Wordless Wednesday – At the duck pond

At the duck pond

At the duck pond

At the duck pond

Hungry

Follow the leader

At the duck pond

At the duck pond

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Divide and conquer

The lils are in a wedding in just ten days, and have nothing suitable to wear. They NEED outfits for this, and we have received little no inspiration and guidance from the bride and groom.  This morning, I made the ill-advised decision to take both lils on a shopping trip with me, hoping that they would find looking for pretty clothes fun.  They are my children, though, and did not.

We went to Sears, and managed to find a cute suit for Woo.  The lils still haven’t seen it, as they were nowhere near me during any part of the looking.  They were either running around and hiding from me, or steadfastly refusing to walk with me, hold my hand, hold each other’s hands, or go where I asked them too.  Thankfully the store was pretty empty.  I should have seen this for the warning that it was. I did not.

We headed to the escalator, so that we could go downstairs to the mall.  As we were walking over, I thought that we should maybe take the elevator, but decided against it.  I tried to grab their hands to go down, but both protested and claimed that they could manage without me.  I knew they could not, but let them, positioning myself between them, just in case.  This way I could grab either (or both) if I needed to.

We reached the top and Goose handed me their snack bowl.  In the instant that I took my eye off Woo, he stepped forward and put one foot on the top stair. He then stopped moving.  The escalator, of course, did not, and two stairs passed before he slid his back foot onto a stair.  He was doing a mean splits and started to panic, so I grabbed him and got both feet onto the same stair, making sure that he was OK.  I then heard a squeal from the top of the escalator, where Goose was realizing that we were halfway down, and she was still at the top.

Afraid that she was going to just launch herself at us (as she is prone to doing from the tops of stairs), I turned and headed up, telling Woo to ride to the bottom and wait.  Telling her that I was coming, I took a few steps and made little headway.  She was still squeaking, so I stepped it up a little and thought that I could take the stairs two at a time.  I could not.  My toe caught one of the steps, and I went sprawling forward.

Have you ever tried to right yourself from a prone position on a moving escalator?  While still trying to make forward progress in the direction opposite to the one that the escalator is moving? Don’t. It is not easy or graceful. When I finally righted myself, I got Woo to retrieve my keys, which had flown out of my pocket, and made my way back to the top.

After what seemed like an eternity, I reached a very concerned Goose and we rode together to Woo.  they had many questions… Why did you spill our snack? Is there any more snack? Is the snack all dirty?  Why is the snack all over?  Did you throw our snack?  Are you sure we can’t eat that snack?

Thanks for looking after my well being, lils.  Don’t worry about all the skin I left on the stairs, the bruises I am now sporting, or the toenail I am pretty sure I will lose.

I think they are trying to kill me.

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Wordless wednesday – early morning

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Greening hotels


I don’t often stay in hotels any more, and when I do, I certainly don’t get the time to ponder their policies or the little signs that they leave hanging in the shower. My trip to San Diego this month was different, and I actually got to take daily showers, so I saw the sign posted above a lot. You may have seen this sign, or similar ones if you stayed in a hotel recently. It encourages you to make the right choice and green our planet by hanging your towel up if you want to save and re-use it after you shower. I always do this, and yet 90% of the time my towel is exchanged for a new one when I return to my room after it is refreshed. My stay at the Marriott in San Diego was no exception.

I am not sure why the staff exchanges the towels, if they forget that it was hung up, if there is actually a corporate policy that directs staff to refresh the towels, if they think that I really meant to have it changed, or if the towel really smells and I haven’t noticed. What ever the reason, it is clear to me that this initiative isn’t working, and doesn’t make me see the hotels as doing something to green the earth. It actually ticks me off a bit, telling me to “do my part”, but then not following through.

