Friday, November 28, 2014


Friday, November 28th, 2014

Yesterday we had the car, the freedom of the great open road and the wind on our sails. All that excitement led me to break out the good camera but it's so darn convoluted getting the photos onto this here blog that it been done yet. We celebrated our vehicular autonomy by heading north into the hills of Gatineau to join Catherine and baby Isaac for her birthday. It's just really nice to have someone to meet up with, something to do and a nice place to do it. I am wedded to the ideal of single car family status but there is no doubt that we would have a better time with a car at disposal. And I would spend a lot more money on drive through coffee and donuts.

So that was a nice Thursday followed by a rubbish disturbed night to usher in our anniversary. Number six. Iron or candy. We were both very grumpy this morning. I'm now too tired to bore you with the details but we missed swimming as Toby slept through it in my arms, had a bath instead and then went for an hour and a half stroller (buggy) walk throughout which they both slept. We did end the day with homemade pizza, Chardonnay and our current favourite British sitcom, Him and Her. For the record Crystal got a bar of chocolate and a horse shoe nail that had been bent into a heart shape necklace by some lady in Nebraska on her anvil. And I got a very expensive Le Creuset pan. More on that later perhaps. 

And I think I'll have to explain these pics another time too. It's 9:10. Time for bed. Rock and roll.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A mystery outing

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

My blog writing has been succinct of late.  I've been really tired.  I think it may be the lack of sun in the last few days or perhaps the treadmill of domestic chores that are never really finished.  Grumble, grumble.  We are in eager anticipation of the arrival of Grandpa Ian from Scotland next week and soon the excitement of the holiday season will lift our spirits.

In the meantime we went on a top secret mission today related to Crystal's Christmas present.  She doesn't normally read my blog so she may well not see this anyway but hopefully this picture is not giving too much away.  Suffice to say what I thought would happen and what did happen were some worlds apart.  There will be a big reveal at some point around Christmas time.

Satisfied bus customer.  Well he would be, he gets to ride for free and to take his own personal reclining seat along too.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Spring has sprung

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Having been cross country skiing on Saturday we went to the Children's Museum (which is amazingly excellent) on Sunday to escape the rain we then had temperatures of 18C today. This meant more rain for our bus to play group this morning and a visit to the park this afternoon.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ski 1: November bonus

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

A whole week earlier than last year we took to the hills for our first cross country ski of the season.  This last week has been very wintery and the conditions were great.  However, as I write this on Sunday it is 7 degrees, most of the snow is gone and it is forecast to be 15 tomorrow.  It may be some time before we get out again.  All the more reason to be grateful for yesterday's wonder.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chez Grandparents part deux

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Lots of words yesterday. The pictures tell the story today.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Happy Children's Day 2014

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

We struggled to get out of the house yesterday.  It was a grey, cold and really windy day and Felicity was not interested in leaving home.  She often isn't but that doesn't mean she won't enjoy it when she is out.  Plus Crystal was working at home and needed some peace.  I'm constantly thinking once for myself then once more as if I was a 2 year old with limited space-time perception and even less pre-frontal cortex emotional control.  Fortunately I give the little man zero autonomy so he just does what he's told.

We did get out and they both promptly fell asleep in the car so I filled up with gas (petrol) and then drove around for about an hour.  Finally they woke up and we went to the farm.  I think there were about 5 other people in the whole place.  They got to pet the bunnies and then we went to the new Learning Centre.  I've been wanting to go in for a while, only slightly put off by the History of Food Preservation special exhibition.  I shouldn't have been - it's really good.  But before you get to the exhibition hall there is a toy kitchen which just happens to be the number one favourite distraction for these two.  I think this is a good sign - I love the kitchen.  And look at this moment of sibling cooperation.  Beautiful.

I don't think that a description of the History of Food Preservation exhibition would be interesting but it was nicely done and now I know how they stored potatoes two hundred years ago and I have a better idea of just how much of our food is irradiated to kill bugs etc.

Snack time.  Smile!

