Blog-o! Notes from

Sat, 30 Jul 2005
Two and Two Months

Delphine is twenty six months old (or thereabouts) and all seems to be well. She talks in full sentences, and occasionally they are gramatically perfect, which is a bit of a thrill.

She's still in daycare, three days a week. She is quite stuck on one of the other kids there, a little boy named Antonio. She has taught herself to jump two-footed, and when she does it she says "Are you jumping like Antonio?" (She communicates a lot in rhetorical questions.) And whenever we talk about daycare, Antonio's name is always the first to come up. "Who did you see at daycare?" "Antonio." "Who is going to be at daycare today? "Antonio." Antonio is a very boisterous and energetic little boy, kind of the alpha male of daycare, and I don't know if he holds her in the same regard, but I don't think she really cares.

Her latest literary love is Franklin the Turtle. My dad sent her a couple of Franklin books for her birthday. I was a little skeptical at first because they are pretty wordy - several paragraphs - and they are just prose, not rhyme. But she sits through them and asks for them again and again. We also go back to the usual favourites all the time; "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish", "Each Peach Pear Plum", and lots of nursery rhymes.

We haven't really started potty training in earnest. I'm hoping it will just happen all by itself. We have a potty, and sometimes she sits on it, but never for long enough for a result. They also encourage her to sit on the toilet at daycare (they have the cutest little toddler sized toilets), so I'm hoping one day soon something will happen. Antonio is close to being potty trained; maybe that will help.

We're having trouble with sleep; for the last week (or two?) she has been resisting going to bed, and crying for ages before finally sleeping. We have been going in to see her intermittently. She always has a raft of byzantine demands; a different blanket, Boy (her doll) in the crib, Boy out of the crib, a kleenex, and so on. Clearly she is just stalling, and it was working really well for her; lots of attention and extra time with Mummy and Daddy..

But I got Weissbluth's "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" out of the library again and having re-read the first few chapters, I think that she is probably sleep-deprived because we moved her bedtime later a few weeks ago. (In addition to the trouble sleeping, she has also been acting very two-ish in the afternoons and evenings -- very contrary and tantrumy and generally not like herself at all.)

So we are going to move her bedtime back up to 6:30 or 6:00 (even though I have no idea how we're going to make it work with our schedules) and starting tomorrow we will let her cry herself to sleep instead of going in every few minutes. It's mean but it works. I was going to start today, but Blake thought it would be nicer to go in one last time and explain to her that he wasn't going to come back, and she should just go to sleep. Sure enough, she didn't cry after that, so maybe the same thing will work tomorrow.

So, in general, she is getting smarter, and I think prettier, and definitely taller. I think my very favourite thing is when Blake brings her into the bedroom first thing in the morning, and she says "Hi Mummy!" and we cuddle and read books.

[Posted at 20:50 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 15 Jul 2005
Looking for work?

While I'm here posting up a storm, I should mention that my company could really use some good Java and C++ people, hopefully senior enough to be team leads on some upcoming projects, but I hear that we could use people of any and all skill levels. Well, perhaps not the most junior, unless they're really smart, and self-starters. If you are looking for a job, or know anyone who is, please contact us.

Oh, and if you wanted to know what it was like working here, feel free to email me.

[Posted at 09:11 by Blake Winton] link
My first road rash.

On my ride home yesterday, it started to rain. I haven't ridden in the rain much, so I figured I'ld do a test stop, to see how much longer it would take me to come to a complete halt. I waited until I was on an empty street, fairly close to my home, and peddled until I got to 32km/h (I usually get to 35km/h on that stretch of street, but I didn't want to push it). It turns out that at that speed, it takes me approximately twice as long, which is good to know. I figured I would take it a little slower for the rest of the ride home. I made a left, then a right, and then, as I was slowing down nice and gently, and making the next right, my front wheel hit a patch of water, and locked up. The bike turned, and I completely bailed onto the street, landing on my knee, and then my elbow. It was kind of fun sliding down the pavement on a layer of water. Sort of like a Slip-N-Slide. I picked myself up, used the rest of the water in my bottle to rinse off the worst of the gravel, and biked home, where Amy scrubbed the injuries with a washcloth, and put some Polysporin on them to heal. They're already looking a lot better, and they don't hurt much, so I'm hoping for a swift recovery, with minimal scarring.

[Posted at 09:03 by Blake Winton] link
Like Baba.

Amy made some really tasty chicken for dinner last night, and when Delphine saw Amy's drumstick, she immediately wanted one for herself. And thus, this picture-entry was born.

I see someone takes after their Baba.

Who, me?

[Posted at 08:46 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 14 Jul 2005

Let me just say that this pregnancy is kicking my ass. I was looking over my pregnancy journal for last time and at week thirty-nine -- thirty-nine -- I was complaining, for the first time, about leg pain pelvic twinges and having to walk slower. Until then I had been just fine. It was like a pretend pregnancy; pregnancy-lite.

I have been dealing with that stuff for weeks already this time! If I have been sitting for a long time and then I stand up, I get this miserable ache in my pelvis, like you get the first time you go for a long bike ride in spring, except on the inside. I can't walk at faster than an amble without getting these crazy stitches in my sides. I can't walk at any pace for more than about twenty-minutes without taking a bread. I have to lie at funny angles, or propped up with a pillow, or else the weight of my belly pulls at my sides in weird ways. And I had a leg cramp last night that was so bad that I woke Blake up with my freaking out.

And so tired. I can sleep and sleep and sleep, and when I wake up, all I want to do is sleep some more. I wish I could have a day off to just gorge myself on sleep.

So needless to say, I will reiterate two more months?! I can't imagine whether and how it will get worse. I have to improve my attitude, though, I am spending far too much time feeling sorry for myself. It's hard not to, though, between the pregnancy and this absurdly hot weather and the bad back thing. Poor 'ittle me.

It's making me realize why the birth rate plummets as soon as a society starts to educate and emancipate their women. "You mean I don't have to do this? Hell no!"

[Posted at 20:17 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 10 Jul 2005
Twenty-nine Weeks

I can't believe I still have more than two months left. Two months. I am so done. I am huge and ungainly; my pelvis hurts half of the time, and I can't walk at faster than an amble without getting miserable cramps. Oh, and the varicose veins. I could have done without them.

In better news, I don't have gestational diabetes, my hemoglobin is great, and I'm generally healthy. I'm now visiting the midwife every two weeks instead of every month, which certainly makes me feel like something is starting to happen.

I had a real moody day yesterday; I felt very anxious and ready to cry at any moment. There was no real reason for it, though, and sure enough I felt better this morning. It didn't hurt that I got lots of sleep, and it was sunny and beautiful when I woke up. And Sunday! I love the weekend. I think I will always love weekends.

There is almost nothing to do before this baby comes, unlike last time when there was everything to do. I would like to get a new dresser from Ikea, one that is the right height to be a changing table. (My back is not going to forgive me for another three years of changing diapers hunched over our bed.) And we need to pack the bag for the hospital, but that can wait. Oh, and we need another car seat.

Apart from that, well, if he's a boy I will probably have to get some boyish clothes, but since we need to get him or her winter clothes anyway (since Delphine's baby stuff is all summery) we can just layer the boy sweaters over the effeminate underthings.

Oh, and I bet we will need a tandem stroller, but I am having no luck finding a tandem version of the cheap umbrella strollers. Do they even exist? I don't want to spend upwards of two hundred bucks on another stroller, but I thought it would be handy to have a tandem.

Yesterday we all went up to the suburbs to visit Ellen and Dexter and their new baby Maxine, who is just a month old. She is very small -- still two pounds smaller than Delphine was when she was born. Blake was a little weirded out by her smallness; he thinks she's too small to be out. I, on the other hand, can't imagine something that big still being in. It's the paradox of birthing a huge human head through tiny human hips.

Delphine was pretty stuck by the baby. After we got home, she was very emotional, so I asked her if she was sad -- "yeah". Was she sad about Maxine? "Yeah." Was she said because Mummy and Daddy spent so much time holding Maxine? "Yeah." So I explained to her that when the new baby comes we will still love her just as much. Then this morning when we were all in bed, she saw my big belly and started crying, and we had to do it all again. I expect we will have the same conversation a few more times before September, and then some more after the new baby comes. I'm glad that Maxine came first to help Delphine get used to the idea of a baby before having to confront the reality of one.

[Posted at 22:11 by Amy Brown] link

This is a book about how more choices can make you unhappier with the choice you finally make, and how people are inherently bad at making decisions. It was very interesting and gave me some insight into my own thought processes and their emotional result. I was particularly struck by the discussion about careers; as a middle-class Westerner I can do pretty much anything I want to (provided I don't mind incurring a lot of debt) and that leaves me pretty much paralysed. What if I pick wrong? Aaah!

I would recommend this book to just about everyone, particularly people who feel depressed or dissatisfied with their life. Not only does it include a lot of information about how decision-making happens, and how it can screw you up, the best thing about the book is that the last chapter gives some concrete suggestions for how to deal with all the choices available to us.

(Oh, but it has one of the ugliest covers I've seen in a long time.)

[Posted at 21:18 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 08 Jul 2005

This is a book about how to bike in the city. There are a couple of dogmatic schools of thought about how you're supposed to bike in the city (the Vehicular school and the Invisible school) and Hurst pretty much dismantles them both. He is very pragmatic, about where to bike, when to bike, how to stay safe, and how to relate to other vehicles. He has a very calm, accepting philosophy about how things are and argues that you are better off working within reality rather than spending a great deal of time being angry at it. In that sense this is an excellent guide to how to live, as well as how to bike.

He did piss me off at the end by dissing my bike (I will paraphrase because I don't have the book with me: "Comfort bikes seem to be designed for people who want to bike while maintaining as much of a feeling of sitting on the couch as possible.") Okay, that's kind of why I bought my bike, but it still smarts.

Having said that, though, later he talks about how your bike should fit, and says that your weight should be equally distributed on your hands, your feet and your butt, and it's when beginners don't realize that that they are uncomfortable and decide to stop biking. Well, duh, I bought my bike with the big seat so that I could sit all my weight on my butt, and lo and behold, it's never really comfortable.

So next time I go out I will try and balance my weight better (I think I will have to adjust a bunch of stuff, because right now the handlebars are pretty high and the seat is pretty low.) I think, though, that that means biking is a lot more work than I thought it was. On the other hand, that means that if I bike more it will make me much stronger and fitter than I thought it would.

[Posted at 11:28 by Amy Brown] link

Robert Sullivan thought it would be cool to spend a year or so hanging out in an alley watching some rats, and write a book about it and rats in general. It turned out to be a pretty good book, but with a lot of needless philosophising which didn't seem to result in any great conclusions, that I could tell. I would have been happy with just lots of facts and observations. (The book has them, just mixed in with the other stuff.)

Reading this book I realized that I am missing what seems to be a fundamental human trait -- I'm not afraid of rats. I suppose if you stuck me in a dark alley surrounded by lots of them, I might be, but when I imagine the scenario it doesn't faze me at all. We had rats as pets and I have a great deal of appreciation for them; they are intelligent and resourceful and generally very sensible animals. And unlike cats, they don't vomit.

[Posted at 11:15 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 07 Jul 2005
Google Maps Pedometer!

I just heard of a new tool which lets you plot arbitrary points onto a Google Map. So I plotted my commute (both there, and back again). That's pretty much all I got, but it was so neat that I figured I should really share it. If any of you plot your routes, please leave me a link in the comments. (Uh, you can't actually link, so just leave the url.) I should probably also note that I don't actually drive all over the road, or though people's houses like it says I do. I just got tired of clicking every single change in direction, and so flattened out some curves.

