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Alex gave me a sunflower seedling for Father's Day. She 'made' a card too, with a cut-out of a neck tie, sprinkled with glitter. I don't think I've worn a tie since Rachel and I got married, nearly 5 years ago. (Gosh, has it really been five years already? Wow!)
Her caregiver at day-care, Bea, was very insistent that we plant it and take Alex's picture beside it, after it has fully grown. We're not sure if it's because Bea is sweet on Alex, or if it's because most of the other seedlings didn't fare as well as this one. (We noticed that many other seedlings were bruised, bent, broken or were showing signs of "toddler abuse". Toddlers can be a tad rough on things!)
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
It's what sunflowers do.
- Helen Keller
We brought the spindly, sunlight-deprived seedling home and set it in the flower garden, to be transplanted later. Well, wouldn't you know, it rained cats and dogs that evening and pelted the poor thing, which was tied to a Popsicle stick with some string. We let it "recover" for a day, before transplanting it.
A sunflower is an appropriate metaphor for how rapidly Alex is changing, right under our very noses. Each day, her vocabulary expands, her capabilities are greater and unless we pay very close attention, we never really notice the changes, until - BAM - how our little girl has grown.
We thought we'd honor Bea's request and file progress reports on Alex's little sunflower, during the course of the summer months. Follow along with Alex's "Sunflower Project" ...
Our not-so-trusty electric lawn mower died a few weeks ago and we've been having to beg and borrow from neighbors, so that our back yard doesn't turn into a jungle. The nice thing is that Scott's been having the luxury of using gas-powered mowers. After always having to "plan" a route to mow, to avoid cutting the electric umbilical cord, he's enjoyed the freedom of mowing in any pattern he wants.
There are pluses and minuses with renting. On the plus side, when the lawn mower died, we didn't have to worry about purchasing a replacement. On the minus side, we have no influence over the type of mower we receive as a replacement. The choices were between a push-mower (which would be a bear with such a large back yard) or an electric. We should be happy that we received a new, in-the-box, electric mower. Hopefully, it'll have enough power to do the job and Scott won't add to the number of splices he's already had to make in the extension cord he uses with the thing.
Of course, the Oop is excited about anything that comes in a box, so she was all over the new mower and insisted the box be opened immediately upon receipt. As much as Scott didn't want to put the thing together after dinnertime, a day after he had already mowed, it was either that or deal with Alex's endless questions, enthusiasm, and pestering.
"Is that a present?" she asks, "for me?"
So, Scott (and Alex) put the lawn mower together. She even took it out for a test spin, while her Dad was putting tools away and fetching the mangled extension cord, to give it a "real" test. Let's just say that Alex's enthusiasm for the lawn mower immediately ceased after it was powered on. It's a cute little video that shows how much Alex wants to "help", how she's growing up and her fear of things that make loud, whirring noises.
Wow, it's been three months since we last reported on the Oop, our daughter. She's grown a lot since then and we thought that we'd bring you up-to-date. She recently celebrated her two-and-a-half birthday and in true Oop style, she devoured the half-cake and ice cream ....
Living Through the Terrible Twos
It's been too long since we've written about Alex. The last Oop-post was about her first ice skating experience, in January, nearly three months ago. Let's bring everyone up to date.
The Oop recently celebrated her half-birthday, on April third. She's now in the middle of her "terrible twos" and let me tell you, there's a REASON they call them that. Oh my God! The tears and the fits!
The last one was just moments ago. Rachel is out (at an orientation meeting for her new, part-time job) and I'm trying to write this post. Alex is eating breakfast, at the kitchen table (Rice Krispies cereal with bits of fresh banana and a glass of milk).
"All done Daddy," she says.
I look over and see that most of the cereal has indeed, made it into her gob, but half of the glass of milk remains.
"You're not going to drink your milk?" I ask.
"No Daddy," she says, "Finished."
"So I'm going to have to throw it away?" (We don't like doing this, but it doesn't bother the Oop.)
"Yes," she says, "All done."
Because the milk was in an open glass (and no doubt her hands went into it) I decide it's best just to toss it. But then, I spy Tuxedo, lounging in his cat bed and decide to give him a rare treat. (Shh, don't tell Rachel.)
"You won't mind if I give it to Tuxedo?", I ask.
I don't wait for a reply and this is the pivotal moment, which I fail to recognize. After all, she says she's done, doesn't want it, doesn't mind it going down the drain, so (of course) she won't mind if I give it to the cat. It's only logical. (What two and a half year-old is logical?)
I pour the milk into a bowl and whistle for the cat, who is quick to capitalize on an infrequent indulgence, moving faster than I thought him capable. Quickly, he's hunched over the bowl, lapping the milk.
I look at Alex and what I see is not a happy face.
"My milk," she says, with a pouty frown.
"Uh oh," I think.
Tears well up and I realize that we're heading into a storm. Sure enough, she becomes red-faced and tears begin to flow. She wails as if the milk were the most important thing on Earth and through the sobbing, wailing and mixture of tears and green snot (she's getting over a cold), she cries, "No ... no ... no ... no, I waaant my milk. Daaaddy."
I try to mollify her by patting her on the back and cleaning her face with a tissue. "Look how happy you've made the kitty cat. He likes milk. Don't you want the kitty cat to be happy?"
She's beyond reasoning and her entire world is focused on the fact that the cat is now drinking HER milk. It doesn't matter that, only moments before, she was happy to watch me pour it down the drain. She is completely distraught, because she doesn't want the kitty cat to be happy and it's her milk and NOW she wants it back.
I calmly ask her if she'd like to have a little more milk. She does and the sobbing subsides. I pour her another small glassful and she drinks it. The end-of-the-world, kitty-cat-has-my-milk incident rapidly fades from her mind (though not entirely from mine).
"All done Daddy. Look!" she says, "I go play now."
There will probably be three of four more similar crying fits today. Some might be predictable (not wanting to go down for an afternoon nap, being told 'no' when she wants something), but others (like this one) will just pop up, out of the blue. It's a part of life, with Alex, now that she's two.
It's not all bad though, because (most of the time), she's happy and content, a wonderful, beautiful, cute, engaging and outgoing daughter. If you ask her how she feels, she'll generally say, "Happy". We must be doing something right.
To learn more about our life with Alex at two and a half, read on, as I try to put into words, some of her antics, discoveries and joys.
A month ago, we were extolling the fact that it seemed winter had passed us by in Edmonton, this year. No longer. Yesterday, we received 22 cm. of snow. Read about how it affected our family (especially our cat)....
22 Centimeters of Snow
On March 5th, we reported a recent snowstorm, how winter seemed delayed this year and how spring was forecasted to be running a tad late. Two weeks later, we're hip-deep in snow and regretting any claims we made about winter passing us by this year. We received 22 centimeters of snow on Saturday. When we awoke, it was snowing. All morning, it snowed. It snowed through lunch and all afternoon. It snowed past dinner and into the evening.
At mid morning, Scott went out and shoveled the front walk, the drive and the front stoop. He assisted our neighbor, getting her car unstuck from the middle of a nearby residential street. We helped the guy across the way, get his car back on the road, after parking too close to the sidewalk. By the time evening rolled around, it didn't look like Scott had shoveled at all. So he went out and shoveled some more!
We haven't lived in Edmonton long, but in our brief two-year tenure, THIS is the most snow we've ever seen. It's unreal. As Scott jokingly told a neighbor, "Maybe I'll just make a tunnel to the front door, it might take less effort!"
Fortunately, the snow abated Saturday night. We awoke on Sunday, to cloudy skies and shortly after lunch, Scott was out shoveling again. This time, it was the back stoop, walkway, alleyway and garage parking area. He filled trashcan after trashcan with the white stuff and hauled it to various places around the yard. He began to run out of places to dump it!
We've been debating where we're going to move to, after Rachel finishes her Nursing degree in August. We'd been considering a move to Canmore, near Banff National Park, just west of Calgary. We'd even considered the notion of staying in the Edmonton area, as the cost of living is reasonable and the summers are glorious. This recent storm might have nixed both of those thoughts, as we're likely to stick to our original plan of moving to Vancouver Island. Moderated by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver Island rarely sees much snow. Just the ticket, according to our California-boy, Scott.
We Know Snow
Alex didn't seem to mind the fluffy stuff and was eager to go outside and "help" Scott shovel the walk, the driveway and other wide expanses that needed to be cleared of over a foot of snow. She enjoyed sitting in it, rolling in it, throwing it, eating it and (occasionally) tossing a scoop or two of it into a bucket ... then promptly dumping it where it had already been cleared. Though the Oop loved the snow, she has no idea of where it is supposed to go.
The snow seemed to affect most everyone's schedule in the household. Scott spent several hours shoveling it, while Alex spent nearly an equal amount of time playing in it. Only Rachel seemed unaffected, as she's busy on a term paper, which is due Monday. She sequestered herself in her basement office and has been relatively immune to the the snow outside. It was, perhaps, the smallest member of our household that felt the effects of the snow more than anyone else. Tuxedo, our lethargic cat, ventured outside once, to do his "business" and it was a very pitiful feline that returned.
