Friday, May 30, 2008

To Paisley: Four Months Old

I can't believe four months have passed already. We are moving into summer now and I remember when I was still pregnant I would try to imagine this summer and what it would be like. What you would be like. Now we are here and it all seems to have come so quickly.

This month I celebrated my first Mother's Day. Both of my brothers drove from Edmonton to surprise our Mum and we had a great afternoon at our house. Mum was so surprised and touched and at one point I was sitting next to her on the couch with you in my arms and it felt so good to be both a daughter and a mother to my own little girl - like somehow life had worked out just the way it is supposed to.

This month also brought the final step in your Dad's academic career. His convocation was held on a Thursday afternoon and our family cheered him on as he stepped onto the stage to receive his law degree. You were very good, and even better after I nursed you under a stairwell in the lobby. Your Dad looked so handsome in his cap and gown and I couldn't stop from crying when I heard his name called - law school has been a long and difficult road at times and to be on the other end of it, holding you, made me feel so proud and happy.

Now that Dad is done school and doesn't start work until July he has been home with us a lot. The three of us hang out and go on walks and for picnics in the park. It's wonderful that we all get a chance to spend time together and I know how much he values this time with you. He likes to wear you around the house in the Baby Bjorn, which he calls his "man girdle" and plays the balancing game with you far more often than your poor mom can handle.

Up until this month your schedule had been a bit of a free for all. You went to bed in our room in your bassinet and then into our bed, and back into your bassinet and the time varied every night. We decided that having a routine would be better for you and better for us and we moved you into your crib in your own room! At first I was a bit sad not to hear your every movement and squeak at night but that sadness quickly dissipated when I realized I could get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time. Now we feed you, put you in pyjamas and read you your books every night at about 10:30. We read you a story of your our choosing and then always finish with Good Night Moon. You really seem to enjoy this time with us and love looking at the pictures. This routine has worked so well and for the first time since you came home you have slept for 5-6 hours on a couple of occasions. You still get up at about 6am to play and we're working on that but mostly we just accommodate you and enjoy every minute of it.

You found your voice this month...and it was in Montana this whole time! We went down the US so that you could meet your cousins, Sophie and Eden. We all went for dinner to Applebees and all of a sudden, from your car seat, you started babbling away to us. You had talked to dad and I a bit before, mostly when you were getting your diaper changed, but never anything like this. You cooed away and smiled and giggled and squealed. We were all so entranced by your cuteness and I couldn't stop hitting your Dad on the arm and saying, "Did you hear that!?" Poor man couldn't eat his dinner he was getting whacked so much. The talking continued all the way home from Montana and hasn't stopped. It is so cute and it's nice to know that you want to talk to us, even if you do have a Montana accent.

On the way home from Montana we stopped in Raymond at Grandma Patt's place and you got a chance to meet your cousin Freya. She is only a few months older than you and lives in Vancouver. You two hit it off right away and although not much was said, we could all tell that you guys shared some meaningful connections.

You are getting much stronger and when we pick you up we no longer have to cradle your head to ensure it follows your neck. You produce more drool than I ever thought possible...I am convinced that at least a third of the milk you drink gets directly converted to drool. You can sit up in your Bumbo now and still love your swing more than anything. You have also learned how to navigate your thumb into your mouth consistently and oh boy, do you love to suck that thumb! The smacking slurping sounds that emerge from that tiny little mouth when you're trying to jam that fist in there can be quite loud and have interrupted many a conversation.

I never told anyone this, mostly because I knew it didn't make any sense, but I used to worry when you were smaller that you wouldn't be happy. Now that you are able to smile and express yourself better I have no doubts anymore that you are a very happy little person. You grin at us and squeal when we talk to you and nothing in the world could make me feel happier or more loved. You make me laugh everyday and no matter how tired I am or how drooly you are, holding you and kissing your little face is the best thing in my life. I'm so happy that we get to be happy together.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Parallel Universe?

We went to Montana last weekend to visit our nieces and do some cross-border shopping (read: bought Kalispell's entire stock of gdiaper liners) and had a nice visit. That area of Montana is very pretty and rugged and so completely different from Alberta that it's weird. I mean, they are only separated by a barely-patrolled border and very little distance and yet it's like an alternate universe down there. I don't know quite what it is but it feels different. The buildings are different and the streets are different and the radio stations are WAY different.

America is a weird and wonderful country. I have spent a fair amount of time there in many different states (18 at last count!) and of course, Brian has lived there for years at different points in his life. And between the two of us we still struggle to understand the place. It annoys him that he doesn't have a better grasp of who and what the country is and it perplexes us to the point of frustration. We know so many Americans who have similar political/religious views as us and who are like any other Canadians or Europeans we might know. But the country, the way it thinks, votes, prays and behaves does not seem to reflect the people we know. Who are those people who put bumper stickers of the ten commandments on their truck? Who believe that American soldiers are being killed by Iranians and that it sounds like a good idea to build a fence between the US and Mexico? Who still think Saddam had something to do with 9-11? Who are the people who watch and worse yet, believe, Fox news? Who think abstinence is the only sexual education that should be taught in schools and who know so little about the world outside of America? I have wanted to dismiss these people in the past as a fringe group, as right-wing nuts, but they are not easily dismissed. Based on the last two elections I can only assume they make up the majority.

Brian and I spend a lot of our time wondering about these things, especially when we are visiting our neighbours to the south. American policies and attitudes often reveal a shocking ignorance of the world outside of its borders. Many really buy into the idea that America has much to teach other countries and nothing to learn. They believe that America is democratic and righteous and envied by the rest of the world. We've considered the education system as a possible culprit but we know too many smart and well-educated people from the States. America produces some of the sharpest minds in the world and has contributed positively to our social and technical advancement is so many ways. Is it its Puritan beginnings or lack of independent media? I haven't a clue. So, if anyone can shed some light on this issue I would be grateful.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Paisley Pendant

I bought this on Etsy as a Mother's day present for myself. I can already foresee a life full of Paisley printed items. Maybe we'll name our next little one Gingham.

Monday, May 19, 2008

This Moment

Living in the moment is something we probably all aspire to. I find it hard to so sometimes - there is always an upcoming adventure or event or stage to reach. I remember in high school I always thought my real life would start in university. And then in university I believed it would start after I graduated. Then I went to grad school, and that became the barrier between me and my reality. Then it was getting married. I think that is why I had such a hard time with turning 29. I knew then that school (for the time being anyway) was complete. I was married, owned a house and would be living in Calgary for the foreseeable future. This is my real life. It wasn't so much that I didn't like it but that the arrival was for some reason unforeseen and a little anticlimactic.

This morning I woke up to a slight breeze blowing in the carried with it that indescribable smell of summer. Paisley was sound asleep next to me. Brian was up and painting and I could hear his music. Saturday's Globe and Mail lay next to the bed, ready to be devoured and I could already smell the pot of coffee I was about to put on. It was so perfect that it made me hold my breath for just a second. A moment I wish I could live in for a little longer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Me and Thelma and Louise

Today, all day, I felt a need to escape. I don't really know where to or what I would do when I got there but for the last few days I have been feeling so stuck. I look out the window and see the same empty parking lot every day and the houses full of people we still don't know. Nobody in our neighborhood (and I use that term loosely) seems to spend any time outside, except for the man across the street who walks the garbage to the dumpster in bare feet. Even in winter. I drive the same roads weekly to go to the same grocery store and buy the same food. I cook the same meals and wear the same clothes and sleep in the same bed. I wake up in the morning and I do it all over again. I can't help but think that right now, at this very moment, there are people living amazing and exciting lives in Dubai, Paris, New York and Tokyo and I am, here in Ranchlands doing, well, let's face it - a whole lot of nothing.

It's my fault that I feel this way. I have all kinds of things I could and should be doing and I feel like I just never get around to it. Some of it is because I'm often spending time with Paisley but if I am honest with myself, it is more that that. It's the way I've always been - full of grandiose ideas and plans and shy on motivation and self-discipline. I have a website to work on but have found myself tragically short on talent, knowledge and time. I have a baby book to work on and of course, writing. So much writing that never gets written. I am supposed to run 5 times a week and I don't. I was going to start to cook all kinds of ethnic and adventurous foods in my kitchen. I wanted to spend time learning more about photography. I have foreign languages to conquer and books to read. I have places to go and a person that I am supposed to be.

I am terrified. I am scared that this is it and I am going to wake up in ten years and my most recent trip will have been a cruise to Disneyland rather than an overland adventure through Argentina. I am scared that all the stories and books I want to write will remain unwritten and that my life will consist of the same grocery stores, the same rooms and roads and quiet evenings and all that will change is the view outside my window.

Monday, May 12, 2008 is my new domain with my blog redirected to it. Do you like that? Strong as a Knox? Sounds like "ox". Anyway...

What I really want to do is create my very own stand alone website where I can blog, post pictures and basically plan my world takeover. But alas, my recent attempts at Dreamweaver, FTP uploads and index file thinga-ma-bobbers has left me feeling completely unqualified and depressed. I have mastheads designed and the whole site mapped out...but don't have the skill to do it. I'm a blind painter without a brush. So, until I find a kind-hearted web designer to teach me some magic or stoop to stealing a site...enjoy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My First Mother's Day

Having had Paisley has made me think so much about what things must have been like for my own Mother when she had me. It's kind of neat that she had me at almost exactly the same time as I had Paisley because it's easier to imagine. I know how pregnant she was in the fall or at Christmas and what sort of things I was doing as the season changed from winter into summer. I have it better than she had it though and I didn't really realize that until now. My Mom had only been in Canada a short time before they had me. She moved to Fort McMurray in September of 1977 and I was born the following February. She knew nobody. It was dark and cold in Fort Mac in the winter and my Dad worked long shift hours. My Mom spent her time in a small apartment with no TV and only the radio to keep her company. It's no wonder I love CBC as much as I do. I imagine the 27 year-old version of my mother and I feel for her. She most have felt overwhelmed, in a new country with her own mother so very far away. With little money and no help or support or friendship. No mommy bloggers or baby websites to turn to with fears or questions. No fancy car seats and strollers and no where to go with them.

I wish I could travel to that time and place and show up at her door. I would take baby Caroline in my arms (who by all accounts was a very energetic little one) and put on a pot of tea and we would chat. I would let her take a nap or tell her a funny story. I would take her to a movie or watch the baby so she and Dad could go out. I would tell her that it would be get better and that soon she would make wonderful friends that she would still have 30 years from now. And I would tell that little baby how lucky she is and to be good. To think twice before she heated the marbles in the frying pan next to the brand new (very meltable!) counter top. To refrain from starting the petition against the choirmaster at school or throwing Dad's gold ring down the air vent. That she should never get a perm and that air drying her hair will always produce the best results. And I would tell her to always appreciate how lucky and blessed she is to have such a kind and wonderful mother. I would tell little baby Caroline that she would sometimes feel misunderstood and alone but that she would one day realize she had never really been either and that she and her Mother would become the best of friends. And I would tell that 27-year-old woman to stop and appreciate the small moments and laugh as much as she could because very soon her little baby girl would be all grown up and have a daughter of her own.

Even though I am now a Mom I know that the hardest parts are yet to come. Right now I have to feed Paisley and cuddle her and make sure she is comfortable. I do not have to discipline her or help her to navigate difficult situations. I can only hope that by the time I get there I will feel a lot more equipped and a little more rested.

Oh, and I finally got my copy of Infinite Jest...thanks Brian Paisley.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

To Paisley: Three Months Old

This month has seemed so long to me. Not because it has been difficult, although it was at times, but mostly because there were just so many things packed into it. It has been an eventful time for our family and you have been the icing on the cake. Your Dad finished law school! I know that you will only know him as a grown up with a job but there was a time when he was a student and I was on maternity leave and we were young and poor but happy. This past month brought the busiest time of the semester for him - exams. About 6 weeks away from the beginning of exams your Dad will decree that he is now officially in LOCK DOWN. LOCK DOWN means I don't bug him for anything "extra" - this includes dinner dates, chores, errands or weekend excursions. This was my first LOCK DOWN period with a baby. Fortunately, it was also the last.

Shabba the wonder cat also left us this month. You probably won't remember the cat but trust me when I tell you that he was wonderful. Before you came along I used to carry all 18 pounds of him around like a baby. I would cradle him in my arms and cuddle with him on the bed when your Dad wasn't around. LOCK DOWN had it's upsides. Your Dad despised didn't always like Shabba. It wasn't him so much as the hair he left around the house. And the puking. But I digress...I loved him. He had been my cat for nine years and so it was very hard to decide to give him away. I posted him online and was contacted about a week later by a girl who wanted to take him. I took him over to her house and then I picked him up the next day. Let's just say it wasn't a good match. What this woman needed was a job, some parenting courses, a housekeeper, some anti-psychotics and a fitness regime but I can tell you that story when you're a little older. A few weeks after he came back another girl came to see him and it was love and first sight. I felt much better about this match and the rest is history. I still miss him and every once and awhile I will think I see him out of the corner of my eye. I must admit though that the house is cleaner and our marriage a little more stable.

You got your first shots this month. People had warned me that it could be quite upsetting for both the baby and the Mom but I didn't find it too bad. I didn't like seeing the needle go into your leg but since meningitis would be far more painful and problematic I soldiered on. You were so tough and didn't even cry very much. You were a little weepy for the next day or so and after that you were back to your wonderful self only now your B lymphocytes are producing some pretty cool antibodies.

You also went swimming for the first time this month. Because your Dad was in LOCK DOWN I took you to Edmonton with your Grandma and Grandpa Knox for a couple of days. We stayed at a nice hotel and visited with your uncles. The hotel had a pool and so we dressed you up in your little swimsuit and took you for a dip. You didn't really like it - I think the water was too cold. About two weeks later Dad and I took you again in Banff and you loved it! The water was warmer and you even went for a short swim in the hot tub. I turned the jets off because I thought you would either be afraid or worse, sucked into some kind of vortex created by unfortunately designed jets and we would never see you again. We were so proud of you and had a wonderful time taking turns with you in the pool. Eventually you fell asleep in a towel in Dad's arms and we carried you back upstairs.

The reason we were in Banff was for your Dad's Graduation Banquet. It was a very fancy affair held at the Banff Springs Hotel and we very cheekily decided to bring you with us. You were the only baby in the room (maybe even the whole complex) and I was curious/petrified to see how you would behave through the long evening of cocktails, speeches and dinner. Paisley, if ever you need to go out with your friends one night and for some silly reason I won't let you, just remind me of that night. Codeword: Banff Springs. You were the most perfectly behaved baby I have ever seen. You sat there in my arms in your party dress, wide-awake and smiling and you cooed your way into everyone's hearts. Not a cry or a whimper, not even a burp. I had to feed you in the bathroom with my formal dress hiked up over my head and even then you appeared unperturbed. At about 11:00 you fell asleep and I whisked you off silently thanking you for making the night so easy and your Dad so incredibly proud.

You have grown up so much this past month Paisley. You are talking more and even took your first bottle the other day. My Mum and I went out to a play (it was my first time out for any length of time) and Dad took you for the afternoon. You drank a whole bottle and although I felt a little guilty about giving you formula it was such a nice treat for me to get out and spend time with my Mum. You reached nearly 12 lbs this month and are looking less and less like the little newborn we brought home from the hospital. Some days I am anxious for the next step, the next sound or smile or milestone. Other days I miss my tiny little baby who fit in the crook of one arm and made little squeaking sounds in her sleep. What I try to do is appreciate each day as it comes and enjoy the little moments of our lives. Never before have the little moments been so little, or so big.