Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photo of the Day December 30th


We had such a fun visit with our friend Rhys this afternoon... very active, very silly, very much as it should be when two four-year-olds get together. Among the highlights were several hours of playing with Sophie's new Christmas toys, and a rather ridiculous game I invented to give myself time to fold and put away laundry (which involved the kids running past me at full speed while I lobbed laundry in their general direction, trying to "tag" them - I discovered that balled-up socks make the best ammo by the way). We also took a few minutes to install an LED light into Sophie's wardrobe, as she's taken to climbing in there and shutting the door to make a little fort, or hiding in there to leap out and surprise us when we least expect it. In the car on the way home from our Christmas visit in Beaverton we listened to the annual Vinyl Cafe Christmas concert, which featured a story about the daughter of Vinyl Cafe owner Stephanie, and how she used to curl up in her closet with her tea set as a child, reading and falling in love with books. Chris asked Sophie if she thought she might like to be able to read inside her closet just like Stephanie, and Sophie thought it was a great idea... hence the installation of the light this afternoon. Naturally both Sophie and Rhys needed to check it out (from behind closed wardrobe doors), so I snapped this picture of them getting ready to snuggle in with a copy of Chirp magazine for a good read.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Photo(s) of the Day December 29th

Sophie shows off our little snow reindeer... if my friend Linda is right, we'll be getting enough snow to build an entire herd of them before the week is out!
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Of course I dressed Sophie in black and didn't remember to put on aprons - this is what happens when you accidentally drop a mixing spoon full of flour into a spinning KitchenAid mixer...
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The measuring cup (and accompanying flour) went flying after a few nerve-wracking clanks around the mixer... luckily no one was hurt, and the only damage to the mixer is a tiny bit of chipped enamel
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Sophie and I enjoyed each other's company today... with Daddy at work and nothing officially on the agenda it was just the two of us, left to decide what we wanted to do. We played outside, doing some shoveling while making snow angels and a very tiny little snow reindeer, cleaned out the garage so there would be room inside to park our car, played with both Sophie's new Go Diego Go Talking Rescue Centre and remote control car, did some housework, started making a dream catcher for above Sophie's bed, and pulled out the KitchenAid mixer for some baking time. We sure know how to fill a day, don't we? The baking was the only thing that I was sure would make our "to do" list, since Sophie woke me up this morning with a request that we make cookies. Aside from the little explosion that happened when a certain someone accidentally dropped a measuring cup into the running mixer while it was running (the resulting mess is shown above) baking a batch of chocolate almond shortbreads was the perfect way to round out our super fun day and provide us with a nice dessert for after dinner. I welcome more days like these whenever I can get them - even with the flying flour!
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Photo of the Day December 28th


Back home, and back into the "swing of things" again... Chris worked from 7am to 7pm, and we had our friend Rowan over for the day. Guess Christmas holidays are officially over despite the fact we haven't fully unpacked yet! We had a blast around around the house today though, including both indoor and outdoor activities like our "foot bath" shown above (which was inspired by a very silly game of "smell my feet" that either Rowan or Sophie started this morning), and some good old-fashioned playing in the snow in the afternoon. I love being up in Beaverton with my family for the holidays, but there's something to be said for settling into the comfortable routines of home again... wet pants, spilled milk, strewn-about toys and all!
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Photo(s) of the Day December 27th


Chris and Sophie take a moment to pose with, and congratulate, soon-to-be torch bearer Rob DeLaron
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Torch bearers Christopher Askey (left) and Rob DeLaron pass the Olympic flame in New Hamburg
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All good things must come to an end, and our holiday visit to Beaverton is no exception. We left this morning and planned our route home based on the fact that the Olympic Torch Relay is winding it's way around Ontario right now, and we wanted the opportunity to see it. The torch was being passed off this afternoon shortly before 3pm in New Hamburg, and we arrived there with about 15 minutes to spare - enough time to find parking, get hot apple cider, pick up a Canadian flag or two for waving, and luck into the absolute best seats on the route to stand. I don't know how it happened, but in some karmic stroke of luck a spot opened up right on the curb in front of where a brass band was playing - Sophie, Chris and I took the spot and were treated to a perfect view of everything from the arrival of both the very excited new torch bearer and the (very exhausted) previous one, the passing of the flame, and the speeches by the local Mayor and Member of Parliament (I know, you're jealous of that one). There's no way we could have had a better view of the whole thing, and it was pretty exciting to be a part of something that we may never have the chance to witness again. Go Team Canada!
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Photo of the Day December 26th


With the overwhelming number of Christmas-themed photos on my blog of late I figured that we were due for one that wasn't based specifically on the holidays! Luckily for me, Chris snuck down to the bar at my Aunt and Uncle's house and caught this photo of me with my cousin Heather and her finance Shawn, whose wedding invitations I've volunteered to design & create. We took advantage of being together for Christmas to sit down and go over some ideas and designs, talk about colours and themes, and generally brainstorm invitation ideas. Next up: taking those design ideas and turning them into some sample invitations that Heather and Shawn can discuss... I'm looking forward to playing around with what we've talked about and seeing what I can come up with!
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Photo(s) of the Day December 25th

Merry Christmas Everyone!
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Sophie is all smiles beside her yet-to-be-filled stocking on Christmas Eve
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Recreating the family pose we took in 2005, which sits in an embroidered "baby's first Christmas" pillow in her room at home
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Christmas morning, and someone is awfully excited to see that Santa enjoyed the milk and cookies she put out! The best part though? Great Grandpa's story of actually seeing Santa briefly through the window shortly before he jumped in his sleigh and took off into the night sky...
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Uncovering so many interesting goodies in those stockings - Santa was indeed good to us this year!
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Sophie discovering what was inside the present Santa left by her stocking... the Little Einstein's Rocket!
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How could I settle on just one photo today? Couldn't be done. Although it may seem that our holiday celebrations were limited to the morning opening stockings, our revelry actually went on to my Aunt and Uncle's home where presents were exchanged and a great buffet (the buffet to end all buffets, actually) was nibbled on throughout the day. Present opening is not a quick, hit & run sort of affair in my family... we each take turns (starting with the youngest) opening a single present while the rest of the family watches to see what everyone got. It certainly teaches patience, since with a family our size the present-opening phase of Christmas can take the better part of six hours... and it also means that our Christmas dinner has been relegated to Boxing day so that we can enjoy dinner without the production of several hours of gifts before hand. I was so caught up in the revelry of the day that my camera lay forgotten in my purse until quite late... but suffice it to say that fun was had by all, and many wonderful presents were exchanged. I hope your holidays were as good for you as they were for us!
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Photo of the Day December 24th


Christmas Eve... has there ever been a day full of more anticipation when you're young? I love Christmas, and having Sophie in my life has just intensified that love of the holidays ten-fold. One of the traditions I passed along to her this year was one that my Grandparents started for me when I was just a child... I was worried that Santa Claus wouldn't find me at Christmas since I wasn't at my own home, so my Grandmother fashioned a pulley from a set of antique sleigh bells and told me that if I rang the bells loudly enough Santa would always know where to find me on Christmas eve. It became a cherished memory, and those bells were hung on my Grandparents front porch every year that I was down for Christmas - I rang them well into adulthood. The sound of sleigh bells ringing has brought to mind not only Christmas for me, but the love of my Grandparents - and knowing that Sophie was spending Christmas away from home this year I thought it would be lovely to reinitiate the tradition. I hung the bells on my Grandparents front porch as always, and after putting out chocolate milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, Sophie rang them for all she was worth... as expected, Santa took notice. I expect that my Grandmother heard those bells ringing from the great beyond and smiled down on her great-granddaughter, reliving the tradition that she began.
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Photo of the Day December 23rd


I spent this morning spreading Christmas cheer as a volunteer gift wrapper at the Lindsay Square Mall, raising donations for Heritage Christian School, where my cousin Sandy's daughter goes. I love gift wrapping, and do not only my own with pleasure but often my mother's, and it turns out that my enjoyment of wrapping presents and my appreciation for volunteering couldn't have come together in a more appropriate way. It's fun to see what people are buying for each other at Christmas (clothes were the most frequently seen items) and a great challenge to figure out how to wrap some of the more interesting items that came across the desk, the clear winner of which was a 2L bottle of Coke. It was also a nice feeling to be able to provide a service that might be difficult for some to do themselves... we had a paraplegic gentleman come back about six times as he worked his way from store to store completing his shopping - I can only imagine the challenges he already faced just doing his shopping, let alone trying to wrap his purchases. Good feelings all around, and with a donation jar out on the counter for shoppers to throw in whatever they thought appropriate we seemed to raise quite a bit of money for the school as well. I've already told Sandy that she can sign me up next year if they continue the program - and I'm looking forward to it already!
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Monday, December 28, 2009

Photo of the Day December 22nd


We enjoyed a much-anticipated visit with my Grandfather (and Sophie's Great Grandfather) last night... she has held a very special place in his heart since her birth, which he made the journey to London to be a part of. She's crazy for him too, so the mutual admiration society is a lot of fun to watch. Last night they were hanging out by the fire with Grandpa sneaking up on her ears to say "Bwah hah hah hah" unexpectedly - a trick that he used to pull on me, which I simultaneously loved and dreaded as a young child. Nothing makes you go weak in the knees and shivery up the spine like my Grandpa's sneaky laugh, I tell you! He's not even doing it in this picture, but the very thought of it clearly has Sophie crazy with anticipation...
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Photo of the Day December 21st


What a difference between our train trip to Beaverton for Christmas two years ago and this one! While it wasn't completely free of frustration (more on that later) it was a dream compared to the last time we made this trip for the holidays. In 2007 I brought then-two-year-old Sophie, a car seat, a stroller, and our luggage by myself on the train to visit family for Christmas, and while the travelling part of our trip was fine, our experience at the Toronto train station was terrible. I asked when we first got on the train if we would be able to stay in our seats during the stop-over at Union station and had been told we would, so when the train emptied out in Toronto we stayed put, our assorted toys, snacks and other 2-year-old entertaining toys scattered around our seats and Sophie and I walking up and down the aisle of our empty car. Shortly before the train was due to be boarded a VIA employee came along and demanded to know what we were doing on the train - after explaining to him that we were staying on through Oshawa he very angrily told us that we couldn't do that, that we must have understood the person we asked about staying on the train earlier, that we weren't to stay on this car of the train anyway, and that we had to take all our stuff off the train and move about four cars down. So I, carrying Sophie, had to pack up all the items in our seating area while new passengers got on the train (and it was packed, so naturally someone was standing there waiting for me to hurry up so they could have our seats), and like a fish swimming upstream try and unload the stroller down the stairs, get Sophie strapped into it, get our car seat and luggage, and somehow carry it all down the platform to another car. The employee who yelled at me earlier not only didn't offer to help, but when he watched me struggling actually gave me a dirty look, like it was my own stupid fault that I was in this predicament in the first place and I would just have to live with the consequences. By the time I was down on the platform trying to figure out how to get everything to and onto the other (now crowded) car, I was in tears. Thank God for the very kind passenger who stopped and offered to bring my luggage and load it onto the proper train car while I pushed Sophie and carried the car seat - I think I may have had a nervous breakdown without his help. Despite that experience being 2 years ago, I obviously remember every painful, stressed-out moment clearly... and wanted to do everything in my power to make sure we didn't repeat it this year. Now, our circumstances are quite different - Sophie's four and doesn't need either a stroller or the large eight-point harness car seat any more so we had much less to carry - but I still went out of my way to book a train that allowed checked baggage and pre-checked all our luggage except a small carry-on full of snacks and books, and our portable DVD player. When Toronto came we had everything packed up and ready to go, and after talking with a (much kinder) VIA employee we were instructed to simply walk through the almost empty train to the car we were supposed to be travelling on through Oshawa. Smooth sailing - right up to when we arrived in Oshawa and were waiting on the platform for our luggage, only to watch the train pull away without unloading it. I and about five other passengers stood there stunned, trying to explain to the VIA employee who normally unloads the luggage that the train needed to be stopped so our luggage to come off, but it was apparently too late, and we were left in Oshawa while our luggage went on to Colburg. They removed it from the train there, and sent it back to Oshawa on the next train heading in that direction - but it still meant waiting for an extra two hours for our luggage to arrive before heading to Beaverton. We spent that time having a light lunch and chatting with Mom - but with an hour plus drive ahead of us it made for a very long day of travelling indeed... I wonder if when we try this Christmas train trip again in two years it might actually be error free?
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Photo of the Day December 20th


We spent a lovely afternoon at Chris's sister Mary's house today, enjoying a Christmas celebration with his side of the family. Sophie and I leave in the morning (far too early in the morning) for Beaverton to visit with my family, so we were so glad to have the chance to enjoy a holiday lunch and gift exchange with the "Burton side" before we left. This year was especially nice as Chris's brother Paul flew in from British Columbia for the holidays - we haven't seen him in two years, so we welcomed the opportunity to spend some time together. Sophie absolutely adores Uncle Paul... the wild man with tales of eagles and cougars, the giver of the best "Bear Hugs" on the planet, the uncle who survives in the wilds of BC's National Parks with little more than a camp stove and his trusty sidekick, Pax the Alaskan Malamute. We're so glad they had some time together this holiday season - yet another reason to be thankful.
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This will be my last post for about a week, as my access to a computer with internet service will be very limited while I'm away for the holidays. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful holiday season, the most joyous celebrations of whichever faith you hold dear, and the love of family and friends as we bring this year to a close. See you in a week!
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Photo of the Day December 19th

I spotted my first LTC bus in a month when I was leaving the Farmer's Market this morning...
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Welcome back LTC! It's been 29 long days with London's only source of public transportation out of commission due to a strike, and I'm sure everyone from riders to drivers are glad an agreement has been reached and buses have taken to their routes once again. In a "good will" offering, bus service will be free of charge all weekend long - and while I think it's a nice way to reintroduce the service back to London I believe that some of their most disgruntled riders won't see it as a big enough gesture to help compensate for their inconvenience (and money spent on cab rides) over the past month. My only hope is that someone with a chip on their shoulder doesn't take their grievance out on a driver - especially considering that one of the issues they were striking over was the lack of physical safety that drivers face during some of their routes.
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Photo of the Day December 18th

Treats for Sophie's class, festively wrapped and ready to take to school.
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It's Sophie's last day of school before her first Christmas break, and she's been a bit confused about why she's not "allowed" to go to school over the next two weeks. I think that's such a good sign - she obviously loves her teacher and her class if having to stay away for two weeks is a hardship. I have no doubt we'll fill her time away with so many events that she won't even notice the loss (who can concentrate on school when Christmas takes over?)... but for today we focused on enjoying the last day of school. Sophie's class held a Holiday party so everyone dressed in their Christmas finery, and we all sent in treats to share with the class. As you can imagine, the entire class was wired for sound on sugar and fun by the time we picked them up before lunch - when I put it that way it's no wonder she's disappointed about missing school!
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Photo of the Day December 17th


On our slate of things to do today we made time for some fun, including baking cookies for this weekend's family Christmas get-together. After pouring over a stack of holiday magazines and reviewing lots of cool new cookie recipes, I ended up deciding one of my old favourites - stained glass cookies. Sophie doesn't remember them from previous years, which made the whole process pretty magical for her... she enjoyed throwing on her apron and being my little helper in the kitchen, filling the holes we cut in the sugar cookies with crushed up bits of Jolly Rancher candy. When the cookies are baked the candy melts, then hardens into a sheep when the cookies cool - they make a pretty convincing stained glass window effect, which looks particularly impressive when you hold the cookie up in front of the light (if you can hold off eating it long enough, that is!)
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Photo & Video of the Day December 16th

My smiling angel in the sea of cute little concert faces...
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There is nothing in this world quite like a children's Christmas concert... it's so much fun watching the kids get up on stage and perform for their parents, grandparents and other relatives. They're so proud of themselves and excited to see their family in the audience - waving wildly and poking the kid next to them to say "that's my mom/dad/grandma!!!". With the exception of those poor children with stage fright, a Christmas concert has got to be one of the best events of the school year, and we got to enjoy Sophie's this evening. I've heard other parents complain of having to sit through other performances before their child takes the stage (and then sneaking out as soon as their kid is done), but the whole concert was so much fun I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of it. What a blast, watching students in Grades three and below dance, sing and act their way through about an hour of holiday-themed concert fun... and of course I thought Sophie's JK/SK group did particularly well as they closed out the show. They sang "Let There be Peace on Earth", complete with accompanying sign language during the chorus... such a great effort for such little performers.
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The JK/SK performers sing "Let There be Peace on Earth"...
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Photo of the Day December 15th


What a wonderful, seasonal evening we had tonight! One of the holiday traditions that I absolutely love is going down to Victoria Park to look at the Christmas lights and decorations. They do such a beautiful job, decorating dozens of huge trees with lights, installing large ornamental displays, and pouring an ice skating rink for families to enjoy. It's a truly magical place, especially for children. We went down to the park tonight for a very chilly walk, enjoying all the lights and displays, watching the skaters (one of whom was in shorts - crazy man!) and just generally running around in the snow. I brought travel mugs full of hot chocolate and tea which helped us retain our body heat a bit, but we were still frozen by the time we trundled back to the car and off on part two of our holiday lights tour: going out to see the "Christmas House" on Saskatoon Street. This home is truly something to behold - a single house with enough lights, decorations and anamatronic displays to decorate an entire neighbourhood. We go every year to see what they've done, and after seeing the house this year Sophie said that when we move (which I didn't realize we were planning to do, but anyway...) we should decorate our new house just like that one. Actually, that's the second or third time in the past little while that Sophie's mentioned us moving to a new house... I wonder what she knows that we don't?
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Photo of the Day December 14th


Well, we didn't get through everything we intended to make yesterday so we carried over some of our fun things to today - a bonus since our friend Rowan was here and could participate as well. We made some lovely cranberry shortbread cookies (yum!) and had a blast playing hide & seek and pretending to be birds before Rowan had to head home. When he was heading out we were surprised to find a package in our doorway, which turned out to be an Amaryllis as a Christmas gift from our landlady. Naturally my little gardener thought this was just about the best gift ever, and proceeded to unpack the bulb and get the soil out for planting - after we got the bulb nestled in its new home Sophie watered it... a job that takes utmost concentration as you can see here. She takes her gardening very seriously - I think she takes after my mother with her natural planting and cultivating talent!
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Photo of the Day December 13th


With Chris working today, Sophie and I enjoyed some fun mother-daughter time, which included doing what I called a "surprise craft". Over dinner each night we try to talk about not only what happened that day, but outline what will be happening tomorrow - I think it gives Sophie a sense of comfort knowing what's coming. So when we talked about today we planned some fun events like going to the gym (where I work out while Sophie plays with the other kids in their child-minding centre... she loves it and asks to go almost every day), making cookies, and doing this "mystery craft". She was ecstatic when I pulled it out... a fun foam kit with about a thousand little pieces that you can put together to make and decorate your very own Santa's Cottage. There was glitter and glue everywhere, let me tell you! We had a blast making the little house, putting up "lights", making snow appear on the roof, and so on... and Sophie was so happy with the result that she couldn't wait for Daddy to get home from work so she could show him her creation. Fun, fun, fun - I'm lucky to have had a daughter who loves crafty things as much as her Mommy does!
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Photo of the Day December 12th


Spent the morning in Wortley Village, picking up an order that had arrived at Home Hardware and running a School Council meeting over coffee at the Little Red Roaster. I love living so close to the Village, with it's charming atmosphere and plethora of little stores and service providers... it's wonderful to just step out the door and into what feels like a small town within our city. After lunch we took Sophie to the Little Gym for her dance & gymnastics class and watched her practice her "shuffle-heel-toe" tap routine, do an arabesque or two, and work hard to overcome some of her fears in the gym (walking on the balance beam, jumping off the higher mats to the floor, etc.) She's working hard, getting lots of exercise, practicing her gross-motor skills, gaining confidence and as you can see by the look on her face here, having so much fun! I'm so glad we're able to have her in these classes, and we're looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the next semester which begins in February (big thanks Dad for helping make that happen!!!)
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Photo of the Day December 11th


Although today wasn't a Saturday, it felt like it in terms of how busy it was... I couldn't wait to come home and collapse in front of the Christmas tree with a glass of wine. I had an appointment with my friend and hairdresser Erin this morning, always a nice experience where I leave not only having had a great conversation but feeling pretty darned good about how I look too. From there it was picking up Sophie from school, going to the gym, stopping at the grocery store, making dinner and doing several errands with Chris's sister Laura. Anyone not living in London Ontario may not know this, but our public transit system has been on strike for almost a month now... as a city that supports both a college and a university, sprawls out into many outlying subdivisions and has annexed several nearby small towns like Byron and Hyde Park, loosing bus service has been devastating to many. We're lucky to have a car, but I very clearly remember my many years of using public transportation and we've been trying to help out when we can... especially with Laura, who relies on the bus exclusively to get to and from her university classes. So, my own personal bus service done for the day and Sophie drifting off to dream land - my Christmas tree is calling! Good night all...
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Photo of the Day December 10


Today I finished my last big push for Christmas shopping, and boy does it feel good to have it (pretty much) done! My friend Cheryl and I had planned to drive to Port Huron this afternoon to do some shopping, but the blowing snow and accident reports convinced us to spend our time closer to home. Although I like our occasional cross-border trips, it was awfully nice to know that when our shopping was done we could be home and in our PJ's within a half an hour instead of two hours later! When I got home I noticed a new bit of art work hanging on the fridge - the result of some time spent doing drawings with Dad while I was out shopping I imagine. Like most proud parents, our fridge is a rotating gallery of Sophie's artwork, drawings and craft projects... it's always fun for me to see something new show up from my little artist.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Photo of the Day December 9th


Keeping with the Christmas theme, we received a response from Sophie's letter to Santa Claus today! Sophie was so excited to get a letter in the mail addressed right to her, and while the "form letter" was sweet it was the note at the bottom from "Mrs. Claus" that Sophie liked the best... it spoke specifically about the contents of her letter and even said that Mrs. Claus hung Sophie's artwork up in the workshop for the elves to see... how sweet is that? Although I've never thought being a letter-carrier seemed like the career for me, the fact that the postal service goes to the trouble to answer (and personalize!) the the hundreds of thousands of letters that children send to Santa in the mail each year makes me want to sign up - I want to be a "Postal Elf" too!! Thank you Canada Post - your Letters to Santa program brings a lot of joy to the children who send off their very special letters to the big guy...
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Photo of the Day December 8th


Chris came across the coolest offering from our internet service provider recently - a customizable video greeting from Santa Claus. With a few minutes of work Chris was able to create an amazing video of Santa speaking directly to Sophie, talking about her age, what she looks like, what's going on in her life, and what she's hoping to get for Christmas. It's wonderful, and watching her watch the video was so much fun... she looked startled, and thrilled, and confused and happy all at once - everything that magic should be. Great find Chris - thank you for bringing a bit of extra holiday magic home this year!
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Click HERE to watch the video for yourself...
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Photo(s) of the Day December 7th

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Today was one very active day with our friend Rhys over for a visit... the last time he was here with his little brother Rowan both he and Sophie made it very clear that they would prefer some "alone time" without the little guy along, and today they got their wish. The energy the two of them produce when they're together is unbelievable - I see (and participate in) more running, playing, shrieking and laughing on days when Rhys is over than any other time, and it's such fun to be a part of. Aside from catching snow on our tongues and playing board games (both shown here) we also enjoyed just about the longest game of hide-and-seek ever at 45+ minutes, and pretended to be a whole zoo worth of animals, with puppies and bats being their hands-down favourites. I have the feeling that there are two four-year-olds and one thirty-something-year-old that will be sleeping very well tonight!
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Photo of the Day December 6th

Sophie's hands clasped with her Great-Grandmas
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We hopped in the car after breakfast this morning to go visit my Grandmother at the nursing home in Wallaceburg, a visit that we always try to make around the holiday season. It's been over a month since we've been down (too long for sure) and it was very nice to see her again. She's one of the strongest women I've ever met, and her determination to do things for herself despite dealing with the physical effects of having a stroke is incredibly impressive. Whenever we're visiting she likes to have Sophie sit on her lap while I push her wheelchair so we can take a walking tour around the home to see all the birds and fish in their cages and tanks. Grandma's nursing home is one of the nicest I've seen, with lots of bright, open meeting spaces, comfortable living-room style areas throughout, several cozy corners to read in, and privacy for the residents in their rooms when they want it. Sophie always looks forward to "riding with Grandma", and got a kick out of showing her all the Polly Pocket dolls and their mix-and-match outfits she brought. It was over too soon, but we're looking forward to planning our next visit down early in the new year when I'm sure Sophie will regale Grandma with stories of Santa Claus, stockings, and the overall magic of Christmas.
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Photo of the Day December 5th

Happy Birthday Grandpa Martin!
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I am not in love with my computer right now. I've had issues off and on for what feels like forever, but when I'm right in the middle of a "crunch", it becomes even more frustrating. As the editor of Tecumseh's School Newsletter, the weekend before we publish is always the busiest - and this month is even worse than normal because I've been procrastinating. When your computer keeps shutting itself off in the middle of whatever you're doing it doesn't exactly inspire you to invest a lot of time in front of the monitor, you know? Luckily "Frankencomputer" as she's affectionately called has been staying up and running for me so far this weekend, and my fingers are crossed (when they're not typing, that is) that the trend continues. Sophie's going to her Aunt Mary's house for a sleepover tonight, so if all goes well I'll have several hours of uninterrupted time to work on both the newsletter and some time-sensitive projects for School Council. You know, for someone whose "not working", I sure do a lot of work!
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Photo of the Day December 4th


I've been volunteering at Sophie's school in several capacities over the past few years, and this week I tried something new: being a "cashier" at Tecumseh's Scholastic Book Fair. It's quite the event - held in the school library, every class in the school is brought down to both "browse" and (if money's been sent from home) buy a new book or two. In addition to class visits, parents come and go, and a flood of students from every age range sweep through at recess and lunch. It was a blast, not only helping the students with their purchases but also browsing through all the great books... I've got quite the Christmas list on the go as a result of my two volunteer shifts this week!
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Photo(s) of the Day December 3rd


Where's Sophie hiding?
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Is she in here?
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There she is!
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We enjoyed a fun visit with our friend Rowan today, which included several games of hide-and-seek, one of Sophie's favourites. She managed to hide herself away so well that Rowan needed my help finding her a few times... it's a good thing I know all her best hiding spots!
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Photo of the Day December 2nd


Today was one of those crazy running-around days again. The morning started with me volunteering at the Tecumseh Book Fair while Sophie was in school, and progressed through stops at Laura's, home and the grocery store, lunch at Shirley's, speech therapy at the TVCC, our first ever parent/teacher interview, and Chris, Laura, Sophie and I taking a trip downtown in the rain to see the CP Rail Holiday Train. I must now confess that today's photo-of-the-day was pirated, because none of my pictures turned out - unfortunately the rain that drenched us while we sang "Jingle Bells" with the CP Rail crew was illuminated by my flash, ruining any possible shots I might have been able to post here. Thanks go to Terry Hayes for the awesome picture...
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Photo of the Day December 1st


Happy December everyone! Although we aren't exactly "walking in a winter wonderland" outside with the relatively mild temperatures and frequent rain, it is still beginning to feel like Christmas. One sure sign that the holidays are almost here is that I said goodbye to Valeeta this evening... she and her family are leaving for Australia on Saturday to spend five weeks visiting with our wonderful friend Angeline and her family. Such a fantastic opportunity - they'll be together for not only Christmas but for several family birthdays, and it will be the first time Valeeta and her family will have met Angeline and Mark's young son Magnus. While my heart aches that I'm not able to share such a special time with two of my closest friends, I hope they have a wonderful time basking in the Australian heat on Christmas day, share hours of conversation throughout their visit, make lasting memories for both families, and enjoy lots of laughs. Happy holidays Angeline & Valeeta!
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Photo of the Day November 30th

Someone's feeling a bit sulky, despite her cool little fort
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Sophie is most unimpressed that her cousin and playmate Madison had to go back home to Woodville on Saturday night, and has been moping about since she left. Actually both girls weren't pleased - I heard Madison say more than once that she was staying here, regardless of whether Sandy and Lisa were leaving! Sadly for the kid crowd, they're not in charge of making those kinds of decisions, and the girls will have to suffer with being apart until the week of Christmas. I have the feeling that when we get up north for our holidays Sophie will take one step in the door of Sandy's house and disappear into Madison's room for hours, doing important kid stuff. 'Till then, I hope Sophie can keep her chin up!
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Photo of the Day November 29th

The "Gertrudes": front row from left to right: Kim, Lara, Valeeta, Jen and Fran. Back row from left to right: Tracy, me and Jenny.
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I got the opportunity to host the first Christmas party of the season this evening, and it was such fun! Each year my book club (formally called "How Novel", but informally and for reasons that don't make much sense, called "Gertrude") chooses the meeting date closest to the holidays for our annual party so we can discuss that month's book and enjoy some Christmas fun together. This month we've read "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein on my recommendation, which means that the job of hosting the Christmas book club falls to me - yahoo! In addition to talking about the novel we share a lovely pot-luck meal, pass around cards and little tokens (book marks are a popular choice), and participate in a "snatch and grab" style Secret Santa book exchange. Each time this group of women get together we have a wonderful time, but the Christmas meeting is always one of the most special gatherings - and with the party happening fairly early this year it's a wonderful way to officially kick off the Christmas season!
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Photo(s) of the Day November 28th


Talk about your ups and downs! We had so much fun yesterday... the girls and I spent the morning shopping for last-minute craft supplies, the afternoon making cards, and the evening out on the town. The evening was so special - we had arranged to take Sophie and her cousin Madison to The Little Gym for a 3-hour evening drop-in class and once we got them settled Chris, Sandy, Lisa and I went out for a lovely dinner at the Mythic Grill. It's a quaint little Greek place downtown on Albert St. - they serve one of the nicest Greek Village salads around, and their calamari is to die for! After getting the girls home and settled into bed, I introduced Sandy and Lisa to the "VIP Cinema"at Westmount, where we enjoyed drinks (you can order beer, mixed cocktails and everything!) and snacks delivered to our seats before spending two hours watching New Moon. I think the VIP Cinema is really the way to go if you want to watch this film without listening to the under-19 crowd of girls screaming at the screen when either Jacob or Edward take off their shirts... although the ripple of more "grown up" sounds that washed through the theatre (especially for Jacob) was still quite funny.
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Unfortunately our fun day ended there, and not just because it was after midnight but because my poor cousin Lisa fell ill as a result of an ongoing gall bladder issue, so both she and Sandy spent the night and much of today at the hospital making sure that Lisa's condition wasn't in need of immediate surgery. Not how we envisioned today going at all, needless to say. So I spent the day with Sophie and Madison, working on my cards here and there when I could... luckily Lisa and Sandy were home from the hospital in time for a nap and then to share a roast chicken dinner with us, but they've decided to head home tonight instead of tomorrow after church as originally planned. Hopefully Lisa will feel better after sleeping in her own bed, and this will be the last attack before her planned gall bladder surgery in January. Feel better sweet Lisa!!!
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Photo of the Day November 27th


I am in the midst of enjoying one of my favorite holiday traditions: the annual card-making weekend with two of my cousins. It's so much fun to spend time with Sandy and Lisa, and since we always schedule our weekend in November it's nice to know that the bulk of my Christmas card making work is done before December even begins! I won't give away anyone's designs (although I've already blogged about my card design this week, and my cards do seem to be taking up most of the table shown above), but I will say that they're just lovely... we've got quite the creative little family. I can't wait to start receiving their lovely designs in the mail this Christmas!
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Photo of the Day November 26th

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One of the major pieces of our holiday decorating was completed this afternoon while carols played in the background and we sipped chocolate eggnog (which the jury is still out on - sorry Presidents Choice). Laura joined us to decorate the tree - it's always a fun trip down memory lane, but this year was especially neat because we have some of Chris's moms old Christmas tree decorations which brought back a lot of memories for Laura as we unpacked them. We use a mish-mash of handmade and store bought, shiny new and weathered old decorations, and I think the overall effect is pretty charming. Chris's sister Mary and her kids joined us for dinner after the tree went up and we drew the names for our Christmas gift exchange, and with Sandy, Lisa and Madison on their way into town this evening for our annual card-making weekend it is truly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Photo of the Day November 25th


It's the 25th... which means one month from today will be Christmas! That said, the more focused-on date for Sophie at the moment is December 1st, because I've brought out her Advent calendar and she knows that she can't get into it until then. Last year I splurged on this large, book-style Advent calendar with it's pop-up tree at Starbucks knowing that I could save it for refilling... it was originally packed with chocolate truffles, but not surprisingly I found that a chocolate a day is excessive for someone of Sophie's age. This year I've alternated the treats - on even numbered days the window will open to reveal a chocolate, while on odd numbered days she'll discover a bouncy ball, rubber stamp, or little piece of jewelry instead. Sophie remembered the calendar the second she saw it and has been itching to start opening the little windows - I'm glad I put it up on the fireplace a few days in advance so the anticipation can build and I have time to prepare her for the alternating chocolate-prize-chocolate pattern she'll find when she does finally get into it.
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Photo of the Day November 24th


I have a running "to do" list that I've been crossing things off of furiously this week. As you can tell, much of the items on the list are Christmas-related, although there have been plenty of emails, projects for Sophie's school, and other family events to plan for. I'm thrilled to be crossing off one of the more time-consuming items on my list today - the Crackers we "pop" at (or shortly after) Christmas dinner. I think most people can remember a holiday meal where Crackers were laid out on the festively set table for everyone to open - it's something we've done in my mom's side of the family since at least when I was a small child and I can't ever remember a Christmas without them. The only problem with those crackers is the stuff you find inside them... usually cheap plastic toys made in China (sorry China), a slip of paper with a joke on it, and a paper crown that no one but the under-10 set is willing to wear. So all the excitement of the cracker is pretty much lost once you pop it, and I hate that. You must understand, I'm a bonafide holiday over-achiever and if something related to Christmas doesn't sit right with me it'll get under my skin until I fix it. The 'fix' to crappy prizes inside the crackers? Make them myself, and customize the contents to fit the audience. They're not hard to make really, as long as you plan ahead and start saving paper towel rolls a few months in advance... the paper strips that makes the "pop" sound when you pull them apart are available from craft stores, and the rest is up to your imagination. I make sure to put sugar-free candy inside the crackers going to diabetic members of our family, include trinkets and gifts that I think people will actually want (like lottery tickets or little hand-made items), and include quotes about the importance of family or the history of the holiday in place of those silly jokes. No paper crowns. They're a hit, and have become a special part of our family holiday tradition... the only challenge is that as our family grows, so does the scope of this project. This year's Christmas Cracker total is 17, all of which are labelled and packed up to be carried up north by Sandy and Lisa on Sunday. Another project off the list!
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Photo of the Day November 23rd

A detail from the Christmas Card I'll be making and sending out this year. If you want to see the entire image, click here.

I'd better warn you now... in the next week or so you're probably going to get bombarded with entry after entry about all the holiday prep that's going on at my house. But if this blog is to be a true reflection of what's happening around here each day, an overwhelming amount of Christmas projects will be what you see for the next while. I mentioned two days ago that an upcoming visit from my cousins was prompting me to get some wrapping done to send back up north with them, but I didn't mention the primary reason for their visit. Each year we get together for a weekend in November to work on our Christmas cards, and I'm excited that the weekend is almost upon us. I've been making my own Christmas cards for over a decade, my cousin Sandy started making her own about five years ago, then two years ago my cousin Lisa joined in as well. I'm converting them all, slowly but surely! It's quite the weekend, with hour after hour of paper cutting and folding, gluing and glittering, stamping and embellishing... fueled by eggnog, Thai take-out and chocolate. We each have generous Christmas card lists (last year I made 60), so putting together enough cards isn't a quick affair... but it's a fun one when you do it with people you love and enjoy spending time with!
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