31 July 2010

Flaming hot dogs

ha ha. such a good title. afraid the entry might not hold up.

celebrated natal day on the halifax side of the harbour this year. down by the waterfront near our apartment a whole slew of things were going on during this long weekend. in between X naps, we were able to catch some of the firefighters agility competition. they have to run this impressive skills course in full firefighting gear, complete with gas mask. it was hot and sunny and just watching it made me start hyperventilating. and then i got teary eyed to see how hard these brave men and women work to protect fire victims. they devote their careers, bodies, lives to this and watching them proudly competing against each other to be the top firefighter was really neat. plus, i have a soft spot for firefighters, since my dad is a retired detroit fighter. :)

(us before heading down to the action; the final task in the agility course. dragging a heavy ass body backwards; X and i in front of the old fire truck parked near the competition)

anyway, on we went from the firefighters to the other end of the harbourfront. little did i know both dave and i had the same thought on the brain...hot dogs. i had steered clear of these delightful mystery meat tubes while pregnant because of all the salt, nitrites, meat sketchiness...but now i was free to eat as much as i wanted. while the ode to a hot dog is best sung in michigan where you can enjoy an amazing coney dog or its other magical cousins, i was definitely in the mood for a couple of dogs with mustard.

so, sheepishly giving each other the "okay," dave and i ordered our first hot dogs from the local veterans stand. a simple, small dog...with proceeds to a good cause. after these were inhaled in 4 bites, we were on the move looking for another stand to hit up. we found just the type of thing we were looking for: a man doing this as his job. a good grill, a menu, lots of options, and lots of condiments. why yes, i will have black olives on my veggie dog with mustard (yeah, i pussed out and went veggie dog for the second one). dave went in for a real hot dog with pickles, hot peppers, and dijon mustard. we ate them in the shade and then felt the need to purchase a fruit smoothie to pretend to negate all the unhealthiness we had just enjoyed (we ended up spending the next two days guzzling water because we hadnt had so much salt in one meal for a LONG time).

and then, with bellies full of animal and strawberries, we went home for a nap. we had hoped to take X out to see her first fireworks show tonight (and she almost made it) but she asked to go to bed like 10 minutes before the pyrotechnics. :(

25 July 2010

Home again, home again

and just like that, we were back in halifax. almost a year to the day that we arrived by car, we returned "home" by plane...maybe we can exit nova scotia via the sea...

after the grandparents left us at megans we tried to get X a good nap, but she ended up getting crummy stunted sleep...which made for a rather difficult car ride down to newark, new jersey. we had to stop several times and at one point she was just shrieking and we couldnt stop very easily because we were intersecting a ton of highways and we didnt want to take an exit and get lost. when we finally pulled off she calmed down right before i turned the car off. go figure.

then we confirmed our directions to newark at a gas station and finished up the drive. we got stuck in massive traffic at one point and feared for our sanity that X would start shrieking again. but, somehow i was able to entertain her until we pulled up to the newark airport marriot. i normally gag and cringe at the idea of staying at an airport hotel, but this place was really nice actually (of course the surrounding views were dreadful. lol).

after unloading, while X and i settled in, dave dropped off the rental car and got that squared away so we didnt have to deal with it in the morning before the flight. he came back as we were waking up with a sack of goodies from the airport (did i really just say that?). we dined on some hefty curritos burritos (spicy and delicious) and a great fruit smoothie. i cant remember if ive ever had airport food that tasted remotely decent. maybe new jersey isnt so bad...

anyway, after eating, we wound X down for bed. once asleep, dave and i hauled all our baggage into the bathroom. since X needed to sleep in the pitch dark we were relegated to this space to get ready for travel the next day. to boost our bathroom spirits, dave went down to the hotel restaurant to get us a piece of key lime pie. we had a good chuckle eating it perched on the toilet and bathtub edge surrounded by our bags. and after, we were able to surprisingly quickly organize the bags and prep for our upcoming travel dance.

