I’m still here…

I know, I know.  I did that thing where I got so far behind in writing that I just didn’t know how to start again.  I think the last time I really meant to write was when Bo turned 15 months.  And now he’s more than 16 months…

So, I’m here.  I’m ok.  We’re taking some vacation time this week and hanging out at the farm so I’m hoping to get a bit of alone time (haha, ya right!) to catch up on some writing.  But for now, here is brief status update:

  • Bo is finally walking!  He took his first real steps a couple of weeks ago and just this week, he’s finally realized that walking is faster/better than crawling.  Good timing, because it’s damn hot here and I couldn’t put him in shorts when he was crawling because his poor knees were getting all butchered.
  • Summer is so much better than winter.  We are spending tons of time outside and, when I’m on my own with the kids, we’re all so much happier when we aren’t stuck indoors.
  • We bought a bouncy castle.  It’s just a small basic one but the boys love it.  Money well spent!
  • Work has been a bit rough lately.  I have a challenging employee (who was hired for me when I was on maternity leave).  I’ve been trying so hard to be open-minded but it’s getting really hard.

I’m feeling like our vacation couldn’t have come at a better time.  I know I’ve only been back at work for four months, but I was definitely starting to burn out.  I’m hoping a nice break, with time spent out of the city with my guys, will help refresh me.  Now I’m going to crack open my eReader and enjoy a few moments of silence by the pool before the baby awakes and the other boys return from their work in the field.  The only company I have right now are these girls – and I’m pretty sure they’re too busy chomping on the grass to bother with me! 

   

The family vacation, part one

I love going on vacation. I hate packing and unpacking but I love arriving at a new (or previously visited and loved) destination. I like exploring and getting settled into a new location. And I especially love visiting a warmer climate during the cold winter months.

Vacationing with kids is a whole different ballgame, though. No sleeping in and sipping cocktails here!

We arrived in Orlando after a very early wake-up and long morning. The flight was quick and painless but the airport experiences on either end we’re trying.

When we finally got our rental car and installed the car seats, we hit the road for the 90 minute drive to our friends’ beach condo.

Neither are car sleepers, but both boys conked out from total exhaustion.

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We grocery shopped, unloaded, ate dinner, settled in and passed out. The next morning, feeling refreshed, we awoke to a beautiful sunrise.

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We took a morning walk on the beach and explored the property. We played outside. We wore sandals (no winter boots!) And, the coolest thing of all? We went to the beach to watch rocket launch from Cape Canaveral.

While D and I both admit that this isn’t the type of vacation that we are used to, and it certainly isn’t relaxing, there is something amazing about watching the pure joy in your children as they experience a new place. Littleman is having the time of his life. He loves the beach with his whole heart. He can’t believe we’re letting him wear shorts.

So, yes, vacationing with kids is not the same as vacationing as a couple. There is definitely more work involved. But so far it is worth it.

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The flock is heading south

When I was a kid, I always pestered my parents to take us to Florida.  Growing up in Canada, vacations in the south were a treat.  My family was a skiing family, though, so our holidays were always spent in cold climates.  I would see my classmates return from Florida with golden tans and stories about Disney, and I’d be so jealous.

As an adult, I’ve taken many amazing tropical vacations.  I’ve been to Australia, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and Jamaica.  But one place I’ve still never been is Florida. And it turns out my husband is the only other Canadian who hasn’t been there.

So, when we were offered the opportunity to use our friends’ Florida condo for free, we jumped at the chance. What better way to end my maternity leave than escaping winter for a week of fun with my boys?

We’ve (sadly) decided to forego Disney this time around. The cost is something that we just couldn’t stomach after me not working for so long. Plus, Bo still needs his naps so we didn’t think we’d really get our money’s worth. It’s still something I really want to do in the future.

Instead, we’ll spend time on the beach and in the pool, or do some day trips. Of course, I will hit up the outlet mall, although I probably won’t be buying much given the value of the Canadian dollar these days. I will definitely visit Target, though, since we won’t be able to do that here anymore!

Mainly, I’m just excited for some time together as a family. Life has been so busy and I know it’s going to get even worse in the coming weeks. Oh, and I’m excited to get away from all this snow!

Peace on earth…

…or at least there’s peace in my living room right now.  Our Christmas was lovely but it was anything but peaceful.  Six adults, a preschooler and two nine-month-old babies made for a pretty rowdy Christmas morning.  We woke up and opened presents at the farm with my family.  Then, D and I rushed around to clean ourselves up and get the kids ready, whip up some mashed potatoes and drive an hour and a half back to the city to have Christmas dinner with his family.  A long afternoon of gift-opening (they open gifts one at a time, oldest to youngest, can you imagine?!) followed by dinner, and then we were back in the car driving up to the farm again so we can spend the rest of the holidays out of the city.

So ya, not peaceful.

But right now, at this very moment, I am alone.  The other adults are out for a walk and the three kids are napping.  The sun is setting over the neighbouring cornfield.  No toys are making noises.  There is a turkey in the oven for tonight’s dinner (since we didn’t get to have “Christmas dinner” with my family yesterday) and it smells divine.

I will enjoy this small window of peace before the gang returns and the children awake.  And then I will enjoy the rowdiness, too.  Because, for us, that’s what Christmas is all about.

Peaceful or rowdy, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

Out of town (and out of our minds!)

Oh dear me. I’m currently lying in the semi-dark in a hotel room. My three-year-old is in the other bed with my husband and WON’T STOP TALKING. My baby is in a hotel-issued playpen (shudder – so gross – at least I brought a clean sheet!) tossing and turning. I’m drinking wine.

Why are we doing this, you ask? We decided to bring the boys to visit my mother-in-law. She lives in another province and is not very mobile. My husband isn’t close with her (she’s had some issues) but we felt it was important to introduce Bo to her.

We flew here this morning, which went pretty well. Littleman was very excited about the plane ride and looked super-cute carrying his own backpack. After the flight, he got to go into the cockpit to meet the pilots. Lucky!

My MIL’s apartment is not suitable for guests so we find ourselves in this current predicament. I figured getting the boys to sleep would be tough but now I’m questioning our sanity. I have a feeling this is going to be a long night.

We have a couple of crazy days ahead of us but luckily this is just a short visit.

And now, since we can’t risk turning on and light or the TV, I will sit back with my wine and catch up on my blog reading.

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Summer’s end

I love summer.  I always have.  It’s hands-down, my favourite time of year

I love the heat.  Going outside without having to think about whether or not you’re wearing enough layers.  Not even bringing a sweater with you.

And then there are the sounds.  That buzz from some insect that fills the air on those hot July days.  People mowing their lawns.

The smell of rain on hot concrete.

I know that summer isn’t officially over for another couple of weeks, but it makes me sad to think that fall will be here soon to remind us that summer’s evil stepsister, winter, is on her way.

I feel a bit guilty, though, because a teeny tiny part of me is a bit relieved that it’s September.

Don’t get me wrong, my summer was awesome.  Summer is my favourite time during maternity leave.  I love putting my baby in the stroller and heading out for walks.  I love sitting on patios with a coffee or gelato.  I love the fact that we got to spend lots of time at the farm this summer because I wasn’t working.

But I’ve also discovered that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

We spent the past week at the farm with my family.  My sister was there with her husband and six-month-old daughter.  My parents were there. D and Littleman and Bo and I were there.  That’s a lot of people and a lot of time together.  If you had asked me a year ago how my family would handle a week together like that, I would have told you that my sister and I would probably be butting heads by the end of the week.  I never would have thought that the people butting heads would be my mom and I.

But, wow, did we ever have a tough week.  My mom and I spend a lot of time together, so maybe that was the problem.  Maybe we had gone for too many walks, too much shopping, too many lunches and too many weekends at the farm this summer, that a whole week was just the breaking point for us.  It makes me sad because I love my mom and I love spending time with her.  I need her help and I appreciate that she’s willing to provide it.  I value the time we spend together.  So, that made it extra-hard when she would snap at me or barely speak to me throughout the week.  At one point, I seriously considered asking D to take me home, but I was really enjoying the time with my sister and didn’t want to miss out on that.

By the end of the week, things had settled down a bit with my mom and we were able to make it through the rest of our vacation.  But, by that point, Littleman was hitting the end of his rope with respect to being away from his normal routine.  We did tons of fun stuff with him throughout the week (swimming, campfire, s’mores, putting up a flagpole, painting a fence) but by the end of the week I started to notice that he was acting out whenever we weren’t doing something fun.  I knew it was time to get back to real life.

So, yes, I love summer.  I love it a lot.  But its final days kicked my ass.  I’m ready to get back to a regular routine where my kids go to bed a decent time, we eat less junk food and I see my parents for shorter stretches.  I’m ready.