Sunday, August 25, 2013

Happy Baby!

"She's a really happy baby!" a stranger commented while we were at the zoo, waiting for the creature showcase to begin.
"Most of the time," I agreed, "but you should see her when she has a meltdown! It's scary!"
Michelle was having a really good day. She was smiling and waving at strangers, running around laughing, chattering away and making excited little noises. If only every day were like that! I thought.

A few people have commented lately on what a happy baby she is and how good Michelle is. The thing is that they don't see her all the time. They're not there 24-7 like I am. They don't get to see her temper tantrums, the moments when she's a monster. Michelle is intense. Her joy and excitement is off the charts. The down side of it is that when she's displeased with something, when she's tired, when she doesn't get her way instantly etc, she can be a terror. Sometimes I get lucky and nothing displeases her. The Zoo turned out to be a perfect day.

Well-rested and in a good mood, Michelle was an absolute angel all day. She was well-behaved during the car ride. She napped part way and was content even when she woke up. At the zoo she was thrilled to see so many animals in real life that she had only seen in books and on TV before. It was almost as much fun for me watching her reaction to everything as it was for her to meet all the animals for the first time.

If you read my Butterflies post then you know Michelle had been walking barefoot and couldn't seem to handle shoes. Luckily in a bag of clothes a friend had given me for Michelle there was a pair of little white shoes that now fit her perfectly. She was wobbly in them at first but after some practice (on the grass and the sand) was running around like a pro. A good thing too because I didn't want her bare foot on the gravel and she was too excited to stay in the stroller for long.

Michelle could barely contain herself. She was running around and pointing at everything as if to say "Wow! Look Mama! ZEBRAS! MONKEYS! BEARS!"

At the creature showcase she seemed as interested in staring at people in the audience as actually looking at the animals -- a tarantula, turtles, snakes, a baby alligator, a baby kangaroo and a baby bobcat. When I heard you could get your photo taken with the snakes and alligator afterward I was first in line! It's not every day you can have your picture taken next to a baby alligator (his jaw taped closed so you wouldn't lose any fingers!) or a boa constrictor. Michelle wasn't quite as enthused as I was. She didn't want to touch them when the handlers invited us to. She was like "Uh, no thanks. I'm good." She was even doing a nervous thing with her tongue. Come to think of it she kind of looks like a snake in this photo!

I couldn't wait for her to see the lions and tigers because she's always making roaring sounds "Grrr" every time she sees a tiger in a book or on TV or if you say the word tiger or lion. Of course like all cats they nap for most of the day. When we first got to the tiger cage he was sleeping and turned the opposite way. At least he rolled over so we could see his face. The male lion was awake but looked rather bored. So Michelle didn't get to hear any real life roaring though we did get to hear Katy Perry's new song "Roar" on the radio which was perfectly timed on our way to the zoo.

Michelle especially loved watching the monkeys running around and swinging back and forth. She was laughing her head off. Every time I tried to get a photo either she was blurry or the monkeys were or I got the back of her head (it was like trying to capture pictures of Michelle and the butterflies. An exercise in futility!) I finally wound up taking a bit of video of her watching the monkeys, that way I could capture her laughter too. I added some of the photos to it and put it on Youtube. Here is a link to the video, Michelle and Me at the Zoo:


The Twin Valley Zoo isn't quite as enormous as the Metro Zoo (which I'll take Michelle to when she's a little older) but I was still exhausted by the end of the day after walking around in the sun so much and carrying Michelle half the time. She was too excited to stay in the stroller so I let her walk on her own a bit but wound up carrying her a lot because when she's on the ground she just runs amok and doesn't usually go in the direction I want her to. Carrying a 20 lb baby (she must be that by now. Though she sometimes feels like 50 lbs!) up hill and in the sun was quite a workout. I was panting by the end of it. I was wishing I could ride in the stroller.
Michelle was fine with the real bears when we saw them but was a bit nervous of the bear statue. I couldn't resist getting a picture with it. Though she was reluctant at first she warmed up to it after the first photo and I even managed to get a smile for the second shot.
Everything is an adventure with Michelle. Of course I loved the zoo even before having a baby but now it's even more special. Seeing the world through her eyes makes it that much more amazing and magical. I love animals but Michelle is absolutely in awe of them. Her joy and excitement is infectious. I am so grateful to be able to share these experiences with her. I hope she never loses her childlike sense of wonder. I am glad that she is such a "happy baby" most of the time. Having a perfect day like we had at the zoo makes it all worthwhile. Even when it's followed by a day from Hell when she's overtired and screaming like a banshee. But I'll save that for another blog!                                    

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day tripper

Although it really isn't in the budget to go anywhere on vacation over the summer (or at any time for that matter!) it's still nice to get out on day trips. Some of them are even free.

We had a great time at the beach with my Mom, May, Shannon and Reggie. We didn't get in the water other than up to my ankles. It was too cold anyway and Michelle isn't a fan of the lake yet. She loves running around on the sand and chasing the seagulls. I have a hard time keeping up with her!

I found Michelle this little polka dot outfit on sale at Old Navy. I was relieved to find a hat that would actually stay on her head and that she wouldn't grab off. The fact that it matched the swimsuit was just icing on the cake.


I always loved the beach but it is definitely different now. It's still fun, it's just a lot more work. Before having a baby I could travel light. A towel and some sunscreen and I was good to go. I could lay on the sand and soak up the sun or float in the water, carefree. Now I have to bring a whole kit and caboodle -- a tent for shade, snacks for the baby, water diapers, changes of clothes, toys, etc and let me tell you, pushing a stroller packed to the gills through deep, soft sand is no easy feat! There's no lounging on the sand anymore. I spend 99% of the time chasing after Michelle and making sure she doesn't get hurt. There's no floating in the water anymore. Michelle doesn't even let me go in the water if I wanted to. I still love to listen to the waves, to hear the seagulls and to watch people on the beach. My favourite thing now is watching Michelle's excitement as she discovers everything.
The tent is a godsend. My sister always had one and I got one myself when they were on sale half price. It's great to store all your stuff in and it's somewhere to retreat to for a few moments at least for shade.
Michelle wouldn't stay in the tent for long and while there she was trying to pull everything out of the bags. I managed to keep her still for a few moments by letting her have some snacks. She LOVES "Mum Mums" rice rusks.
Having been on the beach with her before I knew better what to expect and didn't stress out quite as much about her being covered in sand. It's not the end of the world. I really wish they could invent a sunscreen that wasn't so darn thick and sticky but then I guess it wouldn't be waterproof and stay put. I'm always careful to cover Michelle so she doesn't get a burn. I don't usually bother to cover myself quite as well so I get a little pink. We redheads have to be careful in the sun. I got a severe burn as a child where I turned purple and got blisters (they didn't have SPF 60 back then I guess, if my Mom put sunscreen on me at all) and still have huge freckles on my shoulders. I think it would be cute if Michelle got a couple of little freckles on her cheek but I know that freckles are actually sun damage and I want to protect her skin.
I managed to get  Michelle to stay still for a few moments at least because she wanted to sit up in a big girl chair next to her cousin Shannon. I LOVE these shots of them smiling at each other. At some point when she's older I'm sure I'll have to tell Michelle that it's not polite to point but at this stage she's so excited about everything that she's pointing all the time -- at people, places, animals, objects, everything. When you even say the word excited she clenches her fists and shakes. She understands and reacts to so many different words. I can't even keep track of all the new words she's saying now. She eats little bits of cheese now and all of a sudden said "cheese" perfectly. She was saying "up" for quite a while but says "down" now too. She says "Hi" and "Bye." "Yes" (actually yep! I hope she didn't get that from me!) and "No" (more like "Nah" but with a head shake to be sure. She's been doing the head shake for a while.) She even tried to say "fish" but it's hard to make an "f" sound without teeth since you kind of bite your lip to say it.
She wants to be outside 24-7 but it seems to be good for her since she's more alert and learning more every day. She's taking more of an interest in books and turns the pages almost perfectly by herself. She goes to the shelves to pick out what she wants me to read and gets so excited she screams. Then she sits on my lap and waits for me to begin.
