Thursday, May 25, 2017

Not as overwhelmed these days

Lately I’ve been finding the kids so much easier.  Not saying I feel like I’m breezing through the days, I still have my bouts of total exhaustion and my moments where I’m ripping my hair out/counting down the minutes till James gets home to help me.  Andrew has also in particular been having some issue with anger and not really getting along with everyone lately, which sometimes makes things tough (although as of this past week I think we’re getting a handle on that, and this week has been pretty amazing with him, I must say. He also has a 'new best friend' which I think has been really good for him, and she lives right down the street which is nice).  

I think it’s just that now with Andrew being 8.5, and the girls being 4.5, they’re all getting to better ages for activities seeming less overwhelming.  Especially with having multiples, it was so challenging for such a long time because the girls would be here there and everywhere and when there’s only one of me and 3 kids, two the exact same’s tough.  I feel like so often I just didn’t leave the house because it wasn’t worth how stressful it would be to take them out.  Now it feels like the little errands that used to seem impossible are feasible.  I can pop into a store for something and not feel overwhelmed, and the kids are usually very well behaved and good about whatever needs to be done.  Not that they weren't when they were younger, it's just that it always felt way too complicated.

I think every stage naturally comes with its own set of challenges, and maybe that’s a good thing because it forces us as parents to stay on our toes.  But I admit that as much as there are times where I really CAN’T BELIEVE how BIG and grown my kids are getting, I also feel relieved that the baby stages are over and we can reason with them, they know about safety and being careful, and I don’t have to do absolutely every single little thing for them at all times.  (And as much as twins can be challenging in their own right, it's true that the fact that they always have someone to play with and have each other is super helpful, because everything doesn't always fall on me when it comes to entertainment!)

I may be speaking too soon, because let’s face it, kids have a way of KNOWING when their parents start to relax and think things are easier and they do everything in their power to kick it up a notch and make things complicated!  But I’m hoping there will be more time to relax this summer because the kids are at an ‘easier’ stage than what we’ve been accustomed to.  Not ‘easy’ by any stretch of the word,  but ‘easier’.  

I sort of feel like it’s a stage to really make sure I enjoy as much as possible, because all 3 kids are still young enough to be innocent and just children and still like cuddles and spending lots of time with me.  They’re old enough to not be causing me the insane sleep deprivation of being babies or toddlers, but young enough to still feel like babies at times because they’re still little (especially the girls, of course, but Andrew is still somewhat cuddly, too!)  It’s sort of the best of both worlds.  Soon enough they’ll all be way more grown up and won’t need me as much as I might realize I want to be needed, so I know this stage is one to hold onto for as long as I can.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Just lounging in the backyard

Everything seems better on a hot, sunny day.  I feel so refreshed with the change in weather, and of course it also helps that I’m actually feeling healthy for a change.

After school drop off this morning, the girls and I came home and they immediately started playing nicely together and didn’t mind in the least that I was getting some chores done and the computer ready to purchase tickets for Andrew’s year end dance performance.  Tickets went on sale at 10 this morning and I was SO NERVOUS we wouldn’t get the seats we wanted, but it turned out that I obviously clicked the refresh button at just the right moment, and scored front row center tickets!  The best of the best!  I’m soooo excited, and relieved to have the tickets bought so I can just relax until show time.

I got the van all cleaned out, vacuumed, and wiped down inside, and then the girls came out to help me wash the exterior.  Our first at-home car wash this year!  They had fun helping, and up until the end when things went a bit awry, they were relatively helpful to me!  I was happy to get Ramona (our van’s name) spruced up for the season.  Although we’re kind of hoping to trade her in soon for something better and more spacious, since we didn’t know about stow away seats when we bought her.  Sadly a regular sized minivan isn’t quite cutting it for us, particularly with all the camp gear we’ve now acquired for some summer trips!

Right now we’re sitting outside, or at least I am, writing this, while the girls play.  We filled up the pool and they’ve been sliding into it over and over, giggling and chasing each other.  This is the last spring they’ll be home for, since next year at this time they’ll be in school.  And it’s going to be our last summer before they start, so I really want to enjoy it.  Not that we won’t enjoy each summer moving forward, but I feel like in some ways it will seem more challenging to me in the coming years because I’ll be ‘used’ to the kids being in school, so the long breaks will be welcome in the sense that I enjoy our days together, I just won’t be used to going back to having zero time for anything else the way life is now!  The kids will also be that much older of course, and not as babyish as they are without yet being in school.  I swear time just flies by in the blink of an eye, I can’t believe how grown up they all are already. It's so important to enjoy the little moments, and right now I am.

Monday, May 22, 2017

May long weekend fun

It’s the May long weekend, and what a difference it makes having James home for an extra day AND having such amazing weather.  We haven’t had much nice weather in general for MONTHS and the weekends have tended to be particularly drab, so it’s nice that the weather gods finally got this one right.  I think we may actually be getting a stretch of warm weather, and well-deserved!

On Saturday we met up with some friends at Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver.  When we were asked on Friday if we’d like to join them, I looked up a coupon I’d bought through Social Shopper (similar to Groupon) because I was sure I’d bought one for the farm near the end of last summer, and then we’d never gotten there again.  It turned out that Saturday was the very last day for me to redeem the coupon without losing the added savings, so it was like we were destined to go there!  The kids of course had a blast.  I personally find it way too expensive to go there as a family of 5 without some sort of coupon so I was pleased as punch that we were able to go at a fair price!  It was also the first really hot and sunny day and the start of a long weekend so it felt extra special somehow.  After the farm we let the kids play on the playground at the school across the street for a little while, and then we hit up McDonald’s for some ice cream.  

I was really nervous to eat the ice cream because my sore throat had gone from bad to worse.  I even went back to the doctor on Friday because the pain had been so severe Thursday night I literally started to feel like I was dying (not exaggerating, it was that bad).  He said there was nothing more he could do until I finished the pills and to see if I was better in a few more days, although he was concerned that the pills hadn’t started helping yet.  I was still in a lot of pain with it on Saturday and would have enjoyed our outing more if I’d felt healthier, but it turned out the ice cream did wonders for my throat!  I was actually able to swallow it without too much pain, and it froze my throat enough that I got a few minutes of relief before it went back to hurting.  

I had wanted to have my parents over during the long weekend to have a visit/smorgasboard of yummy food as per our usual tradition on the 24th of May long weekend.  But I told James on Saturday night that even though I’d gotten food in for the occasion, I didn’t think I felt up to hosting anything because my throat was ruining everything.  I took a Gravol that night to help me sleep because I’ve been sleeping HORRIBLY with being in so much pain, and also waking up coughing every night still, and that seemed to help and I got a lot more sleep than usual.  I woke up on Sunday and could swallow with less than half the pain I’d been having, which felt like an absolute miracle.  I ended up feeling so much better that I got a bunch of cleaning done, and made a potato salad and decided I was well enough so we invited my parents over for dinner that evening.  

In the afternoon, after Andrew’s dance class, we went to Canadian Tire and bought a camp stove, some more bark mulch for the yard (that I’d bought some of on Friday but needed more) and a few other odds and ends for camping.  When we came home we filled up the pool in the backyard and the kids played out there for a while, and we just hung around and then I got everything ready for dinner.  I made artichoke dip, and mac n’ cheese, tomato and bocconcini salad with basil from our herb garden, and we had some hor d'oeuvres, the potato salad, and some veggies.  It ended up being a yummy array of foods, and Andrew even said it was his favourite meal ever and he even liked it better than tacos (and tacos are by far his favourite food!)  My parents brought a delicious maple cheesecake and a to-die-for caramel ice cream cake for dessert.  I was just amazed, and so relieved, that I was able to enjoy everything, too.  Lately I’ve only eaten a tiny amount and only when my stomach got so empty that I felt like I had to eat just to survive, but it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to actually enjoy food.  I realized it in the afternoon when we tested out the new camp stove in the backyard and made some Jiffy Pop, I was actually able to eat some without thinking, and that made it dawn on me that there was no pain!  

It was a nice visit with my parents, who we haven’t seen very much of lately even though we live so close, because one or more of us has always had some sort of virus preventing us from seeing each other.  Fingers crossed we’re heading into a healthier season.

After I got the kids to bed and cleaned up last night, I sat outside till it was dark out and it was so peaceful to be outside enjoying the fresh air for so long.  And this morning James and I enjoyed our morning coffee together sitting in the backyard, for the first time this year.  Around lunch time we packed up the kids after getting them into their swim gear and slathered with sunscreen, and we went to a splash pad and park for them to run around.  They all had a great time, and we all got some sun.  We’d filled the pool up in the backyard before heading out so it was warmed up by the time we got home.  The kids still had their suits on so they went straight out into the yard to go down the slide and splash into the pool, and I got a bit of gardening done while James went for a short bike ride.  So nice to have our living room extended out to the backyard again!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trying to get healthy...

