The darnedest questions

When a child asks a question, there is no hidden agenda, no secret motive, they simply are just curious and want to know; however, they are very impressionable. Who their parents choose as their immediate circle have a direct impact on who they are – those people are their entire world.  Everyone looks different, dresses differently, has different personalities, body types, etc., which means new things to little minds bring out the best questions EVER!

Question: Why did you write on yourself?

Grown-up answer: I have two tattoos, so far, which are located on my wrists. When I wear anything that does not have sleeves they are there for the world to see, including you, Little One.  One reads “força” which means strength in Portuguese, representing my dad who has taught me in many ways to be strong; and the other one is “beauté” which is French for beauty for my momma, to whom I attribute my dashing good looks! I wrote on myself to always remind me where I came from. And Lillian when you are 18 and want to get tattoos, I am going to tell you to wait, a year, two years, three years even, and think long and hard like I did, and make it meaningful. And regardless of what others may say, it’s your body. Your mom may have a different response to this.

Actual answer: Because I was silly and wanted to write I myself. It’s something you do when you are older, much much older…like 40.

Question: Where are the rest of your panties?

Grown up answer: I have no idea! No, really. When you grow up, suddenly it becomes the norm to pay more for less fabric. It becomes more uncomfortable to wear something that is more “appealing.” Don’t get me wrong, sometimes less fits better with an outfit, and sometimes it’s nice to wear something scandalous.

Actual answer: My bum ate them.

Question: Why do you have owies on your face?

Grow up answer: Well beautiful, they are called zits because I like chocolate and chips and sometimes fall asleep with makeup on. I also touch my face when I am stressed, which happens very often when you become a “grown up.”

Actual answer: I dunno, Baby Girl, I just don’t know.

Question: Why did you kiss Uncle Cody? Are you getting married?

Grow up answer: I kissed Uncle Cody because I wanted to. Unfortunately you don’t always love people when you kiss them and you aren’t always going to marry them. You may think you love them, but you will find out the hard way that you have to kiss frogs to find your prince. And yes, Baby Girl, we are getting married.

Actual answer: Yes, Baby Girl, I love him and that is the only time you should kiss someone – when you love them and only when you are going to marry them.

Sophie’s response: Ew, gross!

~ Jacqui

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One last day

Today for most is back-to-school – new backpacks, sneakers, clothes, pencils, notebooks, lunch bags. But for us it’s the last day of vacation.

At our local school, the new junior kindergarten students start via appointment with their parents throughout the day, getting used to the classroom and the teachers, being reassured that babies will be okay and the teachers are awesome and fun will be had. We did this last year with our week-old Isaac, watching Sophie find the reading area and the house centre and the blocks and the paints and the water table and all of the exciting things she’ll do. And then we went home to wait for her full first day, which would be the Thursday of that week.

This time we have a senior kindergarten student, someone who is experienced and accomplished, who is counting the sleeps until she can go back to school and see her friends and her teachers. Someone who now knows her mom is boring compared to the action-packed curriculum she got used to last year. Someone who makes us prouder with every moment than we could ever imagine.

She's standing on a stool at the kitchen sink...because she CAN.

She’s standing on a stool at the kitchen sink…because she CAN.

Her first official day back-to-school is tomorrow, so today Ben has taken the day off and we are spending one last day of routine-less freedom enjoying the quiet and excitement, doing fun things like laundry and playing Super Mario on Ben’s old Nintendo 64 system. One last day of summer.

It’s also the last Tuesday following Labour Day that we won’t have to go to school. Next year, Lillian will be the Junior Kindergarten student with an appointment on the Tuesday and Sophie will be in Grade 1 full-time-all-the-time right from the hop and our life will look entirely different again.

The girls learning about the merits of each Disney princess. Hitting the books early.

The girls learning the merits of each Disney princess. Hitting the books early.

We’ve already started working with Lillian’s speech therapist about the ramp up and transition to school next year. We’re considering this time, this final year when Lillian is a child of classless freedom, as the sprint to school, the final leg in a race we’ve been running since she was born, one that was punctuated with hearing aids at 4 months old, a cochlear implant at 13 months old, and amazing us with her smarts and tenacity THE WHOLE TIME.

So beautiful and awesome. Makes my heart hurt.

So beautiful and awesome. Makes my heart hurt.

I can’t even begin to think about this fella starting school.

Isaac is helping do laundry...with his TEETH.

Helping do laundry…with his TEETH.

The thought of being home alone with him next year is already wigging me out. I oscillate between worry about not being interesting enough for him alone at home and excited for all of the free time I’ll have during his naps in the afternoon. (Do I watch The Social or write my novel or nap…decisions, decisions!)

For today, though, the focus is on being in this moment, this last gasp of vacation and summer sun, of lazy days and schedule-free living. Today is about silliness and family-ness.

LOVE this man.

LOVE this man.

It’s about being kind and being slow and relishing in now, because tomorrow starts early and ends late and is the beginning of the next leg of our journey.

Selfie in PJs! SO sexy.

Selfie in PJs! SO sexy.

Because today is one last day, and we’re going to summer vacation the crap out of it!

To all those going back, good luck! Have fun! BE SAFE! And look for us tomorrow as we join your ranks again.

~ Julia

The difference a year makes

A year ago, I thought I had all the time in the world. My bag wasn’t packed. I was focusing on Sophie starting school. I was focusing on getting a not-for-profit for PPD/PPMD awareness off the ground. I was focused on loving my new niece and my broken sister-in-law. I had all the time in the world.

And then you happened.

First photo

First photo

I was sleeping in bed. Dreaming of steak, probably, because that’s all I craved with you. STEAK. And PORK. And anything barbecued. I wanted MEAT. Lots and lots of FIRE-KISSED MEAT. In my BELLY. NOW. (By the way, your dad couldn’t have been happier – I craved chocolate milkshakes and chocolate milk and fudgsicles with Sophie, and strawberry milkshakes with Lillian – but MEAT? Barbecued at all hours of the day and night? SOLD.)

First REAL clothes

First REAL clothes

And then, I started peeing the bed. Or at least, that’s what I thought was happening. Lots and lots of pee.

Father and son

Father and son

I got up, trying not to keep peeing, thinking that there was no way at 3:45 a.m. that I could have this much pee in me. I hadn’t been drinking all night long…I had gone pee before bed…and at 7468543 months pregnant, I had a bladder the size of a peanut. There was NO WAY I could be peeing this much.

First official photo as a couple

First official photo as a couple

When I sat on the toilet (TMI? Too bad.) a huge gush of water came out of me. My water water. It broke. I actually had a normal labour phenomena (I suck at birthing babies. Cooking babies, I’m a pro. Birthing, getting them out, not so much.)! Now to wake up my deaf (Ben takes his hearing aid out at night) husband while not spilling my innards (TMI again? Too bad again.) all over our carpet. I shoved towels in between my legs and waddled over to our bed. I poked the sleeping bear husband and got him to put in his hearing aid. He looked at me grumpily. I said, “My water broke.” He jumped out of bed. Correct response.

Official photoshoot courtesy of Close Your Eyes Photography

Official photoshoot courtesy of Close Your Eyes Photography

We called my incredible, favourite, most awesome midwife Cathy. And by we, I mean Ben, because people, I had to PACK A BAG TO TAKE TO THE HOSPITAL. With towels between my legs. Priorities. And then we had to call the mothers (someone has to take care of the current babies while we birth the next baby!).

First bath (aka his favourite!)

First bath (aka his favourite!)

Nana (Ben’s mom) came over and Cathy met us at the hospital. We had done something similar at 31 weeks. I had had contractions all day that wouldn’t go away no matter how many left-sided lie downs I had. They were able to give me the lung-boosting shots and the contractions eventually stopped on their own with two days of bed rest. But this, at 36 weeks, was leaking AND contractions. CRAP.

I love me some snuggly baby.

I love me some snuggly baby.

When we got to the hospital, Cathy told a nurse that my water had broke. The nurse asked if I was sure – sure that it broke and it wasn’t just pee, which apparently is a regular occurrence. Cathy said, “She’s got three towels in her pants (I DID, and I sat on a bunch in the van), so I think she’s serious.” The nurse was suitably impressed. I was suitably leaking.

Baptism day! Heathen no more.

Baptism day! Heathen no more.

I got hooked up to an IV, a fetal heart monitor, and a clicker for contraction tracking. Ben and I both got bracelets. This was the real deal. We had a C-section booked for 8 a.m. on Friday September 13. It was Tuesday August 27. BAH.

He's a suit man. SO CUTE.

He’s a suit man. SO CUTE.

The on-call OB came in, because although it looked like our baby wanted to come out the all-natural way, he was breech, breech, breech and with my super awesome (read: CRAP) history of getting babies out of my belly, a C-section was by far the best answer. I was in the operating room, getting my spinal and chatting with a new round of nurses, holding my breath and praying that everything would be okay, that Ben would be there in time (he had zero reason not to…I’m just a professional worrier), that our babies would be okay, that if anything happened to me everyone would be okay, that my baby would be okay.

First food. Success?

First food. Success?

At 7:11 a.m. on August 27th you were born. Isaac Earl Kenneth Mills. Our son. A boy.

You can see why I was freaked out by the boy thing, right?

You can see why I was freaked out by the boy thing, right?

