Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The gift of love. The gift of peace. The gift of happiness. May all these be yours at Christmas and throughout the new year.

Much love from the Z family! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Grinch is Gone

I had a grinchy little post in mind a few days ago in which I planned to complain about all the shopping, wrapping, crowds and stress leading up to Christmas. But something kept me from pulling the trigger on that negative little gem, and I think I've figured out what it was. I was secretly terrified that I'd end up on Santa's naughty list. I also didn't really want to let on how stressed out I was, and I didn't want to be that woman complaining about Christmas. I really do love Christmas, but I just let all the work involved get to me some days.

Today I'm glad I didn't post all the grinchiness I was feeling a few days ago. Now that the shopping, wrapping, baking and assembling are done I'm totally ready for Christmas. I'm excited that my sister is here to spend the holidays with us in Newfoundland. I can't wait to see the kids' faces tomorrow morning. Brandon finally understand presents, and Kyle and Natalie can't wait to see what Santa brings. We even spent the day tracking Santa's progress around the world courtesy of Norad. Tonight we're off to Claire's house where we'll drink mulled wine and cider with spiced rum and taste our first real Christmas pudding.

Thank you, Christmas spirit, for finally deciding to show up! Now maybe I can work my way back onto the nice list before Santa gets here.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Seals Came Up With Shiny Boots

Last night was the Christmas concert at Kyle's school, and now that it's over I can admit to how worried I was. Kyle was one of four Kindergarteners chosen at random to have a speaking part in the holiday show called Holiday Zoobilee. He had his part down cold, but he's very prone to distraction, and I'd been anxious for him for the last several days.

I kept having visions of last year's 'end-of-school-year' performance where Kyle knew his lines but when the time came for him to deliver them he was staring, horrified, at the little boy off to one side suffering from a bloody nose. His teachers had to call his name several times before he heard them, and, sure, he said his lines, but the rhythm of the whole poem was thrown off.

Part of me wanted Kyle to do well last night just because I'd look like the parent that didn't practice his lines with him if he screwed them up. But I mostly wanted him to do well because he wanted to do well. Over the last few days he'd made a few comments like, "I wish Wednesday was done already!" and "I'm a little bit nervous about the Christmas concert!" I was terrified that my outgoing wild child had suddenly become too self-conscious and was going to freeze onstage.

There were a few dicey moments when I feared the whole thing was going to go up in flames. Early on during a song Kyle knocked his zebra ears off (I don't know why he was dressed like a zebra, but he was), but he looked down at them and just kept right on singing. Kyle was lined up in the very front row of the chorus right next to the biggest baby in the Kindergarten class, and this child spent the entire performance flailing his arms, turning around backwards, and making an overall nuisance of himself. Visions of the bloody nose incident haunted me, but Kyle just ignored him and kept right on singing. Kyle even lost a zebra stripe at one point, but he just bent over, picked it up, stuck it back on his shirt, and after a quick check to make sure the rest of his stripes were going to stay put he went right back to singing again.

It turns out that my anxiety was misplaced. Kyle walked right up to the front of the stage when it was his turn, and belted out his lines:

The seals came up with shiny boots that came out just your size. And the zebras have a stripey belt, that you will truly prize.

Don't ask me what in the heck that's supposed to mean or what zoo animals have to do with Christmas. But I was so anxious waiting for Kyle's turn to speak that I couldn't even pay attention to the show, and I still can't tell you what the zoo or seals with boots have to do with anything. I don't even care. My baby said his lines perfectly, and he was so proud of himself afterwards.

Today I'm just glad the whole thing is over. The only thing I can imagine being worse is the first time Natalie has to go onstage for something. If I thought last night was hard I'm going to give myself a stroke before Natalie's dance recital in May--or at least some very serious heartburn. I need to not think about that yet. Where are my antacids?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Five years old!

I am now the mother of a five-year-old boy.

Yesterday was Kyle's birthday, and last night when he went to bed he declared that he didn't need a nightlight any more because he's five. He was actually insulted when I turned it on--as if he hadn't used the darn thing every single night of the last five years. That fire truck nightlight was a baby shower gift that I used even in my own bedroom when Kyle was a newborn and we shared a room at my parents' house. I couldn't stand not being able to see him when he was sleeping--whether he was sleeping in his crib, in his swing, or, most frequently, on my chest. I've spent the last several years wondering when Kyle was going to outgrow needing a nightlight, and then he springs this little surprise on me at bedtime, and I had to pretend to be excited while I hugged him and tried not to squeeze his little body into submitting to my wish that he stop growing up so quickly.

Kyle couldn't be more excited to finally be five. He's always enjoyed his birthday, but this year he's been especially anxious because he's the youngest child in his Kindergarten class, and until yesterday he'd been the only four-year-old (his emphasis) in his class for the previous eleven days. It was killing him. I don't have the heart to tell him that in just a few weeks everyone in his class will start turning six. He'll find out soon enough.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the weekend's festivities. Check them out while I go try to figure out where the last five years went.

Yeah! Bakugan!

Kyle with his buddies, Neal and Ethan

The birthday party at the Geo Centre

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Awesome Weekend Turned Near-Death Experience

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a little bit. My weekend was awesome, and it did end with a harrowing aviation experience, but I'm not sure we were actually at death's door at any given moment. It just felt like we were about to die. It's been three days now, and I'm finally ready to discuss the ordeal.

I traveled to New York City this weekend with my Scottish friend, Claire, and we met up with our Texan friend, Jenn. We flew into Newark (oh, hated Liberty International Airport) on Friday morning, caught a cab into New York from Newark once we discovered the train bridge into NY wasn't working and our $15 train tickets were useless, and then much shopping, gossiping, sightseeing, eating, and drinking ensued.

We saw In the Heights on Broadway, and I loved it! It was a great show, and Jenn scored us a few awesome seats. Go see it if you're in New York.

We also went to check out the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, and we watched the ice skaters down in the rink. Claire and I felt obligated to comment on their skating technique and also on the quality of the ice since we're now expert ice skaters thanks to about six Monday night skating lessons.

We were highly amused on Saturday to learn that St. John's was expecting an impressive amount of snow during the day on Sunday. The idea of our Sunday evening flight being canceled and our husbands scrambling on Monday morning to deal with getting kids to school without us provided much entertainment throughout the day both Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday the snow started piling up in St. John's, and Claire and I kept waiting for our flight to be cancelled. I emailed Shaun. John (Claire's husband) texted Claire. Shaun called me. Claire called John. Instructions were given on the subjects of packed lunches, carpool arrangements, and uniforms. Still waiting for our 6 PM flight to be cancelled, we all boarded a train to Newark Liberty International, said good-bye to Jenn, and prepared for a long night in Newark.

Never in a million years did we think our flight would not only depart for St. John's but that it would depart on time for St. John's. I've never been on an airplane that didn't spend at least two hours on the runway in Newark before taking off. We were actually going to fly into the snowstorm and attempt landing in 100+ kilometer per hour winds? Seriously? Oh, no, we weren't going to land in that kind of wind. We were just going to fly three hours to St. John's and hope that the wind had died down by the time we arrived.

Now, readers, just guess what happened next. Did the wind die down enough for the St. John's airport to open a runway? No. Did we circle for thirty minutes in hope of the wind dying down? Yes. Were we then forced to divert to Halifax an hour and a half away? Yes.

We landed in Halifax and Claire and I thought to ourselves, "Oh well. At least we're on the ground. Now maybe they'll let us off this plane, check us into hotels, and fly us to St. John's in the morning." But guess what happens when an international flight is forced to land somewhere other than at the airport it was originally scheduled to land at. It creates a customs and immigration nightmare, and therefore no one is allowed to actually disembark from the aircraft. Upon landing in Halifax we were told that we would be sitting on the runway in our tiny little airplane (in our very special last-row seats which did not recline and were located right next to the toilet) until a decision was made to either return to Newark (NO!! Please, not Newark!!) or attempt flying into St. John's again (in a windstorm certain to knock our little Embraer out of the sky). Seriously? When they could have just canceled this flight hours earlier and we could have been snoozing in a hotel in Newark at that very moment?

The airline proceeded to spend the next three hours making this decision. When the pilot finally announced that we were going to try landing in St. John's again he also threw in a little, "Fingers crossed, everyone!" Yeah. That's what I wanted to hear. Whatever. At that point I was willing for the airplane to smack right into the side of Signal Hill if it meant I could get out!

