Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth

Disney - it's been on the bucket list for years, and this year we finally made it happen.



We drove out, road trip adventures are something we both enjoyed as kids and were excited to share with the bits, and it turned out wonderfully! They were perfect travellers. We took two days to drive down, arriving in Orlando in time for a late dinner and swim. We stayed at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside resort, and I can't recommend it enough, it was really special, not over the top 'themed' like many of the other Disney properties, focussing instead on just gorgeous grounds, perfect little pools dotted among the lodges which were set into wooded and landscaped areas with walking paths and bridges. Our plan was to spend two days in the parks, a day poking around Orlando, then two days with C's parents who have a condo in Fort Lauderdale before driving back home.



The next morning we boarded the shuttle for Magic Kingdom. C had been there as a kid, and we'd both been to Disneyland in California 12 years ago with big J, but this was the bits first experience. They were amazed, and overwhelmed (and frankly so was I!) The day flew by, and it was incredible to watch my almost teenager turn back into a little girl.



Day two was Epcot, and this was a first for all 4 of us. I loved Epcot! It really works for the older people, and the nerds, and I'm definitely both. Epcot was substantially larger than we thought, and we were substantially more tired than we anticipated, so we saw only about half of what the park had to offer. We did, however, enjoy two spectacular meals there, a buffet breakfast where princesses visited each child at the table (worth.every.penny) and an Oktoberfest-inspired German buffet dinner with communal seating and a polka band (the friendly people in our group had a wonderful time chatting!)



In retrospect, 2 days at Disney isn't enough. We tried so hard to see as much as possible that we were just exhausted, legs aching, brain fogged. But oh so worth it! If we do it again (and I hope we'll go back!) we'll spend 4. Plus C really wants to see Animal Kingdom, and the bits are sad to have missed Hollywood Studios.

Day 3 we had a leisurely breakfast, then hit the pool. It was the first hot non-rainy day of our trip (25C and full sun). The kids were in heaven.



We packed our things and loaded up the van, then took the water taxi from the resort to Downtown Disney, what a cool ride and a cool place. C started feeling unwell, so he went back to the resort while the kids and I shopped and explored.



Dinner back at the resort, then off to Ft Lauderdale. The rain, sadly, followed us, but we didn't let that deter us from a beach visit. It was the bits first experience with the ocean (they loved the waves, but didn't care for the saltiness of the water).



It was the perfect denouement to our trip, relaxing, comfortable, warm.



The drive home was fine, if quieter. We were compelled to take an extra day because of storms back home, but we had perfect driving weather.

I can't wait for our next adventure!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2014



2014? Wasn't it 1999 just yesterday?

One Little Word - concept that Ali Edwards has been promoting for years; one word that influences and guides your year. I wanted to play along this year, and I've been thinking about 'my word' for weeks. I knew right away what I wanted: let go. But, of course, 'let go' isn't one little word, it's two little words. And I spent weeks - WEEKS! wasting my precious mental resources trying to come up with an 'appropriate' word...

And that's why I need 'let go'. Let go of unrealistic expectations, let go of the little things, let go of the fear, of the disappointments, of regret. Live in the now.

Let go.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Raking

C and little J and I spent about 4 hours raking leaves today (and that didn't cover half of our yard). 18 well compacted giant bags of leaves later, every part of my body hurts. Oh man am I out of shape! (Unless you count round as a shape).


But we got it done, and it was a glorious day to spent outside with two of my favourite guys.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In the big house...

The United Way was selling tours of the recently decommissioned Kingston Penitentiary. C lived down the street from KP briefly as a child and has been curious about it ever since. We were incredibly fortunate to get tickets, they sold out super fast.

We took the kids out of school so that they could experience the tour too. We were guided by a current corrections officer who worked at KP right up until the end (and has since transferred to another facility), he was a little light on the history of the amazing old place, but the picture he painted of life there just prior to the decommissioning was incredible, vivid and thought-provoking.

The 'main entrance' as viewed from the inside.

Little J in a standard general population cell, incredibly tiny!

Beautiful architecture in the 'shop dome', where inmates could learn a trade or complete an apprenticeship.

Razor wire. This stuff was EVERYWHERE. I never knew what razor wire was until this tour, it actually has double sided razors all along the coils. Creepy.

After our tour we spent some time in the penitentiary museum, across the street in the original warden's house, then lunch together at 5 Guys. Such an interesting, educational but still cool day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thanksgiving camping

A return trip to Cedar Point Park in New York state to camp for Thanksgiving weekend. In contrast to last year, the weather was absolutely spectacular, warm and sunny (except for a little rain overnight Sunday and early Monday morning).


The park had tons of programming for the kids, costumes, hay rides, trick or treating around the campground to name a few.


We also took a little trip into Watertown for shopping and Olive Garden, but mostly we just enjoyed being together in the beautiful surroundings.


I love Thanksgiving camping!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hello Fall

A quiet stroll through Mer Bleue, all by myself, to enjoy the peace and quiet, and spectacular fall colours.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Extreme Makeover: J-man's room edition

A very very very very very long awaited redecoration of J-man's room commences. He's chosen a brilliant smurf blue (officially called 'Wind Tick', who names these things???) for the bottom, white for the top (with a strong arm twist from mama) and bright orange for the dividing strip. Should be, uh, interesting?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First day of school

Woah summer went by fast!


They look so old! My babies!

Monday, August 26, 2013

NYSF 2013

In what has become an annual tradition, we again spent a week of summer vacation in the Syracuse area, camping, shopping and visiting the New York State Fair.


As always the trip wasn't without its, uh, challenges (our car getting hit in the mall parking lot by a woman driving her new car for the first time, a kid singing the most forlorn version of 'Crazy Train' over and over at an ungodly hour right outside our tent, heatstroke and torrential rain on the same day...) but it was a great trip and we all enjoy camping together and poking around the fair too. Just being together.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Opening Night

A rather large part of our summer has been occupied by twice weekly (plus) rehearsals for the Dundas County Players' youth summer workshop production of Alice in Wonderland. Tonight, finally, was opening night. It wasn't without issues, there were a few forgotten lines (though none by either bit), but it was surprisingly good, and really, really funny. Most importantly of all, the bits were just thrilled with themselves.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Camping on the beach

We enjoyed a quick weekend getaway in our new-to-us tent trailer, staying at Golden Lake campground, in a site right on the water.


The weather was decent, the lake was lovely, the campground was, well, a bit close and a bit crowded, but it was fun.

We took a day trip to Bonnechere caves. It wasn't really what I was expecting, the caves were neat, but you couldn't explore or even walk through without a tour guide who talked incessantly, mostly about the 'adventures' of the caves' owner, and who really rather rushed the process (plus our tour group was around 25 people, which is a lot for tight subterranean caves). That said, Katie LOVED it. And Jonah HATED it. LOL, on the plus side, helping Jonah deal with his abject terror kept my mind away from any claustrophobic thoughts!

(Don't let that smile fool you - he was miserable).

All too soon it was time to bid the beach good bye. Can't wait for our next adventure!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

In a jam

For once we managed to get a couple of buckets of cherries from our sour cherry tree before the birds got to them (is it all the rain that delayed their cherry feast?)


I decided to make cherry jam. I've never made sour cherry jam before, and I don't know why, it's AMAZING! The contrast between the tartness of the cherry bits and the sugary jelly. I hope the birds leave me a few pounds next year because these jars probably won't even last until fall...


Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day?

We attempted to do Canada Day on the Hill (not the whole day, just the early part, there was a concert by Carly Rae Jepsen (who the kids love) and an appearance by Commander Hadfield (who I love!). It was awful (not Carly Rae, or Cmdr Hadfield, they were awesome, what little of them we saw). The hill was crowded beyond even my wildest dreams, and security was ridiculous, a queue over a kilometre long to get to a security checkpoint manned by 3 police officers searching bags, etc, then 150 or so cops all along the perimeter of the hill who's sole job it appears was barking at little kids who wanted to climb up on the walls that hold the fencing so that they could see what was going on.

I understand the 'need' for security (I don't, but I'm trying to be magnanimous) but my tax dollars, and the tax dollars of the thousands of other people who simply didn't want to queue up for 2 hours in the heat to see a 15 minute show, pay for every aspect of this, the building, the 'security', the entertainment. And we're denied enjoyment of what we've funded. The bad guys have won.

(here's a cute picture, so that the entire post isn't a complete downer)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Double digits

His birthday fell during a sleepaway Cub camp. His birthday cake was delayed, which lead to sad boy, which lead to sad mama. This sweet, oh so sensitive boy, he's so much like me, that makes it awfully tough sometimes.


My last baby. He isn't a baby anymore...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Project Life: my title page

Project life is a 'memory keeping system' (so says the promotional material), but really, it's a scrapbook with pockets that are supposed to make recording your life easier. I was pretty excited about this concept, not because I'm looking for easy (heck no, I generally take the most difficult route for everything!) but because I wanted a place to put those random one-off photos, cellphone pictures, ticket stubs and the other bits and bobs of daily life. So I plunged in. And every single page I've done has taken 20 times longer than it should. But you know what? I love them. And the kids love the book already. I know I'll be even more thrilled a few years from now to look back at our normal, typical, maybe a little boring lives.

I thought I'd share some of the pages here. To start, here is my title page:

title_page

The blue and red 4x6 cards are from the Cobalt Project Life core kit, the orange 3x4 cards are from the internet.

And here is week 1:

Week_1

Again a couple of cards from the Cobalt core kit, a couple from the internet and 1 from a Studio Calico kit. And tucked into one of the pockets is a ticket stub from our NYE movie (exactly why I wanted to do this project!) I've also included the view from my office window, I hope to put that into every week, as a visual cue to the changing seasons (we'll see anyway)

Week 2:

Week_2

1 core kit card, one internet card and a bit of scrapbook paper. A newspaper clipping (well, a picture of the newspaper clipping, newspaper itself would yellow and fall apart).

Week 3:

Week_3

A couple of core kit cards, a studio calico card, another movie stub, and even a little bit of writing directly *on* the pictures. I feel like I can have fun with these in ways that I wouldn't in my regular scrapbooks.

That's enough for today, I'll post more pages bit by bit.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A bright pretty little quilt

Another from the WIP list (#4 in my original post) I made this for my coworker's second baby daughter. She came a little early, so this one was an 'after her arrival' gift. Which turned out well as I was able to include a label with her name on it.



Everything in this quilt came from my stash, I purchased nothing new. There are fabric bits leftover from A's baby quilt, N's baby quilt, Sam's baby quilt and a dress I made Katie when she was a toddler. The solid purple backing is leftover from Jennifer's purple quiltie. Even the batting was leftover from another project. I'm pretty pleased by how cohesive it all looks given the multiple sources. More importantly it turned out bright and happy, which is what I wish for this baby and her parents.

Monday, March 25, 2013

WIP Follow-up #1

Well it's late March and I have precious little to show for it in terms of my WIP list. Little - but not nothing.



#12 on the list, the Nautical New Wave baby quilt, is done and was gifted last week. I love how it turned out, though the back had to be improvised on the fly after my machine flat out refused to quilt through the marine blue ultra cuddle fabric I'd bought to back it.



An almost big enough piece of blue bisected by a strip of leftover pieces from the front. Bound in red it's boyish without being baby. I think it almost feels preppy :)

I've also (finally) ordered the Kona coal I need to finish #1 on the list. Slow and steady right?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Star is Born

OK she wasn't actually the *star* (though of course I only had eyes for her) but Katie made her stage debut in our community theatre's production of The Wizard of Oz.



Best Munchkin ever :)

I've complained quietly, but endlessly, about the process. It's been a ridiculously long 4 months, 6+ hours a week of rehearsals, endless emails and notes and emails about notes, the driving, the waiting and waiting as rehearsals routinely went over, the utter exhaustion. But she was breathtaking. The whole production was good, but the children were just spectacular, consummately professional, not a missed cue, not a missed line, not a missed step, they showed up the adults in every one of the 6 performances (and the young actress who played Dorothy, oh she was the best of the bunch!)

She can't wait to audition again for next year's show.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Twelve

My baby princess is 12.



And what an incredible 12 years it's been. She is brilliant, witty, dramatic, challenging, loving, outgoing and so very brave. She's been independent since she was a toddler but now she's also incredibly self reliant. She's always eager to try new things (though getting her to stick with any of them can be difficult).



Nearly everything she tries she is good at right away. She is enormously talented in music, an excellent writer, strong in math. She's a strong swimmer and a good runner. She has an incredibly memory, and a real gift for remembering people.



She loves fashion and accessories (especially hats), and perfume and stinky candles, and shoes. She's a whiz with computers and electronics, but secretly she still loves her dolls too.

She is so much more than I ever imagined possible, she surprises and delights me daily. I can't wait to see what the next 12 years have in store...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Finally, NHL hockey again

I'm a huge hockey fan, this lock-out was just excruciating, but now hockey is back! Tonight C and the bits are at the Ottawa/Carolina game (and mama is having a quiet evening at home, nursing the headache that never ends and listening to the game on the radio).


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The 'WIPs'

WIP is an acronym for 'work in progress', and as someone who enjoys starting things a little more than finishing them I've accumulated a few quilting 'WIPs'. So, in the hopes of encouraging myself (or possibly shaming myself) to get them done I'm going to catalogue them all here and update on my progress over the year. I have 12 WIPs, there are 12 months - can I finish them all?


1. James' oscilloscope quilt
Details: This is a quilting bee quilt, but I didn't get back enough squares to finish it. I've been making blocks on and off for it since.
What I need to get it done: Charcoal Kona, (the grey background fabric), I haven't got enough and I can't source it locally. I think this will have to wait for my next trip Stateside.
Timeline: I'd love to have this done by his birthday in July.

2. Ocean Blue quilt
Details: Another bee quilt, or rather several bees. This is destined to be a queen size quilt for my bed. I'm actually surprised that I have as many blocks as I do, with a little sashing (probably dark grey) I'll only need 3 more blocks.
What I need to get it done: Sashing, backing and batting. And motivation.
Timeline: Knowing that this is closer than I thought makes me itchy to get it done, but since it's for me there is no deadline.

3. Blue baby zigzag
Details: this is my oldest WIP, I don't even remember starting this. The blocks come from this tutorial, use fabrics I no longer have and, I think maybe broadcloth for the white?
What I need to get it done: Eesh, do I want to get it done, really? It's tiny in current format, sewn together and trimmed it'd be maybe 18 x 24, hardly seems worth the effort.
Timeline: I'll give myself a couple of weeks to decide whether to try to make something from this, or just scrap it entirely.

4. Baby girl baby quilt
Details: hardly fair to call this is WIP since I haven't started, but a coworker will be welcoming a little girl into the world soon and a baby quilt will be needed :)
What I need to get it done: Everything! But to start, inspiration.
Timeline: Baby is due early May, so this needs to be finished mid-April at the latest.

5. Wookie's I-spy quilt
Details: A companion piece to Princess' I-spy, this got shelved when I realized that he hated the feeling of the minky dot I'd chosen for the backing.
What I need to get it done: Just batting, the top is pieced, new minky-but-not-textured backing is waiting, this is just utter laziness that it hasn't been completed.
Timeline: I'm thinking this will be the first finish from the WIP list, I'll try to set aside a couple of hours next weekend and get 'er done.

