Saturday, April 25, 2009

Carter And Nathaniel: The Musical

The original plan to idle away the day at Sherway Gardens got nixed thanks to the ill-timed closure of the Don Valley Parkway this weekend, which none-too-surprisingly spawned outrageous traffic congestion on just about every straight stretch of road inside the GTA (and likely, beyond...). We were only about a block from the house when the radio news break advised avoiding the highways unless absolutely necessary, so we turned around and took advantage of the balmy temps to tour the boys along Queen West to some more of our favorite haunts.

First stop was an open house on Tecumseth. Lidia inspected the very nice townhouse that offered just the right amount of extra room we've anticipated needing sooner-than-later, but the $675,000 price tag convinced us to keep investing in more Rubbermaid containers. The sales agent admired my "Where The Wild Things Are" t-shirt, but such easy flattery didn't convince me to make an offer.

The Fashion District was jam-packed with the usual cell phone zombies and designer-shoe addicts but our Snap-And-Go cleared us a path better than a cow catcher.

The boys attracted a steady stream of admirers and well-wishers, some of whom came right up the chat, others who were content to crane their necks and coo. We met up with a couple from our Mt. Sinai Multiples class, who introduced us to their own twin youngsters, who were now about Carter and Nathaniel's age.

But the perfect climax to the afternoon's adventure occurred across from The Silver Snail comics shop. The stage and curtain were new and improved, but back for another season were the same puppet songsmiths who improvised a very sweet song for our twins last fall.

Hound Dog still sounded a bit like Noel Coward, and his partner--a bizarre snake-necked thing--still reminded me of the murderous idol that chased Karen Black around her apartment in "Trilogy Of Terror".

Here, for your listening pleasure: a musical ode to Carter and Nathaniel...(and, I assured the puppets, Carter's tears are tears of joy...)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Boyz N' The Hood

Today we decided to do lunch a bit differently to celebrate the end of a hectic week and take the boys out for some sun while Lidia and I seized the long-overdue opportunity to stuff ourselves silly with the fine fare offered by the infamous Chippy's Fish And Chips (just a few doors down from our vets).

Chippy's ain't anywhere near cheap (lunch for two will set you back nearly 30 bucks with tax and drinks), but you get your money's worth, and the menu offers several types of fish (I went for the halibut), prawns, and large scallops to keep you coming back. And their fries are probably the best in the city (I suggest trying them with just a touch of garlic mayo...)--the closest my refined palate has encountered that compare favourably to the fry trucks in my hometown.

Chippy's has just two stools at the window for seating, so obviously, we had to find ourselves a new location to chow down. Luckily, right across the street is Trinity-Bellwoods Park, so we found a picnic table near the terrific (and for Toronto, surprisingly well-maintained) playground that I'm sure one day will become the boys' second home.

Of course, this much-needed relief from my hectic workplace made it all that more difficult to want to return to the indignities of live television, so we decided to extend my break just a little bit longer so we could introduce Carter and Nathaniel to some of the neighbourhood regulars.

Along the way, I met two of my coworkers, Ken and Stu, whose collective gushing failed to rouse the guys from their rather epic slumber...

We passed the school on our corner just as a group of kids came back from what appeared to be an art camp. Some pretty nice drawings in tow, but I think I can teach the boys to do better...we'll see...

The first visit was pop-in to Capelli Colori to see Bernardo and his assistant, who have been cutting Lidia's hair for a few years now and have just recently taken me on as a client. We assured them that once the boys do, in fact, start sprouting copious quantities of hair, his salon will be our first and only destination.

After that, it was a quick scan of the patio of The Foggy Dew, but again, none of our usual wait staff appeared to be on duty. Some other time...

Next up, Top Convenience, where the very nice lady who runs the place with her husband (I've shopped there regularly for nearly nine years and have no idea what her name is...) has been asking about the boys for months...she was overjoyed to meet them--imagine how she would've reacted had they been awake!

Eventually, I broke down and realized I had to get back into the whole responsible parent/breadwinner jive and limped back to my crappy workstation and outdated software, taking some comfort in the fact that one day, the boys will probably regard what I do as something pretty cool...I guess it has its moments...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nathaniel's Adoring Public

This past week was all about Nathaniel, with a steady stream of visitors coming by to offer advice and monitor his progress.

On Monday, Roseanna worked with us on applications for a variety of government programs and deductions that he could benefit from in the future. All this financial razmataz is enough to make one's head explode, so we dutifully signed on the appropriate dotted lines and will let bureaucracy take it inevitable course...

Tuesday, Kathy returned to work on fine skills, and found Nathaniel to be in a bit of a cranky mood, but it was nothing personal against her--he'd been interrupted from his afternoon nap (we can all relate, I'm sure...).