You weighed 6 pounds, 7.5 ounces. You were in an incubator on monitors because of your early arrival (just days shy of being considered term) and because you were in withdrawal from the antidepressants I had been taking since my bout with PPMD from Lillian (you were jittery, but okay). You were perfect. And I got a nice little break from life since you weren’t in my room and your crazy sisters with hanging out with Aunt Toni and Grammie. It was kind of heaven.

Such a stud

Such a stud

After a few short days, we both got to go home, to reality and crazy and ramping up to Sophie starting school. The first day didn’t go as I had planned (go figure). Instead of walking to Sophie to school as a family, with a giant pregnant belly, we drove to school because I couldn’t walk that far with a new C-section incision or just after giving birth. I stood, against my midwife’s instructions, for 45 minutes, watching your sister get used to her new classroom and all the parents and children marveling at how small and new you were. Exactly one week old.

The beginning of the end

The beginning of the end

Things have changed a lot since then. I broke again and Aunt Toni and therapists (or super heroes, as Sophie calls them) Colleen and Victoria put me back together. I was in love with you from the start, which was different than the earned love I had with your sisters. I learned a lot about penis care, which is VERY different from vagina care (HOLY SCHAMOLY, who knew morning wood began this early in life?!). And I learned to love a son, which really is no different than loving a daughter at this point, but I’m told it will change, will become something unique to the love I have for your sisters.

Our almost-one-year old boy, eating dirt and taking names

Our almost-one-year old boy, eating dirt and taking names

You will be one on Wednesday. It’s been a year since we met you, a year since your punkish ways disrupted any semblance of plan we had for the transition from summer to fall, from no school to school. A whole year. And we are so blessed that you are ours and that you’re here.

Happy, happy birthday, mister. We love you.

~ Love, Mama (a.k.a. Julia)

Dear Baby Stuehler

I met Ashley at work. At first we were co-workers, then friends. Now I like to think we are soul mates. At work we call her Smashley. She has become another sister to me. I bring her along on hikes, she is known by my nieces, sisters, and my  mom. She truly has become a soul mate of mine, and someone I look up to.  She has shown me how to be more confident in my own skin, she has been there with me through some pretty tough times and I am so honored that she is standing with me on my wedding day.

Ashley and her husband Marty are expecting their first bundle of joy – a baby girl. This week will be the last week of work for her before she goes on her maternity leave. This pregnancy has been anything but easy on Ashley – although she has been healthy, she has also been blessed with “morning” sickness, even though it lasts all day, heartburn, back and butt pain, hip pain…and caffeine withdrawal.

To send her off in true, loving, sisterhood fashion, I have decided to write a letter to the future love of her life – her baby girl. I hope one day she will read this, and know that even before she could love them – they loved her.

I love you Smash, and can’t wait to watch you become an amazing mother.

Every brunette need’s a blonde best friend ❤

 

Dear Baby Stuehler,

Welcome to the world!

I hope you realize that you are one of the luckiest babies as you are born into such a loving family. Your Grandparents, Uncles and Aunt all can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait for you to know how loved you are. 

Your mom has nurtured you since the beginning, and has has been anxiously awaiting your arrival. She is counting down the days until you arrive, preparing in every way. I wish you could see her face when she talks about you, all the worries for that moment melt away as she rubs her belly. I cannot say it enough – you are so loved.

Remember that as the years go on and you start to grow – your best interests are what she has in mind when she tells you that the shorts you are about to wear will not be worn out of the house, or that the makeup you have on is beyond too much.

When that first boy breaks your heart, it will be her shoulder you will cry on, as she promises you that the heartbreak won’t last. She will tell you how she met your Daddy, and she will tell you that one day the right one will come along.

She will be your shopping partner, your mentor and the wisest teacher you will ever come across. She will be your cheerleader and your coach. Your mom will be there for you when you call her late at night about anything – even if it is just to hear her voice.

Your Mother will teach you confidence, that I am sure of. She will teach you how to be a strong and compassionate woman, and to stand ever steadfast in who you are. She will teach you self love and self worth. She will teach you how to stand alone, and work as a partner.

Your mother is an amazing woman. She will love you even when you slam the door in her face and challenge her. She will love you when you sneak out or when you try to lie to her (just a suggestion…don’t…she knows everything!).

Baby Stuehler, the world you are being born into is not always kind, it can be quite scary, but that’s why you were given your Daddy. He is working so hard to make sure that you are provided for, and will always keep you safe.

You are his princess, his baby girl. When your dad talks about you, there is a twinkle in his eye. Everything he does is with you in mind. Your daddy will be your knight in shining armor. 

Your daddy will ward off boys who will try to steal your heart, he will be your confidante at times when you feel alone. He will battle you when you are a teenager, and side with your mother more times than he will with you (just let it happen, trust me it’s for the best).

