Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Highlights of Christmas 2010

A collection of pictures to highlight our Christmas:


A few days before Christmas I baked and decorated sugar cookies - a fun treat for the kiddies, and for Santa!


On Christmas Eve, we attended mass and watched my nephew and niece in the Christmas pageant. I took a picture of the nativity in the church.


On Christmas Day, we visited my husband's family; then we headed over to my brother's house for dinner. Here's the sweet table - a delicious array of cakes, cookies, fruits and goodies.



And every year, Santa makes a special appearance - J.P gets a hug from the big man in red.

O Tannenbaum....it was another happy and magical Christmas with family and friends. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Wishes

The kids are home for the holidays, and already the mayhem has begun.

"Mommy, just f0ur more days!"

It's no surprise that little ones are counting down the days.

"Can I open my gifts now?"

"No! What would you open on Christmas day?"

I settle for one gift on Christmas eve, and my little boy gushes in delight. I'm trying to play down the big day; trying to teach them that it's not all about receiving presents. Why do we celebrate? What is the true meaning of Christmas?

And to my amazement, the boys answer it's the day when Jesus was born; and the season of giving.

At the annual family gathering a few weeks ago, my brother asked me, "What does Christmas mean to you?"

I was taken aback since he had a video camera in front of my face, and I replied, "Family. Good times, and baking!"

As he slowly moved around the room, asking the same question to each person, everyone acknowleged family.

So with that in mind, I'd like to wish all of you many blessings, love, peace and joy this holiday season. And may the spirit of Christmas fill your hearts, and homes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12 Days Till Christmas

It's mid-December, and we've already had our annual family Christmas get-together. Every year, we see our relatives from my mother's side, and celebrate the holidays. It's a wonderful evening filled with prayers, food, music and laughter. I don't see my dear cousins that often so spending time with them is special. I always look forward to watching the kids' talent show each time - the little ones perform the hula, dance, sing carols or showcase their yo-yo skills.

Moreover, it's also a time when Mr. O takes his vacation. We attended J.P's Christmas school concert last week; another enjoyable occasion. Once again, J.P was excited and exclaimed he didn't want us to miss this joyous event! Somehow the days leading up to Christmas is so much worthwhile when Mr. O is home.

And the festive season isn't complete without the holiday baking. The homemade muffins and cookies didn't last the weekend. How many batches will I have to make next time?!

So, with 12 days till Christmas, there is still lots to do! I have yet to finish my shopping! Not to mention the gift wrapping, and the Christmas cards I have to write.

I guess it's that time of year. Am I feeling stressed? Let's just say I'm taking it all in stride.

'Tis the season to be jolly.

No?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Distractions

I haven't picked up my book in weeks.

But luckily, my boys are reading their books.

You see, we banned computer use in our home. It was a tough decision but I think it was the best thing we could do for our kids right now. We felt that the computer was more of a distraction than a benefit to them. On weekends, the boys would fight over schedules - who would play first and for how long. And then it was the computer games. Some were age appropriate but others we didn't approve at all.

It was crazy!

At first, the computer ban was given a cold reception. Yes, there were meltdowns. Awkward and restless moments. And then, one last plea.

But in truth, it's not as bad as they thought it would be. They're still wired - they have their Wii and Nintendo. I'm just glad the boys no longer play on the computer - there's more social interaction at home; imaginative play with Lego, and other toys. And more visits to the public library!

Last Sunday, I was able to do some Christmas shopping with the kids in tow! All they needed was something to keep them busy; a little distraction. Amid the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers, Mr. O and the boys sat on a bench reading their books!

Unbelievable!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Day Trip

Last Saturday, we kicked off the holiday season by taking the boys, along with their cousins to watch Beauty and The Beast. It was their first live theatre experience, and the kids were very excited! We headed downtown, arriving at the Eaton Centre; slowly making our way past crowded shops and up the escalator to see this magnificent Christmas tree - a Swarovski crystal tree. Oh, how the ornaments shimmered and sparkled in the sunlight!

Across the mall, we went to the beautiful Elgin Theatre. It was a matinee show - a lively, entertaining and funny production of Beauty and The Beast. My boys were in awe of the music, the performers, the setting and of course, the elegant theatre itself! The kids enjoyed it so much, I think it will be something we'll do every year!

After the show, we did more sightseeing. We headed over to the Hudson Bay store, and admired the Christmas display windows. Here are a few shots I took with my Blackberry:

I even told my kids that grandma used to take me here when I was a little girl. I must say it brought back so many wonderful memories.


We ventured to see the Old and new City Hall, where once again another huge Christmas tree was decorated. The annual Calvacade of Lights were to take place that evening but we decided to stay warm and have dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Perhaps, when the kids are older we'll take part in that event but for now, we'll enjoy our little day trip in the city.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Christmas Tree

"Mommy, the neighbours put up their Christmas lights and decorations. When are we going to put up the tree?"

Good question.

"Are we going to the Santa Claus parade? Are we going to watch Elf later?"

I told J.P that I'm wasn't feeling well but when I feel better, I promised we'd decorate the house.

In the evening, he inquired again, only to be given the same answer.

I thought watching a holiday movie would soften his disappointment. Instead, it made him hopeful that I would change my mind.

On Monday, when I took J.P to school, he pointed at all the houses that were decked out in Christmas decor. I just smiled and nodded as we walked along.

And can you believe the same question was uttered every morning and night? Is this kid persistent or what?

"When are we going to put up the Christmas tree?"

Oh dear.
I couldn't rest all week. Let alone think. I've been going crazy! It's difficult to get in the holiday spirit especially when you're under the weather.

Finally, I took out the decorations, ornaments and of course, the beloved Christmas tree. The boys were excited and eager to help. My little elves were fast at work!

When the tree was up, lit and embellished with all the trimmings, it was a magical sight to see.

"Are you happy now, J.P?"



"Yes, mommy. Thank you!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Night Out

You know you're old when you leave a rock concert before the main act ends.

Sigh.

Last month, my brother won tickets to see Canadian rock band Bedouin Soundclash at a local charity event. He kindly asked me if I would like to go with him. I told him I would love to go even though it has been years since I've been to a concert. I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to see this band for the first time. And besides, a night out away from the kids would do me some good.

Mr. A picked me up at 7pm on Friday night, and we headed down to The Docks where the concert was held. It's a relatively small and intimate venue but with a perfect view of the Toronto skyline. When we arrived, my brother scanned the line that had already formed outside the club. Being forty-something, he was becoming too self-conscious about his age.

"Look at all the young people. One look at me, they might think I'm your father."

As we lined up; received our wrist-bands and passed through security, I told him not to worry about it and just enjoy the evening. Inside, we made our way to the stage; it was standing room only and for the next two hours we watched the two opening acts. We were particularly impressed with Charlie Winston - a talented British musician. He rocked!




I enjoyed the music, and the festive atmosphere. However, I was wary of the three young fellows in front of us. You could say they had one too many beers, and were very intoxicated. I affectionately called them "the three stooges". Mr. A said they were harmless but I couldn't avoid the awkward situation when one of the guys wanted to shake my hand. Reluctantly, I shook his hand and then maneuvered away from him!

It was almost 11pm when Bedouin Soundclash took the stage. At this point, a larger crowd appeared, and the mood shifted to a heightened state of musical ecstasy. We watched and listened for the next half hour but when Mr. A let out a wide yawn - a sign to go home. Besides, I was tired standing for three hours, occasionally going on tippy toe to get a better view! I was more than happy to call it a night.

A night out with my brother was fun but I have to admit, I'm not so young anymore.

And I can't believe I'm sick with fever, and still recovering.

Sigh.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crossroads

Lately, the voice inside me has grown quiet. I have retreated in solitude, and reflection.

Things are fine at home, my relationships are good. I can't really complain about anything.

My boys are getting older, and I'm slowly letting them go. They're changing, maturing faster right before my eyes. And it's incredible to see them transform.

Whatever happened to all the mentors for young boys? There's not enough of them these days.

I've already told my husband that he will have to play a more active role in their lives. I can only encourage it.

I feel like I'm at a crossroads. And that change is coming.

Or maybe, I just need a good long break.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day: Lest We Forget

On the 11th day of the 11th month, on the 11th hour, people all across Canada will honour the thousands of men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom. My sons along with many school children will take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies - red poppies will be distributed and this poem will be read:

In Flanders Field
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
But more importantly, children will be able to express their gratitude to the veterans for the life they have today. J.P will read a special prayer -
Dear God,
We pray for the soldiers who fight for peace and keep us safe. Thank you to to the fallen soldiers. We honour you today on Remembrance Day.
Let us not forget those who served and died. And remember all those brave soldiers who still serve around the world.

Monday, November 8, 2010

November Reading

If there is one thing I love to do in my spare time; it's reading books. I try to read a book every month, and for the month of October I read Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert. As I was moving onto my next book; my husband gave me the Millenium trilogy books by Stieg Larsson - I had just finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (it took me one week to read), and started the second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I was instantly hooked - what a compelling story! And there's still, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Thank goodness for daylight savings time - turn back the clock one hour. You'd think I'd enjoy that extra hour sleep.

No.

I was up until 4 am, reading my book- I just couldn't put it down! I slept for a few hours, rising at 8:30 am. Luckily, it was Sunday, no need to make an early breakfast and pack lunches. I stayed in bed a little bit longer....doing what else?

Reading.

Not bad for the month of November.


- What are you reading? What's on your list?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Little Dose of Music

There's nothing better than hearing Here Comes The Sun on a cold, and rainy day. Luckily, the boys have no school today; and we're having a lazy, cozy morning. A.R is strumming the blues on his guitar - last night, he came down with a fever so it must be disappointing to spend his day bedridden. However, a little dose of Tears in Heaven, Blackbird, Time of Your Life, and More Than Words can do wonders. I love hearing music being played inside the house, and I especially love when my boys sing! This week, A.R announced he joined the school choir and he came home with a folder of Christmas songs. What do you think we did on a Wednesday night?

You bet.

We sang to our heart's content. Imagine what we'll do today. Hmm.

~ Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Life Lessons

"Don't forget your jacket, your lunch, your hat."

