Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What's up Wednesday

What we're eating this week...
Sunday - Pizza at E's birthday party 
Monday - Pumpkin macaroni and cheese
Tuesday - White bean, turkey, kale, and crouton bowls
Wednesday - Baked Chicken Tacos (our Halloween tradition)
Thursday - Salmon, sweet potatoes, vegetables
Friday - Burrito Bowls
Saturday - not sure, maybe we will go out

What I'm reminiscing about...
Our Disney trip!  I posted about it last week here and I've been talking about it since we've been back.  We are reading Disney stories and watching Disney movies.

What I'm loving...
Online shopping.  I got snowsuits for both boys and some other winter things.  I am having less patience for sifting through sizes in a kid's store.  And the Canada Post rotating strike has not really affected delivery (yet).

What we've been up to...
Celebrating birthdays - Q had a party at the end of September, and E's birthday celebrations spanned two weekends.  Time to put the Happy Birthday banner away for now.

What I'm dreading...
It's not dread exactly, just the feeling that I need to "gird my loins" for the production of getting out of the house with all of the winter things. 

What I'm working on...
We went to Barcelona three years ago and we have still not made our photo book, so I'm trying to wade through our pictures and put it together now.  I try to do a little bit each night.  Luckily I did these blog posts so it is a little easier to put the photos in the right order.

What I'm excited about...
I'm trying to get our Barcelona book done because we are going there again in January!  Just Dave and I are going this time; it is a reward trip with his company for his successful year.  It will be fun to visit a city we have already been too; I'm excited to eat the good food and visit some places we missed last time.  E is disappointed we are going without him, but we will plan something with both boys soon.

What I'm watching/reading...
We just finished Season 2 of Ozark on the weekend. Now watching The Haunting of Hill House, Making a Murderer, The Great Canadian Baking Show, and Jeopardy (one of my friends from law school was on the show but I didn't know when his episode will air, so I recorded it everyday just in case.  He will be on this Friday though! Good luck JBG!).

I'm reading In the Unlikely Event but Judy Blume, and have The Girl with Seven Names and China Rich Girlfriend on my nightstand to pick up next. 

What I'm listening to...
I've found a new podcast - Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.  You may know Dax as an actor in various projects, but he is also Mr. Kristen Bell. He's funny, he talks to celebrities, I'm in. 

What I'm wearing...
My poppy.  I used to wait until after Halloween to start wearing my poppy, I liked to keep my holidays separate. But the campaign started this week so we got our poppies at the grocery store on the weekend.  Remembrance Day is on a Sunday this year so I'm deciding between going to church where they will recognize it in some way, or going downtown to a service.  

What I'm doing this weekend...
We have no plans so far, which sounds good to me!  I'm looking forward to a plain old weekend with no set plans. 

What I'm looking forward to next month...
The Christmas season begins!  Right now it feels far away and I don't feel ready to jump into the Christmas spirit yet, but I know I will be excited soon. 

What else is new...
Not much else, Dave has started a few projects around the house, some painting, reorganizing the storage in the basement, and planning some landscaping for next spring.

Linking up with ShaySheaffer, and Mel.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Weekend Recap

On Friday night we ordered some Indian food from a local spot.  It was so tasty and everyone enjoyed it.  Then E went down to work on his birthday lego and Q and I watched some Paw Patrol (well, I read my book). 

On Saturday morning it was raining so we went to the grocery store and then Home Depot.

Crazy drivers coming into the store.

Then we dropped E off at his friend's house.  She was invited to E's birthday party but couldn't make it so she had him over for a play date and they went out for brunch. While he was there, Q, Dave and I went to Ikea.  

Dave went to pick up E and then stayed for a bit to visit with her parents;  while he was gone I napped, read my book, and did some baking.  I made this copycat Starbucks pumpkin loaf and it was delicious.  I also used up some apples to make an apple crisp, and made a soup in the slow cooker. 

Dave started painting the pipes down in the basement.

And we played.

After supper we listened to this playlist, and hung out in the living room.

Corn chips eaten out of a toy cup in his little cave.

On Sunday morning I had to go pick up E's birthday cake for his party at the Superstore, and when I got back, the kids got into their costumes and we went to the St. Joseph's Bloor West Halloween Fest.   E just wore an old costume so his costume for this year wouldn't get wet and dirty.  We usually go to this event, but I'm not sure if it was just the weather but it didn't seem as good this year.  We were there for about an hour.

I do love seeing the different costumes!

We got home for lunch and for Q's nap, and then drove up to Rinx Real Entertainment Centre for E's birthday party.  We have always done birthday parties at home but this year we let E choose a party somewhere else.  We chose the Extreme Party package - three different activities, time in the party room, pizza, and french fries.  The activities we chose were floor hockey, laser tag, and mini golf.  There is a minimum of 10 kids so that's how many we invited. 

Check out the board at the front!

Q is ready to party!

First up was ball hockey.  Q did well playing by himself at first and then he joined the game ran around with the boys. 

The boys taking a break before laser tag.  This is a lot of boys and they are loud and excited at all times ;)

Suited up for laser tag.  We brought the iPad so Q watched some Paw Patrol while the boys did this activity.  Dave played a round with them and then I played.  I had never played laser tag before, it is pretty fun (aside from when I ran full tilt into a half wall and hurt my arm, none of the kids got hurt, just the mom).

Back to the room to eat.  We brought some popcorn and cheesies and they were a big hit.  We also brought strawberries, oranges, and mango.  The mango was almost more popular than the french fries.  

Cake time! 

Not excited at all!

This guy hung in their with the big kids.   He was pretty quiet and I think he was just amazed at all of the activity.

After the food we went to our last activity, mini golf.   There was no rhyme or reason to this activity - the boys were all over the map, not really taking turns, not quite grasping the concept of the least amount of hits is the goal, taking big swings with their putter, etc.  But we didn't lose anyone and then it was time for the parents to pick them up.

We brought the neighbourhood kids back with us so we had a full car!

The Rinx spot was great.  It is by Yorkdale so not super close, but not that bad.  We had a coordinator with us all day to help manage the kids and run the activities and he was great.  The food was fine for a kids birthday party and they provide the plates, napkins, and cups.  The activities we chose were fun.  It was pretty easy to book, but if we were to do it again, I would book farther in advance, since this time we were limited on dates and times.  The cost is comparable to other birthday party places, but I think this worked out to be less than some of them because it included the food.  It all worked out well, and I would recommend them.   We did E's birthday invitation through Echoage this year.  People invited to the party have the option (and everyone did it) to make a contribution to group gift and a charity.  E wanted to choose the Terry Fox Foundation for his charity but they didn't have that, so he picked the Canadian Cancer Society.  They look after sending the money to the charity and they send a cheque to us for the group gift.  E may pick another Lego set but we'll see when the money arrives what he actually wants to do.

After we got everyone home, bathed, and put to bed, I went to yoga and then we watched some TV before hitting the hay.  What a Sunday!

Monday, October 29, 2018


This was the last book on my 2018 reading list, Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez.

I heard about this book on the CBC last year when it was published.  This is the author's first novel  and it has landed on a few lists over the past year.  I knew I wanted to read it because it is set in Toronto and I love Canadian books where I have some connection.  However, although I live in the same city as these characters, our lives are so different. The story follows students at Rouge Valley Public School and their families. It is told from the point of view of the kids and sometimes their parents.  Entwined with that is the weekly report done by the woman who runs the literacy program at the school and emails from her supervisor.  The kids are connected because they attend the literacy program with their parents.  It tells of their struggles to find housing, keep food on the table, mental health struggles, challenges with the health and education systems, along with things all kids and teens (and adults) have to deal with like their identity.  

As usual I don't like to give away anything about the plot, but what really intrigued me about this book is that you know these are true stories (it's a fictional book, but you know these same stories are playing out everyday across our city).  I have no idea what people have to deal with everyday, I am so fortunate, so I need books like this to illuminate my mind.  You know people are struggling but to hear exactly how they feel, what they think of people trying to "help" them, and the layers of their lives, not just that they are poor.  I know that sound trite, but it's important.  Those of us in positions of privilege often paint poverty with the same brush but if we want to help we need to realize there is not one simple answer for everyone.  However, on the flip side, there are certain things that can be easily fixed.  In the reports of the literacy centre, Ms. Hina remarks that she needs more snacks for the kids so they can have a proper breakfast.  Her supervisor says it's a literacy centre, not a drop in breakfast program, but Ms. Hina sees that something as simple as a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit will make all the difference in those kids' day.  

One thing I often struggle with is how to help people that live in my own city.  I tend to contribute to charities that are poverty based, such as food banks, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and shelters, but I always wonder how I can do more than just make donations (not that they aren't very important to the work of those places).  I know there is also an image of the "well-meaning white woman" who thinks she knows best and alienates the people she is trying to help.  I don't know the answer, but understanding the nuances of poverty in this city is at least one place to start.  

I would recommend this book to you.  It doesn't matter if you live in Toronto or not; the characters in this book live where you live.  When you see them on the street, you can look at their faces and perhaps see a bit more of their life than what you did before. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Disney Part 3

Onto our last two days!  We went to Hollywood Studios on our third park day.  We knew E wanted to do the Jedi training so he and Dave went to the front of the gates on their own so they could sprint over to sign up as soon as they could.  Mom, Q, and I took our time and lined up with everyone else. 

Another beautiful hot day! 

First stop was Toy Story Land!  We love Toy Story and these are the movies that both kids have actually watched.

Dave and E got in line for Slinky Dog while we tried out the Alien ride.

The details here are just great.

I had done parent swap but E wanted to do the alien ride with Dave and we didn't have time for him to do Slinky again so I went by myself. 

After that I ran back to catch them on the ride.

We had Fast Passes for Star Tours that we were able to squeeze in before Jedi training.

This was definitely a highlight for E.

They were taught the sequence of moves by the Jedi trainers.

And then they had to use those moves on Darth Vader or Kylo Ren.

Such a cool thing to do.  E got to pick out a light sabre at the gift shop after he and Dave did Star Tours again.

Not sure what this face is all about, but you get the idea, I swear he liked sitting on the land speeder.

After the Star Wars stuff we went over to the Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster to use our Fast Passes.  This is a cool coaster and goes very fast in the dark. 

While Q and I waited for Mom, Dave and E to do the second round on the coaster (with parent swap), I wondered if we were going to make it!! It got so hot and Q was not a happy camper (both because he was hot and because Dave left us).  We wandered into a store and the bathroom to cool off, and then found a table to sit and eat our meal.  Just as I was doing the mobile order, the others came to meet me, so good timing.  We got Mexican bowls for our lunch and they were really good. 

After lunch we went to see the Indian Jones show.  Dave remembers this as a highlight from when he visited in high school, and it was still as entertaining.  E loved it and Q managed to remain happy for the entire show.  These are popular movies in our house and now we will have to show them to E.  It was nice to sit and relax in the shade for a little bit too.  

Then it was onto Tower of Terror as our last ride of the day.

Note E in the bottom right corner covering his ear.  Dave is trying to tell him it's almost over.  Needless to say, he did not want to go on it again so just Mom and I went on the parent swap pass.

As we walked down the street, we noticed the Storm Troopers were coming.  I think Q is saying "Uh oh!"

We grabbed some frozen margaritas for Mom and I, a beer for Dave, and a frozen lemonade for E and headed for home.  However they won't you let out of the park with alcoholic drinks so we had to do some shopping while we finished them.  We left with a Woody and a Buzz Lightyear.  Well played Disney.

Back to the pool when we got back to the hotel, but Q couldn't make it and had to go back to the room for a pre-dinner nap.  The rest of us enjoyed cooling off though.  We ate at the hotel cafeteria again.  Mom ordered éttoufée from the lobby bar and the kids had pizza.  

We got some yummy desserts too - Mickey praline, mini King Cake (both of these are New Orleans treats), and I can not resist a holiday themed sprinkle cookie.

Dave took Q back to the room to go to bed, and Mom, E and I went to the bonfire.

Spanish moss in the trees.

The path to the neighbouring resort, Riverside. 

We also stopped by the arcade for E to play a few games (and I managed to get in a turn at pinball).

I dropped Mom and E back at the room and then Dave and I went to the bar to get our own dinner and enjoy a Kentucky Mule.

Wednesday was our last day.  We had planned our first four days at each of the Disney parks and decided to use our 5th day for the park we liked the best.  Since we picked Magic Kingdom, we knew we had to stay for the fireworks again, so we ate breakfast at the hotel, and then spent the morning at the pool, planning to get to the park for around noon.

One of the reasons for going back to Magic Kingdom was for E to play the Sorcerer game again so the first stop was to pick up more cards and make sure his Magic Band was registered. 

Our first ride was Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.  We had missed this on our first day so we were able to get a Fast Pass this time. 
Look at that intense shooting!

Another classic ride, the Tea Cups (Q says no pictures!).

E also wanted to go back to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.  We did this on our first day and they will put the camera on people in the audience throughout the show.  E was picked on our first day to be one of the monsters, so he loved that, and I'm sure this was why he wanted to go back to this show.  In our second viewing on this day, they put the camera on Dave and he had to get up and dance.  What are the chances?  But it solidified E's love for this ride. 

After we did that we went over to Liberty Street to start the Sorcerer game.   Here are some photos  of E looking at various mirrors.

The afternoon parade happened by while we were trying to cool off near the air conditioning so we got to watch that.  It was good, lots of familiar characters.  

After the parade we went over to get a small snack and drink before going to a different land for more Sorcerer. 

Finding a shady spot for Q to play with his dinosaurs (I told you they were a good idea!).

Then we hopped on the train that encircles the park. 

We had reservations at Tony's Town Square Restaurant, an Italian place.   The food was very good and so was the service, but Q was not in a good mood so we couldn't stay for too long. 

While I took Q outside I realized that people were already starting to get settled in for the fireworks, so I set off to get a spot.  On our first day we hung out near the back of the crowd so we could easily leave, but we missed out on seeing a lot of the castle so this time we wanted to get much closer.  

Q played with the Winnie the Pooh we had bought that day and treated him like a baby, putting a diaper on his, giving him a soother and a drink of water.  He did this over and over again. 

Mom and I waited in our spot while Dave and E did some more sorcerer cards.  

When they got back, E and I hopped over to the Buzz Lightyear ride to use our last Fast Passes.

We got back in plenty of time to see the show.  The images on the castle are so captivating, I sometimes forgot to watch the fireworks. 

Although we were up near the castle, it was very easy to get out of the park afterwards and to the busses.  Disney opens up a pathway behind the buildings on Main Street so we just walked out that way. 

Buzz was waiting in our window of our room when we got home.

The next morning we ate our breakfast at the hotel and then waited for the Disney Express to take us back to the airport.  Bye for now Disney!

Back home, playing with their new Disney toys.

Phew! Thanks for sticking with me through these three days of posts.  You can read about Part 1 here and Part 2 here, and my random thoughts about the Disney experience here.