the next morning did go smoothly at the hotel and pretty well through luggage check and security. we had plenty of time at the gate and X was in a good mood. when we got on the plane she wanted to eat right away so i fed her hoping she would fall off to sleep after she was done nursing. she almost did, except that all those overhead announcements they need to make before takeoff bothered her. so, she cried again. this time we knew swaddling would work because she was tired. our plane was a sweat box though, so it was less pleasant to wrap a sweaty crying baby in a blanket and hold her against your chest while bouncing her. but she did sleep for a bit. she woke up when we were in the air and then we were able to entertain her until we landed. the only time she cried again was when we changed her diaper in the airport. she can scream quite loudly when she is tired and you do something to her that she doesnt want done.

but after the diaper, we quietly passed through customs and baggage claim and dave got the car and picked us up curbside. and after her busy morning and still clearly being tired, i was miraculously able to entertain her on the 40 minute drive from the airport to our apartment. good baby!

so a few final thoughts and summary notes:
1. dont expect to relax while traveling with an infant. it requires both people to actively work at keeping the kiddo happy and calm.

2. bringing our own car seat was a good idea (plus we stashed a few items in the car seat box for the trip home). made the rental car process go smoothly. the box did take a beating though and arrived in halifax looking like it had ridden in a cement truck (what the hell would it have looked like if it hadnt traveled in the box?).

3. return to a clean home. i normally had strict rules about always leaving our home in a clean state before a trip. its so nice to not have to wade through piles of crap to find your bed if youve come home from a crappy flight and just want to rest. but with this first X trip i was wondering if we had so much to worry about that i wouldnt be able to make "a clean home" a priority. thank GOODNESS we did. how lovely to be able to walk through the door and have everything in order. the only thing we needed to do was find a spot on the ground for our baggage and then we could nap, eat, sit, relax, or do whatever we wanted.

4. cloth diapers. in case anyone was wondering, we ended up taking our cloth diapers with us. i had originally lobbied for disposables, but dave said that since we hadnt had any problems or diaper rash with the cloth at home, he didnt want to invite trouble on the road. if she got a diaper rash that was cracked and bleeding while in NY we would feel horrible and probably want to find a doctor and that would be stressful...

so, we brought all 6 of our diaper covers with us and about 2-3 times as many prefold cloth diapers to fit inside them. i bought a wet bag for the dirty diapers, which contained the mess and the smell very well. every couple of days we were able to wash them in either amy or megans washer/dryer (i had asked them ahead of time if they would be okay with us doing this). i thought it would be a huge pain in the ass since its more work that we normally do (because we have the diaper service), but it was actually really easy. we had just made the commitment to use them and bring them with us ahead of time, had planned accordingly, and things went as smoothly as they do at home. its amazing how you can work yourself up to thinking something is going to be such a huge inconvenience and then...it just really isnt, as long as you put a little thought into it.

24 July 2010

We're in al-ban-y...

...ive got lots of family with me.

lucky for us and X, daves sister (megan) lives in albany, ny. just a little over 2 hours from where amy lives. so, we were able to participate in a great wedding and have an extended visit with family all in the same trip. such efficiency!

monday:
after leaving the wedding breakfast, we made our way from rye up to albany. we had thought we could time a X car break in the town of beacon to visit an art foundation there called the "dia." that was a no go. X fussed before we got to beacon (so we had to pull over) and then started dozing after that (do not stop driving when she finally settles!!). but, the important part was that we made it relatively easily to albany and got X a nap before megan and courtney got home from work.

we had a nice relaxing night with them and we were able to catch up, have them meet X, and begin our string of pampered meals a la megan. she loves to cook. like her dad. and its where dave got his desire as well. and theyre all good at it. and they all seem to have different approaches. i benefit from it all though. :) megan made us grilled pizza this first night. pretty simple concept, but id never had it before. yum!

