Friday, July 24, 2015

Are YOU ready for Halloween?!

My kids absolutely LOVE playing dress up.  Lately it’s one of their favourite things, even in the heat (although it’s been slightly cooler lately, at least not a total heat wave at all times...Today it’s actually RAINING, for the first time in ages).

Andrew and I usually start obsessing about Halloween costumes in August so we can get them ordered early on.  It’s like our security blanket that we’re all set for Halloween well in advance!  This year we started looking at costumes online a couple of weeks ago, which looking back I probably shouldn’t have allowed, because Andrew became so fixated on choosing a costume that we HAD to make a decision a few days ago, and as a result, the kids’ 2015 Halloween costumes are currently in transit!

While we were looking into what the girls should go as (with their input...I feel like it was so much simpler when I got to just choose myself, but I can’t help but let them have a say to some extent at least, now that they have their own interests and ideas about things!) we checked out some ads on Craigslist and I came across a Snow White costume and a Witch costume, both of which were in the girls’ current size, and the person was selling them for just $5 each!  I doubted they’d be what we wanted for their actual Halloween costumes, but I couldn’t help but snap them up just for dress-up.  It turns out the girls are OBSESSED with them, and while they definitely aren’t wearing them for Halloween, they have already paid for themselves and we only got them a few days ago.  They both fight over the witch costume at times but usually Emily is Snow White and Margaret is the ‘Dark Witch’ as they call it.  It’s a VERY good thing I stuck to keeping them in matching costumes for their actual Halloween clothes, because I couldn’t stand the thought of them fighting over one costume.  They really do better dressing the same I find.  Unless they choose to wear a particular clothing item and it happens to be different from the other, they don’t have anything to fight over if I just dress them the same.  I still love the cuteness factor of them matching, too.  I’ll definitely do it for as long as I can, and the girls love it, so it’s great all around :)

Yesterday I gave the kids a bath.  We haven’t been bathing quite as often with the water restrictions, or I’ll take a bath and then the kids will all pile in after I’m done (or try to pile in there with me…!)  Emily was so excited to be having a tubby that she grinned from ear to ear and said to me, ‘Tubbies are the best thing in the whole world!’  I thought that was super cute.

Last night Margaret woke up around 11pm.  I was still up, and she knew it by the gate not being locked yet at the top of the stairs.  I heard the pitter patter of her little feet race from her bed to the stairs and she called out, ‘Moooommmmmmyyyyyy!’  I went up and got her tucked back into bed.  She asked me in her teensy little Margaret voice, ‘Are you going to bed now, Mommy?’  I said, ‘Not yet, why?’  She said, ‘Because I miss you when you go to bed, Mommy.  And then I get up and wake up Daddy to tell him, and then he says, that’s it, no rice pudding for you!’  LOL!  It was HILARIOUS.  (The kids will get a little bit of rice pudding on the mornings when they’ve all slept through the night be honest I don’t remember the last time they had it…and it’s 99% Margaret waking up in the night…)

I just love all the cute things the kids say, and I wish life didn’t feel so busy that I could just jot everything down as it’s being said, but it typically doesn’t happen, and then when I’m sure I’ll remember it all at the end of the day, by then my brain is fried and I can’t remember much of anything.

Of course Andrew says hilarious things all the time, too.  Lately I’ve really been noticing how much older he’s looking.  I can’t believe he’ll be turning 7 this year.  I told him he looks like such a grown up boy now, and then he said, ‘But I’m still your baby boy, right, you’ll still call me that?’  I told him that even when he’s 60, and I’m 90, I’ll still call him my baby boy!  He seemed relieved.  I love that he’s still at an age where that wouldn’t seem embarrassing.  He’s still my little cuddle bug, and I hope that doesn’t change for a long time yet.

I just asked him to say something funny for me to finish this post with, and he said, ‘What’s green, sits in the corner, and cries?’  Answer:  ‘The Incredible Sulk!’  :D

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Playland 2015, round one!

On Sunday my parents came over in the morning to watch the girls so we could take Andrew to Playland.  (We plan on taking them on a separate day, but wanted to take Andrew on his own since there’s a lot more he can do there than what they can).

