It seems like much has happened over the months since I last wrote. Here are a few things that stand out, in no particular order:
- We survived a really busy winter - our busiest yet. The kids were involved in so many things: piano; swimming; dance (jazz and hip hop for Lizzie, and hip hop for the boys); our Learning Centre Tuesdays; choir; art; gym class; math tutoring; a sports club that involved Seth and Lizzie doing cross country running, track and field, and ultimate frisbe; electric guitar for Matthew; and so on. We committed every Thursday, this winter, to the kids attending a small, very unique, Christian school that caters towards newcomers to Canada (mostly children from various parts of Africa); the school offers homeschoolers an opportunity, one day/week, to participate in various programming and, in this way, the kids got involved in some very unique stuff (including Matthew taking a crazy-good weekly art class with a renowned local artist). It was a very, very busy year. In spring, as things finally began to wrap up for the year, I resolved never to plan such a busy year again...the only problem with this resolve is that, as I plan next fall now, it seems as if next year won't/can't be any different! Sigh.
- My mom spent over seven months in the hospital, beginning at the end of November. We thought we were going to lose her around the end of February, when she had a major medical incident and ended up spending ten days in the ICU with a ventilator down her throat; but she amazed us by rallying; she then went through a few months of rehab and came home just a few weeks ago (with assistance). That certainly shaped many things over the course of our winter, including our general level of busy-ness. And it's hard seeing a loved one in the the hospital, in the care of people who don't know her or really care about her well-being. And it's hard seeing one's other parent, my dad, having to adjust to life's curve balls and be there for his wife of 55+ years. The health care system leaves so much to be desired...and yet, I remain thankful that this same system enabled her to come home again.
- My brother-in-law was also recently in the hospital as a result of a serious injury, but thankfully he is recovering and is home with his family. We need this guy around, and love him, and I'm so thankful that he is still with us.
- In December, we did a family trip to Orlando. Just the five of us. We were badly in need of time together, as it had been a super busy fall with lots of adjustments. We didn't really care where we ended up traveling to (other than having a need for somewhere warm) and we ended up getting a great deal to travel to Florida for 8 days. We spent a day at Disney, and another day at a big water park, but beyond that, we spent most of our time at the pool and puttering around Orlando and eating at a vegetarian buffet called Sweet Tomatoes...yum. It was good to get away.
Here we are at Disney World towards the end of a blistering hot day. We were all completely
done in by the heat and humidity at this point. Shortly after this picture,
Matthew threw up...pretty sure he had heat stroke!
- Lizzie got eye glasses!
- Towards the end of February, our beloved dogs turned 2 and 1 year old. They are the best dogs in the universe, there's no doubt. Here's a picture of their joint celebration:
Charlie (2) Finn (1)
- Speaking of birthdays, Matthew celebrated a significant one this year. He turned 13 in spring, and we now have a teenager in the house! It's an odd thing, and I can't believe that the baby we waited so long for is now a teenager! He's an awesome kid, that oldest child of mind, and we love him so much. In a way, it feels like we have three teens in the house, as all three have started puberty and there are hormones flying all over the place. :) It's certainly an interesting time, but I am looking forward to getting to know my kids in a whole new way as they go through this big life change. Anyway, we are now officially a teenager home, and I'm so proud of my boy for hitting this milestone so well.
- All three of my kids completed a year of hip hop dance (Lizzie also did jazz dance). The boys weren't terribly enthused about doing hip hop, but I really wanted them to experience one year of dance, just to have the experience. I told them that they'd never have to take a dance class again! Well the year finished, and they even participated in the final recital, with 300+ people watching in the theatre audience. Between you and me, the boys were pretty terrible during the performance (which was not a big surprise), and Geoff and I sat in the audience with hands covering our mouths (whether in horror or in prayer, I'm not sure)...but they did it and we were very proud (and relieved that it was over!).
Lizzie in her jazz attire: Seth & Lizzie were in the same hip hop class
Matthew's hip hop costume
- In June, we celebrated six years together as a family, marking Seth's and Lizzie's entrance into our family. We celebrated in a way that the kids LOVE: by eating ribs! Once before we'd been to a restaurant that specializes in ribs, and we all ate off of the same platter of food; and we decided that it was an awesome way to celebrate this occasion. We are forever blessed to be a family.
Matthew (13); Lizzie (9); Seth (11)
- Matthew cut his long hair! A few months ago, we took about six inches off of it because it was getting to an unhealthy stage; and then, about six weeks ago, he decided to take the plunge and cut it all off. Lots of people have asked him why did did it after growing it long for over four years. Basically it was a combination of two factors: First, he was having a hard time feeling motivated enough to take care of it well, and with summer time coming at the cottage, he knew that hair care wouldn't be a priority; second, he's been increasingly interested in using power tools and we were worried that he might sometime forget to put his hair into a ponytail. So that clinched it...and here is how he looks:
- Matthew broke two bones in his right arm on New Year's Day. The kids were tobogganing and he was flying over a jump...and landed badly. We ended up in Emerg that evening, and it turns out he broke his collar bone and had a crush fracture in his upper arm. That's the first broken bone(s) amongst the kids! Although it was painful and inconvenient, Matthew wasn't very sorry to have to cancel swimming lessons and piano practice for the next two+ months while he healed!
- I lost a friend...not because of death, but because she renounced our friendship, and did so publicly at the beginning of 2017. In all of my years, this has never happened to me and it was an incredibly hurtful experience. We'd walked a lot of miles together in the twelve years we were friends; we spent a lot of time together over the course of those years and my kids, who knew her very well and who were used to seeing her very regularly, have also had to deal with the sudden loss of her presence in their lives, and the grief and confusion that resulted from her actions. I still have her Christmas gifts in my closet. Anyway, it was a big and a hard thing and I'm still quietly grieving it, to a degree. But I'm at peace with it. I have moved on.
- I had my first root canal and crown installation. And if you're wondering why my teeth made the list of significant things to happen over the course of the winter, it's because I've always had perfect, no-problem teeth. Never braces, no cavities until a couple when I was in my twenties. And then in November, something happened and I was in agony for a week while a terrible infection took over the entire left half of my head. I couldn't do anything but sit upright and moan! Eventually, after two rounds of heavy-duty antibiotics and just in time for our Florida trip, the infection subsided and all seemed to be well...for about four months. Then, on Good Friday, everything re-activated when one of my teeth broke and I had to go in for emergency dental care on Easter weekend. The following 2-3 weeks were rather nasty as we tried to figure out what was wrong, and then eventually, a root canal was completed, a crown (made by a 3D printer) installed, and all was finally well.
This was my view for a whole lot of hours this winter,
as the dentist and I tried to figure out what was going on. :(
- A few months ago, we made a decision to leave our church. It was a big decision, because we've been there for almost 12 years and our kids have grown up there, and because we had no issue whatsoever with the leadership or any of the programming or the message that the church spoke to. No issues whatsoever. The only reason we decided to move on is the lack of connectedness that our kids were experiencing, year after year. We tried so hard, periodically, to help our kids connect with other kids; and nothing 'worked.' It's a large church, and the people who attend tend to be a little 'mobile'/transitory and so kids often weren't in attendance regularly, making it one reason that our kids had a hard time connecting. And Matthew needed a weekly youth group opportunity, whereas our church offered something occasionally. All in all, after contemplating this for over two years, we made the decision. We took a month or two off, and have now started attending elsewhere, but we know, too, that the summer months will see us at the cottage many weekends, and so our dedication to finding a church home will likely resume in earnest in September. I still feel a little sad about this decision, but with Matthew being 13, and the other kids growing up fast, too, it's really necessary that we encourage solid friendships within the church community.
- All three kids were involved in our Learning Centre's steam-punk production of Hamlet at the end of April. The Learning Centre that we are part of has an annual tradition of putting on a Shakespeare production, and this year was no different. It is a whole lot of work, from January through April, but the kids learn so much and have so much fun...and it is such a unique opportunity for them. These shows are unbelievably professional, and the kids are all simply amazing! We were glad when it was all done, but it was a great experience.
- In other big news, we bought a cottage a few months ago! Specifically, we bought my parents' cottage. That is where I'm writing this blog post from right now. It was a big deal, deciding that this is what we wanted to do, especially because the opportunity came up rather quickly, when my parents decided that it was time to sell. We had to consider our finances, the longevity of such a purchase, the age of the kids, and whether or not it would interest us to spend a lot of time at the cottage in lieu of other things - such as travel. In the end, we decided to go for it. We thought it would be a great attachment enhancer for our kids, and we already knew that they loved coming here. We spent a number of weekends here in early spring, cleaning things out (and there's still a ways to go in this department) and I've spent all but a day of the past two weeks here with the kids. We've also enjoyed a bunch of visitors to the cottage, which has been fun. The kids have been canoeing, kayaking, visiting islands, building fires and roasting marshmallows, jumping off the dock a gazillion times, swimming morning/noon/night, staying up too late to watch movies, peering through the telescope at various things in the sky and around the lake, riding their bikes, going for walks, lounging on hammocks, reading books, doing puzzles, playing games, learning card games, running with the dogs, and just enjoying life at a slower-than-usual pace. They (read: Seth) sometimes get bored, but this is a delightful thing for me because I enjoy watching the kids in do-nothing mode and also finding creative things to do out of their boredom! It's been great so far! Here are a few snaps:
Early morning, standing on the deck of the cottage and looking out at the mist and glassy lake:
Geoff with the boat out. Matthew is in the boat with Geoff; Seth and
my niece are in the tube, getting ready to 'hit it.' Charlie is on the dock supervising!
Seth...aka Cool Dude (Matthew photo bombing in the background)
Matthew in good cheer
Matthew and his beloved cousin
Seth catapulting off of the deck...with dogs at full attention!
Matthew kayaking with Charlie who is, surprisingly given her size and breed,
becoming something of a water/boat dog!
Geoff and Matt taking their turn off the end of the dock.
And that's a wrap!
It feels like there should be so much more to say, to encapsulate the winter, but that's all that immediately comes to mind. While I don't think I'll get back to writing as regularly as I used to, I do hope to be here much more often than I have been in the past year. So join me, as always, in rambling about daily life, faith, adoption, homeschooling, and whatever else catches our fancy. I'm looking forward to it!