28 December 2011

This blog is really going places!

just noticed ive posted over 500 entries to this blog (in its 3+ years). eeps!

also, google blogger has a stats tracker and its telling me that ive had 16,000+ views to this blog (since whenever it started counting and not including the times i view it). it gives me information on a few other things too, like which particular posts are most read...my pregnancy and early newborn posts seem to regularly be the most frequented. thats good i guess, other parents are hopefully realizing they arent alone in whatever less-than-glamorous, stressful situation they may be finding themselves.

there are also amusing stats like what keywords people searched for that brought them to the blog. most of the time these are dull, but occasionally i see a seriously laughable keyword search, and i think "really, those keywords got someone to my blog? wtf!?"

boobs for belgium
dirty black grandpa
pee have bubbles
icy beard
high temperature grout cleaning
oh, it's seems error!
naked baby bending over (this ones not too crazy, but i do find it to be creeeeeeepy)

anyway, as ive said, this blog is mostly for me, dave, and X, and hopes to keep friends and family in the loop about what we are up to, but im also glad to think that maybe im helping a few others along the way to find good places to eat, and visit, and maybe i am saving some mom or dad a tiny bit of the anxiety that comes along with parenting. you are not alone! and the internet reminds me of this all the time.

p.s. i receive next to no comments these days. no need to be timid people! leave a note if you wish, even if i dont know you. :)

25 December 2011

Christmas orphans

we were kindly invited to some christmas festivities by a couple of daves colleagues. 

the holiday weekend was whisper quiet around the city. students had gone home, and it seemed that the rest of the inhabitants left the city for more rural relatives. the stores were much more focused on being closed for the holidays than they ever are in the u.s. and i was terrified of having day after day of nowhere to go with X...enter daves work colleagues.

colleagues isabelle and djordje invited us to their place christmas eve. they dont have family in the country and they live out in a fairly isolated (yet beautiful) stretch of the coast south of us. it was nice to still get that feeling of people coming together over the holidays, even though we werent with family. we love being invited to their home because they are such knock out hosts and they love to cook for people. it was to be an indian curry meal and isabelle had planned a chicken/peas/rice side dinner for X (so nice of them).

however, issues cropped up. first, i had a lovely headache. second, their house isnt super kid-friendly. they are very kind and relaxed about it, but of course we felt like we had to hover over X and watch her like a hawk, so it was hard to actually socialize. third, there was a miscommunication about my dietary needs. i still cant do dairy and soy because of X (and even nuts are a bit iffy late in the evening). well...every single thing they made had dairy in it, except the rice. i had water, rice and Xs leftovers for dinner that night. our hosts were horrified by their mistake and i was trying to suck it up in the largest way i possibly could so that they didnt feel an ounce worse than they were already making themselves feel. and finally, we had also mistakenly given X too many apricot pieces (while snacking) that day so she was busy pooping herself silly while at their house, and then crying about the pain that the poop was giving her butt. ugh, what a combination. happily, we managed to keep our cool and made the best of the visit though. we really do like to see these people, however, i fear they will need quite a few months to get over that experience.

and then came christmas day. even more silent and ghost town-ish around our area. daves boss had invited us over for some christmas libations and snacks around 3p. this was very kind of them and of course we welcomed the idea of having anything to do on christmas. their gathering involved their daughter and the wifes parents (who we actually knew because they gave us a dresser when we first moved in to town). they have a nice, old, non-ostentatious house, and being filled with christmas decorations and family made it all the homier. also, meeting their daughter for the first time was nice, she was very kind and paid attention to X, even gave her some of her childhood books (she just graduated from college). X was entertained for a while, but there was enough activity going on that she wouldnt settle and so i was chasing her around the house...and then the snacks and drinks came out.

drinks in flutes and plates of food that were X no-nos were all perched precariously down at her level, and suddenly it was no fun to be there anymore. she wouldnt eat the snacks i had brought for her and she marched right up and swiped some dairy-based seafood cocktail dip off the daughters plate. ugh. i packed her up. i was a bit sad to leave (dave stayed behind, since we only live across the street) because the wifes parents are really interesting elderly people. they seem to be active in the community, well-educated, well-read, and comfortable moving along with the changes each new decade brings. there was no sentiment of "in MY day things worked like this" in the way they talked and they didnt just talk about the weather or tv programs. i was fascinated (i want to be like them when i am old). most grandparent aged people in my experience (im talking 75+ here) dont talk like them. anyway, i left early with X, but it was nice to be around these people for a little while on an otherwise quiet sunday holiday.

so that was our christmas weekend. it was really nice to have been invited in to peoples homes during a time that is usually so family-oriented. this is the kind of thing im really interested in doing (whenever we get settled somewhere). i love the idea of a makeshift "family" coming together during a holiday, so that no one is alone. people who cant afford to get home to distant family, people with little or no family, or whatever other reason might bar people from being able to partake in a more "traditional" holiday celebration. id love to be the house that people gather at. dave and i have small families anyway, and they are never all going to be in the same place at the same time, so our table (should we chose to stay home for whatever holiday) would always be mostly empty. this doesnt need to be a sad thing though. we can fill it with friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. and that way we can always have a warm, interesting, and memorable holiday meal. i find this to be very appealing in lots of ways, one being that X (while perhaps not having a house filled with siblings) would then experience a full house on at least certain occasions. 

a final note about our christmas weekend: these experiences reminded us of our constant battle with socializing and dealing with Xs food issues. we dont want to isolate ourselves and not go out. we dont want to put people out to conform to our dietary needs. we dont want to offend people by packing meals for myself and X and eating our food at a table where we've been invited over specifically for dinner. its hard, and awkward, and we never know how to deal with it. no matter what, something always makes the meal challenging. we dont want to put Xs comfort down the scale of priorities but we dont want to come in to someone elses space and make the food issues take over. i think i could try to paint the picture of our frustrations and dilemmas surrounding this issue for pages and pages and i still wouldnt get it right. so, i think i'll stop there.

22 December 2011

Winter so-solstice

happy winter solstice!

so, last year we went very minimal on the gift end of celebrations. in fact, i dont think we actually got X anything to open, we just did the ceiling decorations. and that turned out to be plenty of entertainment and delight for her. this year, we stepped up the gift giving, but still focused on keeping it minimal. she still has little understanding of the concept of gifts and so she has no expectations or demands around them. i know as the years go on and she is more aware of when gifts are coming and what kind of fun they can provide, she will have more expectations. and that is fine. i just think that if we start with a reasonable pile of gifts and grow the budget and/or size of the gift mountain according to her understanding of gifts, we can end up maintaining a reasonable amount of gifts, as well as imparting a positive and healthy gift giving message. 

anyway, to kick off solstice, last night we went to the nearby neighborhood that has over-the-top christmas decorations. we're talking the several million dollar mansions that hire cranes to put up all their lights and decorations. even as an adult, it was pretty magical. X seemed totally mesmerized. she wanted to walk up one of the porches to get a closer look at their giant nutcracker. and she talked for days about the santa that was waving to her from a yard.

and then we headed home, wound down, and got X to bed. then we went about setting up for solstice. we had the 4 snowflakes we cut from last year out and we cut 4 more new ones for this year (we used paper that X had painted on, so her handiwork was a part of the decorations this year). we put them on fishing line and hung them from the ceiling. we also stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, thinking she might get a kick out of that (i neglected to think about the fact that we never play in the room when it is dark, so the glowing is actually rarely seen. silly mama). and then we set out her solstice goodies: a sled, a double-sided dry erase board with cool crayons, rhythm sticks, a jingle bell shaker (this and the sticks were her favorite things from our kindermusik class), and a realistic horse toy (she is bonkers about horses these days).

(this video is like 3.5 minutes long. she had just woken up and walked in to the room. she normally makes a beeline for that table [it has her library books on it]. i love her slow-on-the-uptake reaction when she realizes there is something new in her play area. she finds the horse first, then the dry erase board, then the sticks. everything else was ignored. ah well.)

so, i guess her gifts were just ho-hum this year (in terms of my expectations of her reaction). oh well. i am repressing the feeling of wanting to go out and buy something huge for her, just to make it feel like we got her a big "thing" for the holidays. but, there is always her birthday, and now that she is getting old enough, id like to do little things for each equinox and the summer solstice too. there are plenty of times throughout the year for gift giving. plus, we dont hold back in getting random fun things for her when we see them (we recently went to the thrift store and found a hula hoop and some pretty play scarves).

the rest of the day wasnt bad though. we were tired of cooking and wanted to brave it at a restaurant. dave had seen that rockbottom brewery recently got a well-known brewer to come in and do their beers, and along with his arrival they revamped their entire menu. we were willing to try it again, and hope for a better meal than the one other time we had been there. it turned out to be great! we ordered two sandwiches with the bread and cheese (evil soy lurks in almost all bread) on the side and a mountain of (baked) sweet potato fries. X was very, very pleased and we all cleaned our plates. dave enjoyed the beer this time and best of all, X didnt have any tummy troubles that night. i think that honestly was a first, a restaurant that didnt give us problems. i guess we will be frequenting rockbottom more often!

to finish the night, we watched some of Xs new obsession: the sound of music. she has memorized the "do re mi" song and the "so long, farewell" song. i guess she is on her way to loving the movie as much as i do. and its great that its not a cartoon-y princess movie that would make me want to shoot myself if i had to hear it every week.

and lastly, over night, we got the best winter solstice gift: snow! we had been splashing in puddles, and just like that...we woke up to a blanket of snow. and the snow fell all day. we got to make snowmen and use Xs new sled. so, i guess the only thing that was "so so" about the solstice was her reaction to the gifts, which is just a lingering hang-up i must have from my own past. im looking forward to more winter celebrations.

(playing in puddles on winter solstice [~45F out]; snow the next day!)
(first snowman [she wouldnt hug him when i asked]; carrying her snowball; sledding with momma [another snowball in hand])

18 December 2011


its been over 20 months since dave and i had our last "date", today this situation was rectified.

our babysitter, sara, was done with school for the year and she wasnt traveling home right away for the holidays. she was kind enough to give us some of her weekend time so we could get our first date. it ended up being a modest midday sunday "date" and that was fine with me.

the day actually started with dave taking X to the natural history museum so i could have quiet time to finish up some work and get Xs lunch ready. we had sara from 11:30a-2p. and it turned out to be the perfect amount of time. 

our date wasnt very elaborately planned. i just wanted to spend time with him relaxing, talking, and being a normal non-parent adult. i was determined that the date time would NOT involve: running errands, going shopping, seeing a movie, or talking about X (incessantly). so, we chose to do lunch and bowling.

lunch was at the yummy middle eastern place we like. we were the only ones there and we had a nice, quiet, slow meal that was actually able to be consumed while it was still hot. a novelty! after food, we headed out for some candlepin bowling, which i now realize means we recreated a "date" we had done while i was pregnant.
we did a terrible job bowling!! i mean it was truly embarrassing. we were lucky we were the only people there or else i would have had to put a paper bag over my head. last time we were here i won all 3 games we played. this time, i lost all three! this was bad for my ego, but it was fun to get reacquainted with my competitive nature. but, we ended up having a lovely time, despite the fact that we were awful. i decided it was a general metaphor for the situation we now found ourselves in: rusty at having adult fun. it looks like we need some practice on going out by ourselves.

all in all, we had a great time in our 2.5 hours, and i wouldnt have had any use to be gone from X for longer. to be sure, we had a different kind of fun without her (quiet, slow, relaxed, totally driven by our own wants/needs), but its not like we dont know how to have a similar amount of fun WITH X. it also showed me that, while dave and i should definitely seize all future opportunities for some free time alone, we had been doing a good job of supporting each other, listening to each other, and connecting with each other while being full-time parents. i didnt feel like the "date" was required to help us fill in a gap in our relationship, and it wasnt hard to make interesting conversation about things that didnt involve X.

11 December 2011

Tis the season

holiday parties and the start of the 2nd birthday parties. eeps!

-thursday (12/8): my work party, at a country club. nice place, and kid friendly with areas to run and even had "safe" decorations (read: not easily broken). they made two separate dinner plates especially for X and i. we sat near an exit and the evenings musicians. and we magically ended up at a table with two colleagues who i actually knew (i only knew about 20% of the people at the party...a hazard of working from home). my new boss (mark) had his kids there too and i got to meet his adorable daughter, beatrice. X charmed the pants off of everyone she met and she had absolutely no issues with being at the party. a huge success!

-friday (12/9): after dinner we went down to the christmas market on the waterfront for a free carousel ride. X was waaaaaaay more enamored with the carousel this time, compared to when she first rode one in france. and that was fine by us, this one was free! we rode the thing 4 times. i think we will have to go back later this weekend too.

(carousel ride!)

-saturday (12/10): our first birthday party for a two year old. mr harrison. what a sweetie. this kid is gonna have a lot of ladies chasing after him when he gets older. his party was a mix of grandparent aged family and toddlers. and it totally worked. the older folks fawned and the kids played SO well together. several of our mom group ladies were there and everyone had a nice time in the 1.5 hour time span. im thinking this will be the last year where the parties are this chill. i envision screaming and fighting kids next year, but maybe i will be pleasantly surprised.

got back from the birthday party and dave went to frisbee while X and i had down time. when dave got home we rebooted for daves work party. a curry buffet. hell of a great idea. the hosts (daves boss who lives, literally, right across the street) made rice and some seafood curries and the rest of the guests brought a curry of their choosing. we made a mild lentil curry so X could safely partake, and i was able to enjoy a spicy beef, spicy lentil, and mild chicken curry that were fabulous.

28 November 2011

Not just aNY thanksgiving

best thanksgiving in memory. so glad we got the chance to celebrate with loved ones because we havent had a proper thanksgiving since before we left ann arbor in 2008.

back in august or so, daves sister megan wondered if we would be willing to travel to their place for thanksgiving. heck yes! gracious hosts, serious culinary skills, family time (and by extension, friend time...since good friends amy and tony live nearby), and a change of scenery from our regular ho-hum halifax life? sign me up. we were lucky enough to be able to pretty much nail the travel end of things this time, and the visiting with friends and family was most welcome and relatively easy to manage.

*warning - few photos were taken on this trip. :( mary ann posted a few more on her blog here. *

wednesday (11/23): got up 4a. made it through all airport lines easily (for once!). experienced a "X gem": while waiting to board, X looked at a gate number and said "28". i didnt even know she knew numbers that high and we werent talking about gates or numbers at all. also, we got out ahead of halifaxs first winter storm of the season, so that was good. arrived at JFK (an hour) early. scooped up our baggage and hit some traffic during our taxi ride. no matter though, X napped through the traffic (did you know that in NY kids dont need to be in a car seat in taxis? eeps). we arrived at our gas station/repair shop/rental car pick-up location (no joke). our car wasnt there yet so we had to sit outside for 20 minutes waiting (X was still napping thankfully).

in the mean time, dave got bagels (holy hell halifax needs a decent bagel place). these were just generic NY bagels but to us...awesomeness. then we were fueled up for an easy drive to nyack (home of the lovely celini family). X got to meet their puppies (not before shrieking in fear of the gate in their fence). and then baby sam woke up. sweet baby boy! this was our first time meeting him (though we patted him through his mommas belly in march, and i dreamt he was a boy even before he was conceived...tatrice was what they had named him then). we exchanged gifties. amy is the ultimate gift giver, i marveled at the heap of things she compiled for us (for X: a sticker craft, snacks [applesauce squeezies are indeed a good idea for airplane travel], a lovely dress, a book; and a book and trader joes snacks for me). did i mention the woman (mother to a 4 month old child) also had a beer bread in the oven for dave and a specially-tailored apple cake for me (imagine that...me...eating baked goods. heaven i tell you!). then X took another nap.

amy and i enjoyed some girly chatting over a homemade chickpea/quinoa salad with tomato soup lunch (yeah, she has mad hostessing skills!) while dave napped with X. after the nap, "papa tony" (as X has been calling him) was home from work and by now my travel headache was mounting (must drink more water). ultimately i stayed behind and laid in amys bed with heat pads while everyone else went to play at the library. :( when they got back my headache was a little better. we had a big chicken/pork dinner but X was too distracted to eat well and thus we did not have the most pleasant meal around the table. i dont think she ever got the amount of sleep she required for the day. she was tired a good 2 hours before we were expecting. so, after dinner we had to pack up and bolt for the car. this actually turned out to be a good thing because, with getting up at 4a, we were just so darn tired and the two hour drive to albany was still ahead of us. X went to sleep easily in the car and we survived the drive to daves sisters house. we got there at 10:30p (11:30p to our halifax bodies), said our quick hellos and dove into bed. X was totally happy to be transported from car to bed without protesting. and we all slept in until 9a.

thursday (11/24): woke up, devoured oatmeal. then daves parents came over from their hotel and we spent the rest of the day lounging in front of the tv (in perfect thanksgiving fashion). X seemed to occasionally tune in to the NYC parade and find amusement, and football also captured her attention from time to time. we also opened the boxes we had sent to ourselves (simple shoes and football books for dave, MGoBlog t-shirts for all three of us [a surprise from dave], clothes for X), traded small gifts with family (i got a bracelet from megan, and X got sock animals and books from grandma and a shirt from grandpa) and watched X play with everyone. she seemed perfectly at ease with her surroundings. of course, it helped that her aunt megan and grandma swooped right in and showered her with love and attention. :)

at around 5p we all sat down to the most beautiful and thoughtful thanksgiving dinner ive had in a long time. megan was so sweet to have knocked herself out making several dishes dairy-free for us. i was able to float my plate in an inch of gravy and gorge on turkey. heaven! X proved to be a big fan of gravy as well and shoveled all the sweet potato glop off my plate and into her mouth. oh it was a meal!

and then we slumped on the furniture while megan went back to the kitchen again! X became fully enamored with the kitchen and aunt megan at this point...because aunt megan showed her how to make a pie. they made a cherry pie together and X was even able to eat the finished product (read: i was able to gorge on baked goods during this whole, awesome NY visit. something to be thankful for indeed!). due to the sugar that was in the pie we were up a bit late that night, but it was a small price to pay. X was loving her family so much!

(helping aunt megan with the cherry pie crust)

friday (11/25): we skipped the pepper spraying and shootings that typically accompany black fridays mega sales and stayed in for a dave-made breakfast (X-friendly pancakes and bacon). X was a happy camper! then dave took X to the park with everyone while i vegged (we didnt get the greatest sleep while on this trip, a minor price to pay). the weather was great while we were visiting; unseasonably warm temperatures were welcomed by us for sure.

back from the park, X and i napped while everyone went to "5 guys, a burger, and fries" for lunch. post-nap, we went to "little book house" for fun kid books (thanks aunt megan and grandma!) and the "toy maker" for a fun squish ball and animal play set. and then it was back home for a dinner of leftovers and lounging. i must say, with all the tv we absorbed, i have reassured myself that we arent missing much these days...although i do still enjoy it a wee bit.

saturday (11/26): got up, ate, and went swimming in grandmas hotel pool. X seemed like a natural (i havent been going to the pool when dave takes X back home). she also...seemed tired. so, we got back to the house and packed all our stuff into the car and prepared to leave. X played her last minutes with her beloved aunt megan and grandma and dave debated about how much UM v OSU game to watch before we hit the road for Xs nap. in the end he couldnt enjoy watching the beginning of the game, so we left. X napped and when she woke up, we told her we were going to stop off at amy/tonys again to visit. we made it to their house in time for dave to watch the last quarter of his football game (lucky man, NY traffic had moved 10 mph above the speed limit and the albany-nyack trip went fast!).

amy and i took the babes to the playground where we a had high quality moms-at-the-playground chit chat session. :) at sunset we went home to order pizza. this time, X was happier to sit at the table and munch munch munch on pizza with us, so we had a nice dinner together. and then we had to give our final hugs and drive to our queens hotel. considering it was a saturday night going toward/through the city, we made it to our hotel pretty easily, and it was in a decent area that felt safe and the place was nice and clean. i would stay there again. we then unloaded, reorganized our bags, bathed the filthy X, repacked, and went to bed.

sunday (11/27): up at 6a. drove our rental car back to JFK. had a long and stupid wait to get checked in at the airport. i swear they make it impossible for parents traveling with "lap children" to catch a break (why would you want to make this population more irritable than they already are on travel day? its like you are begging to have kids crying on the airplanes). then we milled around the airport until take off. the plane ride and trip home went pretty well and i would say my major travel frustrations with X (from europe travel and the MI travel) are pretty much past us (famous last words?!). im sure there will always be something at the different ages/stages that will make it challenging to travel with her, but things are getting easier and smoother. weve got a system down now and we feel comfortable and successful when we follow our "formula".

**many many thank yous to the celini, timmons, and whipp families for making this a stellar holiday trip!**

parting note: a nytimes "flying with kids" article.

21 November 2011

New-to-us things in town

this weekend we actually found and did some things that were new to us. i love that we had some new entertainment in a city weve lived in for almost 2.5 years and nearly shuts down in winter.

saturday night was the santa parade. we had actually attempted this last year, but bailed after only half a dozen floats because of the miserable weather and smokers. this year the weather was dry, but still very windy and chilly. the parade route came within a block of our new apartment, so we were happy we didnt have to make much effort to attempt the parade in this weather. we got out at about 6:30p (parade started at 6p) and the parade came down our way 15 minutes later...for the most part the parade was lame. tons of worthless floats, only two or three cool marching bands, and LOTS of lag time in between chunks of the parade. santas float came after a solid 5-10 minute break of NO parade floats. and then his sleigh was totally wimpy and lame. X toughed it out for the whole parade though (we got back home at 8p). we asked her if she wanted to leave early, but she didnt. she stayed to see santa, even though she had no idea who he was, and then she desperately wanted to get home and have her hands warmed up. me too!!

(dressed for the parade and wearing her new stonz booties)

sunday was still windy, but warmer. we tried out a new park that a mom friend had mentioned. frog pond. the trail was gorgeous: wooded, lots of rocks and tree stumps for slightly older kids to have a blast climbing on, a beautiful pond, a nice boardwalk, a good distance walking loop around the pond and it was an easy drive to get to it. im definitely looking forward to getting back here in the spring. i wasnt expecting it to be such a lovely spot.

(got her pine cone; chucking it in the pond; making faces with papa)

on the way back from frog pond, i located a european deli another mom friend had told me about. it was closed, but now i now i know where it is and i will be back to investigate!

and lastly, i saw my first movie in a movie theater since we lived in france. its been a long time since i mustered up the money, patience, time, and energy to get to the movie theater (okay, energy is a bit of a stretch). i was restless for some vegetative alone time on sunday night and broke down and told dave to watch X while i slipped away to watch..."breaking dawn: part 1". yes, the 4th installment of the twilight saga. THIS is what i went to the movies to see. stone me to death if you want...but i had...a GREAT time. nothing beats the big screen. even if it means i have to wade through all the ads and previews at the beginning (30 minutes worth!). and the icing on the cake was that the movie was actually as good as i had hoped. all the actors finally seemed to feel comfortable playing their characters and they were able to kind of laugh at themselves too. they stayed true to the book as well as doing things up hollywood style. i had a really good time. it was a fluff movie, but it was done well and i left a satisfied customer. im now itching to see "part 2" of course, and it also reminded me to get out and treat myself to that kind of thing once in a while. movies really can take you away, and whether they are gritty oscar-winning stories or light, fun teen flicks...if they have the right balance and magic, it just works. and it makes me smile and cry at the same time.

01 November 2011

Trick or treating

kiddos first trick or treating. hilarious.

first of all, X successfully wore her ladybug costume all day without spilling on it or peeing through it. win! and then, a little after 6p, we did a loop around our block for candy. we had a little brown bag with us and had tried to tell X the main idea of trick or treating before we went out. i think she thought i was crazy.

(the costume, once again)

the first few houses we hit she got mad when she had to put the candy in the bag that she had just gotten her hands on. -- why mom!? why!? you just told me to pick that piece of candy up...and now i have to ditch it in the bag? i see no purpose to this cruel and silly "holiday"! -- it was clearly rather confusing. we did about 5 houses and finally, by the last house, she seemed to be understanding the procedure a bit better: ring bell, person opens door, say "trick or treat", pick out candy, put candy in bag, say "thank you", and go to another house.

when she got home and surveyed her candy bag, there were only three pieces of candy in there she could eat. and i ate two of them. ha! like she needs that stuff. but one or two bites of candy and she was hooked. all we heard was "candy, candy, candy" and "halloween" around the house for days. and she did seem to like the spirit of halloween in general. the people outside, the costumes, the other kids, talking to people, the glowing pumpkins, the unusual decorations. im sure we will have much more fun next year.

30 October 2011

Ghouling weekend

had a non-relaxing weekend that involved being at the whim of the cooling fall-winter temperatures. 

so dave had an ultimate frisbee tournament in wolfville on saturday called "the tournament of ghouls" (halloween themed obviously). i had debated all week about accompanying him or just dealing with single parenting it for the day. i had basically settled on staying behind in halifax, when dave convinced me to get organized and book a b&b in wolfville for friday night so we could be with him. surprisingly, things all came together at the last minute (b&b booking at a place just down the road from the playing field, roasting a chicken and making pasta in order to have X food with us, and packing our bags). 

after rush hour and during dinner time, we hit the road to wolfville. dave was able to feed X in her car seat and talk to her, play with her, entertain her happily until we made it to the b&b (about an hour and 15 minute ride). we checked in to the b&b, settled in and called for takeout dinner for ourselves. we decided on the library pub because they were still open, we had eaten there before (shockingly, for the exact same weekend 2 years ago), and their menu was better than deep-fried everything that the other pub in town was offering.

after dinner, we occupied the bulk of the time before Xs bedtime with a long splash in the jacuzzi. our room had a nice deep one. dave could actually get in and stretch out his legs and be comfortable. i thought X might get scared by the sound of the jets, but in fact she loved them. she loved the whole idea of the jacuzzi. and it was deep enough to feel like the pool to her. she played for like an hour in there with dave, throwing her little ball and splashing like a maniac. it was much easier to clean up at the b&b than in our bathroom at home so we let her go to town. it also helped her burn off the energy required to get her to sleep.

and bedtime went well. however, there must have been soy in the bread from my burger that i got for dinner. grrrr! i had a bit of a rough nights sleep in bed with X, but i think dave barely noticed from the safety of his own comfortable double bed. at least he got good rest for his tournament the next day.

he got up early on saturday and had breakfast and came back with a tray of food for me to eat in the room. that was nice to not have to navigate the main dining room alone with X for breakfast. then dave ran off to his game and i ate most of the food before X woke up. then we packed up and suited up for a day spent mostly outside in chilly temperatures. we were treated to sunshine (thankfully) but the temperature was hovering somewhere uncomfortably near freezing. after his first game, dave came back and checked us out of the b&b...now the rest of the day we were without a private bathroom/space to hang out in if we got cold or tired.

once checked out we drove down to a central public parking lot that allowed us access to daves field and all the goings on in town without having to move the car again. dave had a little extra time to spend with us, so we found our way into the towns farmers market. what a lovely place. much smaller than halifax but so much more alive with community and charm. great old wood floors made the space that much more inviting and the wide selection of produce, crafts, hot prepared foods, and live music gave the place pitch perfect ambiance. dave bought a giant coconut macaroon that could have been a paper weight (it cost only $3.50!), i got a little bottle of apple cider, and we snagged a beautiful dark walnut horse that had wheels attached from a local toy maker (X instantly melted to the floor when we handed it to her and started pushing it around the floors of the market. vroom vroom!).

and then it was time for dave to get back to playing. we watched his game until we got cold and then went into the athletics building and caught a hockey game going on. X was enthralled and really enjoyed the zamboni, it was a new favorite word for the afternoon. and then it was nap time. the sun had warmed the car up enough to be really pleasant inside, so i thought we could lay down in there with the windows cracked and have an almost normal nap time experience. ha. i nursed her to groggy and tried to lay her down. she wasnt having any of it. we then played in the car for almost an hour thinking she might eventually conk out. nope!

then i had to abandon nap time hopes and look for food for lunch. i had been craving food from the place in town called "vegetarian lunchbox" which i had been told had switched names and was now "rolled oat". either way, when we walked down to the restaurant...it was closed! ugh! now i had no idea where i was going to easily be able to walk in and get food. i was really hungry! in the end, i had to resort to a subway sandwich.

while choking it down, we wandered into acadia universitys art centre. the exhibition going on in the art gallery was not a good idea for X (think wide open room filled with wires and little things strewn on the floor), so we wandered around the halls near the theatre and found a great place for climbing. thank goodness, because at least i got a break from entertaining her. and then...i broke down and told her i was just going to bounce her to sleep in the carrier because i knew she needed rest and i needed a break too. i bounced her in the ergo and reclined in the car with her on me for a short nap. then we only had about an hour or so left of daves tournament before we could go home. by now the sun wasnt providing much warmth and the temperature was biting. we spent the rest of our time in the athletics building burning off energy.

when we were finally ready to go home (daves team got second place), everyone was tired. i drove home while dave entertained X. we picked up dinner on the way back in to town, ate, unpacked, and tried to do as little as possible until bedtime. it had been a quick little trip, but it was tiring. some of it was fun and it was certainly great that we packed up so smoothly and can now manage that part of travel very well, but the part about being outdoors all day without a safe haven was a little hard. camping will definitely only be attempted by us, for now, in very warm weather.

but, as it turns out, it was kinda nice to have spent half the weekend outside, because sunday was a beast! we had mega wind gusts, rain/rain/rain, and it was COLD! we had to force ourselves out of the house to help X burn off energy: the farmers market, the library. and then night time darkness came. thankfully dave had a new and awesome beef stew going on the stove that everyone loved. it made the day a little brighter. and after stew, dave took X to the coffee shop down the street to get out one last time before bed.

whew! what a weekend!

23 October 2011

Boo-b-tacular (early) halloweekend

had ourselves some scary good times this weekend. an early halloween.

first came the scary. *TMI alert* friday night after X nursed herself to sleep i felt like my nipple was being stabbed repeatedly while simultaneously being burnt off my body. it was so awful i had to sleep topless and without a blanket (and no, this was not as sexy a scene as you were picturing, unless you are turned on by someone twitching, wincing/gasping/groaning in pain, and slathering lansinoh on their skin. on second thought, im sure there is an entire niche fetish area devoted to things like that, for you i say...stop following my blog!). by morning i was feeling achy and fatigued and frightened that i was on my way to mastitis again. dave was alerted to the fact that he was on X duty for the day so i could hope to nip this thing in the bud (pun intended).

to break up the monotony of laying around, shuffling through the house, and generally being grumbly, we decided to carve one of our two pumpkins saturday night to give X something to do. unfortunately, the idea of putting her hand inside the pumpkin to scoop gooey stuff out seemed offensive to her. the kid who does and touches dirty and gross crap on a daily basis apparently felt this was too yucky, even for her. im shocked! although she did like the end result (she decided the pumpkin needed a mustache and some tears).

 (showing her what i pulled out of the pumpkin; taunting her with gooey strands of pumpkin "hair")

that night i came to bed with the timidly hopeful wish that in the morning my pain would all be behind me. and for the most part that was true. thank goodness! so i felt like it was okay for us to go to a playdate halloween party we had been invited to. one of the moms from our original preggo group hosted a costume party in their new, lovely house in hammonds plain. we were the first to arrive, which was good for X to be able to get acquainted with all the toys in the basement before a million kids were there. and she got some quiet time with the hostess, miss havyn, the peacock. so cute. all the kids and their costumes just makes you smile.

(X the ladybug; sharing with havyn the peacock)

and even once everyone arrived, everyone got along very well with each other. no screaming or fights. there were a lot of kids and adults in a confined space, and everyone seemed to have a great time. it was really fun being with all the nice moms again, some of whom i havent seen since the kids were still crawling. looking forward to the next time we have an excuse to gather together. also, added bonus, on the way out, we saw a deer in their backyard. it was very still and stayed for a long time, so X got a good look at it.

so, you see, a scary fun halloweekend.

17 October 2011

Photo finish to the week

a nice family day and nice weather combined on our scheduled outdoor photo shoot. hooray!

we started the morning with a pancake and bacon breakfast. dave found a great dairy-free pancake recipe recently and adding blueberries to it makes them like straight-up crack for X. she also enjoyed the fact that papa let her stand on a chair and watch him make the pancakes.

(consulting the stirring job papa is doing)

after fueling up, we donned our sunday decents and headed over to dalhousies campus to meet our photographer. she is actually a mom in our original mom group. she was kind enough to make time in her busy family schedule to take Xs 18 month pictures. while the leaves hadnt quite started to turn yet, we had a nice backdrop of the schools old buildings. all we really wanted were candid family shots, us playing, nothing too posey-posey.

(i absolutely love what we got back. very us.)

after pictures, we went home for lunch and nap time. after the nap, i took X down to the park and we played in the sand of its "beach". the weather had turned a bit cooler, but we enjoyed ourselves until dinner. dave made a new soup recipe, a bean stew; one of the few lovely things about cold, yucky weather. and this soup was a winner (minus the bloating produced by the added ham steak bits). X loved talking about the beans, carrots, ham, and dipping the bread into the soup. it was a fun family meal. and a nice family day.

* here is the link to the full album of shots from the day (well, these are the favorites, our full album had 458 pictures!) *

16 October 2011

Noc-turne[d] out to be an entertaining night

went out for "nocturne: art at night" after dinner tonight.

the weather was great today and as the moon came out the temperature was still holding steady. last year was chillier and we had jumped out of the house right at the start time of the event and were a bit disappointed. this year we hung out at home until the event had been "on" for 30 minutes. then we put X in the stroller and hit the town.

it was a great fall evening. cool, dry, and a little breezy but very comfortable in a light fleece. we had gotten a program in advance and starred all the exhibits nearby that were of interest. the first few we encountered were duds. i was trying not to get too bummed when we decided to hoof it up citadel hill and check out the installation there. in the old army barracks an artist had suspended a lit "connect the dots" (if you will) of the ursa major constellation out in the middle of the open grounds of the barracks. it wasnt terribly impressive but it was interesting in that you had to look up, at the sky, to see the piece. X loved craning her neck and we even laid down on the ground under it a few times to get a better look.

and then she was over it, and started walking. she walked right out of the citadel hill barracks and down the front "lawn" toward downtown. and then we realized she must literally be marching to the beat of her own drummer, because we heard music. drums. we were clearly walking in the direction of the noise, but we didnt know where it was coming from, this hadnt been in the nocturne program. so we scrambled downhill in the direction of the music and found the drum circle in the grand parade square.

apparently this was the first night of "occupy nova scotia" (i guess an event to show solidarity with "occupy wall street") and these people were not associated with nocturne at all. good night to start up the occupation though. i wormed our way all the way into the outer ring of the dance circle and swayed and bounced/jumped X to the beat of the drums. they were a lively and alluring bunch, despite the body odor and, lucky us, the drum circle went on for several minutes, ending with a few short whistle blows after the drums had sped up to hyper-speed. X was entranced. absolutely loved it. and she was very angry when they stopped. she didnt scream but she was not happy and kept asking for more, more, more.

we finally pulled our mini political activist away from the hippie den and kept moving down the street toward more art. she was able to see a saxophonist, bubbles floating in the air, some people in bird masks "tweeting" live, firedancers from the halifax circus, a reverberating guitar, some phantom "buildings" suspended in trees, and a glow house.

id say it was a pretty successful night. definitely better than last year in every way. it is such a great event though. getting people out on the streets, interacting with art, with each other. getting them to think and to share. its a great thing. so great in fact, that it took X an hour to wind down for bed time after we got home. so it goes.

13 October 2011

The latest in our life limbo

maybe its time for an update about daves ongoing job search.

tis the season for applying for professorships (usually october - december-ish). since i couldnt remember the last time i talked about this topic (and a quick search back in my archives isnt answering my question, except to remind me of daves stockholm interview last year), i thought i would post something about this. in case anyone is interested.

there are a few intriguing positions this "season" that fit both daves particular skill set and are in desirable locations. he keeps a list of those postings that peak his interest and then sends out feelers to the school to see if it is worth it for him to apply. upon getting those replies, he then thinks about it further to really look at the application process and how working at the school would affect his career. if he still likes what he sees after this, we discuss our thoughts on the challenges that living in that particular place would bring. if things feel manageable at this point, he scrapes together the time to put an application in. then, with any luck, they ask for his references, and on the down the line he possibly gets a job interview. along this path, we think more seriously about our chances of having a happy life in the particular location and school.

as you can see its quite a process and its highly volatile. i try not to get my hopes up and envision my life in any one place too vividly. but of course, we do need to think about the possibility of moving and if this place would suit us. its hard to learn to set your brain and your heart in limbo and think through these job postings. for this reason, this is the least talked about subject on this blog. first of all, most of it is actually happening to dave, so its not fully my place to write about. second of all, it requires BIG decisions and thoughts within our own little family before these feelings and facts are able to be digested by friends and family. i realize i share every minute and probably dull detail on here about parenthood and whatnot, but this area feels very private. thus far, this "season" dave has put in a few applications, with thoughts about putting in a few more. we shall see what comes of things.

and lets not forget, hes currently working for a highly regarded (near?-)genius in his field. the guy likes and respects dave and is still excited about guiding dave in his projects. dave is well paid and life is as comfortable as could be hoped for here. we arent going to make any rash decisions just to get ourselves out of here and in to something permanent but dissatisfying. winters are not fun here, travel out of halifax is expensive, and making friends hasnt been easy, but right now these arent big enough reasons to abandon ship and settle down somewhere we arent fully committed to.

so there you have it. the gist of the message (to you, and to myself) is: hang in there, and stay tuned. :)

10 October 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 - round one

our first real canadian thanksgiving feast! and we didnt even have to do the slaving in the hot kitchen. :)

back from our valley trip, we had time to regroup a bit before we headed over to janice and mikes for dinner. tomorrow is canadas thanksgiving but they were making an early feast. they were going to cook the whole sheh-bang even if we werent coming, but it was heavenly to get the invitation to their bountiful table. janice was thoughtful enough to make several things without dairy so X and i could be included (happily) in the meal. plus, coming home from a small excursion in the middle of a holiday weekend meant grocery stores would be packed or closed and we were tired. the idea of not having to cook was very enticing. it meant we had to get back in car, but it was worth it for a thanksgiving meal with friends. :)

we did try to donate one dish to the holiday table, however, the salad went totally bust when dave discovered more than a half dozen snails and slugs were hiding in the lettuce he had rinsed. with no time to get back out to a grocery store, all we had to offer was a fresh jug of valley apple cider. the table was more than packed with food though. janice likes to cook and had worked hard all day. i was able to heap my plate with turkey, corn, broccoli, squash puree, rolls, and a gallon of gravy. that stuff was dairy-free and tasty, and seeing as how gravy is always my favorite condiment (when done right), i poured it on liberally. made my day.

