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Filed in:Alexandra

Oop Hits the Ice

January 8th, 2006  · stk

What is there to do on a cold winter's day in Edmonton? We thought a trip to the neighborhood ice skating rink would be fun for our 2+ year old daughter. Guess what? We were right! See video and read about Alex's first time ice-skating ...

Alex's First Ice Skating Attempt Video

Alex (& Dad) Try Ice Skating at the Neighborhood Rink

Ever since Rachel bought a pair of used ice skates at a garage sale for a dollar, she's been anticipating the opening of the Montrose community center ice skating rink, which is just a block away. The warm winter thwarted her plans, until recently. During the past couple of weeks, while on Christmas break from the University of Alberta, she has been ducking out at night for free skating. (Since we can't leave the Oop at home, by herself, Scott ... (aka "California boy") has had a convenient excuse to avoid the slippery sport).

All that changed this past weekend, when Rachel finally found Alex a pair of "Bob skates" (inexpensive, double-bladed, strap-on skates for toddlers). She somehow managed to get Scott to come along and "take pictures", which was fine, as we knew the community league didn't rent skates and Scott didn't own any ... so he thought he was "safe". (Turns out that they have a bunch of free loaners and Scott, who knows tons more about oranges than he does about ice skating, amused the locals by donning a pair and tearing around the rink). If he had only known ... he would have made up some excuse and stayed home ... and you might not be watching this video of Alex's first encounter with ice skating. As it turned out, the skating encounter was very positive, for both Alex AND Scott.

In Scott's eyes, Rachel is an accomplished ice skater (she can turn, skates backwards, appears quite comfortable on ice and doesn't cling to the boards for dear life). We weren't sure how Alex would take to the ice, considering that she still has difficulty maintaining a vertical profile - either walking, running or negotiating around just about anything.

We were quite impressed by her "skill" and enthusiasm for the hard slab of frozen water. She had a great time and wanted "more" and has even talked about skating again (a sure sign she truly enjoyed it). She laughed as we dragged her about, legs splayed and skates at odd angles ... whizzing about the rink in Mom's steady grip. She also enjoyed being carried, twirled and speeding along with the wind in her face. (Her least favorite part, however, was with her on the ice, actually trying to propel herself forward ... though as the video shows, she gamely gave it a try.)

Poor California boy. Sore ankles, banged knees and (compared to Alex) at a severe height disadvantage for falling. Fortunately, he only plummeted to the ice once and actually (in his defense) did a pretty fair job of skating. We think the locals were disappointed though. Knowing that he was from California and not used to the frozen stuff, a couple ventured out to watch his attempt at skating. When they saw he wasn't all akimbo and the comic scene they had imagined a Californian might present, they headed back into the warmth of the neighborhood hall.

Mom & Alex now have skates. There's a free, outdoor community rink a block away. For sure there's several more months of frozen arctic weather ahead. Gee, there's even free skates for Scott. To Rachel's delight, it looks like we'll be skating more.

"Oh boy," says Scott, "I can hardly wait."

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Updated: 3-Feb-2007
Web View Count: 11425 viewsLast Web Update: 3-Feb-2007
Filed in:Alexandra

A Brown Christmas

December 24th, 2005  · stk

For those feeling sorry for us because we're hip-deep in snow and frosty cold weather, I can only say, "Don't be." While it doesn't look like we'll be hitting the forecasted high of 11°C (52°F), it is currently 6°C (43°F) outside. Not exactly frostbite weather and a far cry from the -8°C (17°F) that is the normal high for this time of year.

Nearly all the snow has melted off of the ground and we're barely getting below freezing at night. I'm not certain if this is a global warming trend, but regardless, our warm blood isn't complaining in the least. We even braved the dark last night, preparing barbequed beef for supper.

So Santa will be in for a rough landing on the very steeply pitched roof, tonight! Skids will scrape the bare shingles, as he comes to a grinding halt. We might even manage to crack open a shutter tonight - something we wouldn't consider most years, for fear of freezing instantly, in our half-naked and sleepy condition.

Speaking of the fat man ... Alex did, indeed, meet the cheerful guy. Yesterday, she went out with Mom and grandparents, to show the other toddlers how it's done. When her turn came to meet the big dude, she raised her arms and waited to be scooped up. He was thrilled to finally meet such a brave little girl, that he managed a chorus or two of song, while the photographer (taken aback by friendly little Alex, was caught unprepared and scrambled to get the camera set up). We think that the photo turned out wonderfully and were only partially distressed to learn that she hadn't bothered to ask for a thing. She still hasn't learned that Christmas equals presents, but I imagine that the naivety will end come next year's celebration.

