Tuesday, July 28, 2009

15 Books in 15 Minutes

So, many of you are likely familiar with the meme that is currenty passing through Facebook. I've yet to post this note there, as I thought I'd work out my list here first. As far as a list, however, I'm unable to make decisions about the order of the 15 books I've posted, and I of course found it hard to narrow the list to 15, so I've included honourable mentions at the bottom that just weren't able to make the cut!

If you're not familiar with the 15 Books meme, it is as follows:

Rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

So, here are my 15:

  • Love you Forever (Robert Munsch)
  • The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
  • Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery)
  • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
  • Fall On Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
  • The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
  • A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
  • Roughing It In The Bush (Susanna Moodie)
  • The Birth House (Ami McKay)
  • The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
  • A Handful of Time OR The Sky is Falling (Kit Pearson)
  • The Giver (Lois Lowry)
  • The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith)
  • The BFG or James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)

With close cuts made to:

  • The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
  • Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  • My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok)
  • The Cider House Rules (John Irving)
  • The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  • The Number One Ladies Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
  • Bridge to Terebithia (Katherine Paterson)
  • Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
  • 1984 (George Orwell)
  • Two Solitudes (Hugh MacLennan)

And next on the reading list (already purchased, just a matter of time to read something other than children's books) is The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) which I noticed was on many a list, as well as My Sister's Keeper (Jodi Picoult) because my students are obsessed with her so I want to see what the hype is all about...

I'm not going to tag anyone as you'll then feel more obligated to do this, but if you do complete a list of your own I'd be interested to know your top 15! I'm amazed at how many pieces of literature from studies in high school made it on the list... maybe I was early inspired to be an English teacher?!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Annual Rebelo Family Reunion

Yesterday we had the annual Rebelo family reunion in Bayfield, a gathering that has been going on for quite a few years now (I should check the golf trophy to be certain, but I know it's many years more than I've been a part of the family... and yes, there's a golf trophy, but I'll get to that later - too bad I don't have a picture loaded to show you what will now sit "proudly" on the mantle for the next year thanks to Greg's win).

Anyhow, at some point each summer, Greg's Tia Gloria hosts the family on a Sunday for a reunion of sorts (yes, despite the fact that we see plenty of one another in town for various occasions as well!). This year was different, however, in that it was the first year in which we did not stay the entire weekend in Bayfield as Greg's grandparents sold their trailer last summer (where we've stayed in the past). Not that we always stayed there - we used to pitch a tent on Gloria's lot in the early years and we even rented a lot close to the trailer another - but with two kids and another on the way, we thought it would be easier to drive up for the day, as many others do. It made for an early morning, as the guys play a round of golf, for which there is a trophy, with an 8 a.m. tee-off time, but we managed!

AND it was also a special reunion because it was Avo Olivia's 99th birthday as well. Greg has some good genes in his family, that's for sure!

So, while the boys were off to golf under overcast conditions (it threatened rain but thankfully held off - fitting the entire family on the porch of a trailer would be next to impossible), the ladies and children always head off to breakfast. The only thing that changes is the waiter seems to get more rude with each passing year, but the breakfast is good and we've four hours to kill before getting lunch ready.
We returned to the park and kept the kids entertained in the cool lake breeze by renting the "family car" from the office. The Couto kids did most of the pedalling, thankfully, because Stacey and I tried a round and not only was it a workout but our legs kept knocking each other.

After lunch, we headed down to the beach for awhile with some of the kids. Braylon had fallen asleep by that point, but Isaiah was still rip roarin' so he went swimming, climbed on the rocks, and tried skipping stones with daddy.

Typically at some point we play a massive game of soccer, which we eventually got to after sitting around in the afternoon for awhile. And of course the kids had to go for another ride before heading home, so we didn't get out of Bayfield until well after 8 last night. Poor Greg had to head in to work this morning, so I'm sure he'll be exhausted once he comes home!

Anyhow, we're looking forward to keeping the tradition alive - and next year is sure to be a memorable one as Avo Olivia will be 100 years old! Very few people achieve that feat, that's for certain!

Beach Boys

So despite the crappy weather this summer, we've managed to make it to the beach twice... which in days long ago would not nearly be enough for a week let alone an entire summer, but since becoming a mom we don't manage to get beach days in very often so it was a treat to go twice in one week (even if I look like a beached whale at 34 weeks pregnant)!

Day 1 was an impromptu trip to Grand Bend with my sister-in-law and her sons, mostly to avoid the driveway work going on at home and to take advantage of one of the only nice days we'd had in some time. We loaded up (unfortunately two separate vehicles) and drove up to the beach to spend the afternoon in the sun. The boys were all well behaved, as was Olivia, my neighbour "adopted daughter" of kinds - she's Isaiah's summertime best/girl friend (sorry, Lola) - as we spent the afternoon watching the boys play with the beach toys and Olivia swim in the waves.

Day 2 was also planned somewhat last minute, as Greg had been working hard on "holidays" to finish the driveway with the help of many friends. He deserved some relaxation too, and we were blessed with a second good beach day in one week weather-wise, so we trekked back up 81 to the Bend. The boys again enjoyed digging in the sand, burying their legs with daddy and filling up the holes he dug with water from the lake. They both went in for a bit of a swim too - Isaiah to jump the waves and Braylon to watch the action of the various high school kids playing catch and giggling in gaggles.

We didn't last as long as I'd originally hoped, though, as I wanted a nice long day at the beach - not only does beach air tire you out, but beachin' it with a 2.5 year old and a 1.5 year old whilst being 7.5 months pregnant keeps you too busy to relax in the sun.
We did tackle the new play equipment and take a stroll down to the pier as well as up and down the main drag, but we headed home mid-afternoon (though we did go out for dinner at Cello that night with our neighbour friends anyhow, so we came home for a reason). This summer is flying by, so I'm hoping to enjoy a few more beach days before delivery-day because I can't fathom taking these two monkeys and a newborn to the beach! I'm sure we'll have tons more summer adventures, beach-related or not, before the fall, so be sure to stay tuned!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Hard to believe that on this day, four years ago, Greg and I were married. Time sure flies! Two and a half kids later...

We've really been blessed to have lived a fairly good life thus far. In our four years of marriage, and technically the years dating prior to that, we've managed to expand our family - first with a black lab named Raider in November 2004...

...then our first born, Isaiah Joseph, in November 2006.

Along came our second son, Braylon Miguel, in February 2008...

...and we're now expecting our third, TBA.
It's been a ride. And we've managed to live a pretty busy life, watching NFL games...

attending plenty of family functions, most often weddings as the extended family continues to grow...

...acquiring nephews and a niece, sharing in holidays with our kids, and taking some vacation time for just the two of us.

It's really been a busy four years!

So, here's to many more, Greg! I look forward to seeing what our future has in store!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Juliana Reese Herr & Sebastian Murataj

Congratulations to my brother and his wife, Leanne, on the safe arrival of their daughter, Baby Juliana Reese. It's been a few weeks now, but I hadn't had a chance to post a blog, so I'm making up for it today (while taking breaks to convince Isaiah it really is indeed nap time -- although, to his defense, there have been numerous distractions, including the machines prepping our driveway and the neighbour girls checking in to see if he can play... twice). We unfortunately weren't able to make it down to Orangeville to visit them in the hospital, but we squeezed in a visit (despite a pile of marking and feeling under the weather) on the weekend after she was born. I've only twice laid claim to an unknown gender, and I was right - I now have a niece!

Here I am stealing some quality girl time:

And Greg had a chance to hold her too:

The boys were both pretty taken with her too; they're really good brothers and are quite used to their cousins on Greg's side, so they were gentle and sweet with her... it just meant rough housing one another with daddy when they were allowed!

My mom and Greg drove down to visit that day as well, so here is Grandma Lina with her first grand-daughter... and then with all the grandkids!