And onto today.  I put in a big push for my bid to get Dad of the year award (stay at home category, Black Friars Road division - I'm the only entrant).  While Toby had his first nap I did painting with Felicity, then baked scones with her in preparation for our friends Catherine and baby Isaac coming round.  We took them to the library and then I pushed Felicity on the swing at the park while Toby had his second nap in the stroller (push chair).  I even remembered to feed them and change Toby's diaper several times.  I am now undoing all the good work by staring at the laptop while they play.  That's technically unstructured play and is essential for proper cognitive development in the areas of creativity and problem solving and a wonderful catch all justification for lazy parents and kindergarten teachers all over.  Just look how engrossed Toby is in the broom.  This guy is going to be a brain surgeon clearly...

Crystal took them to Nepean HS for a basketball game.  Toby was the star player:

Every day my brain fires constantly.  Most of the traffic is white noise, the sort of un-useful chatter that leads to restlessness, bouts of despondency and ultimately is largely a waste of energy.  If I wrote it all down I'd quickly have enough for a book but it would be an arduous read.  Correction: it would be unreadable!  I try to capture some of the more interesting thoughts in this blog.  Here are a couple of things that I have learnt.

Things are ongoing.  You don't find the solution and that's it.  You keep working at it.  So when I think things are going well I know that something may change.  I may change, my mood, my feelings.  The kids may change.  In fact they will change.  Constant feedback loop: review, change, do, review, change, do.  This is a better approach than forever trying to change something permanently.

Another thing: a few things I know I like.  It's been nearing 37 years so I think I can make some statements about things I like and will more than likely like forever.  I like cooking, physical activity outdoors (the criteria are natural elements plus exertive use of my body), wine, socialising with people who I like (last two should be combined), reading novels, hot showers, warm beds, uh-oh I'm starting to sound like a human.  I like radio.  I nearly forgot English beer, shame on me.

These last two paragraphs are contradictory but the point has been lost on me between writing them and now because my brain was given a hot rinse by an hour and a half of cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry.  Oh well.      

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

God save the Queen

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Happy Birthday to Alistair and to Allison!  Anyone who accuses me of not doing my very best to raise my Canadian children in the British tradition, watch this.  When Grandma is coming around for her birthday tea what should we do Felicity?  Put on our very nicest Confiture dress (kindly donated by our friends the Anejas of B'lh'm, England), pull out our dog-earred copy of Good Housekeeping's "Cookery Book" and turn to scones.  Not an ounce of sugar goes into these little darlings (until of course you dollop half a jar or jam on each one) and they have a reassuring paucity of ingredients, relying on butter and salt to salve our taste buds.  My own Granny used to turn these things out in industrial quantities and although I did not approach her standard today, warm and fresh from the oven these were just great.  And by the way, technically the kids are dual nationality or they will be once I get around to ordering their passports.   

For our Canadian readers out there, rest assured.  For every old world culinary experience there is a quintessentially Canadian one right around the corner.  In fact today, before any of this baking nonsense, we had already spent half an hour in pitch battle with eighteen separate items of outdoor wear, bundled our little party duly clad out the door and into the Chariot trailer and, ignoring the -5C on the mercury and the biting gales that gave us a wind chill in the minus teens, biked to the swimming pool.  Too bloody cold to take pictures but there is definitely something reassuringly Canadian about negotiating frozen roads and frostbite just to get to pool.  

Later I took to the running path sporting my special underpants, the ones with the strategically positioned windproof patch.  There was a time when I did not own this equipment (I now own two pairs) and can therefore attest to their absolute, undeniable indispensability.  I know you are wondering so here is a picture:
On that note, I will bid you a good night.

Monday, November 17, 2014

And it begins

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Look what arrived today!  No, not him.  He's been around for ages.  The snow!  The snow!  This is met by some with fear and trepidation and by others with unbridled excitement.  In all honesty there is an element of apprehension - winter is long and the cold gets painful at times and the snow and ice can be relentless and tiring.  But... it is spectacular and we live in a city that has access to one of the best cross country ski facilities in the world.  If you don't believe me I refer you to last season's photo of Shilly Shally hut.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  This may be a flash in the pan.  In the meantime what has we been up to?