Alex also managed to woo a local news production crew into filming her, as well. She made a brief appearance on the six o'clock news, though the segment was mainly about waiting until the last minute to do Christmas shopping. Alex was in the reporters arms, while she asked Mom, "Why have you waited until the last minute to go to the Mall?" Mom's answer was, "Well, because Grandma and Grandpa have just arrived from Vancouver." The camera pans to two beaming grandparents thus ending the Oop's first T.V. appearance, in which the back of her head, made a brief, public debut. ;)

So tonight we'll turn on lights, host some cross-town friends and grandparents, watch Alex bounce around from attention, sugar and anticipation, then we'll head to bed, listening for the loud "thump" sure to wake us up from slumber!

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
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Christmas Anticipation

December 22nd, 2005  · stk

Alex is almost twenty seven months old and unlike last year, is now fully engrossed and involved with Christmas. We haven't been to see "Santa" (yet), but we will, no doubt. Her Gran and Grandpa arrived from Vancouver today and so there is a gathering of family. She is excited with all the hubbub, the decorating and has been chowing down on candies from no less than TWO Advent Calendars.

Tom and Sheila, PCT friends from California, sent up a special Christmas package for the Oop. Inside, was a present to be opened "immediately". The gift? A unique, fold out book for Alex called, "The Twelve Bugs of Christmas". She has been wanting to "read" the book, non-stop, since its arrival. Of course, supervision is required or the unique fold out pages will rapidly cease to function as intended, but this doesn't dampen her spirits any!

Rachel noted that before we met Tom and Sheila, they were sending US presents in the mail (awesome chocolate chip cookies), while we were on our six-month hike. Unfortunately, we no longer get (or need, for that matter) chocolate chip cookies. Again, it seems to be that Alex gets all the fun things in the mail, but no matter ... the joy she has opening up the parcel overcomes our own disappointment. (Sort of). A BIG thank you to Tom and Sheila for their thoughtful gift and bringing joy to Oop's second Christmas ... and being a part of it, even though they're way too far away.

Our Christmas tree looks much more like a Christmas tree this year. Alex helped decorate it, adding many ornaments. She found it easier hanging ornaments having a looped string and she gave them a pass, if they had a metal hook. We held her up, to decorate at higher levels and we did notice she had a slight tendency to apply all the ornaments to a single branch!! But it's much improved over last year, when we had to move all the ornaments out of her reach, otherwise she would pluck them off the tree and into her mouth. This year - (perhaps because she helped decorate?) - she's left the tree alone and it actually STILL looks good.

The Christmas lights are on a timer and when they come on, around dusk, Alex demands that the other lights (which are not on a timer) be turned on. "Lights on," she says to Daddy, "now." We ask her, with a trailing question, "Lights oooonnn ... ?" and she pipes up with a required "pleeze".

Keeping up with the Advent Calendar hasn't been as easy as one might imagine. We typically go for a treat (chocolate kisses), after dinner, though sometimes she's so fussy about eating ... that we decide to give the treat a pass. Yes, our little angel is in the middle of her "terrible twos" and believe me, they're TERRIBLE! She can't hang the foil ornament on the wall-hung Advent Calendar, so she asks, "Daddy help?" To her credit though, she hasn't tried to pinch any chocolates, which we think is pretty amazing (especially as we've been pinching, Rachel more so than Scott, the candies that remain in cupboard). Seems our 2-year old daughter has greater self control!

She's left the presents alone too, though she's certain that each is for her and her alone. (Mostly, she's correct). After all, Christmas really IS all about the children, isn't it?

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
Web View Count: 9525 viewsLast Web Update: 26-Feb-2006
Filed in:Alexandra

Oop gets a Piggy Bank

December 3rd, 2005  · stk

We've been trying to find an honest-to-good piggy bank for Alex. It's more difficult than on might imagine. Finally, an old college friend came to the resue. Easthouse Design Studio, a ceramic business run by Kim Easthouse, makes hand-painted ceramic piggy banks.

