Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Roy G. Biv

Shelley asked if I helped with this arrangement of the stacking cups. I did not.
We marvel at the scope of our daughter's spectral analysis.

Monday, February 27, 2006

'Tis the Season

RSP season is leaving us; Shelley took the day off work today and we headed into our bank to make our deadline contributions.

And so we noted the beginning of Roll-Up-the-Rim-to-Win, which means March Madness is not far off. My hopes for Kentucky are somewhat subdued this season given their less-than-stellar season. I blame Glory Road.

The liturgical season of Lent will soon be upon us as well, within which we can look forward to the chronological start of spring. And the recommencement of Prison Break.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Marrying Sarah

Amid bubbles and kazoos, scripture and Hard Core Logo references, Chris and Sarah were married in a poetic afternoon ceremony today.
10½ years ago, who would have known this is what we'd be doing?

An Evening with Shackelton

I departed for Toronto today, battling snow and whiteouts in London, cruising through windy, dry brown landscape afterwards and traffic jams in Oakville and approaching Spadina.

I managed to get settled into The Grand Hotel, which lived up to its name, before conducting Sarah and Chris's wedding rehearsal. Their ceremony will take place at Prefix Institute for Contemporary Art which is housed in a former tin factory, lending a metropolitan vibe to the proceedings.

The after-rehearsal-night-before-wedding dinner was at Indian Rice Factory where I went off-menu (à la Urs) and had a Lamb Dhansak prepared.

It was nice to engage in conversation with people that didn't focus on Dora the Explorer. We talked about agribusiness and the implications of genetically modified seeds, Monsanto and Cargill's ownership of the world's seed patents, the diminishing role of the small family farm, the literary genius of Doug Coupland, the immense art of Claes Oldenburg, and on and on...

I could not, however, outrun the Explorer thread. Instead of Dora, it was the exploits of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton which were engagingly recounted, naturally putting me in mind of The Weakerthan's "Our Retired Explorer (Dinner with Michel Foucault, Paris 1961)".

A snapshot of big city Gen-X life: a highbrow evening made possible through the generosity of friends and their parents.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Where did she learn THAT?

Our mealtime bribes often involve candy. After lunch, Rei dined on a well-deserved sucker (or "lollipop" if you prefer).

Upon completion of her treat, she places the little white stick between her fingers, brings it to her mouth and blows. As if she were smoking a cigarette. It was shocking, disconcerting and tragic; how did she know to do that?

She hasn't been exposed to anyone smoking in her presence, to my knowledge. We monitor her TV exposure closely and can vouch that Dora the Explorer, Franklin the Turtle, Hi-5, and Blue's Clues puff in private, if at all.

She isn't even 3-years old! I don't think I'm alone in thinking that's too young to start. Ack.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pout Man from Florida

This actually has little to do with Jeffy (see: "Florida and prairies", July 2, 2005).

The trade deadline in the NBA came and went with little fanfare. Sure Earl Watson gets off the bench and goes to Seattle, but much of the buzz was still puzzling over Isiah Thomas's trade for Steve Francis. This same Steve Francis who pouted on draft night 1999 when selected by the then-Vancouver Grizzlies as the number 2 pick. He wanted to be number 1? He didn't want to play for Vancouver because it's too far from his Maryland home ... Waaaah.
He was a ball-hogging prima donna in Houston, he pouted when traded to Orlando. Now he has to share the court with a team of ball hogs (Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Jalen Rose...) that is one of the worst in the league with few prospects for improvement unless this assemblage of giant egos somehow manages to learn how to play as a team.

Pauvre Steve, he's still pouting.

At least I'm finding karmic entertainment value in all of this.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Life Aquatic

Rub a dub dub. Two kids in a tub.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Call Screaming

The day began with a 6 a.m. throw-up. Kai is finishing off a cold, and has been rather cranky as a consequence.

It's not all negative though. Lately, the telemarketing assualt has been relentlessly ringing the phone off its recharging stand and trying my patience more than any toddler antics.

This afternoon when a call came, I wasn't quick enough on the hang-up and had to listen to the introductory spiel from Capital One or Citibank. Fortunately, Kai was wailing at full volume and I held the phone nearer to him and with great delight said, "She's not here, is there a message? I can't really hear you ..." Click.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Home Finally

Being on leave hasn't prevented me from taking on side projects. In fact, I just got home from offering leadership at a Confirmation event at 5 Oaks. Being freed from Sunday duties has allowed me to seize some different opportunities.

The usual events transpired: youth sharing stories of drunken exploits (the whole "yeah, I'm here at a church event, but really, I am cool" posturing); someone locked in a closet, bad day for that same someone who lost a tooth in some licorice.

Ended that event and proceeded to a planning meeting for another youth event. Turned-down thermostats and burnt popcorn did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the team.

A couple stops on the way home for some infant Tylenol, Dimetap and bread, and I was finally home. It was nice to be greeted by pajama-clad children, their smiling faces and happy bouncing suggested they were glad to see me too.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sleep Reset

Going back to our hotel getaway, where we discovered Kai doesn't sleep well away from his crib, we've also gone back in time to the nights of interrupted slumber. Our eight-month old has forgotten how to sleep through the night.

This time, he's increasing the volume and anxiety of his wail and cry which made last night's sleep re-training trying. (Although Shelley will tell you I still managed to sleep through much of it).

Rei's at daycare, I've done three loads of laundry and a day's worth of dishes. Kai's napping well this afternoon, after an off-and-on morning. Although having just posted this statement, I'm ready for a rude awakening.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ever the Romantic

I woke up this morning with the oh-so-romantic Valentine's thought: "Today's garbage day!" Really, how lucky is Shelley to have me?

After sorting the recycling, lugging out two weeks' worth of detritus to the street, the radio reminded me to present her with my love offering: pop culture reference book Hey! It's that Guy!, Lindor chocolates and a card featuring monkeys.

From Shelley, I have been given A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.

Yes, we love books. And each other.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Showdown at the T.H. Corral

After a sleepless night, we decided to pack up and check out early. Even though children eat free at the hotel restaurant, we opted for a Tim Horton's on the way out of the city which would be faster and cheaper.

The place was busy and full; all the tables were occupied, some by solitary, blankly-staring patrons, captured in early morning stupor. Our little family of four got our order and stood in the middle of the room, assessing the odds of actually getting to sit down to eat.

Even though the tables-of-one were obviously concluding their business (empty cups, strewn napkins and debris) no one thought to leave or offer their place for a harried couple of parents, hungry toddler and sleep-deprived infant. Granted, it was "early" Monday morning (9:30!?), but we'd been awake for 6 hours by that time. Under such conditions, I'm not so inclined to be charitable and giving the benefit of the doubt.

A few minutes passed before we packed up our tray of food and drink as best we could and left. Eating breakfast in the car, I saw one of the solitary diners walk past us. Perhaps the morning reflection prevented her from seeing my glowering gaze. Or she ignored me, just like in Tim's. Thanks for nothing.

Mystery Solved

From February 5th's confusion:
Rei has also begun speaking in Spanish. We can tell when she's counting (uno, dos, tres ...) but a pair of related words that sound like "sudza" and "sadza" has us baffled.

I now know what she was talking about. As Dora and Boots travelled to the Big Piñata at the Carnival, they had to fix the Ferris Wheel by replacing missing struts. They varied in size from long to short, "larga" and "corta". The accompanying hand gestures now make sense.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Family Holiday

The Centre for Christian Studies' Winter Learning Circle is in full swing at the convent guesthouse of the Sisters of St. John the Divine. We took advantage of my parental leave (and off-duty Sundays) to visit some old classmates on their day off.

Rei was feverish last night (we had to hold her down to administer some acetominophen) so we didn't know if we'd get away today or not. While still feeling warm and despite poor appetite, she was in good spirits and we decided to head to Toronto. Her apple juice this morning was enhanced with some Tylenol; I wonder if she wondered why we were prompting her to finish her drink.

