Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Through The Eyes Of An 8-Year Old

I consider my kids lucky because they have two Thanksgivings - Canadian and American.  The tricky part about celebrating two?  Ditching school in Canada for the American holiday.  They're not old enough to miss too much, but a whole week away can interrupt things.  So I always ask what homework we can bring along.  This year, Henry's teacher said he needs to write every day and please keep a journal. 

A journal.  I love journals!  I'm terrible about keeping one myself.  But my kids love writing one when we go away.  And I LOVE reading them when we get back! 

Our Thanksgiving trip was no different. 

Day One

His picture is perfect.  We left for Niagara Falls right after school, so it got dark on the drive.  But 3 hours was actually only 1-1/2.  It's ok.  He's 8.  And although we met up with seven other people too, Uncle Joe is all that matters to him. 

Day Two

Great picture.  We packed the car when we left the hotel, and all five of us helped do it.  But this 3 hours was actually 4-1/2 to Ithaca, NY with a huge grocery stop along the way. 

I agree.  Pie Face was the highlight of the day.

Day Three

We brought our footballs because I've created monsters and our boys are obsessed.  It's for the best, though.  Thursday nights, Monday nights and all day Sundays are exactly as they should be.  Nothing but football on TV and everyone is happy. 

Great Uncle and Bubba (Grandpa)

This is his great uncle, my father's brother.  He lives in Ithaca, NY and is the reason we spend Thanksgiving there each year.  This was our 8th year celebrating in Ithaca and I can't ever imagine us not making the trip.

The Hike

Oh we hiked.  And hiked!  We took all the kids who could walk (ages 9, 8, 4, 4, 2) and went to find the waterfall.  Did we ever!  But...this 3 hours was actually 1-1/2.  Should I be worried?  

The pictures don't do it justice.  The gorges were breathtaking.  The sound of rushing water was beautiful.  And those chain link fences did a great job of keeping us all alive. 

Day Four

Take careful notice of today's entry.  No mention of turkey or family or even pumpkin pie.  The highlight for this 8 year old was his brother's near death experience.

The Bridge

Ok, it wasn't near death.  It wasn't even really very close.  It was a lapse in judgement that could have turned into a something bad, but it was over before it even started.  One word: Boys.

See that bridge?  See the people (us) on that bridge?  And the gorge down below?  We walked across the bridge, took a look around and decided to walk back.  When we walked back, Jake went first and decided to climb up on the waist-high fence along the bridge to do pull-ups on the bar connected to the fence running along the other side of the bridge.  The problem was...the fence was behind that tree you see on the right side of the bridge.  Jake saw a fence next to a tree growing in dirt.  We all saw a fence next to a 200 foot drop into a gorge. 

Henry's picture captures it perfectly.  My brother grabbed Jake before the word "Noooooo!!!" even started coming out of my mouth.  It was slow motion.  We all kinda felt like throwing up. 

And then we walked home and ate turkey. 

Day Five

The day after Thanksgiving always includes a visit to my Aunt and Uncle's house in Ithaca.  It happened to be a beautiful balmy day, so we had a big bonfire after our traditional Chinese take-out dinner.  Highlight for sure.

Day Six

Thank you, Henry.  This 5 hours to drive home actually was about 5 hours, so now I'm not worried anymore.  But maybe I should be worried that the highlight of the entire trip was McDonald's???

The highlights for me were definitely:

Quiet Time

In no particular order ;)

Friday, October 30, 2015

And Then I Turned 40

It was actually two weeks ago today.  But I celebrated it with my husband three weeks ago today.  And with my girlfriends a week and a half ago today. 

Yet, finally, today...I am really truly enjoying it. 

The best part?  I celebrated my birthday day with my family.  My mom, dad, brother and sister all came in town for the annual visit to celebrate Henry's birthday.  So they all happened to be here on my day.  Planned but not planned.  Unintentional.  But totally great. 

I made my better half take a picture of the five of us to mark the occasion.  But because I'm old now, and it happened to be taken after dinner AND dessert, I'm just going to share the dessert picture.


When my kids were little, we used to celebrate "donut day", which meant we ran to Tim Horton's every Saturday morning to get donuts.  Now that they're getting bigger, "donut day" has gone to the wayside.  But whenever my dad is in town, he keeps the tradition alive.  So when he got a box of donuts that Friday afternoon, we couldn't help but use them as part of the celebration.  

Unintentionally totally great. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

And Then School Started

The summer was long and short.  I clearly remember the very last day of school, since it was just yesterday, saying to the handful of teachers I followed out the front door, "I can't wait until September 8!"

Which was totally just yesterday.  -ish.

Anyway, on September 8, these fools started school.

Henry, George, Jake

Jake is starting 4th grade, which is obviously as hilarious to him as it is to me.  He's not almost 10.  He's my baby that is now 100 lbs.  In a size 5 1/2 shoe.  Who is starting to smell stinky.  See?  He and I are doubled over in laughter.

