Monday, March 07, 2022

Kelli and Rosie's visit: the deets

As always, I have a million other things that I should be writing, but I've decided to get some blogging done (a) as a treat and (b) out of necessity. Last week Kelli, Rosie, and Irie were here. Already it's this week and Grandpa is here. So I have a lot of ground to cover!

Fortunately for me, Phoebe had a string of very easy nights, where she went down around 7:00 pm and slept for a good 12 hours (aside from a few wakings to refuel so she could sleep some more). Tonight we were...not that fortunate...but it does mean that I got some good headway on my assignments over the past couple of days. 

Anyway, when Kelli arrived I was surprised to see that she and Rosie had packed three big suitcases. For four days?! It seemed excessive. 

Well, one of those suitcases was filled to overflowing with toys and things for the kids, including a ginormous stuffed unicorn for Zoë and a slightly smaller but still enormous stuffed owl for Alexander:

It was like Christmas morning...but in February! Here's Alexander in his new owl hat (Auntie K noticed his two-year-old owl hat was getting a little snug):

And here are the boys all decked out for St. Patrick's Day (in matching Minecraft shirts):

And Miss Phoebe, as well:

Little Irie is so funny. In the picture below Zoë is holding her (I love her excited little eyes peeping out from behind Irie's head), but at one point Rachel was holding her and she felt something in the leg of Irie's outfit, so she reached up inside her pantleg and pulled out a soother (pacifier/binky/whatever) and held it up to me with a look of surprise on her face that only intensified when Irie opened up her mouth and popped the soother in.

Then Rosie walked into the room and said, "How did she get a soother?!"

Ireland's theory about clothes seems to be that they are just one big pocket. She loves sticking things down inside her clothes to hang onto.

Don't mind Phoebe going back and forth between short sleeves and long sleeves under her jumper; she had a number of blow-outs this particular day.

Inside Kelli's suitcase (besides the clothes for the kids and a number of gifts), she also had a saran wrap game that she'd made up for the kids.


They had fun racing each other to find the toys and treats wrapped up inside (before the next player rolled doubles and the ball of saran wrap was passed down the line).

Here's Rachel helping Irie with her bottle:

She was standing so funny, holding her legs stark straight and leaning back against Rachel like that. She drank her whole bottle that way.

Here are the kids playing with some fake snow that they won in the saran wrap game:

Kelli brought one of her favourite books to read with the kids—Parts by Tedd Arnold. It was lovely to have her take over bedtime stories for a few days (not that I don't enjoy story time because it's one of my favourite parts of the day; however...I have this new baby and school work was nice to know they were being read to while I attended to other things).

Though I think all I was doing at this particular moment was taking pictures, since Kelli has Benjamin, Alexander, and Zoë entertained, and Rosie and Rachel were playing with the babies:

Here's Ireland with a big, tall hat:

Another night Kelli read Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique to the kids, wherein Fancy Nancy instructs a number of small children to walk with a banana on their head to perfect their posture. So...we ended up walking around with bananas on our heads (because while Mommy probably would have said, "Cool idea. However, I'm tired and it's time for bed," Auntie K said, "Let's go get some bananas!"):

And that's just one reason Auntie K is cooler than me.

Having Kelli visit was a very good thing. I think that's the most (consecutive) time I've spent with her in...decades? We're somewhat far apart in age and she left our house when she was quite young (and I was even younger) and then several years of strained familial relationship for a number of complicated reasons was just nice to be around her. She's patient, charismatic, fun! 

One of my earliest memories of her—whether I made this up or not, who knows—is in our Burnaby house, sitting on her bed. She was letting me try playing...something...either her recorder or her clarinet (I'm not sure which she was into at that point and my little-kid self didn't know the difference). Not all of my memories of her are pleasant. I also distinctly remember her telling me our parents were dead when they left her to babysit early one morning. She was so upset that I was so upset that she locked me in the closet. But, I think all kids have happy and unhappy memories about growing up, so I'm not mad.

I mean, to be fair, I was a rather scream-y child. But to be fair, if you don't want your little sister to cry all morning...don't tell her your parents are dead. Just tell her that they went out and left you to babysit. 

Anyway, another thing I remember is that when she first disappeared from my life, I was just so sad because she was the sister who was always up for a good time. She was funny and she enjoyed doing fun things and she was kind and generous and...then she was gone. And I was really sad about that. 

I know you can't change the past, but when I look at the past I'm still a little sad (and sometimes Big Sad) that she didn't get to finish growing up in our house, and that her growing up looked so different from my growing up, and how many memories we missed out on making because of the way life turned out.

And, honestly, it's turned out fine, I think. For both of us.

Life hasn't been easy for either of us (but probably especially for her, if I'm being honest), but I think we're both fine, and I don't know how much of the past either of us would be willing to trade because we are who we are because of the water we waded through (or swam through). Still, I do wish that Kelli had been able to finish just...being a kid...without all the complications that got in the way. 

Anyway, it was good to get reacquainted with her on this level, to remember how much fun she is, to play games I didn't know she liked to play, and to stay up too late talking about life. It was a gift for me, and it was a gift for my kids to get to know their aunt like this, though my littlest kids are so confused about how we're all related.

Here's Kelli holding both the babies:

The kids know that Auntie K is my sister, but they are flummoxed by everything else. Zoë made a card for "Uncle Austin," Rosie's husband, to tell him that she lost a tooth (because he's in dental school, so she thought he'd be excited to learn that). She really thinks it's possible that Rosie is my sister, because Josie is my sister, and they're about the same age. But she also knows, in theory, that Kelli is Rosie's mother and that Kelli is my sister, making Rosie my niece and her cousin.

She knows that in theory

But then you throw in the complication of Ireland. Who is she?! She's Rosie's baby, but she's the same age as Phoebe. So then she's our cousin. Ah, but Rosie is our cousin. So what does that make Irie?

"Are you the grandma to Millie, too?" Alexander asked Kelli.

"No. I'm Millie's auntie," Kelli told him. "Naanii is Millie's grandma, just like she's Phoebe's grandma."

"But not Irie's grandma?"

"No, not Irie's grandma."

"Then who's Irie's grandma?!"

"I'm Irie's grandma, remember! Naanii is Irie's great-grandma."

(They also have no idea which of my brothers is older and which of my brothers is younger than me, even though I've told them about a billion times).

It's a little confusing. But, family is family, so it all works out. As (I believe it was my mom's cousin) Nola would say, "We don't do 'removed.'"

Let's's Zoë (in a fancy dress from Auntie K that she wants to wear every day) holding Phoebe in her little St. Patrick's Day outfit:

And here, much later in the day, is Zoë snuggling with Auntie K:

And here's a picture of Rosie taking a picture of Alexander holding Irie, while Andrew and Rachel work on hanging a picture in the background:

Here's Irie hanging out upside down (she seemed to like doing this):

Kelli also planned a rather intense craft project to do with the kids, which was nice because I haven't had the time or energy for very intense craft projects lately. She actually shipped a lot of the supplies directly to my house rather than packing them in her suitcase. She didn't want to travel with a jar of glitter, for example, and I understand why. Glitter gets everywhere.

She helped the kids make fairy lanterns—gluing a silhouette shape of a fairy or dragon to the inside of a jar and covering the outside with tissue paper—and when she announced there would be glitter, Alexander's eyes got big and he said quite seriously, "This is a glitter-free household."

It was hilarious because...I'm not really sure where he got that idea from. It's true that we don't have glitter, but we've never announced that we're glitter-free. I would say I'm surprised by his choice of phrase, but I'm not...we joke about being _____-free of lots of things.

Here's a little video of the finished lanterns:

And, while I'm dropping videos, here's a video of us singing 'Baby Beluga' as a little gift to Uncle David for his birthday. 

It's a song that Millie really likes (though she, in part, enjoys the video along with the song) so we figured it wouldn't hurt to record ourselves singing it for her.

It's been kind of fun to see how wildly different our parenting strategies are—mine, David, and Rosie's—as we've been raising these little babies together—but thousands of miles apart. 

For example, Millie has a favourite music video. So clearly she watches music videos. I don't think this is bad because I know David is right there with her, singing along, and talking to her about the video, etc. 

Rosie, on the other hand, prefers a strict no-screen approach for Irie. So clearly she does not have a favourite music video. And that's also fine.

I'm somewhere in the middle. I hadn't ever thought to introduce visual media to Phoebe, but I don't expressly avoid it, either. Though the other day when I got up really early with her, I pulled up 'Baby Beluga' (it was stuck in my head, okay?) and let her watch that on the iPad while she did tummy time and...she seemed to enjoy it (which is kind of a big deal because she's still not a huge fan of tummy time). I'm not sure that we'll make that a habit, but it could be fun every now and again. 

I've also been known to use the television as a babysitter; like, "Yes, please, settle in for this episode of 'Magic School Bus' because I've got to go do some stuff, so I'm not against screen time, either. Minecraft, also, is a wonderful way to tie my kids up so they stop pestering me while I'm trying to do my own work.

It's all about balance, right?

Anyway, moving's Rachel enjoying Ireland (who really seemed to like Rachel quite a lot):

The very last thing Kelli did before leaving was give Zoë (and Alexander) a quick manicure. It was the last thing she promised she would do with them and...Kelli's pretty great on following through on things like that (another think I admire about her):

Zoë was pretty sad to see Kelli leave (and I don't blame her):

We went outside to wave them off, which is a childhood tradition of mine. This is the recipe for a proper goodbye: you hug, you cry, you say goodbye, you follow them outside and wave as they get in their car, you wave as they drive away, then you chase after their car waving until you can't see them anymore. 

It's just how it's done.

We couldn't find Alexander for a little while, however, because he's not aware of this tradition (he has no memory of visitors or anything like that; all he knows is COVID) so he made up his own tradition and went upstairs to my bedroom window to watch them leave. We called him outside to show him the proper way to say goodbye.

And I think that about sums it up! We had such a wonderful time and wish they could have stayed longer (and not only because Kelli cooked every night)!


  1. This makes me teary and sad/happy and just so very glad you guys had this time together. "I'm so glad you've had this time together / Just to have a laugh and sing a song / Seems you've just got started and before you know it / Comes the time you have to say so long."

  2. What a fun visit, and what an exceptional aunt!

    My family growing up were wavers much like you. People who go inside (or stay!) when their guests are leaving...I just don't get that.