Monday, January 31, 2005

Last of the Innocents

Megan and Maribeth have inducted themselves into the M's league of destruction. They proved the axiom again, "It is the quiet ones you have to watch out for."

I was mopping the kitchen and had blocked the girls off (see my previous post) in the living room, safely away from the wonderous mop bucket of bubbles. Of course they noisily protested for the first 10 minutes and then wandered off to the far corners of their pen to find toys or crumbs or something else of interest. I managed to finish up the kitchen without hearing too much more from them, and then I moved into the bathroom, just around the corner, to finish up the floor. I could still hear them giggling excitedly over some trinket they found.

Five minutes later, when I emerged from the bathroom, having dumped out the mop water and flushed the toilet, I realized I could not hear them anymore.

Curious, I ventured past my barricade to see what they were up to. I found them hiding behind the excersaucer busily unspooling an audio tape!

Thus our twins have made their first entry (at least as far as I'm concerned; Cheryl says she's caught them at this already) into the long catalogue of mangled books, video tapes, and scratched CD's which was started by Melissa, augmented by Michael, and expanded into multiple volumes by Madeleine.

Sigh, 'tis the end of the beginning. Our babies are growing up.

Too cute to not blog this!

Megan, exploring the floor
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

This photo, along with some others, was taken in December on a smaller CF card and we missed downloading them until now.

The twins are such adorable sweeties and so far pretty agreeable. I remember power struggles with the older ones once they started crawling around - but so far the twins get into way less trouble / messes over all and listen much better than the older ones did at their age.

Yesterday it was sunny and relatively warm - so I decided to open the door and air out the house as I was working in the kitchen (our door is in our kitchen). Megan and Maribeth crawled over to the door and started to crawl out of it.

"No Megan. No Maribeth. Stay inside," I called to them.

They immediately stopped crawling and sat and turned to look at me.

"Come here, come away from the door." They both got big grins and came crawling to me. I have to admit I was shocked!

I've got a couple of theories - one is that maybe God has blessed us with some more laid back children! Another is that they see the older children following instruction so can maybe sense that's expected? As far as just getting into mischief - they have the 3 older children to interact with and that may counteract the lure of the forbidden. Theory number three is that the older children are pretty good at catching the babies getting into things they shouldn't.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Moving Day is Coming

The house is looking both more empty and more full as the contents of various cupboards, closets, and shelves have been transferred into boxes, which in turn are accumulating into various box stacks; strategically placed to impede further progress.

I packed up the area around my desk today. I have filled a Dell computer box with our scanner, CD wallets, various cables, spare speakers, and more.

I bought 3 wardrobe boxes from U-Haul to swallow up everything in our closet, the children's closet, and our cloak room. With four girls in our family, I think this may be the least number of wardrobe boxes we'll have for any conceiveable move in the next twenty years.

One outstanding item that is worrying us is that we don't have an appointment yet with the Co-op to pick up the key.

Packing with Twins

Note to self - always make sure the twins are securely blocked off from the area where packing is taking place. They're just too smart to keep out of trouble!

This evening was devoted to getting everything hanging on our walls and in our closets into boxes. I got some newspapers together and was wrapping up our framed pictures when the twins came crawling over to where I was seated in the kitchen.

I tried to shoo them away, but they wouldn't leave. Melissa and Michael came in at that point and managed to distract the two into following them back to their room. Consequently I forgot all about them.

A few minutues later Cheryl also came in, opened up the cupboards, and started pulling dishes off the shelves and packing them into a box on the kitchen floor. Then I heard a squawk of protest from Cheryl, "What are you doing!?"

I turned to see that Megan and Maribeth had silently and stealthily crawled past me into the kitchen and homed in on an undefended box of left-over candy canes. Each girl clutched a candy cane (or two) in each of her chubby little fists, and was vigorously sucking on them with the wrappers still on, no doubt in hopes of schlurping the plastic right off and getting at the sweetness inside.

For a few minutes Cheryl and I debated (to put it politely) over who was going to stop what they were doing and attend to the baby confection bandits. It fell to Cheryl to deal with the twins, which is why she did nothing more (or less) than condone their raid by unwrapping a candy cane for each girl and handing it back to her.

All of which is just a very long winded way of saying that I ended up doing the de-sticky-fying of the twins before plopping them into their cribs, each with a bottle.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Maddy and the Mushroom

Maddy and her trusty sidekick
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Lunch today included some cooked mushrooms. Maddy - my usually not at all picky eater - got very, very upset about the mushroom on her plate, "no. NO GET IT OFF!"

I told her to, "Just try it."

That was met with a chorus of, "NO NO NO NO NO."

Now Maddy is a drama queen but this time there were real tears pouring down her face as she literally backed away from the plate crying, "NO!"

Finally I said, "Maddy, EAT IT."

She looked at me and said, "NO, IT POISENOUS!"

I about fell over. (This was the longest word I've ever heard Maddy say.)

Of course, Melissa and Michael instantly spit out their mushrooms and pushed their plates away.

Then it dawned on me: this fall when the leaves fell and the rains came - there were little mushrooms growing in our lawn and in the path through the "forest" in the local park. I had emphasized over and over to the kids that they were NOT TO PICK, TOUCH or especially EAT wild mushrooms.

Maddy remembered! This child usually has a memory of about 5 minutes for anything we tell her and she remembered all the way back from this past fall.

I felt bad because Maddy thought I was trying to poison her; then I thought it was kind of funny; then I was proud of her for remembering what I told her about mushrooms. Of course no amount of explaining about mushrooms from the store being o.k. to eat would convince any of them to try mushrooms after that.

It's all about the cello

cello with case and bow
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Usually this blog is about our children so this is a deviation from the norm in that this post is all about my cello.

In a former life - I played cello - rather well it seems now - though of course I never thought I played well then. My technique has seriously deteriorated with the lack of practice in recent years.

Until recently that part of my life was literally stuck in a closet and forgotten about. Things likely would have remained in that state for a while were it not for the fact that we are moving and switching insurance companies. The new company needed a current appraisal. Now by current - they meant one done in the past year. So I set off on an investigation to find where I could get appraisals of the cello and bow. After many, many phone calls - either dead ends or the "we don't do that, try calling so and so" - I finally found the right guy at a violin shop in Vancouver. So after a phone call with him - I headed downtown late Saturday afternoon with cello and bows in tow.

The shop was not obvious - just a small sign on a door. Both the windows on the door and next to the door had closed blinds and bars. A small "OPEN" sign was on the outside of the door. Otherwise I would have though the shop to be closed.

Inside I was struck by the familiar smell of a violin shop. It was wonderful to sit and just BE there in that atmosphere; listening to the shop owner helping the previous customer - a young man who had inherited a violin and wanted to know how much it was worth.

However, unlike the shops I have been in back East, this one had some pretty tight security. Security cameras were everywhere. The work area was in the back - not visible to the public. The violins were locked in cabinets and none were out for display. More security cameras were trained on the cabinets. The walls had posters of stringed instruments and there was a rack with brochures for the symphony.

When the luthier came out, he was the real thing - apprenticed in England and very, very knowledgeable in his field. He sells, repairs and appraises instruments all the way into the professional level including for many members of the Symphony.

As he looked my cello and bows over all the while taking notes - he talked to me about people in the local classical music scene as if I knew them, or at least knew who they were. He was floored when I said I "wasn't playing". He then wanted to know if I would consider selling - as he knew of several people that would be most likely interested in buying! That was a reality check! Absolutely not! I have no plans to EVER sell the cello! But that got me to thinking - that really I ought to be playing it. The instrument deserves to be played. I left with a vow to practice again and get back to playing. What use is having an instrument that I don't play? Especially when we will be paying a pretty penny to insure it.

So I've started practicing again here and there and have e-mailed the Fraser Valley Symphony about auditioning to join the orchestra for next season. I played with them prior to getting pregnant with Melissa. I have yet to hear back from them - but it's a goal to shoot for.

Loud is better

New vacuum
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

We have a new vaccum - the kids are really excited about it because it's LOUD! The M's are loud and they like things that make loud noise. The louder the better as far as they are concerned!

Another Melissa moment today:

The twins were screaming for more food, Michael and Maddy were fighting loudly. Melissa drops something onto the tile floor and exclaimed, "I broke the silence!"

Very funny Melissa. There wasn't any silence to break!

Melissa's Mix-up

That was fun!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

It was a disappointing start to the day for Melissa. Auntie Gail and Grandpa were going to stop by on their way to the airport so the kids could say good-bye to Gail who is moving to PA and Melissa had been promised she could ride along with them to the airport. Grandpa phoned at 11am to let me know that Gail was running too late for them to stop by and still make her flight.

Melissa was disappointed that "Auntie Gail forgot about me". This was soon followed up with "Can you call Grandmommy to come get me instead?" Unfortunately Grandmommy is sick and not planning a trip to the West Coast anytime soon.

In talking to Melissa I soon realized the reason for her distress. She thought she was supposed to be going ON the airplane with Auntie Gail and Grandpa for Auntie Gail's wedding! Now that was a big communcation mix-up!

I explained that Grandpa wasn't going with Auntie Gail just dropping Auntie Gail off at the airport and the that wedding wasn't for months. Reassured that she wasn't missing Auntie Gail's wedding - Melissa was willing to be consoled with a photo shoot. She wanted Auntie Gail to see what the house looks like now with the bunk beds down and boxes everywhere. Check out our flicker pages for Melissa's tour of the packing progress!

Melissa also discovered that the giant U-haul wardrobe boxes make a great slide when leaning up against the bed. This photo is taken AFTER the trip down the box slide.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Maribeth and the Bun of Great Size

Grandma Sophie quelled the fussing of the twins before potluck yesterday by handing each of them what amounted to a mini-loaf of bread. The girls were so pleased by their great fortune that they each hung onto their buns throughout the entire meal, afterwards, and all the way until they got home when we took this picture and others.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I brush and floss!

I brush and floss!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Auntie Ally did a wonderful job teaching Melissa about dental hygeine last winter. If Melissa forgets to brush - all you have to say is "what would Auntie Ally say about that?" or "uh oh - we better call Auntie Ally" and Melissa will run for her toothbrush in a panic screeching "No, don't call Auntie Ally, don't tell her - I'll brush my teeth RIGHT NOW!". Now if only Michael and Maddy would be so diligent!

Quick Trick Box Stack

one more try
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

I can make a quick trick box stack. Kids can make a quick trick block stack...

The boxes stacked around the house are awfully tempting for the small children. Interestingly enough - since the box stacks showed up - the M's have been making more blocks stacks than ever before!

.. Kids with blocks come. Kids with box come. Kids with box and blocks and socks come ..

Sillines aside now: in this photo Maribeth's haircut can be seen. Note that her bangs are shorter. Unfortunately - Gail didn't save the hair for the baby book - so I'll have to do another "official" first haircut later on. You'll also notice that Melissa has bangs for the first time - but has already decided she wants to grow them out again.

"It's just hair Mommy: it will grow back in a while".


Cheryl with 5 M's

Cheryl with 5 M's
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

Beth took this - she was very insistent on getting a photo with me AND all 5 M's.

Beth - the other photos you took of just the 5 M's are on Flicker.

Beth and Bitty Beth

Beth and Bitty Beth
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

A delayed post - these were taken the day before we all got sick. It's taken me a while to get them up here.

Michael and Melissa's "math game"

Melissa - "What's 3 plus 3?"

Michael - "6 - what's 2 plus 1."

Melissa - "3 - whats 4 plus 4."

Michael - "8 - MOMMY - what's 7 plus 5 plus 9 plus 6?"

Me - "ummmm- 27"

Michael - o.k. so whats 4 plus 7 plus 6 plus 8 plus 6 and 7 and 7 and 8 and 9


(manical laugher from the M's)

Michael - "So when we move, you will do our math again?"

Me - "Yes after we are moved"

Michael and Melissa "YAY MATH! Lots and lots and lots of math when we move!"

No, they don't really know the answers to the long ones but they think it's funny to see how much addition *I* can do in my head.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

While the kids are away...

the babies play! Scuffling, crawling, babbling and giggling sounds are coming from the big kids bedroom. It's the mischieves duo explorering forbiddon territory all on their own without any big sisters or brother to yell "NO BABIES". I'm very happy to hear happy baby sounds because it means they are feeling better. Though I suspect the older children may seriously regret NOT having picked up their room when they get back. Michael, Melissa and Maddy went with Daddy to church this morning while I stayed home with the twins.

It's been a rough week. Everyone has colds and coughs and I am fighting off another sinus infection. The babies ran high fevers for several days early this week so I took them to the doctor on Tuesday and it turns out they both have ear infections again. Beth and I got food posioning and I spend Wed in the hospital getting IV rehydration. Beth spend the day in bed, Allan skipped work to watch the 5 M's solo. Beth was well enough on Thursday to travel back to Maine - so she is back home now and resting up there.

I unfortunately managed to pass food poisoning on to Maribeth - so she ended up sick and puking all day Friday. We managed to avert a potentional ER trip with her with some Gravol suppositories. The antibiotic is starting to work on their ears but is having the unfortunate side effect of diarrhea. Megan is being particuarly hard hit with it as she is no longer breastfeeding, can't drink soy and dairy formula makes it worse.

A phone call to my Dad this morning led to a strategy that seems to be working - rehydration formula drink instead of formula in bottles for Megan mixed with sugar free drink mix (generic Crystal Lite). After her nap she guzzled down a 6 oz bottle of that no problem! Sometimes it's a good thing that Megan will drink ANYTHING!
Then she is to eat binding foods - rice cereal mixed with acidophilus, banana, applesauce, strained carrots, crackers and toast bits. Foods to avoid are other fruits and dairy products. Lunch was rice cereal with acidophilus and applesauce and both girls are doing so much better. Better enough to be crawling around the floor and playing together and...oh no...ripping up books....all for now.

Friday, January 07, 2005

You have money to burn?

You have money to burn?
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

At Science World today, Michael volunteered my $5 bill for the demonstration where the money is coated in something and then set on fire. The kids and I have seen this done before and the money turns out fine in the end. Only not this time. This time she didn't shake the jar enough - the $5 wasn't completely covered and the bill actually burnt. Not all of it - but enough of it that she had give me a new $5 bill. So Michael ended up with a very interesting idea of the purpose of the experiment - "wow - she set it on fire and then it just turned into TWO just like magic. Only one had a big hole in it".

Special Guest Post

Hi .. this is umm .. me. I think I'm supposed to blog here, but usually I don't. But not because I don't want to. Mostly because, umm .. all my words are used up by the end of the day. At any rate, I think Cheryl has done a fantastic job of picking up the slack - and it was pretty slack!

Cheryl says to say, "Jumping Jehoshaphat!" -- whatever that means.

Anyhow, I am glad we are moving: although it is and will continue to be a very time-consuming project. Cheryl has done an amazing job of getting the bookshelves in the office taken care of. Of everything in this house, I was dreading that the most.

The next thing I was dreading the most was getting the utilities and our bank accounts, drivers' licensing, etc. etc. sorted out. Cheryl has made huge progress in that regard by sorting out our utilities, but I'm not looking forward to standing in line at the driver's licensing office.

We're also taking the advice of getting rid of as much as we can before we actually start packing. Less clutter means less stuff to shift!

I will be within a 1/2 hour bike ride of my office so I can justify riding to work and home. Woohoo!

And while we're on the subject of commuting, I just want to comment on this general attitude of hilarity other Canadians have whenever it comes up that an inch or two of snow have fallen here in the B.C. and that has brought traffic here to standstill. To a certain extent I can see how, when most of the rest of the country has to contend with snow drifts and blizzards of thee white stuff 9 months of the year, they think it's just pathetic that drivers here can't handle an mere centimetre or two. But all in all I have to say that all the news stories on the CBC and Globe & Mail are founded in envy and pure ignorance of what the conditions are like here.

First of all, when it snows here, it is a wet snow. It's wet coastal slop that the experienced locals know to stay out of until all the refugees from other parts of Canada who 'think' they know how to handle it have filed all their insurance claims.

Every fall most Canadians get snow tires or at least switch to all-season M+S (mud and snow) tires. Not so here in the Lower Mainland. Since we get snow so infrequently, very few people do the seasonal tire switch. Even folks from other parts of the country quickly get lulled into not doing this. The bottom line on this is that very few cars here are equipped for dealing with wet slushy snow.

Secondarily, if the cold snap that caused the snow to fall is of any duration, experienced locals know the snow (and the inevitable sand put down by the highway department) will harden overnight into concrete/ice. So day 2 of the cold snap is usually when all the other drivers from elsewhere who survived day 1 get to play bumper cars with each other.

The good news in all of this is that snow rarely lasts here beyond a week or so. After a day or two, the arctic outflow windws that caused the cold snap are driven away by one of the many 'pineapple express' fronts that we get from Hawaii: we go back to our usual spring-like conditions and the rest of Canada goes back to having to endure the rest of winter.

Posting for nothing

According to my blogger profile - I have all of 6 posts! So if I've only posted 6 times - where did the rest of the posts by someone logged in as me come from!? Why are my "recent posts" in my profile all from Sept-Oct of 2004? I can't figure out how it came up with six posts. Darn it - I want my posts to be counted!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I forgot how much I hate moving

I hate moving. I hate moving. I hate moving. It's amazing how much junk can be accumlated over the course just under 4 years in one place. Especially with adding 3 children since we moved here. I've been on a clean out mission since the twins were born. Last's years spring clean up saw a stack about as big as our kitchen out on the sidewalk but that was nothing compared to this.

I've donated van-fulls of stuff to charity and stuff for the trash. But there is still so far to go on the packing and de-cluttering. I've started to pack and there are piles of boxes springing up over the house - but there is still so far to go. I know we don't move for 3 weeks - but I want to take advantage of the time my sister Beth is here - because it's impossible to do anything without backup help with the kiddies. The sheer size of the tasks is daunting as is the prospect of setting it all back up on the other end.

Allan took down our wooden shelves last night and stacked/taped the peices together. Those are destined for our garage for storage. Together we tackled our boxes and junk drawers of computer disks/parts/CD's. We trashed tons of completely out-dated parts and all my assignment disks from college. yes - I used to actually have the ability to think rationally and write coherently. I also disovered disks with digital photos from my Grandmothers memorial service in 1996 - the first photos my dad scanned on his 1st generation handheld scanner, then saved to 3.5 floppies and snailmailed to me. We were able to save most of the photos off the disks but some were corrupted already from 9 years of storage.

Today we met with the co-op secretary to sign all the paperwork and turn in our damage deposit. After that meeting - I had our new address - so spent the afternoon on the phone. I've got phone service lined up to switch for Feb 1st. We have to get a new phone number though. I was driven batty by the Telus auto-attendant. It's VOICE RECOGNITION not "press 1 for....". Which is a nice idea in theory - but not practical at all when you are attempting to do this while holding a fussing baby and trying to mediate between fighting preschoolers. Whoever designed that doesn't have children or know children or think that people with children have to phone Telus.

We're also signing up with Telus for DSL. That is not without reservations - as Gail has had some very bad experiences with Telus - but it was cheaper than cable with Shaw. Significantly cheaper. So that was the deciding factor. I've also got to cancel our wwdb e-mail only account (which will require sitting on hold forever) get set up with Hydro for Feb 1st, get the mail forwarding paperwork filled out and start giving everyone else our new address contact info. I've also realized we need to buy a dryer AND a real vacuum cleaner. With real carpets our dustbuster on a stick isn't going to cut it anymore. We are also going to have to rent a truck. I've moved a lot and usually just by piling my stuff into my car or van. Even for the move from Maine to British Colubia - I only needed a small trailer behind the Nissan 240SX. But the volume of stuff has just surpassed what we'll be able to do ourselves with our van.

My passport arrived with Beth - USA passport in my correct name. That renewal required docmentation for 2 name changes - a marriage, divorce, marriage. Now that I have THAT - I need to get the kids paperwork filled our for their USA certificates of birth abroad so that they have the choice to live/work in either country when they are older. Another item on the to-do list.

It's winter now

Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Melissa shows off an ice-encrusted leaf. Temperatures have dropped below freezing and snow is expected tomorrow with freezing temperatures through the weekend. I think we'll be post-poning that zoo trip we had planned tomorrow. The kids aren't that upset though - they are just excited about the prospect of SNOW!

Playground trip with Auntie Beth

With Auntie Beth
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Beth took the older M's to a playground today while Allan and I (with the twins) went off for our co-op appointment.