Thursday, 22 August 2013

My Top 10

Read an article today titled "10 Ways Living With a Toddler is Like Being in Prison".  Seemed slightly extreme but I was obviously intrigued enough to read on and will share these findings with you:

10. You can't do anything without constant supervision
9. Every morning begins with someone screaming at you to wake up
8. You're always terrified something bad will happen when you're in the shower
7. You're terrified someone is going to crawl into your bed in the middle of the night
6. Meal time is fraught with tension
5. Someone's always watching you go to the bathroom
4. You never get to choose the movie and then it's hard to hear it over all the hooting and hollering
3. You're always terrified someone is going to punch, bite, tackle, stab or attack you with some kind of makeshift weapon
2. Contraband - like booze, chocolate and adult entertainment- must be smuggled in and consumed in private
1. Conjugal visits are hard to come by, require intense scheduling, and are often interrupted

BONUS: One Way Having a Toddler is NOT Like Being in Prison

** Being placed in solitary confinement is a reward, not a punishment**

After perusing through the list and laughing/crying at the parallelism between my life and what seems to be every other parent of a toddler, I started to reflect a bit.  As I have shared, and will likely continue to share, raising a toddler adventure at best!  Lots of tantrums, defiance, arguing, hitting, eye-rolling (already!) and just plain clashing of personalities.  BUT, I noticed that I haven't taken any time to reflect and share on the true blessings that also come along with raising a strong willed little human being. 

Here are my Top 10 Reasons I Love Raising a Strong Willed Little Human Being:

10. Whenever she hears someone say "Thank You", she immediately brings to my attention how "nice" that person is
9. Despite our frustrations through the day, she fills my hours with great big smooches and hugs
8. When she makes a mistake (has an accident, spills something etc.) she promptly responds with "Sowwy Mommy"
7. Whenever/wherever she hears music, every fiber of her being begins to dance and a pure sense of confidence and peace fills her soul
6. She kisses my pregnant belly and says "Hi Sister"
5. She knows exactly what she wants and won't settle for anything less
4. She loves to sit on my lap and read me her favourite stories -- Mostly "Boss Baby"....fitting much??
3. She brushes my hair while I blow dry it after a shower
2. She insists on sharing everything she eats with whomever is around
1. When I talk to her about what being beautiful means she points to me, herself and my belly and says "Beautiful Girls"

BONUS: She constantly amazes me with her ambitions, creativity, laughter, determination, kindness and love that I genuinely consider myself  LUCKY to call her mine!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mommy Break

