Friday, January 2, 2009

Summarizing our Christmas break 2008

We'll be remembering this Christmas in years to come as the one where we had two house guests. One of these guests (you'll see him a little later) was much more welcome than the other (pictured above). Yes, that is a RAT--a pet rat. I don't get it, but nobody asked me, I guess. I'm just glad that my kids didn't see the need to carry him around the house on their shoulders as the owner does. He stayed (for the most part) locked securely in his cage.

The other guest was our friend, Maxym. He's a foster child in the care of a friend of ours. She was planning to spend the holidays with her family, and since there are no kids in her extended family, we asked if we could have him here with us. (I don't have a lot of pictures of him because he liked to hide every time he saw my camera). It was a special time for us as a family to have him here. It was also a brain strain (for me, at least) because he insisted that we speak French all week. Whenever I needed to speak passionately to my own kids (if you know what I mean) I really needed to do that in English, and invariably when I was finished he would say, "French please!" Joel who speaks no French at all except biscuits (cookies) and chocolat would just grab Max by his hand and rattle off some long instruction or commentary. One day Joel said with a very puzzled look, "Every time I talk to Maxym he says, 'Qu'est-ce il dit?' (What did he say?)."
There were romps in the snow, hockey games, board games, laughter, arguments, injuries, anticipation, misunderstandings, negotiations, broken glasses, ice skating, sore feet, and lots of eating (wow, four hungry boys can eat a LOT and OFTEN).
This was also the Christmas of handmade gifts. Sam made this guitar (complete with a cardboard amp) for Joel. He was in heaven and spent a lot of Christmas Day "plugging" it in, playing it, and otherwise admiring it. It was most definitely the most popular gift of the day.
There were other great gifts made and given with love. Coupons for services, a book of poetry, pillow speakers, a love letter, a pea shooter, and a lapdesk. And there was this very cool "upside down" book shelf.

And there were hockey cards (purchased, of course). Here's Max pictured with Sam.

Mark bought Canandiens hats for the 3 big boys, and they LOVED them.
They played Risk (also a new gift) for a good part of Christmas Day.
We invited our friend, Edgar to spend the day with us too. He arrived from Columbia last year and has no family here. We introduced him to cranberry sauce and green bean casserole (Mark found french fried onions for me).
One afternoon after Christmas, I put some chili on to simmer and made the boys get bundled up take a walk with me. They were none too thrilled with the idea of walking down to the river. They laid down like this just minutes from our house and said they were on strike.
But when we got there, wild horses couldn't drag them away. They threw chunks of ice into the river, found giant icicles that they used for swords, and slid on the vast patches of ice.

It was the hunger and cold, I think, won out in the end. And we headed home.
On the 28th we were invited to some dear friends' chalet on a beautiful lake. We spent a wonderful afternoon eating and chatting. The boys watched a movie (among other things). Notice Max. I told you he likes to hide from the camera.
This is what we saw as we left that evening.

One day we all went swimming in the afternoon, then after supper we headed to the outdoor rinks at a public park to skate for awhile. I guess that wasn't enough exercise for us because after after a little snack at Tim Horton's the boys suggested we walk home. I'm always happy to oblige when kids want to be active, so I volunteered to walk home with the 3 bigger boys while Mark took Joel home for a bath and then to bed. It took us 50 minutes. It's not really a 50- minute walk (maybe more like a 1/2 hour one) but every mound of snow needed to be climbed, every block of ice picked up and thrown, and as the boys had just had donut holes and an iced cappuccino, there were a lot of silliness to be laughed at which lengthened our stroll by quite a lot. Can you believe that one of the boys actually asked me for a snack when we got home at almost 10:00? I did not concede.
And then we carved out time for our annual breakfast to Pacinis where you grill your own toast. I think we ate more than our share of bread that day.
Jack at Pacini's sporting his very cool injury. He fell on the ice and cut his face. The fact that we were NOT ice skating when it happened does not matter.
Joel enjoyed his breakfast with his 3D glasses (from when we saw Bolt or Volt, as it is in French)
And then on the 30th, Max went to spend some time with his uncle and cousins. It was hard for all of us to see him go.

Here the boys are "working" on editing a little home movie for our families far away.
We spent a quiet night at home on New Year's Eve. Sam, Mark and I stayed up until about 12:05 to ring in the new year. We were so tired by 12:00 that we congratulated each other for having "made it" and drug ourselves up to bed. We had a little "schedule" to follow to help us organize our party. After Jack and Joel were in bed, we watched a Real Life Mystery on TV. After that we played Yahtzee and Zilch for about 1/2 an hour. Then we drank coffee and talked together. At 11:00 we each had private reading/thinking time and we wrote down our personal goals that we wanted to accomplish this year. At 11:30 we went down to turn on ABC or NBC or one of those main channels to watch the silly conversation and even dumber entertainment. We should have scheduled that for 11:55 and saved ourselves some pain.

New Year's Day we went over to friends' for supper. We were a very international group comprised of 8 French, 2 Quebecois, 1 English, and 5 Americans. And it was a special evening of good food and conversation and friendship.
The 6 kids had long ago left the table
Our dear friend, Armelle, with our new friend, Julien!
And now we are ready to settle in for a nice long winter's nap! Wake me up about half past May!!