Thursday, December 30, 2010

Long Nights

4:15 am on the first leg of our trip to California:

Sir had pulled over due to a nosebleed. While he was outside getting it under control and getting a bit of fresh air at the same time, Dolly stirred in the back seat.
"Is is morning time yet?" she asked.

"No, it's still the middle of the night. Go back to sleep." I hushed.

"But is it a little bit morning yet?" she pressed.

"No, Dolly. It's still very much the middle of the night. Go back to sleep and when you wake up we'll almost be at Grandpa and Grandma's house."

"I knowed nights were long, but I didn't know it was THIS long!" She said, and then settled down again to sleep.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Case Closed!

At a glance, I may not look very organized. Everything is usually in piles(to be put away when I get to it). But I KNOW where things are. If you wanted to know where to find the spray paint we used on the picnic table that we built for the kids two years ago, I could tell you without hesitation that those cans of paint are in a box in the birdroom about two feet from the west window and approximately waist high up in the pile of boxes that still haven't been put away. Or did you need the fishing net? It's on the top of the tall bookshelf in the master bathroom. A hand saw? Trouble light? bike pump? Try the old milk crates along the dining room wall right about in line with where Dolly sits at the table.

But occasionally I LOSE things. It usually happens when I have way too many things going on at the exact same time and I mis-file their locations in my mind before I get to putting them in a logical place that I can find by deduction later. For example, recently Butler had 3 or 4 soothers kicking around the place. He loses them everywhere and sometimes it's hard to keep track of whether you last saw the pacifier at home or at somebody else's house. If you have a spare and you're rushing at the moment - at least in my case the location information gets jumbled and by the time I get around to actually thinking about where the missing soothers might be, I can't remember where I last had them. All I have filed is: 'don't worry, it's in a familiar place'. Like that helps very much.

Anyway, we have three folding booster seats. Two of them are at the dining room table for the younger two kids and the third is supposed to say in the car so I have a booster seat when I need one away from home. 3½ weeks ago, we had 14 guests over for dinner after meeting. With our kids added to the mix, there were 11 kids running all over the place, so I asked Sir to grab the booster seat out of the car and we used it that evening. Over the next week, I finally got the booster wiped out, folded up (without it's tray) and finally put next to the front door to go out to the car when I got a chance. One day as we were rushing to go somewhere, I asked PC to carry the booster seat out to the driveway and put it by the van and I'd put it in after buckling Butler into his car seat. I remember PC carrying the seat out to the driveway, but that was all I did remember. I had no idea if he put it next to the car, if I put it in the car or if it actually didn't make it back to the house by accident.

Then I went grocery shopping across the border and in the rush to get back in time to get Emma's pictures taken before picking Dolly up from school, we missed the exit for the fast food drive through that Sir had suggested we do for lunch that day. Instead of turning around, we just got back across the border and stopped at a Subway next to the picture studio. I thought we had enough time to eat in the little restaurant before rushing on to the picture project so I grabbed the booster seat and as I reached for it I thought, "Hm, I never got the tray back with this thing. I should do that when we get home." Now, I must stop here, and point out, this thought was a vital clue to finding the booster seat. If I happen to remember a past thought, I can usually recall where I was when I thought it or what I was looking at or something about my surroundings at that time. So, we ate at the Subway, and we took too long to do that and ended up almost running next door to the picture place to see if they could fit us in for Emma's pictures or not. I ended up making an appointment for the next day. Except, the next day we got close to 6 inches of snow and I ended up cancelling the picture appointment.

Next, Sir found a load of free firewood on a craigslist ad a few days later,and after calling about it Saturday morning we arranged for babysitting, emptied everything out of the van and collected the wood. When I put the van back together later that afternoon, I noticed the booster seat was missing. Then I couldn't find it at home and I couldn't remember if I'd even put it in the car.

For the next two weeks I searched and researched everywhere I thought I might have put it. Back in the house. Where I'd unloaded the van so we could haul wood. The meeting room. The driveway. Even the hedge in our front yard (in case PC stuck it in the hedge instead of next to the van that day I sent him out with it). But it was no use. I couldn't find it, and I COULDN'T remember where I'd last had it. Until this afternoon on my way home when I remembered my thought at the Subway three weeks ago. What if I left it at the restaurant? But I vaguely remembered folding the seat up when we were about to leave. I planned to call them and forgot before I got to the phone three times this evening. Finally three minutes before they closed I remembered again, Sir found the number, and I called. They had no booster seat. I thought I'd tracked it down - I was almost sure it had to be there. I think I asked the poor girl on the other end of the phone four or five times, if she was sure, there was no booster seat that had been left or had been turned in in the last three weeks. Then I remembered that I had parked directly in front of the Subway's neighboring restaurant. I called them one minute before they closed hoping that perhaps I'd left it on the ground while I buckled Butler into his car seat and then in the rush to get to the picture studio that afternoon, abandoned it for someone to turn in to the nearest diner.

