Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

The time is flying by. Of course a lot has happened since we got here. We visited with Andrew before he left for Germany,

welcomed my niece into the world,

had my aunt and cousin visit one day from Alberta

and are getting to know an African refugee that my parents are kind of foster parents for at the moment. She came to my parent's house the same day we did and is an energetic 10 year old who loves to play with the kids.

Speaking of playing, the kids have been working on a new igloo (quinzy) as seen here.

They found grandpa Ian's tractor, much to Ivan's delight, have been sledding,

playing darts, hide and seek and ping pong and are eating the relatives out of house and home. Dominique is seen here in one of her uncle Andrew's favorite hiding places as a kid. He would in no way, shape or form fit into it now, all six foot something of him, but it's the perfect spot for little children to get lost in a game or in their imaginations. I think mom has had this end table since before she was married.

Today it's Christmas and we opened gifts first at mom and dad's, then at Auntie Jenn's and uncle John's. Later, we are headed to John's parents for Christmas dinner. Most of the family is napping right now. Imogen Grace Wallace, my precious gorgeous, growing niece is seen here with the clock I made her. Jenn and I made each other an ornament of the exact same picture of Imogen without knowing it and she made the kids something I have often dreamed of making for them, but have never done yet- a personalized ABC book. She made one for each of them with their own pictures. Incredible.

Brian and I celebrated our 9th anniversary on the 19th by going to a really sucky restaurant. The redeeming part of the evening was being able to be together without two little needy youngsters. The other awesome part is that my brother got us a gift certificate to the very classy restaurant where we celebrated our anniversary last year. So we can make up for the crappy meal experience with a much nicer one.

Dominique totally loves the baby and is usually within a foot of her if they are in the same room. She loves to say "baby", kiss, pat and hug her.

We are so totally spoiled and loved. May your Christmas be as merry and filled with the knowledge that you are a key part in the lives of those who love you.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I'm an auntie. I was going to wait for my sister to introduce her, but I see that dad already did. You can click on his blog to see the news,- I'm not going to get in trouble for blabbing first!

I will tell you that she's a girl and that my son guessed her birth weight. We went to the hospital Fri. morning early and spent the day visiting. Nothing started happening much until that evening, and then progression was sure, but slow. Sat. afternoon things started to pick up and by 6pm she was getting an epidural and her water was broken. About an hour later my niece was born.

I got to be there through it all. Brian stayed home with the kids for those 2 days and I got to be there the first moment of her life in the here and now. She is so gorgeous. I'll even admit that she is a prettier baby than my two. She has great coloring, beautiful features, perfect size, darling little voice, fabulous name... My two were like overstuffed uncooked pastries. I called them neon-white. But they got more and more beautiful with time and so has my niece.

My sister is healing well and of course very happy. They are still in the hospital. Baby is doing great, but may be in the hospital a while yet. She is currently in NICU, because she has to learn how to regulated her own blood sugars without being influenced by her mother's diabetes. It will take a little time for her to adjust- this is normal for babies of diabetics. Jenn is determined to breastfeed and has been able to start some, but it may take some work since baby has had to have medicine and formulae to ensure good blood sugar levels. We are all pretty beat, but in that zone of bliss, having lived through that miraculous moment and momentous occasion of welcoming a new precious being into our lives.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Home, again home again jiggety jig

We made it here after a long day of schedule changes. Our goal was to see my brother before he left for Germany the next day. Our itinerary had us arriving at 2pm after 3 flights, broken up with 1 hour intervals. Our marathon started with waking up at 4am. We drove to a friends' house who was going to drop us off. After this first stop, Ivan asked if we were in Canada yet. I'm afraid not we replied.

We got our luggage checked, one of which was just under the weight limit. Then we found out our flight was delayed an hour. They kept changing our departure time due to fog in Dallas. Even on the tarmac, they went back and forth- we're leaving, deplaining- leaving... We got to Dallas with less than 20 minutes to get to our next flight. They told us the wrong gate and we missed our flight by 2min. This was a good thing. We put on our pathetic faces and told them we had to be in by that afternoon and they found other flights on other airlines that could get both us and our luggage to Saskatoon around the time my brother got off work. Several other manipulations and pleadings occurred before the trip was done- the main part was that we got here. Ivan was telling all the Canadians about making quinzies. The first thing we saw on Canadian soil were an airport Starbucks and Chillies (a restaurant we have in Abilene).

But they have snow and family, both special delights upon our arrival.

The kids are outfitted in winter gear and have already been traipsing through the snow. Dominique doesn't like feeling like an overstuffed whale in her snow pants, boots, mitts, coat and toque, but liked the sled ride I gave her today.

Tomorrow my niece or nephew will come join our winterwonderland family celebrations. I'm so excited. He/she was moving and grooving in Jenn's belly today. Joy, joy, joy.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Almost time to leave

We are getting ready to leave. Here is Dominique helping with the dishes. She still loves to clean and is getting better at it. She's also real good at making messes and doesn't like to pick up, unless everyone else is too.

I think Ivan is ready to get to winter (I mean Canada). He sat down on the cement sidewalk the other day and said: "let's sled home". I had to explain that he was missing two key components, namely snow and a sled.

My two little monkeys.

I had asked Ivan and Dominique to clean up their toys and this is what I found... 80% of their toys strewn all over the floor and both kids in the toy box playing with the remaining 20%.

Saba and Dominique stand about nose to nose and I was trying to get a shot with them, showing they are the same height. Then Ivan wanted in the picture and Saba moved...

This was my christmas gift from Brian. We exchanged our gifts early so as not to drag them half way across the world with us. Our friend is an artist. Isn't it incredible? I think she really captured their spirits. We also gave ourselves a bunch of black and white prints Brian had taken earlier in the year, so now we have a wall overflowing with pictures of our little family.

The house is as clean as it's going to get. We're doing laundry and tomorrow will pack our bags. Our first flight leaves at 5:40am from Abilene, so we're going to bathe the kids and put them to bed in their travel clothes. I can hardly believe we will be there in just a couple of days!!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

some pics

Dominique helping make a salad.

The kids had put their heads together and it was so cute, so I told them to put their heads together again for the picture. Dominique understood it as put your hands together (we play that a lot so she can catch a ball).

Today I'm watching 2 extra boys- ages 3 and 8 months. We are trying out a couple of days to see if I can hack it with 4 little ones. The boys parents are looking for a new sitter in the new year- 3 days a week (albeit 10 hour days) for a very sweet compensation. Fri. when we met them I thought it would be insanity, but today has gone quite well. Thank God! I was getting pretty anxious about it over the weekend and have a slew of people praying about it. It has gone really quite well- as long as I keep everything in 3 minute segments!!

One week from now I will be packing bags and eating or giving away perishable foods. Yippee!!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More pictures from our first snowball fight of the season. Of course the season here is pretty scarce, depending on if we get snow again. Lucky for us, we will get our winter fill with nearly a month in Saskatchewan, Canada. We leave in a little more than a week! Incredible to think that is possible. I'm hoping it will be stellar weather like last year. Cold enough for snow to stay, but just barely. Do you see Ivan's snowball near Jaime's head in the first picture! What an arm. Isabelle and Jaime came up with the genius idea of first pumeling our melting snowball to its blustery end, then using the remaining snow as firepower. They even sculpted little snowmen on the light post. It was very wet snow.

Ivan and Dominique figured out the concept of snowball fighting very quickly. One could attribute this to the fact that they are part Canadian, or that children of ages 1 and 3 have a natural penchant for throwing things. They were especially excited by the fact that this game included throwing things at people- not generally encouraged with other thrown objects.

What's your favorite thing to do in the snow?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

not a baby anymore

My baby is not a baby anymore. We changed her crib into a toddler bed and she is so proud of herself that she can get out of her bed all by herself. It makes the night ritual both easier and harder. Harder because if she doesn't think she's ready to go to sleep, she gets up and walks out about 5o times; easier, because I can rub her back, or snuggle beside her or read books comfortably and send her off to la la land in a dreamy happy bliss of warmth.

Dominique is the most polite kid I know, if you measure politeness by saying "thank you". I tried counting how many times she said "thank you" in one day and lost count. She said it 3 times before we got to the breakfast table. I picked her up and gave her a kiss and she said "thank you". She handed me something and I took it and she said "thank you". And if I don't say "your welcome" immediately, she just keeps repeating "thank you, thank you, thank you", until I reply. So it all adds up pretty quick.

Then there are moments when I remember that she's not all grown up yet. I pulled her into bed this morning when I wasn't quite ready to get up and she was making nursing noises in her sleep. I haven't nursed her in over 4 months! It will be nice when she can use more words too. So far her solution to frustrations or misunderstanding is to scream.

Surprise, surprise!

Like I said, we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas as one at Nana's and Papa's. Of course, they showered us with gifts, but the last gift Nana gave Ivan and Dominique to open contained bike helmets. Ivan was so happy. He cried out "yeah, a bike helmet". Then when Nana brought out the bike, he was really shocked and dazed and held this beautiful grin of delight all night.

They took a few runs down the hall.

Then took them out to the dark street- where they both quickly learned the laws of gravity, incline and balance.

Now they figure anytime is a good time for a ride. Here's Dominique in her pyjamas. I'm sure they would want to take the bikes to bed with them if they weren't quite so bulky.

Papa calls Dominique "little Barbara". I wonder why.

While we were away in Houston, Abilene got it's first snow. Lucky for us, the second snow was only a few days away. When it snows here, it is cause to celebrate and play and enjoy it before it melts. I think I counted 6 snowmen on our block. We made a snow bunny- because I'm funny. Hey, if you can carve shapes in snow so easy, why just stick with balls?

The snow was perfect- heavy and wet. The next day it was gone, but thanks to our melting snow bunny, we hosted my children's first ever neighborhood snowball fight (Ok, so there were 2 girls, and my kids, but they are all from our neighborhood).

Dominique and Ivan thought it was pretty awesome to throw snow at their mom and friends.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The feast

Here is my artistic shot for the trip. I thought the look of Ivan and Nana making cookies looked so nostalgic and filled with warmth as seen through the mirror on the opposite wall. I figured out in the next shot how to angle it so that I wasn't in it, but they were moving too much and it came out all mush.

Ivan was all excited about the big feast. Who wouldn't? He was sitting at his spot way before guests arrived and wanted to know which was his fork and spoon. He was also very excited to get to have a knife.

In attendance were: Nana (in red) with her son and his family (ahem- Brian, Ivan, Dominique and Angela). Papa Terry and his daughter's family: Alex, Amy, baby Enzo, Christian (in blue) and Andrew (in yellow).

We played darts, which is a tradition. Alex had brought a new dart board that insulted us while we played. It could use real metal tips or plastic ones and kept score. It was very fun to play with. The real bonus though was that it meant there was an extra board for Dominique and Ivan to play on- at their level. They love darts! We need to rearrange our dart playing room and get back into this sport!

After much effort and a failed first attempt outside (Ivan's fault), Nana got her much wished for picture of her and her grandkids. This is the first good picture of them all ever. Ivan cried through years 1 and 2. Andrew wasn't much better. But they both seem to have matured some this year. Christian and Dominique have always been picture taking gems.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

2 in 1

We're back from our trip to Houston where we celebrated 2 holidays all at once, Thanksgiving and Xmas. These pictures are from our first day there. It was warm. Nana bought cyclimen flowers that the boys planted. Ivan got something planted on his cheek too. I wonder who that came from? He usually carries a set of lips on his face when he and Nana are together. Ivan was not at all impressed with the worms Daddy found. Dominique carefully smelled all the flowers, even the ones with no scent.

The cold front came in the next day. Apparently it snowed several inches in Abilene, so we missed our first snow (it only rained in Houston). We are now home and found a little patch of snow left beside the car. The neighbor told me we have a 90% chance of snow for tonight, so maybe we will wake up to a white morning outside.

Ivan spent the 6 hours of the drive home explaining all the reasons we should stay in Houston. It seems all those kisses, hugs, special attention, good eating, getting totally spoiled and opening gifts seems to have gone to his head. His only consolation was that we were bringing home his gifts. More on that to come...

Monday, November 19, 2007

to the barnyard in his cowboy boots

Ivan was given some pretty cool cowboy boots. He loves them. He's also been studying his baby Einstein video about farms. We aren't farmers, none of us have lived on farms. I tried milking a cow once and got two drops from the cow and a laugh out of my grandfather (he actually farmed, but his farm was a little far for us to visit- continent and oceans away in Jamaica). So I really can't say I know a thing about farming. And yet, Ivan has become fascinated with tractors, farms and his cowboy boots. He wanted us to take him to his barnyard. He didn't understand when I told him that we aren't all alloted a barnyard at birth. Has baby Einstein failed to teach our children a critical step in all the vast worlds they portray? Like the simple fact that: "Ivan- you live in Abilene, Texas and while you may hear a rooster on some odd morning while passing by city property, they aren't supposed to be there. We are by definition city dwellers".

Luckily, we have a friend who lives out of town and she has some animals. I don't think it would be considered a farm per se. Farms
do things like raise animals and food to eat. My friends have goat pets. She won't even eat their chickens, or turkeys, yet alone a goat. She has gotten to the place of allowing herself to eat her chicken's eggs. So, we are still a long way from any hands on learning of actual farming life- apart from those nifty little videos that is!

Also seen here is Big Buddy, our neighbor, who is lamenting the fact that we are leaving town tomorrow. Wait 'till he finds out we're going to Canada for a month! Yep, you read it right. Mom's booking the tickets as I type.

The big plastic thing is a birthday gift from another neighbor. It's a giant submarine and tons of fun.