We bought a van.

As much as I love my Mazda 5 for it’s fuel efficiency and it’s smallness, we were feeling like we needed some more space. You know, so I could actually put groceries in the car and stuff.

So we bought a van. And we’re in love.

We love it so much we just drove around in it and took pictures. Obviously.

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Welcome to the family, Van. You’re going to love it with us.

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Oliver’s first soccer season: a smashing success.

Although we try our hardest to discourage our children from any extra-curricular activities, sometimes they just really want to do something, and then we have to just suck it up and go to soccer FOUR NIGHTS A WEEK while we count our blessings that Ben didn’t want to play this season.

That being said, it really wasn’t that bad. It’s only an hour, most of the games were here in Oakbank, and Seth and Oliver loved playing soccer. This was Oliver’s first year ever, and honestly, we had no idea how it would go. Neil reminded me that we’d never really seen Oliver run before, as Oliver’s default setting is relaxed, or, some may say, slow.

He went full guns into his soccer season though, and didn’t stop running once. I’m not gonna say he kicked the ball a lot, because that wouldn’t be true, but he sure did run. He ran around and around, back and forth, to his team and to the opposing team, often stopping to do some random dance moves or occasionally discuss strategy with a team mate. He wore a perma-grin through every single game, rain or shine. I could not be happier that he was so happy.

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His last game was on Monday and his little orange team kicked some serious butt. Oliver even scored a goal! His first ever! However inadvertent it may have been, he was sure proud of himself and we were sure proud of him too.

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I’m half happy, half sad that soccer season is over. We had a great spring, and lucky for us, Ben and Ivy want to play next year too! So I guess we’ll be up to eight nights of soccer a week or something like that… Can’t wait!

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Father’s Day was two days ago and I didn’t get my husband anything.

Why do holidays always come with no warning? All of a sudden it’s the day before and all the stores are already closed and you’re left feeling all “I suck at life” because you’re married to the best dad ever and you didn’t get him a single thing. And you bought your own dad nail clippers. (Dad, forget you read that. Also, act surprised next time I see you).

Lucky for me, Neil’s doesn’t care nearly as much about gifts as I do. All he really wanted to do for Father’s Day was take his boys skateboarding. Ben was on board with that idea and they went out for a bit on Saturday morning.

On Sunday after church we headed over to the Forks. We ate some still-hot cinnamon buns from Tall Grass Prairie while sitting on the riverbank in the sunshine. When cinnamon buns were done, we took the kids to the playground.

Playgrounds are where Neil’s awesome dad-ness comes through so obviously. He had the kids going in some elaborate imaginative play where they were all desperately trying to find the key to some treasure chest and that involved running around and hiding and shrieking and all kinds of other shenanigans. And Neil actually wanted to do that! Me, I do NOT play at playgrounds. I go to playgrounds to sit on benches and catch up on instagram while my kids play. Swings are my nemesis. But not Neil. The kids had the best time with him.

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Next up, SK8, so Neil could buy himself a t-shirt and I could tell myself that that was his father’s day gift. Ben got one too, because, cute.

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Then we headed over to the skate park to watch some guys skateboarding. Look at my cute kids. I mean, I can barely handle it. Their feet!

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Then it was home for some supper, and early to bed. Kids were pretty darn tired by the end of that day!

Neil really is such a good Dad. He loves his kids so fully. He gives endlessly of his time, even after working so hard all day every day. He never hesitates to be on his own with all four of them, and makes them supper, bathes them, and puts them to bed solo a couple nights a week. On Saturday he took them all to a car show, then home, then back out again to help a friend work on his driveway. He’s just awesome like that. I know the kids love being with him, look up to him, and respect him. They are lucky, lucky children to have Neil for a dad, and I’m a lucky, lucky woman to be married to him.


      

Basically, we’re all the luckiest.

Now I’ve said lucky at least one time too many and it sounds weird.

Happy Father’s Day Neil.

Also, #reality.

Oliver graduates from preschool.

Honestly I think things like preschool graduations are totally stupid. Why do we need to graduate from preschool, just to go to kindergarten? It’s dumb.

But I will admit that it’s still really cute.

Today was Oliver and Ivy’s last day of preschool before summer. They had a graduation ceremony for the kids who would be starting kindergarten in the fall (which was almost everyone! I think it was just Ivy and a couple other kids that didn’t graduate today).

They were very excited about going to their last day, having a party, and a graduation. Even though I’m going to miss my ONLY two hours of alone time every week, I’m excited too. I love summer holidays and I love hanging out with my kids. Mostly.

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(I just love this picture so much! It sums up their personalities just so perfectly!)

The little ceremony was super cute. They sang a few songs; Ivy was so enthusiastic, and knew all the words, and was so sweet, I just about died. Oliver actually participated, which surprised me. I didn’t know he knew any songs, or that he would ever voluntarily do actions to a song. It was nice to see! Mostly, though, even though I knew he was very happy, he maintained a look of barely tolerance through the whole event. That’s my boy.

IMG_1045IMG_1052“I graduated. No big deal.”

Ivy though, I think she was in love with standing in front of all those people. She had a lot of fun this morning.

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I managed to get one, albeit forced, smile out of my little graduate.

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He’s very much looking forward to kindergarten, and I’m excited for him. I know he’s going to love it, and have a lot of friends, because, in his own words, “he’s the friendliest kid in the world!”.

Congratulations on your graduation Oliver, and all the best to you in the rest of your school career. I love you baby.

The Calgary Zoo and Canmore.

I just realized spring break was like two and a half months ago and I never finished writing about our trip.

After Drumheller, we drove to Calgary. In the morning we headed to the Calgary Zoo. The first stop at the zoo was the penguins. I don’t know why, but I love penguins so much. I’ve watched that movie, The March of the Penguins, many many times, and I always love it. They’re so dang cute! At the Calgary Zoo they have an exhibit with all kinds of penguins, in and out of the water. I loved it so much I was literally almost in tears. I could have spent the whole day in there. Ivy, however, did not appreciate the smell of penguin poo apparently. She was ready to be outta there as soon as we arrived, but we managed to keep her in for awhile, despite her protests about how stinky it was.

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There was this little group of like seven or eight penguins that would just one after another, dive in the water, swim across the pool, pop out, waddle back to their diving spot, and repeat over and over again. Seriously the best.

The zoo was a lot of fun, but it was also a lot of walking, and we were all still a little tired from driving and Drumheller. I was actually so tired I thought I might die. But I stayed alive for the kids. The zoo had just got some new animatronic dinosaurs, and the boys really liked those. Ivy and I liked the gorillas. They were having a lot of fun wrestling with each other, and napping.IMG_8147

I was most excited to show Oliver the giraffes. He has always loved giraffes and says that they are his favorite animal. Of course, Oliver was super chill about it- we were far more excited than he was.

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We were looking forward to seeing the rhino, but apparently he just needed some alone time. We did get a good view of his “man parts’, shall we say, and, well, wow. That was big. Not exactly what I had planned to see on my trip to the zoo, though.

We were done at the zoo pretty early in the afternoon, mostly due to tiredness, and eagerness to get to Canmore. We got to Canmore by about four in the afternoon, checked in and unpacked, had a little swim, and went for supper at The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company. I had the best salad of my life. Seriously, that supper was so good!

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We spent the next day just exploring and walking around Canmore, as well as trying to figure out how we could possibly relocate there, because it is freaking amazing. Just going through these pictures for this post, I miss it so much and can’t wait to go back! IMG_0358IMG_8171 IMG_8165 IMG_6394

We met some friends from church who live in Canmore part of the year for lunch. They ended up taking our big kids back home with them while we took Ivy and Oliver (and let’s be honest, me) back to the hotel for a nap. We went back to their place for supper that night. The kids had a great time jumping on the trampoline overlooking a valley with mountains in the background, and we enjoyed some excellent company, while hitting them up for all the recommendations of where to eat and play nearby.

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By the end of our first day in Canmore we already knew we’d definitely be doing this trip again.  We were in love! We went to sleep anticipating our first day of snowboarding in the mountains.

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Gusty Walk 2015.

On Sunday we participated in our second Gutsy Walk. This year our team raised $1387. Last year we raised $1550, so altogether so far we’ve raised $2937 for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and the important research they do. Wow! Thank you SO SO much to our family and friends who so were so very generous. Like amazingly generous. I hope you all know how much it means to us when you help us support this foundation. We feel your love, people! We are truly touched.

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This year is Neil is obviously feeling much better than last year, when he had just very recently been discharged from the hospital. Still, Crohn’s is never far from our thoughts, especially hearing about friends of friends or extended family members who are currently suffering so badly. My heart just breaks thinking about it. Neil says I’ve turned into a softie lately, and maybe I have, but it’s his fault! I sure do hope and pray that a cure will be found soon.

Anyway, the walk! The kids were very excited about doing the walk again, and went straight to the face painting booth when we got there.

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It was a HOT day and had been raining off and on in parts of the city, and the forecast was calling for thunderstorms. Neil made me stop at Dollarama and grab ponchos. I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to rain but I knew if I didn’t get ponchos, it would jinx us for sure.

When the walk was about to start, Seth and Ben got right up at the front. We were waiting for a couple people to come back from the bathroom, and we told them that we’d have to wait for them. They were so ripped off to lose our first place position! Seth wondered if we would get a prize if we finished first. When we did start walking, they power walked their way far ahead of us. Neil’s dad caught up to them and we never saw them again till the walk was over. In typical Oliver style, he was completely depleted of all energy approximately three minutes into our 3k walk. Neil’s mom turned around with him.

Neil and Ivy and I walked with our neighbor, a teenager recently diagnosed with Colitis who was brave enough to join our team. I brought Ivy’s bike and she rode it most of the way, with just a few breaks. She did really well!

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We were just rounding the corner, finish line in site, when the rain started. By the time we got back to the main area, it was raining harder, and by the time we got our ponchos open it was pouring. The walk did have ponchos there for participants, but they ran out, so I’m sure glad Neil made me get ours! Thankfully the rain didn’t last more than about five minutes, and really, it was pretty refreshing, after all that heat.

We picnicked in our ponchos, and headed home, another successful walk.

Thanks again to everyone who supports our family and the causes so dear to us! We love you guys!

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Little fawn.

Yesterday after supper we headed to Bird’s Hill Park. We stopped in at Pineridge Hollow for a candy stick and to say a quick hello to the goats.

  
Benjamin had to stop for a photo with Benjamin the Alpaca. Just a couple a cute Benjamins.

  
After Pineridge Hollow we headed across the road to walk the White Tail Deer trail. I was reaaaaally hoping to see some deer, and we’ve always had good luck at that time of day in the park.

The boys rushed ahead of me and Ivy, and when we came around the bend, Neil was motioning for us to be quiet and come slowly.

There was a brand new fawn in the path. The mama had made a run for it when she spotted Neil and the boys. The little fawn was so wobbly on it’s legs, maybe it was only hours old. It wandered up the path towards us, and I couldn’t believe how small it was. It’s body was about the size of a cat, just with super long spindly legs. I loved the fawn and I wanted it to be my pet. So bad. I even told Neil he could get as many tattoos as he wanted if he let me keep it. He said no, unfortunately.

  
We eventually wandered away but came back to check on my little fawn, and he was laying flat in the woods just to the side of the path. I was really worried he’d be all alone but I also knew it would probably not be smart to kidnap a baby deer. (But imagine the photo ops with my kids and a fawn! I’d die!) I did do some research on deer and I feel like he was probably going to be just fine.

  
Oliver said it was the best day of his life, and I felt the same way, really. To be fair, Oliver also said that the trip to the greenhouse was the best day of his life. He’s very easy to please.

  
I love love love having Bird’s Hill Park just minutes away from us, and the opportunities and experiences that it’s given us.

   
   

The girl likes to shop.

Once every two years, I meet Neil at the mall and we go shopping. Maybe two years is an exaggeration but probably not a huge one. I stopped taking kids to the mall when there were two of them, and I never really started going again. I go on my own a couple times a year, but I pretty much never take the kids, unless it’s to see Santa.

Today we went to Polo Park. Oliver was like, “Whoah! What is this place??” Because, no malls, just Superstore for my children.

We went to H+M because we never had before. As soon as we entered the (big) store Oliver said, “Let’s split up!” Ha! Anyway he got pretty into it and somehow roped us into buying him several t-shirts and he was on the hunt for more, all like, let’s get way more stuff! He didn’t seem to realize that we actually had to pay for everything.

Ivy went crazy in there. “OHHH! Look at this shirt Mom! It’s sooooo cute!” I grabbed some leggings for her and she had to sit down on the floor and place the pants on top of her legs to see if they would fit. She just loved everything. She needed the hat, she needed those shoes, and those shoes, and those shoes too, and that dress, and that shirt. She loved everything. We mistakenly wandered into the children’s accessories section and that was the end of it. She grabbed a little box of rings and just had to have them. “I WEE WEE need these wings Mom!” (Wee= really.) No, you don’t need those rings Ivy. “But I have nooo wings!” That’s not even true, actually. Oh she begged and pleaded non-stop. 

We stopped at a fitting room so I could try stuff on. While I pulled the curtain closed, she asked, “Why we havin’ a bath?” #firsttimeinafittingroom Made me laugh anyway. 

As soon as I was done in there, she was back on the case for the rings. The responsible mother in me knew I needed to hold my ground but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t! I’m powerless against her! Besides, Oliver was convinced we were getting him the Big Hero 6 t-shirt, and so I just got both of them their wants. Hey, first trip to the mall deserves a purchase right? 

Anyway, it was fun, and I’m looking forward to more girl shopping trips with Ivy this fall when Oliver is in school. He totally lost the passion after one store, and I know Ivy could have shopped all day.  

Bronuts, sunshine, and snow on the long weekend. Plus, a screen free day.

The forecast for the May long weekend was pure junk. So on Saturday morning when we woke up and the sun was shining, we and headed straight out the door to get donuts at the new place in town, Bronuts. We got there at 9ish and then waited in line, outside, for 30 minutes. It was fine, though. It was already a really nice morning out, and the line moved fast. 

  
We got our donuts and coffee and then headed across the street to enjoy them at a picnic table in the sunshine. They were so good! I’m usually a chocolate over vanilla kind of girl, although I will eat both indiscriminately. That vanilla glaze though! I think it beat out the Nutella donut, and that’s something. So yummy.
The kids ran around in the green grass while we sipped our coffee. Once 10 am rolled around we walked over to the best toy shop, Toad Hall. I always forget about that place, and then every time I go back there I’m like, why do we ever go anywhere else, ever for toys or gifts for kids? Seriously, so much great stuff packed in there. I love exploring in there.

  
We got home and the warm weather just held on, even though the forecast was all “weather warning! weather warning!”. I did an Ikea run and returned and picked up a new rug while the kids played outside with Neil. Seth went for his first ever “real” sleepover at a friend’s house (where he allegedly stayed up until two am! but “slept in” till 8, Mom!), and we ate french toast and bacon and peanut butter sandwiches for supper. Neil and I finished off the evening with wine and scrabble, and it was great.

The rain started after 10 sometime, and it just kept on coming. We stayed home Sunday morning. It was still raining, sometimes hard, and it was getting cold. By noon it was seriously windy and still raining like crazy. I went to work that evening and even shelled out for parking because I couldn’t imagine walking in that horrible wind and rain. By the time I left work at midnight the rain had turned to ice pellets, so that was nice. The drive home was a little dicey, but I made it.

When we woke up Monday morning there was snow. Hello Manitoba May long weekend. Classic, with a little edge this year. We had decided Monday would be a screen free day. This isn’t really a huge deal for our kids, who often have little to no screen time. It was a big deal for Neil and I, who check our screens more often than I’m comfortable with. Well, wow, no screens equals far more time to be productive. Neil put up some baseboards and installed blinds. I read a book! We played Settlers, Uno, Dutch Blitz, and Yahtzee with the kids. 

  
We looked at photo books and read some of my blog book from 2010. We stayed in bed cuddling. We relaxed. It was nice. The kids actually spent a good portion of time spontaneously playing duck duck goose in the basement. Ivy thought it was the funniest game ever and really, so did all of the kids. Their giggles and laughs all mixed together were the best sound in the world. Neil and I DID watch Mad Men after the kids went to bed, but still, I didn’t check my social media or look at my phone. I actually watched the show. Sadly, because how is it over already? It feels weird to me. I’ll miss you Mad Men. Anyway, screen free day was a success. Besides the fact that Oliver jumped off the couch and landed on his face, resulting in a big fat lip.

  
And then right before bed he slipped on a blanket someone left on the floor and landed hard on the side of his face. Thankfully by the time the bruise showed up today, the swelling from his fat lip had gone down, so he didn’t look quite as battered as he potentially could have.

And that was our May long weekend. No exciting adventures or anything, but a long weekend is a long weekend, and we love them.

Hope yours was good too.

Oliver :: Five

Oliver turned five on the 8th. He was so excited, and woke up an hour earlier than usual. He climbed into bed with me and said “I’m a little nervous about being five.” But we had a great day planned, where he was the birthday boss, and we would do whatever he wanted, so there was no reason to be nervous about getting older.

I had been collecting gifts for Oliver for months, starting when Target started closing down and clearing out their toys. When it came time wrap gifts, I realized we had A LOT of stuff for Oliver, but what the heck, you only turn five once. Part of me is definitely trying to make up for his super junky birthday last year. I still feel the major mom guilt over that one, even if Oliver has never ever complained about it.

Neil drew up the chalkboard and we hung up balloons and a banner. I woke up early to make breakfast pancakes. You can tell right there how deep the mom guilt runs, because no one in this family gets pancakes on a weekday. (Even though they’re really not that hard, I don’t know why.)

We stacked up the sprinkle pancakes and covered them with glaze and more sprinkles, and stuck all those candles in them. Oliver was happy while we sang happy birthday. Then, as in all birthday candle events, it was time to blow the candles out. Oliver could NOT figure this out. Seriously, he must have attempted to blow them out like 15 times, then finally gave up and called in the reinforcements. So that explains why he failed swimming lessons too. The kid can literally not blow bubbles in the water. Hey, it’s super challenging right? We’ll cut him some slack, and try to figure out how to teach him to forcefully exhale through pursed lips before his next round of lessons.

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He opened some presents, which were quickly hijacked by all of his siblings, but especially Ivy. Story of Oliver’s life, really.

After the boys went to school we went to the children’s museum, where I spent two hours continuously losing one child and then another. That is one place where my kids have absolutely no concern or regard for my whereabouts. And of course, they don’t actually want to be in the same places in there either. One wants to be in the train, the other one wants to be in the water area. Then switch. Anyway, Oliver had fun, and that’s all that mattered yesterday. I even sat in the play structure for ages, because its slightly too big for him, so he could get up and around in there.

After the museum, Oliver had planned for us to go to Pineridge Hollow for a cinnamon bun; a choice I was personally thrilled with. But on the way there, he changed his mind (noooo!) so I grabbed him a sprinkle donut at Tim Hortons instead, and we went home to make soft-boiled eggs, his current favorite lunch. (Mine too!)

In the afternoon he picked his favorite movie to watch, Despicable Me 2, then, when the boys got home from school, we went to McDonald’s for supper. My sister and a couple of her girls met us there, and so did our friends the Downies with their. I give kudos to those wonderful grown-ups who gave up two hours of their time to hang out with Oliver in a McDonald’s play place with 25 screaming children. Oliver had a great time and was so excited to get a whole bunch of Trashies for his birthday, and a new whale stuffie too. He named it Blue and couldn’t wait to introduce it to the stuffed giraffe he got for his birthday last year.

After McDonalds we came home and Oliver opened his last few birthday presents. He now owns basically every Jake and the Neverland Pirates toy in existence, and over 30 Trashies and a few garbage trucks. I don’t know who invented tiny squishy toys shaped like pieces of garbage with funny faces, but whoever did clearly understood the mind of a five year old boy. Anyway, I think Oliver’s birthday was a huge success. He was very happy.

I asked him a few questions, just to help me remember what he’s like at this age.

What is your name?

Oliver

How old are you?

Five.

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What’s the hardest part about being a kid?

That you got to wait in the car so much and some kids aren’t good at waiting. Clearly I leave my kids waiting in the car too often. Don’t call CFS.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A artist.

If you had a million dollars, what would you buy?

I would buy a Jake Lego set that has 102 pieces.

If you could change one rule our family has, what would it be?

I would change the one where everyone interrupts me. #thirdchildproblems

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Do you have any pets?

I do a giraffe-y and my gigis. I guess the real pet doesn’t count?

What do you think they would say if they could talk?

I love you Oliver.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Easter.

Why?

Because you get to get candy. If somebody stays up they might be able to hide and quickly take a picture of the Easter bunny and go back to bed.

What’s your favorite hair color?

Black. Because it’s so dark and I like dark things. Um..Trying not to let this worry me.

What is your favorite food?

Pizza

What is your favorite animal?

A giraffe.

Who do you want to marry?

I wish I could marry you.

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Who is your best friend?

Gage.

What is your favorite book?

The boy and the penguin. Also known as Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. A real good one; I highly recommend!

What is your favorite place in the whole world?

The dino museum. Remember that one, at Dad’s birthday?

What do mom and dad do after you go to bed?

Pray to me.

What does your mom do?

Takes care of babies.

What does your dad do?

Builds stuff. Is that true?

Oh Oliver, I love your five year old self so much. You are compassionate and kind, quick to forgive, and generous with your love. You’re truly a gift to our family. Happy birthday bud.

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