Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photo of the Day March 31st

I spent last night at the first session of a 7-week Nia class, which could best be described as a combination of dance, tai chi, and yoga. This is my first time taking Nia - I really enjoyed myself and was surprised to feel how deeply the muscles in the backs of my legs were stretched from some of the moves we practiced. I'm so glad my Mother-in-Law Shirley was able to come over and stay with Sophie while I attended the class, since Chris was at work... shortly after I arrived back home I wrestled Sophie into her pajamas and whisked her off to a very late bedtime - but not until she enjoyed some cuddles with Nanny first!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Photo of the Day March 30th

April showers are indeed upon us despite the fact that it's still technically March... the weather forecast for the rest of the week is showers, followed by drizzle, with a few breaks for rain. Even more horrifying than the rain is the dumping of snow we got over night - I thought we had put that behind us! It's no wonder I've been craving warm and hearty comfort food lately, and last night I put together a Simple Salmon Pot Pie to fulfill that craving. It's easy to make and super yummy, with a golden glistening crust... a nice warm end to a cold dreary day.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Photo of the Day March 29th

Sophie has been asking to go swimming for a couple of weeks now, but for one reason or another we just haven't been able to go. This morning I surprised Sophie with the news that we were going to head over to South London Community Pool after lunch for a swim, and she was so excited that she wanted to find our towels and pack our pool bag immediately (despite the fact we hadn't even had breakfast yet!) Her favourite pool towel was a gift from her Great Aunt Kathy and "Unca" Wayne, and is covered in an assortment of brightly coloured silly creatures... here, one of them watches expectantly as Sophie runs around the house gathering our pool supplies.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photo of the Day March 28th

Happy "Earth Hour" everyone... from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM we joined millions of people world-wide powering down all our lights and appliances in an effort to conserve energy and see what a big difference just one hour can make. I was reminded during this year's Earth Hour just how pretty everything looks by candle light, although Chris claims that barbecuing by candle light leaves much to be desired! I know I learned a lot during the lead up to Earth Hour last year... I was surprised how many "Vampire" power sources we had around the house, like the cell phone recharger we always left plugged into the wall so it would be in the same place whenever we wanted to use it. I found it a lot easier to power everything down this year, since we've reduced some of our "always on" electrical appliances already... How did Earth Hour go for you?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photo of the Day March 27th

Finally, a sunny day! After picking Sophie up from Preschool this morning we decided to spend some time outside enjoying the great weather. Unfortunately for her our plans didn't include bringing our cat Georgie outside with us, and she made her displeasure well known by yowling at us through the windows... here, Sophie and Rowan take a moment out of play time for a window visit with poor, house-bound Georgie.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Photo of the Day March 26th

Another cold, gray day... I know Spring has sprung according to the calendar, but I'm just not feeling it yet. I hope that the Spring-themed card class I'm teaching on Saturday will get me into a warm mood, but until then I'll have to keep upping my warmth with drinks like Chai tea, which my husband makes for us on cold days. Here a pot with the chai tea bags, milk, cinnamon, cloves and pepper heat on the stove - once strained it's a warming treat both in temperature and spice level.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photo of the Day March 25th

Today was a special day at Sophie's Preschool, because she got to be the "Book Buddy" of the day. She got to choose one book from home to bring in to school, and during circle time the Teacher read her book to the rest of the class. Sophie's current favourite seems to be anything by Doctor Seuss, so I was surprised when she chose this Eric Carle book instead. "The Mixed Up Chameleon" is a funny and very visual story about a chameleon who wishes he could be like a huge assortment of other animals, and finally comes to the realization that just being himself is much better. Great art, great message...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Photo of the Day March 24th

The colours and textures of this painting, a Tiano piece we purchased in the Dominican Republic, are so warm and vibrant that I can't help but think of warm weather when looking at it. Today is so very cold and I could use a dose of sunshine, so I'm glancing at it every time I pass it by. If thinking warm thoughts works, I'm sure to raise our local temperature by at least 5 degrees this afternoon!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Photo of the Day March 23rd

Here she is! Sophie and I had a wonderful time meeting baby Alexis this weekend... it was a great opportunity to not only see my beautiful cousin Heather (Alexis's mommy) and the rest of my family, but also to meet some relatives from Shawn's (Alexis's daddy) side of the family. Alexis is such a physical mix of both Heather and Shawn, with dashes of other family features thrown in... it's so much fun watching bits and pieces of our family show up on the faces of our children.

Photo of the Day March 22nd

I'm getting ready to welcome a new little member of our family... the baby shower for Alexis, my cousin Heather's new daughter, is today! This happy little Winnie-the-Pooh holds a couple of the gifts Sophie helped me pick up for the baby, who was born while my mother and I were away in the Dominican Republic - this weekend marks the first time that we get to meet her. I'm so proud of Heather, who went through her labour and delivery with the support of a midwife and without medication... we thank God that both she and little Alexis are healthy and happy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Photo of the Day March 21st

You know the old saying... you can buy the most expensive toy in the store for a child and they'll unwrap it and play with the box instead? I'm always interested in the things that can absorb Sophie, many of which fall outside the store-bought-toy category. At a recent trip to the playground at Tecumseh Public School, the rocks that surround the monkey bars held almost as much interest for her as the playground itself. Sure, we did the traditional climbing and sliding... but making big piles of rocks and knocking them over, sending rocks down the slide, and banging rocks on assorted pieces of equipment to see the different sounds they make really ended up being the centrepiece of the trip. The perspective of a child... it reminds us to actually look at the small things around us that we often take for granted.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo of the Day March 20th

Happy First Day of Spring!


In honour of the first day of spring (and in defiance of the snow on the ground outside) the kids and I pretended to be seeds today. This sort of game is Sophie's favourite - any time she can pretend to be a puppy, kitty, butterfly, bumblebee, character from a movie or anything else we can come up with, she's in heaven! As seeds, we were planted in the ground waiting for spring and as the weather got warmer we would grow up out of the ground and turn into beautiful flowers, stretched up as tall as we could go toward the sun. At some point in the game our friend Rowan decided that flowers should be near something that looked vaguely like a garden, and started "growing" up behind an empty floral-themed wine rack in our dining room... Here he is half-grown, sure to be a giant sunflower in a matter of minutes!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Photo of the Day March 19th

I have such happy memories of visiting the Sugar Bush this time of year when I was a kid, and one of the great things about being a parent is the opportunity to revisit all your old childhood favourites to see how they've changed. The Sugar Bush is much like I remember it, although they've modernized their tapping and sap transportation methods a bit... while some of the trees have the traditional faucet-style taps and metal buckets, most of them are rigged as shown above, with a web-like network of hoses whisking the sap off to what I've always just called the "Sugar Shack". We worked off part of our delicious pancake brunch walking through the woods checking out depictions of the many different eras of maple syrup production, including the original Native method, the style used by English settlers, and today's more modern production. It's a trip I know we'll make again, and I hope one day Sophie will look back as fondly on the experience as I do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photo of the Day March 18th

One of the fun things about March Break is the sudden proliferation of great things to do with kids around London, and we took some time today to enjoy one of them. For the duration of March Break, Little Ray's Reptile Zoo of Ottawa Ontario has set up shop on the second floor of Westmount Mall. It's a rescue zoo often taking in wild animals that misguided people have tried to keep as pets, and it travels throughout Ontario teaching children about reptiles, amphibians and birds of prey and the importance of keeping them in their natural environments. We got to pet a crocodile and a skunk, and enjoyed checking out an assortment of other creatures including an anaconda, a horned owl, and some very large tortoises. Above, an iguana checks us out with apparent interest...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Photo of the Day March 17th

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It may not be the same blue sky as I saw in the Dominican, but it sure is nice to see that deep blue glowing over the fence around South Secondary School's football field. It seems that the weather is warming up, finally... and we're in for more cloudless days as this week leads us toward the first day of spring.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photo of the Day March 16th

A day of "R&R" (our little friends Rhys and Rowan) combined with the warmer weather and bright sunshine made it impossible for us to stay inside today. So off to the park we went, with Sophie and Rhys leading the way, hand in hand. We enjoyed the weather and burned off lots of 1 and 3-year-old energy taking the scenic route to and from the park and giving the monkey bars and slides a good work out.

Photo of the Day March 15th

On a day this beautiful, you feel like you can fly...

I'm determined not to talk about still being ill in this post so I'm focusing on the bright side, and what a bright side it is!!! The bright sun, the blue sky, the warmth on our faces... and going for a walk through Old South without our coats on! Yes, it's still "heavy sweater weather" and Sophie wore a hat and scarf while we were out - but to be out on a day like today just makes your heart happy. I'm so glad spring is just around the corner...

Photo of the Day March 14th

I've had my ticket for over a month for today's huge Stampin' Up Regional Seminar being held at the London Convention Centre, and I'll be darned if being sick (still - can you believe that!?!?) was going to stop me from going. It was a great event... excellent speakers, great demonstrations, lots of fun card projects to work on and an amazing group of women (and men) sharing their creative ideas and having fun. Here are two of the projects I made during the seminar, and there are even more projects I'm excited to work on when I have a bit of extra time and am feeling well enough to pull out my stamping supplies. If you're interested in seeing other great cards like these, learning stamping tips and tricks, picking up some scrap booking ideas or reading more about the classes I teach, please visit Summer's Creative Corner!

Photo of the Day March 13th

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

I have to confess, I'm still quite sick and not really taking many photos as a result. So, in honour of the slightly "spooky" nature of Friday the 13th, I decided to post this interesting shot from last week's Dominican trip... I took it late at night as my mother and I were walking along the Playa Dorada beach, and having forgotten to use my night setting ended up with a very interesting, almost ghost-like image. Seems appropriate for the day!

Photo of the Day March 12th

One of the great things about having my mom around for a few days following our trip is that she's able to spend lots of quality time with Sophie... they've both been enjoying their time together and will be sad to see it come to an end. Mom's bed time story reading abilities have certainly been put to the test, as Sophie's going through a huge Dr. Seuss faze at the moment - I think she'll head back home with her tongue thoroughly twisted, finding herself slipping into rhyme at the drop of a hat (the drop of the Cat in the Hat's hat, perhaps?) Hmmm... it may be affecting me as well!

Photo of the Day March 11th

The day following my arrival home wasn't exactly photo-worthy... I spent most of it at St. Joseph's Urgent Care Centre having my assorted stomach issues checked out. Rather than bore anyone with photos of waiting room after waiting room after waiting room, here's one of my little angel taken while I was away. It was her final "ballet babies" class this week, and one of the few sessions that parents are allowed to attend. In typical fashion, Chris cheered Sophie on along with Nanny, Aunt Mary and cousin Courtney... it seems wherever Sophie goes a crowd of adoring fans or paparazzi follow her!

Photo of the Day March 10th

Time to head for home... normally the bitter-sweet feeling of regretting the end of a vacation while longing to be at home with loved ones once again; this time a nightmare. If you haven't travelled while battling a viscous gastrointestinal illness, I suggest you skip the experience. I give full credit to the wonderful flight attendants at Air Transat, who were kind enough to rearrange our seating so I could be directly next to a bathroom and were constantly offering me cold, wet cloths for my head, gingerale, etc. They even arranged a wheelchair escort from the gate to customs for me so I wouldn't have to make the long haul on foot - angels, every single one of them. When we finally arrived home more than 12 very long hours after leaving that morning, it was so nice to be greeted by the colourful artwork of my sweet daughter Sophie (with help from Daddy, of course) on our front door. It may not have made my stomach feel any better, but it did my heart a world of good.

Photo of the Day March 9th

As much as I would like to end the vacation portion of my blogging on a warm and peaceful note, I cannot. The photos on my camera end abruptly yesterday, since last night I began to feel ill and have spent all of today either in the bathroom or in bed. What a waste of a day... the sun is shining, the birds (like our little balcony visitor shown above) are singing, and I know that we have to pack up and be waiting for our bus bright and early in the morning. I would like nothing better than to spend the day out enjoying the sun, but instead it passes me by in a haze of stomach cramping and restless sleep. I had been careful in many ways, even brushing my teeth with bottled water "just in case", but obviously it wasn't enough - I'm paying for some sort of gastronomic indiscretion now.

Photo of the Day March 8th

Sunday has come, and knowing that it's our second-last day we decided to enjoy a nice long walk around the resort and the Playa Dorada beach area, enjoying some of the lovely architecture and beautiful foliage. This quiet path covered in a canopy of leaves leads to the mangrove separating our resort from the beach... I already had a photo of it in my mind, but allowed myself to fall behind to snap this shot of my mother on our journey through the leaves.

Photo of the Day March 7th

A sunny Saturday in the Dominican Republic, but I'm missing the "lights of my life" at home... .

Mom and I took a walk on the beach this afternoon, checking out some of the resorts to the right of ours. A couple of evenings ago after dinner we walked down the beach to the left, checking out the architecture of the resort buildings, and even popping into one that was open to the water (I felt like such a trespasser!). The Playa Dorada area is packed with vacationers sunning themselves, playing in the sand, swimming etc. and locals selling everything from trinkets to carvings to hair-braiding services - it makes for some great people watching. At night, the lights from the resorts cast dancing shadows across the beach, and music from beach side stages floats through the air... it's an all-sensory evening experience.

Photo of the Day March 6th

How's this for a nice thing to come "home" to? We came back at our room following lunch today, ready to change into our swim suits and head for the pool, and found this little treat waiting for us! Freshly cut melon, pineapple and papaya along with a bottle of local rum to enjoy... I cannot think of when the last time was that I came home from running errands or taking Sophie to a class to find a treat like this left by little elves! Sigh... I wonder if I can bring the elves home with me in my luggage???

Photo of the Day March 5th

The rain, which we were told tends to come and go quite quickly just to break the heat and refresh everyone, has actually not stopped falling since we arrived. Then today - a break! It didn't last long (maybe for an hour or so) but we finally saw and felt that famed Dominican sun. Oh, did it ever feel great... as you can tell by my mother's outstretched arms, catching the first rays of our vacation this morning.

Photo of the Day March 4th

Above: A shot of me on the balcony off our living room, taken by my mother who's standing on the balcony off our bedroom. Tee hee!
Our vacation has officially presented some "challenges", which thankfully were resolved quite satisfactorily by around 4pm today. It began with our room assignment yesterday, which after being redirected a couple of times due to guests who didn't vacate their room despite the fact they were supposed to have left quite early that day (are you allowed to do that?!?!?), ended up being the exact opposite of what we had requested. Our request was pretty simple: a room that wasn't on the main floor, had two beds, and was in a quieter area of the resort (ex. not overlooking the main bar or something). We got a room on the main floor with only one bed and a balcony that overlooked a local nightclub just across a busy access road. That frustration combined with the near-constant rain that's come down since we arrived (and which flooded our room twice during the night by the way) put us in a pretty grumpy mood. Thank God for Amparo, a guest services representative who went above and beyond and ended up repositioning us in the Club Premium area of the resort. It was like moving to another resort all together - the room is actually like an apartment (with two separate balconies!) on the third floor overlooking a mangrove. The area also has a private 40-person Jacuzzi, an open-air bar, and some much needed peace and quiet. We're very happy vacationers now!

Photo of the Day March 3rd

Today was the big day - my mother and I began our vacation in the Dominican Republic! And what a loooooooong day it was... our Robert Q airbus picked us up at my home at shortly after midnight, which I tend to think of as Monday night since we hadn't been to bed yet. I thought for sure I would sleep on the airbus which didn't arrive at the airport until after 3am, but I guess the excitement kept me up. I was pretty pooped by the time our flight left Toronto shortly after 6am so I did manage about an hour and a half of sleep on the plane, the only downside being that it was during the in flight movie "Twilight" which I had really been looking forward to seeing! After enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery on the way from the airport to the Barcelo Puerto Plata resort, we found ourselves waiting at one of the plentiful bars for our room to be ready. Cheers to our first day of vacation!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Photo of the Day March 2nd

My last "Photo of the Day" post for a week or so... I'll post some pictures of the Dominican Republic when I return home!

Sophie loves pretending to be different animals, with her current faves being puppies, kitties, fish, birds, and sea turtles. Whenever she's "being" an animal, she likes to pretend to eat the same food they do, but sometimes I'll surprise her by turning her food into the animal she's pretending to be. This afternoon she's being a kitty, so I took some extra time to make her a "kitty peanut butter and honey sandwich" complete with crust whiskers... how cute is that?!?!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Photo of the Day March 1st

How can it be March already??? I can't believe February is already behind us... despite the somewhat gloomy weather it seems to have flown by.
One of the events that peppered our February calendar was the "Grown-ups only" Kub Kar Race to support Scouts Canada, held at Chaucers Pub here in London. Chris hasn't been involved in a Kub Kar race since being a Cub Scout himself (we won't mention how many years ago), and with friends of ours leading the charge he decided to give it a go. In homage to his work with the Ontario Provincial Police, Chris carved and painted up a cruiser from the Middlesex OPP (hence the little "blooper" behind the rear wheel), complete with little flashing lights on the top. Although his car may not have won the race, he had a great time and learned a few things for next year... a fun way to end the month!