Friday, November 4, 2016

FOUR ever...

It's crazy. Michelle IS FOUR YEARS OLD! And has started school! How did this happen?! It seems like she was a baby not very long ago. Now she's a big girl, going to Kindergarten. The other day I tried to sing "Where are you going, my little one, little one? Where are you going, my baby, my own? Turn around and you're 2, turn around and you're 4, turn around and you're a young girl going out of the door..." I burst into tears at "turn around and you're 4." Michelle laughed at me. She always finds it funny when I erupt into tears at a movie, or a sentimental book or even a sappy TV commercial. She gets a Kleenex for me and says "Here's a tissue for your eyes!" grinning ear to ear with amazement at her silly Mama. Yes I'm a total sap. I can't help it. I cried at Michelle's birthday. I cried when she started school. It's her party and I'll cry if I want to!

Time goes by WAY too fast. This is a blog about late July-August and September but somehow we're into NOVEMBER already and I'm still trying to finish it! These posts always take me so long to put together and I usually only have a little time here & there to work on it. It would be a lot easier if I wouldn't include so many dang photos but I can't help it! To me this blog is like a diary/record of my life with Michelle and nothing captures it better than pictures! I don't know whether it's the site or my computer but posting photos is the hardest part. It doesn't let me place them where I want and usually takes several tries. I keep trying to move it and it won't budge and then it goes where I don't want it to. It's extremely frustrating but apparently not enough for me to give up on the whole thing (if you're reading this now! LOL)

Michelle loves Sponge Bob. (She even insisted on marrying him at one point, I posted their wedding photos in one of my blogs.) I really don't know what the attraction is. A yellow square with big googly eyes and buck teeth. I've caught a few minutes of the show here and there when I'm busy doing other things. It is sort of funny I guess. Sponge Bob seems to be the eternal optimist. A bundle of joy. He loves life and sees the best in everything. I'm more like Squidward. A bit of a grouch/pessimist.

I let Michelle pick out her own balloons for her birthday party. She opted for a giant number 4 and a Sponge Bob. She also has Sponge Bob books, DVDs, stuffies and action figures. She is a tad obsessed. So when I saw that there was a Sponge Bob cake pan...

Yes I made a friggin Sponge Bob birthday cake! I'm not a Sponge Bob fan (especially after our misadventures trying to see the 4D Sponge Bob movie, accidentally crossing a border and almost getting arrested all because of a ridiculous cartoon sponge.) This is a testament to how much I love my girl. I will do just about anything to make her happy. I am no Martha Stewart. I am not a cook, never mind a baker. Yet somehow on her last birthday I made a Princess Castle cake (actually I did two, one chocolate and one vanilla. One practice & one "good" cake.) This year, since Michelle is obsessed with Sponge Bob, I decided to do a Sponge Bob cake. I was getting pretty discouraged with my work (I pictured those photos on the internet where people show their baking fails -- what it's supposed to look like versus how it turns out, usually with the sarcastic caption "Nailed it!") but Michelle kept encouraging me. "It looks GREAT MAMA!" she insisted and in the end I thought it was OK. Not quite like the photo but oh well. Again, it was murder on my wrists squeezing thousands of globs of icing out but I started to get into a rhythm. Michelle was thrilled with her cake and that's what really matters. Not that Mama is exhausted, her back is breaking and I may have carpal tunnel from all the squeezing...

It was great having the family over to our place for a change to celebrate Michelle's birthday. Most events wind up being at May's house. She has the biggest/nicest house and it's in the most central location so it just makes sense all around. Of course it isn't fair that she gets saddled with hosting EVERY SINGLE EVENT all year long. Of course I had to host Michelle's birthday party at our place. Again, I'm no Martha Stewart so "entertaining" isn't exactly my forte but when it's my own family I know I can just relax and not have to worry. And I don't even bother trying to cook a meal. I usually just order in (pizza, Chinese, KFC or whatever people fancy. I usually take a poll and majority rules. I love food and will pretty much eat anything!)
Michelle loves getting together with the whole gang and she was thrilled to have them at our house for her birthday. She loves dressing up and was happy with her pink floral dress. My girl is a princess! I like dressing up once in a while too. The weather was nice so we spent some time in the backyard. I told them not to mind the lawn which was mostly straw since we didn't have much rain and aside from playing in the sprinkler a couple of times with Michelle, I never bothered to water. I figured at least with the grass dead I didn't have to worry about mowing it. Mowing the lawn is one of my least favourite chores.

Michelle got a little spoiled. I can't help it. There are so many things that I can't give Michelle (a father, siblings, a perfect world) so I try to do everything within my power to give her what I can to make her happy. When I see something on sale I grab it. I figure I can use it at the next occasion -- birthday, Christmas or no occasion at all. I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, have a social life, go on trips. I buy toys and books for my kid. And I like junk food. There are worse vices I could have I think.

Of all the things I gave Michelle she made the most fuss over a stuffed white cat. She has a LOT of stuffies. Many of them were mine before I ever knew I'd be having a daughter (yes even as a grown woman I collected stuffed cats and bears. I always had a weakness for cute things. Again, as vices go, not the worst. I don't do heroin for example.) Clutter can be an addiction however and the show Hoarders did used to terrify me but hopefully I never get to that point. I'm a bit of a maximalist (as opposed to a minimalist) but I have boundaries. Things have to be organized and in their place. The house has to be livable. No floor to ceiling piles of crap. Though if you saw a room after Michelle's been playing it looks like a bomb hit it. But things do go back in their place eventually. I'm trying to get her to at least HELP with tidying up her own mess but it is mostly Mama that does the tidying/cleaning/organizing. And admittedly it is my own fault for giving her so many toys.

One of the things Michelle had asked for was Pax my Poopin Pup. In a moment of weakness I bought it because it was on sale really cheap but I still think it's the fourth sign of the Apocalypse. I suppose it's better than having a real dog with real poop to clean up. I explained to Michelle that THAT ISN'T HAPPENING. We're a cat house. Cats are easier, more independent. So don't waste your wishes on a puppy because NEVER. NOT EVER. I'm not sure what Michelle wished for. But she was happy to have her family around her. And very happy to eat her Sponge Bob cake. She had no sympathy for him. "I want to eat the eye!"

Sometimes when Michelle stands next to the mirror, it's like there are two of her. <Shudders> I can't even imagine. Don't get me wrong. I ADORE my girl but she's a ball of energy. A force of nature. To have two of her would be overwhelming. Even just one of her is exhausting sometimes. She's very sweet and loving and affectionate and funny and bright. But she can also be moody and demanding and stubborn. She wants her way. RIGHT NOW! She is a Princess/Queen and she rules her castle. I try my best to keep up. She can be frustrating and some days I'm at my wit's end. But then she'll hug me and say "I love you Mama!" and I could forgive her for anything. I've never experienced a love like this, not quite like this, not in any previous relationship and not even with my family. There is no one else I have felt so devoted to that I would sacrifice anything for, give my life for. She comes first.

