Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Christmas and New Year's 2016

Wow, am I ever behind!  Christmas in May.  Better late than never, right?

Early on, in the month of December, Sophie had a Christmas concert at her school.  Too cute!  She was one of the few that was paying attention and doing all the actions to the songs.  She may have a career on stage; she really seems to love it.

Just before Christmas break started, Sophie hosted a small Christmas party for a few friends from school.  Of course, she would have invited the whole school if I had let her.  Tristan, Ashton, Ewan and his little sister, and Callie came over.  We had a gift exchange and decorated Christmas cookies.  But mostly they just had fun playing and tearing the house apart.

We celebrated Christmas at our place this year.  Nana, Papa and Aunt Janae were here to spend Christmas Eve with us.  The kids got to open one present, pyjamas, slippers and a stuffy (and a book for Hunter, he's so over stuffies!).

Christmas morning was chaos as usual.  There are always far too many presents.  Sophie got her very special pony, StarLily, which she had been asking Santa for since August.  Elise got a barbie pony horse set; Barbie and her three sisters and a horse for each.  Both big hits with the girls.  Hunter got a new cell phone.

Uncle Warren, Aunt Ave, Ally and Grace joined us Christmas day for a turkey dinner.

Finally, we had some friends over to celebrate New Year's.  Candice, Caiden and Aileen; Kelly, Jude and Jonah; and Denny, Chelsea, Emily and Logan were here to count down to 2016 with us (at 8pm).

To see all our December pics, click here.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Thanksgiving and Halloween 2015

This year, we travelled to Medicine Hat for Thanksgiving.  Nana had a special day planned for us while we were there.  We went horseback riding at Midnight's Trail.  Of course, the girls loved it.  The horses were saddled so that one of the girls had to ride with Nana.  Elise would have none of that, being the experienced rider that she is.  Sophie was very helpful and took the first ride with Nana; later, they switched so Sophie could ride by herself as well.  She can't wait for the day she gets to ride with no guide.

Halloween was lots of fun.  Sophie was a My Little Pony Equestrian Girl, and while Elise had initially picked out a fairy costume, she later decided she wanted to wear Sophie's Elsa costume from last year.  We started with a pumpkin hunt at the park by our house.  Our neighbour and good friend, Denny, hid the pumpkins beforehand.  Apparently, he wanted to prolong the hunt for as long as he could, so the pumpkins were very well hidden.  Moms and dads enjoyed some hot chocolate while providing helpful hints to the kids.  After our hunt, we went back to our place for some pizza before heading out to trick or treat.  Sophie and Emily ran from house to house and got almost all the way around the block.  This is a first since in previous years, we only visited a handful of houses before losing interest and wanting to get home to enjoy a few treats.  Elise and Logan were bored sooner, so Chelsea and I stopped at their place with the two little ones while the older ones continued on with their dads, then joined us later when they had had enough.

To see all the pics from the month of October, click here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

More Family Pics

I have always wanted family fall pictures.  I see them in other people's houses and they look great.  The colours, the leaves, the rosy cheeks, I wanted to capture all those things and put it up on our wall.  I tried to book fall pictures last year, and had to reschedule several times due to less than perfect weather, and then before I knew it, there was snow.  So after having to reschedule once, due to weather just hovering above zero, I decided I was going to get this done.  I rescheduled for an evening during the week, knowing that the following weekend we would be in Medicine Hat for Thanksgiving, and figured, after that who knew when I would be able to pull it off.  So on a Tuesday at 5 pm,  we headed to Edworthy Park to take our pics.  Despite the time of day, the chilly weather (and the girls in dresses), the hunger (it was dinner time and I ran out of snacks before we even got there), we managed to get some pretty good pics.

To see a few more, click here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our Summer Adventures 2015

It was a busy and exciting summer.  With 8 camping trips, several day trips to the mountains, and Sophie's first experience with day camp at Butterfield Acres, it may have been one of our funnest summers yet.  We also spent plenty of time jumping through the sprinkler in the backyard, playing with friends, and visiting Calaway, Heritage, Bowness and Edworthy Park, as well as Butterfield Acres and Spark.  Sophie also mastered the monkey bars.  What a great summer!

