Friday, September 30, 2011

Apples and more Apples

Remember a month ago when we picked apples with a couple in our ward? Well Dixie helped get 2 batches of applesauce canned while she was here, but we still had 1/2 of the apples left to work with. We bobbed for apples, played with apples, made apple crisp and planned on canning some apple butter.
The boys have been BEGGING to bob for apples for a long time and we finally did it. It took them a while to get it and I had to switch to a shallower/wider container to make it easier for them. It was a fairly nice day and the kids just played out back bobbing all the apples from one bowl to the other. Not very sanitary but lots of fun.

My first batch of apple butter, I forgot about on the stove when we were downstairs having our Friday night pizza and a movie party with the kids. It burned....bad. After a few days I finally got the pot cleaned well enough to try again. The second try turned out pretty good! I don't think I simmered it quite long enough so its not super thick, it seems more like spicy and smooth applesauce. but for my first experience canning by myself, it sort of worked! I don't have a proper canning pot and with the apple butter not really boiling or hot before you put it in jars, I was thinking I needed to boil/process them. After a few mishaps I finally figured out a way to invert my steamer in the pot to set the jars on and use some big spoons like chopsticks (since we don't have any tongs) to get the apple butter processed. WHEW. I still have about 2 batches more of apples to do but having done it once, I think it'll go faster and be cleaner.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Magnadoodles

I love these things. No messes or wayward scrawls but hours and hours of drawing fun anytime, anywhere. The only sad thing is you can't save a particular sketch. So we take pictures. Here is one of Alec's latest.

Its pretty obvious that its a train (the LRT ones we see) on the bottom track going one way, and the track above it is for the trains going the other way.

A while ago we were sitting around at bedtime trying to get the kids to pick out books and come sit on our laps to read them but were being too lazy to enforce them. The kids were drawing pictures for us with magnadoodle as a delaying tactic. Although I really was trying not to encourage their behavior I couldn't help but make a cute fuss over this one particular drawing of Charlie's.

He walks up to me and says, "Look mom, a p'ess... Foy YOU." I don't really understand him and give a non committal, "oh." But Charlie persists, "A p'ess...foy you. a'cuz you loss it on the tain." Finally, it clicks, "a purse! for me? because I lost mine on the train?" What a sweetie. It had been a few weeks since I lost it and we hadn't even talked about it recently.

Its a good thing we have so many magnadoodles since, like always, if one boy starts drawing on it... the other one HAS to be drawing on one too. And lately this is not only true for the boys but Gwen is starting to get in on all the action. She loves to copy what her brothers do. Especially reading books and drawing on magnadoodles, running loops around the house, and hitting the table loudly with her fists during dinner, oh and taking baths, making silly noises, kicking balls, wrestling with mommy, and throwing rocks in the river...BIG rocks...the size of her head.

No, there aren't any pictures of Gwen and those big rocks because I thought it better to be on make-sure-she-doesn't-crush-her-toes-or-fingers duty. You're welcome, Chris.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saturday hike

A few Saturdays ago, I was determined to get out of the house and move. It's been REALLY hard here to exercise as much as I was used to in California with my awesome friends/running/gym/dance class buddies. Seriously, it was exercise heaven. I have been lucky enough here to tag along with some ladies in my ward who do about a 5 K Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays at 6:30 in the morning. I would prefer to go a bit faster and longer but I'd rather run with people who entertain with conversation! Two runs ago it was beautiful. We run in this little ravine on wide hiking paths, littered with vibrant fall leaves, and on wooden bridges over a small river. The sunrise came up pink across the valley, so peaceful and yet energy-giving. Unfortunately, Fall is coming to a close, and fast. The very next run we had to use a head lamp for the first half and most of the bright yellow leaves are now a muted dirty brown.

ANYWAY...I always pictured our first month here full of hikes and other outings as we try to live up the warm weather here, but with Chris not able to walk very far without needing to sit or lay down, I figured our hiking days were over, for this season.


Then I realized, I could still go on hikes, just myself and the kids! Especially if we just stick close to home and explore more of that ravine right near by. So that's what we did and the kids loved it. I put Gwen in the hiking backpack and drove close to the ravine so the boys would last longer walking. It was fun and I think I'll try and do it a few more times before the weather gets ugly cold.


BTW - I love these close ups of Alec's silly grin and Charlie's smile. In Charlie's you can see where his front teeth got chipped when he fell down in mid-July. I was holding him with his arms wrapped up in his towel after swimming lessons (which.. I think I never blogged about yet! ...lets add THAT to my TO DO list). I put him down for a second while we waited for another kid and he tried to take a step but tripped and had no hands to brace him. BANG! right on his mouth/teeth. It wasn't very bloody but his teeth were obviously chipped and felt a little loose. When Alec accidentally whacked him in the face a little later that day and made it bleed much worse, I took Charlie for an emergency dentist visit. Nothing they could do really, but we still need to keep an eye on it. It could get infected and fall out or need to be pulled at any time in the following three months! So far, so good, although one tooth is starting to look a little discolored.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Picture this...

Alec gave a talk today in primary. He is really uncomfortable with speaking in front of people like that. One of his first times we only got a word or two out of him for a primary scripture, talk or prayer. He did pretty good the last time he did it (just a week or two before we moved away from CA) and he did even better today! It was really really cute and I wish I would've had a video of it, but alas, we didn't do that so you'll just have to picture this:

Alec is wearing a green/brown/blue plaid shirt with a tan, yellow, red and blue striped vest and stands up tall to the microphone with a nervously muted grin. Charlie has been recruited to hold the props and stands on his own stool next to the podium looking impishly handsome wearing a nice white shirt, tie and khaki pants. I'm kneeling behind/beside Alec whispering in his ear and putting things on Charlie. (The Theme was, "The Gospel is preached in all the world")

Alec - "Jesus made the world."
"It is sooo big."
"Lots of people live on it."
"Some people don't know about Jesus."
"Missionaries go all over the world teaching people about Jesus"
"My dad went to Lithuania"
--I put two dolls dressed in traditional Lithuanian garb in Charlie's hands who holds them up tall for all to see.
"My uncle Justin went to Mongolia"
-- I put a camel-hair-made-in-Mongolia scarf around Charlie's neck
"My uncle Ryan went to Canada"
"My uncle Thom went to USA"
"My uncle Todd went to Africa"
-- I put a bright, thickly beaded African necklace on top of the scarf.
"My uncle Jared went to Thailand"
-- I sling my famous purple purse that Jared brought be from Thailand over Charlie's shoulder....He still is just patiently standing there holding the dolls up high.
"My uncle Jordan went to an Island, called Kosrae"
"And even now Uncle Edward is in Mexico"
"They all taught people about Jesus and Jesus wants us to teach people about Him too."
"In the name of Jesus Chris, Amen."

He did so well! Both boys did. The Primary President gets up with a smile and chuckle and says, "That's a lot of Uncles!" It sure is, and we even forgot our newest Uncle: Justin/German. He served his mission in Brazil. It would've rounded out the geography quite nicely.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

to do list

My head hurts (I feel like I've started 1/2 my posts out with something like this in the past month). There is so much to think about, remember and do. Someone dropped by a plate of cupcakes last night (so nice and yummy!) and said something like, "I had time to kill tonight and thought I'd fill the time with baking." and my first thought was..."oh! I remember that! I had time to kill at one time... maybe 5 months ago..." Granted, the guilty part of me knows that the night hours from 8:30 on, are usually spent doing nothing important aside from folding laundry sometimes in front of the TV. I really should just go to bed, that would actually be helpful.

Even now I'm thinking, "you're wasting time..." but I sort of just need to get out a list of things to do before I forget them. Some are important some are not but I'm not very good at deciphering between the two. For me, if I have the thought that I should do something, it can often drive me crazy until I do it...no matter how small it seems.

To do:
  1. Ha! what do you know, I'm drawing a blank...this is not a good sign. Wait! its back, 1. get to a Scotia bank to pay back the cash Chris' cousin lent us when we first moved here and couldn't get enough Canadian money to pay for our house deposit.
  2. go grocery shopping: milk, bread, fruit, vegetables
  3. Make dinner: rice and stir fry vegetables with the pork Dixie froze for us
  4. clean and sanitize the bathrooms...gotta keep the germs down
  5. mow the lawn (I have a feeling this one won't happen for a while, but it still needs to be done)
  6. Get to a Rogers Telecommunications store and get set up with Canadian cell phone stuff.
  7. Write or email thank you cards for all the thoughtful things people have given/sent us
  8. go through finances to pay bills: electricity, American credit cards
  9. Get my lesson together for Relief Society (at least I have two-ish weeks for this)
  10. sweep or wipe down all the upstairs...dust builds up fast on hardwood
  11. clean up the backyard and find somewhere indoors to put our big camping buckets that are just strewn about the patio.
  12. organize all the paperwork we got at Chris' first chemo treatment into a binder...just in time for his next treatment on Monday.
  13. water the house plants
  14. finish unpacking the books and pictures and arrange them better on the bookcases
  15. finish getting the bathrooms settled with places for hand towels and toothbrushes
  16. find a better system for jackets/purses...maybe another board with hooks by the back door?
  17. Make separate church bags for the boys (not a need, but I think it would GREATLY improve Sacrament Meeting behavior)
  18. organize the medicine so its not spilling out all over the pantry and falling where kids can get at it all
  19. better yet, organize the entire pantry better so things don't fall off the shelves.
  20. When do we need to get snow tires? or even snow boots/pants/jackets for everyone in the family...its probably better to have them before you need them.
  21. I think the gas in the van is almost out
  22. The front room "needs" some color and pillows
  23. tidy the top of our dresser...which means figuring out a better system for my necklaces and such...any cute ideas? I'm thinking something in an empty frame on the wall....
  24. continue the daily clean up of kids messes, in and out of the kitchen. Like the following baby powder party Gwen and Charlie had last week:

Well... that feels better a little bit. Now hopefully there's enough time left of quiet/nap time to have some personal study time. I really just want to nap, was that on my list somewhere? First though I better go see why Gwen is STILL crying. She probably has a little surprise for me in her diaper.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wedding

My little sister, Sarah, got married last week! In some ways its odd to see her married since I've never really seen her around any significant others but in other ways, she reminds me so much of myself when I got married that it seems totally natural to see her in white, exchanging smiles and hugs with a good looking groom. Sarah and Justin (German) seem to fit each other so well, I think they will be one fun, totally awesome couple. I'm so happy I was able to be a part of their start. Going through the temple with Sarah was probably my favorite part of the whole shebang. All of my adult siblings were there and it was the first time we'd all been in the temple together, like that. Pretty special. I love my family.

I was a bit emotional at times and all my siblings took good care of me. Tiffany watched over me, housed me, drove me places, gave me an awesome back rub; Justin and Jordan even tucked me in at night! I also got a chance to hold and kiss my week old niece, Amelia, and talk with Jared and Ashley.

Also it was really fun to see so much extended family and other friends at the temple and reception. We even ran into my cousin, Emily, on her Temple Square mission! So fun. I especially enjoyed seeing my sister in law, Jess with her kids and my father in law, and also my cousins at the reception and talking with them. It was pretty fun being there without kids to be distracted with. It was a great trip and many thanks go to Mama Dixie for taking care of my home and family back in Canada so I could make the trip.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

first round of treatment

--By the way, Chris is starting a blog where he can vent about his cancer experience... but I'll still write some things about it here on our family blog --

First round of Chemo was on Monday. We were told to allow 3-4 hours, although it took more like 5 and a half. Other than the time, things went really smoothly. After checking in we walked up to one end of the 4th floor. We were instructed on the basics of chemo therapy. Grab a warming bag, put it on your forearm, find your bed/station number and lay down or take a seat if your assigned to a chair. The middle of the room is a half circle with windows looking over Edmonton. Its actually a beautiful day and with the flat terrain we can see for miles, or (I should get used to saying) kilometers.

We see almost all of the beds or chairs already filled with patients, most of them bald, quietly sitting, reading or sleeping, attached to an IV with machines occasionally beeping. A nurse comes over and explains what drugs she's going to give Chris today. First an anti-nausea drug that will take about 20 minutes, then a saline flush for 10 minutes, then we'll start the first of the 4 drugs in Chris' ABVD protocol with saline flush in between each drug.

Because of Chris' intense back/leg pain he's been having for the past few days (a herniated disk from coughing so bad...we think... we still need to find a family physician...they are SO HARD to find one taking new patients here) we lay him down flat on the bed. They have these warm blankets they keep in a heater and the nurse puts one on Chris and I tuck him in.

The nurse has a hard time getting the vein and pokes around for a bit before letting another nurse have a try. Luckily, she gets it in first shot. Chris is a bit nervous, I can tell, but we actually keep a relaxed manner and talk, joke, read or sleep for the 5 hours. Chris can get up and go to the bathroom, which he does about 4 times (with all the fluids they're pushing in him, its a wonder it was ONLY 4 times).

Volunteers come to deliver water, juice, tea, coffee, and or cookies to everyone in the wing every 2 hours or so. I eventually go grab Chris some lunch and in my 10 minutes of being gone, I miss Chris' oncologist who has come to check on him to see if his back/leg pain is any better. After 2 days of Ibuprofen around the clock it does seem to be getting slightly better. Chris can't be standing or sitting for longer than 5 minutes before its too painful and he needs to lay down completely flat again. Usually, his doctor won't come up and we'll only see him on our Friday-before-treatment meetings.

The second drug they give him is inserted into his IV from a big needle the nurse holds and slowly pushes in over 15 min. Its red and will turn his pee the same color for the next while. The last drug is also really hard on the veins so its given with more saline over the course of 1-2 hours, depending on if the patient starts to feel sore/a little bit of pain and needs a break. Chris mostly sleeps (or appears to be sleeping) through this one and does it straight through...it still takes about 2 hours!

He's tired but otherwise normal seeming and we walk out to the car wondering with anticipation when he will start to feel completely awful.

Luckily, that hasn't really happened yet! almost 48 hours since the start of the treatment and he's feeling not-TOO-bad. Still tired, and nauseated enough to take the prescription drugs every now and then, but mostly Chris seems to be in a good mood. They say it gets worse over time and I bet his treatments won't all go this smoothly, but we'll take just about any good news right now. Including the news we got the previous Friday when the oncologist said that based on the CT scan showing the disease ONLY above the diaphragm, he thinks Chris is only at a stage 2! We were thinking 3 or 4 and it still could be 4 if its found in the bone marrow (the results still weren't in on the bone marrow biopsy...ugh!) but stage 2 is great news.

Ok, thats enough details and my flight is about to board so I'll try to upload this quick. I'm on my way to UT for my sister's wedding! Chris' mom has been with us, watching the kids during all this, and will now take care of my little family until I get back in 2 days. Its hard to leave, but with Chris doing so well, I'm not as worried as I might have been. I'm also pretty excited to see my family and get a little break. :) If only I didn't have to wake up at 3:15 AM to make my flight.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A is for Apple

The kids have suffered a bit with getting little attention from Chris and I. Like my dad, I have a tendency to --bulldoze-- (as my mom calls it) when it comes to working on something. I just want to work work work until it gets done and be as efficient as possible while still getting the WHOLE project done right. So the job of "settling in" has taken up most of time ...or at least whenever I'm not doing immediate caregiver tasks like meals, cleaning up in-your-face-messes, naps, baths and bedtime.

Ok. Hold back. I can tell I'm giving this more detail than I intended. Basically the kids have been crazy for attention. So, this week I wanted to try to do some fun school-like activities with them. We've done a lot of things with apples since we picked boxes of them last weekend.

The boys really liked acting out the legend of William Tell shooting an apple off his son's head. We used cones for sons (since we were fresh out) and balls for arrows (but only because I didn't want to go find our arrows) and had a blast. They both actually had pretty good aim after a while.

Now this has nothing to do with apples but everything to do with Gwen being stinking cute. Remember I said she loves shoes? Today she threw a fit when I didn't put a pair of Charlie's flip flops on and didn't accept my reasoning of "you already HAVE shoes on, see? Sandals!" I gave in and put the flip flops on over her other sandals thinking she'd walk a few steps and want them off, but no. She wore them for hours that way. And it was making her walk funny. Style over comfort for this girl.

I'd like to add that most of the apple activities were done between bouts of very nearly uncontrolled anger on my part. I feel SO short of temper with the kids recently and have only enough energy for a sweet voice on the first 2 or 3 repetitions of any given phrase...after that its like I've unleashed a monster. Many people have commented about me keeping up a good attitude and I was pretty surprised to read that since I feel very NOT positive. To combat this I usually try to focus on the good things in conversations and blog posts but the marjoity of the time I'm feeling and thinking pretty miserably. Life is just hard right now. I wonder if I could see even 1 year into the future, what it would it be like?

Monday, September 5, 2011

spontaneous tour

So, the kids were being pretty cute this morning. I started taking pictures and realized they also showed a good tour of our upstairs! So, while its not exactly clean and pretty, it does give you a better idea of what our house looks like than those last pictures. The kids are playing snake monster ( a game started by Peter in our courtyard) where someone runs around with a blanket dragging behind and everyone else tries to jump on the blanket and catch a ride. Pretty fun. Also, pretty crazy.

First is Gwen being cute, standing in the L shaped living space. I'm standing at the front door. The boys are trying to entice her to play snake monster.

Which she likes to play if she can be the one pulling the blanket.


Two steps to my left, I'm now standing in the doorway of the boys room, looking down the hall where Gwen's room, small closet and master bedroom are on the left, and straight ahead is the bathroom section. Its a 1/2 bath connected to a contained bath/shower room, which is connected to another 1/2 bath which is connected to the master bedroom.


Following the kids I'm now standing by the doorway of the bathrooms (there's a nice little pantry to my right) and I'm watching Gwen start to get frustrated that she can't pull the blanket with Charlie on it through the kitchen/eating area.


somehow she made it around the corner out of the kitchen and almost back into the living space but by then the boys were getting frustrated with Gwen's I-can-only-pull-an-empty-blanket participation and commandeered the reigns from a now, very unhappy Gwen. You can see the coat rack/shoe landing area that leads to both the basement stairs and to the back door which takes you through the small yard to the garage.


Downstairs is mainly just a play space with toys and our couch/TV. There's also a mini bar thing and another bedroom that is now a craft/sewing/office/guest room. Pictures coming, but I'd rather just post what I've got now and eat apple crisp and watch a movie with Chris. Which is the 2nd time we've had such a fun (movie with a treat) and relaxing night in the past month.


Well, one more picture and a movie:


Gwen is just so fun. I only just barely get annoyed with something she does maybe once or twice a day, but other than that, she just brings joy to my life. She snuggles a little, likes to give kisses, say Hi and smile for the camera, "cook" with me in the kitchen, and wear shoes...especially boots. She also likes to lay down on pillows or sit on blankets to get all cozy. Here is a video. Oh, at the end, she's saying, "Bath" and "up" because she wants to get in the bath again, but I don't catch it while I'm filming.


video