Our Christmas Newsletter

C Wilkinson 2006 click to enlarge
Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays! It is the festive season again. We have put in another busy year at our house. Here is an update on what we have been up to.

Our boys sure are growing up! Chandler finished off a great year in grade four and is now well into grade five. Grade five seems to be a big year; learning more self-responsibility, a heavier workload, and lots of extras like oral presentations and science projects. This big man turned ten in June and is very proud to now be over 100 pounds!

Chandler attends a small home group for catechism and is in his last year of Cubs. He enjoys being part of these groups. The Cubs are quite busy throughout the year with weekly meetings, tree planting, and fundraisers. They go to camp usually three times a year; including winter! In the spring they have a kub-kar rally; Chandler's favorite. It requires each cub to design, build and paint their own vehicle from a kit within the rules. The rally is held at a mall where they compete on long tracks. Chandler loves this event, as he is very much a hands-on kind of guy.

Connor had a very successful first year in French Immersion and now in grade two can pretty much say anything in two languages! By Christmas last year, his class was completely French; No English allowed. It's wonderful to see how fast they soak it up.

Connor turned seven in May and is in catechism this year preparing for First Communion (Mommy is one of the teachers). Connor is our soccer man! He played in our Stratford Under-8 division this summer for team "Subway". Many of his teammates were from his class and they had a team spirit that couldn't be beat! He now plays indoor soccer after school on Mondays and loves it. Connor is also enjoying his last year in Beavers. They are "busy" as well and even took part in a summer camp like Chandler. He got to stay up late and do all the "camp" stuff - Great fun!

Both boys enjoyed another summer of golf in Rustico with my Dad. He loves this time with them. They also took part in one of the "Future Links" camps for a week at Belvedere Golf Course. It was a fabulous program, very well run with lots of children. It truly is a great sport for them to be involved in. The boys took their two weeks of Red Cross swimming lessons in July at the CARI Complex at UPEI. It is a nice, new huge facility and they like it. Chandler's level this year was almost completely in the deep pool - lots of exercise! Connor's group was swimming like fish too. They got to try the deep water many times and he didn't take long to warm up to it. The first day for deep water was a nervous one with a life jacket on. It probably took all of three minutes until he was fine and that was the last day he wore a life jacket. Now we can't keep them out of the deep-end.

This summer, we were always on the go... parks, good ole Stanhope Beach, biking, bike rodeo, swimming, and the kids "Spud Fun Run" as part of PEI's Marathon weekend in October. In the midst of it all, we squeezed in our own little four-day family vacation to Cape Breton in August. We stayed in Margaree Forks, Baddeck, and Sydney. We saw the sites, did some beautiful hiking (our guys are great hikers!), the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Fortress Louisbourg, and the loop around the Cabot Trail. It was a very jam-packed fun trip.

Mark is never at a loss for something to do... Great Hobbies is as busy as ever with lots of website and software programming, future development, and an ever growing staff that I find hard to keep up with. In October we had an early Christmas in our basement. In a matter of four hours we had set up and tore down a full Christmas "set" with tree, decorations, presents, fireplace… the works. We even had Christmas music playing. All for a photo shoot looking for the right image to be used on the cover of this years Great Hobbies "Holiday Guide". Chris Wilkinson took the photos and Gary was the "stage" manager! It was lots of fun and the kids thought it was pretty cool!

Mark and his co-owner Gary and the Edmonton manager Jim Soutar hit the big trade Show in Chicago in October and went out to Great Hobbies West in Edmonton for a week in November. They had very productive trips. Great Hobbies is also sponsoring RC-TV, a radio control TV show on OLN on Saturdays... Check it out!

Mark is still heavy into the cycling, logging over 3,200 kms this year! He is now a member of the board of Cycling PEI and was part of the organizing committee for the North Cape Coastal Ride, which he also participated in. He will also likely play a role in this year's "Tour de PEI", a new tour stop of the elite women's cycling world cup. His computer expertise helped come into play here as well, as he has rebuilt the CPEI website along with a couple of others.

Mark took part in many other events: bike races, duathlons, Biking for Breakfast (a one day PEI tip-to-tip fundraiser ride, 275km in approx 8 hours!), and even cycled the Cabot Trail with a group of friends from the Island in September. The Red Cross Relay couldn't go ahead without Mark competing in the event as a "Solo" again this year. In October, he finished his third marathon beating last years time, of course!

With all the cycling that goes on around here, Mark and I took a "Road" Officials Course in June to better train us at running road bike races. Over the last couple of years we are gaining lots of experience. Mark is usually competing and I am there anyway, so I may as well be helpful. I have done many tasks: running registration, timing and recording results. It is fun and quite exciting. The cycling gang is another great group of friends!

Well, I guess that brings us to me. I continue to do some childcare part time; all boys - I am severely out-numbered. They are all great kids! I continue to be a member on the board of directors for CHANCES family center - I'll stay as long as they will have me. I have also jumped on board with our Stratford chapter of CPF (Canadian Parents for French). There are five of us that work together to organize fun social activities involving French for the students outside of school. I am a member of our Home and School and volunteer in many ways. I love helping out when and where I can; it is very rewarding to play an active role in our school.

I have also begun a little tutoring in the school with a grade three ESL (English as a Second Language) student from Korea. However, he is probably teaching me more that I am teaching him! This year I am "team-teaching" Connor's grade two catechism class - alternating with another parent every second week. I still find time to go to the gym whenever I can, with an altered workout as I have experienced lots of knee troubles in the past year... &^%#$&(! On top of it all, I try to keep this house and home in order.

We hope 2006 has been good to all of you. We wish you and yours a very wonderful Christmas with Health, Happiness and Love for 2007!



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

More pictures found at "Our Christmas Newsletter" »

Our Christmas Newsletter

M Bowlan 2005 click to enlarge
Happy Holidays from the Bowlan Family

Seasons Greetings! Wow, time really flies when you are having fun. It has been quite an exciting year at our house. We hope you have had a great year as well; here is an update on what we have been up to.

The boys are growing in leaps and bounds. Chandler had a terrific year in grade three and is so far doing the same in grade four. We are very fortunate to have such wonderful teachers. Chandler?s grade three year first? Chandler was part of his schools junior choir and we fully enjoyed his concerts. His teacher entered his class in the French Drama Festival in Summerside last May. They did a fabulous job presenting their short play in French. He has had a taste of doing research already, doing a paper on ?Frogs?, complete with a visual presentation all in French. Now in grade four, this is the first year for any instruction in English and in October his class began research papers on Heroes. They decided on what makes a hero and then made their choice on whom they would do their research. Chandler chose Lance Armstrong and presented his paper and poster to the class. He wore his ?LIVEstrong? t-shirt and handed out the yellow wristbands to his class afterwards. Chandler is still involved with Cubs this year. They did a little fundraising, tree-planting, attended both a winter and summer camp and various other activities. Ball practice started in June and he had another great season in the mosquito league. He also enjoyed his fifth year golfing at Rustico with Grampie. He practiced lots and even took out on of our shed windows? He can really drive them! Look out Tiger Woods!

Connor had a great year in kindergarten. He made lots of new friends and became quite a social guy? lots of birthday parties to go to! They had many field trips relating to their themes and Mommy helped drive and volunteered on them all. He was our proud graduate on June 16th; it was very exciting, but hard to fight the tears. Connor turned six in May and has already lost lots of teeth. He is still working on getting one of his front teeth back. This summer he decided he would play soccer. He had tried it when he was four and did not really care for it, but insisted that he wanted to play this year; and play he did! He was on the CIBC Stratford Gold team and played with great effort. Some buddies from kindergarten were on his team and they had a great team spirit. He also decided to give golf a try with his big brother; Dad can hardly get the smile off his face! They were both good students at the lessons and especially liked riding in Grampie?s golf cart. Connor began grade one French immersion in September. At first, he found the days long, but has adjusted well (and so has Mommy). It is so amazing how quickly they start picking up a second language and big brother is a great help. He has also been attending Beavers this fall. He has lots of fun and it seems to be great exercise as his face is red-hot coming home each week.

The boys had another successful summer in swimming lessons with the Red Cross. They are loving the water and are big fish. On the subject of water, we had lots of frozen water this year, as Mark built our own outdoor rink in the front yard. It was great family time as we all used it a lot. The boys also had a super time at Brookvale Ski Park this year in their first attempts at downhill skiing? wow, by the end of the day, it was like they had been on them all their lives. They had a fantastic time whipping down the hills! The boys got lots of kilometers on their bikes this year, building their muscles on trips with Mommy, long rides with Daddy and even their first ?race? at the ?Tour de Pants? in Brookvale. Lots of fun!

The boys decided to be different characters from each other for Halloween this year. Chandler was Darth Vader from Star Wars and Connor was a Ninja Turtle named Raphael. Oh yes! This is very much a boy?s household.

Every year, I ask myself what will we have to tell about next year. Well, after this year, I?m not going to even ask that question anymore! Mark has been in this kick of setting and accomplishing goals. Once the decision is made, look out? Last year he competed in the Red Cross relay in a two-man team. Well this May he decided to do it solo! That is a 10km run, 23km road bike, 8km run, a 17km mountain bike and a final 8km in a canoe or in a kayak if you are doing it solo; 66km all together. He did awesome and completed with a time of just under four hours with a placing of 30 out of approx 160 teams. This relay was his driving force (good excuse) to build his own kayak over the winter. Something he has always wanted to do. It is made of wood and fiberglass, is 18? long and fast? a great winter project. He has competed in many runs through the year with the PEI Roadrunners club and has also participated in duathlons and bike races. He cycled the Island tip-to-tip in August as part of a fundraiser for school breakfast programs. In October, he also took part in his second PEI Marathon, beating last year?s time despite the rotten conditions.

As if that wasn?t enough, we also took on a huge five-month project from May to September. So, picture this? Mark takes me out to dinner sometime in April and lands the biggest bomb on me yet! He said he wanted to raise $35,000 dollars for cancer research and cycle with Lance Armstrong in a fundraising event in September. I thought, ?Oh my God! Lord get me through this one?, because he wants this so bad, it shall be done. We had loads of support and help from family and friends? Thank you, we could not have done it without you! There was raffle tickets, pancake breakfasts, flea markets, our own series of cycling races, and close to 10,000 ?LIVEstrong? wristbands. PEI looks good in Yellow! Who would have believed that we would exceed our goal by a couple thousand dollars? At the end of September with all the hard work behind us, we went to Lake Louise, Alberta to attend the Tour of Courage. Grammie Donna and Grampie moved in with the boys for that week to look after them while we were gone. Mark rode a total of 190km with Lance and his friends, and thirty other cycling enthusiasts. It was an amazing adventure and a dream come true, all for a great cause. We spent a couple of extra days in Jasper and Edmonton with friends Jim and Robin Soutar. We also visited the Great Hobbies Edmonton store. The full details can be found at www.tour.thebowlans.com

It has certainly been a year full of travel. In July we (and all of the Great Hobbies family) again attended the Great Atlantic Fun-Fly for radio-controlled models. This year it was held in Caraquet, NB. A good time was had by all and we turned it into an extended weekend touring the beautiful area. In October, Mark, Jim and Gary were planning to attend their big annual trade show that is usually held in Chicago. This year the location had been changed to Los Angeles, so they decided to bring the wives and kids along and turn it into a small vacation. We took in LA, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, Legoland and Disneyland! Phew! It was jam-packed and loads of fun. We managed to keep it a secret from the boys until we woke them at 4:00am the morning we were leaving. The boys enjoyed the flying and it was a great surprise, one that won?t soon be forgotten.

On a sad note, we lost Mark?s grandfather, Leonard Doiron, affectionately known as Grumpy, to a fight against cancer in November. This Christmas Eve, and our lives in general won?t be the same without him, he will be deeply missed.

My Dad took a bad fall on the golf course near the end of the season while we were away on our Disney trip. He had surgery to put a few screws into his ankle and is in a cast and wheelchair. He is now working on recovering with some physiotherapy. He has the best care in town from nurse Mom!

Well on top of all that, I try to maintain my sanity and this household! I continue with a little after-school care of Matt, who is like one of my own. I try to get to the local gym as many days as possible, attempting to be fit. I usually get in over an hour of jogging, cycling, some weights and strength work. Mark comes with me every now and then, and I am still waiting for it to get easier! I also enjoy being a continued parent member on the board of directors, with the CHANCES family center. It is a special organization that I love having a small part in. This year with both boys in the same school, I am able to volunteer for many various activities. I will enjoy that as much as possible while it?s still ?cool? for me to be there and take part. The boys enjoy it for now!

So, we seem to be doing a great job of staying busy! Now it is time to get ready for Santa, and we would like to take this time to wish you and yours a very wonderful Christmas with Health, Happiness and Love for 2006! LIVEstrong!

More pictures found at "Our Christmas Newsletter" »

Super Connor

M Bowlan 2005 click to enlarge
Super Connor Ready for Action!

Super Connor, ready to defeat evil and fight crime! He has an electric cape and laser vision. His mask hides his real idenity. It was great for him to visit us today and show us some of his stunts!

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Flying High

C Wright 2005 click to enlarge
Getting Ready For Take-Off

I heard the phone ring around 11:00am as I was struggling from my still sleeping stupor... It was Craig calling from Great Hobbies. He and Gary were going flying down at the Hillsborough Bridge a minute or so from my house; was I coming? Sounds like fun, I said!

When I got there, the boys were flying already, and I took a few photos from the roadway. The day was clear and where we fly, we were sheltered from light breeze, the sun felt strong on the face. The ice was snow covered and except for a few cracks and bumps our "runway" was quite smooth. Gary came down from his flight, refueled and loaded my handlanch glider onto our glider launcher. This is a device that allows a powered radio control plane to piggyback up a glider or non-powered aircarft and release it remotely at your desired height. Gary took off smoothly and before long was to a nice altitude, where both the plane and glider were looking quite small. He released the glider and I was now on my own. After a couple of minutes of looking up and flying around, my neck was getting a but sore, so I found a nice place to lay down to guide the small plane around the sky. I had started my stopwatch when Gary had released me from his plane, and by the time I had touched down, 14 minutes and 55 seconds had passed by... A great flight. Craig, took it up next and also had a good flight. We all took turns flying the two powered models, and by then it was time to call it a day.

Thanks for calling me guys, it was fun!

More pictures found at "Flying High" »