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November 30, 2003

Simpler times; simpler toys

Is anyone else as nostalgic as I am for the Christmas toys we got as kids. Balls, blocks, wooden logs, marbles.

I cringe when I think of what toy shopping during the holidays is going to be like over the next ten years or so. I'm sure Ella will want a $3000.00 cyborg dog, nanotechnology-driven android hamsters, or something like it before long. Maybe a do-it-yourself satellite or a mini liquid plasma screen TV accessory for her bicycle.

The link below will give you a sense of what's hot this year. We're really in for it.

http://shopping.yahoo.com/b_96380374

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 11:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2003

Generations

Ella and I just spent the better part of the day at Grandma's house in North Vancouver. We try to visit at least once a week, as both Tomi and I want Ella to grow up with a strong sense of family.

I am from Ontario, but moved to Vancouver in 1991. It was the toughest decision I ever made, as it meant leaving behind my parents, two brothers, a sister, and ten nieces and nephews. Ours is a close family, which is why my move to the West Coast of Canada was so unusual: everyone else in my familty lives within a 20-minute drive of one another. My dad died a couple of years ago, unfortunately before he could meet my daughter. But it's because of him that I feel a sense of urgency that Ella should see her Grandparents, aunts, and uncles as often as possible. I still remember my Dad taking me by the hand in the freezing Hamilton winter to see his father--my grandfather--every Saturday afternoon. Three generations of Irish Stewart men crowded around a kitchen table sharing laughs, stories, and time.

I think this is why I must enjoy going to Tomi's Mom's house so much. I sit and watch as three generations of Chinese women (Wongs, Yungs, Engs, and Stewarts) crowd around a kitchen table--not unlike the one in Hamilton some 30 years ago--again sharing laughs, stories, and the best of our time together.

I'm fortunate to have two wonderful families. So is my little girl. And she sure better bring my grandkids to see me every week when I'm too old and rickety to get out from behind my kitchen table!

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 11:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 28, 2003

Forward Motion

It always amazes me how quickly developmental spurts can happen in babies. Today was no different.

After a fantastically full day of playing, eating, napping, walking in the West Coast downpour, and more playing, Ella decided she had one more important thing to do today.

She looked at her keyboard on the floor, then she looked at me, and THEN....she crawled toward me and up into my lap! Ella has never crawled forward in her young life, so this was quite the event. She has always been more of a roller, using her head as pivot to make turns.

It was pretty remarkable and, of course, she decided to wait until Mom was on another continent to do this!!

Happily, though, Tomi called in from Japan to check on us, so I got to share the news with her. For those of you interested in Tomi and Penny's travels, everyone arrived safely and they're having a blast. They've got great trip karma going already. Not only did they make it on to the cramped flight they wanted (while flying stand-by), they got bumped up into business class!

They're eating fabulous sushi and seeing wonderful sights. Today, they are off to the Osaka aquarium. See the link below to check it out:

http://www.kaiyukan.com/eng/

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 11:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 27, 2003

The Little Things

Penny and Tomi are somewhere high over the Pacific Ocean tonight--en route to the land of the Rising Sun. It was pretty emotional at the airport for the Moms, with Ollie and Ella both waving away as the jetsetters headed through the security gates.

I don't think Ella has caught on yet that Mommy is not here anymore, but she definitely knows something is up because her Dad gave her the worst / most traumatic bath of her wee life so far.

I'm so fully prepared to tackle the big things--earthquakes, fire, pestilence, famine, war--while Tomi is away. But I get the feeling that it's the little things--like a graceful exit from the bathtub--that I'd better start worrying about.

At first, Ella thought it was quite funny that Dad--not Mom--was joining her in the tub tonight. Until, of course, I managed to displace half the bath water with my massive butt. Playing wasn't quite as fun as usual, given the cramped quarters. Add to that the fact that Dad's back started aching about 12 seconds into the bath and you can understand why it was all about the business of washing, not playing.

For some reason, I thought getting IN to the tub was better than leaning OVER it. Putz.

So this is where the little things start boggling my mind. This is where Tomi's immensely superior common sense skills usually rescue me. How the HELL are you supposed to get out of the tub with a baby? I knew that with my back it would be a bad idea to lift her up and get out together. I also knew that I couldn't just get out first and leave Ella flailing about--she's good sitting up, but not THAT good. I also wanted her to be as warm and dry as quickly as possible.

My well-crafted solution to the problem? I get halfway out, then lift her out, then just dry her (not me). She was toasty warm, nice and dry, and just a little bemused. I was sore, chilled, and dripping wet as I walked through the apartment to then get her ready for bed.

The little things.

One day down, nine to go!

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 10:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2003

Moms Jetting to Japan!

Our main Milk Factory workers (Tomi and Penny) are leaving tomorrow for a much-deserved vacation--to Japan!!

It's a whirlwind of activity in both our houses tonight--packing, planning, unpacking, repacking, web searching for distant weather reports, document gathering, phone calling, laundry, not to mention the usual baby-rearing--so I thought I'd help out some by posting tonight.

So yes, for the next 10 days or so it's going to be go-Daddy-O trying to pump it fresh daily. I'm going to suck it up, stand up, and take it like a Mom!! Full-on daddy duty in addition to keeping the Milk Factory producing smoothly.

I will try to keep you all as interested as Tomi and Penny do on a daily basis (and I will give you the Japan updates as I get them).

I suspect that many of the posts will document how Ella and I are surviving without Mom. It's quite a frightening prospect, but luckily we're used to spending lots of time together anyway. I've been on leave since August 1st so we pretty much have a great routine already.

We'll be missing Mom, but at least we'll be missing her together.

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 11:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2003

So Much Food, So Little Time

During the time that we thought Ella might be losing weight (it ends up that the scale in the doctor's office was broken), go-Daddy-O would blow on the baby's belly and recite the following mantra: "More food, less exercise!"

Well, let's just say that if we weren't driving home from Long Beach, we would have been rolling towards the mainland after the three days of eating, drinking, and NO EXERCISE that we did.

It all began on Sunday. We picked up our cousin Carey and his wife Emilie in Victoria, and then stopped in Nanaimo for lunch, fully expecting to grab a sandwich or something on the way to Ucluelet. Instead, we found ourselves eating an all-you-can eat tapas brunch ($20 per person) at a restaurant called Glow. Here are some of the items that we tried from Chef Gerd G Voigt's menu:

Eggs Benedict over a Home Baked Scone
Mandarins and Pineapple marinated in Southern Comfort
Fish and Crab Cake with Wasabi Cream
Venison Ragout over Winter Chanterelles Risotto
Smoked Salmon Fillet over Succutash and Ponzu Sauce
Crispy Rockfish over Risotto and Sweet and Sour Sauce
Ribs in a Tamarind Glaze
Creme Caramel
Chocolate Pecan Flan and poached Pepper Pear

Mmmmm...we had a feast!!

However, after reading today's VanEat's post, I realize that we ate something that appears on the Seafood Watch's AVOID list: rockfish. Not so good. I'll have to take another long look at the list and be much more careful about the kind of seafood I'm eating.

Posted by tomi at 11:23 PM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 24, 2003

Pack Rat Unpacked

For weeks I've been packing, giving little thought to sifting out the old or unused as I went. Through the unpacking and preparing to pack for the trip to Japan (in three days!), I find myself uttering phrases like "Will I/we EVER use this thing?", "How many t-shirts does one person really need?!", "Have I really moved this useless piece of crap 5 times since I got it - and not yet found a use for it?".

Let me tell you...come spring there will be a VERY large garage sale happening! I'm all for making donations to worthy causes (I just dropped off a bag of baby clothes in a BC Children's Hospital bin yesterday) but when you're a negative half meeelllionaire, you've gotta do what you've gotta do to scrape up every cent you can!

Now if only we had a garage!

Posted by penny at 11:16 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2003

Eastside Story

We are officially living in our new shack in Renfrew Heights, a little known, peaceful pocket on the Eastside.

You know your move is going to be a long one when, the hired professional movers arrive an hour later than scheduled. Three hours is not enough time to move 3 pack rats and a cat out of a 1+Den+Large Storage Locker! Luckily, we had enlisted the help of a well known outfit...Mom and Dad! Honestly, we couldn't have done it without them...thanks again M & D!

We started off Friday night, ditching Oliver at Grandma & Grandpa Seto's for the night so that we could do a few last minute things. Thanks G & G! Yup! First sleepover away from Mommy & Daddy! (too bad we didn't get to bed until almost 2 and were up at 6). It's been a BIG weekend for Oliver...time with ALL of his Grandparents, a sleepover, a new house and LOTS of new things to look at (and get into).

Saturday was a day of last minute packing, LOTS of cleaning and endless trips back and forth from the condo to the house. Today was spent cleaning and unpacking and more trips to the condo.

