Saturday, October 10, 2015

One Year of Motherhood

One year, one year, ONE YEAR! Can you believe it? Our little Lola bean has been in our lives for one whole year.

I am proud to say I only cried about this once. And it was hardly even a full cry, I think it would even be better classified as tearing up. This, my friends, is a significantly different emotional response compared to my one-year-ago-postpartum self.

But regaining control of my emotions is just the tip of the ice berg. One year after Lola was born, I feel so totally like my pre-Lola self that its almost hard for me to believe. I've regained so much of what makes me me and honestly, I'm so relieved. One of my biggest fears about becoming a mom was that I'd somehow become a worser version of myself, that a lack of sleep and an increase in stress would make me somewhat of a burnt out mess. But just the opposite has been true. I feel more relaxed and happier than... well, I think...ever.

Case-in-point: Tonight after getting home late from a spontaneous dinner out with the fam (that's me being newly flexible!), Lola found the 1 minute window wherein she was diaper-less as mommy was getting her quickie bath ready (that's me being la la everything is fine even though we are SO behind our usual schedule) to suddenly exercise her previously backed-up bowels. And thus - poop on the floor. Which I noticed as she crawled happily towards me, poop smudged on her hands and feet. And then as she began to strain again and I saw an opportunity to ensure that she finally had a full poop (that's me realizing being a mom means being very attuned to your child's pooping or lack thereof). So, I swooped her off her feet, holding her out far enough for her poopy hands to stay away from my recently washed hair, and rushed her to the toilet. Then suddenly I realized we have a dog. I yelled and yelled for Charlie to stay away until Lola was done her business then I rushed back into the nursery (again, poopy baby outstretched in front of me) just in time to see Charlie finishing off the last of Lola's floor decorations. And what did I do, you ask? Cry? Scream? Call Sean and demand he come home and deal with these disgusting children of ours? Nope, none of the above. I laughed. A serious, full, hearty laugh. And then I got to work cleaning it all up and we all went about our business as if it was just another normal night. I could never have anticipated that I'd be someone to take something like this all in stride, but here we are.

My pre-mom self also could have never imagined the next thing I'm about to write: going back to work when Lola was 3.5 months old was actually the best thing that could have happened to both of us. It helped in so many ways. It got me focused on establishing healthy sleep habits from pretty much day one which ultimately led to capitalizing on Lola's natural sleepiness. It forced me into  pumping and bottle feeding which turned out to be incredibly freeing (no worries about going out and enjoying an afternoon away or an evening out). And it made me have to trust others with caring for Lola, something I really, really struggled with (and which was doing neither of us any favours). Don't get me wrong, if more babies are in our future, I am certainly taking advantage of a full year mat leave. But now I know what's possible. I know that I don't need to ALWAYS be there, hovering, fussing. I know that even though pumping is akin to torture, the fact that it allows for a bit of freedom makes it so worth it. And most of all,  if I start feeling sad and overwhelmed in that time off, I know that I could always go back to work before a year is up and I'll end up feeling good again. That's so comforting to me.

Here's another thing I never thought I'd be writing: I am so happy I stopped breastfeeding when I did. Given how I felt at the time, I never imagined I would feel so resolved and so totally fine about it. Admittedly, it took another month after writing that post to stop completely, a time that was wrought with self-doubt and heartache, but once I did in fact stop, I never looked back. It was just really nice to feel like my body was mine again. And at the same time, I didn't feel one ounce of a loss of connection.

I guess thats also something thats really changed about me this year - I have never been so confident in my decisions. This is huge given that I am the most indecisive person ever and have definitely lacked confidence to a fault. But when it comes to Lola, I have such a strong sense of conviction in the choices we've made for her. I can't tell you how incredibly important this is in a world where motherhood is filled with judgment, comparisons, shoulds, judgment, unsolicited opinions, conflicting yet very convincing "research," judgment, and oh yeah, more judgment. I know what's best for Lola, thats the bottom line. Judge all you want, I don't care in the slightest. Seriously! When have I EVER said that. I mean, before Lola, never even in my own head had I even thought something like that. And I have to say, it feels pretty damn good.

I know I started off this post by saying I'm back to my old self again but now that I'm reflecting on this last year, I can see that thats not really true. I'm not who I used to be. Motherhood has changed me. I guess just not in the ways I expected. I though I'd somehow be less, like becoming a mom would mean losing a part of myself. But just the opposite has been true. ...I think I've become more. 

Oh great and there I go crying again. Damn it. So much for regaining emotional control, I suppose that part is still a work in progress...

So that's my year as a mom in review. Next up, a year of Lola in review. I promise lots of adorable baby pictures will accompany ;)

Monday, September 14, 2015

10, 11, and Almost 12 Months

Wow I really dropped the ball on the monthly wrap ups of Lola.

In some ways I think its because not much changes from month to month. In other ways I know that can't be right because so much changes. I think though, that the changes get more and more subtle as time goes on. And so to write about them would take effort. It wouldn't just be a a bullet point summary of Lola's latest development any more.

 Lola on her 11 month birthday

That's not to say that there haven't been some pretty big bullet points thought. For one, Lola started crawling 3 days before her 10 month birthday. Mobility! That's nothing to sneeze at. She also started saying mama, which felt pretty huge. Not that she says it to me, of course, or often even, but still, her mouth makes the sounds and for now that's good enough for me.

Despite what felt like a bit of a slow down, in the past two weeks it feels like development has kicked up a notch once again. Just this weekend Lola started being able to carry a toy with her while she crawls. She's also become shockingly speeds, crossing the room in the blink of an eye. And as of yesterday and today, she's suddenly very interested in trying to figure out this whole standing business. Knowing a bit about Lola's style, I have a feeling she'll be up and walking without much more practice or thought to it in very little time.

Another notable development over the course of this last month in particular is Lola's language. Boy is she chatty! While she doesn't say words per se, she's constantly babbling away. She has a beautiful little sing-song voice punctuated with loud proclamations every now and then. Check it out:

excuse our half-fiished book case in the back, we've since remedied the situation 

I'm often asked what words Lola is saying and while my answer is "nothing really just yet" I don't fully believe that. I kind of think she says "yeah" sometimes. And in the video I totally think she's trying to say "byebye." Sometimes I wonder if she's actually saying a few words here and there but there just not words we expect and so I just chalk them up to random babbling. But who knows.

Anyway that's my quickie post for tonight. With unedited pics and all. I seriously have to get much less unlazy and much more organized (in terms of the picture situation, I still haven't figured out a new system since getting my new computer months and months ago). For a fleeting moment I thought about throwing in the towel altogether but when it comes down to it, I like writing. And I like having a place where I get to do that. I also like taking pics and while that may not be my focus right now, I'll be happy to have this little blog to post to when my love for photography inevitably resurges. So its staying. And I'm staying. Maybe with more writing than picture posting, maybe with less frequency than I ideally would to post with but it is what it is. I kind of think Lola is just adorable enough to keep some of you readers out there ;)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Way, way North/Lola and Mommy's Chisasibi Adventure

Oof, its been forever. The last month has been a complete whirlwind and there just hasn't been much time at all for blogging... I almost don't even know where to begin. Since Lola turned 10 months old on July 24th, I feel obligated to write a summary of her time as a 9 month old baby but theres just so much more to say before that...For one, we weren't even remotely close to home on Lola's 10 month birthday but rather up North.

Way, way up North.

For one incredible weekend, Lola and I visited Uncle Adrien, Aunty Vanessa, and her two favourite cousins Zac and Noah in Chisiasibi, QC.

Adrien and Vanessa have been living in Chisiasibi for FOUR YEARS now, I can't believe it took me this long to go visit! Truth be told it is a bit of a journey but at the same time, not really at all. I mean, no more a journey than some other trips we've ventured on in terms of air time and flight connections. But what did make it truly a journey was, well, pretty much everything else. And thats what I absolutely loved about our trip.

Its one thing to see pictures, to know that A & V have a teepee in their backyard, to hear about how the Cree people are so welcoming. Its a whole 'nother thing to experience it first hand.

Their house and the street they live on is kind of what I imagined living on a reservation to be like. I loved the sameness of each home along the curved street, there was just something about it.

And I loved hearing about the history of how the town came to be - how Hydro Quebec and the Cree negotiated to both benefit from the land, how it changed the way Cree were living, and how thats impacted everything today. A little interesting anecdote - when I asked how insanely high their heating bill is in the Winter, Adrien replied that "people don't really pay their hydro bills around here." Turns out the white man once again failed to keep all their not paying what I can only imagine are exorbitantly high hydro bills only seems fair.

It was a greatly timed trip too. We arrived on Adrien'd 34th birthday and went out to grab groceries to celebrate with a dinner of burgers. Well, after stopping at 3 different stores we found zero packages of ground beef and hot dog buns but no hamburger buns. No bother though. Adrien went on over to his neighbours house. dove into his freezer, and came back with some ground moose from 2012 (as one does). Meanwhile, Vanessa had already whipped up some home made burger buns. A couple of hours later, with the babies fast asleep, Z and the adults tucked into the tastiest moose burgers I have ever had. Okay I don't think I've actually ever had moose burgers before (I have had a caribou burger though, in case anyone is keeping track), but it was so delicious I'm certain it would have been the best even if I had had a million before. Better than any hamburger I've had in a long, long time. Those two know what they are doing! And don't even get me started on the homemade Mississippi Mudpie!

The next day, Lola and I toured the hospital where Adrien and Vanessa work (Zac was SO excited to show us the ambulance!) and then headed off into the rainy afternoon to join the festival going on a short ferry ride away on the island.

It was rainy and buggy and a long rugged walk from the where the ferry dropped us off to the main tent but it was beautiful.

And just as it was starting to pour and get just a bit too cold, we ducked into a teepee and life became infinitely better.

In the teepee were some Cree tending to a large fire in the middle, with geese roasting and bear being prepped for cooking. The ground was lined with branches of pine which was actually so nice and soft to sit on. It was warm and inviting and all we did was sit and relax and take it all in and it was perfect.

The sky eventually cleared and by evening their was a beautiful pink glow over the entire neighbourhood. I couldn't stop taking pictures. There is such a rugged beauty to Chisasibi.

That night after checking the solar weather report, Adrien let me know that I might be able to catch a glimpse at the Northern lights around 1am. So, I set my alarm and hoped for the best as I drifted off to sleep. When I got up a few hours later I crept to the back door and peaked outside. It was still very foggy out but under a thick layer of cloud I could see a green glow. Standing there in the stillness of the night with the cool air surrounding me and the oddly coloured sky above I thought to myself I'd come back just to see this again. That's how I felt after hardly even seeing anything, imagine how I'd feel seeing the Lights for real??

Beyond all of those amazing experiences, it was also such a great trip because we got to spend time with the family. Seeing Lola and her cousins together is simply the best. And getting to spend time with my favourite nephews is also one of life's great pleasures.

  So far, this is the best picture of the trio we've gotten. They are all awake, all in the same frame, and all (somewhat) sitting on their own - in other words, this is what we consider a success. 

The next afternoon it was already time for Lola and I to make the journey back home. We got to the airport to find out that the plane that comes from a town even MORE North than Chisiasibi was going to be seriously delayed. So, Lola and I joined Adrien as he went about his errands in the "big" town located near the airport. On his agenda: grocery shopping, a stop at the liquor store, and filling up the gas tank. Turns out, that all happens at the same store. So much for the big town with big stores I had imagined when they talked about this!

Anyway, the flight representative then called my cell phone to inform us that the plane was on its way and so Adrien dropped Lola and I back off at the one-room airport. We were the only two people getting on the plane in Chisasibi! Having a whole airport to ourselves was just what we needed before becoming confined to a shared plane seat for the next few hours.

Nine hours after we left Adrien & Vanessa's house in Chisasibi, Lola and I were finally home. She was such a champ, smiling and giggling the entire time...with the exception of the last 10mins when she totally lost her shit and screamed until I finally laid her down on my lap (against landing procedures) and she immediately fell asleep. Hard. I was immensely proud of her for all of this.

The next day, I took off from work and Lola and I readjusted back to life as we know it. Though at the end of the day, there's just nothing like home, there is also something so magical about traveling and I absolutely loved sharing that with Lola. It was so wonderful to go on such an adventure just me and my girl. I know I'll be telling her about it for years and years to come, hopefully sparking that love of travel in her too, and paving the way for her own incredible journeys.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back Soon!

Ahhhhhhh sorry sorry sorry sorry, I have been so negligent of this little blog of mine. I promise to be back with a few posts shortly. I have one all written up, just have to throw some pictures in, hopefully tomorrow but worst case scenario by the end of the weekend.

Bare with me, I've been a little bit swamped with un-blog and un-Lola related stuff but the light at the end of the tunnel is fast approaching and I will be back with a vengeance soon!


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beach Life

A couple of weeks ago, Sean and I finally took a vacation. 

Between me being in my probationary period at work (where I wasn't able to take vacation days) and Sean working 6 days a week for the last 9 months, not to mention a growing baby to contend with, it felt amazing to finally take a little break. 

And break we did. 

We started with a visit to our lost love, New York. We spent 14 hours there, 12ish of which were spent in our hotel room (with some of our favourite New York friends very accomodatingly coming over to hang with us there) but we still managed to have the best time.

   We did very New York things like eat burgers from, allegedly, the best burger place in the city, and took a walk through Central Park (...after getting sick of sitting in traffic in a taxi). In the morning I took Lola down to Rockefeller Plaza so that we could have coffee (me), eat oatmeal (her), and watch the Today Show as we do every morning.

And then just as quickly as we arrived, we were off again. This time, headed down the shore to Long Beach Island, NJ.

My most favourite place ever.

We first started going to LBI back in...maybe 1992? Ages and ages ago, in other words. A few years back it dawned on me that Uncle John and Aunt Corinne were around our age in those early years. It blew my mind. I suddenly realized we aren't the children any more, we're the adults.

Luckily, our adulthood (i.e. finding a rental, planning the week, organizing meals, cleaning, etc. etc. etc.) was put off for yet another year as the ever-hospitable Connelly clan took us all in once again. I can't tell you how nice it is and how great they are as hosts, we are truly blessed.

The best part of it of course was that Lola got to spend time with her family. She's always been a bit of a mamma's girl but now that she's 9 months old, oh boy the separation anxiety is at its height. This makes her a little unsure about hanging out with others, which kills me because I so want her to be a social girl. Either way, she managed to chill out a few times and enjoy the company of a crowd of her fans. The family is great with her, everyone takes such joy in the little things that she does. And watching everyone try to help her crawl - hilarious and heartwarming. You've never seen so many grown people down on all fours. She never did manage to figure out the forward motion so essential to crawling but she did pick up a few other things during our vacation anyway. Mostly an affinity for Big Brother, which somehow went from being just "something on" during a rainy day to a full on obsession for some who shall remain anonymous (cough cough Sean cough). 

After nights drinking beers on the deck and late night runs to Meltdown (formerly referred to as Skipper Dipper to my husband's confusion), the house was often quiet in the mornings and Lola and I found ourselves mostly on our own for a short period of time. Not ever having been a morning person before Lola, I wasn't exactly sure what to do with this. And then I remembered one summer at the shore when Nicole, just a little thing at the time, had told me about seeing dolphins jumping out of the water during an early morning walk on the beach. For years I had thought about that, wishing I had enough will power to wake up early enough to go check this out for myself. But it never happened. The only reason I ever woke up early down the shore was to go eat breakfast at Uncle Wills Pancake House. And unless chocolate chip pancakes were part of the deal, an early wake-up was just not going to happen. 

But here I was, awake early! With a little monkey who naps by 9:30am and is unlikely to cooperate with a 30min + wait followed by a crowded restaurant, Uncle Wills was not in our sights. But a walk to the beach? That we could do. And do we did. 

(Lola's first selfie!)

No, we didn't end up seeing any dolphins but it was great nonetheless. Just me, my girl, and the ocean 

It was really such a great few days, overall. We celebrated the 4th of July by blasting Springsteen and playing a family game of Flip Cup, we rode bikes past Fantasy Island, we wedding planned and shopped, we swam in the big Jersey waves, drank summery beers, and laid out on the beach for as long as possible. I could go on and on. 

I mean really, is there anything better than a good ol' fashioned famjam at the Jersey shore?

#LBIfamjam2015 you were a slice! 

Thank you so much Connelly's!!