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Rebecca 10 Months

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Double digits already!  I learned tons of new things this past month.  I babbled – a lot – with the most impressive sounds being “muh”, “mum” and “muh-ma”.  Although I could make the sign for ‘all done’, I often got my point across by  blowing raspberries with my tongue stuck out.  My mouth was also busy making funny sounds that were the result of pushing my tongue in and out of my mouth or rubbing my hand against my lips.  My hands were occupied with clapping, waving, giving high-fives  and reaching out so I could get picked up.  My wave was super adorable – an extended straight arm, that moved very slightly from side to side.  I was sure to practice it after every nap when I said bye-bye to my soothers.  When I had to say good-bye to Daddy, I did so with gentle little head bonks.  My favourite game was peek-a-boo, especially when going to bed.  I loved pulling blankets up over my head and then pulling them down and giggling.  I continued to be a climber – if I could get a knee on it, I was on top of it.  I was also happy to pull things out of cupboards, removed books from shelves and clear everything off the coffee table.  On the food front, I really enjoyed yogurt, meat, peas, green beans, squash and any sort of carbohydrate.  Finger foods were certainly my preferred way to eat, and I wanted to feed myself anything offered on a spoon.  Something I fell in love with were shoes.  I have zero interest in wearing them, but there are two pair in particular that I had to look at everyday and carry around – at least a little bit.  Toques on the other hand, I was not so in love with.  I liked trying to put them on, but I did not want to wear them.  I celebrated my first Halloween!  I dressed as a dragon and from the comfort of my stroller watched Gus, Calina and friends knock on strangers doors and receive candy.  A strange ritual.  The highlight of the month was having Aunt Lisa, Uncle Erick, Nora and Felix visit.  I loved hanging out with them for three full days.  Otherwise, a visit to Ort Farm, the Pumpkin Sail and the Brick Fair were notable activities.     …Becca

Calina 3 years 3 months

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- I attended three birthday parties this month, one for our friend Alana who turned five, one for my classmate Kyle who turned four, and one for my friend Claire who turned three.  Alana’s birthday was a very fun day for the whole family at Ort farms, which included a wagon ride, pumpkin picking and a corn maze.  To celebrate Kyle’s special day, my whole class jumped for joy on the large inflatables at Screamin’ Parties.  Claire celebrated with a Halloween themed backyard party.  No matter how you do it, birthday parties are fun!

- Halloween was such an exciting event for me this year!  My final soccer class was a few days before Halloween, so my teammates and I dressed in costumes for our farewell lesson.  I wore skeleton pajamas and was excited to receive my completion certificate.  Halloween fell on a school day, so wearing my costume all day was essential.  On the night before Halloween I decided that I didn’t want to be a skeleton, but preferred to be a cowgirl.  No problem since we had cowgirl attire on hand around the house.  Minutes before leaving for school on Halloween morning, Mom found me with half my costume off, because I didn’t want to be a cowgirl anymore.  A witch was a better idea.  Mom quickly pieced together a witch costume and painted my face green.  I had a great time at my school Halloween party and happily lead my class in the costume parade.  For the actual event of trick or treating, I decided that I did want to be a skeleton – a scary one with a painted face.  Exhausted from an exciting day, I fell asleep during the van ride to join friends Layla & Dylan’s for trick or treating.  Mom woke me up when it was time to go candy collecting, but I was a tired, tantruming mess.  I did go from house to house, but only because mom carried me, and warmed up to generous offerings of candy about half way through the neighbourhood.  To close out Halloween for another year, we attended the annual Great Pumpkin Sail the day after Halloween.  My carved pumpkin was the best size to sail, but I was not at all pleased when Mom suggested this to me.  I quite liked my pumpkin and did not want to sail it down the river.  I suggested that we sail Rebecca’s tiny pumpkin, and she didn’t seem to mind at all.  We all had a nice evening sipping steamy hot chocolate, roasting marshmallows and listening to live fiddle music while we waited for our turn.  We waved good-bye to the little pumpkin and enjoyed watching the many lit pumpkins decorate the river.

- I like Lego, maybe not as much as Gus and Daddy, but I do like it.  Despite my grumpy mood, visiting the Brick Fair was pretty cool and I saw some amazing sets and designs.  Afterwards we visited the Lego Store at the Bridgewater Mall, and I got to create three dudes to bring home with me.

