Chronicles of the O'Brien Family Adventures...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Haunted Pumpkin Festival

The Haunted Pumpkin Festival and corn maze are annual family events for us. This year, we attended on thanksgiving sunday. The day was warm but a crisp and strong wind kept us bundled for the first half of the day. By the afternoon we were striped back to our shirts. 

It was fun to watch Cai explore and have fun at the various treasures at Prairie Gardens. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Musical Theatre

This week has been a doozy of busyness in our household as the kids have been attending a Musical Theatre workshop for four hours a day. The experience was thrilling for them and lots of fun. They memorized lines and songs to the musical Newsies, all in preparation for a final performance for family and friends at the end of the week. 

They made new friends, developed skills and even learned new things about themselves. The final show was remarkably polished for one week's worth of work. Sean and I were much impressed. 

Sean took the day off work to see the performance (as it was in the afternoon) and we celebrated with Marble Slab ice cream (note to self: toddlers do not, I repeat do not, need to try bright blue cotton candy ice cream) and watching the Newsies movie before the kids headed off to grandma's house for a sleepover. 

On top of the theatrical experience and learning and growth, the subject matter touched nicely on industrial history: we discussed the evolution of unions, what scabs were and how children were - and in some places still are - used for cheap labor. Then of course the door was open for a discussion on homelessness as well! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Autumn Treasures

This has been such a spectacularly beautiful fall! The weather has been reminiscent of the most perfect days of summer while the trees have been basking in all their autumnal glory. No strong winds have driven the colorful leaves prematurely from the trees and most days we don't even need so much as a sweater. 

Last weekend my mom suggested we meet at Hawrelak park. Having not celebrated her birthday yet, my mind thought quick and with a "sure!" I began to organize an impromptu party. Gathering snacks and drinks, plates and utensils, napkins and a table cloth, we headed out to pick up a cake and additional trays of food. Arriving at Hawrelak I was pleased by how much space was open. It wasn't busy, despite the beautiful fall sunday. We quickly found a lovely picnic spot amongst the trees and set up the party. 

After we enjoyed our time altogether picnicking, we fed the geese by hand and mom and Doug took pictures of us around the lake. 


Last cello class I brought Summer with me to adventure down in the river valley. The previous class I had journeyed along paths between the trees down to the riverbank by myself and I knew Summer would enjoy it with me. 

We had such a lovely time together, and were surprised to find a fun treasure on the river bank. 

The swing was big enough for me to swing too, high and sturdy. It was bliss to swing on, looking out at the flowing river and gently setting sun. Moments like these feel like the very definition of happiness. 

We are so blessed with our beautiful lives. We know what is important in life: family and love and time spent together, with laughter and joy and nature all around us. Life is good!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Physics: Newton's Second and Third Law of Motion

Whizzing balloons and apples dropped from heights onto a knife make for a fun morning of physics exploration, as we discuss Newton's Second and Third Laws of motion. 

It's marvelous to watch the kids "get" it, helped through the physical examples.

There was a whirling jet car too. Although it was supposed to go straight, it spun around in circles instead. We got the idea. 

And by the end, they both learned their first physics equation: Force equals mass times acceleration or F = ma. 

Little Passports: England

Little Passports continues to be a much enjoyed program in our house. Some countries we spend more time on than others, but regardless, it's great to be introduced to each one and find it on a map. It's a start!

This month's package included a 3D puzzle of Big Ben! The kids were thrilled. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Millennium Place

Once a month homeschoolers gather to play and have fun at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park. This meeting has been going on for years but we had never joined. We had never even been there! Today we thought to try it out, in what will likely be a new routine. 

First off, we were so impressed with the pool. Coming out of the change room - which had spacious, sea themed private rooms for changing - we were greeted by what looks like a park play structure, in the water. Surrounded with water. Pouring with water. Slides all had water racing down them. 

And there were waves. The whole thing is a wave pool - my kids very first experience with one. It was much enjoyed. In the pool, there was also an entrance into a river, flowing fast and fun. 

Part of what was so fun was the ambiance. Hanging from the roof was an airplane, flying geese and cloud formations. Rocks formed along the sides of the pool, populated with Pelicans. Trees stood sentry near the walls which were painted sky blue with clouds and various nature elements. The back wall was painted with a large train engine, entering the scene. 

There was a divine hot tub of course, as well as copious amounts of floaties and toys, tubes and even canoes. 

Once Cai was well and truly done in the water, we checked out their play place. We were equally as impressed. It had the expected large play structure as well as a beaver dam room with buttons for nature sounds, and a cabin room, with a stove and sink, table and chairs and large play food. 

All the walls were painted in nature scenes here as well, giving a lovely feel. 

We enjoyed admiring the ice rink, decked out like an outdoor pond. Next time we'll plan to bring the big kids skates so they can have skating time while Cai plays in the adjacent play place. 

We decided Millennium Place was definitely worth the drive to Sherwood Park. And worth the cost. It is our new favorite pool and play facility. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Houseguest for the Week

It was really Summer's houseguest and one I was surprised she was so excited about. Summer has never been one to play with dolls. Nevertheless she was thrilled when we announced at Brownies that the special Brooke doll would get a chance to spend a week with each girl. She was particularly overjoyed to be chosen first!

The intention is to bring Brooke around with you for a week and record your adventures with her in the accompanying book. 

Summer took her task very seriously, writing a few sentences each day. Brooke didn't always actually go with us; even though Summer was excited about the idea, she didn't feel comfortable being seen in public with a doll. But she did carry Brooke around the house with her, had her join us for Reading Time, and even slept with her beside her. 

At the end of the week Summer brought the doll back to Brownies and handed her off to a different girl after we read out her entries into Brooke's journal.