June 15, 2014
Happy Father's Day

I could start this year's Father's day post by simply repeating what I said last year...

"Father's day opened with breakfast in bed (Daddy got to sleep in!) After church we headed to Grandma and Grandpa J's for palatschinken and marillenknoedel."

Except that I don't think Daddy got attacked by his children last year with quite the same ...vim. Elizabeth had secret surprises from school that she was very keen to give him. I finally got around to making Grandpa Christian's Christmas present. Daddy got a matching one for Father's day. I had thought about making a whole bunch of shirts at the same time but turns out two is my limit given my children's current ...enthusiasm.

Matthew really liked the chocolate palatchinken. So did his shirt. And pants. And every surface nearby. We forgot a change of clothes, so he spent the rest of the afternoon running around in just a diaper.

We celebrated Uncle Chris' birthday too with a sachertorte immediately afterwards. I don't think anyone ate much supper!

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June 12, 2014
Vote Ontario

Brendan and I feel strongly that it is important to vote. We hope to pass this on to our children and have brought them with us to every single voting opportunity - municipal, provincial and federal. In the next year it looks like we get to do all three, and first up was the Ontario provincial election.

Elizabeth was interested in knowing how Mom and Dad make up our minds about who to vote for (though she really felt that HER name should be on the ballot... eep) I explained that we listened to the promises each candidate made and then decided. Figuring that she'd be most interested and able to understand those promises relating to education, I read her a few.

She didn't think much of the idea to cut kindergarden class ratios from 2:26 to 1:20. (We didn't think much of that idea either!) But I was surprised that she wasn't interested in the promise of adding an extra hour of physical activity. "I like the amount of 'recrée' [recess] I get NOW" she said firmly. "If I had more then I wouldn't have enough time for 'do-do' [naptime]"

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June 11, 2014
Sixteen Months

At sixteen months everything is a challenge to be climbed. When I was a kid, I remember climbing on top of our fridge or my wardrobe so I could scare my mother. At the time I thought it was funny. Now I think an apology might be in order. He can climb onto our bed. He can climb into Elizabeth's top bunk of her bed. He can climb up and reach the stovetop. Basically nothing is safe anymore...

One compensation is that Matthew has started napping again, especially if we put him into the car at a strategic time...  Perhaps this is partly because he isn't sleeping all that well at night. He's been growing all the rest of his teeth (four at a time really shouldn't be allowed). It's pretty sad - he signs hurt, hurt, hurt while pointing at his mouth. Then "all done". It got bad enough that he stopped eating for a few days - even turned down chocolate (!)

He is definitely not a breakfast person. We struggle to get him to eat anything in the morning, though he sometimes will eat grapes, bananas, rice or corn on the cob. What? You don't feed YOUR kids corn on the cob for breakfast?

Actually in general he seems to be getting pickier but then from time to time - surprise! he suddenly eats a previously rejected food. He loves his nori and eats meat and fish quite reliably along with rice and many vegetables. Loves chocolate too - but won't even taste many things that look "different" so even something chocolate might get rejected. He hates ice cream (is this my kid?!) because it is too cold. He doesn't even like chocolate mousse (texture?)

He's getting more into pretend play. A favourite game is "bedtime". He will read you a story and cover you up with the blanket. It takes a very long time to get the blanket arranged to his satisfaction!

His favourite toy is a pretend drill - he especially likes to take apart the air conditioning vent and pretend to "fix" it. He likes to take it for walks in the little pink stroller - partly because Elizabeth does NOT trust him with babies or animals. I gather he dumped the stroller one too many times...

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June 8, 2014
Doors Open Ottawa

This year we went to the Ottawa Curling Club, the Parkdale food centre and the Chaudière Falls Generating Station No. 2 (and yes, we have already been to the generating station in 2012 but Elizabeth wanted to go back) on Saturday and Rogers TV.

The Ottawa Curling Club was probably our favourite. I was surprised by how much early Ottawa history is tied into that building. I was also surprised to discover that it's quite the bustling place in winter time - hundreds of members! I was disappointed not to see things in action, but being summertime there was no ice! We did get to see their extensive collection of silver tea sets and medallions. Apparently way back a Governor General was one of the first patrons and donated a number of trophies. I got to hold the "other" Stanley cup claimed to be the original! (They have the original Grey cup too!)

