So Brendan went away for the weekend leaving me to cope as a single parent. Luckily I had my sister around to sit in front of a roaring fire and roast mini-marshmallows after Elizabeth went to bed.
I did miss him though. So much that I'm only just getting around to posting my photos from the weekend...
This wouldn't be a Canadian blog if I didn't talk about the weather sometimes.Our lovely +4 degree (celcius) temperatures having properly wrecked the canal, the temperatures have plummeted down to -22 (-33 with the wind!) and we're experiencing gusts up to 50km / hour. Auntie Janice was nearly swept off her feet a couple of times as she walked home. She kept her footing but our garbage cans made a run for it down the driveway and had to be sternly walked back.
Midday Elizabeth and I were minding our own business puttering around in the kitchen when all of a sudden it got very dark. To her great glee, Elizabeth has recently learned how to turn on and off light switches, so she looked around to see who turned out the lights. So did Mommy. Apparently Ottawa was in the midst of a sudden snow squall. It lasted only a couple of minutes but was very intense while it lasted (these are during and after pictures).
Since it is definitely winter, we're getting more serious about Elizabeth's winter gear. She's starting to tolerate the hat and we have figured out how to get the mittens on. Unfortunately she's figured out how to take the mittens off again so we usually end up with one mitten on and the other one off. She'd like to take the boots off too but our wonderful winter boots have two drawstrings which have so far outsmarted her. They were a present from my Aunt Mary who lives in Pangnirtung, Nunavut; I guess they know about winter clothing for babies up there!
We're lucky enough to live really close to the world's largest natural skating rink, Ottawa's Rideau Canal. At 7.8 km long, we can't claim to be the longest anymore since Winnipeg's Forks measures nearly a kilometer longer. Not that Ottawans are bitter about that or anything. Of course, I've never quite understood why the Austrian Weissensee doesn't count.
In any case, skating on the canal is a lot of fun and so last Saturday we headed out for our inaugural skate. The ice was beautiful, and the weather unusually warm and sunny. (The weather was actually so warm the canal had to be closed shortly thereafter but plummeting temperatures mean that part of it is opening again early Saturday morning.)
It was just perfect for Elizabeth's and Maria's first time on the canal though. I can't tell you whether they approved since they basically slept through it. We only had one stroller for two babies so I carried Elizabeth in her sling. Erika has made an enormous amount of progress in her skating since last year but still feels unsteady on her feet and I obviously had to be extremely careful with Elizabeth so we just skated around Patterson's Creek a few time away from the main skateway and all the scary people. I was glad we didn't go far as I got tired really quickly. I'm blaming that entirely on Elizabeth (extra weight!) rather than being horrendously out of shape. At least I hope that's the case!
When my parents left for Portugal, they left behind rather a lot of salt. Popcorn salt, coarse salt, pickling salt and several lifetime supplies of table salt. There was some joking about preserving the "family salt"; keeping it and passing it down for generations to come...
But then I recalled that homemade playdough uses a lot of salt and decided that this would be an ideal opportunity to introduce Elizabeth to the joys of modelling. We don't allow wheat flour in our house so I found a gluten-free playdough recipe online (my favourite source actually has a whole series of playdough recipes both gluten-free and not; as well as edible and non-edible) and duly poured 1/2 cup of rice flour, 1/2 cup of corn starch, 1 tsp of oil and a cup of water into my pot. I added 2 tsp of cream of tartar (this apparently makes the playdough last longer - I suppose it could be omitted if you weren't planning to store the dough), and started stirring.
"What about the salt?" My husband asked, who was watching with interest. Whoops! Luckily it wasn't too late to add it, although Brendan was disappointed by how little salt the recipe called for. I gather he had visions of significantly reducing our salt stockpile rather than the 1/2 cup it actually needs.
It took a bit longer than the advertised five minutes, but eventually my dough came together in a beautifully white lump of modelling clay. And then I realized I should have already added the food colouring. Luckily we were able to work the colour through the dough after the fact. It took about 12 drops of green to get the colour I wanted and I was really pleased with how the dough even felt like the "real" commercial playdough. Except for being nice and warm from all the cooking...
We tried to get Elizabeth to actually make something but quickly gave up and concentrated on learning not to eat our art supplies. She loved watching mom make worms and dad make snowmen, and kind of caught on to the idea of poking finger holes into the dough. But mostly she just liked the feel of the dough, spending quite a long time shredding it and then packing it all into the container and then taking it out again and shredding it again.
I was very glad I opted to make my own gluten-free playdough instead of buying some because otherwise I would have been poisoned for sure. We were still picking bits of dough out of her (second) set of clothes and under her fingernails hours later!
Continuing my back-dating ways. Yesterday (Jan 24 2010) Elizabeth woke up from her afternoon nap crying and continued pretty much continously for five and a half hours. She was so miserable. Then she farted and was perfectly happy again. THIS is the stuff my mom neglected to tell me about parenthood...
Here's Elizabeth learning the way of "infant massage" at Baby Sensory this week. Note how she is rather far away from Mommy, who figured that holding down screaming child on her back in order to learn massage techniques would rather defeat the purpose. Elizabeth's a strange mix of clingy due to fairly extreme separation anxiety and happily independent. Grandma J thinks the secret is that the independence has to be Elizabeth's idea rather than Mommy's idea.
So I'm looking for ideas on helping Elizabeth cope with being looked after by others. It's not that I want to abandon my child to strangers; it just would be nice if she wouldn't wail like the world is ending when Mommy needs to have both hands free (or even an hour to herself!). Daddy, Auntie Janice and Grandma H are acceptable in a pinch but with Grandma H in Portugal it would be nice if Elizabeth would learn to play nicely with a few more people!
Elizabeth has learned several new skills this week, mostly in the How to open cupboard doors and Unscrew sippy cup lids departments. Good thing that we don't give her juice!