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December Update

December started with a lovely visit from Brian's sister Lisa.  We picked her up from the airport and she spent a few days with us where she got to see Hadley's skating lessons, before heading to visit Julie and Selinah.  We are so lucky to see her so often this year.
The rest of that first week was spent getting a Christmas tree, counting money at the school for different fundraisers, and doing the breakfast program, and getting gift baskets ready for a school raffle.  Plus shopping, and wrapping presents.
The Verkley Christmas was early this year at Maria's so that Lisa could join in the fun and visit with all the Verkley's while in town.  It was at the end of her visit, so, Lisa came home with us as it would be easier to get her to the airport from our house, so we got to enjoy more time visiting.  
I enjoyed a mommy night out with all the moms from our group.  Patti, Annie, Krista, Chaylee, Christine, Beth, Lori, and myself.  It is rare that all eight of us can get together, so this was quite special.  (We are usually pretty good with most of us, but all of us, is rare).  We talked the night away, and let time slip by as we all easily conversed about life.  We have been friends since our babies were less than a year old.
The holiday concert this year at the school was for grades k-3, so none of my kids were in it, however, Hadley was in the Choir, so we did go see the show as she was signing.  She loves being in the choir.  She takes such pride in it.  
I had another girls night out with Stacey and Lindsay this time.  We met at Union Station in Toronto and then went on to enjoy dinner and drinks while we talked about the good times, some hardships, and the strength we have all had to preserver though the tough times.  It is always nice to get together.  This year marked 5 years since the passing of Lindsay's sister Sarah, Stacey's husband just had a stroke and is learning to walk again, and while our challenges seem small, we were navigating Brian being unemployed.   Update to that... Brian started a new job at AWS (Amazon Web Services on December 23).  
We enjoyed Christmas at Brian's dad's house where we met up with Joe, Paul, Julie, Selinah, Patti Jo and Patti Jo's dad Bill.  Hadley loved time with the cats, and Easton wanted to play hide and seek in their house as it has a front and back stair case.  
My family humoured me and we went to see the Uxbridge Fantasy of Lights.  While they all say they don't care if they go, I secretly think they all appreciate it.  
I love Christmas lights!  
Brian's mom, sister Julie and Selinah came to stay with us for a few days to enjoy some more Christmas time together.  We all loved the baby snuggles.  
We even watched a few movies and they all came to watch Easton play hockey.  
Hometown Hockey was in Whitby this weekend!  We didn't really do much but we were at the rink and saw a few of the festivities in the parking lot.
My dads Christmas felt different this year.  I think the kids are getting older and not as crazy, more actual connecting.  I love that.  My grandma and my cousin Pamela were also there for a short visit.  I know it is a big effort for my grandma to get there so I appreciate it all the more.
Tonight we are hosting 15 people, plus our family of 4 for New Years Eve festivities.  I think we might be crazy, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

- Leanne Verkley

November Update

The month started off with Brian's mom coming to stay with us for a few days.  She was able to come watch Easton's hockey game where he scored his second goal! This time a break a way goal.  Which in the change room he told everyone that he dedicated to her.  There were smiles all around.  It was a beautiful goal!  
This day was a busy one as Easton also went to celebrate Nathan's birthday and there were skating and hockey photos.

Our first round of snow came in early November and we attempted to make a snowman, but he was ever so small with it not being packing snow, but now that it is the end of the month, we are seeing temperatures at plus 10C.  We did a nice walk around the property to gather greenery, pine cones, berries, wood, etc. to make into a lovely entrance piece for the season on the front porch.  Although I hear the weather is about to change this week with a snow storm expected tomorrow.

There were quite a few baking adventures this month including cake and apple crisp.  I love that we are making more things from scratch.  Bread, and pizza are now regulars.  

Hadley completed Star 2 Skills at skating.  She is working really hard at all her new skills.  Her and Rachel have become really close and skate together during their free time each week.

We went to Santa's Cottage this year, which I just learned about this year but wished I had learned about it long ago.  It is a lovely rustic place in Oshawa.  Highly recommended!   It was such a wonderful experience.  Santa was so authentic and Mrs. Claus was so sweet.  They had muffin cookies baking in the farmhouse rustic kitchen, and each kid got one after talking with Santa and taking photos with beautiful scenery in their living room.  It felt warm and cozy and super inviting.   The atmosphere was amazing!  We were allowed to take as many photos as we wanted within 15 minutes.  We were the only ones there, with no lines like a mall.  It was magical.  The backyard had many photo opportunities as well.  An old red truck, with a Christmas tree in the back, a sleigh, an old buggy, and so much more.  Even the lit fence and painted signs felt warm and inviting.  Again... highly recommended.  (All for $40 which is way better than the mall where you get three digital photos for the same price and it is just crazy busy and not at all the same feel).  

Frozen II came out, and we took the kids.  We all loved it!  Popcorn, family time and a good movie!  

The CP Holiday Train rolled in again this year.  We met up with Lynn, Ayslyn, and Beckett from Hockey.  I picked up the kids early from school as did Lynn because the train came through at 3pm in Oshawa.  This meant that the lights on the train were hard to see, but the music was still fun!  Scott Helman sang his song "This is how it goes", and there were Christmas carols as well.  We enjoyed hot beverages and donated to Feed the Need Durham.  

The Pickering Tree Lighting Ceremony was well done again this year.  Elsa and Anna took to the stage.  Hadley was happy enough but wished they sang some of the new songs, Easton was happy with the games like whack a mole, and a few others and they both liked the fair type rides like the ferris wheel and the Fun House.   This year they had a new walkway that was lit up that you could walk through.  It felt festive.  There were also many other light up words.  HO HO HO, etc.  However, the grand finale fireworks are always amazing!  Such a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit.  

- Leanne Verkley

Halloween

This year Halloween was wet, very wet!  However, the skies opened up between 6 pm and 7 pm and it was just drizzle.  By 7 pm the rain started but was manageable with umbrellas.  However, by 7:30 pm it was time to go home.  The kids had full bags of candy and the rain was intense.

This year Hadley went as a beautiful blue butterfly with silk type wings, and a blue tutu.  We made her antenna with pipe cleaners and a black headband.  Her centre was just black sweatpants and a black sweater.

Easton was Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.  A crocheted beard, a cloak that was a grey poncho from a previous camping trip, and a grey pointed hat that we had from our trip to Germany many years ago at Octoberfest.  He found an amazing staff (stick) in the yard that completed the costume.  

The kids had a great time trick-or-treating even with the wet, wet weather.

- Leanne Verkley

Day trips

Both kids had school trips to Duffin's Creek.  Hadley's trip didn't need volunteers, but she had a great day and said she really enjoyed it and was able to talk easily with Easton after his trip as they had similar experiences.  I was invited to go on Easton's trip.  We enjoyed the day outdoors.  We learned about birds of prey, and played a fantastic game of predator vs. prey where the kids actually were allowed to run through the trees and field and collect food and water stamps without being caught by their peers who could take their lives if they were not careful.  So much energy and so much fun!

Then on October 28th it was a beautiful day with a temperature of 17C, so I took the kids out of school for a half day where we met up with my cousin's Natasha and Brittany and their kids at the Toronto Zoo.  It was lovely!  Some of the kids wore their costumes, some not.  The kids all got along, their was space for everyone to run if they wanted to as their were no crowds and we enjoyed the day catching up.  We were so close when we were kids and it was easy to pick up as if no time had passed.
We need to try to get together again soon and not let so much time pass between visits.

- Leanne Verkley

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