Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Over here please
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Michael, Melissa and Maddy went trick or treating with "Auntie Len" while Megan and Maribeth stayed home to help Daddy eat the candy,err - hand out the candy. ;)

Check this out

Maddy was a "fairy princess ballerina" (the twins followed her example)

See my haul!

Melissa scorned the planned puppy costume to be "the angel of the Lord", which morphed into the "Angel of Liberty" and back.

Angel of Liberty

Michael was thrilled for his turn to be "Hobbes" in the fleece tiger costume! Even though the temperature was down to 3C this evening - he didn't need a coat!


Where was Mommy? In English class, but at least I found out I got an A on my midterm.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Five Dressed to the Nines

Ready for an evening on the town - My mother gave Michael what amounts to a mini-Tux. He's not going to fit it for very long, but while it does fit him, he looks very handsome: 'specially when standing next to Melissa in her flower girl's dress from my sister-in-law's wedding. You'd think they were going to the symphony or something.

Ain't it grand! - Actually, these pictures give me the heebie-jeebies. I'm thinking, if they look good now, what am I going to be up against when they're teens and getting their photos taken for Prom night, or something like that?

Cha-cha-cha! - My step-mother gave Madeleine, Megan, and Maribeth matching dresses and we've been waiting for a chance to dress 'em up to show them off. We took 'em to church this weekend with their dresses to show 'em off to their grandmother. All three were too wiggly to sit, so we took them out to the hall for some pictures and they just wouldn't stop dancing.

Four out of five aini't bad - When we got home we herded the M's onto the couch for some pictures before they messed up their clothes. The problem with any photo-shoot with all five is that getting them to all look at the camera at the same time is like herding cats.

Between Takes #1 - I kept shooting even between tries, and got a few interesting shots like this one below.

Happy M's all in a row - I think this shot is the closest we got to all five looking more or less in the same direction.

That's a wrap! - We pretty much decided to call it quits after this parting shot.

Madeleine Turns Five

Playing catch-up here. Maddy's birthday was October 22 - one week ago. She had a really great day; Cheryl did a really big build-up, with a Pink Princess themed day. Madeleine just ate it up. All of her sibs liked the girly pink thing, except the boy, but he was told in so many words to play nice or he could sit the day out.

Cheryl putting up the streamers

Birthday balloons

Feathered pens, kewl!!!!

Later on that day we went over to my mother's place as she had a gift for Madeleine too. To her credit, Maddy was a perfect little lady and behaved herself very well at Granny's house.

A couple of days after Maddy's birthday a package arrived from my sister in Toronto. After Madeleine got the wrapping off, she was really on Cloud 9.

The Pink Princess

I don't know how long Cheryl is going to keep it up with the themed birthday parties, but I'm really wondering how she's going to top herself when the twins birthday rolls around next February.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Maddy is crowned "princess"

See my wand?
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Maddy's birthday gift from her Auntie Gail came today and now we have a very happy "pink barbie princess" twirling around our house!! Thank you Auntie Gail!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hollyburn Mountain - a dissenting voice

Cheryl writes:

It was the perfect day for a hike; beautiful fall weather; sunny, but not hot; crisp, but not cold; and gorgeous fall foliage. This was the kind of day that Allan and I remember lamenting being stuck inside for school, work, or church. So beautiful, so perfect a day for hiking, that we decided to skip church and take our 5 M's for a hike. Destination: Hollyburn Mountain.

For the most part, the M's were happy to be outside but there was ONE exception. Much to the frustration of everyone else in the family, instead of scrambling up the powerline trail from the parking lot, Melissa sulked, whined, and pouted her way up.

"I don't like this."

"I did NOT want to go hiking."

"Can't you just leave me at home?"

While still in sight of our van, "Can we turn around yet?"

Our other children were enjoying themselves.

To quote Maddy, "This has all the beautiful mountain things that I needed."

The happier the rest of us were, the more sullen Melissa became. Just as we were about to turn off the powerline trail onto the Hollyburn trail, she said something that left me speechless and wondering if she was switched at birth.

"I HATE this. I wish I was in SCHOOL. I wish I could go to school and be inside ALL the time."

For all the days I have spent stuck inside, wishing to be free to be outside, my child was hiking outside on a beautiful, perfect fall day, and wishing she was sitting at her desk in school. It was a cruel irony of life. It will be another 4 or 5 years until Melissa is old enough to be left home while we go hiking.

As the trail wound upwards through incredible mountain meadows, bushes aflame with fall color, Melissa realized that whining wasn't working and decided to try a new adventure ending tactic

"Golden Ears. Golden Ears. Golden Ears," she muttered under her breath as she walked.

"MELISSA!" I said to her; indignant that she would attempt to call down rain on our perfect fall hike.

"Well, I WANT It to RAIN so we can go home," glared the Baboo, the very picture of slouching, pre-teenish unhappiness.

"Do you actually think that we will go home if it rains?" I asked her.

"Umm-hmmm", she said; still glaring at us.

"But, Melissa, we brought our RAINCOATS!" Michael interjected excitedly.

"I didn't," said Melissa.

"Oh but I did!" I said. "And if it rains then we will just hike in the rain and have a rainy day adventure."

"It will just rain on all of YOU!" said Melissa; mad that I had her raincoat. "It will not rain on me because I have my pink water bottle."

The complete lack of logic in that statement had Michael and Maddy in stitches.

We were,however, pleased to note, that the rain-making properties of the term "Golden Ears" does not extend to our offspring and we were able to have a wonderful hike. Melissa's disposition improved dramatically once we got to the top of the mountain. She even got to feed some gray jays out of her hand.

But still; what child of ours prefers to be in school than to hiking on a perfect fall day????

Hollyburn Mountain

After a wet and gray week, Cheryl and I were cheered by the weekend forecast: sunshine Saturday and Sunday. We planned straightaway to not waste the sun and dry days. An adventure, the destination of which was left up to me, was planned and the kids packed off to bed (after reading chapter 3 of "The Voyage of the Dawntreader" to them of course).

I packed our lunches. I made up separate baggies of goldfish crackers and home made GORP: raisins, chipits, and smarties. We had to go without the peanuts because of Maddy's allergies. I made up some PBJ's, packed one apple for everyone, one nutrigrain bar each, and filled up our waterbottles. Everyone had a bottle for themselves and I filled four 1 litre nalgene bottles in reserve.

The next day started out with a very thick blanket of fog. We only live about 20 minutes from the ocean, so this is typical. We packed up the van, drove up the hill on 176th St and found ourselves in golden morning sunshine. Forty-five minutes after leaving our driveway, we were at the trailhead of my chosen destination for the day: Hollyburn Mountain.

According to my battered copy of 103 Hikes in Southwestern BC, I last did this hike in September of '92. Fourteen years since my boots touched this trail. That was a little much to swallow. My printing on the margin also noted that I was stung by a wasp. It was the first time I had ever been stung by a bee or wasp. I remember thinking, "Oh great. What a time to find out I'm allergic." Thankfully nothing happened.

Alpine Autumn - above. Melissa headed up the trail - below.

In the middle distance is North Vancouver. Just beyond you can see Belcarra on Indian Arm. Beyond is Burnaby Mountain and SFU. The far distance is the Fraser Valley and the U.S.

The trail gets steeper.

We passed a number of these little alpine ponds - like jewels in the mountain crowns.

It got pretty steep in places, but it still wasn't as strenuous as Mt. Seymour last summer.

The Three Amigos. Extra points if you can identify which is which.

Maribeth, "Care for a green smartie?"

Megan, "Thank-you. Don't mind if I do."

Melissa feeding the gray jays. At first I tried to tell 'em NOT to encourage the jays. They're also known as "Camp Robbers" for their aggressive theivery. I eventually gave up. It's pretty cool having one land on your hand to eat the goldfish cracker or raisin or chipit you're holding out for it.

Megan is very silly. She did this spontaneously - without any prompting at all.

We had a good time, didn't we?  Madeleine and Cheryl (and Maribeth in the backpack) silhouetted at the top of the powerline road, just before it plunges back down to the trailhead and parking lot.  In the distance, far across a sea of clouds blanketing the Straight of Georgia, is Vancouver Island and behind it the peaks of Washington's Olympic Peninsula.  Yeah, we had fun.

You can see the rest of the photos in this set by going to this link: Hollyburn Mountain.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Wagon ho!

Wagon ho!
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.

Within a 48 hour span we've switched to completely new child-carrying devices. The double stroller, maddeningly past warranty, literally snapped in half on Thursday as I was pushing it loaded with the twins and groceries. Allan points out that it was a light-weight stroller and NOT meant to have the basket stuffed with groceries and have more groceries hanging off the handles. Then the green wagon has been dealing with front axle failure, so that wasn't a good backup option. It was only kind of usable and not good for really loading up. We stuck it out by the road with a free sign and it was gone overnight.

The first purchase (not pictured) was a single stroller from a consignment store on Thursday. Allan has attached the Buggy-board to it and now I basically have a "sit and stand" type of contraption for the twins. They can take turns riding in the stroller, on the buggy-board, or just walking.

But the big find was on Craiglist yesterday: listed as a kid's chuck wagon. It had been used for a paper route and is in excellent condition. It has real pneumatic wheels, a pad in the bottom for comfort, and a removeable rain/sun canopy. There is room for twins plus sand toys or groceries, or for the twins and Maddy. To be honest, if I had found this first, I might not have bought the single stroller. Hopefully this is the end of the road for new strollers and/or wagons. The kids just love the new wagon.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Maribeth potty-training update

Posted on behalf of Cheryl

First day in panties all day: she only had ONE accident and it was my fault really as I was on the phone and could NOT take her when she needed to go and then she didn't make it; even being out of the house much of the day. She tells me when she has to go but then I also am having her go before we leave the house anymore. I'm taking spare clothes with me everywhere in a wetbag just in CASE of an accident!

Maddy is having fits though because she decides she has to go too anytime Maribeth tells me she has to go. Maddy gets mad about waiting for Maribeth OR having to walk UPSTAIRS or DOWNSTAIRS (to whatever floor we aren't on) to use the 2nd bathroom. Of course since DH and I grew up in houses with one bathroom when we were young AND since Michael and Melissa remember having only one bathroom, Maddy is NOT getting a lot of sympathy from anyone about either waiting for her younger sister or (gasp) walking to the other bathroom. She has had a couple of accidents after deciding that she would NOT walk upstairs to the potty and if I wouldn't let her go downstairs before Maribeth, she wouldn't go potty AT ALL. THAT didn't work out so well for her. I shouldn't laugh but, "If I can't pee first - i won't pee at all", is just NOT a stand to take.

That saidm Maddy herself hasn't even been potty trained a year yet. She potty trained in November/December last year and still had accidents even through this spring. Megan shows no interest yet, but Maribeth is sure trying.

"I'm a big girl - I wear my panties."

"I went pee in potty. MEGGY - you need to go potty."

"Mama - change BABY'S diaper: Megan poopy."

Megan reacts to be called a "baby" by saying "gaa gaa, goo goo" in affected baby talk. Still, I'm hoping twin power will work eventually.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

Quick update here on all of us.

Me: In school 2 nights a week and finding it a bit of an effort to get used to college again. I'm studying after the kids go to bed most nights and any other free time I can find in my day. I got my first English assignment back with an A- and my first political science paper got a B+. Which isn't too bad considering I've been out of school completely since Dec 1997. I also had a sinus infection for several weeks but am currently on antibiotics and that's getting better. I did quit the community orchestra because I felt that I would not be able to practice enough with the kids and school work. I'm also on our co-op's board of directors; can't get out of that one.

Allan: The company he works for was sold to an American company based out of Ohio. It looks as though the new owners are planning to keep the Canadian office open. Breathing a sigh of relief that he still has a job, for now anyway. Allan is currently at a conference, so he won't be around for a few days. His dad will be watching the kids for my classes tonight and tomorrow night. So pray for Grandpa because this is the longest he will have had all the M's for; however, I came up with no other babysitting options and simply can't miss those classes. Allan also has been diagnosed with moderately severe sleep apnea and is being referred to a sleep clinic. In addition, his tests have turned up high blood pressure and pre-diabetes high blood sugar. So his health is a concern as well.

Melissa: Doing incredibly well in school and happy as a clam in the classroom setting. She is now reading way, WAY above her grade level. She's into full-length chapter books now and reads several hours a day. Her teacher sent home a form where the parents are to fill out their 2nd graders reading time and sign off on it. I had to laugh because Melissa put in 90 minutes of her weekly 2 hour minimum in just the first day that form came home! I'll likely not attempt to document all of her reading time though.

Michael: Also doing very well in school both academically and socially. He completes all his work at school, so doesn't bring homework home yet. He's really enjoying having PE and learning sports as well as playtime with other boys at recess. A group of them are doing a digging project in the sand pit at recess and lunch. He's reading probably on a 3rd grade level from what I can determine. He's able to read things like Magic school bus, Berenstein Bears, and Little Golden books. He only needs help on only a few words here and there. He is still reading out loud though and is not yet willing to try books with no pictures. He also has grown a LOT and is half a head taller than Melissa.

Maddy: Maddy is loving afternoon kindergarten but she struggling with learning how to write her letters. I spend more time working with her a day than the other two put together. She IS trying though. She has always been behind with motorskills. It is helping some to use paper with raised top and bottom lines. She IS starting to be able to sound out some words. I'm working with her at home using Phonics Pathways, sandpaper letters (for the writing part as well), and Bob books.

Megan and Maribeth: The twins are growing like weeds. Megan is up to Maddy's shoulders and in size 3-4. Maribeth in size 2-3, but is so skinny that pants which are long enough for her legs fall right off unless she has a bulky cloth diaper underneath; but those days are numbered. The girls are talking a LOT now, but are so calm and laid back compared to my older three. For the three hours a day that I have just the twins life is so CALM and quiet and they are fun little people.

The big news is that Maribeth is starting to potty train!! She is so tiny that size 2 panties barely stay on her. She has been dry in the morning two nights in a row and been asking to use the potty throughout the day (but I have to actually take her). Yesterday she was dry until I was preparing supper and than had another accident during supper. She got put into a pull-up and is still in the same pull-up as she was dry this morning as well and has been using the potty this morning. I'm getting the feeling that it's not going to be very long until I have only one in diapers (I've had at least two children in diapers since Michael was born in September 2000 and three in diapers for a total of almost three years!). Megan has NO interest in the potty and does not even tell me if she is wet or poopy.

The older three M's are all taking swimming lessons at the YMCA on Sunday mornings and loving them! Having five mobile non-swimmers was starting to scare me, so we are doing swimming instead of soccer or dance this year and possibly next.