I just realized that I didn't post about our spring break adventures which are almost a month ago now. Vivian and I were both very sick with the flu for the first week and Adeline was just recovering, so that was a pretty quiet time with lots of visiting Nana's house for Adeline and lots of couch time for me and Viv. The second week the girls were feeling better, David was off work and I was able to at least fake being well for periods of time, so we went out and had some fun and visited some of our favourite old places and found some new ones.
Adeline discovered a deep love for mini-golf. She briefly abandoned her plans to be an ornithologist who helps save endangered birds in the Amazon and was looking into professional mini-golf careers...
We went down to the marina and fed the seals and otter. Our hands smelled like herring for days as did the inside of our car, but it was totally worth it to get up close to the wildlife. Well, mostly wild - no fear of humans but also likely pretty aggressive if you didn't toss the fish and QUICK. Adeline is so enamored of otters right now that she was glowing with excitement when this guy popped up from under the dock
Adeline kept trying to get closer and I kept trying to pull her back. At one point they almost got in nose-booping-range despite my best efforts, but luckily nothing happened. Adeline was thinking "SOOOOOOO CUTE!", the otter was thinking "I SMELL FISH. GIVE ME FISH" and I was thinking "VICIOUS SHARP TOOTHED BEAST ABOUT TO TEAR THE FACE OFF MY DAUGHTER". But it was all good and after the initial excitement Adeline did give the otter his space which stopped the heart attack I could feel coming on. Adeline still declares this the absolute best thing she did on spring break.
Vivian liked it too, although the raw and bloody fish was too much for her and she let Adeline do the feeding and she tired of watching the seals sooner than Adeline and went for a walk down the dock with her Nana.
We also went the aquarium where Vivian was fascinated by the jellyfish...
And to Butterfly Gardens to visit our favourite bird... The girls are desperate for him to walk on their arms but he only likes women and it seems he recognizes me now and if I offer my hand he walks right up my arm to my shoulder and gives me kisses. I never considered myself a bird-person, but there is something awfully nice about it.
We went on a "bunny hunt" at the gardens. It was crowded, but the girls loved it and Adeline has declared it our new Easter tradition. Even though we were busy hunting for the bunnies hidden all around the gardens we still had time to stop and enjoy the vibrant green beauty of early spring...
...and to ride the carousel. This was Adeline's first solo ride and you can see how happy and proud she is. For a long time she was too scared to do anything but be hugged on the bench as the carousel went around and then last year she finally got up the courage to be held tightly while riding an animal and now she's finally ready to enjoy the ride on her own. Adeline will loudly declare that she isn't scared of ANYTHING, but it's just not true at all.
The bunny hunt prize was a bag of jelly beans or chocolate which was the perfect end to the visit for my sugar bunnies. Our week together made me really look forward to the summer when I'll be home with both my girls. They get along so well (most of the time) and I love to see all the love and fun there is between them.
Our week also had lots of bike riding, visits to parks, and plenty of hanging out at home just enjoying each other. There was a post-haircut pho lunch and Adeline learned how to use chopsticks and to tie her shoes over spring break! Quite the memorable week!
Last week, Adeline performed in the 20th Annual Grade One Puppet Show and it was FABULOUS. Her class sewed their own puppets and worked together to make the scenery and did an extremely spirited rendition of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly". Adeline was a blue macaw ("How absurd to swallow a bird!") and she loved every minute of it and was very proud of the great show she put on for the packed room of families and friends. My girl was the only kid who absolutely couldn't resist peeking up every once in awhile to see how the audience was reacting. Adeline loves to be on the stage and she loves the feedback of seeing an audience enjoying her performance.
David and I are both only children and my Mom is the only grandparent that the girls have. Our family is SMALL, but we're so glad it includes David's Mom's sister, Anne. Adeline and Auntie Anne had an instant connection despite their almost eighty year age difference, and there is so much love and fun in the air when those two are together. It takes full day with a lot of car travel to go visit Anne and we always plan to do it once a month but then sickness and busy-ness and stuff needing to get done around the house and garden gets the better of us and then it's once again been way too long since we've gotten together. Vivian is finally starting to warm up to Auntie Anne. I hope they will have many years together to build their relationship.
Neither Adeline nor Auntie Anne are fans of posing for pictures, but Adeline told me on the trip up that she wanted me to take a picture of the two of them to put up in her bedroom. I saw them sitting on the steps of the woodshed and in just a couple of frames got some lovely shots that I think really capture something about the feelings they have for each other.
Vivian is a very affectionate girl, especially at bedtime. I know all the hugs and declarations of love are partly a stalling tactic, but how can I resist when she's so sweet? Last night she threw her arms around me and said "You're my best Mama in the whole world! You're my best Mama in the whole wild west! You're my best Mama in the whole deep sea! You should have a shiny golden trophy. I love you so much!".
Whew. That time sure flew by, didn't it? A lot of it was taken up with every member of my family being sick, first with some wicked colds and then just as we were recovering we were all hit with the flu AT THE SAME TIME. I had lived in fear of this ever since I became a Mom, and YES, it was as bad as I thought it would be. For days on end I had a fever of a 104 and every muscle and bone in my body ached, and I was so exhausted I wanted to cry, but I still had to take care of two very sick and surly girls and a husband who should have been home from work but wasn't. Adeline bounced back first but is still coughing, Vivi wasn't her wiggly giggly self for weeks and would just sit and stare for long periods of time and I probably have progressed to pneumonia or bronchitis or something as I'm still feeling pretty lousy. In the middle of all that my Mom went into the hospital for very minor surgery and ended up staying a few worrying days. So yeah, there's all that. I don't think I took a single picture in February or the beginning of March. Valentine's Day and our 11th wedding anniversary and the first week of spring break fun were all cancelled. Adeline has a violin thing coming up in April and she's taken on a BIG challenge and I'm having huge amounts of worry as we've lost a few weeks of practice. I can't remember the last time I cooked a real meal although with the amount of dishes sitting on my counter you'd think I've been entertaining every night. The house is really and truly filthy and all I can think about is whether my screen-time guilt will allow me to put on yet another episode of the "The Octonauts" for Viv while I lay on the couch with my eyes closed.
Whew. That's a LOT of whining. Sorry.
But the good...we are all on our way back to health (I think). It's still spring break and David is taking next week off so we'll have some family fun (hopefully in the sunshine) and celebrate Easter and make some good memories. Spring is truly here and despite my illness I'm itching to get out and feel the sun on my back while I work in the garden. Happier times (and more blogging) are ahead, I'm sure.
And just because I can't have a post without a picture, here's lovely Miss Vivian, taken yesterday as we baked some cheese scones together. Because she was so sick I had to cancel her appointment to get her hair done, so she's pretty shaggy, but she's looking so grown up to me lately. Vivi is so funny these days. I love that she's been telling me her dreams lately - the other night she woke up around 1 and when I went into her room she was sitting up and grinning ear to ear. She said "Oh Mama! I dreamed a COOKIE was sleeping on the edge of my bed! He was so cute!". She also talks in her sleep - mostly mumbles - but the other night as clear as anything she said "Look at that! There are MARSHMALLOWS on that building!". Cute cute cute.
Adeline was drawing at the easel and starting producing a series of very expressive blue horses, using no outlines only shapes. I said "Wow! Your blue horses really remind me of some famous paintings I know! I'll find a picture of them to show you". She turned to me and said as if it was no big deal "I'm drawing blue horses like Franz Marc. He was an expressionist". We went on to have quite a conversation about different genres of art and why a blue horse was so revolutionary in it's time. Have I told you how much I love Adeline's school???
A blue horse by Franz Marc, German Expressionist painter of the early twentieth century...
Blue horses by Adeline, First Grader of the early twenty-first century...
Did I ever tell you that I should have been an Art Historian? I was confused in my University years and afraid of change and having a LOT of fun as a Theatre major. I really should have taken the passion I felt in my art history classes and the easy excellent grades I got in all those classes as a sign that I should have re-thought my plans, but I didn't (regrets...I've got more than a few). So you can understand I was pretty excited to be discussing art with my six year old!
Today Adeline has been at her new school for 100 days. Every single one of them has been a good one. Have I told you how much I love Adeline's school??? Every day she bounces off happily to school in the morning and she bounces out of her classroom at the end of the day, declaring her school day "Excellent!", "Awesome!", "Amazing!", "Great!", "Fabulous!" or "The BEST DAY EVER!". She fakes being well so that I won't keep her home when she has a cold and she counts down the days until she can go back to school when she's on holidays.
Why do I love Adeline's school? Here's just some of the reasons...
Oh how I could go on. I could probably think of 100 things I love about Adeline's school - one for each day she's been there!
So happy we found this special place. I wish it was free, of course, but it's worth the sacrifices to have our girls spending so much time at such an amazing school where they will learn so much and be encouraged to really be themselves.
Don't my girls look as lovely as spring blossoms? Every time Adeline puts on her ao dai she starts posing like the very elegant dancers we saw on the stage when we were in Hanoi in 2014. Those beautiful young ladies definitely made a big impression on Adeline. Adeline KNOWS she looks good in her ao dai. She even wanted to wear it to school for their Lunar New Year celebration on Friday (have I mentioned I LOVE Adeline's school???).
Tet is the Vietnamese New Year and the start of spring in Vietnam, so I've decided to decide that it's spring here too despite what the calendar may say! The weather we've had the last few days has proven me right and we've had a few chilly but sunny days where you could even take your coat off for awhile and feel the sun on your back. Ahhhhhhhhhh.
We had a lovely long weekend to welcome in the year of the monkey. We decorated our whole house on Friday, we went to a big party with friends on Saturday, we made banh chung and banh tom for our family feast on Sunday which we followed with making as much noise as we could to scare away the bad luck from our house and then staying up reallllllllllllllly late (Adeline made it to 1 am!) to welcome in the new year. We weren't done yet - Monday we continued the celebrating and had a day of family fun in the sunshine.
And yes, I'm SO HAPPY that January is over!
Oh, January, how you bring me down each and every year. At least it's happened so often that I now know it's coming, not that I seem to be able to do anything about it. It's dark. It's cold. It's wet. All the sparkle and shine of Christmas is gone from the world and spring still seems an eternity away.
January also gets me thinking big thoughts about CHANGING EVERYTHING, but of course once saner heads prevail in the sunnier month of February I usually realize I've got it pretty good.
Last year I was in such a dark place in January. Much darker than this year. Over Christmas was when we realized that public school wasn't what we wanted for Adeline but we hadn't found the right school for us and January was the month when we found the right place but were told that there was no space for Adeline. I was so desperate last January I was even considering homeschooling which I know can be great for some families but I just don't think it would have worked for us. This January we're making some decisions about preschool for Vivi (seriously - can you believe that???). She turns three in the summer (what??? my baby girl??? three???) and could start in the preschool program at Adeline's amazing and fabulous and wonderful school, but there are some buts... It's five half days a week and that just seems a lot to me for a wee three with a stay-at-home Mom and money is a big issue as well, as paying tuition for two is DAUNTING and can't be done on David's salary alone no matter how we crunch the numbers. I don't want to go out to work just to pay for Vivian to be in full day care and am hoping to continue being at home until she's in school full time at six if I can. Preschool is only slightly less than elementary even though it's half days, so it's a pretty big number. David has started work to get our basement ready for renters and I've moved all the junk from renovated a corner of our office/computer area/giant closet into a workable if not pretty crafting space, so I hope to earn half or more of Vivian's tuition by doing one or more craft fairs next Christmas and by resurrecting my etsy shop. It's hard to work after dark once the girls are in bed, but I'm going to have to find the motivation. And of course to go to school you have to be out of diapers and finished napping, and I don't know if that will happen by September. Our registration needed to be in by the end of this month so we've gone ahead and signed her up, but there is still time to make a final decision by the summer. We attended an Open House last week, and Vivi did seem very ready. Vivian marched right in and made herself completely at home, she chose activities from the shelves and worked on them with a lot of focus and most amazingly, she made conversation with all the teachers! Viv has really only said a couple of words to people outside our little family and she still often scowls at strangers who talk to her or she hides behind me, but on the Open House night she was obviously completely comfortable in her potential classroom as she was chatting away with the teachers and administration, and laughing and smiling with people while I just blended in to the background and watched her. This was HUGE for me and it almost brought a tear to my eye, thinking of how far she's come and feeling so grateful for the amazing school community that she'll be joining when she's ready. My baby girl was so sad and so scared for such a long time, but that night for the first time I saw her sparkle without me and I knew that she will feel safe and happy at school and that in her heart she finally knows that I'm not going to leave her.
Have I every told you that toilet training has been the WORST parenting job I've had so far and I am DREADING going through it again. Sure, maybe it will all be different with Viv but it was ...years... of drama with Adeline. I vowed never to go into the details here in a public space, but yeah... Whew.
January has also been a month of colds with two back to back ones for Vivian and David and one that seems to drag on endlessly for Adeline. At least I've stayed healthy so far...
Other January stuff... Adeline is doing skating lessons at school and has managed to skate approximately three inches, but she never gives up and she never stops having fun! I love that about her! She had wanted to go back to Rhythmic Gymnastics and was all signed up but then the class was cancelled so she decided to try karate instead. Adeline likes it a lot and seems to be picking it up quickly, but I must admit that at least where she's taking it it's way too violent for me. She loves to try new things - I think if I offer her something new after karate she'll be happy to move on.In January Adeline also prepared for and totally rocked her Grade One Royal Conservatory of Music exam. I was really proud of all the effort she put into it and how she never complained even though it felt like we spent WEEKS AND WEEKS just polishing her scales and arpeggios! Adeline has got a lot of violin happenings this spring and her playing has really had another great leap forward, so I'm excited to see where she's going to take it this year.
One of the bright spots in January has been how great Adeline and Vivian are getting along and how SUPER FUN their shared play has been for both of them lately. I love watching them play "Cockatiels Save Christmas" or "Karate Cats" or "Baby Animal Rescue". I love hearing them laugh together.
Six more days in January. I'll make it. Barely. February will be better, right?
I just looked for a photo to include with this post and realized I haven't even taken any pictures since Christmas. Now we know there's something wrong with me!!!
The weeks leading up to Christmas were hard for us this year. First Adeline and I had colds and then Vivian was VERY sick. Just a virus, but one that brought with it a lot of coughing and congestion, some fever and a whole bucket-load of MAD. When Viv is sick she gets absolutely out of control - nothing like her usual fairly sweet and easy personality. She has full on tantrums complete with laying on the floor kicking and screaming many times a day, she cries at every perceived slight or when she is told no, she wants to be held all the time but then you're not doing it right and she cries, she wants to be carried around (which she is too big for), she doesn't eat or drink or sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time and there's SO MUCH CRYING all day and all night. Oh my ears. I have so much compassion for her, but it's exhausting for everyone around when she's not well. By Christmas Day she was down to just a really runny nose, a bit of a cough, a prickly attitude and just some crying rather than all day crying, so it was a little better and she did rally in the morning for present opening. Poor thing. She was sick last Christmas too. My dream isn't for a white Christmas, it's for next year everyone to be healthy from December 15th through 30th!
Just a few pictures from our Christmas. I'm having a very needed hour alone right now while David takes the girls to an indoor play space, so I want to get off the computer quick and do some relaxing!
Do you think Adeline was excited for Christmas Eve?
Oh yeah. SO excited. Despite her plans, she slept until 8 on Christmas morning and then she woke us all up so the fun could begin! Yes, in the second picture down that IS a gummy rat in Adeline's mouth - it was her breakfast. We have a rule that you can have anything you want for breakfast on Christmas and Adeline has chosen gummies three years in a row now.
The girls got lots of musical presents this year so we all had a great time making a "family band"! Despite Vivian's being under the weather we still had a really lovely day and we've been enjoying some pajamas, treats and new toys days ever since Christmas. Unfortunately David goes back to work on Tuesday (BOO) so it's about to get less fun around here and back to school is just days away. It all went far too quick this year.
We didn't know how it would go... Vivian cried SO MUCH last year and she's still very unsure of new people, but this year she's been really into reading books about Santa and has watched a few television shows with Santa and she knows he brings you presents and candy. We had put it off to the last minute as we kept hoping Vivian would start feeling better, but by the 23rd we knew that this was Adeline's last chance. We were in the kitchen making plans for David to take Adeline to the mall and for Vivian to stay home with me, but Vivi overheard us and wouldn't stand for it. SHE was going to see Santa and she wouldn't have any further discussion. We didn't know what to expect, but she was happy and humming with excitement and wanted to show Santa the fancy dress she had picked for herself. She was pretty snotty and had a terrible cough and had been crying off and on all morning, but we knew Santa was probably used to that sort of thing. As we got ready to go we realized that Vivian thought we were going to the North Pole and she was most excited to see the reindeer. Her enthusiasm waned a bit when I explained that Santa had come to see us, so we weren't going to the North Pole, but she was still eager to go. We got lucky and there were only a handful of kids ahead of us in line, so the excitement lasted through the long walk through the busy mall and the wait to see the big guy.
Isn't Vivian's dress quite something? I went to the store to pick out a Christmas dress and David was supposed to keep Vivian occupied until I had picked out and paid for something classic and lovely, but they showed up early and Viv turned her nose up at all my understated picks and chose this sparkleriffic dress. Her favourite colour is blue and it is COVERED in glitter and it has a big twirly skirt, so it really is the right dress for her. Adeline has never cared one bit about what she wears, but Vivian has had some really strong opinions on it from the start.
So back to Santa. They were peeking through the set at Santa and Vivian was wide-eyed and Adeline was hopping with excitement. I STILL didn't know how it would go, but when it was our turn Adeline launched herself at Santa and I took Vivi's hand and walked her over. I asked if she wanted to sit on Santa's knee and she said yes, so I put her up there and stepped a few paces back. Vivian looked worried but she was brave and she sat up there to have her picture taken.
Once the picture was done I suggested that Viv get down and stand in front of Santa as I knew she'd be more comfortable there. Vivian didn't make conversation with Santa but she couldn't take her eyes off him and she was listening intently. Adeline was happy to do the talking for both of them and as we were leaving Viv gave Santa a high-five and thanked him for the candy cane. As we walked away Santa ho-ho-hoed and Vivian broke out in a big smile and she said to me "I made Santa laugh!". I'm so glad Vivian wouldn't allow herself be left out. The picture and the memory are precious to me and we obviously made some Christmas magic for both the girls.
Adeline helped with quite a bit of the baking and candy making this year, but there was one recipe she did all by herself. The only thing I did was empty the pot of melted chocolatey/peanut buttery goo over the cereal, but she did all the melting, stirring, and coating in icing sugar to make a big batch of "Monkey Munch". This recipe is usually called "Puppy Chow" or "Muddy Buddies", but Adeline found those too "icky", so she renamed it "Monkey Munch". It's a fitting name as it's pretty addictive and you just want to keep munching and munching!
And in case you're wondering, unless they are putting on shoes, my children never wear socks. It actually REALLY bugs me, and their feet always feel cold to the touch, but I've long ago stopped trying to get them to wear socks or slippers in the house.
"The Fang" came out at about three in the morning. Adeline felt it rolling around in her mouth and woke up, so it didn't get swallowed as I really expected it would. I'm really liking the "First Grade Vampire" look much better. Super cute and now she can sing "All I Want for Christmas are my Two Front Teeth!". Adeline is thrilled that she can still whistle and she loves sticking her tongue through the hole.
I thought all families did this, but David's didn't, so maybe it's not as universal as I thought. I have great memories of my Nana and I sword-fighting through the house with empty wrapping paper tubes and laughing until we fell over. We gathered up our tubes and today it was ON. It was an epic Jedi/Ninja/Knight battle for the ages. Vivian was more interested in using her tube as a telescope, but she did manage to get a few good whacks in. Adeline and David battled it out until their swords were shredded. SO much laughing and so many great faces from Adeline - even though she's laughing she takes it pretty seriously!
Poor Vivi was so sick in the weeks before Christmas, but she did manage to help with the gingerbread house. At first Adeline resisted Vivian's help, as Adeline wanted to do it in an orderly and precise way and Vivian wanted to do it like a two year old, but with just a little reminder, Adeline was able to be very gracious about it and they really worked together to make the house. I love to watch them work together and cooperate. Sometimes the four year age difference can be a challenge, but they really do get along so well. They both had a lot of fun and remarkably ate very little candy, and we've enjoyed our little house all through Christmas.
So Adeline refuses to give her baby teeth any help to fall out. Which leaves us with this...
We call it "The Fang" or "The Travelin' Tooth". Adeline is a gorgeous girl, even with the fang, but It's just hanging there driving me crazy... It creeps a lot of people out, but for some reason Adeline is really into it. You can see her adult teeth are already mostly in behind it and it's just hanging by a thread, but she wants it to stay like that, thank-you-very-much. The last couple of weeks she's had TWO crazy teeth going in two different directions, but Lefty finally came out a few days ago after she accidentally whacked herself in the face. All you want for Christmas is your two front teeth? I just want the fang out of here!
Once again, Adeline was amazing at her winter violin concert! Adeline always looks beautiful and confident on the stage. She always works hard and she's very proud of how she's growing as a violinist. She's half way through Suzuki Book Two now and she also knows lots of other repertoire including some great fiddle tunes which she'll play at the spring concert. Once time we'll have to make a list of all the pieces Adeline knows - I think we'd be surprised at the number! Adeline was chosen to play two solos and then she performed with the ensemble for almost an hour, as she played a few pieces with the more advanced group, she played with her own group and then she stayed on the stage to help make the beginners sound fabulous. Although she was a little nervous beforehand (which translates into quiet and prickly if you're Adeline) once she was up there she was in her element and her energy never flagged. I'm so proud of Adeline. She's really learning that hard work and persevering through challenges has great rewards.
