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Gus’ 6th Birthday!

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“Drip, Drop, Goop & Slime, Let’s be Mad Scientists for a day, and have a great time!” read the invitation that requested Gus’ friends join him in his lab, to help him celebrate his 6th birthday.  The day was sunny and beautiful, as the weather usually is on September 26th, which was perfect for our back yard party and twenty-two children.  Each guest received a lab coat and safety glasses to prepare them for a visit from Mad Science’s Jupiter Julie.  Jupiter Julie did an amazing job of keeping the attention of most children for an hour with various science experiments, which included dry ice, a soda geyser, and each child making their own silly slime.  To otherwise keep everyone busy, there was a bounce house, bubble solution, a sand table, foose ball and the play structure.  Everyone dined on pizza and of course, cake!  At Gus’ request, the cake was a two-layered (pineapple bliss) cake with green icing between the layers, and white icing on the outside.  To make it sciency, I put an erlenmeyer flask on it using sprinkles.  It seemed like everyone had a great time, especially Gus, who wore a huge smile the entire time.  His friends were super generous and thoughtful and gifted many science projects that will keep us using our thinking caps through the fall and winter.  Happy Birthday Gus!  We love you so much.

Cottage Vacation 2015

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Although this was only my second year spending a week at a cottage with my Mortimer family, it’s the sixth year of this tradition, and from what I understood, this was the best year yet. Beachwood Hollow Resort in Tweed was our home for the week this year. For the first time, we rented four individual cottages rather than one large one, which gave everyone (8 adults, 8 children) a little more space and privacy. We arrived to find our cottages pretty run down, or “rustic” as the ad stated, but very close together and in their own section of the resort, with a large, treed, green space out front and a beautiful view of Lake Stoco. We all loved the freedom that came with having family as neighbours. Hearing statements like “I’m going to see if Gram is awake” or “I’m going to Nora’s to do a craft” became commonplace. With the exception of breakfast, we ate most of our meals together outside. Us kids even had the chance to help with dish duty since Gram brought her old camp wash basins and set up a wash station for us. The weather was cool-ish most of the week, but that didn’t prevent us from making use of the large sandy beach, the kid-perfect swimming area and the water slides and floating ‘lilly pad’. Aunt Lisa and Uncle Erick brought their canoe, so Mommy made sure I had my requisite annual canoe ride, which I quite enjoyed. Since good nights of sleep were elusive during vacation, I squeezed in two naps daily, but I know the big kids spent their extra time painting, doing play-doh, crafting or having an afternoon bonfire with s’mores. When I was awake, and Sam was too, we optimized our time hanging out together! To Gus’ delight, Gram and Aunt Lisa threw him a surprise birthday party! They did an amazing job of decorating with a Paw Partol theme, and had fun activities to go along with it, like a paper airplane toss, water squirter target practice, a treasure hunt, and bingo. Having a lemonade stand had been on Gus’ bucket list for a few summers now, so Daddy helped him fulfull this dream, which was generously supported by our family, of course, but also by some of the other guests at the resort. Isla, followed up with a ‘free stand’ that afternoon and handed out goldfish crackers. Such entrepenures! The town of Tweed hosts an annual Elvis festival, and one of the impersonators was staying at the resort. I’m quite certain the adults snuck out after bedtime one night to watch him perform in the rec hall – one of the nights they weren’t up late painting or playing cards. Tweed is also home to North America’s Smallest Jail House, which we were sure to check out. To close out the week, Uncle Lornie, Aunt Joan, Aunt Cathy and Aunt Gladys made the trip to spend Friday with us. They arrived before lunch and stayed until well after dinner. It made for a leisurely day of playing and catching-up, which was the perfect end to a wonderful week. I know is just ended, but I can’t wait to see what year seven has in store for us.
… Becca

Rebecca 19 months

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I started out the month with a trip to Dinosaur Field Station. Those animatronic creatures made me nervous at first, but it didn’t a take me long to warm up and seek them out myself. I also visited Linden Lanes for my first  game of bowling. Although my score wasn’t great, I did enjoy rolling the balls down the dinosaur like ball ramp. The remainder of the month was spent hanging out in the Valley, and I had a wonderful time doing so. We kicked off our visit with an afternoon play date at Abby, Isla & Sam’s house. Sam was as big as I was, and on the move, so we had fun together! That evening Gram Berny joined us for dinner at Grandam Cathy’s, where we swam in pool, jumped on the trampoline and petted “Jetta”. The next two days entailed Devin, Carter & Fallon, Abby, Isla & Sam, and Gus, Calina & I, seeing each other at various times in various locations.  It was like a non-stop cousins play date! Alice In Wonderland was the theme of Nora’s amazing 4th birthday!  Aunt Lisa did such a fantastic job recreating the fantasy world that it felt as though we had all fallen down the rabbit hole! The splash pad at Robert Simpson park was the perfect venue for a lunch play date with friends Evan & Nora on Monday. The best part was seeing them again that night, as well as Ethan & Lorelai and Audrey & Diana, for pizza dinner when we got together with Mom’s high school girl friends at the Howard’s. Tuesday I was feverish, but that didn’t stop me from going to the Canadian Children’s Museum in Ottawa for the day. Despite not feeling well, I had fun on my round-the-world adventure.  Auntie Cindy’s was the place to be for a picnic lunch on Wednesday. She spoiled us with cute little sandwiches, fruit skewers, crafts and bubbles, and a tour of her beautiful gardens. Feeding goats, riding the train and climbing on all the structures at Valleyview Little Animal farm was a great way to spend a sunny Thursday.  We closed out our first full week with a visit from Owen & Clara, and a family camp out at Grandma Cathy & Grandpa Mike’s.  Although I enjoyed the campfire and s’mores, I opted to sleep inside with Daddy & Gus.  The next outing was Monday evening for dinner with the Steele Family – we always have so much fun with Zoë & James.  We were up early on Tuesday morning and off to Mont Cascade with all my Mortimer cousins for a day at the water park!  I had a blast slipping down the all the slides in the children’s area, with Mommy’s assistance of course.  Thursday was a day for celebrating!  Calina turned 4 and we had a pool party in her honour.  Despite the pouring rain, we still had fun because there was family and cupcakes.  To close out the second week, we had a blast with the Moodies, Nixons and MacPhersons – but how could we not have fun when 11 children get together?  Even with my crazy activity schedule, I still had time to  accomplish voluntarily putting my face in the water while swimming, and identifying many of my body parts.  My vocabulary exploded and I had tons of new words, like “mine” when I meant, ‘I can do it myself’.  My favourite thing to give away was knee hugs to my most loved adults.     …Becca

Calina 3 years 12 months

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This month was all about the activities:  making tie-dye shirts, visiting Dinosaur Field Station, going bowling, celebrating Sean’s 6th birthday at Pump-It-Up, celebrating Elena & Thomas’s birthday (where I got to see Silly Billy and his reptiles again), picking vegetables from the garden.

I also had a week of sports camp.  In the scorching heat of the mid-day sun I learned about soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and t-ball.  Although I was excited about the idea of going to sports camp, something special, just for me, I wasn’t so excited about participating.  I did well the first day, but the four following days, I spent more sipping water on the sidelines or standing in the field like a statue.

We traveled to Canada for vacation, where the fun continued with: Nora’s Alice In Wonderland themed 4th birthday party, a visit to the splash pad at Robert Simpson Park, a day at the Canadian Children’s Museum, a visit to Valleyview Little Animal Farm, a family camp-out at Grandma Cathy & Grandpa Mike’s with all my cousins, and a day at Mont Cascade water park.  Plus there were multiple play dates with friends and family.

I can be described as obstinate at times, and this month was no exception.  I was totally unwilling to try new foods and meals that I had previously enjoyed.  My response to most foods offered to me was “yuck!”.


Happy 4th Birthday Calina!

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Feisty, fierce and four!  Happy Birthday to me!  The day started with a cupcake breakfast and a game of magic cards with Gus, and continued on in a quiet and leisurely manner, until the real fun started at 4pm.  I figured a pool party at Grandma Cathy & Grandpa Mike’s was the best way to share my special day with all my family.  Although the forecast called for rain, the skies didn’t really threaten all day, but just as the guests arrived, the clouds rolled in and it poured – hard.  A few guests braved the rain for a dip in the pool, but it was short-lived, and the party was officially moved inside.  So much for the water balloons, bouncy castle and bubbles.  Ten children and twelve adults made for a fun, crazy and noisy few hours.  For dinner we shared a meal of hamburgers and hot dogs, mac’n’cheese, deviled eggs  and assorted salads.  After everyone sang happy birthday to me, which made me feel so special, we satisfied our sweet tooths with adorable beach themed cupcakes.  The evening ended with me opening several thoughtful and generous gifts.  I went to bed feeling very spoiled and very well-loved!     …Calina

Calina’s 4 year old interview

What do you want to be when you grow up?  A fire fighter or a hospital person

Favourite colour? Red

Favourite food? Pancakes

Favourite dessert? Cake & cupcakes

Favourite drink? Milk & water & juice

Favourite fruit? Strawberries

Favourite snack? Melted cheese with crackers

Favourite friends? Becca & Gus

Favourite TV show? Diego

Favourite activity? Go on the swings

Favourite Book? Dora series

What are you really good at? Math

Favourite animal? Cats & dogs & elephants because they give us a little shower

Favourite thing to do outside? Run & play ball

I’m afraid of _____________? The dark

Favourite iPad activity? Play games

Favourite thing to wear? Jammies

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? Kidz Village

Favourite holiday? All of them

Favourite season?  All

What makes you feel happy?  You (Mommy) & Dad & Gram & Becca & Gus

What makes you feel sad? When everybody is away from me

Favourite thing to do with Dad? Play on the iPad

Favourite thing to do with Mom? Play games

Favourite thing to do with Gus? Play on the iPad

Favourite thing to do with Rebecca? Play easy games so she knows how, like hide’n’seek

July 2015

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    Unfortunately Canad Day went under celebrate this year.  We spent the morning at the pool, but I spent the afternoon on the couch with the flu.

  • We started the 4th of July off with a bang!  James and Gus ran the 1-mile (1.609 km) fun run, and I ran the firecracker 4-miler (6.437 km).  After a relaxed afternoon on the back deck, we joined our neighbours for their annual party, complete with dinner and a wonderful view of our town’s fireworks.
  • Gus and Calina finished up their second week of swim lessons.  Wow!  What a difference being in the pool every day made for these little fish.  By the end of the month, Gus was swimming, jumping off the diving board and going down the water slides, all on his own!
  • James organized pick-up soccer games for the month, and had fun with Gus & Calina and the other players that joined in.
  • Gus attended a week long, morning camp at Trailside Nature Center.  His program was all about dinosaurs and the seasons.  He had a great week, and is looking forward to going again next summer.
  • Calina attended a week long, one hour/day sports camp, where she played soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and t-ball.
  • We enjoyed many lunches and dinners outside at the picnic table.  Even though it’s extra work to get everything out there, I love eating outside in the summer!
  • We have a pool on our back deck, and significant amounts of time were spent swimming there.  James purchased a larger, round pool early this month when our smaller, rectangular one couldn’t be patched up any more.
  •  Gus, Calina and I have had lots of fun doing various science experiments and other activities this month.  Erupting volcanoes, pollinating flowers, making lemonade, creating a rainbow in a jar, making tie-dye shirts, blowing up balloons with a chemical reaction, mixing up glow in the dark jello, growing crystals, sewing dolls and building structures out of spaghetti and marshmallows.
  • This all tied in nicely with Gus’ recent desire to be a scientist.  Reading about Peter Park in Spiderman sparked his interest.
  • We spent two nights camping with friends at Bass River State Forest.  Check out Becca’s blog for more details.  A few days afterwards we discovered a tiny tick in Gus’ hair.  Based on how it looked, it had been feeding for 3-5 days.  Ewwww!  We removed the tick and sent it away for testing.  Thankfully the results came back negative for lyme disease.
  • We had heard good things about the Bergan County Zoo, so we had to see it for ourselves.  The kids and I made the hour long drive, and had a great time at this little, but impressive zoo.  The train and carousel rides as well as the amazing playground, certainly helped make our day extra fun.
  • The whole family enjoyed an afternoon at Dinosaur Field Station.  We got up close to life size animatronic dinosaurs.  Calina and Rebecca were a little nervous at first, but warmed up to these huge creatures quite quickly.  We watched a presentation where we met a ‘real’ T-Rex, dug for dinosaur bones, clicked together LaQ tiles and made origami dinosaurs.  It was a really fun afternoon.
  • Two years ago, for Gus’ 4th birthday, Silly Billy the Lizard Guy came to our house to show us his very cool reptiles.  We were thrilled to see him again this month at Thomas & Elena’s birthday party.
  • We kept ourselves entertained for an hour or so one afternoon with a game of blowing.  With the bumpers up, and a green dinosaur ball ramp, all three kids had fun rolling balls and knocking down pins.
  • At book club this month we discussed A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar.
  • James had a conference in Princeton for the last week of the month.  We dropped him off at the train on Monday morning and drove down to pick him up on Friday afternoon.  Since the VanBodegom Family lives in Princeton, we spent the afternoon and evening with them.  We swam for hours and enjoyed a delicious Mediterranean dinner prepared by Annu.  We left far too late because it was hard to say good-bye.
  • All month long we enjoyed some treats from our small garden.  The green beans and yellow cherry tomatoes were the most plentiful, and the few peas we got were delicious.  As the month drew to a close, my front flower beds looked terrible from neglect.  They were overgrown with weeds and suffering from a lack of water.  The only thing impressive iwas the climbing morning glory, which we started from seed on Earth Day in April.


Rebecca 18 months

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Mommy & Daddy kept mentioning that they wanted to bottle up my cuteness. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m running out! Some of my recent cute things were, when I blew on food that was hot, or when I spat while brushing my teeth. There was also my frequent requests to go on the “weeee” (swing) and “sigh”(slide). Maybe it was my fascination with nighttime that they wanted to remember. I loved going “ow-tie” (outside) into the “daw” (dark) to see the “moon” and “tar” (stars), so much that I would wake around midnight and ask to see all these things. Perhaps it was my keen ear and eye for planes in the sky. I was quick to locate them and point them out to everyone. Hmmm! I’m not quite sure. Could it have been the siren sound I made? “We-ewe-we-ewe-we-ewe”
At my recent doctor appointment I weighed in at 20 pounds 5 ounces and measured 32 inches tall. Speaking of growing, I sprouted six new teeth in the past month. Needless to say I had some tough times. And that is likely why “new-nos” (noodles) are my favourite food – soft and easy to chew with swollen, sore gums. Speaking of sore, Mommy loved to put my hair into adoarable pigtails, but everytime I saw her coming with the comb, I said “ouch”, shook my head ‘no’ and ran away. She was really quite gentle, but I saw Calina do this all the time, so I did it too. I took an interest in the potty. I enjoyed sitting on it, fully clothed, and stuffing toilet paper between my legs into the bowl. I started saying my name – “Beba”, and I also constructed two, two-word phrases, that I used regularly: “I know” and “hi puppy”. I also used a very definite head nod along with a casual “yeah” to show my agreement or approval. My favourite book was “La La La” (Moo, Baa, La La La) by Sandra Boynton.
I spent a lot of time at the community pool this month and quite enjoyed the water, as long as I could touch bottom. I was even comfortable enough to blow bubbles once in a while. Otherwise, I passed the month with a trip to Insectropolis where I saw a tarantula, giant millipede, hissihg cockroach and a scorpian up close. The animals and performers at the Zerbini Family CIrcus captured my attention so much that I very contently sat through the show. We checked out the Bergan County Zoo, where I loved seeing the animals, and enjoyed riding the train and carousel. But really, the highlight was two nights of camping at Bass River State Forest, where I was free to pick and eat blueberries all weekend long

Calina 3 years 11 months

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– Since I didn’t enjoy having my hair brushed, and I awoke most mornings with, what we called, a rat’s nest at the back of my head, Mom gave me an ultimatum – either I let her comb my hair every morning and put it into pony tails or I get it cut off.  I happily agreed to a hair cut and now I have a cute bob for the summer.

– Sporting my new due, I attended my neighbour, Sienna’s, 7th birthday party.  The spa themed party was super cool.  I had my hair curled, make up done and nails painted.

– I stopped eating all fruit.  This isn’t so cool because I don’t eat many veggies either.  I have Mom totally stressed out.

– I had some “invisible friends” that I spoke with on occasion.  It was really cute when I talked to them because I turned to look at them, nodded my head, and then verbally acknowledged what they had said to me.

– By the end of last summer I was quite a little fish – swimming, putting my face in the water – but when I returned to the pool this summer, my skills were rusty and I was hesitant.  But two weeks of daily swim lessons, and a pair of new goggles, helped get my skills and fish status back.

– It had been a few years since my last trip to Toy R Us, and I didn’t understand what this store was all about, so when I entered the store I exclaimed “WOW! The toy aisle is the first aisle inside the door!”

– I could be labeled as a hypochondriac.  In the spring I endured a cough for several weeks, which went away and then came back again, but that was months ago.  Recently, I had an instant where I had a big cough, reminiscent of my cough in the spring.  For days, maybe even weeks, afterwards, I would warn people to stay away or not share my drink/food because they were “going to get my sickness!”

– Rebecca is now 18 months old, and I have finally fallen into my role as a wonderful big sister.  I loved to hold her hand and help her walk, gave her kisses and hugs, and at times, played nicely with her.

– Mom has been attempting to keep Gus and I entertained, stimulated and busy this summer.  We’ve done some fun science experiments, for which I was always eager to participate.  I think blowing up balloons with a chemical reaction has been my favourite thus far.

Notable quote: “I’m training on it”  – about not wearing pull-ups to bed.

Highlights of the month:

– A day at the Avon-by-sea beach playing in the sand and surf.

– Visiting Insectropolis where I touched a tarantula, a scorpion, a giant millipede and a hissing cockroach.

– Celebrating the 4th of July at our neighbours and staying up late to watch the fireworks.

– Camping at Bass River State Forest with friends, and canoeing down the Wading river.

– Visiting the Bergen County Zoo.

Camping – Bass River State Forest

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I can finally check ‘blueberry picking in the Pine Barrens’ off my list of things to do from my Good Night New Jersey book.  I spent two nights camping at Bass River State Forest along with the Nesheiwat and Friedman families – a total of six adults and six children – and boy did we have a great time!  We arrived Friday afternoon to find large, open sites surrounded by blueberry plants, which were loaded with berries, ripe for the picking.  I made it my mission to pick and eat as many as I could!  The sandy ground made the perfect place for us kids to dig and play, which we did a lot of.  When we weren’t digging, we could be found at the swing set across from our site.  The first night we had our usual meal of tin-foil dinners, and we followed it up with s’mores made in waffle cones and popcorn cooked on the fire.  Since the bugs weren’t too bad, we were happy to hunt for daddy long legs and play until dark with glow sticks.  While I was drifting off to sleep I could hear Monte telling scary stories, and then Layla, Dylan, Sean, Gus and Calina telling their own ghost stories in the kids play tent.  Excited about what day two would bring, I awoke at 5:30 and was unwilling to go back to sleep.  Mom and I passed the first few hours of the day walking around the camp ground and playing at the playground.  After our egg-wrap breakfast, Mommy & I saw Holly, George & Sean, Daddy, Gus & Calina off on their afternoon-long canoe trip down the Wading river, at which point, we decided to spend a few hours at the beach with Katie, Layla & Dylan.  Upon waking from a big nap, I was happy to hear all about the canoe trip down the shady, shallow, winding river, where they played on a rope swing and surfed in the current.  Returning to our site for chili dinner, the big kids where delighted to meet our new back-site neighbours who had children their age.  This gaggle of kids ran together and played hard all evening.  While camping made Calina generous with unprompted compliments and love, it made Gus exhausted and over-tired which resulted in a bedtime meltdown, and a serious case of the grumpies on Sunday morning.  Luckily I started my day at 5:30 again – so I was able to enjoy the quiet of the morning with a long drive.  After breakfast we packed up and said our good-byes.  All grumpiness aside, we had a lot of fun camping with friends in the Pine Barrens.

… Becca


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