Today you are ninety-six months old.
Also known as “eight years old”.
The last month, as always, has been full of adventures. It started off with our trip to Powell River, where you’d been staying with Grannie and Grandpa and your cousins for the past several nights over Spring Break. We were SO proud of you for being apart from us for so many nights without any homesickness! It seems that our strategies of not talking to you on phone or Skype, and having Grannie and Grandpa make no mention of our existence at all, really worked out. Of course, WE missed YOU like crazy because it was so weird to go so long without talking to you!
You had a wonderful time in Powell River and we were so grateful that you were able to have so much time with Grannie and Grandpa. They enjoyed their time with you too, though I’m sure they were also grateful when their houseful of grandkids went home and it was suddenly quiet and peaceful! Your Auntie Sara and Uncle Dave arrived shortly after we did, so the whole family was there to celebrate Easter together. Our first afternoon there, we went for a nature walk in the woods, which was really fun. Of course, “really fun” means something different for adults and children. While adults enjoy walking the trail, admiring the views, and enjoying conversation, kids view the trail as more of a guideline, and would rather race up and down tree trunks, climb on stumps, balance on cliff-edges, and basically find infinite new ways to terrify their parents and grandparents. Whee!
The next day, we had vague plans to take all you kids to the swimming pool, but the universe had other plans – creepy-crawly little vermin plans, to be specific. We discovered that you and at least one of your cousins had head lice. UGH! All our plans for the day were scrapped as we shifted into detect-and-destroy mode. You three kids were lined up in the living room, watching a movie while the adults painstakingly combed through your hair to find every last bug and nit. I gathered up every piece of laundry and linen I could find in the house and hightailed it to the laundromat, hoping to get it all washed faster than I could by doing twenty loads in Grannie’s teensy washer. (It still took a long time, and a LOT of quarters!) Grannie was especially annoyed, as she’d managed to get through the entire parenting process without her daughters ever having lice – and now, her grandkids had brought the plague to her. It wasn’t exactly what anyone had planned for our Easter weekend together, but we all did what we had to do to deal with the situation. The hardest part of this for you, in addition to all that sitting still, was sleeping without your beloved stuffed Sheep that night – Sheep had to spend the night in the freezer to make sure she was louse-free. Had we been at home, we could just pick out another stuffy for you, but Sheep was the only one (the chosen one!) that you’d brought on your trip, and now you had to sleep without her. It was not an easy sleep for you – and I would know, as I shared the bed! (Not a restful sleep for me either!)
On Sunday morning, you kids woke up to discover that the Easter Bunny had visited! Instead of just leaving piles of chocolate on every available surface, as he did last year, this year that crafty bunny made a treasure hunt for the three of you to follow. Even cooler, the clues were all things specific to each of you: one of them about your piano lessons, one of them about Scott’s passion for all things Harry Potter, one of them about Andrew’s woodworking, etc. What an awesome guy that Easter Bunny is! Auntie Sara had been reminiscing the day before about when we were kids, and how I used to make treasure hunts for her, and how they were the most fun thing ever. I have fond memories of that, too. Pretty neat that the Easter Bunny came through this year and created a treasure hunt just for you! It was sure fun for Auntie Sara and I to watch you kids follow the clues together!
That afternoon, after saying goodbye to your grandparents, cousins, and aunt and uncle, you were not in such a happy mood. I can understand that – goodbyes are hard, and going back to reality after such a super fun vacation is an extra challenge. On top of that, you were overtired, oversugared, and just plain wound up. I kept trying to reassure you about how nice it would be to sleep in your very own bed that night, AND you would have your beloved Sheep to snuggle with. As we began our packing, though, we made a sad discovery – Auntie Sara, meaning to grab Scott’s stuffed bear, had accidentally taken Sheep instead! Sheep was well on her way to the Sunshine Coast by the time we discovered this, and there was nothing to be done. You were DEVASTATED. “You PROMISED I could sleep with Sheep tonight!” you wailed at me. “You broke your promise! You’re a bad mom and I can’t believe your promises!” I was so sad for you, and there was nothing I could do to resolve it.
Things got worse after we landed in Comox. We have made it our tradition to stop at the McDonald’s in Courtenay, which has an enormous playplace, for dinner and some run-around time before the drive down to Nanaimo. So imagine our dismay when we pulled up to the restaurant and found it was closed for renovations! The management must have decided that Easter Sunday was a good time to close, as everyone would be having their family dinners and no one needed a Big Mac. You lost your mind all over again – Mom and Dad had broken ANOTHER promise!! You were inconsolable. What a frustrating day. All I could promise now was that tomorrow (after a good night’s sleep) would be better! We finally got home, got you into bed, and breathed a sigh of relief that this day was over.
The following week had some exciting things to look forward to: first, you got the cool new haircut you’d been looking forward to for weeks. You’d first spotted this style on your LumberJanes book series, and decided you’d like to try it for yourself. It took me a while to get used to the idea. I took you to Serenity Hair Salon, and after a brief consultation, you were ready! The stylist wrapped the hair she was about to cut in two long ponytails, so your hair could be donated to make wigs. Snip, snip, snip – then buzz, buzz, buzz, and the hair was gone! You are enthralled with this new style, and I agree it looks terrific.
The next exciting thing is that our new after-school caregiver started working with us! You now get to walk home every day after school and spend two hours with this fun and energetic teenager. You are really enjoying your time with her, and I am so happy that you’re happy. (I’m also damn near ecstatic that she empties the dishwasher before I get home!) The fact that you are already settled, calm, and fully transitioned into “home/family” activities before Dad and I get home really sets us all up for a good evening together. On days that you have piano lessons or gymnastics, you are already dressed, snacked, and ready to go when we get home. How awesome is that!?
Dad has set up your trampoline, and you have been out on it pretty much every day. I also encourage you to get out on your bike whenever possible. We’re starting to see more sunny and warm weather, which is wonderful – summer is coming! We didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy our new home and explore the neighbourhood last summer, as we moved at the end of July and spent all of August unpacking, so it feels like we get to experience our home anew in the Spring and Summer seasons.
This past weekend, naturally, has been full of birthday shenanigans. On Friday night, we had your Gramma and Grandpa over for dinner – you chose turkey tacos for your birthday meal – and enjoyed a fun visit with them. Then last night, three of your friends came for the long-awaited sleepover party. You kids ate pizza, decorated sleep masks with glitter glue, watched (part of) a movie, played video games, jumped on the trampoline, and made ice cream sundaes for dessert. And finally, at 11:30 … about two hours after you’d all gone to bed, and about three seconds after I told you all to shut up and go to sleep … you were all happily snoring. It seems the party got a rave review from the kids, though I don’t think your dad and I will be in any hurry to repeat the experience – we are all pretty tired today!
Gwen, you are a terrific kid and we’re so glad we get to be your parents. Happy Birthday, my girl.