Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Who Knew Physicists Liked To Dance???

Matthew's lab's Christmas party was last week. Matthew was one of the organizing committee, and he got a little bit stressed about it, not gonna lie. It was a pot luck dinner so Matthew made a Google doc that could be modified by each person as they added what they were bringing. What Matthew didn't know is that in England, "pot luck" means you don't tell anyone what you're bringing - hence the 'luck' part, I guess. So a couple of really funny guys in his lab added what they were bringing - my favourites were: Crystal-Meth Stuffed Mushrooms, Spam A La Croute, Sandwich from the Vending Machine, Pond Water, and Leftovers from the Canteen.

We had a babysitter for the night - our friends Helen & Gabriel and their daughter Amy. Amy and Elizabeth are the same age, and they are besties for sure. When I said I was leaving, they were going for walks around the house with a stroller & a shopping cart, and I said, "good night Elizabeth! See you tomorrow morning!" and she said, "Bye Mummy. Walkie walkies!" 

The party was so much fun! They had a ceilidh band there: For those of you who don't know, let me reference Wikipedia:
Céilidh music may be provided by an assortment of fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhrán, and in more recent times also drums, guitar and electric bass guitar. The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps can be learned easily. Dancing at céilidhs is usually in the form of céilidh dances, set dances or couple dances. A "Set" consists of four couples, with each pair of couples facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music.
 Who knew that so many of the smartypants physicists would volunteer to dance? I think about a third of them were too bashful to even try, but the ones who did were so gung ho and it was super, super fun! Very square-dancey feeling, with a caller who tells you the steps. As well, I must tell you that the band were maybe the Most British Looking People In The World. Exhibit A:

But the dancing was so much fun, and we all had a great time. Sometimes, you have to just buy into an activity - organized dance parties are so much better once you accept that you're going to look ridiculous, and you just let go and have fun.

A couple of Matthew's colleagues have kids who are between 6 and 10, and they came and had the most fun of everyone. There is nothing sweeter than when a 6 year old girl asks a 6 foot awkward guy to dance, and then they have no choice but to say yes. We can't wait until Elizabeth is old enough to come to these events with us.

As expected, Team Hawkeye put in a good show. It was so much fun!

The guys who weren't into dancing avoided it by cleaning up after the dinner. It just so happens that the youngest and most socially awkward fellows in Matthew's lab are German. Most hilarious conversation of the night:
Georgina: "This is hilarious - an international dance party, and all the Germans are in the kitchen working."
Petros (a Cypriot): "Yes, just like the Eurozone!"

One of the German guys, Christian, brought this awesome German thing as his contribution to the pot luck. Essentially, you put a bowl of mulled wine over a heat source (in this instance, a colander upside-down over candles), put some cinnamon sticks and orange slices in, and then you lay this garden-spade looking thing over top of it. The spade-thing has a slit down the centre, and on the spade you lay a cone of sugar. Then, you pour really high-proof alcohol in a ladle, light the liquor on fire, and pour it on the sugar. The sugar then catches fire, melts, and the liquory sugar falls into the wine through the slit. It was beautiful - not very tasty, but beautiful!

But what is the true evidence of a good time at a dance party?

Friday, 16 December 2011

New Christmas Is The Way To Go!

We celebrated Christmas on December 11 this year. It was awesome. There were so many great things about it, I have to make a list:
- We spent the whole day with just the 3 of us, and had no guilt about not seeing other people, because, hey! it's not really  Christmas, it's New Christmas!
- There was no expectation involved in the day at all. Christmas can be a bit stressful, with all the people to see and it can be a bit overwhelming. You want everything to be perfect. On New Christmas Day, there's none of that! If it all goes horribly wrong, no worries! You get a do-over on December 25!
- When Elizabeth was played out by 12:30, we just put her in her bed. And then we put ourselves in bed! For 3 hours! New Christmas is great! There was no apologizing for her, or helping her stay calm, or making her eat the food that other people had made. Nope - she had cereal, one pancake, and yogurt for most of the day. And cous cous for dinner.
- We had a lamb roast instead of turkey. Seriously, best choice ever. So much easier, and again, no expectations. If you have an undercooked turkey on Christmas day, it can be a bit of a game-changer, but that's not a problem on New Christmas day - you just get a nice rare piece of lamb!

