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!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stuff It!

Well, it had to happen sometime...I think we did pretty well making it 3 years & nine months before a visit to Urgent Care...& leave it to my kid to make it for a ridiculous reason! 

I got home from work the other day & my mom let me know Elena was complaining her nose hurt & it was bleeding just a bit. I was thinking she was stuffy from a cold & the blood may be from dryness...but Elena tells me there's something in there. I'm still thinking boogers or something until she says, "No Mommy, a flower!" Wait, what?!?

She explains that it is a flower from a hair elastic. I'm not exactly sure what she means but I'm thinking it's a flower bead. After trying to get Elena to snort it out to no avail, I called the doctor on call but she advised we'd have to go to urgent care. So off we went!

After two hours of waiting (which isn't bad, I guess. They said it was a slow night. I'd hate to see a busy night!) we finally saw the doctor & he attempted to pull it out with tweezers. Elena jumped though & he lost grip & then Elena wouldn't let him try again. 

At this point he advised we could transfer to the hospital & they would be able to sedate Elena so they could get it out. Wait, what?!? Sedate her just to get a bead out of her nose? I felt the risks far outweighed the necessity of that! He said the only other option would be to restrain her & pull it out but that would be very scary for her. 

It made my heart hurt to see Elena so genuinely scared & begging me not to let them do anything to her...but I also knew this would only cause minimal discomfort, not hurt her. I'm not sure how they sedate a kids but I'm guessing it involves needles. So I told Elena I knew she was scared, so so scared, but she'd have to be brave so we could get the flower out of her nose. 

The doctor called over two other nurses & they did what they called a bunny wrap which basically was them wrapping Elena up like a burrito in a blanket. I was able to hold Elena's hand & one nurse immobilized her head & the other restrained her body. Elena was fighting quite hard at this point. Then one nurse asked if she wanted a Popsicle after it was done, Elena relaxed immediately & the doctor pull the flower right out. It turned out to be a foam flower petal from a hair elastic we'd got in the Dominican last year.  Elena was given her Popsicle & no worse the wear except for a bloody nose. 

The doctor then says, "I sure am glad we didn't transfer you to hospital for that." Ya think?!!?!

On the way home I told Elena I hoped she wouldn't ever put anything in her nose again. She said she wouldn't...but then said, just her finger! What a kid!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another Goodbye


My mother’s sister passed away in November just shy of her 60th birthday. I wasn’t nearly as close with her as I was with my Aunt Lee. She was born in January 1955 when my Grandmother was 36, five years after her previous child. There’s no way to know this for sure but I suspect the pregnancy wasn’t planned. She was born in an era where she was labeled “slow” or worse “retarded”. She was developmentally delayed. I wonder if she had been evaluated by today’s standards, if she would have fallen on the autism spectrum. Regardless, she grew up with many challenges.

Karen was the youngest of 6 children. She grew up being spoiled & having family do things for her & speak for her. In spite of this, she became determined to do things on her own. She was eventually able to attend a vocational school & learn skills that enabled her to secure a job in a factory. This also enabled her to move out on her own & live independently in her own apartment.

I don’t have many memories of her when I was young. She was 19 when I was born & not long after getting out on her own, she became involved with a man. Not a good man, an abusive man. She became estranged from our family during this time. As happens in abusive relationships, he isolated her. I can only imagine what life was like for her during that time.

Another Aunt, her sister, was married in 1982 (I think). I was a flower girl in that wedding. Karen attended & I remember going to her apartment. I didn’t know it at the time but her boyfriend was in jail then. I remember her being very proud of me & I remember her telling me about her boyfriend, who painted, & saying she wanted him to meet me. Another memory was a few years later, we “kidnapped” Karen so she could visit with my Grandma & Great-Grandma who were visiting. I wonder how she managed after going home to this man that day, if she’d told him where she’d been, if he’d found out on her own…

Her boyfriend died a few years later & she became a more constant presence. My dad would pick her up in Toronto & she would come stay weekends with us. I remember her being fun, always up to play games or put puzzles together. She loved her soap operas & it was with her I first watched Dallas & she filled me in on all the details.

In 1994, she was introduced to a man & they fell in love. You can imagine, with her past, my family was skeptical. But he was (is) a good man. Yes, he has issues of his own, schizophrenia, but he is kind & loving & the knight in shining she deserved! They were married. I got to be her Maid of Honour! They celebrated their 20th anniversary a few weeks before she died.

With all the challenges Karen faced in her life, she certainly was determined & proud. I admire her not passively letting life pass by. All she ever wanted was to be “normal” & she certainly succeeded in getting everything she ever wanted…except one thing. She had always desperately wanted to be a mother. She loved children so much & was so good with all of us nieces & nephews. To the day she died, it was her biggest regret. I remember having a conversation with her while I was pregnant & me saying she’d done so well in her life & she’d done one better than me, at least she’d gotten married & her reply, “Yeah, but I didn’t get to be a mother.”

In late 2012 she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer with a tumour on her brain & mets in her liver & lungs. The doctors weren’t optimistic. She had radiation on the brain tumour in November that year & endured round after round of chemo for the next 2 years. There was no other option in her mind. She believed it would cure her. She didn’t understand or accept that she was palliative. I wonder if that contributed to her surviving for so long, that won’t quit attitude. Almost exactly 2 years later the doctors broke the news that they just couldn’t continue giving her chemo. To her that translated to them giving up on her, she just didn’t understand.

She remained at home for as long as she could but due to a fall she ended up in hospital & then transferred to hospice. Her life ended much like it began, with people doing everything for her.

Even though we weren’t close, I am feeling this loss heavily. It brought up dormant feelings of what I went through this past winter. Also her death has continued a disturbing emerging family tradition of passing just prior to a milestone birthday. My Uncle, my Dad & now Karen all passed within months prior to their 60th birthday. My Auntie Margaret & Aunt Lee both passed just prior to their 70th birthday. It’s been a tough year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?!!?

Now that I've caught you all up on Elena & her speech development, I want to start sharing some of our funny interactions. I mentioned that I understand her most of the time, but there is still a learning curve...
 
A month or so ago, Elena started saying the same phrase very often. It sounded like, "E-ma A-ba, E-ma A-ba" & she should almost sing it. I would ask what she means or if she could show me...she would smile but couldn't make me understand.
 
On one of the rare occasions I was home to take Elena to preschool, she started her sing song "E-ma A-ba, E-ma A-ba" & I asked pleadingly, "What does this mean?" & she replied, "S-koo" "School?" I asked...she replied, "Ya, own-ee Fi-day, no Two-day"
 
That's when it all became clear to me!!! You see, Elena's preschool is run out of a Jewish synagogue! The have Shabbat Party every Friday!! She was singing, "Ima" & "Abba"!!! When I told this story to her teacher, she explained that there is a Shabbat song they sing every time. What made us laugh is that Elena reminded us Shabbat Party is only Fridays, not Tuesdays!
 
This is Elena's 1st time getting to play Ima.
She was so very proud!!!