Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A family trip...to the dentist!

In December we decided it was high time we all went to the dentist.  The girls had recently turned 4 and had never been, Andrew had only been once, and I hadn’t been for 3 years.  James was the only one who’d been semi-recently, but even he was due for a check-up.  We have insurance, there’s no reason not to go...it’s just that I’ve had some bad experiences with dentists in the past and I’m always apprehensive because I feel like they make things up in order to get more money.

The last dentist I went to told me I had 3 cavities that needed attention right away, but this was only after the hygienist informed him that my insurance would be running out in a week (when James was switching jobs).  The hygienist had just finished telling me he thought my teeth looked great and didn’t see any issues in the x-rays, but the idea that I might want to use my insurance while I had it made the dentist tell me I had some problems that I’d better address pronto.  That was 3 years ago, and I had a bad feeling about it.  The thing was, I didn’t have any pain whatsoever and felt like my teeth were fine.  I didn’t go back before our insurance was up, and then life happened and I felt too busy to get there (it was pretty hectic with twin infants/toddlers...still feels hectic most days but it really has only been in the past year really that I’ve felt like I can do certain things without it feeling like the biggest ordeal ever).  So I put it off and put it off till this December when James and I both decided that if we were going to take the kids for check-ups, we should be going, too.

Actually, it was my dad getting full dentures in November that really gave us the push we needed, because seeing first hand what that’s like to go through, we obviously don’t ever want that to happen to us.  (As an aside, my dad actually took care of his teeth in terms of brushing but unfortunately just had bad teeth genes and it was inevitable that this would happen to him one day).

A friend of mine referred us to the dentist she’s been going to for many years, and the office is fairly close to us so it just felt like everything was falling into place.  I was so nervous, but it ended up being a really positive experience, and while the girls both ended up having some issues, I didn’t feel like they were trying to swindle us at all.

I am proud to say that Andrew got a glowing report, no cavities and everything looks wonderful.  Unfortunately both the girls had cavities in their top front four teeth (yes, FOUR...sigh!) and Margaret also had a couple in her back molars.  The dentist said he wanted them to have x-rays to be sure of the extent of the issue, but their office isn’t equipped for little ones when it comes to getting the images, so we were referred to a pediatric dentist.  I was so stressed about the whole thing because I felt like it was my fault they got cavities.  I know that’s not the case, that we’ve done everything we can do and these things just happen, but I have felt really, really terrible about it nonetheless.  

In the meantime, I had my appointment a few days after the kids (on the very first blizzard day we experienced in early December, it was a bit crazy driving home!) and lo and behold, I found out I HAVE NO CAVITIES.  Even though I wasn’t experiencing any pain in my mouth, I was positive they would tell me I had at least 3 cavities, because that’s what I’d been told at the last dentist appointment I went 3 years ago.  Which means that that dentist was a total scam artist and I am disgusted to think that I could have gone back and spent money unnecessarily (since our insurance was only 70% at the time) and got fillings I didn’t actually need.  That makes me beyond mad, actually.  Every time I see the place I used to go to I feel my blood boil!!

So Andrew has no cavities, I have no cavities, and at James’ appointment he was told he has no cavities either!  Phew!!!  Another thing about the last dentist we saw, they also told James he needed something fixed on one of his teeth that would have cost us about $1500 (on top of what insurance would cover) and that he should deal with it immediately.  Since we obviously don’t have that kind of coin to throw down, we declined, and our new dentist told him it was a purely cosmetic issue and didn’t need to be done at all, and likely never would!  Seriously.  Can you imagine?!  It’s unbelievable that dentists get away with that.

A bit before Christmas we took the girls to their appointment with the pediatric dentist.  It went really well, all the staff were very kind and so good with the kids.  Emily wasn’t good about having x-rays done on her back teeth so that didn’t happen, but otherwise they were so brave and did so well at their appointments.  We were given various options of what we could do for both girls.  Emily has less cavities and they aren’t as severe as Margaret’s.  As well, her x-rays showed that she’s more likely to have her front teeth fall out sooner than Margaret’s will because the roots are much shorter on hers.  So we decided to hold off on getting her fillings done, and do Margaret’s first.  On January 5th she had an early morning appointment and got all of her fillings done in one visit.  It meant having to be sedated, not put right under but taking something that made her quite loopy.  It was very exhausting to me because of course I hated her having to be drugged up like that, and then I didn’t realize it till it was time for her appointment but I was expected to stay in the room for the entire procedure.  (I knew I'd be with her while the sedation took effect, but not to watch her get the actual fillings!) It was good in some ways, as of course I wanted to be there to comfort her (although she was so out of it, it really didn’t matter if I was there or not!) but it was also stressful watching the whole process.  The dentist and hygienist were so good with her though, which was great to witness.

It cost nearly $900 for all her work to be done (and that was going with a cheaper option, which we chose for one because of the price, but also because most of the teeth she had filled will be falling out within 2 years so it just didn’t make sense to us to spend a ton of money on something that she will lose soon anyway!  And it’s not like she was complaining about pain or anything).  Luckily our insurance covers 80% so we didn’t even pay $200 when all was said and done.  Phew!!  I don’t know what we would have done otherwise!  It’s crazy how expensive it is to go to the dentist.

