Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tis the season

And I was expecting only a little picture of santa on his cheek!!
We have been in full-on Christmas mode for the past few weeks. The advent calendar has been a huge success and without fail, it's the first thing Cale asks for each morning. We've been making cookies, wrapping gifts, decorating cards and I must say that I don't know if I've ever felt quite so full of Christmas spirit! I guess that is the gift of having a 3 year old to celebrate with. 

Our neighbours were quite impressed to receive these delicious gifts!
 The only trick is that my 3 year old is almost too logical to be fooled by this whole Santa thing. I don't remember this from my childhood, but it seems that Santa is *everywhere* this year - at the Home Hardware for photos, at the parade, at the local craft fair and we even ran into him at the post office after the craft fair! We saw him this morning for Breakfast with Santa and he'll be coming to Caleb's daycare later this week. Phew, that is a lot of Santa sightings and Cale has started to ask tough questions like - does Santa go to every school in the world? Yes. Even in Jamaica, Mexico and Africa? Yes. Does he go to every craft fair in the whole world? Yes. Shouldn't he be in the North Pole helping the elves make toys? Yes. It's like I'm being interrogated by the police and I feel like I might just crack soon! Surely I can keep him believing until he is at least 5 years old!!

Last night's activity - gingerbread (aka graham cracker) houses!
Finished product. It actually turned out better than I had imagined, but I won't be entering this in any contests!!
Breakfast with Santa this morning. He is still only asking for a measuring tape!

Monday, December 2, 2013

All I want for Christmas is....

A measuring tape!!

I wasn't the only one surprised to hear these words come out of Caleb's mouth during his meeting with Santa this year. The exciting encounter came during Annapolis Royal's Tree Lighting Parade, and once again this little town had me completely in awe of its community spirit. We left our house at 7 pm on Friday night to meet the Town Crier (and everyone else in town) at the Court House. With a ring of the bell, we all sang carols and marched together down the main street, ending up at Town Hall (~200 m away!). Greetings from the mayor, a count down to the tree lighting, more carols ensued, and then, who appeared - but Jolly Old St. Nick!

Town crier and town-crier-in-training!
Since we were in Jamaica last year, meeting Santa was another 'first' for Cale. He absolutely could not believe that he was right here, in our little town! He went right up, shook his hand, said hello and when asked what he wanted for Christmas this year - and without missing a beat he proudly replied 'a measuring tape!' Needless to say, some 'ho! ho! hos!' burst out of Santa! Everyone then marched to the outdoor market where we were greeted with free hot chocolate and cookies.

Next up in Annapolis, a giant Craft Fair housed at 4 different locations around town with free bus to transport you between the locations! Can't wait for Saturday!

Cale's daycare class decorated this tree! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Activity Advent Calendar

A friend of mine on facebook posted this idea last week and I've been working away on my own activity advent calendar ever since. I had pictured creating something simple - paper notes clipped to a string with clothespins. However, I decided to act on the crafty urges that usually hit me around Christmas time, and before I knew it I had embarked on my most ambitious hand-stitched craft ever!

I really wanted to make a calendar that was focused more on giving than receiving, so here are the 25 things I came up with.

  1. Write a letter to Santa (Send to: Santa Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0, Canada and he'll write back! No postage required!)
  2. Put up Christmas decorations
  3. Write and mail Christmas cards to your friends and family
  4. Make your own Christmas board game 
  5. Open new Christmas pajamas
  6. Make a gingerbread house
  7. Decorate our Christmas tree
  8. Bake Christmas cookies for your friends and neighbours
  9. Deliver cookies
  10. Make a Christmas gift for your grandparents
  11. Make room for new toys! Pack up toys you don't play with anymore and donate them.
  12. Watch a Christmas movie
  13. Deliver mini candy canes to Senior's home
  14. Invite friends over for apple cider and Christmas board game - Annapolis Royal
  15. Breakfast with Santa - Clementsport Legion
  16. Christmas shopping for your cousins
  17. Make your own snow globes
  18. Look for Christmas books at the library
  19. Wrap presents
  20. Home for the holidays! Make a Christmas craft on the ferry
  21. Family Christmas carol sing-a-long
  22. Go skating
  23. Invite friends over for a Christmas party - Fredericton
  24. Christmas Eve! Hang up your stocking and make cookies for Santa
  25. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Board games

Had a wonderful visit with Freddy friends a few weeks ago!

I love that moment as a parent when you suddenly realize your 'baby' is capable of doing something you had no idea they could do. Like the first time Cale did a summersault in front of me, or when he burst out singing the entire alphabet when I was just getting ready to tell him about the first 3 letters! I definitely give credit to his daycares for secretly building his skills, but I think it is probably true that your first child can do a lot more than parents realize.

Our most recent discovery - board games!! Alan and I both love board games, but for some reason, I didn't think Cale would be able to partake for another year or so, until my aunt Colleen gave Caleb a great activity book recently that featured a Halloween version of 'Chutes and Ladders' called 'Broomsticks and Slime'. Cale wanted to try it, and sure enough, board games had suddenly become part of our family fun.

 I wanted to find other age appropriate games, so I purchased Candy Land for $9.00, and - voila! we had 2 games in our repertoire! We were telling my parents about this on skype, when my dad gave the best suggestion yet - why don't you guys make your own board game? This was an absolutely perfect activity for a wet Saturday at home and after an hour - Caleb's Pirate Island was born. He made the initial path lines, I filled in the squares and together we came up with the rules. As this was a pirate game, we included things like:

Caleb's Pirate Island
 You ran into a storm - Miss a turn
You forgot your map - Go back to get it (Caleb's idea)
You saw a whale - Roll again
You made a pirate friend - Roll again
You found a treasure - Take the shortcut (Caleb's idea)

It is actually quite fun..and it has been interesting to see a bit of a competitive side come out in Cale! But he is learning that the most important part is to have fun and last night he told me: "Mom, I won the game and you didn't win, but that's ok, you did a good job anyway."
I love Cale's pirate - complete with a hook and peg leg!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick or what??!!

When I first mentioned Halloween to Cale earlier this month, I was met with a completely blank stare. He had no idea what I was talking about. After being in Jamaica last fall where Halloween isn't celebrated, he had absolutely no memories of Halloween. I started explaining it to him, and as you imagine, for a 3 year old this was sounding better by the second. When I got to the part about going to people's doors to collect free candy, he was blown away!
I asked him: "Do you know what you say when you knock on the door?"
Cale: "No, what??"
Me: "Trick or treat!"
Cale: "Trick or what??!"
Me: "hahaha!"

My costume was borrowed from a friend. Cale looked me over and said I looked 'a little bit beautiful!'
And then I asked him what he wanted to be. He could dress up as anything. He was quite excited about the pumpkin carving, and he loooves boats and pirates, so it seemed to make perfect sense when he immediately replied - "I want to be a pirate pumpkin!". And that was that. One trip to Frenchy's and $3.00 later - we had ourselves a pirate pumpkin costume! His teacher was quite impressed, not once in her 28 years of running a daycare had she ever seen a pirate pumpkin.

A very fierce Pirate Pumpkin
The big day grew closer and, before we knew it, late October was here and we were heading to Truro to visit Aunt Sarah and meet Caleb's new baby cousin Jack. Sarah went above and beyond in planning a fantastic Halloween party, so Cale got to wear his costume, carve pumpkins, play games, eat candy....and Jack was pretty wonderful, too!

Hooray for new cousins!! Jack makes 8! (Thanks for the photo, Sarah!)
Tonight is actually Halloween and I think Cale is finally asleep upstairs. He had quite a day - trick or treating downtown with his daycare and out again for round 2 with me tonight. We visited a few houses, collected some treats, met some neighbours and then headed home for what turned out to be the best part of his day - handing out the treats. He was so excited - dishing out handfuls of candy - he even offered to give out his own candy after we ran out. What a special night and what a special guy!
Best game at Sarah's party - Mummy your mommy!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Fun

Photo ops around every corner!
There is no better place to be on a sunny October day than driving through the Valley on route to a country farm. This was not just any farm, but Noggin's Family Farm, and after reading the website I had high hopes. Noggin's promises a giant corn maze, play area, wagon rides and U-pick apples, pumpkins and flowers. Wow. The farm happens to be exactly half way between Annapolis Royal and Halifax, so I invited a few friends and their kids to meet us there. Noggin's did not disappoint! The play area alone was worth the trip - giant hay bale and tire structures, water games, tunnel slides made from old pipes, and several different mini-mazes. The giant corn maze was actually enormous - apparently it can take well over an hour to get through it all. We opted for the mini-corn maze which was perfect for the kids. It even had mailboxes along the way with stamps inside they could  collect and fill up a special card they'd been given. 

 The U-pick was also a huge success. I loved the 'all you can eat while picking' policy and somehow, despite the place being packed for weeks on end, there were tons of perfect apples to be picked that were just the right height for the kids! I already can't wait for next year...although I just might end up going back next weekend!

Duck races!
Truly cornmazing!
What's inside the mail box??
Time for a quick breather


Monday, October 7, 2013

Valley life

Trucking our way to the playground.
After the last post about my spell of bad luck, it's time to write about something positive - my love of the Annapolis Valley. It seems like we are constantly discovering new gems - local peaches and pears (grown only minutes away from our door), little roadside stands where you drop money into a jar and pick up a dozen eggs, a jar of honey or a bouquet of flowers, and wonderful trails and parks. Our current favourite park is Mickey Hill Provincial Park, a small but beautiful area with private picnic tables beside a perfect stream, a 1 km trail to a gorgeous lake with a sandy beach - the perfect hike for a 3 year old.

And we are just getting started, there is so much more to discover - corn mazes, u-picks, Keji national park, the King's Theatre, restaurants, shops, will make for a fall full of amily adventures!
Mickey Hill - our private sandy beach. Can't wait to swim here in the summer.
Dogsitting our pal Kye 
Hooray for fall!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I haven't written a post for a while, but I do have not one, but several good reasons why. They say bad things come in threes. Well, my 'third' just happened, so I think I am now in the clear.
First off, I lost my wallet. This happens to people from time to time, but it had never happened to me and it sucks! It was my own fault, I was rushing to do a long list of errands in Halifax and I left my wallet on the roof of my car after filling up with gas. After searching along roadside ditches to no avail, I gave up and started the long process of bringing my life back together in id form.

Then another unfortunate incident happened - driving to visit Teresa in the deep wilderness of NB last weekeend- I hit a deer. It could have been worse. The deer could have come flying in through my windshield or it could have been a moose. Thankfully, Caleb didn't see a thing because it was not a pleasant thing to witness and the damage to my car wasn't too bad (I managed to drive it back to NS). So, now I'm dealing with appraisals, insurance claims and trying to sort that aspect of my life out.

Then this weekend came the real kicker. Alan had just returned home from 2.5 weeks on tour and we both happened to be in Halifax for a night without Caleb. We came home after a nice evening out to 5 missed calls from our brand new tenant in our Bayside home. He hasn't even moved in yet, so we were a bit concerned that he was calling 5 times to report something to us...did we have a crazy-high maintenance tenant on our hands who was going to make unreasonable demands before he had even moved in? Well, it turns out that was not the case - I spoke to him first thing in the morning, and I could never had imagined in my entire life what I was about to hear. In our basement, another tenant had moved in - actually several tenants - a whole friggin nest of newly hatched snakes, complete with a 2-3ft mama snake - yes, you read that correctly - in our BASEMENT!!!  Holy smokes. That is definitely worth 5 missed calls.  So it appears that a pregnant snake found a way inside and thought our basement would be a nice warm place to lay her eggs and perhaps spend the winter. I personally would have died if I had been the one to discover this. DIED. Our tenant was actually ok with this, surprised, not overly excited about the situation, but he was calm and cool  (and not crazy!) and we now have someone coming to solve the problem (and I will not be going to inspect the situation, thank you very much).

So there it is. My big 3. I've been trying to figure out what the upside to all of this  is - surely there is something to reflect on, or some lesson to be learned. All I can think of is that we need to take time to enjoy the times of calm in our lives. It is only when things become difficult and challenging that we really appreciate how wonderful it is when the little things in life run smoothly. Before all of this I certainly wasn't thinking how great it was to have a car that worked, a wallet full of id and no wild animals running loose in the house I was about to rent! And in a month from now, when everything in my life is back in order and all of this is (almost) forgotten, I may forget to take a minute to just breathe and appreciate it. I certainly hope I remember to do so (and quickly forget the image of snakes hatching in my basement).

And now a quick note from Caleb, who is sitting patiently beside me waiting to write something. Here it goes - xxoooooooxoxoxooxoxxooooc

Mom, we can only go up from here!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Notable quotables!

Canoe concert!

 Here are a few of my favourite Calebisms from the last few months. Enjoy!

We had been admiring the lupins all spring and early summer -Cale even threw them in when we were rhyming one day - poopin' lupin - hard not to laugh or encourage that one! when one day in late July he was looking out the window when he suddenly shouted 'Mom! Come quick! The lupins are all gone!'. He had a horrified look on his face as if someone had come and stolen every lupin in sight. What followed was one of our first ever talks about life and death. He was ok with it, for flowers anyway, which was all we really covered. 

Having trouble sleeping one night, Cale ended up in my bed. He was squirming and half-crying and I couldn't fall back to sleep. It was 3:30 in the morning and I had had enough. I sternly told him, 'You have two choices - either lay still and fall asleep right now beside me, or go back to your own room and fall asleep by yourself.' This really upset him and he started to cry harder. Finally, through his tears he said, 'Mom, just tell me again, what are my options?'

Eating a snack one day he says 'Look mom, one bite of cheese, one drink of juice, one bite of cheese, one drink of juice - I made a pattern!'

Talking about an upcoming trip to a bluegrass festival he asks, 'Who made the rule that there are no drums in bluegrass?'

And my absolute favorite - we had been talking about the tooth ferry and one day while playing lego with Greg he says, 'Look, I made the tooth ferry!' and yes, it was a little boat and yes, all this time he had been imagining a ferry boat coming into his room to take away any teeth that would one day fall out!

Oh my little coastal boy!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Family photo - Tiverton, Long Island.
For the past two weekends, Cale and I have been on our own, without a vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, of all the places to be stuck, Annapolis Royal is a pretty great place to be, and for a 3 year old, Caleb is quite a wonderful companion, however, I was very excited to have some visitors over the long weekend.

Not only did my parents come to town for a few nights, a good friend from Halifax also visited for a night with her husband and 4 year old daughter. This meant Caleb had his first ever friend sleepover. The company was great and the kids were adorable.
 On Monday, Alan came home in time to join us for the ultimate Bay of Fundy adventure –whale watching! We boarded a fishing boat in Tiverton, Long Island and hit the open water. Three hours later we had encountered 7 humpback whales and several dolphins. Watching the whales slowly breach the surface beside the boat then flash their giant tails before diving below again…it was breathtaking.  I’m not sure if Caleb could grasp just how enormous the animals were, but he loved the experience and stayed interested for the whole journey. Driving back home, it was fun to look in the backseat and see Cale, snuggled between Greg and Linda, all three of them sound asleep.

Fake whale spotting!
Real whale spotting!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Paint the town

Artists abound!
Well, it's happened already. I've officially fallen in love with Annapolis Royal. This weekend the town hosted their annual 'Paint the Town' event where 70 artists are invited to spend the weekend capturing the local scenery.  Cale and I spent our Saturday wandering the streets of town, and around every corner we'd see someone painting something wonderful - the shoreline, boats on the wharf, the bustling farmer's market, downtown storefronts, the fort, crows sitting on a telephone wire - it was amazing to see these incredible works coming to life before your eyes. But the real fun happened this evening. Every piece created today was brought to the 'Paint the Town gallery' where it was displayed and put up for sale in a silent auction. Better yet, the gallery was in the Legion which just so happens to be in our backyard. So, Cale and I set out to see if we could purchase something special.

 The opening bid prices were amazing, but with so many tourists in town for the event, we quickly started to realize that our top picks were likely not going to be coming home with us. Caleb was not impressed. He was determined to take home every single piece in the gallery. I took him outside for a quick 'team meeting' to run through again how silent auctions work and to talk about our budget (which I set at $20, since all the fun is happening again tomorrow when Alan will be home and we can decide together which pieces we might want to buy). As the final minutes wound down, we watched all of our pieces go to other bidders. All except one. We kept a very close eye on what was Caleb's number one choice from early on in the day. And I'm happy to announce that tonight we are the proud owners of 'Fundy the Snail'. It's not quite what I had imagined walking away with, but it came in under our budget and Caleb couldn't be happier. He was walking around the place like a king at the end of the night, smiling at other people's purchases, but you could see on his face that he knew we had won the grand prize. And tomorrow we get to do it all over again!

Our snail.  Caleb first named her Suzy, but since we already have a Suzy the caterpillar and a Suzy the snake at home, I was glad to be able to convince him to try a different name this time around! Fundy it is. 
We thought we should do our own painting of the town this afternoon. Caleb really wanted to bring his piece to the gallery, but in the end we decided someone might outbid us so it would be best to put it on the fridge right away.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


That's what our lives have been over the past month. A complete whirlwind! Packing, moving, unpacking, finishing up my job, starting a new job, finishing up daycare, starting a new daycare....but now, here we are, one week into our new lives. And so far, so good. I've definitely had my moments of wondering if this whole upheaval is going to be worth it, but I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised with how things are turning out.

Exploring Fort Royal, overlooking the Annapolis Basin
Annapolis Royal is beautiful. It is a picture perfect town, with a tiny (but thriving) downtown, incredibly friendly people (there are only 500 of them, but they have all chosen to live here for a reason), and it is located right on the amazing Bay of Fundy, one of my absolute favourite places in the world.  We've rented an old heritage home downtown and we are starting to settle in. Being in a 'city' is very different  for us. For the first time in years we can walk everywhere. Literally! To the playground, grocery stores, pub, post office, restaurants, farmer's market, daycare...And, I can carpool to work. Alan happens to be away right now and I don't need a car while he is gone. It feels truly amazing.

My 'First Day of Work' Party. Mom and Colleen came to visit and help us get settled (and celebrate!)
Caleb hasn't missed a beat. He is so amazingly adaptable, he had no qualms about saying goodbye to his friends at daycare, packing up his toys and leaving the house we promised him he'd stay in for years. He was up for the adventure and he is embracing it every step of the way. He loves his new town, loves his new school, loves making trips to the store in his wagon, loves counting the boats from the wharf and especially loves walking over to play in the 'pirate ship playground'. He'll happily tell you he lives in Annapolis Royal as if he's never lived anywhere else in his entire life. It makes me really proud.

 It still feels surreal to think that we now live in the Valley,  and it feels even crazier to think that there is a real potential that we'll be here for many, many years to come. This little town might be the place where Caleb grows up and always calls home. After all these changes I'm not going to place bets on what our future holds, but for now we are happy and excited to discover what else this little town has to offer.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

5 Moms, 5 Babies!

2nd Annual Moms and Babies camping trip!
What a fun past few days Caleb and I have had. We started our weekend with an evening of babysitting Lydia's little boy, Kai. Caleb was a wonderful helper, who did most of the entertaining and kept insisting that we 'check on the baby' after Kai had gone to bed. Lyd and Nick have helped me many times with Caleb so it felt great to give them the precious gift of a date night. 

Holding wiggly Kai
We then hit the road for our 2nd Annual Moms and Babies camping trip. We had a great group consisting of 5 moms and 5 babies - Lyd and Kai, Nina and Maria, Cate and Elias, Rae and Gus. We wanted to stay close to town so we headed to Porter's Lake Provincial Park for the night. The weather was perfect, the campsite was great and the kids were wonderful. They even managed to fall asleep in their tents so the moms could have some quality girl time by the campfire.

The happy campers - Cale, Gus, Elias, Maria and Kai
It happened to be 'Canada Parks Day' so there were some activities set up in the afternoon, including Potty Toss. Must be a Nova Scotia thing??!
Of course, curious Caleb needed to check to see if their were any pipes under potty!
Our adventurous weekend didn't leave much time for packing or finishing up work related things, so I was ready to hit the office on Monday morning with a full 'to do' list. I was on a roll when I received a call at 10 am from Caleb's daycare - he had fallen from a play structure and landed on his arm. From the amount of crying he was doing, his teachers thought I should get him checked out. So, we headed off to the IWK Emergency Room. Caleb was an extremely tough little guy, staying very brave while doctors looked him over and took x-rays, and 5 hours later we left with Caleb's fractured arm wrapped up in a plaster splint. He's feeling fine now, and we should be able to take the splint off in a few weeks. Phew, what a day!

Showing off his injury
Happy about the signatures, much less happy about the news that he can't go swimming for awhile!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On the road again

Well, I have some news. The Sprague/Jeffries family is on the move...again. Only 3 months after moving into our beautiful dream home, we are once again packing up and starting a new (unexpected) adventure. I've accepted a job with the provincial government as Coastal Coordinator - and my new office will be in Cornwallis, NS. So we are moving to the Annapolis Valley, and we just found a house to rent in downtown Annapolis Royal. We are going to rent our Bayside home because we just can't quite bear to part with it so soon. Annapolis Royal was voted 'The Most Liveable Small Town in the World' by the United Nations in 2008, so that can only be a good sign. We are feeling good about our decision and although we will miss our friends/life in Halifax, we think Annapolis Royal will be a great place to raise Caleb and actually settle down. For real this time.....I hope! In the past 11 months we have spent 4 months in Jamaica, 4 months in Duncan's Cove, 3 months in our new house in Bayside and now, another new place to call home.

Here are some amazing photos taken by Grampie John while Caleb was in Fredericton last week. I'm sooooo glad to have him home, but from the looks of things, I don't think he missed me quite as much as I missed him!

I love this photo! Cale and Monica enjoying a laugh over snacks. 
Jeffries family meal - 5 cousins reunited!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Home alone

Caleb is spending a full week in Fredericton. He's 3 and a half now, and it turns out that big kids can go on vacations without their parents! He's been with Greg and Linda for the past few nights and will move to John and Maureen's tonight. I know he is having action-packed days filled with swims at the 'waving' pool, parks, popsicles and visits with friends. Alan and I have been having fun, too, but I must say that the excitement of having an empty nest wore off very quickly. I miss my little sidekick and absolutely can not wait to have him back home.

At first I was excited to make an efficient trip to the grocery store without having Caleb push the cart, or to drive to work without listening to the same 3 David Myles songs on repeat, or to sleep in until my alarm goes off. But I can tell you that I can not wait to for him to come home on Sunday, and I especially can't wait  for Monday morning when I hear his little feet running into our bedroom and I help him up into our bed for some early morning cuddles, even if it is an hour or two before my alarm goes off.

Here are some photos of our grown up boy.

Learning a new trick

Aly and Ava came to visit last week

Stretching during his first ever soccer practice