Monday, 24 October 2016

my life at the moment . . . and yes, feel free to be jealous . . . NOT!

let's all go back to that warm, fuzzy moment leif and i shared last week when he pooped in the potty all by himself; we hugged, we kissed, we cried tears of joy and we were full of hope that this potty-training business was going to be a breeze. we saw the light at the end of the dark, smelly tunnel that is potty training and we were jubilant. hooray! we made it!

now, let's fast forward to one week later, where i am kneeling on all fours cleaning a poop land mine left behind in the bathroom by my adorable toddler, who was screaming;

i am scared to poop in the potty! i am scared . . .

while mr. level-headed, the love of my life, is cleaning poop off the sole's of his beloved, beautiful bride's feet.

insert wide-eyed emoji here

seriously. this is my life at the moment. both cushions have been removed from the couch because they need to be burned . . . er, cleaned and every pair of toddler underwear and pants we own are in the washing machine, along with socks and sneakers.

i guess you could say that potty-training is not going so well. yeah, not so well. i have decided tonight after cleaning up yet another poop bombshell off the living room floor that we are going back to diapers tomorrow, and he can toilet train himself when he is sixteen. i figure once he becomes interested in girls then it should be a breeze for him. this mama is done!

and since i am already airing out my dirty laundry (in more ways than one), let's share another warm, fuzzy story; yesterday, as my darling family was driving home from church, enlightened and uplifted after feasting upon the spiritual stories shared by those striving to live like jesus and feeling a burning desire in our own hearts to carry on, to not give up and to do all we can to be more like our beloved savior, jesus christ, the boys started fighting.

you're an idiot.

at least i'm an idiot with friends.

and so on and so on.

and then, since mr. level-headed and i were actively trying to ignore their foolishness and desperately trying to maintain some level of sabbath day reverence, leif took matters into this own hands;


mr. level-headed and i looked at each other in disbelief. he started laughing and i wanted to cry. 

leif! you don't talk like that!

but mom . . .

no . . . you ask the boys to be quiet.

but they are being loud.

i know they are being loud, but you do not talk like that.

but mom . . .

leif, you ask them to be quiet.

but mom . . .

what leif? 

i just really need them to shut up.

oh. my. land.

and there you have it folks: my life. 

he may not like using the potty, but he is definitely very comfortable with being a potty mouth.

i would love to end this post by saying: "at least he's smart", but since he is explaining to me how this boy cow makes milk for all the other animals at the farm in this picture, i guess i will just close with my usual;

thank heavens, he is cute.

. . . tee hee!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

a tale of tears and poop . . . the best kind

the past few days have been rough.

 people always ask me how i do what i do, and they often refer to me as superwoman. let me set the record straight: i do not have super powers! but i do have a couple of secret weapons that help me appear to have it all together. the biggest secret to my success is that i am firm believer in doing what makes me happy. when i am happy, i have the energy i need to care for this family of mine.

the babies and i go on a lot of outings, and for some, that looks exhausting, but for me, it is a necessity. getting out each day and exposing them to lots of experiences, makes me feel like a good mom, and when i feel like a good mom, i am happy. being out of the house most of the day also means that i can do a quick clean up in the morning and the house stays that way until evening . . . woohoo!

i also know that i require a lot of sleep, so i go to bed early each night, often, with the babies. i do a quick thirty minute exercise video each day to get those endorphins flowing, and i drink a coke at lunch. i enjoy a date night each week with my hubby, even if it's just quick stop at perkins for half-priced perogies and pie, where i entertain my mr. level-headed with all the nonsensical stories and thoughts i have compiled over the week, and sometimes, if i am uber lucky, i get to write about those ideas on the ol' blog. i am a simple girl, but each of these things play a critical role in keeping me going.

but sometimes i can't get to these things, and when i don't, i feel it. this past week both the babies and i have been sick. i managed to kick the cold to the curb after only two days, but the babies have held on to it. no one is sleeping and with snot oozing from every nook and cranny of their face, the babies are not suitable to venture forth amongst the living. they are not a pretty sight and neither is their exhausted, cranky mama who has been housebound with them since friday.

to top it all off, leif has been showing signs of getting ready to potty train. on sunday, he woke up, took off his diaper and peed in the potty. he has done this numerous times over the past week, and since we are housebound anyway with the plague, i begrudgingly conceded:

yay. no more diapers.

and in case you were wondering, i purposely did not use exclamation marks.

truth be told, i am not one of those parents who look forward to potty training. diapers are easier, way easier. potty trained toddlers lead to one thing: public restrooms . . . excuse me while i throw up in my mouth. seriously, me, all by lonesome with the dastardly duo in a public restroom is a recipe for the flesh-eating disease. i just know it.

