Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween this year was a lot of fun. Sure, I liked my Death Star headdress, but really I just loved watching how excited the kids got. I also loved hearing people comment on how cute my kids are.

R and I went to a party with a Star Wars theme, so I made us these costumes from papier mache and two colours of spray paint. On first glance, most kids thought I was trying to look like Mega Mind, but I still thought it was pretty classic. I was also quite pleased with the way R's TIE fighter outfit turned out. Once again, some people had no idea what it was (someone guessed she was dressed as a turtle), but people of our vintage were all over it.

Working from our base at Grandma & Grandpa M's house, it was not a long trip to go scare Great Grandma & Grandpa M over at the retirement home. Although there were some difficulties squeezing everyone into car seats to get there, it was definitely a great thing to do and I'm glad we got a picture of the kids over there. They wanted us to sing a song, but we totally came up blank on Halloween songs. Only later did we remember that "trick or treat, smell my feet" classic.

As a veteran of four Trick-or-Treating campaigns, Scott (dressed as Vert Wheeler from Hot Wheels Battle Force 5) was elated to be free to run from door to door with his cousins. True to his personality, he found something to be bossy and disappointed about (he wanted to ring more than his fair share of doorbells), but he still had a riotous time. We were so relieved that his costume arrived in the mail in time (Thanks Allyson!). It showed up in the mail on Friday afternoon, almost the last possible moment before Halloween.

I kept hearing Scott report back to his uncle Luke in a loud voice, "Did you hear me? I said 'thank you' to them!" Apparently, the kids had just been hot-footing it away from the door without so much as a word of gratitude, so Luke tutored them a bit. He also came up with the solution that they stop ringing doorbells altogether and just scream "Trick or Treat" at each door to alleviate concerns about equitable bell-sharing.

This was Katie's first real experience with Trick-or-Treating and I think she loved every minute. Clad in the "chubby dragon" costume made famous in 2008 by her older brother, she overflowed with cuteness. The costume is great for Calgary, since it is probably warmer than a snowsuit and even has an integrated hood and mittens. Katie quickly caught onto the routine (waddle to door, hold up bag, get candy, waddle away) and learned to say some new words, like "Too-Treet!" and "Dank-Doo!"

I coached her at each door, prompting her what to say and when to hold up her bag of candy. At some point, she stopped holding the bag up. I quickly realized that it was too heavy. Too much candy. I had to start lifting her arm up for her.

Being tiny and tentative, she was always the last one to get candy at the door, so Scott and the other kids were usually already to the next house. To keep up, I carried her from one porch to the next. As we walked down the sidewalk near the end of the evening, I noticed her bobbing her head from side to side, chirping cute sounds of contentment to herself. She was clearly having a fantastic time. She will not remember any of it, but it will live in my memory forever. Katie's first Trick-or-Treating.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Sudden Reminder

A small pang of sadness this weekend as a calendar reminder popped up on my phone for October 30:

"Due Date"

Nearly nine months ago I wrote the following post, which I held off publishing until we were ready to share the exciting news with the world. Seven days later the story had already ended and the unpublished post languished in my "drafts" folder:

February 22, 2011 - "A Big, Big Surprise"

You might be surprised, but nobody is more surprised than me.

R went to a natureopath for a consultation last week and was recommended several supplements to help improve her general health and her energy levels -- including an B12 injection. The natureopath said that she should come back for another shot when she feels it wearing off. She wondered how she would know if it had worn off, but she was told it would be pretty apparent from her energy levels.

Well, for the last week she has felt more drained than normal, making her wonder if the B12 was having the opposite effect. Then last night we took some stuff up to the attic for storage. Some boxes with picture frames, some maternity clothes that R's sister borrowed -- just stuff. Something about those boxes made her start counting days and wonder about the calendar: 30 days. Hm, a bit late.

Today came and went and she realized she was several days later than usual and she started to get anxious. Various ideas flashed through her head throughout the day as she considered the possibility. Finally, when evening came and the kids were in bed she shared her suspicions with me. 15 minutes later I was back from the drug store with a home pregnancy test kit.

What?! Pregnant?! Us?! I thought this wasn't even possible! How is this possible?! This is fabulous news, but how is this possible?! Amazing!

You know, we always joked that we might have a surprise baby, but we didn't think it would happen so soon! We suspect it is probably because of the gluten-free diet. Either way, this news is more than I expected on a Tuesday evening. I thought I might eat a snack and watch some TV. Wow. Totally shocked. It's so weird that we didn't have so much time to anticipate the news. It's a very different experience, this "surprise" stuff.

For the record, I'm predicting a girl.

We spent the evening talking about how our life was going to change. We had just sold our Jeep and bought a different car with the assumption that we'd likely not expand beyond a family of four. We started mentally reconfiguring the rooms of our house to fit in another bed -- and thoughts went to possibly moving those beds to an altogether different house. The next morning, Katie took her first steps and things were pretty exciting. Alongside the puzzled jubilation were concerns about R's health. The latest pregnancy had been pretty tough on her and we were working with a natureopath to try to improve her overall health -- another pregnancy so soon was going to mean more destabilization before we could really make any progress. Still, we realized the huge miracle that this sudden pregnancy represented and we mostly just looked forward to the future.

Eight days later, on the morning of March 2, R sent an email out to the family with the sad news:

Hello family,
Just wanted to let everyone know that I had a miscarriage last night. I'm glad that we told all of you the exciting news [last week] so that we don't just have to tell you the bad. Obviously, I have torn emotions about this. Half of me is a relieved and the other half is a little sad. At least we didn't have to go through fertility treatments this time and the miscarriage happened early. I think that will make it easier to cope with. I'm already feeling a lot better today. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Love, R

Just as quickly as it began, it was over. We were definitely sad, although there was a bit of relief that we could work on R's health a bit more. Significantly, we felt a lot of uncertainty. Previously, we had felt pretty certain that our chances of having another child were near zero, and we had accepted that reality and had started moving forward with our lives. Suddenly, we had this new possibility thrust upon us and we still have no idea whether it might happen again.

Honestly, I haven't spent that much time thinking about it the last few months, until suddenly the notifications popped up. In addition to the official Oct 30 due date, I had one labeled "likely delivery date" set for Oct 17th, since we have been two weeks early both times. Seeing those reminders this month brought back thoughts from this original posting, thoughts of gratitude for our two cute kids, and thoughts of wonder:

What will the future hold for us?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I absolutely adore this little girl. She's only learning to talk, but she already speaks volumes with her facial expressions.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beard Etiquette

Sitting around the kitchen table eating Wendy's Frosties, Scott gets the shivers and tries to describe them to us. He says that his body sometimes "goes like this". I explain that his body is trying to warm up by moving really quickly. R notes that we also often get goosebumps when we're cold. I explain that this is another way that your body tries to help warm you up, but we don't have very much hair on our arms and legs, so it's hard to say how much difference it makes. The following conversation ensues:

S: Cam has the most hair on his face.
D: Right. Which of your uncles have hair on their faces? Ross?
S: No.
D: Luke?
S: No.
D: Brad?
S: No.
D: Joel?
S: No. [notices our reactions] ... yes?
D: Right. Taylor?
S: Yes?
D: Sometimes.
S: Yeah. Sometimes he cuts it off.
D: What about Mom?
S: No!
D: What about Katie? Does Katie have a beard?
S: No! Girls don't have beards. Just boys.
D: No girls have beards?
S: Nope.
D: What would you say if you saw a woman with a beard.
S: I would say nothing.
D: [laughs] Yeah, that's probably the right thing to do.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rocket Talk

At the table, eating grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch:

D: Scott, do you remember flying on an airplane before?
S: Yes.
D: Were you scared, or not really?
S: I wasn't scared.
D: Yeah, being on a plane is pretty easy.
S: Dad, when are you going to ride on a rocket?
D: Uh, I don't think I'm ever going to ride on a rocket.
S: Why not?
D: I don't even know where I would find one. Where would I go to get on one?
S: Um... close to the United States?
D: Why did you guess that?
S: I don't know. Was I right?
D: I don't think so. I really don't think there are many rockets that you could find.
S: Yes there are.
D: Even if there were, they would be way too expensive for us to ride them.
S: Grandma and Grandpa have a seasons pass.
D: What?
S: They have a seasons pass to all the football games all year.
D: True.
S: We have a seasons pass... to Calaway Park.
D: Yes, we do.
S: Rockets are the fastest thing in the world, and they could blast you all the way to the moon.
D: Right. But how do you get back?
S: They let the things on the side come off and then it falls back to earth.
D: Really?
S: Yep.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seeing in the Dark

Scott wanted to have a fight before bedtime. He wanted to turn off all the lights first. I complained that it would be too dark for me to see. He offered to teach me how to see in the dark--
S: I already taught Hayden how to see in the dark.
D: You did? How do you do it?
S: First you find the shadows, and then you check to see if there are any monsters there. And that's how it works.
D: Really? Okay. Let's try it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bedtime Regulations

Definition [verb (used without object)]: To impede legislation by irregular or obstructive tactics, especially by making long speeches.
Example: Scott's endless bedtime request for snacks, books or games are obvious attempts to filibuster, delaying the inevitable.

We have finally had to lay down some new ground rules to get Scott into bed, since his 8:00 pm bedtime was often dragging out to 9:00 pm. Just as we were heading to bed, he would suddenly declare that he was desperately hungry, a favourite ruse to win another few minutes of liberty. This is connected to another issue -- Scott's habit of eating only some of his dinner, announcing that he was full, climbing down from his chair and asking for a snack. The two issues came to a head last week, resulting in a bit of a stand-off, lots of tears, and a bunch of new regulations.

R told Scott as he left dinner that he couldn't have a snack later, unless it was to eat more of his dinner. Then when bedtime came and he asked for a snack, I reminded him that he would need to eat more dinner if he was hungry. He launched into a host of arguments in favour of a different type of snack, stating that he was tired of that food, that he was sure if he ate the dinner that he wouldn't be hungry enough for a snack. I told him that I would not relent, so he wanted to try asking R, saying: "Mom, I need a snack because my tummy isn't 100%. It's only 90%."

Since we had made it clear to him already that he had to eat more dinner, rather than rely on an endless stream of snacks, I offered him several options--
D: Like I said, you can choose to have more dinner (tuna casserole), a glass of milk, or nothing.
S: Or water.
D: Right. More dinner, a glass of milk, water, or nothing. But you have one minute to choose.
S: (Crying and stomping) But it takes more time than that!
D: Just say what you want. That part can be really quick.
S: (More crying) But I don't have enough time!
D: Just tell me which one you want, dinner or milk!
S: (Sobbing) But I want both!
D: Okay. Fine.
S: (Sudden pause) Okay.

As he ate the rest of his tuna casserole, we negotiated some new ground rules:
- Once the clock hits 8:00 pm, he can't have anything else to eat, so snacks have to happen earlier
- He can't have any snacks until he has eaten all the food from his dinner plate
- If he can be in bed with everything done (teeth, potty, jammies, etc) by 8:15 pm, he can watch a YouTube video on my phone.
- If he gets in bed by 8:14 pm, he gets two videos
- If he gets in bed by 8:13 pm, he gets three videos

So far, the arrangement has been a success, and he's eaten his dinner/snacks earlier and gotten ready faster. I'm sure that this will only last for a while and then we'll have to come up with something new when he starts to filibuster again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Problem With Clown Costumes

We planned to order Scott's Halloween costume off the web, but he just couldn't settle on a favourite costume. If fact, it seemed that showing him the costume website just made it worse, because he saw so many more wonderful costumes that he had never considered before. We thought that the main decision was between Good-Guy-Jedi and Ironman. Once things got going, the possibilities opened up to include about 10 different options. Out of nowhere he would say, "I think I want to be Batman." He's only seen Batman in the tail-end 30 seconds that the PVR catches in the buffer before recordings of one of his favourite shows (Hot Wheels Battle Force 5). His approach to costume choosing could be best described as "whatever character I have been reminded of most recently."

We finally started running out of time for the order and thought we should give up on getting a decision from Scott and just choose on his behalf. We suggested that we surprise him. This was his response as we left the office to head upstairs for bedtime:

"Yes, you should just surprise me. Don't pick anything that is white. I hate to have white on it. I love all the colours of the rainbow. If it has one of those colours, or all of them, then I will like it. A clown has one of the colours of the rainbow. But I wouldn't like it, because it might be too exciting."

Interesting path his logic takes. No wonder he has trouble making this kind of decision.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Horse or Pirate?

S: Dad, what's your favourite Halloween costume?
D: I like superheroes, I guess.
S: It has to be horse or pirate.
D: Oh, okay. I would pick pirate.
S: Yeah, me too.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Conference Highlights

As usual, General Conference was marked by a flurry of craft-making at our house. You would think that little kids would have no patience for watching eight hours of TV coverage of adults in giving speeches talking in four two-hour doses over the course of a weekend. But Conference Weekends are some of Scott's favourite things in the world. R bought out half the Halloween crafts at Michael's and both children had several crafts to work on for each session.

Scott has been doing this for years, but this was Katie's first real experience being the in the crafting chair, and she seemed to love it. However, the emotions seemed to be fairly volatile in either direction, with her easily becoming frustrated at times.