Friday, December 7, 2012

Termie after a Preemie

I'm back!  I haven't blogged for a long time because I was growing a baby!  Rhys was born 14th November at 38 1/2 weeks weighing in at 7lbs 2oz.  I would have chronicled our pregnancy, but for the first and second trimesters I didn't want to talk about it too much.  I was hopeful that the baby would make it past 28 weeks, but there was a high probability we would have another preemie this time around too. 

Having a full-term baby after a preemie is such an incredibly healing experience.  We held our breath, waiting to reach certain milestones.  We went about our normal everyday life for the first 20 weeks.  The doctor said I would probably be on bedrest anytime after 20 weeks, so I just willed myself to get there.  There was no, 'This week your child is the size of a fig' excitement.  I actually hardly read or thought about anything to do with babies until we reached the end of the second trimester.  We were so relieved and shocked when we reached 28 weeks.  To think that this baby was staying in there longer than Lydia had, and would be bigger too!

Experiencing the third trimester was truly wonderful.  It was such a healing process and I enjoyed every bit of it.  I don't think I was as uncomfortable as many pregnant people seem to be.  I thought it was incredibly funny that complete strangers would approach me and ask when the baby was due.  At least I didn't look like I had gotten greedy and put on a ton of weight!  People would also say, 'Oh, you have a girl?  Well then you know what to expect!' and I'd really want to tell them that I had no idea what to expect as we were in unchartered territory! 

Now, I have a beautiful baby boy at home.  We're all adjusting to a different routine and schedule, but it's a termie routine and schedule.  There's nothing like it.  It's hard to describe how much easier it is to be present with my baby when there's not the constant worry and stress of what tomorrow will bring. 

Lydia described it the best.  She said, 'Rhys is home!  Now we're a whole family!'  We're so incredibly lucky and I can't believe I have TWO kiddos at home :)  LOVE!

Friday, June 15, 2012


I'm currently fighting off a cough.  I thought it was just allergies, but then I started getting that heavy chest feeling yesterday.  Today I'm on the verge of either getting better or getting worse!  My body betrays me in ways that it didn't ten years ago.  My immune system laughs at me and says, 'Long hours, late nights and working on weekends is TOO are a few germs to remind you of how ridiculous you are!'   

My job is changing.  Today, four different people at work and my husband asked me, 'How do you feel about that?'  Really, they should go through that volunteer training for the hotline.  They might be good at it or something.  In answer to that question, it's quite sad yet exciting at the same time.  I just realised that it's been nine years since I first got hired!  It's funny to think of how grown up I am now!

Lydia's changing too.  I'm always laughing at Lydia.  I asked her to mimic her Daddy's 'bad face' to which she replied, 'I can't do that because I'm too nice'.  When I think of Lydia, 'nice' isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind.  Cheeky, sassy, animated, dramatic, stubborn, fun-loving... these words come to mind.  Nice?  Not exactly the top of the list.  We just moved her from a home daycare to a development center type setting a couple of weeks ago.  She seems to be taking to it quite well and she's enjoying herself.  I've found that the biggest things she's learned so far are, 'But why, Mummy?' and 'I don't know'.  I wouldn't exactly say I'm proud, but I've been told these are just traits of an average three year old so I'm trying to roll with it!

At this very moment, Gary and Lydia are sleeping outside in a tent. They were supposed to go to a Father's Day sleepover at the aquarium but it got cancelled because there weren't enough people signed up. Gary decided to put up the tent in the back yard, get the sleeping bags out and sleep under the stars. Lydia is loving it. She's been incessantly talking about camping since the Legend of Pinkfoot show she watched. I love watching my husband and child together. Gary's a really great Dad.  Lydia is just perfectly Lydia.

Until next time!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Turning 33

I can't believe that there's not just one generation following me, there's two!  I've gotten to the stage where I have no idea how old I am.  Someone asks, 'How old are you?' and here's what goes on in my head, 'What year is it?  2011?  Oh, no it's 2012.  What year was I born?  1979?  So...1979...2012...21...add...12...' until finally I figure out how bloody old I really am.  I'm not really bothered about turning 33.  I don't really feel old or young although I'm sure I'm one or the other to some of you.