and not to mention, potty training is never an easy cheesy venture, especially with my headstrong leif. on sunday, he peed in the potty all day. on monday, he peed on the bathroom floor and the carpeted basement floor. today, he decided to just hold it, and if you have been reading carefully, you will notice that i have not mentioned anything about poop, and that is because there has been no poop. he will not poop. there is three days worth of poop being stored up in that little body of his, and as each diaperless moment passes, i grow more nervous.

i really wish blogger would allow you to access emojis. this is one of those times that calls for the wide-eyed yellow face, followed by the purple, screaming-in-terror face.

anyhoo . . .

all of this has taken its toll on me, and i hit my all-time low today after harriet decided she and i needed to play toys from 2am-5am last night. seriously. then, because life sucks (i am kidding . . . kind of) leif decided he did not need to nap. i am going to be quite honest and tell you that as soon as he got up from his bed and said:

i am out of here, mom!

i broke down and cried. i felt discouraged, exhausted and helpless. as i laid there, i began to imagine all of the things leif could get into without my supervision. so, as tempted as i was to just shut my eyes and doze off for a few minutes, i dragged my lifeless body out of bed and headed into the living room. it was quiet, too quiet. i quickly checked the front door to make sure he did not escape. seeing the door still shut and locked, i let out a sigh of relief, turned around and then froze on the spot: there in the dark, quiet living room, all by himself, leif was sitting on his potty with the diaper i had put on him for his not-happening-nap, around his ankles. i didn't say a word and tiptoed back to my room. i laid down on my bed and waited for him to finish. a few minutes later, leif sauntered into my room:

oh, mom. whatcha doing?

just lying down. what are you doing, leif?

me? i pooped.

i instantly started crying.

really, bud?

yep. can you wipe my bum?


seeing the pride beaming from his face as he proudly showed off the monstrous turd lying in his froggy potty, gave me a much-needed boost. the past few days i have felt like all my efforts are futile. if i clean up, there is a mess twenty seconds later. if i fall asleep, someone wakes up twenty minutes later. the television has been on for far longer than i like each day, and i have not even been able to squeeze in a shower, let alone a blog post or exercise video, but this . . .  this is huge. this is progress, and it has reminded me that raising littles may not be pretty and it is exhausting and frustrating and downright boring, at times, but . . . it is the most important job i have ever done, and even though i mess it up more times than not, i think i can say i am pretty good at it too.

yay, leif!

okay, so this is not leif . . . tee hee!

harriet is a firm believer in the notion that whatever boys can do, girls can do better, and she decided that potty training was going to be no exception. unfortunately, she was wrong . . . in this case . . . and in this moment. harriet, you are a baby. please, stay a baby for just a little longer. but be a sleeping baby . . . okay?


Friday, 7 October 2016

a whole lot of and's, what's, ugh's and anyhoos

you are going to have to forgive me for my lack of capital letters in this post, and quite possibly all posts from here on out, because leif, my adorable, cuddly, little monster, pitched a fit and picked off all the keys on my laptop and, although i was able to put all but two back on, my shift key is acting finicky. seriously. oh. my. land. what am i going to do with that kid?

anyhoo . . .

in spite of the toddler, today was a great day. i knew it was going to be a great day when i woke up, stepped on the floor grate and felt warm air blowing through it. i don't know why having our heat kick on for the first time since we moved in excited me, but it did. i think it helped me to feel like fall had finally arrived, and i love fall, even though this fall is completely different from any other fall i have experienced. first off, there are no apple orchards in winnipeg or the surrounding area . . . what? secondly, this weekend is thanksgiving and baby girl is not going to be home AND (thank you cap lock . . . tee hee!) we will not be celebrating the holiday with our families . . . boo!  it is going to feel so weird, but i am sure we will enjoy ourselves and hopefully, HOPEFULLY, i can make a good gravy. making gravy actually causes anxiety for me. seriously. my mom makes the best gravy, but in spite of the countless times she has tried to show me how to do it, i can only nail it about ten percent of the time. TEN PERCENT! those are not good odds. please, for the sake of my family, pray for me and my gravy-making ability this weekend. pretty please.

anyhoo . . .

i am going to apologize right now for this ridiculous post about everything. i honestly have a purpose, but i seem to have forgot it at the moment . . . oh, right . . . it was a good day. so, this morning, i actually woke up well-rested and then i stepped on the warm grate . . . yada yada yada .  . . right, now i remember where i was going with this post: leif has been obsessed with halloween lately, and he has been begging to buy a costume and decorate the house. i bought the babies their costumes earlier in the week - it was a struggle. i found four different costumes for leif, but he was not really into it because he was currently fixated on all the toys that were also in the vicinity.

what about this hamburger costume?

it has a crab in it.


what about this robot costume?

nope. it's too scary.

what about this blue, fuzzy monster costume.

way too scary.


i want to be a firefighter!


of course, the only firefighter costume i could find was way too big for him, but i figured i could roll up the sleeves, forget the pants and go with it. he was happy. that's all that mattered.

then, when we arrived home, i told elliot to ask leif what he was going to be for halloween.

what are you going to be for halloween, leif?

a ghost pirate.


insert eye roll here . . . toddlers . . . ugh!

BUT, that was the other day, and not today . . . tee hee . . . i really am all over the place tonight. back to today: with halloween on the brain, and warm air blowing through my house, i decided to unpack the halloween decorations and deck these halls . . . wrong holiday, but you know what i mean. leif was in heaven! we found old costumes that my sister and i had worn when we were little, costumes and decorations from when the big three were little, and all of our halloween books. sometimes i shake my head and wonder whatever possessed me to think that "starting over again" was such a great idea, especially when this forty-year old body of mine is nursing a baby numerous times throughout the night, but then there are these moments, like today, when i think that experiencing all of this again is the greatest blessing i have ever been given. seriously. raising littles is ridiculously difficult but it is also magical.

after the decorations were up, i was feeling all warm and fuzzy (it was probably the heat coming through the vents), and didn't want to end the good thing we had going, so i asked the babies if they wanted to make muffins.

i love making muffins, mommy.

i know, leif.

i have had this box of strawberries in my fridge for the past week and each day they were becoming more gooey and less appealing to the wee websters. i did not want to throw them out, and so making muffins seemed to be the perfect idea. i googled a recipe and found one called Smashed Berry Muffins. i have an aversion to baked fruit. i am weird, i know. i also hate all things pumpkin . .  even weirder, right? anyhoo . . . the idea that the strawberries would be mashed up instead of baked in chunks intrigued me, and since i had all the ingredients, we gave it a go.

leif and harriet got into position, and we started baking. i followed a few of the suggested adaptations to the recipes and added a few of my own. i mashed a banana along with the strawberries, replaced the oil with applesauce, used a whole-wheat/white flour mix, reduced the sugar by 1/3 and added a tablespoon of flax seed. we popped our pink muffins in the oven, and waited anxiously for them to be done.

are they done, mom?


are they done, mom?


are they done, mom?


and so on and so one for the longest twenty minutes of my life . . . toddlers . . . insert eye roll here . . . ugh! 

they were worth the wait, though, and here is another reason why today was so great: when elliot came home for lunch (have i mentioned this before? both my boys come home for lunch and often bring a friend or two with them . . . it is awesome! i no longer have to make lunches in the morning)  

ooops! off topic again . . . when elliot came home for lunch, he reluctantly tried a bite of one of the muffins.

this is weird.

and i immediately, thought;

yep, he does not like it.

but wait, he took another bite;

mom, i really like this.


here's the thing: elliot does not like most baked goods, especially not ones with baked fruit in them, which have been "healthified". this was definitely a happy day.

then, after elliot returned to school and leif massacred my laptop . . . ugh! . . . i decided we needed to get out of the house, but here's the thing: my heat turned on today because dang it! it was cold out there. we are talking -1' kind of cold . . . eeeek! seeing as on monday we were playing in 27' weather, our bodies are not acclimatized for this temperature just yet, so i decided to check and see if IKEA finally had the chairs i have been drooling over for the past two months but are never in stock, and guess what. you got it! the website said they were restocked.


this was my day.

and i don't think i have to go into any further detail because an afternoon at IKEA, followed up with their hotdogs and ice cream is the greatest afternoon of all time!

then,when i came home, there was postcard from avery's french teacher in the mail, extolling all of his virtues and exclaiming how much she loved having him in her class.

not that i don't think avery is a great kid, but what middle school teacher does this . . . awesome!

and THEN elliot's pre-calculus teacher called because he was worried that elliot is struggling and wanted to set up two afternoons a week for extra-help.


 i kid you not. he is lucky he called and did not tell me face-to-face because i seriously wanted to kiss that man. no, it is not happy news that elliot is having a rough go in that class, but it is awesome that he has a teacher who cares and is not going to give up on him.

and as i sit here in my new kitchen chair, eyeballing the postcard on my fridge, feeling the warm air blow through the floor vent onto my tootsies, and watching elliot finish up his pre-calc homework all on his own, i have to say it has been a pretty good day, even if i am struggling with a few finicky keys and they are calling for flurries tonight . . .


and now for the photos:

harriet gets just as excited as i do about an IKEA visit . . . tee hee! she may look like her daddy, but she is crazy like her mama.

because everyone needs a halloween, pimp hat. when leif put this on, he exclaimed;

this hat is awesome, mom. take my picture . . .

his enthusiasm for all things ridiculous makes up for this:

le sigh.

and this. how precious is she? here is harriet wearing the cat costume that my mom made for me and my sister, hilary. we both wore it, and i think even zoe wore it once.

and the muffins . . . which are almost gone. if you want the recipe, you can find it here.

and with that i will say . . . good night.

Mashed Berry, Banana Muffins

fyi: there was an incident with my toddler and my laptop today, sooooo . . . no capital letters . . .  sorry, but lots of yummy muffins instead.

mashed berry, banana muffins


1 2/3 cups of fresh strawberries
1/3 sugar (you can add 2/3 if you like a sweeter muffin)
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 eggs
 1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour 
(you can change this ratio according to your taste)
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional - i left it out because i have a thing with cinnamon and baked fruit  - i know. weird)


preheat oven to 425'

mash strawberries and banana together in a large bowl.

stir in sugar, applesauce and eggs until mixed.

stir in other ingredients just until moistened.

i put it all in my kitchenaid mixer - easy cheesy!

spoon batter into muffin cups.

bake for 15 - 18 minutes. i got 16 muffins with this recipe.

they are done when you poke a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Reclaiming my Throne

I need to share this parenting gem I stole last week from @Jennaskitchen on Instagram. She stole it from some other genius mama, who probably stole it from someone else, and so on and so on, right down to Eve. I swear it is that good! With that being said, I am sure she will not mind me sharing this treasure with all of you. In fact, as mamas, I believe it is our responsibility to share tidbits of parenting ingenuity. It isn't fair if one mama is sitting there all queen-of-the-castle-like because she has the key to unlock the mysteries of the parenting universe while the rest of us are sludging our way through the day to day, making the same mistakes over and over again, while our little minions inch by precious inch take over our domain. Mamas, it is time to put down those chocolate almonds and Coca Colas (okay, keep them. Life is too short anyway and we need some joy in our day . . . tee hee!) and reclaim your throne. Here is the answer to all of your problems . . .  are you ready for it? I am so giddy; it is ridiculous!

Tokens for Screen!

Did you hear the angels herald? I sure did.

Don't roll your eyes. Hear me out. I promise; this will change your life!

Let me tell you how it works. First, put away your card stock and laminator because there is no need for either of them. I know you love them, but now is  not the time. The beauty of this parenting tip is that it requires no work on your part . . . no fancy charts, no check marks or stickers, and no preparation at all . . . hold your applause until the end, please.

Second, find a collection of little things that you have a lot of and do not have a use for. I have been dragging around a bag of plastic bread ties I used to use in my classroom for years, and they work perfectly.

Third, get a small container for each of your children and put their names on it. I simply taped their names onto small Mason jars I had stored in my cupboard.

Fourth, inform you angelic children that contrary to what they believe, they, in fact, are not entitled to watch TV or play video games all day long, and from here on out, they will be working for screen time.


The throne has been usurped once again and the rightful  ruler has returned. They will cry. They will argue. They may even tell you they hate you, but that is okay because after about thirty  minutes their screen addiction will kick in, they will start frothing at the mouth and  their body will  begin convulsing. Do not worry. This is a critical step because this is the point you have them. They are now putty in your hands.

Fifth, now that your minions are ready to listen, explain to them how the program works. They do odd jobs around the house for you - fold the laundry, walk the dog, mop the floor, vacuum, pick up toys, unload the dishwasher . . . you name it! For each job, they get a token, and that token can be traded in for 30 minutes of screen OR saved until the end of the week and traded in for $1. You take care of allowance, entitlement issues, and screen time dilemmas with one easy cheesy routine. 

I bet you hear the angels now . . . huh?

Now, I know some people have strong feelings about allowance over the fact that children should not be rewarded for every chore they do, and I agree completely. My boys are expected to keep their rooms clean, put away their clean clothes, watch the babies and clean up after themselves without any reward, other than the fact that I gave them life and continue to allow them to live . . . tee hee! But seriously, this is another reason why this token system works so well: you can choose what your child gets tokens for and it may change day to day, according to what you need done. It is brilliant!

And it works! Screen time has been drastically reduced in my house. I am currently writing this post, while supper is cooking, because I have nothing left to do. All the chores are done and my house is spotless, except for the toys that are spread out over my entire living room floor that Avery asked me to leave for him to clean up so that he could get a token . . . I kid you not! This has to be the ultimate parenting tool. I am once again the queen of my castle, and it feels so good!

And now because we all need more funny pictures of Harriet in our life, here you go:

I swear she did not learn how to text and drive from me. Harriet!

Check out the attitude! This was in response to my lame joke about her texting and driving. She is soooo much like her big sister . . . pray for me!

Oh, and Harriet is currently mopping my bathroom floors so that she can save up enough tokens to buy this pink car, that both she and her brother pitched a fit over having to leave behind at the store today . . . just kidding . . . about the bathroom . . . not the fit . . . ugh!

 . . . tee hee!

But, seriously, just try it.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Leif the Chief

Lately this kid is killing me. One minute I want to scoop him up and squeeze the stuffing out him because he is over-the-moon cute, and in the next minute, I want to stuff him into a box and ship him to the other side of the world. How can someone who is so naughty be so darn cute? My entire day consists of saying:

Leif, do not pee on the floor.

Leif, where did you find that marker?

Leif, where are your clothes?

Leif, why did you make that mess?

Leif, do not bother your sister.

Leif, do not wake up your sister.

Leif, STOP!

Leif . . .

Leif . . .

Leif . . .

 He, seriously, stretches my patience, and one of these days it is going to snap. Who am I kidding . . . I am going to snap, and I am getting old;  I may not be able to bounce back like I did once upon a time.

He goes from covering the walls in Zincofax to asking me to help him prepare a Peanut Butter Sandwich Party for his stuffies, complete with empty Rubbermaid containers filled with imaginary candy and instructing me on how to enjoy them:

Mom, you need to unwrap your candy and lick it. Like this!

He goes from walking Harriet on a leash and calling her Fluffy, while she trails behind him with the biggest grin on her face to pushing her down because he wants the toy she has in her hand.

He goes from pitching a fit in the YMCA because he is suddenly too scared to go into the gym (who does that sound like? Oh. My. Land . . .  insert screaming face emoji here) because he only wants to sit on the bench in the hall to splashing in the pool at the YMCA, exclaiming:

This is the best day ever, mom! Thank you, mommy, for bringing us.

He gives the best hugs.  He nearly knocks you over when he wraps those skinny little arms of his around your neck, and there is nothing more heart-warming than when he squeals:

I love you, mommy. 

He makes the biggest messes, and when he is caught on the brink of unleashing mass destruction, he will flash the most adorable, yet mischievous, grin and exclaim:

Nothing to see here, Mom. Just turn around.

He is the biggest help around the house - he cleans, he bakes, he makes supper, he vacuums and he rakes. I love hearing him ask:

I help too, mom?

He makes me laugh, cry, smile and cringe all at the same time, countless times a day, and more times than not, he leaves me feeling like the world's worst mother:

Why can't he just sleep?

Why must he always make a mess?

Why must he scream so loudly?

Why won't he listen?




But, when I am at my lowest, feeling exasperated and defeated by this two year old ball of energy and irrational behaviour, he will hold my face in between his two little hands, grin and whisper:

It's going to be okay, mom. It's going to be okay.

And for some strange reason, I actually believe him.

When will I learn to keep the Zincofax up and out of his reach? 

Seriously, he is the best!

A little snack we shared during one of his weekly 3am meetings with me. You know . . . to touch base and to discuss our dreams, goals and aspirations.

He is happiest in the kitchen, and has all of a sudden decided to stick out his tongue whenever I ask him to look at me.


Mr. Independent waits for no one, or anything as trivial as clothes, when he wants to do something . . . again with the tongue.

Our Monday morning Peanut Butter Sandwich Party

After sandwiches and imaginary candies, the guests all watched an episode of Paw Patrol with their hosts.

Caught, ya!

Leif, you bring me so much joy. Yes, you bring me to my knees, quite literally, with all your antics and mischief, but more times than not, I find myself on my knees, thanking Heavenly Father for the privilege of raising you and loving you. Thank you for choosing me to be your mama.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Our Trek out West

I figured it was time to document our trek out West. Not because I have any grand insights into cross-Canada travel with four kids and a dog, other than: DO NOT DO IT! I repeat: UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THIS BE ATTEMPTED. But, I want it documented here so that we will never do it again, even in a couple of years, when my brain chooses to forget the anguish, the suffering and the mind-numbing monotony my dear family endured over the course of those five days, and I suggest to Mr. Level-Headed:

Let's drive home this summer to save on the cost of air travel. It will be fun! It will be an adventure. We are due for an adventure.

Because we all know it is inevitable . . . I really am that crazy. 

Future Krista must be stopped. So, here goes:

Our first mistake is that we made this trek with two vehicles (the Uhaul and the Loser Cruiser) and only two drivers . . .what were we thinking!

Our second mistake was deciding to leave late Tuesday night after Avery's soccer game. Sure it was nice having the day to attend to any last minute details, having lunch with Grammie at McDonald's, napping at Nanny's and finally watching Avery's playoff game with all the grandparents and a dear friend from high school, BUT hello!! I had just said goodbye to my parents and our 18 year old Baby Girl, who needed to stay behind to finish her summer job, AND I had spent the past two months packing, prepping the house for sale and caring for five children all by myself, while Mr. Level-Headed worked up North. It was no surprise that after a mere three hours, I could drive no further and needed to stop at Grand Falls, NB, rather than push on to Quebec, which was the initial plan. I was in no physical or emotional shape to drive for five hours.

No worries, Krista. We will just make up the time tomorrow.

That Mr. Level-Headed . . . he is always so flexible when it comes to meeting his adorable, but whiny wife's needs.

After finally finding a hotel that had a vacancy, which proved to be a very difficult task throughout our entire trip, we all had a good night's sleep and woke hopeful and eager to start our first full day on the road.

And it went great . . .  well, for awhile. Sure Harriet cried, and I had to listen to the Backyardigans sing: "The Worman Polka" over and over again, and I kept thinking they were singing the Mormon Polka, which didn't make any sense because the Backyardigans are probably not Mormon . . .Anyhoo . . I ordered lunch for everyone at Subway in french . . . woohoo! Yay, me! and I found a great splash pad just outside of Montreal, where we ate pizza and the babies ran and played.

Elliot and I got the biggest kick out of this town name in Quebec: Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! I should have read it as an omen. The gods were laughing at us. 

Look at those fools. All hopped up on excitement and optimism. They think this drive is going to be a breeze . . . . muhahahaha! We will show them.

Shake your booty! 
Oh, and that dark speck on the right side of Harriet's hair is a knot that she created from twisting her hair and crying on the drive. Oh, she is a treat. She definitely won the worst travel companion award. 

After our rest at the park, everything went downhill from there. Elliot did not eat supper and chose to lie down in the van instead. When we packed the van up and started rolling again, he complained that his back hurt. Before we hit the highway, we stopped at a drug store to get him some muscle relaxants, thinking his pain was from sitting in the car all day.

An hour later Elliot perked up and started to eat the left over pizza we saved for him. Two hours later, as were driving through Ottawa, Elliot started complaining that his stomach hurt. By then, it was dark, we were all exhausted and even though we had not reached Mr. Level-Headed's planned destination . . . again, we texted him:

We need to pull over for the night.

For the record, most people stop for the night before 11pm, which means all those lovely hotels you see along the highway are booked up by then and you have to drive through tiny, backwoods towns in the dark to find sketchy, old motels that only the really desperate people, like ourselves, are willing to stay at. Just for the record.

So, after encountering many dead-ends and having to turn around countless times with two crying toddlers and a teenager who is getting progressively more sick, Mr. Level-Headed finally finds a vacant motel, and while he is getting the room keys, the babies run wild through the parking lot, the teenager throws up all over the parking lot, the pre-teen desperately tries to wrestle the dog away from the puke and I . . . well, I am ready to shoot someone and curse the day that attractive Mr. Level-Headed walked into my life because we all know this is his fault somehow.

Families are such a blessing.

After a quick text to Zoe informing her that I love her and to warn her that if she never hears from me again, I have been murdered and left to rot in some sketchy motel in Ontario, I fall asleep.

The next day, everyone was worn out, but Elliot had stopped vomiting and was ready to sleep off the apparent food poisoning in the Uhaul with Mr. Level-Headed. We grabbed some breakfast at McDonald's and hit the road.

See the mark on her forehead? That's where Harriet scratched herself during one of her fits. Yep, like I said: Worst Travel Companion Ever.

 It was a grey, drizzly day and it was one of those days where the weather matched everyone's mood to a tee. Our excitement had dissipated. We were ready to be done, but we still had two more days to go. After driving all morning without a break and with two babies crying and no playgrounds in sight, I texted Mr. Level-Headed:

Find somewhere for the babies to play.

He stopped at a mall. I lost my mind.

The babies need fresh air. They need water. They need to run. So, we are going to take them shopping?

Oh, I pitched a fit, and once my tantrum was done, we went shopping. Elliot still was not feeling well, so he stayed in the car and slept with Scout. We bought Leif a pair of sneakers (because he somehow managed to leave NB with only one shoe . . . insert eye roll here), snacked on smoothies and let the babies play on the mall rides.

Everyone enjoyed themselves. I was wrong to pitch a fit. There, I apologized. And really I should apologize because little did I know but this was our last taste of the modern world for another 36 hours. Oh, Northern Ontario. You are such a doll!

The next two days can pretty much be summed up as follows:

convenient store
convenient store
and repeat
and repeat

Two freaking days. . . I now have a better understanding of what Chinese Water Torture must feel like. Oh. My. Land.

Oh, and just another tidbit of information, you will never see a grocery store on your travels through Northern Ontario, but you will come across a strip club that rents rooms AND North America's largest porn rental shop. I kid you not.

Anyhoo . . .

Somewhere along the line, I managed to pitch another fit in the parking lot of a restaurant . . . who am I kidding? I was the Worst Travel Companion Ever. We found a playground, an old, rusty playground with a vicious dog incessantly barking and growling at us through a chain-linked fence, but oh, that playground was like a gift from the heavens. I swear I heard angels sing when we drove up to it.

That right there is what joy looks like.

And Elliot got sicker and sicker. For two days, he laid in the back of the van, not moving a muscle. We kept telling ourselves he was getting better, but he wasn't. Finally, late Friday afternoon, I started to get really worried and scared. Thankfully, the scenery started to change. The lakes disappeared and the road widened. Suddenly, there was a sign:

Thunder Bay
Population: 108,359


We had entered the modern world once again. As soon as we turned onto the off-ramp, I saw a sign that pointed in the direction of the nearest hospital. I looked in my rearview mirror and knew without a doubt that Elliot needed to be seen by a doctor. Once we pulled up to the intersection, I texted Mr. Level-Headed (it was a red light)

Go straight to the hospital.

I pulled up to the emergency doors, hopped out of the van and started barking orders.

Avery, you stay with the babies in the van.
Derrick, go park the Uhaul. Then, get the van and  find somewhere for everyone to eat. 

I can be such a treat sometimes. I felt bad. I knew Mr. Level-Headed really wanted to be in Winnipeg by Friday, but we couldn't go any further without Elliot being looked after.

Oh, and get a hotel. We are done driving for today.

I rushed Elliot into the hospital. As soon as we were done in Triage, they sent him into an examining room, and within moments, he was hooked up to an IV and saw the doctor. At this point, I was still thinking it was food poisoning, so when the doctor told us Elliot needed a chest x-ray, I nearly pitched another fit.

What?  Have you not been listening to me?

But I didn't. I did what I was told and headed to X-ray. Low and behold, the doctor was right; Elliot had pneumonia. He prescribed an antibiotic, some Gravol and Tylenol, and sent us on our way.


It really should not have come as such a shock because crazy seems to be what we do best. 

That night, we slept in a nice hotel. Before we went to our separate rooms (Hello! Our family size is not hotel friendly), Mr. Level-Headed kissed me on the forehead and assured me it was almost over. We only had three and a half more driving hours to go, and we could do this. 

Right. We do hard things.

The next day, after being all hopped up on his medicinal cocktail for a good twelve hours, Elliot felt much better. We had breakfast in the hotel dining room and enjoyed eavesdropping on all the older, retired couples, sharing their travel tales and words of wisdom with one another. Their trips sounded remarkably different from ours, I should have shared our story . . .  tee hee! 

With our bellies full and our hope returning, we hopped back into the vehicles and headed for the Manitoba border. We were quite eager to be done with Ontario. Thankfully, the travel gods were done with us too, and the remainder of our trip was uneventful. Once we saw the flat fields of Manitoba, our excitement grew. We had made it. We may have been a day late, but we made it!

Welcome to your new home, Websters! 

Now, all we had left to do was unpack . . . Seriously, what were we thinking?

. . . tee hee!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Difference a Year can Make

Yesterday, the babies and I drove Mr. Level-Headed to the airport because he was needed in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. As we drove, I kept exclaiming:

This is soooo weird.

This is just too weird.

I can't believe we are in Winnipeg and I am going to see you in just ten days.

This is too weird.

Last year, at this time, we were getting ready to send Derrick up to Rankin Inlet for his new job, knowing we would not see him for three months. Zoe was uber sick and Harriet was only four months old. We were scared, really scared, but we were hopeful. We had prayed about it, and we continually felt like this was the best decision for our family even though it sure did not look like it at the time. So, on our drive to the airport yesterday, I kept marveling over the fact that we survived it all, and we made it out of that long, dark tunnel. I don't know how, but we did, and we are in a much better place today because of the sacrifices we made last year.

Often when we reflect on the past, it is easy to forget how much we struggled. Being on the other side of trials sometimes leaves us with the impression that we just muscled through it and never looked back. That was not the case for me last year. I did not muscle through anything, I simply muddled, and there were plenty of times I wanted to give up, but I kept moving forward with the sincere belief that it would all work out in the end. 

With all this fresh in my mind and now currently living in our "happily ever after", I wanted to impress upon my boys the importance of never giving up because in this life, the only thing we can be certain about is that trials and challenges are coming. So, on Monday night, as our family held Family Home Evening, one night a week we Mormons sit down with our families to have a brief lesson on something spiritual followed by games and treats, we talked about the importance of never giving up. Then we watched a video my aunt shared with me on Facebook about a football player and his coach:

I knew it would grab their attention! Afterwards, I posted a quote on our wall:

Don't you give up.
Don't you quit.
You keep walking.
You keep trying.
There is help and happiness ahead.
-Jeffrey R. Holland

I really hope my kids get it. They have done hard things, they survived and they will continue to have to do hard things. That's life: getting the poop kicked out of ya' and getting back up time and time again, a little bit stronger each time. The new buzz word you will hear in parenting and education is resiliency, and it is simply that: teaching kids they can do hard things and not get discouraged by them. Our life has not been easy, and there have been times when it felt like our challenges outweighed the rest times, but I think my kids will be stronger because of it.They have seen their parents struggle, but more importantly, they have never seen us give up.

So, last night, after I put the babies to bed and texted Mr. Level-Headed to make sure he arrived in Rankin safely, I sprawled out in the middle of my bed, grabbed a book and enjoyed my downtime. This is my time to rest. Unlike last year, there were no tears and no fears . . . ugh! did I just write that? . . . gag! 

It's crazy how much can change in a year. For instance, Harriet went from being a four month old baby to a teenager . . .

You knew I was going to figure out a way to put some pics of my babies up on this blog . . . tee hee! I am shameless!

 Put that boy down now, mom, and help me down these stairs.

Listen here, mom. I am in charge and you are going to listen to me.


Thinks to herself: Oh my goodness, she is really not going to listen to me.

My super powers have vanished.

Hahahahaha! Oh, this girl is fun.

Yep, I am going to enjoy this time of rest. We have reached a plateau, and I can look behind me and bask in how far we have come, but I can also look ahead and get excited for all the possibilities out there waiting for us to reach up and claim them. This is my time to heal, to take a deep breath and to muster up some energy for whatever does come next because, let's be honest, whatever it is, it will most likely not be easy.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Our New Hood

Excuse me while I gush over my new neighbourhood for a moment. I am currently sitting on my back deck; it is overcast but it is warm and there is a gentle, cool breeze blowing. I can hear the birds chirping and the chipmunks chattering. I am eating my lunch and  blogging, while the babies snooze in their stroller beside me. They are exhausted because we just spent the morning at our local YMCA, where they ran for 45 minutes with other toddlers and preschoolers in the open gym that was filled with balls, ride-on cars, scooters AND a ginormous bouncy castle. Then, we headed to the pool, which was a lot of work for this mama who only has two hands but also has two independent, adventurous, free-spirits to protect from drowning . . . hello, workout! We all managed to survive, though, and only one of our threesome was crying as we headed out the door. That's a pretty good ratio for us . . .  and no I was not the one crying . . . this time . . . tee hee! But the best part of all this is that these activities, plus a ginormous indoor play structure, are only a fifteen minute walk from our house and are available every morning of the work week. Excuse me while I do a little dance. I am currently living in stay-at-home mom heaven, which leads me to think that there has to be more of us out there. I briefly chatted with a few mamas this morning, and I hope that by going more regularly we will make some new friends in no time. Because, let's be honest, that's the biggest downside to living here in Winnipeg right now, we are without our people, and it can get pretty lonely and boring without your people, even with so much cool stuff at your fingertips.

Harriet was so tired from all that playing that she fell asleep mid-sandwich . . . what a sweetie!

Last night we took Avery to his basketball class at the Y and let the babies play on the indoor playground. I thought Harriet would only climb to the top of these stairs and then stand around and watch all the kids whizzing by her. Leif tends to get into these mazes and stands there, looking all pathetic and cute until some little girl takes pity on him and comes along to guide him safely through. The funny thing is that it actually works! I tell ya' he might be our smartest wee Webster yet . . . Sorry, Baby Girl. But Harriet was having nothing to do with this helpless baby routine, and the minute she got up those stairs, she took off! I panicked and headed into the playground after her. She was on the third level by the time I caught up to her because I had to squirm through tiny holes and dodge kids coming at me from every direction, and those same kids would give Harriet a boost if she needed to get up to another platform. It was total mayhem in there, but I can see why kids love it. It is an adult-free zone, they get to make the rules and from what I could tell on the inside, they manage it quite well. It was neat to see how the older ones look out for the younger ones. It warmed my heart . . . after I had my fifteen month back in my arms . . . sheesh!

It really is a monstrosity!

Yep, all of this plus lots of outdoor playgrounds, a swimming pool, splash pads, all three levels of schools, restaurants and major shopping chains all within walking distance and I think you can see why I am quickly falling in love with our new neighbourhood. Winnipeg, despite your mosquitoes and your notoriously cold winters, I may actually be developing a crush on you.