Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye Xmas, Hello NYE (aka Andrew's birthday!)

I can’t believe Christmas is over!  I say that every year around this time, but every year I can’t believe how quickly the holiday comes and goes.

We had a really great Christmas.  I spent a lot of Christmas Eve cleaning and preparing food for Christmas day, and then in the evening we just relaxed, James and I worked on a Christmas puzzle.  We actually completed two puzzles so far over the holidays.

I figured the kids would have had us up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, and I was restless in part because I was expecting to be woken but also because I’m a big kid at heart and couldn’t help but feel the excitement of it all myself!  But we were pleasantly surprised to not be woken until almost 645!  Which for little kids on Christmas day is amazing, if I were to compare them to what I was like as a child.  

The kids were so excited to race down the stairs and check that Santa had indeed been to our house!  His cookies were all eaten, just the stem of the carrot for Rudolph was left behind, clearly he’d glugged down the eggnog, and he left a cute little note behind thanking the kids.  We all opened our stockings, and then James and I had some coffee while the kids started opening their presents.

Margaret and Emily got what they asked for from Santa - Cinderella dresses, and shoes (which also happen to light up and are so cool!  It’s possible Santa got them right from the Disney store!!).  And they even got Cinderella tiaras that came with little bouquets of flowers.  Andrew got an Earthworm Jim toy and DVD, the KAOS trap for his Skylanders game, and a Joker Duplo set (all things he'd asked for).  Of course they also got a million other toys, books, games, and so forth.  The girls got a dollhouse and lots of accessories and dolls to use with it (which I have to admit I have had some fun playing with, too!)  Andrew got a cool dart board and some Nerf guns.  And like I said, so much more.  It was a bit overwhelming.  I always forget how much other people are also buying them so once everything has been unwrapped I have no idea where we’re going to put it all!  We really have to scale it back.  But everything they got is great stuff that we can rotate throughout the year, and the plan is that before James goes back to work we are once and for all SERIOUSLY getting rid of a LOT of what they had before Christmas.  I really do want to have quality over quantity and at the moment there’s far too much quantity happening!  

The kids really loved all their gifts, though, and James seemed happy with his (I got him a piano bench, since he was using a really uncomfortable step stool as his piano chair, some new cozy pants, a Scotch decanter, Santa brought him some booze, and he got a Star Wars t-shirt from Andrew and cycling sunglasses from the girls, etc, etc).  I was also very grateful for my gifts.  I always get great stuff in my stocking, and I also got a bottle of Grand Marnier from Andrew (lol!) (which I’ve always wanted but have never actually received before!), a day planner from Margaret and Emily, and a new camera from James that I was so shocked by because I really wasn’t expecting a gift like that.  It takes great pictures and works so much better than my iphone in the lower lights that we have in our house.  The feature I love the most is that with the click of a button I can sync it to my phone so it’s still really easy to send or post pictures when I want to.  I also got pj’s and lots of great bath stuff, a necklace and earrings from my mom.  Etc, etc...I felt so spoiled!

My parents came over at 11 and we exchanged gifts with them and had some mimosas and some nibblies.  Then they went home for a few hours and the kids had naps and actually I had a little nap myself later in the afternoon which helped me keep going for the rest of the day.  My parents came back for dinner and we had such a delicious meal, a lot of which my mom cooked and brought which was awesome.  James was of course in charge of the Tofurky, which never disappoints!  It was a great visit and I loved having such a low-key, happy Christmas day.

On Boxing Day we just took it easy in the morning and then in the afternoon my parents, and bro and sil came over for a post-Christmas get together.  We put out an assortment of nibblies and had some drinks and chatted, it was such a nice visit.  I felt completely fine the entire visit and then about an hour after everyone left, I felt like I was starting to come down with something.  By the morning of the 27th I knew for sure I had a cold, and it just got progressively worse from there.  I should mention that a few days before Christmas, James came down with a cold but was basically better by the day of.  It seemed to only last 3 days tops.  Margaret came down with it on Christmas Eve, so I wasn’t entirely SURPRISED that I got it, just annoyed since it’s the worst time of year for illnesses and I’m tired of getting colds all the time!  It turned into more of what felt like a flu bug with so much achiness involved and just this really ill feeling in my head, plus the head cold.  Unfortunately I just didn’t have time to properly rest up because we were having my bil and sil-2b staying with us yesterday till today.  James’ dad and partner were also coming over, and we’d booked the party room in a nearby building to have a get together with them as his dad’s partner is very allergic to cats and can’t come to our house because of that.  Which meant having our place all geared up for the bil and sil staying with us, but also the party room all set up with decorations and food and entertainment.  It felt like more work than it probably was because I wasn’t feeling well at all yesterday, but it ended up going as smoothly as it could, given the circumstances.  We provided lots of nibblies but then to make it easier on us we decided to order in Greek food for dinner so we weren’t having to worry about that as well.  It turned out being a great choice, everyone loved it.

When it was time for the girls to be going to bed, we packed up and had to clean the room entirely before leaving because otherwise we’d lose our $50 damage deposit, which I didn’t want to lose over having to do a bit of clean up.  It really wasn’t too bad as it’s not like we were partying and spilling stuff all over the place or something!  Between us all pitching in we got it done relatively quickly and brought everything home.  The fil and sort-of-mil went to their hotel and the bil and sil came back to our place.  They tucked the girls in for us, and then Andrew as well after a bit more visit time with him.  Andrew was SO EXCITED that his uncle and aunt were spending the night, he just couldn’t get over it!  We don’t tend to have people stay with us because we don’t actually have a spare room, but they seemed happy with an air mattress on the living room floor, and it actually ended up working just fine for them.  

We played Caption Captions after all the kids had gone to bed, which is a BLAST, it’s so hilarious and we were laughing so hard we were practically crying.  We were in the midst of a round of the game, sitting in the living room around 11:45pm, when I noticed a bit of a rattling sound but thought it was just something outside, no big deal.  Then it sounded as if something had majorly crashed upstairs, like as if Andrew’s entire loft bed had fallen over.  Not just a small crash sound but BAD and then everything started shaking and we knew it was an earthquake.  I’m getting goosebumps just writing about it!  It seriously freaked me out.  I was sitting on the couch and I found myself just holding onto the couch, frozen in place, saying, ‘Oh my god, oh my god!’  LOL  Nice to know if the big one hits I will be completely useless, but to be honest we all seemed to be in the same boat.  There’s just no time to actually react to do anything, and really, what can you do?!  Luckily it was minor in the sense that nothing actually fell or broke.  The Christmas tree was rattling and swaying a bit but no ornaments fell off.  It was just really scary, because it’s that reminder no one ever wants that we are ALWAYS vulnerable and we have no control even though we like to believe that we do.

Luckily there were no aftershocks, or at least not yet.  I’m praying that was the worst of it and it’s over.  It really terrifies me, honestly.  I just can’t stand the thought of it being any worse than that, and I know it was pretty minor.  I was happy to have my sil-2b (who I ADORE btw, she is awesome, I’m so happy my bil is with her!) there for her comradery because we both really felt the same about how spooky the earthquake left us feeling.

The kids all slept right through it, which was good!

This morning we had breakfast and then headed over to the hotel for a last little visit with the fil and sort-of-mil, and then it was time for them all to head to the ferry.  So we came home and the girls went for their nap after a little snack, and I thought maybe I was starting to feel a little less achy and maybe not quite as sick.  But then it’s like it came back with a vengeance and I felt wretched having done next to nothing, so after James slept for a few hours, I went to bed and basically didn’t do anything for most of the day.  I felt so awful, I could barely even roll over in bed.  I ended up getting a horrible headache that I think may be a sinus headache, which I’m still dealing with now but it’s not as bad as it was earlier.  It floored me, and I was starting to panic because we’re having Andrew’s birthday party tomorrow morning and I didn’t have any other time to prepare but tonight!

