Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pink Lemonade and Fairy Wings

She was just a bit off this morning. A little less flexible, a little more demanding, a little whinier than usual. Which made an otherwise lovely visit with friends just a bit more taxing than usual. And, bit by bit, her mom and dad were worn down until we were both left gasping for naptime.

Parenting is not supposed to be taken personally. Which is the most illogical statement I believe I've ever heard. Three and a half years on, and I still cannot, no matter how hard I try, detach myself emotionally from that spicy little meatball of mine when she's going berserk. She's got my number alright.

But sometimes, magic happens.

Like putting a world weary, rage-inflamed, exhausted beyond emotional control girl down for her nap…then waiting patiently for two hours, licking wounds and fortifying one's psyche for Round 2…only to have a cheerful, smiling princess emerge from her cave, bubbling over in excitement as she describes her dream of trying to drive to the grocery store and ending up in Hawaii, ready to don her Tinkerbell costume and wile away the afternoon in the kitchen with mom.

We made lemonade. We made pink lemonade bars. We made bbq chicken tacos. Simultaneously.
Without a single mishap. While wearing wings. Hers green, mine red.

She ate every bite of her dinner, without coaxing. She even declared the chicken to be delicious. Actually, she declared: "This chicken is Foolish!", which is the highest of high compliments after her prior declaration that take-out from the Foolish Chicken is the only chicken she likes.

After dinner we took Tinkerbell and Nana out for a walk while our bars cooled, where we caught a grasshopper, a beetle and a ladybug before heading back to dessert.

And my soul smiles again. It doesn't take much to destroy it, but thankfully, it only takes a few perfect moments to restore it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cowfam Stay-cation 2012 (Ep. 4)

Day 4: Madagascar 3D & Calypso

For all the movies she's watched at home, and all the ten-minute shorts she's viewed at various museums, E has never had the bonafide movie theatre blow-out-your-eardrums-and-induce-a-popcorn-coma experience. Until Tuesday. Specifically, Toonie Tuesday at Rainbow Cinemas. Plus an extra $3 for the 3D upgrade. Aside from a pesky bout of tendinitis from the repetitive motion of shoveling popcorn for an hour and a half, and the humiliation of not quite being heavy enough to keep her seat down (despite the popcorn consumption), E rated it two thumbs up!

Tuesday afternoon had been carefully earmarked at the beginning of our vacation for the one and only Calypso waterpark. Pretty new, pretty fancy, and uber-expensive, we decided to take advantage of the late arrival discount on a day when everyone else should be at work. Unfortunately, that also coincided with the coldest and most overcast day, which is precisely when I love to be mostly naked and soaking wet. A mild case of hyperthermia is my excuse for taking E on a ride that she had absolutely no business being on, and then another one,  along with a husband who just kept needling his ice cube of a wife who insisted, repeatedly and to no avail, that she was absolutely NOT going on ANY more rides, as a result of a chill so profound that she had completely lost the use of her fingers.

Yep, we did that.
(Taken from E's "secret" stash of evidence for her inevitable call to CAS)

It was while I was watching dada and daughter braving disconcertingly vigorous waves in the wave pool that I learned that earlier in the day, 13 children had been taken to CHEO as a result of a chlorine gas leak in that very same pool. Fabulous. I suppose a hospital trip would be a fitting ending to the death-defying adventure to which we had subjected our only child. Fortunately though, we escaped unscathed, just as the rain started and the final whistles blew.

Somehow I think that after these last four days, our neighbourhood wading pools just won't hold the same sway. Us and our bright ideas.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cowfam Stay-cation 2012 (Ep. 3)

Day 3: Bug Hunt!

As much fun as it is to find ants and potato bugs in the backyard, we felt that E could use a little variety in her entomological studies, not to mention that we were becoming increasingly embarrassed by the fact that we hadn't yet explored the gargantuan Gatineau Park that lay just across the river. We packed up a bug catcher, some nets and lunch for three and drove to Pink Lake, which is actually turquoise, and quite breathtaking. There is a 2.5km hiking trail that circumnavigates the lake, and if I had a nickel for every specimen of wildlife that we collected on our journey I'd have about five dollars, which is more impressive than it sounds.

Kudos to dad, who scaled and shimmied and stalked and squirmed through rocks and mud and water and trees to procure each and every creature that caught his daughter's eye. Except for that one snapping turtle. It just refused to be caught, for which I think we should all be thankful.


Caught a fish! 

Please get it for me daddy!

No problem! 

Frog hunters 

Mama's catch 

The view from lunch 

Still trying to figure out why it's called "Pink" Lake. 

Well-fed fish 

Well-fed chipmunk 

What's creepier than a millipede? Two millipedes.

After lunch overlooking the lake, followed by a playdate with a very accommodating chipmunk, we set off, and managed to keep the girl awake all the way home, even though my husband insisted that it was statistically and cosmologically impossible. Ha.

Cowfam Stay-cation 2012 (Ep. 2)


For those of you who haven't been paying close attention, swimming ranks pretty high up there as one of E's absolutely favourite things to do, ever. She has not once declined to swim when given the chance. She has declined movie watching, chocolate milkshakes and receiving presents, but not once the chance to get wet and splash around. For this reason, we were dedicated to spending as much of this 4-day vacation blitz in the water, even on rainy days.

Enter: J's awesome friend Max. Max lives in Ottawa, but has absconded to Toronto for the next few months in order to be close to his bride-to-be as they prepare to wed in October. Admirable. Even more admirable - in my opinion - is the fact that he made a point to stop by Casa Cowfam on his way out of town to drop off a set of keys and carte blanche to the indoor swimming pool in his building for the summer. In exchange for…housesitting? Mail collection? Plant watering? Parking space saving? None of the above. Nothing, in fact. Unless you count the cooler bag we loaned him so that he could safely carry his casserole on the road. That makes us even, right? Max is awesome.

