Monday, July 24, 2017

Vacation

Vacation mood - Joy!
This is the longest I've ever gone between blog posts - but it just goes to show how busy the past few weeks have been for us. We've gone into summer mode, and have been spending our time outside and having fun as much as possible. When we are inside, Caleb is either playing lego, learning new drum beats or is deeply engulfed in the magical world of Harry Potter. Odin is spending his home time organizing his cars and trucks into long lines, digging in the sandbox, riding his tricycle - but always going back to playing with his beloved vehicles. We've just started the 3rd book and we are both loving it! It's been almost 20 years since I last read the series, and it's even more enchanting reading it to a 7 year old!

We just got back back from an incredible week with my family in PEI. I followed that up with a weekend away in a cabin in Fundy park with Amy and Lydia, so today seemed like the perfect time for a little reflection before heading back into the office. (And Hi to my aunt Colleen, who has been checking for posts over the past several weeks!!)


Before heading off on vacation, we had a wonderful weekend in Annapolis Royal for Canada's 150th. The town really pulled off some wonderful events, including an afternoon of free music in our newly constructed amphitheatre, and giving away 500 free lobster rolls during a public picnic on the wharf! I wasn't expecting tables set out for everyone, but it was such a nice touch that topped off a great community weekend. 

Our week in Cavendish was wonderful. Aly, Ava, Adam, Ang, and both of my parents were able to join us. We weren't sure if Linda was going to be able to make the trip because she had her hip replaced only 3 weeks before we were booked to go. Thankfully, she is recovering really well and she was able to complete our family vacation. 


The kids were perfect ages to enjoy all the PEI (or PPI, according to Odin) has to offer. Amusement parks, beaches, great geocaches, good seafood, late night card games, jellyfish spotting, swimming pools, hot tubs, soccer games..we did it all. Alan and I even squeezed in a date night in Charlottetown!

 At the New Glasgow lobster dinner:


At the butterfly garden - such a great stop! Caleb had 7 butterflies on him at one point!




Amusement park - Odin loved the roller coaster, Caleb preferred the waterslides (but he still did one loop on the roller coaster!)


Green screen shot from a Parks Canada booth! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May memories

Here's a quick recap of our month of May! I'll try to post more often in June!


Our friends host an annual May Day party, complete with a May pole. Odin was into it this year, and I'm always amazed at how many kids and young families turn out to this event. Who says Annapolis Royal has an aging population!?


On Mother's Day, I was gifted two magnolia tress that the boys picked out. These are my absolute favourite trees and I can't wait to enjoy their magnificent blooms each year.

Odin's class held their annual 'Hop-a Thon' to fundraise for muscular dystrophy. The kids get 1 minute to do as many hops as they can. It's a bit hard to see here, but while the others were hopping into the high 100's , Odin managed to only get 3 jumps in!! His teacher, Wendy, said he froze when everyone started cheering him on and was too taken in with the crowd to bother with the jumping. We are all hoping for him to get into the double digits next year!!

Haircuts, and thankfully Odin still has his curls!

Ferry to NB for the May long weekend. Ava surprised us by coming with Linda to pick us up in Saint John. Caleb couldn't believe it when he saw here waiting for us. It was the first time I've ever heard him use the words 'I'm freaking out!!'
Cousin time at Greg's new fishing camp along the Miramichi. Can't wait to spend more time there this summer!
Helping with the garden back at home. Good to have a heavy equipment operator on site!


My sister in law, Sarah, came to visit us this weekend with her two little boys. They had some great cousin time and loved cuddling with baby Daniel!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Easter Eggstravaganza


 Our little community loves Easter. They've organized the Annapolis Royal Easter Eggstravaganza for the past 11 years and it has grown to include:

-Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the Legion
-Giant Egg Hunt -  10,000 eggs hidden at the Fort
- Arts/Crafts/Family Fun in the afternoon
-Free Family Movie at the theatre

This year, the main volunteer and event founder decided that she was no longer able to continue running the event. Shock waves ran through the town. A photo of a sad Easter Bunny was circulated on social media accompanied by several call-outs for new volunteers to keep the event going. I decided I would put my name forward, and ended up being in charge of the afternoon craft/family fun events. The amazing woman who previously ran the event really took the crafts to another level. She managed to set up 12 different (and incredible) crafts (50 of each) for a total of 600 kids easter crafts!! Yikes. I knew I couldn't maintain that amount of crafting intensity, but thankfully, she handed over all of her old supplies to me and I was able to pull together a couple of other helpers and we managed to pull off a great afternoon event. Alan and I spent a few late nights prepping salt dough egg ornaments, Easter cards to paint, pictures to colour and more. Plus we had a clown and kid's zumba, so it turned into quite an action packed afternoon.


The hunt was, much to my surprise, one of my favourite parts of the day. We were so happy to have my parents and Ava visit for the weekend, and Caleb and Ava hopped right into super volunteer mode. They were up at 7 am with me to help hide the eggs at the fort, and I couldn't believe how many other community members were also up early to help. During the hunt, Caleb and Ava had a bookbag full of extra eggs and it was their job to subtly 'lay' eggs near any kids who were having trouble finding some. They were in their glory, prancing around and making the day of little kids all over the place! I was so happy when they told me the best part of their day was hiding the eggs, not finding them!


The hunt begins! Photo by Greg
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The rest of our April was filled with as much outdoor time as possible. Here are some shots:

We are loving the longer days, which means we can go to the park *after* supper! We picked up some of the Sudanese kids last week on our way there. We all had a blast, and it is amazing how well the kids are adjusting. Their English is coming along so well, and they've already mastered important phrases like 'one more push!', 'pick me upside down!' and 'let's stay a little bit longer'.

My favourite artwork from April - Caleb's class got to pick a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote for an art project. This one is going in a frame!
Alan and I bought bikes this year, and it has been wonderful going for long rides with Caleb. He no longer has to stop at each corner to wait for us! Last night Cale and I saw a snake, 3 turtles, 2 muskrats, 3 kingfishers and a bunch of  red-winged blackbirds while biking on the trail behind our house. 

Odin with his new wheels - and a pretty stylin' look.

Dinner with our good friends (and farmers)! Odin loved this ride so much, until the tractor got stuck and the wheels flung mud all over his face! It was quite hilarious for the rest of us, but he was not overly impressed!
More fun with friends.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April Fools!

April 1st is one day that we really look forward to each year. Caleb still laughs about the frozen cereal trick I pulled on him last year, and he has been scheming with Alan for weeks to come up with a good prank for me. I knew I had to up my game from last year, especially knowing how suspicious Caleb was going to be. So, after searching the internet, I set my plans in motion and we pulled off a pretty successful morning.

My favourite trick of the day -  is that fruit juice in your mug...or jello?!? Odin didn't know what to make of it (having never seen jello before), but Caleb really got a kick out of this one!
After the jello trick, we pulled out the cereal which had been switched into different boxes (Odin's favourite joke of the day),  and followed that up with a plate of homemade  brownies (which were actually brown construction paper letter Es cut out....brown Es) and finally we pranked Alan by stuffing his shoes with kleenex. The best part of this joke was Caleb commenting on how much Alan had grown overnight (especially his feet), before asking him to put on his shoes and come outside! Haha! The joke Caleb and Alan had been plotting all week turned out to be the old 'wrap tape around the sink hose nozzle' so that when I turned on the water, the hose *almost* squirted me. Pretty good! Now I need to start thinking of things for next year! 

We've also been enjoying the warmer weather and volunteering with the organization of Annapolis Royal's big Easter celebrations which consists of 10,000 eggs hidden at the Fort, crafts, zumba, a magician and a free movie at the theatre. I brought the boys with me to the local Nursing Home last night to have the seniors help stuff some eggs for the big hunt. We had a great time, especially Odin, who managed to sit beside a sweet little old lady who, instead of stuffing the plastic eggs with chocolate, decided to  unwrap the chocolate and feed them to Odin instead! They had quite a pile of wrappers beside them before I noticed! 
New friends
Kids hike to Mickey Hill Provincial Park
Bingo!

Note I found from Caleb - "To Odin. Here's 80 cents for you. Youre a great bro!' Accompanied by a big old bag of pennies that Cale clearly wanted to get rid of! Sweet and hilarious. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

March Break

Alan's birthday shot with his Mackinaw twin
My parents bravely (and incredibly generously) offered to take both of our children to Fredericton for March Break this year. Alan and I immediately accepted. A week at home with no children?!? The last time we had a few days on our own seems like a very far off distant memory. And we immediately had plans - Operation remove pansy wallpaper borders and get some painting done. It was the first chance we had to tackle a few small things to make our house really feel like our own. It was not nearly as glamorous as an HGTV show, and plaster walls are trickier than I had anticipated, but we got it done...well, one and a half rooms, anyway! And we went out to dinner TWICE and spent a day touring around second hand shopping in the Valley, which is one of my absolute favourite things to do.

Bathroom blitz

Drywall coating the toy room. I didn't even realize this was a necessary step, or the sanding that followed...so I was VERY ready to put the paint on when the time finally came. Turns out we chose a very similar color to the original wall so the kids didn't even notice a change after all of our hard work! Haha!

 The boys, of course, had a blast. We got to skype with them every night, and as happy as I was for Odin to be able to spend a week without me, it would have been nice if he missed me even just a tiny bit! But no, they were having too much fun. Alan's aunt Teresa took Caleb and  his cousin Monica to Crabbe Mt skiing twice - his first time ever on skis, and he now he is absolutely hooked. He made it down the big hill and back up the chair lift, which is a great accomplishment for such a cautious guy. We were seriously proud of him. The boys also had lots of cousin time, a snow day to build forts and donuts for breakfast. Pretty good week if you ask me!

Ski team!

Meeting baby cousin Daniel

Baby love, and grandchild number 9 for the Jeffries side! (Hey Kathy - you made the blog!!) 
UNB hockey game with Uncle Jay (2017 National Champs!) Odin was happy to share his popcorn, but would only hand out one piece at a time! 

Alan and I went to pick them up this weekend and we were so glad to also be home for the memorial of Jim Myles, an amazing man and father of the Myles boys who Alan has grown very close to over the years. We were also able to help with removing the final few loads of things from my uncle Mike's house, who we lost in January. It was an emotional few days for us, for sure. One of the items I took from Mike's was a bunch of old deer antlers. We weren't sure what to do with them so I offered them up on facebook and within 20 minutes had found a friend who wanted to give them a good home.

Today, after getting off the ferry, I went for a quick beach walk before heading into the office. I hadn;t been beachcoming in a few days and I really needed some time on my own to reflect in the fresh air. I was walking around slowly, thinking of Mike and Jim, when I looked down and found a deer antler on the beach. It was the first one I've ever found in my life, despite all the times I've spent at Moosecall and in the woods (often actively looking for antlers). I couldn't quite believe it as I bent down to pick it up. It was small, from a young buck and it brought tears to my eyes. Just an hour earlier we had unpacked our trunk and the only thing that remained was a box of deer antlers to bring to my friend in Halifax. And now in my hand, I held one more antler. I'm not an overly spiritual person, but I felt such comfort at that moment and I knew that this antler would be coming home with me.

Today's beach glass and pottery finds, including my lucky antler. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New family member

The time has come. After years of wavering, we've made the plunge and added a feline friend to our family. We adopted an adorable 2 year old cat who Caleb has named Coral. She's the boy's first pet and she is fitting in very well to our family. Coral has a great personality. She cuddles, purrs and alternates which bed she wants to sleep in most nights, much to the delight of Caleb and Odin. She is incredibly tolerant of Odin, even when he puts his face right up against hers. She'll gently rub into him before quickly skirting away when she's had enough. I think we picked a great one!

