Last week Tuesday, after my Dad had 'woken up' from his near-dying moments the previous weekend, I was in his room talking to him.
He wasn't able to speak, but he could look at me and raise his eyebrows, as though understanding. I told him that he was going to have another Granddaughter, and I even told him what we were probably going to name her. He raised his eyebrows, as if he understood what I was saying. I told him not to tell Mom. :)
Since I was his only child, and my husband has decided we must stop at two, all of my Dad's descendants seem destined to be female. I don't think he would have minded too much.
Okay, so despite all the craziness caused by my Dad's situation, we still had exciting news to share over the weekend. It didn't turn out quite as well as we'd planned, but now that may Dad is back to 'normal', I'll try to pretend things with us are too.
You probably read the first part of this story, here where we had these cupcakes ordered with either pink or blue inside. I didn't really think when I picked the cupcakes, but I liked the look of the orange one, Brian is a big fan of their Banana Monkey cupcake, or whatever it's called... the yellow one... and the pink fluffy one with a cherry on top just looked like the one Clara would probably pick if she were choosing.
I let her choose between the three, even still.
Obviously she picked the fluffy pink one! I just want to comment here that the huge mound of pink icing on TOP of the cupcake has absolutely no bearing on what is INSIDE the cupcake, since we chose the cupcakes separately. I probably should have ordered some non pink or blue cupcakes just for clarity, but it is what it is.
I love the look on her face here, and she somehow looks really grown up too. Mesmerized by cupcake... mmmm....
I started to unwrap her cupcake for her, but thought I started seeing a bit of icing poking through the side of the cupcake - just wanna say here it looked a little bit blue - and I got nervous and realized I wanted Clara to give away the surprise, so I put the cupcake back on her plate, half-way unwrapped.
She started poking at it. Messing with the icing a little bit.
Then she realized her fingers were all goopy, so she needed to wipe her hands off. She's really kind of prissy, I have no idea where that comes from...
After poking around for a few minutes - Mommy was starting to go completely insane with anticipation - we asked her if she would rather have a fork to eat the cupcake with.
After that she really tied into it!
Soon she had the entire bottom of the cupcake ripped completely off. And the secret was revealed!
I was surprised that it wasn't actually icing inside, but a different colour of cake batter. I'm amazed at how they were able to do this without any colour leaking through the side of the chocolate batter.
So, there it is, people! Our next baby is a...
I promise I will get back to the 'is this baby a boy or a girl' thing, but I must seque momentarily as our weekend was a little bit... well...
On Saturday, Brian played the piano in his uncle's wedding which was about half an hour out of town. It was a great day, but the wedding was short, and by 6:30pm everyone was packing up to go home. In the area I live in, 'Mennonite' weddings don't have dances, so we all just ate and were going to leave.
Brian handed me my cell phone at 6:30, saying that my Mom had been trying to reach me and had left a message saying to call her back immediately.
I called. She was in tears. She told me that my Dad had taken another 'turn' for the worse, and the nurse had said he wouldn't expect him to survive the night as he was. I cried, and told her I loved her and that I'd be there as soon as I could.
Brian and I left Clara with his parents and drove as fast as we could - reasonably - back to the city.
On our way, I learned that my Dad's 'little' sister from another province was hopping a flight and would also be with us in a few hours.
A couple of years ago, I was at the deathbed of my husband's Grandpa after the family had been called around him. My Dad looked exactly the same as he had then. My Dad was completely motionless, except for the machine-like breathing that came at jerky but regular intervals. He was not moving at all. He didn't open his eyes, and he was making no noises except for the sound of his breath, which also sounded mechanical.
There were a number of reasons the nurses said he could not survive long and from that moment we posted vigil at his bedside. Waiting.
My aunt showed up at almost midnight and my Dad's other brother came then as well.
He survived that night.
The next day was Father's Day. We had initially planned to be at the home with my Dad and were going to have a meal together - even though he isn't able to actually 'eat', we try to surround him as much as possible for the company and entertainment. It wasn't the 'happy' Father's Day we would have liked it to be.
