Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reflections on the Year

I realized that a lot of my posts are about frustrating times with the boys, and that's not quite accurate. Those are often the funniest stories to tell, and the ones that a lot of other people can relate to (or say Thank God that happened to her, not me!) so they're the blog-worthy stories. However, there are also so many great days with Ethan and Jack, and they're really very good kids, so I need to be fair and share my favourite reflections of 2007.

1. Jumping in the air and yelling "YESSSSS" when the Canucks score, then turning to Mike and saying "Did you see? He SMOKED that one, Daddy!"

2. He's never shy about telling me he loves me, and he has never shied away from a kiss or a hug, even in public. Yet.

3. His teacher loves him, and he loves her. He tries SO hard to please her, that even if he's practicing printing at home, he wonders aloud if Madame would think that was his BEST work. If he thinks not, he erases it and starts over.

4. He is the nicest boy to other kids, and he seems to sense when other kids are special needs. He then instinctively makes an extra effort to put those kids at ease. I've watched this happen in his classroom, and I've had two separate teachers at his school this week comment to me on his compassion and maturity.

5. His big blue eyes never fail to melt my heart.

1. Potty trained. Even at night. Need I say more?

2. When he's sleeping, he is the most angelic child you have ever seen. The mischief is relaxed off his face, and he's left looking so adorable you could just eat him up.

3. He still smells baby sweet even though my "baby" will be 4 in just a few short months.

4. When I had broken down crying after trying to give Ethan his medicine, Jack brought me a tissue and gave me a huge hug, saying "Don't cwy Mummy, I wuv you."

5. Whenever he feels the urge to "swear" he runs to the bathroom and yells "pee poo fart", because we've told him those words are bathroom talk or potty talk.

They're adorable and I love them dearly. I am so excited to see how they will react to Christmas this year, and I wish you all the very best at this special time of year. Have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Recovery and Going Crazy

I have just poured myself another Bailey’s on ice. One of my sons just fire-hosed the other. I heard a suspicious noise at 9 pm, long after their bedtime, and I went up to investigate. The door to Ethan’s room was closed – uh oh. I opened the door to complete chaos. They had pulled out the trundle bed so E’s room was basically all bed, and the room was soaked. I saw the spray in an arc from one end of the trundle to the other, up onto the bedside table, and across E’s bed and on his pyjama legs. I didn’t even know where to begin, looking at those guilt-ridden faces, but the lies started pouring forth from their lips. Jack’s story was that he TRIED to get to the bathroom but he just couldn’t make it. This story was extremely unlikely – I have watched too many CSI shows and the pattern of the splatter did not indicate movement towards the door in the slightest. Ethan was trying to talk over Jack and eventually I understood that Jack, when he realized he had to go, pulled his you-know out of his pants and chased Ethan with it, trying to GET him with PEE. Jack got exiled to the bathroom onto the cold tile floor while I stripped the beds and disinfected the room. Two books got tossed and one toy and the water cup got chucked into the dishwasher. Two sets of sheets, one pillow and one comforter and two pairs of pyjamas went into the wash. Lectured one boy for being up in the first place and not opening the door and yelling for me, and lectured the other for quite some time about the proper places to pee (i.e. NOT on your brother). While I was lecturing Jack, we heard Mike in the bathroom so I said “See? Where do you think Daddy is peeing right now?” Jack says, “I don’t know, on Ethan maybe?” with the biggest grin this side of the candy counter. I don’t know if you all remember how often I’ve said it, but I’ll say it again: This one’s trouble.

He’s already been in trouble this week anyway. His excuse for whatever mischief is “But I didn’t WANT to, my body made me do it!” I understand that he needs a little attention as we’ve been pretty focussed on Ethan’s recovery, but he has been more than a rascal. Even during special time today while Ethan was at school, I had to yell at him for knocking over the folded laundry piles for the fifth time, among other things. I’ve got a million things to do before Christmas but I was spending much-needed time with him, and darnit if he didn’t just spent his whole special time getting into trouble.

And as for Ethan, I would venture to say he’s physically back to 100%. He went back to swim lessons today for the first time, and he’s been back at school for almost a week. The first weekend was rough as we still had to give medicine, but big thanks go out to Susan – she babysat that Saturday night. I was pretty nervous about his bedtime meds but... she opened up the treat box and handed him the medicine spoon and said pick whatever you want. He tossed the antibiotics back like a shot of tequila and ripped open a pack of gummies. I’m so glad he had his appetite back, and the bribery worked! We kept up with the treat diet until the antibiotics were all done. He’s back to regular food and was counting the days until he could run around again. His voice still sounds funny and Kermitty, but we’re only at 2 weeks post-op so that could still improve.

Mentally – sigh. Clingy doesn’t even BEGIN to cover his behaviour. I love that he loves me and all, but he says it at least 100 times a day. E’s very whiny and he needs hugs ALL the time. Mike was in LA for a week (just got back yesterday) so I was desperate for a little relief. Even if I needed to go to the bathroom, he would sit outside and whimper until I was done. And speaking of which, he christened the bear Briana sent “Whimper”. No kidding. I am really trying very hard to give him what he needs – I realize he was absolutely traumatized by this surgery – but it is hard. And I can’t sleep. It’s too quiet! No snoring is an alarm to me, so I lie in bed every night staring at the ceiling, wondering if I should be running down the hall. Altogether, I am so glad he doesn’t have the apnea any more, but this has been a challenge. We really are very lucky that we have our health and this is all we have had to deal with.

I am so behind on Christmas. I knew I would be house-bound, but I didn’t expect to be couch-bound and unable to even use a free hand to order presents online. Ethan would not allow that kind of distraction. However, by late last week, we did manage to venture to my parents’ place last Thursday, and to Jen’s for dinner Friday night. We even went to Marcus’ birthday party on Saturday, and to the Christmas tree farm too.

Now if I could just get one boy to stop peeing on the other, I’d be laughing!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Tonsillectomy, or as we like to call it, Medicine Hell.

Two posts in one day! This one's a long one; grab a cup of coffee and settle in...

Prior to Surgery
Ethan was getting very sad and anxious about it – we had taken a book out of the library that was supposed to help him by demystifying the whole event. Instead, in his words, “It just makes me feel in my tummy like I’m getting my tonsils out right now.” So after realizing that I’m grossing him out – just like I would be if I were in his place – we abandoned the prep attempt. We reserved our babysitters and rallied the grandparents (essentially the same thing!) and Susan came the night before, after a giant snowstorm threw a spanner in the works. We were worried now about making it to the hospital in time for our 7:30 am check-in. Ethan’s pre-op fast began after dinner Sunday night. I was too nervous to sleep, just as I was for the whole previous week.

Day of Surgery
5:55 am
The alarm goes off and I hop into the shower.
6:10 am
Mike has his shower and I go to wake Ethan. He immediately starts to cry, “I don’t want to go!” It takes three of us to dress him (kicking and screaming).
6:30 am
I scramble around, trying to make sure everything we need is packed, and that Jack’s preschool stuff is together for the next day. In the flurry we forget to leave a key for Susan or my parents to lock up later. I also almost forget to give Susan her car keys back after pulling her car out of the driveway so we can get out. Mike sets Ethan up with a movie playing on the iPod so he relaxes enough to watch that as we drive. I think this was the only way he would have gotten in the car!
6:45 am
The roads aren’t as bad as we’d feared, although they’re starting to flood. It was pouring through the night, and it got warmer so the snow is melting – but there’s nowhere for all the wet to go.
7:20 am
We park and check in at the reception for Child and Youth Services at Surrey Memorial Hospital. We recite his allergies for the first of a hundred times that day.
7:40 am
We are installed in a room in the CYS ward. Ethan’s nervous, we try to grab a video to play for him but there’s business to take care of first: weighing him, taking his blood pressure and his temperature. He gets weighed no problem but has a FIT when it’s time for the “arm hug” and the thermometer.
7:50 am
Paula, the child psychologist, comes in with a book full of photos of other children going through all the same steps Ethan will go through today. They’ve done a wonderful job of explaining everything to make it less scary but he’s still terrified. She tells him that they promise not to lie to him ever. If something’s going to hurt, they’ll tell him – but these procedures won’t hurt. He still screams through the arm hug blood pressure reading and the placing of “marshmallows” on his hands – white numbing cream under clear bandages so it won’t hurt when he gets the IV. They leave us with instructions to dress him in the surgical pyjamas, and for me to dress myself in the cover-all thing, complete with paper slippers and an awesome hat.
8:05 am
Slightly sweating, I manage to complete Ethan’s pyjama dressing. Mike has had to take a walk to calm down or he might have broken Ethan’s arms trying to get him into those darn things while he was kicking and screaming. We have to add extra bandages to contain the numbing marshmallows as he’s partially torn them off.
9:45 am
We’re still waiting in our room. Dr. McNeilly (I think) comes in to say that he needs to assess E’s cough that they detected during his fit earlier. Although he did cough a bit, I think it was more freak-out related since he hasn’t coughed at all since. Regardless, they have shuffled the schedule to do this assessment so now he won’t go in for a while.
10:00 am
Ethan starts to complain about being hungry. Uh-oh, here we go.
11:35 am
The guy with a bad attitude shows up to transfer Ethan to a portable bed to wheel him to surgery. Mike doesn’t even get a chance to say goodbye as we sprint off down the hall.
11:45 am
We’re in the hallway outside the OR. E looks very cute in his slippers, scrubs and hat, but he’s very pale – he’s scared to death. He hops off the bed when told and holds my hand as we walk into the OR, but when the anaesthesiologist asks him to get up onto the bed, I turn around to help him and he’s bolting for the door! We wrestle him onto the table and with me on his shoulders and holding one hand, the OR nurse holding tummy and other hand, Dr. Kwak on his legs and Dr. McNeilly holding his head, he screams his way to sleep. I get to kiss his cheek and I’m whisked out the door. Dr. Kwak comes with me and tells me the surgery will be quick, and then they’ll get us just before he wakes up in recovery. I’m crying pretty hard at this point and make several wrong turns trying to find our room again.
12:10 pm
Mike and I get food from the cafeteria and eat it back at the room. Tastes like cardboard.
12:30 ??
We get called to the Recovery waiting room where we – you guessed it – wait a little longer.
1:30 ??
He’s awake! We get called in to see him and are told he’s doing well, by all accounts. I still want to cry; he’s so small in that big bed and the recovery area is so... hospitallish. He’s trying to talk through rubber lips and tongue and it’s adorable and heart-breaking all at once. We need a post-op translator! He’s worried because his surgery slippers came off, and he thinks he’s in trouble for that. He also wants to make sure that Daddy eats the same things as him; so when he’s offered a popsicle he wants Daddy to get one too.
2:15 pm
We’re taken back to room 115. He’s doing great; his colour is returning to normal and the fuzziness is fading from his speech. He gets the first of what will be six popsicles that afternoon. He also gets juice and ice chips. Not surprisingly, he’s stopped talking about being hungry.
3:00 pm
Grandma (Kittycat) and Granddad bring Jack to visit. Ethan is very pleased to see them and they’ve given him a stuffed dog who, later that night, he christens “Tonsil”. My dad runs out to get Ethan a slurpee, which he tackles immediately. He is in really good spirits and gets his arm hugs and vitals checked with no complaints.
4:15 ??
After Grandma and Granddad leave, Mike takes Jack home too. E and I watch videos, play cards and do some crafts. He’s drinking lots and feeling good.
6:05 pm
I decide to run up to the cafeteria before they close. On the way out, I bump into Gramps and Connie trying to find E’s room. I take them to visit while I eat. E’s happy they’re there, loves the balloons they’ve brought, and they have a good visit.
7:05 pm
E and I are alone. He’s getting a bit quiet, but he says he’s not ready for bed yet. We’re told he has to go on an overnight monitor as his apnea could be pretty bad tonight. It’s nice to know that the nurses will respond if he stops breathing – it’s usually me running down the hall to shift his position!
8:50 pm
We finally get E hooked up to the sleep monitor, then read a few more books.
9:40 pm
Ethan’s very sad; he misses Daddy and Jack. We call home so he can say good night to Daddy again. I crawl into his hospital bed with him and hug him as he falls asleep.
10:05 pm
E falls asleep. I make up my bed and get ready to go to sleep.
10:45 pm
Just as I’m laying down, he wakes up crying from a nightmare. As I’m soothing him, the nurse comes in to give him his meds. OH. MY. GOD. My own nightmare begins. He screams, he flails, he’s SO upset.
11:45 pm
We finally get the Tylenol down. Nurse Stephanie is an angel.
?:?? am
He’s been up every 10 – 15 minutes. I haven’t even gotten back into my bed.
2:?? am
Stephanie comes back in – no meds this time, just vitals. The apnea monitor had started beeping again but he’d started breathing by the time she got to the room.
3:?? am
Uh-oh. More medicine. This time it only (!) takes 30 minutes.
6:15 am
A nurse slams the door open, mutters sorry, and backs out, closing the door again. WTF? I’d finally gotten to sleep on the corner of Ethan’s bed, with the cold metal guardrail lodged in my back. E’s sleeping, though – he hasn’t woken up since 4.
7:00 am
Stephanie comes back to give one last dose before she goes off shift. He opens his mouth without protest and she’s out of the room in 30 seconds. Somebody please tell me why he wasn’t like that in the middle of the night?

The Recovery
We’re discharged and Mike picks us up after dropping Jack at preschool. Ethan is starting to fade a bit, and is very huggy and clingy. We get him home and drop off his prescription for the antibiotics. We go through the first nightmare medicine dose of Tylenol (grape flavour) and amoxicillin (banana berry flavour). Apparently he feels we are poisoning him, and the only way to get it down him is to literally sit on him and hold his nose until he opens his mouth to breathe. I am crying every time; it’s excruciating to do this. He gets balloons and a teddy bear from Aunty Briana and the gang, but he's not cheered up much. Tuesday night, Grandma (Sugar) stops by and E’s a bear. He’s just miserable and very traumatized by the whole ordeal. The night is tough, too, as I sleep on the trundle bed in his room. He doesn’t snore any more, and the trigger for me to wake up and stop his apnea has always been the cessation of snoring. So this night, my “no snore” radar is on high and I check him every 5 minutes, it seems. He sleeps peacefully in between medication forcefeeds.

Today I get up early – I have to train a class from 9-5. I miss my first bus so I’m running 15 minutes late, I still have to drop a toy off at the Toy Drive but I miss the pancake breakfast. I am frantically trying to set up my classroom when the first participants arrive. I start class at 9:02 and it goes well, but I phone home every break. Things aren’t going well at home. Mike drops Jack off at daycare for the day, but Ethan pukes in the car on the way over. It’s all medicine that comes up, so it’s probably an anxiety-puke after a forcefeed. E and Mike have a hard day. It takes me forever to get home – I leave early but it takes me twice as long. I stop for a slurpee and a freezie on the way home, but Ethan refuses both. Desperate to give him some energy, I feed him ketchup for dinner – the only thing he will take. He eats one spoonful, then two of applesauce. He goes to bed exhausted and I collapse on his trundle again. The night goes a little better; we decide not to wake him for his Tylenol and he sleeps in 4 hour stretches, only waking up to have water. Overall I get 7 hours sleep so I’m feeling more human.

We get up and get the Rabbit-man to preschool. I wear my dark glasses – thankfully it’s sunny out! E’s a little better but the medicine – dear God! I take a little longer getting Jack, stopping to buy Ethan some comfy pyjamas. I have the Cars movie timed perfectly and arrive home just as the credits are rolling. He’s stopped talking altogether, only using his voice when he’s pleading me not to sit on him for his meds. His voice has changed, too, it’s higher and Kermit the Froggy. It also makes him sound younger and more vulnerable. When will I stop crying? My parents visit, and uncharacteristically E wants nothing to do with them. It’s heartbreaking for them, and an indication of how bad he’s feeling. I cuddle him all day long. He’s traumatized and depressed. Susan stops by on her way home from work, and he’s thankfully perked up since the last medicine. 4 pm to 7:30, he feels great so Susan is able to stay for dinner. He eats! He has the equivalent of one egg between breakfast and lunch, and plain pasta for dinner – two helpings! Susan heads for home and Mike has to run out, so the bedtime meds are all on me. Me, J, and E all end up sobbing in each other’s arms. I tell him I can’t do my job as a mommy if he won’t try to do what the nurses asked of him. I also warn him (not for the first time) that we’ll be back in hospital if he keeps this up. PJs and bed and lots of “I love you”s shortly after, and he sleeps 12 hours. I’m ecstatic!

