Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morn 2009

Stocking: Grandma W (my mom)
Cookies: Scotty
Presents: Santa

The theme this year seems to be Lightning McQueen (from the Disney/Pixar movie "Cars"). Scott was wearing his Cars pajamas and opened quite a number of Cars-related presents.

My particular favourite was this matching curtain and quilt cover sewed by none other than mommy. That was a labour of love, if I've ever seen one.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chrismas Eve Traditions - Part 2 - Handbells

I'm not really sure where the handbell tradition started, but I love it. At first encounter, it might seem a little juvenile to sit around ringing rainbow-coloured toy bells, but it is always the highlight of the evening for me. Sure, everyone enjoys the mini talent show and trombones and stuff, but with handbells, everyone is a star.

So, before you can play the bells, you have to warm up with some carols.

After a thorough dose of carols, it time for the bells!
My favourite bell is probably the yellow one, because it sees lots of action. For example, Jingle Bells is almost a yellow-bell solo. Of course, you usually get two bells, so it's nice to get a yellow and an orange, or maybe a nice yellow/blue combo.

This year, I picked nearly last and ended up with only one bell -- a red one. Red is a great-looking colour and it appears in plenty of songs. However, I found out as we started to play a song that I didn't have the regular red (Low C), I had the DARK red one (High C). Some songs don't have a single note for the dark red bell (usually I would only play on the final chord), and I didn't have a second bell, so I felt a bit cheated. I know I shouldn't feel that way on Christmas Eve, so I consoled myself by taking extra pictures until it was time to hit a high chord.

(Uncle Terry had a dark red bell too -- that's why he's staring at the ceiling.)

With my free time, I was also able to capture some video of Santa Claus is Coming To Town. This partially captures that inevitable moment following each song when everybody rings their bells willy-nilly and creates a truly deafening cacophony. I pretend to plug my ears, but secretly I love it.

Chrismas Eve Traditions - Part 1 - Tree Decorations

R's family (on her dad's side) mostly live in Calgary, and they get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas without fail. Turkey dinner at Thanksgiving is pretty much self-explanatory, but the Christmas traditions deserve a more fulsome treatment here. The events come in two parts: 1) Christmas Eve Get-Together; and 2) Christmas Dinner

This year everyone came over to R's parents' place for the standard Christmas Eve singing and bell-ringing; however, before everyone else arrived, R's immediate family gathered for dinner and a new tradition, Making tree decorations:

Decorating Wreaths with Stickers

Colouring Wooden Ornaments

Decorating Cookies

Handbells are next!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hunting Christmas Trees

Scott likes to tell people about his Christmas tree. He tells them that it came from the forest. Sometimes he mentions that we have two trees. I prefer to tell the story a different way.

And I prefer to use pictures.

Last year we didn't even have a tree. This is not because we are scroogesque villains -- it's because we went away for nearly two weeks for Christmas and we didn't want to come home to a dead tree and a host of dead needles. We couldn't live with the guilt... or the mess.

However, this year we heard that R's sister J and her family were going out to forest to hunt wild trees, so we went along. Wrapped in thick layers of clothing and toting plastic sleds, our hunting party was prepared for anything winter could throw at us -- except for what we got.

It's much harder to pull a sled across dirt than across snow.

We found a good tree for our living room, and nearby we found a good tree for Scotty's room. Once I cut his little tree down, he told us that it wasn't the one he wanted. I hid the tree from view while I propped it up somewhere else and then asked him what he thought of it -- hoping that I could win his approval without cutting down another tree.

He wasn't fooled, but I think he appreciated the gesture and he allowed us to load the little tree into his cousin's blue plastic sled. This actually turned out to be an unfortunate move, since the sled constantly caught on various fallen logs or low-hanging branches. However, Scott's determination/stubbornness knew no bounds.

This was one of seven patches of snow observed that day.

Roof rack in action.

Trees that seem smaller in the forest look a lot bigger once you get them home. I had to cut about four feet off of the bottom of this one to make it fit in our living room.

Scott's tree required no such adjustments. In fact, it was so small, we could hardly find a string of lights small enough that it didn't overwhelm the slender branches. In his "Gym & Craft" class at the YMCA, he made two candy canes out of pipe cleaner and coloured beads. I showed him how to hang one on a branch of his tree, then I gave it back to him so he could try. He hung it in exactly the spot I had used, and then he hung the second one right next to it -- so close that they were touching. I guess he'll appreciate a little variety as he gets older.

A little tree doubles as a festive night light.

So, Scott likes to tell people about his Christmas tree. He tells them that it came from the forest. Sometimes he mentions that we have two trees. It is true.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

It Came Out Of My Mouth


The other night when I came home from work Scott looked over at me from playing and said, "O my lucky!" I imagine I might have said this around him before, but probably not that recently. Apparently, he said it all day long today.
Then later that night when he was jumping around on the couch he stopped and shouted, "Hoist the sails!" This is from a pirate book that we read several weeks ago.
Saturday morning we were in the yard playing with a ball and watching some birds in the big pine tree out front, when R announced that it was time to eat lunch. Scott said he preferred to stay outside and play. I used a favourite technique to try to get him moving.