We didn’t tell Andrew where we were going, we thought it would be more fun to keep it a surprise.  We went to Safeway and picked up some sandwiches and snacks to take with us, and then got parked a few blocks away so we wouldn’t have to pay the $10 parking fee.  As we were walking toward Playland, we told Andrew we were heading to the mountain in the distance, and we were going to climb to the top, and all that would be there would be a scenic view of the city.  We thought he would freak out at the whole idea, but he was so good about it and said, ‘Oh, ok, well I think I’ve got the energy for that!’  He of course saw Playland but figured we were walking right past it, and amazingly was fine with it.  Then we said, ‘You know what, maybe the mountain climbing is a bit ambitious, maybe we should just go to Playland today instead?’  And he agreed...but still didn’t believe we were going there.  When we got up near the window to pay he started jumping up and down and said, ‘Are you serious?!  We’re going to Playland TODAY?!!!’  It was well worth the surprise!

The first ride we went on is Andrew’s favourite, The Kettle Creek Mine roller coaster.  It was fun as always!  We went on the hot air balloon ride, The Scrambler (my personal favourite!), the tea cups (I got too dizzy on those this time!), and Andrew also went on the Super Slide, into the pirate ship climber, the motorcycles, etc.  We stopped and had our lunch at a picnic bench in the shade, and then went on the Bumper Cars and Andrew and James went through the House of Mirrors.  (I get too claustrophobic in there, I didn’t do it this year!)  We of course checked out the Haunted House, but Andrew is still way too young to go inside.  This guy was standing outside all done up as a zombie, and was looking at us with a creepy zombie stare.  He shuffled over and then talked to Andrew and wasn’t acting too creepy for him, but it was still too scary for Andrew to stick around for long!

We let him spend $5 to do this rope ladder climbing to try to win an Ipad, which is a total scam since the guy holding the ladder at the bottom makes it impossible to ever reach the top, but Andrew wanted to try so badly anyway.  We also got some cotton candy.  Andrew got a Henna tattoo of a skull and cross bones, but then messed it up when he and James were horsing around in the lineup to go on the roller coaster again, so we had to rush back to the tattoo booth and have the woman fix it.  It didn’t turn out quite as well as they have in the past but it was at least mostly salvaged.

After it dried a bit, we got in line for the log ride, as our final ride of the day (just like last year).  It was so thrilling last year and I was actually shocked Andrew agreed to go on it again, but he was acting like it would be no big deal.  We got on with James sitting in the front, and Andrew in front of me at the back so I could hold onto him.  After we went down the first part he started freaking out because the second part of course is twice as crazy, and he was SOBBING, yelling out things like, ‘We’re gonna die!  We’re gonna drown!  We’re dying, we’re dying!’  I kept telling him there’s no way we’d have gone on the ride if it was going to kill us, just scream at the top of your lungs when we start to fall and that will make it less scary.  (It’s what I do!!)  He just sobbed till it was over.  I felt bad that he was so upset, but afterwards he was joking about it, so I know he wasn’t traumatized!  I’m sure we’ll go on it again next year, because it’s our tradition now :)

It was a VERY hot day and we all got a little bit sun burnt, but nothing too bad.  Even though it was crazy hot, I loved it.  It feels like part of the whole experience to go on a really hot summer’s day.  I’m so glad we got to go and have several hours of time with just the boy.

Another leak....seriously??

On Saturday morning I was doing up a few dishes in the sink when a bead of water running down the wall caught my eye.  It started underneath the cupboard above the sink, and ended at the lip of the countertop.  At first I thought nothing of it, as my mind was drifting elsewhere, as it tends to do when I’m doing dishes.  But then I did a double take.  Why would there be a bead of water running down the wall?!  It’s not like water could have splashed up from the sink and just so happen to form a straight line!  I wiped the water away at the top, and my heart sank a bit when the wetness came right back.  We had yet another leak.  LITERALLY our 8th leak in 2.5 years living here.

We’re friends with a few of our neighbours and we’ve spoken of the various leaks we’ve had, so I had an idea where to investigate.  I went into the living room (part of which is technically the ‘formal dining room’, although we don’t use it for that purpose.  It shares the wall the sink is on on the other side).  I moved our desk over a bit and touched the carpet and cursed under my break when I realized it was wet.  Our brand new carpet from Christmas time due to the last leak (oh wait, no, we’ve had 2 other leaks since then…!!!) and it’s wet...I was freaked right out.  I called the office...which is luckily open on a Saturday, and doubly lucky that someone actually ANSWERED since they tend to screen the calls and often choose to ignore them.  The manager said she would ‘try to find a plumber’ and gave me no ETA, but I did figure he’d arrive in a somewhat timely fashion, as despite the Mickey Mouse work they tend to do, they do usually respond relatively quickly at least where leaking water is concerned.  I turned the main tap off so we no longer had any running water...Which sucked, but I figured it would all be dealt with soon enough.  That was at about 11 in the morning.  The plumber showed up at 7pm…..

