Thursday, May 19, 2011

To my daughter on her first birthday

My little angel, it’s only been a year but I feel like you have always been here.  I waited for you for so very long; waiting and wishing not so patiently at times but you came at the perfect time in my life.  I was ready for you, I knew what I wanted for you and I have become the mother I have always wanted to be because of you.
 I cannot believe I helped to create something so beautiful, so amazing.  When I hold you in my arms, I know I am meant to hold you forever.  When I am not with you, I miss your big beautiful eyes and your addicting smile.  It is amazing to watch you grow up as you take the centre stage.  You are different from me as you like to have all eyes on you and yet we are so much the same. 
I have held you very close to me for the past year because the world seemed to scare you.   When you were born and for two months after, you cried and cried.  When I placed you in our sling, you were immediately consoled and this became your safe place where you learnt to trust the world.  This did not prevent you from exploring your surroundings; in fact, I think it helped you become comfortable with them.  You are one of the most independent babies I have ever known.  We go to playgroup and you go play right away.  You love to go to daycare and I never have to worry that you can’t handle it. 
We have lasted one full year nursing which I think is a wonderful accomplishment since most babies don't even last a month.  I think that I am so lucky that I have a convenient way to calm you when you are upset.  The five or ten minutes that you nurse for are five or ten minutes that I get to hold you for.  Since I have so few opportunities to hold you close anymore, I value that time that we have together.
You know what you want out of life and nothing is going to get in your way.  You are social and creative.  You are the best parts of your parents.  I hope I can help you channel your gifts in a positive way so that you can share your talents with the world because I see great things for you little one.
I love you my boo.  Happy first birthday.

Things that Julia is doing at one
·         She is walking and starting to run
·         She can climb on things
·         She loves to play with her dolls
·         She can say “up, baby, kitty, daddy, mom, mangia (eat in Italian), what’s that, hi, bye”
·         She can sign eat and milk “properly”.  She can sign all done and more her own way.  She understands the “change” and “diaper” signs and will walk to her room if they are signed.
·         She loves to hang out in the fridge going through all of our food.
·         She loves to eat.  She also loves to eat pretty much anything.
·         She could spend hours outside, playing in the dirt.
·         She dances to any music that comes on
·         She waves bye
·         She follows her brothers all around the house
·         She loves to play with our dog Summer
·         She doesn’t like TV but if Glee or Backyardigans comes on she will listen when songs  come on
·         She enjoys sitting quietly reading books

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Favourite Part of Our Day

I have just finished my favourite part of the day - Our daily walk.  It all starts about two hours after Julia wakes up in the morning; she gets quite cranky and clingy.  I know this means that she needs sling time with mommy.  I get her dressed for outside and slide her into our ring sling where she immediately settles in and calms down.  Being worn seems to center her and she is able to relax.  This is how we take our daily walks - Julia in the sling, tummy to tummy with her mom.
We tried the stroller, she just does not like it.  Maybe she can't see as much, maybe the world is just so overwhelming along in that stroller.  I don't mind, I like having her close to me.
We don't really talk during our walks.  Sometimes I point things out to her.  This is our quiet time together which we don't get very often anymore.  Julia has learnt the gift of gab and can now walk, so for the majority of the day she is very busy and loud.  While we walk we enjoy each others company and listen to the sounds around us.  Eventually Julia falls into a deep sleep.  This is when we return home so mommy can start work while Julia has her morning nap.

A side note for those of you who think poorly of babywearing:  I "wear" my baby many times a day.  This is usually how she falls asleep for nap time and bedtime.  When she is cranky and wants my attention, she goes into the sling.  Julia is only needy when she is tired or sick which are the times she spends the most time in the sling.  As she grows, she does not need as much time in the sling.  BUT, babywearing does not make my daughter clingy or less independent than other babies.  In fact, I think the opposite.  My daughter has met all milestones on time or before other babies.  She sat up at four months, crawled on her six month birthday, started furniture walking at 6.5 months, and started walking at 10 months.  She is also already has a vocabulary of 7-10 words. When we go to play group, she is often the first baby to go off to play independently and she is comfortable with me leaving her with a sitter.  I have built trust with her and she feels safe to venture away from me. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Julia's First Steps

soooo...Mike says these are not really her "first steps" because she didn't stand up on her own and walk...but these steps look pretty real to me so they count!  This girl is going to be walking on her own in no time.  This was the second time she walked on her own last night.  poor baby was getting so frusterated at this point so she doesn't actually look happy.  I have the first time on video but the video was wayyy too long and I couldn't edit it, I really wish that I could put the first video on because she actually took about five-six steps before getting to me.  If I ever figure it out I will post it later.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eight Months old and growing fast!

It's been a really long time since I have been able to sit down and write a post for this blog.  I am in the process of writing four parenting related posts that feel like they will never get written.  Maybe I will get some writing done while Julia and I are in Florida. 
What I have been busy doing you might ask?  Keeping up with my little lady!  What a busy little girl I have.  The older she gets, the more independant she gets while still making sure that mommy is within looking range.
So here are all the new things that Julia is doing:  Yesterday on her eight month birthday she started clapping her hands.  I have video of it down below that you have to check out because it is REALLY cute.  She is furniture walking and is getting more daring every day.  She can now stand up using a wall, door, fridge, chair, couch, table...just about anything.  She lets go of what she is holding onto for short periods of time and will go from one thing to another. 
Today her dad had her standing up in the kitchen by herself.  The best time I didn't catch on video of course but I do have some video.
She is babbling so much and at times it really does sound like is is saying real words. 
She has managed to do without her soother during the day and only has it when it is nap time or she is in the car.  I am so proud of her (and myself for not relying on it so much).
This stage is so much fun as I watch her little personality developing.  She is definetly going to be a drama queen though!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I used to call her high needs, but she's just vivacious

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vivacious as "lively temper, conduct or spirit" 

I remember making my list of things that I wanted before Julia was born.  I wanted a Jumperoo, man those things are cool!  It is a free standing jolly jumper with toys.  I definitely needed a swing, Matthew spent hours in his swing and we could have a whole day of napping with him in the swing.  It was wonderful…feed him, change him, put him in the swing and nap.  Next, was an exersaucer…Matthew loved his and it entertained him for long periods of time.  I needed floor playmats and lots of toys…oh! And a bouncy chair and Bumbo.  I wanted a three wheeled stroller because I loved walking the trails around our house.  I thought all of these things would make my life easier and keep my baby occupied during the day so that I could go about my business as per usual.
The first night with Julia was the hardest.  She cried and cried for hours on end.  I don’t know what went through Mike’s head that night, but I know I wondered what the hell we had got ourselves into.  This was supposed to be easy…we had waited ten years for this moment.  We were older, more mature and prepared for this baby.  Why couldn’t we stop her from crying?  My doula came to visit us the next day and assured us that she would get easier to deal with around three months.  I couldn’t imagine going through three months of no sleep.  I was told that I needed to let her cry and that I couldn’t pick her up all the time.  She just looked so little and vulnerable that I couldn’t imagine letting her cry it out.  I tried the no cry sleep solution at one point.  For about five minutes and then I couldn’t handle it anymore.  My husband told me once that we should just let her cry and that it would not hurt her.  I told him that it would hurt her because she would lose trust in us.  He tried a few more times to get me to let her cry but eventually gave up.

Julia needed to be held all the time and she would easily get bored in certain positions.  She was not happy in the swing and would cry harder if you put her in there.  Occasionally she would fall asleep in the swing, but not enough to make it worth keeping.  She was colicky, I cut out dairy from my diet which helped quite a bit but she still cried and needed to be held.  She seemed to be sensitive to smells, she would cower from loud noises, she resisted being swaddled, she hated the bathtub and would cringe whenever I would carry her down the stairs however I was carrying her. She did not like being around people that were not her parents.  Even at a few weeks old she had stranger anxiety; for the first time ever, my grandmother was not able to calm a baby.   She hated all of her plastic toys; she would only spend a few minutes in her exersaucer before she was bored.  To entertain her, I would spend hours on the floor every day playing with her, singing to her and just talking to her.  I kept telling people that she was hypersensitive to life. 

Julia in our pouch sling getting ready for a nap

Eventually I started using my sling.  I had a hard time getting used to using it but I am happy that I remained persistent.  Julia was so content in the sling…it did not matter how cranky she had been…as soon as she was in the sling, she was calm and quiet.  Even the sounds that used to scare her didn’t when she was in the sling, she was comfortable going down the stairs and she interacted with other people.  Currently, Julia is in the sling right before her morning nap where she falls asleep, before her afternoon nap where she falls asleep and often, before bedtime where she also falls asleep.   I also use my sling whenever I shop or go to church.  I now own three slings; one pouch style and two ring slings (one for the house and one for the car).  I would walk Julia in her awesome three wheeler stroller every day until she started to scream every time she went into it.  We stopped walking because it was so miserable until I realized that I could take her for a walk while she was in her sling.  We started to enjoy walks again AND I could talk with her about what she was seeing. 

I remember the day when my cousin commented on the fact that I was going to have a very needy toddler because I was practicing attachment parenting.  I had no idea what attachment parenting really was so I became worried that I was doing something wrong.  I started reading Dr. Sears’ ‘Attachment Parenting Book’ to learn more about the parenting style I was using with my daughter.  What I learnt was that I did not pick this style of parenting, but had it forced upon me by my daughter.  Was this a bad thing?  No, not at all.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to have this type of parenting brought to my attention.  I did not choose AP; I listened to my daughter and followed what she needed from me.  If she had been an easy baby, it may have been simple to forget about her while she played with her exersaucer or spent hours in her swing.  I would not have had the opportunity to learn my daughter and her personality the way I have.  We have such a strong bond from the hours of holding her in my arms and lying on the floor beside her.  I would not exchange the time I put into our relationship for anything.  Who cares that I did not do the dishes right away or didn’t get to watch my favourite show on TV.  I may not be able to go out with my husband on a date right now, but she will need me for such a short time in her life.  This will not last forever even though it may sometimes feel like it.
Looking back, I wish I had known what I know now.  I did not need all those plastic toys.  I needed a sling (or three), a lot of patience and understanding.  The backyard was also great to have as it broke up the evening with our hour long discovery walks.
My high needs baby is now seven months old.   Many things have changed and many have stayed the same.  We still spend a lot of time in the sling, but now that she can crawl she is busy exploring her surroundings when she is not in the sling.  It didn’t take her long to roll over, sit up and crawl; she had places to go and people to see.  She still prefers sleeping in my bed with her hand on my arm to make sure I don’t go anywhere, but occasionally she’ll give me a few hours sleep on my own.  I no longer consider her a high needs baby; she just has a vivacious personality and I can’t wait to see the great things that she does in life.
I remember being asked a short time ago if she was high needs because she was a breastfed baby.  I just answered no at the time, but I have had a lot of time to really think about the answer.  Julia is high needs because of her personality.  I could have chosen to ignore her cues, let her cry it out, forced her to conform to my lifestyle but it would have killed her spirit.  She may have cried harder and I would have begun to resent her because she was such a cranky baby.  Or maybe at some point she would have given up crying, not because she was happy but because she no longer trusted me to take care of her needs.  She wouldn’t be the amazing little girl that I see today. 
Julia will never be that quiet little kid; she will always be loud and adventurous and curious.  I do not mind being with her all the time; I know that it is what she needs right now.  I am not spoiling her; I am giving her what she needs right now.  I will not be one of those moms who look back and say that she was so much work…that I will think twice before having any more kids because it was too hard; my daughter was a gift, high needs and all.  I have learned so much from raising Julia; I have grown as a person and as a mom.  I have become passionate about many things because of her high needs, breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, natural products and wholesome foods.  I will never resent the time and effort I have put into this little angel.  I want other parents to learn from me and Julia whether they have high need babies or not.   All babies can benefit from the way I am raising Julia.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Our Holidays (beware - really long post)

Finally I have a few minutes to sit down and write about our Christmas.  With Mike off of work, the whole family sick for the last two weeks and Christmas arrangements I have not had a second to myself…and when I did, I wanted to nap not blog.
So Christmas preparations started for us on November 26th, when we put up our Christmas tree and decorations.  I actually hate decorating the Christmas tree.  I like things done a particular way and my kids have picked up on this over the years…now they push my buttons with the things that drive me crazy.  I also don’t like references such as “we should replace the angel on our tree with the devil”…I think that if you want to celebrate Christmas then you should have belief in the reason for the day…just my opinion.  So, I have pictures of everyone else decorating the tree while I sat on the couch holding my tongue (which did not work out so well for me).  We have always had a real tree for Christmas.  Our first two Christmas’s together we actually went out into the bush to cut down our tree.  But that second Christmas, as we were taking down our tree we realized that there were bug cocoons all over the tree.  We started buying our trees from Home Depot after that nightmare!  This year we finally got modern decorations and tried to have a theme for our tree. 
I have lost the pictures from this day...I will find them I am sure, but I wanted to post this instead of waiting until I found the pictures.
Fast forward to the 10th of December which was set aside for the Minelli family Christmas celebration.  I know…really early, but try getting all of us together without conflicts.  This evening calls for a lot of preparation.  Nana takes all of the cousins (Cody, Emily, Nathan, Matthew, Sam and Julia) out shopping.  Each child buys a present for each of their cousins and their parents.  On the 10th the kids were able to open their presents.  It is amazing how well these kids know each other and how they can chose something appropriate without going over budget.   We also have an amazing dinner and spend some much needed time together. 
Nathan and Nana



Mike and Julia




Julia opening her presents

Nathan opening his presents

Matthew opening his presents

Sammy opening his presents

Emily opening her presents

Cody opening his presents

Nona with her great grand children

Our boys left four days before Christmas to spend time with their other parents.  We did not have them Christmas morning but they returned to us for supper on Christmas day.  We had thirty people at our house for dinner, most of them Mike’s family.  Actually, I only had my parents there from my side of the family.  Nona was ecstatic that her whole family was together for Christmas as it has been many years that we have been able to celebrate together.  She made a big speech and brought tears to our eyes.  I had lots of help with cooking dinner: Tony and Laure (family friends) made the bread, brought fruit and brandy; Barb (Mike’s mom) made the head cheese (yuck), lasagna and gravy; Marilyn and Hans (my mom and stepdad) made the cabbage rolls, Mike (my husband) made the mashed potatoes and helped me make the perogies and Nona put together the salad.  Everything went off without a hitch and I had so much fun.

Nona with ALL of her great grand children
Our Christmas morning was actually on Boxing Day.  Mike’s parents and my mom and stepdad came over first thing in the morning for Julia’s first Christmas.  The boys were pretty excited when they got their IPod’s (lucky kids!).  They enjoyed all of their gifts this year.  We kept the amount of presents they got this year to a minimum since we usually go overboard.  Julia was very cute opening presents although of course she wasn’t really too much into it.  Summer opened her own gifts this year, it was pretty funny.

Matthew got his Ipod touch

Boxing Day afternoon, my dad and brother came over for some quality time together.  All the boys went skidooing for a bit in the afternoon and then we had an early supper.  I do not have any pictures unfortunately…don’t know why I didn’t remember to pull out my camera.
The boys are gone again to their other parents so it was just the three of us for New Years Eve.  Julia did not make it to the end of the night, she is still a little sick.  Mike and I made it 12:01 and then we went to bed.  For New Years day, we invited Nona and Marco over for dinner.  Nona was unable to make it because she was sick but Marco came and it was nice to spend some time with him (he did not make it to Christmas dinner).

Julia's first meal of the new year

This is what we were doing on 01-01-11  at 11:11
That’s it…our Christmas.  I know, quite a long post…would have been better to break it up but like I said, I have just been too busy!!  I hope everyone had a happy and safe Christmas/New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Julia and her fear of the bathtub

Julia has had a fear of the bath tub since the day she was born.  Maybe it had to do with the fact that she pooped on her dad the first time she had a bath, maybe it’s the bright lights or the vastness of the huge tub.  Who knows…but we tortured her and ourselves many times before we had the brilliant idea to start bathing her in the kitchen sink.

Julia had quite the set up in the kitchen sink.  Her dad would set up towels in the sink so that she would have her own little relaxing spa.  She seemed to be happier with the arrangement for many months.  But then something happened.  She got bigger.  She no longer fit in the sink and she was no longer comfortable.  She started to get upset again every time she had a bath and it was again a traumatic experience. 
Then I had a brainwave.  If Julia was afraid of the big bathtub by herself why wouldn’t I get in the tub with her?  At first, Julia would only go in the bath tub if I was holding her tightly to me.  She had to be facing me and sitting on my chest.  She would not touch the water with her hands and she still cried when she was washed even though I tried to do it very gently.  When she looked at the front of the tub, it seemed to be that she was afraid of the faucet.  She really enjoyed being able to nurse in the tub when she got upset and I also found it very relaxing to nurse her in the tub.
It was amazing watching the progression of her enjoyment in the tub.  First she started to interact with me more and then the semi splash started.  Not a full splash…just a hand in the tub and moving the water around.  Then one day the full splash came but not too much because otherwise it would get her in the face.  Every so often I would try facing her forwards (away from me) to see if she had become more comfortable with her surroundings.  It was always the same though, she would cry and I would turn her back towards me. 
I remember the day that she let me turn her around and keep her there.  It was also the day where her splashes became more confident.  I started bringing her rubber ducky and a water book in the water with us.  She slowly became more adventurous and would play with her toys happily.  Her splashes were huge and she didn’t even care if she got splashed in the process. 
Then came the day that she stood up in the tub (with me holding her of course).  She even walked up to the faucet and played with the bath sponge that dangled from it.  She has become a confident little girl in the bathtub all thanks to a mom who didn’t push her to overcome her fears.  I could have forced her to have miserable screaming baths until she either gave up crying or maybe she would have never got over her fear of the bathtub.  Instead, I listened to what she needed and held her hand through the tough times.  I have not yet attempted to let her have a bath by herself, it did take four months to get to the point that we are at now.  I won’t do it until she is ready even if that means I am still bathing with her when she is four.