On Tuesday I had "one of those days".  It had now been 11 days stuck at home potty training.  I know this will pay off in the long run but it is making both Marleigh and me CRAZY!!  The day started with lil M waking up in a fowl mood...crying, screaming and just plain grumpy.  I was in an average mood with the aftermath of 6 months pregnant weighing on my shoulders.  Now so far, Marleigh has been dominating potty training and we are so proud of her! 
Today, Marleigh regressed and decided to simply pee wherever, whenever she wanted...peeing on the carpet, in the laundry room, computer room and foyer.  She would announce "I'm peeing" and then try to clean it up after but by the 4th time I was like "Marleigh what are you doing?".  She would point to her little potty and tell me that is where she should go but I guess she thought peeing elsewhere would add a little excitement to our day.  It sure did...ugh. 
Lunch - she wanted a hot dog with ketchup to dip.  She looked so adorable with a ketchup mustache until she decided to kiss the cream couch over an over again leaving little red ketchup lip marks all over the arm rest.  I am aware that these are stories I will laugh about later (in fact, I laugh about it now only 2 days later) but at the time it was anything but funny.
5 o'clock - time to go pick up our new van...yes you read that correctly, we have invested in a family's happening...and secretly I love it!  (Toyota Sienna I named Ruby).  5pm not being the most ideal time to leave the house as it's pretty close to dinner but we couldn't help the timing.  Marleigh tries the potty (nothing) and I put a pair of pants on her, grab my wallet and run out the door.  We arrive at the Toyota dealership and are in awe of our shiny new family member.  Marleigh instantly starts climbing all through it.  The shine dulls a bit and is replaces with little finger smears - which I think is quite cute.  I don't realize that "picking up your new van" is a 45 minute process - that's totally not going to fly with Miss M.  As the sales rep begins his explanation of every crevice of the vehicle Marleigh stops dead in her tracks in the middle of the showroom and proceeds to pee her pants.  Of course, I only brought my wallet-nothing else- so we remove her pants, wipe up the urine off of the showroom floor and now have a 1/2 naked 2 year old running around Toyota.  Sales rep proceeds to take a picture of the happy family with their new van.  Barry and Jodi smiling and Marleigh (1/2 naked) screaming her face off.  Ok, I'm done...time to go home.  I make arrangements to come back for the 45 minute lecture another day.  Barry struggles (what a nightmare) to strap hangry, 1/2 naked Marleigh into her car seat in the back of this new (strange) van.  At this time she is shrieking, kicking, flailing etc.  I put the van into drive and it won't move.  So I roll the window down and ask the sales rep if there is an emergency break on that I'm not noticing.  I am holding back my own tears and frustration at this time.  He and Barry share a smirk and proceed to suggest that I turn the vehicle ON before trying to drive. F******%%%ck!  I'm an idiot but their smirks make me want to get out and punch them both in the face.  So I drive out with music blaring, air con on full blast and Marleigh shrieking in the background. 
Once home, Marleigh calms down...eventually and we eat dinner.  Mid dinner I phone my mom and inform her that I will not be bringing Marleigh to Calgary the next day with me because I need a break.  Mom puts on her best sad voice and says "oh I just bought her some fruit and veggies and dip", making me feel like a horrible mom for even suggesting a break.  May I remind her and myself that the only reason I am coming up to Calgary is for my monthly ultrasound for baby...not for a 'visit'.  So I have a true toddler tantrum myself, throw the phone across the room and run upstairs crying.  Apparently I had reached my threshold.  I turn my cell phone on and try to continue a Words With Friends game I have going on with my brother - I am finally beating him for once....I'm excited that this could be my first win against him.  Sure as Sh*&T, he gets a 63 point word and is now beating me.  Not realizing how ridiculous I am behaving, I start crying even harder (if that was even possible).  Barry and Marleigh come to see how I'm doing and Marleigh says "Mommy's sad, she's crying".  Ok, now I REALLY feel like a terrible mom.  She hugs me and eventually I come out of my slump and continue to conduct myself like an adult. 
My most amazing husband takes 2 days off of work (vacation days) to stay home with Marleigh and potty train so I can go to Calgary for my ultrasound in peace and quiet. 
I had the opportunity to meet a really great friend for dinner last night, I'm currently sitting in Starbucks awaiting a coffee date with another friend and will be meeting one of my besties for lunch.  Feeling slightly guilty for having "fun" while Barry is at home using his vacation days to do my job.  But like he said, we are a family and this is what you do for each other.  I was using my holidays to stay at home potty training too and that's just what we do. 
I am so lucky to share my life with such an incredibly supportive husband. 

1 day away from the chaos and I find myself anxious to get home to see Barry and Marleigh!  Sometimes I just need a hand and I am learning that it is okay to ask for help and take a BREAK :)

Friday, 9 August 2013

More alike than different

This time around I was super eager to get pregnant...perhaps because I could see how fast Marleigh was growing up and I wanted her to have a little friend to bond with, or maybe it was because 32 is just around the corner which would put me 'up there' when experiencing challenges such as parenting adolescence ;) Again, I took 3 digital pregnancy tests to confirm that we were expecting (you'd think I'd learn that 1 test would suffice).  It wasn't long before the exhaustion and major nausea kicked in.  At the time I was teaching kindergarten and barely survived my days spent with 5 year olds and nights with a 2 year old.  "How am I every going to handle two kids"?
Fast our 12 week ultrasound the technicians noticed that our lil' bean had excess fluid at the back of his/her neck.  What did that mean?  Our family doctor informed us that fluid in the neck can be a sign of a genetic abnormality.  Genetic Abnormality, Genetic Abnormality, Genetic Abnormality.  Those words echoed in my mind as I tried to decipher what that meant.  A week went by until we received more information about what that could mean.  A genetic counselor from the Foothills Hospital in Calgary called us and informed us that the fluid was likely 1 of 3 things.  1. Down syndrome, 2. Turner Syndrome 3. Nothing at all.  I will leave it to your discretion to google both syndromes for more information.   The waiting period of unknown was absolutely terrible.  Many restless nights, lots and lots of tears and a real deep fear of the unknown.
 At the beginning of June, I had an amniocentesis performed at the Foothills Hospital. Not  the most comfortable procedure but I am still astonished at the science behind it.  Four days later we received confirmation about our baby.  We found out that we are having another little girl which warms my heart and soul and she has Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome - her diagnosis not prognosis :) ).  Barry and I feel extremely blessed to be chosen as her parents and given the opportunity to see the world through her eyes!  What a gift for our entire family, the pure and beautiful role-model that Marleigh will be and the love that will be shared between two sisters who are more alike than different!
For now, I have monthly ultrasounds at the Foothills Hospital and we've had an ECG on her and looks like her heart is perfectly healthy.  She is growing at the 50th percentile and all of her organs are functioning perfectly.  She's a busy little girl (just like her big sis) and I'm feeling lots of kicks and squirms.  I'm still not sure where we will be delivering her but that knowledge will come as we get closer to her birth.  We are anxious and giddy about her arrival sometime in November (due date: 22nd)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The skin I'm in

