Friday, August 31, 2007

Austin Day 3

I started the day off yesterday by taking Westley for a walk. Westley is Beth's dog. He is a cute, flop-eared, skittish fellow. He loves walks. Beth told me that walking Westley in the mornings would help her more than washing her baseboards, which was my original plan. So, Hope and I took Westley on a tour of the neighbourhood. The high humidity here means that a short walk is still a good workout because I sweat so much. When we were just about home I walked by the little park (Shipe Park in the Hyde Park area) that John and I took Emily to a lot two Christmases ago. It made me smile and think about my biggest girl. I really miss her. Hope had a ride on the swings while I commisserated with another mum about the weather and our frizzy hair.

Yesterday afternoon I traded flowers and a vase for my wallet. Yay again to Laura! She was super and I hope the flowers on her desk remind her of what a good person she is. We were then going to walk to Central Market in the late afternoon but Beth needed a rest. That was fine with me too since Hope has been sleeping badly (normally, really) and I was tired.

We had a great meal of fajitas last night. Austin fajitas rule. You actually buy the meat already marinated. The beef looks like crap raw - very grissely and fibrous but when it is barbecued it is lucious and tender and full of flavour. Add to that the freshly made tortilla shells that are sold at pretty much every corner store here. Just awesome.

Our nightly routine, after Hope is asleep, is to watch cool documentaries off the iMac. I tend to watch an episode of Planet Earth in the late afternoon and then we all watch something together after supper. Right now we're watching Seven Up. It is a British documentary that follows a group of children from all backgrounds and interviews them all every seven years starting at age 7. We're loving it so far but we all hate Suzie. She's nasty and racist and just evil.

Hope woke up around 10:00 last night crying and then again every 15 minutes. I reached my limit and told her I was just going to lay there in my bed while she figured it out. You know what? I think she got it because she didn't wake up again until 5:30. Oh sweet sleep, I've missed you so much. You know, when you haven't slept well in almost 4 months, you appreciate 7 uninterupted hours so much more when you finally get them. It's like tasting a fine wine that you might not have again for a long time and really relishing every sip.

This morning I walked to The Upper Crust, Beth and Graeme's favourite bakery to buy cinnamon buns for breakfast. Being that UT has just started up fall classes, they were sold out so I had to settle for pains au chocolats. Not exactly a hardship. Hope rode in the backpack. It is another wickedly humid day - 70%. I sweated on my walk. A LOT. At one point, I touched my arm and figured I had walked under a tree that had been dripping from last night's rainfall. Turns out it was a layer of sweat or moisture from the air or a mixture of both that was all over my skin. It is just so different from Ottawa humidity. I always thought Ottawa was pretty humid. It really doesn't compare to this. Texas is really quite tropical - there are palm trees and cactus growing in all the lawns and gardens. The rainstorms are downpours for 20 minutes. There are two colonies of parrots living here. It is so different and that makes it extra special. Also, it isn't Republican, which makes it extra extra special.

Hope is now sleeping as is Kate. Beth is working on her birth announcement and I'm going to tackle another job shortly. Later we'll walk to Central Market and maybe tonight we'll go see the Austin bats. I'm really looking forward to that.

Here is Kate in all her glory:

And Hope giving Beth a hand in changing Kate's diaper:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 1 and 2 in Austin

Yesterday I spent doing just a few little things around Beth's house - I swept up the leaves on the back deck, dug up (more like chipped out) a few of the tiniest potatoes I've ever seen, made some food for Hope, went for a walk with Beth, Kate, Westley and Hope, got Hope used to being here (she was a little out of sorts yesterday). Last night I got to meet Beth's friend and ex-employer Howard and his wife Laura Sue. That was nice.

The mornings are nice and mellow so far. We ease into the day with feeding the kids, email, food, sitting around in our pj's for a while. This morning I took Westley for a walk to the grocery store while Hope slept. You know what? Texas is stinking hot and Austin? Stinking humid. Beth laughed when I said that and told me this wasn't hot or humid. I guess it's like tourists complaining about the cold weather in Ottawa in November.

After lunch we loaded up the wee ones and headed to REI for a bit of shopping. Beth needed to pick up the Chariot stroller attachment and I needed to get some travel mugs for John. Seems odd but he loves the clip handle that just isn't available on Canadian versions. And his last installment was run over after he left it on the roof of our car. This will be a theme you will soon see. Anyway, I bought him two.

We were on our way to our next stop, Beth's chiropractor, when I realized I had left my wallet on the roof of the car. This after totally making fun of John for leaving the keys on the roof of our car last week (the full saga of that mishap will follow in the next few days) and the aforementioned REI mug. We retraced our route back to REI/Book People. I searched around our parking spot and the route we took out of the parking lot. I asked in Book People, REI and Whole Foods. No luck. I felt sick to my stomach. I had $250 in there, birth certificates, health cards, Emily's SIN card, not to even mention my Bridgehead coffee card and my Fabricland stamp card.

I called VISA and put a block on my card. I called TD Bank and asked what I should do. I called and emailed John so he could start dealing with the birth certificates and health cards.

John called me back right at the end of the day to tell me there was a message on our home phone from a woman from Texas who got my phone number from the Ottawa Early Years Centre. She had my wallet. I was to call her. I left a message and will likely see her tomorrow with gifts in hand.

Laura, you rule.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why airline travel sucks

Yesterday - August 27, 2007 - a day which will live in infamy. Karen and Hope endured a day of travel which was suddenly and undeliberately of the suck-ass variety.

I arrived at the Ottawa airport to find out that my flight was delayed by two hours. Oh well, we would just do a bit of shopping, eat our little dinner and I would let Hope crawl around.

Baggage check. The woman saw something suspiciously like a knife on the scanner when my bag went through. She unpacked part of the bag. Sent the bag through again. Still a knife, or to quote her: "there is definitely a knife in your bag." She was starting to sound agitated. Not as agitated as me, who very well knew there was no knife in my bag. Turns out that Burt's Bees Diaper Ointment looks suspiciously like a knife to this woman. Look for it to be banned fairly soon.

U.S. Customs (which you clear in Ottawa). Did I have a letter notarized by my husband allowing me to travel alone with this child? Um, no. Do I need that? Angry customs agent then decided to let me go through. Apparently the fact that my last name is different from Hope's sends these people into a right state. Never mind the fact that my last name is her second middle name and right there on her damn passport. I suppose his small pea-sized brain wasn't able to process the fact that having the same last name as your child still doesn't preclude you from trying to kidnap them. Just ask that woman in South Carolina. Oh well, at least he was able to unleash his venom on my socialist homeland by suggesting that "maybe you should take your husband's name instead. Gee, what a novel idea!" Seriously. He said that. Seriously, I wanted to beat him with my socialist passport.

Gate. I couldn't find my boarding pass. I had Hope's only. It wasn't an e-ticket so not having my pass was a SERIOUS problem. I looked everywhere. Either it was never issued or it was left behind at the site of the great de-bagging of 2007. And yet somehow Mr. Pickle Up His Ass Customs Agent somehow let me through without it. I guess he was too blinded by my feminist ideals. Woman at gate let me go through anyway because she didn't know what else to do and oh, because I was starting to cry. Just a little. Thought it might sway things my way.

Arrive Chicago with an hour to spare before my connection. Oh, actually 3 hours because the flight to Austin has been delayed until 10:30. I make my way to the gate with all my crap. I set it all down at one point to put Hope in the sling because I'm feeling like an overburdened camel. She squawks a bit causing Mr. Big Fat Cell Phone dude to shoot me a look that could kill. He's lucky my hands were full because otherwise his cellphone would be elbow distance up his ever expanding ass. What's with the low tolerance in the U.S. of babies crying once in a while? And I won't even begin to talk about breastfeeding in public....

Arrive at gate. Turns out flight is delayed to 11:30. This means I have 4 hours to sit in what has to be the crappiest departure gate in O'Hare. You'd think Hope would have lost it. I seriously didn't pull one toy out in 4 hours. She was captivated by the following: a water bottle, the planes landing and filling and luggage moving etc, the people around us, my marble cake from Starbucks, the gate attendants shoes, the pillar with the peeling paint, the chairs, the carpet, herself. She was nothing short of astounding.

Finally get on a plane at 11:20ish. Arrive Austin 1:45 local time.

Damn I'm tired.

Kate is so beautiful though and I'm totally thrilled to be here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Texas bound

I'm off to Texas in a few hours. I have so much to pull together before I leave the house. I hate feeling rushed and yet, here I am again.

