Jean-Noël was sick for the first time in his young life, this weekend. A cold, with sniffling, fever, and plenty of discomfort and crying. It all began on Friday, June 1st, we think...
It was a gorgeous day, and the five of us decided to go to Lamoureux Park along the St. Lawrence River for a walk. We took the tiny stroller out of the car trunk and basically walked from end of the park and back, going around the bandshell and behind the Civic Complex before settling down at the Marina with its assortment of boats and yachts. A strong breeze was blowing in, and in our joy of feeling the sun on our skin for the first time in nearly two weeks, we might have been unable to factor in the wind chill factor and its effects on newborns.
We noticed a slight cough from the baby that night and the next morning; by Saturday evening, fever had set in. Sun-duk and I hardly slept at all for the next two days, as Jean-Noël couldn't, either. By Monday, however, his condition had improved: his temperature had gone down to almost normal, his appetite had returned, and he slept soundly, with nary an interruption, until the following day.
The illness had worried Sun-duk, but we Canadians took Jean-Noël's cold in stride, a sort of baptism of fire, if you'll forgive the irony. If it had continued for more than three or four days, though, we definitely would have brought him to a clinic.
P.S. Friday, we all had lunch at the Chinese buffet across from Zellers - all you can eat for six dollars. None of us had eaten a big breakfast, so between the five of us, we must have cleaned up two dozen plates! Topics included Canadianised and Koreanised Chinese food vs. real Chinese food; the toys we bought at Zellers an hour before while we waited for my mom's session with her chiropractor to end; and my mother's cousin's husband, who walked in and sat behind us with some of his cronies. I had never seen him before, and can't for the life of me remember his name, but it just goes to show how large French-Canadian families tend to stick together - yours truly excepted.
Sun-duk went jogging in the rain, Saturday night. She hates aerobics, and will only consider jogging, walking, and swimming in her quest to shed her pregnancy pounds.
My paternal grandparents spent Sunday evening with us after they had had dinner with my parents. They are in their early eighties, and hale and hearty as ever. Sure, they've slowed down a bit, but their minds have remained sharp. Not only do they have quite a few years left ahead of them, but I do believe they'll completely avoid dotage. I hope I'm as lucky as they've been!
Monday saw us hopscotching across Cornwall: to Giant Tiger (a K-Mart type of store), a Pakistani convenience store (its sign misleadingly advertises Asian products, so we had hoped to find some Korean food), a bulk health food store (Sun-duk was in the mood for rice, and the Italian variety seemed closest in size and texture to the Korean grain), Sears, the A & P (a grocery store), and Blockbuster (I had wanted to rent Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme's concert movie of the famous Talking Heads tour, but they didn't have it, so I rented STtNG - Insurrection instead). Everything is still new for Sun-duk - that is, quite different from her life in Chicago in 1996. Back then, her foster family lived in a rather crowded older neighbourhood, with small brownstones, narrow streets, and a dearth of parks. Cornwall, like small-town America, consists mostly of bungalows and split-levels spread out over a wide area, so that even the downtown area seems limned by an aura of wild daisies and fields that only the chemical and paper factories in the city's west end manage to dispel.
The evening was spent at my sister's; her colleague in Ottawa, the one who had loaned us the baby seat, had also been kind enough to make her stroller available to us - and a very colourful thing it is, too! We're very happy to finally have an honest-to-goodness, high-tech, heavy-duty, tank-size stroller to walk around the neighbourhood with. It's chockfull of goodies: reversible handle, brakes, a "sun roof", an extra piece of cloth in case of rain, a small trunk, a shelf between the wheels, and a gear that allows a baby to sit up, recline, or lie down. What luxury!
Sun-duk can't believe that she's been here two weeks and hasn't had to do any cooking! In Korea, daughters-in-law must do all the cooking and cleaning when visiting their husband's parents. It's to do with patriarchy and the fact that children - especially girls - must obey their elders at all times.
A series of short events punctuated the latter part of our second week in Canada.
Sun-duk made some mi-ok-gook (seaweed soup) and pokk-um-bap (Chinese fried rice) for dinner one evening. Both were greatly appreciated by my parents, especially my mom.
We took our first walk with our new stroller. Felt like a "real" outing. Sun-duk took a lot of pictures of us and the neighbourhood.
Driving a car, like riding a bike, is very hard to forget how to do. I took a drive around Rosedale with my mother before we spent two or three hours downtown on various errands.
OHIP: I made an appointment with the OHIP people at the Hotel-Dieu Hospital - Wednesday morning at nine-fifteen. I had all my pieces of ID, and the form was almost complete when the nurse told me she needed more recent identification with my current address to qualify for free provincial health care - the argument being that they have no proof I'm not living in Quebec or elsewhere for more than six months a year and looking to bilk the system for all it's worth. So... my best bet, according to the lady, was to renew my four-year-old driver's license, which bears the same address I'm at now. Oka-y-y-y...
So the next day, I go down to the Ministry of Transportation office on Tollgate Road, and was told that they only did road tests there - I had better go to the place on Water Street. So I did, and the clerk there told me she wouldn't renew my license unless it was close to expiring or I had lost it. I explained my situation, and she replied that not only would renewal in this case be against provincial regulations, but a waste of my money, as well. She gave me her name and telephone number, and asked that the nurse at the hospital give her a call if she still refused to grant me my OHIP card. We'll see what happens in a couple of days...
One good bit of news: we got our four-month visitor's insurance from Toronto, so we're all of us covered should anything really bad happen. Checkups and vaccinations are not included, however, so these will have to come out of our own pockets until we get our health cards.
Sun-duk, Jean-Noël, and I had ourselves a good old-fashioned picnic at Guindon Park by the lake. We brought over some subs with us and fed the seagulls and Canada geese. Sun-duk was enamoured of the area and took many photographs. Later, we drove around some of Cornwall's ritzier neighbourhoods and looked at the houses. Someone - but not me - is making a lot of mental notes!
We had our video camera fixed on Saturday. Apparently, one tape or more was in less than sterling condition and shed bits of oxide, which later gummed up the works.
Wanting to buy new, better 6mm video tapes, we headed to Wal-Mart - besides which, we wanted to buy my parents something special for their 34th wedding anniversary June 10th. After five years in Korea, I couldn't believe how inexpensive electronic products are in Canada! Everything is almost twice as cheap as in Korea, thanks to a truly free and open market. The partnership (or should I say collusion) between Korea's chaebols (conglomerates) and its federal government, in spite of constant admonishments from the West and the WTO, remains extremely protectionist, allowing the country's few big companies to monopolise everything from high-tech to shampoo.
JEAN-NOËL: Another semi-incident: he was constipated for four days! The last two were pretty rough - his poor insides were all cramping up on him, and he cried a lot. It finally came out, in two installments - morning and night.
This week was a hard one for him; maybe it was the new formula, which is rich in iron (mother's milk doesn't contain enough of this all-important element, and we want to avoid feeding him supplement drops. He cried a lot for the first time in Canada, and surprised my parents, who think he's an exceptionally good (i.e. quiet and well-behaved) baby. They added that his father was the same, but that his aunt was a little more fussy. As for Sun-duk... I've stopped asking her questions about her infancy, because a) she has never been interested enough to query her mother, and b) her mother can't remember a single detail of any of her babies' early lives, save perhaps those of her two sons! I find that strange, because both my grandmothers, who had six and eight children apiece, love to regale others with such details.
Jean-Noël's got this thumb-sucking down pat, now, curling his fingers into a fist and sucking his thumb several times a day, very loudly. Very funny to see and hear!
The picture on the right, by the way, is how, by Canadian law, ALL babies under 20 pounds (eight kilogrammes) must travel by car - always in the back seat, facing backwards, and with two seat belts securely fastened.
Still no word from all the agencies in Ottawa to whom I e-mailed my resume, so I applied on-line for two dozen federal and provincial government jobs across the country. Best bet so far: a two-semester position with Aurora College in the North-West Territories, several hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle! Meanwhile, here in Cornwall, the only openings are for low-wage employment - too low for Immigration.
Other small-time, small-town highlights: having the all-you-can-eat buffet at Pizza Hut; eating at St-Hubert Barbeque; buying some baby clothes at Byway; returning to Guindon Park with Jean-Noël; getting my OHIP card approved at last (the insurance forms from Toronto clinched it); a week in which temperatures soared to the mid-thirties (low forties with the humidity factored in - Sun-duk was thoroughly shocked!).
My mother has her hands full this week preparing Sun-duk's baby shower, to be held Friday (June 15). I've been invited as a sort of cultural buffer - the only man allowed to participate in this women-only tradition. Sun-duk and I have got our own little surprise planned for the party!
JEAN-NOËL: He's starting to clutch things, like his shirt and several toys. He doesn't grab them deliberately, yet; the only willful thing he can do, so far, is punch the swinging figures on his play gym.
His smiles have become much more frequent, and he's even started laughing - although he can only manage a single grunt in lieu of a chuckle! And he does look so Asian when he breaks out into a big grin! In fact, it's funny how many people here in Canada tell us Jean-Noël looks like Sun-duk, while every single Korean swears he's a little Westerner! Folks here only see his almond eyes, whereas back in Asia, they look at his nose, chin, and skin and straight away pronounce him wegoog-in!
We're also told that he's a big baby for his age, that his feet are large, his toes long, etc. We can't really compare him with any other baby, and being with him every day, we don't notice the physical changes - except perhaps for his hairline, which is beginning to fill in!
Assorted facts: Jean-Noël's ear wax is wet and sticky like a Westerner's.
He hardly drools at all or sticks out his tongue in the fashion of other three-month-old infants.
The new diapers (Pampers, BTW) work marvelously well: water-tight and capacious enough for the biggest poop.
He enjoys nursing less and less. As of now, Jean-Noël only accepts the breast at night, when he's very sleepy. The rest of the time, he craves for the bottle, so Sun-duk is busy expressing milk at least half-a-dozen times a day, ensuring a steady supply of the world's best baby food.
He's gotten a little chubbier in the face and extremities. Did you know a double chin looks funny when it's also cleft?
|May 2000||June 2000||July 2000||August 2000|
|September 2000||October 2000||November 2000||December 2000|
|January 2001||February 2001||March 2001||April 2001|
|May 2001||June 2001||July 2001||August 2001|
|Kidnapped by Muslims!
(A true story)