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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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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Ivy gives me a run for my money.

Generally Ivy is a good kid. Usually well behaved. Keeps herself entertained. Helps out around the house. Uses her manners. Etc.

Today, though, she gave me a serious run for my money.

It started yesterday, really, I guess, when she scooped handfuls and handfuls of oats and sprinkled them all over Dotty. She told my dad (who was babysitting) that she was feeding Dotty. It resulted in oats all over the place, combined with marks all over the floor where Dotty was licking the oats up. End result: my floor looks even worse than it normally does.

This morning I couldn’t find Ivy. She wasn’t in her bedroom, or the boys’, or mine. I called downstairs for her. Then I heard a muffled voice coming from behind a door. “I”m EATING SUGAR MOM!” She was in the pantry, with the door shut, eating handfuls of sugar out of my bin. Her hands and mouth and my pantry floor were covered in sugar. At least she was honest about what she was doing??

Later on I went downstairs to my sewing room, where I found my chair completely covered in black ink scribbles, a la Ivy. I put her in a time out while she cried to me that she would “never do it again!”

When I came upstairs, I found her at the kitchen island, stuffing her face as fast as she could with icing sugar covered mini donuts that I had bought for dessert. As soon as she saw me, she spit the donut that was in her mouth back into the box, like I might not notice.

And now, the kitchen, dining room, and hallways floors were covered with granola and dog licking marks. COVERED. Ivy was covered in granola too. I reminded her AGAIN that Dotty eats dog food, not people food, then I swept the floor for what felt like the hundredth time, then put Ivy in the bath. I washed her hair and got her out and dried off and in clean clothes, then I went to get supper ready.

She called me a few minutes later because she had a hair stuck to her hand. It was stuck to her hand because she had glitter nail polish ALL OVER her hands. And her shirt. AND her hair. Literally five minutes after I washed her hair. I scrubbed her down with nail polish remover while she apologized profusely, then sent all the kids outside to play, popped some tylenols, and put myself for a nap on the couch before I killed her.

I mean, really.

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The world’s biggest dinosaur.

On our first official day of our spring break vacation, we hit up Drumheller. It also happened to be Neil’s birthday. What man doesn’t want to see the world’s biggest dinosaur on his birthday? It was a beautiful, sunny, and warm day, and he truly was really excited about everything and on more than one occasion said he was having the best day ever. Who woulda thought. But really, the world’s biggest dinosaur really is pretty freaking awesome.

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Look how big!!

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We spent the morning at the Royal Tyrell Museum, which was also super awesome. We went through it twice, with a break for a picnic lunch and a play at an awesome playground in between. I didn’t get too many pictures inside because it’s pretty dark, but that place is epic. Dinosaur fossils are kind of insane. I mean, I just can’t imagine what they were like in real life. Cray cray.

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(That’s my kids holding a fossilized dinosaur poop. Although how they “know” it’s a dino poop and not any other kind of poop is questionable to me. Either way, they held some poo. Also, see how the museum lady tricked them all into closing their eyes before she put poo in their hands? Ha!)

After the museum we hiked around the grounds for a bit. Seth and Ben were just having the best time climbing everything and exploring off the beaten path as much as they could get away with. It was 17C out and it was just glorious to be out in that weather!

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After that hike we drove over to the hoodoos, which were kind of anti-climactic. I think that happens when it’s been 20 years since you’ve been somewhere. What you once remembered as just ginormous, really isn’t. They are definitely still cool though. At that point Oliver and Ivy had fallen asleep in the car (where they continued to sleep for two solid hours despite us stopping repeatedly and Seth and Ben and Neil climbing in and out and over them. They were sooooo wiped. I hung out in the car with them while the bigs explored.

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When we’d had our fill of badlands, hoodoos, and dinosaurs, we drove to Calgary, about an hour and a half away. We got there around 4:30, planning to spend the evening swimming and watersliding, only to find that this hotel pool, too, was out of order! And they had no hotel next door for us to use. We ended up getting some poutine and then heading to the theatre to see Home. Thank goodness the movie was so cute and funny because it cost us a small fortune. Apparently movies cost 50% more in Calgary than here, and even here we usually only go on cheap night! Oh well, all good and still fun.

And that was the end of our first day of spring break! It was a good one!

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Why haven’t I thought of headphones before?

We’re going on a big road trip tomorrow (Banff!), and in an effort to preserve our sanity as much as possible, I picked up headphones for each of the kids yesterday.

Oliver and Ivy wanted to try them out right away, so I plugged them into the iPad and my iPhone.

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And then, it was QUIET. So quiet that I went to bed for a nap. And actually slept.

(And yes, that is a Sophia the First set complete with crown and a Guardians of the Galaxy set with fur and ears. Obvs.)

When Seth and Ben got home from school, it was their turn. Tunes on, headphones on, and again, quiet.

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And happy, too. They were having the best time. Seth loves those headphones so much, he said, “They’re like REAL headphones. Like TEENAGER ones!” The new headphones kept them busy, and momma happy, until supper time. Although I was concerned by the fact that they had appeared to have aged four or five years instantly. Well, not Ben maybe. The lack of teeth keeps him looking young.

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Now I’m wondering why I never thought of headphones earlier!

First indoor soccer season, finished.

Seth has played spring soccer for a few years now, but this was his first year playing indoor soccer. He started in the fall, and played every Saturday until now. I was sort of dreading being committed to something every single Saturday, but it turned out that I really loved it. What’s not to love about sitting in a temperature controlled arena watching your kid and his team kick butt every Saturday? I’m not joking- they creamed their opponents at most games. They won almost every game, losing maybe two or three out the whole season. Seth scored a lot of goals, learned a lot, improved his skills hugely, and most importantly, had a lot of fun.

For the last game of the season, the kids played the parents. Seth had the best time out there with Neil.

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(Neil had fun too.)

Ivy threw an EPIC tantrum for the first 20 minutes of the game. There is just no reasoning with that child and I was forced to revert to crazy mom status, putting her outside the back door of the arena and leaving her there alone while threatening to burn her blanket. Yeah, I went there. I took it a bit too far with the threats of burning, but I’m quite confident she would have screamed until infinity if I hadn’t left her at the back door solo for all of 12 seconds. That was enough for her to smarten up.

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Oliver barely tolerates Seth’s soccer games, but he cracked a smile for me at least.

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The game was a wash, with the kids beating the parents 18-9. Seth plays some mean defense. His coach told him that he never worried about their team getting scored on when Seth was on the field. (Insert proud mom face here.)

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So now we say farewell to indoor soccer until next fall. Lucky for me I won’t even have a chance to miss it, since we just signed Oliver and Seth up for spring soccer, which will have us at games four nights a week and a practice on Saturdays. God help me.

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Ivy turns three.

Alternate title: I have a chest infection, feel horrible, and take basically no pictures of Ivy turning three.

On Friday evening I went to work, but by the time I left work I was feeling pretty crappy. By the time I got home I felt horrible. I was coughing so much I threw up, I was alternately way too hot and way too cold. I felt so terrible I started crying like a baby in the middle of the night. I was so upset that I got sick right before Ivy’s birthday. Of course I hadn’t done anything to get ready (although I had thought about it and told myself to prepare ahead for days…). There was no food for the party, no decorations ready, no cake made, nothing. I just straight up could not get out of bed, and I really wanted to make Ivy’s party special for her; she was so excited.

Thankfully Neil stepped up, like always. And thankfully I had only invited family to the party, so I took solace in the fact that no one would judge me if I laid on the couch only semi-conscious through the party. I scaled back my food plans, Neil grocery shopped and wrapped presents, and I literally did not get out of bed, except for a brief period where I managed to get the cake baked.

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On Sunday, Ivy’s birthday, I felt basically the same. Everyone hopped into bed with me while Ivy unwrapped a huge pile of presents. Backstory: we kind of missed the boat on Ivy’s Christmas presents somehow, so I was totally overcompensating. Nice thing about a kid having a birthday right after Christmas is that all the toys are on clearance. We loaded up on Sophia the First everything, threw in some jewelry, some ballet shoes, a fluffy housecoat, and her very own gum. She took her gift-opening very seriously, slowly opening and inspecting every gift, and then usually giving a small nod of approval before moving on to the next gift. I think the gum got the most fanfare; she is a gum fiend.

She spent the morning busily playing with all her new toys, until about 11 am where she had a meltdown and put herself for a three hour nap. I got up to ice the cake and went back to bed. Neil prepped chili, and when my mom showed up, she finished it off, although I had to open all the cans for her because the Pampered Chef can opener is too complicated. I can live with that.

The rest of the guests arrived and Ivy was totally and completely spoiled. She was just in her glory, getting hair accessories, clothes, play make-up, and her very own phone and wallet (that was very high on her gift list!). She put her “make-up” on at least twenty times. She loves that stuff so much.

We ate supper and then it was time for cake. Ivy loved having everyone sing to her. And that was the one moment I took my camera out and got a couple blurry shots.

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Happy birthday Ivy. You’re gentle and wild, sweet and terrible, generous and strong-willed; a study in paradox. And we wouldn’t change a thing. Love you babe.

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And just in case you were wondering, by Monday I felt even worse, so mustered up every bit of energy to go to the walk-in clinic. I got antibiotics for a chest infection, and today, Tuesday, I am finally feeling a little bit better, although I’m still wheezing a lot, and still tired, so I’m not planning on getting off the couch except to feed the children. Neil’s going away today for a few days so I definitely need to be on the mend!