At the beginning of the summer, Sophie attended her first day camp.  She had a week long half-day camp at Butterfield Acres.  She got to feed and hold the farm animals, play games, go on tractor rides and so much more.  She had a great time.  At the end of the week, they sang a song on the Hoe Down stage.  After it was over, there were tears because she said she didn't want it to end.  Luckily, we have season passes and could go anytime during the summer.  

Our first camping trip was at the end of May, Nat and Rob's annual anniversary trip to Bow Valley Campground.  A few weeks later, we went to Mount Kidd with Nana and Papa.  This was a particularly special trip because while camping, we visited a nearby ranch and the girls went on their first horse back ride.  Very exciting!  We also did a trip with Mamie, Pepere and Uncle Julien at Tall Timber.  We spent our time swimming in the indoor pool, catching tadpoles in the Red Deer River and crafting up a storm.  We brought our tadpoles home and watched them turn into frogs.  Very educational!  Our other camping trips were with; Nana, Papa, Uncle Warren, Aunt Ave, Ally, and Grace (Lake Newell); our good friends Scott, Lori, Nixon, and Leland (Mount Kidd); and Uncle Dan, Aunt Tina, Madeleine and Vincent (Ol' MacDonald).  Our last trip was just a couple weekends ago with our good friends Denny, Chelsea, Emily and Logan (Tall Timber).  We roasted plenty of marshmallows, did tons of crafts, made magic potions, went on walks, even a couple of hikes, went swimming, as well as enjoyed the company of our friends and family.

This summer, we also invested in some kayaks.  So much fun.  We made several trips to Barrier Lake; we packed a picnic, some sand toys, the kayaks and headed there for the day.  Sophie really enjoys going for a paddle, while Elise prefers to stay on shore for now.  Our hope is that the girls will learn to love it as much as Ryan and I some day.

Another fun thing we did this summer, catch lots of bugs! Many ladybugs, some spiders, plenty of ants and a grasshopper.  In the spring, we were given some caterpillars, which we cared for until they turned into butterflies.  Very interesting and educational.  We also caught some tadpoles on our camping trip with Mamie and Pepere.  We brought some home and watched them turn into frogs.  Sophie really enjoyed checking in on them everyday and really struggled with our rule of no touching, just looking.  She could have cuddled those frogs to death (why we insisted on that rule).  So even with two girls, tiny creatures have been a big hit.  Who knows what we will catch next year?

To see more pics from our summer, click here, here and here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Arizona 2015

This month, we went on another family trip to Arizona.  We have gone every year since Sophie was born and this trip was the best yet.  The weather was perfect, Ryan's parents were there to participate in many of our activities and we even got to spend some time with Aunt Janae.

Our flight to Arizona went well.  We had an afternoon flight so I was concerned about Elise missing her nap but she was a trooper.  Both girls were.  By the time we got to Arizona, got our rental car, found our condo (which was a bit of a challenge, it was dark, we went to the wrong place, etc.) and settled in, it was late.  Lucky for us, Nana and Papa met us there with some groceries and dinner.  It was almost 10 pm before both girls fell asleep.

Our first day at the beach

The next day, after a bit of a sleep in, we headed to the pool around 10 am.  It was probably the chilliest day of the week so the girls weren't super excited about getting too wet.  They did get in the pool though, so that made Dad happy.  We went back to the condo for lunch, and then Elise went for a nap, the one and only nap she would take our entire trip (and no napping since we have been home either).  Sophie, Nana and I decided to head to Butterfly Wonderland for the afternoon.  Sophie had a great time.  She really enjoyed the 3D movie about butterflies.  She associates theatres with scary movies (the only theatre she has been in is at Calaway Park where they play short animated films, we went once and after an intense 3D roller coaster scene, she decided she wasn't quite ready for the theatre yet), so she kept turning to me to say, "Mom, this isn't even scary!" After the movie, we went into the atrium where we saw hundreds and hundreds of butterflies.  They were beautiful.  My budding photographer had a great time taking pictures of the many colourful butterflies.  One even landed on Nana's shirt, which is considered very good luck.  A great first afternoon in Arizona.

