Chronicles of the O'Brien Family Adventures...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Long Lake Weekend

We spent dad's birthday camping at Long Lake this year with grandma and grandpa. I regretted not making it out sooner. It's the best deal in the world for us: camp whenever we want - for free - in complete privacy, with power, a mere two hour drive from home. The land is breathtakingly gorgeous with majestic aspens whose leaves sing freely in a breeze, mimicking the pulse of ocean waves. It's also only another two hours away from the mountains, making it a possible jumping off point for further adventures. 

We arrived to a roaring fire and the rain, a wonderful welcome courtesy of mom and Doug. 

Luckily, the rain lasted only a half hour and stayed away for the rest of the weekend. Cai quickly fell into the camping routine. 

All our meals were outdoors. There were hardly any Mosquitos and the weather was perfect. Such a glorious thing to eat outside under a canopy of trees with the view of the lake before you. 

Cai quickly learned how to keep a fire happy; doing everything Aidan and Summer did with great focused attention. 

Our hammock was enjoyed; a lovely addition to our camping essential supplies. 

Saturday afternoon we brought out Sean's presents. 

Summer's present was her creation of a treasure chest birthday cake. 

A highlight of the evening for us all was playing a new family game called Telestrations. It's a cross between the classic Telephone game and Pictionary: you draw your word or phrase, the next person guesses what it is, the next person draws what the previous had guessed and the next person guesses again, and so on. It was absolutely hilarious and had us all in stitches, roaring with laughter around the campfire. The more muddled the answers got, the funnier the game was. Popcorn became Jellyfish. Binoculars became Space Ship. There were many more hilarious evolutions that I can't recall off hand. 

Venturing down to the lake is a surprisingly long and arduous journey through a meadow of tall plants and grasses. It's always worth it though. At the bottom we were treated with a plethora of raspberries on wild canes. 

The weekend passed oh so quickly. Next year I vow to enjoy a whole week there, hopefully with some additional weekends. We'll clear out our own little camping area and trails to the outhouse and fire pit. 

On our way home we stopped to geocache at Nojack. The caches we found were easy and cleverly hidden. The kids found some treasures and even Cai came away pretty excited about geocaching. Despite the burs!

As always, it was pleasurable to return to our home sweet home and our menagerie of pets. Now I will plan and prepare for our long awaited and anticipated yearly trek to Lac la Ronge!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It's a Beautiful Life: happy unblogged moments captured

Beautiful sunsets. 

The side of our house as viewed from the swing. 

Cai gets into imaginative play. This set is right by the kitchen. So often when I'm cooking something, so is he. 

Our 3D printed vase finally!! I use it for a toothbrush holder for the kids. 

Aidan reading at night. He looks so cozy. 

Geocaching on Father's Day. 

Family bike rides around lake Beaumaris. 

Aidan making an elastic band gun. 

Cai being silly at the park. 

Hanging out at the library. 

Learning a new tune at Music Together. 

The Newest Pet: Fawkes the Crested Gecko

Aidan's gecko hatched from its egg after four months of incubation. We didn't meet the egg, but we got to meet the gecko several days after it emerged at our friends house. It was adorable and lovely. Crested geckos are gorgeous creatures, soft and friendly. 

After meeting his new pet and it's parents, we returned home to set up a living habitat for it. Once everything was in order, we retrieved Fawkes, as Aidan decided to name it. 

Several weeks later, Aidan is taking remarkable care of his pet. All it's needs are taken care of without any reminders from me. It's a delight having it in the house; it's fun to hold and pet. Fawkes enjoys jumping and squeaks when startled. Right now it's sex is unknown. It is roughly two inches long, including tail, and will grow to be longer than my hand after several years. 

Maturation and Personal Development

Aidan has been blowing my mind lately in his shifting towards a more conscientious person. He has started to be more concerned about personal hygiene: showering more frequently and without resistance and deciding to and establishing his own habits of flossing daily. He keeps his room impeccable, even making his bed each morning without advertising or bragging. He just does it for no extrinsic reward or recognition. I keep wanting to change his sheets and pause because I am reluctant to disturb his already beautifully made bed. I guess I just need to get up earlier!

This week he also dissected his closet. He hauled everything out and sorted most of it into boxes to give away. It felt monumental to behold. Aidan is beginning to leave his childhood behind. Gone are the myriad of matchbox cars, toy weapons, vehicles and play sets.To stay is the rock collection, the spy gear and remote control vehicles. His closet now fits everything perfectly with room to spare. He was proud of his endeavor and worked hard for two days. I didn't ask him. I didn't suggest it. It was all on his own accord. When he was done and the boxes were cleared out, he asked if I could vacuum his room for him. 

His gecko is also receiving impeccable care. In the morning he mists it and removes the evening food, cleaning out the dish. At night he prepares its food, visits with it, mists again (and even informed me that if he rinses out the utensils he uses right away, that he can have them cleaned and ready for the next nights use). He does all this without a single reminder. 

In addition to these changes, he also eats healthier - he loves salad and can match me bite for bite if it's Caesar. He is even getting along gorgeously with his sister and slightly more amenable when we ask for help around the house. His computer time is not obsessive as it has been in the past either; he is conscious of the time he puts into it and will back away on his own accord. Somedays he hardly touches it. I think I even hear sounds of him exercising in his room at night. 

I love watching his personality unfold and his mind mature! Of course he's not perfect and I hold no expectations for these patterns to continue. To me, they're mostly signs of his maturation and evidence that we've made the right choice not raising our children with coercion; letting them find their own way to their authentic selves and self-mastery. My job in raising my kids is to work to be the best person I can be, as a role model and guide. It's definitely a solid work in progress! Right now, Aidan - who has the neatest spaces in the house and doesn't sneak chocolates like I do - is being an awesome role model for me. 

I love how we can all learn from each other! I am sometimes my children's teacher. They are frequently mine. Together and with consciousness, we can help each other to evolve to be the best we can be. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer's 8th Birthday

8 seems like a momentous birthday for some reason. Perhaps it's because it's the "legal" age to be alone and out of "arms reach" of your mother in pools and athletic facilities. Perhaps it's because Summer decided she wanted to get her ears pierced for the occasion. 

Ear piercing feels like a rite of passage. Not a necessary one of course; I don't care in the least whether or not she ever did it. I personally haven't worn earrings in well over a decade (except for one Christmas function two years ago). But I recall my own excitement and trepidation on piercing my ears when I was younger. It was something done when you were "old enough" and felt like a solid step towards being a full fledged grown up. My memories are clear and crisp. It was a proud moment of overcoming fear and being brave. Then it was a great avenue for self-expression, as I collected earrings for years. 

So when Summer decided it's what she wanted for her eighth birthday, grandma decided that we should make a full day celebration of it - a full Girl's Day Out!

It was an epic day, starting with breakfast at a restaurant. Then we proceeded to Kinsway mall for the piercing. Summer's nervousness and excitement mounted as we got closer to our destination. 

She choose pretty rainbow flowers for her first earring. She was terrified and so brave in the face of it. The process was fast though and her expression on seeing her new ears was one I'll remember for a long time!

She said it was more painful than she expected, but she was still all smiles and giddy excitement. 

Next we went and got Summer a new iPhone case and went shopping for some new clothes. It was such a blast hanging out altogether, just us girls. 

Before heading home - picking up ice cream along the way - we stopped for a lovely lunch together. 

Following this magnificent day was Summer's birthday party: a day of play at Lion's Park in St. Albert. It was an easy celebration - copious amounts of food, water guns and bocce balls. Kids ran around and played at the park and with the outdoor exercise circuit close by. 

All this and her official birthday is still two weeks away. To top it all off, her actual birth day will be spent in wild abandon at Klondike Days! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Canada Day

We spent Canada Day this year at Rundle Park with a group of friends. It was nice to avoid the long line ups and festivities we usually attend and everyone enjoyed themselves more for it. The kids are at an age where they'd much rather spend their time hanging with friends then standing in lines for petting zoos or even free treats. The day was sunny and warm. The kids played with water guns, rode around on their bikes, organized themselves into Olympic Games competitions and played with flying discs and remote controlled cars.

It was a delight to watch the sky change as the evening and night descended. 

Once the sun began to set, the kids biked up the hill with a couple dads to my sister's house. The kids enjoyed playing and the adults chatting with martinis, as we awaited the fireworks which we watched from the third floor balcony. The fireworks are small from their place, but four can be seen at once - Sherwood park's, Milliwood's, downtown's and even St. Albert's can be seen in four directions. It was a great introduction for Cai. At two years old, close up would likely have been too loud for him. 

Summer's favorite part of the evening was creating orgami with some girl friends, laughing and giggling. 

It was a spectacularly beautiful day, as we all piled into the minivan around midnight.