Parenthood
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Maria and Erika are staying with us for a couple of weeks (well - eleven days to be precise).


We were a little nervous about the prospect of doubling the number of children in the house and all the extra logistics. Turned out we didn't need to worry at all - the kids got along well and our visitors were a credit to their parents. Even a bout of illness causing Erika to throw up for a couple of days - pretty much our worst nightmare - wasn't too bad.  She's one pretty independent eight year old capable of climbing out of her bunk in the middle of the night to throw up in the toilet without even needing to wake anyone up. She mainly didn't need looking after - though of course we tried! - just wanted space to sleep and read her book. Most importantly: No one else got sick! I am very much looking forward to my children becoming more independent when they are ill...


Here's what our school day schedule looked like:


6:45 am Played Raffi's Rise and Shine through our phone system / baby monitor. I can't believe it took me all year to think of using an alarm, as not only did the girls get up and get dressed ALL BY THEMSELVES every single morning but Elizabeth has continued to do this ever since her cousins went home!  Then they ate breakfast and we did our morning routine. The girls were so efficient they even had time to play a bit in the morning. Towards the end they started doing piano practise in the morning so as to have more time to play in the evening.

8:10 am Everyone out the door to wave Elizabeth off at the bus stop

8:30 am Bundled remaining kids into the van and drop to their school

11:30 am Picked Maria back up from school

3:30 pm Picked Erika up from school

4:10 pm Parked the van and herded the kids out to pick up Elizabeth from the bus stop

4:30 - 5:00 pm Supper!

Then some time for piano practice, reading practice / homework and play! When it stopped raining the kids had a chance to play with the next door neighbour kids

7:00 pm Bedtime. We read a chapter of Mary Poppins every night before bed. In retrospect I would choose a shorter book next time - turns out that although it only has twelve chapters (which seemed quite doable) some of the chapters are MUCH longer than others.



   



We subscribe to the theory that a car is an expense (not an asset!) and therefore we always lease our vehicles. Every three or four years that means a new car with a low risk of breaking down and new safety features. Sometimes I'm more than ready for a new vehicle. This time I had mixed feelings, because although I have spent the last four years being annoyed by the Golf's entertainment system - it turns out it was WAY better than anything currently on the market.


I was seriously tempted by the Ford Flex because its entertainment system was not as objectionable as any of the others but eventually Honda's minivan won us over with the ability to transport a 10' piece of lumber with the trunk closed. This might not be a crucial feature for most people, but I guess that tells you something about our lives at the moment!


The new car also has eight seats and a decent sized trunk. Apparently it can even handle up to five car seats. So clearly we need to take all of the cousins for a ride somewhere soon! The day we picked up the car Erika and Maria came to visit us for nearly two weeks and it was super handy not having to make multiple trips or borrow a second car.


Although getting a van was Brendan's idea - he was tired of not being able to sit in the passenger seat comfortably due to the positioning of the various car seats - there was a lot of angst about being practical instead of cool. He decided he liked the van on the way home from the dealership. Might have had something to do with his wife insisting we stop first at Home Depot to pick up a few supplies (10 bags of mulch, some plants, some lumber...) followed by Costco and Bulk Barn...


Elizabeth's favourite part is the automatic open/close of the door as it means she can now unclip and get out of the car all by herself (she can get in too!) She is so proud! My favourite part might be that you do not need to take your keys out of your pocket to open, start or lock the car.  I've asked Brendan to look into figuring out how to make that work for our house.



   



The kids continued to "help" me get ready to plant the garden today. It was warm enough that we were able to eat outside for the first time this year. Our deck furniture is still frozen to the ground under the deck; but we weren't about to let that little detail stop us!


We practice piano as part of our evening routine - since September Elizabeth has only missed a handful of days - mostly due to illness. Matthew always wants to help, although Elizabeth usually insists on taking separate turns.




   



We missed church because Matthew has pink eye and we thought we'd better get it checked out.


Elizabeth was not pleased to miss Sunday School but we made it up to her by going to Home Depot for a ride in the orange carts. And then she got to go to Sunday School after all at Auntie Janice's church - which is in the evening!



   



I picked Elizabeth from school today as I normally do on Fridays (the bus doesn't get home in time to get to music class). We waved to her classmates, climbed into the car and then she casually said: "I got bitten by a squirrel at school today."


<CUE MAMA FREAKOUT> <INSERT VISIONS OF RABIES SHOTS ETC HERE>


"Really?" I said. "Where?" "On my leg", she said. I immediately started rolling up her trousers. "No silly" said Elizabeth. "It was on my thigh and my pants won't roll that high. But anyway it didn't hurt."


"What happened to the squirrel?" I asked. "Mr D picked it up by the tail and threw it in the garbage." "Was it dead? How could it bite you if it was dead?" I asked, my anxiety ratcheting up another notch. "It wasn't dead when it bit me. It got dead when Mr D put it in the garbage." she explained casually.


Alarming, right? I went back to the school, reluctant child in tow. Had she made it up? Was there in fact a squirrel?? Time to go locate a second opinion. At the school, teacher tells me that yes, there was a squirrel. It was a baby. Elizabeth and Adi were PETTING IT. She made Adi wash her hands, but Elizabeth didn't have to because she was wearing gloves. She was pretty sure that Elizabeth didn't get bitten, but asked "Est-ce que l'écureuil t'a mordu?" "Non" said Elizabeth clearly.  The principal tells me that there had been a squirrel hanging around early in the day and so she'd follow it up because it was strange to have two. Teacher tells me that squirrel was released next door. There is no mention of it being dead in the garbage can. I'd checked that there was no visible bite mark and we're going to be late for music, so I decided to leave it at that.


In the car, I ask "Why did you tell Mommy the squirrel bit you, but you told your teacher the squirrel didn't bite you?" She answers "Mordu doesn't mean BITE Mommy". Oh.


I get tantalizing bits and pieces through repeated interrogation. I call Adi's mom and get a little more. All the kids were chasing the squirrel. The squirrel was hiding. Adi charmed the squirrel out of the hiding place by singing Frozen to it. Because that's how you charm dolphins in Florida. Then they could pet it. Then it ran over Elizabeth's criss-crossed legs. That's when Elizabeth thought it could have bitten her, but she did say she figured it was just trying to get away. Then Mr D grabbed it by the tail and Adi had to wash her hands. She didn't actually see what happened to the squirrel.


After music class, the neighbourhood kids gathered to play. My lovely neighbour works at CHEO and emailed one of the infectious diseases doctor there to see whether we should freak out. Turns out that in general squirrels do not carry rabies and there has never been a squirrel related case in Canada. Could worry about tetanus, but we already know Elizabeth is fine there, especially after last week's health shenanigans.


Well. I learned something today. We are sooo ready for the kids to be well.



   

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