Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!  I'm assuming that it will be a while before I blog again, so I'll get my bases covered!  I really don't remember much from the past month, but I'll do my best.
The week before Thanksgiving we faced Jared's fears and stepped onto an airplane with all three toddlers (non-sedated!).  After the non-stop flight to Seattle we called it a success since no passengers hated us at the end of the flight!  Our first stop after greeting Nana & Papa Christianson at the airport was to meet our new neice, Mia.  She is a doll!  We then headed to Jared's grandmother's hospice to see her and wish her a happy 94th birthday.  Noni had suffered a heart attach, stroke and pnemonia the week before our trip.  We were so thankful that we were able to see her again, even though she couldn't communicate as well as we know she wanted to.  We could see the "spark" in her eyes and knew the depth of her love without her having to say a word.
That same evening we drove another four hours to Portland to stay with Jared's extended family there for a day.  We loved getting caught up with Jared's aunt, uncle and cousin, reading with Gigi and Grand Papa, and visiting with friends.  Kai's highlight was playing with two new puppies.  Those sweet dogs loved cuddling with Kai and giving kisses, but feared Isaac as he chased them and lunged for their tails.  Kai is now saying that all he wants for Christmas is a "Big Doggie!"  I hope that the stuffed variety will suffice until we get Isaac tamed!
We spent the four days in Yakima, WA with Jared's parents, brother, sister in law and baby girl.  We had a great time and made many memories.  Nana & Papa were impressed with Julia's verbal skills and now know more than they want to know about her plans for her Princess Birthday Party in six months!

The following weeks were busy with Jared traveling, doctor appointments, and Christmas preparations.  Kai and Julia are much more aware of Christmas with all of it's magic this year.  They look forward to doing our advent book each night...or at least to the chocolates that they receive!  They also love singing the Christmas carols and seeing all of the Christmas lights.  This past Sunday we had our second annual Christmas Nativity Lighting Ceremony with our home group from church.  Here are a few pictures.  Notice the last one of Julia sitting with her sweet friend.  Moments later her hair was lit on fire by her candle!  Good thing we had some quick thinkers (and blowers) around her!  Never a dull moment...!

Here are a few more pictures of Christmas fun!

Breakfast w/ Santa...Isaac is still enjoying his breakfast!

Happy Birthday Jesus Program....before Kai dis-robed out of his shepherd's costume!

Julia singing away!

making Gingerbread house....bad pic, but got all three of them in!

Random run-in to Santa on Main Street in Grapevine!

Dancing under the gazebo!

This is also the time of year for all of Kai's medical tests and doctor appointments.  We spent over 13 hours at Dallas Children's Hospital and the Scottish Rite hospital to complete Kai's MRI, nuclear medicine study on his kidneys, urodynamics (study of bowel/bladder function), and consultations with his specialists.  We are so thankful for Dr. Adams with the Spina Bifida clinic.  He spends so much time with his patients and has a genuine concern for their health and development.  What a gem!  We are waiting for results from the MRI, but the team of doctors are happy with his development, despite his speech delay.  His kidneys look excellent...praise the Lord!  The results also showed that Kai was able to have sustained contractions of his bladder, which make potty training without catheterizing a possibility.  More than we have ever hoped for. 
We are so thankful for God's protection over Kai.  Just today I learned of a family in the area who gave birth to a baby boy with Spina  Bifida who only lived for an hour.  That makes my heart grieve, but also give thanks for each burst of laughter, tackle from one of my sons, and kiss from my children.  What a gift each breath is. 
We pray for a joyful Christmas for all of our friends and family and a blessed New Year!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall Fun

Home Sweet Home.  After living in an apartment for two weeks, followed by a short stent in a hotel, followed by another 12 days in a short term home rental....we are home!  I forgot how comfortable our bed is!  I don't even mind the cat jumping on my head in the middle of the night!  Life is finally starting to slow down a bit as we are recovering from our Canadian adventures.
We have really enjoyed getting together with friends now that we've returned.  The kids and I visited a couple of Pumpkin Patches nearby.  It was hard to find any available clothes for the Texas weather since I packed up almost all of our summer clothing!

Julia loved the princesses!

Isaac's alter ego...Bamm Bamm!  Also his halloween costume!

Kai being a scarecrow

Our sweet friends having a van/picnic!

As close to getting all 3 in a picture as possible this day!

Okay...I'll try to limit the pictures!  I just know that if I don't "record" them somewhere they will never get out of my computer file.  That's what I like about this blog....I'm able to capture some memories so I don't forget them all years down the line!

Kai has been doing well and enjoying his new teachers and classmates at preschool.  We decided to split the twins up for preschool this year after some prompting from the preschool director.  This has been a huge struggle for me since I think the kids find comfort in each other.  After watching them in their separate classes the past few weeks though, I see that it is only Mom who needs comforting!  I've even suggested to them that they would enjoy being in the same classroom, but they both say, "No, my own class!"  Although, the teachers have told me that whenever they cross paths at preschool, they run to each other and give hugs and kisses.  They also say often that they are each other's best friends.  That makes Mom's heart happy!  Kai has been receiving speech therapy services twice a week at the local elementary school.  He will start receiving physical therapy weekly next week through a private clinic.  Our main concern lately is his speech delay/articulation.  He has difficulty putting the endings on his words, which makes him very hard to understand.  One phrase that he says very clearly (and often) is, "I love my mommy!"  He is definitely my tenderhearted child!

Kai enjoying the petting zoo this week at preschool...also Halloween party day!

Julia has already made quick friends at school.  She also has started taking dance classes twice a month by a teenage aged girl from our church.  Here is a clip following their first practice:

She is very verbal, which is a good thing or bad thing depending on the day!  She can be very sweet at times and very sassy at times.  It makes me appreciate my mom more (with three daughters) all the time!  I really do enjoy the moments when she shares with me her thoughts and prays out loud at night.

Isaac is 19 months now and really thinks he is three.  He is so athletic, that he is actually able to do most things that the twins can do.  Jared and I had discussed that Isaac isn't quite ready for "chores" besides putting toys away, and then he surprised us last week by climbing out of his booster chair at the dinner table when he was finished eating and picking up his empty plate and then taking it to the sink.  He was so proud when we clapped for him that he ran up to Kai and gave him a big bear hug!  We have now added his name to the "chore chart!"

Jared has been busy with his job and has recently been named the US Operations Manager.  He has proven to be very valuable in the short time that he has been in the company.  That position will include some travel to Midland/Houston.  We have decided that we could handle 1-2 days of travel a week for a short while in return for staying in the Dallas area and not moving to Midland or Houston!!  We have experienced a lot of ups and downs that I'm sure are common with most start up companies. 
We have loved reconnecting with our Village Church home group family.  The kids love having our home group members to our house weekly and getting a lot of hugs & kisses from friends who have become family to us.  My days are filled with my mommy duties.   One day I'll be able to handle more and will take on some hobbies!  Although I look forward to the day when I can take the kids outside without needing a bath afterwards, being able to sit for more than 10 minutes at a time (w/o putting the kids in front of the TV!) and going an hour without having to discipline the kids,.....I also will miss this lovely stage of toddler-hood!

Bamm Bamm, Pirate, & Mermaid!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Headed home!

Okay....this is old news that I wrote last week and am now just getting around to posting.  Better late than never, right?!

Yes, we are headed back South tomorrow!  It has been a memorable and challenging two months.  Although we were planning on staying here for a few more months, we are ready to get back to Texas and our friends and usual routines there.
The house we are staying at sold, so we will soon be homeless whether we are in Canada or in the States!  We originally were planning on stopping by Washington and Oregon on our way home to see family, but we've decided to fly up for Thanksgiving instead of spending an extra 17 hours on the road....35 hours of drive time is enough!  Our plan is to stay in a co-worker's apartment in Dallas for two weeks while they are out of town and then stay in a hotel for another 1 1/2 weeks until our house is available and our renting contract is up.  We will be happy to give up our gypsy lifestyle by the end of October!
We weren't able to fit in all of the attractions on my list, but we did see quite a bit while we were in Canada.  Besides our trips to Banff and the Gopher Hole Museum, we were able to take a short hike at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, visit the Calgary Zoo, the Calgary Corn Maze, the Telus Science Museum, a miniature train ride at Iron Horse Park, and a local fall festival.  Jared and I were happy to find a few babysitters so that we could go to Calgary for a few date nights also!  I hope that we can come visit again in a few years so that we can experience more Canadian attractions and go camping when the kids are a little bit older.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park.  One and only family picture taken while we were in Canada!

Look mom...fishies!

So scared that one of the kids were going to jump in!


Julia striking a pose

As we pack up and head out on our 35 hour trip back home, we reminence about our time here in Canada.  There are definitely comforts back home that we miss, but here is a short list of things that we will miss here in Canada (in no particular order):

1.  Tim Horton's
  This coffee/donut joint needs to make it's way to Texas!  Their "ice capps," or cappuccino frozen drinks are to die for and their donuts aren't too bad either.  The drive through line winds out into the road even though this place has been open for years!  Cheap too!

2.  The Mountains
  Although we didn't get to visit the mountains as much as I would have liked, it's nice just knowing that they are there!  On clear days, we get a nice view of the Canadian Rockies just outside our window.  I can't wait to come back and visit later when we can go camping, hiking, fishing and rafting with our kids.

3. The Weather
Yes, we did come at the perfect time of the year.  We escaped 100+ degree days and enjoyed cooler days and 45 degree nights.  We will miss sleeping with our windows open.  We missed all of the cold weather and snow since Alberta experienced record high temperatures in September.  We would have loved to experience a little bit of fun in the snow, but maybe we'll get lucky in Texas this winter.

4.  Canadian Accents
I really enjoyed listening to people talk in Canada.  It only took a few weeks to start saying and even emailing the word, "eh!"  It is so functional....confirming what you just said, emphasizing your point, asking a question with one word, or just saying it for fun!  It's a habit that's going to be hard to stop!

5.  Lack of Political Campaign Commercials
It's funny that many Canadians that we met had an opinion about American politics.  But, overall we loved the thought of missing all of the political commercials and talk in the States for this upcoming election. (I'm actually talking for myself, more than I am for Jared!)  We still were able to see all of the debates and information, but were able to escape all of the slander!  Too bad we have to come back before November!

There are also things we won't miss, like the indoor/outdoor shoe concept.  I've never heard of this before coming to Canada.  We were told to bring "indoor shoes" for school so that we could change the kids from their "dirty outdoor shoes" into "indoor shoes" before coming into the classroom.  I'm sure this keeps the floors cleaner, but it's very difficult task to change their shoes while lugging all of the backpacks up several flights of stairs and chasing an 18 month old down a crowded hallway so that he doesn't keep going into the men's restroom or escaping into the preschool room!
We also look forward to small things, like driving in miles per hour instead of kilometers per hour, knowing the temperature in Fahrenheit, instead of Celsius, and wide open spaces (land is very expensive in Canada and all of the houses are packed closely together and are very narrow).
Altogether we had a good experience and are happy that we took advantage of the opportunity.  We met some great people and made many memories!

Face painting fun....mermaid & pirate

Best Buddies giving hugs before their first day of preschool!

Ready for school!

Science museum

Had fun w/ friends at the zoo!
Bear walking!

Calgary Corn Maze

Iron Horse Park....simulates train ride from Calgary to Vancouver