Monday, September 17, 2012

Telling Tales

That's right, I attended 2 festivals in one weekend.  I'm just that kind of crazy town.  Yesterday, my children and I headed to Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton, Ontario for Telling Tales, the festival that makes me miss the Eden Mills Writers' Festival every year.  Honestly who schedules two literary events on the same day?  Telling Tales wins because it's closer, free, and has more stuff for the kiddies. Sorry Eden Mills.  Change your dates!

Even though I love Telling Tales, I do have some suggestions for improvement. First of all the schedule is insane.  There's zero time between talks that cater to the same age group and in some cases the two talks are several buildings away.  And in between there are trains and chickens that you can pet and a black smith and historical and literary characters.  As a result, we only managed to catch two talks in their entirety.  Those would be Ted Staunton and Ruth Ohi.  I thoroughly enjoyed their fabulous high energy presentations.  Ted sang about chickens and Ruth drew us pictures based on children's scribbles.  Both were enthusiastic and entertaining readers.

If you enjoy the talk you can purchase books at the book sellers tent way back at the entrance.  The authors go there to sign for about fifteen minutes after their talk.  This means you can't get your book autographed and also watch the next author's talk.  I did get two of Ruth Ohi's Chicken, Pig, Cow books signed (to William and Jadzia, so I can pretend they are for them).

So here's what I propose.  There should be at least a fifteen minute buffer zone between talks.  In addition to the main bookseller's tent, there should be a small selling table set up at each venue that features books by the authors presenting at that location, so you can buy and get your book autographed right then and there. Then you can have a little time to travel between venues, or get kettle corn, or pet chickens, or whatever. Simple right?  I'm going to write them a letter suggesting it.

My other suggestion: trays for the food sellers.  Children cannot carry their own grilled cheese without dropping it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Supercrawl 2012

What better way to enjoy a crawl than with your babies? Hamilton closes a portion of James Street every year so they can celebrate art, music, and other creative ventures.  We walked the length of the street, danced past the bands playing on stage, browsed through the various street vendors, saw some art and even created some of our own.

The kids were well behaved and so I assume enjoyed the festival.  When we reached the end of the street though William pointed out, "We haven't actually done anything that I want to do."

"What do you want to do?" I asked.

"I want to get ice cream."

So we back tracked and went to the ice cream truck.  Both Will and Jadzia ordered popsicles and became a sticky blue mess. By this time it was almost five.  We decided to meet some of my Staircase friends for dinner. I asked a police officer where the restaurant was and he said it was a five minute walk.  It took us half an hour.

We enjoyed some tasty German food at the Black Forest Inn. The kids were on their best behaviour (minus some crawling under the table) despite a long long wait to be seated, then they dazzled everyone by eating large quantities of bread and spaetzle.

It was a good day.

Monday, September 10, 2012

All my little birdies have left the nest.

 Today is Jadzia's first day at school.

William rode his bike and I held Jadzia's hand on the short walk.  Both Adam and I had our cameras at the ready. When we got there it seemed the whole neighbourhood was on the blacktop.  Three maxed-out kindergarten classes together with their parents and teachers.  Jadzia had the biggest smile on her face.  She's a big girl now!
I gave my daughter hugs and warned her teacher that she was wearing underwear.  It's hard to say who was more excited, but it was probably me.

William's class went inside and the other class did too, but Jadzia's stayed in line at the door and Adam and I watched as her teacher took attendance. A senior kindergartner, Reagan, was chosen to take the attendance binder to the office. Since Reagan is one of Will's friends from last year and from soccer, she knows Jadzia and picked her to be her special helper.  Jadzia wasn't paying attention at first so I called her name, but Adam stopped me and said "you're not her Mom until 3:15." Sigh.

Reagan and Jadzia made an adorable pair, carrying the binder together. Adam and I left after that, but we forgot William's bike, so I was able to snap one last picture of Jadzia, waiting for the trikes to be released from the shed.

On playdates I'm used to seeing her with William's friends, next to them she is still the baby, always a bit shorter, often with her thumb in her mouth.  Today, standing alongside her classmates, she looked like a big kid.  She fit right in, not standing out as the youngest (though based on her birthday she probably is).  She's ready.  She knows her letters and how to print her name. She even knows how to use the washroom when she feels like it. My job here is done.

(Okay, I know that my job is not really done.  I'm still her Mom.  But things are definitely changing.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Au Revoir à Montréal

My Dad's cousin lent us their house this Labour Day weekend so we could visit my Nana in the hospital.  (Thank you!) This way we could ignore the cost of food and gas and pretend the trip was totally free.  Nana was a delight to visit, rather than a chore.  Such a contrast from visiting Omi in the Alzheimer's ward.  If you can, I highly recommend maintaining all your faculties and your sense of humour right to the very end.  Though bed bound, Nana seemed in good spirits, and was delighted to see my kids.  Jadzia and William were timid around their great grandmother at first (they've only met her a couple times) but were soon climbing all over the bed, scratching lottery tickets together, showing off their toys, and giving hugs.  At one point Jadzia told Nana, in her sweet mousy three-year-old voice, "We're here to say goodbye to you because you're going to die soon."  Classic!  Nana found her honesty hilarious.

Of course, we also took full advantage of being in Montreal, the city I was born into but barely know.  The first day (not including the driving day) we saw the Science Centre (our Ontario Science Centre passes worked) and a rather sparse army festival (though it did include a skydiving show), then we wandered the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, ate at a pirate restaurant, and had ice cream sweetened with maple syrup. It became a running gag that Adam (who doesn't speak French) would ask me to order for us and then I would just order in English. Montreal is fully bilingual after all.

The next day we went to the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which is like the AGO only you don't have to pay to get in (as you can tell, we targeted free museums).  A crowd favourite was Tony Matelli's "Old Enemy, New Victim", a frighteningly realistic silicone sculpture of two skinny chimps attacking a fat one. I was amazed at how well behaved my kids were.  When they got tired of all the art-viewing, they sat on the museum steps and gave me a cuddle (instead of running around giggling like crazy fools, screeching bathroom words and having hair-trigger activated tantrums). Our plan was to go see the Redpath next, another free to enter museum but with dinosaur bones. Unfortunately, it was inexplicably closed.

Though we were all exhausted, we stopped at Fairmont to buy a dozen of their famous Montreal bagels. Then we went to Lac Aux Castors to have a bagel snack.  The lake wasn't there (no really, it was under construction) but we had saw a fabulous view of the city from Mount Royal.  Then went out for dinner for rotisserie chicken at Côte Saint-Luc BBQ.

Since it was our last day, we pushed our tired kids to the limit and went back to Mount Royal after dark so Adam could take night photos of the view.  There, we saw a frightening amount of not-timid-enough raccoons.  Maybe I still smelled of bagels and chicken because some of them were pawing at my leg.  Definitely a cute meets creepy experience.

Still what made the trip worthwhile was how our visit seemed to brighten my Nana's day.  I hope we get the opportunity to visit her again.  Or maybe one day we'll be going to Montreal to visit William, who told us "I want to live here when I'm a grown-up."
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