The Life of K

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reptiles: Beautiful and Deadly


Reptiles are taking over the Museum of Nature! The newest special exhibit is all about these cold-blooded animals. There are turtles and tortoises, snakes and lizards! My favourite are the tortoises... there's something so calming about watching them move slowly around, munching on grass.

Aldabra tortoises.
During the media preview the other week, I learned a lot about reptiles. I often go to museums with the kids so I don't get a chance to read all the information, but I was by myself so not only did I read, I got a chance to chat with some scientists. One was from the US and is involved in the care of the animals. She was chatting about her favourite, the milk snake, while holding one, petting it fondly.

The idea of owning a snake - or any reptile for that matter - doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy but her love for the creatures was obvious, and I can't deny that they're pretty cool.

Pueblan milk snake.

The colouring, the adaptations.. all cool, but I would use the word "creepy" to describe this guy. I watched the American Alligator for a while and he hardly moved, but I'm sure I'd be dinner if I got too close.

American alligator.

Lots of live animals are on display but the amount of information is staggering. And it's not just about reading. There's a big turtle shell kids can climb on, a button you can push to see how the jaw of a snake words, another that allows you to milk a snake, and zoetropes you can spin to see how different reptiles move. Lots to learn about reptiles.

Green tree python.

Wood turtle.

Western diamondback rattlensake.

Gila monster.

Maybe next time I'll take the kids!

The exhibit, which runs until April 2017, is free for members but there is an extra fee on top of regular museum admission.

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend a media preview. I was not compensated for this write up. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Little J at 7


It's funny when I think about having a seven year old. Little J is a little person and I'm often reminded of the things he couldn't do just a year ago. Having kids that are a bit older is a relief, ones that can open doors and buckle themselves in, go to the bathroom on their own.. our role as parent switches to more of a companion one. We're there to explain how things work and to demonstrate new things, but hardly ever do we completely do something for the kids anymore, especially Little J.


Little J recently started Grade 2 and is in a regular class (not a split like last year). He loves Pokemon, Harry Potter, and Lego. Really, he just loves things. He loves to read and will read well into the night if you let him. He's still doing karate once a week, has started hip hop, and wants to play hockey.


The older Little J gets, the fewer developmental milestones he hits because things aren't as obvious as crawling or walking. There's a lot going on emotionally and in language development. He's getting bigger, stronger, and faster.


I would say that my little carb man is getting better at eating meat. We still struggle with him eating quickly (as in, he eats SO slow) but overall things are improving. He still really likes hot sauce and has started chewing gum.


I feel like Little J's language is maturing. He's lost just about all his cute ways of saying things and is using bigger words. He reads all the time so he's learning all sorts of new words.


This guy doesn't seem to need much sleep. He's almost always up right around 7 am after falling asleep sometime between 9 and 10:30 pm. Over the summer, he slept a bit later so getting up and ready for school some days isn't the easiest.


Little J is 46.8 pounds. He's wearing size S (6-7) and a size 1 shoe. I can't remember when exactly, but we switched Little J to a booster seat in the car, which worked out so that we now have seats for the kids in both cars. Little K is jealous but she's still less than 40 pounds, the lower limit of a booster seat.

Little J at 6

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Little J's 7th Birthday

My little man turned 7 and at the end of the first week of school we had his birthday party. Normally we have some sort of theme for the kids' parties and I have all these big ideas, most of which never come to fruition. Not that the kids don't have a good time, but the parties just don't come together like the Pinterest parties I imagine in my head.

Birthday decorations.
This time it was different. I told J my big plans and we brainstormed how to pull it all off. He had some good ideas and together we put together a rocking Pokemon party for Little J! I'm proud of how it went and so happy that Little J and his friends had a blast.

Little J was waffling between a Harry Potter theme and Pokemon. I pushed for Pokemon because I figured more of his friends would be into it and with the popularity of Pokemon Go I knew it'd be easy to get ideas. Plus, I imagined a big scavenger hunt game - a real live Pokemon Go for the kids.

I've never done a scavenger hunt before and had no idea how to pull one off. But here's how we did it.

Pick a Pokemon.
When Little J's friends arrived, we had them colour a Pokemon. These were just colouring pages we printed off. Each kid had a different character. This kept them busy for a little bit. Pin the tail on Pikachu was up next and while we did that, J took the colouring pages and taped them up around the backyard. Under each picture he also taped a plastic cup.

Very proud of my Pikachu.
Pin the tail on Pikachu!
Pikachu's tails.
After playing pin the tail we had the kids go outside. J and I explained that they were Pokemon trainers and they would have to catch Pokemon to collect their candy. They were all given Pokeballs (ping pong balls that J and I had coloured) and they had to hunt for Pokemon (this wasn't hard, but had them running all around the backyard).

Coloured pingpong balls.

Trying to catch Pokemon.
Little K doing her best.
To "catch" a Pokemon, they had to get the ball into the cup then they'd run to me and I'd give them a candy (I had gumballs that I handed out) for them to put in their bags. The bags were paper lunch bags that had a pokeball on them which they got to take home.

Pokemon loot bags.
It was a little chaotic and I'm not sure all the kids got the same number of candies but they had a ton of fun and they were running around so I was happy.

Pretty cool cake.
When they had all caught all the Pokemon - gotta catch em all! - they were given their prize - a pack of Pokemon cards! They got to keep the candy and the cards as their loot.

Birthday boy.

Our trainers came inside for presents and cake. After that they ran around outside and eventually calmed down and traded cards. Everyone went home happy.

"Tackle football."
Blowing off energy.
Card trading.
And that's how you throw a Pokemon party for a seven year old!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer Reads

My goodreads account tells me I'm not quite on track to make it to 50 books read this year. If I have another month like August I will be though! I was able to get through a bunch of books while at the cottage. I've definitely slowed back down with school starting up and birthday season, but I just started a teen vampire series so we'll see!

What have you been reading?


25. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan


Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

What I Thought

I found this book captivating. The realities of being on a lifeboat are harsh and I'm not sure I have what it takes to survive. I find myself, months later, still thinking about this story.

26. The Enchanted


"This is an enchanted place. Others don't see it, but I do."

The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners' pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

What I Thought

This was a book I didn't really get in to. I didn't like the whimsical aspects and couldn't really get into the characters. Months later and I can hardly remember the story. I wouldn't recommend this one.

27. The Book of Business Awesome


UnAwesome is UnAcceptable."The Book of Business Awesome" is designed as two short books put together--one read from the front and the other read from the back when flipped over. Covering key business concepts related to marketing, branding, human resources, public relations, social media, and customer service, "The Book of Business Awesome" includes case studies of successful businesses that gained exposure through being awesome and effective. This book provides actionable tools enabling readers to apply the concepts immediately to their own businesses. The flip side of the book, "The Book of Business UnAwesome," shares the train-wreck stories of unsuccessful businesses and showcases what not to do.Key concepts include the power of peripheral referrals and how to create content for your "third circle"Explains how to re-recruiting your employees and re-court your customers

Ensure that your business remains awesome, instead of unawesome, and apply these awesomely effective strategies to your business today.

What I Thought

I really liked the info in this business book and how it was presented in quick and easy to read chapters. It was almost like a collection of blog posts, but was cohesive and flowed well. Lots of great information on what to do and what not to do in business. I've passed it on to a member of a business group I'm part of so hopefully it's off teaching someone else something new about business.
*I was sent this book to review.

28. The 100 by Kass Morgan


No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

Clarke was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. Wells, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless Bellamy fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And Glass managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

What I Thought

I really liked the show The 100 (it's on Netflix!) and was pretty sure I'd like the books too. The first book is a lot like the show with a couple glaring differences. The show goes in a few different directions and I found myself able to picture all the characters but enjoyed the story lines the book had more than the show.

29. The 100 Day 21 by Kass Morgan


It's been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They're the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries...or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.
In this pulse-pounding sequel to Kass Morgan's The 100, secrets are revealed, beliefs are challenged, and relationships are tested. And the hundred will struggle to survive the only way they can -- together.

What I Thought

The second book in The 100 series was a bit slower than the first, but still a good read.

30. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling


It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

What I Thought

This was a really quick read but it took me a while to get used to the fact that it's a play. I would have preferred if Rowling had taken the concept and fleshed out a book instead of slapping her name on the play and publishing it.

31. The Choices We Make by Karma Brown


Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate's skirt with a mirror. While they've been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can't help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls. 

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah's heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it's Kate's turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah's surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so. 

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

What I Thought

A book about surrogacy.. I have read surrogacy stories before and was a bit bored until the tragedy struck. It's a heart-wrenching tale and well written, though if you don't care for stories about pregnancy or surrogacy I could see you not enjoying this book.

32. From This Moment On by Shania Twain


The world may know Shania Twain as many things: a music legend, a mother, and recently, a fixture in the news for her painful, public divorce and subsequent marriage to a cherished friend. But in this extraordinary autobiography, Shania reveals that she is so much more. She is Eilleen Twain, one of five children born into poverty in rural Canada, where her family often didn’t have enough food to send her to school with lunch. She’s the teenage girl who helped her mother and young siblings escape to a battered woman’s shelter to put an end to the domestic violence in her family home. And she’s the courageous twenty-two-year-old who sacrificed to keep her younger siblings together after her parents were tragically killed in a car accident.

Shania Twain’s life has evolved from a series of pivotal moments, and in unflinching, heartbreaking prose, Shania spares no details as she takes us through the events that have made her who she is. She recounts her difficult childhood, her parents’ sudden death and its painful aftermath, her dramatic rise to stardom, her devastating betrayal by a trusted friend, and her joyful marriage to the love of her life. From these moments, she offers profound, moving insights into families, personal tragedies, making sense of one’s life, and the process of healing. Shania Twain is a singular, remarkable woman who has faced enormous odds and downfalls, and her extraordinary story will provide wisdom, inspiration, and hope for almost anyone.

What I Thought

It's clear that Shania Twain is an interesting woman. She's had some crazy things happen to her and it was nice reading about her life from her instead of what you'd read in the press. I think she could have used an editor that toned things down a bit.. so many exclamation points!! Interesting all the same.

33.  The 100 Homecoming by Kass Morgan (The 100 #3)


Weeks after landing on Earth, the Hundred have managed to create a sense of order amidst their wild, chaotic surroundings. But their delicate balance comes crashing down with the arrival of new dropships from space.

These new arrivals are the lucky ones—back on the Colony, the oxygen is almost gone—but after making it safely to Earth, Glass’s luck seems to be running out. Clarke leads a rescue party to the crash site, ready to treat the wounded, but she can’t stop thinking about her parents, who may still be alive. Meanwhile, Wells struggles to maintain his authority despite the presence of the Vice Chancellor and his armed guards, and Bellamy must decide whether to face or flee the crimes he thought he’d left behind.

It’s time for the Hundred to come together and fight for the freedom they’ve found on Earth, or risk losing everything—and everyone—they love.

What I Thought

The third book in The 100 series was much more fulfilling (and less sci-fi) than the show and I really enjoyed the trilogy.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Back to school 2016

Back to school!! This year the first day wasn't on Little J's birthday. He was happy about that.

Tuesday was the first day. But then I remembered that Little K is still in kindergarten and she wouldn't be starting that day too. Apparently last year felt like two and she should be starting grade 1 instead of senior kindergarten.

J took the week off work and our morning went smoothly. The night before we had made lunches and pancakes for breakfast. I even had the kids pick out their clothes so we wouldn't have any issues there.

We managed to get all ready and out the door on time. We took Little J's first day pictures and headed off on our bikes. 



We took Little J to the gym to find his teacher. We finally did among all the other Grade 1 and 2 kids and parents. It was packed in there. His teacher seems nice and we gave him a hug and left.


After school was all about popsicles :) Little J told us bits and pieces about his day. He was thrilled when he didn't have to speak French in French class. I think he's in for a shock!


The next day was Little K's intake interview where we went in to her classroom with three other kids and their parents. She has the same teacher and 1/2 ECEs. Her room is right across the hall from her room last year. The biggest difference is that they've combined the JK and SK classes so they took her class from last year and split it in 2 and the JKs will make up the rest of the classes.

She knows what's going on and it's so much less stressful knowing she'll be okay.


Thursday morning, Little J's birthday, was Little K's first day so we got all ready and took her picture.



The four of us biked to school and both kids went off no problem. Such a relief!

You'd think J and I would do something special to mark the occasion but he went off to work on the shed he's building and I went to a postpartum shift.

We collected the kids at the end of the day. Other than little blips here and there, things have been going well so far. I like the routine to be honest, and I think the kids do too.

Hope back to school went smoothly for you too!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Our week at the cottage

It wasn't planned, but I took a break from writing this summer, in case you hadn't noticed :)  It's September, the kids are back in school, the mornings are crisp and I'm getting the urge to write again. There's something so nice about sipping a hot cup of tea while clacking away on my laptop.

So what did we get up to this summer? I had big plans (remember my bucket list?), but we ended up not doing most of the activities because I had to work a lot. The kids spent time at summer camp and with J's parents, and stayed with me the rest of the time.

The highlight of the summer was our week at the cottage. The weather was PERFECT! We saw family, we ate well, we swam every day.. it was probably one of the best times at the cottage I can remember.

I figured I'd jump back in to blogging by sharing pictures from that week. Soon I'll get you all caught up on what else we've been up to including other fun summer stuff, back to school, and Little J's birthday.


The obligatory we're-all-packed-and-ready-to-go picture. What you can't see is Sandy in the trunk.


We stopped for lunch half way there and opened the hatch so Sandy could sniff the air.


Minutes after arriving, the kids and J were in the lake!



We were treated to gorgeous skies all week!


Wilson the boat was put in the water.


When the kids ask mom to get in the water, she sometimes does. The bottom is ooey gooey so this is a big deal for me.


Fishing off the end of the dock.


We brought our slackline and had it set up all week.


It was a big family affair with most of J's dad's family up for the week. One of J's aunts organizes Olympic-like games where we compete for a big trophy. I'm not kidding, there's an actual trophy. The games started in 2009 and have been played 5 or so times.

This year we pinned the diaper on the kids' new cousin.. only the youngest got to play.


We hulahooped.. not to toot my own horn but I'm pretty awesome!


My boys are pretty good too. Well, Little J kept practicing all week and got pretty good.


The water balloon toss was fun - Little K and I lucked out with a balloon that wouldn't pop so neither of us got wet!


After the games, everyone goes down to the lake which is sandy and shallow for a long way out.


Or we spent time in the pool, on the trampoline or at the kids' park.




More hula practice.


There's a little creek not far from the cottage so we went turtle hunting a few times.


Little K always wants us to match so here we are in our twin bikinis!


It was such a hot week that when we weren't in the lake or pool, we'd randomly dump buckets of water on ourselves.


Okay, these are the greatest: campire cones! Instead of super messy smores, you put marshmallows and chocolate chips in a waffle cone and put it on the bbq or fire to melt it all together. Amazingly yummy.



One day we took the boat from one cottage to another. (After a first failed attempt where J and his dad were almost stranded and had to sail the pontoon boat.)



And back again.


Under a super low bridge.




It was hot enough that I often went in swimming. Sometimes at the sandy shallow place near the turtle creek and sometimes right in the lake.



The kids and J always lasted longer than me so I enjoyed some sun while they swam.




I didn't take a picture of everyone, but there were over 20 people there so it was a busy and loud week. So much fun!