Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday Sam!!!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday Dear Sam!
Happy Birthday to you!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Show Us Your Life: Date Nights

Today Kelly is doing a Show Us Your Life about Date Nights. I am soooo looking forward to reading all these posts because we get so stuck on date night ideas. We usually go out for supper or once in a loooong while we get to go to a movie!
Reliving our Vienna Trip at a Viennese restaurant in Edmonton.
(With Rachel!)

When we lived in Edmonton, our good friend babysat for us for free once a week. Most of the time Dave and I would just go downstairs, watch TV shows on DVDs and eat nachos. It was nice to be together without having to worry about the kids if we wanted to watch four shows in a row. Sometimes we would spend our date nights cleaning! After about six months of that we decided to pay for a housekeeper :) Ha!

TV on DVD, nachos and ice cream are a pretty regular date night for us.

Our most interesting date ever was when we got to tour the air traffic control tower at the airport. My co-workers' husband was an air traffic controller and he gave us a amazing tour. We got to see how planes are guided and how important an air traffic controllers job is. It was really cool.

Another thing I like to do is look at the local paper for interesting events or concerts. I like to go to the symphony but we don't get to do that as much now that we have kids. We also used to just go to the park and toss a frisbee around, and then make up for all the exercise by getting ice cream! Ha! I don't know why we don't do that anymore...
A birthday tea for me!

One thing we are starting to do is trade childcare with our friends so that we can have more "free" date nights. Or even date overnights! Whoo hoo!

For our anniversaries and birthdays we like to do something extra special if possible. We go out for a fancier dinner or, last year we went to a baseball game. Really, most of the time, it's just fun and special to spend time together.
Anniversary dates at The Melting Pot (a fondue restaurant) and a baseball game!

And if you want to read more about our dates, just click on the "Dates" tab in my sidebar. Thanks again for stopping by.

Now I'm off to get some fun ideas from all of you!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sam's Big Day And The Second Seder

So in one of my posts yesterday I alluded to the fact that Sam was having a big morning yesterday morning. What did it involve, you ask? Why, now that we know where we will be living in September, we went and registered Sam for Jr Kindergarden. Eeekkks :() In the school district we will be in, he will be going from 9:10 until 3:30 every day. Oh. My. Goodness. And that is becoming the norm for Ontario.

Sam was a little shy and hasn't quite figured out why he has to go to a new school. However, once we were there and he was registered, he was quite excited that he can now take books out of the school library. However we have to wait until next week because he wasn't in the system yet. So next week we will take a trip to the school library. I'm half excited and half sad about Sam being in school.
In the afternoon Sam went to school and Mom, Dad and I got ready for the seder. Then Dave came home and we went and took pictures in front of the sold sign at our new house! Whooo hoo!!! Then it was time for more seder preparations. And now I'm going to let Dave finish this blog post so that he can explain what the seder is all about. Take it away, Dave!

When we got home from our walk, we dove into intense seder preparation mode. Natasha made matzah ball soup (with some assistance from Sam), I made the main dish (Rockin' Moroccan stew), and Rob and Ellen kept the kids entertained. There was also table-setting, candle-lighting, and some last-minute seder preparation by yours truly.
Sam supervising Natasha's matzah ball soup preparation
The seder plate, all ready for action!
Rachel was entertained for a while by the orange from the seder plate.
Sam, meanwhile, investigated the egg-and-salt water appetizer.
At last, the table was all ready for the seder.

The central theme of a seder is re-telling the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt; this re-telling happens through prayers, food, stories, songs, and more food! The idea is that everyone at the seder -- kids, grandparents, friends -- should be able to connect with the story being told, and so the key points are conveyed in a variety of ways. In a typical seder, there is a certain order (the word seder actually means "order") in which these elements occur. However, because of my inexperience in seder leading, the youthful impatience of certain guests, or a general lack of organization on my part, this seder was somewhat.... more fluid, shall we say :)

The seder plate, which appears in several of the pictures, is a focal point of the seder. It has various symbols which help emphasize the various themes of the seder:
  • Parsley, symbolizing spring and new life
  • Bitter herbs (horseradish and the celery), representing the bitterness of slavery
  • Charoset (a chopped walnut mixture), a reminder of the mortar used by the Israelites to make bricks
  • A beet (taking the place of a shankbone), symbolizing the sacrifice that was made during Passover at the Temple in ancient times
  • A roasted egg, symbolizing both the Passover sacrificing and new life in spring
The orange, finally, is not a traditional part of the seder plate, but it has a story of its own: Not too long ago, a traditionally-minded rabbi was asked about the proper role of women in leading a service. The rabbi's indignant response was that a woman had as much place at the front of a synagogue as an orange on a seder plate. Since then, more progressively-oriented Jewish families have put oranges on their seder plates, to affirm (in a roundabout way) the right of women to have leadership roles in the synagogue.

 Some of the highlights, in pictures:
Sam really enjoyed his egg-and-salt water appetizer.
Rachel had fun feeding herself matzah ball soup
Rob, pointing the way out of Egypt.
Donny showing off his new Passover dish: matzah balls and Moroccan stew.
Rachel devouring... something... at the end of the seder.

Some other highlights (without pictures):
  • Natasha saying the blessings over the candles and singing the Four Questions (a kid-oriented introduction to the Passover story) -- in Hebrew, no less.
  • Sam trying horseradish, and discovering just how spicy it really is!
  • Rachel singing along with "Dayeinu", a song expressing thankfulness for freedom.

The Roller Coaster Of Buying A House

3) Buy a house.
     (Self explanatory.)
This past week I checked off one of the biggest, and most exciting, things on my "41 Before 41" list. And no, it wasn't going to a Canadian Target. Although that did rate a close second :)

As soon as we moved to Ontario last May we knew that we would shortly be undergoing the process of buying a house. My good friend, Karen, started sending us listings from MLS -- the website to look for houses. Dave and I went to check out a house in September which looked like an awesome possibility. We just wanted to see it because, at that point, we knew we were looking to buy in the spring and we also knew that checking out a house then was unrealistic. We hadn't even figured out our financing at that point!

At the house in September we met the realtor, Scott, and got a really great impression of him. So we started working with him. September and October and November were a blur of trying to get financing arranged, sending Scott a map of our "preferred area" and starting to look at some houses. Also, since we knew we couldn't really buy before February or March, we were taking our time.

We looked at a few houses in the fall but we weren't really excited about any of them. I was also checking MLS periodically during this time and my friend, Karen, was sending me listings. On January 10 House A entered our lives. Either I found it on MLS, or it showed up in the property search Scott had going for us. We went to see it on Sunday, January 13 and we LOVED it. However, there was some cracking in the brick on one of the outside walls, which Scott wasn't too sure about. We decided to put an offer in on it and get a really good home inspection.
So on Monday, January 14, we sent in an offer. And on Tuesday, January 15, it was accepted. I signed all the papers after I had worked out so ignore my hair, please :)
On Sunday, January 20 we had the house inspection. And sadly, the inspection unearthed some MAJOR problems. So we decided to not buy that house. Thankfully we'd had an inspection as part of the conditions.

After that I was bummed for awhile and stopped looking at MLS, until the end of February when we went for supper at our friends' house and noticed a house for sale in their area. I checked MLS again and found four possibilities on Sunday, February 24. We went to look at two of them on Wednesday, February 27 and really really liked one, which we'll call House B. We liked it even better than House A. We wanted to put an offer in on it and agreed to meet with Scott the next day at 4.

At 3 he called me and said that the seller had conditionally accepted another offer. I was so bummed. Plus I had just spent two hours shoveling out the driveway because the old tenant, who was responsible for it, never did it and had moved out. The whole time I was shoveling I had REALLY been looking forward to moving soon so I cried and cried and that was likely partly responsible for February's failing grade.

After that I was checking MLS multiple times a day and not finding anything. Dave and I were not on the same page about where we wanted to end up for a few weeks because we were desperately wanting to buy a house (I admit I was more narrow-minded; he was willing to look a little more widely), and it was just not good.

But then... oh, but then... On Tuesday, March 19 I woke up at 6 and checked MLS as usual. And there was, what appeared to be, a perfect house. I e-mailed our realtor immediately and we set up a viewing for 3:30 that afternoon. At 1:30 he sent me another listing and said we'd try to look at that one at 4:15. At 2:45, he called me and said that the first house had conditionally sold. Again, I was so completely bummed. I called my parents and cried. I'd been doing all the right things -- checking MLS, jumping at what seemed like perfect houses. When would it be our turn???

And then at 3:20 our realtor called and said we had a viewing for House C at 4:15. In fact, since I was on the phone with my parents and he couldn't leave a message he came by our house to make sure I'd gotten his e-mail. What service :)

So at 4:15 we walked into House C and fell in love. It was the Mary Poppins of Houses -- practically perfect in every way. It was within our price range, it had three bedrooms and potential guest space, it had an awesome sunroom/playroom. It had neat little features. It had a garage. It was in the school district we wanted to be in. And it wasn't that far from Dave's work. We immediately wanted to put an offer in. By 6:00 we knew that there were going to be two other offers presented and that ours would be presented at 7:45. So Scott came over and we put our offer together. At 8 Scott called us and said he felt it had gone well and we might hear as early as 8:15.

At 8:17 the phone rang and Scott informed us that the house was (conditionally) ours!!! Whooo hooo!!!
We had the building inspection on Saturday, March 23 and it turned out pretty well. There was one minor issue which Dave and I wanted to have figured out before we signed everything off. It took a little back and forth with our realtor but we signed the final papers on Monday, March 25. And then the house was ours! We are sooooo thrilled.

Sadly, our closing date isn't until August as the current owners are building a house and have an August finishing date, so we will be spending one more summer in our current place. Did I mention the new place has air conditioning and this one doesn't? The later closing date and the lack of more than one bathroom are about the only downsides to this house so we will make do. (And install a second bathroom (toilet and sink only) as soon as possible.)

I can't wait to "introduce you" to our new house through about a million pictures once we move! Yay!!!
And a funny story about this house -- as we were doing one last look around the house during our original viewing, I glanced at the names on the degrees hanging in the office. And I realized I know the current owners. Sam goes to preschool with their son. So the current owner and I have been having lots of discussions about the house and potentially having some playdates together and some of the house' history. Fun!

Funny story number two -- The house that Dave's dad grew up in was purchased by his parents from the parents of a schoolmate of his. So I guess we're just carrying on the family tradition! Love it!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Extra-Large Picture Of Our Extra-Large Purchase!

Stay tuned! The full story is coming tomorrow.

Oma And Opa Are Here!!!

My parents, also known around these parts as Oma and Opa, arrived for a visit from Saskatchewan late Monday night. Yesterday after breakfast we all headed out for a looooong walk. I think we were gone about an hour and a half total. Sam enjoyed collecting random garbage off the road like cans and bottles and sticks and string. Rachel enjoyed splashing in puddles and got her jeans soaked to her knees! It made me feel like maybe it is FINALLY Spring!
Yesterday afternoon Sam, Opa and I ran some errands including buying me a bunch of Spring flowers and getting Sam some ice cream for him to take to preschool to celebrate his birthday today. Then Auntie Lorna came over for supper. Since Dave was delayed at his conference for an extra hour, Opa chopped up everything for the stir fry with the help of his able-bodied sous-chefs! Ha ha ha!!!
Stayed tuned to hear about today's festivities and Sam's Big Day... Nope, it's not his birthday (yet!), something else HUGE is happening for Sam this morning. Oooooh, the suspense :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The First Passover Seder

Last night marked the beginning of Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrating the Israelites' escape from Egypt and Pharaoh, and their subsequent freedom from slavery. We had the first seder with Dave's family and, despite having two young children, it went quite well. (Observes the non-Jew!).

Note: I am not going to go into all the details of what a seder involves since I prefer to let Dave address the Jewish faith and its practices on the blog. He has a major work conference for the next two days so doesn't have time right now. Until he can speak up (which might not be until next year) you can check out more about a somewhat typical seder here. Ours was fairly short due to the attention spans of Sam and Rachel not being longer than a gnat's!
Rachel wore the bib which Dave's grandpa sent for Sam when he was a baby. This was Rachel's first ever seder and so we thought it would be appropriate for her to wear it. Rachel also insisted on wearing a kippah and kept it on for about two of the three hours we were there.
Rachel particularly enjoyed dipping the karpas (parsley) into the salt water and Sam did surprisingly well with the gefilte fish. As did Rachel.
After a bit, Rachel decided to try and "clear the table" so we moved her to a corner instead of having her in the middle of the table. Dave's mom had the primary task of feeding Rachel and Dave commented, "As we get closer to the Israelites' freedom, Rachel is becoming progressively more confined!"
Lily and Sam with the Passover candles burning in the foreground.
My favourite seder food is the matzoh ball soup and Sam and Rachel gobbled up theirs too, especially Rachel.
Dave always plays guitar for the seder when he is around. I think he was glad to be able to participate in this way again. It was a quiet seder last night with just us and Dave's family, but it was really nice and I think Rachel and Sam really got some of what was going on. I am looking forward to seeing their awareness of Passover and the seder grow as they get older.

Happy Passover to any of my blog readers who celebrate. And if you need an awesome recipe for a Passover dessert you totally have to check out this one, which I made this afternoon. (Just be sure to use the parchment paper to bake them since I didn't think it was necessary and ended up with the cookies sticking to the pans.) You might want to make these cookies even if you don't need a Passover dessert because they are really yummy!

Here's what my cookies looked like. (I also didn't use the super-awesome Hershey's cocoa the recipe recommends, as you might be able to tell.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Once Upon A Time...

EDITED TO ADD: Understandably, my friend does not want pictures of her kids on the internet so I have removed most of the pictures from this post to respect her wishes.

... we, temporarily of course, had four kids for about twenty-four hours. Whoo boy was that a little crazy! Dave and I kept reminding ourselves that it wasn't like actually having four kids unless 1) we'd had two sets of twins and 2) we didn't know half of each set of twins very well, like maybe they were separated at birth and then were reunited with us when the kids were four and one. You know, something like that! Anyways my friend asked me about taking turns swapping kids for overnights a few months ago and this past Friday was our trial by fire run! We had their two kids overnight and it actually went really well. We got to eat popcorn, drink smoothies and watch a "movie," also known as a 23 minute long Mighty Machines episode. (I put a link to Mighty Machines because I think I've talked about it a lot but never actually explained what is was.)
 When will this movie start?!? I need more popcorn.

The two older kids went to bed, where they proceeded to talk and giggle for about half an hour. We ended up separating the two of them so they could fall asleep.

The next morning everyone played, Dave read some stories, Rachel had her last swimming lesson and, after lunch, everyone had a nap. And then it was time for our two extra kids to go home, much to everyone's disappointment. It will be fun to have these kids over again but I must admit, I am even more excited for when Dave and I get to drop off our kids at our friends house and have a kid-free 24 hours while they get to temporarily have four kids! I'm so thankful to have good friends we can trade childcare with.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Celebrating Sam! Part The First

Sam turns FOUR on Saturday! Some days I wonder how on earth that is even possible?!?! It doesn't seem like four short years ago that we were awaiting his arrival and then experiencing his birth. (You can go here to read Sam's birth story if you haven't before.) Since Tim, Janice, Tessa and Willem are going to be out of town for Sam's birthday party we had a separate celebration with them after church today. Sam had very specific ideas for his cake -- "a Cars ice cream cake with a number '4' candle from Baskin-Robbins." He's had this plan ever since we went there for Dave's birthday a couple of months ago. So we had one of our semi-regular pizza and salad lunches with the Hedricks, complete with cake to celebrate Sam! It was a lot of fun!
Tim, Janice, Tessa and Willem gave Sam a Hess helicopter for his birthday and Sam has not turned it off since he got it. The rotors spin and the lights on both the helicopter and the rescue vehicle turn on. Sam LOVES it.
Sam did a good job of reading who his card came from.
Opening his present.
Uncle Tim put the batteries in and that was very intriguing!
Time for cake and singing.
Sam sang along too, which I thought was really cute :)
Rachel sat patiently with Auntie Janice.
Licking the candle off (don't worry, I'll wash it before we use it on Saturday!)
and digging in. The middle was chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
This cake was soooo delicious and I thought Baskin-Robbins did a great job.
Rachel enjoyed her cake too!
What a big girl feeding herself with a spoon.
It was so fun to celebrate Sam with some of our favourite people! Now on to the next party...