Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Keeps Going...

When I was a kid I always thought that holidays were a time to relax, a break from homework... and then I became an adult and realized all the busyness and work that goes in to holidays! We have been so busy! I'm exhausted! It has been a good busy though.

After our immediate family Christmas', we had our first extended family Christmas with my Mom's family. I think it was the first year in a VERY long time nearly everyone was there... except for four cousins (including my sister). It was nice to see everyone and see how happy in made my Grandparents. My Grandpa barely made it, as his health seems to be taking severe dives from day to day. It is definitely in the back of everyone's mind that this is his last Christmas... although we could be thinking that for the next five Christmas' too!

We couldn't stay very long at the get together because Livi and I had a ferry to catch. We had to eat and run. We were headed to the Island for a new charity board meeting! I brought Livi with me to visit with her Auntie Lisa and Uncle Tony. They don't get to see her very often. Livi had a lot of fun... aside from basically crying herself to sleep. It had been a very overstimulated last few days!

By the way... taking a one year old on the ferry alone is VERY TIRING! I'll write about the meeting in another post when I have more time too.

Today, I've been at a First Aid Course all day. It is a requirement for the group home I work at. My sister and her co-worker/a friend of ours came with me, which made the eight hour day a little more bearable. The instructor was not my biggest fan... I made the mistake of mentioning that I had not done the required reading because I've taken the course at least 4 times before. She didn't think that was very acceptable and kept making comments in every section about how we should have read this already and she is doing those who hadn't pre-read a favor by going over it. Oh well... I got 100%!

Tomorrow we go to Vancouver to ring in the New Year with some dear friends of ours. Livi is going with Jon's Mom to Chehalis Lodge for an extended family reunion weekend. His Mom's family does this weekend every two years. It is a lot of fun, but a lot of family over a longer period of time! This will be the first year with the start of the next generation. Livi is the first Great Grandchild. Two years ago we announced to the family at this weekend, that we were pregnant! Now Livi gets to help us make even more memories! Jon and I will join everyone on New Years day... hopefully not hungover :)

I'm a little apprehensive to send Livi ahead though. She has been so overstimulated this past week and as a result is over tired. I've tried to be anally rigid with her schedule and meeting her needs at every possible moment to compensate. I was away from her all day today, which never happens, so I'm already feeling a bit guilty. Damn Mother Guilt! I expect her to be a little more clingy than normal tomorrow and then I have to send her with Mom! I have no concerns about Livi's safety or needs being met with Mom, but she is going in to a new surrounding, with a lot of people who are going to be very excited to see her and I won't be there to read her signs and comfort her. The idea that I won't be there if she wants me KILLS me!

I'm usually not this tense about her being with out me. She does great! She is such an easy going, independent little angel. I think my anxiety is a little higher than normal because of the holidays and busyness for myself. I'm probably a little overstimulated too! Hopefully though, with so many people to watch Livi this weekend, I'll be able to relax and catch up on my sleep :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Extravaganza!

Christmas is so much more fun with a child to remind you of the wonder of it all. It was a complete joy. Livi was beautiful, as always, and I was at peace.

Our Christmas extravaganza started on Christmas Eve. Jon worked his last day as a Behavioural Interventionist and came home just after lunch. We went for a quick visit to my Grandparent's home. My Grandpa's health continues to worsen but he was in good spirits. They enjoy seeing their Great-Granddaughter so much. From there we headed out to Langley to celebrate Christmas with Jon's family. Lisa (Jon's sister) and her husband, Tony, couldn't make it, so it was just Jon's brothers and Mom.
Even though some of the family was missing we had fun! Dad being gone was not such a fresh wound as it was last year either. We missed him. We skipped some of the traditions that he would have held, but it was okay. We'll figure it out eventually and maybe come up with some new ones. Mom tried hard not to cry at one point but Livi was a pleasant distraction to us all. She was so fascinated by the Christmas lights and the bows. She was so enthralled by the bow of her first present that it took her a little while to figure out that there was, in fact, a present beneath the wrapping. She got the hang of it pretty quickly though. Her first present, from her Uncle Jeremy, was the the most entertaining and she was not interested in the clothes that followed.
The biggest surprise of the Christmas was the gift from Jon's mom... or is it from Dad. We received a bit of money from Dad's estate. I started crying. What an unexpected blessing! Remember how I was completely stressing about our finances just a few short weeks ago? It could have come at a better time! Now, with this gift and Jon's new job we could potentially be debt free withing 6 months! (Okay, we'll still have our huge government student loans and mortgage of course, but our maxed out student line of credit will be gone!) That is, if we are VERY good. I do expect there will be a little bit of splurging in the beginning.