Luckily James helped me out and after the kids went to bed we got the decorations up and things relatively tidied.  In the morning I just have to vacuum, clean the downstairs bathroom, and keep things as tidy as I can with 3 kids in the house!  Andrew chose a Skylanders theme, and my mom and dad took me to Party City a few days ago (when I felt extremely ill but had no choice but to go get the stuff since I’d left it till the last minute!) where I found all the stuff, including paper masks of Skylander faces which I know the kids will LOVE.  I had the awesome idea (if I do say so myself!) of taking all the decorations off the Christmas tree, and I put the masks up as decorations so it’s a Skylanders themed tree for his bday.  I KNOW Andrew’s going to think that’s super cool.  Because I feel like I’m practically on death’s door with whatever stupid illness I’ve got, we decided to go simple for his birthday party (and the guests know I'm sick and are still OK to come to the party, I made sure to give them the option of backing out!!) and we’ve already ordered the pizza that will be delivered in the morning, and we got his ice cream cake as per his request.  We’ve got easy foods to go along with the pizza that will require no muss nor fuss and I feel confident that everything is going to come together nicely.  We’re just having a few family members for his party so it’s not going to be stressful at all.  It’ll be fun, AND it’ll be the last party I host FOR A LONG WHILE!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t believe my ‘baby boy’ is 7….SEVEN!  How did that happen so fast?!  There’s another thing I find myself saying at this time of year, but seriously.  Time seems to fly by faster each year that goes by.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Two days till Christmas!

December 23rd...I can’t believe it!  We’ve been busy with lots of holiday get togethers, crafting, and doing all things Christmas for the past several weeks.  It’s been great!  I’ve actually felt better emotionally in the past month than I otherwise have in a long time.  I think there are several reason for that, but mainly I’ve just been recognizing all that I have to be grateful for.  

My mom, aunt, and cousin’s significant other did some Xmas baking together a few weeks ago.  Margaret and Emily helped roll out the dough and cut some of the shapes for the sugar cookies.  A few weeks after that we did more cookie baking at my bro and sil’s, where Andrew got right into his element with it.  He had missed out on our other baking because we did it during the school day.  

There were several events at Andrew’s school over the holidays, including a play, pajama day, and a pancake breakfast.  The play was interesting, a different sort of concept but the song Andrew and his class danced to was PRICELESS.  Andrew had practiced for at least a month, religiously at home every day after school.  To the point that both of his sisters were also able to do the dance!  James and I went to the afternoon performance and my parents were able to go to the evening one.  

Unfortunately they don’t seem to be allowed to do anything with the word ‘Christmas’ in it at school, which to be honest I find very disappointing.  I don’t feel you have to be Christian or even religious to celebrate Christmas...My family is living proof!  I am not Christian and don’t follow any religion, but I love Christmas, I just don’t understand why it has to be such a big deal.  It’s called ‘Winter Break’, we can’t even call it Christmas Holidays anymore.  There’s something seriously wrong with the world.  But whatever…

We’re all set for the big day!  All gifts are wrapped, the tree is pretty much already full of presents but there are still lots more to put under on Xmas Eve (we have lots of family visiting over the holidays so everyone’s presents are at our house for opening!)  We’re hosting Christmas dinner, a Boxing Day get together, then another family do with James’ side for an overnight on the 29th, and then Andrew’s birthday is on NYE.  It’s a busy time, that’s for sure!  If I think about it too much, my head will spin.  So I’m not thinking about it too much!  LOL.  It will all go fine, I did a big shop and have pretty much everything we’ll need, and what we don’t have we can get when we need to.  Not saying I won’t have moments of stress when it comes down to making sure the house is totally clean and everything is ‘just so’ to my liking, but for the most part I don’t think I have too much I have to worry about.

We all got new beds last weekend!  We’d had our bed for about 10-12 years, and it was getting to the point of being so noisy I couldn’t stand it.  The kids used it as a trampoline too many times and ended up breaking some of the springs.  Not cool!  They are not allowed to jump on our new bed EVER and that’s a hard rule!  So far no one has disobeyed it (we’ve had the bed for 4 days now so we’ll see how it goes!)  It’s so comfy, much more cushiony than our old bed and yet firm, and much higher than our old one was which is the only thing I’m really having to adjust to (because it’s taller than our nightstands now which feels a bit weird for some reason!)  Andrew has a loft bed from Ikea, which he’s wanted for a long time.  I was worried it wouldn’t fit well in his bedroom but it turns out that it’s perfect in there, and I love that he has his very own fort underneath.  Margaret and Emily love climbing up into his bed, too, but of course they have to be supervised.  One of them inherited Andrew’s old bed and we bought another of the exact same one, and all new mattresses for everyone.  So the girls still have matching beds, and I’ve been reconfiguring their room pretty much every day since we switched out their cribs, trying to get the set up just right.  I love their big girl beds, as now I can actually go in and sit on their beds with them or even lay down with them and I don’t feel squished or like I’m going to break the thing by sitting on it!  It was a bit emotional saying goodbye to the cribs, because it really reinforces how fast time is going by, but on the other hand they’ve had the cribs converted to toddler beds for ages so it just felt like it was time.  