6. D and Z's i-spy quilts
Details: Planned i-spy quilts for my cousin's two sweet boys. Stalled by indecision - do I make them comfy couch size like Princess and Wookie's (around 50 inches square) or do I add in some solids and bring them up to a proper twin for their beds?
What I need to get it done: Well, if I go with twin I'll need to cut 150 squares of solid coloured fabric for each. Either way each will also need backing and batting.
Timeline: No set timeline but aiming for fall

7. Robots baby quilt
Details: I don't remember starting this either :O. It's the leftovers from Wookie's quilt plus a really striking orange geometric print that I wish I had a ton more of.
What I need to get it done: Looks like there's enough fabric to make a small baby quilt top, something in the 24 x 30 realm, so I'd only need backing and batting.
Timeline: Well I have no destination for this, so I have no deadline, but it'd be nice to have a baby quilt ready for the next friend who pops out a little bundle. Or I could donate it... since it's small and there isn't much left to do I'd like to get to this within the next couple of months

8. Sunkissed quilt
Details: This is a project for future me. I love this fabric, and have been accumulating bits of it. In my mind I see it as a stacked coins quilt ( like this ) but that could change.
What I need to get it done: That really depends on where I go with it, but at a minimum lots of white sashing to make those pretty colours pop, and batting and backing. Probably a few more FQs of Sunkissed too.
Timeline: It's for me, so whenever I get around to it!

9. Suzanne's lighthouse quilt
Details: Planning a lap quilt for my MIL to use at their cottage. I jumped in too fast and started cutting without any real plan, now I'm unsure what I'll do with the pieces.
What I need to get it done: A plan! In all honesty, pulling out the fabrics makes me realize that I'm still not over my annoyance with myself for hacking that fabric up without a plan. It might be awhile before I can push past that.
Timeline: Well, her birthday is in May, if I can get a plan together that'd be a good time to shoot for. otherwise, well Christmas is coming...

10. Neighbourhood quilt
Details: Another bee quilt. Even with the wide sashing between the blocks that I'd planned I'm still a few short. I'd originally planned this as a companion for Princess's quilt (she has bunk beds) but she's rapidly becoming too old and cool for such a cute design...
What I need to get it done: A minimum of 3 more house blocks, and a whole lot of wide sashing, as well as batting and backing.
Timeline: I just don't know, I guess I can finish it up and see if she's even interested? I guess if she's not that it might suit my little niece... I'd like to get it done by September.

11. Chocolate baby quilt
Details: Pieced this out of leftovers, for no reason at all. Picture of all of the blocks here. The blocks are now pieced into strips, but that's as far as I've gotten.
What I need to get it done: I have my heart set on backing this with chocolate minky, but my last trip to ye olde fabric store of uselessness (aka Fabricland) yielded nothing. I think I'll have to wait until my next trip Stateside.
Timeline: No plans for this, so no deadline, but since it'll be April before I'm in the states again this won't get touched until at least then.

12. Nautical new wave baby quilt
Details: a baby sized version of Oh Fransson's New Wave quilt pattern, in nautical fabrics, for a dear friend who is expecting her first (a boy) at the beginning of April.
What I need to get it done: probably 2 - 3 more FQs of nautical print fabric, plus batting and backing. I bought the acrylic template for making the blocks, which should make cutting them so much faster than last time.
Timeline: Has to has to has to be done by early March. Eep!

Twelve WIPs which should, I think, result in 11 new quilts by years end (on the fence about #3 there, really leaning towards just tossing it)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our (not-so-little) Idol

Again this year Princess participated in Greely Idol, a singing competition for children in a village near here. Again she didn't place top 5, but she amazed us with her poise and fearlessness and power. I see great things in her future...