Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Traditions

I know many of my friends aren't crazy about this particular holiday, but I love the fun of it. Carving pumpkins with my kids is one of my favourite yearly traditions, and in this quick post today, I wanted to share their creations.

Connor's "Harry Potter" pumpkin
Each year I get the kids to draw the face that they want carved into their pumpkins, and I attempt to recreate what they have drawn (sometimes with more success than others!) This year, Connor decided he was going to carve his own pumpkin, which I thought was fine, and I suggested that for a first try he might want to try something simple. You know, a couple of triangle eyes, an upside down triangle nose, and a big, wide smile. No, my very creative son was not having any of that! He schemed up a Harry Potter jack-o-lantern, and I think it turned out pretty great. It looks awesome lit up on our doorstep.

Janelle knew exactly what she wanted, as she does with everything. She chose cat eyes, a silly nose, a very crazy mouth, and even some freckles! She did let me carve it, and aside from a few strays from her original design, she was pretty happy with the outcome. It also looks awesome lit up. Today at school she'll be carving her own pumpkin. Hopefully she'll stick to a simple pattern, but who knows with my kids!

Janelle's creation
Tonight we'll have an early supper and then begin the festivities. Connor may "trick-or-treat" with a friend this year, which makes me a little sad, but I think as long as they stay in their own neighbourhoods they'll be fine. I'm happy for him that he is old enough to venture out on his own with a buddy. I still have Janelle to tour around the neighbourhood with, visiting with our neighbours as we go. Chris will probably hand out the candy, which he enjoys doing, checking out all the cool, cute, and scary costumes. Then we'll all meet up at home and sort through the candy.

Halloween can be fun, or it can be awful. I remember a Halloween when I still living at Mom and Dad's, when my little brother (about Connor's age or a bit older at the time) came home crying after having his candy stolen by a bunch of older kids. I was furious with the whole holiday and wondered whether I would ever celebrate it with my own children. I'm glad I chose go ahead and enjoy it, and allow them to as well, but I pray that they never have such a painful Halloween experience. It only takes a few people to ruin it all for kids who are just out to have a little innocent fun.

So despite the scary, creepy aspects of Halloween that I hate, I plan to enjoy this one to the fullest. My werewolf and cowgirl have stars in their eyes this morning, thinking of all the fun to be had tonight. They are off to school in their orange and black, ready for a day of special activities and maybe even a few treats. And I am off to the grocery store to make sure I am well stocked for the visitors to my door this evening!

Have a very safe and happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Counting Blessings

I'm such a fiction junkie that I actually made a commitment a few months ago to read a chapter of some form of non-fiction each day before I allow myself to become immersed in a story. There were several reasons for this challenge to myself: to get into something edifying to myself, to plow through some of those parenting books sitting unread on my bookcase, to make my brain work a little bit! Last month I finished a parenting book, so this month I decided to read something just for me, a book that I've been wanting to get into for quite a while now.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is truly a beautiful book. I've found myself lost in the pages and forgetting all about the novel waiting to be opened! The author weaves words like a poet. She tells her story and her message in such a way that I am not surprised this farmer's wife from rural Ontario has found herself on the New York Times bestseller list! She speaks about gratitude in a new way — suggesting that until we have named the gifts God has given us, we have not truly accepted them. Her challenge, the one she accepted herself long ago and offers to all of her readers, is to create our own lists. Lists of things that we love. Lists of things that bring us joy. Gratitude lists.

I'm starting my list today. Here. I won't always share my list for all to see, but from time to time I'll add a few items, just to focus my mind and my heart. Even when it is hard to think of something. Especially when it's hard to think of something! Here goes...

  1. Freshly painted walls dappled with sunlight.
  2. Cousins laughing together at play.
  3. Joyful and long-awaited news from a friend.
  4. A cozy blanket on a frosty morning.
Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One More Sleep!

The kids and I have been counting down days for a month now, and tomorrow the long awaited day will finally be here: the MacPhees arrive for a whirlwind, action-packed, 5 day excitement filled visit! Actually, Tracy and the kids arrive tomorrow night, and Blair will join them Saturday evening. Connor and Janelle are so excited they can barely stay inside their skin, and I'm pretty excited, too. Tracy has been here once, just a month after we moved in, when she completely surprised me by showing up at my door unannounced (in collusion with Chris, so I actually did have a spare bed set up!) Things have changed around here quite a bit since then, and I'm looking forward to showing all of them around our home and our city.

The agenda is pretty packed! Tracy and the kids fly in tomorrow night at 5:20, and I know my kids will be asking "how many minutes" from the time they get home from school! I'll have something yummy waiting in the crockpot, and the kids will give their cousins the "grand tour" of the house. Saturday will probably involve some shopping, maybe some fun stuff for the kids, picking Blair up from the airport, and maybe dinner out. Sunday afternoon all the boys are taking in the London Lightning basketball team's first exhibition game at the John Labatt Centre, and they just might come home to a turkey dinner. Monday, despite huge protests, my kids are going to school and leaving their cousins to fend for themselves. Tracy and I may sneak away to get a bit of shopping in then. Monday night is the Selena Gomez concert, which causes Janelle to absolutely sparkle whenever mentioned, and I'm pretty sure Jillian lights right up too! Tracy and I can't wait to share this experience with our girls. Tuesday morning we all get up bright and early and head to Niagara Falls for a couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge. What a way to cap off the visit! Wednesday afternoon we'll all head home and take the MacPhees to the airport. I know it is going to fly by way too fast! But we're going to soak up every bit of fun that we can!

I must get back to my preparations! The vacuuming won't get done on it's own (although wouldn't it be great if it could!) Don't expect another post before Oct. 27! I'll be too busy making memories!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Braces, and Construction, and Thankfulness

Could this smile be any bigger? Janelle is thrilled with her new braces, which she got a week ago Monday. There is no complaining at all, even when we have to turn the expander to stretch them every day. She loves them, especially the bright pink elastics she chose herself. After two weeks, we will go see the orthodontist again, and if he feels her jaw has expanded enough, he will apply the wire to hold her new smile in place. I was completely terrified of this as a child! I'm so proud of my brave girl!

As you can see in the above picture, Janelle played the "foreman" on the weekend. Chris took advantage of our summer-like Thanksgiving weather to build shelves for the shed. Yes, it took time away from work on the basement, but this had to be done before winter weather set in. And what better way to spend a weekend of 25C heat in October! Connor was a super helper, and I gave a hand now and then when I could pry myself out of my lounge chair. I had to soak up every bit of those last rays of sun before Autumn decides to stay!

I am thankful for so many things this year. Thankful for the shelves Chris built for the shed so our garage won't be such a tight squeeze this winter. Thankful that we enjoyed such gorgeous weather on Thanksgiving weekend. Thankful that Janelle is happy about her braces and not hurting and whining. Thankful that Connor made the competitive basketball team and is happily out practicing his shots daily. Thankful that my basement is getting closer to finished every day. Thankful that we were able to have a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner in Burlington with family whom we are now able to see on a somewhat regular basis. Thankful that the MacPhees will be here in just over a week to share another turkey with us, and make lots of precious new memories. Thankful that my Mom and Dad are able to leave today to embark on their long awaited train trip across Canada. Thankful for friends, old and new, that are only a phone call away, or just down around the corner. Thankful that London is finally feeling like home.

Why are you thankful this beautiful autumn?
My birthday gift from Lori, which she gave me on Sunday.
I love it so much I just had to post it here!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Apple Land with Cousins!

Don't tell my husband, but there are some things about fall that I just love. What better way to spend a rainy autumn day than a trip to Apple Land Station with cousins? Okay, so we could have done without the rain, but we had enough fun that a return trip is already planned for next fall — with a check on the weather report first, of course!

An apple orchard with a train! It doesn't get better than that!

The whole gang — besides the photographer, you-know-who!

Sweet Remi! Always ready to share an apple, or a hug!

All aboard!

The Labelle Family

The Haines Family

Janelle and her little admirer, Madeleine!

Time to go home. Last smile before braces tomorrow!

Goodbye Apple Land!
We had a great weekend visit with Kate, Pierre, Maddie and Remi. The kids had a blast together, Chris and Pierre made lots of noise, and progress, in the basement, and Kate and I did lots of talking and had a long and wonderful trip to the used bookstore. We rounded it out with a trip apple picking just before the Labelles headed home. We are so glad they've moved to Ontario! Now we can look forward to another visit next weekend for Thanksgiving dinner in Burlington at Lori and Ben's. Mmmm.... Thanksgiving dinner, another thing about fall that I love!