tuesday:
daves parents arrived (drove from buffalo that morning) and we all ventured in to the town of schenectady. loved the name, had never been there. there is a nice historic city center, though its had a rough time economically since GE left some years ago. we decided to eat at a burrito joint called "bombers" on the main street of town. very much a hip, post-bar type place. my tacos were very ho hum, but the food everyone else got looked tasty.

after lunch we walked around the corner to stroll down jay street, a neat pedestrian area lined with unique shops (no starbucks here). we decided to pop in to a few. we nabbed some books for X at the "open door book store": we bought this awesome book called "slugs" by david greenberg (HIGHLY recommend. absolutely hilarious. fantastic, gruesome rhymes) and the grandparents purchased the classics "goodnight moon," "runaway bunny," and "pat the bunny." thanks. :) and our final stop was to the "skinny n sweet" shop for some gelato. mmm.

back at "home" i got X a nap while the rest of the crew hung out and prepared dinner. little did i know X was ready for bed and turned this "nap" into hours upon hours of sleeping. so, i missed dinner, which woulda tasted better warm (hot dogs, homemade baked beans, homemade coleslaw). :(


(papa and X in schenectady; grandma and X; uncle courtney and X)
(pulling up her dress, ready for a diaper change!)

wednesday:
my mom and her boyfriend al arrived (they were on an extended road trip and had come from syracuse this morning). they were able to meet X for the first time and get to know her a little. of course, naptime came all too soon, so they went to get some sushi with dave before heading out to find a hotel.

later, everyone got back together at megans for a great homemade meal. apparently, in NY there is this famous marinade called "spiedies." it comes in a bottle that i assume you can find in many grocery stores. typically (it is my understanding) it is used for chicken kebabs, and the best is to have the chicken marinate for 24+ hours. and its definitely good stuff. really flavorful, juicy meat without being overly salty or sweet, yummy yum. to pair with it, megan made corn on the cob with lime-cilantro butter to brush on. SO freakin good! and to send me to food heaven, she made some AMAZING strawberry shortcakes for dessert. hot out of the oven with warm berries and homemade whipped cream. i died. havent had a party in my stomach like that in a while. :)


(marmie and X shortly after meeting for the first time)

(the grandmas, me and X; aunt megan, grandma and X; pal [the pa in grandpa mixed with al], marmie, me and X)

thursday:
our last full day with family started off with a knock-out breakfast (that i again was unable to enjoy warm. ah well.) from megan of eggs, bacon, toast, fruit salad, and fresh squeezed orange juice. afterward, daves parents drove to kingston, ny for a boat tour on the hudson river. and to aide in digestion, dave and i, my mom and al, and courtney (and their dog yogi) went on a walk in the pinebush park (which, conveniently butts right up to their condo communitys property. sweet!). the walk was great and an added bonus of fun was that X got hungry early on in the walk. i was able to cradle her in a way that i nursed her while walking. it was so easy and it was nice not to miss out on the walk to have to feed her.

later that day we all regrouped at the nice greek restaurant called athos. the manager (owner?) spotted X right away and came over to google at her and tickle her feet. it was very nice to see him approving of having a baby in his restaurant, lowered my stress. we were able to pass her around during dinner and entertain her so she stayed quiet. at one point i was holding her and swaying and she fell asleep! never ceases to amaze.

so the restaurant was a success and then we headed back "home" where megan had engineered an inside-out german chocolate cake to celebrate mary anns birthday. how nice? and while i normally dont care for that kind of cake, it was really delicious. proving once again that megan is a whiz in the kitchen.


