Monday, November 25, 2013

The Week - no - Month That Was


As inspired by our Manitoulin farming friends and our Thanksgiving dinner guests,
we have now started to receive organic fruit/veg box delivery every other week.
It is a fun challenge to see if I can cook it all up before it goes to waste. 

Walking home from daycare.  We still do not have a car.
Now the leaves are gone, but for a while Henry was well-coordinated with the autumn foliage.

Halloween! Henry is still learning how his body works.
His enjoyment of Halloween was rather hampered by fighting with his bowels.

After many weeks, many tears, many fiber cookies and laxatives, our first success!

But then, nothing can get Fireman Henry down!

Luther provides some moral support.

A short but very sweet visit from Taed and Bubbi.

Henry at a 3rd birthday party with a Chinchilla on his head.

Mr. Brave.

Mr. Brave a 2nd time.  He didn't want to be outdone by the girls.

Buying cheese from the butcher, they gave Henry 2 slices of salami.  Happy camper.

A good friend had an extra ticket, didn't know much about Mazzy Star,
but highly recommended for post-midnight listening. 
This is Henry's preferred position for dealing with poo.

A quick trip to Ottawa (see last post).  The view from Gatineau hotel room just after 6am.
Note the traffic jam.  A bit of a taxi nightmare.

Ode to Paddington Bear's cookbook (and Christine McN!)

Speed racer!

Henry's 2nd home

Christmas trees are here!

Going to the bake sale to look for more dinosaur cookies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Blonde Approach to Reducing Carbon Emissions

I'm sitting in business class on a VIA rail train going from Toronto to Ottawa.

After getting on the wrong car and trying to kick some gentlemen out of "my seat" I discovered I was in the wrong car.  Then I forget my coat in the overhead bin and a kind man ran after me.  I then tried to kick a lady out of "my seat" in the business class car, only to discover that all along I was looking at the seat number for my return journey.  

After the clearly "blonde" probably-mother-of-young-child (who incidentally didn't sleep between 3:30-6:00 due to his cough and fever), settled down, the magic of business class settled in.  While the wi-fi is excruciatingly slow and I've resorted to working offline, almost as soon as we pulled out of union station the free booze started flowing.  Then we got free dinner: stuffed roast pork with roast potatoes and veg, fresh bread roll, chocolate mouse square and more wine and coffee.

I decided against a short-haul flight (1 hour) between Toronto and Ottawa for both environmental and stress reasons.  I love the low-key aspects to train travel; the freedom to walk around, use electronics and not worry too much about packing banned substances.  For instance I took a full aerosol can of hairspray and 200ml of facial lotion in my carry-on suitcase!  While the travel time is 4 hours, I only had to show up 30 minutes before boarding (but I showed up only 20 minutes ahead of time), I can work non-stop if I wish and feel super productive.  If I flew, I would need to arrive in the best-case scenario with Porter out of Billy Bishop Island Airport 45 min before the flight.  But this would involve a taxi ride down to Bathurst, taking the 1 minute ferry, waiting in the check-in line, baggage check, etc...  Then another 1 hour in the sky, followed by a 30 minute taxi ride to the hotel.  So about 2.5 hours all told.  

So probably I'm spending an extra 2 hours travelling by taking the train.  But those 2 extra hours as well as the rest of the time, will be 100% productive and stress-free.  So long as I'm able to find the right seat.  We'll see how easily I'm able to find my hotel room tonight...sheesh! 

What's more, I believe in reducing my carbon-footprint whenever possible.  My understanding is that short-haul flights are the least environmentally friendly.  This website, the Man in Seat 61 is a long-time favourite of mine and an excellent guide for anyone looking to travel anywhere by rail.  This link outlines that taking the train is roughly 90% less polluting than flying short-haul.

Also, I hope that by choosing rail over air, I'm putting in a vote towards building a high-speed rail network in Canada.  To me this is a no-brainer so long as funding and safety are adequately addressed.  


It has been a while since my last blog and a post should be forthcoming to catch up in pictures.  

I will say however that Henry is impressing me lately with his singing, counting and spelling.  He woke up one morning and starting pumping his fist and making symbol crashing sounds before launching into a convincing rendition of "Oh Canada" followed by another symbol crash at the end.  We believe they changed the tape at school recently, as they play the anthem every morning.  

Henry is able to identify, I would guess about 75% of the letters of the alphabet, and can spell out 3 letter words like car, cat, hot etc...  He is also able to count to 20, and do very basic adding and subtracting like, what's one plus one?  What's 3 plus 1?

I'm hoping to sign him up for music lessons in the new year, but this is still tbd.  

This next month and a bit leading up to Christmas look to be filled with bake sales, choir rehearsals, more baking, and present buying/making and shopping etc...  We've already started Henry's list to Santa, and can't wait to see how much more he is able to take in this year as a 3 year old.  

Let the magic begin!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Toronto the Good Times

I have a hard time telling Henry what I do for work.  