Sophie at Butterfly Wonderland

We went to the Creative Kid's Museum the following day.  This is the same children's museum we visited last year and Sophie continued to talk about for months afterwards.  She insisted we go back since she had had so much fun there the year before.  Again, the three levels of fun and interactive play kept the girls well entertained for hours.  We packed a lunch and stayed until around two.  We thought, for sure, after all that stimulation, Elise would fall asleep in the car on the way back, but she didn't.  So after a snack and some down time at the condo, we called Nana and Papa to meet us at the pool.  The girls were more comfortable with the water (and the temperature) and Sophie really enjoyed swimming with her dad.  She even made some friends at the pool.  We met a family with two girls, Ally, 4, and Malia, 5, who was also vacationing from Calgary.

Playing at the Creative Kid's Museum

Saturday, Ryan and Papa took the girls to the Riparian Preserve so that Nana and I could go shopping.  I can't remember the last time I went shopping sans kids.  I would say probably around 4 years ago.  It was awesome.  We planned to make one stop at a large department store, then head to a mall; however, we never made it past Kohl's.  I found some great stuff for me and the girls, even a t-shirt for Ryan and a swimsuit for Hunter.  All in all, a very successful shopping trip.  My credit card would agree with me as well.  Sounds like the girls had a lot of fun at the park that morning as well.  Who had more fun?  Hard to say...  Of course, after lunch and some quiet time at the condo, we made our way to the pool.

With each day, the weather got warmer, which made our pool trips more and more enjoyable.  Sophie was making some serious progress with swim lessons from her dad (who in his younger days was a lifeguard and swim instructor so he was back in his element and loving it).  She also spent some time playing with Ally and Malia in the pool.  While this was going on, I was busy chasing Elise.  Once in a while, she would stop and have a quick swim, but it didn't last long before she would jump out of the pool to explore her surroundings.  Next to the pool is a man made beach and park.  We would wander over there to check out what was going on.  There are also pathways that lead to behind the waterfall.  The landscape is so beautiful, they hold weddings there.  So while Ryan and Sophie swam up a storm, Elise and I did laps of the property.

Riparian Preserve

We went to Golfland on Sunday morning.  We started with a game of mini golf which may have been a bit too long and challenging for the girls.  It began well enough but after Elise threw a few golf balls into the pond, Ryan decided to take her to the play structure so Sophie and I could finish the game.  Sophie has a competitive nature (I have no idea where that comes from) so she refused to pick the ball up and take it through certain holes that were quite challenging.  Instead she would try again and again, to the point of frustration and even a few tears.  It got a little hard to watch, however, she did finish the 18 holes.  We didn't stay long afterwards, the play structure was in rough and dirty shape.  Plus, the splash pad they had mentioned on the website was a mere ducky slide that slid onto a very small pad.  Not sure if the pad sprayed water when you landed on it or not, but it wasn't worth the trouble of getting the girls into swimsuits to find out.  We went home for lunch and quiet time.  Later, Nana and Papa met us at the pool.

Mini golf at Golfland while Elise was still interested

Monday we went to the Phoenix Zoo with Nana and Papa.  Most of our time was spent at in the farm area, which is really geared towards young kids.  There was a petting zoo, where they handed out brushes for the goats, a fake cow the kids could try milking, tractors to sit on, an indoor play place (which we mostly enjoyed for its air conditioning), and a farm themed park.  We did wander through the zoo to see the famous zoo animals, lions, tigers, zebras, and some others of course.  There was also a splash pad that Elise enjoyed for a few minutes and a carousel that was a hit with both girls.  The day ended, of course, with a swim at the pool.  Then Papa, Nana and Aunt Janae came over with dinner from Nando's, a Mexican take out restaurant we have also enjoyed on previous trips. Yum!

Milking the cow at the Phoenix Zoo

Tuesday was our last day so we decided to take it easy before our long travel home.  We went to a local park that morning with Nana and Papa.  The girls played for a bit and then we headed to the pond nearby to watch the ducks.  After lunch, we went to the pool for a swim, then headed back to Nana, Papa and Aunt Janae's for our last dinner in Arizona.

