September 24, 2017

remember summer?

Remember summer? Seems that it just passed by in the blink of an eye. It's possible that I say that every year, but wow - this one really flew. 

At 8 (nearly 9) and 6, my girls are at such a fun age. Naps are a thing of the past, they can stay up a little later, they are fun and silly and always up for an adventure. Between Cal and I, we managed to get a fair bit of vacation this summer which is always a treat, and we definitely filled the summer with good, old-fashioned memory making. 


In early June another season of soccer began - Lady M's fifth year playing, and Lady A's third year. Lady M is a badass on the soccer field - she is fierce and competitive, and throws in the odd cartwheel on the field just for good measure. I absolutely love watching her play - she pours her heart into it, and isn't afraid to throw the odd elbow - much to the chagrin of some players on the other team! One opponent even tattled on her to the ref during one game, which made Cal and I smile on the sidelines. It's awesome to watch her progress each summer, but more importantly to see the smile on her face when she plays. (Now we just need to work on the frown when she loses a game!)

Lady A played on an all-girls team for the first year, which means that she had her foot on the ball WAY more this summer and really began to build her confidence. A naturally kind little girl, she learned that it was okay to steal the ball, and beamed with pride each time she got a goal! With only 5 girls on her small team, she had an amazing season and is already looking forward to the next one. 

Each year, I like to take off the first week of summer - working in a school board it's a nice break after the craziness of June. For my girls, I like them to ease into the simple joys of summer - lingering in their jammies as long as they'd like, riding bikes on the street, playing with friends, and just generally being kids in the summer. I prefer that to sending them right off to summer camp, where the routine remains the same for all of us (wake up, make lunches, get out the door...you know the drill). That week we simply enjoyed hanging out and playing with neighbours and friends. It was a delightfully relaxing week! 

Back to the grind for me the second week of summer means that the girls were off to camp. Lady M had the opportunity to go to her long-awaited horseback riding camp. She's been asking for this for ages, and after taking lessons for a year, the time had come! She gladly spent each day that week at the barn tacking, grooming, mucking out stalls, playing in the loft, and of course, riding. She was a dirty mess each night, with a great big smile on her face. 

Lady A spent that same week at Art Camp and had a chance to let her inner Picasso shine! She created project after project and was so proud of each and every creation that she brought home. A winning week for both of the girls! 

Later in July both girls attended a dance camp that they have gone to for years. Mostly crafts and activities with a little bit of dance, they enjoyed every minute of it. Our favourite part is the recital at the end of the week, of course, when our little dancers get to show off their skills! Mostly because it's about 4 minutes of pure cuteness. 

After a few weeks back at work, I was able to take off the first two weeks of August. The first week was a classic stay-cation. The girls and I filled our time playing with friends and just enjoying being at home. Of course we also had to start packing for our favourite summer adventure...the sports & leadership camp where I work each summer. 

The second week of August brought about our adventure up north, which I'll share about in a separate post, because it really deserves it's own!

By far, our favourite adventure this summer was simply the days we spent on our boat. We didn't even have to travel that far, as the girls were perfectly happy riding for a bit, then stopping the boat in the middle of Lake Ontario and just jumping in to swim. We had different friends and family out on the boat to spend time with us (some handled it well...others learned that seasickness plagued all three of their children...at one time!). But each day out on the lake was just the best family time of all. 

And in case the boat wasn't enough, we capped off the summer by picking up a pair of used Sea-Doos to add to the watercraft collection. Now we are just trying to squeeze the remaining warm days of summer out of September before we have to pack all the toys away. Thank goodness the Ontario September has been beautifully warm and sunny! 

Each summer is amazing, but this one has been my favourite of all...so far. 

May 14, 2017

get back on the horse

Lady M takes horseback riding lessons every Saturday morning. Riding since this past September, she has really taken a liking to it and is incredibly respectful of these large animals, taking great care of them as she tacks and grooms, and genuinely enjoying her lesson every time she rides. Each week, she rotates between about 3 different horses, and had a chance to ride the pony one day as well.

Lady M - riding the pony at the barn
She talks about horses all the time, reads about them every chance she gets, and is constantly learning as much as she can. She's excited to try out horseback riding camp for the first time this summer, and frequently talks about getting a horse of her own. (I've gently let her know that she's welcome to get one when she's an adult!)

I'm always been a little leery of horses, knowing they are much, much larger than my little 8 1/2 year old - well, bigger than everyone who rides them, of course. But my little girl looks so small when she's on them.

So, you can imagine how small she looked last weekend as her horse - on it's first lap around the arena - all of a sudden decided to lower down onto her belly while my daughter was riding - certainly not a common occurrence in her lessons.

Lady M had the good sense to quickly remove her feet from the stirrups, and jump off as the horse lowered itself to the ground and began to roll toward Lady M who was pushed up against the arena wall. Thankfully, before she rolled too far, the horse took off and began cantering around the arena, relishing in her riderless freedom. I stood there, frozen, unable to help, but was grateful to the one helper who was in the ring who swiftly helped Lady M up and brought her into the centre of the arena, while the other girl in her lesson was quickly taken off her horse, and they tried to catch the rogue horse. They caught her, and immediately led her out of the arena then walked my quivering little girl over to me. The whole thing probably took about 45 seconds to a minute, but I've never felt so helpless.

Lady M crawled gently into my lap and cried very softly, clearly shaken from what had transpired. I was trying to keep myself together, though was fighting back tears, of course.

Although given the option of riding another horse, she chose not to get back on that day. Instead, she just wanted to stay close to her mum. Truth is, I didn't want to let her go either. After a short time and opportunity to relax, she decided that she just wanted to get home and get cleaned up since she was covered in dirt from head to toe, and her boots were full of it too.

Upon chatting afterwards, I learned that she was most upset because she thought she had done something wrong to make the horse behave like that. I assured her that she had done everything perfectly - as her teacher had shared before we left - and she seemed a little more relaxed, the colour returning to her face.

Following a nice, warm shower, Cal and Lady A called on their way home from her gymnastics class. Lady M shared that "there was a little incident" in her riding class, but had turned it around at that point, telling her Dad what had happened and already discussing which horse she would ride next week.

She has recovered well from it, and wasn't hurt at all which is most important. Yesterday she went back to the barn for her lesson and did extremely well - her confidence unshaken, she had a great ride.

Way to get back on the horse, Lady M!

this is 6!

Recently, our littlest lady celebrated her 6th birthday...that's right, she needs two hands now to show us how old she is! What happened to my little baby? Getting ready to graduate kindergarten and start grade one french immersion in the fall, our youngest girl is no longer a baby.

Because all good things come back around, Lady A has fallen in love with Care Bears this past year. Basically a throwback to my own childhood in the 80's where I had plenty of Care Bears, she has now started a fresh, new, colourful collection.

Her birthday was on a Tuesday this year, so we began the day bright and early with a couple of presents before heading off to school. We had chosen a rainbow dress for her to wear, and had wrapped it up the night before with a new headband so she'd have a sparkly new outfit to wear on her special day. When she opened it, she loved it...but there was just one problem. The sales clerk hadn't removed the security tag from the dress. So, rather than let it appear as though we stole her birthday present, I quickly grabbed another gift that I knew had more clothes in it and we were all good!

That day when I picked her up from school, she was SUPER excited and practically yelling as she told me all about her day. Turns out that she had "happy birthday " sung to her numerous times....once by me in the morning, then by her before-school group, then by her class, and once again in her after-care program. As she loudly shared the details of her day, we drove over to Lady M's school to pick her up.

When we walked in the room, Lady M declared "you're here early!", to which the little one replied (loudly) "BECAUSE IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!". Well, that was all we needed for Lady M's after-care group to launch into the 5th rendition of "happy birthday" that Lady A had received that day. She was glowing with happiness.

That evening, we had family over for dinner. The week before I had questioned Lady A as to what she wanted to have for her bday dinner, to which she replied "grilled cheese". Not the fanciest of options, but hey - you only turn 6 once! So for the evening Cal and I had purchased and prepared numerous grilled cheese toppings - ham, turkey, bacon, tomato, guacamole, sauteed onions and peppers, numerous types of cheese and bread - so we could have a 'gourmet' grilled cheese bar. Everyone received a menu upon arrival, and chose their favourite topping combination which was then made to order by the short order cook (me)!

And for the record...should you ever need to make grilled cheese for a crowd, did you know that you can do them in the oven? Yup - it's brilliant. I was cooking 9 grilled cheese sandwiches at a time, and they turned out perfectly!

The day was capped off with homemade chocolate cupcakes, and - you guessed it - one more rendition of Happy Birthday, which brought the day's singing total to 6. Six times on her sixth birthday made for one very happy (and very sleepy) 6-year old.

That weekend, we continued the celebration with 10 little girls at the house, and a Care Bears themed party. The girls played "pin the tummy on the Care Bear", we had rainbow coloured everything, assorted games, prizes and the piece de resistance - our face painter!

We hired a face painter to come to the house, and he was amazing. He did these beautiful, high-quality paintings on each of the girls' faces and they were super excited.

Overall, I think Lady A had a great birthday week, and has had a great start to being 6.

playing catch up - winter 2017

This winter has been filled with travels for both Cal and I. I kicked off the year by heading to Denver for a conference in January, which was fantastic. As someone who is typically developing and delivering learning sessions of all kinds, it was sooooo nice to sit back and just be a learner. I soaked up my three days there, and enjoyed my first trip to Colorado, though I didn't get to travel much beyond the hotel. Of course I was there just days after Trump's inauguration which made for an interesting time to travel to the States. But that's probably a story for another day! 

At the beginning of February, I also got to hop on a plane to Vancouver for a quick wedding weekend! Much of my dad's family - including my mum, dad, brother and sister in law - were in attendance as my cousin was married in a lovely winter ceremony. Of course, we choose only to come to town at the most exciting times, and Vancouver was experiencing their biggest snowstorm in years, shattering many snowfall records seen in their history. For us Ontarians, the snow was pretty minimal, but it makes you appreciate the city services we have in place for snow removal! It sure made for some stunning wedding pictures though! More importantly, we had the majority of our cousins together for the first time in years. I was only in town for about 48 hours, but I soaked up every minute with the cousins who I adore, and just wish that I was able to see more frequently. 

A couple weeks later, it was Cal's turn to hop on a plane, when he headed off on his annual Daytona 500 trip. He certainly didn't experience any snowfall, and instead enjoyed a week of fun in the sun with the other side of my family! The girls and I held down the fort while - I assume - he drank beer, attended races, hung with my family, drank beer, drove fast cars and drank a little more beer. A well deserved mini-vacation for my hard-working mister. 
In April, Cal was off once again to spend Easter weekend in Calgary with one of his oldest friends and his family. Living multiple provinces apart means that we don't see these friends as often as we'd like, so it was such a nice opportunity for him to go visit, and spend time with D, Katie and their three sweet little kiddos. While most of the time was spent in Calgary, he and D also took a 3-hour detour for a night in Edmonton to see John Mayer on his recent tour.

I'll try to stay away from mentioning my favourite story from his Calgary trip - the one where Cal left for his flight that first morning and called me just before 6am from his airport gate to let me know he'd lost his wallet...and his keys. Thankfully, he was flying out of the Hamilton airport, so the girls and I hopped in the car and saved the day with his spare set of keys that opened the truck where his wallet had fallen out. After holding up the plane, he hopped on and made his way to Calgary... but right, I'll stay away from mentioning that. :) 

Now it's May and we're staying put a little bit more! The boat is out of storage, and once it actually warms up around here, we are so ready to get it out for a ride. Lady M has the countdown on until the last day of school, and I'm looking forward to getting through the push to the end of the school year, and taking a little time off over the summer to spend with my fam. 

playing catch up - fall 2016

Well, talk about falling behind in my blogging duties! It seems I haven't written in nearly a year, which is just crazy seeing as there has been no shortage of stories and happenings in our little world...but it just goes to show how time really does fly. With a summer filled with boating, vacation time and another visit to our camp, September was quickly upon us. So, let's play a little catch up, beginning with the fall of 2016:

Starting School 
In September my beautiful girls began another year of school with Lady M heading off to Grade 3 and her little sister, Lady A, making her way into the trenches of Senior Kindergarten. Lady M began on the Tuesday after Labour Day and was quite excited about the teacher and classmates she had. Her happiness lasted just one month before school numbers forced some reorganization within the school and she found herself moved into a grade 2/3 split class with a teacher whom she feared quite a lot. It seemed that the change wasn't working so well for her, and my little girl was coming home in tears most days which was absolutely heartbreaking to Cal and I. So, with my parent advocate hat on, I paid a visit to the school, had a great meeting with her teacher and things have only looked up since then. She's had a great year so far...even now that the dreaded EQAO testing is on the horizon. (Provincial-wide testing required in grade 3 for those of you reading outside of Ontario!).

Lady A didn't begin school until the Wednesday after Labour Day which meant she had one whole extra day of summer. Lady M had distinct memories of her extra day she had before beginning SK and recalled that she got to spend the day with her Daddy and visit Marineland. Of course she shared this information with her younger sister, who was SUPER excited that she - naturally - would get this special treatment too! So off she and Cal went to enjoy their father-daughter day (and they had a blast!). Lady A began SK the next day, and while she's very ready to move onto the bigger challenges that grade one will bring, she's had a great year. She loves to take on leadership roles with the younger kids in the class (who are we kidding - she leads the older ones too). When I went in for parent observation in the fall, two little girls (both in JK) were sitting with Lady A and I at the round table and one told me "Lady A is so nice. She always helps me when I need it" - completely melting this mama's heart. Then the other one piped up to add "Lady A always helps me too!". Awwww.

Country Livin'
Ladies M&A watching the Horse Pull at the Fair
Since moving to our new house, we are completely embracing our 'country livin'' lifestyle. Where we live may not be true country to most people, but to us city kids, we basically live in the sticks. (Just ask my brother, who basically thinks I've moved to northern Sweden). We even had a wild turkey run in front of our car the other day when we were heading somewhere; and that happened right near the tractor dealership...so yes, I'd say we're kickin' it country style!

One of our favourite events this fall was heading to the Fair in our town...complete with rickety rides that look like they're going to fall apart, a demolition derby (Cal and the girls went to this!), a goat show and the horse pull which my girls watched with rapt attention! And one of the best parts, is that it's all just a 3 minute walk from our house.

We have also managed to move many of the girls lessons really close to home. Lady M began horseback riding this year, and the barn is just 5 minutes away. She is absolutely loving it - she seems so grown up and responsible when she's around the horses, and has taken to riding like a complete natural. She also started ballet for the first time, and the dance studio is one-minute from our home. Truthfully, I always thought ballet would bore the heck out of her, but after watching her dance a lyrical number at camp this past summer, I was converted. She absolutely loves her ballet class, appreciates the amount of french words in this style of dance, and pirouettes around our house all day long.

So, it would seem that country livin' is treating us quite well.

A Marrying Muffy 
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I happily hopped a plane to Vancouver, then continued on to the small town of Prince George in Northern BC where my beautiful friend Ashley lives. Visiting PG for the first time, Ashley and her fiance Jason showed me around and gave me a chance to see a little bit of their lifestyle after hearing about it for many years.

On my second day there, the three of us hopped in a car and enjoyed a four hour ride to Jasper, Alberta taking in the beautiful scenery along the way. I was over the moon to be her only guest, and maid of honour, at a picturesque wedding in Jasper that weekend. Between rock slides, autumn snowfall, changed flights and countless stories, my best friend married the man of her dreams in a beautiful cabin in the mountains, and we toasted the happy couple at the Jasper Brewing Company for their reception. Now, that's the way to spend Thanksgiving!

8 is Great!
In November, my beautiful oldest girl celebrated her 8th birthday. Seeming more grown up by the minute, we hosted a party for several of her friends where they had the chance to do crafts, decorate cupcakes, play games and just enjoy each other's company. The theme was Harry Potter, and we had a blast putting everything together to somehow recognize her current favourite book. It was Lady M's first birthday in our new house and we had  great time.

