Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vintage Baby Clothes

People give the 1980s a hard time. In many cases, this abuse is justified; however, there are quite a few things from the 80s that are quite good, and many of these are as much in vogue now as they were then. The really bad stuff has been sifted out, burned, and hopefully buried forever, but some items have made a deserved comeback.

When R's mom came out to visit us a few weeks ago, she brought some baby clothes that were worn by R's two younger brothers -- both born in the 1980s. R's sister J worried that we would not really like any of the items that were sent our way. However, there were a few real gems in there. Here are some pictures of my particular favourites.

Who can resist a yellow sleeper with rainbow-striped sleeves and a little blue elephant poking out of the chest pocket? I am quite excited to dress our little munchkin in this outfit, as well as the sporty #7 velour tracksuit that would even make Kevin Federline jealous.

Yes, the 80s had some issues, but they produced some sweet baby clothes. If anyone has any hot leads on vintage baby clothes, let me know.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Blanket Distraction

210 days of pregnancy have passed. Only 70 days remain. According to the BabyCenter Pregnancy Calendar, the baby is about 15.5 inches long and about 3 pounds. You know, that's the size of a decent watermelon. Although it's only 3 pounds now, the baby will now gain nearly half a pound each week until the due date. R is supposed to gain twice that. This is the time when ladies start to get really uncomfortable. They need massages and distractions. One good distraction is accumulating new baby items.

Last night we put together our stroller, which we brought back with us from New York (see previous post). I think my brother was quite happy to have it out of his shoebox of an apartment, because it was taking up valuable real estate. So far, we are very pleased with the stroller. It looks like it is very well made, and comes with many neat features and accessories. I am so excited -- getting a new stroller is almost as fun as getting a new car or new computer.

Since I began shopping for strollers, I have also started noticing what kinds of strollers other people have. People in St. Laurent Shopping Centre in Ottawa mainly push around strollers made by EvenFlo and Graco. On our trip to New York this weekend, I noticed that New Yorkers prefer Bugaboo and Maclaren strollers. Interesting. We still have not seen another Zooper Hula on the roads anywhere, in Canada or elsewhere. Being unique can be a good thing, unless the unique thing you have is a piece of junk. I think the Zooper is going to be good-unique, not junk-unique.

We brought back another good-unique item from New York. My famous New York cousin Kage gave us a baby blanket made by Spongy Feet, which is run by her friend in San Francisco. It's very classy and a nice addition to our arsenal.

It's hard to say whether all this fantastic loot has taken R's mind off of her discomfort. I can safely say that it's got me plenty distracted, though.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Meat-Eaters In New York

People in New York walk very quickly. Pregnant women can have trouble keeping up.

We were late or almost late everywhere we went in New York City this weekend, so we were always in a hurry. Starting with a rushed dinner and a quick walk to Mary Poppins on Friday, we rushed all the way through Saturday, barely making it to our basketball game, lunch, Spelling Bee, and dinner. It was a frantic pace, and R found herself lagging a little behind. She described it as "waddling." When the day was over, we had managed to get to all of our events, but we were worn out. Even our seasoned New York host (my brother T), crashed on the couch at the end of the night, without enough energy to change out of his clothes.

How about some of the fascinating details:

The basketball game was on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem. It was inside a church, so it wasn't the type of outdoor, playground experience that you might envision. It was too cold for that type of thing, anyways. The gym was so small that the 3-point line hardly had a chance to arc before it hit the sidelines. It was kind of like playing basketball on a volleyball court. We arrived to the gym just before the jump ball. My brother was the star of the show, leading us to a lopsided victory. Wearing some of our damp clothes, we had to walk many blocks to catch the subway home, through a biting wind. Later, we realized that we could have driven our car, since parking is abundant near the chapel. We are idiots.

We had some time for a meal before going to see The 25 Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. We didn't have a lot of time, so we had to scrap our plans for brunch at a place on Madison Avenue (where the line extended out the door) and opted for the Jackson Hole restaurant just down the street. Instead of your typical brunch food, we decided to try the burgers, because Jackson Hole has a reputation for fantastic burgers (according to my brother). I caught a look at the grill and realized why -- the burgers were so large that the gravy bowls they put over them (to cook faster, I presume) were hardly large enough to contain all the meaty goodness. I found out later that these burgers are 7 ounces -- nearly half a pound. They looked even bigger than that. If you go, don't bother ordering the platter, since you won't be that interested in the fries by the time you've finished the burger. R's burger was so large, and so completely buried in toppings (fried mushrooms, onions and green peppers), that she ended up eating it with a fork, kind of like a cheeseburger salad.

The Spelling Bee was a fantastic show. Whereas Mary Poppins had been an enormously ornate show with fantastic singing and somewhat weak dialogue, Spelling Bee was a intimately quirky show with fantastic dialogue and somewhat weak singing. Both of them were great, but I think I enjoyed Spelling Bee more -- probably for two reasons: 1) because I'd never seen the story before; and 2) because I love witty dialogue more than anything. That's why I loved The Drowsy Chaperone so much.

Now, no day in New York is complete without getting stuck in traffic trying to cross a bridge. A 10-minute car trip out to Queens turned into nearly an hour as we made a wrong turn and ended up in traffic gridlock in the Bronx. Finally, we arrived at cousin Kage's place for dinner and a movie. She brought the meatloaf and we brought the cheesecake.

A fantastic ending to a fantastic day in the big city --
A day filled with meat.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

No Stopping On The Bridge

It's a Jolly Holiday here in NYC. We saw Mary Poppins last night and we've got Spelling Bee coming up. It's all going according to plan, with just a few small glitches.

It normally takes us 8 hours to drive from Ottawa to New York. We were on that pace until we missed a turn and ended up wandering along Main Ave in Passaic, NJ, looking for the George Washington Bridge. We found the bridge, but it took 45 minutes to drive across it. I felt guilty because I saw a sign that said, "No Stopping On The Bridge".

This kind of minor delay was not a problem, because the show wasn't to start until 8pm. The real problem was a burglar alarm in the photo studio. We were supposed to meet some of my brother's friends for dinner, but an alarm had gone off at the studio where one of them worked, so things were thrown into minor disarray.

In the end, everything worked out. We made it to the show, we got there on time, the show was pretty great, and the wind blew like crazy. Good kite-flying weather, I guess. Today we get to play in a basketball game in Harlem.

Everything is an adventure with Mary Poppins.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

February Belly Update

Since it has been a while, I decided it was time for a belly update.

Comparisons to fruit and vegetables are useful, but a picture is worth a thousand words, etc. Last night I had R pose for a variety of shots to show off her cute tummy to the world. We used the office (aka bedroom #3) for our impromptu photoshoot. This allowed us a variety of action shots, which should provide some insight into the life of our lovely pregnant lady.

Despite the growing discomfort and decreased mobility that comes from advanced stages of pregnancy, R still maintains a busy schedule. Nevertheless, she finds time to keep up with friends. Here she is reading a blog posting by her good friend and world traveller, T. Sadly, R doesn't like to make a lot of comments on these blogs. She's more of a lurker.

While lurking at T's blog, R was suddenly wracked with discomfort. Junior had braced his head against one wall and started pushing his feet against the opposite wall with all his might. In this photograph (right), R indicates the points on her stomach where she could feel the straining head and feet. Perhaps the child was protesting the sudden encroachment of the dinner meal on his living space.

This last one is a shot of our favourite pregnant lady sitting on a purple exercise ball. There's something about a bulging tummy that screams out: "you should sit on that purple exercise ball!"

A picture is worth a thousand words. A picture with a purple exercise ball is probably worth an extra 455 words.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

75 Days

Today I added a segment on the sidebar that counts down to the due date. As of today, there are 75 daysleft until May 7. When I pointed this out to R, she was freaked out.

I'll tell her not to look at the right part of the screen from now on.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tiny Hiccups

This third trimester is tough business. R is finding herself completely exhausted at the end of each day. It doesn't help that she's been so busy that she hardly has time to rest. She's also noticed a lot more tightness and soreness in her back. It's a shame, because it's been so good up until this point. I guess we were just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Perhaps part of the problem can be explained by this week's entry for the BabyCenter pregnancy calendar, which says that the baby's nutritional needs reach their peak in this trimester, when babies put on a significant amount of weight.

According to the calendar, our baby is about 2.5 pounds and about 15 inches long. They also say "his head is growing bigger to accommodate his brain". Hopefully, that brain won't make the head TOO big. The lungs are also developing, and we've seen evidence of that. In the last few days R has felt faint hiccups coming from her tummy. With my hand, I have also been able to feel the rhythmic shudder of the tiny child. It's pretty cute.

I wonder, which traditional hiccup solutions work in the womb? He can't hold his breath much more than he already is, since there's no air in there. He could try taking a really long drink, but I think that was the problem in the first place. I tried scaring him ("Boo!"), but I don't think it worked.

I have a another sure-fire technique for hiccups, but it takes concentration. You get ready to snap your fingers, and try to snap them as soon as you feel the next hiccup coming. If you really concentrate, after a minute or two you will find that the hiccup never comes. However, if you let you mind drift to your latest game of online Axis & Allies or what your next blog post should be about, you will find this method doesn't work.

That's the problem here. I blame the baby's lack of concentration.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

From Two To Three

Saturday, August 6, 2005, was the day we turned a fork in the road. On that day, we decided to pursue fertility treatments. It was not an easy decision.

We had already met with the clinic several times and learned the reasons behind our failure to have children. The doctor had explained all of our options: 1) have IVF (In-Vitro) treatments; 2) have IUI (Intra-Uterine) treatments; or 3) let nature take its course. We asked for some time to make up our minds.

I believe life is sacred and that parents have a chance to witness the power of the Divine when they take part in the creation of life. Given these convictions, it was difficult to decide how far we wanted science to take us onto this holy ground. One Saturday in August, we set out to make that decision, by way of Palmyra, NY.

After considerable discussion, we had decided to give nature some more time, before taking any further measures. If, after four more months, we had no success, we would return to the clinic for IUI in January 2006. We decided to promise God that we would do everything in our power during those four months to conceive through natural means, and if that was unsuccessful, we would give the doctors a year to help us out. After that, we would turn to adoption. To solemnize this promise, and to pray about it one last time, we went to the LDS temple in Palmyra, NY (because the one in Montreal was closed).

Traffic was terrible getting down to the Thousand Islands Bridge, which crosses from Ontario to New York State, so we were late getting to the temple and missed our appointed time. We took these pictures from the top of nearby Hill Cumorah, since we had some time to kill before the next time we could go in. That was a stressful afternoon, and a botched schedule did not help to raise spirits. These are the only two pictures I took, because R was not in the mood to pose.

A few hours later, we were sitting together in the temple, praying hand in hand. We looked at each other and resolved that this course of action was the right one. Armed with this new decision, we left some of our tension behind in Palmyra. We had decided how much we would do, and we would leave the rest of it in Divine hands.

The year 2006 arrived, without a new pregnancy. However, on our second IUI treatment (in August 2006), we witnessed as science and the Divine came together to help us create the miracle of life.

Today I sat with my wife again in the temple (this time in Montreal) and contemplated that day in August 2005. We each had one arm around the other's shoulder, and a hand on R's squirming stomach.

For the first time, it felt like our family of two had become a family of three.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ottawa 67s

We have an unofficial goal to see and do everything Ottawa has to offer. When we moved out here in 2002, it was with the expectation that we might only live here for about five years. That is probably why we felt a sense of urgency to get out and try everything.

Some things came quicker than others. As noted previously, we've been to the Parliament Buildings around 15 times, starting with our very first house-hunting trip, back before we actually lived here. Parliament was easy, but for some reason we have been slow to experience some other hallmarks of Ottawa living, like a hockey game.

Until tonight, the only hockey game we'd been to was a community league game two years ago, played by a boy from church who was about fifteen years old at the time. Since a decent seat for an Ottawa Senators NHL game is close to $200, we figured the free admission to see the North Dundas Devils was a great value.

Another great value, with higher-calibre hockey, is the Ottawa 67s Major Junior A Hockey Club. I don't really know what "Major Junior A" means, but these guys are basically the best players in Ontario aged 15-20. The Ottawa 67s traditionally have a strong team, and they have a great fan base. They also have a great location.

In the heart of Ottawa, beneath the North Bleachers at Frank Clair Stadium (Home of the defunct Roughriders and Renegades CFL teams), is the Ottawa Civic Centre. It is just big enough to seem like a legitimate crowd, but just small enough to really hear the crash of the players against the boards. It feels like small-town hockey and it's great. Even though Ottawa squandered an early 2-goal lead (to ultimately lose 4-2), I loved it. Now we can cross one more thing off the list.

Actually, we'll just put a checkmark next to that one, since I think I'd like to go back a few more times before we cross it off completely.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Carseat Generation

R surprised me with a clever little Valentine's card on the counter this morning. She always has something that she stashes away in my coat, shoe, etc, so that I find it in the morning. This one included an invitation to join her for lunch (Chinese buffet), since she would be off working for the evening. She's so sweet.

While we were eating said sweet lunch, she mentioned that she'd had to decline an invitation for us to join some friends for dinner this evening. This friend had reminded her that this would be our last Valentine's Day sans bébé; however, she kindly noted that it is quite easy to take a baby along to dinner when he/she is still young and can sleep in the carseat.

I joked that today's babies must spend most of their time in carseats. Carseats have turned into little baby-pods, appropriate for every occasion. The trend has even extended to toddlers.

Perhaps you will remember (from the stroller madness post) my rudimentary illustrations of the ultimate compact stroller, which were based on something I'd seen in the O'Hare Airport in Chicago:

Well, I found the real thing. It's called the GoGo Kidz Travelmate, and it's basically a luggage cart designed to hold carseats. I'm pretty sure this is what we saw in Chicago, because that one had orange inline skate wheels, like the Travelmate.

There it is, folks. If you want to be on the cutting edge of stroller technology, you have to consider getting one of these. For $89, you can cruise through the airports with the greatest of ease, removing your child from the carseat only for occasional "bio-breaks". You could even keep one in your trunk and use it as a back-up stroller -- since you would always have the carseat on hand. The carseat makes it all work.

Is there anything that you can't do with a car seat?

Pretty soon, children won't have to budge from their carseats at all. Parents could wheel their carseat-children to class, where they could be clicked into a carseat-friendly desk. There will be no need for cribs, highchairs, swings, etc. Just modular attachments for carseats.

The carseat will become THE baby item to replace ALL others. This is an exciting time to be alive.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Hill Is Alive With The High School Musical

Tonight we watched the Disney Movie "High School Musical" for the second time in about as many weeks. R has two students who are practicing a song from the movie, so they loaned her a copy of the film so that she could see the original number. It was pretty good for a TV movie. It was pretty good for a regular movie, really.

Apparently, it has been wildly popular for a year already. Who knew? I think it's quite well done. The dialogue was genuinely funny, and the scenes were filled with quirky props and extras. It was also nice that the "high school kids" were played by people who could actually pass for teenagers.

So, tonight was the second time we watched it. The first time was last month, when R's mom and sister were here. During their visit we did plenty of other things, including ANOTHER tour of Parliament Hill. Actually, we only toured one of the buildings, not the whole hill, because it was way too cold to do anything else. We made a beeline for the doors, hardly looking right or left. This snapshot was taken on our way back to the car. The girls were quite excited when I found that I had filled the memory card (because I still hadn't deleted photos dating back to October), and they had to stand in the cold while I deleted a few old pictures to make space. R was probably ok, since she was wearing her scarf like a ninja / thief.

We tried counting, but I really have no idea how many times we've done the Parliamentary Tour. I think we could actually put on a decent tour ourselves by now, since we could combine all the little tips and facts that we've heard during our 15 or more visits to the Hill. One of the best visits was last summer, when my second-cousin S was in town on a Parliamentary internship. He had privileged access to all the buildings and he took us on a special tour through all the different floors of the Centre Block, followed by dinner in the Parliamentary Restaurant -- a posh place where we saw and shook hands with Bill Graham, then the Leader of the Opposition.

The restaurant was so posh, in fact, that men are supposed to wear jackets. We did not realize this, so cousin S and I arrived wearing ties, but no jackets. The maître d' offered us blazers off of a coat rack near the door. They were the sort that linger on the racks at Value Village without any interested buyers. I had an oversized woolen number with gold buttons, while S proudly sported this salmon-coloured beauty. Fortunately, you don't have to wear the jackets at your table. We shed them fairly quickly. The maître d' offered to let us keep the jackets, but we couldn't tell if he was kidding, so we left them for the next needy guests.

