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Words on a Page

  • Posted on May 3, 2014 at 5:50 pm

I should be looking for party decorations for our soon-to-be-four-years-old child, but instead, I’ve taken to poking around in my old posts here and my old journal I kept at the livejournal site. I do miss journaling. I just don’t have the time.

As it is, I assigned my seniors an Expository writing assignment back in February, and I still haven’t finished them. Mostly, it’s because the writing is uninspiring, but also because many of them decided to try and pass off a plagiarized paper as their own and I had to spend precious time searching google for the copied words. It drives me nuts that many of my students just don’t have original thoughts or ideas to share.

But, lately, I’ve felt a bit redeemed. I assigned my seniors another writing assignment, this time involving Narrative writing. And, I’ll be gobsmacked. Their writing was much more productive and engaging. Huh. I guess they don’t mind writing about themselves.

So, then, it got me poking around my own writing attempts. One of my students wanted to read something I had written, so I gave her a copy of one of my novels-in-progress (yes, one of them… there are three). She was so excited to read about the characters I created, it made me feel pretty good about myself.

But, a lot of the time, when I sit down to actually try to write something, the blank page staring back at me is intimidating. Even with journal writing, I don’t know what to say, a lot of the time.

Gracie is going to be four. FOUR. FOUR!!! What the what? I’ve blinked and she’s this gangly, long-armed, long-legged, blue-eyed imp with a naughty streak and a beautiful smile.

What next? Am I going to blink again and her prom date will be picking her up for her Senior prom? How can I stop time from progressing and stop getting older and grayer, but at the same time, let her age more slowly so I can enjoy this time with her before she starts thinking she knows everything and suddenly wants a tattoo?

I have been feeling better about myself, though. I’ve lost 40 lbs on my way to losing 100. It’s been really slow going… I was in a weight loss plateau for months, and then I finally shook it after a bad bout of food poisoning. Helped me get passed that plateau, but OMG, I felt terrible!

So, this post has been a bit of a hodge podge of writing. No real direction, other than maybe a snapshot of our life at this moment. Words on a page.

Molly

  • Posted on July 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Last night, as I was putting Gracie to bed, she asked me, “Mommy, where’s Molly? Is she in the hosp-tal?”  I was just starting to close the door and she saw me tear up and cry.  I turned to Michael and told him, “I can’t do it, Michael.  I can’t tell her.”  I could hear her crying on the other side of the door as Michael went in to console her and, I imagine, tell her where my beloved ten-year-old dilute tortoiseshell calico kitty went.  It broke my heart.

Michael came out a few minutes later and told me that she was crying because she thought she had upset me.  She thought I was crying because she did something wrong.  Oh, that broke my heart even more.

I went back to her room, closing the door softly behind me, and knelt down by her head, brushing her wispy blonde hair away from her forehead.  I planted a kiss on her forehead and told her to that nothing she did upset me but that I was just sad.  She asked me if I was sad and I said yes.  My sweet little girl is very observant and has noticed Molly is missing.

It’s been a week since I had to put my pretty kitty down after she suffered complete renal failure.  She must have waited until we returned from Monterey, because within four days of our return, she was gone.  I am thankful that she waited and didn’t deteriorate so quickly while we were gone.  But, I am guilt-ridden that I didn’t see the signs she was having trouble until it was too late.

I thought about her passing last night (it’s been hard to keep it out of my mind, unfortunately… I have replayed that moment in my head over and over this past week) and noticed how quiet she was.  Macky, my sweet boy cat who had liver failure almost four years ago, was in huge amounts of distress and the toxins had ravaged his body, affecting his brain.  He didn’t even recognize me, I don’t think.  This is incredibly painful to talk about.  After losing Benjamin, I haven’t had any experience with death since his passing.  And now, I have a curious three year old who knows that Molly went to the hospital in the hopes she would get better, but she never came home.  And, now, her mommy has moments where she’s really sad and cries.

A little cat with lots of short hair that got all over the damn place, who loved to burrow under the covers, slept on my head when it was just the two of us in a big house, chased bugs, played with her white poofballs, bird-watched in the window, stood up and placed her paws on my chest for scritches, head-butted me for pets, curled up in my chair whenever she got the chance, and raced me down the hall, her tail standing up like an upside-down question mark, her little voice trilling her happiness… these  are all moments in time I will keep with me forever.

Molly was just getting to the point of allowing Gracie to pet her on occasion.  Gracie would sit on the other side of the gate and ask Molly, “What’s wrong, Molly?  What’s wrong?” when Molly wouldn’t get too close.  It wasn’t that Molly was sick at the time, it was just that Molly was incredibly wary of Gracie, who in her cat mind, was too unpredictable.  Gracie started being a little less unpredictable, which is why Molly started to be a little more receptive to her.  I just wish Molly didn’t get dealt a bum hand.

I miss her.  Missing her makes me more aware of how fragile life is and how we lost Benjamin so quickly.  Every time tragedy strikes, I’m doubly reminded of the fact that Benjamin isn’t physically with us.  Gracie knows she has a brother and his name is Benjamin.  The next time we go to visit him, I know Gracie will be more aware of where we are and there will be lots of questions.  Gracie is very aware of feelings right now.  She expresses how happy or sad she is and notices how others around her react with different types of emotions.

