Sometimes I forget how beautiful my children are. Then I ask one to hold still while I check my exposure, leave the photos on the camera for a couple of weeks and then get blown away when I open the file...
Oh, if only there were a publish button connecting my brain to the computer! I composed so many blog posts this past month and got around to actually sitting and typing out....um....well, I guess you can see exactly how many I got around to actually typing out.
I have several goals for 2011 but don't feel that I can move forward until I've given one last look back--especially since so much of our lives this year never got blogged. Also because I think I need to give 2010 a fair shake. So much went wrong this year and the more that went wrong the more I focused on that. I honestly couldn't wait for this year to be over and done with. But when I started looking back I found that there was so much GOOD this past year that I was forgetting. I little reminder to myself that life is what we make of it and perspective is everything.
Without further ado....
January was a lazy month. It was cold but cozy. We spent lots of time snuggling on the couch, lots of time playing with the new Wii Fit, and lots of time being silly. I started a big 365 Photography Project and was enjoying finding things to photograph each day. I was also doing a great job of keeping my 2010 "get healthy" goals...at first. We watched as much coverage of the big earthquake as we could stand to view and gave constant thanks for our many blessings (and as much as we could afford to relief efforts). As the month progressed I found myself more and more lacking in energy and put it down to the encroaching February blahs. It finally occured to me at the end of the month when the last time I felt this tired was....and I bought a pregnancy test. It was positive. The first person I told was Princess (I actually got her to read the stick to me). This may have been the high point of the year--a new baby! So exciting!
February started off on the wrong foot. Actually, February slid off the wrong foot and left us concussed. On the first day of February my morning sickness hit in full force. I threw up 8 times by mid-afternoon and was counting the hours until Hubby came home....except he never came. He finally phoned just after suppertime to let me know he was in the ER and would be home when he could. What a day! He had slipped on a patch of ice on his way from a meeting and broke his hand. We were quite the pair.
Fortunately he only missed a couple of days of work and didn't need surgery. PHEW! The month continued on that way with small mercies making us give thanks daily. The first big snowfall Hubby and I stood at the window wondering what to do--he couldn't shovel and I shouldn't. Just when we wondered aloud what to do our next door neighbour appeared on his tractor and plowed us out. He had no idea what we were going through, he just showed up. He showed up all winter. He was just one of many angels that helped us get through a tough month. My exercise goals and 365 project were both given up early in the month (but boy was I losing weight!) and I had to stay away from the computer as more than 15 minutes made me ill. There was still plenty of snuggling with the kiddos though and excitement as they continued in Brownies, Sparks, Beavers, Dance, piano and various clubs and activities at school. Sweetpea was doing an Olympic Enrichment project at school and some of the most cherished memories of my life will be those early mornings where she would slip out of bed and snuggle up with me on the couch (which had become my sick bed) and we'd watch the early morning Olympic coverage together. We'd talk about how well Canada was doing and share little nothings and big dreams. Second highest point of the year?
March was a bit of a blur of misery. I hit my sickest point the first week...right at the same time as March Break. Oh, and our Boy spent his March Break suffering from Scarlet Fever. Just when we thought he was all better, on his last day of antibiotics, he broke out in hives and it was back to the ER. It turns out he is allergic to that particular type of antibiotic (no surprise--both myself and my mom are too). Eventually he was back at school though he never really got his energy back and would occasionally have a fever in the evening only to wake up fine in the morning. It was obvious his body was fighting a big battle against SOMETHING but we weren't sure what or how to help. The coming of spring was rejoiced over GREATLY--we were all looking forward to more time spent outdoors in the fresh air, my first trimester was OVER and the nausea and vomiting should be easing up in the next month (my body is pretty predictable that way) and we were all ready for a little more colour in our lives. Sweetpea had a low-key sort of a birthday celebration, but it was good enough for her. I felt guilty for not feeling up to making a cake, but she asked for an ice-cream cake and LOVED it.
April started on a high note. I was feeling a bit better; still nauseated but not vomiting as often, and we FINALLY put away our Christmas tree. Yes, we broke records in 2010 by having our tree up until April. We were just too sick and tired to get it down before then. We got it down just in time for Easter, and I even managed to make a respectable Easter dinner. The bunny came, the local deer dropped by to graze on the lawn...yes, things were looking up.
(Four little Easter friends from Grandma for our 4 little babies)
Sadly, it turned out to be an up before the biggest dip on the roller-coaster that was 2010. When I went to my 16-week wellness check-up, the doctor couldn't find our baby's heartbeat. (Strangely enough, the doppler was able to pick up a country music station though. Hilarious!) The doctor told me not to worry (but I did) and sent me for an emergency ultrasound to find out what was happening. You can read all about that heartache here. The short version is that our baby had died only days before, I was induced and delivered our son, Gaelan, on April 14th. I don't have words to describe the way this changed us all, individually and as a family.
(Looking out the sky from my hospital bed after they took him away, I thought I saw a baby sleeping in the clouds and snapped a photo. I kept wondering how the sky could be so blue.)
Life had to go on though and we somehow survived April. Friends from church and the village brought meals that first week and even came to help clean the house (after 4 months of illness and neglect it needed an embarrassing amount of help). The kids continued with their activities and the tulips bloomed. Both girls presented their Enrichment Projects and did wonderful jobs (and the few parents who noticed me bolt from the room to sob uncontrollably in the washroom while the kids sang that "I Believe" song from the Olympics were kind enough to say nothing). The Boy was sick again with a suspected case of mumps that turned out NOT to be mumps (though it took nearly a month to get the test results back). His lumps seemed here to stay and we got to take him to doctor and ENT appointments. Frankly between the two of us we seemed to always be at the doctor for the entire spring.
May miracles. I began seeing them all around me. Of course, maybe it was that perspective shift; so many things that I may have missed or taken for granted seemed the mightiest of miracles to me in May. May showers arrived and everytime I thought I was going to have a breakdown a rainbow would appear. I felt that God was near and that He knew my pain. Not that I was ready to forgive Him for breaking my heart.
The month started with our annual Music Festival. This year only Sweetpea sang in the children's choir (the others felt unmotivated by the lack of treats offered) but I sang in the Ecumenical choir. This year was the first that all 3 children participated and all did SO well. The Princess topped her piano classes. Sweetpea sang a sweet solo and placed second in her class and even the Boy placed with his spoken verse. To make it all that much sweeter, the Grandparents were visiting during festival and got to see everyone perform. May also saw a bittersweet Mother's Day and my last Kindergarten Mommy Makeover (the Boy is an artist!). Hubby travelled to Texas on a business trip and we made the best of it with his daily emails and phone calls, as well as fun times at the airport. It was a crazy month for Girl Guide activities and saw all of us girls head to the big 100 Years of Guiding Provincial Rally in Sussex. Later in the month I accompanied our Guides to Operation Olave in Woodstock where our first year girls placed 1st Overall AND took the Shianne Delong Memorial Award--a very high honour. I'm not sure I could have been prouder of those girls if I was their parent. And slowly....slowly I began to pick up my camera again.
June was a baby month. Showers, photo shoots, excitement....I may have nursed my broken heart by shopping quite extravagantly for friends and strangers--though I was genuinely happy for them. Just a little jealous. The rainbows continued to find me and soothe my soul. A heat wave hit early in the month and the kids and I were swimming at the lake by the 12th. THE 12th!
June was the month we got the final autopsy and test results for Gaelan, only to find out he was fine. I was fine and healthy, he was fine and healthy, and one day his heart just stopped beating. There would be no explanations for our loss from the medical community. The news had me throwing myself into life and my children's lives full force. There's no tomorrow so enjoy today! I tagged along on end of year field trips for both Sweetpea (St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea, a family favourite) and the Boy (Scott's Nursery). I helped with the Boy's Enrichment Presentation, planned and prepped for our Girl Guide Summer Camp, snapped photos everywhere I went, and got involved in anything anyone would let me get involved in. I cheered my three at their school's family fun day, with their amazing end of year report cards, and just for being themselves. At the end of the month we all went to camp--but not together. Guide Camp, Brownie Camp, Spark Camp and Beaver camp were all the same weekend. Crazy times! June was about grabbing the joy in life and wringing it dry. June was fun but frantic.
July continued in much the way that June had. We blasted off by spending Canada Day in St. Andrew's as a family (another highlight of the year). I had signed myself and the kids up for a couple of classes at BPS (now Big Picture Classes) and we were working on our assignments (which were always about fun). We shopped, we played, we visited, we threw ourselves into having the best summer ever. We visited DQ more than once (and the freezer at home was always well stocked with ice cream and fudgsicles). We did the reading program at the library. We drove to Fredericton daily for swimming lessons. We welcomed my Mom and her husband at our place for a few days before meeting them in PEI for a camping vacation that was jam-packed with adventure. We rarely stopped and we were rarely home.
July is the month for which I did 3 photo shoots and still have 3983 personal photos waiting to be edited.
Did we slow down in August? A little! We came home from PEI to another round of swimming lessons, but we were getting tired (well, I was, anyway). We wrapped up the swimming lessons and the library program, though we didn't stop swimming or reading. We blew bubbles and hung around in hammocks. We came home. We enjoyed our village's Community Days, we went into town to experience the Changing of the Guard, we did a little back to school shopping, but we basically wound down. We remembered that life can be enjoyed just as much at a slower pace. Sometimes it's even better to stand back and watch it all go by.
September was back to school. The Princess began Grade 4, Sweetpea Grade 2 and the Boy Grade 1. Hubby worked and worked and I was finally forced to face my empty nest, along with the hardness of my due date and all the "should'ves" that danced through my mind, dreams woven in winter and shattered in spring that never got to see the fall they were waiting on. I took up running and found myself back in PEI one weekend for a youth conference. The phone started ringing with requests for fall photos and I remembered that the plan for 2010, before our roller coaster started, was to start my own photography business. Did I still want to? The Boy turned 6 and celebrated with cake and gifts, including his newest and greatet love--Garfield. We found comfort in a return to routines and the structure that school brings, plus those crisp fall nights and warm sunny days that we love.
October is always our favourite month. It was dulled a little by the knowledge that someone was missing this year, but we still had fun. Nothing dulls the beauty and wonder of October, at least not in this part of the world. We had our Annual Trip to Hunter Brothers Farm and Corn Maze (Sesame Street this year--fun!). Note to self though--dress in lots of layers next year. We FROZE this year!
I quietly launched myself as a professional photographer and spent a lot of time on budgets and pricing and so forth (and it never ends!). I gave up running. We invited friends for Thanksgiving who brought Dutch Blitz with them, a game both Hubby and I used to love playing and forgot existed. So much fun! I saw a moose at the school and she was kind enough to let me take lots of photos. I had lots of photoshoots and kept busy editing them all. We kept busy with all of our various activities (so busy!). We celebrated the Princess' birthday and Hallowe'en. We smiled more.
We started November with a trip to Halifax for Gaelan's interrment. It was the first time the kids had stayed in a hotel, so there was fun along with the sadness. We spent some time at the temple before the ceremony, another first for our kiddos. We said good-bye.
We saw snow early in the month (we actually got some snow for Hallowe'en) and enough to play in by mid-month. We had Christmas Mommies and told Santa our wishes, observed Remembrance Day, and started plotting our Christmas (cantata practices!). We girls were able to attend a big Guide Sleepover in Brookside Mall (in Fredericton) together and had a ton of fun.
December was busy yet not. We had a pretty low-key Christmas this year. We sang in the Cantata, attended our ward Christmas dinner, decorated the house, baked....but we did everything a little less than usual. I only made a couple batches of cookies instead of all the cookies and squares I usually crank out for Christmas. We decorated later than usual (and I'm itching to take things down). We saw insane weather with a big storm every Monday in December but were spared the flooding that many of our friends and neighbours struggled with. We had a quiet Christmas where we all took turns with some kind of gastro-intestinal bug (the only one who escaped was Hubby) and stayed home to bring in the New Year together. My December photos aren't even off of my camera yet--and that's ok.
All in all I'd have to say that 2010 was a difficult year. We were stretched in so many different ways and we're still figuring it all out. It truly was the best of times and the worst of times. We'll hope that 2011 has more best than worst in store for us. Honestly we could all use just a bit of a rest.
In an attempt to focus on the best, I'm leaving you with the kiddos' ideas of what they liked best about 2010.
1. Our trip to PEI!
2. Swimming lessons.
3. Christmas Eve Party at our friends' house (first time we went out for Christmas Eve).
4. Dance lessons/recital.
5. Music Festival.
1. Playing with the neighbour's kittens.
2. Birthday party at the twin's farm.
3. Having a White Christmas.
4. Seeing lots of bunnies.
2. The twin's birthday party (different twins than Sweetpea's friends).
3. Beaver Camp
How would you sum up 2010? If you've done some kind of a summary post on your blog, I'd love to see it! Link me up!
For 3 years I've kept this blog, and for three years I've worried about internet safety.
When you're a mom, you worry. You research, you worry, you plan, you worry, you make decisions, and then you worry some more.
(Please say it's not just me.)
I've kept my identity to myself, given my children and husband codenames, and kept my actual location as vague as possible.
And now I'm outing myself.
Come see me over here. Find out my real name and (eventually) location.
Of all the hurdles and concerns of starting a new business, this is actually one of the most worrisome parts for me. I wondered if I should make this blog, my personal blog, private, or even do away with it altogether.
But I don't want to.
Every single reason I had for starting it still exists. It's still my diary, my letters to home, my scrapbook and showcase and way of connecting with friends.
So I'll leave things as they are over here. We'll stay chummy and unprofessional and full of TMI and rants and all the superfluous fluff that doesn't belong on a business site.
At the Regional Super Saturday in PEI on the weekend, the youth were randomly divided into teams and sent on a photo scavenger hunt in downtown Charlottetown. We had to turn in our lists at the end, but my team managed to find 27 out of the 32 things. Yay team! Here are a few of our finds:
There are more photos in an album on my facebook page. If you want to add me as a friend so you can see them, send me a message so I know who you are. I keep my security pretty tight to protect my kids.
1. The kids aren't home yet, but I'm declaring the first week of school a success. Everyone is happy to be with their friends again, everyone likes their teachers, everyone is settling in just fine. Including the Mama.
2. It has been cold and rainy all week, starting with Hurricane Earl on Saturday (no damage here, thanks!). You may think this is bad, but LAST week we had temps of 30C++ and 110% humidity. It. Was. Awful. I'll take the rain for now! Besides, the weather has inspired me to return to the kitchen, which I had shunned for most of the summer. Right now I have a big pot of chili simmering in the slow cooker. Ergo, rain=good.
3. I finally, FINALLY created chore charts for the kidlets. I purchased the stickers for said charts over a year ago and kept putting it off. Dumb! I fixed them up on Tuesday while the kids were at school and we have success! I LOVE that chores are getting done eagerly and, most importantly, without any nagging. Why, oh, why didn't I make these as soon as the inspiration hit? Right now the stickers are reward enough but I think we're going to work out a rewards system of some sort. A ticket for a full chart? And so many tickets for a prize? We're still in the talking out stage. Anyone out there who's got a successful system, I'd love to hear it!
4. I'm going to start the Couch-to-5K program that everyone is talking about. Tomorrow will be my first day. Which gives me time to find the cheap little MP3 player we won at a Christmas party 2 years ago and figure out how to download one of the podcasts that are supposed to help you. Because my watch does not have a timer and I doubt I'm coordinated enough to run OR walk while watching my wrist. If I make it through the 9 weeks without dying I will buy myself a new pair of sneakers, because I still have the pair I bought in high school, some 15 years ago. Which tells you much too much about how little I exercise.
5. The Book of Stories class has started at BPS. It's only day 2 and I love the way it has me thinking and reminiscing and just feeling good. Love it! There's still time to sign up if you're interested. I'm also considering taking Cathy Z's, Me: The Abridged Version. Not because I particularly care about the class, simply because I'm a total CZ groupie. Anyone want to try to talk me in or out of it? I'm on the fence right now.
6. Because now I'm on a roll. The leaves are turning. One of my trees is almost red. I know I say this every year, but doesn't seem to come earlier and earlier? We actually first noticed the leaves turning when we were driving to swimming lessons in early August. What?
7. A bonus photo. Because I can't post twice in a row without one. And I've already gone past 5, so why not keep going?
Cavendish Beach, PEI. I'll tell you all about our trip one of these days. I love the island.
I've been taken to task a couple of times now for failing to update the blog. I'm trying! Really! I'm trying to be better. Sort of. We've been enjoying the last bits of our summer and not being tethered to the computer, so I'm afraid I'm not feeling toooo bad. We'll be back to school in a week and a half though, and then I'll have SO much time to update you guys. I have to admit, I'm really looking forward to getting back on schedule and having some time to myself again.
So to catch you up and fill you in, here's something we did only last week! That's not so long ago, friends!
Our Relief Society (ladies auxiliary at church) planned a cultural outing--we went into Fredericton to see the Changing of the Guard in Officer's Square, then had a picnic lunch and enjoyed a lunchtime performance from this cool drama club called the Calithumpians. Then we wandered across to the lighthouse for ice cream.
Is ice cream cold?
I seriously could have photographed these guys (and GALS!!! So awesome!) all day. I have an album up on facebook with way more images--and those are just my favourites from the day. I took so many. I had no idea it would be such an awesome experience. Of course the kids weren't nearly as impressed. It was hot and sunny and they just wanted to get to the shade and the picnic.
Which we finally did. Soooo much cooler under the trees. And fun to sit and eat and laugh.
Check out the difference between sun and shade:
The kids loved the play...and the acorns they found while waiting for the play to start.
After the play was over we washed up at the washroom and then went over to the lighthouse. By then several of the sisters had already left and it was a very small group of us. I didn't think anything could distract my kids from ice cream, but they were WAY more interested in the lighthouse than the ice cream. We paid the admission and then they RAN to the top. There are all kinds of cool photos on the walls and activities for kids to explore, but my gang didn't even pause to notice them. To the top!
One thing my kiddos learned this summer is that they're not tall enough to reach the viewfinders anywhere. Ok, they were never tall enough, but they never noticed them before now. This year they NOTICED them and also noticed that they're not tall enough. Sweetpea comes the closest:
But seriously, who needs a viewfinder to check out views like this?
Oh, and did you want to see the kids? Brace yourself for a typical tourist shot:
The kids agreed that it was a really fun day, and we did linger a bit to play on our way down again. And OF COURSE there was the promised ice cream at the bottom. No photos of that though, because I believe that ice cream and my good camera don't mix!
We had lots of time before and after the changing of the guard, which isn't until 11am. On the way to Officer's Square from the parking place we passed a school museum which looked interesting, and on the way back we went over the little pedestrian bridge from the lighthouse to the parking area, and found ourselves right at the doors to the library. And of course there is Cora's! Mmmmm. We love Cora's. So I think I'd love to do this again some day next summer (because the Calithumpians are almost done for this summer) and bring Hubby. Start with breakfast at Cora's, check out that little museum, do the changing of the guard and picnic in the park, lighthouse and ice cream and top it out with some quality library time. For our little family, that would be total bliss.
There are a lot of other things to do and see downtown. I'm sad to admit that while Officer's Square has been one of my favourite photo shoot locations, I haven't taken time to really SEE what's there to explore and discover. It's fun to find that Fredericton really is a cool place to be.
It's been over a month and I know you've been waiting.
My very first newborn photo shoot was with the ADORABLE Keifer. Keifer is the first born of my friends D and J and they have been waiting for him for a very long time. I was delighted to meet him at last.
Keifer decided to put me through my paces. Believe me I worked for every image! We did our photoshoot when he was only 7 days old and he was SO alert. He was definitely not interested in sleeping through our first meeting. Here he is mad at me because I unwrapped him to get some photos of his perfect toes.
I know the focus is off but I love it. It reminds me of life with my own littles.
You know what calms a guy down though? A little one on one time with Dad.
Once Dad got him asleep we hit upon the secret to Keifer's happiness: Dude likes it HOT! I knew most babies liked to be kept warm, and I'd certainly done my homework and knew to work in a hot room, but I had no idea ANYONE could enjoy the temperatures that this little man preferred. It was a hot day, with temps in the high 20's (that's Celsius) and the humidex making it feel like the 30's. We'd closed all the windows and doors and turned off the fans as soon as I arrived. Mom and Dad and I were dripping with sweat and Keifer still wasn't happy...until we got out the blankets and the heating pad.
Ahhhh, that's the ticket! Hot=happy
Isn't he delicious?
Check out the baby fuzz and little baby rolls. I'm completely in love.
Oh, and you didn't seriously think I left without a photo of those toes, did you?
Thank you D and J for letting Keifer teach me all about being a newborn photographer. You know I'd be happy to let him teach me more as he grows! I loved every minute!
***A note for photographers: I shoot with a Canon Rebel XTi. It's a trusty camera and my other baby, but there's a great deal of noise produced in shooting anything ISO 800 or over. I was shooting in a tiny apartment in the evening and determined not to have to resort to my flash. For this reason, I shot everything with my 50mm 1.8II, wide open, ISO 400 and at 1/50 or even 1/40s. The walls were painted a really bright orange, which looked phenomenonal (LOVE the apartment) but made for a whole lot of colour cast issues. I did work to fix the colour and presented colour and B&W to the parents, but tend to prefer the B&Ws myself. (Actually, I love B&W baby photos, period.) And yes, Keifer christened me. ;)
The title of this blog comes from my best friend's mom; who critiqued my high school English journal as "full of superfluous fluff". This is where I embrace all that fluff and share it with you in its pure, unedited, rambling glory.