Quality Time

“You want to know what it’s like to have a fourth? Just imagine you’re drowning, and then someone hands you a baby.

~Jim Gaffigan

The biggest challenge in having four kids is finding time…there is never enough. Giving one child your undivided attention even for a short moment requires a balance that is sometimes hard to achieve.

As difficult as it can feel, Parker and I try our best to find solutions and carve out special time with each child.

In terms of special, I don’t mean anything extravagant…just putting in the time as we like to say. After all, our kids’ major love language is quality time.

Here’s some information on The Five Love Languages.

https://www.5lovelanguages.com

A note on this theory…I’ve never read the actual Love Language books but I have read plenty about it online and I have taken multiple tests which basically makes me an expert.

If you’re interested, my top love language is acts of service and Parker’s is physical touch. Opposites attract, although each of us would say quality time is a close second.

I’ve gone on a tangent but you get it; it’s important to have uncomplicated moments with your kids.

As I write this, Parker is traveling for work, my two oldest are sick, Soren wants me to look at the Minecraft house he built and Ellinor is kicking Soren in the face because she wants to be the only one near me on the couch.

Quality Time. It’s not as easy at it seems, but when it does happen, it’s the best.

Garage hockey and lifting pucks with Dad.

Going to the play place with Mom. I’d like to note the joy and enthusiasm Ellinor exhibited this day was heartwarming and also served as a reminder we need to get out more.

Not pictured:

Elsa and Mom watching cooking shows and cooking together.

Sophie and Dad watching all the best movies from the 80’s and 90’s.

If you’re wondering, Honey’s Love Languages are words of affirmation and physical touch.

Winter Days and Birthdays

“There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothes.”

Last year I felt really cooped up and longing for sunny, warm days. I made a rule for myself, if the temp was under 40 degrees (sorry Parker, 5 degrees Celsius), I wouldn’t partake in outdoor activities.

I see parents walking and biking with their bundled up children, trudging through the snow and rain and I am extremely impressed. I saw a guy the other day jogging in shorts! Although I admire their dedication, I am not there yet and not sure if I ever will be. As much as I like the idea of being a winter warrior, a toasty, two minute van ride to school is always going to win over a wet and miserable walk.

Also, the hockey arena needs to turn on the heat. When did I become such a wuss?

This all may sound dramatic, especially to those who grew up and live in a cold climate and I even shake my head sometimes. I lived in Minnesota until I was 23 years old, but 15 years in San Diego clearly made me soft.

It’s more than just cold weather and a lack of sun, the weather significantly and negatively affects my mood and how I perceive my life and I don’t like it. I’m trying to make a change because life still has to be enjoyed when it dips below freezing.

For starters, I bought some Vitamin D and I’m on the lookout for a light therapy box. I have also lowered my outdoor walk temperature threshold to 32 degrees (0 Celsius..nag, nag, nag Parker). Baby steps.

The other day, Elsa and I took Honey on a long walk and I walked to the chiropractor.

After each outdoor excursion, my head felt clearer and I was instantly in a better mood and more connected to my day. The cloudiness was lifted.

Oddly enough, I do enjoy shoveling and last Wednesday we had a wonderful snow day (no school or work) where there was lots of snow removal and playing outside.

Ellinor isn’t big into winter (the large coats and having to wear mittens) and this was her first real time playing in the snow.

Somehow we managed to get her into her gear and she loved it, even helping daddy shovel.

Parker took the big kids sledding.

It was a great winter day, the kind of cold I love.

I’m trying to be present and focus on things that bring me joy during January and February, like Soren losing his first tooth.

And Parker’s birthday.

I’ve been able to celebrate 21 birthdays with my best friend. A low key guy who just wants time with his family and a Dairy Queen cake to ring in his 41st birthday.

His patience and understanding for my winter struggles is unparalleled and I count myself blessed to have such a wonderful husband to hang tight with me, especially on these cold winter nights.

Happy Birthday Parker!

Anniversary

“Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.”

~Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy in Spite of Herself

Two years in Canada.

Although it’s been 730 days, it still feels like yesterday since we left San Diego for Halifax.

I never know how to properly put into words my feelings regarding our move, but I know despite missing America, we have come to love our time in Canada.

Our second year up north has brought lots of fun and has bonded our family even more so than before. We are a tight family unit.

This week we took our annual trip (you can call it that if you have done it twice, right?) to Maine.

About 10 minutes into the drive, we realized Ellinor now gets car sick. After the second barf (it took us a few times to realize we needed to remove the iPad), we cleaned her up where she spent the remainder of the ride singing, talking to her fingers, napping, snacking and dancing in her seat.

Post barf euphoria.

Although we drove through a nasty ice storm, I can happily report I did not hit a deer.

When you want to swim in the hotel pool, but it’s also winter.

The kids were excited to get away, but just as thrilled to arrive home. Home is a good thing.

The remainder of our vacation will be spent watching the World Junior Hockey Tournament πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ and putting away Christmas decorations πŸ₯΄.

Happy Anniversary Halifax.

Time flies…

Happy pre-Christmas melee! I always find the weeks leading up to the holidays to be disorienting and crazy. Every concert, recital and party seem to intersect and conflict, making it hard to find the joy in the season.

What keeps me sane is finally saying No. It’s exhilarating. Try it.

I skipped two holiday parties last week and felt like a rockstar. Sweatpants for life!

Yes, we are in full on holiday mode, so much so that I had to read my last blog to see what I had written about.

Oops!

Ward and Wendy spent 20 days in Halifax, immersed in our hectic schedule and serving up some major help.

Fence gate βœ”οΈ

Workbench βœ”οΈ

Two of the major projects completed and only just a sampling of the things accomplished. Our life may not be glamorous at times, but we appreciate the time spent doing dishes, cleaning the kitchen and picking the kids up at school. Having someone else around during the day to lighten the load was invaluable.

Oh, we also played lots of chicken foot (dominoes).

Did I mention I turned 40? The face of a woman who says no.

Soren got his hockey card πŸ’ πŸ₯œ 🧈

Sophie sang with her choral group…video pending teen daughter approval.

Elsa is loving her Nutcracker experience. Future Mouse Queen?

Ellinor is saying cute things like “oopsies,” giving kisses and randomly dancing to music. Here she is being a sweet little, sleeping baby.

On the day the Larson’s left, my mom came into town. She was thrown right into the mix and her help as well has been immeasurable, especially given Parker was out of town all week.

Mema does things mom don’t do, like taking Soren out to play in the snow at 7 pm.

We have also baked cookies, celebrated early Christmas and drove around looking at the lights.

We still have a few more days together, imagine all the fun we can cram in!

Hopefully I can squeeze in a Shutterfly session and pump out a Christmas card…or maybe it’s just another great thing to say NO to?

Last night in my thirties

“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”

~Antoine de Saint-ExupΓ©ry, The Little Prince

When I turned 20, my roommates celebrated by gifting me a bottle of Cabo Wabo Tequila (I had/have an obsession with Sammy Hagar). Surprisingly, I don’t remember much of that night (a common pattern in my career at the U of MN), but I do know I had fun!

In turning 30, I had a joint birthday party with two of my closest friends. I was also pregnant with Elsa. I wore a birthday ribbon. A huge contrast to my twentieth birthday.

It’s the night before I turn 40.

I loved my thirties immensely. I grew into myself during this decade, which makes me a little anxious to leave it behind.

As much as I am not ready to be 40, I am also excited for the next decade. I mean after all, Aaliyah said it best, “Age Ain’t Nothin’ but a Number.”

I really am Over The Big Hill (get it?).

A sleep story

“Clever Girl”

~Muldoon, Jurassic Park

If you read my last post, you would have discerned that both Ellinor and I were suffering from sleep deprivation.

I hit my breaking point Tuesday afternoon and finally put Ellinor in her big girl bed, kissed her goodnight and closed the door. There was some crying and complaining but faster than expected, she fell asleep.

Once the coast was clear, I crept into her room (doing the compulsive bedtime check all moms do) to find her snoring away.

Yes, that’s mommy shark looking straight into your soul.

I carefully transferred her back to the crib since we have yet to purchase a gate for the top of the stairs.

#highwaytothedangerzone

Prior to moving her each time, I have become obsessed with taking pictures of my sweet, snuggly baby.

Don’t worry, I moved the blanket.

Ellinor has yet to realize she can open her bedroom door but much like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, she WILL figure it out.

Like a true toddler, in less than four days, Ellinor went from being the most impossible child to the sweetest little girl in the whole world.

I can’t wait for potty training!

Sleepy Little Bee

“It’s time to sleep, little bee, little bee,

Yes I love you and you love me.”

~Mem Fox, Time For Bed

In our married life, Parker has traveled a fair amount for work. Especially when we lived in San Diego, he frequently flew to various destinations, often times overseas.

International travel means miles which equates to travel upgrades and also free flights. I can’t complain.

But…maybe I can a little bit πŸ™‚

For a long time, I have I learned the art of solo parenting. I figured out how to manage kids, work, activities and life all while having a husband who was thousands of miles away.

And then I had four kids.

Parker’s traveling is trickier more now than ever, given we have a house full of children. I find I have to let certain things go, manage less and cancel certain activities just to make our schedule work…and also to maintain my sanity.

When Parker is gone, life gets interesting. Like when your 2 year old decides to climb out of her crib and land on her head.

I snapped a picture. This is how you communicate when there is a 13 hour time difference between you and your husband.

Don’t worry, she was okay but her desire to vacate her crib meant it was time to sleep in the big girl bed…which she hated and therefore ended up sleeping in my bed.

I woke up at 5 am to someone touching my eye (spoiler, it was Ellinor). She hasn’t napped for four days…my sweet fourth child, my best and ONLY napper, is refusing her afternoon siesta.

Sleepy time use to be drop baby in crib, say I love you, talk to the stuffed animals, give kisses and BAM, Ellinor was asleep in two minutes.

Current bedtime routine which takes over an hour:

*baby gets on and off bed 10 times

*baby plays with light switches

*baby messes with hair products in the adjoining bathroom

*woah! I can run the bathtub faucet?

*baby comes back to mommy, reluctantly, and cries yet refuses to climb onto bed

*after 10 minutes of crying, baby gives in and hugs mommy for 5 seconds but stays on the bed

*baby reads books with mommy

*baby requires her special blanket touch all areas of her face

*mommy thinks baby is asleep, moves her arm

*baby wakes up

*back to blanket touching face

*mommy rubs baby’s arm for 20 min, pats baby and scratches her arms

*baby starts snoring

*mommy waits

*mommy slinks out of room and baby sits up and says “hi!”

*mommy gives baby the iPad

I’m sleep deprived and I have to say, I will take a newborn any day over a toddler who refuses to sleep.

Then there is the disorientation of daylight savings.

All showered and ready for bed at 2:00 pm.

Falling asleep at 5:30 pm. Is this a nap? Bedtime? I can’t wait to find out.

Terrific Two

Today our sweet 🐝 Ellinor Elizabeth turns 2 years old.

We started celebrating yesterday, given today we have school, work and activities. Oh, and it’s a Monday.

This picture sums up Ellinor’s feelings about birthdays.

Today will be spent at the local play place and lunch out with mommy. #sidekick

Happy birthday sweet girl! πŸβ€οΈπŸŽ‚

Back To Reality

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Last week, Parker and I were able to visit San Diego. Knowing it would be a quick trip, we flew my sister-in-law Rebecca to Halifax to stay with the kids.

Rebecca stepped in and managed all four kids, a dog and their schedule with ease and enthusiasm. We are grateful the kids had this special time with her and as Elsa put it, “basically it was the best time of my life.”

For months leading up to our trip, I was stuck in this barrel of emotions; a mix of excitement and apprehension. In going back to California, I would be acclimating back into my “old life” and would be left to sort through some major feelings. I was worried I would spend most of my vacation “feeling all the feels” instead of enjoying California with my husband.

Per usual, my preemptive overthinking was just that. I woke up everyday feeling renewed (except Sunday…post wedding hangover) and when I did cry, it was a cathartic release because memories after all are a good thing.

I am beyond grateful for my brief, but wonderful trip, which afforded me time to be with the people, places and things that bring me immense happiness.

See you in the spring!

We took a red eye flight and it felt great to be back home, with the kids and to hang with Rebecca before she left.

In the time that we were gone, Sophie turned 14!

She may be a teen, but she is still our kind, genuine, creative and sweet Sophie Adele.

Fall Round Up

The kids are settled into their new school year routines and I’m enjoying my time with Ellinor, making sure she gets the same experiences that her siblings did.

#fourthchild

She started Kindermusik.

Dancing to the beat of her own music also known as not participating.

Ellinor is also back at gym class, throwing somersaults like it’s nobody’s business and also waiting patiently for the teacher to blow bubbles.

Elsa is immersed in dance and enjoying her Nutcracker practices, making new friends and bonding with her cast mates. Being part of a Nutcracker production is truly a unique and special experience and one in which Elsa (and I) look forward to at the holidays.

Soren is back playing hockey with the Halifax Hawks and was lucky to snag jersey #7, just like dad.

Sophie is anxiously waiting for the announcement of the school musical and kicking butt in math class.

From now until December, our schedule is jam packed, but we managed to sneak away to Noggin’s Farm in the valley last weekend for apple picking, a hay ride and the corn maze.

Our obligatory fall photos that may or may not become part of the Christmas card.

Soren celebrated his 6th birthday (see previous post) and was lucky enough to have his two best friends over this weekend for glow in the dark mini golf, pizza and cupcakes.

Next up is Sophie’s birthday, a quick trip to San Diego (Betsy and Parker) and onto Ellinor’s 2nd birthday.

Life is hectic, but enjoyed and all this action helps us forget the temps are falling and winter is just around the corner.