The light and the dark

Brody is 7 months old. The cliche sayings of how time flies are so true. He is a happy boy who loves to smile at himself in the mirror. Whenever he rolls over he has a look on his face that is a mixture of surprise and pride at what he has done. He loves playing with Hamish, the puppy. He holds out his hand while Hamish licks his fingers (and I wait until they are finished and immediately wipe his hands off).

He is a big boy, weighing in at about 9kg/20lbs. I know of two little girls who were the same weight at 1.5 years old! He loves his food. Some of his favorites include lamb cous cous, spinach mixed with blueberries, and mangos. 

I am currently holding my little boy as he sleeps. The past couple weeks have been a bit tougher for him and for us. What seems a long time ago now, he was a fairly good sleeper. He would easily go into his crib wide awake, we would read him a story and he would go to sleep. But now he rolls around his crib until he puts himself in a corner with his head against the bars and then starts crying. But it’s not just crying, it’s more of a yell-scream! The first time he did in this situation I thought he must have severed a limb! But no, his limbs are attached and I have to go and adjust him and then he continues to yell-scream until I eventually do the forbidden “feed him to sleep”. But at this point, after 2 weeks and going onto the third, I will do whatever it takes. I keep trying to see if he can go to bed on his own, even doing a few minutes of the terrible “cry it out” but like I said, it’s not just crying. It doesn’t work so we will try again another time.

As usual in any of these times with Brody when something is not going well, I do lots of research in books and through Google. I also ask advice from a group of my friends who have a whole bunch of experience between them. And just to check in, I emailed the pediatrician a few times to make sure nothing dire is happening to him. So from my research, I came up with a list of potential things that could be wrong:

1. Teething

2. A cold with stuffy nose and sore throat

3. Rolling over and other new skills make him excited and unable to settle down to sleep, also can’t sleep in these new weird positions

4. He now knows that he doesn’t like being too far away from me and he wants to be as close as possible all the time

5. He’s hungry and can’t get enough food

6. He needs his own room to sleep in (currently logistically not possible but we are moving soon)

7. He’s too cold or too hot (how on earth do you dress a baby for the correct temperature?)

And so, since having a baby is so much guesswork, any or all of these could be happening. We have tried numerous things to see if we can help him sleep better: consistent bedtime routine, laying down with him to sleep (which works but not exactly what we want long term), breastfeeding him to sleep (also works), more naps, fewer naps, more food offered (he will ultimately only eat what he wants), more layers of clothes, fewer layers of clothes, and more! But the only things that are working right now are cuddles and closeness with mom, so that’s what we will go with until we see a hint of something else. I definitely don’t mind having lots of cuddles.

It’s all about my mindset. If I have my mind set on doing a bunch of tasks or running some errands then when Brody needs more time with me, it’s hard for me to adjust. But when I can set all that aside and focus on him, than its easy. I just look at his relaxed, sleeping face and it is more than worth it to spend this time with him. 

Even if it means trying and failing to go out for dinner with my husband at a nice, fancy restaurant for the first time in forever. We ordered and got our drinks and had our first sip, when we got the call that Brody was awake and needing his mom. Or the next night when the same thing happened when I tried to go out with a couple girlfriends. Although it may sound like I go out often, these happened to be the only two nights I have attempted this basically since Brody was born! It felt frustrating and so restricted…”I couldn’t even get away for a couple of hours”. But to be even a few kilometers away from home when I knew Brody was so unhappy, was excruciating. I didn’t want him to be so sad when he needed me. Eventually he will ‘toughen up’ and won’t need his mom so much. But for now, it’s okay. I will be here. And some day I will get to go out again.

Brody is a light in our lives. He is truly special and amazing. There are some dark times when he is struggling with growing up but I am glad I can be here with him and do whatever I can to help him.

(He just woke up and gave me one of his beautiful smiles!)

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I Don’t Even Know

I don’t even know what happens to the days. One minute it is Monday morning and the next it is Friday afternoon. Weekends are even faster when we get to hang out with Daddy a bit more. But within the days, the moments are slow. Some moments are amazing when I get to watch Brody smile and laugh. Or we cuddle, or Brody learns a new skill. Other moments are tougher and longer when Brody is grumpy at the end of the day, and I am tired, and we are both just waiting for Daddy to come home to relieve us both!

I don’t even know how much I need my husband! He cooks, he cleans, walks the dog every morning before school. He runs errands, and gets groceries, and listens to me talk about how Brody’s naps are going and what he is eating. And most of all, he loves our little boy so much!

I don’t even know how I have managed to breastfeed for six months already. It has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling things I have done. I am a superwoman, and my body produces food for my baby boy. I sacrifice a lot: most dairy products, wine, and sleep. It is worth it, and I am proud I can do it.