Life has been amazing lately.  Some of my best friends from school are getting married, celebrating anniversaries, or looking forward to the future.  My brother and sisters seem to be happy.  They're also getting married or looking forward to the future.  My parents continue to be the essence of who I remember them to be. 

The future holds so much for me, Gary and Lydia.  Our 3 year old girl loves life, whines, moans, cries and will give you attitude at every turn.  One minute she needs help for everything, the next minute she wants to do everything herself.  She can be incredibly loveable and full of laughter.  She can also be mean, say she doesn't want to talk to us or just tell us she wants to be on her own.  It's all quite humourous. 

We travel to Washington state at the end of next month for my mother-in-law's memorial.  We've all come to terms with what happened,and we're beginning to recall fond memories rather than the times when she was so sick.  Today, Lydia wanted peanut butter with her apple and she remembered it was the lady who was in the room with grandma (where she was getting physical rehab) that gave her some.  Who knows what she'll remember when she's older.

Anyway, just a short update on what's going on in my life.  My hope at 33 is to live long enough to watch my child grow up and have a life of her own.  I'd like to travel a bit more, spend more time with the people I love, do more of what I enjoy.  I'd like to be kinder to my husband and not nag so much (you know, maybe after a few more years he'll actually be trained!).  For the time being, I have a billion projects I'm working on at home.  I'd like to finish one of them!  I'll let you know what it is when I finish one :/

Monday, April 23, 2012

Another blog meme

I received a few complaints about numbers 5, 6 and 7 of the last blog meme.  Apparently my dreams are not all that fascinating, or at least not worth 3 of the 7 'things you didn't know about me'!  Haha!  So, to finish off the last one, here are numbers 6 and 7, as number 5 I will count all of my dream stuff rolled into one!

6.  I love picnics.  One time, my siblings and I microwaved hotdogs and took them to the park.  I don't really remember much else but that it was a lot of fun.  One summer, my siblings and I travelled all around the UK by train.  We would make chicken drumsticks and sandwiches for our trip.  I remember Bern falling asleep in Oxford and having to carry her everywhere, and people looking at us and wondering what a bunch of young kids were doing wandering around town.
7.  I watch movies from the middle to the end.  Gary hates it when I do that, but sometimes there's a movie on and I'll just turn it on.  Or, it's a movie I've seen that I've either forgotten how it ends, or I liked the ending so I just watch the end part!

That's all I've got.  Onto the next meme!!
Well this blog meme was sent to me by my sister.  This is very much a motherhood-themed meme as the questions imply that we don't have much time to complete the tasks as we're too busy looking after the kiddos.  So that being said, I won't be sad if you don't read this to the end.

Some ground rules to start:
  • Post the rules
  • When answering the questions, please give as much detail as possible
  • Leave a comment on Sex, drugs, rocker and stroller, baby so we can keep track of the meme and totally steal your routine tips to make our worlds a happier place
  • Tag 3 or more people and link them to your blog
How and when do you find the time to ....

... do your laundry?

Usually on weekends, although I sometimes do a load mid-week that sits there for a few days before I get it folded and put away.  I have about 3 loads of clothes I need to hang up in my closet.  I won't say no to some help if someone wants to come over!

...write a blog post?
I used to blog once a week on  Then that changed to once every couple of weeks, to once a month, to totally not.  Now I have this new blog.  I worried about consistency of posts at first but when I feel obligated to blog, I find I have no creative juices at all.  So now I blog whenever I have something to say.
...look after yourself?... i.e. wash your hair, paint your nails, take a bubble bath etc?
I don't particularly care for bubble baths.  Washing my hair isn't really a luxury - isn't that just a necessity in the course of hygiene?!  So I do that every other day when I'm in my daily morning shower.  I do paint my nails and have done so since I was 14 years old.  I've probably only gone a few months since then without nail varnish on my nails.  I have noticed that I am less inclined to freak out when my nail varnish is chipping off though.  I probably do my nails once a week, as in  I do them myself as I don't trust anyone else to touch them!

...spend time with your other half?

We spend every evening together, unless I'm working.  We usually get a couple of hours after Lydia goes to bed.  We rarely go on date night.  Even before Lydia was born, we rarely had date nights.  We went places and spent time together, but it was rare that it was a planned night out for the purpose of romance and love!  My reasoning is: 1. We're content with being a family all the time.  2. My husband is incredibly unromantic.  You can try to change him if you want - I still try even after 12 years fun stuff with your LO?