I'll post from Texas to give you the updates. Until I'm back though, have a great 10 days everyone.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Eyes half shut

I don't know what is up with Hope. Three nights ago I was up with her from 2 until 4:30. At 4:30 I finally slept on her floor. It was the only way I could get her to stay asleep. The two nights after that were better. I got to sleep in my own bed.

Last night it happened again. She was up at 11:30, at 1:15, at 3:00, at 4:00. I checked all the usuals and finally figured it must be the three teeth that are about to erupt. I gave her Motrin. At 4:30 after trying everything to get her back to sleep, I climbed in bed ready to let her cry. John went in and slept on her floor until 8:00.

We're driving to the cottage this morning and I wanted to leave by 8:00.

Emily peed in her bed again.

Right now, life could be a bit better.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Feeling frantic

My dad and Donna were visiting the last two days or so. It was a nice distraction. I completely had my head in the sand about getting ready for a big family weekend at the cottage (John's family is all congregating at my family's cottage for a 65th birthday celebration for John's mom - and celebrating Emily and Hope's birthdays, too) and my trip to Texas on Monday. Add to that the fact that we're having friends over for dinner tonight. I know that sounds like incredibly bad planning but I couldn't do it any other night this week and these friends are moving to Virginia next week.

Anywho. I'm feeling a wee bit frantic, even panicked right now. I have A LOT to do. First, I have to get the house tidied. Luckily I did a deep clean a couple of days ago so now I just have to mop the main floor and clean the bathrooms on the top floor. I'll do that late tonight or on Monday morning. I have to make dinner and dessert for tonight.

I should probably shower.

Then I have to pack for the cottage. We're leaving first thing tomorrow. I can think more about Texas on Sunday night/Monday morning. A new panic will ensue at that point.

I'm really excited about going to Texas but I wish I could hire a professional chef, packer and organizer just for today. That would be sweet. Any volunteers?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Aeroplan has come through for me

I rebooked my flights for Texas. Unlike a few years ago when I had a BRUTAL experience, Aeroplan/Air Canada totally came through for me and the woman on the phone was really great.

I leave Monday August 27 at 4:51 arriving in Austin around 11 pm (ick. poor Hope) and return to Ottawa on September 6. I'll be there about 10 days. I'm so excited but at the same time feel sick about being away for 10 days. The longest I've been away from Emily is one night and that was really difficult. I'm sure I'll cry a few times. Or maybe I'll love it.

Hope will be with me, obviously, since John doesn't have boobs.

Baby Texan has arrived

Beth called me yesterday morning at 8:30 to tell me her water had broken at 11:30 the night before and that Graeme was in Boston when it happened. She was at the birth centre. She'd been there since her water broke. Graeme was on flights trying to get back to Austin. He wasn't expected for another 5 hours. She was worried he wouldn't make it in time. The midwives were going to try to slow things down with positioning. She said she'd call me later.

At first I was worried that he wouldn't make it. Her contractions were 4 minutes apart. But then I remembered that this was her first birth and she very likely had HOURS ahead of her. I was glad I hadn't reminded her of this on the phone. You don't really need to hear that when you are already several hours in.

I was right. Baby Texan was born last evening "around 6 or 7, I'm not sure," according to Graeme. As of last night, Beth was doing fine, although there was still some bleeding the midwives were trying to slow down but it looked like it would be fine. The baby (I never asked her name... but I assume they're still going with the original choice of Kate - suggested by yours truly) is doing great, too, with only a bit of bruising on her head (sounds like the last while was pretty tough on Beth and B.T.). She weighed around 7 pounds so although she was officially a month early, I think in reality she was right on time.

I hope to get more details from Beth today. I'll spend my day trying to get Aeroplan to get me a flight to Texas leaving earlier than my original departure date of September 20.

Congratulations, guys! Get some pictures to us! Erika, I'm so glad to be an aunt with you!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Alert Weight Watchers

Emily's take on healthy living:

"Daddy, wanna peach? They're really good for your body.... they make you big and strong.... and fat!"

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who needs a wet wipe?

Hope had just woken up from her nap. Emily was already awake. I had both of them playing in Hope's crib. I checked and removed Hope's diaper and then lifted her out of the crib.

"Hope's pee just got in my face!"

"Sorry, Emily."

"That's okay... I wiped it off..."

"Oh, that's good."

"...with my tongue."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WCW: laziness or maybe just too damned busy

Until 5:15 I had plans to make vegetable risotto for supper and, it being Wednesday, to share the recipe here. But at 5:15 I was pulling into the driveway after standing at Future Shop for twenty minutes to return our decrepit portable DVD player, standing in line at Walmart to buy toilet paper and stopping at the community centre to get a number so that I could stand in line there at 5:45.

We ate pizza for supper.

I promise that next week I will wow you all with something. Something preferably homemade and not in a cardboard box.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Updated lens wear

It's been two years since I last got new glasses and since that means my insurance is willing to pay up for some new ones, I jumped in and got new contacts and new glasses. A shear lens wear windfall!

Here are the new glasses:

Here is a less artsy shot of me actually wearing them:

You can't really tell from the photos, but they're red. A very updated Sally Jesse Raphael.

Emily's take on theology

Me: Did you hear a story at Vacation Bible School this morning?

Emily: Yes.

Me: What was it about?

Emily: Jesus and his magic stick.

(Later I found out that it was really about Moses and his magic stick a.k.a the parting of the Red Sea. The woman who told me pretty much lost it when I mentioned Jesus and his magic stick.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

The birthday breakdown

We seem to be over the birthday hump, at least for now. Further celebrations will ensue when my dad visits in the next two weeks and when we meet up with John's family at the cottage near the end of the month.

Emily had a great day. We went out for breakfast to Cora's. Hope was a nightmare so we didn't linger. From there we went to Brewer Park. Funnily enough, Nevan (Emily's closest friend) happened to be there with Jim (John's work wife). Emily had a great time - as she always does at the park. After that it was home for naps and serious cleaning and preparation for the party.

When I asked Emily if she would like to have someone over for her birthday, she predictably asked only for Nevan (and Pam, Jim and Celia, of course). She also asked for a Dora birthday cake. The Nevan part was easy enough but I was nervous about the cake. I'd never done a cake more complicated than some chocolate icing (often out of a can, because, yum) and some candles.

Turns out, I did great! I'm very proud of how it turned out and I can now see many more kids cakes in my future. I have to admit, it was pretty fun to do, even if the kitchen was a bit of a bakery disaster zone after it was done.

The kids had a great time. Emily was pretty wired during the whole thing but managed to get to bed on time. Unfortunately we had one of our worst nights ever that night. She was sick - with a cold it seems - and up a lot of the night. She ended up sleeping with me, waking me up every hour or so with her jimmy legs. Add to that Hope still getting up about 4 times a night and I was one seriously tired nasty bitch the next day.

But then. Then! Last night Hope only got up once! Once! It didn't escape us that she finally ate better yesterday with a big supper. I've got to figure out how to get her to eat better during the day so that it can translate to better nights. Right now she only wants food off our fork and from our plates. It makes planning suppers a lot more complicated.

More birthday photos can be found on Flickr. Oh wait. Flickr is demanding a Yahoo sign-in. Okay, now it can't find my original Flickr account. Trying again. Okay, now I'm pissed. I am officially done with Flickr and will find some other way to post photos. Stay tuned.

Update: I've moved over to Photobucket. The jury is still out on what I think but it is fully in on what I think of Flickr right now. Anyway, here is the link for the birthday photos.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mish mash

Emily has had some true gems lately and with all the comings and goings to the cottage and back and me hobbling along, I just haven't been able to get much of it down or get much of anything done, really. So, this is a mish mash post of whatever comes to mind.

Emily started her new preschool playgroup last week. It's her very first drop-off program. She's going with her friend, Nevan. Since it is very close to our house, Pam brings Nevan and Celia (who is the same age as Hope) over and then one of us takes Nevan and Emily over to the community centre. Last week, the first week, Nevan arrived with his jacket on as it was pouring rain. He came in and I unzipped his jacket. He said: "Did Momma show you how to unzip coats?" I love the worlds these guys live in.

This week I took the two kids over to the community centre. I had them both go pee before we went into the preschool room. Nevan went first and then Emily. We were all in the same stall. After Nevan was done, Emily sat down and said: "Nevan has a different kind of gina."

You can't really argue with that.

Last weekend we were at the cottage with our friends Meredith and Ron and their kids Ella and Duncan. Ella is 18 months older than Emily. The first day at the cottage was great. Emily and Ella played well together, mainly playing with some toys that Ella brought. Pretty much only playing with one toy: Polly Pockets. Emily doesn't own any toys like that - no little dolls, no dolls at all really. She just hasn't shown and interest and I haven't fostered one but she was really into Ella's Polly Pockets. The second day got bad, fast. They became oil and water and the worst of it seemed to be about Polly Pockets, so much so that we banned the toy and I even at one point forbade the two girls to be in the same room as one another. Yesterday Meredith took the kids while John and I went to see the Order of the Phoenix (amazing friend, isn't she?). When we arrived Ella asked Emily if she wanted to play Polly Pockets. Emily said (and this is verbatim by the way): "That's not a good idea right now, Ella. I don't play Polly Pockets well." To see that kind of self-assessment in a three-year old makes me feel a bit immature really.

Emily's birthday is tomorrow. I'm making a Dora cake. I forgot my camera at the cottage (ugh!) so I'll have to rely on others to take photos, grizzly, horrifying photos of my attempts at a Dora cake.

The ankle is still bad. I've got an appointment with the doctor on Monday morning. Something just doesn't seem right.

I've got a heck of a lot of giant zucchini. Anyone got any ideas for that?

John and I spent a few days during July (mainly during one of our cottage trips) reading Harry Potter. Every night we would put the kids to bed and then sit up and read it aloud. It was wonderful. It will be one of my favourite and most vivid memories of this summer. Oh, and the book rocked. It was everything I wanted it to be.

So, I'm going back to school. Part-time anyway. I decided earlier this summer to apply to a certificate program at Carleton (where John is a prof and therefore where I get free tuition. Woohoo!) for teaching English as a second language. I got my acceptance this week and I'm excited. I'm less excited about the fact that there are very few courses available this year that I can fit into taking care of two kids full time. I'm starting with one course on Structures of English, which is a grammar course. I love grammar and this will probably be a lot of fun for me. So, I get to go back-to-school shopping! I like my job, I feel I already have a lot of eduction under my belt that can get me another good job, but I want a career change, or at least the option of a career change and I think teaching ESL will be a lot more family-friendly and community-minded than what I do now.

Hope's sleep is shit again. I'm not worrying about it too much but I am tired. Really, really tired. Don't know how to fix it, I'm just hoping it works itself out. She's become a real Daddy's girl. It's very cute. She reaches for John when he comes into the room and you can see him trying not to smile in total satisfaction because he knows I'm a little jealous. I'm pretty much over the slight jealousy and I'm enjoying it, too. I figure I can use this at some point to make him do all the night time wake-ups. Hah! Good one.

There, I think I've emptied my brain at least for now. I feel a few pounds lighter.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A little something extra

In trying to upload my blog posts to Facebook, I added a subscribe feature to the blog - over there. See it? No, over there, on the right. Although it totally didn't work in Facebook and I still can't figure out how to upload my posts to the Notes section there, you can, if you choose, subscribe to get notices of blog updates. Yeah, I know. More spam type email. Still, thought you might like to know.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mike Holmes, I'm not

For the past week we have had a decent sized puddle sitting in our laundry room. At first I thought it was coming from the washing machine. Nope. Maybe leaking from the pipes going to the laundry tub? Nope. Then I figured it must be the air conditioner. Nope. Next, I read on the InterWeb thingy, that water leakage from a furnace is a common problem. By process of elimination, I figured this must be it. Not being adept with furnaces (not even a tiny bit), I called a furnace repair place. For $95 they said they would come over and do a "diagnostic." Turns out this was a fair price compared to some of the other companies I called.

Greg the furnace repair guy came over this afternoon. After all of 5 minutes in the basement, he called me down and very nicely pointed to the tap on the laundry tub. I looked a little more closely and saw a distinct drip, drip, drip running over the back of the tub and feeding the expanding puddle on the floor.

Amazing what $95 and a little ineptitude can get you these days.

Ankle of many colours

My ankle swelling reached its peak while we were at the cottage. I described my ankle as really belonging to a gout-ish British senior. It really was that attractive. The swelling is way down now - only a little left. The colours though, oh, the colours! And the pain, oh, the pain! I thought it would be feeling a lot better by now. I've sprained my other ankle a few times and don't remember it hurting this much. Granted, I had the luxury of staying off of it for a few days, something I haven't been able to do this time being that there are two little people biting at my ankles all the time. Just to be sure that there is nothing seriously wrong, I'm going to see the doctor this week. Sometime.

A photo update: