Friday, October 31, 2003

Getting Too Old for Dirt Jumping

I snuck away for another quick ride in the pit during Ivy's nap today. Yesterday I was riding there with a couple of young punks on $3500 8-inch-travel bikes, so of course I had to push the envelope a bit.

Not that these are such monster leaps, but with the speed and drops, they can feel a bit hairy. I was pretty stoked about jumping some of the bigger jumps, particularly one that I hadn't attempted before. And today that one humbled me, reminding me that I'm 30, not 15.

It's kicker to a drop-off landing, so you fly maybe 15 feet out and probably seven or eight feet down from your highest point...if you land it right. I was having a blast on it, but on the last one I got too stoked and got my front wheel up too high, touching down at the very bottom of the transition and then looping out backwards so I landed on my back on the flat gravel. Ouch. Rank amateur move.

I busted my seat right off (bottom photo) and was lucky that I just got winded and hamburgered my back a bit (top photo). I can't imagine how sore I'll be tomorrow...but strangely enough, I can hardly wait to get back out there. Larry was teasing me on the phone tonight, asking if he should send me some training wheels.


We got a new Taco Time Cantina on our corner-- quite a bit more upscale than the usual Taco Time. After taking Ivy in her panda suit to the library for some reading and a halloween stamp, and picking up our favourite bread at the bakery and dropped off some film...we tried the new place and quite enjoyed our food. Nice that's it's so close...we tend to enjoy Mexican, even when it's not high-end stuff.

On the home front, the girls have been sleeping a fair bit, which is wonderful for us: angel one and angel two. Although I'm on parental leave for the next few months, I'm working a few hours each Friday to help out and make a bit of extra cash. Today was my first day back, and it was a bit weird to try to switch from baby brain to interaction design.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Paranoid Parenting

Rob has a thought-provoking post about the differences between how we were brought up 20 or 30 (or more) years ago and parenting today: Risk - Are We Paranoid?

The Christmas Photo

Angelo has one of his short stories online: The Christmas Photo. I just love his writing, but I always wonder how people who didn't grow up in our small hometown would perceive his stories. I feel like I'm too close to the material to be objective about it. He also included some comments about the piece. We'll have to convince him to put more samples online...maybe even some screenplays.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Ghost Eyes

Ivy was making spooky Halloween noises this morning on Tannis's lap. Suddenly she stopped, looked closely at her mom's face and exclaimed, "Mommy, you have big blue eyes just like this ghost!" Then she looked over at me and announced, "Daddy, yours are just kinda greenish." Both of which are true.

Mystery Audience

We're happy these days, and just busy enough, I think. I keep hearing through the grapevine that friends and family are checking out this page for photos (mostly), but nobody ever writes to say hi, so I'll consider it a rumour. To appease those who want to see more of Ella, here are two new pics: looking serene and looking at Mom.

We had a glorious Sunday afternoon at Myron and Tracey's place. They graciously accept our growing brood in their wonderful home on short notice, cook us gourmet meals and treat us like gold. I got a couple of photos showing how great a dad Myron will be -- the guy is the king of games.

We also had an excellent time with the Mitchells last night. We rooked them into staying for chilli and biscuits while the girls played perfectly together. Great adult conversation, even with kids all over the place.

I missed Ryan this weekend. Wished I could just drop in on him with a few McNally's Irish Ale and watch the three fights in the first minute of the Oilers/Flames game on Saturday night. These photos are for him: Ivy's eyes, swiper Ivy and Ivy's laugh.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Baby Gift

Someone sent Ella these incredibly cute slippers as a baby gift, but there was no card and the package didn't say who the sender was. They sent two identical pairs (by accident, I'm assuming). Please let us know if you're the generous one!

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Mom's Garden

Mom and Dad had us up to their place for supper tonight and I couldn't believe how beautiful my mom's garden is these days. Here we are at the end of October, and her flowers seem to think it's June. Amazing and soothing, somehow.

Pasture Peak

Even though Kelowna lost some fantastic trails in the fires this summer, it hasn't killed my love of riding here. A couple of weeks ago, I fell in love with McDougal Rim again, and I know there are some cool new areas to explore. But the ride I do more often than any other is not exotic at all.

No exciting steeps, stunts, or even anything challenging. It's a nondescript cow pasture on the edge of an industrial park. I can tuck Ivy in for her nap, get geared up, ride to the trailhead, hammer the singletrack and ride back...and almost be back in time to see her wake up. It's all about access, I guess, although that could be a problem eventually, since there's barbed-wire fence around the entire area. Thank goodness for the open gate.

I took the camera along this afternoon, acknowledging that there's nothing particularly interesting about the ride. Nobody would ever load up their bikes to make it their daily riding destination. I realized along the way that it isn't very photogenic, either...but I love the place anyway. I call it Pasture Peak.

Friday, October 24, 2003

October Sunshine

We had a glorious fall day today with the sun shining on yellow leaves in Mission Creek Park. Tannis carried Ella in the sling while Ivy skipped rocks with me, ran in the grass, and hung out by the water looking angelic.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Recipe in Progress

Over the past year, I've been hitting Joey Tomatoes for a Thai stir-fry they call Panang Prawn Curry Bowl. It's outrageously good, and I'm trying to duplicate it at home in a vegetarian version. Mine isn't quite as good, but tonight's attempt was getting closer. I've made it up on the fly, and I'm sure there would be better approaches, so suggestions are welcome: Jeremy's Thai Coconut Curry.

You can prep an excellent dessert while the stir-fry is bubbling. Blend the left over pineapple and coconut milk with a whole banana and put it in the freezer until it's frozen on top. Then blend it again with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream for a tasty pina-colada-style drink or bowl.


Angelo Eidse is an up-and-coming writer with some interesting screenwriting credits. His screenplay Flickering Blue won a contest in Michigan and was filmed this summer -- the premiere is coming up soon and I'd kill to go. He's also been one of my best friends for just over a decade, so I'm glad to see the start of his online journal, which I sort of badgered him into.

Girls, Girls, Girls

We've been snapping photos like crazy here in the last few days. Some recent favourites:

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


I'm currently reading Mishkeegogamang: The Land, The People and The Purpose. The Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation in northwestern Ontario commissioned Rosetta Projects to record the history of their region and people. Since it was privately commissioned, you won't see it on Amazon any time soon, but I think that may be a shame. The rich personal stories, legends and history make for outstanding reading and help me understand their past and present lives, both the struggles and the beauty of their people.

Rosetta Projects is the company started by my mom (Dianne Hiebert) and our long-time friend Marj Heinrichs -- they researched, recorded, collected, edited and wrote the materials that became the book, so of course I'm biased. And I'm not sure that the Mishkeegogamang people would want this history to have a wider audience. In the introduction, Chief Ronald Roundhead talks about the purpose of the project: "The book is an effort to form a bridge between our forefathers and the younger generation."

Near the end of the book, one of the elders expresses longing for more cross-cultural understanding and tolerance as well, but that goal is certainly secondary. As I read through the chapters, I feel great empathy and respect for the people, shame for our government's role in their marginalization, and grief for the loss of their way of life. The mainstream Canadian public has no understanding of the problems facing First Nations people, and I wish everyone could read this book.


I don't know why I didn't manage to find Peter Temes' blog earlier. He calls it a "small record of the best things I get to share with Judy, with particular attention to raising kids, books, politics, travel and wine." I've enjoyed his articles whenever I've found them, so I'm happy to get more frequent doses of his wisdom.

The blog is still getting started, but I'm guessing that this will become one to watch. His article about parenting and living deliberately was inspirational to me...which reminds me that I should read it again.

Monday, October 20, 2003

The Middle Class Squeeze

Rob has also been doing some interesting thinking about The Middle Class Squeeze. Many of my friends will attest to my fascination with the topic -- I occasionally go off about the conflicts between the American Dream and the economic reality, desire and ideals, aspiration and living in the moment.

I guess Rob was bouncing off this article with a U.S. focus, which led me to a personal account of bankruptcy from an excellent writer in the tech field. Lots of food for thought, much of it focused on mortgages, kids and dual-income stress. We're making some decisions counter to these trends -- single income, rented apartment, one old car (and bike commuting). Some of it is because we don't see the debt-ridden and stressful alternatives to be very attractive, but on the other hand, we find ourselves comparing our "status" with others our age and realize that we'd love to own the perfect house, drive nice vehicles and take great trips...but it's probably not worth it.

Our Kids - Their Future

My PEI friend Rob has launched a site called Our Kids - Their Future: The Early Years Making a Difference. It has a fairly simple mission: "Our focus will be on what we can do in the period between conception and three to support our children to be the best that they can be."

