Sunday, September 25, 2011

Come Sail Away

We had our first cruise experience this weekend! Ariel was doing her natural beauty pageant on the Golden Princess ship and as part of the event we got to stay over night. I had always wondered if we would like to take a cruise so for us it was a cheaper way of experiencing it and seeing if we liked it. Overall it was a pretty positive experience. The crew on the ship were so kind, some of the people cruising on the ship not so much. More on that in a bit.

We started our morning early with a cab ride to Surrey were we were meeting our bus. It was about 6am when we got to the McDonalds and checked in. We got on the buses and headed on our way to Seattle. The boarder crossing was pretty fast and easy, although the boarder guard was bugging us in regards to Ariel. You should get her a 'born abroad certificate', basically a birth certificate saying she is American... insert me rolling my eyes.... not for the fact they want her to have her papers but because its $600 just to get it!!!! Um, multiply that by 2 kids... um, not happening anytime soon. Good grief!

The bus trip is pretty smooth, they had Finding Nemo playing and got everyone a donut snack. The girls were all in matching t-shirts and contestant tiaras, so cute. Ariel started to feel sick at the end of the trip, as we hit several big bumps. Thankfully she didn't toss her cookies, but it made her pretty groggy and cranky once we were off. It took only one look at the ship to perk her back up... wow!

Checking in was fast and easy, they really have a system. Before we knew it we were on the ship and seeing our room. It was small but super cute. We had won an upgrade and got a balcony room, which Ken was excited about. So pretty to see the sea.

We hit the buffet and filled our tummies, this is also when we met 'cranky cruisers' as we called them. We were in line, me first, then Ariel and last Ken. All of us were waiting for the meat station as he was carving each piece. This strange woman came and budged in front of Ken and was holding her plate above Ariel's head. She kept making faces like she was frustrated and finally I looked at her and she snapped, 'I can't get through, make your girl move!' Um, you budged in front of us?! What?? In a state of shock I pulled Ariel back and she shoved her plate in for meat and left. So basically she wanted in front of all 3 of us? What a nut job... Ken wasn't thrilled... in fact he had a few choice words. Eep. Good thing the food was good, cuz we sure felt crappy.

Shortly after lunch we wandered around the ship and explored. I had forgotten our bathing suits, along with a few other things, doh, so I hoped we didn't see the pool as I knew Ariel would want to go swim. Every time we passed it Ken called it a fountain, haha. Only worked until her friend said she was going swimming, but thankfully she didn't seem interested at the time, dodged a bullet there.

The ship had muster drill and we took part to learn what to do in case of emergency, and then it was finally time to get ready for the pageant.

Ariel was tired but excited. She did her thing, a tad nervous which wasn't like her, so I think the busy morning or travelling took its toll for sure.

She won a princess title and was happy with her trophy and crown. It was during crowning we had a surprise visit, a friend from church saw Ariel (our event was held in an open area where other cruisers could come watch) and came looking for us. She was also on board overnight with some friends and it was too funny to see someone we knew! It was nice for her to see Ariel get her prize then too, so that was fun.

All the contestants together.

Once the pageant ended we had dinner and took Ariel to the kid's lounge for some fun with some of her friends. They got to watch Tangled, make a craft and all the kids got a turtle stuffed toy to take home for being good, cool!

While Ariel hung out Ken and I took in the 'British Invasion' show. It was cheesey but fun, but hey that is cruise ships for ya. We picked Ariel up and I took her back to the room for bed while Ken went off for the movie under the stars showing of 'Super 8'.

The next morning we were up early... earlier than we thought. We had been told we would probably leave the boat at 8-9am... can you say 730am! They called our number and we quickly made our way. Kara was kind enough to pick us up, and I texted her with our new timeline. I felt bad because I didn't think that would happen, not that I expected her to come any sooner. I sent a text update as we made our way, and I couldn't believe we were done and ready to go at 8am! Crazy! So we found a table so Ariel could watch her movie on the mini dvd player and Ken and I caught up on messages on our phones we had off while at sea.

Kara arrived and we went back to Stella's to see Xander, who stayed with them during this whole adventure. It was great to see our little man, who was indifferent to us returning, such a turkey! We went to church and came home for a lazy afternoon. Thankfully its a professional development day tomorrow so no school! Ariel can catch up on some sleep from the weekend... as can Mommy.

We had fun, it was a great mini trip and sure I'd cruise again I think... Disney has a ship right? Hehe.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Life

Today I dropped Ariel at school at 9am and left.... and didn't go back till 3pm. Welcome to the new phase Jay, school! I called my good friend to see if she was around for a walk and visit and we did just that till noon. It was good just to unload some stuff I was working through and just enjoy the time with an adult! Yes Xander was there, but he was enjoying the ride in the stroller and you would have never have guessed he was there, haha.

Anyhoo, here are some things I am looking forward to with having only one kid at home:

- better cleaning schedule! This one has been bugging me for a LONG time. That darn preschool drop off, pick up schedule never was one for helping me get things done, since by the time I got started it was time to go, and things were rushed and not done how I liked them.

- working out! I miss this, a lot! Enough said.

- getting back into baking and filling the freezer, especially with Ariel in school I need to make muffins and stuff for lunches.

- sewing and cross stitch! I haven't picked up my needle in ages, so many project I'd like to finish, and Halloween costumes to start.

- my business! I look forward to the time to spend on orders, editing photos etc, and not feeling like I am taking time away from family.

- XANDER! He is probably my top priority but he is so much like Ariel in the respect that he loves independent play time. He goes off into the land of make believe with his cars, its so cute. I watched him play the other day, having the cars talk to each other, one giving the other a push when he needed it... so so so sweet!

Well, I have been a single mom this weekend as Ken has been in LA for work. I am looking forward to him coming home tonight, as I am soooo tired. For the most part the kids were good, but one morning the alarm clock went off at Ken's super early time (thanks to Xander for turning it back on) and lets just say we started that morning far earlier than I would have liked. Ugh. I got the kids to church but had some rather impressive bags under my eyes.

I managed to keep us on schedule for the most part, but I will say my kids had far more macaroni and cheese than I would usually let her have, but it did keep me from having to cook big meals when I was dog tired at the end of the day. One night Ariel wanted sushi so I didn't argue, haha. I am thankful for my hubby, glad he will be home soon, yay!

Well I need to make Ariel's lunch for tomorrow morning. Bye!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rain is Finally Here!

Hello FALL! Well, technically it is still 'summer' but with the arrival of what feels like fall rain I think we can safely say we are heading into typical west coast weather. Hee. Ariel has been dying to wear her boots and rain coat again, and Xander too as he finally has a set that fits him. (Lets forget those boots Mommy tried to make him wear last year that didn't fit, oops.... and a proper rain resistant coat - but in my defense he was in the buggy most times so it didn't matter.) So cute in their rain gear!

With the rain brings the cool days and it has been nice to work on a cake without it melting in minutes of it coming from the fridge. In fact, I was done in record time last night, trying something new with how I prep and I think I may do this from now as it was a success. I know its not that exciting to all of you, haha, but its news for me.

Today was the beginning of ballet for Ariel, pre-primary! Very exciting for her and it meant we had to get new gear since, a) she out grew her stuff from last year and b) she had to wear light blue now. So pretty, I do like the blue on her quite a bit!

First official bun of the season, haha.

Without fail Xander was at the door too, my other dancer. Haha.

Class went well and afterwards we went to the local bakery to have a cookie with friend Sarah. When we arrived we saw they had hired someone who knew how to do royal icing, as the counter was filled with fancy cookies. The kids both picked SpongeBob ones, pretty cute!

Right beside the bakery is a thrift store and right out front was a little red and blue tricycle. Xander saw it and ran up and sat on it. Well that was it, we weren't leaving it, and the price was right, $5. It will need some tightening up but otherwise its in really nice condition considering. My boy was pretty excited, can you tell?

Our local Blockbuster is closing, which we knew was coming since the company announced bankruptcy back in the summer. Anyhoo, everything was marked down %40 and so we went to look and see what we could find. The kids found a Wii Cars game, the Gnomeo and Juliet dvd movie and I got the first season of Ugly Betty dvd set all for $20. Woot!

Speaking of good deals, I had ordered jeans for Xander from Old Navy's sale (I had gotten 2t ones earlier but they were HUGE on him so I saved them for next fall and ordered some new 18-24 month ones... yes he has tiny legs!) He looks so cute in them.... even these are a tad big on him too!

Well the story starts when I went to pick up the jeans package at the post office. I was surprised they couldn't fit the bag into the mail box since I knew it would be a small bag, but whatever. Got the bag and was floored as it was HUGE and heavy. Upon opening it at the counter as I was confused what was going on, I discovered Xander's jeans and several other items I didn't order. I pulled out a pair of ladies jeans, a fancy top and a bathing suit top and bottoms. So I called customer service and told them what I found and they had me reseal the bag and send it back as a return, and then emailed me a discount coupon as a thank you and sorry for the trouble. Wacky!

Oh some celebrity named her new baby Xander, same spelling too. Perhaps the chances of finding Xander's name on stuff is going up? Ha!

As of Monday Ariel is going to school from 9am till 3pm everyday. She is uber excited and I am looking forward to not worrying about forgetting the pick up time. Looking forward to falling into a regular flow now that everything has pretty much started. Sparks starts next week, and that is pretty much the last thing to get going. Whee!

I met with Maria this week to look at the pictures she took of the kids a few weeks ago. This is the one we are getting printed for Xander's room as a canvas. So awesome, and will fit perfectly in with his future big boy room design I am planning for when he gets his new bed.

Even though the shoot was primarily for Xander, we did get a few of Ariel with her doll Julie. I love how they are dressed similarly. Too cute!

Well I need to get the kids organized with some grub. Bye!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trucking Along

Here we are at week 2 of our gradual entry to Kindergarten. Things are still going great, Ariel gets more excited each day as they increase the length of the class. Today she finally got to bring a snack, haha. Tomorrow is her first lunch, so Mommy needs to make is special, hee.

Monday marked the opening of the dance studio and Ariel's joining the big kid programs. She was giddy waiting till it was time to go. Mommy had to get a picture and without fail Xander had to be in it.

He is turning into such a ham! He just loves to do whatever Ariel does.... he had to go into the studio and meet her teacher too, and wailed when I carried him out. Oh dear, maybe he will be in the hip hop class one day if this keeps up.

I think Xander is actually missing Ariel around the house, as sometimes he asks 'where Ariel?' So sweet. We are enjoying our time together, and he really has come into his own 'big boy' self. He prefers to walk with me in the store without being in the buggy. He helped carry groceries and was just 'oozing' cute everywhere we went. I have noticed his understanding of instructions is really sharp and he is communicating more in sentences, not that we understand all the words but he sure does. He is also a gardener... at least someone got a green thumb in the family.

Last night I attended my first PAC meeting. I knew several of the people there from church, and I really enjoyed it. I signed up to help with the hot lunches each month, and met the gal the head of the team so that was fun. Looking forward to jumping in and being very involved. I was impressed with the meeting and those leading things.... and Cobs bread came to bring a cheque and free goodies for taking part in their school 'dough' program.

Another exciting thing happening is Ariel is joining Girl Guides as a Spark! I went to sign her up with Sarah's mom on the weekend and get her into the troop with her other friend, whose Mom is also the leader. There was a flood of people as everyone wanted in that particular troop too (its very popular) and so we didn't know until late afternoon that we did in fact make it in, yay! Ariel was so excited and I am so excited Ariel is joining our family as the 3rd generation girl guide, I will make a special post on that in the coming weeks.

I have been pretty busy with Jaybird Creation stuff, a few cakes (the orders are picking up again now that summer is over) lots of photography stuff and some graphics projects. I had a extended photo shoot with 19 people on the weekend and it went great. The kids were all so great and took direction well... even the baby! I posted a few shots on the Jaybird facebook group but I should have some more stuff posted on the website soon too.

Speaking of which, I need to get back to editing so I can watch Parenthood tonight! Yay for fall lineup. Hee.

Friday, September 09, 2011

America... um, I am cheesed at you

Ok, so this week while on my message board, an article was posted about how the USA is cracking down on Americans living abroad, and not filing their taxes. Now Ken has filed every year since learning early on that it was law. So yes, he files both a Canadian and American tax return. So I wasn't concerned as we were up to date on it all and felt bad more so for those who never bothered or didn't know.

Now, I DID learn something interesting, something that frustrates me.

First of all, let me say this first, this is NOT a comment at all about America in general. I think highly of my husband's country and his family who are very much proud of their citizenship (most of the time, hehe).

So we have been told early on that our kids are allowed to become American if they choose to in the future. Basically saying, the kids are Canadian, but are untitled to be duel if they wish to choose it. Guess what, they don't get to choose.... they are duel already!

Apparently, even though the kids were born in Canada, they are American because of Ken... no forms required. Now you might be saying, what is the big deal, sounds ok. Well, it is and it isn't.

Even though it opens up a lot more choices to the kids, it does make them responsible for now filing 2 tax returns like their dad when they start earning money. Makes the whole passport issue more of a possible headache. We had been asked once by the angry border man why the kids didn't have American passports, I was assuming they of course couldn't get them but I guess that isn't the case. Needless to say, the annoying side of this is MONEY it costs a lot to deal with said problems.

What I find funny is that the kids are automatically American but since we don't live in the country they don't want to give them anything, but hey still report your income to us, because its the law. Even if they don't ever earn a penny in the US, they still want to know what they earn in Canada... and gosh don't think about having a joint account with a future spouse because we learned if I started working full time again that they could tax MY money as well because of the joint account if we are over the 'exemption' (which we would defiantly be if I was working that much). Basically, it has been at times a real headache for us, one I wanted the kids to understand before taking on, but then they don't get the choice, and that is what makes me mad.

Any country makes you apply for citizenship if you have the rights entitled to it. To me that seems fitting and fair. To make my children duel without a choice, well, its not cool.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Kindergarten Rocks

Today was the day... the day Ariel has been waiting all summer for, the start of KINDERGARTEN! She picked out her outfit for the big day... trying on 3 outfits last night before deciding on her special t-shirt. She looked so grown up and surprisingly I didn't cry, I was more proud of my girl.

Mommy kept taking lots of pictures documenting such a huge day in her life. Xander wanted in on the action, grabbing his own backpack and standing beside his big sister. He sure loves her, so cute.

We walked to school this morning, Ariel deciding not to ride her bike, I think she had a bit of nerves setting in. I can't say enough about how wonderful the walk was. Not having to go through the town, with the busy streets and stinky cars. Ariel actually asked what the smell was and I was, that is nature!

It was fun talking together, working out her nervousness for meeting her new teacher and meeting new kids. As we made our way up the last sidewalk towards the school we got to meet the crossing guard. She was a lovely gal who eagerly welcomed Ariel to school and that she would help her cross the street every morning. We arrived at school and once seeing her old friend from preschool, Ariel was now excited again. She peaked in the big window looking into her classroom.

We got to finally go in and meet the teacher, who was reminding us so much of Grammy! Ariel whispered to me, she really looks like Grammy, and I totally had to agree. Rather uncanny actually. Ariel checked out everything in her beautiful and bright classroom. I took it all in, looking at all the details and part of me wished that this had been my classroom when I was that age, I had an 'interesting' Kindergarten experience to say the least... but that is another story for another time.

Class was very short, and will continue be for the week and the next as they do a VERY gradual entry. Honestly I think the girl went to preschool longer on her first day than she will go in general for the week. Oh well! We checked out the 'spirit wear' they had on display near the office with Ariel's official school mascot. Time to order a t-shirt and show our school pride! Yay!

Following class we went to Grandpa and Rita's who took us to lunch at the Triple O's. A good way to celebrate I think... Ariel agrees.

Tomorrow we are meeting with the teacher one on one and I am looking forward to that. I am just so beyond excited and feel like this is the start of a great year for all of us!

Xander's 2nd Birthday Party

We celebrated our little man's birthday this past weekend with a fun and simple construction party. Can't believe he is 2!

Xander was far easier to please in the cake department, only wanting something with wheels. When he saw his cake he said 'wow! vroom vroom!

We kept things very relaxed, mainly since it was more family than Xander's little friends (since one of them was away and unable to attend). Just playing and eating, the best kinda of party. Haha. The food also fit Xander's favs with the menu being hot dogs, potato salad and chips. If you have never had the opportunity to watch Xander eat potato salad, it really is something to behold. Hee.

The kids loved the video, especially Xander who squealed with every picture. When putting it together I saw how much the little man has thinned out this year. Baby fat is pretty much gone now.
His story was also well received by the kids. After Ken finished reading it he handed it Xander who started looking at it again. I am glad he loves it, with all the wheels why wouldn't he. You can see the online version HERE.

Xander got some lovely gifts, including several new diggers and more pieces for his wooden Thomas the train set. He was thrilled and has spent countless hours playing with them.

My babies are growing up... its strange and wonderful... but mostly wonderful.
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