Author Archives: melanie

A break in the Jamaican sun

Back to blogging and real life after a week away in paradise! I usually blog while I’m away – I love getting the little stories down before I can forget them, but the resort we stayed at didn’t have wifi in the rooms. Bummer! So I’ll just add a few posts sketching out the highlights, and borrowing some photos since I didn’t take as many as usual.

It was a great trip. There were 64 people all together for the wedding – easy-going, funny, loud, quiet, sweet, wonderful people. Moments either seemed to be jostling and full of noise and people, like our arrival at the airport: we got in line behind about fifty others and were quickly ushered to the front so we could get settled faster, amidst smiles and hellos and tummy tickles for Baby J.

Then, our arrival in Jamaica after a great, crying-free (for us) flight as we all bustled onto this bus, shoving suitcases and strollers, juggling carry-ons and snacks and well, a baby, surrounded by excited voices as we took in the dusky light and warm weather on our way to the resort.

resort life

Once we got to our room, it was the other kind of moment that filled in many spaces on our trip: quietly alone in our bubble of three as we tried to settle Baby J in a tiny crib with his blanket. He could pop up and see us from everywhere in the room, so we hid out in the bathroom and sneakily ate room service hamburgers.

We settled into a routine of stuffing ourselves at the morning buffet where there was everything from freshly made omelets to tropical fruit, breads, waffles, bacon and other dishes; Baby J really liked eating chickpeas in tomato sauce, taking bites of pancake, and drinking the carrot-mango juice. We’d spend some time letting him wander the stone pathways criss-crossing between the building and the pool, gently brushing his fingers over glossy green leaves, poking at pink and white blooms, and getting into the dirt.

resort Rose Hall

Most afternoons were spent talking to people, walking the beach and feeling the water on our feet, swimming in the pool, or hanging out at the kids club where they had a great little waterpark, ball pit, sand filled with shovels and trucks and a play structure.

playing in the sand

walrus

One nap would be in our room, in his crib or our bed, and one would be in his stroller so we could get out and lounge by the pool or head into the water and the swim-up bar. With lots of family, there were lots of people more than willing to hang out with him and give us a break, and we did take advantage a few times. One night we left him with Tyler’s aunt and uncle and headed to the glimmering waters, an open stretch of brackish water that lit up when you touched it because of the plankton (?) living there. The bottom of the water felt like silt and it was warm against the dark night.

When we got back we learned that he’d been sick and was snoozing but I felt badly that we weren’t around. Scary when you aren’t at home – and many people offered suggestions as to what the cause could be – but luckily he rallied quickly and was his regular happy self, for the most part, the next day.

sunset in Jamaica

Many mornings, I felt a little pang of jealousy as I would listen to everyone recount the hilarious and fun things that happened the night before, well after I took the little guy back to our room for the night, and everyone else met up at the lobby bar, at the disco, watched shows and amused themselves. I commented once to one of the other girls that I missed out on all the fun. Later that day, in the pool, I was getting in the water when Baby J reached for me and squealed happily as he nestled into my arms, resting his head on my shoulder. I felt a tap on my other shoulder, and the same girl said: And that’s why you shouldn’t feel like you are missing out on anything.

So, so true.

baby in dinosaur robe

baby in dino robe

The first birthday party

Just like that, my little pumpkin head is a whole year old! It’s true that it goes by fast, but I also feel like I had lots of nice moments with him, walks outside, songs at night, and exploring the house, learning to open his fists, trying out different food for the first time, splashing in the bathtub, crawling around, playing.

He’s always surprising us with new things. Like saying “ahhhh!” after taking a nice refreshing drink of water. Or pointing at a picture of Herman when asked. He has a sparkle in his eye and an easy grin. He’s a good-natured, easy-going guy, stopping to sit and focus, then off to the next thing. I see determination in him, and curiosity. I feel proud of him and love his blooming personality.

baby bottle

We had a little party for him on Sunday – just immediate family – which ended up being about 15 people plus us. I had all these big crafty plans, of course, but then Thursday night turned into colds and teething and quite a few sad wake-up calls. I also scrapped a lot of decorating time to spend HOURS putting together our gift to Baby J – his own shiny red kitchen!

I made a bunch of easy food – sandwiches, crackers and cheese, garlic dip and veggies – and people brought all kinds of salads, so we had a nice time eating and watching Baby J open gifts. He got spoiled with toys and lots of nice things, and was very interested in the balloons we’d blown up, carrying them around, kicking them along the floor, staring and smiling up at them.

birthday balloons

presents

After napping through the first hour or so, Baby J was a bit shocked at the full house of his favourite people when he woke up, but he warmed up and wandered around the party guests like a tiny person. He’s a pretty sturdy walker now, can stand up from sitting on the ground without needed to grab onto anything, and crawling is a thing of the past.

bday presents

herm party

One thing I did get around to, was going through countless photos and choosing one from each week, for 52 weeks of the last year, printing them as squares, and taping them up above our couch. Everyone liked looking at them – including the birthday boy who would point and make sounds every time we walked him past. I tried to include milestones if I had them captured – first food, first swim, first Halloween costume. It was a neat way to see how he’s changed over the last year.

52 weeks wall

52 weeks wall

My grandparents were able to make it, so we got a photo of four generations too!

4 generations

Even though he was a little dopey from the cold-teeth combo, he seemed to enjoy his party pretty well and entertained everyone when he got his very own huge hunk of birthday cake (homemade by my mom), squishing and squeezing and gobbling it up. He dug in happily with both hands and really enjoyed himself.

bday cake

cake smash

Happy birthday to my not so little baby!

Thankful: The First Year

I’ve had a busy weekend and didn’t even check my email until now, Sunday night. Unheard of! All three of us are sick, stuffy, and miserable, and one of us also seems to be teething, drooling heavily and complaining loudly at all hours. So, we’ve not had a lot of sleep around here.

But – it was also a major milestone on Friday. My Baby J’s first birthday! One year since he came flying into the world, as anxious to meet us as we were to meet him. Even in his sad state right now, he’s made this last year the best roller coaster of intense love – a wonderfully steep learning curve.

I’m thankful for this, and for so many other things.

The first few days
I’m so glad everything worked out, after bed rest and the threat of prematurity, to a quick labour, and the time we spent at first in the hospital figuring things out. Those first few days knowing that you’re fully responsible for this little, quietly breathing being and life will never be the same no matter what happens.

How far we have come
I realize now I really knew very little about raising an infant. But I was determined to learn and read a lot, tried things, was as relaxed as I could be, and I think we did a good job. We have a happy, pretty healthy baby and I hope it’s a good sign that we will be able to handle the challenges that I’m sure will come up in the years to come.

Someone to sing to
The early days are hazy, all wrapped up in healing and growing to know this little soft lump of sweet smelling skin and floppy limbs. The funny crossed eyes, orange hair sticking out every which way. We spent a lot of time snuggling, sleeping, and singing. I loved rocking and crooning and just marveling over the little miracle we were blessed with.

One of the songs I sing to him quite often is Danny’s song – I know the Anne Murray version – so we recorded it for him on his birthday.

His little arm around my neck.
We filmed the video while Baby J was napping, and then I played it for him once he woke up – his Daddy already gone to an early gig – and as we watched, I felt his arm creep around my neck. I’m thankful he will stop and be affectionate (we watched the video 3 times) even though he’d rather be running around.

hugs

Getting some ME time
I took the day off on Friday which ended up being a good move considering we were all sniffling, grumpy zombies all day. On a whim, I booked a haircut and got out for a trim. I felt a twinge of guilt not spending the entire day with Baby J, but it’s this balancing act of making sure I’m happy and fulfilled too so I can be a better mother. I gabbed with my stylist about labor and parenting and was home in less than an hour feeling re-energized.

Fitting him in
A coworker explained to me once that he liked exposing his kids to everything and bringing them along everywhere – he wants them to fit into their life, rather than making a life based on the kids interests and needs (within reason, of course) and this idea appeals to me. We like taking him out for sushi, going to see music, and I’m glad I can work as well as be a mom. I”m sure it’ll be an ongoing struggle but for now, I hope we can keep fitting him into our lives and everyone staying happy.

Feeling needed
I love that he needs me. I know it’ll be my job to teach him how to be a good human being, but for this first year, I’m thankful that my role right now is to just take care of him. Make sure he’s clean and happy and fed, and as the time passes, the rewards come, starting with that first responsive smile to saying “mama.”

His curiosity
I was thinking about the words I’d use to describe my little guy, and curious is one of them. He gets into things but stops to examine and taste and touch and check again. I’m thankful he is eager to explore his world and that I get to see it.

funny baby

Growing up
Helpless, infant days are behind us and while I’ll miss them, this is more what our lives will be like – working and balancing, rather than me being off – and it’s so fun to see him play and pick things up and try to express himself. I love this stage and I hope I’ll love every stage as they come at us.

The last few days
I’ve felt a bit desperate at moments over the last few days – usually in the wee hours when I just don’t know what to do – and it makes me thankful that we had such an easy baby overall. It also makes me glad that we’re a good team and are able to switch off one person getting some extra sleep while the other takes baby duty. And, despite the foggy tiredness, I’m thankful I have a sweet baby to rock and clutch close to my chest, and whisper to. Not everyone gets that chance, and I would never trade what I have for anything.

That’s it for this week! Tomorrow or the next day I’ll have a recap about the big birthday party we had this weekend, but for now, a little Sunday night reflection on the last year feels nice. Thanks to Lizzi and Louise for the inspiration and the others with great lists as well.

Ten Things of Thankful