Your daddy will teach you so many things you won’t know are useful at first, be careful to try and remember them all. One day these memories will be all you have.

Your daddy will be your first love, and your favorite dance partner whether in the kitchen or at your wedding. You will be always be his little girl. Your teenage years will be hard on your relationship, and you may break his heart. Don’t worry – he will still love you, and will always remember holding his little girl and kissing her bruises to make them better.

Baby girl, I can not wait to meet you. I can not wait to watch you grow up into a young lady. I can’t wait to listen to your mom brag of your accomplishments and look back with her on this moment when you were still in her belly giving her the worst heartburn. 

Your parents are two of the most amazing, compassionate, people I have ever known. They will do anything for their friends, and I can not wait to do the same for them. 

Welcome to the world Baby Stuehler. We have been waiting for you. 

 

Congratulations you two – I can’t meet your little one.

The expectant parents – Love you guys!

~ Jacqui

Expect the unexpected

I had a plan for this week’s blog post – a recap of the date night Ben and I had Friday, complete with pictures. And then, Sophie happened. She put our BlackBerry into a bucket of water. On the BlackBerry, all the pictures from our date night…bye, bye pictures…bye, bye blog post.

Prognosis? I hope it'll be okay.

BlackBerry hospital made of rice. Prognosis? I hope it’ll be okay.

Don’t worry. Sophie’s still alive.

I was more distressed by the fact that Lillian had pooped in our backyard. There are few things as disconcerting as watching your three-year old dropping something brown out of her bathing suit bottoms. I asked what she was doing and it didn’t get any better. She answered, “I put the poop on the ground.” Great. What poop? From where? Did you pick it up? Is it yours? GAH.

I should have known not to expect things to go as planned…the day hadn’t gone as planned. We were supposed to go to a family gathering at our Aunt and Uncle’s, but due to the fun weather forecast (rainy and cold) it was postponed until an August date. Because of that, Ben was able to go help a dear friend move and I got to spend all day with CRAZY, phone-ruining, lawn-pooping children.

Ben came home to me losing it with Sophie because she was berating me over dinner. She wanted hamburgers, I couldn’t find the ones she was talking about, it was getting late, I needed her to eat and she was mad that I was making her eat homemade beef stew over mashed potatoes instead of her beloved hamburgers (also homemade). Isaac had been sobbing at my feet while I finished making dinner and Lillian had been running around dragging blankets, balloons, and various plastic (read: SHARP) toys through the kitchen the whole time I was trying to accomplish food prep. I was done. Cooked.

Earlier in the afternoon, the southwestern sisters had made plans to go for dinner together in lieu of seeing each other at Aunt and Uncle’s house. I was SO excited. SO ready to get out of the house, eat dinner I didn’t make, dirty dishes I didn’t have to clean, and not be around tiny tyrants anymore.

I know...I know...I did this to myself. I KNOW.

I know…I know…I did this to myself. I KNOW.

And then…this happened…

SERIOUSLY?!

SERIOUSLY?!

I decided I should probably be responsible and NOT abandon my family just for some grown-up time. So I ate the delicious stew and mashed potatoes with my tiny army (and Ben! He came home! He came home!). It was yummy and I was resigned.

But then…the tornado warnings ended. So I called (because no texting for me! The BlackBerry is in RICE, remember?) Toni, and she, Jacqui and I went out for coffee and dessert. We sat on the covered patio of Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe (SO AMAZING), overlooking and overhanging the river, watching the lightening show and listening to the torrential rain (or as Toni called it, her very own WATERFALL!). Decaf coffee, cheesecake and apple fritters, and sister therapy. All in all, a not-too-shabby end to the day.

I know as a parent I’m supposed to be the queen of dealing with the unexpected, of rolling with the punches and putting up with the randomness that goes hand-in-hand with having babies, but some days, maybe even just one day, I would love for the expected to happen…for the plan to go smoothly…for that to be the surprise…not the waterlogged cell phone or the poop on the lawn. Just for one day.

*UPDATE – The BlackBerry LIVES!!! It’s ALIVE!!!! It’s a MIRACLE!!! 😉

~ Julia

Makes my brain bleed

I love television. Much like Jacqui, I love nothing more than to turn on something silly, something insanesomething yummy, something interesting, something crazy, something nostalgic, something intriguing and stop moving for a little while. Because my day is a little nutty. And sometimes, you just want to sit.

What they don’t tell you, is when you have children you lose control over the screens in your house. You lose the ability to watch whatever you want whenever you want. Apparently, there are certain things that are inappropriate for children to watch. WHO KNEW?

