Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For Goods & Services Rendered

Another installment in my 20 Things series: #5 "Do things for people because you want to, not because you expect something in return. It'll save you a lot of heartache and resentment."

Cultural norms around these parts are not like those of other places (duh). One of these norms is marrying young. Both by choice of my own and from lack of a suitable suitor, I didn't get married the first time around until I was 24. Which is right on the heels of "old maid" status around here. Looking back I realize just how young 24 really is, but I digress. There were many lessons I learned through those extra years of dating. I'd say 90% of those lessons weren't exactly fun to experience, but 100% of what I learned was, and still is incredibly useful to me. I'm glad I learned early on and I'm grateful for the extra time I was given to grow and develop myself.  

Several years ago I read "The 5 Love Languages" and determined that my 'love language' is acts of service. I don't always do the best at telling people I love them or writing heartfelt cards. It's easier for me to show someone I love them by doing things for them.

During my dating years this was a blessing and curse. It was a blessing in the sense that it weeded out a lot of guys that didn't appreciate the things I did for them, and a curse in that it was heartbreaking when someone didn't reciprocate and/or appreciate me in return. I would plan a nice birthday dinner or clean a bachelor pad kitchen, detail a car or make cookies. Time after time these nice gestures were overlooked-- sometimes without so much as a 'thank you.' Here I'd done this thing to show how much I cared and wasn't shown the same appreciation and generosity in return.

Of course after this happened over and over again I began to feel resentful and used. I couldn't understand how these men weren't worshipping the ground I walked on and gushing about how awesome of a girlfriend I was. What more did they want from me?

As you can imagine the treatment I received eventually broke me of my generosity habit. It was like a switch went off in my brain and I resolved that I would never again do anything for anybody unless I truly wanted to and expected nothing in return. My life improved immediately.

After that decision was made I would check myself (and still do) to make sure that any gifts or services I wanted to give were purely for the happiness of the receiver. Any good deeds I do because I genuinely want to. Using this approach I have never once been disappointed because someone didn't do something nice for me. I've never been upset because someone forgot my birthday and I haven't felt resentful from lack of appreciation.

This change of attitude has completely revamped my relationships. It helped to remove people from my life that were not adding to my happiness. Not only that, the people I am now surrounded by show the same love, concern, and appreciation towards me as I do towards them. This balance is what we are all striving towards. Nobody can continue to give and give and give without receiving, otherwise at the end of it all, there's nothing left to give. It's healthy, heartfelt give-AND-take that brings us joy and I feel lucky to have learned this so early.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Letters to Sylvie: 9 Months

Dear Sylvie,

These last two months have gone by so fast. I keep thinking you're still this little tiny baby until I see you sitting on your daddy's lap and then I see how big you've gotten. You're all wiggles and squirms these days and I keep thinking you'll figure out how to crawl any minute.

You had your first big illness a few weeks ago and made us pretty worried. Dad called me at work and said he thought you had a fever but wasn't sure if he was using the thermometer right. When I got home later on I took your temperature and it was close to 104 degrees. I immediately called the doctor and we brought you right in. You didn't have any other symptoms besides the fever and a diminished appetite, so we kept you on some Tylenol for the next 24 hours hoping it would help. I think you hated taking your medicine more than being sick. That night your dad and I took turns staying up to hold and rock you in the nursery. I think it was a long night for all of us.

Not feeling too good but just as cute as usual!
 The next day you seemed to be cooling off and back to normal so we laid off on the drugs. Unfortunately your fever came right back. When we went back to the follow-up exam at the doctor they measured your temperature higher than the day before which was bad news. The doctor had to catheterize you for a urine sample to check for a UTI and then they sent us over to the hospital for a blood draw to check for a bacterial infection. You didn't like either procedure but you were pretty tough. It's hard to see my little buggie in pain. After all was said and done the tests came back negative for infection and you were back to your normal wiggly self in about a week. Promise not to ever get sick again, okay?

When they weighed you in at the doctor you were up to 17 lbs. 2 oz. Despite my protests, you continue to grow too quickly. One of your favorite things to do lately is to scratch things with your index finger to feel the different textures. You also have a thing for buttons. Mommy frequently has buttons on her shirt and you'll grab them and suck on them or just look at them.

This is just a clip of Sylvie's typical wiggling. You can see her do the index finger scratch on the trash can pedal.

This month we bought a hiking pack for you and you already love it. You ride along contentedly playing with a small toy while making squealing noises. Bonus if Mom has a ponytail you can pull. You are always so happy being outside, rain or shine and love to explore as much as your dad and I do.

Hiking at Antelope Island
One thing I've forgotten to mention in previous months is your dislike of getting in and out of your car seat or getting dressed. You've hated both these things from the day you were born, especially the car seat. Since you were 5 months old or so, I've sung the Hokey Pokey whenever you start to protest getting in or out of something. You immediately smile and laugh as I put your "right hand in" or take your "left foot out." Whatever works to keep you happy I say!

Over the last couple months we've been lucky enough to go hang out with your Aunt Annie in her hot tub a couple times. You love the water and are content to lay back and kick and splash with your toy for as long as mom will let you. You also like to watch your older cousins because you aren't around other kids that often. I'm sure this summer we'll find many other opportunities to take you swimming.

You also experienced your first Easter. You're not big enough for candy yet, but you were able to wear the new dress your Aunt Corinne sent you. You also got a cute bonnet & book from Grandma Denise. Dad had the great idea for us to all get dressed up and go out to brunch to show off our fancy clothes. You looked so cute in your puffy pink dress and even put up with a bow in your hair.

As the days go by I can tell that you're more and more of a Daddy's Girl. Don't get me wrong, you still like your mom, but Daddy is your favorite. You love to watch him and your eyes light up when he comes in the room. He's the only one you'll sit with on the couch to watch tv. But, I'm determined to get you to say "Mommy" first.

Everyday I look at you and marvel at how amazing you are. I'm so happy I have you and get to see you grow and progress. I love to hold you and feed you and change your poopy diapers as you try to get away. I love to make you laugh and see you study things around you. You've enriched our lives so much it's hard to believe. You're my favorite little Buggie and I'm so glad I get to be your mom.

I love you,

Love Mama

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Time to Improve My Skillz

While there are many benefits to being the daughter of an amazingly talented photographer, the most recent perk is getting a new camera! Well new to me anyway. Dad finally pulled the trigger on a new camera for himself so he gave me the Nikon D200 he's been using. Sweet!

Problem is I don't really know anything about these fancy contraptions. You'd think I'd have picked up some of Dad's knowledge through the years but somehow whenever he talks about F-stops and apertures, all that lingo goes in one ear and out the other. To be fair, I've never had anything to practice on to put all that info to use. But looks like now I'm going to have to buckle down and learn. Good news is, I think I've at least gained an eye for composition, so maybe I'm not starting from rock bottom. Just the sludge on top of the rocks.

Now I've just got to get used to bringing that thing with me on my outings. Anybody want to volunteer as  camera caddy?

If you haven't ever done so, check out my dad's stuff on Flickr. He rocks.