playmobil and puzzles

I’d say Elliot had a good day. He woke up to a pile of presents from Greg and I, Gran, my brother and my sister. You know your child is getting older when the vast majority of the gifts are things they can DO rather than WEAR. He played for a bit, we had breakfast (blueberry buttermilk pancakes) and then he played more. His Gran got him a Playmobil police car with a “wee-ooo, wee-ooo” light and that was a big hit.

For lunch we had a friend and her daughter over, and they brought more presents — a book and a set of three puzzles. The puzzles were opened right away. We had a tea party per Elliot’s request, complete with crustless sandwiches (that was my request). His Gramma and Auntie arrived during lunch bringing, guess what, more presents. Several were played with, and in the mid afternoon the last of the guests arrived, his Granddad and Dooze (my step-mother) and he made short work of opening their presents. He was one happy boy.

Amy did fairly well through the day. I had explained to her ahead of time that her time would come (thankfully soon). And I think it helped a bit that her Gran brought her a little something.

For dinner we had homemade pizza, again at the birthday boy’s request. And yesterday we made a robot cake together, and it turned out great. Both in looks and taste!

I had a really fun day. I somehow managed to get out of the cooking, both for lunch and dinner, thanks to my husband. And he makes a mean tuna sandwich and a mean pizza, so we ate well. I also managed to get out of any clean-up, due to the grandparents and again my husband. I’m not sure what I did all day!

It was lovely having all the grandparents there and one of Elliot’s aunties. It means a lot to me that they all travelled from out of town to be here on Elliot’s day.

And Elliot never left the house, which is one of his definitions of a good day. I really think he enjoyed himself.

five years in

Elliot turns five tomorrow. Tomorrow (or soon) I’ll post about the actual festivities and the very cool robot cake we made. For now, since I blog so much less about the kids these days, I want to capture a bit of what Elliot is like at four and 364 days.

He’s a different kid than he was two years ago. I used to feel like we had to walk on eggshells around him, waiting for the next bomb to go off. There are still bombs, but they are much less frequent and the aftermath isn’t nearly as traumatizing for me. I see him trying to gain control, using tools like drinking some water or holding on to his bopp. And I see myself walking towards him instead of storming away from him in anger. Often in the middle of his tears he’ll melt into my arms in a hug. And I can feel him physically calming down. And again, all this happens so much less frequently.

He’s still got his quirks. He refuses to wear anything but sweatpants or fleece pants, and shirts randomly seem be dropped and added to his small repertoire with no rhyme or reason (that I can figure out, anyway). But when there are “no pants that he likes” in his pants drawer I no longer anticipate a complete meltdown. Sometimes in these situations he’ll actually wear a pair of pants he doesn’t like, and other times we’ll grab something dirty from the laundry. I guess I’ve changed a bit, too.

A few weeks ago he started swimming lessons through daycare — the first time he’s done them on his own. A year ago I think it would have been a nightmare. Now, he’s loving them and apparently tries everything the instructor asks him to. I feel proud of him and I feel proud of Greg and I for trusting our gut and knowing when to push and when to let him be. We don’t always get it right, but I love that we pay attention to the boy that is Elliot.

He is a patient older brother, considering the physical abuse he gets from his sister. He loves teaching her things and his empathy when she’s feeling sad or has hurt herself is astounding. At the same time, he’s quick to tell her to “get out of my room, NOW”. I have witnessed a couple of moments recently where they’ve been doing something fun together that requires physical contact (like sitting in a sled together) and the look of pure joy on their faces is almost tear-enducing for me. I don’t know what their future holds in terms of their relationship, but I’m happy with the connection they have right now. Even with the abuse.

He makes us laugh almost daily. He has funny voices that he does and some of the phrases that come out of his mouth are priceless. Like this afternoon when he, Amy and Gran were playing in his room. After about 20 minutes he came downstairs by himself and announced to me “I’m done. Gran’s in charge now.”

He’s still a bear in the mornings and takes a good 20 minutes to wake up. The mornings go much better if he wakes up on his own and comes out of his room on his own time. Compare that to his sister who turns “on” in a matter of seconds. He has an amazing ability to know when he needs alone time, and will play quite happily in his room during these times.

My girlfriend’s daughter will be starting university in September of this year, the same time that Elliot is starting kindergarten. It makes me very aware of how fast the time flies, and how soon the preschool years will seem like ancient history. But that’s okay, because things just keep getting better as Elliot grows, explores and experiences the world.

