Friday, February 26, 2010

Photo(s) of the Day February 24th

Welcome to Curacao!
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The colours of the floating market in Willemstad, where we picked up spices and fresh fruit
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Inside the amazing Hato Caves
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The architecture and colour of the Willemstad waterfront
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After enjoying a much-needed sleep in (did you see all the stuff we did yesterday?!) we did a bit of research about the one stop we promised ourselves to make in Curacao, the Hato Caves. We chose not to book an excursion to the caves through the cruise line because all of them combined several different stops that we didn’t think Sophie would have the patience for (old churches, fascinating rock formations, plantation homes, etc.) So the plan was to grab either public transportation or a cab to get to the caves, but we didn’t count on several things: 1) the oppressive heat, which we knew right off the bat would be a bad thing for Sophie, especially if waiting for a while at open-air bus stops was involved) 2) how long public transportation actually takes to get to the cave area (1 hr) and 3) how very expensive cabs are in Curacao ($25 one way to get there). So after some humming and hawing over the situation we decided to bite the bullet and pay for the cab, knowing that Sophie would be such a mess by the time we arrived at the caves on the public bus that we probably wouldn’t get her through a tour anyway. When we arrived at the caves we had about 10 minutes before the next tour left, so we were able to look around the site a bit on our own before meeting the rest of the tour group – the area is beautiful, overlooking an airport landing strip and the ocean, covered in cactus and amazingly formed rocks. Inside the caves the humidity is over 90%, so we were sweating buckets throughout the tour – but it was worth it. It was almost hard to believe that the caves were real – they were so beautifully formed and amazingly textured, with an underground lake and a beautiful cavern called “the cathedral” with a hole in the ceiling streaming light into the cavern below. And then there was one of the main things that attracted us to the caves in the first place: the bat cavern. Sophie’s quite focussed on bats lately – she and both Rhys and Rowan pretend to be bats all the time around the house, so we thought that seeing real fruit bats in their natural environment would be exciting for her. She liked the whole thing, with the exception of the little rocks that kept getting into her shoes – she was even able to handle the oppressive heat well. After the tour (and the $25 cab ride back to the pier) we dropped Sophie off at the Adventure Ocean kids club so Chris and I could wander around Willemstad for a bit revisiting some of the places that Chris remembered from when he visited the island as a teenager. His dad worked on the island for several years, so both he and Mary as well as their younger brother Paul visited Curacao in the past – in fact its appearance on the ports-of-call list was one of the reasons we chose the cruise we did. So while Sophie played we wandered the streets looking at the Dutch Colonial architecture, admiring the brightly coloured houses and shops, and people watching. We enjoyed a drink on an outdoor patio while listening to steel drum music, and returned to the ship happy and relaxed for dinner and a relatively early bed time. A lovely stop, and having spent the day in Curacao I’m sure it’s a place we’d like to revisit.

Other vacation notes for today:

As we were leaving the ship for the second time today, we saw an interesting sight: many men with large shipping crates and luggage racks headed up the gang plank, accompanied by a rather mature petite woman with big blond hair and a real shimmy in her walk. Charo has just arrived on our ship. What the heck?!?!?

Regarding the constant number of attractions, parties and parades happening on board the ship: Chris took a walk this evening while I was drifting off to dreamland, and came across the “Seventies Dancing in the Street Party”... a festival of music and dancing on the Royal Promenade that featured not only a some wild music and costumes but also a performance by cruise staff dressed as the Village people. Boy, my living room is going to seem mighty tame after this week...
o

