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Cousin Maria went swimming for the first time today!  She's a water baby just like her two cousins big sister and cousin Ed. Note: Oops - apparently I'm too used to writing about Elizabeth!.  They had a grand time splashing around with pool noodles and macaronis.

 

Erika likes to get out of the pool and jump back in with a big splash.  Elizabeth likes to do whatever Erika does.  So I should have seen it coming when Elizabeth signed that she wanted to get out.  Luckily I caught her on the way back in!

 

 Mommy decided swimming time was over long before Elizabeth did. The pool is heated much more than a city pool but Elizabeth was so blue and shivery after a while that I thought it would be a good idea to go warm up.  Maybe we'll have to consider a thermal swimsuit or at least a t-shirt for swimming at the cottage.



   



Elizabeth is Daddy's best little helper.  Together they are working on building her playstructure...



   



Elizabeth is now sixteen months old - how time flies.  This age is so hard to keep up with; every day she learns a little more and surprises us with all the things she can do and understand.

 

I mentioned last month that she's no longer a baby, but now even our neighbours have noticed we have a toddler who goes running down the sidewalk.  Elizabeth is actually more comfortable walking on her own two feet than crawling these days and is working on learning to jump.  "Jump, jump, jump" she chants.  And then she tries a little hop.  So far gravity is winning unless she can hang on to someone.

 

Elizabeth is becoming easier to understand.  She's very talkative with Mommy and Daddy and knows a lot of signs, which she uses to help clarify what she's saying.  It's very interesting watching her learn.  We taught her "more", but it quickly morphed into "want" (interestingly, her variation actually looks a lot like the official sign for "want").  When we taught her "toilet", for a few days this new sign replaced "want".  Suddenly she was signing about toilets _all_the_time and pointing at things.  This led to some parental confusion and frustration.  My theory is that toilet is a one handed sign and want uses two hands, so she wanted a shortcut. We taught her "apple", and she used this to refer to "banana" as well (this is apparently very common, as is woofing for cats as well as dogs).  Fortunately some reinforcement brought the signs back to their intended meanings. 

 

Speaking of toilets, we're happy that Elizabeth is starting to tell us that she needs to go (or more often that she needs a change), because up until recently we were working entirely by schedule.  This does NOT mean that we are out of diapers.  In fact, we're much further away from this than a few months ago.  Elizabeth is much too busy playing during the day to actually want to stop and go to the toilet.  Even when she does decide that she needs to go, she usually doesn't want to sit on the toilet for longer than a fraction of a second.  "Done" she says and scoots off, only to go in her diaper thirty seconds later.  Or worse, on the floor!  She is so shocked when this happens that we can't help but be amused. We continue to perservere.

 

Her first 'sentence' was "Want Mommy bye-bye" (an effort to get out of bedtime).  Her favourite signed word is definitely "want".  Her favourite spoken word is either "uh oh" or "tick tock".  Tick Tock has been around longer, but she does delight in dropping things and then saying "uh oh". Sometimes she says "uh oh" before she drops things deliberately...

 

She's very excited about getting to do things.  Colouring, reading, going for a walk, going swimming, going to the park, playing with cars, playing house...  Strollers are still a favourite toy as well.  This can be embarrassing to explain to strangers at the park!  She'll go over to another kid's stroller and climb in if left unattended.  Although she's very capable of making a big mess, she's also very big on tidying things up, sorting and putting things away.  Daddy loves how her personality is emerging.  He says she's really becoming a little individual.



   



A few visits ago, Great Aunt Muriel gave Elizabeth a set of Baby Einstein Alphabet board books to read.

 

It's become fashionable to diss the Baby Einstein brand around here (especially after that whole video fiasco) but I must confess that I am turning into a big fan of their books and dishes.  What's not to love?  They are the folks who made Erika's beloved sippy cup (NOT toaster oven safe...), Elizabeth's favourite spoons and Elizabeth's snack bowl.  I love the bright colours and the fact that green is a frog.

 

So I was probably predisposed to like the board books.  Sure, the container is really annoying and the animals on the front are either really obscure or don't always start with the featured letter.  The letter X shows a remarkable lack of imagination by the authors.  X is for ... X?  Really?  But those quibbles aside, these are really wonderful little books and it's unexpectedly hilarious watching Elizabeth play with them.

 

There are only three words per book, which is great for this short-attention-span age.  They don't take up a lot of space, but there are enough to make fetching each individual book amusing.  The best part though is that Elizabeth is starting to do actions for each letter.  "N is for Nose" has a picture of a baby pointing to the mommy's nose.  So Elizabeth points to your nose.  "H is for Hand" gets her to wiggle her hands at you.  "H is for Hat" gets her to clasp her hands on her head to show you where the hat goes.  "C is for Clock" starts Elizabeth rocking back and forth saying tick tock.  "O is for Owl" - Elizabeth hoots.  It's pretty funny.



   



Elizabeth and I are ever so slowly working our way through *all* of the museums in the Ottawa area (it's my New Year's resolution!).

 

Next on my list was Logan Hall, the NR Can Geological Survey of Canada's display of some of the rocks, minerals, fossils, meteorites and ores in their collection.  Logan Hall is free to visit and since it is located across from Dow's Lake we decided to walk.  Elizabeth would have liked to walk too but settled for riding in her stroller. I don't think Elizabeth is ready to walk along Carling! Auntie Yukiko, Erika and Maria joined us for our adventure. 

 

I remember visiting Logan Hall as a high school student with my mom, and if my memory is sound they've really improved things in the last decade. Back then I remember badly lit and everything feeling very makeshift.  Today, Logan Hall is basically a large room filled with glass cases containing rocks, minerals, fossils, meteorites and ores.  It's completely unsupervised and obviously doesn't get a lot of visitors.  When we were there we had the entire place to ourselves which was quite nice.

 

A large chunk of the Canadian Shield is embedded in the floor near the entrance, which the kids really enjoyed crawling on.  Sir William Logan (the founder of the Geological Survey of Canada) is sitting on the floor in front of his tent working on writing down what he learned about that day.  I hasten to add that it was a giant doll version of Sir William Logan, not Sir William Logan himself.  All around the room there were pictures and little biographies of famous geologists.  This one is famous for travelling a mindboggling distance across Labrador by foot (I can't remember the exact distance but it was tens of thousands of km).  That one wrote a children's book about geology.   Erika was surprised to learn that the first geologists didn't travel by train, plane or car.

 

There was a giant meteor resting on the floor at the back of the room.  If I understood the card correctly, it was the largest meteor ever recovered in Canada.  Yukiko and I felt it must be very dense to be as heavy as it claimed!  Actually the meteor section was pretty interesting to me but the kids were ready to move to the other side of the room to see the shiny rocks long before I could read even a fraction of the material. 

 

I'm not sure Erika even really understood my explanation of what a meteor is, either.  While trying to explain, I realized two things:

  1. the idea of burning rocks falling from the sky is actually kind of frightening.  
  2. I don't know that much about meteors.

Auntie Mary: "This rock fell from the sky, Erika."

Erika: "Why?"

Auntie Mary: "..."

 

At one end there is a giant railway cart and a mural showing the mouth of a gold mining operation.  We took a couple of the pieces of rock down to show Erika where gold might come from.  She was interested but obviously couldn't see how a chunk of rock would become gold.  Apparently the video kiosk showed how to pan for gold but it was out of service. Based on the description online, I had hoped that the panning for gold was an interactive, hands-on exhibit.  Such an exhibit would have grabbed Erika's attention for sure!

 

Although the exhibits were mostly aimed at an older audience, Erika was quite interested in the birthstone exhibit.  It helped that we could connect almost every month to a family member.  She was especially happy to see her own birthstone!

 

My end conclusion is that Logan Hall makes a good diversion for kids of all ages, especially if you are already in the area.  Most kids would be more engaged by the Museum of Nature (it has the bulk of the Geological Survey of Canada collection), but if you are really interested in rocks it's a good place to find out a bit more.  I'd say that Logan Hall is primarily aimed at upper elementary, high school and adult audiences.  We completely ignored the architecture, but the Geological Survey building itself is billed as a geological exhibit.  I may have to go back to see!



   

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