Friday, July 14, 2017

Two weeks. That’s how long school has been out. We left our home bright and early the day after it was over to make our way east to visit Hubby’s Dad and step-mom and it was a beautiful drive! The littles were all excited and relatively well behaved for the 12 hours it took to get us there and then we slowed right down.

Canada Day we had a lazy morning (well, I did since I was shooed back to bed with a migraine) and the afternoon was spent playing in bouncy castles and face painting and park playing with a jumbo freezie to top it off. We ran into Hubby’s cousin whom we hadn’t seen since Smarty was just learning to walk, and it was nice meeting her husband and children as well!

Lots of fishing, lots of walking, lots of water time. We spent some time, just the immediate 6 of us, at Clear Lake our last day there. We stopped at the Chocolate Fox for ice cream, we walked through interpretive centres, we talked with park staff. We stuck out feet in the water and leaned about invasive species like the rusty crayfish.

We drove to Medicine Hat to visit our wonderful friend that we don’t get together with near enough, and have now been home for a week. And it has certainly not been a boring week. At least not for me. My children may have a differing opinion 😉

After letting them indulge most of Monday in doing nearly nothing productive, we quickly learned (or relearned… I think this is something I have discovered and rediscovered a few times) that littles need structure and responsibility to be happy. So they did some dishes. And put away clothes. And cut rhubarb. And set and cleared tables. After the initial “I don’t wanna do anything and you can’t make me” passed they have been relatively pleasant! They really are wonderful children. But they are still children.

So every day, after the set “quiet time” that is always built into our days, whomever isn’t actively napping gets to do dishes. Today changing the laundry was added. Simply because I had other work that I needed to do for school and since I have able bodied helpers around to pick up what I would “get around to” I am definitely going to utilize them. I have really been pleased that the grumbling has mostly stopped.

But course work is moving along for me; I think I have got the balance so far for school and family. The children have succeeded in completing their respective grade levels and will move forward in the autumn, and it feels as though summer is already moving way too fast. We have had a week at home, Sunday afternoon we head out for a family camp at Camp Kuriakos, then we are home for a week before we hit the mid-summer mark. August will pass just as quickly, I am sure.

I have loved taking so many pictures while we were visiting in Manitoba, and I am looking forward to taking more at camp next week and into August with more family visiting. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Birthday Reflections

If anyone had told me 20 years ago where I would be today, and what I would be doing I would have laughed.  I suppose that is true of any 14-year-old, though.  I am not who I was then. I enjoy things now that I despised then. I am a far cry from who I was in that time of my life.

Tomorrow I turn 34. Definitely not a milestone birthday, certainly many others have passed that number. But I was reflecting on my past as I was cutting silverskin off our supper for tomorrow and prepping the rub for them to sit in overnight. I was thinking that I was enjoying looking at recipes for the ribs and savouring the scent as I was slathering it all over that meat.

14 -year-old me did not like to cook. Or bake.  Refused to try to learn. Begrudgingly made what was necessary at the insistence and fight with my mother. I would rather be reading. Or walking along the river. The June I turned 14, we had a dog that I loved walking along the dike. There was a park that edged along the North Thompson River right at our back yard and it was glorious to walk Shadow out there when I got the chance. Even better if I could go alone, without siblings. 

I recall one failed (maybe, I think it still tasted delicious) attempt at brownies for a youth church function. Mom set out the recipe and I followed it.  At the time, my mom bought (still does) a lot of her baking supplies in bulk. But the cocoa wasn’t labelled. I realized that I had made an error as the pan was in the oven and, instead of the smell of chocolate filling the house, there was the unmistakable scent of cinnamon. The treat was still at hit with the other youth, but I never forgot that. I always smell my cocoa before using it now. 

But 14-year-old me would have been shocked that my faith has grown and developed in the way that it has.  That I would be teaching my children a different way of living a life of faith than I was raised. She would be thrilled that I have lived across the country, I have put my toes in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. She would be overjoyed that I am married and still in love with my Co-director of Parenting. And that we have four amazing, wonderful, sometimes challenging children.

14-year-old me would be shocked to hear that I am running (voluntarily) a few times a week. Just to stay heart healthy. And that I am doing online coursework so that I can keep myself busy in a new way as the littles grow older.

But I feel that 14-year-old me would approve.  The happy that has been experienced and found along the way is something that outweighs all the darker patches she would see as well. The sad, the lonely, the confused, and the soul searching.  The growth experienced, and still (continually) happening, is exactly what 34-year-old me needs, and would make the me of decades past bust with pride.
Definitely not quite the direction 14-year-old me thought I would take, but I doubt that she really had a clear understanding or view of what she wanted as well.  She thought she did. I now know better.

People love people. Faith is a living, breathing thing. Forgiveness is possible. Talking does wonders. Don’t second guess a decision after it’s made. Experiment with flavours. Try something new. Love like tomorrow may not come. Be content. Make your own happy. Enjoy the outside. Stand in the rain. Hug all the people.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bike buddy

Bikes are awesome. Bikes with baskets are awesome. Bikes with training wheels are great. Bikes with a bike buddy is even more fun. This weekend we’ve put a lot of family time into the quality time bank account to discover these things.

I have not sat on a bicycle for a couple of decades. Stationary one, yes. Street bikes, no. So, this spring we decided that we would invest in this activity for everyone, especially since we only have one child still with training wheels on her bike. Sergeant needed a new bike, Monkey needed a new bike, and Momma and Daddy needed ones too. We got new bike handles for Girlie, made sure everyone had a helmet that fit, and we took off. There is absolute truth to the saying that you never forget how to ride a bicycle!

After church on Sunday we picked up the new bikes and helmets for Hubby and I. Then after lunch we went out. A little wobbly on the start off, but it was fun! We went and went, through the trails, Daddy in the front followed in birth order by the littles, with Mommy keeping an eye on Monkey. She had a tumble and scraped her knee, but she was a real trooper!

Later in the day, the three biggers went out again with daddy and a friend and two of his kids while Monkey stayed behind with me. We did a repeat on Monday afternoon, but with both families going, and the mommas and the youngests of the two families heading home earlier again with the older ones and the daddies going farther. Training wheels and little legs can only go so far! So, when a friend told me about someone she knew selling their gently used bike buddy, we jumped at it!

The girls and I picked it up while the boys finished up their piano lessons with Dad, then we attached it to Dad’s bike and they went for a test drive. The look on Monkey’s face when they came back up to the house was amazing! She was simply beaming!

Yesterday morning the three younger ones and I biked to the school for drop off and pick up, then after supper we did a longer family ride with the bike buddy. We were out for about 40 minutes, just using the trails and sidewalks around town. It was amusing seeing the smiles on peoples faces as they saw the tandem bike at the front, followed by three more children, then the mom going all over the place. As the person bringing up the rear, seeing the 4.5 bikes in front of me brought a lot of happy to my heart.

My heart was so full, seeing them power up hills, race to get in front of each other in spots on the path, and not complain about the distance we were putting on. Smarty wants to ride his bike to school sometime, so Hubby will time that out with him over a weekend and we will plan when that can happen. I am more than happy to keep riding to the elementary school with the younger ones. Definitely a fantastic investment we’ve made this weekend!

Monday, May 8, 2017

bits and pieces

Three weeks ago we were coming home from an Easter visit to see family and were returning to snow. Two weeks ago the kids and I were shoveling out our driveway and side walk.  One week ago the youngest was still wearing her touque and gloves everywhere because she was cold still. This last weekend we had shorts and flip flops on and hats. Crazy weather cleared up just in time!

The count down was on, and we've now welcomed Hubby back home! He arrived super early this morning and returned baby Bear to Monkey's arms. It has been a terrific day with him, and I don't know who is happiest that he's in his own bed right now!

For tonight we did burgers and strawberry shortcake (just because), and right now everyone is tucked away into bed and are fast asleep. I think it was, hands down, the easiest bedtime in weeks! And Hubby is out like a light too. Jet lag is a crazy thing.

My coursework is moving along nicely. Learning and reviewing things, getting into some more memory intense learning. Not as much time for baking/cooking for fun, but we are managing to keep tasty food in everyone's bellies.

Preschool is wrapping up soon! I finished my last parent volunteer day last week, there's a Mother's Day tea on Wednesday, and there will only be a handful of classes left after that! Monkey is excited for kindergarten and being in the same school as Girlie and Sergeant.

Sergeant has finished up archery for the year and loved every minute of it! Smarty has joined up the spring league for basketball for his school, and this will be week #3 for him for that. I was so happy when he asked if he could join up. He is wanting to explore out of his regular comfort zone and try new things!! He does alright on the court too ;) I am so proud of those boys!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter travels!

We got out of town just in time! 

I had decided to head down to the balmy, sunny, southern part of the province for Easter weekend and was originally planning to head down on Good Friday morning. Instead the littles and I loaded up and left right after school on Thursday. Boy, am I ever glad I did! It had been snowing/raining off and on during the day, and was really starting to come down as we pulled out of the driveway, but it cleared up before we got to our first (and amazingly enough only) stop in Red Deer! Smooth traffic, dry roads, really good passengers, and we made really good time; despite Monkey alternately telling me to drive faster because she wanted to get there sooner and telling me to "stop breaking the driving rules" by going too fast. And in my defense... I wasn't going all at fast! 

Colouring Easter Eggs

But we arrived in Vulcan and Amma's house before dark. We saw some deer crossing the highway, lots of singing along to the music that was playing, and no one slept at all!! We attended the Walk of the Cross on Friday morning, helped move some of Amma's furniture around with Uncle K and Aunt C, and had a pretty good visit. Saturday brought a community egg hunt. It was so sunny! Cool wind, but none of the rain that had been forecast for the weekend. After discovering Easter baskets and going to the service, we pulled out of Vulcan and made our way farther south to see my parents. 

My oldest sister was hosting supper and there was an egg scavenger hunt for all the grandchildren. It was a loud supper and lots of running around for the hunt, and there were of course a few blowups, but the cousins had so much fun together.
Easter goodies on the trampoline
The next day most of the cousins came over to make bunny buns. They are a sweet dough rolled to look like a bunny with a glaze. And they were so tasty! I've made them before, but not in years. So yummy! Especially still warm from the oven!

Roads were pretty clear driving back home Tuesday. It had been snowing overnight in Edmonton, but the roads were dry the whole way up. And when we arrived there we found that someone had wonderfully shoveled our driveway and sidewalk! 

Laundry and back to school the next day. The weekend so far has been busy too. Swimming lessons and a visit with a couple of hubby's cousins, home for cleaning. I am such a mean mommy. I put everyone to work to with tasks and chores and it went pretty well! Once the livingroom was clean there was an impromptu dance party (because, let's face it: is there a better kind??)
We woke up to a white world once again with a snowfall warning in effect. So, guess who is getting everyone to put snow boots and and remove the cold fluffy stuff from the driveway? Yup! This mean mom! 

Side note: try saying "fat fluffy flakes" three times fast. It's not easy!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Baby Bear!

We've been contaminated! The flu hit a few houses in the neighbourhood last weekend (after Sergeant's busy birthday party), and we were hoping that it would have missed us completely, but alas. It did not.

Friday evening, after 10 extra 8-9 years old children left the house and detritus was picked up, we had our visitors we were expecting arrive. Poppa and Grandma made the trip out for a few days before Hubby was scheduled to leave, it helped that it was Spring break for the kids too. We kept busy; going to the waterpark at the "big mall", checking out Cabela's (always a favourite for this crew), going to the library, and showing where the kids' schools are. It is really heartwarming to see the grandparent relationships grow, and I love the unique bond that they have with all grandparents in the family tree.

Poppa and Gandma left mid week for more visiting down in the south part of the province, and we spent some family time going for walks and filling bicycle tires, and just enjoying our little unit until it was time to go to the airport.

The crew did a good job with the goodbyes. Some tears and hugs before and after, and transition to Daddy being away is what it is, but that's normal.

We were able to invade some friends' afternoon to get some general funk out, and then everyone had a bath or shower before bed. The next day, I wanted to start on the right foot, so I plugged in to school first thing in the morning while the Littles had their "morning Netflix". We went to work, did lots of house cleaning, made root beer floats as a reward, then they got to watch Mary Poppins so I could do some more school.

Then the flu hit. Girlie started first thing in morning, then Smarty got hit hard. Monkey decided she couldn't be left out, but Sergeant was grateful to not join that group! So yesterday we stripped beds, did more wash, and stayed pretty low key. Appetites were more or less back to normal for supper, too. Hooray for a quick bug!

It's been fun getting pictures of Baby Bear from Hubby. Monkey insisted that he go with Daddy too, so I made him a hat to match Hubby's so he could be camouflaged with the rest of the troops.

 He was making himself comfortable in Hubby's new, temporary digs, listening to the birds and wildlife outside. Making friends too  below is Bentley the Beaver who lives with the group.

Baby Bear went to church this morning and this evening, and I'm told behaved very well through the services. I'm glad he wasn't disruptive!

Since today has been so incredibly sunny, we walked. We walked to and from church this morning, we walked to a park this afternoon. I have loved the sun, even with the cooler wind. Just about all of our snow is gone, and the puddles are nearly dried up too. I am looking forward to the grass turning green again and being able to wear flip flops again!

That sums up our week. School, laundry, movies. Gearing up for routine to be back tomorrow with school and preschool, and noses back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Report cards and learning!

It has been the end of a term and the beginning of a new one! Everyone is doing well, learning and growing, challenging themselves academically and socially. It's good to see and hear about.

Plus, Sergeant has turned 9 successfully! We have decided that everyone needs to stop growing up. Right now! He is going to be having a birthday party with friends on Friday, and it sounds like everyone is excited for that. They have no school that day so they can all assist to help with the preparations! I'm sure they'll love that! He's also decided that he wants "that cake we made from Germany" so I get to do another Black Forest cake this week. I'm definitely not complaining, though! It was so so yummy!

Hubby is officially on leave right now! It was a really nice day spent running some errands, hanging out with Monkey and I, picking up things for projects and to prepare for him going away for a few weeks. He dropped her off at preschool and did a few extra errands while I tackled some more of my online studies, and we team worked pickup.

Swimming lessons are finished for a couple of weeks, and I have everyone signed up for a new session starting in April in Edmonton, but it was a place that they could all do it at the same time, so I'm happy with that! Makes it easier when I'm flying as solo parent. Plus it frees up our after school play time and piano practice time.

Yesterday we ended up with a very full house. Smarty texted from the bus to see if a friend down the street could come over and Sergeant asked if another friend down the road in the other direction could come over, so they did. Then Sergeant went to the friend's house for a bit and Smarty's friend called his parents to see if he could stay for supper. So there was another chair at the table and another voice for conversation. It was a good time.

Then we walked to the mall down the way for a prescription pick up and some fresh air. And some complaining, but that's normal! Today after supper I was super mean and made the kids clean up the toys in the basement and then we went out. It was cold and grey all day but the sun decided to shine right before dinner time, so we enjoyed some fresh air. Walked through a few trails, played at a muddy park, and came home. Lots of water in those boots!

Spring break is next week! And before we know it, it'll be Easter. I'm making a trip down to see family with the littles for that weekend since we live so much closer now. I feel really good about that decision and the kids are super excited too.

How was the time change for all of you? That first week was absolutely brutal here! I think we are still adjusting to it. Slowly getting readjusted, but there is a lot of tired going around!