Once upon a time... we were in the market for a piggy bank for the Oop. Around Easter time, her paternal grandparents mailed some money for the acquisition of such a child-appropriate gift. We delayed in the purchase because we were looking for a special bank, a classic "piggy bank". Though we kept our eyes open for such a swine, none of our shopping forays unearthed any such beast. (Of course, neither of us are avid "shoppers", so it wasn't like we were on a city-wide boar hunt or anything. But we DID keep our eyes peeled!)

A solution came as an epiphany, one day, when Scott remembered that his UCD friend, Kim Easthouse, runs a successful ceramics business from her Seattle home. A quick telephone call confirmed that she did, indeed, make ceramic piggy banks and that she would be happy to craft one for the Oop.

The summer months slid by and although we did get a chance to stop and visit the Easthouse clan - it was fun seeing you guys ... as always - the bank (like so many of our own projects) had yet to migrate from "the drawing board", into an amorphous clay creation. We had all but forgotten about the slotted swine, when ... out of the blue, we get a large postal delivery! (The Oop immediately thinks that it's for her and of course, she's correct again ... nobody sends Scott or Rachel presents any more! Grrr.   :-/   They're all for the cute little Oop! How fair is that? )

When Rachel returns from her day at the University, we help Alex tear into her package, eager to reveal the contents and meet Mr. Piggy. Lo and behold ... we unwrap the well-padded, delightful, ceramic pig, which is personalized with Alex's name written across its haunches. The Oop was thrilled with her bank, but Mom and Dad were a tad leery of letting her spend much time with it alone ... for fear that it would be immediately broken. So ... we supervised, as she moved her coins from her temporary piggy bank, into their new home.

She's on her way to becoming a gazillionaire and we owe Kim Easthouse a big "THANK YOU" for such a special piggy bank! (And to Grandma & Grandpa for sparking the idea in the first place).

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Updated: 5-Dec-2005
Web View Count: 20998 viewsLast Web Update: 5-Dec-2005
Filed in:Alexandra

Angelic Halloween

November 9th, 2005  · stk

Frostbitten Wing-Tips & An Angel on a Sugar High

Despite our concern that Halloween would have our daughter in tears (from all the scary things going "bump" in the night) ... our girl, dressed like an angel, had a GREAT time! The only problem ... getting her to bed after consuming too much sugar.

Halloween nights are cold in Edmonton, so there aren't many scantily dressed "ballarinas" knocking on doors. Popular costumes are full-suit affairs ... furry animals, super-heros and such. They must appeal to the kids but, more importantly, must keep them warm.

We debated about how to dress Alex. Purchasing a full costume seemed a bit much, partly because we didn't think Alex would last long into the evening and partly because she would outgrow the thing by next year. So we bought a pair of 'strap-on' wings and a wand, then dressed her all in white. Who could resist a 'little angel'?

The problem was finding enough white clothing! We put on EVERY SINGLE PIECE of white clothing she owns! She needed more. But Alex was so excited, she didn't seem to mind. With a cold nose, red fingers and teeth chattering ... she tried to say, "Trick or Treat", at each door. We only took her around the block ... making sure to stop at the houses of people we knew ... Paul's (across the lane) and Anna's and Grant's (the neighbors on either side of us).

Our street was a Carnival, because there is a house up the street whose owner goes all-out for Halloween. For days in advance, he erects an entire facade on the front of his house. He had a big pipe organ (and organist), playing scary tunes, in the front yard, with billows of dry ice "fog" covering the leaf littered lawn. The porch was transformed into a witch's lair. It was quite something! A news crew was filming, a parade of cars were slowly driving past and hoards of people were trick-or-treating. (Neighbors are forced to purchase ten times more candy than most, as the house draws visitors from outside the neighborhood, who then "trick-or-treat" up and down the street.)

Alex, in her angel outfit, was a big hit and on more than one occasion, picked up extra candy, "because she's SOOO cute!" If we were gypsies ... we would utilize this cuteness to our advantage. She received so much candy, that we had to 'sandbag' some, because the weight of it ripped the handle off her paper sack.

Back home, Alex excitedly sorted through her sack of goodies, wanting to sample each. Parent's had to limit the number of pieces consumed, for fear that our little angel would turn into a grumpy devil if she were to ingest that much sugar! She was still bouncing off the walls at 8:30 (a half-hour after her normal bedtime), but despite her protestations, our little angel fell fast asleep.

What will life be like, now that Alex now knows the word "candy"?

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Updated: 26-Feb-2006
Web View Count: 7241 viewsLast Web Update: 26-Feb-2006