I hope this guy never stops going all out for Christmas! He's made his yard such a magical place for little ones and you just can't help feeling Christmassy when you're there! Adeline called it "The Million Light House" when she was little and that name stuck for us, but I hear it called a lot of other names in other families. We usually go a few times over the season, but this was our first trip this year. We had the place to ourselves as it had just stopped bucketing down rain. It's been a VERY rainy December for us - no chance of a white Christmas for us, but a wet Christmas? Definitely
The rest of November was a blur of surgery recovery, fevers, more than a few tantrums, walking home from school in the rain, rehearsals for the big violin concert, and as much snuggling down for home-style family fun as we could get.
But now it's December! Yay!!!
Already we're decorating - Vivi calls these "candy kits" which is almost too cute to correct.
And of course we're crafting - David gives a quite-probably-sarcastic "yay" for the return of glue and glitter.
And the girls are spending hours in their "Magic Christmas Box". It was absolutely NOT magical to have our washing machine conk out and flood the laundry room, but the new washer came with an A-MAZING box, which Adeline and Vivian have transformed into a Christmas wonderland, complete with festive lights, blankets and pillows, a book shelf, lots of stuffies, original art lining the walls and some homemade cinnamon ornaments to get rid of that cardboard box smell. You can't really tell from the picture, but Vivian is reading a book to her favourite feline friend Zephyr in the box. Adeline said this evening "It's just the box I've always wanted! If I didn't already have it, I would ask Santa for a box just like it and I wouldn't need any other presents!"
Yes, December comes with it's share of stresses, but it's so so much fun to share all the sparkle and magic of this time of year with my two daughters!
Adeline didn't want her and Vivi to wear their bird costumes to the school party. She told me "I just want to feel magical", so she picked out poufy pink princess dresses from our costume box for them to wear. Vivian was thrilled. She's always up for a big fluffy dress! They had a great time at the party, although Adeline told me that the "Haunted Hallway" should be rated "Aged 66 and above".
Here's a little look at the dancing...
Sorry the posting dropped off so suddenly there. Poor David (who just can NOT seem to catch a break lately) ended up having some minor surgery that ended up being slightly more than minor. It's all good and at not even two weeks post-surgery he's feeling pretty good and he'll be returning to work next week, albeit a little slower and more tired than he should be.
Even with everything else going on, we still managed to carve pumpkins, decorate the house and have a lot of fun!
Halloween was a truly epic two week event this year - there was a big street fair downtown where Adeline's violin group performed, a school party and dance, a house party with some friends and of course trick-or-treating! The girls had a FABULOUS time and enjoyed all the costume fun and of course, the CANDY.
Of course Vivian wanted to be an owl this year, and inspired by her latest obsession favourite movie, Rio, Adeline wanted to be an endangered Blue Spix Macaw. I had a lot of fun making their costumes and they were both thrilled with the outcome and wore their wings, heads and tails as much as I would let them in the weeks before the big night. Halloween night we went to a party and then there was a little trick-or-treating afterwards. Adeline was worn out and she actually asked for it to be over fairly quickly. The two girls still had a fine haul of candy which they finished up in a couple of days. Vivian was pretty thrilled with all the candy in those two days and it's been hard for her to come down off her sugar high. When she was a baby anything sweet would make her cry and cry (trying to feed her a banana seemed cruel, she hated it so much) but now she's got a bit of an obsession with sugar going on. Adeline could take it or leave it, but Vivi likes the sweet stuff a bit too much. We're back to regular eating now, until the candy onslaught of Christmas comes along. Oh Christmas, I'm SO looking forward to you this year. It's going to be GOOD.
Every year we go out to the boulevard on our street and rake up all the lovely red maple leaves we can find and instead of putting them on the compost pile like reasonable people, we fill our back yard with them and then we rake them into a big pile again and again and again to have some fun.
Adeline has always loved this and as soon as the pile appears she is immediately tossing huge armfuls of leaves over her head and at anyone nearby. Adeline rolls in the leaves and asks to be buried in them, she kicks them over and bellyflops into them - laughing the whole time, of course.
Adeline loves any experience that gives her lots of full body sensory input! Vivian is more of a full body sensory input avoider, so it took her a little time to warm up and while she would hold the leaves and loved to have them fly down over her she absolutely would NOT sit or lay down in the them and the thought of being buried in them was pretty offensive to her! That's not to say she didn't have a lot of fun though, it's just different fun than her sister!
Vivian kept saying "It's snowing! It's snowing leaves! This is so fun!" and she loved the leaves falling all around her as we all threw them at each other and made it "snow".
Adeline has decided that she does want her picture taken sometimes and has been working on her posing...
Adeline is always beautiful, but I still prefer a picture of a real smile and shining eyes showing the joy of having fun with your family!
The weather can just stay like this until we get snow on Christmas Eve and then January 1st spring can start. I get to be the boss of that, right?
October is totally my month. Add "playing in autumn leaves" to the list of things I love about this month.
Thanksgiving has come and gone in a hurry. After a slow, leisurely summer, autumn is WHIZZING by. It's been a great weekend and our family turkey dinner was the best yet. I'm sure it tasted better than ever because I didn't need to cook this year and just showed up at my Mom's house in time to make the gravy and mash the potatoes while I picked the crispiest bits off the resting bird. Yum.
I'm always thankful for these two -
and all the laughter and fun and worry and mess and chaos and frustration and joy and stickiness and hugs and warm fuzzies that they bring. I'm even thankful for their rapidly growing collection of stuffies which seem to be on every surface of my house and piling up in the corners in furry drifts lately. And of course I'm always thankful for David and what a good husband and patient and kind Dad he is. Lately I've been having trouble feeling like we have enough. I'm not feeling a lack of stuff in my life as really I'd like to back up a truck to our house and fill it with about 70 percent of our belongings, but I'm feeling like our budget is so limited because of our school choice and our choice for me to continue staying home with the girls awhile longer that things like trips and home renovations and new furniture are all completely out of the question. But really, we don't need any of those things and I know it. Not only do we have enough in all areas, we have an abundance of all the important things - health, home, happiness, security, fun, family, food, education...everything. We have everything. I am so lucky to have a loving husband who puts his family first every day, two great kids who are healthy, happy, smart and filled with love for each other and for their family. I have a house that might be falling down in places (literally) but that keeps us warm and dry and safe all winter long. The furniture may be stained and cat-clawed and sagging, but it couldn't be more comfortable for snuggling up under a blanket to read books. And the best part of any trip is being there with the people I love, right? So what more do I need? Nothing. Nothing at all. I have everything. I'm a lucky, lucky woman and so thankful that I have been given so much in this life.
Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating this weekend!
October is the month of the year I wait for. The weather is absolutely perfect for me, my neighbourhood looks its loveliest right now, I love the return to snuggling under blankets, homemade soup, sweaters and scarves and making plans for Halloween always makes me happy. I love the warm light and the lack of bugs and the smell of fall and anticipating being thankful with my family next weekend. Maybe most importantly, by October we've all settled into our daily routine and things just seem to be easier in October.
