Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Fun!

It's hard to believe that we're ten days away from Christmas. The weather has decided to cooperate dumping a nice white blanket across Toronto and Southern Ontario (although definitely scary to be trapped in your car for more than 24 hours and require rescue by the military). And the lights are up, so what if the eavesthroughs didn't quite get cleaned.

We got our tree on the weekend - cut down by yours truly - and our house is decorated. Most gift purchasing has been accomplished, even if it required all of my and my wife's combined interneting skills. Let's hoping that key package can make its way here from Kitchener . . .

I'm definitely excited for the holidays, but what has been truly astounding is seeing the little man get so excited. This time around will be his second Christmas and he's in full holiday mode. What he loved most about the last one was eating the wrapping paper. I think hope we've progressed. I'm still not sure he gets it, but he loves the lights, the decorations and the carols. Maybe not during his daycare Christmas Holiday Concert (he balled after the first song), but he is pointing and thrilled by everything Christmassy.  He recognises pictures of Santa, declaring "Ho Ho Ho!" every time he seems the chubby old St. Nick's likeness. Where did he learn that?

He loves the snow too, although it's sometimes confusing for us parents since his word for "snow" sounds an awful like his very authoritative "no".

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vacation Rules!

Sand Castles

Hang Ten!

This morning I awoke, sore and stiff. The little man was requesting a story from his Pack N Play, three feet away.  A glance at the clock revealed a time of 5:50 am. Success! We are almost on Pacific time, only 8 days into vacation. This morning's sleep-in, however, was tempered with the aches in my arms, shoulders and back.

As quickly as my non-cooperative body allowed, I dressed the wee man and whisked him off to another Starbucks breakfast. We then strolled down the path, through the palms and pines to playground for a view over the bluffs of the sand and surf.

Today's gentle orderly rollers and clear blue sky quickly revealed why my body was complaining so much - so these are ideal surfing conditions. The questions from the surf shop the day before now made perfect sense upon seeing these perfect waves.  Yesterday's pounding white-capped random chaos, although fun, may explain our inability to actually ride any waves as well as my body's bruises, at least that's my story.

Little man, don't wait as long as your old man to learn how to surf. And when you do, start with a day like today.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oliver & the Ocean

Today we headed down to La Jolla for a morning of Black Friday shopping and some lounging on the beach. Up early with the little man, the sun was shinning and everything felt right. Walking down Prospect St to the beach, the wee one couldn't stop pointing and babbling away. He loves the ocean, the waves and the water. Although he was a bit reticent about putting his feet in the sand, the cormorants, sea lions and surf more than made up for it.

He truly loves the seaside and I have to say that I can't fault his taste. Tomorrow - Surfing. He may have some more laughs, but this time at his old man's expense.

San Diego Sunset

San Diego

Beach fun

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy World Toilet Day!

We haven't started potty training the wee man yet, but we are priviliged to live in a part of the world where sanitation is clean, effective and easy (at least most of the time). Many others are not so foturnate.

November 19th is World Toilet Day. A day to celebrate the importance of sanitation and raise awareness for the 2.6 billion people (nearly half of the world's population) who don't have access to toilets and proper sanitation.

According to the WTO (World Toilet Organization):
2.6 billion people worldwide are without access to proper sanitation, which risks their health, strips their dignity, and kills 1.8 million people, mostly children, a year.
Diarrheal diseases kill five times as many children in the developing world as HIV/AIDS.

That's 5,000 children DYING EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Not only that, but the disease kills more children than either malaria or AIDS, stunts growth, and forces millions - adults and children alike - to spend weeks at a time off work or school, which hits both a country's economy and its citizens' chances of a better future. The majority of the illness in the world is caused by fecal matter.
Lack of sanitation is the world's biggest cause of infection.
One gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs.
Safe disposal of children's feces leads to a reduction of nearly 40% in childhood diarrhea.

 Please share the message.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Well that was difficult

On Sunday night I got off a fifteen hour flight from Hong Kong. Worn out, tired and hungry, I passed through customs, grabbed my bags off the luggage carousel and struggled through the airport. I was looking for the taxi stand to complete the final leg of the journey home after two weeks away travelling through China and Hong Kong for work.