I want to go to the beach with her again. There haven't been a lot of really hot days (though I am relieved about that since I don't have air conditioning at home and the cooler weather has been really nice especially in the evening for sleeping.) I'd love to go to Port Dover. It's always been my favourite beach. I love the water, the palm trees and the little shops along the beach. Of course I haven't been there since before the baby and it is a bit of a drive to get there. At least she survived our trip to Wasaga Beach when we went up for Evie's birthday party so there is hope. My Mom said she doesn't want to go on any long rides with the baby again. It's fine if you time it perfectly and get lucky and Michelle naps most of the way but when she doesn't nap and is cranky, being trapped in a car with a screaming baby is pretty stressful!
I wanted to do something different with Michelle and I know that she loves animals so another day I thought I'd take her to a petting zoo or farm. There is a great one at Waterloo Park, Eby Farm, and it's free! Michelle loved seeing the pigs, sheep, goats, pony, donkey, llamas, ducks, geese, fuzzy chickens and peacocks. To my surprise when she saw the sheep she even went "Baaa!" She hadn't done that before. She'd certainly heard me do it enough when I sang Old Macdonald or read her stories with sheep in them but she'd never actually done it herself until then.  
She has a little Dora book where Dora goes to the farm and sees all the different animals. I thought it would be good for Michelle to meet all the different animals in person. She was thrilled. Other people were reaching their fingers in to touch the animals. I was reluctant to let Michelle do that because I was worried it wouldn't be sanitary. She puts her hands in her mouth too much so it's probably not a good idea to touch a pig! She was pointing at each of the animals though and squealing with delight.
A couple of girls were trying to take their own picture with the llamas. I offered to take their picture and then asked if they'd take one of Michelle and I with the llama. It's easier than trying to find a spot to sit the camera and setting the timer. They even almost caught Michelle smiling, having one of her Mum Mum biscuits.
They say the best things in life are free and it is great to be able to take Michelle out on adventures without spending anything (well, aside from gas which certainly isn't free these days. I was glad it dropped below $1.30/L, of course I remember back in the days when it was below a dollar and we couldn't believe it might go UP to a dollar. Now we'd be lucky if it would ever go DOWN to a dollar again!) Seeing Michelle's reaction to everything is priceless. Everything is new and magical and exciting. Her excitement is infectious. It makes me happy too. We were both well-rested which made it a perfect day. If only that happened more often!
Even after being out all day Michelle still wants to go to the backyard when we're back home. She wants to be outside constantly. I wonder if she'll still be like that in the winter. I've never been a snow person myself but I know it's different with kids. For her sake I will brave the cold weather, make snow angels, build snowmen and go tobogganing. Everything is an adventure with Michelle anyway.
Someday I would like to take Michelle on trips around the world. For now, we can enjoy day trips close by. Michelle is so excited by everything. She even has fun running back and forth on the sand in our own little backyard beach. She was yelling "Bee!" when she saw bumblebees in the garden, pointing at planes and birds flying overhead and grasshoppers jumping around on the ground. She paces back and forth chattering away in her own little language, complete with hand gestures. Then she sits on the swing for a few moments with Mama before running off again.

Every day brings something new to discover. The world is full of wonder and Michelle is eager to take it all in. Sometimes when she refuses to nap and doesn't sleep well at night I think it's probably because she doesn't want to miss anything!   

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Michelle wants to be outside all the time now. I have to be careful that my little red-haired girl doesn't get a burn so I try to keep her in the shade or slather her in sunscreen when the sun is unavoidable. The weather has been perfect so I've been taking advantage and taking long walks with her, trips to the park etc. I wanted to do something new and different with her so I thought of going to the Butterfly Conservatory. It's like being outside indoors in a gorgeous tropical paradise. It had been years since I'd been to either the one in Cambridge or Niagara. I know it was always magical to me and I thought she'd be excited. The Cambridge one isn't as big but it's less of a drive so I thought I'd give it a whirl. At least kids get in free under 2 years old. So if she was cranky and throwing a tantrum we could leave and it wouldn't be the end of the world.