So for now Margaret is done, although the front fillings can chip easily so I’m finding myself a bit stressed about that.  Luckily we can have them fixed free of charge if that happens, but it would still be stressful if that was the case.  As for Emily, we’ll keep waiting for now and see how it goes.  Hers wouldn’t be nearly as costly, but still...she’s more anxious than her sister and I worry about how it might affect her to have to go through something similar with the sedation.  

I still feel bad that they got cavities.  The only thing I can think of, other than bad genes which I really hope isn’t the case since I don’t want this to be a lifelong issue for them, is that where Andrew nursed and never had a bottle other than if James and I were going on a date which was a rarity, the girls took bottles with them to bed for far longer than they should have.  It was just the nature of having twins, for us it was better to do that than to literally never sleep and just have me feeding them round the clock (which it already felt like I was doing, as it was).  I couldn’t have handled it if they were just left to cry because I was already so sleep deprived as it was, we did the lesser of two evils!  It’s just that it may have contributed to their tooth decay because otherwise why would they both have cavities in their 4 front teeth, and Andrew has never had any?  I don’t know...the dentist said it possibly contributed but of course also not to feel bad about it because it is what it is and it's impossible to know the true cause.  At least we’re aware and the kids have all been brushing and flossing extra in hopes of preventing anything further.

I’m glad we found the dentist we did, and I’m relieved that at least the majority of us are cavity free.  Let’s hope it stays that way!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Andrew's 8th birthday Star Wars room reveal + winter wonderland!

We had the day before Andrew’s 8th (I can't believe my boy is EIGHT!) birthday planned out for months.  When it finally came time to live it, I couldn’t believe the day was actually here!

At 10am he was picked up by my dad to go spend the day and have a sleepover at my parents’ house.  As soon as I locked the door from them leaving, I ran upstairs and started taking everything off the walls in Andrew’s bedroom and putting his furniture as much into the center of the room as possible.  It was the day that James and I were changing his entire room theme from Superheroes to Star Wars!

At 11 I took the girls over to my friends’ house (where Andrew had been on Boxing Day) as she had offered to take them for a few hours so James and I could focus as much as possible on getting Andrew’s room painted.  It turned into them staying till after dinner because they were doing so well at her house, and it helped us out immensely because it meant we could just focus on the room and not have to take any breaks.  Well, that’s not entirely true since James spent several of those hours sleeping...but in his defence I really do work better alone on such projects, and since I have always done all the painting in our relationship (and I’ve done quite a lot of it!), I have a system for how I do things.  (On the contrary, in 18 years together I don’t recall James ever picking up a paintbrush!)  We only have one big paint roller, so ultimately only one of us could do that part of the job, anyway.  James helped with the cutting in before the main painting started, and had also got a lot of the room prep done while I was dropping the girls off (and having a quick latte with my friend!) before coming home to get going on things.

I finished the last bit of the painting just as it was getting dark outside, which was perfect timing because once it’s dark it’s so much harder to tell if you’re doing a good job or not.  James made both our lunch and dinner, and basically each time I wolfed down my food and got right back to work.  After we had our supper (a little on the early side) I put back everything that I could, and started deciding where certain pictures and shelves should be put up.  When I went to pick up Margaret and Emily at 6:30, James got to work putting up the pictures and the shelves so it would all be done before it was time for the girls to go to bed.

It all worked out perfectly and by the end of the night Andrew’s room was basically done.  All I had to do in the morning was clean up the garbage, get the paint stuff put away, and put the last finishing touches on the decorating.  I knew I still wanted to get him another shelf for the wall by his closet (that I got at Ikea a few days ago and it ties in perfectly!) but overall I was so happy with how it all turned out.

I was so nervous leading up to the ‘big reveal’, just anticipating his reaction and wanting to be able to capture it on camera.  My parents brought him home at lunchtime (after picking up the Star Wars themed ice cream cake I’d ordered for the big day!), and after he opened his presents from us (he got a Stormtrooper pillow and a Poe figurine from Emily, a Rey bobblehead from Margaret, 3 chapter books from James, a Garbage Pail Kids book from me, and a Kylo Ren watch from me and James.  And at my parents’ place he had opened a gift from us as well - a William Steig book (one of my absolute favourite children’s authors), a cozy blue hoodie from Old Navy, and one of those little wooden man figures from Ikea (not sure how to describe it but he’s always wanted one, and he painted it within a few hours of getting it!)  I feel like we went a bit overboard with his birthday this year since his room should have been gift enough, but we couldn’t help it, and everything he got is either useful, educational, or for decorating his new room.

Once all the present opening was done, I went upstairs and asked my parents to come up because ‘I needed to show them something’ and I had Andrew stay downstairs with James.  Once I had my camera ready to record, I called him up and everyone else joined him.  He walked into the room and at first was like, ‘What?’ and then he realized everything was different and he was blown away!  He was like, ‘Whoooooa, thank you!  I can’t believe this!’  He especially loved how we hung his light saber on the wall above his closet doors, the glow in the dark stars around his door, and the way we’d put the shelves up beside the new canvas art, one side with characters from the Light Side and one from the Dark Side.

It was amazing to have been able to pull all of that off, and feel like it all came together so perfectly.  My mom made the curtains, which look awesome.  It was quite the feat that we  managed to make it all happen, and Andrew loved it.  

After the big reveal James and I quickly prepared a spread of nibblies and we ate and then my parents went home to rest for a few hours.  The plan was that we would order Thai food at 5pm and they would pick it up on their way back to our place.  Only it had started snowing an absolute BLIZZARD earlier in the day and hadn’t stopped AT ALL the entire day.  Since we already had snow stuck to the ground, it started sticking right away, and it was treacherous out there.

My mom and I basically decided just before it was time to order the food that as much as it sucked to postpone the dinner, it was probably best they not attempt driving in those conditions.  They live on a hill so no matter which way they drove, it could be very dangerous and slippery both for leaving and for coming home.  But my dad decided they were going to attempt it, so we ordered the food and they left right away since they didn’t know how long it would take to drive to the restaurant.

They got there OK, although the roads weren’t great, and had to wait a while for the food.  Then they got about a block along to our place and got stuck in traffic because a bus had jack knifed and was blocking the road.  Eventually traffic got moving again, but they wound up in the same predicament a few blocks later.  What would normally be about a 10 minute drive ended up being at least 45, possibly an hour, and was very scary because the road conditions were so terrible.  My parents were frazzled by the time they got here, and didn’t want to stay too long for fear the road conditions would be even worse for driving home.  Despite that, we did enjoy the dinner and Andrew loved his cake (I was pretty impressed with the design, as well!)  My parents had also brought over a few presents for him to open: a Spiderman umbrella, a children’s dictionary, and a cool new version of the Battleship board game.

Luckily their drive home wasn’t nearly as bad as getting here, as it had mostly stopped snowing by that point and traffic had calmed down.  

After the kids went to bed, James and I did stay up till midnight but new year’s eve is always a little lost on me because I’m so focused on it being Andrew’s birthday.  I went and had a bubble bath while James played some xbox, and then we reconvened just before midnight and did the countdown together.  We had a little toast to the new year with a shot of whiskey, and then James went to bed.  I felt a bit down in the dumps, I think just the let down from the holidays ending.  It feels like there’s so much going on and then boom, it’s all over with.  But it was a good day, and maybe in some ways there was also some relief to have the holidays behind us.

It’s been nice having James home since the 24th of December, though, and we had this whole week with him home since the new year.  It’s going to suck having him start back at the office tomorrow.  It’s back to the grind for all of us.  And just like that, the holidays are done!

At home with my girls, + women's issues TMI!

On Boxing Day Andrew went over to a friends’ house for an all-day play date.  Her mom is a friend of mine, and the kids are in the same class at school.  She offered to take him on for the day so the kids could bake cupcakes, do crafts (they made really cool homemade Christmas crackers that Andrew gave us as gifts on New Year’s Eve) and play (they even had a dance party complete with disco lights!)  It was a really great day for Andrew, he had so much fun.  I was glad that he had that opportunity, especially on that particular day because my time of the month hit me hard that day, and I was pretty much completely out of commission.  I still did stuff because ‘mom’ and ‘out of commission’ don’t really work together I find, but I definitely wasn’t up to my usual standard of getting things done.

Luckily James was home and was helpful to me, there’s no way I could have managed on my own that particular day.  TMI about ‘the curse’ isn’t something I like to be public about necessarily, but I’m documenting it here because it was so severe this past cycle that I think it’s important I record it.  I couldn’t believe how much pain I was in, at times literally doubled over and breathing through contractions.  At one point in the evening one of the kids asked me why I was doubled over on the floor in a weird position and I explained (even though they have no idea as to why, obviously) that I had really bad cramps and they were hurting so badly that it felt like I was in labour.  Margaret replied, ‘Well, maybe you have a baby in your belly and it’s just time for it to come out now!’  LOL  She’s obviously paid attention when I’ve shared the kids’ birth stories with them!  I said, ‘There’s no baby in there, no way am I having another one of those!!’  :D

It’s really frustrating how bad it can get, to the point that each month I think it can’t get any worse and then it does.  And then I’ll have a month where it’s not so terrible, and I’ll think I can manage this, and then it gets worse again.  I don’t really know what to do about it, though, as I’m already on medication that’s supposed to lessen the bleeding (although if it truly is less, I’m afraid what would happen if I stopped taking them).  I just wish there was something more I could do for the pain than just Tylenol, which I end up maxing out on dosage wise and eventually end up with stomach aches because I’ve taken too much of it, but if I don’t I can’t handle the pain at all.  It’s a vicious circle, or should I say cycle.  I also get headaches the week leading up to my period, headaches during the week I have it, and did I mention I am now getting it every 2.5-3 weeks?  So no real reprieve in between, once you throw ovulation into the mix, too.  OMG.  Way too TMI for my liking!  But seriously, for someone who doesn’t want any more children, it’s frustrating spending the majority of my days in the throws of ‘women’s issues’.  I literally only get a couple of days in between it all and that’s it.


