Friday, May 29, 2009

Adventure at the Children's Museum

On Thursday Fiona and I went to the Children's Museum in St. Paul with some friends. Fiona had a LOT of fun! I have too many pictures and videos to have them all here, but I'll upload them all to our flickr page soon if you want to see the rest

First we went to the room specially for little children (6-36 months) which is soft and has all kind of fun things to crawl on and touch and play with.

Fiona had a lot of fun crawling up and down this hill.

She found a Fox, a Mole, and an unidentifiable creature in holes (I need to brush up on my woodland animals). The light came on when you touched the hole. She thought the Fox was funny.

She really enjoyed walking around holding onto this handy railing.

Next, we visited the Clifford room. She loved crawling through this little tunnel.

Her favourite place by far was the water room. She got to send ping pong balls along pipes and splash around like crazy. The other mothers were running around trying to get aprons on their children, but I kind of just let her get completely soaked to the skin. Bad, bad Mum! Well, it is summer after all!

Fiona and her friend, Tommy...

And here's a little video of her sending the ball down the pipe. She understood what to do right away, and really loved this game! 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fingerpainting adventure

On Wednesday Fiona had her 12 month checkup.  She weighs exactly 20lbs (32nd percentile) and is 29 inches tall (47th percentile). Her gigantic noggin is 44.8cm in circumference (42nd percentile). She has had three UTI's now, so the doctor used a catheter to take another urine sample to make sure the antibiotics are clearing them up properly, and I guess she's so used to it (this was her 5th catheterization) that she didn't even seem to care. The immunizations were more cry-worthy, but she recovered from that surprise as soon as she spotted my cell phone. She did great, and was rewarded by the doctor with a new book full of pictures of messy baby faces, which she laughed at for quite some time. 

She's started to think pictures of other babies  are hilarious. It's really cute!

According the the 'developmental milestones checklist' that the doctor gave me, around this time she should start responding to the word 'no'. Well, being the smarty-pants that she is, she already does! Unfortunately her response is to laugh in my face. This afternoon she had something I needed (like my credit card) and was doing something bad with it(like trying to insert it into Brodie's ear) and I said 'no' and tried to take it. She held it out of my reach and laughed at me. Iwonder how long that will last... oh, right... forever. Sigh.

Earlier that day she had made quite a mess on herself with her lunch. I decided that I couldn't take her to the doctor with so much food plastered all over her, and she'd need a bath and a change of clothes, so I figured simce those had to happen anyway, what better time to do some finger painting!

Fiona LOVES to put her hands in her food and smear it all over the place, so finger painting was right up her alley.

And only a very small amount of paint accidentally went in her mouth! 

Here is her finished masterpiece:

What talent! :-)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fiona's Birthday Party

Fiona's official birthday is Sunday, but tonight was best for everyone to get together to celebrate, so we did!

Dinner was a collaborative effort... Cathy brought delicious homemade hummus and mini roll-up sandwiches for appetizers, Ginger brought a salad and yummy cupcakes, Ben stopped for pizza on his way home, and I went to the store and bought frozen garlic bread and claimed my free first birthday cake! Thank you all for your awesome dinner additions! 

Fiona got to try a few of these things for the first time...


Garlic Bread (she has had this before, but only a nibble)


She didn't look too impressed with her birthday cake, but the rest of us enjoyed it. 

YAY Birthday food! 

Fiona was super excited to get to open some presents. Cathy, Erik, and the kiddos gave her this gumball toy... it has rattly balls that pop out the bottom when you press a button. 

Grandma and Grandpa gave her some finger paints, clothes, and her very own purse full of exciting things to find. One of the things Fiona loves about when Grandma visits is searching through her purse and pulling out all of her things. Well, unfortunately the decoy purse didn't convince her, and she spent a large portion of the evening searching through Grandma's purse and pulling out all of her things!

I think Fiona's favourite part of the party was riding around the garden on her little car with her big cousin Emily. 

Emily, Ryan and Andrew passed this car onto Fiona since they are all too big for it now, and she was so happy and excited! Emily is great at taking care of and playing with Fiona, and we're so glad they get to be friends (and we'll be even gladder when she can drive over here and babysit ;-) 

Even Brodie was excited about the party, and Fiona was excited about Brodie too!