And Elizabeth finally 'gets' what presents are now. We had to divide her gifts up since after the first two, she just needed to play with them - a play-kitchen, and a baby doll with a bassinet. There was no option of getting her to care at all about the other presents. So we gave her a couple more after lunch - a paint set with paintbrushes which are seriously fun, and seriously messy. And then after dinner, a Thomas the Tank Engine train set. By that time, she totally knew what a 'present' was, and she was pretty good at ripping the paper off. Atta girl!

This was our living room when we went to bed on New Christmas Eve:
Elizabeth woke up at 7:27 am. This was the scene at about 7:31 am:

And at about 7:33 am:
And at about 7:34 am:
She showed her new baby all her toys, and the "Teeeee!!! Baby, lightsssss!!" Completely adorable. 

The other big hits were the Nemo and Dory stuffies, and the Mary Poppins dolly. She now will bring Mary Poppins to me or Matthew, and say, "Poppie!! MummyDaddy Poppie!!" (When she gets excited, she just says both our names as one...) And we, being the fools that we are, start singing some random Mary Poppins song and making Mary dance. Elizabeth loves it. She also loves the cake set that Alex & Naomi gave her - it's a great toy with velcro in between the pieces so she can carry it from room to room without losing any slices of cake. Obviously, she thinks she is incredible when she does this.

As per Elizabeth-style, she was a bit tired and sorta sick for New Christmas day (just like her birthday, and New Christmas Eve). We didn't mind at all, and just had lots of chances for Christmas cuddles. It was kinda nice, not gonna lie. 

Merry New Christmas, from the Hawkeyes!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Great Christmas Eve

We will be in Canada for December 25, so we decided we'd have an early Christmas morning for just the 3 of us. We hadn't hammered down the date yet, and yesterday when we were on the train to London, I said to Matthew, "Let's do it tomorrow!!" So, BOOM, December 10 became New Christmas Eve! We were instantly excited and had a kind of nervous energy all day. It was so much fun.

We were on the train to London to meet up with our friends Alex & Naomi. Naomi works for the St Johns Hospice,  in North London. They were having a Christmas fair as a fundraiser, and we decided to go down and check it out. It was great timing to go to a Christmassy event on New Christmas Eve! There was face-painting, an inside, man-made skating rink (sorry folks, it's still waaaay too warm here for a real one), a giant snowglobe, and some great market stalls. The Lord Mayor of Westminster came, so Naomi had to do a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing, and photo-op-ing.

Santa Claus himself was there for Elizabeth to meet. Naomi did let it slip that their scheduled Santa had called in sick the morning of the event, so they had a stand-in. . . we were glad to find out that this guy's costume had been cobbled together that morning. He was an awesome Santa - his beard, sadly, was not.

It was a pretty warm day, so we were comfortable spending most of the afternoon outside. It was so weird to be outside for hours in December, and not be in full snow-gear. This is one of my favourite pictures of my two favourite people.

After the fair, we decided to go to Harrod's, because there is no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to go to a huge department store with a massive Christmas section - aptly titled, Christmas World. Alex came with us, and in his own words, "was as overwhelmed as Elizabeth". She was dazzled. We let her walk about, and we're pretty sure she touched every single ornament. I was also caught up, and bought these four cute ornaments. These four little Harrods bears cost more than our entire tree and all the other decorations. Whoopsies.

When we left, it was already dark out and Elizabeth was stunned by the lights.This is what she saw:
and this is what she looked like:

She was such a good girl all day, and we didn't get home until really late - we magically missed two fast trains, and had to take the longest train in the world. You know how that goes. But even on the train, she was just floppy and tired, but didn't fuss or cry. I guess she was holding it all inside, because while Matthew & I were wrapping & getting ready for Christmas day:
 Elizabeth puked in her bed. Poor baby!! The excitement was just too much for her. It's a little bit reminiscent of her first birthday in London. . . Believe it or not, it was our first bed + puke experience, but luckily she went right back to sleep in a fresh bed.

We had a great New Christmas Eve - it is so much fun to be spontaneous!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Cheating Blog Post

Nothing is really new these days. It is wonderful. We are just living, and there is no drama right now. It is glorious. So I don't have anything earth-shatteringly-exciting to blog about. So far this week, Dr Faff has a cold, so has been going to bed early, I finished a book and started another, and Elizabeth has been asking for her naps. It's been a great week for quiet time & resting! Oh, and I took Elizabeth to her first "dance" class. It was awesome - she followed along with all the big kids (most kids were 2 1/2 - 3) and did the imagination games like pretending to be a snowman, stretching like a turtle out of her shell, then jumping like a raindrop. It is safe to say: she loved it.

So instead, here are some videos of regular, everyday life in the Hawkeye home. (You might notice that I am also 'tidying up' my blackberry, so all the vids are being transferred to the computer, thus to the blog...) In this one, I love how Elizabeth hooks her feet up under the edge of the book to lift it up. So clever! Elizabeth is a reading machine these days, so I have many videos called things like, "reading after breakfast", "reading to babies", and this one is called, "loud morning reading." Very original.

Lately, I've been playing this game with her, that goes something like this:
Georgina: "Oh no!! It's time to sit on Elizabeth!!"
Elizabeth: "Noooooooo!!!" (huge smile, usually starts to run away)
Georgina: "Uh oh, I guess I have to sit on her now!"
And then this happens:

And one last one (I swear) of a family dance party. Elizabeth sings along to everyone's favourite dancing song: Dancing Queen, by Abba. Poor Dr Faff.
 I love how when Matthew goes to dance with her, she runs away. Her run is hilarious - so many tiny, fast steps!!

This Could Be The Reason

Our meals seem to be lasting a really long time lately...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Mill Road Winter Fair

I know I have referenced Mill Road before, but as a reminder, it is full of hip, independent shops, and has a ton of international restaurants. Every year, on the first Saturday of December, they have the Mill Road Winter Fair, and they pedestrian-ize the whole road. All the shops have outdoor displays, and all the churches and mosques (of which there are several) have bazaars and stalls set up inside & out. We had a really fantastic day!

The first thing we saw was this:
I was so pumped - I'd never had roast chestnuts before! This is what you get for 1£:
And this is what you look like afterwards, because roasted chestnuts are (a) hard to eat, because you have to peel the husk off, (b) you both burn your hands and inevitably leave behind a big hunk o' husk, and (4) they are gross:

But luckily, we were invited to come into one of the churches, to "have our photo taken in a manger, with real costumes!" Matthew's face said, "Do not make me do this..." and so I said, "Sure! We'd love to!" I bet he is so glad he "agreed" because this might end up being our best family photo ever:

After we'd strolled up & down, and Eliz fell asleep in her stroller, we did what any normal parents would do: went to a pub & had a pint. She slept for the whole time we were in the pub, and we stood at the bar - mostly because it was busy, but also because we never get to stand at the bar anymore, and it's the best place for people-watching/judging. I didn't find out until today (ie a day too late) that the Man in Red, Santa Claus himself, was also having a pint at the same time as us, but at different pubs!! Oh well, we'll have to find another time for Elizabeth to see him again.

We also hit up the stalls of bric-a-brac, and came home with a bunch of "olde-fashioned" wooden Christmas tree ornaments, a bag of Christmas tree balls from a charity shop, and a tree & tinsel from Salvation Army. Our little tree cost us a grand total of 12.50£, and I love it. More importantly, Elizabeth loves it, and if she pulls it down, it won't hurt her. Also, if she breaks every single one of the ornaments, who cares!

Elizabeth is allowed to play with the Santas & the little train, and so now she says a lot of "Ho Ho Hooooooooo" and "chooooo choooo". She also thinks the lamb is a horse, so she says, "Neigh, neigh" a lot too... 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Lots to Say

Elizabeth started communicating with us using baby sign language. Well, I guess first she cried & we guessed what she needed, and then she started signing. I cannot say it enough: that was one of our best parenting moves. She didn't start signing back to us until she was between 8 and 9 months, which meant about 3-4 months of me doing the signs every single time she did something, and having no response from her. Then she did "more please" and I probably cried with happiness. Then she learned "all done", and "milk" (which later morphed into just "drink"), and "help please", and then she learned a whole bunch really fast. If you need a flashback of Elizabeth's cuteness, she kept doing "more please" at the fair in August when the bands were done their tunes.

Once she realized that when she did this weird motion with her hands she got what she wanted, she was off. Then she did a hybrid of signing & speaking, and then it became a hybrid of speaking & signing. But to be honest, since she's started speaking, she hasn't really ever stopped. We can pretty much always tell what room she is in. We know when she is on the move in the house. And there is never a question of whether or not she is awake - if she is in her bed and quiet, she's sleeping, because otherwise she is telling all her bed-friends the news.

Well, a couple nights ago, Elizabeth had some phenomenal news. I'm not sure what it was, but it was super intense, and I had to pare down these vids to the bare minimum. These are mostly up for the grandparents and family, so if you don't feel like watching all of them, I totally get it. However, you might like them for a few reasons: (1) Elizabeth is in them, and is super funny, (b) they are shot on my Blackberry, so the audio & video get screwed up and they are reminiscent of a bad kung fu movie, and (4) she says "Messi!!!" and I think she is talking about our trip with Stuart and Ika.

Video #1: Ends with a great laugh.

Video #2: Check out the expressive eyebrows, seriously gesticulating arm motions, and puckered lips. Also, I love the progressively worsening audio-video delay. I think it adds a little je ne sais quoi to the vid.

Video #3: Who else thinks she is talking about Barcelona??? Also, her lips are nowhere near close to the sound. Apologies all around.

Now I have truly opened myself up for everyone to say, "Like mother, like daughter" but I can take it. Our loud, chatty, never-stop-talking little girl is 100% entertainment! Someone might have to remind me of that one day, but not today!

PS Did anyone else notice that I wrote "little girl"?? I'm starting to warm up to the idea that she's not a baby anymore. But she is practically still a baby, right? Right??

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Fotografias de Espana

Okay, so I used to just put single photos up on my blog, like this:
because I couldn't figure out how to format them. Then Matthew taught me how to use PowerPoint to make the photos into a grid, remember? Well, last night, he totally revolutionized my blog by showing me the amazingness of Picasa. Seriously, I formatted all of these Barcelona photos in under 10 minutes. TEN MINUTES!! That used to take me so long in PowerPoint - so embarrassing, so true.

Okay, so the highlights of Barcelona, hence these photos, were the Segrada Familia, Parc Guell, and the Barcelona Cathedral. Elizabeth loved to run around the vast space of the Segrada Familia, and figured out on her own that there were turtles supporting the massive columns outside. She danced to the music of buskers in Parc Guell - there is this covered area that has amazing acoustics, so a bass and piano sounded unbelievably rich and full. The park is full of cobbled staircases and funky architecture by Antoni Gaudi - also the designer of Segrada Familia - also the origin of the adjective 'gawdy'. Everything is a little bit over the top.

Elizabeth slept when we were at the Barcelona Cathedral, so she missed out on one of my favourite parts of the trip:
Seriously? Old people dancing in a circle to music played by a brass band in front of a really old church? I love it!!! The ladies all had special shoes too - look closely, they're all bright white lace-ups. And the weird thing was that it was only for this one song - maybe it was an anthem or something? Anyways, they were just regular old people, touristing it up, and then this song came on, and they put their shopping bags down on the ground, changed their shoes, and BOOM, you got a dance floor started. I was totally mesmerized. And then as soon as the song ended, they just changed their shoes and went on their merry way... ??? Anyone know what this was all about? I'm taking an evening Spanish class - but I have not learned how to ask, "What is this odd custom of dancing to a specific song in front of this church? Is this the Spanish equivalent of a flashmob?"

In order to fulfill our motto of "Keep Elizabeth Happy", we stopped at a lot of playgrounds and parks throughout the weekend. Barcelona has a ton of little neighbourhood parks, full of super cute little Spanish kids, yelling, "Mama! Mira, Mama!! Mira, mira Mama!!!" Translation: "Mommy! Look at me Mommy! Look Mom, look at me!" It's so encouraging to know that 'conversation' happens all over the world.

Language barriers don't exist when you're under 5, and so not only did Eliz make friends with these 3 boys, the littlest one shared his potato chips with her. It was her first holiday fling. 

No holiday to the sea is complete without at least a little bit of wading. The water was freezing, so swimming was completely out of the question - even though I optimistically packed bathing suits for us. Elizabeth was more than content to run up to the wave and then run away screaming. I love the shot of Stu and Matthew both backing away at the same time to save their shoes. They must be good friends - they even run away in sync. 

So I guess if you ever have the chance to pop over to Barcelona for the weekend to meet up with your friends from Canada who live in Kuala Lumpur, you should probably just do it. You won't regret it.

Friday, 25 November 2011

FC Barcelona's #1 Fan

We were in Barcelona last weekend. Just for the weekend. You know, no big deal. Seriously? How many times in my life am I going to be able to say that??

So anyways, we were in Barcelona last weekend.

And we met up with Matthew's good friend Stuart and his wife Ika. They live in Kuala Lumpur now, and were vacationing in Spain, so we thought we'd just pop over. (Again: when am I ever going to have another chance to say that?) We left on the Friday afternoon and came home Sunday night and had a fantastically wonderful & totally enjoyable weekend. Everything just worked out, and everyone (read: Elizabeth) stayed happy for the whole trip. Amazing!

