Sunday, December 30, 2012

Things I forgot last time

Just as previously posted, almost as soon as I finished my last post I remembered two other things I had wanted to include, and they were kind of big things too.  And then as so often is the case for me, as much as I would have loved to sit right back down again and write about them, right now is the first time since then that I've had time.

The first thing that I forgot, and really shouldn't have, is that the 26th marked Tera's 22nd month.  In a mere two months my little girl will be two and at least I can say this year didn't seem to go by nearly as fast as the first one (and sometimes it was just downright slow).  It's kind of hard for me to differentiate her accomplishments from one month to the next because they seem more gradual and less obvious.  Just to be clear, I'm still waiting for a first word and in fair warning, when it does happen, it will be a post all by itself.  She is adding new signs every week it seems and is using them in combinations.  She also seems to finally be able to recognize people in pictures and by name.  At her last review, she still hadn't reached this six to nine month milestone, but the more we practice and test her, the more I'm convinced she knows most of the members of the immediate family by name and completely selfishly, I'm beyond thrilled every single time she correctly looks for and finds "Daddy" and "Mommy".

She's a pretty solid walker now, though she definitely stumbles regularly.  Her most recent spill resulted in a nasty looking gash and corresponding black eye right in time for Christmas.  She was just fitted for her orthotics this past Wednesday which will hopefully help her gain stability and confidence while preventing future ankle, knee, and hip problems due to her feet rolling in.  I have to admit though, that while I'm excited to see how much better she will be when she has them, a small part of me is resentful of the fact that she has to wear them at all.  She can't wear just any cute shoes, she has to wear a specific type of gym shoe that will not only support her, but will also accommodate her orthotics.  We've been on a fairly extensive search already trying to find ones that will work; and it's not the cost because the doctor assured us they do not have to be expensive shoes, it's just a matter of trying to find ones that will work.

And then there's the little issue of her having a streak of the devil.  I would never say she's a bad child because that's not it, she's just into EVERYTHING.  And to all of the people who are saying to themselves right now that this is what I get for wanting her to walk, I will say that this has nothing to do with her added mobility and everything to do with her personality.  I know for a fact that even if she couldn't walk right now, she'd be crawling or rolling her way into most of the same things.  Having her home for the past few days has completely exhausted Tom and I.  We actually cleaned out my office to make it a playroom for her and we've still spent hours troubleshooting all the new ways she's finding to get into trouble.  She has a lot of curiosity, a lot of determination, a lot of stubbornness, a lot of defiance, and very little fear or recognition of the words "no", "stop", and "don't do that".

After weeks of trying to ensure she doesn't inflict the same kind of damage to my Christmas village as Godzilla does to Japanese villages, I finally gave in today and packed it up and we took down the tree.  Which leads to my second forgotten topic: the post Christmas letdown I feel every year.

I, along with many people, consider Christmas a favorite time of the year.  One of my absolute favorite things about it every year, is having our tree lights on every night.  Before Tera was born and I had some downtime, I used to just love to sit down with all the other lights turned off, just the tree lights turned on, and just look at the tree.  It reminded me of past Christmases as a kid, Christmases spent with people who are no longer here to celebrate with, and of what's important to me.  The only problem with our tree every year is that it, along with the board we use to display my village, takes up quite a bit of room and by the end of the season, things are feeling cramped.  This year we added to that the complication of Tera constantly terrorizing the set up and an influx of new toys and I had to admit today that it was time to come down.  I typically have mixed emotions about the tree and I always feel a little sad when Christmas is over.  There's just so much anticipation and planning that goes along with the holidays and when it's all over, I'm left with a feeling of, "ok, now what?".  It doesn't typically last very long; usually by the time my house is back in order and we actually have time to do things and relax without having plans every minute of the day, I'm over it and move on, but these past few days have been the height of my letdown.

What does make it better is being able to spend time with my family and friends.  Tom and Tera and I have had lots of time together, Tom and I actually went and saw a movie together, we've spent time with our families and some of our closest friends and while I wasn't able to get as much done, it was much more quality time spent and is always a good reality check and reminder to appreciate what's truly important.  Our friends and family have been there for us in the good times and the bad and we need that time with them.

I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions, but if there was one I had to state it's to work on making memories with my family and friends for ourselves and for Tera.  She's getting old enough to enjoy things and people and I want her to be able to look back when she's older and know that we had fun as a family.  Tonight we built a fort out of the pillows from our couch and tomorrow we'll continue the tradition of bowling on New Year's Eve with our second family.  I have so many fond memories of traditions we had while I was growing up and even when those traditions changed or evolved, they remained special to me and I want that for my own family and for my own daughter.

