Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Santa 2012


Santa arrived on Friday, December 1st this year.

Our tradition is for the kids to put their wish list letter to Santa in their stocking a few days before Santa actually arrives, which we usually aim for a weekend around December 5th.  This year Matthew still believed in Santa and didn’t really seem to have any doubts about him, except to ask once or twice if Santa was for real.  When we asked him where he thought his presents came from he was content again to think it was Santa that brought them. 

The Wednesday before our gift exchange Matthew put his letter in his stocking and the next morning … tada, Santa had picked up the letter and left a few presents.  Kids made sure they were up on time that morning to check out their stockings.  Since I really rather not put too much candy in their stockings I try to get a little gift instead.






Matthew got a round baler for with his tractors













Rebecca received a bracelet; Marietta receive a razor and shaving cream (she’s dressed in her school gym clothes for the Volleyball Tournament which was that day)


On Saturday, December 1st we decided to go see the Santa Claus Parade.  Since the summer when Rebecca was on the 4H float in the parade (see here) the kids have had an interest in parades.  So off we went to see the local parade and gather a collection of candy canes.

Just before we left while the kids were waiting in the van Rob and I quickly put the presents in the living room and so when we arrived home Matthew discovered that Santa had stopped by our place on his way to the Parade and left some gifts.

We did a $5-10 gift exchange again this year (we all buy something for Matthew also but he’s oblivious to where they come from).  This year us girls pooled together and made a basket of items for Rob …some cologne, dutch stuff, work gloves.


As the girls get older and already have an over abundance of craft items and can be a bit complicate to decide what to get them, although each year we end up finding more then enough in the end.  Books is something that we give more regularly now and this year we gave the girls each some books that they can use for their nighttime devotions.  They aren’t necessarily devotions books, but church history books written for them to understand and so they can slowly work through these at night reading a page or two at a time.

Rebecca received 3 books written by Sinclair B. Ferguson about Irenaeus of Lyons, Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch.  Marietta received the book This Was John Calvin by Thea B. Van Halsema and Faithfulness under Fire by William Boekestein


Together the kids received the book Amazing Stories from Times Past, Devotions for Children and Families by Christine Farenhorst.  We have actually not read any of these books yet as we are currently working our way through the book A Message for You .  We would love to find more time to read but since the kids like to read them all together it doesn’t always work out to read a lot at a time and we find the current devotion has provided good discussions so there’s no hurry to work through it.


Rebecca received a new watch, waterproof this time so in the summer they aren’t constantly looking for or without it because they always have to take it off.  Matthew’s glee about receiving a whoopee cushion from Marietta … one the inflates on it’s own so no more slobbery gobber all over the thing … the last one only lasted a day, lucky us this one has already done just fine for two months.


A snow tube …this quickly became the new favourite once we actually received some snow.


Contigo Travel mugs and Water Bottles.  Rob gave me one of these for my birthday last year (okay, the package had two, but really he wanted one and figured I might like the other one).  Love, love, love these!!!  This is THE travel mug.  You want hot you got it.  My tea stays HOT (as in too hot to drink) for a good hour, warm (drinkable) for 2-3 hours, but 4 hours it’s might still have some heat … but it never lasts that long so I’m not sure.  And the better part … these things DO NOT spill!  Love it … just throw it in the purse right side up, upside down, whatever … no leaking AT ALL.  I just went to their website, I had no idea they had so many different options because I haven’t seen them all .. the ones the kids got is the only kind I ever see for travel mugs.  The prices on the website are interesting too since the other thing I was going to say about this product is that it is such a reasonable price.  You can get these at Costco, the travel mug comes in sets of 2 for $19 and the water bottles in sets of 3 for $19.  So there’s my sales pitch in case you haven’t heard of them (in this area they are very common)

So the kids each got their own travel mug.  I found that they were often using mine in the past year when they were sick as they were so handy for keeping their drink warm and not spilling.  I figured they would put them to good use for more reasons then just sickness (although the number of colds we’ve had this winter means they’ve been well used just with sickness … great for taking tea to school for a cough or sore throat)   Everyone in the family also got waterbottles … these are very well used for lunches and at home.

The kids open their gift


The mugs were Rob’s gift exchange item.  I put my gift exchange items inside the mugs … but they didn’t notice that the mugs were a bit heavy, so I finally had to suggest they check the inside of their mugs.  The


Matthew found dutch candies inside his mug … and this is his message to dad to say “they’re all mine, don’t touch”


The big gift did not arrive on time … even though it had said it would arrive a week already before we had gift exchange.  I was not too impressed about this since I would have waited for a sale if I knew they weren’t going to make it on time.  So instead the kids received a letter.

