Friday, November 21, 2014

Ahoy My Mateys!

A few weeks ago Sam and Rachel were invited to the birthday party of one of Rachel's preschool classmates. B's mom, K, and I are on the preschool board together and have gotten to know each other better over the past year or so. B has an older sister whose name also begins with B (!), and she and Sam were in the same KinderPrep class a few years ago. Sam and Rachel really enjoy playing with these kids so we were all looking forward to the party.

There were a few kids from B and Rachel's class invited and I think Rachel was the most excited about a birthday party that she has ever been, including hers. By the time we arrived she was bouncing off the walls!

The party was a pirate theme and K is a woman after my own heart. The party was amazing! She told me that most of her ideas came from Pinterest and it just proved that we really are kindred spirits! When we arrived there were pirate props -- eyepatches, swords, and pirate hats. The kids ran around like maniacs for a bit and then they headed outside to do a treasure hunt and to walk the plank.
The birthday boy was a pro.
Rachel wanted some help from Dave.
She decided to brave it on her own, and when she called for help, B came to her rescue. I thought that was so sweet!
This picture of Sam gives you an idea of the level of energy!
Then the kids all visited Jake's Tattoo parlour where I proceeded to apply the first tattoos I have ever done. Ironically, I gave  B&B their tattoos and K did my kids. There were cute labels for all the food. You could choose from "Walk The Veggie Plank!", "Cannonballs" which were meatballs in sauce, "Pirate Peg Legs," "Chip Boats," and "Scully Want A Cheese And Cracker?" Also, K's husband and mom had constructed a mast and sail above the snack table and I'm so sad I didn't get a picture of it because it was amazing!

Sadly, I don't have pictures from the rest of the party because as soon as the cake was consumed my kids went INSANE. Sam downed his cake and ice cream too quickly, turned green, and Dave rushed him to the bathroom because we thought he was going to be sick. Thankfully he didn't throw up and felt better about twenty minutes later.

Rachel finished her cake, and because she had gotten chocolate all over her tights, I took them off. I will NEVER EVER do that again because Rachel spent the next fifteen minutes running around maniacally laughing, and trying to take her dress off too. This meant I was running around after her, trying to keep her dress on. It was chaos. We would have just left but remember, Sam was hanging out over the toilet bowl.

I commented to K that I thought I would only have to worry about wild parties like this (oh yeah, the smoke detector went off too!) what with the tattoos, the undressing, the toilet bowl hugging, once my kids were in university and not when they were THREE and FIVE! Apparently I was wrong. (And just for the record, I would prefer that my kids never go to those kinds of parties.)

We came home and thankfully, I had to leave about half an hour later to go to a preschool board meeting. Dave said the kids spent the rest of the night talking like pirates, getting more tattoos, and swinging their swords around. At one point, Sam was wearing two eyepatches. Yeesh.

The kids still talk about how much fun B's party was, still talk like pirates, and ask when they can go over to play with B&B again. I don't know if we'll ever be invited back :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Honour And A Privilege

Four times in my life now I have been "on call." No, I do not work in the medical profession, nor any profession where I need to go to work at a moment's notice. I cannot imagine how stressful that must be and how disruptive to normal life. (Forgive me if this blog post wanders a little, I am extremely exhausted, so tired in fact, that I feel like my head only rejoined my body about two hours ago! Where was I again?!? Oh yeah, being "on call.")

Four times in my life I have had the opportunity to hang out with older siblings while they wait for a brother or a sister to be born. It is exciting to be a part of that moment in a family's life. It is also an honour and a privilege to get to walk that journey with them. Before Sam and Rachel were born, some of these babies were the newest ones I'd ever held. Getting to hold someone's three hour old baby is a gift beyond words.

On Wednesday morning at 2:08am, our phone rang. Some friends of ours, who want to remain blognonymous, had asked if we could care for their kids while their youngest child was born. I've been friends with these people for more than ten years and by happy circumstances (or God's timing!), our kids are close in age and all get along well.

I hurried to their house and got to sit with my friends until they left for the hospital. I then caught maybe two hours of sleep on their couch before their older children woke up. Shortly after that we received a call that their youngest sibling had arrived and we ate breakfast, made some welcome pictures, and played. Thankfully my friend's mom came over to meet her newest grandchild and was able to play with the kids while we waited. Let's just say that after too few hours of interrupted sleep, I was not at the top of my game :)

When my friends arrived home with their new baby, I realized, yet again, how special it is to be a part of that moment when a new sibling is introduced to the rest of their family. After a time of adoration (on the part of the older siblings) and picture taking, I took the kids to our house where Sam and Rachel were waiting excitedly for a play date.

