Happy Birthday To Me!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

There was quite a ramp-up to my birthday this year. Shortly after Christmas, Mr. A. decided that I needed to have a birthday party. He also decided to plan it - all by himself.

The actual party was to be modelled after a birthday party which we had recently attended. My niece turned 2 and the theme for the adults in attendance was 'pizza and beer'. (The kids who were there didn't notice as they were distracted by the fancy Dora cake and the Toys R Us explosion that they call their 'living room'.)

I found it all quite amusing. In the month leading up to my big day, Mr. A. took every opportunity to sneak in a secret whisper about some aspect of my birthday whenever my back was slightly turned. He dropped hints and made me guess and even roped the kids into his shenanigans over the gift I was to receive.

He took a half day off work while the kids were at a drama workshop the day before my birthday. We spent that afternoon going all over town picking up food and drink and party things. Not only was there going to be pizza and beer at my party - we were going to surprise everyone with a loot bag.

The morning of my birthday, I had been instructed to stay in bed. So I did. In my mind I was thinking that perhaps coffee would be delivered. That would be a nice birthday wake up. Not so. I needed to stay in bed so that I could be invited down to the living room once 'things were ready'.

Things were ready at the bright hour of 7:30, thanks to the dogs and much to the distress of The Girl Child. Mr. A. had prepared a treasure hunt for my birthday. There were rhyming clues - wrapped in birthday paper - and I had to go about the house searching for the next one until finally I found the 'treasure' in the potato bin.

My family had worked extra hard to drop hints in such a way that I was to think, perhaps, that I might have a lovely new Kobo to call my very own on my birthday. Sure enough, I unwrapped my treasure to find a nice white box with a picture of a Kobo and all the other appropriate labelling on board. Imagine my surprise when I uncovered a fancy iPad under all the packaging!

So much excitement and all before 8 in the morning...on a still-dark, pajama clad Saturday morning. I know, you're welcome for the photos!

Later on, when it was dark again (love me these Canadian winters...) my extended family arrived for pizza and beer and celebrating. There were even balloons and streamers. I tell you, Mr. A. pulled out all the stops for my party. He even managed to get 37 candles on a cake.

Missing from the celebrations were my two brothers who considered an overnight in Algonquin Park courting moose and barely-hibernating bears a priority. That's ok. They're jealous because they didn't get a loot bag.

So that's the short and sweet story of my birthday last weekend. There were some other lovely gifts and cards that really made my day. I don't usually enjoy this time of year as it's always so weary and dreary and dirty and gritty and cold and icy and everyone's so tired of winter and cooped up and miserable. This year was surprisingly refreshing. Not only due to the very strange, seasonaly surprising, mild winter weather we've been having but because of so much silliness and carrying-on as my birthday approached. Mr. A did a super good job keeping everything light and fun and stress-free. And surprisingly, I didn't really mind all the extra attention after all was said and done.

Here's to another trip around the Sun,

Mrs. A.


Free Prime Ministers of Canada Unit Study

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Every now and then I come across something to order on a federal or provincial government website. Honestly, I don't specifically go cruising their websites. But sometimes I'll come across the mention of a resource or someone who says they found a useful tidbit...for FREE! It's the 'for FREE' part that most people get worked up about.

This time I found a Canadian Prime Ministers package. A coil bound volume contains a complete unit study with handouts and activities designed for high school student to 'explore the role, responsibilities and lives of Canadian prime ministers'. A CD ROM of 'archival documents' is included. I expect this is where the handouts are hiding, too.

A folder in the back of the book contains a poster and a 3-page biographical pamphlet for each of Canada's 22 prime minsters. It's a very current resource with the current idiot prime minister in office included.

Before we get into this unit, I'm going to take it to book club. A funny thing to do, perhaps. One of the ladies who comes has a wonderful knack for picking out bias and it's something I'm dismal at. So I love putting things in front of her and then, after a bit of discussion, understanding how the author is trying to brainwash me. Not that the Canadian government is awfully biased, but there is a marked conservative bent to everything.

I like finding resources that are aimed at older students. Our local  area is having a surge of new homeschoolers with younger children, so that is where the conversation has been lately. This resource will be interesting to get into on a couple of different levels. It may count toward The Girl Child's 9th grade history credit or I will save it for the 10th grade civics credit. The kids are so excited. (sarcasm)

In case anyone pops by and in interested in which government website I ordered this from, it's published by the Library and Archives of Canada (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/). However, I can't find a link to the material there. It's at the Government of Canada Publications website here. Check it out. Order something. Your kids will be reaaallllyy impressed (also sarcasm).

