Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve is here!

I can’t believe The Big Day is almost here.  Santa is already making his rounds in other parts of the world!  It has been a whirlwind of preparation for this day, and yet at the same time it feels like the past month has flown by.

We’re all set for tomorrow.  Last night Andrew slept over at the mil’s, so I took the opportunity to bring ALL the presents downstairs and I hid them in the under-the-stairs closet.  (Fingers crossed we don’t end up with another leak in there before the presents are out…!!!)  This way I won’t have to panic tonight, trying to get everything downstairs without waking Andrew up.  His bedroom is right at the top of the stairs, and he sleeps with his door wide open and his light on...and the stairs are fairly creaky.  Not the best combo when trying to stealthily relocate presents from my closet to under the tree!  So my mind is at ease about that.  I have already prepared the mashed potatoes and the carrots and parsnips, which will make things so much easier for dinner prep tomorrow.  James is in charge of the tofurky (we’re looking forward to our tofurky, we haven’t had one since last Christmas!)  The mil is bringing the Brussels Sprouts, and it will be easy peasy to make the veg gravy, heat the cream corn, and get the other things like olives and cranberry sauce in bowls.  I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it!

I really want to watch Home Alone later, and then after the girls go to bed, Andrew, James and I are going to play some board games.  Should be a fun, festive evening!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Pre Christmas craziness and Andrew's 6th birthday party

It was a really busy/stressful week last week, and I’m glad to have it over with.  I got so burnt out that I literally made myself sick.  My body just started shutting down, forcing me to stop doing so much but at the worst time possible.  I still had so much to do.  I managed though, and luckily James was able to work from home on Friday and helped me out A LOT.  I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.  (Especially when on Thursday around 11pm I discovered YET ANOTHER LEAK, this time in our downstairs bathroom ceiling...which meant shutting off the water and again having to have someone come in to do repairs in the morning...They’re replacing the drywall on Xmas Eve....but I’m not even going to focus on that…)

The maple walnut fudge Andrew and I made, that we packaged to look like Rudolph, turned out REALLY well, I was actually really proud of them.  I found the idea on Pinterest and while my fudge didn’t look ‘perfect’, it tasted delicious, and it looked festive anyway!  We made them for Andrew’s teacher, principal, and other staff at the school that are special to Andrew.  We made 9 total.  It was a lot of work, but totally worth it.  Andrew also made cards for everyone, and we got his teacher a few extra goodies for her present.

I felt like I had the flu all day on Friday.  James let me have a few hours sleep in the afternoon, and I woke up feeling just as crummy as before the rest, but I’m sure I’d have been worse off if I hadn’t had that.  I still had to go out in the evening to get the last minute stuff for Andrew’s birthday party, which we were hosting on Saturday.  I picked up his cake, which was done in red, blue, and green (Super Mario colours) and I added the cake topper I’d bought online.  It came together really nicely!  We ordered the pizza Friday night, too, so we’d have everything for the party and not have to worry about anything in the morning.  I had all the decorations and table set up for the party by 8pm on Friday night.

Saturday morning I was (thankfully) feeling a bit better, and everything came together perfectly for the party.  Being prepared in advance, I didn’t have much to do in the morning, so it wasn’t like I had to race around and feel stressed about getting everything ready.  

Only 3 of the 5 kids that were invited to Andrew’s party showed up.  It was kind of funny, because the kid who’d made a big deal about not being invited so we invited him, did not show up!  And the only girl who was invited wasn’t allowed to come.  So it was basically his 3 best friends from school that were here.  It turned out to be a really good dynamic and 3 was plenty, because it meant there were the 4 boys and then with our two girls, it still seemed like a lot of people!  Two of the parents stayed and that ended up being really nice because we got to chat more and get to know each other a bit better.  Since we of course live in the same area, it’s nice to know that not only can Andrew have play dates with his friends in the future, but we can get together, too!  It finally feels like we’re getting to know some people in the neighbourhood, which is nice.  It turns out that one of his friends lives in the complex right behind ours, and they can actually see our backyard from the front of their house!

