Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Yes October is almost over but this is a blog about September (I'm always at least a month behind now.)

For me, September has always been a bit of a bummer. I remember back when I was still in school how much I loved the summer -- relaxing, sleeping in, going to the beach etc. Then in late August I would start to dread September when the vacation would be over and I'd have to go back to school. (Ironically I did really well in school and must have enjoyed it on some level but it caused me so much anxiety. To this day I still have nightmares about it -- that I'm still in school, that I have an essay due and didn't read the book or I that have to write a test and I didn't study. Or sometimes that I'm late on the first day and lost in endless hallways looking for my class. I wake up in a cold sweat and realize "Wait a minute. I haven't been in school for DECADES!" Phew!)

September is also the start of Fall. The weather starts to get colder. You go from wearing sandals, tanks and capris to sweaters, jeans and boots. The leaves fall off the trees. You feel the chill that starts to warn you winter is on its way. It's just depressing. (Especially if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I think I just might.)

This September was pretty good, except for Michelle and I getting sick, a terrible thunderstorm causing a leak in my basement, losing a box of dreams, breaking a mirror and having a dear friend pass away shockingly (Rich, as mentioned in my last post)...Yeah, no this September was pretty rough!

There were a few good days anyway. You have to focus on the positive. When I look back at the photos from September, it looks like a happy month. Of course I usually take photos of the happy days. The miserable moments, the sickness and sorrow, I'd rather forget.

Some days it was so warm you could almost pretend it was still August, still summer. I would have been quite happy if it had stayed that way.

I tried to make the most of beautiful sunny days because I didn't know how long they'd last. We were always outside. At the park, playing in the yard at Grandma's or Auntie May's.

On miserable, rainy days we stayed in and read, did puzzles, played with Play Doh, and drew. Michelle has been getting better and better at drawing faces. She started with just a head, eyes nose and mouth but gradually she started adding more and more detail -- hair, ears, eyelashes and eyebrows. Now she even tries to draw a body. I read that kids don't usually start drawing recognizable faces until 4 or 5 years old so she's very advanced. These faces she did in September I found really cute. I liked that she used a different colour for the hair:

Michelle wanted to go to the beach so we went with my Mom to Burlington Beach (Mom wasn't able to go the last time we'd gone with Auntie May.) We had a great time. I even got a compliment from my Mom (which doesn't always happen!) After all my months of working out and losing weight she finally acknowledged that I'd lost weight. She said I looked like a teenager. So that was nice to hear! Sometimes I feel like Michelle keeps me young. Other times I feel like I'm old and falling apart. Working out definitely has helped me to feel stronger and better able to keep up with her!


Later back at my Mom's house, Uncle Chris dropped by for a bit. Michelle was so excited to see him. She's crazy about her Uncle Chris. Not having a father figure in her life I'm glad that she has her male relatives anyway. Chris is great with kids even though he still maintains that he doesn't want any of his own (I used to say the same thing but I had no idea how much I would love having a child. I never would have believed it.) I didn't think I could handle the responsibility. I didn't think I'd have the patience. Of course Michelle does test my patience like no one and nothing ever before but she teaches me patience, love. She is my everything.

As much as she drives me crazy, my heart aches when I'm apart from her just for a short time. The only time I leave her is when I have to go to work. Coming home and seeing her excitement -- jumping up and down on the veranda as I pull up screaming "Mama's home! Mama's home!" then running toward me and hugging me so tight -- is the best feeling. "I missed you Mama!" she says. "I missed you too," I tell her. Then less than an hour later she's whining and screaming and giving me a hard time. She's definitely in the "terrible twos." Getting moodier all the time. One minute she's happy, laughing, playing nicely. The next minute she's screaming like someone is killing her because she a) didn't get her way b) tried to do something and couldn't c) is overtired and cranky d) for absolutely no reason at all except to stress me out when I'm already hanging by a thread.

As a single Mom, it is tough to never get a break (aside from going to work which ironically is the closest thing I have to a vacation!) People would say it's my own fault that I don't make time for myself. Leave her with a babysitter and schedule some real "me time." I feel guilty enough leaving her when I have to work so I'm not going to leave her just to do something for me. I'm so grateful to have a close, loving family that we see so often. They are what keeps me sane (even if they are crazy!) And it does give me a bit of a break when she's running around playing with the other kids and not demanding my attention every second. We had a nice time at Auntie May's for Uncle Shane's birthday party. She got to play with her cousins on both sides of the family.