Behind that simplicity is some rich research and practical ideas for parenting. Of course I'm smack dab in the middle of the stage he's talking about, and I'll probably add some posts along the way. He's already got some great stuff in there, including this quote that mirrors how I'm feeling about sending Ivy to school in a couple of years:
"Friends of mine with wondrous children who observe the world and who find the wonder in it have told me that they worry about when they go to school and have all of this sense of being an explorer knocked out of them."

Sunday, October 19, 2003


We had a good laugh up at Mom and Dad's yesterday when we put a newborn photo of Ivy beside Ella to compare. They happened to be wearing the same sleeper and a similar hat, and the likeness was astonishing. Granted, newborns tend to have a similar look anyway, but these girls looked like twins.

Friday, October 17, 2003

One Day Old

It seems like Ella's been around for a week or so, but she's only one day old today. The congratulations have been pouring in -- thanks to everyone for their kind wishes. I thought I'd add a few more photos for those of you who are curious:Ivy's been pretty wound up, but she's been handling the change and intrusion like a veteran. She's very gentle with Ella, saying how beautiful she is and stroking her cheek. Tonight she's refusing to go to sleep, choosing instead to "read by myself" until she keels over from fatigue. Last night when I was leaving her room after tucking her in, she piped up: "Daddy, you forgot something!" I asked her what I had forgotten. "Sleep tight -- love you"...which I say every night, but it was cute never-the-less.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Ella Pearl

We have another little girl. Actually she's big -- 9lb 10oz -- and beautiful. We had her at our home this afternoon and named her Ella Pearl. Tannis is doing great -- it was short labour and excellent delivery. More photos to follow...

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Take Care

I was telling Neil this story on one of our many middle-of-the-workday walks, and just remembered that I wanted to add it here. I sometimes vent about the difficult parenting moments, but this is one of those nice warm ones.

We kept Ivy out late, and she had been pretty wound up by having all her beloved grandparents in one house (Tannis's folks are staying with my parents this week). Getting out of the car at home, she had a bit of a meltdown, crying for no real reason and contradicting herself...beat tired.

By the time I got her into bed and helped her with her pj's, she was calming down. I pulled her blanket up to tuck her in and she reached up to touch my face, tears still drying on her cheeks: "Daddy, you take such good care of me."

Best Novels

The 100 greatest novels of all time: The list
Pretty pretentious title, but I hope that one day I'll make the time to work my way through the best on this list.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Tell Me a Story

Rob has some great posts about Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, including a solid book review and excerpts. I found this fascinating:
"When parents talk spontaneously to their children about what they are doing at the moment, the words they use vary with the subtle demands of the circumstances of speaking. The different words they use reflect the variety of experiences they provide their children and the aspects of those experiences they consider important for the children to notice, name, and remember."
As I was reading some of this stuff this morning, I was thinking about Ivy's hunger for verbal descriptions of everything since she turned two. "Daddy, tell me a story" -- I hear that request many times each day. At first we tried to oblige her with clever tales made up on the fly, and it got tiring (who can consistently come up with good stories 17 times a day?). Later we realized that she wanted "stories" about what we were doing and seeing. Her requests got more refined: "Tell me a story about Ivy and Mommy and Daddy going to the playground." It seems like a boring request, but she wants to hear us talk about what's happening -- she's constructing meaning and context from the descriptions.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Pippi Longstocking

My maritime friend Rob picked up a link I found yesterday about the importance of talking with your young children, and then added a few fascinating bits about how a kid's vocabulary at two can predict later literacy success. Cool and scary if true...

Anyway, this weekend Ivy picked Pippi Longstocking out of our bookshelf and asked me to read it. She's done it before with novels and textbooks and I usually humour her and read a few sentences until she realizes that there are no pictures and she quickly loses interest. But Pippi was different. It's 160 pages and 11 chapters, and we read the whole book together over three days. What fun! We've got some great kid's books that I can read over and over without going too insane, but this felt like a major breakthrough -- imagine being able to read books as fun as Pippi Longstocking all the time.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

McDougal Rim

We're on baby watch right now -- Tannis's due date is Wednesday, and her belly is huge. Her folks and brother arrived yesterday, so we've been social. I ditched out of the activity this morning and met Myron at McDougal Rim for an amazing mountain bike ride. We've ridden the lower section of the trail below the main lookout point many times, but I had never climbed right to the lake at the top. The singletrack was in amazing shape, with killer views and swooping trail. We whooped and hollered, not minding the cold and wind at all.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Jason Mitchell

We ran into Jason and his daughter at the Bean Scene on the weekend, and got talking a bit about music while the girls played together in the park. We had met a couple of times before through our midwife and great friend Barb, but didn't know each other well. Anyway, he was Mr. Modest, totally downplaying his talent and not even mentioning his CD-release party this week. But I discovered his site today, and his music is incredible -- goosebumply good, even. The title of this song isn't listed -- Roadmap, maybe -- but it's amazing (you'll need Quicktime to listen).

Update: I popped in at Jason's advance-CD release party last night. The very stylish Vintropolis Tapas Bar was full of these very hip urban-tribe-type folks who make me feel poor and antisocial, but the scene was pretty cool. $10 for a ticket and sampler CD, $7 for a beer, and some excellent entertainment. He's got a great stage presence and the music was fantastic.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Ivy Quotables

Ivy: "Daddy, say 'what did you buy, Ivy?'"
Daddy: "What did you buy, Ivy?"
Ivy: "I didn't buy anything -- I just finished all my popcorn."
Daddy: "Hmm...then I guess I asked the wrong question."
Ivy: "No"

We've been having party evenings this week. Yesterday we were all having a crappy day, so we decided to walk up to Olympia for a garlicky Greek feast, and it totally turned our day around. Ivy got happy and mellow and we read a pile of books on the futon.

Tonight we spent most of the evening soaking at Athan's pool and then came back home for coconut-milk pina coladas and popcorn. Another Ivy quote from ten minutes ago, showing a fierce streak of realism for a two-year-old with a decent imagination: "I'm trying to be Bob the Builder, but I'm just Ivy with a hardhat on" (wearing her popcorn bowl on her head).

Monday, October 06, 2003

What About Childhood?

I'm loathe to link to the National Post, which I consider to be absolute garbage, but I wanted to keep track of this article: Structure comes first. "The highly scheduled, multi-tasking child is the goal of the many parents who believe that to give their children a head start they need to get them on the fast track early." We feel this pressure with Ivy already, even in the questions you get on the playground: is she in swimming lessons yet, gymnastics, ski school this winter? I can only imagine it gets much worse with older kids, when you factor in school performance and organized sports. But the whole thing doesn't feel right to me. Not a bad spot to link to Rob's book excerpt, called 15 ways to ruin your child.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Weekend Roundup

It finally felt like the last weekend of summer. I got up early on Saturday (very uncharacteristically) and hit the BMX track on my bike -- it was cold enough to see my breath, and after a few laps, my lungs had that first-hockey-practice-of-the-year raw feeling. Then back to the Jammery for more of the french toast I was raving about a couple of weeks ago...I got photographic evidence of their beauty on this visit.

We enjoyed the beach later, and took a few more photos: Ivy squashing me, us drawing pictures in the sand and Tannis reading to Ivy. Judging by the weather forecast, that might have been our last legitimate beach day. In the evening we lounged at my folks' place and watched the sun set again. Today was mellow, starting with a trip downtown for coffee. We spent most of the morning with Barb's brother and niece, who we'd met before, but never hung out with. Piper and Ivy are close in age, and they had a serious play session in City Park, culminating with a skinny dip in the lake.

I had an ok ride in Jack Seaton park again, but realized that riding cross-country trails by myself is just that...ok. Beautiful, and great exercise, but lacks the fun factor. In the afternoon, we did a nice walk in Mission Creek park and took the odd photo. Tonight Ivy and Tannis carved our first jack-o-lantern of the season, to Ivy's great delight.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Belly and the Beach

To continue this week's pictorial theme of sparkly Gyro beach silhouettes...yes, we were back at the lake again tonight, and it was glorious. Calm, warm, and I braved another swim. We keep thinking it can't last much longer, but the forecast for the weekend is still great. Tannis's belly is getting truly impressive, and I think this photo conveys that well -- and yes, she's wearing her swimsuit. It can't be long now.

I rode to the beach after work, watching the orange salmon swim in the other direction. It seems to be an excellent salmon run this year, with lots of big fish -- many have already finished spawning and died. This time of year I always try to make it down to the creek pretty often to watch them do their thing...not sure why it fascinates me time after time.