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July 31, 2010

It's the Rideau Canal Festival and Chamberfest, and Musical Breeze!


Dianne, David and baby Aidan came along again.  This year we managed to drag Daddy, Auntie Janice, Auntie Yukiko and cousin Erika along as well.  The weather was beautiful.


The parade seemed less well attended than last year and although there were a couple of tandem bikes none of the unicycles or penny farthings came.  Daddy and Auntie Janice thought it was amusing, but it would work better on a bike.  They had a point!  The bikes left in waves, and our little group of walkers joined the second group but were quickly left behind.


We missed most of the music from the first station, a duet between an accordian and saxophone player, but we did get to listen to the sax and bicycle bell piece.


We could have spent a LOT more time at the second station.  Called the "Metal Garden", this station consisted of all kinds of metal percussion instruments. I think it would be great fun to have a permanent version of this, although perhaps not too close to my house...  The members of the parade were all invited to make a joyful noise - so we did!  I had great fun whacking a sponge-like paddle on the top of plastic tubes, although one might wonder what this particular 'instrument' was doing in a so-called metal garden!  Brendan liked the big gong.  Elizabeth seemed to like the cylinder that roared like a lion.  Janice really liked the singing metal wires.  It looked like a drying rack, but when you wet your fingers and ran them along the wires it made a beautiful singing noise like when you run a wet finger along a crystal glass.  Actually, we enjoyed this one so much that we arrived at the next station well after our group had left.  Luckily there was a group behind us too so we didn't miss anything.


Up next?  Two throat singers from way up northern Quebec, apparently as far north as is possible in Quebec. It was pretty interesting.  Apparently it's usually a game between the two singers.  They are supposed to look at each other and hold each other's arm - the first person to stop or laugh loses.  One person often acts as a leader and the other as the echo, but not all songs involve them doing the same thing. They sang about mosquitos and treated us to a throat singing competition before inviting Auntie Janice up to try herself (BRAVE GIRL!).  Janice couldn't believe how chicken everyone else was - the throat singers tried pretty hard to convince "someone male" to try too but there were no takers.  "How about you sir?" one asked.  "Absolutely not", the man replied. 


We didn't want to lose the bicycles this time, so Erika and Elizabeth were delighted to have a stroller race from the throat singers to the fourth station, a "percussion cube" full of plastic buckets and buffet serving trays, played by last year's canoe paddle guy and his group - Jesse Stewart!  The percussion cube made an appearance during Winterlude too, but with ice instruments.  After the group played, Jesse invited the parade to try out the cube.  Many took him up on the offer with great enthusiasm.


Last stop was city hall, just around the corner.  We were welcomed by a group of drummers and a fantastic bunch of xylophone guys.  Elizabeth and Aidan enjoyed a shared snack break together and then we headed home to some nice ice cream.


July 30, 2010

Elizabeth is now 17 months old.  She weighs 8.5kg and is somewhere between 82 and 85 cm tall.


She still loves reading, looking after her "behbees", drawing, typing on the computer and playing with cars, but her style of play is getting noticeably more complex.  She's communicating a lot more too and we're starting to feel like we're having actual conversations. 


"Shhhh..." she'll say, pointing to her dolly.  "Is your  baby sleeping?" I'll ask?  "No" she says.  "Baby" then signs hurt.  "Your baby is hurt?" I say.  "Ya" she says.  Then she picks up the doll and throws it on the floor.  Hurt head, she signs.  "Waaa" she says. "Poor baby", I say.  "You'd better pick her up and give her a kiss."  So she does.  Such violence would be worrisome except that Erika did exactly the same thing, so we just think it's funny.


This is such a cute age and I'd totally want to freeze right here... except that it also includes temper tantrums...  Frustrated, angry, overtired or even randomly in the wee hours of the night she'll throw herself wailing onto the floor and have a completely stereotypical meltdown including flailing limbs and thumping her feet (okay, so wee hours of the night was once but 4:30 am!!!)


Speaking of sleep, Elizabeth is now mostly sleeping in her own "big girl" room.  She usually goes to bed sometime after 7pm, but wakes up to pee (and nurse) around 11pm.  She then wakes up at 5:30 or 6:00am, but I can usually coax her back to sleep for another few hours if I let her nurse a bit.  The last week or so she's been bothered quite a lot by her teeth, waking up crying and signing about how her mouth hurts.  Massaging her gums seems to help, but mostly she just wants to nurse -all- night.  The good news is that her last molar for now is poking through.  Maybe she'll get a break for a few months soon.


July 29, 2010

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!


July 26, 2010

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:

  1. Sit on the bottom of the canoe with her sitting on my lap.  This keeps weight lower which is especially important when wrestling to keep her in the boat.
  2. Let her nurse the entire time.  It turns out that it is possible to nurse a baby wearing a lifejacket, while Mom is wearing a one piece swimsuit, a lifejacket and paddling a canoe.

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.


July 24, 2010

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!


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