Monday, 30 March 2015



Pine Tree Post | Family

Around the Place Under the Pine there is plenty of family time when everyone is gathered around the table for a meal, a board game, or just drinkin' tea. There are also many times when just two kids are together with Matt; the older ones playing Skip Bo while Oskie has a nap, or the boys playing mini stick hockey in the living room (don't tell Jen) with Matt. Rarely are there one on one times...and even rarer still - Oskie and Matt.
With one kid you have all the time you want to spend with them, one on one. With two it is halved (approx). With three there seems to be a different dynamic and instead of having a third of your time to spend with your youngest it ends up being much less. Which is why every small opportunity to spend with your third (or fourth or fifth...) is special - even if it just a quick trip out to the grocery store to get taco seasoning for dinner.
This weekend was one of those rare times when the stars aligned and found the girls off to see the new Cinderella movie and Elli off to play at a school friend's house...leaving Oskie and Matty to fend for themselves.
They decided to take advantage of the sunshine and head out for a hike. What a great way to spend an hour or two together.

 Hiking around with one little set of legs with you is relatively easy (says the veteran Father of three). It's when you have three explorers all going in different directions that things can get tricky!

Oskie is one of those 'off the beaten path' types. With a clearly marked trail, and instructions to stay on the path, he prefers to skirt the edges. Breaking new trails in the melting snow. Giving chase to the brave squirrels that linger near the clearings. Much like his sibling were at his age. However, he seems to be more observant than they ever were, spotting all the moving things in the woods and the trees - even stopping to listen when the birds tweet. For a novice outdoorsman he has some great instincts for nature.

 He also has outstanding stamina for a fresh faced two year old. Marching along at a good pace for a couple of kilometres before finally giving in and asking for lift.

Without the other kids around Oskie had a chance to stop and inspect every piece of grass or snow that interested him. He did not need to rush and run to keep up with the 'bigs'...although he still did 'run' most of the way. That is just his style.

What happens if I poke this grass in the snow for the fifty third time?

The two hikers managed to cover a big chunk of ground on their hike, through woods, fields, and waterfront.

Sunny fields

This temporary one child paradigm allows the personality and behaviours of the third child to really shine - like the sun.

The hike gave Oskie a chance to really voice his opinion, for eg when standing near the frozen shores of Lake Ontario he was insistent upon throwing rocks. Rocks, rocks, rocks, and more rocks. This simple request was intriguing to his Father. It showcased the many ways Oskie is different from the older children were at age two. Oskie is much more self reliant, he makes his decisions and entertains himself for much longer periods of time (with less). He can chat like a four year old. He never complains about being cold. He is so observant, he does not miss anything.
These 'one child' moments also show just how similar all of the children are - smart, cute, personable...all in their own way.

Looking for the perfect rock - the other fifty three he threw were perfect as well

Looking forward to spring

Wednesday, 25 March 2015



Pine Tree Press | Sports

The hockey season for six year olds is officially over. It has been for two weeks now. However, Elliott has yet to accept this. He is still suffering from a very bad case of Hockey Fever. Symptoms include dressing up in hockey equipment as often as possible, imaginative play revolving around a hockey theme, leaving gloves and a stick at the end of his bed to be 'ready for hockey' when he wakes in the morning...and one very rare and disturbing symptom - building a hockey rink!
Braving the cold and snow Elliott took it upon himself to dig through a foot of hard packed snow in the backyard until he made it to the thin layer of ice covering the ground. He then cleared away the snow in the surrounding ten square feet. No small feat for such a little guy. He was obviously overcome with his Hockey Fever and could not help himself. He then organized a small game with the only other children around, his siblings! This game, The Winter Classic, was fun and energetic. No injuries...although Elliott did have one awkward fall on his head before the game - helmets were made mandatory after that.

Here is some clips of the Winter Classic

The 'Classic' was a one night only affair as the next day the sun shone bright and melted away the rink. Coincidentally, the Hockey Fever seems to have subsided a little as the sun melts the remaining snow and ice. To speed the healing process Elliott has been prescribed a soccer ball and an open field.

Monday, 23 March 2015



Pine Tree Post | Travel

Over the past few years the citizens of the Place Under the Pine have started a tradition of visiting Ottawa during the March Break. Typically, they take a day or two to visit one of the many Museums and to go shopping. This year was not much different.
Thursday afternoon we found the travellers parked outside the Chapter's bookstore - not their regular haunt in Kingston - but, the location right in the heart of our Nation's capital. Why were they so excited to be there, at a typical looking Chapter's store?
The American Girl Store!
One of the three American Girl stores in Canada is right, smack dab, in the downtown Ottawa Chapter's store. The little boutique takes up a corner of the second floor and is crammed with a seemingly endless selection of dolls and their accessories - there is also a doll hair salon, in case your American Girl needs a new hairdo.
Over the next two hours the travellers roamed the store. Lolli was both excited and overwhelmed. Elli was intrigued and then bored. Oskie just wanted to ride the escalator...over and over and over and over!
The nice thing about the American Girl is you can find one that looks similar to you. In the shop there is a wall of dolls with all shades/colours of skin and hair to match almost anyone. It is both an amazing sight...and a bit creepy.

Lolli as an American Girl wall model

Lolli brought her doll, Julie, in for a look around. Julie is a throwback to the 70's. Her line of accessories includes things like rollerskates and record players.

Julie is the small one in Olivia's hand

Oskie had some fun playing around with Julie's stuff as it was right at his height.

The quality of the American Girl doll is outstanding, so it was no surprise that all of the extras that go along with these dolls were of top quality as well. 

The choice of add-ons was huge. There was everything from wheelchairs to ski equipment. There were many floor models that could be picked up and played with. This helped keep the boys entertained while Lolli picked through the hundreds of other choice things trying to decide what to buy.

The wheelchair has rubber wheels and brakes as Elli found out

The crutches, casts, wheelchairs, and basketball kept the two boys entertained for a long time

It was hard to convince Lolli to leave the store, but, after a lot of debate Olivia left with a new outfit for Julie (top, pants, shoes).

One outfit - $60 - Whoops!

Oscar even managed to get his fill of escalator riding and did not put up a fuss when it was time to go.

Escalator trip number 28 for Oskie

Another wonderful thing about Ottawa is the number of world class museums housed there. Directly across the street from where the travellers were staying was the Museum of History (formerly the Museum of Civilization).  A nice feature of the museums in Ottawa is that every Thursday night from 4-8 most of them are free. So, at around 5 the travellers made their way across the street and spent a few hours enjoying the Museum of History...which, strangely, houses the Children's Museum, which is an interactive trip around the world. Almost like a big playground filled with interesting climbable things from dozens of countries. Everything from the red phone booths of England to the Pyramids of Egypt.

Oskie called Grammy

Fun times in Thailand

Grinding corn in the deserts of Africa

Riding camels in Egypt

Climbing Bob the Builder?

Friday morning we found the travellers back in the heart of downtown Ottawa. This time they had one of Jen's cousin in tow - we'll call her cousin Jessica. A local of Ottawa, with some very high class connections, Jessica managed to secure a private tour of the Parliament Buildings for the travellers. Everyone was in high spirits as this was the first tour of Parliament for all of them.

Two years old and already climbing the stairs to power

Our tour guide was a wealth of experience and enthusiasm. With years of experience working on 'the hill' he told many interesting stories as lead them through the echoey halls. The guide seemed to know so many quirky facts about the numerous faces carved into the walls; who they were, why they were sticking their tongue out, why they were facing west...stuff like that.

Detailed stone work abounds in halls of Parliament
The guide opened many doors, both figuratively and literally. He opened the doors to the Floor of the House, but, also brought up the shooting that happened in October - which opened the doors to a lot of questioning later on by the children of the PUTP.

The Floor

The room that seemed to get the most reaction out of the travellers was the library. They were awed at the magnitude of it, and at the amazing detail in every nook and cranny. For a book loving family this was something to take a picture of.

It almost looks fake

The outside of the Library

As with most Canadians, the Senate drew little interest.

The Senate
The tour finishes on a high, literally, as the travellers climb up the Peace Tower (the big clock tower as you walk towards the Parliament buildings).

Outside, the day was bright and sunny, which many Canadians will know means it is freezing cold! This did not stop Elli from feeling the temperature of the water in the fountain of the eternal flame.

Fun fact - the water is still cold!

Overall, this year's trip to Ottawa was given thumbs up by all. A good balance of culture, consumerism, relaxation, and enough escalator rides to please everyone.

The classic tourist pic outside the Parliament Buildings

Wednesday, 18 March 2015



Pine Tree Press | Events & Parties

Lolli, whom some call the 'eldest', turned 9 this week. To celebrate this event the Place Under The Pine turned into a spa where Lolli and her friends (and yes, her little brothers had to be there too) could come for a relaxing facial, a manicure, a foot scrub...all those wonderful relaxing things that happen at spas. Hot rocks were not included due to the risk of burns.

If you are familiar with the PUTP you would not have recognized the joint with all of the fru-fru decorations, relaxing nature sounds filling the air, and the unmistakable smell of nail would, however, be mildly surprised to know that the set up was done only hours before due to a hard hitting flu like sickness that struck every single citizen in the PUTP, except Oskie. Nothing like the power of the people to put together an event like this against overwhelming odds.

Tissue paper puffs - Pine Tree is seen in the background

100% cotton balls

The spa parlour is set up and ready

Handmade signs by Olivia herself advertising the amenities - pedicure, manicure, facial...

Olivia's Spa

The guests began arriving at 5:00 pm. They were provided a filling dinner and an some refreshing spa water.

Then guests were then invited to make their own lip balms.

A mix of luster dust and petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline)

Purple and pink dust made these balms shine

Unique names were given to the balms - Pinkalicious pink is shown above

After the lip balms were finished being mixed, jarred, and named, a customized facial mask was created by each person. The spa provided only the finest natural ingredients including ripe avocado, Balkan style yogurt, and organic honey.

Green is synonymous with health

Green facials

With facials underway the guests were escorted into the spa's parlour where they could relax, de-stress, and find some inner solace. Suitable snacks and magazines were provided.

Spa themed snacks

Painted toe cookies

Nail polish mallows

Foot soaks and scrubs were a well received part of the night's spa package.

The dirty feet brothers showed up just in time for a harsh scrub

Clean em'

Manicures were also a part of the evening, with many bright and sparkly colours to choose from.

Do you have Pinkalicious pink?

After this intense spa experience many of the girls found new reserves of energy which needed to be released - dancing energy, creative energy, pedicure energy...all types of loud, busy, messy energy filled the PUTP until the spa closed down at 9 pm.

Perhaps some practice is in order?

Olivia is now officially nine, with painted fingers and toes to prove it.

Olivia: Age 9 | Shown here with her new American Girl Doll