The last tooth has been lost

Well Monkey, you’ve hit a milestone: today, you lost the last of your baby teeth. You told me you pulled it yourself (rather brave, if I do say so myself), and presented it to me like a strange kind of trophy. Your last baby tooth. There’s only adult teeth, now (and quite a few to come). Does that make you … an adult? Well, not in the legal sense…
I remember when your first tooth came in, so many, many years ago. I remember naming your teeth … or at least being told their names. I remember when the first one came loose, and then fell out. You were quite a bit more scared than I thought you’d be, but I suppose things falling out of your head are cause for alarm when you’re a kid.
Man, is your tooth fairy going to be disappointed…
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A birthday hike

Well, Monkey, you’re seven.
Like, seven. I’m having trouble really saying that. It’s just weird that you’re so much older than I always feel like you should be. You’re growing up a little more every day, and flit between my little girl and … well, kind of an evil genius, really.
And truly, both are awesome.
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End of Monkey Summer

You’re 5 now, Monkey, which means a pretty big change for all of us. You won’t be around all day long, anymore. Day camps and whatnot aside, you’ve been a major presence — especially in Mommy’s life — since the moment you’d grown big enough that Mommy needed maternity clothes, and every day since then.
But it’s coming to an end. Your infancy, as it were, is nearly over. You’re about to go to kindergarten. You’re officially growing past us.
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Happy 5th Birthday, Monkey

Today was a big day, Monkey. A milestone — yet another of many to come. Another year has passed, but it’s an important one. You’re past infant, toddler, and now preschooler. You’re a real kid, now. You’re going to school — real school.
You’re not my “little” girl anymore. You’re a big girl now, really. (You’ll always be little, by the way. Just accept it and let’s move on, shall we?) I still find it hard to see you growing up, almost like you’re slowly getting away from me with every day.
I can’t believe you’re 5 already, Monkey.
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I hate you leave you in the morning, Part 2

Where once there was one,
Now there are two.
But the patterns remains the same.
Wakened by one, though with hugs from both.
We sit. We eat. We chat.
Stories, changing of clothes and preparing for the day.
Teeth brushed.
Please, just let Mommy sleep a little while longer.
“Daddy, you going work?”
“Yes, honey…”
“But I miss you!”
Prometheus brought fire to man
And endured the eagle every day.
My heart faces the same eternity of destruction and healing
For everyday that I must leave.
Hugs. A kiss. A moment of love.
It is a fleeting moment, like your innocence
Too soon gone.
It’s a lonely trek away from you
Each step an ache
A string strung too far
Desperate to break.
Days are long
Time is short
You grow up too fast
Suddenly, another year passes
What did I miss?
I miss you. Every day.
Always.
I hate to leave you in the morning.

A walk in the (amusement) park

Kids, we missed the Calgary Stampede this year. That was partly intentional, to be honest. Yes, it was the 100th anniversary, and Choo Choo was old enough to actually do some of the things there, but … well, it was kind of crazy this year, and maybe the 101th anniversary won’t be quite so crazy. And you’ll be older, and slightly more … how can I put this? … controllable.
That said, you both like rides, Monkey especially. (We found that out last year.) So denying you two a trip to an amusement park, especially during what’s turning out to be Calgary’s best summer in a long time, is just plain criminal. So with Mommy’s acquired coupons, we packed you up, dragged out Grandpa, and all headed to Calaway Park.
In a word? “WHEEEEEEEE!”
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Vacation 2012, Day 2.5

Well, kids, this vacation is certainly having some ups and downs. I’m taking that as a good thing, by the way, since without variation things can get a little dry. That’s also a joke, incidentally — “dry” isn’t a concern around here. It’s rained every day so far (we have thunderstorms as I’m writing this), and not far away, flooding is so bad that highways are being washed out.
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Vacation 2012, Day 1

Hey kids,
You’re both sleeping right now. Soundly so. You’ve both had a big, exciting day, and I’m frankly amazed you made it as long as you did. You normally don’t pack this much into a few days, let alone a few hours.
We’ll see how you do for the next few days…
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An apology to my kids

Dear Monkey and Choo Choo,
Yesterday, I worked from home. This is not the first time I’ve done so. The reasons for working from home are also largely irrelevant. The point is that I was there, even though I really wasn’t. I was working, which means my mind is elsewhere.
For you, I was home. This “working” thing doesn’t make any sense to you, nor should it. I was at home; that’s all that matters to you. So you did what you should be doing when I’m at home:

Daddy, I[‘m’] hungry.
Daddy, [can you] read [this] story [to me]?
Daddy, can you take me around the block on my bike?
Daddy, come play!

Instead of “yes”, which is what you expected, you heard me say “no”, and far too often, angrily. And for that, I apologise. You shouldn’t have had to deal with me like that. I made you cry a couple of times, Choo Choo, for you understand the least. You know when I leave in the morning, I’m going to “work”. Even though I know you don’t really know what “work” means, you know I’m not at home. Lately, this elicits:

I[‘ll] miss you.

See daddy’s heart. See daddy’s heart shatter into a million pieces. See daddy cry as he watches his kids’ lives slip from his fingers.
So I’m going to make a deal with you. I know you’ll accept, so this is more kicking myself in the butt to make sure I do it. I will never work from home again. That means that if I am at home, and you’re awake, I’m yours. If it’s a “normal” work day, I’ll shift my hours to a time when you’re asleep. If I’m at home, we do what you want to do. We play, we read, we go for walks.
Because I can’t bear to say “no” anymore to the things that matter to you.

Happy 4th Birthday, Monkey!

My big girl just got a little bigger. You turned 4 today, Monkey. You’re now so old that I’m having trouble remembering when you weren’t in my life. I’m also having trouble remembering when you were a wee babe, which kind of breaks my heart a little.
Unlike your other birthdays, I didn’t get to spend all of today with you. I had to go to work, so you spent most of the day with Mommy, and then with Grandma just before I got home. But in case you don’t remember today, Monkey, I hope you remembered yesterday.
That’s when we partied.
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Monkey's First Stampede

Perhaps the title’s a bit misleading, Monkey, but I suspect this will be the first Stampede you actually remember. And you have reason to remember it, too. You’ve listened to marching bands, eaten pancakes, ridden rollercoasters, and even seen a future King.
Not bad for only a little over 48 hours, eh?
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The Super Secret Monkey Surprise

For at least the last couple of years, Heritage Park finds a way to bring in Thomas the Tank Engine for the kids. (It’s a fake engine, but the kids don’t care.) The big thing is to ride the train behind Thomas, and tickets for the chance on the Day Out With Thomas sell out well before the day even arrives.
This year, we’d resolved to get you on that train, Monkey. And … well, we did try. But apparently we’d waited too long (trying to coordinate with other parents) and … well, we blew it. This year, like last, probably all you’d have done is stood and watched as other kids got to ride the train.
But, thanks to a fluke chance, you got to ride something those other kids didn’t even know about…
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2010, A Year in Review

Man, it feels like a year ago since I last wrote one of these … oh, wait.  (Yes, it’s a stupid joke. You should know me by now…)
2010 was the year we made contact … wait, sorry, wrong catchline. 2010 was the year my family welcomed new members, notably my youngest, a daughter (code)named Choo Choo. It was a year I changed my career outlook (yes, again), and found that I’m not (completely) useless. This was a year of family, for me, and that’s perhaps the most important aspect.
But despite all that, I hesitate to call it “a year of change”.
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New Year's Tea, 2011

I gotta tell ya, kids, 2010 was a pretty wild year. I know a lot of people who keep telling me that the years “just fly by” and before you know it, another year’s gone. The year past was definitely a change for our family, in many, many ways. (And I’d like to think that most of them were for the better, so I’m not going to try and figure out the split — I prefer to remain blissfully naive on this one.)
This is our “new” tradition. Mommy and I decided it would be tradition after having such a wonderful time with my old friend Sonny, having afternoon tea. Suddenly, it seemed just perfect to have tea every New Year’s Day. The question now, of course, is where to have tea. Last year, it was at the Banff Springs Hotel. This year, mostly for simplicity, we did the same.
Next year? Well, that’s a whole 364 days of Anything-Can-Happen!
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The end of summer vacation

Well, kids, I’m not sure if you’re going to remember this August a few years from now (well, Choo Choo, I’ll be impressed if you remember today, tomorrow), but this has been a fantastic month. It’s been a long month, filled with lots of laughs, almost every single meal spent together, four provinces, several hotel rooms, and more than a few pools.
But tomorrow is the first weekday after Labour Day (which is today), and it means that we must part again. In a few years, it will mean you have to go to school. For me, it means going back to work.
In a way, they’re pretty similar…
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Happy 3rd birthday, Monkey

Well, Monkey, despite all your best attempts to drive Mommy and I to the brink of toddlericide, you made it to be three. It was your first birthday in Canada — your previous birthdays were both in Costa Rica. It wasn’t as warm as it was there, and there was no pool for you to splash in. But that didn’t seem to bother you any.
It’s hard for some of us to truly believe that you’re three. You’re still a baby to us, in many ways. And yet even someone who’s never met you before can carry out a (reasonably coherent) conversation with them. You know what you like and what you don’t like (even if you actually do like it and you’re just being difficult), and you no longer parrot what we’ve said — you have your own thoughts.
And I gotta tell ya, kid … today, you made me a very proud daddy.
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 8

We were up perhaps a bit earlier than I’d thought we’d be up, but I’d also forgotten we were stopping in Redcliff to visit Marnie and her kids. Thankfully, Grandpa had enough sense to jumpstart us for the day. That didn’t necessarily mean we were moving particularly quickly, but at least early enough to make a difference.
That, and two cups of coffee, of course…
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 7

Despite the nice appearance and newness of the hotel, the Canalta has stiff beds that are really meant for only one person — any movement is felt by the other person on the bed. The pillows are massive and overstuffed (please, hotels, understand that not everyone wants these — please provide a few thin pillows), and the air-conditioning in our massive room simply made things awkward. It would appear that neither Mommy or I slept well.
Monkey, you slept like a log. We had trouble waking you up.
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 6

We were all slow to rise today, but we made quick work of breakfast. You said goodbye to your Great Uncle Ken and Great Aunt Marilyn before we headed to the car. Our first stop was to drop off Granny at the airport. She wasn’t driving back with us, which I take to be a very wise decision on her part.
Then we headed back down to Portage, which is one of the main roads in Winnipeg. After a stop at Timmy’s for a coffee recharge, we set our sights for Saskatchewan and our overnight stop at Moosomin.
The question was what were we going to do in between…
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 5

We were supposed to go out to a lake near the Ontario border today, but Mommy and I threw up the white flag and declared us all “done”. We need a break. Monkey, you’ve been very patient being trapped in the car seat for hours upon hours. We’ve heard “I want to go home” a few times, but we suspect it’s more about wanting to get out and run around than anything else. (It’s been proven pretty much every time we’ve let you out.)
As for you, Choo Choo … well, I’m not really sure what to make of your thoughts. Aside from the fact that you’re only 4.5 months old, there’s also the consideration that, unlike your sister, you don’t sleep a lot. So we’re never really sure if you’re generally unhappy with being in your seat, tired, or hungry. I suspect at some level you’re probably all three at the same time.
Still it was absolutely necessary that we take the day off and not really go anywhere. So we went to The Forks.
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 4

Wow, I wasn’t kidding, was I? It was a long day. A really, really, really long day. We were up and running and gone by just after 8:15 this morning, trucking our way up to an RV park just north of downtown along Main Street, right next to Shooter’s Golf (which I am convinced is named and designed after elements of Happy Gilmore). We met up with the rest of the family who were along for the ride, and then planning to meet at the ESSO station in Eriksdale, headed north.
Granny drove with Great Uncle Ken and Great Aunt Marilyn so she “would have all-new material”, and likely because after a while, you just can’t stand being around us Sowreys any longer.
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 3

At least we didn’t have to get up too early today, Choo Choo, and you let us sleep a bit longer. That helped rest away the many kilometres behind us. We hit breakfast, also at the Chicken Chef (there ain’t a lot of option in Whitewood), and then loaded up once more for our push to Winnipeg.
It took a lot longer than I thought to get here.
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 2

Choo Choo, I don’t think you yet have a real understanding of time. And certainly, you don’t understand the idea of letting Mommy or Daddy sleep in. Today, I’ll admit, that wasn’t something we would fault you for, since we all had to be up early. Grandpa wanted us on the road by 7:00. That meant getting up, dressed, fed, packed, and loaded.
And as Mommy and I have noticed, neither you nor your sister, Monkey, really understand the idea of “quickly”.
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The Great Family Roadtrip 2010, Day 1

Well, kids, today was a slow start to our cross-prairie adventure. The morning was otherwise ordinary, rising and having breakfast and dressing. But then I climbed into the car and took Asia away to her hotel for the next week. I know this caused a little concern for you, Monkey, because you were worried about her.
Grandpa and Granny arrived after lunch. We loaded up the minivan (which had a fair amount more cargo space than Mommy and I thought there might have been), loaded up you kids, and hit the road for a town called Medicine Hat.
The beginning of our first great family road trip.
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Four fun-filled days

I sit here at my kitchen table, rubbing the weariness from my eyes. Not the things you’d normally hear from me, mind you — I haven’t been working too hard as of late (as you know, my big project is done). No, this is from something much better — spending time with my family, and notably you, Monkey.
The last four days have been a lot of fun. Maybe even too much fun. Both of us are pretty pooped. You went to bed and for the first time in a long while, there wasn’t hours of chatter from your room. I think you pretty much passed out. I won’t be too far behind you, I think, but I do wish to describe the fun that we’ve shared.
‘Cuz, frankly, I’m not sure how the heck I survived it all…
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Monkey: Lost and Found

Well, Monkey, you gave us perhaps the greatest scare of Mommy’s and my parenthood today. Sure, we’ve seen you really sick with a couple of nasty colds, you’ve cut yourself in a couple of nasty falls, and definitely given us some worries during our return flight to Canada so many months ago now.
But today … today was a new echelon in fear. Today Mommy and I joined the ranks of millions of other parents who have had that moment where they doubt all the confidence and belief they have built up over years of careful watch and control over their child’s life. They see it crash down in a single moment, utterly ruined when they come to the horrific realisation that they don’t know where their child is.
Today, Monkey, you disappeared.
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Choo Choo's first Easter

Maybe I should actually have titled this: “Monkey’s last Easter where she gets all the eggs for herself”, but that just seems a little long. But it’s true, Monkey — next year, even if Choo Choo isn’t walking easily on her own, you’re going to have to share with her, even if just a little. That’s going to be a big note over the coming years — sharing. You’ve had everything to yourself for a long time, and you don’t exactly like giving things up.
(That’s okay, though. It’s not easy to do. Nana’s got a couple of pictures of me doing the “No, it’s MINE!” thing, too.)
So maybe as a last hurrah, or as a first foray into planning bigger and better things, Mommy organised (and mostly handled) the Easter egg hunt this year. Last year, we stayed in Santa Ana as Mommy wasn’t feeling well, and Holy Week in Costa Rica doesn’t involve rabbits hiding chocolate eggs. I think we wanted to make up for that.
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My Big Monkey

Hey Monkey! You’ve been a big sister now for over two weeks. It was a period of time in which Mommy and I were worried about how you’d treat your little sister, Choo Choo. There’s always that fear that you’d hurt her (presumably accidentally — I don’t want to suggest any malevolence on your part), or that you’d resent her coming into our family. I mean, let’s be honest, you’ve had the run of the show for a long time now.
But I guess this is also a sign of your maturity. It seems strange to call a 2.5 year old “mature”, but I can’t think of a better word to really describe you. We’ve seen the “Terrible Twos” from you, but no more than I’d think to be average. And, truthfully, I’ve seen far less since Choo Choo arrived.
You’ve grown up, my daughter.
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