Thanks for celebrating Fiona's first birthday with us! And huge thanks to Cathy for taking these awesome pictures!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feeling sorry for myself

Yesterday afternoon I went outside for about 45 minutes to do some yard work. I don't know why, but I was under the impression that it was still too early in the day, and also in the year, for mosquitoes to be much of a concern, so I neglected to use buy spray. Wow, that was a mistake! By bedtime last night the full extent of my stupidity was revealed as I could count twenty huge, incredibly itchy mosquito bites. Ben said I should take pictures, but I didn't want to put anyone through that so instead I have created a bite diagram. When you include the two old ones on one side, and all the new ones on the other, it's not a pretty picture.

According to Wikipedia, female mosquitoes are the ones that bite, and require the blood to nourish the her unborn mosquito eggs. Due to my generous donation I think I may have just singlehandedly tripled the Minnesota mosquito population for this year. 

There have been many studies done to try to figure out why some people are so much more attractive to mosquitoes (and their equally evil Scottish cousin, the Midge). My brother Robert and my dad actually took part in one such study a couple of years ago, as Robert is very rarely bitten by insects.

James Logan, a research student at the Rothamsted Research in Herfordshire and Professor Jenny Mordue of the University of Aberdeen, found that "unattractive" individuals give off different chemical signals compared with "attractive" individuals. They tested the behavioural reaction of yellow fever mosquitoes to the odour of volunteers.

According to the January 2005 BBSRC Business, in one experiment, the mosquitoes were placed into a y-shaped tube and given the choice of moving upwind down one of two branches. The air flowing down one branch was laced with odour from the volunteer's hands. The other was without this odour. Their results suggest that differential attractiveness is due to compounds in unattractive individuals that switch off attraction either by acting as repellents or by masking the attractant components of human odour.

This theory differs from that of other research groups who have suggested that unattractive individuals lack the attractive components. The researchers are now testing these theories further using foil sleeping bags to collect whole body odours from volunteers.

They took part in the 'foil sleeping bag' study. I'm not sure what the final finding was, but if it was that he gives off an odour so noxious that it repells even mosquitoes, well, I could have told them that years ago... 

Anyway, as if the joy of 20 mosquito bites wasn't enough, I also have a bladder infection and feel terrible. The doctor told me to drink fluids, and get lots of rest, but apparently Fiona disagrees with her medical opinion and has not been remotely cooperating with the 'resting'plan. 

Oh well. On a lighter note, it's definitely warm enough for summer clothes now, so here are a few gratuitous pictures of Fiona looking really adorable. And if you see a mosquito having trouble flying due to the fact that it has swelled to she size of a small dog from consuming 1/3 of my blood, please approach it with caution, then take it out with a tennis raquet or something. Thanks.

Hugging her BFF Brodie

Looking cute!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dandelion Update and "Not Me" Monday

I think I've almost done it. Almost every single dandelion in our yard has been eradicated. Almost... because every time I go outside I notice two or three that I've missed. I guess they like to keep me on my toes.

As a reminder, here's what it looked like before...

(you can click on the pictures to see the dandelions in all their glory)

And here's how it looks now (Ben even mowed the lawn!!)

In other yardwork news, something in the back actually produced a flower! I'm so excited!! I don't know what it is, and chances are it shouldn't be there, but it looks nice, and it's got purple flowers on it! Also, my super hardy hostas are coming back. Yay!

(L-R mystery plant, hostas)

And that is not all! My lilac bush has green leaves and does not appear to be dead! Sadly, it's not flowering, but maybe it will feel up to that next year. I've been talking to it encouragingly and thanking it for sticking around for another year, so hopefully that will help.

The back yard still needs a lot of work though, so I'll update again later.

I'm sure you'll all be happy to hear that "Not Me" Monday is back again! Here are my confessions things I would never do for this week:

I did not give Fiona a handful of cheetos, which I'm sure are full of chemicals and artificial colours and are not remotely good for babies, just to keep her occupied for long enough for me to eat my lunch sitting down rather than while chasing her round the house. I only ever feed her the most natural, wholesome, nutritious foods. 

I was not complely unprepared for the epic diaper leak that happened at the mall which completely soaked Fiona's trousers and stroller seat. Like all good mothers, of course I had a spare set of clothes with me. I certainly did not use said leak as an excuse to buy not only a pair of emergency trousers, but also two dresses and a really cute top. Not me!

I am definitely not the kind of person who would put all her daughter's bibs in the wash, forget to dry them (for three days) and end up just wrapping her poor baby in a dish towel at meal times instead. No way! Not me!

And finally, I did not get so completely obsessed with dandelions that I seriously considered buying a pocket-sized dandelion weeder so I could dig up dandelions that I spotted in other people's yards when taking walks. That would be totally crazy!! 

