Go The F*** To Sleep, The Reboot

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People love to ask you how your baby sleeps, and I have occasionally told people that Fritter sleeps “great!” only then to clarify to say that she still wakes several times a night.

You see, our bar is set LOW.

Until he was nearly two, Owl was waking multiple times in the night, usually every hour and a half.HELP, SHE'S STARVING MEEEEEEEEEEE!

 

Meanwhile, Fritter from day one would sleep in two to three hour stretches. There were some caveats – she couldn’t be put down, for example. I tried. Oh, how I tried. But if you put her down, she would wake up, until about 11 pm in the evening.

Those first couple of months I spent my evenings watching The Mindy Project with her nursing and fussing, and about an hour after she fell asleep I would transfer her to the Moses basket and she would sleep for another couple of hours.

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Compared to Owl, that felt like a MIRACLE.

Once my anxiety about SIDS was relieved enough that I could leave her alone to sleep (around 5 months), I started nursing her down on my bed and then just sneaking away. By adding our trusty old Sleepy Suit to the mix, I was actually able to pick her up off of the bed and transfer her to the Pack N Play next to our bed (the successor to the Moses basket).

And so, I have been pretty okay with her sleep overall. She would go down to sleep at around 8 pm, sleep until midnight, until 3, until 5 or 6, and then until 7 or 8.

I could HANDLE that.

Plus, she has two solid naps a day, one in the morning at around 9:30 am that often runs until 11 or 12, and another around 4 pm that goes until 5 or 6.


Golden.

But lately, that has been falling apart.

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The Time Draws Nigh (In Which I Agonize About Going Back To Work And Am Both Successful And In Deep Trouble Simultaneously)

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How has it been nearly a year since Fritter was born? Where did the time go?

  
I have spent the last month or two slowly gearing back up to work mode, because in a month I am going to have to go back into the world of unmet expectations and absolutely no down time which is the life of the working mother.

I don’t wanna.

I don’t want my cuddly baby to get bigger.

I don’t want to leave her at daycare because she has some stranger issues (which I will discuss at some point).

I don’t want the stress of having to meet people’s expectations, avoid judgement, etc.

I don’t want to lose the hour and a half of down time I get every day during Fritter’s morning nap while Owl is at school.

I don’t want any of it. I LIKE maternity leave.

 
But, since it isn’t a choice, what I really want is to get my dog training business going, and going HARD. Because training dogs pays between 40 and 70 dollars an hour and working at the vet clinic… doesn’t. Also because it’s one of my life dreams, along with being an author.

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Be It Ever So Humble

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I had a new experience this year, while “home” for Christmas in Nova Scotia.

…I missed home.

West Coast home.

…Things have changed.

While I spent my early childhood in Ontario and the Caribbean before settling in Nova Scotia, the Maritimes were always “home” to me.

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I loved my home town and my university fiercely, and I have made many, many, many posts about how much I miss it, and how much I love the close-knit culture of the East Coast. Perfect Husband, who grew up on the South Shore, feels the same.

It used to be that whenever we traveled back to Nova Scotia, we would be hyper-vigilant to change: That store moved to a different location! That other store is gone! Someone repainted that house! They put in a STOP SIGN!

Things change all the time, slowly, but when you’re only home once every year or two you see them all at once, and it feels like you have entered some sort of strange parallel universe where everything looks slightly wrong.

Perfect Husband especially would get indignant about changes made to his neighbourhood back home (which is the sort of neighbourhood where people look out the windows and wonder “who is that?” when they see an unfamiliar car).  It hurt him to see developers come in and destroy his old stomping grounds and built large vacation homes on top. It hurt more when one of the wealthy retirees who moved into those houses called the home where he and his four siblings grew up a “quaint little cottage”.

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That was his home, and it has been largely plowed over and rebuilt, and he resents it.

