Friday, April 17, 2015

Elena Lately...

A proper of update on Elena & our lives is long overdue! Elena has changed so much in the past year & I have been lax in recording it all!
From her 4 year photo shoot

She is now 45 inches tall & 44 pounds…making her the height & weight of an average SIX year old!! I worry because she constantly hears people say, “She’s so BIG!” I always clarify that yes, she’s very TALL. I grew up with body issues; I don’t want her to feel self-conscious. It will be hard for her being taller than the other kids in school…I know, I was the tall kid too. I hope I can help her to have the self-confidence I didn’t.

She still attends preschool four mornings a week. Elena just loves that place & so do I!! She has really connected with her teachers this year & won over all their hearts! They’ve made me promise we’ll stay in touch next year! I have signed up for Elena to start Junior Kindergarten in September. We got to visit the school when we dropped off the forms & it seems really nice. They have an orientation session in May & we are looking forward to this very much. We’ll be able to meet her teacher that day & hopefully some of the other kids in her class. I can’t believe my little girl is starting school!!!

Elena has many, many interests these days. She has her music class weekly & is still going to gymnastics class every week. She has come a long way with her skills. She flies through the balance beam with ease now, she is able to flip herself on the uneven bars & she tumbles & somersaults with grace!

She also still has swimming every week & is in Level 5 now!! She can essentially swim on her own; she just needs her confidence about it. She does, however, have all confidence in doing somersaults in the water!! At one of her last lessons, the lifeguard was asking that they flip from a front float to a back float. Elena, not being so great about the floats, just did one of her somersaults…she went from front to back, just not how the lifeguard was intending!

Recently, Elena started asking regularly to take dance lessons…oh, I’m sorry, she specifically asks for BALLET lessons. I wanted to be sure this wasn’t a passing fancy before making a big commitment & was able to find a creative movement class at our local rec centre. She LOVES it! Except after every class, when I ask how it went, she says, “Good, but we didn’t do ballet.” So I have done some research & sourced out a really good studio for her to start at in the fall.

The other new interest Elena has talked non-stop about lately was soccer. I was not excited about this one. I have very deep-seated, irrational fears of bugs & specifically birds, bees & hornets. The thought of spending Saturday mornings on a soccer field ignites immense anxiety. However, I’m not about to let my fears hold Elena back from an interest or good wholesome exercise & fresh air. So I’ve signed her up for soccer starting in May!

A great source of pride for me recently is that Elena has graduated to riding a two-wheeler bicycle! No training wheels!! I gave her a balance bike for her 2nd birthday & she’s been mastering it these last 2 years but has now grown much too tall for it. I bought her a new bicycle & intended to put training wheels onto it. I brought it with us to my friend’s on Easter weekend thinking her husband could install the training wheels for us. Well my friend encouraged Elena to try without. Her 2 sons, her & I all headed outside & took turns running along with Elena & she did really well!! I left the training wheels off & this past weekend took Elena to the high school parking lot & away she went! Because she was so confident on the balance bike, being on the two-wheeler all she had to master was peddling & that she got pretty quickly. She still needs some practice before I can let her lose on the sidewalks but she’s getting there! Now it looks as though I’ll have to buy a bicycle for myself so I can keep up!
There she goes!!


Taking a break from all that cycling!

Elena’s speech is developing by leaps & bounds! I never get tired of listening to her & let me tell you, she talks nonstop!! What I love to see is her gaining the confidence to speak up for herself. Even the mothers at gymnastics have commented how wonderful it is to see her talking & chiming in to the conversations! What I find most adorable is how she sounds, just like a little Italian lady! I suspect it’s because, when she was first learning the sounds of speech we would over pronunciate & now she does this in regular speech. As an example, if she were to ask for milk she would sound like: “You get-ah my milk-ah, pul-eeze?” Even funnier, since she loves pizza she’ll say, “You make-ah my pizza?” very Italian, lol! Also, if you’re taking too long she’ll say, “You taking for long time!”

Her vocabulary is immeasurable now. She really is a sponge. After watching any TV show, she wants reenact it & can repeat the dialogue practically verbatim! And of course she’ll assign me a character too!

Of course we have our hard days, Elena is 4 after all & very willful. Unfortunately for me, she has inherited my hair trigger temper. If she’s fed & well rested, she is very easy & amendable. We enter danger zone from when I get home from work at 5pm to when I get her to bed at 7pm…she starts off being hungry & then just tired. If I can keep my patience we can usually navigate this time pretty well with no meltdowns. But if I am off my game, the whole evening can be a disaster. I don’t want to seem like I think she’s blameless for her behavior but as her mom, I need to teach her to manage her emotions. Her meltdowns can be amusing & I sometimes have to be really careful not to let her feel like I’m laughing at her but she is so dramatic!! Sometimes we can divert a meltdown by laughing about it but that is a technique to be used with caution as it can change things from bad to worse in seconds if she’s not in a place to laugh about it. The number one technique that helps the most to divert a meltdown is for me to express verbally the feelings she’s feeling. “I know you don’t want to go to bed! You just want to play & play!” I use the wishing technique too, “If only we could play all the time!! I wish we could just play & play all night long!!” Sometimes I have to repeat variations of these a few times but mostly it will diffuse the situation pretty quickly.

I also make sure we play reconnection games to…roughhousing, tickle fights & our favourite: Never Gonna Let You Go where I get her into a hug & then pretend I don’t know how to let her go or I say, “Um no, I’m just never going to let you go!” Oh the laughs & giggles that ensue!

We have some pretty exciting travels coming up too! I have booked our first Disney trip for August. It has been fun navigating the Disney planning app together. Elena is very excited & knows we are going but doesn’t know when. We’ve made a deal that one morning I will wake her up & say, “Wanna go to Disney today?” I have also booked us on the Disney Alaskan Cruise for 2016. It has been a dream of my Mom, Aunt & mine to do an Alaskan cruise so when I saw that Disney had one, we jumped on it! I’ve never been on a cruise & am not sure I will like being on the boat so if I may only ever do 1 cruise in my life, I wanted it to be Disney & I wanted it to be to Alaska!

I feel like there’s a million more things I wanted to share in this update but since they’ve all flown right out of my head & this is long enough already!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Elena turned four...

Elena turned 4 on March 4th! Quite a day we had celebrating! I took the day off work so I could spend the day with her. I continued our tradition of balloons on her birthday morning. While planning her birthday, Elena said she wanted to have a ballerina theme. For the life of me, I couldn’t find ballerina decorations! When I broke the news, she was accommodating & she told me instead she wanted Hello Kitty…& Elsa & Anna…& Barbie…& Paw Patrol. So that’s what I did for her…
Hello Kitty was bigger than Elena!

Paw Patrol Banner

You can't see the Barbie balloon but it's in there!


She still wanted to go to preschool that morning as they were celebrating Purim & she wanted to get to wear a costume to school! I let her open her birthday present that morning because I had bought her the Disney Elsa dress & knew she would want to wear it for school.
"Queen Elsa" ready for Purim at preschool


My Mom, Aunt & I picked Elena up after preschool & we all went for lunch at Swiss Chalet. She had been there a few weeks before & they had sung happy birthday to some patrons & so Elena insisted she wanted that too! After they did, Elena turned to me & said, “Now it’s my birthday!”


From there we headed to Elena’s favourite place…the Mall!! Elena had been talking for a while about having her ears pierced & we’d agreed to get them done for her birthday. She was very brave & took the 1st pierce with a stiff upper lip…& then refused to have the other ear done. No amount of encouraging & negotiating on my part would get her to agree to have the other ear done! Just when I was sure we’d be leaving with only 1 pierced ear, the salesperson told Elena she’d give her a lollipop if she agreed & that was enough for Elena! Elena allowed her to pierce the other ear without complaint!!
Very serious...& yes she wore her Elsa dress all. day. long.


After that, we headed over to Build-A-Bear, another thing Elena had been begging to do for eons!! I couldn’t have been more pleased by the service we received. They really made the experience special for Elena. She picked the Elsa Bear, go figure!!
Giving Elsa Bear a fluff


Then we headed home & enjoyed cupcakes. All in all it was a great day & a fun way to celebrate Elena turning 4.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Year in Pictures...

Elena is Four Years Old Today!

This was a big year for both Elena & I. Elena learning how to express herself verbally made a huge difference in our lives. Imagine being in a place where you understood the language completely yet you were unable to speak the language or make yourself understood. Imagine the frustration you would feel. That is what it was like for Elena. The speech pathologist explained this to me. She also explained that when Elena made her word attempts, it sounded in her head the way it was supposed to but the output came out sounding very differently. Imagine that frustration! You think you’re speaking the language everyone else is yet they just don’t understand you. Learning this made me admire Elena so very much. I admire that she didn’t shut down, that she never gave up & that she worked so hard to learn speech sounds so she could express herself. I could not be more proud of her.

March 4, 2014

First Haircut!

First school pageant




S'mores! Yummy!!



This is her school photo! What a little lady!

This is Elena’s “Wedding Outfit”



This past year has been my most favourite year yet. When I think my heart is full with love for Elena, it just expands larger. I never imagined loving another person so much. I will never stop being grateful for getting to be Elena’s Momma.

Happy 4th Birthday my precious Elena!

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 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 ;)