Ding, Dong!

That’s the sound of the door bell that just rang tonight. The dog is here, visiting with Zak’s parents. He ran to the door sounding like a dozen hounds going after a… well, whatever hounds go after. Zak ran after him, trying to make him shush as our son had just gone to bed.

At the door was our elderly neighbor. She handed Zak a bag:

- Here is something for the baby. There’s something else that was already in the bag, if it’s not good anymore, throw it out.

-Err… Ok, said Zak, unsure of what to think. Merry Christmas!

He took the bag, said thanks and shut the door. What else could he do?

For the record, our neighbors have given us various stuff before, usually things that they don’t want anymore so they drop it on our porch, and that way we’re the ones stuck disposing of them. But this one takes the cake. In the bag (and I’m not kidding) was a toy made for birds (a series of plastic balls with bells inside, tied together so you can hang them up in a cage), and a half-eaten cucumber.

I think that any further comment would be superfluous. But I really wonder what went through her head.

A real tantrum

Today our boy had what was probably his first real temper tantrum in public. Guess where and why?

We went to the bike store to get him a new bike helmet. He got a bike for Christmas and his old helmet is too small now. And it was boxing day, so we had to shop till we dropped. Well, ok, we only went to that one shop which is across the street from home. The trouble was when it was time to leave. Our son would have none of it. Bikes are his life and he only had time to go around the store once! He broke into a full-blown tantrum.

I wonder if they see that often at the bike store. At Toys R Us, yeah, I suspect they do. But the bike store?

Personally, I love what it tells about him!

Vancouver in the snow

Here are a few photos of Vancouver in the last few days, a city that usually doesn’t get more than one or two centimeters of snow that barely sticks, and this time got a ton more that stayed for two weeks! I always thought that there is nothing more beautiful than the beach covered in snow. Thanks to Zak for the photos!

Vancouver in the snowVancouver in the snowVancouver in the snowVancouver in the snow

Snow falling in the dark…

I was walking on the street a few days ago, it was dark and I raised my head to see the white snow falling down against the blackness of the sky. It brought back memories from 20 years ago.

When I was about 10, I was a speek-skater. I would train 3 days a week: Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. Two days inside, in the rink, and one day outside, on the oval. Most speed-skaters are faster on the oval and like it better. There are less turns outside (proportionally for the same distance, as for, say, 400 m you will go around the oval once outside, but 4 times inside). But I was skinny, and what I lacked in strength, I made up for in technical skills. I was better than most at staying close to the blocks in the turns. Outside, there was less technical skill required, so I was at a disadvantage.

And there was the temperature and the wind. In Quebec City, in the winter, we were often freezing, and I get cold easily. So my skating sessions outside were not my favorite, even if Mom would often buy me a lollipop afterward. But there were a few magical moments. There were the medals, of course, and my short trips on the podium. But some moments were simpler and yet they are etched deeper in my memory.

Like the snowfalls. Some evenings, skating outside, I would finish a practice race, short of breath, happy to stand up after crouching down for 400, 800 or 1000 meters. And then, my hands on my hips, trying to catch my breath, I would look up at the sky. And see the white snow fall against the black backdrop of the sky. The snow falling on my head. And that made up for some of the pain.

Merry F@*#&ing Christmas

So tonight was our big Christmas dinner in North Vancouver, at some friends’ house. We were bringing salad ans bread. Zak’s parents were taking desert. We were going in separate cars as we didn’t all fit in one. Our hosts were providing turkey, gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes.

We got to our car from the Car Co-op, installed our car seat, dug the car up from the snow, got ready to leave, turned the key in the ignition… Click. Click. Click. Nothing.

I called the Co-op (thank God for cell phones) and yes, they did have someone working on Christmas night. After trying a few things, they found us another car. We left with all of our stuff to walk a few blocks to another car, all the while wondering why the person who had booked the same Co-op car before us and had written in the booklet “car didn’t start” hadn’t warned the Co-op, who then would have warned us… At least that’s what we thought.

We got to the next car with wet feet from walking in the snow (we didn’t wear boots, we were going just one block away). We installed the car seat, dug the car up from the snow, took a call from Zak’s parents who were wondering where we were, strapped the baby in, got ready to leave, turned the key in the ignition… Click. Click. Click.

- You gotta be kidding!

