Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hair - the Truth

You probably think Gwen's hair is pretty short. Peruse some recent pictures:

And here is the truth, the view of her hair that is rarely seen:

Yup. Down to the middle of her back. Not that you'd ever know it to look at it dry.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dear Gwen: Month Forty-Six

Dear Gwen,
Today, you are forty-six months old.

You are so close to Four, you can taste it. This year, for the first time, you are able to anticipate your coming birthday and the accompanying party. Just about every day, you mention something about your party – what kind of cake you’d like (banana chocolate), where the party should be (All-over Woods), and when the big event is going to happen (in the springtime).

Aside from your birthday, another thing you talk about often is your plan to plant a sunflower in the spring. You are also very interested in science right now, and we do an experiment a few times a week. Our experiments are not usually very scientific, as they often just consist of various permutations of “What will happen when I put [substance] in water?” or “What will happen if we put [substance] in freezer?” When you realized recently that one of your great loves, cooking/baking, was really just one big science demonstration (water gets hot, turns into steam; hot water turns hard things into soft things; baking in oven turns soft stuff into hard stuff) I do believe your mind was blown.

You continue to be an extremely social little girl, and this is reflected in your latest idea to build a “move machine” and a “grow machine”. The move machine would move all our friends to our house without getting wet in the rain, and the grow machine would make our house big enough to hold all our friends. I’ve encouraged you to draw me a picture of these machines, but mostly you just enjoy talking about them.

You are growing and changing in fascinating ways right now. You have a new saying, “Tell me all about that,” which I think you must have picked up at preschool (perhaps the teacher says this at Show and Tell?). In any case, it has changed our conversations quite a bit. Your attention span is starting to be a bit longer, and you seem interested in what people have to say. For example, a few days ago you told me you really liked my “city pictures”, which are oil paintings I bought on my long-ago trip to Rome. I showed you on the globe where Italy is, and told you that I’d taken a plane all the way across the ocean to get there and be in a race. You wanted to hear more, so I took down my Rome scrapbook and we looked through it together. I showed you pictures of me in the race and pointed out the medal that hangs with my “city pictures” – you are very aware of races and medals because of a Backyardigans show that you enjoy. It was a really neat moment, sharing my memories and experiences with you. Your only confusion was asking me – “Mom, did you miss me? Didn’t you come back to see me?” You couldn’t quite understand that you weren’t even born yet!

Another thing I am really proud of is that you had your second dentist appointment and you were an absolute HERO. Your first dentist appointment, which was several months ago, did NOT go well. You wouldn’t let the dentist near you – I think this is because he was wearing a mask and strange glasses and looked pretty scary to you. Although we reassured you over and over that all he wanted to do was count your teeth, you stubbornly kept your mouth clamped shut. I decided to try again, and between you and me, if it hadn’t worked out this time I was going to book you in with a pediatric dentist, figuring they must have special tricks up their sleeves to help kids cope. But even before the appointment, we tried some different strategies.

We borrowed a book called “Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist'>Show Me Your Smile,” about Dora’s trip to the dentist, and we read it every day and practiced opening wide for the dentist. I took a few tools out of your doctor kit and we took turns playing dentist and patient. We talked about the dentist constantly for the weeks leading up to your appointment. And it worked! You were calm and accepting and even let the hygienist scale your teeth, to which she commented, “Wow, usually kids don’t let you do that until they are at least 5 or 6.” SUPERSTAR! We were very proud of you.

You are becoming more interested, and more proficient, at various computer games. You have a LeapFrog computer that hooks up to our television, and we also recently discovered all the cool, educational, and FREE games that you can play online at pbskids.org. You can easily spend 40 minutes on the Curious George games alone. When we’re stuck inside on a rainy February Saturday, I really don’t mind you spending time with these games – they’re better for your brain than passively watching videos, and aside from the educational value you are also learning mouse skills, which you will indubitably need in today’s computer-based world. Last week you were playing online and I was blown away by your skill at tangram puzzles, in particular.

