Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Devastated

I don't even know where to begin.

I am devastated with the results of yesterday's U.S. presidential election. I have been trying to wrap my head around the fact that Trump was able to win the nomination for months, and now to try to figure out how he was elected... I don't even want to go there. I don't want to acknowledge that there is such a deep level of ignorance, hate and fear that someone like Trump can garner support from nearly half of the voting citizens in the country.

I've been criticized (by Republican "friends") for caring about the results of an election in a country I am not a citizen of. But I wonder how anyone could not care about the results of this election. America's actions impact the world. It is Canada's biggest ally. Our biggest trading partner. Our cultures are intertwined. On a more personal note, half my family is American. My children may one day become American citizens. I travel with my family to the U.S. often. Of course I care about the results of the election.

I believe that as human beings we are all linked. That we are accountable to one another and should do what we can to support each other. That positive connections foster more positive connections and that negativity does the same. I fear the divisiveness that this election has brought to the surface and the implications that blatant xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. will have on our society.

Tomorrow I will try to think about how to make things feel right again. Today I am in mourning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Kindergarten Kids

This post feels long overdue, but in a way not writing it until now might make it more relevant, having had the time to get settled into the routine of having both kids in kindergarten.

Can you believe it? BOTH our kids are in kindergarten.

Having turned five this calendar year, The Bean started Senior Kindergarten, and since she will be four before the year's end, Sprout started Junior Kindergarten. 23 months apart in age, but only one grade apart in school. And, since JK and SK kindergarten classes here are combined, we are the parents of both the oldest and youngest students in their class.

Sprout was (mostly) excited to be starting school. The Bean was playing it cool --asking why he couldn't be in Grade One since he'd already learned all the Kindergarten stuff last year.

This series of photos from the first day cracks me up. I gave them the props and asked them to stand against the wall, but the poses were just them doing their thing and they are so them.







Back in the spring, we requested that they be placed in the same class. It's something Jen and I spent a fair amount of time discussing. We agreed that we thought it would be best for both kids. Last year they both often said that they missed the other during the day. They get along most of the time, and while they like to be together, neither of them is reliant on the other.

It appears, so far, that things are working out the way that we had hoped. Aside from a few days with tears from Sprout in the second week of school, they both seem very happy this year. The teachers post photos on a private site during the day, and we can see that they're usually engaged individually, but will come together throughout the day. They seem to sit beside each other on the carpet fairly often and they've told us that they usually eat lunch together. The Bean helps Sprout open her containers and packages. <3 p="">
Our biggest concern with was that The Bean would try to micromanage Sprout, because, well, he does that from time to time, but it hasn't been an issue.

We're also happy that they both have the same teacher The Bean had last year. It's not that we don't like the other kindergarten teacher, but we know this teacher well and find her easy to communicate with. She seems to have a fairly relaxed approach and is playful with the kids. She also has two little boys of her own and seems to understand when I'm feeling a bit anxious, like on the first day, when texted her to check in on how the kids were doing.

Both kids have made several new friends and we've been enjoying spending time playing with them at the park after school. They also still see one of The Bean's best buddies from last year, who lives just down the street from us, fairly often. That little guy's mom and I get along quite well and we often have them over to play.

Sprout, in particular, is very tired at the end of the day and prone to tears (for one reason or another) when we're on our way home, but as I said, for the most part it's been a very positive experience for us all so far. Yay for Kindergarten!




And because I now have all this "free" time (not so much as I thought, as it turns out. Forgive me SAHMs who I have judged in the past!) I have taken on some volunteer work in the school. I sort of accidentally feel into the role of "Class Parent Coordinator" as well as Class Parent for the kids' class. In addition to that I am helping prepare food for the awesome snack program that the school runs and tomorrow I will be going in to talk to someone about joining the Volunteer Reading Program, helping kids who need a little extra one-on-one with their reading and literacy skills. Perhaps one day I'll write a little more about my days, but it's getting late and we're all at various stages of battling a fall cold, so I should probably head off to bed. There's no time to be sick!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thanksgiving

Today was Thanksgiving here in Canada. A holiday I enjoy, marking a season I enjoy even more. And this weekend was an absolutely perfect fall weekend. Sunny, crisp, leaves just starting to show their colours.

We spent Friday at the Zoo with one of the kids' new classmates and her Mama. They're also a two-mom  household. Their little girl and Sprout have become quite good friends in the past month, and I really enjoy chatting with L, who does most of the school pick ups and drop offs. I was a little worried The Bean would feel left out, not having his own friend there, but it was a non-issue; all three kids got along wonderfully. L and I laughed, because at the end of the day we really could have just taken them to a park. They spent more time climbing on rocks, playing with sticks, and jumping in leaf piles than they did looking at animals, but they were happy, which really was the main goal of spending the day out together.

 



 
Saturday started off a bit rainy and grey, but it cleared up by lunchtime and we were able to go to the apple farm, which is something we'd put off from last weekend when it was much to rainy to even consider going. We took a tractor ride out to the orchard and filled up a bag with apples, then headed back so the kids could play on the massive bales of hay. 







Our neighbours had us over for dinner that night. They are a lovely family with two girls, fairly close in age to our two kiddos. Our kids were overtired and bit more wild than I would have liked, but it was still a nice visit. I had an interesting conversation with the father, who is also an identical twin, but quite different from his brother. It feels good to know that there are other twins who aren't BFFs. (I haven't posted much about it here, but my sister and I have not been on speaking terms for nearly a year. I'm mostly okay with this as I am no longer willing to tolerate the was she was treating me or my family, but it can be hard to knowing that I'm/we're not meeting people's expectations in terms of what a twin relationship should look like.)

Sunday we had our usual running around --me tutoring in the morning followed by the kids' gymnastics lessons mid-day-- followed by getting ready for hosting Thanksgiving. It was our first time hosting a holiday. We got off pretty easy, as the only guest was my mom, but still, I was concerned about everything coming together. Jen managed the kids while I holed up in the kitchen. Everything turned out pretty much perfectly! The food was delicious and everything was on the table even before the time we're usually sitting down for dinner. I prepared turkey, stuffing, roasted potatoes and carrots, mashed sweet potato, and green beans, along with cranberry sauce and gravy. Oh, and pumpkin muffins for dessert! Yum! I'm looking forward to eating the leftovers this week.


Today was another gorgeous day. Just the four of us went to one of my favourite places in the city --The Brickworks. We did a walk through the quarry, along the railroad tracks, and then back to the Children's Garden for the kids to play. We could have stayed longer, I'm sure, but tomorrow we will have to get back to the regular routine, so it seemed best not to push it.

















There are more substantial things that I'd like to write about, but it's getting late. Fluffy surface level will have to do for now. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Season

This post has been in the works for literally months now. The summer was extremely busy, but I naively thought that I'd have all kinds of free time once both kids were in school. Turns out there's a lot to be done, even without the kids around. I hope to update on more of the recent-er stuff soon, but now flash back to July and August...

This summer was pretty fantastic. Completely exhausting most days, frustrating at times, but mostly lots and lots of fun.

We made a good dent in our Summer Bucket List. We didn't quite gotten to everything, but I think we've done a pretty good job. I envisioned writing several posts going into details on the different activities we've done, but that's not going to happen at this point. 

So, a quick recap and some photos to wrap up Summer 2016 so far...

The Two Moms to Be Summer Bucket List for 2016
1. Have a picnic on the front lawn. Bonus points for having friends join us.
We managed to have several picnics on our front lawn, and even a few with friends. There aren't many photos though because the above is what a picnic with a bunch of kids looks like. Haha! 

2. Paint rocks.
I think this is the second year I've put this on our list, and it's the second year that we haven't done it. We did however, do a similar art project that was pretty cool. We coloured shells we found at the beach with crayons and then baked them in the oven until the crayon melted. (It works even better to colour on the shells with crayon AFTER they've been baked, but that didn't seem as safe.)

3. Pick berries.



We went strawberry and raspberry picking with my mom in July. They were delicious, but neither kid would take a bite. They just don't like berries. Silly kids.

4. Grow vegetables in our front yard garden.
 
 I think we've harvested most of what we're going to get for the season, but I have to say, I'm pretty darn proud of how our little garden did! We got several small harvests of peas, which the kids usually ate before I could get them upstairs. Our beans and cucumbers also did well. We got one measly carrot and are just starting to get some broccoli now. Sprout's pumpkin vines totally took over, but there has only been one tiny pumpkin. Fortunately she's happy with HER one pumpkin. 

5. Plan a blogger meet-up. 
We actually met up with fellow bloggers a few times this summer, which was awesome! The above photo was taken at an impromptu meet-up at Family Pride. Many of us (not all pictured here) also got together at Riverdale Farm a few weeks later, which was a lot of fun. And, of course, there was Stacey and Angele's Annual Pride BBQ, but that's further down on the list. ;) 

6. Get the finishing touches on the kids' room done. 
I just got the last few (major) things done last week. I'm SOOOO happy to have it complete. I really like the way it's turned out. No photos yet, but I'll try to get some soon. 

7. Ride a roller coaster.
The kids got to ride several roller coasters this summer. The Bean LOVES them. Sprout, well, I think she likes them. She usually spends much of her time riding them snuggled into the armpit of the nearest adult, but would get on time and again. This summer we made it to both Centreville and Canada's Wonderland AND Grandma and Grandpa took the kids to Conneaut over Labour Day weekend. Lots of amusement park fun! (Photo is of the kids on the Frog Jumper, because I wasn't going to risk the camera trying to take a photo on a roller coaster!)

8. Brew sun tea using herbs we've grown.
All our herbs died before we got a chance to use them for much of anything. We did brew many pitchers of plain sun tea though.

9. Celebrate love.

In addition to Family Pride, we celebrated at Stacey and Angle's Annual BBQ which was AWESOME. Their daughter Riley planned a whole bunch of activities, which the kids just loved, in addition to swimming in their pool. Jen and I got to talk to many of the other families there, some that we had met before, and others that we met that day. 

We were supposed to attend two receptions this summer, but unfortunately the scheduling for one of them conflicted with our family vacation. The other, the reception of Jen's good friend who she has known since KINDERGARTEN, was over Labour Day weekend. They held a really fun, relaxed, picnic-style party just out back of Jen's parent's place. (It's actually the same place her parents threw us a reception many, many years ago.) It was so lovely to get to celebrate their marriage with them. They're both so smitten with each other and seem truly, truly happy. 

10. Go to the Farmer's Market.
We made it to a couple early on in the season. I do take pictures, I just can't find them.

11. Meet up with friends. Often.
 We did get to spend time with many of our friends, but summers are busy for everyone, and while we would have loved to coordinate more meet-ups, but it just didn't happen.

12. Collect shells at the beach.
See items 2 and 17. :)

13. Borrow books from the library.
We actually made it to the library far less often than I imagined we would. The weekly routine that we had during the school year was a bit lost over the summer. Most of our days were spent outside. We still went to the library often and read books a plenty. 

14. Be tourists in our own city.


I'd say we accomplished this. The library here will give out Museum and Art Passes, so we were able to get into some attractions that we might not have visited otherwise. The kids loved playing games from the "olden days" at Black Creek Pioneer Village (pictured above). 

15. Camp in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard --don't forget the s'mores!
Unfortunately we didn't get to this one. We had hoped to spend a week or two mid-summer at Grandma and Grandpa's, but they ended up having to go out West to watch the cousins. Next summer.

16. Listen to live music.
Surprisingly there was little live music enjoyed this summer. I did tune in to CBC for the "final" Tragically Hip show. It was quite emotional. Like so many other Canadians, I've grown up with their music. 

17. Take a family vacation.





Spending a week in Myrtle Beach was the highlight of the summer. The kids just LOVED it there. The place we stayed was right on the beach and also had several pools and splash pads on their grounds so we spent hours and hours in the water every day. Both kids became much more confident swimmers and The Bean REALLY took to boogie boarding. Not a surprise. They can't wait to go back again. 

18. Find some new splash pads to play at.

I think we only made it to one new splash pad, but we had lots of fun playing at ones we were familiar with and also just in our own front yard.

19. Go on at least two kid-free date nights with my wife.
We sorta'/kinda' managed this when we were in Myrtle Beach and had Grandma and Grandpa available for babysitting. (We did a LONG walk down the beach and drinks at a local place, and later in the week got out for some window shopping and ice cream.)

20. Bake a peach pie. 
Didn't happen. Turns out having one family member who can't eat wheat and another who can't eat dairy puts a damper on the whole pie-making thing. Probably for the best, though I'm sure Sprout and I would have enjoyed it. 

21. Donate toys, books and clothes that we're no longer using. 
Many bags have been dropped off at the donation bin near our house. Other have been passed along to friends and family. There's still a lot to go through, but I feel like we're putting a good dent in things. 

22. Go to the zoo.
We made it to the zoo several times. I love having a membership! This year the kids were able to walk around without the stroller and we explored some areas that we haven't spent much time at in the past. Of course, the zoomoblie, KidsZoo, the splash pad and the merry-go-round were also big draws.

23. Ride our bikes --try to get The Bean riding a two-wheeler with no training wheels.
This was almost a fail but then, on Labour Day, The Bean figured it out! We weren't even at home when it happened. Jen's parents had picked up a bike someone was getting rid of and The Bean wanted to practice riding it up and down the driveway. After a few tries with my running behind steadying him he got it! He's now able to zip up and down, turning on a dime and practicing various "stunts" like he's been doing it his whole life. 
Sprout also has graduated to a two-wheeler, but with training wheels on. She's surprisingly good on it, in a much more understated way than her brother, though I notice that she's also been trying out little stunts. Daredevils, the two of them.

24. Visit a new-to-us skateboarding park.
We managed to get to a few familiar skate parks, but no new ones. The Bean kept up with his lessons with the teenager from down the street. He's making slow, steady progress, which is good, but difficult for him, I think, as he wants to be able to do all kinds of tricks without having to master the basics first.

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So, I think that about covers the long overdue update. There were many other things we did, to be sure: A Gatorade and Art sale (They sold out! Entrepreneurial kids!), long hikes and playing in the woods, the consumption of copious amounts of frozen desserts, to name a few. It really was a wonderful summer with these two little loves.