It's chaos when the whole gang gets together, but it's fun! Unfortunately it seems every time she's around other kids she gets sick. Kids don't have immunity yet so they pick up everything. Since I'm sleep deprived most of the time I feel run down and can't fight things off either. So Michelle gets sick, I catch it from her and it's a vicious cycle. So needless to say Michelle and I both got sick in September and it was brutal.
Luckily we did enjoy some healthy sunny days. I try to take Michelle to the park every day. I'm happy that she gets to meet other kids close to her own age. She's come out of her shell so much now. She'll go up to kids and start talking, introduce herself, ask their name. She's learning to share. (It's a work in progress. Sometimes she grabs things off of kids but when I remind her to share she will usually concede and hand it back nicely and say "Sorry."

She loves visiting Auntie May and playing with Reggie and Shannon.

Family birthdays are usually a happy occasion but my brother Mike's birthday this year was a sad one for me. The party was the day after I got news of a close friend passing away. (Rich, I talk aobut him in my last post, "Summer Song.")
Usually I have to tell Michelle to smile but this time when I took a picture of us it was me that was stone-faced. The weird thing is I thought I was forcing a smile but it didn't come through at all in the picture.  

Seeing Michelle running around playing did help to cheer me up a little and it always helps to be around my family. My sister is so supportive. She loved Rich too. He was the sweetest guy I ever dated. May also saw him a fair bit, even after we had broken up because he worked with my brother in law for a while. It was such a shock. I still can't believe he's gone. It's a reminder to take nothing for granted. You have to cherish every moment.

Michelle loves being around our family. She plays and runs around with the kids. She dotes on her Uncle Chris and loves when he throws her in the air. One of Mike's friends, Ian, brought his kids and Michelle had a great time playing with her. Paisley was dressed as Elsa. Michelle is a huge fan of "Frozen" and got a kick out of having a real live young Elsa walking around (she was going to a princess party later in the day. What a cute idea!)

At one point I saw Paisley and Michelle walking hand in hand. It was so adorable. They got along so well. For a fleeting instant I thought how nice it would be if Michelle had a sister to play with. I know I adore my sister. May is my best friend. Sometimes I feel bad that Michelle is an only child and that she isn't around kids her age every day. Luckily between family visits and trips to the park, the beach, stores etc, she has met quite a few kids and is getting used to interacting with them. I remember when she was so timid she would run and cling to me if someone came near her. Now she's friendly, playful, talkative, boisterous. A real social butterfly. 

Mom was a little overwhelmed having the whole gang there. She was tired, under the weather and in a bit of a mood. I told her no one had asked her to do it, that it was her idea and she could make things easier on herself just ordering dinner and using paper plates instead of trying to make a big roast dinner. (But then Mom has a habit of casting herself as a martyr, offering to do something only to complain about how difficult it is.) I'm no Martha Stewart myself. I've only cooked a turkey twice in my life. Usually when I have people over I order pizza or Chinese. I've never been a fan of cooking or entertaining but I love having my family over. My sister winds up having many events at her place. She's in the most central location and has the biggest, nicest home.

I did finally manage a real smile. It warms my heart to see Michelle happy. I am so grateful to have my family in our lives. Of course I also love spending time alone, just Michelle and I. She tells me I'm her best friend and I tell her she's mine too. It was so cute one day at the park when she met another little girl she pointed to me and said "That's my friend Ann Marie!" instead of introducing me as her Mama. 

She's a feisty one. You never know what she's going to say or do. One day at the park she met a little boy. He said he was a pirate and she said "You're not a pirate, you're a little boy!" She enjoyed playing with him though. He made her more adventurous. She followed him around, trying to copy what he did. She wanted to make sure she had a bigger stick than him. At one point they were fighting over the sticks but he was very accommodating and willing to share. He even shared his cars with her. I'm so glad she does have a chance to interact with other kids so it won't be foreign to her when she goes to school in a couple of years. (I still can't quite wrap my head around how I'll deal with her going off to school. It's going to be very hard for me. I don't know how I'll manage!) Time goes by so quickly. Two years will be gone before I know it.

I would love to be able to travel with Michelle someday but for the time being I settle for day trips to fun places I know she'll enjoy. We went to the zoo again (we'd gone once in the Summer and I figured I might as well go with her again while she can still get in free). She loved it. I love the photo ops. Michelle wanted to interact with the animals more than ever.