The boys were a bit rough with each other and fought a little bit, but for the most part they played well together.  I was a little surprised to see how boys interact so aggressively, although I guess I shouldn’t have been!  They found a box of old Halloween costumes and took turns dressing up as different characters, and they danced around and played Blind Man’s Bluff.  We have tons of toys so they just randomly played for a while, and then we got them sitting in the dining room for pizza.  They liked the Super Mario theme and seemed to appreciate the activity placemats I’d got, and while they didn’t eat a whole lot they all seemed to like the food.  We had to do cake right after the pizza because one of Andrew’s friends had to leave a bit early, so we did that and then the kids played a bit more and before we knew it, the party was over.

Andrew got an iron man toy, 2 shirts (one that says Santa’s Helper and one that says Big Brothers Rock!) and $10 and some tattoos.  We gave him a Super Mario t-shirt (to wear at his party) and a DVD of the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, which was a cartoon from 1989.  He and the girls all seem to like it, even though I find it quite cheesy (although I remember watching it sometimes when it was on back in the day!)

Andrew really enjoyed his party, and one of his friends said it was the best birthday party he’s ever been to!  He tends to tell it like it is, so I took it as a good sign that the party was a hit.

I had thought that the kids party would have been more stressful for me, since it involved non-family members who’d never been to our house before, but I actually found it to be WAY less stressful than the usual parties we’ve done where it’s all family!  Not sure exactly what I mean by that…(!!!) but I will say that one it’s hard to compare because the usual parties generally involve a lot more people, so of course there’s a lot more prep involved, but two I find kids in the 5-6 year age range pretty easy to please, so we didn’t really have to do a whole lot to ensure they were having a good time!  I’m REEEEALLY glad I decided to do his birthday party BEFORE Christmas, so that on his actual birthday we can do something much more low key and not be having to put on a party on New Year’s Eve.

With the party out of the way, I started to feel a weight lifting from my shoulders, and I felt a whole lot better, although I still don’t feel 100%.  I’m just tired, I don’t think I have a virus at least (except for the cough I’ve had for over a month that won’t go away).  I’m just a bit run down, but definitely not as bad as I was a few days ago.  James’ mom came over later in the afternoon on Saturday, so James and I went out for a quick coffee date, and then had a bite to eat at Fatburger (because I had a groupon to use up).  It was a really rushed date because we didn’t have much time, but it was nonetheless enjoyable to be out for a bit just the two of us.

Yesterday we had a ‘quiet’ day (as quiet as a day can be with 3 little kids…!!!) James went to the mall to do some last minute shopping, then I had a little break while the girls had their nap.  Later in the afternoon I took the kids over to my parents’ place for a couple of hours so James could rest, then I had another little break, and then we got the kids sorted and took them for our annual drive to look at Christmas lights!  It’s one of my favourite things to do around the holidays, so I was really excited about it.  It was a clear night and we ended up seeing so many amazing light displays.  We all had a great time.  I love how the girls got so into it, too.  Emily would call out, ‘Daddy’s side, Daddy’s side!’ when there were good lights coming up from his side of the car.  It was really cute.  When Andrew started getting tired (it was way past the girls’ bed time, and getting to be past his, too), we said we were heading home and Margaret said, ‘No, MORE LIGHTS, MORE LIGHTS!’ because she wanted to keep going!  It was really sweet.  I love sharing those traditions with our kids.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Andrew's pre-birthday class party!

We’re so close to Christmas, I can taste it!  Actually, Andrew and I DID make some Christmas sugar cookies for his class party tomorrow, and they’re delicious.  The only thing was, I realized I was going to have to make 3 more batches in order to have enough for all the kids, possibly their siblings, and a few kids from other classes that might be joining us.  It had already taken us about an hour and a half to make one batch, and I couldn’t fathom spending half a day or more making cookies.  So off to the store we went...and thank gawd Safeway had kits of ready-made cookies in the shapes of snowmen, ornaments, and stockings, complete with icing and candy to add to them, AND they also double as ornaments for the tree!  Perfect.  I’ll take the ones I made, too, but I think the kids will do better with the kits.

We’re actually hosting a little birthday/Christmas party for his class tomorrow.  About 2 weeks ago we handed out invitations to his actual birthday party, which we’re having on the 20th even though his birthday is on the 31st (I thought it would be better to have his party when the kids would be more likely available to attend, and with his birthday being new year’s eve, we figured that might be an issue.  Also, while we’ll still do a small cake and of course celebrate on his actual day, I thought it would be much less stressful over the holidays to have had his birthday party done beforehand!)  We decided he could invite 4 kids, to keep it small (since his sisters will be there too, that already brings it up to 7 kids total!)  

Luckily we were able to talk to his teacher before giving out the invites, as I was worried about how it would affect the other kids to find out they weren’t invited.  I’d invite everyone if I could, but 16 kids plus the girls would be WAY too crazy, not to mention way too much food and mess and just NO!  The teacher talked about it with the kids when I wasn’t there, and of course the ones who weren’t invited had hurt feelings, but the teacher did a great job of making them feel better by saying that we’d put all their names in a hat and picked out 4 as that’s how many he could invite, and that it wasn’t about playing favourites (even though in reality Andrew did get to choose...although in all honesty he really would have wanted to have everyone there!)  One boy took it so hard that he ran to the cloakroom sulking and Andrew had to go talk to him about it!  LOL  We ended up inviting him, saying we’d randomly picked one more person and his name came up!  I felt SO BAD, the kids totally tore at my heart strings.  I really like everyone in his class and wouldn’t want any of them to feel left out or have hurt feelings.

So the teacher agreed to letting me host a little party for the whole class, but during class time (so I’m not actually having to be in charge of everyone!)  Originally I was going to make mini cupcakes but the teacher suggested the cookie decorating activity, so that’s what we went with.  I decided to get little goodie bags for everyone, which I was able to do really cheaply at the dollar store.  I think they’re going to love it, Andrew and I put them together yesterday - each little loot bag has 5 things in it.  A ring, a bouncy ball, a party blower, a slinky in the shape of a star, and a little box of Christmas stickers.  Andrew really enjoyed thinking about what colour to give each person, and I was happy to see him getting excited about what other people would get out of receiving the gifts.  I think it’s going to be a crazy afternoon, but a fun one!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A picture with Santa

Yesterday (with the help of my parents) I took the kids for their picture with Santa.

I’d taken the girls over to my moms’ in the afternoon, and left them there to go pick Andrew up after school.  We arrived back at about the same time my dad came in from work, and I got the kids all done up into their fancy Christmas attire.  We were apparently not moving fast enough for Andrew’s liking, and he got into a really grumpy mood to the point I was about to call the whole thing off.  As it was, it was a good thing we showed up at 4pm, as Santa was JUST finished his break when we arrived.  There were 3 families ahead of us so it took no time at all before it was our turn.  

I’d done everything I could think of to get the kids excited about getting their picture with Santa.  Andrew has always loved Santa, even as an almost 1 year old on his first Chistmas.  Margaret is pretty OK about Santa, too.  But Emily...None of my kids are shy, but Emily will sometimes take a few minutes to warm up to people.  Her first Christmas (at 2 months) she spit up all over Santa’s arm as soon as I handed her to him.  Last Christmas she managed to sit long enough for the picture but she was resisting and didn’t want to be there.  I thought this year she might do OK because she’s watched shows with Santa, and knows he’s bringing presents, and she hears Andrew go on about how great he is.  She was doing pretty well till it came time to go sit with him.  She was holding my mom’s hand, and started to pull back like she wanted to go the other way.  Then she resisted completely and started yelling, ‘No, No, No, NOOOO!’ as I tried to force her onto his lap.  LOL  Fa la la la, la la la la!  Margaret was on one knee and Andrew sitting beside Santa.  I tried putting her beside Margaret, away from Santa, but she freaked.  Andrew offered to hold her but she freaked.  I tried her on the complete opposite side of the bench and it was NOT HAPPENING.  So I sat down beside Andrew on the bench and had Emily on my lap and in the end we got a pretty good picture with all of us looking at the camera!  Emily had both her hands in her mouth but didn’t look nearly as unhappy as she actually was!  LOL  I hadn’t planned on being in the picture myself, so note to self: dress for the occasion even if you’re not planning on being a part of it.  I really wish I’d been wearing a different shirt as I felt like I didn’t match the kids in their black and red, and me in blue and black stripes.  BUT over all it worked out well.  It would have been even better if James had been there and could have been in it, too, but the bench was getting fairly crowded as it was!  It was quite the experience, that’s for sure.

O Christmas tree, and holiday get togethers

On Friday our new carpets were installed.  The workers got here half an hour early and were done in lightning speed.  I was overjoyed when the job was done!  Our place has never looked so good, since the upper portion of the living room needed replaced before we even moved in.  Having it all plush and perfectly matching the new carpet in the rest of the living room just looks SO nice.  I’m in love with it!  I also love the new carpet smell, it makes it feel as though we’re living in a new house.  A new sink is being installed in our upstairs bathroom as I type this, and the downstairs bathroom is getting an update sometime this week.  There’s always more to be done around here, but I’m glad we’re getting some things taken care of.

It’s amazing the weight that was lifted from me when the carpets were done and I could start putting things back in their rightful place.  They’ve yet to come back to paint the drywall/put linoleum in the closet under the stairs, so there’s still some disarray we’re dealing with, but it’s nothing compared to how it was.  

On Saturday we had my grandma and my parents over for a little visit in the afternoon, and we had our Christmas tree up but not decorated yet.  We put it up on Friday night (after we attended the Craft Fair at Andrew’s school and then went out for an early dinner at White Spot just the 3 of us, while my parents watched the girls).  I knew right away that we’d made a good choice, the perfect choice for us, in getting this particular tree.  It was ‘only’ $150, is pre-lit, and it came with a remote control with 7 different modes for the lights.  It can be just white lights, white with colour, and then all sorts of variations of twinkling and colour sets.  I LOVE IT!!  It’s 7.5 feet and it feels like the perfect tree for us!  

On Saturday night the mil came over with the bil and his new girlfriend (the bil and sil got divorced last year) and we had a little tree decorating party.  It ended up going really well.  The bil was in a good mood, and we really get along well with his girlfriend.  She also happens to be a nanny so she’s really great with the kids, which is always a plus!  And while my bil hasn’t really bonded all that much with the kids in the past, especially the girls, he was really hands on and helpful with them, so I was really happy about that.  After getting all the kids to bed (and finally, eventually, SLEEPING!) we played a game called Caption Captions.  It ended up being SO much fun.  Basically everyone gets 5 little pieces of paper and numbers them as such.  On the first paper you write a caption.  It could be anything.  For example, for my first one was, ‘I like to make snow angels in the snow!’  Then you hand your stack of papers to the person to your right, and everyone draws a picture of the caption on the 2nd piece of paper.  Pass to your right, then write a caption for THAT picture, and so on till you end up with another caption at the end.  Then you all go around and share what your caption became.  As my bil put it, ‘There are no winners with this game, essentially we’re all losers!’ LOL  It’s a really hilarious game, and great for getting people laughing - I recommend pairing the game with several festive drinks =)
On Sunday I had a hair appointment at 11, and had to bus for the first time in I can’t even remember how long to get to it.  We were having a gingerbread cookie making party in the afternoon at my brother’s place, and it made more sense for James to be able to drive them there to meet me.  It wasn’t a big deal to bus and skytrain, but I’d forgotten how much time is tacked on to waiting for transit, and then having people cough and sneeze around you, or crazy people do things you’re unsure about, and having to smell people’s smells...LOL  I felt a bit like a duck out of water, which is ridiculous after literally 15 years of taking transit ALWAYS and thinking driving would be a pain in the ass!  I love my van now, what can I say!  

My hair appointment went well.  I basically got the same cut as last time, it just needed to be redone.  But the colour is awesome.  Lots of magenta on the sides and the base colour is fairly dark but there just seem to be a lot of nice highlights throughout.  I’m really happy with it.  I love having short hair, it’s so much easier to maintain.  

The party went well at my bro and sil’s.  My sil decided to set up the cookie decorating on the coffee table in the living room, so that Margaret and Emily would be able to do some, too.  I thought it would be a nightmare with candy and sparkles EVERYWHERE but it turned out really well.  The girls decorated their cookies fairly neatly.  Emily enjoyed placing little candy balls on top of the icing, and Margaret enjoyed licking the icing off of hers as soon as it was put on!  Andrew really got into the whole thing and decorated some giant cookies that my bro had got just for him.