We have decided to take a little bit of the money and go on a real vacation. We never had any time to relax and heal after Dad died. Livi was born exactly one month after he died. That was a VERY rough year. We've never gone on a "real" vacation either. Our honeymoon was only three days in Whistler and other than that we've been camping-ish in the Okanagan and on the Island...usually with other people. Being raised Mennonite and by a single mother my first thought in talking about a vacation was that it was a frivolous idea and my Grandpa would definitely not approve. I'm not sure if I can say that we deserve a vacation but I do think that taking some of the money and putting it towards something that will potentially be healing, relationship building and just plain fun is a very good thing. I just have to look at it like Dad is paying for it!

Christmas day we woke up to Livi beginning to stir and brought her in to the living room to discover the presents under the tree. She was ADORABLE! She stood and stared for a few seconds then crept up and sat beside the presents pointing and babbling. She wouldn't touch them until I handed one to her.
 She remembered what she was supposed to do from the night before and dove in. She LOVES all her presents! It was so fun. She couldn't decide what she wanted to play with and decided on sitting in her chair, holding her blocks while ordering Daddy to tickle her with her puppet.
We headed out in to the beautifully, bright sun and drove to Chiliwack right away for my family's Christmas.

More food, presents, fun, and laughter were had! I tried not to think about my sister who again chose not to come to Christmas. I miss her and it is not quite the same with out her. I think I'm going to have to come to terms with the fact that it is never going to be the same again... even if she does come back to us. Why is change so hard?

Well, I'm tired from a long day of Boxing Day sales and should head off to bed. My next few days are just as busy. Extended family gathering tomorrow, then catching the ferry with Livi for a meeting on Monday. I'll catch you up on that soon :) I hope you all had as fabulous a Christmas as I did!

This Christmas Extravaganza will be continued... Two more family gatherings and New Years to blog about soon!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I finally have access to my pictures again! So here are a few of those picture I promised...

Livi having tons of fun in the snow for the first time!

She had to use her forehead to help herself get up. Pretty awesome, I think!

This next picture makes me smile EVERY time I look at it... I dare you to try not too.

One of her new favorite pastimes to do with her Daddy is to watch the Muppets singing on YouTube. I'm not sure if Livi or Jon enjoy it more!

One last thing to update... I got a January 13th date for my gallbladder surgery! Yay! I had hear horror stories of people having to wait months or even a year! I think the doctor actually prioritized me because I'm having to take the pain meds every time I have an attack. I could really use some help with Livi the first few days after the surgery if anyone is available. I don't think I'll be allowed to pick her up and Jon will be at his new job... so anyone want to take my baby for a play date or come get her up in the morning for me?


Friday, December 18, 2009

A Weeks Recap

We have had a lot going on in our world this past week. Where should I start?

Let's start with Jon...
He got a new job! No more piecing together work between the two of us! This couldn't have come at a better time. I knew this month would be rough but I didn't think it would be this rough! We some how managed to pay the mortgage bill this month but the living expenses that we always put on the credit card (so I can get the Airmiles) will be paid off with the line of credit. That has NEVER happened before! I was really stressing about it. Things are looking up now though!

Jon is now a Quality Service Analyst for Community Living BC. He had to quit his part time job as a Behavioral Interventionist. Did I write about that before? He had a small 10 hour a week contract working with autistic kids at the Fraser Valley Child Development Center. He really loved it but was having a difficult time making it full time work. We are very excited about the CLBC job though. He is grossly under qualified but they loved his passion for people with special needs so much that they gave him the job anyway! It will not be working with persons with special needs as much as he would've liked but maybe we'll get to find another way to bring that into the mix soon. It is much more administrative. I think he is basically in charge of different funding and contracts and making sure the people who do have the privilege of working hands on are doing their jobs properly, safely and in the best interest of the client. He has a lot of power and his position is generally hated by caregivers because he is the one who says "yes" or "no" to funding. I really hope he loves it! He'll be in charge of contracts anywhere from Boston Bar, Hope, Chilliwack, Mission but probably mostly Langley and Abbotsford. The pay is much better than we are used to. I'm quite excited to have some breathing room in the budget to put towards paying off debt or in to savings towards a down payment for a house!

Me next...
I've been very excited and proud of my husband but I have had some major stresses this week too. My anxiety level has been steadily rising because of everything so I think I'm going to go back to my therapist in the new year. I've wanted to for a little while but haven't felt like I could afford it.

My Grandpa's health is still going down hill but I think I am okay with it. He has lived a full life and maybe he is ready to go. I just wish he would accept some help along the way. He is still talking about driving again one day and is very reluctant to accept the assistance we are so eager for him to take. It is becoming a safety issue and I'd hate for something bad to happen to necessitate us going over his head to get him in to a safer environment. He is a very proud man and his dignity would be very hurt.

The other major stressor is my sister (who is still not talking to us) got engaged a few days ago. I'm not really sure how exactly I am feeling about this yet. I go from feeling extremely positive and gracious about it, hoping a wedding could be common ground that brings her back to us, to thinking she can go fuck herself and I am done. Not very congruent emotions hey? I really do wish I could be authentically gracious, forgiving and accepting of the situation, but I'm not. I'm too reactionary and worrisome. I'm not sure how much hope I have for our relationship and if I don't have hope what is the point in trying? That is a very depressed statement but it is coming from a very real, hurt place. I think seeing my therapist will be good for me.

Gallstones are a BITCH! I've been getting attacks about twice a week! There doesn't seem to be any definitive triggers... well, except for food in general! I'll eat crazy healthy one day and get an attack, then eat really yummy Christmas goodies another day and be fine! I've done some research on the internet about what I should and shouldn't be eating but it really doesn't seem to matter. I mentioned this to my doctor and he is running some blood tests thinking it has something to do with my gallstones blocking the tube that empties from my pancreas. If that is the case that would only mean an extra procedure during the surgery I think. No long term effects thankfully. I don't have a surgery date yet. I am seeing the surgeon on December 23rd. I'm really hoping for a quick surgery date, but I have heard horror stories about the wait list. Let's all pray for a January 4th date!

Last, but definitely not least... Livi!
She is a very busy little girl. If we've been cooped up a little too much she'll end up running circles in our home between the kitchen and living room. She loves going out and socializing. She has no fear... except for maybe jumping off high places. She will run in to any situation eager to experience as much as she can. I like that she is such a little independant daredevil. She still needs her Mommy though :) At the end of a busy day she fills are home with illegible babble telling us everything that has happened and giving us lots of hugs, kisses and cuddles.

Her vocabulary has completely taken off. She repeats EVERYTHING we say. We have been getting way better at watching what words come out of our mouths :)  I've completely lost track of the number of words she has said. I think she is well in to the 50's. Livi has started building towers too. Those Megablocks that I bought at a garage sale last summer are finally getting used for other than sucking toys!
She is becoming such a big helper! She will systematically pass me all the dishes out of the lower rack of the dishwasher for me to put away. She puts things back in to the fridge when asked and can follow verbal prompts to pass me things. She cleans up her toys, when the clean up song is sung, and she LOVES closing doors and drawers for me.

I got to take Livi out to play in the snow for the first time the other day! She looked like a marshmellow. Her snowsuit was a size too big but it kept her dry! She was fascinated by the snow... but did not enjoy having to use her forehead to get up or the snow that fell in to her mitten. She had a lot of fun running around in it though. I loved how it completely wore her out. After we came inside and I had given her a bath, she went and got her fuzzy and soother from her crib (which she only ever uses for sleeping) and sat on the couch resting her head on the arm. It was ADORABLE. I didn't want to put her down for a nap quite yet because it was an hour early and she hadn't had her lunch yet. I got a three hour nap out of her though!

**I have pictures to post but Jon still hasn't fixed the desktop! I'll be sure to post lots as soon as I can.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Circle of Life

I love my grandparents. I don't think everyone can say that, either because they have passed away or they have not taken the time to really get to know them. I have been blessed to have been raised with a very close relationship with both my Grandma and Grandpa. Because my mother was on her own she relied heavily on her parents. They have always been there for her and for us. Although my Grandfather has taken a bit more of an old school approach to how he grandparents, he has been the only constant male figure in my life. He actually walked me down the aisle at my wedding. I am thankful for the role that he has played in my life. He has showed me how to be generous, forgiving, and strong... I think some of my stubbornness comes from him too though!

My Grandmother is one of the most beautiful women I know, inside and out. She is compassionate, authentic, humble, forgiving, hilarious (in a cute, naive, grandma-talking-about-sex kind of way), very loving and caring. Through all my struggles with religion and a relationship with God, I knew God was real, in part, because of her relationship with Him. When she prays, God listens. I'm not sure that I typically believe in a theology where God "answers" prayers. I think it can too easily lead to a belief that "good" Christians get a "yes" answer and "bad" Christians who don't pray hard enough get "no" answers. But, Grandma gets results every time and I'm not exaggerating.

