Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve 2007

'Twas a sleepless night for us as the kids had trouble settling in an unfamiliar place and ended up in our bed with us. And many of us have a variety of illnesses and ailments, namely runny noses and sore throats.

The morning was spent with the kids playing with toys and watching some TV together while the grown-ups took turns napping and showering. The all-day eating of snacks and appetizers began with "lunch" and a tobogganing expedition by Rei and Kai was cut short by cold weather and the presence of a dog.

For the New Year's Eve festivities, we watched an HBO concert of The Flight of the Conchords, and some internet video clips (that sounds sleazier than it was: some old favourites like "badgerbadger" and "numa numa"; Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice"; conservative Christian spoof "Baby got Book"; and some Homestar Runner).

Once the kids were to bed, Shelley left to nap with Kai, and a game of Settlers happened. We rang in the New Year while listening to Sean Cullen on CBC and that was our wild and crazy night. I did open another of Keizo's Christmas gifts to me tonight. Fuller's Vintage Ale bottle number 13374 (of 150 000) is no longer with us. Happy 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas 2007, Part 5

For the most part, the trip to Kingston went well. The roads were clear and traffic was light; the kids did well to make it through Toronto before an extended stop at a McDonald's Play Place to burn off some energy. The plan was then for Kai to nap the rest of the way, but he chose to exercise his toddler veto. So everyone was a little punchy for the last hour-and-a-half of the trip, for different reasons; we were glad to arrive at Jeffy & Cheryl's.

The reunion of all the kids met everyone's high expectations. There was lots of joy and energetic celebration, giggling and co-operative play. It was the kind of interaction that we parents had envisioned for our children many years ago.

A yummy supper of salmon and sweet potato fries preceded gift giving where the children delighted in ripping wrapping and excited "thank you!"s. After bathtime and playtime and getting the kids to bed, if not to sleep, Shelley and I played a couple rounds of Blokus with Jeffy, which we received as a gift.

Then we were introduced to the British "gameshow" QI hosted by Stephen Fry, better known in our household as the narrator for Pocoyo.

It was a full day of travel, friends, food and fun. Our Christmas circuit for the year is now complete.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anticipation and Preparation

For the past 7 years, we've gotten together with Jeffy and Cheryl for New Year's Eve (with the exception of the time they were in New Zealand and we were not). This year is no exception as we prepare to travel to Kingston for a few days, leaving tomorrow.

Clothes were set aside, and we packed books and toys for the car ride. I was at Wal-Mart getting some provisions for the trip (and to return a defective Christmas present) where I saw 5 people connected to the church in Arkona and one from Glencoe. In fact, as I was checking out I saw at a register further ahead, an Arkona couple in line ahead of the Glencoe person, but I was too far away to catch up or say anything. I guess that's the place to be seen on a Saturday afternoon.

Reiko and Kai are very excited about the prospect of seeing their friends, and so are we. The six hours in the car to get there is another matter.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gender Separation

Shelley went over the border for some shopping and Olive Garden to commemorate Sister Day, topped off with a sleepover at Shauna's apartment. Rei was quite excited to be included in the festivities tonight, leaving me with Kai at the house.

Boys' Night was bath and some Treehouse before settling Kai to bed. Which left me with a vacation evening alone with a couple movies: "Howl's Moving Castle", which would have been better had the DVD not been skipping so much; and "The Manchurian Candidate" (2004), which would have been better had ... well, there's too much to suggest really.

There was also some chicken wings from the crockpot and a basketball game; so in the end, I was happy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sculpture and Painting

With help from the boy next door and his dad, the kids and I took advantage of the available snow and the milder weather:
Snow family

Afterwards, it was more artistic activity as some piggy banks were painted:
Piggy bank painting

Yes, the kids are feeling better today.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Frat Boy Forever

Keizo's Christmas gift to me is now magnetically mounted on the fridge. I love that it's classically quirky in the Steam Whistle vein of retro.
frat gifts
But it is admittedly "frat boy chic" that doesn't quite match the young family vibe of our domicile. Still, it suits me fine; thanks, bro!

Christmas 2007, Part 4

Maybe it's the Boxing Day Blues, but the kids were out of sorts today. Granted, we've had a series of late nights and departures from the usual routine.

On the way through the fog towards Shelley's grandmother's apartment in Exeter, Rei complained of a headache while both kids were generally cranky. For the most part, Reiko didn't eat much and lay down on the couch or great-grandma's bed. It felt like she had a bit of a temperature, so I went to the drugstore for some acetaminophen. Stopping also to get gas, I instructed a fellow consumer on the rudimentary points of pumping one's own petrol, a concept that a was clearly foreign to him.

Rei perked up a bit after her dosage and Kai eventually napped on great-grandma's bed. Our visit wasn't the best, but still the opportunity to create memories for the kids and spend time with family was not wasted. Once home, and still stuffed full of poultry and fixings, we had a small supper and early bath and bed time. Here's hoping for happier kids tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007, Part 3b

Much ado about everything at the farm, as the kids were excited and excitable, interacting with their uncles and aunt and grandparents. This was the year the children were old enough to appreciate the specialness of Christmas and familiar enough with their relatives to be engaging and, as usual, entertaining.

