I woke up just before the alarm rang, shut it off, and walked around the house to see what windows it was visible from. Answer: a bit from tiny spare room, but best from dining room, and even from there only at the right angle. When the eclipse was actually starting, woke up Nom, who duly noted a notch was taken out of the left edge of the moon, then went back to sleep. Then woke up Hedgefund, who sleepily acknowledged that she wanted to see it. Basically, still at that age where pretty much everything is fine as long as she's with Papa (*dote, dote, dote*). Then she went back to sleep, so I carried her downstairs, set up a comfy chair by the window, with a blanket and phone and binoculars. She noted the bite taken out of the moon, then went back to sleep in my lap. I stayed up watching. Well, reading "The Economist" on my phone, and watching intermittently. When it was closed to full eclipse, I woke her up again. She again noted the change in the moon and went back to sleep.
I saw the super moon, and the eclipse, but can't say I saw the "blood moon," it was just too overcast. When the moon was almost completely eclipsed, I could just about make out the eclipsed part, but as a faint, dark brown through the cloud cover, nothing reddish about it. When it totally eclipsed, it completely disappeared from my view. I carried Hedgefund back upstairs to bed, then went back down, dressed, and went outside. Nope, still couldn't see a pale red moon, or any moon, (and fortunately still now ravening wolves) so went back inside and went back to sleep.
Glad I did it. Didn't take any pix, because in the past, when have taken pictures of eclipses (sun or moon), they really didn't look like much: just a blob of light with a notch in one corner. Both Nom and Hedgefund claim they were also glad they saw it. Not sure she actually understands about how an eclipse works (Hedgefund, I mean, pretty sure Nom does), so tonight I'll have to rig up something with a lamp and two balls in a dark room.
Today it was "how can you tell which of two eggs was cooked by spinning them?" (Spoiler alert: the cooked one spins longer than the raw one). Hedgefund tested them, then announced correctly which one had been cooked.
"How did you know?"
"It's warm and the other one is cold."
I always give full marks for correct answers, even if not the one I was looking for.
We're looking at public schools, private schools, and government-subsidized private schools. Not quite sure how and why that last works, but if the province will foot 3/4th of the bill, I'm fine with that. It is a bit ludicrous. We have to apply, interview, and even send letters of "reference" from her day care. Get a grip, people, we're talking kindergarten here!
I'd prefer the kids do at least primary school in French. We live here, and they should grow up fluent in both. I have new fears about their English. The poor kids have to put up with, tolerate, be raised by, and be influenced by, someone with an extraordinarily large, extensive, florid, and possibly overblown, vocabulary. (My humble self.) French, not so much. Nom is very concerned that they get off to a good start, and that her French isn't good enough to help them. I think we can manage to help them with their studies at primary school level, then maybe switch to secondary school in English.
Anyhow, went to an interveiw today. It was a government-subsidized French school. Have heard many good things about it, and the interview was benign. Basically the Assistant Director (= Vice Principal) sat with us and HF and chatted for a several minutes. Noted that even if shy about talking, she could clearly understand his questions in either language, plus count to 10 in both langauges. (All of this mostly in French, but some English.) He was satisfied, and told us we had a place if we wanted it. They looked like they have their act together, the facitlites looked good, and the children looked both happy and well-behaved. By all reports, and on whatever standardized measures, they rate highly. All that is very good, but in fact all three of us were stressed out in our own ways about the process. It really feels as complicated as applying to Medical, Law, Dental, or Accounting School. Get a grip, self, we're talking kindergarten here!
Went out for lunch at Milos afterwards, then ran errands.
I had some letters to mail, so we all went to the post office. I went first, handed the clerk a note (felt like a bank robber from a 1920's movie), that said, "The little girl wants to mail a letter to Mommy. Please take it, put it aside, and I'll come back for it later." He didn't quite get it at first, then caught on and played along nicely. As we were walking off, I "remembered" that I had another letter to mail, went back, gave the clerk my letter and took Hedgefund's back.
Two days later, I slipped it in with the real mail that was delivered to our house. Hedgefund was most proud to get the mail, then hand her letter, that had been "delivered" to Mommy.
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.
Meanwhile, the expertly designed heating system for our new(ly renovated) house heats very, very unevenly. Some rooms are so cold need a sweater, some are so hot can scarcely breathe. It's a forced hot air system, and it either isn't zoned properly, or there aren't enough dampers to properly regulate the flow of air, or both. Either way, right after the holidays I'm going to have a little sit down with all the parties involved and "suggest" they fix it. I have the bad feeling that means more holes in the walls, and more plaster dust, which will very much not make us happy. Along the same note, there seems to be a frozen pipe in one part of the house (out to the extension). Only the hot water pipe is frozen. The plumber has been unsuccesfully working on it for 2 hours. Add this to our little post-holiday sit down.
We're still in the midst of the cold snap you might have read about. I've always had cold hands and feet ("but a warm heart"), but I can't take my gloves off outside for more than 10 seconds without my fingers aching with the cold. We wanted to live in this country, right?
Nom & ba ngaoi took the kids out for a couple of hours (a bit of grocery shopping and a bit of running around the mall driving other people crazy, but at least they get out of the house for a bit). I can post this, have a peaceful cup of coffee… then dig into the piles of home fixing-up, and paperwork that I promised to do over the holidays.
Tonight is New Years Eve. The start of the new year is defined by when the ball drops in Times Square in NYC (no matter where in the world you happen to be). Or in our case, when we get up the next day and watch the recording of it.
Happy New Year to all my Gentle Readers. May it be full of happiness, health, and good things.
Hedgefund from an early age wanted "tete and cloth," that is, a small (4" x 4") face cloth. Only very soft ones. Sometimes 2 or 3 cloths at a time. Sometimes an armful. (Admittedly she has small arms, but even so can fit a dozen at a time.) Around age two, had finally gotten her to stop using the tete, but then Wallstreet came along, and he had one, and she regressed a little, and got addicted to the tete again. He wasn't big on the face cloth thing (sometimes wanted one, and didn't care if it was soft or not), but at times wanted 2- or 3-, or even 4 tetes. Didn't try to suck on them, would stick them on the ends of his fingers. Of course if one had them, the other one wanted also. Lately Wallstreet has just naturally stopped wanting a tete - not even to stick on his fingers - but Hedgefund still wanted hers. Desperately. They didn't use them at daycare, but she wanted it the second she was picked up. We decided over the holidays that it was time to stop.
Not happy inflicting that on her, but it was not good for her teeth, and way past time. She went into withdrawal, crying the first day and until she fell asleep. The next day she was okay, until she noticed one forgotten under the stove. (I knew there was at least one lurking around somewhere. These are the sort of things, like spare pens, that somehow one either has 12 or none.) She pitched a fit, but didn't give it to her. Finally got her distracted, and then got it and threw it out when she wasn't looking. By the third day, she really didn't notice. (I did find and toss out yet another one that was hiding under the last boxes that I'd unpacked, but she didn't notice that.)
I did the security blanket thing until primary school age. I'm convinced that my parents got me to leave it home when I went to summer camp ("you don't want to be teased" - I wasn't, but still loathed my few times at summer camp), then threw it out while I was away, hoping I wouldn't notice. I told them that in later years, when I was an adult, but they denied it. Oh well, my doing that to Hedgefund will no doubt add 6 months onto her future course of psychotherapy that she'll need to get over all the other horrible things we have/will have done to her. I once told a psychoanalyst friend (who was talking about his kids), that they would doubtless need therapy one day. He chuckled and said that everyone needed psychoanalysis, and that if his kids grew up to be able to afford it, then he'd done a good job as a parent. Check back with me in 20-30 years.
1. Silly people. I frequently tell the young'uns that they are silly children. Tonight, I spilled a glass of water, and muttered something like, "silly Papa." Hedgefund responded that "we're all silly in this house." Uh, yeah kid. Astute of you to notice.
