Wednesday, January 31, 2007

HO HEY- another post

Dictionivary- "ho hey"= OK

I want them to grow up. I'm excited they are growing up, but a little sad too. IWA and MIMI are becoming names of the past as our son graduates up to more mature pronunciations. We chose the names Ivan and Dominique because we liked them and they are so beautiful sounding coming out of our son's lips, but I had grown an affinity to his toddleresque "Iwa" and "mimi". For a while anyways, I can console myself that he's not all grown up with his "ho hey". Sometimes it does shock me how different new words make him sound. I asked him something to which he replied: "sure". He's always said "no" or "yes". Where did "sure" come from?

I wonder when he'll grow out of spinning. He's always loved to spin. If I say dance, he spins. Mimi, or I should say (with a sigh) Dominique likes to flap her arms. And no, she isn't hyperventilating. That is how she laughs, at least for now.

Monday, January 29, 2007


This morning Ivan was recalling how he and Nana did puzzles together, so I thought it was appropriate to post this video.

Ivan snagged the expression "small pieces" from one of his new favorite books: Angela's airplane (which crashes into small pieces). I recently switched out his books since I was getting dizzy bored reading the same ones over and over. Right away he asked where his book was, but he used his abbreviated name for it, so it came out: "where Angela?"

That was a funny question for me. Was it time to break it to him that I have another (non-mommy) identity?

Do you remember what your favorite book was as a child?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Far away

Every visit with family seems way too short and quick. Nana's are always the fastest trips, but we do get to see each other more often than the others. Ivan wanted to know where his Nana was since she left Sat. morning. Now he says: Nana house, go Nana house, far away!"

At least I'm thankful that we are in the era of cars and highways and airplane travel. When the frontiers populated the country it was goodbye forever. Then add the benefits of phones, e-mail, the internet and we can at least still keep up with each other.

We look kind of chilly at the park for a reason, it has been at or slightly above freezing here for a while and we went on a picnic lunch. Well, what else do you do when it's lunchtime and the darling grandson has been asking to go to the park for at least 2 days?

Ivan seems quite oblivious to the temperature when he's at the park. Of course, comparing to our Christmas, this is hot.

I do miss the snow and sunlight effects of the north, but it is nice to walk out the door with a light jacket and not have to bundle up.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Camera action

Brian got these cool shots of the kids. You can see them frozen in mid stride. Dominique was flapping her arms in excitement. I'm sure if she was a few pounds lighter (like about 15) she'd take to flight. She has recently learned to clap and is often caught between the joy and pride of learning something new and the surprise that she is making noise. Ivan was caught doing one of his favorites: running in circles. His modification of this is to spin in circles. When we dance, Ivan spins.

Everyone is real excited today since Nana is here. She makes everyday like xmas. Ivan was thrilled with gifts and new clothes, but most of all was happy to share his day and every single happenstance with his Nana. He is so happy that Nana eats and plays games and sleeps. They shared a room last night. Sometimes Ivan is easy to get down to bed. He realizes more and more that he is sleepy and will feel better if he gets some rest.

Ivan was pretty wild in the bath trying to impress his Nana. He pulled at Dominique a couple of times, splashed half the water out of the tub, getting Nana and me wet and invented bath basketball with his toys. I'm all for having fun, but I've discovered once you laugh once at something, it will be bigger and not necessarily better the next time!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In all our humaness

It's fascinating to watch the spiritual side to Ivan emerge. I was shocked to notice that he has developed a little special voice, head tilt and facial expression for those times when he is trying to swiggle out of a problem or into something he may not get. Manipulation at age 2! I know he didn't learn it anywhere. I was telling a friend about this and she said, you don't have to teach a kid to lie. So I guess what we have to teach is ownership, taking responsibility and making things right instead of hiding or trying to cover up his wrongs (and while we're teaching him all these wonderful traits, maybe we can learn it too!)

On the other hand, it has been a joy to watch him grow in acceptance and love. It's beautiful the way that he doesn't cringe around the elderly or people who are dirty or don't look quite like us. Rather he sees their acceptance and love and returns it. He doesn't think that Big Buddy is weak, but runs up to him and wants to sit in his lap or touch his face or be held by him. I've also noticed as we read books that Ivan will have compassion and emotion for the characters. In several books, when the characters are sad or alone, Ivan reaches out his hands to their picture and says "hold you" over and over in a tender, pleading voice.

This video is a combination of sweetness and narcissism. I missed the moment of spontaneity and sincerity when Ivan did actually go up to Dominique voluntarily and hugged her while saying that he loved her. Of course it was so sweet, I wanted to have it on camera. So I told him to do it again. He was glad to oblige because he wanted to watch it on camera. This is the third take. They got phonier as they went. But then you can imagine the time of true sincerity all the while admiring his drama skills! Notice how he runs back to the camera.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

the long and skinny

Dominique had her 6 month check-up. She's gained about 2 lbs since her last check-up in Nov to bring her up to: 15.6 lbs and 27 inches. As a comparison to others her age, she is in the 90th percentile for height and a little under the 50th for weight. In other words, she is comparatively tall and skinny. Well who would have guessed? ha, ha. Ivan did the exact same thing. Both were born chunky, but they slimmed down as they shot up in height. She got 3 huge needles worth of shots, I think 7 different "ingredients". She was a little fussy this evening so we gave her some infant tylenol, but other than that she and Ivan have both done great with shots and with their health. We are so thankful for that.

In the last week or so, Dominique has learned to clap. This is a fun age because she can sit up all on her own and play with things. She will entertain herself, but likes to have someone nearby.

Ivan is so pumped about Nana's visit. If we are about to eat, he wants to know if Nana eats too. Nana sleep? Nana coming! (wild cheering). He was saying Nana coming next week, now it's Nana coming two days (actually tomorow or the next, but it's hard to start new phrases).

What is also interesting is that he's also saying grandpa Ray and grandma Sue lots and those are the grands we didn't get to see this Christmas. I guess he's keeping careful tabs in his mind of all these relatives.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Learning to share

It's hard being first in the family, it's hard being second too! Ivan is navigating the difficult waters of learning how to share. It's not easy. He grabs anything and everything out of Dominique's hands and tells her "no" constantly. She gets angry with him, screams, yells and cries. Then I tell Ivan to give it back and say he's sorry. He gets upset wtih me, screams, yells and cries. Sometimes I think we are at the circus.

It's still worth it for all the tender moments and the joys, but it takes some work and a whole lot of patience to get there.

One transition that was easy was bath time. They both love having their baths together. Now that Dominique can sit up, we aren't as dependent on all the baby gear: bath, car seat, props... It makes life so much easier. Doing dual bath makes it twice as fast and mommy gets time all by herself, since daddy does bath duty ;)

Here is a video from their very first bath together.

Funny episode: Brian put up some shelves last night and when Ivan saw them this morning, he pointed to them and said "books sit down". It's totally hillarious how he will make his ideas known, not how I would have said it, but far more creatively and imaginatively.

Did you share baths with siblings growing up? When did you start having separate baths again?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

All about family

Ivan is all about family since we saw so many over the holidays. He's constantly talking about Grandma Ruth this and Nanna that. Nanna is coming for a visit shortly and Ivan's made a chant: Nanna next week! (with wild cheering). Today he's been on his play phone with her verifying her visit: "Nanna, next week?" he says over and over.

Here's a video for grandpa Ray. We told Ivan the card says "ray" and this is what he came up with:

And dad this picture is for you. It looks like you were right about needing a chair for each kid. Ivan is constantly putting his chair beside her's and saying whose chair is whose and wanting to rock together. Even with the stain colors being different, the removable pegs are almost indistinguishable. They are sized differently and along the edges you can see more red in hers, but both sides have a dark and a light tone that is very similar!

Friday, January 19, 2007

so fast

No wonder two year olds tire out adults. Who knew they could move at the speed of light? All our lives we hear that time goes fast and it is so true! So make every minute count!

Here are a couple of before and after pictures.

Has it really been half a year since she came into our lives?

Trying her hand at the computer. I'm sure both Ivan and Dominique will learn much more than what I know with technology.

Ivan loves to help and imitate. Here he was feeding what was meant to be Dominique's doll.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The hardest part

Of course the hardest part of Christmas was not having Gordon with us. This also made it harder saying goodbye as we left. The ties we have are so much more vital when we have a loss such as what we have experienced. Normally I would not have taken a picture with this composition, but I didn't want to tell Jenn to move to get a different shot. As it was, I think this picture came out with extra meaning.

We were visiting Gordon's gravesite. I hate to even write that. I hated driving up the lane and thinking that this is where we had to go to be near our nephew, or Jenn's place to be near her child. It's not fair. And while I write all that, I know it's not the truth entirely either. We all know it is just his body in the ground, that we all go that way eventually and that his spirit is alive in so many ways. We have embraced who Gordon is to us in all the painful experience of his quick departure and in the calm assurance that we will live this life differently because of his place in our lives and hearts and will spend an eternity together in the fullness of love and joy.

To me this is a pictoral allegory, it tells our story. Gordon's passing is a part of our common past, but we can not stay there, we must move on, in honor of who he is now, living life in it's most abundant state. We look forward to our future as changed people. As people marked by Gordon. The grave adds solemnity, but also hope, an anchor reminding us to live to the fullest and to keep what is most essential at the center of our lives. One of my favorite hopes is in Revelation "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

We don't ignore or hide from the pain of our past, but use it to delve deeper, to love more, to slow down and appreciate and live more fully, more abundantly, to grasp hold of our moments of lucidity, joy, laughter, love and tears and savor them for the richness they offer us.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The engagement

The newly engaged aren't going to post the video I so adeptly shot and they've given me permission to post it! That means I get to put my own spin on it ;) It was very fun to be there and the joy from the couple is plain to see. What I find hillarious is the action happening in the top right corner of the frame. It's a little dark, so I hope you can make it out. Mom was watching with rapt attention, as were all of us and I do believe she got the first glance at the ring too ;)

Also, I think I'm seeing a pattern:

Andrew & Andrea
Jenn & John
Angela & Brian

Either I was supposed to be named Briana, or Brian was supposed to be Angelo.

Mom does have a very nurturing side. Here she is feeding a bird from her hand when we went for a walk at a conservation area which boasts very tame birds. I guess we have all made it out of the nest ok, but who can blame us for coming back from time to time. The grub is so good ;)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy 36th!

Today is Brian's birthday. In celebration, all the government jobs take a vacation day (OK, so it coincides with Martin Luther King Jr's birthday- but we all know the real reason to celebrate!) Yesterday we invited tons of people over for a party and cooked and cooked. However, Abilene was dealt with some of the crazy weather affecting much of the continent. Here it translated into ice and lots of it. Still about half the people came and it was so good to just be together and visit and eat.

Saba the bad dog helped herself to cake off the counter in the middle of the night. I guess she wasn't satisfied with the turkey bones we gave her.

It is also Wynetta's birthday. Here she is with the kids, Brian cooking some chicken, sausages and beef strips (John you should have been here) and some pictures from the effects of the freezing.

Ivan was all excited to see that winter followed us here. He woke up yelling: snow, ice! When we gave Brian a present, Ivan also said: More? Where presents? I guess he thinks xmas just goes on and on too!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

picture perfect

Here are a few pictures that I thought turned out superb!

To me, this one looks like mom is not even a part of the picture, but right in front of me.

I love the effects of natural light. I think pictures with breathtaking skies or amazing light effects are the best. They are also the most difficult to capture on canvas.

This was a tender moment full of fun and it seems the light wanted to come in and play too!

I've got a cuddly son. He loves being held and loved having so much attention by the grands, aunts, uncles and cousins.

On a funny side note, Ivan is seeing people who remind him of family. He saw a man on the plane that resembled O'neil and kept saying: Where O'neil? O'neil sleeping? I finally told the man he reminded my son of my cousin. Then, Ivan saw a man he thought was uncle John. He had a lighter complexion with black curly hair in a pony tail and also the dark beard and mustache. He kept saying: "Uncle John" over and over. I don't have to guess when I say that he misses all of you and truly enjoyed his time with you. We did too and are so thankful for the time we had as family together for the holidays. Somehow the recent memories make you all seem a little closer.

Friday, January 12, 2007

slides and swings

The only thing Ivan didn't like about Canada was that it wasn't such a great haven for sliding and swinging. Yeah, there was snow and sledding and snow forts and one day at the park, he was in a swing all wadded up in his winter gear, but there weren't parks like he is used to. Uncle John was able to compensate for the lack, by demonstrating to Ivan a new way of sliding- down the stairs.

This became a favorite of Ivan and he was able to get grandpa Ian into the act (which did not take much coercion really).

Other rituals of Ivan's while in Canada included turning on the Christmas lights every night. He wanted to turn them on in dailight time too, but we'd make him wait until it was at least dark (about 4 or 5pm there). Then Ivan would dance up to grandpa chanting: lights, lights and happily hop, skip to their nightly task of lighting it all up (the tree, two bush like plants, a fountain and village of houses).

A morning task was to make sure everyone had slept good. His question is: __________ (name) sleep good? huh? For example, "Mimi sleep good? huh?

Do you have any rituals?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Momma's blunders

Sometimes it is just hard to communicate with a two year old. OK, ok, most of the time it's hard. One such day in Canada, Ivan and I had been playing in the igloo, then tried sliding without proper equipment, which really didn't work. Ivan kept saying "house, house", so I figured he'd had enough and called it a day. As we were going inside, he kept crying and screaming "house". Finally when I was inside with him and we had already removed the dozen or so pieces of extra clothing for snow play I realized that Ivan was saying "house" as in "snow house". He wanted to play more in the igloo. I finally understood him, but it was too late, we'd already gotten all the ski pants, mitts, hats, boots... off and I was not about to put them back on. It would have melted your heart to watch him trying to gather up all the clothing in his little arms as he cried "snow house, snow house".

The next episode is even worse, way worse. I have a video with his tormented cries in the background, but it only reminds me of how horrid I felt, so you don't get to see it! I had the oh, so brilliant idea of walking the property with Ivan and O'neil. I knew the snow was deep 'cause Brian had been around it earlier in the week, but I figured we could walk in his footprints and besides we had big boots on. Of course we didn't discover until we'd made it way out on the periphery and away from our deceivingly easy entrance that it was totally impossible to walk even 20 yards on our own yet alone carrying Ivan. I told the guys we could roll our way back to the manageable path, so here is the video of Ivan learning to roll. He doesn't really get it down here, but did OK later.

During our failing snow walking navigations, Ivan's mitt fell off a couple of times and he got his hand wet in the snow. We got it back on and once on the path, decided to take some pictures in not so deep areas then go visit the neighbor's horse. On the way there, Ivan starts his screaming, but we can't figure out what is wrong. He screamed if I said we'd go home or if I said we'd go to the horse. He screamed as I jogged down the hill carrying him to the horse and as I jogged him back toward the house. Suddenly as I'm on our way back, a little inner voice says: his hands are cold. I felt like total dirt. We rushed in the house and of course once the heat hit them, he REALLY got to screaming. I'm sure they stung like crazy. Dad was reassuring me "I'm sure they aren't frostbitten, you weren't out that long". Everyone was trying to help, but the only thing that worked was to hold him and rock him until the pain diminished, at which point he fell asleep in my arms. I carefully checked for signs of abnormal skin frantically hoping there were none. I'm glad this was one time dad was right.

One night aunt Marj cajoled all of us to go for a walk. It was a collosal feat to get us all off our butts and into our winter gear, then we were posing for pics and greeting horses, while she and uncle Pete sped down the lane. Something about heart rate or something. They may have been right though since the two girl cousins just complained about it being cold the whole time and kept saying we should get back. Ah well, eating is more fun than walking anyways and now we are all paying for it!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Strangely familiar

It's always fun to revisit one's old haunts and weird all the same. We drove through Sutherland neighborhood to go see a Christmas lights show and I didn't even recognize it, it has changed so much. Sutherland is where my grandfather had his house. I hadn't been there much since he moved in with us when I was a teenager. There was a lot of new development that wasn't there before and a more artsy feel than I remembered. It boasts a fancy train sign as you enter it, when I was growing up it just had the trains. Dad said when he moved there, there were just fields. I could easily get lost on the new highways they've built criss-crossing all over. All that is a little unerving. Quit messing with my memories!

Some places stayed the same. We ended up with great wedding photos in the midst of a December winter in 1998 due in thanks to the Mendel Art Museum's arboratorium (is that what it's called?) We wanted pictures with pretty flowers and greenery, not an easy feat in a Saskatchewan December, but the museum was happy to let us take pictures there. It was all done up in poinsettas and guess what??? It was this year too.
Me and my sister who was my maid-of-honor, and it's still an honor.

Striking our marriage pose of 8 years ago, ok, not quite the same now!

We also got to go on a date thanks to mom, dad and the aunts and uncles who babysat. We had a fabulous tasting, ridiculous costing meal at the Station place. It was a great experience, full of history, warmth and high quality. I guess you get what you pay for and it was nice to be treated as royalty and treat ourselves too. We also got to visit the hotel we stayed in some 8 years ago. It was great to have alone time together, a rarity for us that we must find time to do again.

I appreciate so much my family and my husband. It has been a great 8 years- so fast, 8 already??? I can't believe that here we are with these two wonderful kids and going on a decade of being together, but I would have it no other way. You are and will always be the Lover's gift to me of a lifelong companion and I am ever so thankful.

And while Saskatoon may try to camouflage or evolve, my memories can not possibly be erased, they are in the skyline, in the earth, in so many trees and walls and voices that continue to ring out over time... weaving through neighborhoods as we walked home from church, or to the recreation center, or to the hi-lo mart... nights out on the farm, encercling a bombfire, walking the trails at beaver creek... kissing my love and saying "I do". Saskatoon will always have a special place in my mind and heart.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tales from the tundra

OK, S'toon isn't exactly the tundra, but it was frozen, vast and breathtaking. Since our exciting lives revolve around trying to get the house back in order and I missed out on 3 weeks of tales, I'm going to do some catch up of our time away.

My little part Canadians are readjusting to life here in the states, but Ivan still says: "Snow outside???" He's not sure where it all went and I don't think he's all that happy about it's disappearance. I'm thinking geography is a little difficult at age 2. He still repeats: "back Nana house" since our trip in Nov. for Thanksgiving, like we can just turn the corner and there we will be at Nana's. Maybe he thinks Grandpa Ian, Grandma Ruth, Uncle John, Auntie Jenn, Uncle Andrew, Auntie-to-be Andrea and all the snow are hidden somewhere in Abilene. I only wish.

I think this video says it all with regards to our fun winter experience. Of course I keep in mind that we had superb weather. Much of winter is freeze your butt, miserable cold, so I have to be thankful for warm Abilene days despite our lack of winter's finery.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig

Well, we're back. It was a very long day flying home. We were up by 4:15am. Dominique was up before that because she thinks I'm an all night snack bar. We had 4 flights to get home, twice through security, 3 almost too short layovers, 1 mix up with seats (our fault) and four tired, but safe and thankful travelers back home by supper time. Have you ever been so tired you were dizzy with tiredness? I was definitely dizzy tired and I think Ivan was too since he fell 3 times that evening- once hard on the concrete leaving him with red scrapes on his nose.

We are slowly but surely getting our home back in order. Our 10 or so loads of laundry are diminishing and I've got groceries in the fridge, Brian paid bills and sent off the forms to apply for Dominique and Ivan's Canadian citizenship. No we aren't shipping them back, although Ivan has been talking to Grandpa Ian all day as he played and saying "snow outside" repeatedly. If we apply for them now, it's easier if they choose to live in Canada when they are all grown, plus it will be easier going back and forth for visits. I'm not sure what other benefits they get from having their citizenship there, but since they can have it, we're getting it.

I came back with mixed feelings. It was so good to be with family and to enjoy the holidays together, seeing them love our kids and loving them back, being back in Canada and enjoying a very mild, perfectly beautiful winterwonderland. Tonight we went to Big Buddies for a more extended visit and he got to play with the kids who laughed and laughed for him. We all seem much more relaxed after the break. Ivan seems to have grown out of so many tantrums and while we left with a baby, we came back with a little toddler in the making in Dominique. I don't know what it was about Canada or maybe that winter air that seems to have grown them up so.

Are you usually more sad or glad to be home after a trip?