It felt like such a long day of waiting.  Apparently I was ‘over reacting’ but the thing is, I know what these leaks mean.  They mean a total sense of insecurity in our home.  I’m reminded each time this happens that we’re always at high risk, because our odds have not been good so far.  It means the house has to go into complete disarray because everything from that part of the room had to be relocated, and it just so happened that the main part of the leak was happening right behind our big book shelf.  So our books are in a huge heap on the floor in another part of the living room, and the shelf is propped on its side away from where the water was.  We had another shelf (with a door) because the book shelf, filled with toys, that is now upstairs because there’s nowhere else to safely store that, so I had to make it work in a new location altogether.  The disarray means my anxiety levels increase because the house is my domain and I put a lot of effort into maintaining it, even though sometimes it might not seem like it.  I can’t stand living like I’m a slob who doesn’t keep things tidy.  I’m tired of every few months having it look like we’re either about to move out or have just moved in and haven’t quite finished putting things away, which is what happens every time one of these leaks takes the place over.

One plus is that it was SO HOT OUT, the water-logged carpet miraculously did dry up relatively quickly (within 24 hours) with just one regular fan pointed on it for that time.  Another positive is that I obviously caught the leak early, because there was no sign of mold, and while the carpet was getting quite saturated, I know from experience it could be a lot worse!

Fixing it probably took about 20 minutes total, but then I had to wait to hear as to when the drywall would be replaced.  I finally reached the manager the next late afternoon, after attempting to reach her in the morning without luck.  She said Thursday would be the day.  No time line, just ‘Thursday’, so it looks like it will be an at-home day for me and the kids tomorrow!  

Something worrisome is that the plumber said that the rest of the pipes in that wall and the one joined to it (that also deal with draining the bathtub upstairs…) are all the ‘bad’ ones as well, so ultimately it’s a ticking time bomb for leaking, but he was only fixing what was leaking that day, so just be aware.  Gee, thanks, thanks a lot…(WHAT?!!)  He also removed pipes in the kitchen without us having anything at all to do with it and then claimed that it ‘wasn’t his job’ to install new ones, but that he’d do it for us anyway, ‘you know, so you’ll at least have running water for the weekend.’  Gee, thanks again, don’t put yourself out too much there, OK!   !!!!!!!!!!

Backtracking to the afternoon, I took Andrew to his school playground for a playdate that was organized for him and a few of his school friends.  It was fun, he had a great time playing tag with them on the playground.  It was a good distraction for me too, as it meant I wasn't pacing around the house wondering why the plumber hadn't arrived yet!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Their very own bikes

We’ve finally had a bit of rain, not enough to end all the water bans I’m sure, but at least the plants and trees have had a bit to drink, and hopefully there won’t be so many fires happening.  Andrew’s starting an outdoor camp tomorrow for the week, so I’m hoping it’s not too rainy for that (but I’m glad he wasn’t doing it in the crazy heat we were having up until a few days ago!)

Last night I scored the best deal ever on two Strider bikes for the girls.  They usually sell used for around $80 EACH, but these were 2 for $30 total, and that included the helmets!  I couldn’t pass it up.  Both Margaret and Emily love to go in circles (because that’s all the space our deck has!) out in our backyard on the tricycle Andrew got for his 2nd birthday.  So when I told them I was getting them bikes, they were over the moon with excitement!  We went and picked them up today, and even though it was raining a bit we stopped at Andrew’s schoolyard and they tried them out.  We brought Andrew’s bike along, too, so he also got some practice in.  The Striders will take some getting used to because they don’t have pedals, and in some ways I think the girls would have been ok with a regular bike with training wheels, because they’ve ridden a friend’s bike before and did amazingly well on it.  Still, I’ve never heard anything bad about a balance bike and it sounds like kids who use those typically learn to ride a 2 wheeler much faster.  I just can’t get over the amazing deal we got on them!  I usually miss out on stuff like that because I’m not checking the sites enough, but I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time!

One of the bikes is pink and one is blue, which could have gone awry in the sense of both girls latching on to one of the colours.  But luckily when Margaret said she wanted the pink one, Emily piped in that she wanted the blue one, and all was perfect.  I love how agreeable they can be.  Doesn’t mean they’re like that all the time, but especially given that Emily is so easy going, it’s generally not too much of an issue, anyway.  Although I wouldn’t have called her easy going all...In fact, of the 3 kids Margaret was the best behaved yesterday!  And that’s definitely saying something!!!  

It feels like fall outside.  It’s not really cold or anything, but it just looks so dreary.  We need it, so I’m not complaining, but it really reminds me of how it feels when it’s fall, and I mean that psychologically.  I’m so not ready for the temps to drop and for it to be rainy all the time!  I can’t stand the thought of losing our backyard living-room-extension!  Thank goodness this will be short lived.  I know we’re potentially in for more heat-wave activity, which isn’t entirely ideal either, but I really do prefer the sunshine.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Two weeks into summer holidays already

It’s almost 11pm, which is my ‘quiet time’, the only real time of the day when I am alone.  That’s not to say I don’t ever have time to myself at other times of day, and I do try to get to the gym several days a week still so it’s not like I never have an hour here and there.  But even at the gym, it still feels like it’s part of the hustle and bustle of the day.  It’s hard to find the time to really stop and collect my thoughts.  I feel sad that I so rarely do so, because I’m not recording near what I want to, and I know I say that in pretty much every second blog post.  I wish I was recording so much more of the kids lives than I do.  Right now, in the thick of it all, it feels like I’ll never forget a single moment.  But case in point, a friend asked about something that’s happening in her 3 month old twins lives, wanting advice because I’ve been there, and I honestly could not remember to give an answer!  At each stage there’s so much going on and you feel like that is the be all and end all of EVERYTHING and then give yourself a year or two and you’re somewhere so different that it all becomes a blur.  I guess that’s just life!

Andrew has been on summer holidays now for 2 weeks, so I guess you could say we’ve fallen into a new routine.  Which is somewhat of a non-routine!  I can’t lie, I love no formal schedule.  I mean, we HAVE a schedule, it’s called little kids.  For example, I don’t remember the last time we ever set an alarm, because there’s no need - we’re guaranteed to be woken before we actually need to be up, every single day of the week!  But not having to be presentable and have all the kids fed and dressed and out the door by 8:30 in the morning?  It’s kind of glorious!  I can’t say I really miss school.  Yet on the other hand, there is something I DO miss about it, if I really think about it...because it gave me the forced structure that I probably SHOULD have.  Still, it’s nice to have a break, and to have more time with Andrew (even though I think the structure of school is really good for him, too).

We’ve been spending more time at home than I’d hoped, though it’s not entirely surprising given there’s ‘one of me’ and ‘3 of them’!  It’s more so because of the heat, and more recently the smoke in the air, though, that has caused us to be more restricted in our activities.  We have had almost no rain whatsoever in several MONTHS now, like as in barely a drop, which is so rare for us here.  It has also been hotter than normal, with temps reaching into the 30s starting to become the new norm, which is NOT what we’re used to.  It’s been so hot that the kids don’t want to stay out for long, and I definitely don’t, and even in the house it’s quite uncomfortable (which is when I start to envy James going off to work outside the home, in an AIR CONDITIONED OFFICE!!  If only!)

But at the same time I feel like we’ve been making the most of it, and I’ve been trying to make an effort to get us out each day, or bring someone to us, so there’s always something happening.  Yesterday we went to two parks in the area that we’ve rarely been to despite how close they are, and we did both before lunch time so we beat the worst of the heat for the day, which was great.  AND the girls napped better because they’d used up a lot of their energy in the early hours!  Today my mom came over so I was able to have a little nap when the girls did, which is extremely rare now that Andrew is home during the day, and I found it really helped me a lot in getting through the rest of the day (read: Witching Hours).

I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed lately, and have had several days where I just felt like there’s no way I can keep up with what I’m having to do...made worse by the reality that I don’t have a choice.  But then I had a really good day with the kids a few days ago, where everything seemed to fall perfectly into place, and Andrew was super helpful and well behaved all day, and the girls were good, and it just made such a huge difference in my own outlook on things.  I want to have more of those days, and I want to create happy summer memories for the kids.  While some days might seem really hard, I want to focus on the ones that are really great, and know that we tried our hardest to have the best day possible!  We still have lots of time in our yard, and we just got news that we WILL be getting a proper fence put in, which means there are new upgrades to be seen still this summer, and this time ones that are not out of pocket, which is a real bonus!

Still haven’t come up with our ‘clipboard of fun’ for tomorrow, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something :)

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Heat Wave, Canada Day, and other stories...

This past week we’ve just been doing what we can to keep cool.  It’s been so hot that when I’ve taken the kids to the park, they’ve asked to go home sooner than I’d expect.  Actually, they usually get really upset when it’s time to go and I basically have to force them to leave!  But it’s just so HOT.  Luckily the downstairs of our house doesn’t get overly stifling (upstairs is another story) and by late afternoon it’s somewhat comfortable in our backyard.  By the time the kids go to sleep (which is getting later, typically around 9 these days) all James and I want to do is sit out back in the lounge chairs and enjoy the cooler air.

The heat wave has been amazing in some ways, because it’s sort of a novelty here on the usually ‘wet coast’ to have the luxury of spending time outside in the sun EVERY DAY.  But I think the vast majority would agree that the novelty has worn off and we need some rain.  Of course, not too much, just enough to cool things down, water the earth, get us away from the water usage restrictions, and then bring the sunshine back!  Preferably doing the rain thing during weekdays so weekends could still be nice for family outings.  Please and thank you, weather gods!!!!

On Friday James and Andrew went over to Victoria to spend a few days with James’ mom (whose birthday was yesterday).  I haven’t spoken to her since Christmas day, and don’t see any change to that in the foreseeable future, but it was good for the boys to go over for a visit.  The girls didn’t get to go because it would be too much for James to have to take all 3 kids over on his own, not to mention way too expensive if he was to take the van.  If he didn’t take the van, there wouldn’t be enough room for car seats for all 3 kids, so yeah.  The girls stayed with me, which worked well except that Margaret is still not a very good sleeper and I barely got any rest at all.

James just went for one night, but Andrew stayed on and will be home in about an hour.  James took the girls with him to go pick Andrew up at the ferry and spend a few hours with the mil there.  So I’ve had several hours completely to myself at home, which almost never happens.  It’s been nice, although too hot to nap, which is unfortunate because I desperately need to catch up on some sleep!  Still, it’s been nice to have some down time.  I got some stuff organized, sat and ate a meal all to myself without anyone eating half of it for me, watched a show, rearranged part of the living room (which I’ve been wanting to do for a while now!), did some writing (as well as this writing I’m doing now!), made some homemade lavender bath salts (another thing I’ve been wanting to do for some time) and just vegged for a while.  I plan on sitting out in the backyard with a cool drink in a few.  The calm before the storm...and by storm I don’t mean the rain we need, but the sudden burst of crazy energy called Andrew, Margaret, and Emily that will be flying through the front door in about an hour!!

Backtracking a bit to last Wednesday, we did get to Burnaby Village Museum to celebrate Canada Day.  We met up with my aunt and uncle and cousins there.  We checked out the magic show shortly after we got there, and when the magician was asking for volunteers for the audience, Andrew’s hand flew in the air and he got picked to help with one of the magic tricks!  It was so cute watching him up there in the limelight, which I swear is his favourite place to be!  He absolutely loved it, and periodically would look over to where I was standing and give me this huge grin.  It was hilarious watching how the trick played out, and also clever because I still have absolutely no idea how it was done!  The girls enjoyed the festivities as well, and partook in the bean bag tosses and of course the carousel ride.  Whenever I mention Burnaby Village Museum their eyes light up, and Margaret talks about how the horsie goes around and around and up and down!  They love it.  After BVM we came back to our place and had a picnic/buffet type meal and pretty much spent the whole afternoon in our backyard visiting with family.  It was a great day!  

The next day I went to Costco in the morning with my mom (my dad had the day off so he watched the kids on his own for a couple of hours, first time ever I think with all 3 alone!)  Costco...I love a lot of the products but I can’t really stand shopping there.  I only go a few times a year because it’s just so frustrating there, but I was happy to get what I did.  In the evening we had James’ cousins (I think 3rd cousins?) for a visit, which was great.  Actually, we’d got together with them last Sunday at the park on Commercial Drive (which was a bit sketchy but the playground was good for the kids!  Not sure how soon I’d go back there, though) and then decided to invite them over so we could chat some more.  I wish they lived closer.  Sadly, they used to live in New West and we almost never saw them and now I’m kicking myself because they’re great and I wish we’d hung out with them more when they were so close by.  They have 3 kids similar ages to ours, so it works perfectly.  But they’ve moved to the US so it will probably be a while before we get to see them again.  Still, it was great to have the visit that we did.  And we’ve definitely been getting great use of our new backyard set up so far this summer with all this entertaining!