Our hotel suite is an expansive executive suite (which I found online for a bargain rate) allowing the kids to sleep in one room while we watch TV and blog in the other. After settling in, I ventured to the convent and found a room in which to share giggles and stories with all the studious students labouring at their labours. As usual, I was a welcome excuse for procrastination (it's easy for them to blame me for everything, now that I'm no longer there to defend my honour and reputation!).

Upon my return to the hotel, we apparently used up all of Rei's out-of-room energy to go the pool; when four of my compadres came by for supper, she disappeared into her room and declined to come out. Shelley graciously offered to stay with the kids and ordered room service as I had a lovely guffaw-filled repast in the hotel restaurant. Rei was asleep, in her clothes, within 10 minutes.

We'll see if there will be another pool excursion tomorrow, otherwise it will be home again, home again, jiggidy jig.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

First Fruits and Funny Face

This morning, we introduced fruit to Kai's diet. While his face suggests an adverse applesauce reaction, he kept opening up for more...
apple sauce kai

Not to be outdone, his sister offers her version of FunnyFace.
funny face rei

Friday, February 10, 2006


This morning, we were again to the library (I'm very grateful for the numerous programs they run for toddlers and children). Today we were on time, but the sound of merriment and activity that wafted down the hall halted Rei in her tracks. She looked at me and stated that she didn't want anyone to say hello to her and refused to move any further.

So I sat in the doorway of the library (which is one room in what used to be the school in Arkona) with Kai while Rei contentedly sat in the hallway by the coats and boots. She gradually moved closer and closer until she was just across the hall, almost at the door. By then the stories were over and the kids rushed out sending her back to the coats and boots.

I'd feel bad for her if I actually believed that introversion was a bad thing. Were I a socially-obsessed parent I might have made a bigger deal of it; perhaps that is why we were cosmically matched, as parent and child, or it could be she inherited from her parents.

Knowing how I am in occasions requiring extroversion, I understand how important it is to let her have her space. Although it hasn't happened yet, I've come quite close to posting an open letter to extroverts stating that just because I'm off to the side by myself doesn't mean that I need rescuing. So back off.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


The days are filled with bloggable moments, cute things the kids did or said or gurgled. I imagine there will be many such posts of unrelated anecdotes that couldn't sustain an entire post in and of themselves. So here's a little recap:

I forgot to mention earlier that Kai's second tooth broke through on Monday. (Welcome to 2nd child syndrome, my son).

This morning we got to the library's children's program in time to see it end. Graciously, the librarian did the craft with Rei and I'm sure that it went much better now that the other kids had left, leaving us with the run of the place. In my juggling to get everybody and everything home, I forgot said craft at the coathooks. When we got home, Rei stripped off her coat and her shirt, going topless for lunch and Quiet Time.

Shelley's job is proceeding well; her Blackberry from work is a nifty gadget; her brother-in-law wrote some of the programming for the phone application. And our friend Vic helped to market it, I'm sure.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Boys' Day

Rei was at daycare today so that lightened the parenting load. Wednesday's shaping up to be boys' day. I took Kai for a sled ride downtown, mailed my ROE to HRCC so that EI will deposit into our TDCT account, and rented a DVD from the gas station.

He had some big naps, I watched Transporter 2 as I ate lunch in front of the TV for some mindless fun with stellar car chases and choreographed fight scenes. Good thing I suspended my belief as the implausibility of the physics of the action and biochemistry of the plot were overshadowed only by the wardrobe selection. Luc Besson puts together some well-crafted action flicks although he borrowed too much from the previous Transporter movie (using motor oil and fire hoses as weapons, again, for example).

I washed one load of laundry, tidied the home office a bit, and made supper. Rei apparently had a great day at daycare but had a big meltdown upon returning home, wailing and crying in her coat and boots for a half-hour. We eventually got her to trade boots for shoes and coat for a bike helmet and to the supper table (although we did set aside the helmet for eating).

And that was the premiere of Boys' Day at the manse.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In the Sun

I still believe in CDs for a number of reasons: superior sound quality, the insert package, the ability to hold a physical object after forking over my money. That being said, I am a regular at iTunes, downloading the Free Single of the Week in search of my next favourite artist (so I can go buy the CD) or perusing exclusives of already beloved acts.

