Saturday, March 29, 2008

Slings and airports.

Here is a photo of the sling I made the other day. I made one in a different style last week but it is more of a winter one and will be too warm for both of us in Cuba. So this was my next attempt. It should do the job.

You should also be able to see that we still have quite a bit of snow here in Fredericton. Hopefully spring will have kicked in by the time we get back. We can't wait for warmer weather, sunny days, and lots of time spent outside.

So we are off to Cuba in about half an hour. Have to drive to Halifax first, catch some Zs in the airport and check in at 3am. Will post as often as we can while away.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What is CISV anyway?

Last September I was introduced to Judy, the chair of Fredericton's CISV chapter, and an hour or so later I had committed to volunteer as a Program Chair and to help coordinate an interchange between 16 thirteen year olds in Fredericton and Austria. So what is it? CISV is an organisation that aims to promote peace and understanding through global friendships. Sounds a bit naff but basically it is about making opportunities for kids as young as 11 to meet others from around the world and get to know each other and share ideas and learn about each other's culture. It's the kind of thing I hope Brendan will do when he is old enough. They plan different kinds of programs but the one I'm helping to organise is an individual interchange. The kids are paired up and spend 4 weeks living with their partner in Austria this year then the Austrians come here for 4 weeks next year. They do lots of activities and the focus is on learning from each other and not just sightseeing.

So basically I am a local organiser who doesn't get to go to Austria but does a lot of paperwork and liaises with my equivalent in Austria. Jackie is the other organiser but is about to have a baby any day now so it'll be down to me for a while. The first few months didn't involve too much, a few meetings, and some emailing, then we went crazy on the recruiting and I spoke to loads of interested families, received applications, did home visits and met the teenagers at a minicamp. In the last few weeks it has all been quite exciting. I enjoyed giving the families the good news that they had been accepted and hearing their excitement. We had our first meeting with all the parents, kids and the leader all together and have got started with the more detailed organising.
I'm enjoying it a lot and having something to keep my CV current is a bonus. No plans to go back to work yet. I love being at home with Brendan and don't have time for work! Might have to do something part time soon though. Especially if we want to keep having holidays! Cuba is looming.

The month of March.

What else have we been up to? A few girls and I have started a book group and have had two meetings so far. We all live within a few streets of each other so it's really just a chance to get together and have a few glasses of wine and chat. I can recommend The Kite Runner if anyone is looking for a good read.

We've had a few days/nights out. Went to the St. Patrick's Day "Stew and Brew" celebrations in the Fredericton Market building for some green beer and fairly bland stew. Good fun was had by all though. Brendan had on a pair of proper shoes for the first time and refused to walk even an inch. It was as though they were made of cement. He has since taken a few steps in a different pair so we should be alright for Cuba.
This photo was taken by a fairly well known Fredericton blogger and included in his blog. This is us with Shane, Amy and Andre at the Stew and Brew.
The Multicultural Association of Fredericton put on an event also at the market. Some international food offerings and lots of entertainment. There was an excellent teenage band of fiddlers and some entertaining Irish dancers. Still looks silly to me.
Everything, I mean everything, closes on Good Friday here so we called up some friends for an impromptu afternoon tea party. Steve and I kicked everyone's butts at scrabble (it was a definite fluke).
Went for dinner for a friend's birthday. Shane made a yummy lamb curry. Brendan and their wee one Andre played till they dropped. Shane and Amy are two of the few people we've met here who like to eat interesting food and try new things as much as we do. We've had them round for haggis, neeps and tatties this month too.
Steve and I managed to get out on a date. Ryan and Jen babysat to get in a bit of practice before their baby arrives in a few months. Brendan was still up when we got in at 10.30 though. Sleeping is not one of his favourite things at the moment.
What else? Cancelled our TV subscription because we don't watch it because it is mostly rubbish. Siobhan has made a couple of different baby carrying devices. If they weren't so fiddly and time consuming I might try to sell some. Our typical day at the moment includes watching the squirrels eat from our bird feeder, feeding the fish, going for a walk to the park or to Amy's, "doing the duck" with Boogie Beebies (his only telly watching), reading numerous books, eating a lot of food, throwing a lot of food on the floor and going into town a couple of times a week to the library or to meet up with someone.

Brendan's favourites at the moment include learning parts of the body and doing "heads, shoulders, knees and toes" and other actions to the "Sticky kids" music. Toys of the month are blocks and fridge magnets. He likes to try to stick them on the wall and then laugh like crazy when they don't stick and fall on the floor. Favourite books include Babies on the Move and various flap books. He likes nose rubbing, eating cheese and grapes, climbing on the futon with a good book and coming into mummy and daddy's bed at 5 or 4 or 3 in the morning. Arrghhhh.
No, we love it really!

Still breastfeeding about 5 times in 24 hours but hoping to cut that back a bit when we get back from Cuba. We want to be able to ask Granny and Grandad to babysit for a while so that they can have fun without us around and Steve and I can have a day doing something. Not sure what yet.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Alberta trip

We went over to Alberta last month to see Jon and Katy and take a peek at the Rockies. First time for Siobhan and Brendan so it was very exciting.
We flew in to Edmonton and were picked up by Jon and Katy. It was a beautiful sunny day but the -37C temperature really hit the lungs when we stepped outside. It makes you open your mouth and gulp for air! Luckily that was the coldest day of the whole trip so we did lots of dog walking and got some sun on our faces.
Jon and Katy are well and have a new addition to the family. Angus is a gorgeous german shepherd puppy who they adopted (rescued) from their next door neighbours who didn't really look after him and complained that they couldn't handle him. Needless to say he is doing much better with Jon and Katy's love and attention. Tilly is as lovely as ever of course.

We borrowed the car and headed off to the mountains for a couple of nights. We spent the first night in a small hotel right on the main street. The next day, after going to the train station, the tourist info place and a few gift shops we headed south along the icefields parkway. The scenery was pretty spectactular and the road was traffic free. (Only we were silly enough to drive it in that weather!) We stopped for a couple of walks including to the mostly frozen Athabasca Falls.

At the highest point of the road we passed tha Columbia Icefield which had it's own little microclimate. Very dramatic with strong winds blowing the snow across the road. We couldn't see the road very well at some points. We will definitely get back there in the summer sometime. The visitor centre was closed and there was no way we were venturing out onto the ice in that weather!

That night we found a B&B in Banff and walked in to town. Brendan had an interesting fall while we were out for tea in a pub. Mummy (foolishly, perhaps) let him play on the pew style bench next to her and he fell forward with outstretched hands which missed the table and left his forehead to take the impact, narrowly missing his nose, so it could have been much worse. To top it all off I got the most evil of evil stares from the English woman sitting at the table next to us. I just smiled sweetly.

Anyway, went up on the gondola the next day. The view was spectacular. Unlike much of the Alps there are huge, forested valleys in the Rockies without roads or settlements and I was just trying to imagine all the bears and elk and other wildlife out there. Brendan had another good fall on the ice which we caught on video but I won't post it here because it will just make you cringe. He is getting around well on his feet though. Almost running!

Did some geocaching and then then drove back to Edmonton via Calgary. Spent a few more days together before Steve headed off to Arizona. He'll post about that soon I'm sure. I extended my stay a few days and enjoyed a few bargain hunting shopping trips with Katy, explored White Avenue, ate out a couple of times, played with the dogs, went to the base Family Day event. Oh, and watched numerous episodes of Prison Break. I refused to dance with a belly dancer in a packed restaurant. I should have done it just to entertain Brendan but I just hadn't had enough wine.

All in all a great trip. Now we're getting ready to head off to Cuba next week. Meeting Paddy and Jo there and planning to both relax and explore a bit. Looking forward to seeing how backpacking is different with a wee one in tow!