Read Me Forever

During the past couple of months my mom has been doing some major house cleaning.  She's been emptying shelves and clearing out closets full of my dad's stuff.  He was a secret hoarder.
Today Dave and I did a little house cleaning too, preparing a spare bedroom for office space.  A stack of my dad's forgotten books caught my attention mid-clean.
His copy of of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter of Mars" (now a major motion picture) and a worn out copy of J.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" caught my attention.
My parents have instilled in me a love of literature. I remember my mom and and my dad reading to me at night or during the day.
At night my dad used to tell stories, some were true but most of them were fiction--stories he read and condensed for my child ears. It was a big shocker when I was in high school and learned that the story he told me about a boy playing a video game that destroyed an alien race and saved the world was actually "Ender's Game". My favorite stories were about the Little People, Tarzan or Toy Stories.
Since I could read, I considered books to be fond treasures but my dad's books are especially priceless. When I pick up those old books from my childhood, I feel as though I have a physical manifestations of my childhood.  As Cameron gets older, I'll read them again so she can have moments like that to carry with her forever. It's as though some books live on forever.


Parenting Battles: Conflict No. 1

When I say that my daughter was a surprise; it's and understatement. As the biggest surprise of my life, Dave and I took a lot of time to decide our futures from that point on.  We decided to embrace this surprising change. We both wanted to be parents one day and we really did belong together.
It's been two years since we learned about Cameron and I've been thinking a lot about parenthood and the lies that I told myself and wishes that I had for our family moments. I want to share those lessons learned. Not because I'm bitter or because I want to vent emotional stress. I'm sharing this because parenthood isn't the same for everyone and each child will be different.
1. First Six Weeks could have killed me. I'm not even joking at that.  It was so challenging to get Cameron into a routine. She didn't sleep unless she was cuddled tight. It took a lot of trial and error to establish a sleeping routine. Dave could only take two weeks off from work to help out. On the third week, it was just me and Cameron and it was awful. She screamed more than 80% of the time when she was awake. Her diaper was clean, she was freshly fed and all I could do was hold her close and pray for the screaming to stop. It only stopped when she was exhausted. Oh and let's not forget that super awesome blood clot I had in the second trimester. The day after I took Cameron home, I had to get a blood test at the hospital.  Blood tests are whatever, but lets just say I was a mess and it hurt so bad to get up. It was retarded.
2. Cameron's personality is always a big challenge. There was the constant crying and screaming that has changed me as a parent and as a person. As she got older, she became more mobile and a lot happier. Independence brings her a lot of joy.  She has also been behind from the beginning. She didn't start crawling until a few weeks before her first birthday and she still doesn't walk. It's getting very difficult to carry her places (she's a big, tall baby). It doesn't matter how many exercises and development games we engage with her, she refuses to engage. It's a matter of personality. She's stubborn and independent.
3. Relationships matter. This is a constant struggle. Dave and I rushed into marriage to build our family and establish stability for Cameron before she came. This left us very little time for each other--beforehand focusing on a home and our wedding--and after CAMERON. Our lives literally revolve around her. We work our schedules to accommodate her; which is right. Then our babysitters are used up and when we actually have a day off together, I feel guilty for asking for more help. It's impossible to have "alone" time with a small budget and relying on family/friends already so much.This battle always seems to be going on in the background. Always fighting for time together. I miss the days before; when it was the two of us whenever we wanted and whenever we could.
4. The financial battle is always bigger than you anticipate. I'm still paying for the blood-clot, which happened as a result of genetics and pregnancy. Then there's car-seats, cribs, bedding, etc. When Cameron was really young, her pediatrician wondered about a milk allergy. We had to buy some seriously expensive formula because I didn't produce enough milk for her. Pretty soon it was just that formula. At $30 a can and about 3 cans a week; that can seriously add up. Then there's diapers, bottles, clothing and there goes the savings and hello, credit card. It's less expensive now, yay for teeth and "real food".
5. Babysitting Battle. I already wrote about the struggle to find babysitters. When my older siblings had children, my mom didn't work and was a great babysitter for them. She enjoyed watching my nieces and nephews and it worked great. My sister-in-law watched Cameron for a while, bless her heart for joining in the fight to keep Cameron happy. Soon she gained paying babysitting jobs and we couldn't afford to pay our babysitters.  My friend from a long time ago stepped up and has been watching her until 5:30 and then our family members watch her until Dave gets off work. (We both work not so awesome shifts).
6.  Working Mom.  This is the hardest faze of Parenting Battles. Lately it's been particularly hard. Cameron is a difficult child in a toddlers body but what I feel like is a 9 month old brain. It's hard to juggle Cameron, fitness and cleaning as best as I can before we head out on the road to work full time at a job with such crappy hours and management that really makes it hard to find joy in my job. It makes for a very long, difficult day. Right now it's not rewarding or fulfilling in any sense of those words.
It was right to keep Cameron. Dave, Cameron and I are a happy family when we are together. Those rare occurrences are what I live for. Life is a lot more challenging with Cameron. There are different parenting battles everyday. I have no doubt that she grows and learns a little everyday. I'm proud of who she is becoming. Today is a challenge


