Things I love about our new school

I’m going to open this with a very important disclosure: I miss our old school. I miss it terribly. I miss the people I got to know, the PPO, being on the Governing Board, volunteering, a lot of the great kids, and some of the rules. One of the rules I miss is the healthy food guideline. Our old school was pretty strict on insisting on no junk and our current school is much more lenient. In the end it doesn’t matter I suppose because it doesn’t change what I pack for my own kids (sandwiches, cheese, yogurt, vegetables, fruit) but it does mean I sometimes have to listen to complaints about what everyone else brings from home. Meh. If everyone jumps off a bridge, etc etc.

So anyway yes, I miss the school back home quite a lot and I still check in regularly for new pictures and I took a peek to see who had replaced me as PPO secretary and Vice-Chair of the Governing Board. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some AMAZING things about the new school. For instance:

1. Art taught by a trained art teacher. Instead of just doing some basic artwork with the homeroom teacher, they’re taught by someone who teaches nothing but art, period. At Breanna’s level it’s just stuff in the classroom with her regular teacher because they’re still really young but Hayley has a teacher who graduated with an art degree and not only teaches them new techniques but also teaches art theory and history to them so they understand what and why they’re doing something. I really love that.

2. Music! They have a regular music program as part of their curriculum and each of them gets taught music twice a week. There was no music at the old school and I was always kind of sad about that. It makes me happy to know that they’re learning some age-appropriate music theory and about various instruments.

3. Violin. Seriously. Hayley is taking violin at the school right now. Once a week she goes to violin for one period of her day and every second week she has an extra lunch hour of violin. By the new year, if the kids taking it are still enjoying it they can continue with a bit more practice and will get to start bringing their instruments home to practice. I find this very exciting that something that can cost a fortune to study is being offered for free in the school. Hayley is enjoying it tremendously.

4. Choir. Do you sense a theme? Lots of creativity in this school! Hayley has joined the school choir and practices once a week as part of their music program and today she had her first performance at the school for their in-school Remembrance Day assembly. She told me she did really well and Hayley loves to sing so when she brought the permission slip home I didn’t even hesitate before signing her up. Dressed in black and white for choir:

Hayley dressed for choir in black and white.

5. No homework. No joke! Breanna’s only homework is to read two books with us and keep a reading log. I read with her every morning after breakfast and fill the reading log out and that’s it. That’s something we’d be doing anyway so it’s barely even work. Hayley also has a reading log to hand in once every two weeks and it’s not much work either because Hayley reads a lot all on her own anyway. She’s also had one presentation project to prepare but it didn’t take much time and last year she did presentations once a month on a variety of topics so it wasn’t too tough for her to do.

Other than that, there’s just no homework. No sheets of math to do or verbs to study. They get their work done in class. If they ever goofed off too much and didn’t finish up I think they’d have some extra catch-up to do but that’s it and it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t mind important homework but I hate obligatory busy-work and so I’m loving this school’s approach. It gives kids more time to be, you know, kids.

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Speaking of school, I’d like to take a moment to do the bragging Mom thing. The school had their parent-teacher night on Wednesday and although I couldn’t attend, George went and brought back excellent reports. Breanna’s doing very well, meeting all the expected targets for her grade and age and although she’s a bit shy sometimes she’s adjusted super well.

As for Hayley, she was described as being well above average in her class, very intelligent, and having a lot of talent for different subjects. There was one shock that came out on parent-teacher night about her. A few weeks ago one of her teachers spoke to George about the fact that Hayley is a bit too chatty in class and talks to her friends sometimes instead of paying attention. This isn’t news as this has been something we’ve heard before so we spoke to her about how important it is to really be there and listen and save chatting for outside.

The shock was when the same teacher told George on Wednesday that last week Hayley came up to her – without any prodding or suggestions from us – and said, “Miss, I know that sometimes I talk to much when I should be listening or doing my school work. I just want you to know that I’m going to work on not doing that.”

It blew me away, that was such a grown up thing to do and I had no idea until George told me. I told her I was very proud of her!

So thus far everything is going quite well with both girls in the new school and I’m fully expecting excellent report cards in a couple of weeks.

Catching up#1 – Hayley’s 9th birthday

Between learning a whole other brainful of new stuff at work and the fact that I’m now on a 1pm to 9pm shift, I’ve been sadly neglecting this site. I always mean to update in the mornings or on the weekends but mornings are when I try to squeeze in my yoga before catching my bus and weekends have been filled with other activities. By the time I get home from work I am definitely too tired to update at that hour and I prefer to spend the two hours before bedtime hanging out with George. Still, I hate losing so many days that I really do want to remember so I’m going to play a bit of catch-up over the next several days.

All the way back in September, September 20th to be precise, Hayley entered her last year of single digits by turning nine years old. It was a school day but she didn’t mind because she had already made some really good friends and one of them even gave her a few gifts, including a book and a necklace. The principal gave her a special birthday pencil and she got a notepad and card from her homeroom teachers.

As for me, luckily I was still on either my 8:30-4:30 or my 9-5 shift (I forget which now) so I was home in plenty of time to watch Hayley open presents and to enjoy a birthday dinner with her. George’s parents were still in town as well because they had come down for George’s cousin’s wedding, so they came for dinner along with George’s aunt, so we were able to have a little family party.

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Breanna picked out a cute little princess set with fancy shoes and a handbag; so many kids are growing up so much faster than we want them to so I’m very happy that Hayley still likes to play dress-up with princess gear.

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She also got some nice clothes to wear. That’s always handy because now that she doesn’t have to wear a uniform to school, I have to think more about what she’ll put on each morning. Then she opened her present from us, which was a pretty big hit. Since Hayley loves to sing (she even joined the choir at her school, I’m so happy about that!) we got her the Disney Karaoke game for the Wii which comes with a USB mic. She knows quite a few of the songs and has done pretty well in the scoring.

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(For the record I’d like to point out that I belted out Nick Jonas’ “Who I Am” and the Wii said I was – and I quote – AWESOME. So there.)

She also got a few, er, monetary gifts. I love how insane she looks here.

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She ended up using most of her birthday funds to go and buy herself a nice mp3 player that also plays video and has a camera (both still shots and video).

After a nice supper of pasta, as per the birthday girl’s request, we sand “Happy Birthday” to her and she got a nice big piece of cake.

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All in all, she had a great day from morning straight through until bedtime.

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Still, though. Nine. NINE. I haven’t quite figured out how that’s possible, but nine it is!

The very first day

Today was a big day in our household since it was the first day of school. It meant the first day in a new school for Hayley and the first day ever for Breanna.

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(Hayley’s bag is on the left with a keychain she got at the end of last year from Breakfast Club and Breanna’s is the one with Super Mario on it.)

I was so incredibly happy that I got to come into work an hour (or so) later just so I wouldn’t have to rush off and miss the first day. We got to take them right to the school and go in with them. I think that helped with the nerves a little bit – theirs AND ours!

The kids each picked out their own outfits when we went shopping. Hayley’s choice:

First day!

Breanna’s sparkly choice:

First day!

Outside, ready to go with a combination of excitement and apprehension:

Ready to go

Since each of the kids needed to be in different areas of the building George and I split up; he took Hayley with him and I took Breanna. As a result I don’t have many pictures of Hayley but I think George might have taken a few extras on his phone so I’ll have to get those.

Breanna and I went to the gym with all the younger grades and she looked so small sitting on the floor amid so many other kids. She was very quiet, just looking around and taking it all in. I offered to take her sweater and stick it in her bag since it was quite warm but she knew she had a hook outside her classroom and insisted on wearing it until she could go hang it up in her designated spot.

Little

Once they called her name for her teacher’s class, she got up and filed out of the gym to go to her classroom for the first time. By then Hayley had also gone over to her own classroom so George headed over and got to see Breanna in her class before we left. I helped her find her desk, put her name tag on, and then she went to sit on the floor in front of her teacher.

Nerves

We said goodbye and then left so we could get to work and class could start. I’m very proud that I didn’t bawl. I did tear up but not until I had left. :)

I was actually quite happy to have to go to work since it gave me a distraction. Had I been home (I would have taken the whole day off if I could have) I would have ended up pacing most of the day until school was over.

It was so exciting to come home and hear all about their day. Hayley had been pretty nervous about being the new girl but she wasn’t the only one who was new to the school and all of her stories were positive. Her teachers are very nice and friendly and were eager to help her get settled, and she already had a few names of girls that she had talked to, including one that had asked her to play at recess.

Meanwhile Breanna was just brimming with excitement, telling me about how her teacher had read them three stories, including The Kissing Hand which was apropos since I had kissed their hands before taking them to school. Breanna even brought home her very first piece of school-made artwork based on the story.

First drawing

She also told me all about the toys in the classroom and that she had played with the wooden kitchen, some wooden blocks, and the sand table. She also ate every bit of food that I had sent her, not a surprise to me!

I’m so happy that they both had a good day. I know it will take a little while to really get settled in, but the school has a good vibe for me and I’m pleased with the teachers and the vice-principal that I met so far. We have a curriculum night coming up in a couple of weeks so I’ll get to know more about everything then, but so far so good.

I can’t believe I have two kids in school now!

Holding on

One of the hardest things for me when it comes to parenting (you know, aside from breaking up the neverending sibling fights) is knowing that the whole time you’re raising your kids you’re also preparing them for the time when you have to let them go.

And really, you have to let go bit by bit as time goes by. It’s not just a big event when they leave home for college or move out to their own place though I can guess that’s huge. Honestly, you let go just a little bit on a day to day basis. The first time you watch them head off to school. The first time they go off to a birthday party where you weren’t invited to come along. Heck the first time they don’t need you to push them on the swings, the first time they take those first steps, the first time they turn away and don’t need to be nursed anymore. It’s all letting go and some of it is so easy and seamless you don’t notice it at first. Other times – like waving goodbye at school – it’s like a little knife in your lungs when you try to breathe with a big smile plastered to your face and tears that you command not to fall just yet.

That’s why sometimes you have to hold on to the little things, those little moments when they still need you. Sometimes those moments can be a nuisance at first glance but if you can remember they won’t be there forever you can realize how important they are to that particular child and to you.

With Hayley it happens the mornings that I volunteer at the school for the breakfast club. She’s not one to cling to me but on those mornings she sticks close to my side while I prepare the food. When she eats she waves and smiles at me frequently while I stand behind the table serving breakfast to her fellow students. Then the first bell rings and she has to get ready to leave and she suddenly comes over to me again and again for hugs. Sometimes I have to insist that she must leave to collect her coat and bags and get out of the way because she’s blocking the line for the bus kids who have only just arrived and who need to hurry to get a chance to eat before the last bell rings. Then I think of high school looming in the future and I wonder how likely it is that she would run to me for more hugs and kisses in her teenage years. That’s when I put the tongs down, apologize to the student waiting for an English Muffin, and I wrap my arms around her and I hold her tight before finally shooing her off to class.

Breanna is still more attached to me than Hayley but I can see her slowly growing further and further away from me just like all kids do as they get older. She doesn’t need as many hugs and snuggles anymore. She still wants to tell me every little thing and she still likes to snuggle up to me when she’s tired or upset, but she’s always been independent at the same time and that independence is growing stronger as time goes by. Sometimes I look at her and wonder where the heck my baby went. Then I remember this was the kid who started walking at nine months of age and so maybe she’s been stepping forward for longer than I’ve realized. On the other hand, last week George had an appointment that started before I’d get back from breakfast club so he took Breanna with him. While they killed time, they went to McDonald’s for breakfast. When they got home he told me that she had only eaten one of her pancakes because she missed me and she kept telling him, “I wish Mommy was here.” I swooped down to hug her and held on to that moment where she was still small enough to want her mom around for something as simple as breakfast.

They grow and they grow and they grow, and when they’re babies we excitedly write down all their milestones in their baby books (or our blogs) and we marvel at how fast they’re progressing. Later we realize how much they’ve changed, how far they’ve come, and we’re appalled at how fast time slipped by.

That’s why I have to hold on to the little moments in between and never forget them.

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles

(Yes, I’m going to completely ignore the fact that I didn’t update ONCE the entire month of April. Ahem.)

Is it only Tuesday? Really??

Today I thought it was Thursday. Considering it’s only Tuesday, that’s pretty bad. Being off by one day is annoying enough, being off by two sucks. On the other hand I still have Christmas shopping to do so it’s good to keep from rushing forward too much, right?

(Christmas shopping. Ugh. The easiest way to suck out all my holiday cheer and joy is to set me loose in a store with other Christmas shoppers. One year everyone’s getting gift cards and hand-drawn cards, I swear.)

I was up at the school bright and early to help out with the used toy sale. I brought Breanna in with me and I was worried that she might get bored or have some sort of meltdown and I’d have to leave early. She ended up being perfectly behaved and had so much fun that she didn’t want to leave at lunch time.

While I was there I bought her a huge (HUGE) tub of MegaBloks because she loves those, and I also got her a book of Princess paper dolls and a Caillou storytelling game. She was really happy to bring them home, and with the 50 cents I had leftover she picked out a little bus and a Sleeping Beauty figurine (no surprise there, it’s her favorite Disney princess).

Hayely was ecstatic to see me (and my money) when she came in for her classroom’s turn to browse around. She scored big and with only five bucks she bought a little Barbie house, a Barbie horse, a stuffed turtle, a rubber frog (no, I have no idea), a necklace that glows, and a hair tie that looks like a poodle. Lucky girl!

It was so busy and so much fun to help kids find toys they’d like that the time flew by and I couldn’t believe it when the bell rang for lunch. I thought I was only halfway through my shift. It was a pretty good way to spend the morning.

Meanwhile Breanna drew a ton of pictures, played with some of the toys (then put them back on the tables), talked to the other kids, and felt like a big girl having her snack at recess. She would have stayed the whole day but she was more tired than she realized.

Somehow I managed to eat some lunch, do all my work, make supper, and then get the kids out for a 45-minute walk around the neighborhood to look at all the Christmas lights.

Breanna fell asleep like she was knocked unconscious when I put her to bed. Hayley is still up because that’s just the way she is, but at least she’s reading quietly in bed.

As for me, I’m having my tea an hour early so I can go to bed and pass out too.

Canadian pride

Normally I’m a quasi-Olympics fan. I like to watch them but won’t go out of my way to do it. I keep track of how Canada is doing, and if there are athletes competing that I particularly like then I check up on how they’re doing as well.

However, with the 2010 Winter Olympics being held in my own country (albeit at the complete opposite end!), there’s a certain level of excitement that I can’t ignore and I’m really looking forward to watching – and hoping that we don’t end up an embarrassed nation. There’s nothing more sad than the host country doing poorly!

In particular I enjoy watching the aerial skiing, alpine skiing, luge, and figure skating. Hockey is always fun too and seriously, Canada should totally win at that one so here’s hoping.

Today the Olympic Torch was coming to an area that allowed me to go and see it. I didn’t follow the torch route (though I might have for part of it if the kids were older) but the four of us went together to the end of the relay route to wait for its arrival. Yes, we kept Hayley out of school; I felt like it was a historic event that was really important for her to see and we wanted to see it as a family.

It was REALLY cold. It wasn’t technically that bad, but with the wind it was nuts, especially just standing around. Luckily the kids were well bundled up.

Breanna tries to figure this out

All smiles

They also had a stage set up with some entertainment, including these guys who played drums and got the crowd all hyped up.

Hyped up

Drummer

And then finally, after a lot of shivering, and after Hayley got to the point where she was just really cold, the Olympic Torch showed up. With it came a huge surprise for me. I had looked up the path and the destination and the schedule for the torch but I never looked to see who was going to be carrying it. It was mostly because I had figured it would be a local person I had never heard of. I was so excited when I found out it was being brought in by Josee Chouinard who is one of my favorite Canadian athletes.

Lighting the flame

Olympic flame

I wish I could have gotten closer to take a picture without all the chains and stuff, but it was really packed. Still, it was really exciting to see the torch and to see her. I shouldn’t have been surprised since I tend to cry at the drop of a hat, but I was actually a bit unprepared for how emotional the whole thing was. It was so amazing to be there and I’m glad we got to go.

Next on my list of things I want to do to show my support – I desperately want the official red Olympic torch bearer mitts!

I know that today was probably not quite as exciting for Hayley (Breanna didn’t care, she was just happily playing in the snow the whole time) because of her age, but I think she’ll be happy to look back on it when she gets older and knows that she got to take part in a historical Canadian event.

Laid-back Saturday

This is exactly the kind of weekend that I like – we had plans but weren’t overly busy so it was a laid-back enjoyable day today. Tomorrow promises to be much of the same.

This morning I woke up at 8 am and realized that everyone else was still sound asleep out in the living room. It was the first time that Breanna had made it through the whole night for a living room camp-out. She usually wakes up around 3 am wanting to know where I am. However this time I actually had a chance to marvel that it was morning and I had not been poked awake by a small child needing to pee and then I even fell back to sleep for awhile. That was awesome.

After lunch we drove out to see my parents for the afternoon and Breanna opened up the present that they got her. My family knows how much Breanna loves dinosaurs and got her this little guy. I sometimes really despise battery-operated toys because they’re usually obnoxiously loud and take away from the chance to use your imagination but there are some that I do like. I definitely like this one. He chews on your finger (or a toy spoon, bottle, etc) and “eats”, then makes little cooing baby dinosaur sounds. No overkill and it’s really cute; she loves it.

Hayley and Breanna spent most of the visit trying to convince my parents’ cat to come out to play but unlike the first two cats my mom and dad owned, this one isn’t used to kids at all so she’s just not very interested in seeing two overly enthusiastic children who try to chase her around with toys. Alas.

It wasn’t cold out today but it was chilly by the time the sun started going down so we had a simple comfort food supper of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. When I was a kid my mom sometimes made tuna or salmon sandwiches and a mix of tomato and celery soup on nights when my dad wasn’t going to be home for supper and I always loved soup and sandwiches as a comfort meal.

Tonight it’s all quiet. Both kids were tired because they didn’t go to sleep until well after ten last night. Meanwhile, George is out at a friend’s house so it’s just me (and the dog, but she’s not much for conversation). I’m taking advantage by watching a movie that I know doesn’t interest George in the least, a foreign film called Osama. It’s about a family in Afghanistan during the rise of the Taliban. The father dies and leaves behind a wife and 12-year-old daughter. Since the Taliban prohibits women from working the young girl cuts her hair short and disguises herself as a boy so that she can work to support herself and her mother.

As you may have noted in my reading material post, that’s the kind of movie that is right up my alley.

So on that note, I’m off to read subtitles and relax. Enjoy your Saturday!

(The pictures of Breanna on her birthday are over here. Unfortunately the quality is kind of ech because it was pouring rain outside, leaving practically no natural light to use. My external flash needs new batteries so I had to use the dreaded on-camera flash. Alas. But the subject matter makes them cute anyway!)

Culture for the elementary school

Being a member of the Governing Board at Hayley’s school, I received an email one day asking us to vote on approving a last-minute field trip for grades one through six. The trip was to go see a play called “Simon and the Egg” which is about the environment, climate change, and how we’re all responsible for doing our part to help out.

I immediately said yes because it sounded like a good idea – many kids haven’t seen a play at that age and anything that brings about awareness for environmental causes is okay in my book. When I received the permission slip, I signed it, slipped the small fee into an envelope and sent it off with a little note telling Hayley’s teacher to let me know if she needed a volunteer.

The trip was divided over three days with grades one and two attending the play on Monday. First I received a call at 9 am and her teacher told me that she had received confirmation from one of the moms and she wouldn’t need me this time. No problem. Not five minutes later she called back to tell me the other grade two class had no volunteer because the mom was at home with two sick kids, and would I mind going with them?

Well, no I wouldn’t mind one bit. I know most of those kids by this point anyway and was happy to go with them. The best part was that Hayley didn’t even know I was coming so she almost fell over in shock when she passed me in the hallway and saw that I was there. She was a little annoyed that I wasn’t volunteering for her class but we were all on the same bus and the theater was very small so it didn’t make much difference in the end.

Simon and the Egg

The theater we went to was incredible because it’s an very small venue. There isn’t even a stage for the play, it’s performed directly on the floor, right in front of you. You get to sit so close that you almost feel like you’re a part of the play itself. It was also a one-man show which – as a person who took acting classes once upon a lifetime – always impresses me. Monologues are incredibly scary since you have no one to play off but yourself, your imagination, and your audience, so I give massive props to actor Michel Lefebvre for doing a fantastic job.

