Saturday, December 10, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Friday at the mall with 3 kids

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another Spooktacular Halloween!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Swimming and dancing

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

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

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

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

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

Documenting our days...

We got Andrew dropped off to school, and when we came home the girls decided they wanted to play upstairs in their bedroom.  I got some laundry folded and put away, a bit of tidying done in the kids’ bedrooms, and they’re still happily playing together.  They’ve been having a tea party with a bunch of their stuffies, and then decided they would play ‘reading time’ and are taking turns with books ‘reading’ to each other.  It’s so cute!  Yes, twins can be a challenge at times, but I really do love the fact that they have a built-in playmate.  Of course as I’m writing that they’re starting to argue…!

I’m disappointed with my lack of writing this year, although thankfully I’ve kept up fairly well jotting little tidbits of our days down in my planner, so I haven’t lost every memory of what we’ve done!!  I do find it so useful, and rewarding, to be able to look back on actual posts about the little details of things we’ve done, though, and I really don’t have a lot of that from this past year.  I often look to the archives of my blog to remind myself of when a particular event happened, but that’s not so easy to do when huge chunks of time are missing!  I really do want to strive to change that.

Right now I’m busy working on my yearly book about the kids’/our lives.  It is SO time consuming and I kick myself every year for not starting it earlier.  It would be so much simpler if each month I did a few pages based on that particular time frame, so that by the time mid November rolled around and I’m wanting to get it printed to send to people for Christmas, it wouldn’t be a giant ball of stress for me to complete.  That being said, I really do enjoy the process of it, and I’m ¾ of the way finished.  I’m just the Queen of Procrastination when it comes to such things, so I’ll wait till the 11th hour to get the job done.  I can’t seem to help myself.

I want to write about Halloween and the girls’ birthday and a few other recent events before they’re too far in the past for me to properly document, so that will be my next project!  Setting aside more time for writing would be nice, but it’s hard to set aside time for much of anything.

Now I can hear Margaret saying, ‘Alright, class!’  It’s cute hearing them play and use their imaginations together.  And as I wrote that they started whining and fighting...Wow, apparently I shouldn’t discuss how great they play together, every time I mention it things go awry!!

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!

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