X ate pretty well too, but then she pooped shortly after dinner and was whining in pain about her butt (some of the irritating foods from the weekend must have been in there). of course we didnt bring a spare diaper with us, but thankfully janice lent us one of their cloth diapers (hooray!) and we were able to fix the situation somewhat. it was soon apparent, however, that X just needed to be home to get comfortable, run off the last of her energy, and crash into bed after her long weekend of activity. so we kind of ended up dining and dashing. i guess thats the way things go when kids are involved. but hopefully it meant janice was able to have a relaxing, quiet evening after a whole day of cooking. it was great to see then though, and awesome to have gotten the invite. it sure beats the first canadian thanksgiving we were in town for. :)

09 October 2011

Sweet valley high temperatures

a gorgeous weekend happened to coincide with a little b&b break we had planned during harvest season. yay!

friday night we packed while X slept and made plans to quickly get out of the house in the morning. on saturday we were able to, more or less, accomplish this. unfortunately, i forgot to get the cooler bag full of X-approved food into the car. :( so it goes. we did the hour long drive up to the wolfville area of the valley without any major issue. X self-entertained in the backseat for about half the trip and then i climbed in the back seat and watched a video on daves computer with her. this got us to our destination with very little fuss. hooray!

we pulled in to noggins farms (busy) parking lot and headed toward the fun. we had initially thought we could apple/pumpkin pick AND do the play area stuff in the same visit. ha. the line for the apple picking tractor/hay ride was too long to make that idea happen. so we decided to ditch the apple picking and paid our entrance to the family fun area. there were two corn mazes, a rope maze, a tire mountain for climbing, a sand pit, tunnels, slides, and hay bales to play on, a bouncy rope "spider web", and a water pump station where you pushed ducks down a pipe with your stream of water. in short, a GREAT place for kids!

we started out in the mini corn maze while X was still getting acquainted with the place. she seemed to have a decent time, and then we burst out of the maze at the foot of the tire mountain. like a moth to a flame she was immediately at the bottom tire grasping to go higher and higher. she climbed all the way to the summit unassisted. she didnt want to come down, but lots of big kids were running around and distracting her and making me nervous that she might get bumped and fall down the mountain. we eventually persuaded her to come down.

(waving hello in the corn maze, eating her apple; climbing the tire mountain; made it to the summit!; climbing on hay bales)

and she went right in to the sand pit. she made her rounds to each kid in the pit to stare at them, see what they were doing, offer to help scoop sand in to their truck or pail. she had a great time. it was also a hotbed of parental hovering and insecurities about sharing and being nice. it made my blood pressure rise. this was one of my longest times being around all different kinds of families and seeing how extremely variable parenting styles can be. my eyes and ears were on absorb overload with how differently people talked to and interacted with their kids.

at noggins, there was very little of substance to eat for lunch (sweets and buttered corn basically) so we did the best we could for a "meal" by offering X stuff from our snack bag. and then it was time to load up and drive to our nearby b&b. due to busy roads and construction (in the farmland!?) a 10 minute drive took almost 30 minutes. X was, thankfully, pretty patient with the situation. and when we finally arrived at our b&b X was enamored by the air guns being shot off nearby and the open farmland and the breeze. once we showed her to her room and she looked in every nook and cranny, i was able to convince her to take a nap. and i passed out with her. dave ran over to the nearby port pub (we have eaten there twice before, once just dave and i and one time i went with my mom and al) for some late lunch take out and came home with a tasty burger and some decent chicken cashew curry.

after we recharged and refueled, we explored our b&b. they had just fed the horses a mound of hay for dinner so we took X out to see them. she got a kick out of seeing them so close and without any commotion from other kids or people. one of the horses snorted several times which X thought was awesome and she kept saying "see black horse. see brown horse." when she wanted to go between the separate fenced areas for each horse.

our b&b people were nice: a newfoundland husband and his swiss-german wife along with their two adolescent children. they also had 2 dogs and 4 cats. lots to entertain X! the people also ran a cat hotel. we mentioned our cat and the cat hotel she goes to near us when we go out of town...and our b&b people said they were close friends with them. these kind of "small world" findings happen way more often in nova scotia than in any other place ive been before. anyway, the b&b people gave us some local area suggestions for the evening and we headed out.

we drove to kentville to view their "pumpkin people". apparently the whole town bands together each year to create these pumpkin people scenes. basically scarecrows with pumpkins for heads, they choose various locations throughout town to stage themed scenes. this year the theme was superheroes and villians i guess. i was pretty underwhelmed, but it must be a fun thing to do as a community, and of course, the kids get a kick out of it. we got a few pictures of X among the pumpkin people, before she peeled off for the playground.
(these arent actually the pumpkin people [duh] these are just some cute painted scenes near the pumpkin people)

for dinner, we thought we might attempt a sushi/thai place that at least would give X some rice/noodle/veggie/chicken options. the b&b people spoke of it highly, mentioning that they felt lucky that a decent sushi place was actually so close by. we thought greasy pub food (which was the bulk of the other local offerings) wouldnt be as easy to find X-friendly things, so we took a chance on the sushi. sushi fang turned out to be good. great prices, lots of food, and it tasted like a middle-of-the-road sushi restaurant we might find in SE michigan (which i think is a compliment). the staff was very helpful with X items and we were able to leave feeling full.

back at the b&b, X played with the indoor animals and charmed the owners. i popped out to hit a nearby grocery store for some fresh fruit, so we could have some lying around. dave watched the UM v northwestern game and X played hide and seek in the room. it was a great room: a double bed and a twin bed, a large private bathroom and a private, attached living room. there was a lot of space to lounge.

bedtime came and that went well, but sleep was not so great. perhaps there was some kind of soy sauce in one of my sushi rolls because Xs stomach seemed upset overnight. not horrid, but not happy. thus, i did not get a lot of sleep. in the morning, dave went down to eat hot breakfast and bring me some food up on a tray. (he said while he was down for breakfast, two other guests [strangers to each other] were chatting. both were from newfoundland. they discovered...that they were distantly related. small world once again). i got to eat and shower in peace while dave took X out to greet the horses. its all she talked about when she woke up, and she was happy to see them.

then we packed up and hit the road. on that road, we passed a car dealership that said "we decapitate high prices"...um, okay? then we made a short stop at the noggins farm again to pick up a bag of apples and some nice carving pumpkins because we had neglected to make these important purchases the day before. and then we made the relatively short drive down to windsor to take in their giant pumpkin parade.

we had been to the pumpkin regatta a couple years back with daves parents, and thought the festivities would be up Xs alley this year. plus, the weather was basically summer temperatures so it was a great day to be outside, no matter what the occasion. when we got off at the proper exit for windsor, there was a police car blocking traffic into town. people who wanted to get to the parade from this end of town had to park across the highway and walk over the overpass. only in nova scotia, or only in a small town like this, have i seen such bizarreness. there were no signs in advance warning of these parking curiosities, there were no other people directing the parking, and people seemed fine parking on highway overpasses, in the ditch, or on the shoulder of the highway on or off-ramps (i shit you not). and many of these people were with small children. seems perfectly fine to me to park and open my door right on to a busy highway...? as it was, we parked in a park-n-ride lot and put X in the carrier to walk over the overpass with her. i didnt care for this, but it was the safest option we had.

it was hot in the sun, so we found a good spot on the curb on the shady side of the street and waited. the parade didnt come our way for almost an hour, so X had to get up and walk around and check things out in order not to go crazy. i cant even tell you how many kids we saw on leashes (tons on leashes at noggins farm too). i found it quite disturbing, but i wont go off on that any further.

finally, there was some hope the parade was coming. a decorated motorcycle gang charged down the street and made all kinds of noise. X loved it and asked for more when they had gone. and finally the real parade started. at some point people came by passing out candy for kids. before we could shield her, X had three suckers thrust into her hand. three! we couldnt just rip them from her and say no, so we said "everyone gets a sucker" and she got to eat her red sucker while dave and i ingested green and purple ones. of course she had a gay ol' time eating her sugar circle and dripping sticky slime on us. it was the highlight of the day for her, im sure.

after the fanfare, the crowd dispersed because the actual pumpkin regatta wouldnt start for an hour or so. we needed to get some food and get ready to head back home during nap time. we found the "lucky italiano" restaurant was able to accomodate us with hot paninis to-go. yum. im glad we had something solid in our bellies to be able to make it back home on. then we trekked back to the car, changed a diaper, and X slept her nap in car.

it was a busy but lovely little vacation. not super relaxing, but obviously quite fun for X, especially all the activity on saturday. im glad we were able to enjoy a beautiful fall adventure.

(our weekend route: halifax - noggins farm - b&b - kentville - new minas - windsor - halifax)

10 September 2011

Saturday score

shopping actually brought me joy today!

we woke up to a lovely day outside and the need to get a few errands done. we drove over to dartmouth in order to get several things done in one stop. first we hit up kent (a "home depot" equivalent) for a few odds and ends that would make apartment life easier and more comfortable (better faucet sprayers, hooks for the kitchen, a wrench, light bulbs, etc). while we were there i was reminded how totally awesome home improvement stores are for kids (the showroom displays, tools, fun carts, buckets of little things to pick up and contemplate, brooms to push, etc)! of course she got a little dusty, but X had a blast. i think we are going to find some little projects to do this winter just so we have somewhere moderately fun to go on the weekends and let X burn off steam. we also happened upon some cute animal wall decals and dry erase wall art. fun additions to the apartment for all!

after all the home improvements fun, we crossed the parking lot to the store called "tag". their kids clothes are different and fun and brightly colored. i found two cute striped shirts for $7 each and some funky, bright socks. and then it was lunch time, so said the grumpy toddler. we drove back in to halifax and picked up some lunch. on our way home we spotted a yard sale going on at the YMCA. we saw an easel/chalkboard! dave took X home in the stroller while i bought and carted the easel ($5!) to the car. it had been on our list of things we were wanting to get for her, so i was glad to find it cheap. i cleaned it up at home while she ate lunch and for the rest of the afternoon she was asking for chalk and to "draw, draw, draw."

nap time finally hit and dave went out to get fixings for grill pan pizza. our yummy pre-football game dinner. as game time neared i took over X duties while papa watched the game on his computer. he was lucky to be able to catch the first night game at the Big House and see a cloooooooose game won by his beloved wolverines (indeed, they are my beloved wolverines too, but i havent been able to watch them on tv in years, so ive been a little detached lately. unfortunately.).

04 September 2011

No laboring this weekend

perfect timing to spend a weekend relaxing in nature with friends.

baby friends emily and craig (son: rowan) invited us to their cottage for the weekend. yes please! i was excited but didnt have much time to devote to thinking about it beforehand. the week preceding the weekend was filled with sleepless nights and babysitting/work adjustment (i bumped up to 50% at work on sept 1). in fact, the friday before we left was a colossally crappy day for me (thus packing and detailed planning didnt get done). i really needed a vacation. enter, saturday...

woke up on saturday and lit a fire under our butts, hoping that the day would fall in line with our wants. we turbo packed the car, grabbed burritos on the way out of town, and drove up to the shubenacadie wildlife park. the park was 40 minutes away, and our hope was to break up Xs  drive with something fun (and tiring) so that she wouldnt be too grumpy about a long-ish car ride. it worked!

we had been to the wildlife park once before, in the winter. it was nice to go then, but it was lovely to go this time. X LOVED the birds (geese, ducks, swans, peacocks). we even let her feed the ducks, she didnt even cry when one nipped her finger. we also got to see foxes, porcupines, otters, and a bear (he was awake and sitting right next to the fence!). a train went past the park while we were there and blew its horn (which X loved) and the wolves started howling to the tune of the train whistle. i was thoroughly amused. the park was a great place to spend an hour-ish. the weather the great and it wore X out...somewhat. she still had energy left to chase the poor peacock around the parking lot.

(X and the swans; cute and active porcupines)

but, after a diaper change we loaded her in the car for a nap. she cried about it for 10 minutes and finally fell asleep. 45 minutes later we pulled in to the drive of our friends cabin (near durham). i felt all my stress melt away at the mailbox. their property was gorgeous: expansive, riverfront, wooded yet open. simple, quiet, peaceful. this was relaxation. they had a main cottage, a bunkhouse, and a shed. the screened-in porch, fire pit, and hammock all screamed my name. they had a nice little rocky beach on a brackish river that only had a few other houses in sight. X was in heaven. catching toads, throwing stuff in the water, climbing on the tree stump, playing in the hammock, and hanging out with a dog friend and new people (and new toys). for the most part, she avoided/ignored little rowan which seemed just fine with him. it will be interesting to see the age when kids actually start playing together.

after dabbling in all the activities the property had to offer, X settled on becoming obsessed with the hammock. she very quickly got comfortable in it and learned the word "hammock." then she wanted to swing in it all night long. she also got her first experience with a bonfire, and dave roasted her a couple marshmellows (that she shared with me). she wasnt greedy about them, but of course she did seem to enjoy them. she went to sleep at 9p (early night!) while being rocked in the hammock to the sounds of nature.

(emily [yup shes preggo with #2!] and rowan in the river; X and her beloved hammock!)

the hammock did wonders for me as well. i felt like me again. the peaceful, no expectations, no plans, no stress atmosphere was completely entoxicating and contagious. my brain really needed this type of getaway after the week of terrible sleep and stress i had had. things were very, very pleasant. X even slept fine by herself in the bunkhouse for a while so we were able to chat, adults only, around the fire for a while. it was really nice.

we slowly woke up in the morning (X promptly asked for more hammock) and chomped into some bacon and eggs and toast. then we suited up for a short family canoe ride. X liked the water but hated the life jacket. hopefully she'll be happier about it as she gets older. we hung out by the shore after the boat ride, throwing rocks, and then we headed up for lunch. easy sandwiches and babies playing. is was lovely. after rowan went down for a nap, we had our last chat and relaxation session with craig and emily. a bonus of being with them was that we got to have "totally honest about parenting" discussions. another great way to keep the weekend stress-free.

(X and rowan on the "beach"; X in her life jacket, ready for the boat; throwing rocks; bringing styx to the river...)

needless to say, we were a little sad to have to leave the cottage environment and head back to the city. but we are totally inspired to rent a cottage next summer, should we find ourselves still here. cottage life is the first MAJOR incentive i see to life in nova scotia. very different from the "up north" experience in michigan. most people take cottages within an hour of their house here (preferably 30 or so minutes away...can you imagine?). the land is cheap and spacious and you unplug and unwind without hardly a soul around you. its part of "the canadian dream" i suppose. and i can get on board with that.

anyway, the time came to leave so we loaded X up for her nap and drove back. she napped pretty much the whole ride and was very good. we stopped at an italian market in halifax to get some pizza dough and toppings for dinner and ended our night quite well with an easy, tasty meal. a great weekend. a very great way to wave goodbye to summer.

01 September 2011

Down the osteo-path

visited an osteopath today.

the appointment was for X, with the goal of easing her tummy troubles (and in the process, her sleep issues). i had heard (way back during the newborn stage) that osteopaths can REALLY help with colicy babies. but, we figured out her dairy thing early enough that i figured we wouldnt benefit further from osteopathy. plus, X never had the typical colic behaviors.

anyway, during my birthday massage the therapist suggested an osteopath (again) for X (yeah, i chat through my massages, i cant help myself). i decided to find a local practice and make an appointment. the sleep deprivation was becoming too much for me (she had recently even ramped up to 4-6 wakings per night!) and i was tired of being a food detective. you may be wondering at this point about that naturopath (and resulting probiotic treatment) we saw. it seemed to take the night wakings and tummy troubles down a notch but things were still not at a desirable level. plus, i didnt feel i really connected with the naturopath and so i wasnt really interested in going back to her.

so, today was the osteopath appointment. we saw a nice guy who had studied in england and has a daughter close in age to X. after X warmed up to him, he was able to work on her. he said her diapragm was quite tense/tight, the left side of her digestive tract was tight/twisted, and the tissue on/near the skull plates near the vagas nerve were very tight. she didnt seem bothered by him when he worked on her tummy/back, although she was irritated that a stranger was touching her. but when he found the trouble spot on her head...she writhed and squealed. this might sound like a horrible thing that i should have stepped in to stop, but the kind of touch these docs provide is very, very mild, much less pressure than a massage even. he said this reaction was a very classic response you see in colicy babies. anyway, he sang her a song (just a regular kids song, not some mystical hippie chant or anything) and she started staring at him, by the end of the song she had a look on her face of release, and awe. i was impressed. at the end of the session, he said that she had classic colic issues (even though she was now well out of the age of the "traditional" colic period) and osteopathy should be able to take her issues way down. even in just a few treatments.

we shall see how things pan out in the next few days/weeks/sessions but for now i am much more "sold" and confident in this treatment pathway than the naturopath. the practioners confidence and skill was more palpable too. if anyone wants more info about my experience with the osteopath, they can always ask.

16 August 2011

Me so 30

im 30 today.

this age never scared me. i think its because i was never interested in taking advantage of all that your 20s are supposed to offer: frequent partying, a sexy youthful body (my sexy body never arrived in the mail), a carefree and/or self-centered lifestyle, being indecisive. i know lots of people need to get that kind of stuff out of their system in order to be a happy, functional older adult, but i think ive been hovering around 30 since i hit puberty. i guess this means i was pretty square for much of my life, but it also means i am very comfortable with myself now, and with my age.

anywho, X let us sleep in on my birthday. win! as we got up and made our normal morning movements around the house and kitchen, i decided to take Xs diaper off and interest her in her potty in the bathroom. she semi-obliged and peed and pooped on the floor right next to the potty. i counted this in the win column because she specifically came in to the bathroom to go on the floor. at least she is able to listen to her body and hold it until she gets to where she wants to go. and we got to wave bye bye to the poop as it went down the toilet.

(diaperless X giving me birthday smiles)

after these lovely X "gifts", we set off toward my birthday lunch. eating at a restaurant while being non-dairy has been no fun, so i chose a burger place we'd been wanting to try, thinking at least i could get a quality hamburger and hope to enjoy it without cheese. i pretty much got what i was looking for.

i walked X in the stroller over to CUT grill down on the waterfront. on our way we saw lots of fun action: a horse drawn tourist "carriage" and construction equipment at work (the excavator-mounted jackhammer was a major win for us on our "see it in action" construction score card). then, the restaurant gave us a seat outside that was directly in front of a manhole that was being serviced. this would have pissed me off in my pre-kid days, but we were able to position Xs high chair so that she had a perfect, close-up view of the crane lowering and raising a hook that was winding cables up out of the sewer. best free entertainment shes ever had, and it made for a calm lunch. aside from all the "up, up, up" talk and squeals of delight.

and lunch itself? was okay. it was really nice just to be eating outside (food that we didnt cook), on a nice day, with both dave and X. i ordered the kobe beef burger with no cheese. i forgot to get bacon and/or sauteed mushrooms, which probably would have upped the "oompf" but it did come with three dips (homemade ketchup, mustard, and truffle mayo...i was partial to the mayo). the burger tasted like it was glazed with something that made it sweet-ish. which to me made the burger less than manly, and i was kinda looking for a good, basic juicy patty on a bun. thus, in the end, it wasnt worth the high price tag for me.

thankfully, the second meal we ordered wasnt a burger. we also ordered an asian lunch tray. in bento box style portions we had thai chicken and glass noodles, fried vegetable dumplings, pita crisps and veggie dip. this meal was also ho-hum, but at least we got a variety of flavors and X seemed to enjoy tasting some new things. im glad we went for lunch and didnt pay the dinner prices but we had a nice experience all the same.

the rest of the day proceeded like any other, which was fine with me. i have future appointments for a massage and mani/pedi to look forward to, and i have a new hat and new purse to give my sad wardrobe a pseudo punch. im ready for my 30s. :)

(all of us at CUT)

05 August 2011

Friday night fun

daves france boss and his wife were in town and we had them over for a proper dinner. our first dinner guests!

so, daves france boss (jean) and his wife (myriam) did their phds here in halifax. daves halifax advisor was jeans phd advisor. anyway, they were in town to work and visit with old friends. one of their free nights we invited them over to attempt to reciprocate all their hospitality while we stayed with them in rennes.

this was our first time having dinner guests in the new place, and our first time in halifax that we entertained guests at an actual dinner table. we are really going places! dave made pulled chicken tacos and we had a nice time. they enjoy playing with X and are very friendly, social people.

after food, we all wanted to walk off the lead weights in our bellies, so we headed toward downtown. we found ourselves staring into the glass windowfront of a new dessert bar on barrington street. a little too chic for us casual folk with a baby, but its where im headed when we first get a date night!

from the dessert place we made a turn toward the waterfront. it is buskers festival, and we wanted to see what was performing. we walked down the hill to a packed crowd watching some really skilled firedancers. dave plopped X on his shoulders and she was mesmerized for 20 minutes. they were really talented and knew how to work a crowd.

hooray for a nice little friday night!

01 August 2011

Travel reflections #2 (MI)

*the full picasa album of our MI trip*

so, as with the europe trip, i have a few travel reflections to note:

the good: X sponged up every minute with everyone including all the kids she encountered. she thrived on all the new stuff, learned new things and had a blast! such a change from past visits.

we learned new things too: what we need to do for our next trip (definitely nice having the rental car) and how to schedule ourselves. we actually put the stuff we learn from past experiences into play and it does make future travel easier.

the bad: michigan no longer feels like home. i suppose it happens to everyone who has lived away from their childhood location long enough. michigan still has things that are familiar and comforting, but i no longer feel like im home when we are there. its scary, but true. we nomadically visit friendly faces and we have our old stomping grounds, but they are all changing over time as life goes on in MI without us. its understandable and inevitable, but it makes me feel like im more of a stranger in the world than before.

the ugly: the visit also showed me the ugly side of having this blog. i started it to serve two purposes:

1. to record our adventures. life away from MI was going to be the biggest thing that happened to me yet, so i knew i wanted to have a record of it, for myself, dave, and future offspring.

2. to let friends and family know what we are up to. i had a fear that i would have to write long, ridiculous emails to people whenever they asked the "so, hows life in _____?" question.

the blog has served me well in these two areas. perhaps too well in area #2 though. on this trip especially, i felt like i no longer had anything to share with people. anyone who reads the blog already knows everything that is going on with us. this is great in some sense (they are "caught up to speed") but in another, it robs me of the benefits of getting feedback and being able to vent. if i vent in one spot, its just lame and useless to vent again to the same people about the same thing. its totally my own double edged sword, but it kinda bummed me out.