 She even willingly posed with the bear sculpture. In the past she was afraid to go near it, or else she had fallen asleep in the stroller by the time we got to it (it's by the entrance/exit). This time I said "Go stand with the Mama bear!" and she went right into the bears arms. I got her a miniature Mama grizzly and baby grizzly bear. Schleich makes a series of very realistic plastic animal sculptures/miniatures. When I saw some of them on sale I got Michelle a Mama and baby horse and the bears. I love watching her play with them. "Come on darling," she has the Mama bear say to the baby. "Ok Mama." Everything has to be a Mama and a baby. Even when she picks up sticks or shells. The big one is the Mama and the little one is the baby. She does mention daddies sometimes. When she sees other kids with a Daddy instead of a Mommy. I remind her that every family is different. Some have 2 parents. Others only have one. Her two favourite movies now are "Despicable Me" and "Hotel Transylvania" -- both with very unlikely but likeable single Dads. Gru, who adopts 3 little girls and Dracula, a widower with a daughter, Mavis.

You just never knew what the weather was going to do. Winter coat one day, shorts the next. September had some really warm days. One day I had the window rolled down and accidentally closed the power window on the sun visor which was partially sticking out. I didn't even clue in until I heard the crunch and then had a rain of broken glass on me. I duct taped over the mirror. I was getting more accident prone in September, tripping over things or breaking things. Being sleep deprived it was hard to function. I'd forget things, make mistakes. Sometimes it felt like I was going to collapse. A couple of times coming back from work I fell asleep at the wheel (luckily there was no one else on the road at that hour). A 14 hour day on no sleep is harder than I can possibly explain. The good thing about my job is that although the days are long (especially with the commute) at least I work fewer of them. Spending as much time with Michelle as possible is my top priority.

Some days were so hot it was like Summer had returned. Some people were saying it was even hotter than the summer. Taking advantage of Indian Summer, Michelle and I made one last trip to the beach (though not in swimsuits. We just played on the sand.)

I'm such a nerd I dressed Michelle and I in matching outfits! I actually wish I could find matching dresses in daughter and mother sizes. Before having kids I was sure I'd seen it somewhere but now that I'd actually be interested it doesn't seem to exist.

We made one final trip to Port Dover. It was a treat to be able to enjoy two seasons in the same day -- driving down country roads looking at the changing leaves -- gold, orange and red -- then getting to the beach and being able to sit in the sunshine, under the palm trees, by the water, just as if it was summer.  

Michelle loves the beach and it wasn't until the end of the summer that she would actually go in the water so I wanted to go as much as possible. I never imagined we'd be going in late September. I needed a day of sunshine after the dark days I'd been through (mourning my friend Rich.)

At one point I snapped a photo of Michelle and it looked like she was actually holding the sun in her hand.

I have a children's book of "You are my Sunshine" with adorable illustrations set to the lyrics of the song. Michelle sings along when I sing it to her. "You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You'll never know dear how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away." She really is my sunshine, as cheesy as that may sound. She is the brightest part of my life. She sustains me.

I don't know why I still feel compelled to keep up this blog when it's so hard to find the time and it's not like anyone is telling me to do it. I just feel like time is so fleeting and I want to record this journey that Michelle and I are on. Also, by posting these photos, it's one more place to store my memories. I lost a hard drive with thousands of photos. If it hadn't been for the pictures I'd posted on websites like Myspace and Twitter, I wouldn't have had any pictures of those years. Life is so fleeting. Photos are my way of holding on. If there's one thing I learned in September it's that you just never know when something or someone can be taken from you. There was a severe thunderstorm one night and I had a leak in the basement. A couple of boxes of mementos were ruined. At least it motivated me to organize the basement and to put EVERYTHING in plastic containers from now on. I cried for the loss of some of my old dreams and memories. Then I wound up losing a dear friend that I had shared so many memories with. Rich will always have a special place in my heart.

Anyway, that was September, more or less. Strange month that it was. It was Fall except for the days that felt like Summer. It was happy, except for the days that broke my heart. It was an adventure except for the times when I was sick and barely had the energy to move. It was good and bad and ugly. It had some painful lessons, some inspiring truths, some surprising revelations. Definitely a month I'll never forget.

At least I didn't have to go to school...