We called the Co-op again. It took about 15 minutes to get someone on the line – I guess they are busy with all those cars failing! They just installed a new system with a fob that will have to be used to allow the car to start. We have our fob. It has worked in the past. Everything should work. The fob is  not even mandatory yet: the new system starts on January 3d. But there must be something wrong with the electrical system. The cold weather maybe?

The lady on the phone was apologetic and offered to find me a new car. At that point, though, it was almost 7, we were supposed to be at our hosts’ house at 6. Our son normally goes to bed at 6:30.  We were hoping to come back home around 8:30 or 9 at the latest. We decided to just go home. We ate leftovers from the freezer and bread. We had salad, but the dressing was in the other car, so we munched on a few bits of plain lettuce. What a feast on Christmas day!

The worse thing is, the lady who talked to me the second time could see that there was a note in the system saying that this car hadn’t started for another member earlier today. Why did the first lady not see that before she sent us there? Oh, wait, there’s better: the second lady said: “So would you like me to cancel your booking, then, and put a note in your file explaining what happened so that maybe they can cancel your charges for tonight when they review it?”

No, thanks, we’d love to pay for that car.

Turns out the first lady didn’t cancel our booking properly. So if things don’t get sorted out (but don’t worry, they will, count on me!) we would be paying double for the first booking since they charge double for a “no show”, plus paying for the second booking as it was canceled after it was started.  And as of tonight, the cars are still available for booking, so there could be other people having the same bad surprise as we had tonight.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the Car Co-op, I think it’s a wonderful idea and we couldn’t live without it. But tonight, when we walked past it, if the Toyota dealership had been open, I think we would have walked right in.

Now it’s 8:41 and I’m seriously thinking of going to bed. Because of course our boy will wake up at 5 tomorrow, like he has all week. I’m exhausted.

Good night!

P.S. I realize that things are not that bad. Everyone is alive and well, we have a roof over our heads and food in our stomach (although I do hope Zak’s parents bring us back a piece of cheesecake). We just missed a party, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not quite as bitter as I sound. I just needed to get this off my chest.

Merry Christmas

… And a big thanks to Skype!

Last night, I was able to talk on camera with most of my immediate family in Quebec City. Elliot even opened his grandma’s present in front of her, and I opened the present my sister sent me. Then later on, my cousin (who I’m very close to) managed to install the Webcam that we bought her family for Christmas, so we were able to have a chat with them too. And this morning we talked to my best friend in Quebec, I called my aunt’s phone line with Skype… All that for (almost) free.

We are enjoying a nice, quiet day for Christmas. Elliot is napping after playing with his bike until he couldn’t stand straight anymore, and the adults are gorging and preparing more awesome food to gorge on. Good old Christmas fun!

Here are three photos: our son with his wrapped present (which has been his favorite toy ever since it came out of the closet), then halfway through unwrapping it, then unwrapped and ready to go.

Wrapped presentChristmas present

Christmas present

23 décembre…

Un collègue jase avec moi dans mon bureau. Je regarde le calendrier. Tiens, c’est le 23 décembre. J’entonne le refrain de la célèbre chanson de Beau Dommage: “23 décembre, Joyeux Noël! Monsieur Côté, Salut Ti-cul, on se reverra le 7 janvier”. Mon collègue rit, puis devant mon air décontenancé s’exclame: “C’est une vraie chanson?”

Ben oui! J’ai été un peu étonnée qu’un bon Québécois de souche ne connaisse pas ce classique de Noël, mais après tout, on n’a pas tous les mêmes références culturelles. Reste que cette conversation m’a laissée mélancolique. Demain, c’est le Réveillon. Je le passe habituellement ici, alors ce n’est pas trop grave. Mais cette fois-ci, contrairement à mon habitude des dernières années, je sais que je ne m’envolerai pas le 26 pour aller rejoindre ma famille élargie (mon peuple… ma culture…) au Québec. Je m’ennuie d’avance. J’ai le spleen. Je voudrais tant entendre mon frère jouer 23 décembre à la guitare!

Il me reste Skype… En espérant que ma famille m’appelle. Je me demande si je pourrais soudoyer mon frère pour qu’il me joue 23 décembre à la caméra?

Allez frérot, ce n’est pas pour moi, fais-le pour mon fils! Juste une fois, s’il te plaît! Pour m’aider à oublier les 5148 km qui nous séparent (selon Google Maps)…

Joyeux Noël!