Wednesday, January 28, 2009

E- Down time in the middle of winter

In December I got to take part in my first holiday picks for the 2009 year. After our last night shift we had a big pancake breakfast followed by a couple of hours of a holiday draft pick. Unlike a lot of departments that just tell their fire fighters when they have a vacation, we have a pretty cool system that allows everybody to choose. However, priority is seriously biased towards seniority and there aren't many people below me. This is why I have been on vacation for the last couple of weeks of January.

I can hardly complain though, with getting time off and allowing us to catch up on some things. Les has been working incredibly hard writing for hours every day. Apart from a few days in Point Roberts, we have just stayed close to home. Molly has really made strides reading and was able to finish Jack and the Beanstalk, The Ugly Duckling and Snow White with almost no help. I took the girls swimming every couple of days and had a great time playing with them in the water. They are both swimming without help now....but not very strongly. They manage to keep their heads above water and move forward, but just barely. However, they seem to love it and are getting over their fear. They both jump off the one meter diving board now and love playing and racing in the water. I usually run in the pool while they race me using noodles to help them float.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Finer Points of History in the Making...

...may be lost on a four year old.

As I was getting the kids ready for school this morning, I had the television on the Inauguration events. When the girls complained about how distracted I was (and that the tv was "suuuuuuuuuuuuper booooooooring"), I informed them that it was a special day because Barack Obama was going to be President. I said it in a snooty, now-I-will-teach-you-something voice. Not my favourite version of myself, to be honest. Anyway, I felt I imparted important historical knowledge and then I went to the kitchen to make lunches.

Then, OVERHEARD in the other room:

Finny (in a totally sneery way): "Well, it may be a special day for Ba-Rock Obama, but it sure isn't special for us, is it Molly?"

Man, I can't wait for the teenage years.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Fantasy Flee-er

Lately, a few times a day Lukey comes to me and informs me he is going "out". This is a game. My role is to protest...I ask him if he is leaving forever. He says yes. I pretend to cry. He then reassures me that he will "come back". He then goes and dons coat, boops (boots) and other sundry accessories. In the pictures you will see glasses, hat and a bag of bagels. He can't say, but I imagine this is for if he gets hungry? The pink boots are a nice touch...

Only one time have I let him carry all the way to opening the front door and stepping out. Finny and I crouched down behind the door he carefully closed behind him. He was calling "bye!" as he shut it gently. Then we watched him stand at the top of the stairs. He took one step down. Stopped. Came back up the stair and opened the door and shouted..."BACK!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hockey Daddy

The kids and I went to watch the beginning of Eric's mens' league hockey game this evening. The girls both knew who Eric was right away, despite his disguise of an unfamiliar uniform. Finny knew because Eric had told her that he was orange and number four, and she proudly informed me that she remembered. Molly recognized him because "his legs look long". Pretty much sums them up: Finny has a mind like a scary steel trap. You can't say anything within her earshot that you won't be happy being reminded of in every and any relevant situation (with a few bonus situations that are not appropriate thrown in for good measure...). Molly is intuitive and logical. I mean really, you don't have to know what colour or number Eric is to spot him on the ice...he really is huge in skates. Plus, hi shorts are a little on the small side, which only makes his legs look longer.

My favourite part of the spectating was when Molly asked if the tromboni would come back to clean the ice.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ahhhhh! The lists, the lists...!

Alright. We are busy. The lists and lists of things to be done keep growing. So do the kids. So do the demands on our lives. All the wee things that don't pound on the Door of MUST BE DONE fall to the wayside. You know what things I mean...personal grooming, house-cleaning, and yes, blogging. But you know what's horrible? There is nothing (and I truly mean NOTHING) more important than snagging a strand of time as it passes by capturing the little moments in our blog. The days fly by in a blur of pick-ups and drop-offs, laundry (though not in as orderly a fashion as in my fantasy life), working, cleaning, having fun. Peppered throughout all the chores, errands and pleasures of life are the tiny pedestrian moments that pass unheralded but that represent infinitesimal change.

The way our family exists right now will be different tomorrow. Today is perfect (even in all the many ways that it is not) because upstairs, three little people are sleeping in health and happiness. It is perfect because they each learned something today. They each reached out to me in different ways. They each grew. What are the unnoticed characteristics that I take for granted right now that will be gone tomorrow, never to be celebrated or remarked upon? What am I missing as I hurry them through the hours in the day? What I want is less hurrying. More noticing. I try hard to do this, but I can be better. One of the best ways to be better is to work on the blog and use this template as a method of celebration of the ordinary. Because the ORDINARY of growing kids is soooo very extraordinary. At least to their mother.

Without forcing myself to sit down right now, this evening, will I ever remark on the way that Lukey eats a Babybel cheese...? peeling it, stuffing it into his mouth in its entirety, then spewing cheese juice out from between his lips until he starts to gag uncontrollably before spitting the whole mess out into my hands. The next step in the process is the truly incredible one: he immediately asks for another one. I think he would eat the crimson (and no doubt toxic) wax around the outside if I let him. It is disgusting. Finny watched him, then asked for one too. Really? After that? When I asked her if she was sure, she was adament. Then I asked her if, maybe if she thought about it, was it possible that all she wanted was to open and peel one? Yeah. That's what I thought. Honestly, those stupid little cheeses are completely founded on the premise of opening them. Does anyone even like the cheese?

Or how about dropping Finny off at preschool yesterday, only to be told upon pick-up three and a half hours later that there was no school yesterday. Or any day this week. Her teacher was lovely about it and told me she was happy to hang out with Finny (something that sounds silly, I know, but Finny is pretty fun). I still have no recollection of being told that this week was school-free.

Our Christmas was peaceful. The contrast to post-Christmas pace is stark. We spent hours in Point Roberts sitting in front of the fire, playing board games, reading, colouring and watching Little House on the Prairie. We had people down to see us, rather than running around the city (thanks to those of you who made the effort to come down!). Christmas Eve was magical, as it can only be with small kids around. Christmas itself was the only day spent in town, enjoying a decadent breakfast at my parents and a mind-blowing dinner at cousins' house. Boxing Day, we had friends down. New Year's Eve was at my parents down in Point Roberts, with friends from down the beach (a fondue to die for and one of the best salads my mother has ever is one of her specialties, so this is no small feat). A bunch of the families from Molly's school came down on the 2nd. We were spoiled for company. In short, it was blissful.

Tonight, I have a ton of paperwork strewn all around me. Work that I have been doing, plus tons that I still have to do. As I continue to learn how to juggle the demands of work and mothering (and wife-ing, if that is word), I must never forget to hold up the mundane elements of daily life as a wonderful example of how it is all working. Things fall through the cracks, they surely do. This morning I sent Molly to school without her juice (sharp intake of breath...she told me, very accusingly, that she had to drink from the FOUNTAIN...don't worry, I apologized to her for making her drink from a communal water source). Tomorrow I will mess up more things. But many things are going right. I know this because of the peals of laughter, the puddles of bath water on the bathroom floor, the cuddles and hugs, the applesauce spice cookies we made (even though Eric took a bite and then commented that they tasted...healthy. Well, Finny ate five in one go, so I hope they were alright.)

All I know is that I get to publish this post, climb wearily upstairs, kiss the little girls goodnight one more time (Molly always stirs and kisses me back, Finny is always OUT), then snuggle up next to Lucas and sniff his still-a-baby smell. This is very, very good. Then up again tomorrow morning to the inevitable misses and victories in store for us. I could not feel luckier.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The end of a good year.

Christmas was great. We got the rare treat of having snow on the ground for all of the second half of December. From the time school was out on the 20th of December until the 5th of January, the family stayed down in Point Roberts. Instead of measuring time by how long we have between dropping the kids off at school and rushing to their next activity, we changed our focus to how long we could go before putting the next load of wood on the fire. We played lots of board games and Wii (mostly RockBand, Wii Fit and MarioKart) and read many books. We went sledding at Diefenbaker park and Les and the kids went skating at the DFD Christmas party. We had the Halls come down for dinner and had 4 families (23 people) with children in Molly's class come down for an evening of drinks and food. We also had some really nice meals with family on the 24th and 25th.

Even with all these activities, there was still time for the best part of the season......time to relax, time to slow down, time to do nothing. I guess it's so valued at this stage in our lives because it is so rare.

I continued to work during this period, including a 24 hour shift over New Years Eve and New Years Day. Work was kind of the opposite to our home life, because we were busier than ever. Partly as a result of the stormier, snowy weather and partly just because things just seem to happen in waves at the fire department, my crew had 4 fires in 4 days of work. While one was a relatively minor car fire, the other three were major events. A semi-tractor trailer slipped off a block and caught fire in the middle of a snow storm. By the time we were able to get there the whole thing, cab and trailer, was completely engulfed in flames. We had to call in a tanker for adequate water before we could finally get things under control. The house on English Bluff was totally gone before we even arrived. Pretty much all that was left for us to do was save the surrounding homes and forest before digging around in the ashes for some irreplaceable family momentos. There wasn't much left. The fire on Beach Grove was a really unusual and stubborn fire. When a light socket blew and the sparks were fanned by the wind (it happened in the middle of a major snow storm)wipping off the water, a fire quickly developed in between the ceiling of the first level and the floor of the second. Although there was smoke coming out of the roof, we couldn't see any flames when we entered, but could definitely feel the heat. A couple of minutes later I started to pull down the dry wall of the kitchen ceiling to try and find the seat of the fire. The massive heat in the void space and the introduction of oxygen proved to be an explosive combination, knocking down the chimney, blowing out some ceiling panels in the living room and sending a lot of air rushing by me. The difficulty finding the fire in all void spaces meant it took a long time to extinguish. So for over 3 hours we were fighting the fire in an intense snow storm, while at the same time trying to save as much of the antique furniture and china as we could.

Being the end of the year also means I go to a new hall with a new crew. The group at 1C have been a fun but challenging crew to be a probationer on. As a parting present on my last day they decided I needed to be face washed.....but I didn't go down without some least one guy got a bloody nose.