It wasn't too long of a drive but Michelle was getting crankier by the minute. She had a good morning nap but hadn't had her afternoon nap yet. I started to worry that she was either going to fall asleep just as we got there or be fussy the whole time and not even enjoy it. Luckily she perked up and was thrilled when I took her out of her car-seat. I just carried her in my arms. I figured the stroller would take up too much room and I might run over a butterfly. I'd just hold her and then let her down to walk a little if she insisted (and yes, she did insist.)

As expected, Michelle was over the moon with excitement. We entered this tropical paradise (and it was HOT. I was so glad I had dressed light because I remembered how balmy they keep those places -- at Cambridge and Niagara --  even though it was relatively cool outside I wore a little halter top. Carrying Michelle most of the time made it feel even hotter. I did let her down to explore and it was hard to keep her from running.) and it was magical. Butterflies were flying by our heads, landing on leaves and I was frantically trying to capture it all. I kept changing from sport mode to macro to portrait mode and nothing seemed to work. I ended up with many blurry shots. I wanted a perfect shot of Michelle AND the butterflies but it seemed like I had to choose one or the other and even that was difficult.

I'm not sure what is a bigger challenge -- to capture a fluttering butterfly or a running baby! I think it's a tie. It was hard to get a good shot of either alone never mind both. My fantasy was to get a shot of a big beautiful Blue Morpho on her shoulder as she stood there posing, still and smiling, perfectly. Yeah, that didn't quite happen. At one point a Blue Morpho actually landed on me but when I asked a stranger to please get a picture for me they didn't grasp the concept. They were focusing in on the butterfly and my leg. WTF. What's the point in that? It could be anyone's leg. That's no souvenir! "No," I tried to explain, "if you could please get a picture of my daughter and I WITH the butterfly." He looked at me like I had three heads (perhaps I did at that point.) He didn't even have a camera. He probably thought I was nuts to be taking pictures anyway. He was just there because his wife dragged him. I should have known better. There was nowhere to set a self-timer and in ten seconds the moment would be lost. His wife who was sitting on a bench looking weary herself (I guess the kids had dragged her there as well) tried to take one for me but she wasn't much help either and the butterfly moved on to other legs and shoulders. The opportunity was lost.

I am a photoholic. I don't just LIKE to take photos. I NEED to take photos. If I miss a photo op it physically HURTS! I have this obsessive need to capture every moment, especially those once in a lifetime magical moments like your favourite butterfly landing on you. Anyway I settled for taking a picture of one on a teenaged boy's shoulder. "Don't move!" I said, "There's a beautiful butterfly on your back!" The poor kid stayed there like a statue while I (and a few other passersby) snapped photos of the elusive Morpho.

I did meet a very nice girl who had made friends with one of the butterflies (it stayed on her shirt for over an hour) and put the butterfly on my sunglasses for a picture(unfortunately you can barely see the butterfly in the photo). I should have had her put it on my shoulder or something. I really wanted one on Michelle but she would have been grabbing at it and butterflies are so fragile you can't handle them. She was also far to rambunctious and wouldn't stay still. Butterflies tend to land on people who are sitting on benches still as statues. Not curious grabby fingered little infants running amok!

I managed to set up the self-timer and got a couple of shots of us together. I tried to get pictures of Michelle on her own walking (make that running!) around but it was too stressful trying to hold the camera and run after her to keep her out of trouble. I got a couple of raised eyebrows from people. They probably questioned my judgment letting my baby run around on a stone floor that God knows how many people, insects, birds and turtles had trafficked but she can't walk in shoes (I've tried with her and it isn't pretty. Last time she ended up banging her head pretty hard on the wall. She walks around like an animal with boxes on its feet. If you have ever tried dressing a cat or dog in shoes or socks you have some idea how awkward and silly it is) and she was so excited she would not stay in my arms the whole time. Besides, even being the control freak that I am I have to let loose a little. I have to give her some freedom to explore. And I can always clean her feet afterward (which I did.)

