Monthly Archives: March 2008

Sunshine and a robin

We are still surrounded by snow banks, but they have been shrinking and leaving puddles everywhere. Our street is still only one lane wide as none of the snow has been removed. During the day we splash through and at night we take care not to slip as it refreezes. Despite the signs of winter all around us we are seeing signs of spring as well. Yesterday and today when we were out the sun felt warm on our faces and the breeze, while not exactly warm, was no longer freezing. It amazes me every year that 3°C in October has you reaching for the mitts and scarves but in March it makes you want to start wearing shorts and tshirts!

Another sign of spring is the return of the birds. We were excited to see a flock of cedar waxwings descend on our backyard trees the other day and I watched a blue jay on our back fence today. A11 spotted Mr and Mrs Cardinal at the feeder a few days ago and this afternoon she saw the first robin.

Groupe de Quatre

I have not kept up to date with my news about the group of four lately but we have still been meeting on a weekly basis. We had begun talking about the possibility of studying French as a group earlier in the term. The idea definitely had its pros and cons. None of us were doing any French, even though several of the children were very keen to learn. We needed a teacher or a suitable program or both.

We now have both a teacher and a program and are into our sixth week. I am pleased with the way the program is building vocab and conversation each week but I know we won’t get far without daily practice. I need to schedule in time for both listening to our vocabulary and conversations on cd, as well as practising the phrases we have learnt. L13 has been spending some time with French children’s book and tape sets which is helping her pick up some sentence structure and grammar as well as vocabulary.

As I sat on the bus today I listened to several French conversations going on around me but unfortunately could not understand anything. I am finding that I can decipher a bit more of the French dialogue in some of the Canadian history novels we have been reading lately. Only a bit, but it’s a start.

Privilege, pride and prejudice

Last weekend I was having trouble using both my blogs. Loading either the publishing pages or the public site was a very slow process. It took several days before everything was back to normal and then more days before I managed to get back to the post I started below, so this news is a week old now.

My friend N and I were privileged to have a night away with our older girls, L13 and P13. We had been hoping to do this for a while, but Saturday music commitments made it hard to find the time. Last Friday afternoon Andrew was off work and on Saturday there was not a single rehearsal so we booked a B & B and off we went. N and I had a bit of trouble finding a suitable destination; there are many Bed & Breakfasts, but not all are affordable. And more importantly not all have tv and dvd provided. The one we settled on an hour out of Ottawa and was a two room suite complete with large tv and dvd player. I know many people choose to go away and enjoy life without the distraction of tv, but our part of our plan in going away together was to introduce the girls to the classic BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, all five hours of it!

About half way to our destination we stopped in an attractive little town and wandered in and out of the interesting shops. The most intriguing by far was the vintage clothing store. I could not believe the huge range of clothing in the store. It was amusing that none of us liked the same things. I found a beautiful dress from the fifties, a deep blue and green tartan silk organza over a shot silk underskirt. Unfortunately the pleated skirt was beginning to split on the folds and would probably have fallen apart the first time I tried to wear it. We browsed in a couple more shops, had a bite to eat and then drove on to the B & B.

Our hosts were very welcoming and suggested we take the snow shoes and go for a short hike through the woods and down to the river, which was running, not frozen over. As they pointed out the route we looked across to the river and saw a deer walking along the waters’ edge. When we approached the river the deer was long gone, but on the bank opposite us was a huge beaver nibbling a stick. We stayed and watched for quite a while, taking pictures, which unfortunately do not do him justice. On returning to our rooms we pulled out our vast array of snacks and prepared to begin the marathon.

N and I felt it was almost a rite of passage for our girls to be watching Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy for the first time. And we thoroughly enjoyed watching it with them. L13 had read it late last year. P13, who has not read the book yet, was not even sure she would like it. We all assured her she would love it and were very pleased to see her enjoy it as much as the rest of us. Mr Collins made our skin crawl, Lydia made us angry, and of course Mrs Bennett disgusted us and made us laugh at the same time.

We had arranged with our hosts to have breakfast at about 9:30am, which was just as well after finishing P & P at 1:30am. We were served fruit smoothies, a fruit platter, eggs benedict and coffee, which were all delicious. L and P decided, after breakfast, to totally change the tone of viewing by squeezing in a Mr Bean before we set off again. On the way home we were able to chat about our favourite scenes and lines from the night before. It was interesting to hear the girls’ impressions and listen to them repeating bits of dialogue which had long been favourite passages of mine. We were all commenting on the very proper and polite way everyone spoke to each other even when they were in violent disagreement. We thought it would be a very good habit to cultivate.

White World

We knew it was the weekend to turn the clocks forward. We had talked about it a few days ago. We just didn’t think about it last night when the children were watching the Cosby show until 10:45.

We also knew that there was a very good chance that we wouldn’t be able to get out of our street to get to church. Despite our late night we had to get up and see if we should try. No chance. The street would be an impossibility for our van right now. A11 and I trudged down to the end of the street to see how the main road looked and found the bus stop. Then we had to go back and get the camera so you could see the bus stop too.

bus stop

I also took a photo of the picnic table just to compare with the last one I posted in December. I included the birdfeeders this time as they are now sitting in the snow.

picnic table

When we have this much snow the roof has to be shoveled as well, that’s where Andrew is now.

Fun and games

Due to March break and the weather there were no rehearsals today. We did not leave the premises. It was a nice change to be muddling around at home all day. Granted there was shoveling that had to be done on and off all day, but everyone lent a hand to do that. Everyone has sore muscles as a result, I think, because the snowbanks are now taller than Andrew. It takes effort to throw snow that high!

Before they had even had breakfast the children all gathered in the bedroom downstairs where L13 and her friend P13 had slept last night. When I looked in they had drawing books open in front of them and sketch books on their laps and all were drawing. After breakfast they decided to have some fun with A11’s latest online discovery: sound effects and voice generating sites. Using a children’s book about Moses and the children of Israel they recorded the whole story with appropriate crackling fire and crashing waves sounds as well as carefully chosen voices for God and Pharaoh.

In the afternoon the line between shoveling and fort building blurred a little, as is to be expected. When they came back inside soaked and rosy cheeked, we had a couple of games of Clue. I remember playing this when I was a child, I recall it being Cluedo, but it is the same game. I loved it then. It was fun this afternoon too, but not quite as enthralling as I remembered. “I think it was Professor Plum in the Billiard room with the candlestick.” More entertaining than the game itself was the banter about the suspects and their methods.

The evening finished with a couple of episodes of the Cosby Show and a couple of last looks out the window at…tomorrow’s task.

Snowed in?

I’m sorry to be writing about snow again, but honestly that is all that is happening here at present. We are in the middle of a snowstorm so I thought I would try to document it for you. I have not managed to take great snow photos but out the front of our house right now it looks like this:


top of bank

Falling Alexandra

Van in snow

Approaching the record

With 345cm of snow so far this winter Ottawa is approaching its record of 440cm back in the winter of 1971-72. I know many people I talk to are thoroughly sick of it, but as a relative newcomer I still find it quite exciting to see so much snow. We had yet another snow storm today and our children valiantly shoveled on and off all day to keep the driveway under control. Even so, when we left to head out to worship team practice tonight we cleared our driveway only to get stuck in our unploughed street!

Andrew and I were unwell today, the last to get the stomach bug which hit A11 early on my birthday morning and has hit another family member every three or four days since. Without me cracking the whip over the school books this left the children free to pursue the snow removal with all their energy.