The strawberry saga.

It’s strawberry season here, and one of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go picking with the kids. Last week on Thursday it was supposed to be 28 and sunny out so I thought it would be a great day to head to my mom and dad’s for some pool time and then some strawberry picking.

We were already off to a less than perfect start when the sun never made the appearance we were hoping for. It was hazy and definitely less than hot all day. Kids still want to swim though, and they had a great few hours in the pool. Ivy mastered water wings and apparently felt so confident in her skills that she even took a jump in without any flotation device at all. Seth to the rescue- he scooped his bobbing sister out of the pool and, although slightly shaken, she was back in the pool in minutes, swimming all over the place like a little fish.

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In the afternoon I decided I better check the farms before we just headed over to pick. And wouldn’t you know, all the farms were picked out. Strawberry dreams, dashed. Not defeated easily, we decided to try our hand at saskatoon picking. It was slow going because saskatoons are tiny as well as extremely delicious. I’m not exactly sure what our ratio of eaten berries to berries that made it in the pail was, but I’m guessing somewhere around 5-1. Soooooo yummy. We were yummy too, apparently, as we were eaten ferociously by the mosquitoes, despite having been very generous with the spray again. So we picked a pail and bought another pail of pre-picked, ate tonnes of them, and made an amazing pie.

On Saturday I still needed me some strawberries. I tried to convince Neil to get on board but he wouldn’t have it. So we went alone. We checked first that the farm was picking, then we drove the 50 minutes to get there. We got in the long line to be taken to the fields, waited five or ten minutes, at which point someone came and cut the line off five people ahead of us, saying they were picked out for the day. WHAT.

Thank goodness there was a petting zoo and a hay bale maze there, so we could play with goats to ease our (my) disappointment. All well and good until Ivy got between a mama sheep and her baby and nearly got rammed.

Time to call it a day and call the mother-in-law. Request to pick up a few pails of pre-picked for me and it was done and done.

On Sunday we got our four pails, promptly ate at least half a pail, and then Seth and I made jam! It was our first time and it turned out great. I’m sure it won’t be our last jam making session. We made 18 little jars, and one’s almost gone already. I’m sure they’re not going to last too long.

 

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So this year’s strawberry season was a bit of a fail, but it ended on a high note. We’ve still got about a pail left on the fridge and if I had a way of getting another one, I’d be on it. Such a perfect summer treat!

Mosquitoes and tiny goats.

Yesterday was a nice sunny summer day. It needed to be enjoyed. I thought an adventure was in order. Ben loves going on adventures, which is really just a fancy word for exploring a trail in Bird’s Hill Park.

So we grabbed the water bottles and the bug spray and hit the trail.

For like 90 seconds, at which point we were surrounded by approximately one hundred thousand mosquitoes. We ran back to the car and re-applied mosquitoes spray liberally. I sprayed our clothes, our hair, and our bodies again. We hit the trail again. We made it farther this time. We lasted a whole 3 minutes before we turned around and got the heck out of there. The air was just thick with mosquitoes and the buzzing in my ear was making me crazy.

So we bailed on that adventure and ran across the road to Pineridge Hollow, which was complete with beautiful flower beds, ponds with tadpoles, tiny goats, and a shop full of neat toys for kids and pretty things for moms. We stayed for two hours. It was great.

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Ben made friends with this goat. It liked when Ben scratched it’s side, so Ben just scratched and scratched that goat. They bonded.

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Ivy and Seth loved these little Pygmy goats. They will only be 15 inches tall when they’re full grown! What! Someone get me one!

 

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We played in the shop. I bought a pretty dish towel and the kids each got a stick of candy. Happiness all around.20140716-212611-77171510.jpg
When we were adventured out we headed home, are supper, and spent the evening working on the playhouse, playing with the kids from the neighbourhood, and finished it all off with a game of 500 Up. That game can be a little rowdy I guess, as Ben and Seth had a run in that resulted in a big puffy black eye for Ben.

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Poor Ben, he was so worried about what other people would say about his eye, worried that people would laugh at him. (This was likely because Seth took one look at him and totally burst out laughing. Jerk). It took some time to convince him that people would think it was cool but he did decide to go to VBS this morning and he came home wearing that shiner like a badge of honor.

Shiner or not, it was a good summer day. Tomorrow we’re hoping to crash my parents pool and then pick a few baskets of strawberries. I can taste them already.

Two months post-op; an update.

So it’s been over two months since all that crazy went down, and I thought we were all in need of an update.

It’s weird how almost immediately after Neil came home, it already seemed like that whole ordeal was just a hazy dream, a distant reality, a “did that even happen” kind of thing. Things weren’t exactly normal right away; it took Neil awhile to do much more than sleep, and we were doing daily dressing changes and IV meds, but we were all together, in our home, and everything felt fine. We had survived it, and it all of a sudden felt like it hadn’t even been that bad. And it wasn’t really. Even though there were some very bad days, and moments that were horrible, overall it really was okay.

And now we’re pretty much back to normal. Except a better normal, beacause Neil feels GREAT. He’s gained almost all those twenty pounds back that he lost while in the hospital. He eats everything, including things he used to avoid because he would feel terrible, and he feels good. The gastroenterologist gave him the go-ahead with all foods, and Neil’s going for it. (The GI also said that they had no idea Neil was so sick pre-operatively, that it’s very unusual to see a case so severe, and that it’s no wonder that the meds weren’t working before. Wow!) I just have to say it is so nice to cook meals that Neil actually eats. Although my grocery bill has increased considerably…

He’s been back at work for a couple weeks now. The first week he just worked the mornings, and came home totally exhausted, but by the second week he worked full days, and even took care of the kids all evening a couple of those days while I worked.

On Saturday Neil even cut the grass! (I’m so happy I didn’t have to do it again!) We amped up our flower beds, Neil built the kids a picnic table out of skateboards, and got started on a playhouse. He’s like a real person again! No lingering tiredness or pain, just goodness. 20140714-125545-46545632.jpg (Neil made that! So awesome!)

I’m so happy that he’s all good and we’ve got the summer ahead of us. We’re going camping next month and I’m really really excited for our first trip in a long time where Neil just feels like Neil, and isn’t throwing up outside the tent or doubled over in pain half the time. It’s going to be amazing.

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Thank you to all of you for your continued prayers over our family through all of this. We felt them, and we wouldn’t have survived without them!

Seth is 8.

Today Seth turns 8.

Last night when I prayed with him, I thanked God for this boy who made me a mom the first time. It was late at night, so close to the time of his birth, which was just after midnight. I told Seth how at that exact time eight years ago, I was working so hard to get him out, screaming and swearing, and it hurt so bad, and I was so tired. But then he was born, and I remember just instinctvely reaching down and scooping him up and pulling him to my chest. I cried, so relieved, so happy, so so in love.

I can barely believe that that first baby of mine is eight years old.

He’s a great kid. Loves reading and lego most of all. Takes good care of his brothers and sister. Helps with a happy heart, usually. He’s pretty quiet, and does his own thing a lot, and just needs some space, sometimes, but in the mornings, he’ll come sneaking into our bedroom and ask for a cuddle, and it’s just the best. He climbs right in, and spoons around me, his feet are almost where mine are, he’s getting so tall, and drapes his arm over mine and holds my hand. It doesn’t last long, and it might be the only affection given voluntarily in a day that I get from him, but it reminds me that he’s still my baby, and that he loves me.

Happy birthday Seth. I love you.

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School, done. Summer, begun.

The boys finished school last Thursday. Both of them brought home amazing report cards. If they used A’s like the old days, Seth’s would have been straight A’s except for music class, which was B’s. He read 114 chapter books this school year, a total of almost 1400 chapters, the most in his class. At the last parent-teacher interviews his teacher said she’d never seen someone read like Seth. Considering he only started reading chapter books in the fall, I’m pretty impressed with his skills, although not surprised. I was the same way when I was a kid. Ben’s report card was pretty much straight A’s too, and I’m pinching myself a little that they both had such wonderful years. Ben learned so much this first year of school, and is pretty much reading on his own now too. He’s come by reading much more naturally and with much less struggle than Seth did in the beginning. Ben was just kind of all of a sudden reading everything. It was weird and awesome and we hardly noticed, which is the way of the second child I guess, unfortunately. I’m always surprised when he just reads something like it’s no big deal. Like I’m wondering when this happened, because I wasn’t there for it or something. I’m so proud of him, so proud of both of them.

And so happy it’s summer holidays. Friday was supposed to be all rainy and gross but then it wasn’t, it was beautiful and hot and mostly sunny and we packed up and went to the beach. It was the best afternoon, catching tadpoles and burying kids in sand and getting sunburned because we forgot about sunscreen.

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We caught a bunch of tadpoles at our usual spot and brought them home with us in hopes of raising them to be little frogs. We’ve only been successful at this once out of many many years, but I’m feeling good about this summer. Plus many of the tadpoles already had a couple legs, so it’s like we have a head start.

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I love summer and I love the beach and I love that I have no more babies. Each summer gets easier and easier and I hope we can spend a lot of days at the beach this summer.

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And ironically now that the kids are home all day every day, Neil went back to work today! Last week he had his follow-up appointment with the infectious diseases doctor, who said his last MRI was all clear, no abcesses, and so he could stop the IV antibiotics. He took his PICC line out right away, and now his wound is all healed up too! It’s amazing, really, how it went from being the same same same for weeks and weeks to bam, healing up, and now, just a few weeks later, all new skin. He kind of has a “divot” where the wound infection was, right beside his belly button, almost like a second belly button. But two is better than one, I guess, and I am beyond happy to be done with daily IV meds and dressing changes.

Here’s to a summer full of health and happiness and sunshine!

(Especially the sunshine. It’s been raining for days and yesterday was basically a prairie hurricane. Seriously, what?)

Neil and Nikki // 12 years.

We’ve been married for 12 years today. It’s hard to believe, 12 years.

12 years and I love him more than ever. Not that I needed reminding, but when he was so sick, right after his surgery, I WAS reminded of just how much I do love him. I felt reassured, kind of, by how big my love for him was. Like when you say your vows, you don’t really think much of the sickness or in health part, because that’s not going to happen to you. But when it does, and you make it through it, you know you’re good to go. You’re solid. It was so raw for me right then, almost overpowering. He was mine and he was sick and I needed to be with him and I needed to take care of him. Even though it was a hard time, it was good to feel so strongly that need to just love and provide care for my husband. We’ve had a couple months of spending more time together than in years and years, and it’s been nice. I thought he might drive me crazy here at home. I thought he might get in my way, or throw off my routine, or just make more messes for me to clean up. And he did, kind of, but I really didn’t mind. I like being around him. I like spending time with him. I don’t want him to go back to work. I just want to be with him. And I know he feels the same way about spending time with me.

I’m overwhelmingly blessed by my husband and our marriage and by the love we have for each other. Happy anniversary to us!

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Why do we do this to ourselves?

Sometimes I feel like we’re just suckers for punishment. Like we do stupid things on purpose, or we forget to use our brains, or we just feel like throwing our hard earned money away and suffering in the process.

Case in point, we went to the ex on Sunday. It’s family day on Sunday! Free admission between 10:30 and 11:30! Kids wristbands only $12! Cotton candy and mini donuts! It will be the best day of our lives!!

After sitting in grid lock traffic with the rest of the city indefinitely, missing the free hour of admission, therefore spending x amount more than we planned, but going through with it “for the children”, buying wristbands for another x amount of money, waiting in long lines under hot sun while our water bottles waited in their backpack at our front door at home, spending another x amount on a slushie and a milkshake that mostly ended up on Oliver’s shirt, Seth being too big, Ivy being too little, Neil being too grumpy but trying hard to tough it out, and me trying to keep everyone from crying, we called it a day and vowed never to go anywhere requiring us to spend money ever again. Especially the ex.

Every. single. time. we spend a huge pile of cash at any kind of entertainment venue we leave feeling like it was a waste of money. Also, that we have too many children.

The places where we have the most fun are almost always the free places. The park, the beach, the playground, the BACKYARD for goodness’ sake. The one exception being Mexico. I’ll still pay to go there.

Anyway that day is over and that door is closed for another many many years. The good news is only one kid cried, and once we got out of the traffic jam I didn’t hear Neil swear once. Also, mini donuts make pretty much anything bearable. Aaaaand the kids had some fun, although they told me they think tinkertown is better. Nice to know since that costs approximately one third as much. And they sell pickles there.

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Until never again, goodbye Red River Ex.

In other news, Neil shaved his beard off this morning. I didn’t think I was in love with his beard, but I must have been really used to it, because now that it’s gone he looks kind of weird. Like a man baby. I’m surprisingly sad the beard is gone. But I still love my man baby, don’t worry.