2. That makes sense. I noticed that my office phone bill was 20$ higher than usual (for base charges). I called them, and they said it was because I was no longer on contract, I was month-to-month. Say what? I've been with them for 20? 25? years, and as far as I knew, there was no lapse of contract (not even sure I was aware there was a contract, as opposed to standard charges). They found a note that I, being an old and valued customer (not quite how they phrased it) was eligible for a promotional (which they hadn't bothered to tell me about up until that very point). If I put in a 3rd phone line, my base chargers would be 35% cheaper/month, plus have more free long distance than I actually use. I wouldn't have to actually use that third line, or even connect it. Uh, okay, that makes complete sense (not), but I'm all for saving money.
3. Illness in the household. WS has been very cranky lately. Part is the "terrible twos," if such a thing actually exists. But really, really cranky past few days. Clearly sick yesterday. Took to Peds today, who found he had strep throat. Ah, the joys of kids in day care.d
4. Slowing down a bit. Things are always a bit slower mid-winter and mid-summer. More mid-winter, as the snow birds are away. Now is when it hits the slow down. (Not actually "slow," mind you, just not-constantly-frantic at work.) Snow birds are starting to leave town, and people are gearing up for the overly-busy, overly-stressed, depressing time known as "the holidays." There will be a sudden rush of people calling me just before said holidays, when they realize they've been neglecting whatever in the rush of preparations, and now-it's-urgent-and-what-do-you-mean-
5. Speech. HF is displaying same. He's had a few scattered words for a while, but now is starting to fairly consistently string 2-5 words together. Sometimes intelligibly.
6. Renos2. Final bit of reno finished at the house. Well, never really finished, there's always something, but have installed the cabinets and connected the sink in the extension. The office renos are moving swiftly, expecting to move mid-January, reopen for business Feb 1.
7. Renos (addendum). Had to have the HVAC (Heat Ventilation Air Conditioning) system rebalanced in the house. It's been installed and running, but some rooms were way too hot, and some too cold. It's really a matter of adjusting various control valves on the system to route the heat where it is more needed. The tricky part is that opening the flow to one part of the house decreases it everywhere else, so it is literally a balancing act. Couldn't really be done until the heat went on to really know where the flow had to be re-directed. Likely will have to do it again in summer when A/C comes on, but at least I now know how to do it.
Hedgefund was very excited to do Hallowe'en. In the past years, she was either a passive observer from her stroller, or just going along because parents were walking around around. Last year, Wallstreet was the one in the stroller. This year, he was too young to care (and got a bit scared by some of the costumes), but she was old enough to understand and really wanted to go out. She picked a Nemo costume for herself. We'd gotten Hedgefund a Spiderman suit, but he didn't want to wear it, and the weather turned cold & it didn't fit over his jacket, so we pulled out the pumpkin jacket that she'd worn in the past. It fit, but he really wasn't interested. I pulled out my wizard's robes from the costume chest (I'd made them years ago), and there was a useful broken branch on the front lawn just the right size for a staff. Hedgefund and I walked up and down our street a bit. (Nom came out a bit later and basically carried Wallstreet.) Hedgefund enjoyed getting candy, but really wanted to give out candy herself. I think she likes being in charge. I put chairs on the front porch, and she really did enjoy it. She seemed to be deliberate about which candy she give to which person. Like many things in little kids, I just accept that she had a system and a reason, and it was her show. We really had fun. Next year will do up the house with more decorations. Probably never to the level of our predecessors, but a fair amount.
1. Who ever described that new car smell as wonderful? It's putrid. HF thinks so also. Drove with the windows wide open to try to rid us of the smell.
2. On the list of "gadgets I thought were ridiculous but now can't live without" (includes fax machines and email). There is a camera for backing up. Needed because can't otherwise see where the car ends. I've somehow lost my mad skills at parallel parking (I once got a car into a space only 4" longer than the car). I think I was good at it because I learned on boxy, old American cars. Newer cars, even cheap ones, have "sleek" styling, and you can't see where they end. On the Subaru, I can see the bottom of the rear window, and have no idea what is beyond that, so unless I park by the sound method (i.e. back up until something goes "crunch"), the read camera is great.
3. On the list of "gadgets (or settings) that I thought were ridiculous and now am convinced are ridiculous and annoying" the radio comes on as soon as you start the car. I absolutely loath and despise settings on things "to make my life easier and faster," all of which are not how I function and only annoy and slow me down to shut them off each time.
1. WS is still sick, so I took HF to daycare while Nom stayed home.
2. HF is adapting rapidly, to our pleased surprise. It's only been a week. Today there were no tears, only a little apprehensive when I took her in. I told her I'd stay for a "little bit." Sat down while she played with blocks for 5 minutes, then she told me she had to pipi. I asked one of the educators to take her to the toilet, and when she came back, she headed straight to play where the other kids were. I told her I was leaving, and she basically said, "yeah, whatever, later pops" (slight paraphrasing). When I picked her up, they told me she sat and ate with the other kids. Didn't eat much, but this is the first time she did at all. She's never been good about eating, so this is great.
3. Later we took them both to the dentist. Just a checkup (if you care to know, the Medicare system pays for 1 visit/year for kids, but would have done it anyhow). Okay, there were tears here, but it got done, and no one (kids, parents, or dentist) permanently traumatized. (I seem to recall that first time I went to the dentist, I had gotten the impression that it would be traumatic, and was sitting in the waiting room crying/screaming/fussing. My Mother looked at me and sensibly pointed out that nothing had happened yet, so why was I screaming. Even then I was logical (or perhaps more logical than now), because I stopped crying, had the appointment, and realized there was nothing traumatic about it. In my adult years, I even had a cavity filled without anesthesia… well, once.)
Castles: Which is to say the house. Did a walk-thru with the contractor. Lots of little things need touching up, but basically on track to finish. Yippee.
Wallstreet manages 3 word sentences. With one word in each language. At less than 2 years old has a limited vocabulary, but is very clear and insistent in what he means to say, when he can use words. Encore nuac now: encore = French for more, nuac = VN for water, now = English for now. "I want more water now."
At 3-1/2, Hedgefund amazes me with how much language she knows, and how she can think to work around what she doesn't know.
Some clearly imitating what she's heard:
HF: "I very hungry."
Nom: "What do you want to eat?"
HF: "What's ya got?"
Some are entirely logical use of language from her perspective, even if not quite how the words are used in English. She wanted a blanket, but she didn't want the warm (heavier) blanket, so she asked for the "cold blanket." Makes sense logically, as cold is the opposite of warm.
Some working around her vocabulary, waiting for dumb parents to catch on.
HF: "What car doing?" (while we're driving)
Us: "What car honey?"…. when she couldn't explain, we asked her to point. She pointed out the front window, at what we thought was a car with a trailer in front of us.
Us: "It's a trailer, so that car can carry more stuff."
HF: "No, what car doing?
Us: "Sorry, we don't understand." She made a back and forth motion with her arms. Then it clicked, she wanted to understand about the wipers being on on our car (which we then explained). She's bright, she wants to understand things, and she will sensibly keep asking until we explain.
Sometimes the two of them are having what we regard as conversations in nonsense words. WS will also talk to us like that, which HF used to when she couldn't speak as well. Well, nonsense to us. They seem to understand each other, which goes back to my question to myself when HF was talking to us like that, which is whether it is only nonsense to us, but clearly defined language to them.
She doesn't like people. If she sees/interacts with something she doesn't like, she says, "go away xxx." Example: she turned around without looking where she was going and bashed into the door. "Go away, door." At one point she announced, "go away everyone."
Hedgefund took pictures of me and Wallstreet today. She's "taken pictures" before, in the sense of picking up my phone, and realizing that when she pressed the little picture (camera icon), it made a "click" noise (and maybe a flash). She had no idea this was taking pictures, but it was fun for her to do 1 or 2 (or 50) times in a row. This time she picked up the phone, and announced that she was going to take a picture of "Papa and Baby."
Will have to work a bit on the framing (also see attached).
