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Monday, 06 February 2012 14:23

Keeping in Mind the Great Blessings...

When my daughter was about 7 months old, I decided I wanted to start trying for a second baby.  Although having children less than 2 years apart would (I'm sure) be much more work than having them closer to 3 years apart, I have theorized that children who are closer in age tend to be closer friends to each other.

My daughter is currently almost 14 months old, and I am still not pregnant.  I am back on fertility drugs (I had to go on fertility medication to have Celia also), and it has been almost 5 months (it took only until the second month to become pregnant with Celia). 

I am struggling with the possibility that my body may not be able to conceive another child.  I have PCOS, so it was possible I would not be able to get pregnant the first time.  I am also coming to terms with the possibility that it is not in God's plan for me to have another child - and I am constantly praying that His Will is what determines my life, and not mine. 

I was just 24 years old when I decided to start actively trying to have a child.  Knowing it could take awhile, I wanted to know for sure if I wasn't able to have children naturally so that I could look into the process of adoption early.  I probably would have pegged myself as too young except that I expected it would take me up to 5 years, and I hoped to have most of my children before I turned 35 - whether I had them naturally or adopted them. 

I remember dreaming about having a child when I was a teenager, and although I always said I wanted more than 2 or 3 children, the only child I ever visualized was one little girl.  She had blonde, curly hair, and big eyes. 

The December before I turned 26, our little Celia was born.

Whether or not I am able to have or adopt any more children - I try to remember to thank God daily that he allowed me to have my one beautiful, big-eyed baby girl.

 

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 28 December 2011 12:09

Christmas Stresses

Do not misinterpret this blog entry - I love Christmas, mostly.

However, when you are the oldest in all of your families, and all of your grandparents are still in the habit of picking either the 25th or the 26th of December on which to have their Christmas gatherings and because you are married you have five sets of said grandparents, and because you have a child EVERYONE wants you to be at each gathering so they can see the baby.... well, it gets a bit crazy around the holidays.

In addition to our five sets of Grandparents, we have our own parents who - due to the fact that they are now grandparents themselves - would like to host a Christmas gathering for their families also.

If we intend to spend a day with our own immediate family, we are juggling at LEAST 8 different family 'days' into only a few days of holiday.

Again, not to come across wrong - I do love Christmas, and I am so grateful for all of the family we have, but sometimes I just want to hide under a rock!

The past couple of years have made me seriously evaluate my priorities when it comes to Christmas, and make my choices based on these. 

Firstly, I believe that Christmas is an extremely 'un-Christian' holiday as we celebrate it today.  We focus a LOT on consumerism and end up spending a lot of money on unnecessary items just for the fun of it.  Unfortunately for me, I have a lot of fond feelings of attachment toward this type of Christmas, so I don't really want to let it go... In order to make myself feel better, I have resolved to make the 'Christian' part of the holiday the most important part - which involves, for us, attending the Christmas Eve service at church, as well as doing everything I can to teach my children the story of Jesus' birth.

Secondly, I am selfishly deciding that I want an entire day to spend with my husband and children (when our descendents become plural).  One whole day, no exceptions.

Thirdly, our parents have earned their 'Grandparent' status, and they are next on our line of priorities.  As long as it doesn't conflict with our own time with our kids, we will plan to spend a day with each set of parents. 

After that, if it's possible to attend our Grandparent gatherings (that's Great-Grandparents for our daughter), we will.  Although the way I'm feeling this week, I'd almost like to cut them all out...

Oh well.  I'm looking around my house at strewn toys and tissue paper and wishing I had the energy to get off my butt and do something about it, but I think I will say 'maybe later' and, well... maybe i'll get to it later.

Published in Blog
Sunday, 18 December 2011 00:58

Heirlooms... sort of.

Last weekend was my daughter's first birthday party, but I'll get to that later...  during preparation, my Grandma offered to make cupcakes for the party but ended up being unable to ice the cupcakes herself due to time constraints.  She did, however, make her classic decorating icing that I remember from my childhood and dropped off the cupcakes, icing, and a small tupperware container holding her set of Wilton icing bags and tips.

This may not seem like an overly big deal, but I think my feelings toward these icing tips may be similar to the way some people might feel about holding their mothers wedding dress - and being told that they could actually USE said wedding dress. 

I spent large parts of my childhood with my Grandma.  She was my replacement 'Mom' for almost the first decade of my life, and so I feel just as close to her (I think) as I would if she were my Mother.  Some of my clearest memories are of watching my Grandma decorate my birthday cakes, make icing flowers that she would stick in the freezer to harden faster, and of sneaking into the back of the cupboard where she kept these icing supplies to sneak some of the tiny icing flowers she always had a stash of. 

So, I felt absolutely HONORED to be given these icing bags to use.  My Grandma even made a comment about possibly passing them on to me, because 'no one else uses them anymore'.  I haven't heard more on that yet, but I'm excited that this could be a possibility...

ANYWAY, I set to work icing my daughter's birthday cupcakes, trying to emulate the style my Grandma would have used on all of my birthday cakes as a child.  I began imagining myself going to bulk barn to rent one of their many cake pans and decorating it using my newly practiced skill.  They didn't actually turn out too badly, and it was fun in a nostalgic sort of way to be doing this.

A few days later I recruited a couple of my piano students to help decorate some mini-cupcakes for the annual Christmas recital, and completely without thinking, I set them up to use my Grandma's wonderful icing bags.  I recall, when I was younger, that keeping the pressure off the icing so as not to burst through the bag was much more difficult than I find it now.  I recall this because both of these girls reminded me by bursting large holes through these icing bags! 

I really couldn't be angry, and neither was my Grandma - thankfully.  The bags were old, and well used, so it was all too likely they would weaken eventually.  It made me sad though, to see these 'heirlooms' break, and to know that I can't always hold on to everything.

I can buy new bags.  And the tips should last forever.  Maybe someday I will have an even bigger collection that I can pass on to my daughter and tell her that 'these used to belong to your Great Grandma...' It's pretty sappy, but it makes me smile. 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 22:07

June 1, 2010

Just to give some background...

On June 1, 2010 (I was 3 months pregnant at the time) as I was getting ready for work in the morning I saw a text message from my Mom asking me to call her as soon as possible.  My parents live directly across the street from my Grandparents (the ones I am really close to because they had a big part in raising me) and both of my Grandparents have had significant health issues that have put them in the hospital for long periods of time and have made us more than a little nervous.  So, my first thought was that something serious had happened to one of them. 

I never expected it to be about my Father. 

Even though he had gone through cancer five years earlier, by the time he was telling me about the diagnosis, he was also able to tell me what the game plan was.  He came through it beautifully - and the key words in that previous sentence were that 'he was telling me'.  There is something so reassuring about hearing about something from the person who is 'not ok' - because when you can hear their voice, you know that they are at least somewhat 'ok'.

This time it wasn't my Dad telling me anything.

My mom was telling me that Dad had experienced an odd sort of bleeding in his brain.  Although the doctors said it wasn't a stroke or an aneurism, the effects were similar.  He was left unable to communicate correctly - he said yes when he meant no and the reverse.  He couldn't wrap his head around long sentences and couldn't 'find' words that to most of us come to our lips without any effort.  He could understand everything as far as we knew - the 'input' was working fine - but the 'output' was completely broken.  Although he could make sounds with his mouth, he had forgotten how to speak, could no longer write, and had to relearn how to do simple tasks like turning on the tv and reading a book. 

Over the next few months we learned very little about Dad's situation.  Doctors did a number of tests and scans and could find no cause of the bleeding.  He also gradually improved until he was almost completely back to normal.  Only those of us who knew him really well would know that he was at all different and that his comprehension was not what it once was, and when he stumbled for words or stuttered that this was a result of his odd 'injury'.  We were so hopeful.

Until it happened again. 

And again.

And again.

Each time he would begin with less ability than the time before, and each time he would recover to almost what he was like before the current bleeding.  It was like he was jumping down a flight of stairs, then taking all but one step up, then jumping down another flight, but each time he was ending up a step below where he had been before. 

On Saturday morning I got a text from my Mom saying that it had happened again.  This time he was in the ICU and they were keeping him in a drug-induced coma because each time they tried to let him wake up he would go into seizures which would only make the damage worse. 

Today they removed his breathing tube.

My Dad is 52 years old, and he will never be the man I used to know.  He has one grandaughter (Clara) who is nearly one, and although she might get to know this new man who acts a bit like a child and loves her dearly - she will never get to know the Dad I had growing up.  This is unbelievably difficult for me.  My Dad was my hero - he refused to let my mother abort me, and when he found out she was about to take off with me - he chose single parenthood over letting me go.  My Dad taught me how to be strong, how to be realistic about myself and my abilities, how to work hard for what I want and how to push myself to achieve anything I want to.  He taught me how to be strong about what I believe, and although he believed very differently than I do, it has been because of him that my faith has been challenged and I have become so much stronger in my faith and relationship with God.  My Dad was a master craftsman who could build anything, even though he didn't really think of himself that way.  He was never very good in school, but he taught me to read when I was 3 and it wasn't until I was much older that I learned that when he spent days and days with his nose in some textbook or other, that it took him three times as long to read it as I would because he was dyslexic and had to really focus to make all of the words stand still.  He bought me a textbook on philosophy when I was 12 and I read it, and we discussed things in detail and debated everything.  It is because of my Dad that I am the geek that I am, and that I have the passion for learning that I do.  I can completely respect a view that is opposite to mine because I always respected his, and he always respected mine. 

I could go on forever about my Dad, and I suppose no one would want to read it.  I think my point has been made, and I hope that my next blog post will have some good news.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 20:54

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so I'm a day late... I just couldn't get over how awesome our costumes were this year so I had to share them.

 

It's not the greatest picture, but if you take a look at Robert Munch's 'The Paper Bag Princess', I think you'll agree these costumes are pretty epic.  We started with the dragon costume (store bought, but we had to start somewhere) and then did some brainstorming for some costumes that we could wear that went along with hers... this idea came from one of my piano students actually, so I can't really take credit for that but I think I did a pretty good job pulling it off.  And most of it was done the day of - have I mentioned I'm awesome? Obviously I'm pretty proud of myself...

I was a bit disappointed by how many people had no idea who I was (people who are either too old for or simply not fans of Robert Munch...).  I did have one drive-by recognition when a girl stuck her head out of her window and yelled 'Hey! The Paper Bag Princess!!!'. 

As a Christian, I struggle with Halloween - particularly when it is used to promote some really ghoulish and demonic stuff.  I also, however, enjoy dressing up and I love everything involved in creating a great costume and Halloween seems to be the only chance I get to have a really great time with 'costuming'.  So, as long as my children are still young enough to allow me to trick-or-treat with them, I will dress up with them and enjoy that part of it also. 

Published in Blog
Thursday, 20 October 2011 09:31

Stress and Confusion...

So I've already mentioned how last month was a stressful time for my husband and I, but I didn't outline another 'thing' that was keeping things complicated because I didn't know what was going on...

A few months ago, my husband and I decided that it wouldn't be the end of the world if I became pregnant with another baby.  For a number of reasons, I would like to have my babies close together, and since we had trouble getting pregnant with Celia, I thought I should allow some time to have the same struggle again. 

So about three weeks ago (right in the middle of my husband's joblessness), I started experiencing some symptoms that I thought might be indicative of pregnancy.  I took a home pregnancy test that said nothing.  I still thought there was something going on, though, so I waited another couple of days and took another test.  My husband told me I was imagining it, but I swear that a faint (ok, REALLY faint) positive showed up on that stick.  I tested every morning for the next few days until FINALLY - a pink line that my husband agreed was there! 

I realize this was jumping the gun, but I got pretty excited - I started thinking of our family as though it already had two children and thinking about what to name this new baby.  My husband was pretty excited too. 

Two days later, I took another test that was very clearly (even to me) negative.  I know that many pregnancies end in early miscarriage (what 'they' call a 'chemical pregnancy') - and that it is only because we have such sensitive tests now that we even know about these lost pregnancies.  I was still pretty devastated.  Even two days of thinking I had another baby was enough for me to be quite attached...

But still I waited, and continued to be late.  A week later, I took another test and again - I was sure I saw another faint positive!  Thoroughly confused at this point, and still no obvious signs that I WASN'T pregnant - I went online and learned about things like cancers and ectopic pregnancies that could cause low levels of HCG... ok, I'll admit - this was one time when maybe over-educating myself was not helpful.  Two days later a test was negative... again...

I eventually ended up at my OBGYN's office, and she assured me that although she didn't know why I might be getting a faint positive on a pregnancy test - except for the first one - that I was not pregnant.  So I'm back on Serophene!  Bring on the multiples!

I am still late, and my only answer for this is because of my PCOS and the fact that I am heavier than I have ever been in the past due to the excess baby weight that I still haven't lost.  PCOS (which causes weight gain, and is also made worse by weight) causes irregular periods and infertility, so I suppose I should not have been surprised.

Anyway, wish us luck! Hopefully it will be as easy this time as it was with Celia. 

We don't really want multiples though, by the way...

Published in Blog
Monday, 10 October 2011 11:29

Thanksgiving

Brian and I are blessed with having almost all of our Grandparents still living, with the exception of only one - Brian's maternal Grandpa, who passed away only a couple of years ago.

I want to preface this by saying that I love the fact that our daughter has so many people to adore her, as I had a wonderful relationship with my Great Grandmother as a child, and I love that she will also have relationships with hers. 

However... being the oldest in our families with so many (relatively) young Grandparents has its frustrations when it comes to the holidays.  First, I'll outline what our family looks like... Brian's paternal Grandparents had three sons, of whom only one had children - Brian and his younger brother.  His maternal Grandma has a large family who rarely are able to get together for gatherings due to their number and how spread out they are.  My family is slightly more complicated... when I was a baby, my biological parents split up, and I was left with my Dad whose parents had a large hand in raising me until he remarried when I was 8.  So I have three sets of Grandparents - my bio-mother's parents, my step-mom's (who I will always refer to as 'Mom') parents, and my paternal Grandparents who are probably closer to me than Grandparents often are due to the fact that they were so much like parents to me when I was a child.

It has always been our tradition as I was growing up, to spend a half-day at home with my parents and younger brother, then juggle the other three Grandparent gatherings into the 24th, 25th and 26th of December.  Brian's family had a similar tradition. Needless to say, trying to juggle all five Grandparents plus two parents gatherings into three days is a bit of a challenge for us.

In three of these families, Celia is the first Great Grandchild.  Luckily for us, all of our maternal Grandparent families (coincidentally) are larger and have already become accustomed to the concept of spreading out the gathering or moving it to a less busy time in order to accommodate everyone.  That leaves us with two sets of Grandparents, each of our parents as well as spending our own time at home with Celia.    The most difficult part of this for me, is that one of these Brian's paternal Grandparents are completely unwilling to negotiate on the day and time of their gathering, and are offended when we can't attend whatever they have planned.  My paternal Grandparents on the other hand, are completely understanding of our difficulty and are far from offended if we are unable to attend their gathering.  This is difficult for me, since theirs is the one Grandparent gathering I would like to never miss, considering my close relationship to them - although it seems unfair to prioritize them since it isn't Brian's Grandparents fault that my mother chose to leave me (which is why our relationship is so close - my paternal Grandmother being the only mother I knew until I was 7).

Aaargh!

Anyway, I would love to bring up our daughter to enjoy holidays and the busyness of family gatherings, but I fear that our stress of trying to accommodate and appease everyone will be too evident.  Brian particularly hates these times of year - especially now that he gets to fend off all of the 'have you found a job yet?' inquiries. 

I guess it comes to down to us defining our own priorities and whether they are correct or not - or make anyone else happy or not - do what we can to make these times enjoyable for us and for our children. 

 

Published in Blog
Saturday, 01 October 2011 23:33

Connected Parenting

I began reading a book recently called 'Connected Parenting', by Jennifer Kolari.  I had never heard of 'connected parenting' before but fully expected to disagree with it entirely.   I personally find myself dismissing anything that seems related to 'Attachment Parenting' (which I, admittedly, don't know very much about), and presumed that although I was interested in reading this book for scholarly reasons, I would find nothing of use to myself.

I was very wrong.

The basic point of this book (so far) is to encourage parents to empathize with their children.  This may seem like common sense, but as I read on, some of the examples given by the author reminded me of some of my own frustrations in childhood.  I have an excellent relationship with my father, but I was continually frustrated by his attempts to 'fix' each and every situation I found myself in.  I have learned that even now I cannot tell him about a negative experience I have had, without an "It will all be ok because..." or "Next time do this differently...", etc.  Now, he means well and in retrospect I realize that this is a completely natural response for me also - this is what we do.  What I wanted from my Dad as a child, and still do, is for him to just LISTEN, with maybe a 'Yeah, that sucks' every so often.   'Connected Parenting' outlines exactly how to do that, and although at times her examples are a little extreme and it sometimes seems like a long-winded response to a very simple question, it may not be easy for many people to do.  Particularly if, like myself, they have grown up with a very different 'norm'.

I was discussing some of the principles Kolari mentions with my husband this morning, and having decided a while ago that parenting by instinct is the best way to go, he immediately got defensive and started outlining reasons why her theories were wrong.  I don't deny there may be holes in any theory - and not everything will work for all families - but I have come to a sort of agreement with myself;  In the future when I pick up a book to read (and I plan to read as many as I can get my hands on, as a scholar-mom), I will assume that it will contain something valuable for me to learn.  I think most of us can admit that there may have been some behaviors passed down to us through generations that may not be helping us to be the best people - or parents - that we can be, and if my reading can bring my attention to these things, I want to be ready to learn.

I came back to my husband later in the day and asked him to consider adopting a similar philosophy.  I mentioned how our relationship has not been perfect - how each of us does things in ways that we think are normal and beneficial because that is how our parents treated each other, or whatever.  I don't think there's a relationship out there that doesn't have some imperfections in this behavioral 'code' we all have in us, so personally, I don't see how we can assume that our instincts will be correct in all circumstances either.

Maybe that's just me.

Published in Blog
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