The 2017 MacDonald Family Christmas Tree Hunt (and Blogger Christmas Swap)

Read about previous years: 20162015, 2014, 20132012201120102006

It felt like Christmas at the beginning of November when we got our first snowfall, but the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having now hardly make it feel like the middle of December. While it wasn’t a winter wonderland this weekend, the warm weather made for an easy and enjoyable time to be out looking for our Christmas tree. In fact, it was so nice that we decided to spend all weekend out in the bush adventuring!

As we’ve been doing for the past few years we headed out to the Junior Forest Wardens’ lot in Jumpingpound on Saturday. It’s super easy but we’ve decided that next year we’re going to be more adventurous – particularly if the weather is as nice because everyone was out there and it was just too busy! Still, we managed to get a spot in the parking lot and headed out to find ourselves a tree.

E’s got his game face on – he’s ready to go get his first Christmas tree
Felt a lot more like a spring day than December out there

I don’t know if it was the weather or what but we really struggled to make a decision (sometimes it helps when it is really cold  – just cut something already!). We finally settled on a tree, chopped it down and hauled it out to the Disco. Then E enjoyed his first campfire (and watched us eat some hotdogs) before we headed home.

Post-tree success selfie

We had a to cut a little more off the tree before we could get it into the house but we were able to set it up right away since it wasn’t frozen. We decorated it after dinner and even though I think it is a little wonky, E’s excitement totally makes up for it.

I was more restrained in my decorating this year and didn’t insist that every ornament we own end up on the tree

Having the tree up meant that I could put up my new ornament that I got from Becky for the 2017 Christmas Blog Swap. I can’t wait to a take a photo of the little guy all decked out in his Christmas PJs to put in it! She also sent also some candy cane chocolates which I devoured immediately.

Just waiting for the perfect Christmas photo

Sunday morning we again loaded everyone up and headed out since it was just too nice to spend time doing chores. This time we headed north of the city to the area near Water Valley – a place I’ve never been – to hang out and help some friends with their Christmas tree hunt. We brought the portable BBQ and roasted hotdogs for lunch while we lounged around in the sun. Then we helped with the Christmas tree hunt, did a short walk and soaked up a little more sunshine before having to head back to the city.

Glad we chose outside over chores on a day like this!
Our perfect little hangout spot

We keep saying that we need to spend more time outdoors so it was nice to finally just do it (even if it means that my house isn’t clean).

Advertisements

What We’ve Been Up To – How is it Already December?

Dear November – how are you over already?

Things have been pretty busy since we returned from Vancouver. I keep hoping things will quiet down but then I’m not doing a very good job of saying “no” to all sorts of stuff. Its a bit out of control and leading to a bit of frustration these days. We’ve been up in Edmonton, doing a bunch of stuff around the house and hosting gramps for a week so it certainly hasn’t been quiet!

Of course work is busy (it always is) and I’m looking forward to the start of Christmas break. I’ve got lots of projects on the go in my classroom so its mostly pretty fun but a lot of work.

The classroom goldfish waiting out the weekend in our bathroom at home before moving into our classroom aquaponics system

On the home front Scotch has been dealing with yet another monster cold which means we’re all dealing with the cold. He seemed to get better, we got worse and now he’s got something else.

Sleeping off his cold while we were up in Edmonton. Yet again he managed to match his sleepwear to the hotel linens.

Speaking of the little guy – he turned 8 months on Friday (how did the time go by so fast?) and is so much fun. He’s generally a happy guy but has learned to express his displeasure when he isn’t thrilled with things (tonight he did not like his soup for dinner). I keep thinking he’s going to crawl any day now and he is desperate to be able to move in any way possible. He’s got an official check-up on Wednesday and I’m excited to find out how big he is.

Helping Dad install the new sink faucet

Winter showed up early this year so I’ve been working on adjusting to that. After some dedicated searching on Kijiji I was finally able to purchase a cross-country ski kit for our Chariot and we took it out for test run after the first snowfall. We only skied for about 20 minutes but it was great to be out. Since then all our snow in the city has disappeared and we haven’t made the time for a longer adventure but I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get out again soon.

The colder weather has had me in holiday mode since the middle of November. I’ve secretly been wearing Christmas socks and have actually done a large part of my Christmas shopping already. I’m looking forward to getting the lights and tree up (hopefully this coming weekend) and I have a few Christmas crafts on the go.

We’ve got three work weeks left before break and I’ve got a lot of things I need/want to get done so December is going to be busy too! I’ve also started a holiday bucket list and am determined that we’re not going to spend the whole month working!

Vancouver in the Fall

It’s not often (or really ever) that I get to take mid-school year trip but this fall I won our provincial indoor lawn bowling women’s singles competition and had the opportunity to travel to Vancouver to represent Alberta at the National Championships. E is still too little to be without me for 10 days so at the start of November the whole family headed west for our third west coast adventure of the year.

While I was definitely there to bowl, the schedule left me with quite a few opportunities to do some exploring too. So when I wasn’t on the green (where I performed with mixed results but was generally happy given that this was my first time playing on an indoor surface) we tried to get out and enjoy some mini-adventures.If you ever find yourself hanging out around the Pacific Indoor Bowling Club, here are a few easy things to do!

City Parks and Fall Foliage

Over the 8 days we had in the city, we took multiple trips to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Park to take in the fantastic fall weather and amazing colours. We had warm, sunny weather for the first couple of days we were there so took advantage with some long walks up the hill. We had a decent fall in Alberta but it was pretty nice to extend it for another week, especially with the leaves being brilliant shades of yellow and red. Everywhere I looked someone was taking a photo of the leaves.

We did a lot of walking on the paths, just looking at the gardens, the views of the city and checking out the ducks.

If you don’t want to tackle the park, the nearby neighbourhood streets or one of the many little parks were also great places to stretch out legs and get outside. Next time we’re there, E should be a bit older and I know we’re going to love playing at all the playgrounds.

Bloedel Conservatory

Located in Queen Elizabeth Park, this was the perfect hour long outting on the one day it poured with rain. We got soaked walking up from the club (except E, who was nice and dry inside his stroller) but warmed up inside the tropical dome. The conservatory isn’t huge but we all enjoyed looking at the plants and birds (perfect for the little guy as the birds are SO close).

Hillcrest Aquatic Centre

If only our pool facilities in Calgary were as awesome (and affordable) as this one was. E’s dipped his toes in the ocean and we’ve tried a few lake dips but this was his first time in a real swimming pool. We weren’t sure how he was going to handle it but both times we went he seemed to enjoy the experience (except a major meltdown waiting for the showers). This pool has a huge lap pool but also offers a shallow kiddie pool with a lazy river, spray features and a very shallow splashing area. I thought the water was a little too cool for infants but not too bad. They also have a gradual depth hot tub so when we got chilly E was able to sit there and splash. The best part was that admission was only $6 for the three of us, which made me feel a little bit better about only spending 15 minutes or so in the pool. They also have an amazing universal change room and shower facility.

The Public Library

There is a small branch near the club and E loved going to read a few books, play with their toys and watch the other kids, We went over every day – sometimes twice a day for a little break.

Capilano Salmon Hatchery

I’ve always wanted to see the salmon on their annual spawning and while this isn’t a huge run, it is an easy way to see some fish. The hatchery is about 30 minutes from the lawn bowling club but on the Monday I only had a morning game so we used the afternoon to cross this longer adventure off the list. Since we didn’t have a rental car for the week we took advantage of Car2Go’s new SUVs and just “stopped” over while at the park.

It was very quiet while we were there so we had most of the facility to ourself. We checked out the fish waiting in the river, watched a few use the fish ladder through the observation windows and took a short walk in the forest.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

About a 30 minute walk (or a very short drive, we drove) from the club, this was an easy place to meet some friends and catch up while we walked. I’m sure the gardens are more spectacular in the spring/summer but again they were pretty quiet on Friday afternoon.

I can’t remember how I felt about the city last time, but this time I definitely fell in love with it and we certainly spent part of our trip dreaming about permanently heading west. We were all a little sad to land back in Calgary (and only part of that was because it was -20oC) and are already looking forward to heading back that way again.

What We’ve Been Up To – Summer 2017 Recap

We’re well into fall now and I can’t really believe that it is already halfway (or more) through September so this post is a little behind but I figure better late than never.

Summer always seems to fly by – this was my 5th summer off (thanks teaching job!) but I’m still amazed at how fast the time seems to go, even when you have every day as vacation. This summer Jon was off too and that gave us time for some big adventures (California! Victoria!), but we kept it pretty low key when it has come to the smaller adventures and seemed to do less than normal.

Lawn bowling kept us very busy – almost too busy. Both of us earned spots on our provincial team this year and while that cut down on the number of times we had to travel to Edmonton, it meant that we spent at lot of time on greens practicing. We’ve been pretty lucky that the lawn bowling community has basically adopted our child – he’s got grannies and aunties and sometimes strangers who want to cuddle and hangout while we bowl which makes it possible for both of us to play.

Just another day of practice

Being on the provincial team meant we had the chance to represent Alberta at the Canadian Lawn Bowling Championships in Victoria, BC and spent a week competing there which took up a large part of August but was a ton of fun!

Our house always has at least one home repair going on and this summer we tackled some outdoor landscaping projects. They started quite small and grew into larger projects that we still haven’t finished. Luckily Jon is off this September and has been working to finish them! Then he’s got a huge list of indoor projects to keep him busy…

In the early states of landscaping

After a disappointing start (I had to plant my bean seedlings three times before enough grew) our garden finally kicked it into gear in August and was overflowing the beds! While we have nothing like we used to have at the old house was enough stuff growing now that we had big leafy salads, fresh beans, herbs and lots of sautéed greens.

Our back alley raspberry patch and our sour cherry tree were also super productive. We managed to harvest almost all of the raspberries but our tree just has so many cherries that I wasn’t able to keep up. We definitely had some delicious raspberry pies and sour cherry cobblers more often than we maybe should have.

There were a few mornings where I ate sour cherry cobbler and yogurt for breakfast…
Our back alley raspberries were very productive this year
I don’t think the white ones taste as good as the red but they are all so pretty

And what about that summer bucket list? We managed to do almost everything on it at least one but I would have liked to spend a little more time hiking and camping since we only did those once.

  • take the little guy camping – check! One night at Bow Valley was all we squeezed it but I’m still pretty happy we got out.
  • Go for a paddle – I’d hoped we get out for an actual trip but I’m still happy that we did lots of paddling at the lake this summer.
Sunset paddles
  • Go hiking – we did a very short hike while camping but that was it.
  • Use the smoker – and try something new (I’m thinking a smoked cheese?) – sort of since I did smoke a brisket (and it was perfect)  but not a new item
  • Play in the river – we did a little bit but it was often too hot to walk down
  • Get our front flower beds redone – nope
  • Finally chop down the rest of the apple tree – nope
  • Have a camp fire – while we were camping we managed to cross this off but then the fire ban sort of put an end to this one
  • Take another family vacation at the cabin – yes! it was lovely and relaxing
  • Have a picnic – finally! We had burgers and slurpies (see below) in the park by our house.
  • Drink all the slurpies – I had more this year than I’ve had in a while and my favourite was definitely this apple cider one from Sea Cider while we were in Victoria.

And while I’d hoped we do some more adventurous things, looking back we had a pretty fun time. I know next summer will be totally different (a mobile little one will make a few things more challenging) so I’m glad we all got to share this first summer together as a family.

Baby Scotch at 5 Month

The little guy celebrated his 5 month-versary by spending his first full day at daycare. I can’t believe how big my little baby has gotten!

.

What He’s Been Up To

Growing – we got on the scale the other day and I think he’s in around 16.5 lbs. He’s definitely all delightful chubby rolls on his arms and legs! What I think I notice most about his growth these days isn’t the weight gain but how much he has changed in appearance. He looks like a little boy now (instead of a baby) and his eyes have started to darken up. Also, his hair has finally started to come back in although I’m not sure exactly what colour it is.

Eating – still all the time (including a few wake ups at night). He is more distracted now when he nurses so it can be a bit of a struggle but in general he’s pretty good at nursing and taking a bottle. He seems pretty interested in solid foods but we’re going to wait until closer to 6 months before we take that plunge!

Sleeping – still remains elusive. He wakes up a few times at night to eat, and sometimes a few times at night just to babble at us. When we first had him I was totally against co-sleeping but now at 5 months he ends up in our bed almost every night at some point.

play – he definitely plays with stuff now and can even keep himself occupied. The excersaucer remains a favourite play place – he gets in it first thing in the morning and is just as happy as can be – but he is also enjoying a set of coloured texture balls and his stuffed pink elephant.

.

He still loves to read and has finally figured out that the crinkle books are fun for him to play with as well.

Reading his crinkle books on the way to the cabin

Fun stuff – he still really into standing and will happily stand (with support) for as long as you’ll hold him up.

He’s also loving putting things into his mouth – especially drinking glasses although anything goes in there if he can grab it.

What We’ve Been Up To

I’ve been trying to soak up time with the little guy and Jon before heading back to work so lots of the month was just hanging out.

We did have a 10 day trip to Victoria and a few days at the cabin too.

Get got o hang out with gramps while we played
Just hanging out at the ocean again
Getting some help from Patches with this whole swimming thing

What We’re Looking Forward To

This month has a lot of changes for us with him starting daycare and me back at work. Our first week wasn’t so bad but we’ll see how it goes as there are a lot of moving parts and new routines.

Jon is also away so I’m doing my first solo parenting stint. So far its been better than I thought it would be but I’m still looking forward to having him home.

I finally started cloth diapering over the past few days and I’m looking forward to figuring it out. I’m already mildly obsessed with the whole process and I suspect that I’m going to lose many hours of my life to research and experiments. Stay tuned!