Grandma J, Elizabeth and I went blueberry picking for the first time this year at Canaan Blueberries (the place we went last year is closed for the season already!) I showed Elizabeth how to pick blueberries, and Elizabeth demonstrated the same to her baby.
Canaan Blueberries was extremely well run. I guess they have to be very organized; there were literally hundreds of other blueberry pickers scooping berries off the bushes!
We took Elizabeth camping for the first time this weekend, and combined the adventure with her first canoe trip! We're lucky enough to live close to Gatineau Park and it's actually quite feasible to go on a 24 hour canoe trip.
It's not quite wilderness camping; the designated campsites come in clusters of two to four and there's a well-stocked outhouse with toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a real toilet seat. The park staff come by frequently to clean the outhouse and replenish the firewood supply.
However, there are fewer other people than you'd find car camping and the lake is very quiet.
You can't reserve a campsite unless you are staying for at least two days, but the lake was pretty empty and we had a choice of several sites.
Elizabeth enjoyed the canoe ride... but we were only about 30 metres from shore when the novelty wore off. "Done!" she announced. Canoeing with a toddler who wants to get out is about as tricky as it sounds. A snack kept her occupied for about five minutes. Looking at birds and trees bought us another five. "Helping" Mommy paddle might have been another few minutes but then she got serious about trying to get out of the canoe and had to be physically restrained. This was problematic because it was very windy and Brendan needed my help paddling in order to make any headway. The return trip was even windier but by then I'd already figured out a workable canoeing strategy.
Mary's guide to canoeing with Elizabeth:
Once at the campsite, Elizabeth explored everything from acorns to beetles. The best game ever? Throwing rocks into the lake and watching them splash.
From some perspectives, the campfire was a mistake. Elizabeth was totally fascinated by the fire and it was really difficult to keep her well away. Next time we'll wait to have the fire until closer to bedtime!
Bedtime was very easy. Elizabeth doesn't really like hanging out in our tent (and definitely not without Mommy) but she loved jumping on the sleeping bags and mattresses. She launched herself backwards with great abandon while giggling wildly until we decided enough was enough and tucked her in.
It's my New Year's resolution to visit all our Ottawa-area museums. The Cumberland Heritage Village Museum was celebrating Orleans' 150th anniversary this weekend, so Elizabeth and I thought it would be a good time to visit. We borrowed a free pass from the public library and off we went with friend Dianne and her son Aidan.
I was surprised by how few other visitors were there. It's a beautiful site and we had wonderful weather to match. We left our strollers in the car but it was quite a long walk around and the kids soon got tired. They enjoyed seeing all the animals (bunnies, chickens, goats, sheep, pigs, cows and ducks) and playing horseshoes outside the blacksmith. Often heritage village "smiths" aren't very knowledgeable; they heat metal, bang on it a few times and then cool it while talking about how hot the fire is. Of the ones I've talked to, most have never had a chance to learn from someone who knew what they were doing instead being forced to rely on books. This particular smith seemed much more confident and knowledgeable. He was creating little curls in the end of his metal. Apparently he's doing a special class next week and anyone who wants to learn can sign up!
The place is a lot smaller than Upper Canada Village (my gold standard for such places) and while we didn't get to all of the buildings what we did see was mostly outside. I was generally impressed with the staff, who were obviously enthused by their jobs. I'd never seen a player piano before, so the woman of the house promptly demonstrated for me. The pump man seemed like he had been making tamarack water pumps for decades with all his talk of petrified and swelling woods, but it turned out he's actually only been on the job for a few weeks! He gave us shavings from the wood borers - apparently they can be used in lieu of ice cream cones. Brendan is quite skeptical but Elizabeth immediately started pretending to "lick" it so it's a fun toy at least.
I was amused by the round-bottomed fire bucket used for bucket brigades. Flat-bottomed fire buckets got stolen because they were too useful for other purposes! They had firefighter uniforms to try on as well. I was really surprised by how thick and heavy they are. It's one thing to know something, and quite another to actually feel the weight and touch the fabric!
You'll notice I didn't take (many) pictures inside the buildings. I started to before being informed that they unfortunately can't allow interior photography anymore. Apparently other heritage sites have had problems with people taking pictures of the artifacts, posting them on ebay and then stealing the item if it sells.
All in all it was a fun afternoon's outing and I would definitely recommend it for a sunny day. Many weekends have special events especially for train aficionados, so we may even go back this year if we have time. So many museums... So little time!
I felt strangely tired this afternoon...
The day started with a leisurely walk to the library depot to pick up our book requests. Elizabeth slept most of the way but she woke up in time to go to Sylvia Holden park to play in the wading pool. It was a hot day but the water was still very cold, and Elizabeth did NOT approve. She spent the entire time clinging to Mommy and whimpering. Even the playful dolphins peekaboo-ing behind Mommy's back didn't help. "Done", she cried. "Done."
So we got out and went and played in the park down the street. The park itself is tiny and completely filled with sand toys. Quite aside from the playstructure, seesaws and swings, there were tractors, trucks, pails, shovels and two large play kitchens.
After lunch we met up with Auntie Yukiko and the girls at the Ontario Early Years Centre. The theme was "Under the sea" and "Babies". Guess which theme the girls liked best? We wanted a posed shot of all three of them but they were too busy playing to be very happy about this idea. Sigh.
Since we really, really wanted a posed shot of the girls, Yukiko and I took them to Clare Gardens park after playgroup was over. We took some almost fabulous shots. Oh well... we'll just have to try again.
Home for a quick bite of supper and then we headed out again. Mommy and Daddy dropped Elizabeth off at Auntie Yukiko and Uncle Chris's place to play for a while while Mommy and Daddy went on a date. We watched a movie about babies at the Mayfair. The topic seemed fitting! For those not in the know Babies is essentially a documentary following four children from birth through to early walking. The four children are from vastly different parts of the world (Namibia, Japan, US, Mongolia) and it was quite interesting to see how the cultural and social differences and similarities play out in these children's lives. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and would recommend it highly. After our date we headed back to pick up a happy but very sleepy Elizabeth and took her home to bed.
Elizabeth had her "fifteen" month checkup today. She weighs 8.46kg and was measured at 75cm, although they were pretty sure the height was wrong since Elizabeth was very uncooperative. We've measured her anywhere from about 78 to 85cm depending on how much she is wiggling...
I'm happy to report that the doctor didn't give me any flack for still breastfeeding, and eating issues aside Elizabeth is growing just fine. She's basically returned to where she would have been at had her weight curve continued without the dreaded late winter / early spring vomitfest. Happily we were even able to answer yes to all of the developmental questions they asked us. Who knew that scribbling and stacking blocks are similar? Or that walking isn't on the list of important developmental milestones yet?
When it came time for the shots and we all assumed our positions Elizabeth was clearly apprehensive. Some reassurance from Mommy and Daddy seemed to comfort her and a couple of stickers after the shots pretty much wiped away any remaining tears. What a brave girl!
In the evening we headed over to visit Auntie Yukiko and company to celebrate her recent birthday. The cousins had a tremendous time chasing each other around and shrieking. Much "indoor voice please" was heard and forgotten seconds later.
We also took the opportunity to record birthday wishes for Uncle Mark who is currently living overseas. We couldn't make him a cake but Erika drew him a beautiful one. Mark, apparently your cake is vanilla with strawberry chunks and next time you visit Erika says she'll bake it for you.