29.9.13

A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW

Over the past few weeks, I've been working to put together Lauren's photo books. Before I had her, I had always planned to do a photobook a month for her first year. When I was making them, I stopped cold at 5 months old. I couldn't look at the photos long enough without crying to be able to put them into a book. But it is amazing what a groupon deadline can do for a person. I sat down, cried when I needed to and put the book together.

The whole process has actually been incredibly cathartic. There was one night that I totally lost it and sobbed for the life I had planned for Lauren but I think I really needed that. When the book arrived, it was hard to see but I could look through it and also see the cuteness, the funny smiles and the progress that Lauren made.

A few days ago, Lauren and I drove past Children's Hospital and, rather than having heavy feelings about her time there, I reached back and asked for a high five. I got quite a few in response. That girl loves a high five!

Lauren's official report for her last cardiac checkup showed up in the mail as well and it was encouraging to see her improvements written there in black and white.
"This is a followup note on Lauren who, since her last visit in April, continues to improve."
"She is very interactive and alert and her pulses and vital signs seem fine."
"Her ECG shows mild improvement...."
"The myocardium inferior to this area is normal and the contractile motion of the heart is improving on each assessment."
And I think this one is my favourite because of the tone of surprise:
"Her echocardiogram shows good left ventricular function which is now actually in the normal range."

It is nice being able to look at her fight as something that is farther and farther in the rearview mirror. Sometimes when I think about it, I feel like maybe I'm just being overdramatic by thinking that she almost died because that doesn't really happen, does it? But it did. And I love that it is getting hard to believe that it did.



24.9.13

AHH, THE WORK WEEKEND

I'm finally starting to understand why so many moms call going to work "a break" from the kids. Working 3 days a week is like working a long weekend and sometimes it is starting to feel like a break. Lauren is hard work! That kid just doesn't stop. And she is getting more and more opinionated and doesn't seem to understand that she can't always get what she wants. I think that is typical for this age and I'm sticking to my "no" but it is hard. Sometimes I just want to say, "Fine, smack that computer keyboard as hard as you want!" just to make the whining and tantrums stop. I make her sound like a little maniac and most of the day she is lovely, but on those days when she won't take no for an answer, it seems like the day lasts forever. Is it nap time yet?

Yesterday I had to go run some errands and I made the call not to bring Lauren's stroller. Big mistake. "Project Baby Sausage" has been going well and Lauren is starting to gain weight. I was literally sweating on our outing through Sears (it didn't help that my arms were full of tiny rain clothes, winter pants and boots, all while trying to wrangle a writhing contortionist baby and appear cool, calm and collected). Once I was done what I had to do, I put her down and let her explore the store a bit as we walked back to the car. It was so funny to watch her sing to herself in the mirror, check out the clothes on display and try to hold hands with the lady mannequins.






An aside: You might notice that Lauren is rocking the piggie tails lately. She sits so nicely while I put them into her hair which is good because a certain loving friend of mine is obsessed with me cutting her hair because Lauren just happens to have a mullet. She can't help that her lower hair is growing much faster than her top hair! Since Lauren won't keep bows or clips in her hair (she reaches up, grabs it, yanks it out of her hair, looks at it like I put a huge poop on her head and launches it as far from herself as possible), piggies it is! That way it doesn't look like a mullet, it looks like purposeful cuteness.

So today, I started my work-end and Lauren had to get dropped off at daycare (so I can have a break and spend my day with other people's kids), and she walked herself up to the door to knock. She doesn't actually knock, she just puts her pointer finger and thumb together and taps at the door, but you get the idea. Then, when K opened the door, Lauren walked right in and gave her a big hug. K picked her up and Lauren cuddled right in. It is so nice to leave her somewhere that she feels loved... but it also made me a little mommy jealous. It is nice to be able to go to work and not have to worry about how she is doing because I know she's doing just fine. My baby is growing up.


22.9.13

COMPUTER EXCUSES

I've been absent from blogging because every spare moment I've had with my computer has been working on finishing a website for Lauren's future preschool. But that's finally done so hopefully there will be posts coming up soon!

Check it out here for one of the best preschools in Vancouver. My kid is going to be reading before she hits Grade 1. No pressure.


16.9.13

SNAPS OF LAUREN

Lauren has been getting such a huge personality. That is frightening because she has had a large personality for quite a long time now and to think that it is getting bigger seems impossible. Here are a few shots of her from this past week doing some Laurenisms.

Pulling apart dandelions... just not in our yard!

Visiting me at work. She made herself right at home (so just like at home, she made a huge mess in no time).

Tired morning angel.

Lauren spends extensive periods of time having conversations on all of our phones and her crib monitor. Apparently people still hear best on her shoulder.

The number of books that Lauren has is nuts. But she loves them so it is okay.

Ummm....

She runs all the time now! And she's quick.

This is proof positive that all crazy in her is from Matt's part of the gene pool.

11.9.13

REALITY CHECK

Posting has gone down here. Way down. With work, commuting, taking care of Lauren, making dinner, and trying frantically to create photobooks before my Groupons expire, posting has taken a back seat. It is a definite change to my life. I feel like I'm so much more busy, but I've also been getting up earlier and making better use of my time. This morning, I got Lauren and I ready to head out and we were early so I turned on some tunes so that she could dance (her latest favourite thing) and then scrubbed down all of the sinks in our house. 

Lauren has done amazingly well at daycare this week! Her daycare worker, K, offered her Shreddies on her first day this week and Lauren decided that since the Shreddies were so great, she would be okay going there. She has napped like a champ, played by herself and with some of the other kids and spent lots of time outside at daycare (even jumping on the trampoline).

In the evening, Lauren is so wiped from daycare that she goes to bed by 7. It is nice to have a bit more time in the evening to ourselves and I have been using that time to work on those dreaded photobooks. I say dreaded, not because I don't love a good photobook, but because I was stuck at 5 months. Until that time, I love looking at photos of Lauren, but at 5 months, when she starts to look tired and sad in some of the photos and I just know what is coming up, I hate it. However, it is amazing what I will force myself to do in order to save some money. So I sat down with Matt beside me and started editing photos. There has been a lot of crying, with one particularly hard evening, but also a lot of healing. Putting the photos and the words from the blog onto paper make it seem so much more real than just an elusive memory. It is hard because it makes it seem to permanent. Yes, it was a time in Lauren's life, but it doesn't define who she is today so I just don't want to go back there and get stuck again mentally. Today I ended on this post. Maybe not the best place to stop but it isn't her reality right now. Her reality right now is being curled up in her crib with Pat shoved down by her feet and her soft blanket draped across her side. And 9 hours from now, her reality will be starting on another day of mischief (like a few days ago when she toodled out of her bedroom where Elysha and I were and when I went out a few minutes late, expecting to see her playing with her toys in the kitchen, I found her sitting in the middle of the dining room table holding a container of cookies! Is it wrong that my first thought was to get the camera?). 

I'm excited to spend time with her again tomorrow. She is so much fun right now with so much dancing, her love of interactive songs, using my makeup brushes to pretty up the bathtub, climbing on anything and everything and her interest in going new places. Tomorrow she is going to come to my school for a bit in the evening for a Back to School Picnic. I wonder what she'll wear?! (Oh, because that's one of the other things, she picks her shoes now, so her outfits need to match the day's shoe selection. Her obsession with shoes has started already.) 


7.9.13

NOT HER HAPPIEST WEEK

Lauren and I both spent the week trying to adjust to our new schedules. It is nice that I don't start work until later so we can be pretty chill in the morning and spend lots of time being together. By Thursday, Lauren was over it. Her daycare woman, K, called me in the afternoon to ask if lots of crying could hurt Lauren's heart. As a cardiac baby's mom herself, she remembered the strict instructions not to let your heart baby cry. And mine was crying up a storm. I guess Lauren realized that spending time apart a few days a week isn't a special thing, it is a regular thing now. I don't think I've ever left school faster than I did that day. I miss Lauren through the day as well!

Yesterday, we got to celebrate our day together by taking Lauren to get her shots. Blah. Even though her pediatrician said it wouldn't help, I went out and bought the Emla numbing cream that they used when she got her shots in the hospital. Lauren was a little frustrated that I was wrapping her limbs in saran wrap to keep the cream on but it totally paid off. There wasn't a single tear! The nurse said that it was the first time she had seen this in an 18 month old.

Lauren before her shots:


After her shots! Note the dry eyes?!
 Waiting to see if she has a reaction to them. Does super hyper running count as a reaction?

Later that day, we paid for it though. Lauren spiked a fever (I know that's good because it shows that her immune system is doing its job) and she spent the rest of the night on Tylenol, whining, crying and refusing to leave my arms. Sometimes, TV is such a welcome distraction. Tangled was popped in and finally we settled Lauren enough that she could go down for the night (though I couldn't brag about her sleeping through the night last night. At least that isn't a regular thing now!).

Hopefully next week is easier on her than this one was. But, hey, at least this is normal hard stuff for a little kid. I love being able to call my daughter normal.


2.9.13

REMINISCING ON MOMMYHOOD


Today is my last day as a full time mom. It has been 18 months and 23 days since Lauren was born and since I have assumed the role of "whatever you want, my dear." I am going back to work excited to return to something that is different and sad to think that there are firsts that I won't be able to be there for anymore.

So, today I'm looking back at my experience as a full time mom (something I swore I would never be and the only thing that Matt and I ever really fought about... obviously he won and I'm glad that he was right).

I think that a list of the highs and lows of mommyhood as I know it would be a good was to think back. 


Top Ten Best Things:

1. Hugs. When Lauren first started to give hugs, it was one of the most heartwarming things that she did. I love now when I open up my arms to her and she comes running and throws herself right in for a big squeeze. When she hugs me, it is with so much gentleness and softness and I know that she is being so intentional about showing how much she cares.

2. Touching Lauren. I noticed this morning that her feet are starting to lose that baby softness that little one's skin has but everywhere else her skin is still so soft. And it smells good. I have been known to say (often) that smelling Lauren is my crack. Maybe not the best saying, but considering that I haven't done any drugs ever in my life, I will allow myself to get high off the scent of my child's head. Judge me if you must.


3. Baby babble. Lauren might not be "speaking" much but she is babbling all the time. There are large hand gestures, intonation, and body language involved and often she looks so serious about what she is saying that it is hard not to laugh. As her sign language progresses, many of her hand gestures have more of a purpose, but some of them concern me. For instance, when she asks for me to pick her up, I insist she also say please. I tried to teach her to sign for up, simply by reaching her hands above her head. That has become a single hand reach and then she moves onto please which she has made a quick slap of her chest before extending her arm again. When you put those two motions together... it become a little socially awkward. Act it out and you'll see why. It doesn't help that she has blond hair and blue eyes either. So we encourage the babble.

4. Phone calls. Lauren will pick anything up that bears a slight resemblance to a phone and balance it on her shoulder and start talking (enter in the baby babble). If she can't find a phone and an important call needs to be made, she just places her hand on her shoulder and gets great reception even without a phone. 


5. Kisses. She doesn't always want to give a kiss and we respect that but when she does want a kiss, she gets a super serious look on her face and leans right into your mouth. Usually it is a kind little kiss but every once in a while, she shoots her mouth open at the last minute and you end up with a tongue on the face. Lovely. 

6. Thursday night Rookie Blue time. During the summer, Matt was away on Thursday nights at touch rugby and Lauren and I would have girls' night. After dinner and her bath, we would snuggle up on the couch and watch Rookie Blue (while I would get mommy high off of smelling her skin). I know that it isn't the best cop drama around but I like it and for some reason she really enjoys it too. Don't worry, we fast forward through the "cop" stuff. Mostly the characters just walk around and talk to each other.

7. Cuddling in bed. On the weekends, Matt gets Lauren up and, after changing her, he brings her into our bed where she spends the next half an hour or so cuddling with us. It is so nice to enjoy that morning time and just relax together, rather than jumping up and starting in on a busy day. I try to cherish every minute of it.

8. Seeing things through Lauren's eyes. The geese in the graveyard that we often walk in are a constant source of fascination for Lauren (she gasps out, "Woooow," when she first spots them). I used to just hate them because I would be walking and dodging poop the whole time but now I dodge poop while also calling out "Woooow." Rocks, butterflies and big trucks are also woooows that I never noticed before. I'm still not the hugest fan of them but I like to see what Lauren finds exciting. 

9. Not caring. Obviously I'm not talking about not caring about Lauren, but not caring about many of the little things that I used to care about before. If the dishes have to wait until tomorrow, that's okay. If there are toys strewn about the living room, I'll clean them up when she goes to bed. It's like anything that could take away from my ability to be healthy and present for her I've been able to let go and it is so freeing. Even being able to be totally honest here is such a blessing. I don't have to keep up an image or pretend that everything is okay because everything isn't okay for anyone and if we could all just be real about it, things would be so much simpler. It is much easier to help someone when they tell you what they need, rather than just saying that they're fine. 

10. Enjoying the moments. I love watching Lauren. She is hilarious and sensitive and adventurous. I relish in the fact that I take delight in her. I know how it feels not too, from the period when I was immersed in my depression and this is a way better place to be in. We also know what it feels like to be afraid that there will not be any more moments and I think that really brings this last point home. It has become part of our lives and I'm so glad that we have come out of this year with an ability to feel so much joy and thankfulness.

Well, if you made it through all of that sap, things are about to get real.

Here are the 10 Least Enjoyable Things About Having a Kid.

1. The good old "point and whine." Sometimes I think that Lauren's speech couldn't come soon enough but I know that then it will just be "words and whine." As her signing develops, this is decreasing but I swear that whine noise could send me over the deep edge. Sometimes I just walk up to Matt and say, "Your turn," and he totally gets it.

2. Pooping in the bath. Seriously! My child is in diapers for 23.5 hours of the day and in that short half an hour she is magically able to make a poop appear. She went on a tear for awhile there and every single time we put her in the bath, a poop would rear its ugly head. I was ready to start just wiping her down at the end of the day with a cloth. 

      
3. Toys. Compared to her friends, Lauren doesn't have that many toys. However, when that number suddenly doubles or quadruples even with the addition of every item in every drawer that she can reach, it becomes a bit of a toy overload. Now I understand why some people give one basket at a time and rotate the other toys out of the house. 

4. Feeding. I despise feeding Lauren. The whole process often involves a lot of "point and whine" and refusal of food. It can be a food that Lauren loves but she is asserting her independence by refusing to eat it. So lately I have just resigned myself to a huge mess as I let her feed herself. I figure that as long as she isn't starving, we're doing okay. And, hey, at least eating doesn't make her pass out anymore. I swear that took year off my life. No wonder I've developed a feeding aversion.


5. Pulling hair. From Day 1, Lauren has been a hair puller. It used to be huge handfuls of hair which wasn't so bad because the pain would be spread over a large area. Then she moved on to just pulling the hairs at the nape of my neck which often left me in tears. Now, as her fine motor skills have progressed, she finds a single hair that seems to look like it wants to escape and she helps it. It usually escapes clean off of my head. I've worn a lot of ponytails this year.

6. Temper tantrums in public. Lauren throws temper tantrums at home and she is picked up, placed down in her room and we walk away. Those tantrums are usually short lived and they are becoming much less frequent. In public they are harder. I still deal with them firmly by picking her up and stopping her movement, but she has that cute thing going. Half the time when Lauren is throwing a tantrum, there are people looking on saying, "Isn't she so cute?!" No. No she is not. Just because she has those blue eyes and blond hair does not mean that she should get away with murder. I'm going to have to stay on top of this kid!

7. Losing myself. For a period of many months there, I felt like all I was was Lauren's mom. Every single thing I did was for her. For obvious reasons, I couldn't leave her. Because she struggled with sleeping without crying and vomiting, I always had to be there when she was sleeping as well. It was day and night for over a year. In the past week, I've completed two baby quilts, gone on walks, gone for bike rides with Matt and Lauren, made stuff for the library and read two books. As Lauren gets older, I'm finding more balance between being a mom and being myself as well. I love letting my brain go and seeing what ideas I can come up with. I have ideas for books in my head and ideas for designs I want to make. And now that I'm off my medication, I'm not to exhausted to actually do things. It is nice to finally feel a sense of balance. 

8. Laundry. When it was just Matt and I we did two loads of laundry a week, maybe three if we were exercising a lot. It is amazing how someone so little can cause the amount of laundry to increase exponentially. 


9. Baby body. Until I stopped breastfeeding, this wasn't an issue. During pregnancy I gained 17 pounds (including baby) and pretty soon afterwards I was comfortable with how I looked. It helped that she was so tiny and she ate all the time. But since she has been weaned, and I didn't immediately wean myself off of chocolate ice cream, there have been issues. And it isn't that I'm so fat or anything like that. I just want to make sure that, as the mom of a little girl, I am sending her the right message about body image. I don't ever want her to hear me say that I look fat or I'm disgusting or anything like that because I know then she will start to look at herself. So, for me and for her, I want to look and feel healthy. 

10. That she's growing up so quickly. This is a mixed blessing. I love seeing her change and grow and discover new things but I miss the habits that she used to have or the things that she used to do. In a way, I feel like we missed a big part of her being a baby, right when she was getting more interactive and fun. I spent some time grieving for what we lost when I thought that we had a healthy baby. It is miraculous that she is as healthy as she is now and I choose to look at it as a cup half full situation, but sometimes I get sad for the part of the cup that spilled out. 

Tomorrow, everything changes. I head back to work and Lauren goes on to daycare. I'm glad that my job is only part time and that I have been scheduled to work from recess until the end of the day, because then I still get time in the morning with my little girl. And, as I have learned from the past 18 months and 23 days, I will continue to enjoy every moment (...except maybe the ones where we're stuck in traffic on the bridge).
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