Last weekend was the absolutely perfect October day and we took advantage of it with a trip to the gardens to run around in the sunshine, ride the carousel and eat our fill of gelato before the end of the season.
Such a good day.
The rain is coming, but for now I'm going to soak up as much October sun as I can. I know it won't hold me through the grey gloom of November, December and January, but for now I feel like I can't get enough of it.
We had a great Moon Festival weekend. Lots of family fun, a great party which culminated in an epic pillow fight, many homemade mooncakes and as the perfect ending, taking our lanterns to the beach to watch the super moon/blood moon lunar eclipse Sunday night. Both girls loved dressing up in their ao dais, but Vivian was mad and didn't want her picture taken as we were leaving for the party because she wanted to jump on the trampoline. I did manage to get a few shots though, despite Vivi's non-cooperation. Adeline knows she looks beautiful in an ao dai and she really wanted her picture taken and she wanted it to be a nice picture of sisters hugging or holding hands and Viv would have NONE OF IT and started to cry the second Adeline got too close. She wanted everyone to know she wasn't happy about the no-trampoline thing.
The party was a lot of fun and our homemade mooncakes were very appreciated! Adeline will tell you that absolutely the best part of moon festival this year was the pillow fight! Once it got dark we all walked down to a lantern festival taking place in a nearby park. Adeline had the best view of the lion dance from up on her Daddy's shoulders.
That night Vivian was up until 10:15 and Adeline until after midnight, so the next day we were all feeling kind of low and slow. Even though it meant another later night, we wanted to keep our tradition of going to the beach to make our wishes to the harvest moon. Of course, this being not only the harvest moon, but a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, the beach was packed which made it less of a quiet, reflective family time and more of a party. The blood moon was less impressive to the littles, but I thought it was a very cool thing to see. I guess when you're young so many things in the world are new to you that it's just one more new thing, but to us, we've never seen the moon look like that before, so it's fascinating.
This weekend is Tet Trung Thu, or the Autumn Moon Festival. In Vietnam it's a holiday centred around children and families - a time to reconnect and have some fun after the harvest is in. THE food for the Autumn Moon Festival is the mooncake and year after year we have dutifully bought a beautiful box of mooncakes to each take a bite or two of and then throw away after the holiday is over. You see the problem with mooncakes is that they don't taste very good. But making them? Whew. No. Nobody makes them. They are very intimidating - rolling, filling, molding and unmolding, a multi-step baking process... When we were in Vietnam I bought some traditional mooncake molds which are big wooden paddles with the cake mold carved in them and thought that someday I would tackle mooncakes, but I didn't. Then I saw a much friendlier mooncake mold like this -
See how friendly looking it is? I thought anything that looked that much like a playdough toy couldn't be scary so I ordered a set from China via ebay. On Friday I took a deep breath, gathered my ingredients and began. My first thought was to make unbaked snowskin mooncakes as those looked easier, but I couldn't find the ingredients. I'm glad I went with a baked cake. I think ultimately they're tastier. I used a recipe I found online but I had to tweak it a little. My dough was far too crumbly and I had to add a little extra oil and a smidge of water to make it come together smoothly and my filling was completely soupy and I had to cook it down for a looooong time, but in the end mooncake making was actually pretty easy and fun! My Mom came to help and we all worked together. I made the dough and filling, Adeline loved weighing out the components and my Mom is a whiz with a rolling pin. We took turns stamping them out with the mold as that's the really satisfying part.
The unbaked ones were so pretty all lined up on the pan. Our first few were a little wonky, but once we got the technique it all went together easily.
Taa-daa! Our finished mooncake! I have to say I'm pretty impressed with us. But did they taste good?
Oh yes, they taste VERY good. The pastry is kind of like a soft shortbread cookie and the golden syrup gives it a beautiful golden colour and a caramel-y taste. The filling is a classic mung bean paste, but I substituted butter for the oil and some of the white sugar I swapped for brown sugar, which made the whole thing rich and delicious and much more palatable for us westerners. We shared one to test it yesterday, but were saving the rest for our party on Saturday and our family celebration on Sunday, but it was hard to leave them alone. We were all actually craving mooncake, which is something none of us has ever felt before. We used to dread having to get down a tiny wedge of mooncake and now we're all trying to figure out how we can sneak one without getting caught.
Next year Adeline wants to have a mooncake-making party with all her friends from Vietnam and China. I think it's a fabulous idea!
On the Labour Day weekend David decided to make one of Adeline's dreams come true and do two nights of REAL camping in one of our nearby provincial parks. I didn't know how she'd do with the outhouse, the bugs, the cold, the dirt or the many other inconveniences of camping, but she loved it and can't wait to go back! I didn't know how David would do either, as this was his first real camping experience since he was the world's cutest Cub Scout. Vivian, Nana and I just came out until after the campfire and then went home to sleep in our own beds, but hopefully next year it will be David and the two girls camping. Me? Not so much of a camping fan. I did it a lot as a kid and have good memories of it. I also have a lot of memories of being bored in a tent listening to the rain because it ALWAYS seemed to rain and of laying in bed desperately having to pee but not wanting to walk in the dark to the outhouse. And the bug bites. Oh the bug bites! Mosquitoes have always loved me. It had rained hard every day in the week before Labour Day, but we got lucky that it only rained overnight on one of the nights and the tent kept them dry. Also lucky was that our summer long fire ban had just been lifted - the campfire is the only part of camping I really love.
Vivian spent most of her time like this, hoping to spot an owl in the trees. She knows owls live in the forest and she was in the forest, so she was pretty sure she was going to see an owl ANY MINUTE. That girl LOVES owls.
But Vivi's stuffie was the only owl there...
The girls loved having the freedom to run and explore in the "forest" (really just the wooded area between the campsite and the outhouse, which was totally visible to us, but which felt a little dangerous and exciting to them. Vivian is an outdoors kind of girl so she was completely in her element.
S'mores are always wildly popular. We make ours with Nutella instead of chocolate, as the chocolate just never melted. So yummy.
I don't know if it was all the fresh air or all the sugar, but the two girls were so affectionate with each other. Although by the time this picture was taken, it looks like Vivi has maybe had enough of the hugging.
I understand why Adeline likes camping with her Dad. If I went I would make people put away the video games and read books or look at nature, I would insist on more sensible bedtimes and fruit, I would bring milk instead of juice and limit the candy and tell people that just froot loops isn't enough of a breakfast. I would even make people wash their faces, brush their hair and clean their teeth. I think instinctually Adeline knows all this, so she's just fine with me not being a camper.
I'm glad that Adeline and her Dad have such a fabulous time and I hope next year that David and his two girls will be making memories together while I have a weekend at home alone. Everyone is looking forward to next summer already - Vivi would like there to be more owls though.
Hey? Remember this? Well how about another one? Here are 10 totally random things that are making me happy this Monday.
Our twenty minute walk home from school takes us on a lovely wooden bridge across a beautiful inlet, through a little forest and then through our neighbourhood park to home. It's a peaceful walk as there are no cars except for the last few blocks and there are birds to watch and seals and otters to spot and the quiet really encourages Adeline to talk about her day. We've gotten in the habit of stopping at the playground just before we get home so Adeline can monkey-bar and Vivian can do the slide a few times. Every day so far Adeline has met someone she knows from her old school. Yesterday it was D. who she went to preschool with and who was in her kindergarten last year. After hugging and comparing how long their hair had grown over the summer, this was the conversation...
D: Oh. I can do the highest monkey bars now - watch!
Of all the very positive things I've heard from other parents about Adeline's new school and all the evidence of quality education at each child's own pace that I've seen, THIS is what has made my heart happiest. Adeline always professed to be happy at kindergarten and she generally was, as she loved her teacher and the work and playing with friends, but she often seemed stressed out and overwhelmed after school. I suspected (no, let's face it, I knew) that the violence, screaming, crying, aggressive language, profanity and posturing that was pretty well a daily thing in her kindergarten scared her, even though she might not have fully realized it and she certainly didn't want to talk about it. No child should have to be scared at school, and to know that Adeline now feels she's somewhere safe and "GREAT" with "nothing scary" is worth working hard and making sacrifices so that we can continue to send Adeline and then someday her sister to such an amazing school.
Adeline is completely giddy with excitement (and a little nervous, not that she'd ever admit it) to be heading off to Grade One at her new school!
I know it's only the first day, but I'm so happy with our choice to find a new school for Adeline. It's a safe, joyful community and we're so lucky to have found a place for our family there.
After school update: Adeline burst out of her classroom with a huge grin, gave me a great big hug and said "I LOVE this Grade One. It's AMAZING." She also told me that all the kids were "Super nice" and she was thrilled that there were two kids in her class smaller than her!
Adeline still doesn't like having her picture taken most of the time and is very uncomfortable in front of the camera (which is the only place on earth my girl is uncomfortable), so this post won't have as many pictures as Vivian's, unfortunately. Adeline seems to be turning into a big kid right before my eyes this summer. Doesn't her face look grown up in these pictures? Just growing and changing and maturing by the MINUTE. Here's where Adeline is right now...
My goodness, i can go on, can't I? I'm loving six so far, and can't wait to see where Grade One will take Adeline this year. Every day I'm happy and proud to be Adeline's Mama and I know I can always count on her to make me laugh.
So big. So fast.
Seriously. This kid is a HOOT. Two is my favourite age, so very funny, so full of wonder and so excited just to be alive.
Here's where my littlest girl is right now...
Vivian loves to laugh and she's full of wiggles and giggles. I love to hear it. It doesn't seem that long ago that she was still so serious and so worried a lot of the time. It's so good to see her so relaxed and to hear her great big belly laughs.
Isn't she gorgeous when she laughs?
Vivian talks ALL DAY LONG. Questions. Monologues. Telling stories about what happened in the past. Lists of things she likes to eat or things she thinks are cute. Involved conversations between stuffies. More questions. Questions she already knows the answer to. Chat chat chat. I thought she might be a little bit quieter than Adeline, but nope, she totally holds her own.
Vivian still doesn't speak to any adults outside our family and has only said a few words to other people. Most people get the evil eye, or she will make eye contact with people as they talk to her, put her hands behind her back and hum loudly. I wish she could show the world her big fun personality, but that doesn't seem to be her style.
She will often talk to children though and shows more interest all the time in playing with other little ones.
Viv loves to dance!
Vivian is trying to make sense of her life story right now. She often asks to look at the pictures of our time together in Vietnam. She says "I lived in Bietnam. I cried HARD. I cried SO HARD. I need my Mama. Mama give me a bottle and I feel better. I come home. I live in the blue house". She switches again and again between the picture of her crying inconsolably in her last moments with her nou-nou and the picture of me smiling and giving her her first bottle in the van, with a few tears still on her face.
I don't know much about memory and how it's formed and what infants can remember, but Vivian has shown some signs of being able to remember some things about Vietnam at this point. For example, she's never slept in a crib here and didn't know the word for it, but we saw a picture in a book and I told her what it was. She looked at it for a long time and then very seriously said "Baby Vivian sleep in a crib. I cry and cry" She also told me "In Bietnam there are lots of babies. All the babies cry.". I asked what happens when the babies cry, and she told me "They get cuddles. They feel better. They get bottles".
She thinks all the special things come from Vietnam. She often picks something up that she likes and says "This is SO SPECIAL. It's from Bietnam". A few of those things, like some of our musical instruments or her stuffed cat actually do come from Vietnam, but she thinks all the objects that are special to her must have come from her birth country.
Vivi seems to have mostly sorted out pronouns although "he" and "she" are still tricky sometimes.
Viv is at that stage where she is sorting the world into boys and girls and she knows the names of the parts that generally go along with each of those genders and she talks about them A LOT.
Vivian is a daredevil and especially loves to balance on high things. I would classify her as accident-prone and we do still have a lot of falls and clunked heads - not usually when she's being reckless, usually just things like falling off chairs or tripping over her own feet.
Vivian has a lovely big girl bed in her very own beautiful big girl room just steps away from the master bedroom, but she is very adamant that she belongs in Mama's bed. I know it's what she needs right now, but I'm very very ready for the co-sleeping to end.
Vivi occasionally sleeps through the night, but most nights she wakes between 1 and 4 times a night and needs comforting.
Vivi really likes her naptime and often will ask to go upstairs to sleep. Bedtime is often close to 9, unfortunately, but she wouldn't cope without the nap and I am so not ready for her to stop napping.
Vivian loves books and would be a very contented girl to sit and cuddle all day and have me or David read to her. Her favourites right now are "I Don't Want a Cool Cat", "Kitten Red Yellow Blue", "Red is Best", "Zin Zin a Violin", "I Love my White Shoes", "Mommies say Shhhh", "Oh David", "Fancy Nancy" and "If You Give a Pig a Party". She also really likes "Green Eggs and Ham" but I'm getting pretty tired of reading it, so I keep trying to hide it, but she always finds it.
She is always up for a trip to the library.
Vivian loves to be outside in any weather.
Vivi's favourite outings are to the park to see the peacocks, to the beach or to the pool.
She LOVES the pool and is very bold and doesn't mind getting splashed or putting her face in the water.
Vivi keeps asking "Where's the room?", "Where's the beach?", "Where are my kids?" She really had a great time on our beach holiday and asks to go back often.
Viv is a bit mad that she doesn't know how to ride a bike or a scooter yet. The girl wants WHEELS.
Our scale recently declared us all at 11 pounds, so I don't know how much Vivian weighs but she is tall and sturdy.
She wears mostly size 3 pants and size 2 tops. She has large, wide feet - size 6. Adeline wore that size shoe the summer she turned 5.
Vivian can do a spider handstand against the wall like this...
Adeline was doing it and I was shocked when Vivian got right up there beside her and did it too. She's a strong girl!
Vivian likes to carry heavy things and declare herself "So strong!".
Viv can "count" to about 18, but really can't count anything beyond two.
She can recognize "A" and "V" and knows they are the letters that start her and Adeline's names.
Vivian knows all her colours, including a few obscure ones like "magenta".
Vivian loves to be sung to and to sing. Lately her favourites are "You are my Sunshine", "Apple Blossom" and "Zippedee-do-dah". I wish I could get video of her singing but as soon as the camera comes out she gets quiet.