If I could I would insert a picture here of some really happy kids loving their newest sibling. However, since I can't, just imagine what it looks like.

My big accomplishment was taking all four kids out to deliver flyers with me, dressing them all in jackets, snow pants, hats, mittens, and boots. The kids repaid me by walking very nicely for an hour, not fighting, and shoveling off the driveway. I figured it was a good deal although I'm very glad Dave and I decided that two kids was enough for our family. I can't imagine doing that every day! (Also, I haven't really talked about it on the blog but we've been hit with a winter blast the past few days and have gotten a ton of snow. And on Tuesday, with windchill, it was around -20C (-4F). (Why do I live here again?!?!?) Since I haven't yet put away my planters of annuals or emptied our rain barrel, I'm really hoping that the warm temperatures they're forecasting for this weekend arrive so that I can remedy those situations. Blah.)

Now all four kids are settled in for the night, I have written this (very circuitous and possibly incoherent) blog post, and I am going to sleep. I am hoping all four kids sleep through the night so that I can too. And if you ever need me to hang out with your older children while you give birth to their younger sibling, just give me call. However, if I could have a chance to catch up on sleep first that would be great :)

Have any of your ever had the chance to play this role in a family's life? How did it affect you? (Besides potential lack of sleep, that is!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Back To The Time Of The Dinosaurs

Almost two weeks ago now, I got to go along on one of Sam's school field trips. We went to the Earth Sciences Museum at the University of Waterloo. It was such a cool visit, and I got so caught up, that I'm glad it was an easy trip to supervise!
Will and  Alan were the two guides, and Alan, especially, did a great job of engaging the kids, including all kinds of learners. He had a lot to show and tell about each dinosaur he talked about but he also had an action for each one as well. I was super impressed. Here Alan is telling us about Albertosaurus. The picture next to it is the skeleton of a cave bear, which I thought existed only in books.
This is a dimetrodon and the spines were covered in skin creating a sail. This "sail" was like a solar panel and would absorb heat from the sun so the dimetrodon could warm itself. I thought that was really interesting!
After we spent some time learning about different dinosaurs in one room, we went on a brief tour. We saw a bunch of cool fossils and dinosaur skeletons. The big set of antlers above was from an Irish Elk.
This is the skeleton of a Parasauolophus. Alan worked hard to help us all be able to say that name! We theorized that the bottom part of one leg was missing because it got eaten off!
This might have been the dinosaur that ate its young. One of the skeletons we saw had little skeletons inside and it was rather creepy. At least I thought it was, the kids may not have understood the implications of that.
I think this dinosaur was a coelophysis. Its long tail helped it keep its balance when running.
This is the head of a T. Rex. All the kids knew this one!
After the tour, the kids each got to colour a dinosaur colouring page. Freddie, the T. Rex came around and visited all the kids!
Then we got to go back to our original room and the kids all got to touch and examine different kinds of fossils. Sam is checking out some really old dinosaur poop here. Awesome.
Then each kid got a ride on Trish The Triceratops. They also enjoyed petting her. Trish moved her head and the kids all thought this was the best thing ever.
Finally, Sam got to sit in the foot print of a duck-billed dinosaur. Those things were huge!

I really enjoyed being able to go on this field trip. It was a great experience and I think all the kids really enjoyed it. I'm already looking forward to Sam's next field trip and I hope I'll be able to work it out so I can go along!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Project 364: Days 308 Through 319

Note to my readers: I didn't intentionally try to make my Project 364 mostly about Sam this time but it seems that is what happened. I will try to feature Rachel more prominently next week :)