The play was probably a little over the heads of the kids because of their ages. The story wasn’t blatant in-your-face “save the environment!” in its message, it was more abstract and I think that they probably didn’th catch all the nuances that the adults and older kids would. Still, it was a totally stunning visual experience which had the entire audience of children enthralled. In all honestly, my own mouth was hanging open more than once just because it was all so beautiful and so well done.

Simon and the Egg

In the end, what I loved most was that it didn’t preach – no one tells you what you need to do, you’re left to figure out for yourself where your responsibilities lie. I like that, especially from an educational viewpoint because it lets you ask the kids questions. On the way back I asked Hayley what she thought we needed to do in general, and she said things like more plants and trees, no littering, picking up garbage… Kids are often more aware than they might appear on the surface.

Overall though, even if the kids didn’t catch as many things as I did, I’m just ecstatic to know that they saw a play. One boy on the bus asked me what a play is when we were driving out there and for this generation to understand, I had to tell him that it’s similar to when characters on television tell you a story except in a play you get the story right in front of you. I don’t think he really got it until he saw it for himself.

Arts aren’t necessarily a top priority in the education system anymore, so knowing that the kids at Hayley’s school are getting to experience some culture and theater made me very happy. It was nine bucks well spent and I’m glad that we, as a board, unanimously voted our approval because I think it was really beneficial.

If you happen to be from the Montreal area, I urge you to check it out yourself, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The weekend already

A propos of nothing, these are the two photo poses sent home from the school for us to choose from for our Grade Two photo of Hayley this year.

School photos

I love them both – I’m so glad she really smiled big this year! – but we eventually decided to order a package of the photo on the right.

I woke up feeling a little bit surprised that it was Friday this morning and that the weekend was just around the corner. I guess I was a little thrown off by a couple of things, one being that it had been a four-day weekend so the week started on Tuesday. The other thing is that Hayley came down with some sort of bug and missed school on Thursday and Friday, so the whole week was just a big mess, logistically speaking.

I wasn’t able to send her to school because not only was she feeling under the weather, she also had a fever. I would be mildly concerned about H1N1 but she isn’t exhibiting any of the other common symptoms of the flu – besides, my kids get a fever with every illness. Still, fevers are not tolerated in schools at all right now because of concerns so there was no point. They just would have sent her back home as soon as it came back. Breanna’s been sniffly the past couple of days as well, so it’s just that season again.

The bummer about it is that friends of ours are having a birthday party for their daughter and son on Saturday but it’s looking like we won’t be able to make it. I don’t want to make anyone else sick, I don’t want the kids to be out if they’re feeling icky, and I don’t want them to get worse – especially Hayley since she’s missed two days of school for it. It’s too bad, I was really looking forward to it because it’s always a lot of fun, but hopefully we’ll see them soon. We’ll see how the kids are tomorrow and make a decision then.

On the other hand, it’s also George’s birthday on Saturday (old man!) so if the kids are still too sick to go, we’ll put them to bed and watch a movie together instead. I’m a little bit ticked off because we ordered a mic for George for his birthday (it’s not much of a surprise, he found it and asked me to order it since I have a PayPal account, but hey at least he gets exactly what he wants that way!) on September 30th and it still isn’t here. That’s totally ridiculous. I know it’s shipping from California but come on. It’s not like it was being brought here on foot.

According to the tracking info it only left the U.S. on the 7th, I don’t know why that took so long. And now it’s sitting in Montreal since the 13th but for some strange reason it hasn’t budged any closer to us. I know George is a big boy, it’s not quite the same as ordering something for a kid but still, it sucks to not have your birthday present ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, you know? From now on I’m only shopping from online retailers that use couriers because this postal service from the U.S. to Canada sucks.

(I was interested to learn that the tracking number doesn’t change after crossing the border so I was able to easily find the package on the Canada Post site too. That’s at least helpful. Having it sit there for three days, not so much.)

Les yeux

He looks pretty good for a senior citizen old guy birthday boy, doesn’t he?

Hayley’s school was supposed to have a movie night tonight but it was postponed until another to-be-determined date and she couldn’t have gone anyway, what with missing two days of school and all. To make up for it, I offered to do a movie night at home. I made popcorn and put it in the little popcorn containers that we have (they’re so cute), spread out a blanket on the floor, and put on a movie. Hayley chose some Star Trek for the evening’s entertainment. Clearly the geek apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Movie night

It’s not quite the same as hanging out in the school gym with all your friends while only barely paying attention to a movie, but it went over well anyway.

In the meantime, here’s hoping I can keep the germs at bay. I have two meetings next week and no time for being sick! Please pass the Lysol!

Busy long weekend

O Canada

Being Canadian, this past weekend was a long one. It was Thanksgiving so Hayley had both Friday and Monday off from school. Friday saw me scurrying around like a bit of a crazy person, preparing for company on Saturday. I worked and cleaned and worked and cleaned, and that’s about it for Friday.

George had to play that night, and I intended to get to bed early but I’m not particularly good at doing that if no one is around to shoo me off towards my pillow. Which is why, I suppose, I found myself – at 12:30 am no less – wiping down my kitchen cabinets, washing the kitchen walls, and cleaning the dust off my ceiling fan blades.

At 1 am I realized I was insane and headed to bed, except I heard a sudden knocking sound. The cat spends most of her time behind the washing machine so at first I thought she was scratching herself and banging her leg against the metal. Then I heard it again and looked out the peephole only to find two people I’ve never seen before banging on the door down the hall from us. One was a tiny little woman and the other was a very tall and burly man, the latter of which POUNDED loudly several times.

In all honestly, I’m sure it was the woman’s family, and maybe her phone wasn’t working and no one had heard from her in awhile so they had come to check on her. Still, I had no idea how they had gotten into the building since you need to be buzzed in, and they were freaking me out. It’s a sad state of the world today that while my first reaction was to want to open the door to inquire if they needed help or a phone or whatever, my second and more logical, safe reaction was to keep the door firmly locked. There are semi-regular home invasions in the Montreal area and while they are usually in houses as opposed to apartment buildings, I was taking no chances – especially with two kids in bed.

Eventually they left but I was pretty rattled (particularly since the woman came right up to my door and cocked her head as though she was listening for someone inside) so I didn’t really sleep until George got home. Whew.

On Saturday we had Hayley’s birthday party. We had wanted to have it the weekend of her birthday but it wasn’t in our post-holiday budget so we waited until now to throw her party; she didn’t mind. Since it fell on Thanksgiving weekend, one of our friends offered to roast a turkey and stuffing. It was delicious and a big hit. We also had George’s roast pork, my potato-onion casserole, rice, and mixed vegetables along with all the usual things (crackers, cheese, etc). There was definitely enough food! Another friend made a ridiculously amazing pumpkin cheesecake complete with Oreo cookie crust, caramel, chocolate ganache, and pecans. Gah!

Hayley was in heaven because most of her gifts were Barbie-related. She’s finally become super interested in playing with them which is kind of nice since I usually had no idea what to tell people when they would ask what she wanted as gifts. She got a Barbie dog grooming center, a beach cruiser, and a kitchen set, all for Barbies. Ecstatic! She also loved her cake. She wanted a beach cake since she had so much fun at the beaches in Halifax and that was pretty easy to do. I even decorated the “beach” part with some of the (boiled and washed) shells that we had picked up and a hand-drawn starfish. I also put a little Orca figurine in the “ocean” part of the cake. She was really happy!

Beach cake

On Sunday we went to George’s parents’ house to have Thanksgiving dinner. It was just the four of us, his parents, and a family friend so it was quiet but very nice. And really it’s never actually QUIET with kids, right? We ate a lot of good food, had some good laughs, and earlier in the afternoon I slipped out and took some pictures of the woods to capture the slowly changing leaves. I’m worried that we won’t have a particularly colorful Fall since the wind has been blowing the leaves off before they get super bright, but I’m still hoping.

Fallen

It was nice to walk in the woods alone with nothing but my camera for company!

Monday was pretty quiet and one of Hayley’s friends came over to play Barbies, but everyone was tired so it wasn’t as exuberant as it might have been otherwise. I was really happy once 10 pm came around and I was able to put my feet up and watch some prime time television (oh okay, it was “CSI: Miami”) and then go to bed.

This morning was rough since I was tired, had a wicked sore throat, and it was also freezing cold and raining out. Still, it was good to get back to routine again. It’s a short week so it won’t be too bad and it will be the weekend again before we know it.

I hope all my fellow Canadians had an equally wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! You can see all the birthday party photos over here and all the Thanksgiving photos are over here.