Have a good Monday!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


When I was little, I loved dandelions. I loved thair bright yellow flowers, and most of all I loved their puffy seed-head clocks. We had a book about a fairy who would tell the time by blowing the seeds off the dandelion clock. The number of puffs it took to blow them all away was the time that it was. We'd get so excited to find a ripe, fluffy clock in the garden. I never really understood why my Mum would get so steaming mad somewhat frustrated when she found us happily sending millions of dandelion seeds floating across her garden. After all, who wouldn't want more dandelions?

Then again, this book did also contain stories of a little elf man who smoked pipes made of acorns and twigs, so clearly the book wasn't titled "stories to positively influence your child" and she should have been glad we didn't all take up smoking stuff we found in the garden instead.

Anyway, recently our grass has become overrun with dandelions, and now I truly appreciate how horrifying these festive weeds are. I prefer not to use chemicals on the lawn, which left me with the options of either attacking them with a blowtorch (dramatic, effective, dangerous, probably would set the grass on fire) or digging them up (monotonous, backbreaking, equally effective). I went with the digging them up option, and have been spending much of my spare time tacking this task. 

I recently aquired this tool to assist in the matter:

This part is attached to the end of a long handle, which you drive deep down into the core of the dandelion, then use to sever the life-giving root...

Then, you're able to pull up the entire dandelion, leaving the lawn intact.

It works really, really well, and I am super happy to have it. In the last week I have been pulling up a few here and there, but today I decided I needed to get serious. I had to get them all up before they all went to seed, and some of them had already started to turn into clocks. The pressure was on. And it was no easy task... the back yard was pretty bad, but the front looked like this:

I've been digging on and off all day. Every so often I'd hear a sad little squeak and think I'd stabbed a mouse or something, but it was only the dandelion crying. I became obsessed with hitting just the right point to get the whole top and maximum amount of root. I started taking pleasure in the almost imperceptible 'crack' as the root was severed just right, much, I imagine, as a serial killer would when his job goes "just right". After Fiona went to bed I went back out, and dug some more. I dug dandelions until it was too dark to see them, and when I closed my eyes, all I could see were dandelion starbursts taunting me. 

I'm nearly done. I'm going to get some rest and get back to it tomorrow. I WILL NOT let them beat me.

And Mum... I'm really sorry!

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Not Me" Monday

I've been reading this blog and every monday the author posts a list of the things that 'someone else' may have done that week... things that one may not normally want to admit to in public. It's pretty funny, so I thought I'd make my own 'not me' Monday post.

Here are the things I definitely did not do in the past week...

I did not use the incredible four hour nap Fiona took last monday to read my book and eat cheetoes instead of cleaning up the dishes that had been piled up in the kitchen for two days. And I definitely didn't ignore them on Tuesday too so I could finish the book. And the Cheetos. Not me!

I absolutely did not let Fiona play with a packet of batteries so that she'd be distracted for long enough for me to change her diaper before rolling off the changing mat and crawling away. Only a completely irresponsible mother would do such a terrible thing! Not me!

I definitely didn't let Brodie lick her hands clean after lunch, partly because it makes her giggle like crazy, and partly because it makes cleaning her up easier... that would be totally gross, I'd never do a thing like that, not me!

Anything you 'didn't' do this week that you feel like you need to admit to? :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Scottish Fair Adventure

Yesterday we got together with Ben's family and went to the Minnesota Scottish fair. We were there two years ago and it was really hot, but this time it was mostly cold and windy with some scary looking rain clouds... very Scottish! Occasionally the sun would peek out and people would emerge from the tents and soak up the warmth.  Fiona wore her wooly hat, and she seemed happy enough.

We ran out of camera space and only managed to take a few pictures, so for a more detailed account of the day, go to Cathy's Blog

At the fair there are places selling "Scottish" food, and lots of different tents with kilts and tea towels and artworks and pottery to buy. There are also sheep herding demonstrations, highland dancing competitions, pipe bands, and Highland Games. I've never been to the Highland Games in Scotland, so it was fun to see the caber toss in person. 

Sheep herding

I think my favourite part was the Highland Cows. When I was little and we went on holiday, seeing Highland Cows would be very exciting, and each year I'd hope that we'd see some. 

Fiona liked the cows too. She likes anything with fur that she can hang onto, so it didn't seem like a good idea to get close enough for her to touch one. 

It was a fun day! Ben and I even overheard some real Scottish people talking! Ben said it was exciting because he hadn't heard a real Scottish accent since he last visited Aberdeen. I need to watch some Billy Connolly and start working on that!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek...

Disclaimer: Don't worry, I'm not going to spill any important details. In fact, very little time will be spent discussing the actual movie...