The kids were abundantly gifted with toys and clothes and treats. We'll have to make room for the Cars cars and Princess Belle, ponies and a Transformers potato head, walkie-talkie headsets and puppet theatre that were so generously given.

farm xmas 2007
Kai is styling in his new Christmas sweater, and while Rei is not playing with the gift boxes, she does have affinity for cushions.

Christmas 2007, Part 3a

The kids slept later than usual (if you ignore Kai waking up at 3 and coming to our bed for the rest of the night); apparently, the full-paced days have wore out Christmas morning anticipation.

Despite Kai's expression, he really is happy to have a pony of his own:
xmas 2007 morning
He also is also enjoying his coffee maker, cash register, safari animals and Diego big-boy underwear.

Reiko is happy to have a watch of her own, a new doll, Hello Kitty stationary, and Princess days-of-the-week underwear.

Soon, we'll off to the farm to fill up on turkey for Christmas 2007, part 3b.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Guitar Hero

Apparently, Kai's experience of The Swell worship service made quite an impression on him. He was asking Shelley if there would be guitars at church today. I'm sure he was also looking for a big screen for visual effects.

Upon my return home, after working at the office through the afternoon, he greeted me with some more stories about the "mans" with the "guiTARRR", talking about straps and showing off his own musical showmanship:

And kicking into some more energetic shredding:
guitar hero

I blame Pat Morrison.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas 2007, Part 2

We hosted Christmas with Shauna and John, to the delight of the kids. Rei now has a pet cat named "Catty Whiskey" that purrs when petted, slurps milk when given a bottle and meows when ignored. Kai now has a Little People deluxe castle set, but it's no surprise that he also enjoys the box it came in:
boxed set

There were a few surprises however. An old Arkona Christmas tradition continues with the gift of Stott cinnamon buns. We'd been accustomed to their presence at Christmas and mourned the fact that with our departure, we'd have to turn to Pilsbury for a substitute. The Stotts tracked us down and presented with generous dose of doughy sweet goodness.

Also surprising was the suggestion that we play a board game and Shelley and I quickly seized the opportunity to introduce Shauna and John to the marvellous world of Catan. It was good practice for our upcoming visit with the Parsons-Sheldrakes.

This time it feels more seasonal to say "Merry Christmas".

Friday, December 21, 2007

That Was Swell

Shelley and the kids joined me in attending the youth-oriented "The Swell" worship service tonight. Rei noted with interest the movement/dance elements of the evening (perhaps I do have a budding liturgical dancer in my family) and Kai was intrigued by all the people, the live band and the big screen "TV".

Despite their extreme tiredness, the kids were very keen to stay for the entire time. It was nice to not have a leadership or presenting role in a service worship where I could sit and enjoy and fully participate and appreciate as a worshipper. Those times are rather few and far between.

It was pretty swell; whatever.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Angel Tree

Kai came home with an ornament for the tree that matches up well with one that Reiko made a couple years ago:
angel ornaments
"Angels we have heard on high..."

Another Week Gone By

It must be the High Holy Hectic time of Christmas coming. To share the newsworthy events of the week that was:

Saturday - Rei's dance class had an open session where the family could sit in and see their starlets perform.

Sunday - Snow Day! - No church services that morning. Shovelled out the driveway in the morning. And in the afternoon. And in the evening after the plow went by. Still, it was easier than digging out the manse driveway of yesteryear.

Monday - After an Early Years morning of having the site to ourselves, we dug some more in the afternoon. We excavated a snow cave in the mound by the road (facing the sidewalk, for safety's sake), dug a snow staircase into our front yard and channelled a snow tunnel/slide.

Tuesday - After daycare/school/work, we headed to London to do some Christmas shopping, strategically avoiding Santa and his picture throne; not because the kids would then pester us to stand in line, but because of the real and present danger that His Jolliness represents.

Wednesday - I bought snow tires for Shelley's car, but the garage didn't carry the proper size rims (contrary to what they told me the day before, when I was calling around). So they mounted the tires on the current ones and my automotive investigations will continue.

I realized that my Christmas holidays begin in 4 days. Maybe I'll have more blogging time then; in the meantime, the preparation continues.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nine Ladies Dancing

Not sure where the content of this post vanished to after hitting "Publish" so is it really repeating myself if no one else knew what I said?

Tonight I had opportunity to shake my moneymaker for the church at the Sunday School concert. In a group rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", I was called upon to dress up in a grass skirt and bikini top and hula like Nine Ladies Dancing. (And a cryptic comment made to me about coconuts earlier in the week suddenly made sense).

This is as close as I get to liturgical dance.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Running Behind

I thought I was being so clever and time-savvy this morning when I directed my morning run towards the bank; I still got about 5 km out of the deal as well as some buisness transacted. That was about the only time I was ahead of the game today.

The recycling/garbage truck tricked me by going down our side of the street first, usually the other side gets picked up before ours does. So I didn't quite have everything sorted and bagged and tagged in time. At least there's next week.