In a semi-daze, I located the sign directing me towards the waiting cars and then did a double-take. Mummum and the little man had a made a trek of their own out to the airport to surprise me! It was awesome.

I missed them tremendously over the two weeks I was away (missing both Hallowe'en and my wife's birthday). It was the longest I had ever been separated from the little man.  Sure we video-chatted regularly and many photos were emailed, but wow did I miss him and his mom.

He's changed a ton in two weeks too. He's taller. He has more hair. He has more words.

And he likes his panda.

It's good to be home.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Team Toddler Dinners

We've learned that feeding toddlers after a long day at work and
daycare is best achieved in a group to avoid tantrums and flying food.
It really does take a village.... to raise a toddler at least.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Toronto Fashion Week

I have a new respect for fashion designers. I've always fancied myself somewhat handy around a sewing machine - at least since my days in Home Ec back in grade 9. Isn't it like a riding a bike? Can't just pick it  up again 15 years later? So what the hell is a bobbin? Ahhh, thank you google.

I broke out the machine while on parental leave. I had grand plans of making stuffed friends, bloomers and maybe some cool outfits. Armed with some newly purchased thread, pins and elastic with a library book of cool kiddie projects under my arm I dusted off the vintage machine donated by our great-grandmother. One tag-blankie later and the machine was returned to the bottom of a basement "storage system"/pile of stuff in the corner.

Well it's time to unearth it again. Hallowe'en is fast approaching and after weeks of procrastination the little man's costume needs to get finished this weekend. He's napping now so you think this would be the ideal time to start. Instead I'm procrastinating on the interweb.

The plan is to make him a lion costume.

Updates (including photos) to come!

Swimming fun!

This summer we learned that the little man loves the water. At his Gia-Gia's house in Edmonton he loved going for a dip twice a day. So this fall we signed him up for lessons at the local pool. It's perfect. For half an hour every Sunday morning we suit up and hop.

He loves it.

All except for the backfloats, but we'll get there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Days of Defiance

Fatherhood Friday at Dad BlogsI've postponed this post. Originally it was simply "A Day of Defiance". Unfortunately, the details have spread, like some sort of black plague or bedbug hysteria, across the rest of the week. It seems that the wee man has learned the power of the tantrum. His parents (yup, I'm one of them), however, still haven't quite figured things out.

There is no worse sound that your little one wailing. You want to not only to stop the heart-rending sound, you want to address the root problem, you need to alleviate the concern. It's not enough to comfort - you need to FIX. The difficulty, I'm slowly grasping, is when there is nothing to fix. Fulfilling strange whims at ungodly hours doesn't necessarily equal fix.

To boil it down: is he really in pain/in need or does he just want something?

I fear the former are decreasing and the latter increasing.  On the plus, he's not genuinely hurt which is good, but on the downside it's getting hard to tell when he actually needs help.

What he wants is to watch videos. Specifically the video we shot at the zoo a couple of weeks ago. OK, so he loves the animals. But up screaming to see them and himself on the computer at 4am isn't really reasonable, not that I'm trying to reason with an 18-month old. Not only would it be better for him to get his much-needed rest, it would definitely be better for his parents. Those same parents that have to go to work later that morning and don't have the luxury of a three hour nap. Although the space under my desk is looking increasingly appealing.

If I can't nap, at least I can google "emotional blackmail". . .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Seasonal Decor

Fall is here. It's dark before 7pm, the leaves have turned and we've switched the furnace on. Hallowe'en is just around the corner. Work is underway on costumes and turning the front yard into a fearsome festival of fright.

Inside things are a bit different. In days of old you might have found a seasonal display of autumnal vegetables (strangely shaped gourds, dried coloured ears of corn, the odd mini-pumpkin) or a centrepiece of brightly coloured leaves. Well, not really. I've never been much of a Martha Stewart. But last night as we had a nice family dinner I couldn't help and notice that amongst the wreckage of mismatched placemats, chunks of escaped foodstuffs and discarded bibs was a diaper. Smack in the centre of the table.  It was a nice and fresh one, but still there it was.  A diaper.

