The twins and I got our Christmas tree while Kyle and the Maclean men were away hunting. They went hunting unusually late in the calendar year. We decorated the tree the weekend after Kyle returned from hunting, and met Santa (in a plexiglass box!)
Much like the last 3 and half years of our lives, the pandemic has been a wild ride.
Some photos from our family photography session
I’ve been baking with a sourdough starter for the last 4 years, but during the pandemic, I found a real passion for all varieties of baking. I’ve been baking pies (thanks for the pastry lessons Grandma Martin!!), cakes (cheese, sponge, upside down), buns, rolls, specialty bread, naan, pitas, cookies, bars, scones, muffins, cupcakes, etc. The twins wake up on the weekend and say to me “what you making today?”. I think a big part of the joy comes from watching their excited anticipation and enjoyment while eating. I also love making something sensational out of just a collection of ingredients. I find baking a perfect balance between science and art. These past few months I have been honing my pie/pastry making skills, and in December, I am going to tackle French pastry (think bourbon cream puffs and peanut butter eclairs).
Kyle turned 40 in October and I had the pleasure of making him a feast- hot and sour soup, ginger “beef” venison, Szechwan prawns, and of course, cake (triple layered blue berry lemon with cream cheese icing)!
Running with our younger dog (Luna) has been a big part of my pandemic life. Running calms my mind, grounds my soul, and works my body. I have actually managed to lose some weight (yes, even with all the baking mentioned above…). This summer I also fell in love with golfing and started doing yoga again. I joined a Wednesday night ladies golf league, we had a fabulous time, it really filled my bucket.
I think one of the more precious aspects of the pandemic is the intimate family time- just us. The pandemic has provided a memorable timeline for our children’s development (pre-pandemic, pandemic, and one day, dare I say, post pandemic). Ewan has had a huge language leap (before the pandemic he only spoke in single words, now full sentences). Every day for a week straight, Ewan woke me up singing the lyrics “Miss Mommy Miss Mommy, I love you I love you” to the tune of Farah Jacques, is there anything sweeter? Yes, he calls me Miss Mommy. He calls Kyle Miss Daddy. Eileen and Ewan are engaging in more cooperative and imaginative play, which is so fun to watch … until it turns into unmanageable, wild animal kingdom monkey business. Lately, they have been going “deer hunting” and making “mommy elk noises”.
One morning in October Eileen and Ewan got up at 5:00 am, we were both too tired to get up with them, so we let them play unattended. Well, they opened the freezer ate 4 chocolate cupcakes with icing and a tub of vanilla ice cream.
Last week Ewan wiped his own bum for the first time ever!! I remember at the beginning of the pandemic going potty was a family affair!
Last week when they saw the Amazon delivery guy they yelled ‘Santa’, not because he was delivering parcels, but because he has a long white/grey beard. I don’t know why, but I found this absolutely entertaining, the metaphor is too perfect, the delivery guy was definitely less than impressed though.
Ewan got a very stylish hair cut in September, he was so thrilled. He decisively picked the hair style himself.
We spent Thanksgiving at the vineyard harvesting grapes and celebrating each other. Cousin Bowen turned 5, and we had a party!
They dressed as ghosts for Halloween, and had a blast!! So much candy! Eileen’s pumpkin is on the right and Ewan’s on the left.
So, it’s been almost a year since we last posted, we have missed sharing so many precious memories. I’ll test my memory to see how many quirky personality moments and other memories I can recall.
First off, Christmas 2019- We had a full house and lots of great food! Both sets of Grandparents and Auntie Diana and Jeremy were here. The twins had a great time with all the family around. Eileen insisted her two grandmas tuck her in at night. Christmas morning was sensory overload for the twins, they couldn’t get passed opening their stockings because they had to play with every new toy.
Around Christmas time Eileen’s speech was progressing, but Ewan’s was still quite delayed. Over the last year, his speech delay caused a lot of frustrated moments for him not being able to express his needs. Ewan’s most common thing to say around early-mid 2020 “it not working” he used this phrase for everything. In April we were walking by a fence that ended, he pointed at the fence and said “it not working”. Then, around March, he woke up during the night to poop, but when the poop would not come, he came out of the bathroom and said “mommy, it not working, the poop not working”, oh it was adorable. Now his most common response is “right now” or “because right now”. I think this is his default response because he doesn’t have the words to express himself in more detail. When he is asked a question he just responds with “right now”. We have been working with a Speech and Language Pathologist, and even though his speech continues to be delayed, he is making improvements.
Eileen is very adventurous and brave, so around October 2019 Kyle and I started to be serious with her- never touch the oven/stove, never stand up in the tub, never jump off the toilet… well, she started using the word ‘never’ instead of ‘no’. She walked around the house telling Kyle and I ‘never’.
Both Eileen and Ewan would call Monkey’s ‘Ooh ooh ah ahs’ instead of saying Monkey, which is way harder to say! Ewan used to say elephant (really fast) and make the trunk action with his arm and say ‘brrrrr’.
Often when we asked Eileen a question she would say ‘yano’ and we would also have to respond, ‘is that a yes or a no’.
November 2019- the twins walked around going “rawr” while making clawing motions with their hands. Sometimes Ewan would take it a bit far and Eileen would cry, I think he just did it because she would react. Areas of the house became ‘safe’ and being picked up by mom and dad was the safest place :).
One Friday night in January 2020 the twins pulled all the furniture out of their room (which was a favourite pass time- moving cribs, toy boxes, tables, play kitchen etc) and started throwing what they could lift out the front door. Animals!!
Both Eileen and Ewan like to pack their backpacks full of toys, put hats and sunglasses on (while in their PJ’s) and walk around the house saying “bye bye, bye bye”. When you ask them where they are going, they stop and say “ummm maybe…hmmm Home, I am going home”. It is so cute, they look like little hobos with all their worldly possessions, walking around saying “bye bye”. I have a video and I watch it all the time.
Making choo choo trains became an obsession. For about 8 months straight every piece of furniture (including pillows, stuffies, blankets, etc) that could be moved was arranged into a line, or continuous path, and was called a choo choo train, our floors are sooo scratched because of it. It was an absolute obsession, and if you broke the train, Ewan especially, would go into full on melt down mode. Then one day in June they just stopped
At the end of January 2020 we transitioned the twins into full size twin beds. Ewan was waking up in the middle of the night crying and screaming, without the words to tell us what was wrong. We thought if he wasn’t in a crib, he could get out of bed and show us what he needed before getting to the point of incoherent inconsolable crying. November 2019- January 2020 was full of sleepless nights, Ewan would wake up kicking and screaming for an hour straight, multiple times throughout the night. It was hard. It was almost like he was having night terrors. He would talk to you, but you couldn’t say or do anything to calm or soothe him The transition into big beds went well, and his night terror episodes slowly morphed into asking daddy to tuck him in and sleep with him. Much calmer. Then after day light savings time in March everything unraveled. We couldn’t get the twins to stay in bed and go to sleep. Every night was a 2 to 3 hour bedtime power struggle. It didn’t help they share a room, so they play off of each other. We came to dread bedtimes. We never left each other alone during bedtime, it was a two person job and it was hard to endure, awful, difficult, tested our patience etc. Kyle and I had no time to ourselves because by the time we got the children to bed it was time for us to go to bed. Finally in July of 2020 we reached out to a sleep consultant and she gave us some tips and tricks, which worked almost instantaneously. Now bedtimes are 0- 30 minutes.
Around mid February 2020, Eileen and Ewan were chasing and stabbing each other with forks, so we took the forks away for a while. Well, one Friday (at the end of February) after school Eileen came home with a plastic fork and waved it in Kyle’s face and said ‘this my fork, my fork’.
Easter 2020 was nice, it was just our nuclear family, the weather was cold so we had a fire and watched movies, made a craft, and made ham, potatoes and key lime pie (I think this will be a new Easter tradition!)
The twins turned 3 years old on April 22. We discussed what kind of cake they wanted in the month leading up to their birthday. Finally, Eileen decided on banana cream pie, when I said the words banana cream, her eyes went wide! She knows all things cream are delicious (cream cheese, whipping cream, sour cream etc) and she loves bananas. After she decided on banana cream pie, she pointed at Ewan and said, “What Ewan have?” HAHAHA, she is a riot. The birthday was great. The four of us spent the day together enjoying the yard and learning to ride a push/stride bike. They opened presents, ate pizza and banana cream pie (which I made), and a fire truck came by and honked the horn singing happy birthday over the loud speaker. A low key pandemic birthday.
Ewan is an AMAZING dancer, he moves his entire body and head. Whenever he gets really excited about something (usually food) he jumps up and down and claps his hands while shouting “yea!!”. He also sideways shuffles throughout the house.
Eileen counts 1, 2, 6, 11, 18…
Favourite food- pizza, cheese, french fries, crackers, dates, bagels, cereal, apricots and ice cream. We have relaxed the low sugar diet…. still no juice though. Favourite movie- Minions. Favourite TV show- Wiggles, Horsey show (Spirit Riding Free), and Paw Patrol. Favourite song- Baby Shark, and One Green Jelly Bean. But really, it’s just Baby Shark all day, everyday! They march around the table singing along. Ewan especially loves Baby Shark. He puts his fists in front of his body and moves them in circles around each other, while marching and singing.
Summer of 2020- lots of camping! Ewan and Eileen met wild horses, they walked right through our campsite. We went to McLean Creek, Porcupine Hills and Lake Koocanusa and are planning to go to Drumheller and Little Elbow. Sleep and naps are always a bit hit and miss while camping, and when we were driving back from McLean Creek, Eileen looked out the window in a whiney voice said “I want cheese and mountains”- me too girl! We flew on an airplane (with masks!) to Vancouver Island to see Grandma and Grandpa Shivas. We spent 8 days at the cabin fishing and relaxing. This year the twins were much easier to take care of at the cabin. My mom was a rock star taking care of them every morning so we could all go fishing (on top of cooking and cleaning!). Eileen and Ewan had lots of cooperative, imaginative and interactive play. They made boats out of foam pieces, drove dump trucks and rode horses. They were much more interested in the ocean, boats, wildlife, fish, crabs and prawns. We picked blueberries in Courtenay, and Ewan ate his body weight in blueberries during the 2 weeks visit.
Both Eileen and Ewan started saying Tanks (Thanks) and Sorry for everything. Tanks mommy, sorry mommy….it’s adorable. Even when saying “don’t throw rocks at people” they reply in this sweet tone “tanks mommy” (mostly Ewan, but sometimes Eileen) Ewan gives these really big, pronounced “yup” and “ok”. He is a very agreeable little dude. Ewan is so sweet, cuddly (especially right after the bath), smiley, helpful, empathetic, quiet, and kind. Eileen is so independent, smart, observant, strong willed, outgoing and loud. They are very different people. But they are also best friends. Ewan would follow Eileen blindly off a cliff. Ewan readily shares everything with Eileen, whereas Eileen assess what is the best choice and then gives the other to Ewan (she takes the bigger piece of cheese and gives the smaller to Ewan). Eileen sometimes calls Ewan Ewee, and Ewan pronounces Eileen Eieen. Eileen is quick to blame Ewan for everything “Ewan did it”. She is also quick to call Ewan over to show him something cool/new. They are getting along so much better these days. If I am sternly talking to Eileen about something (don’t leave ice melting on the counter), Ewan always says “me too”. I will turn to Ewan and says, “you too Ewan, don’t leave ice melting on the counter” and he smiles and runs away. He just wants to always be included. When we go on road trips he says, “I come too?”, “yes of course Ewan, we wouldn’t go anywhere without you”- he smiles.
Eileen is still obsessed with hats, shoes and figuring out how things work. She will sit and unscrew screws from the play table. They both still love school buses and going on ‘lion hunts’ and making safe spaces from the lion. They also call the woods and pathways “lion caves”.
Eileen continued to have accidents (although often she would pee herself on purpose when she didn’t get her way) from September 2019 until July 2020. She did have accidents when we were travelling in July/August. Ewan has been pretty much potty trained since September, with very few accidents. He even stopped wearing a pull up at night in March 2020. Despite being potty trained, they still like to pee anywhere and everywhere. They also both really like being naked, and are often naked all weekend at home.
We got Ewan’s hair cut in June 14, he is such a handsome boy! He spent minutes looking at himself and smiling in the mirror. When we were on the Island this summer Ewan told me about his “owie bug bite on his face” (his hemangioma), he said “but it not hurting”. That’s the first time he has mentioned his hemangioma.
Oh, and by the way Eileen and Ewan, we are in the middle of a world wide pandemic, coronavirus rapidly spread throughout the world and took the lives of a lot of people. We were in a lock down from March until June 2020. Even now, August 2020, people are very cautious. We have to wear masks and wash our hands all the time. 2020 has been an odd year, one mom and dad will not easily forget. You didn’t see your friends or go to the park. We didn’t socialize or meet new people.
I am just happy to finally type some words on this blog. Sorry for the radio silence!
We boot camp potty trained the twins the weekend of September 20-22, 2019. The program worked like a charm for Ewan. It took him 24 hours to figure it out. He has had very few accidents since. Eileen on the other hand… she is a little more defiant and wants to be in control. She often has accidents (even still), but she also has successes. We are taking it one day at a time 🙂
Finally!! After saying I Love You to Eileen and Ewan everyday for 924 days straight, on November 2 Eileen replied “I Love Mommy”…. I have been waiting a long time!
Sportball ended last weekend and swimming started this weekend! The twins had a blast swimming! We learned to float on our back and front, blow bubbles, kicked our legs, glide, jump into the pool and climb out. We sang songs and played with toys. Eileen was laughing and smiling as we floated by the instructor, the instructor commented on how well she was doing, I replied this is their first time ever swimming/being in a pool. The instructor was shocked, she thought Eileen had been through lessons before! Go Eileen!! Ewan was a bit unsure at first but he quickly started enjoying himself. He loved jumping and blowing bubbles. We are in lessons for the next 7 weeks, the lessons will be the same every week, the idea is to build on these core skills.
*edit- the twins went swimming once before (January 2018) at my friends pool in her apartment building.
The twins went to our Highwood Community Association Party on Saturday (which I organized with another volunteer, Michelle, in the community). Eileen and Ewan had a great time! Ewan spent an hour at the craft table and Eileen ran around and danced. On Sunday my friend Cassandra came over and helped the twins carve their first pumpkin. Eileen and Ewan scooped out the seeds and drew on the faces, Cass and I carved them out. Picture speak louder than words, so enjoy.
We didn’t go out trick or treating last night because I had a curling game. Next year!
The twins started sportball this weekend (runs for 6 sessions). It’s a Canadian wide organization. Today’s class was about basketball. Each week they focus on a different sport. Eileen is a natural athlete. She did so well, she sat and listened to the instructions, followed through, waited her turn and worked on the skills (and did well). Ewan had a good time running around and playing, but he wasn’t focused or interested in the skill development. It was very interesting to watch the twin’s completely different experiences/engagement. Both had a great time, I can’t wait for next week. I think it’s fantastic!!
We got to spend another summer vacationing on Vancouver Island with my family. Visits to the Island are necessary for my sanity. I miss living there and being with my family so much. My pieces of my soul live in the ocean and my heart on the island 💜💜
This was a special year because my cousin, Jim, wife, Liz and kids Ben and Jill were also visiting at the same time! We had all the Shivas cousin’s children together in one place!
we spent time at the beach and at the local playground. Kyle picked lots of wild blackberries, and we went to a U-Pick blueberry farm.
Fish and Bus are the words of the summer! We went to the cabin at the end of July (22-30) with Grandma and Grandpa Shivas. Eileen struggled while we were there because she was cutting molars, wasn’t sleeping and there wasn’t anywhere to run (lack of physical activity). But mostly Eileen was in pain from cutting molars. We were there for 8 days and the fishing was great. We came home with 10 salmon. Every time the boat came back to the cabin the twins would climb onto the tall chairs underneath the window and point excitedly yelling gibberish with the recognizable words Fish, Wawa (wawa is water), Boat, Mommy, and Daddy (depending on who was in the boat). The twins very quickly learned the word fish. They would point at the fish in the boat cooler, on the fish cleaning station, and then again at home when Kyle was preparing the fish for the smoker. Fish Fish Fish.
At the cabin we set prawn traps for fun (it is not prawning season in July). We were averaging about 12 prawns a trap. The first time we pulled the trap up, Eileen charged forward and tried to poke the prawn in the eyes while saying “eyes”. Ewan was a little more cautious.
At the end of August we went to Vancouver to visit family (Aunt Heather, Uncle Peter, Oma, brother Loren, sister in law Vicky and cousins Madeline and Bown). During our visit we went to the Vancouver Aquarium with Loren, Vicky, Madeline and Bowen. The twins were entranced with the Aquarium. We bought them two stuffies (sharks) from the gift shop. On the drive back to Port Coquitlam (Loren and Vicky’s house) they were moving the stuffies through the air repeating Fish Fish Wawa. It was so cute! Still at home they move the sharks through the air saying fish fish wawa.
Buses are the new favorite thing! All summer every time a bus drove by, the twins would yell BUS over and over. We did a bit of driving in Vancouver, and there are a lot of buses, so we heard the word bus continuously! We had two toy buses that were handed down from a friend. I give them to the twins mid August…. oh my goodness. They sleep with the buses (and stuffed sharks). They wake up saying ‘where bus?’ Grandpa and Grandma Shivas bought west coast T-shirts for the twins. Ewan’s t-shirt has a picture of a bus on it. He asks to wear the bus shirt every morning. When he is wearing the shirt he walks around pointing at the shirt saying ‘bus’.
We will post more details about the Vancouver Island and Vancouver trips later….hopefully.