A couple of random things our guide told us that I found particularly interesting:
There's special granite for curling - it is imported from Scotland and Wales When it was hard to come by, they used iron to be cheaper.
The rocks weigh 40lbs!!!
There are special lightweight rocks for kids, but this club has no kids program (no one wanted to teach them)
The shoes are cool too. Only one has any grip - the other is special for sliding on the ice.
There's an attached apartment which used to be for the ice maker. These days it houses several students who also work at the curling club at the bar or looking after the ice.
Rich lumber baron Joseph Currier donated the Currier cup. He had three wives The first wife is the tragic ghost of Manotick mill. His second wife died too. So when he married a third time he built her a mansion which he called "the place of peace" This mansion is now known as 24 Sussex (the prime minister's residence!).

After the curling club we headed over to the food bank. I was surprised to discover that it was more a community resource centre than the depot of non perishable goods I'd imagined.

In fact, they run frequent cooking classes of 12-14 people to learn how to prepare the donations and to provide a community experience. First time attendees get a crockpot and maybe some utensils. The food bank welcomes cookbook donations.

There is an emphasis on education, making people feel worthy. Our guide told us repeatedly that it was important to them that their clients feel helped, not judged.

There was not a lot of canned food visible either. Lots of halal meat and other frozen stuff, sometimes cheese and butter... They try to give out real (liquid) milk instead of milk powder. They apparently prefer real fresh food to canned stuff and won't give out things like pop. They also don't give out items like dried beans if the recipient has no way (or desire) to prepare them.

They are shortly moving to a new building at which time they will give people points and let them go "shopping" on their shelves. The treats will "cost" more than the healthy food - I think this is brilliant.

They also have a good food box program that anyone can buy (30 are sponsored).

The actual emergency food covers only 5 days once a month, though if really needed they can get a second order for an additional 3 days. That's not a lot, is it? 700 people a month in the island park area rely on this, 30 are babies. They give out disposable diapers, but a 5 day supply is only 7 diapers!

You might have thought this location was not super kid friendly, but Elizabeth and Matthew actually enjoyed it very much because we arrived just as they were taking enormous sugar cookies out of the oven!!! Yum!

We peeked into the Orthodox Russian church down the street but unfortunately it wasn't open yet and the kids had swimming so we couldn't wait. After swimming class we headed to the generating station - this was Elizabeth's request. We were too late for a tour, but enjoyed bumping into friends Jono & Jill and family. We got to see most of them get a bucket lift - brilliant idea Hydro Ottawa had there! Elizabeth wished she was taller. Maybe next year!

We watched the safety demo again without hysterics this year. I learned how to exit a car that has a downed power line nearby. It's best to stay put of course, but if the car is about to explode, then cross your arms, and shuffle or hop 10 m away. Essentially you are turning yourself into a bird sitting on an electrical wire :)

We had ballet (and Elizabeth's fifth baptismal birthday), so that was the end of our Doors Open Ottawa that day. But after church on Sunday we went to see the Rogers community programming TV station, primarily because it promised face painting. Luckily I did not mention this to Elizabeth in advance, since there was no sign of any such activity. In fact, I don't think the presentation was particularly well geared to kids, especially since we had to listen to quite a long spiel and wait a long time in between rooms. Matthew had had enough by the last station and so I was destined not to find out anything about their TV truck...

I did find it quite fascinating to wander their set. We were amused by what was real and what was fake. Some drawers in the kitchen opened, and some did not - in particular things are arranged so that you are never tempted to turn your back to the camera. We got a chance to play with their camera and see the super fancy editing software. We played with their green screen. We oogled the amusing things they keep in storage. Elizabeth was thrilled to get colouring sheets, a tiny ball and a Frisbee out of the deal. But curling was still her favourite.

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June 7, 2014
Fifth Baptism Birthday

We try to celebrate baptismal birthdays over here, though some years we celebrate later than others!

Usually we get the godparents together for a meal, cake, a baptism-related bible passage, prayer and the lighting of the baptism candle.

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