Vivian can be a really patient kid. Maybe it's a second child thing as she sometimes has to wait while Adeline does something, but she can spend a long time entertaining herself when we are waiting. When Adeline was at bike camp, mostly my Mom dropped her off and picked her up but on the last day Vivian and I went to watch from the shade of the car. The first hour Vivi just sat in her car seat and played happily with some toys and had snacks and the second hour she sat up front with me and we chatted while she pretended to drive us to the ice cream store. She was really happy, even though we were in one spot for two hours and never got out of the car. I had lots of "emergency fun" and special snacks stored away just in case, but we didn't need them at all.
Vivi's pretend play is really expanding. There has been lots of doctor play lately and lots of taking care of babies.
Vivian had two back to back ear infections last month. She was mostly still sunny, although occasionally she would just melt down into misery over little things. Poor thing - it must have hurt so much. The eardrum popped and both times there was a huge amount of pus draining from her ear. If this continues she may end up with tubes.
Remember this winter when Vivian had back to back to back to back to back colds? Whew...
Vivian's favourite creature is definitely owls. She has always really liked the book "Owl Babies" and then she got to see some real owls up close last month and she got an owl stuffie that has become her special friend and must accompany her just about everywhere these days. She often looks out our front window into the big oak tree and says she's "Looking for owls".
Vivian is starting to get the idea of tidying up, and when she's into it she does a great job picking up the toys and putting them away. She also likes helping with jobs like cleaning the windows and sweeping.
VIvi likes to brush her own hair, but we have different ideas on what a "good hair day" looks like. When she's done she likes to look in the mirror and say "Nice! I like it! Nice and fluffy!" I prefer a smooth look to her fluffy one, but I have to admire her independence and sense of style.
Adeline was never a tantrumer, but oh my can Vivian throw a good long one when she is told no or something doesn't go as she'd like. Whew. Today I told her she couldn't have a band-aid because she didn't have an owie and she cried and yelled for at least 30 minutes, but it was probably closer to 45. Sometimes I can distract her and get her to move on to something else, but sometimes it just needs to run it's course.
VIvi is still not much of an eater. I know she's growing, but I do worry about her nutrition as she is quite picky and if given the choice will drink her calories in milk rather than eating or will pick foods with few nutrients like rice or crackers to fill up on. There are a few fruits and veggies that she likes now but her palate is still pretty limited. We have to be mindful not to give her empty calories just to fill her up because we worry that she's not eating enough and just keep offering the healthy (and tasty) foods.
One of Vivian's favourite foods is strawberries straight from our garden. I'm so happy with the strawberry patch I planted this spring and it's already producing wonderfully for us.
Vivian likes to be fancy. She will only wear dresses and if she doesn't like one she will declare it "Not beautiful. P.U." She also likes jewellery and is really hoping that I'll say two is old enough to start wearing make up. I have no idea where this comes from. Adeline has never cared one little bit what she wears and while she likes to be fancy when the occasion calls for it, has no heart for fashion and really just wants to be comfortable.
Before we even met Vivian, Adeline declared that Vivian's favourite colour would be pink and she's campaigning hard to make that happen. So far Vivi doesn't seem to have a strong favourite, but will often choose pink as she's being prompted by Adeline. Her very favourite dress is sort of a mint green, but I think it's the big swishy skirt that is appealing and not so much the colour. Vivian looks great in pink - although really, my gorgeous girl looks great in anything.
...and a week later this happened...
...and this happened...
She's extremely thrilled and somewhat obsessed with her bike riding skills, but she wants NOTHING to do with the tooth fairy. After much struggle over what to do with her lost tooth, she declared that she wanted to keep her special baby tooth much more than she wanted money. She didn't trust the tooth fairy though, so she hid her tooth, left notes around the house using strong words to tell the tooth fairy to leave her tooth ALONE and she convinced David to sleep with her "just in case". I totally get it. I put my first tooth under my pillow and then cried for a long time the next morning when it was gone. I just didn't trust the tooth fairy's motives... So I put the quarter back under my pillow and my tooth was returned and I never put another one under there again.
My girl is transforming from a kindergartener to a big kid right before my eyes. I love watching the person she's becoming, but I can't help but miss our little girl sometimes.
...when Adeline declares summer OVER and told me that she wants it to be first day of Grade One tomorrow. She was looking back at our July calendar which was jam-packed with holidays and celebrations and camps and workshops and looking towards August which (in my opinion) is blissfully unscheduled. There's still a lot of August and a little bit of September to get through, so we'll have to get creative around here... I'm glad Adeline loves school so much, even though she is having some worries about being the smallest first grader at her new school. We haven't met any of the other first graders, but chances are that our girl will be the tiniest and she's a bit worried that her new friends won't be nice about it. Adeline may be tiny, but she's also confident, articulate, fun and funny, a good friend, intelligent, compassionate and willing to stand up for herself and for anyone else who needs some support. I think she's going to do just fine in her new school.
And how could anyone be bored with summer when we've got our very own anti-gravity chamber in the backyard? I don't think David is every going to be able to take the tent down - it's just too much fun.
Summer birthdays can be tricky. Especially ones that often fall close to the long weekend. I started contacting some of the people Adeline wanted to invite and was hearing a lot of "no, sorry" and "mayyyyybe" (which really means no). In years past I've gotten the invitations out before the end of school, but it just didn't happen for us. We thought Adeline would be upset about no big party, but really she took it right in stride when she heard what some of her party alternatives were and was reassured that there would still be cake and presents. We offered her all sorts of adventures and she chose a long drive to the Paleontology Centre, a fossil dig and overnight camping in a real campground. She was VIBRATING WITH EXCITEMENT and counting down the days to her birthday adventure. We decided to make it a "Dadeline" (Daddy and Adeline) trip as it just didn't seem toddler-friendly and I think I had my lifetime fill of tent camping as a child.
I think the tenting may have been Adeline's favourite part...
The museum was awesome as well, especially since Adeline has decided that she wants to be a Paleontologist when she grows up. They have a full Elasmasaur skeleton, which was found by a young girl and her Dad nearby. I made the mistake of excitedly saying "Wow, Adeline, they have a fossil of your favourite dinosaur there" to have her look incredibly disappointed in me, sigh deeply and then say "Moooooooom, an Elasmasaur is a prehistoric marine reptile, NOT a dinosaur. Do you get it?". I guess the days of Adeline believing I know everything are finally done...
Adeline loves to visit a well-stocked gift shop, especially when she's with her Daddy as he's a much softer touch than I am. Yes, that's a giant, orange and green stuffed Elasmasaur she's holding.
The fossil walk facilitated by the museum was a really special experience. It was a long and sweaty walk along the river, but everyone in the group found fossils. David and Adeline found fossilized clams and other small mollusks, petrified wood and a few parts of an ammonite. I think Adeline was hoping for at least a T-Rex, but she still had fun and learned a lot.
Adeline had a very memorable birthday weekend and she's looking forward to having an "almost sleepover" party with a couple of special friends in September. She reallllllllllllllllly wants to be ready for sleepovers, but she's totally not (and neither are we), so she wants to have a night time party where some friends come over in their pajamas for pizza and ice cream and a movie and lots of silly fun and then go home before bedtime. Sounds like a fun plan!
Happy Birthday, future Paleontologist!
It's been a few days since we got home from our annual beach vacation/adoption reunion and I'm still not ready to face reality. As always it was a great trip - the beach, swimming, sandcastles, kites, watching my little ones play on the same playground equipment I played on as a kid, the water park, the farm and the wildlife recovery centre, watching the sunset as the kids played and played and played. No campfires this year as there is a total fire ban because of our incredibly dry weather, but we still managed to make s'mores happen. We had a bigger group this year which only made it more fun for Adeline, although she does still have a very special bond with her "first friend" who she shared a crib with in Vietnam. I love watching that relationship develop as the girls get older and it's so special for Adeline to keep that bond that she had from when she was first born. We were able to make a couple of Vivian's fondest dreams come true - she got to pet and hug and take care of a bunny at the farm and she got to see owls up close at the wildlife recovery centre. No hugging of the owls though, which is what she really wanted. At the farm Adeline's tender wee heart just about burst with love for the chicks and it took all we had to convince her to leave their pen. We went a month later than we usually do and the weather was hot, but it was lovely and cool by the beach and the shallow water coming in over the warm sandy beach was incredibly warm. Vivian was absolutely delighted by the beach and she especially loved being in the water.
I don't want to be home with dirty dishes and that weird smell in the basement and eight hundred things on my to-do list. I want to be back at the beach. This time of year I always start fantasizing about moving there, but I know there are dishes, smells and lists when you live there and you can't be on holidays forever.
How many more days until our next trip?
Just a family celebration for Vivian this year. We started out the day with a waffle brunch. With strawberries and whipped cream, of course.
Here Vivian is working hard to show everybody that she's two. She kept saying "I'm a big girl! I'm TWO!".
Halfway through the day, Vivian got her first big girl haircut. She was extremely patient and she even interacted with our fabulous stylist a bit. The new 'do is taking some getting used to for me, and I still don't know if I should have just kept toughing it out and not gone for the bangs. Vivi does look adorable though, and with her super fine and wispy hair that is still filling in at the temples, I do think bangs were probably the right choice, right? She looks like a kid all of a sudden. Where's my baby gone?
After a nap, Vivian was ready for CAKE! She was an expert at blowing out candles. We had to do a few retakes because Vivi blew them out before they were even fully lit, and I wanted a classic "blowing out the candles" photo. No one minded - Vivian and Adeline took turns blowing them out again and again and then it was time to eat!
My tiny bit of crafting for this birthday was the hat. Vivi has a book about birthdays and she was really into the classic cone hats, so I thought I'd make her a special one for her big day. Nothing fancy, just card stock, fake flowers, glue and a bit of elastic. I expected her to wear it for approximately four seconds, but she kept it on for a lot of the day.
We had other birthday fun planned but the pool was out as Vivian is working through her second back-to-back ear infection and the forest fires are making the air quality terrible and the weather extremely hot and humid, so we just stayed in and Vivi and Adeline had a lot of silly sister fun together. Those two can sure make each other laugh!
Happy Birthday to my littlest big girl!
And the last moments before I break down and get Vivian a big girl haircut.
I just love this girl so much! She's so joyful most of the time, even though she's suffering with an ongoing ear infection.
All kids love to do this when they're taking off their dress, right? It's not just my kids who find it fascinating and hilarious, I hope.
Woohoo! Now I am fully aware that in roughly two weeks I'm likely going to be wishing for school to start again, but right now I'm super excited for the summer break and all the good things that are going to happen. Okay, I'm excited about our beach holiday, staying up late, fireworks, jumping on the trampoline, picnics, parks, bike riding, running in the sprinkler, eating raspberries from our garden, family movie nights, swimming, popsicles and all those things, but right now I'm most excited about not having to pack a lunch every evening!!!
Adeline LOVED kindergarten and she loved her teacher. She told me recently that Monday was her favourite day of the week. She told me "I like hanging out with you guys, but on Mondays I get to go back to school, so it's my favourite". I hope she always feels that way!
Saying goodbye to her current school was strange for me. I HAD to find something else for her as I knew it wasn't good for her spirit, her heart or her brain and I was thrilled when she got into the private school of our choice, but now I'm feeling quite nostalgic about her kindergarten. It certainly wasn't all bad, her teacher was wonderful and Adeline learned many things. Her teacher, as well as lots of other staff members from her school, are moving on this year, so I think I'm not the only one who realized that things just weren't right there. It's a bad combination of a government who has stripped education to the bare bones and a demographic of children and families who could use a higher than average level of support all adding up to a very stressful environment where most children are not able to meet their potential whether they're a bright kid like Adeline who is held back or a child with extra needs who struggles and gets no help. But still...I was a touch misty saying goodbye to kindergarten. I guess it's the known versus the unknown and just another milestone in my girl's growing up.
Adeline was just plain sad on the last day of school, but she is excited to be in Grade One and she's excited about her move to her new school. Hopefully we can distract her with summer fun and she won't miss school too much!
A few weeks ago Adeline performed in the spring violin concert. Yes, it was long enough ago that it was called the "spring concert" even though we're well into summer here already. Adeline played with the group for almost an hour as she went far back into her repertoire to play her very easiest songs like "Hot Cross Buns" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to give back up to the beginners and she played the harder songs like a series of Bach Minuets and some fiddle tunes with her class. She also played the songs she learned for the music festival as solos. Since the concert Adeline has graduated to Book Two and this was a very big deal to her. She is eager to practice every day and she also plays on her own just for fun or to work through some challenging passages and we have been busking downtown a few times because Adeline loves to have an audience and she likes to go get ice cream with the money she makes. She is whipping through Book Two, learning a new song every week or two and I know that she will have a big jump forward this summer as she always plays a lot more in the summer because we have lots of unstructured time, she's much less tired than she is during the school year and her violin is always out so she can pick it up and play. Even on school days she usually picks up her violin and plays through her current piece a few times first thing in the morning - it's a lovely way for all of us to wake up and then if we're home she'll go back to it throughout the day. Adeline even uses her violin to help regulate her feelings. She was watching "Magic School Bus" and I heard her start to play her violin. She told me there was a "scary skeleton part" so she played Musette, which she says is the prettiest song she knows so that the scary feelings would go away, and it worked. Adeline may not end up a professional musician, but she is getting so much from learning the violin. I'm glad she talked us into it!
There is a video of some of the highlights of the performance. It's rather long as I just couldn't decide which of her new pieces to leave out!
Wowza...Time is FLYING. Seriously. This year has gone by in a WHOOSH. I can't believe that Vivian is standing on the doorstep of two and has been home for more than a year. She is so delightful lately. Mostly extremely happy and singing and laughing through her day. Here's a snapshot of where our sweet littlest is right now...
Toddlers are so fun! Crazy and exhausting and totally illogical and mess-making-machines, but the fun makes all those other things seem so less important. When we're having a less than magical day and the house is a total disaster and we're having scrambled eggs and toast for dinner yet again, I remind myself that in the not too distant future we will have teenagers and a tidy house. I hope we'll still laugh every day and love each other fiercely, but I know I'll miss my little girls.
We went to a Fun Fair at Adeline's new school. There was a photo booth with tons of costumes. Adeline dug through all the fairy wings, princess dresses and cute animal costumes to find something that really spoke to her soul...
No, Adeline has never seen "Star Wars" and probably won't for a long time to come as she's very sensitive about "meanness" in movies. But there's just something about Darth Vader...