30 November 2010

Pardon me, do you have any gr[ey]-oupon?

more new food. im on a roll. or, a baguette, to be more specific.

so, shortly after leaving the u.s. i noticed this thing called groupon taking off. after figuring out what it was, i was bummed that i missed out on the fun of checking your inbox for the daily deal for your city. a while ago i thought to look and see if groupon was offered here in halifax. it wasnt yet, but i got on the mailing list to be notified when it started up. and, recently it did actually start up.

of course most of the "deals" i dont have any use for, but the food ones...im almost always game for those. and lucky for me, the first tempting food groupon offer was for a restaurant i hadnt been to yet. indochine bahn mi. a vietnamese sandwich place. i can definitely get on board to try that. so, i bought the deal ($5 for $10 worth of food) and that was that.

anyway, dave printed the groupon coupon and i took it over there to get dinner tonight. i got the lentil pate sandwich with some veggie pho. dave went with "whatever meat they recommend as a top seller or favorite," which ended up being the pork meat ball sandwich. the sandwiches came on baguettes and were topped with pickled carrots and daikon, some citrus mayo, and cilantro. yum! also, the pho was nice and spicy and its crunchy, fresh veggies were lovely.

so it was a good meal, a decent new restaurant option, and a positive experience with groupon. yay. i love when things work out. im sure we will be back for more sandwiches, and im sure i'll make friends with groupon again soon. :)

28 November 2010

Two if by seas got a hold on me

found a new cafe with tasty treats. hooray!!!

my facebook stalking paid off! :) one of the moms in my playgroup mentioned a new cafe in dartmouth. what? i thought id seen all dartmouth had to offer. apparently i missed an entire street. and a lovely one at that. on sunday afternoon we made our way over the bridge and onto ochterloney street. we found the right block, a secondary main street-type vibe we hadnt known existed in dartmouth, and parked. then we entered two if by sea cafe.

cool. it had an urban loft feel with lots of glass, metal, exposed pipes, and simple, mod wooden furniture. the street it looked out on wasnt super busy and there were buildings with character across the way, so the place also managed to have a homey/cozy feel. we werent interested in the coffee obviously (we be tea drinkers), but i had read about the croissants and was eager to try them. nope, they were sold out for the day already. darn, i guess we will just have to come back. we then chose two gigantic cookies: a chocolate chip and oatmeal cinnamon raisin. enormous and $2 each. seriously?

while looking for a place to sit and eat the cookies dave encountered a friend from ultimate frisbee. he and his girlfriend were taking a study break from dental exams and were cool with us sitting next to them. they made friends with X and we chatted about non-baby things. it was quite exciting! they reminded me of what life was like before. :) plus, the girl expressed interest in holding X and X didnt even fuss. bonus!

it was a really nice random thing to be doing on a sunday. new cafe, new acquaintances, new treats. plus, the icing on the cake for me came when i went looking for some water. they had a tall metal barrel of self-serve ice water, complete with mason jars. i dont know why but you can serve me just about anything in a mason jar and i will think it tastes better, and i'll think you are way awesome for having thought of the idea.

anyway, the study break ended so our new friends had to leave, and we had to get moving as well. the dreaded mall was beckoning us, we wanted to see if toys-r-us or zellers had anything we wanted to get for X before the mad, mad crazy christmas rush of shoppers picked through everything. they did not however have much of interest to us, but we did come home with a new foam ABC-123 mat. so, in the end, i counted today as a great way to end a weekend.

21 November 2010

Brunch: bust. Boots: bad ass.

got out of the city for brunch today. not really worth it.

the weather was a balmy "feels like 10" degrees outside, so our desire to check out blue beach wasnt really in the cards, but we thought we could still drive up to windsor for brunch at a spot we had been interested in for a while. we made a reservation before we left (just in case. ha. its november.) and drove the hour north.

when we arrived at cocoa pesto at around 12:30p, there were just a few other people in the small restaurant. everyone was speaking in very hushed tones, so im sure they freaked a little when they saw us bringing an infant in. but, as usual, i think X impressed them with her ability to be quiet. we entertained her while we looked at the menu and ordered.

dave got the burger with sweet potato fries and i got the brunch platter of eggs, biscuit, and slow-cooked molasses baked beans. X was able to munch on the side of toast i ordered, some of daves tomato slices, a bite of eggs, and a blackberry. i think X had the most fun. daves burger was decent but the sweet potato fries (which were reasonably tasty) were not worth their $5 asking price. my food...was "meh." hadnt had eggs in a while so i enjoyed that, but the biscuit was dry and the beans were too sweet. X, however, munched her toast (and then excitedly threw it on the floor), chomped the eggs, made a mess with the tomatoes, and painted herself black with berry juice. she is a FREAK for berries. and now the jacket she wore is stained out of commission.

after brunch, we decided it was too cold to do anything but drive home. wimps, i know. but i just dont like the damp wind okay? it chills you to the bone. on the ride home, X napped so we stopped at the trail shop to check out their sale since we figured she would be in a patient mood after having some rest. the store was having a 20% off everything sale.

i was in desperate need of some new cold weather rain boots. my cheap made-in-china shitters that cost less than $30...gave me exactly what i paid for and i was tired of sore feet and wet socks. i wanted to stay warm, be comfortable, and still be able to step in a few puddles dammit. is that too much to ask? enter bogs boots. i knew they were what i wanted but i was wimpy about buying them without having thought it through fully (and done my online price comparisons, etc) and having to elbow rich, trendy, outdoorsy-types outta the way to get at a pair. but, dave finally grabbed a sales person and miraculously they had the exact color/style i wanted in my size. i guess it was meant to be. these things are warm, comfortable, and the shortie boot style means i will get the water protection i need (even for fairly deep puddles) and still have the versatility i want to use them everyday. puddles, here i come!!

20 November 2010

No santa baby

attempted the holiday parade with X tonight.

ha, i bet some of you who know me thought this title meant an entry filled with winter solstice, no-santa-for-X chatter. you were wrong. :) anyway, tonight was the holiday parade of lights. as usual, part of the parade route went right near our apartment. and even though it was chilly, windy, and rainy, we thought it was worth trying to check out. we had missed it last year and now, with X, we were interested in seeing her reaction more than anything else.

the parade was to start at 6p, so at around 6:10p we left our apartment with X bundled warmly in fleece as an under layer and an outer layer of rain suit and fleece head and hand gear (courtesy of the eatons. thanks!). we found a nice spot in the front row just a block or so from home. we then had to wait 30 minutes in the icy weather for the parade to get to us. i dont think it would have been nearly so bad if we hadnt been enveloped by a cloud of smokers.

seriously, this is a parade for kids. it involves santa coming at the end. there were children lined up in strollers all up and down the parade route. why oh why would these fools think lighting up would be a great idea? with the dampness all around us it only made the smoke hang in the air longer, and they seemed to be taking as long as possible to smoke their cancer sticks down. i guess im not surprised though, ive never seen such inconsiderate (and plentiful) smokers as i have in halifax. yes, people smoked in france, in europe in general, but they never irritated my lungs on such a daily/hourly basis as they have since moving here. i wanted to kick the legs out from under all of the smokers standing near us.

anyway, back to the parade...it was late. it was cold. X was very patient, and finally the floats started coming. the local radio station floats were first and they were super loud. X got scared and needed to be calmed down a few times. the floats were actually rather lame, at least the early ones, and after a dozen or so went by and we were cold and grumpy, we decided to turn in for the night. we didnt make it to the end of the parade to see santa. :( but X did seem to like the floats that had lots of lights...just not the ones that were blaring announcements and music. lucky for us we live so close so we could catch as much or as little of the event as we wanted without it interrupting our night too much.

16 November 2010

Stockholm-induced single parent stint

dave was stockholm-bound for a job interview, which meant i was staying behind in single parent-land.

so, as you know, dave and i left home for his post-doc appointment. it took us to france for a short while and it brought us here, to halifax. he also has two more years of secured funding to work on this current project, but he is also looking for permanent professorships. before X was born, he had applied to this job in sweden (in late march). it was a hefty application (like 40 pages) and a serious and lengthy application review process. he got an email in late may that he had made the short list (of 13 people), and then in mid-october he got an email saying he was in the top three and was being granted an interview. the interview was taking place on november 15.

he was only going to be gone for 3 days this time and i had my confidence boosted from my moms recent visit so i wasnt too worried to be on my own with X for that time period. unfortunately, the two days before dave left were super busy for him since his boss from france was in town and he was meeting with him for some intense, work-packed cram sessions, so i was alone a lot before dave left as well.

the whirlwind continued right up to the last few hours before dave left. we attended a pizza party at his halifax boss' house and came home in time for dave to pack and leave in his taxi to the airport. he had a flight to london and then a flight to stockholm, the interview on monday, and then a long day of travel back to us on tuesday (stockholm-copenhagen-toronto-halifax).

so, what did we do while dave was gone?

first, since dave normally does the cooking, i realized i had to think of something ahead of time or else i would be eating cereal for every meal. thankfully janes next door sells wonderful homemade frozen dinners in single serving sizes. i got their madras chicken and thai green curry chicken dishes. i figured i could walk down the block to one of our nearby asian restaurants and get hot rice for cheap, so didnt have to worry about that part of the meal either.

and here is how our days played out:

sunday - hung out with some babies in dartmouth at emilys house until X needed her first nap. after the nap we made it to the halifax farmers market to piece together a lunch for me. i got a veggie tamale and a few other things. then we hung out in the childrens section of our library and watched all the big kids play. and after Xs last nap of the day we ran over to st marys university library so i could check out a book for work. and then it was dark and time for dinner and bedtime routines. survived day one!

monday - went to the grocery store and on the way home i stopped at the little playground nearby and put X in the swing set. she seemed to really enjoy it. i also put her on the slide, but that didnt seem as fun as flying through the air on the swing. then, after Xs nap we walked up to my work to drop off the book and say hello to my boss and others. and that is where our ambitious day ended. haha, but at least we survived day two.

tuesday - i saw dave made it safely to copenhagen but had a major (2+ hour) delay trying to get out of there to toronto. so, to take my mind off of that, i made a play date at a new library for us. we hung out for a while chatting with a random mom who was there before Xs play buddy arrived. then, after a nap, we went to the grocery to get pre-made stuffed pork chops for dinner (just pop them in the oven!). the rest of the day went slowly as i watched daves flight status info, and i must have made X anxious because she would not go to sleep at night. she waited up 1.5 hours past her bedtime until i confirmed on halifaxs airport website that his flight had landed. i kid you not, she then promptly went to bed.

and, just like that, dave was home again. poor guy had survived 4+ weeks of work related stress, a conference in denver, a work cram session with his halifax and france bosses, weeks of prep on the (2) talks he gave at his stockholm interview, a whirlwind 3 day trip to sweden for the interview, and 24 hours of travel to get back home to us. and he basically did it all with a smile on his face. such a good guy. we appreciate all he does (and endures) for us. :) love you.

lessons learned while dave was gone:
nap time is seriously important "get work done" time, but its a balance. you cant run around like crazy, you always have to make sure there is extra energy in your tank to take care of the kiddo when s/he wakes up, but there are just certain things that need to get done on a daily basis. i was constantly thinking about what i could and needed to get done for every nap while X was awake so that as soon as she was out i could zip around efficiently and take care of it all quickly and still find time to sit down and relax/rest.

another thing, she can only sit and play by herself for so long, so if i needed to do something while she was awake that i couldnt do with her in my arms, i needed to plan out my movements to maximize efficiency before she started getting annoyed. this mostly pertained to getting food ready and trying to eat it. but, its also amazing how many things you can do with one hand.

i also didnt get too creative while i was playing with her, i guess that was related to not wanting to knock myself out being silly and crazy to entertain her and wind up exhausted before the end of the day. so, we just kinda did our regular routine and the things we needed to do, nothing fancy.

in the end, it was tiring, but i knew it was only for a few days so i stayed surprisingly upbeat about being a single parent. however, if it was a permanent situation, it would be VERY tough. i always assumed being a single parent was difficult, but i now have a new level of appreciation. im speechless. those who have to live it on a daily basis are amazing people.

**job results for those curious: neither dave nor the other person they interviewed were hired. the other guy had a poor interview and while it sounds like they loved dave in almost all aspects, the one hump they couldnt get over was his smaller than desirable publication list. since the job post was to hire someone in as tenured (not tenure track, but straight-up tenured), they had to be very selective and picky. follow-up with the decision makers was very positive for dave and they seemed to encourage him to apply again next year when they hope to repost a similar position. so thats good! and his publication "issue" is a relatively easy (ha! sorry dave, i know its not easy) fix. so, our daydreams of life in europe were put on hold...for now. darn it, because i had a great title for a new blog: "sweden, meat-ballsy americans" (or some other similar variant)**

04 November 2010

X loses daddy to denver, but gains marmee and pal as visitors

dave was off to denver for a 6 day work conference, our first separation since X was born. i was not up for being a single parent that long in a town with no family/close friends so i asked my mom if she could come help me, and im grateful she said yes.

so, dave departed saturday morning, early, and i only had to wait until the afternoon for help to arrive. my mom and her boyfriend al checked in to the westin hotel a few blocks from us and came over to see X in her humble abode. of course the week they come halifax decides to have its first real cold snap (temps in the low 40s, but "feels like" temps around freezing) so, as floridians, they were in for a shivering good time.

(photo op in a pile of leaves while waiting for marmee and pal to arrive)

after stashing the pile of new bibs (food bibs and drool bibs) my mom brought (hooray!), we headed out to the coffee shops to get them warm. i attempted to get them interested in our favorite nearby place (second cup, a canadian chain), but ultimately, they spotted the starbucks across the street and made that their homebase for the week...hey, i tried.

(visiting at the cafe)

after they were warmed up, X needed a nap. once she was ready to go again, we regrouped and headed over to the new restaurant "MIX fresh kitchen" for some local eats. mom got a lobster roll and al got a shrimp pasta dish. both said they enjoyed their food very much. i got the chicken mango nachos, but they forgot the mangoes. grrr. i didnt send it back because X has a limited amount of patience for sitting still in a public place. she was able to gum up a few tortilla chips though (unsalted).

(after dinner storytime)

day 2:
it decided to rain today. joy. after dinking around in the morning, we set out for lunch at the trellis cafe after X woke up from her first nap. a tasty meal of lobster roll sandwiches for mom and al and chicken, apple, avocado sandwich for me. the restaurant was busy and it was nice to show them a spot where local nova scotians hang out and the kind of vibe they create.

on the way home from lunch we stopped at petes grocery store for some dinner items and went home to get X her nap. mom and al came over later to eat, and then i needed a shower. mom held X while i got cleaned up, but she seems to have entered a "strangers (or, anyone who isnt mom or dad) are scary" phase because she cried almost the whole time i was in the shower. and she pretty much acted this way for most of their visit. :( hopefully she grows out of it relatively fast.