All the time.  We try to go somewhere on the weekends.  We go to hockey.  We spend time in the evening playing.

...spend time with family?
I see my father-in-law at least once a week.  My family is all in England, so maybe once a year.

...socialise with friends?

Usually a couple of times a month.  Not too often as I don't really need it and I talk to lots of people at work.  Every time I go back home I get to see friends too.

...prepare an evening meal juggling a baby/toddler bedtime routine?

I call it, 'My husband'.  I am really irritable when I'm hungry, so if I'm trying to spend time with Lydia too, it's even worse.  If I'm not rushed (like on weekends) I don't mind cooking, or if Gary really really doesn't want to cook for some reason.  Otherwise Gary's pretty good at cooking if I tell him what to cook.  This is probably the best thing about my husband and it takes a lot of stress off me because I get home from work a lot later than he does and I used to hate having to figure out dinner to eat half an hour after I walked into the door because I wouldn't have time to even sit down.  He eventually just fell into the routine of doing it most of the time.

...deep clean your house?

I have no idea what that means.  If you'd like to come to my house and show me, please feel free to do so. the food shopping?

Gary and I go food shopping usually on the weekend. 

...bulk ironing?

Seriously?  No way.  We had to iron masses of shirts for my Dad when we were growing up.  I don't think there's anything I detest more.  My brother hates painting because we had to paint the house every summer too.  I still have a few items of clothing that I haven't worn for about a year because they require ironing.  The only reason I iron these days is if I have something I'm sewing that needs to be ironed!  Why iron when there are dry cleaners?  And I don't have enough money for dry cleaners so I just buy clothes that don't need to be ironed, or things that will straighten themselves out once they've been hung up in my closet for long enough!!

That's all, folks.  I'm not a very good tagger so if you feel like filling out these questions, feel free to do so.  Follow the rules better than I do ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bet you didn't know this about me

I've been tagged in a couple of blog memes so before I'm told I'm a complete blog snob, I figured I'd give a nod to some of my dearest friends and family and answer the questions.  I'm quite an open book so this first meme will be rather difficult.  Apparently I'm supposed to share seven things about myself.  I'm guessing they have to be interesting and not things you already know.  I'm fairly certain you already know my name and what I look like (um, hello, pictures all over the blog?).  You may not know about my penchant for spotting spelling mistakes on any document that whizzes in front of my face for a millisecond, but that's just old news to people who spend any time with me.  Anyway, I'm procrastinating.

1.  I know a little bit about every sport.  I love to watch sports in general.  I think it's because I have no sense of balance myself and no athletic ability at all, so I cheer on my favourite teams instead.  I've noticed that I can connect with all types of people with my rudimentary knowledge about sports.  Sometimes I know random facts about sports and wonder why that's taking up space in my head.  It's irritating yet awesome at the same time!

2.  I'm really nosey.  Call it curious, interested, inquisitive, whatever you want.  I am genuinely interested in many different things, but mostly in your life.  I love to learn how people are managing, coping, thriving, living... I like to know what makes people who they are. 

3.  I think my true calling is helping people to see themselves.  I find myself drawn to  helping people see their strengths and how to harness them.  I love to help people feel comfortable and happy with who they are.  Hate towards other people and towards ourselves takes too much energy away from living life.  

4.  I don't really drink alcohol.  I don't really like it or how I feel and act with it.  I get a lot of lip and pressure from people when I don't drink.  It irritates me that people think this is up for discussion and not my choice.  I have my reasons.  If you want to drink, drink.  Don't think you'll ever make me feel like I'm letting myself down by not drinking alcohol.  How ridiculous is that?

5.  I woke myself up last night laughing.  Seriously.  In my dream, there were people popping up - out of a hat or something - and it was making me laugh.  I snorted whilst laughing in my dream which actually woke me up.  I think I was probably snoring really loudly!  Anyway, I woke up and couldn't stop laughing.  It was really strange.

6.  The other night, I had a dream that I was on a plane that suddenly started plunging at a 90 degree angle into the sea.  At first I thought we were crashing, then I realised we were actually going underwater.  We ended up going to the bottom of the sea where there was this entire undersea world.  We got there and it was like that new show, Terra Nova.  You could go to this new land but you couldn't go back.  There was a girl on a cell phone and they told her she couldn't talk on it because there was no contact allowed with the 'other' world.  Yeah, I have no idea where this dream came from either.

7.  I have really vivid dreams.  Some of you have heard my Chili (our beagle) and roast chicken dream.  I'll tell you about it if you haven't!

Ummm I guess at this point I'm supposed to tag some peeps to participate.  How about I send this out to the blogosphere and just see who wants to respond?!

Monday, April 9, 2012

What to teach my child about being multicultured

My co-worker posted this video to her Facebook page the other day.  It's Anderson Cooper talking about a study that looks at the way black and white children perceive each other.  I thought it was incredibly enlightening particularly when it addressed bringing up children to be colour-blind.  I know it's a difficult subject to broach, but I do think it's important to talk to our children about diversity and its challenges.  It's unrealistic to think that if we don't talk about it, it doesn't exist.

I know people mean well when they say things like, 'Oh, I almost forgot you were Chinese!' or 'Oh, I don't even see you as Chinese, you're just Sonia to me!'  I imagine it's true for those who say it and they say it as a compliment as well as a sign of their own growth - they see me as a person, not just the colour of my skin.  Yet for someone who is Chinese, who lives and breathes and can't escape my own skin, I can't help but wonder how that possibly happens.  How do you separate my being Chinese from who I am?  I know I can't.  I mean, seriously, my being Chinese is pretty in your face.  As in all over mine.  And in my bones and my soul.  

Now if you've never met me and you hear my English accent and see my Irish last name, my being Chinese is probably not what you expect.  I often get curious questions like, 'So where are you from?'  which typically means, I want to know where you got that accent, and where you got those features.  Some people find that offensive, but I don't mind it as it usually means I've piqued someone's interest and they're genuinely curious about me.  I even have a canned response for that question these days, a 10 second rundown which inevitably leads to, 'So how did you get here?'  which of course leads to the, 'Yes, I really did meet my husband on the internet' story which sparks an entirely different line of questioning!

I identify myself as being Chinese, yet I live the dilemma that many second generation Chinese like myself do.  Brought up by eastern philosophy parents in the western world, people often call us bananas - yellow on the outside, white on the inside.  It can be disconcerting to not quite fit in when you're in your 'homeland', and not quite fit in where you were brought up either.  Our western viewpoints and ideas often clash with those of the east.  This can be incredibly confusing and difficult to reconcile; we can't be expected to hold the same views when we were brought up in a different environment.  It can be particularly difficult to hear other Chinese people criticise us for not being 'Chinese' enough.  I'm not sure how to explain that, but I guess that's for another blog.

So I'm not quite Chinese enough, yet I'm not English either.  Even when people say, 'Oh, you're English!'  I always correct them because, well, that's what the English would do.  It doesn't feel quite right claiming to be English.  I was travelling in Europe once and an English guy asked me where I was from.  I said, 'England' and he responded, 'Oh, you're a scotch egg'.  I am proud to be a Brit though.  I can't imagine not being British because I think that's in my bones and my soul too.  Growing up in a multicultural city like Manchester really equipped me with the knowledge and sensitivity to be comfortable around people of different temperaments and backgrounds. 

I know Lydia will encounter difficulties growing up. She'll be asked where she's from as well as where her parents are from. People will say mean and hurtful things to her about the way she looks. She'll be told to go back to where she came from.  There will be a whole host of questions, judgments and opinions that come with having parents in an interracial relationship.  It's also difficult because we live in South Carolina, not exactly the most diverse place in the world.  It's a place where you often have to find those mulitcultural moments rather than being automatically surrounded by them.  Actively seeking out opportunities to teach my child about diversity seems so counter-intuitive to me.  I still have a lot of learning and growing to do. 