Just a few days before, Lady M and I had taken a piping class at our local Michaels store - learning the finer techniques of piping icing onto cakes and cupcakes. The class was just $10 each - a real steal! Having signed up weeks in advance, as they day drew closer, I was fearful that I didn't have all of the cake decorating supplies we needed. So, the morning of the class, I called the store to confirm whether I needed to bring any additional items. The person on the phone said "didn't you get the list when you registered?" Ummm, no. I did not. He then began to rattle off the looooong list of items that Lady M and I required...oh, and we'd need two of everything of course.

So, thanks to the recommendation of a good friend, we learned that the Wilton items were much less expensive at Wal-Mart, so off we went. Well over $100 later, we had everything we needed - so much for that $10 steal of a deal! We arrived to the class to find out it was just the two of us who had registered, which was awesome. We also learned that the kind sales clerk on the phone had only given us 1/2 of the required list of items.

Oh well! We managed just fine and learned all sorts of techniques and had a great time doing it. Lady M is a natural when it comes to this sort of thing, but more importantly, I love having time where she and I can just be together. At 8 she is growing so quickly, and I love any time I get to spend with her.

A Decade 
Just a few days after Lady M's birthday, Cal and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We even managed to take a day off work and get away for one night, which was lovely. We had a nice escape to Collingwood where we enjoyed dinner out, got our boat into storage and warded off one woman's best attempts to get us to buy into a timeshare!

Most importantly, I'm so grateful to have spent the last ten years happily married to him, and look forward to the next ten!

Holiday Fun
Heading downstairs on Christmas morning
I'm always a fan of Christmastime, and this year was no different. Though I started to wonder if some of the magic was slipping away when Lady M began questioning whether the big guy was real in November. While it seemed like the jig may have been up, she did a complete about face and continued on through the season a true believer.

Both girls had a holiday recital at their school, and unfortunately I couldn't attend Lady A's this year, so Cal and my Dad were there to support her. Lady M had one at her school, and Cal couldn't attend that one, so my dad and I did! Clearly, Dad was the constant on the 2016 recital circuit - I believe he also made it to both of my nephews shows too! Lady M joined the choir this year, so on top of the presentation her grade 3 class did, she also sang numerous songs with the choir - so lovely.

I took the full two weeks off over the holidays, which I just love. I enjoy the time with the kiddos, and knowing that their holiday break is also mine. We visited with family and friends, did crafts, had outings and just enjoyed the down time where we didn't have to wake up and rush out of the door each morning.

On Christmas day, they crept down the stairs in their matching jammies and the day and the rest of the holiday was just lovely.

Cal was able to take some time off over the holidays too, and we headed up north to visit some of his family. Though snow was minimal all over this year, they certainly had more than we did, and we all had a chance to go snowmobiling. It was Lady M's second time, and Lady A's first. It was also my first time - a great experience!

As usual, our fall and early winter were filled with fun adventures, and it was a great way to end 2016.

June 1, 2016

roy, ahoy!

So, my husband has always wanted a boat. He grew up spending most of his time at the cottage with his grandfather touring around the lake on their boat. It is an activity that holds plenty of fond memories for him, and one that he's always wanted to recreate for our own kids.

While my childhood wasn't filled with boating or a cottage, we spent most summers with our family in Florida. I rode my first jet-ski around the age of 7 and was completely hooked. Of course the weather in Florida is a little more conducive to water sports than it is in Ontario, but that wasn't going to stop us!

We have been talking about it for a number of years, and decided a while ago that we wanted to get a boat. We planned that once we had settled in our new house, we'd take a little time off from travelling and get ourselves a speedboat that would allow for a summer filled with rides on the water, tubing, swimming and just good ol' family time.

Fast forward to this past May: Cal and Lady M were heading out one day a few weeks ago, and I knew they were going by the boat dealership to have a look at some options my hubby had his eye on. He'd been looking online for ages, checking out all of our options. He tends to be very detail oriented in his shopping - learning all he can, perusing every option. So off they went to the dealership to have a look. Just browsing...

...or so I thought.

A short while later I received the call from Cal and Lady M. Their excitement was noticeable right off the bat, and Cal shared excitedly: "Guess what? We're boat owners!"


