Monday, June 29, 2015

So what ELSE is new?

 It's been a while (January!) since my last post. Now it's late June. The time has FLOWN BY! (I say this all the time but I can't stress it enough. It seems to go even faster the older you get!) People have been kind enough to write me asking for updates (though this is kind of like a journal for me I'm pleased that people around the world actually read and enjoy it!) I've missed blogging (it's one of the few things I do for myself. Not much "me time" anymore!) and thought I'd do a quick (who am I kidding this is going to take a while!) update...Where do I even start?! So much to share. And there will be a LOT of photos. (Still just a tiny fraction of what I've taken since January!) I'll just have to throw them in amidst the text. There are some videos too. This will be a long one! Well, here goes...Here's what's new from January to June!
 It was a long hard Winter. If you've read my blogs you know I'm not a fan. The winter nearly killed me. It did kill my car. There were days it was so cold the car just wouldn't start. The 15 year old Hyundai Elantra (my parents' old car) that I'd been driving finally fell apart, COMPLETELY. It started with needing a new battery (apparently it had NEVER been changed! In 15 years! Now THAT'S a good battery!) Then the wheel bearing, which I had fixed (to the tune of $400 just before Christmas. THAT was brutal!) just to keep it on the road a bit longer. Then the brakes went. ON THE HIGHWAY. While I was driving to work on nightshift. Thank God Michelle wasn't in the car with me at least. I can't quite describe to you the exquisite terror of going to step on the brakes and realizing "Oh crap!" that they just aren't there anymore. I put the pedal to the floor and it wouldn't stop so much as just slow down ever so slightly. Miraculously I made it to work and back home without crashing into anything. I just kept my distance. Luckily no one cut me off. It truly was a miracle. I did some praying! "Jesus take the wheel" quite literally! I drove it to the Hyundai dealership in town the next day where I discovered that the brakes were just the tip of the iceberg. The car was a mess and would be thousands of dollars to fix, which would be absurd in a car that old. So I bought a brand new Hyundai Elantra. I figured I'd be loyal to a brand you can actually get 15 years out of. Now the problem was how to handle a new car payment every month when I was already struggling to make ends meet as a single Mom. Then another miracle happened -- the convertible that I'd been trying to sell for years (2010 Mazda MX5), that had been sitting in my parents' garage since the winter of 2011, FINALLY SOLD!

I almost took the ad down because all I seemed to attract were tire-kickers, scammers and heartless trolls trying to gouge me/take advantage of me. It was a heart-wrenching process. People had no regard whatsoever for my situation. (I even said in the ad: I LOVE the car, only got to drive it for a year, that I'm a broke single Mom selling it out of necessity.) Nobody cared. They just wanted a bargain. I guess they thought if I was desperate enough I'd sell for anything. I didn't want to give the car away. I'd paid a fortune for it, in another life, before I knew I was going to have a baby and never get to drive it again! Besides it was more than just a car to me. It represented a time in my life when I believed I deserved to be happy and went for what I really wanted rather than just settling for something practical. (Getting a convertible in Canada is decidedly IMPRACTICAL but the heart wants what it wants.) Then, in March 2015, when I needed to sell it more than ever to pay for the new car, the right buyer FINALLY showed up! Someone who loved the car as much as I did, would take good care of it and give me a fair price for it. She was cool. A petite pretty lady with white hair with a streak of fuchsia. She was so sweet she even said she'd take photos of the car to send to me so I could see where he (yes it's a he! Max was my baby before I had one!) went and get to share in his road trips, albeit vicariously. How cute is that?! Like the travelling gnome, but a car. So Max finally had a good home and would get to go on trips again in the nice weather instead of being cooped up in a garage. The timing was perfect. Selling that car literally paid for the new one. There have been times I didn't know how I'd make it but God has been there for us, helping us along the way and I'm so grateful. Selling the Miata broke my heart (I cried watching him drive away for the last time) but knowing he was going to a good home made it a lot easier.

