Friday, 14 July 2017

Our Summer Son from Spain

Last Tuesday morning, my friend called to ask if I might know somebody who would be interested in being host parents for a boy from Spain. He was arriving later that day. 

She had signed up with two different organizations hosting students expecting to get one from Spain and another from a different country. As it turned out, both groups sent boys from Spain. Since students are here to improve their English, it is against the rules to place two Spanish speaking students in the same house. 

Seven years ago when our son was fourteen, we hosted a boy from Spain through Broadwater Education Centre. It was fun, but challenging coordinating around our son's schedule and our weekend biking at the time. Now that we are empty-nesters with no specific plans for the month, I thought it might be even more fun this time.

I volunteered on the spot, but my friend suggested checking in with my husband first. Luckily he was excited about hosting again too.

Jorge (pronounced Horhay) arrived Tuesday afternoon. I was at work, so my friend picked him up and brought him over when I got home. My friend has been hosting students for the past six years and is very familiar with the process. She had picked up a Canadian-themed insulated lunch bag and water bottle, perfect for their daily packed lunches. 

She went over house rules and expectations then explained how to use the buses referencing a bus route map she had brought. She even offered to take Jorge on the bus to and from school the next day which helped immensely as I have never used the buses in London.

We got together again on Thursday night to take our 'boys' - Gonzalo (Gonthalo) and Jorge (Horhay) to Sunfest at Victoria Park. We parked at Galleria Mall to show them the library and movie theatre then walked to Victoria Park pointing out points of interest and bus stops along the way. 

Here we are posing by the flower garden at Victoria Park before leaving the boys with their friends to explore. They took a bus home later.
The students have a full itinerary Monday to Friday every week. They attend English classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., lunch from 1-2 p.m. then activities with computer/internet and a teacher available for extra help until 4 p.m. except when special group activities are planned. After school, they are free to hang out with their friends and are expected to take the bus home unless a ride is arranged with their host parents.

Weekends are free to enjoy time with family or friends. There are no firm expectations, but it is nice to fit in a bit of time for both. We hope to show Jorge some of the local attractions not covered on the school itinerary, leaving plenty of time for him to hang out with his friends.

Day excursions are scheduled each week usually on Fridays. Students are dropped off at school at 7:30 a.m. and return at 8 p.m. We have arranged car pooling with another host parent in the neighbourhood. She is retired, so does morning drop offs while we cover evening pick ups.

Toronto was their first full day trip last Friday. They visited the CN Tower and the Eaton Centre

Jorge was impressed with the view from the CN Tower. He especially liked standing on the glass floor with a view 342 m (1,122 ft) straight down.
Jorge shared this photo showing him crossing a street in downtown Toronto copying the famous Beetles Abbey Road album cover ... nailed it.
As luck would have it, a storm blew through London knocking down power lines near our home Friday night. Our electricity was out from 6 to 11 p.m. We had planned to watch a movie with Jorge. Instead we sat outside watching fireflies and chatting. We loved the peace and quiet with no noise from air conditioners or pool pumps. 

After a busy first week, we slept in Saturday morning. I made a special breakfast consisting of pancakes, fresh berries, maple syrup and bacon. It was a welcome change from our regular weekday oatmeal and fruit bowl.
After breakfast, my husband and Jorge headed off to Costco to shop while I cleaned up and walked the dog. There is no Costco where Jorge lives in Spain, so we thought he might find it interesting. 

We planned to take Jorge to Grand Bend and Bayfield ... two popular nearby destinations on Lake Huron. I made reservations at The Black Dog in Bayfield and sent a message to my sister-in-law. We were also hoping to stop by their cottage located between Grand Bend and Bayfield to watch the sunset after dinner. We set off shortly after noon.

It was busy in Grand Bend, but we managed to find parking and enjoy a soft ice cream treat on our way to the beach.
We checked out the view from the top of the Grand Bend Beach House and Pavilion before walking the length of the beach in both directions. It was windy and cool by the water, but Jorge assured us the lake is not as cold as the ocean near his home in Oviedo, Spain.
 
We paused for a photo by this boat at the beach parking lot entrance.
Another photo was taken at this designated 'selfie' stop on Main Street.
And one more photo at the Grand Bend Main Street Arch.
After touring Grand Bend, we got back in the car and headed North to the Village of Bayfield where we strolled along Main Street checking out all the little boutiques and art galleries before heading to the Black Dog Village Pub and Bistro for dinner. It had been a long time since breakfast and we were hungry. First, we shared a yummy appetizer (chorizo and shrimp) then Jorge and I thoroughly enjoyed our veg curry bowls while my husband raved about his pork cheeks ... a new favourite.
After dinner, we visited a few more shops. Jorge had never tasted fudge, so we bought some (maple, chocolate and Reese's Pieces) to take to the cottage. We also paused for a photo with Captain Harry, a wood carving of a sailor watching over Main Street in Bayfield.
Next up - Lasting Memories Cottage. My husband's brother and his wife bought it last summer and love spending time there. It is located midway between Grand Bend and Bayfield with gorgeous views overlooking Lake Huron. If you're looking for a great place to stay, they do rent it out. You can check availability on their website here.

My sister-in-law has a 13-year old girl (daughter of a friend from Italy) visiting for the month of July. Jorge enjoyed playing frisbee and hanging out with both Julia (pronounced Yulia) and Solomon (the neighbour's 14-year old son).
The kids loved tasting fudge for the first time. Fudge and maple syrup are not commonly available in either Spain or Italy.
We headed down to the beach to watch the sun set. The kids entertained themselves with skipping stones.

The sunset did not disappoint. It was gorgeous as always. 

Meanwhile my husband's brother had lit a fire. After enjoying the sunset on the beach, we headed up top to make S'mores ... a popular fireside treat in Canada.
S'mores are messy, but you can't have just one. They taste so good you'll be tempted to eat s'more.

This Friday they are visiting Niagara Falls where they will be taking a Maid of the Mist Boat trip to the Falls. Next Friday, they are off to the Pinery for fun activities like biking, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Their last trip is to Canada's Wonderland. Jorge is very excited about that one.

Other activities listed on their itinerary include: swimming and beach volleyball at Port Stanley, Spikes indoor beach volleyball, swimming at St. Mary's Quarry, East Park for water slides, mini golf and Intensity Sports and Lazer Quest.

Jorge seems to be enjoying his time at school with his friends and with us.

Our plans for July changed last Tuesday when Our Summer Son from Spain arrived. Our summer suddenly seems a lot more fun and interesting. We are thoroughly enjoying Jorge's company. I can hardly believe he has been here almost two weeks already. Time flies when you're having fun.

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Our Son is 21

Our son is 21 ... his birthday was on Sunday (July 2nd). Our favourite way to celebrate birthdays is with family. The weather has been unsettled and rainy a lot lately, but Sunday was perfect for dining outside. 
We gathered around our new patio table for a simple yet yummy birthday dinner: barbecued PC slow-smoked brisket beef burgers (topping choices bacon, cheese, tomato, onion, mustard), two kinds of salad and cake.
The cake was delicious. Unfortunately, we chose carrot cake which is one of our favourites, but not one our son likes ... oops. Once we realized our mistake, we picked up a small chocolate and caramel brownie cake (recommended by his girl friend) as a special treat just for him. 
As our son blew out his candles (with help from the wind) and cut the cake, we took photos and sang the birthday song. 

Happy Birthday and Cheers for a fabulous year.

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Monday, 19 June 2017

Teddy Turtle

I started working on another Daisy Doll over two weeks ago. I planned to add pink petals. Daisy Doll was almost done before I realized this doll could not be a Daisy Doll. This doll was destined to be different. 

This doll sat unfinished for a couple days until its true identity finally came to me. I set to work making the necessary alterations to create a totally new crochet critter.

