"The Tightrope Walker"

"The Tightrope Walker" by Jean-Louis Forain

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Living Legacy.

It occurred to me this evening as Sophie and I made chocolate chip cookies for Santa Claus that baking with my own mother is one of my favourite memories.  Being the oldest, just like Sophie, meant that I was often the chosen assistant and my Mom and I had lots of opportunities to do something just the two of us.  I hope that Sophie feels the same way I do about these small windows of time spent together.

I guess I've always known, but just recently I am truly realizing the importance of childhood memories.  As parents we build, in essence, a living legacy for our children to take forth into their adult lives.  All of these little memories of growing up form our perspective as adults of some of the most important relationships we will ever have - including being parents ourselves.  I am reminded of how essential it is to be a well-rounded person not only for myself, but as a role model for Sophie and Molly.

So I am setting out to answer this:  What do I what my children's childhood memories to be?  What do I want my living legacy for my children to be?

Now you try:  Do you know how you want your children to perceive and remember growing  up?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Careful What You Wish For!

We have had mild, but on-going concerns regarding Molly's bowel movements.  For quite a while now she has been going less and less frequently, and finally within the last month reached a maximum of two bm's a week.  Maybe not a big deal, but having watched the amount of food she consumes we couldn't figure out where the heck it was all going if it wasn't coming out the other end.  So, as any caring and attentive mother would do I made note of all my questions and saved them up for Molly's 18-month well baby check last Thursday.

All went well at the check-up and when I described Molly's bm dilemma to the doctor he suggested that she was probably filling up on milk and then not actually eating enough "bulk".   Of course!  Time to stop offering her an 8oz sippy cup of milk before breakfast, after all her bottle and boob days are long gone.  In other words it was time for me to stop lolly-gagging, realize my baby is a toddler and feed her appropriately.  (Okay, so I felt a tiny pang of guilt with a side of "shit-now-the-doctor-thinks-I'm-overacting" about too little poop! Who does that?  Too little poop means less diaper changes!)  With advice in hand we set out Friday morning with our revised diet plan.  Molly ate breakfast, then I offered her milk and wouldn't you know it she only drank about 4oz instead of guzzling back an entire tall-boy of 3%.

Molly's revised diet worked so well that on Friday she had a bm at the babysitter's - her third for the week.  Then on Saturday when we were out visiting she had an unexpected bm.  So unexpected in fact that we didn't even have a diaper!  We have become so use to her infrequent diapering needs that we only had one diaper in the diaper bag and we had used it for a wet one earlier in the afternoon.  Oops!  Right then and there we should have know that we had wised for too much!  (Again, who does that?  Who wishes for a more regular pooper?)  Thankfully we found an old, smaller sized diaper in Grandma's cupboard and squeezed Molly's thick thighs and big-girl tummy into it.

Sunday was a lovely poop free day, but looking back this was perhaps the calm before the storm.  Today Molly's revised diet not only brought us two bm's, but the ever special tub-poop.  And I'm not talking your regular run of the mill tub-poop, but the full-out hiding-under-the-thick-and-luxurious-bubbles-tub-poop.  Disgusting and irritating on so many levels.  Thank goodness J.D. was home sleeping for the night shift and able to do the "dirty work", but I don't think he was very happy that I woke him two hours earlier than usual to scoop.  But what can I say a tub-poop is way beyond my mothering abilities!  (Kudos to Moms out there who can handle this one!)  While Daddy scooped, Molly screamed for her beautiful draining-away bubbles,  and I tried my best not to gag I realized what more regular bm's really means.  More diapers.  More wiping.  More tub-poops!  Ughhh!

Long story short I am of course happy that Molly seems to be more regular and that her little tummy is looking less distended, but at the same time the lesson is learned!  Be careful what you wish for - especially the week before Christmas when your kids are home from the babysitter's!  ;-)  Tomorrow's wish?  For potty training to begin!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kids Say and Do the Darnedest Things.

Tonight at dinner we listened to a CD of classic Disney movie songs.  As it turned out some of the songs were so "classic" that they inspired the following conversation:

Sophie:  Do you know this song Mom?

Me:  Nope.

Sophie:  Do you know what movie it is from?

Me:  Nope.

Sophie:  It sounds old so it must be from an old movie.

Me:  You are right it does sound old.  We should look it up after dinner.

Sophie:  Mom, if it is old you should know it then!

The song is called "The Age of Not Believing" and it is from "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" with Angela Lansbury.  I will gladly be explaining that this movie is older than me, made before I was born!  Do you ever wonder how old your kids REALLY think you are?

Monday, December 13, 2010

To My Grandmother.

I am lucky enough at the age of thirty to still have four living grandparents.  I know very few people my age that still have all their grandparents in their lives and even fewer who have children with four great-grandparents.  It makes me so happy to know that my own children may have memories of their great-grandparents and even happier still that I have so many wonderful memories of spending time with them as a child and an adult.

My paternal and maternal grandparents are very different from each other.  As a child I would have described my paternal grandparents as fun-loving, energetic, playful, and kind.  I remember watching movies with them, playing hours of cards, making puzzles, Christmas and birthdays, road trips and so much more.  As an adult I would admit that although they are both slowing down they still are full of life and fun.  They love to have a good time and love being around family even more.

My maternal grandparents are a whole other kettle of fish.  As a child I would have described them as boring, quiet, strict and maybe even mean.  I do have good memories of holidays and vacations, shopping trips and sleepovers, but my memories of spending time with them aren't as vivid or lively when compared to those of my other grandparents.  Now, as an adult I have come to the realization that perhaps I misunderstood mt maternal grandparents to an extent.  Yes, they are rather reserved and proper, they tend to be traditionalists and put manners and demeanor above all else.  They also have a high regard for structure, rules and order.  The "meanness" that I perceived as a child is really quick, sarcastic humour (that most children don't understand anyway).  In the end they are equally wonderful grandparents - just in a different way.

This evaluation of my childhood versus adult perception has been brought on by some changes in my maternal grandmother's health.  She suffered a stroke in the late spring and a second major stroke at the end of the summer.  The first was the typical blood cot that we all think of as being a stroke, but the second was actually the result of bleeding in her brain that caused pressure to build.  The affects of this second stroke have been life altering for both of my grandparents.  My grandmother's mobility has decreased, she has also lost some fine and gross motor skills and in general requires more care.  As a result she and my grandfather have sold their home to move into a facility that offers some assisted living services and allows them to continue to live together.  All of this has been a difficult transition for them and for our family as a whole.

The most significant change in my grandmother, and the most difficult to deal with, is the loss of her short-term memory and the "disorganization" of her long-term memory.  I know it seems odd to say someone's memory is disorganized, but that is the only way I can think to explain it.  For example, she clearly has vivid memories of all of her children growing-up and many memories of her adult life.  At the same time her memories between then and now seem out of order and disconnected.  She remembers me and my siblings, but asked my single sister about her daughters - really meaning my girls.  She knows that I have two daughters, but can only remember Sophie.  She can't quite place how Molly is related to her, how old she is or remember her name.   But, she knows she is my daughter and that makes her important to her.  Her short-term memory is so poor that she can't knit, read a book or really partake in any in-depth conversation.  Everything is in her head, but it is disjointed and reconnected in ways that just don't quite make sense. 

Sitting with her is a strange experience.   She looks like herself - perhaps a little older and a little less polished than usual, but still her.  She sounds like herself - perhaps a little less confident and slightly more childlike, but still her.  There are moments when she tells a story with such clarity, livelihood and humour that you think she still is exactly the woman she always was, but then the story ends and she returns to observing the action around her with a quiet confusion that verges on being pure disinterest.  It is in these moments that we all realize she isn't herself anymore.  I imagine what it would be like to be in her place and all I can think is that she must feel like she is in a constant state of deja vu.  Recognizing a familiarity in everything, but not quite knowing why.

Even though these visits with her feel uncomfortable, awkward and sad I know that each one is very worthwhile.  Engaging her in conversation and treasuring each story she is able to share is worth each moment of loss I feel for the sarcastic, witty, and quick-tongued grandmother that I remember.  A tribute to all Grandmothers, all Grandparents, who with strict words or playful hands show their grandchildren love:  You are appreciated!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Missing Moments and Appreciation

....having a moment to write.  Life has ramped up about 20 notches (or least it feels like it) and I haven't had a chance to write in ages.  Like so many other things I have started to take for granted how important blogging has become to me.  With any luck I'll have a chance to write a nice long post before the week is out, but in case I don't I want to record the small things that made me pause this week.

Coming home to lite Christmas lights.

Molly ONLY wanting to cuddle me today and yesterday too!

A true and genuine smile from a third grader.

Hearing all about Hanukkah from a young boy - lovely.

JD cuddling up even though I'm coughing and my nose is a faucet.

Black bean soup, yummy!

Being able to do 30 stationary lunges and having lost 2 whole entire inches off my hips.

Sophie enjoying her first birthday party - without a parent.  What a big kid?!?!

Making a spelling error that 20 kids point out!

Thinking about wrapping gifts, can't wait!

Light snow in the crisp air.

The thick and cozy comforter on my bed, especially when I know it is below zero degrees Celsius outside.

Grateful for being reminded (inadvertently) by a dear friend to appreciate the small things!  So much to show appreciation for!  We should all do it a little more often.