Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Up and At 'Em

I'm not a natural morning person.  If it were up to me I'd be in bed until about 8:00 and later on weekends.  But, being a mother of three forces you out of bed with the roosters.  Especially when one of your children is a very early riser.  

Henry got up this morning at 5:15.  On the plus side, he only got up once last night, at 11:30, and it was clear I hadn't dressed him well enough so a quick change and then he slept until the ungodly hour of 5:15.  Up and at 'em, boys!

But it sure gives me a leisurely morning.  I get a shower before the craziness starts, I get lunches made, I get breakfast ready and I can even have some tea or my own breakfast.  On some mornings, the dishwasher is even unloaded.  (Not today.)

Or blog!  (I can't guarantee that I'll be coherent though.)

So, that's one in the plus column for this morning.

Another tick mark is that one of our Brownies, who is the age to move up to Guides for next year, is planning on doing so.  That makes me very happy.  I didn't know if she would but she's "super keen" I'm told and that is a huge testament to the Brownie program we've run this year.  I'm really pleased for her and what this will hopefully mean for her for the coming years.

And another tick mark (Brownie-related again) is that it looks like I've found another Guider to join us next year taking the pressure off if one of us is sick, and taking some of the work off our hands.  Huge tick mark!

As I said to John, everything is coming up Karen!

What's going well for you today?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

He's a screamer

This little guy, while super cute, lots of fun and laughs, is killing me:

He's up too many times a night for his age but the problem is that he screams bloody murder VERY LOUDLY if left to cry, thus waking up both John and Emily who are both light sleepers.  Therefore, I'm in his room giving him a hug and putting him back down before I get to go back to sleep.  Yes, he still screams when I leave but it's a short burst and then done.  But I still have to get up and he still continues to do it nightly since his RSV rather than figuring out that he's not getting what he wants (BOOB).

I'm a bleary-eyed bag-eyed iron lady today.  I'm sure teaching Children's Hour at church is going to be AWESOME.  Thankfully we're doing The Prodigal Son with a theme of forgiveness which I plan to instill as any iron-lady would and force the children to forgive my lack of effort in the lesson planning. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Break 2012: Friday

Wow, March Break flew by quickly!  Too quickly, in my opinion.  The girls and I both have wished out loud that there was another week off.  That must mean that they've had a great time at home.  In other words: mission accomplished... and with very little stress or distress for me!

Yesterday was a day full of adventures.  We left the house by 9:30 to get to the giant Asian grocery chain near us, T&T Supermarket in order to get a few things for the pad thai I was making for dinner last night.  Unfortunately, T&T has a pathetic assortment of South Asian supplies, focussing more on Chinese and Korean products.  I had to get tamarind or the pad thai wasn't going to happen so I made the decision that we'd have to head to Chinatown at some point yesterday.

But first, it was time to make our way to the Museum of Science and Technology for the Franklin reading by author Paulette Bourgeois.  Pulling into the museum parking lot, it looked as though every other family in Ottawa had the same idea.  Turns out that most of them were there to see the usual exhibits and we were near the front of the line for Franklin and only had to wait about five minutes before they opened the doors to the auditorium.  We had second row seats, a perfect view of the stage.  We were all excited!

Hard to tell but I did brush her hair before leaving the house!
Old enough for his own seat now.
All ready for the big show.
Paulette's reading chair.  Reminds me of The Friendly Giant.  As you can tell, we were up close and personal.
And out came Paulette who does a great presentation about how she came up with the idea of Franklin, with an excellent slideshow to go along with it. And, unlike some authors who read their own work, she is GREAT at reading to an audience, doing different voices and adding little tidbits of information to the story. 

Smartly, they projected the pages of the book on a big screen.
Paulette laughing with big, creepy Franklin.  A girl behind us was in tears.
After her reading was done, she invited everyone to get in line for her to sign books (we brought a few with us) and to have photos taken with the giant Franklin guy (some guy in a Franklin suit).  The line was huge so we went into our favourite exhibit: the light tunnels, which have a better name than that but I can't remember it.  After a snack break, we headed back toward the line.  Still too long!  We decided to forgo getting the books signed and head to Chinatown for our ingredients (and maybe a fun lunch).

I parked right near the newish (okay, not that new... but new in the last five years or so) Chinatown gate which I love and reminds me of the gate in Edmonton.  Kowloon Market, our destination was very close as was the dim sum restaurant and an all-you-can-eat sushi place.  Everything was at our fingertips it seemed. 

Posing with the lions who welcome you to Chinatown.
The big newish gate.
Chinatown is a great mix of old standbys, like the place pictured above, and newer restaurants (none of which, thankfully, are chichi). 
Lots of this in the windows.
We went to Kowloon first.  I used to shop there semi-regularly when we lived on Preston St.  It was close and was the best Asian market in Ottawa, in my opinion.  But them we moved south and T&T opened closeby and I never go to Kowloon anymore.  I think that may change.  First, T&T is always so crowded and I find it so hard to find anything because there is so much product.  While Chinatown parking isn't always easy, the drive to get there is about the same and I can find everything I need, including lots of tamarind!  In different forms!  Even different brands of the same product.  Hooray!  And, for added entertainment, the live fish, clams etc are all at kid's eye level.  Everyone was happy! 

We left Kowloon with our purchases and looked at the menu at the sushi joint and decided to try it.  I'm so glad we did.  The food was great, ordering easy and delivery fast, the kids all found something they loved (even Hope who decided that she loves plain old cucumber rolls while Henry ate his weight in edamame).  Emily and I snarfed lots of different kinds of sushi.  Ye's Sushi in Waterloo is still my favourite all-you-can-eat sushi but this is at least an Ottawa replacement.

Henry trying out his chopsticks.
Hope found spearing the sushi was the best way to do it.

The afternoon consisted of cleaning and preparing dinner.  We had some good friends and their kids over last night.  Fun had by all.  And the pad thai was spectacular!
It really was a great March Break.  We did a lot but didn't break the bank and the kids were really happy to stay at home this year.  Hope was not interested in reliving the barfing-in-the-car-travelling-to-Papa's experience this year.  And neither was I.

I think you can call it a successful break if everyone is left wishing for more.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Break 2012: Thursday

Yesterday was largely another at-home day. I spent the morning doing some cleaning and allowed the kiddies to lounge in front of the t.v. for a while.  After I put the kibosh on that, it was craft time and play time.  I continued to clean while the kids played.  In fact, I did a major spring clean project: I took everything out of the front hall closet (I should have taken before and after photos), mopped the floor inside the closet, cleaned the baseboards, sorted through things and reorganized.  It felt so good to have that done.

Soon after that, John came home and I packed up our swimming stuff and put Henry to bed.  Turns out that he wouldn't nap at all and John had to eventually retrieve him and bring him to the basement to watch a little b-ball.

Meanwhile, the girls and I headed to Splash Wave Pool for some super-duper wave action fun.... along with every other family in Ottawa, apparently.  I have never been to that pool when it was so busy.  Even over Christmas holidays it wasn't as busy as it was yesterday.  It was total insanity.  Which meant the wave pool was a mixture of squeals of delight as we were lifted up high by the waves and annoyance as people rode on top of us with their foam surf thingies. 

Our system was to rotate from wave pool to water slide (super fun!) to warm pool and back to wave pool again.  My personal favourite was the water slide.  I could have done that over and over again but I could only convince Emily to do it once so we had to take that out of our rotation.  Boo.

The girls had a great time and felt going to Splash was the big outing of the week, making up for the decision to not go to Cosmic Adventures (a huge indoor playground).  I'm so glad I opted for this instead as it saved a bundle of money - Cosmic would have cost about $60 not including snacks while Splash cost $14 plus about $8 more for a stop at Starbucks after for some warm drinks.  Value for money!  And who can really put a price on being swum over again and again?

I have no photos of our adventure yesterday.  My camera is not waterproof and change-room photos are just creepy.  So, today's post is a photo-less update but tomorrow!  Stay tuned for photos of Paulette and Franklin!  Today's the day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Break 2012: Wednesday

There is always a day in a week like this where things don't fall into place as you planned.  Wednesday was that day.  It was still a good day and we had lots of fun but it didn't turn out as we expected.

Our plan was to go to the Science and Technology Museum to hear Paulette Bourgeois read from one of her very famous books, specifically Franklin's School Trip.  Apparently there would be a person dressed up in a Franklin costume, too.  The girls picked out a few Franklin books to have the author sign.

Just before heading out the door, I went online to confirm the time the reading would take place: 10:30.  On Friday.  Oops! 

New plan: Little Ray's Reptile Zoo!  Not far away and I had a Groupon. 

I went online again to retrieve my Groupon only to find that it isn't valid during March Break (of course, should have known).  Oops again! 

Discussion: what should we do today?  Not surprisingly Emily voted to stay home for the day but I insisted we leave the house (for my own sanity).  We settled on something simple: go to The Glebe and check out the chocolate shop, Truffles and Treasures, that I went to the other night with friends and on the way there or back we'd finally drop off all the stuff that's been crowding the car at Salvation Army.

We parked the car and started walking down Bank Street towards the chocolate shop when we found a new-to-me bike shop that seemed to focus a lot on kids and family bikes.  We popped in to look at their helmet selection and left with a very cool new helmet for Hope.  The shop was called Joe Mamma and I will definitely be going there again.  The staff was really friendly, knowledgeable AND there was adog in there that kept Henry so distracted that he didn't knock any bikes over.  Miracle!  I'm thinking we may get Henry a scoot bike for his birthday and I'll definitely be getting it there.

Henry took an immediate shine to Hope's helmet and wore it like a uniform for the rest of our time in The Glebe.

This is Henry's usual pose for having a photo taken.  Don't know why but it's darn cute.

All read to try some chocolate.
We finally arrived at Truffles and Treasures.  The kids were mesmerized by the chocolate-making video that was playing.  I was taken (yet again) with the colours, smells and displays. 

Not only does the place smell sensational but it's a feast for the eyes as well.

These are the chocolate pieces they use to make hot chocolate... my neighbour comes here just to buy them to make hot chocolate at home.  It's that good.

I bought the chocolate-dipped marshmallows last time I was in and the girls claimed they were homemade marshmallows and the best thing ever.
Next time, I'll be trying this...
....or maybe this... if I have a team to eat it with me.
The colours of the Turkish Delight were gorgeous and reminded me of Spring.
We ordered hot chocolate from their amazing list of hot chocolate offerings, deciding to split them between us (the cups are huge).  Hazelnut for Hope and Henry and peppermint for Emily and me.  Emily also chose out some chocolate-covered gummie bears to share (ew).  And I bought a Nutkin to share also.

Look at those choices!  So hard to decide.

I did try one.  My verdict was "weird."
The truffle case... I could spend a lot of time taste-testing.

By the time we were done, Emily and I had stomach aches from the sweet richness but we were fueled!  They honestly have the best hot chocolate in town... a bit rich, but a decadent treat.  I highly recommend the peanut butter hot chocolate I had last time.  Although the pepermint was great also.  I also recommend sharing.

This map by the cash shows all the place people have sent or eaten their chocolate.  Wow!

After that little adventure, we headed home with a quick stop at Salvation Army for our drop-off. 

Soon after we got home, it was time to walk across the street for the girls' haircuts.  A woman on my street has a mini-salon in her basement and does great work (and very reasonably priced).  Henry was again entertained by a dog and the girls are neat and tidy for a while now.

During Henry's nap, I sat down with the girls to work on some of Emily's Brownie badges and had Hope do them too, just for fun.  We made time capsules and book posters.  Two more badges completed!
Hope's time capsule.  Seems fitting to use a Girl Guide Cookie box.

The contents of Emily's time capsule.  She had a hard time choosing what to put in there.
After that, it was outside play time.  The girls scooted, I started supper and then brought Henry out after he woke up.  I showed him his new-to-him bike helmet (I know, I know, you're not supposed to transfer helmets from one kid to another.  Moving on....) and he went bananas for it... as you'll soon see.  He was also MILDLY taken with his first ride on the tricycle, throwing a minor fit when I told him I had to go in to cook supper.  Today there will most definitely be more tricycle time.

And for the rest of the day, Henry insisted on wearing his helmet.

While he watched shows on the iPad.  While he ate supper.

Wednesday nights are John's night class.  So, given that it's March Break, I declared it a movie-and-supper-in-the-basement-night.  We watched Barbie Princess Charm School (sounds horrible, I know... but not nearly as bad as I thought... I liked the attempt to focus on character over looks, although there was still a lot of hair, dresses and shoes going on) on my computer as I couldn't figure out how to burn it to DVD, which I've done MANY TIMES so don't think I'm a total computer loser... I just couldn't get it to work last night.  I think my Mac doesn't like the discs we have.   Anywho....

The sweetest moment came when Henry got in trouble for trying to yank Hope's cookie out of her hand and after crying on my lap for a few moments, ran right over to Emily (who wasn't involved in the altercation as victim or disciplinarian) for comfort.  It was so cute.

And that was our Wednesday.  It's funny how things turn out.  I was slightly concerned in the morning that it would turn out to be an "I'm bored!" kind of day... but it didn't at all. 

Today we'll be home during the morning and then I have a surprise planned for the afternoon.  John's coming home early to stay with Henry while I take the girls to the Splash Wave Pool. 

Hopefully it will actually happen!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Break 2012: Tuesday

We had another lazy morning yesterday.  In fact, it took a lot of convincing to get the girls out of their pyjamas.

Our gorgeous kiddies enjoying the ride together.  Hope looks healthier, doesn't she?
We drove over to our local O-Train station and boarded the train towards Carleton.  John met us at the platform and we walked over to the food court to have lunch together.  The lunch options at the Carleton food court have expanded a lot in the last year or two.  I had a decent red curry chicken over rice.  John had Singapore Vermicelli.  Emily had sushi.  Hope had an A&W hamburger and fries.  Henry oscillated between hamburger, fries, pizza and chocolate milk.  The kids drew a lot of smiles and laughs from the students sitting near by.  I remember how odd it felt to see little kids when I was in university because you almost never see them when you are squirreled away studying and attending classes.  It was always a refreshing glimpse into real life.

Enjoying our lunch in the Carleton Food Court.  We were a spectacle, especially when Henry started doing laps around the tables.
Henry's hair, back view.  He has the most gorgeous curls.  I could just smush my face in there all day long.  Sometimes I do.
We walked John back to his office, where Henry contaminated the elevator and part of the History Department's hallways, before heading back to the train.  When we got back to our stop, we made a quick stop at Bulk Barn where everyone got to choose a small bags of treats to take home.

Henry went for his nap, the girls got to indulge in t.v., I lounged on the couch.  After that rest time, Emily and I headed out into the beautiful sunshine to finish her bird feeder that we've been working on this week.  The girls were really keen to do some woodworking this week and these kits from Rona fit the bill: no cutting required - just gluing, measuring and nailing.  Hope eventually came out too and we started and finished her birdhouse in one afternoon.  The birdhouse kit is definitely the quicker project of the two.  I can see us doing this in Brownies next year.

Emily's bird feeder.  I'm sure the squirrels will really enjoy it.

Hope's almost-completed bird house.  This one was really fun and easy.
After that is was scooting with the neighbours as Henry came out from his nap and played in the "ball pool" and on his cars.

Oh... balls!
It was a simple, easy and wonderful day.  The girls declared it "the best day ever," further evidence that doing something simple but out of the ordinary (meeting Daddy for lunch) can be the most special event of a week.

Today: heading to the Science Museum to meet Paulette Bourgeois, the author of the Franklin books.  Or calling a plumber.  Hopefully the former.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Break 2012: Monday

I'm not surprised that the girls are more interested in hanging around home during March Break than packing our week with outings.  By this point in the year, they're pretty tired of having to leave home most days in the week.  And while we do have some special things planned for later this week, Monday was an at-home day, made even more important because of Hope's slow recovery from Fifth Disease.

If you're wondering what the heck Fifth Disease is, you're not alone.  But you might be surprised to find out that you've probably had it.  Apparently 50% of kids have it at some point.  It's really common.  And really contagious.  It's characterized by a rash on the cheeks (which can spread elsewhere), earning it its alternative name of "slapped cheek".   It's called Fifth Disease because it is the fifth of the common childhood diseases in the category of ailments that have a rash and fever (such as chicken pox, measles, etc). For some reason no one has thought to rename it on the moleclular level as they have with the other diseases.  So, we're stuck with the clunky name of Fifth Disease. 

