First Day of School //2016-17

Okay so I posted like one time over the summer and now it’s ever-so-suddenly fall. What even just happened? Blink. It’s over. Sigh.

Today the kids went back to school. First grade for Oliver, third for Ben, and fifth for Seth.

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Oh Oliver, how can you be in grade one already? I miss you already, so much. I thought of you so often today, and I’m feeling sad about you going to school again tomorrow already! I’m so happy you had such a great first day, though. I loved seeing your big smiling face in line with your new classmates, waiting to follow your new teacher in for a brand new year. I got choked up saying good-bye to you, just like I’m choked up again just writing about it. I just love you so much buddy. I love the kid that you are, and I know your class will too.You’re so friendly, kind of quirky, and really fun. I took these pictures half an hour before the bus was due to arrive, and you wouldn’t even come back inside afterwards- you just wanted to wait outside and be ready. You were laying on the driveway using your backpack as a pillow waiting for the rest of us, which made us all smile.

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Benji, I’m so glad you had such a great day too! I’m so glad it wasn’t nearly as scary as you thought it would be, and I’m really so glad you liked your teacher too. I’m happy you had so much fun at recess playing soccer with your friends, and I’m glad you were so hungry that you ate your whole lunch up. It makes me feel like the nervousness that left you with no appetite for breakfast was gone, and that makes me happy. I hate it when you’re anxious about things, but I’m always proud that you know what you’re feeling and are able to acknowledge it as normal and okay. Those times when you tell me your tummy feels funny and that you’re nervous, and then we can pray about it together- I’m just happy we can do that, and that you can tell me those things. I’m really excited for you to have such a great year. You’re starting to know more and more who you are, and who you are is seriously just so fun. You’re very into clothes lately and are developing your very own sense of style. It’s kind of weird, and I like it. You love knee high socks these days, and when I bought you new underwear you were so excited it might as well have been Christmas. Those kind of things make you who you are and I just love it!

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Aw man, Seth. Why are you so grown up already? Last year of elementary school! You’re the oldest kids in the school now and I know you’re excited about that. I know you were nervous about having a teacher with a reputation for being very strict, and I’m really glad you liked her so much. I know you’ll have no problem at all with a teacher who demands the best from her students. You ARE a student.You love learning! You always work independently and do your best, and I know you’re gonna ace grade five just like every other grade. I’m excited to see how you get involved with patrolling or volunteering in other areas of the school this year. I know the younger kids really look up to you, and I know you’re an excellent role model for them. Oliver told you yesterday that you were his favorite patrol, and your face beamed so big. It made me so proud, and so happy. I’m so happy that the rest of my kids have you as their big brother. I know you’re always gonna look out for them and have their backs.

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So here we go! Cheers to another amazing school year ahead of us; to learning, to laughing, to making friends, and to being kind! I love you, kids, more than you’ll ever know.

Tinkertown.

On Tuesday we went to Tinkertown for Seth’s “birthday”. It’s always someone’s birthday when we go because saving money is our favorite. We went with Alissa and her kids, and Breanne and her two girls. Three adults to nine kids- seemed like a pretty good ratio.

It was a hot day but there was a nice breeze. We got there when Tinkertown opened at noon and stayed till it closed at 7. We got our money’s worth, people.

 

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Filed under “things no one tells you before you grow up” you’ll find “You lose the ability to swing up and down or spin around at all without getting the cold sweats and immediately nauseated followed by either actually throwing up or just feeling like you’re on the brink of vomiting for an entire hour afterwards.” For us grown-ups, Tinkertown is a cross between having so much fun sitting by your kids who are laughing uncontrollably having the time of their lives, and feeling super sick for an entire day.

The kids really did have the best time though.

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Seth and Ciara were practically joined at the hip, which always makes my heart happy. Those two don’t see each other that often, and I love how they love each other still, at ten. I hope and pray so hard it’s a lifelong friendship that only gets better and better.

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A bunch of the kids did that horrible pirate ship thing many many times in a row. So many times. So. Many. I had to go on it with the littler kids a couple times because Alissa and Breanne had already thrown up, for real, less than an hour into our day. I don’t mind that ride that much, but two times in a row was way too many times, and I barely made it off of there.

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I did better than Lucy though, because she staggered off, throwing up all the way down the off- ramp, and then barely made it over to the bench we were sitting on before she was threw up again.She shut the ride down so staff could come hose it down. That’s pretty awesome. We made it to at a 25% puke rate. I’m proud to say none of my family puked, although I was incredibly close more than once. Oliver remembered throwing up last year, so he was extra cautious with his ride choices this year, smart kid.

Us moms faded fast in the hot sun, so we set up under some shade and let the kids have at ‘er. The big kids were old enough to do their own thing and come back and find us, and the littler kids paired up with the medium kids to do some rides right where we could see them. I lost Oliver once and didn’t even know it, but besides that, I think we did really well going home with the exact amount of kids we arrived with.Alissa found Oliver wandering around somewhere while I was sitting at a bench beside a play structure waiting for him to come out when apparently he’d left quite awhile ago…. Oops.

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We ate fried dill pickles and cotton candy for supper. Seth loved those fried pickles so much, he ate half of mine when I had to take a kid to the bathroom. I bought him another one and then I ate half of his when he wasn’t looking. He said next year he’s bringing his own money so he can have as many fried pickles as he wants.

Group shots are hard with nine kids, but we tried.

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I can’t remember what Oliver’s problem was there, but the picture was non-optional, crying or not.

Even though it completely exhausted us and made most of us sick, it was another fabulous year at Tinkertown. Can’t wait to do it again next year.

 

 

In Canmore.

We got to Canmore Monday afternoon. We booked a condo kind of place with three bedrooms and a full kitchen so we could save money (and sanity) by not eating out as much. It’s big and spacious which is awesome, and cooking here has been great. Unfortunately the place we are staying at does not have a/c, and we got to Canmore just in time for some insane heat. So, nothing like spending hours hiking in the hot sun and then coming home to a sauna for the evening. Needless to say we’ve been spending a lot of time in our underwear.

Our first evening we just hung out, explored in town, did some laundry at the laundromat, and got ice cream. The next morning Oliver woke up with a fever, which kind of threw a wrench in our plans.

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Thankfully some Advil perked him up enough that he proclaimed himself well enough for a hike and a trip to the candy store in Banff, so we jumped in the van and went for it.

We went to Johnston’s Canyon.

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We tried to hike it last year but it was a sheet of deadly ice so we were forced to bail. Ben was in a grumpy mood and complained almost the entire 5 km but everyone else did fairly well, including poor Oliver. I mean, what kind of people are we to make a little kid hike 5 km when he’s sick? I feel like a bad person. Honestly, though, he didn’t even complain. He slowed down a bit at the end so Neil carried him out.

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Neil has some better pictures on his GoPro but they’re not here on my computer so you’ll just have to imagine pretty waterfalls.

Ivy and Oliver and I took a little break when Neil and the bigs hiked down and under the waterfall.

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Oliver has very little tolerance for any kind of physical affection from basically anyone besides me.

After the hike we ate a picnic lunch and then drove into Banff. Everyone fell asleep on the drive and Oliver was next to impossible to wake up. Eventually Neil just dragged him out of the van and down to the toy store where he woke up for long enough to pick out a toy and some candy and walk a bit, and then that was it and he was done again. But so were we all, really, so it was ok.

We headed back to our condo for pizza and some Netflix and called it a day.

This morning Oliver is still sleeping and it’s almost ten. Neil has taken the rest of the kids to the skate park to play and then we are planning on hitting up the pool and mostly doing inside-out-of-the-sweltering-heat things. Ben really really wants to go out for supper in a “nice” restaurant tonight so I think we will do that as long as Oliver is up for it.

It’s supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow and I’m sure Oliver will be feeling better by then too, so hopefully we can squeeze in one last hike before we head back to the flat lands of Manitoba.

 

 

Road trippin’.

On Friday morning we packed up and drove to Medicine Hat. Ivy literally asked “Are we there yet?” over ten times, averaging at least once every 40 minutes. She usually responded with wailing and gnashing of teeth whenever we replied, no, not yet, only 9 more hours, or whatever. At the three hour mark she cried out, “But we’ve been driving for fifteen hundred HOURS!” All in all the drive went well. We passed the time with DVDs, podcasts, and books, and it was no sweat.

By the time we arrived at the hotel Ivy cried, “This is the best day of my whole life!” and the kids spent the evening and next morning swimming happily in the pool. Ivy called the hotel the “ho-an-tell” like “show-and-tell” which was pretty funny.

After breakfast and swimming we drove the three-ish hours from Medicine Hat to Waterton Lakes National Park. It was mind-blowingingly beautiful. We found a campsite and set up our tent and then we went to Red Rock Canyon for a hike. We almost left Ivy in the middle of the path crying about how much she hates hikes.

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We bribed kids with ice cream to get them to stand for a picture. You do what you gotta do.

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I literally felt like throwing up most of the time at the canyon because even though it was incredibly beautiful I was sure my kids were going to a) fall down the canyon or b) slip into the rapids and never be seen from again. Thankfully neither of those things happened. The kids played for forever in the FREEZING cold water. Like seriously, the couple times I walked through it my feet starting cramping up from the pain of the cold, yet somehow the kids didn’t even seem to notice it.

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We cooked hot dogs over the fire for supper and then the boys played at the riverside that was just a few steps away from our campsite. Nothing beats throwing rocks when you’re a boy, it seems.

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There were mule deer all over the campsite. More deer than squirrels, for real.

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Look at our campsite though! Seriously!!!

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We all slept in that four man tent, all head to toe and toe to head and all over the place and it was just fine. Everyone slept all night straight through till 7:30 in the morning. Can’t complain about that.

The next day we did what we thought was a hike to a waterfall but was actually a mislabeled hike to a lake eight hours away. Thankfully another hiker filled us in before we hiked toooooo far. We made it basically to the top of the mountain we were on, and it was a beautiful hike, so it was all good. I don’t even think anyone complained on that hike, strangely enough.

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By the end of that hike it was getting pretty hot out. We moved campsites because our first campsite was closing for renos or something, but we were still camping, which meant kind of nowhere to sit and relax and cool down. Ivy and I had a nap but everyone else declined. They all regretted that decision later, believe me. Our new campsite was fun, too. It was right in town, but in a little field of small hills, with ground squirrels everywhere to keep the kids busy. There was a river and the lake right nearby too. And more mountain views of course.

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I wouldn’t normally pick a campsite in an open field, but I actually really loved this spot too. After naps we played in town a bit, threw more rocks in water, and then drove up to the Prince of Wales hotel. I didn’t get a great picture of it, but it’s right on the top of this big hill and the view is just incredible. It’s a really neat old hotel inside too.

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Powdered donuts at the campsite made for some of my favorite pictures ever.

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We dragged the kids on another small hike after supper and crashed for one more night in Waterton. I was freezing most of the night but once again, no peeps to be heard from the kids. In the morning we pretty much packed up and headed out for Canmore.

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I have to say that Waterton is probably one of my new favorite places ever. The town is sort of like Clear Lake but one million times better, or like Banff but so much calmer and less tourist-y. On one of the hikes I said to Neil that Waterton is basically as amazing as Costa Rica. Different beautiful, but still, SO beautiful. I just loved it. I would totally spend a week camping there and just chilling out, hiking, exploring, eating yummy foods, and enjoying all the pretty. Hopefully one day we can do that!

 

 

Sunday, May 8.

Because I couldn’t think of a clever title.

Sunday, May 8, was both Mother’s Day and Oliver’s actual birthday. Which basically meant no Mother’s Day laying about for me, but that was ok. Neil picked me up a couple books that I’m really excited to read, and the kids gave me a couple sweet gifts they made at school. Ben wrote me a poem that I’ll share on here another time because I love it so much I feel like it deserves it’s own post.

Oliver opened his gifts from us, and had his birthday breakfast of choice: peanut butter and bananas on toast. That kid eats at least two bananas every day, and often three. He’s a banana fanatic.

We went to church- Oliver was soooo excited to get to go to church on his birthday and be able to pick a prize out of the birthday box. After church we went for donuts with Neil’s parents, and then we came home to get ready for the big birthday/mother’s day party.

We were celebrating my grammy’s birthday, my birthday, Oliver’s birthday, Lucy’s birthday, and Mother’s Day. All my family came. It was a beautiful day out and we had a great time eating yummy food and visiting while the cousins all played hard together.

Tali pulled Ivy around in the car.

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And then Lucy pushed her around, heels on and mocktail in hand.

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Ivy’s clearly living the good life.

Brielle just loved Neil’s beard. She couldn’t stop touching it. So darn cute, that baby!

I’m so thankful for our family and all the fun we have together. Such a good bunch of people we are.😉

Happy birthday/mother’s day to us!

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And can we talk about how cute these two are?

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Oliver :: Six.

Well, the littlest boy turned six last weekend. We celebrated on Saturday with his first-ever school friends birthday party. I was so excited to meet Oliver’s friends, and all of the rsvp’s were from moms telling me that their kids were sooooo excited to come to Oliver’s birthday party. One of the kids even tried to convince his mom that the party was earlier than it actually was. I told her to just bring him over early anyway if he was that excited, and so she did.

All Oliver wanted for his birthday was Minion stuff. Minion everything! And a candy table. He reallllly wanted a candy table. And he told allllll the kids at school he would have a candy table. I feel like this may have contributed to the overall excitement level with his friends. So we whipped together a super simple birthday party. A yellow cake with some minion toys on top, a minion tattoo station, pin the eye on the minion, and of course, a candy table. I even made some Minion eye photo props just for fun the morning of the party. We went to Bulk Barn and tried to pick yellow candies or candies that minions might like, and then I let the kids fill their own treat bags. Seth and Ben were really excited about Oliver’s party too, and took charge of things like the tattoos and some outside games. Neil and I pretty much sat around and watched while they ran the show. Pretty awesome.

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day out, so kids jumped on trampolines and played Ollie Ollie Octopus and kicked a soccer ball around. Nothing beats being able to play in the backyard for a birthday!

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Oliver had so much fun with his friends, and I think they had so much fun too. While they were eating cake, one of the kids said, “This is the best day of my life.” I mean, melt. This was the first year Oliver knew how to blow out candles, so that was exciting! Look at that sweet face!

It was such a great day celebrating our amazing kid. Happy birthday Oliver! We love you!

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It’s my birthday.

I turned 35 today.

It was awesome.

I woke up to Benji bringing me a cup of coffee in bed. Not just a regular cup- he had drawn little pictures and cut them out and used tape to decorate my coffee cup. Pretty special.

And then he gave me the birthday card he made me.

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Um. What? Likely just Ben being Ben I thought to myself.

Then Seth asked me what I wanted on my pancakes. Pancakes? What alternate universe am I living in right now? Not only did Neil take a day off work to spend with me on my birthday (what! Just call me the luckiest ever) BUT he also googled a recipe and made me some pancakes. Not just pancakes, but HEART SHAPED pancakes. Clearly this was going to be the best birthday ever. You guys, I just love my family so so so much.

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When I was done my pancakes the kids told me to come to the livingroom to sit on the birthday throne they had made me. There were blankets and pillows and presents, so I sat.

Straight onto a whoopie cushion. All of a sudden the birthday card warning made sense. Oliver laughed so hard he was slapping the couch. It was actually awesome.

Neil got me a pile of stuff from Lush, a super awesome t-shirt, and a freaking awesome non-hoodie. And a beach hat. Ivy was adamant that I get a beach hat for my birthday, and had been talking about it for like a solid month. And then a couple days ago she was like, “I’m SO sorry, Mom. We forgot to get you a beach hat!” She tricked me!

So then ALL  of my kids went to school. It happened to be the one morning a week Ivy has preschool. So obviously Neil and I took advantage of our child-free time and… went for a walk at Bird’s Hill. And maybe some other stuff, not gonna lie. But mostly, a hike at Bird’s Hill.😉

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It was HOT you guys. The walk. And maybe some other stuff. Just sayin. Weather records were broken today for real. It got up to 33!

We had delicious sandwiches for lunch and iced coffee on the deck and took it easy all afternoon. When the kids got home we went to the beach! On a Thursday! On May 5!

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We were planning to roast hot dogs at the beach but it was actually way too hot for a fire, so we went home and made them in the oven instead. Then we bathed all the dirty children, caught up on Survivor, and ate birthday cake.

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Now kids are in bed, besides that one who just wandered out here and asked us if she could cuddle us. We’re in the process of dropping empty threats so we can crack open that bottle of wine asap.

It’s been the best birthday, and the good news is that the birthday partying isn’t done yet. Tomorrow I prep for Oliver’s birthday, Saturday is his party, and Sunday is Mother’s Day/Oliver’s birthday/big family party. It should be awesome.

Cheers to 35!