Last Saturday I went to Burlington with a few girlfriends for a day of shopping and hanging out.  It was much needed.  It had been over a year since we’d done that trip, so over a year since I’d had an entire day out to do stuff without any responsibilities.  We checked out all our favourite stores that we don’t have here in Canada, and in all honesty I think my favourite is Joann.  The home decor selection there isn’t huge, but I really love the stuff they have there.  We also had a yummy dinner at Olive Garden, where we looove the breadsticks and salad to start.  I know we have an Olive Garden out in Langley but I would never think to drive that far for a meal, so it’s a treat to go there when in the US.  I just wish the dollar wasn’t as bad as it is.  I got $150 American at the bank before we went, and it cost me just over $211 to get that!  Ouch.  Still, it was totally worth it for the experience.

I still wasn’t feeling 100% when we went, but did really well considering that.  But by later that evening I knew something wasn’t right with my throat.  I managed through Mother’s Day but definitely wasn’t feeling as well as I’d have hoped for the day.  Still, it was a special day.  I really appreciated that James was cool with me being gone for the entire day on Saturday, and then on Sunday he barely got a break, moreso because I wasn’t feeling great than because it was Mother’s Day, but still.  When I got up in the morning the kids were excited to greet me, and after enjoying the breakfast James had made special for me, I opened the kids’ presents.  Their cards were priceless.  I loved the ‘All About My Mom’ page that Andrew had made for me at school, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I opened up the card Margaret had made me at pre-kindergarten to see what message she’d had her teacher write in it for her - “Dear Mommy, I love it when you give me your phone!  Love, Margaret.”  LOL  Emily’s said that she loves it when I tuck her into bed.  But Margaret’s was hilariously fitting, I have to say.

After James and Andrew got back from his dance class, I went over to my mom’s with the gifts I’d gotten for her at Joann.  My parents are currently in the works of painting their place to freshen it up, and my mom’s been doing some redecorating, so she was thrilled with the stuff I picked out for her.  After we had a little visit there we went out for lunch, and then I came home to relax for a few (and drink some mimosas!).  Then we took the kids to the theatre to see the Boss Baby movie.  It was the girls’ first ever experience at a movie theatre, and they did so well!  I was so pleased that we could all go to a movie together and it went amazing, not even any bathroom breaks interrupting the show!  The kids loved it, and we had popcorn for dinner so that was fun.  I was ASTOUNDED by the cost of it all, though.  I’m not much of a movie goer personally and really only go to the theatre every few years at most.  We get gift certificates every so often from my uncle and that tends to get us out to a show, but beyond that it just doesn’t happen.  And I realize now more than ever, it’s a good thing I don’t want to go more often, because there’s no way we could afford it!  LUCKILY we happened to have a gift certificate James had got for his birthday, as well as some money left on one that we’d got last Christmas, so out of the $52 it cost for us to get in, we only paid $4.  I can totally live with that!  Then one large popcorn and 3 small slushies (I brought water for me and James so only the kids got drinks) cost over $20.  It was insane!!  It was basically $75 for a family of 5 to go to a movie, and that’s sharing food and not even getting a drink for everyone?!  How is that affordable?!  It was an experience for sure, and I’m so glad that we went, and that we weren’t actually that out of pocket, as I don’t think any movie would be worth spending that much for, in my opinion.  But wow, it’ll be a while before we get to go back!  It was really cute watching the kids’ reactions to the movie, though, and sitting next to Margaret I got to hear her little banter here and there about different parts (she was the most vocal of the 3, but not to a point of being disruptive for other people around us!)

By Sunday evening my throat was getting worse, and I had a pretty rough sleep because I was starting to feel like I couldn’t swallow properly.  It wasn’t like a usual sore throat pain, but felt more like it was swollen inside.  Whatever it was, it was hurting, and by Monday it was so bad I was pretty sure I needed to go to a doctor.  I resist that in general because our family doctor is so far away downtown and only works maybe one or two days a week at that clinic, so I know it’s going to be a random stranger doctor at a walk-in that I’ll have to go to.  I hate waiting at walk-ins and not knowing who I’ll end up seeing.  I decided to give it one more day and see if maybe a decent sleep on Monday night would do the trick and by Tuesday I’d be better.

Instead, the pain got so severe that even my teeth felt like they were hurting (and I just had a dentist appointment a few weeks ago and know there’s nothing wrong with my teeth!)  My whole face was hurting and my throat felt like it was completely seizing up.  I left a note for James telling him I’d been up pretty much all through the night and needed to go to a doctor in the am, so he worked from home and took Andrew to school so I could get myself sorted to go to a clinic.  Luckily the one nearest our house ended up having almost no wait time at all, and the doctor I saw was pleasant.  He said it seemed like a sinus infection, though it could be strep throat but he really didn’t think so.  I didn’t think so either as I’ve had strep throat before (not for 22 years...LOL...but I remember what it felt like!) and it felt different than that.  He said that the antibiotic he wanted me to take would help either issue anyway, so get going on it right away and hopefully that would take care of it.  