(dave and X; grandpa and naked X before bed)

friday:
departure day. we were able to coordinate Xs first wake up time with a farewell send off for the grandparents. it was short and bittersweet but at least they were able to see her. everyone got their final hugs and kisses in. :) then we loaded up the car and headed back down to jersey...

and the car was more full than when we arrived, again, on account of all the lovely gifts X had received from family. from aunt megan: an awesome bumbo seat with a tray (have you seen these? never knew they existed until i was pregnant. its for helping them learn to sit.), a onesie and socks, some teething keys (yum), and the sweet book called "on the night you were born." from grandma mary ann: a new stack of clothes, a caterpillar rattle, and a glittery flexiball.

and marmie and al brought some interesting things: the t-shirt received from the 5K they ran on the day X was born (neat!) and the first book in the dexter series (didnt know the Showtime series "Dexter" started from a book). for me, she kindly brought some Lush body wash and passed along a book set on guernsey island (one of the channel islands. near jersey island, where we went while in france). for dave, they brought a six pack of beer from the "florida brewery" in melbourne. they also passed along some pictures of me as a baby my grandma had dug out (yup, Xs looks a lot like me...) and some baby clothes my aunt had sent along.

so yeah, lots of goodies, lots of love, lots of fun. glad we could make the trip work. thank you for hosting megan and courtney! and thanks for traveling grandparents! also, for more pictures of the visit, you can visit mary anns blog.

20 July 2010

Wedding weekend at the wainwright

and the wedding weekend begins. :)

saturday was supposed to start with a bachelorette party and end with the rehearsal dinner. X, however, had other ideas. she was still way off base for her sleep requirements. the traveling really seemed to mess her up. so, i had to miss the morning pedicure with the ladies to get X a nap (she is still only able to take naps sleeping on me at this point). bummer, cuz my crusty momma feet could have really benefited from some attention.

after a long nap that i had hoped would reset her, X still seemed a bit grumpy, but there was no way i was missing the ladies lunch too. i fed her and dumped the crying/fussing baby in daves arms and tried not to look back as we headed out to lunch. this was the first time i was going to be away from her for more than a quick trip to the grocery store.

on the way to the restaurant i was trying not to obsess. i definitely did NOT want to be one of those moms who cant do anything but talk and think about their baby while they are away from them, and i REALLY didnt want to be that person who leaves a fun party and calls home to check on things. and man did i have to eat humble pie on that one. i chalk it up to the fact that X was in a bad mood when i left and she hadnt eaten as much as she should have. and there is NO calming her when she is hungry. so i was mostly worried for daves sanity. how would he be able to deal with her if she was raging the entire time i was gone? plus, it was like 98 degrees outside, so a raging baby could quickly get into overheated scary mode. but, okay, i tried to remove this from my mind...unsuccessfully. i didnt talk about her at the table, but after an hour of lunch and no phone call from dave telling me to rush home, i had to check in and see if maybe my phones ringer had been turned off.

turns out she had cried for like 30 minutes after i left. then dave was able to get her to sleep in his sling. and then he stood in front of the window air conditioner until she woke up and started fussing. he then did call me to let me know that if i could start making my way home that might be good, but that it wasnt urgent. and basically he was right. i got home and she was fussing and definitely ready for some food, but everyone survived.

ah, but see, i skipped over the bachelorette lunch...we ate in downtown nyack at "la fontana." a nice italian place. i had a tasty apple chicken wrap and amys sister gave us party favors riddled with rainbow brite paraphernalia. cute! my gift to the bride-to-be? not super racy, but i thought it was creative (or as creative as my deadened brain can get these days). i bought her a bit of colorful local-halifax hand-spun yarn and a book on knitting lingerie (hey, she likes to knit).

anyway, back at amys little pink house, people milled around until we had to head out for the rehearsal dinner. dinner was at basilicos, a casual italian place that served family style dishes. i normally dont go to that kind of place and order that kind of food, but it was quite good. pizza appetizers and then chicken, beef, and fish dishes with veggies and italian desserts. yum. :) the place didnt have air conditioning so it was a bit stuffy and the babies (there were 3 there) were a little irritable but it was a nice time.