I know that the business of hotels can be inherently wasteful. They need to be far more careful about sanitization and cleanliness than I do in my home, and they cater to a large number of guests, most of whom stay there wanting to be pampered and taken care of. I really do understand this, but am no less irked. The daily refresh got me thinking about ways that hotels can make efforts to be greener without sending out these confusing messages and ticking me off in the process. There have to be meaningful changes that they can implement that don’t significantly impact a guest’s experience, or that demonstrate a true desire to reduce an ecological foot print.

Looking around my room, I saw several places where I thought that this particular hotel could have helped me reduce my footprint. In my room there were disposable cups for the coffee maker, wrapped in plastic. They had lids, that were also wrapped in plastic, but a separate piece of plastic. There were recycle bins in some areas of the hotel, but none in the guestrooms. They used incandescent bulbs in the light fixtures, where CFLs or (even better) LEDs could have been used. A gentle reminder to put the do not disturb on the door may have saved me from having the room cleaned when it didn’t really need it… These were the simple things I noted in my room. There likely were many more that could be carried out throughout the hotel. I wish I had seem some, or been told of some. Their absence made the message in the simple shower sign all the more frustrating.

I know that there are no simple solutions, but the card in the shower is not a solution at all. I have never stayed in a hotel when following the instructions on the card has met with the desired result. There has to be a better way.

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A tale of two passport officers

There are lists upon lists upon lists in this house right now.  My India lists were taking over my list book, so I had to buy a special book that now houses all of the lists relating to our big adventure.  The very first list in this new book is the urgent to-do list. There are very few things on this page at the moment, but I can see it filling quickly in the coming months.

One of the things that we MUST GET DONE to figure out when we might possibly move to India is apply for visas.  This process is said to take ten business days, and requires that we have passports that are valid after the proposed return date to Canada.  Willy’s and my passports met this requirement, but the lils did not.  Once we realized this was the case, we gathered all that we needed and I went to the passport office bright and early on a Tuesday morning.

When I arrived, I presented the applications, and told the person who assigns the number our story, including the need for urgency, and my desire to expedite our applications. He gave encouraging responses, and put me in the cue.  When my number was called, I went to the wicket and again explained my story.  We were moving to India for a temporary placement of one year. We need visas for tickets, but need to renew the passports for the visas, and that we would like to have the passports returned quickly, in case we were asked to move in early September. When I was finished, he asked what day our flight was.  I explained again the passport to visa to ticket link, and he looked at me like I had three heads.  He explained that he didn’t believe that we would be wanting to move to India that quickly, and asked for proof from Willy’s work.

Proof I didn’t have.  I tried to talk to the agent, see what I could do to make validate the information that I was presenting him with, but I was met with blank looks and repeated head shakes. He made me feel as though I was a thorn in his side, who should have known better than to come down to the office without a plane ticket booked.  He pretty much assured me that tickets would be necessary, but eventually conceded that a letter might suffice. 

Resigned to the fact that I would not be doing an expedited renewal of the passports that day, I asked what the turnaround for the service would be, so I could plan for my return trip.  He told me that it was nine days.  Given this was one day short of the regular turnaround, and that I would have to leave and come back the next day, I asked that they be processed normally.  He denied me of that too, because there was more than one year before the passports expired.  He told me that the only way I could get the passports renewed was on the 24-hr turnaround.  Apparently this all should have been explained to me when I checked in, but it wasn’t. When I left I was really close to tears, tears of frustration and time wasted.

Two days later I returned bright and early.  This time I was armed with a letter from Willy’s work, and was willing to turn on the water works if necessary.  There were very few people waiting, so I got to the wicket quickly.  I was met by a smiling face, someone who seemed executed and interested to hear about our adventure.  As he quickly processed the two applications, he made jokes with me and was genuinely pleasant.  The only disappointment I had was minor, when he told me that I could not get the passport within a day if I didn’t have an imminent flight.  This was quickly rectified when he told me that the passports would be ready two days later.  I left happy, with our timeline back on track.

Now that I safely have the two new passports in hand,  I can’t help but wonder how it is that I had such different experiences in the same week.  I told essentially the same story, save for the letter authenticating the trip.  While this did have an impact on the outcome, I was also misinformed by the first agent that I met with, a fact that wouldn’t have changed with the letter.  I understand now why this is such a feared and loathed experience for many.

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Losing Wolfie

My lils were never ones to suck their thumbs, or to be soothed by pacifiers. Sometimes I wished they would use either – or both! They both developed very early attachments to special toys or other objects, and it was there that they found their comfort. For Woo, his first and best love was his blankie. For Goose it was her doll that was given to her at birth by my aunt and uncle. While both of these are the go to in times of distress, others have come to take significance in their lives over time. For Woo, right now, his little wolf that Santa delivered under the tree this year is *almost* on par with blankie for comfort and love.

Imagine our surprise when we noticed in the middle of last week that Wolfie was missing! We searched all the usual spots, all the unlikely spots, and even spots that Woo could not have reached or that Wolfie would not have fit into. He was really MISSING. While the lils and I were at the cottage on the weekend Willy tore the house apart (and then cleaned it up!!!), but no Wolfie. I got home and repeated the exercise, then got our wonderful, awesome daycare provider to do the same to her house, just in case Wolfie had snuck through the security fence. We have a pretty strict rule about taking loveys out of the house for exactly this reason, but there was a slim chance that he had been smuggled out. He wasn’t there either. We were stumped and declared him lost.

This was a particularly bad time for Wolfie to go MIA. We started our immunizations for the big move on the day after Wolfie was first reported missing. Woo was sad to go to the doctor with out him that morning, but decided that his Curious George could accompany he and blankie to the doctor. This surprised us but we went with it. All was fine until our Doc gave “immunizations” to the various loveys that the lils had brought to the appointment. Woo realized that Wolfie missed his needle and was distraught. I promised that we would find Wolfie in time for the next round of needles.

The second round happened yesterday. Willy and I both thought that appointment was on Friday, and hadn’t found or replaced Wolfie by Tuesday night when the calendar error was discovered. I knew I could replace Wolfie, as Woo and I had discovered his twin in a local mall one day. I just didn’t want to do that without talking it through with the lil man. Right before we were going to the appointment I had to explain that we were getting needles early, that Wolfie wasn’t around to get needles, and that I could get “another” Wolfie, but it would be too late for today’s needles. It did not go well. There were many pleas to go now or make the mall open. Much discussion ensued, and in the end his moose got the needle and I went shopping after work.

I presented the replacement at the end of the day. He was too soft, too fluffy, too big, too white (Wolfie needed a bath…), too not Wolfie. It made Woo more distraught, but I explained that Wolfie became how he was because Woo loved him and squeezed him so much. The new guy just needed some love. Woo decided that he was up for it, and they went skipping off together. I knew all was well when I tucked them in at night, and the new Wolfie was cuddled under his arm.

This morning I was changing the sheets on Woo’s bed when I noticed that the mattress was lumpy. I lifted the corner and found Wolfie. Of course. He was even flatter now, but he made a little boy’s day. They spent the day together, with Woo going over each little difference. He loves that he now has two Wolfie’s, and is excited for them to get their needles. I am kicking myself for replacing him when I did. We knew he would turn up eventually, just didn’t expect it would be the very day AFTER we replaced him!!

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Wordless Wednesday – Dock Spiders

Mama spider

Baby dock spiders!

Dock Spider

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Upside-down

At the beginning of this year Willy was presented with an opportunity that would have allowed our family to move to Bangalore, India for a year.  We were both very excited, and started the ball rolling on the various hurdles that needed to be cleared.  It was a very exciting time for us both, as we have both wanted to travel to India together, and wanted to have our family experience living in another country, another culture. 

