May 14, 2017

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.

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