One

How doth the little busy bee

Improve each shining hour,

And gather honey all the day

From every opening flower!

~Isaac Watts

When I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time, I almost fainted. I was filled with a multitude of emotions, the largest being joy. I had never in life received such an unexpected surprise and it felt exhilarating and scary all in the same moment.

Prior to having Soren, our mantra was “we will get to three and see.” Well, we had our three, but we still toyed with the idea of a fourth. I guess we were still “seeing.”

Part of our reservations to growing our family were practical. Raising kids in California was costly and I had just started teaching again. Another factor was my health. After Soren’s birth, I hemorrhaged and my midwife strongly advised against another pregnancy.

So what to do with all this valuable information? Oh, yes, you get pregnant. 🙂

Ellinor was perfectly and wonderfully made and instantly completed our family. As a person who tries to plan every aspect of her life, I am in awe of our little surprise, sweet Ellinor Elizabeth.

Our 🐝 🐝 is 1!

California Dreaming

“Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.”
~Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

With the impending holidays, I have felt a little homesick.

I miss our activities and California traditions with friends and family that encompassed our fall birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The girls and I especially miss Nutcracker. The absence of the practices, rehearsals, bonding with good friends, performances and time spent together, has left a large void. For four years, this was our September through December and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Nutcracker always made it feel like the holidays and I want that magic back.

If you need me I will be looking at these pictures until January 1st.

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I may be crying.

My in-laws visited which was a welcome pick me up. We were able to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving or as I called it “Practice American Thanksgiving.” It felt good to share a special meal with family.

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Our time spent with Ward and Wendy wasn’t overly eventful as the weather wasn’t the best, but in reality four kids and a new puppy keep a family tethered to home. Regardless, we had lots of quality family time and they both were extremely helpful around the house and with the kids.

Here Ward is puppy proofing our railing along with his assistant Ellinor.

Ward and Wendy made my life easier, accompanying me to school, waiting in the car so I could just jump out and grab the kids versus the usual, much longer, after school car routine. It’s the little day to day things that helped tremendously and lightened the four kid load I carry alone during the school day.  It was fun to share our Halifax life, even if that meant running Soren to hockey practice, taking a walk around the neighbourhood or squeezing in a girls only shopping trip to find Canadian things.

We were sad to see them leave, but thankfully, as we speak, my parents are en route to Nova Scotia.  It is their maiden voyage and I am sure we will cram in all the fun as well as celebrate Halloween, Ellinor’s 1st birthday, Thanksgiving and perhaps even Christmas.  Oh, and Soren and Sophie’s birthdays as well.  Why not?!?

Once my parents depart, I know I will need a trip back to the good ol’ USA.  I told Parker this has to happen, even if we drive to Maine, I need my American fix, especially at the holidays.

Teen

Wingardium Leviosa!” he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
“You’re saying it wrong,” Harry heard Hermione snap. “It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the ‘gar’ nice and long.”

J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Sophie is officially 13.

I am not quite sure where the time has gone or how we could possibly have a teenager, but I couldn’t more proud of our Soph.

She is still taking guitar lessons, joined the school choir, tried out and made the school musical and just started weekly theater classes.

Sophie loves everything Harry Potter and is navigating the teen years with kindness and a happiness that is both appreciated and admired.

We love you sweet Sophie Adele.

Love That Dog

Love that dog,
like a bird loves to fly
I said love that dog
like a bird loves to fly
Love to call him in the morning love to call him
“Hey there, Sky!”

~Sharon Creech, Love That Dog

Every year for my birthday and Christmas I would ask my parents for a puppy and each year I was denied my childhood  dream. I had to wait until I was twenty one years old to get a dog, but honestly it was well worth the wait.

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Princess Buttercup was the best gift ever and my loyal companion.  She was loving, smart and despite some of her health issues, the most amazing dog in the world.

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Our girls desperately wanted a puppy (I could relate), but I knew it would be awhile before we would get another dog. For one, our family wasn’t ready for a pet. Parker and I were both working and we lived in a great rental home by Windansea that didn’t allow pets. In the fickle rental market of La Jolla, you don’t leave a great house to get a dog and then hope to find a place to live. You hang tight, especially when the rent is low.  Additionally, I didn’t know if I wanted another dog because afterall, Buttercup would be hard to top.  There are also all the emotions that go with losing a pet.  For those that have had to put a pet to sleep, it is an awful process and I wasn’t sure I wanted to revisit that moment.

Flash forward to when we told the kids we were moving to Canada.  Sophie and Elsa burst into tears and Soren was completely confused.  Sophie cried tears of joy, excited for the new adventure, but Elsa felt betrayed, hurt and terrified.  In between sobs, Elsa begged if she could be homeschooled and then asked if we could get a dog.  Boom.  Parker, feeling deflated by Elsa’s emotions, assured her that yes, we would get a dog.

Know this, our agreement to get a puppy  wasn’t a flippant decision nor was it based solely on the sensitivity of that moment.  We knew that in moving to Canada, I wouldn’t be working and we would purchase a home, hence making it a perfect time to welcome a pet into our family.  I was also ready for another dog.  I missed the companionship and looked forward to having a pal to hang out with during my days home with Ellinor.  I wanted my kids to grow up with a pet and to have that unconditonal love and comfort only a dog can give.

We had anticipated it would be a good year or so before we would get a puppy, but our plans accelerated faster than expected and the girls and I set out to New Brunswick to pick up our pup last Sunday.  Despite the rain and gloomy, grey skies, it was a beautiful drive.  The trees had just started to change and the view of all the colours as well as the Bay of Fundy were wonderful to gaze upon as we drove seven hours, round trip, in the car.  We listened to podcasts and Spotify and enjoyed the quiet time together, chatting and sharing in what would be a very special moment.

So here she is!  Princess Pacifica Honeycrisp aka Honey.

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Pacifica is a nod to San Diego and Honeycrisp, being from Minnesota, an apple developed at the University of Minnesota and a Larson favorite.

Honey is a sweet dog, but she is a puppy which means it’s like adding a baby to the family.  She is doing well with potty and crate training, but does like to whine and cry at night. As much as I try to ignore it, I do find myself getting her out and letting her sleep on my chest.  I know this is a terrible habit so instead I have taken to snuggling with her at nap time.  I don’t take naps, but when you are up at night with a puppy, you nap, and when you do, you nap with Honey.

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I forgot how wonderful it is to have a dog back in the house. We already love her immensely.

 

Visitors

“It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just by something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.”

~ Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows

Jackie, Bryan, Owen and Addy came for a visit and we managed to cram a lot of fun into a short period of time.  It was a much needed dose of family and we are super grateful for their visit.

Like with any enjoyable time spent over a long weekend, Mondays can be quite the downer but Soren’s birthday brought brightness to an otherwise bleak day.  Cliche moment…I can’t believe he is 5 years old.

He requested balloons, a homemade strawberry cake, steak, french fries and a scavenger hunt for presents.

In all the hullabaloo, Ellinor turned 11 months.

She has four chompers, amazing flow and is still the sweetest bee ever.  Some of her fave activities include emptying the dishwasher as Parker loads it, sitting in the dishwasher, hanging on the fridge, following mom around and playing in the dog bed. We adore her.

Seven is sufficient

“There is such a thing as a tesseract.”

~Madeline L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

(If only tessering were an option when shuttling your children around)

Our daily household strategy is divide and conquer.  When it comes to bath time, feeding, bed time, homework, shopping and especially activities and sports, Parker and I disperse into different directions and take ownership of a kid (or two).

Weekdays aren’t as hectic and thankfully Sophie can babysit Ellinor on occasion, but weekends are a different story.  Even though our kids each choose one activity for the season or year, when you multiply this times three kids, your bound to have situations where you can’t be in two places at once.  We lucked out this year in that their games and practices don’t conflict too badly, but I dread the day when it does.  Hopefully by that time, Sophie will be driving (yikes!) and I will have found a reliable babysitter.

Usually, I am dance mom, but the other day I was able to take Soren to hockey practice.  Prior to leaving, Parker gave me a tutorial on how to put on the gear and even sent me a text for a visual reminder.  Once we got to the arena, Soren was very reassuring when it was time to get suited up and even offered me a few pointers.

While I was at hockey, Parker went to ballet class.  Thankfully, Elsa is self sufficient because I am not sure he could manage a ballet hair bun.  Parker always sticks around to watch and tells me stuff like “Elsa did really well at that jumping thing.” Noted.

Sophie hangs with Ellinor for the small window of time where one of us is running out the door and the other is driving back home, but in a few weeks she starts theatre class.  Ellinor is too little to do stuff, plus she is the fourth child so she doesn’t need anything, right?  Kidding…I did sign her up for a morning music class 🙂

Having a family of six takes a lot of planning and scheduling.  We all link our Google calendars and send invites on our phones.  Each morning, we talk about the day and I always make sure to text Parker a few times throughout. Routine and organization are essential.

Despite all this, our lives really don’t feel that rushed and we have lots of down time during the week, which is important. Maybe it’s because I am not working, but things are functioning at a slower pace than in San Diego.  I have toyed with the idea of working outside the home again, but then 2:30 pm hits and I realize I am crazy.  At this point in my life, at least for the next few years, I am 100% a stay-at-home mom.

Currently, we are getting geared up for three birthdays (Soren, Sophie and Ellinor) along with a handful of visitors.  In a few days, my sister Jackie and her family will be arriving and just a short week later, Parker’s parents Ward and Wendy are coming into town.  Once they head out, my parents will arrive for an extended stay.

To say we are excited is an understatement.  Up until now, my friend Alisha has been our only visitor and we are elated to know more people will be coming for a visit.  We can’t wait to share our new home and life with our friends and family.  Visitors are always welcome!

And just to make life a little more interesting, we will be adding a seventh family member come October. No, I am NOT pregnant…Somewhere in our flurry of guests and activities, the girls and I will be taking a road trip to New Brunswick to pick up our girl puppy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Pictures and name to come…

Until then, here are all the kids, cleaned up for school picture day.

And Ellinor in a shopping cart.

Hurry Up And Wait

“Sweet parking spot, Mom.”

~Sophie Larson

You would think after living in Nova Scotia for over nine months we would be ready for inclement weather. Nope. On a scale of 1 to 10, our weather preparedness the other morning was at San Diego Level 1.

The forecast called for rain and in searching our garage, I found two Disneyland rain ponchos and three umbrellas, one of which was broken. I also realized we had donated the rain cover for the stroller. Looking back, I specifically remember opening the box in San Diego and Parker and I both saying, “We will never need this…” just prior to dropping it at Goodwill.

So off to school we went…five people, two umbrellas and an exposed stroller ready to take on the rain.

Much to my surprise, we immediately found a parking spot near the school and I took one for the team, using the broken umbrella while Soren and Elsa shared the other. I ditched the stroller, strapped Ellinor into the Ergo, pulled up our hoods and was ever thankful the rain was nothing more than a drizzle.

As we walked I made a mental note of things we need:

1. Functioning umbrellas

2. Fall jackets with hoods (preferably waterproof)

3. Rain boots

4. Rain cover for the stroller

5. A chauffeur

Usually the kids and parents wait outside until the teachers let the students into the building, but today they were allowed into the school upon arrival. Whew.

After the drop off hugs and long goodbyes, Ellinor and I walked back to the car. The sprinkles had all but stopped and I felt silly for being so underprepared. After all, I grew up in Minnesota, for Pete’s sake.

I’m giving myself a pass on this one though because in Minnesota I only had to worry about myself. My “grown up” phase happened in California and I am trying to rewire my brain for life in a seasonal climate.

One thing I wish for (as an adult, sometimes your deepest desires can be pretty lame) is a car queue where we could pull up and dump, I mean drop, our kids off at school. As much as I love walking my kids and sending them off to their classroom, I’m going to dislike it when the weather gets cold and the snow starts to fall.

Like most moms, I spend a chunk of my day driving and waiting on kids in the car or as my friend Jean calls it, “The Fun Van.” Look at all the fun Ellinor is having!

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love living in a city, but that also means minimal parking (especially in a college town).

By the way, let me take a brief moment to discuss pedestrian behaviors in Halifax. This is the 2018 Canadian version of The Walking Dead, aimlessly shuffling about at a snails pace. Look, I understand pedestrians have the right of way, but this is a new extreme. Hopefully, they are all walking to their cars, which have taken up all the available parking locations.

Since living in La Jolla and now Halifax, I celebrate a good parking spot. I enjoy telling the kids, “Wait until you see where I parked!” I’m equally as proud when they excitedly approve and congratulate me. After all, a good parking spot benefits everyone; less walk to the car, a fast trip back home and in many cases, closer access to a desired location.

There are many times where I promise ice cream or lunch, but warn “If I don’t find a good parking spot, we are going back home.” Usually the kids snap to attention, glue their eyes out the window and actively point out potential spaces. At this point, I want that perfect spot because who wants to make dinner?