So the new Herr family looks much like this: my brother James and sister-in-law Leanne, with their daughter Juliana and dog, Keelee. Funny, I'm surrounded by boys while my brother's family is made up of girls!
We stopped in to visit again on our way home from the cottage, and snapped a Herr cousin shot:

Anyhow, while I am posting this, I should also post a congratulations to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law for their new addition as well, since I was not updating my blog when they had their second son. And sadly I've no pictures of my new nephew Sebastian whatsoever, which will inspire me to capture a few in the next few days since it's pathetic we've caught none at all and he's now two months old. But here is my sister-in-law with her oldest boy, Mateo, riding the cars at the Turkeyfest:

Congratulations Stacey, Ermal and Mateo on your growing family as well - and welcome Sebastian to the family (I promise to not only steal some snaps off Facebook from your mommy's profile, but now that we've a new camera I'll be sure to get some for ourselves as well!).

Busy Bees

We've had ourselves a busy summer so far -- we took a day trip to the African Lion Safari and then the boys and I were off to the Herr cottage for a holiday. Unfortunately it was rainy and cold, not all that typical for the first week of July up north, but we survived and had ourselves as much fun as possible despite the rain that NEVER let up! But we had gorgeous weather for our Safari day...

Now of course our original plans got skewed when the drive shaft on my truck decided it wanted to go. Knock on wood, we've been lucky with our truck for the most part, considering it gets 200+ kms/day with me commuting to work. But with impeccable timing, we were out a vehicle with plans to go on this trip. Thankfully we were able to take my in-laws' vehicle, although it meant they didn't end up coming with us. So we picked up Greg from work at Toyota and off we went to the safari. The boys were super excited, Isaiah in particular, as for days we'd been counting down the sleeps until he got to see the animals. We went on the boat cruise first, to see the monkeys and the birds, before heading out on the safari tour. Here we are waiting for our bus:

The boys were captivated, despite the thick glass separating them from the animals, and well behaved, save for a few shrieks of excitement. Greg and I sat on opposite sides so that they could move around the bus depending on which side the best view was from.

Isaiah really enjoyed the lions and the monkeys, even though he claims his favourite was the elephants (which unfortunately he missed because he fell asleep).

The animals were most definitely used to the traffic - as they hardly noticed the cars moving around them and the people gawking at them. I'm glad we took the bus through, actually, as the baboons were notorious for riding 4 or 5 on top certain cars, and knowing our luck they would have chosen ours!
Anyhow, after we toured the different areas of the reserve, we had a picnic lunch and headed into the water park splash pad. It took a little convincing on both their parts to get wet, Braylon more so than Isaiah, but eventually they took to the wading pools, sprinklers and jets, and Isaiah even tried out the slide! I was worried he would want to head into the bigger part of the water park, as he tends to think he's much older (and in fact was tall enough), but he seemed content to play in the baby/toddler area. Here they are goofing around:

The boys then had a nap, so Greg and I caught the elephant show, for which Braylon saw the tail end. The elephants were all very talented - shooting hoops, painting, and doing gymnastic tricks. All in all, it was a great trip - and having never been to African Lion Safari, I was quite impressed myself.
Then the boys and I were off for our annual trip to the Herr cottage in Haliburton, a trek I've made solo with the boys before, though it's a long one. There never really is an ideal time to leave, as the boys aren't going to sleep comfortably in car seats were I to leave late at night, and I wasn't about to expect them to be well behaved for the 5.5 hour drive. So we did our best, and they weren't too bad.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, the forecast was not in the least bit appealing. It rained, and I mean rained, every single day, save for a few hours on Canada Day and then the day before we left. It was hard on the boys to be cooped up, especially in a cottage -- though had it been warmer, the black flies and mosquitoes might have eaten them alive outside anyhow. We did manage to get out for a full day of sunshine on the boat -- swimming and playing with the beach toys on the lake, touring before lunch, and back to the boat launch for an afternoon swim before heading back in to the cottage. So the boys got to exert some energy outside!
And so we've been home for only two days now -- which have passed equally fast with appointments on Tuesday and an eye exam this morning for me. The rest of the summer is by no means planned out, but I'm certain we'll find ourselves keeping just as busy! We'll be sure to keep you posted!