Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Traversing Canada Tuesdays: Prince Edward Island

image from here
highlighting added by me

So after a (too) long hiatus, Traversing Canada Tuesdays is back! Whoo hoo!?!? Anyways, today you will get to find out about Canada's smallest province, Prince Edward Island. On the map above, it is the small red spot in the lower right hand corner. If you are an Anne Of Green Gables fan, you may have heard about this province. Yes, this is where the Anne books are set. But PEI (as we call it for short) is about so much more than Anne.

PEI is only 224 kilometres (139 miles) long and as narrow as 6 kilometres (less than four miles). It is Canada's only island province, and for the longest time the only way to get there was by a 75 minute ferry ride. However in 1997, the 13 kilometre (8 mile) long Confederation Bridge opened, and now you can drive to PEI in 10 minutes, crossing the Northumberland Strait.

Because PEI is flat, with no large landforms to stop the wind, it is often breezy on the island. It is also the fourth snowiest province in Canada. PEI was once connected to the mainland, but after the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago, the Northumberland Valley filled with water, cutting it off from the rest of Canada.

Even though it is only 224 kilometres long, PEI has 1107 kilometres (688 miles) of coastline with the majority of that (800 kilometres (497 miles)) being beaches. The north shore boasts mainly white sandy beaches, while the beaches of the south shore are lined with low, red sandstone cliffs. PEI is known for its red, sandy soil. About half of PEI is covered in forests, while the other half is farmland.

Much like Nova Scotia, control over PEI switched back and forth between the French and the British. In 1758 it finally became a British colony. However, problems between landlords in Britain and settlers on PEI, finally caused the settlers to revolt and consider joining Confederation. In 1864, representatives from the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and the Province of Canada (now Ontario and Quebec) met in Charlottetown, PEI to talk about joining into a union. That meeting is now known as the Charlottetown Conference and the city is know as the "cradle of Confederation" even though PEI decided not to join Canada on July 1, 1867.

In 1873, Canada promised PEI money to buy the land from the British landlords. It could then be sold to the Islanders, some of whom had been farming the land for generations. PEI accepted the offer and officially became a part of Canada.

About 147, 000 people live on this small piece of land and many of them make their living from the ocean or by farming. If you ask a Canadian what they think of when you say, "PEI," besides Anne, they will answer, "Potatoes!" Since the soil on the island comes from sandstone, it is slightly acidic and rich in iron. When the iron is exposed to the air, it rusts and that is why the soil is red. It is ideal growing conditions for potatoes. PEI produces between a third and a half of all potatoes grown in Canada each year.

Since PEI boasts one of Canada's windiest spots, the North Cape, it is also one of Canada's leaders in using wind as a renewable energy source. And of course, there is the ocean with its abundance of lobster, among other seafood.
If you ever get to PEI, you have to stop at Cavendish, and the farmhouse that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write "Anne Of Green Gables." Tourism is a booming industry on the island, and surprisingly, since Anne is so well loved in Japan, many of the tourists are Japanese.

Other points of interest on the island are The Bottle Houses, made up of over 25,000 recycled wine bottles, and the Singing Sands on the beaches at the eastern end of PEI.
Dave and I are hoping to do an eastern Canada road trip with Sam and Rachel in a few years, and I know that we will enjoy our stay on PEI. I can't wait to go back!

Reference Book: Canada Close Up: Prince Edward Island, by L. Michelle Nielsen. Published 2009 by Scholastic.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Happened Last Week

So when I wrote my really lame blog post last Tuesday, I knew that it was going to be a busy week. However, I had no inkling of just how insane life was going to get just a scant five hours after I posted it. The craziness had nothing (very little) to do with our family and had subsided a lot by Thursday, but for about two days, I thought I was going to explode from stress.

As you may or may not know I am on the board at Rachel's preschool. Last year I was the treasurer and this year I am the Member At Large With Responsibility For Policies. We have two teachers at the preschool and in April, one of them announced she was retiring, so we started a hiring process. Due to the timing, I was not able to be involved with the process, but we had hired a great teacher by mid-June.

In mid-August, she quit.

So we started a new hiring process. For hiring teachers we have an interview portion and an in-class portion. I was very involved in the in-class portion as we screened candidates and so spent two mornings, with Sam and Rachel, at the preschool at the end of August. Thankfully we found a candidate we really liked and were able to offer her the job.

On Tuesday at noon, after working for a day, she suddenly quit.

One option our preschool has is that if you want to be a duty parent and assist in the classroom one class a month, you can pay a slightly reduced rate. We took this option last year with Rachel and I enjoyed it. At the beginning of every year, all the duty parents need to be trained. Normally the assistant teacher does this training, but since she was new, board members were going to take over. Since I had the time, and Rachel could attend the class while I oriented people, I volunteered to do all the training.

Also, with all the hiring going on, and everyone else being very busy in their roles, we aren't looking at policies just yet, and so I had some time on my hands. This meant that besides her two regular sessions of preschool, Rachel also attended four other classes last week, while I oriented parents. By the end of the week, her teacher said she was "a preschool guru!"
And it was just the head teacher and me in the room when Assistant Teacher Number Two announced she was leaving and not coming back, including for classes that afternoon. Rachel and I ended up being at the preschool from 9-3:30 on Tuesday and that was definitely not in our plans. I was orienting parents and helping the head teacher out where I could. It was more than a little crazy.

After hours of phone calls, seventy e-mails in less than twenty-four hours, and one emergency board meeting, we had a plan. And now we are hiring an assistant teacher again. sigh.

Unfortunately, it has just been bad luck and coincidence that both the people we had hired quit within three weeks of each other. It also really sucks.

Also unfortunately, since I was so stressed, the chaos spilled over into our family life and I did a lot less cooking, cleaning, and being with my family than I had intended. And poor Rachel was so tired of being at preschool by Thursday at noon.
I hope I never have another week like this past one. By Friday things had calmed down, and Sam was exhausted from school and getting a cold, so I kept him home and he and Rachel played all day. I was able to take care of things around the house and it was just a good day for everyone.

So please pray for our preschool and the board as we search for a new Assistant Teacher. Pray that we will find someone amazing to teach our kids, and that the board will have renewed energy as we undergo our third hiring process in less than four months.

The pictures in this post are from when Rachel had her first dance class, in the midst of all the chaos, and then we did some errands and had a lunch date before she had preschool (her actual class and not one of the four extras!) that afternoon. The last picture is from when she set the table all by herself that night.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Project 364: Days 246 Through 255

September 4, 2014 -- In a week where Dave and I only had one evening at home together, Starbucks fraps in the car on the way to a meeting was considered "date time."
September 5, 2014 -- The hottest day all summer produced some vicious thunderstorms. That meant Sam and Rachel piled into bed with me instead of settling nicely in their own beds.
September 6, 2014 -- Sam and Rachel had fun posing beside a big tire at Mighty Machines. Check out a blog post about our visit there coming later this week.
September 7, 2014 -- I had quite the lists of things to get done this past week. Spoiler: Due to some unforeseen circumstances I got very little crossed off either of these lists.
September 8, 2014 -- Rachel had her first day of preschool for this year! More on that to come too...
September 9, 2014 -- I replaced our summer fun lists with school calendars in my office. This is a sign that summer is definitely over. Sadness :(
September 10, 2014 -- Rachel had her first dance class this day. Yep, you'll get to read more about this too in a few days :)
September 11, 2014 -- It was cold enough that I pulled out the winter bedding. This is Sam's new bedding which we just got for him in August.
September 12, 2014 -- The first Sew Be It of the year was this night. My friend Carla, who moved to Kenya in June, hung the "Joy" sign at the last Sew Be It she attended. I miss her so I took a picture of it.
September 13, 2014 -- I really need to remember to take pictures of flowers in the daytime. Nighttime shots just don't capture their true colours. Especially not nighttime shots in our living room!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Blog, Interrupted

This is likely the world's shortest, lamest blog post ever. I'm basically popping in to say, "I'm still here, living life, with absolutely no time to blog about it." This makes me sad because I want to document life. Things will calm down after this week and I will get back to regular blogging. However, Dave and I spent the evening at home together a total of once last week, and I was only home (and awake) for about two hours on Saturday. On top of that I've also spent about eight hours at the preschool since last Wednesday, with easily another eight to come in the next three days. And no, I'm not taking, or teaching, classes there :)

I have so many things I want to tell you but, between falling asleep around 9 or 10pm every night (I don't know why I'm so tired), cooking meals, running errands, and trying to spend some time with my family, I just don't have a spare five minutes to write a blog post. Except I just took five minutes, at 6:20am, while Dave is in the shower, to write this. It's the shortest, lamest blog post ever. I promise, my next one will be better.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Project 364: Days 237 Through 245

Even though I've been taking daily pictures, I haven't been as timely in posting them. So here are my Project 364 pictures from the past week, or so!

August 26, 2014 -- We had a really cool summer so we took advantage of a really hot day to go swimming after supper.
August 27, 2014 -- We checked out an open house at a dance studio. The question is, who from our family will be taking classes?!?! Stay tuned to find out :)
August 28, 2014 -- Words cannot describe how completely exhausted I was at the end of this day, so I'll let this blurry picture of the time I went to bed speak for me.
August 29, 2014 -- Rachel loves her "Wim-lem!"
August 30, 2014 -- Tim brought us tomatoes from plants Janice's dad planted earlier this season. His legacy lives on.
August 31, 2014 -- It was the kind of day where I did grocery shopping at 10:30 at night and was too tired to put them away.
September 1, 2014 -- Through a fortunate series of events, some of this ended up in my possession!!! Yay!!! I've been wanting to try it ever since Allison wrote this post! And it is pretty much as delicious as I imagined it would be.
September 2, 2014 -- Sam and Rachel spent the morning cutting "things they wanted" out of flyers. I guess they've been watching me go through the flyers to price match :)
September 3, 2014 -- This was taken the morning of the bittersweet day that was Sam's first day of school this year. These two have been inseparable all summer. Sadness :(

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Exclusive Sneak Preview

I'm pleased to announce a very exclusive movie trailer, which can only be seen on my blog. The movie is "Rising Of The Dead" and it looks good!

Willem and his friend made this trailer and I thought it was so awesome I asked if I could share it. I'm amazed at what they did. Also, sadly, Willem's device could only send me part of the file so you miss the awesome credits at the end. I guess you'll just have to wait until it comes out in theatres :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Sam's A Senior!

In Kindergarten, that is :)
And I think he's looking forward to it.

In our region, the Junior Kindergarten kids all had their "meet the teacher" day yesterday, so all the Senior Kindergarten kids had an extra day of summer vacation and today is their first day back to school. I, of course, cried as we dropped him off but Sam didn't seem phased.

A little Back To School Interview:

Name and Age: Sam, 5
Best Friend: I don't know. Mommy.
Favourite Colour: all the colours, except my favourite favourite colours are green, blue, red, purple, and pink
Favourite thing about school: lunch
Favourite book: The Brick Bible ("both testaments")
Favourite game: Monopoly 
Favourite thing about the summer: going to the pool,
What do you want to be when you grow up? A police officer.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

People And Pottying

For about three months we had been planning on going to New York this past weekend. Those plans fell through about three weeks ago, and so we (really, "I") decided that it would be a good weekend to attempt to toilet train Rachel. I wanted three days in a row where we could basically stay home and where Dave would also be available. And then we ended up having supper plans Every. Single. Night. Since Rachel has not been super consistent about peeing in the potty, we weren't sure how it was going to go.

I began on Friday afternoon at 2. Willem came over for the afternoon and entertained Sam, which was awesome. Since I didn't want to just hang out in the kitchen (scene of the crime), I also decided that Rachel and I would work on her letters. Just so we had something to do!
I plied Rachel with lots of juice, she got a Smartie every time she sat on the potty, and she wore underwear the whole time. She finally peed after about an hour and a half. Then we had to head out for a little bit so I put a pullup on her.

