About Us

There are four of Them: three girls and one boy, little stair-steps all. There are two of Us: best friends, co-parents and truly in love. The Six of us have epic adventures full of laughter and love, occasionally containing tears, but always together.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

It Doesn't Take Much

When I am by myself with the kids, I often get overwhelmed with the work that it takes to run the house. I let the cleaning and cooking take priority over sitting down and enjoying a book together or playing a game. It's a problem, I know. And it's worse when Adam is gone for long periods of time.

Today I was feeling particularly fussy about the layer of grime that had accumulated on the floor and so we spent the morning picking and putting. But the day was beautifully sunny and the outside was calling my name. We got to the afternoon and the only thing left to do was vacuum. But I was struggling to just leave it and take the kids on a hike!

Thankfully, good sense won and I parked the vacuum in the living room, job half done, and we went out. The children made sure I was thouroughly committed to my course of action by fussing mightily about going.

It was FREEZING (so cold that in spots on our hike the frost from last night had never melted) but beautifully sunny. We just drove to a little public forest on a hill and hiked around. Every kid had two turns to be the leader and decide where we were going.

It was fantastic.




On the way home everyone admitted they had a great time. "I didn't want to go in the beginning, but this was lots of fun!" - Elie


And when we got back, there was still plenty of time to finish the vacuuming and fold the laundry. Ahhhhhh.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nuhsuwee!!

That's "nursery" in Noodlespeak for those of you having trouble translating.

Today Noodle went to her first day of school!! She had been begging me to go to school almost since the Bigs began in Setptember. She talked about it constantly. When was she going to get to go to school? When? When? When? I wasn't ready. I just wasn't ready. But she was. So I called the school in the beginning of December and they said there would be no room until the spring. But she was still desperate and talked about it all the time. The new term started, I made an in person visit and surprisingly, there was some room.

I was totally unsure and she was completely sure.

She has been counting down the sleeps since last week. She has talked nonstop about what she would do, what she would play with, what fruit she would bring for snack and who she would play with. And today she woke up, got dressed and I took her into school. I picked her up to give her a hug and a kiss. She said "I'll give you a hug and a kiss and then you will put me down and leave and then come pick me up." A kiss and a hug later she was off and playing with a large doll house, no looking back.

I remembered a time when Elie was in five day and she asked me what I would do when everyone was at school. I replied that I didn't know what I would do, but I would be alone. She started to cry at the thought of me being lonely, which is not at all what I meant, but what her four year old brain could equate. Now that I'm here, I might be a bit lonely, maybe she was right.

It was strange to leave her, but not too lonely since Princess Elie has caught a virus and was home from school today. I was very happy to pick her up when it was time and she was worn out, but said she had fun. She cried a little from being over-tired, but I think she is excited to go back tomorrow. It's a weird paradigm shift - four in school.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sew, Sew Super

Elie has been invited to several birthday parties this year. The first couple she was more than happy to have me pick up something from the toy store for a present. But, of course, some unknown variable shifted and she became frustrated with not getting to pick out the present she was giving.

Truth is, it is downright impossible for us to get to a shopping mall during the weekday. There aren't many around and they are far away from us, relatively speaking. So I was a bit stumped as to how we were going to make time to take her shopping for a birthday gift.

A bit of quick thinking later, and some inspiration from my Nana, I suggested that Elie could sew her friend a pillowcase as a birthday present. This would solve the acquiring issue and give Elie some much longed for sewing practice. I did tell her she had to finish a school project before we could do this gift project and it was amazing how motivated to do a good job she became.

Today she (with a wee bit of mom-help) made a really cute pillowcase for her friend. She did a great job sewing. I am really proud!









Then, during dinner, she bit her pizza crust in a funny way and knocked a pretty wiggly tooth, all the way to needing to be pulled. She was being silly and telling me it hurt too much to pull, so I had her put her arms around me. I reached into her mouth and she didn't even know I pulled it. Thankfully, I convinced her to wait to put it under her pillow until tomorrow night. The tooth-fairy needs some brain storming time!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm a Little Nervous, It's My First Time

***It has been pointed out to me that this post is factually incorrect. I did leave the kids with friends of ours. But they were people I knew for a loooong time and very much trusted. So that's like family, right? I am thankful that those people were there to help us out and give our kids the support and care they needed when Dadam and I had to be somewhere else.***

News Flash: I'm a control freak. This Just In: The control-freakiness gets even worse about my kids.

