Christmas is for Children

….of all ages

I was actually organized for the first time in my life and ready for Christmas Eve. Normally I’m still wrapping gifts as the family starts to arrive but this year I finished all my wrapping the night before and I got all my deliveries of baked goods to the neighbours done earlier in the day.

Our granddaughter came early with her Mom and she was clearly excited. We kept her busy with stories and watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Papa gave her an apron and chef’s hat so that she could help us set up the table with Christmas goodies.

Later in the day she helped her Mom wrap some last minute gifts that her Papa needed help with and brought them downstairs and set them under the tree.1BFC492D-8642-4A7C-8A41-D6387E922B20

When all the family arrived we opened our stockings and Winnie helped hand out the presents. It was a wonderful evening and as always we had way too much food. We’ll be bringing some over to our daughter’s place tomorrow when we celebrate her birthday. Her twin brother is in London, England so hopefully we’ll hear from him like we did on Christmas Eve, unless the second grandchild decides to come early.


Taking silly selfies with Auntie JoJo.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas or holiday celebration with family and friends this season. Wishing everyone all the best in 2020.


Making Journals with Kids

….I’ve always wanted to try this technique of making an art journal from one sheet of watercolour paper

As many of you know I run a book club at my school that runs for about 5 months. The books that we read all come from the Forest of Reading program which feature Canadian authors. There are different books for different levels of readers. Each program is named after a tree. For example, the primary English picture books are called Blue Spruce and the books for the junior grades are named Silver Birch.

I usually start with over 100 readers from grades 3 to 5. Each student is given a passport and each time they finish reading a book they fill in the passport with a summary of the book. They then go to the expert reader (a teacher or grade 5 student) and are questioned about that particular book. Each time they answer the questions successfully they receive a credit or two, depending on the length and difficulty of the book. This year they were given the goal of obtaining a minimum of 12 credits in order to participate in the year end celebration.

It is a very doable goal, but some students became frustrated when the book they wanted to read had been checked out. There were 120 copies of the English books and 60 copies of the French books. In the end 34 students reached the goal and one student managed to read every single book. There were exactly 50 titles to choose from. This was a record for the book club.

For our celebration we organized two activities for the students. The first activity was a drama workshop that featured one of the Silver Birch books. It was run by our dynamic drama teacher.

After that we were fortunate enough to book an author who had written one of this years non-fiction entries. Caroline Fernandez wrote Boredom Busters and talked to the children about the steps one has to go through to publish a book. The fact that amazed all of us was that for an $18.00 book the author received only 87 cents. Her presentation was very interesting and she loved the the fact that some of the students in the room had made some of the crafts from her book. 9781782491057_z

At lunch we invited the expert readers to come and join us for lunch. We ordered pizza and had juice and popsicles.

After lunch I taught the students how to make an art journal using one sheet of watercolour paper. The trickiest part was folding the paper so two of my colleagues who helped me with organizing the day pre-folded the paper. We only made the first two folds because the size of the paper was a little too large for small hands to manage but the students made the remaining folds. Then the paper was cut in three places and the folding began.

Each student was given two pieces of cardboard that they could decorate any way they wanted. I provided them with scrapbook paper, stickers, stamps, collage papers, letters, and markers and pencils. Once the covers were decorated the end papers of the folded journal were glued to the covers. Each student was also given one or two colourful elastics to hold their journals shut.

The students had a wonderful time making their personal journals and some of them started to draw and paint in them as soon as they were finished. Here are a few of the finished projects. If you would like to try making one of these journals watch the video following the picture gallery.

Here is video for making the journals:

Making a simple journal


Share Your World 2015 – Week 21

…..Cee has changed up the format for this week’s post

Instead of four questions, Cee has asked us to choose topics and list at least four items for each topic. Here are my choices:

Favorite Songs

Favorite flowers or plants: Gerbera Daisy, Sunflowers, Tulips, Gladiolas,IMG_4823 IMG_4791

Favorites types of tea
Favorite types of animals: dogs, elephants, snow leopards, zebras



List of favorite blogs
Stuff that makes you laugh: silly jokes, funny movies, my husband, absurd answers that kids write on testsIMG_4099_2
Movies to cheer you up
Favorite actors/actresses
Good restaurants to eat at
Best desserts:  anything with fruit and whipped cream, creme brule, real Black Forest cake, ice-cream

My broken birthday cake. It didn't travel well on my husband's bike.

My broken birthday cake. It didn’t travel well on my husband’s bike.

Games to play with friends
Fun things for a rainy day: playing board games, reading, painting, talking on the telephone, baking, P1030381
Books I want to read
Things I want to have in my home (paintings, hot tubs, book cases, big screen tv etc)
Places worth shopping
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful that I was able to organize the activities for Monday’s Forest of Reading Celebration. On the weekend I made my samples for the hand made journals, shopped for the gift bags and purchased some books for the students that had done an outstanding job with our reading challenge. I’m thankful for all the help from two of my colleagues, M and B who stayed late on Friday and helped me set up the supplies for the workshop. A special thanks to R for running the drama workshop and my boss, M for purchasing the pizza lunch for all our reading experts and the 40 students who qualified for our special day.

One final thanks goes to the parents and the school council for making this program possible with their generous contribution. Without their financial support we wouldn’t have been able to purchase the books for the program and hire the author who came to speak to the boys and girls on Monday.

This week I’m looking forward to our Jump Rope for Heart activity on Friday and to the Fun Fair on Saturday. This year the goal was to sell at least 400 wristbands before this Saturday. If that happened I agreed to go into the dunk tank. The children have been taunting me for weeks that I was going down into the tank but I replied that unless they sold those wristbands that wasn’t going to happen. Today they met the goal. My principal is over the moon that it’s going to be me this year and not her going into the tank. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted as to how I survive the ordeal.

I leave you with a few images from last week. On Saturday my husband and I took a trip to the Junction to check out the first day of the weekly Farmers’ Market. I looked up and photographed some of the interesting facades of the older buildings in the neighbourhood and we checked out a few interesting stores and of course stopped for coffee.

Dinner With Life Long Friends

…..not my oldest friends but friends for the rest of my life

Many years ago, a group of us worked together at the same school. After eight years, one by one, members of our group started to venture out and took positions at other schools. Our friendship, however, was so special that we never let separation from the work place interfere with our special bond. Eventually all of us left the school where we first met each other. We decided that we needed to get together on a regular basis so for the last 17 years we’ve come together for dinner several times a year. We’ve also made trips to Bala for the Cranberry festival, attended gala fundraising dinners and gone to concerts.

One of our favourite evenings happens just before Christmas when our good friend L hosts our special Christmas dinner where she does all the cooking. Such a lovely treat. Our friend K, also celebrates her birthday at the same time so we have two reasons to get together.

L and her mom spend days setting the table, decorating the living room and prepping the food for this special dinner.P1030903 P1030919 P1030917 P1030913 P1030911 P1030910 P1030909 P1030906 L does most of the cooking but her mom makes the desserts, usually a traditional English trifle made completely from scratch. Everything is fresh and beautifully made and healthy.

Dinner consisted of grilled tomatoes, roasted beets, green beans, steamed spinach, and roasted chicken. Colourful and delicious!

P1030899 P1030900 P1030904 P1030920   Of course the best part of dinner was spending time with good friends and getting caught up on the news in everyone’s life. Our friend C was given a cute fascinator from the the One of a Kind Show that she showed off at dinner and L insisted that we wear the paper hats from our Christmas crackers. P1030927P1030924 P1030930 P1030931 P1030932

Before the evening ended we arranged to meet again in a week for dessert at C’s place so that we could see her new renovation. The parties never seem to end.


Surprises – Part 2

….. the best was yet to come

Walking into the restaurant amid cheers and clapping and flashing cameras.

As we were driving to the restaurant I knew that K had planned something; I just wasn’t sure of the size and magnitude of the event. I didn’t want to think about it for fear of being disappointed.

I wasn’t disappointed. As we approached the restaurant I could see some of my best friends sitting by the front window. When we walked in the welcome I received was heart warming and I had a hard time containing my emotions. Everyone asked me if I was surprised. I was on two counts.

First I was surprised that K and my girls had pulled it off and secondly I was surprised and delighted by the diversity of the people in attendance. My immediate family was there and my best friends, our oldest friends from Calgary, my sister from Chatham and her family, some of my colleagues/friends from work and some of my neighbours.

K socializing with the guests.

The chef, Amato and the owner, Tony came to greet us and dinner started. It was like an Italian wedding. The menu looked something like this:

Carol’s Special Birthday Dinner



Pasta – Rigatoni with a red sauce

Tortelini with a white sauce


Chicken with a Citrus glaze

Veal with Mushrooms

Rapini, Yellow Squash, Red Peppers

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Chef Amato welcoming me to my party.

As you can see from the menu, there was a lot of food. K asked them to cut back on the portion sizes but that fell on deaf ears. I had to leave food on my plate. It was delicious but too much.

Both K and I walked around in between courses to talk to all the guests. Everyone seemed to have a good time.







































And just when you thought there couldn’t be any more food, they brought out the dessert. It was the biggest tiramisu I’ve ever seen and it was aglow with candles.

Thank goodness your 60th birthday happens only once in your lifetime. All the leftover food went straight to school the next day to be shared by the staff. I’m back on track with my eating and thank goodness I only put on 1 pound. I’ll be down again by the end of the weekend.