Wednesday, Amanda put him through his paces on gross motor skills, and prescribed a few new exercises. By Thursday, he was exhausted (and so were we).

I won't waste time with needless minutia--the short version is: everyone agrees he's doing great! His head control, hand/eye coordination, ability to turn himself around from back to front, grasping of objects with both hands, response to communication, and above all, infectious laugh--are exactly where they should be, and even more advanced than expected for such a young age.

Of course, Carter offered his critique from the sidelines...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pub Crawl

I was never one to hang out in bars much--why pay good money to be surrounded by people I'd otherwise go out of my way to avoid?--but becoming hooked on NTN Trivia in the 90s changed my mind. And just across King Street, not far from us, is the excellent pub/restaurant The Foggy Dew, which was our regular hangout most Friday nights (and random weeknights and weekends here and there) since it took over the notorious "cursed location" about five years ago. "Was", that is, until December...and you can pretty much figure out why.

Now that the weather's become tolerable and the patio furniture is out, we wasted no time in introducing the boys to our favorite haunts. After our stroll down to the Lakeshore on Saturday, we decided to pull over into the 'Dew for an earlier dinner and a chance to show off our dynamic duo. Unfortunately, none of our regular wait staff were on duty that day, but the boys attracted admirers and were generally in good spirits until our food came (no small miracle, after being informed that the kitchen was out of just about everything on the menu--including potatoes! Potatoes?!) and they decided they'd rather dine first...our survival kit just happened to have two bottles handy.

After we wolfed down our grub, the boys decided they'd had enough of Gordon Lightfoot and demanded to get back home. It's a rare family-friendly place--the kind that provides high chairs to those who need 'em--so we plan to be back again and again. Who knows?--the boys could one day be so sick of pubs that by the time they reach the age where I have to start worrying about them hanging out in such joints, they won't be the least bit interested. That's me--always thinking ahead...

Happy Wanderers Pt. 2

The boys don't know it yet, but they live in what the brochures call The Gallery District, which right next to The Fashion District, in what used to be one of the seediest districts in town (if you'd told me when I was in university that one day I'd be living west of Queen, I'd have assumed it meant I'd finally hit rock bottom as a skid row bum). But in the nearly nine years since we'd first set up our modest little domicile here, the King and Bathurst area has become the society page's ground zero for trendy clubs, haute cuisine restaurants, tony clothing stores, and bloated condo development. Now, if only a person could get a decent bagel...

With the weather having changed into something tolerable and vaguely seasonable, we decided it'd be better if everyone got their Vitamin D from the sun and not out of a pill or a dropper. Lidia took Nathaniel and Carter to the drop-in centre hosted by the public school just seconds from our door, where toddlers ran free with the reckless abandon of Tokyo extras from an old "Godzilla" film, but babies were certainly welcome (I saw a box of "Batman Lego" in the window, so it already has won my approval).

Friday, during my lunch break, we took the boys on a stroll to the local TD Bank branch (ordinarily, "big whoop", but our tax returns had arrived that day, and not a moment too soon), and then once around Trinity Bellwoods Park, which offers a pool, several playgrounds, art camps, and above all, enough open space to make us forget that in actuality, what our home offers by way of a "yard" is about the size of a bath mat.

Saturday's glorious temps inspired a more ambitious afternoon trip--a mighty haul to Lakeshore to check out the marina and the park. The boys slept through most of it, of course, but I'm sure they soaked up the ambience of seagulls, barking dogs, and the bells of annoying cyclists.

Huddled in their car seats, they're still capable charming strangers wherever they go--while we were waiting at the (insanely-long) stop light at the foot of Strachan and Lakeshore, the driver of a car (with Connecticut plates) called out to us from her window, telling us that we were so lucky and asking if they were boys or girls and their ages. So a note to bums to usually beg for change at this intersection : you want people to roll down their windows? Strap on a toddler...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Fun

Nothing like a visit from-and-to the relatives to get those little fists and feet pumping...Grandma and Grandpa's trip into the city (along with their always-welcome aunt and cousins) on Saturday gave the boys a chance to model their snazzy new attire and entertain everyone with their slowly-expanding vocabulary ("goo goo/ga ga" was sooooo last month).

Of course, we were sad that Nanny couldn't come--she's still recovering and such a long trip away from the hospital just didn't seem like a wise idea this time around. But we're confident the boys will eventually meet her on the May long weekend--and if not, we'll be making a few trips to the Ottawa Valley this summer (still studying the best route to accomodate frequent stops)...

The next day marked their first road trip to Bowmanville to meet their Uncle Steve and his family, as well as yet another feline friend: Mooch, who seemed as baffled by their presences as our own cats. We weren't pleased to find out that the damned Baby Trend stroller still wouldn't fit in the trunk, given the size of the new Civic, so we had to leave it behind. No matter--it was a chilly day and there was plenty to do inside, and since their aunt and cousins live in a house about ten times the size of ours, semi-regular weekend visits might be just the thing, especially when they surpass the crawling stage...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Minnie!

Hard to believe that Minnie turned 10 years old today--it doesn't seem all that along ago that we went out to a (former) coworker's home east of the city to select a little sister for Molly (who'd just moved in) and fell for the standoffish grey fur ball playing by herself in the corner. Everything about her is completely unique, including her breed: diluted tortie (tortoiseshell) tabby!

To celebrate the big day, I surprised her with one of her favorite toys from her kittenhood: the staff of "Chancellor Valorum" from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace". When Minnie first came home in April of 1999, she decided to help herself to my collection of figures from the then-new film, and this tiny piece of plastic from a completely forgettable character kept her entertained for hours.

Well, a decade later, I was thrilled to find out it had the exact same effect. Weeks earlier I'd happened upon the figure in a remainder bin at the local comics shop, and picked it up hoping Minnie would go nutty when I opened it, and she did!

I'm thinking of writing a letter to George Lucas, who knows? Maybe he'll send me a case...(I'm confident he's got a vault full, somewhere...)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shop 'Til You Drop

Today, we packed up the Mazda and took the boys out for a leisurely afternoon at Fairview Mall, after weather delayed last weekend's plans--the boys didn't exactly take to the idea right away (see photo), but eventually came around....

Fairview is just east of the city, and recently refurbished, offers a variety of shops and is far less busy than Yorkdale or (ulp!) The Eaton Center. Other than for a brief jaunt through the aforementioned Eaton Centre while the boys were in St. Michael's Level 2 Nursery, it was my first visit to a shopping centre since last December...

We had an ulterior motive for the trek--with the tax deadline approaching, neither Lidia or I possessed the expertise or desire to plod through the necessary paperwork on our own, and with our boys now a factor in our lifestyles and incomes, we ponied up the cash and sought out the services of experts. The Bay housed an H&R Block outlet, and in under an hour, we got it all sorted out. The boys were with us, alert and breaking hearts, but not enough to convince our assigned accountant to work out a few extra bucks in our favour...try harder next year, boys!

Carter and Nathaniel slept for the bulk of the stroll, but still, passersby stopped to stare and by the time we'd finished the first of two levels I'd perfected my prefab comeback: yes, they're twins, Carter and Nathaniel, Carter's the oldest by two minutes ha-hah-ha, not identical but fraternal, just turned four months old!

At The Children's Place, we bought the boys some fancy new spring duds: denim pants, Vespa shirts, runners, and crocs!

We came up empty on scoring a CD player--seems like the compact disc has become as obsolete as the vinyl LP and cassette tapes. One particular Tiny Tykes model took MP3s directly from the computer, but it had only a 256MB hard drive that I thought was too puny. A nearby kiddie video camera shot only stills but it was also waterproof--for twenty bucks! The Sony camcorder in my hand ost nearly a grand and isn't even waterproof! We did locate a CD player at another toy store, but it was adorned in Hanna Montana logos and crap. So we passed it up--I would've accepted The Simpsons, Batman, Elmo, hell, even WWE--anything but Miley Cyrus!

The boys started to stir on level two so we parked in the newly refitted food court to give Nathaniel his bottle while Carter fell asleep. Once again, the admirers gathered...Nathaniel wooed them all with his bright blue eyes, ready-steady smile, and fashionable faux-hawk 'do (the dog ears on his hood didn't hurt, either). After Lidia and I wolfed down some Thai food for lunch, we decided we'd had it with the teeming masses of humanity and it was time to pack it in...

All in all, a busy weekend. I found a few spare hours to work on an animation for the upcoming Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards (to which I will contribute a portrait of this year's Hall Of Fame inductee--"X-Men" favorite "Wolverine"), and Lidia visited her mom. We've now taken possession of the car left to Lidia by her father--the car seats are now secured with new Latch system which means for me, some much-needed leg room in the driver's seat....

Friday, April 3, 2009

Four Months!!!

April 3rd is notorious for a great many 20th century landmarks--the U.S.S.R.'s 1987 nuclear test at Semipalitinsk, Eastern Kazakhstan, of course...Jane Byrne's election as first woman mayor of Chicago in 1979, obviously...and the Montreal Canadiens' victory over the Boston Bruins in the 1930 Stanley Cup (remember where you were?). All worthy choices to be sure, but to that list I'd like to add the 21st century landmark that Carter and Nathaniel have turned an incredible four--count 'em four--months old!

Don't worry neighbours--we'll try to keep the celebrating low-key and the noise to a minimum...