We’ve found a new church to go to, and you seem to really enjoy Sunday school and your friends at church. I am so thrilled that you have a church “home” and have found joy in that community. A few weeks ago at church, the topic of the children’s talk was water, as our congregation is working to raise money to build a well in Malawi, Africa. The teacher asked about different ways that we use water, and one kid mentioned that she has a pet fish who lives in water. You decided to get in on this action and stood up proudly in front of the whole congregation and announced, “When I am five years old, we are going to get a pet and I am going to name it Sparkles.” For the rest of the day the adults in the congregation kept coming up to me with a wink and a smile and saying, “Sparkles, hmm?” Hey, it’s news to me but it sounds like a PERFECT name for a goldfish, don’t you think?

I have to tell another church story as well. This past week, after the service, you were playing with an older child (8 or so years old) outside the hall. A few minutes later, the older child appeared, but you did not. Apparently, you had sent her back to the hall to get something (because even as the younger child you are the BOSSY one) and when she went back to where you’d been playing together, you were gone. A few minutes’ search revealed no Gwen, and suddenly the icy weight of panic crept into my stomach. Other moms joined in to help me find you. In my rational mind I felt fairly certain that you wouldn’t just wander away from the church, as it has friends, a playground, toys, and a playroom to keep your interest, whereas the street has nothing fun about it. On the other hand, I was running out of places to search and there was still no sign of you. Finally (after what felt like 10 minutes but was probably less than 5) someone found you, back inside the church sanctuary. They guided you towards me and when you saw me you said, “I couldn’t find you and I was scared.” I thought, GOOD! and told you I’d been scared too.

I guess every parent goes through this with their kid, but I have to say I feel like we go through it more than most. Maybe because it’s just you and me so much of the time, maybe because you are by nature a super curious and active kid with little regard for safety, or maybe it’s just your age. Your dad suggested a ‘rendezvous point’ so that if we do get separated again, you have a specific place to go to find me. Of course, we’d both like it a lot better if you either stayed with me, or kept me updated on your whereabouts, but that doesn’t seem to be happening very consistently, so the planned meeting spot seems like a good Plan B until you get a little less crazy.
So, that’s our life these days, Gwen. You are turning into a fascinating (though sometimes aggravating) little person, and I am doing my best to keep up. I love you a million, billion, kajillion and three, and can’t wait to see what’s next.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 16: Something New

Today Gwen wanted "one ponytail over on the side" instead of her usual two. As you can see, it's already falling apart mere minutes after being put in. Not that the ponytails last very long under the best of conditions...

Incidentally, this is the face she makes when you ask her to smile for a photograph. CHARMING, yes?

But THIS is the face she makes if you make her laugh by saying, "Stinky Underwear!" before taking a picture.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 15: Phone

You guys you guys you guys. Everyone else in the world has a smartphone, but I have a dumbphone. It is so old and very very cheap and it desperately needs to be upgraded. If I have ever sent you a text message, be grateful (and forgiving) because check it out - what you see right there? That's the only keyboard. Yes, my phone and I are stuck in the late 1990s and it is so sad (in a ridiculous first-world-problem kind of way). So there it is, there's my phone, with a picture of Gwen from 2008 because I can't figure out how to update it. OH, and since I seem to have lucked into an excuse to bitch about my phone, let me also tell you that its most annoying function is a very small inbox/outbox size, combined with the inability to delete more than one message at a time, so every time the box gets full I have to go through and delete each message individually. It is SO FUN.

My plan is to buy myself a smartphone (probably an iPhone) as a graduation gift this Spring. Well, maybe I should say "intention" rather than "plan" because "plan" kind of indicates that I have some idea of how I'm going to pay for it, and I do not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day to the Love of My Life

You and I, my darling, are the great romance of the twenty-first century. I think about you constantly: every minute I am awake, every part of my being aches for you, desperately longing to be with you. There is no other way to describe it: I crave you. I need you. I am empty without you. When I’m not with you, the world is dull and colourless and dreary. You make me come alive, bright explosive sensations all over my body. Every moment I’m apart from you, with every second that passes I ask myself: When will I see you again? When will I touch you, caress you, consume you, melt into you? I beg of you, make it soon. I cannot deny this feeling any longer. Come to me, my sweet and irresistible darling. Come and fill my senses. I adore you!

