Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Conversations about Daddies


The other day at Elena’s swimming lessons, while waiting their turns, the girls started calling out hellos to their moms. They were all just being silly & having fun. One of the girls called out, “Hi Mommy & Daddy” waving at her parents. My little copycat waves at me & calls out, “Hi Mommy & Daddy!!”

Later, at home, I brought it up with Elena. I knew the topic of daddies was coming up more often than usual with Father’s Day nearing so wanted to initiate a conversation. I also knew she would have more awareness this year than ever before too.

I asked her why she’d called out “mommy & daddy” to me & she replied simply, “Because I wanted to.” Ooo-kaaay.

I said, “You remember that we are a mommy & kid family, right?” & she said, “and Gramma & Raina & GiGi &…” & named a bunch of the people we call family. Yes, of course.

Then I asked her, “If someone asks you if you have a daddy, what do you tell them?” She replied confidently, “I have a Gramma instead!” That's pretty good.

I then asked if they were working on crafts at preschool for Father’s Day. She confirmed they were so I asked her who she thought she’d make her craft for. I was thinking maybe she would say me but instead she said Fifi. Fifi is what Elena calls our neighbor, Felicia. How sweet!

It also confirmed to me that Elena doesn’t see me as her dad any more than I would try to fill that role. I am her Mom, period. It was something on my mind after a few conversations on some SMC boards recently. I was very curious what Elena’s perspective was.

These conversations put my mind at ease. I think, at this point, it is safe to say that Elena is pretty well adjusted.
 

P.S. Today is my 5 year Inseminaversary!!!! How do 5 years fly by so fast?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oh, My Heart

Elena's imagination has really bloomed this year & I love the stories she comes up with. "Just pretend" is a phrase I hear very often these days. She has a plethora of imaginary friends (due a post of their own, for sure!) & we are always "joined" by at least 2 or 3 "friends" wherever we go.
 
Driving in the car this past weekend, we were talking about who was "joining" us for our outing. She names a few of the usual suspects & then says, "And Gramma Lee too"
 
My heart skips a beat. I still miss her so much, the mention of her brings a lump to my throat. I look back at Elena in the rear view mirror & she says, "I know she's gone, Mommy. Let's just pretend she's not. Let's pretend she just went away. Let's pretend she's in S'awaii & she can come visit."
 
I replied, "That's a good idea, sweetie. Let's just pretend..."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Takes Me Right Back...

For as long as I can remember, I've use body wash & lotion every morning. I like to pair them so they match & I also change them for the season. A nice Pumpkin Spice for the fall...Vanilla Cookie for the winter...a fresh citrus for spring & summer.
 
These last few summers I've been using the Coconut Lime Verbena from Bath & Body Works. I love that one! Now that spring seems to finally be upon us here (fingers crossed!!) it was time to change things up...I went to Bath & Body Works at lunch yesterday. And wouldn't you know, they had discontinued my Coconut Lime Verbena!! I was so disappointed!!
 
They did have White Citrus. I knew I'd used this scent a while back so new I like it. Since I was on my lunch, I grabbed it & went.
 
I used it this morning and oh, that smell. It took me right back! Back to 2010, to when I was TTC. I had switched to this fragrance just after my miscarriage. I had wanted something new & fresh & clean...
 
Smelling it this morning, all those emotions of that time came flooding back...those feelings of hope & fear...I closed my eyes & I was back in that exam room. I could hear the sounds & feel the nervous anticipation...the excitement. That smell was the smell of many, many blood draws & ultrasounds...its the smell of waiting...it's the smell of calm as I rest after the insemination...it's the smell of waiting for the pee stick to turn...it's the smell of seeing that tiny perfect heartbeat for the first time...
 
Unreal how a smell can transport me back so completely...

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!!

video

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 Balloon...it 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.
Delicious!!
 

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!
April

First school pageant
May

June

July

August

S'mores! Yummy!!
September

October

November

This is her school photo! What a little lady!
December

This is Elena’s “Wedding Outfit”
January

February

 

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!!