Monday, February 27, 2012

Celebrating Seven

We had a big party last night for the seven-year-old. We alternate between a friends party and a family party each year for each child; it simplifies things marginally, but it’s still a crazy time of year with all three kids having birthdays in a six week span. In hindsight, Dale & I could have been a bit more careful with our family planning. If I could do it over again, I’d make sure that each of their birthdays fell on warm, sunny, outdoor-party-suitable days.

Unfortunately, the warming trend has not yet made that possible for a February birthday, so we squeezed 30-ish people into our little house. We pretended it was summer and had BBQ’d burgers, salads, chips and veggies, and a beautiful cake for dessert. As usual, my niece Bailey made the cake; every year she takes it up a notch. Neve had asked for a flower cake and this one was classy, yet fun, and Neve loved it. She was thrilled with the whole party. Thanks to everyone who came and made her feel so special. It was a good time. We are so lucky to have lots of family nearby, and also the families of two of Neve’s best friends. The kids just soak up all this love and support and our lives are so much richer because of it. That goes for our more geographically distant family too - we are lucky to have you all. And all our friends and relatives and teachers and letter carrier and strangers on the bus. That’s my message of love for a Monday.

Neve was very worried and fearful this morning because her class was going on a field trip to the zoo. Her anxiety situation has improved a lot, but anything out of the ordinary still stresses her out. I normally discourage her from taking toys to school, but this morning I couldn’t say no when she tearfully asked if she could take her new Barbie (one of the gifts she got) to school to remind her of how much fun she’d had at the party.

That was supposed to be a cheery little wrap-up paragraph that showed what a success the party was, but I guess it sounds kind of sad. The good news is she ended up having a great day at the zoo, so I’ll end on that positive note.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


About eight years ago, Dale and I were quite happy with our million dollar family and thought that was the end of it. But little niggling thoughts and doubts began to take root and we couldn’t shake the feeling that a third little creature was meant to join us. We tried to talk ourselves out of it and came up with many good, legitimate reasons to stop at two. I really, really WANTED to not want a third child. But instinct was stronger than logic and within the year, Baby Neve was born.

Life would be different for me in a lot of ways if she hadn’t come along:

  • We wouldn’t have done our major house renovation, which means I wouldn’t have an anxiety attack every time I hear the word “renovation.”
  • If we hadn’t done our house reno, I wouldn’t have started a blog
  • I got to know people who are now some of my closest friends because they have kids the same age as Neve. I’m thinking specifically of my neighbour Karen (imagine life without our weekly happy hour) and Kristin (our boys are similar ages too, but the same-age girls really cemented the friendship).
  • I wouldn’t have a child in our neighbourhood public school, and wouldn’t have gotten to know so many great parents in our community.
  • We wouldn’t have a mini-van. If we weren’t still driving our awesome Sunfire, we’d likely have upgraded to a Ford Focus.
  • We would probably have gotten rid of all the toys in the house except for a box of guest toys and Spencer’s Lego. There would be no Barbies underfoot and Polly Pocket shoes lost in the carpet. The playroom would have been turned into a “media room” (whatever that is). Oh never mind, there would be no playroom without the reno.
  • There would not be 30 episodes of My Little Pony on the PVR.

And maybe I wouldn’t spend ten minutes a day searching for a stuffed puppy, but I’d laugh less, I’d get way fewer hugs and kisses, and life wouldn’t be as fun and colourful. She is almost always happy and positive, especially first thing in the morning. She overheard Chloe and Spencer talking about something their teacher said about if you fall asleep right when you go to bed, that means you’re sleep-deprived (not sure if I believe that). So the other morning she came to our room all excited and said, “Guess what? I’m sleep-depried! (she left out the ‘v’) I fell asleep right away and didn’t wake up until it was bright outside!”

As you've probably figured out, Neve turned seven today. She had a great day - she woke up to presents and balloons and freshly baked pumpkin muffins, wore a fancy new dress to school where she got lots of birthday attention and brought cupcakes for her class (the frosting looked awesome - wish I had taken a picture), fruit salad for lunch, more presents after school, Boston Pizza for dinner, and phone calls and cards from friends and family (thanks, everyone!). She felt very special and loved and was beaming all day long. She adds a spark of passion and energy to our lives and we couldn’t imagine it any other way. Happy birthday, Neve-Neve! We love you like crazy!

Displaying some of her seven-year-old wisdom and pointing out an error she noticed in the card Chloe gave her (Chloe left out a word).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Name dropping

I’m so happy it’s the weekend. That was a crazy week. I feel like listing everything I did just so you can all marvel at how amazing I am for fitting it all into one week. But I won’t. Well maybe I will. Okay, I’ll just list two things that were out of the ordinary.

The high school Chloe will be going to next year had an open house evening on Thursday. Both Dale and I wanted to go and it seemed complicated getting a sitter for the younger two, so they came too. There were free cookies and juice so it was actually better than most family outings we attempt. We were impressed at all the options available; it was exciting and terrifying at the same time. It will be a huge change from the private Christian school she currently attends. For example, her current school doesn’t have an LGBT display case. Nor does it offer archery as a credit course. I can’t wait to tell my carpool boy about that. Chloe’s eyes were as big as saucers the whole time. Spencer was captivated by it all and found it hard to tear himself away from the booths. He’s already chosen all of his electives for when he’s in grade nine.

As part of a leadership course I’m taking through work, I interviewed two community leaders this week for a book we’re putting together. This is very far out of my comfort zone. One of my interviewees was the premier, which I was very nervous about. I was worried that I’d gotten the interview date wrong, that my recording device wouldn’t work, and that I’d come across sounding like an idiot. Luckily it all worked out in the end; I probably did sound like an idiot but he was kind enough not to tell me so. I had to take photos of him as well, which was another thing I worried about beforehand, but he was a great sport about it. He was very nice; I just wish I had felt more relaxed. I had pictured us chatting and giggling and sharing secrets, ending with him asking – no, begging – me to be on a special citizen advisory panel or something. Didn’t happen. Probably because I sounded like an idiot.

My sister and brother-in-law are out of town this weekend, so my niece and the foreign student that lives with them are spending the weekend with us. I’m hoping to squeeze in a few fun activities between fencing, gymnastics, soccer games, meetings, and birthday parties. I need a colour-coded spreadsheet to keep track of five children’s schedules. But it's fun; my kids are delighted to have them here and I'm eternally grateful to Tia and Caroline for spending a large part of the evening playing a Lego game that Spencer created. It was complicated and intricate and some of the rules were made up as the game progressed. I was very impressed at the work and thought he put into the game, but I'm very, very happy I could admire it as a casual observer rather than a participant.

For the last few weeks, whenever I've thought of something that needs to be done around the house, I’ve said, “I’ll do it on the long weekend.” I would need a solid month of long weekends to accomplish it all. But I’m going to try. Happy Louis Riel Day to all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart attack

I’m one of those people who get sucked into the commercial hoopla of Valentines day. You can look down on me for the corporate puppet I turn into every February, but in my defence, we do absolutely nothing for Groundhog Day so it all evens out.

I’ve always loved Valentines day because it feels like a happy little red oasis in the middle of a cold, bleak winter month. The children love it too; so much so that they build it up in their heads all year until they remember it way better than it actually was. This year, I got a little stressed about pulling it all off and making it measure up to their expectations. Luckily they seemed happy, and even if they weren’t, it’s comforting to me to know that they are smart enough to pretend they were. My nieces have joined us the past two years, but since they weren’t able to make it today, we’re going to have Valentines Day: The Sequel sometime this weekend. Which is good because spreading it out like that makes putting up all those decorations more worthwhile and I’m pretty happy about having chocolate cake for breakfast twice in one week.

Tonight Dale and I are going out for dinner for the first time in many years. Well, we just went out for dinner on Sunday; I meant on Valentines Day. Usually we just order in and eat dinner once the kids are in bed. So this is a big step for us.

Happy Valentines Day, everyone! Spread the love…

(If you're not a fan of Valentines Day, the following comic is for you)