Michelle was thrilled with the new Hyundai. "I love the new car Mama! I didn't like the old one." Frankly I didn't either. It was becoming increasingly stressful wondering if/when the old Hyundai would break down. The peace of mind of a new car is AWESOME. Michelle also got a new carseat. The old one was getting too small for her. I could barely get the straps around her anymore. Though only 2 and a half she's the size of a 4 year old and wearing size 5-6. People are always commenting "WOW. She's tall." (Her dad was 6'2" so maybe she'll take after him!) Anytime we were out and people asked how old she was they were amazed to hear she was only 2 and a half. She was towering above most 3-4 year olds. Even the boys.

 Both Michelle and I were thrilled to see the Spring. Like bears coming out of hibernation! Although we did go out to play in the snow quite often (I forced myself to make an effort for Michelle's sake. Did I mention that I HATE WINTER?! But snow is fun for kids. Snowmen, snow angels & whatnot) we were always anxious to come back in, get warm and have hot chocolate. Michelle would ask to go to the park or to the beach and I explained that we had to wait until the nice weather. As soon as the weather got warmer, Michelle and I were at the park nearly every day. Except for rainy days. Actually Michelle wanted to go out even on rainy days. I finally just put her in a little rain coat & rubber boots and let her go crazy jumping in puddles. She got drenched. She was thrilled out of her mind. If my Mom had been there she would have been yelling "What are you doing?! She's going to catch a cold!" I'm a control freak but I figure sometimes you just have to shrug and LET KIDS BE KIDS! The problem was then Michelle wanted to do it EVERY TIME IT RAINED. Even when we were in a hurry, on our way somewhere, and she was dressed up. I explained to her no puddle jumping unless she was in her rubber boots and we didn't have to go somewhere right after so we could go in to get her changed/dried off.


Speaking of changing...As mentioned in my previous post, Michelle was potty trained in January (a process which was excruciating but successful and thankfully short this time around.) She was doing incredibly well staying dry all day but I expected staying dry through the night would be a long time coming. Instead Michelle has done amazingly well and has been staying dry day AND night, minus a couple of odd accidents. I still put a pull-up on her at night just in case. While I'm very grateful and proud of her the only problem is that she wakes me up to go potty through the night so I'm getting even less sleep than before. I've heard of some parents taking extreme measures (like not even letting their kids have a drink after dinnertime so they won't have to go through the night) but I'm not doing that. I even let her have a drink through the night if she asks. I'm not letting her go thirsty. I just hope this practice will change or at least it will get easier when she can go potty without any assistance and doesn't have to wake me. We're not quite there yet. While she has gone by herself a couple of times we both feel more secure if I'm there to help. My Mom said a comedian recently asked why it is that kids are potty trained at 3 but still need help wiping their butts at 5. The truth is I'm a bit of a control freak anyway and I'm worried she won't wipe herself well enough. Though I will be thrilled when she can be trusted to go alone.

The other difficulty with potty training is public restrooms. Michelle hates them. Michelle's new thing is that she ABHORS loud noises. While she used to go to sleep with the sound of the vacuum as a baby, now she has a fit, covers her ears and runs away when I'm vacuuming. We were in a store with a helium machine blowing up balloons and she had a meltdown. We were in a public bathroom with loud vacuum style toilets and hand dryers and Michelle LOST IT. So she developed a bit of a phobia of public bathrooms. This can be a problem when we're out and she needs to go potty. I make sure she goes before we leave the house. "I don't have to!" "Try anyway!" But sometimes she still has to go. One time we were at Walmart, cashing out and she needed to go. "OK I said. You can go to the public washroom here or..." "Noooo! I don't want to go to the washroom here!" "Then you have to try to hold it until we get home." She opted for that. Unfortunately (of course) I hit EVERY. SINGLE. RED. LIGHT. and got stuck behind every slow driver on the way. It's Murphy's Law! I can't tell you how stressful it is driving white-knuckled racing home because your kid is screaming "I have to go POTTY! I have to PEEEEE!" & you explain "I'm going as fast as I can! I can't control traffic! You should have gone at the store!" She wasn't able to hold it and was wet (and bawling) when we got home. After that I said "Never again. Next time you're using the public restroom. Like it or lump it." Thankfully she has gone to public toilets a few times now successfully (in stores, at the beach and the zoo), both with her portable fold-up Dora potty seat (that I usually remembered to bring) or just holding her hovering over the seat (which we've managed a few times) when I forget Dora.

Though I'm always a little nervous about it, I want to try going new places with Michelle. Cinderella, the live action version was playing and I thought it would be a perfect first movie for her. Firstly, Michelle is a Frozen-FANATIC (as am I for that matter!) and there was a new "Frozen Fever" short that was only playing WITH Cinderella. Secondly, because it's a story I know all too well, even if we had to leave for some reason at least I would know how it ends. So, with my fingers crossed & Dora potty-seat in tow, we headed to the theatre. At first, Michelle was TRANSFIXED. She kept saying "Wow! Wow!" looking at the big screen, even during the previews. For someone who has never been to a movie theatre, the massive screen and surround sound would seem miraculous. She LOVED the Frozen short (Elsa tries to throw Anna the perfect birthday party to make up for all the lonely years where she had no parties. Elsa is sick with a cold though and every time she sneezes, adorable little snowmen pop out until there are hundreds of them.) So far so good. I was happy to be at the movies again (my first since I was pregnant and went with a friend.) Cinderella started. Michelle adores the animated Cinderella but I didn't know how she'd be with the real people version. At first it was great. It was visually stunning and an interesting new take on the story. Michelle enjoyed picking out the characters and comparing things to the version she knew by heart. "That's the stepmother? She's bad. That's the fairy godmother?" We even survived a trip to the bathroom and back to our seats but halfway through she was getting antsy, fidgeting in her seat, saying "I'm booooored. I want to go hoooooome." Then 3/4 of the way through she said she had to go potty again and just wanted to go home so we left. "Well, at least I know how it ends." I sighed. My sister told me that when they're little it HAS to be an animated film to hold their interest. And it has to be under 2 hours. I got greedy. Cinderella alone was more than 2 hours and there were the previews and Fever short tacked on to that.

Michelle and I are both huge Disney fans, so when I heard there were going to be Disney characters at a local fair, I was psyched. It went pretty well (aside from a tantrum when her balloon animal broke and a looooooong wait in line for a new balloon, from a decidedly somber clown.) She got to meet Mickey, the seven dwarves (it was 6 at first but I made the other one come back to pose for a group photo!), a somewhat stunned looking Olaf and a beautiful Elsa (I'm such a nerd even I posed for a picture with her!) She even got to see some reptiles at one of the exhibits. Michelle loved it. "I want to go to the fair again!" she said the next day. I had to explain it was just a one time thing.

Though she doesn't have siblings to play with I'm grateful that Michelle has come out of her shell and is good with other kids. She isn't shy anymore. She will introduce herself to kids at the park and play nicely with them: playing in the sand, sharing pails and shovels or chasing them around, going down the slide together etc. I'm glad that she's social so it will make an easier transition when she starts school next year. It will probably be harder on me than on her! Admittedly a bit of a control freak, it's hard for me to let go!

Michelle is becoming more independent. She will play nicely on her own for longer periods, either with toys or role playing though she often wants me to be part of her game as well. She's so full of energy and such a character. She has a vivid imagination and likes to play different roles -- superhero, doctor, ballerina, princess. I managed to catch some of her antics on video. Michelle likes watching herself on video. She wanted to watch videos of herself as a baby and was especially fascinated by watching herself walking for the first time.

Here are some videos from Youtube:


Between birthdays, Mother's Day etc, May is always a CRAZY BUSY month. Of course, even when there's no occasion at all, I ALWAYS have my camera on hand. It's so much a part of me (and has been for many years). It's like an extension of my arm! I couldn't stop if I wanted to. I have this need to capture every moment. And if I encounter something beautiful/cute/amazing/strange and don't have my camera, it physically HURTS! It's not enough to just experience it. I have to catch it, preserve it in a photo. Because I snap so many shots, sometimes I get lucky and catch a perfect moment. I love this shot of Michelle and Reggie! Sometimes it takes 10 shots or 100 shots to get a smile like that. To me, it's worth it! Michelle is always running amok. Whether it's chasing her cousins, chasing bunnies or bubbles or just running to show how fast she can go (because she's a superhero of course!) She won't be this young miraculous little ball of energy forever. I want to capture every moment.

Michelle's smile gets me every time. There are still times when she's a monster, when she throws tantrums, is impossible. But when she flashes me one of her smiles, giggles, or hugs me and says "I love you Mama!" I could forgive her for ANYTHING!

She used to shy away from the camera. Now she's so used to it and so comfortable with it that she can be herself and doesn't mind the attention. If anything she thrives on it. She's a little Diva and loves the attention. She's always saying "Watch me Mama!" and then running or jumping or doing silly things. It reminds me of the Stuart skit on MADTV years ago: "Look what I can do!" If I don't feign awe and amusement she's disappointed. "Mama! Say Wow!" "Ok. Wow."


Since becoming a Mom myself, Mother's Day has more meaning for me than ever. I'm always grateful to spend time celebrating with my family. I think it's important for Michelle to know as well that although we're just a family of two we have a large extended family that love her very much. She's always excited to visit at Auntie May's house. I was actually supposed to host Mother's Day at my place but May's car broke down (a lot of that going around!) so we went to her place instead.

Though she can be demanding at times, I'm glad that Michelle is such a loving, affectionate little girl. She's always hugging and kissing me and telling me she loves me. One day she even started singing "Oh Mama, Oh Mama, Oh how I love you Mamaaa." to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree. I was taken aback. It pretty much made my day/year/life! I couldn't believe she came up with that on her own. How would she even remember that song from Christmas? I later learned she got the idea from Sponge Bob (he's her latest animated obsession!) He sings "Oh Krusty Krab..." But still! I thought it was sweet. I even managed to get her to sing it on camera! Here's the video from Youtube:


Michelle is very creative. She has such a vivid imagination and an expansive vocabulary. She loves to draw and tell stories. She's learning to read and write (she recognizes and can write most letters. She has trouble with S. She can write her name and I love you.) Her artwork is becoming more detailed, more bizarre and her descriptions much more elaborate. This picture and her explanation made me laugh so hard I nearly wet myself. I try not to hurt her feelings by laughing at her drawings but sometimes I have to run to the bathroom. I wrote down what she said so I wouldn't forget: "That's Mama and Michelle wearing special scarves with a net that's magic and gets bigger and bigger and you catch flies and bees but you don't kill them because they're nice bugs." I was like WTF?! But I love it. People talk about how children shouldn't watch too much TV/movies but I'm telling you Michelle's vocabulary is over 10K now. She's probably at the level of a 10 year old. You can have conversations with her. Her comprehension is astounding. Of course I've always read to her a lot as well and talked to her (even in utero!) but a LOT of the expressions she uses she picked up from TV and movies. I don't know why/how she would conceive of wearing a scarf to catch bugs. She does differentiate between nice and bad bugs. Mosquitos, wasps and hornets are bad. Butterflies, ladybugs and dragonflies (pretty bugs) are nice bugs. Bees are good because they make honey and only sting you as a last resort in self-defense. Michelle is a little nervous of spiders but I explained to her that spiders are good because they eat other bad bugs (like mosquitoes and flies.) I'm afraid of insects myself but I try to mask my fear so Michelle won't be scared. Nonetheless she's afraid of spiders. It must be innate.
Speaking of bugs...One of my fave Spring/Summer excursions with Michelle is visiting the Butterfly Conservatory (we go every year.) It's more fun than ever seeing Michelle's excitement walking (running, dancing!) through a paradise filled with butterflies. Though they were everywhere it proved nearly impossible to catch them and Michelle in the same shot. My on-going photo fantasy is that a dazzling Blue Morpho will light on Michelle's shoulder, she'll have the perfect smile and I'll snap a picture just in time to catch the moment...Yeah, that wasn't in the cards. The Blue Morpho seems to be the most elusive of the butterflies. One got near her at one point but Michelle was moving too much and scared it away. "You have to be like a statue," I told Michelle. She looked at me like "AS IF!" and continued running amok.

I'm so glad Michelle is a girlie girl! It's what I dreamed about when I was pregnant -- a little girl to wear pretty dresses and go to see gardens and butterflies and play with dolls. Michelle is also fascinated by makeup. I got her a couple of kids' makeup kits (with non-toxic lip glosses etc) and she was thrilled. She was especially excited about the press on nail kit. Diva in training for sure!

On my birthday I said to Michelle "You have to be nice to me today. It's my birthday!" And for the most part, she was! She said "Happy Birthday Mama," and "I love you Mama." She didn't throw tantrums. She cooperated when I wanted to get pictures of her in her fancy dress. Even Ali stayed still for a photo with her (which almost NEVER happens!)

My sister was kind enough to host my party at her place. My place is a bit too small, Mom's place is too cluttered. May winds up having a lot of family events at her house because it's the only place that really accommodates all of us comfortably. Michelle always loves going to Auntie May's. Everyone loves going to May's. So she gets roped into hosting almost everything. (I offer to host at my place but something always seems to go wrong and someone can't make it. Plus it's farther for everyone to go.)

I've heard that a lot of families don't even get together for birthdays and special events. Some are estranged and NEVER see each other. I'm grateful to have a close knit family that make a point of getting together often. Well, part of it is Mom's insistence, guilt-trip if we don't. But I like it anyway. Visiting with family is especially important to me now. I need that connection. My sister is my best friend in the world, maybe the only human on this planet that totally gets me. She always makes me laugh. She's been there through everything. She always knows the right thing to say. If I could meet a man like my sister, he'd be my Prince Charming for sure! But I don't know if there's anyone else like May in the world. Visiting at May's is also one of the rare times I actually get a break and can just relax because Michelle goes off playing with Reggie and lets me just sit and socialize. At home it's very hard to explain to her that I need a moment, that I can't play with her every second. That I have meals to make, laundry, dishes, many things to do. And sometimes just need a second to catch my breath!

On rainy days (Aside from jumping in puddles!) Michelle loves doing crafts. I bravely (insanely!) went out and got jars of glitter, jewels and beads so we could make crowns etc. Michelle had a blast. There was glitter EVERYWHERE. Glitter is a lot like sand, only sparklier. It was in the carpet, on clothes. Even weeks later I'm finding glitter here and there.

I wanted to take Michelle on a new adventure. I think it's important for her to experience different things. Also I want to check places out while she's still free under three years old! A woman at the park one day recommended Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls. I'd never been. It sounded awesome and Michelle loves birds. It was BEAUTIFUL! My fave parts were posing with the birds for photos and especially feeding the lorikeets. At one point one landed on Michelle's head. Michelle got a little nervous. I asked the girl to please get the picture before the moment ended. They don't allow cameras in the lorikeet feeding area. It was killing me! I said to the girl "I'm counting on you to capture this moment for me!" It killed me at the end of the day when you go to see the pictures that they delete the ones you don't take. They charge a fortune for each one so I couldn't get too carried away but I had to get a couple of course!
Aside from the wide variety of beautiful birds, Michelle got to encounter turtles, fish and bats. She got to do some digging at an artificial archaeological site in the nocturnal part (that was her favourite thing. We had to go back so she could do some more digging in the sand to uncover the sculptures). So it looks like we can add aspiring archaeologist to the list of possible future careers (Doctor, Princess, Superhero, Actress...) I recently asked her what she's going to be when she grows up and she said "A doctor. So I can take care of people." I'm really REALLY hoping this sticks! Doctor is a much better prospect than Princess! (Not too many princes around!)




With Mother's Day, my birthday, May's birthday, Reggie and Shannon's birthday all back to back: we definitely saw a LOT of the family in late May! Michelle had a ball. She always wanted to dress up and even picked out which dress she wanted to wear.

And then it was June! The weather kept getting warmer. I wanted to make a trip to the zoo before it got so hot that we'd melt. The zoo is a HAVEN for photo ops! Especially since Michelle doesn't mind posing now. She was even hamming it up, standing on one leg like she was in a catalog or something! One of our favourite moments was Michelle feeding long grass to the deer. The grass really WAS greener on the other side of the fence, since they'd nibbled all of it down on their own side. Michelle loved feeding them and I loved getting pictures of her with them. We also enjoyed making monkey faces and getting photo-bombed by random boys and roosters! We almost missed the creature show when Michelle had to take a potty break but luckily there was a bathroom nearby, it went smoothly (with no tantrums) and we were back before the next animal came out. Michelle was becoming a public bathroom pro! (Though she still isn't fond of loud toilets or hand dryers.) I was a little worried about all the walking now that I don't put Michelle in the stroller. But she managed just fine. She was actually running a lot of the time, chasing quails and whatnot. And there were always stops along the way to see the animals.

Temperatures kept rising. Summer was here. Michelle and I couldn't wait to head to the beach.  Port Dover has always been my favourite beach in Ontario. They deliver the palm trees in late May. It's magical seeing palm trees in Ontario! It makes me feel like I'm somewhere tropical (and with travel out of the budget for the time being, it's nice to imagine anyway!) I used to worry about Michelle throwing a tantrum and us having to leave but it's a lot easier now. She gets excited about going to the beach and doesn't want to ruin it. It's a joy to travel light now as well. No more stroller to push through heavy sand. (That was BRUTAL!) No more tent to worry about carrying and setting up and folding back up again (it broke last year & I'm not replacing it. Too much hassle!) Now we just have to bring a small cooler of drinks, a bag of towels & sand toys, LOTS of sunscreen of course (I slather it on her before we go and again once we're there) and we're good to go!

 The water was cold of course. I didn't really plan on swimming this early in the season. It was nice just to hang out near the water, sit under the palm trees, play in the sand. I wanted to take some time to relax. Of course Michelle prefers to run amok! She was off chasing seagulls up and down the beach. I used to worry so much that I'd hover right over her and have to chase after her. Now I give her a little more freedom. As long as I can see her and she doesn't go in the water without me (she wouldn't anyway.)

Blue skies. Warm sun, cool breeze, waves, palm trees, my baby and me. I smiled and thought "Wow. Perfect day." As if she'd read my mind or was just feeling the same happy glow Michelle said. "I'm so happy! I love you Mama!" and gave me a big hug.
"I love you too, baby."


We went to Burlington Beach with Grandma. Mom was surprised and disappointed by how cold the water was. ICE COLD. Colder than Dover. I guess because the water is so shallow at Port Dover beach. You can walk out for a mile and still just be up to your knees. Lake Ontario on the other hand is deeper. We only went up to our ankles quickly and out again. Our feet actually went numb! I told Mom it wasn't even officially Summer yet. Despite all the hot days we were having it takes the lake a LONG time to warm up! We wondered how the Polar Bear Club manages when they do their winter dips in the lake!

Michelle had a ball as usual chasing seagulls & playing in the sand. I enjoyed having a couple of minutes to relax on the sand at least.

We were going to leave when Michelle said "Mama! I want ICE CREAM!" How can you say no to ice cream? You can't. I've been dieting but it's REALLY hard to be good! I got down to my goal weight last year, gained almost all of it back over the winter & now am having a heck of a time losing it again! Between working out and cutting/counting calories I was expecting to see better results sooner. I've been doing more strength training/weights this time around though so I think I'm building muscle as well as (hopefully) burning fat. I try not to be too disappointed with the number on the scale. Muscle is more dense than fat after all. Building muscle is my priority because it helps to burn fat more efficiently and boosts your metabolism. Over 40 you naturally lose muscle mass every year so you have to fight to keep it. That's one of the reasons the "middle aged spread" starts and is hard to lose. Though I'm nowhere near my goal, I've gone down a size and clothes are fitting better so at least it's doing something. I could kick myself though for overindulging over the fall and winter! (Hiding under winter clothes I didn't care. I didn't bother to exercise or diet. Now I'm paying the price!) Somehow it's even harder to lose the weight this year. I tried doing one of my old Jillian Michaels workouts and injured my back. Sigh. Getting old. Trying to stay young.

