Monday, December 31, 2012

USA and Russia: Ladies and Cakes

Postcard from bachfan from the USA

Description: The Pinned Hat, 1898
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 1841-1919
Gift of Grace Bliss Dayton
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Postcard from HannaZhurko from Russia

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Germany and Russia: Castles and presents

Postcard from elouis from Germany

Postcard from inika1123 from Russia (with some very pretty Christmas stamps on the back)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bees, Christmas and Gophers

Postcard from haileytung from Hong Kong

Description: The Adventures of André and Wally B. Concept art by John Lasseter

Postcard from veronika1995 from Ukraine

Postcard from Lesheak from Belarus

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Germany - snowman

Postcard from Cismoc from Germany

I LOVE this card! It's a unicef card...I wish we had more Christmas postcards here! And it was addressed to the whole family (I guess someone checked the blog out - HI!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Greetings Gone

11. Mail Christmas cards before December 24th

I definitely didn't get my cards mailed before December 24 last year or the year before, but this year, somehow, I did! Yay!

christmas cards for the mailbox

I had them all done before the end of the second week of December and more than half went out on November 30. J was feeling a bit under the weather the last weekend of November and when she wasn't sleeping or cuddled up on the couch watching TV or reading, she just wanted to sit at the table and make crafts. And that was the perfect time for me to sit and write cards.

She had a great time helping me too - she was the chief sticker applier.

And now that the cards are gone, I have more time to bake and clean the house and pick out gifts.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Making things

Today the advent calendar suggested we make some kind of craft. I had planned to make paper chains with J, but she came home from daycare the other day and got some of her coloured paper out and asked me to cut it into strips and get her some glue or tape…seems they learned to make chains at daycare…

So on Thursday afternoon I visited the craft store for some inspiration…I was going to get her some picture frames to decorate for her grandparents, but then I found these paper maché decorations. Auntie Rebar gave J paints for her birthday last year, so we were all set.


J loves painting and wishes she could paint every single day…(little aside – we were checking out real estate listings and found a place that was in a neighbourhood we liked, with the right number of bedrooms and a price that didn’t make us gag too much and it had a roughed in suite in the basement. All that had been installed was a sink and a small counter…I was so excited because it would be the perfect craft spot for J. That’s when we noticed it didn’t have the right number of bedrooms on the top floor…)

glitter concentration

Once the creatively painted ornaments were dry, we got out the glitter glue. I haven’t quite figured out the glitter glue hate on Facebook among our friends with kids the same age as J…I much prefer it to regular glitter because it stays put…

glittering frosty

J had a great time decorating with her glitter glue…the ornaments are drying now so that tomorrow she can decorate the backs with glue (watercolour paint dries MUCH faster than glitter glue!!)


The finished products – some for our tree and some for gifts.  We might head back to the craft store and get a few more – J thinks her teachers might like to have one!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Germany - Train


Postcard from razor300 from Germany

Description: Zug in die Wolken: Die hervorragend erhaltene Schienenbus-Garnitur des FSM überquert am 28. und 29. Juni 1997 die 100 Jahre alte Müngstener Brücke. (Train through the clouds: The exquisitely preserved Railbus set of FSM crossed on 28 and 29 1997 June, the 100-year old bridge Müngstener.Courtesy of Google Translate)

Choo Choo Ho Ho Ho

Yesterday J looked in her advent calendar and discovered that we were going to for a ride on the Christmas train at Stanley Park. We've been almost every year since J was a baby - I think the only year we didn't go was 2010 because the weather was horrid. In 2009 we didn't actually ride the train, but we did visit the lights. Last year apparently I only took one creepy picture.

This year we were smart. We bundled J into her snowsuit even though it was relatively warm. Last year she was not happy about half way through the train ride because she got cold from sitting still for so long. This year she wanted to go around a second time!

seasons greetings

We went early this year to avoid the big crowds (is there a pattern here? Claustrophobia in crowds seems to be a symptom of this pregnancy...) We were able to walk right up to the ticket window and straight onto the train (tip - if you want to save almost $4 per ticket, get your tickets at the ticket window and not at t!cketm@ster)


We've really been enjoying having so much time together - Alex's silly shift means we don't get too see him a lot...look at those happy faces!

here we go
here we go

J loved the lights - there were lots of gasps and exclamations of "WOW!" and "Look!"

dancing rudolph

J wished the train would stop here so that she could watch longer. This Rudolph on stilts was dancing to a Christmas version of YMCA. I have to agree with J, it was pretty amazing!

moose in the pond

It's hard to see in this picture, but in the middle of the pond is a moose with lights in its antlers. There is also a little building with a Christmas tree on top of it. J was intrigued by these things in the middle of the pond! She wasn't so sure about the train going over the water though.

rudolph crossing
Rudolph crossing (hard to see the red nose...)

alex sings

After we got off the train, we wandered through the light display the firefighters set up. We stopped here for a bit of carolling.

b&w j


winter wonderland
Winter Wonderland

which pole?
One confused pole - is it north or south? There are polar bears and penguins here!

lights, lights and more lights

danseur and ballerina

Alex and J also decided they'd try out their grace and coordination skills as dancers in the Nutcracker. (Hmmm...maybe next year we'll take J to the Nutcracker...)

happy christmas to all
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night

We have really enjoyed the train and the lights every year we've gone, but I think this year was the the best by far - the light displays were amazing!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Skipping school

Today the advent calendar told J that she got to stay home from school (aka daycare) and that we were all going to go to the Vancouver Christmas Market to ride the carousel. J is not a fan of skipping school. She complains endlessly that she misses her friends and usually when we finish whatever it was that kept her home, she immediately starts demanding we take her to her daycare for the rest of the day. Today, no complaints! (Alex and I both had the day off work)

So, off we went to the Vancouver Christmas Market. This is the third year for the market, but we've never been before.

vancouver christmas market

We had planned all along to go for a ride on the carousel - that was the main draw for us. Yesterday at the Santa Claus Parade, J got a ticket for the carousel, so it worked out perfectly!

waiting their turn
J and Alex waited by the entrance to the carousel for their turn.

Looks like they're having a great time.

Hi Mom! (Not sure who Alex is looking at...)

bye mom
Bye Mom!

I didn't go on the carousel with them - I was a bit surprised at how fast it was (J and Alex were fine) and my stomach has been a bit queasy, so I was the official photographer. Because we chose a Monday morning to go, there were very people at the market and only one other child on the carousel when J went.

decoration quality control

After the carousel ride, we did a little exploring - J was fascinated by the fountain tree and its decorations.

market stalls
Empty on a Monday morning

santa and the honey bee
Alex and J as Santa and the Honeybee

kiddie bratwurst

And then, because carousel riding and window stall shopping and decoration inspecting are such hard work, it was time for a little snack. J wanted a sausage - it was super tasty.


Alex and I shared spaetzle with cheese and ham. was soooo good! I was always excited when there was spaetzle for dinner when I was in Switzerland. Occasionally when I worked in the private sector, we would have birthday lunches at The William Tell restaurant (it has since and, no matter what I ordered, I'd make sure there was spaetzle to go with it! I haven't seen it too often in Vancouver...I should probably learn how to make it, because I love it! Alex thought it was delicious too.

sleigh rider

Just before we left, J discovered this sleigh. She wanted her picture taken, but she wasn't thrilled that the seat was damp...

Apparently J loved the carousel and her sausage, but she is still insisting that she shouldn't have had a home day...I'm sure that when she's actually in school, that will change (and likely we won't be keeping her home from school to go the Christmas market!).

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Santa came to town!

Today was the day...Santa Claus parade day. We took J for the first time when she was 2 1/2 and we took her again last year. She's been talking about the parade since some time in September, so we knew we pretty much had to go again this year.

We woke up to disgusting rain that turned to sun and then back to rain. It was grey, but not raining when we left the house and miraculously the rain held off until after we got home again.

family of three

Our preferred spot is at the very end of the parade route - the last block is best. We got there just as the parade was starting at the other end of town and had our pick of sidewalk spaces.

staying warm

We packed a fleece blanket backed with waterproof backing to sit on and at the last minute I threw in a second fleece blanket and I'm glad I did. It was a bit of a cold wait for J - we were dressed for the rain, but the wind was blowing so she stayed cozy cuddled next to us, wrapped in a double layer of blanket. Of course, once the parade started she was nice and warm from jumping up and down and dancing around.

daddy rudolph

J got a foam Rudolph nose that she decided worked better on Daddy (her nose is a tad bit small for it now...maybe next Christmas it will stay on!)

these smell funny

J liked the miniature horses, but she thought they were super stinky (they didn't really smell bad, just like wet horse)

favourite float every year

This is J's favourite "float" and it has been every year since we started going to the parade. We actually saw this bus on the street the other day - it was stopped at the bus stop and we got to walk by it, which was soooooo exciting! Maybe one day we'll get to ride on it...who knows!

the jolly old elf

And the man we were all there to see - St. Nicholas! J was pretty excited to see him; she wants to be his elf one year though. She was a bit upset that she didn't get to talk to him today. But she will have that chance before Christmas for sure!

Surprises from the advent calendar

Christmas has officially started at our house. On Friday night, J insisted we go down to the storage room and get her advent calendar and the Christmas books. Of course, the advent calendar was not at the top of the open-first box of Christmas stuff, it was buried under a some other stuff. And the books were in another box entirely, so we managed to come back upstairs with more stuff than I wanted this early in December.

Friday night Alex and I put together the little slips of paper for the advent calendar and wrapped a few things for J to open later in the month.

advent calendar 2012

Before we went to bed, we hung the calendar and left the first gift (there isn't a gift every day - it's a mix of gifts, activities and doing things for other people)

advent day 1

J was super excited when she got up and declared that this calendar was from Santa's elves (not sure where she got that idea, but it works!)


She opened the first slip of paper and tried to read it - she managed Christmas which sort of surprised me! Yesterday she got to make cookies with her Auntie K (aka TeamHardCore) when Alex and I went out for a friend's birthday.


And her little gift was some super cute cookie cutters. She asked me all day if we could stop what we were doing and go get her Auntie RIGHT NOW so that she could make cookies...and then when she arrived, J was most disappointed that they both had to eat dinner first!

the results

But, eventually she got to make her cookies - here she is with the results! She's pretty excited that I haven't even started baking yet which means she will get to make and decorate more cookies before Christmas...

Thanks TeamHardCore! J had lots of fun.

We're excited for today's later...