Today the kids had their swimming lessons, at the pool of a downtown hotel (the community center where they usually hold lessons is being renovated). Afterwards, we go to the mall/shopping in the same complex*, so they can watch the fountain (very nice, keeps changing patterns and lights). There's an escalator up to the mezzanine level, and they wanted to ride it. Up then down. Twenty or thirty times. Or so. They were a little scared, but went up holding my hand. Finally, Hedgefund decided she could do it without holding my hand.
Outwardly: "I'm so proud of you."
Inwardly: "Wahhhhh. My baby's growing up and doesn't need me anymore."
I think she may have caught on to my feelings, because a little bit later she started crying.
Me: "What's wrong?"
HF: "Even when I'm grown up, I want to still live in the same house."
Outwards: "I love you honey. I promise, we'll live together forever."
Inwardly: "Yeah, gonna replay this conversation when you're 18 and want to move out."
*Part of the "underground city," a term sounds more interesting than it actually is.
Very common downtown Montreal to have a tower complex connected to the Metro, but with underground parking, a food court, a level or two of shopping, then either offices and/or residential (and this case a hotel). Basically a self-contained mini-city, connected via Metro - and underground passageways - to other such. Right in the downtown core, every Metro stop has one or more such complex on top, with the passageways connecting a dozen or more into an underground loop, which in aggregate is "the underground city."
Nom took the kids out shopping. It was a zoo, but they like it. I did some reading, some studying, some cleaning, but somehow not very much of either. So in the spirit of finally digging in and doing work… I'm posting this.
We've been in this house for a year-and-a-half. The vast majority of organizing and putting away got done fairly promptly, the small percent that remains will likely take another 10 years. Mostly not really that important, but my tidy (eg neurotically organized) mind likes things neatly put away. I am working on organizing all the toys, etc in the basement play (which previously looked like a cross between an explosion at a toy factory and a refugee camp), putting different things in different boxes (eg “Legos all go in the box marked ‘Legos’ when you are finished playing with them.”) They get the concept of “tidy up” at school (eg daycare), and I’m slowly working on extending the concept to home. Key word is "slowly."
If they are motivated, they do help clean up. Some weeks back, they got into it, because it was Hedgefund’s birthday party. Her actual Bday was during the week, but more-or-less got the concept of “we’re having the party on a weekend, b/c that’s when people can come.” (And liked the idea of cake on two days: at the party, and her actual Bday.) Miss Manners somewhere said the that number of invitees should be equal to the child’s age in years, which more-or-less happened. This was the first year she wanted to have her friends or for her Bday; I don’t think at a younger age they really have a concept of “friends” and “my friends.” She invited 2 kids from her class, plus another friend, plus 2 daughters of a friend of Nom’s (which is to say Nom invited the mom & her daughters) plus immediate family. It went well. She had fun decorating the house (eg telling me to put up decorations), a little big each night for a week. Nothing fancy, crepe paper streamers and balloons, but she has definite ideas about what she wanted where.
Dunno if I mentioned, but the other day she told Nom, “when I grow up, I want to be bossy like you.” Actually, HF has managed “bossy” since quite an early age, much more so than Nom. I think I told her she was bossy when she was 2 or 3 (HF, not Nom), to which she solemnly replied, “yes.”
Anyhow, party was a success all around. I thing everyone actually had fun, even Nom & I. We had a piñata, but one of those degenerate modern ones where you pull ribbons that eventually open a trap door, instead of whacking it with a stick, or as we did at Army Family Days, shooting at it with an M16. (Joking!)
Winter is definitely over, which is to say that all the snow and ice has finally melted in the backyard. There is likely to be one more sprinkling of snow, but we are now in "post-winter," sometimes known as "mud." It's a gray, rainy day. Not depressingly so, what with my being indoors, but don't really have much energy. On the other hand, that could also be because I've had a long week. Doing more reading, both professionally and recreationally. Will post on the latter soon.