That was probably the coolest trip to Parliament we've ever had. This most recent trip probably ranks as the coldest.

What a horrible, horrible play on words. High School Musical was much better written than that, I promise.

Sadly, the film had no salmon-coloured sport jackets. Perhaps in the sequel.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Can See Your Stomach Moving

There has been a lot of talk about the third trimester. Well, now it is officially here -- the home stretch... kind of. It's a home stretch that lasts for 12 weeks. If this was a foot race, you probably would not start sprinting yet. No one can sprint for 12 weeks, especially pregnant women.

How big is the baby? Well, according to the BabyCenter Calendar, he is just over 2 pounds and about 14.8 inches tall. If he were to stand up (which is unlikely) he would be about half-way up my calf.

I think the baby is trying to escape. We can't quite see what he's up to, but I suspect he's trying to tunnel his way out. Several times lately, R has told me to look at her stomach and I have seen what looks like the distinct outline of a pick and a shovel protruding quite prominently from her midsection.

R has been doing her best to keep the boy in line. When she teaches singing lessons, she goes through a series of rigorous breathing exercises that get the diaphragm moving like crazy. For a child in the womb, it is probably like running fierce rapids in a barrel. R says that the baby sometimes tries to push back against this tumult. Mostly, I think he doesn't like the way it messes with his intricate tunnel system.

You would think he would enjoy the serenade. Think of the way the music must resonate in there when R sings. Perhaps it's a little too intense. We'll see if he comes out singing arpeggios.

Or carrying a shovel.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Get Involved

When we were in Kiddy Town looking at the stroller, I was the one asking all the questions. I was pulling strollers off the shelf, zooming them up and down the aisles, and trying to figure out how to fold them all up. The lady working there quit trying to keep up and let me do my thing. While I was wrestling with the Combi Flash Ex and examining its shocks, she leaned over to R and said,

"This is incredible. He's really into this stuff."

R told the lady that I write a nearly-daily blog, and that I have been researching strollers for weeks. The lady got a bit of a concerned look on her face and told R,

"You know, you need to get more involved."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The First Purchase: Zooper Hula

The streak is officially over. We finally bought something.

We bought a stroller.

With less than three months until the due date, it was probably time for us to start buying a few things; however, it was a different deadline that finally pushed us to action. We are going to New York soon, and we realized that we were running out of time to have an online purchase shipped to my brother's place before our arrival. After test-driving a few models in stores yesterday, we finally placed an order with amazon.com for the stroller of our dreams.

You'll never guess which one we bought (unless you've already looked at the title of this posting) -- the Zooper Hula.

In a previous stroller posting, I obsessed over the Combi Flash Ex Universal Car Seat Carrier, which allows you to convert an infant car seat into a stroller. I had planned to get one of these compact frames for the first 6 months and then move onto a light umbrella stroller later on. However, during a recent trip to a baby equipment warehouse (called Kiddie Town), I test-drove the super-compact Combi Flash Ex stroller I and found it wanting. It steered like a rusty shopping cart. I was still very impressed with the way that it folded down (amazing!), but I could not buy a stroller that worked best when collapsed. The salesman at the store suggested that we look at the Zooper Hula as an alternative.

The Hula is perfect for us. It's a good-quality, light umbrella stroller AND it accommodates ANY brand of infant car seat. It's almost as light and compact as one of the bare-bones frames, because it's nothing but aluminum and fabric, but it has all the functionality of one of those full-sized plastic-laden travel systems.

When we first saw it two weeks ago, we were dissuaded by the higher price: Kiddie town lists a sale price of CDN $289 -- a total price of CDN $329 with our wonderful 14 percent sales tax. Fortunately, amazon.com has it listed at US $199 (CDN $233), and there are no shipping fees or taxes to have it delivered to NY. This seems like a good value to us, because we only have to buy one stroller (instead of buying a universal frame as well) and the Hula comes with a bunch of matching extras: a zip-up fleece sleeping bag, a sunshade, and a rain cover. Sounds like a winner.

With that decided, we tried to find an infant car seat to go with it. Amazon.com sells the Hula in three colours: black, red and beige. We had decided to buy the Graco Snugride (since it is very safe and quite lightweight), but Graco has decided to create some of the UGLIEST patterns for their seats, and those are the only ones that are stocked by stores in Ottawa. We went to Sears, the Bay and Babies R Us and found that Kiddie Town still had the best match, with the brown and black Blackwell Model. It clashes somewhat with the beige Hula, but it looks much better than anything else we could find. We didn't buy it yet, since there's no rush, and Graco might suddenly create a perfect match for our stroller in the next three months.

In the meantime, we get to sit and worry whether our shipment will make it to New York before we do. I could have paid $15 more to guarantee it, but that would cut into our $96 savings. You see, if you want to stick it to the man, you have to be willing to take some chances.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fake Belly

Today we went into a maternity store so R could find a pajama top long enough to actually cover her navel. Her current top isn't cutting it anymore. She found a few simple long-sleeved tops and tried them on in the dressing room. When she came out, a store employee happened to walk by. She asked us if we needed any help, so I explained that R was just looking for a longer pajama shirt.

The employee asked, "Is that your real stomach, or are you wearing one of the belly pads?"

We both gave her a blank look for a moment, and R replied, "Yep, this is real." The clerk then said something about how incredibly tiny R was and scooted off to some less awkward corner of the store, leaving R blushing (just a little). Who can blame her? It was a bit of an unexpected question.

Well, there's a first time for everything.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brutal Efficiency

Today I killed a mouse and I don't feel that good about it.

When I checked the cupboard this morning, I felt my stomach turn. The trap was partially obscured by the waffle iron, but I could see a thin tail stuck to the visible part of the trap. Without investigating further, I closed the cupboard and announced to R that we had caught the mouse.

Then I asked her what I was supposed to do with it.

I anticipated (correctly) that the trap would immobilize the mouse without killing it outright, but I hadn't planned much further than that. What is the proper thing to do in this situation? R immediately sat down at the computer and searched on something like "mouse glue trap" and came up with some interesting information.

Articles on sites like about.com and peta.org note that there is substantial animal-rights opposition to glue traps because the animal dies slowly, with considerable suffering. This quote of a quote was on the peta site:
A regulatory impact statement released by the Australian government cited a study that concluded that glue traps should be banned “because of the enormous distress that these traps cause, even if the trapped animals are found after just a few hours and then humanely dispatched."

I set the trap just last night, so the mouse had been there for less than 12 hours. Lying on one side, it was completely exhausted and so completely stuck in the glue that it could hardly rustle around when I returned to the cabinet and took a closer look. It seemed that the mouse had lost some fur in the struggle, and was very distressed. While R continued to read optimistic tips about using vegetable oil to safely remove mice from such traps, I took a utility bucket from the basement and drowned the poor creature in 4 inches of water.

Afterwards, I climbed up on a stool and pulled the other glue trap down from the attic. I am not very anxious to go through that again.

I've heard several stories about different methods. Perhaps there's one out there that will be better for us and for the mice.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mysterious Chew Marks

When we put an offer in to buy our house, we also had an inspection done. The man who came to do the inspection was an energetic fellow, and we found it difficult to keep up with him as he burrowed through snowdrifts and scurried up ladders to inspect the place. While he was in the attic, he noticed the signs of "rodent activity" amid the insulation. He recommended that we look into it, to see if these signs were current, or from previous years. That was nearly five years ago.

A few times in the last few days, we've heard the sounds of little feet scampering around in the attic, just above our bedroom. This served as a slightly more pressing reminder of the advice we had received from the inspector. Still I didn't go up to investigate.

Perhaps I didn't bother going up there because I don't have a step ladder, or because I was already in bed and I'm lazy, or because it's dark up there and I'm a wuss. Whatever the reason, I had not bothered to take any action yet.

That is, until we found the mysterious chew marks this morning.

As I was leaving for work, R grabbed a box of her trademark Bite Size Brown Sugar Frosted Mini Wheats from the cuboard next to the fridge. She noticed that something had been chewing on the top of the box, leaving a mess of cardboard in the cupboard.

For someone who freaks out about spiders, R handled it rather well. Mainly she just grimaced and threw furtive looks at the cupboard door. Then she poured herself a bowl of Mini Wheats and ate her breakfast. The "rodent activity" had not progressed far enough to compromise the quality of the cereal. Perhaps it was repelled by the BHT which was put into the packaging to ensure freshness.

I put the cereal boxes on top of the fridge for safekeeping, and we resolved to go to Canadian Tire after work to buy something to defend our foodstuffs. I have little experience with mousetraps -- except for snapping my fingers in one I found at my grandpa's house -- so we asked for some help.

An employee, who looked too young to speak so authoritatively on the subject, walked us through their extensive inventory. He recommended a glue trap, in which the glue is mixed with a scented flavouring that acts as bait. There were two sizes available, but I decided that the mysterious chew marks only warranted the "mouse" version, instead of the "mouse, rat and snake model".

I placed the trap in a strategic location, between the spaghetti pot and the Belgian waffle iron. I did this because I saw a few mouse droppings back there, as well as some more mysterious chew marks on an oven mitt nearby. I think this mouse doesn't stand a chance, unless he was around when I was laying the trap and figured out what I'm up to.

Since the package we bought comes with two glue traps, I decided to climb up on a stool and stick one up in the attic.

You see, this rodent activity has gone too far. You just shouldn't mess with R's Mini Wheats.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Today is day 189 of the pregnancy. There are 91 days left. This is the transition between the second and the third trimesters. According to BabyCenter, the baby weighs in at approximately 2 pounds, stretching out to about 14.4 inches in length.

Have you ever noticed that some people pronounce the word "height" with a "-th" sound at the end? I don't notice it so much in Ottawa, but I remember hearing it in some of the other places I've lived. I think I can see why -- that's how you say length, width, breadth, girth, etc. For some strange reason, the "th" was dropped from the end of height, but not from the others. Perhaps people add the "th" as a sort of protest -- to try to get the "th" reinstated.

Anyways, I was reading ahead to next week and I learned that the average woman gains 11 pounds in the last trimester. The following passage from this week's BabyCenter may be a partial explanation:
This Week's Activity:
Prepare food to eat after your baby's born. If you cook, start doubling recipes and freezing half. You and your partner will be too exhausted to cook in the first weeks after you bring your baby home and you'll be thrilled to have healthy meals you can heat up fast. If you don't cook, go around your neighborhood and pick up all the takeout and delivery menus you can find. You'll be grateful for all the options at your fingertips.
In reality, half of that weight comes because the baby gains another 5.5 pounds, not because you've been touring all the take-out restaurants.

While I was poking around on BabyCenter, I also checked in on the Top Baby Name Trends of 2006. One thing that I found most interesting was the segment about innovative spelling. Apparently, people have come up with 45 different ways to spell the girl's name Mackenzie. That's pretty crazy. Mackenzie is #27 on the popularity list for 2006. Our naming dictionary goes out on a limb by attributing the popularity of this name as follows:
MACKENZIE: a surname meaning 'son of Kenneth' (Scottish Gaelic), used as a masculine or feminine first name. Perhaps because of the Mackenzie River, it has become a popular first name for girls in Canada.

There's plenty of other rivers in Canada. If their logic is correct, then does that mean that we're going to see a generation of girls named "Fraser, "SaintLaurent", ""NorthSaskatchewan" and "GreatWhale"?

Or would that be spelled "Greight-Wayle"?

Perhaps, in some places, they might pronounce that as "Greighth-Wayle".

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tape-Delay Sandwiches

It's important to have traditions -- no matter how strange they are.

One of our traditions is taping the SuperBowl and watching it at midnight with a bunch of friends. We fast-forward through the commercials and the half-time show and get the whole thing over with by about 3am.

I think it all started with a Sunday School lesson a few years ago, where we were teaching a class of teenaged boys about "keeping the Sabbath Day holy." We tried to keep it simple: spend your time doing good things, and try to avoid labour and your regular diversions to make Sunday a special day. That's not good enough for a class of teenagers. They wanted definitive answers to a host of hypothetical Sunday scenarios:

- Should you buy things on ebay?
- Should you have a snowball fight?
- Should you play sports?
- Should you watch sports?
- Should you play video games?
- Should you watch someone playing sport-themed video games?
- Should you do your homework on Sunday? What if your homework is to read a classic novel?
- Should you swim in the lake if your family is away camping? Does it matter if the lake is in a different time zone? etc. etc.

