Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holiday happenings

Sorry I haven't been posting often. Mom and dad still have dial-up internet and I didn't want to be on the computer all the time either. We are really enjoying our stay. We had a big clan here for Christmas. We didn't win the furthest travellers award either. My uncle and family came from Medicine Hat, Alberta, a cousin on my mom's side came from Barbados and my brother's girlfriend came from Germany. Lots of laughs were shared as we exchanged gag gifts. But the biggest laugh came when we ran out of water right before my 6foot plus, huge cousin Everett was able to rinse off in the shower. Aunt Marj gathered about a cup of water from the water cooler and a kettle for him to finish up saying "we need more water, that is a big boy!"

The most heart warming moment was when Andrew proposed to Andrea in front of the gang. Yep, you read that right, it's official. Andrew and Andrea are fiances. We are so happy for them and didn't have to remind Andrew that Andrea is a great source of authentic German chocolate. He had a hundred reasons why he chose her above all others. We are so excited she will be part of our extended family. She is a ray of sunshine to us all.

The roughest part was that along with the laughs and love, we also shared a flu bug. I think everyone is about recovered. Myself and Dominique were two of the few who didn't catch it. Ivan was the first and most dramatic demonstration as he hurled all over himself and me while we were all playing games. Luckily dad has a carpet cleaner and we had changes of clothes for myself and Ivan, not to mention sympathetic family who all helped in the clean-up (and then got the bug themselves).

Dominique is growing up before our very eyes and Ivan astounds us daily with his learning. I read that he learns 8 new words a day. It shows. Since coming here two weeks ago, Dominique has learned to sit up on her own and has hurled herself out of her car seat on a chair when I turned around to get her food. She and Ivan also crashed out of my homemade sled (an old baby wash tub). Since then we've gotten the real sled out.

Saskatoon has changed since I've been here. It has grown and they've moved roads, but the sky is the same, the snow and cold are the same. It has been fun to be transported to other times while visiting or just breathing in the harsh cold (which has not been harsh at all by Saskatchewan standards).

Yesterday the trees and ground were shimmering with sparkling delicate frost. It could not have been more beautiful.

Have a happy New Year, from the snowy north.

Monday, December 18, 2006

So good to be here

Our day of travel was long, but went very, very well. Cute things: Ivan saying "bye bye" to everyone on the plane and all those people saying "bye" back to him. Ivan telling the airplane "ready, set, go" over and over as we were taxying onto the right spot on the runway before taking off. Not so cute thing: Ivan having had enough by the last part of our last flight and the ugly stares from a few people (which was countered by some lovely people who tried to help by playing hide-and-seek with him between the seats. Accidentally leaving with someone else's luggage. Uncle John took it back for us ;)

Ivan is sitting in the picture on a chair grandpa had made for dad when he was little. It's funny seeing all these things I had grown up around that are now true antiques and totally in fashion all over again.

We are enjoying time here in the snow and with family. It is just so good to be together.

Ivan says: "SNOW, WOW!!" almost everytime we go outside. Dad has reverted to childhood and is making an igloo (quinsy). We thought the guys were shoveling the snow. But when I went out, Ivan was getting rides on the shovel and dad had the igloo half built. It is very fun and beautiful. See the sun rise this morning from the balcony?

AHHHH, home sweet home. Family I love. A country that I've known, winter that is oh, so familiar and much missed. It's good to be here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

our packing day

We are so excited about getting to Canada tomorow and of course spent the day packing, doing last minute erands, saying goodbyes (Big Buddy got to come home from the hospital today) and trying to get the house clean some. Brian did about all the cleaning while I tried to pack and rest some (I have been fighting off a cold). Jenn called. It was good to talk although my mind was all over the place. It will be better just to be together. Tomorow--- yeah!

Ivan got right in on all the action. He kept repeating "Grandpa Ian, Grandma Ruth, Auntie John" (he hasn't gotten the aunties and uncles down quite right yet). He kept pulling out our two swim noodles and adding them to the bags. I guess he thinks we should swim while we're there, which we're not.

For the grand send off, I've got a couple of videos. I don't know when I'll get to post next, so I'll just load you up ;)

Dominique is loving rice cereal. Notice how she grabs at my hand to stuff the spoon in her mouth?

Ivan of course has to be in the middle of all the action. He just loves to help out.

Maybe he can carry a bag. I think I have way more winter clothes than I need for Texas and they wouldn't all fit into the luggage either. Maybe I need to downsize. I feel like we've packed the house, and we pretty much have. We have 11 items. 7 checked luggage including 2 car seats and 4 carry ons including a diaper bag. Uggg. We can't possibly have forgotten anything!

When going on a long trip, do you pack in advance or the night before? do you tend to over or underpack? Out of the four of us, who do you think has the smallest suitcase?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Coming home and leaving town

Big Buddy may get to come home tomorow, so we are really happy he is doing better and that he won't have to spend Christmas in the hospital. He hates being up there and I can understand why. I didn't like my short stints there when I had the kids either, people in and out, poking, prodding... But sometimes it is necessary and so I'm thankful it's there. It is a little hard leaving him here in Abilene. He has friends in town, but we have become family to each other. He understands about us needing to go and we'll call. I think the background conversation is hillarious in the video. We were playing go fish with some cards that had animals on them.

Here goes Big Buddy trying to spoil our child again! Super Nanny was on at the time, so I was trying to watch what she councelled for kids throwing fits or not eating supper. Yep- Ivan has a mind of his own and it's not always going the same direction as ours! I have noticed that he's also perfected a little manipulation routine. He uses a very sweet, soft and gentle voice when he's in trouble and says things like: "hold you, candy please and help me, mommy". It about breaks my heart! I just hate it when he has these fits, I know he's miserable. I know we are miserable when he's having them. Any magic solutions out there?

Some pics for your enjoyment.

We are doing laundry, running errands and tonight will look at some more Christmas lights and give the kids their gifts (plane entertainment is the theme this year- coloring book, writing tool, book, game).

I am so totally excited about getting to Canada and being with my family. We are expecting 21 for Christmas. It'll be a grand party. I'm so happy everyone gets to meet Dominique and get to know Ivan better and I know that Ivan will love all the extra attention. I also know it will be a time of mourning again together. In a way we have been so far removed from Gordon's passing and I know it will bring a new rawness when we see John and Jenn, the nursery, his baby book, his grave. None of that is bad, I'm glad we will get to be there. More than anything I've wanted to be there with everyone through this instead of just sending support and love from afar. But it will be hard some and joyful some and most of all vital- now more than ever.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dictionivary vol. 1

Sometimes Ivan is easy to understand. He is forming sentences and complex ideas. He showed empathy the other night as we were visiting Big Buddy in the hospital. The nurse came to check his blood sugar, but couldn't get enough blood from the first finger prick, so she had to do a second try and really squeeze on his finger. When she left, Ivan started gently rubbing Big Buddy's hand and said: "bite you?... I sorry". (Mosquitoes, bees and needles "bite" according to Ivan).

To help out my family, I thought I would list some vocabulary that they will need to learn to communicate effectively with Ivan.

hold you = he really means "hold me" that HE wants to be held by YOU
nana you = thank-you
help meeeee = a morph of help me and help please
dadda juice = chocolate milk or beer, but Ivan's only allowed the milk
geegee = Jesus
daw = God
shower first = I guess one time I said I'd shower first and ever since when I head to the shower, Ivan says "shower first"

We went to look at Christmas lights some tonight since Ivan thinks there is a party going on everytime we go somewhere at night time. It was so fun to hear his exclamations from the back seat. He kept yelling "LIGHTS!! MMMMMMMMMM Nana you!!" Using your nifty dictionivary above, you could interpret that he was saying thanks for the lights. He also kept telling us which streets to go down to find Nana's house. Her house in Houston is all lit up and I guess he thought we'd eventually find it among all the other festively lit homes.

Here are a couple of pictures from an ornament exchange party Dominique and I got to go to. These babies were all in their mom's while we did water aerobics together. When looking at the picture, Ivan was able to pick Dominique out of the crowd immediately.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

She stands!

Don't try this at home- oh, wait a minute, we are at home! I learned this trick from Dad. He would take young babes out of their overly trusting mother's arms and show the parents how their infant could be an acrobat. He explained that at a certain age, the baby has the strength to stand, but not the balance, so if you balance for them, they can stand up. Once they get older, they get scared and won't stand. I found this concept true when of course Ivan wanted a turn. He wouldn't let go of my arm and then my arm got tired trying to hold him. It was worth the laughs though ;)

What crazy things did your dad do when you were a kid?

Friday, December 08, 2006

She sits!

Dominique is very excited that she is learning how to sit up on her own. She's not real good at it yet. Doesn't it look like she is trying to tell us something? She is very talkative lately. She has this sweet little voice. I don't know how to describe it, but maybe I can get her jabbering away on camera some day.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mr Not So Helpful

Ivan has adopted a pretty horrific personality lately. He is whiny and jealous and screaming (constantly). Yesterday, he just wasn't feeling good (had a fever 101.8), so I give him that day, but it's been this growing thing of discontent. One person suggested it could be teeth coming in, but I didn't feel any. I think part of it is that he is trying to say more and more and I just don't understand it all. Also, he doesn't like "no". I'm not sure I've met a person who has liked "no", so I guess he's normal. He does seem to act better around others and in new situations, so maybe the change of scenery will help him become a little more bearable???

On a positive note. Ivan's favorite game right now is hide-and-seek. He likes to count and find people (with help, like them calling out to him). He's not very good at finding people. He looked for his daddy under one of Dominique's little blankets that was flat on the floor. I guess he thought daddy could just be ANYWHERE! He's not very good at hiding either. I'll hide him and as soon as the person is done counting, he jumps out and yells "Ivan, Ivan!"

Speaking of hide and seek... Ivan broke our closet door during a game of hide-and-seek that he was playing all by himself. When I told him he broke it, he got some tools and a stool and started pounding on it. Then instead of taking all those trips to return all the tools, he loaded them in Dominique's bathtub and pushed it back to their rightful place. I was pretty impressed until I saw all the little dents in the door to add to the broken roller.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Houston- prime time video

OK, I guess I have evidence. Here I was prompting him to say "Nanna house". Little did I know it would be his mantra for the next couple of weeks.

Somebody feed that girl! We started her on rice cereal and she loves it. She doesn't actually swallow it very well, but she laughs, smiles and thinks she's a real big girl. Normally meal time guaranteed little squeals of discontent, now we have laughter. I guess she just wanted to be a part of what we were all doing. Who can blame her?

What was your favorite food as a kid? Is there something you liked then that you don't like now? What has been a constant favorite?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blending in

I don't want to get into a debate about the advantages of Canadian culture over American, but American thanksgiving is way too close to xmas! I guess it did help this year since we are not going to Houston again, we just did xmas early. It's so sureal to me still to put out lights and decorations in t-shirts and sunshine, but I'll get my winter fix in deeper than deepfreeze cold Saskatchewan. I can hardly believe I'll be there in 10 days!!!! (insert cartwheels here)

One of my favorite memories from thanksgiving/xmas at Nana's and Pawpaw Terry's was Ivan and Nana each with a teddy bear, chasing each other while crawling and yelling out "snuggle bear, snuggle bear" throughout the house. I'm not sure what Nana was drinking, unless it was big gulps from the fountain of youth. The kids apparently smuggled the energizing, goofisizing spirit in and infected the grands. I love how kids bring out the zest and personality in people while lowering their inhibitions. This world would be way more fun if we all lived more on the high of youth.

I think my dad takes regular swigs and I like to think I've taken after him. One telltale sign would be that kids from the neighborhood often come over asking if I can come out to play ;) I usually can, especially if there is snow. Cancel school and work, let's make a snowman! Saskatchewan here we come. Dad and I were just discussing layout and construction for a quinsy (sp??) that's an igloo like structure for all you Americans who read this blog. Yes, we do live in igloos in Canada and since Mom and dad have a lot of extra company coming in, we'll have to make a whole new one to accomodate everyone.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Thanksgiving in Houston

Ok, so I still wasn't done sharing about our time in Houston, but we had to interupt the tales to bring the excitement of the snow before it melted and left a puddle of a memory on our lives. It's crazy to look over the pictures taken just a week or so ago and remember how warm and sunny it was in Houston, it's much more humid there and even rained. It reminds me more of Jamaica than Canada although we are on the same continent.

Ivan still cries when we come home and yells: "no, nanna house, back nanna" and points down the road to take us back to Nanna's. I'm not sure he realizes that she does not live accross town, but 6 hours away.

Nanna had to work a couple of days, so Brian helped put up christmas lights and the next day we went to a park (of course), but in Houston, there are tall trees! It was really very beautiful. They have animals too at this park that can be viewed through the fence: goats, deer, pigs, buffalo, ostridge...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dirty hands

Ivan liked the snow, but not the cold. Did I tell you my theory? I love snow and I figured that heaven would have warm snow, that way you could play in it and enjoy it for as long as you wanted. Ivan didn't just dislike the cold, he also got a little freaked out that the snow clung to his mitts. Here he is telling us his problem:

Later, even with his second pair of mitts, he kept saying that his hands were dirty.

On another note, I'm still so pumped that we are flying.

-no more worries about driving in ice, snow or snowstorms
-no more worries about the car not being up to muster (that was Brian's worry, I always think it'll do fine)
-no more concerns about how long it may take with two kids in tow (my big concern)
-we get an extra week to visit instead of traveling (it would have taken at least 3 days each way to drive, about a week in a car with two young kids)
-the kids get to have their first airplane ride
-seeing the world above the ground, in the clouds, where it is so beautiful
-seeing christmas lights from the sky, I got to see lots flying home for Christmas from Quebec

do you have an interesting flight story to share?

In adulthood, I discovered that flying is really so easy and convenient. As a kid, I thought it was ever so difficult, about every flight we took had some mishap. We've been on planes that have nosedived when the cabin pressure malfunctioned, we've had planes stopped for us as they were taxying off so that we could board, we've encountered packers strikes where it was a sea of people everywhere and of course, my parents were lugging us kids and the maximum allotment for luggage (2 checked baggages each, even though there was no way a 3 year old would need that much stuff, they were taking advantage of the allowances for gifts). My first flight on my own, I was terrified of all the things that always went wrong. Would I remember what to do for... But nothing has ever happened and I take it it will stay that way. Somehow mom and dad just had to keep things exciting, like flying wasn't enough in and of itself!