Photo(s) of the Day February 23rd

Ready to snorkel with the Jolly Roger Pirate crew
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Mary shows us how to master the ship's rope swing!
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Our first island stop was today; we docked in Aruba around 8am and after breakfast we decided to take Sophie onto the island to walk around and check out the sights. Another note for future travels: Sophie is not a “wanderer”... the aimlessness of our path combined with the heat made for a grumpy girl about 15 minutes into our walk, and we ended up having to head back to the ship earlier than intended. A few minutes in the air conditioning combined with a cup of chocolate fudge ice cream brought her back to her normal self, and we decided to let her spend the afternoon in Adventure Ocean rather than exposing her to the constant heat on the island again. Chris also opted to spend the afternoon on the ship enjoying some quiet time while Mary, Courtney, Brandon and I went on a snorkelling excursion with the “Jolly Roger Pirates”. We hopped on an open-air bus that took us to a small pier off one of the beaches in the resort area of the island, and from there we boarded the Jolly Roger pirate ship. The sun was shining and the breeze was blowing as we sailed to the site of the Antilles shipwreck, where many of the passengers opted to get off and snorkel. Our group decided to stay put and watch because of the roughness of the seas at the site of the wreck, but we enjoyed the music and watching some of the other folks snorkel (or attempt to – as I mentioned, the water was pretty rough so several people got in only to get right back out.) Our second snorkelling stop was much calmer, and we all dove in and enjoyed watching the bright colourful fish dart in and out of the coral... it’s so easy to lose track of time and location when you’re snorkelling - more than once I found myself quite a ways from the Jolly Roger ship as I followed schools of fish. The time flew, but I managed to make it back to the ship before it sailed away and we headed to our next stop, a calm grotto where the crew pulled out a rope swing and invited us to take turns jumping off the boat and swinging out over the ocean, where you then let go and drop into the water below. Mary impressed us all by shooting up her hand when the captain asked who would like to try the swing first – after she lead the charge on the rope swing we had a blast watching people take turns swinging over the water (sometimes gracefully, sometimes not so much), and were amazed to watch the crew take turns doing complicated spins and amazing back flips into the water. A few times crew members even carried passengers on their backs when jumping off the ship with the swing – it was amazing to see!

Other vacation notes for today:

The Adventure of the Seas is one of the few cruise ships that feature an onboard ice rink, and they make the most of it by offering an ice show on two nights of the cruise. It’s incredibly popular, and the (free) tickets available for both performances were gone the morning they were offered. We were disappointed to have missed out, so since Mary had offered to have Sophie go to sleep in her cabin at the beginning of the night, Chris and I slipped down to the “Studio B” stage and waited in line for standby seats. We were in luck, and got to see the show despite our ticketless status – it was very well done, very artistic, and really just an amazing site when you consider that you’re floating on a ship in the middle of the Caribbean. After the show we slipped up to the pool deck to enjoy the “Carnival Under the Stars Deck Party”, complete with late-night buffet, Mardi Gras beads, masks and dancing. We are going to be so spoiled when we get home... aside from the wonderful food and complete lack of cleaning to be done, there’s at least one (if not several) fun events happening every night on board. What will we do when we get home and there’s no one to serve us four course meals every night? What will we do without a parade or party each evening???
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Photo(s) of the Day February 22nd

Enjoying our private balcony in the sun
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Brandon, Chris and Sophie tee off at the mini golf course
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The kids, all dolled up for formal night
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Sophie and our Room Steward Sidney
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Our first full day at sea... Chris was up before dawn and had the pleasure of watching the sun come up as we sailed past a large storm system that threw large waves up against the side of the ship. I woke and drifted, enjoying the rocking – Sophie slept through it as though she were drugged. After hooking up with Mary and the kids we hit the Windjammer for breakfast, where I was thrilled to find my favourite culinary cruising treat – a large platter of smoked salmon with my name on it. After breakfast Sophie opted to hang out at the pool with Aunt Mary and her cousins instead of walking with Chris and I, so we slathered our girl in SPF 50, popped her into a bikini and hit the road. This ship (Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas) is massive, and there’s just no end to the activities you can partake in if you want to do something other than laze by the pool or cosy up to the bar. Within a ten minute period we came across card tournaments, a basketball game, rock climbing, mini golf, inline skating, Mardi-Gras mask-making, and the Cruise Critic’s Meet & Mingle activity (which was what brought us to Deck 13 & 14 in the first place). The daily activity planner that’s delivered to the cabin is pages long, and in addition to the activities we stumbled upon this morning offers everything you could imagine: crazy pool-side contests, yoga classes, ice skating, spa services, gambling, art workshops, wine tastings, dance lessons, parades, concerts, Vegas-style shows, and so much more. You could spend every waking hour doing something on this ship and might not do/see it all in a week – it’s really something else. We chose to enjoy a round of mini-golf with Brandon and Sophie after lunch, and then took Sophie for her first visit to the Adventure Ocean kids area, which was a phenomenal hit. The kids programme here is wonderful, and I was relieved that it lived up to Sophie’s anticipation – we had talked to her about it several times, and I was worried that it might not be as great as she thought it would be... no worries there. At this point I think she wants to spend the rest of the cruise at Adventure Ocean and have us pick her up on the way to the airport! And the bonus for mom & dad? We actually enjoyed an afternoon nap while she played astronaut with the kid’s club leaders... talk about luxury!