So if you're coming over for dinner, you've been warned.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Space and Time

As an adult, I am fairly used to things being measured in days. You go on a trip for 10 days. It's a few days before the weekend. Today I had a bad day. Usually things hold for the whole of the day.  Something my son has taught me is that there are no absolutes and they definitely are not affixed to the arbitrary unit of a day.

Today - perfect example. It started off pretty much as a train wreck. Up in the middle of the night. Up early.

Fought breakfast.

Cried on the walk to music class.

Cried through music class.

Cried on the walk home.

But then, after nap, we pushed through and made it to the Science Centre, and then everything was right in the world.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What Goes In Must Come Out

Fatherhood Friday at Dad BlogsSince we started solid food about a year ago, the wee has always been a pretty good eater. He enjoys scarfing back all sorts of delicacies - from parma ham to aged cheeses, Belgian chocolates to wild fresh caught salmon, used kleenex carefully liberated from waste containers and muddy coarse sand that normally inhabits the playground.

Often his daily daycare report comes back with word of two servings or more at every meal and snack time. A surreptitious flip through the clipboard and his classmates are only pushing a measly one and a half. Of late, however, at home, his cooperation in mealtimes has been somewhat lacking. Moments after the Mediterranean seafood medley or dry-cured AAA Alberta steak has landed on his placemat it hits the floor, walls and ceiling. I know he really likes to help clean up, but I'm not convinced of the current method. It's getting hard to tell what colour the drapes used to be let alone how much he has actually eaten.

But changing his diaper last night I can guarantee that he ate his asparagus.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pump up the Jam

Tonight after a moderately successful dinner - the chunks that covered the floor were large enough to be easily gathered and the smeary hands didn't end up on parental clothing - we kicked back for a little family fun time. The wee man gathered up his new plastic animals and found them a new home, in amongst the cables, modem and speaker wires behind the amp. Spinning the nobs and pushing buttons, he was working the sound equipment like a veteran of the club circuit. Being old, the beats that sprung to my mind were less Pete Tong and more "Pump up the jam" alongside a little "Whoomp, there it is".

Should I be concerned that he seemed to know the words? What do they do at daycare?

Tomorrow we might have to Jump! Jump! as the Mac Daddy makes us . . .

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feminine Fragrances

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
Sometimes I wonder if my son is having an affair. Maybe a romance with an older woman?

Every day I pack him off to daycare, bundled securely in the blanket of our family's love. I drop him off and he can't wait to be rid of me. Does he not want me to see something? Does he not want me to know?

Despite his joy of seeing me at pick-up, I still can't shake the feeling that there's some sort of magnetic attraction pulling him back, away from me. He misses daycare on the weekends, and we have fun, but there's just something off. Something nagging at me, like lipstick on the collar, or folded restaurant receipts tucked away in his wallet.

Maybe it's just because he smells like he's strolled through beauty section of major department store and stopped at every fragrance counter for a sample squirt. Actually that's it. Now where did I put that shampoo?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summer, Summer, Summertime

Second week of September and already summer is fading from memory. Fall seems to have wrapped us in her cooling embrace. The leaves haven't gone yet, but the days of sipping pints on patios is well passed, football has begun (I've already seen more than all of last season) and shorts aren't really an option any more. 
It was a great summer though!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

Over the long weekend we decided to head to the zoo. It was a grey day with "chance of showers". We thought it would be a bit of gamble. On his many trips to Riverdale Farm, the wee man has shown only fleeting interesting the various beasts. As he's gotten older though, his interest has seemed to grow. If his vocab is any judge, all he knows are animals.

He liked the zoo in Edmonton, but would he be down with its bigger cousin in the Tdot?

We needn't have worried. The first enclosure we discovered was the Sumantran tiger. He thought these were some cool cats. Then when we rounded the corner there was the elephants. "Wow!" Then in pretty short order "ellafulalunt". Now he was hooked. No riding in the stroller, forget sitting still atop daddy's shoulders. This kid was off to the races to see what animal was lurking behind the next bush, tree or bend in the path. Good thing there was a fence between us and the lions.

We rounded out the day with a stop by the rescued Polar Bears. These were the best animals yet.

We will be returning.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Date Night

Labour day, the last long weekend of summer.  Three days of mumum and dada with the added bonus of Gia-Gia (grandma) and Aunty GaGa (my sister). It was to be a grand weekend. He was finally getting over his recent illness, we had support in additional adults, and he finally has gotten comfy with returning to daycare after various summer vacations. The stars were aligned. This was going to be big. It was time for date night, on a Saturday. And a big Date Night at that. It was our anniversary, our third, but the first time one of us wasn't pregnant or breastfeeding. Grand plans, I tell ya.

We were going to try something new, something hip even. We were going to try one of those trendy Toronto restaurants where they don't take reservations and sometimes you just have to sit at the bar and wait for your table. Good food, tasty cocktails, not feeling beholden to pint-sized despot. Even our babysitter didn't have curfew. This was going to be huge. We were going to go for it.

First we stopped at our resto of choice: unfortunately, closed for the weekend. Revamping the menu or something. OK, no biggie. We thought we'd try number two on the hip list.

Second stop: no resos allowed, but we won't seat you at the bar either. What happened to those tasty cocktails? And actually "how about you poke your little head in a little while and see how it's going".  Hmmm. Unfamiliar with the "head-poke" night out technique. We must be less cool than we used to be.

Third Stop: progress.  Got on the list, but with a wait time anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Are there any other restaurants round here?

Fourth, fifth and sixth stop: "What do you mean you don't have reservations?"  "But up the street they dont take them . . ." as doors close cooly in our faces forcing us back out in the unseasonably chilly night air. Did I mention that despite being the last long weekend of summer, the temperatures were closer to late fall? And weren't those lots of empty tables in there?

Pause for deliberations. We are definitely not cool enough anymore. How does this going out for dinner thing work again? Did it used to be like this? Why does that place stink like putrid fish? Has it always been this loud in restaurants? What? Where do we go now? Happy anniversary honey.

We finally did find somewhere to eat. Our waitress was great and the food decent, but it wasn't quite the night we'd planned.

And just to top it off, the little guy made sure to add his two cents. He clearly didnt see anything wrong with 4:30am start to Sunday.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Age of Wonder

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs
Vocabulary is a wonderful thing. We're starting to develop one with the little man. So far it's pretty monosyllabic, but he can communicate more clearly everyday. We've nailed words like Giraffe ("fiafia"), Sheep ("baa"), apple ("Pa") and baby ("bebe"). It's a pretty random assortment and I'm not sure how talking about baby giraffes who eat apples with sheep will help in a job interview down the road, but it's a start.  He's also pretty big on the wow-factor. Not just wowing his parents with new words, but the simple expression of "Wow!"

Case in point, picked him up from daycare with plans to meet mum-mum at the grocery store (after a couple of weekends lounging at cottages the shelves were pretty bare at home). Grocery stores don't really get my juices flowing, even if you count the rush from cashing in a coupon to save a quarter on some lunch meat or whole dollar on a pack of diapers. I actually particularly dislike the store in question - it's one of those all-organic with crazy high prices to match joints, even if the food is actually pretty good. Well we walked in the front door, the little man actually holding my hand instead of pulling his ragdoll resistance, and there was only one word for it:  "WOW"!

The whole place heard it. The entire store stopped in its tracks - the cashiers cracked up, the stock boys paused and mum-mum heard our arrival from way over in the produce section.

I'm thinking maybe we need to take him out more.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Graduation Day

Cue the Chris Isaak. Ollie has moved on up to the Senior room. It's still Infants, but now it's Senior Infants. Next stop: Toddlers, and then University (not that we have any expectations or anything).

Although as parents we were initially aprehensive of the change, something that can hit him pretty hard, it has actually come at a perfect time. Daycare has been a battle since we returned from vacation. He got quite used to having both parents around and he has been really protesting his return to daily abandonment. He didn't understand that it was only a "vacation". Compounding matters, he's changed a lot in that time too. Now that he is walking and running everywhere, his perspective on the world has changed. It's a couple of feet higher.

He's been reunited with his cohort in the senior room and the daily visits to the playground in place of a stroller walk are great fun (and help tire him out). Today's drop-off was the first since July where there were no tears. Let's carry that streak through to bedtime!

Oliver at the Zoo