 Michelle always loves playing with cousin Reggie. Unfortunately now they're going through a stage where they think it's hilarious to talk (and even yell) about bowel movements. They'll say "Poo!" and giggle uncontrollably. Michelle will even ask me things like "Do you have DIARRHEA?!" which is embarrassing enough when we're visiting at Auntie May's but I'm horrified she's going to say it out loud when we're shopping or something. That's just one of the reasons I try to avoid taking Michelle shopping anymore. I usually try to go shopping when we're at my Mom's so I can leave Michelle home with Grandpa while Mom and I shop in peace. Michelle is getting too big for her stroller (and wouldn't really stay in it anyway.) She runs amok, even after me telling her to STAY WITH ME and DON'T RUN OFF or you could get lost/kidnapped (though I don't think anyone would be crazy enough to try to grab her!) She yells or screams just to hear the sound of her own voice. She asks me to buy her EVERYTHING. She grabs things to put in the cart that I don't need. She hides in the clothes racks and laughs (of course I used to do the same thing as a kid.)

Though my Mom mostly takes care of Michelle when I'm at work, Grampa is a HUGE help. He watches Michelle in the mornings when I'm on dayshift (because my Mom can't get up that early!), takes her for walks to the park, plays with her in the backyard. I'm grateful to have my Dad in Michelle's life. Because she doesn't have a dad I told her that Father's Day is "Grampa Day." She made him a card and said "Happy Grampa Day!" A couple of times she's called him "Dad" after hearing me call him Dad. I explained that he's MY dad but he's HER grampa. I tell her that she doesn't have a daddy but that's OK. She has a mommy that loves her very much. And Gramma and Grampa. Her aunt and uncles and cousins.

When she asked about having a daddy I told Michelle that one day if I met a very nice man who loved us very much I might get married and then she'd have a stepdad. "Mama I don't want you to get married." Michelle said. I was a little surprised to hear her say that but without missing a beat I said "Don't worry honey. At the rate I'm going, that's never going to happen!" Though I met a man recently who was interested in a relationship, I declined his offer. I said we could be friends but he wanted more. Michelle is too important to me. I would have to be so sure of someone before I would entertain the thought of a relationship. We would have to be friends for a long time so I could get to know him well enough to build up a trust to know he was a good man and would make a good father for her. I wouldn't let someone into our lives if I wasn't sure of him. I may have taken some crazy chances when it was just me but not anymore. I wasn't very protective of myself in the past but I'm very protective of Michelle. So he'd have to be an amazing man. Incredibly kind, patient, loving and funny. He'd have to be like a cross between Jesus and Will Ferrell. I'm not convinced that such a man exists. So for now we're doing fine on our own.

Although I had to work on Father's Day I still got to celebrate with the family afterward (and luckily May saved me some of the delicious dinner!) I'm fortunate to have a job with unusual hours and have a lot of days off. The trade-off is that I sometimes have to work weekends, holidays etc. Sometimes Michelle tells me "Mama, I don't WANT you to go to work!" I try to explain to her that I have to make a living to support us. "Mama needs to make money so I can buy food and pay for our house and everything!" I also explain to her that most people have to work Monday to Friday every week. And some single Moms especially have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. We are really very fortunate that we're managing financially and have so much time together.

Michelle loves to be in control. To make her happy I often leave decisions up to her (within reason). "What do you want for dinner tonight?" "What do you want to do today?" Luckily we're often on the same page. Sometimes I can implant suggestions and make it seem like it's her idea. Michelle was asking to go to the beach even in the winter so now that the weather is nice she asks quite often and I usually comply. (The beach is my favourite place too!)

One recent excursion was a bit of a train wreck: the Ontario Science Centre. I hadn't been since I was a kid. Michelle has such a curious nature I thought she'd love it and learn a lot from it. Also as I said before I wanted to take her places while she could still get in for free. (It's expensive enough paying for one admission. Once she's 3 years old I have to pay for her too.) It was a rainy day and I thought it would be the perfect time to check out something indoors. I thought the rain would keep people home (what idiot would venture out in bad weather? Apparently a LOT of idiots just like me!) My Mom had warned me not to try going anywhere near Toronto. There's always something going on. Traffic is horrendous. I knew the Pan Am games were coming up and you wouldn't be able to go near Toronto. Also her birthday is coming up. I figured this was our last chance.