"Mummy works in an office.  I sit at a desk, write messages into the computer, talk on the phone, go to meetings, and write more messages."  I hope he thinks that is very cool and inspiring.  

It is also pointed out to him that by doing this work, we have money to buy Mr. Men books and ice cream.

So life is pretty good.

I stayed late at work on Wednesday and took the liberty to walk up Bay Street to City Hall to see the Ai Weiwei installation that was still there after Nuit Blanche, and I took some pictures along the way.

"The sheer quantity of bikes and the diverse perceptions of viewing points create a colossal labyrinth-like, visually moving space, which represents the changing social environment in China and around the globe."

The Bay St. office tower where I work, on the 4th floor mind you.
Bay Street, walking north towards Old City Hall.

New City Hall 

Ai Weiwei installation for Nuit Blanche

Toronto architectural melange

Melange II

I thought I was smiling.

Over the weekend, I had Henry pretty much to myself both days.  So we braved the chilly air and lack of public transit (b/c of marathon) to visit the Distillery District.  Henry tried a caramel chocolate at Soma, and watched some chocolate discs be decorated with nuts.  We walked around, saw old farm trucks, interesting sculptures, bought a toy at Bergo, marvelled at the awesome novelties there, and had a coffee and banana bread in a very artsy and sophisticated coffee shop.  Fun and exhausting morning, and the boy still didn't nap in the afternoon.  I have a feeling the naps are starting to wane. But not if I can help it!

He savoured every bite.  But still likes lollipops better.

"Mummy what is this?"  "A thing to climb on!"

"Just change this, add an extra layer, and I'll approve this design."

Little Helper has been asking to make pumpkin muffins.  I used canned puree and cheated.
For all those curious.

Sunday was brunch at Aunt V and Uncle T.  They served all his favourite foods!

Family resemblance?

Henry can now identify the letters H, O and sometimes S, T and C.  Does that spell Scotch?  OMG.  He's also learning simple addition.  If you ask him what's one plus one, he'll say 2.  What's 3 plus 1, there's a bit more of a pause, but often he'll come up with 4.  

While I'm proud of his learning, my sharing this has more to do with how much in awe I am of how people work.  How we are born with the desire and ability to learn.  And how complex and lengthy the learning process is in order to be a typical adult.  

For the next little while I think it's settling into winter, wrapping up the year, preparing for the next one.  But, we'll see what comes our way.

Monday, October 14, 2013

click click click

click click click

The roller coaster has shifted gears and after the initial white-knuckled anticipation and wild descent, the machine clicks clicks into the next gear, a series of less dramatic twists and turns that feels actually quite fun.

Thanksgiving just clicked away and we're on course for Halloween and Christmas.

Let's narrate through pictures:

Henry has finally adapted to the Senior room.  He has been naughty of late pushing other children and not listening.   We're doing our best to navigate the love and understanding vs. the discipline.

Last week for the first time in over 2 1/2 years, Henry had to sleep without Mr. Pickles.  The new room keeps the sleep toys in a bucket inside the room and they don't always make their way back to the cubbies in the afternoon.  So when I picked Henry up and was told he was pushing and misbehaving, I became too distracted to remember to go inside the room and retrieve his friends.  Putting Henry to sleep was fine, but when he woke up in the middle of the night, he cried and screamed the most pitiful and sorrowful cry for an hour and a half.

Stephen texted me the following morning to report that their reunion in the Senior Room was "magical."

Market Days of pizza, ice cream and buying fresh produce have come to an end.  We will be re-introducing library days starting this week.

Henry is now an Animal Rescuer, a la Dora the Explorer and Diego.  He takes very good care of his pet cat Luther (most of the time), and here he's reading Luther a story for breakfast, which is something Henry loves for us to do for him.

Henry's Room I

Henry's Room II

Henry's Room III

Henry's Room IV

Henry's Room V

Henry's Room VI

Housewarming party--probably the last BBQ of the year

Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer.

Animal Rescuer tempts fate.

Finally big enough to push the wheels of the trike by himself!

Finally not scared of his 2nd birthday toy the remote-control firetruck.

Thanksgiving  Autumn Harvest Pumpkin

Quiet holiday weekend at home, brings smiles all around.

Animal Rescuer is certainly not above manual labour.

And me?  I've joined a gym, am enjoying choir, trying to get the house organized, trying to keep up with emails, blogs, hoping to organize a babysitter for November so Stephen & I can see a play together.  Bracing for the rain and cold toes.  Already planning for Christmas.  Trying out new recipes, baking too much.

I'm very excited that Alice Munro won a Nobel Prize.  My father gave me Dance of the Happy Shades when I was 14 years old.  I did a book report on it, and so started my love for her writing which, like her writing has unwavered.

It seems that it's taken three years for us as a family of three to find our groove.  If there's one thing I'm particularly thankful for this year, it's that we have clicked and are enjoying our precious time together.