I often talk about race relations with people.  My hope is that people feel comfortable asking questions without fear of offending me or saying the wrong thing.  I'm hoping that my experience will help me talk to Lydia too.  I often hear comments from interracial couples that they worry about the racism their children will have to deal with.  I know these are valid fears, and most of us in this day and age come through it relatively unscathed.  I still encounter racism to this day and unfortunately it's just a part of life.  It's not that we are born with an innate ability to deal with mean people though.  We have a community of people standing by us.  There are friends and strangers who are willing to stand up for us when we're feeling weak and beat down, and there are friends and strangers who are willing to stand next to us when we're fighting the fight.  It sure does feel like a battle some days.  But without the support, it can be a lonely road and a losing battle.

One Love.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

For Healthy Babies

Gary, Lydia and I are Marching for Babies again this year.  We've walked this 5K for the past few years to raise some money for March of Dimes.  As you all know, Lydia was born at 28 weeks weighing 2lbs 7oz and 14 inches.  Today, she is 3 feet tall weighing in at almost 29lbs!

If you have donated to our cause before, please consider donating again!  If you haven't donated before, why not this year?  Any amount is welcome and here's the link to donate online:

This past year has been one of healing for our family.  The first two years were miraculous... and they were also rather frightening.  We held our breath every step of the way, wondering what being born 3 months early meant for her.  She has fought fiercely to not only live, but to thrive.  Those who meet Lydia see her as a happy, easy-going girl.  She's smart, funny and, of course, stubborn.  She's an instigator and a bossy boots.  She told me at dinner one evening, 'I'm so frustrated with you.  I don't want to talk to you right now!'  I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or give her the 'serious' face!

It's amazing to have conversations with other parents these days.  We talk about our kids not going to bed, potty-training, their eating habits, and what their favourite toys are.  These conversations seem so surreal to me.  I'm so glad that we're able to talk about Lydia like she's a normal three-year old.  I am always learning how to live, love and laugh from Lydia.

I really feel like we owe March of Dimes and the MUSC Children's Hospital so much; Lydia would not be alive today without their dedication to preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  If you donate to the March of Dimes, you support research and services that help mothers have full-term pregnancies so that babies can begin healthy lives.  They also provide comfort and information to families with a baby in newborn intensive care.

Please donate to support a worthy cause!  For Lydia, for your children, for health babies everywhere,

Sonia, Gary and Lydia

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Life goes on and my bucket list

It's been 3 weeks since my mother-in-law passed away.  Things seem to be settling down for us.  I wouldn't say it's back to normal; how normal is it to not have your mother around when she's been there for so long?  Gary's Dad seems to be doing well considering he just lost his best friend of forty-five years.  Apparently it's the first time he's lived alone in all of his seventy years.  He's trying to get used to an entirely different way of living.  We're adjusting to the change in family dynamic too.

Thinking about death always makes me think about life.  For me, death has always been an inevitable and natural part of life.  I imagine I still have some changing and growing to do before I die, but I know now that the essence of who I am will remain the same.  For right now, suffice to say I know who I am - my strengths and my flaws - and I continue to work on compassion and selflessness everyday.

I'm not really a bucket list type of person, at least not in the traditional sense.  For me, there are two types of bucket lists.  The first answers this question, 'If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do today?'  The other answers, 'What do you want to achieve and do before you die?'  It doesn't matter what type of list mine would be.  It definitely does not have climbing Mt. Everest or bungee jumping on it.  Oh, I hear you, 'Let go of your fears and take the risk!'  If this is a passionate hobby of yours by all means, go for it.  It's just not on any list of mine (other than the, 'Never in MY lifetime list').  I'd feel like I'm putting my life in danger to say I've truly lived.  Am I the only one who thinks this is a contradiction in terms?!

The bucket list just isn't going to work for me.  It puts the focus on doing things before I die to feel like I've lived.  I don't want to live in fear of not having lived.  I guess I need a Living List, or maybe I just need to live my list and not feel compelled to make a list at all.

I love my life.  I love my family.  I'll start with that and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life after death through the eyes of a three-year old

My mother-in-law, Jeanette, died on Monday morning.   I was at home with Lydia whilst Gary, his Dad and MIL's best friend, Linda, were at her side.  It has been a roller-coaster week; it began with us thinking she was going to be sent home and ended with her not coming home at all.  

I finally did talk to Lydia about her grandmother dying.  I talked to her on Saturday afternoon when we thought my mother-in-law was closer to the end than she was.  We were at the hospital and I wanted to prepare Lydia just in case she started seeing very upset adults around her.  I remember telling her that Grandma was dying, she was sick - different from a simple cold / broken arm type sick, and how sometimes bodies don't work and people die.  Her response was, 'Okay' and that was the end of that.

Gary, Gary's Dad and Linda stayed at the hospital that night.  When I got home and after Lydia's bath, we were sitting in the front room and I asked, 'Do you know what's going on with Grandma?' Lydia responded, 'Grandma's dying'.  I asked, 'Do you know why?'  Lydia said, 'Because her body's not working and she's hurting and she's dying.  And now she can dance and she'll be happy'.  I stopped for a moment, then I said, 'How do you know that?' and Lydia said, 'Because she likes to dance'.  I texted this conversation to Gary that night.  It really had a profound effect on everyone.  So much so that when my mother-in-law finally passed away early Monday morning, they repeated the story to the nurse and it made her cry.  I posted it on Facebook to my friends and many people have commented on how touching it was, or how it's helped them through their grief. 

Of course, I wonder if it's because kids are quite intuitive in situations of deep grief and loss.  Are there spiritual forces at work?  Is it just another example of pre-schooler thoughts jumping from one topic to another?  For whatever reason she said it, it's helped a lot of people thus far.  If you know my mother-in-law, it's even more special because she hasn't been able to walk for a long time.  Even when I met her she had difficulty walking long distances.  She became wheelchair-bound a few years ago.  By the end of her life, she was completely bed-ridden.  So you see, a comment about her dancing is not just appropriate in general about those facing death, but particularly poignant because of my mother-in-law's physical condition.  

There's a fascination about the end of someone's life, but who she was in that hospital bed was not who she was in life.  I didn't call her Mom very often.  Mainly because I can't say it without feeling like I have to put on a strange American accent.  She really was another Mum to me though.  When I first moved over here and couldn't work, she introduced me to sewing and quilting.  It filled my time and I felt more productive.  It really is how I found a passion for DIY and crafts.  Without her, I would never have thought pinterest was the best thing since sliced bread, or taken up scrapbooking, or sewn things for my friends and family.  Sure, I was creative in my own way, but I don't think I'm naturally creative.  I needed to learn creativity and I learned it from her.  She really introduced me to a whole new world of hobbies.  

My mother-in-law also helped me find my first job.  I was fresh out of college, didn't have any connections and I couldn't work until I got a work permit.  When I finally did get my work permit, I couldn't find a job.  I didn't know where to look or even what to apply for.  My mother-in-law helped me out and called her old boss to see if there were any jobs - the next day I was heading in for an interview and training.  

Today, we went out to the house with my father-in-law.  It was hard to walk into the house without her there.  I was slightly anxious during the car ride which surprised me seeing as I'd been all take-charge yesterday with the funeral arrangements.  Our first task was to clean out the sewing room as Gary's Dad wants to rearrange some of the furniture in the house pretty quickly.  Sewing was her passion and she hasn't been able to sew anything for a long time.  She found that terribly frustrating, to love something so much and not be able to do it.  It was hard for Gary's Dad because sewing became such a huge part of his life too; he was always thinking about projects, helping her choose things for her to make, picking out the threads she needed.

Finding what I love to do outside of work isn't the only thing she gave to me.  She welcomed me into the family and supported me and Gary in our life together.  She always wanted the best for us and always told me I was good for her son.  He's good for me too and I hope she knows I appreciate that.  In my old blog, I wrote that Gary's parents raised Gary to be a kind, stable, honest man.  I said he was a good husband and father and I know it comes from his upbringing.  I know she appreciated my comments because she thanked me for it.  I only wish I had said it more, and more directly to her.  When I had the opportunity to say goodbye to her at the hospital, I told her goodbye, that I loved her, and thank you.  Thank you for my life here, for my husband, for Lydia, for my new friends and family.  She has played an integral part in my life since I immigrated to the USA 12 years ago.

We will miss her dreadfully.  The hospital stay is still so fresh in our minds.  The last few months, even years, were difficult for her and us.  I know that after some time, we'll look back fondly at her life.  We had so many good times and memories together.  There were ups and downs, disagreements and disappointments, but she was always there for us.  She loved fully, lived well and shared freely.  She taught me how to show my love to my child and how to express my love to my friends and family.  Being a part of this family has given me an emotional stability that I didn't know I needed.   'I love you' were not words that came easily to me until I joined the Donnelly family.

I love you, Mom.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Talking to my pre-schooler about death

Lydia's paternal grandmother doesn't have much longer to live.  She's a strong-willed woman who has a sharp wit and a lot of love for her family.  It's strange to think that we won't have her in our life.  She and my father-in-law have been married for 45 years.  They are best friends and inseparable.  How do you deal with a loss like that?  My husband and father-in-law are dealing with immense emotional pain right now.  I have my own sense of grief and loss, but mine is so much more intertwined with how to best support my husband and my father-in-law. 

This is one of the few times that it's been clear to me that my mother-in-law is not just my husband's mother, but his mummy.  She's the one who taught him to love, who was there for him when he was upset, who helped him become the man he is today.  I don't often give her the credit she deserves, although I often remind myself that I'm lucky to have married into an emotionally stable family.  My husband has a calm, soothing temperament; I imagine it's part nature, part nurture, part choice.

So how do we tell Lydia that her grandmother is dying?  For me, death and suffering in all of its forms is an inevitable part of life.  I can pinpoint painful times in my life and how it has shaped who I am today.  Will this be something Lydia remembers when she grows up?  How will it affect her?  At this age, it's not really the death that has an impact, but how we deal with it and talk about it.  

Here are some tips I've found which will help me and Gary talk to Lydia:
  • Be truthful 
  • Stay calm and supportive to encourage any questions or emotions she might have
  • Keep it brief and simple
  • Avoid assumptions about how she might feel
  • Answer questions - be honest if we don't know the answer
  • Avoid saying things like, 'She went to sleep for a long time', 'She was sick and went to heaven', 'Only old people die'
  • Address worries about separation and loss by reassuring her that we intend to be around for a long time to look after her, and there are others who will look after her if we do die
  • Don't be surprised or confront her if she has an unemotional response or if she doesn't quite grasp the concept of death
If you have been through this, or remember dealing with death as a young child, let me know. I'm interested in hearing your experiences.

Helpful resources on how to talk to a three-year old about death:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Public Toilets: The Potty Training Foe

My newly potty-trained child has decided that public toilets are her enemy.  We went to an automatic flushing toilet on Sunday morning and I've never seen my child so terrified.  I can't say I blame her.  Have you ever had one of those toilets flush on you mid-business?  I mean, is the sensor just a guise for a sick joke from the toilet gods?  I swear those toilets only flush when they're supposed to 10% of the time.  Most of the time they flush 5 seconds before I'm finished.  Even worse is when I stand there staring at the toilet, waiting for it to flush but end up having to push the button instead.  

Lydia's always had a fear of noises.  When she describes her fears, she talks about fireworks, thunder and, oh, scary toilets*.  So considering this is one of the biggest fears in her life right now, it's hard to figure out what to do about it.  Do I just let her pee in the bushes for the next few years?  Hold it in until she gets home?  Let her pee in the sink?  Believe me, all of those options crossed my mind!

Here's the best answer I found from trawling the internet**.  Post-it notes.  I'm going to be telling Lydia to choose her own post-it notes so that when we encounter the monstrous automatic flushing toilet, we can deactivate the sensor by sticking a post-it note over it.  How brilliant is that?  We'll see how it works.

*They are so scary that even the NY Times wrote an article about them a few years back.
**Yes, I did google, 'What to do when your pre-schooler is scared of automatic-flushing toilets'. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Lydia said she was going to tell me a story, the 'legend of pink foot'.... I said, 'Do you mean big foot?' She said, 'No, pink foot!' Bahaha. All she could really tell me was that he lived in the woods!

Lydia had DVD boxes on her arms yesterday and was calling them shields. Today, she had another box on her arm so I asked her, 'What's that?' Lydia replied, 'A box'.

