30
October

Naughty

From the moment that he came into our lives, we knew we had an imp on our hands.  Woo seemed to want to play a trick on you, make you laugh, or get you riled up from an early age.  I’ll never forget the first time that I became aware that he was a trickster.  He was six or seven months old, and had just woken from a nap.  I was listening to his happy babbles on the baby monitor in the kitchen, when I noticed that they had changed from babbles to a new pattern.  I would hear some rustling of his blankets, followed by a few seconds of silence, then he would say “HEE HEE HEE”, and giggle.  He repeated this a few times until I got curious enough to check it out.

I snuck up the stairs and opened his door.  He had been sleeping in a lounger on the floor and was facing the door.  When I quietly opened the door, his blanket was over his head and he was perfectly still. He gave the “HEE HEE HEE”, giggled, and shot his arms up in the air to pull the blanket off his head.  He then gathered the blanket up, covered his head again and grew still one more time before going through the routine again.  After I watched a couple more times, I snuck in and said “where’s Woo?” at just the right moment.  He paused and then carried through his routine, but when he pulled the blanket off this time he looked so pleased with himself.

This was the first sign he might be a bit of a troublemaker. It’s continued as he has grown, and most of the time he is trying to get a laugh.  Once he does, he can’t stop trying for more laughs.  It is generally pretty cute, but occasionally gets out of hand.  Like after a few weeks of school last year when every parent that we met made comments like “oh, so THIS is the famous Woo” or “so YOU are Woo’s parents, we have heard so much about him!” He settled down after a couple of weeks, but I often wondered what we weren’t hearing about, and when it would start to get out of hand.

I was certain that he was going to grow into the class clown and that we would have many, many calls to pick him up from the principal’s office for this behavior.  I was wrong. The lils met me at the gate one day last week, and Goose reported that Woo had hit her.  I tried to get to the bottom of it, but neither were really clear on how it happened, if a teacher had been notified, or if he had been punished.  I figured that I would try again later and we headed home for snack.  As I was unpacking his back, I got to the bottom of the story.  It was there that I found a note.

The note had clearly been read by Woo, as it was ripped in half.  It told how Woo had been naughty at school and had to be sent to the principal’s office and miss the majority of his recess as punishment.  It seems that he didn’t just hit his sister, he did it with a shovel! This was not the impression that I thought he would be leaving, just two short weeks into school at the age of five! His teacher did acknowledge that it was out of character and he had clearly been punished for his actions, so we talked through the behaviour and why we never take out our frustrations by hitting.  He seems to have gotten the message, and we haven’t had any incidents since.  I am hoping that there will be no next note, or the dreaded call from another child’s parents, but I fear that hope is in vain.  Perhaps this is why you don’t put siblings in the same class?!

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26
October

Working for the weekend

I have been planning to go to an annual blogging conference in Toronto for about two years.  I didn’t go to the first one, held in October 2010, as I was new to blogging, and didn’t really think that a blogging conference would be beneficial to me.  I was wrong, and regretted my decision not to go before the conference had even been held.  I didn’t go the second one in Toronto, despite having bought a ticket.  I was nowhere near Toronto last October, given that we were just getting settled in India.  I was sad to have missed it too, and vowed that I would attend in October 2012, no matter where we were living in the world.

I purchased my ticket the day that they went on sale, and started to make plans with my two travel partners, Anna and Krista.  They are simply awesome travel companions, and it was just assumed that we would go together.  We chatted back and forth about the conference over email, until one day Anna let me know that she had been contracted to shoot the conference as their official photographer!  I offered my congrats, and then she sent me a note that both excited me and terrified me – she asked me to work as her second shooter for the conference!  Although I have never actually shot anything other than family get togethers and little children’s parties for my own use, I was pretty pleased that she had faith in my abilities and trusted that I would produce the images that she needed. She has seen a lot of my pictures, so it is not like she didn’t know what she was in for.