We had lots of party type snacks, and then my bro had made the most delicious mac n’ cheese EVER and a really yummy vegetarian chili.  It was such a treat to me to get a home cooked meal that I didn’t make myself.  I almost never have a meal made for me, maybe a couple of times a month James makes dinner on the weekend but otherwise I pretty much make everything we eat.  And I don’t really love cooking, so having someone make a meal for me is AMAZING.  

It was a good weekend and nice to have all that visiting time, but it was also SO tiring and James and I have come away from it pretty exhausted.  I wish we could get more rest and also some time together just the two of us.  On Friday (the 5th) it was our 16 year anniversary since our first kiss.  I know that might seem a silly thing to want to celebrate (I mentioned to my mil that it was 16 years since our first kiss and she said, ‘That’s a weird thing to celebrate, do you also celebrate the first time you….’ and then made a face...I couldn’t even dignify that with an answer...who’s mother says something like that to their child?!  Oh yeah...James’ does...but anyway…)  It’s important to us because it’s basically when we started falling in love.  I remember our first kiss like it just happened, it was really special and also signified an important time in our lives.  But we didn’t really get to celebrate it yet, unfortunately.  We just don’t ever get the chance for a date.  Hopefully eventually we can, at some point over the holidays.

Now that the carpet is fresh and new and the mould is gone and the new walls are up, I feel like I can just focus more on Christmas and getting into the holiday vibe.  I can’t believe Christmas is coming up in just a few weeks!!  

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Just for the record...

The issues at our house have felt all-consuming this past week (at least).  James told me I’m stressing out unnecessarily, that it is what it is.  And maybe he’s right, but at the same time it’s such a huge disruption to my life and our routine (mine especially) and I hate that.  I also find it very frustrating when the manager we go through says one thing but then the people who are sent to do the work do something else, or have no idea what’s even going on.  I finally feel like I’ve got something settled with one person, and then I’m thrown for a loop when the workers arrive and have a different story.  I am not a person who flies by the seat of her pants, I like to have things planned out in advance with no surprises, please and thank you.

Yesterday the manager came over to look at the carpets and there’s NO WAY she couldn’t have smelled how musty and disgusting it was as soon as she walked in the door.  She agreed that the carpets need to be changed in both (all) sections of the living room.  She said she had already ordered it, and after getting the drywall done today (which it was), the painting could be done Thursday and the carpets put in on Friday.  I was feeling so much better about things after her visit.  She said the carpet cleaner was coming over at 4:30 (which it basically WAS 4:30 at that point) and they’d suck up as much of the water from the carpets as possible to help the smell not be so bad till Friday when the new ones would be put in.  

At 6:15, just as I was about to drain the spaghetti noodles and put dinner on the table, the doorbell rings (despite my sign RIGHT BESIDE THE DOORBELL says to knock because we have twins and if they’re sleeping I’m not going to be pleased if they’re woken) and it’s the carpet people!  And they don’t even say sorry or anything for being late, or for OBVIOUSLY coming at the worst possible time (think tantrums, screaming, freak outs galore and everyone wondering why suddenly we’re not getting fed and are being told to go upstairs!)  I asked them if they could please just cut out the gross sections of carpet because they’re so nasty that cleaning them isn’t going to help at this point, and they said yes but they didn’t speak much English (which is a pattern and similar to a post a while ago about language issues, I can’t help but feel frustrated that we’re not able to communicate with the people who are coming to our house to do a service.  Multi-culturalism is good, but I really do have a problem with the complete inability to communicate when it’s important that we should be able to).  So even though they said yes to cutting out the gross sections, they cut out a little piece of the underlay in both of the worst sections, but left a ton of several-days-soaked underlay and carpet, and then proceeded to shampoo half of our lower living room when half of it wasn’t in need of it, so instead of a partial wet spot all over the carpet we had the majority of the room soaking wet!  So frustrating.  They left two giant, extremely LOUD fans that they insisted we keep on ALL THE TIME FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS to dry it all out, but not to ever leave the children unattended near the fans.  Yeah, OK, tell me how I’m supposed to go and get their meals and snacks or do ANYTHING that requires me to ever leave the room.  And I’m sorry but NO.  We did leave the fans on all through the night last night, and ultimately I think all it did was blow the musty smell EVERYWHERE into the entire house.  When I got up this morning, I opened the bedroom door to head to the bathroom and literally felt like my breath was taken away by the odour.  So nasty.