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Dear Van Middelkoop Family

I regret to inform you that one of your “biggest” presents was not prepared on time and will not arrive for a couple weeks.

After much thought and consideration about what present would be well suited for the entire family I came to the conclusion that instead of a trip away for a few days, or a special event, it would be nice to have a present that can be used to remember events and enjoy the past. The present was something that my elves could not prepare in my workshop and so I had to ask someone else to put it together. They were unable to have it completed by today but I knew you would love to have your other presents so I have delivered the other gifts for you to enjoy in the meantime.

Since it is a very busy time of year for me I thought the quickest way to get the present to you would be to have it delivered by mail and so you should receive another present in a couple weeks time. Hopefully you will enjoy the memories that it brings.

Much love,


Marietta quickly guessed what the gift was … the blog put into print/books. This has been a well enjoyed gift and while Matthew didn’t seem much interested at the time of the letter he is quite often found surfin’ through the books and looking at the pictures … in a couple years he’ll actually be able to read it.


The kindergarten class went to the firehall in November. The kids learned some basic fire safety but the more exciting part for them was getting to see the trucks and equipment


Fireman Matthew


Taking his turn in the backseat … can’t always be the driver


The antique firetruck from 1931, used in parades and shows and such


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rob’s family

In November we were able to gather together to celebrate Rob’s step-father’s 80th birthday.  We also took the opportunity to take a few photos that day.  They were quick snap shots, too many people for anything decent, but still a memory of how the family has grown.

Mom and Children. 


Back: Lynda, John, Rob, Heather. Front: Carmen, Mom and Ingrid. Missing: Cindy and Jay


I think the total count is 44 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild (the one Mom is holding) … there should be 39 of the grandchildren present in this picture … plus a hubby, finance and boyfriends.

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Mr. Pumpkin

The Kindergarten went on a trip to a nearby pumpkin patch place.  The place that they used to go to was no longer doing groups and so they tried a new place. I would say I don’t recommend the place, but the kids are young and probably did not see what the adults did, so they had a good time. Apparently this place has been around for about 20 years, basically it was a run down junk farm open for people to tramp around.  But the kids had a good time and that’s what counts … altho Matthew to this day continues to be confused about Haunted School Buses.  While the teacher tried to prevent the kids from going on it Mr. Pumpkin thought it was a great idea.  Matthew went near it and came back to me and I told him to stay off as I didn’t want him dealing with nightmares as he can be sensitive to dark and gloomy things.  He could see the skeleton hanging up and for some time asked why someone would hang that up, why wasn’t it buried, was it real, etc

Lincoln and Matthew


Visiting the animals


Corn Maze.  Since it was a drought year the corn was not very tall, as adults we could see over it, but at least for the kids it was talk enough.


We also went on a hay ride through the field.  Afterwards we came back to watch Mr. Pumpkin launch a pumpkin in his air cannon and try to hit a old truck out in the field.


You can see the end of the cannon on the right side of the picture and the truck on the left side of the picture in the trees.


Next the kids got a chance to ride on the Giant Spider Ride/Contraption made with old barrels.  Behind there you can see the barrel maze, which the kids played tag in for a little bit but the barrels were far enough apart that the kids could just run between them.


It was a morning out for the kids and they all got to take a pumpkin home.  They had a good time and came home with stories.

Goodbye Dash, Hello Pete

We can honestly say we tried it … but … we’re just not dog people.  It just wasn’t working for us.  It seems we have no luck with dogs sticking around.  After three attempts with dogs we faced that fact that we are not really dog people.

I think it’s because Rob and I both grew up on a working farm that we just assumed that if you’re in the country you should have a dog … a dog just goes with the country.  What we didn’t really think on is that because we grew up on farms where there was actually daily activity going on outdoors or around the farm the dog always had someone to follow or watch or protect or whatever it felt it needed to do.  The dog had the closeness of a human in one way or form, even if it meant just watching or following.  Our dogs could find warmth in the barn around the other animal or the work that went on there during the cold months, and during the warm months there were always things going on outdoors … plus we usually had two or three dogs at a time.

We really did think that Dash was a keeper.  He was a wonderful dog.  He loved the family and was faithful and protective.  He stuck around, listened well, was calm and obedient.  He didn’t beg or jump or get in the way.  He was content to just lay beside us if we were outdoors, just wanting to be in the presence of people.  He did well adjusting to be outdoors but he appeared sad.  He made it through his first winter with us but we often felt guilty because he looked so sad and lonely.  He didn’t get enough attention during those cold months.  The girls would try to go out with him each day but it just wasn’t enough for a dog that was used to be indoors around people all the time.  As summer came we were back outdoors again and the long winter was forgotten.

Throughout the summer we ran into a couple instances that made us a bit concerned when we realized just how protective Dash could be. Twice he bit when someone (not a family member) was fighting with Matthew, as his way of protecting Matthew.  We understood why Dash did it, but it was a bit discomforting.   As summer ended we began to wonder if we were being fair to Dash.  He seemed to thrive off of attention (as most dogs do) and though he got a fair amount during the summer he still appeared sad.  He was dealing with his new life as an outdoor dog but wasn’t content with it.  We debated what was best but that was as far as it went, until he stopped sticking around.  Third dog now that we have this problem with.  That last two dogs were fixed as this was suppose to lessen the problem, but no such luck.  Once Dash discovered the dog next door we couldn’t keep him home.  If we turned around he was gone and so he had to spend most of his time in the fence.  To me there is no point in having a dog if he’s just fenced up all that time … that’s no life for a dog.  When Dash decided to bite the delivery guy one day …. even though I was standing right there I lost most of my trust for the dog, always leary whenever someone came on the property as I was no longer sure what he would do. 

Rob tried his best to give Dash more attention and even allowed him to spend some time in his office while we were cleaning it out, but when he left the office for a minute Dash was gone.  We decided it was time to stop talking and to post him on Kijiji … he need a home where he could be indoors and around people more.  We were quickly able to find this home for him and we took the kids with when we brought him away so they could see where he was going.  There were tears and sadness to see him go, but everyone knew this was better for him.  He got a great deal as he can no be indoors but he’s still living in the country so he’s got room to roam, a pond to play in and can go on car rides again and with them to their cottage on weekends … I’m sure he’s not sad that he left here.

We have fond memories of the good dog that he was for us.  It’s unfortunately it did not work out, but we just don’t seem to be the people who can find the time for an outdoor dog and indoor is just not an option.

Goodbye Dash


Now we get to the Hello Pete  part.  I’m not sure Dash would be too please to know that he was traded in for a bird.

Pete is our new pet canary and one more to our liking.  Pete is in a cage and can be left in the cage if we want.  He can be left for several days without needing someone to come to feed him.   Pete doesn’t need someone to walk with him, run with him, pet him, play with him, etc.  Pete is quite content in his cage watching us and we quite like that Pete is nearby so we can enjoy him regularly.  The best part about Pete is when he sings, canaries sing beautifully.

Pete came with a 60 day guarantee.  We’re beginning to think Pete knows how to count.  For the first months we had Pete he sang ALL THE TIME.  Almost too much.  He especially loved to sing during Bible reading, prayer and psalm singing.  We loved his songs.  Unfortunately he has completely stopped singing.


We decided to try train Pete to fly outside of his cage.  It didn’t take much training really.  Canaries like to eat often and so he returns to his cage often enough that we can just close it once he comes back for food.  But now that he’s used to us and we’re used to him we know how to shoo him back to his cage … he’s not dumb, he knows what’s suppose to do.  He also knows that if we come near the cage when he’s just flown back in that the doors are going to close … we have to be fast or he quickly takes off again.

Not long after Pete was adjusting to his freedom of flying around outside of the cage he ran or should I say flew into a sticky situation … fly tape.  We have a continual problem with fruit flies or drain flies or some sort of annoying small flies and so we had fly tape by the kitchen window.  I guess it’s not just fly tape, it can also be called canary tape, for there Pete was, stuck to the tape.  Rob rescued him and he lost a fair amount of feathers out of the deal.  After that Pete didn’t sing near as much.  We read that if a canary is injured or in pain he will stop singing.  We waited for him to heal … but his singing slowly decreased until it stopped.  We recently noticed blood by his wings where they meet his body and since he had been scratching we started him on some mite treatment … too bad they didn’t tell us right away when we purchased him that canaries are susceptible (pretty much guaranteed) to getting mites …. would have saved us the hassle of disinfecting and cleaning everything as we would have just done maintenance treatment right from the beginning.  So Pete is just over a week into mite treatment and is looking a bit better … still hoping to hear him sing again :(


He’s still cute, even though he doesn’t sing … but really, we want to hear the singing!  When Pete comes out of his cage he usually heads for his favourite spots, the window near his cage, the floor by his cage to peck at food on the ground (as if he doesn’t have enough in his cage) and the table to clean the scraps out of the center crack.

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He starts on one end and works his way to the other side.  Usually he goes back over it one more time as well. It’s pretty cute!  He must get something out of there each time since he goes there pretty much every time he’s let lose.

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We’re still hoping Pete will sing again … should we tell Pete that just because the 60 days is up doesn’t mean we can’t replace him??

Soccer Tournament

While I was busy with Rebecca at the 4H Achievement Day, Rob and Matthew went to see Marietta at the Grade 7/8 Soccer Tournament.  I guess that’s the reality of life as your kids get older and need to be at different places at different times … you can’t keep them all herded under your wings all the time.  It was too bad they were on the same day, but at least Rob was able to go and watch.

The interesting part about the game this year was Marietta’s position.  Due to the Tournament being on the same day as the Guido Graduation not all students could make it, and the two goalies the team had would not be able to play.  This meant they needed a new goalie and something possess Marietta to try out for the position.  Turns out she’s actually pretty good as a goalie and so she found herself in the net … and enjoying it.

The feedback I got from the day of the games is that she did a real good job.  The kids had a good time and it’s a great chance to interact with the kids their age from other schools.  I don’t have pictures from the actual game day but I did get a chance to watch them play at the exhibition game that they had against JCS earlier that week.

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Marietta was also on the Grade 7/8 Volleyball team which had it’s tournament on November 29th.  I was unable to attend this because I was volunteering at kindergarten that day.  I did get a chance to see her play at the exhibition game against JCS, but I forgot my camera that day.  She still likes soccer the best, but found she enjoyed volleyball as well.

RCMP Musical

On September 12th the whole school went for their first Field Trip to the RCMP Musical at the Caledonia Fairgrounds.  The Fairgrounds were set up to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of the War of 1812.  During the day there were programs for the local schools.  The day began with a ceremony reflecting on the War of 1812, a rifle demonstration and some First Nation Dances/Singing and then proceeded to the RCMP Musical.  After that the various schools split into groups/grades and attend different workshops that had been set up as well as had a chance to go see the horses in their “stables”

Watching the musical … it was really amazing to watch, they did an great job.

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I was a leader for Rebecca’s class.  Here they are learning how to hold and shoot a rifle.


Good old fashion game of tug-a-war.  Grade 7 girls against boys.  You can guess who won, but the girls put up a pretty good fight.

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Grade 5/6 against Grade 3 (with the help of Mitchell)

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Fair Fun

Since we had to pay to get into the fairs to see Rebecca show her Mini we decided to put that fee to work and enter into various other categories at the fairs.  There is no fee for Juniors to enter and the fee for an adult is the same as an entrance ticket and with the membership comes a (free) entrance ticket.  So the kids set to work to put together some entries and I even got a bit involved and entered a few things as well.  Next year we’ll be better informed about how this all works and not wait until the last minute to get things together (I hope) and decide what to enter.

We all entered in the Binbrook Fair and Rebecca and I entered the Caledonia Fair (Marietta was just too busy with homework at the time), mostly in the baking and photography categories but the girls also in the sewing, vegetable and a few other junior categories.  Marietta’s pictures seemed to have disappeared where she took photos of her winings, but suffice to say she did fairly well in most of the categories she entered  and came back with a few dollars in winnings.  Rebecca did not enter in quite as many categories as Marietta but she also came back with some winnings on her baking and sewing.

I also managed to pick up a few prizes, including a various firsts in the baking category – for Allergy Alert recipe (gluten,egg and milk free), Gluten Free Cookies, Gluten Free Bread,   The kids favourite banana muffins also won first, I can’t remember what else there was but various other baking and photos came back with prizes. 

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We spent the day as a family at the Binbrook Fair. Once Rebecca was done her showing we checked out how our entries did.  From there we carried on to check out a few other things happening there, the animals, samples,magic show and singing contest, which Marietta had wanted to enter but we couldn’t get it together quick enough.  She was disappointed that she didn’t because there were only two entries in her level and she could have easily gotten 2nd place and took home $50.

The kids each got a free balloon from the clown … was really neat to watch how quickly she wiped up the creations.  Matthew got a sword with a belt to hold it.


Rebecca got a butterfly that was a bracelet and Marietta a flower.


It’s no wonder fairs are not that well attended anymore.  At the price they charge for one ride who is going to be crazy enough to spend money there when they can get all-inclusive bracelets at amusement parks?  It is absolutely ridiculous … but I had promised Matthew he could go on one ride, so he took his pick.  While the girls could completely understand the waste of money of going on the rides this concept was beyond Matthew who was rather disappointed that he had to make a choice between all the different options.


Country Bumpkins off to butcher the pig …teehee  :)  (We love you Rebecca, really we do!)


We came back in the evening for the demolition derby.  This is the first one any of the kids had watched and was especially a thrill for Matthew, he was just giddy with excitement and all his dinky cars were involved in demolition derbies for the next weeks.