Month 10 ~ December 26, 2002
~ Smiling Eyes
Oh my! What a busy month! The first couple of weeks, I was still not 100% health-wise, suffering from a cold that just wanted to hang on and on. Despite this, I have been feeling GREAT emotionally, and got right into the swing of Christmas preparations. I decided this year that I was going to try and "reclaim" Christmas as something that can be a positive, happy time, even though of course Nicholas's loss is still very painful.
Thomas helped me with all my preparations, and it was great to spend this special time with him. We made mini Christmas cakes and shortbread for his preschool teachers, which they absolutely loved! We also set up and decorated the tree. Katelyn was pretty interested in all this, and I let her touch some of the decorations under supervision. The tree was then put up on the dining room table so that there was no danger of her choking on anything. The next day I took the two kids to the shops with a carefully thought-out list and we did all the shopping in the one go. For most of it, Katelyn slept in the Maya Wrap!
December 5th was an exciting day. I dressed both children in their best outfits (they each only have one "dressed up" outfit) and took them down to the local shopping centre for their photo with Santa. We don't really "do Santa" in a big way in our family, mainly due to Andrew's ideas about it, but each year I have made a point of getting a photo taken. This year was of course Katelyn's first time. She did remarkably well, as I was expecting her to cry as soon as I put her on Santa's lap: instead she smiled for a good ten seconds or so, long enough to get one good photo taken before she started to fuss. Thomas was his usual nonchalant self about the whole thing. I'm glad though that he didn't ask Santa for a pony this year! LOL! When we got home, Missy Moo stood completely unassisted for a good ten or fifteen seconds for the first time so I was pretty excited by that as well.
Missy Moo must have decided that walking was her number one goal for her tenth month because after that day she has been "exercising" with her 1-2-3 Puppy, up and down the entire length of the house, many times each day. Our house is pretty small (about 1400 sq. ft), so I guess this isn't a huge distance, but still when you're only "knee high to a grasshopper" that length is probably quite a workout! At first she was really leaning quite a bit on the toddle toy, and needed one of us to hold onto it so she didn't land flat on her face. Then she managed to get more control of it on the carpet, and then even on the tiled floors. On the morning of December 20th, six days shy of her ten month birthday, my little girl took her first SOLO steps (two of them)!! I was so incredibly excited and moved that I had tears in my eyes! Thomas and Andrew were also there to witness this special moment so that made it all the more exciting. She has done this several times each day since then so I imagine that within another few weeks she will be toddling around left, right and centre! It has been quite something to see her skills develop and her delight and pride in her achievements. She thinks she's pretty clever and of course we don't disagree!
December 10th was Thomas's last day at preschool. It was also the anniversary of my D&C after losing Nicholas two years ago. A pretty emotional day for me! I was a bit teary and sad but kept pretty busy so was okay. We did our KMart Wishing Tree thing again this year, where we bought a toy that would be suitable for a little boy the age Nicholas would be now, and put it under the tree for a child whose parents couldn't afford to buy him anything. Thomas helped me choose and we got a lego truck pack. We also did something else to honour Nicholas, something I had been considering for some time: we sponsored a child with World Vision. He is a little boy, about 1 1/2 years old, who lives in Nicaragua. He is such a cute little boy and I am so excited that we are sponsoring him. It was possibly a little silly financially, given that Andrew was still unemployed when we signed up, but it just felt so right and I am so glad we did it!
Missy Moo's speech has really taken off. I remember writing some months back that I thought she might be already using a word for the cats. Well, now I'm sure she is: she says "boogie" with quite some excitement whenever she sees them, and makes a bee-line for them as well. As the month has continued, her word has even started to sound more and more like "pussy", and she not only uses this for real pussy cats but also for any other furry animal she sees! Punky is thankfully very patient and will sit and let Katelyn stroke her; Princess just hides under one of the beds! LOL! Katelyn has also been saying "Mama", "Bubba", "Dada" (discriminately sometimes, although at other times she will go around calling everyone Dada!), and a whole variety of other sounds. She actually calls Thomas "Bubba". I think that perhaps in her reasoning he is a "little person" like herself and so he gets called the same thing as she does. Even though she does sometimes call me "Mama" I've discovered to my amusement that she also calls me "Booeey", which is the same word she uses for my breasts! I KNEW I should have referred to them as something other than "the boobies"! Oh my! At the very end of this month, Katelyn surprised me by saying "ta" when I gave her a toy, the word I have been trying to teach her for "thank you". Clever baby!
It feels already like my little baby has become a toddler: with her first steps behind her and speech developing it just seems like she has grown up so much lately! She has even started doing some of the typical "toddler nursing" antics, such as attempting to climb all over me with a breast in her mouth! On top of these things, we have hit the tantrum stage! One day recently she threw her first "full-on tantrum" where she threw herself on the ground, was screaming, kicking and flailing her arms about. Oh my! She is just so LITTLE, that it was hard to keep a straight face, but I did because I didn't want to be disrespectful to her. One good thing is that her tantrums are over VERY quickly. I'm not sure whether it is that her personality is different from Thomas's, that I am more experienced in the art of distraction and remaining calm, or a combination of the two. Probably the latter I think . . . It is so exciting to me to not only enjoy what is happening now (this is SUCH an adorable stage!), but to look to the future with my precious little Missy Moo. Oh boy is she growing up quickly!