Only 2 out of 11 were framed well, but that's on a par with most adults from what I've seen. I grew up with film (for my younger Gentle Readers, ask your parents/grandparents), which means it learned that it costs money if you don't frame shots correctly the first time, so I'm good at it (plus having inherited Mom's artistic eye).
Other new capabilites? Nom and I were sitting in the den, and she walked (can't even really call it toddling anymore) in with a bottle of milk. She also can pour her own milk: open the fridge, take out the pitcher of milk, take out bottle, and pour from the one to the other without getting too much of it on the floor (and wipes it up if she does).
At this rate, I'll get to retire sooner than I thought.
When our kids are very young, we take care of them. When we're very old, hopefully, they take care of us. (Huge kudos to my sister, WWC, who took care of Dad in his dotage.)
Hedgefund seems to have started the latter phase at the same time as the former is still going on. The other night I was really tired, and she put me to bed. We have our little bedtime ritual: I set out the drinks (scotch for her, beer for me*), then I read her a book or two, then brush her teeth,** then another book or two, then she turns over and goes to sleep. When she goest to sleep, I will either read, or talk to Nom, or do some work at my desk. That night, somewhere halfway through the first book after brushing her teeth, she told me to turn out the light and fait dodo***. I turned out the lights, lay on the couch, and fell asleep in seconds. She apparently decided it was a job well done, got up, went to find Nom, and informed her that she'd put Papa to sleep, and now Nom needed to read to her. I wasn't aware of any of this until the next morning.
*Not really. A bottle of milk, plus a sippy cup of juice & bubbly water mixed for her, and some bubbly water for me. Even if she doesn't always drink it, it has to be set up. Kids are creatures of habit.
** She makes a game out it, which can be either cute or annoying depending how tired I am. First I have to "brush" (with the back of the brush) her fingers, ears, and whatever part of the body she presents to procrastinate actually brushing her teeth.
*** Baby French for go to sleep.
Mostly secular traditions for us today. I'm off work, not because of any religious beliefs, but it is a statutory holiday and my office building is closed. Unfortunately, I forgot to point out to my alarm clock (a.k.a. phone app) that I wasn't going to work today, so it went off at the usual time. I won't have slept much past that anyhow, but a little. Hedgefund woke up and told me she wanted to go out. That's odd, but no point in discouraging it. I had wanted coissant for breakfast, so a walk to the Market was in order. Question: how long does it take one to walk 3 blocks and back? Answer: 5-minutes, perhaps 10, or more likely just over an hour-and-a-half, if your legs are 15" long, you're pushing your toutou in a toy stroller, and you stop to check out cats and rocks and leaves. We left Nom and Wallstreet barely waking. Hedgefund is generally not a good eater (one of my worries), but she does seem to eat when we are out strolling. She pushed her toutou, I slipped food into her mouth every few steps. When we were at the Market, she decided she wanted to sit down and eat, so got to feed her a bit more (and drink my cappuccino) before we returned home with the remaining croissant, cheese, ham, and a blueberry danish sans blueberries (she rather likes sugar-coated blueberries).
Later, we met Nom's family at a farm for a cabane à sucre (sugar shack). Due to Canadian demographics (smallish population with a huge amount of real estate), less than half-hour drive out of Montreal, which is a good-sized city, one is in farmland. (I think there are even still a few farms on Montreal island itself.) Quebec is the world's greatest producer of maple syrup, so during the few weeks when the maple sap runs, it's traditional to go out to a maple tree farm, and scarf down a massive breakfast with everything cooked with maple syrup. For starters there was cole slaw (not really very Quebec), split pea soup (very Quebec), beets (?) and bread with creton. The main course was smoked ham, regular ham, baked beans, omlettes, roast potatos, maple-smoked bacon, oreilles de criss (bacon2, basically fried pork fat), saussages in syrup. For dessert were various fried dough dripping in maple syrup, chocolate cake, and an extra dose of Lipitor. Later was a horse-drawn ride around the maple plantation, and then some very stuffed people headed back for home.