Grandma “Lee” celebrated her 70th birthday yesterday. Here are a couple photos taken this weekend at our treasured Highbanks, Lake Erie. I saw my mother in younger years (likely close to my age now, 41) as I sat on the same beach we loved when my Grandmother was alive. For me, my Mom is immortalized on that private beach reading a novel. She would lay on her tummy on top of a colourful towel with her large 70s sunglasses; her chestnut hair kept neatly in a bob under a navy scarf with white polka dots. It was that image which inspired me to read beyond my short picture books. I was fascinated by her ability to read for so long and never see a picture. The bookmark was something I wanted too and I asked her if I could have one. She bought me my first book, Reddy Fox with an accompanying bookmark that had a red string tassle and we would read together on my Grandma’s beach for long afternoons. Yesterday, on her 70th, the girls had a brief opportunity to play on that same beach; laughing and splashing in the waves oblivious to the imprints of their maternal family which exist all around them.
Early the other morning as I was getting ready for work, I found myself, as I often do, tying my tie in front of the bedroom closet mirror. Just as I was wrapping up, I heard a little voice choke out, “What are you doing daddy?” I turned around to see a bleary-eyed Ellie clambering into bed beside Christine – something that has become a bit of a morning ritual in our house. I told her that I was getting ready to go to work. Perched on my pillow she replied with her standard “Why?” to which I responded with my pat reply “To teach the kids.” But this time it seems Ellie was ready for me, for she quickly snapped “Again?! Haven’t they learned yet?” I couldn’t help but to burst out laughing, not really certain as to whether this was a criticism of the students willingness/ability to learn or an indictment of my pedagogical technique. Wiping a tear from my eye, I asked her, “Okay, Smartie; what can you teach the kids?” Ellie looked straight at me and said “I can teach them funny faces” and instantly began running through her repertoire of funny faces that she would teach “the kids”. And for the record, they were hysterical. I had to applaud her efforts and assured her that she would indeed make a great teacher some day. It’s humbling getting shown up by a three year old, even if she is the cutest thing I’ve ever met.
By Matt Kavanagh
“Quickly! Hide! Mrs. Gulch is coming!”
Likely we cannot recall who this woman is by name but Ellie will be quick to tell you that the woman riding on the bike is the very mean, Mrs Gulch and if she is coming; she is likely to take something you love away. Over the past year and a half we have watched Ellie run from lions and crocodiles but she now focuses solely on Mrs Gulch. The amazing thing is listening to her little girlfriends, Irene and Paige also yelling, “Mrs Gulch is coming! She’s going to take our shoes!” or “She’s going to take our cat, bear or Toto!” They run and hide with no understanding of the film, the Wizard of Oz, as most children aged 3-4 have likely not seen it but the fever remains in their minds and can make for lengthy creative play.
Ellie recently saw the stage version of the Wizard of Oz with her grandparents and it was a very warm May day when she dressed up in her favourite dress and pink flip-flops before heading downtown. My parents were a little worried about how she would do through a live performance but Ellie was as mesmorized as she always is at the farm when she snuggles in on the couch to watch Dorothy follow the yellow brick road. As the play was a little different from the movie, Ellie was entertained in a new way especially when the Wicked Witch went into a rage screaming, “I want shoes! I want shoes!” Ellie was heartfelt and whispered to Grandma, “She can have my flip-flops.”
Ellie has yet to make the leap that Mrs Gulch and the Wicked Witch are one and the same but she is sympathetic to both when using her very big heart which I know the Tin Man gave her. She uses her courage to save her friends from Mrs Gulch and her brains to get them to skip and run endlessly around the backyard which is cleverly disguised as Kansas, the Witch’s castle and Emerald City.
Koh Tao, 2009
Well, the dynamic of our family has changed once again. We now share our home with a delightful and playful little kitty who Ellie named, Crackers because he reminds her of the colour of her goldfish treats. Matt and I wanted to go with a much more formal, Ridley after our favourite director, Sir Ridley Scott who also happens to be a ginger but Ellie’s choice stuck. After much consideration for our beloved, Miss Lucy who is very lonely after the passing of her long time companion, Koh Tao, we thought it time to introduce a new friend. Crackers arrived on Friday night after we made two visits to the Humane Society. Ellie is preparing for a corrective eye surgery this summer – as her one tendon does not rotate her eyeball upward – so we spent last Thursday at Sick Kids which was a long process as is usual. After the visit, Ellie was feeling somewhat discouraged at the idea of the upcoming surgery but was a real trooper through the 4 hour visit. To cheer her up, I decided to make a quick detour to the Humane Society before going home and together we found Crackers in one of the last cages and instantly he struck us as the match we had waited for. This transistion comes after a tearful good-bye to my very first cat, Koh Tao a year ago. He was a beautiful little guy with attitude, a demand for affection and a purr that could lull anyone into a deep slumber. He was pure love in my heart from the moment I met him. I had Koh Tao exactly 12 years almost to the hour. He was adopted on March 18, 2000 in St Paul, MN and passed on March 18, 2012 in Toronto. As time moves forward and the wind changes again we were very pleased to watch Lucy welcome Crackers in her own feline way. Welcome, Crackers!
Good Morning, Emma! Your birthday is sunny and there is still snow on the front lawn from a recent snow storm. I am truly amazed that you are now a 1 year old. So much has happened during your first year, a leap year baby, and I will list some here:
While you were a big baby, you were center stage at the United Nativity play as Jesus. It was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; Pope Benedict XVI resigns his position making him the first to do so in 600 years; we had the London Olympics; Re-election of Barack Obama; the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant and her baby, if a girl, will be in line for the throne thanks to Queen Elizabeth; Felix Baumgartner’s Live Space Jump; a meteorite crashed in Russia; Hurricane Sandy hit New York city and we felt its effects by way of wind and rain in Toronto; Facebook reached a billion users; we went to the Beach Boys reunion tour; and of course, Gagnam Style was EVERYWHERE!
Our Prime Minister is Stephen Harper and our Mayor is troublesome, Rob Ford.
“In July, physicists at the Large Hadron Collider ended a 5-decade-long search when they announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. This long-sought particle is responsible for giving all other subatomic elements, such as protons and electrons, their mass, and was the final piece in the Standard Model, which describes the interactions of all known particles and forces. While LHC researchers were cautious, only calling their results a “Higgs-like” particle until more data and analysis is available, the finding was widely hailed as the most important fundamental physics discovery in more than a generation.”
Reality tv shows still dominate the airwaves but Mom & Dad’s favourites include: Dexter, Downton Abbey, the Walking Dead and Mad Men. We have yet to watch Homeland which was the big winner at the Emmy’s, and sadly, 30 Rock finished its run.
Music that I will always remember around the time you were born: Somebody that I used to know by Goyte or as Ellie calls it, “The Tina song.”
Movies included: the Hunger Games, the Hobbit, Skyfall, Lincoln and Argo.
Celebrities: Jennifer Lawrence – Best Actress at the Oscars; Daniel Day Lewis – Best Actor at the Oscars. Ryan Gosling and Kate Upton are the “it” celebrities.
The book, February won Book of the Year on Canada Reads on the CBC.
We brought in 2013 – which is the year of the Snake – with a quiet night at home. Sarah, Paul and “baby Terry,” joined us for a celebratory drink.
Now, what is up with the photo? Well, as I spent a few minutes cleaning up the kitchen this morning while you were to have your 20 minute after breakfast nap, Ellie decided to smear Penaten diaper rash cream through your hair. My plans to visit the local zoo to see the new baby lambs was cancelled as we started the slow and difficult process of removing this thick messy cream from your head. I will add some more flattering photos soon! We love you, Emma!
Emma woke up to her first New Year with a wider back, stronger legs, large eyes and a new top front tooth. Her favourite word these days sounds like, “Ba, Ba, Ba,” which she says while smacking her lips together with a sweet kiss sound. Her saliva also makes bubbles when she repeats it for several minutes and only on a baby is this adorable and even kissable. I am desperately clinging to her last two months of “baby” before she marks her 1 year on February 26th. As the cliche goes, ‘this all happened much too fast,’ and there is no way to slow it down even when I truly stop to watch, listen, smell and giggle along with her. What a magical season it was because of you! Thank you, Emma for all the love you brought in 2012.