is starting to “make snow” when she stops and occasionally skates on one foot. Her two-footed hops still seem to involve more motion in the shoulder area than in the foot area. From the stands, it seems like her skate don’t leave the ice at all. They do a drill where the kids are supposed to bounce tennis balls on the ice and catch them again. I’m reasonably sure that this exercise would be difficult for Reid if she were standing on a floor in bare feet. Still, she is getting better at this, too.

It’s nice to come to the rink when it’s humid outside but cool inside. It’s less nice to be wearing flip flops when your 40-odd-pound kid steps on you while she is wearing ice skates. On the bright side, it seems that Reid’s skates need to sharpened. It hurt but I have only a small cut. Skating lessons were easier when Ken was in charge of tying skates but I’m considering this to be my pre-season training. Hockey begins in earnest in September. I have to get ready for my dressing room duties.

All aboard the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam train

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Reid’s Kindermusik teacher and some other Kindermusik teachers arranged a group trip on the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train for today. Melissa, Peter and the kids joined Reid and me for the adventure. They picked us up at 8:45 and we started what should have been a 20-minute drive. With the two closest bridges closed – one under construction, the other the location of an accident – we ended up driving for about 45 minutes and the kids were starting to worry about missing the train by the time we finally got to the train station. Fortunately, we had been told to arrive half-an-hour early.

Our tickets assigned us to the Aylmer car and, as we learned when we boarded the train, to four-seat groupings across the aisle from one another. Reid sat with Sarah and Stephen and Ben sat with Melissa, Peter and me. The trip to Wakefield (and back, not surprisingly ;+) took 90 minutes. Kim, the staff member assigned to our train car told a few stories and passed out activity books and crayons to each of the children. Sarah and Stephen barely opened theirs but Ben and Reid put quite a bit of time into theirs. A couple of the train’s musicians stopped by to sign to us – a country and western song and a traditional French Canadian one – as well. All the kids were pretty well behaved until Kim announced we were less than 10 minutes from Wakefield. It was like she had released silly gas into the train car. Not just our kids, but most of all the kids, were instantly fidgeting and eager to get off.

We made it off the train quickly and went directly to the turntable to watch the musicians turn the steam engine around. Next, we started walking to the covered bridge. The kids were only dawdling a bit since they were hungry and we told them we’d have a picnic once we got to the covered bridge. Halfway there, the sky got dark and it was obvious we were lucky that we brought our rain coats. We made it to the covered bridge just as the first raindrops began to fall. We unpacked our lunches and started eating, enjoying the sound of rain on the metal roof and the fact that we were dry. We had to move midway through lunch when the rain started to blow in the windows. The longer it rained, the surer we got that we were going to have to walk back in the rain. The kids and Peter were lucky enough to have rain proof coats that mostly lived up to their billing. Mine was water-resistant and it couldn’t resist so much rain falling so fast. Melissa’s looked like it should have kept the water off but it most definitely did not. We were all soaked from above the knee to the tips of our toes by the time we got back to the train. Melissa and I were extra-lucky to have wet shirts as well, thanks to our coats. It was more funny than troublesome, though, as the day stayed warm and we were able to laugh at how wet we were getting. Reid, especially, liked the puddles and being out in the rain. Our only disappointment was missing the musicians performing. I suspect that they didn’t, due to the rain, but we’ll never know.

The ride back to Gatineau seemed longer than the ride to Wakefield. We took a walk to the snack shop / souvenir car and managed to resist all requests for purchases but other than that, there weren’t new diversions for us. Sarah and Stephen read, Ben played solitaire and Reid hopped around the aisle, making friends and talking lots. I was envious of the dads I saw having a nap on the return trip.


But here I am, at 10:15, still awake. I’m silly sometimes.