Stu and Ika bought tickets ages ago for the FC Barcelona game that was on the Saturday night. Matthew hemmed and hawed as he always does, and eventually did what I always knew he would: agreed with me that we should get some tickets too. So off we went to Camp Nou, on Saturday night, for an 8 pm game. The trains were packed with football fans. And somehow, Spaniards make the big football scarves look fashionable -you know the ones, always with the crest on the ends, and the tassles, and the big team-colour stripes. It's truly a feat, because they are not really very fashionable at all...

We truly worried about taking the stroller. We found a few websites for American arenas that said you weren't allowed to take a stroller into the stands, and would have to check it - how annoying would that be? And we knew that we'd have to fold it up and carry it and Eliz up the stairs to our seats. In the end we brought it, because we thought that if Eliz fell asleep during the game, we could just put her in the stroller in the aisle closest to us. Or at least she'd have a chance to fall asleep on the way home...

But secretly, I brought it for transportation assistance. Guilty confession: sometimes it helps to have the stroller on the trains during rush hour because (a) people make space for babies faster than for adults, and (b) if they don't move, you can use it as a battering ram and "accidentally" smash into them. This is the one and only advantage to having a stroller in a busy train. Every other aspect of strollering-in-traffic is challenging and exhausting. But if you want to get on the first train that comes, it's worth it. There were so many people on the train, that after we got off and up to street level, Matthew looked at me and said, 'Maybe we shouldn't go... there are so many people...', to which I replied, 'Babe, that was the hardest part! The rest will be easy!!' Honestly, has he never traveled with a baby before? Transportation is always the hardest part!

So we got to the stadium, and it was incredible. Matthew was so excited I thought he might explode. This place seats 120,000 people - kind of hard to imagine 120,000 people in one place - until you're right in the middle of them. It was amazing - hearing everyone simultaneously yell at the ref for a bad call, or take a sharp breath when Lionel Messi takes a shot, or stand up and cheer in unison when he scores. It was such a great experience. I was so glad that Matthew got to see some of today's top footballers play. He was in heaven.

 And our little traveling girl loved it!! Elizabeth clapped and yelled, "Barca!" and she smiled and waved to all the people in our area. Granted, she had potato chips for dinner, but come on! It was a live sporting event! You can't have green vegetables at a live sporting event!!
Jammy "Crazy-Eyes" Hawkeye and her potato-chip-lovin' girl. Honestly, the name of the game when vacationing is: Keep Elizabeth Happy At Any Cost. It is so worth it to adopt this motto when on holiday with a baby.
Lionel Messi is the star of FC Barcelona, and he put on such a good show for the fans. At one point, he did something pretty fancy in front of the net and scored (you can watch the highlights reel in Spanish, if you want), and the whole stadium chanted, "Messi! Messi! Messi!" and did the 'bowing-down' thing with their arms. And Elizabeth started saying it too!! Here's a terrible video for you to enjoy!


The opposing team, Zaragoza, was not nearly as good at Barcelona, so it was a bit of a massacre. The end score was 4-0. We had already planned to leave 30 minutes into the second half, to avoid the departing train traffic, and my favourite player David Villa came on at about 27 minutes. I was sooo excited! I love him! He is truly a member of Team Pretty Footballers. And Matthew's favourite, Andres Iniesta, was also on the field. Let it be known that I have superior taste in footballers, because who scored at 29:14?? Oh, it was my guy, not his... :) When is Matthew going to learn that the super hot players are also the really great players??!! 
This is him, looking up at me in the stands. He pretty much scored just for me.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, maybe I'll just check out the cheap flights to Madrid and we can get some tickets to see Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo isn't really my type, but I think I could handle it for 90 minutes --- or 75, if we decide to beat the traffic.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

What Does the Temperature Really Mean To You?

Because to me, it doesn't really mean anything. I check the weather every day, and then, regardless of the temperature shown, I dress myself & Elizabeth in a pants, a shirt, a sweater, winter jacket, mitts, toque, and scarf. Because it is November 17, and that means it must be cold out. I am Canadian, through and through. As a result, Elizabeth & I are often nice and warm, because the average temperature here has been about 10º. But it still feels cold to me - obviously not Alberta-cold, but still cold enough to need a hat under the bike helmet...

We are going to Barcelona tomorrow, and it's supposedly 15º there. But what does that really mean? Do I pack shorts or pants? I don't know - because it's November 17, so obviously, it's winter everywhere, right??

And another thing: there's no such thing as a thermostat to heat your house here (well, at least not in our house). Everyone says, 'turn up the radiator until you're comfortable'. Hello, fiscal danger: I would be comfortable at about 26º, and that would be lotsa £££ - and Matthew would probably be okay down to about 15º, so how do we figure that out? How do you know if your house is the right temperature unless the furnace automatically comes on when the temperature drops below 21º?? :)
This picture has nothing to do with anything, but how cute is my family?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Crappy Video Quality, Cute Video Content.

Elizabeth is a music lover. She is a dancing, clapping, singing, moving machine. And she is developing tastes - she likes male voices better than female voices, she totally digs early '90s classics (see previous posts that include everyone's favourite song Sandstorm), and she is not a fan of girly singers like Joni Mitchell. Sometimes if a girly singer is on the radio - especially Adele! - she'll point at it and say, "No, Mummy. No."

Every morning when I'm doing my hair, she plays the radio on the alarm clock. At first she just liked to turn it on and off using the Sleep and Snooze buttons, and do her super quick dance moves when it was on. Now she also turns the tuning dial and the volume dial. So before going to sleep, Matthew has to check the volume so it doesn't scare the crap out of us in the morning. Here is a poor quality video of her cuteness. Enjoy.

Our other fave thing to do lately is pretend that Elizabeth is "just a baaaayyybeeeeeee" and cuddle her, and then attack her with tickles. Hilarity ensues.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dear England

Dear England,

How come you can manage to get this
in kitchens, but we are stuck with this
in bathrooms??

I know the intention is to fill up a sink, using hot & cold water from the individual taps, making a lovely warm sinkful... but when is the last time anyone filled up a sink in a public toilet? With no plug? Or time? And with a child in their arms?

Please, English plumbers, do your countrymen and women a favour. We are tired of walking out of public restrooms with either scalded or freezing hands. We want warm water out of one faucet!!! I'm prepared to picket over this - or maybe write a strongly worded letter...

With warmest regards,

Georgina Hawkeye

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Beep Beep Beep!

Elizabeth has become a bit of a car nut. And a housewares nut. We went to a playgroup at St Andrew the Great - a church who's acronym is STAG!! Love it! The playgroup is called Bounce-A-Round, and it's one of my favourites because I invariably meet someone new there (this week: a cool gal named Rose), and they give the Mums/Dads/Carers coffee or tea in a real mug. This is invaluable. Coffee tastes so much better in a real mug. Even instant coffee. That last part is a lie: instant coffee tastes terrible no matter what, but it's the thought that counts, right?

Anyways, today Eliz was all over the 'house' area - they have a little sink, and an oven and fridge, and a little 'hob' (aka stovetop or burners.  I know - hob?? What kind of a name is that??!) and Eliz and this boy named Rowan were having a serious cooking show demonstration. Then she re-discovered the drive-yourself cars.

The first (and last) time she 'drove' one of these was a long time ago, and after chewing the steering wheel, she fell right through the hole in the bottom and got stuck. I was cleverly taking this photo instead of preventing her from falling, earning me one of my many Mum Of The Year ribbons.
Look how little she was!! This was taken March 30, 2011!!! So cute!!
Since then, she's been a bit leery of the big cars. Until today!! She was all 'beep beep beep' like the big kids!! She abandoned her cooking and took to the roads!! Her favourite was definitely the sporty red convertible, but she did take the family sedan for a test drive:

Can it be? Is she a little girl now, and not a baby?? Yeah right!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Change In Perspective Blows My Mind

Whenever people have asked me how my trip back home went, I have answered something like, "It was so great! It was wonderful to see everyone, and I had a great and mostly relaxed holiday... but Edmonton is sooooo big!! I had forgotten what a big city it is."

Seriously, every single time I got in the car to go anywhere,  all I could think was, "Has Edmonton always been this big???" It felt like I had to be driving for 15 minutes at 60 km/hr (37.5 mph for you Brit readers who can't convert km/h to mph without using google) in order to get somewhere. I mean, anywhere. The grocery store, the shopping mall, anyone's house, the pool, anywhere!! Whenever I brought this up during my visit, people would invariably respond, "Ah, yes, but you can get anywhere in the city in under half an hour." How is that true? I mean, experientially, yes, it's true, but doesn't that kind of not make sense? And yet, it's mostly true! You can invariably drive from one location in the city to any other location in under 30 minutes!!!  I feel like Jerry Seinfeld right now! This is blowing my mind!

Which brings us to this morning: the second blowing of my mind.

I met a woman who happened to come from Saskatchewan - she has lived in the UK for 18 years now, and has that half-and-half accent. You know the one. When we started chatting about Canada, it came up that we had just returned from a visit. And I, of course, brought up the size factor. And she responded, "Everytime I go to Canada, it strikes me just how small of a city Cambridge is." 

Whoa. Mind = Blown.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Crazy British Holidays

Yesterday was November 5. Yesterday I learned that  British people are a little bit crazy, and like to burn stuff.

In 1605, a dude named Guy Fawkes was involved in a plot to burn down the House of Lords. He was the dummy who volunteered to stand guard over the pile of gunpowder in the basement of Westminster, and obviously got caught. Seriously, did he pull the short straw or what? Anyways, now November 5 is celebrated with big, beautiful, public fireworks displays and a big public bonfire. And a whole lot of private, chuddy fireworks displays and kind of scary mini-bonfires in gardens.

We took Elizabeth down to Midsummer Common to watch the displays. There was also a fun-fair (aka a mini Klondike days) with some of the same style rides. You all know the one with the pictures of the wintery cavepeople and the girl in the fur bikini, where the ride spins backwards?  Yeah, they have that here too, but no fur bikini girl. I know, I was so disappointed too. But it did play the classic K-Days ride tunes - including Sandstorm and No Limit by 2 Unlimited. Yesssssssss...

Elizabeth was pretty much enraptured by the lights of the rides. Exhibit A:
Apparently, Matthew was pretty stoked on the pretty flashing lights too. No jokes, she stood there watching the "Daredevil" ride for about 10 minutes. Inexplicably, the Daredevil ride had pictures of Ben Affleck as the Daredevil, but also Morpheus, Lara Croft and Wolverine. Hmmmm....

By the time the fireworks started, Eliz was kind of losing it. I had her in the baby carrier, cuddled in, and she was reaching her cranky point. I 'Mummy-ed' up, and recited Mary Poppins for her, from the very first line until the end of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. An Old Lady (they are everywhere!!) kept looking over, and at one point said something like, "Do you really think she understands what you're saying?" to which Elizabeth made the sign for 'bird' and said, "Buuuhd!! Buuuhd!!" because I had stopped singing and it was the part where Mary Poppins sings while the bird is perched on her hand. Boo yeah, Old Lady!!! In your face!

So then the fireworks started (thank God, I am so tired of Mary Poppins), and Elizabeth was scared for the first . . . 45 seconds. After that, she was enthralled. Completely. They lasted about 20 minutes, and afterwards, she looked at us and just said, "More! More! More!" Cutie pie!

I had to keep saying, "ooooh" and "aaaaahhhhh" - I'm sure the combination of that and the whole of Mary Poppins made our neighbours in the crowd suuuuper stoked that they chose to stand beside us. 

So after the fireworks, they lit a huge bonfire. I mean, huge. When you faced it, you could feel the heat coming off it, and we were at least a few hundred feet away. (Confession: I asked Matthew to guess the distance and he said ' Ooooh, a few hundred yards or so', to which I replied, 'No one knows how far that is. How many feet? A couple hundred?'. He just shook his head and said, 'Well, then say at least a few hundred feet.' Sometimes it must be hard for him to deal with me.) British people are so funny - they cheered and cheered when the bonfire was lit. Yay for fire!!!

After we got home, I was chatting with my brother Chris, and he suddenly said he felt like a curry. So Matthew instantly felt like a curry. And the best wife in the world got on her bike to go buy him a curry. Bonfire night and a curry? We are so British now.

Friday, 4 November 2011

It's Just Like Riding A Bicycle

We have been in Canada for 3 weeks, and now I feel like I haven't written any blogs in so long that (a) no one checks the site anymore, (2) I have too many stories and therefore all imminent blog posts will be annoyingly long, and (d) I'm not funny anymore. (Yes, I am aware that I've done the (a), (2), (d) joke before - evidence of (d)). (Am I supposed to do a double bracket there??? Does anyone know the rule on that??) And so, no, blogging is not just like riding a bicycle, it's more like trying to look cool after falling off your bicycle.

So instead of writing a ton of details about our trip, I'll just say this: The things we really liked about home, we still really like about home. The things we really didn't like about home, we still really don't like about home. And the things we really love about home are never going to change. And that is the best thing to remember when the sky is grey and heavy in Cambridge, and you are desperate for big blue, open Alberta sky.

Friday, 7 October 2011

I am a Biking Machine

I wish I knew how to make this one subtitled: How Georgina Became A Mummy. Remember waaaaay back, when Matthew became a Daddy? Well, I had a similar experience last night. But first: about the Longest Day on the bike.

First, Elizabeth and I went to Semillitas, the Spanish playgroup. It is on Ross Street, which is 3.0 miles away from our home. Not that far, but there is a big bridge that goes over the railway lines, on Mill Road. Mill Road is a very cool, very hip road with all these shopsy-shops, and international restaurants and independent cafes. The bridge is probably not very steep in real life, but in bike life, it's a little bit intense. Especially with a 20+ lb baby on the back - confession: I have no idea how much Eliz actually weighs. The last time I sneakily weighed her was at the kiosk at the post office when I was mailing something. Truth.

Here is what the bridge looks like:
This is the only photo I could find of the bridge - it's during a Christmas fair, so they must have closed it off to traffic.

Normally, there aren't people on it, but there are always cars. See how there's no bike lane? Yeah, so you're huffing it up this hill, trying to look like it's no big deal, and the cars do that 'hover and creep along' thing behind you until there's a gap in the other lane, then they pull out and go around you. It makes you really feel super slow, and a little bit worried that your baby is going to start dancing and moving, and in doing so, make your bike wobble around with the weight of her helmet, which in turn makes you look like a drunk biker at 10 am. Here is an accurate picture of what the bridge feels like:

So anyways. We got to Semillitas, and met our friends Helen & Amy there. Helen was going to take care of Elizabeth while I went to get my hair done (yaaaaay!!!). So I left Semillitas, went back over the bridge to Ainsworth street (about 1 mile) for my hair appointment. I had my hair done, yada yada, went back across the bridge to meet up with Eliz, Helen & Amy (so, another 1 mile - and, back over the bridge, obvs.)

Then Eliz and I went into town (1.2 miles, and yeppers, that stinking bridge again) to buy me a dress to wear to our friends Morgan & Regan's wedding next week. Boy, was that fun - shopping for a dress with a toddler = kind of traumatic. At one point, when I was trying to peel this dress off because the zipper was stuck, so my arms were stuck over my head, Eliz decided to crawl out under the curtain and start sticking her head into other changing rooms. Awesome. Anyways, we lasted for one store, and then abandoned that mission to go home (2.2 miles). (FYI: I think I found a dress. It's really pretty and blue-green.)

 Yesterday was Thursday, so I had my Spanish class in the evening - close to where Semillitas is. So back onto the bike I went, 3.2 miles and across that bloody bridge. Class was muy bien, and we learned to conjugate a few verbs, as well as the few pronunciation rules in Spanish. Example: "ce" sounds like "say", whereas "que" sounds like "kay" - as in cerveza vs. queso. For some reason, the people in my class had a hard time with that... ???

Yesterday was also my friend Rachael's birthday party. So after my class, I went into town to a lounge called Hidden Rooms - 2.1 miles, and the last time I went over that expletive-bridge. Oh, and guess what: it was raining. And the wind had really picked up - it went up to 47 km/h yesterday. I am not even joking: check it out. This is what the Mill Road bridge feels like in that wind:

When I got to the lounge, it was karaoke night... and guess what: karaoke is exactly the same in England as in Canada: every song is about 2 minutes too long, the audience and most of the singers only know the chorus, and the only people who listen to the singer are the singer's friends. But when your friends are singing, it's kinda fun. Rachael & I sang Twist and Shout - I was about 85% too sober for it to be truly entertaining, but we did our best. I was proud to have chosen a song that is only 2:30 seconds, with the shortest section with no singing. What are karaoke singers supposed to do during the guitar and drum solos???

And then, I got back on the bike, to go home (1.9 miles). Thank goodness: it was a flat ride. Just as I was leaving the lounge, I called Matthew to say I was coming home - he told me there was no milk. And guess what: it was 11:03, and every single shop on the way home closes at 11. Screw you, England!! I had no choice: I Mummy-ed up. The local pub was still open. I popped into the good old Milton Arms, still wearing my bike helmet, with my water bottle from class, and bought my baby a pint of milk!! Bahaha! Even better than that was the super drunk British dudes that said things like, "'Allo, 'allo, where you been all night, gorgeous?" as they stumbled over to me while I waited for my pint of milk.

I forgot to take a photo of the full water/milk bottle, but here is the evidence:

Holy cow - I cycled 15.6 miles yesterday! I only just added that up!! That is 25 km!! Who am I? And the most amazing part of that, is that I didn't even question it. It wasn't like, "Oh man, I have to bike all the way to _____??". What a change in attitude - when did that happen, I wonder?