Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ontario in the summer is just as hot and sticky as Washington, DC. Fortunately, we're staying at a hotel with air-conditioning -- unfortunately, the unit's three cool settings include "teeth-chatteringly cold," "toe-numbingly cold," and "swelter."

We've been here since Sunday and we're scheduled to leave this evening. We'd all like to stay another day, and that's the mark of a good visit.

Jacqui's been having an excellent time. She chases Sharou (my in-laws' schipperke), she plays in the swimming pool, she eats corn-on-the-cob -- holding it banana-like, insistantly without assistance -- and just about everything else she's offered. Last night we ate dinner at a local bistro, and she was so happy that she gave me a big slobbery kiss on the nose. When we left the restaurant, she walked hand-in-hand with her grandma up the sidewalk to the car.

There's more, but now we're running out for our last day with the Ontarioans.

Friday, July 22, 2005

a good day to be a baby

We do own a television set; we just never turn it on. We rarely even use the room it lives in, because during the winter it's just too cold down there, and then that space becomes a vortex, sucking in laundry, receipts, stuff that we intend to donate when we get around to it, more laundry, and garden gnomes.

When it's hot enough outside to melt your eyeballs, that space is nearly warm enough to not cause frostbite. So it would make sense that we'd clean it up and USE it during the summer, and we would, if we didn't have a baby to focus on and if all of the really important stuff in our house -- the kitchen, the puppies, the laptop -- didn't live on ground-level.

So for the past week or so, mostly because we need clean clothes and only partially because my dad & stepmother planned a visit for today, Jacqui and I have been spending time down there washing and drying and folding (and flinging, if you're Jacqui) clothes, and stacking storage bins (of clothes I haven't quite decided to give away yet) and boxes and bags (of clothes I will give away as soon as I get around to it, unless I decide I really might need to keep them, which is why they are still vagrantly bumping up against each other in my basement) into room-height replicas of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Walking around in there is very exciting.

This morning we rediscovered the television just after I reintroduced Jacqui to her wonderful slightly-bigger-than-Jacqui-sized wooden rocking chair, which was a gift to her from my dad. And I did what has never been done in her tiny life: I turned on the television, and I found Elmo.

She squealed. She rocked in her chair, drinking milk and watching Elmo, for fifteen minutes. Today he was focused on feet; by the end of his time-slot, one baby-hand was tight around the sippy cup while her other hand hung onto her foot. He only scared her once, when he got very excited and talked very fast in his Elmo voice -- and NONE of us enjoy that.

Later, after I'd read There's a Wocket in my Pocket for the 18th time, we decided to go outside and play. She played on the deck with me for over an hour -- there are a couple of pictures up at showing her good time. Her daddy came home while we were out there, and he & she played while I ran the bath.

Because oh yes, she NEEDED a bath. Today was not only her first Elmo experience, but also it was the first time I could say to her, "You are filthy!" It felt great.

Bath, then food (macaroni and cheese -- this is how much I love her), and while she was chewing her noodles her head started to teeter a bit, while her eyes rolled up into her head, while I kept feeding her just-one-more-bite(s) of noodles ... and then I picked her up and she was out.

She laid on the floor asleep for over an hour. She woke up shortly before her grandpa arrived, and then we went out to dinner. She ate more noodles. And then? Then ... she had another first: she ate CAKE. Lynn, my dad's wife, makes wedding cakes -- and she's GOOD. She brought a couple of leftover tiny cakes she'd made for a function that happened yesterday, and Jacqui fell in love.

After the sugar-rush had worn off a bit, we left for home. She fell asleep in the car, Geoff took her upstairs, and still she snoozes.

I wonder what exciting thing will happen tomorrow. :)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

"that's a funny little dance ... "

Geoff had just started an mp3 playing that he wanted me to hear, and so when Jacqui started to do a little side-to-side dance, at first I thought she must really like the Gorillaz.

Two factors weighed against this hypothesis: she'd never danced to music on her own before, and her expression suggested the exact opposite of enjoyment.

I thought, that looks a LOT like the dance Boo did in Monsters, Inc, when she had to potty! Except Jacqui's only 15 months old -- maybe she just needs a fresh diaper. After I took off the not-very-wet-at-all diaper, she escaped from the changing pad and crouched on her ankles, looking at me. Then she stood back up -- and I saw the wet spot on the carpet.

And that's when I remembered that yesterday she made that same face and picked at her diaper right before she dirtied it.

So I think this weekend we're going to buy a potty chair. She may not be talking, but she's definitely growing up.