An hour and a half later, we were approaching St. John's, descending through the clouds, our little airplane was being bounced up and down and around in the sky, and Claire turned to me and said, "I think there's still snow on the runway." I turned to Claire and said, "I think I'm going to vomit." I didn't actually vomit, but I've never been subjected to such a rough landing in my life. For a moment I almost wished myself back on one of those second-hand airplanes about to land on ice at the airport in Moscow. Almost.

Obviously, we survived the landing. We survived forty-five minutes clearing immigration and claiming bags. We opted out of digging my car out of the twelve inches of snow in the airport parking lot and hopped in a taxi. I rolled into my house at 5:12 AM, and when I walked into my bedroom Shaun sat up, looked at the clock, and said, "You have got to be kidding me."

Ditto that, Shaun. You have got to be kidding me. I have decided that I'm not leaving Newfoundland again until I'm not required to return. They'll have to repatriate us to the U.S. sometime in the next few years, right?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Want My Mommy!

Moms are really quite excellent people to have around--especially when you're sick. They check for fevers, administer Motrin, deliver middle-of-the-night drinks of water, refill humidifiers, offer you anything you want to eat in an attempt to get you to just eat something, and arrange for doctor's appointments (no small feat in an area overwhelmed by H1N1 and lacking a sufficient number of doctors).

Today I did all of the above for all three of my kids, and I did it all while feeling like I'd been run over by a truck.

I could really use my mom right now. I don't keep a working thermometer in the house--I can't ever find them when I need them, I swear they're always wrong, and I can tell with a touch if my babies are running a fever and how bad it is, so what's the point in having one? I discovered the flaw in this reasoning today. I have no idea when I have a fever. I wish my mom was here right now so she could tell me if I'm running a temperature. Then she'd probably bring me a snack, make me drink some juice, administer some Motrin, and tuck me in. Too bad she lives in another country!




You know what else my mom would probably do that would be really nice right about now if she wasn't thousands of miles away? She'd take the kids off my hands so I could get a break!

I might be thirty years old, but I still just want my mom when I don't feel well, so I'm trying to be as patient as I can with my own snotty, coughing, whiney little monsters, but can a girl get a break around here?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Houston, We Have Accumulation

Seriously, Houston. We have a problem. Can we come home yet? Because it snowed here today. It was only about half an inch, but it stuck. I don't know if I'm ready for this yet. Didn't it just stop snowing? I think I blinked and missed spring, summer, and autumn.


Time to dig out the snowsuits and snow tires.

Shaun, where's that remote starter for the car you've been teasing me with?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Laundry Police

Brandon not only looks like Shaun, but he also appears to have inherited Shaun's temperament. They're both easy-going, sweet and rarely angry. They both have a very quiet sense of humor, and it's hard to make them laugh. And they have both been gifted with a look that's lets you know just what they think of you when you do something stupid.

I get to spend all day, every day with a little carbon copy of my husband, and I usually find this endlessly entertaining, but I was never more annoyed by how much Brandon reminds me of Shaun than I was one day last week.

I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business and everyone else's on Facebook, and Brandon walked up to me with his arms full of clothing. He shoved them into my arms, yelled, "Clothes!" and ran back into the laundry folding/piling room (known as the 'formal dining room' to the rest of the world) to grab another armful of clean laundry. He proceeded to shove those little shirts and pants at me, too, then grab my hand and drag me over to the laundry basket and point to it yelling, "Clothes!" again.

Who does he think he is? The laundry police? Is my 18-month-old trying to tell me something, or did Shaun put him up to this? Shaun doesn't actually drag me to the laundry basket and yell at me, but the look Brandon gave me had Shaun written all over it. I could just see Shaun's innocent look and his passive, "I see you didn't get a chance to fold the laundry..."

I started to get a little defensive, but then I realized I could totally use this to my advantage. I'm going to teach Brandon how to fold the laundry. And then I'm going to teach Kyle to vacuum while Natalie does the dishes. Easy street, here I come.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Flashback

Halloween doesn't have the same draw for people in rural areas as it does for those who live in towns and cities. It's really a bit of a hassle to get all dressed up in your Halloween costumes to then climb into the backseat of mom's car, squirm around trying to buckle up around your Minnie Mouse or Dorothy dress and then attempt to stash whatever headgear, candy bags, and other accessories you'll need in the space under your feet. Trick-or-treating in the country isn't about running around with your friends, ringing doorbells, yelling and then dashing on to the next house. In the country, trick-or-treating is about being squashed into the car with your little brother while you drive from one end of the county to the other making occasional stops at the homes of various grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends of your parents. This was the Halloween of my childhood. It's still fun, and you still get a ton of candy, but it's not like the Halloween most kids experience.

I can only imagine, now that I am a mother myself, how annoying the entire ordeal must have been for my mother. Being the person responsible for loading these costumed children into the car, listening to the bickering between houses, trying to keep the make-up off the upholstery, and then having to make small-talk at every single house because you're related to everyone must have been less than exciting. Thanks, Mom, for putting up with all of that. You're much more tolerant than I am.

I chose to ignore Halloween until Kyle was almost three years old. We happened to be living with my parents during both Kyle and Natalie's first Halloweens, and there was no way I was dressing them up and loading them into the car to drive them around and show them off. Okay, to give myself a little credit, now that my parents live in Virginia there's really no one to show the kids off to anyway, but I bet I would have ignored Halloween anyway. I started ignoring Halloween around the age of 12, and I planned to keep ignoring it as long as possible.

Then Kyle started going to preschool. It is imposssible to ignore Halloween once your kids start going to some form of school. There are parties. There are parades of small children in very cute costumes. There are goody bags. Teachers and other little kids explain the concept of going door-to-door and collecting candy to your own children, and guess what? They think it sounds fun!

Then the truly unthinkable happened. It started to sound fun to me, too. It helped that we had moved back to Houston, the land of Master Planned Communities, and I wasn't going to be required to load anyone in costume into my SUV, but the kicker was my realization that for a few short years I was going to be able to dress my kids up however I wanted. The result: the pair of pirates you see below, circa October 2007.

The cutest pirates ever
That all ended this year. Kyle's almost five, and when you're almost five it's mandatory that you choose to be something other than what your mom wants you to be for Halloween. (It's in the Handbook, along with trying to talk to your mom while she's on the phone, trying to wear your slippers to school, finding all underwear jokes hilarious, and various other annoying habits.) Natalie dressed up as Jessie from Toy Story, Brandon was Woody, and Kyle agreed to be Buzz Lightyear until he changed his mind and decided to be a Power Ranger instead.

Power Ranger (Kyle), Monkey (Ethan), Jessie (Natalie), Cheetah (Elle), Woody (Brandon)
Believe it or not, Shaun and I were really okay with it. The advantage to Kyle refusing to go along with the family theme was that I was spared dressing up like Bo Peep. I was disappointed, however, that Shaun was also then spared from having to dress up like Mr. Potato Head. Sigh. That would've been awesome.

There's always next year. I'm thinking Peter Pan, maybe?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Enough with the Needles

Today was Brandon's last check-up with the Public Health Nurse until his preschool check-up when he turns four! My baby's no longer a baby. I'd say I'm disappointed that I'll no longer get periodic updates on his weight and height, but the fact of the matter is that he insists on weighing himself on my bathroom scale at least once a week anyway. Note to self: Perhaps you should be more careful to project a positive body image in front of your children and stop weighing yourself so often--even the baby's imitating you.

I feel like the health system here is taking chances by leaving parents on their own between the ages of 18 months and 4 years. The window of opportunity on early intervention in the case of developmental delays is completely lost by not deeming it necessary to see a child during that timeframe. Chances are that a child would see their family physician due to some kind of illness in those two-and-a-half years, but what if that doesn't happen? Natalie has been sick only once in her life, and it coincided with Brandon's birth around her second birthday, and it was a mild bacterial infection that cleared up with a course of antibiotics. She wasn't quite two-and-a-half when we moved to Newfoundland, and she hasn't seen a doctor while we've lived here. She hasn't been sick enough to warrant it. I guess we'll find out if she's developing on schedule when she goes for her check-up sometime after she turns four next April.