She ended up having a couple of accidents on Friday (one with regards to pooping), but by Friday night she was announcing, "I have to pee!!!" and running to the potty and peeing on it. It was pretty awesome. Tim and Willem came for supper, and Rachel fell asleep on Dave's lap at 7:30. I think she was pretty exhausted.

Saturday morning Rachel woke up with a dry diaper and I hurried her downstairs (at 7:15am, without wearing my glasses or putting my contacts in) to try and convince her to pee. I took this picture and in my sleep deprived state I couldn't figure out why the camera wasn't focusing properly. After a few minutes, I realized that the camera was fine but I wasn't focusing properly. Ha!
After that exhausting interlude, I crashed on the futon in the office, Sam played, and Dave and Rachel continued to focus on keeping Rachel's underwear dry, more or less successfully.

Rachel did have a few more accidents but I would say about 80% of the time she was successful on the potty. That afternoon we worked some more on our letters.
On Saturday night our friends Julie and Saskia came over for supper and that was tons of fun! Rachel conked out around 7:30 again.

Sunday we hung around here in the morning and then went to our friends' house for supper. Rachel wanted to bring her potty along and so I told her to pick it up. Unbeknownst to Dave and I, she had peed in it earlier and sadly, got kind of wet when she picked it up. The major highlight was that not only was she peeing on the potty, but she was doing it of her own accord.

Although we had her sit numerous times at our friends' house, she didn't pee the entire six hours we were there. And yes, she had a lot to drink. So we put a pullup on over her underwear, and hoped for the best. And she stayed dry all the way home!

Yesterday Rachel pooped on the potty for the first time ever. I screamed so loud with excitement that some of you may have heard it where you live! :) And we went out in the evening and she stayed dry the whole time.

So, fingers crossed, I think we have trained Rachel. After the nightmare, and years of work, that was training Sam, this has felt like a pretty easy transition. I will still put a pullup on over Rachel's underwear when we leave the house for any length of time (like today I have to go run some errands), but we can see a diaperless house in our near future, and after five and a half years, that feels like a pretty huge milestone!

And that was our weekend. Thanks for reading along. What did you do this past weekend? I hope it included less of a focus on bodily functions and more on fun, but sometimes that's how life goes.

Note: We are not pushing Rachel on night training, and we will let that happen in its own time, but she does wake up dry 2-3 times a week, so I don't think we're too far off from that milestone either.

Friday, August 29, 2014

And Then This Happened...

Remember how yesterday I said that some days I want to homeschool??? Well, the other day I saw these beans at Bulk Barn and I remembered seeing somewhere that kids enjoyed making roads in trays of beans. So I bought six different kinds that were all different sizes and colours.
I gave each kid a cookie sheet full of beans on a towel on the living room floor, some cars, and told them to have fun.
And they did. A little too much fun.
It took awhile to clean them all up, as you can likely imagine, and now I have a whole bucket of beans that I don't know what to do with. If you want to try this yourself, just give me a call and I will do my best to talk you out of it :) And if I don't succeed, at least I'll send you the beans!

PS. Normally I don't blog much on the weekends but this weekend is special as we are attempting to toilet train Rachel. So if you are really interested (or really bored), you can check out the all the successful happenings (think positive, right?!?!) at our house this weekend. Go Rachel! Preferably on the potty :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some Days I Want To Homeschool

Sometimes I really enjoying doing ideas I've found on Pinterest with my kids. I like making their days fun and unique. I get a kick out of watching them have fun with something I've introduced them to. For instance, Sam loved the Angry Birds sandwiches I made above.
And this backyard car wash was such a simple idea that kept the kids entertained for awhile.

The kids thought making ice cream in a bag was the Best. Thing. Ever!!! And it was :)
Then we did some painting with coloured vinegar and baking soda. That was pretty entertaining too.
And finally, after searching all over the city for some plain wooden cubes to make homemade dice, the kids also really enjoyed playing this simple dot game.
Of course, then there are days like the one I will write about tomorrow, and I realize that I'm sorta glad that school starts in a week, our regular fall activities are resuming, and I don't have to try and figure out seventy billion ways to entertain Sam and Rachel without resorting to videos.

But I'm sure that in a month I will be missing these days of fun projects and crazy messes.