Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Holy Moly!  We were busy from sun up to sun down this Halloween.  And to be truthful, we were still busy for a few hours even after the sun went down!!!

We started off the day much the same as any other school day, only we had to make sure that Reagan was dressed in costume for her Kindergarten Halloween party.  She was worried that she would get her "real" costume dirty during the school day, so we recycled her costume from last year for her to wear to school today.  Once again, she was a Barbie Rockstar!  Her entire class came to school dressed and ready for a day of fun.  Aren't they adorable?

Normally, immediately after school on a Monday afternoon, Reagan would head off to gymnastics.  But not today!  Today, she had the afternoon off to get ready for some serious trick-or-treating.  We decided together for she and Myers to dress in theme, and I couldn't have been happier with her decision for their costumes.  He was a football player, and she was his cheerleader!

I had hoped to dress them both as South Carolina Gamecocks, but we just couldn't find the appropriate costumes in time.  So instead, we dressed them in our "local" NHL team wear... the Seattle Seahawks!  As always, Reagan was ready to pose for her pictures...

Myers, on the other hand, was more interested in the football than the camera!

It only took a few seconds for Myers to realize that he could reach the candy bowl at the front door.  This, of course, was not candy meant for Myers and Reagan to have... this was the candy for us to hand out to all of the trick-or-treaters in our neighbourhood.  We usually average close to 200 kids on Halloween, so every piece of candy counts around here.  But Myers was convinced that it wouldn't matter if he just took one little piece...

Lord, help me.  Myers has already inherited his Daddy's "Not me!" expression!

One of Reagan's best friends and her family came over to join us in trick-or-treating.

Our neighbourhood is extremely popular as the house just down the street from us goes ALL OUT year after year with their decorations.  (Maybe next year I will remember to take a picture of all that they do!  Just trust me when I tell you that it is amazing... it even includes a mannequin being put to death in an electric chair.  It's truly nuts, and demonstrates the scary side of Halloween to the extreme.  People literally come by the bus loads to our neighbourhood each year to check it out.)   Anyway, like I was saying, Reagan's friend came to join us!  Reagan was so excited to have Trinity and her family join us, and it was fun watching them go from house to house together.

It didn't take long before Reagan's goodie bag was beginning to reach the stage of overflowing.  Just take a look here to see for yourself that she was struggling just to carry the thing!

As crazy as it may sound, Reagan's favourite part of Halloween is not getting candy... it's giving out the candy!  She loves greeting all of the kids at our door, and this year was even more fun for her.  Since she is now at a school that goes from Kindergarten to Grade 5, she now knows kids of all ages in our neighbourhood.  She would get so excited each time that someone from her school came to our house!  And I have to admit, I was quite impressed with the fact that she knew so many people and that they also knew her.  It was pretty cool to see our little girl all grown up.  She decided that it was too cold in her cheerleading uniform, so she quickly got dressed in her footed pyjamas and winter coat to finish off the night.  It was well past her bedtime, but she was simply having too much fun for us to make her come inside.  It was only once we ran out of candy just before 9:00 that we were able to convince her to go to bed.

Something tells me I am going to have a hard time getting her out of bed tomorrow morning to get ready for school!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Kids

My children LOVED the pumpkin patch this year.  And I loved watching them play together and snapping pictures of them left and right while they were soaking up the fall sunshine last weekend.

It was the perfect afternoon to choose our grand assortment of pumpkins for Halloween this year, and we were very successful in our efforts!  We brought home 18 pumpkins!  Well, 20 pumpkins if you count these two super cutie-pies right here...

This afternoon, we set out on our mission to get our pumpkins carved.  Reagan has become the resident expert at choosing the perfect designs for carving some serious jack-o-lanterns, as she has been doing this for a few years now.  

Myers, however, was very anxious to figure out exactly what we were doing! At first, he was content to just explore around the pumpkins.  He finally got up the nerve to stick his arm inside, and before we knew it, he was LICKING the pumpkins!  Apparently, there's no better way to learn about something new than by using all of your senses to do so!

After our carvings were complete, we placed our prized pumpkins in our front yard on display for the rest of our neighbourhood to enjoy with us.

If I do say so myself, we did a pretty good job of decorating once again this year!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My First Pair of Rain Boots

Yep, you read correctly.  MY first pair of rain boots.  Not Reagan.  Not Myers. But me!

For the life of me, I can not remember ever owning a pair of true rain boots. Not even when I was a little kid.  I talked to my mom, and she doesn't recall me or my sister ever having a pair.  Of course, maybe this was due to the fact that I was raised in the South, not in the tropical rain forest that I currently live in! Reagan has been sporting rain boots for years now.  But not me.

I am perplexed as to how I have managed to live here for the past 9 years without owning either a raincoat or a pair of rain boots.  But that was the case up until this past week.  Yep, I didn't even have a legitimate rain coat... I would just throw on a hooded coat of whatever sort if it was raining and hope for the best.  In general, I have tried to avoid the rain as much as possible.

But I can't avoid it any longer...

I've mentioned before that I walk Reagan to school each day.  As we are now entering the "rainy season" for British Columbia, I have been getting soaked the last few days of our short trek over to her school.  I decided that it was time to suck it up and get a pair of boots.

I did my research, and I decided that if I was going to have to wear the boots, then those boots darn well better be spectacular.

And spectacular they are!  Say hello to my new prized possessions... my hot pink Hunter Wellies!

Like I mentioned, I also purchased my first rain coat last week.  I don't have a picture that I took of it myself, but this is it from the Leostar Athletica website...

Last weekend while we were in Vernon, Ryan snapped a picture of me in the horse riding ring with Reagan while I was rocking my new boots.

So, here's my theory.  If I have to endure the endless agony of the depressing rainy season that seems to last for months on end here, at least I can have a little fun and look stylish while doing so!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend in Vernon

Columbus Day is NOT Thanksgiving Day!

Reagan is in Kindergarten now, and it was when I was in Kindergarten that I learned about Columbus sailing across the ocean with the three big ships to discover America.  The day he landed on American soil is what is now celebrated as Columbus Day.  However, in Canada, they consider that day to be Thanksgiving.  Any American child can tell you that it took over a month for the Pilgrims on the Santa Maria to make friends with the Indians who were native to this new discovered land.  The day that they finally were all able to sit down and break bread together is what is supposed to be Thanksgiving Day!!! That is where the idea for the huge NOVEMBER Thanksgiving feast originally came from. I'm sure I am probably only confusing Reagan by teaching her something different than what she is learning at school, but oh well!  I want her to know the REAL story!

Sorry, like I tend to do more often than not, I just got side-tracked.  This is a post about what we did for Thanksgiving/Columbus Day weekend.  Not a history lesson...

We took advantage of the fact that Reagan did not have school on Friday, and we left mid-morning that day to go see Ryan's family in Vernon.  The trip to Vernon usually takes us just over 5 hours to make, and we were anticipating for it to take even longer this time due to the fact that Myers doesn't always do well in his car seat.  This would be, by far, the longest trip that we had ever attempted to make with him, and we weren't necessarily looking forward to the car ride.  We left the house just before what would be time for his morning nap in the hope that he would sleep a good portion of the trip.  Our plan worked!  After we had been on the road for about an hour, Myers finally fell asleep.  He slept for just over an hour, which meant that we still had about an hour to go before our planned stop in Kamloops.  Thanks to the portable DVD player that we had attached to the back of his seat (he is still rear facing in his car seat) we were able to endure the last hour of the Coquihalla Highway with only minimal fussing.

We spent a bit of time in Kamloops, visiting with Ryan's best friend Jeremy (my kids call him Uncle Jeremy) and having lunch.  We then got back on the road to finish our journey to Vernon.  Myers did well for the first little bit of his return to the carseat, but the final hour of the trip was a loud, tearful, screaming mess! Oh well, he did better than we had anticipated, but it still made us worry about the return trip home on Sunday.

We got all set-up and settled-in late in the afternoon on Friday at Ryan's parents' house, and spent some time visiting with them before walking up the hill to also visit with Ryan's brother and his family.  We woke up Saturday morning and went to the Davison Orchards where I instantly fell in love with their homemade caramel!  After eating enough samples of the super sweet stuff to equal Reagan's body weight, I decided to buy some to have at home. I doubt that jar will make it to see the end of the week!

After we left the Orchard, we went back up the hill to Reece & Marla's house for Reagan to have the adventure of her little lifetime.  Reagan has admired her cousin Julia for years now, and she always talks about how she wants to ride horses "just like Julia" one day.  Well, as of this weekend, that day has come!    Sure, Reagan has ridden a pony several times before, but never a BIG horse...

Together, they led Julia's show horse, Cadence, down the road from the stable to the riding ring.

Reagan was trying hard to contain herself when Julia helped her put the helmet on, but I could look at her and tell that she was ready to burst with excitement!

Julia was extremely patient with Reagan.  I told her later that she has found her true calling in life... she needs to work at a horse camp for young children or become a horse riding instructor for kids.  She has a gift, that is for sure!  She instantly had Reagan at ease, while also making sure that Reagan was confident enough to ride Cadence by herself.  Ryan and I sat off to the side of the ring, anxiously watching while grinning from ear to ear.  Reagan looked so small on top of Cadence...

But she also looked so happy that I quickly forgot to be worried about her falling off and I just sat back and enjoyed the incredible moment with her!

I was beginning to think that we would never get her to come out of the ring without having to promise that we would one day get her a horse of her own, but with Julia's persuading, Reagan decided that it was time for Cadence to have a rest.  Of course, Reagan is now convinced that she can ride any horse that she sees without the help of anyone because she's truly a pro now!  Can't you tell that is the case just from looking at these pictures... she's so proud of herself!  She floated on a cloud the rest of the day...

We woke up Sunday morning and decided that we should follow the same plan for returning home as we used for getting to Vernon, so we quickly packed up to be on the road once again in time for Myers's morning nap.  The ride home didn't go quite as smoothly as the initial trip, so it was a long day to say the least.  I don't think I have ever been so thankful to see our house before in my life!  And of course, as soon as he was out of the car for good, Myers went back to being his normal happy little self.  Still, Ryan and I are both grateful to have today off to recuperate from yesterday!

So, as this holiday weekend comes to a close, and we all return to our normal schedules tomorrow, I have one thing left to say...


Thursday, October 6, 2011

The First K-Pod Performance

We absolutely could not be any happier with the school that Reagan attends. Our only wish was that she could stay at this same school throughout her entire school career... it is just an elementary school, so it only goes to Grade 5.  

Reagan attends an Integrated Fine Arts School.  What does that mean, you ask?
The framework that defines an integrated fine arts philosophy shows children learning the curriculum in Literacy, Numeracy, Science and Social Studies while being engaged in music, drama, dance and visual art activities.  The development of meaningful connections between the arts and other curriculum areas truly describes "Learning Through the Arts".  It is important that students are well prepared in the core curriculum areas, and the arts provide a powerful vehicle for lessons to be learned and remembered.  
Her school is divided into pods, and being a Kindergartener places her in the K-Pod.  The first and second graders make up the P-Pod, the Tri-Pod consists solely of the third graders, and the fourth and fifth graders create the I-Pod.  The classes are organized into these learning pods, and each teacher in the pod has one of the arts as their specialty, as well as being trained as a core curriculum teacher.  Students have their main class teacher, but they also spend time with each of the other teachers in their respective pod during the arts rotations.  The teachers plan together and create common goals and themes that are shared and taught in each pod, giving the students many rich and engaging learning experiences that enhance their personal, intellectual, artistic and social development.   The mission of this school is to "provide academic excellence through artistic experiences by integrating dance, drama, music and visual art into the lives of students to enhance the learning of core subjects."

Like I said, we simply could not be happier!  We share the same core values and beliefs about the need for art in education, so it is a perfect match for our family.

Throughout the year, each of the Pods will host numerous performances for both the school, and the families of the students.  Today, the K-Pod had their first ever performance!  The families of the Kindergarten students were invited to view the performance this morning, and then the kids did a repeat performance this afternoon for the rest of the school.

Ryan, Myers, and I arrived bright and early so that we would be sure to get a good seat!  Reagan immediately started hanging out with her friends before it was time to get ready for the big show.

Myers, having already spent time in the classroom this week, felt right at home in the school.  He was ready to crawl out onto the main floor to perform with the rest of the kids!  We, of course, held him back with the rest of the audience, but he spent the majority of the performance clapping his hands and waving at his big sister.

The kids started off the show by walking out in their turkey headgear since Thanksgiving is this weekend.
(I've said it before, and I will probably say it for as long as I live in Canada... I will NEVER get used to Thanksgiving being in October!)

They immediately began to entertain us all by doing the "Turkey Tango", showing off both their singing and dancing skills!
Try the Turkey Tango
When You're in a Trance
Try the Turkey Tango
When You Want Romance!

I was able to make a short video of the second half of the song that they sang explaining what it would be like to be a turkey...

After the performance, and after the kids posed for endless pictures from the very proud group of parents in attendance, we were invited to see a small sampling of the artwork that the boys and girls had created so far this the school year.

The first board showed the entire class, on the bus, ready for Kindergarten!  I have to admit, the self portraits really were amazing!

From pumpkins to turkeys, it was obvious that the kids have been busy!

I've said it before, and I will gladly say it again right now, this is going to be a great school year!  We were thoroughly impressed with the first K-Pod performance, and now we're already anxious to see what they will have in store for us for their next performance.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mommy Helper at Kindergarten

Myers REALLY misses his big Sissy (that's what he calls her most of the time) when she is at Kindergarten.  I'll be honest, I really miss her too!

So I was super-duper excited when her teacher asked for parent participation in the classroom, and gladly volunteered once I realized that it would be okay to bring Myers along as well.  He spent the morning in his stroller, while I spent the morning helping out in class.

It was amazing to witness first hand how much and how quickly the boys and girls are going to be learning this school year.  Reagan's Kindergarten teacher firmly believes in "whole brain teaching," so the classroom setting is very hands-on and extremely fun.  Human brains learn in five ways, by seeing (visual cortex), hearing (auditory cortex), doing (motor cortex), speaking (Broca's area) and feeling (limbic system).  Whole Brain Teaching believes the brain learns best when all five of these regions are involved simultaneously.  (Whole brain teaching at Reagan's age level encompasses four primary categories: seeing, saying, hearing, and doing.)  I was very impressed with how effective and efficient this teaching style really is... Mrs. Dreyer can certainly get results from these young learners!  I'll be honest, I was expecting to see something along the lines of organized chaos that was primarily based on playtime with a bit of education mixed in.  But what I witnessed was a classroom full of boys and girls that were eagerly listening, reacting, paying attention, reading, writing, counting... to put it simply, LEARNING... all done in a way that made them feel that they were playing when what they were really doing was working their little brains to the maximum levels.  It was awesome!

I've signed up to continue to be the Mommy helper once a week for as long as Myers will willingly and quietly continue to hang out in his stroller in the back of the classroom.  I'm sure the day is coming soon when he will be too much of a distraction, as he is already beginning to interact with the students!  But for now, I am thrilled to be able to be in the classroom with Reagan.

It's even making me entertain the idea of becoming a Kindergarten teacher myself!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kindergarten Field Trip

Reagan was over-the-moon excited for today to arrive.  Today was the day of her first ever FIELD TRIP!  She was super excited to go to the Apple Barn out in Abbotsford, but she was most excited about how she was going to get there... SCHOOL BUS!

What kid doesn't get excited about riding a school bus for the first time?  I can remember thinking it was the coolest thing in the world whenever the rare occasion occurred that I got to ride a bus when I was younger.  It was when I got older and had to ride the bus as a cheerleader to football and basketball games that the novelty quickly wore off.

Sorry... this is a post about Reagan's field trip... not about me, from back in the day...

The kids all loaded up onto the bus immediately upon arriving at school, and Myers and I followed behind in my Denali.  (Myers is not allowed on a school bus at his young age.)

Once we arrived at The Apple Barn, it was time for a quick snack.  Reagan and her BFF, Trinity, were as thick as thieves as always, goofing off and having fun!

After snacks, we went over to the playground to burn off some energy before going inside the bee observatory to learn about how honey is made.  While the kids were paying attention to the speaker, I was busy shopping in the gift shop for organic muffin mix, flour for scones, pumpkin loaves, and fresh pressed apple cider.  DELICIOUS!

We then all loaded up onto the hay wagon pulled by a gigantic tractor for a trip out to the pumpkin patch. Each child was able to choose their own pumpkin to take home!

After pumpkins, it was time for The Apple Barn's claim to fame... APPLES!

The children were given a brief education about all of the different apples that are grown in The Apple Barn Orchard, and then they were each allowed to sample a few of the delicious varieties... Gala, Honeycrisp, Jonagold and Fuji. A few of the girls in the class quickly turned their attention to socializing as soon as the apple lecture had ended!

After jumping on the bouncy castle for awhile, it was nearing time to go.  We rounded up the whole gang for a class picture before loading back onto the bus...

Reagan summarized her first ever field trip for me by saying, "I had so much fun.  It was the best day ever!"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meadows Maze

Year after year after year, we have made the trip over to Pitt Meadows for some Fall fun at Meadows Maze.  This year, we invited Reagan's boyfriend and his family to join us.  Yes, my 5 year old daughter has a boyfriend...  They have pledged their love to one another for almost a year now.

Just as in all the years past, we had a fabulous time.  Only this time was even better because we were sharing it with friends!

Reagan and Matthew took turns sliding down the mountain through the twisty tube on burlap sacks.

We all had fun inside the petting zoo.  Once again, Reagan fell in love with the baby goats.  Myers even fell in love just a little bit with them!

We then decided to venture inside the corn maze.  Every year, the owners change the pattern, and this year was no disappointment!  I will admit, we got lost more than once.  I will also admit that we did NOT go to every checkpoint. I guess that is what happens when you let the five year olds have control of the map!

After a few snacks, we decided to take the hayride over to the cranberry fields.  This is the point that things started to go downhill for poor Matthew. Apparently, he has a severe hay allergy because by the time the hayride was over, he had red swollen eyes and felt like poop.  He and his family decided to call it a day, but we still had one more adventure before we could head home ourselves.

It was time for the pony rides.  This is Reagan's favourite part of Meadows Maze, and there was no way that she was going to miss out this year.

Her brother was cheering her on the whole time!

Next year, buddy!  Next year, you can have a turn on the pony!