So the 26th was a total bust for me and I was feeling pretty down in the dumps about it.  I was just glad that Andrew was able to enjoy his day away, and the girls managed to enjoy their day, too, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

On the 27th I had a very early start to the day because James and Andrew were heading over to the island to visit James’ dad (as it was his birthday that day).  They left just after 6am.  I was on my own with the girls for basically 2 days, which was fine in the sense that they were really quite good for me the whole time, but it was also really awful timing in terms of my time of the month and the extreme tiredness I was feeling as a result of it.  I had one of the worst sleeps I’ve had in years that night because Margaret and Emily wanted to have a sleepover with me, and I quickly found out there is NOT enough room in my bed for all 3 of us, and I can’t sleep when little ones are moving about, talking in their sleep, and waking up a bunch of times throughout the night.  They loved having the sleepover with me so that’s the main thing, but I don’t think I could handle doing that again unless I can get a good nap in the next day!

On the first day we watched some movies the girls had got for Christmas, played with their new toys, read books, and built their Lego sets that my parents gave them for Xmas.  My parents came over for about an hour in the afternoon so I was able to go have a bath and relax for a few before they had to go, and then the girls and I ordered pizza because there was no way I could see myself cooking at that point.  The next day we didn’t do a whole lot either, but staying home and doing all our usual things was totally fine with the girls, so we made it a staying-in-our-jammies day.  The boys didn’t get home till a little after 10pm, by which point I was pretty exhausted but the girls had been good, like I said, so it was definitely ‘easier’ than it could have been!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Christmas recap: 2016

The kids didn’t wake us up till 7am on Christmas morning.  I really didn’t sleep all that well because apparently I’m still a little kid inside and can’t help but be over-the-top with excitement over Christmas, but I felt so much more rested this year than I have in previous years on Xmas morning.  

We went downstairs to find that Santa had indeed visited our house, and not only had he brought wrapped gifts and of course filled the stockings, he also brought us a kitty cat.  But not just any kitty cat, a ‘Perfect Petzzz’ cat!  It’s basically a cat (this one his grey with black stripes) that is sleeping curled up on a little pet bed, and has a d-cell battery that makes it look like it is breathing (and if you listen really carefully it sort of sounds like it’s purring, too).  It’s literally the perfect pet, because it looks like a real cat but it is always curled up sleeping, doesn’t require food or a litter box, and can never die because if it stops ‘breathing’ you just buy a new battery!  She even came with a little brush, and adoption papers, which we just signed last night after agreeing on the name ‘Pearl’ (which is also a play on words since it could also be ‘Purrl’!)  It’s really quite cute...some might find it weird, but I think it’s perfect for us right now!  We’ve been missing Fifi so much and Santa did leave a note saying this cat of course can’t replace her as no cat could, but that maybe it’s the perfect thing for us right now because we can feel like we have a cat to pet and love but without all the responsibility attached.

The kids were pretty good about us getting our coffee (that thanks to the timer on the coffee maker was already brewed when we got up!) before starting on their stockings.  There was a bit of annoyance at having to wait for the video camera to get set up, but we wanted to record at least some of their opening.  They loved the stuff they got in their stockings, and played a bit with some of their new stuff while James and I opened our stockings together.  Then it was time for Santa presents.  The girls got unicorn purses, a dog stuffy, some books, a tea set and a movie theatre snack play set.  Oh, and panda stuffies!  They basically got everything they asked Santa for and then some.  Andrew got a ninja costume, a magic 8 ball, a Kylo Ren figure, and Star Wars bedding, all which he asked for.  Although after he sent Santa his letter he mentioned that he’d forgot to ask for the bedding but luckily Santa already had that in mind for him so it all worked out!

James and I got the final season of Downton Abbey from Santa, so we’ve started watching that the past few days.  James also got the last season of Game of Thrones.

Oh and Rudolph was kind enough to leave the kids each a new placemat - Star Wars Force Awakens for Andrew, and My Little Pony for the girls.

After Santa presents were opened we took a break and got some food out (croissants and cheese and some fruit) but the kids were too excited for more gift opening to eat anything!  There were presents galore, so I won’t go into all the details of what everyone got, but a few items...I got real amethyst earrings from James, pink cozy slippers and a cute ball ornament from Emily, chocolate and cozy socks from Margaret, my new planner and a pretty necklace from Andrew.  I also got bath stuff and other odds and ends.  James got an add on to the piano that he wanted that has proper pedals, a Star Trek Next Generation adult colouring book and markers, some shirts, a Bryan Adams piano music book, and a gag gift from Andrew was a ‘toilet time golf set.’  The kids got lots of DVDs, books, games and lots of toys...I can’t even get into all the details of it right now!  

After all our present opening was done we made some more phone calls (we’d also made a few during our breakfast break) to wish people Merry Christmas, and then the kids had some play time while James and I started prepping for dinner.  I had made a few of the dishes the night before but still had a few more to make, and the table to set, etc.  James was making the Tofurky and Brussels Sprouts.  

After a few hours of the kids playing with their new stuff we decided to give them their last gift, which we didn’t want to give them immediately because we knew it would take over too much.  We got an Xbox 360 and Just Dance 4 and Just Dance 2017.  All 3 kids love dancing so much, and they often teach themselves (especially Andrew) how to dance to the songs from Just Dance using youtube videos, so we KNEW they’d love the real thing.  We already had the Kinect because my parents have an Xbox and we would occasionally borrow it for a few days, but we didn’t have the Just Dance games, and we decided to get our own system since they’re being phased out now for Xbox One.  The kids were thrilled, especially Andrew.  I got the reaction on video when he said, nearly in tears, ‘I’ve waited my WHOLE life for this!’  

My parents came over at about 4:30 and we had mimosas (which I failed to mention I’d been drinking all day!  Not with a ton of champagne so I was pacing myself, but mmmmm they were good!!) and opened presents together.  I got earrings, pj’s, bath stuff, and lots of other items but the best gifts of all were the books my mom gave me.  I had given her a mother/daughter book years ago, and she had bought a for daughter from mother book, the kind where you fill in the blanks and add photos and whatnot.  She had completely filled out both books for me and I literally couldn’t believe it!  I was so happy to get those, I will definitely cherish them forever.

Our Christmas dinner was good.  It’s such a challenge to get everything heated and staying warm at the same time but it all worked out.  There were all the usuals and then some, and we were SO HUNGRY when we started and then ridiculously full a few minutes later!  It was really good.  A little after we had a white chocolate yule log cake that was really yummy, with candy cane ice cream on the side.

My parents went home a little after 8, and we got the kids to bed shortly after.  It was a huge day, but the kids did so well and there were barely any meltdowns, all considered!  I felt like everyone really enjoyed their gifts, and I had been really excited to give my parents their stuff so that was fun.  It was hard to believe that Christmas was OVER already, after all that lead up to the big day, but it really couldn’t have been much better, and for that I am grateful.

Christmas Dance Recitals

Before I write about Christmas and the days since, I have a few other things to record that I can’t believe I haven’t already.  Thankfully I DID do a good job adding tidbits of info to my yearly planner, and Andrew got me one for Christmas that has even more space in it for writing things down, so I DO have a record of little moments and things we’ve done on pretty much every day.  Still, it IS a goal for this year to write more in my journal on the computer and I am vowing RIGHT NOW that I’m going to make it happen!

On December 14th Andrew had his school Christmas concert.  Last year their Xmas concert had nothing to do with Christmas at all and was completely incoherent and downright weird.  The only saving grace with that one was that Andrew’s class was literally the highlight of the entire performance, when they danced to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstitions.’  (Like I said, the performance was not the least bit Christmasy!)  I was nervous what they would come up with this year, but they have a new music teacher now so I knew it was likely to be altogether different.  I was pleased to find out that it was an actual Christmas concert, with each class singing a different song.  The even divisions had their concert on the Wednesday, so James and I went to the afternoon performance, and my parents took Andrew to his evening show.

Andrew’s class sang, ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ and they were the finale of the show.  It was awesome!  The other songs were cute, too, and I enjoyed the entire performance (other than the talking bits, because our school doesn’t have the greatest acoustics and the kids using microphones really don’t know how to speak into them properly...but luckily the talking parts weren’t the main part of the show!)  The kids were told to wear ‘Rock Star’ clothing, jeans, a white shirt, and ‘whatever rock star accessories’ they had.  I wanted Andrew to be a bit more dressed for an actual Christmas concert so we made it rock star-ish in our own way.  He wore black jeans, a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to make it more casual, a suit vest but unbuttoned, and a red plaid tie.  Almost none of the other kids in his class dressed up in any way, they mostly just seemed to be wearing whatever they would normally wear to school.  So Andrew really stood out, and was front and center during the performance (which doesn’t surprise me at all, because unlike both of his parents, his favourite place to be is on stage in front of an audience!!)  Three kids in his class also had a ‘guitar solo’ and he was one of them, so he got to rock out on a fake guitar, and then at the end of the performance he used his open vest to do a cool little move as they finished off the song.  It was really cute and their class got a lot of cheers!  My parents really enjoyed the evening performance, and one of the school staff that Andrew really loves saved them front row seats!

On December 16th all 3 kids finished their swim lessons.  Andrew graduated to the next level, which is AWESOME, and the girls will still be in their level I would guess for a while, since it’s their first real introduction to swimming.  They did really well, though, and got glowing reports from their teacher.  I wanted to enroll them again right away in the new year just to keep up with it but now we’ve decided to wait till the spring to start going again.  It’s not like they need to become olympic swimmers, and really I’m just happy they’re all more comfortable in the water now.  I do want to get them back into it during the spring, though, I just have to be able to enrol all 3 into their classes for the same time slot due to the logistics of it all, and there was nothing available right away.  I’m so proud of all of them for their enthusiasm in the water and their willingness to try new things.  Not that the water was foreign to any of them, but there was some apprehension before they started that is completely gone now, which puts my mind at ease.

On the 17th Andrew had his Christmas Hip Hop performance.  It was held at a high school in Vancouver and it was such a great show!  Just an hour long, but he was there the whole day leading up to the performance for dress rehearsals.  They learned their routine in 8 hours worth of extra classes that he went to over a period of several weeks, and then the few hours of practice right before the show.  There were over 140 kids participating from his dance school and it was so good.  We got there early thinking there would be a huge line up but the only people ahead of us were friends of ours and one other couple, so we got front row seats and I managed to take a great video of Andrew’s performance.

His stage presence really is something.  I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom, truly, he has a gift for being on stage and I’ve been told that by people who don’t have to be proud of him because they don’t even know him!  He just beams while he’s dancing and he has natural rhythm that we’re still scratching our heads as to where he got it from!  LOL  He just loves dancing, and I was SO proud when I saw all the other kids in his group move off to the side and clap their hands while he did two one-handed cartwheels in the center of the stage.  He was the only kid in his class who got to do something extra like that, and I get such a sense of pride when I hear the ‘whoooaaaa’s’ from the audience!  I also get intensely nervous in the minutes leading up to his performance, as if I am getting my own bout of stage fright even though I’m not the one up there!!

It was a lot of fun leading up to Christmas, getting to enjoy those performances!

Leading up to Christmas day 2016...

Well, Christmas has come and gone, once again the day over in lightning speed after so many weeks preparing for it!  It was a perfect day, though.  I’m so glad everything worked out the way it did.

We had my brother and sister-in-law over on Christmas Eve this year.  Usually they come over on Boxing Day but we decided to switch it up this year.  They brought their Frenchie Maude with them.  It was Maude’s first time ever at our house, as of course up until recently we had Fiona and I wouldn’t have ever brought a dog (or any other animal for that matter!) in while she was here.  (As a side note, I’ve really been missing Fifi over the holidays).  It was really sweet having Maude here, she’s more subdued than she used to be now that she’s older so she wasn’t too rambunctious or getting into anything she shouldn’t.  We plan on having her back sometime, maybe even for a sleepover!

While my bro and sil were here we built a gingerbread village with the kids, since it’s our tradition to do some sort of cookie decorating together before Christmas.  We also played several rounds of Christmas Bingo, and decided to exchange gifts instead of waiting to open separately on Xmas day.

We also drank festive drinks and chatted and just had a nice visit.  My parents stopped by for a little while after they got back from from another get together they were going to.  

We had already driven around the night before looking at Christmas lights, which I’m glad of, since James and I both imbibed Xmas Eve and wouldn’t have been able to drive to do that.  Although in all honestly the driving around looking at lights didn’t go as well this year as it has in previous years.  It’s one of our Christmas traditions I always look so forward to, but this year the kids weren’t as into it as I would have liked.  Especially the girls.  It was also raining slightly (and snowing for a bit, too) so it wasn’t as easy for the kids to see out their windows and...it was a bit of a fail.  I was still glad we went, it just would have been nice if the kids had been a bit more cheery!  If I recall correctly it had been a bit of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that day, and I was a bit grumpy myself, which I’m sure wasn’t helping matters!

And then we get to Christmas day, which requires a post of it’s own!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

We actually waited till December 1st to decorate this year.  If the kids and I had had our way, we’d have had everything up a week earlier, but I’m glad James convinced us to wait.  If I’d decorated too early I’d be starting to get sick of it all by now!  Instead, we’ve really been enjoying the tree and all the pretty, sparkly lights.  

December 1st was a Thursday so during the day I got everything out from under the stairs while Andrew was at school.  The girls ‘helped’ me get the decorations out, and I put all our usual decor into the bins and boxes so I could get everything put back under the stairs and it wouldn’t be total chaos in the living room all day.  When Andrew got home, the 4 of us decorated all the shelves, and then after dinner James put the tree together and we decorated it as a family (well, the 4 of us decorated it while James snoozed on the couch...but that’s all part of our tradition it would seem!)  

Margaret and Emily were able to help a lot more with putting decorations on the tree than what they were capable of last year.  In year’s past I’ve always had some help but then re-did a lot of the decorating after the kids were in bed so the tree wouldn’t only have decorations on the bottom portion where small hands could reach.  This year, Andrew used a step-stool to put some of the decorations higher up, and while I did turn some of the decorations around that were put on backwards, for the most part I decided to leave it how the kids designed it.  It turned out really nice, and it was fun to reminisce and tell the kids the stories behind some of the decorations.

After the tree was done, I put a dvd in that I had just purchased off Amazon.  It’s called ‘Amazing Stories’ and it’s a series done by Steven Spielberg in the ‘80s.  The specific episode I was after is called ‘Santa ‘85’ and is my all-time favourite Christmas made-for-tv-show.  We had it on a VHS tape from when I was small (the show came out when I was 5) and I watched it every single year, usually more times than I could probably count.  I loved that show, there was just something about it.  I of course hadn’t seen it for many years, given that I can’t remember when we last owned a VCR, and had an impossible time finding it for years.  I finally dug deeper and discovered that the only way to get it was to buy this entire season of shows on DVD.  I was hesitant because I know nothing about any of the other shows, but James told me to get it because it’s my favourite Christmas show and would be worth it just for that, and besides, some of the other shows might be good, too.  I still haven’t watched any of the others, but I plan to.  But I can definitely say I’m glad I was able to share ‘Santa ‘85’ with the kids! And make it a yearly tradition to watch with them.

