Ouf Ouf Sled Ride

These are from a couple of weeks ago – the most glorious day of the winter so far, spent with a great friend, Rebecca, and her son Theo. Rebecca and I met in prenatal yoga class and have shared many moments of early-motherhood angst – so it was nice to have our sons so… well… civilized for a change.

Look at them “conversing”:

Our main goal for the day was to ride on dog sleds, which we did. The dogs were just this side of wild, and some of them had eerie ice-blue eyes – which impressed me, though I’m not entirely sure why. Some of the huskies kept leaping off the ground in their harnesses, eager to move forward yet obedient to their tasks. One plunged into a snowbank to have a bath (or so it seemed). Here they are looking fairly sedate:

Days like this make me love winter. I love this picture of Owen:

This one, too, though it’s pretty much what he looks like every day:

xo Anna

A Monkey on a Dinosaur

When Owen was quite small, he had some pajamas that featured a monkey riding a dinosaur. These pajamas initially struck us as cute, but later on we wondered what the designers had been thinking. Were they making a political statement? Were they suggesting that monkeys and dinosaurs roamed the earth together? We referred to them as his creationist pajamas, and were kind of sad when he grew out of them.

This past weekend we went to our village’s winter carnival, part two. Part one involved sled dogs at Morgan Arboretum and in some days was more glorious (the day was perfect and the setting so majestic). Owen, Duncan and I headed out after lunch, thinking that if it was not going to be any fun, we’d just go home. Initially, it seemed like there was nothing for us to do. There were hockey tournaments, blow up castles, and skating – none of which we could really do with a toddler. We meandered over to the sign that proposed free hot chocolate, and I bought Owen his first taste of maple taffy. Then we noticed a table covered in garden tools and spray bottles of coloured water. It turned out that we could claim a block of ice for ourselves and carve it into whatever shape we chose…

We dragged Owen and his taffy over to an appropriate block and threw him in a snowbank so we could get to work. A colleague of mine claims that almost every story I tell of Owen lately involves me first throwing in the snowbank. To be fair, Owen loves being thrown in snowbanks (literally) but I do not actually THROW him in snowbanks on a daily basis. In this case, we (literally) sat him down in the snow so we could work our artistic magic and he could finish his candy.

Most of the people around us were spraying their names onto the blocks of ice. One family had made a tunnel. The week before, the projects had been more ambitous: there had been a little snowy owl, a heart-shaped bench, and an (amazing) octopus fighting a snowman. Duncan and I were ambitious. First I proposed our family. Too ambitious. Then we thought a snowman. Too boring. Then I proposed a dinosaur, because dinosaur is one of Owen’s new words, and I figured he’d like it if he could say what we were making: “Disoh!”

One of the corners already kind of looked like a dinosaur’s head, so we started to whittle away at the ice. As soon as we started, we realized how much more difficult it was going to be than we imagined. I still have bruises on my hands from smashing my trowel into the snow, only to find that it hid ice. We had also left the house wearing jeans and impractical clothing in general, so we got colder and wetter as the afternoon wore on. When Owen finished his taffy, we gave him one of the garden tools and asked him to poke holes in it (as a way to occupy him) because by this point, frankly, the carnival was about us, not about him. He played for a bit, and then some 80s tunes came over the sound system and he started dancing. He was having a good time. Duncan and I took breaks occasionally to dance with him.

Eventually, we decided to abandon one side of our beast, because we did not want to be there all day. We were cold, and worried that Owen might get cold too (though he was toasty because dressed appropriately in a snowsuit.)

We finished our creation and placed our own monkey on top (sorry for the quality of the images, but all I had to record the moment was my cell phone):

And just before we left, we gave our dinosaur some rosy cheeks (fortunately sent by a friend who had a real camera):

Isn’t he cute?

First Snowman

On Saturday, Owen and I went outside to play in the snowy backyard. Our venture wasn’t totally successful. I tried to interest Owen in snowballs and accidentally threw one (a soft one) in his face. He was surprised, but didn’t cry. He kind of liked it when I threw them at his feet. The snow was almost sticky enough to make a snowman, so with some effort, I rolled a big ball of snow into position and made Owen stand and pat it with his mittens. He was tired, so once he fell over he made little effort to stand back up and sat staring at my attempts to make not-very-sticky snow bind together. Eventually, we had a smallish snowman. I ran into the house to get a carrot and some grapes, knowing that it would be the face that would transform this activity from boring and cold to awesome and magical. Initially, Owen was more interested in eating the grapes than helping me make the face (Note: icy cold grapes are really delicious and should be consumed outdoors more often). Once the face was complete, though, Owen understood (I think) what we were doing out there.

That night, we waved goodbye to the snowman from Owen’s bedroom window, and the next day, whenever we encountered a snowman in a book, Owen would point at the picture and then gesture outside, as if to say: we too have a snowman. It started to snow again on Sunday morning, and that snow turned to rain by evening. By morning, our snowman’s head had fallen off. I thought Owen might be troubled by this development. After all, he hasn’t seen the cartoon about Frosty the Snowman and how he’ll be back again someday.

This morning, encountering another snowman in a book, Owen got off my lap and trotted into the kitchen, pointing toward the back yard. I lifted him up to show him the decapitated snowman.

“He’s there, but he lost his head,” I said.

“Uh oh,” he replied. “Bye bye.”

Indeed.