Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kilt-ic Twins

This past Sunday Rachel wore a kilt to church. This is a kilt my parents bought for me, in Scotland, the year I was six.
I also wore a kilt. This is a kilt I bought in Scotland on our honeymoon.
Rachel and I enjoyed being kilt-ic twins and I was excited to see a favourite piece of my childhood return.

My kilt is a blackwatch plaid and Rachel's is the Anderson tartan.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Week 13: Someone I've Always Wanted To Meet

About fifteen years ago, my friend Alissa e-mailed me and asked if I'd like to be a part of a women's group. At the time we were all women who were, whether by choice or not, single and had been pursuing unusual lifestyles. Lifestyles that didn't lend themselves well to permanent relationships. Alissa was studying to be a pastor, I had just returned from my human rights observation work in the Middle East, three of the women were volunteering or working overseas -- let's just say none of us were settling down anytime soon.

Eventually there were about seven of us who started e-mailing back and forth about once a month. For the past fifteen years I've been sending e-mails to Jodi (who's been in Arizona and Winnipeg, Manitoba), to Esther (who's been in Africa and Pittsburgh), to Carmen (who's been in South America and Chicago), to Alissa (who's been in the US and Canada), and to Susan (who's been in Hong Kong and Ontario).
Alissa, Susan, and I at my wedding.

We call ourselves "SOS" which stands for "Sisterhood Of the Scattered" and even though we are now all in North America, it is still hard to meet up. Some of us are now married, although I am the only one who has kids.

We haven't sent as many e-mails to each other lately, which makes me sad, but we are still connected. So Esther (in Pittsburgh), Carmen (in Chicago), and Jodi (in Winnipeg, Manitoba), after writing to each other for almost fifteen years now, I really want to meet you someday.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Towels Were Flying!

We went to our last Blue Jays game of the season on Saturday. It was Fan Appreciation Weekend and the Jays had just made the playoffs (due to some mathematical improbabilities of some other teams' schedules), so the atmosphere was like a big party. Plus they handed out rally towels to all 50,000 fans.
Even Sam, who is normally a low key fan, was into the rally towels!
It was an exciting game with a score of 5-0 Jays, thanks to two home runs, after the first. Surprisingly, Tampa Bay rallied a little, and the final score was 10-8 for the Jays. It was such a fun game.
You can't really see it in this picture, but the entire stadium was white with rally towels madly flying! It was such a cool sight to see.
After the game, we slowly made our way out of the traffic madness, and headed to IKEA for supper. The kids were hoping to have their first adventures in Smaland, but sadly, it was filled to capacity. So instead they burned off all their extra energy by running madly through the store, which wasn't at all annoying.
One thing we purchased were some cheap pillows because I had the idea to sew two rally towels together and make pillow covers. Some fans who weren't as into the whole rally towel idea even gave us some of their extras so now I can make three. Because if rally towels are so much fun, imagine the possibilities with rally pillows! Wheeeeee!!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Juggling Priorities

I realized last night that my main enemy is lack of enegry. (I think I may have whined about something similar before, but stick with me for a minute.) And specifically last night I was reminded of those weeks right after Sam was born.

I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed. I kept Sam alive. And Dave and I would get one thing done a day. One thing which wasn't taking care of Sam, that is. Sometimes it was folding a basket of laundry. Sometimes it was cleaning the bathroom. But for those first weeks, we were on a "one thing" schedule.

And I feel like I'm right back there. I am exhausted. I am slightly overwhelmed. The kids are the priority and they are fed, dressed, and (mostly) happy. Rachel has been sick this past week so missed a few days of school. Thankfully Dave and I have been able to juggle our work schedules and, I think, managed to stay on top of work things and sick Rachel.

However, after all the necessary things are done (dishes washed, laundry washed, and food prepared), then I usually have the energy for just one thing. Honestly, lately that one thing has been listening to the Blue Jays game on the radio. Dave and I sit in the office and hold our breaths, groan, and more often than not, celebrate uproariously, while simultaneously trying not to wake up the kids. I think the mindlessness of following the game is about all the mental stimulation I can handle these days.

I have also been making walking a priority (thank you FitBit) because I want to soak up our gorgeous weather while it lasts. Soon enough we will be buried in snow and the most walking I will do is the slow trudge of getting the kids to school and back.

Getting up early to get work done has been (mostly) successful, but the downside of my 5:30am wake up is that I'm exhausted by 8pm, which is about when the kids are (mostly) settled in bed. I haven't even been able to read a book in about a week. And for me, that is e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d.

The Blue Jays had an off night last night and I was able to catch up on some blog reading. I really have about fifteen draft blog posts sitting on Blogger, which I want to write, or finish. But I just don't have the energy to polish them. I'm hoping I'll find some time this weekend to get some good blogging in, but we have a full weekend, most of which I'm really looking forward to.

Until I get my blogging groove back, just hang with me, okay? I'm reminding myself that it only took about two months to get back in the swing of things after Sam was born, so I must be nearly there now.

Happy Weekend Everyone. See you on Monday. I hope :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tourists In Our Own Town

This past weekend was the annual "Doors Open" in our area. This is a day when places that you might not normally get to visit, open their doors and invite the public in. In the past we've gone to the airport, the police station, a mosque, Dave's work, and an apple orchard.

This year we were only able to check out one venue but it was a good one. We went to Playball Academy Canada which is an indoor baseball and softball facility. First we checked out the real-dirt bullpens and Dave tried out his pitching skills.
Sam loved the chance to get some batting action in.
These pictures of Rachel crack me up! I took about twenty pictures of her hitting and her tongue was out in Every. Single. One! Ha ha ha!!!
I even got in on the action for a swing or two.
We spent some time running the bases, and hitting some balls, on the full-sized infield. I think Rachel ran the bases about fifteen times while we were there.
Dave got to spend some time in the fastball batting cages. He did really well.
Then I captured some pictures of Dave and the kids playing on the infield again. Notice Rachel is still running the bases!
On Sunday we attempted to finish the tour of uptown, which I originally wanted to do for Mother's Day. We've enjoyed walking along a new paved trail which is not that far from our house and goes all the way past city centre. We saw some people playing polo. On bicycles.
The thing I've enjoyed about this tour is that it points out interesting architectural features on buildings I pass by all the time.

I especially liked the intentional decorative arches above the windows on these four buildings.
With three buildings left in our tour, we ran into a street festival, so instead of checking out the final spots, we took some time to dance a little and blow some enormous bubbles. It was a good time :)

And to bring things back around to where I started, if you're a Toronto Blue Jays fan, if you're a baseball fan, or if you're a Taylor Swift fan, then you need to check out the video which has been making me happy this week. I've only watched it about 47 times so you should check it out at least once!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sabbath Siblings

This past weekend was pretty low key. Our new Saturday morning routine is that Dave takes Sam to Religious School at the synagogue and then he takes Rachel to music. Every other Saturday he will also take her to Tot Shabbat. My role is to stay at home and have four glorious hours to myself! Yay! This past weekend I dealt with all the school forms which came home last week. Above are Sam and Rachel on their way out on Saturday morning.
Then we went to Dave's parents' house for supper on Saturday night. We had an pre-Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) celebration. All of us took turns blowing the shofar. We have videos but I won't share them with you. You're welcome :)
Rachel's intense expression is because she is actually getting a noise out of the shofar. It's really hard to blow it so I was really impressed.
I don't know what is happening here, but I had to post this picture because of the expression on my face!
Above are the kids on Sunday morning. Sam decided he was a gorilla, and as you can tell, he did a fairly good job of it! Ha ha ha!

So that was our weekend -- lots of pictures of the kids posing on our front steps, some shofar blowing, and a gorilla. I can't wait to see what this weekend brings!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Week 12: Someone I Miss

Ever since I saw this week, I knew who I was going to write about: my New Mom's Group in Edmonton. And if you don't want to click on the link and read all 98 posts I wrote about these awesome women and their kids, then I will tell you a bit about them here.

Dave and I moved to Edmonton and didn't really make a ton of friends. It's hard when you're new and good friendships take time to form. Then we had Sam, and Alberta Health Services offered a New Mom's Group to moms of kids, aged 6 weeks to 6 months. I couldn't join the group I wanted to as we were in Ontario for part of that summer, so I joined a group when Sam was 4 1/2 months old, in August 2009. We met on Tuesday afternoons for six weeks.

If you don't immediately recognize Sam, he's in the red top and navy pants
on the lower left hand side.
And then after that, a group of us kept meeting. After all, we were all parenting our first children, we had a year of maternity leave, and we liked each other. We kept calling ourselves the New Mom's Group because we were original like that.
We had playgroups at each others houses, we went to indoor play places, and we made Christmas gifts for the grandparents together. We celebrated Hallowe'en, Christmas, and threw all the kids a joint first birthday party after the last child had turned one.
And then slowly, we embarked on being working moms together. Five of us had flexible schedules and continued to meet on Tuesday mornings. And then Marcia and I started trading kids. Olivia and Sam spent a lot of time together and became the best of friends. In fact, they had their first kiss with each other, with Marcia and I looking on and dissolving at the cuteness.
These women were some of the first to know Dave and I were expecting our second child and they supported us while we mourned the loss of that baby. Then they celebrated our second pregnancy with us.
I barely remember Hallowe'en that year because I was so morning sick. But I made it through the rest of that pregnancy, in part because of these really good friends. In fact we joked that we were such good friends, we all got pregnant together!

We call this picture "March, June, July, August, September!"
By this time we were all aunties to each others kids and Auntie Sheri, Auntie Elena, Auntie Marcia, and Auntie Jenelle were some of the first to know that Rachel was a girl. In fact, I think Auntie Marcia was the first to know after Dave and I because she was watching Sam during our ultrasound and we couldn't resist showing her the super-pink pajamas we'd bought at Costco! And Auntie Elena and Auntie Marcia provided most of Rachel's wardrobe for the first six months of her life.
We embarked on the adventures of parenting two together. And the adventures of gymnastics, where Auntie Jenelle sewed the kids the absolutely cutest outfits. She even made them for the younger siblings. You can see Rachel modeling hers here! Some of us also did Kindermusik and swimming lessons together.
We had a much busier Hallowe'en party that third year! Ha! Christmas was also a little crazy :)

We found a fire station that would take us all in and give us a tour.
And we started having Mom's Nights to give us some sanity.

One of the things I hated the most about leaving Edmonton was leaving this group of women. The last big event we did together was a joint birthday party for Sam and Tevan. Tevan turned one the day before Sam turned three and Sheri and I decided rather than having everyone attend two birthday parties in a row, we'd just throw one!

We rented a room in the same building where we first met two and a half years before and celebrated at a firefighter themed party with a bouncy castle. The kids all played, the moms presented me with a photo book, and I cried.
And I still cry when I think of how much I miss these women and their kids. Since it's over 2000 miles from Edmonton to Waterloo, we haven't seen each other since we moved. We still keep in touch over Facebook but it's just not the same. Six years ago today (since it's a Tuesday), I would have headed out for the afternoon to one of the last (official) New Mom's groups not knowing that I was meeting with the people who would become some of my best friends. This year our older kids all started Grade 1. How have six years passed in a blink of an eye?