My latest musical acquisition, courtesy of iTunes: Michael Stipe's In the Sun featuring Chris Martin.

Six remixed versions of Michael performing Joseph Arthur's song. Who? Joseph Arthur; he opened for REM when I saw them in London (#4 of my Top 5 Concert list).

And I am picky enough to warrant purchase of an album dedicated to the same song. Each has its own merit: the duet with Joseph Arthur is nowhere as polished as with Coldplay's Chris Martin, but its earnestness and intensity gave me goosebumps.

It's going to become an valuable resource for upcoming youth retreats as well as $5 more for Hurricane Katrina relief - all proceeds from the EP will go to charity. For more info, see Michael's In the Sun Foundation.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Still churchin'

It was an early beginning to the day after a late night of stormy-weather sleeplessness. We saw Shelley off to her first day of work and from there on out it was alternating play time and TV time. Kai had a couple big naps in the morning, Rei helped me wash dishes and we played with Play-Doh.

While the kids had Quiet Time after lunch, I did a bit of church work. The storm that cancelled church on Sunday has put a dent in the "leave" element of Parental Leave; after Wednesday's Annual Meeting, I should be able to leave the work behind. Although I remain involved in some portions of the congregations' lives - such as helping lead Monday School - we're trying to approach our activity level based on how we'd be if we were part of a congregation. (I discovered the secret to getting the kids together and there on time: start getting ready to go an hour ahead of time).

Although, I already have the sense that this might take up more of my time and energy than I'd like. While I do remain committed to the ministry of the churches, I don't want to be seen as "too involved" and cloud the community's understanding of being on leave. As Rohinton Mistry suggests, it is a fine balance.

Speaking of books, I began reading a book for sheer recreation last night - the first in who knows how long. It was a psychological thriller/crime drama that boasts "once you start, you won't want to put down The Magician's Tale, a most compelling read." Somehow I managed when 24 began.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Winter Idyll

We're a Columbia Sportswear commercial waiting to happen:
It's a quaint sled ride through the softly falling snow. Daddy spends a couple hours shovelling out the driveway afterwards.

Another catch up

Another full week of church work, preparation, special program events, and an annual meeting (that did not occur, thanks to a church snow day today) saw a neglected blog.

In the half-week that passed, Shelley and I watched the Oscar-nominated Crash. It was excellent, clever, brilliant; I can't say enough good about it. And I couldn't watch it again, once is more than enough. One particular scene was incredibly gut-wrenching, heart-stopping, and when you see it, you'll know why Shelley and I were so stricken.

Kai has become increasingly stable in a sitting position and increasingly mobile, rolling, half-crawling around to points of interest.

Rei has lately been re-enacting episodes of Dora the Explorer (her parents play the role of Boots the monkey, Kai has a bit part as Swiper the Fox). Complete with backpack and map, we row through Crocodile Lake, climb mountains, traverse bumpy bridges and dance the "We-did-it" song. Rei has also begun speaking in Spanish. We can tell when she's counting (uno, dos, tres ...) but a pair of related words that sound like "sudza" and "sadza" has us baffled.

Coming up: Parental Leave.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Learning Partners

After dropping Rei off at daycare and my pants at the drycleaners for hemming, I proceeded to Goderich for some meetings with learning partners.

I enjoyed some coffee and conversation with my current learning partner as we recalled our course time in Kingston at the Shaw Transformational Leadership program and discussed latest developments in our understanding of TV shows like House and 24 as well as personal authenticity/transparency and adaptive change in organizational settings.

Then I met up with my ex for lunch, with whom I remain on very good terms. If anyone is doing a double-take at this news, don't be surprised. A learning partnership is something that one cannot cast easily aside and my ex-learning partner from my time at The Centre for Christian Studies will always be very dear to me.

Ours was a relationship built on appreciation of silence, distilled and fermented beverages, and giggles. We indulged in all of these. Although, as well as you think you know someone, there are always surprises. For instance, the fact that we both have a list of top cheerleader movies. Mind you it is a short list even when combined, for what it's worth: Bring It On; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Sugar & Spice.