Eight years ago

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Eight years ago this sweet being came into our life.  She did not at all come in quietly but of course she has also, just like her sister and her brother, left an impressionable mark on my heart ever since.

I’ve written about Caleigh’s birth before.  Every year on her birthday, I count my blessings for how healthy she is.  This year, as I think about how grateful I am for having her for a daughter, I’m also in equal amount of shock that she is in fact eight years old.  When did that happen?  She’s halfway to her driver’s license.

As my kids get older, the things that used to worry me are replaced with new worries.  Instead of watching as she stumbles while learning to navigate stairs, now I watch as she navigates the ups and downs of friendships at school.  I used to wonder if she was safe in the playroom to play on her own and now I wonder if she’s safe as she walks down the road, out of sight, to the park on her own.

I love the person she is becoming.  When she was first-born, I wondered if I would love being a mom as she grew older as much as I loved being a mom when she was a baby.  That sounds so incredibly selfish, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it but I didn’t know if I would like it as much.  And now that I’m here, I realize that I love it just as much, just in a different way.  Instead of watching her as she reaches her different milestones (first smile, first step, first word), I’m now watching as she develops her own sense of self and passions in life.  I have moments of pride and moments of heartbreak as she goes through different stages.  And I most especially love how our relationship as mom and daughter as evolved.

I watch as she figures out her emotions.  I watch as she rebels against her bedtime.  I watch as she learns that alone time is sometimes just as important as together time.  I watch as she learns about the repercussions of choosing play over homework.  I watch as she reaches that age where she still is, and wants to be, a kid but at the same time, she wants to be more grown up.  I listen to her as she shares her day at school with me.  I cuddle with her in bed when she cries over the unjust in the life of a (now) eight year old girl.  I laugh with her over jokes, funny stories, and memories from when she was younger.

Eight years from now it will be a totally different experience.  High school.  Boys.  Part time jobs.  Sports.  Right now, I’ll enjoy Rainbow Loom marathons and playing Uno.

Happy, happy birthday Caleigh.

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Two years ago

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Two years ago this sweet being came into our lives.  She came in quietly and has left an impressionable mark on my heart ever since.

Tom and I debated on having a third baby.  At the time, with a five year old and a three year old, it seemed like we had the perfect family.  It didn’t feel as though there was a piece missing.  Since before we were married, we had thought that three kids would be what we wanted.  But two difficult pregnancies later, my enthusiasm and desire for a third had waned.  But as I watched Blake grow from a toddler into a little boy, something pulled at my heart.  A feeling that I simply chalked up to the sadness that comes when I realized my “babies” were no longer babies.  But as that feeling grew stronger, we revisited the topic of a third little one.  We decided to give it six months and it if was meant to be, it was meant to be.  Apparently, it was.

It was the best decision of our lives.

Within moments of her birth, when I had my first opportunity to hold her and look into her eyes, I knew that Maggie completed our family.  I hadn’t realized that our puzzle was missing a piece.

Dearest Maggie, you are a spitfire.  I have no doubt you will contribute to more grey hairs on my head than your older brother and sister combined.  You are adventurous and brave.  I love how you leap into the arms of people you trust and love – how you come hurtling down the hallway when I arrive home, yelling “mama” and jump into my arms.  I love how you already count to twenty, kind of, because you get to nineteen and then go back to sixteen or fourteen or whatever number is on the tip of your tongue.  I love how you will argue with whoever tries to convince you that something is any colour other than green.  I love how you follow your big sister around like a shadow.  I love how you snuggle with your big brother on the couch.  I love that when you hug your daddy, you snuggle into his neck and announce “MY dada”.  I love to watch as you learn to express yourself both verbally and through emotions, as hard as that can be sometimes.  I love that for the last two weeks, you’ve sung the words to “happy birthday” to yourself as you are falling asleep.

I know you want to be a big girl – to play with the your brother and sister and the big girls outside but I beg of you, don’t grow up too quickly.  Be my baby girl just a little while longer.  There will be plenty of time to be a big girl and there is only so much time to be a little one.  As I type this, I realize that by me asking this of you, it’s really a reminder to me to enjoy these years too.  The days may be long but yes, the years are too short.

Happy birthday sweet Maggie.

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Happy 5th Birthday, Blake

 

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So, today our Blake turns five.  Five years old.  I’m not really sure how this happened. I mean, logistically I understand it. Five years ago he was born.  And since then time has gone by, 1825 days to be exact.  But there are days I look at him and wonder just how five whole years have gone by.

There are mornings when he wakes up and I swear that he grew overnight.  His face is just different, he’s older.  I am convinced that if I had time lapse photography, I would have watched him literally grow through the nighttime hours.

Yesterday we celebrated those five years with nine of his school mates.  Blake is a quiet guy, he likes to keep to himself for the most part.  Up until about 2 1/2 weeks ago, he didn’t want a birthday with his friends, he wanted to celebrate with his family (be still, my heart).  Then one day on the way to school he announces that he does, in fact, want a birthday with his friends.  So quickly invitations go out and plans are made – an Olympics themed birthday party it will be.

It was a lot of fun to plan and a lot of fun to watch the kids enjoy.  There were four different events – a three legged race (epic fail, by the way.  The kids were frustrated long before the race even began), a bean bag toss, a egg & spoon race, and an obstacle course. The obstacle course was by far the winner – the kids went through it about eight times each.  And by the end of the party, they were still attacking it while the parents watched on.

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The balance beam.

 

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Crawling (or rolling) under the ropes.

 

Jumping through four tires.

Jumping through four tires.