I'm happy to report that Brandon was deemed to be absolutely perfect at this morning's appointment. The nurse didn't use the word 'perfect', but I can read between the lines. She said at 18 months of age children are expected to know six words in addition to 'Mommy' and 'Daddy.' I'd say knowing eight times that many words, screaming "No! I go! All done!" while the nurse jabbed him three separate times with needles, then trying to put his own shirt on so that she can't jab him any more makes him pretty darn perfect. He also weighed in at just shy of 25 pounds, and he's 33 inches tall, giving him the perfect height-to-weight ratio (the nurse did use the word 'perfect' that time).

Despite my reservations about the lack of check-ups for the next 30 months, I'm pretty relieved to be done with acting as a human straightjacket to a screaming baby during immunizations. I'm done with the quivering lip upon sighting someone wearing scrubs. The confusion when the clothing comes off. The panicky crying that occurs on the baby scale (can they not think of a better way to weigh a squirming newborn/infant/toddler?). The outright shrieking and flailing when it's time to lay on the table for a length measurement (it's not the freaking rack, but you'd think it was the way my kids scream when a nurse stretches their leg out while I hold their head still).

The next time anyone in this family needs a routine vaccination I'll be able to explain what's happening, and there shouldn't be any screaming--just mild whining and protestation. Today wasn't just a milestone for Brandon--it was a milestone for me. You can just feel the sigh of relief, right?

Oh wait. Flu shots. Darn it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Proud

It's not often that my alma mater makes headlines, and it's even less often that RPI (aka Rensselaer Polytechnic Insitute) is featured on Saturday Night Live.

It all began last week with a directive from the medical director of RPI's health center, which inspired several articles much like this one found in the Albany newspaper, The Times Union, which included the following:

Your hands are washed and you're sneezing into your arm while you stay 6 feet away from anyone who looks sick. Now the H1N1 has another way to lay you low: no more beer pong.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is asking students to curb the sharing of cups after a group of students contracted the swine flu during a weekend of drinking games, according to Dr. Leslie Lawrence, medical director of the school's health center.

"While it might seem fun over the weekend, it will not be enjoyable when you and your friends are sick and missing class or midterm examinations," he wrote in a message distributed to RPI students and staff.

Waldman, Scott. (2009, October 13). Beer pong: unkindest cup of all? Times Union,, (accessed on October 19, 2009).
From there it was just a small leap to this little snippet on SNL:

Thank you, swine flu! I have always wished that RPI could get a little more publicity.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy

I think this first aired in February, but a friend recently posted this on her Facebook profile, and I thought it was worth sharing.

Funny stuff.

Friday, October 16, 2009

We Love Ballet!

Okay, so we don't all love ballet, but Natalie sure loves it. She prances around the house, constantly twirling and kicking, and while I don't love having to sit around the tiny little reception area at the dance studio entertaining Brandon for 45 minutes when he should really be home in bed sleeping I do love that Natalie loves dancing. As long as she continues to love it I will drag my lazy self to ballet class and sacrifice one day's worth of that most precious time to a stay-at-home mom--naptime.

Every member of the family knows how much Natalie loves ballet, but Kyle is particularly attuned to what makes his little sister happy. Not much more than a baby himself when Natalie was born, Kyle doesn't remember a time before his sister was attempting to run his life, push him around, and wrap him around her little finger. Kyle may only be four, but he's an expert at being a big brother, and he loves Natalie and Brandon with all of his impulsive little heart.

Every Thursday is library day for Kyle's Kindergarten class, and Kyle looks forward to Thursdays all week. He loves picking a new book, checking it out, bringing it home, and showing it off to all of us. I forgot that yesterday was library day, and Kyle didn't mention it, so it wasn't until I was unpacking his backpack last night and found a new book that I remembered. I was confused at first because this book was pink and had little girls in tutus on the front, and Kyle is an almost-five-year-old boy, and almost-five-year-old boys do not like pink. Or girls in tutus.

Then it dawned on me. Kyle picked out this book and brought it home for Natalie. My sweet little boy sacrificed his one book and his Power Ranger-loving pride to check out a book called We Love Ballet! for his sister. How cute is that?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's Going On?

I've been neglecting my blog for over two weeks now, as my mother so helpfully pointed out to me yesterday. There has been a ton of stuff happening that is totally blog-worthy, but I've been so busy just trying to keep up with everything that I don't have the time to blog--not coherently anyway.

I've also been entirely overwhelmed by the weather. It's been raining for more than two weeks now, with the sun making an appearance for approximately eight total hours in this two-week period. The grand finale to this two-week sogginess occurred yesterday in the form of freezing rain, sleet, and howling winds. Rain and wind weren't a big deal before I had children, but spend a few moments imagining me carrying Brandon in one arm, holding Natalie's hand with my other hand, herding three more kids across a busy street and then across a busy parking lot, followed by an attempt to speedily secure all of them in a mid-size SUV. This involves buckling five squirmy kids into two carseats and three booster seats and a vehicle determined to be just not quite wide enough. Now cue the drenching rain and blustery wind. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

When I woke up this morning there was a strange light outside the window, and I was confused until I realized that's what sunrise looks like when St. John's isn't entirely blanketed by clouds and the sun manages to peek through. The sun has been out all morning, and it even seems like the hurricane-force winds from last night have disappeared. It's pretty cold out there, but I'll take it.

Maybe now I can start blogging again. I hear it's supposed to be nice for a few days. Here's a list of a few things I probably should have blogged about but didn't get around to because of my laziness:
  • My mom and grandmother came for a visit to St. John's (It rained the entire visit, but I believe a good time was had by all--despite the extra night in Newark that Mom and Mom-mom were treated to.)
  • I did the Run for the Cure (Someone should have warned me that street of St. John's are a far cry from my lovely, hill-free treadmill, but I still managed to do the 5k in 31 minutes, so I'm fine with that for a first attempt at a 5k.)
  • We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving before Halloween seems a little strange, but Kyle had a nice four-day weekend, sparing me a few trips to school and, therefore, a few drenchings of the sort described above. Happy Thanksgiving!)
  • Shaun turned 30! (I made a cake. The whole day was about as exciting as my 30th birthday, which was spent primarily in the Newark airport. Shaun is having trouble believing he's 30, but this is alleviated by the fact that I had to turn 30 first. Happy Birthday, Shaun!)
I really hope to revisit some of these subjects, but don't hold your breath. The sun's out, but I'm still incredibly lazy. Okay, to give myself a little credit, it's not possible to be totally lazy when you're running around in circles taking care of a toddler, a preschooler, a Kindergartener, a house, laundry, the finances, doctor's appointments, birthday parties, snowsuit acquisition, vacation planning, and meals, just to name a few things.

I am, however, completely lazy for approximately one and a half hours each day during naptime--I'll try to allot some time to blogging between episodes of Dr. Oz.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natalie Goes to Preschool

I've put off blogging about Natalie's first day of preschool because (a) let's be honest, I'm lazy, and (b) it really didn't end up being that big of a deal. Compared to my expectations, the entire event was a breeze. I expected tears, but there were none. I expected to argue with my little princess over her outfit, hairstyle, and shoes for the day--but it didn't happen. I even anticipated a little showdown over my choice of Natalie's morning snack, but even that never materialized.

I know how independent Natalie can be at home. She won't let me help her with her shoes, her clothing, or her toothbrushing. She wants to do her carseat up by herself. She tucks herself into bed without any help--though a story and kisses are still required once she gets all covered up.

However, my girl has always been intimidated by new people and new places, and she's never been anywhere without at least one of her brothers to keep her company. At playgroups she's always been one to wrap herself around one of my legs and hide her face whenever someone new speaks to her. If we're in a store and someone approaches to tell her how gorgeous her curly hair is she hides her face and won't speak to them.

Last Monday, Natalie waltzed into preschool, hung up her jacket, changed her shoes, took her new teacher's hand, and walked right off down the hallway, pausing only to smile over her shoulder and give me a little wave.

I was amazed, relieved, proud, and just a little bit sad. The timid baby girl is gone, and an independent, serious little girl lives here now. I guess, in reality, it was a huge deal.

I'm not going to lie, though. The sadness was only momentary. It was a relief to know that Natalie was going to make the whole preschool thing easier for me by not crying. She's also made it easier than Kyle ever did because she's much more mature than he is, and I'll never have to worry about her being the crazy little class clown. It might be selfish, but it has also done wonders for my sanity to only have one toddler around for a few hours each week.

Now that Brandon and I have four mornings of alone time under our belt and Natalie has four mornings of preschool under her belt I think we're all satisfied that this is a very good thing for all of us. Brandon doesn't know what to do with all the attention. Natalie thinks it's great to have something that's all hers. And I have a feeling my shopping time has been greatly enhanced--you'd be amazed at how easy it is getting one kid in and out of carseats, strollers, and shopping carts!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Day Six

Shaun's traveling this week, and once again I just don't feel like blogging--or anything else. I feel like curling up in a ball, spending my days on the couch, rising only to feed the kids handfuls of crackers, and sleeping the days away until Shaun comes home. This doesn't actually happen. There are school runs to make, lunches to pack, meals to prepare, diapers to change, a house to clean, ballet lessons to attend, laundry to ignore, blah, blah, blah. I'm a suck-it-up-and-get-on-with-it kind of girl, so I don't give in to the desire to hibernate, but it's an effort.

I've spent enough time alone with the kids to know that four days is about my limit. I fly through the first four days like Supermom, and then I always wake up on day five feeling like I flew right into a brick wall or something overnight. No more Supermom--just Superslug, Superwitch, Superblah, or something along those lines. It did not help that day five of my current single-parenting gig coincided with Saturday. Saturdays are not a good thing when you've been entertaining your kids alone every morning, afternoon, and evening for four days and then suddenly have to entertain all three of them all day long.

Today is day six, and I'm done. I'm not playing any more games, I'm not doing any more laundry, and I'm not listening to any more knock-knock jokes. The kids can watch TV from now until it's time for everyone to go to school tomorrow morning if they want. I'm not even going to give anyone a bath tonight--Shaun will be home tomorrow, and he can just wash two days worth of dirt off of them when he gives them their baths.

And you know what else? We're having hot dogs and Kraft mac and cheese for dinner, and, come Hell or high water, these kids are going to eat it and like it! Supermom has left the building.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Knock, knock!

My children are obsessed with jokes. Knock-knock jokes. And I hate them.

Kyle: Knock, knock, Mom.
Me: Who's there?
Kyle: Boo
Me: Boo who?
Kyle: You don't have to cry, Mom! It's just a joke! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
Me: Good one! *smiles*

Natalie: Knock, knock, Mommy.
Me: Who's there?
Natalie: Natalie
Me: Natalie who?
Natalie: Natalie who dances like a princess and lives in a castle!!!
Me: Huh? Oh. Good one, honey. *shrugs*

Brandon: Knock, knock. Knock, knock. Knock, knock. Mommy! Mommy! Knock, knock!
Me: Who's there?
Brandon: Daddy!!!
Me: Daddy who?
Me: Yeah, yeah. I know. You love your Daddy. *rolls eyes*

At least they're funnier than most of the jokes Shaun tells.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

French Lesson

And now for a little follow-up to our geography lesson of a few days ago...

Kyle has French class on Wednesdays, and at dinner last night we asked him to tell us something in French. He was about to give us his usual "Bonne fête `a toi," but we interrupted him and asked him to teach us a different French phrase.

He looked at me and said, "Bo-zo!"

Shaun and I looked at each other, totally confused. It's not the first time Kyle has said "Bo-zo!" and insisted it was French. We joked that maybe that was French for clown? Perhaps Kyle was calling me lazy?

And then it hit me. "Bonjour!"

Bonjour probably sounds a lot like "bo-zo!" to a four-year-old. So much for Kyle learning to speak French.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Little Ballerina

I know. C-U-T-E. And she's all mine.

Today was the first day of ballet class, and Natalie smiled and pranced her way around the ballet studio like the little princess she believes herself to be. I expected her to be timid and shy, and she was neither. It was adorable. Little girls are so much fun!

Let's cross our fingers and hope the first day of preschool on Monday goes just as smoothly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Geography Lesson

The wind is howling, the rain is pouring down, my toes can't seem to warm up, and I know winter is right around the corner here in Newfoundland.

Before we went to the shore in August I told Shaun that I had a feeling it wouldn't be summer any longer once we returned to Newfoundland, and I was right. We've had a few warm, sunny days in the last two weeks, but the air has turned bitter. There's a bite in the air that constantly reminds me I'm sitting on an island sticking way out into the North Atlantic, closer to Greenland than Texas or Virginia.

I know you all have an idea of where Newfoundland is, but check out the map. Seriously, do you see how close to Greenland I am? Okay, I'm not in Labrador or Baffin Bay or anything, but it's closer to Greenland than anyone who likes being warm should live. I'm also aware of the fact that there are parts of North Dakota and Montana and a few other states that are farther North than we are here in St. John's, but I don't live there.

I live here. Here is where there are icebergs, whales, and Nor'easters. Here is where I've spent part of every day of the last thirteen months, excluding those days when I've been on vacation in the U.S., cold. Here is where I'm gearing up for a nasty winter since we had a very mild winter last year according to the locals. By 'gearing up' I mean that I'm making sure I have my socks, fleecy blankets, and tea kettle in easily accessible locations--I'm not actually going outside once it's October.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Second Day

Yesterday Kyle got to wear his 'everyday' uniform, as opposed to the first day's 'full dress' uniform. Pretty snazzy sweater vest, wouldn't you say? Variations of the everyday uniform will include long-sleeved white shirts instead of short-sleeved white shirts or an absence of the sweater vest altogether. Stay tuned for pictures of Friday's gym uniform.

I'm happy to report that the second day of Kindergarten seems to have gone as smoothly as the first. So far, so good. A friend and I have worked out our carpooling schedule, and full lunch service starts up tomorrow--that means no more packing lunch and half as many trips to the school! Yeah! Note to self: It's amazing how much time I spend trying to figure out how to get myself out of as much work as possible. I might want to stop blogging about that and focus more on how adorable the kids are. Maybe? Nah.

I think we've made a decent start on our back-to-school routine. Next week Natalie will go to orientation at her preschool, and then the following week she'll start heading off to preschool three mornings a week. That'll leave Brandon and I all alone to do whatever we want. I'm not sure either of us will know what to do with ourselves, but I'm looking forward to it. I see several trips to The Little Gym in my future.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The First Day

Check out the cutie in the uniform! I am officially the mother of a Kindergartener. It seems unreal. I'd say that I'm not old enough to be the mother of a Kindergartener, but we all know that I'm thirty now, so I guess I am old enough.

Whenever a milestone of any sort rears up in front of us I'm always glad that Kyle is my firstborn. He makes it easy to face new situations because he's fearless when it comes to meeting new people, and he'll go anywhere without me. This is a concern when I imagine horrible scenarios involving creepy men in beat-up cars driving by offering candy out of the window. However, this fearlessness is a relief at birthday parties, playdates and on the first day of school.

Kyle was the only two-year-old not crying at his first day of preschool two years ago. He even looked confused about why everyone else was crying when there were all these new toys to play with and it looked like these teachers were even into Play-Doh (something Mommy was not into).

This morning Natalie, Brandon, and I walked Kyle to his new classroom and watched as he walked right into the closet, hung up his backpack, and then walked away from us to go play. I even had to call his name two or three times to get his attention to tell him we were leaving. He looked over at me, smiled, waved, and blew me a kiss.


My baby's growing up.

At least I know to be entirely grateful for the kiss. In another year or two he'll be way too grown up to blow his mom a kiss on the first day of school.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Run for the Cure

It's on October 4th, and I think I'm gonna run. Maybe. I'm at least going to walk for the cure, but I just might run. I think I can do 5k. I can do 5k on my treadmill--or I could before I went on vacation almost three weeks ago--but I think it'll be a whole different story running on the road here in hilly St. John's. Either way I want to raise $250. Sure I could just donate the money myself, and I promise I'll be making a donation, but you know you want to sponsor me.

Click on the link below to go to my Run for the Cure homepage and make a donation.

Betsy's CIBC Run for the Cure Donation Page

I promise to provide hilarious pictures of me running to anyone making a donation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Little Ocean City Love

Most people are totally confused when I tell them we vacation in New Jersey. I can actually see their eyes glaze over as they picture scenes from the Sopranos and the New Jersey Turnpike. Ocean City is actually an awesome shore town with a great beaches, a boardwalk filled with pizza places, mini-golf courses and shops, a trolley that runs from one end of the city to the other, and a rare family-friendly atmosphere.

My grandmother used to take my brother and I to Ocean City for a week every summer as kids--and eventually my sister, too--and the city has changed very little in all the time I've known it. Ocean City is even where I introduced Shaun to some of my family for the first time--he and our friend, Scott, drove down to visit me when I was there with Mom-mom the summer after our Freshman year at RPI.

We just finished spending two weeks in Ocean City, and Shaun and I probably enjoyed our most relaxing vacation since having kids. Relaxation is all relative when vacationing with three kids, obviously, so rest assured we still struggled with all the usual drama--packing, passports, hours on airplanes, rental cars, room sharing, nap shortages, and endless trips to the bathroom--and a little extra drama in the form of two threatened hurricanes, a canceled return flight, and an overnight experience at the Holiday Inn Newark Airport. But my mom and dad, my sister, and my brother and his wife stayed with us the first week we were at the shore, and I swear it was total bliss having so many adults around to watch and play with the kids. Shaun's mom, grandma and Grandpa Jess also came down the second week, and they, too, made it easy for Shaun and I to get a little peace once in a while. I didn't cook dinner for the group even once thanks to the best mom in the world, and I only had to go to the grocery store once thanks to a brother who wakes up at the crack of dawn! It was awesome.

I am almost five years into this parenting gig, and I have finally determined the secret to having a good vacation--travel with at least two adults per child! Remember this.

Here are a few cute pics. Check out the rest of them on our Shutterfly site. Enjoy!

Mom-mom and B
Kyle loves his map
I can do it myself, Uncle Brian
Aunt Katie and the kids
Brian and Allie
I can do everything myself
Babci and B
Sit in the hole!
Get to work, Grandma
Mom-mom and Pop-pop and their (my) babies

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy 30th Birthday to Me!

I should never have taunted the Newark Airport the way I did. All that 'whatever' nonsense came right back around to bite me in the butt on Sunday. Sure, we got $2000 in airline vouchers, but it didn't really compensate for the hours spent in Newark and the lack of sleep because three small kids and strange hotel rooms don't mix. I think this year's birthday will end up somewhere on my '10 Worst Birthdays' list--you know, at the end of my life when I'm sitting around making stupid lists like that--just roll with the hypothetical list-making, people. I'm sure it won't be the Worst Birthday Ever. It was The Worst Birthday So Far, but I'm assuming something worse will happen at some point.

On a positive note, turning 30 really hasn't been as painful as I expected. It helps that almost everyone I know has already turned 30 and appears to have survived it. It does not help that Shaun is still 29, but his time will come in about 7 short weeks.

Oh yeah, and our vacation was awesome! I'll be following up with stories and pictures in no time. I swear. Just let me deal with these suitcases first.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I can't tell you how excited I am to be going on vacation, and I can't tell you how even more excited I am to have a direct flight tomorrow! We may have to fly into Newark, but there's no way for us to get stuck on the runway waiting for our flight to take-off from Newark if we don't have a connection! Hah! Take that, Liberty International Airport!

I know all the taunting could backfire, and we'll end up with a lost bag or a lost carseat or the mother-of-all immigration lines, but whatever. I know we could end up sitting on the runway in St. John's instead waiting for fog to lift or waiting for the flight crew to sleep off their George Street headaches, but whatever. I know we could get to Newark and after schlepping three kids, a stroller, two carseats, a booster seat, three suitcases, and numerous carry-on items to the rental car desk find that Newark's supply of rental cars has been depleted of all minivans, and we'd be stuck haggling over what inadequate piece of rental crap they'd unload on us instead, but whatever. I know we could end up stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike while the kids complain about how tired and hungry they are, but whatever.

Trust me, I know of all the travel mishaps that could arise. And I'm all too aware of the fact that when our vacation is done we do, in fact, have to fly out of Newark, where we will, almost definitely, be stuck sitting on a runway for several hours before taking off. But WHATEVER. Whatever, people. Because I'm going to the shore!! For two weeks!!

Take that, Liberty International Airport!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Man of the House

I think Shaun must have had some kind of pep talk with Kyle before he left on his business trip this week. Kyle and I just had the following discussion.

Kyle (in response to seeing Brandon chewing on a toy): "That's his second chance. He needs to stop chewing on that."

Me: "Oh, really? I don't think it's your job to tell Brandon what to do. Are you his mom?"

Kyle: "No, but I'm the man of the house."

Then he grinned at me.

You can imagine the eye-rolling that occurred.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We decided to go on a mini-roadtrip on Sunday morning since my MIL was in town and the sun was supposed to be shining (it wasn't actually shining, but the forecast told us it should be).

I didn't want to go too far from town since I still wanted to attempt naps at home in the afternoon. I also wanted to find somewhere to use my National Historic Sites of Canada Annual Pass since Shaun has been giving me dirty looks ever since I bought it--I thought of it as a nice charitable contribution towards our wonderful host country, but Shaun just sees all kinds of multiplication, division, and how we'll never visit numerous enough National Parks or National Historic Sites in the course of a year to justify the cost of the annual pass.

I scoured the internet and found what looked like a cute little town called Brigus less than an hour away which also happened to be home of Hawthorne Cottage, National Historic Site. Bingo. Take that, Shaun.

Poor Shaun doesn't realize that scoffing at my purchase of this Annual Pass has just guaranteed that he'll spend the next year being dragged to every flippin' National Park and National Historic Site on the entire island of Newfoundland. He's lucky that a trip to the mainland involves either hundreds of dollars worth of airfare or an hours-long ferry or he'd get to see a lot more of them.

While a small part of me turned the car towards Brigus just out of spite, I was excited to discover that Brigus is a sweet little harbor town with a beautiful church, a cute little tunnel, and Hawthorne Cottage. Hawthorne Cottage, it turns out, was the Newfoundland home of the 'famous Arctic explorer Captain Bob Bartlett.'

I know Bob Bartlett was famous because it said so on the visitor's guide, and there were letters written to Bob from other well-known people of his time hanging all over Hawthorne Cottage. I have to be honest and admit that I don't really recall learning about Bob Bartlett before Sunday, but that really could have been because I wasn't paying attention during a history class.

The house itself was fun to tour, the kids had a great time, and the gardens were small but beautiful. We also took a little walk around Brigus and admired all the tidy little houses nestled together and the amazing view from St. George's Church. Brigus was so cute that I may just have to go back for this weekend's Blueberry Festival.

Check out the pics. And wish me luck finding any and all obscure National Historic Sites!
Hawthorne Cottage

St. George's Church

View of Brigus and Harbor

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Monday, August 3, 2009

For the Record

It is now August, and I am officially retiring the Winter '08/'09 Snow Log. I know, Newfoundlanders, go ahead and laugh at me. I have probably just mother-of-all-jinxes jinxed all of us, but I'm freaking tired of looking at the thing. And it's time. Because we all know I'm going to have to break out a new one before the end of October anyway. So, here it is, for the record.

My Winter '08/'09 Snow Log
3 Nov. 2008 - 1/2 in.
4 Dec. 2008 - 3 in.
9 Dec. 2008 - 2 in.
12 Dec. 2008 - 2 in.
14 Dec. 2008 - 1/2 in.
18 Dec. 2008 - 2 in.
19 Dec. 2008 - 5 in.
22 Dec. 2008 - 1 in.
23 Dec. 2008 - 1/2 in.
31 Dec. 2008 - 1 1/2 in.
1 Jan. 2009 - 2 in.
3 Jan. 2009 - 5 in.
4 Jan. 2009 - 2 in.
7 Jan. 2009 - 2 in.
10 Jan. 2009 - 6 in.
12 Jan. 2009 - 8 in.
13 Jan. 2009 - 5 in.
17 Jan. 2009 - 1 in.
21 Jan. 2009 - 2 1/2 in.
23 Jan. 2009 - 1 in.
29 Jan. 2009 - 4 in.
30 Jan. 2009 - 1/2 in.
31 Jan. 2009 - 1 1/2 in.
1 Feb. 2009 - 6 1/2 in.
4 Feb. 2009 - 2 in.5
Feb. 2009 - 1 in.
9 Feb. 2009 - 1 1/5 in.
13 Feb. 2009 - 2in.
15 Feb. 2009 - 1 1/2 in.
18 Feb. 2009 - 8 in.
20 Feb. 2009 - 6 in.
23 Feb. 2009 - 7 in.
5 Mar. 2009 - 1 1/2 in.
7 Mar. 2009 - 1 in.
17 Mar. 2009 - 1/2 in.
21 Mar. 2009 - 12 in.
24 Mar. 2009 - 3 in.
25 Mar. 2009 - 2 in.
14 Apr. 2009 - 1/2 in.
30 Apr. 2009 - 1/2 in.
26 May 2009 - 2 in.

Total: 117 inches
Total snow day count: 4

This is entirely approximate. I'm not the weather service. My measurements are conducted from inside the house as I look out the window and estimate how much snow is piled on my back porch.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fun With Grandma

When I returned from NYC last Sunday night I brought a visitor home with me--Shaun's mom, Lois (aka Grandma)! I loved having her to travel with since it made the extra two hours we had to spend on the tarmac at Newark Liberty International (have I mentioned how much I love it there?) much more tolerable. I did not like having a witness to me spilling salad dressing all over myself on the flight, but therein lies the tradeoff to having a traveling companion.

Lois has now been awarded the title of Our First (and only) Visitor in Canada. I'm hoping the 'only' part will have to be rescinded soon. There are no guarantees, though, since once Lois returns home and the guest room (the couch in the playroom) situation here becomes public information no one else may want to visit.

The kids have been keeping Grandma very busy in the week she's been here. Princess performances are scheduled practically non-stop courtesy of Natalie, and attendance is mandatory for grandmas. Brandon is enjoying yelling 'Boo!' at Grandma every time he turns a corner and sees her. Kyle looked forward to forcing Grandma to play Wii until she beat him--now he just spends his time talking her ears off.

We've also been treating Lois to a sporadic tour of some of the local sights, including Signal Hill, Cape Spear (where she got to see whales, and where I also FINALLY got to see whales), the Johnson Geo Centre, Moo Moo's ice cream, George Street, Water Street, and Hawthorne Cottage in Brigus. Newfoundland has also been treating Lois to a little taste of what the weather is like here. I'm pretty sure she's seen it all (minus the snow) this week--rain, fog, wind, sun.

Thanks for coming to visit, Grandma! We sure are going to miss you when you fly back out on Wednesday. The kids are going to miss having you around to play with, and I'm going to miss having someone else around to entertain the kids while I'm doing important Facebook-related chores.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Return of SuperDad

While I was enjoying myself in New York City this weekend my husband happily donned his SuperDad cape once again. I'm in no way implying Shaun isn't a terrific dad every day, but anyone who has taken on the sole responsibility of a small child--not to mention three of them--for three days straight, with no relief, knows it takes a little extra preparation and patience to make it through with your sanity intact.

Here's what SuperDad did this weekend:
  • Dropped Kyle and Natalie off at The Little Gym, and managed to pick them up three hours later
  • Went grocery shopping with Brandon
  • Dropped shirts off at the dry cleaners
  • Put the trash out
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Took all three kids to the playground--twice
  • Changed the sheets on Natalie's bed when she had an accident--twice
  • Did laundry--at least twice
  • Made up the bed that Shaun's mom is sleeping in while she's here
  • Made up the bed that Kyle was going to sleep on while Shaun's mom is here
  • Stayed up late at night working on the all the stuff he would have been doing at work if he wasn't at home all day Friday
I was really impressed that my husband managed to accomplish all of the above.

I was also a little amused with Natalie for giving Daddy a taste of what it's like to have to change and wash sheets constantly, but I wish she'd done it in the middle of the night instead of during naptime--nighttime sheet changes are way worse than naptime sheet changes. I'm sure SuperDad would have handled it, but he would have been sleepy and annoyed.

Thanks, Shaun, for giving me a weekend away. And thanks for making it easy for me to go since I always know the kids will be well taken care of. Since you still maintain that staying home with the kids is more fun than going to work every day maybe you won't mind if I leave a little more often? Or how about we try a week next time? ;)

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Am SO Out of Here

Dear Kids,

Mommy has decided that she needs some adult time, so while you are screaming over your breakfast this morning ('Pancakes. No, a granola bar. No, yogurt. No, pancakes. But no syrup. Daddy, where's my syrup? I always have syrup on my pancakes.') I will be leaving for the airport where I will catch a flight straight to Newark and join a few friends for a kid-free weekend. I wish I could take Daddy with me, but someone needs to stay home with you little monsters darlings, and so far we have no other takers.

I know it's hard to imagine that I can survive three days without seeing your chocolate-smeared, sand-encrusted precious little faces, but I must try. For my sanity, I must try. I will do my best to drown my sorrow in gossip, shopping, and alcoholic beverages.

Please feel free to treat Daddy to all your usual annoying demands amusing habits.

I love you, I'll miss you, and I'll see you on Monday!

Love, Mommy

P.S. Remind Daddy that Saturday night is 'Game Night', and be sure to request Monopoly Junior. He hates loves that one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Baby Has Turned Into a Little Boy

I think it happened sometime this week. This would make the official age at which Brandon turned into a little boy 15 months. Why am I all of a sudden asking this question? Because following is a list of just a few of the things I've had to deal with over the past three days:
  • Brandon tried to eat a snail in the backyard. Until now he'd been sticking to sand and weeds, but now he's moved on to snails.
  • He climbed onto the dining room table, sat in the middle, and poured lemonade all over himself.
  • He painstakingly dripped every drop of milk from his sippy cup onto my couch (thank you again to the person who invented microfiber).
  • He came up from the playroom, ran circles around the entire house three times while laughing, and then went back downstairs. I think he was just screwing with me.
  • He has started shouting, "AAAAGGGGHHHH!" at the top of his lungs at random moments throughout the day, just for the reaction it gets.
  • I caught him sliding down the stairs feet-first, on his belly, as fast as he could make his chubby little belly bounce over the stairs.
  • When spotting donuts this morning he shouted, "I want dat!"
I cannot take my eyes off of him, he's tireless, he exhausts me, and he's adorable! My crazy little boy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Terra Nova Roadtrip | Days 4 & 5 Recap

or 'Gander Schmander'

First let me say that I mean no disrespect to anyone living in Gander, anyone originally from Gander, or anyone who has driven through Gander and believes it to be an amazing tourist destination, but I was not impressed.

We decided to spend the fourth day of our trip in Gander, however, there was only enough to do in Gander to keep us busy through lunchtime, and even that was only because we drove around for awhile trying to find something else to do in Gander other than visiting the North Atlantic Aviation Museum. We did visit the museum, and it was interesting but small, and my children have the attention spans of, oh, let's say rat terriers.

After our quick tour of Gander we decided to head back to Pinetree Lodge for our bathing suits before an excursion to Sandy Cove Beach. Sandy Cove was beautiful, and the kids had a great time playing in the sand and water.

Since this was the last day of our vacation we even decided to head back to the national park to go on a short walk after dinner.

Phew. Just writing about our trip tires me out. I almost wish I had something entertaining to tell you about our drive home the following morning, but it was fairly painless. We really did have a good vacation--the kids had fun, Shaun and I enjoyed seeing some more of Newfoundland, and I don't think it was any more torture than doing anything else with three small children would have been. Having said that, I'm really looking forward to our beach vacation in a few weeks because Shaun and I plan to throw ourselves on the mercy of our family members and let them entertain the kids as much as possible.

The End.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Terra Nova Roadtrip | Day 3 Recap

The saga continues...

Day 3 dawned soggy and overcast, but we're honorary Newfoundlanders now, so that didn't stop us from heading outdoors to do some hiking in the national park. We didn't see a single moose, but we did see some moose tracks and a waterfall. We also saw a playground at the beginning of our hike, which we were forced to stop at before we could hike to the waterfall and which we forced to return to after hiking to the waterfall. We also ate our lunch at this playground. I guess we should have skipped the hike and stayed at the playground since we also had to listen to whining about the playground the entire time we were hiking.

The same afternoon we decided to go on a boat tour of Newman Sound. Kyle and Natalie had a great time driving the boat and entertaining all of the eight other passengers onboard. Natalie proved to be a great helper, while Kyle was horrified by the sight of a squid. This is, by far, the most entertaining photo of our entire trip: Classic Kyle.


You can tell that the weather has been really nice for the last ten days--I've been neglecting this blog the entire time. The nice weather finally gave way to rain this weekend, but I had to make up for lost time and catch up on my laundry. I'll try to do better, but don't expect much over the next couple of weeks. A good friend is leaving to go back to Texas in a week, I'm heading to NYC to meet a few other friends this weekend, Shaun's mom is coming to visit, Shaun's going on a business trip, and then we head to the beach in New Jersey for two weeks at the end of August.

Prepare yourselves for continued neglect, but take heart in the knowledge that winter will return to Newfoundland before too long and I'll have nothing but time on my hands--blogging time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sooner Than Expected

We have an appointment!

I know you're thinking, "For what?!" I was thinking the exact same thing when someone from the Janeway (the local children's hospital) called this afternoon and said they had an appointment time for Kyle. I knew Brandon was supposed to get an appointment for his ear tubes surgery sometime, but what did Kyle need one for? I'm not always a fun mom, but I'm always an attentive mom, and I was wondering which ball I had suddenly dropped out of nowhere until I remembered Kyle's preschool check-up in March. We were told that the public health nurse would refer Kyle to an audiologist for a hearing test, and the nurse was sure they'd be able to fit him in sometime before he started school in September.

Good news. They've managed to squeeze him in later in July--six whole weeks before he has to start Kindergarten and only four months from when they referred him. Go socialized healthcare!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Terra Nova Trip | Day 2 Recap

Now for more of my Terra Nova tale... I'm sure the suspense has been killing you.

We drove to a tiny little town called Salvage where we hiked to the top of a hill to see this view:
We weren't planning to hike in Salvage, so Natalie and I were wearing flip-flops and shorts, and that didn't work out so well, but what else were we going to do when we got to Salvage and learned that the Fisherman's Museum wasn't open yet for the season? At least I remembered the bug spray. So what if Kyle got stuck on a branch and ended up knee-deep in some mud while Shaun and I tried really hard not to laugh at him? Those are the moments that make family vacations!

From Salvage we backtracked to Eastport Beach, where the kids managed to soak their clothing in ocean water that was about 45F. Sand beaches are hard to come by in Newfoundland, and Brandon was totally confused by the grainy stuff getting all over his feet.
After some lunch at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that served a very decent burger we made our way to Family Funland. We paid entirely too much for the kids to play some mini-golf (hit the ball as many times as they wanted and used their feet to kick the ball into the hole, Natalie) and look at about three rabbits (petting zoo), but Kyle and Natalie completely loved it.

After dinner we decided to head into Terra Nova National Park to check out the Marine Interpretation Center. There was a huge touch tank, and even more importantly, there were crayons. It didn't matter that we brought crayons with us on our vacation. It didn't matter that there were starfish to touch. My kids wanted to color! Shaun and I didn't mind because we had really only decided to head over to the park because we couldn't bear to spend the time between dinner and bedtime in our tiny little cabin with the kids climbing all over us. We even drove up to the top of Blue Hill while we were there to catch another stunning view.
It was a long day, but it was fun, and the beauty of this place we have temporarily adopted as home constantly amazes me. We managed to thoroughly exhaust ourselves--so much that we were sure the kids would fall right to sleep when their little heads hit their pillows. They did fall right asleep--after another battle exactly like the one from the night before involving hair-licking and feet. At least I was so exhausted that I didn't even notice Brandon's snoring when I finally got to put my little head on my pillow.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's Up With This Weather?

Um, check out the weather thingy to the right. Does that say what I think it does? Frost warning? Seriously? In July?

And check out the temperature. 7.8C. And now put that into the handy-dandy temperature conversion thingy I have provided directly below the weather thingy. 46F.

July 7, and I am freezing my butt off in 40-degree weather, and there's a frost warning for tonight! I swear if there's snow on the ground in the morning I'm leaving.

Terra Nova Roadtrip | Day 1 Recap

I have decided to pace myself as I tell you the tale of our vacation.

Canada Day dawned rainy and cool last Wednesday, and we decided to get our act together, put the kids down for their afternoon naps a little early and then head out to Terra Nova. We anticipated a 3-hour drive filled with the usual infighting and complaining, so in a fit of strategizing I had Shaun move Brandon's carseat to the third row of the TrailBlazer next to Natalie's carseat and put Kyle's booster in the second row. I'm pleased to report that this proved to be a brilliant plan in diffusing our usual Kyle-Natalie conflicts. What we did not anticipate was the nerve-wracking shriek that Brandon managed to perfect over the course of 3 hours and the fact that we would not be able to reach him to hand him sippy cups, snacks, toys and dropped books. Oh well. You wouldn't believe how loud the radio in my car can go.

We arrived at Pinetree Lodge, checked into our cabin, and decided to hunt down some dinner at a place called Whimsicals. The place and the crafts were adorable, but I'm glad I didn't know at the time that every restaurant we would encounter over the next four days would be the size of my living room and that the food would be about the same quality as what would have come out of my own kitchen--frozen then reheated, canned, or just plain ugly. What can I say? We don't eat seafood, and the other choices are a bit limited. But we didn't go for the food!

We went for the scenery, and we went to experience the joy of making Kyle and Natalie share a bed! And what a joy it was. From the very first night until the very last. Our cabin had two bedrooms, so Kyle and Natalie shared a double bed in one bedroom while Brandon slept in his portable crib in the corner of the bedroom Shaun and I were sharing. On top of late bathtimes and bedtimes it would take an hour of ignoring, scolding, pleading, and threatening each night for Kyle and Natalie to fall asleep. Why? Because Natalie loves to torture her big brother, and he makes the best kind victim--the responsive kind.

"Mommy, she's putting her feet on me."

"Mommy, she won't stop talking to me."

"Mommy, she's pulling my ear."

"Mommy, she's licking my hair."

Yes, Natalie was licking Kyle's hair--for no other reason than he found it particularly offensive. And every time we'd go in the room to ask her to stop she'd be on her side of the bed, curled up under the covers, eyes shut, her angelic face and blond ringlets oozing innocence. She's evil, and she's relentless. Every night we put up with this for at least an hour until she'd eventually tire herself out or Kyle would fall asleep, ending her enjoyment of torturing him.

Whew. Day 1 down. I was exhausted, but I knew we were going to have a great time the next day exploring the area and spending some time experiencing Central Newfoundland. I was ready to hit the hay so I could hit the ground running in the morning. I snuggled up under the covers, closed my eyes, and remembered why we moved Brandon into his own bedroom when he was shy of two months old. He snores--loudly. And breathes (a good thing, I know)--deeply. And loves to toss and turn in a Pack-n-Play barely bigger than he is. I eventually fell asleep with one thought running through my head... "It's going to be a long weekend."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Yeah for internet access

I know, I know. I have fallen off the face of the blogosphere. I can only apologize and hope you'll take pity on me when I describe the laundry and unpacking I now face in the wake of our five-day trip to Terra Nova National Park. Mountains and mountains of laundry--imagine three small children, the beach, a national forest, hiking, sand, mud, water, playgrounds, and more wet socks than you can count.

I had planned to blog from our vacation, but I quickly found that 'wireless internet access' isn't always as advertised when in Central Newfoundland. My husband and I both had our BlackBerries--his is the professional version, while mine is the 'you made me move to Canada, so now I want a BlackBerry too', pink, mom version--but they left quite a bit to be desired. There was one entire day when even the BlackBerries weren't working. By yesterday I was getting quite irritable at the lack of internet access. The cabin we were staying in was supposed to have internet access, but what we got was really just enough of a wireless signal to tease us five times a day into thinking we were about to have internet access only to be disappointed.

I can't imagine how my husband must have felt. I just wanted the internet to tend my crops on my Facebook FarmTown and to check my email (one of my friends was supposed to have a baby on Friday, people), but Shaun does real work on a daily basis, so I bet the lack of communication was much worse on him than on me. He handled it much more pleasantly than I did, but I think I may have seen his hands tremor more than once. And I know it was killing him to think of his fantasy baseball teams carrying on without him to check on them.

I promise to blog about our vacation in the near future, but for now I have to go check on my FarmTown. I mean, I have to go do laundry. Stay tuned for my upcoming Terra Nova blog posts.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Show week... yeah.

Kyle and Natalie had their last Little Gym class of the semester on Tuesday, and their class put on a little show for the parents. I was really hoping for a few good pictures and a nice little blog about how wonderful they were, but we're all going to have to settle for a handful of not-so-good pictures and an irritated blog instead.

The whole ordeal started out in a very promising manner. The kids all had to sit together on 'the big red mat' and introduce themselves. Kyle and Natalie were last in line, and when it was Kyle's turn to introduce himself he said, "I'm Kyle, and this is my sister Natalie." And then he put his arm around Natalie, and the two of them smiled sweetly while all the parents laughed gently and said, "Awwww!" It was nice. Here's a picture.
The show even progressed smoothly through the kids doing their individual tumbling on the mat.

Then the kids were asked to go sit along the wall while they took turns on the balance beam. Kyle wanted Natalie to sit next to him, so she did. But Kyle wanted Natalie to sit right next to him--with no space at all between them. Natalie didn't want to sit right up against Kyle, so Kyle started crying. This continued for 20 minutes. The kids moved from one wall to another to show us their tricks on the uneven bars, and still my children were fussing. Kyle would scoot up against Natalie, she'd get up and move away (smiling innocently so that no one but I knew what she was up to), Kyle would cry then follow her, repeat. Here's a picture of Kyle on the balance beam in between crying jags.
I tried talking Kyle down from the edge of the cliff that was his need to sit right next to Natalie to no avail. I tried asking Natalie sweetly to sit still to make her brother happy--also to no avail. I pleaded with them to be nice so the other parents could pay attention to their own children. I even tried asking Kyle and Natalie if they realized everyone was staring at them and wondering why this brother and sister (who were cheesily sweet to each other only 20 minutes earlier) had turned on each other. Nothing worked. I started ignoring them. The ordeal continued until the end of the 'show' when the teachers said the magic words, "We have milk and cookies for everyone in the other room."

Milk and cookies?! Milk and cookies, darn it!! Why didn't I think of saying there would be milk and cookies if they would just leave each other alone?! Argh.

I wish I could say I've never been more embarrassed, but that would be a lie. Not a week goes by when I'm not embarrassed by some aspect of my kids' behavior in public. But that was definitely the most embarrassed I've been so far this week... but then again, it's only Thursday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Terrible twos arrive a little early

Brandon really isn't interested in television at all, despite the fact that his brother and sister keep the television on in the playroom all day long, but he does like the opening song of the Backyardigans. He gets really excited and starts dancing whenever he hears 'we've got the whole wide world in our yards to explooooooore...'

Today we caught the Backyardigans coming on, Brandon danced, and when the song finished Brandon shot me the dirtiest look you've ever seen on an angelic little face, and started smacking the pillow he was sitting next to. I laughed and said, 'I didn't make it go off! What's with the dirty look? And you can smack that pillow all you want because it doesn't hurt me.'

I know--not an excellent parenting moment. Mockery isn't the best parenting tool, but I figured Brandon didn't understand a word I was saying...

Until he stood up, walked over to Natalie, and smacked her! And when I said, "No hitting your sister, Brandon!" he walked over to Kyle and smacked him instead.

I know it's terrible, but I was a little proud of the fact that he totally understood me! And then the responsible parent in me gave him a timeout. I believe the Best Baby Ever has discovered his evil streak. Fun times ahead.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Busy, busy

Did it matter to us that Shaun was away again for a couple of days last week and didn't get home until the wee hours of Saturday morning? Nope. Not at all. We hit the ground running on Saturday. We learned our lesson last weekend when it did nothing but rain, and we were forced to hibernate under our blankets for days on end. When we saw the weather was supposed to be gorgeous this weekend we decided to take advantage of some of the activities the City of St. John's was sponsoring in honor of the city's birthday.

Admission to the Railway Coastal Museum was free, so we started there, and Kyle got a chance to indulge his latest obsession--scavenger hunts. The railway museum was the starting point for a little tour of the city archives and Newman Wine Vaults called Windows on the West End, and at every stop on the tour the kids got to collect stickers to complete their scavenger hunt. Kyle took the hunt very seriously and managed to thoroughly entertain all the elderly individuals on the tour.

After our tour we decided to head to Mexicali Rosa's for lunch. The food isn't quite the Mexican food those of us from Texas would recognize, but the kids sure did love the tacos and quesadillas. I highly recommend avoiding the chips and salsa, however.

On Sunday we treated Shaun to waffles in bed in honor of Father's Day, and then we decided to head to La Manche Provincial Park for the day. We packed a nice little picnic lunch, loaded up the borrowed baby backpack, and drove down the coast. Once we got to La Manche we walked about an hour in and an hour back out to catch a glimpse of the falls.

I'm pleased to report that the weekend was actually a lot of fun, and not terribly stressful. I'm starting to see a light at the end of the toddler tunnel. It was so nice to be able to pack a few drinks and a few sandwiches and just head out for a little adventure with the kids. Every now and then I catch a little glimpse of how much fun it's going to be in a few years to travel the world with my little brood.

For now I'm just happy to have survived the car ride back home from La Manche having only threatened to stop the car twice. And even better than that--everyone stayed awake on the ride home and we got to enjoy a full naptime once we got home! I'm getting the hang of this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Salmonier Nature Park

The kids and I took a trip to Salmonier Nature Park yesterday with some friends, and we really had a perfect day for the trip. It was a gorgeous, sunny 75F. The animals weren't overly cooperative, and I was disappointed that we didn't see any antlers--on the caribou or the moose, but we had a great time on our nature walk.

FYI, Canadian geese are also called Canadian geese in Canada. Now you know.

We packed a picnic lunch, and spent the morning wearing ourselves out. It definitely paid off when everyone managed to sleep in a little bit this morning--7:15 is an improvement over 6:15 around here. Whatever, I'll take it.

Enjoy the pics!

Kyle, Ethan & Natalie
Come back!
Freaking owl won't look at me
I'm not sitting next to those boys!
The highlight--an arctic fox

Friday, June 12, 2009

Kindergarten bound

It's done. Preschool is finished for the year, and we have a long lazy summer stretching out before us with Kindergarten looming in September. Kyle's preschool concert was this morning, and we were treated to quite a little musical and rhyming display. Unlike his first public performance at his preschool's Halloween parade in 2007 (just in case you're wondering, pirates like to lay on the gym floor and pretend to swim while all the other characters stand sweetly in the line and smile at their mommas), Kyle stood up this morning, sang when he was supposed to, and said his lines like a pro. My baby's growing up.

We got to see some ABC aerobics, where Kyle had to make a fishy face...
And there was some dancing...
Kyle got to recite Little Jack Horner along with the other five boys in his class...
And he got a certificate from his teacher for finishing his year as a Junior Achiever...
It was a great show, and Shaun and I were so proud of our little man! Kindergarten, here we come!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trick question

'Circle all the things you can eat for a snack!' were the instructions on Kyle's worksheet. The options were: a camera, candy, birthday cake, toys, an ice cream cone, and a piñata.

Kyle quickly circled the candy, the cake, and the ice cream cone. Then he looked at me and said, "But can't you eat what's inside the piñata, Mom? Should I circle that one?"

I replied, "Good thinking, Kyle. That one is kind of tricky, isn't it? I guess you could go either way on that one. You can't eat the actual piñata, but you can eat what's inside."

Now, why on Earth would they give such an ambiguous choice to a small child? It's a freaking Dora the Explorer coloring book! They obviously don't know my son. My little perfectionist. This sweet little boy who is now going to agonize over whether or not to circle the piñata. This child who is so much like me in that way. (Can you tell I was agonizing over what to tell him? 'Circle the piñata. No, don't circle it. Maybe circle it in a different color to qualify that you can't eat it for a snack the way it is. Or just asterisk it, and write a little note at the bottom of the page that you could eat what's inside the piñata.' It was stressing me out.)

Oh, I have news for you, Kyle. It will only get worse. As you get older it's only going to get harder to figure out what the right answer is. Sometimes there is no right answer--just the answer someone wants to hear. And there is no end to the trick questions you'll be asked. It's going to be a hard lesson to learn, but I really don't know why Dora wants to drop it on you at the tender age of four.