Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hot Hot Heat

          I love that band. It is also really really hot outside these days, despite the rain we've been getting. I do not handle heat well and neither do small children for whom outdoor play is the quintessential Summertime experience. Catch-22 for those of us brave enough to be caring for them full-time. Abby and I have one week left of work, and then we will be retreating to the cottage a few days a week to beat the city heat. Which, by the way, seems worse than regular run-of-the-mill heat in that it also throws sweaty people, car exhaust and every smelly green bin ever into the mix. 

         So how do we beat the heat these days? Well-placed fans and a portable air conditioner for starters. Baths, light fabric and colours, water, water, water. Hydrating during this heat is really important; it keeps headaches at bay, keeps you sweating, and gives you an excuse to run into an air conditioned place to relieve your over-full bladder! Basically it's a win, win, win. Hats, sun glasses and sun screen are also high on our packing list for outings of ANY duration. I don't know if you've seen pictures of Abby or not, (ha) but she may or may not be extremely susceptible to the effects of the Sun. 

        Today after work we walked home (I wear her to and from work which, though a short walk, is SWEATY in this heat I tell ya) and went straight to Mommy's bed to relax, have a drink and soak up all the air conditioned goodness. I couldn't get over how funny Abby was being despite it being her post-work crash witching hour so I grabbed my camera to show her off again. She also learned a pretty neat trick recently which I thought I'd show you. 

          Woo hoo, we learned about gravity and FINALLY tipped the cup on our own! Abby has been using bottles and sippy cups of water for as long as she's been in a high chair and eating solids- but the notion of tipping the cup was far from her radar. "Isn't that mommy or daddy's job anyway?" Now she tips cups even without handles, I love it!
        "Lady, I knew that I had to tip the silly cup, it was just more fun to make you do it every time I wanted to drink. Dance, monkey. Dance." - What she was thinking when I took this picture (obviously)

            Peek-a-boo elicits this reaction every time! I love it, and the giggles? Oh the giggles and squeals how they kill me. 

        This air conditioning feels nice. 

          Seriously, how is this child mine? How did she grow inside me? Oh Abigail, we love you so much, even in this heat.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Angel Grandma

        A few nights ago Abby fell asleep, stark naked, on her change table as I massaged her after her bath. She slept through me diapering her, and clothing her in her pyjamas. In fact, she didn't wake up enough to have her bottle until I sat in the rocking chair and sang her "Itsy Bitsy Spider."  


       That was the song my mom sang to her.  She sang it to her in her favourite brown leather recliner on Christmas Eve, over Skype from my childhood breakfast table and from her hospital bed three days before she passed as Abby bounced along in her carrier. I sing it to Abby everynight now. Her eyes sparkle and a smile curls across her lips, bottle still emptying rapidly, and I can feel her whole body react. As the close of the song comes I feel all of her muscles relax. The sparkle fades to a more subdued lustre and she rubs her eyes. Her eyelids grow heavy and I whisper that I love her, that her Angel Grandma loves her. She knows that my heart is hurting, and she knows how to mend it; the beautiful girl I hold in my arms every night helps me inhale again everytime my heart breaks. 

      During the viewing for my mother I was able to reconnect and talk with many people whom my family has known over the years. People from every sports team my siblings or parents played or coached for, old friends from grade school and high school, staff from schools my mom worked at and teachers I'd had over the years to name a few. Many of them told me wonderful stories, said words of encouragement and took the time to ask how I was doing. One of those stories keeps coming back to me. A teacher I'd known in high school (who had also been a student teacher in my eighth grade class and helped with the musical I was in) spent many minutes talking to me about life that day.  She told me about how she had lost her own father at around the same age as my mom had been when she passed, but how she kept his memory alive for her own children. 
" They know they have an angel grandpa up in heaven." 
        It is so important to me that my children know my mother. That they know who she was and how big her heart was, though it failed her in the end. Abigail has quite a few angels up there already. Now she has an Angel Grandma. She has my mom. I am so thankful that Shawna shared that story with me. I am so thankful for the peace it has been bringing me ever since. 

       This last photograph captures just a small portion of the wonderful handmade and thoughtfully purchased gifts Abby has received over her last 8 months (and prior to her arrival!). I just feel the need to start thanking you all for what you've made possible for our home and lives.
       The floral wreath (watercolour and ink) was done by an incredible friend of mine name Stephanie Sears. She is the cat's pyjamas and is wonderfully talented! She is also a wicked teacher and awesome friend. Love you and miss you, Steph! That blanket draped over the glider was a gift from my lovely friend Ally's mom. She made an adorable hat to match it...and though the periwinkle often had people confused about whether Abby was a boy or girl, we loved it. It is so soft, and wonderfully cozy. Of course there's little Kinley Wall in there from her parents Jen and Steve, a memory box from Mark's godparents, a AA Milne quotation I drew myself and a piggy bank from her Uncle Matt. That is the bottle she woke up to finish, in case you were wondering. 
       We are reminded daily of how loved we are, Abby especially. Thank you to our friends and family, for everything, ever. You are all the best- absolutely tied for first place!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Father's Day: Why I Love My Dad

He can rock a Butterbeer! 

He's alright with all three of his kids getting taller than him.

He owns a Wii for himself but is actually THE best at watching others play video games and enjoying it.

Even if there are enough seats for everyone, he'll sit on the floor just in case someone else needs a spot. 

He's had the same best friend forever, and they still act like they're in high school when they get together.

He will NEVER get the duck face.

He is always shocked that we want to spoil him or give him gifts. He has no idea how much more we'd love to do for him.

He went on a self-developed weight loss program and lost almost 100 lbs!

The shirt and the gun, and the fact that he posed for this picture.

He will always carve the bird for you.

This is the closest he gets to the duckface.

His crazy smile!

That he was trying to twist Matt's nipple here, at my babyshower. 

That he doesn't mind lounging with the ladies at a babyshower.

That he and my sister clearly don't represent the more caucasian parts of our heritage with their appearances.

His love for pork rinds.

The man can pose for pictures.

He can play it cool.

Annnnd fall asleep even during a loud round of trivia in four languages * which Krista and I won thank you!*

That he appreciates symmetry, almost.

That he was the model husband to my mother and shaped the way I looked for a future husband.

That he can fix ANYTHING even the balcony hot tub in Cancun.

That those were both for him.

The way he is still loving her like never before. 
The way he has always believed in me. 

The way he is holding us together, with mini put and Motorburger take out, hugs and tearful laughs.

The way he is keeping us ALL together. The way he always did, but even more now.

I love you, Dad. I can't wait to see babysitter Grandpa in action again. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Abigail: 8 months, 2 weeks

      Abigail is eight and a half months old. She has been growing in this world for almost as long as she was  growing inside me. I can't believe how much we've watched her change and accomplish since September. Just today she did an "actual" crawl for the first time. Until then she had been dragging herself on her tummy or bouncing around on her butt. She tears big pieces of food into manageable, smaller pieces for herself too. She pulls up to stand and can sit back down on her own. We walk with her, we talk with her, we laugh and (some late nights later) we cry with her. She blows raspberries when we do, raises her arms when we do, and shakes her head "no" too.  Though we've hit a rough patch with routine and sleeping (apparently normal for this age, thank goodness) recently, Abigail is still a dream. She is also a ham. 

       In case you weren't already sure, Abigail loves to eat. I mean really eat. She eats her own dinner and then tries to steal ours. Think we're not feeding her enough? Tonight for dinner she ate half an avocado, a cocktail tomato, a pile of cheddar cheese, blueberries, and a bowl of pasta with meat sauce and mushrooms. The girl can eat. She also doesn't mind more complex flavours and seasoning. Her digestive system impresses me daily. Ever since she started self-feeding we've let her eat what we eat. It makes going out easier, and as long as we're making healthy choices, and she's getting a balanced meal, we go for it. She still nurses three or four times a day too...like I said, she can eat. 

      Oh and all of that was just to say, "the girl gets messy." She's honestly averaging three baths a day now...not a coincidence when we look at how many meals she eats! She is also beginning to fuss when she can't see us, so she ends up in the shower with me in the mornings too. She loves bath time though, so we can't really complain. Not only does it keep us clean, but it keeps us cool too. 

              We're heading to the cottage tomorrow for Father's Day, and to escape the city buzz for a while. Working full time with a baby who is either teething or just going through a "new skills waking phase" is tough. Power to all you momma's out there! 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Beautiful Woman


     I have been avoiding this blog for a few reasons. The first being that six weeks ago my mother was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The second, that I couldn't bring myself to write any updates without talking about that fact. How do I mention Abigail's baptism without talking about how my mother couldn't come? It's been hard to be silent. It's been hard not to seek the help of others in my confusion and sadness. I no longer need to be silent. I will need support and love and help. My heart is broken.
       The diagnosis of AML came to us all as a shock. My mother worked until noon that fateful day, walked into the hospital and was admitted. She underwent an aggressive chemotherapy regime because the medical staff wanted to attack the cancer cells quickly. Everything looked hopeful; she came in relatively healthy and very strong. Her chances were good for a healthy life in remission. We prepared the house for her homecoming and made plans for vacations.
       Just over a week ago, I held my mother's hand and begged her to wake up. Her heart stopped in her sleep and she slipped away from us. I begged her to stay so we could shop for a wedding dress together. I told her that I needed her to be there for my big day. I told her that she needed to watch Abigail grow up. She needed to be Abby's Grandma. She needed to be my mom.  The night before I watched medical staff try everything in their power to save my mother, she said goodnight to Abigail, told us she loved us and waved us out the door. I know she did not suffer. I know she wasn't scared in the end. She went peacefully. She woke only to say goodnight to us, and she smiled at Abby one last time. I know she was happy. I know she was okay.
       Knowing that doesn't bring much comfort now, but it will when my heart has healed a bit. I know it will mean more than someone else telling me that she didn't suffer in the end. I know she didn't, I saw it. There are small miracles like that which make this all a little bit easier. I hope that it will make it easier for my siblings as well, and for my father, for whom my heart breaks daily.  There is also love. The love and support the community, friends and family have shown us during this time has been incredible.Thank you to everyone who showed us love and support, thank you so very much. During my two weeks at home with my family we received more food than we could eat. More phone calls of support than we could answer, and more help than we could accept.  Knowing that my mother was so loved makes this easier. Knowing that my family is so loved makes this easier. Having someone else cut the lawn, prepare a meal, drive to a doctor's appointment or pick up toilet paper seems so ridiculous- but when you lose the matriarch of your family you lose the person who does or arranges all of those things.
       We don't know yet how much we will miss mom. The wounds are still too fresh to sting.  I do know that I will treasure what memories I have, the pictures, videos and recorded storybook. I will forever treasure the moments when she held my hand in the delivery room, spoon fed me cereal when Abigail was three days old, when she and I recorded a Nirvana song in a soundbooth at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, the way she yelled and cheered loudest during Canadian Olympic hockey games. I will remember those things, I will remember the way she hugged me when I told her Mark and I were engaged, the way she looked at Abigail on her first Christmas. I will remember my mom as the coach, trainer, friend, teacher mother and grandmother she was; she was irreplaceable and absolutely the best woman I have ever known. I will never miss a chance to teach Abigail about her Angel Grandma. She will know her heart, her face, her smile and her love. I will let my tears flow for now, but will remember that mom would have said, "suck it up, Princess." and let myself laugh. My mother is gone from her corporeal body, but she is still here. She is in every belly laugh and silly giggle, in every eye twinkle and warm Summer breeze. She is everywhere, and I love her.