Here’s hoping that each of these guys, despite the sugar in the cake, went home and slept really well for their parents.  I know I did.  I was exhausted and in a daze by the time it was done.  It was only two hours but yet it seemed to last a lot longer.  Ten little guys, hopped up on birthday excitement, bring a whole lot of energy to an afternoon.  They literally did not stop for two hours straight.  We went from game to game to game, then threw in the birthday cake and opening of the presents, and immediately back to games.

Regardless of how tired I was, how much icing we had to scrape off the floor, or how many balloons we had to deflate, at the end of the day, our Blake was one happy boy.  As he and I lay in his bed, reading his bedtime story, he looked at me and took my face in his hands and said: “Momma, thank you for my party, I had a really good time.”

And that, makes every chaotic moment worth it.

Happy birthday, Blake.

 

 

The quiet days in between the busy days

So, last week a little busy.  We had THIS.  Then THIS.  Then we spent the night of Caleigh’s birthday at my dad’s place which was filled with the kids’ excitement of not being at home.  Then the day after we had another child’s birthday party followed by carving six pumpkins (five Ryan family members plus the dog’s….don’t ask).  The following words come to mind: loud, busy, fun, colourful, sugar.

Come Sunday evening, I was exhausted.

I literally sat on the couch last night, feet up, wine in hand, and watched a movie without having any idea what it was about.

So today I did pretty much nothing.  I had a quiet day.  I bailed on CrossFit (although did a home workout that lasted about 30 minutes, I just didn’t want the whole gym experience that I normally thrive on).  I wore yoga pants all day.  I laid on the couch and watched a movie with Blake and Maggie.  I visited my mom and stepdad with the kids.  When Caleigh got home, we made bracelets out of elastic bands.  I did a few loads of laundry, baked some muffins, and made dinner.  It was all very laid back, relaxed, and lovely.

These are the days that I need and love (the quiet days), in between the other days that I need and love (the more full days of adjusting and kids activities and everything else that comes with life of a family of five).  The quieter days that, when I lay my head down on my pillow in about a half hour, I smile.  These days leave me feeling rested and grateful for my family, my health, and our ability to provide such a lovely, full, wonderful life for our kids.

It is about having an appreciation the small things like scooping out muffin batter to make the easiest by design muffins with my son as he squeals with delight when the batter plops perfectly into each muffin cup.  Or like watching Maggie laugh hysterically as her older brother and sister run around in circles, convulsed in their own laughter.  Or like watching Caleigh fall in love with her latest obsession, the Rainbow loom bracelets.  Enjoying a glass of red wine, listening to a great mix on Songza, and now writing my blog post about it all.  It was all just great, every moment of it.

And now, I’m going to bed.

 

 

Happy 7th Birthday Caleigh

Yes, the second birthday in as many days in our home!  Caleigh turns seven today.  SEVEN.

Seven years ago today, I woke up in labour at five in the morning.  At 9:45 that evening Caleigh came into the world.  It was a bit of a crazy welcome.  I won’t bore you with all of the details but in short, her health was less than good when she was born.  Her APGAR scores were low.  She wasn’t breathing well.  And she spent the next ten days in the NICU for a number of health challenges.  There were times when she would stop breathing.  She would have seizures.  The doctors performed a multitude of tests – EKGs, nerve conductions tests, various scans, etc. – to determine what was going on.  So many tests with no answers coming back.  There never came an answer….her symptoms simply disappeared over time and she regained complete function of her body.  Her heart is on the right side of her chest and her aorta attaches differently than it should, but she is a healthy, thriving, fantastic little girl who is about to turn seven.  SEVEN.

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I look back on those first ten days and it still catches my breath.  I remember songs on the radio that would play.  I remember the smell of the NICU.  I can hear the beep of the machines that monitored her breathing, heart rate, and pulse.  It really does feel like just yesterday although we’ve obviously had seven amazing years since.

There were two massive lessons I learned in those ten days.

1.  The power that made the body has the ability to heal the body.  Caleigh didn’t know what was going on, she was just a newborn.  Yet she fought every step of the way to get healthy.  Her body just knew what it needed to do in order to heal.  Yes, it took time.  And in the beginning, it was very much an uphill battle.  But she won.  She’s healthy.  Tom and I adjusted her daily, if not multiple times a day when needed.  Her body had massive interference to the crucial brain-body connection and an adjustment each time allowed her to heal faster and more efficiently.  I’m so grateful for our knowledge and expertise in chiropractic.

2.  Trust.  I had to have 100% trust in the team of professionals that was taking care of our baby girl.  Many times, there wasn’t even a moment to ask questions.  She wasn’t breathing?  Do what needs to be done to get her to breathe again.  She’s having seizures regularly?  Do what needs to get done to calm those down.  Heart not responding properly?   Do the test to find out what is wrong.  The doctors kept us informed and up to date with each new step but in reality it was out of our hands.  Letting go and not having control of your child’s health – and life – is both easy and hard.  Easy in the sense of you want what is best for your child.  Hard in the sense that you feel helpless.  Where we felt in connection with her health and life is when we could adjust her.  Clear the subluxation, clear the interference, and let the body do what it needs to do to heal.

And here we are, seven years later.  Caleigh, you are just fantastic.  So kind, so thoughtful, so smart.  You make me so proud in all that you do.  You love your family and you have a small but tight circle of friends, all of whom you truly care about.  Your heart is so big and you reach out to those who need help, need a smile, or need a hug.  You love to be on your own and be able to retreat into a book or craft.  I envision such great things for you.  As you grow, my two greatest wishes are that you are healthy and happy.  Follow your heart.  Do what you love.  We’re here to watch you take on the world in whatever way you choose.

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