So I’m on day 3 now of the pills and I’ve noticed some improvement, but then late last night it got so bad again that I was beside myself from the pain.  Two Tylenol seemed to help a bit to take the edge off, but I slept terribly and kept coughing through the night as well.  I don’t know how much better I really am, truthfully.  I’ll give it till tomorrow to see if I need to go back, as they said if I’m not showing a lot of improvement by day 3 I should do that.  I really hope the pill I took this morning starts to do it’s job quickly.  I feel like this illness has been going on for SO LONG and I can’t stand it anymore!  I just want to feel well.

Late last night Andrew came running down the stairs and informed me that he had a cold.  He was full on sniffling and said his throat hurt.  I thought, oh great, here we go again...But this morning he didn’t mention it at all and seemed fine, so I’m REALLY hoping it was just a fluke and it’s not going to turn into anything.  Fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A river runs through it

I decided not to go the route of arbitration with our management company, even though I DO feel it was warranted, and I have a strong feeling we’d have won a decent amount if we went that route.  Just the emotional turmoil alone for what we’ve been through here warrants compensation.  But I was finding the process adding so much to my stress level that it just wasn’t worth it to me.  Now I have to come to terms with my decision, because it makes me feel like ‘they’ve won’ in the sense that I KNOW they expect people to react just how I did and cave and not go through with the process, even though they know darn well we’re in the right.

We will be getting $200 off our next month’s rent as well as reimbursed just under $44 for one can of the paint we had to buy to re-do the walls.  And that’s it.  It’s a total slap in the face, and I told them that word for word.  They really don’t care, which is sad, but it’s the truth.  They do this to EVERYONE who rents from them, and there are people in even worse conditions than us I’m sure of it.  Which is wrong, unfair, and it makes my blood boil.  I’m still dealing with the effects in terms of worrying EVERY SINGLE DAY that there will be another leak, and not wanting to go to bed at night for fear a leak will happen and we’ll wake up to another lake to clean up.  It’s affecting my dreams, too - I’ve had quite a few nightmares the past month where we’re dealing with leak/flood situations.

My heart really goes out to those affected by the flooding in Quebec right now (and of course other areas dealing with floods).  I know how it affected me dealing with so much water and damage to our home, but ‘at least’ it was ‘clean’ water, and ‘only’ a few inches deep.  Yes, there was some damage, but it could have been SO MUCH WORSE.  I can’t imagine being woken up and told I have to get my entire family out of the house in 10 minutes tops and take anything with me of value and have several FEET of muddy water invade my home.  That’s so devastating.  I guess I have to thank my lucky stars that we had the type of flood that we did, and not something that would make our home unlivable forever, and ruin all of our belongings.

That being said, I also know it’s all relative, and what we’ve been through still isn’t right.  The long document I posted a few posts back that I had sent to management with pictures - literally the only thing that got done was putting a seal across the doorway separating the flooring between the hall and bathroom, and they replaced one vinyl plank that had been cut ridiculously by the front door, and added the baseboards to the downstairs bathroom (which they weren’t actually going to do, but I asked if they could please do that, and they managed to ‘find one baseboard somewhere’ so they were able to get that done…)  Literally everything else was either done by myself, my dad, or is still left unfinished - and I know they have no plans whatsoever to come back to do any of it.  

I’m still trying to feel good about still living here despite everything.  There is so much to love and enjoy about our home (the stuff we’ve done ourselves to make it feel like our own) and our neighbourhood, too, but it’s depressing the low morale around here (since other tenants are dealing with the same or similar issues).  I don’t see that changing, as I’m certain management isn’t going to change, so I just have to figure out a way to somehow be OK enough with it that it doesn’t eat me up inside!  I know I’m not the only person in our neighbourhood that’s affected by it to this degree, it’s not just me being sensitive.  But it is what is is, and all I can do is focus on doing what I can to make our home what I want it to be, and remember to always keep off the floor what I’d want to save should another river run through it…!

Kids new swim suits

Yesterday after dropping Andrew off at school, I took the girls to Walmart to find them new bathing suits.  Their 4T’s were starting to fit quite snug and they were complaining after last week’s swim class that they weren’t comfortable in the water.  I told them they could pick whichever suit they wanted, within reason, and Emily said, ‘Yeah, depending on how much it costs!’  So cute!  I was thinking more along the lines of what style they would want, but definitely the price also has to be right!!

At first Margaret said she wanted a Paw Patrol suit (they don’t even like the show AT ALL but have one paw patrol toy they’ve been playing with recently so that must have been on her mind when she saw the suit!)  I was about to see if they had it in a size 5 when Emily saw a Barbie bathing suit (they both love Barbie) and when Margaret saw it she had to have that one, too.  They had 2 size 4-5 and it turns out it’s a great fit with a bit of growing-in room to spare.  I thought it was really cute that they wanted the same suit (even though I know their swim instructor would probably prefer they were different, since even though THEY ARE NOT IDENTICAL TWINS people still seem to have a difficult time knowing who’s who (which is crazy to any of us who know them, because they are soooooo different in soooooo many ways, it’s obvious who’s who if you spend just a few minutes with them!)  

I used to always dress the girls the same because COME ON how freaking CUTE are two babies/toddlers/little ones wearing identical outfits?!  It’s one of those twin things you get to do, and to me, the cuteness factor was through the roof.  I still buy two of everything so they have the option of dressing the same, but I don’t force them to by any means.  I let them choose their clothes for the day, they dress themselves, and some days they choose wildly different outfits.  But I notice that it’s not uncommon for them to announce that they want to be ‘twinsies’ and they put on the exact same outfit and will mention to each other throughout the day how they’re twins and hold hands or hug.  It’s really adorable.  I love it when they choose the same things, just because I do find it so cute that THEY want that, it’s not just me projecting that onto them like people have said in the past when they didn’t have a choice because they were too little make that choice for themselves.  They like it that way, too, and on the days that they don’t, that’s totally fine!

What I find hilarious is that Andrew has such a tiny waist that he is still wearing a size 4T bathing suit!!!  So his suit is actually smaller than his sisters’ suits, and he’s double their age!  He wears a size 8 pants, but they only fit in the waist if they have those button things where you can cinch them in (which is the best invention ever for kids’ clothing!)  Even though I think he may be a bit short for his age, his pant length seems to be appropriate, it’s just his little waist.  He was a chunky monkey when he was a wee thing but with all his dancing and moving around - I should call him Tigger for how jumpy he is because he seems to just need to keep moving at all times - he really doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him!

May the 4th be with you...

(I wrote this on May 4th but never posted)...

It’s super sunny today and AMAZING, it feels good just to have the light shining in and the door open for some fresh air.  I just wish I was feeling better.  About a week ago I started to feel ‘not quite right’, like the cough was getting a bit worse again that I thought I was almost done with, and my throat felt scratchy.  By Saturday night I started getting a headache that turned into one of the worst migraines I’ve ever had, and it persisted till yesterday morning when the Tylenol finally decided to do it’s job.  I can’t even count how many Tylenol I had over the span of those 4 days, but I’m positive it was more than the recommended dosage.  Not good at all.

The headache was so killer that there were several times I wished it would be an easier process to get to the hospital, but the reality was that I’d either have to get James AND all 3 kids to go with, or I’d have to get my dad to take time off work to take me.  Or call an ambulance and spend $50+ dollars for that.  None of those options appealed to me, so I stuck it out.  I remember my doctor telling me that if my headaches ever got that bad I should get to the hospital right away, but the reality is, it’s not always easy to do, and when you’re in that much pain the last thing you want is to be sitting in an ER for gawd knows how long just waiting to be called in.  

So luckily the headache left, but I was also feverish off and on for over 24 hours (edit: the fever came and went several times more after I wrote this...), and the achiness throughout my body nearly did me in.  I ended up coughing till I threw up the other night and it seemed like right after that the achiness left my body, which was kind of strange.  I’ve never experienced that before.  But then the headache flared up so bad I couldn’t handle it.  Now I have a full head cold and feel like I’m hopped up on drugs.  It’s not fun, especially when there seems to be one thing after the other that I’m supposed to attend at Andrew’s school and I have to try to keep my distance so as not to infect others, but also pretend I’m feeling a lot better than I am.  

Enough already!  We’ve all been sick far more than what I feel should be our fair share!

Especially if the weather is finally going to be nicer, I want to have energy to feel like I can get the kids out playing and doing Spring things!

Edit: May 11th now and I'm still not over this cold. I'm definitely better than I was, but then yesterday felt a little worse again and am so tired today. Still coughing a lot, stuffy nose...seriously, ENOUGH ALREADY!

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