Welcome, Jace Ashlee Irwin

January 7, 2011

I started this blog post on Dec. 23, 2010.

That was two days after the 6 p.m. on the Winter Solstice birth of Jace Ashlee (in honour of Aunts Janine Ashley and Shantel Lee), our second beautiful daughter.

Every day since I have told myself that I should finally write a blog post about her arrival, the very unique way she got here (home birth), and all the, uh, fun we’ve had trying to keep Jace healthy while living through a Category 5 Hurricane 13 hours every day.

But the thought of a new blog post passes quickly, like breast milk through a newborn. Between family Christmases, sleep deprivation, general family life, shouldering (hopefully) some of the load in the household so The Boss doesn’t get too worn down, keeping The Hurricane occupied and out of Jace and Mom’s face once in a while, hockey, an unnecessarily nasty Jan. 1 hangover, and returning to work, I just haven’t had the energy, or motivation, to sit at the computer to do anything but look up tutorials and easy songs to play on the guitar, in my futile attempt to be cool and fulfill a lifelong New Year’s resolution of shredding the axe (see, I’m cool now, right?).

Someday I will probably feel guilty about not immediately documenting Jace’s triumphant arrival, when the adrenaline was pumping and I was flying high. That’s what I did for Layne, which I’m thankful for when I look back at her baby book, which was essentially my now-defunct blog from my former employer (which I cannot find a surviving piece of anywhere on the Internet when I am… uh… not… uh… Googling myself). Luckily, I printed all Layne-related material before leaving, so I have my post from July 3, 2007, when she arrived, and the dozens of related posts in the years to follow. Everything from her first couple of years is at my fingertips, in immense detail. I don’t need it now, but it will be wonderful to have someday.

So far, I have no such thing with Jacey. I don’t like that feeling. I know Aunt Shan over in England is none too happy about that either, as she keeps my blog hits existent by checking every day for a scrap of information or even a new picture of her newest niece, whom she’ll meet in a couple of weeks. I have to make time to write about the minutiae of our daily lives as a new family of four. And I need to do it for me, Amy, Layne and Jace, because I know, although ridiculous overkill now, these posts are our family history. How else will I tell embarrassing stories at their wedding, which, by then, I hope are paid for by the groom’s family – or, at the very least, after the dowry system has been reinstituted, since it appears I’m in the girl-making business.

Oh, and she was 6 lbs. 5 oz and 19.5 inches. And healthy. And gorgeous, like her Mom and sister.


Wrecking our new house

September 7, 2010

So we destroyed our new house on the weekend, just two days after being handed the keys.

This is how it looked on Friday morning:

And this is how it looks now, after the long weekend:

On Friday and Saturday, I had help from my uncle, my brother-in-law, my father-in-law, my Dad, and The Best Man (circa 2004) in tearing our 129-year-old church/home a new one.

We took up the main floor carpeting, saving enough to redo two bedrooms upstairs in the coming weeks. We took out the kitchen, stripped the lath and plaster and paneling off the walls of the kitchen and dining room (which was a den), pulled down the old ceiling tiles, removed an antique woodstove and the two layers of bricks supporting it, and took out a four-foot section of wall. We also removed about 8,000 tiny staples that held the former carpet’s underlay in place, as well as another 8,000 which held the ceiling tiles up.

And that’s just on the main floor. The Boss – a trooper, despite being 24 weeks pregnant – and her sister, my Mom, a friend and even The Hurricane did an awesome job stripping decades-old wallpaper off the walls of two bedrooms and a bathroom, setting us up nicely for painting within the next few days upstairs.

Luckily, we’re not living in this mess, and we hope to have all the renovations completed in time for October 1, but you just never know what you’re going to find in an old house. Although I’m knocking firmly on wood as I type this, we haven’t come across anything earth shattering yet, and that’s a testament to the care the previous owners took of the home in the 40-plus years they owned it.

While all this destruction was taking place, The Hurricane was just in her glory. She spent two full days running from the ground floor to the second floor and back  to make sure everything was on track, seeing if she could help out in any way, and chatting non-stop, even if nobody was really listening, which is hard to do with all that work and noise and dust and swear words going on.

We were worried she wouldn’t let us get as much done as we wanted, forcing one of us to be on parental duty at all times, but she really stepped up and let us accomplish everything on our weekend to do list, and then some.

So now we have to get our electrical roughed-in, and then our carpenter begins his task of drywalling and levelling out the floors of the old girl, before handing it over to the kitchen guy and then the hardwood floor installer. Although it looks like it’s a long way off right now, I’m pretty happy with the progress we made this weekend and can only hope the rest of the renovation goes as smoothly from here on out.

Oh, and I now know ripping down walls is as fun as it looks on TV (except for the dust and the crowbar-accelerated chunk of wood in the nuts, which made me a little more tentative for a few minutes, but gave the brother-in-law a good laugh so, uh, no harm done).


New house, another new start

August 31, 2010

On Wednesday we get our new house.

Well, our-built-as-a-church-in-1881-and-turned-into-a-house-in-1910, new house.

It’s our fourth house since 2003, and the second we’ve owned in The Hurricane’s lifetime, although she likely considers my parents’ cottage, where we’ve been living the past four months, as a third home.

It’s amazing how adaptable the young are. We tried our best to explain the move we made this past April from the only hometown Layne had ever known – Port Hope – to my and The Boss’s hometown of Ripley, about 350 kilometres away. She was familiar with Ripley, having spent plenty of weekends here at The In-Laws farm in her almost-three years, but she always pined to get back to her bed in Port Hope at the end of a weekend.

But once we actually packed our boxes and said goodbye to our place in Port Hope, she’s barely looked back. For the first month or so, she’d ask when we were heading back, and, once told we were living in Ripley now, she’d shrug her shoulders and start running at 100 miles per hour again, seemingly unfazed.

Gradually, she has quit asking about our old house, and her old babysitter, and our old neighbours, and Port Hope in general, although she’ll throw something out there from time to time, like how Carolyn (the sitter we all adored) would twirl her spaghetti, which came up when The Hurricane couldn’t quite figure out how to do so last night.

So another move, which likely won’t take place for a month or so after some extensive upgrades to our dated but sturdy new home, probably won’t faze the little one that much. Although the deal has only been done for a month, it was a month-long process prior to the final signatures for a variety of reasons, and in a town of 600 you can’t avoid walking by it from time to time, so she’s had plenty of chances to see where she’ll be living and get used to the neighbourhood. Luckily, it’s a block from the ball diamond, arena, day care and two blocks from where she’ll go to school in the fall of 2011 (yikes!).

So, besides moving her to a new town, having to explain to her numerous times about the baby in Mommy’s tummy that will come around Christmastime, and the new home, The Hurricane (and her parents) have had quite the summer. And, starting tomorrow, it’s about to get a whole lot busier, as every spare moment will likely be spent preparing to bring the house from a well-kept but still late-60s decor into 2010.

But whenever we are prepared to move, I know one little girl who won’t even flinch, as she chooses the colours for yet another new room.


Shut up Saturdays

February 28, 2009

Wow, that was a busy week. No time to post, and no time to even get the camera out to take pictures of The Hurricane.

I know, crazy.

So here’s some of my all-time favourites.

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Right before the exploding shit that hit me in the shoulder ...

Right before the exploding shit that hit me in the shoulder ...

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Timbits + library = Level 4 Hurricane

February 24, 2009

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“Oh Daddy, was feeding me two Timbits and then taking me to the library really such a good idea?”

Late last week, while I was finishing up my holidays, The Hurricane and I went to the local library, with the intent of reading lots of books and playing … uh, quietly … in the kids area.

Unfortunately, I’m notorious for not checking schedules – the library’s, the YMCA’s, The Boss’s – I just assume they’ll be available to me because I want them to be. So, we showed up half an hour early, at 9:30 a.m., pulling on locked doors in the cold, whipping wind screaming off Lake Ontario.

So, instead of heading home for a few minutes and then re-dressing her in all those layers of winter clothes, I figured we’d find a way to kill half an hour, and our first stop was a nearby Tim Hortons (for any American readers, Timmies is a coffee/donut shop that is a Canadian institution – John Lennon would agree that it’s bigger than Jesus here in the Great White North).

I grabbed a coffee and 10 Timbits (mini sugar-encrusted donuts of various flavours), and headed back for the library parking lot. Once there, The Hurricane moved to her rightful place of ‘shotgun’, and we feasted. I snuck a quick three into me, while she nibbled on one, but still it was only 9:47 a.m., 13 minutes until the librarians opened their gates of learning. So what the hell, I gave her a second Timbit, this one chocolate. We made a pact to save the rest for Mommy.

After jamming to some rock music (Queen was the CD of choice that morning – she headbanged to Bohemian Rhapsody at the exact right moment!) it was 10 and we went into the library all nice and quiet like, and headed for the kids section, which was inhabitated by one person – the angry librarian lady who never, ever smiles.

Ever.

As we jumped from bookshelf to bookshelf oohing and aahing with each new find, I realized she was speeding up. Like fast. Crazy fast. And then the running started. The flat-out, fast-as-my-little-legs-can-go running. Throw in the necessary “ahah ahah ahah ahah” sounds created when she hits hyper-speed, and a Hurricane of epic proportions had indeed descended on the library’s main floor.

She ran around the giant square desk at the front, which diverts both incoming and outgoing traffic, the wrong way about 10 times, greeting everybody with a rousing ‘Hi!’, as she whizzed by their legs.

Then she found the empty conference room with the open door and tore that place a new one, screeching and staying as far away from me as she could.

Then, when she saw an opening, she’d go barrelling to the far end of the library (back to where we were supposed to be reading quietly!), making as much noise as possible along the way, before taking a breather with a couple of books or two, and making me think the Timbits were working their way out of her system, and she was finally ready to settle down.

Then, like a shot, she’d be gone again, wreaking havoc on everyone and everything along the way.

Luckily the librarian at the front counter is extremely friendly and has known The Hurricane since she was practically brand new. The woman laughed and teased me for being so stupid (although not using those words).

But the evil librarian didn’t even smile. Not once. Not even the edge of her lips moved, which means she’s either dead inside or a statue. But she picked up the phone, so I think statue is out.

Anyway, I eventually rounded her up, somehow got her boots and coat back on and dragged her out of the building, her tongue rolled out of her head, exhausted, but with eyes that still darted every which way, as she planned her next escape.

Suffice to say, Friday’s nap at 11:30 a.m. didn’t happen as planned either. Oops.

So, if you’re ever heading to the library with a 19-month-old and have a few minutes to kill, I’d recommend passing on the Timbits. You might as well just let them drink your double-double too.


Shut up Saturdays

February 21, 2009

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Oh God, I think she ate poo …

February 20, 2009

That’s right, if the baseball style black streak under her eye is what I think it is, combined with her clean hands, I think The Hurricane had a taste of poo when ‘napping’ this afternoon.

(I’m on holidays this week, so that’s why I’m home in the middle of the day seeing but not believing all this)

The Hurricane naps for everybody but me. What she does when I’m in charge is play in her crib for an hour, then jump up and down, and then drop a huge deuce in her drawers.

Like clockwork.

Today, the jumping started halfway through my sandwich, so I chose to finish eating. Big mistake. Five minutes later, when I went into her room knowing the unmistakble reek of naptime poo, combined with baseboard heater, would greet me upon opening the door, I noticed something under her right eye. It was a black streak, running from about mid-eye and down towards her earlobe.

Being dim-witted, it took me a minute to fit 2-and-2 together, but eventually I realized there was shit on The Hurricane’s face. I grabbed her hands to see if she was covered in it, only to realize they were mostly clean, with only a few traces of poo on them.

And, other than the back of her diaper, where else do her hands spend most of their time? In her mouth, of course.

Again, some math was required for me to piece these facts together, but I’m pretty sure she stuck her hands down her diaper, pulled out a few fingers of poo, marked up her face like the crazy kids from Lord of the Pigs, and then cleaned herself up like any self-respecting 19-month-old would.

I asked her if that’s what she did, and, to her credit, she fessed up.

Then I asked her if she wanted some milk to wash her snack down with and there wasn’t much hesitation with that head nod.

No wonder she still won’t go to sleep, an hour later. I might have insomnia tonight too, knowing what happened in the room down the hall.