With small kids, travel is still not Relaxing (note capital R). Just much slower. Pick up stuff at a local market supermarket to eat in the room (microwavable). Eat off-hours anywhere decent. If manage one tourist sight before kids crash/meltdown, then we’re doing well. Walk a bit, pushing stroller until kids nap. Much chilling in the room, or maybe poolside. Rinsing shirt in sink. Not underwear. Traveling light... except for all the stuff for kids. At some point it has been 1small suitcase for Nom and I, 2 large ones for kids stuff. And that's not even counting the stroller. Airlines love us. (I tend to head straight for the priority check-in. Maybe they don't like it, but will like 2 hyperactive kids running around check-in even less. They can bill me an extra 25-cents.) This last trip, Hedgefund decided that the ideal mix was 1 large suitcase for her, and 1 for everyone else together. Did I mention fashionista? We convinced her otherwise.
( laughter and tears )
I'm not all that thrilled with the whole "Christmas decorations go up right after Halloween" commercial greedfest. At least in the US, there's Thanksgiving to break up the two month stretch. Christmas Carols I divide into 2 groups: traditional ones, which I love until I've heard each one for the 100th time that year, and which point they annoy me; and newer ones, which annoy me from the first time I hear them. Did I mention "bah humbug."
After the parade, we went to the nearby mall to have a bite of bad food and pick up a couple of items we needed. They had some entertainment, which was good because I was watching the kids while Nom braved the lines. By that time, Wallstreet had fallen asleep, but Hedgefund enjoyed the juggler dressed as an elf (complete with Spock ears). As jugglers go, he was kind of lame, but for a 4-year old, it was great.
Okay, a good start to the Christmas season; I'll see if I can keep my (limited) holiday cheer attitude for another 6 weeks.
This is what we call “child rearing” here in Lake Wobegon, where all the... well you know the line.
Signing off now. Starting last week, decided to take a 24-hour break each week from computers and cell phones, so will be offline ‘till Saturday night.
Pastel,currently thenew 'in' restaurant in Montreal. We went there last night courtesy of MTL à Table, which as mentioned previously, is like restaurant week most other places, but with l'accent français(*1).
'Cheap Chic' is our term to going to classy restaurants on the cheap: luncheon specials, late night specials (well, before we had kids), or restaurant weeks. Usually have their best dishes at a fraction of the price. Usually, we don't have drinks or coffee there, so they really make no money on us.
Nom made the reservations. Initially we were told they were full up the day(s) we wanted. She called back with a different plan. Eventually they saw reason. Which is to say, the 6thtime she called, I heard someone in the background say, "It's heragain. Give her a dang table or she'll keep calling!(*2) Contrary to the cliché of Asian women, she is about as passive and submissive as the average mule. Make that 2 mules. Or 10. Anyhow, she can be rather persistent.
Been there when it was something else. Even in a city with as many good restos as Montreal, there are still just so many venues, and fancy restaurants rarely last that long. When we walked in, Nom introduced herself, and the hostess turned the manager, and said, "it's that annoying Vietnamese woman who kept calling, seat her quickly(*2)." They found us a place in the far corner where the kids wouldn't disturb the other dinners.
Avant garde food. Avant garde is French for "overpriced, tiny portions, and totally awful." In this case 2 out of 3. The portions were filling, only if you were a squirrel ("Hey Rocky, watch me pull a dinner out of my hat"). And only overpriced if you went on a regular night, something like 50$/course. Very involved food. I confess I'm a little tired of overly-involved, pernickety, lets-see-how-many-weird-ingredients-I-
The kids were largely well-behaved. They had wanted to blow out candles. At the resto we went to the other night, they amused themselves by blowing out the little tea candle on the table. We thought we'd be clever and bring some extra candles (found some spare birthday candles in a drawer) that I could repeatedly light for them from the tea candle and they could then repeatedly blow out. Curses, foiled again! They didn't have tea candles, or any other candles, on the tables. Kids were disappointed, so when we got home, I found some matches, set up 2 candles, and let them take turns blowing them out(*3).
