This Christmas, we had a pretty quiet holiday in California. After Matthew’s birthday, we went to a local nursery to pick up a Christmas tree. Just like last year, I put the tree in the hatch back of Cynthia’s car. It really is incredible how well it fit. Once we got the tree to the house, the kids played in the front yard while I prepared it to come in the house.
Once inside, we started decorating. This is the first year that Samantha really helped with the tree. Although she often removed a bunch of decorations, she put many of them on for us. Matthew put the star on the top and he was most distressed when Samantha would decide that something looked better in her hand than on the tree. With the tree decorated, we played Christmas music until bed time and the kids danced and played while we relaxed.
I worked on Christmas Eve but snuck out early to join everyone for a quiet evening. We had some friends over and enjoyed a simple meal. I made a shrimp rice meal along with some mussels and some crab. The kids mostly ate chicken nuggets but some ventured to try the seafood.
Sure enough, after we went to sleep, Santa visited and brought some gifts for Matthew and Samantha. Matthew got a Star Wars tank vehicle and Samantha was so excited to see a bike by the tree. Uncle Steve sent a remote control car for Matthew which he loves and was playing with again just a couple of days ago. In the afternoon, we enjoyed some movies from Grandma Heather and Poppa, including Up! which was great. Of course, we had to take a break so Matthew could drive his new RC car while Samantha rode her bike along the sidewalk.
One of the gifts we gave Matthew was a junior paleontologist kit that had a bunch of tools and some pretend mammoth bones encased in some plaster. He worked carefully on it for a while but somehow we ended up missing a couple of pieces. But, he had a great time extracting the bones and cleaning them.
I took the week off between Christmas and New Year and we did some more tourist-y things around the area. We went to the Exploratorium in San Francisco which the kids loved. It was a great holiday and Samantha still says “more presents” from time to time.
Matthew’s grade one class had a “Winter Sing” this December. Matthew’s class sang three songs and we have some clips from those songs in the video. While Cynthia snapped some pictures and captured this video, Samantha and I enjoyed the concert. With each song Samantha danced, entertaining many of the people sitting near us.
After the event, we met with Matthew at his classroom. By then, it was quite dark outside and we walked home together while enjoying the sight of Jupiter in the night sky.
Jumping Jack Grandma came to visit us for a while in December. Apparently, there is snow in Ottawa this time of year. A snow storm was forecast to hit the city when her flight was to leave so with a quick call to the airline and flights rebooked, she arrived one day earlier to enjoy the warmer weather here in California. While here, she helped us to celebrate Hanukah. Matthew was especially excited to light the candles.
While I was at work, they went shopping to pick up some Hanukah gifts for the kids. Matthew and Samantha picked out what they wanted and you can see some of them in the pictures.
While Samantha napped one day, Matthew and his Grandma went to see “Planet 51” at the theatre and had a great time. Matthew still sometimes talks about that movie and wants to see it again. Cynthia also appreciated some mother/daughter time while I took care of the kids one afternoon.
After a few days with us and some other friends in the area, it was time for her to return to the cold of Ottawa. It was a great visit.
In December, we celebrated Matthew’s 7th birthday. During the week before his birthday, we had a party for him and his friends at Build-A-Bear. I came home from work early that day and Samantha and I stayed home while Cynthia and Matthew went to meet the guests. Everyone built their own bear and Matthew opened his gifts. Matthew loved his party and was happy to be with his friends.
Later that week, we had a cake on Matthew’s birthday. I baked it (counting carbs as I went so Samantha could enjoy it) and Cynthia put a small Star Wars toy on for decoration. After enjoying some cake, Matthew opened a gift from us. We gave him a video game, “Lego Indiana Jones 2”. Matthew had been watching demo videos of this game for weeks online and was so excited to get it. The special thing about the game is that you can actually create your own levels. Although Matthew and I have spent most of our time playing the game, we have worked together to build a couple of small levels. But, he does seem very interested in creating his own games and I think that is why he wanted it so bad.
He really is growing up though. His adult front teeth are all in and he is reading very well. Often while driving, he will say “What is …” something and we realize he is trying to read a sign and doing a pretty good job but not quite right. Before we know it, he will finish grade 1 and headed for eight.
In November, Cynthia’s dad and stepmom came to visit for a couple of days. Matthew and Samantha loved having someone new to play with, who would take them to the backyard and run around for a while. They took Matthew shopping for a birthday present while Samantha was napping. We visited Matthew’s school and on the way, Matthew showed how he can climb the tree in the back of the field. Check out the picture of Matthew in the tree.
Cynthia and I took advantage of the time they were here to slip out for a lunch together and do some Christmas shopping. We so rarely get a chance like that since we moved. Lunch was Cynthia’s favourite sushi restaurant not too far from home and we picked up a couple of things at the mall before Samantha woke up and asked for us.
The visit was too short but we appreciated all the time we had to catch up. Soon enough, we will visit them again in Toronto.
Just before Halloween this year, we let Matthew watch the first Harry Potter movie. With that influence, he decided he wanted to be a Wizard but Matthew wanted a lightning scar on his cheek and not his forehead. We had a bunch of different costumes for Samantha like a dog or an elephant but she wanted to be a princess. She decided she wanted to wear the dress from Uncle Steve’s wedding and be a princess.
But, before all of that, we had to carve our pumpkins. We got a couple of small pumpkins which we all worked on a bit. After some discussion of how to carve them, we decided on a spider and a scary face.
With the pumpkins carved, it was still early so we let the kids play outside a bit in their costumes before going door to door. Before long it was time and we left a plate of goodies behind at the front door to do some trick or treating. Once it got quite dark, Samantha was pretty tired so she and I went home while Cynthia and Matthew visited some more homes with some neighbourhood friends.
This was our first Halloween here. Last year, we moved out of our house in Dunrobin on Halloween. We found there were a significant number of homes which were not answering their door, more than we ever remember back in Ottawa.
We still have some candy around the house which we have hidden away for Samantha if she needs something. But, the kids had a great time that night, candy or no.