It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

16 Dec

I have not been in the holiday spirit yet this year.  To be honest, I am very much a last minute type of gal, but usually have a few things done come early December.

I have bought a few gifts, but before today have done literally nothing else for Christmas.  The kids haven’t even seen Santa.  Ty and I have such incompatible schedules that it just hasn’t felt like we have had the time.

I worked Monday, so I urged them to go get the tree without me, even though that is something we do as a family every year.  I think I knew deep down that once the tree was up, my Christmas ball would start rolling.

And so it did!  Ty set the tree up today and we decorated together.

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The girls had so much fun bopping around to music and talking about the special ornaments.  And, let’s be honest, is there anything better than the smell of a fresh tree? 

We decorated the inside of the house, and moved on to our pitiful gingerbread house.  We overloaded it before the icing got hard and the poor thing fell apart.  The picture below shows the roof supported by bowls!

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I had pre made a bunch of cookie doughs while the girls napped that needed to be chilled, so we will finish those off tomorrow.  I was dying to try these little “pepper nuts” that Tawnya makes, so I made a batch while the girls slept and baked them off.  They are SO good, and you can find her recipe here.  I subbed a flax egg in to make them vegan and they look the same, I think! 

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I am so glad I have my holiday mojo now.  Ty is putting up the outdoor decorations tomorrow, and I am hoping to bang out my Christmas shopping and start wrapping this weekend.  I love this time of year!

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Despite the fact that I was trying to go back to blonde, I had a lapse in sanity and went dark again. Oh well...

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Even though Gracelyn is pantless, I adore this picture!

Catching Up

11 Dec

I feel like I am completely off of the blogging train lately.  I love reading blogs, but I haven’t been driven to write anything lately, so here is a quick recap of what we have been up to.

Getting Sick Everyone dropped in our house with gastro, less than one week after Gracelyn was sick with a respiratory virus.  It started when I came home from a Calgary conference on Tuesday night.  I hadn’t even been home for an hour when Gracie started projectile vomiting everywhere. I put her with me in my bed with a bowl, and she proceded to puke every 15 minutes.  Around midnight, Abby came upstairs crying that she threw up in her bed, so climbed into mine and joined the puke party. No one got much sleep.

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Ty was working nights, and came home the next morning with soup, crackers, a Starbucks gift card….and the flu.  I succumbed mid afternoon the same day and it was misery, but I am happy to report we are all well :-)

Potty training A few accidents here and there, but Gracie is diaper free, except for at night where she complains bitterly about wearing one, and begs for her “uhnnies”.  I finally gave into the process, and it went really smoothly this time.  Unfortunately, her little butt is so skinny it is hard to find undies that fit, but we make do. So happy to be over this hurdle!

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Soother weaning Oh, this was nasty.   Two days of horrible naps and bedtime, where she absolutely screamed forever before falling asleep.  Then, exactly like her sister, on day 3 she just accepted that bedtime looked different, and went down no fuss.  She generally self settles by reading or singing to her stuffies, and doesn’t fall asleep as quickly as she used to, but still sleeps through the night.  I am thrilled that the soother is a thing of the past!

Babies and Baby Showers I was honoured to host a baby shower for Baby Boy Ambler recently.  Rachel and I have been besties for over 10 years now, and I am way too excited to meet this little man in just over a month!  We did “Ahoy, It’s a Boy!” for our theme and I love how it turned out.  I will absolutely be doing more brunch functions.  We had a mimosa bar, tons of brunch food and a sweets table and everything was so delicious.

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Also, a dear friend just welcomed baby number 3, a sweet girl, into our fold.  I have a few other friends expecting in the next few months and can’t wait to meet and snuggle all these little ones!  Ty and I are definitely satisfied with our family, but I am so excited to have other peoples’ new babes around!

Spin After months of my sis in law telling me how sweet the new spin studio, Kinetic, is, I finally gave it a shot.  I loved it and have since bought a short pass so I can keep it up before the holidays.  I love that they dim the lights, blast the music and have a laser light show happening.  It is set up to be an individual pace, but I am super motivated that they rank you on a screen, and it definitely makes me push harder.  Best of all….no back pain!  I am loving these sweat sessions and dragging everyone and their dog in with me!

Monkeying around Abby is in preschool, but Gracie isn’t in any sort of day care, so playdates are important to us.  We have been meeting up with lots of our little friends lately, and one of my new fave winter playdate destinations is open gym at Westwinds.  I find it a little pricey ($12 for each girl) but it is so much fun to have the run of all the trampolines and the foam pit (that I refuse to go in).  We recently went with Tawnya and Scarlett and will definitely be back.

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Diet bet I was having a hard time sticking to a a healthy eating regime, so I started a diet bet last month that just wrapped up.  I split the pot with two others, but more importantly our group lost over 40 collective pounds in 4 weeks.  Sa-weet!

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Christmas Concert Abby was so funny at her concert this year.  She woke up this morning to inform me she was absolutely not sick (she was for last year’s concert) and had been anxiously awaiting go time all day.  I took her to get her hair trimmed and curled, and she put on a great show!  she was beyond adorable, and thrilled with the flowers Ty bought her like he always does.

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That is about all that is new around here!  I am hoping to get into Christmas mode soon, because it is sneaking up fast!

Bye Bye Little Baby

1 Dec

Gracelyn my girl, it is time for me to face the music.  Even though we still call you a baby, you are the furthest thing from it.

Two seemed so big when you were born.  Abrielle seemed so mature at that age, and I had a hard time remembering she was little, because tiny little you was always smaller.  Because you are my last baby, you still seem so little to me!

We focused on getting ” ready” for you by having Abbers potty trained (she was willing, ready, and had it wrapped up well in advance of her 2nd birthday).  We took away the sucky long before you arrived so that it wouldn’t be confusing for her.  She slept by herself in the basement at your age (with a baby monitor for good measure).

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She seemed ready to transition, and we were eager to help her.  With you however, I have drug my feet on almost everything. 

We took you out of your crib only because we were sure you would kamikaze out of it sooner than later.  I single handedly sabotaged your last go at potty training because I simply didn’t want to do.  You were 95% trained and I put you back in diapers! And the soother…well, I always found a reason you needed it, be it teething, illness, sleepovers at Grandma’s, etc.

When you decided that you would like to potty train again (as an aside, I think you actually might be done.  It has been a few days accident free), Daddy and I agreed December 1st would be the day we “lost” all your soothers.  I snuck into your room last night and collected them, and then did the same with the one you used in the morning.  At naptime, you were sad they were gone and cried, cried, and cried.  After a half hour (and a very bewildering rejection of your beloved Sleepy Bunny) you settled into a shuddery breathed sleep, and slept for 2.5 hours.

Tonight, the battle raged.  It was UGLY.  You screamed, cried, kicked, got out of bed a million times and finally settled to sleep with a back rub and Sleepy Bunny “in your bed, but not for cuddles”.  I was definitely weary, but having done the same with your sister, I know these days are (hopefully) few.  I don’t blame you for being sad, and sister, I know exactly where you got your stubbornness from.  Compounding everything is that your two year molars decided to start coming in today…perfect timing!

My little one, you are such a big girl now.  You are independent, witty, adventurous and have an amazing vocabulary.  You do almost everything your big sister does, and still I see you as so little.  You will always be my baby, but I know the time has come to start letting you spread your wings a little more and accept you as the full blown toddler that you are.

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I will, however, still take the sleepy cuddles anytime you wish to give them :-)

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You’ll Just Have Heaven Before We Do

25 Nov

Heartache fills me today as I write this post.  I spent my day at Alberta Children’s Hospital participating in a pediatric palliative care workshop.  It was absolutely beneficial, and I am grateful I took it, however it left me feeling emotionally drained.

I arrived home and not one hour later did I find out that an old friend’s beautiful newborn passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  Upon learning this, all the grief and emotions I had been bottling away today, and truthfully, for the last few months, came bubbling to the surface and I dissolved into a mess of tears.

I am asked all the time “I don’t know how you do what you do”, and my standard response is “most kids come in sick, but leave well”.  I rarely delve into the darker and more emotional side of things.  The truth is however, sometimes it is just damn hard.

Dealing with an actual death is one thing, but for myself, anticipatory grief is the worst.  I struggle holding children in my arms who have a poor prognosis and knowing there is perhaps only weeks or months left.  I mourn for the hole they are going to leave in the lives of those who they touch, and often struggle to find meaning in their deaths, or shortened life spans.  It breaks my heart watching parents wrestle with a new reality, and feel empty when I arrive to work, only to discover a little one is no longer in this world with us.

I won’t pretend that these situations are about me, because they certainly aren’t, but I can’t deny how affected I am by them.  I am grateful for my spirituality, and the trust that these little ones are lucky, because they receive a heavenly reward so soon, without the pain and suffering a longer earthly life can bring.  I still do grapple with the feelings of anger or uncertainty for those left behind to mourn. 

A line that struck me in my workshop today was “grief is the price we pay for loving”.  I take some comfort in the fact that I am able to connect on a level with those I care for that I do grieve, proof of their impact on earth.  Although I still do struggle on occassion with the “how” of pediatric nursing, specifically regarding death, I still feel absolutely grateful and privledged to be in this profession. 

Tonight, I hug my little girls a little tighter, and make my prayers a little more earnest for those who are hurting.  I hope they also feel some sense of peace when times are dark and the hurt is overwhelming.

Just Show Them Love

3 Nov

Shortly after the shooting in Ottawa two weeks ago, I was watching the news with Abby when they played footage of Sgt at Arms Ken Vickers being received at the House of Commons.

I did not expect all the questions that would flow out of my little four year old. “Why are they clapping?” “Why is he a hero?” and most poignantly, “why are they crying?”.

Deep breath.

I explained to her, as best as I could, that he helped stop someone who had a gun from hurting lots of people.  I answered honestly when she asked if anyone got hurt, and then was faced with the toughest question of all: “why would someone do that?”.

The best I could do was tell her that some people have hate in their heart, and there are lots of reasons why that happens.  I told her people can make really bad decisions, and quoted Frozen:  “people make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed”.  I reassured her there are police officers, like her uncle, who are specially trained to stop people like this and put them in jail. 

I then took it one step further, and told her it was our job to love these people anyway.  There are troubles and problems in the lives of strangers that we know nothing about, and can’t always understand someone else’s struggle.  We talked about hate breeding more hate, and that working towards understanding is the best way to resolve conflict.  I went on to tell her that if she really tried, but couldn’t find love in her heart, she could always ask God for help.  She seemed really satisfied by this, and we moved on.

It absolutely sucks having to talk about heavy issues like this with a four year old, however just yesterday I was able to see that as awful as these situations are, they create a framework for moral lessons.  We were watching a show together and things got quite heated between two characters, one being particularly nasty to the other.  My sweet little ginger haired girl turned to me and said “he should just show her love…because then she will show him love and they can stop fighting”.

Wouldn’t that be perfect if we all thought that way, all the time?

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: My Story

15 Oct

I hadn’t realized there was a Pregnancy and Infant Loss day, but have been toying with blogging about our loss for a while now.  So here goes…

Tyler and I knew we wanted kids for a long time, well before we were married.  After we got married (in 2007) we decided to wait to have kids until I was done with my second degree.  As the years passed we started to get itchy for a little one and decides to start trying.

We tried “on and off” for a while, (as in, would stop trying if there was something on the horizon it wouldn’t be convenient to be pregnant for) and in 2009 were ecstatic when we finally discovered we were pregnant!  We started planning our future with our little one the minute we saw that second pink line and couldn’t wait to tell friends and family.  The timing wasn’t superb, as my due date was right around the date I wrote my nursing exam, but we knew we would make it work.

We received a dating ultrasound and I was quite early (about 6 weeks) along.  The two of us grinned from ear to ear and stared at the fuzzy black and white picture of our little baby, who was just a small sac at the time.

I was doing a flu shot clinic in my final student rotation and discovered I was bleeding.  My heart sank, and my instructor drove me to the ER to get checked out.  I was reassured that since I wasn’t cramping it was most likely fine, but only an ultrasound would tell.  My blood work came back with positive numbers, and I was relieved to discover I was still pregnant.

I continued to have light intermittent bleeding, but no cramping so I brushed it off and hoped for the best over the next week.  One night, I was at my sister’s with my mom watching her kids, and I discovered that I had passed what looked like a small sac.  I called my mom to the bathroom and, between sobs, told her I knew it was over.  I felt absolutely empty, and was certain I had miscarried this time.

An ultrasound the next day confirmed I had in fact had a miscarriage.  Tyler and I were beyond heartbroken.  We sobbed in the darkened room, and were fairly silent on the ride home.  What I will never, ever forget is what happened when we came home.  Ty went down to our fourth level, and I lay down upstairs.  Suddenly, I heard sobs that sounded like a heartbroken animal crying.  I went downstairs to find Tyler beside himself with grief.  He explained that he was trying to be strong for me, but just couldn’t right that moment.  My heart broke even more, but my love for him grew.

Things I learned:

1. A baby is a baby, now matter how early the loss.  The minute I found out I was pregnant, that was my baby. I thought in the future, and even though I had an early loss, I still pictured what would have been.

2. A miscarriage is not a one day event.  Following the loss, I had pain and cramping and even ended up in the emergency room to have remnants of conception removed over the two weeks that followed.  It was horrible, and while the physical is still happening, it was impossible to move forward with the emotional.

3.  A loss is just a profound for the father.  Tyler lost his baby too, and hurt just as much as I did.

4. Miscarriage puts a future fear in you.  I was terrified to try to get pregnant again after, because I was worried I couldn’t handle another loss.

Obviously our story ended up happy.  We gave my body some time to heal and decided to try again shortly after and were shocked when we got pregnant on the first try.  Holding Abrielle in my arms made me realize that without losing my first baby, I would have never had her.  Down the line, I wouldn’t have had Gracie either, and while it is a lot easier to say that now that I can hold them in my arms, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.

For myself, I feel it is important to share my story with others because so many people have experienced it.  I was not ready to talk about it until after Abby was born, but now I share it freely.  I know that talking about it helped me heal, and I feel at peace with what happened.

At the Heart of it

6 Oct

I have to say, as much as I wasn’t looking forward to being in my thirties, with it has come a sense of self acceptance and peace. 

I have gone through a lot of changes this year, both physical and emotional.  After hurting my back (an annoying issue that I am still dealing with), I gained a lot of weight back that I had lost.  It is hard to watch your body change back after working so hard to make positive gains (no pun intended), but I am surprised that it hasn’t affected me mentally as much as it would have in the past.  I think I have a new self confidence that I have grown into, and I absolutely know that I am responsible for promoting a positive body image to my girls.

Although I want to change my body, and am not satisfied with it, I still love what it does for me, and what it has done in the past.  This body has comforted the sick, grown babies, run a half marathon and danced at concerts.  It has swung my babies high over my head and threaded needles in tiny little veins.  It deserves respect, and I intend to give it that, extra jiggle and all.

Emotionally, I feel I have grown the most.  I use to be very concerned with pleasing everyone, and hoped everyone liked me.  I don’t want to sound glib by saying “I don’t care what you think about me”, because that isn’t entirely true.  More so, what I am concerned with is how what you think of me makes me feel. 

I can’t control the opinions of others, and some of those opinions will always be true, whether I like it or not.  All I can control is how I feel about it, and how I choose to let it affect me.

For example, if someone says they don’t agree with a parenting choice that I make, in the past I would have thought “that person is judgemental” or something along those lines while bitterly defending my decision.  Now, my focus is on not what they said (because they absolutely have the right to say it) but rather what emotion it evokes in me.  Insecurity?  Is it because maybe I don’t actually agree with my own decision?  It is always worth a reflection.

It is especially hard if this comes as a character attack. Hearing someone say something about you that you don’t believe to be true is a hard pill to swallow, and hard to walk away from.  I do believe that anytime something is said, it is worth a reflection.  Is there truth to it, even if I don’t like it?  More importantly, what motivated them to say it?  Where are they coming from?

My experience is, most times, it isn’t really about me and conversely comments I make might not truly be about the other person. What is at the heart of it?  Are they motivated by trying to inspire a change, or is it more likely coming from a place of hurt, jealousy or insecurity? 

This new outlook has brought me so much peace.  It has made it easier to confront a problem to delve in and see if there was actually an issue, or maybe just a misunderstanding.  It has allowed me to let go of anything that just doesn’t serve me or make me happy.
Why hang on to something like that?

Something I have been focusing on lately with Abrielle is the statement “is it true”.  Just because something is said does not make it true, and it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Brush it off and move on.

I feel so blessed to have such a fantastic group of friends and family, and hope the same for my girls.  Life is a journey of self reflection and growth, and I hope they always push themselves to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

I will try to do the same. :)

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