*1 Which is to say the waiters speak through their noses which are tilted in the air.
*2 Perhaps a slight exaggeration for comedic effect. There will be some of that in this conte.
*3 If I'd let them keep going, it would have been hours of fun for them, seconds of fun for me. Did have a dozen turns each, and felt satisfied at that.
Further on the list of mis-timed events, Hedgefund's swimming lesson was supposed to be tonight. As we were en route, got a text, first from a friend whose daughter takes lessons at the same time, then from the teacher, saying it had been cancelled because they were doing maintenance on the pool. Grrr. We had already planned on going out for dinner after, so we stopped at a park near old condo (both the swimming and the restaurant were near there) so the kids could play a bit. Well, Hedgefund played, Wallstreet is his mother's son (and especially his late paternal grandmother's grandson) and doesn't like cold, so he and Nom hung out in the car.
The dinner was part of Montreal à Table, an annual 2-week event with specials at different restaurants to encourage people to try them. The one we went to, called Asado, was in the same location, and under the same management, as another place Nom had wanted to try, but had closed before we could try it. Would rate it, "glad we went, but no need to go back." Asado is Spanish for "roast." Not sure I thought the food was very Latin American, but the atmosphere (including the music) was. For some reason, the décor tickled some memory of someplace I once was eating or drinking (or wenching?) in Chile, although I don't remember it well enough to say why.
Unfortunately, it was a cold, rainy night, which might be atmospheric, but not pleasant. The kids were wearing their jackets over their costumes. Otherwise, ours is a good street for trick-or-treat Many of the families really, really do up their houses. Wallstreet was scared of a few of the decorations, and is really too young to understand, so Nom took him home after a few houses. Hedgefund went to a dozen or so. She was a little scared at a few of them, but was okay b/c I was with her. (I was dressed as myself, what with my being so scary I keep myself awake at night for fear I'm hiding under my own bed.) She ran into a few friends from day care and said "hi" to them. (We've been impressing on her the importance of the social niceties, and she's really picked up on that this year.) She actually enjoys giving out candy as much as she enjoys getting it, so after we went out, we sat on our front porch and gave out candy. Some people came up to me, but I redirected them to her. Around 7:30, we ran out, which was around when it is starting to die down (pun intended) anyhow. I think Wallstreet will enjoy it more next year, and we'll probably have the energy to decorate.
When you have children, some "helpful" person sends you one of those articles that says that it costs 28 million dollars to raise a child, from prenatal care through medical school tuition, or some such. Whatever ridiculous figure they claim, and whatever it actually costs, this ignores the key fact that you don't have to front the money at once. The doctor/midwife doesn't hold onto the kid and say "give us all the money now or we send it back." It gets paid in dribs and drabs (and sometimes flood waters) but not up front.
Still certain amounts come with some sticker shock. This is where I get all curmundgeonly and harrumph that in my day, we bought a cheap pair of skates and went out on the river/dad flooded the backyard. Uh, yeah, right. In fact, they will be practicing at the municipal arena, and since likely people will also be practicing hockey on part of it, they need helmets with face shields and other accoutrements. So, a fair wack of money at once, although the skates and helmet are adjustable so she'll be able to use them for many years.
Anyhow, it starts. Will try to keep from having them too over-programmed (some kids do a different after school activity every day), but that is more because I think that is a stupid thing to do to a kid than because of cost (although that is a consideration also). Regardless, there are things they should learn that we can't teach them, and some of that comes with a cost. How many million did you say?
1. It takes at least 3 times longer. I can probably replace a light switch in 5-10 minutes. The last time Hedgefund helped me it took 40 minutes. Admittedly she was 2 years old. Now it would only take 30 minutes. Or they watch me, but then want to play. Example, going up on a ladder to change a ceiling light. Yes, they let me do it alone, but then want their “turns” climbing up and down the ladder, which means I have to stand there and make sure they come down the ladder on their own steam, rather that gravity-powered and head first.
2. I sometimes don’t want them on unsafe places, even if I’m there, because I don’t want them knowing that they can get up/into such places, because they might do it when I’m not there. Example, I don’t want them to know how to get onto the roof of the house. It will be quite a while before they can manipulate the extension ladder into place and open the trap door, but I’d just as soon they even consider the concept as do-able as late as possible. More to the point, there is a spiral staircase to the roof of the garage. I have absolutely no idea why. When we were doing the renos, they put a gate at the base of the staircase, but I didn’t have a lock for it until just now. Again, don’t want them even considering climbing up to the roof of the garage until they are old enough to not risk coming down gravity-powered/head-first.
BTW, being the son of a locksmith, I understand that I could - and therefore did - have a locksmith fit a padlock to the same key as my house key. I’m a firm believer in having as few keys as possible. In fact, our house key also opens the front door of my office, but not the reverse. That is, if I don’t have my office keys, I can still get in, but Evil Secretary’s office key doesn’t open the house (variant on doing a master key). Again, being a son-of-a-locksmith (among other “son of’s” I’ve been called), I realized that they were the same key blank, and therefore could be keyed alike.
Cuteness of the day: We were talking about going to work and going to school and teaching, and what Hedgefund would do someday. (Spoiler Alert: doctor). Then she said something about when she was big, she was going to be a daddy. (Pause). "Well, a girl daddy."
Weather of the day (month, season, etc): On the positive side, the leaves are changing, and it's pretty. On the negative side, it's turned cold. Despite having been born here, the kids, especially Wallstreet, don't like the cold. Neither does my tropically-born darling wife. Come t' think of it, more and more, neither do I. We live here why? Although when I think of moving south, my heart goes out to friends living in a hurricane zone. On the other hand, those are intermittent, rather than lasting 11.5 months/year, like winter does here. We keep saying the kids they are going to go to med school at U. Hawaii or at least UBC.
Bureaucracy of the… (whatever, enough with this theme): ravensron sent me a picture of the passport of Pharaoh Ramses II (1279-1213 BC). No, it wasn't written on papyrus, and they didn't actually have passports back then. Seems that His Pharonic Majesty's mummy was sent from Egypt to France in 1974 for preservation work. French law requires that anybody entering the country have a passport. The Egyptian government complied, including a properly formatted picture of the mummy's face in the block for picture. First time we traveled with Hedgefund, we had to get a passport, complete with photo. She was 3 months. Still required to pose eyes open, no smiling, no one holding her head. Managed to get the photo - she was actually lying down with the photographer holding the camera over her pointing downwards. What is the point? 80% of the babies in the world look like enough like that photo that it was meaningless. Even more ridiculous is that passports are good for 5 years. When she was 3 years, took her someplace, and the border control agent actually was looking back and forth between her and the photo.
Tree, also in the past tense: Our neighbor's tree died. The other morning, there was a crew taking it down (before it fell on one of our houses). The kids were fascinated. “Why man in tree? What he doing?” I sent my condolences to the neighbors (it was a beautiful, huge ash tree, but had been attacked by Emerald Ash Borers). Then I wondered, if one sends a bouquet of flowers (plants) when an person or animal dies, does one send a bouquet of animals when a tree (plant) dies? The neighbors declined, but I think that was unreasonable. True they already have a cat and a dog, but maybe they would have liked a nice basket of mice - I'm sure the cat and dog would have.
Tech: Once upon a time (say 2-3 years ago), if someone wanted you to sign a document, they printed it out, mailed or handed it to you, and you signed it. Now they send you a pdf, which you have to print out, sign, then rescan back to them. Much more convenient… for them. Recently realized that having Adobe Acrobat Pro (which creates pdf, doesn't just read them), I can do a digital signature. Still requires a few steps, but all mouse clicks, no wasteful printing and rescanning. (If you want to do it on a phone, there is an app called "fill and sign.")