These are some of the daily reminders I give my son before he heads off to school. Lately, I've had several talks with him about taking care of his belongings, and being more responsible. A.R knows that I'm not impressed with him whenever he comes home to tell me he lost his school agenda, his gloves or his hat.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from his school. It was the vice principal, and she told me not to be alarmed, that there wasn't any trouble with my son - she just wanted to tell me about an incident that occurred during lunchtime. Apparently, a few of A.R's classmates were playing around with his beloved hat, and whenever he tried to retrieve it, they wouldn't let him have it. When one of his friends tried to help get the hat back, it resulted in a tug-of-war scenario, and the hat ripped apart.

A.R was very upset. His classmates were apologetic, and said he could easily replace it with another one.

He tearfully said it was a gift from his grandmother; a souvenir from the Philippines. It was more than just a hat to him; it had sentimental value.

The vice principal spoke to A.R and asked what happened. He recounted the story and noted the hat was important to him. His classmates felt badly for what they had done, and suggested that the hat should be repaired; and should be sent to a seamstress. And that they will each contribute to pay for the service.

I thought it was a thoughtful and nice gesture on behalf of his classmates. I hope this will be a life lesson for all them; however, small the token, it certainly meant so much more.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Dance-a-thon

Last Friday, the boys had a Halloween dance-a-thon at their schools. A fun and healthy event held every year.

J.P was allowed to wear a costume that day, and as usual, he was very excited to dress up.

As I dropped him off to school, I glanced at the boys in his class - they all wore action figure costumes.

Ninja Turtles, Batman, Spider Man, Iron Man - the list goes on and on.

And what did J.P want to be for Halloween?

Michael Jackson. Sigh.
My son lined up in his black fedora hat, glittered glove and dark mirrored sunglasses. What a sight to see!

But that's okay because his older brother, and crazy Uncle A. wanted to be MJ too.

I guess it must run in the family.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Safe

It's that time of year to take out bulky sweaters, turn on the heater and have plenty of tissue on hand.

The cold season is here.

For me, it came early - I was sick in late August; feeling miserable during our camping trip. And Mr.O is still recovering from his illness just over a month ago.

Last Sunday, J.P had the sniffles but a nagging cough and a mild fever came suddenly.

Being sick means no school, huh?

J.P dutifully takes his Tylenol, drinks lots of fluids and to pass the time, he reads books or plays on the computer. At least, he has an appetite. His fever comes and goes throughout the day but it rises near bedtime.

"Mommy, do I have to go to school tomorrow?"

"Are you feeling better now? Do you still have fever?"

J.P moans and groans, a coughing fit ensues. What an Oscar performance!

Hmm.

I check his temperature, and tell him that his fever is high.  He'll need to rest and to take his medication again. J.P slumps back down on the couch, and lets out a big sigh.

"I'm safe."

For now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Release Your Inner Geek

"You're such a geek!"

Mr. O is amused as I sit and watch The Big Bang Theory. For those who are not familiar with The Big Bang Theory - it's a hilarious sitcom of a group of friends, who happen to be geniuses but who are inept in social circles especially when it comes to women. The show is witty, fresh and brilliant.

"I am not!"

Mr.O nods and reassures me that I am. He says I engage in social media, points out that I'm a news junkie, and I toy with gadgets and gizmos. Honestly, I'm just trying to keep up with the times. I have no intention of being nerdy.

We live in a fast-paced world -  computers, smartphones, mp3 players, and video games. It's astounding how fast you can receive information and how everything can go viral these days.

As a mother of two boys of Generation Z (those born 1991-2000s who have never known a world without computers, internet, etc.); I'm trying to teach them good values, balance and hard work. Parenting is difficult enough but to raise them when there are so many distractions! What a challenge!

Call me what you want.

But first, let me help you set up your iPod, guide you on Facebook, and show you how to text.

Release your inner geek!

Embrace it.

No?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Garden Stroll

We spent the holiday weekend visiting family, and feasting on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner - turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, corn and for dessert, pumpkin pie. After seeing my parents, we took the boys to Rosetta McClain Gardens. A picturesque park hidden in the city, overlooking Lake Ontario.


It was past six o'clock in the evening, and we had about an hour or so to take pictures; and to take a garden stroll. There's a waterfall, a gazebo and a magnificent view of the lake.


I was hoping to capture autumn colours but instead I found pretty flower beds of begonias, geraniums, carnations and red calla lilies.


It's hard to resist but how can you not smell the flowers?


Perhaps, we'll just have to wait another week for the fall colours to arrive.


Until then it was a wonderful way to end the Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Being Beautiful

Today I'll be participating in this new meme called Being Beautiful.

Last March, I wrote "Grey Matters" - a post about growing old, and how much I've changed as a person. For many years, I've struggled with self-esteem, and body image but motherhood put a whole new perspective on life. And I'd like to share this with all of you again.


To check out more, click Being Beautiful.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thankful

First, I'd like to send out some blogger love to Carrie from Our Tips and Tales by The Kennison Family, Krislin from Tingvine - Moments with God from Syracuse Pike and A Mommy's Joy for the blog awards they sent me last week. I'll be adding these wonderful blogs on my list of favorites! Please check them out, they're all awesome!

It's Friday and the holiday weekend is here. I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving Day with family; and I'm looking forward to seeing my mother. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I urge women to get screened early. My mother was diagnosed in 2002, she underwent chemotherapy and beat it! After my mother's annual check up in September 2010, she was told that she will need surgery but no chemotherapy treatment. We are thankful that it was detected early and that she will not have to endure aggressive treatment.

This will be a special Thanksgiving for all of us. Our prayers, love and support are with you, Mom!


Have a wonderful weekend!


For more info on breast cancer, click here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Words

"Mommy, you're always busy."

This is what A.R said to me after I declined his offer to help him solve a puzzle. He asked me several times but I told him repeatedly, "Not now, I have things to do."

And then, there's the little guy who's been acting up, and stirring up drama when he comes home from school. Time outs and futile harangues have been the norm in this household.

It's been a stressful and frustrating week but my son's indelible words left a vivid impression.

The truth is my kids have been reaching out, and I haven't been listening.

We all lead busy lives, and sometimes we lose sight of what's really important.

But, that's no excuse, and I don't want any regrets.

Be careful what you say. Your children are listening.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Picture Day

I don't recall a time when I heard these words from my boys.

"Mommy, I love my new hoodie, and shirt. So cool."

Could I be dreaming? I never knew little boys liked clothes.

It's picture day at J.P's school, and I have never seen him so excited.

What else did he have for breakfast? I could have sworn I gave him toast and jam!

I look at him, and realize he can't button his pants. He grew again! I rush to the bedroom, and hand him another pair of jeans.

"It fits."

He runs to my bedroom and gazes into the mirror. I giggle as he strikes several poses. He wishes to go to school now. What? Since when did he want to go to school? I tell him that he would just have to wait for his older brother to go on the bus first.

On our way to school, J.P is beaming. He insisted on wearing no light jacket. Good grief!

When we arrive at the school yard, I see girls twirling in their fancy dresses, and a few boys wearing dress shirts and pants. A little too formal for school pictures but they did look very cute.

If there is one thing I know for certain, boys don't want clothes for gifts; they'd rather have toys or games but for picture day, it's all good!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Please Don't Photo Tag Me

You've probably seen the trailer, or heard about the movie The Social Network. On Friday, it will be released in theatres and with that in mind, I'm looking forward to watching it. I enjoy Facebook, it definitely has its perks. First, I can keep in touch with my family, and second, I can get reconnected with old friends. However, I've stated in my post last February; that I like my privacy. Only my immediate family and very close friends can see family pictures. And if there is one thing that I'm not too crazy about; it's getting photo tagged!

I know I can't control what a person can post on his/her profile but if you add me - whatever you do, please don't photo tag me!

A weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival resulted in some serious photo tagging! My brother likes to take pictures from his Blackberry and send it directly to Facebook. Can you believe I've been tagged before I even arrive home?! And last Saturday, it was my mother-in-law's 70th birthday party. Guess what my relatives did?

Oh, you guessed right!!!

No matter how I set my profile settings....I've been tagged.

Sigh.


~ Check out The Social Network.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Life Goals

A few months ago, I read an article about a young widower, and his desire to keep his wife's memory alive by fulfilling her life goals. The story struck a chord with me ever since. I could relate to it simply because it shared some of my life goals - things I would like to do in my lifetime. Often, I would talk to my husband about what I want to do when the kids get older; and lost dreams that I would like to accomplish some day. Here's an example:

- Run a marathon.

- Go horseback riding.

- Learn and dance the tango in the streets of Buenos Aires.

- Learn to knit.

- Write a book.

- Do more traveling.

- Own a house by the lake.

What about you? Do you have a list of things you would like to do?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Writer

On Tuesday, I attended J.P's school for BBQ/Meet the Teacher Night. I was exhausted; still recovering from my whirlwind at TIFF. Somehow, I found it odd to be going to school in the evening - especially after gallivanting to red carpet events during the film festival. We arrived just before 6:00pm; skipped the barbeque, and went directly to J.P's classroom.

As we waited in the hallway, I admired my son's work that was displayed outside his class. It was an All About Me board, and each student had to answer personal questions - what they like to do, who were their best friends etc. I noticed J.P had good spelling, and his answers were lengthy and descriptive. I was glad I made my boys write in a journal over the summer holidays; a little writing certainly paid off!

His teacher walked in and welcomed us in the classroom. J.P proudly showed me around, excited that I was there to see his desk, his peers and his school work. I spoke with his teacher briefly, and she immediately said, "Oh, your son is quite the writer." I was so pleased, and happy to hear that, and she suggested that I take a look at his work. J.P took out his notebook, and I began to read one of his entries:

"On Saturday, mommy went to take pictures of the stars...."

Oh dear.

My mouth dropped open. And I laughed so hard.

"Mommy, what's so funny?"

"Nothing. I love your writing."

On the way home, I encouraged him to keep reading, and writing. He can only get better - except next time, I won't tell him where I'm going.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Weekend at TIFF

For the past three days, I've been heading downtown to the Toronto International Film Festival. Last year, my brother attended and he was lucky enough to see George Clooney. So, this time around he didn't want to go solo and asked if I would like to go with him. I was thrilled, and asked Mr. O if he could take care of the boys. He told me to go and enjoy the event; and to take lots of pictures!


I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a few celebrities, maybe even get an autograph. But what I didn't expect is the excitement on the red carpet. There's a certain buzz and electricity in the air when you know someone famous is making an appearance.


