March 01, 2005

A Hint of Spring


I'm no Mark Allerton but I love this photo.  It makes me think of spring and the longer days to come.  I miss spring and how the neighborhood comes alive with kids, dogs, flowers and freshly mowed lawns!

Posted by penny at 02:45 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 26, 2004

Close Encounters

I took Ella to the library today, where we nearly got into an altercation with another toddler.

It began with a toy: one of those old-style View-Masters with a Snow White reel. She found it on one of the shelves (it belongs to the library), and was squealing with delight as she looked at the images through the viewer.

Then along came another child. She must have been around 2 years old. She wanted to look through the view finder as well, so without prompting, Ella gave up the toy. So this other child started looking at the pictures, and then she stopped, and just stood there, staring in silence--not using the toy, and not giving it back.

Of course, this drove Ella crazy. "Mine! Mine!"

She reached for the toy, but the other child held it out of her reach. I asked the child if she'd share, but I don't expect a 2-year-old to know how to share, and I really didn't want to snatch the toy away from her.

So I removed Ella from the situation, before anything bad happened. There she was, kicking, crying, and throwing her head back. She had a full on tantrum in the middle of the library. Still, that was better than letting the situation escalate into a full on biting or hitting incident.

A toddler having a temper tantrum. No surprise there. But I was surprised by the fact that the parent of the other child did absolutely nothing. She saw what was happening from across the room, and then turned her head and went back to browsing the bookshelves.

When I walked away with Ella, the other child was just standing there, alone and expressionless. It was a bit eerie. And completely alien to me. I don't think I've ever left my child alone like that in a public place. I don't think I ever will.

Posted by tomi at 11:40 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 21, 2004

Circle of Friends

125 loads of laundry. 1,825 bottles of milk. 4,000+ dirty diapers. 8,760 long hours. 365 happy days.

Ken and I can't believe that Oliver's first year has gone by so quickly. Tonight, as we reflect on the year, we're feeling very lucky and very happy. Oliver is healthy, happy, smart, funny and very, very huggy! We've had a fun year and have really tried to appreciate every moment.

Oliver is our first child and I admit we've had rough spots learning about him and he about us. What I can't imagine is what this first year would have been like without our Circle of Friends there to support us. So, it seemed fitting to celebrate Oliver's first birthday with the Milk Factory gang. The kids are within two months of each other so it was really like one big birthday party for all of them.

They played with balloons, blocks, lego, cars and balls. They ate cheese quesadillas, teddy puffs and mooched Chinese food from anyone that would share. They fed each other. Hit each other. Hugged each other and of course, shared sippy cups. Some napped while some danced. It was fun all around!

And of course there was cake! A "super moist" cake!


Posted by penny at 09:10 PM in Reflections, Too Cute for Words | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

Life in the Co-op

After living in a downtown condo for years, we're finding life in a housing co-op a little strange. First of all, we were able to choose the colour of the paint and the type of linoleum we wanted, and we got to pick out the carpet. So now we have a red kitchen and flooring that people think looks just like hardwood, and we have a brand new carpet (with no baby puke and no tea stains on it).

We have a cherry blossom tree blooming right outside of our window. We are surrounded by shrubbery, and we don't hear any traffic. Plus, we have a garden...which means that I'm going to be digging in the dirt and growing and other green things. How crazy is that!

But, as go-Daddy-O points out, the strangest part about living in the co-op is that we no longer feel anonymous. Yesterday the next door neighbours popped in to say hi and introduce themselves. A mom and her two kids cheerfully greeted go-Daddy-O in the parkade. A woman from across the street stopped us at the bottom of the stairs in order to welcome us into the community. Apparently, everybody knows that the "new people" are just moving in.

Yes, it feels strange--but strange in a weird and wonderful way. I think we're really going to like living here!

Posted by tomi at 11:30 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

Rated "R"

I've always been a fan of big, loud, obnoxious blockbuster movies. I guess they were the perfect escape from reality: movies that didn't require you to think.

Tomi and I have always had our differences there. She would watch A Room With a View and I would watch A View to a Kill. Tomi? Whale Rider. Go-Daddy-O? Orca. Heavenly Creatures vs. The Creature. You get the idea.