We were all sitting cuddled up on the couch together watching it.  Emily was on my lap, Margaret was tucked in beside me, and Andrew was beside her.  (James was half-asleep on the floor...LOL).  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Margaret looking around at the room and the freshly lit Christmas tree, and then she said to me, ‘I just love Christmas, it’s my favourite time because it’s all about family, and I just love my family so much!’  It was the sweetest thing ever!  She hugged me and kissed my arm and I could feel tears sting my eyes because how adorably sweet is it for a just-turned 4 year old to say something like that out of the blue?!

Ever since we’ve been enjoying watching all our usual Christmas shows, and I’ve been doing lots of fun Christmas crafts with the kids.  They made little wreaths, Santas, tree ornaments, snowmen, and paper Christmas trees so far.  It’s been fun, and really feels like a festive time.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Friday at the mall with 3 kids

Friday was pro-d day and I decided to get the kids out of the house for a little while, doing something we don’t normally do.  For a lot of people going to the mall is a normal, regular thing, but for the kids - especially the girls - it’s still a huge novelty to get to go to the mall.  I warned them that it was Black Friday so if it was too crazy we’d be leaving, because I didn’t actually want to go for Black Friday sales (I like deals, but I don’t like crowds!)  It turned out that while we were there, the mall was no busier than it would normally be, and I scored Andrew’s Christmas shirt at 50% off.  

After getting the shirt we went to a hair salon to see if all 3 kids could get in for a haircut, and it worked out that they could get in right away.  I’ve cut the girls’ bangs but this was their very first ever actual haircut, so it was kind of a big deal.  Neither of them wanted a lot cut off, because they love growing their ‘princess hair,’ although I think I have them convinced that next time, in a couple of months, they’ll get a shorter cut maybe up to their shoulders.  Emily’s is slightly shorter than Margaret’s but ultimately it was just an inch and a half or so ‘trim.’  It’s really noticeable to me though, as it’s more of a blunt cut and Emily’s doesn’t curl at the bottom like it did before.  They look a little more grown up, and of course totally adorable.  Andrew also got a really cool new ‘do, and was quite pleased with himself.  I had only planned on the girls getting their hair done, but then when we got there I realized that Andrew could use a bit of a clean up of his, so I’m glad we got that done, too, before pictures with Santa (which we’ll be getting this week).  I also really liked one of the hairdressers in particular, so we’ll definitely be going back to see her.

It was ‘Feel Good Friday’ at the mall, and as part of that they had a DJ spinning music and a man set up drawing caricatures.  It was free, which was awesome, and the kids REALLY wanted to get drawn, so we got in line for that and I was AMAZED by how patiently the kids waited their turn.  There were about 6 people ahead of us in the lineup so it took quite a while, but the kids didn’t complain at all and were so good about staying right by me.  They got really cool pictures drawn, each separately because they wanted to be able to keep their own pictures.  Andrew is Iron Man and I love it because it really does look like his face!  Then Emily was drawn (as a Princess), and I could tell it was her being drawn and not Margaret (who got hers drawn like a Fairy), even though they were sitting side by side.  A woman waiting in line behind us annoyed me a bit with her comment that I should just ‘photocopy her picture and give it to her sister because they’re the same, anyway, so why bother with another picture?!’  Ummm, yeah, no.  First of all, that’s ridiculous.  Second, they obviously want their own pictures.  And third, and really most importantly, THEY DON’T EVEN LOOK THE SAME!  LOL.  They’re not identical, and even if they were, they’re still individual people!  Geez.  It really amazes me sometimes how people treat twins as if they’re just one person.  I know it was just a comment and really it didn’t bug me that much, she wasn’t intentionally trying to be rude, it’s just that she WAS serious and that was kind of annoying to me!

Anyway.  It ended up being an absolutely PERFECT outing and I LOVE it when that happens because it feels like a huge success when I can take all 3 kids out on my own and have a completely pleasant experience.  It actually can happen!!  And I just love it when we’re all in good moods and enjoying an adventure like that together.

Today James went and had their caricatures laminated, and they’re now all hanging on the kids’ walls by their beds.  Super cute!  I’m so glad we went out when we did and got to have that whole experience.  Andrew's going to have high expectations on his next pro-d day!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another Spooktacular Halloween!

Halloween.  Crazy to think it has already come and gone, but on the other hand it sort of dragged on in that we decorated waaaaaay too early, so again (apparently I learned nothing from last year) by the time the day was here I was kind of over it.

It was really rainy early in the day on Halloween, and I was concerned what that would mean for trick or treating if it continued into the evening.  Andrew wore his Zombie Doctor costume to school this year.  It was his costume from Kindergarten but in light of all the crazy creepy clown incidents lately around the world (and apparently including not far from home), he wasn’t allowed to wear his Evil Jester costume for the school festivities.  The girls wanted to dress up to drop Andrew off at school but I didn’t want them wearing their costumes for trick or treating in case they got them soaked in the rain.  Emily went as Angelina Ballerina to drop Andrew off, and Margaret chose her Cinderella costume.  

