Weekend Update in Pictures and Words

My weekend was extended into Monday because I had the stomach flu and my wife had to stay home to look after Avery while I laid in bed all day. So today is my back to reality day. Today is my Monday. 

On Friday when my wife got home from work we put up our new family sized tent in the backyard to check it out before we go camping on the 24th. Avery had a lot of fun. 

 That’s going to be the summary of every day this weekend – Avery had fun. It really doesn’t take much to make this baby happy these days. Of course, it also doesn’t take much to set her off into a whiney fit… She has a lot of emotions. 

On Saturday we went to a friend’s house an hour and a half away and Avery slept blissfully in the car both ways. What a change from her newborn days… She actually LIKES the car now. At our friend’s house Avery played in her first bouncy castle and at her first water table. She also loves playing with (or watching) other kids, and when our friend’s 2 year old kept beckoning for Avery to “come play!” my heart melted a bit and I longed for a second baby. 

Saturday night Avery was really fussy, and seemed really gassy. She was flinching and jerking like she was having jabbing pains, barfed a couple of times, and even while bed sharing all night with me she would wake crying and would whimper in her sleep. I thought it was because I had eaten a lot of dairy at our friend’s house (not an uncommon reaction to dairy), but in hindsight she may have had the stomach bug first… 

On Sunday it was HOT. 31°C (87°F), which is something we’re not used to here after a cold, dreary spring. I ran to the store first thing in the morning and bought Avery a cheap little kid pool, and although we spent most of the day indoors, we braved the heat for an afternoon splash. She LOVED it. Avery had a lot of fun. 

We’ve also been pretty lenient with Avery’s exploring, trying not to helicopter while still making sure she’s safe. We locked a couple of the kitchen cabinets, but we left some unlocked so she can play with pots and pans and measuring cups. Avery had a lot of fun. She’s naked because it was just so hot… 

Also on Sunday my wife built the entire outdoor run for the chicken coop. All that’s left before the big reveal is to add the steel roof to the run and to paint the trim. 

Sunday night I was awake all night with stomach cramps and vomiting. Avery was in bed with us because I couldn’t be getting up with her all night in that state, and she stays asleep all night in our bed. At least we had that working for us. 

By morning I had stopped barfing, but I still had stomach cramps and I was super weak and exhausted. My wife stayed home from work and looked after Avery. It went great as long as I wasn’t in the room with them… Avery did not like that I was laying huddled under a blanket ignoring her. I think she was worried when her Mo would pull her off of me because I couldn’t handle the climbing on my stomach. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t have her mommy. 

But today I feel pretty much completely better, and Avery is much happier being able to climb all over me again. 

Honestly though… I liked the break. Even though I felt like shit, I relished being able to lay in bed and not worry about Avery. And now I’m happier and refreshed going into the rest of the week. 

Have a great week, everyone! 

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To my shy child

One of the most amazing things about being your mom is watching your personality develop and getting to know you as your own person. Even though you’re just a baby still, it’s clear that you are shy, observant, cautious, and sensitive. You’re also a goofball, you love to laugh and be tossed in the air and tickled and mauled by those you trust. But you require trust. You’ve never been the kind of baby who will give away free hugs to strangers, or who will jump right into playing with other babies. You prefer to sit back and watch for a while, deciding in your own time if you feel comfortable entering a situation. 
I love this about you (and not just because it reminds me of myself as a child). Unfortunately, though, some people think that a child needs to come out of their shell in order to “succeed,” and that being shy means you lack independence and confidence. I disagree with those ideas. I know you are a happy, smart, and kind baby who is testing her limits (and mine) in your own way, in your own time. I want you to know that I respect who you are, just the way you are. 

I love that you observe and think first and act later. I think it shows that you will be a conscientious person, aware of how others are feeling and able to respond in a thoughtful way that will bring comfort and love to others. I also think that this trait shows how smart you are. You are so curious about the world around you, and you seem to analyze new situations and environments in your mind first, before exploring physically. 

You’re also cautious. Cautious around new people, animals, and even new toys. Obviously as your parent I appreciate this trait as it’s just a little easier for me to keep you safe! I hate to see you frightened, but when you warm up to something after being afraid before, it’s so much more rewarding. You have to be won over before giving your love to someone/something new. 

My favourite trait that I see developing in you is your sensitivity. I will always remember the time you started crying when one cat attacked the other cat. You also cry when someone makes a painful grimace (like when you bite me while nursing or scratch my eyeball with your sharp baby nails!) You are sensitive to the wellbeing of others and I think it’s amazing that you have shown signs of empathy so early. 

You are such a beautiful soul and I am so lucky to be able to get to know you as you continue to grow and develop over the years to come. I love you more than life itself. 

The Lullaby as a family heirloom

I’m talking about your every day, run of the mill, possibly out of tune (but it doesn’t matter) lullabies. They don’t have to be anything fancy, and they may be the same songs that many other families sang and cherished as their own. But there is something very meaningful and sentimental about these songs. I love the way a lullaby can be passed down from generation to generation like a family heirloom. 

I have very strong memories and a subconscious emotional reaction to the lullaby my mom sang me when I was a baby/young child, and I sing the same lullaby to my own baby now at every nap time and every bedtime. 

My dad sang to me too, but he sang a lot of different songs, and he played his guitar for me, and he played relaxing CDs for me. I have emotional reactions to some of the songs he used to sing as well, but they were something different than The Lullaby that my mom used. From a psychological perspective, a Lullaby is used (intentionally or unintentionally) to condition a sleep response. It is used repeatedly at sleep times to cue that it’s time to sleep, and eventually hearing that particular lullaby will make the child feel sleepy. I have to think that such a deeply conditioned song would stick around in one’s memory and continue to evoke an emotional response later in life. Interestingly, it may also trigger a sleep response in me – I yawn my way through it when I sing to my baby the lullaby my mom sang to me as a baby. 

Avery now reacts instantly to our lullaby. She relaxes, closes her eyes, and her arms stop flailing as she rests her hand on me while she nurses to sleep. 

In case anyone’s wondering, my family heirloom lullaby is All The Pretty Horses. Side note: old lullabies like that tend to have subtly disturbing lyrics. A quick Wikipedia search of this lullaby suggests that the song was originally sung by Africans slaves who couldn’t care for their babies because they had to care for their masters, and some versions make reference to buzzards pecking out their eyes. We don’t sing that verse…. 

What lullaby has a special place in your memory? Do you have a family heirloom lullaby? 

So negative lately 

I’ve always been an eternal optimist. To an obnoxious extent. It took a lot of formal and informal education for me to learn that active listening and empathy required not always looking for the positive in people’s experiences. Sometimes people just need to experience a negative emotion. Sometimes negative feelings can’t, or even shouldn’t, be avoided. 

Although I understand now that some negative emotions need to be expressed, I don’t want to get into a negativity rut. I don’t want to be a negative person, especially around my daughter. My wife caught me off guard this morning when she called me out on my new negative mind set. She said I’ve been so negative about everything for quite a while now. 

It could very well be caused by exhaustion.

It could be caused by the stress of having too much on my plate. 

It could be caused by hormones. 

Or I could be growing into the pessimist personality trait that seems to get passed down on the maternal side of my family once the women reach a certain age. 

What I know is that I have to correct this frame of mind before it changes me. I’m going to start by listing 3 good things that happen every day. I won’t write them all here, but I’ll include today’s in this post. 

1. I got a huge amount of things done today and felt really good about myself. 

2. Avery laughed so much today. 

3. An awkward altercation with a past research advisor resolved itself today.