"About three weeks ago," I began when the phone was answered, "I used a folding booster seat at your neighboring restaurant. But since I was parked directly in front of your restaurant, I'm hoping perhaps someone turned it in to you because Subway doesn't have it and I'm thinking I might have left it on the ground next to my car." "Do you know what color it was?" the guy asked. Of course in my excitement that they might actually have the seat, I completely forgot the exact coloring and could only tell him it was a light blue, and that I thought it had white, but then I corrected myself by saying the tray that I still had for it was white. "Do you know what brand it is?" he continued. "Uh..." I wasn't about to take a chance blurting out the wrong brand name and I wasn't sure enough to tell him what my first guess was. And I wasn't bright enough to turn around and take a look at the two identical (but different colored) boosters in the dining room right behind me. "Uh.. I'm not sure off the top of my head, but it's a folding booster seat and most of it is light blue..." "Might it be Safety 1st?" he asked. By this time I was pretty sure he was looking right at my booster seat and I was so excited I was basically jumping up and down as I told him yes, it was a safety 1st. Then he told me he was looking at a blue and green folded booster seat. Finally it was found. I hung up after giving our name and number and telling him I'd be out to get it tomorrow.

Sir had heard my whole phone conversation and was nearly bursting with laughter at my excitement over a $30 booster seat, but I couldn't help it. It was found! I wasn't crazy after all (or completely crazy that is). And now that I know where it is, I should have it back just in time for our trip to California next week! I'm still excited, but I'm not squealing and jumping up and down anymore. Instead I should be in bed. At least I've calmed down enough to sleep now! Good night.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lost in Deep Cove

I don't like driving routes I'm unfamiliar with on very rainy days after dark. I've done it before, and the results are never good.

Yesterday Sir was going to bus/walk/walk/bus after work to get a set of tire chains he'd found posted on craigslist not too far from his work. But then I had the bright idea of saving him an hour of travel time before he even started on his way home. I called him up at work and asked him if he'd rather the kids and me come pick him up and then we go pick the chains up from there. He said that'd be nice especially since the person selling the chains wouldn't be there until 6:30 which means Sir would have been getting home between 8 and 8:30 if he caught everything just right.

So, after picking Dolly up from school, taking a load to the storage unit, making a quick stop at the grocery store, dropping the groceries off at home and having Dolly change out of her uniform, we were on our way right at 5. Rush Hour.

Sir called me at 6 to see how we were doing, and at that time we were getting close to our exit making us less than half an hour away. Until I took the wrong part of the exit in the dark with rain pouring faster than my wipers could keep up with. I knew right away I'd taken the wrong part of the exit, but in my attempts to turn around and undo my blunder, we ended up going exactly in the opposite direction that we should have been. I thought I'd just stop at some intersection and call Sir and have him talk me out of my mess. Except there were no intersections for oh.. probably 15 minutes. We finally ended up at the end of the road in Deep Cove.

I called Sir, and he sounded more amused than anything else (which was good for me - I'd rather he laugh at my stupidity than be frustrated at the delay it caused) Anyway, he told me to go back the way I'd come and eventually I'd recognize my surroundings. By the time I finally picked him up it was 7.

Then we got lost finding the chain seller's house, but we still made it there by 7:30 which was when Sir had told the guy we'd be there. After that, I had Sir drive home - even though I've driven home that way plenty of times and probably wouldn't have gotten lost again, but given my record for the evening... I wasn't taking any chances.

The cute part about the whole adventure was how the kids dealt with our dilemma. It went a bit like this:

Me: Ok guys, everybody be quiet! I need to pay attention to where I'm going.
Emma: Why? Are we lost, Mommy?
Me: Yes, we're very lost. Be quiet.
Dolly: Mommy, maybe you should call Daddy. Then he can tell us which way to go.
Me: I will, Dolly, but first I need to be able to tell him what roads were at. Be quiet.
PC: Mommy, I prayed for you. I asked God to help us get unlost.
Me: Thank you PC, but I need you to be quiet so I can drive.
Emma: Mommy!!! I need to go potty!
Me: Emma, you're going to have to wait, there's no bathroom around here. Don't drink any more water.

Silence for a few miles.

Emma: Mommy, are we lost?
Me: Yes, Emma, we're still very much lost.
Dolly: Mommy, do you think Daddy is hungry? Maybe you should have PC call him and tell him it's ok if he gets food at McDonald's.
Me: Daddy knows he can eat if he's hungry, Dolly. He'll be ok.

Silence for a few more miles.

Emma: Mommy, are we still lost?
Me: Yes, Emma! We are still lost.
PC: I love you Mommy, God will help us get unlost. I asked Him.
Me: I love you too, PC. Thank you for asking for help for me.
Dolly: Yeah, God will get us unlost.
Me: K, guys be quiet. PC, let me have my phone now.
Emma: Mommy! I need to go potty!
Me: Emma, we'll stop as soon as I can find a place with a bathroom!

We pulled over and I called Sir and then I turned around finally heading in the right direction.

Emma: Mommy? are we lost?
Me: Yes, we're still lost, but I think I know which way we're supposed to go now.
Dolly: Isn't that nice of God? He's helping us get unlost!
PC: Yeah, because I asked Him to.
Dolly: Yep, it's all God's fault that we'll be unlost! Isn't that nice of Him?!
Me: Yes, He's always taking care of us even when we're lost. Now everybody try to be quiet until we get to Daddy's work.
Emma: I need to go potty!
Me: K, we're almost there! Just wait a little bit longer.

And we got unlost, picked up Sir, found a bathroom, and survived the rest of the evening.

The End

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To tell or not to tell...

For the past few weeks I've been trying to decide if I wanted to announce early on, this time, or wait as long as possible like we've always done before. Announcing early on won out because it seems with each pregnancy, I'm more tired than the time before, and it's very hard to act 'normal' when you're exhausted all the time.

So, instead of being between 4 and 5 months we're only at 9wks right now. It'll seem longer for you than me actually, because with everything going on around here constantly, the time just flies by. At least it seemed to go a LOT faster during my pregnancy with Butler than the other three.

I'm almost certain the due date for this baby is June 20th, but because this pregnancy was a bounce-back right after a miscarriage, my doctor wanted to do a dating ultrasound anyway. We'll do that on Saturday, and I can barely wait because I'll get to see/hear a heartbeat then! At my last prenatal appt, my doctor and I got to chatting away so much that we both forgot to get to listening for a heartbeat. I didn't even remember until the next day! A doctor you really get along with is wonderful when you're pregnant and usually emotional.

We told the other kids just last night - we figured they'd be hearing from other people soon enough, so we might as well give them a heads up. But it's going to be a long wait for them. They were very excited once it actually sunk in. At first they just stared at us blankly like they'd been stunned which was not exactly the reaction I had expected from them. Then they wanted to know how we knew. Dolly concluded that I must have figured it out because I was tired. "You were really tired, so that's how you knew right?" She's just had a quick bout with a stomach flu, so she continued sympathetically, "Yeah, maybe you're gonna throw up all the time like when I was in your tummy."

Poor PC, he dearly loves babies, and he has a very caring and nurturing side to him, but he also is terrified of change. Last night he went from shocked/dazed, to ecstatic, to overwhelmed by all the change that will come as a result of this latest bit of information. By the time he went to bed, he was sobbing because of the littlest things like still having a lingering cough, or wanting a drink of water or not wanting to go to the bathroom before bed or needing to blow his nose. I ended up sitting with him for a while pointing out all the fun things we'd need to do to get ready for a new baby - like finding out if he was big enough to move into a booster seat so the car seats could be passed down the line of kids. Once he was on a brighter note, he told me all about the stories Uncle W told him when he had a sleepover back in August. After that, he was ok enough to settle down for the night. This morning, he woke up singing and beside himself with excitement about a new baby. I love his passion for life!

Emma's excited because everybody else is, but I don't think she really realizes the reality of it yet. She says she wants a girl baby, but I'm guessing she's just copying Dolly on that. It will be interesting to watch her when she discovers she's going to have to re-train everyone. And Butler doesn't have a clue.

Now the trick is figuring out how we're going to fit another car seat into the van. We found a very narrow booster seat online, but you have to buy them in sets of 8 and we're not sure they're up to the Canadian car seat standards which would make a big difference when it came to selling the extras. We have to do a bit more research on that, but there's still time.

Well, I should post this while I have a chance. It's already lunch time and I have yet to make lunch which we have to eat fast enough so we can leave on time to get Dolly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To tell or not to tell... (abridged)

I was going to write a long, elaborate post with all kinds of detail tonight, but pregnancy tends to make me tired. I think I'll just go to bed now and try again later.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Once there was a 4 year old boy...

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
Ecclesiastes 9:10

He's almost 4½ now. But back when he was newly 4, I took him in to get his pictures done. This year, we brought our own props - some of his cars. I'm glad we did because I think we really captured PC as himself because of them. Below are the additional poses - one was the usual free extra and the other the result of a good salesperson who, sensing my indecisiveness when it came to choosing the free extra, managed to talk me into buying a single sheet of a third pose.

I love this picture - he looks like such a little boy. Bare feet, hands in pockets and a summer tan. PC is really starting to look like he's growing up - I guess if I'm honest with myself, he is growing up. It's just a hard thing to get used to sometimes.

This is the picture they managed to talk me into buying for twice the cost of the rest of the package. I keep flipping back and forth from loving it because it's such a great picture of PC's smile and character, to kicking myself for being so manipulated when the overall pose isn't one I really like. I don't like the over-the-shoulder attempt - it doesn't look very natural or relaxed, but his smile is real in spite of the obvious positional posing.

PC is a 'reactor'. He doesn't talk your ear off normally, but is content to give three word (or less) answers. He is happy to let his sisters make most of the suggestions when they're playing and cheerfully helps them accomplish said suggestions. He doesn't like change at all, and it takes him quite a while to get used to something new. Then it takes him a while to admit that he's not so bothered by it after all. He's compassionate, thoughtful and when he allows himself to show emotion, very passionate about the things he likes and dislikes. If I had to describe him in one word - it would be, 'eager'. He does things whole-heartedly, and it's wonderful to see.

He loves his tools, toy cars and his bike (which is recently training wheel-free and now has a flat tire).

Well, I decided to post PC's pictures tonight because it wasn't going to take me very long and it was bedtime when I got started. Now I've rambled my way through even more time and it won't be long before this won't be making any sense at all. So, before anything confusing appears... I think I'll wrap it up. Good night!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When it's that popular... write it down!

There are pumpkins everywhere recently. This year we ended up with 7 and three of them went bad before I could do anything with them. When I took a look in the freezer, I discovered that most of what we put away last fall was still there. So, the plan was to figure out a way to start using some of it before quadrupling the stash. Half-heartedly I decided to make soup out of it thinking to myself, "This is not what I would call appetizing."

With hungry kids whining underfoot and bouncing off of each other in my little kitchen, I proceeded to prepare supper. Finally it was ready and I fully expected to battle most of my children through the meal. But they took me by complete surprise and practically inhaled the stuff. Dolly had 5ths! Butler had two full ladles of soup, PC, full at 2nds, managed to stuff two more servings into himself before reluctantly calling it quits and even Emma, who hasn't been eating much lately, gobbled up 3 servings before slowing down.

So, when I find something they like, I've learned, it must be recorded someplace for future replicating. I think we'll be making this again, but probably not "Every day" as PC suggested.

Pumpkin Soup
Serves 6-8
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup cream
Combine all ingredients except the cream, in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree soup, one cup at a time and return to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for another 15-20 minutes. Stir in cream, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Garnish with fresh parsley

"Dear Me" and a School Picture

Dolly in Kindergarten

I can't say that Dolly is learning very much at school and just because she goes away every day doesn't mean we've stopped learning here. Most days after school, she reads to me and it's obvious that the practice is making the task easier. So much so, that I've been finding little play notes about the house. This one is one of my favorites:
In case you missed anything, here's a typed version:

"Dear Hannah (A letter from Ellyette)
Would you want my tea set?
Please may you send the letter back and say 'yes' or 'no'.

Ellyette is a girl in Dolly's class with a matching backpack. I think that has a lot to do with Dolly's admiration of her, but this note was entirely produced by Dolly.
Ellyette did NOT write this letter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Dust is Settling

It's been a long time since I posted here. A lot has been going on around our house. Some of it good, some not so good, some exciting, some busy, some satisfying and some sad. But I'm ready to write again.

Now just where to start?! Three weeks ago, Emma turned 3 and I have yet to get her pictures even scheduled to be taken. We finally got couches after using lawn chairs in our living room for the past 10 months. One of the birds died leaving a lone survivor out of the original 5 I brought to Canada. We're all getting used to Dolly's school schedule - it's starting to look like the people are more in control now instead of the schedule. PC, Emma and I have discovered the value days at the indoor pool - at the rate PC is taking to the water he'll be swimming by himself by the end of the year. Autumn is here in all it's color and crispness. The last of the unpacking is coming along enough that it's starting to feel like home here and I now know where more thing are than not for a change. The cat had kittens. We went to the zoo and I didn't take a single picture - even though we bought extra camera batteries specifically for that trip (at the zoo store - aka outrageously priced). Sir fixed the driver's window on the van. We discovered that our crib that's been in constant use for the last 5½ years had been recalled - so Butler has been sleeping in the pack 'n play for the last two weeks. PC has graduated out of training wheels on his bike and Emma got a bike with training wheels for her birthday, so when Dolly's in school, the rest of us have cruised the local parks a number of times.

But, while we've definitely been busy, I'm finding myself feeling more in control of the chaos now than subject to it - which was more the case not so long ago. And getting one's footing is always a good feeling - even if it is in spite of exhaustion.

And now, I'll go start the stove fire to take the afternoon chill away while I get dinner going.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Today, I Didn't Cry.

Dear Dolly,

'They' say, when your firstborn goes away to school, that you cry. Today was your first day at school all by yourself. We met your teacher yesterday and everything changed in our lives.

To be honest, I've been dreading this day all year long. Every day that's gone by, I've thought about it. I've thought about the times we've done 'schoolwork' together, the times you've read to me, the letters you've spent hours on for writing practice. I've thought about this being the last summer before you'd have to go away to school. No more slow mornings and late breakfasts. No more spur of the moment, last minute plans for the day, no more late nights because we could recover the next day. And the days kept marching by.

This morning Emma got up early enough to eat breakfast with you. The boys barely made it out of bed and into the car by the time we had to go. She even chose to have the same kind of cereal that you had. It made me smile a little.

When we got to school, you didn't see the point in us waiting for you to go inside. You would have been the first in line if I hadn't made you hold still for a picture. I didn't want to take pictures, but I knew we'd want to see what your first day of school looked like someday. Emma wanted to stand in line with you, and she hardly left your elbow before your teacher came out and started giving directions.

That's when PC and Emma gave you a hug and you lined up with your classmates for the first time. Next week you'll meet the second half of your class, but out of the students we saw today, you were the only blond. My girl of gold. I must give your teacher credit, she did well organizing her students - even the ones who needed more organizing than the rest. It wasn't too long before you all made it up the stairs and the four of us were left standing outside. We'd be back soon, because this week, your school days are mere hours - just over an hour each day to be exact. Next week will see longer classroom time. Next week.

When we picked you up, you had your first paper to take home. You'd glued a cutout of your hand to it and there was a poem printed on the back side of paper. Poetry is bad for me. It has music - it has feeling. They're not just ordinary words because they've been carefully chosen so that they run smoothly together. That little poem with your hand print on the back almost had me today. My eyes welled up as I read it to you when you showed me your work, but I blinked them back to normal.

When I was a little girl my dream was to grow up, get married and be a mom. As I got older, that dream never changed, but I discovered I loved to teach and I dreamt of being a teacher too. Then I grew up, got married, and became a mom and I dreamt of being your teacher. So, today when I watched you climb up the steps I had to realize the fact that some dreams don't mix no matter how much you want them to.

I love you Dolly, and I'll be smiling for you as you go on to learn at school. I have the times we had before today to remember learning with you. They make me smile.

So today, I didn't cry.

Love Always,

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Unwelcome Visitor

We have a skunk that lives in our neighbor hood. Occasionally he stops in at our place and hangs out under the deck. But because we have a guard dog, whenever Mr. Skunk visits he has quite the spray-day smelling up the place. Once he's under the deck, the dog can't get him and he can then go to some hidden passageway (I haven't been under the deck to find the secret entrance yet) that leads beneath the house itself. The problem with Mr. Skunk hanging out underneath the house is, it give the inside occupants (aka us) a up close smell of his latest perfume. Somehow the floor vent system just channels outside (under the house) smells right inside and since there aren't any fresh breezes inside, it takes a few days for the house to smell normal again. Last night he was back, and the smell was horrendous. I think it might have to do with why three of my children are so fussy they've been having meltdowns since 10am. I don't think anybody slept well last night.

Anyway, I have too many things to be doing right now, so I should probably get back to work. School starts for Dolly in a week which means I have to finish altering her uniforms, the Sunday School Picnic is this Saturday and there's still prep work for that to do, and there's still a few thing left to put back or put away from our barbecue last weekend.

Hm, maybe lunch and naps will cheer things up around here. In any case, I'm needed elsewhere!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Steps

Today was like my birthday. Not only did Lily watch my kids all day long, but Chasm's Lady sent supper over and Aunt Casey spent all day helping me unpack stuff that's just been getting shoved from one room to another! We worked on the stuff I've been procrastinating on unpacking because I didn't have enough time to focus on finding spots for it and putting it away!! I found so many thing I've been looking for too. Dry erase markers, the yard waste calendar, yard waste bags, the 'play' sprinkler, my small bottle of vanilla extract and the grocery list pad that has a magnet for sticking it to the fridge just to name a few! We got picture frames hung, kitchen cupboards more organized, a box of stuff collected for goodwill and even the curio cabinet curios finally in the cabinet. And we sorted out the stuff that needs to go to the storage unit from the stuff that can be put away here so I can make a trip out to the storage unit tomorrow. It's progress, and it feels so good! The Bird Room looks like it lost a ton of weight, the living room is down to just a few boxes, my room is almost box free and there's only a handful of boxes left here in the middle room. Getting so much done was wonderful, but all the help was even dearer. I'm often reminded of what a loving God cares for me by the people He's put around me who are so selfless. It's nearly overwhelming at times.

Butler took his first steps today! I caught him playing in the toilet and I think he was trying to get out of trouble and wasn't thinking as he dashed towards me taking at least 6 little steps before crashing into my arms. By the time he went to bed even he knew what he was doing and would take a step, catch his balance again and then take another before trying to dash/lean and toddle into my arms. I totally forgot to address the 'playing in the toilet' issue in all the excitement of coaxing him to walk. I'm sure the matter will arise again. This wasn't his first visit to the toilet bowl as I've often found toys floating in the water once the culprit has moved on.

And PC is on his first Sleepover. Aunt Casey took him home with her - it's been planned for a few weeks now and PC has been looking forward to this weekend so intently, it's been a blast to watch. This morning he woke up and told me, "Mommy! I get to go to Aunt Casey's house today!" "I know!" I enthused then he continued, "But I need to wear long pants because Uncle W and I are gonna make fire and I need to be safe." He called me before going to bed tonight to tell me that after dinner they went and "saw a lot ah lot of airplanes!" landing. My little shadow is growing more and more independent all the time. Sometimes bittersweet for me, but really it's a good thing for him. I just need to get all the hugs I can while he still offers them!

Anyway, it's getting late, and I'm tired. Last night all four kids were up between 4 and 5am because I accidentally missed the charger when I put our cordless baby monitor down on my nightstand. Consequently, I didn't hear Butler wake up the second time because he was still hungry, and I didn't hear him wake PC and Emma up and I didn't hear Emma wake Dolly up until they were all wound up and I finally tuned in to the commotion from the other side of the house. When I rushed to the rescue, I found PC shining his flashlight for Butler "to make him be happy" and while I started settling the boys down I could hear Dolly telling Emma that she (Emma) was just pretending to be scared which only upset Emma all the more. So, I left the boys which didn't make Butler happy and took care of the girls before going back and addressing the boys. By the time they were all quiet, I was finally awake and it was starting to get light out so going back to sleep was a little tricky at first. At least they all went to bed without any fuss tonight!

And now, I'll follow suit!

Friday, August 13, 2010

After two months...

I finally found my knife block! I found the casserole lid I was looking for too. And the back of my CD player remote.

Now just to find the WD4D, the dry erase markers, the calendar that tracks what day the garbage pick up is and the 3gal gas can.

One ceiling fan is up, the discovery that the electrical here is... is 'unsafe' too strong a word?, and a house routine is slowly taking form!

Now - off for groceries.

We're making progress.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The List

Next to me the laundry waits to be folded.
The birds need to be fed.
Lunch dishes are still on the table and it's time to start making dinner.
My bed needs sheets put on before bedtime (define bedtime).
There are boxes in the living room, boxes in my bedroom, boxes in the boys' room, boxes in the sewing room and boxes in the middle room (the room outside the kitchen that really has no name) that still must be unpacked.
My Sunday school lesson awaits preparation.
As does my PR card paperwork.
I still have to put the camping stuff up in our loft.
There's ironing - there's always ironing.
If I empty the dishwasher, then it can be refilled and control might be regained in the kitchen.
I'd rather be working on the last two camping posts - they're only half done so far.
Butler wants to nurse - now.
If I don't start making dinner now... we'll be eating late - again.

I hate do not like prioritizing.

There's always a bright side to look on though.

Sir sold his extra laptop today (he's been trying to get rid of it for two weeks now).
He refilled the ink in the printer.
Designed maps to our house for our annual EOS bbq.
And he started looking into installing the ceiling fans.
I dropped off two boxes of stuff at second hand - it's been cluttering the living room (and driving me crazy) for weeks.
I returned the lawnmower that we borrowed from Sir's parents.
I took my dad's amplifier/radio and the outgrown baby gear to the storage unit.
Priced garden hoses at two stores.
Washed two loads of laundry.
Folded the huge bin of mis-matched socks.
Swept the whole house.
I guess that's all - it felt like more though.

The girls are not sleeping.
Butler insists on his sustenance.
I must go. Does unpacking always take this long?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

All in a Day's Drive...

Monday was BC Day and Sir didn't have to go to work, so we took the opportunity to visit Grandpa & Grandma in the Okanagan Valley. So, Sunday night I packed the cooler and loaded it into the van and after a short night's sleep (Butler and Emma woke up multiple times), we woke the kids up, dressed them and hit the road just after 7:30 the holiday morning.

Biscuit wrapped smokies - fresh out of the oven

The kids helped me make "pig-in-a-blanket"s especially for our trip. We did that on Saturday before heading to the fireworks. So, naturally that's what we had for breakfast on Monday - along with individually wrapped cheese sticks, Clementine oranges and boxes of juice - once we filled the car with gas and were finally out of town.

We made good time and got to Kelowna right about noon. The kids did pretty good on the drive over too. We had to make a bathroom stop and I tried to feed Butler while Sir took care of the other kids, but Butler was more interested in the scenery than anything else. Other than that PC asked if we were 'there yet' about 6 dozen times and we had to make a surprise stop for an unbuckled Emma - she can unbuckle herself and does so when she thinks we might not notice.

Grandma 'n Butler.

Looking for ducks with Grandpa.

Mama Duck & her baby.

Once we got to Grandpa and Grandma's house, the kids immediately set out with Grandpa to go find some ducks while Butler hung out with Grandma. The older kids were successful and I was summoned to 'come see' by an excited Emma. After the duck finding expedition, we had lunch which was a myriad of cold cut meats (Sir and PC couldn't have been happier), watermelon, potato and coleslaw salads an assortment of breads and a vegetable plate that included sliced tomatoes to Dolly's delight. It was good and even Butler got his fair share - he was thrilled.

On top of the world - er tree.

After lunch, Sir and I visited with Grandpa and Grandma while the kids entertained themselves mostly within sight in the backyard. They found the tree very interesting and when we noticed that they weren't in sight anymore, someone pointed out that the tree appeared to be moving. 'Turned out that it was too - after about 3 minutes of watching, we were surprised to see Dolly's head pop up at the TOP of the tree! We knew she was in the tree, but I did not expect to see her come out at the very top.

A new hobby.

Monkey see... monkey do.

Emma couldn't figure out how to get into the tree, but PC did and he soon joined Dolly in climbing in and out of the tree. They would have stayed there all day, but we finally decided that the poor tree could use a break from all the abuse and called the kids down for a while. After that, they stayed busy trying to see what else was scale-able while still being in sight.

Stealing Grandpa's chair.

Sharing a foot rest with Grandpa.

With all the tree climbing and attempts to climb other trees, the kids got quite hot and sweaty. Grandpa remedied this with ice cream cones. During the cool-down break I got to see a new level of prankishness in my oldest two munchkins. Dolly found quite the thrill in stealing Grandpa's chair - all three of the older kids had ganged up on Sir to steal his chair earlier, and once the chairs were all settled, PC impishly collapsed Dolly's folding chair just seconds after she hopped out of it to go talk to Emma. Dolly never noticed, but the rest of us got quite a laugh watching PC's expression at being such a rascal.

Eating ice cream with a view.

Little Emma - while the bigger kids were done with their ice cream and back at the tree climbing, she set up a table and stool overlooking the neighbor's flower bed so she could enjoy her cone and God's handiwork at the same time. After a few minutes, she set up a second table and stool should anyone wish to join her. It was special to watch her find a way to be content even when she couldn't keep up with the older kids.

Honey bee.

The kids started unraveling shortly after the ice cream was finished up. We let them climb the tree again before it was time to go, but by the time I had finished nursing Butler to sleep, PC was definitely showing his need for a nap. By the time all the diapers were changed, bathroom visited, kids buckled in and good byes said, it was already 4pm. We filled up with gas, settled the kids so they could go to sleep, and headed for home.

An old cemetery on Hwy 8.

It was just before 6 as we approached Merritt and read the sign saying the Coquihala Hwy was closed. We stopped at the Merritt visitor's center to find out why the route we wanted to take was closed and to find a map. There had been an accident 25km ahead and traffic had been stopped in both directions for nearly an hour. We had two choices: 1. Hang out in Merritt until the highway was re-opened. and 2. Take the scenic route to the old Hwy 1. Since we couldn't find anything else out about when the Coquihala would reopen, we chose to take the scenic route - AKA: The Long Way Home.

The kids woke up from their naps just as we set out on our alternate route. They'd slept for a little over an hour so they were recharged and happy until they started getting hungry around 7pm. By 7:30 the sounds changed from singing/playing/chattering to whining/fussing/screaming baby. We'd originally planed to stop for dinner in Hope and had we taken the Coquihala, we should have been having supper around 8pm. But now we found ourselves pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There wasn't even any good places to stop for the kids to run around somewhere safe. Everything was either right on the highway or right on the river the highway was following. Both not exactly where you want to have your small children running around at dusk.

Split rail fence.

Heading to Hwy 1.

We set our goal for Spenser's Bridge - a little town where Hwy 8 was to meet up with Hwy1, only to discover it was pretty much a ghost town. Just a few houses and a confused dog wondering why there was so much more traffic than usual. By this time the crescendo had reached, what we hoped, was it's high, and we kept on looking for anywhere to stop somewhere along Hwy 1.

Train tunnels along the Fraser River.

Following the Fraser.

If we thought the little river on Hwy 8 wasn't safe, the raging Fraser River along Hwy 1 totally changed our minds. Finally around 8pm, we came to a little town called Lytten. We stopped at the hotel/cafe/restaurant to rush PC to the bathroom and to rescue Butler from his car seat and the rest of us from his wailing. Once the bathroom break was over, the kids and I waited in the car while Sir ordered some take-out burgers from the cafe. Then we went to the school playground overlooking the police station to eat and rest on the grass as it got dark. The kids watched a handful of trains go by and then burned off some energy by running from one end of the soccer field to the other until they couldn't run anymore. At 9pm we washed them up, put them in pajamas and loaded them into the van tired, full and preciously quiet. They were all asleep within half an hour and we were still hours from home.

By 10:30 I was so tired I couldn't stay awake any longer, and poor Sir drove alone for hours. He woke me up to talk to him around Midnight and I think I slept-talked until we got home at 1. We unloaded the kids and everyone was asleep by 1:30. Of course, the kids tell me that they want to go back to Grandpa and Grandma's house because their tree is easier to climb than the three in our back yard, but I think we'll wait a while for now.

Our Snowbirds.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

BC Pop Quiz

What do the words "Alexandra", "Yale", "Sailor" and "Saddle" have in common? The answer will shed some light on our trip to Kelowna and back yesterday, and help explain why we arrived home at 1am.
Sir says he thinks his parents and maybe Bashful might know what the words mean, but doesn't really expect anybody else to know without looking it up.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Dolly turned 5.

"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple."
Psalm 27:4

Six months ago - and a day- my little girl turned 5. Now in just a few short weeks, she'll be going away to school every day. Some things are bitter sweet.

I was just unpacking a box the other day which turned out to be more of my desk stuff. And there, amidst all the rest of the paperwork, were a whole collection of pictures that I hadn't even scanned to post yet. So, since yesterday we saw the fireworks and tomorrow we're going to visit our Nomads and I won't be around to work on the camping posts, I thought I'd pick a picture to scan and post. Dolly's happens to be the earliest picture in my collection of dust acquiring photos.

You can see I needed to trim her bangs - I actually got around to that the very next week. Just not in time for her picture. It's hard to remember what stages she was at half a year ago, but I can summarize her a bit now. She can read if she makes the effort. She'll insist that she can't read if there's any chance you might read the said matter to her. Dolly loves to mother Butler, and she is a huge help to me around the house. The rule is she's not supposed to carry him around, so she spends hours entertaining him wherever he happens to be. And that can be a pretty tough job sometimes.

She loves any kind of water and will get wet no matter how cold it might be. Beach, lake, pool, puddle - it doesn't matter to her. I'll breathe easier when I know she can swim though. I'm sure there's more, but I need to get our stuff together for the drive tomorrow. Preferably with some time left to sleep tonight too! Below is the extra pose we got with her package photo above.

Our little lady.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Creatures of Deer Lake

'You see what I see?!

The first day we were at the campground, all three of our older kids joined Microchip for a boat ride on the lake. They came back with the most exciting tale of seeing a real live beaver in the water. Evidently Emma was quite terrorized by it. She kept telling me about a 'dog in the water that was black and it was wet' and that she was 'scary'. Throughout the week we saw quite the collection of wildlife at the lake from tadpoles to a flock of Canada geese.

Mr. Skunk.

This guy passed through our camp Monday night as soon as the lantern was turned down. It was like he was just waiting for 'lights out' so he could make his rounds. He later went through Microchip and Lily's stuff that same night. I think he stopped by just about every night although it wasn't until Thursday that Sir got a picture of him.

Serious discoveries.

PC and Emma were so excited to find this guy Tuesday morning. When I asked them to point him out for the camera, PC looked like I was asking him to do a very dangerous feat. Emma, on the other hand was quite matter-of-fact about it, and very seriously obliged. So I took at close up shot for the record.

"Look, Mommy! Look!!!" - they found a slug.

Madame Butterfly

Just before lunch on Tuesday, we all headed out to 'the point' for some swim fun. There were butterflies all over the place and I finally got a picture of one when it landed on Sari whom Dolly had left guarding her shoes.


Wednesday morning PC found a caterpillar in our campsite. He wanted to take it home and for a short time the poor insect was continuously relocated about camp. Finally Sir and I told PC to let the bug go. He did, but about three minutes later I looked up to see PC and Emma fighting over something and discovered upon closer inspection that the caterpillar had ended up a casualty of war.

Stopping by for breakfast.

A raccoon stopped by our camp Thursday morning for some bread crust. This was probably the same guy Sir saw Monday night in our camp just minutes after Mr. Skunk passed through.

Pointing him out for the camera.

Once the kids discovered the raccoon he kept a larger distance between himself and us. He'd grab a piece of bread crust and then scamper up a nearby tree to eat it in safety. Then when it looked like the kids had given him a bit of space, he'd come back down for another piece.

A Steller's jay

This fellow showed up to clean up the leftover popcorn that the kids had tossed for the Raccoon. He never held still though, so every picture I got of him was pretty blurry.

A minnow, some tadpoles and a few water bugs.

Friday, a bunch of the kids spent a good deal of time collecting lake life. They also found a little stream where they collected quite a few junior toads. Microchip took them 'frog hunting' in the boat at least three times during the week. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures when the kids brought the 'frogs' back to show us - they were pretty cute.

Canada Geese.

There was quite the bunch of them that lived on the lake. They were very used to people and put up with a lot of kids trying to herd/catch/chase and feed them.

ShyGuy and the geese.

This kid has got to be one of the world's most photogenic. I love this picture.

Butler on the hunt.

"'Gonna get me a goose for dinner... it's gonna take all day." He really though the could get one too - they kept him busy for quite some time!

I found it interesting that we never saw a single squirrel or chipmunk while we were camping. PC wanted to know when the deer would come. We were camping at Deer Lake, so you'd expect to see deer right? He asked about them every single day. We never did see any though.

Dolly and a fish.

And we saw lots of fish - once they were caught of course. Sir and Microchip spent many hours helping the kids to fish.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cooking at Deer Lake

Butler discovering lid lifters and dutch ovens make noise.

On Monday, when the ranger checked in, the first night we were at our campsite, he told us that a fire ban was coming. I don't know about you, but to me camping without a fire is just NOT camping. I think I got this opinion because we don't have a camp stove and no fire means no real food and dry goods just don't make up for a fire-cooked meal. There was a fire ban, but it didn't happen until Friday and thankfully, Microchip and Lily had two camp stoves and let us borrow one of them Thursday night for the remainder of the trip. To my delight, I was able to cook over the fire for most of the time were were camping. Before we left Sir got me a set of stack-able mixing bowls that have lids!! and a second set of metal camping dishes bringing our place setting to 8 and giving me an extra kettle to help keep hot water available. Of course I brought my dutch oven, a couple frying pans and my big stew pot, so my kitchen was nicely equipped.

PC overseeing the bacon process.

Breakfast Tuesday, was hot chocolate, bacon, blueberries and cold cereal. We bought special 'sugar cereal' to take camping. The funny thing though, was when the kid sat down to breakfast, they wanted Corn Flakes, Cheerios and Rice Krispies - the stuff they're used to at home. Sometimes you can never win...

Microchip and Lily's campsite.

We pooled lunch ingredients and for the most part, ate all our lunches over at Microchip and Lily's campsite. We were just across the road from their camp, but they had a bit more room since we had two tents taking up our campsite.

Marinated beef strips, peppers n' onions and tin foil wrapped rice.

That night I cooked fajitas for dinner and attempted a blueberry crisp. It was the first time I'd actually baked in the dutch in over 7 years, so I made a couple really dumb mistakes was a bit rusty on my baking skills. The second crisp turned out much better than the first one which ended up a bit crispier than it should have been - I never took a picture of either of them.

Wednesday's breakfast - Sausages 'n eggs.

Bread baking, butter melting and spaghetti sauce heating. My blue kettle was officially black by day 2.

We had hot chocolate again, little smokies and scrambled eggs for breakfast on Wednesday. That night I baked bread to go with my spaghetti meal. I didn't get any pictures of the meal served - just the covered pots while it was cooking. I guess I must have been busy? I burnt my arm on the fire pit while digging for coals to bake with. It wasn't too bad and we had ice on hand to help cool the burn. I put a burn cream on and bandaged it up, but it wasn't until we joined Lily's camp with supper and she gave me a special burn bandage that my arm stopped hurting. I think I'll need to stock up on some of those bandages - they were amazing!

Leftover sausages, sausage gravy and buttermilk biscuits baking on the side.

Dolly and me at the breakfast table.

Thursday I baked biscuits and made sausage gravy to go with them for breakfast. Of course there was hot chocolate and fruit and cold cereal to choose from like every other morning and we finished up the leftover smokies from the day before. Thursday was also the day Bashful and everybody else joined the camping trip. The number of kids doubled and even with the extra adults were were outnumbered by kids 2 to 1. It was also the last day we could have campfires. I couldn't get enough coals before dinner to make up the brownies I had planned to bake for desert that night, so we suffered terribly with roasted marshmallows and s'mores and cookies and fruit and... well, we suffered as you can tell.

Chiquita and Fairy.

Thursday night I booted PC from the little tent so Dolly could have these little ladies join her for a camping sleepover. They stayed for hot chocolate Friday morning, but rejoined their own families before I got around to cooking our bacon and making egg-in-the-baskets on the camp stove we borrowed. It's one of Dolly's favorite breakfasts (she inherited that taste from her Grandpa in California) and they're a bit tricky to cook over an open fire so the camp stove was a perfect solution.

The final plate of fish.

Whenever the fishermen/women brought in any fish, Sir boned them and gave them to me to cook up as a side dish to whichever meal we were currently eating. I think by the end of the camping trip I'd finally figured out the seasoning/dusting mix for the fish. This was the batch we had Friday evening with Lily's pulled pork sandwiches and all the fixings. I think that was probably my favorite meal of the camping trip. I got sidetracked with keeping my kids and their food together and forgot to get seconds for myself - not that I needed seconds, but those sandwiches were good!