Sunday, November 25, 2012

Family time.... Decisions, Decorating and Dollars

October was a rough month! House insurance, truck insurance, truck needing repairs, vet bills.... and on and on it went! GACK!

So Nick has been pulling overtime this November like nobody's business, just trying to make sure we don't fall behind. I've been on a strict budget, buying nothing but the essentials... Mrs. Freakin' Frugle! Uggh!

And of course Christmas is coming, Ruby's Birthday, Nick's Birthday, and the new year which means paying for more extra curricular activities... which means more $$$$$$$.

After tallying it all up I'm paying $480 per month for preschool, gymnastics and swim lessons. SHEESH! I make sure to do as many 'free' things as possible like the library or Strongstart. But HOLY COW! These kids are expensive!

I've always wanted three kids, I still want three kids. I have NO desire to be pregnant again any time soon. In fact I am enjoying rediscovering some freedom and my thinning waist. So Nick made the "Executive Decision' to go in for the big 'V.' aka 'Snippy, snippy.'

I thought it was a bit premature myself but then I tallied up the monthly expenses and have realized that the quality of life I'd like for my children would be diminished if we keep adding to our brood. It does not however curb the bittersweet sadness that I'm feeling as tomorrow's procedure approaches. I am sad that I didn't slow down and enjoy the kids more,as babies.

With Ruby I was too afraid to enjoy her because I wanted to make sure everything I did was, 'right.' And with Elias we had so much additional emotional trauma happening, the uncertainties made it impossible.

And so I am sad. In the thick of it one feels as if it will go on forever, bleary eyed and just surviving through each day. And then just as suddenly it's all behind you. Not 'over' as the children are simply in another chapter of growing, but the baby/toddler days flew by far too quickly. The snuggly, delicate, 'can't be put down '~ 'don't WANT to put you down my angel'~ days I wish I could relive. But alas I cannot, so I am learning to enjoy each and every minute. To let the laundry sit another hour while I read books, or colour or paint, or play with trains and cars. I learn not to care that I make the beds only to have people follow me from each room wrestling and flattening my freshly fluffed pillows.

I am encouraging the wearing of the Christmas Tree skirt as an 'invisibility cloak,' and trying not to sound exasperated when my Ruby girl asks for me to bring down the Party Lite Christmas Church one more time so she can peak at the candle inside... Life is GOOD! It is rolling along too quickly and costing more money than we thought we'd ever spend! Nick jokes that I spend it faster than he makes it ~ which isn't far from the truth these days!

So we find fun 'free' things to do. Like exploring the Lazo Marsh and feeding the wild birds by hand. Or standing out in the cool weather watching the Christmas Parade.

Can't wait for her 3rd birthday. She picked out the invitations and handed some out to friends at preschool. We went to the dollar store and found some great crafts and gift bag stuffings for the party. Nana Brenda brought up a 'Bear' cake pan, which sits up just like a panda bear. I'm thinking I'll ice it like a 'Care Bear.' Only a few more weeks until her school 'concert.' And then Santa! Slowly getting the house decorated, the ages of the children now only add to this magical time of year. Here are some photos!
Outside the Library

Reading the library books at home ~ clothing is optional there.

Gettin' ready to play outside!

UBER cuteness at Ruby's Diner!

Playing with her favourite cherry tree.

Wonderful plastic top hat!

Bollywood Princess!

Cousins sleepover!

My late night solo dinner while Nick was away


Frosty is mesmerizing!


Lazo Marsh

Look closely at Ruby's hand

First Courtenay Christmas Parade!

First Candy Cane! ... This was the best pic I could get


This Time Last Year...

This time last year was actually quite a dark time in our lives. I haven't thought about it in a while, so much light and love surrounds us now that it is easy to forget.

We were told about the inevitable move to Comox in October of 2009 shortly before Ruby was born. In July of 2010 we were told to expect a letter from the Coast Guard detailing our move. The letter never came, but we held out hope. In December of 2010 Ruby turned one and we thought we'd be in Comox shortly so we got pregnant again with Elias in January 2011. But the letter never came, and never came.

I became distraught with an ever growing belly that we'd be stuck in Port McNeill in an already too small house with two kids, two cats, a dog ~ and a partridge in a pear tree! Still things got worse. My health deteriorated, I ended up with Gestational Diabetes and a toddler in tow. The letter finally came in June of 2011 but it did not state what I had hoped. Instead of saying we'd need to be moved with in 90 days like a 'usual' transfer letter stated, our letter stated we had 5 MONTHS before our reporting date.