James Franco impressed me not just with his good looks but with his generosity - he took the time to see his fans. They were behind schedule of the screening of his new movie 127 Hours, and he told his publicist to hold on as he signed autographs. And yes, I got his autograph!!!


In three days, I saw many celebrities, and collected many autographs - Carey Mulligan, Jennifer Garner, Ben Afleck, Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner, and Catherine Deneuve. However, the highlight for me is seeing the beautiful and sweet Natalie Portman  at the premiere of Black Swan.


It was a wonderful experience, I'll definitely be back next year!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dreaming

Summer vacation may be over but we're still dreaming of this:


We're such nature lovers....let's explore the lush forest, and breathe the fresh air.


And wouldn't you love to sit here?


Oh, the cottage life! Sigh.


What a summer!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The First Day of School

This morning started nicely. I woke up the boys at 7:30 a.m, and told them to have breakfast.

They came down, ate, dressed and were ready by 8:00.

It's A.R's second year in French Immersion school.  A new bus schedule left us wondering why there were no kids waiting outside; A.R looked at me concerned, and said maybe he missed it. I told him to wait a few more minutes. Soon enough, the bus stopped in front of our house and I waved bye to my son.

Oh, these first day jitters!

J.P goes to a different school that is five minutes away; as usual we walked to school.

He was excited to see his friends, and he immediately gave me his backpack, and ran into the school yard. It was crowded with new faces; parents, teachers and children. The last time I saw J.P was in the playground.

Moments later, the school bell rang. I scanned the yard but couldn't find him.

Where the heck did he go?

All the kids had lined up, and I still couldn't find my boy!

My heart was racing when I went inside the school to look for his classroom.

Luckily, J.P was there! Thank goodness!

But he was in tears.

"Why did you leave me? You didn't give me my backpack."

"I was looking all over for you. You were supposed to line up. I was so worried. Here now, don't cry."

I wiped his tears, and kissed him. I didn't want to leave him. Not now.

I can't believe it's the first day of school, and I'm a complete wreck.

Friday, September 3, 2010

One Last Chance

September is here, and we're slowly making the transition -

new bedtime, new routine, less computer and Wii; more reading books.

And so far, it has been difficult.

This week, my boys have been nothing but trouble -

they've been driving each other crazy!

Arggh!

So glad they'll be off to school soon, to see their friends and begin a new and exciting school year.

Yes, change is good.

But first, we have one last chance to enjoy the long weekend together.

I hope you don't mind that it will be quiet here for a few days...

we just want to hold onto summer a little bit longer!


~ I'll visit soon until then have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Young Readers

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law gave me The Time Traveler's Wife to read. I told her I watched the movie but she recommended that I read the book.

So, lately I've been catching up on some summer reading.

And yesterday, it was another hot, humid day and I thought it would be nice to cool off outside in the evening.

I asked the boys if they would like to join me -  they both agreed.

I took out two folding chairs, and placed them on the patio. I sat down; my feet propped up on one of the chairs, and started reading.

Meanwhile, J.P came out with his light saber. My little Jedi Master was running, swinging and dueling with his imaginary foes.

And soon, his older brother appeared; brought out his book and an extra chair. 

Suddenly, J.P stopped playing, pondered and then rushed back inside the house.

He, too, returned with a book!

And there we were, the three of us, sitting and reading quietly as twilight fast approached.

Usually, you would see kids in the neighbourhood skateboarding, playing street hockey or just hanging out.

Not on this day!

I was pleasantly surprised to find only  young readers!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Days

It's the last week of summer vacation for the boys.

And we're having so much fun. 

Sigh.

Yesterday, we spent a picture perfect day at the beach. 

It was hot and sunny - with a cool, light breeze.

Mr.O brought the small inflatable boat, and the boys paddled; relaxed and soaked up the sun.

And each time, J.P tried to get back on the boat, his wet, soggy swim trunks kept slipping off his bottom.

It was a hilarious sight to see!

All day, we swam, splashed, laughed and played in the water.

And Mr.O kept saying it was a such beautiful day for swim.

Indeed.

There's even talk of a long weekend trip.

I'm sure the boys won't mind another getaway; sadly, their summer days are numbered.
 
They would do just about anything - other than going back to school!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Camping Trip

A week ago, we went camping in Huntsville, Ontario. It was a scenic two and half hour drive to Arrowhead Provincial Park. If you enjoy camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and cycling. Arrowhead is the park to visit!

Here are a few pictures that I captured on our trip:

We settled in South Lumby campground - a new tent nestled in the woods.


After setting up camp, we headed down to the beach. Luckily, it was only a few minutes away from our site.


The boys took an afternoon dip in Arrowhead Lake, and played in the sand for hours. J.P hollered, "Mommy, look at the turtle!"


It rained heavily the next day but when it stopped, we ventured outdoors again. What should we do? Let's take a hike to Stubb's Falls!


As we reached the end of our 2 kilometre hike, we crossed a bridge and wandered down to see this beautiful view. Isn't it lovely?


And despite three days of rain, the boys still wanted to stay longer! Somehow, nature has a magical way of extending a visit.


And no wonder, they wanted to stay.


Take a look, and you'll see why...what could be more inviting than summer's beauty and serenity?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Little Helpers

"I'm bored."

A monotonous refrain I hear every now and then.

It's tough being a kid, huh?

Playing for hours - all day long.

But believe me, it's not all about summer fun and games.

In fact, I've been keeping my boys busy - doing chores.

Every day, A.R has to practice guitar for an hour.

When I do laundry, they fold and put their clothes away.

J.P likes to set the table for meals; he's always happy to lend a helping hand.

A.R washes the dishes once in awhile; takes out the garbage and green bin.

And he even likes to make mango juice.

It's so easy to stir juice concentrate and three cups of water!

"Who wants pancakes for breakfast? Who wants to mix the batter?"

"Me!"

Oh, I just love little helpers in the kitchen!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Eaters

My boys eat well. So much so, that I go hungry for them. You can read about it here. I do my best to ensure they have a balanced meal every day. I can proudly say they don't drink soda pop, eat hard candy or chew gum. However, they like to have their desserts - chocolate and ice cream.

At the family picnic last month, my aunt approached me and gasped, "Your boys are so skinny!"

She looked at me in horror, and pointed at the two young boys playing frisbee. To me, they looked perfectly fine and healthy.

"Oh, they're big eaters."

She raised her eyebrows. Obviously, she didn't think so. I explained to her that when Mr. O was a child, he was the same way. Tall and skinny. And ate hearty meals.

What else can I say? My boys are physically active and have high metabolism. Wouldn't you love to have that? You can eat anything you want and never gain weight!

I'm not worried, one day they'll fill in.

Right now, our main concern is how long the food will last for our trip!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Sleepover

For the first time I had a peaceful sleep.

Oh, it was divine!

And how did I obtain such a heavenly slumber?

I had the boys sleepover their cousins' house.

But the sad part about it was the fact they no longer miss us.

Before we left, J.P confronted me and said, "You're still here?"

"What? You're kicking me out already!"

"When are you leaving?"

"Don't worry, soon." Sigh.

Did you hear my heart break in a million pieces?

There you have it, my little boy no longer needs his mama.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mother's Guilt

From hot, humid days to cool summer nights.  The weather here can change so quickly. And it's no surprise, I ended up catching a cold - in August!!!

I can't believe I woke up sneezing; with a runny nose and watery eyes. Luckily, I have no fever.

But the past few days, I've been feeling terrible. I just had to delay my packing - there's so much camping gear and essentials to bring. I took Mr. O's advice to rest, drink lots of fluids and have a Neo Citran before bedtime.

I'm doing everything I can to get better before we leave on our trip.

And as always, I feel badly for getting sick. The boys stayed home all week!

I hope to make it up to them in the days ahead.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Absolutely Nothing

It was a rainy day, and so, we stayed indoors.

Just relaxing.

Sounds nice and peaceful, huh?

No.

I had a pile of laundry to do, and I was getting organized for our camping trip.

I also wanted to write but writing seems so erratic these days, much like my sleep. I carried my notebook and pen from room to room; staring at a blank page.

Could I be having writer's block? Oh no!

For some reason, when I'm not writing, I don't feel very productive.

What am I to do?

The boys are playing games in their bedroom, and Mr. O is watching a movie downstairs. It's quite the uneventful day!

But I admit it's so easy to get side-tracked for a couple of hours. Oops!

And it's days like this I don't regret;  I'd rather spend time with my family even if we're doing absolutely nothing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Camping

Can you believe it's August?

Where the heck did July go?

Another month come and gone - in a blink of an eye.

And soon, it will be back to school.

But no worries, there's so much to do in August. And if there's one thing the boys are looking forward to - it's camping.

In a few weeks, we'll be headed north to enjoy the great outdoors.

With all the planning, shopping and packing, it may seem like a lot of work. However, we know the boys love camping then it's all worth it.

For them, it's an adventure - setting up camp, seeing wildlife, and going on hikes. There's also cooking simple but delicious meals, building campfires,  roasting marshmallows and gazing up at the stars. And don't forget those lazy days on the beach.

It's what we do every summer with the boys. Rain or shine -  we can't wait to go!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Feeling Glamorous

I like to keep things simple these days.

Even when it comes to dressing up, and doing my make-up.

At my age, less is more.

Last week, for the wedding reception, my sister-in-law kindly offered to do my hair. 

As you know, women like to wear black, wear more sparkle or bling in the evening. I was wearing my black cocktail dress but kept my hair down. Wasn't that enough?

I was content with the way I looked.

My parents thought it was a wonderful idea to get my hair done. My sister-in-law said it wouldn't take long to do.

Really? I agreed.

With a few bobby pins and hair spray, she put up my hair in pin curls.

And besides, we had an hour or so to kill before we headed downtown.

On our way to the reception, J.P blurted out, "Mommy, your hair looks weird."

"Oh, thanks, J.P"

Mr. O glanced at me, smiled and told me the boys are not used to me all dressed up.

True.

So much for feeling glamorous. Sigh.

Even for a day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Highlights of a Summer Wedding

It was the summer event we were all looking forward to - the wedding of a close family friend. I've known her all my life, and to finally see her tie the knot to the man she loves was very special. Here is the happy couple taking their vows.


On our way to the Toronto Board of Trade for the reception - the CN Tower is a majestic sight to see for my boys, even on a rainy Saturday afternoon.


The evening began with cocktails then buffet for dinner; continued with heartfelt speeches and wedding toasts. More pictures of the bride and groom - cutting the wedding cake.


The dessert table did not disappoint. I just had to take a picture of my plate - fruits, cupcakes, Portuguese custard tart and my favourite, the sweet popcorn in the cute white box! What a beautiful wedding! We had a marvelous time dancing the night away!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Shop Till You Drop

My shopping excursion did last three hours. I was worried that I needed more time, or perhaps, needed another day to find the perfect dress. In fact, Mr. O didn't believe that I would find nor purchase one under a hundred dollars.

I scoffed at him, and reassured him that I would. If there's one thing I like about shopping; it's finding a good deal.

You see, when I go shopping I always have a budget and I always know what I'm looking for.

It didn't take long to pick out a dress. I chose a simple yet elegant cocktail dress. Initially, the dress was over a hundred but it was slashed down to sixty dollars.

However, when I bought the dress, it was a whopping thirty-five dollars!!! Don't you just love a great buy?

And how did Mr. O do with his shopping? He needed black dress pants. Should he choose wrinkle resistant or flexible waist-line?

I giggled as I watched him make difficult decisions! 

I can see why men bring their wives shopping for clothes. The men's fitting room looked like a fashion show as husbands displayed new outfits for their wives! What a sight to see!

Finally, Mr. O decided on the flexible waist-line; he opted for comfort.

When we arrived home, he confessed that shopping was tiring; and that he was worn out making all those decisions. He crashed on the bed and slept for four hours!

For him, it was a day of shop till you drop!

And just a note, his pants cost more than my dress.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Three Hours

Did I tell you I don't get to do a lot of girlie things?

Sad but true.

I am constantly surrounded by boys and everything boys.

I love my kids but sometimes I just need a break.

So, today A.R is attending a birthday party - on a Monday evening.

Mr.O and J.P are taking him to his friend's house; and will be hanging out together.

And what am I going to do?

For three hours?

I'll be hunting for summer dresses.

Yippee!!!

There's a wedding this weekend, and I don't have anything to wear.

Good excuse, huh?

Besides, this mama needs a new one!

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Update

I'm still around.

Honestly, I thought I'd have more time to write but it's been challenging.

And I know I'm not alone.

I've read how some of you are busy, and away on holidays.

It's summer, and I completely understand how precious this time can be.

So, I say enjoy the beautiful, hot weather with your family and friends;

catch up on some summer reading, go outdoors, have the time of your life.

I'll be here, updating with simple photos, and a written post now and then.

And I'll drop by soon when I get the chance!

For now, two boys want to know if they'll go swimming today.

You know how it is....

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Busy Weekend

I can't believe this but it's actually quiet here.

The boys are still asleep, and it's 8:30 in the morning.

Shouldn't I be sleeping in too?

No.

I'm a light sleeper so when the sun rises, I'm awake.

But there's laundry and a list of chores I have to do.

This happens when you've had a busy weekend like going to a family picnic and to a birthday party.

At the picnic, we soaked up the sun, and played cards, volleyball, badminton, frisbee; and the kids spent hours in the playground.


We enjoyed some barbeque, and summer treats. It's hard work devouring the funnel cake - drizzled in strawberry sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream.


Did you bring your guitar? Let's jam with Uncle J.


I think the boys had fun all weekend especially J.P - he lost his voice from all the squealing and screaming he did with his cousin at the picnic. We told him to rest his voice at my uncle's 70th birthday party yesterday.

No wonder it's been quiet.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Heat Wave

It's been hot, hazy and humid all week.

Let's be honest, I'm not too crazy about this heat wave.

For the past few days, we've been staying indoors.

Staying cool.

Drinking lots of fluids, snacking on watermelon, cantaloupes and strawberries.

The boys don't seem to mind - they play Dungeons & Dragons all day! What a life!

I'd like to get them out again but it's just too hot!

What are we to do?

Head to the water park? Hit the shopping mall? Watch Toy Story 3?

Sounds like a plan.

What's the forecast today?

Rain.

Ahhh....

Monday, July 5, 2010

Balsam Lake

Here are a few pictures of our fun-filled day at Balsam Lake:


I always look forward to this time of year - going up north and enjoying the great outdoors. I love this image! It's so lovely and peaceful in the morning.

It was a hot summer's day but there's plenty of shade at Balsam Lake. Try lying beneath the cedar trees; taking a nap (Mr.O was happy to do so!) and enjoying the cool breeze.

And this is the reason why we come back here year after year - the boys just love the beach. They spent the whole day swimming, and playing in the sand. I added a brief video.

video

More summer adventures to come!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Movie Night Out

"Hey, what movie do you want to see? Robin Hood or The Prince of Persia?"

"Prince of Persia!!!"

I forgot I had boys.

No point in suggesting Toy Story 3. They really wanted to see this action and adventure film.

So, we decided on the 7:25pm showing. A quick dinner, shower and we were all ready to go.

When we arrived, the theatre was busy especially on a Wednesday evening. Mr. O was a little overwhelmed. I guess it has been a long time since we went to the movies. We managed to get through the crowd, eager, young Twilight fans waiting to see Eclipse.

We headed to get popcorn and drinks, and then found seats. I reminded the boys to sip their drinks slowly. So, they wouldn't have to go to the bathroom and miss parts of the movie. And I was worried that The Prince of Persia might be too scary and gory for J.P.

But it wasn't.

The boys enjoyed the film from beginning to end. They sat on the edge of their seats the whole time. If you have boys,  I think this would be a good summer movie.

I still have a few movie passes left. They're already hinting to watch The Last Airbender.

Another action, adventure, martial arts movie....sigh.

Can't we wait for that to go on DVD?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Soaker Wars

"Mommy, can I try out my super soaker?"

"Sure."

How could I refuse? It was a hot, humid evening, and J.P couldn't wait to play with his new toy. It was a birthday gift - two new blasters, one blue and the other red. What a great way to cool off!

Besides, I was gardening and I wanted to keep him busy, and out of my way.

J.P took out the blue blaster, filled it up with water and started to spray the driveway, the side of the house and my plants. His older brother no longer wanted to play with his Nintendo, and asked if he could play with the other.

And soon, the soaker wars began.

With rapid fire action, J.P made his assault on his unsuspecting brother. A.R took cover behind the car, the crab apple tree, and even behind his gardening mother!

I was caught in crossfire, showered in a barrage of cold water. Delirious laughter and screams filled the air.

It was sheer joy, pandemonium and wild fun!

And the boys were drenched from head to toe.

Maybe I should have asked them to change first and wear their swim trunks. What was I thinking?

When we headed inside, I found puddles in my kitchen, and a trail of wet footprints on the carpet.

Mr. O asked if I took pictures. Sadly, I did not. How could I?

Next time I'll be ready ...with my super soaker shot blaster!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Last Day of School

I took my time this morning.

There was no need to rush.

Yes, it's true I like to be organized and on time.

But not today - it's the last day of school!

Yippee!!!

So, I let the boys wake up later than usual, and prepare their own breakfast. (Leave their favorite cereal on the table.)

I get funny looks from them as they get ready for school.

Am I more excited than the boys?

You bet.

I won't have to pack another lunch until September!

Hmm, I wonder what we'll do tomorrow?

Sleep in? Hit the pool?

Or shall we have more banana cake, and ice cream?

Ahh...summer.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Just Because...

I don't consider myself superstitious but I've realized there are a few things I do, and I don't know why I do them. Does this make me superstitious? I think it has been passed down from generation to generation; my family always tell me not to do certain things. I ask them why, and I'm given an answer, "Just because..it's good luck and bad luck."

Here are some superstitions:

I don't like bugs in general especially spiders, and beetles. I'll remove them immediately but if I see a lady bug, I'll keep it inside the house. They're considered lucky.

When I celebrate my birthday, it will be on the exact date, or a day after. Never before.

When I enter a new church, I always make a wish.

When I give a purse as a gift, I never leave it empty. I always add coins for wealth and good luck.

When someone is lying down on the floor, you shouldn't walk over them. Mr.O always reminds me not to do this! Bad omen.

When you're having a meal and someone is leaving the house, you must turn your plate. This is to ensure a safe travel!

And you know what?

I find myself telling the kids to keep the lady bug in the house!

Why? Well, just because...

~ What about you? Are you superstitious? Do you avoid cracks in the pavement? Or have a lucky number?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Loud

Lately, it's been noisy around here.

Construction. Renovations. World cup fever. You get the picture, right?

Everywhere I go, it's loud.

Yes, I realize the kids are excited that it's summer, and that school is almost over. But does that mean they have to run wildly around the house, or play Nintendo with their voices drowning out the television set?

Mr.O cannot watch a soccer game without having to crank up the volume.

I'm very concerned for their hearing especially the boys. I don't allow them to wear a headset when they play computer games, or listen to music.

It's a battle to keep noise levels down. I like my peace and quiet.

"Turn down the volume."

"Huh? What did you say?"

Even though, they heard me the second time, the silence won't last long.

And with all this racket, it's hard to think. To write.

Sigh

It's going to be a long summer.

That's why I'll be posting more pictures for the summer vacation. I hope you don't mind. (I love taking pictures with my new camera!)

I'll still write, however, I'll just be posting at weird hours.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Weekend of Celebrations

Last Friday it was J.P's birthday but the celebrations didn't stop there. We also celebrated my niece's birthday, Father's Day and our 12th wedding anniversary over the weekend.



After A.R's guitar lessons on Saturday, we headed out west to London, Ontario. My cousin's daughter turned one, and was having a birthday party. We hadn't seen them in a long time, and a visit was long overdue. It was a three-hour trip - I must say it was a scenic and adventurous drive; we ended up getting lost but we managed to find our way. Whew! Luckily, the boys are used to long driving! Upon arriving, it didn't take long for J.P to find the bouncing castle! The boys had fun playing pirates, video games and filled their bellies with ice cream cake, snow cones and cotton candy.


And on Sunday, the festivities continued with a birthday/anniversary lunch party with our families. Here's J.P and his uncle at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We watched and cheered the World Cup soccer matches during lunch.


Now, I'm exhausted after a busy weekend of celebrations. I'm going to take a few days off to recuperate; I'm feeling sick and need some time to rest. And to think it's the last week of school for the boys. Imagine what next week will be like?