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Welcome Grandma, Down from the Great White North…

But just for a week. Which I can tell you, her dog Gypsy did not approve of. I heard tell of a minor hunger strike when cookies were snitched from meals but the actual dog chow left untouched! It was a lovely week full of a good balance of activity and rest.20170404_134102

Grandma started off smart – she hooked the kids on some puzzle game apps so they could all play together. Always a good plan, especially since they were FREE. Couple that with watching dog rescue videos together and much time was spent in quiet enjoyment.IMG_20170404_152623_521

20170407_112120We took Grandma to the YMCA twice this visit. Once to watch Trinity and Emanuel in karate and meet their Sensei.IMG_20170413_222319_460

The other time to come for our Sunday night swim. Mommy got in her exercise class, and the rest got quality pool time with Grandma letting Daddy off the hook!IMG_20170409_182842_996

20170409_18390720170409_193406Our big field trip was to the Mill City Museum. A family favourite and fun for Grandma to see some Minnesota history first hand. She and Ken took the twins up in the big elevator that walks you through the history of the mill as well as its partial destruction.20170407_130947

20170407_13183120170407_13243220170407_135035IMG_20170407_135840_62920170407_14142220170407_13384720170407_132037Grandma asked to go to two specific places to eat – Culver’s, which we went to the night she came. She had never been, we simply could not let that stand!IMG_20170404_182631_533

The second place was a brunch with adults only to Perkin’s. This was followed up by a lovely stash of bakery goods purchased by Grandma that came home for the kids to enjoy. We snuck over to Joann’s while we were out. Good food AND good shopping (with coupons of course).

It was a decadent brownie.

It was a decadent brownie.

Grandma also COOKED a couple times – we got to taste her delicious homemade spaghetti sauce. With meat in it! AND she made taco soup. A new one for all of us, but one that everyone but the girls (no surprise) enjoyed. It was beyond delicious. So of course, I must share the recipe! HERE20170406_130918

Mine is without crunched up nacho chips.

Mine is without crunched up nacho chips.

She came bearing gifts… Canadian snacks… well lots of Canadian things. Including a colouring book for the 150th birthday. She also brought us some Gypsy puppies to add to our teddy collection. We had some small tokens for her.IMG_20170404_155142_971

My early birthday gift to mom, a pin.

My early birthday gift to mom, a pin.

We had hair braiding parties.IMG_20170410_220135

And Grandma spent special quality time with all the kids. It was so lovely for them to have one on one (though the twins opted to go together) time with Grandma and fully get her hooked on Caribou coffee.

Mix in a couple nippy spring walks to the park and Grandma got a taste of early spring in Minnesota.20170405_104230

We also pulled out movies and popcorn to make sure we had some quality cinema time. Kubo was well enjoyed.IMG_20170405_010349_384

Grandma took special care braiding up Emanuel’s hair. It was nice to have a week of no hair in the eyes. Though friends said it was very… basketball player! IMG_20170405_210629_766

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Since Easter was right around the corner we also did some egg decorating.IMG_20170409_145459_677

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Ken and I snuck away for some quality YMCA time… well he sat, and I went to class.IMG_20170407_180036_180

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It was a terrific visit. Sit back and enjoy the excessive, but happy images! Thanks for the visit Grandma!20170410_125226

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January and the Beginning of 2017

So we have placed our feet firmly into 2017. January has come and gone (and at this point February is quickly going the same way). But what, exactly, did we do in January? Chinese New Year fell on January 28th this year. You can take a peek at our celebrating of the start of the Year of the Rooster HERE. We had a wee bit of snow, but nothing exciting…IMG_20170110_092553_627

The only snow structure we managed to make!

The only snow structure we managed to make!

20170116_102843IMG_20170111_110136_013OH! We helped Darcy celebrate her birthday with dinner out and cake.20170121_213340

This meant we also got to see our godson Anthony play indoor soccer (they won, as usual).20170121_194012

20170121_20452720170121_202011I spent A LOT of time at the YMCA.IMG_20170101_160539

IMG_20170119_000313_948IMG_20170114_152113_768IMG_20170108_215013This in turn meant the kids spent A LOT of time at Cluby.

Slightly out of season but someone donated house kits for the kids at club.

Slightly out of season but someone donated house kits for the kids at club.

Waiting for swimming lessons.

Waiting for swimming lessons.

We took our Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa Mike and spent it on some new clothes.20170116_201043

Even luckier than the clothing sale... a pretzel sale!

Even luckier than the clothing sale… a pretzel sale!

Did lots and lots of learning. Mostly in the sunshine on the floor.IMG_20170118_014220_363

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Completion!

Completion!

Cousin Robbie came for an overnight visit.20170111_203533

20170111_204355IMG_20170111_194933_737IMG_20170112_175531_252And I crocheted up a storm.

Yarn was purchased and a hat requested... not half bad!

Yarn was purchased and a hat requested… not half bad!

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Snuck some cross stitch in here too.

Snuck some cross stitch in here too.

Ken, Renee, Chris and myself all went out to Matt’s Bar for Juicy Lucy’s.IMG_20170107_143800_695

We also visited a rather amazing display of quilts... I wish this one had photographed better. It was amazing.

We also visited a rather amazing display of quilts… I wish this one had photographed better. It was amazing.

Flat Stanley came to visit as well.20170129_122256

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It was a rather social month, but it was also a very education heavy with as much time spent outside as possible. Even from simply looking back at the images I have collected, I feel we started the year off positively. Smiles, friendship, knowledge and fun. What more could I ask for?IMG_20170105_120418

Church down the road.

Church down the road.

Emanuel is growing his hair out to donate!

Emanuel is growing his hair out to donate!

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Happy Year of the Rooster!

Chinese New Year is a holiday we have tried our best to celebrate for at least 5 or 6 years now. This is all thanks to the families of our two gorgeous god daughters (Anna and Isabella). Their moms are from the same city in China (Ghangzou) and have been kind enough to help us learn how to fully embrace this holiday. I love the changing date of the celebration based on the lunar calendar and it has come to mean more than the “traditional” North American New Years to me. We do a significant amount of preparation for this holiday, cleaning, researching and shopping for food, reading out favourite themed stories (The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine). This year it was Trinity’s turn to do a full on lapbook for the season. She worked really hard on it and it shows.IMG_20170128_134718_976

We finished up our day with take out from our favourite Chinese food restaurant – The Rose Garden.

I have worksheets to share:

  • Activity Village HERE
  • Education.com collection HERE and chicken collection HERE
  • Definitely make sure you search EnchantedLearning.com for their resources HERE

Books to suggest:

  • Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-Lan! HERE
  • The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang (a new book for us!) by Andrea Wang HERE
  • Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto HERE
  • Chinese New Year Crafts by Karen E. Bledsoe HERE
  • Chinese New Year by Grace Jones HERE
  • Celebrating Chinese New Year by Diana Hoyt-Goldsmith HERE
  • Chinese New Year by Ann Heinrichs HERE
  • Long-Long’s New Year by Catherine Gower HERE
  • The Runaway Rice Cake by Ying Chang Compestine HERE
  • Fortune Cookie Fortunes by Grace Lin HERE
  • Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes HERE
  • Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang HERE
  • Kai-Lan’s Great Trip to China HERE20170131_140611

And a few DVD’s for you to hunt down:

  • Celebrate With Kai-Lan! HERE
  • Stone Soup (a read-along) HERE

Of course there is the lapbook Trinity used! Currclick has it for 3.00 HERE. This is put out by A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks.20170222_184327

20170222_18431020170222_184322And don’t forget our yearly video!

For our Chicken/Rooster research we had a couple books as well:

  • Chickens by Katie Dicker HERE
  • Young Chicken Farmers by Vickie Black HERE

I used this amazing designer to make this year’s Zodiac animal – the rooster. I used her last year to make a monkey as well (see my County Fair post from last here HERE). Her site is called All about Ami and you can find her rooster pattern HERE and the monkey HERE.IMG_20170128_134658_879

We also splurged this year and bought two dresses for the girls off of Amazon. They were not overly expensive and definitely not high quality, but so cute!IMG_20170128_134638_408

Of course we also picked up new shirts for the boys at Walmart. And buzzed the twins’ heads. New clothes and fresh haircuts in a clean house. And I mean CLEAN! We threw out, sorted, donated… you name it we got rid of excess. And it felt amazing. So Happy Chinese New Year All! Let’s hope the year of the Rooster is auspicious and prosperous!20170128_132722_HDR

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The girls love to sort through their toys and find theme friendly pieces.

The girls love to sort through their toys and find theme friendly pieces.