Poor Tuxedo is getting on in years, nearly 13 all told. His idea of a good time is a long, quiet nap on a heater vent, followed by a hefty dish of wet cat food. Going outside is only desireable if the sun is shining. Tuxedo isn't fond of the winter cold. So far this year, he hasn't had to deal with much snow. So he was surprised, when we opened the front door, to be faced with several inches of snow. With a gentle boot at his bottom, he soon found himself up to his belly in snow. He shook a couple of paws, hoping to rid himself of the disdainful snow, but each step caused more to stick to his warm fur.
We watched, curious to see his reaction and at first, we wondered if he would move at all. He looked this way and that, realizing that only the cement walkway was clear enough for him to tread. So down the front steps he went. He stopped at the lawn, with snow higher than his head, putting a paw forward. "No good," he thought, as his paw was swallowed up in white. He shook it vigorously and treaded down the path, to the driveway. He longingly looked at the shallow depression under the pine tree, where bits of grass were poking through. "How can I get over THERE?" he seemed to wonder. He tested this way and the next, but each was blocked by too-high snow. Finally, in desperation, he went out into the front sidewalk. He dug a tiny hole and there, in the middle of what would normally be a wide, cement path, our cat did his business (quite hurriedly, I might add).
True to form, he even tried to "bury it", which was amusing because the paws that hate snow, were busy shoveling it. I guess the hereditary need to "bury one's business" outweighed the hereditary "distain for all things water". Anyway ... once finished, he raced back to the front stoop and meowed pitifully, eager to get back to his warm bed and out of the hellish white.
From relatives in Phoenix, Arizona to friends in England, we can only say ... "See, here's REAL snow!"
A Great Time to be in AlbertaFebruary 4th, 2006 · stk
Sunny Days: Winter has been nearly non-existent this year. Notice the relative lack of snow on the ground? It was windy and chilly today, despite the sunshine. The Oop is bundled up snugly, though her nose is red.
Little did we know that when we moved from British Columbia to Alberta, half-way through 2004, we were timing our arrival perfectly. At the time, we were just happy that Rachel had been accepted into the after-degree nursing programs at both UofC and UofA. We chose Edmonton and have been happy with the decision (though we sometimes wonder if living in Calagary - which is four times closer to the Canadian Rockies than Edmonton - would have been a better choice for us).
Regardless, we can't complain.
Housing prices are reasonable here, as measured by Vancouver standards. We're renting an entire 3-bedroom house, complete with a finished basement, detached garage and a large, fenced yard (with a swing-set for Alex), at a price only a little more that what we paid for a cold, dark, 1-bedroom, basement suite in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster.
Sure, the first winter was a shock for a California transplanted boy and Vancouver-raised girl (and to think that the neighbors remarked, "Oh no, it was mild winter." Are they crazy?) The difficulty of our first winter was undoubtedly exacerbated by having a 1-year-old Alex at home, all day. Because she wasn't yet walking well, going out-of-doors in minus degree weather wasn't a real possibility, so we experienced a tad bit of 'cabin-fever', as the winter bore on.
Of course, summers are absolutely glorious here and while we were gone for all of July last year, we'll be staying here, this summer. Rachel will be doing a 'practicum' at a local hospital, her last requirement before graduation. We're both looking forward to the summer ... great weather ... no more classes, term papers or final exams ... yay!
Our good fortune in Alberta continued, as we realized that we qualified for a Provencial child-care subsidy. As a full-time student, Rachel is a pauper. As a brand new transplant from the United States, trying to get a home business going, Scott's income doesn't put us in a high tax bracket. We took advantage of the program and we're glad we did. Alex LOVES the social interaction she gets at "school" and Scott has shifted focus from being "Mr. Mom" to Mr. Handy-man and a fledgeling web-developer.
Our good timing was also evident, as we were here to for Alberta's Centennial celebrations, not that we really partook. On centennial day, we rode our bikes to Fort Edmonton Park, because they were having an 'open house'. We celebrated by reflecting on Edmonton's roots, dating back to the 1800's, when it was a fur trapping, trading post, run by the Hudson's Bay Company. We had a fun time (till the end) and even wrote a journal entry about it.
And our good timing became very evident last week. It marked the end of January. Winter has been non-existent this year and spring is right around the corner. Yahoo! Then, buried in our normal bills and advertisement junk mail, were checks from the Alberta Provincial governemnt for $1200.00. Wow!