Saturday, February 28, 2015

S'awaii 5-0


S’awaii. That is what Elena started calling Hawaii just before we left, after previously calling it Hawaii quite clearly for months!

This trip to Hawaii was a sentimental one. Long before she got sick my aunt had asked that when she died, I spread her ashes in the ocean. Last year, she’d planned to spend a couple of months in Hawaii. We had to cancel her trip once we learned how sick she was. She had booked her flights with travel points & they were kind enough to refund all her points & transfer them to me since we knew she would not be able to use them. Lee then made me promise I would use the points to go to Hawaii & spread her ashes. And that is what I did on the anniversary of her passing. It was a wonderful trip & made the anniversary easier.

The flights were long…on the way there we had a 4 hour layover in Vancouver, on the way home, we had a 6 hour layover in Chicago…layovers are a nightmare for me, just wasted time waiting!! But that’s what you get when you book with points, you get what you get. I am extremely lucky that Elena is such a good traveller. I thought the layovers would be better than if we’d had the option of a direct flight because then Elena wouldn’t be on the plane for 10-12 hours…but she totally could have managed that! She really is an awesome little traveller & flyer. Luckily both the Vancouver & Chicago airports had play areas for kids so Elena was easily occupied. I was bored stiff!!

This is from our 1st trip ever...
She still finds sitting in the newspaper boxes fun!
Vancouver Airport playground

Chicago Airport
 
Hawaii is beautiful & stunning…I love the mountains!! It was nice to have a car & get to drive around the island & see so much of the island. I rented a condo right on Waikiki Beach & that was a really great decision. The place was gorgeous & the service was impeccable.
The view from our condo
 
The first morning we went grocery shopping then we went to Waikiki Beach, right across the street from the condo! It was nice that it had the break walls so there weren’t waves & it was only knee-waist deep on Elena so I could let her wander back & forth in the water on her own without worry or fear. The downside was that it was SUPER busy with people & it was hard to find a spot etc & I’m not a fan of crowds.

The 1st night we went to Tiki’s Grill & that was a fun place for dinner! The music was very good. The highlight for Elena was the purple dinner rolls!

 

The next day we drove up the coast to a beach I had researched, Waimanalo Beach. It had good parking, washrooms & quiet beach. It was awesome…beautiful big beach, easy parking, and not many people. I really loved it after the chaos of Waikiki Beach. The only downside was that the waves & undertow were very strong so Elena couldn’t go in by herself & it was scary a few times as I really had to hold onto her tight when some waves would come. But it was fun to experience real waves & that excitement.

Our #1 favourite thing to do at the beach is
to dig holes!

And sometimes bury each other in them!
 

On the Monday we went to the North Shore to the Polynesian Cultural Centre for the day. This was a beautiful drive & well worth the money spent It was the only touristy thing we did & it was a must see. If you ever go to Oahu, you can’t miss this. It is like your pioneer village type thing ... but for the Polynesian islands & culture. This is also were we had the luau & they really did it up amazingly & made it such an authentic (as far as I’d ever know) experience. Then in the evening, they have this show sort of like the myth or fable of the birth of the Polynesian culture & it was STUNNING, AMAZING, BREATHTAKING!! I really can’t say enough about how good it was!! Even Elena, who was exhausted at this point after the long day, was enthralled!


Elena wouldn't try the coconut water
She wouldn't try the pineapple smoothie drink either
Elena was very excited to have her photo taken
with these 3 ladies so was completely taken aback
when this warrior photo bombed her!!
 

On the anniversary of when Lee passed & the day I wanted to spread her ashes. I’d been scoping out ideas all week & we decided to drive to another beach. This one, Ala Moana Beach, was still on Honolulu but not as busy as Waikiki but still had the benefit of the break wall so the waves were calm & safe thought the water was deeper. Elena & I dug a deep hole & poured most of the ashes in then filled the rest on top with sand…then I took a bucketful into the water & spread them around there too. I allowed myself a moment to reflect & say good bye, etc. It was a peaceful, healing experience.

It was a too short trip. I wished I had planned to stay longer. I would like to go back again with the experience I think I could do it cheaper. It was nice to get away from the winter & snow. As with every trip, Elena said we should just stay there & not go home. I told her she could plan to go to university there & I would move with her!
Just chillin' waiting for the plane
 

I really am beyond grateful that Elena is such a great traveller. I love to travel & dream of all the trips we will take together as she gets older. We already have our next one booked…we’re heading to Disney World just before school starts in September!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Promise, Mommy

Last night, after Elena's bath, she looked at me very seriously and said, "P'omise, Mommy, P'omise you alway' talk to me." "Of course, sweetheart," I replied, "I promise I'll always talk to you." Then she said, "P'omise, Mommy, P'omise you alway' listen to me." She was so very serious & intense, my eyes well up with emotion, wondering what would bring on such a conversation. "Of course I'll always listen to you. I promise." She then reached out her little hands, cupped my face so lovingly, and said, "P'omise, Mommy, P'omise you alway' do as I say!" I just about fell off my stool laughing! Sorry, honey, that's one promise I just can't make! But it was a good try! Dang, I love that kid!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jealousy Revisited


Caution: Post discusses pregnancy & pregnancy loss...be wary if these are triggers for you.



I previously wrote about how hard it was being surrounded by pregnant moms at Elena’s gymnastics class. I was coming to terms with being one & done & felt like I was being kicked while I was down.

~~~

Not long ago a co-worker of mine, we’ll call her S, came to me & asked a lot of questions about getting pregnant & cycles. She was 35 & had decided to start TTC. I explained to her about cycle days, when fertility higher, etc.

I felt like I was in on a big secret as she wasn’t talking about this to anyone else. I knew what cycle day she was on, I knew when she was getting close to testing, I helped her decide when would be best to POAS to get an accurate result. I was the first person to know when she got her BFP, after her husband, of course. She never imagined she would get pregnant on their first try. She was sure they’d have to try for a few months at least.

I was very excited for her as she experienced her first pregnancy symptoms. She didn’t have anyone to talk to, other than her husband & he didn’t have the attention span I did for discussing the nuances of early pregnancy. She made her doctor’s appointments, started researching midwives, planning for her new future.

At about 6 weeks she started to have some bleeding & cramping. She asked if she should be worried. I told her I couldn’t tell her not to worry because it could be something…but it could be nothing.

It wasn’t nothing…she was scheduled for an ultrasound at 7 weeks & there wasn’t a heartbeat. They advised her that they’d do another ultrasound in a week because maybe she had miscalculated her cycle & it was just early. My friend was cautiously hopeful…but I was pretty sure of what the outcome would be. I hoped I was wrong but we’d been very careful with tracking her cycle. The next ultrasound showed no growth & still no heartbeat. She was devastated & my heart crushed for her.

During this same time, another co-worker of ours announced her pregnancy…it was a whoops, they were so happy!! As you can imagine this was like salt in the wound for S. No one knew, aside from me & her boss, what she had just gone through & how hard it was for her to have to hear everyone be so excited for our co-worker. They would have been due about the same time. Again, you can imagine her pain watching this co-worker reach milestones she should have. And ANOTHER co-worker announced her pregnancy…another whoops. Poor S was hurting so very much. We really bonded during this time. I was her shoulder to cry on & made sure she didn’t feel alone. My heart hurt over these pregnancies too. I wished it could be me. I was happy for them…but also oh so jealous of them…

~~~

After some time, S started asking me some random fertility questions again. I let her know that I was here for her in whatever she needed. I told her that I’d never ask her about whether she was trying or not because I knew how painful answering those questions could be…but I let her know I was here if she needed me…I had a hunch. Sure enough, she was pregnant, she thought, she was only a day or two late. She was ecstatic…& terrified!! I was so very happy for her…& terrified for her. But week after week passed & finally she had an ultrasound that showed a good strong heartbeat.

During this time, another co-worker announced her pregnancy…after she’d previously had a miscarriage as well. She knew the pain of loss & now the excitement mixed with anxiety of being pregnant again. Yet another co-worker, she was in her 40s & had previously hinted & hedged that she’d been trying for a very long time, announced she was pregnant! Then another co-worker, who had been trying for a second child since I’d been trying 2010, we had commiserated over treatments & doctor visits, she announced SHE was pregnant!!!

To say my work was experiencing a baby boom was an understatement!! As I was planning baby showers & advising on mat leaves, etc it hit me: This doesn’t hurt. There’s no underlying jealousy. As I thought about this, at first I thought maybe it was because this group of women had struggled & suffered. I was ashamed to think that I was able to be happy for these women because somewhere in the darkest reaches of my heart, I felt they had earned their happiness.

The more I thought about it, the more I analyzed my feelings I realized that it didn’t hurt because I had finally & truly come to peace with having one child. Those if onlys would still float through my mind…if only I had started trying sooner…if only I had more money to afford IVF…but when I was honest with myself, I knew in my heart that where I was was exactly where I was meant to be. Elena & I, our family was complete.

~~~

I do feel haunted by my ghost children though. For me, they are children that I imagine could have come before Elena, who should have been her older sibling(s). I can’t shake the feeling that Elena would have been such a great little sister, that she would have adored an older sibling(s). There are many situations when, as I watch Elena, I imagine what the dynamic would be like if there was an older sibling in the mix. I envision that ghost child. Maybe it’s because I was the younger sibling & Elena is so much like me. I don’t know…

I do know that I have come a long way to feeling content with how life is turning out. I am grateful for not being weighed down by feelings of jealousy, guilt, sadness, anger & frustration like I use to be when faced with pregnancy announcements. I hope that this will help Elena too, for her to see me genuinely & deeply content with our family, to know that I don’t feel there’s anything missing in our family. Maybe she won’t feel like anything’s missing either…

 

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Chickened Out

 
I thank you all for your advice & commiseration on my last post. Two Saturdays have passed & I haven't mustered up the nerve to actually ask. Not exactly, anyway. Last week, while trying to steer the conversation towards asking resulted in a conversation about play date catastrophes. This week, I just didn't have the nerve.
 
I had mentioned that Elena & I had gone snow-tubing & she said how much they'd been wanting to take V but couldn't (V's mom is pregnant.) I did say we'd be more than willing to go with them, but it was more of an abstract offer than making any concrete plans.
 
I really like the idea of planning something at a neutral location rather than inviting them to our house. So I think I'll hold off until the weather is a bit nicer & we have more options...that'll give me more time to work up my nerve ;)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Socially Awkward


That’s me. I am not good at meeting new people. Being extremely shy & self-conscious, I am very intimidated approaching people or making small talk. If approached by another, I am okay to engage but I get so nervous I sometimes say ridiculous things in an effort at small talk. With those patient enough to give me a chance, I do chill out. Since having Elena, I find I’m put into situations that make me anxious more & more frequently. We have never been invited to a kid’s party where I didn’t already know everyone there…but I am dreading that first time.

Elena has become friends with a girl in her gymnastics class. They’ve been in the same class the last 2 years. V seems to share Elena’s admiration & they squeal with delight when they see each other. They hold hands through most of their class. I know her mom from being in the class last year & now this year we’ll chat in the viewing room while the girls are in class. I’m past my anxious, nervous stage with her & it feels comfortable chatting with her.

During the 2 week break at Christmas, Elena has been talking constantly about V, saying she missed her. She’s to have V come to our house & us to go to hers. She’s asked me to ask V’s mom to allow V to visit. I think it’s adorable & am glad Elena has developed her first friendship.

However, I am nervous sick at the thought of asking V’s mom if she’d like to arrange a playdate. I’m not sure what I’m afraid of, that she’ll say no, maybe. I know I have to ask, for Elena’s sake but because I’m so nervous about it I’m afraid it’ll come out all awkward & weird.

I know it sounds simple but for me, it’s just not. So I’m asking for advice. How do you approach these situations? From the other point of view, do you think it’d be weird for me to initiate a playdate? I’m afraid to make things awkward at gymnastics.

I know it is important that I overcome my discomfort & do this for Elena. How would I explain to her if I was too afraid to ask? There is no other kid that Elena has expressed this much interest in, not at school, not swimming, nowhere. I have to at least ask.
I’m just so scared. Help, please?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Our Christmas Vacation


I had 2 weeks off over Christmas & it was so amazing! I had every intension of posting about our Christmas…but then HBO announced they were running the complete seasons of Game of Thrones from the beginning. It premiered about a month after Elena was born & I missed it back then & since just never had the time to catch up. So I dedicated my evenings to binge watching that instead.  I don’t regret it either! I feel like I got the best of both worlds, an abundance of quality time with Elena plus indulging myself by giving myself permission to immerse myself in the series. Now I have to play blog catch up because we really did have a wonderful holiday & I don’t want to forget it.

Even though this was for a sad occasion, my aunt’s memorial service, I just loved how adorable this photo turned out

 

I’ve really been on the fence about the Santa Question…on the one hand, I don’t want to lie to Elena nor do I want to deprive her of the innocence of believing in Santa. I decided to just let her lead the way on the whole topic & Elena was thoroughly into the magic of him this year. We had so many fun & thoughtful conversations about him. I adore how great her photo with Santa turned out, total redemption after her first.

 

Elena was also very interested in Hanukah since they of course were celebrating it at her preschool. She learned to play dreidel & “made” latkes (with construction paper).   She kept asking if we could have Hanukah at our house. I told her I didn’t know anything about Hanukah but we found a really great children’s book at the library that informed us both.

I gave Elena an early Christmas present & took her to see Toopy & Binoo. It was nostalgic because the first show we ever went to was Toopy & Binoo, we’ve seen dozens since so it was nice to see them again & Elena loved it!

 

On the Friday at the beginning of my holiday, we bundled up after dinner & did a Christmas Lights tour, a tradition I hope to continue. It was fun!

 

On the Sunday before Christmas we were looking for something to do as our plans had fallen through & stumbled upon a great experience. It wasn’t exactly a Sleigh Ride since we didn’t have any snow but it was the next best thing.

 

On Christmas Eve we continued our cookie baking tradition. The difference this year was Elena wanted to leave a plate for Santa. I told you, she was totally into him this year!

 

 

 Elena had asked Santa for Elsa & Anna dolls (yes she is totally into Frozen!) Santa complied, of course.  I decided to get her doll house…the doll house I wished I’d had as a girl. When Elena saw it Christmas morning, she was beyond excited & squealed, “Santa brought me a doll house!” Damn Santa stole my thunder!! Oh well!

 

My friend & her family came to visit after Christmas & while they were here, her husband’s cousin invited us all over for dinner. I was very nervous about going with Elena as the cousin is fairly wealthy & live in a mansion. I was terrified Elena would run wild & break something worth more than I make in a year! The first thing Elena noticed after we arrived was the old fashioned grandfather clock & of course had her Frozen moment:

 

I am proud to say that she did not break anything & more than that, she was a complete angel, remembering her manners, eating all her dinner & playing quietly, no tantrums, no misbehaving, I was just bursting with pride! I know it helped having my friend’s kids there too, they helped keep her occupied.

I also took Elena snow tubing & we went to Ikea & Elena made her first foray into their ball room but I don’t have any photos of either of these activities. The snow tubing was a blast! What a brave kid she is! She must have my thrill-seeker gene. Her first time ever doing anything like this & she insists on going down the hill ALL BY HERSELF! She loved it & would keep asking the monitors at the top for Super Spins!!
She’s still a bit too young for us to start any New Year’s traditions so I put her to bed at her usual time & I spent the evening watching Game of Thrones, of course! I crawled into bed at midnight & Elena half woke up & cuddled up to me & said, “I love you, Mommy”. What better way to ring in the New Year! I drifted off to sleep marveling at how lucky I am!

And now the countdown is on! We leave for Hawaii in exactly 1 month!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 In Review


The days are flying away from me. I have had every intension to post about Christmas & now here we are December 31. I didn’t want to miss my tradition of this post, my fifth one!

I would characterize 2014 as a year of loss & growth. It feels surreal to be here, at New Year’s Eve again. As time passed this year, it didn’t feel as though it was passing quickly. At many moments it felt like it was passing incredibly, unbearably slowly. This was the type of year that would have broken a past version of me. There were many moments I thought I might crumble, that I wanted to crawl under the covers & never come out. That wasn’t an option though; I wouldn’t do that to Elena. Somehow I found the strength & resolve to pick myself up, dust myself off, put one foot in front of another, on auto pilot a lot of the time. Being here now, coming out the other side of it all, the crushing grief has been replaced with satisfaction & self assurance. My first thought in difficult situations will no longer be, “I’ll never get through this” but instead, “I will get through this…somehow”. I have grown into the woman I had hoped I could be.

I wasn’t the only one growing this year. Elena has come very far herself, having started the year with a vocabulary of less than 30 words to now speaking in full sentences & having a countless vocabulary. Gaining this ability has allowed Elena to let her personality shine through. Just today, while shopping, I was looking at discounted wrapping paper & Elena said, “We don’t need wrapping paper. Christmas is over!” A simple, logical response but for me, it was hearing the words & knowing what she was thinking because she TOLD me that was so meaningful! A phrase I am constantly saying these days is, “Did you hear what she just said?!!?” I never tire of hearing what she has to say, her endless questions about dinosaurs & why the sun rises everyday & how the birds fly & most of all to hear her say, “I love you, Mommy”. It’s…magical to me. I can’t think of a better word to describe it!

Lately I’ve just found myself marveling about how, after such a hard year full grief, I can come out the other side loving life so deeply & fully. I love my life, even the hard bits. I’d rather have the hard parts amidst joys than the alternative my life could have been.  If 2014 can come off seeming not half bad, I have high hopes for 2015.

 

Happy New Year, Everyone!!