10 December 2012

Remembering the Good

Sometimes just when I'm burying myself under a mountain self-pity over my hard knock life, I stumbled across the blog of someone who has it much, much worse. Someone whose job as a mother is to keep her child comfortable while she waits for his short life to end. And as I read through the bad-day posts of depression and bitterness and the good-day posts of love and joy, I realize that I have it good. So very good. Even on hard days, days when I worry that we'll have to deal with heart surgery and the big C before Kindergarten or days when people won't acknowledge my child, I can rest assured that I am not holding any member of my family in my arms and wondering if today will be their last day. I haven't had a serious concern over Abigail drawing another breath since heart surgery 15 months ago. The blogs re-calibrated my whole weekend. They made me forget the rain and the arguments and the frustrating Christmas lights and focus on all the things that went right.

For an entire week now, Matt and I have stayed strong against the snooze button when the alarm goes off at 6:30am. We've had leisurely mornings with enough time to shower, dress, eat, and even kiss one another good morning. Matt insightfully noted that you can't have a lazy morning when you sleep in. Sleeping in leads to congestion later in the morning when there isn't enough time to make coffee or put breakfast bowls in the dishwasher. Getting up on time, however, even on the weekends, can go so far as to secure a few moments of alone time in the morning before small children wake up and demand to be fed.

The weekend brought a very luxurious and enjoyable trip to Ikea that is best described as the field trips one takes when they are of school age. I always thought Ikea had poor quality, uber modern furniture and was of no interest to a person like me until we got their 2013 catalog in the mail this fall. It only took one perusal of that catalog before I was hooked. Matt and I decided to get Abigail a tot-sized table and chair for Christmas, didn't see anything we liked on Craig's List, and so decided to make a trip of it.

We spent hours wandering through bedroom models, sitting at desks, testing the hearty-ness of shelves, marveling over $5 2-pack magazine holders and $4 kids' play dishware. We talked about the furniture arrangements and curtains we'd like to have once we get settled at our long-term home in Lansing. I let Abigail test out every play kitchen we came across (most were too tall for her, though) and play under bed canopies. When we got hungry, we made our way to the cafeteria where we piled food on big white trays and received coupons to deduct our food purchase from our total furniture purchase (a weekend sale thing). We're going to keep Abigail's present in the box until she goes to bed on December 24th, then we'll build it, tie a ribbon on it, and let her discover it on Christmas morning. But it turns out that Ikea is one of those places where you go to buy one thing and walk out with a dozen. Cue my new craft table:

I HAVE A WORKSPACE! I'm very excited. I've been crafting for 18 years, but have never had a permanent place to do it. There isn't much storage, so my stash of yarn will remain in its current closet-shelving system, but I think it's a really good place to start. I envision keeping my sewing machine on it and it's big enough that I'll be able to make hair clippies and Christmas decorations and paper crafts on it instead of the kitchen table, so I won't have to clean everything up and put it all away before dinner (cause, as all you crafty-types can attest, projects don't always fit neatly into one afternoon). It was very inexpensive and came in boxes so small they fit in the trunk of our Focus.

We also bought Abigail some small play cups. Her occupational therapist recommended that we get cups small enough to fit in Abigail's hands and her speech therapist recommended that we get toys that encourage imaginative play for Christmas.

Although she's still a bit young to play tea party, she does really love having things in her size. All evening long, she scooted around the apartment, carrying the cups around to small corners and spaces, where she piled them all together, stacking and unstacking repeatedly.

The next day she was feeling pretty silly and was carrying the stemware around like this:

While I was out getting some alone time on Sunday (which consisted of going to confession and giving blood at a church blood draw following confession), Matt reported that Abigail woke up from her nap, looked at him in the eyes, and said, clear as a bell, "Mama?" He told her I was out. "Dada?" When Abigail started experimenting with the letter "m," she used to just scoot around the apartment saying "mumumumumumumum" to herself. As time went on, the speech therapist made me realize that she'd progressed to only saying the letter "m" around me. She also wasn't using the letter "d" around me as much as she did around Matt. The ST advised that Abigail was slowly beginning to make word approximations. I think yesterday was the climax. She has also been paying tons of attention to our hands when we use sign language, finally seems to know the difference between "eat" and "more" (she used to use "more" to mean "eat"), and is making a much more clear and accurate "more." Abigail is very chatty and her speech therapist notes every time we see her that Abigail has a very strong social/emotional intelligence. She told us that kids who aren't as physical spend more time focusing on people and making verbal communications, so the calm, quiet ones are usually more in-tune to their parents whereas the rambunctious ones tend to be more delayed in the speech department. I'd also like to throw in that she's also a girl. That de-facto makes her a talker.

In the physical therapy department, I started doing baby yoga with her and working her out while letting her watch an episode of Blues Clues (it is amazing how much longer she'll hold a squat or a tall kneel while distracted). The extra work is really paying off as she is making much more progress toward using her core muscles to move herself. She is also much stronger when standing and starting to take halting steps when we hold both her hands.

It is amazing that we can sometimes go for weeks with very little progress and then suddenly, she starts whizzing through every department's checklists all at once. Another thing, she's starting to stack blocks on top of one another and using her fingers to point to things instead of her thumbs.

This weekend also involved Christmas decorations:

 Our meager supplies filling the space nicely. Remember these from last year?

I totally stole this idea from Pintrest:

Today the temps dipped back down into the 20s and 30s and I can honestly say that it's finally beginning to feel like Christmas, the Christmas we remember growing up, after several years of Christmas in shorts will palm trees.

So I promised some good news in my last blog post and here it is: We had renter's insurance when my apartment building was robbed in August!


If you'll recall, I let my renter's insurance expire in December 2011 to save money, thinking since we didn't use it in hurricane-prone Florida, we probably weren't going to need it in the mid-west. The day after we were robbed, I re-purchased renter's insurance. Well, we got a piece of mail from the insurance company two weeks ago, but it was mailed to my old address in Florida and forwarded up here. I was pretty frustrated that the wrong address was on the mail, so I called up the company only to find out that the policy I thought expired had automatically renewed. When I called to buy a new policy a few months ago, I had bought a second, separate policy. She said the previous policy was automatically renewed, paid via an EFT. I racked my brain, talked to Matt, and searched through our account records, but I can't find evidenced that it was ever paid. Plus, Matt and I despise EFTs and never sign up for them unless it is mandatory. I made her double check, but she says they say they were paid, so I won't argue. She was able to cancel the one policy and refund us our money, so we aren't paying for two renter's insurance policies.

Even though the policy listed our Florida address, it will cover goods stored in a storage unit anywhere in the country, so the bikes and everything that was taken is covered! We do have a $500 deductible, so we won't get the full amount back, but getting something back is better than nothing. We're pretty excited. This robbery cost us as much as two years worth of the policy costs, but having experienced how easily and secretly a robbery can be executed and now understanding how devastating it would be to lose the belongings we keep in our apartment, it is totally worth it to own. If our two laptops were stolen, the cost of them plus their more expensive software would be more than 7 years worth of policies.

I'd like to leave you with this one last image. The little panda bear is a speaker. He is blaring Christmas music. The white cat is sleeping next to the panda bear blaring Christmas music. Just in case you didn't believe me that she is deaf.

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