Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ella's Note

Ivy came home from the dentist yesterday to this sympathy note from Ella, apparently written without outside help. Transcription:

"Ella: Ivy
I hope you feel better
I'm sorry that you dentist appointment
I'm assuming that you will make it through
Love Ivy"

She hasn't quite figured out that you're actually signing your own name at the bottom of a letter...but so cute. Good of her to assume that Ivy would survive the visit -- she's got a way with words, that one.

Aside from filling endless sheets of paper with writing and enjoying the occasional forays outside, Ella's also been drawing and painting a lot these past few weeks. A couple of cool samples:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bad Ratio

The other night I took all three kids to the pool by myself. Super dad...or super dumb? It turned out remarkably well, all thanks to Ezra for not demanding anything (not even to get out of his car seat) the entire time.

Update: Super cute Ezra photos added to his last post...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Skate Into 2008

Last weekend I was all gloomy and grouchy, probably because we didn't see anyone or do any fun outside activity (Editor's Note: This is not true -- the gracious Hiebert grandparents watched the entire tribe of kids while we went out to Wild Apple Grill on Friday Night, which was fantastic).

Anyway, this weekend was different. Friday night the Hildebrands joined us for supper and hangin' out. Waffles with pudding for breakfast the next morning, followed by some errands and lunch in Penticton, and then Saturday night most of us went out to Dueck's place for a bonfire and more importantly to try out the new backyard rink Myron and I have been building slowly. Super, super fun and Tracey made us an excellent soup to warm up with later.

On Sunday, we headed out to Vaseux Lake south of Penticton for a lake-skating adventure. It was warm and calm and we discovered a huge, smooth, snow-free section in the middle of the lake. Way too much fun for all of us...well, maybe Ezra wasn't as enamoured, but he was a good sport about it. Then off to Oliver for lunch at the old firehall (Backhand of God on tap!) before returning back to the lake for another round of skating -- Ivy and I couldn't resist, and everyone else waited graciously for our overindulgence. Here are a few quick skating clips, first from Faulder, then Vaseux:

And a few photos (set or slideshow also available):

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Nothing too new to report on Ezra. Oh, except his first tooth came through, and he's spending most of his time sitting now. He was all stoked on rice cereal last week...this week he totally rejected solids of any kind. Tannis felt cheesy about taking this posed photo, but I liked it for pure cuteness.

I know that I overdo the positive reports on the kids in this space, making a six-month-old baby sound like a full-time bundle of joy, but seriously...he's a terrible roommate. Awful. Wakes us up constantly, moans and complains, makes unceasing demands for food (then refuses to eat), requires immediate attention always (which works for 20 seconds, if that) and refuses to go to sleep when he's tired. This all another way of saying that...he's a baby. Probably a pretty normal one, too, but sometimes even dads need to whine and complain.

We often say, "it's a good thing he's cute", and it certainly is true. Of course he has lots of good times too, and has us laughing out loud every day. Here are a few quick video clips, mostly for Grandma Pearl, who's missing this little guy more than most:

Update: And how about a few new photos of the Ez?

Friday, January 25, 2008


Ivy had a cool artistic experience this week. A couple of weeks ago she drew a picture of a nixie from the Spiderwick series and sent it to the amazing illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi. Well, not only did he post her fan art on his blog, he sent her a super-cool package of stuff back in the mail, including a sticker, a personal letter and a hand-drawn sketch of the same nixie on the back. Her eyes were wide like two deep blue pools -- a real artist had thanked her for sending him her work. Talk about inspiring! She immediately went to work on another fantastical creature called a "thicket sprite" from The Care and Feeding of Sprites.

I've also been trying to collect digital copies of our artistic endeavors, and Ivy is by far the most prolific in our clan. This "Gondolope" she drew (and Ella coloured) was inspired by a wonderfully rich book called Uno's Garden -- it really captured her attention in the last couple of weeks.

Update: I just love Ivy's latest: Cinderella Skeleton

Monday, January 14, 2008

Apex Weekend

We had a glorious weekend at Apex Resort, thanks to my friend and co-worker Gwen, who generously offered their amazing "ski cabin" to us a few weeks ago -- it's truly a winter wonderland up there, and having a cozy home base on the mountain was incredible. I took a few photos (slideshow here), but was too busy having fun to play with the camera much.

