Happy Lunar New Year!

On Saturday we traveled to Toronto to a Lunar New Year Celebration put on by the Korean Canadian Children’s Association. We went a really fun celebration back in 2011 – and this year was even better. The program was fantastic – it showcased Korean drumming, dancing, music and customs. The children were all invited onstage to do a traditional bowing ceremony (and get a pouch with some money) – our little man was too shy despite practicing before at home.  After the initial program we had an amazing meal with rice, bulgogi, japchae, dumplings, shrimp…. I wanted to finish my plate because it was so good – but the portions were huge! After the lunch we went to the basement of the church  where they had set up with stations such as calligraphy,  games, street food, tea ceremony, traditional dress etc.  We hung out for a while and explored the various stations out.  I loved seeing many of Korean ladies dressed in their elaborate hanboks – they are such beautiful pieces of clothing. Another fun part of the day is that we go to see Barb, Belinda and their families! I’m always shocked at how big all the boys are getting – and it was nice to meet baby Owen. Sadly – there were no group shots, but we did promise to get together soon for another “Seoul Bros” gathering.

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One really cool thing was that on the way into the Church, we looked up and saw a Korean Air plane taking off from the airport – not something you really see everyday! Memories of Korea are all around.

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Cuba!

Last summer, Matt and I booked a family trip to Cuba! It was going to be our first trip south and our first trip on an airplane with Alex since coming home from Korea. Since Matt is a teacher and does not have any flexibility in his vacation schedule, we had to go prime time – over the Christmas holidays. We left our home on December 29th – expecting to depart at 3:20pm. Unfortunately due to a number of factors beyond our control… weather, delays, incompetency (did I say that?!), we were delayed until 10pm and then again until 6am – essentially losing a day of our trip 😦  We got to know Terminal 1 of the airport quite… quite well… as we sat around for hours on end. Luckily we were put up in a hotel for the night.

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However… we eventually did get to Cuba! And it was sunny… it was warm… and it was fantastic.

I will say, on the way to our resort, we had a real eyeopener.  We knew Cuba was a relatively poor country, with people making approximately $12-20CDN per month. We had packed lots of children’s clothing, ladies clothes, hats, stationary, creams etc, that are generally difficult to get or are otherwise very expensive, to leave as gifts for the housekeeping staff and others that we came across. But when we saw the homes along the road… I know Matt and I were more than a little shocked. The homes were as well maintained as resources allowed, but compared to where we were coming from… let’s just say it was a different world.

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When we finally arrived at the Riu Playa Turquesa, we tried to relax. We were overly exhausted – with each of us running on about 3 hours sleep – Alex on about 6. We found our room, got our suits on hit the pool. Hola!  That night, we were in bed by 7:30.

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The next day, New Years Eve, was overcast and a tad rainy. However, we still hit the pool. Compared to Ontario, it was still very very warm. That night we headed to dinner with a wonderful couple we met on the bus to the resort – they were there on their honeymoon – thankfully they didn’t mind hanging out with a couple and their kid.  We stayed up quite late for us- until about 11:30 – attending the kids disco and the New Years Eve show. We didn’t make it to midnight thanks to the way Cubans measure their drinks… 😉

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The rest of the trip was amazing. We spent lots of time by the wading pool – mainly because Alex met a few nice kids that he wanted to play with every second of the day, but also because the pool bar was there for easy access to the slush drinks. Don’t worry – we weren’t drinking all day long – we were ordering the virgin drinks too!  It was very very warm which caused some crazy hair for me – I had no idea humidity would affect my hair as it did! I now know for next time…

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The beach was amazing. It was a coral beach – so finely broken up pieces of coral and tiny shells – so very cool. We snuck a few shells out of the country – don’t tell Castro! Alex wasn’t as fond of the beach – he was scared of sharks.

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One day we went to a tourist market in Guardalavaca by double decker bus – it was a wonderful way to see more of the country side. We picked up some souvenirs and some cigars and hoped back on the bus to go back to the resort since it looked like rain.

One of the very cool things about Cuba is their cars. The classic cars are abundant there since they don’t trade with the US. We got to see many pre 1960s cars – colourful, cool vintage rides – many as taxis. My dad had a ’55 Bel Air so it brought back a lot of memories. But we also, surprisingly, saw many Korean cars! There were a lot of newer Kias and Hyundais. 

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Matt celebrated his 37th birthday in Cuba. He spent the morning on an excursion fishing at a coral reef and then snorkeling with our new friends at the beach. He said he saw lots of very cool creatures. That night we all went to dinner together – we sang happy birthday over a selection of deserts from the buffet. After we went to the evening musical entertainment where Alex danced up a storm. The singer thought he was great!

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On our final day, I got to do the one thing I had wanted to do all trip – go to a swim up bar. I know – kinda silly – but I had never done it before!

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One thing people always comment on when they travel to Cuba is the food. And I will say, that while I was quite tired of the buffet and the offerings by the end of our trip, the food was pretty good. People have to remember that Cuba is a communist country with rations and often difficulty getting resources in. Some days there was no bottled water. Some days no eggs. But the Cuban people did whatever they could to make what they did have to offer the best they could They were extremely friendly, outgoing and happy people. That being said, I would recommend anyone going to Cuba to pack snacks in their luggage  We had some – but in the end, it wasn’t enough.

We had a great time and are already talking about where to go next! 2014 looks like Disney… then 2015 another trip south!

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Merry Christmas!

I know I know I know… a little late lady! But better late than never.

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Our holiday was a very nice one this year. Alex was really into Christmas as I’m sure most 4 year olds are. We had Sparky visiting our house every morning again this year – doing some fun and crazy stuff.

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Christmas Eve morning Mason got an early gift… a cone. He had scratched his cornea hunting and it wasn’t healing – so more meds and a funny new “hat”. He wasn’t impressed.

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Christmas Eve we went to the children’s service at Church – a short, yet lovely service geared for kids 10 and younger. Then we went to Matt’s parents place for dinner and presents. It was so nice that everyone could make it this year. Since there are four police officers in the family often that isn’t the case. We had a nice toast to Matt’s dad who had prostate cancer surgery earlier in the month and had received the good news that he didn’t need radiation – Hurrah!

Santa came that night, bearing lots of gifts for our little boy. He received leg*, playm*bile (police tactical unit toys of course), police man and firefighter figurines, and a bleacher creature of Carey Price (goalie for the Montreal Canadiens). 

I swear Alex was excited – just not impressed to have to wait and have a picture taken.

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After lunch it was naptime.

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And obviously time for chocolate…

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We had dinner with my mom, my brother and his boys. It was nice to spend time with them – we really don’t get together with them enough.  Alex got more presents – including a cool pirate dress up kit!

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And then it was back to reality… for a few days… then we went to Cuba for vacation! Post to come.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! 

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And so it begins…

On Saturday we went to the Mall to have “Breakfast with Santa”. It seems so early to be doing this – but I guess the big day is just 5 weeks away!  We met up with one of Alex’s little friends from school which was fun – especially seeing how they interact.

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The lineup to see Santa after eating was ridiculously long, so after Alex and I did a little shopping, we went back and after two people, Alex got to see the big guy.’

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He asked for batman toys and a real T-Rex. This should be interesting.

Pumpkin Time!

This evening, Alex and I carved our pumpkin. I asked him what type of pumpkin he wanted – he decided he wanted a scary pumpkin.  So we looked at a few scary pumpkin pics online – luckily Alex picked out one that was fairly simple.  Alex’s job was to clean the pumpkin out – he wasn’t too keen on the guck on his hands – but he go the job done.

Boo!

 

Happy Easter!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of April and that Easter has come and gone. What’s really hard to believe is that in less than a week my boy is going to be… THREE! Yikes!

Anyhow, Easter. Easter weekend was nice and relaxing for the most part.  I have been trying to get over a nasty cold and sinus infection so I’ve been pretty drained.  But luckily by the weekend I was on the mend. We had two family gatherings to attend, one being at our house on Easter Sunday. 

On Easter morning we were able to wake up and just do our normal routine in our upper TV room which was really nice. It allowed Matt and I to get our much needed coffee and Alex could wake up and enjoy his Max and Ruby. After we took him downstairs and reminded him about the Easter Bunny coming! He was quite excited. He checked out his Easter basket full of goodies and had a few pieces of his hockey playing easter bunny and then went on his egg hunt.  The bunny had hid treats in those plastic egg shells to prevent Mason from  devouring all the goodies before everyone woke up. Smart bunny.

Alex had a very good eye at finding the eggs – although there were one or two he missed, but found later in the day.

The  Easter Bunny was also nice enough to bring Mason a doggy Easter egg cookie!

After we got cleaned up and since it was actually nice outside we did a little yard cleanup and play. Alex received a baseball ball and glove for Easter, so we practiced his skills for a while. This boy has a mean throw!

Later in the afternoon, my brother, his girlfriend Paula and my mom came over for dinner.  We again were lucky enough to hang outside again in the SUN! The sun has not been making very many appearances around here lately so this was huge.

All in all it was a good day. Only a few melt downs due to chocolate (and a few since too… Sigh… )

It’s Hanbok Time

On Chuseok I dressed Alex up in his hanbok and thought I would attempt to take some nice pictures to send to his Foster mom.  Well… I tried.  He had lots of fun running around the front lawn dressed up – and I had lots of fun trying to get a “good” shot.  These are cute… not what I was hoping for, but hey – I tried.

 

Summer’s end

Can you believe it? Today is the last day of Summer.  At times I thought time was passing so slowly – and at other times it flew by in a blur.  It was an incredibly hot summer.  It’s also been a very busy summer.  Here are a few of the highlights: 

  • spent almost two weeks up north
  • bought a plot of land on an island for OUR future cottage
  • visited African Lion’s Safari
  • visited Storybook Gardens
  • visited Boston and finally met Christine and Spencer!
  • attended one of my best friends from University’s wedding
  • ate lots of corn and other fresh produce
  • played in the water.. A LOT
  • Alex started getting his 2 year molars (highlight or lowlight… not sure)
  • Got rid of bottles!

In a tribute to our summer, here are a few pics that didn’t make it to the blog over the last couple of months (at least I don’t think they did…): 

On the way to the cottage... poor Mason.

 

The boys patiently waiting to go outside.

 

When will we learn our lesson...

 

Smile!

 

Kayaking with Mommy

 

Loving the water

 

Cheese!

 

Splash! (even though Alex's face looks pained he was LOVING it!)

 

Cool bulldozer park toy found in Bayfield

 

Fun at the Ritz family corn roast

 

Quack!

 

Let's hope this is the LAST time we see this boy behind bars (these were from Cheers)

 

"Assisting" with the unpacking...

 

Arghhhh!

 

We saw lots and lots of trains

 

Matt and I at my friend Laura's wedding (and my dress from Macy's)

 

The Korean Drummers at the Stratford Summer Music Festival

 

Alex enjoyed petting the fish in the freezer

 

Yikes... but I love my little helper

 

Trying out a friend's cool ride

 

That's All Folks!

Storybook Gardens

On Tuesday Alex and I had another date – this one to Storybook Gardens! We were supposed to double date with Emily, Jeremy and Xander, but unfortunately X was under the weather (feel better little man!).  It was a HOT HOT day, but luckily there was a lot of shade and a lot of water features to cool off in.  We went on the giant jungle gyms (shaped like boats which were a huge hit), saw the ducks, the donkeys, played in the splash pad, and saw the sea lions.  unfortunately Humpty Dumpty was under construction (he must really have had a fall), and he was unavailable for  viewing.  But most importantly we go to go on a little train that went around Springbank Park.  That was I’m sure Alex’s highlight of the day.  We are hoping to go again later this summer or early Fall with E & X, so I’m sure it will be even more fun then!

We had gone last year, but most of the activities were way too mature for Alex (except the water park) – Last year at SBG

This year at SBG

I discovered how difficult it is to take good pictures when you are at this sort of place alone.  I do however have many pictures of Alex “driving boats” (aka boa ).

(and from later in the day)

I think Alex truly enjoyed himself.  I can tell firstly because within a few minutes of leaving Alex was fast asleep for our whole ride home. And secondly – because of this smile.

Happy Easter!

This past weekend was just about perfect.  The weather was amazing and it was really nice to be able to spend 5 whole days with Alex.  That seems weird to say, but with Alex at the sitters, we generally get to spend a few hours together each day.  We discovered an amazing park close to our new house (known to the locals as the Hidden Park) and it just perfect for Alex to explore and run around in.  And of course, we had Easter! 

Checking on the Eggs

 

Woo Hoo! A tent from the Easter Bunny!

 

Mmmm... chocolate bunny