Saturday, July 6, 2013

Strawberry Picking @ Fruition Berry Farm

Delicious, red strawberries - ready for the picking. They tasted as good as they look.
July 1st is Canada Day. We usually go to see the parade on Princess Street or join the festivities (face paintings, horse/wagon rides, min petting zoo) at the Grass Creek Park. This year, we went strawberry picking instead. There's a really great u-pick farm in Kingston - Fruition Berry Farm. It is not that far, only about 15-20 minutes drive from the house.

This was our first time strawberry picking in Kingston. We went once before... a long time ago while, vacationing in the UK. That time was not so great because it was at the end of the season. This time around, the strawberries were at their peak. There were lots to pick. It didn't take us long to fill our two 4-liter baskets. The strawberries are spray-free too, so we got to taste them while picking. They tasted great - sweet and fresh! These strawberries were probably the best strawberries I've had - kids and Roy agreed too. We'll definitely try to come again next season.

Our loot - kids had a great time
Melur enjoying a strawberry

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How Melur Got Her Email Account

Kingston's annual spelling bee contestants - junior level - Melur on the far  left

Melur had been asking for an email account. She said she's the only one in her class who doesn't have one. Roy and I were not sure about this. We were worried about spam - among other things.

Anyway, in the end I made a deal with Melur. She'll get her email account if she enters the Kingston's annual spelling bee and gets through to the tie breaker round. To get through to the tie breaker round, she needs to be able to spell all the words listed in the guidebook - about 300 words or so. She was happy to accept this challenge. We worked hard for about 3 weeks before the spelling bee. Here's how we went about it:

1. Melur went through the words for 1-2 alphabets every day. She'll write each word on a flash card.

2. I'll quiz Melur every night on the words from the flash cards. Roy and Arman also did this; basically whoever is free for that night helped. But whenever Arman did the quizzing, it usually ended up with the two of them screaming at each other **sigh** Melur would scream that Arman is pronouncing the words wrong and Arman would scream Melur's just making excuses for not getting the spelling right.

3. We went to the spelling bee practice. They had this about 4-6 times before the actual spelling bee. We attended the practice twice. The first time is just to see how it is, and Melur joined in the second time.

4. We also had a family spelling bee on the weekend. We did this once. Melur and I went one on one, and I think we drew. What can I say... the words are not easy ones.

Melur was a bit scared in the beginning, she became more confident  after the first preliminary round.

On the day of the spelling bee, Melur was a bit scared at first. But, she went through 5 preliminary rounds and spelled the following words correctly: tacit, uxorious, lithosphere, rectitude, and reconstructed. For the tie breaker round, she misspelled "reassurance" and that was that.

You can watch the YouTube video here.

We had a good laugh about this - they misspelled Melur's name - with double Ls

Roy and I are proud that she made it through to the tie breaker round. I asked Melur if she wants to do this again next year, and she said YES! Melur's goal next year is to win a trophy - so at least third place. She has to be a "big reader" for this. We'll definitely come back again next year for the spelling bee. Wish us luck!

PS - That night Melur got her own gmail account.

- Posted by ehaz

Monday, March 11, 2013

Movie: Oz, The Great and Powerful

Melur and Arman in front of the poster for Oz, The Great and Powerful

We went out to watch "Oz, The Great and Powerful" last weekend. The last time we watched a movie at the theater was in January for "The Hobbit" (I love this movie! Can't wait for the second one in the trilogy to come out). We also decided to try the new movie theater in town - Empire Theaters @ Kingston

Something new in town
The new Oz is not a re-make of the old classic, "The Wizard of Oz." It has its own storyline. You can think of it as more of a prequel. The movie focuses on how Oz became the ruler of the Emerald City. And a big part of the storyline is on how the Wicked Witch of the West came about.

Overall, I thought the movie is OK. I'll give it a 3 (an average on a scale of 1 to 5). The cinematography is great - very colorful. I think they did a great job here. It also has an interesting storyline. It doesn't really have anything extra special that would make it into a classic, but it is something that the whole family could watch together and enjoy. There was one interesting part in the movie, where Oz was going down a waterfall in his hot air balloon. Because of the 3D effect and angle, you could feel as if you are going down the waterfall yourself. I wish they would push for this type of angle/scene even more to make the movie interactive and make full use of the 3D technology. [Note: Roy thinks this idea is too weird ***hrmmmphh***]

My own takeaways from this movie are: (1) A bad man could turn a woman into a screeching green witch; (2) Life is unfair, you just give and give and give, and in the end he leaves you for a pretty blonde thang; and (3) If life is fair, the farmhouse and Dorothy would have landed on Oz instead.

Here are more reviews:

Roy: I was expecting a lighter movie, something more kiddy. The movie is a little bit heavy, especially for kids. I would rate Oz as average, overall.

Melur: Just average. I prefer "Rise of the Guardians."

Arman: A decent enough movie. They should have made it funnier.

Embracing Winter: Skiing @ Batawa Ski Hills

Melur - the smallish bundle of fuchsia and blue - at the end of the blue-square trail

Spring is almost here in Kingston. The weather is getting warmer (we moved from temperature below 0 C, to above 5 C). There's still snow on the ground, remnants of winter. But we now have more water puddles rather than snow. Yes, the snow is finally melting away!

I've been meaning to put up this entry for a while. Unfortunately, so many other things to tend to. But today I found the time (by slacking off). Anyway, this is a short entry on what we did on February 10th, 2013 - when winter was still at its peak. The four of us went skiing at the Batawa Ski Hills, which is about an hour away from Kingston. It is not a full-fledged skiing resort, "hill" is definitely an apt description. Batawa only has 6 downhill ski routes, but is the closest to Kingston and offers an affordable one hour skiing lessons. Definitely a great choice for us because we are mostly first-timers - only Roy has experienced skiing since he took lessons while in college.

Both of the kids were so excited in the beginning. During the lesson though, we discovered that perhaps skiing is not Arman and my cup of tea (to put it mildly). But Melur is a natural! She went down the bunny hill even before we took the lesson. She quickly graduated to the blue-square (intermediate) trail afterwards. It was exciting to watch her. I think if she had her way, she'll be going down the black-diamond (advance) as well.

Some pictures:

Roy before taking the skiing lesson - smiling as always!

Arman - tried to ski, but I think his knees aren't strong enough. He hates not being good at things. No worries, we'll try snowboarding in the future.

Melur and Roy using the handle tow to go up the bunny hill (green/beginner trail).