Real Valentine's Day

Pictures of flower batches and loving couples are all over Facebook today. I can't help but laugh.
This year Valentine's Day is changed forever for my family.
Tonight we're not going to elbow our way through crowds or wait for two hours at a restaurant for an over priced meal. We're not going to find a babysitter for our demanding but loveable 16 month old girl.
This year Valentine's Day is more than an overpriced holiday glorifying merchandise. You don't need to buy anything to proclaim your love.
I love Dave a lot and I know he loves me a lot. We think about each other all the time. This day shouldn't be for us. I wanted to focus on other people I love, not just my spouse.Tonight Dave, Cameron and I are having dinner and desert with my mom. It's her first year without my dad and it's sure to be a doozy.
Whether you are in a couple or married, I think this day should be about other people. I wish the world stepped out of traditional commercialism and took a look around instead. Everywhere you look there are people who need to feel loved.  They don't need expensive gestures or lengthy dates. There are people are lonely or in serious need of comfort.
Next year we start the real tradition of sharing love where it's needed. That's a true Valentine's Day well spent.


Is My Child Autistic?

Is this the face of an autistic child? I hope not.
This blog post is severely premature, but I feel the need to post something about this issue.
Austism is all over the news right now. Some groups are really pushing for new Utah laws about insurance funding for autistic treatments. It's been on the news for three days in a row. Their methods of getting the attention of Utah government leaders are unique. Today's story included a ball pit in the shape of Utah. 
Autism scares the crap out of me. In elementary school, there was a girl in my class with autism. She was a really sweet girl, but it was very hard to communicate with Kim. I wasn't a bully and tried to talk and play with her sometimes, but she was developmentally very different from my classmates and me.
Developmental delays are pretty common among infants and when I started noticing some delays in my daughter Cameron, I tried not to think of the "a" word.
It was hard not to be a little nervous. Our pediatrician would ask the developmental questions and sometimes suggest "early intervention testing" and I would freak out for the next 48 hours; looking up all the information I could about autism. Not every sign applied to Cameron, but some of the signs are becoming more prevalent.
At sixteen months old, Cameron does not say any words and mostly babbles. She only crawls and stands up with the couch. She doesn't really interact with the objects of the world with a purpose (i.e. stacking things or putting things into boxes or whatever). The list of signs she applies to seem to get longer every appointment.
This last appointment, doctor recommended an evaluation. The appointment is on February 12 and a doctor's appointment on the 13th. I'm freaking out. 
I'm so nervous about my ability to care for her appropriately. It will make mother duties a lot more challenging and require a lot more patience and understanding than other children. 
Despite my fears, there's no question about my love for Cameron. She's my daughter and contains a big piece of my heart. Autism will not change my love for her.