Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Day...

(From yesterday)

Today was a truly terrible, no good, very bad day.  OH MY GAWD was it ever.  Wow.  I guess right now I should pat myself on the back because, hey, at least I survived it!

I know, first world problems and all that.  Obviously my day could have been far worse.  But it still royally sucked.  It was ‘A Day.’

I went to bed with a migraine last night and woke up with it not as bad but still not great, and I knew James wouldn’t be home till 10pm due to out-of-town co-workers visiting the office this week, which didn’t help.  

I had to take the girls with me to an impromptu meeting at the school first thing and they didn’t behave and it was exhausting and we had to leave part way through after completely distracting the speaker and everyone trying to listen because the girls were fighting over who had the rights to the better toys in the room.  

When we got home, while making eggs for breakfast, I cracked two eggs into a bowl, and the third egg in was filled with BLOOD so ultimately all 3 eggs had to be garbaged.  Totally grossed out and wondering why the hell that didn’t make me an instant vegan.  

Girls fought, so much bickering, so many tears, so much yelling ALL DAY.  

Yes, it was A Day.  

Went to pick Andrew up and Emily needed to pee so I had her pee in the Ikea potty we keep in the van for emergencies because the day was SO BAD there was no way I was going into the school and potentially running into someone I might have to talk to (!).  I put kleenex in afterwards to soak up the pee so there would be no risk of it dumping out while driving, but forgot about the kleenex part when I dump it all into the toilet at home and it clogged the toilet.  A lot of plunging later………

The highlight and GOOD POINT to the day was that we decided to carve a pumpkin….At least it was supposed to be ‘a’ pumpkin, until suddenly it was FOUR pumpkins.  A lot of work for me, but totally worth it and fun.  The kids decided what the pumpkins should look like, and I carved for them.  They were all happy with what they ended up with, and I was, too.  AND we’re all excited for the pumpkin seeds James will be roasting for us tomorrow!  Yum, I can hardly wait!

I ordered Chinese food for dinner because the pumpkins had taken over and it took all I had left just to clean up from that (as well as the dishes from earlier in the day that I’d neglected).  Instead of having it delivered I decided we’d go pick it up, even though it meant piling all 3 kids into the van with me since James wasn’t home, because it would give us something to do for a few minutes.  You know it’s ‘a day’ when you’d rather take all 3 kids to pick something up than just have it delivered to the door for a couple of extra bucks!

I was just thinking to myself, Mmm, that Chinese food was yummy, the kids liked it, too, maybe this day wasn’t soooo bad, when Andrew called out, ‘Oops’ to which I asked, ‘What?’ to which he answered, ‘I spilled some milk’ to which I asked, ‘Where and how much?’ to which I discovered on the couch, and a whole glass.

I would just think the kids were happy (before the girls’ bedtime, for example, they all started a long jump competition using a blanket with stripes as their measure of distance to jump, and I would just think how sweet it was that they were all giggling and playing together so happily when one would do something to annoy another and all hell would break loose and I’d wonder, in all honesty, how many more minutes of the day I could manage.

Emily was asleep almost the instant her head hit the pillow.  Margaret, of course (Oh, Margaret,’ as we often say) took a bit longer, but ultimately even she went to sleep relatively quickly when all was said and done (and teeth were well brushed!)

Andrew and I carved the last pumpkin and then started watching a show on Netflix about little baby animals in the wild, which of course was as cute as it sounds, and then off he went to bed (after somehow conning me into ‘one short story’ which ended up being fun because even though it wasn’t meant to be a silly story, I read it in a silly way and he laughed hysterically and in a way that totally made me happy) and then suddenly all the kids were asleep, and the house was quiet, and the dishes were done, and I had two minutes to actually THINK and then James was home and we were talking about our days.  Mine of which I can’t say I was desperate to recount but at the same time it was what it was.  I just hope tomorrow is better.  As in, soooooo much better, because I can’t even fathom the thought of having another day like today tomorrow!

A lot more happened than what I’ve shared here, of course, and a bit of it was fine but a lot of it felt challenging, frustrating, and in moments downright impossible.  I guess I should just be grateful that the majority of days are NOT like today in my life, and a day like today reminds me that most of the time, even if there can be some bad moments, it’s not like THIS!

Tomorrow is a new day, right?!  I already have my hopes set higher!!

Just random…

I asked Emily today:  What do you love about Mommy?  She replied: I love Mommy because she cuddles me all the time.   And because I love her.  I asked Margaret the same thing and she answered:  I love how Mommy doesn’t make us nap on any of the days anymore!  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Trigger warning: Five years post miscarriage thoughts

Tomorrow will be October 11th, and it will mark five years since I lost our baby#2 at around 11-13 weeks pregnant.

FIVE YEARS.  I can’t believe it.  I still remember it as if it happened just yesterday.  It obviously doesn’t hurt as much as it did then, but it definitely still aches.  I wonder if that pain will ever go away.  Honestly, I feel like it would have by now if it was going to.  But the fact is, having that happen changed me in a big way, and I don’t see how I could ever fully get over going through that.

I am SO blessed (not meant religiously, but it’s the best word to describe it) to have the children that I do.  I am so grateful that I had such a perfect pregnancy with Andrew, who is going to be EIGHT at the end of this year, and who is a healthy, happy, smart, adorable, WONDERFUL boy.  I am so, so lucky to have had such a perfect first experience with pregnancy and birth and the infancy stage and so forth.  My pregnancy following the loss was obviously more complicated given that it was with twins, but how amazingly lucky am I to have been able to have TWO babies at once when most women are lucky to have just one at a time?!  I will always marvel at the fact that we have twins, and although I had concerns throughout the pregnancy and worried about what the delivery would be like, and nearly lost it when Emily didn’t cry at first and I thought she wasn’t OK - when all was said and done, the pregnancy went very well, the birth experience was as good as I could have possibly hoped for, and I ended up with two healthy babies who will be 4 in less than a week, and who are bright, beautiful, smart, funny and just the sweetest little girls in the whole wide world.  I love my kids more than anything in the universe, and I KNOW I am such a lucky mama to have them.

Without the loss I experienced, I would not have Margaret and Emily in my life.  I know that if I’d had my two singletons I would have known no different, and I do like the idea of not having the pain right in my core from the loss, and not have to know what it’s like to have flashbacks to a tragic experience, because I wouldn’t have had that if not for that miscarriage.  However, as much as I wish that baby had survived, I ultimately have to be grateful, for lack of a better word, because I LOVE my boy and I LOVE my two girls, and I really couldn’t have it any other way knowing what I know now.  I couldn’t imagine not having my twins!  I just will never have answers to my questions about the miscarriage, and I think that’s what truly haunts me.  I had to say ‘11-13 weeks pregnant’ because I don’t even have the answer to how far along I was, since I was 2 days away from my dating ultrasound.  I can only say from those few seconds seeing my baby, I am pretty sure I was more like 13 weeks despite that I should have only been around 11.

Shortly after it happened, (a few weeks or month later I think) I remember sobbing about it at a doctor’s visit, and he told me that I HAD to let go of wanting answers because I literally would NEVER have them and I needed to not dwell on that because it would consume me in an unhealthy way because answers were 100% impossible.  I obviously don’t DWELL, and I wouldn’t say it consumes me by any means, but there’s a bit of a nag there whenever my mind remembers.  I would say I remember on a daily basis still, at the very least every few days but I don’t think a day fully goes by that I’m not aware.  It’s just part of who I am, and I guess I should just be thankful that it wasn’t even worse than it was, because I know relative to a lot of women my experience wasn’t that bad, although that in itself is a tragedy to me because to me, it was the most awful experience of my life.

If I could have held the baby and not have had it whisked away so suddenly.  If I hadn’t felt so entirely helpless and shocked in that moment.  If James had been with me and saw it with me.  If I hadn’t been alone in my experience.  If I’d been able to see if it was a boy or girl.  If any tests could have been done to possibly figure out what had gone wrong.  If I’d asked more questions during the ultrasound the day before.  I have so many what if’s still.  I know I can never answer any of it.  But I can’t help but still ask those questions inside my head, and feel sad that I’ll just never know.  And play over in my mind what happened, although I try not to think about it most of the time.  I still feel uneasy about the fact that I have to carry that weight with me literally for the whole rest of my existence, and that’s just the way it is.  It hurts, I’m not going to lie.  I don’t really talk about it anymore.  Occasionally I’ll mention something to James about it, I know he knows it still affects me, but it just is what it is at this point.  There’s nothing that can change it, and I don’t think I dwell in an unhealthy manner, it’s just something that’s there that I have to live with.  I will always find it extremely difficult to drive past, or anywhere remotely near, RCH Emergency.  I think I might rather die than ever step foot in there again, not kidding.  It’s just the way it is.

I’m happy, and I love my family, and I really, really, REALLY am so glad things worked out the way they did so that I got my two girls as well as their big brother.  I’m not happy or glad that a baby we created had to die in order for us to get where we are now, but I also know we wouldn’t have what we have if it hadn’t worked out that way.  I guess it’s a bit bittersweet.  But also incredible that our two girls were born one year and 3 days after the loss.  I know I was SO fortunate to be able to get pregnant again just four months after the loss, and end up with two perfect babies from that pregnancy. It's a wonderful outcome ultimately, I am definitely aware of that, but it's still hard.

Baby #2 died right on Thanksgiving 2011, which definitely changed this holiday, and my life, forever, but I also know I have so much to be thankful for every day, and my three kids are what I’m grateful for the most.  XXX

On the island for Thanksgiving

We went to Victoria on Friday and just got back last night.  We hadn’t been for a few years I think, as it’s quite costly to go (over $100 each way just for the ferry, not to mention hotel and food costs) so I’m glad we were able to make the trip to see James’ side of the family.

We were travelling over on Friday, which wasn’t actually part of Thanksgiving weekend, but we were still worried it was going to be insanely busy because of the new Tsawwassen Mills mall that just opened on Wednesday.  We had a reservation for there and back but you only have a half hour window to get there in time to keep the reservation, so it just felt stressful and we decided to leave extra early just to be cautious.  

As it turned out, there was hardly any traffic the whole way out, and we got there in time to catch the 9am ferry, an hour earlier than the one we had the reservation for!  We let the kids play and wander on the boat for a while and then spent the remainder of the trip in the van.  The kids had their tablets and some snacks to keep them occupied.  It went by pretty fast, and then because we couldn’t check into the hotel (The Sandman) till 4pm, we drove into Sidney to check things out there.  We happened across this place called Mineral World, where the girls had fun filling up little bags full of ‘treasure’ rocks, and Andrew got some cool magnetic stones.  We also hit up a toy store in the area, which was a bit of a mistake because of course the kids desperately wanted something but we didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  The girls came away with tiny little beanie stuffies (an elephant for Margaret she named ‘Buddy’ and a pink raccoon for Emily that she named ‘Fluffy’ and has taken to carrying around in a plastic cup also filled with the rocks she got at Mineral World).  Andrew got a little bag of mini lego type stuff (that isn’t actually lego but I don’t know what to call it).  

We were going to go find somewhere to eat lunch but James decided to call the hotel first to see if maybe we could check in before 4.  It turned out the room was already ready for us, so we got checked in, then went for a bite to eat at a diner not far from the hotel.  We were all getting a bit hangry but that still doesn’t excuse the kids’ HORRIBLE behaviour throughout lunch.  Especially Andrew, who was making us feel like we should cancel our dinner plans with James’ dad and partner (who were out visiting from Ontario), and his sister and her new fiance.  We spent some time resting in the hotel room and then we met up at a Greek restaurant nearby.  It ended up going really well, the kids were so excited to see everyone and they were of course enthralled with them, so everyone was happy there!

On Saturday we woke up to rain, which made it a bit more challenging to come up with something to do.  James wasn’t feeling all that well by that point with his cold, and I was feeling like I might be coming down with it, so we didn’t have a lot of energy for activities.  We also didn’t want to spend a fortune on something touristy that the kids would likely only half enjoy.  We decided to take the kids to Mayfair Mall so they could run around inside a bit, and then we took them to Toys R Us with the knowledge beforehand that we weren’t buying anything, but would take pictures of them with toys they really liked that they might want to put on their Christmas wish lists.  Basically it was just a ploy to pass some time and keep them occupied!  From there we went back to the hotel for a bit of a rest, and then it was time to head over to James’ sister’s house for Thanksgiving dinner (which was delish, AND they even made Tofurky for us!)

Their house is basically a dream home and every square inch looks like it’s right out of a magazine.  It kind of made me want to go home and throw everything out and start over, but one obviously that’s not a possibility, and two, even if I had all their decor our house would still end up looking like a daycare center!!  There’s no way around it.  (They don’t have kids!)