I confess!  From as young as I can remember, I allowed my self worth to be determined by societal expectations of what I should look like on the outside.  Not gonna lie, I've always been...big boned, plump, chubby, fat, not-skinny, not good enough.  I can remember following Weight Watchers with my mom when I was in grade 3.  I vividly remember a conversation with my third grade teacher about my need for frequent washroom breaks because I was on a 'diet' and drinking a lot of water.  Sad, very sad...but an experience that was merely foreshadowing what was to come!
After many, many years of tears, yoyo diets, self-hatred, and self-pity, I found myself laying on the floor in our spare bedroom balling my eyes out.  Barry came to see what was going on and all I could muster out was "I just hate being me so much", "I want to just cut all the fat away and be normal".  This episode arose shortly after I completed University where I gained the freshman 15lb and senior 15lb.  When I started University at the age of 22, I weighed 200lbs (scary, I know but I kept convincing myself that I held my weight well). Upon completing my university degrees I weighed in at an astonishing 228lbs.  It used to be very difficult to even say this to myself let alone share it in a blog but I choose not to hide anymore.
In 2009 I embarked on a real health kick and joined Herbal Magic.  After a full year of major commitment, obsession with portion control, and THOUSANDS of dollars I found myself weighing only 174lbs and 75 inches smaller from all areas of my body.  Now I could do things I never thought I could.  I was playing volleyball, dodgeball and joined a running club.  I made a promise to myself that I would never, ever see 228 on the scale again!  The sad truth is that although I had lost 54lbs and seriously looked like a totally different person, I never did reach my goal of 160lbs so I felt like a failure.
When I got pregnant in the winter of 2010 I was up to 200 lbs and my biggest concern was "I'm going to get fat again".  I did a lot of self talk about how weight gain will be a guarantee and I could always lose the weight after. As the weight started piling on I could feel the guilt, shame and disgust grow from the pit of my stomach.  At Marleigh's birth I weighed 247lbs (gross, I kept thinking).  I had broken the covenant promise I made to myself and here I was way over 228 lbs.  Don't get me wrong, having Marleigh is sooooo worth the weight gain and body alterations but I couldn't help but feel ashamed.
After Marleigh's birth I tried Weight Watchers, HCG drops, went to the gym 4-5 days a week and managed to lose 25 lbs.  You do the math.  that put me at 222lbs (only a few pounds short of that dreaded 228).
So here I am again, pregnant and putting on weight, the only difference this time is that my starting weight is 22lbs more than it was when I got pregnant with Marleigh.  I am concerned that I may be the size of a house before lil' girl arrives but honestly, I am dealing with the weight gain significantly better this time.  I don't know if it's because I was already 'fat' that the change isn't as devastating or if I am finally realizing how worthwhile the weight gain is to have beautiful, healthy children.  Either way, I am consciously trying to focus my energy on health and not weight (easier said than done).
As I embark on raising another beautiful girl I endeavour to invest some really hard work on teaching my girls that the value of self is found in your character not your reflection in a mirror.  I will need to learn and buy into this truth myself!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

It only makes you stronger...

I can only describe my first year as a mother as being INTENSE.  Marleigh was a great baby and watching her grow was such a true joy.  However, Barry and I encountered a very trying time in our marriage only a few short months after we welcomed lil' M to this world. 
I can honestly say that I lived through a darkness I never knew/wanted/thought I could ever survive.  Thank you to all of our friends and family who were open ears and arms for both of us and allowed us to make our mistakes, learn from them and grow into the truly stable/strong couple that we are today.  There were moments when I thought not being 'here' would be better than weathering the storm that was life but somewhere deep down (a depth I didn't even know existed in me), and endless counseling, communication, honesty and hope, I got through the most trying months of my life.  I certainly don't wish this sort of struggle upon even my worse enemy but I don't regret it.  I am so very proud and grateful of the person I have become, the strength I now pass on to Marleigh, the love and compassion I have for/with Barry through accepting that all humans are capable of mistakes (me included), that forgiveness is a choice that we choose to make each and every day, that marriage is less about the perfect love and more about the willingness to never give up on the spirit of another human being, and that no one ever said life was going to be easy....but it will always be worth it.  (I'm sure that is a huge comma splice...eek, writing 1000 comes back to haunt me!)
In the midst of this learning curve the opportunity to move to Lethbridge arose and within 1 month of casually talking about our 5 year plan of moving back to Lethbridge we had moved.  January 23rd we took ownership of our new home.  Still very uncertain of life at this time, I chose to trust the journey and take things day by day.  We absolutely love living in Lethbridge and we love our home--a place where Marleigh learned to crawl, eat solid foods, climb stairs (over and over again), walk, brush her teeth, and now potty train.  All of which truly make a place a home!

Expecting our 1st baby!

2010: Upon returning home from a relaxing Christmas holiday in Creston, I had a sneaking suspicion that there was more to know behind my heartburn and complete exhaustion.  After taking 3, yes 3, digital pregnancy tests (holy shnikey those things are expensive) we were elated to know that we were expecting our first child.  Barry held me in his warm embrace while we cried together, panicked slightly  and finally jumped for joy at the news.  It's pretty crazy how one tiny little stick can evoke such intense emotions!  We waited until 5 weeks and finally told our family....true Barry and Jodi style by making t-shirts that said "Bun in the oven" and "The Baker"!  Our entire family was thrilled to say the least and so our journey began.
We decided not to tell anyone else until we had passed the "safe zone" of 3 months (as if that even exists).  During those first 3 months I was met with nausea, exhaustion, and heartburn, which I've come to affectionately refer to as volcano chest :(  The nausea intensified resulting in needing diclectin to get me through the minutes.  note: at this time I was substitute teaching all over Calgary so vomiting in classroom garbages and school aged washrooms was nothing short of awful!
The remaining 6 months of my pregnancy where pretty easy.  I struggles with weight gain...47 lbs to be exact! As my entire body changed for this beautiful miracle, I couldn't help but feel ashamed and ugly. I have heard about women who feel radiant and beautiful when they are pregnant...I wanted to punch them!  To be honest, I didn't really enjoy being pregnant but I saw it as a necessary element of this process.
On August 25th, upon finishing a workout at the pool (hhmm, workout...perhaps I am using this term loosly, it was more like an hour of floating), regardless, I met my grandma for lunch.  I remember my tummy feeling pretty tight at lunch but that was pretty much the norm 11 days away from due date and 47 extra pounds in stow.  As I stood up from the table a lunch the gush happened...yup, a gush, just like you hear about in the movies.  I looked at my grandma and said "something happened", I wasn't certain what was going fact, I thought I might have peed myself.  Laugh now, but wait until you have a baby constantly kicking your bladder.  Sure enough, my water had broke, and broke, and broke and broke.  As I squeaked out of the restaurant in my now drenched flip flops, I thought to myself "holy crapy I'm having a baby".
For hours nothing progressed and on August 26th at 11:45am I was induced at the High River Hospital (which was a totally amazing experience and I recommend delivering there if you can).  At 5:14pm, after intense labour (with no drugs, might I add), our beautiful Marleigh Jade Smith entered the world.

Somewhere to start...

I have created this blog as a living, always changing document of MY triumphs and tribulations of being a mother.  Some of you may relate to my feelings/experiences and others may think they are far too radical to have any relevance.  To me it makes no difference, as I use this blog to reflect for myself and my girls.  As I complete nearly two full years of motherhood and am only months away from welcoming a new little lady into my life, I have lots to reflect on and even more to learn.

Thank you to those of you who are courageous enough to come along for the ride!!