There were a lot of hot days in August. More than I remembered there ever being. Some people don't like the heat but I love Summer and I wanted to enjoy it as much and as long as we could. We went to the beach often. It was one of Michelle's favourite places and mine. And every time we went it was a different adventure.

Of course I always have my camera and I snap about 100 or more photos every time we go. Many are blurry or awkward or not that great. Some are OK. Then once in a while you capture that perfect moment. This shot -- with the strangely dark/bright sky, clouds coming out of her head like a thought bubble, Michelle laughing, a seagull flying by her right at that moment -- is why I keep snapping. This is the perfect moment. A beautiful summer day at the beach summed up in one picture. As they say, a picture says a thousand words so I don't need to say anymore about this.

And sometimes even with the self-timer I get lucky. A seagull flies by at just the right moment. I love the self-timer. I see people taking their selfies with their phones. To me it's always too close. You need to set the camera down somewhere & set the timer to get a proper shot. Or hire someone to follow you everywhere and take pictures of you (I sometimes wonder if this is what celebrity couples do when you see cute photos of them everywhere. Or they have a third wheel friend who happens to be a photographer? Not sure...) Or maybe they have a camera with a self-timer like me. I'm old school. And I was taking selfies before it was even a term.

We heard that there was a sandy beach in Oakville so we decided to check it out with Grandma. It would be nice to have a beach so close. I wondered why we hadn't been to it before. Mom said we had but not for many years. It's sort of hidden off on a side road. It's not straight off of Lakeshore. Anyway, we found it and went. Unfortunately it wasn't the best day. Mom and Michelle were both complaining about how far we had to walk from the car, how much seaweed there was, how many flies were around.

Then Mom read later that it's also polluted with goose poop so we decided not to go back. There were quite a lot of geese/seagulls there now that I think back and the water was quite shallow. If the water is deep and there are a lot of waves then the lake has a chance to clean itself out but when the water is still and shallow, it's a recipe for disaster...

Sometimes it's better to just play in the sand. And sometimes the Princess is right and things really don't measure up...

To the degree that I can, I like to grant all of Michelle's wishes that are within my power. What do you want to do today? Fingerpaint & go on the water slide? Done! I also knew that August was the last month (until next summer) that we would have our days together through the week. In September she'd be starting school. So I wanted us to have fun and make the most of our time together while we still could during weekdays. So we got messy fingerpainting and played on the waterslide in the yard. Cost: almost nothing. Result: priceless!

It's good to know that it doesn't take much to make Michelle happy. I really wish I could afford a pool. I wish I could afford to go away on vacations. But even on a little backyard waterslide (a gift from Uncle Chris) Michelle can cool off and have a ball. Life is all about enjoying the simple pleasures. For Michelle it's running around and playing. For me, it's catching photos of her running around and playing! She doesn't really even fight me on it anymore. She used to let out an exasperated "Mama! That's enough pictures for now!" Now she just lets me snap away. She knows I'm going to do it anyway. She even enjoys posing for me now.

They said it was the hottest summer on record. With more days over 30 Celsius (and several over 40!) than ever before.

I'd wake up and check the forecast then ask: "What do you want to do today?"
"Go to the beach!"
"Let's go!"


Sometimes it was too crowded but usually we were lucky enough to grab our spot under one of the palm trees at Port Dover Beach. There's nothing like lying on the sand and looking up to see the palms against a blue sky overhead. It always feels like I'm somewhere tropical even though I'm right here in Ontario. Sometimes I'll overhear people coming to the beach for the first time and expressing wonder at seeing real palm trees in Canada. "Do they last through the winter?" some of them ask.
"No. They bring them back at the end of May each year."

Ta-daaaaaaaaa! Now that's a pose! Michelle actually enjoys getting her picture taken most of the time now and is happy to strike a pose. I like to have souvenirs of these perfect days -- When Michelle is smiling, the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky. This is my happy place. And when I'm having a dark day and need a mental vacation, this is where I go. Of course I also imagine actually LIVING by a beach someday and relaxing in a hammock under palm trees, but for now, this will certainly do. And it's within reach, at least for a few months of the year. I really did not want Summer to end. The thought of it was heartbreaking. August was bittersweet because September loomed and I knew it was going to go WAY too fast. Soon Michelle would be going to school. She was excited about it but I was depressed and anxious over it. My baby is growing up too fast and I wasn't ready to let go. I worried about her being away from me for hours. So far I had only ever left her with my Mom and Dad when I went to work.


For a change of scenery we went to Gulliver's Lake with Grandma and Auntie May. It's a nice peaceful spot to go swimming. Michelle LOVES being with Auntie May, cousin Shannon and Reggie and going swimming just makes it even more fun. I brought the inflatable dolphin and lion floating toys. Michelle loved them. The dolphin especially is a nuisance to blow up (even with a pump) so I just left him blown up. (I managed to squeeze him in the trunk. It was either that or put my Mom in the trunk & leave the dolphin in the seat but Grandma wasn't up for it! LOL


On the way to the lake we had passed a store that had massive dinosaur displays. Michelle wanted to check it out on the way home. I asked May if it was all right to stop there. She said yes and that Reggie had suggested it too. Apparently there was a "Poke Store" there. I have to admit I don't understand the whole "Pokémon Go" craze. I have a cellphone but I pretty much just use it for emergencies. I don't have data or "apps" on it. But my niece and nephew are technological wizards and apparently Reggie has collected all sorts of Pokémon creatures on his I-pad or whatever it is... I was just happy for a photo op with the dinosaurs!


And on rainy days, there's always art... Michelle loves to draw and I adore her masterpieces. Here she drew her and I with a heart. I love that she even puts details in like pigtails on her and a ponytail in my hair. And I love that everyone in her pictures is smiling, even the sun, the flowers, or in this case, the heart. Michelle does make my heart smile. I have bad days of course like everyone does especially when I'm tired and run down. But overall life with Michelle is bliss. I am so grateful for her. I can't imagine life without her. It was painful for me to think of spending my days without her once she started school but I knew it would be a good experience for her, meeting other kids, learning new things. I tried to be enthusiastic about it (or at least fake it for her sake.) As a single Mom (and one that doesn't date or have much of a social life) Michelle really was my whole world. The prospect of not having her around (even just for a few hours during the day) was heartbreaking.


I love this picture she did of a waterlily. Michelle is constantly surprising me with what she can do at only four years old.

"I want to be just like you Mama," she said to me one day. "I want to be an artist and to write and sing and make songs and go to work and help people and everything just like you." It melted my heart but I almost wanted to tell her -- you can do better. You're stronger than me, more brave than me, you can do anything in the world you want to do. She doesn't have my doubts and fears to hold her back.

My Mom says Michelle is so much like me already. I think she's the new & much improved version!


I love this picture of a mermaid and flamingoes! Sometimes Michelle will ask me how to draw something so I'll do a quick drawing to give her an idea. Then she'll draw it and invariably her drawing is better than mine. More original. More interesting. More pure. Michelle gets frustrated with herself. "I can't draw as good as you can Mama!" I remind her that she's only 4 years old. I'm more than 10 times older than her. "Besides," I tell her, "art is subjective. And I like yours even better than mine." After my praise she usually stops being hard on herself. My Mom says I was always a perfectionist and hard on myself too.

Everything is always Mama and baby in Michelle's pictures because it's just her and I. I love this Mama and baby panda. I'm not sure why the sun's face is half black and half orange. Maybe it was partly cloudy that day. I often get Michelle to describe her pictures so I can write what she says on the back. There's usually a story to go with it. She has such a vivid imagination. She has even made some of her own little story books with words and pictures. She tells me what to write and she does the drawings. She has always loved books. I've been reading to her since before she was born (reading to me in utero was something that my Mom did when she was pregnant with me and she believes that fostered my love of words, writing, books and reading.) I did the same for Michelle. I used to read Goodnight Moon to her every night until I could recite it by heart. I still read it to her sometimes. Though she prefers the Halloween version, Goodnight Goon. 

It's always hard for me to leave Michelle when I have to go to work but she loves spending time with Grandma and Grandpa and I get to see them a little as well before (or after depending on the shift) work. It is our second home and I think it's good for Michelle to have some time away from me. It always makes her appreciate me more. I love hearing her exclaim "MAMA!" and running to hug me when I get back to my Mom's after work. It's like I've been gone a month instead of just a day. I wondered how she'd manage going to school...
Michelle had her four year check-up at the doctor and I was happy to hear that she's in perfect health. Despite getting the odd cold and cough here and there. The doctor pointed out that it's best not to worry when she gets sick because it's inevitable with kids and it helps to build up their immunity. The doctor was impressed with Michelle how bright and lively she is. She even drew a picture for the doctor and wrote her name on it. The doctor said she'd keep it in Michelle's file. I was so proud of her. I told her we'd have ice cream later to celebrate her checkup.

We hadn't been to Burlington Beach yet this year and we decided to go. Unfortunately there seemed to be construction everywhere this summer and we didn't know until we were almost there that the road we needed to take (namely LAKESHORE) was closed. I'm directionally impaired at the best of times so if you take away my usual route, I'm pretty much guaranteed to get lost! I wasn't sure how we were supposed to get to the lake's shore without taking Lakeshore but we'd come this far so I was determined to try. I tried following the detour signs unfortunately they led us on a winding, circling, confusing and ultimately doomed path. It led us on and off the highway and still no closer to the beach where we wanted to go. I tried heading back and taking the detour again but once again the signs seemed to drop off -- they led you so far and then you were left to rot! Somehow we ended up in Hamilton. Michelle was getting impatient. My Mom needed to get to a bathroom and I was just about fit to be tied! "This is INSANE!" I said "I can SEE the lake! So why can't I GET TO IT!" Finally we pulled into a parking lot and asked someone for directions and miraculously ended up where we needed to go. Finally.

I remember my dad saying once "You can't get there from here!" and I told him at the time that that's silly, that you can get anywhere from anywhere but sometimes you almost can't. Or it's awfully confusing anyway. I remember once I had an audition in Toronto and had such a hard time finding the place it's almost what made me give up acting because I thought I just can't go through that stress again! Between one way streets and streetcar tracks and bridges and pedestrian traffic and strange signs that say you can't go left or right or straight or park there, driving in Toronto is sort of horrifying. Not to mention that auditions were scary too... And endless rejection isn't fun.

Better late than never. If Mom had her way we would have just turned around and gone home after getting lost but I was committed to a day at the beach and didn't want to disappoint Michelle. It wound up being worth it in the end and I was glad we went. I was cursing the construction though but it seems unavoidable wherever you go. They tear up the road and take months (years?) to finish it. I don't understand why it takes so long. It's very frustrating though. So no more trips to Burlington Beach for us this year.


And there's always the sprinkler, after mowing the lawn in the scorching heat I was as anxious to run through the sprinkler to cool off as Michelle was. She wanted to help me mow the lawn so she pushed her bubble mower. She always wants to help me with everything. She has her own little kitchen with a sink so she can pretend to do dishes like Mama (I never did get my dishwasher fixed.) She has a little toy vacuum and broom to pretend to clean the floor. And she loves when I let her help me with dusting and cleaning (I only let her use organic cleaners without chemicals). She also loves helping me cook and I try to let her feel involved. I know my Mom always just told us to stay out of the way and didn't let us help with anything. It's partly my instinct to do that too but I consciously make the effort to let Michelle help because it makes her happy. Even though sometimes she's more of a hindrance than a help. It's fun for her and that's what matters. I can always redo it (properly!) after. Yes I'm a control freak...



Nerd alert: yes, I got us matching shirts. I'd always dreamed of finding Mother-Daughter matching outfits but it didn't seem to exist. Then I was in a Justice (girl's clothing store) and found these tanks on sale in a size 6 and a size (girl's) 16! Perfect! Michelle was excited we were dressed the same. My Mom says Michelle is a mini-me anyway so dressed alike she really is like a younger version. People may have looked at us strangely when we went to the beach but I don't care. To me, it's cute. It's a good photo op too and I can't resist those. The only thing that would make me more excited would be to find matching dresses but that may not happen. Maybe one day. Most women probably wouldn't want to wear children's wear but I'm still a kid at heart anyway. And this "Shine on!" shirt would be suitable for any age and was perfect for the beach I thought.

Port Dover Beach became our second (or third after my Mom's place!) home during the summer Michelle and I  were there so often.

Each time was a new adventure. Sometimes we'd mostly play in the sand, other times we'd go in the water and still others we'd stroll around, go to the little shops, get an ice cream. I loved all of it. Of course my favourite part is always sitting under the palm trees, watching Michelle play, taking a million (or at least a hundred) photos, enjoying the sand, the sun, the sound of seagulls and the waves. It is my Zen, my happy place. Michelle always loved it too. The best things in life are free. A day at the beach with my girl was proof of that. One of my favourite things in the world.

This photo sums up the beach and the Summer for me. Michelle running, with her arms out, like she's going to fly and a seagull flying by at just the right moment. You snap a bunch of photos and half of them are blurry or mediocre and then once in a while you get that perfect moment. I love that. And that's why I keep doing it. At least more people seem to take pictures now but most of them are doing it on their phones. I'm the only one I see pulling out my old school Nikon. Most of the ones I see on the beach (usually young women) are taking selfies with their phones. I take some pics on my phone but to me it's not the same.

Sometimes someone offers to take our picture which is very nice. I used to always say no thanks when strangers would ask because I had someone accidentally break my camera once by dropping it (back in Montreal many years ago when I was with Paul. They broke my Canon and it broke my heart!) But on the beach I figure, it's sand, and the camera would be OK anyway. Plus there isn't always a good spot to sit the camera to set up the self-timer. My camera is a little knocked up from over-use. The lens is actually scratched but it doesn't affect most shots. You see a little ghosting when the sun shines on it or when I use the flash but I've gotten used to it. I'm so attached to my Nikon I don't want to part with it (it was a gift from my sister before Michelle was born because my other Nikon wore out and she knew my having a baby was the BIGGEST PHOTO OP EVER! LOL) Yes, for me, a camera is definitely a necessity!

I've gotten into the habit of pretty much daily portraits of Michelle and I (and Ali sometimes when she joins us.) It's become a ritual before we leave the house -- snap a picture! I did it one day when we were dressed up and then it just sort of stuck. I'm a creature of habit and habits are tough to break. Plus Michelle is growing up so fast I figure it can't hurt to have pictures of her EVERY SINGLE DAY (although, obviously that's a LOT of pictures!) I plan to do photo albums of my favourites at some point but it's a daunting task. I haven't printed pictures since Michelle was a newborn so I'm so behind I don't know how I'd ever catch up. This blog has become like a digital photo album instead. I don't think as many people print photos anymore. I used to see line ups all the time at those photo kiosks. Now it's a rarity. And places like Black's went out of business. It's the digital age I guess. Still, I do like having actual photos in books. I will get around to it one day...

Michelle always has a ball running around the backyard at Grandma's house. With so much beautiful weather we spent a lot of time outside. I loved sitting on the garden swing talking with my Mom and watching Michelle play. It was another one of my favourite summer rituals.

I'm glad I get to see my Mom and my sister so often. I wish I lived closer to them. I talk to my Mom every day and visit with my sister at least a couple of times a month.

We made another trip to Gulliver's Lake before September when the kids would be starting school. It was a perfect day. I thought how much I'm going to miss this, about how I didn't want the summer to end. This summer most of all. I always have a hard time with Fall because I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and the lack of sunlight affects my mood, energy -- everything. But this year would be even harder because Fall meant school and having to let Michelle go. How would I cope with that?!

I knew that Michelle would love school because she'd get to meet so many kids her own age. Every time we went to the beach or the park she was always making new friends. She's not shy. She'll talk to anyone. Before I knew it she'd have a new little friend to play with. I envied her that. I was a shy child and even shy as an adult. It's always been tough for me to meet new people. It seems to come naturally to Michelle. She is friendly, outgoing and brimming with confidence.

One thing that would be a HUGE adjustment for both Michelle and I was getting up early for school. Michelle was a bit of a night owl. I had a hard time getting her to settle down at night. I didn't mind so much because I'm a night owl myself and half the time I work nightshift so I just rolled with it. But now we were going to have to get up early for school so I started gradually getting her to bed earlier and setting the alarm to get her up earlier and earlier each day until school started. I discovered that it is almost impossible to wake Michelle up! I would call her name, shake her, even put a massive bear on her and still nothing. I was dreading her going to school. It was a good thing I started practicing a week ahead.

I couldn't believe how quickly the summer passed. That now it was almost September. That my girl was going to be leaving me! I was dreading it. It was breaking my heart. I heard from other moms that it's natural to feel that way. Your child going to school is a milestone. Your baby is growing up. I think that in my situation however, it was even more difficult. Being a single Mom and having spent all of my time with Michelle (except when I'm working) I've become so attached to her. She is my whole world. There isn't anyone else -- a partner etc that shares my time (aside from my family). I don't do anything that doesn't include her. I don't spend time away from her. I don't go on trips, have social outings. I've never left her with a sitter. It's always been Michelle and me together, everywhere. 

The prospect of starting school soon was affecting Michelle as well in conflicting ways. On one hand she would tell me that she was a big girl and could do things herself. When I tried to help her with something she'd say "Let ME do it! I can do it myself!" On the other hand, sometimes it's like she wanted to be my baby again. She'd ask me to carry her down the stairs (I always complied.) And she started asking to play with her baby toys in the basement. Things she had shown no interest in in over a year. It's like she was torn between wanting to grow up and wanting to stay my baby. I explained to her that she will ALWAYS be my baby even when she's a grown lady. She laughed at that. "You'll ALWAYS be my little girl." I assured her. "I will ALWAYS love you. No matter what." Even though some days she does test me!


Another beautiful day and I couldn't resist another trip to the beach. Each time thinking this may be our last one this year (but then it wasn't.) I was hoping the warm weather would last even through September and October. I'd be happy if Fall and Winter never came. Of course I knew that was too much to hope for. This is Canada and you have to expect four seasons. Even if you're miserable during two of them. I try to look at the bright side and make the best of it for Michelle. I told her there is always something to look forward to in every season. Fall has Halloween at least and Winter has Christmas.

I call Ali Michelle's furry older sister. And Ali is so big she weighs almost as much as Michelle! Michelle may not have other siblings but she does love her sister Ali. And sometimes Ali actually sits still long enough for me to get a picture of them together, which I love. Sometimes she even looks right at the camera, which makes my day especially when Michelle smiles too! That's the money shot! (Though it took a few failed attempts and some pretty goofy faces and noises on my part to make this happen!) Yes, the photographer is crazy. But it's worth it if Michelle laughs and Ali looks (looking at me like "What is WRONG WITH YOU LADY?!")


We went to see the Princess Margaret Dream Home with my Mom. It's a ritual. We always go to see them. They're always beautifully decorated. We can never resist buying a ticket. It's a good cause. The money goes to cancer research. And it buys a dream for a little while. I always think how wonderful it would be to win the home. Michelle loved it too. "Can we live here?!" she asked. "If we win!" I explained.

When I saw that the house had a yoga room and a music room (complete with guitars etc) I thought this house was made for me! So maybe it's a sign that I'm going to win! (Sure, could happen!) Michelle was impressed too. I overheard other people complaining about various things and saying that it wasn't "practical." Practical shmactical! I wanted to say. This is MY house anyway. You shouldn't win it if you don't even like it! I LOVED it!

It even had a pool! Michelle asked if we could go swimming in it. "No!" I said "not until/unless we win!" After I filled out the information to buy a ticket she asked "NOW CAN WE GO SWIMMING?!" The women working there laughed. I explained
that just buying the ticket didn't automatically mean you won, it was just a remote chance, like any other lottery. "We can swim in it next summer, if we win!" I promised. Plus we hadn't even brought our bathing suits.

Michelle made her very first purchase, on her own. It was a hot day and all of a sudden we could hear an ice cream truck going by. "Mama!" Michelle said, "I want to buy an ice cream!" I told her I wasn't sure if I had any change (mostly because I usually give all my change to her for her Sponge Bob piggy bank). "No!" she explained, "I want to buy it myself!" So we got out some change. I was worried by the time we got outside that he'd be gone and he almost was. We had to go running down the street after him but we did catch up with him (and looked ridiculous doing so no doubt! Most people don't stalk the ice cream truck down the street I'm sure!) Michelle was quite proud of herself that she paid for her first ice cream cone. "I have lots of money!" she bragged. "That's because you take all of Mama's money!" I reminded her. I tend to use credit cards to pay for anything but the rare times I actually have cash it seems Michelle is always asking "Can I have some change for my bank?" And I can't seem to say no to her.


September, the day before Michelle would start Kindergarten we made one last trip to the beach (well it didn't end up being our last but it was the last one before school anyway!) I had to fight back tears for a while. It was like our final goodbye. To the beach, to the summer, to the past four years, to the days when I had my little girl all to myself and she didn't have to go to school. It was a beautiful day but bittersweet. Michelle was excited to be starting school the next day though she did say she was going to miss her. I would miss her terribly.


Carefree sunny summer days at the beach. Michelle was laughing and splashing in the water. She met a couple of ladies with a German shepherd. She loves dogs but I always make sure she checks with the owner first that it's ok to pet the dog. They took him into the water. Michelle wanted to hold his leash in the water. He nearly knocked her over. Michelle was having a blast. I was trying not to get splashed (or get the camera splashed) but couldn't resist taking pictures. I wanted to hold on to that day, to the summer, forever. So I took a lot of photos, as always. I even took a little video of our last day at the beach, the last day of summer before school started and posted it on Youtube. (See the link below...)
And then it came. Michelle's first day of school. I was a nervous wreck! It was a challenge packing her lunch bag. I went a little overboard. I wanted to make sure she wasn't hungry. I couldn't even fit all the snacks in so I had to use a separate bag. I was pleasantly surprised that she actually did eat most of her lunch on the first day. (I'd heard of kids that never eat anything and it all comes back home with them.) Unfortunately after the first day it never happened again. Apparently they gave them extra time to eat the first day but the rest of the year they're SOL and so rushed there's no time to finish. My niece explained they give out lunch alphabetically so by the time she got hers she had 5 minutes left to eat while the kids with "A" surnames had the full 20 minutes. Doesn't seem fair but I guess they have to do something. Can't they just let the kids grab their own lunches?

Michelle was ready for school. I had a little trouble waking her up but once she realized "It's the first day of school!" she was like an excited puppy. I got her ready. She wanted to bring a stuffie along. For some reason she chose a stuffed bat. Of course I had to get a bunch of souvenir photos of her very first day of kindergarten (and would continue to take photos just about every day afterward!)

I heard of other Moms taking a photo with their child holding a sign or blackboard that said 1st day of kindergarten so I used the little blackboard May had given me. I'll continue it each year so I can look back at Kindergarten, Senior Kindergarten, Grade One etc and see how she changes each year. I can't believe how much she's growing up. She looks like a little girl now, not my baby anymore. She prefers her hair in a ponytail to pigtails but I love the pigs. I managed to persuade her. "The pigtails are SO CUTE! You have the rest of your life to wear a ponytail. You can wear a ponytail even as an adult but you can really only get away with wearing pigtails when you're a little girl, so enjoy being a little girl while you can!" So she reluctantly agreed. At least for her first day.

I gave up trying to get Ali to look for a photo. We had to leave or we'd be late for school on the first day and that wouldn't be good (especially if I had to explain that we were late because my cat wouldn't cooperate and look at the camera for the photos...) At least I got Michelle laughing at Ali as Ali turned away from me. Even my silly noises weren't helping. Ali was like, "Nope. Not doing it. You can't make me look no matter WHAT you do!" Even my "Psss-wsss-wsss Bubba!" noises weren't working and that stuff is usually gold for some reason. (It's something my Aunt Janet used to say to her cats and somehow it always got their attention.)

And even when we got outside Michelle couldn't escape the camera. I had to have a picture of her in natural light. This one melts my heart. She's like a little angel. The innocence in her eyes as she looks up at me, with her backpack on, about to embark on an educational journey 14-18 years long...I almost can't take it. She's going to learn so much, grow so much and change so much. And there is a lot that will be beyond my control. It's a journey she has to take on her own. I'm not there at school to make sure she eats her lunch and doesn't get hurt and that kids are nice to her and that everything is OK. She'll have to figure it out for herself. And I know somehow that she will be OK. She's a strong girl. But it still terrifies me. It's hard to let go. I didn't want to. I was like neurotic dad Marlin on Finding Nemo when he said "It's ok if you don't want to start school we could wait like 5 years..." but Nemo was dying to go. It wasn't Nemo that wasn't ready to go. It was his dad that couldn't let go. I relate.

I managed to hold it together when I dropped Michelle off at school but then I came home and cried. It hit me that this was the first time I had been alone in about 4 years. "What now?" I have my work schedule built around being there to take Michelle to and from school (because I can't bring myself to leave her with a stranger) so while she's at school during the day I'm home. I realized it was the first time since I was pregnant that I was actually ALONE during the day. Without Michelle, without work, what would I do? I went and got an iced cappuccino to treat myself/cheer myself up and recorded a video of myself having a mini-breakdown. I wasn't going to post in Youtube. But for some reason I thought what the heck and did. Here it is on Youtube:

After that first day though, I quickly realized that it's actually not that much time. It's only 6 hours that she's in school, not even a full day. There's so much to do around the house, so many things that I've been putting off that it's good to have time to myself to get things done. I've also started writing and illustrating a children's book (an idea I'd been toying with for a year but never got around to) and I plan to write a novel as well. I started playing guitar and singing again. Creativity was always such a big part of my life but when Michelle was home I usually never found the time or energy for it. Now with her in school I could find myself and my passions again. Even with this time I still didn't get finished my blog in October as planned. We're into November and I'm obviously still working on it. Chipping away at it a bit at a time.