One more good thing: I had completed my run before all the snow blew in. Which means the drive to work took some extra time and I proceeded straight to the seniors' apartments to get ready for the Christmas service with the ministerial. This also meant I didn't get to print off my mini-sermons; so I handwrote some margin notes and winged it.

The afternoon Christmas service at another seniors' home was late starting and with the addition of 4 musical pieces by the local school choir, it was even later finishing. Then it was onto a visit with a parishioner before picking up the kids from daycare.

Running late again/still, I called Shelley to see if she could gather the kids and meet me at a restaurant for supper. From there, Shelley went back to work and I took the kids home for bed. At least I was back in time for "Survivor: China"'s penultimate episode.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stage Fright

Today was the school Christmas Concert, where Rei takes on the role of a spinning top. Before getting on the bus, she told me she didn't want to be in front of all the moms and dads.

Reportedly, the afternoon presentation in front of the other classes went well. After supper with my parents and Aunt Shauna, we all headed to the school for the evening show. Despite Rei's earlier reticence, she performed admirably. She hit her mark and was on cue, spinning and singing like a star.

[a picture will go here, once I crop the other kids out and remove the demon glare from her eyes]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Private Eye

At supper, Reiko related the news of a new girl in her daycare class. She said, "She says she's 7-years old." Her eyes narrowed as she conspiratorially shared, "I don't think she is."

Then Rei talked about how she followed the new girl around all day, watching what she was doing and who she was playing with; maybe gathering evidence of her true age.

We asked Rei if she knew what the girl's name was. "No." I guess that was a minor detail in the game of cloak and dagger.

Monday, December 10, 2007

December & Everything after

It's been a while since my series of conscientious updates so it's perhaps time to recap the week that was.

On Tuesday I conceded defeat to Satan. The library wanted its book back and I was only halfway through the lyrically fantastical tale of religious incarnation known as The Satanic Verses. I'm not sure where the controversy lay and I didn't really have any sense of connection to the characters. While I enjoyed Rushie's writing style, it's not an easy or particularly compelling read, I just didn't have the time or concentration to finish. Maybe another time, along with Ulysses.

Wednesday I met with a family who lost a 25-year old son in a traffic accident on the weekend. So you can imagine where much of my attention went this week.

Thursday I had to track down "The Pizza Villa" in Glencoe to meet with one of the ministers-across-the-road to plan the Christmas worship services at a couple of the senior citizens' homes. I took a stroll to what I assumed was said Pizza Villa only to find a small countertop take-out operation that lacked seating of any kind. I stepped outside to discover my assumption led me to "Pizza Picasso".

I headed back to the church, met up with my meeting partner and we headed over to the intended site: "The Villa Dining Lounge". Such is life in the small town – discovering the difference between what things are called and what they're known as.

Friday was sugar-high day for the kids. Aunt Shauna and John came over with a gingerbread house which the kids confectionarily assembled.
Then it was to A&W for supper which included some orange pop. Kai cheerfully and loudly identified a fellow customer as "SANTA!" who just happened to have a grey-white mustache-beard combo and a bit of heft to his physique. While we agreed with Kai that, yes, that man did resemble the societal construct known as Santa, it was not His Jolliness dining near us. The man in question was goodnatured enough, but ate quickly and left before someone else blew his cover.

Saturday was the funeral service and some preparation for Sunday morning. Not sure what more to say beyond that.

Sunday was Sunday, as ever.

And I've run out of blogging steam for tonight.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Behind the Scenes

This morning I was called upon to deliver a file box from the trunk of the car to the site of the Early Years program. It was no great hardship because I had planned to attend anyway.

Shelley and I put the Christmas tree up this afternoon, so that the kids could decorate it later.
tree trim 2007

I made pizza dough in the afternoon, rolled it out, prepared the toppings, and the kids assembled the culinary creation. After thanking the kids for making supper, Rei graciously said that Dad helped a little too. I told her that made me the sous chef; she seemed to like that assessment.

This is the glorious life I lead. It's why I became a minister, all the power and the glory. Forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snow Rain Man

After returning from the churches' White Gift services, it was on to shovelling out the driveway. Not surprisingly, it took nowhere near as long as it would have last year. Rei and I had time to make a new friend:
snowman 2007
With the rain currently falling, I don't think our snowy friend will be with us for very long. And I can get my hat back.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hot Pockets

After Rei's dance class, and on the way to a church Christmas bazaar, we heard some of Go's freakiest, unsung Canadian comedians. One in particular caught Reiko's attention: Jim Gaffigan's routine about Hot Pockets/Pizza Pockets.

Lunch was a church ham dinner and for supper, we invited Shelley's soon-to-be-moving-to-Calgary-co-worker-and-his-family over for supper. (Lasagne: hot pocket without the pocket). Their kids and ours played well together, staying up past bedtime.

Everyone managed to maintain their good humour, although they became somewhat giddy. Especially if you happen to sing the simple little jingle "Hot Pock-ets!" to a little girl.