Summer Days

We’ve had an excellent start to our summer so far! Just before Jeremy’s last week of school, we slipped out to North Barriere Lake for a short vacation with his family. It was so beautiful there! We had a little cabin on a bluff overlooking the lake – what a sight to wake up to every morning!

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It was a bit cooler than expected, with cloudy days and mist-shrouded mountains. Beautiful!

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Our kids had a great time playing with their cousins!

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Roasting enormous marshmallows.

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Ha! I just had to include this photo of my dear husband smiling for the camera! I was taking a picture of him and he was just looking at me with the faintest crook to his lip. It couldn’t even be called a smile. “Oh come now!” I chided, “Can’t you smile a little bit more?” This picture makes me laugh out loud every time I see it! Why yes, he can! Such verve!

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My favourite part of the trip was kayaking on the lake one evening. The water was so calm, the light of the day was fading, and the mountains looked simply splendid. Along the shores little campfires were burning and everything looked so homey and beautiful.

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Family photo:

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We did get eaten badly by mosquitoes and no-seeums, but we won’t dwell on that little fact.

After Jeremy completed his school year (hurrah!), we packed up and skedaddled to the Fraser Valley. We borrowed my mom and dad’s motorhome and went camping at Rolley Lake for a while. (In my opinion, tents and babies just don’t belong in the same sentence.) It’s a beautiful place – there are so many impressive, tall trees in that neck of the woods! We walked around the lake, checked out the (unbearably crowded) beach, walked to some waterfalls . . .

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Jeremy is an excellent and efficient camper. He takes care of the fires, the camp stove, the arranging of the gear, etc. Here h’s teaching the kids how to properly start a fire:

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James started his own fire! Success! He was VERY pleased.

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Leo was quite grumpy during our stay at Barriere, but did much better at Rolley.

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Enjoying a visit with Opa and Oma!

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After our camping trip, I drove down to Camano Island to visit with a dear friend who was visiting from Australia! Megan is one of the kindest, sincerest and most enthusiastic people I know, and it was delightful to catch up with her.

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Leo and I then spent four days at the River House. It was so quiet, so peaceful, so relaxing! While I was there, the kids rambled, explored, and generally had a fabulous time at Grandpa and Grandma’s.

James (and Jeremy) went flying in a Cessna with his Uncle Anthony! It was, in his words, “amazing.”

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And now we’re home again, back to regular life . . .

Alice’s birthday . . .

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She loved going to the beach!

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Oh, just a little bit of lightning off in the distance! 🙂

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Leo = not a fan of having his toes dipped in Okanagan Lake!

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That’s it for today! Hope your summer is off to a lovely beginning as well! Tot ziens!

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Alice’s 3rd Birthday

Our little Alice Genevieve turned three yesterday! She is a sweet, happy little girl who brings so much joy to our lives! Alice and I went to Mass together in the morning and then we went to splash park with some friends. It was roasting hot yesterday (37 degrees), so in the evening we took our dinner to the beach and the kids swam in the lake while a lightning storm flashed on the horizon. It was wonderful!

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I did a little birthday interview with Alice today; here it is!

Q: How old are you now, Alice?
A: Three!

Q: What are some things you can do now that you’re three?
A: That… it’s my birthday!
Q: Anything else that you can do?
A: Play in the playroom! Yeah, that’s what I can do.

Q: What did you do for your birthday yesterday?
A: I had some cake, and you read some books for me.
Q: Did you go anywhere special?
A: Yes! To church with you!!
Q: Oh, right. And did we go anywhere else/
A: And to the splash park! It was so fun!

Q: What are some things you did at Grandpa and Grandma’s place last week?
A: Played with the toys! Playing on the tramp, playing in the rain, yep.

Q: What are some things you enjoy doing, Alice?
A. Playing with my Picasso Tiles in the playroom, playing with my balloons, playing with Leo!
Q: Those are fun things. Is there anything else you enjoy doing?
A: Playing with pencils. Playing “Warrior” with the pencils.

Q: What’s your favourite song?
A: “Ik zag twee beren!”
(Alice loves incorporating a bit of Dutch into our days. She calls Leo a little liefje (sweetheart), says “lekker slaapen!” at bedtime, and loves, loves, loves singing this song!)

Q: What’s your favourite book?
A: One of my new books. (Points to The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes which we haven’t read yet!)
Q: What sort of stories do you enjoy hearing about?
A: These ones.

Q: What are some things that you like to do with June and James?
A: Play with them.

Q: What do you and I do together?
A: Play with each other, and go to church with each other.

Q: What are some things that you and dad do together?
A: Play with my Picasso Tiles.

Q: What is your favourite thing to eat, Alice?
A: German pancakes, and this (oatmeal with peaches and plain yogurt)!

Q: What makes you happy?
A: Leo’s little baby noises makes me happy! And I like playing with you in the playroom!

Q: What’s something scary?
A: Dragons!
Q: Oh, dragons are pretty scary! Anything else?
A: Monsters are scary.

Q: What are you really good at?
A: I’m really good at… BREAKFAST!
Q: Oh! What else are you really good at?
A: Making Picasso Tile houses.

Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?
A: Play with dad.
Q: Oh! Anything else you’d like to do?
A: Play with James, and June. And be an adult!

Q: What do you think about before you fall asleep?
A: (Says in a whisper) Be quiet.

Q: What do you love about God?
A: I like seeing him.
Q: Pardon? Where do you see God?
A: Up in the sky.
Q: What else do you like about Jesus?
A: Jesus is my best friend.

Leo’s Birth Story

I read a wonderful blog post the other day about calling to mind the miracles of your life. I can think of a few just off the top of my head:
– the way we found a rental home in Kelowna three days before we had to move, a home that was spacious, affordable (astonishing!), and next to great neighbours
– Jeremy finding a suitable job posting on the day his novena (nine-day prayer) ended

And the more I think about it, Leo’s birth going as smoothly as it did was a miracle, too. He was born extraordinarily quickly, and without any medical personnel in attendance; a lot of things could have gone wrong – but they didn’t. So I thought I’d share his birth story today, and I hope you’ll thank God with me for the way He protected both our lives!

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Towards the end of my pregnancy with Leo, I kept wondering how the birth would go. That’s the thing about birth; you don’t have much control over how things will go – you mostly just roll with what you’re given!

So questions abounded: would we have moved into our new home already? Would I go nine days overdue like I did with Alice? (Blah! The horror!) Would the baby be born at home, or in the hospital? (I couldn’t quite decide.) Would the labour be short and sweet, or would it drag out? My labour with Alice had been brisk; I’d woken up at 0600 with the first contraction and our little girl entered the world at 0703! I wondered if things would go even faster the fourth time around, or if I should expect a slower labour.

So I read many, many birth stories online to see what other women had experienced, and my extensive ‘research’ showed that one speedy labour does not guarantee you a subsequent speedy labour. A lot of stories went like this: “I had an unexpected home birth last time, so I counted on this birth being speedy, too . . . and instead it dragged on and on!” So, mentally I prepared myself for a) going overdue for the fourth time and b) having a longer labour.

I prayed a fair bit about the birth: that the baby and I would both be safe; that if the baby was born at home, the birth wouldn’t cause a huge mess; and that the baby would arrive after we’d moved.

Now, I have admit that I was not a particularly pleasant person to be around those last few weeks. My back was sore, the baby was sitting low in my pelvis, and restless legs/pregnancy insomnia made falling asleep difficult. One evening when I was feeling particularly cantankerous, I mentioned my irritability to Jeremy as a possible sign of impending labour. He gently pointed out that I’d been just as crabby for the past fortnight. Ha! When moving day came and went, and we finished unpacking most of our belongings, I sighed in relief that the little one had stayed put till then.

My parents popped by for a quick visit shortly after we moved in and fixed up a few things around our new home. My mom repainted a wall full of holes, my dad fixed closet doors that wouldn’t close, and put hooks in the front closet for the kids’ jackets, etc. By that weekend, our home felt cozy, comfortable, and functional, and after they’d gone home, Jeremy said to me, “It’d be awesome if the baby came tonight!”

Just thinking about the baby possibly arriving made me zip about in a tidying frenzy! I moved a bunch of things cluttering up the fireplace mantle, and we made the living room neat. Then I popped out to Home Sense and bought some things we needed like living room curtains and bedside lamps. After bustling about for half an hour put everything in its place, Jeremy convinced me to settle down and watch a movie. I don’t even remember what we watched, I just remember feeling tired and going to bed half way through it.

That night I awoke around 1am having period-like cramps that came every three minutes. They weren’t painful, just uncomfortable enough not to sleep through. So I took some acetaminophen and ibuprofen in the hopes that I’d be able to rest some more. I really wanted to tidy something up, so I went downstairs thinking I’d fold a load of laundry, but Alice stirred when she heard me tiptoeing past her, so I just went back to my room and prayed for a bit, then twiddled my thumbs for a while. I fell back asleep a while later and slept soundly.

Maybe a bit too soundly? June climbed into bed with me at 0615 (bad habit at that time) and I woke up and looked at the time and thought, Oh dear, the cramps must have stopped, and I’m not in labour. And then as she snuggled up beside me, I had a much stronger contraction. It was strong enough that I bolted out of bed, put on my bathrobe, and hurried into our en suite bathroom where I had two more contractions. I felt uncomfortable having June hear me breathe through them, so I went to the main bathroom instead. (“Mom, where are you going?” her little voice inquired as I bustled away.) I breathed through several contractions there while trying to figure out how serious they were… because, first of all, I had slept for nearly 3.5 hours and hadn’t felt anything… and secondly, the contractions were weird in that they put lots of pressure on my bladder. I hadn’t had that before in any of my labours, nor had I ever heard someone in labour mention it. I wasn’t sure what it meant. (In case you’re wondering, it’s what you feel when your posterior baby is rapidly descending.)

At 0630, I went to the kitchen for a drink of orange juice, woke Jeremy up and told him what was going on. He asked sleepily, “Should you page the midwife?” and I replied that I wasn’t sure. It had only been 15 minutes, and I wasn’t sure what was going on with the pressure-on-the-bladder contractions yet. He brought me the cell phone in the bathroom and I tried to page them but the last thing I could focus on was a piece of paper and I misdialed. The kids were up at this time and were curious about what was going on. Jeremy sent them to the basement and they played there happily, only once stealthily climbing the stairs to see if they could figure out what was happening (turkeys!). I hopped into the bathtub (which, if I was going to have a homebirth is where I wanted to deliver the baby, its virtue being that it’s easy to clean) and had one or two contractions there while leaning forward. They weren’t intense, but I thought maybe the pressure on the bladder feeling was from the baby descending, so I asked Jeremy to page the midwives. I grabbed a towel and laid it on the bottom of the bathtub, just in case. He paged them at 0637.

And just then it felt like the baby was coming! I said so to Jeremy, and he said, “Okay” really calmly, and he helped me sit back and whoosh, our little baby just came out all at once! I don’t even think I pushed; he just came out! He cried right away, and Jeremy noticed the cord was wrapped around his neck, so he unwrapped that. I think he must have emerged sunny side up, because he was laying on his back when he was born and I noticed his male gender right away. I was shocked! “What?!!! He’s a boy??!” I’d been so, so certain during my pregnancy that the baby was a girl that I’d only purchased girl clothes! Jeremy laughed in response. “I knew it!” he exclaimed, and picked up our son and gave him to me to hold. We dried him off with the towel together and I looked at our little one, astonished at this dear little BOY in my arms, and nearly as astonished at how quickly he’d entered the world. I asked Jeremy, “Is this a dream? Did this really just happen?!” Our little boy was born at 0638, twenty-three minutes after I woke up, and eight minutes after I woke up Jeremy!

The midwife called back right away and Jeremy explained the baby had already been born. She made sure everything was fine with both of us and said she’d be on her way. I just sat in the bathtub snuggling with our little one for the next while – it was peaceful and wonderful! I had snuck some cord clamps from the hospital while working there, so after about fifteen minutes I used those to clamp Leo’s cord and Jeremy cut it with a pair of kitchen scissors. The kids had been even more curious ever since hearing him cry when we was born, so we covered up the “debris” with some towels and invited them in for a minute to meet Leo. They came in together and looked at him with wide eyes for a few minutes before Jeremy shooed them out again.

When the midwives arrived, they helped me up, the placenta came out, I freshened up a bit, and then nursed Leo in the master bedroom while they, in answer to my prayer of having very little mess, tidied up the bathroom. They did some routine checks on Leo and me (blood pressure, etc.) and left after about two hours. Then Jeremy and I hashed out Leo’s name. We’d decided on our baby names a month or two before Leo was born, but because I was so sure that the baby was a girl (ha!), I hadn’t given the boy name much thought. The name we’d chosen didn’t seem quite right, so we talked about baby names again for a while, reviewed our baby name consultation, and eventually decided to give him the name Leo Ignatius (or, as our kids like to jokingly say, Leo Tenacious). He was named after Pope St. Leo the Great, who defended the early church against heresy, and St. Ignatius, whose writings were influential in Jeremy becoming Catholic.

So that’s it! Leo was born, he got checked over by the midwives, and has been doing great ever since! Praise be to God!

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Newborn Leo

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June and Leo (3.5 months old)

Life Lately

Some more photos of regular life around these parts . . .

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The weather’s warmed up in the last two to three weeks, and spring is in full bloom. It’s been wonderful to spend more and more time outside!

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Our cherry tree looks so promising!

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Life Lately

Leo turned six weeks old on Sunday! Already! These past few weeks have gone by ridiculously quickly, and I’ve got a sneaking suspicious summer will be here in the blink of an eye. We’re just now on our second week of homeschooling since he was born, and it’s been really, really good to be back into a routine!

Ready for a deluge of photos? Here we go . . .

Two-day old Leo:

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Four-day old Leo listening in on the pre-bedtime fairy tale:

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Those first few weeks were such a blur that I just have a few cell phone pictures to look back on . . . Here he’s four days old . . .

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The lineup for holding Leo:

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James is so delighted with his little brother. He loves to snuggle up beside Leo, tell him little secrets, hold him, walk around with him, etc. For a while he thought it was hilarious to have Leo suck on his finger – and then his cheek. One day I looked at James and asked him what was on his chin – it looked like a little patch of smudged marker. It turned out to be a hickey, because he had put his chin by Leo’s mouth when the little lad was hungry!

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My parents had a busy couple weeks before and after Leo’s birth, beginning with a holiday in Hawaii on holidays, followed by a trip to Japan to meet their new little adopted granddaughter. When they returned home, they drove over to our place to meet Leo, and to pick up the older three kids so I could have a few quiet days at home (which, by the way, were just as amazing as you might imagine! The glorious silence! I read more in those three days than I have in the past three months!).

Grandpa and Leo:

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Grandpa and the grandkids at his place:

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Jeremy and I drove down to the Fraser Valley at the beginning of his Spring Break to introduce Leo to his aunts, uncles and cousins, and to meet Noa, Duane and Skye’s daughter. She’s a month older than Leo, though they’re about the same size.

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Little treasures:

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Grandpa and Grandma, their new grandbabies, and a typical Sunday night dinner in progress:

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Our kids picked up a sickness during our stay in the Fraser Valley, and were miserable for the next week. I was so, so thankful Jeremy was off on Spring Break, as I was feeling quite exhausted just taking care of Leo (who also got a cough and stuffy nose) and myself. Jeremy made dinner for us, tidied up our home, and consoled the kids when they fell apart repeatedly. 🙂

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Once they were feeling a bit better, we headed out to a park with some friends.

Alice and Beatrice:

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The kids just love holding Leo; it’s one of the best parts of their day. Whenever he gets up from a nap, they flock around him:
“He’s AWAKE!!!”
“His eyes are open, mom!!!”
“Oh, he’s so sweet and precious!” (Alice says this over and over!)
“Can I please hold him??”

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And then Jeremy’s parents came out to visit for a couple days! We loved having them over, and the kids made the most of every opportunity to play games with them, chat with them, and read books with them.

Oma and Alice:

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I think they were all looking for Waldo here . . .

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I love the look of expectancy on the girls’ faces here!

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And then there was the Triduum, the festive celebration of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday! We attended various masses, had a little Easter egg hunt in our home and had a special Easter dinner. ‘Twas lovely! Plus, it was a time of remembrance as it marked one year (already!) since we joined the Catholic Church!

Things have gone alright since Jeremy’s returned to work, mostly because I’ve felt overwhelmed and have been praying, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own! Please help!!!!!” And He has helped, providing laughter some days, patience on others, as well as reminders of just how young and in need of love my children are.

And some photos from the last few days . . .

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I’m a little biased, but isn’t he just such a little darling?!

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All of our children have been born with large eyes and a habit of staring at things raptly; Leo’s no different in that regard!!

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Alice and Leo:

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June and Leo:

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James and Leo:

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And one of Leo and me, too:

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It is beginning to feel springish here in the Okanagan!  Walking around Munson Pond the other day we came across a muskrat swimming in the water, a beaver pond, some redwing blackbirds and sprouting willows buds – which google says is one of the first signs of spring! Hurrah for that!

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At the beaver pond:

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Practising his “tightrope walking”:

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Willows:

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We went out to a mountain bike training park the other day. It’s just five minutes from our home, and seems to be mostly visited by preschool and school-age kids who love biking. James was so thrilled!!! He crashed a couple times (the former pediatric ER nurse in me is scandalized I even let him try it without his forgotten helmet), but got back up and kept going.

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And it was Jeremy’s 35th birthday yesterday! We went for a pre-dinner stroll to the Mission Creek greenway and enjoyed a lovely afternoon outside.

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And one last photo to wrap up this lengthy post!

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James, June, Alice & Leo

Here are photos of James, June, Alice and Leo as newborns . . . what are your thoughts on the differences/similarities amongst them?

I think Leo looks like a mix of Alice and James in these photos . . . it looks like he shares James’s chin, and maybe Alice’s nose?

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Baptism Day!

Our little one was baptized on Sunday! How splendid to see him join the family of God!

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Leo wore the baptism gown my grandma made out of her wedding dress, and was snuggled up in a blanket crocheted by Jeremy’s oma! Pretty special!

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