Category Archives: Friends

Here comes the quartet


A month ago now L and A, along with their friends H and P provided all the instrumental music for a wedding.  The bridal couple are friends of H and P who approached them about forming a quartet to play at the wedding in July.  The girls have played together many times but this was easily the most significant gig they have done.    Some of the music they already knew, but most had to be learned.  The bride chose very traditional wedding pieces including The Bridal March, Pachelbel Canon, Trumpet Voluntary and the Wedding March.   The wedding was held in a marquee in the bride’s parent’s lovely garden.  Right up until the ceremony began it poured but while the wedding proceeded the rain  took a break.   The girls played beautifully and enjoyed the experience.

There was much discussion about appropriate apparel.  The normal performance blacks were ruled out fairly early on.  H and P were invited guests and did not want to attend a wedding in black.  A and L are a little tired of their black performance dresses anyway.  Matching dresses were not considered a good choice,  they didn’t want to be mistaken for, or clash with the bridesmaids!  After a couple of joint shopping expeditions we realized that black and white is in at present and it was both pretty and professional looking.  Finding four different but co-ordinating dresses for the right price and the right size was a little tricky.  The first one we found everyone wanted so we bought it and then delayed the decision about who would get it.   Eventually we realized that we were not going to find a dress for A13.  Although she is the tallest of the four girls she is also the “smallest”.  I ended up making her one which fitted in well with the other three.

Happy Birthday girl


Earlier in the week we celebrated A13 ‘s birthday with some good food and some good friends.  She and L14 made a delicious breakfast of fruit salad followed by ham and eggs on toast.  We watched as A13 opened some cards and gifts including a card from B8 containing rhyming clues which sent her on a hunt around the house for the gifts he had hidden .  She was wearing some of the gifts her sister  bought  for her a few weeks ago when they went shopping together.

She spent the morning playing games with B8 and trying out some of her gifts.  One of them is a set for designing clothes for a  2D mannequin.  It is a variation on paper dolls but is all about the fashion design.  There is no cutting out just loads of different shapes and styles which can be combined and then texture plates which can be used to make the different fabrics on paper.  I might just have to try it myself!

Friends dropped in for lunch which was chicken and salad, cooked the way A likes it with Franks Hot Sauce.  The friends were convinced to stay while their mother went for groceries which enabled everyone to watch the final episode of Gilligan’s Island.  It was an hour and a half special made some time after the series ended where they were finally rescued.  According to the keen Gilligan fans who watched it was not worth it!

Dinner was Sushi rolls, which A13 has been wanting to make for a while.  We don’t make them often because  they are time consuming.  As a birthday cake she requested cheesecake so I bought one and  made a gluten free one.  It was not hard so I plan to make more in the future,  and will play around with gluten free crust ideas.

As we have mentioned before we have become avid followers of MasterChef Australia, so we watched a couple of episodes after dinner.   Not only is it entertaining I think it is having a positive effect on the culinary efforts of everyone in the family.  We had a very happy and delicious day celebrating with our delightful Miss A.


Canadian Operations during WW2

That was the topic in our history class this week.   We were privileged to have a guest speaker, a friend of mine who really knows his stuff.   When I asked him if he would teach for us on this topic we both realised what a huge topic it was.    He chose what he would cover, concentrating on three very different operations.  We began in Hong Kong, learning military terms as we went.  Ortona, Italy was the next “theatre” we visited and finally we looked at the clearing of the Scheldt.   All three operations were very different, so as we listened to our guest speaker, viewed the pictures he had gathered and asked questions we got a taste of the involvement Canadian forces had in WW2.

All  that we learnt was interesting but we enjoyed it most when our speaker strayed from his notes to explain in detail how a regiment would move into position, and how various battles proceeded depending on the terrain, the numbers of troops and the type of artillery being used.  We learnt about the “house to  house” and “hand to hand’ combat in Ortona, the feats of engineering necessary for success in the canal filled Scheldt pocket and the last ditch efforts of the infantry in Hong Kong.

We could have spent several weeks on WW2 and will certainly keep reading about it over the next few weeks.  Both L14 and B8 have chosed WW2 topics for their History Fair projects this year so they are narrowing in on different aspects of Canada’s involvement.

I did not realise at the time of our class but  last week was a very significant week for our guest, LCol Bernard Ciarroni OMM, CD.  He taught us on  Wednesday rather than  our regular Friday afternoon history time slot because on Friday he was at Rideau Hall being presented with the  Order of Military Merit by the Governor General!

The Bleak Midwinter

Canadians do like to talk about the weather and I can see why.   It is currently bleak.   We have several days this week where the temperature will not rise above -20°C and will drop to around -30°C each night.  Today we were warned that with the windchill the temperature was -39°C!   I tried to head out for a swim this morning but the it took  such a long time for the car to warm up (so the windows would defrost) I gave up.  I did head out at lunch time after running the car for 15 minutes first.   As soon as I stepped outside after my swim my damp hair froze stiff.  I still find this amusing even after eight winters.

Most of our Christmas decorations are now packed away, as the tree will be put out for collection tonight.  The wreaths on the front door and over the fire place will stay as long as they can survive.  And the candles will continue to light our table and rooms until the daylight lasts much longer.   The Christmas cards are not yet put away. The children and I reach for one each in the mornings when we have our devotions time.  Each day we pray for one of the families or friends who sent us cards, a practice I started a few years back after reading the idea somewhere.  I like to look at them a little longer and call to mind the dear friends who sent them.

The winter package

For  twelve days over Christmas  we  had friends visiting from Sydney, Australia.  We have known them since 1997 when we lived in Wollongong for a year.  They have three children, very close in age to our children and we had a ball.  So much so that there was not time to write about it on the blog, just time to enjoy it in real life.   When we have visitors there are certain things we like to do with them and places we like to take them.  If they are from Australia, and if they are here in winter, there are a few activities which are a “must”.

Thankfully the weather was all it needed to be.  We had a white Christmas, which we were all   hoping for.  The skating rink at the end of our street was in great shape and, towards the end of their stay, 2 km of the canal opened so our friends experienced some hockey and a canal skate.   Keen to try just about anything we suggested, they loved tobogganing and also  enjoyed cross country  skiing in Gatineau Park on two separate days.  Both times we packed food so we could ski to one of the huts,  warm up, eat up and then ski back again.


One place we always take visitors is the Museum of Civilization.  Our children have been there so many times, however, that the Canada Hall, which once intrigued them, does not hold their attention for very long anymore.  The six children raced through and then spent most of their time in the Children’s Museum, which continues to captivate them.  The parents did meander through the Canada Hall and then visit, with the older girls,  the special Tombs of Eternity exhibit.  Another place which we visit any time of year is Hog’s Back Falls.  When we were there it was extremely icy, which caused one or two  falls but also gave the four youngest and silliest children the chance to slide down the iced stairs on their behinds.  After they’d had enough of that we walked along a trail for a while and managed to lure chickadees on to our hands with bird seed.

I’ve never ventured into the Boxing Day sales before but this year we all headed out the day after Boxing Day, split into two groups, girls and boys and sought out the bargains.  All the girls came home with something new, and the boys might have bought a book or a video cable, I’m not really sure!

When we were back in our warm house we had plenty of time to catch up on the last few years over some delicious meals eaten by candlelight and followed by coffee, cheese and chocolate.

bear jigsaw

We persevered through two jigsaw puzzles and the children watched several movies together.  We fell into a routine of going to bed late and rising late.  B8 was thrilled to have M11 stay in his room and the two of them had to be told just about every night to stop talking and go to sleep!  It was wonderful to see the friendships rekindle and grow between all the children and for the adults to be able to slip back into easy conversation after years apart.

As you can imagine we didn’t want them to go,  we didn’t want to go back to getting up on time and we weren’t keen on the whole back to school thing either.

Winter days

Officially winter has not yet begun, but if you look out our window, you can see that it is well and truly here.  We have had quite a few snowfalls with more storm warnings ahead  so a white Christmas looks certain.  The days are much shorter.  We find it hard to get out of bed in the dark and to turn on the lights at 4:30 in the afternoon.

The end of the the school term is near and we are eagerly looking forward to a few weeks holiday.  Each of the children have some academic tasks that they are trying to finish by Friday at the latest.  B8 amazed us all by deciding that he would like to finish earlier than Friday and to that end he completed three math problem sets on Monday then two plus a test on Tuesday.  This has never happened before! But now I know it is possible…

L14 is working on her last writing assignment for this year, a Christmas poem and A12 is finishing up a research paper on trench warfare.   Our Christmas preparations are well underway despite the need for school to continue.  On Monday night we picked up a Balsam fir tree which is looking beautiful in our lounge room. The other  night Andrew and I put up lights on our front porch.  It was minus 7 at the time so we kept going inside for a little thaw break.  All the hard work had to be done by Andrew, some on a ladder some on the snow covered rook.  I just stood and gave advice and wondered if the hedge would be enough to break his fall if he slipped off the roof.

Lately, the girls have had several opportunities to play violin in the community .  Today, along with their friends H and P they provided Christmas music for a Senior Christmas Dinner at H and P’s  Grandma’s church.  A couple of weeks ago they did the same for the seniors dinner at our church.  Last Sunday L14 and P performed  at our church’s  Youth banquet.

This time next week will be Christmas Day, which we will be spending with friends we made back in Wollongong when A12 was a baby.  They are in New York now and will arrive at our place on Christmas Eve.  Everyone is looking forward to their arrival.  Like us they have three children, very close in age to ours.  There will be fun and games for sure.

Final Gingerbread Entries

L14 and her friends P and E designed, built and decorated this house.     The group worked really well together as each participant had their own area of expertise which was employed as needed.


As you can see the scale is quite big, there was definitely the need for a little structural reinforcement inside this one!


A little frozen creek was added along with the pretzel bridge.


The final entry  from the Group of Four, an outdoor hockey rink, was made by two of the boys, who did a fantastic job and managed to put it all together  in the shortest time.  It was funny to hear them discussing the details, they were not in the least concerned about how to make the lights stay up, or how to make a gingerbread sign, they were deep in conversation about the exact position of the gummy bear players.  They were setting up actual hockey plays!   I intended to get another picture from the other signs which would have showed the little “Ginger-rena” sign, but I didn’t get to it before it was taken to the competition.  See the little gingerbread zamboni yet to be positioned on the board.


Gingerbread Church

The gingerbread structures took quite some time to complete, as you can probably imagine.  We had scheduled three mornings but the church definitely needed more time.  Even though all the moms lobbied for a winter scene the girls making the church were determined to surround the church with a spring garden.  We were very impressed with their finished product, especially as it had all been their own design, from sketch and cardboard model through to completion.  By the way the stained glass windows will be shown off with little lights inside.


Ducks on the pond:


and graveyard out the back:


They painstakingly put together the pretzel fence and sprinkled the parsley grass around.  There are also several  garden beds and a bridge over the pond.

Gingerbread village

For the last two weeks my dining room table and several kitchen counters have been covered with gingerbread shapes and structures.  They are the components of four different entries for a local gingerbread house competition.  Last year we teamed up with another family and entered a lighthouse and the little house on the prairie.  This year the Group of Four families are all involved and there are four different entries.

B8 teamed up with the two other 8 year olds in our homeschooling group to make “Gummyville” a gingerbread village inhabited by gummy bears.  This worked very well because each child made two houses and was able to decorate them as they wished.


There was some negotiating done about surrounding parkland, but they were all very accommodating of each others ideas.  It was their idea to have a little frozen pond with gummy bears skating as well as some parkbenches for those gummies who just wanted sit by the fire.


They also came up with the name “Gummyville”  but no matter how hard I campaigned I could not get them to agree to have “…where life is sweet” on their sign!

There were several tense moments during the assembly day, but you can always turn a broken wall into a little shop.


I will post photos of the other three entries soon, so check back later.