The girls went snowshoeing and skating a few times -- Ivy even tried cross-country skiing with good success. Tannis and I shared a lift ticket on Sunday, trading kid duties and snowboarding sessions after tasty breakfast in the village. Ezra was happiest outside, and didn't particularly enjoy missing any of the action by sleeping, even at night. My folks came by for some outdoor fun on Saturday and graciously brought us lunch. We went out for supper that night and hooked up with the Hermanns (friends from Penticton) later on at their place -- our girls ran wild with the five little girls already staying there. A quick video of one of our skating sessions through the woods behind the townhouse:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Nowhere Was Safe

Old friend, creative soul and social activist Shawna is in Rwanda right now, working on a documentary project with One Love. The photos and words of her experiences are powerful reminders of how how lucky and sheltered we are here in Canada while Africa suffers. From her blog:
"One Love is a NGO established in 1997 to help the disabled community in Rwanda. The 1994 genocide, and landmines left from civil war, have left the country with an overwhelming number of disabled people. My goal is to tell the story of One Love through photographs and understand better the current situation in Rwanda."

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Ivy and I went for a coffee-shop date before Christmas where we both sat and sketched for an hour, chatting in between and sipping warm drinks. It was a reward for her sticking it out with her skating class when she was finding it frustrating, but I felt equally rewarded -- what fun to draw with a friend, and we both liked what we came up with.

On our Tofino trip we stopped at the Vancouver Art Gallery to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit, and they had a neat participation section at the end, where you could sit and draw some of her common subjects. I was standing there impatiently looking at the clock, trying to hurry the girls along so we could see more of the galleries; then realized that the participation was for me too, so I spent a very happy 15 minutes sketching a cow skull. Made me think that I must make time to do more, just for the process and relaxation of it.

I'm not big on resolutions, but this year over the holidays I've been stewing on creativity, realizing that I need to set some goals if I want to pursue the creative things I enjoy. I know I'm not going to become a full-time artist or musician or writer or photographer right now, but the pursuit itself is important and these things bring me joy. In an attempt at some personal accountability, I'd like to do these things this year:
  • Write and self-publish a book for children with Neil...I know this is a biggie, but it might be the most important
  • Draw once a week, no matter how insignificant or small, and collect the results in one place
  • Play bass at least an hour a week and learn Robin's songs so we can play for people at some point
  • Maybe ease off on the photography a bit, if for no other reason than to free up some time for the pursuits above. It's also a type of creative expression, though, and I wouldn't be able to stop even if I wanted to. Some recent artsier shots: frosty heart, webby moss, Peachland dock, orange VW, forest robot, Trout Creek eagle

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Please forgive some parental gushing for a moment. How could a six-year-old be so very smart, gorgeous and goofy all at once? Ivy keeps throwing curve-balls at us that we didn't think we'd have to deal with until at least junior high -- as scary as that is, it's also wonderful, because she's so engaging and curious and complex. I'm proud of how hard she's worked on the things she found difficult this year, and how I see her becoming a great friend to her buddies and classmates. She seems to be an amazing blend of complementary characteristics: a leader who doesn't bully, a thinker who feels keenly, an artist who analyzes and a social creature who loves her solitude. Who knows what we'll see emerging in this child in 2008?

Eating: Rice and beans with sour cream
Reading: Clarice Bean Spells Trouble, Word Worm Book of Outrageous Fun, Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You
Planning: Halloween costume and birthday party for 2008


Oh, this middle child of ours...she's smart as a whip, but silly and whimsical; game for anything but with a strong stubborn streak. She keeps us guessing and laughing, and keeps her brother company better than any of us. A quick photo tribute from the last while:

Eating: Mac 'n cheese, raw cauliflower with creamy cucumber dressing
Playing: Dominoes
Spelling: (see below)

Lil' Chub

Time for another little update on Ezra Milagro. He's recovering nicely from the crankiness and misery of his trip cold -- we felt like we got our old Ezzie back the last couple of days, with lots of smiles and times where he entertains himself without constant intervention. He loves being entertained by his big sisters, being carried in the "octopus" and getting outside...he's least happy when there's no action around him or when he's not in motion, it seems. Short naps lately, fussy eating, and mostly decent nights. A few recent photos of the little dude:

Eating: breast milk only, wishing for everything else
Diapers: at least 15 cloth per day, plus a few disposables
Sleep: Never enough

Friday, January 04, 2008

Christmas in Winnipeg

Honestly, most people here look at us sympathetically when we tell them we were in Manitoba for the holidays. But I usually try to make the case for the place, coming up with the list of goodness we experienced there, and point out that the weather was mild the entire time. Anyway, enough summary, here's some of that list:

  • Of course the main reason we were going was to see Tannis's family, and see them we did. We hung out with Chad and Crystal's crew a few times and I only wrecked two of their basement's ceiling tiles when I got over-excited with the wii controller. The girls were in their glory playing with their beloved cousins, and Ezra was mostly a good sport considering his miserable cold. Larry and Pearl were ever the gracious hosts, putting up with our total chaos.
  • The first morning we were there, we went over to my grandparents' place for a nice mellow visit. Grandma got to snuggle Ezra and Grandpa taught him how to play the harp. It was great to see them before the kids were all coughing full-time, and I was sorry to not be able to connect with them and the rest of the Stoesz crew later in the week.
  • Not every extended family would benefit from hosting their Christmas gathering at at a hockey rink, but the Friesens pulled it off with style. You don't expect to get a fast, rousing game of five-on-five before the big feast, but it was a highlight seeing the grandpas and the ladies and the middle-agers and the grandkids flying around on the ice and laughing their heads off.
  • On the 27th, we booked into the Fort Garry Hotel for some fun. Larry and Pearl came over and watched the kids (THANK YOU) while Tannis and I went out to the King's Head for a reunion of sorts, hooking up with Angelo and Esther, Chris Eidse, and Trev, along with his hard-partying partner Candy and her dad. Great place, great vibe, great beer, great fun...great people. The Fort Garry was excellent (what a breakfast!), but sadly, our sleep with coughing kids was wretched -- we pronounced it one of the worst ever.
  • We made it to the Forks a couple of times; even got to skate on the nifty ice-trails there, ate a couple of meals, and visited the children's museum with the girls. Pretty impressive scene there overall, and obviously very popular.
  • Greg, Sophie, and Ethan met us for breakfast at the classic Pancake House -- Ezra was a total pain, so we were glad they joined us back at Larry and Pearl's later for some better hanging out. Greg and I hit Charlie O's for a couple of Fort Garry Darks later on that night -- such a gift to be able to catch up with old friends from the other side of the country.
  • One morning I took Ivy and Ella out to the Manitoba Museum and planetarium. The Nonsuch was a highlight, and we spent a few happy hours wandering there. The planetarium was just ok...seems pretty old-school these days.
  • Milt and Carla took us out to Earl's -- an exceptionally good time with old friends for some laughs, great conversation and yummy food. What a treat!
  • I got out skating on a couple of Winnipeg's 67 (!!) outdoor rinks, including a fantastic lung-burning session with Myron and a couple of his friends one afternoon -- so fun.
  • Didn't get to see Jer Plett, who was off to somewhere warm the day after I called him. We messed up the plan to see the Action-Packed Pletts, who are now expecting Kid2 (congrats), and unfortunately didn't connect with the Hiebert clan this time. With so many beloved folks out there and so little time, it was hard not to over-schedule and still be missing people -- sorry to those of you we didn't connect with.
  • Very challenging flights with Ezra, who basically refused to eat or sleep in the plane -- in sharp contrast, the girls happily watched cartoons nearly the entire time we were airborne. My mom and dad delivered our vehicle (which they had freshly washed outside and in) to the airport when we landed, with a pot of soup and bread in the back for our return home -- yes, we're that lucky.
  • Videos of some of these things added below...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Christmas Vids

I took mostly bad photos over Christmas -- almost always indoors with bad light or the flash...and the videos aren't much better, but they do convey some of the feeling of the family around the tree, the kids with their presents, and special moments like Ezra and my grandpa. I also don't mind that I didn't focus on recording every moment over the holidays, either -- it probably means that I was busy experiencing rather than worrying about how it might look later. Anyway, here's a minute-and-a-half of little clips showing some of our Christmas vibe: