Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weathering the storm

I'm not talking about a snowstorm right now.

I know that's what you were thinking... "Oh, are they finally getting a big storm up there in Newfoundland?" The answer to that is actually, "Yes." The weather forecast is calling for somewhere between 25 and 35 centimeters of snow between tonight and Monday morning, and I'm hoping this is actually it. Our first big snowstorm. I even went out this afternoon during naptime (that's right... naptime... sacred naptime) to buy some milk and bread. Not because I think we'll really need it but because with ferry being the only means of importing grocery items to Newfoundland you never know when the grocery store will run out of everything and not be able to restock the shelves. It happens. Ask Shaun when the last time he saw his favorite Wheat Thins was.

But today I'm talking about the snot storm that has blown into my house. The last time we were relatively snot-free around this house was Christmas day. I only know the exact date because I remember watching the kids open their presents and thinking to myself, 'Wow. No one's sick for Christmas. How great is that?' And then the day after Christmas my little Brandon woke up with a runny nose... a runny nose that hasn't stopped since then!! It's been 37 freaking days of snot around here. The snot has been accompanied by, in no particular order, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, fever, a bacterial infection, a double ear infection, teething, and now some combination of some of the above. The antibiotics have come and gone, and the only things that seem to have disappeared with them are the ear and bacterial infections.

Kyle and Natalie have also had runny noses on and off in these 37 days. Today everyone has a runny nose, and they're all coughing.

They're my babies and I love them, so don't take this the wrong way, but they're disgusting. If there's not snot running down their faces then it's all crusty and dried up on their noses. I can't turn around without seeing snot on the couch, snot on the decorative pillows, snot on the blankets, and snot on their clothing. We've gone through more boxes of tissues than I care to mention.

I try to stay on top of the snot. I really do. Laundry's not even making it off of the dining room table right now. It gets worn, washed, folded, piled on the table, and then worn again. I'd like to thank the inventor of microfiber couches because the microfiber wipes clean with a wet cloth and then dries, and you'd never know that couch had been covered in snot minutes earlier. I try to keep the kids' little faces clean, but the snot never stops!!

Now it's to the point where I almost can't leave the house. The minute I get dressed in the morning and come down the stairs Brandon will put his sweet little arms in the air, I'll bend over and pick him up, and he'll snuggle right into my shoulder. And then I realize he isn't snuggling at all but wiping his snotty little nose on me. Snot on my shirt, snot on my pants, snot in my hair. It's everywhere. I have to change my clothes before I can leave the house, and once I'm ready to leave the house I'll carry Brandon around like I'm terrified of him--my hands in his armpits, my arms outstretched, him facing away from me--so that he can't wipe his nose on my face. Some days he still manages to snot me. I went over to a friend's house a couple of weeks ago for a morning playdate and instead of changing my shirt I just apologized to my friend when I arrived for being covered in snot. (She understood--she's got young kids of her own.)

I know I shouldn't really be complaining about the snot since, in the overall scheme of things, snot is tame compared to some of the other bodily substances my children have covered me in over the years. But the snot storm just will not end around here! Is this what I have to look forward to all winter, every winter, for the entire time we're in Newfoundland? Or will my poor Texan babies get used to all these cold-weather germs and be hearty Newfoundlanders by next winter? Who knows. All I know is that this snot storm better end soon--before I start forgetting to check myself for snot when leaving the house.

Ahh, motherhood. Glamourous, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The first haircut

Natalie has never had a haircut--with curls like hers there was no way I was going to let someone touch them. Kyle had his first haircut when he was about 17 months old, and it was overdue--way way overdue. Check out these pictures:
Kyle Before

Kyle After

Hilarious, right? Shaun and I look at these pictures now and can't believe we let Kyle's hair get that crazy. But I was pregnant with Natalie and we'd just moved back to Texas, and then we had Natalie and were busy, and let's be honest, we thought he was cute.

Lately we've realized that the most noticeable thing in any picture we take has become Brandon's hair. The poor child has been cursed with no less than 3 cowlicks on the back of his head, and his hair literally stands straight up on top. With our previous haircutting oversight in mind we decided it was time to trim Brandon's hair. I did it myself, just like I did Kyle's first trim. There's no way we'd be able to get Brandon to sit still at a hair salon, and there's no way I was going to pay someone to do a really bad job of trimming a nine-month-old's hair--I'd much rather do it for free and have no one to blame but myself. Here are the results:
Brandon Before
Brandon After
Not too bad, right? It still stands straight up, but at least it's a lot shorter. And I forgot that a haircut was going to suddenly turn my baby into a little man! And as much as Brandon looked like Kyle and Shaun before, now he really looks like them! *Sigh* The first haircut. Another milestone. My little man's growing up.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Daddy's boy

Just a little status update on whether or not Brandon has said 'Ma-ma' yet: NO! He'll walk and say 'Da-da', but still not a 'Ma-ma' anywhere. I'm starting to think he's calling me 'Da-da', too. Or, more likely, that's just how I'm dealing with the rejection. ;) Either way, the boy is in love with his Daddy. Here are a few sweet pictures. (And I totally realize I'm posting tons of pictures of Brandon and not of Kyle and Natalie in the blog lately, but you try getting the two of them to stay still long enough to take a picture!)

Shaun and Brandon

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Late-January funk

Well, it finally hit. That late-January, Christmas-is-over, the-days-are-too-short, it's-a-long-time-until-Spring, and I-still-haven't-managed-to-organize-my-house-within-an-inch-of-my-life funk. Every year at this exact same time I start feeling my winter blues, and this year it's a little more difficult than it was last year. Last year we were in Texas, and in Texas winter means wearing pants and a sweater when you go to the playground--sometimes. Most of the time it's still warm enough without the sweater. If the sun isn't out it's generally lurking right around the corner.

In Newfoundland winter means you don't remember the last time you weren't wearing your fuzzy socks, every child needs at least three layers to leave the house, and you can forget having decent hair by the time you get anywhere with this wind! It also means the sun's presence is fleeting and deceptive. The sun will come out, but don't be fooled into thinking it's any warmer outside. I'm so tired of being cold. The snow and ice really haven't bothered me, but I just want to be warm again!

My winter funk is also brought on by the fact that all my new year ambition has disappeared. Sure, I've crossed a few things off of my to-do list, but there are many more items that I'm still ignoring. Oh well. The beauty of the late-January funk is that there's still a really long time until next year, so there's still hope that the to-do list will be a distant memory by the time December gets here.

All in all, this year's winter blues aren't so bad. We moved here only six months ago, but we've made some great new friends that help make time fly. The lack of sunlight is tough, but I'm thinking there must be some kind of fancy lighting I can buy to trick me into thinking I'm getting some sun, right? Oh yeah, and we're going to Florida in a few weeks! Mickey and Cinderella (not to mention the sunshine, warmer temperatures, shopping, and visiting with family) should be able to lift the winter funk, if nothing else.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The next toddler

Brandon has decided to start walking this week! He's not that great at it yet, but he sure does love to try. All day long I catch him crawling over to a piece of furniture, using it to stand up, and then he turns around and just tries to walk away from it. And if one of us sits on the floor he has to try walking to us. Once again, I'm amazed by what it takes for a baby to learn to do all the things the rest of us take for granted. Walking is hard!

Brandon just smiles and laughs the whole time he's attempting to walk. He's determined to follow Kyle and Natalie around this house. I think he's also gotten some inspiration from some of his little friends who walk around all over the place, and it drives him crazy that he can't keep up with them (you know who I'm talking about, Avery and Lily). If I can ever figure out how to get the video off my video camera without the software I'll upload some, but for now here are some still shots.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We have a tooth!

Finally! Brandon's first tooth has broken through his gums, and he's about to get all cute and funny-looking with tiny little baby teeth. I knew it was about to happen since he's been gnawing on anything and everything for about two weeks, and then I could feel the little bump under his gums. He's also been doing everything so far at the exact same time Kyle did as a baby, and Kyle's first tooth broke through the week he turned 9 months old. Brandon's right on schedule. I can't get a good picture yet since the tooth has only just barely broken through, but I can feel it when he chews on my finger--something he doesn't normally do but which must provide some relief to his sore little gums at this point. Stay tuned! You never know what milestone is going to be achieved next!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Our first snow day

I was so excited before going to bed last night because several days ago the forecast predicted we'd be getting 25 to 35 centimeters of snow overnight. Over the last few days they had changed the forecast to say we'd only be getting about 10 centimeters, but I was still looking forward to it. Ten centimeters on top of the 8 inches of snow we already had was going to be impressive! But then the alarm went off at 6:15 this morning, and I was startled by the fact that I hadn't heard any snowplows. What was going on? I ran to the window, and there was no snow! No extra snow, anyway. I was a little disappointed.

We went about our usual morning business until Shaun called me from work. He'd been listening to the radio on his drive in, and the morning show said that all the schools in the St. John's metro area were closed due to impending weather. How scary does that sound? Impending weather. Awesome! Oh wait. Does that mean Kyle is staying home from school, and our playgroup is cancelled? Darn. It's going to be like a Saturday but I won't be able to go outside. And Shaun won't be home. Kyle's first response when I told him that today was going to be a snow day was, 'Yeah! So I can stay home and play games all day?' The boy must have been born knowing what a snow day entails.

Now it's 4:30 p.m., and we had quite a bit of snow and wind today. I couldn't tell you how much snow since it was all blowing around. I just know there are some spots where I can see grass now, and then there are other spots where there are three-foot-high drifts. And now it has warmed up to a freakishly high 40F outside, so all this lovely snow is going to melt, compact, and refreeze into solid blocks of ice by tomorrow morning. And they're calling for 100 mile per hour winds tonight. There's even a wind warning. I can't imagine what that's going to be like. We've had some nasty wind here in the past, but there's never been a warning. It should be interesting to see what the wind is like when they have to warn you about it. Cross your fingers that we don't all blow away tonight!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rise and shovel!

St. John's is a pretty quiet city, for the most part. And we live in a neighborhood that is also pretty quiet. But you would not have known it at 7:30 A.M. this morning. We got about eight inches of snow overnight, and by 7:30 this morning, the sun not even up yet, there was a flurry (get it? flurry? hah!) of activity outside our windows.

It started around 5 a.m. with our snow guy clearing the end of our driveway so that we could get out of the driveway. By 6:30 a.m. the city snow plow had been through and cleared the road, blocking our vehicles in the driveway again. Oh well. Neighbors on all sides then began shoveling, snowblowing, and warming up their cars. Shaun went out to brush off the cars and clear a path between them. The neighbor across the street even brought his snowblower over to clear then end of our driveway so we could get out again. Thank you, neighbor-guy!

Don't ask me why most of the houses here don't have garages. I have no clue. We have a one-car garage, but our cars don't actually fit in the garage. Don't ask me about that either--the conversation will quickly go downhill, I'll get irritated, and the Jersey will start coming out in my accent. If there's anywhere on Earth where every house should have a garage large enough to fit two large cars, a snowblower, and two sets of regular tires (because the cars themselves are actually sporting their snow tires) it's here. But I digress.

I've never seen more morning activity in my quiet neighborhood than I did this morning. I think these Newfoundlanders are energized by snow. It's in their blood. And I have to admit, I almost wanted to be out there shoveling, too. (Almost. Someone had to stay inside supervising the kids and putting cereal and milk in bowls for their breakfast. Very important Mom stuff.) I think we've all been waiting so long for this first decent snow that everyone was anxious to get outside and get down to the business of a Newfoundland winter--snow removal! I can't wait to see what kind of activity Wednesday brings. We're supposed to get 15 inches of snow Tuesday night!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nine months old

My very littlest sweetheart is nine months old today, and I can hardly believe it. This has been the fastest nine months of my life. And not just because we've been busy with moving and a new baby but because time just continues to move more swiftly with every year that passes. Each of my children has seemed to grow a little faster than the one before. The irony of the situation is that while they're growing faster each time I'm also wiser to how quickly it passes and more anxious for them to just slow down and stop growing up on me! I can't believe Brandon's nine months old, but at the same time I can't imagine how we managed to live without him.

Brandon has the sweetest temperament and continues to be the Easiest Baby Alive. It really should be his official title. I'm not kidding. We've all been sleeping through the night for months and months. I'm really glad that he was my third baby and not my first because if I'd had Brandon first and then I'd had Kyle I'm afraid I would have lost my mind. Though, to steal a little of the credit, I think third babies know you're not afraid of them any more and tend to tow the line much more readily than first babies who can smell the fear.

And now Brandon wants to walk. Crawling and cruising are not enough for him. He's so ready to grow up and follow Kyle and Natalie around the house that he actually practices trying to walk. He'll stand up holding onto the couch, turn around, let go, and lunge. Once in a while he actually manages to get a foot under himself before he lands on his hands and knees. But he turns around, crawls back to the couch, and tries again. I've never seen anything like it. He's absolutely determined to figure the walking thing out. I give it a few more weeks before he's got it mastered.

He's holding out on me, though. Still no 'Ma-ma'. I'm starting to think he's messing with me. Every time I ask him to say 'Ma-ma' he grins and says 'Da-da' instead. I know when I'm being played. Brandon is so lucky that he's the Easiest Baby Alive because it's impossible for me to hold it against him. And I can totally appreciate an evil streak--he wouldn't be mine if he didn't have one.

Now he just needs to stop growing up on me. Well, first he needs to say 'Ma-ma.' Then he can stop growing up.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back to the grind

It's amazing how quickly Christmas just disappears once January hits. For all the build-up and anticipation and preparation that goes into Christmas, two weeks later it's over. Almost like it never happened. The entire season seems to start the day after Halloween, but by January 2nd it's done. And by January 8th it all seems like a distant memory--except for when I venture down to the playroom and can see the shelves are all a little more crowded than they were pre-December 25th.

This week has been all about getting back to the business of every day life. Shaun went back to work on Monday, Kyle's back in preschool every day, our weekly playgroup has resumed, and I'm back to ignoring the mountain of laundry that spends all day calling to me. It was nice having our two weeks of holiday, but it's good having things back to our typical routine, too.

We're even going to throw a couple of extra things into the routine over the next few weeks--Kyle's going to be taking Little Gym classes, both Kyle and Natalie will begin swimming lessons starting next week, and a friend and I have started swapping babysitting so that we'll each get some time during the week to venture out in public without kids in tow.

Oh yeah, and snow. We're adding snow to the routine. We're at the point where the snow has covered the ground and it's not leaving until springtime, so that means snowboots, hats, gloves, and occasionally snowpants, are also now part of the routine. Warming up the car before we can go anywhere and clearing the end of the driveway from where the snowplow deposited a neat little mountain of snow is also part of the routine. Shoveling the sidewalk to the front door and clearing snow from around the back door so that we can still open the door in case of emergency are also part of our new routine. It's great, all this snow. It should be really interesting what else is added to the routine once we actually get more than 5 inches of snow at one time. Perhaps school closures and power failures? Lucky for us we've also gotten to add sledding, snow angels, snowmen, and hot chocolate to the routine--which means all the other stuff is totally worth the trade-off when the kids are having a blast.

Anyway, I should get back to work. I caught Kyle sneaking downstairs from an abbreviated nap a little while ago, I hear Brandon starting to talk to himself in his crib, and the laundry isn't going to ignore itself.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sliding fun

That's right, it's called 'sliding' and not 'sledding' here in Newfoundland. I think we're going to have to call it sledding since it's almost impossible to overcome a lifelong habit. Anyway, we got about 5 inches of snow late yesterday evening, and then another 2 inches or so overnight. It's the single greatest amount of accumulation we've had so far this winter. The kids have never been sledding before today, and I really think Kyle and Natalie enjoyed it. Brandon--not so much. We have no backyard to speak of, but we have friends who live outside of town, and they have an awesome yard with an even more awesome sledding hill right smack in the middle of it. They invited us over this afternoon to do some sledding, and we had a great time. Here are a couple of pictures. The rest of them are on our Shutterfly site if you want to check them out.
Shaun and Kyle sledding

Ryleigh and Natalie sledding

Shaun and Natalie posing after their ride

Brandon watching the fun

The view from the hill

Friday, January 2, 2009

Neat freak

January is here! And so are all my usual January-type impulses to exercise, organize, clean up, throw out, and label. It's almost like I become an enhanced version of myself (with the exercise thing thrown in since the normal me would never exercise) for a couple of weeks, since we all know that I'm always a bit of a control freak and enjoy labelling and organizing things a little bit more than the average girl. I even took down all the Christmas decorations and the tree today. I was planning to leave it all up for another week, but I just couldn't do it. The playroom drawers and boxes are labelled, and all the new toys have their own spots. I bought a new shoe storage rack for my bedroom closet.

Next on my list are switching out everyone's clothing (this seems to be an endless task with three little kids--someone's always outgrowing one size or another), decorating the basement bathroom (I know, I know, we moved in 6 months ago, but I just couldn't bring myself to face the fourth bathroom after dealing with the other three), organizing all the closets in the house, and a ton of other things that I totally intend to get done before we go to Florida in February. Oh yeah, and exercising while I'm doing it all. I swear.

I figure I need to take advantage of this urge to clean and organize (and exercise) while it lasts because burnout cannot be far off. It never is. We'll see if I can manage to ride this wave of energy until the end of January. If not, at least the Christmas decorations have been put away and my shoes finally have a place to rest.