-  Aunt Lisa, Uncle Erick, Nora & Felix made the long trip from Canada to spend three full days with us!  I really enjoyed Nora’s company – we are the same age as me and play nicely together.  We kept busy painting pictures, beading necklaces and playing with Play-Doh.  We also enjoyed going to the playground and running around together while Gus was playing soccer.

- I’ve become quite an excellent little helper around the house.  I like to help with folding laundry, cooking dinner and baking.  I’m especially good at mixing!

- I’m quite curious about the hair that grows on Daddy’s face, and want to know when I will grow a beard.

- Counting and patterns are of interest to me currently.  I love to count anything, and can often be heard counting in this method “Daddy is one, Mommy is two, Gus is three, Rebecca is four and I’m five”.  Playing dominoes is a fun way to satisfy my desire to count and find patterns, and I’m pretty good at it too.  Mini’s Bow Bingo is a great game I received for my birthday, and rather than finding the numbers to match the drawn card, players have to find the matching bow.  I have a very keen and quick eye to locate the bow on my playing card that matches.  So much fun!

Quote of the month: “Gus is the biggest, Rebecca is the littlest, and I’m the medi-est.”


October 2014

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- Gus and Calina started attending Lunch Bunch at school a few Fridays a month.  This enrichment program allows them to have extra play time with friends, as well as eat lunch without parents in a social setting.  This also allows me to be one-on-one with Rebeccca until 2pm on these days.  The teachers have mentioned that, although the children have the choice of where to sit, Gus & Calina usually sit beside one another for lunch.

- Cooking Fun is a second school enrichment program that Gus & Calina have started attending every second Monday.  Under the supervision and guidance of teachers, the children make their own lunches.  In keeping with the fall themes, they have made meat, cheese and cracker spiders with mini-apple pies, pumpkin pancakes with pumpkin flavoured pudding and turkey sandwiches with pumpkin bars.  At each pickup the teachers comment on what good eaters Gus & Calina are, which I expect for Gus, but not for Calina.  Maybe this social setting does encourage more adventurous eating.

- Speaking of food, I suspect that Gus had a recent growth spurt.  For about one week, he consumed tons of protein.  He would ask for deli meat rolls for breakfast, a plate of pulled pork for lunch and then consume a huge helping of dinner, which generally contained meat.  For snacks he requested cheese, yogurt or pretzels with hummus.  His eating thankfully returned to normal, which our bank account is happy about.

- We spent a beautiful and crisp day apple picking with the Therien and Tan families at Sun High Orchard.  We use to get together with these same friends when we all lived in Montréal, and we still do get together on occassion now that we all live in NJ, but we are no longer going out for dinner and drinks, since we have a total of seven children in tow.  It was great to spend a few hours together madly picking apples and pumpkins.

- Since we had so much fun last year, it was a must to go to Trailside’s annual bonfire and wagon rides again this year.  We joined the Freidmans and the Nesheiwats for toasted marshmallows, steamy hot chocolate and a wagon ride in the dark of the early evening.  The kids loved the novelty of running and playing in the dark together while we waited for our wagon ride to begin.

- We had recently read the book “Bone Button Borscht” several times, and each time, upon completion, Gus mentioned that we should make borscht like the beggar in the book does.  One Saturday morning, as a family, we reenacted the story, by gathering all veggies we had in the house, chop-chop-choping them, and making significant pot of borscht.  I was certain that their involvement in the process would surly guarantee that they would eagerly consume heaping bowls of this thick, red, veggie soup.  No so.  All three children rejected it, and I felt super healthy by the end of the week having eaten borscht for days.

- Each fall our community holds a town wide garage sale.  It poured rain most of the day, which kept us at home rather than getting out early to hunt for the good deals.  By 3:00pm, the rain had stopped, and since the kids needed to get out of the house, James took Gus and Calina to see if anyone was still selling, and what bargains where left.  Despite starting late in the day, the came home with a significant haul, mostly toys, and big satisfied smiles on their faces.

- We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with our own dinner.  I made a basic, no fuss, kid-friendly version – chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots, gravy, baked apples and pumpkin pie.