The first day we had Coral home, she hid among Alan's record collection for a good hour before Caleb was the one to finally coax her out. This is when he was rewarded with his first Coral cuddles. The look on his face is pure bliss! After this picture we decided to give the cat a break and head to the grocery store. When we came home, we couldn't find her for 2 whole hours, which is one downside to our big old house- too many nooks and crannies! Turns out she was hiding inside one of Alan's amplifiers...the one place I definitely did not look. She no longer hides, and we can always find her curled up in bed or on a comfy chair somewhere. 

Coral seems to love Odin's crib and happily jumps in to cuddle with him at bedtime. He can hardly believe the 'kitty cat' is in his bed. We've had to remove Coral a couple of times when Odin just couldn't fall asleep due to all the excitement!
In other exciting news - the Patriots did it again! Superbowl LI champs after a stunning come from behind win. I, of course, did a quick photo shoot before the game and some of Odin's poses captured my range of feelings during the game!

Not even Tom Brady can pull this come back off....can he?!?
Holy moly, they are doing it!!
Trying to hold it together during overtime (and no, he was not still awake!)
Finally, we've been experiencing a week full of crazy snow storms and blizzard-like conditions.Thankfully we've been able to stay safe, warm and at home most of the time. Alan and I have become extremely fit due to the relentless shoveling, but we've also managed to build some pretty epic forts, caves and sliding hills. It's been fun, but next year we will be purchasing a snowblower.

Photo credit goes to my friend Marissa!
After snowstorm #1. We've since added another 50 +cm!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Seven!!



Caleb turned 7 on Jan 29, and because he is such an incredibly kind, thoughtful, inquisitive, generous, caring and amazing little fella we dedicated 4 full days in his honour. To kick things off, the family joined me on a work trip to Halifax which means a day full of big city fun! A stayed in a hotel room on the 15th floor, swam in the pool, made a mandatory visit to Caleb's favourite candy store, the Freak Lunchbox, ran through a network of skywalks and ended up at the waterfront playground, visited a giant indoor playground,  AND had an amazing birthday dinner party with Lydia and family. And that was all in the first 8 hours of arriving! 

Saturday was our official birthday party day. We rented out the local gym so the kids could raid the equipment room and fun free for an hour before heading back to our place for snacks and a double layered strawberry cake (Caleb's special request). Caleb had long ago asked for an 'Earth Rangers' themed party and wanted his friends to donate some money to the environmental conservation campaign of this choice instead of receiving gifts. He was ecstatic to raise $75 to protect Pine Marten habitat and I think we really impressed the kids with our version of Pin the Tail on the Pine Marten! Birthday party night was capped off with an hour long candlelit glow stick-filled bath which was a real hit for both kids. Thanks Pinterest!

By Sunday, we had to dig a bit deeper to make sure his *actual* birthday topped all the excitement of the previous few days. We started out with presents, a birthday breakfast where he could choose any items off of our special menu. Banana pancakes, bacon, fruit salads and orange juice all around! Caleb and I hit our local theatre for a showing of the movie Sing in the afternoon and ended things off with a make your own pizza party. Whew! It was a lot, but it was very worth it to make Caleb feel extra special, because he is truly an incredible person and it's been an honour being his mom for the past 7 years. 

Photos and Birthday video below!!

Party #1 with the Fudge/Billingsley clan!
A room on the 15th floor overlooking the police station - what more could two boys ask for!

Hop! Skip! Jump! received two thumbs up from Odin and Cale!
Party at our place!
Birthday breakfast!



7 year old laughter during birthday dinner

Some of the money Caleb received was specially allotted towards a birthday shopping spree where a new bball net was purchased. 
And now for Caleb's annual birthday video. He wasn't in the best mood to be recorded at the start, but once Odin jumped in, the genuine smiles came out!