Friday, November 11, 2011

11 11 11 - Remembering Nic's birthday

Another occasion to celebrate. Our lovely Nicolas turns a great big whopping 6 years old! Congratulations dear son. Nic's birthday falls upon Remembrance (Poppy) Day in Australia - and Veteran's Day in the US.

Given the elementary school had requested students dress in red, white and blue as a sign of respect for Veterans, I felt it only fitting to make birthday cakes for Nic's classmates in the same color scheme. Same old banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - always a favorite as we often seem to end up with a few bananas that are only really suitable for cakes.

Today was a chance to reminisce a little....
Nic was induced as he was 9 days late. Being late was not such a great issue except for the following facts: my parents had been hanging out for two weeks in our very small cottage, waiting to 'help out' with the new baby - and were eager to return home (as a friend had died while they were away); it was a Friday and my obstetrician wasn't 'on call' over the weekend; I'd had a tough time with sciatica and back pain and really was 'ready'; and importantly, we were in the process of getting visas for Paul to work in the US and the baby was delaying this (No baby = no birth certificate. No birth certificate = no passport. No passport = no plane tickets. No plane tickets = no visa. No visa = no job!). So - it was decided - bring on the baby!

Remembrance day seemed to be a good birthdate - particularly for the US - where dates are written in reverse order - it would make (and has made) writing Nic's birthdate a whole lot easier to fill out on forms.

The midwives and obstetrician wanted to know if I was going to observe the minutes silence, required at 11am on Remembrance Day... Of course, that was a question asked with a very real risk of retaliation / inflicted pain (verbal or otherwise)... If you have ever met a woman in labor before, you will understand what I mean.

If Nic had popped out as a female, I wanted to name the baby 'Poppy' - as I thought this would be a fitting name given the baby's birthday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An apple a day...

The kids had a vacation day today due to it being election day. As Paul will be away on a conference, we took this as an opportunity to celebrate Nic's birthday a little earlier (he will turn 6 on Friday). The weather was superb - so we decided to go to Carters Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville to do a little apple-picking. I had taken Paul's parents here when they visited last year - during peach season. I had also visited the orchard with the kids last year and they really enjoyed picking apples. So... off we went! A little later than hoped... as I have succumbed to Paul's latest virus - BLAH! And we were delayed somewhat when Mietta had a bout of carsickness and we were forced to go in search of some new clothes!

After finally reaching the orchard, we had the obligatory cider donuts and apple cider to give us strength to pick some 25 pounds of apples! The kids LOVED this and took more than one opportunity to bite into crisp and delicious Pink Lady apples. Yum. Interestingly, this is a modern variety of apple and was developed in Australia.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Halloween is celebrated with such fervor in the States. The children had a number of events prior to Halloween including: Halloween playdate for Mietta - with pumpkin bowling, dancing donuts, crafts; classroom parties for each of the children, Trick-or-Treat hayride and potluck dinner on Saturday (with friends in another neighborhood); Halloween open house on Sunday (with neighbors that decorate their ENTIRE house and then open it for viewing - with spooky refreshments)... culminating in Halloween itself on Monday night.

Paul was feeling the effects of a nasty virus and wasn't in any state to take the kids out (and had 'done' trick-or-treating on Saturday night) - so I did the honors of escorting our very excited three around our neighborhood. Paul stayed home and distributed candy to the trick-or-treaters visiting our place.

It was such a cold evening. After a while, Nic had had enough and wanted to go home... but Mietta stated that she wanted to visit "four more houses"... so we continued on - besides, I wanted to visit one house where the occupants went to great lengths to decorate. The neighborhood was busy and it was fantastic to see so many people about. Many neighbors set up at the ends of their driveways with roaring open fire pits.

The kids collected SO much candy it was ridiculous. Much of it went back into the trick-or-treat bowl to hand out to kids appearing at our door.

I had told the boys that they were not allowed to buy costumes this year - and had to make them. Paul had started to make Luc a Dalek costume - but as this didn't materialize as fast as hoped, we resorted to paper mache. As the boys had a school vacation on Friday, costume making became the focus of activity. I found a recipe for glue, we blew up balloons, cut up strips of newspaper and started some really messy work. I had forgotten how long paper mache can take - to create, to dry and to decorate.

Luc was in charge. He chose to create a mask for himself based upon one of R L Stine's Goosebumps novels The Haunted Mask. He decided that Nic was going to be Killer Pumpkin. This is a character that has been developed by Nic and Luc, and largely resides in their imagination. It is from Nic's 'Joni' series of movies - following the exploits of an alien boy and his interactions with scary creatures and characters. It is apparently very scary and is really only for 'grown-ups'. The boys have made a few Joni movies, have drawn numerous pictures of characters and have even chosen songs for the movie soundtracks. Watch out for our budding-Spielberg's movies in the future...

Mietta decided some months ago that she was going to be Wonder Woman for Halloween. Mietta has had the costume for some time - but hasn't worn it so much. We were able to convince her to dress as something different for the playdate (a butterfly/fairy) and trick-or-treating on a cold and wet Saturday (cheerleader - that was able to accommodate warm tights and a few warm layers underneath).

Paul and I had to scan all the candy... for safety sake of course. Unfortunately, the children are now cottoning on to this - and wondering why the parents have to keep so much aside. After several years of trick-or-treating, we have begun to work out our favorite candy varieties.