Friday, February 15, 2019

So long, sweet blog!

Dear friends and family - it's time for me to say farewell to my beloved parenting blog. I have written in this space for the past NINE years, and it has been such a source of joy for me to share my parenting adventures with my friends and family. I have loved being able to show my photos, tell stories and keep my precious memories all in one place. I have found however, that I just don't have the time to regularly write posts anymore, so I'm putting the blog to the side - for now. I want to say a huge thank you for all of the wonderful comments from  my readers. I have truly loved this form of communication and my deepest hope is that my boys will one day read it and appreciate it as well. So THANK YOU ALL!!

For now,  one last update from my little family.

Coral is turning into a lap cat!! She's still very skittish, but is slowly getting used to a level of affection!

Caleb turned 9 last month - his last year in single digits! He continues to amaze me each day with his sharp mind, contagious laughter and kind heart. He has earned a new nickname at school which he is incredibly proud of - Mr. Scientific!! He suits him perfectly. He loves Harry Potter, lego, building and designing new things and music, especially noodling around a recording tunes on his keyboard. He literally has spent 40 of the past 48 hours figuring out different versions of 'Crocodile Rock' by Elton John, which is apparently his teacher's favourite song! I tried a few times to turn his attention away from playing that song AGAIN, and asked him to make his Valentine cards for his class. He did a couple, then  went back to the keyboard. At bedtime, he realized he had only made 4 cards and felt terrible that he wasn't going to have cards for everyone the next morning. I thought this was a great learning opporuntity for him, so I said that he had procrastinated all day and now he'd have to wake up an  hour early to finish his cards while Odin and I slept in. It just so happened that Alan had to leave early for the airport the next morning, so he woke Caleb up at 6 and told him to get to work. Alan also started a fire for him before he left, so by the time I got up at 7, Caleb was stretched out in front of the fire, eating a muffin, the cat curled up beside him, looking very relaxed and happy. He had deeply enjoyed his quiet hour to himself and asked if he could do it again another day! So much for my harsh parenting lesson!!

Caleb's 9th bday part crew
Odin is still my strong-willed and stubborn, but so loving and cuddly little boy. He brings so much laughter to our home, and I am very proud of the adventorous person he's becoming.  He is also a hopeless romantic and is managing not one, but two marriages in his pre-primary class! He opened up to me one night before bed in what I hope was our first of many relationship talks. He first asked if you could be married to two people at once. I said no, then he was silent for a bit before saying that he is already married to Gabby but then Tempy also asked him to get married, but he didn't say yes or no. We talked about this a bit - I did encourage not jumping right into marriage at 4 with anyone, but he insisted he really wanted to be married and then he was silent again. I thought he was asleep until it all came out - he DID already say yes to Tempy, so he was already married to two people! It was obviously a real dilemma for him, so we chatted some more then he said - "It's ok, I'll just talk to them about it tomorrow at school - No worries!"  then fell asleep. He's apparently decided to keep both wives judging by the over the top amount of stickers both girls received on their Valentine's cards, while zero stickers were put on the cards for any other classmates!

The other reason I've been neglecting the blog lately is because our sponsored refugee family has arrived in Annapolis Royal! This has been one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life. Anna and her 4 children - Wendy, Kelvin, Philemon and Elsa have become a huge part of our lives. They are settling into their new life, new schools, new home, new community and new culture and they are slowly starting to believe that the winter will pass and the sun and leaves will come again! The boys, who have been part of our sponsorship efforts since the very first meeting 10 months ago, have fallen madly in love with all of the kids, especially Elsa who just turned one. She is so adorably beautiful, sweet and super chill, so the boys often carry her around and shower her with attention. I'm so happy this family has come into our lives and I have no doubt that this will be a lifelong friendship and meaningful relationship for the rest of our lives. I hope the boys have learned compassion, the power of community, kindness and an appreciation for all people and cultures around the world through this process.

Waiting for Anna's arrival at the airport

New friends

That's all for now, folks!

Thank you for the support and for sharing in the ups and downs of my parenting journey so far!! Can't wait to see where we are 9 years from now!

Lots of love to you all, Ashley

Thursday, September 6, 2018

FOUR! (And end of summer highlights!)

Happy 4th Birthday, Odie!
We once again ended our summer vacation with a bang - a backyard birthday bash for Odin that included 24 kids and 38 people in total! Odin had an extra special September the 1st. We hit the market in the morning for our mandatory Saturday pretzels from the German Baker, spent a few hours on rides at Upper Clements Park, went for multiple rides on Odin's new training wheel bike, and then celebrated all evening with friends. Yes, he slept very well that night!

My first attempt at a true birthday cake! A very flat and imperfect dinosaur that the kids all loved. I'll call this a success!
Caleb spent at least 1.5 hours before Odin's birthday working on decorations like this amazing sign. complete with a string of Os!

Diving into the main event!


Upper Clements Park Merry-Go-Round!
Train ride selfie!

Our last few weeks of summer have been equally action packed. We had Aly and Ava stay with us for a week to help me babysit the kids and we spent a weekend with family at Greg's fishing camp on the Miramichi. My favourite day was during a recent camping trip, where we played on the beach for hours while Caleb's set up a hermit crab sanctuary. We captured dozens of hermit crabs and provided them a selection of new shells. It was fascinating to watch the crabs check all the shells out before selecting a new one and being released back into the 'wild'!

Another amazing highlight was watching Alan play an afternoon outdoor show in Lunenburg last weekend. All summer we've kept a list of our top 10 summer fun goals, and one that we hadn't been able to cross off was finding a 4 leaf clover. I remembered finding them a lot as kids, so I thought once I actually started looking again, I'd find a few right away. This proved not to be the case, despite many attempts of sitting in clover patches over the past few months! Then- on Sunday afternoon during the show, Caleb sprinted over to me with a giant smile on his face - he had found a coveted 4 lead clover! He's still smiling about it a few days later! Wonderful way to end the summer!

Here are a few more photos and a birthday interview at the end!
Cousins in summer mode!

Best babysitters ever

Our annual 'Mom and Kids' camping trip had to be changed to a super sleepover at our place due to heavy rains....on the driest summer on record. Bad luck, but we turned it into epic times with an indoor tent! 
Fishing with Greggy

Canoe selfie. Odin also received his first stitches in August. He fell off his bed in the middle of the night and stood up and banged his head on his trunk. Tough times for a very tough little boy. He's healing up nicely. 

Feeling the summer vibes. 


Photo by Odin

Family shot on the Lunenburg waterfront

Second day of pre-primary and Grade 3! It's crazy to have both kids at the big school this year - and who is organized enough to get a photo on the first day of school!?! Not us this year! 
And now for an entertaining attempt at an interview with a newly minted 4 year old!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Summer Sampler

Water babies!!

It's August already, and I haven't posted in awhile...but I have lots of photos to share today! We've been having a great summer jampacked with family and friend adventures! Here are a few highlights!

Boys spend a week in Fredericton! My mom provided a great list of all the fun they had -

3 big bike rides
bonfire at Uncle Jay and Aunt Gale's
swims at Donna's pool and YMCA
Covered Bridge potato chip factory tour in Hartland
World's longest and shortest covered bridges
Linda's birthday party bbq
Huge water fight with neigbours (Aly came running to inform us that they've got big waterguns that aren't from the dollarstore! So it wasn't a very fair fight until the hose and buckets came out!)
Interviewed on the radio while at Mactaquac beach with the Gaudet family - Caleb is still so proud to be a 'celebrity'!
Wrote a song with Monica and Tanya (Roar like a Tiger)
Went canoeing at Eric's
Went to 3 different playgrounds
Wilmot Splash pad
Visited the camp in Mactaquac where Alan and I got married - and caught 2 sunfish
Library with Grampie John
Caleb went to cooking school at the Superstore and made a delicious strawberry themed menu!
Science East

Train bridge bike ride

Covered Bridge chips - choose your own seasoning - Odin opted for chocolate, raspberry and lobster- combined! He ate the whole bag!

We then followed that week up with a week-long staycation at home! We visited the Balancing Rock in Digby Neck, went camping for 2 nights in Dunroamin to celebrate Alan and my 10 year anniversary (!!), played a full game of Risk, had several swims and took in the Natal Day fireworks! Great family time, but now I need to go back to work to get some rest!!

On ferry to Long Island to visit Balancing  Rock
Balancing Rock!
Sunny in all her glory on a waterfront camp site!
Late nights...
....Followed by naps in the camper!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Family (and Joe) updates

I'm trying to keep up at least one blog post a month!! I do love writing it and especially love looking back through at the memories from time to time. I am terrible at printing photos, so this is my main way to store all of my images. I'm going to look into getting my blog printed as a memory book one of these days.

So, a lot has changed since my last post. Mainly - I started a new job!! I'm so excited to say that I'm now working in the private sector, with a truly amazing and forward thinking company called Perennia. I'll be working closely with the fishing industry to develop new seafood products and help reduce seafood waste, and help to grow the value of NS seafood exports. The best part? I get to work from home. Saying good bye to my cubicle felt so, so good - and what a luxury it is to have a much more flexible schedule and ownership over my projects. I can now attend class trips, work remotely from Fredericton at times, go for walks when I need a break and still feel super productive. I'm truly happy with this new arrangement.

All is well with the boys these days as well. Caleb is deep into the world of Mine Craft at the moment, but now that the weather is warming we are spending lots of time in the backyard and shooting hoops on our new basketball net. Odin's big personality continues to grow each day. He's a force to be reckoned with, but I wouldn't have it any other way. He is very crafty at trying to get what he wants and has the quick negotiation skills of a seasoned lawyer. He keeps us on our toes for sure.

Bad news about the three Joe's however. Two of them have recently died, as Odin's new obsession seems to be with death. He talks about it all the time, asking who we know that has died or what happens when we die. Do we just go flat? Do we come back? Thankfully, he has stopped wanting to talk about death each night right before bed, because it was getting a bit creepy! But, we still have one Joe and he is still very present in our lives. It seems that Odin uses him as a way to reference events or experiences that haven't actually happened so that he can feel included. For example, when eating or trying something new, he'll always say something like, Oh yes, I've had this before at Joe's. Or, yes, I did see that movie at Joe's house one time. Things like that. It's adorable and I'll be sad when the day comes that  our last remaining Joe is no longer part of our every day.

I thought it would be nice to end off with some photos of a game that my sister-in-law Mary, gave us for Christmas. None other than Pie Face, which has absolutely no strategy or purpose other than to watch people get whip cream thrown in their face. The boys think it is the best game of all time. Well, Caleb loves it at least. Odin won't go near it, but that's ok because he tried it once at Joe's!

Greggy going down!

Aly action shot

Caleb desperately hoping to get pie-faced!

And Mama Linda cuddling up with Odin after all the excitement! 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Spring is here!

Marsh 'walk' with some mama friends! 
We've made it through another winter! And in Annapolis Royal, at least, it was a *fairly* easy winter to get through. We had very little snow, which meant less shoveling, but also less sliding, skating other fun outdoor winter activities. We did get some snow last week, so I made sure to get the boys to the Fort for our one and only sliding adventure of the winter. We have lots of other updates (I know it's been awhile since I've written a post) - so here it goes!

Sliding with friends
Parent-teacher night - It was a 'Student Led' session, so Caleb showed Odin and I all of the work he's been doing this year. My favourite was a weekly gratitude journal where they have been writing 3 things they are thankful for sine the beginning of the school year. Caleb had things like family, playhouse, electric guitar, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, food and friends. 

In late February, Odin went to the IWK to have tubes put in both ears. This procedure has been a long time coming, with years of ear infections, ear drum ruptures and hearing troubles. Since his ears were not properly draining, the doctor told us it is like he has had earplugs in all this time. We were really happy to finally have this corrected, and thankfully everything went smoothly and we've already we have noticed a big change in his hearing. It's wonderful to hear 'What??' a few less times each day!

Recovering. The nurses were quite amused that once he work up from his anesthetic, he asked immediately for a popsicle - not his mom! Haha. Sounds just about right!
We had another very successful Easter Eggstravaganza Event in Annapolis Royal. I volunteered to help with the planning of the event, which includes hiding 10,000 eggs  at the Fort, followed by crafts, Zumba and other free events at our local gym. Caleb revised his volunteer role of stealthily hiding extra eggs near kids who not found many yet. I saw him at the very beginning of the hunt, and didn't spot him again until almost everyone had left the Fort grounds. His once full bookbag was finally empty of eggs and he proudly said that only one parent caught him in the act!

After our big day in AR, we headed to meet up with Alan in Halifax. He's been working hard for the past few weeks at our Bayside home - painting and doing small repairs. Our last tenants have moved on, and we are switching from a long term rental property to a Air BNB/ Vacation rental. Its an exciting move for us, and hopefully with a beautiful oceanfront home on the route to Peggy's Cove, this will be a successful business model for us. It's been fun spending time again in Bayside. The boys love having a woods to explore and a bonfire pit in the backyard, and the view is truly spectacular. The house will be ready for bookings next week!!

Easter morning egg hunt in Bayside!

Forest bathing in our backyard woods

Following an evening bonfire, we were delighted to watch a full moon rise over the water in front of the house!!

Family visit to Peggy's Cove