Christmas in PEI (sort of)

PEI, Summer, 2013

The Plan was to head over to PEI for the big Brown family Christmas party. Matt's father is from there and almost all of his siblings and his parents still live there. Every year they throw a big family party on the first Sunday after Christmas. We didn't make it over last year, so we were pretty keen on making it this time. But, after two long trips, three illnesses, too many miles and gas fill up to count... it just didn't happen. We're all a little bummed about it. Everyone was looking forward to it but we just couldn't bring ourselves to get in the dang car.

Matt comes from a big family, I don't say that lightly, he's the oldest of ten. His Dad is also one of ten. To say there are a lot of Browns is an understatement. That's why the Christmas party is so important. Its the whole fam damily, including 50 grandkids and 30(?) great-grandkids. And these folks know how to party. Almost all of them are musically inclined - including Matt - and the aunts sure do know how to potluck. There are two new great gandbabies this year, just in time for the party. I was really hoping to snuggle them. Probably for the best though, that new baby smell is dangerous.

Great-Grammie and Granddaddy, they are the sweetest couple. In their nineties, married for 65 years,  but able to remember everyone's names and what they're all up to. I don't remember everyone, so I have no excuse. I must ask Grammie for some tips, gal is on the ball. We're planning on going sometime next month instead, it'll be a little easier to catch up and some space between trips is better for everyone's sanity.

PEI, a magical place, where my children play nicely with one another.


A Very Brown Family Christmas

*Warning: world's longest post*

Santa came to visit us, we took lots of pictures. Here are a bunch if you're interested...

The babes opened their presents from us and each other on Christmas Eve, first gift was their matching candy cane jams.

Santa left some elves behind to set up a very special present the kids, at 3 a.m. they had finished. Do elves get overtime?

Presents were left under the tree in the nursery for the babes, stockings were by the tree in the den along with Momma and Daddy's gifts.

We had a pretty relaxed morning, babes slept in until 8, took us an hour and a half to open everything,  (we're a pokey bunch), a big brunch and a Christmas movie later and it was time to hit the road. Christmas dinner was at Grammie and Grampie Brown's house, along with more gifts. Everyone was there, even uncle Ben, who had been away working the last few months. It was a full house, fourteen of us altogether! The next morning, we were the first ones up so we soaked in the quiet and had our breakfast, just the four of us. Once the rest of the gang was up it was time to play Catan, as you do in the Brown house. Three hours and a few minor fights later, the men emerged from the sunporch.

Aunt Anna made Max a T.A.R.D.I.S. and a sonic screwdriver. They are amazing. So is she. He's pretty smitten, we couldn't fit it in the car so Grammie will have to deliver it or maybe it'll fly here on its own.

Even with all the travelling, sick babies, cramped car rides and grumpy toddlers, this was the best Christmas yet. I'm sure I say that every year. Hope you all had a lovely holiday too!


Merry Christmas

 Just checking in to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays etc. it's chaos here, so you'll forgive my absence today. Too much excitement and candy and all that.

Lots of love and joy from the Browns


Christmas in Cape Breton

Matt started his vacation on the 18th (for the whole, freakin' rest of the year, can I get an "amen"?) and we headed straight to Cape Breton to celebrate Christmas with my family there. It was only 4 days, but it was a doozy. Essentially three different Christmas' on one tiny island. We stayed at my Grandparents, Nan and Pops, because they have the most room and they always seem to get first dibs on the littles.

We exchanged gifts with my grandparents, Nonna (great aunt) and Gram (my Mum), who's coming up to Halifax for a month right after the holiday to stay with us, but wanted them to open their presents while we were here, anyway. The littles got a snowman kit, so the boys made it their mission to make the best, most impressive snowman that ever was. Basically. I think it's the bees knees, but what do I know.

Next up was Christmas at Papa and B's (Dad and Stepmom). We rarely get to see them so when we do, it's extra special. AND I got to love on my smartypants sister, who has been away studying Criminology, puts me to shame! They gave us a juicer. I mean... What?! I have big plans for this juicer, I'm going to cleanse in the New Year. I'll be in the best shape of my life in 2014! Or, I'll drink way too much juice. Whatever, it'll get used, is the point.

Our plans were snowed on, both the day we were supposed to leave, and the day we planned on coming home. Also, E had a stomach bug and threw up for an entire day. Besides all that, it was so much fun, I wish we could do it more, but a five hour commute, with two kids is not my idea of a good time. If it's yours, then what's wrong with you tell me your secrets?

I'll do a second part to our trip to fill you in on details, a lot happened in a short amount of time and my brain is basically mush at this point. Oh, and we still have our own celebrations, Matts parents, and a trip to PEI to visit Great-Grammie and Granddaddy Brown. I hope Santa has lots of wine in that sack. I'm going to need it.


The Christmas Tree Farm Revisited; And Introducing…

Good Evening Internet,

Before we begin I feel it important to declare the following: The Organic Seasonal Decoration depicted below is not to be considered a “tree”. The gentleman at the Christmas tree farm said as much himself, preferring not to refer to it as a tree due to its size.  Not being a tree, the decoration cannot be in violation of any building rules regarding natural Christmas trees.

Clearly not a tree.

Also, I’m Matt.  I have a beard, and frequently work away from where I live.  A few weeks ago Carla and I took the kids to a Christmas tree farm in neighboring Hants County. While photographing the adventure I commented that I might like to write a guest post.  And here you find me.

In neighboring Hants County, a short jaunt up the 101 from Halifax, lies the lovely rural community of Mount Uniacke.  In Mount Uniacke reside a brave couple who have risen to the daunting task of domesticating their small acreage, wrestling the pines, firs, and spruces into the submissive and orderly garden that is a Christmas tree farm.  Having grown up in a rural community myself, and having spent no small part of my childhood running through the forest, I find the sight of trees growing neatly in rows a bit odd.

Max however, is a child of the suburbs.  And being loosed upon the wilderness with the only instruction of finding a tree decoration to cut down is a situation that fills him with a vicious excitement.

Arborist's are in demand.  Skills shortage and all.

As it was very cold and we were poorly dressed, our trip consisted of a short lap around a few strands of trees, hoping to locate a suitable victim as quickly as possible.

A first.


Also, this was Max’s first opportunity to play in snow this winter.  An opportunity he celebrated by covering himself in the white stuff, and throwing a goodly portion of it at his mother, sister, and I.

There were also sheep.

Having successfully smuggled our new friend into our home, a struggle involving no less than 3 SWAT turns and a mad dash up multiple flights of stairs, the kids took to polishing her up with wild fervor.

Max, unable to reach the top unaided, decided the best course of action would be to leap from the rail of Ellie’s crib, and crown the tree as he sailed by.  We talked him out of it.

Additional photos follow.



I'm a list maker, I always have a notebook full of them. Grocery, to-do, reminders, things I want to tell Matt when he calls. Max has noticed my lists and started making them too. He grabs a piece of construction paper and a pencil and walks around the house "writing" things down. He'll stop, pensively and put the pencil to his lips, or stick it behind his ear.

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but it's a baby selfie, so...
Last night he asked if we could make a list for Santa, but he wanted me to write it because he wanted to make sure the big man could read it. He talked about maybe listing off his favourite reindeer, in order. Or maybe, the things he wanted to see when he got to the North Pole (he's been talking about visiting the poles to see Santa in the North and penguins in the South). But he ultimately decided on a simple Christmas wish list. He even got Ellie in on the action and was asking her what she wanted. She's really good at miming so she had a few things added to the list and he improvised the rest.

This is their list:

"Max's Wish List

+ Hot Tub

+ Repulsor Rays

+ Bubblebath

+ A baby brother (with a curl in the middle of his forehead)

+ Wolverine Claws

Ellie's Wish List

+ Baby

+ Hat 

+ To be a cat 

+ Trampoline (Max's addition)

+ A Teensy Bike (also Max's addition)

He's going to sorely disappointed come Christmas morning, when none of those things are under the tree ha! What 3 year old asks for a hot tub? Only Max.


Our Weekend 004

This weekend was cold. So cold. Winter has finally arrived, out of nowhere, we went from rainy, mild temperatures to full on winter. Even a snow storm thrown in. Just for fun.

We left the house once all weekend. It was glorious! Dinner with friends, hot food and good company to make up for having to brave the cold. We have a standing dinner date with the best friends in the world. We alternate hosting, each week. We've been doing it since we moved to the city, last year and we almost never miss a week. Even after I had Ellie, we came home from the hospital and had a dinner party. Party is a bit of a stretch. We eat, drink wine and veg. Is that a party? It's my idea of one.

We came home that night, with two sick boys, who promptly went to bed and slept for 12 hours straight. 12 hour sleeps are unheard of in this house. With the house quiet, I decided to educate Ellie on my spirit guide Nora. We watched Heartburn and ate cookies. She stayed awake for the whole movie, just sitting there quietly, taking it all in. I'm really looking forward to more nights like that, just E and I, not worried about bedtime or late night snacks. Even though I wasn't feeling sick last night, I woke up feeling better the next morning. Nora's good for the soul, so is a girls night, every once in a while, I think.

So, Sunday rolls around and we wake up to a snow storm! Our first real snow storm of the season. Awesome excuse to stay in your jams all day. Bake way too many goodies that you shouldn't eat and drink an unhealthy amount of hot cocoa. Matt taught the kids funny Christmas songs, and told ridiculous stories. The littles helped us make bread and soup for dinner and we ended the day snuggled on the couch, under a big blanket, watching Doctor Who Christmas specials. Being snowed in was the best way to end the weekend. Stick around Winter, we like ya (for now).

P.S. Recipe for the oatmeal bread found here.


A Letter to Santa

I helped Max write a letter to Santa on behalf of he and Ellie. He was so sweet, dictating exactly what he wanted me to write, reading it back to him as he nodded his head in approval. He drew a picture to include but it was for Santa's eyes only. We addressed it to the North Pole, and Max assured me that the elves would deliver it directly to Santa.

