Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

I’ll get to the review part in a minute…I have been off work since the 21st of December & you’d think that would mean I’d have oodles of time to blog about our Christmas…turns out not so much. Elena is demanding all of my waking attention…so a quick catch up…

Christmas Eve we attempted a new tradition…baking!! We made Chocolate Macaroons (I tried to find a recipe online to link to but none were as good as mine so if you want my recipe, email me & I’ll send it to you), Rice Krispies Treats & Sugar Cookies…all turned out delicious though Elena took very little interest in any part of the process no matter how much I tried to engage her. Oh well, we’ll try again next year…

We exchanged our traditional Christmas Eve gifts of new pajamas & a Christmas story book then headed out to my Mom’s church for their Candle Light Service…I couldn’t help but remember last year & how Elena was perfecting walking & had such a ball walking around the place…this year she was running around! She only made it 20 minutes into the service before she became too antsy & we had to leave.

Getting her to bed was quite a fight & I was so frustrated by the time she was asleep. I sure was glad that I’d already wrapped all the presents & put together the kitchen Santa was bringing her! Once I moved everything under the tree, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the peace & the lights & my irritation melted away.

Christmas morning was magical. Elena had a good night’s sleep & seemed to just know it was a special day. When she saw that Santa had brought her a kitchen & my Mom had a doll stroller & crib set for her, she was beyond excited!!  She didn’t have much interest in opening any of her wrapped presents & it took a lot of encouragement to get her going but eventually she did…at times it was kinda like watching paint dry though as she was very meticulous about ripping every shred of wrapping from each present…tedious but so precious.

After a great nap, Elena was ready for round 2…the rest of my family arrived & we exchanged gifts & had a delicious dinner…so really, a perfect Christmas.

My favourite thing during this week though was after the snow storm we had & getting Elena out in it…since last year she was too little, this was her 1st experience really…& she may not have liked the beach or the sand but my girl? She loves the snow!!

Now here we are, New Years Eve…& I’m reflecting on 2012…in last year’s In Review, I anticipated that 2012 would be full of changes & challenges & I was right. This year was definitely challenging what with adjusting back to work & the constant flux of my baby becoming a toddler. I know we have been thru a lot of growing pains this year but as I sit here & look back…it’s all the awesome times we’ve had: Elena’s 1st birthday, Easter, the Teddy Bear Picnic, swimming all summer, the Ice Cream Festival, Rib-Fests, gymnastics, the Rockton Fair, our 1st vacation that come to mind…all of those good times plus all the little things too like the silly games, the giggles & belly laughs, the cuddles, the kisses, those little things that I don’t remember the details of but that have left the deepest mark on my heart.

And the predominant emotion? In 2010 it was Fear, in 2011: Awe…for 2012? Confidence. This year I have learned to trust my gut, to be okay with making up my mind & changing my mind & even learning to have confidence in my uncertainty. I have learned to trust I know what is best for Elena & I & not to hesitate in the face of criticism or judgment. I am very much looking forward to 2013 but like last year I find myself quite content just being in the here & now.


Happy New Year, Everyone
I wish you all the very best in 2013.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

…Elena is none too impressed…again! If you remember last year, Elena did just fine until I stepped away for the photo, but at least we got a picture…this year? No amount of trying has resulted in a photo.

Our 1st try was at the mall…we’d been talking about Santa for a few days & I’d told her about sitting on his lap for a photo. We arrived at the mall & I showed her Santa’s Village (He hadn’t arrived yet). I asked if she wanted to wait to see him, she said yes. Santa arrived in all his fan fair. Elena was precious! She was in awe! She sank to one knee & held my hand tightly, her mouth a big “O”. I asked her again if she wanted to wait to meet him, she said yes…we then waited FORTY-FIVE MINUTES!! My rambunctious kid waited patiently for 45 minutes watching everyone else have their turn, me chatting with her about when it would be her turn & asking her, “Are you going to sit on Santa’s lap?” her always answering yes.

Then it was our turn…I started to lead her toward Santa & she stopped dead & wouldn’t budge, waving her hand in true diva style…she was not having it! I was standing halfway between her & Santa & she wanted to come to me but was wary to get too close to Santa. She finally bolted & ran into my arms. As I was carrying her past Santa, telling her it was ok, she didn’t have to sit on his lap, Santa offered her a colouring book. She took that from him with a smile then insisted I keep moving! It was hilarious but at the same time, did we have to wait FORTY-FIVE MINUTES for this?!!? She could have just told me no right off, lol! So needless to say, no picture!

The most fun this season so far was my work’s Children’s Christmas Party…they really go all out…there was face painting, cookie decorating, crafts & each child gets a gift. They also had a photographer & yep, you guessed it, Santa Claus!!

Elena was intrigued & curious this time…she wouldn't get close to him but would hover near him…she spent a lot of time sitting on the floor watching everyone else get their photos. I let her be, hoping that she would warm up & we’d get a photo…this Santa was great too! When there was a lull of people he would try coaxing Elena over, chatting & joking with her, tempting her with his bells. I even went & stood with him talking, hoping she’d come over…no dice. This wasn’t a few minutes either; this was over the ENTIRE afternoon!! This is the best we got:

I love it of course since we don’t get all that many photos together…it was suggested afterward & I wish we’d thought of it then, but we should have had Santa sneak into the photo behind us though Elena did have an eagle eye on him so it probably wouldn’t have worked!

The best part of the day by far was the entertainer they had…Elena loved him & he was great at engaging the kids! Just look at the fun she had:
 Now keep in mind, that video was what? 30 seconds? She danced like that the whole 45 minutes he was up there!! Of course that was between quick runs over to see what Santa was doing!! She’d also do this hilarious dance where she’d bend over & put her hands on the floor then bounce her butt…hilarious!! It was such a great day!

So no Santa photos…oh well! I certainly wasn’t going to force her! Here are some of the photos from the shoot we did for our Christmas card:

 Last but not least, here are the photos we got on our vacation:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Like most everyone else, I have had a heavy heart weighed down by grief since Friday. I am grateful Elena is too young to understand why her Momma was crying so much this weekend & why I hugged her so tightly. My mind has been filled with thoughts for those parents who have lost their babies. I worry about how many of them are carrying the guilt of a rushed drop off at school that morning or an angry word being the last they spoke to their child. There’s nothing that I can write that is much different than all that has already been written. But I want to do SOMETHING, have to do something, before I can move on to my life & begin savoring the joy that is my daughter in a new & deeper way.
I am taking up Dyke in the Heart of Texas plea to remember one name. After reading the names & a bit about each of the 20 children, I choose OliviaEngel.
Shining star: Olivia Engel, one of the children killed at Sandy Hook, was would have been an angel in her church's nativity

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vacation Pictorial

We have arrived!
Our 1st sunrise & our gorgeous view
Relaxing in the hammock
Relaxing poolside
Once realizing how much the sand bothered Elena & took her down in her water shoes...she was still less than impressed with the ocean...

The Trampoline!!
Nap Time
Pool Time!!!

They had this amazing Nativity Scene they set up...Elena was amazed by it
Thankfully, she never touched it!!
I think this is one of my favourite photos
Thankfully, one day while we were at the pool, a resort photographer came by & took our photo precious to me since we didn't have any photos together! Unfortunately I haven't scanned it so can't share it with y'all!

This Time Last Week...

We’ve been home for a week & between playing catch up plus catching up on sleep, I just haven’t been able to compose an articulate post…the longer I leave it, it doesn’t get easier & more things continue to happen that I want to share so I must tackle this 1st

It was an awesome trip! For the most part…& that’s where I’m stuck…I don’t want to come across as Cathy Complainer because we really did have an awesome trip & the good stuff was superb…but the bad stuff was really awful…to give an honest account of our vacation, how can I leave out that awfulness? I don’t want you to think that the awfulness consumes my memories, because it doesn’t…

How about we cover the best parts first…Elena was AWESOME on the plane rides!! No major meltdowns tho I am sure the man in front of us wanted to strangle us both…I did my best to keep Elena from kicking, banging, knocking & pushing his seat but she’s a kid so I’m sure in his eyes I failed miserably! On the way down, she fell asleep during takeoff & slept for just over an hour & the rest of the flight was spent entertaining her…she watched some videos, played some games, walked up & down the aisles charming the other passengers, going to the washroom for no other reason than for something to do.

On the flight home, she fell asleep on the bus ride from the hotel to the airport & slept thru check in (only about 45 minutes total) & was awake the entire rest of the trip right up until when we got to our car…with no major meltdowns!!! On her part anyway, I was so damn tired I wanted to stab myself in the eyes! Thankfully with the extra legroom seats we’d purchased, she played on the floor for a bit pretending to sleep & watched videos but due to turbulence, didn’t get to walk the aisles much.

I learned that to head off meltdowns, the more info I gave her of what to expect & what was expected of her, the better she did. Like warning her that when we got to the airport after landing, she’d have to stay in her stroller the whole time, she put up a bit of a fight but I reminded her that this was how it had to be & she complied. Especially after I let her carry our backpack on her lap (the girl likes to be helpful!). Tho it was awkward for her, it made her happy…so if you’re ever out & see a small kid doing something strange like carrying a backpack half the size of them or 2 giant pillows (we did this in the mall once) don’t judge!! If the kid’s not crying, then it’s a good thing!!

We stayed at the Barcel√≥ Huatulco Beach Resort…what a spectacularly beautiful place! The weather was beyond perfect, 36 degrees & sunny the ENTIRE time!! We had a very spacious ocean view room with large balcony that included a hammock where we enjoyed the sunrise every morning…yes, Elena was up at sunrise EVERY MORNING!

The grounds were spectacular! They had a large children’s pool that was waist deep for Elena plus a large pool that was chest deep for me…this is where Elena & I spent our mornings. Between the 2 pools we had tons of fun & had them practically to ourselves most of the time.

After all that swimming & sun, Elena would sleep all afternoon, 2 hours or more! Then we usually would venture out on a walk around the resort, to the park or the beach…Elena was less than impressed with the beach! She does not like things on her feet or between her toes so the sand drove her nuts & she didn’t like the surf breaking on the beach, since she doesn’t like loud sounds, I think that contributed to her dislike. I was only able to convince her to dip her toes once & tho she had a good laugh, refused to ever do it again. The funniest was her trying to “stop” the ocean from coming up on the sand by waving her arms frantically! She actually got mad at me for not stopping it! So funny!

There was also a really great park with slides, swings climbing apparatus…plus Elena’s favourite…a trampoline! Elena usually doesn’t get the opportunity to use a trampoline since there are always older kids & I don’t let her for fear she’ll get hurt…but there, she was the only kid! She was able to master the art of jumping & had a ball running & falling & bouncing on the trampoline. They also had little easels she could colour on & little tables to play at.

Sounds perfect, right? An ideal vacation! For the most part…

Even with the perfect children’s pool & the awesome park, this resort was not a toddler friendly place…at least not Canadian toddler friendly. The resort is really more a Mexican vacation destination than tourist-y places like Cancun or Acapulco. There were very few other Canadian (& even less American) families. There were very few children’s choices at the buffet. Some days the best Elena could hope for was French fries. They had hot dogs but this is not something I’d usually offer Elena…not that it mattered since she wouldn’t eat them anyway. Even the days pasta was offered which Elena would happily eat usually, it was often spicy or seafood sauces. Thankfully she did eat a decent breakfast most mornings (bread & jam, pancakes, yogurt) since lunch & dinner would be hit & miss…she didn’t have much of an appetite & I’m sure her tummy wasn’t feeling great a lot of the time plus I know now that she’d been teething (her 2 bottom molars are breaking thru already!!).

On top of that, navigating a buffet with a toddler is challenging at best…with all the people around carrying plates of hot food, I couldn’t let Elena wander so had to carry her. Imagine carrying a child plus plates plus serving food…not easy. If Elena’s patience would allow me, I’d often make two trips, once to fill my plate & the 2nd to fill hers but this strategy only worked some of the time so just as often I would fill 1 plate for both of us to eat off. This is the 1st all-you-can-eat vacation I’ve ever been on that I actually lost weight!!

The other challenge of the buffets…they were closed between 11am-12:30pm & 5pm-6:30pm…exactly when Elena would usually eat! Since she would wake up at 6am & play in the pool all morning, she was ready for lunch about 11-11:30 & nap by noon! And since she would be ready for sleep about 7-7:30pm, going to a buffet or a la carte restaurant at 6:30pm just didn’t work out so well!! I started stealing food from the buffets (very frowned upon) so we could eat in our room…I ordered room service once which made for a great night but I just couldn’t afford to do this every night.

Speaking of nights, they were a nightmare! We arrived Tuesday & had two peaceful nights. Then on Thursday the resort was invaded by a conference & the floor Elena & I were on was filled with 20-something partying idiots who were yelling, screaming, squealing, laughing, singing etc from 7pm until 5am with only brief respite while they were at dinner & the disco. This went on Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights!! Elena, once I got her to sleep every evening, thankfully slept thru the shenanigans. I did not have this luxury & remember Elena was up every morning at 6am!

Now I know what you’re going to say! Why didn’t I complain? Why didn’t I ask to be moved? Well, I didn’t ask to be moved because I knew the hotel was full due to the convention so nowhere to move me to. I didn’t complain because I was afraid. Afraid the drunkards would retaliate…I had visions of them jumping onto our balcony (very easily done since they were separated by low walls with vines & flowers) or banging thru the flimsy wooden door connecting our rooms. If I was without Elena, be sure I would have raised holy hell! But I’ve been at enough drunken debacles & witnessed them degenerate into careless violence that I was too afraid to take any chances that something could happen to Elena. Be sure I had my own passive aggressive revenge by encouraging Elena to laugh & squeal as loudly as she liked when she woke up at 6am until we left for breakfast at 8am!!

I was working on 2-3 hours sleep max a night!! I am ashamed to admit that it took its toll on me & I lost my patience with Elena more than once…it makes me feel just awful, especially since Elena really did the best she could under the circumstances of being in a new place with a new ever changing schedule, new foods, being hungry, tired & teething to boot!…It all got to me, the lack of sleep, the frustration with getting Elena fed, how hard it was to navigate the buffets alone with a toddler…It broke me…I felt defeated & demoralized & like a complete failure as a parent. Elena deserved better than I gave her.

On Sunday, after a particularly rough day, while waiting at the front desk to cancel our dinner reservations (I wasn’t going to brave another a la carte restaurant alone with a cranky toddler) we ran into a woman who’d been on our flight & whom we’d chatted with a few times thru the week. We exchanged pleasantries then she said to me, “You know, I’ve observed you & your daughter a lot this week. I need to tell you that you are such a good mother.” This woman must be an angel because those are words I needed to hear at that moment. I tried to hide them behind my sunglasses but my tears were obvious along with my shaking shoulders as I wept in front of this kind stranger & everyone in the lobby! It brings tears to my eyes even now when I remember the moment. Once I caught my breath & could speak all I could whisper was, “Thank you. It doesn’t always feel that way.”

It is that moment of kindness that encapsulates the trip for me…yes, there were challenges & yes, I am not proud of losing my temper with Elena more than once…but they really are small when compared with the joy & fun Elena & I shared together…her uninhibited laughter & pure sweet smile…after being home a week & having caught up on my sleep, it is our days in the pool, the squeals of delight at "pushing" me into the water, Elena's comical reaction to the ocean, dancing to the Mariachi Band, her excitement at walking up & down "The Big Stairs" & her jumping on that beloved trampoline that call to mind when asked, “How was your trip?”