The Jasper Chronicles

The Journal of a Cynical Dad

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Crappy Evening Made Perfect

Last night The Boy was a total asshole. Unintentionally I hope, but an asshole nevertheless. On Saturday he caught a cold from his pal Louis and yesterday it manifested itself into the form of a pissy-faced, cranky, clingy baby. The switch from Daylight Savings Time back to Pacific Standard Time didn't help either.

It was a long night dealing with a baby who was hungry but refused to eat, got frustrated easily and cried when one of us walked away. P and I never snapped at him, he's way to young to understand, but I have to admit deep down I wanted yell, "What is it? What the hell do you want?!?" Even though I would never actually say those things, these aren't the type of thoughts a "perfect" father is supposed to have, but I'm far from perfect. Anyway we just rode it out and did our best to change his mood.

After a full evening of this just I'm counting the minutes till he goes to bed. Then all of a sudden he walks up, looks me in the eye and utters "Da Da". Before this moment The Boy has never referred to me as anything other than "eh". I don't think my mood has ever changed so fast. Amazing how two simple words can erase an entire shitty evening.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I Have No Secrets Left.

The Boy loves to open and close doors, it's like an interactive game of peek-a-boo. He waddles up to a door, pops it open, sees you, squeals, then tears off down the hall. We usually add to the excitement by asking him "Where's Mom?" or "Where's Dad?". Well I'll tell you where Dad was this morning, naked on the toilet of our on-suite brushing his teeth.

Ordinarily if The Boy sees me naked I wouldn't bat an eyelash; he's seen it before and he's got a lifetime of locker room showers ahead of him, so he might as well get used to seeing men naked. The difference this morning was that my Mom was standing behind him when he pushed open the door.


I've never taken any military training before, but I managed to execute a tidy "drop and roll" to the door and shut it.

A similar thing happened a few months back involving my mother in-law. Fortunately her vision is poor, so she only got a hazy view of my naked butt. My mother's vision on the other hand is pretty good so I'm sure she... ah, I'm mortified.

My mother in-law, now my mother. I might as well trounce around nude for the rest of the family and get it over with.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Goodbye Orange Friend

It's a sad day at Chez Daddy L. After using eight of her nine lives surviving kidney disease, Septicemia and Meningitis two years ago, our cat of 13 years, Orange Cat, has succumb to cancer. The day she strolled in our backdoor, hissed at us and wouldn't leave we knew we had ourselves a special cat. She had a way of charming the pants off of you while secretly taking a shit in your dresser. Orange Cat had more personality wrapped in her furry torso than most of the people I know (which either means she is very special, or I have to meet more people. I like to think the former). Clever, sensitive and loving she was adored by everyone who was lucky enough to meet her, including The Boy.

While he'll never remember her, we'd like to think Orange Cat affected him in some way. She accepted The Boy as part of the family quickly, and tolerated his tail-pulling, slapping, fur-grabbing with purrs mostly. And as she did with all of us, whenever he was really upset she'd come by to cheer him up.

I could eulogize OC for days, but I think it's easiest to say: We can always get ourselves another orange cat, but there will only ever be one Orange Cat.

Goodbye Orange Cat. We miss you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rebirth of Central Park

When we first moved to our new neighbourhood I was surprised how there were no toddler-friendly playgrounds nearby. Lots of green-spaces, but none with the sand, swings and slides The Boy loves to play on. The closest is Central Park, a 10-minute drive from our house, but even the Central Park playground was a bit too old for him; the knobs, wheels, swings and slides were all just out of his reach. We sucked it up though because it was either there or nothing. Then the parks board decided to construct an infant playground, and last week The Boy and I got a chance to play there.

It was perfect, everything was his height and there was lots of sand around for him to play in (and to my dismay - lots of sand to eat too). He had a hoot there, running from swing to slide to sand pit to swing. We're definately coming again.

Another reason I like going to parks with The Boy is a chance to meet other parents in the area. In our old neighbourhood it was a great way to socialize, meet new people and exchange stories. Central Park is a pretty popular, so there were lots of other parents around. A perfect chance for me to meet some of the other parents in our new neighbourhood.

No one spoke to me.

The other Asian parents aren't all that friendly to strangers it would appear, and the English-speaking parents must have thought I was one of the anti-social Asian parents, so they ignored me too. I guess it didn't help that I spoke to The Boy mostly in Chinese, further perpetuating the "I no speaky Engrish" image.

Asian parents keeping to themselves I can relate to. If they were raised anything like I was they don't talk to strangers because:

  1. Strangers will kidnap your kids.
  2. Strangers will follow you home, break into your house, steal your valuables, and kidnap your kids.
  3. Strangers will poison your food, then kidnap your kids.
  4. Any combination of the above.

Yeah, my Mom and Dad were a bit over protective. I was terrified of strangers growing up.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weaning Update

It's going better than we expected. P and I were bracing ourselves for weeks of tantrums and sadness, but after just seven days he's almost weaned. There have been challenging times, like the two hour cry-fest on Tuesday, but overall The Boy is beginning to forget P ever had boobs to begin with.

I have to admit I find weaning a heartbreaking process, especially early on. He looked so unloved and sad, we were tempted to just give in. And when he finally did take a sippy cup, it was like his spirit had been broken. Poor little guy.

But our perseverance has paid off. Yesterday morning he drank from his cup, ate his breakfast and then happily played all day. He still roots around P's chest from time to time, except now he can be more easily distracted.

A sidebar to the weaning process is an emerging battle between a brown teddy bear P and I call Rufus, and stuffed Panda Bear I named Gong Li. Looking for some alternative comfort during this tough process The Boy is leaning on the bears for support. I'm rooting for Gong Li to win his love (the de facto teddy bear of all Chinese babies), but it looks like he prefers hanging with Rufus. He already looks more Caucasian than Chinese, I guess this part of his Asian roots are not going to emerge either.

Come on boy, love the Panda. Do it for your Dad.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Boob Junkie

We knew this day would eventually come, the day P and I begin to wean The Boy off the boob. When I heard Dread Pirate Robert's son Milo more or less weaned himself, I got my hopes up The Boy would do the same. One day he'd wake up and say, "Enough of the boob! It is time I became a man! Pass me that sippy cup! And while you're at it, Zincofax my ass!"

But as the days drew closer to his first birthday there was no signs of him letting up, and now two months later and he's still rooting around P's chest. Self-weaning is not going to happen.

I've never thought it possible for anyone to be addicted to breast milk, but the way The Boy is acting we might as well be weaning him off crack. Even with a drug addict though, you can at least explain what you're doing to them. As far as The Boy is concerned, P's just stopped loving him. He's going through total withdrawal - loss of appetite, irritable mood swings and crying, lots of crying. Nothing will console him - food, games, toys, books, car rides, walks - he's upset and letting us know it.

Eventually P caves and gives The Boy what he's been jonesing for all day, a good long drink from her breast. Suddenly his mood brightens, he's smiling again and ready to play. Is there a methadone equivalent for breast milk? If there is, sign us up for a case.

The story of Job is of a man who is suddenly prostrated by a succession of calamities. He remains steadfast throughout and is rewarded for his perseverance. "The Patience of Job" became a saying referring to someone who is very patient.

Did Job ever have to wean a baby? Not that I'm comparing ourselves to him necessarily, but The Boy is stretching our patience to the limit at the moment. It's been a long, long weekend.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bonjour du Québec Pt. Cinq

Some pictures of our trip...

Looking street tough in his toque. Too bad the
zooming Red Car ruins the look.

Enjoying a cup in Quebec City.

My friend's daughter loved playing with The Boy,
and he loved playing with her. She referred to him
as Mon Bebe (My Baby) and asked her Dad if she
could purchase one of her own. Sorry Marie, he's
not for sale.

Our hike started off well...

... but it didn't last long.

He preferred the cool comfort of the
parking lot instead.

Burning off some energy in Trois-Rivières.

Hanging out on Parliament Hill.

Happy to be home.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bonjour du Québec Pt. Quatre

Mauricie National Park(ing lot).

After a few relaxing days staying with our friends in Quebec City, we packed up the car and headed down towards Montreal. Along the way our friends suggested we stop at Le Mauricie National Park to take in the Autumn colours and do a bit of easy hiking. Sounded like a plan. Out west we don't get the brilliant orange and red Autumn colours, so it was a chance to experience them close up.

The park was located about 2 hours west of Quebec City, The Boy slept most of the way there and woke up just as we pulled into the park. Good timing. He's usually in a great mood after a nap so this should be a fun excursion. We pulled in, got his lunch together, plunked him into the stroller and off we went.

He started whining almost right away. A couple hours in a car seat would do that to anyone, so we let him walk the trail with us. We got halfway across the first bridge when he started up again. Maybe he's hungry so we turned back to the picnic area for lunch. Then his toque fell over his eyes, the bugs started biting and he lost it.

We've had more successful lunches I can tell you that. We managed to get a few spoons into him but it wasn't happening, so back to the car we went.

The three of us spend the next hour in the parking lot, communing with the asphalt and car tires. The Boy had a great time, gathering pine cones and burning off some steam, he even finished his lunch. P and I have had better hikes, but at least the parking lot was surrounded by trees. It's like getting The Boy a fancy gift and watching him play with the box; no matter how beautiful the park was, the parking lot was the place for him.

Finally after The Boy burned off some energy we headed down to Trois-Rivières for an early dinner. Monday night in Trois-Rivières, if the place had tumbleweeds they'd be out in force. You could fire a cannon through the downtown core and not hit anyone. Needless to say, finding a place to eat was going to be a challenge.

After some wandering we managed to find a little Italian restaurant that was open and empty; win-win. P and I were hungry and we could let The Boy have the run of the place. Our waitress was super-sweet, despite her poor English and our poor French. The cook on the other hand snarled at us (we're the only paying customers in your establishment buddy, could your attitude be the reason why?). Maybe he didn't like Anglophones, maybe he didn't like Asians, either way we were now suspect about eating here.

"He might spit in our food, or worse." say P.

Worse than spit? You don't mean...

When the food finally arrived we were hesitant, but it was fantastic! "He must have spiced it with hate." Well, I'll take that over spit any day.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bonjour du Québec Pt. Trois

Okay, so we're techinically in Ontario...

We've arrived in Ottawa last night, the final stop on our little holiday before returning home. When arriving BTB (before The Boy) we'd usually check-in to our hotel, freshen up a bit then head out to some place cool for a late meal and a few drinks.

Of course now it's ATB (after The Boy), so this time we check-in, freshen up a bit, then head to the near-by liquor store and supermarket for take-out "Heat 'N Serve" entrees and a bottle of wine. Microwave food, wine in plastic cups and reruns of "Rich Bride, Poor Bride" on TV, oh how our travel habits have changed.

Oh before continuing, one piece of advice to future brides: When picking out your wedding dress, whatever you do, do NOT get a dress that makes your arms look like cuts of meat. The bride we watched on the show last night spent over $10,000 on a dress that made her biceps looked like two hams.

Anyways, despite getting out of our hotel later, coming back earlier, rarely eating a meal together and devoting large chunks of the day to The Boy it's been a great trip. Oh sure we didn't get to visit all the attractions we wanted to, or eat at all the recommended restaurants, or leisurely stroll all the galleries we wanted to, but The Boy was what made this trip so great.

Exasperating at times, exhausting at others, travelling with an active infant can be challenging. But watching him dance to acid-jazz in a tucked-away bistro, chasing birds on Parliament Hill or burning off energy at the Canadian Children's Museum (if you ever visit Ottawa with young kids, this stop is a must!) he brought huge smiles to our faces.

Thanks son, you've made this trip one of the best ones ever.

(Once we get back home, more trip reports to follow, some with pictures. Stay tuned.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bonjour du Québec Pt. Deux

We're in the old downtown area of Quebec City on the hunt for a toque (that's a wool cap to you Americans). We packed for our trip amongst the warm fall temperatures of the West Coast. Out in Eastern Canada it's starting to get freaking cold and The Boy's poor little head is all exposed.

The old downtown area is a huge tourist draw, so the place is full of souvenir shops. Toque-O-Rama right? Wrong! Surprisingly a toque is really hard to find here. We resided to find one that had some sort of kitschy tourist phrase on it - as long as The Boy's head was warm, anything would do, but even those were no where to be found.

Eventually we found one in the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac of all places. I was choked that we were shopping in the most expensive hotel in the whole city, not exactly the sort of a place you would expect to find lot of good deals. But in the end, after I got over the price, I must admit the toque P picked out is super cute. Makes The Boy look sort of street tough, if not for the little red car stitched into the front.

Lesson to be learned here is, don't visit Quebec City in the winter unless you pack your own hat, because you won't find one for sale anywhere. Interestingly, there is a predominance of chug-a-lug beer drinking helmets for sale here, some even proudly emblazoned with QUEBEC along the rim. I guess if you're the type of person to travel all the way to Quebec just to pound back the brewskies, you need to be reminded of where you visited.

P and I did consider buying The Boy a drinking helmet. Maybe we could stick a sippy-cup on each side and speed up his meals; still wouldn't keep his head warm though.