Sunday, September 27, 2015

Riding the Rideau!

On the flip side of the coin from that last post, this weekend we were that "take life by the horns" family...except for that getting up early bit. That part we haven't caught on to yet.

Today we fulfilled one of my dad's bucket list items and cycled the Rideau Canal. We've been talking about it for a year or so, and I've been patiently waiting for E to really take off with this bike riding thing. This month we've been riding our bikes to school and work almost every day, so we figured it was time we tackled the canal adventure before the snow flies.

Of course, this being a day I planned on getting up bright and early to make sandwiches and prepare all kinds of delicious picnic accoutrements, E simply insisted on staying in bed and snuggling. I tell you that kid is going to regret these mind games when I'm in the looney bin.

Once I was allowed out of bed I threw together what I could while J tried valiantly (and successfully) to navigate the mysteries of bike rack assembly and my parents (who arrived on time on account of not having a 50 pound problem to slow them down) showered us with gifts from their recent adventures and snuck pieces of freshly made bread as I sliced.

Finally, we were all packed up and racked up and raring to get our bike tour on. Mom and dad were sitting eagerly in their vehicle, E was all buckled up in ours. So I hopped into the front seat, pushed the go button (still can't get used to not having a key) and...crickets. The car died. Again. The first time was on my way to the Beer Run a couple of weeks ago. If that's not a sign that exercise is bad for me and I should spend more time eating ice cream, well then this world makes no sense.

But, just like two weeks ago, it was nothing a set of jumper cables couldn't fix. So off we were a few minutes later to Hog's Back Park, where we would start our journey, and where I mistakenly believed was the end of the canal.  (Interesting note: Today I learned that the Rideau Canal is 202 km long...so I was only off by about 193 km.)

Now, our journey from Hog's Back Park to Chateau Laurier and back was mapped out to be 20.0km. E's longest bike journey up to this point has been 3.8km. I'm not crazy. I may not know the length of the Rideau Canal, but I can see a losing battle from at least 16.2km away. I opted to have E and I do a shorter loop, with my parents continuing on and meeting us at the end for lunch. That was the plan.

Instead, E blew all of our expectations out of the water and biked. the. whole. way. What?! Yes. There were a few stops, but all in all it took us just over 2 hours, which I consider to be pretty flipping astounding. Not to mention those super old fart parents of mine who are so comfortable in their seventies that they're starting to flirt with the next decade.

The weather was glorious. The ride was spectacular. The day was perfect. And we're all looking forward to the next time.

The crew
Old farts looking spry

Young fart not looking so spry

Bouncing back for a little post-ride climb


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Weekend Famjam, Cowger Style

Often, especially when on Facebook, I feel like as a family we're not grabbing life by the horns enough. I feel like we don't make the most of our weekends or a thousand opportunities every day to show E something cool or expose her to new experiences. I feel like we take the easy (lazy) way out by not planning ahead and searching things out. And it makes me feel bad.

But then, on a random Saturday morning, E wakes us up at 8:30am in a purple sparkly dress, we play Harry Potter for about an hour without getting out of bed, one of us struggles down to pour coffee just before the coffeemaker shuts off at 10am, and then we have a getting dressed dance party to Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift before taking Ralph and walking to get bagels as the clock eases past 11am.

And as we walk, all is right with the world. (And maybe the less charitable part of me is snickering at those perky families who have been up since dawn...suckers.)






Thursday, April 9, 2015

Underwear Tales...

Funny that I have enough underwear-related material to write about. Or maybe I just have a six year old and it comes with the territory. Underwear, whoopie cushions, giggling about poop...we're chock full of maturity over here.

So it occurs to me as I'm folding laundry this morning that I'm already getting my underwear confused with E's, and that just doesn't feel right. It would seem that someone needs to step up their lingerie game. (Cotton boyshorts for the win!) I decided not to mention it to J. I can't imagine a universe where that won't make at least a few of his brain cells commit suicide.

And while I was contemplating spicing up my underwear drawer, it occurred to me that I just dropped $100 at Victoria's Secret while we were in San Francisco. E was with me - I even let her pick out a bra and a few pairs of underwear for me. (I think I'm starting to identify the source of the underwear mix-up...) I also remembered J's reaction to my haul. "I guess thongs are out now?" I was, of course, quick to point out that there were two thongs in there. E even picked one of them out. Aaaand...Pop! Pop! Pop! go the brain cells...

So there we were, E and I, in the change room at VS, where I was attempting to try on a couple of bras as quickly as humanly possible before E  a) decided she was DONE shopping, or b) decided to whip open the precariously draped curtain that was shielding me from the packed store.

"Mom? Can I try one on?"

Now who in their right mind would say no to the opportunity to see their first grader in a push-up bra? Oh. Everyone? Of course. Everyone but me, that is. *cough*

So first I let her try to figure it out herself. Because the picture would be way funnier. Then I made the necessary adjustments and snapped another couple photos, which I will never, never, NEVER share.

Until the wedding day.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Making Memories

Yesterday you asked me if you could go on a run with me.

We were walking to your piano lesson - something I insisted on even though you complained that we walk every time and maybe I don't realize that walking home from school and then to and from piano lessons (combined time of approximately 30 minutes) might be too much for a six year old. The sun was shining, spring was finally starting to spring, and I was prepared to be frustrated with you.

Not a race with a bunch of people, just out for a run. With me. Just the two of us.

A smile crept across my face. I held your hand a little tighter. And I said yes. I would love that.

Maybe today or tomorrow? you asked.

Tomorrow, I replied. Quick! I thought to myself. Quick, before she doesn't want to be with you, close to you, happy to be doing what you're doing, together. Don't miss this chance!

Maybe our first real run together will be something you will always remember. Maybe it will be one of your favourite memories of the two of us together. Or maybe when I pick you up from school today you'll be too tired or you just won't feel like it. But this time, I won't insist that we get out there and enjoy ourselves whether we like it or not, because we have memories to make and a childhood to make special, dammit!

I am coming to realize that the memories make themselves. Every day, in the big and the small, the memories are being made no matter how many articles I read or hours I spend worrying about how to do it right. That moment between us yesterday was a very special one for me. I witnessed a memory being made. I felt it wriggle its way into a corner of my brain and take up residence. It felt warm.

I am also realizing that it doesn't matter to me if your memories include the coolest Hallowe'en costumes or the most original loot bags or the most elaborate vacations. I want you to remember me smiling, laughing, hugging a lot, and listening. I want to you to remember that I made you feel loved, capable, and important. And now that I've learned the secret to making memories - that my job is not to carefully select, package and insert each memory into your brain, but rather to show up and be the person I want you to remember - I find myself witnessing even more memories.

I remember holding you on my lap after dinner last night while we looked at houses on the computer with your dad. You looked through all of the pictures, searching for the perfect place in each house to set up an art table. Your bare legs were dangling over my arm, and I couldn't believe how little and how big they looked. I felt the warm weight of your back on my chest. I was so content.

I remember rubbing my cheek against yours as I carried you upstairs. We tried to decide whose cheek was softer. I thought yours. You thought mine. I think I've never felt a cheek so soft and warm and unbelievably kissable.

I remember how much I love our Uno games before bed, and how I love it when you win. I used to lose on purpose, but I worried that winning all of the time might make you a poor sport. So then I won a couple of times, and worried that you would lose your confidence and not want to play anymore. Now I just play. Because you're not going to remember how many times you won or lost. You're going to remember that you and mom and dad played hundreds of games of Uno before bed and there was a lot of laughter, a few tears, and an alarming amount of trash talk.

The moral of the story is the same as every moral since Elsa and Anna came on the scene: Let it Go. The memories are making themselves. Let them.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

No Snow in NoCal! Day 3...

Day 3 in Baghdad by the Bay (I'm not kidding. Who comes up with these?), and this time the girls were left to their own devices. I would love to tell you that it started off with a good, old-fashioned sleep-in...but unless you consider 6:45am sleeping in, I cannot.

It did, however, start with several rounds of Uno, most of which I won, and absolutely no coffee. The apartment we're renting doesn't have a coffee maker. I cannot emphasize enough how unsatisfactory I consider this to be. In fact, I rank it even more unsatisfactory than the 1-ply toilet paper. I mean, come on. 1-ply is for prisons. Period. But I digress.

After two solid days of sunshine and walking, I thought we'd take it a tad easier today by spending a bit of time lounging around and taking advantage of the myriad of public transit options. Instead, we enjoyed a solid day of sunshine and walking. Hey, if it ain't broke...

First stop: Coffee. Obviously. The Beanstalk Cafe is a lovely little spot that I can forgive for only having one (moderate) size of coffee, but not for being out of their two delicious sounding breakfast options: breakfast cups and cragels. In their defence, we'll try to get there before 10am tomorrow.

Second stop: Park. E has dutifully pounded the pavement for the past two days with more stamina and good humour than I could have imagined. And while there have been plenty of sights and tastes to amuse and delight her, there comes a point when every six year old decides that enough is enough. We've been lucky not to hit that mark yet, and to show our appreciation I unleashed her on the coolest park I could find in the neighbourhood. And I want it known that I dutifully played pretend (me: bad guy and/or prison guard, her: girl inmate/moth/butterfly/snitch/spy/honourary prison guard) the whole way. Where's my medal?




After wearing ourselves out at the park, we stopped for a quick lunch at Whole Foods before heading to mom's playground - aka Trader Joe's - where I put damn near everything they had in my cart. And it was good.


On the way home, loaded down with my booty, we stopped for another coffee and then popped into the salon next door to our apartment to see about a trim for the short one. Karen happened to have an opening right then and there, and proceeded to shampoo/massage/cut/style and blow-dry E until she looked like a newly-minted PR exec, and I died.


I had been looking forward to a little down time following the park/shopping excitement, but I guess E is just like any girl fresh from getting her hair did - she wanted to flaunt it! We sat on the step of our building for a few minutes while she decided what she was in the mood for. She settled on a picnic, so we packed up some Trader Joe's goodies and headed to Union Square. There we played a little, laid in the grass and ate a little, and I people-watched while E ran circles around me, literally and figuratively.


Then we headed to the Westin, which overlooks the square and boasts glass elevators that offer spectacular views from the 31st floor - as well as a stomach-flipping adventure for those of us with a fear of heights.


From there we would have headed straight home were it not for the irresistible underwear sale at Victoria's Secret (go ahead and try to resist 7 pairs for $27...I'll wait...). What started with an eyeroll and a "Mooooom...not underwear shopping!", ended with my daughter in a bra, admiring her "dress-up boobs" in the mirror. And I died for the second time.

It was another awesome day. It's spring, and I'm on vacation in a place where it actually feels like spring. It just doesn't get any better.








Tuesday, March 17, 2015

No Snow in NoCal! Day 1

11:00am EST - Leave for the airport

11:30am EST - Actually leave for the airport

12:30pm EST - ...Aaaand, we're through ticketing about 2 minutes before check-in closes for our flight.

1:00pm EST - Board first flight to Chicago, IL. Consider, again, how much I hate flying into and out of Chicago. Manage to read 100 pages of new book while husband and daughter defeat zombies with garden vegetables. Visit airplane bathroom with child twice.

2:45pm EST - Land in Chicago with exactly enough time to grab a smoothie and pee before...

3:15pm EST - Boarding second flight to LA. Consider the likelihood of actually making next flight with a 33 minute layover. Enjoy another 100 pages of book while husband studied and daughter snoozed on my bladder. Visit airplane bathroom with child four times.

9:10pm EST/6:10pm PT - Land in LA 4 minutes before boarding begins for next flight.

9:20pm EST/6:20pm PT - Run from gate 50 to gate 53 as third flight is boarding. Be grateful for 3-gate commute. Visit airplane bathroom with child for the 7th, 8th and - thank god - final time. Finish second bottle of hand sanitizer.

11:10pm EST/8:10pm PT - Land in San Francisco, CA!

11:20pm EST/8:20pm PT - Walk length of airport several times with 6 pieces of luggage to secure 5 minute shuttle to hotel

11:45pm EST/8:45pm PT - Arrive, exhausted, at hotel. Convince offspring that constant snacking on last flight counts as dinner, wait 3 minutes for her to slip into unconsciousness and order some of the best Italian food this side of Italy. Let the gluttony begin!













Monday, March 16, 2015

No Snow in NoCal!

It's Cowger Family Vacation Time again! And where better for an Ottawa family to go in mid-March than...anywhere without snow?

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the American Academy of Dermatology for scheduling the 2015 annual meeting in San Francisco, California. I appreciate you having our backs like that. After hearing that we set a record this year for being the coldest capital in the WORLD, we are in desperate need of being talked off of the ledge.

Forecast for San Fran for the next week: highs of 17/18, lows of 10/12, lots of sun and absolutely no snow.

This is going to be awesome.

Look Ma! No boots!!!




Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Birds and the Bees: Ep 2

I should be writing more. There certainly have been some blog-worthy moments in the last little while. My crazy daughter continues to say and do crazy things, and almost every day I think I really need to write this down...and then I get distracted and busy and life goes on undocumented.

But STOP THE TRAIN, folks, because today we're getting off at PROCREATION STATION.

You might remember our first conversation going fairly smoothly and without causing too much trauma to either party. You might also remember we had a wall between us. And that she managed to be more concerned with getting a baby sister than the ins and outs (pun intended) of how said baby is made.

So today was kind of like that, except the complete opposite.

There we are...lunch this time...face to face, eye to eye, ovary to ovary. Dad was there too, quietly packing up his bag in the background, en route to the hospital - getting just ready enough for a quick exit, but not wanting to miss the Oscar-worthy performance he could be sure was just around the corner.

E: Mom, how long does it take for a baby to be made?
M: 9 months.
(I believe this is what they call "greasing the wheel". Man, she's good.)
E: So, why does it take so long?
M: Well, the baby goes all the way from being an egg to being an actual human in that time. There's a lot of stuff that has to happen!
E: Yeah. I know. But how does it go from an egg to a baby?
M: Well, first it's one cell that divides, and then -
E: Yeah. I know. But how does the baby get made?
M: Do you mean how does the cell turn into a person?
E: No. How does a woman make a baby?
M: Well, remember we talked about the egg and the fertilizer? The man has the fertilizer and the woman has the egg, and when you put the fertilizer on the egg the baby grows.
E: Yeah. I know. But how does the man give the fertilizer to the egg?

J: Okay! Bye guys! Have fun!

M: Well, that's a grown-up thing. It only works when you're an adult.
E: Well, how does it work?
M: The man gives the fertilizer to the woman and the egg is fertilized.
E: Yeah, but how does the fertilizer get to the egg? Like, how? (lots of hand gestures here...none of them accurate)

~ This is where the wall would have served me well. Any of you who know me well will understand that this is the kind of situation I find painfully amusing. Keeping a straight face would require monumental self-control. The entirety of this conversation was spent actively willing the corners of my mouth to turn downward, with no success whatsoever. I smirked through the entire exchange.

M: The fertilizer comes out of the man's penis.
E: ... (Picture your facial expression the day you learned what hot dogs are made of.)
M: Yep.
E: Ew.
M: (In for a penny, in for a pound) And it gets to the egg by going into the woman's vagina.
E: Ugh, gross. Really?
M: Mmhmm.
E: Why?
M: Well, it makes sense, really. Sperm is made down close to the penis, and a woman's eggs are at the end of the vagina, so it's the easiest way.
E: ... (Picture your facial expression the day you learned that your parents have sex)
M: Yeah, so that's how it happens. It sounds gross now, but one day it won't sound so bad.
E: ... Ew.

From there I was able to distract her from this disgusting revelation by marvelling over fetal development week-to-week, and we moved on. Thankfully.

And then I realized, that was the big one. That was the part I've been dreading, wondering exactly how I was going to navigate what ended up being a very matter-of-fact explanation. And I think I managed to instill just the right amount of knowledge and revulsion to get us through the next few years.

BA BAM!!!!! Come on, give me a hard one.

(That's what she said.)


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wherefore art thou, Baby of mine?


Excuse me. I wonder if you could help me. I seem to have lost my baby. I'm sure she was right here only a moment ago. Tiny, fat, bald, really cute. Loves eating and sitting, hates being away from mama. I think I may have dozed off for a moment, but she can't have gone far. No? Strange.

Even more strange (talk about a coincidence!) is that there is a girl here who calls me mama and has the same name as my little squishy baby. But she is almost six years old. Clearly, she cannot be mine. Mine is ever so much smaller. Why, she can't even walk!

Yet she calls me mama. "Mom", actually.

This girl is quite breathtaking. She has wide eyes of the most intoxicating green through which I can see her beautiful heart. She loves, she loves so well. She cares, she protects, she advises. She is so wise. And she is so silly. She tells the best jokes, she does a mean naked baby dance, and she can instantly assume the identity of any animal you can imagine.

She is also astoundingly clever. In fact, she tells me that she entered the Elementary program at her school yesterday.  Her parents must be so proud. I wonder if they miss the days when she was a sweet little baby like mine. Or do they spend each day growing more in awe of her, more in love with her, unable to hide how smitten they are with each new skill, each discovery, each challenge that she navigates? I'm willing to bet that both are true. I know I find myself thinking about what my baby will be like at 5, 10, 15 (god help us), 20...and I have to stop myself to remember that those days will come, but these days, these early days, won't come again. If only I could stay awake long enough to witness them!

Now where is that chubby little monkey?