At some point the SuperBowl was mentioned, because it is always played on a Sunday. Many of the boys said they were planning on watching it, mainly because they didn't want to miss out on such a big sporting event. To make a point, one of adult leaders said that the boys could tape the game and come over to his house and watch it at midnight, just so that they could feel like they made a token effort to leave Sunday for other pursuits.

The boys came out in droves, and they quite liked the experience. We liked it too, so we still do it -- even after all those boys have grown older and moved on. I think we just like to stay up at night and eat steak sandwiches. Who wouldn't?

It's kind of like a family reunion tradition that we have: At 11pm, we break out the Risk 2210 board and play a quick 5-hour game. By 4am, people are completely out of it, but that's an integral part of the experience -- it's as much a part of the tradition as SmartFood Cheese Flavoured Popcorn.

If all of this doesn't make much sense to you, come back at 3am and I'll explain it again. It will make perfect sense then.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Little Fiery One

Jessica's comment from the post about baby names brings up a subject I had read about recently. She mentioned that the name Aidan was the number one boy's name in 2006. I've heard this elsewhere, and I find it remarkable, since it was only #43 in 2005, according to the US Social Security Administration. Personally, I had never really met too many Aidans before. I think this quote from The Baby Name Wizard is probably quite accurate:
It's a fair bet that few of the parents now choosing this name have ever met an adult Aidan. As recently as the late 1980s, it was an obscure Irish saint's name. Today, Aidan's sublimely clean sound is the sound of a generation. In fact, with its authentic Celtic roots, Aidan is now the traditional alternative to names like Brayden, Kaden and Jaiden.

It just goes to show you that you really can't predict which name will take off next. All it takes is one big celebrity or one popular TV show to push a name to the forefront. What was it that did it for Aidan?

Jessica suggests that it was because of a character named Aidan from the popular sit-com, Sex and the City. We have a dictionary of baby names that points to the actor Aidan Quinn (right). Our dictionary is from 2000, so it probably missed out on Sarah Jessica Parker & co.

I really like this dictionary. It was published in the UK, so it has lots of interesting names from the British Isles that you don't normally hear. Plenty of Gaelic stuff with interesting spellings (like Eilidh, Pwyll, Gwalchgwyn and Llywarch). I also like it because it provides some emtymology of the names. I have found many "exhaustive" online naming guides which boast to having thousands of names and their meanings, but they provide no explanation as to why a name might mean what it does. In some cases, the definitions seem quite arbitrary. Anyways, I happened to find the entry for Aidan in this dictionary:
AIDAN: The anglicised masculine form of AEDAN. A variant form is EDAN. St. Aidan (d. 651) was an Irish missionary in Northumbria who founded a monastery on Lindisfarne (Holy Island). Aidan Quinn is an American film actor.
Well, that is interesting. Aidan comes from Aedan. What does the book say about the name Aedan?
AEDAN (pronounced ay-dann): a diminutive form of AED, with the -an suffix (Scottish and Irish Gaelic). The Anglicised forms are AIDAN and EDAN. An early king of Dalraida was named AEDAN, as were twenty-three other saints of the Gaelic Church.

Wow. Twenty-three saints, eh? Well, now let's look up AED.
AED (pronounced aigh): a masculine first name meaning 'fiery one', from aed, 'fire' (Scottish and Irish Gaelic). A common name among the Gaels, and said to have been the most frequent personal name in early Ireland. It was so common that most who had the name had a further descriptive name or nickname, like Aed Finn (Gaelic fionn, 'fair') or Aed Ruad (Gaelic ruadh, 'red'). It was the name given to several high kings of Ireland and a king of the Scots, son of Kenneth MacAlpin. The name is also found as Aedh, Aodh.

I don't know about you, but I found this fascinating. A name that was the most common name in Ireland hundreds of years ago suddenly comes charging into North America as the most popular name of 2006. If this continues, perhaps they will need to revert to the Irish solution, of adding a nickname.

Since Jessica says that her son Aidan had the name several years before the big boom, he can be called "Aidan the Old".