This of course means that you get to watch awesome children’s programming…and by awesome, I mean “awesome”.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are some absolute wonders, like the Pixar movies, or my childhood favourite that is still running today, Sesame Street, but there are others that MAKE MY BRAIN BLEED. No, seriously.

Here are some of my least favourites that my girls LOVE (so far Isaac doesn’t have an opinion…THANK GOODNESS):

Caillou

MAKE IT STOP.

MAKE IT STOP.

I don’t know which is worse – Caillou’s whiny voice, or his parents’ ridiculousness. Sure, Caillou is four and sure, he’s got a rough time of it with parents who never change their clothes and are creepily nice and sweet all the time, and sure, his sister Rosie can be a bit of a pain, but please. For the love of goodness. PLEASE. Stop whining. Just…stop. I seriously think a voice actor change would make all the difference in the world.

Mike the Knight

Save the people!

Save the people!

This show is nonsense. Not to say that other shows are grounded in solid reality (Oh, hi Octonauts, weird sea creatures that aren’t to scale!), but this show kind of takes the cake. There’s this royal family, with an absent dad (he’s on a crusade…you know, the super kid-friendly kind?), a neglectful mother (she’s NEVER paying attention to her kids…EVER), a boy-knight who terrorizes the town with his dragons and arrogance, and a sister-witch-in-training who is mega smart and deserves her own show. If it weren’t annoying, it would still drive me batty. Poor people of Glendragon.

Bratz

'Nuf said.

‘Nuf said.

If we can get past the ridiculous bodies and make up and name, it might not be such a bad idea to have a strong girl group hanging out together…except, they aren’t. They’re catty and vapid and rude and ignorant and…dumb. And the whole show is a big fight between themselves and another group of girls. It’s girl-on-girl crime, which is just awful. There’s enough female-competition in the world. We don’t need to teach it to our daughters at a young age. This show is actually not allowed in my house anymore. It’s pretty much the only one I really put my foot down about.

Max and Ruby

Mom? Dad?

Mom? Dad?

It’s easy to hate on this show. There is the nagging, Type-A older sister Ruby who won’t let her little brother have any fun. There is the weirdly one-word-at-a-time 3-year old Max, who just keeps repeating the same word over and over and over and over (get a sentence!). And there is the famous mystery: where the heck are their parents? Max and Ruby are a favourite for Lillian…but for me, I wish they’d go back to the bunny hole. Pronto.

And my absolute least favourite of ALL TIME:

Toopy and Binoo

*sob*

*sob*

Toopy is a dimwitted mouse who is full of himself. Binoo is a mute sidekick that is inevitably smarter than Toopy. Patchy-Patch is Binoo’s lovie. And that’s it. That’s the show. Then there’s annoying friends, like the wailing dragon princess whose cries sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the unending adulation Toopy has for himself, and Binoo’s lack of backbone (at this point, I’m grateful for lack of voice). But…

…the girls love them. LOVE them. I don’t know why. The songs are ridiculous. The premise is ridiculous. The education value is nil at best. The annoyance level is high. And yet…they love it.

So this weekend when we were invited to a birthday party where THE voice of Toopy and Binoo, Frank Meschkuleit, would perform a Toopy and Binoo puppet show LIVE…we knew the girls would explode with happiness. And we were right. Frank was awesome, the show was brilliant (he called out every child’s name and made jokes for the adults in the audience, including a fart joke about Ben…no, seriously…), and Sophie and Lillian LOVED it. Sophie thought it was hilarious and awesome and Lillian kept looking back at us to make sure we were seeing what she was seeing. I’m fairly sure her brain exploded a few times.

Lillian and Sophie getting their photo taken with Toopy and Binoo!

Lillian and Sophie getting their photo taken with Toopy and Binoo!

I’m just grateful that Isaac was more excited about the diaper bag strap than Toopy and Binoo. I can still get away with watching The Social while he’s cruising around the floor.

Just hanging out...oblivious to his fangirling sisters.

Just hanging out…oblivious to his fangirling sisters.

~ Julia

What no one told me about going back to work

So…

I landed a job. A great job. A job that I am really enjoying.

I started a few weeks ago and let me tell you, there are a few things that no one told me about going back to work after being off from traditional work and nannying for my sister.

1. It doesn’t get easier, you get better: Let me explain. I once wrote about being the new girl and I’d like to change my opinion on the matter – it’s not that it gets easier, it’s that I get better at it. Whether it be school, a group of friends,  Michael’s co-workers or a new company and team, it’s still a bit nerve wracking for me, I have just learned the ropes so I know how it goes and how I can add to or subtract from the outcome of each situation.

2. You don’t forget “how”: I truly had myself gripped in fear that I didn’t know if I would be as good as I had been after being off from work while Nannying for Julia. While I am confident in my experience and skill set, I was sure I was going to have to research or relearn certain things that I had not done routinely in several months. Thankfully, I was totally wrong and it was like riding a bicycle, only easier. I got into my comfort zone fairly quickly and in step with my kick-ass team that I am already loving.

Look ma, no hands!

Look ma, no hands!

3. The heartache: Missing the babies – my beautiful nieces and nephew – and how much I got to experience, witness and impact makes my heart ache. It aches so much that the first time we really got to see each other after I went back to work, I cried. Sorry – I bawled like a baby. I chalk it up to Lillian’s exclamation of “Auntie Tomi!” while running toward me, leaping into my arms and wrapping my neck into a huge hug that she just wouldn’t let go from – I was a goner. Even seeing that Isaac’s teeth had cut through tugged at my heart strings for missing the day they were discovered. Add into this the return to normalcy in how often I see my big sis, and it would be an understatement to say that I miss all of the time I was granted to be there with them.

Missed them so, so, so much!

4. How much I had really missed it: When I interviewed with the company I immediately had a good feeling about the fit of the role, the mission and purpose of the company, and my skill set being what they were looking for. This feeling only got stronger the further in the interview stage I got, and with each team member I met throughout the process. Now that I’m in my role, learning the ropes and putting together my first set of events, I can’t tell you how much I had missed being on a team, contributing to a common goal – one that I can truly get behind – and feeling of value within an organization.

I have my first big internal event coming up this week. I am nervous for it to go off without too many hiccups – there are always a few with every event that involves more than two people – but wish me luck that it plays out better than even I could hope for.

~ Toni

Jitters no more

This week is Sophie’s last week of her first year of school. It’s ‘only’ junior kindergarten, but it’s so momentous…especially because she’s our first baby. Our first baby went to her first school. And she not only survived, she THRIVED. Thank goodness.

At the beginning of the school year I had a bunch of worries for a bunch of reasons. 1. I’m a worrier. Period. The end. It’s something that has always been part of my psyche and something I’m working on stamping out…or at least, getting under control. 2. My first day of school was filled with tears. Horrible, awful, ugly-cry tears. My mom put me on the bus to go to kindergarten and I was bawling. The old, curmudgeonly bus driver rasped, “Leave her. She’ll be fine.” The bus doors closed, my mom disappeared and I ended up sitting in the wrong seat (there was a boy side and a girl side and it was organized by grade – I sat on the boy side in an older grade’s row) crying all the way to school. 3. I’m a worrier. So yeah.

On this last Monday of this school year, I thought I’d recount some of the worries I’d had at the beginning of the year…and they all turned out okay in the end.

I was due with Isaac three weeks after Sophie started school. There was a lot of worry around how I would do it all. How I would make Sophie feel special and loved and supported with a newborn in the house. How I would waddle around post-C-section and be Mom of the Year without losing my mind. How I would keep track of three kids AND a school schedule. How I would have a newborn without the dreamy, sleepy, slow days that newborns had kick started for our family in the past. My C-section was scheduled Friday September 13. Sophie started school the week before. It was tight. It was dicey. I felt like I could totally do it. HA. Isaac showed up four weeks early on his own IGNORING ALL SCHEDULES. So I had a giant, new incision on the first days of school. And a newborn. And Sophie felt loved and cared for. And our dear friends, Heather and Adam, folded Sophie into their morning routine with their children and walked her to school for us for 6 weeks. And it was okay.

Sophie and her BFF Elora

Sophie and her BFF Elora

Would her teacher be nice? It’s a TERRIFYING thing, sending your child into a building you’ve never been in, to do things you have no control over, with adults you’ve never met before, for large expanses of time over and over and over again. TERRIFYING. They don’t tell you this. I didn’t realize this. Sophie wasn’t terrified, but I was SO WORRIED and SCARED for her. What if her teacher was mean? What if her teacher was awful? What if they didn’t understand her? What if they didn’t let her go pee? What if they made her take off her crown? What if what if what if? There was a horrible, no-good, yelling teacher, Mrs. Miller, at my elementary school that my sisters had…and she was HORRENDOUS. What if Sophie got her Mrs. Miller? Nerves, nerves, nerves. But in truth, Sophie didn’t get that teacher. She got AMAZING teachers. Ones that loved her. Ones that she loved. Ones that called her Princess Sophie. Ones that were excited with her. Ones that put all fears about teachers aside. I’m not naive enough to think that she’ll never have a teacher that she doesn’t get along with, or one that isn’t the best, but this year, she had three teachers that were awesome. And to Mrs. Service, Ms. G, and Miss Bunghardt – THANK YOU. Thank you thank you thank you for making her love school. And for making it okay.

What do you mean we have to walk to school EVERY day? That’s nuts. That’s crazy. That’s not possible. Have you seen how short her legs are? Do you know how many children I have? Do you have any idea how hard it is to have any sort of schedule or organization with a newborn and a two-now-three-year old and a non-stop chatting junior kindergartener? Do you know what it’s like in the winter in our town? What happens when there’s so much snow on the ground we can barely walk? What happens when it’s so cold we’d normally not go outside if you paid us? What THEN?? I was ALWAYS a sheltered bus student growing up. The bus came to my driveway. The bus picked me up. The bus kept me safe. The bus dropped me off at school. The bus picked me up at school. The bus kept me safe. The bus dropped me off at my driveway. No walking. No unknown. No weather that I had to deal with directly. But you know? Walking to school every day wasn’t so bad. And when it got SO BAD, my amazing friends Adam and Heather and my incredibly generous sister Toni stepped in to help. And when it got SO MUCH BETTER walking to school every day was awesome – it was fresh air, it was outside, it was time for Lillian to run and Isaac to see the sun and me to get fresh air and for us to meet other walking families with kids our kids’ ages and…it was okay.

What if she gets bullied? It’s all you hear about. Kids getting bullied. Bullies running wild with no repercussions. Children not telling teachers. Teachers not responding. All of the horror stories of school becoming a torturous place. But after healing and walking to and from school with Sophie and meeting her friends (she made FRIENDS!!) and asking her about her day and listening to what problems she was having (“I don’t like it when no one listens to me.”), I calmed down. She wasn’t being bullied. And again, I’m not naive enough to think she’ll never meet a bully (I met my fair share) or get bullied, but this year wasn’t the year. It was okay.

She can’t write any letters. She doesn’t know how to read. She’s going to fail. Again, calm yourself, Julia. CHILL OUT. You know – they teach kids at school. And if, while a hundred years pregnant with a toddler AND a preschooler at home you didn’t get around to teaching your kid everything they’re going to learn at school, it will be okay. You know what else is okay? Getting to school late sometimes. And missing school because of a bad night’s sleep. Or dealing with head lice. Or dealing with croup. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s hard. But overall…it’ll be okay. Seriously. Calm. Down.

Saucy...and too smart for me

Saucy…and too smart for me

After dealing with all of these worries…I only have one left. How on earth am I going to be as exciting as school this summer? I don’t have a curriculum. She’s going to be SO BORED. !!!! 

Julia

Team Lillian – Updated!

*Update: Our Cambridge Times Rotary Classic Run in support of KidsAbility is coming up THIS Sunday, May 25th! If you would like to join our team – Team Lillian  – we would love your help in raising donations! If you would like to support our kickass team, please click the link here to donate online! Every little bit counts for this amazing organization that helps so many children and their families in our region!

To learn more about how KidsAbility has helped our Lillian, please enjoy the repost below!*

For those of you who know me personally, it will come as no surprise that I am head-over-heels, completely in love with my nieces and nephew and adore (pardon my French) the shit out of them.  Each one – yes, even our sweet little, bubble-blowing, Isaac – holds a special place in my heart for something that is unique to them. I love watching as they grow into their own little people, with their own distinct personalities, every day.

The babies

The babies

Lillian, or as we lovingly refer to her, Dilly, and I share a special bond.

It could be because she is also the 2nd oldest or middle child as I am, or it could be that her sense of humor/being a butt resonates with my inner toddler, it could be her sweet disposition (when she’s in the mood of course), or our ‘moments’ (which is when she runs up to me, says “Auntie Tomee, you found me!”, lays her tiny little head gently on my shoulder, and stays contently in my embrace for a few moments as I rock her back and forth) or it could be that she was born at a time in my life when I was struggling and holding her in my arms for the first time set my heart and mind straight with positivity in a way that no other being in my life had been able to. Whatever the reason, I feel incredibly blessed to have this little light in my life.

Dilly Toni

Dilly and I at the 2013 KidsAbility Fun Run

Shortly after her birth, we learned of Dilly’s hearing impairment caused by the genetic disorder Waardenburg Syndrome. Initially, human nature caused me to think of all of the challenges she may face – I worried about how children at school might treat her (kids can be SO mean!), or the people that would discount her abilities as she grew (because adults can be assholes), finished school, entered the working world, or even started dating (for the record, totally not my idea, Ben!).

However, as Dilly settled into her life at home, these worries quickly faded and soon seemed so silly. Between the familiarity/normalcy of the syndrome within our family, the wonderful healthcare providers at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital and the blessing of her cochlear implant and hearing aid, as she grew I knew she would be just fine.

Then we were introduced to KidsAbility.

Before Lillian, I had never heard of this AMAZING organization.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with KidsAbility, it is a local non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation services for children from birth to the age of 18, with developmental delays and disabilities, coordination disorders, physical disabilities, and communication difficulties. Specific to Lillian’s hearing impairment, KidsAbility works with her to ensure her speech is developing properly and on track. Not only does KidsAbility work with children to make sure they are developing to their own potential, but they also provide parents and caregivers the tools and understanding to help their children at home in their day-to-day routine that they might not otherwise have access to – and they do it all for FREE.

This past Friday I had the pleasure of tagging along to Dilly’s speech therapy appointment and I instantly understood why she gets so excited about these appointments. The environment and staff are welcoming, warm and kind. Between the giant play/waiting area, the staff and volunteers that are ready to strike up a conversation with the children and easily relate to them and the form of speech therapy which allows Lillian to showcase what she’s learning and where she needs help, it is evident KidsAbility’s focus is to help children realize their potential. 

KA Waiting Area

The KidsAbility play/waiting area

Throughout the appointment Lillian showed me just how much she gets out of these visits. While Julia is always sure to share with us how we can help Lillian and what new tools she is learning, seeing her interact with Heather was a great first-hand experience. They work through a variety of exercises which help Heather to determine where Lillian is excelling,where she needs a little more help and what next steps she should include for her to work on at home.

Heather working on sounds with Dilly at KidsAbility

Heather working on sounds with Dilly at KidsAbility

While KidsAbility has held a special place in my heart for some time now, after seeing first hand how much Lillian – as well as a few other children I was able to witness in therapy – receives from this unbelievable organization, I am even more determined to help this foundation in any way I can.

Last May, I was lucky enough to participate in the Cambridge Times Rotary Classic KidsAbility Fun Run, which is usually held on the last Sunday in May. Our kick-ass team – suitably named Team Lillian – was able to raise well over $2300 thanks to a ton of personal donations, as well as one large corporate donation from Kitchener-based LEDgendary Lighting (seriously cool Philips lighting and Color Kinetics products – check them out!).

2013's "Team Lillian"

2013’s “Team Lillian”

While gathering donations for this event, it made my heart happy to hear of the personal stories that people volunteered to share with me of how KidsAbility had helped their own children, nieces and nephews, or the children of friends. These stories reinforced the love I have for KidsAbility and instilled a desire in me to continue to participate in the KidsAbility Fun Run for as many years as I am able.

That being said, we are once again assembling a team for this year’s run! We will have our usual Facebook page, and link to our donation site up and running soon – if you would like to join our team, just let us know!

While the official site links and information have not been released (we will let you know when they are!), the sisters of Weather Vane Sisterhood are accepting donations as of today! We can arrange to meet with you in person to collect your donations, or you can email money transfer us your contribution to weathervanesisterhood@gmail.com.  

Remember: every little bit counts – to us, to you, to KidsAbility and most importantly, to the children. 

~ Toni

Signing up for the mess

There was a time about 4-5 years ago, before I had this ring on my left hand, when Cody and I were seriously considering having children. Before marriage, against the grain. We were already living with each other, bought our house and wanted to start “The Rest of Our Lives.” Marriage was the “Next Step,” but for some reason we wanted babies first. I longed to be a mother, and hearing that Cody was just as excited as I was to have babies meant more than a proposal; it meant together forever – a part of Cody.

Then reality hit us: we were young, we had one vehicle, we were in debt with the house, I was in debt from school. We didn’t want to be at home all the time when our friends were still very young. And most of all, we didn’t want to regret each other, we still had growing to do in our relationship – I mean we weren’t ready for marriage but we were more than ready for a baby? We were crazy!

I was not ready for late nights that were not late because I chose them to be.

I was not ready to ask Cody for a shower because I was too busy with the baby and couldn’t get one in until he got home.

I was not ready for poo on my face…

Sweetie you have shit on your face

Sweetie, you have shit on your face.

 

I was not ready.  Or was I scared…

I was scared. I was scared I would never be able to have a baby the conventional way, that I wouldn’t be able to feel a baby in my belly, that the medication I was on would never allow me to have these ups and downs of pregnancy. That even if I did get pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to carry it to term because of a seizure, that I would be on bed rest as soon as I peed on that stick.

So, I decided to focus on getting healthy, for me and for Cody and my family of the future, and I put that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the maternal need, on the back burner.

Then we were asked to write this post, and I dug those feelings back up. These are the same feelings that make me happy for all 6 of the women I work with, all of which are in my department that are expecting. The same feelings I have when I pick out baby outfits for one of my best friends.

I want to be a mother, I want the messy, tired, exhausted, blessed, loving life of a mother. The one where you ask your significant other to take the baby for 5 minuets while you hop in the shower. The one where you fall asleep with your baby in your arms. Where the days melt together.

I am healthy and I am ready…if you can ever be ready.

~ Jacqui