I managed to get a couple of good shots of butterflies at least. I had to keep switching from macro mode to get close ups of the insects and back to portrait mode for Michelle. It was tough taking pictures at all with Michelle wriggling in my arms or running amok with me chasing after her. Several times a really beautiful butterfly would land right in front of us but then fly away before I could get the shot. Or they wouldn't open their wings. There were other tourists like myself trying to get the perfect shot. One woman implored a butterfly "Open your wings! Please!"
So I was relieved I wasn't the only crazy photoholic there. I tried not to talk to the bugs at least though I admit I did talk to the birds and the turtles a little.

Michelle was thrilled to see the turtles. The whole experience seemed to blow her mind. All the people, the creatures flying and walking around, the scenery (including beautiful tropical plants and a waterfall) were miraculous to her. She was pointing at everything, shaking her fists the way she does when she's overcome with excitement. She was even trying to say "butterfly." It came out "bubba!" and "buh-fly" which I thought was pretty good. I was so glad I had taken her. I want to try to do more things with her. I used to worry how she would be on car rides and going places (if you follow my blog you know that it used to be a nightmare trying to take her anywhere. She screamed in the car and out in public. I finally even resorted to ordering groceries online in the winter.) Since she's been walking she's becoming more adventurous and wanting to see and explore new things. Now she gets excited to go new places. She especially loves the freedom to walk and run around rather than being strapped in a seat or stroller. It's funny because before I had kids I would have thought "Isn't that awful? Some crazy woman letting her kid run around barefoot? Disgusting!" Now I realize that if it makes your child happy and it isn't going to kill them, it's easier to just let them do it. I really don't care what anyone thinks.

After numerous failed attempts, I finally decided that I was never going to be able to capture Michelle and the butterflies the way I wanted in a photo so I took some video clips instead. Even these were mostly just me running after her telling her to slow down but there were a couple of moments that you see the butterflies fluttering around her and she was like a little fairy in the forest. Here's the video on Youtube:

When my camera card ran out of memory I took it as a sign to leave. We went in the gift shop and I was hoping to get her a cute little stuffed butterfly. Unfortunately all they had was a bin full of stuffed ants, bees, wasps, anything but butterflies. Was I in the Twilight Zone? How do you not sell butterflies in the gift shop at a BUTTERFLY CONSERVATORY?! I asked the cashier just in case I was missing something. "Sorry. We must have sold out." Sold out? Why wouldn't you order a million of them? Why wouldn't you have a limitless supply?! They had butterfly balloons but I was ballooned out after her birthday and still have them in her room (my sister said the mylar ones last an eternity. They may never go down!)

I wish I could afford to give Michelle the world, literally. I wish I were wealthy and could fly her all around the world to experience different sights and sounds and cultures but the truth is there is a lot to discover even right near home. Everything is new and exciting to her. There is beauty to be found everywhere in nature. Even in your own backyard. She loves spending time at the park.

I want to take her to a petting zoo and a real zoo sometime soon as well. She still does a roaring sound whenever you say "tiger." She gets excited just seeing geese and ducks at the park or seagulls on the beach.