(at the grocery store)

day 3:
a grey and gloomy day. lovely. we decided to drive north to the wolfville area so mom and al could see the bay of fundy. i thought it might be nice to have lunch in port williams at the port pub because it has nice big windows overlooking a bay of fundy inlet. i knew, generally, how to get there, but as we approached i wanted to be sure of the exit because sometimes if you miss the correct exit you have to go many miles down the road before you get to the next one. we pulled out the map and i was helping to locate the proper page...and...a provincial cop pulls me over.

i wasnt staying in my lane too well (there were no other cars near us, i wasnt cutting people off or swerving into moving vehicles or anything) and he asked for my paperwork. i told him where we were trying to go and he let me off with a warning and proper directions. and believe it or not, that was the first time ive ever been pulled over in all my 29 years. holy shit im glad it didnt turn into a ticket. and better, im glad X didnt cry.

anyway, we finally made it to the pub and ordered our food. sandwiches all around. mom had a mushroom sandwich, al had a braised beef sandwich, and i had a chicken cranberry sandwich. X munched on some greens from my salad. after eating, we grabbed a quick picture outside. it was cold so we didnt stay long but at least it was low tide so they could see how high the water would normally come up in that spot.

(chilly outside the pub next to the bay of fundy inlet)

then back in the car we attempted to head back. X didnt like the car so much this time and made us pull over twice before my mom had to drive us home and i sat in back to try and keep X calm. thankfully it worked and we made it back in time to get her a proper nap. and then we ended the night down at the henry house for more pub food. at least it was a quiet night there. we sat by their fire and ordered our food. X was calm and enjoyed the tomato slices that came on my sandwich. the floor was a little messy after we left, but the waiter was nice about it.

day 4:
COLD day today. we even saw a few snow flakes. we bundled X up and met mom and al at their morning starbucks spot. after that we went down the street to shop at roots. im not actually sure i have shopped in a roots store that was actually in canada before. my mom took us to the roots in birmingham when we were younger, so i definitely know the store, but it was much better shopping in its native home. plus, with the cold temperature outside, it was nice to be surrounded by tables of sweatpants, warm jackets, and thermal clothes. we ended up buying some cute long johns for X and we got some cool free bags to boot. score!

next shopping trip for the day was to the dreaded mall in dartmouth, and the babies r us no less. mom wanted to get X a sippee cup and a bath chair. we succeeded with the sippee cup, but no bath chair. i also bought a travel dinner mat for restaurant use. on the way out, mom couldnt resist buying a canada maple leaf shirt at zellers. oh how touristy (at least she is half canadian).

later that night X got a special treat: a dip in the hotel pool. mom took her in since i didnt want to get wet. she fussed a little to be away from me but i think she had a fun time. we are on the waiting list for swim lessons so i hope we can get in soon!

(X filling out her bathing suit nicely. lol; swimming with marmee)

after rinsing the chlorine off, we headed over to henry house for dinner again and got the same waiter from the night before. very deja vu. X ate her tomatoes again and she was quiet in the restaurant and dinner was nice by the fire. back at the apartment X got a real bath and finally seemed to be calming down around mom and al. finally. now that their trip was almost over.

(last night together)

day 5:
their last day started at starbucks, where else. we met them over there briefly and planned the final hours of the day. X needed a nap and mom and al wanted to check out citadel hill. they were able to see the barracks and hear about the cannon preparation before they shot it off at noon (which they do every day).

then mom and al came over to watch X while i ran out to get us some tasty lunch items from janes next door. she actually was calm the whole time i was gone. her first time away from both mom and dad for more than a few minutes. good to know she can handle it if distracted. theres hope for the future! :)

and then it was time to say goodbye. the weather had been crap, but the time had flown by. i gained confidence that i could take care of all X needs by myself and still get a few things done for myself and the apartment. it was so nice to have the help for so many days and i am very lucky that they had the time and ability to come and be with us. and it was nice for X to get such a long, focused period of time with them. so a potentially sad and stressful separation from dave ended up being a positive experience that included quality time for X with her marmee (my mom) and pal (al). thanks a million!!