With time to myself again I found myself picking up my guitar and looking through old songs. I found a song that I'd written about Michelle's father. I'd almost forgotten about it. After he left I tried to avoid writing or singing about him. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction (if he did snoop online to see what I was up to after he disappeared leaving me 4 months pregnant.) So all my songs were about Michelle. Now, all these years later, seeing this song I thought it's time to post it. I don't know if he checks out my blog, my Youtube, Twitter. I don't know if he's mildly curious or if he's forgotten all about us. But I hope he is haunted sometimes by what he's done, thinks about the life he left behind, feels some kind of remorse for the cowardly way he made his exit (without any apology or goodbye.) The song is called "Haunted." Here's the link to the video on Youtube:
The weather was still quite warm in early September when she started school so I was able to put her in summer dresses. I was always anxious to hear about her day when I picked her up from school but for some reason it was like pulling teeth to get her to talk about it. "What did you do at school today?" "I don't know." "Well did you learn anything? Did you sing songs, play games, draw, write, read stories?" Sometimes Michelle came home tired and moody. She'd snap at me. It's like there was no pleasing her. I was getting discouraged. The teacher told me that it's common. Kids are tired, overwhelmed and can be drained by the end of the day. It's a lot to take in -- going to school for the first time. Learning new things, meeting new people. Also I've been told that kids seem to save their worst behavior for their parents. So even if she was an angel all day in class she will let her true colours show when Mama is around because she knows I love her no matter what and she can test my boundaries. "Save the drama for your Mama!"

Michelle's artwork always puts a smile on my face. And she puts a smile on everything -- every animal, even the sun, even the flowers. It's a happy world. I am glad that Michelle is a happy girl most of the time. She has her moments when she's overtired and cranky and then she can be sad/angry but overall she is enthusiastic, full of energy, confident, happy, strong. Everything that I wish I was. She has started saying recently that she wants to be just like me when I grow up but the truth is that I wish I was more like her. I never have that sort of energy (I don't know if I ever did, even as a kid.) I don't think I ever had anywhere close to her confidence and strength. I was always a little timid and shy, plagued with self doubt. I'd like to take some of the credit at least for her high self esteem because I've always showered her in attention and praise. I just hope I didn't go TOO far.

It's all sunshine and rainbows in Michelle's world. Here she painted herself and Ali with a rainbow. When I showed her some of the work I'd done on my book, she said she wanted to do her own book and drew the pictures and told me what to write. I loved making books as a kid as well -- drawing and writing. As an adult I couldn't have imagined how difficult it is to do a children's book though. It's a testament to children's book authors that they make it look easy. It's really not. Children's books are magical -- to tell a story that is simple enough for children to understand but is engaging and timeless is a real art and doesn't come easily. I've been struggling with it. I pretty much have the story but I wanted to illustrate it as well. I could just send it to a publisher without illustrations but I really want to try to do both. I figured since I used to paint that I could manage but working with watercolours and trying to illustrate a book is a very different challenge. 

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and went for a bike ride after school. Michelle loves riding her bike. I'm not sure when I'll be brave enough to take the training wheels off (maybe next year.) I'm going to be a nervous wreck when I do. It's hard enough to let go figuratively. When I have to let go literally and watch her wobble and possibly fall and get hurt as she finds her balance and rides her bike alone for the first time -- it will kill me. But I know I have to do it. And she will find her balance and it will be empowering. It's an amazing feeling when you master a new task, when you become independent and find that you really can do something on your own. Of course I haven't even ridden a bike myself in several years. The last time I attempted as an adult I found that it is true, you never do forget. But I was a little rusty!

I was so proud of Michelle when her teacher showed me a "Picture of Caring" where Michelle had helped a boy put on his shoes. I worried about Michelle being able to do things for herself -- doing up her shoes and coat etc. To see that she was not only managing to do things herself but was helping others warmed my heart.

I worried how Michelle would be in school. She wasn't used to being with other kids her own age. Would she get along with them? Would she share? I was pleased to find that she did. And she had a best friend, almost from the first day although she didn't know her name. (She kept calling her buddy. I found out the name from her teacher.) Apparently Michelle is terrible with names. She may get that from me because I've never been able to remember names either.

Every day I pick Michelle up from school she runs to me excitedly yelling "Mamaaaaaaaaaa!" Seeing how happy she is to see me is the best part of my day. Once we get home however, I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get. Some days she's abrupt, even sarcastic with me, demanding and impossible. There's just no pleasing her, no matter what I do. Sometimes it feels like she's a different girl. Could school have changed her so quickly? Then other days she'll be my sweet loving girl again. Telling me how much she loves me. Hugging and kissing me. I know that she's going through a lot. School is a big change in our lives and even though she was excited about it and loves it, it still takes a lot of adjustment. She's becoming more independent, finding her way and having to balance that with her dependence on me.


Michelle and I both love the warm weather and thankfully it continued through most of September. We went to the park as often as we could, both at our place and near Grandma's when we were there. Michelle loves going on the swing and can swing high all by herself. She was happy to run into an old friend at the park as well and had a race with her. Michelle didn't go easy on her because she was younger. Michelle won by a landslide. She doesn't quite get the concept of giving someone smaller a head start or letting them win. I used to let Michelle win when we'd run a race but she got so fast that now she can pretty much outrun me on her own!

Something as simple as swinging on a swing still thrills Michelle. "Wheeeeee! Look I'm flying!" I wish I could get that excited about anything anymore. But I guess it's part of being a kid. Life is just a magical adventure. No worries or responsibilities. Just fun.

And of course I always have my camera on me. Even when we're just going to the park because if I keep snapping I might catch one of her perfect smiles... Mission accomplished!


And then, halfway through September, it was a really hot day on the weekend and I thought "BEACH DAY!" I told Michelle that this time it really was the last time we'd be at the beach this year. We made the most of the day. Somehow it's even sweeter when it feels like you're stealing a little summer in the middle of Fall. There weren't many people there. And it was a little cooler by the water. Too cold to swim but we had fun playing in the sand.
"Say cheese!" I say. Of course it doesn't always work. Sometimes Michelle says it reluctantly and it's strained and doesn't even look like a smile. Other times she just shakes her head. But then I make her laugh and there's that smile. Click. These are the summer smiles I'll hold onto in the dead of winter. I can always look back at these pictures and transport myself back there, to a sunny day by the lake, when Michelle was four years old and happy and all was right in the world. Life is fragile, impermanent. Photos are forever. I will never apologize for taking so many pictures. I only regret the ones I didn't get to take. Though I have to admit posting them in this blog is more difficult than I can even explain. Let's just say it's the opposite of user friendly. I get an error message when I log on and it doesn't let me put the photos where I want. It's a struggle and sometimes I just have to give up for the day before I hurl my computer.


As if I don't take enough photos of Michelle of course the school was going to do it to. I dressed her up for picture day. I worried she'd ruin her dress and have her hair a mess by the time she got her photo but she managed to stay in one piece. It's a long process getting the pictures back. (As I write this I still haven't received the package though I have ordered it.) I had a tough time deciding what to get. They give so many different options for packages of 8x10s, wallet sizes etc. I had to get a digital copy of all the photos though. And I wanted a keychain so I could have her sweet face with me all the time. I was glad that she was smiling in both the poses. They had an option to pay extra and have photos retouched. Michelle didn't have any imperfections to airbrush out but I thought that even if she did (and in the future she may have missing teeth, pimples etc.) I would never want to take them out. I love my girl, flaws and all and it's all part of growing up.

I was happy I caught so many smiles and I even got Ali to look... I love my two girls and some of my favourite photos ever are the ones where they are together. Michelle and Ali love each other too although they have had their disagreements. Sometimes Michelle will accidentally scare Ali and Ali lashes out. I reminded Michelle that cats do have a wild side. If they feel threatened, they're instincts kick in. Luckily she's never wound up with more than a little scratch and each one a lesson -- if you mess with a cat, be prepared for the claws...

When I ordered her photos they had one that I could download right away. The one here. I loved both of them. In the other one she's showing her teeth. They're both cute. I can't wait to get the package. I don't actually have recent printed photos of Michelle. For years it's all been digital and as I've mentioned before I do want to print albums for her but catching up from when she was a newborn will be a Herculean task! Even just posting a single blog about a couple of months means wading through thousands of photos. So trying to go through FOUR YEARS worth of pictures?! It seems overwhelming. So I procrastinate (like I do with everything else.) I will get to it eventually. I have a list of projects to get to but somehow there don't seem to be enough hours in the day. Even now that she's in school that's only 6 hours a day. By the time I do chores around the house, do some grocery shopping and go on the computer for a bit, the day is over!
Well that's weird! I no sooner wrote about Michelle's school photos here and then she came home with them an hour later! So I might as well post the other one here. I got a CD with all the poses (all two of them apparently. I thought there might have been more but there's just 3 and 2 of them are just the same picture but one is closer up.) I also got an 8x10, 5x7s, wallet sizes and keychains. I remember when I was in school and Mom couldn't be bothered paying for the school photos so all I had were the proofs with the word Josten's or whatever across my face. Mom used the excuse that she couldn't afford to order pictures for all of us and that they weren't very good anyway etc. I don't think I could sleep at night if I knew there was a picture of Michelle out there that I didn't have! I'm a total photoholic. Like when we go to Bird Kingdom or somewhere that takes your photos I HAVE to order them because I can't let them go to waste. You can't just throw memories away!

And then it was Meet the Teacher night. I would get to see inside Michelle's classroom and talk to her teacher. I misunderstood and thought it was a parent-teacher interview but it was more of a casual open house where you could come in and see the classroom and chat with the teacher for a bit. I was anxious to see her class because it was like pulling teeth getting Michelle to talk about anything that she did at school. The teacher had told me this was natural for kids her age. You have to ask pointed questions. "What did you do today?" is too vague. "Did you go to the library?" is more direct and at least you may get a yes or no. I try not to push and let Michelle tell me things in her own time. Usually she'll wind up singing a new song she learned or telling me about a funny story they read so at least I find something out. Or she'll suddenly say "I had a bad day today!" because she fell or someone was in the washroom when she had to go or someone else was playing with the toy she wanted. "Yeah, that sounds rough."

When we got to her class Michelle just kept going on about wanting to show me the gym. "The gym? Why the gym? This is supposed to be a tour of your CLASS!" Still, Michelle insisted so we wandered through the school until we found it (Michelle didn't actually know the way because she'd always been led there by the teacher.) Once we got inside the big empty gymnasium I understood the attraction. Michelle ran and ran around the gym. Blissfully running in the open space and burning off all that energy. Michelle LOVES to run. Her favourite thing is playing in the gym. So she ran around, even in a dress. Having all that room to herself seemed especially fun. Eventually I told her we really should get back so I could see her class and formally meet her teacher (though I'd seen her teacher in passing every day when I dropped Michelle off and picked her up.) She has two teachers actually and they're both very nice.



Michelle always wants to bring a stuffie to school. Sometimes it's a cat, others it's a bat. She has so many. Most she's collected on birthdays and other occasions (though sometimes no occasion at all, I can't resist giving her cute things when I come across them.) Some were actually mine from before she was even born (because I've never really grown up and I love stuffed animals too!) One day, out of the blue, Michelle decided she wanted to take her pink unicorn to school. It seemed a little big to carry around but she didn't mind. I've heard of kids having a security blanket. Michelle never had one. But she's a hugger. She always needs someone or something to cuddle. One day she told me that she hugged the teacher. "Why?" I asked. "Because I wanted you. And you weren't there." I found out later that she'd fallen and gotten hurt. She always wants a hug when she's hurt. My Mom warned her that the teacher wouldn't be allowed to hug her but it was OK with me. It broke my heart that I wasn't there for her.
Michelle runs and falls A LOT. It's like she can't keep still. She's so rambunctious. She loves to run outside. She even tries to run inside and sometimes it just doesn't work. Especially if there are things all over the floor. Sometimes I will have just warned her "Don't run!" or "Don't leave things on the floor to slip on!" then she'll fall and get hurt right after. Those are usually the times she doesn't cry because she's too embarrassed to admit I was right. She'll just dust herself off and say "I'm OK!" As a parent sometimes I feel like all I do is nag: "Be careful! Watch out! Don't do that!" but it's to protect her. The bottom line though is that I can't protect her from everything. She will have fumbles and scrapes whether I'm there or not. And being able to dust herself off and say "I'm OK!" is a life skill. A few bruises here and there will make her stronger than if she just sat still and never ran amok.


Michelle always wants to be Queen of the world so it was only fitting that she was crowned the Queen of the Family Reunion for being the youngest one there. Every 5-10 years on my Mom's side of the family there is a big Anderson Family Reunion. My Nana had many brothers and sisters and each of them had children who had grandchildren so it's a BIG group! Each family is given a different colour. We're always black. Presumably because we're the black sheep of the family. This year Mom was really a rebel and insisted on wearing navy because she had a new navy dress she wanted to wear. "But our colour is BLACK!" I explained. "You're going to RUIN the group photo!" "I don't care," she said. "This is why you're the black sheep of the family!" I laughed. We lucked out. I mean, black is the easiest colour. Some people actually have to wear yellow. I don't own anything yellow. Nor do I ever plan to.

"I'm the QUEEN Mama! And you're the Princess." "Ummm. I don't think it works that way. I'm the Mama so I have to be the Queen and you would be the Princess." "No! I AM THE QUEEN!" "All right. All right. My bad. Whatever you say, Your Highness." Michelle has her Diva moments. She can be bossy, demanding, moody, possessive. A relative came over to talk to my Mom and rested her hand on Michelle's chair and Michelle was trying to push her away and saying "My chair." "Be nice!" I angrily whispered, "you don't push people away! Sometimes older people need to lean on something to stand. Show some compassion!" Then just when you're losing patience with her she'll do something sweet, hug you and say she loves you and all is forgiven. I am so OWNED...


So here we are the Pincivero clan, my Nana Mary's ancestors, all dressed in black, except for Mom, the rebel, throwing the whole thing off. I mean even the KIDS wore black. Oh well, what are you going to do? You can't take her anywhere! We're the black and blue family! Reggie and Michelle were crowned King and Queen as the youngest boy and girl in the Anderson family.
Mom always tells the story of how my grandmother was supposed to be on the Titanic but one of her brothers was sick so they had to get the next ship after the Titanic from England to Canada. It always blew my mind that maybe none of us would have existed. She might have been one of the victims on the Titanic and then my Mom, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and my daughter Michelle, none of us would have existed. After the reunion I was curious so I researched about ships after the Titanic. I scrolled through microfiched ship logs looking for the Andersons. But there were missing pages and I never did find them. I thought it would have been cool. Family is important to me and knowing our history helps us to appreciate who we are and what we have now.
Since the date was close anyway and it's hard to get the whole gang together, we also used the reunion to celebrate Mike's birthday too. Mom brought a cake and we sang Happy Birthday. It felt kind of rushed (the hall had only been rented for the afternoon) and I felt a bit sad when we all had to leave and go our separate ways. We're still lucky to live relatively close to each other (Mike is the furthest away.) Some families are spread out over the globe. Some are estranged and never get together. Family is important to me and will always be a part of my life.

I love this outfit. It's ironic because I had to wear a uniform with a plaid skirt when I was in school and I hated it. But now when I see girls in plaid skirts I think it's adorable. It's the quintessential schoolgirl look. So when I found this outfit for Michelle, I couldn't resist. It even had a plaid tie. And I made her wear pigtails too because that makes the "school girl" look complete. Sometimes I look at Michelle and she seems so grown up. Not my baby anymore, but a girl. She's only been in school a short time and I'm already seeing changes in her. The most exciting thing is watching her learn to read. She recognizes more and more words and can read and write words on her own. She's known for a long time how to write her name but now she's figuring out how to spell other words. It's thrilling for me to watch. I'm so proud of her.
I'd do anything for Michelle and unfortunately she knows it. Sometimes my big girl wants to be a baby again. "Mama will you carry me?" "Can I have a piggyback?" And I do it, even though I've had problems on and off with my back for several years. After days of piggybacking Michelle, lifting weights (kettlebell swings etc) I thought I was OK. Then suddenly I bent over to pick up a bag of groceries and "ACK!" I felt a twinge in my back and it hurt for days. It's like the damage is cumulative and you never know when the last straw will break the camel's back. Yoga does help and I do it as often as I can to stay fit and flexible. But carrying around a 45 lb kid isn't easy. One of the hardest things is lifting her out of the seat and up to bed when she falls asleep in the car. When she's out cold she's like a dead weight and it feels like she weighs 100 lbs. It's murder on my back. My Mom says the day will come when I can't do it and I'll just have to wake her up. I think I'll still be doing it when she's 10 unless if physically KILLS ME!  

Aaack! Please excuse mistakes/shoddy editing and whatnot. I think I just give up! This has been pieced together like Frankenstein's monster and I don't even know if the pieces fit together. If I wind up posting this it will be a sheer miracle! I was about to post it when I realized that several of the photos which were previously in the right spot were suddenly off kilter, inexplicably, and I couldn't seem to get them into the right spots! I can't even begin to describe how frustrating it is. You click on a photo to drag and drop it and it simply DOESN'T LET YOU. It won't budge. Then it goes where you don't want it to. And you go through that with EVERY PHOTO. So something that should take a minute takes an hour and your fingers are sore. It's enough to drive you STARK STARING MAD! LOL And I don't know if it's because I'm using an antiquated template so the settings aren't right (I get an error message when I log in to my blog but I keep going anyway.) or if it's because it wants me to update to Google Chrome or some nonsense? I am NOT a fan of change or technology. I don't have apps. I don't play Pokémon Go. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the wrong century. I wish there weren't so many errors and glitches with my blog but I'm afraid if I change the template/layout settings then all my previous posts will be messed up (photos askew etc.) Sigh. Sometimes I wonder why I even put myself through this. It's not like I'm getting paid to do it. (Well there are some ads on the site but I only make a few pennies off of them.) I don't even know who is reading this (although when I check my stats and see that people around the world actually are reading it is the coolest thing ever! So thank you if you are!) But it's something I feel like I have to do, for myself. It's become a habit, a part of my life since pregnancy and I don't want to stop. Even when I get INCREDIBLY discouraged!

The Summer went by in the blink of an eye. Even October seemed to last like 5 minutes and I find myself in November still trying to finish a blog about August and September! I should try to do shorter posts. Just a little blurb with one or two photos just to say hey but when I look back at all the pictures I can never decide which to choose so I wind up using so many of them and creating such a long post that it becomes almost impossible to finish. But this is what I do. It's what I've done since March of 2012 when I found myself alone and pregnant. Now I find myself the mother of a 4 year old girl who is getting more grown up every day. And somehow I need this. Even if it isn't easy. Even if no one reads it. It's for me. Because this is my journey with my girl. This is our history and I want to record and share it. And if somewhere out there there's a single Mom who feels less alone because of my posts, then it's all worth it.
One day Michelle wanted to have a fashion show. "Of course!" I said. "As long as I can take pictures!" So Michelle posed with her bunny (and insisted that bunny dress up too.) I cherish these moments and every photo because I know it goes so fast. She's four. She won't be four forever but in the pictures she is. In the pictures she can stay my newborn baby, my 1 year old, my toddler, my little girl. Each moment in time frozen forever so I can look back and relive it. They say you shouldn't live in the past. I try to enjoy the present and to be in the moment, but there is always a part of me whispering that I have to catch it before it's gone. It goes too fast. Now is only now for an instant but the past, our history, our stories and pictures are there forever to hold on to and to relive. This blog means so much to me. It's a lot of work but it's a labour of love. This post about August and September was supposed to be done in October. It's already November. So at this rate I guess I'll be writing about Halloween at Christmas, writing about Christmas at Easter... I'm always lagging behind. I should write a post about procrastination. Maybe next month...