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)