In the months leading up to the conference, I was pretty quiet about my role.  It was almost as if I did not believe that I was going to be working the conference, and that Anna might just send me a note that she had found someone more qualified.  I prepared though, by studying the types of images that had been used before and treating any event that I attended as a gig, where I would try to get the right kind of shots.  Willy even talked his work into allowing me to shoot one of their conferences to get some practice in.  It was very worthwhile, as I learned a lot about shooting this type of event, and was able to produce a series of images that they were happy with at the end.

The morning of the first day, I was beyond nervous.  Instead of taking my last bit of free time and doing something fun, I holed up in the room and checked, double-checked, and then triple-checked my gear.  Once I was certain that it was working properly and all was clean, I fired off a couple more test shots for kicks.  Then it was go time.  Once I started to take pictures I was fine, and even started to have a little bit of fun.  It helped to have great friends and a supportive response from conference staff and attendees alike.

The weekend basically flew by, but it was a lot of hard work.  I don’t remember the last time that I shot that much, and my hands were sore from holding the camera by the end of each day.  We went non-stop from registration, through the parties, the sessions, the exhibitors, and the fun excursions that people went on the last day.  I could not believe how physically tiring it was, and I am now even more impressed by professionals, like Anna, who do this all the time.  This was my first time doing any sort of work in over a year, and I returned home Sunday night and fell into bed, exhausted.

It was a great experience for me, and I am pretty sure that Anna liked enough of my shots that she was happy too. Most of all it was a great learning experience.  Yes, I take pretty pictures, but I have lots left to learn, and much more to practice.  I am happy with how the weekend turned out.  If you are curious to see any of the pictures, both our pictures are available in the most recent sets at http://www.flickr.com/photos/77190089@N06/sets/.

 

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24
October

I don’t do chain letters

We have all gotten them.  Back in the day, they came by postal mail, and asked that you write out the letter and send it to some random number of people to either ensure world peace, or prevent eternal damnation.  Sometimes there was a list of people that HAD participated, and you were supposed to add your name to the bottom when you sent out your copies.  I never forwarded any of them on, which likely explains why there are still wars in the world and the fact that I am going to hell.  Still, I don’t forward the emails that these letters eventually became, and I can’t be bothered to update my status with whatever is going around to raise awareness for various causes.  I am clearly going to hell.

As we were getting the lils ready for bed tonight, our doorbell rang.  It was odd because it never gets rung, unless we are expecting guests; and the front of our house was completely dark.  I was reading to Goose, but curious enough to answer it. When I flipped on the light and opened the door I saw no one.  Kids, I thought, and was about to close the door when I looked down and saw a brown paper bag on the edge of the porch.  I reached for it, then hesitated, as you never know what is in a brown paper bag that is left, in the dark, on your porch, about a week before Hallowe’en.  I sniffed and noted that it was not flaming, so I picked it up and brought it inside.

Once I was inside, I noticed that “Happy Hallowe’en” had been written on the bag.

I turned it over and saw this (you can read it if you enlarge the picture).

The Coles notes version of the text is that the bag is filled with candy.  The recipient is supposed to keep the candy, but fill five more bags, drop them on their neighbours porches and dash before being seen – they are “ghost” deliveries of candy.  My heart sunk a little as I ready this.  A chain letter.  A Hallowe’en chain letter that comes with candy.  I love Hallowe’en, I really do, but I can’t do this, because I hate chain letters.  Not everyone loves holidays that I love, not everyone shares the same beliefs, not everyone believes that a letter will bring world peace.  There is no obvious agenda  here and no goal other than sharing a little candy, but deep down, it is still a chain letter.

I’ll eat the candy though.

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19
October

Bad Doctor

I found our pediatrician when I was expecting Woo. Finding someone was not an easy task, largely because I didn’t have a family doctor to refer us and there were very few doctors in Ottawa who were actually taking patients. She was the first that said yes and I signed up without a second thought. I knew something was off during our first visit when we felt we were rushed, and our very valid, brand spanking new parent questions and concerns were brushed aside in an apparent effort to get us through the appointment within our allotted time. I should have just trusted my gut.