I love him to bits and I hope he has a wonderful day tomorrow.

Ottawa 2011: happy to be on solid ground

We’re home. Our return trip was less gruelling than I thought it would be. And I learned a valuable lesson. You CAN get yourself on an earlier connecting flight without forking over cash. But only if you ask about this BEFORE your baggage goes on the conveyer belt. We had a four hour layover in Vancouver that I was not looking forward to (from 11:00 pm to 3:00 am Ottawa time). I was told by a seasoned traveller (no names mentioned) that changing our tickets would cost us $100 each ticket, so we weren’t going to bother. But when we checked in to the ticket desk in Ottawa I thought I’d ask the ticket agent just in case. Unfortunately my timing was TERRIBLE. I asked her about 30 seconds after our first bag had gone on the conveyer belt. Her response was, as she looked in the direction the bag had just gone, “well, you could have…”.

The ticket agent was very apologetic. She hadn’t noticed the long layover. And it turned out there were seats available on a flight that left two hours earlier. Grrrr. I was pretty mad at myself. I should have asked as soon as we walked up to the desk. Lesson learned.

The plane we were on from Ottawa to Vancouver had three seats on either side of the aisle. After a bit of debate we decided to put Greg and the kids in one row and then have me in the aisle seat next to them. I could have been flying without kids. I helped them pee a couple of times and chatted with Elliot for a bit, but other than that I did no childcare. I watched a movie and four episodes of Rookie Blue. I’ve never had a flight go by so fast, except for the 45 minutes of, as the pilot put it, “light chop” as we landed. If that was light chop I’d hate to see heavy chop. I feared for my life as my four-year-old yelled out “WHEEEE” repeatedly. He thought it was awesome.

We landed safely and I breathed a sigh of relief. Amy had fallen asleep about half way through the flight and had remained asleep through all the bumping. She remained asleep through the layover in Vancouver and didn’t wake up until we landed in Victoria. At which point, after sleeping for about eight hours, was feeling quite refreshed and I began panicking that she wouldn’t fall asleep when we got home. She did, but was up a lot and then up for the day at 6:30. She is currently passed out on the couch.

Elliot, on the other hand, stayed wide awake until we got in the car. So he was up until 3:30 in the morning. And slept for about six hours. And he is not asleep on the couch. Go figure.

We were warned that the flight from Vancouver to Victoria would also be bumpy (those of you who were in Victoria yesterday will recall how windy it was throughout the day). It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but the landing was pretty freaky. And right before we landed I recalled my sister’s story of landing in Victoria last year and having the pilot abort the landing at the last minute because of wind and then tell everyone he was going to “have another go”. I’m not sure I would have survived that. But survive we did.

During our last three days in Ottawa we had a great visit to the Children’s Museum, went for a swim at a local pool, and on Saturday spent an awesome three hours tobogganing at a local park.

It was a fantastic visit, and I think we’ll continue our annual Winterlude visits to Ottawa as long as we can — at some point school might get in the way.

Now back to real life.

Ottawa 2011: too busy to blog

This not having any kids who nap gig means there is not a lot of down time for blogging. And during this trip I finally introduced myself to Angry Birds. Last night I spent 90 minutes playing it instead of blogging. But I’m here now.

We had a short but good trip to visit my friend in Montreal. We came across a bit of snow both ways in the drive but thankfully it was at the tail end of the trip both times.

Wednesday night my sister treated me to a ticket to Cats. I’d seen it once before in Victoria but this time our seats were much better. It was absolutely fabulous.

Thursday we spent a lot of the day at home, but Greg, Amy and I got out for a skate and all four Foxes spent about an hour tobogganing in the late afternoon.

Today Greg and I each got out for an individual skate in the morning and this afternoon we took the kids to the Canadian Museum of Nature. Amy and I also got out for a walk and a play at my nephew’s school. Amy has discovered the joy of going down plastic slides in snow pants. One goes fast and far.

We’ve been eating like royalty — my brother-in-law is a fabulous cook and my sister makes yummy bread and desserts. Pretty sure I’ll be returning to Victoria heavier. We have also been having beautiful weather — sunny and crisp, but not too crisp.

Three more days…then back to the real world.

Ottawa 2011: snow play

Yesterday we had a leisurely morning and then headed out to a winter festival at a local park. There was hockey, food, kids’ games and horse-drawn sleigh rides. And a small hill for tobogganing. Which is where we spent most of our time. Elliot loves being on a sled that is going downhill. Amy wasn’t quite as enthused, but she did do a couple of runs.