I am blessed with a beautiful and compassionate little girl.

Saving the Dragonfly

  • Posted on March 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

When I was about seven years old, I saved a little dragonfly.  It was late-morning, and I was on my way to the library from my house, after completing my chores.  I always liked to get my chores done as quickly as possible because that meant I had more time at the library.

 

As I was walking past the city hall offices, I heard a buzzing sound.  Bzzzz.  Bzzzzz.  Bzzzzzzzzz!  It intrigued me and I went to investigate.  When I was a kid, light poles used to have circular trashcans attached to them, like little trash pods.  They were lined to prevent trash from falling through.

 

The buzzing was coming from one of these trashcans.

 

Being the inquisitive sort that I was, I walked up to the trashcan, which was waist level to me.  The bag was vibrating with urgency, as if whatever was in side was frantic to get away.  I wiggled the bag a little bit and inside, a dragonfly buzzed up at me.  It was stuck between the layers of the bag, struggling to find its way out.

 

I moved the plastic aside, carefully peeling the layer away, my little hands keeping the dragonfly from getting squished.  Suddenly, the dragonfly was free and it flew right past me up into the sky.

 

I often wonder what happened to that little dragonfly.  It made me happy to save it from an obvious bad ending and to see it fly up into the sky.

 

I suppose I can compare that little dragonfly to my son’s life.  I often wonder what could have been.  Would he have been able to breathe and grow and laugh and play?  What would he have been?  Would he have been like me, walking to the library, eager to fall into a good book, going on grand adventures with the characters?  Or, would he have been like his father, studious, creative, and brilliant?  I hate that he’s not here.  I get so angry sometimes.  I watch Gracie as she grows into this little person, full of vivacious energy and life and there’s an empty space next to her, never to be filled.  It breaks my heart.

End of the Year Meme – 2011

  • Posted on January 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

My End of the Year 2011 Meme… in mid-January.  I think this is a new record for me.  Better late than not at all, I guess.

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
I spent almost a week in the hospital with Gracie, who ended up with pneumonia, exactly a year to the day I was checked into the hospital on bedrest.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

4. What places did you visit?

We didn’t do a whole lot of traveling this year.  We did go up to Apple Valley over the summer and over Thanksgiving.

5. What would you like to have in the next year that you lacked this year?

A slimmer body.  I started running January 2nd and though it hurts, I’m very proud of myself for being able to run a mile without stopping.  I’d like to get back into some measure of shape rather than being as heavy as I am.  I get really impatient sometimes (!) and just want this weight to come off so I can run farther and longer.  I know it will take a lot of time and patience.  My first goal is to run a 5K, then a 10K, then a half-marathon, and my ultimate goal is a marathon.  Someday.  The marathon may not be this year, but I will complete one.

6. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory?

May 2nd, Gracie was very ill, with a fever and her breathing was shallow and fast.  She was diagnosed with pneumonia and was checked into the hospital for almost a week.  It was terrifying and something I don’t want to see her go through again.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

There are a few achievements:

  • Still learning how to be a mom.  I have no idea what I’m doing half the time, but I think I’m doing OK.
  • Riding my new bike with Gracie strapped into her trailer behind me.  We haven’t been able to ride as much as I’d like (oh my goodness, it takes a lot to get everything ready to go!) but I’m going to make a concerted effort in the new year to ride more.
  • Teaching.  I was displaced from my school in the spring, but managed to come back (again).  As much as I hate being a pawn in my district’s bureaucracy, I managed to come back again and hopefully, I’ll be able to stay.

8. What was your biggest failure of the year?

I don’t feel like I really failed at anything this year.  However, I do feel my relationship with my father is a failure.  I’ve tried so incredibly hard to make the relationship with him work, but it’s not working.  I have so many things I want to say to him and will probably do so by way of this blog.

9. What was your biggest surprise?

Last year, I wrote about a very close friend disappearing when I needed her most.  I spent many months practically begging her to be my friend again, which now that I’ve written it down, sounds kind of silly and childish.  But, I valued her friendship when we were friends and I felt her friendship was something I wanted to fight for.  Eventually, she added me back to her Facebook and I was able to see what her life was like since we had stopped talking.   Honestly, it was weird.  I felt like I was looking at the life of a stranger with a friend’s face.  Not once did she reach out to me and tell me what had been happening with her life and how she had arrived at the point she found herself.  She didn’t even bother to send me a message on my birthday.  As much as I’d like to say it didn’t hurt that she didn’t reach out to me, it did.  Sometime in November, I went to her facebook page to send her a message.  I needed her address so I could send her a Christmas card.  To my surprise, she had removed me from her list again.  Now that I think about it, I don’t think I was surprised.  There was no connection anymore.  Her life revolved around going to bars/night clubs with other divorcees.  Her life did not revolve around diapers, new teeth growing in, first steps, first swim lessons, and other Gracie-like things.  There’s a hole where her friendship once was, but I’m done trying so hard keeping a friendship she didn’t want to keep.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing major, thankfully.  I had a rather nasty sinus infection, but that was about as major as it got for me.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Michael bought it for me, actually.  It was my new bike!  It’s purple and polka-dotty, and has a basket and TWO bells.  😉  I did buy a trailer to tow Gracie on the bike path.  I’m not quite sure I like how Gracie is forced to sit straight up in the trailer instead of at a bit of a recline.  She has a hard time keeping her head up because her bike helmet sits on her head a certain way and she usually ends up with her helmet covering her eyes and her head cocked to the side a bit.  Maybe as she gets a little older, it won’t be as hard for her to sit in the trailer.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My husband’s sure and steady demeanor.  Even when my dad was being a complete jerk, Michael was there for me, helping me keep myself centered.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

