Saturday, June 27, 2015

I hope 'owl' see you again!

We’ve been having a major heat wave here lately.  To the point that people from Alberta as well as Ontario have been telling me this is hotter than what they’re used to (and I always thought both those provinces had much hotter summer temps than us).  It’s just that it’s gone on for such a long stretch.  We had a very small amount of rain maybe a week or two ago and I was so not used to rain anymore that I literally felt like I didn’t know what to do!  It’s crazy, because usually in June we’d have a fair bit of rain, but we had little rain in May AND June this month, and as far as I know there’s no end of this heat in sight.

It’s been great in some ways, because we’ve been using the yard a ton and getting out to the park a lot.  I love feeling like we’re not stuck indoors due to rain, we have way more than our fair share of rain most of the time.  But this heat is getting brutal, and today felt so warm that it was hard to be outside at all.  Inside is hot, too, and right now I’m upstairs which is an inferno.  But outside was so freaking hot that when James and I were out on a little afternoon date, it just felt uncomfortable to do anything that involved being outside.

We went for a bit of a hike (after getting some authentic pizzas and eating them at a little park in the shade) and ended up going into a forested area.  We were heading back out of the little trail when we heard a loud HOOT, HOOOOOOOOT! from a little ways away from us and then spotted a white and grey coloured owl in a tree VERY close to where we were standing.  After admiring that one for a while, we looked back because it kept looking in one direction and then made this sort of meowing noise, and it turned out there was another of the same type of owl in another nearby tree!  It was such a cool experience to see them.  I LOVE owls.  I find them mesmerizing.  I told James I must have a thing for big eyed birds, because my favourite animal is the ostrich, and now I’m thinking my 2nd fave is the owl.  So cute, and just so rare to see like that.  I definitely want to go back there with the kids sometime and hopefully spot them again!

A graduation surprise party

Last Wednesday was Andrew’s Kindergarten graduation.  My ‘baby boy’ is going into Grade One in the fall, how did that happen so fast?!  Where did this past year go?!!  It’s crazy to think about.  It literally feels like yesterday that we were checking out the school and we weren’t even sure if it was where we wanted Andrew to go, and now he’s done his whole first year and I don’t worry for one second that it was the wrong place for him to be, because it was a completely positive first year experience.  I love his school and all the staff, I couldn’t imagine not having got to know the people that we did this school year.

James and I went to the ceremony while my mom stayed with the girls, since they would be napping at least through part of it.  The ceremony was nice, just done in the classroom so fairly low key.  I had felt teary beforehand but didn’t have tears during the ceremony.  It was just really cute watching the kids go up when their name was called, and have the teacher tell us how they answered two questions: One thing you learned in Kindergarten, and What do you want to be when you grow up.  Andrew’s answers were: That it takes 3 days to get a cold after you’ve got the germs from someone (LOL) and Robotic Engineer.  (He’s wanted to be a ‘robot builder’ since he was 3!)

After the diplomas were given out (which my mom did the writing for!) the teacher put on a slideshow she’d made of the year.  It was really sweet, and I did feel a bit emotional watching it, because you could really see how all the kids have grown over the year.  I spent a fair bit of time with the kids helping out and I feel like they’re all comfortable around me and I got to know them a bit, and their different personalities.  So it was sad to realize that it won’t be the same next year, and some of the kids are moving so we might never see them again.  

After the slideshow we hung around and took pictures and the kids each had a little piece of cake, and then Andrew and I went around and got some of the other teachers in the school to sign his yearbook before we went home.  

I should mention that in the morning we had gone around and handed out the little gifts we made for all the teachers.  I told Andrew when we were planning what to get for his own teacher, that if there were any others he wanted to give something to as a thank you, we would come up with a cute little gift for them.  It turned out that with his teacher included, there were TWELVE staff members that he wanted to give to!!  So I turned to Pinterest for ideas, and then put my own spin on what I liked.  I got a few packages of these little brown paper gift bags, and added a packet of seeds for flowers as well as a really cute sunflower made with burlap from the dollar store (they came in bunches of 3 so I just cut each flower off and each bag had one).  Then I printed labels for the front of the bags that said, ‘Thank you for helping me grow this year!’ and Andrew signed his name underneath.  He added a special note to the main recess and lunch monitor, who he ADORES, (and she gave him a card and wrote me a letter that DID get me choked up, I even cried a bit when I read it to James later, it was so heartfelt!) and for his teacher we added a dollar store gift card (so she can buy some school supplies for her next class) and Andrew picked out a pretty necklace for her at the mall.  Also from Pinterest I found a sheet that asks a bunch of questions about what he’ll miss about his teacher and what he learned etc, and he filled it out and drew a little picture of her.  It was super cute, and she loved it, and all the other staff were charmed by his little self, because he seriously is a little Mr. Charming!  The girls also helped hand out the gifts, and they of course were a big hit, too!

When we got home Andrew was SOOOO over the moon excited, because we threw him his very first ever SURPRISE PARTY!  It was very low key as it just involved us and my parents, but he was completely OK with that.  He had a Spiderman helium balloon waiting for him, as well as about 15 regular balloons all over the living room, and some presents, a cake, and yummy nibblies.  He was SO happy.  I realized that I had never kept a party secret from him before, any time we’ve celebrated anything he’s always known about it in advance.  So this was an extra special party because he was completely taken by surprised.  It was really sweet, I was happy to honour him because he’s come so far in the past year, and it definitely felt worth celebrating.  I know some people are against the whole ‘Kindergarten graduation’ thing, but personally I think it’s a big milestone, because for a lot of kids it really is the first introduction to school, and being that it’s full time it’s a pretty big transition.

It was a great day.  There were a few hitches along the way but I’ll save that for a future ‘blooper’ post…!!!

Father's Day weekend

I’ve been so bad about writing things down lately, I HAVE to change that…

Last Friday (not yesterday!) Andrew gave James an early Father’s Day card, to let him know that on Saturday (the day before Father’s Day) they’d be going to see Marvel Live at the Pacific Coliseum.  Andrew and I got the tickets for it all the way back in January so it was exciting to finally be giving the gift.  They went and had a great time together.  The show sounded really awesome, with lots of stunts and tons of fire and explosions (Andrew was very excited when telling me, ‘The fire was actual REAL fire, too, Mommy, it wasn’t fake!’)  It was a perfect Father/Son thing to do to celebrate!  

While they were at the show I struggled to get the girls to nap, finally got them down and then my aunt and uncle came over for a little visit.  I rarely ever get to chat with them without the interruption of the kids, so it was nice to be able to sit outside with a glass of wine and just talk.  I had to wake Margaret and Emily up to see them before they left, though, because I’d promised them they’d see them and I knew how disappointed they’d be if they missed out on a bit of a visit.

It wasn’t long after that James texted to say they were on their way home.  The girls and I picked them up along the way and we went to Go Thai in New West for supper.  We almost never go to a restaurant with all 3 kids (the girls have only been to restaurants maybe a handful of times, total!) but we went for it, and Go Thai was a good choice in that we were able to sit outside, and no one else was out there.  So we didn’t have to be overly concerned about the noise the kids made (although of course we do try to teach them good table manners!)  It went OK, but only Andrew would eat any of the food, and it felt quite exhausting in all honesty.  Aside from the sheer cost of eating out for a family of 5, I also remembered why we almost never take them to restaurants.  It’s so much work!  But the food was good, and from there we just had a short trek down the street to Hume Park.

We checked out the new water park, which Emily in particular LOVED, although after playing on the regular playground Andrew and Margaret enjoyed it, too.  It’s just that Emily can hold her attention on one thing for a good chunk of time, so she can be content wherever she’s at.  The other two tend to bounce from one thing to the next a lot.  It’s something I want to work on with them...In part it’s just who they are, their personalities being quite similar it’s not surprising they’re both like that!  But I also think it’s something they could work on so they could have more focus.  It would definitely make things a lot less complicated for me if they could do an activity for more than a few minutes at a time!!  But that’s a whole other blog post…!!  It was a fun, somewhat spontaneous trip to the park, and I’m glad we went.  

On Father’s Day when I got up I got the kids sorted and took them over to my parents’ house so we could see my dad.  We had a nice visit there, with muffins and scones and strawberries for breakfast.  James got to have about an hour and a half to himself, and when we got home we had something more to eat and then the girls went for their nap and Andrew and I worked on getting his teachers’ end of year gifts prepared.  (As a side note, I’m SO happy with how they turned out, I got the idea from Pinterest but put my own spin on it and I actually feel like the end product was Pinterest worthy itself, which is something I pretty much NEVER say about my Pinterest attempts, sadly!)  

After the girls’ nap we took the kids to a park with a small zip line and fairly big playground.  It turned out to be a great choice.  There was a little girl there who was from another country and the mom said a few times, ‘We don’t speak any English!’ (which I literally think is about the only English she could say!) but the little girl was OBSESSED with Margaret and followed her around everywhere and would clap in her face and when Margaret clapped back she would do this gleeful little laugh.  It was SO CUTE.  Everything Margaret did, this girl wanted to do, too, and I like that because Margaret is a twin, she’s used to having a sidekick, so she lapped it right up!  We had a little picnic-snack there, and then headed home.  It wasn’t the most relaxing Father’s Day but James enjoyed it, and it was nice to have some family time together.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Better late than never!

(Written on June 18th…)

Last Saturday we had good intentions and had hoped to get the kids out but decided instead to just stick close to home.  I did a bit of a grocery shop, which I don’t tend to do on the weekend usually but we were running low on quite a few things.  We had my parents over for dinner that night and spent a lot of time in the backyard.

On Sunday we decided to cross something off our Summer Bucket List.  We took the kids to New Brighton Park.  We’ve gone past the park quite a few times and tried to go once last year but parking was insane and we had to go somewhere else.  We left early and got there by 10am, and managed to get a parking spot but I think within another half an hour there would have been none.  I don’t know if they don’t allot much parking to prevent the park from getting overcrowded or what, but despite the full parking lots, it really didn’t feel busy.  The kids enjoyed the playground, and then we took them to the outdoor pool for a while, which they all absolutely loved.  You have to ‘keep within arm’s reach’ of your children the entire time and while of course with the girls we have to anyway because they’re not that used to being in the water, it was a bit stressful because they want to do separate things and then Andrew wants attention as well, of course.  It’ll be a little easier next year I’m sure, but it was fun enough that we plan to go back again in the summer.

After some swim time, we got changed and went and set up a picnic near the playground so the kids could go off and play if they wanted, and come back for snacks as needed.  They still needed our help a few times but it worked out pretty well.  From there we checked out the beach, where we saw a giant purple starfish hanging out on a rock, and after a little walk we decided it was time to head home.  We’d hoped to get the kids all sleeping on the way, so we could maybe go for a drive and just ‘relax’ but only Andrew slept in the car...for no longer than 5 minutes, and then announced, ‘Well, I had my nap, and I’m feeling energized!  LOL

When the girls went for their nap (which took a crazy long time to get them to do, considering how tired we’d have thought they’d have been), I spent some time with Andrew and sat outside in the sun for a bit, and James spent some time washing our bikes.  When he was done I took mine out for a little spin.  I almost never get the opportunity to ride my bike, but whenever I’m on it I remember how much fun it is to cycle.  After I rode around the block for a few minutes, I came back and James got Andrew’s bike out.  He’s kind of struggled with learning how to ride a bike, in part because the one we got him turned out to be a bit of a lemon (even though it was not cheap) and also because he doesn’t have a whole lot of patience (admittedly, he gets that from me!)  But because he’s a bit bigger now, or maybe because he’s been motivated by seeing some of his friends from school riding their bikes, he took to it much better this time.  And he actually went for a decent length bike ride with James.  Father/son cycling time, something James has been looking forward to for years!  Andrew still has the training wheels on but they’re jacked up so that he really does have to work on balancing.  I think they training wheels should be coming off after a few more practice sessions.  If we were able to get him out on his bike every night he’d be doing awesome but the reality is it just doesn’t happen as much as we’d like.

The weekend ended up being as relaxing as it could be with the kids.  It was tiring, but fun, and we all managed a little time in the sun and got a few things done that we’d hoped to.  I love that we have so many more summery weekends to look forward to.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sing it all the way, sing it all the way my darlings

On Friday night James and I went to the Walk Off the Earth concert at the Vogue Theatre.  It was James’ birthday gift, which I actually bought the tickets for in February to give him April, so it was something we’d been looking forward to for a while.  I can’t say enough good things about it.  Partly it felt magical because James and I had so many hours out, just the two of us, which almost NEVER happens.  But we have the band and the positive energy surrounding them to really thank for the amazing night we had.

We headed downtown around 4, walked around a bit, and ended up at Bellagio across from the art gallery, where we shared some mozzarella sticks and a really delicious authentic-tasting pizza.  It was so nice to sit out on the little patio and enjoy what felt like a hot summer day.  Time flew by, and soon it was time to line up to get into the venue.  It was general admission, so no assigned seating, and usually I’d be all uptight about lining up early to get a good seat but we took the approach of just going with the flow and got in line just a few minutes before the doors opened.  It’s a fairly small venue so I don’t think there would be a bad seat in the house, and we ended up really happy being 3rd row center behind the standing room only area.  At times there were some people I may have cursed for their height in the standing area in front of us, but for the most part we had an awesome view, and during their encore performance (which lasted a decent length of time, thank goodness) we stood.  Basically as soon as they started singing Red Hands, which is my favourite song of theirs, we stood up and grooved to the music! 

The energy was incredible, and I can’t get over how positive it was.  I have generally always listened to music more along the lines of Matthew Good, whose voice I feel could never be beat by anyone, but it’s dark (the content of the songs, I mean) and I don’t quite identify with the negativity of it the way I may have when I had more angst in my younger years!  I still love Matthew Good and other bands like his, but Walk Off the Earth is so upbeat and happy and there’s something to be said about seeing a band like that live.  I’d definitely see them again if I could.  Literally the only complaint of the night was that their set wasn’t long enough, but that’s just me selfishly wishing the concert could have gone on for hours more.  In reality, they played for just about an hour and a half (not including the opening band, Scott Helman I think his name was, who was good, too).

We took transit so we could both enjoy some drinks, which was awesome since we could just hop on the bus to come home and not have to think about driving.  We didn’t get home till midnight, and my aunt and uncle (who looked after the kids for us) didn’t leave till 12:30!  That’s crazy late for us, especially James since he often goes to bed not long after the band actually started playing!!  I started feeling really sick around that time, as I’d had quite a few drinks and no water since dinner, but I downed 4 tall glasses of water before I went to bed, which felt gross at the time but I honestly think that (and a couple of Advil!) are what saved me!  We had my nana and aunt coming over from the island yesterday morning so neither of us could afford to be unwell, but it worked out that other than being a little more tired than usual maybe, we were both fine.

Yesterday we took my nana and aunt to Ikea and I got a few organizational things for Andrew’s closet, which I spent a bit of time this morning working on.  James took the kids out for breakfast to see the mil (who I haven’t spoken to since Christmas…) so I’ve had the morning to myself, which is amazing.  I was planning on sleeping in but of course I woke up before 8am and couldn’t fall back asleep because I’m not used to getting up much later than that ever, so I made the most of it and got up, showered, got ready for the day, sat outside and sipped my coffee (can’t remember the last time that ever happened?!) and just listened to the birds chirping in the trees.  Then I decided to be productive and did a lot of work on Andrew’s closet, so there won’t be quite as much for him to help me with later (and since he hoards things like cardboard boxes I was able to get rid of some things I don’t feel he needs that just create clutter that I know he wouldn’t part with if given the choice!)  

It’s nice to just sit and do some writing and feel relaxed.  I don’t remember the last time I was home by myself, and I think it has only happened maybe 3 times (maybe, maybe not even that many times, seriously!) in the 2.5 years that we’ve lived here!

What a great weekend.  James and I REALLY needed our Friday night, it was so great to just connect as a couple and do something we wouldn’t normally get the chance to do.  Best birthday gift I ever got him!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fun hanging out with my girls

We’re finally all healthy again.  After Emily’s sudden bout of sickness, James ended up feeling really unwell for several days.  Then Emily had a bit of a relapse.  But we were all healthy in time for the weekend, which was good because my grandma was over visiting from the island.  

On Monday I felt so productive.  I don’t know exactly what caused it, but I had a sudden burst of energy in the morning (which NEVER happens) so I put it to good use and got some organizational stuff done that has been bugging me for a long time.  I did more in the evening, and managed to not only get my closet in a much better state, but I got all our summer stuff out from the hall closet and revamped it all and have a bunch of things to get rid of to goodwill.  I’m one of those people with good intentions, who loves to have things organized but has a hard time actually keeping it that way.  I really want to work on properly organizing things (not getting part way there and then deciding I’ll finish it later but then not get around to it for months or more…) and then actually maintaining it.  That’s my goal!  I HAVE to get rid of more stuff and feel like we’re living more simply.

Yesterday morning I kind of felt the opposite - not productive at all.  I knew if we went home after dropping Andrew off at school, I’d feel compelled to get more done, but I reeeally didn’t feel like it.  So the girls and I went to Superstore (we almost never go there) and got a few things, including a box of Pull-ups to try to encourage them getting away from diapers and work on potty training FULLY, once and for all.  They didn’t want to go home after we left there so we drove over to Toys R Us and I let them run around and play outside where they have all the playhouses and slides and things fenced off.  They LOVED it!  They ran from house to house and giggled as they took turns knocking on the doors and asking to come in.  They tried out all the climbers, and I realized how truly big they are getting already because they were pretty much beyond all the climbers they had there!  But they had fun exploring, and then I told them we were going into a giant toy store...but not to buy anything, just to have some fun looking around.  They were amazing about it.  They oohed and aahed and played with toys and pointed at all the characters they love.  A few things they’d pick off the shelf and say, ‘I’m takin’ this one!’ but when I said we couldn’t buy it they were really good about putting it back without complaining.  I would have bought them some little things for a dollar if they had super cheap stuff but Toys R Us is so expensive, especially when you have to buy two or more things, so I told them I couldn’t get them anything but I’d give them a treat in the car.  A Yop each and a small piece of licorice and they were totally content!  I was so happy with their behaviour.  I also love being able to take them to stores now and not need a stroller and feel confident that they’re not going to wreak havoc!

Today we had a play date with some friends who live nearby, whose kids are 4 and 10 months.  Andrew’s at school of course, but the girls and her boy and girl got along so well together.  It’s so nice.  I’ve had it where playdates don’t go super smoothly before because some of the kids don’t quite jive, but we knew it was successful when all the kids got along (Margaret would even go up to the baby and gently pat her head and hug her, it was really cute!) AND we managed to have some adult conversation without too much interruption!!  You can’t ask for, nor expect, anything better than that!

Time for a nap while the girls take theirs...It’s the only way I’ll survive the craziness of after school!  As much as I have to do throughout the morning and early afternoon each day, from 3-6pm is the witching hours, and if today goes anything at all like yesterday in that time frame...well, let’s just say I am going to need my strength!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Emily's night of sickness

On Sunday we took the kids to a nearby park and spent a few hours playing and having a picnic.  They absolutely loved it, and it was so nice to be spending quality family time outside.  It felt like summer!  When we got home we spent more time in the yard, and then got all the kids down for the night.  We figured they’d sleep well after all that outside time, so we figured we’d enjoy some time sitting out in the lounge chairs in the backyard.  James brought me a red wine and himself a Scotch, and we just started chatting when we heard Emily sobbing upstairs.  It’s not like her to start crying out of the blue like that, but we didn’t think too much of it since she hadn’t been in bed long and we knew they likely hadn’t fallen asleep yet.  When James went upstairs I knew pretty quickly that something was up, and it turned out she had thrown up - massively - all over her bed, herself, the floor, you name it she had barfed all over it.  It was all in her hair and all down her body, so James got her into the bathtub while I changed her bedding and did the best I could to clean it off the carpet.  It took a while to get her settled, and she wanted cuddles so James stayed with her for a while before she seemed comfortable in bed again.  We had our fingers crossed that that would be it - a one-time fluke-barf.  We get a lot of colds, and I get flu-like symptoms with a lot of the viruses I seem to get, but rarely does anyone in our house actually throw up (even myself - I used to throw up relatively frequently but it’s a pretty rare occurrence these days!)  

Our chance to sit outside had come and gone, as there was suddenly a freak storm.  When we were sitting outside for those 2.5 seconds, it seemed slightly cool out but there didn’t seem to be any sign of rain on the immediate horizon.  But within 5 minutes of going inside to help Emily, it started to pour with rain.  We sat on the couch, hoping to resume our time together with our drinks, when Emily started crying again and we raced upstairs to find that she’d thrown up all over herself again, as well as another section of the carpet in their room, and one of their toddler chairs.  After another bath and me scrubbing at the floor, all she wanted was to cuddle, so I stayed with her and sat with her in my arms on the floor.  All the while Margaret was up, chattering away to us, talking about how ‘Emmy’ was sick.  James brought us a bucket so she could use that if she needed it, and we’d covered a lot of the floor so there wouldn’t be any more barf on it (I will be shampooing their room as soon as I get the chance!)  But after a while I didn’t see either of them going to sleep, so I suggested we go down to the couch and watch Beauty and the Beast and try to go to sleep.  Margaret said, ‘I go, too?!’ and I couldn’t say no!  It’s not a usual occurrence and I knew she wouldn’t just go to sleep knowing we were downstairs watching a movie.  So off we went to the couch (Margaret helped me carry the bucket and Emily's water).  My dad brought over ginger ale and popsicles for when Emily would feel up to having something to hydrate, as by that time she’d thrown up another couple of times.  (Margaret would pull her head toward the bucket and Emily would tell her, ‘No Mahgwet!’  It was pretty cute watching her help, in her own way, to look out for her sister).  

Emily just laid on me, pretty much unable to do anything. She didn't even watch the movie, she had her head turned away from it and didn't have the energy to move.  We gave her some infant gravol eventually, thinking it might stave off the nausea and help her sleep (she’d never had it before but we thought we’d try it out).  She threw up about 10 minutes after having it, but we thought she might still absorb enough for it to do something.  I think in the end it may have made her drowsy, as while she continued to throw up through the night there were times when she would wobble all over the place and I’d have to hold her over the bucket so she wouldn’t miss it.

Around 11:30 I decided Margaret had better get to bed.  She was starting to get a bit tantrumy, but leading up to that moment she was a livewire and truthfully I think she was LOVING being up so late.  She was pointing at the TV and telling me what was going to happen next in the movie at every scene, and she was very animated!  James got her up to bed and then I got Emily settled on the couch so she was laying on the chaise part, so I’d be able to eventually lay down on the other part to sleep.  There was no way I was going to put her back in her bed and risk her throwing up all over herself again, and I couldn’t in all good conscience go to bed knowing she could get sick again.  Which was a good call, because from the time James went to bed at midnight and got up just before 6am, she threw up 11 more times.

I felt SO bad for my baby girl!  She’s never sick and it was just so hard to watch her go through that and be helpless to do much, other than clean out the bucket, change the towels around her, and make sure she was warm under a blanket.  The strange thing is that she didn’t ever have a fever, in fact she actually felt quite cold to the touch.  James said he thought maybe she had food poisoning, but I’m not convinced given that she didn’t eat anything that the rest of us didn’t eat the entire day.

At 6 I went up to bed and James took over, and she seemed to be on the mend after that.  Oh, but one cute thing was that around 4am I gave her a popsicle and 2 sips of ginger ale, and while she was eating the popsicle she looked around and said, ‘Where’s Mahgwet?’  I told her we’d put her to bed because she was so tired and needed to sleep and she just nodded and whispered, ‘OK.’  Apparently when Margaret got up at around 7 (a sleep in for her, for sure, so going to bed late did mean sleeping later at least!) the first thing she said was, ‘Where’s Emmy?!’  Emily woke up then, and pretty much seemed back to her normal self.  It’s taken her a while to start eating more again, but it’s as if that never happened.

It was a very long night, though, and I basically had a total of 3 hours sleep, not all in a row, which I didn’t find to be enough to get me through the day.  I went out shopping for a little while in the afternoon, but by early evening I was starting to feel quite sick and was getting worried I was coming down with whatever she had by how nauseous I was getting.  I think I was just way over tired, though, because when I woke up this morning I felt fine.

It’s a mystery as to what it was, because none of the rest of us got sick, which seems odd if it was something catchy.  But at least it’s over and done with, and hopefully we won’t have to go through anything like that again for a really long time!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Our 'new' backyard

I’m sitting out on the deck in our backyard, admiring all we’ve done this week to update it.  I got rid of all the moss, dug out and sawed off the roots that were sticking up too far from the bush we removed, and leveled out the dirt as best as I could.  I didn’t level it out quite as well as I’d have hoped, but I did a pretty good job, and it’s 100% better than it was when I first started.  It’s a lot of work, and if I had more time I could do so much more, but I’m really happy with it anyway.  We got a 6ft by 7.5ft artificial grass rug from Home Depot, and laid that down where the moss used to be (we don’t get enough sun to properly grow grass in the back, and as well there’s been that problem throughout the lower mainland with grubs that raccoons dig through grass to get to.  I found a lot of them as I was digging up the dirt, so I’m glad we decided not to try growing real grass!)  The rug looks quite real, and feels like real grass on bare feet, which I find really cool.  After laying out the one rug, we decided we had to get another one.  I was going to put foam mats or another outdoor rug beside it, but it looked totally scabbed together and not how I envisioned the ‘new’ yard to look.  James agreed that the other grass rug was needed, so I went back to the store before he changed his mind (lol!)  I got the underlay put down (to avoid weeds but also so not quite as many gross bugs would be right underneath the rug) and the rugs on top and it looks AMAZING.  

