Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas 2012

This year's Christmas was celebrated in two places for the Skehan-Riff clan. The first location was in our new home in Ottawa. Finally settled with about 95% of the boxes unpacked, it was important for us to start our family traditions in the house. After Siobhan and I had the chance to sneak out and see the Hobbit, Siobhan put together this awesome Christmas dinner with the full works, roasted chicken, potatoes, carrots in white sauce, gravy, brussel sprouts and broccoli.

Being really energized with Christmas cheer, the boys were singing a lot of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman at the dinner table.

After our lovely dinner, the boys had a bath, opened new pajamas from Nana and Papa and made up a nice plate of cookies, milk and vegetable scraps for Santa and his hard working reindeer.

Here are Siobhan and the boys in their new pajamas reading a Christmas story before heading to bed.

A picture of the living room after Santa dropped off his bounty of gifts.

Christmas morning was really nice, the boys actually stayed in bed for a while and we didn't come downstairs until after 7am. The boys enjoyed opening their presents and took time to play with each one. It didn't feel overwhelming and we managed to keep the number of presents down. Thank you to everyone for the wonderful pressies. Once we had a chance to eat some breakfast and tidy up, we packed up the car and headed to Montreal to celebrate Christmas with my parents and brother's family.

Not too sure what my Mom thought about the turkey at first but in a nutshell, I bought enough groceries two weeks previous to get a free turkey. Not thinking, I picked up one of the biggest ones at 22lbs (big enough that it didn't fit in our freezer). My Mom took it an did a great job turning it into a fab dinner, (plus a week's worth of leftovers inlcuding turkey sandwiches, turkey rissoles, turkey soups and turkey pot pie.) Here's a picture of the old bird (Ha!) (The turkey brand name was "Granny's" too)

This was a nice trip down memory lane when we walked into their house. My Mom & Dad set up the old card table just like it was when my cousins came over for Christmas dinner when I was young. And it didn't fall down.

Boxing day adventures didn't involve any shopping. The only queueing was on the toboggan run at Centennial Hill. We raced down the hill several times in various combinations. Here's Scott with the two young-uns.

Walking up for another run.

Brendan being skillfully driven down the hill by Dustin.

Brendan and Duncan trying to avoid hitting anyone (e.g. Siobhan)

I almost missed the train on this one. The sled was a bit too small. It'll be even smaller next year when we add two more kids to the toboggan bus.

And finally, my little Tiger, all smiles and thumbs up.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Self imposed snow day

The view looking west along our street at 7am.
 This is what we woke up to this morning! And it's now midday and the snow is still falling. We've been outside most of the morning with a break inside for hot chocolate and dry clothes. It isn't cold so the snow is wet, perfect for making a start on a front yard fort.
I had decided ages ago that the first proper snow fall would be a snow day (no school) for us regardless of whether or not school was cancelled. It turns out we likely would have skipped school today anyway as it's the last day before the holidays and the boys have been off since Tadhg was ill on Tuesday, but it's still special.

Good one of the house looking christmassy.
Steve went out to clear the driveway while we had breakfast (this is one element of our gendered culture you will not hear me complain about!) and then I dressed the boys and sent them out. I then set up a clothes drying area in front of the fire and had a nice quiet chat on skype with Bernadette before heading out to join them.

 Caitlin, Paddy and Phil, do you recognise the coat? This was the coat that mum bought when we first arrived in Labrador in 1987 and had to fully kit everyone out with winter gear before that first winter. After 7 years in Saudi Arabia I don't think we owned a single item of clothing useful for a northern winter. I clearly remember the shopping trip, including being frightened of a large stuffed black bear in the shop, and some of the clothes. I'm not sure why I've kept this coat so long but it's quite useful now being the only thing that will do up around my already large baby belly!

Brothers looking like twins here!

 Our house in it's winter coat.

Didn't really get any nice pics of the boys but I'm sure there will be plenty more opportunities for snowy photos during the long Ottawa winter!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Meteor Hunting

 Last night was the peak night for the Geminid meteor shower so we went off searching for a spot with clear sky. As you can see from the photos above and below we didn't really find it, but it was a great adventure anyway.
We went a good 40 minutes out of the city to a spot that a group of Ottawa Amateur Astronomers use. It was fairly dark but a thin layer of cloud reflected all the town lights back at us. The photo above was a 30 second exposure so we couldn't actually see that orange glow with our eyes, and we were at least able to see Orion, the Pleiades, a very bright Jupiter and Gemini, or at least the brightest stars of Gemini, one of which, Castor, is near the point where all Geminid meteors radiate from.

My count was just three, one of which was good long one. Not too disappointing. Steve thought he "maybe" saw one. The boys did a little sky watching and then spent an hour in the boot of the car drawing and chatting and playing happily. Steve and I did a little talking/dreaming about travel plans for next year, wondering whether we can make sure we're camping somewhere very dark for the Perseid meteor shower next August.

Brendan presented us with a pile of drawings after an hour or so, some space pictures and a pirate island map. He's also working on decorative, curly handwriting which he says is "special writing for christmas". 

Steve cleverly covered up the inside car lights with red paper in an attempt to avoid messing up our dark adapted vision, but we soon discovered that the car flashes its headlights on each time you open the driver's door! If we go to an astronomy gathering sometime we'll have to fit some sort of cover over the headlights :)

We ended the chilly night outside with a mug of hot chocolate and then headed home, both boys falling asleep in the car. Looking forward to next time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Learning to write

Every day brings something new. I can't believe how fast this can happen! I'm reminded of how I was a tad worried that he wasn't learning quick enough back in the spring. We visited our friends (Tippers) whose wee girl is about 8 months older than Brendan and I was blown away by how good her writing was. But here we are now, and it's happened virtually overnight.
Above are a couple of examples from a story writing book he was given by Nana and Papa on Tadhg's birthday. At school last week Brendan made a book by himself (a story with drawings about a gingerbread man) and when reading it to his kindergarten class wasn't "enough" for him, the Principal took him upstairs to a grade 6 and a grade 4 class where he stood up on a chair and read his story to the bigger kids. I got this news third hand and am not sure if she meant not challenging enough, not satisfying enough, not exciting enough, a bit of each? He was quite proud as he told us how they applauded and he "took questions" afterwards. Hopefully we'll get the book home this week so we can see it.

I'll write more about their school and its "alternative" philosophy sometime soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

gearing up for christmas

I think it has gone like this so far...
-boys started talking about christmas (waaayyyy to early- school's fault)
-brought up the basket of winter/christmas books
-first snowfall  (no control over but it certainly had a power over us! "It's winter!")
-posted letters (and presents!) to santa
-found a couple of christmas boxes
-put up lights outside
-bought some more lights
-made an advent calendar (finished very late on Dec 1st)
-moved furniture to make way for tree
-set up the christmas village
-found another christmas box
-chose, chopped down and decorated our tree
-found yet another christmas box
-made some more decorations
And that brings us to today.

 First snowfall and a spot of tree climbing.

 Brendan has been very prolific in the drawing department of late. We went through almost a whole roll of paper in a week. Good time for a lesson in thriftiness but he's not keen on using the other side. Can't blame him. More paper is on the christmas list.
 The tree expedition.
 Found a beautifully shaped tree which was spared the axe when we found a bird nest in it's branches.

 Taken by Tadhg.

 Also by Tadhg
 And taken by Brendan
 Time to warm up with hot chocolate, a fire and melty marshmallows.


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