BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twelve Drummers Drumming

Our calendar of activities is ending today.  The only snag was that Uliana has been a bit under the weather and wasn't in a party mode for her 2nd birthday. However, I did post the recipe for her birthday cake on my other blog: Candy Cane Ice Cream Cake.  With our gluten/sugar/egg free diet, ice cream cakes are the one thing we all can eat!  (Provided we don't invite along the dairy free members of our family).

Here are a few more things that we did this month.

We checked out the downtown Christmas Ferris Wheel. (Though we didn't ride it this year... as the line up was at least an hour and a half long.  Besides... one member of our party was officially too short to be let on, and she would likely take exception to that fact.)
We went to see Bear Wear.
And the giant, two story tall, living Christmas tree at the legislative assembly.
Now, I'm gratefully looking forward to a few days of relaxing with the kids.  They both still seem pretty off kilter (from November).  Brad's taking a few days off work, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to use that time to refill everyone's buckets.  (A children's metaphor for our emotional self.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

A partridge in a pear tree

Victoria is a city of celebration and festivals, and Christmas is no exception.  We have an advent calendar that delivers up a different activity every day.  And there is so much to see and do.

Here are a few of the things we've done so far in out count down to Christmas.

Tree at the Empress... Nikolai's the Lego Builders' Society Tree:

And Uliana liked this tree:

We went to see the Parade of Lights:

And we went to see the Gingerbread Houses at Laurel Point... everyone's favourite was the Hobbit House!

Next week Nikolai's class has some Christmas fun every day.  His teacher is very energetic (she's a cyclist) and enthusiastic.  They are having a PJ party, doing a fundraiser for AIDS orphans, taking a trip to explore an old-fashioned Christmas just to name a few.  The Christmas fun doesn't end!

Friday, November 28, 2014

On empty rings around the sun

November barely happened.  It was something we went through, and now I suddenly find myself looking at the calendar, about to turn the page into December.

Brad's father passed away.  I don't know what to say.  Though we knew he was sick, it still felt sudden, surprising, and raw.

I have no photos from this month.  Nothing to share.  Beyond our stress.  We all took turns getting sick.  We rotated in and out of the doctor's office, with one trip to the hospital with Uliana.  Brad and I both had unmanageable work deadlines. Life was borne. That was November.

I'm definitely ready to turn the calendar page. December is a blank slate full of promise.

Here's a photo from October.  Our family themed Halloween costumes.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Est-ce que tu as peur de cette nuit?

Happy Halloween!  Maybe tomorrow I'll have a photo of our family themed costume.  But for now, I thought I'd post a photo of just the kids.  Can you guess our theme?

And last weekend we went to Castlegar to visit with Baba and Deda!  We lucked out with decent weather (though us Islanders found 9 C to be cold):

And we all enjoyed listening to Baba read some stories.

The only downside was the fact that Nikolai was sick with the flu for the WHOLE trip!

And here's something I found to be a bit weird.  Uliana wasn't given a lap belt for ANY of our 4 flights.  As the airline hosts explained... we were to hold her in a "burping position" with one arm, and keep the other arm braced against the seat in front of us.  As though I could hold a 26 lbs screaming toddler for all those landing and take offs!  Though I will admit we took out an insurance policy on good behaviour, by handing her a lollipop for each of the flights.  It was her first real dose of sugar, and we can now safely say that she doesn't seem to have inherited Nikolai's sucrose sensitivity!

And here's a few photos of Uliana.  We're rounding up to 22 months, and she always amazes me with her go-getter gumption.  At this age they are changing everyday.  This week she's mastered her colours, counting to 10 and insists on doing most things herself.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank you for the fun!

We have had an absolutely crazy busy Thanksgiving weekend.  It's fairly typical to have Thanksgiving coincide with Brad and my Dad's shared birthday weekend...  but things go out the window crazy when you throw in a few extra visitors, and my family full of crazy food allergies.

I think I might deserve a crown for making 2 birthday cakes, and 2 pumpkin pies!  Each event required double desserts because I didn't think I could make an egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, corn-free, oat-free dessert that would be anything worth bragging about.

And it wasn't.  This blueberry cake was totally free of anything worth bragging about (besides the blueberries), and it was dense.  The only real bonus was that everyone could eat it and it was technically "healthy" (because it was naturally free of anything that could possibly be unhealthy).

Don't worry Brad, you don't have to eat that lemon-blueberry brick...  I also made a delicious chocolate pear cake!  And those who were lucky enough to eat the chocolate pear cake, asked if I would share the recipe, so I've included it at the bottom of this post.

The grand finale of weekend was when Claire and Colin spent the night with Uliana and Nikolai so that I could have my first night off of kid-wake up duty in over 2 years.  (Brad also got the night off, but... between work trips and various holidays... he's had more than a few nights off in the last little while).

We went to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, spent about 30 minutes soaking in the seaside hot tubs before falling asleep.  We literally were practically comatose as of 7 pm.  Clearly we needed to catch up on our sleep!  THANK YOU CLAIRE AND COLIN!!!

As for the kids, they barely seemed to notice that we had left!  All Nikolai had to say was that "Colin sleeps in REALLY late".  For the record, really late was 7:40am.  But I guess that is forEVER if you wake up at 6am.

Here's some photos of bubble blowing at Fisherman's wharf in our birthday party clothes.

Chocolate Upright Pear Cake

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup ground almond (or coconut)
4-5 ripe pears

Line a 21 cm cake spring-form cake pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients and milk, stir until just combined. Spread evenly in a cake pan.

Cut a slice off the bottom of the pears so that they stand upright. Arrange them stem side up pushing them to the bottom of the cake pan, leaving a boarder of cake around the edge of the cake pan. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour until set. The centre will be gooey because of the pear juice. Let cool for 15 min before taking it out of the cake pan.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Bonjour mes amis!

The strike is finally over!  And hopefully by next week, we will have settled down into our usual routine.  Phew!

Classes officially started last week.  Though due to some changes in the teachers' contracts, classes needed to be reshuffled. So last week Nikolai bounced between various classrooms and teachers.  He didn't land into his final classroom assignment until this Monday.

Which means this week is full of catch up from a month of disarray.  Today is the Terry Fox Run, tomorrow is Class Pictures Day and Friday is the first hot lunch day.  He starts with the swim club tomorrow and has his music class on Fridays.

Meanwhile, I have been doing child care swaps with Uliana (got to get writing!), going to playgroups and kinder-gyms.  Suddenly the free and easy days of summer have transformed into a fully scheduled fall.

Even our weekends aren't that footloose and fancy free, as Nikolai suddenly has party invitations piling up!  One of the advantages of befriending many of the boys AND the girls in his classes. Although it's always a challenge for me to deal with the treats and cake that come along with the parties.  

Here's some photos from Nikolai's first day at school.  Looking like a serious first-grader.

Finally going back!
Uliana enjoying some fall fruit.
Her hair does go curly when it gets wet.  The only trick is that washing her hair is a bit like trying to wash a cat.  Even earplugs don't help block the screaming... so it doesn't happen that often.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The endless summer

School was out two weeks early, because the teachers went on strike.  Now we're into our fifth week of strike... and Nikolai is getting bored.  Summer holidays were different.  We were busy, visiting, doing, going.  There's not as much happening during September.  The concerts in the park are finished, the water parks are closed, and it just seems that much more difficult to find activities that will keep both a 6 year old and a 20 month old entertained.

Though I can't complain too much.  The weather has been fantastic, and Victoria still loves to have festivals.

Nevertheless, I haven't had as much time to blog as I would have liked!  Here are some pics from the past few weeks:

Nikolai apparently reacts to bee stings (though not as badly as his Auntie Claire).
And us Island dwellers can't help but spend time at the beach... (Nikolai did eventually take the time to get his swim trunks on... he was just too excited to start digging).
They had some retro schooling (how "old school" can you go?)
And what would life be like if you didn't take a few walks in the woods?

Even when you have to cross a broken bridge.
This weekend we went to the Historical Artifacts Society's threshing party. Nikolai was fascinated by all the steam powered machines...

Uliana preferred riding on the miniature railway!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

And then we'll take it slow

We spent last week in a cottage on Pender Island.  Though the cottage had a number of visitors who rotated through, the kids and I got to relax and enjoy the scenery.

The cottage was primarily chosen because it was within walking distance of the ferry.  However, it also had access to some pretty spiffy amenities, including a pool!
Claire and Colin also spent a few days at the cottage, and Brad found willing fishing companions in Colin and Nikolai.

We ate a lot of amazing food.  Here's Brad's BBQ'ed pizza and my BBQ'ed peaches.
Summer is fast coming to a close, but we still don't know what is going to happen with school.  The teacher's strike is still on, and classes are unlikely to resume as scheduled next week...

Friday, August 08, 2014

Big City Streets

We spent the past week in Vancouver... the land of sushi, old friends, and family!  Like all our trips to Vancouver, we had a pretty jam-packed schedule of visiting people.  Thankfully Uliana is mostly over her 18 month shy period and she was happy to socialize with all the people we got to hang out with.

Here are a few of my favourite photos from the trip.  We went to The Spanish Banks.
And Science World

Nikolai even got to volunteer in one of the presentations.
Then the batteries in the camera ran out... so no pictures of the kids enjoying sushi (twice), or the trip to the Aquarium, or any of the many other fun adventures that we had.  But I have a theory that all the best moments occur when there isn't a camera in our hands... and our trip was full of fantastic moments.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Let's do it again!

We loved camping on Saltspring Island so much when we went in June, that we decided to do it again!

This time we brought Auntie Claire and Colin.  We also brought Brad, which meant a much higher child-to-adult ratio and generally made for a more relaxing trip.

So we toured the Saltspring Island Cheese dairy.
Did some tight rope walking at the farmer's market.
Got messy with the delicious gluten free vegan poutine.
Uliana's really gotten into swimming in the ocean lately.  It's was pretty darn chilly, and only Brad was brave enough to join her. (Though maybe it's just that he has a stronger parenting instinct?  There was no way I was going in.)  She spent the whole time hollering at Nikolai, trying to convince him to join her without much success.
But the real kudos for the trip goes out to Colin, who literally was picked up from the airport and taken camping.  Due to the jet lag resulting from his arrival from London, and the fact that he stayed up for nearly 27 hours straight without any real caffeine, he had the most amazing sleep ever... and was likely the only one in the campground to sleep through Uliana's 2 am tantrum!
Just one final photo... taken by one of Brad's co-workers, who was surprised to see us cycling along heavily loaded.  Brad carried all our gear and Uliana (using a tricky combination of 4 panniers, the baby seat and the baby trailer), and I towed along Nikolai.  I barely made it, but Brad was pretty smooth sailing.  I guess all that racing does help!  Though I would like to say in my defense that Nikolai is at least double Uliana's weight, and he spent most of the time coasting, not pedaling!
(Clearly he has a better camera than I do...) :-)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Days

What does one do with the lazy days of summer?

Go blueberry picking.
Attend an old-fashioned penny fair at the Royal BC Museum.
Have a picnic at a concert in the park.
Give your bike a new paint job then take it for a spin.
Or just chill out at home.
In all this fun, there is one person around here that suddenly wants to be taken VERY seriously.
At just 18 months, Uliana has decided that she can do it all on her own.  Forget about trying to dress that kid, help her brush her teeth, or put on her bike helmet.  She refuses to use her high chair, or a bib.  And she'll throw a temper tanturm if some other kid decides to use the slide at the park.  I just have to wonder whats in store for us for the next 6 months as we pull up to her 2nd birthday and the promise of "terrible twos"!

In addition to the chorus of "on own" and "me do it" she does have a good party trick... she already knows how to sing along to several songs in tune!  (And not all of those are kids songs... as Mama likes to listen to Grooveshark).