Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Have you ever thought of pottery class?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

A friend of mine has enrolled her kids, 2 boys and a girl aged 7-11, in pottery classes the last couple years. I thought it was a neat idea but let it float by me. Then, one evening I picked up the local arts information booklet and noticed that there is a pottery school in my part of the city and that it offers parent and child pottery classes. Reid’s school focuses on physical activities but her teacher admits to beng less adept at arts and crafts. Since I’m partial to crafty things, I decided to sign Reid and me up for the pottery class. With only one class under my belt – Ken went to the first one with Reid – I have to say that I wholeheartedly recommend that you search for a pottery class in your neighbourhood.

There are practical lessons to be learned, even if you don’t take up pottery. For example,

Reid at pottery classWhen you want to control the thickness of your dough, use slats of wood on either side of the part you’re rolling.

 Reid at pottery classThose odd plastic doilies that your kooky aunt gave you are great for putting patterns in your dough.

Reid at pottery schoolThose slats I mentioned above are also useful as straight-edges.

Reid at pottery classAlways write your name on your work. If you’re Reid, you will develop a special way of writing your initials – say backwards and forwards – so that your work will be especially special.

It’s good to stretch your horizons. Next, I’m going to check into spinning and weaving or maybe a traditional “fine art” class or who knows what.

View more Works for me Wednesday posts at Rocks in My Dryer or look at my previous Works for me Wednesday entries.

Summer camps – yes, already

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The deadline for deciding which weeks Reid would be at the day camp that her school runs is tomorrow. Taking a leaf out of Melissa’s book, I printed the calendars for June through September and then cut and glued them so that the weeks ran in single lines, regardless of months changing.

Next, I noted the last and first days of school and decided that it would be best for Reid to attend the last week of school to be sure to be comfortable when class started. After that, I was left staring at the remaining 9 weeks. Then, I hit a small but important barrier. Ontario has Junior Kindergarten for 4 year olds, which means that Reid is without her usual care arrangements but isn’t eligible to attend the vast majority of summer camp, or day camp, programs. Most offer full day programs for children who are 6 or older. Half-day programs are so short as to be completely impractical for our family with two of us working full time. I think that she would enjoy a camp at the Canada Children’s Museum, National Gallery of Canada, or the Canada Science and Technology Museum. They are among those who don’t want little kids, though. I invited, okay begged, my niece to bring her family to Ottawa for one week so that Reid and Dylan can attend the half-day camp at the Canada Agriculture Museum.

I’ll take some time off to hang with Reid but since it looks like Ken will be on French training we won’t be taking a family trip. I sweet-talked Grandma Joyce into agreeing to watch over – or coordinate the watching over – of Reid for a week. I may have assigned a week and then asked about her availability but since the result is the same, why quibble.

Cosmic Adventures and Starr Gymnastics take 5 year-olds for full-day camps. Since Reid will hit that milestone on July 25th, I’ve penciled in a week at each of these for August. For the rest of the summer, Reid will spend time at her school’s day camp. She’ll enjoy spending time with the mixed age group, I think. She’ll be among the oldest and there will be times when she is playing with the toddlers and preschoolers. Reid likes to help out and she’ll have some opportunities to do so even while many of the activities, like swimming and soccer, are offered to each age group separately.

According to the Ottawa Camps website, the Ottawa Citizen will be running a summer camp guide on February 21st. I’ll check it out and still be able to juggle some weeks around if the most fabulous camp ever is featured and accepts girls who are 4.5 or 5. I scrolled through last year’s guide and I’m not optimistic but it’ll be worth a few minutes of scanning.

Andrea at the Fishbowl is tackling Summer day camps for Ottawa kids as well and knowing the type of folks who comment, that’ll be a resource to track as well.

Winter wonderland – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Remember when I was complaining about the cold and snow we’ve had this winter? Well, I should spend some time apologizing because Ottawa really is a fine place in the winter, as these pics of Reid, Uncle Roger and me demonstrate.

Reid on snowshoes


Reid in sleigh on the Rideau Canal

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.

Cool Mama

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Reid and went I met Melissa for breakfast Sunday morning. The day began in a bit of a panic when I realized that when Reid awoke that it was 8:10, instead of 7:10, and we were already late. I’d been reading in bed, enjoying being the only one awake when – bam! – I looked at the clock when I heard Reid. My “Oh my!” woke Ken and so he supervised Reid’s fastest-ever dressing while I called Melissa (thank goodness for cell phones) and pulled myself together. We were out the door within 13 minutes of my feet hitting the floor.

After a breakfast of waffles, or at least I chose a Belgian waffle and Reid mooched from it before eating her sandwich, we headed for the Farm, aka the Canada Agriculture Museum.   The last time we were there, a couple of the buildings were open but there were no activities. Yesterday they had an activity scheduled every hour or so and we arrived just in time for the calf grooming. Reid has never touched a calf before and so I was impressed when she went into the stall with the “farmer” and brushed the calf’s fur without hesitation. Having been that bold, she proceeded to pet each of the other calves in the barn. I wonder if she’ll try again on our next visit. We walked by each of the cows and I named them as I passed. This is a favourite activity of Reid’s and then we went to the “maternity ward” and saw a 2 day old calf and a mama cow who should be having her calf before the week is out. The mama cow didn’t look as eager for the big day as I remember being the week before Reid was born. On the way to see Goody the bull – Reid’s favourite animal on the farm – Reid climbed some snow piles and slid down them. I guess I need to find a tobagganing hill and a sled for us. We said “hello” to the horses, sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits and Goody, or course and then headed for the car.

Reid has been impressed that I knew how to get from our house to a restaurant that we’d never been to before and even more impressed that I was able to get to the Farm without having to go home first. She told me that it was very cool. “Cool” is high praise, indeed, from Reid. As we drove along, Reid began chanting, “My mama is cool. My mama is cool.” I knew that I must savour the moment for when Reid is a teenager and I am anything but “cool” or it’s 10-year-from-now equivalent.

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?

SENSational Friday

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Ken, Reid and I went to Scotiabank Place on Friday night to take part in the SENSational Friday activites organized by United Way/Centraide in Ottawa. We had lots of fun and the event caused Reid to ask questions about why we were there which led to a discussion of why we give money to United Way each year. I do so hope that Reid will consider charity to be a necessity of life and will take advantage of all opportunities to discuss how people must give if they’re able and accept help when they must. Besides the thrill of getting our picture taking with Spartacat, Jason Spezza and Brendan Bell, we skated on the Ottawa Senators‘ ice and played a variety of games on the concourse.  If you haven’t made your donation yet, don’t delay. The 2008 campaign ends on Friday.

Here are a few pics to show you just how much fun we had.
Those famous men in red:

On the ice:
In the penalty box:

Kiss a Senator:
Eye on the puck:
Games of strength

Breastfeeding, poverty and Blog Action Day

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Today, October 15, is  Blog Action Day 2008 and the theme this year is poverty. Angela, at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 has proposed a focus on breastfeeding and I think that is a worthwhile link to make. Starting our children off on a good basis is surely one of the issues to be addressed when confronting poverty.

I remember that books that I read when I was pregnant revealed an inverse relationship between income and rates of breastfeeding, that is: that the less money that you had access to, the more likely you were to use formula to feed your child. It surprised me from a purely economic point of view. If money was tight, why wouldn’t you breastfeed to avoid the cost of formula? Of course, the issue is far from that simple. An Australian study from August 2008 explains the tendency not to breastfeed:

Women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were less likely to breastfeed for various reasons, including a lack of family support, less ability to seek help with breastfeeding problems, less flexibility with working arrangements, and concerns about breastfeeding in public.

A Canadian study breastfeeding from multicultural perspectives from 1997 explains that formula-feeding is perceived as the norm in Western society and thus a behaviour to be modeled in developing societies.

It is interesting to note that the adoption of commercially prepared infant formula in developing countries is so frequent that some anthropologists see the continuation of breastfeeding as an inverse indicator of acculturation to Western ways (Bader, 1979 as cited in Henderson & Brown, 1987). In other words, researchers suggest that the rate at which a particular cultural group adopts bottle-feeding and decreases breastfeeding can be used as a measure of the extent to which that culture has replaced its traditional beliefs and practices with those of the Western world.

Of all that the West could share with the developing world, it shames me that we have shared a propensity toward a less-healthful approach to infant feeding. It makes me think of the adoption of white bread, a nutritionally inferior product that was initially available only to those who could afford the costs of over-processing the flour but which soon became sought-after by all in society, to the detriment of their health.

According to a number of sources, James P. Grant (past Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)) stated, “Breastfeeding is a natural safety net against the worst effects of poverty”. This seems emininently logical but what are the concrete steps that must be taken to encourage higher rates of breastfeeding among those in poverty?

1. Increase the number of Baby-friendly hospitals, which includes: helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within 30 minutes of giving birth; showing mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants; giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, not even sips of water, unless medically indicated; giving no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants; and other criteria.

2. Increased breastfeeding help in the community, like Well-baby drop in sessions and La Leche League meetings but especially peer support programs.

3. Paid maternity leave to allow for the establishment of good breastfeeding routines.

4. Work with employers to establish locations and policies conducive to pumping breastmilk when the mother does return to work

5. On a personal level, and with no research to back me up, I think that breastfeeding mothers should breastfeed their babies in public because it is normal and important and should be seen. Those who are nursing or have done so in the past should talk about their experiences. Again normalizing the experience seems important and you establish yourself as a resource should the person have a question or need a bit of support.

6. Institute or continue public education campaigns that promote breastfeeding in culturally-sensitive terms for various communities. I would argue that this would include using humour to appeal to younger mothers.

More thoughts on breastfeeding and poverty will be shared through this month’s Carnival of Breastfeeding.

Alternative education

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Reid’s intention to learn to read last night was no match for my persuasiveness and the lure of the park. We played for about 30 minutes before heading home. On the way, Reid asked if we could have a picnic in the living room and watch cartoons. In French, she added. Then, as though inspired, Reid told me that she didn’t want to go to school anymore but would learn French by watching French cartoons. I laughed and complimented her creative approach to finding an alternative approach to her education. Specifically I said, “Good try but you’re not dropping out to become a bilingual couch potato.” When she repeated her dislike of school, I responded with a simple, “You go to school. That’s what you do,” and changed the subject. It seemed to work. There haven’t been tears or wobbly bottom lips during this sort of a conversation in a while at least. (Knock wood.)

Through the big doors to school – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

I’ll get that

Walking right in

Are you coming?

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.

Beginnings and endings

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Reid hasn’t said too much about being done day care. When I’ve mentioned it, she just says that she will be going back to visit.The teachers were all misty-eyed when we said good bye. I will miss them. They provided good advice and feedback to me as a mother in addition to caring for Reid for 3 years and 2 months.

Reid is much more focused on what comes next. For a couple weeks, we have talked about how long it would be until she started school. Aunt Karin said something to the effect that this is the last weekend for the next 21 that Reid won’t be a school kid. (Note that Ken and I both took longer to finish university but it’s a reasonable minimum. Reid has declared her intention to be a doctor like Daddy, though.)  I must have mentioned Karin’s comments to Melissa in front of Reid because yesterday she was saying that Monday will be her “last day as a little kid” and Tuesday will be her “first day of school!” There is always an exclamation point when she says “first day of school!” and “school” has at least 2 syllables. These are exciting times, indeed, at our house.

I’m having a little trouble adjusting to the idea of my baby being in school, even though the difference between day care and junior kindergarten seems minimal. Wait until she puts on her uniform. I’ll be a mess. A mess with a stiff upper lip, though, right? I don’t want her to know there is anything to feel but fabulous about going to school. And here it hasn’t been too long since I was feeling odd because I wasn’t returning to school.