But we have come to accept over the years that Nova Scotia is not our personal museum, and now it has gotten to the point where I am surprised by what hasn’t changed after all this time: The local convenience store is still there, with the same sign. My favourite Pita Place, still going strong. The neighbourhood houses which seem to have used the exact same Christmas lights for the past twenty years.

The changes no longer faze me. I have accepted that life goes on. I’m just delighted by what stays the same.

Nova Scotia has also emptied itself. Most of my friends have evacuated in search of jobs that suit their education level. Of the remaining old friends and relatives, I only saw a couple. Traveling was challenging for us with two kids in tow, and they didn’t have the time or inclination to travel to see us. They were all busy with their own lives and kids during the holidays and I am just not relevant to those lives any longer.

It isn’t their fault, it’s mine – I’m the one who left. Besides, with Facebook I can still chat with them and see pictures of them and their families, so maybe the need to see each other in person is less urgent because of that.

Really, I was touched by the couple of people who did take time out of their day to meet up with me when I was passing through their region. The holidays are a busy time, and the weather was not always great. So it meant a lot to me when they did.

Nova Scotia just… doesn’t belong to me any more, and it doesn’t miss me or need me. I felt strangely superfluous on this visit, except among immediate family.

Meanwhile, BC has been growing on me slowly for a long time. It took me years to start putting down real roots, and up to a few years ago I desperately missed Nova Scotia and wanted to go home.

But I finally built a strong support network of friends. Besides, the mountains and the cherry blossoms get to you over time, and I have started to take pride in the beauty.

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I loved the look on my Mother In Law’s face on her first week staying with us last year, when she saw crocuses coming up. Just small trips around town had her amazed.

“I went to the grocery store and they had FLOWERS on display outside!”

“…isn’t that normal?”

“Carol, it’s JANUARY!”

“Wait until you see the fruit and vegetable market. It doesn’t have walls.”

And when my parents came out, they kept taking pictures of daffodils while their friends back home sent them photos of snow piles up past their shoulders.

It made me proud, because BC is starting to feel like it is mine.

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I love the early spring, and the long, dry, but not-too-hot summers. I love the snow on the mountains, and the mix of skin colours, languages, cultures and cuisines all around us.

So, while I cherished every day of our time with the family, and I ate a lot of pitas, it also felt really good to come home. I missed our bed, our bathroom, and even our cluttered, toy-laden living room and minuscule kitchen.

It’s not perfect, but it’s ours.

And I kept getting texts from my friends here, asking when they could see me, now that I was finally back… back home.

The Cancer Principle: Depression is Okay, Abuse Is Not

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I joined a support group online for people with depressed or bipolar spouses. I expected to find other people who know what it is like to sit downstairs alone in the evenings imagining life after their husband’s suicide.

What I didn’t expect was to end up becoming a relationship counsellor.800px-Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_002.jpg

Some people are angry and impatient with their spouse’s depressive symptoms. They use words like “lazy” and “can’t be bothered” and “selfish”. I have to remind them that depression is a disease and should be treated as such. They shouldn’t go around getting angry at someone for being sick.

There’s a difference between “won’t” and “can’t”. People with depression often CAN’T get out of bed, CAN’T interact positively and CAN’T pull it together for important family events.

Others are putting up with horrific levels of verbal and emotional and occasionally physical abuse, and blaming it on the depression/mania/addiction. They talk about how their husband tried to choke them and threatened to kill them and say “I had to call the cops. I felt so guilty, I really hate this illness. I know he won’t understand why I did it, either. He’ll think I am against him.”

I have to remind them that depression or bipolar disorder is not a get-out-of-abuse-free card that gives someone carte blanche to emotionally damage their loved ones, particularly their children. You shouldn’t stay with someone who abuses you or puts your children at risk physically or emotionally just because the person is ill, especially when that person keeps insisting that this is all somehow your fault.