Henry is starting 3rd grade, which is clearly unbelievable to him, too.  It's inconceivable that he's almost 8.  Don't even try telling me he's going to learn cursive.  And be part of organized sports at school.  No.  No way.  Not happening.

And on September 8, George wasn't starting school.  But try telling him that.  It didn't go over well...

Instead, he started today.


Today, I packed three backpacks.  It was amazing.  I will make three lunches every morning.  I will!  Because I am making three.  All three. 

Did you hear me say three???

First Day

When we got to school, of course he took the obligatory photo in front of the handmade school sign. 

Because...who doesn't want a picture in front of the handmade school sign?

Blue Eyes

His brothers bolted to their friends.  So I took him by the hand to line up.  Then tried to take a million pictures, of which none turned out.  No kisses.  No smiles.  All business.  Then I snuck this one of ol' blue eyes.

I Got This

His teacher led the line inside, and he followed the girl in front of him to the double doors.  I called his name and he turned around.  Typical George.  The eyebrow.  Just like his dad.  I sent this picture to my mom and she spotted it right away.

I spent the day working at home, but thought about George ALL DAY.  Surely he peed in his pants.  I bet he got tired or bored and started whining & crying.  Which little kid did he pick a fight with...


"Mom! I had a cupcake because today was my friend's birthday!"

Now, that's the best first day ever.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

We Went To Spain - Part 1

I turn 40 this Fall.  So for the last almost 3 years, I've been saving up for my 40th birthday trip to Spain.  With the whole family.  Kids included.  I know.  Everyone did a double take when I told them.  Kids too?  Kids too.

So. Great. Loved. It.

4 backpacks, 3 suitcases, 2 computer bags, 1 purse

We did so much.  Here's part one.

Part one includes visiting my oldest dearest friend, Maria.  She was a foreign exchange student that stayed with my family the summer after I graduated 8th grade.  The story goes...I was all signed up and ready to study French in my first year of high school.  But after her visit, I changed to Spanish and spent a month the following summer with her in Spain.  A few years later, she stayed with us again, I stayed with her again, and the rest is history.

Which means...we have far too many embarrassing photos of each other.

So, of course, our trip to Spain included visiting Maria immediately.

Maria, my boys, Plaza Mayor

Surreal.  My friend, my places, my memories...all coming back to me with my kids at my side.  Worlds colliding.  Ice cream in Plaza Mayor.  Best day ever.

Until the next day.

McDonald's Espana

When we had McDonald's for lunch.  I was told the ketchup tastes different and so do the burgers, kind of.  But the fries?  Same.  :)

And then we visited Maria's ranch and had a tour.  In case my worlds weren't colliding enough already.

Very very close up view.

Maria's family raises hundreds of cattle.  Most for meat, some for bullfighting.  We saw them all.  In a ranch truck, without seatbelts, communicating in different languages.  (Maria's dad speaks no English - my kids speak no Spanish)  It was amazing.  The words were there - but they weren't.  It didn't matter.  Which brought me back to the first time I visited their ranch and had NO idea what her mom and dad were saying to me.  Did I mention my worlds were colliding?

And the next day...

El Tentadero - Maria's brother Curro

They hosted a beautiful party.  In English terms: it was an event to test brave cows and determine which are suited to be sold for meat or kept to bear bulls for bullfighting.  No cows were hurt in the tentadero.  But the boys got a bird's eye view of a bullring, even standing behind a wall inside the ring.  Worlds colliding...!!!

In the end, we got to stage a few pictures.


These guys may not be torero material, but this one might be a framer.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Featuring...The Front Garden

How long has it been?  Too long. 

I got a job!  A wonderful, flexible, perfect part-time job.  I love it.  It's hourly.  I work from home, I can volunteer at the school occasionally and I pick the kids up every single day.  Heaven!

But it's not very conducive to blogging.  Sorry, dad.

So now that I've explained where I've about I show one of the (few) projects we've done lately?!?

Like I said, it's been too long.  Way too long.  Last summer, we demolished and rebuilt our porch.  Then we got as far as painting it...and stopped.  Which was fine - it was September.  The garden can wait. 

Painted...and done.

Here's October.  Which is exactly how it looked the following April.  A bunch of dirt and some leaves.


Until last weekend, when the kids went to Grandma's house for a Victoria Day mega-sleepover!!!

I decided to keep it simple.  No flowers.  Low maintenance.  Modern-ish.

Hakonechloa macra "All Gold"

In the front,  I chose a shade tolerant yellow ornamental grass.  Yellow, because it POPS in front of the green porch.  Shade tolerant, because the front garden gets minimal direct sunlight. 

It faces east, so it gets morning sun...which the car mostly blocks since it's against our parking pad.  I learned long ago, don't fight the sunlight your garden gets - work with it.  So with any luck, this variety of Japanese forest grass should be happy here. 

And if it's happy, I sure will be too.

Buxus "Green Gem"

Behind that, I chose a row of boxwood bushes.  This variety, "Green Gem", is different because it tolerates full sun/full shade.  I've planted other bushes here over the last decade.  Some have worked (hydrangea, variegated dogwood - kind of) and some have not (spirea, burning bush - never turned red in fall, and countless full-sun/part-shade perennials).  Sunlight has been the problem.  So finding a variety that can tolerate a full range of light gives me hope these will survive, too. 

I stressed and slept on and changed my mind and revisited and reconfirmed my simple plan for two rows of bushes and grasses.  A few times.  Multiple times.  Then one more time.  But when the boys were gone and we had a few open hours, Steve decided to pull the trigger. 

Newly Planted

We visited our local nursery and almost fainted at the prices.  So right then and there, in the 'ornamental grasses' section, we googled a nursery outside the city and took a little trip.  Best decision ever. 

Islington Nurseries had a variety of boxwoods in a smaller size (which were 20% off at the register - surprise!) and multiple containers of the grass at a better price than downtown. 



Combined with the pop of color at the door in the background, I just love pulling up to our house.  The front garden is complete.  Finally!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fiddle Leaf Figs Do Not Like Me

I love to garden.  I can't wait to dive into my backyard and get dirty.  I don't have a black thumb. 

But fiddle leaf figs do not like me. 

Actually, I think they just don't like my bay window. 

Fig #1

It faces north.  It gets little indirect light.  The semi-transparent shades that hide the neighbors' cluttered backyards don't help.

Fig #2

But the first one lasted almost a year.  So I got a 2nd one.  And then it died.

I'll spare you the sadness.

I swore off plants.  Nothing alive will live here.  Instead, I started googling other options.  Artwork.  Sculptures.  DIY something!  Nothing inspired me.

But then I remembered Modern Jane's Instagram shot of a vase filled with greenery.  No flowers.  Just green.  Yes, it's alive...but how much light could simple greenery need...???

The very next day, a West Elm coupon landed in my inbox. 

Isn't that awesome?  Such a great view through those shades.  Light be damned, I can't live without those shades. 

And I filled those vases with something tall, something ferny and something small.  I need the height in this window.  Anything short looks really awful.  Filling the space at least 3/4 high is a must.

The vases were an investment.  But the branches and greenery?  So cheap!  That bundle of branches was $15.  $15!!!!  You can guess how much those little green sprigs cost.  Less than a latte.

Cherry Blossoms

The branches are blooming.  I guess I got flowers, afterall.  She said low light would be fine, they just might not open up...but I see some!!!

I can almost ignore what's outside that window.  Almost.  Just look for little flowers.

View from the entryway

I left the price tags on the vases, just in case.  I wavered between loving the new setup and feeling like I lived in a West Elm store when I walked into my house. 

But after a few days, when Steve noticed I made the change, he gave me a thumbs up.  I think those vases are staying ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easy-To-Change Artwork Display

My last post was a guest post about my oldest son's decorating skills in his own (new) room.  And how I cringed.  Then got inspired.  And thought about more...

Here's more!

First.  Let's recall.

So. Much. Better.
Even close up!

I've created a monster.  It's my own doing.  I'm okay with it.  Repeat.

Repeat?  Yes!  Other side of the room?  Why not! 

Again.  BETTER. 

Waaaaay better than a calendar duct taped to the wall.  That was the before-before picture I missed.  I was too busy slowly peeling back tape hoping it wouldn't take strips of drywall with it.  Ugh. 

So this wall.  Same painted wood with hooks and command strips as before. 

Plus a ledge.  IKEA's RIBBA picture ledge.  I didn't use command strips there.  Just 3 screws into the wall, one into a stud.  The frames are much heavier than paper with a bulldog clip, so I didn't want to risk it. 

It's perfectly shallow enough for this wall in this room.  Because there ain't much space between the foot of the bed and that wall.  There's enough.  But no extra.  It's perfect!

More close up?  Yes!  

It perfectly hides the outlet and cat5 connection for a future TV.  (All our bedrooms have this now and it's dreamy.  The bedrooms on the 2nd floor have them in the middle of the wall instead of at the baseboard so we can mount a TV without seeing wires.)  I made sure to space out the hooks above them so a double-wide art collage can cover them. 

Because a 9-year old doesn't need a TV...yet.

I chose the ledge because having framed photos is just as important as his art.  And he can change the pictures out as he wants.  But who's gonna swap out a signed photograph from #70 TJ Lang?!?!

Really.  Who's the monster here?

We still need to put something in that upper left corner.  I'm thinking a clock.  Something big?  Silly?  Modern?  He was thinking a Green Bay Packers wall decal.

I know who the monster is...!!!