Sitting here in my favorite spot on the couch drinking coffee, watching Ivy draw at the table, and I can’t help but feel like I just want to let this moment sink deep. I want it to go somewhere in my brain where I can easily access it again, years from now when she’s a teenager doing whatever teenagers do. But in reality I know I’ll totally forget it, it’ll be a vague distant “what was that even like?” kind of feeling. That’s why, instead of scrolling through my instagram feed, again, I’m just stopping and documenting. 

I want to remember how we spent the morning signing school agendas and home reading forms; packing backpacks and discussing middle school orientation with Seth, recess-time plans with Oliver. How Ben was so excited about the new underwear I bought him last night. How Ivy asked Oliver to teach her to draw, and how he happily obliged. How I helped Oliver turn his shirt around so it wasn’t backwards, like I do almost every morning. How Seth talked about what video games he wanted to play after swimming lessons today. 

I read something somewhere that struck such a chord with me- it said “it’s not that you want more babies, but you want more time with the babies you already have.” Yes, I do! I want more time! But there’s no more time to be had, and so I’m working on slowing down more, on making the most of the time we’re in.

The other night when I was tucking the bigs in, I prayed with Seth and kissed him goodnight like usual. He looked so content and full of love, like he always does, that I climbed into bed with him and just laid there with him for a few minutes. He held me beside him (he’s almost as big as me now!) and held my hand while I laid there, and I felt like I couldn’t remember the last time I did that. Why do I rush to get those kids tucked in as quickly as possible, like it’s a race to “free time”? Honestly of course by 8pm I’m more than ready for some free time, but I need to remind myself how fast these years fly by, and try my hardest to slow them down!

Anyway, end of emotional rambling. I think with middle school AND kindergarten coming up this fall I’m feeling the feels extra hard right now. I feel like I’m in a near-constant state of lump-in-my-throat, tears-prickling-at-the-back-of-my-eyes emotions. Who knew I would be such an emotional softie when it came to my kids growing up? I’ll tell you, four years ago I wouldn’t have guessed this would be me.


So, may I never forget what it’s like to have little bodies that sit at my table and cover it with countless papers, pens, and markers. May I hold them close and hold them long. 

At the zoo.

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It had been awhile since we used our zoo memberships so last week we took advantage of an inservice day and headed out. It’s a long drive for us, but literally every time we’re there I wonder why we don’t come more often. We always have the greatest time and are usually there as long as we possibly can be.

That random toddler kept photo bombing my shots!

My favorite part is the polar bears. I just can’t get over how awesome they are swimming around in the tunnel. The one that was swimming when we were there last week was relatively new to the exhibit and he was so playful. He was basically taking selfies with people. He was selfie’d out by the time the other people were done taking pictures with him, but he still followed Ivy around, and tried to catch Ben’s toque. The zoo volunteer there said she’d never seen him do that before.

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The seals are a lot of fun too. There are so many of them now and the kids had so much fun with them.

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After the polar bears we had a snack and the kids played in the indoor playground. I feel like they could easily spend an entire day in that playground. This time I left them in there and drank my coffee in the restaurant area alone. It was pretty sweet sipping my coffee in the quiet sunshine instead of in the dark noisy play area.

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After the zoo I had promised Oliver he could buy a new fish for his tank. Ivy had to play with the hamsters of course.

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She just loves anything tiny and fluffy. And I mean, they are pretty cute.

Anyway, it was a super fun day. We kind of rushed home because Neil got Jets tickets on the glass last-minute and he was going to take Ben with him.


 Neil was worried about Seth being upset but Seth very matter-of-fact and truthfully responded that he didn’t really care about hockey games and that he’d rather read. Good old Seth. And you know, he wasn’t lying one bit.

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Lately he’s been choosing to read in his room instead of the living room, and since he reads for hours a day, I miss him!  But I don’t blame him, if I could find a quiet place to read all day I totally would!

Ben :: Nine.

My little chubby cheeked baby turned nine yesterday.

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What a kid he is. He’s growing up so fast but he’s still that same kid he’s been since he was a baby, with that sparkling personality, that tender heart and that amazing sense of humor. He’s loyal and loving and good to his friends and to his family.

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He loves clothes. So much. He would probably spend almost all his money on skateboard/BMX brand clothing if he could. He even loves underwear. New underwear makes him so happy, it’s hilarious. I got him a one-piece hooded fleece pajama thing for Christmas and he wears it all the time. He knows what he likes and he has a really good sense of style. He’s particular about his hair and his appearance and careful to brush his teeth twice a day. I just love this about him, although I feel like it’s gonna make me go broke. His hat/toque collection is almost as extensive as Neil’s, and, like Neil, he refuses to leave the house without something on his head.

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He loves BMX biking. LOVES it. He asked for a new BMX bike for his birthday. Not a Wal-Mart kind, but a real BMX bike. Like a billion dollar kind. He said if everyone chipped in and just gave him money for his birthday then he could get a bike. He said that would be all he needed. And so that’s what we did. Neil ordered a bike for Ben, after browsing online with him for hours. Ben NEEDED gum colored tires. And he was very particular about the bike color too, of course. You can’t just buy Ben any old BMX on sale.  He wants to ride in style. And so he will, this summer. He loves his new bike. And strangely enough, the weather has been that he could practically take it for a ride now. So far he’s stuck to riding it around the basement so he doesn’t get the tires too dirty.


This year Neil and our friend built a backyard rink. Ben has loved skating there. Every time we’re there he’s just so happy. And he knows it, and appreciates it. He says things like, “This is so awesome Mom. I love it so much.” I love how he loves things. He loved the ocean and he loves hikes through woods with big rocks and roots to jump all over.

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He loves drawing, especially funny faces or potty-humor related things. For his presentation at school last week he taught his classmates how to draw a funny face. He was a very distinct style to his funny faces, and always draws them the same way. Since we watched his presentation a few times at home for practice, now Ivy draws them the same too.

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Ben doesn’t like hot dogs and he doesn’t like icing. Such a weird kid that way, I just don’t get it. He does love pizza, like any normal kid. He requested crepes with fruit filling for his birthday supper, and a Reese’s ice cream cake with a “nine” candle. Not nine candles, a “nine” candle. He picked the cake part out of the ice cream cake. Ivy liked the cake part and not the ice cream part (girl after my own heart). Next time I’ll make them share a piece since they like opposite parts.


It’s extremely hard to get a picture of Ben with a “normal” face. Weird faces are his normal, to be honest.
I love my nine year old Ben. I told Ivy today that I’m the luckiest Mom in the whole world. She asked me if I knew that some moms have five or even six children. Yes, I knew that. Well those moms are luckier than you, Mom, she said. I said that those moms are very very lucky, yes, but unfortunately for those moms, they don’t have the very best four children in the whole wide world. Ben is such a vital and amazing part of our family and every day I thank God that I get to be his mom. There’s no one else I’d rather be.


Happy ninth birthday, Benji. I’ll keep you forever, for sure.

ps Ben turns two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. So many birthdays I’ve blogged! Every year I birthday blog I sit and read through all the other birthdays and I’m reminded what a thief time is!

Kaua’i day 5!

I’m so exhausted guys. It’s 8:53 pm and this is the first time I’ve been awake this late all week. I’m trying to stay awake past 9 so Neil doesn’t think I’m a total loser but I’m really struggling here.


This morning we fed the koi. Again. Ivy was brave enough to do it this time.

Obviously we have plans to do it again tomorrow. 

After fish feeding we went on a PLANE RIDE!


We went on a six passenger plane for a tour around Kauai. It was amazing!! 


This island is so beautiful. The landscape is just so dramatic- it takes your breath away, really. We saw sooooo many waterfalls, too. The pilot showed us a bunch of places where movies were filmed and as totally corny as it is, flying up to the waterfall that was filmed in Jurassic Park, while listening to the Jurassic Park soundtrack was SO. FUN. So, so fun.


Right after we took off we spotted whales playing in the ocean, and the pilot circled around for us to see them some more. So great. Seth and I saw a pod of dolphins too. Would have been cooler on the water but still neat from the sky too! 

Approximately ten minutes into our flight Ivy fell asleep.


I’m calling it a very expensive nap. Oliver nodded off towards the end and Ben fell asleep for a few minutes too. We’re really wearing them out on this holiday. 

After our flight we went to Lydgate beach park. There is the coolest playground I’ve ever seen there. It is so big and soooo fun. So many nooks and crannies for kids to run through- a lot of spaces where adults have to really crouch down to get through and some adults wouldn’t fit at all I don’t think. They played tag and hide and seek in there for forever.


There’s a really neat sheltered beach area there too. It’s all built up with big rocks so the big waves don’t get in. Seth and Neil went snorkelling again and saw some lots of fish. The rest of the kids just played in the calm waters.

I begged/pleaded/bribed/forced the kids to take some pictures after swimming. They hated me for it but obliged because I told them they wouldn’t get supper if they didn’t.


They’re so cute though, right? You’d never know the trouble they give me when it comes to photos.


After the beach we went to Kapa’a for supper where it happened to be the big town farmer’s market/live music thing they do on the first Saturday of the month. Let’s just say we were lucky not to lose a kid. Everyone was having a tough time trying to decide what to eat but Oliver saw some corn on the cob and he was sold. I added in a chicken taquito for him and he was just so happy. The other boys had pizza and Ivy ate half of my supper, which I was thoroughly enjoying and had no intention of sharing. I had to share with Seth too to be honest. Those little jerks.

Tomorrow Neil is taking the bigs on an ATV tour and me and the littles are gonna chill, at least for a couple hours.

Hey, I stayed up till 9:16! #winning

Kaua’i day 4!


Today we did the south side again. We started out with some shopping and snorkel renting in Koloa and then we went to Lawai beach.


Seth had so much fun snorkelling. He is just a natural in the water. I just love watching him swim and watching him snorkel was even more fun. He snorkelled for a long time with Neil, and then Ben went with them too. Ben was not very comfortable swimming with flippers on and was still nervous about the waves so we strapped a life jacket on him and left him flipper-less and he did just fine. 


After Neil came back I went out with Seth. As much as I like seeing fish in the ocean, and as much as I wish it was, snorkelling is just not my jam. I always make myself do it, but I always feel sort of anxious the whole time. I’m not afraid of the water or the fish, I don’t know what my problem is. Anyway I did it and I just followed Seth around. Seeing my ten year old swim around and dive down to touch fish made me more confident that I could handle it too.


Still, I didn’t last long. Neil went back out again with Seth, who we eventually dragged back in. He said the snorkelling has been his favourite part of the trip so far. 

Ivy kept busy at the beach collecting big rocks that were her “babies”. She had six babies!!! 😉 She kept covering them in sand and then giving them “bath-es”.

Oliver just wandered around, played in the sand, and explored. He spotted a bunch of crabs and that kept the kids busy for awhile- trying to catch one. No luck.



After that beach we grabbed a loaf of bread and made some sandwiches out of the back of our van, then went to Poipu beach for some swimming. Oliver played with a sea slug for like 45 minutes there.


That was the first beach where it was calm enough for Ivy to really get in and swim and oh she sure had a good time! 

Our drive home was so pretty we just had to pull over and take some pictures. The pictures of course don’t do it any sort of justice. I have been taking a lot of video too- it’s just so so beautiful here!!

Neil wanted to take a picture of our vehicle. I reserved a minivan but we totally got upgraded to a fully loaded Yukon XL. This thing is HUGE. I can barely even see the kids who are in the very back. And you could easily fit four children across each seat it is soooo roomy. And it has seat coolers! I didn’t even know that could be a thing!


Anyway it’s pretty nice to have even if it’s just for a week!

After supper some of the kids and I went for a walk and then we found a biiiiiig toad. He was sitting pretty much exactly where we saw him a couple nights ago. He was not worried about kids touching him- he just sat on the ground. Eventually Ben worked up the nerve to pick him up (he is SO big you guys!!) and then we brought him inside to see Neil and Seth.


Ivy’s face just kills me in that picture- she was actually having so much fun but for some reason she really pulled out her poker face for that picture. 
He basically sat in Ben’s hands totally chill. Until he hopped out and tried to get under the couch. Thankfully Ben caught him in time and we released him back outside. Super fun times. 🙂

Kaua’i Day 2 and 3!

We slept till 6:30 our second day! Woot!


We decided to go check out Waimea Canyon- aka the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It was a pretty cool drive up there. The dirt is so so red- it’s crazy! 


We got up to the lookout and the view really is pretty amazing. It was hampered somewhat by the wailing five year old. Ivy  was not in the mood to be in Waimea apparently. She was throwing a huge obnoxious fit, so that was awesome. We didn’t stay too long because kids aren’t impressed by things like enormous canyons with sweeping vistas and waterfalls.


We wanted to do a hike there but really had trouble finding somewhere to hike due to lack of signage and maps and internet. We did find somewhere and did do a bit of a hike but we didn’t last too long because it was a lot of downhill which we knew meant a lot of uphill on the way back. Ivy literally whined the entire way downhill but somehow as soon  as we turned around and had to climb steeply uphill with loads of switchbacks she was full of energy and happy. Sigh. As pretty as the hike was we decided we’d rather be at the beach anyway.


We headed west after Waimea. We went to Polihale, which is almost as far west as you can go here. You have to drive down a four mile stretch of super bumpy pot holes crazy dirt road to get there. But once you’re there you climb down these huge sand dunes to miles of wide white sand beach that you pretty much have to yourself. There were about six other people there with us I think. It was amazing.


The waves though. I was pretty worried someone was gonna drown. They were insane. We played it as safe as we could and the kids had so much fun playing in those monstrous waves under the hot sun.


By the time we were done playing in the waves we were all pretty tired again so we just headed back to the condo to play in the pool, eat leftover pizza, and go to bed early again.

The next day we headed over to the Marriot for the koi feeding. It was so much fun! Ben was laughing so hard at the feeing of fish eating out of his hand; it was amazing. He seriously has the most infectious laugh.


After feeding the fish we took a quick little drive up to some water falls near where we are staying. They’re right at the side of the road so no hiking required.


There was a family there selling coconuts out of the back of their truck. Oliver’s number one thing to do in Hawaii since we booked this trip was to drink out of a coconut so obviously we made that happen.


After we finished our coconut they gave us another one for free so that was awesome. They had two small boys and were pregnant with their third baby so I think they were reassured seeing a happy family with three great boys and one girl. We told them our third boy was our nicest and our favourite too. 😉 

After the waterfall we drove up to the north shore. We stopped in Hanalei Bay for more swimming in waves. The kids have been having the best time playing in the ocean which is making me so happy. The last time we were at an ocean they refused to go in because they were too afraid of sharks. Much better this time. 🙂


  We did a little shopping in Hanalei Bay too- Ben bought himself a new hat of course. We got our first shave ice too. It was pretty tasty but sooooo messy. Oliver was like elbow deep in melted shave ice.

 

After the bay we stopped at another random beach, explored a huge cave, and then ended up at Ke’e beach. It was such a cool beach!


 You walk through this super neat forest to get there and then on the beach there are all these huge trees with amazing root systems. So neat! The beach is basically at the end of the highway on the north shore. There is a hike there we want to do so we will definitely go back to that beach again. 


Ivy and Ben has so much fun playing at that beach. They were pretending a piece of coral was their baby, but they kept throwing their “baby” in the ocean and watching it get washed away in the waves and then rescuing it. And then repeating that scenario over and over again. 


On our way home we stopped at The Shrimp Station for supper. Oliver is a shrimp fanatic (known to devour an entire shrimp ring on his own) and so this was a must-stop for him. The shrimp really was pretty good and Oliver was really happy so it was a win win.

We’re in Kaua’i!

We flew to Kaua’i for a family vacay on Monday. We flew through Calgary and Vancouver and somehow it went really mostly very smoothly. We pretty much went directly from one plane onto another and basically took off right away each time. 

It was nice not to have to wait around anywhere but I was definitely a little stressed out luggage wouldn’t make it with us. But it did! Kids did well on the flights although poor Oliver and Ivy really had a hard time with the last two landings. Their ears were hurting so bad they were crying and I couldn’t convince them to try anything that might help. Thankfully that pain is short-lived (although it seems like it’s never gonna end when you’re trying to comfort an inconsolable suffering child).
We landed in Kauai at around 10pm and managed to get our rental car pretty quickly. Our condo is only five minutes from the airport and that was very much appreciated! We were all so tired although the kids were in that weird hyper over-tired place that kids go.

Anyway we got settled in and went to sleep pretty much right away and we managed to sleep till about 5/5:30 Kauai time (9:30 Manitoba time). It wasn’t too horrible but the sun doesn’t come up here until 7:15 and it sure felt like a long two hours waiting to see what was actually out our condo windows! Oliver used the time to start a journal of his trip. He did this 100% of his own accord with absolutely no prompting. He’s just awesome like that. This line from his first day just killed me:


“Yesterday I got at Kauai. I woc up by hrdd sum thickin.”

In other words, “I woke up by hearing some chickens.” I die. Seriously though, there’s more chickens than people here I think!!

The first thing we did once the sun came up was go get some coffee and breakfast.

The place I had googled for breakfast happened to just be a short walk away, so that was great. After we ate we explored on the little beach nearby. We realized it was the Marriot right there too, and that was the place with the Koi fish pond that the kids had been dying to see. It was pretty much at the top of Oliver’s list of things to see while we were in Kauai. 

Dreams come true guys. Sometime after this everyone started getting seriously cranky and tired and so we ended up all having a nap. I think it was still only like 9:30 am at this point!! Anyway we all felt a lot better after a nap and so we headed to the south shore to see what we could see. It wasn’t a super warm day unfortunately- pretty windy, so as much as the kids wanted to play in the water, they were all feeling a little too chilly pretty quickly. We still had fun though- saw a HUGE monk seal sleeping on the beach, and a sea turtle too!

Mostly the kids were just dying to go swim at the condo’s pool. As much as we tried to explain to them that the ocean was cooler than a pool, we couldn’t convince them. We stopped for groceries at Costco , ate samples for our late lunch, and then went back to the condo for a swim. Neil found out from a guy there that it was movie night down on the beach by the Marriott. Obviously we hit that up. The kids played on the beach while waiting for the movie to start, and then we sat on beach chairs watching Indiana Jones together. It was pretty great.



The littles didn’t last the whole movie so I walked them home and tucked them in and Neil and the bigs came back a little while later. All the kids fell asleep pretty much immediately and even Neil and I were asleep by 9. It was a really good first day of vacation. Today’s day 3 and it’s 8:53pm and the end of another great day and I’m totally wiped again. The kids were asleep within minutes of their heads hitting the pillow tonight and I’m feeling like I’ll be doing the same. 🙂