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I defy you not to laugh

24 Aug

I have been feeling a lot of negativity lately and I’ve decided that I have to find a way to dig myself out of this hole.  I think a big part of the problem is lack of sleep, since Halia has been waking up three or four times every night for, oh, forever.  It’s just repayment from dragging her all over the world and messing with her sleep all summer.  Le sigh.

There’s not a lot I can do about lack of sleep right now (other than give up blogging/reading blogs, but that would just set off a whole other chain of crazy) but I can try to find a way to carve out some independent time, and I can try to adjust my mindset by giving myself a mental slap in the face when the pity party or frustration sets in. 

Also, writing run-on sentences helps.

Also, this:

Halia figured out how to do this last week and she’s been practicing every day since then.  If you want to get a real sense of what can change in 6 months, get a load of this video that I intended to post back in February:

There’s lots a-brewing behind the scenes these days; I’ll find a way to connect my fingers to the keyboard soon.  I promise hope.

The things that change in two weeks

30 Jul

They grow up so fast!

We hear it all the time, but it’s hard to truly appreciate it until a baby comes into your life.

Since I was gone in Germany for two weeks, it was interesting for me to see the changes in Jade when I got home, and for Michael to see the changes in Halia in the same time.

Some of the tricks Halia learned while in Germany:

  • Assisted walking
  • Standing unassisted for periods ranging from 2 seconds to 15 seconds
  • Clapping her hands
  • Moving around a room by pitching forward onto her hands and one knee (she can’t do all fours yet), sitting back, and then repeating the move until she can “skooch” her way somewhere far away from where I left her
  • And the one that really melts my heart, learning to say, “Mamamamam, mummmmm.”  At first she did this only when she was upset, but it’s become more generalized since coming home.

As for Jade, she is suddenly able to:

  • Jump with both feet at the same time
  • Cut long lines with her scissors instead of just small snips
  • Colour pictures in the general boundaries of the rather than simply scribbling all over the page
  • String together seven or eight words, talk about her feelings, tell us things she remembers, ask why and how come

That may not seem like huge things for a three-and-a-half-year-old, but they were all things we were working on with her in her therapy sessions before the Child Development Centre went on summer break.  What astonishes me is the way she seems to be able to do these things all of a sudden, sometimes (as with the scissors), without having even practiced the skill.

I’ll close with another heartwarmer.  Michael told me that Jade missed us while we were away.  I was really looking forward to coming home and seeing her again, especially as she’d been asking for me constantly in the last few days before we got home.

I got off the plane and wheeled Halia in her stroller into the airport lobby.  Jade and Michael were chatting with some friends who were also there.  When they turned and saw us, Jade’s face lit up in a huge smile.  She ran towards us and said gleefully, “Hayla!  My baby sister!  Hayla  home!” and proceeded to kiss and laugh into Halia’s face, much to their mutual delight.  I was completely left out of the homecoming love-fest for a few minutes, and yet I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.

Freunde und familie

26 Jul

We’re back!  And of the two suitcases I came home with (which is one more than I left with…) one of them is actually fully unpacked.  Less than a week later!  An achievement, indeed.

Next time I go to a family reunion, please remind me to travel to Germany at least a week in advance.  I thought that arriving on a Wednesday for an event that didn’t start until Friday night would be enough time to recuperate, but losing 9 hours takes more than a day to recover from… especially when there’s a baby who won’t let you just sleep it off. 

Also, it took at least a week for me to recover some semblance of fluency in German. The first night of the reunion, I felt uncomfortably limited and unable to communicate.  Halia took some of the pressure off, although she also presented a kind of barrier.  I’ve observed in the past how a baby can completely captivate a room full of adults, often bringing conversation to a stand-still.  Or is that just me?  (I’m not complaining, though.  Halia made the very long trip from Whitehorse to Lüchow with little fuss, thank goodness.)

Anyway, when there are 30 people in one place, five years since the last meeting, and just a little over a day to visit, it’s no wonder it doesn’t feel like I got a chance to really see everyone.  The great thing is, every time we have a family reunion I get to know someone in the family better.  I grew up far away and not speaking the language (I didn’t learn German until I was 16) so there are quite a few people in the family with whom I haven’t got much of a relationship at all.

This time around, I was particularly looking forward to seeing a cousin I’d hardly ever talked to before.  My sister and I were very close to his older sister Heidi because she lived with us for a year when we were kids.  Udo was always just her bratty younger brother. Of course, twenty odd years can change a person.  And technology can change a relationship.  Other people grow up with their cousins; for me it took the Internet and a faulty alternator to get to know this cousin.  This past year, I connected with Udo a few times on Skype chats, but it was his car troubles (which forced him to stay in town for an extra day after the reunion) that really gave us a chance to visit.  What a pleasure to discover new friends within one’s own family!