The weeks that followed were filled with anticipation, excitement, and stress.  We didn’t tell our families or friends, as we knew nothing was certain.  I only had Willy to talk about this with. He would come home and almost every day I would ask what was happening, if he knew anything, when he would know anything, and why he didn’t know anything.   I started to make plans with an eye to the future, trying to figure out what I could and could not commit too, and what we need to do to ensure that the lils would thrive in this new environment.  

The weeks turned into months and things progressed incredibly slowly.  Just when it looked like the trip was no longer going to happen, there was a small bit of forward progress.  I am sure that there were lots of things happening behind the scenes, but this was what I saw.  It frustrated me and had me on edge. 

Finally, in late March, it looked like there was no possibility of travel to India, and we closed that door. It was very sad, as I had really hoped that we would have this wonderful experience.  It was also a relief, an end to the stress and uncertainty, and meant that I would not have to face all my fears for the family about moving to a completely new world.

Life went back to normal.  We planned for the summer and fall, started talking about family vacations, school for Woo, new adventures for Goose, and just living life.  Then Willy sent me an email. India was back on if we wanted it, and had cleared almost all of the organizational hurdles.

It means that he and I will likely be going to India in the next couple of weeks to look for a place to live and ensure that we can get both lils into school, JK for Woo, and nursery school for Goose.  If all can be put in place, we’ll return home and pack up our lil family for this new adventure!

I’ve written a million pro/con lists about the trip.  There are some cons, and some things that we will all miss out on.  We will all miss our families, friends and our fabulous daycare.  Our life will turn upside-down for a while, but it will right itself.  There will be new things to see and do, new people to meet, and many wonderful experiences.  We might hate it, but we might just love it.  That is why we can’t miss this opportunity.  We’re moving to India. Soon. Really, really soon. 

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Wordless wednesday – When mommy is away…

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Scenes from San Diego

I’m hanging out in San Diego this week for Blogher’11.  It’s been a fabulous trip so far, and still have three more days. The conference itself is only two days long, but in coming here I decided to make this a six day weekend.  It’s what Willy does when he goes away golfing… So this is a case of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

When I woke on thursday morning, our first morning here, I rolled over in bed to find someone in bed with me. I was sure that I had gone to bed alone, but I didn’t panic.  It took me a minute to recognize that it was just my roomie Anna, who had arrived in the night.  It was a weird experience waking to someone who wasn’t there when I went to sleep. Anna had been very concerned about waking us when she came in.  She does stealthy well. 

We all woke before five, but lay in the dark talking.  It was relaxing and nice to be able to enjoy a peaceful morning.  Three of us went off to breakfast, and found a restaurant that looked decent and was populated by locals.  The service was spotty, and coffee bad, but the food was good so it was a bit of a wash.  As our meal was ending, I asked the waiter where the washroom was.  He looked at me blankly for a minute and then struggled to find the word restroom in asking for for clarification.  I looked up and said, “sorry, Canadian” as a way to explain my word choice.  He shrugged his shouders and said, “s’okay, Mexican” with a smile.

Later in the day my other roomie Krista and I headed for lunch.  We found a lovely little crepe place and sat on the patio.  Our meal was interrupted a couple of times by the sounds of a very loud argument across the street.  A couple appeared to be having a fight, and when I looked up I could see what appear to be clothing flying.  We remarked on it, thinking that it was quite the row. I sort of half listened, just to make sure that all was ok.  A couple of minutes later I heard another sharp yell, and looked up to see the couple having an animated discussion while folding laundry.  Clearly not a serious fight if they were still doing household chores.

Krista and I had a fun and relaxing day together, and I told her as much, that I thought we made good travel partners, and that I would travel with her again.  She smiled, and we continued to enjoy our day.  A couple of hours later she told me that she thought she could travel with me elsewhere too.  I teased her about having taken so long to return the favour and she likened it to saying I love you – you can’t just throw it out there rashly.  At least now we’ve both said our travel I love you’s!

It was a good day in San Diego.

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