I don't do the blog at weekends mainly because its purpose is somewhat negated.  I have Crystal around to share my experiences with in real time and that's how I prefer it.  The blog is to some extent my sounding board.  I've always been someone who wants to share experiences with people, to have someone to turn to and say 'wow!'.  Not that the kids aren't wonderful company but they see things through different eyes and the sympathy is limited.  The weekend was decent - a trail run at Wolf, a birthday party at Crystal's co-workers and a tree transplanting brunch on Sunday.

Monday dawned not only with snow but also plans of the EYC playgroup.  But Felicity got up late, showed no interest in leaving the house and discovered a big box.  So we stayed put, Toby napped at 9am and Felicity wore her pyjamas until noon.  Having been up since 5.15am I was happy just to gently steer the youngsters through their day of free play and merrymaking.  It felt like an experiment in what if we do nothing?  And today it worked.  We did go to the grocery store and it helped hugely that Toby had two naps because there is only so much that the two of them can tolerate of each other.

On the way to the grocery store Felicity picked up some snow.  "Daddy can I take the snow into the mall?".  Dad: "Well what does snow turn into when it gets hot?".  "A ladybug (ladybird)!".  "Well not exactly but I can see where your thinking is at".

Felicity helped me to make dinner while Toby had Nap II.  She did an incredible job of peeling the garlic cloves of an entire bulb.  Now I know why they get kids to stitch soccer balls (footballs).  Such patience and dexterity.  And I didn't pay her a cent (penny).

Things finally started to unravel after Nap II.  Everyone is getting tired and Dad is now frustrated by the insurmountable mess but Mum gets home just in time to whisk the kidlets upstairs and let Dad restore his cherished order, somewhat.

Tomorrow is a busy day with swimming, grandparents visiting and Grandma's birthday dinner at Kristy's.  Expect tantrums and timeouts.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chez Grandparents

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Another cold day so we decided to drop Crystal at school and head out to her parents for the day.  This meant we could do another forest walk, Felicity could see the horses, Sab could teach her all the names of the trees and she could indulge her favourite pastime, jumping off things.  We also got to enjoy Don Giovanni which fortunately is in Italian as the story seems quite inappropriate for the under-3s.  

Week two draws to a close.  Lots still to work on.  I am reasonably satisfied with the mix of activities that we are doing.  Where I really want to improve is my relationship with Felicity and thus my ability to get her to want to co-operate.  It's time to do some reading.  We are both quite stubborn and I am not good at making things 'fun'.  My excuse is that I am a type 2 fun person.  This means that I derive my fun from the feeling that you get having done something, usually a long and uncomfortable physical challenge such as a bike ride.  I enjoy the actual activity and doing the activity is fun for me but it is the whole package experience that is so fulfilling and 'fun'.  Type 1 fun is the more conventional silly, funny fun.  I am crap at this.  I need to loosen up and have some god damn fun, man.

Mud Lake

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Yesterday we went swimming and visited the bank as a family to try to sort out their RESPs.  These are the education funds that should help pay for their post-secondary education.  What a thought, especially when you see the little man run about on the sofa in his sister's hand me down tights.  This outfit was in preparation for a chilly walk at Mud Lake.

My latest challenge is dealing with Toby's new obsessive climbing tendency.  I can no longer take my eye off him for a second.  He is very sophisticated in that he will wheel his toy aeroplane over to the climbing problem that he has identified and then use it to get started on his way up.  Once on the sofa he loves to run from one end to the other but has already taken some head first dives at the carpet.  This means we have to train him not to.  Great gross motor skill development; moderate risk of brain injury.

Mud Lake is very close to home and is a conservation area.  It's a lake with some woods around it and nice footpath that is Toby friendly.  We went with Amanda and Heidi and Cedar on a near zero breezy morning.  I think we would all be better for daily forays into the woods.  That big tomato that looks a lot like Toby seems to agree.

This is a premier bird watching spot being a rare oasis for migrating birds to rest and refuel in amongst the city sprawl.  I was quite convinced that we had scared all the birds away but this little friendly fellow stuck around.

Good sharing you two...

Lots of ducks.  This is where the Chariot nearly ran into the lake.  Ooops.