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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.

…Erin

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

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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

Calina 3 years!

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- I can buckle up my seat belt all by myself.

- My adventures this month included 2 nights of camping at Spruce Run Recreation Area, my first ever float night at the local pool, a long over-due trip to the zoo, painting ceramics at Fire Me Up and blueberry picking at Terhune Orchard.

- Although my behaviour this summer had been anything but wonderful, a trip to Canada was all I needed to lift my spirits.  I was sweet, happy, and adorable.  I was unusually affectionate with everyone, generously offering hugs and kisses.

- I chose to dress as a princess for cousin Nora’s knights, princess & dragon themed birthday party.  A princess is not my default costume choice when playing at home, I’m usually a monster, a fire fighter or a fairy.  Mom assumed I would be a dragon, but I was very pleased to wear my fancy princess dress for the occasion.

- Summer vacation in Canada is a favourite ritual of mine.  I love spending time with family and friends, and trying to keep up with Mom’s crazy visiting schedule.  This year I especially enjoyed using Uncle Erick’s virtual reality headset where I was able to swim in the ocean with fish.  Since we were home for three weeks, we had time for some fun activities too.  One day we visited the beautiful Museum of Nature, where I particularly enjoyed seeing the dinosaur exhibit and caring for birds at the bird hospital.  We also ventured to Mont Cascade water park, where it took me quite a while to warm up to the idea of water slides.

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- The best part of being in Canada was celebrating my birthday with family!!!  On my actual birthday I awoke to balloons hanging in the bedroom that Gus & I share at Grandma Cathy & Grandpa Mike’s.  I then discovered the kitchen decorated with streamers and more balloons.  That evening my Muldoon family gathered for a meal of, at my request, Mac’n’Cheese and hotdogs – and some hamburgers, meatballs and assorted salads.  I loved having everyone sing happy birthday to me before I blew out my “3” candle on the cupcakes Gus & I had decorated earlier in the day.  There were lots of generous gifts to open, and I was happy to let Edey, Wyatt and Carter help me with the task.  To show my appreciation I happily had my picture taken with everyone at the party!

The birthday celebrations didn’t stop there.  The following evening Mom got together with three of her girlfriends from high school, and the 11 children that tagged along – we had an amazing play date!  After a yummy pizza dinner, there was a surprise for me!  Birthday cake for dessert.  I encountered sparklers for the first time, and again loved having all these friends sing happy birthday to me!

Since I was turning three, having three events to honour me seems appropriate, right?!  Well, that was certainly the case.  Freshly into our week of relaxing at the cottage, I arrived at the main cabin for breakfast to find the dining room decorated with a beautiful sign, and purple balloons and streamers!  Aunt Lisa & Gram Berny had planned a special day for me!  Along with my Mortimer family, we played BINGO and musical chairs, shared shared beautifully decorated cupcakes and I opened more thoughtful gifts.  Turning “tree” was super fun, and may it only be the start of a great year ahead!

Quotes of the month

“I’m going to puke!” which I say often when I’m very upset.

“I’m going to cry – really hard!” is the threat I utter when I know a consequence is coming my way.

Calina’s 3 year old interview

What do you want to be when you grow up?  A teacher

Favourite colour? Yellow {although green & purple are the usual answers}

Favourite food? Mac’n’Cheese

Favourite dessert? Cookies

Favourite drink? Lemonade

Favourite fruit? Mango

Favourite snack? Banana

Favourite friends? Paul, Dylan & Claire

Favourite TV show? Olivia

Favourite activity? K’Nex {which she has never played with}

Favourite Book? Franklin series

What are you really good at? Lego

Favourite animal? Giraffe

Favourite thing to do outside? Play ball

I’m afraid of _____________? Bats

Favourite iPad activity? Um-Num

Favourite thing to wear? Shoes

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? Somewhere dark

Favourite holiday? My birthday

Favourite season?  Winter!  I like to roll down in the snow!

What makes you feel happy?  Sleeping with Dad

What makes you feel sad? When Mom won’t let me sit in Rebecca’s car seat

Favourite thing to do with Dad? Sleep in bed with him

Favourite thing to do with Mom? Tickle her and do stamping

Favourite thing to do with Gus? Roll on him

Favourite thing to do with Rebecca? Give her kisses

July 2014

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- As per our tradition, we all dressed in red and white in  honour of Canada day.

- On July 2nd we were very excited that Samuel Robert Bissett joined our family.  This new little bundle arrived weighing 8 lbs 6 oz, and was welcomed by Carla, Scott and big sisters Abby & Isla.  We can’t get home soon enough to meet this little man.  Gram Berny is delighted to now have 8 grandchildren, all under the age of 5.  She asked and we delivered.

- We became good friends with the Van Bodegom family, when we lived on the same floor of a high rise apartment building in Boston.  It was to our delight when we learned that they were also moving to New Jersey!  Upon arriving in their new home state, Annu, Willem and Luuk spent a night with us, while Diederik went ahead to their new home to meet the moving truck.  It was so much fun to catch up with them and watch the children play together.  Willem is two weeks older than Gus, and they have always shared a special bond!  We are excited to have them closer and share more time with them.

- We celebrated the 4th of July at our neighbour’s backyard party and then enjoyed the fireworks.  The park where the fireworks are displayed, is pretty much in our backyard, so Calina and I cuddled up on the couch in our pjs and watched the show from our living room.  Gus and James, on the other hand, joined most of the town at the park, where Gus excitedly cheered and clapped for each firework.

- Our cousins, the Thompson’s, were vacationing in PA this summer, and the chance to spend a day with them had us buying tickets to Sesame Place.  A visit to this theme park had been on our to-do list for a while, and what better way to do it than with family.  With no line-ups, we had a wonderful time going from one ride to the next, and the water park was a refreshing relief from the extreme heat.  We all had so much fun!  The highlight for Gus was slipping down water slides, and having the huge bucket of water pour down on him at The Count’s Splash Castle.  Calina enjoyed riding Elmo’s flying fish several times, and floating down Bird Bird’s Rambling River in a tube with Daddy.

- After learning about birds of prey on an episode of Wild Kratts, we had to make a trip to The Raptor Trust.  “The Raptor Trust is one of the premier wild bird rehabilitation centers in the United States, and includes a hospital with state-of-the-art medical facilities and quality exterior housing for several hundred birds.” Layla & Dylan joined us for this adventure where we saw owls, eagles, hawks, wild turkeys and falcons up close.

- Pine Street Park in Roselle was the perfect place to play one hot and sticky day.  This park hosts two playgrounds, a basketball court and, the best part, a really fun spay pad.

- To help our friends, Charlotte & James, celebrate their birthdays, we traveled to their grandparents beautiful home in Newtown, PA.  Wendy & Ian’s back yard is home to an amazing pool that has various levels, starting at 1 foot and increasing to 6 feet deep – the perfect pool for young children.  Gus & Calina spent the day in the pool, except when they paused to eat the pig roast lunch.

- Gus and Calina enjoyed learning about ‘all things scaly’ at their week of morning day-camp.  Since Calina has rarely been without James or I in her almost three years, this  was an excellent opportunity to trial some time on her own at her soon-to-be school.  She harboured zero separation anxiety and confidently walked into her classroom each morning ready to participate.  I felt like I was on vacation for those three hours each morning with only Becca in my care!  We took full advantage of our mornings to work on projects, visit with my friend Jen, and her new baby, Andrew, and have a play date with Becca’s little friend Austin.

- My friend Holly is brilliant, and she showed off all her talents when she hosted an amazing camping birthday party for her 5 year old Sean.  I’m sure our summer would have slipped by without a camping trip had Holly not made it so easy for us.  Her research landed us at the very family friendly Spruce Run Recreation Area in Clinton, where we camped with four other families – totaling 10 adults and 10 children (6 months to 5 years old).  The playground behind our tent and our adjacent campsites made is easy for the kids to play together, and meet three of the girls camping nearby.  Dinner consisted of ribs, steak, corn on the cob and baked potatoes – all cooked on the campfire.  As night fell, the kids chases fireflies, played with glow sticks and toasted marshmallows for s’mores.  After a good night’s sleep, we feasted on pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast burritos, bagels and coffee.  We parted ways from the group for a quick trip to the beach to swim, but rejoined everyone, plus additional guests at the group picnic area for the actual party.  Each child made their own tie-dye t-shirt before a delicious lunch of hot dogs, burgers, pulled pork, salads, and of course, cake, was served up.  There were more marshmallows to be roasted and made into s’mores, wild raspberries to be picked, trees to be climbed and the playground to be explored.  I’m certain Sean will never forget his 5th birthday party! We opted to spend another night camping and then enjoyed our second morning of swimming.

- Helping Thomas & Elena celebrate their birthday was easy and fun at Screaming Parties.  Who doesn’t love an afternoon of jumping on huge inflatables?

-  Our community pool hosts ‘float nights’ on Fridays throughout the summer.  Inflatables, which are usually banned from the pools are allowed on these sanctioned Friday evenings.  James, Gus & Calina’s  first float night ever happened to be the last float night of the year.  They had fun, and talk about doing it again next summer.

- It had been quite some time since we had seen the Tan and Therien families, fellow Montrealers turned New Jerseyans, so we hosted them for a bbq.  It was so nice to catch up, meet baby Liam, introduce Rebecca to everyone and see how much all the other children had grown.

- When I realized that the last time we were at the zoo there was snow on the ground and I was quite pregnant, I made it a priority to visit again before school started.  The kids and I had a great day seeing the animals, but also checking out the new Pre Historic playground, walking through the butterfly tunnel, taking Rebecca on her first carousel ride, running through the sprinklers and watching the sea lion feeding.

- To close out the month, Gus and Calina painted ceramics at Fire Me Up.  Calina chose a lion figurine and Gus chose a skull shaped box.  They aren’t much for fine details yet.  Gus goes for single colour coverage, and Calina opts for well mixed colours.

…Erin

Rebecca 6 months

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Happy half birthday to me!  To celebrate I dined on oatmeal cereal.  Up until now I have eagerly gummed watermelon, cantaloupe and steak, so I happily and easily ate my first real meal!  At my doctor appointment I weighed in at 14 pounds 8 ounces and measured 25 1/4 inches long.  It’s my rigorous exercise routine that kept me lean.  I wiggled wherever I needed to go, pivoted in circles, pushed into planks, raise onto my hands and knees, and even managed pigeon pose, which leads me to believe I will be crawling in no time.  I became a more stable sitter, but still need additional practice to get it just right, so I spent some time building upper body strength in the swings at the playground.  When I wasn’t wearing a huge smile on my face, my recently detected little tongue was curled up over my top lip.  Ears are another newly discovered body part that I contentedly played with while nursing.  But, since I didn’t want to miss anything, I was mostly very distracted while eating, looking around to see what Gus & Calina were doing.  It was a very busy month of activities and the highlights were going to the circus, visiting Sesame Place, camping at Spruce Run Recreation Area, and a play date with my friend Austin.  The most exciting  event, though, was the arrival of my new cousin Samuel Robert Bissett on July 2nd!     …Becca

Calina 2 years 11 months

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- When I grow up I want to be a teacher.  At times I start stories about things I’m going to do when I’m an adult with “when I’m a teacher, I’m going to ….”

- Camping outside with Daddy and Gus for the Great American Backyard Camp Out was awesome!  Watching stars and fireflies as I drifted off to sleep was so exciting.

- I can be heard modeling many of Gus’ conversation styles.

- Wearing two different shoes poses no problem for me, even when it’s a cowboy boot and a Croc.

- I have become a real little fish!  I can hold me breath under water for 5 seconds, sometimes longer.  I love playing and swimming in the pool.

- Going to bed is my least favourite thing to do each day, although by bedtime, I’m so tired that I need to.  I’m constantly adding new tricks to my bedtime stall routine.  The latest is “I need to you sleep with me!” or “I can’t sleep by myself”.  Since I’m usually asleep within seconds, it easier for Dad or Mom to briefly lay with me than it is for them to fight me on this.

-  I’ve realized that Rebecca is here to stay, and I’ve noticed a difference the amount of attention I receive.  To show my general disapproval, I tantrum.  A LOT!  Somedays I start upon waking and continue – at various intensity – until bedtime.  I no longer nap, so it makes for a very long day for everyone involved.

- The fireworks on July 4th were very loud, so Mom and I cuddled up on the couch in our pjs and watched the beautiful show from the comfort of our living room.

- It’s rare that I let someone other than Mom or Dad, even someone I know well, help me do something.  So it was a nice surprise when I rode the flying fish with cousin Danny at Sesame Place.

- I attended one week of day camp at the school I will attend this fall.  The theme of the week was ‘All Things Scaly’ and I learned about dinosaurs, snakes, lizards and crocodiles.  I was excited to go each morning, and excited to share the details of my day at pickup.

- I love to eat peanut butter right out of the jar!

- One Saturday I joined Daddy and Gus for their trip to the hair dresser, and got mine cut too.  I now sport a cute chin length bob.

- At dinner one evening, I had Mom & Dad in stitches as  I told an elaborate story about how chicken meat grows on trees.

- Our friend Sean turned 5 and celebrated with an amazing camping birthday party!  Five families – 10 adults, 10 children –  joined together for a night of camping at Spruce Run Recreation Area.  We shared amazing meals, games of duck-duck-goose, adventures on the playground, campfire and s’mores.  My highlight was staying up way past my bedtime so I could catch fireflies.  After everyone else grew tired of chasing them, I happily went off on my own, net in hand, to catch and release these intriguing little beetles.  On the second day, more of Sean’s friends joined us as the park for a big birthday celebration.  Our family opted to spend a second night camping, and this allowed us to spend some time at the beach each day.  The gradual entry, sandy beach was a great place to test out my new swimming skills.  It was such a fun weekend, and I can’t wait to do it again.

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