Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Weekend

Our last EASTER weekend in Canada . . . . it is bittersweet.  The warmer temperatures and melting snow are just reminder that Winter has ended and we have only a few months left in Toronto.  Although a nagging voice inside me kept taunting me with spending the extended 4-day weekend cleaning out closets and sorting through boxes, we chose instead to enjoy the time together doing . . . well . . . a little bit of everything.


Alex's Easter program at North Toronto Christian School was a beautiful beginning to the weekend.  Rows and rows of students singing and proclaiming the JOY of EASTER.  They sang 10,000 Reasons, Christ the Lord is Risen Today and O Happy Day.  They were adorable, amazing and everything else you would imagine a group of elementary students to be.


We went to Good Friday service at The People's Church.  The music was breathtaking - truly.  The church was packed.  So many people had to stand in the back because there were no seats.  There was no sermon, just music, communion and singing.  A quiet and somber reminder of Christ's death but at the same time the knowledge that Sunday - and with it REJOICING - is coming.  


We headed to Bruce's Mill on Saturday for the Maple Sugar Festival.  It was still on our "to do" list before leaving Canada.  We enjoyed seeing the process of making maple syrup, and Alex especially liked the free samples.  The kids are convinced that we need to "tap" our own maple tree and do this ourselves.

After our adventures at the Maple Syrup Festival, we headed to Target.  Target just opened in Canada.  There were LOTS of celebrities, LOTS of fanfare, and LOTS of comparisons between U.S. Target and Canadian Target.  I have mixed emotions about the whole thing.  It is complicated.  

After our trip to Target, we came home and grilled hamburgers.  It was so nice to have "grilling weather" again.  We spent about an hour decorating eggs.  I didn't take a single photo, but they were beautiful and creative Easter Eggs.  The kids did a great job. We spent the rest of the evening watching the Wichita State game.  As die hard Jayhawk fans, we are sad that KU didn't make it to the final four; however, we are thrilled to see another Kansas team represent!


"He is Risen."

We were up early to search for the eggs "mysteriously hidden" while we slept.  We can never find them all before church. This year there were still 6 missing when it was time to get dressed and leave for Easter service.  The church service was powerful . . .  the message so timely and yet so relevant.  

They showed this video before the sermon . . . for me a powerful reminder.

For me also, today brought the sad realization that it was our last Easter at our church in Toronto.

After church we enjoyed a lunch of ham, potatoes, vegetables and bread.  The afternoon has been quiet.  We watched last Sunday's episode of The Bible miniseries and the kids are now playing Animal Crossing on the Wii.  It is quiet.  Tomorrow will probably involve catching up on homework, leftovers, some laundry.  Possibly a trip to the theater to see the movie OZ.  One last day of rest before school & work on Tuesday.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Snowy Day Photos

I have wanted to take new individual photos of the kids for a long time.  As I dusted the fireplace mantle yesterday (yes, I occasionally do some minimal housework), I realized that the three photos I had on display were taken in Mexico!  Yikes!  The only problem was that it was COLD yesterday . . . like sub-zero temperatures cold.  Being the cautious mom that I am, I decided that if each kid was only outside for 5 minutes, no harm would come.  Here are our results.  I'm happy.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas 2012

This was our last Christmas in Toronto and it was very bittersweet.  We just love so many things about this city.  Friends, our church, the school, our house . . . it is going to be really difficult to leave this place.  So we tried to make the most of the holiday.  This past weekend we enjoyed the "Carols by Candlelight" service at The Peoples Church and an afternoon at the movie theater (Tyler & Scott saw The Hobbit / Alex, Hannah and I opted for Rise of the Guardians).  We spent Christmas Eve watching The Nativity Story (our annual tradition).  We also each open one gift on Christmas Eve - it is always pajamas.  We do this every year mostly so that everyone will have clean pajamas that fit for the Christmas morning photos!

Christmas morning was delightful.  We had no place to go so it was a very relaxing day.  Here is a small glimpse into our day . . .

I have now officially trained my dog to pose for photos!
Our Christmas Pajamas consisted of matching Feeken University shirts.
Yes, we are total dorks!!

O Christmas Tree . . . with the help of a special camera filter!

Same tree - no magic photo equipment.
(And I won't miss the hideous curtains in our house when we move.  Yuk!)

Hannah got Tajin in her stocking.  This would not make most people happy but for a girl
who spent her formative years in Mexico, it was a Christmas miracle.

Tyler & Alex pooled their resources to purchase a Paris picture from Ikea for Hannah.
She is obsessed with Paris and is attempting to decorate her room with everything and anything Paris.

Tyler wanted a Keurig for Christmas.  He is happy.

Tyler and Hannah bought Alex a Skylanders Giants game.  He was THRILLED!

A gift for Tyler from the Commonwealth of Virginia.  He can't wait to get his license!

I am so in love with my new boots.  I am taking the rest of my shoes to Goodwill.  

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Christmas Carol

Almost everyone now knows that Tyler, Alexander and Scott performed in a musical version of A Christmas Carol on December 7, 8, and 9.  I have not written about the play until now partly because I have just been so emotional about the whole thing.  I also have been very busy!

Tryouts for the production were in JUNE.  They began practicing in SEPTEMBER. So in many ways, the production has completely and totally monopolized our lives the past four months.  The boys practiced every Tuesday night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and most Saturdays.  When they were not at "formal" rehearsals, they were practicing their lines at home.  We listened to the CD in our car. We read The Christmas Carol.  We watched three different movie versions.  The list goes on and on.  The truth is that all five of us have almost the entire work memorized.

The play, which was put on by our church, was truly something special.  I'm amazed how many people came together and used their God given talents to tell Dickens' amazing story.  From the costume designers to the set builders to the actors to the musicians, everyone was amazingly professional.  There were five separate performances, with approximately 1700 people at each performance.  Tickets to the show cost $15.  All profits went to Save The Mothers, an organization working to reduce mother/infant mortality rates in Africa.  For the boys, it was truly an experience they will never forget.  I can't begin to express how proud I was of all three of them. 

The other highlight of the experience was that the daughter of dear Foreign Service friends, named Emily, was able to attend the show.   Emily has a rare, neuro-degenerative disease called MLD.  It is truly a miracle that she was able to come to the play . . . and it meant the WORLD to us.  I still get teary-eyed when I think about everything that had to happen for her to attend.

Several people have asked for a dvd copy of the play . . . that is probably not going to be possible (due to copyright issues).  I do, however, have a few video clips that might be of interest to some of you.

The first is a news clip that ran on Toronto local news the week prior to the show:

The following are 4 different scenes that feature the Cratchit Family:

I wish I could post all the photos I have from the play . . . but I will attempt to be a minimalist and only post my favorite 10 photos.  Some were taken by me and others were taken by a professional photographer.  I sincerely wish each and everyone of you could have been at the show.  One of my favorite aspects of Foreign Service life is that we are constantly in situations where we get to try different things, meet new people, and to just experience life.  Without question, being involved with this production will be one of the highlights of our time in Toronto!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

12-12-12 and Other Important Things

I think the fact that today is 12-12-12 is pretty cool.  While driving home today, I realized that I would never again see a day in which the month, day and year were the same.  There won't be a 13-13-13, 14-14-14, or 20-20-20.  I have never been one to consider dates significant, but it would have been really convenient to be born today or get married today.  It would be fun to say "12-12-12" every time someone asked when you were born or when you got married.  Since I've done both, there is nothing left (except the obvious but I would prefer a random day in 2062 for that).

So, I spent my day at the Etobicoke Olympium which has to be one of the coolest swimming pools (and by far the largest) that I have ever been to.  I was there for a high school swim meet.  Tyler, along with the rest of the NTCS swim team, was one of several swimmers competing.  Tyler did great!  He swam "personal bests" in the breast stroke and freestyle, earning a 4th place finish in the breast stroke.  Way to go, Tyler!

I also discovered how much FUN iMovie can be!  I've never used it before!!  So, below is not only a quick recap of the swim meet (for those of you who didn't see the need to fly to Toronto for a 1 minute race) but my first iMovie project!

Just think.  Years from now, I will always remember that I made my first iMovie on 12-12-12!!

UPDATE:  Something else really awesome happened today!  Scott got a Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State today!!!!  So proud of my man!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

NOVEMBER was a month to REMEMBER!

Okay, yes, that is a totally lame title for a blog post but hey, it was a great month!  It was also a BUSY month which is why I have not updated this blog for ages.  Here are the highlights!

Hannah's volleyball team took 1st Place at the ACSI Volleyball Tournament.  It was a great day that ended in tears of joys - literally - from many of the players!

We once again watched the Santa Claus Parade from atop of the U.S. Consulate.  It is not the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade . . . but it is still pretty cool.  And watching it from the roof of the Consulate so beats arriving at the break of dawn to line up on the street!

Good friends from our time in Mexico visited us for Thanksgiving.  We were so THANKFUL for this time together.  They are headed to an assignment in Nairobi so we don't know when we will get to see them again.

It was a great month!!  Now for December . . . .

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween 2012

Hannah = Katniss Everdeen = Obsessed About The Hunger Games
Alex = Captain America = Grandma Gave Him the Costume for His Birthday and I Wasn't Buying a New One
Tyler = Alien = Too Old to Trick-or-Treat but Couldn't Resist Dressing Up