It’s always a work in progress, but I also went through literally everything in both kids’ rooms and purged as much as they would let me.  I’ll have to do more when they’re not looking!!  But Andrew’s room in particular is SO much better organized.  A couple more hours and I’d have it perfect I think!  I got rid of at least 3 big garbage bags of stuff, either for garbage, recycle, or to donate.  He is way too much of a hoarder!  And knowing how much they’re all going to get for Christmas, it’s just ridiculous to hold onto so much stuff that they really never use and/or don’t need.

I have a lot more work to do in our room, mainly the closets, but that has to wait till after Christmas.  And I really want to paint the cabinets in the upstairs bathroom white before the end of Xmas ‘break.’  James is off till the 11th so I feel like we should be able to get a few projects done while he’s home and can be helping with the kids.

Yesterday I got out the Christmas puzzle my mom bought our family when I was 10 years old, with the idea of it being a yearly tradition.  It lasted for about 5 years, then there was a bit of a hiatus, then another hiatus after a few more years doing it annually.  I hadn’t dug it out for a few years because when the kids were really small it just wouldn’t have worked out to have that on the table.  But this year I was able to bring it out, and to my amazement, all 3 kids were able to help me with it!  It’s a 500 piece puzzle, and definitely geared for older than the girls, but Emily in particular was able to do quite a few pieces.  Margaret sat with us but wasn’t really interested in helping much.  Andrew helped a lot and I loved how into it he got, since I love puzzles - and so does James for that matter.  Back in the day when it was just the two of us, we did puzzles a lot.  I loved being able to write on the inside of the box with today’s date and say that we had all worked on the puzzle together as a family!

We’re probably going to go out and look at Christmas lights tonight, which is something I look forward to so much at this time of year.  Definitely one of my favourite traditions.  The kids are so enthusiastic about it, too, which makes me so happy.  Finally, all of my kids are at ages where they can get so much more enjoyment out of things, which means I can, too!  Honestly, almost 7 and a little over 3 is my favourite stage so far!  I do sometimes miss my little babies, but as Emily loves to remind me, ‘We’re just grown up now, Mommy, because we are!’  Or, as Andrew would put it, ‘This is real life, Mommy!’ :D

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Seventeen years

Some might find it silly that I think of today as James and my anniversary, since it's not our wedding anniversary but instead the marking of 17 years since our first kiss.  I find it significant, though, because that was when our friendship turned into something more, and it marks the beginning of our life together.

Below is the letter I gave James today in honour of our special day.  We otherwise aren't celebrating because two out of 3 kids are sick, and James and I aren't feeling entirely well ourselves tonight.  But still, I enjoyed reminiscing about that night in residence at SFU, when a bunch of us had a party (for no particular reason, which was the basis for many parties back in those days!) and the night ended with me and James kissing!  I'm so glad I snagged him when I did.  I don't even want to imagine how different my life would be if we hadn't found each other.

Dec 5, 2015

Dear James,

Seventeen years ago today we kissed, and suddenly our lives were completely intertwined.  I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!  It was a magical kiss, and it’s hard to believe that a year from now we’ll have been together for literally half my life so far, because it still seems like yesterday that it happened.  I will never forget it, and I still feel the same tingles and flutters of the heart when we kiss.  I could never fall out of love with you, you’re my one and only true love in life and beyond!

I know you know how much I love you, but I can’t tell you enough times.  I just love you SO MUCH!  I love what a loving and attentive husband you are, how involved and caring you are as the father of our beautiful children, and the fact that you have been my best friend for close to two decades.  You mean the world to me, WE mean the world to me, and that includes Andrew and Margaret and Emily (and Fiona, and lest we forget Moorka and Tinker!  Even Finn and Stacey, remember those two?!)  I love our family and I’m so grateful for all of you and for all that we have.  I couldn’t ask for a better life when it comes right down to it, and a great deal of my comforts and happiness in life have to do with the fact that our foundation is so strong.  I couldn’t imagine us not having the communication that we do, and while we definitely have differences of opinions at times, I love that we’re on the same page when it counts.  I love chatting with you and just being near you, even if it just means you’re working from home, I really just love to know you’re close by because I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!  

Thank you for all that you do for me, as I truly do know that a lot of men (I’d hazard to say MOST, from what I’ve heard!) are nowhere close to as loving and sweet and generous with their time and their hearts as what you are with yours when it comes to me and our kids.

Happy 17 year anniversary since our first kiss!  Here’s to many more 17 years’s of kisses!

I love you still and always!

Love, Elizabeth


Thursday, December 03, 2015

A pretty good day over all

I feel surprisingly clear-headed tonight and that’s really saying something for me.  Lately by around dinner time at the latest I’ve been feeling kind of wretched, like I’m coming down with something even though I don’t think I am.  It’s always turned out to be a sleep issue, because once I napped in the evening or got a decent amount of sleep at night, I’d feel better in the morning.  

The cough that Andrew and I have had since our last cold still hasn’t fully gone away, (he had another cold in between, as well) and for some reason yesterday it was really acting up for both of us.  He kept complaining he wasn’t feeling well and while he did stay at school for the day, as the night went on it was clear he was coming down with something again.  He was doing his usual cartwheels and dancing after school, but by after dinner he was just slumped over on the couch, cozied up in his robe, cheeks flushed with an inability to smile.  

He stayed home from school today because I really felt for him, as I hadn’t been feeling so great myself.  (Although honestly I don’t think I’m getting sick, I really do just need more rest).  This morning I decided to be productive, and just started turning the laundry over when the power went out.  I swear, we’ve had more power outages in the past few months than we have in probably a decade or more.  It used to seem like the power NEVER went out and now I’m always a little on guard when it’s the least bit stormy.  I’d read last night that we were in for another wind warning and it was potentially going to be stormy for several days at least.  Well, the wind really started up and I wasn’t surprised when the lights flickered and then died altogether.  I was armed with 3 little push-lights for the kids to carry with them so they wouldn’t be afraid of the dark.  Our house is kind of dark on the brightest of days, and it didn’t help that it was grey and dismal outside.

Of course as soon as the lights went out, Margaret desperately wanted to watch a show.  When I reminded her we needed power to make the TV work, she threw her hands in the air and said, ‘Then just turn the Christmas tree on and I’ll look at that!’  LOL  Nope, sorry Margie, we need power for that, too!  Andrew suddenly wanted me to make mush for him, which I also couldn’t do.  I couldn’t help but laugh at how everything they wanted required power.  Instead, we all sat down near the window in the living room and I read them Aladdin.  Then I gave them the Christmas fridge magnets I got each of them at the dollar store, and then gave them each a cookie sheet so they could play with the magnets on there.  Then the Duplo set came out and they played with that.  So at least we had a lot of things to keep us occupied.  The power was out for an hour and a half, after which I quickly got to work in the hopes that the power would stay on long enough for me to do everything.

Luckily it did.  I got the laundry done (well, there’s always more to do, but I got some done!), I made eggplant parmesan which requires a fair bit of time at the stove but thank goodness the power didn’t let me down for that!  I also got some tea made and food heated up so we’d have everything we needed in case we couldn’t make the stuff later.

I also got some cleaning done, played some more with the kids, and before I knew it, it was time for the girls to go down for a (late) nap.  Andrew and I watched a little show and then I had his mattress set up in the living room so we could both take a nap while the girls slept.  Only he coughed literally every time I fell asleep so the sleep wasn’t as restful as I had hoped.  I think it helped, though, and is one of the reason I’m not totally far gone by this point because I did manage to get a little bit rejuvenated.  The poor little guy got no rest, though, as he was just coughing a mean streak the entire time.

He requested ‘his favourite soup’ after our rest so I obliged and made a pot of minestrone soup.  Oh, another thing I did before I made the eggplant parm was to cut up all our vegetables, put some into bags in the freezer for easy stirfrys and some in the fridge for snacking.  It makes such a difference when I do that, because when I opened the crisper I don’t have to sigh and think of all the work I have to do to make a meal, it’s partially ready already!  I definitely want to get in the habit of doing that every time I grocery shop.

Once the girls got up we played some games (Candy Land, mostly, which isn’t my favourite game but it’s a great introduction to board games for 3 year olds...and Andrew likes it, too), looked at some books, played with toys, and then I got the kids up for a bath.  They played well together for a while but there’s not enough room in there for all 3 kids for any length of time so of course they started splashing each other.  I was just about it say it was time for them to get out when Emily threw up in the bath and they had no choice but to get out!  I don’t know if it was a fluke or she’s really sick, but I have a feeling she’s at the very least getting Andrew’s cold.  SIGH.  We literally JUST got Andrew and Margaret over one that we didn’t get and now Andrew and Emily have something.  As a precautionary measure from the sickness I did a deep clean of the bathroom after dinner, so I’m also pleased that our upstairs bathroom is now sparkling!

Despite a few minor setbacks, it was a pretty good day over all.  Nothing overly exciting happened, but it was a day!

My prides and joys :)

Andrew says ‘wiss’ instead of wish, ‘mouse’ instead of mouth, etc.  At almost 7 years old I’ve started to correct him more and he can say the words properly but he’s lazy about using his tongue to pronounce the ‘sh’ or ‘th’.  We laugh over it mostly, obviously I know he’ll say the words properly in time, but for now it’s a little ‘Andrewism.’  

Now that she’s 3, Margaret loves to talk about when she was a baby.  She often starts off sentences, ‘Mommy, when I was a beebee’ because she pronounces baby much more like ‘beebee.’  I find it absolutely adorable, not only the way she says the word, but the fact that she acts as if being a baby is just a distant memory for her, despite that she only just turned 3 6 weeks ago!

Emily is very soft-spoken and knows she’s the least trouble-making of the 3 kids...It’s the truth of the matter, she just is.  I find it so stinking cute when the other two are up to their antics and Emily gives me a sideways glance and makes a point of telling me, ‘Mommy, I’m not going to do that because I’m just going to sit here nicely and do my puzzle.’  Sometimes she’ll throw in, ‘Because I’m a good guhl’ or ‘Because I’m just an angel.’

I love the way Andrew’s new smile looks now that his adult teeth have come in as far as they have.  I loved his toothless grin as a baby, his baby teeth were absolutely perfect, it was cute when he had some missing here and there, and for now (until he loses other random teeth!) I love how his smile is so big with his over-sized looking front teeth in comparison to most of the others (he has 4 of his adult teeth in now).

I love the way Margaret is so spunky and will point her finger at me a certain way and give me ‘a look’ and then immediately throws her head back and laughs or gives me a big silly grin because she KNOWS she’s being cheeky.

I love the way Emily looks like a Cabbage Patch Doll and the way she looks nearly identical to my mom.  It’s really weird sometimes, because it’s seriously as if I’m looking right at my mom, only as a child and the child is actually mine.  It’s strange but also really amazing, and I love that she looks just like her.  When I was still living at home my mom and I would sometimes get old pictures out and whenever I came across the black and white ones from when she was a little girl, I would ALWAYS marvel at how adorable my mom was, with her chubby cheeks and innocent eyebrows.  I used to tell my mom she was the cutest baby EVER and lo and behold, I go and have the cutest baby ever, too!!  Which is not to say that both Andrew and Margaret aren’t also the cutest babies, because all 3 were and are the absolute perfectest babies ever in the history of the world (and my opinion is of course completely unbiased!) :)

All the little things the kids say in a day and their little mannerisms and the thoughts and ideas they express, I wish each and every one of those things could be bottled up and kept forever.  I don’t want to forget any of it!

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