Her 12 month checkup and needles went well. The doctor was amazed how well Michelle is walking (make that running) now and by how many words she can say (I want to make a list but I think it's close to 50 now.) She says at least one new word every day. It always catches me off-guard. She was playing with a whale and I asked her if she can speak whale (think Dory from finding Nemo) and out of the blue she said "whale" well it was more like "way" but a pretty good effort I think! She's also healthy at 19 lbs 4 ounces (no wonder my arm is breaking!) The way she was walking around and chattering at the office my doctor said she's very advanced for her age. "You must be doing something right," she said. I try to do everything right. I thought she was going to lecture me about sleep training when I told her I'm still co-sleeping with Michelle. I told her I don't have the heart to let Michelle scream for hours. The doctor shook her head and said "It's OK. You don't have to. Do what feels right for you. When she's older she'll have her own room but right now it's OK to be with Mom." It felt good to have her permission. Most people tell me I'm crazy and I have to "sleep train" Michelle. I love her more than anything and I refuse to torture her just because it's what people think I should do. There is no "should" as a mother. When it comes to most things there are no black and white answers. It's all grey area. You do what you feel is right as a Mom and you can't let anyone tell you differently. As the doctor said, Michelle is doing very well, happy and healthy and bright. So I can't have messed up too badly.

Life is quite a rollercoaster. Sometimes you plummet. Sometimes you soar. I had some really rough days recently. Not just with Michelle (though she can be VERY high maintenance!) but other stresses in my life. Sometimes I don't know how I'll make it through but then I find strength I didn't know I had. Somehow things turn out OK. I just have to not worry so much. The important thing is to focus on what matters. And sometimes you have to get out and enjoy the beauty that is out there. Take time to smell the roses, follow the butterflies and talk to the geese. Michelle reminds me that life is fun and not to take it so seriously all the time.

Friday, August 2, 2013


My little girl is ONE YEAR OLD!!! I still can't believe it's been a whole year already. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was sitting on the couch at my sister's place and started to go into labour. My baby won't be a baby much longer. She might be considered a toddler already. 
We celebrated Michelle's First Birthday last weekend with the family. Michelle was happy with her gifts and with her first taste of chocolate cake. It was a chaotic, exhausting day but a lot of fun.
We took advantage while the weather was nice and spent some time outside. Michelle is always wanting to go outside now. There isn't quite as much room to run around on my beach as there was on Wasaga Beach but Michelle still had fun. I was worried about her getting her dress dirty but she did pretty well (I changed her before she had her birthday cake later. I knew that she'd probably end up wearing it.)
Of course I always have to get the group photo. I was a little disappointed that Mike's family (Barb and the kids) didn't make it. Since it had rained on Saturday he wound up having Evie's birthday party with her friends on the Sunday because he'd rented a bouncy princess palace and it wouldn't have been very good in the rain. The plan was to send the kids home at 2 pm and head over to my place for Michelle's party but (not surprisingly) he wasn't able to tear the kids away from the bouncy palace. I couldn't blame them. I certainly can't compete with a giant inflatable trampoline castle. I had hoped everyone would be there for Michelle's First Birthday but it may have been even more overwhelming with all the kids running amok and we did get to see them the previous weekend at Wasaga for Evie's birthday party. It's strange how birthdays seem to run together in our family. The most extreme example is Shannon and Reggie who wound up with the same exact birthday!
Michelle had fun chasing her cousin Reggie around. She's saying more all the time. She said "May" a couple of times. At first I thought it was a fluke but then it seemed she really was saying my sister's name. Every day now she comes up with a new word. She was saying "ball" and "hat" and "up." Now she can even say "pink!" My Mom thinks she'll be talking in sentences soon since she does try to put words together. She chatters away in her own language sometimes and it sounds like she's really talking. She even gestures with her hands. She loves to mimic what people say and do so you have to watch yourself!

My Mom got Michelle a toy remote control and a cellphone because she's always trying to get the remote and the phone. She loves pressing buttons. Even when you think things are out of reach on the table or something next thing you know she's running around with it. When she has something she knows she's not supposed to have she runs away or hides it behind her back. Sneaky already and she's only one. Everyone is telling me she's going to be a handful. She's already quite the diva always checking herself out in the mirror. God help me when she's a teenager!
Michelle loves stuffies and is so affectionate she hugs them and says "Awww." She got a stuffed octopus Mama from me and baby from Auntie May. We both saw the octopi and thought they'd be perfect for May. Great minds think alike. At least they were a different size so it works out well. The only duplicate gifts were adorable seahorse beach towels but I'm going to keep them both anyway since I didn't have a towel her size anymore. The only towels I had were for newborns and adult towels are too big.
Cousin Shannon lined up all of Michelle's toys for her. Elmos, Disney characters, Bubble Guppies, Monstaz etc. So many new things to play with. Michelle seemed excited with everything. She must have wondered why all of a sudden she was being given all these new things. She wouldn't understand at this point what a birthday is. She probably just wishes every day could be like this! 
Soon it was time to sing "Happy Birthday" and have cake. Though I didn't really want Michelle having sugar I figured I had to let her at least try her birthday cake. I cut her a tiny little piece and let her have at it. As it turned out she didn't get a whole lot in her mouth anyway. A lot of it ended up on her clothes, on the tray, on the floor and some of it was even flung at my Mom.  
My Mom said Michelle was actually much more careful and less messy than most kids would be having cake for the first time. Most kids would have had it in their hair and everything. Control freak that I am it was kind of hard to watch her playing with the cake and resist the urge to clean up right away. My Mom couldn't resist and kept trying to clean up while Michelle was still eating. I said there's no point until she's done anyway.
Michelle still doesn't have any teeth. She eats baby food most of the time though she also likes Cheerios and Mum Mum rice rusks are her favourite snack. I certainly wouldn't make a habit of giving her sugar (she's hyper enough without it!) but once in a while for special occasions can't hurt. She only wound up having a few crumbs of cake and specks of icing anyway. After several months of the same old jars of baby food it must have been a real treat. She did seem to be enjoying herself.

Of course she wasn't able to blow out her own candles so I had to blow them out and make a wish for her. I wish all the best for her. I hope that she will grow to be a healthy, happy, bright little girl (so far so good!) I hope that all her wishes come true. I wish I could give her the world. If I won the lottery I could spend all my time with her and take her on adventures around the globe. Until then my love and my time are the greatest gifts I can offer her.

Since turning one I'm already noticing a change in Michelle. Not only is she saying a new word a day and becoming more headstrong and independent, she's showing a new interest in solid foods. She even tried asparagus the other day! She was reaching for it so I peeled a stalk and let her eat the soft part inside (I had fried them). She loved it and kept reaching for more. Before I knew it she had eaten the whole bunch (well I had the leafy parts at the top and I peeled off the outside stringy parts)! Then she had some yogurt for dessert.

I won't be giving her cake again any time soon. I did let her try a speck of ice cream one day when I was having a cone. The look on her face was priceless. "Wow!" she wasn't expecting it to be so cold and sweet. Yes if only everything tasted like ice cream.

I'm finding it harder and harder to do the blog. Michelle has been staying up late and by the time she finally settles down I'm too exhausted to do anything. I just have to steal a few minutes here and there to write a few sentences and then come back to it later. This blog was originally supposed to be a "baby blog" anyway to track my pregnancy and my first year with Michelle. I guess technically she's not a baby anymore, though she'll always be my baby girl. I don't want to stop the blog entirely. I guess I'll just write a bit here and there when I'm able. I am grateful to have this record of Michelle's first year and I am so thankful to readers for following our journey, especially to those who offered support and encouragement.

In the evening, after we had the cake and I got Michelle cleaned up and dressed in her pjs, my brother Chris looked outside and said "Look at the rainbow!" It was sunny then raining for a while and then the sun came out again. I was so excited to be able to show Michelle a rainbow. She'd seen them in storybooks and heard about them in songs but she'd never seen a real one. So many times after the rain I would look up hoping to find one but I hadn't seen one in a very long time. Now there was a perfect one for Michelle's birthday party. I guess that was Mother Nature's little gift to Michelle.

I love rainbows. To me they are a symbol of hope. No matter how dark and stormy life can get (sometimes VERY dark and stormy!) you know that the sun will come out again and that everything will be OK. No matter how tough life can get, there is always something to be grateful for. Something magical, something beautiful. I love showing Michelle new things and teaching her things because seeing her excitement reminds me not to take things for granted. We are surrounded by miracles every day.