Monday, 19 January 2015

Annie's 1st Birthday

My darling chuffle-bug,

It seems so hard to believe that you are already one. I sure understand why the babies in the family always get babied. You are still so small & precious, even if you’re turning into a toddler at an alarming rate.

Your birthday morning
When I look at you, it’s hard to believe that you were such a tiny, helpless little thing such a short time ago. I still remember holding you all night in the hospital, trying to warm you back up after your UV treatment. These days you are often too busy to sit for a hug, but I know not to worry about that too much – once you learn that the world will always be there to explore I know you’ll be ready to cuddle again.

You are such a funny little girl. You like to dress up in ribbons, bows, & fancy dresses but it is often pot-luck as to whether a stranger will get one of your beautiful smiles or a goblin-growl when they compliment you. Perhaps you’re just tired of hearing about what beautiful eyes you have! You are a very determined little girl and you like to believe that you’re in charge. When we displease you, you try to smack us & shout, but then either immediately apologise or run off telling us “no Annie, no Annie!”

You are very good at talking and can express your desires with little trouble. You pretend mischief more than you actually cause it. You love to sit & read books and to play with your baby dolls & stuffed animals, although you’re happy to drive trucks & trains whenever Walter is not looking. You are a complete & total daddy’s girl, although when it comes to drinking milk & having snugggles in the middle of the night only mummy will do.

There is so much less worrying with a second baby. It has been a delight to be able to relax and enjoy your baby ways while we get to know you. Walter adores you, when he's not fighting with you, and names the prettiest character on all his shows "Baby Annie". You are a special, special little precious, a bundle of sweetness & light, and we cannot imagine life without you.



And a few shots from Annie's Afternoon Tea Garden Party:

Nana pulled out a selection of her finest china for us to use!

Bunny cakes!

Your ladybug pendant, all the way from Israel

Monday, 12 January 2015

What I meant to say on our anniversary (August 7th wasn't that long ago, right?)

I began penning this on our four year anniversary. I’d been up since somewhere around 3am. First the baby woke me up. Then, just as I was falling back asleep, David woke me up with his coughing & blanket scrounging. Summer colds – no fun for anyone. By 5am I figured I might as well give up on trying to get back to sleep, since the wee sma’s always give me terrible anxiety if I’m laying awake trying to sleep.

I’ve reckoned it up: 4 years married, in which we lived in 3 different countries, had 2 babies, and completed 1 PhD. As David jokingly reminded someone yesterday, we’ve been living out of suitcases for the past five years. So I’ve summed up the past four years as “not easy, but worth it”.

And now it’s quarter to ten at night on our anniversary. My plan for the day – let David sleep in until 10 or 11 and then get him to watch the kids while I took a nap. We’d have a nice relaxing day at home and then head into town for an early supper with Deacon Harrison, Walter’s Godfather, in order to celebrate Walter’s recent birthday. I’d come home refreshed & relaxed and spend part of the evening finding the perfect balance of romance & reality for this post.

In actual fact, I spent the majority of the day at the hospital. David woke up seriously ill. I drove him to the hospital and helped him check in to Emerg, then drove off with the kids to find lunch, then drove back to find out what was up, and then waited with two well behaved but not easy kids. And then it turns out that David has double pneumonia....

This brings me back around to where my thoughts were heading this morning, when I couldn’t find the words to say what I wanted to. I wanted to sell you, and my future self, the idea that with the right person marriage is easy. That with the right person at your side, you can fight the good fight & weather the storm without really having to deal with the messiness of reality. That good communication means always making the right decision & never struggling. I wanted to look back at these past four years of marriage, these past ten years together, and say YES – life is perfect and has always been perfect and will always be perfect because we are together.

That’s not reality. Reality is that marriage, like most of the things worth having in life, is a battle, and it seems to be that we either choose to fight with each other or to unite & fight against the world. And it’s messy and it’s hard and it’s not always easy and it’s so much far from the perfection I aspire to. That’s the price we pay for daring to experience life rather than observe it.

Even with all the struggles & difficulties & uncertainties & sleepless nights, we manage to have fun. We’re always going out on adventures and we’ve never let anything stop us from enjoying our time together. We share our love of books & music & movies. I never thought I’d find someone whose interests so closely aligned with mine. I’m sure David never thought he’d manage to find someone who actually enjoyed living in a sea of books & records (we’re never short of things to read or listen to!). We usually understand each other’s sense of humour & our views on religion, politics, & family life are pretty close.

It’s been over ten years since our first date and there are still surprises. There is still that necessity to learn to balance two similar but different personalities: introvert & extrovert, literal & hyperbolic, sense & sensibility...

I’ve been short on words to newlyweds lately. My life has just seemed a bit too difficult & depressing to want to burden those starting on their hopeful voyage with my doses of hard reality. But I think, if anything, I would tell my newlywed friends to stay strong & committed to the promises they made. The hard times will come & go & come again and they are not a sign of failure. They are just the inevitable price we pay for choosing to live.

The picture is almost a year old and it's the best I could do for one of both of us sans-children. Oops!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Walter's Second Birthday (only 5 months late...but I started writing it in August!)

My darling Walter,

Today you are two years old! Time has certainly flown and it is so disconcerting to see you acting more & more like a “big boy” and needing me less & less for the basics (like moving you from place to place or eating). You certainly know your own mind and are very quick to let people know that you mean business when you’ve expressed “mo” or “yeah”.

Every day with you is a delight and parenting you is becoming less of a mystery now that you can communicate a little better. You are most definitely Mommy’s Little Man and we usually spend an hour or more snuggled together, reading books, watching a show or taking a nap. You really get drawn into your playtime and love lining up & parking all of your trucks (arrrrrrrrrrrrrr), trains (eeeeeeeeeeeee), and cars (spee bars). Your sister drives you mental because she makes constant chaos of your ordered world, but you are very loving to her when you relax enough to stop worrying about what she’s going to destroy next.

You love going to Mass and identify anything related to it as a “Jeezaba”. You usually sit on Daddy and act like a perfect little gentleman. You’ve learned to say “alleluia” so we try to get you to follow along, but mostly you prefer to soak it all in and occasionally stack the hymnbooks.

Ash Wednesday, 2014
Trains are your absolute favourite thing. You’ve been riding on them since you were seven weeks old and you are becoming a fast collector of all things train-related. I loved surprising you with a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday party because you were so excited with all the train decorations that Uncle Johnny had designed for you. You were a good little host and your guests had a wonderful time.

After your ride on the Stanley Park Miniature Train in July -- You were reluctant to leave!
You’ve been hitting or surpassing all of your milestones. Lately your talking has really taken off and it’s fun listening to you come out with your own thoughts & phrases, instead of just mimicking what we try to get you to say. You love to play jokes on us & can always be counted on for a good laugh.

You are a little shy of strangers & no one can make you be friendly to anyone you don’t want to be around, although we’re working on acceptable ways of communicating that. Once you get to know people, however, you are a friendly & constant companion.

Two years ago, you crashed into my world and you’ve had me racing to catch up with you ever since. I treasure so many memories with you, like our special time together sightseeing in Berlin or the “Mummy & Walter” time we share when ‘Baby Annie’ is taking a nap. Daddy calls you a special little boy & he is 100% accurate in that!


 And a few shots from Walter's Thomas the Tank Engine Birthday Party: