Wednesday, October 24, 2012

4 year old Charlie

We had such a fun time celebrating Charlie's birthday. The boys anticipated it for so long. One overheard conversation between them the week before ended like this:  Alec - "Aren't birthdays the best days ever?" Charlie - "Yeah! I know that."  We got to hand out gingerbread cookies to his playschool class on Friday and so many people were surprised at at old he was. I think most 4 year olds go to a 'real'  3+days-a-week/no parents preschool here in Canada.

On his actual day he woke up and Chris made him breakfast in bed while I was running since the kids woke up at 5:30!! He had requested mush and toast, so we lucked out there.  Also Chris and I had decorated the house with balloons, streamers and my old paper flag banners (I had NO idea how long those would last when I made them for babyshowers years ago) Both of these tradittions have come from the kids. Alec wanted Breakfast in Bed ever since making it for Chris and I on Fathers and Mothers day. When he asked when Kid Day was we told him we could do it for his birthday...and he remembered and requests it every time now.

Then I hosted a Munchin / Mom-and-me music class and we shared chocolate muffins with all our little friends and played with balloons.  Then it was time to pick up Alec from school and we had another friend in between Alec and Charlie's age come to play for the afternoon.

We decided not to have a friend party, but instead let him invite 1 friend and their family over for dinner. It was easier than hosting a bunch of 3-5 year olds and planning games and party favors etc... AND it was fun for us to have dinner with our friends too.  Charlie chose to eat rainbow pasta with cheese sauce, watermelon, oranges, and ceasar salad.  So thats what we served.  He also wanted a Lightening And McQueen cake and pinata. Chris and I had fun designing and decorating the cake the night before. It turned out really good and I think it FINALLY tasted like Amanda's chocolate cake!! Even though I've used the same recipe as her for years, I think I finally got it to taste the same.

The pinata was lots of fun. Each kid got to hit it 3 times, then they all grabbed a string and pulled at the same time (one string opens the trap door and lets the candy out).

 Charlie was  SO focused on getting all the candy he could when the pinata dumped out all its contents. Chris really wanted the pinata to be FULL for a nice "wow" factor, but I also wanted to use some of that candy to give away for trick-or-treating so we gave the kids small bags and I sent Chris in there to collect some too! The kids still managed to stuff their ziplock FULL. :) Especially the birthday boy.
The main present for Charlie this year was a big boy carseat! He was thrilled.  

 Alec was so nice to Charlie all day...letting him play with Alec's new bow and arrow first, not taking or grabbing ANY of Charlie's new toys, giving him the cookie with the most frosting on it at lunch. I really think Charlie felt special and loved and its appropriate because he is special and loved. The days following his birthday he tried to keep the special treatment coming by saying, "but I'm the birthday boy!" when he wasn't given what he wanted. :) Fun, exuberant, tender, loving Charlie. We love you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Corn maze and Conference

I love General Conference. There are always at least a couple of talks that inspire and excite me. This year I felt a bit more humbled than in years past with how much further I can grow as a child of God.  Not depressingly humble, just plain humbled.  Here is our "before" picture. When the house was in decent shape, our tummies were full of pancakes and we're all smiling and ready for the Sunday Sessions to begin:

And here is the "after." After all the smarties were gone, after all the colored pencils and books galore got strewn about the room, after the lego's got dumped and the castle half-way built.

Also yesterday we went to a Corn Maze for FHE (a day late since it was closed on Monday.) We zipped through this year since we were in a bit of a hurry to get Alec to swimming lessons and it was VERY windy. Did you know that old and almost dried up corn stalks are REALLY loud in the wind? Who knew? It was still really fun.

burnt fingertips

Today we experienced one of the worst hurts to befall our family. Ok, now that I write that I realize that Chris' cancer last year totally beats out Alec's fingertips, but strictly speaking of the children, we had a doozy today.  Alec was at piano lessons and thought the fireplace on the wall was a pretend one, since he found out it could be turned on with a switch. So of course, he turned it on.  His good friend quickly turned it off but then they both went up to the glass to study such an awesome thing and burned their fingertips. All five fingers on his left hand immediately blistered up and he ran to the bathroom (for some privacy?) while his friend grabbed his mom.  She tenderly helped him, called me and took care of him for me until Alec was dropped off at our house 20 minutes later.  My friend told me Alec was brave and quietly crying while at their house and as I saw the car pull up in front I could see Alec anxiously looking for me through the window. I was waiting for him, ran out to meet him and he could finally let it all out. He proceeded to scream and thrash and kick for the rest of the evening. Poor kid, burns hurt.  Chris came home a bit later and helped attend to Alec so I could get dinner on the table, but Alec was hurting too much to focus on anything else and we had to just send him up to his room.  Chris, of course, never seemed frustrated with him and patiently stayed next to him until he had to go to Young Mens and had to leave with Gwen screaming (no nap) at the table because she felt abandoned at the otherwise empty table.

But the cupcakes another friend (the one who was driving him home) dropped off for Alec helped distract everyone at the right moments so we all were making it OK when I got a call and then a Visiting Teachers were supposed to be coming over. I had forgotten. Turns out they stayed to clean up my kitchen, clear the table, sweep the floor and wipe the counters so I could comfort Alec some more. He didn't want to be left alone in his room. I put Aloe Vera on his fingers, turned a fan on to blow at them, and read a Young Picture Book Reader version of Gulliver's Travels to him and Charlie while they fell asleep.  WHEW....

What a night. And its awesome how well it all was handled and how nice people were to us. I can definitely see God's tender mercies tonight.  I hope Alec can sleep well and that he's feeling up to go to his super cool, "best-field-trip-of-the-year" tomorrow to Safety City. Luckily, I'm supposed to chaperone so I can be there with him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

first snowfall

We woke up to snow this morning! I didn't think it would last or stick at all so I didn't send Alec to school with snow pants or gloves or a tuque (Canadian word for beanie). Turns out it did stick, a little bit, and it practically snowed all day. When I picked Alec up from school in the middle of the day the kids wanted to stay outside and make snowballs.  You'd think with not even an inch of snow on the ground they wouldn't be very successful but Alec somehow managed to make a snow ball as big as a large cantaloupe!

I'm too lazy right now to upload the pictures I took with the real camera, so I'll just throw in a stand-in picture I took with my cell phone as I picked up Alec from Piano Lessons.

Ok, so its a week or so later, but here are the pictures I took.

I'm still impressed with how big they got their snowballs considering how little snow was on the ground.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Charlie, just now: "Mommy!! I'm always hiccuping so give me hiccup medicine."

If only there was hiccup medicine, I can get pretty violent hiccups sometimes. Although drinking water upside down eventually gets rid of them for me everytime, eventually.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Family Trip - Banff, Calgary, Jasper

We took our first family trip this past weekend. As in our first time going somewhere, just our family -- not visiting other family. I think we actually took a family trip 3 years ago down to Pasadena while Chris was at a conference, but Gwen wasn't there and Chris was at a conference so... I'm not counting it.

We drove down to Banff/Canmore/Calgary. Our main reason for doing this was to attend the Calgary Temple Open House.  Its not very often that an LDS Temple is open to the public, so we were excited for our kids to get a chance to see inside a temple! I don't know how much Charlie will remember, Gwen, not at all, I'm pretty sure, but I bet Alec will remember it quite well. He was excited for days and asked ALLLL day long on Saturday, "can we go to the temple yet??" Pretty cool to be inside as a whole family.

I didn't get any pictures since we arrived barely on time and it was dark when we were done, so I'm borrowing this one from the Calgary Sun.

We drove down on a Friday to Canmore (just outside of Banff National Park) and played in the hotel's pool and got to bed kinda late. Little Gweny was SO excited to be sleeping in the same room as everyone and tied Alec at falling asleep last around 10:00. I read stories from The Friend on my iphone for over an hour and made Chris go get me some ice cream super late to soothe my throat and enjoy the kids being asleep. The next day we were pretty tired, but we had LOTS we wanted to see in Banff.

We saw the Banff Springs Hotel. I had no idea it was so HUGE! It looked like a castle.  In talking with my mom later,  I found out that Banff was one of my Grandpa Hardy's favorite spots and once he and grandma stayed in that nice hotel for a tax conference, and my mom (the oldest at home at 17) stayed with the younger kids, camping in their trailer nearby. One of my Grandpa's colleagues found out his family was musical and in Banff too, so he arranged for them all to sing in the conference center. 

Someday I'd like to go back and stay there with Chris and play the golf course they have. Its been a while since Chris played golf due to his back, and he hit an imaginary drive off one of the tees. Apparently, it was a nice little draw and he wished I could've seen it. 

Always looking for ways to kill two birds with one stone, I decided if we wore nice clothes while we were exploring Banff we might have lots of chances to take family pictures.  It really seemed like a good idea before hand, but it might have driven Chris a bit crazy with me always insisting on a family picture in every "this is pretty!" spot.  I'll number them and you can help us decide on the BEST one. 

The kids love to skip rocks. Everywhere we walked all three of them are bending over every couple of minutes to pick up "the best skipping rock ever."
After walking around the Banff Springs Hotel, golf course and Bow Falls we took a ride in the gondola.

 Pretty awesome view out the window.

 We walked out on the boardwalk for a kilometer or so even though it was a bit cold and windy.  Charlie was ready to go back so Chris returned with him to the upper terminal while Alec, Gwen and I took the rest of the steps up to the historic Meteorological Station.

With tired kids we took a the scenic drive out to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. By then it was drizzling so our stop was pretty short. Besides, we had to get back to the Hotel to grab a quick dinner before driving out to Calgary to see the Temple!


I had fun taking pictures of the kids while they, surprise surprise, threw rocks and sticks into the lake.

 Super man Charlie kept trying to throw in things he could barely lift.


The next day we attended church with the cute Banff Branch in the morning and then headed for home the long way. The really really long way. Instead of driving the 4.5 hours by Calgary, we thought it would be fun to drive 8 hours on the Columbia Icefield Parkway that Chris biked earlier in the summer, up to Jasper and then out to Edmonton, stopping along the way at places we didn't get to see in July.....This is where we maybe didn't think thoroughly about the effect all this driving and stopping would have on 3 active young kids.
 Peyto Lake

Johnston's Canyon - We forgot our camera, hiking backpack and stroller but had Chris' phone for this one: 


 Around bedtime on Sunday we stopped at our last place, Sunwapta Falls.  After feeling like we'd just been nagging the kids all day we were in need of some sweet family fun and I would've never thought it could happen during yet another family photo. But it did. We set the camera on the hood of our car and let loose.
 So yeah, it was a crazy weekend. It felt more like 3 days of travel than 3 days of holiday. Kids were tough getting to bed and full of energy in some really beautiful but potentially dangerous and therefore stressful places.  I actually counted to 500 to get Alec and Charlie to fall asleep in the car. It was full of frustrations, whining, yelling, car food, seat kicking, water spilling, eeny-miney-mo singing, sibling fighting, and on-the-spot planning.....but it sure was pretty. 

What were your favorite family pictures?  I like Alec's expression in #20, Gwen's in #8 and Charlie's in #12. And if you really read this monster of a post all the way through - you get a prize.