In between getting our food, my Mom and I stayed beside Dad as much as possible. I was alone in the room with Brian when my other uncle came in. Now, I understand that everyone is feeling emotional and that everyone deals with this sort of stress differently, but I don't believe this fact excuses all behaviour. My Uncle informed me that the choices made regarding my Dad's care were wrong and that he would be better off if different choices were made for him. I politely said I disagreed, but that it didn't really matter. He went on to essentially blame me and my Mom for my Dad's current state, saying that he hoped 'someone felt guilty' because not enough was done in the beginning to help my Dad.
My Dad believed from the beginning that the doctor's were doing everything they knew how. He remained convinced of this, and so have we. I don't believe we could honour his wishes any more than to respect the way he would have handled things. Ultimately, though - it doesn't matter. Whatever has been done has been done.
I told my uncle that his anger did nothing but hurt himself, and me - and I pointedly told him that I didn't really think I needed that while waiting for my Dad to die - and everyone else in the family. I know that my uncle doesn't want to hurt me. I don't think he actually wants to hurt anyone, but he has been feeding everyone in our family with hurtful thoughts and emotions, and I am so beyond sick of it. We both managed to stay relatively calm, and after a few minutes of silence my uncle started to reminisce about when my Dad was a child. This was a good thing. This is a good way to think.
That evening my Dad started responding slightly. If anyone spoke loudly while standing close to him, his eyes would open for a split second, like he had been startled.
The next day he woke up.
He opened his eyes and looked around. He wanted to be put into his chair again. He moved his body at least as much as he had been able to move it a couple of weeks ago. Again, he did exactly what the doctor's didn't expect him to do. Because that seems to be what he does.
I have no idea what to think of all this, except that the next time I'm told my Dad is dying I will probably be even more skeptical than I was this time. (Because, honestly, by the end of the first night I started thinking this wasn't 'it' after all...). I really want this to all be over for him, but so far he's not letting go... yet.
It's official! We can throw out half of the baby names we have picked.
But I'm not going to give it away that easily, I want to tell the story first.
We had our ultrasound on Tuesday, and instead of asking the ultrasound tech to tell us what the baby was, we gave him a nice little note card (cute enough to keep!) and asked him to write it down and put it in the envelope without telling us what it was.
I, of course, was watching the ultrasound like a hawk trying to figure out what the baby was on my own. My husband can verify that I did guess correctly, but I'm aware that I may have been looking at entirely the wrong thing and it may have been just that - a guess.
Anyway, the ultrasound tech didn't give anything away including the moment at which he made his discovery so we really had nothing to go by.
Then, we took our little card and brought it to a cupcake shop downtown and asked them to look at the card and make us three cupcakes filled with either pink or blue (as appropriate, obviously). Because their baking was completed for the day, we weren't able to get the cupcakes immediately and had to wait until the next day to find out!
It occurred to me after dropping off the card that two people - the ultrasound tech and the girl at the cupcake shop - now knew what my baby was. And I DIDN'T!!! The most difficult part was that we held on to the card - because we wanted to keep it - and I had it in my possession for an entire day. And I wasn't supposed to peek! Hardest day ever!
Anyway, I had to wait an entire day, so you can too!
Any guesses? What is this baby? A boy or a girl?
We have had precious few days of warmth and sun up here in the Arctic Circle. We're really not even close to the Arctic Circle, but sometimes it sure seems like it would be nice to live much, MUCH further south!
However, the other day, Clara and I had a wonderful day in the backyard... let me show you!
We have a lot of pictures of her peering into this bucket.
"It's a BUCKET!!!"
Ice Cream Sandwich Face. I discovered that they make miniature ice cream sandwiches - I think they're supposed to be for dietary 'Only 100 Calorie!' type purposes, but I'm pretty sure they're just the regular ice cream sandwiches - just toddler sized!
And she LOVES them! She gets almost to the end before it starts to melt.
She spent almost the entire day diaper-free. I think she only peed once outside of her diaper or a potty that day - and I think it was within a few feet of the potty, so that counts, right?
She's been really interested in using the potty lately. She'll come up to us and say 'I Pee? I pee!' So I'll ask if she has to go pee and she'll say 'Yeah!'. Half the time when she gets to the potty she decides it's just a fun game and doesn't actually want to go through with the diaper removal, but every once in awhile she actually sits bare-bummed on the potty and pees. She's been using the potty exclusively to poop since she was about 8 months old, so she's definitely comfortable on it.