But how, people are always asking, do you know what is okay and what is not? Why is okay for my wife to sleep through our daughter’s birthday party, but it isn’t okay for her husband to swear in front of the kids?

So I have developed a litmus test to tell what should, and what should not, be tolerated from a spouse.

The Cancer Principle

Since depression is a deadly disease which causes a wide range of known physical symptoms, I find that cancer makes a good analog because it is a deadly disease without the stigma that comes with mental illnesses. Depression is one of the leading causes of death in the world. Like cancer, some cases are worse than others, and some kinds are more curable than others.

Really, though, you could use any illness that is serious enough to put someone in the hospital. The point is to consider it from the point of view of “my spouse has a serious disease” and not “my spouse is abnormal”.

So, when your depressed husband or wife does something that makes you angry (and they will – it’s hard NOT to be angry when they suddenly sleep through an important event, or leave you scrambling for child care at the last minute, or snap at you for no good reason), ask yourself this:

Would this be considered acceptable if they had cancer?

For example – I go out for a walk with Owl and Perfect Husband is perfectly fine, watching football. I come back and discover that he has crashed in the hour that we have been gone. He is now in the throes of a suicidal misery. He snaps at me twice, then removes himself to the bedroom because he realises that he is growling like an injured bear.

Would this be considered acceptable if he had cancer?

I conclude that the answer is yes – if he had cancer and he suddenly started to feel sick or his pain medications wore off and he became very painful, it is understandable that he would become snappy and then retreat to the bedroom to be alone.

On the other hand, if he had gone onto a verbally abusive tirade calling me a “selfish whore” and threatened to hit Owl, that would NOT have been okay, no matter how much pain he was in.

For example – Perfect Husband agrees to watch the baby while I go to train a puppy. When the day arrives, he has been unconscious for two days and is clearly going to sleep through today as well. I have to cancel the appointment and reschedule it with apologies.

Would this be considered acceptable if he had cancer?

Yes! He was feeling better and thought he could handle it, but then he had a relapse and had to take medications which made him very sleepy and unable to take care of his child. If that was due to cancer, that would be totally understandable.

So I was not angry with him.

On the other hand, if he had agreed to watch the baby and then went out partying with friends and didn’t come back until 5 am, only to fall on the bed dead-drunk, that would not have been okay whether or not he had cancer, so I would have had the right to be angry with him about it.

For example- I watch Breaking Bad. Walter White’s wife discovers that her husband is manufacturing and selling meth, and his contacts with the drug underworld is putting himself and her family in serious danger. He has cancer. Does that make his behaviour okay?

No!

The Cancer Principle. It works every time.

Once someone argued with me, saying “I think there’s a caveat – if they aren’t seeking treatment. My husband sleeps all day and snaps at all of us and he won’t get help and that’s not okay.”

Okay, so then you ask yourself, if he had cancer, and it was making him sick and miserable and yet he refused to seek treatment for his cancer (not even palliative/symptomatic treatment), would that be okay?

No!

The Cancer Principle, man. It WORKS.

Quality Over Quantity

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With the progression of my father’s Alzheimer’s, his physical condition has become increasingly frail.

The man who never ailed a thing throughout my entire childhood now gets recurrent bladder infections and pneumonia. He moves at a slow shuffle, and falls easily. His cheerful tenor voice has disappeared and he can’t speak above a hoarse whisper.

  
We went for dinner at a neighbour’s house. Her son was home for the holidays, and he hadn’t seen Dad in years. Dad taught him how to drive and he has always liked my father very much. He spent half an hour carefully shovelling new snow off of the front porch and driveway so that it would be easier to get Dad to the car, but Dad still slipped and fell into the snow, causing a big kerfuffle.

“It’s embarrassing,” Dad told me later when I asked how he was feeling. “I feel like a sissy.”

Once upon a time Dad would have been the one shoveling the driveway, and clearing off the car. But now he falls in the snow and is hustled, shivering, into the car by the boy he once taught to drive, who is now a thirty year old man.