Other vacation notes for today:

On our way to the pool this morning, we were graced with one of the most amazing sights: we watched dolphins leaping and spinning through the ship’s wake. They were beautiful, graceful and just looked like they were having so much fun... I’ve always had a “thing” for dolphins and watching them do their dance so close, in the wild – it almost brought tears to my eyes.

This evening’s “Formal night” was lovely... we all got dolled up in our finery (Chris and Brandon both in Tuxedos, the girls in formal dresses), but we left our primping too late to get portraits done before dinner - next formal night we need to be at least a half hour ahead of schedule so we can get our photos done. We can’t look this good and not have a record of it!!

Sophie is completely enamoured with our room steward, Sidney... she played very shy with him when we first met, but has come around in a big way. This evening when we turned the corner from the elevator into the long hallway that leads to our cabin she saw him down the hall and took off to him like a rocket, throwing herself into his arms when she caught up to him. This is the man who makes cool animals out of towels and leaves them on her bed – this man is a God in Sophie’s world!

Photo(s) of the Day February 21st

Flying over the Florida Keys – we’re not in Canada any more!

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Nunu Gabby and I keep Sophie entertained on the 4+ hour flight to San Juan

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Sophie and Daddy in the Cruise Ship Port, just after checking in
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And we’re off! Last night was spent at the Fairfield Inn in Romulus, Michigan – we had a suite with separate bedroom and sitting area so after packing Sophie off to bed (in theory at least) Chris and I ordered dinner and sat up watching Olympic coverage. Until we realized that Sophie was far too excited to actually sleep, and had been sitting up in bed watching the television’s reflection in the bedroom mirror, that is. About an hour and a half and a televised basketball game later, her excitement over the trip had relaxed enough to let her sleep – we all passed out to be ready for our 5:30 wake-up call. Breakfast and an airport shuttle later, we met up with Mary, Courtney and Brandon and boarded our flight for San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was uneventful and (because we were travelling with a four-year-old in need of fairly constant entertaining) felt long, but by 2:30pm we were in a cab and on our way to the cruise ship terminal. A few lessons either learned or reinforced during this trip: taking a cab from the airport is considerably faster and cheaper than using the cruise ship’s ground transportation, carrying your bags through the cruise ship terminal will get you dirty looks from the (tip-driven) baggage handlers but is preferred over waiting several hours to have your bags delivered to your cabin, and Rum Runners are a good thing. We settled in quickly and spent a bit of time looking around before dinner – got Sophie registered for the Adventure Ocean kids programme, suffered through the muster drill, and got a general idea of some of the tricks of the ship (ex. You cannot walk the length of the ship on deck 3 – to get from one end to the other you must go up to deck 4, walk across, and come back down to deck 3 again.) Dinner in the restaurant was lovely and our Waiter Rolvino (from India) and Assistant Waiter Andy (from Jamaica) were both charming. Sophie settled in with a very exhausted Aunt Mary for a few hours of sleep while Chris and I watched the ship sail away from San Juan and met up with some of our Cruise Critic friends at the Sky Bar for drinks and a few laughs before letting the ship rock us to sleep. Day 1 behind us, already our vacation has been great.
O

Friday, February 19, 2010

Photo of the Day February 19th


Yup - the bags are packed and waiting... we leave for our family cruise vacation tomorrow! Today was spent juggling some final volunteer events at Tecumseh (hosting the Coffee Drop-in for the month, finishing some meeting minutes, etc.), cleaning the house, pulling together our last-minute travel items and sending about a thousand emails to make sure all my bases are covered while I'm away. Just a few more hours and I can put it all behind me, relax and just enjoy some vacation time... please send me some good, stress-free vacation vibes!
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Photo of the Day February 18th