Obviously if we owned our home I would have wanted to do things a little differently, but for the space we have this works great.  And the kids LOVE it.  I set up all their plastic climbers and slides up in one corner so it’s like a little jungle gym for them, and they went crazy playing on everything.  Every time we went inside they’d request going back out into the yard, and we ended up spending most of the afternoon and early evening outside.  I still want to make a few changes here and there but it’s looking so much better.  I’m requesting we get management to build us a fence, which I think will really help to finish off the look.

It’s so nice to know we have this great space outside for the kids to play, and for James and I to relax.  I’m still getting used to the fact that we have no privacy, but for the most part I’m just pretending we still have it.  We say hi to the neighbours across the way that we know when we see them, but beyond that it’s not the biggest deal ever.  I’d prefer privacy, but it is what it is.  And we’ve got the awesomest looking yard on the block, (if I do say so myself, but seriously, most people don’t do much with their yards around here!) so I guess we may as well show it off!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Say goodbye to the trees...

As we pulled into our subdivision last Friday morning I noticed that a chipper and other large-scale garden maintenance-type vehicles were pulled up around the complex next to us.  I didn’t think much of it, as we’ve had a lot of trees taken down lately.  I didn’t think much of it mostly because I was certain whatever was happening wouldn’t affect us directly, since everything in and around us has been done recently, so I just figured we were ‘in the clear.’  Well, we’re in the clear alright...As in, the complex right beside us was all but completely clear cut, and we basically lost ALL the privacy we once had.

Previous to this hack job, we had almost COMPLETE privacy in our backyard.  There was basically one tiny spot where people in that complex could see our yard, but it was so hidden that it’s unlikely anyone ever even looked through there.  Now, we are in full view of all the homes across from us, as they are to us.  If I’m sitting on our couch in the living room, people across the way can see me.  And I am NOT happy about it AT ALL.  We had our own little private oasis, and we went from that to being completely on display.  I was so shocked by it, too, because we had no warning that it was going to happen.  One of Andrew’s classmates lives literally right across from us and I was talking to his mom and she said that they didn’t get any warning either, and it was right outside their front door that the work was taking place.  It’s CRAZY.  I get wanting to clean things up and maybe clear out a bit of what was overgrown, but not to the point of clearcutting and basically making it so it will be at least 20 years before people have privacy again!  I’m still really upset about it.  I know I’ll get used to it, we don’t have a choice, but I feel really sad when I think about it.  (They did at least keep the one pretty tree that's directly across from us, so we still have that to enjoy, but it doesn't give us the privacy I want back, unfortunately).

This happened in the morning, and in the afternoon my dad was coming over to build our deck extension.  I was so excited about the deck but then with all the other changes I was feeling like we shouldn’t be sinking more money into this rental when taking all our privacy away kind of made me want to pick up and move!  But I thought about it and while I’m not happy about the changes, I also don’t see where we’d move to that we could afford and have the amount of space that we do, and for the most part we really love it here.  So my dad went ahead and extended the deck and it’s amazing what it does for our yard!  It feels so much more functional now.  There’s still a lot of work to be done to level out the dirt and add some wood chips and other things we’re thinking about around the deck, but it’s getting there, and once it’s all done it’s going to be such an awesome outdoor space.  I look forward to all the time we’ll be able to spend out there throughout the rest of the spring and summer - even if we are in plain sight of the neighbourhood! :S

I'm such a lucky mom!

I had a really lovely Mother’s Day this year.  I could have slept in but for some reason I woke up at 8am and couldn’t fall back asleep.  When I got up I was greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a big ‘Happy Mother’s Day!’ and kisses from Andrew, and then from the girls as well.  They were eager for me to open my cards that they made me (Inside Andrew’s he wrote, ‘Thank you for loving me so much, I love you!’ and I thought that was SO sweet!), and Andrew also had made me a little basket and a really pretty bracelet at school.  He chose blue, yellow, and green for the beads, with the green ones being stars, and in the middle is a big pearl bead.  It’s so cute, and I love that he chose a colour scheme based on what he knows I like (particularly blue).  From everyone I got a Japanese Maple tree that we’re going to put in a big pot in the backyard.

James made us all ‘Eggy Soldiers’ for breakfast (soft boiled eggs with toast) and after we had that we got ready and took the kids to the Burnaby Village Museum.  I thought it would have been really busy but it seemed like there was hardly anyone there at all.  We went around and looked in a lot of the storefronts and it felt like we were experiencing it for the first time, even though we’ve been there lots of times (although the girls were never big enough to do all that they did there yesterday!)  We went to the little restaurant there and shared a veggie burger, fries, and some mac n’ cheese for the kids (although the portion was so ridiculously small that they barely got any shared three ways).  We followed that with ice cream, which the kids (especially Andrew) were so excited about.  Andrew chose a mint chocolate chip cone, James got pralines and cream, and for the girls I got a scoop of bubble gum ice cream, and a scoop of cookies and cream so we could share.  I thought a cone would have been a bit messy for them, but Margaret was so upset that I hadn’t got her a cone so she ended up eating a lot of James’!  Emily just sat nicely and worked on her blue ice cream, which she seemed to enjoy a lot.

From there we went to the carousel, which is usually crazy busy but we were basically the only ones in line.  It was Margaret and Emily’s first ever time on the carousel - or any carousel for that matter!  And Andrew’s first time riding all on his own, since James and I had to hold onto the girls.  Our prediction was that Margaret would love it, but that Emily would either love it or hate it.  It turned out that Emily LOVED it...As James put it, the whole entire outing was made just by the huge grin Emily had as soon as the ride started!  It was the sweetest thing!  Margaret on the other hand appeared terrified, clutching onto the pole and also holding her face to it, as if letting go would send her flying right off the horse.  It turns out she actually loved it, and got more comfortable with it as the ride went on, but it was funny how our prediction was so inaccurate!  As soon as the ride stopped Margaret started bawling because she wanted to go on again, and didn’t understand that even if you want to ride again, you have to line up again.  I bought ‘the baker’s dozen’ coin bag so we decided they could each go on a second time, and we’ll save the rest for the next time we go.  (Late last night Margaret woke up and started talking to me about ‘the big horsie ride’ and how it went up and up and up and she wanted to go back tomorrow!  So I’d definitely say it was a big hit!)

After BVM we came home and Andrew desperately wanted mommy/son time while the girls napped, so I was going to take him to a park a little ways away from our house but we ended up hitting up a garage sale instead.  I got him a few toys - a Darth Vader mask, and a figurine of Wolverine and one of Lego Hulk.  Then I scored him a bunch of clothes, and normally I never buy clothes at a garage sale but he picked out a whole bunch of things he liked and I got it all for less than what one of the pairs of pants would have cost new, AND the pants happened to be Andrew’s exact size AND brand new with tags!  So it felt like an amazing deal.  We drove home and then walked over to the little park near our house and Andrew played there for a while, and then we went for a bit of a walk around the neighbourhood and came home.

After a while I woke James up since he was napping while the girls slept, and my plan was to take a nap, but a neighbour from a few doors down decided at that moment to get a bunch of power tools out and start working in his carport.  I was pretty ticked off.  I wasn’t able to rest, but was too tired by that point to really do anything.  So I just lounged around for a bit while James took the kids to another park and picked up some Thai food for our dinner (I got to request whatever I wanted for my Mother’s Day dinner, and not surprisingly I chose Thai!)

We had our yummy dinner and then Andrew and I went over to my parents’ house so we could give my mom her prezzies and see her for a Mother’s Day visit.  We ended up staying there till 9pm, which is half an hour past Andrew’s bed time and on a school night, so basically as soon as we got home he was off to beddy byes, and James and I watched some more of a movie we started the other night.

It wasn’t the most relaxing day in the sense that I didn’t really have much free time, but it didn’t bother me because I really enjoyed the family time that we had, and having some one on one time with Andrew.  It was warm, cloudy but with some sun mixed in, and all in all a perfect Mother’s Day.  I’m such a lucky mom to have the 3 beautiful children that I do!

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