Enjoying the pool

It was a great trip and we enjoyed sharing it with family.  It was so helpful having Nana and Papa around that we hope they will join us again next year.  To see more pics of our vacation, click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday Elise!

On March 11th, Elise turned two years old.  I know...hard to believe.  Usually, when Sophie is at school, Elise and I run errands.  The fact is, it is much easier to grocery shop with one child than with two. No pushing each other in the cart, no fighting about who gets to stand and hold on to the end.  However, I just couldn't drag Elise on another errand for her big day, so I made plans to meet Lori down at Bowness Park.  I think we all would have been happier at the grocery store.  It was freezing!  We lasted all of an hour before leaving, due to chilly fingers and an unhappy toddler.  Sorry Elise!  Later that day, when Dad came home from work, Elise opened a gift and we had a small celebration for her.

The following weekend, we threw Elise a princess birthday party at home with some close friends of ours.  Sarrah, Ryan, Scarlett and Finn; Candice, Mike, Caiden and Aileen; Chelsea, Emily and Logan; and Lori, Scott, Nixon and Leland all joined us in celebrating Elise's special day.  We served hamburger and hotdogs for lunch and, of course, had cupcakes for dessert.  She had a great time.  She didn't really realize the party was for her until we sang happy birthday and she got to blow out the candles.  After that, she went straight for the pile of gifts that had been there all morning, and started opening them.  Too cute!  Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!  We love you so much!

The day after Elise's birthday party, we had some special visitors.  Uncle Jordan, Aunt Cyd, Gus and Redford came to spend a couple nights with us.  Gus, Sophie and Elise had so much fun together; we hardly saw them, they were so busy playing.  I can't wait until Redford is old enough to join the herd.

To see more pics from the month of March, click here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sophie's 4th Birthday

I can't believe that Sophie is 4 already!  Her birthday was on a Wednesday and like every Wednesday, she went to preschool.  However, this was an extra special day because it was her snack day, which meant that not only was she leader all morning, but I also got to volunteer in her classroom.  So after I dropped Elise off at Sarrah's house (a first for Elise, being dropped off somewhere), we headed to Sophie's school.  I got to see her daily school routine and participate in all the listening, learning, singing and dancing.  I also got to help with snack and craft time.  Sophie decided her classmates should have a choice for snack time so we made princess/pony sugar cookies and cupcakes.  It was a lovely morning and I am so glad I got to spend that special time with Sophie.  It also made me realize just how much I miss being a teacher!
Celebrating Chinese New Year at school
Later that day, we gave her our birthday present, which she loved!

On the weekend, we had a birthday party for Sophie at Vecova.  She wanted a My Little Pony birthday party this year.  Her good friends, Sarrah, Scarlett and Finn, Candice, Caiden and Aileen, Denny, Chelsea, Emily and Logan, Nike and Dara, Dennis and Alyssa, Kelly, Jude and Jonah, Sana, Aunty Nat and Uncle Rob, all came to celebrate Sophie's 4th birthday.  We spent an hour playing in the gym, then headed to the birthday room for snacks, cake, cupcakes and cookies (because our friends need options!).  Then Sophie got to open the mountain of gifts she was generously given.  There was a great variety of crafts, games and farm animals for her new barn.  It is so nice to have such wonderful and amazing friends!

Pony Princess!
Check out that cake!  More than just a pretty face (as my husband would say).

We also had several visitors come by over the past couple weeks, bringing birthday wishes for the girls.  The weekend before Sophie's birthday Mamie and Pepere came to visit, the weekend after her party, Uncle Dan, Aunt Tina, Madeleine and Vincent came, and just last weekend, Nana and Papa came to stay with us for a night.  We love having family come visit!

Great tool set!  Thanks Mamie and Pepere!
Check out the matching Frozen shirts!  Thanks Aunty Tina!
Touching moment with Papa, walking at Bowness Park
To see more pics from the last few months, click here and here.