Thursday, December 16, 2010

our little volunteer

Miya spends her mornings, Monday through Thursday, at the playgroup. For Fridays she found another kind of activity to fill her morning. She takes her mom to the Glebe Centre, a long-term care home for seniors, where she is a volunteer visitor to residents with advanced dementia.

Miya is a fantastic volunteer. Her role is simply to play in the common room where residents can watch her, since people with advanced dementia will often respond to small children in ways they don't with adults. Already through her play she is engaging with them.

It truly is amazing to watch. She is able to do what I cannot - interact with no preconceptions, no judgement. She does not stop to wonder what someone's disability is, what they are or are not capable of. She takes them as they are. If they want to sing to her, she listens. If they mumble or stutter, she listens too. No judgement. Pure engagement.

By our second visit, she was sharing her board puzzles with residents- taking them little pieces that together they would work to put into place. The facilitator was over the moon watching the ease with which Miya interacts with them - and the way in which residents respond to her. And I couldn't be more proud of our little volunteer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Miya's movie

After starring in her debut film, A is for Apple, Miya has been seeking another cinematic opportunity - but so far has been disappointed by the lack of depth and dialogue in roles for toddlers.

No longer willing to wait, Miya recruited her nanny to assist her in making her first feature-length film, a riveting documentary in which Miya goes undercover in a community playgroup to get to the heart of such questions like 'What happens in gym time?' and 'Is there snack?'

Monday, November 01, 2010


Halloween is a time for spooks, goblins and ghoulish surprises.

It's hard to be scary when you are less than 3 feet tall. You can't exactly bare your fangs if your little teeth are still working their way up through your gums.

But Miya defied these odds on October 31st was transformed from an adorable toddler into a ferocious tiger. Animals tucked their tails and ran at the sight of her. Dogs howled. Babies cried. A kitten fainted.

Thankfully, at midnight, the coach became a pumpkin to be tossed in the municipal green bin and the tiger was tamed. Peace is restored.

Monday, October 18, 2010

fall hats

Miya's mother loves to knit.

Miya's mother loves to knit hats.

Miya's mother knits Miya hats.

Miya does not like to knit.

Miya does not like to wear hats.

Miya does not like to wear knitted hats.

Miya's mother has to take pictures very quickly.

cafe office

I'm late coming in to the office today. Most of my colleagues are already here - the guy who designs guitars, the stylish blonde with a hot pink computer case, the pair of elderly ladies who perhaps have a dozen teeth between them, the owner of a used book store who wears a grubby jacket and an old green toque... I don't see Mr. Leather yet. He's one of the regulars I actually talk to most often and he has some, um, colourful stories to tell.

These are the other regular customers at the local cafe where I spend nearly every day working on my thesis. The staff know my drink of choice - and one of them jokes that I ask for a code and she gives me a punch (That would be a code for the internet and a hole punch in my coffee card).

This is a great place to work - I can concentrate really well here but at the same time it feels a bit like a social outing. I started chatting with one young woman and we both discovered we have little girls the same age at home, are here working on our thesis (she on her PhD, me on my MA) about urban issues! Turns out I had actually met her daughter already at play group.

There is another woman who I've known for years but we had rarely opportunities to see each other. Now since I'm always at this cafe when she stops in to get a coffee she'll sit and chat for a few minutes. She's one of those people who just leave you feeling happier and inspired after talking to her.

There was another regular here -a very friendly, chatty fellow who was here every day and knew the names of all the other regulars. He was the first regular whose name I knew. Ron, a man in his late 50s, loved to run and was always talking about his next race, teasing those of us stuck at our computers that we should be out joining him. It was a shock when I came in one day and guitar guy told me that Ron had died of a heart attack on the weekend. I only knew him as a friendly face at the cafe, but I was surprised how much his death touched me.

So this is my office. I spend my days here in the buzz of conversation, the clatter of cups, the whir of the espresso machine and the aroma of fresh coffee. Sometimes the office is invaded by babies and young mothers, a reminder of who is waiting for me when I get home.

The thought of trading this for some bureaucratic cubicle... not appealing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the long thesis trek

When I was on the Camino I would walk almost every day, for weeks on end. I became very aware of the ebbs and flows in my energy. Some mornings the kilometres passed as smooth as water, on other days each step was a challenge. But I kept moving forward, step by step, through driving rain, beating heat or gentle breezes.

My life has changed oh so much since then. But as I am in the last stretch to finish my thesis, I'm struck by the similarities between walking 1,500+ km and researching and writing 100+ pages.

For one thing, just as my strength each day was not the same, my mental clarity seems to vary from day to day. Some days I get on a roll. I don't notice the hours pass. Ideas fall into place, reading is a pleasure and words come easily.

On other days, I can read the same paragraph 4 times and still not be sure what it says. I stare at my open document and can't figure out how to untangle the mess of words. If time was not an issue, it would be nice to spend such days away from the computer, to tidy my house instead of my text, to bake muffins for my daughter or unwind with some knitting. But as with the pilgrimage, each day I moved forward, despite the weather, despite the variations of my strength.

So this little blogging break aside, I will continue on today. Step by step, word by word. And one day, I will arrive.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Having mastered walking, Miya has been looking for new challenges.

Given that her feet aren't quite long enough to reach the stirrups, horseback riding was out. Seeing as how her parents don't have a piano, she couldn't sign up for piano lessons. And although briefly considering para gliding, she recognized that with winter coming, it probably wasn't the best time.

So when her mom presented her with option of a gymnastics class, Miya (literally) jumped at the chance. Her mother watched in awe as, in the first class, her 16-month old hung from the bars and rings, bounced on the trampoline and did headstands and somersaults.

Miya is now working on convincing her parents to refurnish the house in foam padding, trampolines, tunnels and swings.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Summer at the Park

The other day Miya was watching leaves falling from the tall trees surrounding our neighbourhood park. "Uh-oh," she said, pointing at them. Uh-oh indeed. Not only is the tree dropping its leaves (anything being dropped or thrown is 'uh-oh') but our warm summer days at the park are coming to an end.

The park has become practically a second home for Miya this summer. Often upon waking from a nap her first word will be 'park' - and sure enough, after a quick diaper change and a gathering of sun hat, snacks, water and other random toddler accoutrements, we are off to the park - not even five minutes from home.

Miya is never lacking in ways to amuse herself - pushing around one of the park push toys, splashing in the wading pool, digging in the sand, climbing on the play structure, swinging, running and roaming - or simply sitting on a bench to have a snack and watch other kids.

The lazy summer hours have slipped away and as much as I love fall, we will certainly miss our summer at the park.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

She speaks

After a long period of contemplative silence, Miya has stepped forth and begun to share her message with the world.

It is a message of identification - baby, dog, duck, pea, bird, ball, milk...

And of shared communication - neigh, baa, meow, roar, hoot...

And of love - 'hug' is a popular word often accompanied by a demonstration.

Sometimes she engages her audience by making them guess at her intent. 'Duck', for example might mean truck, stuck, a yellow bird, an ostrich, or, of course, a duck.

Perhaps acknowledging her parents' initial indecision over her name, she calls herself both Miya and Maya. Daddy she says often and with varying degrees of insistence, sometimes adding a yay at the end, especially at the end of the day as she anticipates his return from work. "Daddy-yay!" And for her mom she alternates between Momma and Mommy and proudly identifies various objects around the house as belonging to either 'Mommy' or 'Daddy'.

Miya promises to continue to share her message with those around her, engaging passing people, dogs, squirrels, cats and birds with an enthusiastic 'hi'. We look forward to hearing what she has to say next.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A is for Apple

Big A, little a, what begins with A?

Adorable apple-eater, A a A

Big M, little m, what begins with M?

Miya munching merrily, M m M

Thursday, July 15, 2010

once more appalled

I haven't watched much television or seen many movies in the past few months - time is too precious or I'm just too tired in the evenings. So this last week when I found the time to watch a couple of romantic comedies, I thought I would find them mildly amusing, a pleasant way to relax. Instead, I find myself wanting to rant and rave.

Maybe it's because I'm a mother now. Maybe it's that I that I'm less inured to Hollywood drivel having separated myself for awhile. Maybe I just think too much. But seriously, the way women are portrayed in these movies drives me mad!