For the most part, he bears it without complaint. Alzheimer’s robs its victims of their faculties and dignity, but my father had so much dignity to begin with that somehow he still has plenty left, and my mother does everything she can to keep him feeling well and able to live at home.

He chokes on his food a lot, and they think that this is the cause of at least one of his bouts of pneumonia, because he inhales stuff. So they told my mother that he shouldn’t be allowed to drink thin liquids any more, or eat food that is easy to accidentally inhale. Instead of water, he should have smoothies, and so on.

They gave her a list of all of the risky categories of food. That list is two pages long and seems to encompass every single kind of food there is.

  
So, my poor mother now has the burden of finding foods that do not stick together, but also don’t NOT stick together (??) and so on. She also has to thicken his all of his drinks. They gave her a pamphlet on that, too, with suggestions like adding pureed banana, tasteless “drink thickener”, or even baby pablum.

For example, to thicken soda pop (I swear I’m telling the truth), they advise whisking the pop thoroughly and then blending in pablum until it is nice and thick.

  
Mmm. Tasty.

So Dad drinks a lot of smoothies now, since banana is a good thickener, and occasionally Mum lets him have some egg nog. He eats whatever she gives him to eat or drink without complaint, but I am sure he misses drinking water and milk like a normal person.

One night my mother poured me a glass of rosée, and my father came shuffling over. He pointed to the bottle and said in his new, husky, quiet voice, “don’t you think I should keep her company?”

“What’s that, dear?” my mother said distractedly, working on dinner.

He gestured at me. “It seems cruel to make her drink alone.”

“Oh, you want a glass of wine?”

“Just to be polite, you know,” he replied with a hint of a sparkle in his eye.

“Well, you’re not supposed to have that… I can get you some more thickened egg nog if you like…”

“Aren’t we going for quality of life over quantity at this point?” I said, exchanging amused glances with Dad.

“Yeah,” said Dad hopefully.

So Mum poured him a glass of wine. With no bananas in it at all.

Sometimes, it’s the little things in life.

Saying Goodbye To Old Times

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Our Christmas home in Nova Scotia felt sort of… final, to me, this year.

We plan to spend next Christmas here in BC because it is expensive to travel during the holidays, and it makes a stressful time just that much more stressful. Our next trip to Nova Scotia will probably be during the summer when more people will be free to get together with us, and travel is safer and cheaper.

Although the snow was certainly a thrilling novelty to Owl.

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My father’s Alzheimer’s is slowly progressing. He still knows who everyone is, and what is going on, but he is frail, and quiet, and easily confused. My mother has to help him shower, get dressed, and she puts him down to bed for naps and at bed time like a child.

But he’s still Dad.

img_4313If and when we spend another Christmas in Nova Scotia, the person that I know as my father may have faded away entirely.

Christmas was always a big deal in our house. Both my parents love Christmas, and we used to have all sorts of traditions built up around it. The annual tree decorating was so idyllic that my high school friends used to attend it too, because it was just such a Christmassy THING.

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But many of the traditions have fallen by the wayside one by one what with my commitments to Perfect Husband’s family, and my father’s illness, and the fact simply that time is moving on and things change.

We did still decorate the tree this year. Mum needed PH to help bring the tree in and get it set up. The last time we were home, Dad could still do that. He still sat and watched us decorate while he sipped egg nog, but once upon a time he would have been the one pouring the drinks and sloshing too much rum into everyone’s nog.

The decorators this year were mostly Mum and Owl, with me alternately helping, taking photos, and watching the baby. It was the same, but not the same, at the same time.

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If that makes sense.

Meanwhile, the Christmas Eve traditions on PH’s side of the family are going to be changing soon, too. Their Christmas Eve family gathering had the same food, the same schedule, but less exuberance. My nieces and nephews are older now. The next youngest to Owl is already ten years old, and most of them are young adults in university and beyond.

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Our kids were definitely the hit of the show.

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We got a family photo of all of the “kids”, including Fritter, on the front steps. We don’t know when another group photo will be able to be taken as the grown “kids” start moving away and living their own lives.

I’m really glad we made it home this Christmas, because I felt like I was getting a chance to say goodbye to these old traditions and accept that things are changing.

Owl got to experience and explore these “old times”, and I got to make my peace with their passing.img_4393

And these changes don’t have to feel bad. But they will be different.

Maybe that is okay. Maybe it is time for us to build our own traditions, here, at home.

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Pursue Happiness

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I have mixed feelings about New Year’s Resolutions. I feel like people make resolutions just to feel good for a while, and don’t really think about it. Most years I don’t give a thought to my resolutions until New Year’s Eve rolls around again.

But there have been exceptions.

Many years ago, I made a resolution to “SORT THE F&%$ OUT OF MY LIFE”. I was struggling in a relationship in which the same problems kept coming back, and no amount of arguments seemed to change or improve things. I was painfully aware of the fact that my best friend who lived on the other side of the country gave me more emotional support and interesting conversation than my significant other, and I felt that this was not how the world should be.

But I wasn’t sure how to change things. And as the year passed and I became increasingly worried about the fact that my life was NOT getting sorted out, I found the resolve to put down a foot, and say, “if X happens again, I am done with the relationship”.

It happened again. I ended the relationship.

I can’t say that it made me happier. Ending a long term relationship with someone you genuinely care about does not make life happier. It was painful and chaotic and I felt like my entire life had been turned upside down.

But I knew that nothing could get better until I did that. It was a necessary, if unpleasant, step.

Within six months I had started officially dating my best friend, and life was much better. It was unspoken from day one that we would get married. Sometimes you just know these things.

Things got sorted out, and I ended up happier in the long run.

So when I read this article about how the pursuit of happiness is a false God, it spoke to me. Specifically, it said this:

It’s the perpetual pursuit of fulfilling our ideal selves which grants us happiness, regardless of superficial pleasures or pain, regardless of positive or negative emotions. This is why some people are happy in war and others are sad at weddings. It’s why some are excited to work and others hate parties. The traits they’re inhabiting don’t align with their ideal selves.

The end results don’t define our ideal selves. It’s not finishing the marathon that makes us happy, it’s achieving a difficult long-term goal that does. It’s not having an awesome kid to show off that makes us happy, but knowing that you gave yourself up to the growth of another human being that is special. It’s not the prestige and money from the new business that makes you happy, it’s the process of overcoming all odds with people you care about.

He talks a lot about how people mistake pleasure for happiness, and how worrying about their own happiness can make them afraid to take important life steps which will, for a while, make them less happy.

And when I look back on it, the resolutions I have kept in the past were the ones that really mattered to me. The ones that were life changing.

And so, this year, I resolve to try to pursue my ideal self. I will try to make changes that align myself with the person I feel that I am inside, the person that I want to be.

Since that person is thinner, but dieting has never worked long-term for me, I am going to try to increase my exercise and make a conscious effort to eat along the lines of the diabetic diet I was on during pregnancy. I think that even if I don’t lose a lot of weight, I will feel better about myself if I am more active and make good eating choices more often. I will feel closer to my ideal self.

I think that losing weight would make me happier, but I am not going to make that a goal. I am just going to become the kind of person who COULD.

I am breaking out the old fit bit, and I am going to download Zombies Run onto my phone. I will listen to it while walking the dog, and we’ll see if that helps keep me moving.

Since that ideal self is also a dog trainer and a writer, I am going to focus on finishing and then publishing (through createspace if necessary) my dog training book, even if that means that I have to put my fiction book aside for now. Having that dog training book will help get me business, and help free me from the shackles of working as someone else’s employee.

Once I have done that, then I can play with fiction.

We’ll see how this goes. But something needs to change, and I am going to start now.

Thank You, 2015

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I have mixed feelings about the passing of 2015.

Some parts of 2015 really sucked. My husband nearly killed himself, I ended up heavily pregnant, with a bacterial infection, working and caring for our four year old who also had a bacterial infection, while he was stuck in the hospital and unable to help.

My father broke his hip and overall has deteriorated markedly in his health.

My relationship with my son deteriorated, as my capacity to tolerate his extroverted highjinks hit a new low.

I spent a significant amount of this year coughing, exhausted, diabetic, extremely stressed, half-expecting to become a widow at any moment, researching the potential cost of burying my husband, and wearing Depends because I kept wetting myself.

On the other hand…

This year also brought me the generosity and love of the friends and relations who came streaming in to help during these difficult times. There were friends who picked Owl up at daycare when I was stuck at the hospital, and friends who brought Chinese food so that I wouldn’t have to cook, or took Owl for play dates so I could nap.img_1840

There was my mother in law, who is terrified of flying and financially limited, flying in TWICE to spend a grand total of three months sleeping on our couch, just to help.

On the first visit she made me diabetes-friendly meals and arranged snacks for me at a time when I was working and exhausted and could never have kept up the dietary management that was expected of me on my own. She put my son to bed at night and made him breakfast in the morning, she read to him and joked with him and brought some humor and pleasantry to a home that was seething in stress.

On her return she cooked and cleaned, entertained Owl and then held the baby so I could shower, get dressed, eat meals, and spend some quality time with my son.

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And in between those visits, my parents flew in for four months. They took money from their nest egg to rent a place nearby, and my mother drove back and forth making meals and snacks, cleaning, and reading Owl bedtime stories.

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Not only did it bring me much needed aid, but I got to spend time with my father while he still knows who I am.

And this year brought me Fritter, who made a safe landing on the shores of time and gave us the gift of a colic-free fourth trimester. She brings me joy every day with her grins and chortles, and I wouldn’t change a thing about her.

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And with all of those months of support from our family, PH was able to retreat and rest and begin healing. While he is still very ill, I have seen more of the old Perfect Husband in the last three months than I have in the past two years. There are mornings when I come downstairs to find breakfast laid out for me, afternoons when he greets me at the door to take my coat and offer me a drink, and evenings when he rubs my feet and offers to run me a bath.

Whenever he has a good day, I feel like I could suffer another two years just for a chance at more days like that.

I feel like I could kiss 2015 for bringing me even one day like that, let alone as many as I have been gifted with these last few months.

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2015 also brought me maternity leave, which I love because I am a lazy slob. I love being home with my baby and watching The Walking Dead or writing during her naps. It’s way better than working. I’m sad that there are only a few more months left. I have a lot of writing to get down in that time.

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Yes, over all I am very grateful to 2015. I feel like it got handed a terrible set of cards but it played them all right.

2015 for me was a year of defeat and renewal, of family and love.

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We survived it, and maybe it has made us stronger.

If 2016 can keep up with this upward trend, I think I can look forward to the coming year.

And if it can’t… well… Bring it, 2016.

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Another Chance At Christmas

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So far, this has been the best Christmas in years, and it isn’t even really Christmas yet.

I started celebrating early, since we’re going to spend a good two week chunk of time over Christmas and New Year in Nova Scotia, and there didn’t seem any point to decorating a week before we left. So I decorated in November.

  
We violated an old rule of ours and got an artificial tree so that when we went to Nova Scotia we wouldn’t be leaving behind a fire hazard. We aren’t proud of it, but it’s a pretty little tree and how else can you get a Christmas tree in November?

I also started our advent calendars early, counting down to departure instead of Christmas Eve. I took Owl to story time with Mrs Claus and a gingerbread house party.

  
Perfect Husband has shown frequent glimmers of his old self and has been helping me make lists of things to do, putting together Christmas music playlists, and generally being PRESENT in the household.

It makes a huge difference.

The last couple of Christmases have felt half-assed and lackluster. My miscarriage baby was due in December, so the Christmas that she (she was always a she in my thoughts) would have been due was particularly gloomy. All I managed that year was a single Charlie Brown Christmas Tree on the table.

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I vaguely hoped that people would think I was taking the message of Charlie Brown Christmas at face value and refusing all other decorations out of principle. At least that sad little tree reminded me that Christmas was not about glitz.

Last Christmas was a little better – at least I was pregnant! – but due to stress/pregnancy/anxiety I couldn’t handle basically anything. It also felt horribly ironic because I had always wanted to be pregnant at Christmas – I had imagined lounging with my feet up while adoring relations laid footie pyjamas over my belly and complimented my glow – but instead I was overworked, sick, and we couldn’t afford to go home so it was just the three of us.

PH ended up pushing himself way too hard to help out and I partially blame that for his crash in January.

I sort of feel like the last year didn’t really happen. It’s hard to believe that it is Christmas time again, because we actually haven’t finished cleaning up after last Christmas.

You see, when PH crashed, a lot of things went on hold. One of those was putting away Christmas stuff. And by the time things were looking up again, that Christmas stuff had stopped looking like Christmas stuff, and just started looking like part of the normal background of our lives. It felt strange to put Christmas stuff away in July, so it just sort of stayed.

  
Like the Christmas village, which has been boxed, but sitting under the side table in the living room for a year now. We didn’t set it up this year because we’re going to be away so it seemed like too much effort.

  
Or Beloved Dog’s “12 Days of Dog Christmas” quilt, which has now basically just become a regular blankie that has sat on his memory foam dog bed for 12 months now. I wonder if he would get upset if I took it away, now? I mean, look how he snuggles with it.

  

Or this Christmas angel, which has sat on the shelf for the last year without anyone really noticing it.

  
And when we needed the tinsel for the tree, we knew exactly where it was – on the DVD shelf where it has been for the last year.

Hey, I mean, it probably saved us valuable seconds in decorating for Christmas this year. The house came predecorated! Like how my parents just leave their Christmas lights up all year round and only start plugging them in again on December 1st each year.

It’s nice, really, to think that Christmas keeps coming around. And if one, or two, or eight don’t go as well as I would like, well, it’ll be back again before I even get around to putting away that dog-cuddling wooden angel thing.

And like I say, this Christmas is on the upswing. I think I’ll mark this year over-all a win. Especially since I finally have my Christmas baby.

  

A Tribute To Fritter

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Poor Fritter.

When Owl was a baby I posted constant updates on his many advances and progress, while Fritter has gotten almost no blog attention. But I promise that the neglect is only in writing. I enjoy her so much that it is ridiculous, and I want to really introduce her to you.

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She is seven months old now.

She can roll around, eat solid food, and say “ba ba ba”. She creeps around on her belly but she still can’t sit up completely independently. Her growth is perfectly on the 50th percentile, making her much bigger than Owl was at the same age but nicely average. She actually wore 6 months clothes at 6 months, can you believe that? Some of the clothes are handmedowns from Owl, which he wore at 9 months.  She sleeps better than Owl did but still wakes up multiple times in the night.

But that’s all just data. It doesn’t tell you who Fritter is.

I love this ridiculous, derpy little baby.

Fritter is a people watcher. She especially loves to watch her brother’s antics, and she gets a big grin on her face when he comes into view. A game of peekaboo with him will have her laughing out loud.

She  doesn’t laugh out loud super often, though. Her laugh is a rare and delightful thing. Usually she just grins, or if you give her kisses or blow raspberries at her she chortles.

She loves dogs. My friend the Farm Fairy has a puppy who is only 2 weeks older than Fritter and they are great friends. I’ve taken her to a couple of dog training appointments, too, and she just grins at the dog and watches everything quietly.

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Her smile blooms.

It starts out just gently tugging at the corners of her mouth, and then slowly grows over her whole face, until the emotion overwhelms her and she has to hide it, usually in my chest if she’s in the carrier, otherwise behind her own arms or behind a blankie.

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She loves to cover her face and eyes. She rubs her “Sleepy Sheep” all over her face as soon as we hand it to her. She will cover her face with the sheep blanket, or a curtain, or anything she can get her hands on and wait for us to say “Where’s Fritter?” and then she whips it off of her face with a big grin.

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She is definitely shyer of strangers than Owl is, and she’s a little overattached to me. And by “a little overattached” I mean that she bursts into tears when I leave the room, or if I hand her to anybody, including her own father.

I think part of this is nature, and part of this is nurture. I think she is naturally a little more easily frightened. She went through a period when she was 2-3 months old where the slightest unexpected sound, even if it was just her father coughing or someone speaking when the room had gone silent, was enough to throw her into an angry pout followed by a protesting cry.

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This is an unfortunate situation when you have an active five year old and a dog in the house. Every bark, every shout would send her into a fit of fear-rage.

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Thankfully she has adjusted a bit, and now only does her angry pout if a genuinely startling noise happens.

On the other hand, she hasn’t been as well socialized as Owl in some ways.

Sure, she sees people more often  than Owl did at that age, since she comes along to drop off and pick up at school, and on many play dates. I didn’t have a car when I was on mat leave with Owl so I was housebound, but now that PH is home on disability I can take her out shopping and she is out of the house almost every day.

But she is always on ME. I am her primary and virtually sole caretaker.

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She is almost never held by anyone else except her father, and that’s only for short periods. We haven’t had a date night out since she was born, partially because we were unable to get her on a bottle and partially because PH has been unwell and has very little energy for evening shenanigans, so she has never been left with a sitter.

Owl, on the other hand, was FORCED onto a bottle and left with a sitter on a bi-weekly basis from a month old onwards. He was cared for by a rota of friends and I think he learned early that lots of people have the ability to care for him.

Fritter, on the other hand, probably thinks she will die if I leave the room because she doesn’t know otherwise.

Now that she is on solids we are working on this problem. Our first step is to get her to trust her father to look after her. Now that she’s past the screamy newborn stage he can play with her and put her in her high chair and feed her and she will learn that I am not the only person in the world who can feed and clothe her. Then we’ll start leaving her with other people.

Mockingjay Part 2  is in theatres now, so we consider this an emergency. We missed Mad Max and The Martian but we aren’t missing MOCKINGJAY.

Sorry, kid.

Now, let’s talk about her looks.

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Everyone says she looks just like Owl, and it’s funny because she does, and she doesn’t.

Owl has my eyes and his father’s eyebrows. She has her father’s eyes and my eyebrows. Overall she looks more like me than Owl, and people have noticed that.

That being said, there really is a resemblance, especially when I compare photos of them at similar ages and clothing.IMG_3140Happy Babby

No matter whose various body parts she has, her face ultimately looks like herself. I do love her little face. She gets such derpy expressions sometimes that it seems easy to underestimate her, but I think she’s actually pretty bright.

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She was reaching for things early, and she studies how things work. She studies my reactions, turning to search my face for clues about what is happening around her. As I have already mentioned, she will initiate peekaboo and listens for a specific verbal cue before whipping the blanket off of her face.

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It’s hard to explain but I just have this creeping feeling that there is a keen intelligence behind that cabbage patch face. Maybe I’m just being a doting parent. We’ll see.

In the mean time, I am just enjoying her babyhood. I can’t stop cuddling her like she’s a stuffed toy and kissing those chubby cheeks. And even though I know that I need to get out to see Mockingjay, and that she needs to feel comfortable with other people, I have no real desire to pass her off to other people.

She’s my last baby, and it goes so fast.

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