Ben has been pretty excited about the Star Trek movie. I don't think he'd qualify as a Trekkie, but he's definitely a big fan, and his brain is packed with Star Trek knowledge. So much so, that he has trouble aquiring new knowledge, such as Anniversary dates... ;-)

I was somewhat concerned... after all, he was also excited about the Transformers movie, and that was total rubbish, but this one looked like it might actually be halfway decent, so yesterday Cathy, Erik, and the two of us entrusted our collective children to grandparents, and hit up opening night. 

In the commercials, one of the tag lines was "It's not your Father's Star Trek", and with this, I think they hit the nail on the head. Somehow, they have managed to create a movie which I think has some appeal for the vast majority of people. This movie is your wife's Star Trek, even your boy-obsessed teenage daughter's Star Trek...

Because that's the key. They've taken fantastic special effects, exciting storylines, heart-warming personal relationships, characters that have appealed to millions and have stood the test of time, and then they added... HOT MEN! Oh yes. 

Most of you know Zachary Quinto as the endearing (and, some might say, extremely attractive) bad guy in Heroes, Sylar. The main appeal of this movie for me is that he played Spock. In case you're not convinced, here's a picture of him without his Spock costume...

Oh, do excuse me, I seem to have drooled on my keyboard.

And when you add Chris Pine, who plays Kirk, well there's a winner right there. 

How could this movie possibly not succeed? 

This morning Ben said to me... 
"Some Trekkies may complain that the Federation first encountered the Romulons after Kirk became the Captain."
If you're looking for that kind of discussion, he'd be the one to talk to.

But I wasn't really paying any attention... I was lost in fantasies of being the filling in a Kirk-Spock sandwich. 

So overall, I loved this movie. The only possible fault I can think of is that there were too many scenes where they were dressed like this...

And not any where they dressed like this...


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Secret Tulips

At first glance you might think that all there is in our driveway is a trailer full of rubbish from the basement...

But if you looked a little closer, you'd be wrong... hiding behind the trailer are super secret tulips!

Ginger (Ben's Mum) planted them sneakily one time when we were away, and then luckily she pointed them out to me recently, or I would never have noticed them behind the trailer. I've been checking on them every day to see how they're doing, and now they are blooming and look beautiful!

I think not knowing they were there for so long is the only reason they are still alive... I seem to have something of a 'death thumb' when it comes to gardening, and everything I touch turns to twigs. This year I'm mourning the loss of two hydrangea bushes and I think I'm finally accepting that my rhododendron is not going to make it either. 

When I was younger I had a little African Violet plant. I told my Mum that when I could keep a plant alive was when I'd be ready to have children. The African Violet is still alive, but only because my Mum nursed it back to health and thereafter remembered to water it for me... things don't look so good for Fiona!

So if anyone else would like to stop by and plant something in my garden, please do! But whatever you do, don't tell me, or it's sure to come to a sticky end. Also, keep an eye on my baby... if she looks like she could do with being watered, please remind me!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fiona's adventure at the E.R.

Don't worry, she's ok!

Last night Fiona had a slight fever, then this morning when she woke up she had more of a fever and was completely miserable. She threw up all over me (why, why always on me?) and was shaking and seemed to be in a lot of pain. We called the nurse, who told us to make sure she stayed hydrated and call back if she didn't stop throwing up or got worse. After a delicious tylenol-gatorade cocktail she seemed to perk up a little, and managed to eat some lunch, but when her tylenol wore off her fever got pretty high and she went right back to being miserable. We called the nurse back, and she had the doctor call us, who thought that since she had two urinary tract infections in the past, we should bring her to the children's hospital today to have her checked out rather than waiting until tomorrow to see the doctor.

After quite a lot of waiting they brought us back to a room to wait for the doctor, and even gave Fiona hor own tie in the back hospital gown to wear! Here are a couple of blurry cell phone pictures...

After some more waiting they catheterised her and took a urine sample, and after a lot more waiting they found she did have a UTI. Then there was some more waiting and they gave her an antibiotic injection, and then after waiting again (to make sure there was no allergic reaction) we were allowed to leave. Total time spent in E.R. with very unhappy, tired, cranky baby: almost 6 hours. Which I think is probably on the shorter side!

Unfortunately Ben and I were going to see Leonard Cohen tonight, and we had to miss it. Luckily we managed to sell the tickets for almost face value to someone else, so it wasn't a complete loss, but I was looking forward to it. Oh well. She's sleeping peacefully now, and seemed more comfortable already when I put her to bed, so I guess I'll forgive her for the inconvenience ;-)