(the happy couple)

after dinner, people made final arrangements and plans for the wedding the next day, and in the end, it was just dave, me, X, and amy staying at the little pink house. after putting X to sleep, we stayed up and talked with the bride. it was nice to finally get some alone time with her on this important and busy weekend, and having X asleep and quiet was even better. it was like a good old-fashioned amy visit, lots of chatting and curling up on couches. my fav. :)

and then...it was morning. wedding day! we (the bridal party) had a downtown hair salon all to ourselves. i was first to go because X was awake and being good. seize the moment! after my hair was done, i headed back to the pink house for a X nap. we (dave, X, and i) were able to get a glimpse of the street fair that was getting set up in nyack. looked fun. and we grabbed some pastries at the french place near the house (pain au chocolat. mmm.).

fresh from the nap, we packed up the car, grabbed some food, and headed across the hudson river via the tappan zee bridge toward the town of rye. the wedding was being held at a gorgeous mansion with waterfront property called the wainwright house. amys parents had kindly booked the on-site guest house as a place for the bridal party to stay with their families. life saver! we had our own room, on our own side of the house, that was literally a stones throw from the festivities. it took the stress down several notches.

(X and dad in their wedding duds [thanks for the dress katie!]; X in her wedding weekend mode; the only known picture of the three of us. pre-wedding)

then the bridal party started assembling. we got ready in the bridal suite in the mansion. the photographers showed up. pictures began...and away we went. amy had basically kept as many wedding details as possible to herself. not to be purposefully secretive in an obstructionist way, but she wanted us (including those in the wedding party) to be surprised by the fun wedding touches they had chosen, like the flowers, food, wedding layout and style. and her dress. no one but her immediate family knew what it looked like. it was such a great thing to do. when you are at the age when all your friends are getting married, its hard for each wedding to stand out from the rest. of course, everyone always finds a way to do something a little different and special, but this was a nice new thing for me to not know all the girly details beforehand.

anyway her dress was a carolina herrera that she had bought in chicago at a store that sold only dress samples. even more perfect was that amy chose the dress herself (always a self-doubter, this was a miraculous feat!) and it couldnt have been a more perfect expression of her personality and the tone of the wedding. great job! for the bridesmaids, she let us pick any style of jcrew dress that came in "vintage blue" and was made of silk chiffon fabric. bouquet flowers were all meaningful to the bride (from her favorite book, because the groom was wearing it, because they grow it in their garden at home, etc). the groomsmen wore white shirts, ties, suspenders, and no jacket. all, including the groom, wore converse shoes. there was croquet set up on the lawn. there were dinner food stations and no assigned table seating. there were mini cupcakes for dessert. and the party ended at 10p.

i wish i had been able to enjoy more of it. the ceremony was lovely. the sun was out, but we had a shady, tree-protected spot. the temperature was hot and summery but not scorching. there was a breeze. the water was serene. and X was quiet. in fact, she fell asleep in the middle of it, which, given her previous behavior, we took to be a positive omen that she gave her blessing to their union. :) after the ceremony, we found a few friends of mine from high school and were able to catch up while X was being patient. but, eventually she was in need of some sleep. while she was napping, dave went out and got us some food. then, when she woke up (grumpy again), i went out to join the party and see what i was missing. and to acquire some dessert. when i got back to our room, X was ready for bed. once that was taken care of, i went back to finish the party and say good night to the newlyweds.

we woke up on monday with one more wedding related event. breakfast. yum. loaded the car up just in time to escape a booming thunderstorm (which didnt make X too happy). we had to stay in the car a while to calm everyone down from all the shrieking in the car. but, finally we were able to join the gang at rubys in rye. a nice hot meal and a last chance to say goodbye. the travis family (and expanded clan) are such great people, and even better hosts. lucky to have them in my life. we were happy to have made the trip for the wedding, and sad to say goodbye.

but, we werent leaving empty-handed. X made out with a pile of booty from aunt eva (amy) and uncle tony. she may have gotten more gifts than the bride and groom. :) amy clearly loves shopping for babies, and shes good at it (she has a 7 month old nephew as well). X received a gorgeous amy-knit hooded sweater in green, with matching knit leg warmers (yes!). she also got a cute pair of shorts with ruffles on the butt (love butt ruffles!) and the coolest reversible jumper. ever. and to enrich her mind, some really fun books (an english teacher can never resist). a set of three flip books in the "babys box of fun" series and two art books set to baby stories. one using matisse art and one using magritte art. so freakin cool for parents interested in exposing their kid to that stuff early. :) A+ on your choices amy. :) love you.

16 July 2010

The ABCs of travel with X through YhZ

travel was required for our close friends, amy and tony, NY wedding.

so, ive known amy since middle school but we didnt mega bond until high school spanish class (we still call each other by our spanish names: susana for me and eva for her). the friendship endured the distance of college (UM v Vanderbilt), the muddy time when you are really getting to know yourself and start shedding excess childhood baggage, and the distance of adulthood, when we started settling in to our careers, lives, and personality strengths (and weaknesses). i think we are stuck with each other now. :) anywho, long sappy story short, she is on the short list of people i would attempt traveling so far for with a 3 month old.

our family journey to ny started however far back you want to count: when i read the pregnancy strip, when X was born, when i ordered the bridesmaid dress, when we did the trip to fundy national park, when we decided flying would save our sanity, or the night before we left. luckily, it seemed like such a monumental task to complete that we ended up being well prepared. we discussed what we would need to pack when we booked the ticket and calmly went about organizing and purchasing things. and, thankfully, packing/prepping ended up being pretty stress-free and painless since we had mulled over the details for so long.

one smart move: we decided to buy a cheaper (and lighter) car seat than our current one, and take it with us in its box. the options from the rental car places werent confidence boosting so we absolutely wanted to make sure we had something clean, safe, and available when we arrived in NY. plus, checking a car seat was free from the airline we were taking.

beyond the car seat, we packed our bags for the trip after we put X down for the night, the night before our flight. we packed one large bag with everyones clothes, one backpack as Xs diaper bag, my large purse full of X toys/books/etc, and daves backpack to carry the computer/important docs/and other odds n ends that didnt fit anywhere else.

friday morning came and we executed things pretty seamlessly (if i do say so myself). we tried to give X as much time in bed as the clock would allow and then gently got her through the hoops that we needed to jump to get out the door. she wasnt happy in the car but we made it to the airport, where, at the check-in area, we hit our first speed bump.

since we had originally planned to drive to NY, we had only checked the land border rules, which say that it is fine to take a minor (under age 16) across canada/u.s. borders with only a birth certificate. not so for flights between the two countries. after a few phone calls (and a call to my friend ntina :)) the airline and customs people determined that we would be able to get on our flight (halifaxs airport passes you through customs on their end, before you get on the flight to the u.s.). phew!

after letting the female security people ogle X, we were able to pass through and spend the next 1.5 hours before take-off getting X to nap. this was pretty successful...and if we had boarded the plane on-time i would have been successful with coordinating feeding her with take-off. but, of course we were running behind schedule (thanks plane crew for dawdling in duty-free buying shit) so i had to feed her in the airport. then we boarded. the plane was small, as was the airport, so at least things can move fairly swiftly. but, not fast enough.

the plane door closed and locked and we backed away...and X started crying. she was grumpy and tired and couldnt calm down. great. after about 10 minutes of panic and trying to tune out the thoughts of how we were disturbing the whole plane, we were able to swaddle X and dave bounced her to sleep on his shoulder. when we took flight, she didnt wake up or seem disturbed by the pressure changes. thank goodness! and the rest of the flight was fine. i fed her when she woke up and we entertained her until we landed. we were amazed.

after a diaper change in newark i was able to help her doze in my wrap while we navigated baggage and rental car pick-up. it was also about a million degrees outside. ick. but, finally we had a snazzy car to ourselves that dave was easily able to install the car seat in. strapped X in and we were on our way from newark to nyack, ny. we got off track from our directions but still arrived in good time and without more than a few yelps from X. we kept praising her. we were SO impressed.