Baa baa black sheep have you any wool, yes sir yes sir three bags full. One for the monster, one for the (indecipherable word) one for the little girl who (more indecipherable words).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Legend of Pinkfoot

I didn't realise I'd have to apologise to my daughter the other night.  She told me she had a story to tell me, the legend of Pinkfoot.  She told me Pinkfoot lived in the woods and it was spooky!  I can tell you now, I spent a good five minutes telling her it was Bigfoot and how he looked somewhat like a gorilla (and he wasn't scary at all)!  I asked her who told her about Bigfoot as I was rather perturbed that someone would be so irresponsible as to scare my child with a chimera-type urban legend.  Lydia told me it was Daisy from the Bubble Guppies.  This sparked me into action as I thoroughly researched (aka 'googled') this outrageous Bubble Guppy who would be so bold as to scare pre-schoolers to death.  I found a rather cute video of, yes, the infamous (at least amongst pre-schoolers) Bubble Guppies sitting around a campfire, toasting smores, telling a spooky story about the legend of PINKfoot.  I then spent another five minutes trying to convince Lydia that she had been right after all, except every time I said, 'You were right, it was Pinkfoot'  she would look at me thoughtfully and say, 'No, BIGfoot'.  Sigh.

Here's Lydia with her first somewhat successful attempt at using chopsticks.  She was at a disadvantage as she was trying to pick up noodles.  HA!  If I had been more thoughtful, I would've made something she could just stab and pop in her mouth! 

Lydia and I stayed at home on President's day.  It was a much-needed day after working all weekend, especially as I had about five loads of laundry!  I also really wanted to spend the day with Lydia.  We painted, pedaled around the neighborhood, talked about how we live on Earth and how Mercury is far too hot (she's been talking about planets lately, can't you tell?).  Then I spent the afternoon trying to get her to take a nap.  

I turned on the telly expecting her to be completely bored and to fall asleep except she was as riveted by Hoarders: Buried Alive as I was!  I found myself completely fascinated with these people whose houses are full from floor to ceiling with stuff.  Then I looked around my own house; the dining room table has been in the living room for a month, the floors in the dining room are *almost* finished, and there are toys everywhere!  We've got to get this house in order!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Small miracles

I was working late the other night.  By the time I got home, Lydia was in bed but she was still awake.  I went in to talk to her before she fell asleep.  She told me all about her day - the yoghurt she ate, the dinner she ate and the fact that I was at work.  We then played one of her favourite games.  

Lydia:  I didn't eat apple
Me: I didn't eat orange
Some other random food and animals...
Lydia: I didn't eat pillow
Me: I didn't eat carpet
Lydia: I didn't eat tissue

At this point, she cracked up laughing.  That throaty, cackly, the funniest thing in the world kind of laugh.  It was beautiful!

We played a little longer.  At this point EVERYTHING was funny.  It was perfect and I looked at her and saw a little miracle.  Best feeling ever.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 starting off well!

I have completed 2 craft projects for the year already!  Both of which I found on Pinterest.

Here are the magnets I made.  Full instructions can be found by clicking here.  I followed the instructions quite closely, although I must've been mad as I didn't use a punch and cut out 'almost circles' using my scissors instead!  Next time, I'm definitely getting a 3/4 inch punch.  I'm not sure how I don't already own one!

Along with a 3/4 inch punch, you will need:

Transparent stones - you can find these in the wedding section of any craft store

Magnets - there are cheap ones you can get at the craft store.  I bought some neodymium magnets online.  They are more expensive, but they're very slim and very strong.  I did experiment with magnet paper, but the magnet would barely hold itself up, never mind anything else!

Glue - everyone suggests you use E-6000 adhesive.  I thought, seriously, what's the dealio with this stuff?  AND I looked at 2 craft stores and it was sold out!  I finally found it at Walmart.  It really is good stuff.  It will peel off if you get it all over the stone, but it is also very strong when actually sticking 2 things together!

Pictures - you could cut them out by hand like I did!  You know, to torture yourself. Or you could be smart and buy a 3/4 inch punch.  All my magnets are made with..old Christmas and greeting cards!  Thanks to everyone who sent me a card.  You might be getting them back in a different form - HA!

I think that's it!  Cut the pics out, glue them on the back of the stone.  Smooth the pic out so there's enough glue all over and there aren't any air bubbles. Let it dry.  I painted the backs but if they were more uniform (if I had used a PUNCH!), maybe I wouldn't have needed to do that.  

Once everything's dry, I stuck the magnet on.


Go get your scissors!  Go get some felt!  Cut some circles, and cut some strips of fabric.  That's all you need!  I made these in just a few minutes.