I have been noticing for some time that they are getting older. Obviously, as time passes this happens but with recent events I am now coming to the realization that they may not be with us much longer. My Grandpa's health, especially, is deteriorating quicker than I was ready for. I took him to an appointment today and ended up breaking down and crying as I was driving away. It is hard to see such a strong, proud man lose his independence. I think it is harder for him to go threw the process though. My grandma worries about him so much too and her worry is starting to take a toll on her own health. It is fortunate that I live within about 8 blocks away from them. I've been able to help out with driving them to appointments, going on errands for them and helping to get their groceries. It is hard for them to ask for help though. They don't call me as often as they could. I try to stop in a few times a week and make sure I am available for them both. It is an honor I never really understood, until now, to be able to help care for two people that have cared for and helped raise me.

 I love that they have the opportunity to know their great-granddaughter. Grandma's face, literally, lights up at the mere mention of Livi. I don't know if Livi will remember them very well but I hope she knows what an impact they have had and continue to have on my life.

Four generations of Schmidt women. I am so blessed to be a part of this family.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa Clause is Coming To Town!

Last Friday, we set up the Christmas Tree. As soon as Halloween is over, I get the itch to start decorating for Christmas! Jon had to reign me in and give the stipulation of December 1st or the first weekend of advent, which ever comes first. With the destruction that Livi has caused to my beautiful Christmas tree this year I think I'll be holding off on decorating a bit next year. We haven't had any major catastrophes but the bottom two feet of the tree is very sparsely decorated now.

I was so excited to get the tree up and have a fabulous family evening. It really was all that I had hoped for... except that the dinner and dessert I made REALLY didn't turn out at all :( Oh Well, it'll make for some good memories though! We ate, drank and were Merry! Livi had so much fun. She was a little over stimulated but did really well. I think her favorite thing was the soft Nativity set that my mom has given us. She LOVES it and plays with it every day. She moves it from the bookshelf, where it should be, to the coffee table, to the floor and back to the bookshelf. It is quite cute. Once she went to bed Jon and I cuddled up on the couch and watched a movie. I love date nights :)

Yesterday we took Livi to see Santa Clause! The line up took much longer than anticipated and we where there for an hour! Livi tried to be patient but didn't completely succeed. We got a pretty great picture though! Hat was not quite on right but she smiled, which is more than I was expecting!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Listen To Your Kids

Sunday night at church, one of our teaching pastors interviewed a Christian gay musician, who grew up in the Abbotsford Christian community. He shared his story through hating who he was and beliefs that God and his family would not love him if they knew, in to a musician with a debut album that chronicles his journey. He is hoping that his music can help gay teens who are having similar experiences that he did and help bridge the gap between homosexuals and Christians.

His story was authentic and eye-opening but his music just mediocre. The amazing part of the evening for me was not his journey but his parent's. His whole family had joined us at our church that evening. With them sitting there, he gave some insight in to how they handled his "coming out". He didn't go in to detail but from the little that was said it sounded like he approached it in steps for them and it was received with a whole array of emotions. The parents raised their kids in a conservative Christian home with the traditional belief that homosexuality was a sin. 

All of this is just back story for the really fabulous part of the evening. The floor was opened up to questions and comments, which is when his father spoke up. I think the parent's emotions were still raw over everything. His father spoke to his son with such emotion, filling their relationship with restoration and love. For the seven of the 13 years that his son struggled struggled with his sexuality, the family had no idea. They assumed it was just teenage angst. While the father spoke he broke down crying, pleading with parents to listen to their kids. I can imagine there must be a lot of feelings of guilt on the parents side. He went up to the front, embraced his son and through tears, told him that he loved him. You can't get more organic or beautiful than that.

The father's words really made me think. Do I have ideas for my daughter's future? Yes, I do. Is it wrong of me to think or hope that she is going to be hetero sexual and have a family? (Not to say that homosexuals can't have a family.) Why do I have a preconceived idea for her? I think it must be my own upbringing and environment. How would I handle her being bi-sexual or homosexual? Will I create an open and accepting environment for her to feel comfortable enough to talk to me about anything? I really hope so! As the artist's father said "listen to your kids". That listening starts now. I want to be her friend as well as her mother. I want her to feel and know that I will love her no matter what. 

As far as my personal views go regarding sexuality, I'm fairly accepting. I believe as long as people are coming from a place of health and respect for themselves and their sexual partner/s, any relationship can be beautiful, no matter what that relationship looks like. I believe there is a kind of scale people are on in regards to homo or hetero sexuality. Some people tend towards the more hetero side of the scale, some are in the middle and bisexual, and some are more on the homo side of the scale. We joke about this "scale" at parties and often refer to it as a "sliding scale", dependent upon how many drinks you've had :)  Some people may think that I am living in a desensitized culture and opening my views up to much. That may be true in some instances, but wouldn't it be better to error on the side of love and acceptance than on the side that breeds judgment and seclusion? As a song that was covered on Sunday night says "You're frozen when your heart's not open."