Besides the family reunion, there were visits to old haunts, a trip with my parents to the Harz region for hiking and sight-seeing, and, of course, plenty of good, rich German food, as well as my mom’s homemade Chinese delicacies.  There were friends right in town that I didn’t get a chance to visit because my time there somehow just slipped through my fingers.

Time is continuing to slip through my fingers now that I’m home.  Strange, after getting my 9 hours back, you’d think I’d have plenty of time to spare, wouldn’t you?  Ah, it’s lovely to travel… but it’s oh so wonderful to be home.

Tornado weekend

22 Feb

“Tornado” seems like the theme for the weekend.

For one thing, it looks like one hit the kitchen. Despite the fact that someone came and helped me wash all the dishes on Friday, the dishwasher is full and both sinks and counters are overflowing.

For another, we had quite an action-packed couple of days.

Saturday afternoon we went to the annual Rendezvous Sourdough Festival.  We went to enter Nanuq in the dog-howling competition, but though we arrived a few minutes before its advertised 4 o’clock start, we missed it because the organizers were not running on Yukon time and it was already over.  (There were a lot of people who were disappointed because of missing the event… I hope the organizers have learned a lesson!)  However, we did get to enter Nanuq in the last dog event, the dog tricks competition.  He won second prize with his dancing, his verrrrry slow death (Michael points a finger at him and says “bang” and he lies down but takes many promptings of a finger across the throat to actually “play dead”), and barking on command.  His prize was a fancy medal and some dog treats, which luckily contain no ingredients to which he is allergic.

I had Halia in my amauti, and I’d forgotten how much attention it can generate.  Three or four people asked to take my picture, and a bunch more asked curiously about where I got it, where it comes from, whether it’s a traditional design, and so on.  Several excited moms pointed at me and explained to their kids that there was an actual baby in there.  The kids loved it when I’d kneel down to show them the real baby inside.  Anyone who wants to feel like a superstar for a short time should just go to a large gathering carrying a sleeping baby in an amauti.

Today, we all went for a ride in an honest-to-goodness one-horse open sleigh, pulled by a gigantic horse named Rocky and driven by our intrepid next-door neighbour, Atlatl Mike.  Michael will have a full post on that adventure soon, I’m sure, complete with pictures.  (Incidentally, I think it rather ironic that I am really not comfortable around horses — am, in fact, allergic to them, so I’m also physically uncomfortable — considering I was born in the Year of the Horse.)

The other tornado of the weekend was Miss Jade herself.  I’ve re-tooled her keto recipes to conform to her new ration and found that the meals are still okay, at least the ones I’ve tried so far.  Since we often had trouble getting her to finish her meals and the new ratio actually makes them smaller, it hasn’t been such a bad change.  And holy smokes, I’m not sure if it’s the diet change or just a zooming recovery from her cold, but she was an incredible ball of energy these last two days!  Yesterday and today she played outside for over and hour after coming back from our outdoor adventures, and her energy never flagged once.  This is huge for her!  And aside from bad pre-breakfast seizure activity (the norm), she’s been having great days, seizure-wise, too.  And talking up a storm, too!

I actually have slightly mixed feelings on all this.  Today Jade was bouncing around from one activity to the next with very short attention span (hence the tornado moniker) something we normally see when she’s coming out of a bunch of seizures.  It’s hard to decide if this is “normal” three-year-old behaviour for Jade or just her body getting adjusted to its new higher level of fuel or what.

But, what the hell, I’ll take it!

25 not-so-random things

19 Feb
  1. I have been tagged for the “25 Random Things” meme on Facebook 7 times.
  2. The biggest reason I haven’t written on the blog in so long is because I haven’t felt like blogging.  Sorry, it’s true.  The strain of watching Jade’s cold cause seizure upon seizure, her lack of appetite, plus Halia having a wee cold and trouble breathing was all just adding up to become insurmountable.  I couldn’t find the motivation to sit down at the computer when I losing my mind.  Seriously.
  3. There’s a squirrel sitting on the back fence outside my window.  (Okay, that was random.)
  4. By Sunday last week, I was so finished with everything, I was swearing (almost under my breath) as I was forcing Jade to finish yet another meal she didn’t want to eat and I had a strong urge to fling dishes around in the kitchen.  It wasn’t pretty, people.
  5. On Monday, Michael and Jade left for Vancouver.
  6. I felt like I was on vacation.
  7. I spent all morning running errands, blissfully taking my time at the shops.  All Halia needs is a few fresh diapers and my boobs… no rush to be anywhere!
  8. I spend the afternoon baking a birthday cake pie tart thing for a friend.  It was clear that I am out of practice, as the process ended up taking far longer than it should have.
  9. Did you know that if there’s a crack in your pastry shell, any uncooked custard you might pour in will leak out around your tart?  (It will.)
  10. Did you know springform pans aren’t leakproof?  (They’re not.  At least, mine isn’t.)
  11. Did you know that custard won’t set if you fail to turn the oven back on after cleaning up leaked custard?
  12. Thank goodness the element the springform pan was sitting on was just small enough that the custard leaked all around it, not into it.  That would have been a bitch to clean up.
  13. Jade recovered from her cold sufficiently that she did great, seizure-wise, while she was  in Vancouver.
  14. Her EEG on Tuesday afternoon showed that although we’re seeing fewer seizures, she’s having more sub-clinical seizures than before.  (Sub-clinical seizures are seizure activity that are not outwardly apparent, but can be seen in the electrical activity of the brain.  They can impact Jade’s learning and behaviour.)
  15. Jade’s epileptologist was pleased to see Jade so much brighter than at the start of the diet.  In order to see if we can get a handle on the sub-clinical seizures, she recommended increasing the ratio of Jade’s diet from 4:1 to 4.5:1.
  16. This means Jade will be eating even more fat than before.  I haven’t worked on the recipes yet to see how they will be impacted, but I am not excited about this.
  17. We have also dropped the final amount of Keppra, so Jade is now down to two medications.  Yes!
  18. I had no Internet access while Michael and Jade were away because Michael took the modem with him so that he could work.
  19. I had such a long list of things I wanted to do while Michael and Jade were away.  I knew I couldn’t possibly do them all, but I made a pretty good dent. I painted a quote on Halia’s wall, hung some shadow boxes, and made a mobile out of some little stuffed teddy bears my Oma sent to her for Christmas.
  20. I would have been happy for Michael and Jade to stay in Vancouver for one more day (although this would have added to the six solid hours of cooking I did on Sunday to get them ready for the trip).  However, I felt quite refreshed by the end of Tuesday night, and almost ready to take on two kids again.
  21. I was planning a joyous blog post for today since I got a chance to recharge my batteries and feel more or less sane again.
  22. Sadly, Michael’s mom phoned this morning and told us that his Pop (her dad) died last night.
  23. Pop deserves so much more of a post than a mention in this list, but I’m not sure I can rise to the occasion.  In a nutshell, I think he was the ideal people think of when they talk about “a good man”.  Stoic, chivalrous, witty, and loving, I feel privileged to have known him.
  24. Even though we had legitimate reasons, I feel guilty about cancelling our trip to Toronto / Ottawa at Christmas.  We haven’t seen Granny and Pop in person since Jade was 10 months old.  I hope he knows how much I love him.
  25. There’s no good way to end this post, but it’s 3 o’clock and time to give Jade her afternoon snack.  (I love you, Pop.)

Fond farewells continued

31 Dec

I can see that this whole blogging with two children thing is going to be very challenging…

Anyway, once I realized everyone was gone and Michael and my mom realized I was very upset about it, Michael told me to hurry up and get my clothes on and he’d run me down to the airport.  Instead I crawled back into bed, feeling defeated, but my mom convinced me that I just might catch the others if I hurried up.

I pulled on some pants but left on my pajama top, threw on my scarf, coat, and hat.  Michael drove me down to the airport.  This is where it’s so great to live in a small town with the airport so close.  Seriously, it takes 15 minutes to walk to the airport from our house.

And the airport is small, so when I ran in and saw that they were no longer in the check-in lineup, I looked the other way to see if they were still in the security lineup.  Only Pedro was there (I think he’d been slowed up by having packed some liquids in his carry-on).  So I snuck up behind him and said, “You guys are all idiots!”

His mouth fell open.  Besides being called an idiot and not having had any coffee, I’m sure the fact that I was on the brink of tears was a little shocking.  (But that flabbergasted look!  He is so darned cute.  This visit was the first time I’d really got a chance to, get to know him a little and I’m so happy for my sister that she found such a great guy.)

So I got to say a proper goodbye to Pedro, and once he got through security, he sent my sister back out so that I could hug her goodbye, too.  My dad opted to wave at me through the window that looks into the security-cleared area.  That’s just the way my dad is, so I didn’t feel hurt.

Was I a bit juvenile?  Maybe.  But I was sleep-deprived and disappointed that not a single one of my family members thought I’d want to wak up to say goodbye to them (and go back to bed).  Sheesh, I get up in the night for the baby and the toddler, why wouldn’t I do it for them, right?

Anyway, the week’s visit was wonderful and I did get to say my goodbyes in the end.  And tonight we’ll be saying to 2008 (good riddance, I say!) so… all’s well that ends well.

Fond farewells

30 Dec

I know that the “holiday season” isn’t really over yet, since there’s still the Big New Year’s Party to be had (though for the past three years, I think the Big New Year’s Party has really been the Big Lounging-on-the-Couch-Watching-Smallville-Fest-and-Forgetting-to-Stop-at-Midnight Party).  But right now I’m feeling that let-down feeling.  That “party’s over” feeling.

Both girls are sleeping and I ought to take advantage of that to take down the Christmas tree, but I’m not.

Today my family left my house, and all of a sudden it’s so much bigger and emptier.

My mom left just half an hour ago, after a rushed lunch and teary goodbyes.  I have loved having her here and she has been such an enormous help, getting us through the most difficult time of adjusting to Jade’s diet, when she was still having a lot of seizures, and also the huge adjustment of adding Halia to our family.  I have been able to recover my strength (and my sanity!) because she was here to make things easier.

My dad, my sister, and her husband all left early this morning.  Their flight left at 8:00, so they went to the airport for 7:00.  I was up a few times last night, a couple of times for Halia and once for Jade, so I was pretty sleepy and out of it in the wee hours.  I heard Michael showering around 6:00 and I heard the sound of luggage being moved from the guest room directly upstairs from me, but it was still early and Halia was sleeping only fitfully, so I figured I’d wait half an hour.  My eyes flew open at 7:00 when my alarm went off telling me it was time I get up to get Jade’s medicine ready.  I carefully bound out of bed so as not to wake Halia, and ran up the stairs.  My mom and Michael were in the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” I asked, slightly bewildered that there weren’t more bodies in there.

“Getting our breakfast,” said Michael.  Mom was holding the pill crusher for Jade’s medicines, still in her PJs.

“Doesn’t everyone have to be down at the airport for 7:00?” I asked.

“They’re already there,” said Michael.

“What?!  Why didn’t anyone wake me?” I screeched calmly inquired.

Oops!  Halia is awake.  To be continued later..

A mostly pictures post with a few useless filler words

21 Nov
Halia on November 12

Halia on November 12

Halia is just starting to be a little more wakeful.  The last two days, she’s been sleeping so much, I sometimes almost forgot we had a second child in the house.  And not that I’m complaining at all, but I was starting to worry about whether she was getting enough to eat in her little nips between naps.

Sleeping on Papa's chest - November 12

Sleeping on Papa's chest - November 12

Not to mention that my boobs were totally confused.  They were all, “Hey, girl, you were totally non-stop attached to us for the first two days of your life, insisting we get the milk machine going, and now we’re producing and you’re not having any?!”  All I can say is thank goodness for breast pads, or we’d have a lot more laundry to do.

Papa and sisters - November 12

Papa and sisters - November 12

Anyway, it seems that the sleepy phase is passing and we’re getting a little more awake time.  Which is how I was finally able to assess the colour of her eyes and decide that they’re a kind of dark blue.

She loves holding her baby sister! November 13

She loves holding her baby sister! November 13

We haven’t caught it on camera yet, but I swear she’s already smiling.  I know they say it’s just “gas” the first month, but I’m telling you, there are smiles happening.

Another look at that thumb - November 15
Halia discovers her thumb – November 15

 Today marks the last day of my “official confinement” (yesterday’s whole episode will be our little secret right?) and it’s also the first day that I have not been wearing the abdominal binder Heather gave me.  I would still be wearing it, actually, except I picked Jade up when she was getting a bit squirelly and she was sitting on my hip when, in answer to the question, “Do you have to go to the potty?” she responded in the most affirmative way.  (It’s a bizarre feeling to have your underwear soaked with someone else’s pee, let me tell you.)

Hanging with Papa - November 15

Hanging with Papa - November 15

Ready for my close-up - November 18

Ready for my close-up - November 18

You might not know what an abdominal binder is.  Basically, it’s a very wide (from hips to ribcage) stretchy belt that wraps around your belly and helps everything stay put.  If anyone had advised me to bind my belly after giving birth, I would have told them, “Yeah, whatever.”  Heather said her first reaction was the same.  (“And next I’ll bind my daughter’s feet, you freak, “she added.)  But!  It really helps!  After giving birth, everything is so stretched out and saggy, it’s actually hard to breathe.  Having my belly bound was extremely supportive and helped to reduce that “hole in my middle” feeling.  I highly recommend it.
Tummy time with Jade - November 18
Tummy time with Jade – November 18

 Apparently, women in Brazil and the Philippines (and probably lots of other places) always bind their stomachs after giving birth.  Well, with the reputation Brazilian women have for bikini-worthiness, just that much information should be convincing, shouldn’t it?

Sleeping baby - November 18

Sleeping baby - November 18

Tummy time - November 20

Tummy time - November 20

She turned her head!  November 20

She turned her head! November 20

Sitting up (with a little help) - November 20

Sitting up (with a little help) - November 20

Nugget gets a name

15 Nov

I know everyone’s been checking into Michael’s blog to get news about Nugget, and I’m so glad I have a husband who blogs, since I’ve hand my hands full (literally).  I don’t remember Jade being so attached to my boobs for the first few days, but that may just be poor memory.  Now that the milk factory is up and running, Nugget is able to get a full belly and actually sleep a bit between feeds.  Which means I can do important things like go to the bathroom and eat at the table and blog.  You know, the essential things.

It also means that Michael and I have had the opportunity to be in the same room together and have an actual discussion for longer than 3 minutes.  Thank God my mom is here.  Jade requires constant supervision because of her drop seizures, so with one adult watching her and one on milk-production duty, it leaves one adult to run the house, cook the meals, clean up, prepare medications, and so on.  I don’t know how I can ever thank my mother enough, but in a way I feel like I am incurring a debt to my own daughters, to be there for them the way that she has been for me.

Anyway, Michael and I have been having the Nugget-naming discussion in stolen moments over the past few days, and finally really settled on one today.  Actually, it doesn’t feel quite real for me yet, possibly because I hadn’t heard of the name a week ago, or possibly because Nugget is still Nugget to me.  But Michael has tried it out a few times and he swears it’s a perfect fit. 

So, I don’t think I know the Melissa who commented on Michael’s blog and suggested the name, but Michael and I both felt it was fitting.  Melissa suggested the name Halia (pronounced ha-LEE-ah), which is a Hawaiian name meaning “remembrance of a loved one”.  To go with it, we’ve picked the name Rose; we’re not sure why, it just felt right.  So Nugget finally has a name!  Halia Rose.

(Incidentally, as I was searching for links for this post, I found this page, which says “Rosemary” is the emblem of remembrance.  Since Rose Mary was on our list, I feel the meaning of Nugget’s name was somehow meant to be.)

Welcome to the world, little Halia.

Good things today

3 Nov

We started off a bit inauspiciously with the daily fight over taking medications, and a face-smashing-into-the-floor drop seizure just as I was getting the helmet ready, but things have improved from there.

  • Fewer seizures
  • Good ketones
  • A snack that went smoothly for once.  (Hurray!  I love this new recipe, and you would, too.  Whipping cream with unsweetened Baker’s chocolate and coconut oil melted into a “hot chocolate”, sweetened with stevia, and with raspberries on the side.)
  • Ordered a case of KetoCal (had to get a consent form from the dietician and she responded first thing this morning).
  • Ordered a bunch of special food flavourings from Bickford, who make their products for bakers and candy-makers, but they know all about the ketogenic diet; I couldn’t order online because their website is set up for U.S. only, but the woman on the phone was fabulous.  Phew, no having to send stuff to an American friend to ship on to us!
  • My friend Janet (a different one who doesn’t blog) sent me a message on Facebook that she’s flying into Whitehorse from Saskatoon tonight and asked if I needed anything.  I asked her if she could find liquid Stevia and liquid Sugar Twin and she’s picking up both at their local Wal-Mart!
  • Nugget is still safe and sound in utero, but his/her head is waaaaay down and fully engaged and s/he could arrive any time now!  (We hit 38 weeks on Friday.)
  • And best of all… my Mom is arriving at 1:30 this afternoon!  I really need my Mom right now and I’m SO excited that she’s just a couple of hours away.  YAY!

UPDATED TO ADD: And lunch went well, too!  She didn’t want to eat her last bit of salami (chewed it up and then spat it out) but by bribing her with the allowed raspberries, she finally ate everything up.  We’re living one meal at a time…

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