Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Life's a Beach

Saturday we went for a little jaunt down to Lily Point. Both my Dad and Eric's Mom happened to stop by our place at the same time, so we agreed to meet at the new parking lot for the Lily Point paths for a walk.

Lukey got really into whacking the old barnacles off rocks...with other rocks.

Finny was really into some Zen rock stacking. Until they didn't stack just right and then it was distinctly un-Zen.

Lukey broke a rock in two. This was very exciting.

Finny found an agate., she was...okay, she was sniffing the rocks. She LOVES nature.

We went a little off-road and discovered the old water barrel for the cannery that used to be on-site. This is Eric inside of it.

You have to really bushwhack to get to the barrel. It is hard to imagine how it looked when the cannery was operational.

The lighting on the way back up the hill was spectacular. This shot screams Spring to me.

We took another day to bid a sad adieu to Spring was so needed, so enjoyed and so (already) missed.

Day Trippin'

Our trip to Britannia Mine with the Warringtons was so much fun that we figured we should cram in another day of exploration while school was out. 

Larissa suggested a day trip to Sidney on Vancouver Island. I heard the plan and could only think one thing: that sounds like an early morning. I was reaaaaaallly enjoying my sleep on the break, so it was a wrench to commit to a 9 a.m. ferry as foot passengers. 

In fact, it was such a sacrifice that...I slept in.

Picture me waking up at 8:15. Now imagine me frantically making omelette sandwiches for the kids to eat in the car. Now picture me chugging coffee on my way out the door and dropping the mug in the driveway like some sort of marathon running pounding Gatorade on the course. 

Now imagine me pulling out of the driveway in the car at 8:38. For the 9 o'clock ferry.

We made it. How? No idea. I had to place a panicked phone call to get Larissa to buy tickets because they stop selling them ten minutes before the sailing (I remember that from my UVic's a heartbreaker). 

We parked the car and RAN onto the ferry. 

The ferry, then the public bus and then...the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre.

Where we discovered that Molly is going to be a scientist:

Doesn't she look like a natural with the microscope? Look, she's off her seat with the excitement of discovery.

Lukey's speed is more...otter puppet. I like the expression on Lukey's face here.

The Centre wasn't huge and we were traveling with nine kids again. Everywhere you turned, there was a blond head that belonged with us. It felt a teeny bit like an invasion.

This is Finny doing some sort of interpretive dance involving swimming, fish...and disco...?

The highlight for me was this giant octopus. They have one at the Vancouver Aquarium, but he is crazy shy and you almost never see him out of the rock cave in his tank. This guy was an exhibitionist.

It's no wonder octopi are cast as villains. Look at that face.

And the crazy bulbous brain head. Dude is INTENSE.

Finny in front of the awesome entrance to the Centre.

We took a stroll around Sidney to look for lunch options and found the most wonderful little bakery. It was exactly how I remember bakeries when I was a kid. Everything was baked in house. Items go into a white box tied with string. And the prices...they also seemed very 80's. I went on a bakery spree. We had pizza pretzels, cheese sticks, sausage rolls, foccacia, even Cornish pasties. And four massive apple fritters for dessert. It was just over $13.

Observe the feast below.

The apple fritter is almost as wide as Lukey's shoulders.

It was just after I took this picture that he said, "Look, I am nearly half done already..." Um, right. None of us finished.

Molly got Hermie the Hermit Crab at the Ocean Centre. She and Lucy built a beach habitat for him. The beach in Sidney was really, really unusual. There were thousands and and thousands of pieces of beach glass and a similar number of pieces of thick, broken crockery. It was spectacular and odd.

It isn't easy to get a group shot of nine squirmy little people. This was the best I got. The kids are outside of one of the best books stores I have seen in any town, let alone a little beachside village. Tanners Books was impressive. Also, in their kids' section...they had my book. So, obviously they have great taste...

The trip back to the 5 o'clock ferry was on the top level of the double decker bus. So cool.

We made it home by 7 o'clock. It was another great day, which prompted Larissa and I to launch Les and Larry days...we will haul our crew to more activities on holidays and PD days. Look for more in the future...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chillin' at the Point

Best part of Spring Break? Long days in Point Roberts. Long sleep-ins, long lunches (sort of mixed with breakfast), long play sessions outside. Long nights of movies and reading. 

These two little people below could sit in their own chairs to play Wii, but they sit together. 

Molly got it into her head that she was going to learn to flip on the trampoline. She worked hard.

She didn't learn to get all the way over onto her feet, but she made some serious progress. Until she lost her nerve mid-flip one time and pulled out of the turn...onto her face. She sustained a nasty scrap on her nose. Poor girl. Since then, she hasn't been able to get over her fear. Her body stops her from turning. She'll keep working at it...after a psychological break...

Finny had a similar facial mishap. She ran into the slack line in the yard and scraped her forehead. Just getting warmed up for the bumps and bruises of summer.

We took some walks...something we never do in town. In fact, I sort of hate walking. Strangely, throw sand and rocks down and chuck an ocean to one side and I like it. Especially with good company. Sheila, Beth, the kids and I walked up the beach from my parents' place. It was cold, but clear and beautiful.

The kids are just happy to go anywhere with dogs. We had Scout, Gracie, Hattie and Duff with us. And wherever the dogs went, a kid was right behind.

In the picture below, you can sort of see two eagles at the top of that tree. They were big enough and menacing enough that Sheila picked up wee Scout, just in case she looked like an eagle snack.

Unstructured, down time. It's my favourite way to spend days with my family.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Surprise

Little Bro
His hiding spot on top of the mirror
His little footprints
The pot of gold
:Lukey's shamrock medal
Finny woke up early and planned her surprise.

We came downstairs to a wee Finny, who told us that she was a leprechaun. She said her "little bro" was hiding and if we found him, we'd get a pot of gold.

He left a few clues, like tiny green footprints on the wall.

Once we found him, we got a tiny pot of gold and medals. Mine was gold. Lukey got a shamrock.

Thanks to Little Bro, and special thanks to his big sister leprechaun.

Saint Patrick's Day

Finny is the kid who is always two steps ahead.

There are lots of times this is invaluable. When it comes to field trip forms and hot lunch orders, she makes me look like a rock star because she is the FIRST to get everything handed in to her teacher. She studies her spelling lists obsessively (even when her exasperated teacher gives her special words like indispensable and questionnaire) and knows the birthdays of all her friends and families (and prepares thoughtful cards well ahead).

There are times when this exhausting. When she gets the idea to make a lunchbox look exactly like a rock, for instance and no is not an option compatible with the maintenance of her or my sanity. Or when she scolds me for being late. Which is often.

Sometimes her desire to have control over her world and all that goes on in it...well, it's just lovely.

Tonight I came across this pile of clothes all laid out on the floor of her bedroom.

It is St. Patrick's Day, so it's all the green she could find. She has a ribbon for her hair (where did she find that?) and a green felted wool bracelet. There are green suspenders and socks. Leggings, a skirt, a shirt and a sweatshirt. She has a card she made for Eric. And all the green pens and pencil crayons in the house. You know, in case she has to write something down.

And before bed, she told me to stay in bed in the morning because she has a surprise for me too.

What a girl.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Good Old Fashioned Day with Playmobil

...this is what our floor looks like after three kids spend all day playing Playmobil like it's their jobs. Which I guess it is, more or less...

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: Jimmy
Flash: Off
Film: Blanko

Spring Break Britannia Beach

Today we met the Warringtons at Britainnia Beach Mine. I love hanging out with the Warringtons for lots of reasons, but one of the biggies is we travel in a huge clump of blondies...the kids are blend together and split off into pairs.  

I hadn't been to the Mine Museum since I was in high school. I knew it had been redone, but I had no idea the remodel was so extensive. The facility is fantastic, but the tour was even better. It was a great experience.

Here is Lukey in front of the giant mining truck. That was pretty much worth it right there for him.

Yep, it's big.

You drive by this place on the highway and you know the truck is big, but you don't know how big until you stand next to it. 

A major highlight was the panning for gold. It is mislabeled, really. They have stuffed this panning area with tons of semi-precious stones and fool's gold, in addition to real gold flakes. The kids were all mesmerized. We had to promise to hit it again on the way back out.

We headed up to the head of the mine tunnel to catch the train and start the tour.

There were hard hats to put know, for safety. This made Finny excited.

This terrified Lukey. He hears that he needs a hard hat...he wonder why. Is it safe? What is the risk? Should we even go?

No choice but to go on with the group.

His worrying sort of got to Molly. She was asking me questions that made me realize she was confusing a mine train with a Disney ride. There are no drops. No spinning, and no turns. No, seriously.

I told them to get serious. They were miners now. Lukey's serious face is, unserious.

Finny's, on the other hand, is deadly serious.

And Molly is downright intimidating.

We waited about ten minutes for the train, which gave us lots of time to analyze the safety of the train and admire the view.

Once Lukey realized the train had a ROOF, he was ready to ditch the hard hats altogether. Pretty logical.

Then he saw the dynamite and he figured he may as well keep it on...

I thought Lukey would be the most interested out of our three kids in the mining info. He was keen, but it was presented in such a way that Molly and Finny were also into it. We all learned a lot.

The best part for me was getting a first hand idea of what life would have been like for the men who toiled in these tunnels for eight hours every day. The guide demonstrated what it would be like for early miners, who only had a candle for light. Even having seen it, I cannot imagine that life. A glimpse was enough.

The kids were MOST interested in the travelling honey bucket and the poor soul who pushed it through the 200 miles of tunnels every day. There were lots of very practical questions about how that worked. How it was emptied. How is was cleaned. Was it clean? Um, not really.

This is Molly in the core sample shed. It was amazing. We were able to pull the cores up and feel them, look how different they could be from one another.

This was the site of the second mill building, which burnt to the ground under mysterious circumstances during a labour dispute many years ago.

And this was inside the existing mill building. Now, that looks a bit like a Disney ride...that hill would scare the most sanguine ride rider.

In fact, the whole building was all kinds of creepy. Interesting, but spooky.

Group shot.

This terrifying object is the ambulance car that went down to pick up injured miners. Wouldn't you be comforted to see this arrive to transport you to safety?

We went back to the panning before we left. Molly, I learned, has a future in gold panning. So that has some real world practicality. Right?

She was demented in her focus. She even took off her coat. It was freezing out, but "it was in her way...". Nothing gets in her way.

Everyone else lost interest or lost feeling in their extremities. Not Moll.

Here's a bit chunk of oxidized copper, just like what was mined in Britannia.

We rushed home to get the kids to Thursday night basketball, but the trip to Britannia was well worth the drive and money.

I warn you...start rolling your eyes now...

...If happy memories are treasure, we hit the jackpot at the mine today...

...(see, I told you to roll your eyes preemptively...).