Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Letters 5 and 6

I have to admit that I got a bit behind in my letter writing. I haven't missed sending out a letter but for three weeks I was one letter behind, meaning that I always had two letters to send out and I never sent two letters out in a week so one letter kept being pushed a week ahead. Get that? Confusing, I know.

Well, last week I remedied that and actually mailed out two letters.

First, let's back up just a bit and say that letter number 3 went to Mrs. Cheevers. If you recognize the last name, you're right, it's THAT Cheevers, as in Gerry Cheevers, goaltender extraordinaire. If you know hockey, you'll know Gerry's mask: in 2008 Hockey News rated it the best goalie mask ever. I think I'm right in saying he was the first to ever decorate his mask - with stitch marks each time it was hit with a puck.

Mrs. Cheevers is his mother and just as importantly, mother to Pat Cheevers who was John's dad's best friend, pretty much forever as far as I can glean. Unfortunately for this world, Pat and Ken are in the great hereafter enjoying a beer (or several) together but Mrs. Cheevers is hanging on like a champ. She's what you'd describe as a spitfire in the best possible terms. I've always really liked her although I haven't seen her in a long time. I believe she is around 90 now, maybe a bit beyond that even. John's mom is close to her and visits her frequently. This is how I learned that Mrs. Cheevers was complaining that she hadn't received a letter in a while. That sealed it for me. Mrs. Cheevers was next on my list to write to. And I'm happy to report that she was thrilled to get my letter. I'll make sure that I write to her again in a few weeks.

Letter number 4 was a birthday card - a really nice one I bought at Chapters - for Donna, my dad's wife. I understand why people, and I've done it countless times, send e-cards but a real birthday card is just so much nicer. I will not be sending one e-card this year. It's going to be the real thing all the way... it's also a really easy way for me to send out a letter!

Letter 5 went to my dear friend Marnie. She reads my blog so I'm not saying more about the letter (actually, package). Marnie and I met in first year university. We lived in the same residence: Conrad Grebel College, the Mennonite college at the University of Waterloo. To say we hit it off, is an understatement. I could go on and on and on about our exploits - together with the other member of the trio that year, Holly (Hi Holly!). The following year, after Holly moved off-campus, Marnie and I shared a room and after that, a few houses. We've stayed very close through all these years and thankfully I got to spend lots of time with her last year when we were in Waterloo although we both kept saying that it still wasn't enough. She's one of my very special friends who I can not talk to or see for a while and when we meet again, it's like no time has passed at all.

The other letter I sent was to someone else who reads this blog so I'm not going to say much else. Getting real letters is such a rarity now that I don't want to spoil the surprise.

I'm really enjoying this. I'm not being too hard on myself if something is delayed a week, as long as it get the letter out eventually even if I have to double-up one week. The loveliest part of this whole project is spreading the love. People really appreciate getting a letter or card or package and it makes me feel like I'm beautifying the world a little bit by brightening up someone's day each week.

More on my beautifying project in a future post!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why helping women be successful in breastfeeding should be applauded and not criticized (aka Karen's newest rant)

I've been following this story out of the U.S. with great interest. Can someone, anyone, please explain to me using some intellectual capacity, how promoting breastfeeding, especially to a population that traditionally doesn't breastfeed or at least breastfeed beyond a few weeks, is being Big Mother or creating a Nanny State?

I am so riled up about this and it isn't (thankfully) happening in my own country. But I just don't get how Americans can vote for the Republican Party.

Promoting breastfeeding is in no way being a Nanny State or "Big Mother", as the Republicans have described Michelle Obama. If it is then so is an anti-smoking policy, or banning asbestos as a building material, or promoting fitness through Participaction.

The Republicans argue that making these opinions into policy is making the U.S. into a Nanny State. Oh, and the Republicans have never made their opinions into policy, right? Making killing an abortion doctor justifiable homicide in South Dakota comes to mind as a recent and abhorent example.

By the by, making breastpumps a tax deduction wasn't Michelle Obama's idea. It was proposed by 45 Congress men and women. Not that that should matter. Working mothers - and most women in the U.S. don't get much maternity leave at all - need help if they're going to continue to breastfeed. A decent breastpump up to the job of a lot of pumping costs about $250. For a woman being paid minimum wage, that's unaffordable. These women need help. It makes me sick that the Republican Party thinks that because one well-off woman could buy a pump on her own to breastfeed her five children, that all women can do that. Guess what? Most American women don't have that kind of money. Most American women need a bit of help if they're going to work and breastfeed.

American Republicans: start thinking about someone other than yourselves. It's what you were elected to do.

You make me thankful I don't live in the United States.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Change of plans

We were supposed to be driving to my dad's in Gravenhurst right about now but Emily's stomach had a different idea for the weekend.

Yesterday morning Emily got up around 6:00 coughing and crying (I should have known what was to come... coughing for her is a sure sign of digestive distress - and impending yakking). She went back to bed until about 7:30 when she got up and ralphed. She had some water later. And then up came the water.

She spent from about 8:00 until 11:30 asleep. The rest of the day she lazed about feeling sort of okay when she had Motrin in her but really not okay when the Motrin wore off. Fevery.

After a lovely bubble bath last night (soothing and useful to wash barf out of hair) she felt GREAT! I thought maybe, just maybe, we'd be able to go to Muskoka for the weekend. But alas, this morning, she got up and laid right back down on my lap and didn't move for about 20 minutes. She still isn't herself so we've decided to stay put. Also, the risk that another member of the clan may fall to this flu also weighed on my mind. When you're barfing, you really want to do it in your own bathroom.

So, here we are: a long weekend ahead of us (as today is a P.D. day - no school) and Monday is a holiday. So, as long as everyone is healthy or near-healthy, here is our plan:

Today: a trip to the library this afternoon or Chapters (this is really more for me - I'm feeling like I need to breathe air outside these walls)? Emily may stay home for this.
Saturday: maybe go to The Farm. We haven't been there since we moved back to Ottawa. The museum isn't open yet (although will be open on Monday for Family Day) but we can still see the animals. Nice little piggies.
Sunday: Jacques Cartier Park for some Winterlude, Beavertails and sliding down the ice slides. Late afternoon - first swimming lessons (at least for Hope).
Monday: There's a winter festival at our local park from 11am to 3pm that I think we may go to. Of course, today feels like spring, but I hear that Winter plans to show his face again this weekend.

What are you doing this weekend?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Making up for lost canal time

Last year was the first winter I didn't skate on The Rideau Canal since about 1997. We were living in Waterloo last winter, a long commute to the Canal, and the one weekend I did make it here I was about 6 months pregnant and already Large And In Charge and wasn't willing to risk catching my blade in a crack in the ice. Henry would have been fine but my body wouldn't have liked the 165 pounds of momentum behind that fall.

I'm making up for lost time this winter. I've been out three times on the Canal and twice on our local rink helping the girls learn to skate. Next weekend, we'll be in Gravenhurst skating on Kahshe Lake in front of my dad's house if all goes according to plan. My legs are slowly remembering what to do and how to recover. Pushing Henry in a heavy stroller (Peg Peregos are great but not exactly lightweight) makes it an even better workout... especially if I'm skating into the wind.

My sort-of routine is to go to the Canal on Wednesday and Friday afternoons while both girls are in school. I hope to keep doing this as long as the ice is decent. Wouldn't you with scenes like this?

My only complaint up to this point has been the lack of decent food on the canal for a gluten-sensitive girl like me. Beavertails? Yum but fully-glutened and not exactly a healthy choice for lunch. Poutine? That gravy is likely chalk-full of wheat or something related (if it is even identifiable outside of a lab) and it tastes like shite. Why can't we get a decent poutine on the Canal? We're in a city ripe with good poutine. It's about LAYERS, friends, LAYERS. Fries, cheese curd, GOOD gravy, repeat. NOT fries, more fries, a bit more fries, a few curds, a brown sludge poorly resembling gravy.

Of course, poutine is definitely not going to make the list of healthy lunch choices, even when done well.

And then along came the soup lady. Stone Soup Foodworks was profiled in The Ottawa Citizen this week so I, like many other people on the Canal yesterday, sought her out. I had her Thai Squash Soup for lunch. It was delicious and nice and spicy. Clearly Ottawans have been wanting this because the line was huge by the time I joined it. I bought the last bowl of squash soup and she was almost out of bread (which I didn't take - she gave me 50 cents off as a result. Very friendly.). I hope she's a new fixture on the Canal because she's set a new standard.

So, for all of those Ottawa mums out there who are feeling a little house-bound: get out there, get skating and have some soup. Henry says so! (Don't worry, Rose, he survived the cold!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

I've been hoping for this

Last year during our very social year in Waterloo, I found myself complaining that we didn't know our neighbours in Ottawa very well at all. We had a few acquaintances on our street but no one that I would really call "friend". The girls didn't have any playmates that they would just meet in the back yards or ride their bikes with or invite over to play. They had that in Waterloo in spades and I was very sad to leave that behind.

This afternoon the girls came home from school and started playing on our front snow pile. Anna ran over from a few doors down. Minutes later Emily popped her head in the door and yelled that she and Hope were going to play in Anna's front yard. A little while after that Emily came back and asked if they could go have hot chocolate at Anna's. When I called over a little while later, I could barely hear Anna's mum, Isabelle, over the din. Mohammed and Raeff, other neighbours on our street, were also over playing she said. Earlier this week I had a new friend, Shahi, from down the street over for tea.

I promised myself in the summer that I would try to make more friends on our street. While I don't think I actually did anything extraordinary to make it happen, I'm so happy that has.

Friends nearby make a home happier.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snow Day.... Sort of

We've woken up this morning to a very snowy Ottawa. The wind is whipping, buses are cancelled, snow is still falling, traffic is snarled. Schools remain open for those that can find their own way there.

My girls take the bus to school so we offered Emily every student's dream this morning: a Snow Day. Stay at home with Mummy in your pajamas and watch movies and do crafts. And do you know what she said?

No, I want to go to school.

Another episode for the nerd file. I love you, my little nerd.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone