Saturday, September 27, 2008

E- I love the heat

I really do. It was 105 degrees when I landed in Phoenix today and I really enjoyed it. Yes I did turn the air conditioner on full blast, but I also went for a walk in the park and sat by the pool for a while in the heat.

I made the decision to come down here yesterday afternoon. Les and I worked to quickly get all the bookings done in time to give me a couple of minutes to pack before I headed off to work.

My Belgian beer, meat and bread dish went over well at the hall as did our training. We blacked out the whole building with a smoke machine and did search and rescue scenarios. Even on a slippery floor it is tough to drag out a grown man wearing 50 pounds of gear without any visibility.

My shift ended at 8am and I decided that I had enough time to buy a couch that someone was selling in Richmond before going to the airport. This would make more sense if I was going to the airport a couple of kilometers away in Richmond instead of the one in Bellingham which is completely the opposite direction. However, I managed to get the couch, stop for breakfast and still make my 11am flight with plenty of time to spare. The Allegiant flight was great and amazingly hassle free. I have never had such polite and pleasant airport and security staff as this before. Our flight landed at 2pm and I was driving the rental car by 2:10. I guess this is the advantage of the small airports.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall Fun

The air is getting crisp and the leaves are rapidly turning. That means that Autumn is upon is, something which I love and Eric laments. This is the first season of soccer in our there anything cuter than little girls in soccer uniforms? This is Molly and her best friend Maya in full soccer gear, right down to shin guards and cleats.

Running out for their first shift together they were told to remember two things, in this order: first, have fun...second, you can't hold hands while you play.

We only saw them sneak in a couple of hand holds, and the above picture is evidence of one lapse.

Here is a good shot of Molly's biggest fan: Lukey. He darted onto the field a couple of times in pursuit of the ball, but for the most part, he was great. I was talking with Maya's mom about the difference between the family experience for the first born versus the third born kid. You can be sure that Molly was never woken up early and tossed into the car to spectate a kids' soccer game...but before you feel too sorry for Lucas, you can also be sure that she wasn't getting a whole donut to herself at 22 months, either (don't judge me...he'd be so sad to not get what the other kids get).

Molly seemed to enjoy her first foray into organized sports.

We have also been enjoying September in Point Roberts. Observing the chill in the air, the girls wondered if our local fairies might be in want of a bit of shelter. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, we headed out to the yard to build winter fairy houses. You can see our efforts below:

This last shot is of Lucas chasing my around the yard with my coffee. I had it outside...trying to keep awake and keep warm. He apparently didn't appreciate me leaving my cup sitting on the grass because he kept following me around, yelling at me to pick up my coffee. He spilled most of it in his frantic efforts to save it. Ironic.

Fall has also brought one more treat to the family: a new cousin. Eric's sister Amanda, her partner Sven and their daughter Hannah welcomed little Pippa into the world yesterday. We visited the new babe today and the kids were most impressed with her. Lukey especially was entranced...he wouldn't stop asking to hold her and when he had her cradled on his wee lap, he smothered her in kisses and head pats. Congratulations to the new family of four!

Monday, September 15, 2008

One Man's Trash

Finny had a pre-dinner meltdown. You know the ones. They are prompted by something so mundane, so pedestrian, so overlook-able that you know it is nothing you can fix. All you can do is let it run its course and throw dinner down fast to move the whole nighttime process along at a quicker clip.

This wee tantrum came in the form of a dishwasher melted water bottle. No biggie. But then it was. As they do, the meltdown morphed into another issue and then another. Finny finally settled on one cause:she didn't have Molly's beautiful freckles. Why didn't she have them? How could she get them? Why did I make them for Molly and not for her? I spirited her out of my chaotic kitchen, laid her down and told her that as far as I was concerned, her little nose was exactly perfect just as it was. I told her I made her nose because it fit her and that if it were different, it wouldn't be hers. She insisted that it WOULD still be her nose. It would just have "three little brown spots, here, here and here". All I could do was kiss that teeny, blemish-free nose (now filled with snot and soaked in tears) and tell her there will always be someone who has something slightly (or a lot) better than you have. Bottom line: mommies always think you are just right, exactly how you are. Because we made you that way. Sniff, sniff.

Molly chimed in on the issue while I was putting her to bed. She had overheard me talking to Finny (little eavesdropper! Must remember that next time I am on the phone!). She insisted that I DIDN'T make her freckles because she didn't have them as a baby. Hmmmm. "Well," I said, "I put them underneath your skin, so they'd come out later." She was thrilled. "You packed me a surprise," she grinned. "It is the best one, because I wear it every day." Now, there is positivity in action.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

E- Early August

Kelowna July 25-29th

Jamie and Muirean visit, Go-karting with Bill, Arts and Music Festival Point Roberts, Indiana Jones in the park and B.C. Day parade.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sisters helping sisters

So...sorry. Sorry blog. Sorry I took a long and unannounced break. Sorry so much of the summer passed unchronicled and unrecorded. It's a shame, because it was a summer filled with moments to remember. Some memories are just fine left in my head and not slammed into typeface and confined to black and white. Some memories, on the other hand, are fully deserving of preservation. The little triumphs and downfalls that are overall unremarkable but in the moment, clutch your heart. Those will just fade into the jumble of moving limbs and shouted phrases that swim in my brain. There is a cacophony of such moments swirling through my head, speeding towards the black hole of forgetting. This sad thought is great impetus to jump back into the blog.

Which is why I can't put my feet up just yet tonight. Why I am back, bathed in the irritating blueish glow of this migraine-inducing monitor. Listening to "Q" on the CBC, livestreamed from Winnipeg through the CBC's website.

As I type this, Molly and Finny are having a hushed conversation upstairs. They aren't in the same room right now, so their whispers are loud, by necessity. Today was Finny's first day of preschool. She had a good day, but tonight she told me that the hardest part was feeling a little lonely. I did my whole mom song and dance on the making friends issue. I reassured her that the first day is the hardest and that faces which are strange today will be friends' faces in no time. I left it at that. Molly didn't.

When I came downstairs there were a couple of seconds of silence before Molly launched into her own hushed manual for making friends. She has been giving Finny tips: "look for someone nice, then tell them your name". She has been reassuring: "making friends isn't that hard at all". She has been consoling: "you already have friends". And most of all, she is answering Finny's questions. Needless to say, my usual shouts upstairs to cease and desist from all bedtime chatter won't be floating up just yet. I am going to let one sister help the other undisturbed. And who knows? I might just learn something.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

E- Grade one has come

We're finally back in town, in theory giving us the chance to blog more often but I'm finding it harder than ever to find the time........and Les I have pretty much given up on as a co-contributor.

With relatively poor weather the last 2 weeks of August, we spent a lot of time around Point Roberts re-doing the floor and other projects I had put off all summer. We came back on Labour Day weekend in time to go to the PNE. In fact Les and I went to PNE/Playland on Sunday night to go on the rides and then went with the kids and my Mom again on Monday morning.

Work continues to go well and I am almost past my first milestone of six months on the job. Our last set was particularly busy with all kinds of different calls the most interesting of which was a fire. I got to be part of the first in crew and do a primary search. I couldn't see my hand an inch in front of my face because of the pitch black smoke. Being able to see a little something would have been nice considering the state of the house. Stuff was flung everywhere, mattress on the floor, clothes piled up to waste and garbage laying around....all of which made it pretty difficult to crawl around on all fours trying to find someone. Although it didn't seem like house-keeping was the occupants' strength, it wasn't clear exactly what was happening in the house until my partner and I got to the basement. It was pretty obvious that it was only half the depth of the top floor without any doors or halls leading back. When I pushed on some recessed drywall it gave way, exposing a hall with hundreds of wires and big transformers sitting on the ground and a lot of plants on tables. Since the fire was already out by this time, we left until hydro was able to disconnect the power.

On next night I got to practice CPR again on a cardiac arrest, which unfortunately wasn't successful but is interesting to be a part of nonetheless. I'll have my six month exam later in September and be in the second half of my probation.

Molly has now started full day school for Grade one, and after only two days she is already being really missed around here. I think it seems like a long day for Finny, who isn't used to entertaining herself for such long periods of time. Molly seems to be adjusting well, which wasn't a guarantee given that none of us are morning people. Our sometimes leisurely mornings are pretty much over for the next 17years. However her class is great and her school has such a nice feeling that I can't imagine a much better way to start her long school career.

E-August 2008

I am sure to the kids the summer of 2008 seemed to go on forever, full of new experiences. Hopefully they will have little fragments of these memories stay with them when they are grown up. For me however, the summer has flown by and is a stark reminder of how tightly wound up my life’s clock currently is, relentlessly racing time forward.

The kids wake up each morning with nothing to do but enjoy the day. Although they don’t have much freedom to impose their own will, they are free to just take each moment as it comes. No need to plan, or worry about what comes next. They aren’t even old enough yet to dread the end of summer… fact they seem almost without need of knowing what time even is. As a result, they happily go from one activity to another in a sort of ignorant bliss while time slowly passes.

I hope they remember the ice cream on warm summer afternoons, slip and sliding in the yard, learning to ride bikes, endless hours playing together with little parental supervision (other than to break up the occasional un-resolvable squabble), playing in the sand at the beach, reading on the couch, playing with the riding toys, dinner at their grandparents watching the sun set, sitting as a family on the trampoline, festivals in the park.

With a tinge of regret, I note how differently my summer flies along. Yes, I have gotten to join the kids in many of these activities and I am really thankful for that. However, even though I am there physically, I am so often in a different place mentally from them. I tell myself it is out of necessity but I am not totally sure if that’s true. Alternating between my working days/nights and my time off, I feel equally busy during both periods. I feel far too fortunate and happy with my lot in life to complain but can’t help but notice how different my responsibility-filled adult life is to the carefree existence of youth where summers lazily slide along ignorant of home improvement projects or the impending arrival of Labour day.

We had a great trip to Kelowna to see Brady and Lisa Ibbetson in late July. Mostly sunny weather in the low 30’s made for great days spent lounging at their home and at the beach. Gyro beach, with soft sand that goes out a kilometer into some really warm water, was one of the nicest freshwater beaches I have ever seen. Brady and I played football in the shallow water for a long time before we gave into the kids whimpering and fed them some Little Caesars pizza. At the crack of dawn one morning, Brady took me for what was supposed to be a mountain bike ride but turned into more of a mountain bike walk when my lack of experience riding on cliff edges showed its face. One night we had dinner and ice cream in the park while we watched one of the outdoor concert series events. It was a great trip getting to catch up with our long time friends and finally see their home.

Since that time we have spent most of the summer in Point Roberts. Les has been enjoying her NetFlix subscription that ensures she always has at least two new movies at our place. Finding the time to watch them however has been a challenge lately. On top of the usual responsibilities with the kids, she is now working more hours at both paid and unpaid work. Her writing is going really well but demands a few days of her uninterrupted attention each week. Inspired by the great work Brady and Lisa did on their house, and having finally reached a different stage in our lives, Les has taken the bull by the horns on kicking the 1970’s out of our cottage. Although it may take years to fully rid ourselves of this tacky decade, painting over the wood panel and completely replacing the downtrodden carpet is a great start. Altogether it doesn’t make for all carefree easy-living days, but you’ll rarely hear Les complain……even when foregoing sleep is the only way she manages to fit it all in.

We have had lots of little outings as a family and I have had a few on my own. Each time I bike to work, it is a bit of an adventure as I pick a different path on the 33kilometre route. However I have developed one routine of stopping for blueberries at a local farm and loading my backpack full of berries. I went with our neighbour Bill to the F440 Go-Karts one day and managed to beat all the drunk guys from the stag parties but didn’t manage to best Bill’s time. It made me feel better knowing he routinely drives his motor bike over 250 km/hr. Perhaps the most surreal moment of the summer though…..the type that if you could have seen as a young kid you wouldn’t have believed…..took place at Dairy Queen. Each year Dairy Queen donates all the profits from Blizzards sold to Children’s Hospital and firefighters do the serving. Flying around the cramped space behind the counter I couldn't help but bump into the other dozen or so people frantically trying to keep pace with the Blizzard demand. I made some good treats but also managed to fling ice cream all over another fire fighter's uniform and to make 5 cookie dough blizzards instead of the 5 Oreo ones that were ordered. At the end of the night I made the biggest imaginable strawberry cheesecake Blizzard that was packed with stuff.