Hope's red cheeks... cleared up a bit from the day before.
Poor little one.... all red and snotty.
A bit hard to see here but the rash had spread to her arms a bit but looks more mottled than red there.
Anyway, it sucks.  Like chicken pox, it's a slow recovery. The fever hangs around for quite a while.  Lethargy, fatigue and cold-symptoms ensue.  Not fun for March Break.

Advil does wonders however in making sure that Hope has energy for at least a couple of hours in the day.  The rest of the day is generally spent cuddled under a blanket.

So, yesterday we stayed at home.  We had a breakfast of blueberry buttermilk (gluten-free) pancakes.  I made a big batch of chai.  We didn't get out of our pyjamas until noon, me included.  I started organizing all my Sparks and Brownies binders and files that I've been allowing to languish in piles on the floor around my desk. 

Finally, after Henry went for his nap, we headed outside where I started to organized the garage and the girls played in the driveway with the hula hoops and skipping ropes that have been missed through the winter.  Henry joined us for a popcorn picnic in the sun.

The barbecue was lit for the first time this year and we had warm homemade corn tortillas wrapped around tequila-lime chicken, peppers and onions. 

All in all, it was a great March Break Monday.

Today, we're riding the train to meet John for lunch.  Stay tuned for a rundown tomorrow about March Break Tuesday.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The sugar bush: our annual outing

Yesterday we took our annual trip to the sugar camp.  We've tried different ones over the years but have pretty much settled on Sand Road Sugar Camp as our favourite.  It satisfies a few things for me: (1) great food which must include des oreilles de crisse (cured smoked pig jowls) which I would describe as pretty much the best bacon you will ever taste; (2) nice setting with good walking trails; (3) sleigh ride; (4) maple syrup lines, buckets, operation close to the food building so the kids can discover; (5) not overly busy.  The kids would add maple taffy to that, which of course they have.  You can't be a sugar camp in Eastern Ontario/Western Quebec without offering maple taffy.

As an aside, if you're not from these parts, you might wonder what the deal is with sugar camps... or what the heck it is.  A sugar camp/sugar shack/cabane à sucre is pretty much a maple syrup farm.  And every one of them in this part of Canada has a sugar shack where you come and have a huge brunch (Ontario) or supper (Quebec).  The food is good, bountiful and there is lots and lots of maple syrup to pour on top and to buy.  After stuffing yourself you can usually watch the farmers make syrup, walk trails, have a sleigh ride, etc.  Each camp does it a bit differently.  And there are a lot of camps in the Ottawa area.

For me, Sand Road meets all of my requirements to a tee and if you go at breakfast time instead of lunch, which we always do, you really don't even have to wait in line. 

The forecast for Ottawa yesterday was a little bit of gorgeous at 8 degrees and sunny.  There was still a good amount of snow so the sleigh rides hadn't turned into wagon rides yet, which meant that the ride was still through the gorgeous sugar maple forest.  The cold temperatures of the last few days meant they weren't boiling sap (the lines were frozen) but by the time we left the sap was running through the lines (it's pretty loud!) so the kids had lots of fun watching that and checking the few old-style buckets they have around.
Hello Sand Road!

Henry is primed for a sugar high!

The traditional-style buckets.  The sap was frozen when we arrived.

The view looking at the food building. 

Well-fueled after a big breakfast, the kiddies must top it off with maple taffy on the snow.

Time for a sleigh ride.

Old friends, Nevan and Emily, cozy up for the ride.

Hope, who I just diagnosed with Fifth Disease (more on that later), snuggled into the corner and didn't really move.

A stop halfway allowed the kiddies (and adults) to pet the horses.

The two academics talk shop.
Why play with snow or sap lines when there is this exposed pile of dirty gravel to see about?

Sneaking in on my gravel, are you?

Still loving the gravel!

You do realize this is gravell?!  Why am I the only one who is fascinated?