Category Archives: finest gift


Teddy has been a lot of things over the years including left behind and lost in Southern California. He made it back home to Halifax that time only to have to hop into a car and drive to Montreal to be reunited with his buddy Noah.

Now, Teddy is a sports star. Not just any sport but the glorious game of hockey. He’s also one of the many inspirations Noah calls upon to practice his writing, spelling and alphabeting. The other morning, maman got the spelling out call – “how do you write awesome?” Noah shouted. Maman thought this was a great chance to use the dictionary but Noah couldn’t wait so he went out on his own.

Maman could hear him voicing out the sounds – “aw, o, aw, o, ssss, ssss, mmmm, mmmm. aw sss mmmm. Maman, come see, come see, I’ve got it.” This is what he came up with – awesome = osm. And how does Teddy fit into all this? Well, he scored seven goals in a hockey game and he was, you guessed it, awesome!


A Palette of Fun

I recently took in Nocturne – art a night. It was a great show with happenings throughout the city. Maybe we’ll see Noah there in a future edition.

He is seeing differently now and capturing it in his paintings. It’s a whole new creative groove for him. I love the jaunty feel of his self portrait, bright and smiling with all 10 fingers. This reproduction doesn’t do the work justice as it truncates his feet.

He loves colour, colours – bright and broad. He knocked off sunrise morning with great satisfaction earlier today.

That’s our car in the foreground ready to drive along the black, black road right into the sunrise.

That’s it for this edition of digital art. Nellie’s coming soon. Her style is going through a great leap also.

The Indelible One

It only takes a minute with Nellie. She sees an opportunity and she goes. Not literally of course, but then again she’s not allowed out on her own. No, I mean she dives into her latest project passionately, fully, deeply.

We’re not sure if it’s fashion madness or faux pas for her most recent adventure. It depends on your point of view. Nellie transforms herself into the amazing human whiteboard. She’s her own design playground. Already she can tote up tattoo artist in her experience column. Not a bad job either given the brief spell she is on her own to create this solo work of fun and fancy. The close up of her sole demonstrates her attention to detail and her flair with the marker.

Being at work, I don’t have the joy of seeing this live. As a consolation prize, I do get to show my workmates a photo and share a good laugh about our talented and unrepentant Nellie-Rose. She is a maverick blazing her own trail. There’s a lot more in store for us. We’ll be well educated over the next few years.

Montréal by Night

Time out on the town is an infrequent treat for Mé and I. When we get to solo it’s a blast, like drinking a good long draught of playful fancy. Our last night in Sorel and we’re zipping west down the 30 to Montréal. The three babies are with grand-maman and grand-papa being lavished with final moments of delicious spoiling prior to our Nova Scotia departure.

We’re on our way to an African celebration at le Cabaret du Mile-End on Avenue du Parc in the heart of Montréal’s Plateau district. It’s the kick-off for the well-established Nuits d’Afrique festival now in its 24th year.

Mé finds the club as I’m parking the car – in an expensive, we’re giving you a ticket spot as it later turns out. There is only a trickle of people arriving. Up two flights of stairs and into the venue. It’s packed. All 500 seats and more are taken. There is a hum of excitement in the air, that electric charge of pre-show anticipation. We find seats at a table that already has two occupants and settle in.

A symphony of languages swirls through the room. Flowing boubous of riotous colours are tropical beacons in the dimly lit interior. This is an evening to step out and salute African culture and music. I’m happy we’re here together to hear Dobet Ghanoré, a rising star from Côte d’Ivoire. The fans on her myspace page are a who’s who of African music. This is no surprise given her voice, musical arrangements and arresting stage presence.

Our table companions are a brother and sister in their 40s, or early 50s from the city. We speak a little over the buzz sharing snippets like bite-sized amuse-gueules. We hear the voice first and then Ghanoré takes the stage, embracing us in a sweep of her arm. For the rest of the evening, we are transported to her place of dance, of drum, of story and for good measure some sweet West African guitar licks.

Thanks Dobet. It’s a night out to remember – festival city, vibrant beats and time alone with my love. That time alone piece is hard to squeeze in with three under fives. When it does roll around at the end of the day, we’re usually dragging our asses, or lolling into sleep. It’s fun to get out and stir it up.

Secret Weapon and Brand New Ride

Game 5, Montreal vs. Washington is a nail biter right from the first face off. Pollsters determine that 80% of Montreal fans think this is the final game. Hell no, the lads play like they are on fire. The offence rocks and the defence keeps it together stopping Ovechkin et al. As for Halak he plays like a champion.

The team has a secret weapon that helps them come out on top. Few are aware of its potency. Who would have thought that an Eastern Passage toddler would have spurred them on to such a decisive victory? Well this new fan whips them into a frenzy. We’ll be sure to have her on hand Monday night for Game 6. Hopefully she’ll work her magic again.

A huge surprise for Noah-David today – he’s now riding a brand new skateboard. Maman saw them on sale and couldn’t resist. Good call maman.

After 30 minutes tooling around on the sidewalk, he’s skating like a pro. He’s even flipping the board up into his hand after he hops off. Next stop, the bowl over on the Commons. I want so badly to try it but our lad flat out refuses. I’ll continue working on him.

This is a whole new chapter in balance, coordination, daring and of course fun.

Lila Doux

Since the first day she came home from the hospital, she has been Lila doux for Nellie-Rose and Noah-David. I can’t remember which of the two tacked on the ‘doux‘ but it’s sticking. Doux is soft or sweet in French and Lila-Jeanne sends us into orbit on both counts. She’s off the scale.

Noah and Nellie have a song and dance number which, as cute as it is, must just about scare the baby crap out of Lila because of the boisterousness and spontaneity of it all. They usually break it out at least a couple of times a week. For the fullest effect, Lila needs to be either on the floor or at a very low elevation so she can see what’s going on and be seen by the performers. It’s a mad dash sort of dance, round and round and round the little sister until they are almost giddy with dizziness. All the while between giggled breaths, they are chanting a two-word song varying the tone, volume and rhythm, playing it like a magic incantation, like a joyous gift in the making. The lyrics are simple and unforgettable – Lila doux, Lila doux, Lila doux.

They are proud, excited, happy, funny and full of love in these moments of ‘we are three’. It’s a heady engagement in the sibling club. This is an exclusive membership that, as connected as we are in the maman and papa roles, we’ll never be able to join. It makes my heart warm to see this jump-up carnival that celebrates another baby, another sister in the ranks.

Lila doux and I are out on our second solo mission today – Halifax bound. It’s off to the on call doctor at our clinic to get another prescription for thrush. Just a week ago, we cleared up the first infection and now have to start over. It’s not serious but does cause discomfort and interferes with eating. I guess it’s easy for me to say that it just causes discomfort. I’d probably be whining away to beat the band if these nasties invaded my mouth.

We pick up the medicine at the pharmacy and continue to the mall for some shopping prior to returning home. She is in constant sleep mode. She wakes up for a nano-second as the doctor probes her mouth with a depressor and that’s pretty much it until we get home nearly two hours later. Even though she’s snoozed out, enveloped in inertia, everyone remarks on her. She is cute, darling, adorable, a dear, so sweet, a baby by any other name.

Lila and I have the longest conversations of late. It’s now a trilingual household. We’re all becoming very proficient in Gurgle. Don’t ask us what we say au juste. We take our cue from this youngest girl who speaks in tongues. She trills, squeals and sings a poetry of innocence. There are no words to fashion the images she shares with us yet they come across vibrant, bright and crisp. I get lost in her eyes as she tells her story. I am swimming in her light and her words shift my sense, my sound and sight. Everything we need to be is already there shining out at me.

Lila doux calls out in the morning after maman joins us in the kitchen. Some days she can ‘play’ by herself for 20 minutes. When she’s done with the self-directed stuff, she lets us know. She ratchets up her remonstrations slowly. She registers her pique, her disdain, her surprise that no one is with her. This is a good time to grab a quiet moment behind closed doors filled with early morning energy. I lie down beside her on our bed. I tickle, stroke and try the latest couple of colloquial Gurgle phrases I’ve learned. It’s a fine time, a waking dream, a sweet, soft surrender to the now of life.

If you want to try and wrap your tongue around Gurgle, here’s lesson 1.

Playground Days Are Here Again

Two playground visits this week. No snow and temps creeping up to a balmy 7° C. Nellie-Rose and Noah-David are in perpetual motion – slides to swings to bridge to climbing arcs. Their voices fill the sky as they call out to each other. Each breath of laughter is a deep exhalation, moments of momentous joy.

They race, encourage, and hug each other eyes wide open to adventurous new feats for their respective inventories of playground conquests. “Help me, help me,” rings through the air – a nudge up a last step here, a meter lift to the monkey bars there. Their independence is striking. Papa’s great contributions are helping when things are out of reach, pushing the swings and watching raptly as the equipment is put through its paces by two all star players.

I can’t get enough of their rosy red cheeks, their speedy fast running, or the calls for more, more, more. I relish with great anticipation the thought of Lila-Jeanne joining us for the playground capades.

Noah is impatient to get back to Sorel this summer. He talks about what we’ll do in Québec and often speaks about the Marathon of Playgrounds that we’re starting to plan. He thinks we should get one happening here in Halifax too.

We take a nice walk along a trail that overlooks the harbour in the Mount Hope area of Dartmouth. The sun is a magnet pulling people out of their homes for a more temperate engagement with the elements. There’s a steep hill with brown, windswept grass uncut and unkempt from last fall. The two mischief makers scamper half-way up and roll, tumble, slide down, down, down. This is a dust off and repeat manoeuvre until I strong voice them to the bottom for the trek back to the playground.

There’s no end to the exploring. Vessels are at our disposal in several locations throughout the city. This new one is tucked away in a small subdivision a five minute drive from our house. On this our second visit, we are the lone crew members. Good thing too as Nellie had to get a rapido outdoor diaper change.

I have a mutiny on my hands when I tell the two junior deckhands that we have to set sail for home. There’s a bit of chasing around and shiver me timbers talk. I’m tough with them though. It’s in the car, or walk the plank. They choose the lesser of two evils and we speed home for a reunion with maman and Lila.

My step is feeling a bit lighter. What’s the reason? Our kids and playground season – it’s here again.