One evening we were watching a show called Harry's Practice, which has all sorts of stories about animals (Dr. Harry is a famous Aussie vet). Katelyn crawled up to the TV and started trying to pat the animals she saw there! She started saying "Boogie, boogie, aaahhh, boogie", and really trying to talk to the animals. It was so adorable and thankfully I was able to capture some on video.
I've actually decided to try and teach her some sign language, both because I've heard good things about it, and because I think it might be fun. We're just starting with some basics and will see how we go. If she doesn't end up using it, at least it will have been enjoyable for the whole family and believe it or not, it's even helping with Thomas's stuttering. When he is signing, he slows down, and when he speaks more slowly, his speech is ever so much more fluent. Yay!
Missy Moo has continued to amaze me by falling into her own routine. Without any prodding from me, she is reliably taking two decent naps per day (well, almost every day), usually in her cot in the air conditioning. Usually we get up around 6 or 6:30am, and she falls asleep at the breast (or the sling) about three hours later. I gently transfer her to the cot (or put her in the sling if we are out) and then spend some time doing housework, playing with Thomas, doing computing etc. I actually have mixed feelings about Missy Moo napping away from me. On the one hand it is a good thing, because she clearly isn't upset by it, sleeps very well, wakes up refreshed, and I get to spend some time alone with Thomas, or doing some tasks that might be tough to manage with her either awake or in the sling. On the other hand I MISS HER!! I am so used to having her with me 24/7 that being apart for an hour or more feels very strange and is a bit upsetting to me.
Anyway, she has another nap mid-afternoon and is ready to go to sleep for the night somewhere around 9 or 9:30pm. Nights usually aren't too bad these days since I took her off solids. (With the exception of the past few nights, but she got her fifth tooth on the 23rd and is working on her 6th, so it makes sense that she is so unsettled.) Last month I mentioned that some nights she just slept and nursed, slept and nursed, but that others she fussed and cried, nursed, pulled off etc all night. I thought about this and realised that the fussy nights followed days when she had eaten some solids! I cut out the pears and apples and voila! No more unsettled baby! (Well, almost) So now, apart from the occasional teething rusk, Katelyn is exclusively breastfed. A little unusual perhaps at ten months, but hey, her little digestive system just wasn't ready for anything other than breast milk so I feel I have to respond to that. As breastfeeding is supply/demand, I obviously can make enough milk for her, and the added bonus for me is that I can eat like a pig and still be losing on average 1/2 pound per week. LOL!
The weather has been warm to say the least. Late afternoons though are often beautiful for getting outside (except on days we get a storm of course!). I have been taking the two kids and our dog Possum for walks several days per week lately. I find it is good for all of us, and does tend to prevent Thomas from getting a bit "hyper" at that awkward time of day. I put Katelyn in the Maya Wrap, and Thomas walks beside us with the dog on her lead. He feels like such a big boy now that I let him be in charge of the dog. If we come across another dog though he knows to hand over the lead to me. Anyway, a few doors down from us there is an elderly lady who is often pottering around her garden at that time of day and we always stop off and have a little chat. She loves seeing the children and she loves Possum as well. One day she said something to me that really struck a chord: she said that Missy Moo has "smiling eyes". How very true! She exudes this sense of inner peace and happiness, of feeling right in the world. How blessed I am to have such a precious baby and how glad I am that she is so happy!
We were greeted with some wonderful news in the week before Christmas! Andrew has been offered a job - a permanent one working for the same government department he has been doing some part-time work for recently. That is just SUCH a relief of course. It is a good job, with humane conditions, decent pay, and it is easy to get to by public transport (important as I need the car to get Thomas to school soon, to do shopping etc). We are SO grateful! What a wonderful Christmas present!!
After hearing of the job, Andrew decided to plan a weekend away (well, staying in the city) both to celebrate the news and because it was our 13th wedding anniversary on the 23rd. We had a lovely time and Katelyn got to have her first swim in a big pool. I imagined she would have reacted differently, maybe with a little squealing or laughing, but she took it all so much in her stride that it was rather amusing. It was like "Hey, when will the excitement start guys?". While staying in the city, we went to the Parmalat celebrations at South Bank. This was the first time since shortly after Nicholas had died. There are some absolutely wonderful free concerts, fireworks and so on that are on at this time of year and even though I knew it would bring back some painful memories, I did want to get back to actually celebrating this time of year, to getting some pleasure out of it, and to making it a time of joy for the children. They really enjoyed it, and have also been dancing along to some Christmas CDs at home. Katelyn's favourite song seems to be "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer"!
Christmas was a lovely day! We bought Katelyn a little soft doll, and Thomas a Robin outfit (as in Batman and Robin). They also got heaps of gifts from family members. We went out to lunch with my family and spent the rest of the day with just the four of us at home, playing with new toys and having some quiet family time together. What more could you ask for? Today we went over to the in-laws for that side of the family's celebrations so there were even more presents and more people wanting to play with Katelyn.
Things are just going so well for us right now and I am so thankful for all our many blessings. One thing that I learnt during those months of unemployment is that the most important things in life are family and health. I had always imagined that having Andrew out of work would be a total disaster but as it happened we were actually fine. We learnt to manage with much less money and if anything have come out of the experience closer and happier.