In case you can't read my chicken scratch,

"Dear Santa,

My name is Max, I am almost 4 years old. I have a little sister named Eloise. We have both been very good this year. 

My favorite reindeer is Rudolph, Eloise's is Comet. I like Star Wars, do you have a favorite character?

For Christmas this year, I would like a web shooter, just like Spiderman. Eloise would like mittens and a hat.

Mommy is going to help us bake cookies for you. There will be milk, if you're thirsty.

Merry Christmas Santa


Max & Eloise Brown"


Museum of Natural History

So, we have sleep issues in our house, E only sleeps on top of someone (usually) and Max hates going to bed. HATES it. We started bribing him, like good parents do. I was out and Matt was in charge of bedtime and struck a deal with Max so he'd go to sleep. He got to pick what was for dinner the next day (chicken fingers and salad!) and the days activity. Max chose the Museum of Natural History. Smart kid. We have a family pass, so not only did it make him happy, it was freeish.

They had a Gold Rush exhibit on display and it was probably super interesting but you'd have to ask Matt, he watched all the videos, devoured the whole exhibit, while I made sure Ellie didn't knock anything over. Still a fun way to kill a Wednesday morning. They have permanent exhibits, and reptiles too so even if the littles aren't interested in the new displays they can look at frogs. Gus the turtle, the 91 year old mascot for the museum was out for a walk while we were there, so we got a chance to touch him! Well, E and I touched him. Max wanted nothing at all to do with him. But that's OK because he saw "penguins" - they were puffins - so he was still over the moon.

Tonight when I was putting Max to bed I asked him what his favourite part of the "newseum" was and he said "Showing Ellie all the cool stuff!". Swoon. If there were such a thing as a best big brother award, Max Brown would win. Every year. I also asked him what we needed to do for him to go to bed, and schemer that he is, he replied "I want to go to Target to look at toys.". No arguments there, kid.

More pictures of the littles enjoying the museum, after the jump...


Our Weekend 003

We had a really fun, low key weekend. Matt was only gone for five days last week so it barely even seemed like he left. He came home monday night with flowers, "just because". Which are the best type of flowers to get, if you're asking me.

On Saturday, Max had a movie date with his Aunt Kim, they saw The Muppet Christmas Carol. I took advantage of that time to wrap some gifts while watching Love Actually, as you do.

 That night we had a few friends over for dinner. Matt roasted a chicken and veggies and once the littles went to bed we drank wine and watched lip sync offs (it's long, but completely worth it) for an embarrassingly long time. Is there anything better than food, wine and friends? Nope.

On Sunday we decided to rebel against or buildings "no real Christmas trees" rule and go out and get one anyway. We went to the cutest little U-Cut and chopped down our own. I chopped down our Christmas tree. Me. All by myself. Not to take away from the situation, it's a 3 foot tree, but even still. It was major. They had saws there to borrow, and we only wanted a small one for the nursery. Max and I picked it out, chopped it down and carried it to the car. I'm practically a lumberjack at this point. Matt's actually planning a post about it for later in the week, since he was behind the camera this time.

Matt is only working away four days the rest of this year, so we're feeling pretty spoiled and he has the last two weeks of the month off for vacation! December, you're too good to us.


That's a funny hat, Eloise

Upon first meeting E, everyone comments on how serious she is, and asks if she's always like that. We always reply, "Yes." because she is, when we're not at home. At home she's a big goofball. She will do anything for a laugh and if she gets one, she won't stop. She's a troublemaker too, storming into Max's room while we're trying to get him to sleep, running away from a diaper change while belly-laughing and hitting Max with whatever's available when we aren't looking. Her biggest laughs always come from putting something on her head, and waiting for us to say... "That's a funny hat, Eloise", and she waits there with the biggest, most mischievous smile. When we do say it, she busts out laughing and then does it again, and again. So, here are a few of the "hats" and costumes Ellie has put together in order to get us laughing, she may have a future in comedy.

Wearing someone else's unders gets the biggest laughs

look at that smirk!

Silly Boop.



We're big readers around here, novels, magazines, comic books, newspapers, the whole nine. It's one hobby we can all enjoy separately or as a family, especially when Matt reads and does the voices. They're pretty spectacular. It's how we spend lazy afternoons, early mornings, and the hour between bath and bedtime.

Max mostly "reads" on the iPad, and has all his favorite books memorized, which he now reads to E. If we haven't seen them in a while it's because they've raided the bookshelves, not because they're shaving the cat or lighting the couch ablaze. We won the lottery in the kid department. E has even started choosing which books she was us to read at bedtime, which is just. the. cutest.

Luckily for us, we have a house full of books, a million (maybe not even an exaggeration?) on the e-reader and a library at the top of the street, happy babies, happy household! I snapped these pictures a few mornings ago, which is why the littles are still in their pjs, this is what they were doing while I was making them breakfast. Usually when you have little ones, and it's quiet, you should be worried, but not this time. They can keep you on your toes sometimes, in the best way possible.