Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sophia's Boston Tea Party

Sophia and Dad watching the break dancers....

Colin had a long layover in Boston and Sophia and I decided to join him in Bean Town. A fun time was had by all and we returned home, all tuckered out. Colin flew the plane we took back to Chicago and Sophia thought that seeing Daddy at work was pretty cool but nearly as fun as having her all to herself.

The journey consisted of four flights all together and she was well behaved on three of them. On our way from Chicago to Boston we lucked out and got first class. WE lucked out but the same can't necessarily said be said for the other passengers. I am not sure if she was still bothered by her ears or she was simply just exhausted from having been woken up at 4:30 in the morning, but approximately 15 minutes into the flight, she began emitting a blood curdling scream. Naturally the seat belt sign was still on and we all endured 10 minutes of her unabated wails. I felt so bad for her (and everyone else) that, I too, was reduced to tears. The second the seat belt sign came off, I bolted out of my seat and headed to the lav with her. In approximately 3 minutes, she was out like a light and when she awoke nearly 2 hours later, my fellow passengers seemed to have forgiven us. She proceeded to charm them all-except the guy sitting next to us.

She has an innate talent for wrapping everyone around her finger. Throughout this brief trip, she had people smiling and cooing over her. Her biggest fan club turned up in the bathroom at the Chicago domicile. She had 6 flight attendants fawning all over her.

While there is no question she is exceptionally cute and charming when she chooses to be, Colin and I are still a little taken back by how much attention she gets when she is in public. She has this unnerving way of furrowing her brow and intensely staring at new people for a really long time. If they choose to interact with her, she will suddenly reward them with one of her million watt smiles. That seems to do the trick and from that point on, she is irresistible. I had one female passenger say to me "usually I'm afraid of kids but she is just so cute!" Hmmmm....maybe that is why the universe decided we were a perfect match.

She suddenly seems to be growing up soooooooooo fast. During the trip, she started to point and say 'Da Da'every time she saw Colin. She repeated this phrase and tone every time I opened my cell phone which has a picture of Colin on the screen saver. Tonight, she decided that she wanted to learn how to get on and off her Push and Scoot without Mom's help. She started to systematically practicing getting on and off her toy. Just to make sure she covered all her bases, she practiced from both sides and even tried facing backwards. She did this no less than 20 times. Then while I was giving her a bath, she decided she wanted to take all her bath toys out of her blow up tub and line them up on the edge of the real tub. She placed them in an elaborate order and then solemnly handed me each toy when I asked for it.

Verbally, she is exploring new sounds but does not seem to be interested in saying words just yet (besides Da Da that is). All in all, I am amazed by how much she is changing on a daily basis. It is so difficult to describe how gradually our relationship with her grows. I am grateful that she seems to be bonding with us a little more each day. This is not to say we don't have our challenges. When she is tired or angry, she takes delight in pinching or biting me. I can't quite believe how much damage such a tiny little girl can inflict. All I can say is, OUCH! Of course, all she has to do is smile at me and all is forgiven.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Close ups please

I talked with my friend Kimberley last night and she scolded me once again for failing to post close-ups of our little one. Once again, she is right and here they are.........

Pianist in the making?

Sophia was so forlorn the day she had her surgery that I decided to try and cheer her up. The next day, I took her to Target and let her choose a toy. OK, I was actually picking out the ones up that I wanted to her to have, but she would rate them as evidenced by how much her eyes lit up when she played with them. Her eyes lit like a pin ball machine when she got to play with this 'Baby Grand Piano'.

Sophia seems to love music. Every time she hears music she likes, she starts to sway to the music and even tries to dance, which more closely resembles a flailing fish. She loves it when my parents play piano for her and will happily plunk away at the keys. This piano is a little more her height and the keys light up when pressed.

Sophia's is practicing her driving skills with this little car we had picked up at a yard sale.

Of course at the end of the day, sometimes the box a toy came in is the best toy of all.....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sophia meets more family

This past week, Sophia got to meet more of Colin's side of the family, and boy, did she have fun! Unfortunately, somehow we failed to get a photo of her with her Aunt Kathy. I guess we will just have to visit soon to make up for it.

Sophia and her Uncle Barry

With cousin Brett

With cousin Rachel, chillin' at the beach

With cousin Kaleigh cooling off from being beach bums

Today Sophia underwent some 'minor' surgery to have tubes placed in her ears. She has been suffering from chronic ear infections and fluid pooling in her middle ear. The Ear, Nose and Throat doctor we took her to felt that this was the best way to help her ear problems and hopefully minimize her intake of antibiotics.

She came through like a trooper. It was absolutely heart wrenching seeing her expression when they took her out of arms to do the surgery. She apparently was not overjoyed by who she saw when she woke up and let her displeasure be known to the entire outpatient wing. We were quickly summoned and she dissolved into our arms and finally calmed down. The ride home consisted mostly of convulsive crying spells. She wanted nothing more than food (which we had to ration after having been under a general) and to be held, which just wasn't safe. We got a lot more smiles this afternoon and she seems to be babbling more with a greater variety of sounds. Perhaps things no longer sound like she has a bucket over head. Her naps have been long and parallel the simile, "sleeps like a log," she has hardly moved since Colin coaxed her to sleep two hours ago.

Now we have to be the meanies again and wake her up for dinner, Tylenol and ear drops. Maybe she will forgive us in 20 years, then again, maybe she won't.

Friday, August 18, 2006

She's walking, yes indeed!

It's true, our little rooster is walking (more than 2-3 steps at a time anyway). She started on Monday, when she suddenly took 10 steps from one side to the living room to the other. Sophia looked so proud of herself and then promptly fell down.

Since then, she has been trying out her new skills everywhere, including the crib (when she is supposed to be napping of course). She seems to be equally dividing her time between walking and falling. She takes some pretty spectacular falls that nearly stop my heart. Most of the time, she simply pops right up and keeps going. Other times, her face suddenly scrunches up, with a noticeable silent pause, and then the most blood curdling cry comes out.

Today, she seems to have finally mastered her sippy cup and Colin somehow managed to teach her how to drink from a straw.

The best moment came when Colin came around the corner and she said "Da dee" or something really close to it. It is true that 'da da' has been her most commonly repeated phrase since we came home from China, but I really think she said her version of 'Daddy.'

Blogger is being difficult about posting photos but I will do my best.

Taking well deserved break...

Trying to imitate Daddy's ab exercises on the exercise ball.........

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Making my way across the monkey bars

For years, I have thought that crossing a set of monkey bars was a lot like going through life. It is an absurdly simple analogy, but it works for me. It goes something like this: when I was a kid and I had my recess time, I would make my daily attempts to cross from one side of the monkey bars to the other. I quickly realized that in order to make it across the monkey bars, I had to keep moving. I had to release my sweaty palm from the bar behind me and reach for the bar in front of me. If I stalled out and hung between two monkey bars, it inevitably led to me falling off them. There were lots of reasons I would stall out; fatigue, lack of determination, inattention, or just plain old fear that if I let go of one monkey bar, I wouldn't have the strength to get to the next one. I learned to keep moving forward at all times to ensure I would make it to the other side, and most of the time, I did.

For me, getting across the monkey bars is a lot like life. In order to avoid falling off my path, there are moments I need to let go of one bar, and reach for another.....I have just reached one of those moments....and it is REALLY SCARY!

I have been gainfully employed since I turned 18 years old. I don't think I have ever gone more than a couple of weeks without a paycheck. All of that is about to change.

My department recently arrived at a critical staffing shortage. The Tuesday through Friday, 8 to 6, DARE officer schedule that I was supposed to have when I returned to work in two weeks, just went out the window. My department informed me that they now needed me to work 12 hour shifts, including every Sunday. Anyone who has had their child in daycare, knows how difficult it is to find daycare with normal hours. Daycare with unusual hours, such as the schedule I was just given, is nearly impossible. After spending literally hours on the computer and phone, I only found one facility that even came close and they are closed on Sundays. Even more problematic, they have a 6 to 9 month wait list.

We can't quite afford a nanny, nor do we really want one. Sophia seems to really like us and has grow accustomed to our presence, but three months is not sufficient time for her to have a third party come in and be her new primary caregiver. We fear that she would be totally confused and are certain it would significantly slow down the critical bonding process that is unfolding on a daily basis.

My request to take unpaid leave in order to give us time to ride out the wait list at the alternative daycare was denied. That left us we few alternatives. Short of strapping a ballistic vest on Sophia, adding a baby seat to the back of my patrol car, and dragging her along on my calls, there weren't really any alternatives. No doubt about it, I was faced with one of those monkey bar moments.

The solution, of course, was for me to resign. I have done just that.

Regrets? I have a is strange for me to no longer think of myself as a cop. When I became a police officer, it changed who I was, and not always for the better. Colin has said on more than one occasion, "Quit talking to me like I'm a suspect!" Shamefully, I have to admit he is right. When nearly every person I encountered while I was working lied, it is easy to forget that my friends and family don't fall in that category.

I learned that Police officers have their own culture and even have their own language. It is going to take a long time to get out of the habit of constantly scanning my surroundings. I think it is likely I will always notice that there is a dirtbag in the car next to me, that the little old lady behind of me is not wearing her seat belt or that a car in front of me has a tailight out, thus giving me probable cause to pull the driver over......if I still had a badge that is. For over four years, my identity has been inextricably tied to my job. I guess I had better get a new identity, and fast!

Having said all that, the fact remains that I now have a one year old daughter, most of my family lives in Michigan, most of Colin's family lives in upstate New York, and Colin is based in Chicago. Being able to afford a house in California was always out of the question. In Michigan, it is an easy proposition, and a relatively cheap one. We will settle down in Michigan for the time being and try to grow some roots for a change.

Whatever regrets I may have, the truth is that it must have been time for me to let go of the monkey bar behind me. There is the old saying that when one door closes, another opens. I think that most of the time, that's true. What seems like a crisis one moment can turn into a blessing in disguise. I have been told that in Chinese, the two characters that form the word 'crisis' are 'danger' and 'opportunity.' I kind of like that notion. There is a danger in leaving my job but there is also the opportunity to put my family first, to be with my daughter and see more of my husband and my family. I hope that in the future, there is an opportunity for a new career, maybe not right now, but perhaps a few years down the road.

What I do not regret is putting my family first. The choice was really pretty easy. My palms are sweaty and I'll admit that I am feeling a little shaky, but I am ready to let go of the bar I have been on for the past four years and reach for the next one. Like the little kid I once was, I am determined to keep moving across those monkey bars and make it to the other side.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Taste of Michigan

We recently attended the "Taste of Michigan". This is not to be confused with the "Taste of Chicago", at least if the vendors were any indication. For example, the chain restaurant, Perkins Family Restaurant, had one of the 20 or so booths at the event. While it may not have been a gourmet selection, we were able to indulge in some wonderful Hudsonville ice cream. Sophia heartily approved. So much for our resolution to keep her away from unrefined sugar.

Sophia all dressed up and ready to sample the culinary offerings.....

This little girl has the widest range of facial expressions. So many of them just make us laugh.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

First New York visit

After we visited Colin's grandmother in Canada, we made our way to upstate New York to visit Coin's Mom. Sophia loved her dips in the local pool and it was a great way to beat the heat.

3 Generations

We recently went to Canada to visit with Colin's grandmother. These days, it seems pretty rare to see three generations all together at one time, it was lovely to see.