Happy New Year to you all.  I appreciate your support and comments always and wish you and your families and friends a safe, healthy, and enjoyable 2013.  Now how long will it take me to remember that when I write checks?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas thoughts

I've been on a bit of a hiatus and to be honest, it was partially due to writer's block.  There were several times I wanted to post, but just couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to say.  But now following one of my favorite holidays, I've been dying to write a post and couldn't find the time.  I don't want this to be just a recap of our holiday experience, but I do want to share some of the emotions of the past few days.

Unfortunately, I came down with a bug of some sort on the last Friday of work.  Fortunately we make it a pretty laid back day and so I muddled through, but I was starting to get stressed about getting sick for Christmas.  This shouldn't have been the end of the world for me; I knew no matter what it wasn't going to be serious so even if it was an inconvenience, or worst case, I couldn't make it to some of our festivities, I would be fine and there would be other Christmases.  This of course brought me back to several years ago when my sister became very, very, dangerously ill just before Christmas and our family spent several hours on Christmas Eve with her in the ICU and how all I could think was that I didn't care about Christmas at all that year, I just wanted her better and home.  It's a time our family can joke about now, but at that time, it really put things in perspective for us and I always try and keep that perspective around the holidays.

The main reason I was so worried about being sick was because I didn't want to miss anything with Tera.  If there's one thing I've learned since becoming a parent, it's that the holidays bring on a whole new meaning.  In the case of our little Energizer Bunny, it means we're both a little more exhausted at family functions because we have to alternate who's going to chase after her.  But mostly, it's Christmas morning that has gotten even better.  I'll admit I've never been able to sleep in on Christmas; I'm always up early and trying to wait until an appropriate time to wake Tom up so we can go downstairs and open gifts.  I love turning on the tree when it's still dark outside, exchanging gifts, trying to capture the looks of surprise with the camera, and sharing our stories about our gift purchasing experiences.  But last year and this year it was made so much more memorable when the day was started by hearing that little voice from the other room.  This Christmas morning I was already awake (following an incredibly crappy night of sleep due to my inability to breathe) and anxiously awaiting Tera's waking sounds.  She of course took this opportunity (of all the days) to sleep until 7! I walked into her room only to be greeted by one very smiley, happy girl.  I got a hug and kisses and it almost seemed as if she knew what was going on.  I carried her back to our bedroom where she greeted Daddy with kisses and soon enough we headed downstairs.

Last year she did pretty well with the unwrapping process, but this year she was just completely enthralled by it.  If Tom or I opened a gift from the each other, she had to help unwrap it.  Pretty soon our living room was a tornado of paper, boxes, toys, and clothes and it was perfect.  Tom's parents were due to join us shortly after so we started cleaning a bit up before the next wave and Tera took a break to have some breakfast and then Skype with one of her aunts.  The amazing thing about technology, is that even in Charlotte, my sister can watch Tera unwrap her gifts from her.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind of food and gifts and despite only being able to nap in two short spurts, Tera did great. So here's what I'm taking from Christmas this year.  1.) My husband never ceases to amaze me.  The thoughtfulness and love that he consistently puts into my gifts reminds me how incredibly lucky I am to have him.  2.) Each year Christmas will become more and more memorable as Tera understands more about what is going on and I can't wait to make memories with her that we will both cherish.  3.) Our family and friends also never cease to amaze me.  The gifts are one thing, but the thought that went into them and just the reactions on THEIR faces when she opened her gifts were priceless.  I'm still always taken aback when I see how much that little girl is loved, and how much love she inspires.  4.) We clearly need a bigger house.

I don't know that I got everything out that I wanted to, but I guess that's the price I pay when I have thoughts percolating in my head for days and I don't get them out.  Maybe as I remember other things I wanted to include, I'll write them down and I'll have some material for the next few days.  Tomorrow Tera will be at daycare and Tom will be at work so given an entire day of personal reflection, I'm sure I'll have more than enough.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Complete sadness

I went back and forth in my mind today about whether to write tonight about what's happened today, but I feel I must get this out just for my own sake.  As my own child sleeps upstairs and I sit in front of my beautiful tree in the safety of my home, I simply can't fathom what the families of those lost children and other adults must be experiencing.  When you send your child off to school in the morning you always expect that you'll be able to see them again at the end of the day and no one can prepare for when that doesn't happen.  I have cried today and tear up even as I write this.  I can't remember the last time I felt so sad.  I wanted desperately to talk to someone on my way home, but knew there was no way I could keep my composure if I did.  I wanted to call my mom and to tell her I loved her because I knew I couldn't say it to my own daughter at that moment, but of almost anyone, I knew for sure I wouldn't be able to physically speak when she answered the phone.  I picked Tera up from daycare and didn't want to let her go.

I feel so lost as to how to express how I feel because no one can explain this.  I've tried comparing this to other tragedies, but somehow this is different.  As an educator who started my career after Columbine and in the midst of so many other similar tragedies, I always think about how I would handle something like this and wonder how we are lucky enough to have escaped it when others haven't.

I wasn't a huge fan of people telling me that everything happens for a reason after Tera was born and diagnosed, but I really don't think I can handle anybody saying that about today.  This didn't happen for any reason other than one of the sickest people to walk this earth made it happen.  I won't hypothesize on his motive or stand on a soap box and try to explain why this might have happened.  I have my opinions, but what I think doesn't matter.  What matters is that this country comes together as it has so many times before to support and grieve with those families who lost a loved one today.

In the hours following the news of the shooting I was checking Facebook to see what was being posted and was already disgusted by the fact that friends' innocent comments about sending love and prayers were being hijacked by people getting into arguments about gun control and the state of society.  There is a time and place for things and today is definitely not it.  On the flip side of things, I also felt a sense of unity with all the people sharing their condolences for the families of the victims.  Websites, bands, and companies all stopped the now seemingly less important posts that usually go up on Facebook and instead devoted that time and space to showing their support for the community affected by this tragedy.

In the wake of such things happening I think everyone reevaluates what they should do differently to ensure similar things don't happen to them.  I do the same thing, but I also usually come to the conclusion that one can only do so much without giving up your life and freedom completely.  The hard part to justify is that this isn't something that had to happen.  Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods are things no one has control over.  They're going to happen and no one can stop them.  But this didn't have to happen.  Someone made a choice and now people, our country, our society, but most importantly those families and that community will have to forever live with the consequences of that choice and somehow try and pick up the pieces.  I'm sorry that I just can't end this on a positive note tonight.  As so many people have already said, hug your kids, your family, your friends and tell them you love them.  It will never be a wasted moment.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ah yes, parenting...

These next few weeks are going to be hard to get posts in, but I’m determined to use this for part of the reason I intended: therapeutic purposes and sharing memories.

Being a parent is hard.  No matter what your child is like, every parent has their struggles and in these past 21 months I've learned that I will be able to overcome the struggles, but that it takes time, patience, and some reminders of why I love this most difficult of roles.  After nearly three weeks of pneumonia Tera has returned to her smiley, silly self and we couldn't be happier.  This past Sunday was unseasonably warm with temperatures near 70 degrees for the first weekend in December and so Tom suggested we take Tera to the park and see if her BFF wanted to meet up with us.   This was the first time we've taken her to the park since she’s been able to walk and I can’t believe how much fun she had and how amazing it was to watch her be a little kid.  She ran all over the place, climbed up the steps, went down the slides, swung on the swings, and played with her friend. 

That afternoon after a rough wake up from her nap, we decided to try another park near our house and she did even better.  This park was even more suitable to her age and abilities and all her playing was exactly what they want her to be doing as therapy strategies.  She even managed to climb UP the slide completely unassisted and completely amazed her dad and I.  The fresh air and time as a family was something we all needed and gave us a break from all stress of her being sick and just the craziness of our daily lives.  It was true happiness watching her be so “normal”.

Unfortunately these past few nights have thrown us into the depths of sleep deprivation as she spent Sunday night and Monday waking up more than four times during the night.  Tuesday night she only woke up once or twice, but then was completely awake at 4:30 this morning. 

To make matters worse, I feel like I might be coming down with something, but that could just be allergies and sheer exhaustion from the past few nights.  And see here is where the other difficulty in parenting lies; developing a thick skin.  Yesterday I spent most of the day feeling crappy and instead of working out like I had planned, just came home and got some stuff done around the house.  When Tom came home with Tera, I just wanted to get a kiss and a smile from my baby, but she was having none of it, only wanted to be held by her dad, and kept trying to hit me when I asked for a kiss.  Really kid? She was completely cranky for the next hour, to the point of having to cut her PT session short, ate some dinner and was finally a little better after that (I did eventually get a few kisses). 

Don’t get me wrong, I know she’s only one, but it’s still not easy to feel better when your own child would rather hit you, than kiss you and you clearly have no way of reasoning with her.  This would be one of those times I need to tell myself to suck it up buttercup and just move on.  

She did have a much better evening tonight and while rocking her she laid her head right on my chest as she drifted off to sleep and I once again fell head over heels in love with her.  And as much as I love her, I'm really hoping I don't see that sweet face again until 6:00 tomorrow morning.  
We were trying desperately to get a picture to use for our Christmas card and she was her usual active self.