You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2007.

It’s about that time of year when I start thinking about doing some Christmas baking.  I decided to try a new recipe on the weekend that looked promising.  It wasn’t an entire flop but it certainly didn’t turn out the way the picture made it look like it would.  I quickly decided that it wasn’t good enough to freeze and add to the baking I pull out for guests.  That meant that the vultures (also known as D and P) could descend upon it.  To make it a bit more appealing for them I dipped the flops in white chocolate and put them in a festive tin on the kitchen counter.  It’s working.  The vultures swoop in regularly and the flops are not going to waste.

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christmas-029.jpgchristmas-026.jpgMuch to D and P’s delight, we woke up this morning to find all the world a winter wonderland.  The snow could not have come too soon for these two guys who were suffering a serious case of the November blahs.  It had gotten so bad that they resorted to serious prayer and were thrilled to see those prayers answered.  They eagerly (and independently) started their math this morning in the hopes that I would be so pleased with them I would give them a “snow day”.  Traditionally, the first big day of snow means little gets done in the way of studying and I certainly didn’t want to go against tradition.  You couldn’t have seen two happier boys when I gave the go ahead to go outside and just play for today.

A few hours later, I looked out the window and had to chuckle.  All of the properties around us were covered in a pristine blanket of snow.  Our front yard hardly had a patch left of untouched snow.  D and P kept busy packing the white stuff in our extra-large recycling bin to make snow bricks for their forts.  Gone are the days of making nice snowmen.  All these guys can think of is the massive snowball fight they will have when the other kids on the road come out.  They have to be ready with their barricades.  Ah well…their rosy cheeks, smiling faces and enthusiasm are a welcome sight.  It certainly makes the winter season (my least favourite) a lot easier to bear.

They are now out there joyously pelting each other in their own version of war.  Not exactly my idea of a good time but it seems to amuse them.

christmas-016.jpgchristmas-016.jpgchristmas-007.jpgBy the time I think of getting a family photo done to put in Christmas cards, it is always way too late to book with Walmart or Zellers.  I decided to give the boys a chance to try and get that elusive family photo where all of us look pretty decent.  It’s tough for even the best photographer.  P and I are notorious for blinking at exactly the wrong time.  I was very pleased with what the boys produced.  D managed to prop up the camera on a laundry bin, set the time delay, run over and still look very natural in the family shot.  (Notice that all of us even have our eyes open.  Wow!) P managed to get a shot of me that I can live with.  That’s no small accomplishment either.  Not bad considering we didn’t have to drive anywhere or pay anything. 

christmas-001.jpgIn front of the Orillia Opera House there is a big evergreen tree.  This evergreen tree is the official Christmas tree for the downtown core.  Every year there is a big procession that leads to the tree and its official lighting.  We decided to join the festivities this year.  We started at the waterfront where we were offered free hot chocolate and cookies, as well as candles and song sheets.  The procession up the main street, led by a police car, began when the town crier (dressed in full regalia) vigorously rang his hand bell.  We all proceeded joyfully along carrying our lit candles and singing Christmas carols as we went.  D and P weren’t too interested in carolling.  They were more intent on spotting the A-channel guy with the big camera and trying to do silly things to get his attention, all in the hopes that they would be on the local news.  We made it in good time to the tree, remarkably with no one getting burnt or accidently (or intentionally) lighting anything on fire.  The town crier (dressed in full regalia) gave a “Hear ye, hear ye” speech and had us all call for Father Christmas to come out of the Opera House.  He came out with three helpers bearing candy canes for all the children.  We then had to count down, the switch was hit and the tree lit up.  I guess that was the part where we were supposed to say “ooh” and “aah”.  The Salvation Army Band was there and they started in on some classic Christmas songs.  I enjoyed singing along.  D and P were still intent on being goofy as the A-channel guy with the big camera was near by.  We ended the night by walking back to the car with D and P declaring that they definitely had the nicest Santa hats of anyone in the crowd.  As long as they carried that important observation away, I guess it was a worthwhile thing to go to.

mushrooms-049.jpgmushrooms-003.jpgI enjoy going for walks around here.  You never know what “treasures” you might find.  A few weeks ago, I spotted these bright orange mushrooms which had sprouted along the path out back.  They were there for only a couple of days but they certainly caught my attention as everything else was turning a monotonous shade of brown.   It’s funny how much variety of totally interesting fungii there is out this way.  I’ve taken to walking with my camera in an effort to snap some unique and beautiful still life shots.  Mushrooms don’t hang around for a long time so you really have to be ready when you find them.  Tomorrow could well be too late.

Today I found an assortment of feathers.  Judging from the length of the striped ones, I am guessing that they came from some type of hawk.  I really don’t know about the other ones.  I am tempted to research them on the internet but when you are on dial-up service you really have to want to know something quite badly to invest the time it will take to find out.  Well, it’s a small downside to living in such a peaceful place where one can find so many interesting things.

As predicted, D finished his story very quickly once he found out P was done.  The following is what his creative genius came up with (again with some editing from supermom):

“My story begins with me, Super Baa.  I am the sheep of the twenty-first century.  Far away from Canada, a super villain was at work making billions of fake money bills.  I did not know of this villain until 2008.  So I flew to the villain’s hideout but I couldn’t get in.  So I found a welding torch and made my way in.  All of a sudden, I was surrounded by ninjas.  I used my super fart to kill them but they were wearing gas masks.  I remembered my old judo lessons and in less than five minutes they were all out cold.  I kept on going.  I couldn’t find the super villain.  Then I wondered, “Is this really his hideout?”  It was a decoy.  I looked and looked.  I couldn’t find his hideout.  Months later, I got a call about where the super villain’s hideout was.  I left at once.  I flew all the way to China.  I found the super villain’s hideout.  It was huge.  I couldn’t get in on my own so I got my herd of sheep and broke in.  There were lasers everywhere that would cut you in half so I got out a mirror and deflected all the lasers.  Then I got the super villain and put him in jail.”

From reading this I think that it was probably a good thing that Super Baa at least had his orange belt in judo.  He probably would have been dead meat otherwise.  Who would have thought that one sheep with an orange belt could take out a bunch of ninjas?  I’m also quite pleased that Super Baa saved the day without killing anyone.  Maybe supermom is getting through to D and P after all. 

This is P’s super hero saga  (with some spelling and editing help from supermom):

“One day I was practicing by evil laugh.  I glanced at my CPU and saw that Super Ba kidnapped my assistant so I looked for their location.  I was terrified.  Super Ba had brought my assistant to a volcano so I used my super speed to get over there as fast as possible.  I found Super Ba at the rim of the volcano.  I said, “Let my assistant go!” but Super Ba dropped him to his horrible death.  I used my flying power to try to find him but it was too late.  Then I yelled, “Super Ba, you’re going down!”  So the war began.  Dun dun dah.  Super Ba used his super burp.  I deflected it with my force fields but force fields can’t block super farts.  Super Ba read my mind and used a super fart.  My welding mask blocked it.  I used my hammer and started whacking Super Ba.  I used my torch to weld him into the ground.  Then I used my super punch.  Super Ba went flying into the volcano.”

 Hmm… Super Mutilated Hamster saves the day by killing the bad guy who also killed some one.  Not exactly the happy story I would have written but then again I have never been a 10 year old boy who struggles to get thoughts down on paper. I think I will overlook the parts that I don’t like and focus on commending his efforts.

By the way, the Super Ba story is still in the works and will likely end very quickly now that P is done his story.  D is very fond of writing for a bit and then saying “to be continued.”  He assures me that it adds dramatic suspense to his story.  I think it’s his way of saying that he is tired of writing and would rather put it off until tomorrow instead of finishing it today.  Oh well!  At least he is getting original ideas out of his head and on to paper even if the written version is somewhat more succinct than the oral telling.  We all have to start somewhere even if that somewhere is one super hero whacking another one to the ground, welding him  there and then punching him into a volcano.

Maps change.  I know this.  What I don’t know is when and why maps change.  Maybe it was taught to me in geography or history a long time ago but it must have completely eluded me.  We started studying World War 1 yesterday.  We began by talking about alliances and which countries were part of the Central Powers and which were part of the Allied Powers.  Foolishly, I brought out a present day map of Europe to use as a visual.  We quickly discovered that key places like Serbia and the Ottoman Empire aren’t part of present day Europe.  Oops!  That’s because the map of Europe changed as a result of the Versailles Treaty.  O.K.  I learned something.  Thankfully, there is the internet and I was able to become Supermom for a moment and in no time at all locate a 1914 European map so that D and P didn’t have to try to learn this without a visual.  Phew!

It’s hard to remember what you haven’t lived through personally.  That’s why I love what the local co-op organized for today.  They arranged for the youth educator of the Orillia Legion to talk to the kids about his personal memories of growing up in London during World War II.  We listened intently to this gentleman for over an hour and a half as he told us story after story of evacuating London and living with a family in Wales, the London bombings, hearing the air raid sirens and having to go in an Anderson bomb shelter, living on rations and sharing their home with two Canadian soldiers.  He certainly brought the day to day home struggles of World War II to life.  My favourite story was of his best Christmas ever.  They had been living on meager rations for some time.  The store they were allowed to shop at decided to hold a contest.  The prize was a can of preserved peaches.  The speaker got a ticket because his mother was just too nervous to pick one.  He ended up getting the winning ticket and after their skimpy Christmas meal they savoured those peaches.  D and P were totally engaged in the story telling time and it really helped us all to think a little bit more about the sacrifices men and women made so that we might know freedom as well as the horrors of war.  We really do need to remember.

We’ve been studying world geography a bit this week starting with North America.  The boys were having a hard time getting the Central American countries straight until we came up with “Green bugs, each having nice claws, rip paper.”  Each of the first letters of the words stands for a Central American country from north to south and west to east – Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama.  Wow!  Suddenly Central American countries aren’t that difficult to identify after all.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.