Groundhog Day

“Okay campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties cause it’s cold out there…it’s cold out there every day.”

~Phil Conners, Groundhog Day

I haven’t felt that inspired to write lately as we have been hunkered down at home. Partly because it’s been too cold (not like the polar vortex that just passed through Minnesota) and also because I’ve been tending to sick kids.

Elsa spent much of last week home with the stomach flu, which turned into a nasty cold all topped off with an insane nose bleed on Friday. Tis the season for the crud as most teachers and parents of young children will attest.

Ellinor loved having Elsa home and I enjoyed it as well. We spent much of our time binge watching The Great British Baking Show.

Okay, so a biscuit is a cracker and pudding is bread? Wait, no pudding is a cake?

We are well into season three and we know more then we will ever need to about proofing dough. Good bake!

It’s Saturday and Elsa is still under the weather, but our weekend plans are limited to sitting indoors, so no worries. Again, it’s cold.

Our letter board correctly expresses how we, especially me, feel at the moment.

While we wait out winter, Soren continues to embrace the ice and cold. He is progressing in CanSkate, completing Level 1 and checking off some skills in Level 2. When he got off the ice with his patch and ribbons he told me, “Oh my gosh mom…I totally wrecked it!”

He also got his rookie card in hockey.

Meanwhile, Sophie is preparing for her school musical (Fiddler on the Roof) where she is in the chorus and Elsa is gearing up for ballet exams. All fun things that help winter pass by.

Aside from shuttling the kids around, Parker is busy at work and I’m trying to find a hobby. I need something that bides my time when Ellinor naps that doesn’t require a vast amount of artistry, can challenge my brain and also keep me occupied and fulfilled for an extended period of time. A task that has proved somewhat difficult…

Maybe I should start a baby fashion blog. Seriously, who wore it better?

Tuesday

“And a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”

~Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon

Parker drove our van back from Maine today and got home just after dinner. We were thrilled to have her back in the driveway…oh, and we were happy to see Parker too. 😉

Best dad ever…he brought back provisions from Trader Joe’s.

My kids could live off freeze dried fruit.

While I began the task of cleaning up the kitchen (happens probably fifteen times a day), I looked over and saw my tired and sick little 🐝.

She left the sweetest drool mark on the couch. Good thing the upholstery is kid friendly.

Once Ellinor was tucked into bed, I realized we still had to install the new Canadian car seat into the van.

In hitting the deer, our insurance company required that we purchase a new car seat. Our “old” seat (we just purchased it this summer) was supposedly damaged goods and we were told to cut the straps and discard the seat, sending it on it’s way to the landfill.

If we wanted to go one step further, we could take the advice of the cult I mean, website, Car Seats For Littles where people recommended a person drive over the seat with their car so no one else will try to refurbish and use it. I mean after all, car seats expire…that thick, hazardous plastic which will exist on this planet for the next 100 years (or more) is expiring as we speak. I’m anxious just thinking about it!

Here I am beginning the car seat install. I’m so thankful that every country has their own rules and regulations for car seat safety.

What the eff is this bar?

We have a heated garage, but once I lugged this monstrosity outside, I realized why I hated today; it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Despite starting the car and blasting the heat, my fingers still felt like they were going to fall off, as I clumsily hung halfway out of the van door trying to figure out the nuances of this Canadian seat, aided only by the flashlight on my phone and the dome light in the car. With Parker’s help, I managed to get it installed, but not before becoming an unhinged lunatic.

We came back into the house and found the kids snacking on dried fruit…not even remotely ready for bed. I gave them the look and off they scattered to brush their teeth. There is no arguing with a woman who has lost feeling in her fingers.

Our bedtime routine took forever and like always, involved Soren and Elsa passing out wherever, at which point we transferred them to their beds once we were certain they were asleep. For two highly organized and regimented people, we have never successfully managed a solid bedtime routine with any of our children.

Up until 10 pm on a school night? Sure!

Snacks after teeth have been brushed? Why not?!

Staying up late to watch an important TV show, like Big Brother? You know it!

Parents falling asleep before children? Heck yeah!

Little kids sleeping on our floor or at the end of our bed? Sensational!

Parker is sound asleep after driving nearly 12 hours by himself, Honey is snoring next to me and I hear Ellinor stirring. I’m going to close my eyes and will myself to sleep knowing a school day morning comes faster than most. Goodnight Tuesday.

Milestones

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”

~William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I still remember my dads’s 30th birthday party. Not sure why this is such a vivid memory, but I recall lots of happy (probably slightly drunk) adults having a great time, partying in our garage. I think there was a keg; I’ll have to confirm with my parents 🙂 Thirty seemed so old to me that day and then when they turned forty? Stop! Honestly, it was probably all the black balloons and talk about being over the hill that made me worry about being middle aged and growing older.

Now as an adult, the notion of thirty and even forty being old seems silly. I’d take thirty something Betsy any day over Betsy in her twenties. She has better style sense, is way more laid back, content and has a better understanding of her self.

I still have one year to forty, but today Parker is the birthday boy, celebrating the big 4-0. I really enjoyed buying this balloon. Lordy, lordy look who’s forty!

This weekend we did some early celebrating with Guiby and Eric. The highlight of the night was finishing our puzzle. #oldpeoplefun

On Saturday, Parker and I went out to dinner at our favorite hour, 5:30, enjoying a much needed date night, which hasn’t happened since our Anniversary in August. C’est fou!

The rest of the weekend was spent running kids to dance, hockey and taking millions of pictures of Ellinor sleeping.

We settled into our Sunday, cleaning up the kitchen for the 20th time that day, when suddenly Soren started screaming and crying in agony. We aren’t really sure what happened. We think he slipped and fell on the floor and somehow hurt his forearm and was unable to move it.

Thankfully, the ER is only a two minute drive from our house.

Seven hours later and a handful of traumatic X-rays for which Soren may never forgive me, the doctors couldn’t find a bone break. He was in a lot of pain and still wasn’t able to move his arm but they finally determined he had a pulled elbow (dislocation). The treatment? Reset the arm 😬🤭. Despite the trauma and discomfort with the reset, he instantly felt better and could move without pain.

We moseyed home at 2:30am and fell asleep at 3am, which is why the kids and I slept in and took a mental health day. Soren’s arm is sore and he’s tired, but he feels immensely better. We are grateful nothing was broken, as Soren would have been miserable without hockey.

Given our hectic evening/early morning, Parker opted to order food in, eat DQ cake and relax.

Happy birthday old man.

Ice Ice Baby

“The legs feed the wolf”

~Herb Brooks

The kids had their second snow day of the school year and by snow day I really mean weather day. It snowed heavily, then warmed up and we had ice and lots of rain. I was grateful for a day off. I had been up with Ellinor at 3 am (teething), saw the snow falling and all I could think of was I do not want to drag my kids out in that tomorrow. Please save me.

As I poorly attempted to get Ellinor back to bed, I thought back to the excitement of snow days growing up in Minnesota. A snow day was hard to come by because as soon as the first snowflake hit the pavement, the plows were out in full effect.

Like all kids, I just prayed the snow would be blowing and drifting so school would be canceled. I would wake up, turn on the television and watch the school cancelation ticker at the bottom of the screen, hoping Lakeville would pop up.

Lac Qui Parle Valley…

Le Center…

Noooooo!

Nowadays, we get an early morning text, email and tweet from the school district notifying about a school closure. Parker was up before me and let me know school was canceled and that I could go back to bed. At this point Ellinor (who had finally passed out in our bed) was wide awake and her diaper had leaked all over me, my pillow and side of the bed. I wasn’t going back to sleep anytime soon.

I’m thankful for this unexpected day off because January is the longest month ever and this is how I currently feel.

Other than Parker’s birthday, January is the worst (February is a close second). It’s a long haul from now until spring break at which point I don’t anticipate the weather to be much better.

So when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade or in our case life gave us ice, so we made a hockey rink.

This rink is completely accidental and actually not a good thing (the builder needs to regrade our backyard) but it’s there so why not use it.

Soren especially seems to love winter the most because it means all things hockey. This last weekend he played in his first “tournament” at the Scotiabank Centre where the Halifax Mooseheads play.

He had two games and I was able to make the first one of the day. I love doing the hockey mom thing because really all I need to do is kick back, watch Soren have fun and enjoy a hot tea.

It brings me joy to see Parker and Soren bonding over hockey and palling around together…that makes January tolerable.

Swipesy

“I play songs that have only the pattern of myself in them and you hum along supporting me. You are the companion to myself.”

~Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust

We enjoyed our last few days of vacation, celebrating New Year’s Eve at home with fondue and a sick Ellinor.

She managed to join us for dinner and listen to Soren’s thorough fondue tutorial. The sticks are for stabbing the food and it’s really fancy in case you were wondering.

New Year’s Day brought a snow storm.

As excited as Soren and I were to shovel (I’m serious about that), I was just as stoked to take down the Christmas decorations. I love Christmastime, but once the New Year hits, I am ready for a clean slate. Plus, taking down decor on the first means I have five sets of hands to help. All part of my master plan…

Taking down the decorations meant finally having a reason to hang pictures in the house. We are going on close to nine months since we moved in so I guess it’s about time.

In hanging pictures, we realized we needed to up our Ellinor picture game. Some of her frames may or may not be blank. Her siblings benefitted from a great photographer and even more amazing friend in California (Rachel), which means artsy beach shots and stellar headshots galore. I wonder if this one will work for Ellinor?

One my favorite things to put up was framed sheet music of my late grandma Audrey. Grandma was many wonderful things, one of them being an accomplished piano player. Her favorite musical style was ragtime and I have vivid and special memories of her sitting at her large brown piano, playing her favorites or taking our requests. Even when she played classical music, it still had that syncopated rhythm and upbeat feeling that you get from ragtime. I’m grateful three of my four children got to hear and watch GG play piano and dance around in her living room.

I framed the song Swipesy by Scott Joplin because that is always the song I hear when I think of grandma.

Today marks the one year anniversary of her passing and I have listened to this song a handful of times. I can still picture her hands bouncing on the keys and floating back and forth between the octaves.

Incidentally, I went grocery shopping with Soren and Elsa today. Without thinking, I grabbed two Diet Cokes from the fridge (cut me some slack…I’ve been up late with a sick kid). I set them on the counter and asked the clerk to keep one out for me to drink. He said, “Do you want to be Sarah today or Audrey?”

Elsa gasped and we both smiled! Love you grandma.

We spent most of the day being lazy as our vacation, like most everyone, has come to and end.

Post Christmas blues or sick baby?

I wrapped the evening up with Ellinor at the doctor and yes, she has an ear infection. Here is to hoping the meds kick in and we all sleep well because the morning alarm as been set once again [insert huge fart noise here].

Canadian Anniversary

“Our lives can hold just so much. If they’re filled with one thing, they can’t be filled with another. We ought to do a lot of thinking about what we want to fill them with.”

~Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy Was a Junior

Our time spent in Portland went too quickly, but we sure had a wonderful time. We haven’t seen our good friends Tim, Natalie, Kia and Calli in awhile so it was a treat to spend almost three whole days together. Thank you for showing us around Maine and we can’t wait to come back and visit.

During our trip, Parker and I managed a quiet moment to ourselves, even if it was in the hotel bar. Afterward we met up with our friend Jackson.

Being with good friends brings immense joy.

Obviously, the girls and I did plenty of shopping, Target being at the top of the to-do list.

Good thing we like to joke around as Elsa had fun torturing me…”look mom, your worst nightmare.”

Here we are being tourists and took a family picture by the boot.

Our trip back was uneventful and although I was a little more alert and tense when I saw a deer or moose crossing sign (which is basically the entire drive), we made it back just in time for Ellinor to throw up all over me. In all my years of dealing with sick kids, this was by far the worst barf session I have ever experienced…and felt…and smelled.

Despite barfageddon, we all miraculously managed to sleep in, although Ellinor has spent much of her day like this:

Incidentally, today marks our one year anniversary having moved to Canada. I’m feeling a multitude of emotions that I don’t entirely know how to express in words, so I will share this picture of our kids right before we left San Diego and another of our first New Year’s Eve in Halifax.

Happy New Year!

Road Trip

“Doe a deer. A female deer.”

Learning to drive in Minnesota really prepares you for driving life. Before I got my license, I practiced driving on ice, in snow and other unenjoyable road conditions so much that with all my practice, and like all Minnesotans, I became quite the seasoned driver. Snowstorm? Not a problem. Freezing rain? Please.

Another thing you have to worry about are animals, more specifically, deer. My dad’s advice still resonates with me, “Don’t swerve. Don’t try to brake. Hit the deer.”

Into my adult life, I often recalled this advice and have used it in practice. For example, I once mowed over a mother duck and her ducklings. As horrific as it was, and that I did it and in front of an entire bus of cheerleaders, everyone was safe and we made it out unscathed — the same cannot be said for the ducks.

In moving to Canada, Parker and I both have adjusted back to winter driving. It didn’t take long before we felt comfortable and ready to take on a road trip to Maine.

On Boxing Day (note: I’m in Canada now and Boxing Day is totally a thing here so I’m referring to it as such), we packed up and headed out at 4:30am for Portland, Maine with four kids and a puppy. The Larson road warriors.

The driving conditions were perfect. It was cold, but clear roads, sunny skies and no inclement weather. Ellinor was behaving (she’s the primary wild card at this point) and Honey was happy to be rotating laps for snuggles and nap time.

We stopped off in New Brunswick at a McDonald’s for a quick bathroom break, breakfast and for Ellinor to steal our hash browns.

We crossed over the border, which was exciting. Our next stop was in Bangor, Maine where we stuffed ourselves with Chick-Fil-A nuggets (or “nuggies” as we call them), gassed up and headed on our way. The road trip was going wonderfully; happy kids, content dog, clear and open roads and we were only 1.5 hours from Portland.

And then we hit a deer. More specifically, I hit the deer with our van. It was a big one, dead on and at full speed on I-95 South.

Two large deer moseyed onto the freeway. No braking, no swerving, I took my dad’s advice and hit the second one, possibly clipping the first. I can’t be for certain as it happened so fast. I was able to glance to my left and see one deer bounding into the woods and the other deer, unmoving, in the deep ravine.

I managed to stay calm and pull the car to the side of the road. Parker got out, assessed the damage and immediately told me to shut off the car as things were leaking and the car was smoking.

I cried. It was a jarring moment and we were all in shock. Also, it’s a slightly unnerving feeling knowing you’re stuck in an unknown area of Maine, in the cold, along a busy freeway with four kids. I’m just thankful that no one was hurt.

After phone calls to AAA, the state police, the insurance company and a local car rental agency, a tow truck came and the state trooper helped us formulate a plan. He gave the thumbs up for the tow truck to tow us in the van to the nearest car rental place to get a new vehicle. I’m grateful for their patience and for making sure we were taken care of.

Our kids though loved the tow truck ride, except Soren, he fell asleep while we sat and waited along the roadside. He told the employee at Enterprise that “hitting a deer was the most boring thing ever.”

We got a rental van, made it to our hotel in Portland, and our insurance company took over, where we currently await the verdict.

This trip to Maine was about spending time with good friends and shopping. Happily, we already spent yesterday evening with the Glinatsis family. It felt good to be with people that you have known for years and also to drink away any stress associated with the car.

We all crashed early (no pun intended) and woke up refreshed and renewed. Elsa, Sophie and I left the hotel after breakfast and walked around Old Port, discovering the Athleta, Anthropologie and West Elm shopping trifecta. We visited some fun local shops, grabbed donuts and met back up with the Parker, Soren and Ellinor.

And that is where we are. We have managed lunch and now the kids are swimming. It is almost as if nothing happened. We have a resilient group.