The first I watched was an oldie (1998) - I'd seen it before and remembered being mildly offended by the ending. You've Got Mail is in many ways your run-of-the-mill rom com: couple meets but has apparently insurmountable barriers and spend much of the movie hating each other, only to realize at the end that they really love each other after all. In this case the barrier is that the guy (Tom Hanks) is putting the girl (Meg Ryan) out of business. What's so infuriating in this case is that in the end, when she decides she really loves him after all, no mention is made of the fact that he ruined her professional life. Ok, there is a suggestion that since losing her business (a children's book shop) she has taken up writing and is about to be published. But this is such a passing comment (reach for the popcorn and you might miss it) so as to be apparently insignificant. Lesson here, my professional life may be ruined but, the guy who seemed like a jerk really loves me so that is all I need.

At least You've Got Mail had some redeeming qualities - I'm a sucker for the ever-adorable Meg Ryan and there was a cute hidden-identity theme. But the second movie I watched - The Ugly Truth - had no such redeeming qualities. In this movie the woman (Katherine Heigle) starts off strong. We see her as a tv producer who runs the show, smooths egos, calms worries and stares chaos in the face. Intro the guy - super alpha-male misogynist (Gerard Butler) and presto, she turns into a brainless, desperate child who lets him reconstruct her image (telling her to perk up her boobs, put extensions in her hair so a guy "has something to grab" etc). Completely offensive. I won't even bother to explain the rest. Obviously, being a predictable rom com the oddly-matched couple get together at the end. And the lesson in this one is that successful women are really in need of a domineering man to turn them stupid and slutty - and only then will they be fulfilled and truly happy. Absolutely appalling.

What makes these movies all the more frustrating and perplexing to me is that they are written by women. And it's not just these two, thinking about mainstream movies, (not some indie movies which are almost always refreshing exceptions) women are immature characters who are just waiting for a man to come and direct them, teach them, control them (i.e. The Proposal). Or they may be the quirky ingenue who role is simply to heal, redeem, comfort or cheer the guy (i.e. Garden State, Elisabethtown). Often she sacrifices herself for the guy (i.e. Autumn in New York, A Walk to Remember), saving him through her death. Again, appalling.

I'd like to think I'm going to raise my daughter in a world where women and men are equal, but if listening to the news (i.e. threatened stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani) isn't enough to show me how far we have yet to go, 'relaxing' with a movie is certainly not going to ease my concerns.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

It's an amazing privilege to get to celebrate Mother's Day - not only because I am grateful to have a wonderful mother, but also because I am truly blessed to be a mother myself.

I'd heard it said that one can never understand the love a mother feels for her child until she has a child, and I know now how true this is.

Mother's Day isn't only a celebration of mothers, it's also a celebration of Grandmothers.

In April Miya got to see both her Grandma Bev and her Ajji (Grandma) Padma. Lots of love, cuddles and kisses - and not to mention a fair number of new toys and outfits! A very lucky little girl!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dorris da Door Worm

Miya has many adorable toys. Plush teddies, a cuddly Eeyore, stuffed animals and soft blankets. So far, most of these have received only a passing interest. The teddy introduced to Miya as a bedtime 'lovey' is more likely to be bashed against the crib rails than to be cuddled with.

Indeed, Miya has generally been quite indifferent to all her soft toys - that is, until she met Dorris.

Dorris actually isn't even a toy. She is a door worm - something her mother knitted with scraps of yarn to block the light and noise at the big gap under Miya's bedroom door.

But Dorris da Door Worm does not have to spend her days alone on the floor. One of Miya's favourite past-times is to take Dorris on walk-abouts around the house. She holds Dorris up and walks a ways, drops her, stoops and picks her up, holds her high and takes a few more steps, drops her, picks her up, takes a few more steps.... you get the picture. Apparently this is widely entertaining. Both Dorris and Miya are able to do this for great lengths of times, multiple times a day, every day of the week.

Never underestimate the potential of a door worm.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sleepy, sick baby

Poor little Miya has her first real nasty cold. Her cute little nose has become a spout of runny snot. Her thick, wet coughs frighten the cats.

On Friday I had to go in to work for a meeting, so V came home early to look after her. She hadn't been able to nap well during the day due to her congestion and coughs, so by 4:30 she was tuckered out. Our little baby, who is usually rather particular about how and when she naps, fell asleep in her daddy's arms.

I came home to a quiet house. Well, not entirely quiet - poor congested baby with her little snores.

It's obviously quite exhausting having a cold when you're only 9 months old.