- Gus and Calina started Spanish lessons.  With a few friends from their classes, they meet with Ms. Claudia for an hour, once a week.  For James and I, our knowledge of the language mostly comes from what we learned from watching and reading Dora, so we thought it was important to give the kids some extra exposure before they start learning in elementary school.

- “Sorry friends you’re out of luck, we just bought the winning duck!” was the phrase we chanted in the days following our purchase of foul for the community duck race.  All our optimism and cheering did not result in our ducks crossing the finish line in the top ten, but we certainly enjoyed watching the race.

- We ventured to Princeton to spend an afternoon playing with friends Willem and Luuk.  Despite the cool, damp day, we spent a lot of time outside at the playground and climbing trees.

- Four birthday parties in one weekend, means consuming lots of cake and having lots of fun.  James and I divided and conquered so Gus could attend Brendan’s Lego themed party at Little Scoops, while Calina attended Claire’s Halloween themed backyard party.  Afterwards, James took the girls home so Gus and I could attend Bella’s Monster High themed backyard birthday party.  We all slept well that Saturday night, which was necessary to recharge for Alana’s 5th birthday party on Sunday.  The whole family drove to Ort Farm in Long Valley and had an amazing day.  All of Gus’ classmates and their families were there for the celebration.  We enjoyed a wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch where each child secured their favourite little squash.  Afterwards we wandered through the hay maze, and then enjoyed a lunch of pizza and chili, while the kids played in the hay tunnel and hay pyramid and the cover chuck wagon.

- At Gus’ 5 year doctor appointment, he weighed 44.5 pounds and measured 44.75 inches, and increase of 6.5 pounds and 2.25 inches in the last year.

Our pre-Halloween activities this year felt as though we were preparing for Christmas.  Lots of fun, festive activity!

- The weeks leading up to Halloween were filled with discussions about what costume to wear.  Gus decided to be a skeleton – easy enough since we have a costume in our dress up drawer.  Calina, of course, wanted to be the same thing as Gus – no problem.  Two skeletons and one dragon and we were set for costumes.

- One evening we arrived home to find a package on our front porch.  We had been “ghosted”.  A mystery friend had left Halloween themed goodie bags on the front porch, and instructions that we were to “ghost” two more friends.  Being ghosted was very cool, but sneakily ghosting friends was even more fun.  With our goodie bags ready, we rang door bells and left treats for friends to find, and then they had to pay it forward to keep the cycle of Halloween cheer flowing.  A few days later, the door bell rang again, and all we found was a basket of treats.  This time we had been “boo’d”.  I loved this idea of “tricking with treats” and plan to make it part of our Halloween tradition.

- The day before Halloween we took in the community’s 7th annual Scarecrow Stroll.  Scarecrows of all varieties, made by clubs, schools, businesses, families, schools etc in our communty line the streets in the weeks leading up to Halloween.  With bagels and smoothies in hand, we walked through town admiring the talent and creativity that goes into these displays, and had a tough time limiting our vote to only six favourties.  Gus and Calina’s school created Little Bow Peep, who won first prize in the ‘kids 12 and under’ category.

- We carved our pumpkins – three of them.  Gus & Calina each picked their own design and drew it on their pumpkins.  Gus was so excited to carve his pumpkin until it appeared to be a slow, time consuming task, which involved yucky pumpkin-seedy innards.  Needless to say, I scooped out and carved the pumpkins while the kids played near by.

- The eve of Halloween involved our first round of costume change.  Gus no longer wanted to be a skeleton, but decided being an adventurer was a better idea.  Calina also decided she no longer wanted to be a skeleton, but now a cowgirl.  Fine – this holiday is all about them, and it was easy enough to piece together those costumes from what we had at home.  The morning of Halloween, moments before we needed to leave for school, I found cowgirl Calina without her boots, skirt, tights and hat on.  She no longer wanted to be a cowgirl, but really wanted to be a witch.  Sigh.  Okay, we can do it, as long as we do it fast!  Gus and Calina both had Halloween parties in their classrooms that morning, and then happily marched in the school parade.

- For the main event, Calina dressed as a skeleton and Gus opted to be a fireman.  Rebecca remained constant with her choice of costume and was a happy and sweet little dragon. I opted for a witch costume since “a person should always pick a costume which is in direct contrast to one’s own personality” {says Lucy in It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown}.    We joined friends Layla & Dylan at their house, along with a few other friends, for some early evening trick or treating.  Calina was exhausted and tantrumed for the first half of candy collecting, while Gus happily ran with the mob of friends in what could be called “speed trick or treating”.  Upon our return home, James took Gus and Calina out to visit some of the neighbours.

- All the festive decorations that were around for Halloween spurred Gus to ask many questions about vampires and werewolves and their origins.


Rebecca 9 months

Since my 10 month birthday is quickly approaching, I should probably bring you up-to-date on what I did during my ninth month.

9 months!

Nine months in, nine months out.  And I achieved almost the same amount of growth during those two time frames.  I weighed 16 pounds and  measured 27 inches at my recent doctor appointment, a little more than double my birth weight and an increase of 7.5 inches since birth.  In the past month I became  a well adapted hands and knees crawler, which increased the number of things I could explore and touch, and improved my ability to climb.  I had a keen sense of knowing when a bathroom door had been left open, a toilet seat left up or the stairs left unblocked.  I also took great interest in whatever Gus & Calina were playing with, and wanted to play along with them.  They didn’t share my enthusiasm for such interactions and promptly requested that I be removed.  Although, there were many times where I was the focus of their play, to which I took great delight.  Not only was I adventurous in my play, but also with food.  My fully functional pincer grasp allowed me to happily  feed myself bread, grapes, pickles, noodles, meat balls, Cheerios and graham crackers, to name just a few.  To this point, I had not commenced sleeping through the night, and rather than doing so, I regressed to newborn status of waking frequently at night, to stand in my crib and cry.  My crib is feet away from Mommy’s bed, so I captured her attention quickly with these antics, and received the snuggles, cuddles and nourishment I desired.  My sweet little face almost always had a smile on it, which seemed to attract the attention of others and be quite contagious.  If not a smile, than I was likely wearing a funny expression – squinty eyes and a scrunched up nose and mouth was my preferred way to ham it up.  I also loved to growl!  It was a busy month of activities – a breakfast date with Mommy & Katie, a picnic lunch at William’s Nursery, celebrating Gus’ 5th birthday, apple picking Sun High Orchard, wagon rides at Trailside , the town duck race, and weekly soccer with Calina.  One might think that I should have been exhausted enough to sleep soundly all night long.


Calina 3years 2months

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I very excitedly started playing soccer.  Coaches Tom and Dean kept me entertained for one hour on Tuesdays mornings with fun activities to teach me soccer skills.  We moved around the field pretending to be ninjas, pirates or animals, while kicking balls.  Although I was excited to attend, I was hesitant to participate.  If I stood shyly off to the side, it was guaranteed that one of the coaches would take my hand and escort me through the exercises.  Each week Mom would remind and encourage me to play on my own, to which I would reply, “but if I wait, the coaches will hold my hand”.

At school I started attending two enrichment programs: cooking fun on selected Mondays and lunch bunch on selected Fridays.  Under the supervision of teachers, my friends and I prepared our own lunches and ate together at lunch bunch.  So far we made things like: cheese and cracker spiders with mini-apple pies, turkey sandwiches and pumpkin bars, pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin pudding.  With such fun offerings, my teachers actually think that I’m a good eater!  Lunch bunch is simply extra play time and a catered lunch, but it gives Mom a break until 2pm.

One Saturday when Gus had two birthday parties, I had a special day with Daddy.  We went for a bike ride, which was a treat because we hadn’t biked much this summer.  Our destination was the Dairy Queen, which was fun in itself, but then we stopped at a playground afterwards.  I loved all the special attention and the fun activities.

For a long time I’ve refused to eat anything green, other than broccoli.  Things like lettuce or spinach I regularly refused to eat, even specs of herbs would cause me to reject an entire meal.  Recently Mom enlightened me that green specs in my food were actually “flavour” and they helped the food to taste really yummy, which has increased the number of things I will try, because I like flavour.

I love to greet people with tickles, and I dislike sleeping with blankets on.

At my recent 3 year doctor appointment, I weighed 26 pound and measured 34.75 inches tall.  That is an increase of 5 pounds and 1.75 inches in the past year.

Notable activities: a picnic lunch at William’s nursery.  Gus’ 5th birthday party.  Apple picking at Sun High Orchard.  The town-wide garage sale.  Bonfire and wagon rides at Trailside Nature Center.  The town duck race.

Quotes of the month:

“I’m boring of this.”  – when finished with an activity

“This is a lot of work for a little child” – while doing a craft

September 2014

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I really think September should be the start of the new year, rather than January.  Everything starts new again, and I even make resolutions about how I’m going to do things better with this fresh start.  We weren’t very far into the month before I felt like I was rapidly treading water and about to drown at any moment.  After ending the summer with a week of no schedule, no obligations, no computers and no phones, maybe the shock of returning to reality is what made it feel so challenging.  It was crazy, but we made it through.  Here is what we were up to…

- Gus returned to and Calina started pre-school!  Gus attends 5 mornings at week and Calina attends 3.  They are both loving their teachers, classmates and activities.  Shortly after starting back, our whole house came down with the ‘back to school cold’.  Thankfully, we were spared the nasty virus that some people encountered, and only had to deal with yucky runny noses and some sneezing.

- After spring soccer ended, Gus regularly asked when he would play again, so we were happy to sign him up for the fall session.  He excitedly made his return to Saturday morning community soccer.  Calina, who tags along to watch Gus play soccer each weekend, was thrilled to start her own soccer class.  She plays soccer on Tuesday mornings with two amazingly fun coaches, Tom and Dean, who are part of the US Sports Institute.

- After a summer hiatus, Sunday school recommenced, thus giving us activities seven mornings a week.  There are no more lazy mornings in pjs at the Mortimer household.

September is also the start of many birthday celebrations.  In total we attended 6 parties and hosted Gus’ celebration.

- Our little friend Liam turned one, and we had fun celebrating with him and his family.

- We were delighted to share in Willem’s 5th birthday celebration!  Now that he lives in NJ and no longer in Boston, we easily joined him at his Bat Cave for an afternoon of superhero fun.

- Gus and Calina jumped with joy on the large inflatables at Screamin’ Parties to celebrate Marie’s Frozen themed 5th birthday.

- Calina and Rebecca were invited to help siblings, Ben & Sara, celebrate their 3rd and 1st birthdays.  Calina was so pleased to be invited to a party for a friend of her’s.  Gus ended up joining in the fun, when he was dismissed from school early for having a runny nose.

- Gus attended back to back parties one Sunday to celebrate friends Nate and Hazel.  Gus finally experience mini-golf at classmate, Nate’s, 4th “par-tee”, where his whole class joined in the fun.  He followed that up with a backyard Octonauts/Daniel Tiger party for 5 year old Hazel.

In the summer, we see friends at the pool, but organized play dates are less frequent.  To reconnect with we started planning some dates.  We had two after school picnic play dates with Brendan and Ms. Susan – one at Peter Nevargic Memorial Park and at William’s Nursery.  William’s Nursery was really fun b/c we were able to play in their hay maze, walk through the pumpkins and check out their spooky Halloween displays.  We also met up with Layla, Dylan and Katie one Saturday morning at Nomahegan Park, and had a few afternoons of fun with Benjamin, Oliver and Lisa at each other’s houses.

- On our own we visited Ponderosa Park and the South Mountain Reservation Playground.  We hadn’t been to Ponderosa Park since Calina was a baby, and after enjoying an hour or so of fun, I wondered why it had taken us so long to return to this playground.  The South Mountain Reservation Playground is brand new and was lots of fun – hosting many structures that we don’t see at other parks.

- We spent our spare moments preparing for Gus’ birthday party.  More on that event in a coming blog….

- For me, there was the resumption of Newcomers monthly meetings, book club and a few mornings a week at the gym.


Rebecca 8 months

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So, there is this list of milestones I need to reach, and I think I did well checking a few off this month. I started with transitioning from my tummy to casually sitting on my hip and then to sitting fully upright. Being a stable sitter means that I got to bathe in the big tub! Days later, I was pulling myself onto my knees when at a low surface, like a stool or the trampoline. And a week after that, I was pulling to standing! Simultaneously, I was picking up speed (to keep up with Gus & Calina!) as I wormed myself around, creating blisters on my big toes. I was the human equivalent of a Roomba, zipping around the house sucking up dirt. At times I did crawl on hands and knees, but mostly when I was on something with a funny texture, like grass. At the end of the month, I was found standing on the second stair! Since I liked to be in motion, I squirmed during diaper changes, while getting dressed, and while being buckled into my car seat .
I am a super happy baby, but I started to speak out once in a while. For example, if the toy I was playing with was taken away from me (Calina always needed the toy that was in my hand), I protested, and I also voiced my dislike for having my face washed.
New foods are so exciting and I happily tried many this month, preferring veggies, like green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes and avocado, over fruits like apples, peaches and mango. When offered something I didn’t enjoy, I politely pushed Mommy’s hand away. I also had my first taste of meat – chicken – which was quite yummy. My favourite toys were anything long and thin, like Tinker Toy sticks or utensils from the play kitchen, which were easy to hold while I ventured around. I also showed an interest in gadgets. Anytime the iPad or the camera was within reach, I couldn’t help but touch it. My outings this month included daily deliveries of siblings to school and my friend Sara’s 1st birthday party. …Becca

Calina 3 years 1 month

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- At the cottage Dad and I went for several canoe rides, and I loved being out on the water.  I’m very much a Daddy’s girl and one-on-one time with him makes me feel really special.

- I returned from three weeks in the Valley with a wee bit of an accent.  Berries became “burries” and stories became “staries”.

- September 5th was my first day of pre-school!  For the past two years, I’ve been dropping off and picking Gus up from school – I know the school and the teachers well – and finally it was my turn to go!  “Happy” was how I felt on my first day, and without hesitation I walked into the class and started what will hopefully be a life long love of learning.  My teacher is Ms. Karen Stevens and the assistant is Ms. Marie Corson, and I join them for two and a half hours, three mornings a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

- Each day when Mom picks me up from school, I run and jump into her arms and excitedly state “I missed you!”

- I received an invitation to a birthday party!  Sure, I’ve been invited to lots of birthday parties, but this was not a family friend and not Gus’ friend, but my friend!  Ben is in my class, and I had a wonderful time celebrating his 3rd birthday at his Thomas the Train party.

- When someone offers me something I don’t enjoy, I  promptly reply with “You know I don’t like _______”, with my head cocked to the side and a knowing look on my face.

- I regularly receive compliments on my raspy voice.

- Now that I’m three, I feel it’s necessary to show others how big I am.  Standing on a chair or stool, with my arms stretched above is the best way to show off my tremendous size.

- I have finally graduated to the next shoe size!  I packed up my size fives, which I’ve been wearing for quite some time, and although I’m likely a 5 1/2, I started wearing size 6, because that’s what we have.

- I’ve picked up the essential skill of changing the subject, or filling in moments of silence by using the word “anyways”.

- Quote of the month:  “Sing me the lullaby about the broken stuff”  (= Hush Little Baby)

August 2014 / Summer Vacation

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This blog is way past due!  It’s partly because I’ve procrastinated, it’s partly because September was a crazy busy and it’s mostly that August was such a fun month, that I don’t think I can do it justice with written words, but here it goes…

- We started the month off by meeting up with Annu, Willem & Luuk for a morning of fun at Terhune Orchard in Princeton.  Since the peach crop didn’t do so well this year, we opted to pick blueberries, a first for all of us.  Although the berries were plentiful, getting any quantity took time.  The berries are so small, and if they fall out of your hand or you trip and drop your basket, they are gone, never to be found again.  After the morning at the farm, we returned to Annu’s for lunch and a swim!

- Several times this month, Gus and Calina woke each other up in the morning and headed downstairs to play together.  This allowed James and I to doze a little longer in the morning – sweet simple pleasures!  The only problem with these mornings was that when they were hungry for breakfast, they would serve themselves cookies or ice cream.

- We had two incidents where Gus, after he had been tucked into bed for the night, snuck out of the house.  One was to catch fireflies, and the other was to play with the neighbours, who were up later than he was, and still having too much fun.  Each time Gus returned or was retrieved, he was overly pleased with what he was up to!

- Our Irish friends, Emer & Garret, who lived in Boston while we did, were visiting NJ during their vacation in the US.  They joined us for a lunch play date with their three children.  It was nice to see them and Sarah & Christopher again, and to meet, their now two year old, Michael!

- Gus quote: “It has a bad guy in it.  Not a person who does bad things – a real bad guy!”

At bedtime prayers, when asked, “what was the toughest part of your day”, Gus responded “That it wasn’t Christmas!”

- In early August I had been feeling overwhelmed in my role as a parent.  Impatient with the kids, drowning in to-do lists, exhausted and doubtful in my skills as a Mom.  Sure I was taking the kids on a few fun outings, but was I preparing them adequately for their return to school?  Had Gus practiced his OT skills?  Were we reading enough? Were they watching too much tv just so I could have some quiet time?  Had Becca practiced sitting enough?  Was I playing with them enough?  One Friday morning, while at the farmers market, I was feeling rather frazzled about our short shopping trip where nobody was cooperating very well.  A lady I didn’t know told me my children were beautiful and that I was a lucky mom.  I almost cried.  Me, a lucky Mom?  It had been so long since I had stopped to think about how blessed I am to have three healthy, wonderful children.  It made me stop and think about things.  Was I parenting the way I wanted to?  NO!  I had “grabby hands” and wasn’t always using a “gentle voice”.  I wasn’t being patient.  I certainly wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I was thankful for this little reminder, and I wrote “I’m a lucky Mom” on a post-it-note and stuck in on the kitchen cupboard to remind myself regularly how blessed I am.

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On August 9th we drove back home to spend three weeks visiting with family and friends.  Here’s a quick run-down of what kept us hopping…

9th – Our best driving trip ever!!  In 9 hours, by 2:30pm, we were visiting with Lisa, Nora, Felix and Gram in Carleton Place!  During the trip, we counted cell phone towers rather than watch movies.  Gus and Calina were so entertained by this activity, they actually didn’t even ask to watch tv.

10th – It’s very rare that we get to celebrate the birthdays of our extended family.  We were delighted to attend Nora’s 3rd ‘Knights, Princesses and Dragons’ themed birthday party.  Gus was a knight, Calina a princess and Rebecca a dragon!  We were so excited that we arrived early, and had so much fun that we stayed into the evening.

13th – All 8 of the Mortimer cousins gathered together to spend a day at the beautiful and interactive Museum of Nature.  We were lucky enough to also see the Steele family there – friends we thought we were going to miss seeing during this visit!

14th – My dear friend Irene, who was a housemate and classmate in university, now lives in Australia.  Her, and her sweet husband, Sean, spent a month in Canada this summer, which was the perfect reason to get our university girlfriends together.  The last time we were all together was at Irene & Sean’s wedding two and a half years earlier.  Meghan was generous (and ambitious) enough to host us 7 ladies, 4 of the husbands and our 16 children!  It was such a wonderful day of catching up, and it was extra special since Irene announced she is expecting her first baby!

16th –  Mark was a good friend of mine while we attended college, but we hadn’t seen each other since my wedding, which was six years ago.  Mark and his family planned a weekend to the Valley so we could get together.  It was so nice to see Mark & Michelle and to meet their two boys and for them to meet Gus, Calina & Becca.  That afternoon, the Clarke family gathered together at Gram Berny’s for a corn roast, but the very rainy weather turned it into a corn boil.  Weather aside, it was a great day with 12 children excitedly playing together and the adults having some rather relaxed conversation.

17th – This was a wonderful day of family celebrations.  Our newest nephew, Samuel Robert was Baptized and James & I were honoured to be his Godparents.  Following the church service, we returned to Scott & Carla’s beautiful new home for a reception and a house tour.  In the late afternoon, we joined our Muldoon family at my parent’s place for a “man shower” to honour my cousin Phil for his upcoming wedding.

18th – Mont Cascade Water Park!!!  All 8 Mortimer cousins joined forces again for a fun day on the slides.  The weather was cool, but that didn’t stop us from trying out most of the slides in the park.  Calina was a little out of her element, but Gus couldn’t have been more in his.  Grandpa Mike joined us for the day, and had as much fun as Gus did zipping down slides.

20th – Our sweet and sassy Calina turned 3 years old!  That evening we had a Muldoon birthday party where she was delighted to be the center of attention and have her picture taken with each attendee.  At her request, we had mac’n’cheese and hot dogs for dinner, and chocolate cupcakes for dessert.

22nd – Lise and I have been friends since we were 4 years old.  We both live quite some distance from “home” so our paths rarely cross any more, and it had been about 4 years since we had last seen each other.  Knowing that I would be home, Lise also made the trek home so we could hang out and meet each other’s children that had arrived since our previous visit.  And hang out we did!  We had a four hour play date at a local playground!  The children played happily together while we talked about everything possible.

Since Dad & I weren’t together for our birthday this year, we had a date night to make up for it.  Dinner out at the Neat Cafe followed by watching the Blue Moon Marquee band made for a really nice evening.

23rd – James, Gus & Calina, as well as Erick & Nora, went to see Walking with Dinosaurs!  The kids were totally thrilled and partially terrified to see these animatronic and puppet dinosaurs.  And seeing the life like creatures has set us back in convincing the kids that dinosaurs no longer exist.

11th/12th/16th/19th/21st – So I don’t drag you through every fine detail of our vacation, these days were filled with play dates, girls nights out and visiting with family and friends.

23rd to 30th – Our week at the Cottage!!!

This was our 5th year of spending a week at a cottage with James’ family – a tradition we love.  The first year Gus and Abby weren’t yet a year old, and this year there were eight children all under the age of 5.  It’s amazing how much has changed in five short years.  Although, Carla & Scott, Abby, Isla & Sam, didn’t spend the full week at the cottage, we still wanted more space to accommodate the six adults and five children that would be there full time. The Highland Woods, which consisted of two cottages on Sugar Lake in Poland, Ontario, was a great fit this year.  The Knotty Beaver was a spacious three bedroom cottage and served as the common area for everyone, while the smaller, two bedroom, Wild Turkey, served as a sleeping cabin for James & I and the kids.  After a very busy two weeks of visiting, the week at the cottage was a welcomed opportunity to relax and have no agenda.  The children played so nicely together while the adults enjoyed a slightly more relaxed pace than normal.  We passed the week splashing in and paddling around the lake, catching frogs and centipedes, cooking s’mores on the campfire and relaxing on the hammock.  Calina enjoyed a second birthday party complete with games of bingo and musical chairs and eating beautiful purple frosted cupcakes. Gus was surprised with an early birthday party – so there was no lack of yummy baked goods, new toys and fun games to play.  On Wednesday, to break up the week, we ventured to Saunders Farm for the day.  Everyone, even the adults had fun bouncing on the huge jumping pillows and weaving through the many mazes, but we left the fun of the splash pad and the playgrounds up to the kids.  Other days at the cottage we had friends or family stop by, which made our days that much merrier!  It’s difficult to find a venue that will comfortably accommodate 8 adults and 8 children, but I really hope that we continue this tradition for years to come.

Rebecca 7 Months

Click on picture above to see more photos.

After devouring cereal for two days, I had to give food a break.  I broke out in a rash that spread all over my body.  Was it the 6 month vaccinations?  Was it the oatmeal?  So, my introduction to food was a slow one, and I’ve only tried rice cereal, bananas and butternut squash so far.  All of which I enjoyed, and none of which caused further rashes.  Along with each meal, I sipped water impressively well from a straw cup.  Another thing that went into my mouth was my soother, which I could do all by myself!   And coming out of my mouth were more sounds – especially bubububu, many laughs of pure joy and few wet raspberries.  I encountered my first fever and doses of Tylenol this month, but a night of sleeping on the couch in Mommy’s arm quickly cured my ailment.  I proved to be quite curious about all things toy and non-toy, and this encouraged me to get moving to explore everything more thoroughly.  When I first laid eyes on Benny, Aunt Lisa’s dog, I eagerly pulled myself, in a worm like movement, across the kitchen floor to get a better look.  From that point on I happily put in the effort to squirm around and learn about my surroundings.    My recent adventures included my first trip to the Turtle Back Zoo, complete with a carousel ride and the butterfly house, and blueberry picking at Terhune Orchards with friends Willem and Luuk.  The highlight of the month was spending time with family and friends in Canada.  Each day included a play date or an outting, and I was lucky enough to attend Nora’s 3rd birthday party and my newest cousin, Samuel’s Christening.  I took in the  beautiful Museum of Nature and the  fun water slides at Mont Cascade.  ..Becca


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