My dear readers (all 8 or so of you...) yes, yes, I have been negligent. I went to Qatar, and then I seemed to have left you for good. But I'm back. And with at least 5 great post ideas. But be patient with me. There is simply not enough TIME. Summer has been hot, hot, hot! And we've been out and about, enjoying it as much as possible.
So much has shifted and changed in my "mental space" this past bit ... that deep, dark, sometimes scary but always interesting place... and I'm really feeling the need to get documenting the journey more. We've also just been having a really fantastic summer, and I want to get all that down too. It can be hard to keep up with all the pictures!
This past week we had a friend from Japan stay with us. I met Rieko long, long ago, before I was yet an ESL instructor. She came to Canada about 12 years ago to study English in a 5-week program at Brock, and I was a "language monitor..." basically, a person paid to have a ridiculously amazing time doing crazy activities all over the Niagara region with a few hundred international folk. Definitely the funnest (yes, funnest) job I've ever had. Rieko and I have managed to stay in touch over the years. We met up when I lived in Japan from '97-98, and again when Jeff and I lived there from '04-06. And finally, she made her way back to St. Catharines, too.
I love that we've kept in touch.
Anyhow, we did our usual tour guide gig, showing her the sights around the region. Well, really showing her all the changes in the sights, since she had seen them all before. Of course, our standard tour guide routine did have to be slightly modified to accommodate our rather rambunctious two and a half year old. But Rieko didn't seem to mind.
On one particular day we found ourselves in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was SWELTERING. Yet another one of those days that makes me wonder if I could actually stand to live in hot, hot Qatar (but we'll save those thoughts for another time...) We had decided that our best plan of attack was to let Rieko wander all over old town to her heart's content while we lay low in the park, enjoying the shade of the trees and the wading pool. It was a Good Idea.
You may or may not know that Kaiya was actually a dolphin in a former life. We were unaware of this fact until we started bringing her into "Auntie Dagmar's" pool. By the third time in, she was so excited that we could barely hold on to her for all of her wriggling, shrieking, and flapping. One of her favourite lines in the pool is, "Don't hold on to me!" leading to a bemused Kathy and a slightly panicked Jeff. (Don't worry; she generally wears her water wings... although she sometimes requests them to be taken off as well...)
The first time I took her - without Jeff - to Dagmar's pool, she kept requesting to jump in again and again, first with me catching her, and then with all of us (Dagmar, Candice, Kaiya and me) standing in a line, holding hands. This was particularly funny because we never knew exactly when to jump, as Kaiya always counted us in. First it was "one, two, three" (jump), but by the end of the day, it was "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, nineteen, TEN!" (giggle, jump).
And by her fourth time in the pool, she was doing starfish floats (with very dramatically spread legs... very funny), dunking her head under the water, swimming to the side, and jumping off the diving board... repeatedly. So you could say we kind of had a sense she would enjoy the wading pool, especially since it meant freedom to swim, jump and play without the water wings.
She was a little slow to warm up, not sure what to do, and wanting me in with her, playing with her. But in the last half hour or so, the pool mostly cleared, and she found a friend, a goofy kindred spirit who had jumped into the pool, dress and all. And they hammed it up big time. Jumping forward and backward, under the water, plugging their noses and dunking their heads. All the while thoroughly eating up the laughter and attention of all the adults sitting on the sidelines dipping their feet. At one point, an appreciative bystander leaned towards me and said:
"You know, you really should be charging admission."
My daughter, the ham.
Witness her antics:
The great scrunchy face she made in preparation for going under water.
Together with her like-minded friend (whose father eventually had to get in the pool and get wet in order to extract her from it).
"Dude. This rocks!" Looking a bit water-logged. We had to keep reminding her to take her time and remember to breath a little.
One of her forward dives.
Not sure what this was all about, but she did it a lot. And for a long time. To the point where we wondered if we should pull her up. But she was standing on her own two feet, for goodness sake!
A great splash backwards. Clearly she has no problems with getting her head wet.
"I have conquered this measly little pool!!!" Doesn't the look (and her belly) say it all?
Enjoying food with Rieko, once we managed to coax our little dolphin out.