We all wake up in better spirits. We are able to take our time getting up as nobody has to be anywhere. Ethan has two pieces of apple cake for breakfast and lots to drink. Medicine is still the same but we’ve now told him we’re only doing Tylenol if he has a fever, or if he wants it for pain. We’re not pushing it any more. Lunch goes well – more pasta. Just around noon, we peek in his throat again and we’re not sure it looks so good. It’s disgusting in there anyway, all white and black and a stench you would not believe. But we are unprepared for the rim of red that is appearing around the surgery site. I call Dr. Kwak and he’s in the OR until 4 pm. So I take him to the clinic and they don’t seem too worried. She listens to his lungs and tells him it’s ok to spit some of his drool instead of swallowing it. Then he won’t cough on it and irritate the throat more. She is unfortunately exposed to the smell of his breath too, but she assures me she’s seen it before. Ethan has a good afternoon and Dr. Kwak phones shortly before 5 pm. He’s very reassuring and tells me that the red and pink is new tissue growing, which is a very good thing. If there was bleeding we would need to get to the ER pronto. Or “stat” as they say on the medical shows. Ethan eats and drinks well, and even has a jam sandwich after dinner. For the very first time, he takes his own medicine from the measuring spoon. It takes him a few minutes, and several gulps of water in between, but I am so proud. He goes to bed actually smiling. Me too.

Hopefully this trend will continue. Keep the little man in your thoughts and let’s wish for a speedy recovery, for all of our sakes!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Rush

Looking back on the weeks since I last posted, it has really been a blur. Not only is it such a crazy time of year, but I was so stressed out with dread and preparation for Ethan’s tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy. Having said that, there were some great times in there too - 25 Club was one. We all got together at Montage Spa in Walnut Grove for manicures and pedicures, food and wine. Since we’re becoming spa connoisseurs of sorts – we do this every year – we were pleasantly surprised to find out that Montage met all of our criteria for a successful group event and we may break with tradition and do the same place again next year! Carrie had arranged for us to have a private shopping party afterwards at a boutique two doors down, which only added to the glamour of the day. The store owner had put out wine, cheese and crackers and locked the door behind us, so we were able to try on clothes with the benefit of personal shoppers and honest opinions from our closest friends. After closing my eyes while signing my Mastercard slip, I have to say I think it was worth their while to stay open two hours late. The store owner had phoned ahead for us to a great little Indian restaurant only four doors away, so our paparazzi life continued for another few hours. Again, everything was excellent.
Snap back to reality the next morning as the boys run in and jump on me. We’ve had a very cold snap and snow arrived suddenly on the 26th – lots of it. We were at the YMCA for swimming lessons, inside only an hour, and when we came out our car was covered! We’re only a five minute drive away normally, but it took 40 minutes to get home. We’ve played outside, made snowmen, had snowball fights, and warmed up by the fire. Ethan and I were in front of the fireplace, using my scarf to make shapes and guess what each other had made. This game was sweet, and we made snails, letters, faces, and Ethan even made a breast cancer ribbon. It was a big loop, and he said, “You know, Mummy, the pink ribbon from your coat so nobody gets sick any more.” I was quite touched, but then the next shape he made was not so sweet – he decided to make a penis. Sigh.
Speaking of sweet and not-so-sweet, E. came home from school one day and told me a friend had forgotten his snack, so he offered to share his. I told him how nice that was and that I was proud of him for helping a friend. He then told me exactly what he had shared – two goldfish crackers and two raisins. So generous!
I have been on edge with Lazy Jack lately. Since he was a baby, he’s been so lazy about certain things he expects the parents to do for him. It started as an infant – he would NEVER hold his own bottle. He didn’t care and would just lay there with limp arms while you juggled everything to feed him. Nursing him was way easier since you at least had one arm free (necessary when you also have a toddler jumping around). He also doesn’t care about getting dressed and is never helpful like Ethan was in pushing his own arms out of the sleeves. He waits for you to pull them out. The final straw is that in 3½ years he still hasn’t got the fact that we want him to pull his arms out of his car seat straps once we’ve undone the buckle. Seems simple, but it sends me over the edge. So I lost it a couple of weeks ago and I said (yelled?), “Jack – it’s been 3½ years; you should know to take your arms out of your f&*^king seat!” Not my most stellar moment. Once we’re out of the car and walking down the sidewalk, J says, “Why did you say f&*^king, Mummy?” I replied that I was sorry, I was just frustrated. He replies, “Well, I am fer-uss-terated with you, too, Mummy, we are fer-uss-terated with each other!”
We managed to get a couple of Christmas-related jobs out of the way; the most important of which was the photo with Santa, which we did the day before Ethan’s surgery. It’s very cute! Now I just have to assemble an address list, write cards, print photos to put in cards, send cards, shop for Christmas, wrap, make goodies, go to Christmas parties, get E ready for his Christmas concert, and in the midst of all that, prepare for Belize. That’s all!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Week in Review

The boys have great senses of humour, honest. Just when you hear the following conversation between them, you may not believe it.

Knock, Knock!
Who’s there?
Lantern who?
Lanterns can’t talk.

So we move on to:

Knock, Knock!
Who’s there?
You who?
(this one may be more promising…)
You aren’t a lantern.
(OK, so this joke sucked, too.)

Aaron gave Ethan a Knock Knock book ages ago, and I’m sorry to report that it hasn’t rubbed off. At all.

This week I made Jambalaya, Mike’s favourite dinner ever. I made his with spicy sausage and extra cayenne. Then I made a second version for me with veggie sausage and less spice. Finally, the boys’ version had veggie sausage, no spice, and was made with “ketchup” – tomato sauce really. So after me cooking for 2 hours, the only one who enjoyed his dinner was Mike. I have a hard time enjoying my meal when one boy is crying hysterically because “his dinner stinks… and it doesn’t even LOOK good” and the other is riding along on his brother’s discontent. All this after just having a conversation last weekend about trying to teach the boys table manners, because we don’t want to turn out like other children we’ve seen, etc. I was humbled tonight, let me tell you. I eventually just left the room after telling Ethan how much he had hurt my feelings.

We had a fantastic time last weekend on our Scavenger Hunt. It was adults only, and we had a list of digital photos to get, and tons of items to scavenge, all in the space of 2 hours. We all met here and divided into 3 teams of 4 people by drawing a bandanna out of a sack. Our team was Mike, me, Chad and Kim and we kicked butt. Seriously – Team Green got 505 points, and the other two got 360 and 305. We were having a great time, and then it came to judging where we all judged the other teams. I have never heard it so loud in this house! It was hysterical!

The next day, we picked up the boys and Grandma and went for burgers at Red Robin. Mike dropped me off at a Christmas-card-making party and then he took them to their friend Gavin’s birthday party. They ended up by going to the fire hall – fun for Jack; not so much for Ethan who had a little fit about being inside there. His claustrophobia again? I don’t know.

We celebrated American Thanksgiving this week, too. Mike’s company sent us a giant honey-baked ham so I made a big meal with that, potatoes, squash, and amazing “haricots frites” – green beans blanched, then tossed quickly in hot oil with sesame seeds. So good! Then we had apple pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert – yum!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Little Tidbits

17 children in one Undersea Garden birthday party is about 15 too many for my head. I am SO glad Liam had a great time – so did our boys and Hannah too – but I think the adults would all concur that we were glad for a little caffeine boost and cake pick-me-up at the Spaghetti Factory after!

Ethan’s tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are scheduled for Monday, December 3rd. I am looking forward to correcting the sleep apnea but scared to death about the surgery. Even more so, I dread the recovery for my little drama king. Or, more accurately, how Mike and I will handle his recovery.

Hours without power due to windstorm: 13-1/2. Hours spent playing board games by candlelight: 4. Hours without internet and phone due to windstorm: 31. Hours Mike went crazy: 31.

While we’re on statistics, approximate number of times I visit Costco per year: 57. I should buy stock.

Note: my boy Becks looks just as good in person from 15 feet away as he does on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Our front row seats to the LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps game were priceless. Sigh. I love Beckham – er, soccer.

It’s very unsettling to hear your 5 year-old call his 3-1/2 year-old little brother “you old bugger”.

Interesting how one boy’s “happy song” (repeated over and over, it’s true) makes the other boy SO mad he screams until he loses control altogether and knocks the happy brother off his stool and ends up on the naughty mat for 5 minutes.

I have exactly 1 hour and 57 minutes between dropping Jack off at preschool and leaving to pick Ethan up at Kindergarten, twice a week. I can do more in that 1 hour and 57 minutes than in 12 hours of time with the boys. Yet somehow, I never feel I’ve accomplished QUITE enough!

I am in my seventh week of my healthier plan. I do 3-4 cardio workouts a week, 1-2 Yoga session, and sometimes 1 weights session too. Despite a two-week back injury at the end of September, a chocolate-tasting party, and two binge days at Halloween, I am overall doing very well. Eating better consistently is easy as long as I allow myself some treat at the end of each day. A small square of dark chocolate fits the bill every time! My goals are: bikini in Belize for New Year’s, Sprint distance triathlon in April and Olympic distance triathlon in July or August.

Ethan and Jack have created something “fun” called the Fart Zone. This involves surrounding me and farting multiple times, then laughing hysterically when I scramble out of the area. I am alarmed since they are only 3 and 5 and they can fart on command. Not cool. What else is in store for me in this house?

Coming up: reports on our second annual Scavenger Hunt (to be held this Saturday)! Have a great week everyone!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sugar Highs and Embarrassing Lows

Halloween has come and gone for another year. The boys had a fantastic time and somehow or other, their costumes survived through a party on Saturday night, being worn to school and to daycare on Wednesday, and through Trick-or-treating. They were adorable and everyone loved their costumes. But the past few days have been difficult for me, as the kids come down off their sugar high and are acting beastly. Ethan’s teacher popped her head out of the classroom just before dismissal today and said that she’s going to make sure Halloween comes during the summer holidays next year so she doesn’t have to deal with the aftermath! I guess she’s dealing with the beastlies too.

Speaking of beasts, we are having a very hard time getting Ethan to eat meat these days. He’s made the connection that chicken is Chicken, fish is Fish and turkey is Turkey – so he refuses to eat any of those things. I look at him and can see his little mind getting grossed out as he stares at his plate. And who am I to judge, really, when I am a “vegetarian+chicken” myself and I struggle mentally to eat anything other than veggies (or chocolate, but that comes from a cocoa bean, so same thing). We have been very evasive on the origins of ham and beef, but he is extremely suspicious. For the past three weeks, his protein has come in the form of meatballs, sausages, and soy cheese. So if he asks you what animal any of these things come from, please avoid the question. It’s not like we can add peanut butter to his repertoire to “beef” him up! And I have been noticing lately just how thin he is. He eats all the time, no kidding, we jump from breakfast to snack to second snack to lunch to three-snack afternoon to dinner, and you can still see the kid’s ribs clear as day. He doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him, and I never would have thought I would say that about him after his first year of pudgy life. Some of you may remember his nickname: “El Puerco” – the pig. We had to lift the rolls of fat on his arms and legs to get him clean in the bath. He was 8 lbs 11 oz at birth AND he was born nearly a month early. I honestly don’t know how we will afford to feed this guy once he’s a teenager.

And when it comes to bellies, we are anticipating a giant growth spurt from Jack. He’s like a comic strip character – he gets a very impressive Buddha belly, then his feet pop up a size, then he grows an inch. Since he’s still very small for his age, he could use a few inches. He’s desperate to get into that Ikea playroom! The poor little guy just split his lip again – who knows how, and I was less than two feet from him when it happened – and he has a double knot on his forehead. He already had a bruise and a knot up there from doing something at the Halloween party last weekend (what? We have no idea…), and just in time for school pictures, too. Then last night Mike was playing a game of tag with them, and Mike jumped out of the way as Jack supermanned at him. Jack’s momentum carried him headfirst into the side of the ottoman, where we heard a big thwack. He turned around and his knot was now a giant green double knot. Lovely. And he insisted on wearing his Mongolian hat (sent by Uncle Mark some months ago) to drop Ethan off at school today, which only accentuated the giant lump. I should have just drawn an arrow in Sharpie on his forehead, pointing to the bruise, with a label that says “I neglect my kids”.

I have been compiling a list of embarrassing stories for a while to present to you. The following stories are all TRUE and they all unfortunately happened to ME. Here you go:
1. While in WalMart a while back, I unexpectedly had to purchase some monthly feminine supplies, if you get my drift. I then wheeled the double stroller into the large wheelchair stall at the end of the bathroom and proceeded to take care of business. Ethan asks in an echoing voice, "Why are you wearing a diaper, Mummy?" Up and down the row of stalls, I hear muffled snickers. I hotly explained to Ethan that pantiliners were to protect underwear and that they were NOT diapers! I stayed in that stall for a long time until I was sure there were all new people in the bathroom.
2. Ethan is buying a long-stemmed silk flower for a friend for her birthday, and he loves how long it is. While in line to pay for the flower, he holds it up to me and says nice and loudly, "It comes all the way up to your vagina, Mummy!" Sudden silence from all who are waiting in line.
3. Often after a trip to Zellers, and only if they've been decent, we'll stop for one small Purdy's chocolate each. There was one day they totally did NOT deserve it. After I said no, Jack ran over into Purdy's and threw himself down on the floor onto the Purdy's purple logo tile. To my horror, he actually started LICKING the floor. One sweet old lady said, "Oh just get him some chocolate, dear!"
4. We hit Save-On-Foods every Monday morning around 10 am. We often get the same check-out lady and on this occasion, she asked the boys what they had been up to that morning. "Well", Ethan says, "Mummy really needed vodka." (Our first errand had been the liquor store, but let me stress that I had NOT imbibed any!) She took it in stride and silently handed the boys a sticker each.
5. I'm paying a parking ticket at the City Hall counter when all of a sudden Jack runs at me from behind and head-butts me (It's literally a head-butt - his head, my butt); I slam into the counter. Both clerks and the two other customers jump and I mumble "sorry he must think he's a mountain goat or something". Just then Jack grabs fistfuls of my butt cheeks in each hand and yells "you have a beautiful butt Mummy". I'm immediately scarlet and the ladies have tears in their eyes and are howling and telling their co-workers all about it as I slink out. (As a side note – I was telling my friend Carla this story and as we’re laughing about it, her son whips a tampon out of her purse and starts waving it around. So it’s not only my kids who enjoy embarrassing me!)

Well kids, I say this to you: payback's a bitch. And I WILL embarrass you completely, incredibly, awfully. I will save it until your teenage years and for your wedding day. But best of all I am keeping photographic evidence of you and your idiosyncrasies and you can bet that your first girlfriends are going to see it. All of it. So go on with your embarrassing selves. I am patient and I will wait.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Boys Prepare for Halloween!

We’ve been busily preparing for Halloween – the kids are SO excited! We've hit the pumpkin patch in the pouring rain, and carved up some spooky jack-o-lanterns. Jack is going to be a Jack in the Box, and Ethan is Chef Linguini from the movie Ratatouille. Every morning the first thing Ethan says is “5 days until Halloween” etc. What a huge bummer it’s going to be for them when I confiscate all the candy! We usually have to take half of his candy away because of the peanut thing, then we stash the other half and dole out one piece every now and then. Before long, incredibly they forget about the candy and all leftover stuff goes into the Treat Box. The Treat Box then only comes out on special occasions and we add Christmas candy and then Easter candy, and various goodie bag candy before I purge it midsummer. I just tossed all last year’s Halloween leftovers!

The speaker I went to last week suggested that one of the main problems with raising boys is not talking to them regularly about sex. He said to start a weekly tradition of asking them “what questions to do you have about sex this week?” At the age our boys are at, he said the appropriate question would be “what questions do you have about your bodies this week?” So I thought I’d try it out in the car on the way home from school today. Ethan was very excited to ask his first question and here it is: “How many beats does your heart beat in a minute?” It’s not exactly what I was expecting, but okay. Ethan swears it’s 3, for the record.

After the pouring rain last weekend, we have had a beautiful fall week. It's been cold, but we've had sunny days and we've actually got back outside for walks and playtime. I love the colours of the leaves and we have a new chant as we walk through the leaves: "Rustle, crackle, crunch. Rustle, crackle, crunch." Alas, as per usual, the boys catch on to something and repeat it to the point you wish you'd never said anything. I now will avoid leaf-lined streets for a while until they forget the little chant.

Jack and I were watching Ethan’s swimming lesson last week. He was sitting on my lap singing – honestly, I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was saying. All of a sudden the lady next to me started choking on her muffin. I was alarmed and I asked if she was ok. She said “Yes, but WHAT did your son say?” He was singing this song he had learned at preschool:
Photosynthesis, photosynthesis
Carbon dioxide, water and light!
Photosynthesis, photosynthesis
Add a green leaf and cook it just right!
He was all wrapped in a towel since he’d just finished his own lesson and he looked about 2 years old, tops. So when I realized what he was singing I started to laugh and said “I just love his preschool!” She said “Uh, yeah, I would too!”

Jack’s preschool is a Christian one, so he’s become quite interested in all things pertaining to God. So much so, in fact, that he has named a favourite car “God” and his navy and white blanket must now be referred to as “God blanket”. During a recent discussion with my friend about what teddy bears etc. our kids take to bed, Jack pipes up with “I sleep with God!” Ah yes.

I got to see my friend Nancy this weekend. They were evacuated from their home in San Diego due to the wildfires, and so she and the kids came home to her parents’ place in Langley to wait it out. Troy stayed in the San Diego area, but out of the path of the fires. Thankfully, they have now been repopulated and their house is safe. I was also happy for the fact that Nancy, me and Jen got to spend a few hours catching up on Friday night – it’s been ages!

That’s it for tonight, Mount Laundry is calling my name!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Autumn and Apples

It’s been 10 days since I’ve blogged! I had to pull out my calendar to remember what we’ve been up to! Last week, we went apple picking in Fort Langley. An old school friend has an apple orchard, and she let us piggy-back onto a school tour. She was great – taught us all about apple planting, growing and picking. We went out into the orchard and picked about 3 bags of apples. Gail then invited us in for tea and we had a very nice visit, catching up on the last 20 years or so. She has 6 children and is expecting her 7th! Kudos to her; everything seems to run very smoothly around her house. I can’t imagine what would happen if we multiplied our two-kid chaos times three. In fact, it makes me feel a bit nauseous to think about it. I’m quite happy to stop at two kids!

On Friday, we had a whirlwind apple-kitchen day to use all our delicious freshly-picked beauties. We made an apple pie, apple tarts, apple turnovers, caramel apples, dutch apple cake and of course apple sauce. All in the space of about 5 hours. I threw everything into the freezer, with the exception of the caramel apples, so I wouldn’t be tempted.

Last weekend was fun – we had Jack Day on Saturday. Way back when Jack turned 2, Ethan was 3½ and all the attention showered on Jack caused a little setback in the Ethan potty-training schedule. We soon realized that E. needed a little attention and so we created “Ethan Day”. He got special time alone with Mike in the morning and alone with me in the afternoon, and voila! Potty training back on track. Flash forward to today, Jack’s 3½ and Ethan just celebrated his 5th birthday and got all the attention. Guess who started peeing everywhere again this week? After Jack Day (which was really just a couple of hours at the park with us while Ethan hung out with Grandma Sugar) we seem to be ok again. And on an even better note, Ethan has held true to his word and has been wiping his own bum for 15 days now. I had told him that the bum-wiping free ride officially ended on his 5th birthday, and he’s been cool with that. I’ll be buying toilet paper more often (kid isn’t exactly stingy with the TP) but I’m feeling pretty good! Jack’s only once every couple of days, but Ethan’s a thrice-daily kind of a poo guy, so it gets a bit much.

After Jack Day, Mike and I left the boys with Grandma while we went to a surprise birthday party, and then dinner at Aaron and Marzia’s with them and Kim and Gene. We had a great night, and stayed out – wait for this – past midnight! Yes, it’s true. We got home around 1:30. We then had a delicious brunch at the new Irish pub in Langley before picking up the kids.

We’ve decorated for Halloween now, so we are in the midst of glorious orange and black tackiness at the moment. Our piece de resistance this year is a large spider web we spun on our porch, stretching over the bench. The kids are getting excited for Halloween but I have a lot of work to do still on their costumes. You’ll see pictures once everything’s done there.

The last thing to report on is a speaker I heard this week. His name was Barry MacDonald and his talk was on Boy Smarts. He was a very good speaker and he had a lot of good and interesting things to say on parenting boys. My favourite was Ethan’s comment when I told him where I was going that night – “But Mummy, you already KNOW how to be a parent!” Sigh – I wish that were true.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ethan becomes a 5-year-old!

The big news for the week, is of course, Ethan's fifth birthday! He had a perma-grin from the second he woke up until he fell asleep that night. He loved his presents from us, and as often happens, the gift we picked up as an afterthought was his favourite! He is now in the Transformers/Lego stage of life, which Mike is ecstatic about (big kid). He also still loves Cars and his favourite gift was the Cars carrying case I picked up at the last minute.

How cool for him - his class went on a field trip on his birthday. They went to the Fire Hall which he really enjoyed. He then handed out some goodies to his Kindergarten friends and got to pick whatever he wanted for lunch. So to Wendy's we drove and ordered up our hamburgers. Grandma and Granddad came by for tea and brought a very cool wooden castle and some knights and horses to fill it up. We made some cupcakes and headed off to swimming lessons. Grandma Sugar came for dinner (E's request: spaghetti and meatballs) and they spent the rest of the night racing the Hot Wheels track she brought. He went to bed a very happy little man.

Friday was quiet, which was a good thing as Saturday was Ethan's party at Science World. They had called me to warn me that their sponsor Telus was making that Saturday a free to the public day. That meant that it was crazy busy, but luckily our party was in a private room. They did a science demo for the kids, served them lunch and did cake and presents. The host was great and the kids had a blast. We met the parents in the lobby afterwards and some of us went back into Science World to play. We only lasted half an hour before we were overwhelmed by all the people and piled into the car, happy and exhausted. Ethan got a lot of board games and books for his birthday (do they know this kid or what?) so we spent the rest of the day playing everything.

Sunday was Thanksgiving, and I took the boys to my parents' house at 5 pm. Unfortunately, Mike's allergies were still bad from the previous weekend so he had to miss a huge turkey dinner with all the trimmings. And two kinds of pie!!! My parents have a cat, and Mike had been at Eliot's the night before where the dog had sent him over the edge. The dinner was very good, but I did have to rush my dad to the clinic after an unfortunate knife-sharpening incident. There are easier ways to get out of washing the dishes! Ben had to carve the turkey, with my dad coaching him along the way. I think he did a pretty good job! The kids were a little wild and we failed to impress the two British ladies who were staying at my parents. They were very nice about it but I was cringing at what they must think of the naughty Canadian boys. The "highlight" of the night was Jack ditching his pyjama pants and streaking past the proper ladies sipping their tea, screaming "Naked Boy!" at the top of his lungs. We left very quickly after that.

Gramps and Connie came by yesterday to bring Ethan a couple of Transformers (and one for Jack). That night, Ethan came downstairs after bedtime to tell me he was feeling sad but he didn't know why. I offered hugs and kisses but he said that wouldn't help. I suspect that he was upset at the end of his birthday! It was so cute, a couple of months ago I asked him why he never wanted to throw a coin in the fountain for a wish any more. He said he had stopped because his wishes never came true! I asked what he was wishing for, and he wouldn't tell me at first, but eventually consented to whisper in my ear, "I wish for my birthday to come sooner". Poor kid, I can't help him make that wish come true. So when it was done for another year, he was understandably sad.

But, we have Halloween to look forward to, and then the two month hype before Christmas. So he'll get over it soon enough!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In Shock

Ethan cleaned his whole room yesterday, unprovoked and just "as a surprise for Mummy" who was laying down with a headache. It was spotless!
Thank you. You can close your mouths now and return to what you were doing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Do the Kids Hate Me?

It’s been a tough week all around. It started when we were heading back from school at the end of last week. Jack and Ethan are in the back, having a conversation. I guess they thought I couldn’t hear them; or more likely, they still don’t realize how their words affect others. They were ranking our immediate family members in “order of best” and I ranked #4. Out of 4. Logically I know not to take this to heart, but come on! Also this week, I made croissants from one of those Pillsbury tubes, and you know how there are 8 triangles in there. It’s a good math lesson, right, to ask your kids to figure out how many each person gets in a family of four? Maybe it’s a great math exercise but when your kids decide that Ethan gets 3, Jack and Daddy get 2 each and Mummy only gets 1, it’s a bruising blow to the ego.

Speaking of bruises, I have slowly recovered from my back injury, to the point where I popped in my new Yoga DVD yesterday afternoon. >The boys had their “yoga pants” on too, and were all set to participate. The DVD turned out to be one of those skanky exercise videos, a la Search for the Pussycat Doll, prompting E. to say doubtfully “Is this yoga Mummy? Because some of the positions (he really said this) don’t seem quite… right?” We turned off the DVD and the kids and I spent about an hour taking turns leading our yoga class and showing off our moves. Ethan especially loved this, using all the proper pose names. “Mummy, plank into crocodile then up into cobra. Don’t forget to curl your toes under to get up into downward dog.” Jack preferred to demo somersaults and some pose that involved hand on the hip, hip thrown out to the side and other arm flung into the air. It was very cute!

They really do make me laugh. We were making envelopes for Grandma’s birthday cards out of this brown craft paper. E. and I were busy taping his when we look up and Jack is furiously trying to lick and stick his together. His cardboard was sopping wet and me and Ethan just started howling. Ethan’s gasping, ”It’s a made envelope Jack, not a sticker one!” And let’s not forget E’s new habit of saying, “Hell-oohh” as in the really sarcastic way of saying um, excuse me? Jack pronounces Lightning (as in Lightning McQueen, hero of Cars) as “white-nine”, which I find absolutely adorable, and I think of excuses to make him say it just so I can hear his cute little voice.

Something else happened this week. Poor little Jack was peeing on the toilet. He prefers to sit down to take care of business, and he was just about to do his “digga digga” which is their code word for shaking it off after everything’s done. Ethan decides he’s gotta go too. Now. He drops his pants, and let’s keep in mind that an almost-5-year-old doesn’t quite have the aim. It all happened so fast! He tried to pee right through Jack’s legs, and, well, you can imagine. I don’t know who was more upset, E or J. I wasn’t actually any help at all because I was peeing my pants laughing. Mike had to do the clean up.

Oh, about my 40 things to do list – thanks for the suggestions and offers for help to accomplish my tasks! I’ll post updates every now and then when something gets done or underway. I did start my children’s story this week, and we’ll knock the “P” country off the list with Portugal next year. Tracy’s going to teach me poker, and Mike took me to the driving range where I think it went ok. You can ask him in private if you want. Also, Book Club surprisingly agreed to read a Religion for Dummies book for one of our selections next year, so there’s another. With any luck, I may get some of these things done!

Our 25 club Chocolate Tasting Party was a great success. We tried 12 different chocolates Р6 dark, 4 milk and 2 white. We were pretty evenly split between dark-lovers and milk-lovers; the best-loved chocolates were Bernard Callebaut 60% dark and for the milk Poulain Lait Volupt̩. Comments on our scorecards were things like smoky, silky, clean, unobtrusive, bitter, heaven. We found all sorts of words to describe chocolate!

The kids had busy weeks at school. Jack had his very first Party Day at preschool. He could not stop smiling. He was adorable with his little songs and poems. Ethan had his Terry Fox run and a Meet the Teacher BBQ for all of us (in the pouring rain). I also attended a Parent Advisory Council meeting – I would have called it the PAC except Mike said I have to clarify and say it’s like the PTA. For the record, they’re called PACs now. Ethan had a white t-shirt that he had to get people to sign when he told them about Terry Fox and his fight against cancer. He was a little reluctant to talk about it to people, so I tried to prompt him. I asked did he have one leg or two? So E replies, “Well there’s one and a half real legs and half a fake leg so actually he had two”. I’m trying to draw out basic facts from him and he’s arguing the finer points of amputation??? The run itself was hilarious – they only made the kindergartners run around the school once instead of doing the whole 5k, but still they were very serious. They warmed up first, then Ethan took his place in line and they all took off. Parents are running alongside, trying to take pictures (myself included) and it quickly dissolved into chaos. Jack bailed, a lady dropped her purse and I started giggling and couldn’t stop. Jack and I cut through the school (reminded me of the time people jumped in a cab in the middle of the Marathon) and met them on the other side.

We’ve just gotten home from a multi-celebration day at Mummy and Daddy’s. It was Mummy’s birthday on Thursday, so Briana and I took her to High Tea at the Secret Garden in Kerrisdale. It was very nice; delicious food and unique teas and best of all a chance to escape. It had been a while since the three of us were alone with no men and no kids, so it was a welcome escape. We also celebrated Ethan’s 5th birthday a week early, and had a champagne toast to Ben and Renee to celebrate their engagement. The thirteen of us in their house today (the four of us, M&D, Briana, Rob, Liam and Kieran, Ben and Renee, and Carl) are the thirteen who will be heading to Portugal mid-May for M&D’s 40th wedding anniversary. M&D have booked an amazing villa on the Algarve coast. Can’t wait!

This week has been packed! Looking for a little R&R this week before E’s party next weekend at Science World. Right now I feel like slippers and a big comforter to escape the rain and wind outside. I don’t think I can drink any more tea today, though…

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jack Attack on my Back

Oh, my aching back. We were at the YMCA nearly two weeks ago now, and I was busy trying to keep track of both boys in the pool. Not easy; they're slippery as eels and they move faster than you would believe. Jack was playing his favourite game - jumping in from the side into my arms - when I got momentarily distracted looking for Ethan. E was doing his bobs, which always alarm me as I think he stays under too long. Jack apparently didn't need to wait for the catcher (me) to be aware of his presence hurtling in from the side, and jumped down onto my head. He's not even 30 pounds, but straight onto the head and shoulder and it doesn't tickle. I didn't notice it SO much until the next morning when I could barely lift my head off the pillow, let alone breathe or move. It is classic whiplash, courtesy of my youngest son.
I was steadily improving - I even got to the gym on Tuesday, one week after The Jump. Then Thursday morning, I woke up around 5 am and made the mistake of stretching AND yawning at the same time. Silly me, because apparently I turned 80 in the middle of the night or something! I was incapacitated once more. Karla, a mom at Kindergarten, said I obviously shouldn't try to multi-task like that at 5 am. She also offered to meet me at Zellers for the seniors breakfast special the next morning (there's room to park walkers). How helpful! But then her husband Don got Jack into his carseat for me, so I can be friends with her still ;-)

We had Paige and Gavin with us on Friday. The kids all play so well together; it's always a blast! We had them two weeks ago too for the day. Ironically, with four kids in the house I got more done than with two here. I put my feet up with a cup of tea, got some stuff done for work, and folded three loads of laundry. We also went to the park, had lunch and made balloon crafts. They are beautiful children and they really click with our kids. This past Friday was more stressful, only because Ethan and Paige are both in Kindergarten (different schools) and their start and end times are identical. So I dropped Ethan 5 minutes early with some of the other moms waiting for Madame, and drove as fast as I could to Paige's school. We parked in the wrong place (Paige was no help there as she usually walks to school) and ran to the classroom only to find a sign on the door that they were at music. In another building. Paige dropped off her bag and hat in her cubby and we hightailed it to the office, where I got reamed out by the principal and obtained a Late Pass. I then got directions for the music room, and by the time we got there she was 15 minutes late. Gulp. Gavin and Jack were angels and enjoyed the trucks and trains for a couple of hours. Then it came time to pick up the older kids and I went for Ethan first. If Paige's principal was already pissed at me, why piss off another principal? E seemed to be the last one dismissed, then he finally came out, I grabbed his hand and we booked it. Remember my lovely back? Felt "great" in a sprint, let me tell you...! We were 15 minutes late for Paige, even still. We came back and had a nice lunch, and we were actually kind of sad that Sandy got off early - the kids were having so much fun!

Ethan had Picture Day on Wednesday. Mike dropped him off in the morning after having picked a pose and a background for him on the photographer's sheet. When he picked him up from school, he asked Ethan how it went and Ethan told him that he didn't like the pose Mike had picked, so he chose another one. We'll see how they turn out!

On a sad note, our good friend Chris lost his mom this week. Rest in Peace, Rosie.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Jack Becomes a Preschooler

We celebrated Ethan’s Kindergarten debut on September 4th, and Jack went to preschool for the first time on Tuesday, September 11th. Our baby is in school! Although he is willful and disobedient at home with us (I considered getting his hearing checked until I realized that my voice is the only one on the planet that he “can’t” hear), Teachers Carole and Colleen assure me he is an angel at school. For now. He was so cute with his little Thomas the Tank Engine snack bag, posing for his pictures. He actually didn’t really see what the fuss was about, because he thinks he’s already been going to school for two years now, with Ethan. He’s done all the field trips, been there for party days, and knows the teachers and some of the kids. When I was hovering over, trying to give him a goodbye kiss, he was swatting me off like an annoying fly. So I left, but as I did I noticed a fair number of the first-time preschool moms staring at me in disbelief – “She’s just LEAVING her child here?” I think they may intend to stay in class for the whole month of September, to make their child’s (their own?) transition “easier”. Both Ethan and Jack have been really ready to start school, so I’ve been lucky and avoided any separation anxiety from them.

And as for me, although I was ready with a box of Kleenex for the first time they were both in school at the same time (Thursday they overlapped for 45 min), my emotions could best be described as… Glee? Joy? Liberty? I was so excited for them both, and so proud, and also so relieved to have a little time to myself. I am working on another blog post to describe a day in the life of me and the boys. When that is published, perhaps you will see how precious 45 minutes can be!

Ethan is settling in so nicely at his school. He really likes it, and there are some great moms in his class, too, which is good for me. During his first parent-teacher interview, he passed the writing assessment and the cutting with scissors test with flying colours! Madame said, “Oh, he’s a smart one!” and he’s been trying to live up to that, practicing his francais. He even has Jack saying “Comment ca va?” although neither one of them knows quite how to respond next.

Mike got back from Tokyo on Friday, full of stories about Japan, cultural differences, crazy subway maps, amazing food and the welcoming Japanese people. He was gone a week, and although he is jet lagged, I think it was a successful trip. He brought the boys some pretty cool little cars (after Ethan told him on the phone that he did NOT want another shirt, please) and he brought me a very pretty Montblanc necklace and some tasty little green tea and chocolate cakes. His birthday was weird this year – he left for Japan at 6 am on the morning of his birthday so it doesn’t feel like we’ve celebrated properly yet. Maybe once he wakes up, we’ll plan a night out. Anyone want to join us?

My brother Ben and his girlfriend Renee are engaged! They were in Paris, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, when Ben surprised Renee with a proposal. We’re very excited for them! They arrive home today so we plan on surprising them at the airport with Congratulations signs and a little hoopla. No date set yet, as far as I know, but I’ll keep you posted!

In other news, my girlfriends’ club (the 25 Club) is in the midst of planning our activities for the next year. We meet once a month on the 25th, and each month we do something different. These are my dear friends I have had forever – Carrie, Chantal, Ivana, Kim, and Marzia. The most recent addition to our group came in 1993 I think – that was Ivana, so even she has been with us for 14 years. Shanty, Mar and I have been together since Grade 6, and Carrie and Kim came into our group through spouses and friends, also in the early 90s. This month I am so excited, I am hosting a chocolate tasting party for us. I can’t think of a more perfect evening! I’ll report back later this month to tell you our favourite chocolates.

I also have another group of friends who I get together with semi-regularly – Jen, Jas, Sonia, Shannon, Breanne, Debbie, Tracy. We call ourselves the Experience Club, and we’ve done Pole Dancing, weekends away, Bhangra dancing for Diwali, snow shoeing and lots of lunches and Starbucks coffee evenings. Next on our agenda is a mini-boot camp session. We always have a ton of laughs and lots of food. Brie anyone?

Rounding out my social calendar is my Book Club – me and three other ladies who have been getting together on the first Wednesday of each month for about three years. I met Kristy through a class we took together at the YMCA – Baby Music for Jack and her son Magnus. Through Kristy, I met Christy and Brenda. It’s fun to read the books, but we also talk about our families a lot (we have six children and many nieces and nephews between us) and have a movie night here and there, too.

These first few weeks of school have been very busy, with lots of driving back and forth. The kids also started another round of swim lessons at the YMCA, and began daycare at Milli’s on Wednesdays, the day I work. It will take us some time to adjust to a morning schedule, leaving the house by 8:20, but I love having school done by 11:30 – I’m so happy we got the morning classes!
Until next week!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Before I turn (gasp!) 40...

Since my 34th birthday in July, I have been compiling a list of things I'd like to do before I turn 40. I am publishing them here in the hopes that more people will hold me accountable and help me attain these goals in the next six years!!! Here we go...

1. Learn sign language
2. Religion 101 – or Religion for Dummies? – I just need to educate myself on the world’s religions
3. Walk in one of the 3 day walks for breast cancer
4. Become debt-free (other than mortgage)
5. Volunteer time with the children or without - Animal Shelter, Hospice, Soup kitchen, or some other worthwhile cause
6. Perform one random act of kindness every month, anonymously and without recognition
7. Begin genealogy research and update family tree
8. Visit 6 of the 7 continents. I veto Antarctica and I still need Asia and South America to get to 6.
9. Swim with dolphins
10. Learn to scuba dive
11. “Compete” in an Olympic distance triathlon
12. See the northern lights and/or experience the 24 hr sunshine or 24 hr darkness of the far north
13. Visit Russia
14. Sample more cuisines of the world – try something new each month
15. Buy something from a TV infomercial
16. Surf
17. Go one week without watching TV
18. Check into a very nice hotel by myself for a weekend and order room service as often as I want and order pay per view movies (but not dirty ones) like they're going out of style
19. Do an all-day movie marathon in a movie theatre
20. Learn to play poker
21. Spend an afternoon (or maybe just an hour; whatever it takes to get through a bucket of golfballs) at the driving range, and try not to be a spaz
22. Watch all the movies (that I have not yet seen) on the IMDb Top 100 List
23. Start and continue an exercise regime for three months, even if it kills me
24. Learn to accept my body and all its imperfections
25. Read 3 classic novels I should have already read
26. Spend a summer in Europe with my family
27. Finish writing a children’s book (should probably start it too)
28. Go through all our photographs and select some to mat and frame like they’re real art
29. Get rid of all the things in my house that are just clutter and would benefit someone else
30. Buy a plant and keep it alive, instead of treating plants as if they are meant to be disposable
31. Organize a box for each child to hold their special childhood crap memorabilia, limit size of said box so that they can never say they don’t have room for it in their own house
32. Shower under a waterfall in an amazing tropical setting
33. Track down and help some of the AIDS orphans that I met in South Africa in 2001
34. Go to the Olympics
35. Stay connected with my girlfriends
36. Throw a dart at the map of the world and travel wherever it lands
37. Visit a country for every letter of the alphabet (except O, Q, XYZ – you try to find a country to go to in that list! I’m not going to Oman or Qatar.) – have 9 letters left to visit (D,G,H,J,K,L,P,R&T)
38. Strut on a Catwalk unselfconsciously
39. Try archery
40. Do something so completely unexpected that everyone will say “WHAT? Tamsin did that?”

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Le premier jour d'ecole!

Ethan started Kindergarten today! It was very exciting for all of us, also honestly a little bit emotional for me, and he thoroughly enjoyed his first day. When Mme Toniolo called out his name during roll call, he said in a clear strong voice, "Ici!". He also understood, even though she spoke only French during the instructions, that he was to colour the picture in crayons and print his name with a pencil on the page. I think he's actually going to learn French! Bravo!
Next week it will be Jack's turn to start preschool, and the day that both their schedules finally coincide and I drop them both off, expect a few more waterworks. Maybe I should make a Costco run to pick up some Kleenex...

A bientot!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Camping Our Way

I'm feeling a little bit guilty. What will happen the day our boys go camping with other people for the first time and they realize that what they have been doing up until then is pseudo-camping at best?

We set up our tent in Summerland last weekend for a brief 2-day trip. That's about all Mike and I can muster for our annual camping duty. Once we were all set up, Ethan said, "So when can we go to dinner?" See, the thing is that we prefer to eat at Boston Pizza in Penticton rather than cooking over a fire or even using our Coleman Road Trip deluxe stove with griddle plate and 42" legs. We watched part of the Ironman while we ate, and it was so busy that we weren't done until after 9 pm. The boys got their cookies for dessert but were not allowed to eat them as it was too late.

We all went to sleep in the tent as soon as we got back to the campsite, and although we didn't get much sleep through the night (I swear there was a mouse somewhere near my head), both of us were sound asleep when Jack woke us up by saying "Can I have my cookie now?" Ethan snored a while longer then we all wandered down to the showers. We had quite a relaxing day - Mike signed up for next year's race (with a 3-week opt-out option), we had coffee, went and played at the park, had a picnic, played baseball and frisbee, went to the beach and swam in the lake, read magazines, and made our way back to the campsite. We embraced the camping spirit a little by roasting weenies and marshmallows, then washed up and went to bed. Packed up in the morning before the 9:15 sprinklers started, and headed home. Phew - safe for another year!

Besides our camping excursion (can you really call it an excursion when you sleep on a queen size air mattress and use Calvin Klein sheets and duvet?) there is nothing much else to report this week. We got some clothes for the kids for fall, and I think we're ready for this Kindergarten thing. Next week you'll hear how the first days of school go!

Bye for now - Tamsin.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Time-Out Kids

When last I posted, Jack had lost 17 toys in the Flasher Wars. He now has zero toys left in his room. That's right - zero. My patience is wearing thin. Jack challenges me with every passing moment. He doesn't care one bit that his toys get taken away, or that he doesn't get to sleep with Blue Blanket when he misbehaves. And honestly, it's pretty frustrating. I have a premonition that he will be the Time-Out kid at preschool.

Ethan self-imposed a time out on the weekend. Jack was in trouble for throwing a ball in the house and hitting me hard in the head, so he was occupying the Naughty Mat for 3 minutes. Ethan decided that since he had WANTED to be the one who hit me with the ball, he'd better sit there and think about what he COULD have done. He found his own Naughty Corner and used his 4 minutes to create a song. It goes a-little somethin' like this:

"I am so Naugh-TEE,
Oh, I am so Naugh-TEE,
I am so Naugh-TEE,
Yeah I am SO Naughty."

Maybe that's the trick with Jack. Maybe I should just wait for him to decide when he needs a time out??? Yeah. Pfthht.

I think he's too smart for his own good. The other day, Jack slammed Ethan's door, which caused the baby gate behind Jack's door to crash down and jam Jack's door shut. We were all on the "good" side of the door, but still I had no idea how I was going to get in there. After trying for some time I figured I would have to crawl out Ethan's window and in through Jack's. The dilemma here is that if the children witnessed me in this cat burglar manoeuver they may take it upon themselves to try it sometime. So I thought again, and eventually by using a long twisted thin stick and sacrificing the skin on most of my fingers, I wedged and levered the baby gate out of the way enough to get my hand in there and get the door open. Well, later that night when Jack and I were fighting again, he decided the way to keep me out was to wedge the baby gate against his door. So he did. I did what any sane mother would do - I broke his door down. Well, the handle anyway. And the baby gate now resides in the garage.

We had my company picnic last weekend, and although it was raining, the kids and I had a great time. We mini-golfed a million times, took part in the relay races (egg & spoon, bean bag toss, ring toss, and sack race), and had great BBQ food. Also, I got to see a bunch of people I hadn't seen in ages, so all in all it was a lot of fun.

On Friday night I dropped the kids at Grandma Sugar's for a sleepover and I went to the movies. I saw Stardust, which I LOVED! It reminded me of Princess Bride - funny, sweet, magical. I had taken the kids to Susan's because I was volunteering at the Crescent Beach Triathlon. It was a good race, and I got experience body marking, crowd and car control, directing athletes as they came out of transition, and last but not least transition security to ensure nobody walked off with one of the athlete's bikes. I was happy to help out in all areas, as I am trying to build my sport volunteer portfolio in preparation for the Olympics. The more I volunteer, the better my chances at getting a good gig during the 2010 Winter Olympics. I will need more winter events, but I can get in on some hockey tournaments this winter and hopefully some other sports too.

Wow, I just thought ahead about how I will be AWOL as a mom for 2 weeks at least during the Olympics. Ethan will be 7-1/2 and Jack almost 6. I think I just shocked myself silly. Anytime I think ahead like that I can't even imagine what life will be like. Before I had kids, I always heard people say "they grow up so fast" but honestly it has really hit home for me now that I'm a mom myself. I guess I should be more positive. I have good kids and although I am frustrated (a lot lately) every difficulty proves itself to be just a stage.

Yours humbly until next week,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Family Wedding and a Family Fight

Jack and I had our first real fight yesterday. I have made a house rule - I think it's reasonable - that penises are only allowed out while in the bathroom. Otherwise, they must "keep the mouse in the house". I am tired of being flashed every time I turn around. You would think that I had told him he had to sleep on a bed of nails every night from now on. So right after I've informed them of the new regime, he pulls it out of his pyjama pants. I tell him that every time he exposes himself outside of the bathroom, I will take a toy away. Jack stands there in gunslinger stance, hand on his "holster". If he had spit tobacco out of the corner of his mouth, I wouldn't have been surprised! He then went into a routine of pull it out, tuck it away. I got madder and madder. There are now 17 toys in my closet. At one point I said, "That's four toys gone; want to make it five, Jack?" He replied, "Yes, and six after that." Ethan couldn't stop giggling. I didn't win; I just left the room after 17. For all I know he is still up there exposing himself.

We spent last weekend in Victoria and Sooke for Briana and Rob's wedding. It was a beautiful day, and everything went very well. I took the boys over on Thursday night, and on Friday we were joined by M&D, Mike, and the Cowdens. Briana and Rob spent the day in Sooke with Rob's family getting everything ready while I was in charge of the 4 little boys. We had a good time playing outside, building Lego and playing Candyland and Bingo. When reinforcements arrived mid-afternoon, I dashed downtown to solve some last-minute bridal party underwear malfunctions and to buy a new pair of shoes to go with my dress. Don't ask.

We all went to dinner at Boston Pizza - how happy were they to see a party of 14? and then the Lehns and the Cowdens went to the Marriott and had some apple martinis before calling it a night in our nice hotel rooms. Ben and Renee arrived to their hotel sometime that night. I met Briana at the hair salon bright and early with Starbucks in hand, and afterwards we went to get ready in my hotel room. Bit by bit (and according to the detailed schedule drawn up by none other than yours truly - quelle surprise!) everyone found their way to Three Acres, the property in Sooke. Briana and I snuck our way into the cabin to hide from Rob and before long, we started the wedding ceremony. It was a lovely outdoor setting and the ceremony was very nice. Rob rowed Briana away in a small boat up the coast to the reception site at his parents' home, while we walked the path joining the two properties. The reception was full of good food and moving speeches, and 315 photos later (Mike was responsible for the photography) Briana and Rob drove off to start their honeymoon. As we were all exhausted, we drove back to the hotel and crashed after dinner.

The morning after the wedding we dropped Mike at the Clipper to ferry over to Seattle. He flew to Houston that afternoon, and he'll be in LA after that. This is a 12-day trip, longer than usual, and I feel the summer slipping away! After he gets back, we'll take the boys camping for a few days and then school will be upon us before we know it!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

crazy nothing

You know those weeks where you feel like you have been running all day every day, yet at the end of the week you sit down to write - oh, let's say a blog or something - and you realize you actually have nothing to show for your week of chaos?
Yeah, it's been like that.

Ethan was in Dora and Diego camp all last week, just from 9 - 11:30 every morning. He had a great time, with new adventures every day. They did in fact manage to retrieve the swamp water from Swiper the fox, so if you were at all anxious about that, have no fear. The last day was Fiesta Friday, complete with Dora sprinkler set up outside, and we continued our fiesta when we got home. I had created a treasure map of the upstairs, and there were 4 books hidden. They each found two books, and had a pretty good time hunting. I realize they are still only 3 and 4, but I fear they may have inherited their father's sense of direction rather than my own infallible one. Maybe I should enroll them in Orienteering next so they can learn to read maps a little better! C'mon now!

My major accomplishment this week was finding shoes for myself for Briana and Rob's wedding. Great score at Aldo! It ranks as an accomplishment because I tackled the task with both boys in tow. Again following the treasure map theme, I got a Guildford Mall brochure and circled all the shoe stores we needed to visit. Ethan's job was to cross them off once we'd been there, and Jack's job was apparently to run out of every store at the precise moment I'd tried on a pair of shoes. If you've ever wondered how fast you can kick off new shoes and bolt barefoot down a mall, I have a boy I can lend you. It's great fun.

We got a lot done on Saturday, washing the decks and completely cleaning out the garage. This is a chore that seems to pop up every six months. It frustrates me to keep doing the same thing over again, but it is supremely satisfying to bring order to the chaos, and to get rid of the spiders...
After such a hard day's work, we took the boys to the Vancouver Canadians baseball game on Sunday. It was a "nooner at the Nat", which inexplicably is held at 1:05 pm. The boys were PUMPED to go to the game, but when they started asking when it would be over and it was only the bottom of the 2nd inning (look at me and all my new baseball terminology!) I got a little worried. A short trip to the bouncy castle, 4 messy hot dogs, and a bucket of popcorn solved that. Ethan especially was very excited about the game after that. One player hit a home run that cleared the back wall, and Ethan yelled "OUT OF THE PARK... YESSSSS!" It was too cute. Unfortunately, we spent the rest of the game trying to figure out where we had parked the car in relation to where the ball had soared over the wall. Would we be greeted with a beautiful baseball-shaped dent as a souvenir? Luckily, our car was unscathed which meant we could enjoy a nice BBQ at M&D's (aka Grandma Kittycat and Granddad) after the game. Excellent food, and a chance to catch up also with Carl, Ben and Renee.

E-man has been working through the "prep for Kindergarten" materials, and although I think Ethan is already at quite an advanced level, the one item on our list that NEEDS to be accomplished before September is "teach kids to wipe own bums". Now that Rabbit is out of diapers, I'm just so done with other people's crap.
And on that lovely note, I am signing off until next week, where I will bring you a recap of the wedding and our trip to Victoria for the event. Have a great week! - T.