Monday, July 04, 2005

in which a baby and her mommy and her daddy all have a very good day indeed

For the past fortnight, give or take a moonlit evening, Jacqui has fallen asleep around 9:30pm and slept through until 8am, and that's what happened again last night. She had an entire scrambled egg and one whole pancake for breakfast, along with her giant 10-oz cup of milk, and then we played Let's Walk Up the Stairs and Let's Walk Down the Stairs and Let's Read Every Book in Jacqui's Room and Let's Try Not to Scream Too Loud When We Change the Diaper. It was a good morning.

Geoff slept in a bit, which is fair since he's been letting me sleep every morning for the past ... oh, year or so. When he joined us in the Land of Nearly Awake at 9:30, it was just after Jacqui had dragged me and her diaper bag to the front door for the twelfth time. I love a word that ends in "fth", yes I do.

I had a lovely shower, and then Ms Dapper-in-a-Sunsuit and I drove to Accotink Park. She napped in the car for almost an hour and then we played! What actually happened was this: we went over to the playground, and I hovered over her like some kind of overprotective MOTHER or something because there were so many other kids all running around and climbing all over the equipment, and she kind of clung to me. And then, I backed off. And THEN she had a great time. The other kids loved her -- there were these adorable four-year olds coming up and patting her head, or putting their hands on her cheeks, and I successfully squelched the impulse to pull out my machete, and she had so much fun climbing where she could climb and sliding where she could slide and standing there, grinning as big as she could grin while she watched the other kids run around and yell their kidly yells and play their kidly games.

We stayed for nearly two hours, even though I was melting after only five minutes in that sun. Some people don't perspire, or if they do it's so gently you'd never notice. I don't perspire either -- I sweat, and even though I don't reek of it because I know how to bathe and perfume myself, there is no disguising the fountain that my body becomes in weather over 85F. (Note: Jacqui and I were both coated in #50 sunblock, and only her head sweats. She maintained perfect decorum otherwise. ;)

Then we stood in line for ice cream and water, and that's when I discovered the one place in the entire United States that is not trying to make a profit. The concession stand doesn't sell bottled water -- she sold me a cup of ice water for 10 cents. And I made a tremendous sacrifice -- entirely unappreciated -- for Jacqui by buying an orange-ice instead of ice cream, because all of the ice cream involved chocolate; Jacqui was only interested in the paper wrapper after it was empty, which means that I had to eat all of it by myself. I do not enjoy frozen fruit-flavored water -- there's no CHOCOLATE in that. AND the girl who sold it to me had to laugh because you know, honestly, I was expecting to pay $1.50 for a bottle of water and at least that for ice cream, and all I had was a $20, and my total was 85 cents.

We got home at about 4:30, just after Geoff had finished his shower, and the baby and I changed into fresh clothes and we went out AGAIN, the three of us, to a friend-of-Geoff's house for a July 4 "Backyard Burn-Down" party. And it was FUN! There were two other kids there, both a little older than Jacqui, and they all played and had a great time. Our hosts had set up a kiddie-pool where the three of them splashed (mostly independently of each other), and their other guests were fun to listen to. (We're good at being audience, which lots of people seem to appreciate.)

And around 8pm, before the sun had really set but also before the kids would've needed to go to bed, Dave started setting off the fireworks.

I have never been a true fan of fireworks. Call me crazy, but setting things on fire in your backyard -- or even in your municipal park, if you happen to be a government entity -- and not just fire but noise, BIG NOISE, and noxious fumes and smoke -- none of these things tempt me, regardless of how many hotdogs and bottles of beer you may have ingested to prepare yourself for lighting the fuses.

But this was actually fun! Geoff and Jacqui and I sat in their hammock-on-a-frame a little apart from everyone else. This wasn't intentional; it's just where we happened to be when Dave said "Okay!" and brought out the fireplace lighter. He started lighting fuses, and I made an important discovery: fireworks are like swimming pools.

I have never really enjoyed swimming pools, because I don't swim. I can play in the shallows, if I can trust everyone involved not to splash me, but that's about the end of it. When Jacqui was born, I told Geoff I wanted to take her to swimming lessons as early as possible -- both for her sake AND for mine. Now Jacqui loves the water ... and I -- well, just don't splash me and we'll be fine. But I needed to see HER enjoying the water -- I need to know that she can have fun in it and not be afraid of it. And tonight, she LOVED the fireworks! She didn't like the loud noises, but she'd push my hands away every time the noises stopped so that she could turn her head and see the pretty lights again! By the time Dave lit the last fuse, she was clapping non-stop.

She was so happy. She'd clap, even as she rubbed her eyes -- it was 9pm, and she'd outlasted both of the other children.

We packed her into the car, she fell asleep during the 10-minute drive, and she's upstairs in her crib right now, sound asleep after an absolutely perfect day.

And that's what July 4 means to me.