Monday, January 30, 2012


Well, we're officially in the depths of winter. Though it hasn't been as brutal as other winters have been, it's still enough sometimes to affect my motivation to get outside.

I always wanted to make sure I got out with my baby. I wanted to test the limits of where we could go together. I didn't want to be housebound! The baby was to come along with us on our adventures, and he wouldn't be an excuse to become recluses.

That's still my goal. But, realistically, sometimes I have big plans, then I look out the window. Then I consider my options.

Option 1: Going out.

Click to Enlarge

Option 2: 

Hard to argue with that. So I end up deferring my plans to another day.

So sometimes I wonder if I'll spend half the winter inside just because it is apparently too much of an ordeal to go out.

But then, not long ago we had some bad weather. School-bus-cancelling bad weather! Freezing rain, etc.! And it lasted for a few days. The first day or so I was very content to stay inside, get stuff done and have quality time with the little papoute.

By day 2, though, I was shackwacky. So was Kiddo. So after a few hours following him around as he flung things out of drawers and climbed my pant legs and whatnot, I decided we were getting out of the house if we had to tunnel out. It was Gymboree or bust.

And, as it turns out, there was a surprisingly good turnout at the Gymboree class. Even with the bad weather. Apparently I wasn't the only parent who had gone shackwacky. The instructor just thought we were all really dedicated.

So maybe I'm not at risk of becoming a recluse after all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

10 Months is a Cool Age

You know how they say that babies will bypass the toy and play with the box it came in?

Keep that in mind as you take this quiz I have for you.

Question 1:

The answer is 'c'! The grating is the perfect size for little fingers. I figure he's interpreted "NO, not for Owen" as "Thar be treasure in there if ye kin get the cover off."

Question 2:

The answer, again, is 'c'! Bath time is officially over when there is no water left in the tub.

Question 3:

Did you pick 'c'? Right again! You never know what will be most appealing to your curious kid.

In all, 10 months is a pretty cool age. My son's excitement for...  well, pretty much everything, is contagious, especially as it becomes evident that he is starting to grasp how the world works.

WOW! The train moves if I put a cube in the caboose! 
WOW! If I chuck it on the floor, Mum picks it up! Whoa, she did it again! Sucker.
WOW! You were under the blanket! I totally knew that.

I'm also impressed by the effort he is willing to make in order to make these discoveries.  I see him huff and puff and grunt as he crawls through the base of the kitchen table, for no apparent reason but to get to the other side. Dude, go around. I'm tired just watching him. If only he could save some of that enthusiasm for when he's 15.

It's fun to get down on the floor with him, though, and discover the world alongside him with new eyes. Opening cupboards. Blanket rides through the kitchen. Suspenseful games of Peekaboo.

Once again, though, he often has his own agenda. I'll set up a big ol' discovery scenario for him on the floor with different-sized plastic containers and big spoons (as suggested by the baby books), and he'll go right by them in delighted pursuit of the heating vent cover. Again. So now what; do I have to wash all these Tupperwares I took out?

And then there are the times I'll get all carried away, getting in full goof-mode, only to discover he's moved on to something else and I'm playing baby games by myself.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Parlez-Vous Français?

I think having a kid will finally motivate me to keep the New Year's Resolution I've been making for years! That resolution is to finally become (more or less) fluent in French.

I have many reasons why I've always want to improve my French, and maybe should have by now; I have French-Canadian heritage on my dad's side, I live in the very bilingual city of Ottawa, and I'm married to a francophone whose entire family speaks only French (well, most of 'em).

What does this all have to do with having a kid? Let me explain.

Though my French is pretty good, there was always a 'but' between me and my goal.

Usually that 'but' was 'not getting quite enough good practice', since it had to be more by decision than necessity.
Practicing in the real world is tough, as other native English speakers can attest, because so many French-Canadians are bilingual. Take Montreal, for instance. Once they'd hear my Anglophone accent, they'd switch to English. I can remember I'd be all psyched up to try it out at a restaurant:

Server: Bonjour!
Me: Bonjour!

Server: Smoking or non?

Argh. Busted with only one word!

More "BUT"s...

I took courses and language programs and even lived in a French-speaking community for three years, BUT I worked and mostly socialized in English. I did learn a lot about the culture and become excellent at ordering a single-double at Tim Horton's, mind you.

I even had a colleague that a friend and I would meet on Sundays for what we called "Parlez-Vous Français" brunch, BUT soon we became friends and had too much to chat about to muddle around practicing French. Foiled again.

Now I have my hubby as a real-life potential French tutor to practice with. BUT (there's that word again), we would practice for a while and then run out of steam. It is out of one's comfort zone, after all. Plus, it felt more like we were playing a game than conversing. "Next, let's do PIG LATIN for an hour! Ease-play ass-pay the etchup-kay! Har har."

So while I improved a lot over the years, I never quite had the real push to get to where I want to be. Yet.

So this year, daily practice. No more excuses.


Because my little boy will be learning French, both from my husband and likely in school. He's going to start talking before long, and HE is going to be bilingual. And currently, when I spend time in French-speaking environments (e.g., at the in-laws'), I can keep up a half-decent conversation, but I search for my words and make mistakes. Plus, once the conversation gets lively and slang-filled (which is pretty much all the time), half of it goes over my head:
This is not the French they taught us in school! (click to enlarge)

And there's no way I'm gonna let my little baby boy grow up to laugh along with everyone else and translate for me at parties!

So now I have real motivation. Kids-- They can make you more accountable to yourself.