Tuesday, May 28, 2013

4-Month Musings

It's been a real mix of a day.

I've been enjoying this little one tremendously..

Wearing a 6-month-sized sleeper from Auntie Dagmar. Big baby? :)

Trying to mentally prepare myself for 17 hours of transit time with this little one

She talks so much these days. And she's so proud of herself, smiling big smiles as she blows bubbles, drool collecting on her chin and then spilling over. Always spilling over. Each diaper change is rewarded with incessant chatter and large, toothless smiles. Big sister has mastered the art of inducing smiles, and is constantly leaning in, using the squeakiest voice imaginable, "Did you poop in your diaper? Did you poop in your diaper? Oh yeeeeeesssss, you diiiiiiiiid. You pooooooooped, didn't you?"

Giggles are a finer art. We dance, we kiss, we tickle and laugh, we squeak and squeal... anything to capture the elusive giggle. It's a rare treasure. Much more common is the large, open-mouthed grin. We enjoy hundreds of those a day, never tiring.

We've been watching her grow and change. Rolling over, reaching for toys, finding endless fascination with her hands. And trying to sneak her thumb in while she's breastfeeding, sneaky little monkey. This sweet bundle is getting ready to steal the hearts of friends and family back in Canada.


But today was also a quiet day, as I remembered the awful tragedy of the Villaggio Fire. Words escape me each time I try to write about it, but my mind is full of images of that day. And tears still spill as I think of the 19 lives lost, particularly the 13 children. I cannot fathom the grief of their parents. I simply pray for peace for all of the families involved, and for resolution and justice. And for the courage and strength to keep placing one foot in front of the other with each new day.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Little Drive, a Little Perspective

Saturday. It was time to get moving and get lost. It had been too long, and my gypsy gene was getting restless. Newborn babies do after all have a way of disrupting the explorer in you. Particularly babies who scream the moment they're placed in a car seat. But it was time. The news had been getting under my skin... both here and back in Canada. Particularly on my mind was a newly-widowed mother of a beautiful two-year old girl. A woman who could have been any of us. The memory of the press conferences... her voice, her face, and her words ... still linger in my mind.

It was too hot to really be outside. No matter. It was far too windy to go to the beach. We didn't care. We just got in the truck and drove. And it worked. We found our sweet spot again. All four of us together. Good tunes blaring. Kaiya writing and doodling in a book on her lap. Jeff daydreaming. Me reading a travel guide on a future destination. And Izzy - God bless her - not crying.

Sweet thing. If she has my hand to grab and hold on to, she falls asleep.

First stop was Simaisma. We'd been wanting to check out the family beach for some time. And it was confirmed... too hot and too windy for the beach. Not a soul in sight. If the tide hadn't been out five miles, we would have considered stopping. Regardless, we decided we liked Simaisma. Quaint town, nothing over-the-top about it. A nice "Olympic" park, similar to Barzan Olympic park, as well as a park with lots of green space right across the street from the family beach.

Directions? Take the Shamal to the Simaisma cut off. Drive till you hit the water.

After driving past the beach, we found this crazy-bumpy road. So we drove down it.

And we found some sweet views. The water was so very green, and the fishing boats were begging to be photographed. While Jeff and Kaiya got out to explore, I hung back with Izzy, putting together our picnic meal.

It was so windy here that at one point Jeff's shirt almost blew up and over his head!

Next stop: Fuwayrit. We knew we were pushing the Izzy-limit here, since it was another 50 minutes out. But we were enjoying the drive so much that we decided to give it a go. And Izzy - God bless her - didn't cry.

Fuwayrit is definitely bikini-beach. After all the modesty of the family beaches we've been frequenting, I was kind of shocked by all the skin. Kaiya and I scooted out for a bit to feel the water and watch the kiteboarders. The wind was so strong, the sand was literally whipping against our skin, stinging.

We continued on to the rocky hills. If you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, you must explore this area. It's small, but it's fun, as you slowly inch your way along, carefully navigating the rocky terrain.

This is where we're going to go next time we want a beach day. At this point along the coast, there are all these semi-private pockets, where you can park and have your own spot of sand. It's a great area for camping too, as evidenced by all the campfire remains we found.

We stopped for a half hour or so. Enough for all of us to have a chance feeling the water on our toes.

Kaiya was fully enjoying the adventure.

Lots of nooks to explore

Enjoying sun, sand, surf... and WIND!

I'm much more of a homebody now than I've ever been. But ultimately, getting out and exploring is what keeps me sane. There's something soothing about us all together, hitting the road, singing along with our favourite songs, finding strength and joy again just being together.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My, How Far We've Come

Five years ago I celebrated my first mother's day as a mom. And while Jeff and I had been thrilled about the pregnancy, I was more than a little ambivalent when our first came along. For almost 10 years of marriage, it had been just the two of us, Jeff and I, enjoying our blessed freedom, diving into our teaching careers, renovating houses and travelling and living abroad. I clung tightly to this lifestyle and didn't feel particularly comfortable with the various voices of motherhood around me.

Here was Kaiya. A round, pudgy, happy, and contented baby. But I didn't get all the voices telling me to "enjoy and cherish every moment," the same voices that assumed I now felt whole, happy, and complete. Because quite frankly there were more than a few moments I was happy to skip over, and for most of that first year I felt awkward, unsure of myself, and very much alone.

I didn't know how I could still be me while taking care of she, a very needy blob, kind of lacking in the skills of meaningful conversation.

But then, something magical happened. She started doing things like this (guaranteed to make you smile):

And I started to understand. The hours/days/months of the mundane, of loneliness and thankless work were for this:

Dang, those flowers smell good!

and this:

and this:

and this:

And I started to find my own version of motherhood... one that could include all the many facets of both me and she. And as we found our new rhythms, now as a family, both Jeff and I started to understand and feel the joy in the ride.

Fast forward a few years and we come to this, our new reality:

Let me tell you, nothing kills the ambivalence I once felt more than a miscarriage and then two and a half years of silence. Silence and questions. Last May, when I found out we had finally conceived again, I was both terrified and ready. Ready to embrace every last bit of babyhood, knowing now what a truly precious gift it is. 

Mind you, it's a heck of a lot easier to embrace all the bits when the baby sleeps eleven hours every night. ;)

That's right, baby girl. You just keep sleeping!

I am thankful today. For my daughters. For my mother and my sister. For all my mom friends. The people who talk me and walk me through the less-than-savory parts of motherhood. And for me... for the mom I've grown into and the motherhood I've found. This is the sweet space between the happiness and the hardness.

Big sister knows how to make her smile more than the rest of us.

The many faces of Isabelle

Thursday, May 09, 2013

These Moments

It's been a week of crocodile tears. Big, fat crocodile tears combined with shoulder-heaving sobs. A week of second-guessing my mothering instincts, as I waver between, "you're not that sick, get to school," and "come here, scooch up on my lap, let me wipe those tears away."

My spitfire 5-year old has gotten a little off-track. Her usual stubborn confidence has faltered as she hugs me, follows my every move around the house, and clings to my leg. And I'm guessing it's more than the chest cold that's bothering her.

This was our scene yesterday afternoon:

Lying around in Isabelle's sunlit room, piles of pillows and blankets and stuffies covering the thickly woven rug. Kaiya had pulled them all in, saying it was like "our own apartment." And instead of loudly demanding my attention as I tended to Izzy, she quietly set up the room, lingering.

"What's missing mom?"
"I don't know, I think we have all we need."
"I know... some glasses of water."

"What's missing mom?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"How about some books?"

"What's missing mom?"
"I don't think anything's missing."
"Some marshmallows. Wouldn't it be nice to have a campfire?"
(I drew the line.)

And we sat, while I rocked Isabelle to sleep, Kaiya quietly playing with blocks, using her whispering voice. Then we lay, side by side, reading stories together as Isabelle slept in her crib. And I silently reassured her, over and over again, one hundred times or more... It's okay. You're mine. I love her, but I love you just as much. I'm so happy to have her, but I'm just as thrilled to have you. And the angst in her slowly calmed as she relaxed into our unusually quiet day, full of hugs and kisses and these silent affirmations of love.

She got to school this morning, still a little unsure of herself. I usually enjoy the quiet of the house, the reprieve from her never-ending demands and energy. But today, I miss her. She's still a little sick, but I'm hoping her heart's feeling a bit more full.

Some days, you've got to just spend the day making playdoh faces

And taking lots of pictures of the playdoh faces...