After my class at Tecumseh last night I went over to my friend Valeeta's house so we could have a proper visit for the first time since she's returned from her 5-week trip to Australia. We've managed to sneak in a quick coffee, and have chatted at our shared Book Club, but time to just sit on the couch and talk about whatever comes to mind was long overdue. So we sipped some coffee and exchanged (also long overdue) Christmas presents, talked about our kids and assorted trips, and shared several laughs. Valeeta brought home gifts from both herself and from our mutual friend Angeline, including the kangaroo duo shown above for Sophie. We may not have been able to travel to Australia, but it's awfully nice that a little bit of Australia has made its way to us!
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Photo of the Day February 17th


The area of London where I live is called "Old South", and it includes a particularly charming neighbourhood called Wortley Village. It's everything good that you'd picture a quintessential little village to be: well preserved old architecture, lots of services (grocery store, bank, restaurants, drug store, library, bakery, coffee shops, florist, etc) all within two easy-to-walk blocks, several green spaces, and neighbours who all seem to know each other's names. It's reputation is one of friendliness, it's vibe is artsy and welcoming, and easy access to it is one of the reasons we live where we do. The neighbourhood's in an uproar at the moment though, because a developer has purchased an empty lot and is planning to build the large, box-like modern condo development shown above. It's four stories tall (higher than local zoning actually allows), modern in design, and doesn't blend with the style of the neighbourhood at all - see below for an example of the typical "look" of Wortley Village. So, meetings have been called, letters have been written, and citizens are going door-to-door handing out flyers about the development - it will be interesting to see whether the voice of the public or the all-mighty-dollar have a louder voice in the decisions that will be made about the development from this point forward.


Photo of the Day February 16th


It was a day of supporting Tecumseh Public School for me... I helped tie skates for students in the morning, ran a committee meeting to discuss the information that new families receive when they join the school in the afternoon, and spent several hours with my School Council Co-Chair in the evening. Thank goodness for the fact that last meeting was held in part at Starbucks so I could keep caffeinated enough to carry on! Actually, I owe Starbucks thanks for more than just my yummy "skinny vanilla late" this evening - after a few discussions with the cafe manager I've gotten the promise of donations for the School Council Coffee Drop-in sessions we're holding at the school each month. This month we're getting "To Go" containers of both hot chocolate and tea, as well as a plate of goodies... so if the promise of interesting discussion at these Coffee Drop-ins doesn't bring parents in, the treats just might!
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Photo of the Day February 15th


Our friend Rhys came over today - an event much anticipated by both he and Sophie in the week or so leading up to his visit. It was a great day... we played board games, built block towers, played a heck of a game of hide & seek, read some books, and of course the kids played many imagination games (We're bats! We're dinosaurs! Can you guess what I am - listen to the kind of sound I make! Let's pretend to be dogs running really fast! - it goes on, and on, and on.) A highlight was going outside for some fresh air, where I "drew" lots of patterns in the snow for them - here you can see Sophie and Rhys making snow angels in front of a very large set of their initials. Once we got nice and chilly we came inside to make hot chocolate and play one last game of snakes & ladders before Rhys's mom came by to pick him up (and I fell down exhausted on the dining room floor!)
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Another message in the snow... I "heart" U
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Photo of the Day February 14th

Happy Valentines Day!!!
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There are moments, as a parent, when you just have to laugh - especially when your child does something wildly "kid-like" - the type of thing that only a child would ever think of doing because adults just simply don't see the world the same way. Today Sophie presented me with one of those moments while I was sewing bra cups into my swimsuit (I know, I know - my life is all about the glamour.) She picked up the one "cup" that had yet to be sewn in, threw it on her head, and paraded around the house proudly telling us to look at her new hat. As you can tell from the photo she was a bit miffed when I doubled over in laughter, but I made it up to her by getting in on the fashionable action myself. Having kids = never looking at things the same way again!
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Oh, I know I look good!
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Photo of the Day February 13th


To kick off Valentine's Day weekend right, I made Chris and Sophie heart shaped pancakes this morning. The truth is we're really not doing much to celebrate Valentine's Day this year - with our family vacation just a week away (yahoo!!!) we're watching our pennies, and Chris and I decided that we could carve out some romantic time for the two of us while we're away: our Valentine's celebration can happen then. I've picked up Sophie a little box of chocolates from mom and dad though, and Chris and I will exchange cards... to use the most appropriate acronym for the occasion we're going to KISS (Keep It Simple Silly)!
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Photo of the Day February 12th

I've interrupted the artist at work by taking a picture... sorry buddy!
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Sophie's far too involved in her decorating to notice the paparazzi
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As mentioned in yesterday's post, I continued the rash of cookie decorating by icing cookies with Rowan and Sophie this afternoon. It's so funny to watch them because they take their decorating jobs SO SERIOUSLY... they are miniature artists at work, and heaven forbid they be distracted from their very important jobs! They each worked their way through at least eight cookies while I helped, and I also managed to get a dozen more cookies decorated for Chris to take to work tonight... a very busy and artistic time was had by all. Once Chris leaves for work my evening should be a quiet one (for the first time this week!)... Sophie will be over at Aunt Mary's for a sleepover and I'll have the place to myself. I will NOT be making or decorating cookies, I'll tell you that much! I plan to enjoy a quiet dinner, then settle in to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games with a glass of wine... get a good (uninterrupted) night's sleep, and enjoy the first sleep-in I've had in a very long time. It's my reward for getting through a completely crazy week... bring it on!
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Update: Well, it seemed like a good idea anyway. After several hours at Aunt Mary's Sophie called me on the phone in tears to say that she needed her Mommy. My heart breaks, and Aunt Mary brings Sophie back home again. So, no sleep-in for me tomorrow after all - but at least my little babe is home in bed, sleeping quietly and happily, having nothing but good dreams. Mommy's soon to follow, with visions of Olympic glory dancing in my head. G'night all!
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Photo of the Day February 11th


To paraphrase: if I never see another cookie, it will be too soon. My house was cookie central today, the result of a rash of baking-related things I volunteered to do. I'm teaching a cookie decorating class for kids this evening through Tecumseh Community School, and I included in my class description that the cookies would be supplied - which meant baking not only a few "sample" cookies for me to decorate, but 60 additional cookies for my students. When I found out that Sophie's Valentine's party was being held on Friday I figured I was baking cookies anyway, so I volunteered to bring in enough cookies for the entire class. Then my friend Julie mentioned the Cake and Cookie Raffle she was organizing on Friday and I figured... if I'm already baking I might as well make some extra cookies for that, right? And I have Rowan tomorrow - he'd love to decorate cookies as an activity with Sophie and I, so I'll throw in a few extra... and what about some to send to work with Chris on Friday evening? Basically, I baked myself into a corner and realized that I needed at least 11 dozen cookies to live up to the commitments I'd made - do you want to take a guess at what my entire day looked like today? If your guess included icing sugar and flour drifting through the air and my fingers being stained with food colouring you'd be right on the money! After all the baking and decorating was done I headed to the school where I spent an hour with six very excitable girls decorating cookies... the shower I had before bed probably put more sugar into the sewer system than it did water!
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Photo of the Day February 10th


You know what I think? I think that when you find yourself in a state of panic over whether you can get to your meditation class on time or not, it's time to reevaluate your lifestyle. That was my situation today, as I rushed through a day of volunteer work, a dress fitting and visit with my mother-in-law, shopping for supplies for the class I'm teaching tomorrow, Sophie's dance/gymnastics class at The Little Gym, picking Chris up from work, my "Pranic Healing and Meditation" class, and parent-teacher interview night. It was all just too much, and something had to give - that something ended up being the meditation class. No matter how I swung it I would have been late and would have to attend without eating dinner first - neither of which would have put me in the calm and reflective state-of-mind necessary to complete the session. So, a readjustment of the schedule resulted in an hour at home to make and eat dinner before heading out to Parent-Teacher interviews, where I snapped the above picture from a Kindergarten door. This week the kids are celebrating the combination of Valentine's Day and their 100th Day in school, which lends itself nicely to the creative project one of the Teachers came up with. Reading that one of the "100 Things We Love..." is "my mom" was a nice way to wrap up a crazy day - for this mom anyway.
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Photo of the Day March 9th