I do not consider myself a 'natural' parent. I don't trust my instincts, although when I have heard all of the angles, I do trust my own common sense. That being said, I am always ready and willing to hear another Mom's perspective on how they do things, and I am also willing to admit that I may not be doing things very well myself.
A couple of weeks ago, we had friends over for supper and I was trying to get a few dishes done before we started dessert. The Moms were in the kitchen chatting and I can't remember where the Dads were - we were being very 'Mennonite'* in our interaction, I guess.
While I was trying to get this done, my daughter started throwing a bit of a tantrum and I recall voicing my frustration at how sometimes I'm at a loss as to how to deal with her. She throws tantrums when she NEEDS nothing! My friend very kindly said 'Have you ever thought of getting her to help?'.
I said 'Do the dishes?'
My friend said 'Yes'.
I said 'She's not even 18 months old...'
At this point, my friend suggested I pull a chair up to the sink and just let her play in the rinse water.
My daughter was ecstatic. She had the time of her life splashing in the rinse water and 'helping'. It was great.
So it started a journey for me of discovering how to get Clara involved as much as possible. I've discovered that she is not only fascinated by the prospect of helping out, she's also not too bad at it - for an 18 month old, anyway :)
Here's my proud little fuzz-head helping me with dishes. The easiest thing to get her to do is to put cutlery away. She mostly just piles it into the drawer all helter-skelter, but it thrills her to do it.
Please don't look at how gross my kitchen is...
The title is a bit of a mislead, I'm sure I have many things in common with my mother, but the thing is - I would have no idea.
She left me with my Dad when I was a few months old, and although I hold absolutely no hard feelings, I have always been afraid of my ability to be a 'Mom' because of this influence. Was it just a poor choice due to a bad life situation, or was it in her blood to leave me behind? Would I have inherited the need to abandon my children as well.
When I was old enough to understand the concept of a 'mom', I have dreamed of what it would be like to have one. I have watched Moms with their children, hugging and snuggling and looking at them with that mysteriously loving look on their face, and wondered what that would be like. Unfortunately there are no 'backsies' on a thing like that, and I will never know what it is like to have a mother/mom - a woman who's genetic seeds you carry, and who loves you absolutely to death despite and because of it.
As early as I can remember, I have realized that the only mother/daughter relationship I will ever experience is if I have a daughter of my own. I think my desperate need for a daughter may have come from my need to 'make it up to' myself somehow, and when Clara was born I knew in that instant that I had all I had ever wanted.
When the doctors handed me to my mother in the hospital to breastfeed, she immediately shoved me back to the doctor, saying "I can't do this". I obviously don't remember, but I assume that she chose to distance herself from me from the beginning. She was never my 'Mom'.
When my daughter was handed to me at the hospital, I took her lovingly and held her almost constantly all of that day except for a few hours of napping. That night, however, my daughter started what would be her 3-month-long evening plague of colic. We were exhausted, and the nurses offered to take her for a couple of hours so we could get a bit of sleep. We gratefully accepted the offer, and I remember waking up panicking. Had I become my mother? Had I abandoned my daughter?
No, I just needed some sleep. I will need sleep occasionally in order to be a good parent. I wish I didn't, but I do.
What I won't need is a life-time off.
When my daughter was four months old, it occurred to me that I had been with her longer than my mother had ever been with me. I relaxed a bit then, and although I recognize that I am not always as sacrificially giving to my daughter as some of my amazingly-mothering friends seem to be, I am here and I always will be here.
I'm not a perfect Mom, but I AM a Mom - and a Mother - which is a combination my mother couldn't attain.
I have so many mixed emotions and thoughts right now - I just got back from my first full day of 'real' work :)
Not that teaching piano isn't 'real' - it makes better money than any 'real' job I've ever had, but it's easier in a lot of ways. When I teach piano, my daughter stays at home with me. I usually find a babysitter to watch her while I'm teaching, but it can be anyone approximately 9 years old and older who enjoys playing with a baby basically unsupervised. And I'm always here in case of an emergency, or in case Clara just wants to come cuddle with me!
This morning, my husband and I dropped my daughter off at a friends' house (thank God I have incredible friends willing and ready to babysit, and I don't have to find a daycare and leave her with people I don't know!) and left her there for her first FULL DAY of 'day care'.
Then, I went to work! In a location that isn't my living room!
My new job - just for the summer, so I will be back to teaching piano in fall - is working as an administrative assistant in a church that happens to be located only a few blocks from my home. My first day of 'training' was pretty much un-daunting, and after asking my boss if there was a piano I could make use of during my extra long lunch breaks, he said I was welcome to any of them - even the GRAND PIANO IN THE SANCTUARY!!! I just about cried and hugged him right there.
I'm excited about a few things: biking or walking to work - at least a little bit of forced exercise daily, getting out of my house which seriously doesn't happen often enough for me, and feeling a little bit more 'professional' is an attractive concept also - it also helps that I have an excuse to buy nicer clothes! :)
I'm also sad about a lot of things, though. I was so looking forward to spending my summer days hanging out in the yard with my little girl - who is old enough to play in the sand and the pool - and now I will miss many of those days. I will mostly no longer be a SAHM, which is a title I really was proud of... It will also be a bit more difficult now to motivate myself to cook and clean after a day of work - hopefully the house won't get as messy if we're not in it?
That's probably wishful thinking...
The last week in May has often been an insanely busy one for me. I teach piano until the end of May, and usually finish off with a recital the following weekend - which happens to be this upcoming weekend this year.
To make this week even more insane for me is the fact that I have a summer job this year - a 9-5, four days a week - and it begins this Friday (June 1st). Today I sent my last student home at 5:30pm and began the task of frantically getting ready for both going to work tomorrow - and my daughter's first 'official' day of 'daycare' - as well as for my recital on Saturday which typically involves a lot of baking!
My plan was to make biscotti, since there will be coffee, and I need quite a bit of time to let that bake and dry, so I had to make it tonight... I think.
Anyway, my husband ended up being late coming home from work, and got stuck in traffic in the meantime which meant I got to entertain Clara WHILE I was teaching piano (like I always seem to do on Thursdays, but that's another issue...), and then after I had fed her supper she seemed to be saying it was bedtime. Immediately. I gave her a bath to hold the whole process off, but she soon decided she was tired of that also and when I went to change her diaper, she had a major meltdown which basically meant there was no more time for Clara to be awake - she must be put to bed - NOW! So, I got her quickly ready for bed and Brian got home just in time for bedtime prayer.
We ate supper - which he had brought home for me from A&W - and then his Mom called to say that his Grandpa had dropped off a 1/5 of a cow for us, and we needed to come and pick it up NOW! This is an entirely different issue, because I never did agree to taking a lump-sum of beef, and I certainly never agreed to being able to PAY for a year's worth of meat, but like I said... that's a different issue...
Anyway, Brian had to leave again to get the meat (which wasn't even in our city, I should add, it was in a neighboring city) and I was left alone to make my biscotti. Luckily Clara was in bed...
Then she woke up.
Since she had skipped most of her bedtime, I theorized that she had misinterpreted going to bed earlier as just a nap and now she was confused and wanted to have a proper evening. So, after trying a few different things (none of which got my biscotti any closer to being baked), I got her back out of bed and started her bedtime process all over again, this time giving her milk.
She sat in the kitchen with me while I mixed the dough - I even let her help a little. Then I thought I'd let her play for awhile and hopefully Brian would be back soon and could put her back to bed himself. She had hardly seen her Daddy all day, after all...
As I was mixing dough, I hear Clara's sweet little voice in the background saying 'uh oh' as I hear something fall from the kitchen table and hit the floor.
Three of them.
I decided against waiting for Brian to get home and put Clara to bed anyway - she wasn't too thrilled about this, but it was better than letting her play in raw egg goo.
So, while I should have been continuing my baking escapade, I was mopping the kitchen floor.
Then, while I waited for the floor to dry, I texted my Mom a long string of cranky venting texts - I did feel much better afterward.
Now, it's 9:45, and I'm waiting for my second batch of biscotti to bake (the first round), and I still need to pack Clara's bag for tomorrow, shower, and get myself ready to go to work tomorrow - which I haven't done in almost 2 years!
Did I mention I've been fighting a cold or something this week? Not helpful...
Anyway, it was one of 'those' days...
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