Thursday, December 31, 2009

Boys & Trains

Today Brendan and I had a 'Boys Day Out'. Although I came up with the idea, Brendan was really excited about going on a real steam train. So we headed off to the North York Moors Railway in Pickering for a return ride up to Goathland.

On the way out, we were pulled by an old diesel-electric engine. This is Brendan getting excited once the conductor started blowing his whistle.

Once we got to Goathland, I asked if any steam trains where running and there was. This is B killing time on the platform.

This is a picture of 45212 LMS Class 5 4-6-0 pulling into the station at Goathland. The smile on B's face was priceless.

Here are two pictures of us in front of 45212 and on the footplate before heading back on the old steamy. Brendan was fascinated by the hot glow of the burning coal in the firebox.

Quick history lesson just because. LMS Class 5 4-6-0 was a steam locomotive designed by the London Midland and Scottish Railway. It was also known as the Black Five. A total of 842 were built between 1934-51 of which eighteen have been preserved.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas from Montreal

We spent a lovely Christmas with Steve's parents in Montreal. We arrived on the 22nd and had a couple of days to hang out and play with Granny and Grandad and the cousins before the big day. So here a few pictures taken on Christmas eve of the boys in their new pjs from Granny.

Sorry this is the wrong way up but I love this picture of Duncan- look at those gorgeous eyes!

Christmas Day in the Riff household starts with stockings in bedrooms followed by a wait at the top of the stairs until Granny rings a wee bell. Tadhg, as you can see, wasn't really into the waiting part.Here's the living room as it looked as we came downstairs. Again, sorry, if I was at home I'd make this a little less orange, but you get the gist... super Christmassy and cozy.

Here are the boys' Santa presents. A marble run for Brendan and...

...a rocking giraffe for Tadhg. Both were appreciated but the marble run had to have been the biggest hit overall. We'd recommend it to any almost-three-year-old.
After opening some presents, the cousins came over then we all went over to their house for a yummy big breakfast with Shannon's family too. After that, Steve, Tadhg and I went for a walk while Brendan slept, we got hold of all my siblings and Uncle Phil on Skype and then we all had Christmas Dinner together and watched a movie.
Last photo for now of Tadhg lying on our new carpet from Ikea. We've been coveting this for a while now- it will most likely live in the boys' bedroom for the time being. A soft landing on the floor should Brendan fall off the top bunk :)

We have more photos which will go in the web album. All in all a wonderful few days despite sickness and tiredness and some very energetic and mischievous boys!

The evening we arrived Tadhg had a tummy bug (thank goodness it didn't strike a few hours earlier during the nightmare car journey- it took 13 hours to get there in stormy and icy conditions). Over the next few days we all caught the same bug but we were lucky with the timing again. We were due to fly out on Saturday afternoon and Brendan was throwing up in the middle of the night so was all back to normal by the time we headed for the airport. Fortune smiled on us that day (although he did then manage to poo in his pyjamas just as boarding began for the long flight. By the time we got out of the bathroom we were just about the last to board and the staff were a little impatient with everyone. There were only minor delays, one due to the plane having to return to the gate after we had started taxiing to eject a passenger who was "a little too full of the holiday spirit" as the captain put it. Not to worry... the rest of the flight was uneventful and the boys slept well.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas spirit

A few pics from around and about the house and outside... feeling the festive spirit.

Look closely... yes, that is Tadhg sitting in a drawer.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

backyard birds

We now have four bird feeders right outside the back door. We added a milk carton feeder and this hanging thing Steve made. I have put seed on this thing at least twice a day since the snow stayed last week and we've had lots of little visitors.
Many chickadees, the most I've seen at once is about 8.
We also see a pair of blue jays and a pair of downy woodpeckers.

The male woodpecker and one of the blue jays (male?) have done this a couple of times. They seem to sit there looking in at me and waiting for some tasty treats to be brought out. They are seriously beautiful. When our housesitter is in we'll ask her to feed them regularly to keep them coming. They boys love to watch them, especially Tadhg.

A baking day

We tried out a few cookie recipes for our christmas baking. We made orange and raisin cookies, chocolate chip and some sugar cookies. Brendan did a great job of decorating the sugar cookies but of course he had to try everything. I was surprised he wasn't sick.
Here he is checking out the results. I said smile and this was what I got!

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In the afternoon we went out to walk off some of the sugar, but it was a little late by the time we finished up the baking and got kitted up in all our winter gear (I hate these temperatures) so Brendan was exhausted. He didn't want to go in the buggy but wouldn't walk either. We got to the end of the road and had to turn back. Nevermind, it was enough fresh air to help everyone have a good nap, me included.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Birthday

Happy Birthday! Steve had a late start so we had a cooked breakfast under the birthday banner and gave him our homemade gifts- a drawing from Brendan for Daddy's office wall (Steve's request) and a recycled sweater hat from me.
Steve then had a busy day at work and went flying while we stayed in and did lots of baking and went for a walk in the snow.
When Steve came in in the evening, Brendan gave away the surprise and said "Daddy, we made you birthday cakes!" So we had a nice supper and then lit and blew out the birthday candles about twenty times.

Then some more playing before bed. Here's a couple of photos of the aeroplane that Steve made out of a huge box he brought home yesterday.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Little kids

We're in the park and there are some workmen laying pipes over in the far corner of the field. Brendan spots a mini excavator and just about explodes with excitement. So we trundle over through the deep snow and get within about 20 feet of a wee digger filling in a trench. It's near the end of the day so we watch two men each drive a different digger out of the trees and over to an open bit of ground. We follow and Brendan just stares open mouthed. He asks me a hundred times "what are they doing mummy?" Eventually as the two men are knocking the mud out of the tracks Brendan engages them in conversation... all on his own, as if he is one of the lads and I'm not even there.
"Guys, are you digging a hole?" (They manage a simple but friendly 'yes'. Undeterred he says...
"Guys, look at that plane over there!"
"Hey guys, be careful!"
And as we are walking away he looks over his shoulder at them and yells "Keep working!"

Oh so gorgeous. Earlier in the day we were walking along the street in town and two strangers were parting ways on a corner as we passed. They say goodbye to each other and Brendan shouts, "Bye guys, we're going to the Happy Baker."

I love that uninhibited friendliness that little kids have. Long may it last.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One Trip around the Sun

Tadhg waiting for the candle to come a little closer so he can reach out and touch it. Daddy, Sam (our super babysitter and friend) and Mya looking on.
Here he is playing with his new ball from mummy with a jingly bell inside. He was also given a small set of tree blocks that his daddy made and a treasure basket that Brendan helped me to fill (more on those another day).
We were joined for a birthday supper by some friends. The older ones had a good time basically running around in top gear. The only slightly peaceful period was when they ate their macaroni cheese and we sang to Tadhg. I'm thinking I might try to do some sort of calming thing if we have a party for Brendan's birthday. If I can get my act together I might write a story and tell it to them at the party.

Some thoughts on birthday celebrations...
As we find our feet as a family we've been talking about the kinds of traditions we want to go forward with. The most important parts of birthday celebrations are the wishes first thing in the morning, the phonecalls from distant family, eating a special meal together or with friends and, of course, a cake. When it comes to presents, I love that Tadhg received only a small number of very thoughtful presents. Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes and gifts. What an incredible first year.

Tadhg, you are loved beyond belief and are very lucky to have such wonderful friends and the best family in the world. One trip around the sun and so much has happened. Here's to a second year that's equally exciting and filled with love and fun and learning.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

friends, painting, nature walks, and ice skates

Had a busy week despite not going out much. On both Tuesday and Thursday we had some friends round to paint salt dough decorations and make wrapping paper. All the two year olds we know are girls and seem to be more interested in painting than Brendan is :) We mulled apple cider (non-alcoholic in Canada) and made fresh bread, flapjacks and strawberry kiwi jam to share.
On Wednesday we went for a long walk to the park and the woods and collected lots of treasures for our nature table. Tadhg slept most of the time and Brendan was most interested in rocks and sticks but we also found a birds' nest, some bark covered in lichens and some withering plants with different kinds of flower heads and seeds. The nest was technically still in the tree but it was dangling from a small branch by a bit of plastic that the bird had woven into it. I was pretty sure it wouldn't stay there for long and certainly wouldn't survive the winter so I thought it was okay to take it.

We gathered some evergreen boughs from the woods for making wreaths and decorating a bit and we also discovered that the city is putting in an ice rink in the park right at the end of our street. We went skating the other day but we're looking forward to Brendan having a go himself. We just need to find some second hand skates in his size.