November 5, 2014 -- We had Family Putting Laundry Away Time and the kids and Dave were putting their laundry away as fast as I could fold it, especially Sam. When I walked into his room I discovered he had just piled it all neatly on his bed to efficiently put away everything at once at the end. He is so my son!
November 6, 2014 -- I went along on Sam's school field trip and caught this picture of him on the bus.
November 7, 2014 -- Speaking of being my son, Sam read his first blog post this day. It was written by my friend Sherry about her family's Hallowe'en.
November 8, 2014 -- We had a quiet day at home and got some of Sam's "homework" done. Here he used a different medium to "write" his name AND he made an art project out of things he had found in nature. Sam's "homework" is more suggestive than prescriptive, and assigned on a monthly basis, but he loves doing it.
November 9, 2014 -- Sam standing with the leaf art print he created at LOGOS, which was hanging on the windows looking into the sanctuary this day.
November 10, 2014 -- Sometimes I have exciting kid free afternoons while Rachel is at preschool, and other days I have to do a quick trip to drop something off at Sam's school, before I've had a chance to shower after getting some exercise. (Also some days my only picture for Project 364 is a selfie I've already posted on Instagram. Sorry.)
November 11, 2014 -- Some days my only Project 364 picture is a picture of my husband in the mirror at midnight. Note: Dave is always thrilled to cooperate with my weird unique ideas.
November 12, 2014 -- I spent my kid free afternoon assisting Janice in making this ornament wreath. My main task was to provide the glue gun and moral support and to drink tea.
November 13, 2014 -- We had our first snow of the season this day. Farewell grass. I shall miss you.
November 14, 2014 -- Rachel wanted to participate in Crazy Hair Day so I gave her some hot pink streaks.
November 15, 2014 -- Sam was very committed to reading "The Fellowship Of The Ring." I posted a picture similar to this on Instagram but this one was taken with my "real" camera!
November 16, 2014 -- We went to check out Play With Clay at a local art gallery. It was a lot of fun.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm Too Sick To Use Commas

So I had planned to write a different post for today but I woke up two kinds of sick. Yep, being sick with one thing was not enough, my body decided to rebel in a couple of different ways. So instead of getting up early to blog, packing Sam's lunch, and heading off to the preschool to do some work, I am lying on the couch making the kids bring me things. I mean, don't we all have kids so they can take care of us when we are old and sick?!?! I'm just taking advantage of it a few years early. Plus, they need some exercise in the midst of their endless day of video watching. Rachel is sick too as she has been coughing a lot, and no one was in good enough shape (or had enough time) to take Sam to school so it's a pajama (sick) day for all of us.

All that is to say that I had planned to write about Sam's class field trip from a couple of weeks ago but I'm too tired to look up all the names (and spellings) of the different dinosaurs so you get this instead. (And I know this sentence needs a comma or two, but I'm too tired to figure out where to put them, so this is what you get. Relatedly, this whole post could probably use more commas.)

Somewhere in the not too distant past, Dave and I had a date night. We spent an hour of it at Target finishing up most of our holiday shopping for the kids. Two holidays requiring gifts in short succession means twice the amount of work. Then we headed to a new(er) place in town called "Games On Tap." Basically it is a cafe where you can go and play any game. And I do mean "any."
This is just a part of their game wall.
And another wall had these gorgeous games, which you could also take down to play, displayed. We've already decided we need to go back with Sam and Rachel and play the Snakes And Ladders game which is the one at the bottom.
Dave and I were pretty tired and not in the mood to figure out a tough strategy game so we asked for some advice. We ended up playing a game called "Timeline." You get a bunch of cards and then have to put them in chronological order. You then flip over your cards and pick up two new cards for every one you have in the wrong order. This is a run I finished with my original seven cards. I did not take pictures of the run of twenty cards which Dave and I mutually decided I did not need to finish. This game gets harder as you add more cards. "I know this probably happened in the 50s but do I put it before or after 1954?" And then you turn over the card and realize it came out in the 70s and you pick up two more cards.

We did not play the Science and Physics version, by the way!
Dave then spotted this gem on the shelf, "Word Fun." There are five levels of words and you need to hear the definition and then determine what the word is. Then you spell the word. Dave and I skipped the spelling part for the first three or four levels because if you can't correctly spell "tall" than this is not the game for you! You usually know what letter the word starts with. The words varied in difficulty from "no" on the first level, to a tricky "cement" not "concrete" on the second level, to "commissary" and words Dave and I had never heard of on Level 5. If you are word nerds like us, you would likely enjoy this game.

Last week, I read Natalie's blog and discovered that we were at this place at exact same time. Considering this place has about fifteen tables, I think it is hilarious that we never actually met. This all goes to show that I am usually in my own little world and not very aware of my surroundings. In other words, you never want me to be a witness to a crime because I would probably not even be aware it had happened in the first place. Ha!

Dave and I had a really fun time and would love to go back sometime with the kids. After all playing Candyland has got to be more fun in a cool place like this, right?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Going Around The World (In Half An Hour)

Our symphony has a concert series geared especially towards young children. They are called Kinderconcerts and I've written about them before. Dave's parents have started giving us a family subscription to all three for Channukah (How do we spell that again, Dave?!?!), and we love it.

Our first one of the season was called "Music From Around The World" and it was so creatively done. I was so impressed.
Music For Young Children is always there ahead of time with pre-concert activities for the kids. This time it was making their own drums and then learning rhythms.
The violinist (who also played a million other instruments) made all the props for the concert including The North Wind and the shoemaker's elves, which she made out of old shoes. The props were amazing and this woman is so creative!

We visited Finland, Sweden, Tibet, Northern Canada, somewhere in Africa (sorry, I don't remember the specific country), and a few other places I can't remember. It was so neat to hear music from all those different places.
The bears and pots represent The Big and Little Dippers. I thought this was a great visual.
Sam's favourite part of the concert is stacking the cushions afterwards. These concerts are so casual that the kids are invited to sit on the cushions in front of the performers, rather than sitting in the chairs. After this concert, Sam immediately started stacking the pillows and then some other kids joined in to help him. Ha ha ha!!!
Rachel, meanwhile, was exploring the instruments further which is a more... expected... thing to do post-concert!

I love these concerts and think they are an excellent way to introduce kids to the symphony. Starting next year we will likely go to the Family Concerts, which are geared towards slightly older kids, so I'm excited to explore those as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dave's Autumnal Photographic Essay

You may have noticed that, although this is technically "our" blog, about 99.53% of the posts are actually written by Natasha. Every now and then, I (Dave) jump in with a random post, just to mix things up a little.

Well, this post is extra-random :) It started with Natasha asking me to take a picture of her and Sam as they worked on peeling, seeding, and eating a pomegranate after dinner, and snowballed into me taking a whole bunch of pictures around the house and writing about it on the blog.

So, to answer the question I'm sure you're all asking: no, there is no particular point to this "autumnal photographic essay", other than I thought the title sounded pretentious and kind of hilarious (or, as Rachel is saying these days, "Cilarous!"). Any resemblance to a coherent plot or deeper meaning is entirely accidental.
According to Jewish tradition, there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, to match the number of mitzvot (good deeds) in the Bible. Here you can see about half of them :)
Sam and Natasha hard at work removing seeds. I love how you can see Sam's pirate tattoo from a birthday party this past weekend.
Close-up of some alstroemeria that I bought Natasha last week, on the evening that she donated blood (well, tried to, anyway). Also, Rachel insisted that some of the flowers were "hers," hence their being divided up into several small vases.
The proud pomegranate pair, posing with the products of their post-dinner pastime.
Natasha has had several small gourds posing as a centrepiece on our dining room table for the past few weeks. I thought they looked especially autumnal (there, see, this essay is autumnal!) with a can of Coke in the background.
A close-up of the pomegranate seeds in a plastic bowl. I like the way the bright red seeds reflected off the inside of the bowl.
This was my partner in crime for the photography part of the essay... By which I mean "The person who kept wanting to be in all the pictures/grabbing the camera to take her own pictures." At least she was cheerful about the whole thing!
At one point, I asked Rachel to sort all the Dutch Blitz cards that were strewn across the living room floor. I showed her what I meant, and after watching her for a little while, was pretty sure that she had the hang of it. I came back five minutes later to this art installation, which I call "Somewhere, over the rainbow... my inner OCD self is cringing".
This is a close-up of the Mongolian blanket that is hanging in our dining room (why yes, "macro" is my favourite setting on our camera... how did you know? :) I love the mix of colours and designs, and am really happy that my in-laws dug it out of a box in the basement and helped hang it this past spring.
Finally, here is a shot of the corn chowder we had for supper. Between the ladle and the spoon, I feel this picture conveys a certain sense of "boy, did we devour that chowder... one serving utensil was insufficient for our massive appetites!" Then again, the left-over chowder shows that, in reality, our appetites were not that massive, after all.

And so, ending with that enigmatic study in contrasts, I will return you to your regular blog reading.