We met James’ sister’s significant other’s family, who were all really nice, and Andrew performed all of his dances and then some.  He and Margaret did a duet of The Final Countdown that was also a big hit!  Emily can do that dance too, but she’s more shy when it comes to performing, especially in front of people she hasn’t 100% warmed up to yet.  By the end of the night she was making the rounds sitting on everyone’s lap, but she still wasn’t completely broken out of her shell.  Another day and I’m sure she would have been!  

Andrew was really sweet at the dinner table.  He’s such a little old man the way he talks to people, and everyone was taken by him.  A little after dinner had started, Andrew announced that our family tradition at Thanksgiving dinner is to go around and tell everyone what we’re thankful for, and he would like to do that if everyone else was OK with it.  So we went around and did that, and it was a highlight of the evening to hear all the nice things people had to say, and how grateful we all were to be together that evening.  I loved that Andrew was the one to get that started, and that he remembered that particular tradition that we have.

We didn’t get back to the hotel till 10pm.  Andrew and Emily both fell asleep on the drive there, but Margaret literally held her eyes open and said she wasn’t going to sleep because she wanted to watch a show before she had to go to bed!  All three kids fell asleep relatively quickly once we were back.

Yesterday morning we met up with James’ dad and co for coffee at the little restaurant in the hotel, and then said our goodbyes and headed over to James’ other dad’s place (the dad that raised him, I know, it’s complicated!)  The bil and sil-to-be were there also, and some of James’ dad’s significant other’s family.  We had a nice visit and a really yummy lunch.  James was at the worst stage of his virus and basically laid on the couch and slept for a lot of the time we were there, and as we were visiting I could feel the virus hitting me but I didn’t want to mention it because I hated to draw attention to the germs we were leaving behind.  We tried really hard to contain it so hopefully no one else will get sick.  By the time we were getting to the ferry on the way home (which we got to in perfect time for our reservation, which we probably didn’t need but I’m glad we had just for security) I wasn’t feeling very well at all.  We were going to just stay in the van for the whole trip but then Margaret announced that she needed to poo, so we all went upstairs for a while and the kids were happy to run around and look in the gift shop (where I refused to buy anything!) and before we knew it, it was time to head back down to disembark.  The cold was really taking me over by that point and has just continued to get worse since.  We got home in really good time, though, and thanks to my mom having spent Friday at our house so the furnace guy could come to do the yearly maintenance, we were able to put the furnace on and heat the house up because it was COLD.  First time using the heat this season!

All in all it was a great visit to the island, I’m glad we were able to make the rounds to see everyone and had all that time with them.  I just wish we could have felt healthier for it, and that the weather had been nicer so we could have done more things outdoors.  For the most part everything went really smoothly, though, so I’m happy about that.

Today we’re just ‘relaxing’.  James and I are taking turns getting some rest, more like!  I put up a few more of our Halloween decorations outside any my plan is to get our backyard stuff all put under cover for the cold seasons, but I’m not sure if I actually have enough energy to do that.  I’m feeling so achy and out of it.  I’m glad we get this extra day to rest up before the regular grind starts up again tomorrow.  Right now the kids are starting a movie, so I might rest my eyes for a few while they’re quiet.

The beginning of fall...

(Written October 3...oops, I am so bad at remembering to post!)

It’s October, so I’ve officially decided it’s time to embrace the fact that it’s Fall and stop mourning the loss of Summer that seemed to happen way too suddenly for my liking.  I don’t love Fall and Winter the way I do Spring and Summer, BUT it has to happen, so I may as well get into all the things I DO love about these seasons.

Friday was a pro-d day so Andrew decided it was the PERFECT day to start our Halloween decorating, despite that it was still September!  I planned to only allow the kids to put up a few of our indoor decorations and then wait a week or so to really get into it, because last year I remember we decorated way too early and by the time Halloween rolled around I was kind of over it. BUT once we had everything out it was impossible not to get into the full swing of decorating.  We still have half our outdoor stuff to add, which I think I’m going to wait to do till after this next weekend, but we’ve got our Halloween spider lights up and I’ve already been enjoying having those on at night time.  I do love having the lights, and look forward to when it’ll be time to get our Christmas lights up in a few months!!

It’s a busy several months between Fall and Winter with Thanksgiving, and then the girls’ birthday the week after, and of course Christmas and Andrew’s birthday following shortly after that...  My dad is having surgery next month and we’re going to be travelling to the island for a few nights to visit James’ side of the family soon so it feels like there’s a lot going on this next little while.  A lot to prepare for, and wrap my head around!  

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!  

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