Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Bubble days

Our neighbours have the funnest little bubble station. They can often be found blowing bubbles and are so welcoming to anyone who wants to join them. Janelle rests a plastic lid on top of a cooler. She has a little dish for bubbles and some wonderful bubble wands and doesn't seem to mind that the kids spill all over the place (which is something that stresses me out to no end). She just appreciates having kids over to play with her little boy so she can kick up her heels for a minute (and she sets out camping chairs for all the parents so they can join her for a chat while the kids play). 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

A busy week

Either this week was terribly busy or we've just gotten so used to having Andrew home most of the time that it feels oppressive when he has to work and commute every day. In addition to jury duty (to which he was summoned for—and then released from—on Wednesday morning), Andrew had a number of meetings that he had to go to campus for. He ended up being on campus on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with the jury selection on Wednesday. So we're pretty much worn out this week!

On Monday, though, we went for a walk in the park after dinner, and stayed to have family home evening! Andrew taught us all how to make origami frogs and then when he moved on to origami cranes I excused myself to play with Phoebe in the park because (1) as you can see she was getting into everything and (2) origami cranes are one of the few origami patterns I'm proficient in. 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Happy "essential" birthday to Andrew!

It stormed pretty hard last night—not so much that it flooded the basement or anything, but still pretty stormy. I listened to the rain as drifted in and out of sleep while I fought with Phoebe about whether or not we should be sleeping (guess who was on which side of that argument). I woke up to the unmistakable THOOM of the power going out and thought about checking on the basement...but Phoebe was asleep right beside me and I figured pretty much anything of value had already been moved out of the path of the flood, anyway. 

The power came back on around 5:00 in the morning, by my calculations (from information gathered from the flashing alarm clock, which alerted me of precisely how many hours had passed since it turned back on). We woke up in the morning and began our rush to get ready for church—stuffing the children into their Sunday best, filling their bellies with breakfast, brushing their hair and their teeth. 

We were right in the thick of it when we realized no one had seen Benjamin.

He wasn't in his bed. He wasn't downstairs playing LEGO. He wasn't answering the full-house announcement. Had he gone outside? 

His shoes were all inside and the front door was locked. Perhaps he'd gone out the garage door...but that door was locked, too...

Fortunately, checking the garage door led Andrew past the couch, where he found Benjamin sound asleep. He woke up very disoriented and spoke nonsense for a good ten minutes before he finally woke up enough to eat breakfast and get dressed. It was really quite concerning, so we were glad he snapped out of it.

Once he was dressed, he went to wait in the van while we put some finishing touches on the other kids and gathered up items for my church bag and collected all our sheet music and hymnals and...I was just putting on my cute little fall booties for the first time this season when my phone buzzed. It was a message from Grandpa:

"Church is canceled."

"Oh. Why?" I asked. "Power outage?"


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Friday, September 15, 2023

Spicy juice!

I wrote about Phoebe having many, many potty accidents the first little while after coming home from our trip. I began to worry she might be developing a UTI, but it was also a long weekend and I didn't want to have to take her into urgent care or anything (especially since she didn't have a fever or anything), so we just gave her plenty of baths, plied her with as much cranberry juice as she would take (which wasn't much, honestly), and encouraged her to void her bladder frequently. 

By the time Tuesday rolled around she was back to her regular potty-going self and has been great ever since. She takes herself potty frequently or will ask for assistance. It's such a relief! 

(Like most people on the planet, I don't actually enjoy potty training tiny humans (though I do enjoy the after math because, like most people on the planet, I don't actually enjoy changing diapers either)). 

The cranberry juice we got for her was 100% cranberry juice, which is as tart as can be! She was excited about the word "juice" because she'd had some apple juice on the plane (and that was yummy) and because one of her favourite books has the line "a moose and a goose together have juice." 

Juice is a pretty wonderful concept! 

We don't have it very often at our house, and—wow!—what a sweet treat it is!

But cranberry juice, as it turns out, was not delectable. The rest of us enjoyed drinking it, but Phoebe did not. I even watered it down for her and mixed in some which point I told Andrew he probably could have gotten one of the cranberry cocktails for her (the kind that are like 95% apple juice, 5% cranberry). 

In spite of the less delicious cranberry juice, the concept of "juice" was quite a romantic idea in her little toddler mind. 


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

DeWinton and High River (August 25)

Josie couldn't take much time off work, but she was able to join us over the weekend. On Friday morning we went back to visit the various playgrounds in the neighbourhoods near the hotel—and found a cute little frog that we caught to take a picture to send to the kids at home—before heading to the airport to pick up Auntie Josie.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

The Farm (August 28)

This is the picture I snapped of the Happy Face Barn (outside of Cayley, Alberta) on the way back to High River from Grassy Lake. 

We didn't actually return to High River. Instead we went to Okotoks! But I was happy to see the Happy Face Barn because it's a famous local landmark (it means there's just about 10 minutes left until you're home!) and I wasn't sure I'd get to see it! We weren't sure whether David would be able to meet us in Okotoks or whether we'd have to drive up to his place in Airdrie (which would mean we'd take a different route and enter Calgary from the east rather from the south). But, clearly we drove up on Highway 2 and we saw the barn, which has at times been used for political statements (though, in all honesty, I'm not sure our politics align because they were opposing providing farm "employees minimum wage, vacation pay and injury compensation benefits," which are all things that working people know...have access to (Bill 6 has since been replaced by the Farm Freedom & Safety Act, which clarifies many things in the bill...but still requires minimum wage and maternity leave and things of that nature and I can't figure why anyone would be grumpy about stuff like that). 

Anyway, I was just happy to see the Happy Face Barn.

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Co off

Yescherday was the co off. It was loud eaven thou I made some new frends at the co off. It was at the church. It was a bit to loud for me. Mom siad she sind up for Ben and Zoë. When I was in my clas it was qwit, like really qwite. I loved it so much. The end.
Last week we met with our co-op for the first time. I was nervous about signing up for a co-op because...interacting with people is...not my favourite thing. But, as Alexander wrote in his (school) journal, I signed up because Benjamin and Zoë were hankering for some more peer interaction during the day.

At FHE, Andrew was reading the schedule and came across a little entry about "co off" on the calendar.

"Zoë, did you make this entry for 'co off'?'" 

"No!" she said indignantly. "I think I know how to spell co-op!"

She is a phenomenal speller (she never would have been tripped up by 'bananas' or 'vacation' like Miriam and Rachel were ('bannas' and 'vaction,' respectively) in a spelling bee). 

"Wait—co off?" I asked. "That would be Alexander."

"Oh, that's right! They're logged in on the same account!"

Because Apple only lets you have four child accounts in one family account, unfortunately. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

If I were a rich man...

This morning Alexander was unpacking the dishwasher when he came across the cheese grater. In the past, this was an item that he left for someone else to do since it's kind of sharp and is complicated to put away. Today, however, he told me how he's becoming a Big Boy and knows where everything in the house goes, so he'd be able to put the grater away himself (it goes in one of the upper cabinets). 

He went on to tell me how sometimes Phoebe likes to help him put away dishes, but he doesn't always love that because Phoebe doesn't always put things away in the right places. She'll put bowls with the plates and forks in the junk drawer. And that's frustrating because it ultimately makes more work for him. I commiserated with him (because—oh!—if it ain't a gospel truth that teaching children to work is often more work than simply doing the work by yourself) but explained that it's important that we left Phoebe help...even though she creates a little chaos in the process. 

To be fair to Phoebe, she is growing up to be a Big Girl and knows where practically everything in the house goes as well. Just the other day she wanted me to help her with a snagged fingernail and I told her it was one that I had better no rip off. We'd need the fingernail clippers for this one!

"Nail! Nail! Nail!" she repeated. 

"In a minute," I told her. "I can go get the nail clippers as soon as I'm finished here."

She put two and two together and headed for the stairs. 

"Get! Get! Get!" she sang as she climbed up.

She returned with the fingernail clippers and so I paused what I was doing (for transparency sake: playing a game of Shanghai Rummy...) and gave her a little manicure right then and there.

In an effort to keep her occupied away from our game for a moment longer, Andrew suggested that she go put the fingernail clippers back

"Oh, no, no, no!" I said. "These are the good nail clippers from our bathroom drawer. I want to put them back there myself. She might be trusted to retrieve the nail clippers from their spot, but I don't think we can trust her to put them back in their assigned location. Who knows where they'd end up?!"

Monday, September 04, 2023

Deklan and Holly's wedding (August 26)

The main reason for our visit to Canada was to attend Deklan and Holly's wedding (which has been on our calendar since their engagement on November 20, 2021). It was nice of them to give us plenty of notice so that we could sort our passports and plane tickets and things like that well in advance.

The wedding was beautiful and the day was gorgeous. Unfortunately, Phoebe's first attempt at napping was thwarted because she fell asleep literally two minutes before we arrived at the venue. She was a bit of a...typical tired toddler...during the ceremony, so Miriam took pictures with the camera (sitting beside Auntie Josie, who recorded the ceremony for the couple) and I dealt with Phoebe.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Waterton (August 27)

In retrospect, I should have been more forthright with Heather about our accommodations while we were in Canada. To be fair to myself, I was experiencing some insecurities regarding my likability* when I reached out to her to ask if I could stay with her while I was in Canada and, unfortunately, she and her parents and sister had reservations to camp at Waterton the very week I was due to be in Canada. 

She didn't know how desperate I was for accommodations and I was too insecure to say, "Hey! Take care of me for a minute!" So neither one of us thought to suggest that I just...housesit...for her! That would have solved all my problems!

When she drove me to the airport on Wednesday morning (spoilers!), she was like, "Nancy! I should have just given you guys the code to my house! You could have stayed there while I was away! It wouldn't have been a problem at all!"

In fact, Heather was so sweet that when I asked her if I (and my children) could spend the night at her place on Tuesday evening and have her drive me/us to the airport on Wednesday morning, so immediately said yes. 

Then apparently she turned to her mom and said, "I just said Nancy and her kids could spend the night at my place on Tuesday, but...where will I put them?"

Her mom reminded her that her camper would be sitting in her driveway so (spoilers!) I ended up sleeping in the camper with not one, not two, but five little girls! (Miriam slept inside with Sadie and Miley, so I had three of Heather's girls with me and two of my own, and Heather didn't lie—that bed in her camper is really comfortable!)

She didn't even hesitate. She just said, "Of course!" and then bothered about the details, like determining where we might sleep...and informing her husband, who has been working on advanced certifications for his pilot's license (he's already a pilot but is getting extra certifications) and who she hadn't seen for a week and who was due to arrive home on Tuesday evening that, well, he'd have a house full of company to greet him in addition to his wife and his girls. And do you know how Ryan responded to this news? 

By bringing home a little packages of airplane biscuits for the kids. 

When he walked in the door he presented them to his daughters, who immediately started squealing with glee while also calling out, "The cousins! The cousins! Did you bring some for the cousins?!"

"I brought enough for everyone," Ryan assured them, handing biscuits to my children as well.

He's definitely the calming presence in that house, perfectly complimenting Heather's natural rambunctiousness. But she is such a fun and loving and patient mother! It was fun to spend some time with her and I so appreciate how graciously they hosted us.

But, before I knew I'd be spending the night at Heather's house on Tuesday, we had arranged to meet her down in Waterton on Sunday. Waterton is a national park in southern Alberta that abuts Glacier National Park in Montana (together they comprise an international peace park). 

We went to Emerald Bay on Waterton Lake, to splash and kayak and sit and visit. 

When we were deciding where to go, Heather asked, "Are your kids allowed to swim-swim on Sundays?"

We don't have a problem with that in our household, though I know that Andrew's family did while growing up (though to be fair, when Grandma and Grandpa took our kids to Grover the year I was too pregnant with Alexander and Zoë was too sick and Andrew was too out-of-town to join them...they also let the kids swim on Sunday)! Karen texted me to say that they "did NOT let the kids swim in Lake Powell this afternoon." And later Shayla tagged me in this picture on Facebook:

An evening with Auntie Abra (August 23)

Our plane landed in Calgary around 4:00 in the afternoon. My mom had arrived at the airport at around 3:00 to pick us up, and then we were just about the last people off the plane, and then we had to stop to use the potties, so by the time we made it out to my mom she felt like she had been waiting forever!

But the nice thing was that she was waiting beside another lady, whose family members were on the same flight as us. They had been talking, and when the other party finally arrived, they said their goodbyes and my mom said something about how she hoped her daughter and children would be coming soon. 

"Oh, was it a mom traveling with three girls—a big one, a medium-sized one, and a little one?"

"Yes!" my mom said. 

"I was sitting behind them!" the woman said. "They were all so well-behaved!"

That was a nice thing to hear! 

We first went to get settled into our hotel, and then headed into downtown Calgary to meet up with Auntie Abra & Brady and Piper & Anton. Piper had offered to host a little dinner at her apartment's recreation room. She even let us swim in the pool, which was nice (though her pool was freezing cold, Piper had brought a bunch of pool noodles and squirt guns and balls and things which we appreciated getting to use)!

After we were finished swimming, we went to the rec room where Abra brought her kitten Padme. We had fun watching her hop all around the room:

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Another day with Uncle David (August 29)

David was able to drive down to Okotoks with Millie to meet up with us on our last day in Alberta. We just met at Big Rock Elementary School (because in Alberta it's normal to use the school playground equipment outside of school hours (unlike out here where they lock up the school playgrounds and put threatening signs up on the fences about trespassing)). School hadn't yet started for the kids when we were up there, so the school grounds were empty and available.

It was fun for the little girls to play together again. It sure was hard to catch a picture of them together, though! They're both such busy little climbers that it was hard to catch both their faces in the same frame—up, down, around and around! I'll post this picture of Millie and Phoebe together since there aren't any identifying characteristics in this picture, but this is how most pictures turned out, with one girl facing the camera and the other not:

A day with Uncle David (August 24)

Our first item of business on Thursday morning was a quick stop in Wal-Mart to buy the girls some new sweaters. My mom didn't feel the girls had enough warm clothing for this trip (that would be me...packing like a southerner) and Phoebe had thrown up all over the only sweater I'd packed for her. I washed it out in the hotel sink, was still so, so wet in the morning that it was completely useless for her.

So the girls all ended up with cute new Canada sweaters (Zoë lost her new sweater on the plane/airport and...we just won't talk about it because she's rather upset about it). We went to my brother David's house to play with Mille for a while (no pictures here because her parents don't put her up on social media, but a big reminder to myself to find the pictures on my computer before printing this out, if I ever get around to that some day). It was wonderful to see her—she's growing up to be a beautiful, good-natured child, so good at sharing and just fun to be around!

Then Uncle David took us to Costco for some poutine, which was so good that Zoë even ate it with the gravy (she usually doesn't when we make poutine at home...and honestly I'm not a huge fan of the gravy we usually make when we make poutine (it needs to be browner), but she ate this and was surprised by how much she liked it):

Friday, September 01, 2023

Holding down the fort

Andrew, Andrew, had one job to do while I was away. 

One. Job.

I asked him to hold down the fort. That's it! 

And just look at this mess!