Monday, June 25, 2012

A Short Family Holiday to: Alberta

In case you noticed (and at least one did - thanks for the MARCO email, M!) there was a commercial interruption in blog posts last week. That's because we took a much overdue family holiday and I couldn't freaking wait. It was the first time I had been on an airplane in almost a year and I was starting to get VERY twitchy from the lack of travel. You know, the kind of travel twitchy that convinces two usually sane adults that travelling with a four, two and eight month old three quarters of the way across the continent for just five days sounds like a good idea? If you are interested in some of what we experienced, one of my SILs, Liffey, sums it up nicely here.

However, we hadn't seen our good friends and godchildren in a dogs age (that's a long time to you CFAs) and I was desperate. We hadn't seen their new-to-us-already-lived-in-for-five-years-to-them house. We hadn't seen their new to us vehicles. Our godchildren are almost grown up and DH and I had not been back to Alberta together since leaving for Germany in the summer of 1998. 

The proverbial straw, however, was that we had not been on a family holiday in over a year and a half and, even if it was going to be short, it was going to be worth it.

And it was worth it. TOTALLY. Despite the fact that we flew stand by (the way our family is able to get seriously inexpensive tickets through DH's work) resulting in some minor flight and seat shuffling each leg, despite the fact that Aidan threw up all over himself at the Toronto airport resulting in a fresh and newly purchased wardrobe for the day (and the bin for his original outfit), despite the fact that the five days were, without a doubt, Finlay's crankiest ever (we blame his teeth - his first two in the front on the bottom are now up) or that Aidan appeared to have a bug and his getting sick at the airport wasn't just an airport thing, etc, etc, our trip was fantastic.

It was such a good time that I didn't even have time to take many pictures. I'm hoping my wonderful friend with the fancy camera in Fort Saskatchewan is going to forward me some decent pictures (hint! Hint!) but, until then, here are a few cute ones of the experience:

Waiting at the St. John's Airport

Not sure what they're talking about but I'm pretty sure the conversation began with Iain asking "Why...?"

Finlay's first flight. Despite this picture, he did not sleep for the entire flight. Nope. Mr. Nosy Pants here socialized with everyone who came within four feet of his Royal Cuteness.

Our trusty steed. No, I'm not being sponsored by them.

Waiting for DH to pick up the rental vehicle in Edmonton.
DH's finely honed engineering skills put to good use.

Aww, brothers.
On the stage at Fort Edmonton. The boys first time, mine and DH's second. Still amazing for young and older.

One of our handsome godchildren.
My beautiful girlfriend.
Everyone enraptured by a horse and carriage going by. These are our other two beautiful godchildren.

Turns out old tree stumps bring out the actor in Eldest!
I had to add this picture. This is how you tell who your good friends are. Aidan had another accident and we spent the rest of the day trying to dry out his cleaned underwear on top of the stroller and our friends continued to walk next to us like they knew us. Even the teenagers didn't complain. Wow.

Taking a break on a perfectly located bench.
It was shameful how little attention Finlay got on this trip. Truly shameful ;)!

The colourful burlap near the top of this picture is a colour coded burlap for hooking a rug/mat. I was involved in a brief tutorial on how to hook a mat with the volunteer at the covered wagon. Hookers: not just another pretty face ;)!

Elk Island National Park. The boys were THRILLED to see these.
On the flight home.

I'm the monkey in the middle!

Most of these pictures were taken using my iPhone. This is the face I get from Finn each and every time he sees my phone. What a ham!
Here is a run down of the things we saw other than the great visit with our friends and despite the lack of photographic evidence. We also visited a local splash park in Fort Saskatchewan, the waterpark at West Edmonton Mall (and to say that Finlay loved the water would be a gross understatement), and, be still my beating heart, IKEA (be thankful I'm not including pictures of the displays)!

We still love you Alberta and We. Will. Be. Back. Even if I can feel the province shudder from here...

Saturday, June 23, 2012


It is amazing how much I manage to accomplish either before DH gets back from a business trip, company arrives or just before our family goes away on a holiday. Just before either of these types of deadlines, my household 'to do' list triples. The one curtain missing from a six curtain set gets the fifteen minutes with the sewing machine it needs and up it goes. Artwork collecting dust in the closet for a year or more gets hung. Suddenly it becomes imperatively important to accomplish tasks that were previously only pipe dreams.

Invariably I do not get to cross out everything on my new and increased list. But I often do get a couple of things done that leave me with a great feeling of satisfaction.

Take these for example. 

I found these on a tutorial from Melissa's Sew Like My Mom blog. This fantastic lady taught me to make two bibs in about thirty minutes and that even includes the couple of interruptions from the boys.

Finlay has totally outgrown any of the bibs I used for his older brothers. Something about him being HUGE for his age (in the cutest way possible I might add). The day before a recent trip, it became imperative that I make a couple of these bibs (yep, crazy).

So cute!
Easy peasy and cute as a button. Best of all, he cannot rip these bibs off like the ones with the velcro backs I was using (and stopped using for this reason) and make the back of his little neck sore.

These bibs provide great body coverage too. I foresee many more of these being whipped up for a few of the special babies in our lives.

If you're looking for a quick, cute and inexpensive baby gift, look no further.

Thanks for the awesome tutorial and pattern, Melissa!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Bore Myself...Yawn!

When DH gets home at supper time and asks what we did all day, I give him a summary. When anyone else asks me what we've been up to, invariably I answer "Not much." Seriously, does anyone really want to be involved in the minutiae of my daily life which involves the wiping/cleaning of at least three human arses/other bits, the remnants of two feline arses, picking up toy, food or play messes, the hand feeding of three boys (because ever since Finn began eating solid food getting fed by Mommy is the Thing. To. Do.), the eternal laundry, the cleaned at least twice a day (and that's a good day) toilets, and on and on and on. Unfortunately, all of this activity results in me not really being able to carry on a conversation that doesn't involve one of the afore mentioned topics.

Most of my friends have full-time jobs. They get up in the morning and, after the initial scrabble out the door getting their children dropped off, go off to work in an environment that requires a regular shower, having presentable hair and reasonably professional looking clothing. Frankly, I have no idea how they do it but have a healthy dose of admiration for them. And it is the time between their children getting dropped off and picked up that really, really intrigues me. I suspect that these working outside the home parents go to the toilet without an audience (what's that like???), have the opportunity to drink a warm cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate and maybe, just maybe, have conversations about things other than children, viruses that affect children and the amount of laundry created by children.

Before I had children, I used to talk about to my friends about things like running, long distance cycling, curling (if you haven't tried it, go sign up now. The most fun you can have on ice as far as I'm concerned though I'm a bit biased. I don't like hockey), knitting, quilting, the most recent book I read, the news (which I virtually ignore now. Too depressing), etc...but I could be wrong. That was a time before three deliveries, two surgeries and three fairly significant bouts of post-partum depression so my memory is a little hazy. Now, I talk about my children and am probably turning into a very boring person.

So next time you see me in person, be prepared. I will be talking about my children, what recent antics they've been up to, what they've destroyed, and their most recent cute/funny/rude comment either to a complete stranger or a friend/relative who wished they were a complete stranger. I should have mental capacity to talk about some of the topics listed in the previous paragraph by oh, say, 2022 or so?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012: A Year of Handmade

Warning: The contents of this post is a spoiler to someone on my regular gift giving list. Reading further will spoil the surprise for your upcoming birthday or Christmas present. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I don't know what happened but I stopped making a lot of handmade presents a number of years ago. Wait. I do remember. I got knocked up in 2008 and spent the next nine months throwing up. There's something about having your guts ripped out of you every few minutes/hours or so that just seems to stifle creative thought or action. Who knew?

In an effort to become more frugal and to spend a little more time on something I love (crafting), I have casually labelled 2012 as my new "Year of Handmade." I miss giving handmade gifts. I miss thinking about the person I am making something for, wondering if they are really going to like what I've made. I miss really really concentrating on what that person likes and making something extra special that I have put heart and soul into and spent valuable time on. 

If I manage to gift only two handmade things this year, that will be a 100% improvement from last year and I'm happy to introduce item number one.

This is Laura Chau's "Just Enough Ruffles" scarf. If you have lots of time it would be a quick knit. It didn't take me too long to knit up either. I used the gorgeous Eco Duo from Cascade Yarns (70% Undyed Baby Alpaca and 30% Undyed Merino Wool) that I purchased at my former LYS (Local Yarn Store) A Good Yarn. This is a lovely, easy pattern and knits up into a gorgeous result. I will definitely be knitting another one in the future and there is just something so satisfying to know that I knit 600 stitches in the last four rows. Aaaaah!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Liar Liar

Finlay is getting to the stage where we are trying out new soft food and drinking apparatuses (Finn doesn't use a bottle. I'm a nursing mama and there's not been anyone around consistently enough to get him used to using a bottle. Yes, that's a dig, DH ;)). The search for something for him to learn to drink out of resulted in me rooting around in the water bottle cupboard seeking out appropriate liquid containers. And, looking at the wealth, it brought up a subject that just makes me mad, children's drink container manufacturers and their claim to have created a 'leak proof' container. To that I have only one word to say - bullish&t.

Here's a peek:
Yup. This is 'organized' on a good day...

Between ourselves, our friends and families, we have spent hundreds of dollars trying to find a beverage container that doesn't leak. We've sprung for environmentally friendly containers, not-so-environmentally friendly throw aways (which we have to start getting rid of as Aidan, at the ripe old age of almost three, is STILL teething and biting through a cap a day on those one use wonders...that we use for much, much longer than one use. We do wash them though). The only time some of the bottles we've invested in don't leak is when they are not holding liquid. Some of the caps do keep liquid in. Most of the time. But even those are a problem because, if you screw the caps on too tight, they usually leak. Especially if they contain juice because dried juice is sticky and each of these containers were made with a healthy dose of Murphy's Law.

So, I'm throwing out a challenge to the blogopshere. Have you found a child friendly liquid holder (one with handles for an 8 month old would be great but not mandatory) that doesn't leak? You are going to have to be convincing though. By the number of containers in this cupboard, you can see that I've had the wool pulled over my eyes a few too many times and I've become beverage container purchasing shy.

Imagine what I could have spent this money on instead. Yarn, fabric, chocolate...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stitch 'N Bitch

L, a good friend of mine, has recently re-introduced herself to her knitting needles for the first time in a long time. She sent me a text saying that she had done so and that we should get together for a Stitch 'N Bitch session one of these days. 

Well. I jumped on that bandwagon quicker than one of my cats on tuna and, let me tell you, that's pretty darn fast. Knitting? With a good girlfriend? AWAY from my family for a couple of hours? For the cost of a coffee (well, a hot chocolate in my case)? Where do I sign up?

We started meeting a few Friday nights ago and you should have seen us both that first night. I swear, we were like two teenagers who were both grounded and had snuck through our bedroom windows to attend some teenage rite of passage, we were that giddy. Yes, that is what's exciting to women over forty, knitting and a coffee on a Friday night. Heck, last Friday night we shared knitting, some yarns (of the chatting variety) and even took in a movie afterwards. Wild women. Truly.

Interested? You don't even need to bring knitting needles. The only requirements are that you are toilet trained, can feed yourself and you don't require an allowance. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


On the eve of Finlay's eight month birthday, it is hard to believe that this little boy

Finlay Alexander, Seven Months
looked like this not so long ago.

Finlay - just a few hours old and how he looked when I first saw him (that I remember)

My pregnancy with Finlay was very like my other two pregnancies in that I suffered from morning sickness the whole time. Every. Single. Day. Several times a day. Even the anti-nauseant Diclectin only took the edge off. However, I am otherwise healthy so that seems to be my pregnancy thing to bear (resulting in DH's pregnancy thing to bear: a very, very cranky wife).

I started feeling off the morning of October 8th, 2011. Off meant that I stayed in bed, only getting up to run to our en suite facilities every few minutes. I spent the whole day in bed. DH helped me from becoming too dehydrated by bringing me frozen ice pops and I dozed in and out of sleep thinking that this wasn't too bad as I'd be nice and rested by the time my contractions started in earnest. 

The only real bummer was that the rest of my locally living immediate family (Mudder, Fadder, biggest Little Brother, SIL and nephew K) were out in the living room enjoying an early Thanksgiving feast with my boys. We had planned an early get together so that I would be able to attend as our new baby was due at any minute. So much for the best laid plans!

By 8:00 PM, my contractions had started in earnest and very quickly started to come close together. I got organized, convinced DH that we had to go NOW and, no, he didn't have time to chat to the family longer and off we went to the hospital. By the time we got to the Janeway, we had had to pull over once so that I could throw up (again, normal for me) and I was in agony each time we hit a pot hole. Anyone who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador know that there are a couple of pot holes to be found in the province. I think we hit most of the ones between Torbay and St. John's but DH might tell you a different story ;)!

Arriving at Labour and Delivery and the assessment rooms went as anticipated and I requested an epidural as soon as my foot crossed the threshold. The nurses were fairly confident that I knew I was in labour based on previous deliveries and a quick internal exam confirmed it. Mine and the baby's vital signs were taken, recorded and pronounced fine. I was admitted and changed into that oh-so-glamourous-arse-hanging out (like I cared at that point) blue gown. My contractions were coming fast and furious and I was starting to have difficulty holding it together (aka the swearing started in earnest).

While the nurse was out of the room, DH tried to help me as best he could. I am a pretty vocal person while in labour (and have no idea how anyone can be quiet trough that ordeal though I've heard it can be done) and managed to convince a passing gynaecologist and nurse to come in a check on me. After that, things got a bit crazy. The gynaecologist confirmed that I was six centimetres dilated and a labour room was prepped. Just before the stretcher and I were wheeled out, the nurse said,

"I just want to check their vitals once more before we move her." Famous last words. The baby's heart beat was pronounced dangerously low and I remember hearing "We need to get this baby out NOW."

Then things got really crazy and I don't remember all of it. I remember being scared to death and, for the first time in my life, knew that I wanted this baby to live even if it meant I didn't (at the time that didn't seem as melodramatic as it does now). I remember that I was having a LOT of trouble breathing through the contractions and writhing in pain. I remember being wheeled from the triage room right into surgery. I remember being moved from the stretcher to the surgical table and my right arm flopping around which might be the reason why I had a massive bruise from my wrist almost up to my armpit on my right arm when I woke up the next morning. I remember being held down during a contraction because I was in agony and wanted the baby out of me and safe. I remember the anesthesiologist introducing himself to me and my thinking something to the effect of "Don't effing introduce yourself! Just get me out of this pain and get my baby out!". 

I have been under the effects of anesthetic once before and I think what is so disorienting about it is that it feels as though you blink and you've lost several hours. There is no period of darkness like I would have expected, like having slept. Instead, one minute you are watching all of these people hovering and yelling and swearing (because they were. It was all pretty urgent) to the next blink when everything is quiet and I could hear DH and a different nurse's voice talking quietly near me.

The first thing I distinctly remember hearing is DH telling the nurse "She doesn't know yet." 

DH told me that we had a boy and that the delivering doctors felt that he had had a seizure within the first five minutes of his birth. Due to that, he needed to go to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and not with us. DH was white as a ghost and crying. I was still under the effects of a general anesthetic, morphine and an emergency c-section which meant that DH had not seen me in over 2.5 hours and had had to bear the weight of worrying about me and about our new baby by himself. I kept whispering to him that everything would be fine which, for anyone who knows me well indicates just how drugged up I was as I am emotional on any normal day and I would have been through the roof if I'd been in my usual frame of mind. 

Saying 'hello' and 'goodbye' to Finlay before he went to the NICU. I do not remember this picture being taken.

There are pictures of me with Finlay just before they took him away. Sadly, I have little recollection of seeing him or touching him before he went off but do have three pictures as proof.

I held Iain and Aidan within moments of them being born and that includes when Iain's lungs were suctioned due to him inhaling meconium when he was born or when Aidan was born with a giant bruise on his head from being stuck in the birth canal for over three hours. It was almost 24 hours before I held Finn.

Finlay was in the NICU for five days and they were very, very difficult days. First of all, no one could tell us how long he would be there. No one could tell us if he would have another seizure or even if the actions he had initially displayed even were a seizure (and we will likely never know the answer to that question). Seeing him in an incubator was hard but seeing all of the probes stuck to his little body was horrible. One of my few consolations was that the NICU staff was unable to get his IV hooked up through his skull and instead used his belly button. Though their attempts meant that he had little bald patches all over his head, he still looked 'normal' to me. The IV hooked up through a newborn's head is a scary sight as far as I'm concerned.

We got used to some aspects of his situation such as his incubator. I called it his 'man cave' and I bet if we could built them adult male size, we would make a mint selling them. It kept him warm and cozy at the exact temperature he liked. It tipped when he was sleeping so that he had the most optimal sleeping arrangements. And he was provided with nourishment through his IV so he never felt hungry or thirsty. Naturally, he also had someone to change his diaper when he needed it. What a life!

Finn's personal 'Man Cave'

Things quickly got better for all of us especially after I was able to hold him and nurse him. Finn was on IV fluids in his incubator so we were a little concerned that he would not take to the breast but he did. Over the five days he was in the incubator, his IV fluids were reduced and his appetite was enormous. The first time the nurses reduced his 'medicine meals', I got a call in my room saying to come down to the NICU and please hurry because Finlay was HUNGRY!

It is a very strange experience to live on a maternity ward and to not have your baby with you. I felt like a fake-Mom. I was surrounded by women and their families and their gorgeous little newborns and I was worried sick because my baby was too sick to even be let out of the NICU let alone to see visitors. Except for a very precious few family members, we did not tell anyone when Finn was born. I could not handle the "and how is everyone doing?" question. We didn't know how Finn was doing and when a new baby is born, everyone wants to visit the hospital to see the baby and I did not have a baby to show them. Only my parents, my brother and SIL and big brother Iain were granted entry to the NICU to see Finn.

Proud big brother Iain (who also missed his Mama a little bit too much)

To cope, I followed the nursing staff's instructions to a 'T'. Finn's NICU nurse (he had one on one care there) and I worked out a nursing and pumping schedule. She kept maintaining that my job was to rest up in preparation to take on full-time care of Finlay and to produce breast milk. Being overtired would not help either duty so I spent what time I spent in the maternity ward either eating cold hospital food (inevitably I would get a call that Finn was ready to be fed just before the meals were delivered so they would sit and get cold until I got back), sleeping or pumping. I did not go to the NICU overnight instead pumping milk, putting it in the refrigerator and then bringing it to the NICU staff for his night feedings. Luckily, I have been a nursing mother pretty much since Iain's birth in 2007 so milk production was not an issue.

DH and I were present when the paediatric team would do their rounds in the NICU ward. They were amazing and we both felt that our concerns were listened to and acted upon. The NICU head nurse was very pro-breast feeding which meant that Finn's 'medicine meals' were reduced so that I could step up to nurse full-time.

Finlay never did show any further signs of seizure activity in the NICU or at home with us. After five days of no concerns coupled with a normal EEG, Finn was able to come up to my room. The first thing DH said when he held him there was,

"Have you finished scaring the crap out of us yet?"

Have you finished scaring the crap out of us, Fin-Finny?
We were released from the hospital under the condition that we would return if Finlay showed any signs of subsequent seizures (the fact that this was my third baby helped) and that he have an ultrasound within his first week of discharge. 

Finlay has had that ultrasound, additional hearing tests, another EEG and is being followed by a special paediatric group that concentrates on babies who have been in the NICU. They tell me he is the healthiest baby in their program and he has never shown anything else that has concerned us medically.

He cut his first tooth this week, is over 22 lbs, has yet to meet a solid (pureed) food that he doesn't like and can combat crawl on his belly around the house so nothing is safe from his inquiring fingers or mouth these days!

Thanks for joining our family, Finlay, even if it started off a little rough. You have certainly made up for your first week in spades by being a beautifully laid back and cheerful little fellow who rarely, ever cries (and when you do it is for a very good reason). We love you and I don't know how we did without you.

Happy eight month birthday, Finn!

Iceberg Alley

A friend of mine commented recently that if she lived at our house she would be taking pictures all the time. It is true that we are very spoiled by our view. We moved into this house in January of 2010. This is the first spring since we moved in that we have been treated to dozens and dozens of ice bergs. Most are moving too far off the Head (that's Torbay Head in the second picture) to take a decent photograph but we could see them out there all the same. The current way off must be incredibly strong because it was moving huge pieces of ice from the extreme left to right of the horizon within hours.

Then, about a month ago, two ice bergs moved into Torbay itself and the one in the second picture has been grounded there ever since. Believe it or not, the closest ice berg in the first picture, is the same berg in the second picture. It has melted, flipped and we have watched huge pieces fall off and crash into the ocean.

It has been quite the tourist attraction. On sunny days, there are often tour vans passing by and we have had the occasional vehicle parked in our upper driveway while their occupants hike down over the hill for a closer view of the ice. 

Just down the road in the village of Quidi Vidi, an ice berg grounded about two months ago. On one of the rare weekends that DH has been home this spring, we went for a drive and then a short hike to see it. We had to trek over a fairly difficult path (and I wasn't in the shoes for it; I really should know better after being married all this time. Bring sensible shoes. Always.) to reach the Gut where the ice was grounded. 

It was totally worth the scramble and provided us with our first family photograph with an ice berg since moving back home in 2009. 

The weather in Newfoundland and Labrador may not be the greatest when you compare rain, drizzle and fog (RDF) days to sunny ones but you cannot beat this province when it decides to do spectacular.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012