once at amys we were greeted by her very welcoming parents and began being social. it soon became clear that all X could handle was some quiet time and the chance to sleep. i helped her doze in the quiet of the basement, but she soon needed more. i said hello to the soon-to-be newlyweds when they got back from the jewelry store and went back to the basement for a longer nap. she got some good rest, but woke up from this nap in a rage to get more sleep. we quickly had her bed made up (she slept in a clean red wagon. thanks amy and amys mom :)) and put her to bed. poor thing.

in the end, since we had thought so much about the plane travel and Xs specific needs, had readied ourselves to be on constant baby entertainment mode, had thrown all our past airport expectations and behaviors out the window, and gave ourselves plenty of time, i think we were able to end up as successful as we were. getting her the sleep she needed...still a challenge. more so in places that arent home. but we were very impressed with this first experience.

note: from the blog entry title, "yhz" is the airport code for halifax.

03 July 2010

Sealed with a visit

had an unexpectedly lovely saturday.

daves work colleagues, isabelle and djordje (pronounced like georgie), invited us over to their house in portuguese cove. we had been there once before for a dinner and it wasnt like we didnt think we would have a good time, but we didnt know how long X would stay calm in someone elses house. so it was yet another experiment.

we arrived at around noon and there wasnt a cloud in the sky. their house full of windows seemed so light and airy. we snacked and chatted and eventually took a tour of their backyard since we hadnt seen it in the winter when it was both cold and dark out. they had lots of flowers, which we reviewed both their french and english names (isabelle is french), and now i know that "weeds" in english is "les mauvaises herbes" in french. we ended our tour of the backyard on their rocky cliffs to the atlantic ocean. not too shabby. they get to hear waves crashing at night, and can sit in their sun room in the morning and watch the sail boats, cruise ships, and huge shipping barges coming and going from the halifax harbour. nice.

after the tour we made our way inside for a cold lunch of great variety. there was white fish, zucchini, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, asparagus, bread, and handmade garlic aioli. so simple and fresh and so european (french provence to be exact). it was a mini heaven for me. we also mentioned the mussel preparation we saw in mahone bay (l'eclade) and isabelle said she had heard of it, that it comes from the region in france right around la rochelle and that her mother had actually made mussels that way once during her childhood. always learning something new. and, to add to my gastronomic delights, i learned about a new kitchen accessory that i want to have one day (alongside a tortilla press and a raclette machine); its a swiss seed/grain mill that allows you to make your own muesli (or grind any other whole grains or seeds for whatever purpose). yum.

then, after finishing with some chocolate mousse and the necessary european post-meal tea and whatnot, we were ready to leave. more than 4 hours had flown by and X had done a great job. she required 6 feedings and nearly as many diaper changes and even a clothing change, but she didnt fuss and even took a nap. shock and awe.


(X with isabelle)

since she seemed to be doing well, we decided to push it and see if we could get a short hike in at duncans cove. while we had had a horrid time here during the winter, we were up for trying it again in the evening light with the warmth of the day at a good balance to make us happy but not sweaty. plus, it was only 5 minutes down the road from where we were.

at duncans cove we parked and loaded X in the sling. the wind was whipping at us at certain points and X seemed a bit fussy. our hike prospects were not looking good. but, we took her out and i fed her while sitting on a rock in the middle of the trail and she seemed good to go after that. we were then able to get down to the coastline and see what we had missed in the winter.

first, the coastal bog was in bloom and it smelled great. honestly. then there was the impressive and massive rocky coast that we were walking toward. then the thick salty ocean air hit us. yum. so thick it coated your lips. even though we live on the harbour and you can occasionally smell the "ocean smell," often it just smells like dead fish...or nothing. i LOVE when you can actually feel the ocean in the air. this walk was shaping up to be as good or better than the first bog hike we took when we arrived...


(dave and X on the rocky coast; the bog. complete with pitcher plant flowers)

and then, as we neared a rocky island just off the main coastline...black heads popped out of the waves...seals!! real live wild seals (bummer i couldnt get any good pics). they were swimming around the island, flopping up on the rocks, and sunbathing. if you looked around you could see a seal pop its head out every few minutes. i couldnt exactly tell what kind they were but they looked similar to the ones we saw in sweden. SO cool. ive never seen such large mammals in the wild. and people we know have seen whales around this trail too. we NEED to come back. we will come back.


(the huge queen mary II cruise ship as seen from duncans cove departing halifax harbour)

so it was quite a day. definitely positive all around.

01 July 2010

Canada day, eh?

so today is canada day.

being a metro detroiter we always knew that canada had some sort of national celebration day very close to the 4th of july. in fact, we share our firework spectacular with the city of windsor. so i knew about the holiday, but i didnt really know if they actually celebrated it in the same way. turns out, they pretty much do. military stuff, parades, bbq. :)

the parade for canada day was also in combination with the royal tattoo festival kick-off (a halifax festival that showcases military bands and stuff. we wanted to go, but we dont want to blow out Xs eardrums just yet.). the parade route of course went through downtown which meant that we were within easy walking distance to get out and see it.

so, this morning we loaded X in the sling and found a perfect non-crowded area with the option of grassy shade. and thank goodness because it was full-on sun, so hot! we felt bad for most of the performers, those military/band uniforms were intricate and heavy looking. ugh. im sure dave had flashbacks to high school drumline.


(the first major thing to come down the parade route was this military plane. they didnt account for the road narrowing due to parked cars, so they had to take one wing off when they got near where we were and make some soldiers carry it. fun!)

(apparently these beef-eaters are part of the canadian military. what division, the pirates? yo ho ho.; the royal canadian mounted police. ah, the dudley do-rights)
(some random dutch bikers. cuz that fits with military stuff. pretty sure they rode their bikes like this the whole way, and at this point on the road they were on an incline. yikes; the bagpiper finale. super hot uniforms.)

the parade was quite entertaining and X was quiet the whole time, so that was nice. later that night, we celebrated with some sirloin steak with mushrooms, potatoes, and corn on the cob...like good americans.

(at the parade; dinner!)

Our neighbor, the queen

the queen of england (and her husband, prince philip) came to tour canada, in particular, her visit involved 2 nights and 3-ish days in halifax.

the queen apparently hadnt been to halifax in 16 years, and she chose 3 days while we lived here to come visit. our good luck eh? even better...she stayed at the government house in downtown halifax...literally 4 doors down from us. the night before her arrival they had barricades and police on duty. the excitement was in the air.

her trip started off with the local weather staple...rain, which scared away many potential well-wishers. so, her arrival at the government house for that day was very uncrowded, which was perfect for us. we bounced down our front steps 5 minutes before and got a front row spot across from where her motorcade pulled up and she got out. X was able to be only a few feet from the queen of england when she waved to the crowd. very cool.


(the view toward the queens house from our front stoop; the snipers for the queens arrival)

(the queen and prince philip; X isnt super impressed)

day 2 came and X was ready for one of her walks/naps at around the time the queen was heading out for the day. so, we crossed the street to check things out again. this time the motorcade and security detail were different (not surprised) and the queen got in to the car at the front door of the building, so she was much further away, but i could still see that she was wearing a white suit and a black and white hat for the day. she was heading out to tour the naval ships celebrating the centennial of canadas navy.

(naval ships in halifax harbor; X is bored)

and, on her final morning, X and i were able to see the queen leave. scads of people were in front of the house to see her off this time. her final photo opp was to plant a tree on the government house lawn and then be sent on her way with a row of bagpipers piping. again the queen was a bit too far away for pictures (plus, shes way short!), but i was able to catch a glimpse of her green suit and hat though. thank goodness.

such a unique thing to be around town for. i was never really enamored with royal family stuff, but it was definitely something special to watch her come and go each day.