29 October 2012

Fish otta wa-ter

to ottawa for our finnish embassy appointment.

funny story, we thought we could take care of our finnish residence cards in town since halifax has an "honorary consulate of finland"...a nice, convenient way to start ourselves off in the government paperwork/moving jungle. right? heres the part where i laugh manically like a mental patient. convenience was not to be the case here, though im trying not to let it set the tone for this whole huge move. three months before our move-to-finland date we contacted said honorary consulate and were informed of the bad news. we had to go to an actual embassy because we needed to be fingerprinted. this could occur in ottawa, new york, or dc. since flights to the u.s. from halifax are the price of a kidney, we were SO grateful that ottawa was even a choice for us. we took it. and lucky we did (frankenstorm anyone?). we still had to book last minute flights for three, and two nights in a downtown hotel to make it happen, on top of paying the price of the residence permits (you dont even wanna know what they cost). but i digress.

our appointment was on a monday afternoon so we flew in saturday night to get settled and benefit from the slightly cheaper flight prices. our hotel was a modified apartment suite with full kitchen so we could have some comforts of home. dave and i had been to ottawa twice before: roadtripping in the summer of 2003 and on the way to ski at mt tremblant in the winter of 2004. i like ottawa, its a very subdued, friendly capital. seems like a parallel universe compared to dc. anyway, we were staying in an area south of where we had been both previous times, so i was looking forward to seeing a new part of the city and to exploring it in its fall color glory. the city did not disappoint.

our relatively short flight was kind of a challenge. doing travel over dinner and bed time seemed a bit too much for X (normally we have try to just do one or the other). it took a lot of concentrated effort on everyones part to remain calm, but there were no shit fits on the plane so that was good. we chose to bus it from the airport to town, so when we finally arrived and got X down...we were STARVING. dave acquired some indian take out for us and we gorged on that and tried to get some sleep (i say tried, because i never get sleep when i share the bed with X the wiggle worm).

-did breakfast in our apartment room. lovely. then X and dave swam at the hotel pool. i hadnt had the pleasure of seeing her swimming enthusiasm in a while. she LOVES it. the smiles and excitement coming off of her were a sight to behold. she was jumping off the edge to dave over and over and over. eventually we had to tell her pool time was over, or else im sure she would still be there today. back in the room when her swimming high wore off, she was a total tv vegetable. since we dont have tv at home, we all tend to flock to it for the novelty that it is for the first day or so. then we are all kinda done with it.


-walked to a nearby grocery store for lunch items. just a handful of blocks south of parliament hill, we were in the downtown residential area of ottawa. regular, happy people were out doing their weekend things. the beautiful streets were lined with nice brick buildings, iron gates/fences, and bright fall leaves.

-after lunch back at the hotel, there was no sign of a nap coming on soon, so we decided to go to the canadian museum of nature before it got too close to closing time. what a lovely museum. it was large (5 floors) with spacious rooms, interesting touchable exhibits, and kid-specific areas in each section...really well thought out with nice details. X was a bit manic because of the lack of nap so she went kinda fast through most areas, but she did find things to stop and take interest in. she especially loved the kid-section of the bird room, it was a pretend vet clinic for birds. so cute. and then we spent the rest of the time in the lowest level...the live bug room. to cap off the visit, i bought her a plain rock candy from the gift shop (she was allowed two bites). and she finally conked out on the walk home.

(moose tiles in entryway; bird clinic)

-for dinner we grabbed some sri lankan take out while X had odds n ends from the grocery store. 
-before bed, we found ourselves again going down to the pool. X jumped and jumped and tried to paddle and swim on her own, until again, we had to tell her it was time to go. good activity for wearing her out before bed though!

-X woke up and the first thing she asked about was going swimming. lol. she went 30 minutes straight just jumping in. she wasnt even bothered when her jumps landed her in over her head (literally). and she doesnt freak out or get detered from trying again.
-after swimming and bathing and eating lunch in the room. we checked out and headed to our most important task:
-our embassy appointment at 1:30p. other than their office feeling like a sauna, it went well. oh, and their computer system wasnt liking me or something...i had to submit my fingerprints three times. the lady was nice though. she confirmed, like all other finns ive spoken to, that october and november are suicidally depressing (suicidal being my word). im so SO glad we didnt chose to arrive in august and plunge into their crummy late fall. january may be brutal for a short while, but then we will start climbing out of that hole.
-after our appointment ended (at 3:15p!), we were in constant motion toward the airport. we got back to the hotel to collect our luggage. we walked to the bustling bus station at the u of ottawa, did the 30 minute bus ride, and finally arrived at the airport. once through security, we realized we didnt have Xs dinner with us (we packed it in our checked bag. smart). i had to locate an alternate in the airport. not easy. i acquired: special K cereal, apple juice, and a banana. thankfully i always bring other snacks too. ugh. but, we were glad our flight got off at all as all flights to dc and nyc were canceled due to hurricane sandy. we were SO lucky we didnt have to go to the embassys of finland in the u.s. for this appt. we landed and had some fog, rain, and wind to contend with but we were finally home. and i was exhausted. X was a bit hard to wrangle again (due to only a short nap on the bus). also, my stomach really hurt. i was glad to be home.

*link to full album of pics from the trip
**i realize the blog title has the negative meaning of being in a situation that you are ill-suited to, so this doesnt really apply to X in ottawa, but the fish and water and using the name ottawa to link those two...it was cute alright. go with me.
***i originally was going to feature frankenstorm in relation to this trip because i was thinking our big move was going to feel like a hurricane (this was even before sandy had formed off shore). i kept thinking "this is the calm before the storm" and that this trip was going to be like experiencing the first outer bands of the storm coming in with other levels of chaos to come as the 'real storm'. but this analogy falls a little flat since actual lives were lost in hurricane sandy and many people are dealing with far more challenging things than we will during this move. so, i will knock those dramatics off and simply wish the hurricane survivors the best and i hope they can find peace enough to enjoy the holiday season.

25 October 2012

X files - 2.5 Years Old - Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you dont

had some big successes this month (during which we felt totally awesome) and some days where we felt totally bat shit crazy. i think ive given up on the pendulum ever stopping swinging. but i have noticed ive been able to tell myself during the bat shit times "hey, just get through this moment, assess what you can change to make things more smooth in the immediate future, and move on without looking back" and i can at least keep moving without feeling like "alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day". and during the wonderful times, ive been trying to remind myself to just enjoy the little slice of nice.

obsessions: eating like a dog (no hands), identifying old v new asphalt/cement, having her cars (aka us) talk to her during ALL daily activities, putting all kinds of things (not food) in her mouth (driving me ABSOLUTELY insane)
good books: wild child, the tomten, im tickled pink, super grandpa, melvin might?, emily and daisy, princess sylvie, children of the forest, dexter bexley and the big blue beastie, down the road, hilda must be dancing, horace and morris but mostly dolores, one witch, do you know pippi longstocking?, dandelion, planes, trick or treat on monster street, zoozical

(the rare daytime nap in bed; driving cars on the sidewalk; running around the playground)
(upside down; serious about carrying her chalk around to make an impromptu road for her cars; off-roading cars at the park)

(downward dog; silly faces with papa; balance bike action)

X-citing developments:
1. dentist. she sat on daves lap during his dentist appointment and watched all aspects of his cleaning. afterward, the dental hygienist looked at Xs mouth and teeth and said everything looked great. hooray! she seemed to like the dentists office and was very curious about everything, so that was good.

2. wonder week/dayz. im just going to keep calling them wonder weeks because these brief time periods of strife always make me wonder if ive lost my sanity. they make me wonder if an alien has invaded my kids body. they make me wonder if i could possibly be the worst parent in the world. and then, just like that, it makes me wonder if it was all a bad dream. it makes me wonder if i truly have lost my mind. damn i hate those days. we had more than our fair share this period.

3. sleep. so i mentioned having short naps again and a nap routine last time. ha. gone. she will agree, most days, to a nap at around 3p or 4p (for between 15-30 minutes, depending on how crappy she slept at night). but, they usually require a stroller or car ride. thankfully it doesnt seem to affect her bedtime or her ability to get to sleep by herself. i dont know if the change is day care related or if she is trying to have a growth spurt or fight off germs or all of the above.

also, for bedtime, i switched from talking about all the things we did that day to telling her something(s) i was impressed by or appreciated about her behavior that day, and something that she (and/or i) need to work on (based on what happened that day). then i give her a hug and kiss and say a few things and step out of the room, slowly close the door, stay nearby for a few minutes. and she is asleep! all by herself. freedom!

4. physical. she has been working on:
- balancing on one leg
- jumping really high
- balance bike skills. hooray! only 6 months belatedly using of her birthday gift.
- yoga poses she can do: downward dog, cobra, bridge, cat, cow. i noticed her doing these one day and wonder if they are doing them in day care or if i have done them in front of her at some point and she remembered.

5. personality. she:
- likes riding in or pulling luggage around the house
- likes to sit and watch the activities of a street. the cars/buses/trucks/people/dogs/etc and the sounds and things going on.
- took greater interest in building with blocks these past two months
- appears to have acquired the genetic trait of whacking people when excited about something. my mom does it, i do it, X does it. even though i dont have anyone that i whack around here, she still somehow acquired this trait. bizarre.
- immediately crunches hard candy. just like me. no patience.

6. language/learning.
- she is starting to ask "why" all the time. lovely!
- by car/bike/stroller/walking, she can often tell you which street we are on without an adult mentioning it. and, if we are within a decent radius of home she can tell you which street(s) you need to turn on to get home, and she can give alternate routes too. sometimes we take her on a whole new route and she can still recognize familiar streets even if we enter them in novel ways.
- she has taken to saying "shit" (it sound like "sit") when she is frustrated. we ignore it. she also says crap as in "um, theres a pile of crap over here". these two words really arent offensive to me and she uses them correctly, and since we dont react to them they arent over used. im not sure what place they will have in her future vocabulary or how much i will curb them.
- we have had to work on conversation interrupting with her. she likes to be heard and included, all the time. she will scream or yell or repeat loudly what we say if she wants to talk. we are working on changing this!
- she is learning to distinguish left from right.
- in a stack of pancakes, for example, she ignores the one on top in search of the biggest one. lol.

- she conveys complex actions: while on a walk one night she said, "when i get up to queen st, i will give each of you a hug".
- she has been telling us stories lately: "when i was a little kid i planted some seeds, but i wasnt careful and i fell off a cliff. i had to get stitches. the boo boo went away but i still have a scar", "jack the blue horse went in to the woods with the blue princess...", "when i was a little kid some robbers came to steal my highchair, but i took it back...'im a strong girl like you, pippi longstocking' (sometimes she tells these stories to imaginary characters in the room)"
- dave was telling her at dinner that people in finland like to wear light blue clothes. he went on to say that women in france wear black clothes and black sunglasses. without missing a beat (and coming out of nowhere) X said, "just like sara. is sara from there?" (sara is her babysitter). its crazy to me that she heard this information about france for the first time, scanned her memory and knew that sara wears a lot of black and has black sunglasses and then tried to put the two together.
- when sara was getting ready to leave one day, X said "im not going to let you go" and then she put her feet on top of saras feet and said "now you cant go".

7. self-care.
- she can put her shoes on
- she is learning to put her shirts on (and take them off) and pull her pants down and up. socks also seem a passing interest.

momma mentionables:
1. daycare. it took her about 1.5 months to be okay getting dropped off at daycare (and by okay i mean only whimpering or making a sad face). she really showed us she has a hard time with change. there was lots of screaming/wailing before i would leave. after a while, the goodbye at daycare really was too lengthy (i would try to read a book with her before leaving) and resulted in too much crying (including sobbing "im going to cry all day"). so, we switched tacks and have a short but heartfelt goodbye and all has been much better. she is so content whenever i come to pick her up, it makes me feel so right about it.

at first, she had the hardest time with the very gregarious, loud, fast-moving, little boy there and was aggressive toward the littler kids in the first weeks...but with patient, gentle guidance from the daycare woman, that has stopped. now that she is comfortable with each childs personality and behavioral tendencies i can see that she is much happier knowing what to expect in her environment.

2. reclaim. with daycare i think i found a way to happily achieve more balance. i can work during the day much more easily now and have my after-dinners and nights free. i feel like i can reclaim more of myself for me now. im carving out time to exercise (a little), to modify our eating habits, to just relax watching videos/reading. im actually feeling a sense of laze-about boredom on some evenings. im sure if i had more friends or family around i would be able to fill my time out more fully than i do now, but it is what it is. if we werent about to move, id be inclined to take a night class or join a book club. but that just seems futile right now. so, i'll busy myself with ticking things off our to-do list and enjoying some quiet time to myself. harried times are right around the corner.

3. clothes. im feeling SO, so antsy to get back to my full wardrobe in michigan storage. ive traveled with this small collection of clothes (one and a half drawers and a dozen-ish hangers in the closet) for far too long (4 years!). i want to wear other things for a while. im also feeling a need to slightly redirect my style to include more stylish activewear and less sweatpant/fleece type things. i have totally played into the mom stereotype of not wearing nice clothes anymore. to be honest, extreme casual was my style before, but never this sloppy. i need to add leggings (dear god) and more yoga pant-type things so that i can actually look like i have a body, which will, in turn make me feel like a have a body. i dont need to tent myself in pajamas all day, but im really digging moveable, comfortable clothes instead of stiff, tighter corduroys which currently take up a bulk of my dresser space. so, part of this upcoming move will be SO greatly appreciated because i can rejuvenate my "style". ha. looking forward to it.

4. no smug. ive been feeling for a while like i should declare how totally clueless and inept i feel most moments of my life, as a parent and otherwise. on occasion it comes to my attention that things i write here may come across as know-it-all-y or smug. it would be foolish on both our parts to interpret things like that, cuz i dont know shit. as if i didnt know that before, lately ive had the overwhelming sense that that is even more true now than before. i think there are quotes about how knowing that you dont know things indicates wisdom. i like that idea, but i in no way mean to backhand compliment myself. no, i just feel clueless. in the parenting realm, at least, im feeling a sense that this cluelessness has actually finally allowed my head and my heart to fully agree that parents really are just doing their best...for themselves and for their kids, and that there is, indeed, more than one way to skin a cat (ive loved that phrase since high school anatomy class). my heart really believed it before, but my head would cloud over and numb out the true weight of that sentiment. anyway, im interested to see what i can learn from wallowing in this sea of not-knowing-ness. may i become prune-y with wisdom. ha.

5. blood type diet. we are dabbling in this since dave saw mention of it on his beloved mgoblog. its not a diet in the sense that you do it to lose 5 pounds. its more like a way of eating and living healthy thats most compatible with your blood type. at first it sounded horoscope-y to me. but theres actually a lot behind it and the suggestions in the "live right for your type" book just make sense to me and my body. as i was reading it was i like "interesting, ive always felt like stress affected me in that way" or "indeed, that kind of exercise has always made me feel worse instead of better". the food suggestions have also been interesting, though they are so numerous that we recognize we cant just switch over in a week. we made a little list to post on our wall of things to try to increase and decrease in our daily food choices, and it will evolve from there. one day we may find ourselves fully following the "diet" but for now its more of a sign post. i have type A blood and there do seem to be things that really are "type A" (this line of thinking/research is where that organizationally anal label came from), and dave is type O and there really are things that make sense about him in that.

21 October 2012

Moss 'n mushrooms

had a lovely fall walk in the woods today.

to combat the sinister boredom that has enveloped our weekends of late (the terrifying calm before the storm i say), we decided to get back to long lake and take a walk to enjoy the fall colors. the weather was 60+ degrees (no jackets!) and not raining (a weekend staple recently). we were basically all alone in the bright colored woods following the beautiful path riddled with moss-covered rocks and tree roots and tons of mushrooms along the way. breathing in the pine tree and wet leaves scent was intoxicating. im glad we got out.

(she opted to climb over the fallen tree rather than go under; examining the tree felled by a beaver)

09 October 2012

Thanks for all you gave us canada

canadas thanksgiving day. we salute you!

since it will be crunch time for us around american thanksgiving, we did canadian thanksgiving this year instead. 14 lb turkey, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing. X was very patient with us as we hung around the house all day and danced around the kitchen. i contributed the sweet potato casserole and acted as repeated clean-up crew. dave did the rest. we managed not to piss each other off in the kitchen, despite the minuscule amount of countertop. i thought that was a big win.

and the major bonus for preparing such a huge meal for 3 people was that X seems to be in the middle of a growth spurt. she woke up almost an hour early asking for a snack. then we had a hearty breakfast, then she wanted a snack before lunch, then she ate a big late lunch, snacks in the afternoon, and then ate an adult size helping of thanksgiving dinner. light meat, dark meat, with and without gravy, stuffing and sweet potato casserole. i also made warm apple cider and she guzzled that and milk. i think next time people see her she will be the size of a kindergartener.

lastly, i'll take this opportunity to thank canada for being our home for the last 3+ years. you served as our stepping stone from our student selves into our adult/family selves and we thank you for being so hospitable. also, we thank you for being a lovely, beautiful, and safe place to introduce our daughter to the world. thanks for all the memories.

(a little pre-meal boulder climbing at point pleasant park; cliff climbing; victorious!)
(marshmallowing the sweet potato casserole; watching papa carve the turkey)

01 October 2012

Third quarter 2012 - Reading and watching

read mostly fluff this month. some fun ones though.

- "fifty shades" trilogy. not gonna lie, i read it. ugh. it had its moments, but was by-in-large infuriating. thats why i didnt mention it here before because i gave it, on average, 1.5 stars. BUT, i recently saw this awesome book review of it and lost my shit laughing. it is so spot on.

- "the elephant vanishes". 3.5/5. while short story fiction is usually not my thing, i started this one because my (japanese) boss had really talked this author up...and id heard of him before. a world-renowned japanese writer (supposedly) on track for a nobel prize. anyway, this collection of short stories was interesting. his writing is very different: intelligent but not too complex (at least on some level), and usually presenting a character living in a very odd fractured reality...but the painted reality seems very possible and matter-of-fact. the main character is usually someone who isnt connecting to their current lifestyle/culture/world and feels repressed in some way or misunderstood. i can relate to the lonely characters/stories, and also their sense of not connecting with their current surrounding is a feeling that answers why i am interested in travel. i particularly liked these stories: "the second bakery attack", "on seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful april morning", "sleep", "barn burning", "the dancing dwarf", and "the silence".

-"the finnish line". 4/5. a young adult book i found when i typed in "finnish" to our librarys search engine. really adorable actually. an american girl does a semester abroad in lahti, finland to train for ski jumping. she of course learns a lot about finland, life, and...love. a ton of real finnish heritage and history is packed, interestingly, into the teen plot and actually works. finnish phrases are sprinkled throughout and finnish culture and life really are imparted...at least from what ive read and heard of finland elsewhere, so far. of course, in terms of real life experience, i cant say, but the book would be a useful read for anyone curious about finland and wanting a little light romance to read around the edges.

- "neither here nor there: travels in europe". 4/5. comedy travel writing about europe. the guy is american, living in england, and decided to go on a north-south european trip to retrace his steps through europe 20 years before. the only hitch is that the book was written in the 1990s, so some elements of what he writes about arent accurate anymore, but its still funny and he did travel to plenty of non-mainstream cities that were of interest to me. it was also frightful to see what traveling before the age of international credit card usage, the euro, and the internet (thus, online travel bookings) was like. man, the life of the traveler now is a pampered one. i liked his writing style too, reminded me of my blog writing style, before X.

- "juliet". 3.5/5. shakespeare meets da vinci code. fun diversion. intriguing adventure that unravels a bit at the end but it was quite enough to keep me reading. thanks again to amy for the suggestion. :)

- "interpreter of maladies". 4/5. im really not a fan of short stories. with this and "the elephant vanishes" (see above) i think ive reconfirmed that to myself. i still love sinking my teeth into a full story and having a lengthy period of time with the characters. but, these stories, each focusing on indian-americans looking for love or human connection, were really lovely. they were realistic and loveable in their imperfections. they were all seeking connection in a land that was not their own (being immigrants from india), and i think thats was caught me and won me over.

- "the help". 4/5. it was as good as i was hoping. i thought all the performances were strong but im afraid to say im a little confused about how octavia spencer won. i thought she did a great job but i was always waiting for a defining scene. i thought viola williams did great though, i could actually feel the wall of restraint her character used to steady herself with every insult hurdled at her. overall though, i felt that in a stand-out ensemble of performances, no one really shone. i was very affected by the racist character bryce dallas howard played, however, i dont think anyone really wants to award an oscar to a performance like that. its a shame that the movie itself didnt win more awards. anyway, im glad i finally saw it.

- "anonymous". 4/5. very well-done "what if" story about shakespeare and the possibility that he was a hoax. the movie puts forth an idea that shakespeare was just the front man for an earl tangled in a powerful web from which he couldnt escape. the earls freedom is his plays/poetry, but the only way he can get them out to the world is to have them offered up as being authored by someone else. the story is very believable and well acted and rooted in well-woven history. the challenge was the first 30 minutes because they were laying out the character conflicts and flashing back a bit to a previous time (maybe 30 years earlier) and so you had to match up the present character with his past character and it took a little concentration.

-"in the loop". 4/5. british political satire about declaring war in iraq. what a terribly dull description of a hilarious platform for the brits to do what they do best: weave dry wit and cursing throughout a well-laid out plot of interesting characters. the testy brits made me laugh out loud and the american political machines were also well-oiled for comedy. this is about 5 years old but i randomly saw it on some list of great comedies and gave it a try. definitely not disappointed.

- "50/50". 4/5. well, its a movie about cancer, so its got tears. but also lovely human relationships. and gee do i love joseph gordon-levitt. he and ryan gosling are my favorite younger actors. so amazing. and seth rogan was adorable. he was the perfect kind of buddy. im still questioning his golden globe nomination but i did think he nailed his role, so i guess thats as good a reason as any.

- "hesher". 4.5/5. more joseph gordon-levitt awesomeness. this one is an indie film, so its definitely unique. set in the 80s (i think) and filled will familiar faces, its kinda hard to define. basically several troubled people share some chaotic time together and theyre all positively influenced because of it. hesher is played by joseph gordon-levitt and he is a misfit criminal with a foul mouth who you actually cant help but love by the end. and if youve ever wanted to see a eulogy that makes a metaphor of losing a loved one out of the accidental loss of a testicle...and have it actually be pulled off, this ones for you.