aka Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 14: Heart

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 12: Inside My Closet

Craft supplies, clothes Gwen has outgrown, stuff set aside to give Gwen for Valentine's Day and her birthday, luggage, a screen for our bedroom window, board games, costumes, mementoes, photographs, and clothes, clothes, clothes. My closet.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 11: Makes Me Happy

My new slippers are awesome. They make me feel like I am walking on clouds. Also, this view includes an empty and somewhat tidy room. I have the house to myself today as Gwen spent last night at her Gramma's and is coming home with Chris at the end of his workday. I will be quite as joyful when she gets home tonight, but in an entirely different way from my current happiness at a quiet day to myself.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day Nine: Front Door

Not a lot of exciting things to say or show here. This is my front door. We used to have a green one, which I really liked (it was only green on the outside, but it looked really cool against our grayish-blueish-whiteish siding). Now we have this one, which is not green (on either side) but does have a cool window that creates prism rainbows in our front hall on sunny days.

Some Highlights

Last night shortly after arriving home from daycare Gwen had a meltdown about something. I was in the middle of something and didn't jump to attend to her right away. She went to her room and cried for a few minutes, then calmed herself down. When I arrived, she was quietly paging through a book. I sat down with her and said, "Why were you upset?" She responded, "I wanted two cookies and you only gave me one." "I'm sorry, I didn't know you wanted two," I told her.

She said, "You didn't know because I didn't tell you."

This was HUGE. She melts down all the time about stuff and we don't even know why, and by that point she is enraged/devastated enough that she can't clearly tell us. Then in the calming-down stage she will blame it on us; "You made me angry," or "You made me sad." I've told her about a million times that I can't read her mind and that if she doesn't tell me what she wants, I don't know. This is the first time she seemed to recognize that concept. Naturally, I praised her to the skies, both for that and for calming herself down.

She had another meltdown a few minutes later about something completely different, but whatever. One step at a time.


This morning when I went to drop Gwen off at preschool, another car pulled up at the same time as ours. This is always fun because the kids are always excited to see who is in the other car. Well today it was Matthew, whom Gwen has always been quite fond of. A couple of weeks ago we ran into him and his Mom at the grocery store and Matthew was SO excited, like it just BLEW HIS MIND to see a preschool friend somewhere other than preschool. Ever since then he and Gwen have been pretty inseparable at school, and when I come to pick her up he always comes to say hi to me too. Anyway, Matthew’s mom and I said good morning to each other and Matthew got out of the car and came straight over to Gwen, and without a word the two of them joined hands and started leading the way into school. It was the most adorable thing ever. Needless to say when we got inside the school we exchanged contact info and promised to arrange a playdate soon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 8: Sun

The only sun I'm going to see on this dismal February day is the BC Ministry of Education logo as I research the upcoming "Ready, Set, Learn" open house events at local elementary schools. In less than a year, I will be registering Gwen for kindergarten. GAK.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 7: Button

Looks like somebody has a case of the First World Problems!

I got a Kobo e-reader for Christmas and I LOVE IT SO HARD. However, I needed to buy a new purse in which the Kobo would comfortably fit. I went to Bentley last week and bought this one. I love how many pockets it has, I love the size and style and versatility of it. I HATE that it is black and boring and immensely sensible. If you asked 100 conceptual artists to illustrate their idea of a Mom purse, and then amalgamated the results into one purse, this would be it. BLECH!

In the interest of flairing it up a bit, I have attached a singluar button. I could attach twenty-seven more, but I am not sure it would help. Feel free to share other suggestions.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 6 - Dinner

It's Monday! This is one of the two nights a week that I am not in charge of dinner. (In fairness, my husband works SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, so he is not to be accused of laziness.)

We are, of course, having stir-fry.

First Time at the Movies

On Saturday, I took Gwen to see her first movie theatre movie. I was so excited about this, and so was she - we'd been planning it for a full week. We went to see The Adventures of TinTin, which promised to be a rollicking good time full of pirate ships, car chases, plane rides, good guys, bad guys, pratfalls, physical humour, and one cute white dog. (Moreover, it was a tiny rebellion - in my own mind - against the countless Facebook statuses I've read lately about moms taking their daughters out to see Beauty and the Beast 3D, 'cause, y'know.)

The movie more than delivered on its promise, and having read the books as a kid I thoroughly enjoyed this very faithful vision. It was action packed and a very, very fun movie. Gwen, on the other hand ... well. I guess she isn't ready for the movie theatre experience. Problem #1: she is not heavy enough to properly weight down the movie theatre seat, and ends up being a bit squished, which aside from tempting her to constantly bounce the seat up and down (fun for everyone around, am I right?!), can't possibly be comfortable. Be that as it may, she didn't want a booster seat or to sit in my lap. Problem #2: WOW THAT WAS LOUD. As soon as the pre-show was over and the actual movie came on, I could tell she was quite uncomfortable with how loud it was. She was also pretty alarmed when the lights suddenly went off, but that didn't last long. Problem #3: About an hour or so into the movie, she just decided she'd had ENOUGH of this sitting down business, and proceeded to explore all the surrounding seats, sitting in each for a maximum of three minutes before getting up and trying another one.

The saving grace here is that we were in the very back row with no one else around us, so she wasn't bugging anyone except me. Also, by virtue of the fact that she is not quite four years old yet, she got in for free - so I didn't have to lament the loss of $9.75 while watching her frib around like a baboon on meth. And hey, ~I~ was enjoying myself, so WHATEVER, kid.

On the whole, though, I find I am hitting a brick wall with Gwen's behaviour. She pulled the same kind of stunts the next day at church, when it was WAY less cute. She refused to sit in one seat, wouldn't stay with either me or the other children, kept running up and down the aisles ... it was madness. I've put in a concerted effort in the past few weeks and have really truly learned and internalized the concept that yelling at Gwen does not yield the desired results. However ... I have nothing in my toolbox to use instead. In the case of church, I actually considered leaving, thinking that might get my message across; but as I mentioned in yesterday's photo post, I was part of a presentation that morning and so I couldn't just take off. The only privilege I've got to hold over her head is her bedtime story, and honestly - it's a pretty empty threat. I love our bedtime reading as much as she does, I'm just as loathe to call it off.

I'm planning to (re-)read this in the next week or so to come up with some better tools and strategies, because otherwise I'm just never going to leave the house with her again.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 5 - 10am

At 10am this morning I was at church. This photo was taken after the sermon (which was compelling enough that I forgot to check my watch) and right after I managed to correctly take Communion. The best part of church was doing a brief presentation with a couple other people about our project to raise money for a freshwater well in Malawi (we have raised $1,000 so far toward a $7,000 goal). The not-best part was Gwen's behaviour, about which - the less said the better.

I love these stained-glass windows, btw.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 4 - A Stranger

Kind of weird to take a picture of a stranger. Gwen and I went out on a walk around the neighbourhood this morning, and the thick fog allowed me to take a somewhat inconspicuous, and also kind of cool-looking, photograph of a stranger (and his dogs).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 3 - Hands

These hands are in the midst of a science experiment, namely putting water into the freezer to see what happens to it. The brain these hands are attached to is quite fascinated by the transitions between solid, liquid, and gas.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feb Photo a Day Challenge Day 2 - Words

This is the textbook for my current (and last!) class, History of Feminism in the Western Tradition. As you might gather, it's kind of a heavy course. The textbook is 587 pages in total; I am currently on page 545, which means I am so close to done I can almost taste it. I am not looking forward to the 5,000-word research paper I will have to write next. When I finish that paper - and the course - I will get to apply for graduation with a Bachelor of English - a degree in words.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I came across this challenge on Facebook and decided to give it a try. I will be able to faithfully take a picture each day, but I may not be able to post them the same day they are taken due to my woefully dull outdated technology. Still, I've been wanting to get more consistent with photography for some time now, so this seemed like a good excuse.

Here's today's photo - the view from my desk at work.
Beautiful sunny morning - what a treat. The office was quiet today as I was the only one there.


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