Back when Elie was very little we lived in Colorado, where we had a host of extended family that I felt quite comfortable with leaving non-breastfeeding children with. Adam and I almost never availed ourselves of these lovely people just so we could go out, it was almost exclusively for things like doctors appointments. It wasn't that we didn't want to go out, it was just hard because for a majority of the time I was breastfeeding a child and you can't leave the na-na's with family, no matter how hard you try. When we moved to Virginia and had older children and older nurslings, we used to leave the kids with G-Daddy (Dadam's Dad). That was something I was completely and totally comfortable with. I'm not sure who had a better time, the kids or the GrandDaddy!

Now we are here and we have no family to pawn our children off on. It doesn't come up *that* often, but it is nice to have someone trustworthy to leave the kids with. We asked around at school and learned that one of the teachers lives just around the corner from us AND she has an 18 year old daughter! An interview later and MissFun was hired, as needed.

I honestly didn't think I'd *need* to use her while Dadam was gone, but....

Tuesday nights, Elie has Brownies. They go from 6-7:15! My plan had been to take Elie to Brownies and take the other three to hang out at the library for an hour of reading, change into jammies and pick Elie up. But, of course, I got selected for security duty the second week of term.

Security duty isn't hard; it entails sitting in ones car and keeping an eye out for anyone intending to do harm to a troop of Brownies. (I'd think the massive amounts of shrieking emanating from the scout hut would be enough to keep anyone away, but what do I know.)

Then my plan changed: I was going to make the three sit with me in the car, while Elie was inside doing Brownies. Cruel, no?

But Tuesday afternoon it occured to me that I could avail myself of our new employee AND everyone would probably be more comfortable in the long run. I checked and she was available. She showed up, kisses all around for the kids, and off we went.

I got about five minutes from the house and had a weird-out moment in my head. "I've just left my children with a relative stranger. She seems nice and attentive. I hope everything goes alright. My children are not with me! They are not with family! Have I done the right thing!?!?!?!?"

Brownies went fine, it was much nicer to not sit in the car with three over-tired, partially-bored kiddos. We got home and the three were all very excited about how nice and lovely MissFun was. Talia told me "She let us do whatever we wanted to!" And Leila promptly began to cry and say "I miss Miss Fun." And I pointed out that she hadn't even left the house yet!

It was a bit strange. And not something I'll not be doing *all* the time. But I am really looking forward to calling MissFun and having her stay with the kids while Dadam and I enjoy some adult-swim. I guess having a babysitter at ones disposal isn't all bad.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off

There's so much stuff swirling and whirling around my life right now. I'm finding it difficult to sort through and be productive. Somewhere in me, a little voice is screaming "hold still, do nothing, if you aren't moving the trouble will stop." But the rest of me knows that I've got to keep moving forward, quitting ain't the way to go.

Some of the worriment is short term hassle like the fact that I spent most of yesterday morning attempting to get a doctors appointment for my children who were covered in a strange rash. We ended up getting in and his diagnoses was just viral. But today, Isaac and Talia and Elie were all complaining mightily of sore throats. Isaac didn't even want to eat his dinner and is now moaning in bed. We'll just have to see how he is tomorrow, but barring a miraculous healing, my guess is we'll be back at the GP in the morning.

More short term hassle stuff includes the fact that Dadam is in Virginia until February, I've got some projects that *need* finishing (like our "holiday" newsletter/photo card - more like Happy Groundhog Day cards and some special projects cum gifts), and that the weather here has turned to icy/slushy/yuckyness.

Alright, I can deal...take a deep breath and just keep moving.

Then there are the bigger issues. I checked again with the Nursery about getting Noodle a space in and they called back yesterday to say that she can go three days a week, mornings only mind you. Yay! Sadness.... Yay! Sadness.... I just don't know what/how to feel. She desperately needs more interaction with her peers. She is.so.ready. She is ecstatic that she is going. She talks about it constantly. I will have three mornings a week all.to.my.self. What the hell am I going to do with all that time? It sort of leaves me sad and empty. I love her. I love her voice and the way she talks. I love her observations. And she's the last one. There are no more babies, no more two year olds, and I'm not sure that I'm ready to be alone. Then the rational side of me kicks in and asks "Do you *want* her to ACT like the baby? She is ready and letting her go to school allows her to be a *big girl*!" (her words, not mine)

Damn this bittersweet life.

And the last, possibly biggest, lump in my road right now is just that: a lump. My remaining half of thyroid is growing something. What it is, we do not know. I have had a biopsy and it was inconclusive. It seems that it would be a prudent course of action to have surgery and get it removed. Profane words. This surgery I will have to stay at least one overnight. How to balance GranEde and GranDude's schedule with the children's schedule and Dadam's schedule?!?!? How to get the whole freakin' thing scheduled without directly telling the kiddos yet because they are under a bit of stress already with Dadam being gone for so long? How to deal with the fact that it is probable that my cancer is not gone, that it is still growing inside me? And cancer kills people!

Of course, cars and airplanes and breathing kills people....perspective is important.

Bah.

If you are still here with me, through all my muddle, let's take a moment and focus on the sweetest parts of my life.

Leila calls her forehead her "head-first." Probably because I use the phrase "head-first" all.the.time. She also says "abwadawaga" instead of abracadabra.

Talia has gotten so good at reading. And she amazes me with her insightful, random questions.

Isaac had a brief run in with the kitchen cabinet and gave himself his first black eye, as well as two amazing eyelid scratches and an under eye scratch. We think the cabinet may have won that round; we aren't advocating a rematch.

Elie is having a hard time because some girls are making up scary stories about child-snatchers at school. She is very disturbed by these "reports" and is having trouble just ignoring them.

Right, life goes on. Happily and unhappily, the World isn't going to stop.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Do YOU Wear Sledding?

I sent the kids upstairs to get dressed so we could go outside and sled. Leila was taking a very long time.

"Leila, are you dressed to go outside?"

"Not yet."

"Do you need me to come up and help you?"

"No! I can do it"

A few minutes later, still no Leila had appeared.

And I started up the stairs to see what was going on.

As I got to the top, Leila said, "I'm dressed in my day clothes!"



Ummmm, ARGHGHGHGHGGGG!!!!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sledding Montage




Elie and Isaac on their way down.


Talia carries her pan to the top, while Isaac zooms by.


In this one, Isaac is standing at the top of our track.



She's the only one who wanted to sit still for a picture!

These were taken with my iPhone, so they aren't the best quality. I'll be posting some betters soon. And we're supposed to get more snow tomorrow night!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snow Much Fun!

Woke up this morning to ANOTHER two or three inches of snow. Yippee! We had some flurries on and off during the day, but there was sunshine, glorious sunshine, for most of the afternoon.

After lunch, we got all bundled up and went outside for more "pan-sledding". During the night, I had brainstormed several more items that I thought *might* work as stand ins for sleds. One was a foil wind-shield sun reflector (you know, the kind you put on the dash and in the wind-shield to keep the sun from beating in the car and making it hotter than an oven) and some heavy duty vinyl that I had purchased for a sewing project and still had some leftover.

So, we had three jelly roll pans, two square sheets of clear vinyl and one car reflector thingy. They all worked spectacularly! Over the night, the snow had refrozen and the new stuff had come down on top. We got the new stuff packed down and ended up with a sledding track that went most of the way down the lower garden. I think it was probably about 25 feet long! I even got some sledding in today, my butt does NOT fit into a jelly-roll pan.

The three Bigs got some amazing speed down the hill and had a really awesome time. They each figured out the physics of the pans and could position their centre (spellcheck would not let me spell this the American way. HA!) of gravity over the pan in such a way that they were flying down the hill. At one point, Talia hit something and her pan flew out from under her, became airborne, ricocheted off my knee and landed some four feet away. It was good stuff.

Leila enjoyed a slower pace, but figured out how to drag her hands and feet to slow herself. The grade on the hill is steep and even with no pushing, speed built up. She did digger out at one point when the sled stopped but she didn't. Of course, she was done with sledding before the bigs were.

But we all had a fantastic time. It was so much fun to be outside, enjoying our snow, playing with pans and laughing and laughing - all together.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wishes Do Come True

We woke up this morning and it was snowing. By the time we were eating our breakfast, I was having serious doubts about my ability to safely deliver the children to school. The snow was coming down very fast and very thick; we could not even see the bottom of our garden. I decided not to take the kids to school.

Then we got a very strange email from the school network. It said that attendance was "at your discretion." The school would still be open, but if parents felt like it was too dangerous then it was okay not to bring their kids. What a different way of looking at the situation! I've never encountered anything like that before. Usual drill in America is that the school superintendent makes the call for everyone. And we certainly don't have "at parental discretion" attendance. Happily enough, mid-morning we got another email saying school had been cancelled. And then later on still, yet another email saying that school was called off for tomorrow as well.

We got about six or seven inches of snow. It was a good amount and loads of fun to play in. The kids went out and play for a couple of hours and then I joined them and we played for another hour and a half more.

When we left Virginia, I went on a get-rid-of-it streak. One of the things I, stupidly, gave away were our sleds. I was told it didn't really snow much here and I was not sure we would live some place that had a good location for sledding. I was dumb. We have a fantastic hill towards the bottom of the garden. It is just the right grade for sledding; not too fast, but steep enough that sitting on something slippery will cause you to slide. And I had no sleds (or "sledges" as they are called here) for my kiddos!

After a bit of thinking, I went inside and grabbed some jelly roll pans. They were slippery and with a bit of logistical creativity, we managed to get some sledding in. Everyone was so excited to sled on "pans", as they all kept saying. I think it was more fun to do something silly with the pans than to sled, but whatever the reason, everyone had a fantastic time.

I was happy because we had a nice quiet day and I didn't have to rush around or make dinner in the slow-cooker. Tomorrow will be another quiet day, which I can't say I'm sorry about.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Post of Self-Pity

I'm feeling sort of down-in-the-dumps tonight. Dadam left today for five weeks. Bah. He hasn't traveled for work since May. It's the longest consecutive time he's been home since before Talia was born. Now he's gone. And it's not just one or two weeks. Nope. It's practically a whole half term of school. We've gotten the kids involved in after-school activities and lessons. We have school projects and homework and birthday parties. Bah. BAh. BAH.

I'm feeling lonely and isolated. I've not made any friends yet; I'm sure my hermit-like, anti-social behaviour isn't helping the situation. Dadam is a good friend to me. We hang out, he makes me laugh and we have a good time together. Now I have zero friends here. Waaaa.

I purchased some slow-cooker cookbooks, so that I could still be sure we are eating well and having dinner on the table when we come in from activities. The only thing worse than children who are being temporarily-single-parented, are hungry and tired children who are being temporarily-single-parented. Tonight we walked in the door at 6:25, dinner was on the table 10 minutes later and the kids were in bed by 7:30. Of course, my first choice from the slow-cooker cookbook went over like a lead balloon, but I know it was healthy and supposed to taste good.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get snow. Maybe it will be enough to close school, then I won't have to worry about slow-cooking tomorrow's dinner.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sweets With Legs

GranEde and GranDude found some adorable silicone cupcake holders. They have feet! After cooking the batter right in the holders, they can be decorated with silly faces. They are adorable and the kids have been excited about using them since they arrived.

One problem is that there are only four holders, which means whipping up a batch of cupcake batter (makes 24 cupcakes), when just a small portion is needed. So, I needed to wait until I had a reason to make 24 cupcakes.

This week we were invited to a New Year's Day open-house-potluck-event. Guess what I brought? Yes, 20 cupcakes.

Today we finally got around to letting the kids decorate their funny feet.





So cute and what fun!!

Winter Wonderland

Here in West Yorkshire, we were told not to expect snow. "Oh, it never snows here." When we got our first snow, people said "Enjoy it because this is sooo rare.".

We're now on our third snow of the season.

It hasn't been much and it mostly melts within a few days, but it is pretty and the kids love playing in it.

And now that everyone is old enough to go outside without an adult outside too, I like the snow even better.








Friday, January 1, 2010

Braidy Hair


Today I put braids in Leila's hair for the first time. Her hair is growing so quickly all of a sudden. She and Elie and Talia all had pretty braids in their hair and they all looked so grown up. I remember how it took AGES for Talia's hair to grow, now it is down to her bottom. And Elie has finally come back around to allowing me to do her hair; I'm sure she will swing back to wanting me to have nothing to do with the process, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Poor Isaac did say he felt a bit left out because he couldn't have any braids. But he has a flame shirt made by GranEde and GranDude, so it might even out in the end.