Mrs. A.


Of Sheep & Swords

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rams & Yowes by Kate Davis
Look what's arrived! I'm very excited about this 'gift' my husband bought me.

You see, no sooner had I hit 'publish' after deciding to knit from stash this entire calendar year then I found Rams & Yowes. I thought the Universe was being incredibly unfair testing my resolve so soon. Seriously seconds after I made the deal with myself, bragged to Mr. A about how my knitting wasn't going to cost him a cent this year and blogged about it, Rams & Yowes was prominently displayed on Ravelry's Top 10 Patterns page. To add insult to injury, we've recently painted our main living area - where I usually spend most of my 18 waking hours - a lovely grey colour. It's called White Rabbit and there's a darker wall of Urban Grey. I've not let anyone hang anything on the walls or buy any household accessory unless it meets the strict decorating standards I've set. And guess what?! Rams & Yowes qualifies!!

Mr. A, being the upstanding kinda guy that he is, jumped in and spent his own money on the pattern. We printed it. We spent a Saturday morning in the basement filling printer colour cartridges with toner. We printed the pattern again. It was my bedtime reading for a couple of days. The fact that Rams & Yowes is a small lapblanket (3'x3'), contains stranded colourwork, a giant steek (in which you take a pair of scissors to your lovely knitting and cut the finished product straight up the middle) and a border in which you have to pick up close to 1000 stitches on one needle (most knitters have trouble counting to 8) I'm still going to do it.

Shortly after I was stalking the yarn the pattern called for at a lovely Scottish shop where they work very hard to preserve the traditional yarn making process. The pattern is written to be knit with Shetland yarn from sheep that run about on the very islands they were named after. It is undyed yarn gathered from sheep that are various shades of brown, grey, black and white. In fact, they come in 9 various shades. All of which appear in the blanket. For a short time, I considered picking out some KnitPicks.com yarn so that I could tweak the colour scheme to include a purplish tone that would match the warm tones of the hardwood floor and the leather couches.  Mr. A said that was a stupid idea. The pattern should obviously be knit with the yarn that it called for especially since the Shetland yarn was in the same ballpark price-range of the KnitPicks yarn (about a $16CDN difference). So I was enlisted to load up an online shopping cart at Jamieson & Smith or risk Mr. A doing it himself. And 11 days later, a lovely squishy package arrived for me. I'm calling it an early birthday present.

I'm a little scared to start knitting it as I'm woefully inexperienced with stranded colourwork. So my February stash-busting project is a pair of stranded colourwork mittens I started last November. That knitting should give me enough practice to be up to the job of the blanket. In the meantime, my Shetland yarn sits in its basket at the end of my bed. Well away from the Skittish White Dog who, apparently, would like to eat Shetland Sheep. Or at least snuffle them to death.

In other, more exciting news, The Girl Child has been up to something new since September. On Saturday, she had the opportunity to attend her first tournament. Three local girls who are all learning the same sword (sabre, in particular, which is one of 3 swords that are used in fencing) went to this tournament. The group of 19 competitors were women aged 12 to 34. Many were university students and just my Girl Child and another of the local girls we travelled up with were rookies. The 3rd girl of our group has been fencing for 4 years. She placed  5th in the Under17 group and 3rd in the Under15. Not that she mentioned it, I had to look up the results this morning!

It was a day of ups and downs for The Girl Child. In her own words, she placed 'dead last'. But I keep reminding her that she didn't go to win. It's all her coach had been telling her for weeks. I think she's proud of herself. At least she's saying that she's happy she went. As she's not wanted to be involved in group sports before, this is really huge for her. To be willing to put herself out there to be scored and evaluated is quite a big deal for her perfectionist, self-conscience tendencies. I'm looking forward to her continuing to develop as a fencer as I think it will really help to boost her confidence and self image much better than anything I could say.

Onward to a new week! Up this week is schoolwork and more schoolwork. There's fencing and art class for The Girl and soccer and hockey for The Boy. Both have a drama clinc all day Friday - they're preforming in a homeschoolers' production of A Midsummer's Night Dream in May - and then we'll wrap up the week with a birthday party for me on Saturday.

Mrs. A.


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