My dad’s.  How I turned out a pretty decent adult is beyond me.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Gracie-related stuff, jewelry making supplies, bills.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Watching Gracie grow up is definitely something we’re excited about.  The only drawback is she’s growing up too fast!

16. What song/album will always remind you of this year?

Song:  “You Are My Sunshine” – I still sing this song to Gracie every night, along with “Goodnight Gracie,” “Itsy, Bitsy Spider,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  I carry her into her room, her little lady bug night light casting the stars and a crescent moon all around her walls and ceiling and I sing to her while she points out the stars and moon.  This is one of my most favorite times of the day with her.  She loves to listen to my voice and I lay her in the crib while singing the last song.  She grabs her lovie, sits up and we blow kisses at each other until I close the door.

Album:  Honestly, I haven’t listened to any new albums this year – not any that I can think of off the top of my head.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Sesame Street stuff, so I guess I can say Sesame Street will remind me of 2011.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A) Happier or sadder?
Happier this year, but I still have a lot of sadness.  It will never go away for as long as I’m alive.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Benjamin in some capacity.

B) Thinner or fatter?
Fatter, holy moly!  Before I even returned to work, I gained some of the weight that I’d lost because I wasn’t nursing Gracie nearly as much as I was before.  Then, I got lazy over the summer and went out to eat too much and by the time school started, I’d gained more weight than I would like to admit.  Once school started, I lost a little bit because my new classroom is upstairs (OMG, schlepping all my crap up the stairs was FUN), but then I stagnated… not enough time to swim in the evenings and laziness started to pervade.  Something needed to be done, so at the beginning of the new year, I decided to start jogging.  As much as I love swimming, I just can’t devote as much time to it as I would like to.  3 ½ hours to devote to swimming each evening just isn’t something I can do right now.  So, I’ve started trudging down the street.  As much as it hurts, I like it and I can be done in about an hour.

C) Richer or poorer?
Richer in family, but poorer in finances in some capacity because Michael has been staying home with Gracie.  He’ll be looking for a new job after this winter is over so Gracie will start pre-school/daycare in the spring.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel, but it’s not really an option with Gracie, yet.  I can’t wait until she’s a bit older and she’ll be able to go places with us.  I want to take her to Kauai one day.  There should be no reason the first time Gracie goes to Kauai is on her honeymoon!  I wish I could have spent more time with Gracie and Michael, too.  I feel like I’m missing out on so much when I’m at work.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Work.  I’d rather be at home with my family.

20. How did you spend  Christmas?

On the Friday before Christmas, we went to Michael’s sister’s house to spend some time with his family.  Gracie wore her Christmas dress, white stockings, cute little black patent leather shoes, and a jaunty little red head band with a red/white bow.  We opened the door and she stood in the doorway, as if to make a grand entrance.  Or, maybe it was because she wasn’t quite sure what was going on.  Ha ha!

We went back to Michael’s sister’s house for Christmas dinner and it was a lot of fun.  Compared to last Christmas, it was night and day.  Gracie was able to play with her cousins and she was able to more actively participate in the festivities.  We also had a gift exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone, which was a lot of fun.  I found a really cute handmade ceramic coffee mug with a cartoon image Lionel Richie and the word, “HELLO” above the image.  The inside of the mug was sky blue.  I loved it.  I wish I had bought more!  I bought it with the hopes that Michael’s cousin Kim would steal it because it was right up her alley of pun-ny items.

This Christmas was lovely.  We didn’t have to travel anywhere, so that helped keep the holiday season pleasant and stress-free.

21. Who did you spend the most time communicating with?

Michael, most definitely.  I also talk a lot to his family and talk to Amber.

22. What was your favourite TV program?

“Glee,” “Bones,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Beads, Baubles, and Jewels,” and “House.”  We just don’t seem to have as much time to watch the shows and in fact, we still haven’t finished watching LAST season’s episodes of “House.”  As much as I like to rag on “the Biggest Loser,” it has been a bit of an inspiration to me get out and start running.  I hate that many of the people featured on the show are bigger than me and are able to get down to looking trim and fit in just six months.  I know that’s not reality for me, but at least I’m getting out and doing something about it.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I dislike my dad right now.  I don’t know if I can say I hate him, but I do hate how he’s treating me and my family.

24. What was the best book(s) you read?

I’m still in the book club, but Michael had to bow out because we couldn’t take Gracie with us anymore (she was getting to be more of a handful and a distraction than anything else).  The book I most enjoyed from the selections this past year is “Hunger Games.”  I liked it so much that I bought the 2nd and 3rd book in the series.  I’m still stuck about halfway through the third book because time seems to get away from me.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Nothing this year.

26. What did you want and get?

A new bike.  Michael bought it for me for my birthday.

27. What did you want and not get?

Benjamin.

28. What were your favourite films of this year?

Bruno was really good.  I still want to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, the new Twilight movie, and a few others.  Bruno was the only one we could get to during the holidays.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Kathy, my mother-in-law, and her husband Mike took me out to one of my favorite places:  Thai Nakorn.  I loooooove Thai food and that place is the best, in my opinion.  I had to work on my birthday and I was tempted to take the day off, but I didn’t.  Michael, Gracie, and I went out for my birthday dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant.  I then bought some chocolate at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (my weakness).  I turned 38.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Watching Gracie grow up with her twin brother Benjamin.  This will probably always be my answer to this question.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?

Jeans, flip-flops or Chucks (depending on the weather) and a comfy shirt.  Again, Stacey London would be appalled by my choice of clothing.  I’m definitely a very drab mama.

32. What kept you sane?

Last year, I wrote about my support group.  They have definitely kept me sane and it gives me the opportunity to be with other people who understand what it’s like to lose a baby. Gracie and Michael also have a huge impact on my life and have kept me sane.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Nothing really stirred me this year.  Some of the politics in this country just drives me nuts.  So, I tend to ignore it.

34. Who did you miss?

I miss my mom.  I also miss feeling part of a family.  I’m not speaking to my dad because he insulted Michael, all for selfish reasons, and my aunt and uncle have fallen off the face of the earth.  I feel like an orphan.  If it weren’t for my mom (who is my step-mom, but really, she raised me, so it’s a moot point), I don’t know where I’d be right now.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Cassie, one of the mothers from my support group.  She also lost a twin and knows the bittersweetness of raising a twin alone.  I’m very glad that I met her, although we live too far away from each other!

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.

I can’t prevent people from acting like jerks.  I can’t let it get to me, but I need to also learn to put my foot down and not let the jerks win.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

This song reminds me of Gracie, partly because of her nightlight and the fact that I sing it to her every night.  But, it also reminds me of Benjamin in some capacity.  Maybe he’s one of the stars shining brightly down on us, twinkling when the sun goes down.

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

My End of the Year 2011 Meme… in mid-January.  I think this is a new record for me.  Better late than not at all, I guess.

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
I spent almost a week in the hospital with Gracie, who ended up with pneumonia, exactly a year to the day I was checked into the hospital on bedrest.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

4. What places did you visit?

Not the most exciting places in the world, but we did go up to Apple Valley a couple of times and then to Phoenix at the end of the year to visit my family.  Even if they weren’t the most exciting, the visits to Apple Valley were refreshing and nice.  It was a bit of a mini-vacation for us before my hectic work schedule started back up.

5. What would you like to have in the next year that you lacked this year?

Boring-ness, definitely.  Oh, and I would love to have a bike again.  My cute beach cruiser, complete with a basket and a bell, got stolen from the apartment complex we lived in.  I haven’t really looked for a bike, but will soon.  It will have to be able to pull one of those little trailers behind it when Gracie’s old enough to ride in it.  You bet it will have a basket and a bell again.  :)

6. What date from this year will remain etched upon your memory?

There are two dates, actually:  March 23, 2010 and May 25th, 2010.  On March 23rd, my husband and I were excited to find out the gender(s) of our twins and I remember waiting impatiently in the reception area for us to be called in to have the ultrasound done.  Everything was going smoothly while the doctor checked Baby A (Baby A was Gracie), but when they got to Baby B (Benjamin), the doctor got quiet and took what seemed like forever to take measurements.  I asked him what he saw and he said he was concerned because there was low amniotic fluid in the baby’s sac.  Benjamin was diagnosed with having Potter’s Syndrome and Ebstein’s Anomaly and both were fatal conditions on their own.  May 25th, my babies were born.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Learning how to be a mom.  It’s the most difficult job I’ve ever had, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

8. What was your biggest failure of the year?

This was a difficult one to answer because I really couldn’t think of anything I truly failed at that was something I had control over.  I can’t consider my pregnancy a failure, even though I only made it to 27 weeks.  I suppose the only thing I consider myself failing at this year was not swimming consistently enough and I didn’t get my check-off challenge patch.  It would have been my 5th year.  I did make an effort on occasion to swim and in fact, considered competing in a swim meet.  But, my heart rate skyrocketed so high when I swam, it was impossible for me to even do basic freestyle without taking the chance of putting my babies at risk.

9. What was your biggest surprise?

I’d have to say I was truly surprised at the actions of someone I considered a very close friend.  When you lose a child, you really discover who your friends are.  At this moment, I haven’t seen her in a year and haven’t talked to her in over 3 months. That is NOT a friendship.  And, this surprises me because I considered her such a close friend, I asked her to stand up for me at my wedding.  Now, I look at my wedding pictures and can’t help but feel sadness.  Bah.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A shortened cervix put me in the hospital at my 24th week of pregnancy.  I managed to stay pregnant for another 3 weeks.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I bought my husband a bright red dutch oven for Christmas.  I can’t wait until he cooks something tasty in it.  :)

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My perinatologist, Dr. M.  If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if Gracie would be alive today.  Not only her, but the awesome NICU nurses and doctors who took care of Gracie and saw her through her bout of metabolic acidosis, as well as other preemie-related conditions.  Looking at our fourteen and a half pound baby, it’s hard to imagine her weighing below a pound (she dropped below her birth weight of 2 lbs 3 oz).

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

I’d have to say as a whole, the majority of my tenth grade students’ behavior appalled me.  I was teaching a satellite class from a different SLC (Small Learning Community, no emphasis on the Learning… let me tell you!) and those kids were crazy.  I couldn’t believe the comments that came out of their mouths, the behavior they exhibited, and the amount of time I had to spend each day trying to get them to settle down and learn something.  I’m used to establishing routines and procedures in my classroom each day.  These kids fought it every day they were in my class.  It was the first time in 8 years I had to keep the entire class after the bell because they wasted my time.  There wasn’t a whole lot of maturity in that group.  Of the two groups of 10th grade I had, a handful of the students were respectful and wanted to do something with their future.  It’s usually the other way around:  a handful of my students could give a shit about their future and think money grows on trees.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Not working for six months, I didn’t make much of anything for it to go anywhere.  And, the money I did have went towards bills and our daughter.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

This one’s an easy question.  Gracie!  All she has to do is smile.  :D

16. What song/album will always remind you of this year?

Song:  “You Are My Sunshine” – I sang it to Gracie every day she was in the NICU and every day those first months she was home.

Album:  I’d have to say U2′s “No Line on the Horizon.”  Even though I didn’t like all the songs on it, there were a few that were favorites and I played them a lot when I got the chance.  I also discovered a “new” band (new for me, anyway).  Phoenix’s song “1901″ was used a lot in the background of a car commercial and I finally figured out who they were and downloaded their music.  It’s just my type:  pop-y, techno-sounding stuff.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A) Happier or sadder?
Last year at this time, I was newly pregnant and terrified most of the pregnancy.  I was afraid I would lose the pregnancy at any moment.  I am extremely happy that Gracie is here and consider myself lucky to be her mom.  However, I do suffer from a lot of sadness at the loss of our son.  It’s hard to watch Gracie grow and now wonder what Benjamin would be doing right now had he been given the chance.  I think I will always have some measure of sadness in my heart for my son.  I miss him and I miss what he could have been.

B) Thinner or fatter?
I’m thinner now, since I’m no longer on hormone drugs that made me blow up like a balloon.  I do want to get back into the pool and swim and get some more of this baby weight off.  I’ve lost about 30 lbs since Gracie and Benjamin were born, but since I’m not pumping/nursing Gracie 8 times a day, I’ve gained 10 lbs back.  Boo!

C) Richer or poorer?
Richer in family, poorer in finances, but that’s because I didn’t work for 12 weeks when work started in the fall.  I took a bonding leave to take care of Gracie.   I’m not complaining, though.  I enjoyed the 12 weeks I had with her and wish I could stay home with her until she starts school herself.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travel, but it was kind of impossible, considering my condition.  We actually were going to take a short trip up to Solvang over Memorial Day weekend as a last “hurrah” before I couldn’t travel anymore, but didn’t want to take the risk of something happening to me and us being out of town.  I’m so glad we didn’t, since I ended up in the hospital anyway.  I also wish I’d stayed pregnant longer.  It would have been nice to have been pregnant for 2 more months, rather than going into labor at 27 weeks.  That was definitely scary.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Spent time in the hospital.  Although, I do have to say that being in the hospital was better than dealing with the awful students I had!  I can’t stand pumping, probably because I had to do so much of it when Gracie was in the NICU.  I hated being tethered to that thing 8 times a day.  Now, I’m down to pumping once a day while I’m home from school and will have to pump once when at school.  I still hate it, even if it’s only once or twice a day.

20. How did you spend  Christmas?

We spent the day before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve?) at my dad’s house.  We then spent Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law’s with my husband’s side of the family.  It was a bit rushed and I was a bit frazzled, though.  We had to pack for Phoenix, even though we weren’t leaving for Phoenix until Monday the 27th.  We didn’t get out of the house until over an hour from when I had anticipated and as a result of the rushing and feeling frazzled, I forgot Gracie’s iron and poly-vitamins.  So, after Christmas Eve dinner (which I ate cold and by myself, because Gracie decided to have a meltdown right when dinner was being served and the only thing that would settle her down was my boob), on our way up to Apple Valley to spend Christmas with the in-laws, we had to find a 24-hour pharmacy.  I called ahead to see about getting the iron and poly-vitamins, but the pharmacist said there was a no-refill policy on the meds and the doctor would have to call it in.  Nice.  I had to call Gracie’s doctor at 10:00 PM on Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, the doctor on call was understanding and she called it in.  At first, she didn’t think it would be an issue for Gracie to go without the iron and PV for the 9 days we would be out of town, but when I explained that Gracie was a preemie and still needed to be checked for anemia, she said it probably would be best for her to continue taking it until she was tested.  There is no way our daughter is anemic, but just to be safe, her prescriptions were filled and we were on our way to my mother-in-law’s house.  And, what a relief that was.  Other than the fact that my husband can’t sleep in a bed with a foot board, it was nice to finally be able to relax for a few days.

21. Who did you spend the most time communicating with?

This is kind of silly.  I talk to my husband every day.  I suppose he’s the one I spent the most time in 2010 communicating with.  It would make sense.  I should also say that I’m very happy to have someone like him to talk to on a daily basis.  :)

22. What was your favourite TV program?

We were very much into the last season of “Lost.”  Lost holds much significance for us, since the last three episodes I watched while in the hospital.  In fact, it was right after the Lost finale on Sunday night, May 23rd, that I started to go into labor and was whisked to Labor & Delivery at 1:30 in the morning.  I also enjoyed watching “Bones,” “Glee,” “House,” and kinda-sorta enjoyed watching “The Biggest Loser,” with the exception of the over-use of product placement, blatant advertisements, and spreading a 1 hour show over 2 hours.  I don’t know if I’ll watch future seasons of it.  It’s starting to bug me.  I find myself watching it, just to rag on the show and how annoying the host Alison is with all her running commentary during challenges.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t say I hate anyone.  I dislike some people because of their dumb actions and even dumber behavior, but I don’t hate them.

24. What was the best book(s) you read?

My husband and I joined a book club with our friends.  The best book of the ones we read was, hands down “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  I also enjoyed “Sarah’s Key” (very haunting and sad) and “The Glass Castle” (the father in this book made my dad look like a saint).

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Probably Phoenix.  I didn’t even know who they were until I finally saw one of their videos at the mall, of all places.

26. What did you want and get?

Gracie.  Without a doubt.

27. What did you want and not get?

Benjamin to live.

28. What were your favourite films of this year?

Probably Toy Story 3.  I also loved Despicable Me and Red.  It’s hard for us to get out to see movies!

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My dad and his wife Karen met my mother-in-law and her husband Mike at our house the day before and we all went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant.  Even though my dad chose it, I still enjoyed it because I got to have sushi for the first time since before I got pregnant and we got Gracie’s doctor’s permission to allow her out in public.  Then, for my actual birthday, we went for Indian food, taking Gracie out for the first time as just us.   Gracie did really well.  She slept most of the time.  I turned 37.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not losing our son.  Other than losing Benjamin, the latter part of this year has been one amazing experience, with having Gracie as a part of our lives and a part of our family.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?

I have spent the better part of May through the end of the year in sleep shorts and a spaghetti strap sleep shirt (easier to pull down to nurse).  When I do go out, I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops.  Stacey London would be appalled by my choice of clothing.  I’m definitely a very drab mama.

32. What kept you sane?

My support group.  Since going in August, I have had to miss two meetings, one of which was right after Christmas.  I wish I could have gone, but we were traveling and there was no way I could see to fit it into my schedule before heading out of town.  It’s been my saving grace these past several months.  I still have a few meltdowns, the latest one being on Christmas Eve, but I’m feeling better bit by little bit.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The stupid Proposition 8 in California.  It disgusts me that there are people out there who are so extremely homophobic that they feel it’s their right to refuse human beings the right to marry, regardless if it doesn’t fit into their cookie-cutter idea of marriage.

34. Who did you miss?

I missed my mom a lot.  I don’t get to see her very often and when I do, it’s only for short periods of time.  The good thing is, she’s now become a snow bird for the winter months and is “wintering” in Arizona.  We are within driving distance (not as easy to drive there with an infant, though!) so we’ll be able to see her more than once a year now.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Sharon, the chaplain at the hospital I delivered the twins at.  If it wasn’t for her, I truly don’t know where I would be emotionally.  I am so glad I met her.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.

I cannot change the past.  All I can do is remember it and keep the small memories close to my heart.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

I was born, I was born
To be with you in this space and time
After that and ever after
I haven’t had a clue only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue, oh, oh

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

“Magnificent” ~U2

A Bunch of Firsts, Part II

  • Posted on August 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Now that it’s August and summer is halfway over, I start thinking about all the things I wanted to do (like Gracie’s Baby Book – haven’t even cracked it open since I got it, write more on my blog, exercise more, and sort through pictures), but never made the time to do them.  Lately, I’ve been making a lot of jewelry to sell on my Etsy shop.  It’s been slow going, though.  Seems like there are hundreds of crafters making the same thing.  But, as I peruse through the listings, I don’t see any that are quite like mine, so I guess there’s some hope.

Anyway… Gracie had a lot of Firsts in the month of July, as evidenced by my last post.  I didn’t want to shove all the pictures into one post, so I broke it up into two.  She went on her first bike ride with us down at the beach.  It was really tough towing her behind me, especially when I was riding against the wind.  Several times during the bike ride, I felt like I wasn’t moving.  We stopped and took a break and turned around to head back.  I had forgotten just how nice it is to ride with the wind instead of against it!  Especially hauling a 20 lb baby, her helmet, her rainbow bear and Tigger, and her carrier.  She also celebrated our anniversary with us at the Proud Bird Restaurant.  She watched the planes come in and had a lot of fun rooting around in her carrier.  I snapped one of the funniest pictures of her yet when she looked up from what she was doing to give me the cheesiest grin.  She also tried out her traveling high chair when we went out to dinner this past week.  It gave her a new perspective at the dinner table and was an eye-opener for us because EVERYTHING was within reach.

First Bike Ride

Gracie seemed to enjoy her bike ride, even though it was hard to tell whether or not she could really see anything with her helmet on.  It fits her OK, but seems to be a bit heavy for her.  She was so tired from all the activity, she fell asleep twice in the trailer.  It looked uncomfortable to us because her helmet caused her head to tilt at an odd angle, but she didn’t seem to mind.  When we go again, she’ll probably be better at dealing with her helmet because she’s a little bigger now.

 

 

 

Our Anniversary

Gracie dives headfirst into everything.  I’m not entirely sure this will bode well for us in the future, but for now, it’s entertaining to see her explore her world with such gusto.  The grin on her face says everything to me.

First Time in Her Traveling High Chair

Notice how there’s nothing, I mean NOTHING, around her other than her puppy?  The last thing we needed was for her slinging a knife at someone!  She did a good job of staying put and pretty much enjoyed sitting at the table with us and charming everyone around her.

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway… August brings her actual 1 year birthday, even though she celebrated in May.  It’s hard to believe when I look at her now, she was only 2 lbs 3 oz. when she was born.  I’m so glad she’s healthy, growing, and soaking up her environment like a sponge.  We still feel like we’re flying by the seat of our pants, but we’re learning and growing with her and it seems a little bit easier to care for her now.

A little while ago, Michael said that she took one step forward without falling over.  Oh, and she’s got three teeth – one on the bottom and two eye teeth on the top.  I’d say she looks like a vampire, but now a top front tooth is coming in.  She’s definitely growing up fast!  <3

A bunch of Firsts.

  • Posted on July 31, 2011 at 11:43 am

Life has been busy here at the Saavedra household.  Gracie’s become a little person and walks around with her little walker, bumping into walls, doorways, and chairs.  She’s a fast crawler now and makes a beeline for any kind of cord (computer, fan, extension).  We haven’t really baby-proofed the house because most of the time, she plays in her play jail yard and is, for the most part, content to play with her toys.  When we do let her out to crawl and walk around, she’s supervised.  But, she always goes for stuff she’s not supposed to touch.  Why is it babies want to stick their little bitty fingers into wall sockets?  She tried that once, but Michael was fast enough to pull her hand away.  Looks like we’ll need to get some wall socket covers.

As I watch her grow, I am reminded of how important life is and how important family is to me.  I am so thankful to have Michael’s family for support because lately, I’ve been feeling very much like an orphan.  My mom (she’s my step-mom, but she raised me, so she’s my mom) lives in Montana and I only see her once or twice a year.  My dad, well, let’s just say his actions have left much to be desired and because of that, I haven’t spoken to him since Father’s Day.  My uncle, his brother, I haven’t seen in almost three years.  I just don’t get it.  I’ve called, left messages, and get a phone call from them maybe once or twice a year.  I’ve talked to Michael about how incredulous I am regarding my family’s actions and how I would never treat Gracie like this.

Bah.  My immediate, closest family is missing some of Gracie’s most important moments and all I can do is shake my head at the stupidity of it all.  It must be the Danish stubbornness coming out.  That’s all I ever heard about growing up, how my Danish relatives all hated each other and some didn’t even bother to show up at funerals.  What kind of life is that?  I don’t want that for Gracie.  We’ve tried as best we can to give her a home full of love, laughter, and joy.  Why surround her with that other stuff?  That’s no way to live.

Gracie took her first “step” yesterday.  She tried to take one step forward, then plopped to the ground.  She did it once more, and same result.  I spent a little time last night going through all the videos I took of her.  I had forgotten just how tiny she was.  How we thought it was the cutest thing, her laying there and waving her arms and legs back and forth.  Oh, and her swing.  Ha ha!  I took at least FOUR videos of her in her swing.  I watched them, and there she was… swinging.  Not doing much else… just swinging.  I was like the stereotypical first-time parent (we all know at least one, right?) – taking videos of her every little move and taking pictures of her every smile.  In those first several months she was home, I took hundreds of pictures and lots of video.  These days, I take pictures of her doing her “firsts.”  Her first stroller ride without her carrier.  Her first swim lesson with me.  Her first swim lesson with Michael.  Her first swing at the park.  Her first bike ride (although, that one’s kind of silly looking because her helmet is so big, you can hardly see her eyes – just a bike helmet and a big cheesy grin) at the beach.  I’m so glad for these moments.

I look at her a lot lately and still can’t believe she’s real.  Like, here’s this little person with a fighting spirit and a beautiful soul staring back at me with twinkling blue eyes and all I can think as I look into them is how incredibly thankful I am for being able to do so.

Here are her firsts these past few months.

First Swim

I love this one… she’s like a little motorboat:

 

Now, she gets in and kicks like a little frog.  She seems to enjoy the water and we’re glad about that.  However, I want her to love swimming but to also have a healthy respect for the water.

 

 

 

 

First Pool Hair

I can’t even begin to describe how funny this picture is to me.  She’s got Pool Hair!  She hardly has any hair as it is and when she got out of my in-laws’ pool, this was the result:  a cottony, wispy fluff sitting on top of her head.  She also has tired eyes.  Swimming is tough!

 

 

 

 

 

First Swing Ride at the Park

Gracie has really enjoyed all the new things we’ve introduced to her.  And, what kid wouldn’t?  Swings, swimming, pool hair.  Are those the quintessential things of summer?

Next up, bike rides, our anniversary, and her first high chair experience.  <3


Mmmmmm! Cake!

  • Posted on June 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’m going back and post-dating this blog entry because I wanted to write something about Gracie’s first birthday party, but the whole month of June escaped me.   So, here we are.

 

For the most part, Gracie’s birthday party was nice.  Our house can only hold so many people, so just the right amount arrived, celebrated, drank merrily (eh… even though it WAS a child’s birthday party, none of my daughter’s cousins or friends with children were able to make it, so there you have it), and ate my husband’s cooking (ALMOST everyone.  I will not spend the time on here writing about how angry a certain person made me feel because I am done with this person trying to dictate my life).  The gifts for Gracie were absolutely splendid and Michael made cupcakes for everyone to eat, including Gracie.

We did a test run with the cupcakes the weekend before and though she just squished it around in her fingers, she did eat a little bit of it and the test run was deemed successful.

For this night’s festivities, Gracie ate most of her cupcake, even if she was wearing a lot of it, as well.  The faces she made through the whole process were pretty funny, too.

Gracie’s birthday cupcake.  The expressions on her face speak volumes.

Eh?  What *is* this?!

Oohhh, it’s a CAKE!  😉

 

My brother James and Gracie.  This was the first time he had actually seen her since she was in the NICU and the first time he truly got to hold her.  I love this picture.

All in all, the day was good.  It was nice to see friends shower Gracie with love.  Gracie is my little ray of sunshine in a sometimes dreary, gray world.  The sunflowers above remind me of both Gracie and Benjamin.  <3

 

Hospital

  • Posted on May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Two weeks from today, Gracie will be one year old.  A year ago today, I was on strict bedrest in the hospital, hoping I’d make it all the way to at least 30 weeks or more.  I didn’t, and here we are.

I’ve been very hesitant to post pictures of Gracie on this site because I’ve never understood why some “mommy bloggers” expose their children for the world to see.  However, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it and the way I see it now is I can’t keep our daughter in a bubble for the rest of her life.  I can share her experiences with the few people who do read this blog.  I will draw the line about posting things that are private and should be treated as such.

Every day is a new parenting adventure for me.  I’m not quite sure what I’m doing and I haven’t even read any books about what to expect her first year or any of that stuff.  In fact, the only parenting books we bought were books dedicated to the raising of a preemie, which have since been collecting dust in our office.  Even so, I’ve managed to detect two major illnesses in Gracie – both requiring hospital stays/interventions.  Not knowing what I’m doing, but instinctively, I know enough.

So, without further ado, here’s Gracie, feeling better in the hospital.

It’s hard to see, but her right hand is obscured by a ton of cotton, tape, and an evil IV line.  The first IV went into her left hand and she didn’t protest much, which is indicative to how bad she was feeling.  That second IV line?  The one in her right hand?  It took two nurses over 30 minutes to get it in place, with her screaming and crying and blubbering the entire time.  It was awful.  It was so awful, in fact, she began to associate the hospital crib with DANGER! DANGER! and it became quite an experience every time we needed to change her or try to get her to nap.

I got smart, though.  On Friday morning, I changed her where I had slept the night before.   She didn’t fuss at all and was content to smile and laugh at me while I sang to her.

I really wish I had spent more of this year writing about what it’s like to be her mama.  I never knew what it was like to be a mom until she was born.  She had such a precarious beginning and it’s made me scared, paranoid, and terrified every day.  But, I look forward to seeing her smiling face in the morning and I look forward to seeing her smiling face when I get home from work.

Last night was extra special to me.  Even though I was tired from swim practice and the general business of the last two days, I sat on the couch with my husband and we quietly played with Gracie on his lap.  She giggled and pulled my hair, pulled my glasses off, tried to put my necklace in her mouth, and laid her head on my chest.  It was a joy to have her so close to me.

Small Pleasures – Day 6

  • Posted on April 3, 2011 at 10:39 am

1.  Early morning

I’m not normally an early riser, but ever since Gracie was born, I’ve had to be up pretty early to nurse her.  There’s something about the light in the morning that softens everything.  There’s also something about knowing the whole day is stretched out in front of me.

2.  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Izzy

This song is very special to me.  It’s the song Michael and I chose as our “first dance” at our wedding.  It just warms my heart when I hear it.  It’s also what I have playing on my iPod when the alarm goes off in the mornings.  What a nice way to start the day.  🙂

3.  Gracie’s laughter

The sound of Gracie’s giggles is almost beyond description.  What is it about a baby’s giggles?  Especially Gracie’s.  When she giggles, her little eyes crinkle up and she laughs from her belly.  It’s contagious, too.