Does anyone have any idea how difficult it is to move with an 8 month old that is dying to crawl on the floor of his new house but can't because it's still too dirty?!

Many thanks to everyone that helped physically, mentally and emotionally! (especially, The Seto's, The Murphy's, Aunt Tricia and Tomi, Kevin & Ella). We're here and we're pretty happy so far! Except that the jacuzzi tub we had installed doesn't work and I, of course, didn't find out until the tub was full and I was in it...shoulda just had a shower!

Posted by penny at 11:53 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 22, 2003

Storm-watching

We'll be in Ucluelet for the next couple of days--I'm calling this trip my little vacation (the one before my BIG vacation).

Ucluelet is surrounded by rainforest and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean....The "Wild Pacific Trail" offers a unique opportunity for safe, close-at-hand viewing of the open Pacific Ocean. The bedrock cliff formations and the fierce wave action from Pacific winter storms produce spectacular views and immense power. The intense winds on the exposed shoreline trees and shrubs produce breathtakingly sculptured, surreal scenes. Whales, sea lions, seals, birds of all sorts live, feed and may be viewed in the proximity of these rocks.

Check out the beachfront cabins (at Terrace Beach) that we'll be staying in. I can't wait!

Posted by tomi at 11:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003

Kids in the 'Hood

Penny is busy today preparing for tomorrow's big move to the East side--so busy that she doesn't have time to post anything tonight, so here I sit. Thinking, thinking. It's after midnight, and my mind is a complete blank. So I decide to surf around a bit and find some information about the new neighbourhood she is moving into, and I come across this site: The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. No surprise here, since you're bound to run across sites on addiction, immigration, prostitution, and homelessness when you do a keyword search on "east vancouver demographics."

However, I was surprised by what I read on the site: November 16-22 is National Drug and Addiction Awareness Week. Who knew? Not many people here, I suppose, since no activities have been planned this year in BC. Zero. Zilch. The same goes for last year. This seems very strange to me, since BC is known for many things, including its high rate of illicit drug use, and BC citizens often pride themselves on being socially and environmentally active.

From a 2001 report on BC street youth:

Between June and December, 2000 the McCreery Centre Society of B.C. conducted a survey of street youth, and in 2001 reported on their findings in a profile of B.C. street youth. A convenience sample of 523 youth under age 19 (145 from Vancouver; 94 from Victoria; 28% of the total self-identified as Aboriginal) identified through community services were interviewed about their needs, behaviours and circumstances within that survey.

The key findings of the McCreery Report include the following:

· Nearly two-thirds of street youth in Vancouver and a third of street youth in Victoria come from other provinces in Canada

· About half of street youth see themselves as having an addiction problem

· Of those stating they have an addiction problem, 60% say they have another diagnosis

· Street youth have very high rates of risky behaviour, including drug, alcohol and tobacco use and unprotected sex. Risky behaviours often began at a very early age

· Over a quarter of the B.C. street youth interviewed attempted suicide in the past year

· Most street youth have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse (50% of males and 65% of females)

· Many are involved in the sex trade

· Over half of street youth have been charged with or convicted of a crime, and nearly half have spent time in a custody center

· 13% said they have a child or children of their own

· 29% reported that they first used marijuana before age 11

· 72% of males and 62% of females have used marijuana 100 or more times

· 48% of Vancouver street youth and 65% of Victoria street youth reported using marijuana 40 or more times in the past month

· 27% were less than 9 years old when they first used alcohol

· 9% drank alcohol on 20 or more days in the last month

· 19% of street youth surveyed in Vancouver had been binge drinking 10 or more days in the previous month

· In Vancouver and Victoria, respectively, 72% and 73% had ever used cocaine; 50% and 43% had ever used heroin; and, 30% and 28% had ever injected an illegal drug

· In Vancouver and Victoria, respectively, 45% and 41% had used cocaine ten or more times; 28% and 24% had used heroin 10 or more times; and, 22% and 24% had injected an illegal drug 10 or more times

· 31% of street youth – 46% of girls and 18% of boys – reported that they have been forced to have sex

· Overall, 15% of youth said they had been refused alcohol and drug treatment services at some time (23% in Vancouver).

*********

Note: Penny's new digs are approximately 15 minutes away from the downtown eastside, which is where most of Vancouver's street kids can be found. Nevertheless, in this town, East is East and West is West. So it's so long Penny, Ken, and Ollie. I guess we'll be seeing you soon on the "other" side!

Posted by tomi at 11:48 PM in Social Activism | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack