Friday, June 26, 2009

The Summer Cottage

Now that schools out we can turn our focus to our summer vacation ...realizing that it's just around the corner now.

We decided not to camp this year, but instead to go cottaging ;) Below you can see pictures of the lovely country cottage we will be occupying ... how's that look for a cottage???? Only about three times bigger then our home.

For the month of July we are housesitting at my parents home. We will probably do some day trips or an overnight camping trip or two, but that's the extent of what we've plan for the summer ... we'll see as the summer comes what we feel like doing or not doing. This is more my style of holidaying ... I'm not all that fond of camping. I plan to treat the month of July like a holidays - lazing around, relaxing, lots of visiting and visitors. I managed to prep plenty of baking and meals already to make it even less work. And I'll just tell you up front, in case you come for a visit ... I'm not cleaning that big house spic and span all the time ... we'll survive in a bit of disorder ... so if you're coming down, dress down and kick back and relax with us ... I'm on holidays remember!! :) I'm looking forward to the wide open space for the kids to run and play, enjoy evening campfires and hopefully some swimming, but most of all the quiet! We're looking forward to being back in old surrounds and visiting with those we know in the area. We're just looking forward to the summer, so hopefully we're not disappointed in the end.

So we have plenty of room ... outdoors and indoors ... for visitors. So bring yourself on down for a visit. You can camp in the yard or enjoy the guest rooms or other spaces in the house ... no worries we can fit extras and we'll enjoy the company. If you want to do some visiting in the area or some sight seeing and are looking for a place to snooze we can accomodate. Pop on in!! I'll just forwarn that Rob is still working (work will only be a few minutes away now), but he might be around in the evenings and will be there for the weekends. Our contact information remains the same - our phone service is being forwarded there and e-mail stays the same of course.

Anyways ... now to the pictures of this cottage:

View from the back yard


View from the front yard (can't see much with the trees in the way)

Guest Room and Music/Entertainment/Family Room (whatever you want to call it)


Living Room and Kitchen

View of the garden from the wrap-around-porch

Oh ... and there's a good chance the blog may become a bit more silent ... or at least a whole lot more picture-less seeing as we'll be relying on dial-up. So no fear, I'm still connected, but don't expect quick and immediate responses like before ... and for sure no more MSN :) Ah ... I'm actually looking forward to it ... it's that love-hate war I have with my computer :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Schools Out for Summer

Wow, can't believe another year has gone by already. I always feel like the end of the school year is more like the kid's birthday then their actual birthday ... it's then that it really hits that they're growing up and getting bigger. Suddenly they're not in Grade 3 and 1 anymore, they're in Grade 4 and 2. Agghhh ... grade 4 already. It always seem at this time that I realize how fast time flies ... no matter what's going on in life, time continues to move forward and we continue to get a bit older each day again.

I could not get my camera to work this morning for the assembly, so I don't have any pictures of the kids singing or Marietta playing the record. They did a nice job.

To celebrate another school year gone by and done well we went out for ice cream for dessert tonight ... it was definitely a hot enough day to be eating ice cream!!

Matthew enjoying his Oat "Ice Cream". I'm so thankful for the ice cream maker that we got from our old neighbour (actually her daughter gave it to us after she passed away). If only I had taken the time to figure it out when James was alive ... he could have had something better then just frozen nutriwhip.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

African Lions Safari

This past Friday the kids from school went on their much anticipated Year-End School Trip. This year it was Rebecca's turn to have her mom tag along ... really I'm just the knapsack carrier :) This year her class went to African Lions Safari.

After a week of cool and rainy weather we had a welcome surprise of a nice mostly sunny day. The day started off cloudy and cool, but by time we got there the sun was starting to peak out and before long it was an absolutely gorgeous day. By mid-afternoon the sun was almost getting a bit too hot ... but none of us would dare complain after expecting rain all day.

We had a lovely day. We manage to see all the shows and go on all the "rides" (a bus, train and boat ride to see various animals) as well as spend some time at the waterpark (no pictures of that). The kids had tons of fun and really enjoyed themselves.

Our group and playing in the play area. Hilarious how we were all commenting on "when we were kids". We all seem to remember when we were kids and the groups were huge. We were trying to figure out why more parents didn't go with back then. Needless to say the most any of us had in our group was three kids, a nice small easy size.

And the rest is pictures of animals. We seen lots of animals, but here's some of the better pictures or better looking animals ;)

At the Elephant Show.
Left: Picking up her trainer who was laying on the ground.
Right: Painting a picture. You can purchase shirts in the gift shop that the elephants had painted (smeared paint spots on)

The Elephants give there finally good-bye.

At the Bird Show - it was hard to get good pictures of what they were doing, but this one was pretty neat:

Riding a two-wheeler bike

More animal pictures:

Pink Flamingo's - I love how their necks curve up and down when they're drinking
A Deer with her just born fawn

Can't visit African Lions Safari without some pictures of the lions ...

....although really it's the baboons that are the most interesting to the kids. The bus stopped extra long at this section for them to take in all the fun the baboons were having. Shortly after we left a truck went into that area and within a minute had a back full of baboons. Before you enter the next section of the park a park warden will check to make sure no baboons are hiding out on your vehicle somewhere. (I guess I should further explain here that at the Safari there is a large section where you do a drive-thru tour. You can take this tour on one of their buses, or if you're not afraid of getting some scratches or losing an ornament or two you can drive your own vehicle through. I definitely recommend taking the bus as the tour guide provides a mountain of information making it very interesting ... the kids are too busy talking and watching the animals, but the parents enjoying learning about the animals)

A rhinoceros and bison (which we more commonly call Buffalo, but this is incorrect as in American we have Bison not buffalo. Although I can't remember the detailed differences between the two one thing is that the buffalo is native to Africa and Asia)

This is one of those "you had to be there" pictures. All the zebra's came wandering over towards the bus to check us out. Guess they must have short vision or something because as soon as they got close enough they must have realized it was just that bus again as they all turned around about the same time and then stood there with their buts facing us.

And last but not least were the giraffe's. The kids loved how the one came marching over to the bus to give it a good licking and chewing.

It was nice that African Lions Safari is not far from the school. This meant we had more time to spend at the park. We arrived back at school at 5pm, the same time as the other buses from the older grades arrived back at school after spending the day at Ontario Place, but they had sat in traffic for almost two hours. Marietta had a good day at Ontario Place also, although she was somewhat disappointed that they did very few things and didn't see half the park but had to spend a lot of time at the waterpark ... she would have liked to try a few more rides and stuff. Part of the problem here of course is that it takes longer to get there and back , so their day is short ... it is also a popular place and so the lines are long and they have to wait quite a while each time. But overall she also had a good day.
We enjoyed the barbeque at school before we all went home and crashed nice and early.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

But ... He Grows

Our dear Matthew continues to give us highs and lows when it comes to concerns about his health. He just completely perplexes us, leaving us in this constant state of "wondering". Always wondering whether there is something wrong, whether it's just the type of kid he is, whether he'll simply outgrow the issues, whether we need to turn our heads the other way and ignore things or whether we should actually be concerned, etc.

I tend to ride the rollercoaster with Matthew most of the time. Some times I just can't ride it anymore and I get so frustrated and down about what to do with him. Other times I'm completely content to tag along and let him ride his ups and downs and just be there for him. Then there are the times where for some reason I'm content to just let him ride and not be concerned about the ride he's taking ... just sort of go with the flow in this non-phased mode. Most of the time I'm riding with Matthew, content to enjoy the good and forget the bad when it's going okay and wishing I could understand more and do more when it's not going so good.

While Matthew is riding the rollercoaster up and down I am also swinging ... back and forth ... between empathy and pure frustration. My motherly instincts tell me that there is something not right, that he is not acting so miserable just to drive me insane, that he is trying to tell us something, that he has pain/discomfort. But then I doubt my instincts because some of his ways seem to simply be attitude ... an unruly kid who demands and expects to get his way. How do I keep him in line but still provide the comfort that is required? His personality makes this very difficult and I am often ashamed and disappointed in my parenting skills when dealing with him ... my other kids would never have gotten away with the things he does ... they also would never have pushed their limits like he does either.

There is a pattern in his behaviour, but how do we explain it. Often his ups are short lived and his downs are quite regular and the pattern is not very obvious ... but if we look at the good stretches and bad stretches we've had we do see a general pattern ... two completely opposite kids!!

During those bad times we see a child who is clingy, whining, easily upset, doesn't play very well, or only for very short periods of time, becomes quite defiant and doesn't listen very well (it is like he is always testing you), wants to watch TV all the time, is always begging for his bottles and drinks lots from a cup but refuses to eat or eats very littles (nothing worth talking about),

And the good times are quite the opposite ... you see a kid who's busy, active, creative, plays nicely, listens half-decently (still improvement needed ... yes all kids need improvement, but this one stretches the limits) and the most important, eats relatively well. I say relatively because not all good stages are the same, sometimes he eats just a bit more, while others times he eats really well ... but regardless the eating improves to more like a normal toddler with some meals better then others, but in the end food gets in them. And the other thing we often notice is the difference on his face. At first I didn't clue in, but I would say "he looks different", it was Rob who realized that it was whenever he was in a good-good stage that I would say this ... it's like he just looks more relaxed and less worn out.

And just like Rebecca with her colic and James with what we thought was colic ... he loves to make a liar out of me ... for he does quite well elsewhere and is happy and content. And just like Rebecca and James I always question whether I need to just go out more (in my opinion we are gone plenty as it is), or find different ways to stimulate him, or spend more time playing with him ... but really, I can't be spending all day entertaining my kid. Or maybe it's just me, seeing as he doesn't ask and beg others for his bottles (not even Rob until he's really in need), but the second I step through the door I hear "bobby?!?". But I don't give in to him every time and I work hard to distract him from the desire to have his bottle all the time ... so am I a pushover or am I just his comfort zone. We know well enough that others do not see the grief and anxiety that Rebecca is going through, but we sure do as we are her comfort zone.

As you can see I'm just as mixed up as Matthew. But my title says "but ... he grows". And indeed this is the part that shocks us and relieves us. Even during those times where he's pretty much just surviving off his bottles (to a max. of 30oz a day, we have put a limit on what he gets so he's not being filled with liquid ... not that it helps) .... he still grows. His bottles only provide about a 1/4-1/3 of the calories that a child his age should be getting ... yet the kid is full of energy and growing perfectly fine. At the same time he also develops fine, absolutely no issues there. All the more reason to support the idea of just turning a blind eye ... which I would gladly do if he weren't making so much fuss with his crying, whining and hanging off my leg.

I started this blog a few weeks ago and never got around to sitting behind my computer long enough to finish it. During that time period we again made a change ... this time we removed two foods we have suspected for some time might be an issue ... soy and rice. This is after another change we did not long ago ... we reintroduced wheat. After four weeks back off wheat and no improvement we just got sick of it all and decided it was time to give up on that restriction and allow some freedom (ahhh ... and how nice for mom!!). There was no change ... good or bad ... when we did this. One of the holdups on pulling soy and rice was because I had no idea what I would feed him, especially when he was also off of wheat. So with wheat back in the diet we put him on a 50/50 combination of Oat Milk (Oat Dream) and Hemp Milk (Hemp Bliss). Just as with previous diet changes we had several quite good days at first (I think it was 5 days) and usually it goes downhill from there, but this time we're in a mediocre stage. He is eating okay (not consistently and not always up to par, but enough to keep me happy) and playing relatively well (we have seen better), but he's still begging for bottles and wanting to watch TV all day long. Although not ideal yet, I could settle for him staying like this as it's much more manageable and easier for me to keep my sanity :) Realistically we are not so confident that allergies/intolerance are the issue ... for then we would not have had the whole month of December and April so good ... but as it stands now if he stays like this it is much easier for us to cross our fingers that he'll outgrow his issues. I am also hoping the upcoming summer months, with the kids home, with a change in routine and living quarters (more to follow on that) with space to run and roam ... that he will be so busy he'll forget to be cranky, miserable and clingy. I hope I'm not setting myself up for disappointment, but I do think it may help.

So here's to keeping positive and enjoying the "mediocre" time while hoping for "good times"!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Play Day

Yesterday was Play Day at school for the girls. Instead of having the traditional Track and Field Day the kids instead participate in Play Day which involves a variety of games that the kids compete at. Some games are individual games and others require more teamwork. The kids are divided into teams for the day and have to learn how to work together as a team - helping each other out, cheering each other on, etc. At each event they earn points as a team based on how they do and at the end of the day the team with the most points wins. All in all it's just a day of fun and games.

We couldn't have asked for better weather this year. It was a beautiful sunny day at around 22C with a bit of a cool wind - lovely! I had hoped to spend the morning watching the girls, but unfortunately Matthew didn't agree with my schedule as he was not the most cooperative and since he woke up early by 11am he was asking for his bottle (not an unusual request from him, but usually he does not ask when we're out having "fun") and was ready for bed. But I did get some pics of the time that I was there to watch.

Marietta at the basketball throw (they get points for getting it in the regular net or through the hoola-hoop that is hanging vertical off the net) and the sack race (points for how far they can jump in a certain time period).

Marietta at the soccer challenge (there is a snowman drawn on the wall and if they kick the ball into one of the snowmans circles then they get points -the higher they kick it, the more points)

Rebecca at the hockey challenge (a board is placed across the hockey net with various holes in it and they various score points if they get it through the holes) and the baseball challenge (score points depending on how far they throw).

Rebecca enjoying her snack.

Yes you are seeing it right ... Matthew is indeed attached to a "leash" ... a skipping rope to be more percise. Matthew is a "runner" and I am NOT a runner ... I am actually quite tired of running after him. Matthew only lasts a short time in the stroller and then he's crying and screaming to come out ... and driving me and everyone else batty. He will not cooperate when it comes to holding your hand and I simply cannot hold him wiggling and squirming for long periods of time (nor even short periods as he's persistant), nor will he just be a good child like my others and stay in the general area of where I am without getting in the way. Instead he is always running off, in a defiant way ... he runs way out there and the minute I call him he looks at me, grins and takes off even faster .... now he's got a head start on me! Rob says I need to be firmer ... but Rob's firmness so far has not stopped him from making a beeline for the road at home all the time ... he simply is a troublemaker!

I had been thinking I was going to have to see if I could find myself one of those harnesses or wrist band things that people use ... but I figured he'd managed to get the wristband off (which someone confirmed that indeed there child figured that out pretty quickly) and the I couldn't find a harness but only a knapsack style one and this also I figured he would be able to get out of. So as we were leaving the driveway I seen the skipping rope hanging there ... and a light went on ... either I run after him the whole time or I put him on a leash. So I ran the rope through his belt loops, knotted it a few times and we were all set. Well actually I started off with the stroller, but as I figured that hardly lasted 10 minutes and he was wiggling, squirming and crying to be let out.
While many thought this was a brilliant idea and told me stories of what they had tried with their "Runners" I must point out that Matthew was not the least bit thrilled with my idea. Here I was giving him freedom but keeping him safe ... yet he did not appreciate it. He wanted to run and he wanted to run further then the length I was providing him. And so he insisted on trying over and over ... running to the end of his length then falling because it stopped all of a sudden ... laying on the ground crying because he wanted to go ... and as soon as he felt a bit of slack on the rope because I moved he'd get up and try it all over again. He simply cannot be content with just wandering around and watching what's going on - those little legs must be going full tilt at all times.

At one point he noticed the park next to the school and this really set him off on trying to run, falling, crying, having a fit, trying again ... receiving pity from some of the kids, etc. But I insisted he had to wait until the girls were done with their current event and then he could play. He thoroughly enjoyed this freedom ... even so much that I was able to get him back in the stroller afterwards ... probably because by that time he was asking for his bottle and needed a nap ... so we headed home. I had hoped to stay longer, but at least I had kept Matthew from running through the games and getting in the way ... hopefully better luck next year.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chatham Weekend

Last weekend we decided to head off to London and Chatham. Our goal was Chatham on Sunday in order to be there for the farewell service of Rev. V. who is leaving to do mission work in PNG. It was shorter then usual when it comes to our weekends away ... but was great nevertheless.

We left on Saturday afternoon, starting with a visit to Ted and Lydna's. Been a long time since we've been there ... can't believe how much the kids keep growing. We then moved on to Rob's mom's place for supper. Unfortunate for us was the fact that Matthew had not napped and so he was an absolute terror who refused to eat and refused to listen so we packed it up relatively quickly after supper and headed off to the "K" Hotel for the evening/night.

Matthew loved Grandma's little size chairs.

We had a lovely Sunday, I always find it so amazing how it feels like we never left. We listened to Rev. V. preach two service, probably the last time we'll hear him. We heard that they had a lovely Farewell Evening on Friday and heard words of encouragement to and from both Rev. V and the congregation.

Our only plan for Sunday was that we would stay for lunch ... as usual, just like old times, for the rest we didn't make plans as we sort of left last minute. Everytime we go we plan ahead and then always feel bad that we have to turn down other invitation for a visit ... so this time we figured we'd just play it by ear ... and it turned out very nice.

The kids sitting together at lunch time. So far our kids are still able to just step back in and join the others, this is nice to see as I'm sure as they get older this will not be so easy anymore.

I think the highlight of the trip for the kids (oh and us too :) came after church when we went for coffee at Ralph and Anita's. The kids had told us on the way up how Anita had invited them down last time to come and see their Llama's. Well it didn't quite go like that ... the kid's remember "some lady" inviting them down to see their animals and that they had an animal that's kinda like a horse but starts with L. The only person we could think of was Anita as we knew they had various animals, but we did not believe they had Llama's so we couldn't put the puzzle together ... guess we were wrong.

So we went off to see the various animals. Starting with Spirit the mini horse. Ralph thinks he's a bit tpp big to teach Spirit how to take a rider ... so we tried Matthew instead :) As usual Matthew wasn't the least bit fizzled by the horses and just trompped in the pen and walked in and around the horses like they were smaller then him.

Next it was off to see, pet, and feed the rabbits, guinea pig, chickens, silkies and pheasants, as well as collect the chicken eggs. The girls also got a chance to see a chick pecking it's way out of an egg in the incubator.

Marietta loved the baby bunnies. She was also somewhat taken by the mini horses ... until she fed Spirit and he nipped her.

Matthew asking for more food to give to the rabbits and guinea pig and then he would clap each time after an animal took his food.

And of course, let us not forget the llama's ... I think Ozzie is in need of some dental work.

Such a loving animal ... notice the recipient isn't quite a loving/giving ;) Ozzie was sure to keep his tabs on us ... I'm not so sure he was being loving, I think it was more like making sure I stayed out of their territory.

The offer to stay and house sit for a weekend or so sounded very exciting ... unfortunately I forgot that we already have a wedding to go to that weekend ... too bad! :( The kids are going to be quite disappointed ... I just won't say anything and hope they forget ;)

After our hobby farm tour it was off to Hilco and Ann's for supper. Afterwards the kids spent some time playing outside on the "hillbilly" slide and then went for a walk down by the river.

And as we drove home the famous question came again "why can't we move back to Chatham?"