Skating days are back at Sophie's school, and it's such fun to be a part of... I volunteer to tie skates on any of the skating days that I'm available so I get to watch the pleasure the kids get from their time on the ice. As we know, Sophie isn't the bravest of girls... so her skating is relegated to holding the back of a chair while she works at gaining confidence on the ice - but I'm so proud of her for getting out there and trying even though I know she finds it more than a bit intimidating. She and her classmates either speed (for the kids who've been skating for a while) or toddle (for the newer skaters) around the ice having so much fun - I'm thrilled that her school works skating in to their curriculum.
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Photo(s) of the Day February 8th

February 8th: AKA the day of both endings and beginnings.

Part of my past...
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... and part of my future.
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Oh, how funny life is... in addition to the events of yet another busy day (Rowan was here, I hosted a newsletter meeting at the school, etc) I saw the end of one adventure and the start of another, all in a single day.
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As mentioned earlier, I've decided to give up my Demonstratorship with Stampin' Up - not an easy decision, but one I've come to peace with. At the end of last month I offered my Demonstrator discount to anyone who would like to place an order, and finished off my relationship with Stampin' Up by making a rather large purchase - the UPS van pulled up in front of my house this morning to deliver the goods (see picture 1). And, for the past several weeks I've been mentioning to people that I'm interested in a new challenge - something work-wise that I could do and enjoy, that would allow me to still spend the majority of my time with Sophie. My sister-in-law Laura mentioned the company that she works for might be hiring, and within a week I'd spoken to a representative, forwarded my resume, completed a phone interview and (as of this evening) was hired. I'm very pleased to say that I will now be one of two Demonstrators representing Luma Events (see picture 2) in the London region - a job which involves hosting occasional wine and beer tasting events at LCBO locations and trade shows. Those of you who know me will realize what a great fit this is for me... I am a real "people person", enjoy teaching, and have a great appreciation for good wine - it all comes together for this role. I'll start in March after we return from vacation... and of course to celebrate I went out and bought a bottle of Yellow Tail Chardonnay, one of the wines that Luma Events often hosts tastings for. Cheers to the end of one adventure and the beginning of the next!
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Photo of the Day February 7th

My constant companion today...
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Truth is, this posting comes almost a week after the 7th... but this has been such a crazy week that it's the first time I've had to sit down and get both my photos and my thoughts down. It was a very busy day, with the Tecumseh P.S. newsletter due to be released in the morning... I took the time for a much needed chat with my Dad in Montreal part way through the day, but aside from that break it was pretty much non-stop computer work from morning through night. The newsletter looks great though - due in large part to the hard work done by my partner Julie today. We make a great team Julie and I... we each bring something different to the formatting/writing/editing table, but share a common love and dedication to our children's school. It's been my pleasure working with her for the past two + years, and I hope the opportunity continues for many years to come!
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Photo of the Day February 6th


That little amaryllis that Sophie's been nurturing has finally come to bloom, and she's completely enthralled. It looks as though there are three or four buds at the top of the stalk, and another small stalk is just starting to grow with what clearly is a bud on top - so we're expecting that the next few days will be filled with the lovely blooms as they open. Thank heavens that Sophie's inherited her Grandmother's plant sense instead of her moms!
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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Photo of the Day February 5th

Sophie proudly wears the head of a paper dragon in "China"
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Sophie and three other students participate in the four-man-bobsled in "Norway"
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I spent this morning at Tecumseh being incredibly impressed by the lengths the school's teachers will go to make learning fun for their students. Today they held a "Primary Olympic Rotation", where all the students from JK through Grade 3 went from classroom to classroom to learn a bit about some of the countries participating in the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympic Games. In "Italy" they made a pizza craft and listened to Italian music, in "France" they learned and sung French folk songs, in "Greece" they got a quick history lesson about the Olympic Games and made a paper torch... it was lots of fun for everyone (including me!) Events like this are part of what makes Tecumseh such a wonderful place to learn, and motivate Sophie to want to be at school each day.
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Photo of the Day February 4th

Sophie "playing" with her Speech Therapist Suzanne
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Sophie just had her last speech therapy appointment of a series at the Thames Valley Children's Centre, so we're going to work on what they call "home program" for the next four months or so before having one final round of one-on-one therapy. In the structure of speech therapy services in London, the entry to Senior Kindergarten marks a transition of care from the Thames Valley Children's Centre to the School Board, which I'm a bit concerned about. We've been so pleased with the therapy that Sophie's gotten through the TVCC, and I really appreciate the length and consistency of the appointments (45 minutes once a week), the fact that I can be involved in each session, and the constant communication I've had with both of Sophie's therapists. While I hope that everything will run smoothly at the school as well, I am concerned that the Speech Pathologist only works at Tecumseh one day a week and has to see every child with speech needs in the stretch of that single day... it's got to be a lot to handle, and I worry that the attention Sophie gets may not be as focused. So I'll do my part to advocate on her behalf - I've already gotten the name and email address of the Speech Pathologist who looks after Tecumseh and I'm going to send her an email introducing myself and telling her a bit about Sophie. I'll ask if I can attend her sessions, and I'll continue working with Sophie at home as well... I'll do whatever I can to help Sophie get the most effective assistance for her speech issues - wish me luck.
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Photo(s) of the Day February 3rd

Sophie used both her chopstick and her hands...
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Rowan is a study in concentration while he mixes colours...
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Sophie, Rowan and I decided to do a good old-fashioned messy craft yesterday afternoon, and after laying down plastic garbage bags and donning "paint shirts" we started making some amazing artwork. The supplies are simple - a can of sensitive-skin shaving cream, several shades of food colouring, a couple of chopsticks and the imagination of a child. We had rainbows, and mountains, and a cave for dinosaurs to live in with a river outside it - we had a huge ice cream sundae, and a volcano, and a coral reef for fish to swim through. It's so much fun to watch the kids use their imaginations like that... they get completely absorbed in the little worlds they're creating!
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Photo & Video of the Day February 2nd

Finding the upside of the evening's drama: Sophie gets to sit in a fire truck!

Last night held far more excitement than I prefer, I must say. We had an oven fire as we were cooking dinner, and the house quickly filled with thick grey smoke... followed shortly thereafter by large yellow-clad firemen. The completely ridiculous part was that the whole thing was caught on camera, as my cousin Lisa and I were in the middle of an Instant Messenger conversation with our webcams turned on when the whole thing went down. We moved rather quickly from when Chris wandered into the kitchen (where I had the netbook on the counter and was chatting with Lisa) to say "I think the pizza's smoking a bit - maybe we should open the back door" to our quick evacuation scenario... Lisa was giving her sister Heather the play-by-play while the webcam caught the whole thing:
  • "Wow - the whole kitchen's filling with smoke!"
  • "Oh, I think Chris is calling 911 now"
  • "Sophie's got her hands over her ears - I bet the fire alarm's going off"
  • "There they go..."
  • "Oh geez I'm getting seasick!!" (I grabbed the netbook, IM conversation still active, and ran it to the front door)
  • "Sophie's putting her boots on - oh, Summer's going back in" (grabbing keys, wallets, glasses, and Sophie's fish Red - I didn't bother rounding up the cats since the front door was open)
  • "Okay guys, good luck and for heaven's sake call us to let us know you're alright when this is all over!!!"
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Cue the firetrucks: 4 of them, which arrived in under 2 minutes - yay for the London Fire Department! By the time they arrived to find Chris, Sophie, Red the fish and I out on the front porch, the fire had pretty much put itself out - one of the benefits of having a fire inside the oven where the oxygen levels are low. The crew helped open all the doors and windows, found the cats and brought them out, installed a high-powered fan at our front door to push all the smoke out, and tested carbon monoxide levels - all in a matter of less than 10 minutes. Amazing work... and most of them commented that our pizzas actually still looked pretty good, all things considered! As shown above, the fire crew let Sophie (who despite being understandably freaked out at the start of the drama, really handled herself amazingly well) climb into the firetruck and "drive" for a bit while they were gathering up their supplies to leave. So, despite the rather pervasive smoke smell, the bits of black yuck sprinkled around the kitchen and some very freaked out cats, the whole event turned out far better than it might have. 'Course, we ended up having to order pizza for dinner...
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video
There's not much to it, but since one of the things I grabbed was the video camera I grabbed a quick clip of the scene from our front porch... the "poor thing" I'm talking about to the fireman at the beginning of the clip was our cat George, who was in Chris's arms, claws dug in, none too impressed by the drama...
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Photo of the Day February 1st

One of the "green" areas at Lord Roberts Public School
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I'm shivering... cold to the bone after spending the several hours outside looking at school yards. I started the morning attending a meeting with several school representatives and a landscape architect to look at locations for a new "outdoor classroom" at Tecumseh. Outdoor classrooms are areas created throughout the school yard out of logs or rocks set up in an amphetheatre-style seating arrangement, and bushes and trees incorporated for both shade and wind-break purposes. Tecumseh recently recieved a Metro Green Apple grant which will be matched by ReForest London and should allow us to purchase three new trees and the other supplies needed to create such a space. With input from students, School Council and Home & School we discussed locations, traced outlines in the snow and debated the merits of different styles of trees and shrubs for our purposes - a conversation that lead to a field trip to Lord Roberts Public School. The Landscape Architect who will do up the plans for the Tecumseh renovation was involved in work at Lord Roberts as well and mentioned a certain type of evergreen that was used that might meet our requirements - so off we went to check them out. They seem perfect, so now all that remains is the paperwork and waiting for bureaucratic approval... and my need to warm up!
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Photo(s) of the Day January 31st

Waiting patiently for the show to begin
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We picked up some souvenir Mickey Mouse binoculars at the Disney Live gift shop so Sophie could see the action close-up
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Sophie's very special day yesterday included not only her recital at The Little Gym, but also an exciting concert... I took her to see "Disney Live!" at the John Labatt Centre. I purchased the tickets in October after she very excitedly showed me an advertisement for it... and somehow she just knew we were going despite the fact we didn't tell her until Christmas. Every few weeks or so from October through December she'd come up to me at random times and say (in a sweet, coy little sing-songy voice) "Remember what you promised Mommy? You promised we could go see Disney Li-ive!" I think she got a big kick out of me saying "I didn't promise that! I said maybe..." every time she'd bring it up... and when Christmas finally came around it was so much fun to tell her that we were indeed going to the show. She loved it, and I loved watching her love it... what a great mommy-daughter date!
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Photo of the Day January 30th


What a special day for Sophie...today is her "Show Week" performance at The Little Gym. Show week marks the end of a semester (20 weeks) of classes, and gives family and friends the opportunity to come into the gym to watch a formal performance. The kids have been practicing for weeks, and with Nanny and Aunt Laura in the audience Sophie and her friends performed a ballet routine, a tap routine, and executed a series of moves on both the balance beam and uneven bars. Sophie's still pretty scared to be up on the beam, and is only willing to do the "hanging" style moves on the uneven bars (no flipping over the bar for her), but it's still a great improvement over what she was doing at the beginning of the semester. At that point she wouldn't even walk on the low-to-the-ground balance beam without holding the instructors shirt in a death-like grip - if he'd move away even a couple of inches she'd freeze and wail for him to come back. She's been doing well in the dance room, and was even practicing some of her moves here at home (I've been humming "Hawaiian Rainbow", her ballet routine song, for weeks now!) She's definitely making progress, and I look forward to seeing what the next semester might bring...
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Photo of the Day January 29th


The quest to plan my cousin Heather's wedding stationary continues... we've worked out the design for the invitations and reply cards, and are now talking about thank you cards, favour tags, menus and more. I love the designing aspect of this project, but the math part isn't quite as much fun - Sophie snapped this picture of me sketching page layouts and trying to figure out how much card stock and ribbon I'll need (quick: what's 7" x 114 + 8" x 114? Now what's that in yards instead of inches?) Early-morning math... why am I not smiling?
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