Allow me to introduce Teddy Turtle. Isn't he adorable?

Teddy Turtle was happy to show off his shell from every angle as he twirled and posed for the camera... such a handsome little fellow.
Teddy Turtle was excited to join the rest of the gang in the basket. 
To make Teddy Turtle, I followed my Sunflower Doll pattern, but instead of adding hood trim and petals, I made a turtle shell for his back. I love how such a simple change makes a completely different crochet critter.

For Teddy Turtle's shell, I followed this free pattern by blogger Sharon Ojala at Amigurumi to Go just increasing the size to fit Teddy. 

What should I make next ... possibly another lamb or perhaps a bear? Whatever I decide, I'll be sure to share when I finish.

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Biddulph '77 Grade 8 Grads Reunion

It has been 40 years since we graduated from Biddulph Public School near Lucan. Three years ago, we attended a reunion at Teresa and Jeff's place. If you missed it, I wrote all about that event here.  Everybody had such a good time, it was decided we should try to get together every couple of years. Tentative plans were made for a gathering in 2016, but then it was decided to wait until 2017 to make it a 40th Anniversary celebration. 

Rob and Sandi offered to host, word went out to mark our calendars and hold the date. It was planned for June 10th, 2017 starting around 3 p.m. 

The 40th Anniversary of Biddulph '77 Grade 8 Grads Reunion took place this past Saturday. With a flurry of last minute cancellations, our class photo was smaller ... almost half the number from three years ago. We would have enjoyed seeing all those who could not make it, but were happy to see everybody who did. 

The party was a success. Like last time, we thoroughly enjoyed a good time spent with old friends. The venue, food and, most of all, the camaraderie were truly outstanding. A huge thanks to Sandi and Rob for hosting and to Ferlin for helping organize and sharing his fabulous photos.
Back: Mrs. Garrett (teacher gr 1), Joanne, Laura, Beth, Kathy, Ethel-Lori, Heather, Diane, Barbara, Sherry
Front: Rob (host), Gord, Tracy, Ferlin
We were so busy socializing, we didn't think to stop for photos until after dinner. Eric and his wife Annette left shortly after eating to babysit their adorable granddaughter, so missed the photo shoot (sorry Eric). 

Mrs. Garrett taught grade one at Biddulph all those years ago. We thought she should stand at the end "where teachers stand" ... perfect.
Diane and her Mom share a laugh with Kathy
I moved to Lucan and started at Biddulph in grade 5, so never had Mrs. Garrett as a teacher. I enjoyed chatting about her upcoming travel plans to Iceland... such a nice lady. I imagine she was a fun teacher too.
Diane and her Mom (gr 1 teacher from Biddulph)
When I moved to Lucan in 1973, I made friends with the neighbourhood kids ... so many happy memories from those years.
Part of Langford Drive 'gang' - Laura, Ethel, Ferlin, Beth
My husband lived in Ilderton and did not go to Biddulph, but we both went to the same high school. Fun Fact - Although we went to the same high school, we're not "High School Sweethearts" because we did not know each other or spend time together until he asked me out on the very last day of classes in grade 13. Timing really is everything.
Beth and Lee
Laura was one of my best friends through grade school and high school. We share many happy memories together. Fun fact - Laura went back to school and became a teacher eleven years ago. She loves teaching.
Brad and Laura
Thanks again to Sandi and Rob for hosting. They have a lovely home and perfect backyard for parties. 

Fun Fact - You can see Ferlin and Julie's house from Rob and Sandi's back yard. They were pleasantly surprised to discover they were moving on the same day into the same neighbourhood quite a few years ago now. 
Sandi (host), Julie (Ferlin's wife) and Ethel
Tracy and I both started at Biddulph in grade 5. I have always loved her laugh and bubbly personality ... so much fun. 

Fun Fact - When we were in school, Tracy and her family lived on the same property where the Black Donnellys lived and tragically died.
Cheers Tracy!
Getting a shot of us 'girls'
Us 'girls' - Laura, Joanne, Tracy, Beth
As it got dark and started to cool down (just slightly), a fire was lit adding to the backyard party ambiance... ahhh a perfectly wonderful evening. 
My husband likes to enjoy a Cuban cigar once in a while. In all these years, I have never tried one ... not even a puff. 

I sent this photo to my kids. My son said "Congrats on the cigar". My daughter said "Why?" My answer - "Because I'd never done it and to see what it was like of course.Thanks Ferlin for capturing this little bit of 'wild-and-crazy-for-me" moment.

* * * * *
To respect the privacy of my friends, I have used first names only. Biddulph '77 Grads are welcome to share this post and these photos with family and friends.

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Road Trip Champions

Our son and his girlfriend drove from Guelph to Boulder (2,400 km) all in one go. They drove through the night arriving in time for a late dinner less than 24 hours later. They sent us this picture at the end of their road trip yesterday ... still smiling. They are truly Road Trip Champions.
Having done this drive twice ourselves with stops to sleep, we were impressed with their stamina. They left Guelph after our son's class getting to London by 11 p.m. By the time they switched vehicles, loaded their route in the Garmin and were ready to go, it was 11:30 p.m. They planned to drive through the night only resting if absolutely necessary. They promised to send us updates through G+ group chat when they stopped. As we waved goodbye, I tried not to worry. 

We got this message just before lunch "Still alive ... Somewhere in Northern California ... See you tomorrow". Our son likes to tease. As my husband reasoned, all must be well if he is joking. 

Four hours later, we got this message "I slept for an hour while Jules drove then I took over again. Were almost at Riverside now, whats your address?" Still joking, but obviously "still alive". 

My response "stop that - where are you really - must be past Lincoln by now. how's the traffic? course like your dad said - you must be doing fine if you're making jokes". 

His response "Lexington. No traffic, we chose a good time to go. Michigan was f**ked up in so many ways, cant imagine doing it in traffic."

They arrived at 9 p.m. (7 p.m. Boulder time) and sent this message "Were on your porch and I'm gonna pee on your chickens". Ha, ha - nobody was home as they had gone out for dinner and to get pizza for their guests.

My reply "Yay you made it ... stellar time. u2 are just a bit crazy and probably A LOT tired."

My husband added "world record".

Then I wrote "Have fun and get some rest you crazy kids."

Our daughter arrived home a few minutes later and sent a photo along with this message "They also found two baby deer and a mama deer in our front yard. We haven't seen tiny babies before." 
Our granddaughter was happy to introduce her chickens to her Uncle. 

It looks like they will have a fabulous week in Boulder hanging out and visiting local attractions. I hope to hear all about it when they get back.


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Friday, 2 June 2017

Lucky Lamb

I have made another lamb aptly named Lucky. "Lucky" that I was able to find and combine an assortment of chunky yarns from my stash to make him look adorable. Lucky Lamb loved posing for these photos.

Luckily I was able to make his face, ears, arms and legs from the same yarn, but if you look closely, you can see three different yarns were used for his head and body. It's a mish-mash that works.
My first Little Lamb was made using the yarn on the left in the photo above. Lucky Lamb was made using chunky wool like the yarn on the right. I followed the same pattern for both lambs but added a few more rows to the arms and legs to make Lucky look more balanced.
Lucky Lamb and Little Lamb enjoyed spending time in our garden before heading inside to hang with the gang in the big white basket. Lucky really is quite a big little lamb. He towers over the Little Lamb for Liam.
If you would like to make a Little Lamb too, you can find the free pattern here. This pattern is so cute, I might have to crochet a whole flock. 

In the meantime, I continue to crochet using yarn from my stash. I am currently working on another Daisy Doll. My last one went to live with a baby girl named Isabel Anne. I think I'll add pink petals this time. As always, I will be sure to share photos once I finish. 


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