Sunday morning brought the promise of violent thundershowers, and so off we went to Max's place for front row seats to Mother Nature's performance from the comfort of a heated pool and a wall of windows. E perfected her jumps from the pool edge and from dada's shoulders, and even tried out her doggie paddle without any floatie assistance whatsoever. That bit was short-lived. In fact, she was so adept in the water that at one point mom and dad could be found performing complex cheerleading stunts while E paddled around, practicing a healthy disdain for her embarrassing parents.

Post-naptime, for the second night in a row, we were treated to a free dinner - this time by a colleague of J's who lives "in the country" (read: new subdivision in what used to be the country). I had a feeling that they were our kind of people when I walked in to find a kitchen island laden with delicious cheeses and strawberries. I was pretty confident when they asked "Is filet mignon okay?", and the deal was sealed when Julie and I spent a half hour after dinner googling our favourite actors while the boys plowed through Chris' stash of Mott's Caesars. Where was our daughter in all of this? Oh, she was being entertained by the world's greatest 8-year-old, who I tried desperately to adopt…without success. After pilfering vegetables from their backyard garden and stretching E's bedtime resistance to 10pm, we  reluctantly piled back in the car for the drive home.

Cowfam Stay-cation 2012 (Ep. 1)

Well, we did the summer road trip, and it was awesome. This time around, while my husband assured me that he had worked the system to his advantage and had scored us a ten day cornucopia of family time, I took the road well travelled (read: we've been here before, and there are no primroses on that path) and went ahead and assumed that my husband lives in a charming, delusional little version of reality.

I, on the other hand, live in the harsh climate of Cowfam reality, which is to say that I was overjoyed when J announced that - unfortunately…things didn't quite work out….blah blah blah - he had 4 whole days off in a row!!! Weeee!!!! And after briefly considering another whirlwind getaway, we settled on the stay-cation. Specifically, the Entertain-the-Pants-off-of-E-Stay-cation-of-Champions! 

Day 1: Mont Cascades

Of the two water parks within easy driving distance of Ottawa, we decided to start off with Mont Cascades. A bit older, less flashy and a whole lot less expensive than uber-park Calypso, it's still about 32 million miles cooler than any water feature E has experienced in her short little life. We did everything that wasn't prohibited for the under 48" set, including the Pro Racer, where we sent our little baboushka flying face first on her very own mat, with nothing but her own iron grip on the handles to save her from certain death. As it turns out, the biggest threat was a raging case of plantar warts on the rider in front of her, but thankfully mom and dad had invested in water shoes.

We slipped, we slided, we climbed, we splashed, and when we had worked up enough of an appetite, we dined on lobster and hot dogs. Not a bad way to spend a morning. Not even the nap gods could muster up enough energy to thwart us - after falling asleep in the car for almost an hour (showing flagrant disregard for RULE NUMBER ONE), we were able to successfully transfer her to her bed, where she slept for another hour before bouncing out of bed, ready for Round 2. That has never, in the history of children, happened anywhere.

We spent the latter part of the afternoon and early evening at our neighbours house, eating meat on a stick and watching E perfect her skill as the best big sister ever to 6 month old Dominic and 1.5 year old Hudson. The ladies talked about diapers and growing vegetables while the men drank scotch and examined the newly installed air conditioner. It was all very Mad Men.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Next Stop: A Wheaties Box Near You!

E and I just had the coolest morning ever.

A couple of weeks ago I received an Evite from a mom friend here in Ottawa for a Mini Olympics, to be held at a park close to our house. It was described as a playdate to celebrate the Olympics and an opportunity to let the kids burn off some energy. Fun, right? I pictured slide races and a sandcastle competition. You have no idea.

We arrived at the part at 10am, just in time to brandish our flags and join in a rousing rendition of O Canada as the athletes marched around the park for the Opening Ceremonies.

Then the athletes split up into teams (identified by the colour of their silly band bracelets) and lined up for their first event - the Torch Relay. E was the anchor for her team…a dubious choice for a record finish, but she was one of the only competitors willing to stand in one spot until it was her turn.

Water break!

The second event and by all accounts the most gruelling was Gymnastics All-Around. Each team member had to complete a hula, skipping, balance beam and egg balance apparatus. With a little coaching, and a lot of cheating, E came through brilliantly.

Watermelon break!

Soccer was up next, where E scored her very first goal. Hooray!

Then it was on to track and field, where E learned that hurdles get progressively less fun as one nears the finish line.

And after all that, the athletes were rewarded with the most inclusive awards ceremony ever. One podium, and everyone gets a turn on top of it!

Is it weird that I was a little teary?

After devouring a picnic lunch we all jumped into the pool for the Swimming event. By this time of course, with the medals already handed out, it became more of an exhibition event. E spent her time *surprise surprise* tending to a couple of friendly beetles and trying to convince everyone else of their protected status.

I only coaxed her out of the water with the promise of the homemade chocolate chip cookies and rice krispie squares that were being passed around to all the carb-loading athletes and their long-suffering parents.

Did I mention that the woman who organized this event recently gave birth to her third child? I am a lazy, lazy, sham of a parent. Who is very fortunate to have friends at all, let alone specimens of this calibre.

It is also worth noting that today my dad turns 75 years old. E would like to dedicate her Olympic debut in his honour. Happy Birthday Papa Ger!

Team Blue Silly Bands! 

The athletes with their coaches