Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I'm not sure I can stand all this excitement

Part 1 - And The Caravan Rolls On - Long frustrating weekend with our van needing to be jumped to start going down to not running at all even with being jumped. We finally gave up and Allan had it towed to (kills me to say this) the dodge dealership. Where we paid as much for their time to diagnose the problem as we did to fix it. A simple dead battery. Which I'll point out WAS what I SAID IT WAS and certain other males who frequent this house did not think so - going instead for more complicated theory's involving starters etc.

This has happened before with me and cars. Repeatedly. I should probably go take a class on auto repair - then people might listen to me better than this typical exchange:

Me - "It's the battery."

Family member - "How do you know it's the battery? Have you even looked in the engine?"

Me - "Well - no - I haven't looked in the engine - I just can tell it's the battery from the sound it makes when it does that thing when you try to start it and it doesn't do that other thing...."

Eyes roll and I'm ignored as usual.

This dates all the way back to when my old Buick died on me.

"The Buick is dead".

"But you drove it here - we'll take it to the shop - it can probaby be fixed."

"No it can't, it barely made it here - it's not repairable."

"So you are a mechanic now??? We need to take it to a mechanic."

"I'm telling you - it's doing a death rattle sound. The sound that happens before they tell you that it's not worth fixing and you'll be lucky if you can drive it to a junkyard".

"You don't know anything, you can't just declare a car dead, we're taking it to a mechanic..."

A $500 mechanic bill later, "Sorry - but this car is dead/unrepairable/ you'll have to get it towed to a junkyard".

That at least wasn't Allan that time. I'll just skip on to other things about right here.

Part 2 - Bite Me - The twins are teething and chewing on thing and anyONE within reach. All of us have at least one blue/black bruise mark from a twin chomp. Some of which have broken skin. Do not let body parts get close to those mouths right now! They also have bit each other. It's very obvious they are cutting more teeth - so we are hoping that once the teeth break the surface - the biting will become less frequent.

Megan making a silly face

Part 3 - We're fine. Really. - Michael ran a fever much of the weekend. We deceptively drugged Michael with children's motrin and went to Creekside anyway to show off the twins. This because the Pastor's wife there had sent the twins new sumemr outfits and we thought she should get to see them in them! It was nice to see people again but we came away knowing for sure we are at the right place in terms of church. Our children put up with it because "it's just for one week and we are only visiting but we like Grandpa's church better".

Maddy had her haircut on Sunday. I cut it myself. Not too bad considering she kept whipping her head around with no warning. Allan says she looks like Susie Derkins from Calvin and Hobbes. No photos yet. The weekends been too rough for photos.

Part 4 - Highlights from Monday at home - (This is the part about the "excitement". Thanks for hanging on for this long.) The kids locked us out of our room twice this evening. We couldn't find the key so Allan had to climb out the twins window and around through our window to unlock it. We may have to get a new doorknob.

- Maribeth likes to climb onto the kitchen counters and into the kitchen sink and get into untold mischeif

- lots of writing on walls

- twins ate quite a few tips off of markers

- 4 rolls of TP in one day/Maddy letting twins in/shutting twins into bathrooms. Need I say more about that? It'll be a miracle if the twins don't get sick from their upclose toilet water experience.

- The kids thought of a new game. It's called - "take mommy's keys off the hook and hide them somewhere in the house and see how long it takes her to find them". Allan just moved the key hooks into the office.


- Michael making breakfast. It involved large amounts of cream cheese, butter and cheese slices.

- Older kids letting babies out in front of the house where I caught them about to attempt to stick things into the outside electrical outlets.

- Maribeth knows how to remove the outlet covers AND she likes to plug and unplug different things - despite repeating disiplinary attempts.

- Megan has learned how to undress herself. She thinks this is very funny. Unfortunately so do Michael, Maddy and Maribeth. Megan also learned how to say "cheese" today. But not for the camera - for cheese - the food. This is notable only in that so far she is the first child to say "cheese" for the FOOD cheese before learning to say "cheese" for a camera.

Wow - they are standing STILL

- Melissa is making leaps in learning to read. Which is good. There seems to be an inverse relationship with how much progress she makes and how much I work with her. Her jump in reading ability seems to be due to hours spent pouring over Daddy's Calvin and Hobbes collection. (which she left out too many times and now is mostly in shreds).

- there's more but I"ve mercifully blocked it out for now.

More as it happens.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Sisters sipping straws

Chocolate milkshakes - YUM Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

The twins really enjoyed sharing my chocolate milkshake after supper tonight. Later on Megan blew bubbles through the straw then pointed to them and said "dat BUBBLES!"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Haikus while waiting

Sherpa user is offline
Yet you are not here
Still I wait and go insane

Sticky is the floor
children are cranky
One parent is not enough

Peace is elusive
Serenity gone
who can abide in this mess?

Pee is on the floor
Naked are the bums
Diapers would be quite useful

What a difference a year makes!

August 2004 - what a difference a year makes!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Our 5 M's - August 2004. I can't believe how much they all have changed in "only" one year!!

Sept 2004

I've survived 18.5 months with twins, including having "5 under 5" and "5 - 5 and under." Life is just as busy now as it was a year ago - only the challenges are different. I get my sleep in longer stretches now.

I'm not getting that much more sleep overall though. After the kids go to bed - I end up staying up for hours just to get everything done around the house, practice cello and catch up online.

My awake time is much busier now with two active twin toddlers, a preschooler as well as attempting to homeschool Melissa and Michael.

Long gone are the days of letting the kids watch CBC kids all morning while I nursed and napped with the twins. TV time is now carefully regulated and the TV cabinet remains locked most of the time now.

Gone are the days of getting to be online for hours a day guilt-free because I was nursing twins who wouldn't eat around noise or distractions. I've gradually dropped many online forums entirely and greatly scaled back both reading and posting on the forums I'm still active on.

It's an exciting time though - the twins are growing and changing so fast. Every day they learn something new, say something new. It's inspiring to watch their enthusiasm about the world around them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A day of firsts!

Melissa had her first filling at the dentist today. They have been watching this spot on her back molar for a couple of years now. Today Dr. H suggested that we should get it done now - so they went ahead and did it. She did WONDERFULLY! It helped that they had cartoons for her to watch during the procedure! I am so proud of her! I have never had to have a filling - so I can't relate at all. Plus Melissa was on her own for it as I was having my teeth cleaned in the next room and Allan had the care of the younger M's elsewhere.

Michael did not get in trouble for anything he did today. That's a rare occurance around here! Now he DID get in trouble this morning for having got the watermelon bowl out of the fridge and eating it in his BED in the middle of the night. But today he was cheeful, helpful and even took it upon himself to organize all the shoes in the coat closet near the front door!

Maddy - I am sorry to report - drew on the wall and pooped in her underwear for the first time in several weeks. BUT she did help with cleaning up the first time she was asked one time today! (That's practically a first!)

Megan went POTTY! Yes - you heard it right - MEGAN went potty. At supper I asked Maddy if she had to go to the potty. Maddy said no. But Megan said, "Ay - yah - pee pee."

I asked her, "Megan do you need to go pee in the potty?"

Megan said again, "Yes - PEE PEE," more insistently.

I took her down from the table and carted her upstairs to set her on the little potty seat on the big potty. She grinned and sat and said, "pee pee, pee pee!" And then she WENT pee pee!!!

M1, M2 and M3 had followed us to the bathroom and they found this hysterically funny.

"A baby on the potty - a baby going pee on the potty!!!"

Maribeth was jealous of the attention. She tried to push Megan off the toilet - saying, "GET DOWN!"

Megan said, "NO. pee pee."

Maribeth glared and pushed Megan again. Megan pushed back this time and said, "GO 'WAY ... pee pee."

I decided to just put Maribeth into the tub as both girls were in need of a bath anyway. As soon as she was undressed and in the tub - Maribeth promptly went pee pee herself - while Megan commented, "pee pee baby," again. Quite the show!

Melissa wanted to get a picture but by the time she had the camera figured out - both twins were in the tub.

Maribeth also had a first for the day - BOOTS!! I stopped at Value Village to find some legging/tights for bicyling and found the cutest little pair of blue rain boots in just Maribeth's size! We have handed down rain boots of course and a new pair from L.L. Bean - but all were at least 2 or more sizes too big for our Bitty-Beth.

Maribeth tried her best to get them on in her carseat the whole way home. When we got home - she tromped around in them for quite some time. It was completely adorable! Reassuring to me too as so far the only shoes Mini-Beth has kept on her feet have been Robeez. Everything else comes straight off.

Megan was jealous of the boots so we hauled out the bigger pair of new yellow rain boots. Megan liked to hold them but once they were on her feet - she pulled them off with great protestations and then put her own pink sandles back on saying, "Shoes, dis SHOES," with great satisfaction. Already I can see who we are going to have problems getting to dress in weather appropriate clothing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cold feet on homeschooling

I posted this on a couple of non-homeschooling parenting message boards that I'm on today.

We walked the public school today. I talked to the people in the office about what the hours are, when school the school year runs, when you register (for next year registration starts Jan 06 - you can enroll anytime if they have space in the class - the funding is set in advance - so if you live in the area and register in Jan - you are guaranteed a spot). I had already talked to several parents here in the co-op whose children attend this public school. Those kids are are well behaved and modestly dressed adn their parents had only good things to say about the school.

I think I'm going to be registering Michael and Melissa NEXT year for 1st and 2nd grade (not this school year). I had a really good feeling about the school - seemed like a really nice building, nice staff. Not run down or anything.

They said I could register them now - but we already registered for homeschooling and have all the books. Plus it's too far to walk to pick up Michael from K and THEN Melissa from 1st grade. We would be walking all day practically!

Plus Melissa IS going out east for my sister in laws wedding for 2 weeks in Sept/Oct. Then my parents are spending their vacation here in Nov and want to take the kids to do fun stuff. But I'm thinking I still may register her mid-year if I can't improve on how I'm doing with getting homeschooling actually DONE.

Honestly - with the twins and Maddy - I don't feel like I"m really getting much done for homeschool. We do something every day but not even every subject every week so far. We did homeschool K for her last year but the twins napped a LOT more and Maddy was still napping. So I had more time with her. Now they are down to 1 nap a day of only about 90 min and when they are up they are into EVERYTHING.

Plus I think if I'm working with the older ones - my younger ones aren't getting the attention and the twins having been preemies - I think I need to do developmental stuff with them more. Plus Maddy is slightly behind and has been all a long just not enough to qualify for anything. Plus Melissa is REALLY social and I think once other kids in our neighborhood are in school - she's just going to go nuts here at home.

I already am so overwhelmed that I wish I hadn't already officially registered them for homeschool but now that we have dh really wants me to stick it out the year and reassess for next year.

I feel horribly guilty for even thinking this because our church is so strong on Christian schooling but we could NOT afford it at all plus it's quite a drive from us and dh takes the van to work most days so I don't even know how we would get them to the Christian school.

There is a "Traditional school" within walking distance so I"ll be checking there too about their program and how to get in ect. I THINK it's a public school but not sure.

Plus my parents are huge, HUGE homeschooling supporters of the mindset of "public schools are evil". They regularly forward me all sorts of articles about drugs in public schools and other scary stuff. But ALL public schools can't be like that are there? And all kids at public schools can't be like that? I know my personal public school experiences were all postive.

I think I want to TRY it and if it doesn't work out - I can always pull them out to homeschool again. I also realize that my feelings on this may change between now and next year or even now and next semester.

So anyone have anything positive to say about public schools? Or have any thoughts about it? I'm also on homeschooling boards and I don't DARE post this there - they will all tell me I'm doing fine - I really do want another persepective.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Allan hates my hair

Allan hates my hair
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

He helped me cut it, but between the two of us it got shorter and shorter and shorter. Then I added more bangs before dyeing it.

Now, rather than use my "usual" haircolor, I picked up an on sale color that seemed like it would be a bit darker. Well it turned out a LOT darker - almost BLACK! Of course leaving it on too long might have had something to do with that.

Allan doesn't like it. I'm surprised at the fact he actually is quite upset about this. My hair has gone through many changes and usually he's been o.k. with it, but me with black hair has thrown him for a bit of a loop.

Now to leave it - or try and get it fixed professionally - that IS the question?

Dinner Cruise

We survived a dinner cruise on a motor yacht WITH all 5 M's! Usually the company Allan works for has a BBQ and/or picnic in the summer but this year they decided to have a dinner cruise around Vancouver instead!

Having not had the foresight to bring life jackets OR toddler harnesses - I almost went mental trying to keep tabs on our active crew aboard a 3 level boat with things like open windows and decks with just cables around them and plenty of room for M's to hang out over or under and scare me to death climbing up on.

The twins were not generally impressed with the situation. They certainly were not appreciative of the nice table settings and were frustrated by attempts at walking on a boat: though their unsteadiness was quite comical. They got downright cranky about being confined to being held in one's arms or their backpacks.

Melissa, Michael and Maddy enjoyed the fancy table settings, and used their good table manners as well. At least most of the time!

The older M's had a wonderful time and were upset when the boat ride was over.

It was a perfect day to be out on the water and the ever changing views of Vancouver and the harbour were spectacular. The route we took was pretty simple: we went from the marina at the Plaza of Nations in False Creek, out into English Bay, around Prospect Point, into Coal Harbour, into the inner harbour at the R.V.Y.C., and back again. On our way we saw a very wide variety of watercraft - rowing dinghies, dragon boats, sea kayaks, water taxis, the new aquabuses that let you take bicycles, small sailboats, multi-million dollar super sailing yachts, fishing boats, huge container ships, and every kind of motor-boat imaginable.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Culture Shock

For the past 10 months - we have been attending the Filipino SDA church. This was because our children really wanted to go to "Grandpa's church". They love running around with the other children, going to potluck after church every week, going to the many Filipino parties and singing in the children's choir.

We've been welcomed there - our children have taken to it like ducks to water. Allan for the most part seems to get alone reasonably well and be able to make conversation. Even though he claims not to speak Tagalog or the other dialects - he spent his first 3 years in the Philippines surrounded by them. Consequently - he does understand quite a bit. Not everything - but enough to usually get the general idea. People will talk to him in dialect and he'll answer in English. He was also brought up attending Filipino gatherings - so is more or less used to things.

For me on the other hand - I'm STILL in culture shock. I though PGR (a gospel choir, mostly from the Caribbean, we used to belong to) was a culture shock - and it did prepare me to be one the few white people around. But it's even more strange being the only one who doesn't speak the language or usually the only FEMALE who doesn't speak the language! For some reason the women seem to speak in dialect more than the men do. Maybe it is that the men are more in the public workforce and need to speak more English? Or maybe it is that women just talk more than men in general. But I frequently feel completely out of it - even after 10 months. It's not that people MEAN to be rude - in fact it's awkward for them also to have me there. They catch themselves speaking in dialect and then look embarrassed and then will say, "oh we were talking about ____," to me in English.

I'm embarrassed to admit that after 10 months I still can't tell them all apart yet. I don't know everyone's names. I don't know how to connect on a deeper level. Especially when I'm NOT in the Sabbath school lesson studies - I'm in with the children every week. But as Allan points out - I was in with the children back at Creekside and at Open Door before that. I'm also an introvert and a very shy person IRL. I like things planned and scheduled in advance and for things to proceed in an orderly and calm fashion. Now that is the OPPOSITE of how things happen at Filipino church. We rarely know in advance when there are going to be church meetings, practices, or church picnics.

Often someone just says, "oh for vespers we are all going to the park."

"What time?" I might ask and get, "Ohhhh, I don't know, maybe suppertime?" Which means a supper PICNIC even though that wasn't stated!!

Now it takes me a LONG time to get to know people and usually do better in small groups. In fact - for years big crowds of people gave me panic attacks with the noise, chaos, and confusion. To the point of just running in sheer terror out of sports areas, big conventions AND big, loud Filipino functions! Allan can attest that for the MOST part I'm doing much, much better! I'm lasting longer before I have to "GET OUT OF HERE NOW!" I'm also getting better at the small talk and until today it's been a long time since I've had a public panic attack.

Today combined a number of my fears: the "vespers/church picnic" was at Deas Island - which isn't an island at all but a peninsula on the Fraser River. The FAST MOVING DEEP Fraser river. The chosen picnic location was right on the bank near that deep, swift river and located conveniently between the bathrooms and the park garbage cans. As usual there was lots of food, chicken, fruit, corn on the cob, and juice. What was not usual were the hordes of WASPS! Wasps the insects - I was the only human WASP in attendance! Melissa is allergic to bee stings and I realized I had NOT brought either Benadryl or the Epipen. So between social anxiety, paranoia about the proximity of the river to our active M's, and then the wasps that kept LANDING on the myself, the twins and Melissa - I lost it. Panic attack, and ALLAN WE ARE LEAVING!!!! I have GOT to get us out of here. Allan managed to gulp down a plate of food in record time before helping me load the kids back up into the van.

White Rock pier
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

We redeemed the evening by stopping at White Rock beach on our way home. A walk on the beach, playing tag with the M's, throwing rocks into the water and watching the sunset did wonders for our collective well being. (Melissa had been every bit as freaked out as I was over the wasps swarming around).

Maddy at dusk
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

I still need to find some way to connect though - to break the cultural barrier and really get to know some of these other church members beyond polite chit-chat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Baby bee and the flower Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

On Sunday - we heading for the airconditioning at IKEA.

Maddy got to stay and play in Smaland with Michael and Melissa for the first time as she's is potty trained now! We picked up her wall lamp (the potty training reward and "baby bee" is VERY happy with her new glowing flower lamp!

We enjoyed an hour of shopping with just the twins for company. We also picked up a couple of inexpensive wall clocks as we are working on teaching Melissa and Michael to tell time. So no more "but I didn't know it was almost bedtime!" Melissa is unimpressed.

I'm thankful today is finally cooler than the past few days have been!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Fall is coming

One morning last week, I opened our front door and as soon as I stepped out of it I knew something had changed. The air was fresh in a way that was hard to describe, yet very familiar.

I encountered the same sensations again, but in the evening, at the end of sailing class. The sun was not lingering like it had, and the evening breeze was a little more chill than before.

Then this morning I looked out our kitchen window and saw the first leaves on the maples across the way had turned red.

Autumn is on its way.

Maple Flame - as seen from our kitchen windows
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

Thursday, August 11, 2005

18 months, 11 days

Twins in new dresses
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Megan and Maribeth in new dresses.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sale on Sandals

Megan's feet outgrew all her shoes over Saturday night. On Sabbath, they fit. On Sunday morning, they didn't. So I headed out to Walmart Sunday evening in search of somthing to tide Megan over until she grows into the footwear I have saved in their "grow-to" box. Note that the twins are now the age Maddy was when I got pregnant with them. However, Maddy's feet were bigger! So we have a gap in shoe sizes.

I was thrilled to find that Walmart employees were marking down sandals that very evening to clear them out for back to school shoes; though finding the right sizes was quite a challenge! Megan and Maribeth got Dr. Scholl's pink sandals in a size 5. A bit big for Maribeth now - but her growth spurt usually happens a couple weeks after Megan's. Maddy also got similar Dr Scholl's walking sandals in a size 10 (again a touch big, but she's wearing them anyway). For Melissa - I found a nice pair of size 12 church sandals as she is outgrowing her size 10's. Michael got a pair of holographic flip flops for $2.

When I got them home to the kids the reactions went like this ..

Megan: "Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!" - while walking around gleefully in new sandals that fit.

Maribeth: "NO! NO! NO!" - while sitting down to remove the offensive footwear.

Maddy: "I love my new sandals! Thank you for buying these new sandles for ME!"

Michael: "But I already HAVE sandals"

Melissa: "Oooohhh pretty! Are these for the wedding or do I get another pair? .. Did you bring me anything else?"

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Where the Silliness Comes From

The kids get their silly genes from the parent with a pack on his head
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Almost at the end of the trail - kids too tired to pack their packs.

Melissa says "Mommy PLEASE can I take a picture of you guys??"

She's got the eye for capturing the silliness on camera!

The Dusty Trail

The Lower Falls from the upper viewpoint
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl

We hit the trail at 3:16pm and got back around 6:30pm.

Golden Ears Provincial Park. Gold Creek - Lower Falls trail.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Highschool girl quiz anyone?

This one strikes me as very high school-ish in the questions and it's been a LONG time since high school - but I'm getting into these online quizzes.

I have to offer my usual protest: I am NOT an artist!

People view you as a Loner Artist. Loner Artist are exactly as their title says, loners and artist. Now you are not alone by choice but many people find you odd. This only bothers you when you're in a public place like a dance club or a crowded lunch-room so you tend to steer clear of those places. You might have a friend or two but they're either Loner Artists like you or Truly Dark. Fear not! So many artists are not appreciated in their own times!

What Do People Truly See You As?


Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

quiet .. dark .. alone .. waiting .. watching .. listening .. relaxing .. tired .. peaceful .. nightlights in the dark.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy.

Over the past 2 days we have:

- painted all the trim on our townhouse
- washed and then painted our fences
- dug out the dead rhododendron root balls and planted new plants
- cleaned out and organized our garage

- Allan worked on the kids' bikes. Melissa and Michael are moving up to bigger bikes (but don't have training wheels yet!). Maddy will be moving onto Michael's old bike. The rusty bikes, Melissa's old pink bike and Maddy's old tricycle have been pronouced "dead", had parts that might be useful for repairs removed and have been disposed of.

- Helped the kids clean and declutter their rooms
- Sorted through all the kids clothes in dressers AND off-season and too small / too big boxes. Donated several huge bags of stuff as well as toss a bunch of stuff
- sorted through boxes of files/papers older than 7 years and shredded/recycled a bunch of stuff and kept a few important things.
- Allan's done a ton of small around the house fix-it projects
- I've done the usual laundry/dishes/house cleaning
- I stopped for groceries AND produce and got more peaches and blueberries processed and frozen!
- Monday morning was the 1st day of VBS - all 5 kids attending with me helping lead out the preschool group
- We prepared crafts for the next 2 days of VBS
- Did our MS Money entries and monthly budgeting. Good thing too because the next couple weeks looking really slim due to all our Home Depot runs!

My parents phoned mid-afternoon to let me know they were back from the reunion. I attempted to explain all we were in the midst of - my mother's comment "You must not be so anemic anymore". I hadn't thought about it - but I think she is right. My energy level is definately higher than it has been in a long, LONG time. I guess getting back on my iron supplements and multi-vitamins actually worked! So does getting sleep. The twins cut a few teeth through last week and have actually SLEPT through the night several nights in a row. A welcome change from waking and fussing every hour or two!