Friday, October 6, 2017

Bienvenue a Montreal!

So, anyone checking in on this blog knows that Spencer has been studying law at McGill in Montreal over the past 2 years and that the boys and I have been living in West Bend, WI where I commuted to Milwaukee to work full time and help off-set law school costs. As of last month, however, we are all under the same roof again up here in Montreal.

It has been a season of change, settling into our new home, forming new routines and bringing out books, toys and other home comforts that we have not been face to face with since we saw them packed up back in Perth, Australia.

It is also a chance for me to get back to my poor neglected blog. I'd like to do so by updating those checking in on what our family has been up to.

Spencer is sinking his teeth into his last year of law school and looking forward to seeing it in the rear-view mirror. Busy as he is we're still happy to be able to see him every day rather than every 3-4 months.

I am cruising along on my visitor visa here in Montreal and have been spending my days getting our home organized and acquainting myself with the city. I have met some lovely people here so far and am hoping to get a book club going soon.

Eliot started 3rd grade and really likes his teacher. We're still in the process of accessing all of the resources he will need but he's a trooper. He is in love with the metro system and every week we take at least 2 "metro adventures." He has gotten into Minecraft but still enjoys getting outside and riding his bike, reading and being read to and playing all sorts of imaginary games with Peter.

Peter is loving 1st grade and comes home with a smile every day. He also loves the metro system and is pretty good at reading the metro map. When we're riding the train he will study the map and let me know how many stops there are before we get off. He also enjoys Minecraft, playing outside (he and Eliot recently got a soccer ball and love going into the alley behind our house and kicking it around, he has also discovered the game of catch with Dad and thinks it's pretty great), he loves to read and be read to.

Finally there's Bella the Cat. She is a sweet, elderly kitty I adopted out of Toronto on my drive up here and she has been settling in nicely. She loves affection and has discovered that the boys, though loud and rowdy at times, give really good back rubs.

Peter has discovered that Bella likes to have her chin scratched.

Recently I've been reading "Charlotte's Web" to both of them and since Peter goes to bed about 20 minutes before Eliot, Spencer and I have been reading "A Series of Unfortunate Events" to Eliot. He's anxiously awaiting book 5 from the library.

No family is perfect and without challenges, but as Eliot said the other day as he was waiting for some cookies to come out of the oven "I just love our family."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Looking back: The Schows' summer visit

We had a great time visiting with Schow cousins this summer. We started it all off with ice cream.

Beach time!

All of the children enjoyed flexing their green thumbs in the garden.

Peter and Lucy giving us an impromptu dance performance.

Eliot and James pottering in the garden and shooting the breeze.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Looking Back: Christmas

Christmas seems like an eternity away. It's not even February yet and it feels like we've lived a decade or two. It's nice to be able to sit down and reflect back.

The boys were very excited for Spencer's visit. I had warned them not to go dashing past airport security in their enthusiasm to see him. They were very good and remained in place when they spotted him. But as you can see from Peter's position in mid-air they found other ways to express their delight.

It was a very happy reunion for us all.

Before Spencer arrived the boys had helped select and decorate the Christmas tree. When the work was done they each brought out their stuffed animals to pose in the tree's warm glow.

Decorating gingerbread cookies.

All in all it was a very nice Christmas.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Happy Halloween!

This year I thought I was going to get off easy. Both Eliot and Peter were determined to dress up in the same costumes they'd used last year. As fate would have it, early in October they discovered a Nickelodeon show called "Paw Patrol" and became obsessed with it. Both chose a character from the show. Peter chose Chase (some people thought he was a mouse, but he's a German Shepherd puppy, thank you very much) and Eliot chose Zuma. It was fun to make their costumes but it was also a lot of work. The night they were finished (just in time for our first Halloween party) the boys were delighted and Peter kept saying "dis is incwedible! I feel like a weel dog!" which was a huge pay-off.

Now that we had costumes it was time to get down to business, and get down to it we did to the tune of 3 trick or treating events in a 24 hour period.

First it was off to the Harvest Festival at church. The Halloween Party at school was on the same night but the boys' chose the church party, much to my relief. The school's party is a good-faith effort--we went last year--but what I remember most about it was standing around in a crowded echoing lunch hall waiting for things to get started and when things finally did get started they consisted of a costume parade, trunk or treat and good night. At the church party there were crafts, games, a costume parade, trunk or treating, a chili cook-off, pot-luck desserts and a train ride. So it really was no contest.

The next morning we were back in business, joining Aunt Rissie at the Milwaukee Public Museum for a special members' only trick or treating event. Trick or Treating while looking at dinosaurs and listening to a Ghost Buster explain the intricacies of the human skeleton? Yes please!

And finally there was Trick or Treating in the neighborhood. The boys were ready to really take this seriously and we went much farther afield than we had last year.

Trick or Treating is hard work for a pair of little legs...

...but so worth it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Summer in Recap: Dad's Visit

While Spencer was here this summer we took advantage of our week with him. I took time off work and the boys took a hiatus from YMCA day camp. It was fun to just hang out as a family but we were also able to fit in some family outings. One was to a Brewers game (the boys' first Major League ball game) and as a special highlight Spencer caught a foul ball. We had been sitting Spencer-Peter-myself-Eliot at the time and when Spencer caught the ball he flopped it over into Peter's lap. Eliot and Peter both instantly recognized this as a sign of possession and Eliot shouted "I want the next one!" I quickly explained that the ball was Dad's, as he had caught it, but that he was happy to share with his two boys. Eliot got a turn to hold it and look is over which satisfied him.

There were all kinds of wonders at the ball park. Ice cream served in little plastic batting helmets, Dippin' Dots--though the boys opted for the ice cream as, in Peter's words, "we can get Dippin's Dots anywhere but we can't get ice cream in helmets anywhere!"--nachos, pretzels, I could go on.

The boys had fun at the game and sat surprisingly well through all nine innings. They watched the score board to help keep track of the game and loved jumping to their feet to cheer, even when they didn't know what they were cheering about.

Spencer explained some of the finer points of the game.

Though the game didn't capture their rapt attention from start to finish, I'd say the fact that they lasted through through to the end and left feeling happy and excited is a mark of success.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back to School!!

I was able to take off work yesterday and today to help the boys celebrate their final day of summer vacation (we had breakfast out and went for an "epic" bike ride) and to get them off to their first day of school. Both Eliot and Peter have been looking forward to this school year as it will be the first time they attend school together.

Eliot is going into 2nd grade and is looking forward to his new adventures there. He still loves math and science as well as anything mechanical. Eliot's 2nd grade teacher comes highly recommended by other teachers at his school and in my brief conversations with her so far she seems like a really nice, down-to-earth lady. I think he's going to have a great year.

Peter is starting Kindergarten and is very excited to be going to Greentree with Eliot. Greentree was the primary venue for their YMCA summer day camp so he's feeling like it's a pretty familiar space. He also has the same teacher that Eliot had for K-5 so we're all enjoying that comfortable feeling of The Known.

Eliot and I got Peter to his classroom and left him standing in line to enter the room before heading off to Eliot's class. Eliot got his things into his locker and then I asked if I could take his picture, smiling in front of his locker. "No Mom. I have to get in there," he replied very importantly. And off he slipped into 2nd grade. There was too much going on for me to feel a twinge for very long. On my way out of the building I happened to pass Peter's classroom again where he still stood patiently in line with the other children. This was the last look I got from him as I waved goodbye and walked past.

When I went to pick them up at the end of the day Eliot's class came out first and I saw him looking around with a worried expression on his face. Assuming it was because he hadn't noticed me yet I waved and called his name. He saw me, waved back in a "yes, yes, I see you" kind of way and continued to search the crowd of children pouring out of the building. It was then that I realized that mine was not the face he was looking for. Finally Peter's class exited the school and together my two boys joined me with exuberant smiles for the walk home.

As we walked home they chatted about their day. I seriously love these guys.

Today wasn't just the first day of school, it was also Dad's birthday!! Though Spencer was not here to physically join in the festivities the boys were happy to blow out the candles for him and have a slice of lemon rosemary yogurt cake in his honor.
It was simply a great day.