I said, "Tell the bird that you're going inside to drink some grape juice." Usually, he would do exactly what I suggested, and we would head inside. This time was different.

He turned to me and said, "The bird says 'not quite yet.'"

Probably best of all is this video, where I captured Scotty making one of his many sound effects. I thought it sounded kind of like a car or a train engine, but I was mistaken:

"What makes that sound?"

"Scotty makes that sound.
It came out of my mouth."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nine Years Later

Subtitle: Anniversary weekend in Cardston, Alberta.

Nine years ago this week we stood on this same spot for wedding photos. Strangely enough, there was no snow on the ground that day either -- a miracle. While the weather appears the same, we certainly look different than in our wedding video that we watched again (an anniversary tradition). R's hair is darker and curlier. She also has a prego belly. My differences are harder to pinpoint. I've got about the same haircut, but I look older. It seems like I have moved a little further along the continuum which has younger me on one end and my dad on the other end.

We spent the weekend childless, leaving our progeny in the capable hands of his aunt J and his uncle L, where he reportedly put all his energy into playing with hotwheels cars on a track. On the way out of town, we hit an opening day showing of "New Moon". The movie was actually better than I expected -- the special effects were leaps and bounds ahead of the previous film. I guess that's what you get with a bigger budget.

The absolute best part of the whole thing was the audience -- hearing the collective gasping and swooning when the male lead characters first appeared, and then the mania when Jacob pulled his shirt off. You can't duplicate that part of the experience at home, and I'm glad I was there to witness it.

I'm also glad that I didn't have to wait in line. We were able to walk right in for the afternoon show, but we saw throngs of fans lined up outside the theatre for the later shows when we came out.

Another stop on our way south was the Pizzaberger Cafe in Okotoks, which offers a gluten-free crust in addition to its wheat-flour mainstay. While we were waiting for our order, we saw quite a stream of customers coming in and out, including a couple who often drives the 40 minutes down from Calgary to get their pizza fix, as well as an Okotoker who says he gets the 2 for 1 takeout special every Friday. We had no idea this little spot in an otherwise sleepy strip mall was such a local gem. We understood the passion once R dug into her hawaiian feast.

You see, people can deal with a certain amount of change in their lives over 9 tenths of a decade -- hairstlyes, pregnancy, children -- but pizza is pretty tough to give up cold turkey.

Thank goodness for Pizzaberger.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Spiderman Does When Crime is Slow

He helps Daddy fix stuff around the house. Of course, the superhero has a powerdrill and poor Dad has to get by with a plain old screwdriver.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Our Little Coven

R comes from a family filled with superheroes and supervillians, as you can see from this recent family photograph:

That is the extended family. Our own little coven comes from two literary vampire hotspots: Transylvania (as expected), and Forks, Washington.

Ever since Scotty's sharp widow's peak hairline grew in, I have thought he was perfectly suited to be Count Dracula for Halloween. All he needed was a cape and some pale makeup to complete the ensemble.

Our sister-in-law N had a fantastic red collar to start us off, and R just had to sew on an altered black skirt from the second-hand store. Then we added a medallion from the craft store hanging on some Christmas ribbon and the Count was ready to stalk candy amongst the living.

He didn't much enjoy sitting in the stylist's chair for hair and makeup, but he loved the way that his cape flapped in the wind when he would run across the lawn or go for a swing.

When asked about his costume, he knew the he was "a vampire", but he really had no idea what that was. It was probably even more confusing for him that we also said we were dressed as vampires, since we weren't dressed anything like him.

I was Edward Cullen, everyone's favourite fictional resident of Forks, Washington. My makeup was a mixture of "porcelain" foundation and body glitter. You see, in some stories, vampires sparkle in the sun. Unfortunately, a camera flash doesn't do the sparking justice.

You will notice that I've made my own baseball jersey -- for those occasional thunderstorms.

R was dressed up as Bella Swan -- Edward's true love. If you are familiar with the Twilight literary series, you will understand where in the chronology R's costume fits. Notice the "little nudger" she has there in her tummy.

We thought it might be a fun touch for her to be carrying a cup full of red fruit punch with a straw, but we never followed through on that one.

Although vampires are believed to be nocturnal hunters, our little Count Dracula had great success during a mid-afternoon hunt for candy at Northland Mall with his cousins Spider, the Green Goblin and Venom.

He quite enjoyed watching the loot drop into his little bag. However, once he had a few items in his bag, he wasn't satisfied collecting any more until he could get at least a bit of it into his mouth. He called a timeout until he could get a good sugar fix and then he continued his stalking.

The evening trick-or-treat session was much the same. He was happy running from door to door for a while, but eventually he hit a wall when the bag got heavy, the sun grew dim and he thirsted for something sweet to suck on -- something like a lemon-flavoured lollipop.