I sobbed, Nick was gone away and my only tangeable saving grace was that my parents were visiting when I got the letter. And the stress began as we had to get the house ready for selling. My belly grew bigger, the summer got hotter, my health deteriorated along with my sanity. I was DESPARATE to get out of the 'too small' house and get closer to my family, my support network with my due date looming I spiraled into emotional distress.

I was nearly eight months pregnant, up on a ladder at 11pm at night painting the freakin' kitchen, "Toasted Almond," sobbing and trying not to huff in paint fumes. It was awful. The worst part was knowing that as the summer progressed and we had NO showings of the house, I would have to bring another baby home to that too small house, far away from the safety net of my family. It was almost too much to take. But I kept hoping that someone would come and want to buy the house. And then the verbal back and forth of moving our reporting dates added more uncertainty.

We brought Elias home on a beautiful late summer day. I am blessed to have such an easy going child, but then just about any baby could be considered more easy going than my Ruby girl!

Back and forth, the uncertainty of our reporting date held us in suspense. It was unbearable, but the letter we had, the only piece of paper we'd been given said we were to report to Comox December 13th 2011. That date was FAST approaching. I was trying to raise a toddler, a brand new baby, two cats, and a dog in a 2 bedroom house of 1058 square feet and keep it as immaculate as I could just 'incase' someone wanted to stop by for a viewing at the last minute. It was insanity.

And then the next letter came. Our reporting date had been pushed back to June of 2012. I couldn't breathe.

With my brand new son in my arms I couldn't breathe. I looked out the window, there were whitecaps on the waves. Looking into the greyness of the stormy sea and felt more despair than I had ever felt in my whole life. I couldn't even speak to my mother on the phone, all I did was pass it to Nick so he could explain.

Life was as bleak as it had ever been and I had to protect my two innocent babies from seeing Mummy be affected by the bleakness. I searched my soul. I clutched at my faith, I knew not what I should do.

At that very low point I think Nick silently understood that my psychy would never withstand another dreary winter on the north island. He suggested an extended visit to the south. But we pondered together what the logistics would be. And then as if by God's hand himself I had an ephiphany... My parents had an empty basement suite. Yes we retreated back to where it all began 10 years earlier. We'd first lived together there and would return. Some might say with our tails between our legs but I prefer not to look at it that way.

I feel like it was a tactical manouvre to retreat; collect our strength, rest our minds and nurish our souls within the protection of family before we embarked on a potentially frightening 'unknown.'

And so we packed up our truck. PACKED it to the rafters, kids, dog, basinette, stroller, baby swing, suitcases, xbox, computer, camping table, kids toys..... we hired a housesitter to look after the cats, who was herself in need of a place to stay while she sorted through her own 'unknowns'.  Down island we headed, back to where it all began.

We moved the double bed from my parent's upstairs guest room down to the suite, along with the tv from that room. My best friend gave me a crib/toddler bed she no longer needed for Ruby, as well as a futon for the living room couch. Elias slept in the bassinett. We'd brought our own kitchen table, made a make shift change table, and ran a line for the dog out the back. The second or third day we were there Nick and I headed downtown to Value Village and bought an entire 'kitchen' for $50. Cutlery, pots, pans, plates, mugs, cups, can opener, knives, cutting board, mixing bowls etc.

I know more than a few eyebrows were raised, as we'd moved from 1058 sq ft, to 750 sq ft. But it was worth it!

We arrived in the first week of November and stayed until the last week of January. We celebrated Ruby's 2nd birthday, Nick's 30th Birthday, Christmas, New Year's and my mother's birthday. Both myself and then Nick, came down with a terrible virus that made it look like we'd gargled with battery acid. Nick came down with pneumonia and was on antibiotics for a week. It was hell, but we were home with people we knew loved us and would look after us. Nick's mum Brenda brought us cooked meals. My sister took Ruby for a few days, my mother took Elias while I napped. With their help, I could forget for a while about what lay ahead.

We borrowed from my mother and set up a Christmas tree; making ornaments as craft projects with Ruby. We found all her presents from 'Santa' that year from a daycare which was closing out.

The new year came and we knew we would have to face reality. I remember Nick's step mother having to physically put me in the passenger side of the truck. I was dry heaving, sobbing, snotting and grasping for sanity. It was a very dark and scary time.

Once home, I had a renewed sense of optimism, I was going to sell my house or burn it to the ground! We started marriage counselling and simultaneously started advertising the house on facebook with serious vigor.

We arrived home on January 23 / 2012. I had friends graciously offer to host my family for an ENTIRE day while I held an open house on Feb 4. Only one couple came. And on February 8th they made an offer.

February 23 we made an offer on our house in Comox. We arrived back in Comox on March 23rd and got possession of the house April 2nd.

Life is an amazing ride! I wouldn't change any of it for the world!

Yin and must experience the darkness in order to appreciate the light. I am blessed.

"Sometimes lost in the current is where you need to be; to find direction when lost at sea." ~unknown

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Garden Pictures and Next Year's Plans/Projects

Shed, compost, wood pile... the blue tarp is hopefully arresting 'photosynthesis' and killing of the foliage so that I have a fresh new plot to put in my 'edible hedge.'

View from the middle of the yard looking east

Midday sun on a bright fall day!

The strawberries, never bore fruit but managed 3 shoots for new plants!

The raspberrie plot... never paid attention so it was a surprise for me that the leaves turned yellow before falling off. Lesson? Stop and smell the roses ~ or notice the beauty of fall before it passes you by!

Hard to see for the fallen leaves but this is our 'berry patch.'

The grafted apple tree.

Plum tree in the foreground, the white tarp has the mulched up ferns underneath it. Gave myself tendonitis for a whole WEEK using the machete. In the spring we'll bulk up the bed with fresh soil and add strawberry plants.

New grass!

3 Little maples gone! Plans for a trellis and grape vines!

Have to mend the fence but the plan is a chicken coop!

Along the house I'll espalier some fruit trees, the trellis had a rose but I dug it out and we'll put in a Hardy Kiwi tree.

Fun with Dad ~ Rakin' leaves!
(Holy CRAP she looks like my mother in this picture!)

"Hey Nick!" ... "You call me DAD." ...."Hey BABE!" ..."Noooo, you call me DAD." ....."Ok Nick."  
If you look closely you can actually see the exasperation in his expression! Tehehe!

This is a picture of the trellis I'm envisioning.... it will go along the south east neighbour's fence where the 3 small maple trees were just dug out. I had hoped for a pergola (which is this trellis just doubled width wise so you can walk through it) but I think it would shade the garden too much and cost is out of reach at this point. As it is I'd ideally like this model but 10 -12 ft high and to run 30 linear feet  (if Nick doesn't kill me) to provide a nice privacy screen from the neighbour's yard. We already have a large wisteria that will quickly take hold of a structure such as this, and we'll add grapes at the other end behind the plum tree. Only question is whether Ruby will leave any [grapes] for us to make wine with or will she eat them all?

Nick's project!!! Ok my idea but his project! ... We've always wanted to upgrade our hand-me-down resin patio table and chairs but even in the off season, 'end of stock' sale a nice 6 person set can run upwards of $400! And really how long do they last? Seat cushions to replace or like my poor parents a winter storm actually broke the glass. I'm not sure if it was already cracked or if a heavy branch fell on it but it smashed but good.  So I did some research and this, although it looks fancy schmancy is really a simple to moderate skill level, weekend project. With pressure treated wood and an all weather varnish it'll last practically forever! 

Nick has some other plans for a garden bench with an arbour, a potting table that doubles as an outdoor bar.... And eventually we'd LOVE to rebuild the gate by the shed. Best to start simple and work our way to some cool projects!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall Pictures

At the pumpkin patch in Shamrock Farms!

They have an AWESOME display of Halloween, with witch and cauldron, captured fairies, eye balls in jars, scary ghosts etc! It was an excellent show! And Ruby wasn't scared not even a bit!

For $.50 a cup you could feed the chickens... Ruby WAS afraid of them.

"Yes, a bottle of milk please, shaken ~ not stirred."

Watch out people!

Me and my kiddies!

Eli loved the animals!

And if given the chance would have ridden a chicken.

Helping pull the wagon!

Mini organic orchard apples ~ YUM!

Ruby's wall FINALLY painted pink!

Eli's black eye. He fell in the tub, split it open and there was blood EVERYWHERE. Massive Mummy freak out, trip to the ER but stitches were averted!

Mummy's mistake, Eli's fun.

My 'naked chef!'

Who needs toys when a Costco box will do?

Bathtime goomba!

....but is it legal to leave them while I go out?

Needing a cuddle 'cause he was snuffly, so he brought me Billy his Goat.

Halloween Preschool Party!

The GF Cupcakes I made!

My 'Yoda Towel Bandits'

Ruby's Halloween Costume... I scoffed at paying the $25 for it not realizing that it had fiber optics and lit up. In the end it was worth the money!

Our pumpkins!

Good use of Nick's drill!

Eli 'helping' me unload the dishwasher.