But don't get me wrong. There has been some common movie-going ground where we've both enjoyed the films (not just each other's company). Memento, the Matrix, Chicago, and Amelie, just to name a few.

Something has happened, though, since Ella's arrival.

Aside from the fact that I no longer average two matinees per week, we seem to find certain films particularly disturbing. We saw Kill Bill: Volume I last week and--even though we both really enjoyed Pulp Fiction--we each found the level of violence to be rather disquieting. And for me to find ANY level of violence in a film disquieting is.....well, disquieting in and of itself. Upon leaving the theatre after Kill Bill, Tomi commented rather emphatically: "Ella is NOT seeing that movie until she's 21." Keep in mind that MY nickname at times is "censor-boy." Tomi is the liberal one.

Most particularly disturbing for me, though, are films that have a mix of violence and kids. I always found it rather gratuitous and just generally unsettling before, but now it really bothers me. On a fundamental level.

Two films in recent memory that I still feel anger about? The first is Narc. There is a horrible scene in which Jason Patric's character is holding a real infant and he and the character of his spouse are having a very graphic, very loud argument. The baby--this real baby--is screaming, the actors are screaming over it. I just couldn't help feeling terrible that at that particular moment that very real baby was probably feeling very real fear. Just inexcusable. I felt guilty that I'd paid $7 to pay for a movie that would place a baby in that position. I still feel sick about it when I remember that scene.

The other film was one I saw today: the Butterfly Effect. If you don't want any spoilers, stop reading now. The scene that disturbed me was one in which a mother and her baby are killed by a firecracker left lit in a mailbox as a prank. Unknown to the pranksters, the firecracker is actually a stick of dynamite. You can imagine what happens.

I think I'm starting to concede that life is rated "R" for extreme violence enough on its own. We don't really need films to reinforce (or exploit) this. I certainly will avoid movies with violence directed at kids whenever I can. I have nightmares often enough. I don't need any help in that department.

Having Ella has changed me in so many different ways. I'm learning new things about her and about myself every day. A little bit at a time.

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 11:52 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2004

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

So it is officially the year of the Monkey.......again.

And being the only Monkey in the house, the blogging has fallen to me today. Ella is a horse (and can't type yet) and Tomi is a rooster (and has blog block). As it is, the whole barnyard is splashing around in the tub as I write this, so I thought I'd mark the Chinese New Year by thinking about New Year's celebrations that stand out in my mind.

I've never been a big fan of December 31st--New Year's Eve. In fact, I generally go out of my way to avoid attending (or hosting) parties to mark the occasion. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that the "traditions" most North Americans observe include heavy drinking, over-priced / champagne-soaked meals, and forced kisses with strangers at midnight. Growing up, it always struck me as being very fake--a made-up holiday. Too many people wake up the next day hung over, remembering stupid things they did the night before, and wondering if they've already made the first big mistake of the New Year.

Generally speaking, New Year's resolutions are abandoned by mid-January. The vices we had promised to give up just weeks before soon become the only things that can get us through the post-Christmas depression.

Maybe this is why I find myself looking to other cultures to find a New Year with meaning. Both the Chinese and Persian New Year's celebrations come to mind. Both holidays are focused on thoughts of family. There are all sorts of wonderful Chinese and Persian traditions steeped in both a belief in family and a belief in spirituality.

I remember my first Chinese New Year's celebration with Tomi's family. Lots of food, lots of stories, lots more food, and then lucky money to top it all off. Absent were the pressures to drink and socialize with other drunken strangers. Absent also--thankfully--was the need to plant one on somebody you didn't know.

The Persian celebration of Chahar Shanbeh Suri--or--the eve of Red Wednesday is another tradition that makes me think I missed something special growing up. The thought of gathering with friends and family to jump over an open fire and ring in the New Year in a purified state just seems more meaningful than dancing until dawn in smokey, boozy, sweaty haze.

Then again. I suppose a little monkey business is what it's all about for most people.

I guess I'm just very happy that Ella is a horse.

Gung Hay Fat Choy everyone! Happy Chinese New Year!!

May yours be filled with family, friends, happiness, good health, and good fortune

Posted by go-Daddy-O at 09:11 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 15, 2004

May I Have This Dance?

As do most young children, Oliver, now 9 1/2 months, LOVES music. Last night we caught an advertisment on Channel M. The "Little Note Choir", an adorable assembly of young Asian children, was singing wishes of Gung Hay Fat Choy. In the seconds preceeding the ad, Oliver was banging one of his maraca rattles on the floor. As soon as he heard the singing he was virtually paralized. Then...he did an "Ella move"...he started to bounce up and down - not really in time with the music, but he had the right idea!

So, Oliver and I started a new bedtime routine...we'll keep our fingers crossed! After bathtime, we pop in a mellow CD, grab Piccles (his cuddly, velvet blanket), dim the lights and sway to the music. He grabs Piccles with one arm and my neck with the there any better way to end your day?! Then it's a warm bottle, one last dance and off to dreamland he goes!

One of my favorite CDs these days, is a collection put together by Martha, yes, that Martha. I'm still on the "anti-Martha" train, but curiousity got the best of me and I couldn't resist checking this one out. It's titled "Sleepytime" (here's an review link) and is packaged in her usual fingerprint design. By the way, the CD is available at many branches of the Vancouver Public Library for those that don't want to make the purchase. I'm quite fond of most of the artists and have been enjoying their renditions of these sleepy tunes for a few months now.

Posted by penny at 04:27 PM in Parenting Tips, Reflections, The Sound of Music | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 25, 2003

Baby's First Christmas

I'm thinking that, for the first few years, Christmas gifts for children should be empty boxes, wrapping paper and colorful ribbon. Oliver must have played with the same 2 inch piece of paper for 15 minutes before we could get him to take a look at the gift it was wrapping. But once he realized that his new truck had buttons that made noises and flashed lights, those little fingers stuck to the buttons like crazy glue!

We spent a very mellow day with some of Ken's family. It was really nice to have the whole day together as a family, just hanging out and playing with whatever Ollie wanted to play with...paper, bubble-wrap, ribbon, O's...

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Posted by penny at 10:39 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2003

4 More Sleeps!

25 years ago I would have been counting down the minutes. Today, I realized that the "Christmas Holidays" have very little affect on my life. So little that, until I looked at the calendar today, I didn't know that Christmas Day was THIS week.

I suppose that the whole moving thing is one reason for the absence of Christmas decor. I haven't come across that box yet and any gifts that I have bought still seem to be amongst the unpacked. So, aside from the few gifts and odd cards that we have received, the only sign of Christmas is a CD playing "Holiday Favorites" quietly in the livingroom (courtesy of Ocean Spray, found by Ken on the web).

Another reason could be that my family is on Vancouver brother and sister are celebrating with their in-laws this year so that we can all try to get together next year. This was a convenient excuse for my parents to bugger off to California for a couple of weeks. Ken's family is here but as you know, the Chinese way is all about the food! And really, I'm not one to complain!

On one hand, it might have been nice for Oliver to have some twinkling lights to gaze at but given his very short attention span, I don't think it would have a lasting effect this year. He'll have to get his fill from all of the visiting we do!

Posted by penny at 09:04 PM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2003

For Papa

I didn't expect to be up at 6 am this morning, and I certainly didn't expect to be reading last night's post and crying my eyes out.

Ella's middle name is Vernon. This may sound like a strange name for a little girl, but it doesn't seem strange if you'd met go-Daddy-O's father. Vern was an upstanding citizen who was full of warmth and good will. He had never owned a car, yet every week he managed to balance a truckload of groceries on his bike and deliver them to his daughter (who has 8 eight kids). He was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. He grew roses in his backyard and barbequed all year round. He clearly doted on his wife and family.

Vern went into the hospital in October 2001, right around Thanksgiving. In the summer he had lost a substantial amount of weight and had been diagnosed with diabetes. In fact, the weight loss was a symptom of something much worse: cancer. The tumour in his throat grew to be the size of a grapefruit. The family was devastated.

Before he passed away, he indicated that he had no regrets. He had led a rich life, and had lived long enough to spend quality time with his 4 children and 10 grandchildren. If only he'd seen his 11th grandchild, with her toothy grin and her sparkling eyes. Some days I can see the regret, and the longing, creep into go-Daddy-O's eyes--especially around Christmas time.

Ella Vernon Stewart. Laugh loudly. Love deeply. We have high hopes for you.

Posted by tomi at 06:31 AM in Reflections | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack