Saturday, August 17, 2013

Just hanging around

I had the week off work and we chose to just stick around home and let the kids play and do a few special activities. Gaëlle has a bigger bike and has been hesitant to ride it. I suggested going for a bike ride and ending with ice cream. Success. She quickly got the hang of the bike and we made it all the way to the Ice Cream Place. 

Peter and Gaëlle have been accepted to French school. This is a big deal and a major transition for us. On Monday, we went to the school to look around. We ended up with a tour of the school Peter will be going to which was great. Our tour guide was so pumped about his school and just full of enthusiasm. The kids also tried out some of the playground equipment. 

There was plenty of time for crafts this week. Both kids were at art camp last week and came home with some great projects. This day, they pulled out various paints and went to town. 

One day the afternoon was a little cloudy so we went to the Art Gallery downtown and saw a photo opportunity by the Maud Lewis House. 

Freak Lunchbox is a candy store just around the corner from the Art Gallery so we made sure to stop off there. I gave the kids a $2 limit. So that took a while to choose.

Gaëlle chose a twirly lollipop.

I did some school work with the kids every morning. I promised a special activity at the end of the week as a thank you for their cooperation and good attitude. Peter has really struggled with math. We even went through a private assessment this spring and then met with the pyschiatrist and school resource teacher. We really didn't come to firm conclusions but did agree that he needed a different and focused approach on basic math concepts. So that's what we did this week. It seems to have made a huge difference and may be well worth continuing at different scheduled times through out the year. If I can take a week every little bit and just work on one concept using a different approach, I think it would be so beneficial. 

Anyway, he had a great attitude and worked hard every morning. So off to Upper Clements Park he went with one of his friends. 

I think his expression says it all. Kaylin and one of her friends took them and from what I hear, it was a fun day. 

This was Peter's favorite ride. He was all for spinning it but his friend was not too thrilled with that. So, they eventually went in their own cars so that Peter could spin to his heart's content. 

So where Gaëlle during this Amusement Park fun time. Well, let's just say, the attitude was not all that great for her during her morning time. She really struggles with reading and we've spent quite a bit of time and effort on that through the past 3 years. She has developed several strategies that she thinks will help her survive (and I believe this is all subconscious) but these strategies do not help her read any better. 

I've been very intentional this summer in helping her recognize these moments and putting words to the actions she is doing. This week was really rough at times. I wish I could video tape her reading sessions because I can so easily see the manipulations and games that she plays. But teachers at school are clueless and allow her to play her games. None of us really know how to deal with these. 

But I think this week even with the difficulties, we had a major breakthrough. She won't be able to move past these games that she plays until she recognizes them and through self discipline stops them. By Friday morning, she was able to stop herself, and read without playing her games. 

So, it was too late for her to go the the park with Peter, but I did her hair and then in the afternoon I took her to a movie complete with the kids pack of popcorn, Smarties, and a drink. She was disappointed that she couldn't go to the Park but she accepted it and moved on. We ended the week with smiles. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

African Festival

A few Sundays ago, we headed to the Halifax waterfront to experience a part of the African Festival. This is a small festival but I love the venue and the events. Plus we all love the food. Peter had the sampler plate from the Ethiopian booth. Gaëlle had a curried chicken wrap from a Caribbean booth. We all had lots of Ethiopian Puff Puffs. That is sweet deep fried dough shaped like a ball. Yum.

We all enjoyed the drumming demonstration. But none of us tried it out. 

We got to see several styles of dancing which was fun. So many gorgeous costumes and dresses. 

We did walk down the boardwalk to get some good ol ice cream.

It was a beautiful afternoon and just great to experience the multicultural flavour of the Halifax community.

The Vegan Foodie

Both of the older girls have experimented with their food choices over the years. I can remember the first time Emily decided to eat vegetarian. She basically removed meat and replaced it with meat substitutes. I don't think she was a fan of meat substitutes but it was an easy thing to do. 

This past year, Emily has gone back to a vegetarian lifestyle and it has become less about healthy eating and more about responsible living. Kaylin came back with her summer of cooking for tree planters where there would be a revolt if they didn't serve some kind of meat, and has decided to eat vegan. For her, it seems to be a desire to eat healthy. 

Both girls have introduced us to delicious food and recipes. Last night Kaylin treated us to Black Bean- Red Lentil Burgers. They were so good. She also made a quinoa salad which was unique tasting but so yummy. Peter wanted seconds and even thirds. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

She's home

Kaylin arrived home Sunday night. Unfortunately we weren't here to greet her but we were all smiles when we finally arrived home Monday. Now she has a month to relax and get herself ready for school.

Caton's Island Family Camp - Part 2

Sunday morning we had a giant Highland Games Competition. We were still in our same teams and had to rotate around the course through the different events. This was the log toss. 

This was the rock carry. We had to carry 2 milk crates loaded with rocks around the course and try to get the best time.

Peter did really well with this. For some reason, I stopped taking pictures at this point which is too bad. There were some really clever stations. Our team did not place in the Highland Games. But that's ok, it was fun.

Sunday night Peter was busy counting out our money for the pie auction.

We were the successful bidders on a cherry, Rolo chocolate, and lemon meringue pie. There were 11 of us in our team but at the end everybody is swapping pies to get a piece of the one you really want and there is always a ton left over. 

The camp provides the pie crusts and the ingredients for any pie you want to make. Anybody who cares to cook one can make a pie for the auction.

Some of the pies cooling.

There were so many families this year, that several brought tents and one family brought a trailer.

The Churchill gang on the barge, in the rain, going home. It was a different camp than previous summers because the older girls weren't there. But it was still fun and I'm so thankful for these opportunities to get together as a family.

Caton's Island Family Camp - Part 1

This past weekend was Family Camp at Caton's Island. We have been going every summer since Peter and Gaëlle have been part of our family. This was the 4th summer and it was different because Emily and Kaylin couldn't join us. As much as we miss them, you can see that the excitement was still pretty strong. One of us could barely contain herself.

It was a little more rainy than it often is. So the kids spent quite a bit of time in the rec barn.

Gaëlle was in heaven connecting with old friends and making new ones.

Regardless of the rain, the first night there is always a campfire and so a campfire was built.

It was surprisingly good.

My hood was firmly in place, but I still managed to eat my share of marshmallows.

There were hot dogs galore.

At the moment, this marshmallow was white, but the majority of the marshmallows consumed by Gaëlle were pretty dark.

There were 150 campers this year and 40 staff members, so the island was full. We started Saturday morning with a giant game of "Amazing Race". 

We were paired with another family who had triplet boys and a teenage daughter. Our first event was a basketball toss.

Robin showed off his mad skills in the fire building by piling up rocks and then building a tiny fire on top to burn the string. 

This was one of the more fun events but also the most challenging for us. We had to get our entire team over the wall and we couldn't use those nice wooden boards on the ends. 

The 2 dads went to the top of the wall and hauled us all over. This is the end when they threw themselves off on the net.

The rock climbing wall is always a huge hit. Josh was our adult member and one of the triplets did the kids side.

There was a bit of a delay waiting for the archery.


Josh helped Gaëlle with her turn.

We had to pour water in a trough and then into a bucket until it was full. We blew through this event. 

Robin got a little wet.

The kids had to dig clay and then make a bowl that would hold water.

Peter molded the bowl for our team. We ended the event in 3rd place which was pretty good. We were earning Monopoly money during the entire weekend for the pie auction at the end.

More time in the rec barn.

The canteen is always a hit with the kids.

3 cuties looking out the window.

Saturday afternoon was a little cold. Can you tell by the staff member who is spraying the slip and slide for the kids while she is wearing a coat, jeans and wool socks.

Peter is taking his turn on the zip line.

Gaëlle getting all buckled up for the zipline.

Finished and still smiling.

4 girls were trying one of the events at the rope course. You had to swing from one stand to another without falling off. 

There was lots of laughter.

Another highlight is the campfire when the staff does camp songs. 

Let's just say the staff was super energetic this year and it was a lot of fun watching them.

Saturday night ended with a movie and popcorn. They usually hold the movie outside but it was a bit wet.