Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perfect




Today's wordless Wednesday brought to you by Frizz Ease and www.nikolepetersphotography.com.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two

Chou Chou and I have been adventuring. An early spring (that could still return to being winter) has meant many hours outside, discovering new lands, sloshing through puddles, collecting treasure and building intricate drainage channels in the driveway. The new lands are the neighbour's and the treasure not much more than pine cones and sticks, but each day with Chou reminds me of the wonder that is childhood and the reason I wanted a kid in the first place.

Being two (as of tomorrow) means Chou is keen on imaginative play, is developing more memory and will repeat every single thing I say, including all the bad words. Nothing has prompted me to clean up my language faster than a toddler following me around squawking like a parrot. We travel the high seas in laundry baskets, use the same for turtle shells as we become very slow moving beasts. We wonder and delight in finding yesterday evening's puddles and rivers have become frozen ponds this morning. She giggles and slips as she tries to crack them. "It's slippery, mummy!" I can't help but crush a few puddles myself.

The past six weeks has been tough. Chou is turning into the most amazing young girl and I'm missing a lot of her days. Work will slow down soon enough, but in the meantime I miss the hours we're not spending together. I recognize that there are many hours in a day she'd rather not be entertained by her mother, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be doing the entertaining. This life/work balance thing is not easy. No way.

But on a positive note, while I haven't been keeping up with Chou's monthly newsletter, I can at least do an annual update, right?

Ahem.

In honour of her turning the big oh-two, here's a rundown of what she's up to.

Chou loves to draw, write her name, draw faces and trace her hand. The name is illegible, the face indistinguishable from the rest of the scribbles, but she proudly points and tells me what it is. She recognizes her own name when spelled as well as Pico's, Mummy and Daddy. She loves purple, and can name pink, purple, green, blue, orange, yellow and black. Red is still a mystery to her.

Singing and dancing are still favorites, the songs now more complex. Today, she sat on the landing with her new baby (a gift from her daycare lady) and its baby seat and toy and sang about the sun (there was a sun on the toy). While this new baby has kept her entertained for sometime this weekend, the draw is always to get outside - "Shiny coat, mummy, shiny coat" she says, asking to put it on. "Gum boots!" she yells. (We weren't sure what to teach Chou - rubber boots is Manitoban, gum boots is from B.C and wellies are English. I said gum boots once and it stuck. So be it.)

My defiant wee girl has also mastered the very forceful "go!" when she's making potty (suddenly she's shy?) or doing something she shouldn't be. She's mastered the screaming tantrum but thankfully, doesn't use it much. She's keen on her new seat (the toilet insert so she can go pee on the big potty) and doesn't think she needs her little potty anymore.

While I don't want to jinx it, we're going on day 2 with no sucky. We had planned to make a big deal out of getting rid of sucky, and get her a new tricycle or something equally huge to trade for sucky, but a day or two ago, sucky went missing but she never went looking for him. Nor did I tell her I found him. She hasn't asked for him once since (even through the night). We'll just pretend he's not around anymore, yes? Yes.

Chou is a walker/runner, which makes me so happy. Our morning walks to daycare take a lot longer now that she insists that she walk the entire way. We usually end up compromising and I plop her back in the stroller along the one busy street, but mostly, it's "I walk, mummy" and that's the end of it. She gets going down hill and yells, "I running! I running!"

I'm thrilled that my girl asks for sushi by name and even helps me make it. She's a keen baker (mostly to lick the spoon) and announces "I help!" whenever I start to prepare any meals. She likes to "cut" veggies (mostly mangling them with a dull veggie peeler) and season the veggies. I'm glad that she can identify a lentil from a chickpea on the floor and that she looks forward to taking out the compost after dinner every night. (We'll get back to the nutrition at daycare discussion another day.)

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm not teaching Chou enough – that I keep too many things "grown up" and don't include her enough in what I do. I've decided to remedy that and last week we planted peas for some windowsill science. I told her all about soil and seeding tips. Then today, we cleaned up the herb garden (ok, it's a planter on the deck, whatever) and I described the different plants and the difference between annuals and perennials. This is important stuff, guys.

Ah, two. So far, there's not much terrible about it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oats

Casa Wumpus is a house of routine. Maybe too much routine, but that's another discussion. Every morning, Chou rolls out of bed (either at 5 am or at 6:30 am, but never in between the two), we snuggle on the couch while daddy makes coffee, watch "The Monkey Show" (Curious George, for those in the know) and then I make us all oats.

Plain old rolled oats, with cinnamon and raisins - no sugar - and maybe a splash of milk to cool them down. Sometimes we have eggs too. But every day, we have oats. We're like ponies that way.

Why is this important? Because starting our day with rolled oats is good for us. Sure, yes, we like them too, but starting with oats is just that - a start. It's taken years, but we've worked hard to clean up our diets, eat well, nourish our bodies and eliminate certain foods entirely. Like what? Oh, super uber refined stuff, processed junk and sugary gross stuff - you know - hot dogs, KD, ketchup, canned pasta and sauce, those things. All the pasta (little that there is) in our house is whole wheat, we eat things like quinoa, hummus and several types of squash on a regular basis. And we love it. We love it all. Chou loves it.

We have ketchup in the house, sure, but buy the smallest bottle and it lasts us a year. I've even got a box of KD in the cupboard, but it's left over from last June when I bought it specifically for guests. The only pop in our house is tonic water to go with gin (see? I'm not saying we're perfect. I'm just trying to give you a sense of what is and is not in our cupboards).

Why does all of this matter?

Because I found out last week that the following are regulars on Chou's daycare menu: alphaghetti, white flour-based, full sugar, full fat muffins, cheese slice grilled cheese and ketchup. In fact, two nights ago I put ketchup on Chou's plate for the first time in months and she exclaimed, "Cup cup!" I was a little shocked, and a lot saddened.

Saddened because this was an oversight on my part. Chou's daycare is so amazing in so many ways that I didn't think to scrutinize the menu. In fairness, snack time always features fresh fruit prominently, but my daycare provider's kids are in their teens now. Times have changed, the focus on food and nourishment is different now. Add to that that we're in Saskatchewan (where lasagna is considered ethnic food) and well, I guess it's not surprising that whole wheat and real food isn't the norm.

I feel terrible. I feel like I can't speak up for fear of making Chou's daycare provider feel like I'm judging her. As the husband puts it, it's two snacks and lunch - she still gets her oats and healthy dinners at home and the weekend.

But we've worked so hard to eat well, and now, now I feel like it's all for nothing because for the majority of her lunches in a week she's eating absolute trash.

And I don't know what to do.