Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lying on the beach on a sunny Wednesday morning, watching E make a secret hiding place for her beautiful rocks and realizing that she is - finally - becoming more of a bff/sidekick/partner in crime, and less of a needy little munchkin, every day.

We had a beach day today, picnic lunch included. If it weren't for the E. coli advisory and the departure-time tantrum, I'd say it was perfect. There was virtually no parenting involved (again, except for some minor tantrum-management). It was a beach day, akin to the ones I used to have with my grown-up friends, and my childhood friends before that. It was relaxing. It was fun. It wasn't a flurry of injury prevention and anti-drowning tactics and removal of foreign objects from mouths and diaper changing and sand removal and chasing and chasing and NO! and We forgot the wipes! and Ack! She's in the sun!

Actually, it reminded me of the last time we went to the beach, when we were visiting Zoey and family in Sarnia. The men strolled the beach, the ladies sat and drank coffee and ate breakfast sandwiches and - get this - finished their sentences, while the girls make rock gardens in the sand and splashed around responsibly.

Yes, life is starting - juuust starting - to regain some the normalcy of old. I don't know how much of it is E's age and how much of it is me finally chilling out a little, but it's nice. It helps that it's been ages since I've worried about packing diapers and a change of clothes and bottles and a million snacks and three bags worth of just-in-case nonsense. I have wipes, some water and a snack or two and sunscreen. Anything else that comes up can be purchased or worked around. And E is pretty adept these days at creating her own entertainment, rather than having me racking my brains trying to keep her occupied. She's happy enough with a mass of sand and some rocks, as long as I participate with a few oohs and aahs amid her incessant chatter. And of course, I must be ready at a moment's notice to pretend to be a mama dinosaur or bird or shark when she's ready to hatch. But all of that can be done fairly successfully from the comfort of a beach towel.

What a lovely development.

What a difference a year makes

Almost one year ago to the day, we experienced the notorious IKEA disaster. In the 362 days that have followed, J and I have seen our enthusiasm for various outings tempered by a underlying terror that they just migh not work out as planned, and we just might end up feeling like deplorable excuses for parenthood. And, specifically when visiting IKEA, we always make absolutely sure that E knows that - while we will ply her with as many meatballs as she can pack in that expansive tummy and as much time as she likes in the children's section with the egg chair and the comfy beds, she is not quite yet tall enough for that decidedly heinous and disgustingly exclusivist area called Smäland. Oh, that's right. Since our last visit, IKEA Ottawa has expanded to be the biggest IKEA ever in the history of Swedish common sense, and what was once a modest little room full of balls is now a goddamn carnival ride of fun that is visible from far too many vantage points, if you ask me. In any case, she has been astoundingly mature about the whole thing, reiterating that she's not tall enough just yet and that's ok. She doesn't get that from me. Well, the shortness, yes. I'm talking about the blasé acceptance of one's own shortcomings. I don't know where that comes from.

And off I go into mindless warbling...


So. We've been measuring and it looks like we've been just about there for a while, but I've been resistant because I still bear the emotional scars of the first attempt, and also because for some reason I am incapable of mounting a growth chart to the wall in such a manner as to obtain an accurate measurement of one's growth. In other words, various forces were going to have to collide in order for me to take the big leap.

This week I'm feeling rather indignant in general, so that's helpful. Also, we really need bookshelves. Furthermore, after this week our use of the car on my days off will be terminated for the rest of the summer as J heads to CHEO for a Pediatrics rotation. Stupid kids. So, after some careful consideration and plenty of soul-searching, we went for it. 

I won't keep you in suspense...


Whew. And would you believe, just to keep me in line, the IKEA gods had one more trick to play on me. 

Me: Look! You're EXACTLY the right height! (Thank goodness for the 1/8" heel on those sandals...)
E: Yay! Yay! Let's DO IT!!!
Lady who was *this close* to getting her ass kicked (verbally, of course): Now, does she have socks??
Me: blank expression...crickets...Does she need socks?
Lady: Mmhmm. *smile*
Me: increasing heart rate...crickets...Do you have socks?
Lady: Well, no. But I just found a pair that someone had left behind...but we're definitely not supposed to -
Me: Sold. Let's have 'em. 

I'll take a case of athlete's foot over losing Round 2 to those Swedish bastards any day. 

After I picked her up, E waved to the Lady Who Doesn't Know How Close She Came To Eating It over her shoulder and called out "Bye! Maybe we'll see you again tomorrow!" With socks.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Getting a Jump on my Birthday

October 13th. Write that down. I will only be celebrating the next 4 birthdays, so sooner is better than later.



Yes, the whole room and everything in it.

Good God in Heaven

Also, anything on Pinterest, an all-expenses-paid 2-week family holiday to somewhere fantastic (think Hawaii or the South of Spain), and - if I'm being totally honest - I'd really like to be personally and solely responsible for the eradication of world hunger. 

p.s. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Other suggestions will be happily accepted by email, and reviewed prior to approval.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Little Hoots

E is a Little Hoot. Is that the perfect name for a daycare or what? That's what I thought. Our neighbours down the street are a lovely little family with a 2 year old daughter, and the mom started a home daycare in January. Our next door neighbours send their son to her, and she agreed to take E part time over the summer. This is week three, and everyone is pleased as punch with the arrangement.

As this is our first experience with daycare I'm not an expert on standard practices, but I was ecstatic to learn that Julie takes about a million pictures of the kiddos during the day and sends out a weekly email of pics and highlights. She also writes a little journal for each child daily so we know what they were up to and what havoc our kids wreaked. For instance, today E needed a "break" from lunch to go and sit on the couch with a blanket. I'm sure it was much more charming and benign to read about than to experience.

Here's a glimpse into E's days as a Little Hoot:

Looks like a pretty sweet deal. I wonder how long I have before she files the adoption papers.

A running stream of consciousness

A client of mine recently told me that running is the only thing that clears his mind. That when he's running, he doesn't think about anything, he doesn't even listen to music - everything is just quiet inside his mind and he runs. It sounds lovely. I could never do that.

Here is an account of what was going on in my brain during my 8K run this morning...

Wow...I'm not sure how long we'll make it today. Too much sangria. Pretty sunny. Okay, focus.

I'm glad I downloaded some new running music. Ooooh, P!NK! I love her. this the right way? See, this is why I don't like new routes. Too much mental energy required to prevent getting lost.

You know, I think P!NK is on to something. Maybe the messed up freaks of the world aren't really so messed up after all. Maybe they're actually way better equipped for the real world than the perfect princesses. Hm.

Life is short. And hard. But it should be more good than hard. I wish everyone would just lay off each other, you know? Let's make clothes and hair and sexual orientation and religion and jobs and cars and all of that, let's make them all non-issues. Just not worth the effort of a debate, or a protest, or a coalition or a magazine article. Let's focus on better stuff. Like how to fit more backyard bbqs and handwritten letters into our lives. More real-life, face-to-face conversations and public displays of affection.

Oooh, downhill. Nice.

Hey. Pour Some Sugar on Me sets the perfect running pace. Who knew? I could run forever!

Crap. That's a big hill.

I can't believe I almost didn't do this. And I can't believe that sangria isn't oozing from my pores right now. Or that dehydration and fatigue hasn't relieved me of my will to remain upright and in forward motion. I'm glad J convinced me to at least try a short run. He's a good egg. I should write him a thank you note.

Fat bottomed girls is like the prelude to Baby Got Back. Heck, if Freddie Mercury and Sir Mix-a-lot can find common ground, maybe the rest of us just aren't trying hard enough.

I can't believe that this is the first time I'm running through the arboretum. Running in the shade of trees by the water sure beats a wide open farmer's field.

I wonder if this run will burn off all the crap I ate last night. Probably the apple bread and the brownie...maybe the strawberry rhubarb crumble too...although the crumble might be deceptively high in calories...

Almost done, almost done, almost done...why does the end have to be uphill....

Oooh! Rick Springfield! I wish that I had JESSIE'S GIRL! Doo do doo...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First *FREE* Swimming Lesson!

There are many reasons why Ottawa is an awesome place to raise a family. Take their public wading pool system, for example. There are approximately 3 bajillion free outdoor wading pools and splash pads in parks around the city, 6 of which are easy walking distance from our house. That's pretty great. But it doesn't stop there. All of the wading pools are staffed by lifeguards. And that's STILL not all! These lifeguards are not only there to save your child's life, if necessary, but they also run kids' activity programming every day, including crafts, games and free swimming lessons. Yes. I had heard a rumour late last summer about the lessons, but hadn't had it confirmed...until this morning.

E and I showed up at the park just as they were filling up the pool. I asked one of the lifeguards if she would do a little lesson with E and she said Sure!  I was expecting a few minutes of kick, kick, splash, splash...maybe a float or two. But she spent about 20 minutes with E, just the two of them, playing the hokey pokey, teaching her to bob in and out of the water by herself, floating on her back and on her stomach, and swimming from one end to the other on her front and on her back using a pool noodle. It was super cool. E started out wearing her floatie (she loves that floatie), but after a few minutes the lifeguard convinced her to ditch it, and that was that. By the end she was going right under to pick up toys off of the bottom of the pool!

At the end I said "So...if we up here...every this time...will you give her more lessons??" You bet! 

I realize that this method will not have her doing the 50 metre butterfly by age 4, but it seems to me that they covered everything I would expect to see in a proper swimming class for 3 year olds, and it was a private lesson! Score.

Thanks, Ottawa. You're alright.


Our daughter has invented a new language. Or maybe she didn't, it's just that her dad and I are such sheltered ignorami that we had no idea it existed. Which is just as likely, I suppose.

It's called Fish-bye. I like to think that she's channeling her 1/4 Newfie genes, as in "That's some nice fish, by!", but any efforts to extract the significance behind the name have been stonewalled up to this point. 

The other night at story time, she offered to read to us. We had already read her stories, and I'm sure there was a certain degree of stalling involved, but I'll tolerate stalling so long as I can be genuinely entertained. And tell me this isn't entertaining:

Okay, maybe this is a case of everything my kid does is cute, even when it's dumb rearing its head. And I think I might have heard the odd "cheval" and "chemise" in there, so we might not have a completely unique dialect here, but come on. When she's famous, this stuff will be pure gold.

Oh Suzy Q...I Love You

I think I may have mentioned our Saturday morning yoga-doughnut ritual in a previous post. In case you need further motivation to hightail it to Ottawa in search of mouth-watering, life-shortening, dangerously delectable fried dough, here it is:

And for those of you who prefer a more detailed review:

I'm just surprised that she managed to put that bad boy down long enough to describe her fondness of it.

E Shorts

On morning rituals...

"Do you know what you just heard? My wake-up yawn. It wakes up my brain and my face."

Mid-slumber outbursts...

"I think we just passed Miami!!!" ...pause... "I'm not waking up for real. I just woke up to tell you something." ...and...back to sleep.

On technological mysteries...

"I just can't understand all the things that my clock is doing right now." Sighs. Hangs head in defeat.

On workday etiquette...

"Call dad?! No. He's at work. can text him."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dr. Dad is on call for Infectious Diseases this week. Ew. I'll be honest - part of me wonders if there is some way that he can be placed in some kind of temporary in-house accommodations for the duration of this germy rotation. But then we would miss moments like this:

E was overjoyed to be given this morning's task of wearing dad's beeper while he got ready for work and alerting him to any incoming pages. There were two, and they sent Dr. E trotting off to find her dad, soberly and yet urgently informing him that he needed to call the hospital right away. While he attended to his pages, E sat close by, diligently making notes and generally involving herself in the process as much as possible. While wearing her brand new white coat from Gramma Leslie. And keeping her flashlight within arms reach. Just in case.

Watching these two this morning, I was struck by the effortlessness of their relationship. When they spend time together, there's none of the stress over scheduling or the feeling of forced entertainment that so often creeps into my days. Sure, they're not always best pals, but there's something so natural and different about the way J relates to E from the way that I do.

I saw this yesterday, and it's a simple truth that isn't just appropriate on Father's Day:

Not an exaggeration.

When life hands you lemons - or when you buy a bag from the grocery store - make lemonade, right? Especially if it's summertime, and especially if you have a three year old who thinks that the most tedious part of the job (juicing lemons) is the most fun, and steadfastly insists that she does not need a parent to help. This perfect recipe just got even more perfect. 

I'm always looking for fun things to do with baboushka in the kitchen, and this was a big hit. Easy peasy, fun and squeezy, with just the right amount of tang. I like a lot of tang, and so does my sidekick. She used to eat lemons and limes by the slice. 

So, for the recipe, just click on the link above and enjoy! Follow exactly if you like, I'm sure it will turn out as the title implies. If you want to do what I did, then make the following adjustments:

1. I went with the 3/4 cup sugar : 1 cup water ratio when making the simple syrup.
2. I also added lemon zest to the syrup as it was heating, as per the advice of a commenter, to deepen the flavour. Better to leave the zest in big slices rather than using a zester - easier to fish out.
3. I made 1 1/4 cups of lemon juice, 1 1/4 cups of simple syrup and 3 cups of cold water, which is very tangy. 


Monday, July 2, 2012

Lessons in Irony...Life with a 3-year-old

The idea that a giant meteorite could crash into the Earth tomorrow, resulting in mass extinction, is nothing more than fodder for dinner conversation.


Putting bubbles in the bathtub when she most definitely did not want them there is indeed, the end of the world.


The idea of losing an arm or a leg to some horrific run-in with a large piece of machinery is a minor setback that can easily be overcome with crutches and hooks.

And yet...

Being forced to endure a sweaty car ride without an indispensable pink blanket is a mountain that no mortal can be expected to climb.


It's important not to talk with your mouth full.

And it's important to remind people of that - regardless of whether they are breaking the rule or not - whenever necessary, especially when your mouth is full.


Needles at the doctor's office? Fun!

Splinter removal? Hair combing? Being slowly disemboweled by hot pokers.