It was a long drive in the rain. Even longer because traffic was HORRIBLE. The worst part was on the middle of the Gardiner Expressway I suddenly had to pee like there was no tomorrow! I was in pain. I thought back to when I was in labour. This wasn't quite as bad but it was a close second. "OMG!" I was grinding my teeth, clenching the wheel. Stuck in traffic. There was nothing I could do. Since childbirth it's harder than ever to hold it in. Thank God I did Kegel exercises or I would have wet myself for sure! I was thinking if I was a man I could have gone in a bottle. I actually considered getting out in the middle of the highway (we weren't moving anyway!) and going on the median. Finally we were moving, onto the DVP then off on Don Mills Road. I saw a Tim Hortons and it was like the heavens opened, light poured down and I could hear harps playing. Michelle woke up from her nap. "Are we at the Science Centre?" "No! We're at Tims! Mama has to PEE!"

Then we get to the Science Centre and apparently everyone in North America decided to go there that day. The parking lot was full and we had to park at the overflow parking lot up a hill. So it was about a 10 km walk just to get to the building. Carrying Michelle half the way (I don't like her walking on the road) was quite a workout. Then we get in the building. The line-up, JUST TO BUY A TICKET, went around the building. It was like an hour long. I wanted to leave but I'd already been stuck in traffic for hours just to get there. Michelle was getting antsy. "Don't worry Michelle," I told her, "we will NEVER come to Toronto again. Like EVER." Michelle had fun exploring the interactive exhibits at KidSpark. She was interested in the body, nature, space, pretty much everything science had to offer. I was just trying to get through it and get through the crowd. I was most looking forward to the Planetarium but when we got there staff was telling the lineup that they were over capacity and no one else could get in. So come back in an hour. Some of the people were just waiting there for the next show. I thought that would be such a waste so we walked around exploring more of the centre -- living earth etc. Unfortunately when we went back to the Planetarium we were locked out of that show too. And Michelle was tired and wanted to leave.

If it hadn't been so crowded it would have been more enjoyable but it was also such a huge space to try to cover with Michelle. Too much to see in one day but I vowed we'd never go back.

When we left we got caught in a downpour. I had to carry Michelle, running, in the rain, all the way to the back parking lot. Then I couldn't find the car. We were soaked to the skin. Worst. Day. Ever!

That night Michelle said to me "Mama I love the Science Centre!"
I said "That's good honey! I'm glad you enjoyed it!" I thought "That makes one of us! We'll never go there again. Like EVER!" When you're a kid, you just have fun. You don't have the worries, the responsibilities. You just play. Everything is an adventure. Oh to be a kid again!


So there you are! I'm caught up from January to June! It's taken me a while to work on this one, a bit at a time when I could find some time. I'll try to do a post for Michelle's birthday and then I don't know. I like blogging though. I like looking back at the past few months, reflecting on so many memories. And I love the photos. They're a huge part of my life. It's my way of living twice.

I'm a total photoholic but I don't see it as a problem. People have told me I take too many pictures (ex boyfriends, even my Mom.) Frankly, I don't think that's possible. I never regret the photos I take especially now with digital pictures where you don't actually have to print every one (poor Black's Photography has gone out of business because people just don't print pictures anymore. )

As I was chasing and tickling Michelle I couldn't resist snapping photos of her running and laughing. I can't imagine too many kids get chased by the tickle monster and the paparazzi at once! To me it's totally worth it. If I snap 20 pictures and one of them is her radiant smile, I'm happy. Time goes by WAY too fast. Michelle is turning 3 next month. It's crazy. She was a baby like yesterday. You can't hold on of course. But I try. She'll keep growing and changing but I get to catch her and keep her at each stage in the photos. I never regret a single picture.

Michelle amazes me every day. Though she can be frustrating at times and exhausting all the time (she rarely lets me sleep!) she is the sweetest, most loving child anyone could hope for. She has brought more joy and purpose to my life than I ever imagined possible. I am thankful to have her to chase after, to laugh with, to teach and to learn from. She is the love of my life. It's not easy. It is worth it.

So what else is new? :)