Were going to go to the Granby Zoo, which is a large, well-regarded zoo over an hour from Montreal, but we had other things to do, and since doing anything with small kids takes 2-3 times longer than planned, we checked and found a smaller one right on Montreal Island, the Ecomuseum Zoo. (Not entirely sure what is with Quebec's "Ecomuseums" but they are small, specialized "museums" scattered around the province.) It was much closer, much smaller, and much cheaper admission.
Birds (ducks, turkeys, eagles, crows, ravens)
Mammals (deer, martens, fishers, lynx, otters, coyotes, wolves, bears, racoons, porcupines)
The kids more-or-less enjoyed it, probably enjoyed the playground area more than the exhibits. (The bear was sleeping, and the lynx were hiding, but the otters were being playful as usual. I like otters.) I think they would have enjoyed a petting zoo more. Birds and turtles not good for petting, and frankly even some cuddly-looking animals like racoons tend to bite if you get close to them. Wolves, coyotes (outside of a Mercy Thompson novel), and bears are right out.
No wait, the question is how many weeks does it take one warriorsavant to change a light bulb:
a) weeks? you mean minutes, dontcha? It's just changing a dang light bulb dude. You're a very handy guy, son of Mr. Fixit.
b) oh right, you have very young kids, so 2-3 weeks is likely.
First wait until they're out of the house so they don't "help," then find the ladder (hidden away so they don't play on/with it and kill themselves), then take off the globe and unscrew the bulb, then search the house and find out you don't have that size/type/wattage bulb. (When we were planning/doing the renovations, I swore I would have everything using just 1 type of bulb. My designer, architect, electrician, and contractor all laughed at me.)
Second, put away ladder and light globe so kids don't play on/with it and kill themselves and/or break the glass globe (having at least cleaned said very-dusty glove), then find some time to go to the hardware store and get that size/type/wattage bulb.
Third, try to find more time when no kids around, give up, and have them "help," after each wanting 2 turns climbing up-and-down ladder (well, each wanted several dozen turns, but they got 2).
A small boast. The other day I had to do an excision on a 7-year old. I usually defer these until teen years when the child is ready and wants it, but the lesion was physically hurting her and mom talked her into doing it. I managed to do the local anesthesia (eg by injection) without her so much as saying "ouch" or otherwise seeming to be uncomfortable even once. Pinch the skin, keep talking to the patient ("talkesthesia" - which is not easy for me), and inject very, very, very slowly.
I don't know how I'd handle one of my kids going in for major surgery or other serious medical issue. For doctor's visits, Nom is the designated parent; I usually go too, but not always. For minor, but more-than-doctor's-office stuff, I'm the designated parent, and Nom sometimes goes also, but not always. Hedgefund, for all her fussiness has been fairly good with blood draws, ultrasounds, and other other more-than-doctor's-office stuff. Some of that credit goes to the staff at Montreal Children's Hospital, some she picks up from my attitude that medical things are normal, and some is she just has different things that do and don't bother her.
When Wallstreet describes / refers to something as "big," he always makes his voice BIG when he says it (eg "that big truck"). I don't mean louder, but he purses his lips, deepens his voice slightly, and makes the word resonate.
We have a Vietnamese landscape painting that belonged to Nom's paternal grandfather. Her father, who is a bit of a pack rat, had it at home and gave it to us when we moved to the new house. He had also tried to unload a bunch of other art on us which we declined. However this piece is a bit of family history. The grandfather had been in the Vietnamese Army, rising up to Colonel. He was initially in the Army under the French and a prisoner during the Japanese occupation, then when the country was divided in 1954, was in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The painting was a gift from his junior officers when he was promoted to Colonel, out of their personal respect for him. I love history, and family history, and so am interested to know about this piece. Last night, I sat with FIL and asked him about the painting and about his father, which I think pleased him. BIL, other than having some self-identity as VN, doesn't care at all about VN history, culture, family history, etc (which is why we got that painting, not him). Nom cares, but not in an organized way. I am going to do a small write-up about the piece. I've done that for several items I've picked up over the years that are either antique, or have a personal/family story, or are otherwise unusual. I am doing this part for myself, but more so some day I'll be able to tell the kids about their great-great grandfather.