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Wednesday 27 November 2013

Thanksgiving Handprints

Thanksgiving is almost here again. In fact, Ava is already off school for the holiday.

We've been working on a few Thanksgiving crafts to decorate our apartment. Last year we made hand print turkeys and they were such a big hit with the kids. You can see them here. Both Ava and Lola were pretty keen to make hand print turkeys again. This year we decided to mix things up a little and rather than making just hand print turkeys we went for a whole Thanksgiving theme and made hand print pilgrims and hand print Native Americans as well.

Thanksgiving handprints on our front door

Sunday 24 November 2013

My favourite Christmas Ornaments

Christmas is sneaking up on us yet again. Can you believe it's only a month away?

We've had so much going on lately that I really haven't had a chance to to start organising anything for Christmas: no presents purchased, no photos taken for our cards, advent calendar not organised... The one thing that I do have ready for this Christmas though is a set of gorgeous ornaments ready to adorn our tree - you know, for when I get around to organising that too!

One of my good friends here in Berkeley makes the most wonderful Christmas ornaments I have ever laid my eyes on and I'm so excited to share then with you all here. Karina handcrafts whimsical elves, wreaths, snow globes, and ornaments all of which you can find on her Etsy store Kaniko; http://www.etsy.com/shop/kaniko.

My favorites have to be the elves. Their long pointy hats are reminiscent of Scandinavian folklore and their bodies made from the tiniest of pinecones are just perfect. There's a little magic in each one of these whimsical little characters. The elves come in a range of sizes (from 2" to 8") and can be hung as ornaments or used as a tree topper. The larger elves have bases for if you wish to stand them on a mantle or table.  The tiniest elves are also available as a brooch. So cute.

Set of 3 elves

Monday 18 November 2013

The Googleplex

Today we headed down to Silicon Valley, home of some of the world's largest and most influential tech companies. While down there we visited the headquarters of one such company: Google.

Google's corporate headquarters, known as the Googleplex, sprawls over a large area of land and features many low rise buildings. We had a bit of a drive around looking at the buildings, but the main attraction, especially for the girls, was the collection of Android lawn statues located in front of Building 44. The statues were a huge hit with the girls as they're all based on the deliciously sweet code names of Android mobile operating system versions: Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean and Kit Kat. What kid wouldn't love statues of such delicious treats?

Here's a look at the girls with the Android statues. Oh, and that silly hat that they're wearing? That's a "Noogler" hat given to new Google staff, otherwise known as "Nooglers". Hats with propellors are always the best!

Lola in a "Noogler" hat with the statues

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Ava's Travel Journal

We've already had a look at all the fun we had on our recent trip to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec and New York but now I thought I'd show you our trip from Ava's perspective.

As Ava was away from school for almost two weeks she was given a pack of school work to keep her busy and to prevent her from getting behind in her work. Part of her work pack was keeping a travel journal. This was a great way for Ava to document her favourite parts of our trip and to practise her writing.

Here's a look at our trip through Ava's eyes...

"I went on an airplane. I flew to Ottawa. I watched 1 show then I went to sleep."

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Dr Lola's diagnosis... It's a baby!

"Dr Lola, there seems to be something up with my belly. Can you tell me what it is?"

"Hmm... Let me just check with my stethoscope, Patient Mummy."

"Just as I thought... It's a baby!"

Thanks to Dr Lola's diagnosis (along with that of actual real doctors!) I'm very happy to announce that the Mason family will have a new member joining us in late April 2014.

We're all very excited and can't wait for our little one to arrive. Ava and Lola can't wait to be big (and bigger) sisters.

So far I've been feeling pretty good and the baby is a healthy size and right on track for growth.

After all the bad luck the first half of the year had in store, it looks like the second half of 2013 has turned around for us. 2014 is looking pretty good from here too!

Saturday 9 November 2013

Claymation Fun at Children's Creativity Museum

Yesterday Ava had the day off school so we decided to head into the city.

We met up with some friends and headed to the Children's Creativity Museum. As we arrived kind of late in the day (the girls had medical check ups and flu shots in the morning) we didn't have much time to explore the whole museum. Instead we headed straight to the Animation Studio and created our very own claymation movies.

Now, the girls and I visited Children's Creativity Museum during the Summer vacation last year but for some reason I never got around to writing a post about it. Last time we visited we created a claymation movie as well so this time around Ava thought herself quite the little expert! In fact, she actually did make her claymation character without any help and filmed the entire thing on her own too. Might have to send her down the road to work at Pixar!

Here's a look at our claymation fun...

Ava makes her claymation penguin.
Start with the "guts" and cover it with a coloured "skin". 

New York City: Part 3

Our last full day in New York was a busy one. We certainly crammed a lot of fun into a short time!

We started the day with bagels and coffee (how else would a day in New York start?) and hopped on the subway to Brooklyn. Seeing Manhattan from across the water is always amazing and the girls were pretty excited that we were a little bit closer to the Statue of Liberty. They desperately wanted to  go visit their favourite green lady up close however we just didn't have the time on this quick trip. Our view of her from Brooklyn was a pretty good one and the girls were happy with that.

Ava's favourite green lady

What a view

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Sugar Skulls for Day of the Dead

Today Ava's class at school decorated sugar skulls for their Day of the Dead altar.

The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a Latin American celebration honouring those who have passed away. The holiday is celebrated with candle lit processions and altars dedicated to the deceased. These altars are decorated with (among other things) candles, marigolds and sugar skulls. Ava's class has been learning about Day of the Dead and have created an altar outside their classroom. Today their altar was completed with the sugar skulls.

Sugar skulls were made in advance from a mould similar to the ones you can find here. The kids were then provided with bottles of royal icing in bright colours to decorate their skulls. Their teacher spoke to them about symmetry and the traditional patterns that are used on sugar skulls for Day of the Dead. Most of the kids tried to stick to making their skull decorations pretty symmetrical but quite a few of the skulls ended up completely covered in a mess of icing! 

Everyone had fun and the skulls look fantastic together on the altar.

Here's a look at Ava's class working on their sugar skulls...

Tuesday 5 November 2013

New York City: Part 2

Our second full day in New York got off to an earlier start. Tonight we'd be staying with our friends Daniela and Sam so we packed up what we needed for the night and headed from the east side to the west side via Central Park. The girls were pretty happy to walk through the park after being surrounded by buildings for the last few days.

Ava in Central Park

Lola in Central Park

Sunday 3 November 2013

New York City: Part 1

Back to the vacation posts...

After we collected our new visas in Ottawa we hopped on a plane (well, two planes) and headed to New York City for a quick visit with friends and to show the girls my most favourite city in the whole world.

We're very lucky to have good friends living in New York. And even luckier that they were happy to have us come stay a night or two - or three! Big thanks to Mylee & Richard and Daniela & Sam for putting us up and for showing us around the city they're all lucky enough to call home.

We arrived in New York late in the day and headed straight to Mylee and Richard's place for a catch up and a home cooked dinner. There's nothing better than a home cooked dinner when you're traveling. Don't get me wrong, I love going out for dinner but after a week of kid friendly restaurant food a home cooked dinner hits the spot.

We woke the next day to a beautiful morning; sunny with clear skies and just a hint of the approaching Winter weather in the air. I can't get enough of the views in New York. I would be happy to spend hours just looking out the window at the city. At home we have a good view over Berkeley, San Francisco and the Bay, but there's just something about the views in New York that takes my breath away. The colour changes over the buildings through the morning as the sun rose were stunning. My favourite thing about the view from Mylee and Richard's apartment was the fact that I could see the Time Warner Building which I like to pretend is my old home - I stayed there for three weeks back in 2006 setting up a condo for my then boss.

Golden glow as the sun rises

Just an hour later and everything's bright and sparkly

Friday 1 November 2013

Boo! It's Halloween 2013

Well, Halloween is done and dusted for another year.

The girls had so much fun dressing up and going trick or treating with their friends. This year both of the girls decided to go for slightly scarier costumes than they have in the past. Ava dressed as a vampire and Lola was a bat; a vampire bat, of course!


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