December 6, 2014
St Nicholas and Grandpa's birthday

During the wee hours of the night (how wee we will not get into) St. Nicholas snuck into our house and filled a great many shoes with goodies.  So many goodies that the shoes were feeling a bit dwarfed by the piles surrounding them.  Obviously he's got a van or something.  However the logistics all played out the kids were thrilled when they woke up to find many things to unwrap and eat.  Matthew in particular was very interested in eating things - wrapper and all.  Later in the day Grandpa got older.  How old doesn't seem to be as relevant as how many pieces of cake one may have.

24 photos / videos

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December 4, 2014
Old fashioned Christmas

I signed Elizabeth and Matthew up to go to an "old fashioned Christmas" with our local homeschool group, but when the day came Matthew was obviously too sick to go.

Elizabeth and I had a lovely time though. There was gingerbread cookie decorating. There was hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire. We had a horse drawn wagon ride. We even watched cartoons - a rather strange one from 1936 about orphans getting poor quality toys so this guy poses as Santa and turns all their household goods into toys. Not sure what they were going to use later for household goods like forks and things, but Elizabeth thought it was amusing. Elizabeth also got to try her hand at printing her own Christmas card using an embossing stamp.

But the highlight was definitely meeting Santa and getting to sit on his lap! We don't "do" Santa, so she's never had that experience before and she found it quite entertaining. He wanted to know what she wanted for Christmas. "A book with Santa in it", she requested. But although she checked with me a couple of times whether it was the real Santa (nope), in the car she was careful to repeat her request so that Santa Mommy would know what sort of book to get her. Later she was telling Daddy all about meeting Santa. "It was the REAL ONE", she said excitedly. Then she looked at me pointedly "Mom, just go with it, okay?"

10 photos / videos

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December 2, 2014
Christmas tree

There were several false starts to Christmas tree decorating but we did get there in the end, to the delight of both kids.

We thought we'd try Phillips LED lights because we are very sick of the annual ritual of removing bulbs one by one in order to figure out which one has burnt out.

We bought four strings for $22 a string from three different Targets because they didn't have enough stock for a single tree at any one store. We came home, plugged in the lights and half of them didn't light up. Bummer, but part of the appeal of these particular LEDs? They allegedly come with replacement bulbs. Nice, right? Except it turns out they only provide orange and green bulbs in our multi-colour string and the instructions are quite clear that if you don't match colours, it won't work. So we tried jiggling the bulbs that didn't work. We tried replacing bulbs in the not working string with bulbs from a working string, being careful to match colours. Nothing worked.

So we admit these are clearly not ready for prime time and head back to Target to exchange for normal Christmas lights (sigh). Of course they have no such thing. Nor does Canadian Tire. Walmart did, which was good because I think after six different stores we were almost ready to declare that the tree didn't need any lights at all.

Matthew has been pretty good about not touching the Christmas tree, except for incessantly flicking the lights on and off and on and off and on and off again. Well, that and he unwrapped a fair number of candy canes, licked them and then stuck them to the couch. "Blah blah" (aka yuck), he says. Every time!

8 photos / videos

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November 29, 2014
Auntie Joanne came to visit

Auntie Joanne was in town for her second annual music judging gig. Elizabeth was very eager to practice piano with her (she's a piano teacher!) I gather Joanne is super fun because she doesn't insist Elizabeth stick to the lesson plan :)

The progression in skills since last year is of course quite impressive, but we're even more impressed with the transition we're starting to see around practice time. Elizabeth hasn't missed a single day of practice since lessons started back up in September. Of course, there were days she didn't feel like practicing (it's not an optional activity here), but it's gratifying to notice that she's starting to remember to practice on her own and occasionally even spontaneously adds an extra one "for fun".

We think the key is that we do short daily practices at a consistent time, so it's easy to keep it as part of the routine (like brushing your teeth!).

7 photos / videos

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November 28, 2014

We enjoyed Sportball with Elizabeth very much, so as soon as Matthew was old enough I signed him up.

I was thrilled to discover that it's still the same instructor four years later! She took one look at Matthew and declared him to be Elizabeth's brother (and honestly - if you follow the link they are so alike!)

Brendan was a little concerned that Matthew would not follow directions as he tends to be a little more single minded about doing the things he wants to do. Turns out that he actually follows the instructions MUCH better than Elizabeth did at the same age - partly he's not nearly as shy, but he is also just really into classes. Who knew? He isn't as verbal so can't sing the various songs, but then Elizabeth never sang those in class - just at home!

His favourite activity is catching mice (tennis balls) with a funnel, though anything that involves sanctioned hitting or throwing stuff is popular too. He loves the hula hoops too.

Elizabeth happened to have a PD Day one sportball day and coach Jenna invited all the siblings to join the class. Turned out they were all alumni that she had taught in the last five or so years - and she still remembered all of their names. Elizabeth remembered Jenna too and was thrilled to be able to tag along and show Matthew how to do everything.

16 photos / videos

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