We spent the rest of the day indoors. Or the Fox family did. Greg had a short nap and I struggled to stay awake to make sure the kids didn’t kill each other.

This morning we tried to head out early to the ice slides. We had gone last year and it had been PACKED. We ended up getting there about 45 minutes after it opened and it was fine. The ice slides are toboggan runs that have been flooded and then have iced over. They are slick, fast and a whole lot of fun. Again, Elliot was all over it and Amy was a bit wary. But she ended up going down three slides.

Then it was back to the house for some food, train play and a bit of kid refereeing. In the late afternoon we went for our first skate on the canal. The ice was fairly choppy but it was still good to get out. Greg towed Elliot behind him in a sled and Amy was in the stroller. She fell asleep (which would be why she’s still awake now, at 9:30).

Tomorrow we are off to Montreal to visit a friend from university for a night. I haven’t seen her for four years so it’ll be nice to catch up.

Ottawa 2011: who owes who?

Amy and I arrived safely in Ottawa. Greg and Elliot are still enroute. We had to take separate flights because we booked with two separate point systems, and I valiantly stepped up to bat and volunteered to take Amy on the 7:00 am flight. The child who doesn’t sit still, the child who doesn’t enjoy television for longer than 10 minutes, the child who says NO! 342 times a day. For weeks I’ve been dreading the flight, planning what things I could take, and reminding Greg that he OWES me. Big time. Perhaps you can see where this is going.

My trip was a dream, or as much a dream as air travel can be. Sure, I was up at 4:30 am, but that’ll just get me on Ottawa time quicker. The flight from Victoria to Vancouver was quick and easy. We had about an hour in Vancouver. Enough time to enjoy a chai latte and watch some planes. We boarded our Vancouver to Ottawa plane and proceeded to enjoy a four and a half hour flight. Yes, I said enjoy. I even read a magazine. And did some puzzles. We did use almost everything I brought to entertain Amy, but she was easily entertained. The worst thing she did (and I recognize this is nothing) is close the shade on her window really loudly a few times. She was an absolute Angel. One man even commented that he’d never seen a child travel so well.

I arrived in Ottawa to hear that Greg’s flight had been delayed. It’s now almost 11:00 pm, six hours after Amy and I arrived at the house, and Elliot and Greg are still in the air. They left Victoria at 10:00 local time. If you do the math on that one, they spent seven hours in the Vancouver airport. They were supposed to be on a bit of a milk run through Winnipeg that would have had them landing at 10:30 pm, but the Winnipeg flight got cancelled. They got put on a direct flight to Ottawa, but it was much later.

I talked to Greg briefly when I arrived in Ottawa, and he said Elliot was pretty bored. He was so excited to get here and it sounds like the wait at the airport was hard (seven hours for anyone would be hard, let alone a four-year-old).

I hope their flight has gone okay. It’ll be nice to see them and have the family together under one roof.

More Winterlude adventures to come.

114 days to go: training alone

Another ride today, about 50 minutes. Still not a lot of distance happening. This morning’s ride was supposed to be longer but it took me longer to get ready than I thought it would. That was probably due to the amount of layers I put on. I was the perfect temperature, with the exception of cold hands. But they were only cold for about 15 minutes of the ride. When I get back from Ottawa I’m going to sketch out a training plan for myself, with some help from the Internet. I’ll google “training for 90 km ride in the shortest time possible”. I’ll also google “but me the best bike in my price range without me having to do the research”.

Am I lazy?? I guess so. Although I did sign up for the race. That’s not lazy.

I was thinking about the whole “training” thing when I was swimming the other night. For most of my fitness endeavours, I have trained by myself or with one or two close friends. The only exception was for my first half marathon, and it’s a damn good thing I did that because I almost died. I would have died had I not trained with the Running Room.

I know I could perform a lot better if I actually got some help. Same with triathlon training. I think there are two main reasons I avoid structured training groups. One, I like to exercise alone (or mostly alone). Second, I just don’t care that much. Sure, I want to finish this Tour de Victoria in one piece and be able to walk the next day (or maybe two days later), but I’m not driven to be at the front. I was when I was 16, but not at 39. And I’m actually proud of myself for what I do on my own.

So the plan is that I’ll get one more ride in on Friday and then it’ll be cross-training for a few days. On skates, on the Rideau Canal. Now THAT’S a workout.