My reaction was not what he expected. It was lacking the enthusiasm coming from the other end of the phone. Now, please note this caught me off guard on a very busy day. Lady A and I were at home knee-deep in preparations for her birthday party the next day, cleaning, cooking and trying to get her to a hair appointment on time. Not surprisingly, my reaction was not the most positive when I learned that we were boat owners and the excitement that once existed in that red Dodge Ram quickly dwindled.

I carried on with my mile-long to-do list, and our day moved forward. By the next day when the party was over the news of our new watercraft had sunk in. Sure, my sweet husband had jumped the gun a little, but he made a great choice, and upon learning more I was getting really excited too!

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the boat is now in our possession, and I too have my boating licence. We have docked it in a marina just 20 minutes from our house - and a convenient 5-minute drive from Cal's office. I suspect that if the wifi reaches, our lovely new navy blue Monterey may be his summer office.

We took it for the inaugural family spin this past weekend, and while the water in Lake Ontario was still a little chilly to jump in, the nearly 30 degree temps made for a beautiful afternoon on the water.

Looking forward to many more...

May 12, 2016

this is 5

Time continues to fly around our home. It seems that I blinked one moment, and the next my youngest little girl, Lady A, turned 5.

A few weeks prior to the big day, excitement was already mounting. There weren't any momentous gifts she was hoping for, but there was one thing: gum. Ahh yes, a nice, fruity piece of gum is what my nearly-five-year-old was genuinely hoping for.

It started back when her big sister, Lady M was about 3. One day, seeing Cal have a piece of gum she asked for one. Cal casually said "you're not old enough to have gum yet", to which Lady M queried:"well, how old do I have to be?" Cal threw a number out into thin air that was seemingly light years away. "You have to be 5" he told her, and she tucked that little nugget away in her spongy 3-year-old brain.

Fast forward to her approaching 5th birthday, and when asked what she wanted, I recall her rattling off a list of things, punctuating it with "and GUM"!! Gum? Cal and I both questioned at the time. Seemed like an odd request, until she said "yup - you told me I could have gum when I turned 5!" Ahh, that one came back like a very patient boomerang.

Now, since she was a little girl, Lady M has told her little sister that she too can have gum when she turns the ripe old age of 5. True to our word, Lady A received a package of watermelon gum to celebrate the big day. She chose only to lick it a little bit before throwing it away, saying "maybe I'll try chewing it next time".

We celebrated Lady A turning "a whole hand" by hosting a tea party at our house for 8 kindergarten girls on a Sunday afternoon. The day before, on Saturday, I prepped the party needs and my mum and I took the almost-birthday-girl for a haircut. She chose to give her hair a significant chop, and suddenly looked so much older, and also looks like the spitting image of her big sister! Cal and Lady M were out for the evening, and Lady A was very sad that she wouldn't get to showcase her new short locks to them before going to bed that night, but drifted off into dreamland nonetheless...

Before!
After!


...until about 11:30pm when Cal and I were downstairs hanging the final decorations and a tiny little voice called "hey, guys?" from the stairs. When Cal went around to her, she popped up on her feet, arms in the air and proclaimed "look at my hair!!" nice and loud! It was awesome...she decided that her Daddy was going to see her new haircut no matter what! After that he tucked her back and in and she drifted off...

...until 12:05am, when Cal was in our upstairs family room. I was in the kitchen fixing the last of the party food, when Lady A's very excited voice rang through the house "IT'S PARTY DAY!!". Yes, at five minutes past midnight, she was correct...however, once again we had to put the excited little munchkin back to bed!

While Sunday's tea party was a great shin-dig, it certainly cemented my respect for her teachers who have 30 of them on a daily basis! The girls started by decorating their own loot bags, then made a vase craft that they could take home as a party favour. Between the crafts, tea sandwiches, cupcakes (courtesy of Grandma), presents, games and play time, 3 hours zipped by pretty quickly and all the girls seemed quite happy.


Monday was her real birthday, and she woke up excited to open her "morning presents" and then skipped off to school where she celebrated all day and shared her birthday with her teacher which made her even more excited. That night she came home, and we had [almost!] all of our immediate family over for dinner. Spoiled by grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, she had a full day of celebration, topped off with a Smartie cake that she had requested I make for her.


After a whirlwind few days, our sweet girl was officially 5 and ready to continue taking on the world.