Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Fun Fair and a suicidal squirrel...

(I wrote this on Saturday, Sept 24)

The last few weeks have flown by and I guess you could say we’re back in the swing of the school routine.

It took the school over a week to figure out who was in what class, which annoyed me at the time, but now that everything has settled I’m glad with how it all worked out.  Andrew has adjusted great to his new class, and I really like his grade two teacher.  I found it exciting and a bit emotional when we first walked into his new classroom, because it feels so much more grown up than his previous classes.  He’s in a grade two/three split class, and everyone has their own ‘real’ desk that they can put things into (as opposed to the tables they sat at in his younger grades) and there aren’t any toy stations, but rather lots of chapter books to choose from, and board games that they occasionally get to play.  What really stuck out to me was the old-school pencil sharpener that’s attached to the wall around the corner of the cloak room.  It took me right back to my own grade two classroom, which honestly doesn’t feel like I was in nearly 30 years ago…!!

Time often seems to fly by quickly anyway, but these past few weeks have been extra busy between adjusting to the school schedule, having play dates and get togethers with friends, and lots of meetings and volunteer stuff happening at Andrew’s school.

I don’t think I wrote a lot last year about how I was Chair of the parent group at Andrew’s school, but this year I decided to step down and take the more passive role of ‘Past Chair’.  I enjoyed being Chair and it brought me so much more into the loop of the school community, but most importantly it helped get me out and much more social, and I can actually say now that I have a group of friends, all of whom I know I could truly count on.  The whole idea that ‘it takes a village’ - I can understand that so much better now than I did before, because I feel like I do have a village.  It’s so easy to feel isolated even in a big city, and I particularly find it hard to meet new people around here, partly because of how people have become accustomed to not really interacting a lot unless they already know each other, but also because I’m not super outgoing and tend to shy away from social things.  

I’ve actually amazed myself in the past few weeks with how much more outgoing I’ve been.  Which is not to say I’m actually feeling like I’m an outgoing person - I will always be in introvert!  But it’s nice to know that there are people I feel really comfortable around, and in general I’m really finding myself quite active in the school community.  It’s funny because I feel more connected now this year, taking a much less direct role with the parent group, than I did last year when I was the Chair of the group!  I could have been Chair for a second term but declined to do so because I find with the girls always in tow, it can be stressful for me to feel like I’m taking on a lead role.  James can’t work from home quite as readily as he could before taking on more responsibilities at the office, so I’d likely be taking the girls to most, if not all, the monthly meetings.  It proved stressful at our first meeting when I had to keep going over to the girls at the kid table to make sure they were happy and had something to do, causing me to miss bits and pieces of what was being said by the executive.  I feel that the person in Chair position should be able to give their 100% focus and attention at those meetings.  If I’d taken this on when the girls were in school and I had a lot more free time, I would have found it a lot less stressful.  But that being said, I’m proud of the job I did and am glad to have been involved.  And still plan to be, just not in the sense of feeling locked into it, if that makes sense.  I’m also going to be the Parent Rep for Andrew’s class, so I can stay involved that way, and also of course volunteer where I can for school activities.

This past week we held the Fall Fair at the school, and while there seemed to be a lot of stress leading up to it, it all came together amazingly well.  There’s a core group of us that does almost everything, but we have a few new recruits that came to our AGM that seem to want to get more involved.  I helped out for the morning getting things set up for the fair, while my mom looked after the girls at her place.  I basically became in charge of getting all the stuffies organized by size for the Stuffie Spin.  Lots of people donated stuffies for it, so there were a lot to go through.  The fair went from 3-6, and my plan was to take the kids home after school and then James would go with us around 4:30, and then he’d take the kids home and I’d stay on to help with cleanup.  But after school the kids were so excited to see everything, and it was so nice and sunny that it just made sense to stay.  I called James to make sure he was OK with missing the fair (which I knew he would be LOL) and the kids started playing all the games and winning little prizes.  They of course did the stuffie spin first...and then several times again after that, because we don’t have enough stuffed animals at home already (insert eye roll here!)

We ripped through all the tickets I’d pre-bought, and got some more because it was so fun and I wanted the kids to experience everything.  I didn’t want to spend TOO much, but at the same time it’s a school fundraiser so I was happy to be supporting it.  The kids played and did some of the games with their friends at the school, and it just felt like everything was perfect.  I was in a really good mood, and happy to have been able to take all 3 kids to an event like that on my own and not feel the least bit overwhelmed by it.

So the plan was I’d take the kids home, have a quick bite to eat, and I’d head back and help out in whatever way I could.  

We were driving home when a squirrel darted out into the road.  I’m sure you can see where this is going...At first it seemed no different than any other time a squirrel does that, which happens often enough given that we have a lot of squirrels where we live.  They dart out, look around a bit, and then keep going across the road or dart back while I’ve stopped for them.  In a few weeks I’ll have been driving for literally 20 years and I have never had any mishap with a squirrel, or anything else for that matter.  So I slowed to an almost stop, the squirrel kept going further across the road, and was far enough away that I felt it was safe to start driving again.  Well, as soon as I put my foot on the gas, the squirrel turned it’s head, I swear it looked right at me, and it happened in slow motion and yet at the same time it all took place in a split second.  That squirrel was under the tire and it was the worst feeling EVER as I knew I was driving right over top of it but there was nothing I could do.  I killed a squirrel.  It was absolutely DEVASTATING but there was nothing I could do, I had to just keep driving.  I of course started crying and the day was completely thrown off.  

It’s now Tuesday, September 27th and I’m still totally shaken by it.  I ended up sobbing for a while and just felt terrible, but I knew I’d feel even worse if I didn’t collect myself and go back to help out for the rest of the fair.  I ended up walking back to the school because I wasn’t  up to driving again that day, and Andrew tagged along with me which ended up being great.

We walked past the squirrel...Not up close, but close enough that I could see it was definitely dead (although oddly not the least bit squished-looking...TMI but it’s true!)  I told Andrew that I still felt terrible, and always would, knowing I was the cause of it’s death, but at the same time I was relieved to see it was dead and not suffering.  My worst fear was that it would still be slightly alive but in pain, and I couldn’t stand the thought of that.

Even though I was feeling really overwhelmed by what had happened, I made sure to put it to the back of my mind as much as I could to enjoy the fair with Andrew and be helpful with clean up and whatnot once the fair had ended.  Andrew and I had a great chat along the way to the school, and he had fun playing a few more games for free, in particular the stuffie spin...of course!  I didn’t buy any more tickets for it because I’d already spent a small fortune, but the Vice Chair told the people running the spin that I had pull there and could basically do what I wanted.  LOL!  

We hadn’t had dinner (unless you count the cotton candy we’d had with the girls earlier!) so I got Andrew some french fries and a chocolate milkshake, which he LOVED.  And then just did whatever needed to be done to get things sorted.  We were one of the last to leave the school, and it felt good to be helpful and feel like we were a part of pulling the whole thing off.  I know what went into putting on the fair, and it was great to see so many people there having a good time.  

I was also grateful to be keeping busy, because I ended up feeling pretty depressed later in the evening when I couldn’t stop thinking about that poor squirrel.  I know in my heart I couldn’t have done anything to make it not happen, but that doesn’t really make me feel better about it.  I think it also brought some feelings about Fifi to the surface, because we just lost her so recently and it just made me think about those little animal lives and how precious they are.  As a person who doesn’t eat animals because I love them, it doesn’t sit well with me to know I killed one, even if it wasn’t the least bit intentional!

Anyway...I have to say I feel anxious driving now.  Yesterday we were driving along in our old neighbourhood, which I actually peeled a dead squirrel from the road once when I was in my early 20s because I couldn’t stand being at the bus stop watching so many cars go by and just narrowly miss driving over it.  I’m forever haunted by how it’s tail was flapping in the wind every time a car whizzed past!  So I know it’s a high-squirrel-traffic area.  And wouldn’t you know, a squirrel DID bound out a little ways away from us.  Luckily I was extra cautious and off it went on its merry way, the way squirrels usually do.  But I said out loud, ‘There’s a squirrel!’ and Margaret replied, ‘Did you kill it, Mommy?’  LOL.  If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry!  I made sure she knew that NO, I DIDN’T kill it, and it was a fluke that it happened last week, I don’t plan on that ever happening again!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

I can't believe summer holidays are over!

I did a bit of writing over the summer, but clearly not much on the blog.  I’ve got to get more into the habit of it.  I do have notes jotted down for most days the past few months (actually, most of this year thanks to my planner!) to remind myself of what we were up to, but the little-r details get left out when I do that, and I wish I could capture so much more than I do to remember in the future.  

It was a pretty good summer.  It obviously started off rocky with losing Fiona, and I still think about her every day and feel sad knowing she’s gone.  It’s gotten easier but it still feels heavy to think about.  I wish so much that she was still here with us.  I still think I see or hear her pretty much daily.  Maybe not as much as in the beginning, but it’s still noticeable for sure.  Poor Fifi.  I better stop thinking about her right now or I could cry.

In terms of outings and activities, we accomplished everything from our bucket list and more this summer, so I have to say it was a success.  I still feel like it wasn’t as long of a summer as I would like, though.  We lost so much of July due to poor weather, it didn’t turn out to be the hot, hot summer that I was so sure we were going to have.  I found on the hotter days I really did take advantage and enjoyed sitting outside directly in the sun, never for a really long time since I know it’s not healthy to get too much, but I really lapped up the rays this year.  I just wish there had been more of them!  

About a week and a half ago it very suddenly went from being hot and summery to cool and very fall-like.  I kept thinking summer would come back but it hasn’t, and even if we have sunshine now it’s very obviously cooler.  Summer really is gone, and I can’t help but feel a bit of a sadness creep in at the thought of how long it will be before we have it back again.  It’s known as the ‘wet coast’ for a reason, and I’m someone who would prefer if it was summer all year round.

That being said, I know I WILL eventually embrace the fall.  I just wish we could have eased into it a little slower.

On the first day that the rainy/cooler weather started, Margaret came down with a cold.  It was the beginning of the last full week of summer break, and it sucked knowing we wouldn’t really be able to do much, but at least it happened when the weather wasn’t nice enough for us to do anything outdoors anyway.  I had hoped the weather would improve for Labour Day weekend, and it did here and there but it still wasn’t nice enough to do much.  Margaret’s cold continued to linger, and by Saturday night Andrew was coming down with it.  We did manage to get the girls out to Piper’s Spit for a walk along the little boardwalk there to see the ducks, and we also saw some huge fish in the water, and checked out the little Nature House at the entrance to it.

Yesterday, for the last day before school started up again, we surprised the kids by taking them to the Spirit Halloween store.  I was so excited to be taking them there when they didn’t know where we were going, but I should have known not to blow my excitement out of proportion because you know it’s often the case that you think your kids are going to react to something a certain way and then they totally don’t.  This was one of those times!  Andrew told me afterwards that he really WAS excited but he sure didn’t act like it, despite having been asking me every single day for weeks when the Halloween stores would be open.  By the time we got into the store he had decided it was all too scary (even though he LOVES all things creepy and Halloween-y!) so he just followed me around, grabbing onto me and protesting if I went anywhere remotely near the creepy displays.  (The girls loved it though, especially Margaret - the creepier the better for her!)

Andrew didn’t even seem to enjoy looking at the costumes, at least not like I thought he would have, even though he knew we were there to pick his out.  He did decide to try on a hazmat zombie costume, that he’d been eyeing up online for a while.  But it was $50 for a really cheap looking suit, and I’d read a lot of bad reviews about the mask, which we weren’t even allowed to take out of the package ‘for hygienic reasons.’  Luckily he agreed that we should look at other options, and he ended up picking out an Evil Jester costume that he actually had considered last year as well but we hadn’t ever found it in store.  I had a 20% off coupon which brought the price down to $40 (tax included), which still seems steep for what you get but wow, Halloween is really big business.  It’s crazy, actually, especially when you have two other children to consider!

The girls were kind of upset when they realized they weren’t getting anything at that store.  It’s just that the prices were crazy for any of the costumes they had their eyes on.  And I also have to say no to so many of the costumes they like because they’re little dresses with no sleeves that won’t work AT ALL in our climate on Halloween night!  If we lived somewhere tropical, no problem, but a shimmery pink Minnie Mouse dress, while cute, is not going to look good with a jacket stuffed underneath it!  Although I’ll admit their little witch costumes from last year have short sleeves also, but because they’re black I can better work with putting their jackets underneath because it’s easy to get a black long sleeved shirt to go on top of the jacket to make it look like the dress just has long sleeves.

Anyway...after also checking out the Disney store and (not surprisingly) finding out that the prices on all their costumes were ridiculous as well, I think I managed to convince the girls to re-wear their witch costumes again this year.  They’re super cute, and now that they’re a year older they also appreciate the light-up skirt feature a little more, so they seem excited to be wearing them again.  And I’m excited that I might actually be able to afford to buy them some new fall/winter clothes with the money I’ll save buying those extra costumes!!

All in all it wasn’t the best outing ever, but that’s just sometimes how it goes.  I’m glad Andrew got his costume though, and that we don’t have to think too much about Halloween now until closer to the time.  Oh, who am I kidding...the kids are going to be asking to decorate within a couple of weeks, and when the neighbours start putting their decorations out we’re going to have to get our closet full of stuff out and start our insane decorating once again!  I do get excited about it...I think it’s just hard right now because I’m really wishing summer was still close enough to hold onto.  I’m mourning the loss!

It’s also tough getting back into the swing of the school routine.  Yesterday was Andrew’s first day of grade 2 (except not really, which I find kind of puts a damper on the whole thing, too, because his school literally takes this entire WEEK to figure out who’s in what class.  I personally find this annoying and ridiculous.  But anyway...I know they have their reasons for doing it.  I just find the first day of school doesn’t have the same excitement when the kids know they don’t really start for another week.

All in all, it was a great summer, I just wish it didn’t have to end!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A bittersweet holiday

I want to say it’s been a great summer so far.  The weather could have started off better, I do feel like we essentially lost the first several weeks of summer because it felt more like fall with how dark and dreary and rainy it was.  BUT the weather has definitely perked up, and we’ve already managed to check several things off our summer bucket list, including Canada Day at BVM, a friends’ birthday party that all 3 kids were invited to, an adventure at Rocky Point Park enjoying the spray park, playground, and a trail walk, as well as outings to other parks in the area several times over, the Saturday Market to buy some goodies, more carousel rides, bike rides, the annual community fair (with James’ dad joining us as he was staying with us for 3 nights), Lion’s Park in PoCo, backyard hula hooping and a new, bigger kiddie pool for the kids to put the slide in to make our own backyard waterslide - which they LOVE!  (And oh, what an adventure it was to bring the big pool home in the van with all 3 kids underneath it!!)  We even went to Cultus Lake today and hit up Dinotown, which the kids enjoyed immensely.  The sun is finally here and even though in moments it can seem ‘too hot’ I seriously can’t complain because I’ve been wishing for this weather for so long it seems.  It’s James and my 9 year wedding anniversary tomorrow and my parents are watching the kids so we can go out on a date, and we have fun things planned for almost every day for the next week, and oh did I mention James is on holidays until next Wednesday?!  Life should seem pretty good right about now.

And it does...only our kitty cat Fiona died last Thursday, July 21st and I feel as though a part of me died with her.

Which is CRAZY for me to say because I will fully admit that there were times when she drove me totally insane.  I became not-a-cat-person after having twins, for some unbeknownst reason but it’s true, I really can’t say cats are anywhere near my favourite animal anymore.  And Fiona threw up like she was bulimic for the entire duration of her time with us (she was 17.5 years old when she died, but lived with us since she was 6).  She scratched parts of the carpet that we’re going to have a hard time explaining when we decide to move out of this place.  She would moan for no good reason during nap and bedtime and wake children who would otherwise have kept sleeping.

But even though at certain moments I may have felt annoyed with her, I never stopped loving her, and I did enjoy her cuddles at times, because she was such a good-natured cat and loved attention, rarely ever used her claws on anyone, not even when I was using the clippers to shave her long hair down to a #1 length, which in turn made her even more cuddly and clingy because she craved our warmth as much as our love.  Oh what I wouldn’t do to feel how soft her freshly groomed coat felt, or even her plush fur once it had grown back in.  I loved her ‘Cindy Crawford mole’ (the little patch of black fur that adorned her otherwise white left cheek) and how deep her green eyes were.  I miss suddenly wondering where she was in the house and going on a search for her, for worry she may have somehow escaped when one of the kids left the screen door open for a few minutes.  And there I’d find her, curled up on our bed, of course right by MY pillow, always!  I miss the way she used to always sleep with Andrew at night, which stopped when he got his new loft bed since she couldn’t scale the ladder, but she still always had a soft spot for Andrew and he for her.  I miss seeing her out of the corner of my eye while I worked in the kitchen, and she decided it was time for a little snack.  I want to hear her little teeth crunching her kibbles, and the sound of her tongue madly lapping up a drink of water, freshly poured into her little bowl several times a day.  I want her to be curled up on the opposite end of the couch RIGHT NOW while I type this, because she would either be there, curled in a ball sound asleep, snoring softly, or over by the piano chair (omg, my heart just sank thinking how when we put the heat on again in the fall, she won’t be in her spot sleeping by the warm vent), or even laying down on her favourite step in the middle of the staircase.  I want to hear her little feet padding down the stairs, which she ALWAYS did after everyone else was tucked in bed for the night.  She seemed to go up and check out that everyone was quiet and then she’d come down the stairs and look at me, then saunter off to have a snack or do her business, before finding her spot for the evening.  I would even take the frustration of trying to keep the curtains closed while she weaved in and out, searching for rats or whatever it was she ‘stalked’ through the closed sliding glass door every night after dark!  It drove me NUTS when she did that because I was forever having to come up with ways to keep the curtains closed, but I would be happy to be dealing with a slight annoyance for a couple of minutes to have that little fluffball back in my life where she clearly belongs.

I knew it would be hard to lose her, but I forgot how badly grief hurts.  And yes I KNOW it could be far worse grief, as someone did remind me, thank you very much but of course I am well aware that there are worse kinds of grief than the loss of a ‘pet.’  At the same time, it’s all relative, and when you see your pet as part of the family like we do, it really is painful when they’re no longer there.  I didn’t even realize how often I spent time with her, since I felt like a lot of the time I was ignoring her since ultimately I’ve got a lot going on with 3 kids and once I had all of them, I didn’t have the same amount of time to devote to a cat!  She obviously still had a huge impact, and DID get a lot of attention that I guess I was just so used to giving her that I didn’t really think about it anymore.  She was just always there, and I think maybe I took that for granted.

Last night I found when I lay down on the couch and stretched my legs out, I was being mindful of her potentially being at the other end, since she often would be, and then my foot touched something soft and furry so without thinking I stroked it with my foot because in my mind, it was Fifi, and this was a common thing I would do with her.  A second later it hit me that obviously it wasn’t her, and the kids had left a plush stuffie right in her spot on the couch, and for a second my mind had forgotten.  Then it just hit me all over again.  Earlier I would have put money on it that I heard her drinking her water in the dining room, to the point that I had to go check, and could still hear it in the room even though looking at the spot where her food and water dish had been was obviously empty.  Those things cause so much turmoil in my heart and in my head.  Sometimes my eyes just well up with tears but I can fight them back and move on.  Most of the time I start sobbing immediately and feel like I can’t breathe because I can’t accept that she’s gone.  I am not a crier AT ALL (a few sentimental tears here and there and maybe twice a year a ‘big cry’ and I’m good!) but wow, now I feel like if a pin dropped and it somehow reminded me of the cat, I’d be a blubbering fool!  It’s so out of my comfort zone to be this emotional, but I know it’s healthiest to ride the waves because I have to feel the feelings to get them out of my system.

What broke my heart the absolute most was Andrew having to face grief for the first time in his life.  He had been on a camping trip with the mil and we weren’t even able to reach them (not that we would have put a damper on their trip but I could feel time ticking and knew there was only so much left, and the timing of the camping trip was kind of stressful as a result).  Before they went on the trip I really started to notice that Fifi didn’t seem like herself, and we could tell she was ‘winding down’ because she felt very bony and wasn’t as active as she usually would be (not that she was very active, but still).  Some of her routines had started to change, in particular I’d noticed she had stopped weaving in and out of the curtains at night altogether, and often wanted to just sleep in our bedroom (or outside the bedroom door) instead of downstairs (although she still slept downstairs a fair bit, too).  I had told the kids that we needed to prepare ourselves as best we could (yeah, right, like that’s possible…) because Fifi was no spring chicken, and when Andrew asked me how long she had I said I would be surprised if she was still with us at Christmas time, but maybe she would be with us for that long, I really didn’t know.  I obviously couldn’t imagine her NOT here for Christmas, but in reality I could see how old she was starting to look, and I knew that wasn’t the greatest sign.

Unfortunately, she went from ‘maybe Christmas time’ to no longer being with us 5 days later.  Which is so harsh.  I just wasn’t expecting this outcome so quickly.  But she basically stopped eating and drinking, and became so lethargic.  I tried syringing water and wet food (which she never liked her whole life but she just wouldn’t eat her kibbles anymore) into her but she even started to paw my hand away when I tried to give her anything (which is quite a sign from her, since pawing with no claws out meant business for her!!)  We had decided that we weren’t going to spend exorbitant amounts to ‘save’ her not because we didn’t love her and want her to improve, but because we knew from past experience with other family cats that she wasn’t going to be saveable.  We may have been able to prolong the inevitable for a week or two but I doubt much longer than that, and even if we could have, it would have meant force feeding her and likely also pumping her full of medication.  I just couldn’t do that to her, even though right now in this moment I selfishly wish we HAD gone that route because I wouldn’t be feeling the pain of losing her if we’d done that.  I honestly don’t feel it would have been the best thing for her given her age - if she’d been way younger and this had happened we’d for sure have tried more options, but even the vet said that she’d had a great, long life and was so lucky to have been as healthy as she was for so long.  It was her time, but that just doesn’t make it any easier for me.

Anyway, when Andrew got home from being away for 4 days/3 nights, the longest he’s EVER been away from us AND with zero contact the entire time, he was so excited to tell us all about his trip and we let him, and then I suggested he and I go sit outside in the backyard for a bit and chat some more.  I didn’t know how to start the conversation so I didn’t, and instead let him keep chatting about his time away.  He mentioned how he’d gone to visit some family friends that we all know, and then said how he had enjoyed seeing them, but that it was also kind of sad to be at their house because their dog had to be put down the week before, and he noticed how empty the house felt without the dog there since he’d always been there.  ‘Like how I feel about Fifi,’ he said, ‘I just couldn’t imagine her not being here.’  That’s when I knew I couldn’t hide it from him.  I said something to the effect that unfortunately Fiona wouldn’t be able to be with us forever, either, and he asked me when I thought she was going to die.  And I had to tell him that she had a vet appointment for the next day at 5:00.

As soon as Andrew looked at my face and could see that I wasn’t kidding, he burst into tears and was inconsolable.  I held him for a long while, and we cried together, and I did my best to explain why it had to happen.  He eventually stopped crying and sat in his own chair again and swallowed hard.  He said, ‘I want to talk to you, I REALLY want to talk about this, but I just can’t.’  He would start crying again if he tried to talk.  We went upstairs and he saw the state Fifi was in, and I could tell by his reaction that he knew just those few short days had changed her in a big way.  He pet her for a long time and gave her lots of love, and he cried, and cried, and cried.
He and James and I talked more about it after the girls had gone to bed.  (They were also told what was happening, but at their age they’re lucky enough not to be able to process it the same, so they weren’t quite as bothered by it).  We did our best to explain why euthanasia isn’t murder (even though it feels like it, at least to me, when you’ve had to be the one to make that most difficult decision, I feel TERRIBLE for pulling the plug on her, even though I know keeping her alive was worse for her) and we just chatted about her in general and about how much we loved her and would miss her.  My heart ached so badly for Andrew because he was feeling such a whirlwind of emotions and I knew what they were and I wanted more than anything to be able to make them go away and make him feel better, it’s my JOB to make him feel better and usually I can do it, so it broke my heart to know that I could only console him, but not actually take away his pain.

He sobbed so hard and for so long that Margaret came up to him and gave him a hug and a kiss and said, ‘It’s all right brother, I tried telling you at dinner she was going to die but you didn’t listen!’  LOL!  Emily had a scared look on her face and asked me why he kept crying and I said because he was going to miss Fiona so much.

We had several moments where we were all spending time with her together as a family, and I thought that was really special.  She eventually would  get up and wobble over to a spot away from everyone, because she couldn’t handle so much attention.  When it was time for us to take her my parents stayed with the kids, but it was just downright awful when I had to hold her near the kids for the very last time for them to say goodbye, and then come home a little while later empty handed.  Andrew has said so many times since, ‘I just can’t believe Fifi is gone.  This house just feels so empty without her in it.’  And that couldn’t be more true.

Saying goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Looking into her eyes for the last time, stroking her soft fur knowing I’d never feel it again.  Smelling her.  I love her so much, she was a part of this family.  I even always signed her name on cards for people and drew a little paw by her name.  There is a sticker version of her on our car!  So many little reminders of her are everywhere, and in the corner of my eye I literally JUST SAW HER SEVERAL TIMES.  Every little sound the house makes - I used to attribute all of them to her and now I’m wondering what in the AF are all those noises I’m hearing if they’re not her?!!!  This house is scaring me now!  I need my guard cat back!

Andrew mentioned how Fiona was there from day one for him, that he’s never not had a pet before.  That hurts.  I know the feeling because I’ve never gone very long without one in my life, either.  And we adopted Fiona before we even had kids.  She was one of my babies, my fur babies, and I will love her and miss her every day forever.

So this summer has had some wonderful moments, and I expect it to have many more.  It’s just that it’s all a little bittersweet at the moment, while we figure out a new set of routines and a way to cope with our loss.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Proud to be Canadian!

Talk about a lapse in memory!  In my last post I said I couldn’t remember what we did on Friday...Duh...Friday was Canada Day!  

We got the kids dressed in their new Canada Day outfits that my mom got them, and I managed to get a few cute pictures of them in the backyard.  It started spitting with rain then, and I was worried that we were going to have to cancel our plans of going to Burnaby Village Museum to check out the annual Canada Day festivities.  But it was just a light rain and didn’t amount to anything before it stopped.  We went to BVM a bit later than we usually would get there because we wanted to check out ‘Ish the Clown’ at a specific time.  Usually they have a magician on Canada Day but this time it was a clown.  Of course, the name ‘Ish’ made sense because he really wasn’t a clown in the sense of what one would generally think of as a clown...but he maybe had slightly clownish behaviour?!  Ish…!  Anyway, he and his partner were a great pair and sang cute little songs and got the audience participating.  The kids went up as close as they could to the stage to watch, and James and I hung at the back of the crowd where we’d set up our little picnic blanket.  During the performance Ish actually singled us out, told us ‘lovebirds’ to sing the next chorus, and then at another point in the performance he said that the next verse was for ‘the guy with the girl with the purple hair!’  It was a really silly song and in the verse it was about how he wants to be ‘a band-aid on a hippy’s knee’.  It was funny!  Andrew later told me that he loved that we were part of the song.

We didn’t even check out the little bean bag toss and other little kids’ games that we usually do.  After the performance we went and got in line for the carousel and that’s when Andrew had a bit of a meltdown so we basically did the one ride on the carousel and went home.  Everyone had a nap, and then after dinner we played out in the backyard as a family.

I can’t believe I forgot those details, but had to clarify because obviously Canada Day is too important not to include!  

First week of summer break

Summer holidays officially started last Thursday.  Andrew had a really successful year and it showed on his report card.  We had another ‘surprise’ party for him after school, like we did after his Kindergarten grad.  My parents came over and we had lots of nibblies and sat in the backyard.  My parents got Andrew a tin of Goosebumps books (that he and I have since started reading together each night) and we gave him the new Star Wars movie on DVD (which he’s been wanting desperately since he saw it twice while it was in theatres!), a Star Wars chronicles book (which he has been reading on his own a lot and absolutely loves), and a Kylo Ren pillow case, and some new felts (that the girls have been enjoying as well!)  He was pretty excited to have a party, since I’d made sure he would have no idea it was happening.  We had chocolate cupcakes for dessert that had little Star Wars rings on the top, as well as other characters that the girls would like better (not that they wouldn’t enjoy Star Wars, but they’re a iittle young for it yet!  And maybe they won’t enjoy it, who knows...I can’t say it excites me, but I know a lot of people are big fans!)
Andrew’s party was after school last Tuesday, and then on Wednesday we had to go back to the school at 10:30 to pick up his report card.  They had a final assembly Wed morning but it was just for the grade 7 grads, so I didn’t bother taking Andrew.  I was a bit annoyed that we couldn’t just pick up his report card on the Tuesday but we had to go Wed for it.  Whatever.  It’s over and done with now, and I can’t say I’ll be missing the school routine in the least over the summer (although there may be moments where I’ll think Andrew would be better off in school!!)

On Wednesday afternoon I took the kids to Toys R Us to pick out presents for a birthday party they were going to on Saturday.  I said they couldn’t get anything for themselves, but I ended up getting them one item to share amongst all 3 of them, and it was a whopping $1.97!  I got them a hoola hoop.  And it has already paid for itself and then some, which is awesome.  I would actually pay more for the hilarity of watching the kids sway their hips like mad trying to keep the hoop from falling!  Margaret in particular makes me laugh when she does it.  Andrew is mastering the hoolah hoop pretty well, he can probably go close to 10 seconds now without it falling.  To me that’s pretty good, considering I can’t keep it going for one second…!!

On Thursday Andrew went downtown to the mil’s, so in the morning the girls and I went and picked up my mom and went to a park near her house.  Margaret and Emily enjoyed the playground as well as the sandbox.  I keep all their beach toys in the back of the van at all times in the spring/summer so we’re always prepared for sand!  They love it.  My mom spent the rest of the day at our place till my dad picked her up when he was finished work.

I can’t really remember what we did on Friday, but we played a lot of badminton in our backyard in the evening.  It’s kind of our favourite summer backyard activity.  I wish we had a bigger yard for it but the space we have works pretty well.  The kids all like to play and Andrew is starting to get the hang of it pretty well.  Last night James and I played after the kids went to bed till it was too dark to see the birdie!

Yesterday the girls’ went to their very first ever friends’ birthday party.  Well, technically she’s Andrew’s friend (from his class, and I am good friends with her mom) but they’re all friends when it comes down to it.  The girls were SO excited when I told them that they were invited too!  K was turning 8 and Andrew got her a cool Mega Bloks Barbie castle thing, which ended up being a HUGE hit, and the girls each got her a rockstar barbie.  They were so pleased with themselves giving her the gifts!  Her ladybug themed party was at a garden center and all the kids got to make fairie gardens to bring home, which was really cool.

When we got home the girls went for their nap and Andrew, James and I played badminton together.  We basically just hung around, mostly in the yard for the rest of the day.  I also got a bit of gardening done in our front yard space, and we spent some time in there which I’ve been finding we don’t do as much as we used to.  I guess not since we really did the yard up out back last year, we have more space and everything out there that we need, but sometimes it’s nice to sit in our little yard in the front and enjoy the swing chair we have out there!

Tomorrow is my mil’s bday so today James took the kids and they all went to Bowen Island for the day.  I obviously wasn’t going since the mil and I don’t speak...Still very complicated, but not something easily fixed.  So I got the entire day to myself.  They left at 8am and will be back around 6pm.  Wow, a WHOLE day to myself, crazy.  I don’t remember the last time I had this much time!  I ended up spending over 3 hours in the morning painting upstairs.  I got both the kids’ closet doors painted and both their bedroom doors and frames done.  It seems crazy that it took that long to just get that much done, but the frames in particular take a long time since there are so many nooks and crannies.  It looks SO much better though, and I’m happy to finally be getting that accomplished.  After getting the downstairs done I kind of ‘took some time off’ and it’s been bothering me for a long time now that it doesn’t match the downstairs when you go upstairs.  I still have to do the furnace room door, our bedroom door, our closet doors, and all the windowsills.  I’d say I’ll need another 4-5 hours to complete that.  That’s not including the wall around the staircase that I’m going to pay someone to do (because I don’t want to be way up on a ladder in the staircase) or the fact that I want to paint our bedroom walls....AND the outside of our front door still needs done, too, and a few accents downstairs.  Sigh!  A constant work in progress, but eventually it will all be done.

It’s a VERY hot day today so painting upstairs was a bit nuts, but I can’t put it all off till the fall.  After I got done what I did, I sat out in the sun for a while and caught some rays, and then cooled down by the fan inside and had a sandwich.  I’ve lounged in the backyard a fair bit, went to the store and got some ingredients to make veggie burgers and corn on the cob for dinner, and now here I am.  It’s been a good day.  It has gone by FAST, but it’s been good nonetheless.

I wish James was off tomorrow, though, I feel like we lost a day of the weekend in terms of spending time together as a family.  He’s taking a week off in a couple of weeks, and I’m counting down till we get to have lots of fun family adventures together!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Being a mommy

A few days ago when the girls and I were driving somewhere, Margaret said, ‘I want to be a Mommy someday, Mommy.’  

I said, ‘I look forward to that, it means I get to be a grandma!’

After agreeing with me, Margaret asked, ‘Do you know why I want to be a Mommy, Mommy?’

I said, ‘Why?’ and she replied, ‘Because I really want to be able to make dinner!  And to run tubbies!’

I said, ‘Margaret, you know you don’t have to wait till you’re a Mommy to do those things, right?!  When you’re a little older, you can make dinner and run tubbies for me!’

She thought about that for a second and then said, ‘Really?!  Are you kidding me?!’

LOL!  I don’t want my kids to be ‘all growed up yet’ so I’m still very happy to do the ‘mothering’...but I look forward to the day I get dinner made for me AND a bath run afterwards!!!  

I’m sure I’ll have to remind Margaret of how badly she wanted this to be her reality, because I have a strong feeling she won’t be as keen as she thinks she’ll be to do these things for me :D

Saturday, June 04, 2016

My 'me day' didn't quite work out as planned

Today I had plans to go to the states with a couple of girl friends, which I was really looking forward to for many reasons.  I knew what I wanted to shop for, was excited to see what I might find at the stores we fell in love with when we went a few months ago, and it meant an entire day to myself, with my friends, no chores and no kid-related responsibilities.

I was pretty sad when the plans fell through and I realized that the day James had added to our calendar as ‘Liz’s Day to Herself’ would become ‘A regular Saturday for Liz.’  But these things happen.

I’ve been in a funk this past week in general, and I was beginning to feel myself slipping into an even deeper one.  But this morning I woke up feeling more positive, and while Andrew was having a sleepover at Nana’s, James and I decided to take the girls to De Dutch for breakfast.

We don’t take the kids out to eat at restaurants very often, in part because it’s crazy expensive for a family of 5 and the kids never eat much of what we order for them but of course they always want to order their own food.  As well, it can feel like more work for us than it’s worth because we have to come up with things to constantly entertain the kids.  As much as I enjoy eating out because it means I don’t have to cook or clean up, the pros don’t always outweigh the cons!

But Margaret and Emily were SO excited to be going to a restaurant today that they were on their best behaviour.  They were so good the entire time we were there!  They checked out their kids’ menus, coloured on them, and while they didn’t eat much of their food (surprisingly Margaret did better than Emily for eating, which is generally not the case) they did have some fruit and eggs.  I had a delicious Edam and spinach benny.  The girls wanted to get up and move around after a while but it was pretty much just as we’d finished up and were ready to go, anyway.  All in all a great experience and definitely we would do it again (although I think next time we’ll have to convince them to just share something teensy tiny and if they want more food they can have some of ours).

It was nice to break up the day by getting out in the morning, doing something we don’t normally do.  When we got home the girls and I went into the backyard, where I caught some rays while they put some water in the little kiddie pool.  I cooled off by dipping my feet in the pool, and Margaret got right in and was splashing around.  They were so well-behaved so for a little while I could actually just sit and relax and enjoy the sunshine (it was HOT today, and supposed to be even hotter tomorrow!)  

I got James to put a thing with 3 hooks up in my bedroom closet, which I’ve slooooowly but surely been getting more organized.  I don’t think it will ever ‘be organized’ but I’m content with having it be ‘more organized’!!  Once that little hook thing was up (I don’t know what to actually call it, but I'm using it to display my necklaces) I put up a picture a little ways above it of Andrew’s first year, with a picture for each month of his first year of life, and between the picture and the hooks I put up a decal that says, ‘Dream.’  I love the way it looks.  I want to be able to go into my closet (it’s a decent-sized walk-in) and feel relaxed and happy with it, not get keyed-up because it’s a disaster and I’m reminded of the work I need to do on it every time I open the door!  So I’m happy with the way it’s finally coming together.

While the girls were in their room refusing to nap, James and I had the chance to sit outside together and chat for a while, which is a major rarity on the weekends, or any day of the week for that matter it seems.  Then when it was too late for the girls to sleep even if they’d wanted to, we said they could come down and I got them dressed and off James took them to his mom’s for a visit.  He had to go pick Andrew up, and she wanted to see the girls as she’s been travelling the world for the past 7 weeks (she and I still don’t speak so I obviously wasn’t joining in the visit).  So I have had several hours to myself, it’s just that by the time I got it I’ve been feeling tired and lazy and haven’t managed to accomplish nearly as much as I had imagined I would have.  

Still, it’s nice to be sitting out in this beautiful weather, where the backyard is now in the shade but it’s still very warm and summery.  I’m going to read for a while, and just relax, and enjoy the calm before everyone is home again.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Cloudy with a chance of new shoes

It’s clouded over and is definitely a cooler day than yesterday, but it’s still warm enough that I can sit outside to write this.  I’m in our little front yard space, sitting on the swinging bench, listening to what I wish was the sweet sound of birds chirping but it’s more like the insane sound of crows cawing.  You can’t win ‘em all!!

Yesterday I just couldn’t even deal with trying to get the girls to nap so I made a deal with them that they could stay up if they let me have just a few minutes of quiet time to myself.  They didn’t really hold up their end of the bargain all that well, and were a nightmare by dinner time AND had a huge meltdown when it was time for bed, so today I insisted on them taking a proper nap.  It actually worked, too, they didn’t fuss longer than a few minutes today.  

They were probably tired after shoe shopping this morning!  I don’t know where my girls get their love of all things girly and in particular of all things SHOES because it’s certainly not from me!  I was a tomboy as a little girl and only wore dresses if I had to.  I hated shoes unless they were clunky and boyish.  Boots were always my preference.  (And today I live in flip flops, and will always hate shoe shopping for myself!) Now I have two girly girls, and in all honesty I think it’s pretty darn cute!  I like that they also enjoy wearing their brother’s hand me downs at times, like yesterday when they were wearing Darth Vader shirts that Andrew wore at their age!  But for the most part they’ll pick frilly dresses and fancy shoes any day.

Today it was all about finding new croc type shoes, which makes me cringe to write because in reality I am not a fan of crocs.  But they get cute patterned kid knock off ones that serve their purpose well!  They just need something easy they can slip on, nothing fancy (they already have several pairs of fancy shoes!!)  Of course most of what they have is the same as each other (to avoid them fighting over who gets to wear what) but I let them pick out whichever ones they wanted and Emily picked My Little Pony and Margaret picked Frozen.  I also got them each a pair of flip flops for a steal at $5 each.  They both had several other pairs of shoes they wanted me to buy for them but my gawd it can get pricey when buying for several kids!  So they had to get only what we needed today.  Andrew needs a new pair of shoes for his upcoming Hip Hop dance recital so I had to factor that in as well!

I can’t believe the school year is winding down and it’s basically summer.  I think it’s still technically spring, but the weather tends to be so warm that I think of it as being summer already.  There are several events to get through at Andrew’s school, including a week of swim lessons and his dance recital (which is separate from school, but will be a pretty big deal!) - June is a very busy month!  I feel like in the blink of an eye it’ll be over and we’ll be officially on summer holidays.  Which isn’t a holiday per se...I will be in a DAZE so I guess we could call it summer holidaze!  LOL  I think it will have its challenges but will also be great, and I look SO forward to not having to do the whole school drop off and pick up.  I also love that having made more friends of my own this year, with kids in the same or similar ages to my own, I know we’ll have plenty of opportunity for playdates throughout the summer as well.

Kind of off topic but last weekend my grandma came to visit.  On Monday I was supposed to go to a friend’s birthday breakfast, and then was having another friend and her kids over for a playdate/lunch.  My friend was going to be bringing the entire lunch, too, she insisted on it.  I ended up getting violently ill on Sunday night and literally threw up every 15 minutes or more for HOURS.  I was sicker than I remember being in YEARS.  Needless to say, all of Monday’s plans had to be cancelled, and I felt particularly bad for my friend who had prepared to bring us lunch that day.  But I was crazy sick, and when I finally stopped throwing up I was left with a migraine headache and waves of lingering nausea.  It was a tough couple of days!  Luckily James was able to work from home on Monday (which he hasn’t been able to do much at all recently as he took on a new team lead role at work that makes it more challenging for him to work from home).  I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t been able to be home.  I had to go back to bed before lunch time, and felt like I was dragging myself around most of the day.  Luckily the girls were fairly well-behaved for me, knowing I wasn’t feeling well.  But I felt pretty desperate there for a while.

Yesterday I discovered that my shoulders and ribs and most of my muscles used for barfing were SO SORE because I’d been heaving into the porcelain bowl for so long.  I guess it was more of a workout than I’ve been used to lately!  LOL  I’m finally feeling better today, although still maybe a bit more tired than usual.    I have to get better in time for the weekend because I have a really fun day planned with two of my girl friends on Saturday!

It feels now more than ever that time just goes by so fast, and there’s never enough time for everything I hope to get done, but it is what it is.  I hope I can find better balance this summer and not get to the point where I’m burnt out so badly that I wind up sick, which I kind of think is partly why I ended up so ill the other night.  I could feel myself getting really run-down but I didn’t listen to my body until I had no other choice.  Does life ever slow down enough for a person to feel like they’re caught up, or would that just be totally boring?!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Time flies when you're having fun...

The girls started going to pre-school one day a week a few weeks ago.  It’s only for 2 hours, but it’s great because they get excited to go and have their ‘school’ time, and I get an hour and a half break (I don’t include driving to and from as part of the break!) to get stuff done on my own.  The first time I did a grocery shop, which was great to get done on my own but at the same time I found myself not feeling relaxed after all was said and done.  The second time I puttered about around the house and then sat out in the backyard and caught some rays, which was nice.  This week I managed to get some work done for the job I do at Andrew’s school, and got some other errands taken care of.  It’s amazing how much more pleasant it is to take care of that kind of stuff on my own, but also during a part of the day when I’m not as tired as I usually am by the time I have the chance to get anything done without kids (which would generally not be till after dinner).

But 2 hours goes by in the blink of an eye when it’s the only 2 hours you’re going to get during the day time for the entire week!!  I couldn’t believe how fast the time went by.  

Speaking of time going by quickly, this past weekend was over in a flash!!  My aunt and uncle offered weeks ago to do a house swap with us, where they would come to our place and stay with the kids for the weekend while James and I went downtown and stayed in their 28th floor apartment overlooking False Creek (it’s a pretty sweet pad!)  This past weekend it actually happened, and it was sooooo nice for James and I to get the chance to do something on our own for the weekend, and a huge bonus for it not to cost a fortune given that we had free accommodations!!

In the morning we took the kids to a salmon release event a little ways away from our house, which is always fun for the kids.  They love going around to all the different community booths to do crafts and win lollipops and whatnot.  We didn’t end up releasing any of the salmon again this year because the line up would have taken an hour to get through by the time we went to it.  It just didn’t seem worth it, and we needed to get the kids home so we could get ready to go downtown.

My aunt and uncle arrived around 2:30pm and James and I headed out shortly thereafter.  When we ‘checked in’ to the apartment we found two champagne glasses on the table and bubbly in the fridge waiting for us!  That was a really nice surprise.  We sat in their little nook by the window looking out to the water and sipped mimosas, which was so relaxing!  

At dinner time we headed out and went to Sala Thai, which we had a gift certificate for, and knew we would love because it’s our all time favourite Thai restaurant.  It’s the place where James proposed to me...nearly 11 years ago now which is CRAZY!  As always the food was delicious, and so were the drinks.  We each had 2 cocktails there, and then met up with my bro and sil afterwards where we hit up this totally hipster bar (they are the hipsters, obviously we’re not!!) in their neighbourhood for some beer.  We went to two more places after that, drinking excessive amounts of beer and finished off the night with some sort of (very strong) whiskey drink.  Did I mention that James and I are rarely ever out in the late evening and even less seldomly would be drinking copious amounts of alcohol all evening?!  

We didn’t get back to my aunt and uncle’s till almost 12:30am, we were having so much fun!  It really was a great time.  We don’t see my bro and sil all that much, and when we do there of course are usually children involved.  We used to hang out more before we had kids, so it felt like old times in a way and we had lots of laughs and it was just great to have that chance to hang out again.  I totally don’t regret it even though I felt completely off the whole entirety of Sunday!  Which was a bit of a shame because we’d actually planned on renting a tandem bike and ride the seawall on it (don’t laugh...tandem cycling is on our life’s bucket list LOL!)  There’s no way I could have cycled, I could barely even breathe properly to be honest.  We did go to Milestone’s in Yaletown for brunch, which was delicious and ended up being perfect.  We went back to my aunt and uncle’s for a bit of a rest after that because I wasn’t really feeling up to a whole lot, but a little later we ventured back out and did some window shopping, and also got the kids each a little gift from the Disney store because I always like to bring them home a little something if we’ve been somewhere without them.  Margaret got a little red Minnie Mouse stuffie, Emily a pink one, and Andrew got a set of little figurines from the latest Star Wars movie, which he is OBSESSED with.

We got home around 4pm and I admit I was pretty happy to get my fix of hugs and kisses from the kids when we got back!  But it was still so nice to have that time just James and me, and I felt sad after it was over, knowing it could potentially be years before we have that again.  Everything went well, I just can’t predict when or if we’ll ever be offered such a treat again!!

I’ve written a few things since my last post but never got around to posting them...I should go back and do that.  I stress over how little I write these days, because right now the kids’ lives are so fresh in my mind but I KNOW in even just a matter of WEEKS, let alone months and years, I won’t be able to remember so much of what’s going on right now.  I wish I had the time and energy to record everything the way I did when Andrew was small, but I’m HOPING TO GET BACK INTO THAT GROOVE so here’s hoping that this post has motivated me enough to get back to it…….!

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