It won't happen every year, but this year
both Helen and I had a long stretch of holidays over the Christmas
break. We packed up the kids and gifts and headed to
Victoria to celebrate Christmas. We had a cold snap (zero
degrees Celsius!) so I thought I would try something new -
The birds at Butterfly World can be
extremely loud and Claira didn't do well with the loud
noises. (She doesn't like the parrots at the Aquarium or the
Blodel Conservatory either). Trying something new, I brough
iPads for the kids to take photos with. Kids and cameras
seems like a bit of a tricky trade-off - cameras can very quickly
cause compulsion behavior (Got to take a photo of everything) but
on the flip side the girls spent a lot more time at exhibits (like
the frogs) than they did the first time without a camera.
Overall I was pretty happy - the kids did really enjoy taking
photos and it distracted Claira from the loud noises but one of
the iPads was dropped on the cement and screen was
shattered. I've since made alternative arrangements (bought
a "shockproof" AW130).
Claira has naps in the afternoon so I often take Nara out for a
walk. We visited Swan Lake to see what would be easy to
see. Being later in the day most of the birds were well away
from the pedestrian areas, but it's still nice to see the
diversity at Swan Lake.
I'll be honest, we didn't put up a Christmas tree this year -
Grandma does such a great job of it, anything we did would just
pale in comparison. Grandma has multiple Christmas trees (a
logical consequence of buying more and more ornaments) and many
decorations scatter throughout the house.
New activity for this year, we set out
treats and chocolate milk for Santa Clause. The theory was
that this would help the kids get to bed and prepare for the
activities Christmas morning. Claira is of course smart -
she grabbed her blanket and wanted to sleep in one of the child
sized recliner chairs waiting for Santa to arrive. Of course
that wasn't an option.
And then the big morning arrived! I'm always surprised how
one of two gifts really stand out. Claira received a pink
bunny which was an instant favorite. Nara received a horse
with wings and you would have thought it was here separated at
birth long lost sister - Nara held it in her hands for hours.
Christmas day is my
fathers birthday so usually have birthday activities in
evening. Tonight it was Chinese Food at a downtown restaurant
and then (surprisingly) musical instruments came out. Neither
I nor Helen are particularly musical (although Helen does know how
to play the piano). My dad took up stringed instruments in his
retirement so he showed the kids a little bit about playing them.
Comox For Boxing Day
My aunt kindly hosts a party for Boxing Day
and it's one of the largest gatherings of the extended family each
year. My grandparents had four children so there are lots of
cousins and aunts around in any given year.
My grandmother still
knits prolifically and manages to make gifts for her great
grandchildren. I have a soft spot for people who actually
make things for gifts - not only does it show skill, it also
show attention to the recipient because it's usually made just
for them. This year the girls received mermaids (in the
disney style) and they were thrilled. They still sleep
The party is also an opportunity to take photos of relatives I don't
see that often during the year. This year we went with an
almost canned formal setup - the teenagers aren't so keen on having
their photos taken without attention to appearance so I having the
opportunity to setup the shot instead of hit or miss candids seemed
like a reasonable compromise.
young kids have no such issues so you can just shoot away. I
currently take dozens of photos of my kids a year. When they
hit teenager (or sooner) I'm sure that number will decline
We booked a few nights in Courtenay so we would have the chance to
really visit the family and enjoy the valley attractions.
One morning we went up to Mount Washington for a day of
tubing! Our first stop was Canadian Tire to buy chains (no
refunds, exchange for 3 days only) and then we drove up. The
tube park doesn't open until 11am but we were up by 10:30 and we
quite likely got the last parking space on the whole
mountain. We bought two two hour passes (22 dollars each)
and away we went! The first few slides were really quick
(slide down, ride up, repeat) but as time went on, more people
arrived and it took longer between getting to the top and sliding
again. Our last slide was just before 1pm and we waited in
line 30 minutes before we could slide.
The slide itself lasts about
20 seconds. I figure we rode about 8 times in two hours so a
total slide time of 160 seconds or just under three minutes.
Skiing isn't cheap, but it is a much better deal.
Claira doesn't last forever so we need to get down the mountain
for nap. With Claira napping, Nara and I can do our own
little side trip. I stopped by the grandparents house and
picked up my Grandfather for a push around the air park.
The air park is really flat so pushing a wheelchair 2.2km is
We also visit my grandparents! My
cousin and her two children (Lexi and Arabella) are in town so
we all of the kids can play together. Lexi is in between
Nara and Claira for age so they work out well together.
The new kid on the block is Arabella - Lexi's little
sister. She is about eight weeks old and already has lots
of strong opinions - how she likes to be held and when she is
going to eat.
Thanks Everyone for hosting us and making for such a great