Over the five plus years that we have taken our children to see this doctor, I have grown increasingly frustrated by her bedside manner and the way that she has treated our family in general. It seems that every time either of us leaves her office we have yet another story to tell. In our tenure with her she has: told us to book a second appointment time if we have questions to ask; minimized my concerns about my child’s development; told me that one of my children’s behaviour was “just strange” when I asked about it; told me that my four month old was OBESE; gotten mad at me for not calling her when Woo and I fell down the stairs and he fractured his skull; doubted that my children could speak when I told her how much and how early they were talking (possibly because they were too scared to talk in her presence); shushed my infant who was happily babbling; scared both of my children by ripping their shirts up and jamming a cold stethoscope on their back, then getting mad at them because she could not hear when they were crying… I could (and have been known to) go on. We have stuck with her, though, partially because it is still hard to find a pediatrician in Ottawa, and because it seems that every time that I get irked enough to just stop bringing the lils to her we have a good visit; where she is caring, attentive, and charming with the littles. Normal even.

There have been two instances where I absolutely should have switched from her, but didn’t. Yet. The first was when Woo had peanuts for the first time. He was two, and we gave him peanut butter on a cracker. He loved it, but his body did NOT. He started coughing, having trouble breathing, swelling, hives, all the classic signs of a reaction. We rushed him to the hospital, where they confirmed that it was an anaphylactic reaction. They treated and advised that we avoid all nuts and see his doctor for a referral to an allergist as soon as possible. I made an appointment the next day, and she did not believe that the reaction was allergic/anaphylaxis and didn’t want to refer him to an allergist. She thought it was VIRAL. I insisted, and we were referred. Our allergist was quite ticked when he got the referral, on which she had written a snarky little note saying the referral was being made “only because the mother insisted.” It was a classic case of anaphylaxis, and Woo has quite a serious peanut allergy. We should have switched.

The second, and last time that she has really ticked me off, was during our visit last week. I had the lils in for a post-India check-up, and was meeting with her about Woo. Early in the visit she made some remark about him being four and a half, so I politely corrected her because he is five and a half. She questioned me, in an “are you sure” kind of way, and then CHECKED THE FILE to verify his age. Cleary I wouldn’t know how old he is. We moved on, and I mentioned that he was still experiencing constipation, sometimes for prolonged periods. She immediately told me that this must be behavioural, given that it had just started. I explained that it was not always severe, but that this was something that he had been experiencing from the time that he was not yet two. At this point she started flipping through his file, reading his history. When she was finished, she looked at me and told me that he did not have a history of constipation, as she had no note of it in the file!

I was livid, but Woo was in the room with me, so I managed to keep my cool. I hate the insinuation that she knew my child’s history best, based on four pages of notes that cover the last four five years of his life. The bottom line is that we know it is not a new “behaviour”, we are both certain that it has been mentioned at each and every check-up type appointment that he has had, and at some point the doctor needs to believe what the parents are telling them. She set up a follow-up appointment, but I have since cancelled it because of a conflict. I hope that I don’t have to rebook it with her. So, anyone know of a GREAT pediatrician** who can take on two more low maintenance lils?

** EDIT – We are looking for a doctor – family doc or pediatrician! :)

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18
October

Wordless Wednesday – Worldwide Photowalk

Tall grasses

Shadows

Contrast

Fallen

Shining through

Frosty morn

Creeping

Dusty old web

Flapper

On a bench

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16
October

On ice!

One of my earliest memories of defying my parents always happened under the cover of darkness.  I used to lie in bed and secretly listen to the Montréal Canadiens broadcasts on my radio, long after I was supposed to be asleep.  i never got caught, but growing up in a family of hockey fans, maybe I did… I was a diehard Habs fan for a long time, until Ottawa got the Senators and I became a season ticket holder. Hockey was a big part of my life growing up, so it is no surprise that it still is now.

The lils have grown up with hockey in their lives.  The first time we left Woo alone with a sitter was to go to a Sens game in the spring of 2007, something that was repeated many times that spring. Hockey is pretty much the only thing that they have been allowed to watch on TV for their whole lives, including this past year in India, when Woo and Goose often got up, on their own, in the pre-dawn hours to watch the playoffs with me.  In addition to watching on TV, they have both spent many an afternoon watching their Daddy play with his beer league team, and have been given all the pieces needed for many a game of living room, and then basement hockey (this change was necessitated when Woo decided to start using a real puck and learned to raise said puck). We were gifted with several full sets of ice and road hockey gear, so both lils happily play in the basement, suited up, for hours.

The winter before we moved to India was the first that Woo was really skating, on real skates. He loved it, and begged and pleaded with us to go to the local rink EVERY DAY.  We went as a family occasionally, but more often than not it was just Woo and Willy, skating, shooting pucks, goofing around.  He was so sad the day that the rink closed for the season, but had big plans for the following winter.  Those skates turned into roller blades when we moved to India, and he loved it ALMOST as much.  One of the things that we all missed was winter, and as soon as we knew that we were coming home, Woo started talking about skating.

All he wants to do is shoot!

Still I hesitated to enrol him in hockey upon our return. I didn’t want to be the parent that forced their lil to play a sport that they never played/played well, and I wanted to make sure that I was putting him in it because he liked it, not because I liked the idea of it.  It was a visit with friends, just days after getting home that convinced me to give it a try.  Their daughter is the same age and starting out this year, and she is loving it. We wanted to let him have a chance to see if he felt the same. We found a spot for him and filled him in on the plan.  He was hesitant when he heard that his dad wasn’t going to be on the ice with him, but it took mere minutes (and a trip to Canadian Tire for a new stick etc) to get him excited.

His first practice was this past Saturday at 7:00 AM.  Willy took him, despite fighting jetlag.  All of my fears melted away when he walked in the door and told me that it had been “good, great, awesome, awesome, AWESOME!!!!” He was hooked, in one short hour.  Sunday afternoon, he and Willy headed to the closest rink for public skating and spent the better part of two hours on the ice. He came home happy and excited to go again.  I can’t wait for the ice to be put in in the park so that we can go every day after school.  Time for Goose and I to get new skates, and maybe, just maybe, time for me to start to play hockey again.

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12
October

Pass the purse

Willy and I met when we both worked for a small software company here in Ottawa.  At the time that we started working together there were about 40 employees, and we were a close knit bunch.  As the company grew, so did our circle of friends. They were a lot like family in many ways, likely because many of them WERE my family.  At one point my sister, brother, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, boyfriend (not Willy), roommate, and my best friend were all on the payroll.  Can you say nepotism?

Time went on, the company grew and was purchased by a large corporation, I left (as did some others), but many of the core group stayed with the big company.  Willy and his friends largely stayed together on the same team, which worked well, as a bunch of their wives became good friends with each other and their few female colleagues.  Over time we started to take advantage of the fact that our spouses worked together, and used them to pass along things that we had borrowed from one another.  We called it the courier system, and it worked really well!  It became very convenient when we all started to have little people and share baby clothes.  Well, we thought that it was convenient…

It was the courier system that I thought of when I forgot my purse at girlie poker last night.  It is this very reason why I don’t generally carry a purse.  I forget them everywhere.  Given that I am often carrying a camera bag, I can usually jam my phone and wallet in it and get by.  The problem is that I get sucked in by some cute bags, and I found some really cute ones in India.  Ones that I leave in my friend’s kitchen late at night when I am solo parenting.  A quick email to my friend, and her husband was bringing it to the office today for me to pick up.

The courier system does not work as well when Willy is out of town.  Either things have to wait until he is home, or go and pick up them up myself.  Woo’s epi-pen was in the bag, so I had to get the bag myself.  Unfortunately, I was busy and missed the small window of time when I could meet my friend’s husband due to his busy day. Before I could even try to figure out how to get the purse today, another of husband/co-worker/friend let me know that he had my purse and was free for me to come and get it from him.  I messaged him to call me and let me know where to meet him.  In that time he let me know that he bumped into yet another husband/co-worker/friend who lives near us.  He was driving right by our house on the way home and would drop off the purse.

I have my purse now, proof that the courier system works really, really well, even when there are links missing.  It helps to have really great friends who take good care of you, and for that I am grateful.  I’ve ditched the bag for now, but I know that another will tempt me soon (there might be a couple of cute ones in the shipment).  Hopefully I will have developed a system for remembering it by then.

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11
October

Wordless wednesday – leaves are turning

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10
October

Numb

In some ways, it’s hard to believe that we were still living in India just two short weeks ago. Sure we were winding down and packing up, but the lils were still going to school and Willy to work.  It was a busy time, but the biggest stresses of moving were behind us, and we got to just enjoy our last day or two.  We did and the last days made leaving harder.

I don’t know what I expected when we got home, but it wasn’t just this frenzy of doing STUFF that we have been doing.  When we were home in May we socialized and visited and very little else.  Our house was in great shape thanks to our sister-in-law, so we could just vacation.  Now there are all those little and big things that need taking care of; school for the lils, new car, home maintenance, finding and buying warm clothes… every time I tick one thing off the list, three appear at the bottom.  I am a week behind where I thought that I would be, and we’ve barely been home that long.

What it means is that I really haven’t fully let it sink in that we are home.  We miss our friends in Bangalore, but don’t have time to be sad; we talk to family and friends here, but haven’t really seen them. I feel that we are floating in a surreal in between world. Willy has been gone since Friday, which means that I am trying to do it all solo, which exacerbates this feeling. I keep waiting for that moment where it sinks in that we are here, or that I freak out because we aren’t there, or feel completely out of place because Canada/Ottawa is so different than India/Bangalore; that reverse culture shock that I have been warned about.  Instead I am going through all these tasks in somewhat of a numb state, working through the day and tired at night.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll stop and let it sink in.

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9
October

Someone has to be the responsible one

In the fall of 2010, I was contracted to develop the curriculum for a course being offered at a local post-secondary institution.  I said yes, as I was both interested in the process and happy to contribute to a new program that was being offered in my field.  I assumed that I wasn’t the director’s first choice, given that I was brought on VERY late in the process, but I felt that I could contribute, so I kicked into high gear.  About seven weeks after I was initially contacted, I delivered a rough draft, and three weeks later my course was being taught.  There were no changes to the lessons that I authored, so I am pretty confident that I did a kick-butt job on this one.  It was a lot of hard work.

Towards the end of the course, I was contacted by the instructor to see if I could teach the last two weeks of the term and oversee the final exam. It was fun to see the lessons in action, to see that it really did work.  Marking the final research papers and exams showed me that a few of the students struggled with the course design, but that most of them got it – and got varying degrees of knowledge out of it.  The experience also taught me that I would need a lot more practice before I could call myself an instructor.

This past year, I was asked to migrate the course to an online learning format and to teach the online section of the course. We were in India, but I did not see that as a problem and said yes.  Alas, no one enrolled in the online section, and I didn’t get to do anything.  My email was still on the online facilitators mailing list, so I started getting email in late August about the new term starting up. Given that no one had asked me to teach, I assumed that it was an oversight. There were a few more group emails sent, so just to be certain, I logged into the system and noted that I was indeed listed as the instructor for this session of the course, but all of the details pertained to the winter session.  Just to triple check that I wasn’t actually teaching a course this fall, I checked the class roster.  There were no students listed.

On Thursday morning I received an email asking that I submit an invoice for the first part of the term. I politely replied that I was not going to be submitting an invoice, as no one had asked me to teach and there were no students in the course.  The response I received was that they assumed that I had been asked and that there was one student in the class.  We had some back and forth, mostly concerning the fact that I could not see the student as listed in the course.  No one was concerned that I had not been asked to teach the course, or more importantly, that there has been a student enrolled in the class for five weeks, yet no one was aware of the fact that he wasn’t being taught.

So I guess I am teaching a class.  For one student. I am doing this for the poor student who was forgotten.  It’s going to be painful to modify the course to make up for the lost time, and the fact that there is only one student enrolled, coupled with the fact that we are just trying to set things back up at home and Willy is travelling a bunch this fall.  Had they asked me to teach (and they still haven’t), I would have said no.  Instead I feel that I need to look out for the student that they clearly don’t feel a need to.

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