Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ode to Gavin

Gavin is going to turn three in just over a month. And, that's so hard to comprehend. It doesn't seem too long ago that the adventure began - everything is still very fresh in my mind. But, I think an even bigger factor is that the fact that Gavin has always seemed younger than he is. You would expect a little boy of almost three to be running all around the house causing mischief. Gavin's mischief is all vocal. He has basically one volume - super loud. And, he's quite witty, always laughing at himself and asking, "that make you laugh?"

It's typically hard to keep a toddler contained. But, Gavin is not your typical toddler.

We strive to enable Gavin to do all the things you would expect a little boy to do. But, it's much harder than you might expect. You can't help but feel flat out mean when you confine him to a stroller for a whole afternoon out. I have somehow come to terms with the disgusting floors that he crawls across. And, it's not the multiples of pants that he goes through crawling across the ground (sometimes a new pair in one day) - it's the knees underneath that can't be easily replaced with $10. I too often feel as though I have become the ironic obstacle to his physical progression.

At the playground, he's slowly moved from being an inquisitive child at the slide to a shy little boy on the sidelines. And, it's heart-breaking. Even at a McDonald's Playland, kids trample him and then he sits out.

So, we continue to struggle to know what is best and how to make life 'normal' for a very special little boy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Autumn's First Day of School . . . Sept 2009

In Canada, junior kindergarten starts when you are four. So, little Autumn started public school a whole year earlier than I was prepared for . . . bus and all. As soon as we moved to Toronto, she began a preschool program in the fall. With a year of preschool under her belt, she was so excited to start elementary school. Her favorite little friend from preschool, Alita, rides the bus with her to and from the morning session even though they are in different classes. Ms. Shin is her teacher - and Autumn loves her and so do we. She's the youngest of the kindergarten teachers - and definitely has the most positive, laid-back attitude of the bunch. So, we have been very lucky.

Kindergarten students have a staggered start and they didn't assign Autumn her date until the day before. So, we counted down the days to her first day of school . . . and then added a day . . . and another . . . and then another day. She finally started school on a Friday.

She allowed me to actually fix her hair - just a little (since she STILL says Becky is the only one who can fix her hair . . . although we made the link by wearing a bow of Bree's that we somehow ended up with in our suitcase after a visit to Utah). And, I can say that her first day of school has been the ONLY day I have been allowed to fix her hair since. My little girl is a fan of wearing her hair down and straight.

We took her picture and then the whole family took her to school for her big day. And, we were all together when we picked her up, too . . . ready to celebrate with the first ever "First Day of School" cake . . . an official new Peterson tradition. Jeff and I put together a little bag of goodies for her each of her first few days - Smarties (the Canadian kind), pencils, the whole works. And, she used the backpack that Grandma Ranson gave her last Christmas.

The buses began running the next week. And, somehow, putting our little baby girl on a big yellow bus all alone was far harder than I was expecting.

She was so shy and sweet standing in line waiting. And, she looked too small to be getting on the bus. Her little brother was pedaling around on his trike - taking it all in.

Autumn has strong opinions about picking out her own clothes - and wanted a dress and her fancy shoes. And, I'm a big supporter of letting her wear what she wants. This is a battle that I won't fight. She insisted on wearing those fancy shoes daily until her teacher encouraged her to try tennis shoes on gym days.

I, unfortunately, was the only Mom crying at the bus stop. Right before this picture, she flashed the sign for "I Love you" - something we always do whenever we leave each other. And, well . . . it's something I hope I never forget. Kids grow up far too fast.

It's funny that you can see me in the reflection . . . trying to be a big girl for my little girl.

And, now, she's already starting to read and has been bumped up to Senior Kindergarten for all of her activities. Our spit-fire, fearless little girl . . . we couldn't be more proud.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

J'adore Paris

It's still hard to believe that Jeff and I went to Europe together this summer. Going to England and France was just something we talked about doing one day when the kids were older . . . it was a distant dream. I am so lucky I have a job (and lots of Sky Miles) that helped make it a reality. Finally . . . here's some of the proof.

After the meetings in Munich, all of the Ancestry country leads then flew back to London for an International team meeting. Jeff met me there. Unfortunately, I worked late into the night he arrived and we took the 5am train to Paris (the front desk asked multiple times to confirm that we were calling at 1:30 in the morning for a wake-up call just 2 1/2 hours later). We spent a fabulous weekend in Paris and then took two trains directly to Bath, in the heart of the Cotswolds. I'll provide more of the details, but for now I'm beginning with Paris.

If you've never been to Paris, and you want to know if you might like it . . . don't ask Jeff. I, on the other hand, knew as soon as we surfaced from the underground train station that I was going to LOVE Paris. I adore the beautiful old buildings that don't have straight walls, the bread and stinky cheese, the sexy women and their gorgeous clothes, the people that come out in droves to line the banks of the Seine with their picnic baskets, and the attitude that you should experience life and enjoy friends in the afternoons.

Sitting in the grass, watching the sun go down behind the Eiffel Tower had to be one of the most amazing things I have experienced. But, that's me . . . not to diminish my Paris experiences in the least . . . but, me loving Paris is similar to me loving sporting events and concerts. I thrive when I am surrounded by carefree people that are enjoying the moment. Those are the moments where I long to live. I love Paris.

Every night, people gathered to play the guitar, drink wine, and hang out with friends.

We took a boat cruise down the Seine to celebrate our anniversary. The timing was perfect. The sun set as we were on the boat.

Notre Dame was absolutely beautiful. My friend, Janell, told me that some of the most beautiful places in Europe were cathedrals and cemeteries. She was right. The details are stunning.

Jeff loved this sculpture with the man holding his own head. This one's for you, babe.

The Louvre. We were randomly flipping through a travel book early one Sunday morning and saw a note that said the Louvre offered free admission on the first Sunday every month. So, we were able to justify breezing in to just catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo - although we still had to walk a few miles and dedicate a few hours. The Louvre is massive.

We passed this poor little car every day. It never moved. It couldn't.

On the hour, every hour starting at dusk, the Eiffel Tower lights up for 10 minutes or so. That was my favorite part. It mixed my love for Christmas lights with Paris.

We met up with my friend, Mike, and his mom for dinner one afternoon as they were visiting Paris. Mike and I were friends in the MBA program and have worked together now for five years. It was really fun to experience a Parisian night all together.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Nothing like a trip down memory lane . . . made possible by new memory added to our Mac. After months and months of not being able to download or upload pictures, it's amazing what 2 GB of memory can do for a computer with 30,000 pictures stored already.

In June, we had an Ancestry global summit in Munich. All the country and marketing leads had two days of long meetings with the Executive team. I know the pictures make it seem like it's one big party . . . but, I guarantee (as much for my family as anyone), we work around the clock. I didn't include pictures of the sweltering hot conference rooms or the disgusting bottled water . . . although I do wish I had photos of the hotel room. It was one of the nicest and most modern places I've ever stayed.

Despite me missing my family and hating to fly, I still feel so lucky every time I get to travel. And, a few of us are hard-core and try to cram as much fun as we can into a few days.

A view from the top of a huge hill we climbed after visiting the BMW Museum.

The park made for the 1972 Olympics.

I couldn't go to Munich without a visit to the famous Hofbrauhaus Munchen.

Those are giant-sized pretzels in her box. Yummmm.

I was able to arrive a day and a half before the meetings began - allowing for some sight-seeing around Munich and a day-trip to Salzburg, Austria - one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Salzburg was the home of the Von Trapp Family, made famous by 'The Sound of Music', as well as Mozart. So, I was super excited. The day was so rainy and dismal - but, I was traveling with some of my favorite people from work - and, everyone had a great attitude.

The last night of the conference we went out to dinner. Janell (on the right) and I are the only non-drinkers. So, it makes for real entertainment for us. And, my illustrious boss is in the middle.

This picture was taken at 3am in a bar in Munich. Honestly, it was so much fun. It's not often that I get to go dancing anymore. Julie, who works with me in Toronto, is on the far right.

Munich was an adventure. I wish I could have spent more time there . . . and I definitely am still regretting that I never ate a pretzel or a schnitzel (unfortunately, my fun-loving friends are not adventurous eaters . . . so, sadly, we ate German "Italian food" several meals).