Pregnant women in Canada are supposed to get an ultrasound between 18 and 20 weeks, and so I duly booked an appointment with our favourite ultrasound clinic for 18 weeks and 5 days. Both midwife and clinic were very anxious to have me arrive prior to 20 weeks - I guess there are some things that are easiest to see during that time range.
I am quite aware that the main purpose of this ultrasound is to check on baby's growth, but we were very much hoping to also find out baby's gender. We like to name our children as soon as possible - those of you who like a surprise have all my respect, but I feel strongly that all people deserve a name as soon as it is possible to give them one. Turns out it's also more difficult for me to bond with a genderless infant - while I try hard not to make assumptions about Elizabeth's behaviour based solely on her gender, I do find that gender helps, particularly when child is literally inside and therefore not all that easy to observe.
Imagine my outrage to discover that the clinic now has a policy *not* to disclose gender prior to 20 weeks, because of "gender based abortions". Not that they mentioned this in advance or anything!
If baby hadn't cooperated that would have been one thing, but the ultrasound technician obviously knew the gender, so the refusal to disclose gender really annoyed me. It's particularly annoying because I was given a hard time about declining IPS "What if the baby has Down's? You won't know until it's too late to abort", but I'm not allowed to know the gender because I might abort if I don't like it? Talk about a double standard!!! Furthermore, even if gender-based abortions are really a big problem here in Ottawa, I still don't believe that this justifies withholding information from the patient.
Apparently some Canadian politicians think that giving out this information should be banned at all clinics and hospitals across Canada. I think that this is an extremely paternalistic attitude. Address the problem at the abortion level if necessary! If it succeeds, the result will be that women who want to know the gender will either wait until 20 weeks for this ultrasound, or they will go for extra ultrasounds. Turns out that the number of ultrasounds has risen dramatically since I had Elizabeth; our midwives say it's become quite common for them to come back "incomplete" as ultrasound clinics, due to worries about liability. No wonder our health care costs are rising!
Nora (whom Elizabeth's doll is named after) has been clamoring for Elizabeth to come and visit her in Boston for quite some time now. So after going through the required hoops (actually getting our act together, applying and obtaining passports, picking a date, etc...) we finally had everything we needed together and were ready to leave the country for the first time with Elizabeth. We ended up driving about the same distance as it is to visit all the great Aunts and Uncles since Elizabeth travels well by car and it was much cheaper than flying. The drive down was quite pretty and we all enjoyed listening to Charlie and the Chocolate factory in the car (minus a few fits by a certain small person in protest of some of the more ridiculous moments). Upon arrival Elizabeth was so tired that she actually fell asleep without eating super even though it was not all that late. Luckily she had snacked quite a bit in the car and didn't wake up in the middle of the night starving hungry.
The next day after breakfast we visited the New England Aquarium. It was really neat to walk along the harbour front and see the Atlantic ocean. The girls had a blast chasing each other around and even seemed to enjoy some of the wildlife at the aquarium. The main feature though were the divers in the main tank who were working on some underwater maintenance items. Afterward we headed over to Legal Sea Foods for lunch and then back home for a nap before checking out the local park. Somewhere in there the girls also did their best to wear a track into the floor by going around the first floor in circles one after the other on toy cars.
Sunday we visited the Science museum, a gluten free pizza joint and then a park with some enormous slides. Monday morning we headed out bright and early to find our way back home. Elizabeth and Nora both missed each other and are angling for a repeat visit (how about next weekend Mommy?)...
I got slightly overexcited about my garden this year, planning things out in advance and ordering seeds online. Elizabeth had a garden unit as part of the "school" stuff we've been doing, so we thought that it would be educational to see many different sizes of seeds actually growing into plants.
One thing led to another. We needed a grow light so the tomato seedlings wouldn't be so spindly and sickly looking. Then I decided I needed pretty raised beds and new dirt. Eventually I did get things planted in the garden and not much later than you are "supposed" to around here because the tomato plants growing too big for their starting pots gave me the extra sense of urgency I apparently need.
I planted peas, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, beans, basil, peppermint, sweet peppers, hot peppers, pumpkin and maybe sixteen tomato plants (I couldn't bear to throw any of the seedlings away!). We also planted flowers - marigolds, begonias, geraniums, celosia, sunflowers, summer icicles and a few other flowers from seed that sprouted and were promptly gobbled up by some spoilsport who didn't wait to see how beautiful they looked.
It was a hot, dry summer, so the peas were not very successful. Our lawn died (it's partly recovered but we need to buy new grass seed that wasn't cooked!) I didn't know about planting the onions in loose soil, so they grew from tiny into barely big enough to be worth peeling. I suspect the potatoes and sweet potatoes are on the small side for the same reason, but haven't actually harvested them yet - so we'll have to wait and see. The pumpkins produced dozens of flowers and no pumpkins. The hot peppers produced many many green peppers and two ripe ones. I'm not sure if the season will be long enough to let them ripen, but then again we don't really eat THAT many hot peppers! The cucumbers started out wildly successful and we did get quite a lot of them to eat. But sadly for my hopes of pickles we were invaded by nasty cucumber bugs and that was the end of the cucumbers and the vines. Next year I'm going to try protecting the cucumbers with radish plants. It's supposed to help...
Does that sound like garden disaster? It wasn't really. That pile of tomatoes on the counter? One day's worth. I filled at least four buckets full, then canned more than 18 pints (I think about a 1/3 of my jars were quarts). We had bags of beans too. Elizabeth is old enough to help pick beans, though she does have a tendency to eat them rather than putting them into the pot. She's also old enough to help with the canning. Her favourite part was peeling the skins.
We finally got around to celebrating Uncle Dave's birthday. Elizabeth was super excited because Xander has a paddling pool in his backyard. So she asked nicely if she could bring her swimsuit and Uncle Dave even warmed up the water for her.
Xander went swimming too. Then Uncle Dave and later Erika and Maria. Elizabeth had said she was only going for a short swim but she ended up staying in the water longer than anyone for once! I don't think there's any photographic evidence, but Grandma J and Auntie Janice were there - Chris and Yukiko had a concert in Gananoque so they missed out on the lovely supper. Sausages, ribs, corn, chocolate marshmallow peanut butter squares that I really need the recipe for and Dave's traditional "Death by Chocolate" birthday cake. Elizabeth was very relieved to see there were sufficient candles - it's apparently not a real party unless someone is blowing some candles out!
The girls decided they should play with Xander by pretending they were all babies too. They played follow the leader on all fours, with Xander being the leader, of course!