It was really stormy in the morning and even the early afternoon, but by after school the rain had stopped and it was just clouded over.  When we got home from school I got a table set up by the front door for our candy bowl, and we ordered pizza for dinner (our Halloween tradition!)  My parents came over and my dad and Andrew finished up creating ‘The Guy,’ that they made using an old shirt and jeans of James’ stuffed with newspaper, a really creepy mask, and plastic eyeballs covering battery-operated tea lights so his eyes would glow in the dark.  They also stuffed another creepy full-head mask full of newspaper and attached it to him to make it look like he was holding a head.  It was really creepy and turned out more awesome than we’d thought it would!  My dad hung him by a wire coat hanger outside our front door, and we sat our life-size skeleton on a chair beside him.  It ended up being a HUGE hit with trick or treaters!  We weren’t there, but my parents (who stayed at our house to give out candy while we were trick or treating with the kids) said that even lots of adults were coming up and taking selfies with ‘The Guy!’  I loved that addition to our typical decor.  

It was perfect weather for trick or treating, and other than Margaret complaining that her hands were cold (note to self, bring gloves next year!), the kids had a blast.  Andrew was the Evil Jester, and he got a lot of compliments on how creepy he looked, which of course he LOVED.  Emily went as ‘Spidergirl’, wearing Andrew’s old Spiderman costume (I couldn’t believe it actually fit her!).  I livened up the costume a bit by painting part of her face to look like Spiderman(girl) (although she only allowed me to do around one eye) and I crimped her hair.  Margaret went as a witch, wearing her same costume from last year, but we made her look a little different by painting her face green and adding warts and spiders, and also crimping her hair.  They all looked great in their costumes.  We didn’t venture as far this year as we have in previous years, but it was still a lot of walking for the kids’ little legs, and they all ended up coming home with full bags of treats.

After devouring way too much candy right before bed (it was Halloween, after all), we watched a bit of the neighbourhood fireworks show from our front doorstep, and then the kids all crashed and went to bed.  All in all, another successful Halloween in our ‘hood!  We also had I’d say at least 100 trick or treaters at our house, and my mom said everyone was super polite, which I always like to hear.

That very evening after everyone had gone to bed, I completely dismantled all our indoor Halloween decorations and re-decorated with our usual decor, and by late the next morning our outdoor decorations were all put away.  I’m happy to have a few more weeks of our usual routine, but I can’t help but be a little excited about putting all our Christmas lights up and getting the tree set up soon!  I vow not to do it until AT LEAST November 25th, though :D

Swimming and dancing

The kids all started swim lessons in late October.  They’re absolutely loving it.  They only go once a week but they look forward to it and talk about going the days leading up to the day.  The girls are obviously in a different class than Andrew, but they’re in the same pool, and I love that we’re able to get all their lessons done at the same time.

I love how game all three kids are for new adventures and trying different things.  Of course, it’s not like the water was a new thing to them.  They’ve been to lots of swimming pools and have always enjoyed the water.  Andrew loved it when I took him to the pool regularly as an infant, but then with not going on a regular basis for a few years he got a bit nervous in the water and I really wanted to change that before he ended up with a potentially life-long issue with water.  I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world, but I’ve always enjoyed swimming and I’ve always wanted that for our kids, too.  It’s also an important life skill to have, and I especially felt that with the close-calls Margaret has had in the water.

There was of course the time a few years ago when I took the kids out to feed the ducks and she fell into the lake and I had to jump in to literally save her from drowning.  That terrified me, and it wasn’t until this summer that I took the girls back to feed the ducks again.  I’ve never felt the same about doing that since that happened.  Then in the summer we were at a pool party at a friends’ house and she had a near miss there as well.  I knew from that experience that I wanted to feel more secure with the kids in the water, so I’m happy they’re finally taking lessons.  Obviously once a week isn’t going to make them strong swimmers, but if I keep them enrolled long-term I do think they’ll be very confident in the water by next summer.  Andrew is already swimming with his face right in the water, which for him is a HUGE feat.  And he loves jumping off the side of the pool and doing cannonballs, which even 6 months ago he was apprehensive about.

I just think it’s great how the kids are always happy to try things, and are just excited to have new activities to do.  They’re so good-natured and (for the most part) happy children, which makes things so much easier on us!  They drive me crazy, not going to lie, but they also warm my heart, and I’m so proud of them for all their achievements in life.  

Andrew is also doing really amazing with his Hip Hop.  He goes to a great school for it, and yesterday James went to talk to the owner about something and all he said was that his son is Andrew and immediately they said, ‘Ooooh, yes, the Hip Hop star!’  It’s true that there aren’t exactly a lot of boys at the school, and I’m going to guess he’s the only ‘Andrew’, but still, I thought it was cool out of several hundred students they immediately knew him and what dance he does.  Yesterday we got to sit in and watch the class to see what they’ve learned so far and Andrew just never stops moving.  A lot of the kids just stand there till it’s their turn to do something, but Andrew can’t stop moving to the beat of the music!  I love seeing his progress with dance, and just witnessing him enjoying it so much.  It really is his favourite thing to do!

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