Sunday, May 30, 2010

The two-oh-eight!

Once upon a time this was a ‘travel blog’ full of new cultural experiences and distant adventures.  Kate and I grew up in a friendly part of the world they call ‘Southwestern Ontario’.  Our family and friends are, for most part, still there.  This ‘Brizzy Days’ thing was me sharing the Aussie experience.  It has also doubled as a journal; a rough record of adventures that will be fun to recall.  Our adventures are lately just one big ‘adventure’ (or 'little' adventure if you go by weight.)  But today I jump off the Wallace bandwagon for a bit.  The little man is adorable as ever but this will be a pre-Wally style post.  You see, Wally may be a little Aussie but he won’t remember Brisbane.  Nope. Instead, it appears like my son will grow up in a tiny little American college town called Moscow, Idaho.   As of August, you can call us: ‘Idahoans’. 

I have little doubt that most of you have always desperately wanted to learn more about ‘the state of Idaho’.  Wait no longer, here is your crash course:  First, Idaho is one of the last remaining states with a single area code: the two-oh-eight!  I can’t explain why Ludacris didn’t mention it in his song.

Idaho grows 1/3 of America’s potatoes.  One and a half million people live in the state - one person for every 6 square kilometres of land.  So there’s some breathing room.  A lot of breathing room actually filled with forests, mountains, rivers, and many national and state parks (some with scary names like: ‘Hell’s Canyon’ or ‘Bear Lake’ or ‘Sawtooth’).  So there is much hiking, rafting, climbing, biking, fishing, hunting and all that outdoor stuff.  Here is a collage I made for you:

I wouldn't call my self an 'outdoors' person.  Kate certainly is.  But I'm not an indoors person either?  Hmmm...  And, of course, there are some big and wild animals that don’t always play nice.

Another key bit of information is that Idaho has many official ‘emblems’ including  an official state: horse, fruit, bird, vegetable, tougher bird, tree, flower,  fish, insect, gem, and fossil. 

Seriously: Appalosa, Huckleberry, Mountain Bluebird, Potato, Peregrine falcon, Western White Pine, Syringa, Cutthroat Trout, Monarch butterfly, Star Garnet, and equus simplicidens. That’s right... a fossil:  Equus simplicidens, or ‘Hagerman Horse’.   They also obviously have a state song, and flag, and a state dance (the square dance) a catchy Latin state motto: Esta Perpetua, which means: everlasting, eternal, forever (you get the picture) and translates directly to ‘it is perpetual’.  And here is their official seal:

That's it.  Congratulations, you have just completed your Idaho crash course.  I might also mention that the state happens to have many pick-up trucks.

And as for the town of Moscow (home to the University of Idaho): I have been there just once, briefly, and I think I love it.  It felt like a perfect little laid-back college town with almost as many students as citizens.  (Town: 23000 people.  University of Idaho: 12000 students).  It’s a rich pocket of life that happens to be far, far away from everyone else.  The closest ‘big’ city is probably Seattle at 7 hours drive away.  And incidentally it’s 10 highway-hours to Vancouver and 12'ish to Calgary (and about 36 to Southwestern Ontario)

This is the only picture I could find of downtown Moscow for you:
And this is the entire town from above. It sits on little rolling hills. 

There's not much to it.  Many people don’t like small towns: 'boring' they say.  But I disagree.  I've met boring people but have yet to discover a boring place.  You can read anywhere.  But little towns have fewer ‘random people’ and more ‘familiar faces’.  Many of us constantly see nothing but strange faces.  It's evolutionarily abnormal :)  Plus I hate traffic, I hate line-ups and I hate traffic.  But little Mowcow, Idaho... I can’t wait to get to know this town. 

Admittedly, beach volleyball may be tough to find.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Permission to come home

We will be travelling with Wallace internationally soon and baby cross-border travel is not so easy these days.   There’s some paperwork involved.  Rightfully so I think.  It is probably best just to keep babies where they are.   But like it or not, Wallace must fly to the other side of the world in July and to do that my boy needs a Canadian Passport.   This requires proof of citizenship.   And without a Canadian birth certificate the ‘proof’ is a certificate for which one must apply and generally wait about a year to receive.  There is, of course, a nice little loophole in this system for us, but it involves jumping through a few bureaucratic hoops.

The most (and only) interesting aspect of this process so far has been the passport photo.  The idea of a baby passport photo is almost inherently funny to me.  And I can’t explain why I like to be a goof on this blog – but I do... so here you go.

True story:  there are four simple rules to baby passport photography,
  1. White sheet
  2. Eyes open
  3. Mouth closed
  4. Head straight

Kate and I took a sleeping Wallace to a photo shop and we were told about these ‘rules’.  They may sound simple, but they are in fact nearly insurmountable.

You see, Wally doesn’t keep his head straight, ever.  Ever! And he does not ever close his mouth while opening his eyes... I’ve just never seen it happen.   The photographer told us to expect this process to be difficult and that it may be a waste of many hours of his time to wake up Wallaby and try to get him to behave like a suitable young Canadian citizen.  He suggested instead that we take the ‘picture’ ourselves at home when Wallace was wide awake and happy.  We were to email potential candidate shots to the ‘photo shop’ and they would select the best one, crop, and print it for us.

This actually seemed like a fun little project for me.  And it was.  I took a LOT of pictures, well over a hundred I think.  Here’s a sample of some of them.

 One of the pictures above was actually selected as Wally’s passport photo.  Keeping in mind the ‘rules’, can you guess which one it was?

I can tell you that it wasn't this one: 
or this one:
We tried very hard to explain to him what was expected from little Canadians:

But he didn't listen.  He just kept on looking cute and breaking 'rules'.  

Now if you haven't figured out which of those pictures actually satisfies the 'Passport' requirements.  I will show you... although it pains me to do so.  All I can say is that I hope that Wallaby grows up with some confidence and a sense of humour... because this little treat will come back to him :)

Every time I look at this picture I laugh.  It's awesome!   For some strange reason it reminded me of the Bruce Willis movie: Fifth Element.

Tell me, would you open your front door if this group of kids came knocking:

Friday, May 14, 2010


Kate and I are healthy, competent adults.  One might even suggest we are reasonably intelligent and hard working.  Early thirties, with plenty of energy and optimism, we’re adaptable people who have seen a bit of the world accomplished some stuff.  If you asked me a year ago whether Kate and I would have any trouble caring for an infant I would have laughed at you.  If everyone else can do it, then of course we can.  I can assemble IKEA furniture and find my way to the airport just like everyone else because there are big pictures of airplanes on road signs and little pictures of Swedish cartoon dudes putting together my shelving... so we’re good.  Because if something was designed for the average person to handle, then I expect to handle it.  And caring for a baby? Everyone else can clearly do so  this should be an absolute piece of cake.  Feed, change, wrap up warm, and scene!

But I have learned a thing or two in recent weeks haven’t I?  Yep, those of you who have had an infant at home obviously understand.  Kate and I are honestly blown away by the difficulty of making our little ‘bundle of joy’ comfortable.  It’s far from a ‘piece of cake’. 

The problem can be summed up in two words: sleep deprivation.  There are some numbers involved.  First, Wally’s average daily sleep-wake-cycle is a lot shorter than ours.  He sleeps and wakes roughly 8-12 times per 24 hours.  Wallace breast feeds every 2-3 hours without exception.  During your average feed, Wally eats for 20-40 minutes, get’s a diaper change (5 min), and is then free to do what he wants (either sleep or look around or cry).  Pop quiz: what is the longest amount of ‘consecutive sleep’ Wallace could ever expect?

2 hours and 35 minutes - well done (I hope) - assuming that Wallaby falls asleep the second he stops eating.  But that would be quite an erroneous assumption my dear reader.  The boy needs to be ‘helped’ to sleep by chillin’ on mom or dad for a while.  Oh he just adores the smell of mom and warmth of dad!  Sometimes ‘on mom or dad’ is the only place our son will sleep quietly and comfortably for more than a few minutes.  Right now, as I type these words, Wallaby is sleeping soundly on my chest.  In practical terms, this means Kate and I don’t sleep much.

Of course, those of you with kiddies know all of this already  Wally’s poor little breastfeeding mommy barely sleeps at all.  An hour or two at a time at most, and often much less if I am asleep or at work.  A night or two of sleep deprivation is fine... but two weeks already with no end in sight (months longer) is ridiculous.  Actually, given what has been asked of her, Kate has kept it all together remarkably well.  She is calm and productive, sleeps when she can, and doesn't complain.  And Wallace is happy and very well cared for.  It's not easy but she's good at this.  I can't help but be impressed by this random new mothering talent in a girl I've known for so long.  Here's an action shot: 

Of course, this would all be much easier if we were not living all alone so far away from our families.  And that is why my mother has been a huge help since her arrival a few days ago in Brizzy.  She is just here briefly, but it will be a much appreciated visit.  First, she arrived on a Canadian clock, so she was happy to stay awake all night.  Secondly, Wallace is her first grandchild so she was absolutely thrilled to sit with him all night!  Now if Wallace gets just one bottle of breast milk from my mother in the middle of the night... Kate can and I can sleep for 6 HOURS!!!  At the same time!  The first six hours that Maria gave us felt like six weeks :) 

Thank you, thank you, thank you babcia!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Costner and Crowe and Wallaby

Wallace entertains me constantly.  He's a gifted entertainer.  Usually it's a well timed sound or  hand wave or look.   The other day, for example, it was 'imaginary archery':


When I was four or five we visited my grandfather's farm and he built me a toy bow with a few wooden arrows with big rounded tips.  I loved it.  It is a memory that holds strong.  I played with that bow until every last arrow was lost or broken - at least an hour or two :)  Perhaps that is why I've always been a big fan of Robin Hood.  

Here is how Wally's Robin Hood impression stacks up against Kevin Costner's performance in one of my favourite boyhood movies.  

But I'm pretty sure that, like me, Wallace  is eager to see Russel Crowe put his stamp on this character.  I can't wait, and I expect it'll be amazing.  I loved Master and Commander, Gladiator, and pretty much everything else he has ever made.

You can imagine that Wallace and I have had a few entertaining moments together in the past week... often it's when Kate is passed out from sleep deprivation but Wallace is very much awake.  And sometimes, mom manages to wake up catch us acting like total goofs!!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


A couple of days ago the fine folks at Mater Hospital’s Nursery handed us beautiful little baby boy and did not ask for him back.  Their job was done (and they were brilliant) and our job has started (...and time will tell how we do) because Wallaby is home!

That’s right, you heard me... Wallaby is home!!!

But the look on Wally’s face as he left ‘professional’ care suggested that he might not be so sure that leaving was in his best interest.  I could almost hear him thinking: “You’re not seriously going to let these two take me home are you?  They have no training!!!”.

Fear not young'in...  I’m a quick study.  But like it or not, I must practice on you.

After 40 busy days on the ‘inside’ my young Wallaby finally earned his freedom after reaching a  whopping 4.5 lbs (gigantic by his standards).  He is home about three weeks ahead of his ‘original’ due date.  Unlike your average kiddie, before leaving hospital my son had been held and handled by three or four dozen skilled nurses.  And they were good.  So he came home calm and happy, feeding regularly, and sleeping soundly, well mannered and predictable.  He's got a nice regular little eat-sleep-eat-poop-sleep schedule happening.  Kate and I feel like we cheated as parents by letting professionals do the early work for us - but I think Wallace was happy about it.  

He’s a cute kid - as you can see :) - and Kate is madly in love with him.  And she is very good with him... and very good to him.  

How fortunate am I today?

I'd like to sincerely thank the friends and family who have been with Wallace in thoughts and prayers, and calls, and emails, and mail.  I hope that the excitement is behind us now and our life becomes far too boring to write about in the coming months and years.  But I will keep posting a picture or two of Wally on this blog for a bit longer (he is growing so fast) along with a story or two in the coming months as we finish up our adventure in this hemisphere.