[Posted at 13:17 by Blake Winton] link
Wed, 06 Jul 2005
Parental Observations.

On Sunday, Amy, Delphine, and I went to meet some friends from New York at the Distillery District. Sadly, we just missed the bus at King and Yonge which would have taken us there, which got me to thinking. Normally I'm an extremely punctual person. In fact, I usually show up five or ten minutes early to wherever it is I'm supposed to be, with the expectation that I'll have to entertain myself. Since my Clie is with me all the time, and I usually have two or three books on the go on it, I'm never worried about having something to do while I wait. (The one exception to this is hanging around Delphine's day care. I feel sort of like the strange man who's a little too interested in your children. Since I'll probably be picking up Del for the next few months so that Amy can work a few more hours, I should probably get over that, eh?) Anyways, when I'm travelling with Delphine, I'm much less likely to get somewhere early, because she's much harder to keep amused for five or ten minutes than I am, and so I cut my travelling time closer, and then sometimes miss connections.

Just something to keep in mind if you're ever meeting me somewhere.

[Posted at 13:03 by Blake Winton] link
What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

Friday was a day off for us Canadians, and because I like the idea of a four-day-weekend, I decided to take Monday off as well. The only down side to not working is that I don't get to ride on my daily 20 kilometer commute. So today, inspired by an article in the Sunday Globe and Mail about the Donut Ride (a 120 km ride around Toronto which happens every Saturday and Sunday), I went on a ride for the sheer joy of it while Delphine and Amy took their nap. It's fairly rare that I go for a ride just to go for a ride, since usually I'm either commuting or riding somewhere to pick something up, even if it's just over to Bayview for gelato. Having a toddler doesn't lead to a lot of free time, and while she's okay for shorter rides, the one time we took her on a long ride, she got a little antsy. (Okay, so she was crying for the last twenty minutes, but we were on the middle of the Don Trail, and it doesn't exit until Lakeshore.)

Since I've never been on a long ride, I was wondering how far I could go, and how long I could maintain a speed. My route was quite simple, through the cemetary to Bayview, then North until I was done. All in all, I think I did fairly well for my first ride, although I certainly made some newbie mistakes. The most obvious mistake was going too fast at the start of the ride. Going down the hills, I would shift into the highest gear, and then forget to down-shift when I started going up the next hill. Between that and the excessive heat (the humidex was around 35, I believe)I was completely beat after 20 minutes. (On the upside, my average speed for those 20 minutes was over 27 km/h.) So, after pulling over onto the sidewalk (and getting a strange look from a lady out watering her lawn), and taking a water break, I felt a lot better, and continued North. I was hoping to ride for one and a half to two hours, but just before the 30 minute mark, I found myself at Finch and Bayview, and so I thought I would I cut over to Yonge, and head home, for a total time of a little under one hour. (57 minutes, 40 seconds.)

So, some more stats. My average speed (25.7 km/h) was quite a bit faster than normal. (I usually average around 22-24.) My fastest speed (51.2 km/h) wasn't faster than normal, so I guess I was keeping speed for longer than normal, which isn't surprising, since I didn't have to stop for more than three or four lights on the whole ride up to Finch. Finally, my current odometer reading is 1808.2 km, which is below the 1820 it would have been had I commuted on Friday and Monday, but is still fairly impressive for someone who doesn't really think of themselves as a cyclist.

Finally, in a desparate bid to get the three of you who read this weblog to comment, I have a question. I'm thinking of getting a cyclocross bike for commuting in the fairly distant future. From all I've read, the Surly Cross Check sounds like a frame I'ld enjoy, but they don't have dealers (any bike store can order in as many as they want, so the stores are stuck with unsold merchandise), so I don't know where I'ld go if I wanted to test-ride one. Can any of you suggest a store which might carry the Cross Check (or any other cyclocross bikes that you like) for test rides? (The nice lady at The Urbane Cyclist suggested their in-house Urbanite brand, which looked fairly similar, but which I've heard absolutely nothing about.

[Posted at 13:03 by Blake Winton] link