The drywallers showed up at 10am and I had been told it would probably take ‘a couple of hours’ to get the job done.  The actual workers were very pleasant, but also spoke only a few words of English, so I couldn’t get a clear answer as to when they’d be done (it was another person altogether who’d estimated it would be a few hours).  The issue I had was that I had to leave by 2:45 to pick Andrew up from school, and I couldn’t have them there without me/locking the door, so basically they had to be done by the time I had to leave.  In the morning I’d been told that would be no problem.  Luckily my mil was able to take the girls to her place for the day so they didn’t have to be dealing with all of the chaos, because it was very noisy, dusty, and did I mention noisy?!  And the smell, well, let’s not even go there!!  I had both the front and back sliding doors open for HOURS and I’m pretty sure it was in the minus degrees, so I was frozen, and cranking the furnace up which will be awesome for our heating bill.  

At 1:00 I thought they were about to tell me they were just about done but instead he had come to say that they were going to take a half hour lunch break and then would be back to do the rest.  I said ok, but I have to leave by 2:45.  He said it wouldn’t be possible for them to finish before that, probably 3 or 4.  When I said the issue was me not being there and them not having a key, and he was confused about what I was saying so I decided I would just go get Andrew out of school early and then I wouldn’t be worrying about it anymore.  So I went and got him at 1:15 instead of 3, and it worked out fine.  We ended up drawing and doing a craft project for about 2 hours together, and it was nice to have that time just the two of us.  I’d say ‘quiet time’ but it wasn’t as the drywalling was quite noisy, but it was nice having some quality mommy/son time, anyway.

When they left at 4 I decided Andrew and I would go pay a visit to the management office as I’d been calling all throughout the day without ever getting an answer to my calls (not surprising as this is generally the case when they know you’re going to be asking them questions they may not want to answer or don’t have answers for or having answers for that they know you won’t like!)  Of course the managers were both there, (confirming that they’d been screening my calls just minutes before - madness!!) so I chatted with the one who we tend to deal with, and maybe sort of kind of got things sorted out.  Our new dishwasher (oh, did I not mention, that started to go recently, too) was supposed to be delivered today and I of course was waiting all day for that to happen but no one ever even called about it, so she said tomorrow it will be delivered.  (We’ll see if it actually happens, I’m not holding my breath!)  It sounds like MAYBE the walls will be sanded and painted tomorrow and the linoleum put in under the stairs...And then on Friday we get the new carpets.  One snag, though, is that her superior has not actually ok’d the carpets yet!  WTF?!!!  One of the carpets HAD MUSHROOMS GROWING OUT OF IT and the manager is not wanting to sign off on replacing it?!  This is seriously what we’re up against.  She said she agreed with us that it needs to be replaced, and I sent her some pictures to prove it is bad, and I told her the reason I was there was to tell her that I was planning on having my dad over tonight to cut out the really nasty pieces because the smell is unbearable and not healthy for my family to be constantly breathing in, I really can’t take it anymore!  At first she said we should wait till tomorrow but I said I didn’t think I felt comfortable with the kids staying in the house over night with that smell and she said you know what, just cut it.  If you feel it’s best for you and your family, it’s what you should do.  So we did!  My dad came over after work and cut out several pieces of carpet and after just a few hours of that (and after spraying an odour remover over the concrete area) I am not smelling the mustiness much at all.  It was NASTY, my dad couldn’t believe how bad it was in one section.

We have to have blankets over it while the kids are still up but tonight I’ll put the giant fans on through the night and see if it won’t dry things up by tomorrow.  It’s a total nightmare in here to me, but I am HOPING that they will come through for us and have the carpets done on Friday as I’ve been hearing is the plan, and then all will be well in my world by Friday night!  And our plan is to have a Christmas Tree decorating party on Saturday with family, so it better work out that way.  We have a brand new 7.5 foot Christmas tree sitting so sadly STILL IN THE BOX in our front foyer and I am itching to put it together and start focusing on Christmas the way I’d hoped to have been doing by now.