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“Three year old boy.” Once upon a time those words meant nothing to me, but now…Gregory has permanently changed that. He’s going to be four next month. His personality: alternately sweet and stubborn, exasperating and heart-melting.

Washing his car. Industry is one of his favorite occupations.

Still doesn’t know how to blow his nose.

Loves to organize my kitchen drawers, and he’s good at it.

Also loves sawing with his dad’s Leatherman, any other tools, and helping us with any work outside.

Can’t say Rs or Ls or THs.

*** *** ***

The other morning, while climbing into his chair and worried that the maple syrup would soak into his pancake before he got a chance to spread it around: “Uh. UH. UH.”

Me: Quit fussing.

Him: I’m not fussing, I’m GWOANING.

*** *** ***

Last night, at 1:30: Mommy. Mommy. MOMMY. (What?) I’m hot. (pull the quilt down.) Okay, just weave it wike dat.

1:37: Mommy. MOMMY. (What?) His elbow hurts, please kiss it. Also his window shade needs to be pulled down a half inch. Okay, dat’s good.

1:48: Fake sobs. (What?) His thumb hurts, and his back is so hot when he wies on it, but when he wies on his side, den his wegs hurt. He needs cooler jammies. (No you don’t. Warning parental glare: don’t call me in here again.)

1:55: Whimpers. (WHAT?) I didn’t call you. But my tummy’s hurting. (Do you need to go potty?) Yes. Slowly gets up. Stares down the hall. Stands in the bathroom. Scratches armpits. Scratches butt. Stares vacantly at the wall. (GET DONE.) Goes potty, goes back to bed, goes back to sleep.

(Mommy lies awake with her old friend insomnia until 5:00.)

*** *** ***

Bronwyn: Gregory, what’s your favorite restaurant?

Him: Talize.

Hahahaaa…it’s a secondhand store where he knows good treasures come from.

*** *** ***


When Bronwyn was about two months old, we took her on a road trip south to see my family. Before this, Gabriel and I liked taking road trips together. Chatting, listening to audio books or music, he teaching me how to drive a standard transmission–it was all good fun.

Enter a newborn who didn’t like her car seat. So much to pack. Driving on little sleep. Trying not to wake anyone else in the house when she cried at night. Stopping for an hour to feed her (we soon abandoned that practice in favour of getting to our destination within the same decade.) Our entire trip revolved around this baby and her myriad, constant needs. These new parents were stressed out by the time they got home. I told someone that while I used to like travelling, doing it with a baby is a whole different ballgame. That trip scratched my travelling itch for a long time.

Last month, Gabriel and I again took a road trip south. We were going to sing at our friend’s wedding in Pennsylvania, and because it would be a quick trip, we left the two oldest kids at home and took two-month-old Nicholas.

Let me tell you: it was SO MUCH FUN. No tantrums, potty accidents, or whining. So little to pack. Uninterrupted adult conversation while the angelic baby slept in his car seat. Listening to books by P. G. Wodehouse instead of Thornton W. Burgess. Only one kid to keep track of at the wedding. We felt so free!

And that is what a change in perspective can do.

The Free Parents

The Free Parents

It’s been quiet here this winter and spring. I think part of the reason is that we created this blog to document our adventures in Ireland, and now we aren’t there anymore. Gabriel finished vet school last November (we still can’t believe it sometimes, or express how grateful we are to the Lord for that). Since then, our lives have been blessedly ordinary. We’re thankful for this season, but somehow I’ve had trouble writing about it, or haven’t bothered. 

Another reason I’ve been slow to post is that I don’t know the future of this blog yet, since the church we belong to has Firm Rules about the purposes and uses of the internet, and blogging isn’t one of them. 🙂 But until we come to a decision about that, I’ve decided to write here and there about our lives. I’ve missed that, and missed the interaction with you, the reader.

Did you know we’re expecting a baby in less than three weeks? It’s what’s uppermost in my mind right now. Because of moving across the ocean, we didn’t bring a lot of baby items back with us. So it’s been fun to hunt for used baby furniture and accessories. It lulls me into feeling prepared to be the mom of a newborn and two preschoolers before all the craziness descends. 🙂

What’s been happening in your life recently?  Any plans for the summer? I’d love to hear.

I’ll be honest, one of the things I was happiest to leave behind when we moved to Ireland was my vegetable garden. It was also the thing I was dreading about moving back to southern Ontario. I mean, I love the fresh vegetables, but preserving (canning, freezing, etc.) them looked big to me.

(I know how pathetic that could sound to someone who has multiple gardens and many children and who makes a year’s worth of butter at a time. Let’s just say I didn’t learn as much about housekeeping as I could have while growing up because duh, I had better things to do! Like reading The Babysitter’s Club and looking at my ankles and wondering when they’d become slender like the big girls’. And also because I was lazy and had no interest in learning things like Useful Life Skills.)

Last Friday both proved my fears and made me kick their butts, too. 

My neighbor had lots of fresh sweet corn, so at 9:00 I hauled the kids over there and we picked about three bushel. I processed corn all day, and at 9:00 that evening, I finished cleaning up the kitchen.

In those twelve hours:

-Gabriel’s car broke down on the way to work, and I had to pick him up. 

-The children got a bottle of body wash and drizzled it over the living room carpet and the couch.

-Bronwyn did number 2 in her panties.

-Gregory did number 1 on the floor.

-I had to run back into town to get more freezer bags, plus do other daily duties like cooking, which I would love to forgo but somehow we still, always, need to eat.

Seriously, just typing this almost makes me cry. Sometimes the combination of motherhood and housekeeping makes me feel like, if I were in a book, the author would be having an evil belly laugh right now. I hope someday I’ll feel like laughing about it, too.

In the meantime, I admit it’s good to know I can tackle big jobs like that and get them done, even if it literally takes me all day. 

The other day I had loads of things to do. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, getting the guest room ready for much-anticipated guests (Gabriel’s brother and sister-in-law who arrived yesterday — yay!). But the sun was shining, the children were grumpy, and I decided the only thing to do was take them outside while I did some work on the roses.

I snipped off old blooms and tied up new branches to the lattice. The sun shone warm on my back, and the children cheered up immediately. In the middle of smelling a new bloom, I thought of our dear pastor and the threatening storm he and his family are facing. And I thought, How is this fair? That I’m smelling roses in the sunshine with my happy children, while he and his family are facing such a trial?

I think God whispered to me what came next: “It’s not fair. But you are called to care for your family here, for my glory. They are called to face those storms there, for my glory.”

You better believe I smelled those roses as deeply as I could. And prayed as hard as I could for the ones facing that storm in Vermont.

All for God’s glory.

Gabriel is enjoying rotations so far. He’s had two weeks of equine medicine at the hospital at the university, and now he’s in a week of small animal medicine at the same hospital. He says if they have an intern who takes his/her teaching responsibility seriously, they learn a lot and don’t have much down time. If they have an intern who doesn’t do that, the students spend a lot of time standing around (frustrating). This week he’s under an intern who is good at teaching.

There were only two students on this rotation, and the other one got sick. That means that Gabriel is down to work Saturday and Sunday as well, but hopefully they won’t be full days.

This week his hours are weird: 12:00 noon to 9:00 or 10:00pm. We like having him around in the mornings, but I miss him at supper and the children’s bedtime (why does everything get crazy from 5:00 until bedtime?).

He’s figured something out: if he cycles to school it rains. If he drives, it’s sunny. So he’s been driving lately, and everyone is happy. 🙂

In these warm(er) sunny afternoons, I’ve been taking the children to the park across the road. We stroll around, Bronwyn wearing her sunglasses and Greg soberly chewing on the straw of a sippy cup. We check out the fountains and the nature study room that has a big fish tank, crayons and paper, and stuffed animals. Bronwyn ducks into the courtyard cafe a few times to beg for ice cream, and her mean mom drags her out. We smile at other people out doing the same thing we are: soaking up the precious sunshine while it’s here.

Yesterday on our way out to the park, the neighbor kids came running down the sidewalk towards me. “Will you come to our sale?” When I got there, they threw offers at me like candy: ten cents for this, twenty for that, I think that’s free. They were selling their toys for charity, they said. I bought a set of really cute wooden people for fifty cents. When I came back on my way home, they had a sign taped to the tree that read: Please come to our sale, it is for charity so please come to our sale. Aww.

I went for groceries at Lidl this morning, and guess what I saw in the car park: a Tim Horton’s delivery truck. For a brief brief moment I was homesick for Ontario. 

Both of our next-door neighbors are on holidays at the moment. I guess tonight would be a good time to break out the ukulele and the campfire songs. 

If you want to, leave a note telling us how your summer is going so far. (Unless it includes swimming. Then you can just slink off.)

I’ve been gently reminded by my husband that it really isn’t Christian to say you hate anybody, even if you meant it to be cheeky and not seriously. So if you live in a place where you can buy frozen southern biscuits, I don’t really hate you, and I’m sorry for saying I did. Maybe the next time you pop some in the oven you could pray that I would learn how to be more honest and diplomatic and less of a drama queen. 😛

“It is a good thing to be without a trouble; but it is a better thing to have a trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it.” -Spurgeon

I read that quote on a blog the other day. I think it sums up the experiences of this summer for me. At the beginning, I couldn’t imagine how I was going to care for my one-year-old while she’s in a body cast or a brace during the last four months of my pregnancy. It looked impossible, and I won’t deny there were tears and discouragement and prayers for energy to carry her up the stairs once again. But I did find grace for those days. It was there when I needed it, and it was enough. Even better, I know the Person behind the grace better than I did at the beginning of the summer.

I hope that encourages your Wednesday morning! If you want some lovely, inspirational reading, head over to the blog where I read the Spurgeon quote:

We are back from holidays. Here’s what kept us so busy (and silent on this blog):

Tuesday after Christmas: We left home at 5:00am to catch a flight to America. Our taxi driver was half an hour late picking us up, and there were no others out on our street at that hour, which caused us quite a bit of fuming and fretting, but it all worked out. We flew from Dublin to Frankfurt, and then took an 8+ hour flight to Washington, and then another hop to the tiny airport near my parents’ home. So good to see Mom and Dad again and sleep in my old yellow bedroom.

Wednesday: Jet-lagged to the utmost, we drove 11 hours to Pennsylvania where my two sisters and their families were going to be together for a day and half. The trip went surprisingly well, and it was fantastic to be together with my sisters again.

Friday: Still jet-lagged, we drove down to Virginia where Gabriel’s family was visiting relatives for New Year’s weekend. We SHOCKED their SOCKS off by walking in on them that evening. We snuck in the back door and sent Bronwyn into the dining room with one of her older cousins. Funnily enough, neither Gabriel’s dad nor his little sister recognized her. I guess she was too out of context—how could she be there when she was supposed to be an ocean away? It was all great fun, especially when we walked around the corner and they realized it actually was Bronwyn they were seeing.

Monday: We drove down to my parents’ place in South Carolina to stay for a week and a half. Gabriel helped them get set up with a computer at their store and both of us helped out there as we could. I partied a lot with my friends and didn’t feel guilty about leaving Bronwyn three evenings while we were there. Gabriel and I celebrated our third anniversary (that was in December) by going out for dinner one evening BY OURSELVES, since my mom was so willing to babysit and all. Another night I went for Mexican food with a bunch of girlfriends. We stayed at the restaurant until it was ready to close and then some of us went to the local coffee shop until it closed. I think we must have all been glad to get out for an evening! Mom and I also did some shopping one day. (Two things I miss the most about America are the easily accessible, cheap stores, and the ability to wash, dry, fold and put away a week’s worth of laundry in one day. Did I ever have fun doing laundry there!)

While we were in SC, we got six inches of snow dumped on us. That hardly ever happens there; in fact, in the thirty years my family has lived there, only one other winter saw a worse storm than this one. The schools were closed for a few days, so we got to hang out with my brothers’ families and play in the snow. It was fun to have a husband who’s used to snowy roads because we went to Walmart the day after the storm and almost had the store to ourselves.

We got home early on a Saturday morning, two days before Gabriel went back to school. It felt the most like coming “home” that coming to Ireland ever has. A friend picked us up at the airport so we didn’t have to take public transport, and the best part was that we didn’t have to house hunt but could come straight home to our cozy apartment. I think we’re over the post-holiday blues and the jet lag and the head colds now, and it’s good to be back to normal life again.

is easy.

Changing tyres is not so easy.

Today I was getting a replacement tyre.  I dropped off my car and when to a nearby Aldi.  When I came back, the tyre still wasn’t off, and the mechanic was apparently ringing his friends regarding a… lock nut key.  He had already checked my boot, and there was no lock nut key there.  (A what?  I mean, usually I can pretend I understand I understand them, I didn’t know what a lock nut key was.)

He showed me the wheel.  See the lock nut?  Did I have a key for it?

As Bertie Wooster would say, it was with me the work of a brief moment to grasp that the situation at hand was desperate.  I am good at shoving responsibility onto other shoulders, so I asked the mechanic where lock nut keys usually are kept in a car.  He suggested checking the glove compartment since it wasn’t in the boot.

See it there in the top right-hand corner?  You stick the key on the lock nut, which then allows you to fit a regular hex spanner (wrench) to the nut.  It works.

He’s now my favourite Irish tyre shop guy. 🙂  I even learned that many car tyres have this mechanism, and no, the lock nut key isn’t specific to a particular model–it can be different for every car.

Is this normal aspect of anti-theft protocol and I just missed the memo?  I know I’m pretty dense.

P.S. (And no, Conrad, they’re not bolts.  They really are nuts.  I’m not just saying the wrong word. :-P)

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