I don’t even know how I have managed to survive the last six months on almost never sleeping more than 4 or 5 hours in a row. I miss sleeping so much. I love the rare time that I naturally wake up before Brody does, knowing I just may have slept enough. Or the occasional time Brody has slept a little longer than normal and I wake up feeling like I can conquer the world because I have had so much sleep.

I don’t even know how much I love our little boy! He is so incredible and amazing! His laugh sounds like he is snorting, gasping for breath, and clearing his throat all at the same time, but it is the cutest thing I have ever heard. The way he smiles when he wakes up from a nap and sees me coming to pick him is so big and so happy that I can hardly stand it! He is so intent and interested in everything around him. He is learning new things all the time and today he spent two minutes gently touching one of his toys, focusing intently on controlling his hands to touch, all the time he was ‘cooing’ and talking to it.

I am tired, and I am constantly working through new challenges, and I am always researching different things like “how much food to give a baby at six months” or “when can babies eat teething biscuits.” But I love this new crazy adventure, even when I feel like there are so many things that I don’t even know!

 

 

The hype is gone but the crisis remains?

It’s been awhile since my last post about the refugee situation or anything else. Despite the increased distance of the refugees from Budapest, it still here. It feels harder for me to be connected to it, but it is still happening. The hype may have gone down slightly both here in Budapest and around the world, but don’t let that make you think the crisis has stopped. It is still going on in full force in many countries. Hungary continues to try to stop refugees from coming in by building more fences.

Because the border is closed between Serbia and Hungary, the people must travel further around and so they do. Zakany is a Croatian town on the border between Hungary and Croatia. It is about 300 km from Szeged which is the Hungarian town on the border with Serbia which was the place where people were crossing until it was closed. This means that many people must travel an extra 300km to get around and then through Hungary.

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Last weekend, thousands of refugees continued to travel through Hungary. In the border town of Zakany, police were not allowing volunteers to pass out food or water to anybody until they were on the train.

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Migration Aid is an organization in Hungary that was started at the beginning of this crisis (more than three months ago) and has been working with many volunteers to help refugees with travel, food, clothing, shelter, and any other needs they may have. They have a facebook page and post their needs for donations and often get filled up within hours or days because of the outpouring of help from the Budapest community. They just posted this update:

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Trains are waiting at the Hungarian-Croatian border until they are filled up completely. 700 people have been waiting for 8 hours yesterday to fill the train up to a 1000 passengers and leave to Hegyeshalom.
At the time, it  was only volunteers from Migration Aid’s crisis centre to distribute food and water – worth of 1000 euro. Unfortunately we run out of stock by the end of the day.
Could you please helps us stock up our supply with basic foodstuff for the upcoming days?
Pastries (buns, butter croissant), classic cheese wedges, muesli bars, still water (0.5 liter), carrots,…Items which are relatively easy to access and still satisfies hundreds of people when available.
Your donations continue to be very important. We await them at the Migration Aid warehouse at Verseny utca 10, Budapest district 7 every day between 4-8pm.
Thank you very much for your continuous support!

If you would like help by giving to people or organizations who are in direct contact with refugees, see the Migration Aid page on facebook. Much of it is in Hungarian, but it is usually also translated into English. There is also a person in our community who has a Go Fund Me account: Refugee Crisis in Budapest. She buys items needed and ensures they get directly to people who need them. Please don’t forget. Please help.

“Go home, Go home…Refugees”

“Go home, Go home, Go home” was all I heard as I was sitting on the bus. I looked around and couldn’t imagine what I saw.

I had taken the subway to Keleti train station for the distribution of food. But missed my stop because the subway was forbidden to stop at the train station. I got off at the next stop at the soccer stadium where a football match was being played in a few hours between Hungary and Romania. I eventually found a bus that could take me back to Keleti train station. I got on the bus and sat next to an older woman who was wearing a head scarf. The woman in front of us was sitting with her little boy and they were chatting away in Hungarian. Then all of a sudden I heard English, which is rare on the bus, so I picked it up right away. The woman in front of me was teaching her little boy to say “go home” in English. After a few chants of that, she continued on with some choice words about Muslims. She wasn’t saying this under her breath but she wasn’t saying it all that loud either. I heard her and others must have as well.

Is this what some people are thinking about the refugees in Hungary?

It is a very difficult situation for all involved. The arrival of thousands of refugees into Hungary does not make it easy for the government or authorities here. I do not claim to know much about politics, I know very little. Here are some things I know: Recently Hungary attempted to keep refugees out of the country by building a fence along the border with Serbia. Clearly this has done little to stop refugees from finding ways into Hungary. Hungary has not committed for all refugees to stay in Hungary, far from it. This is only one of the first stopping points in the EU. Then the refugees register before they must try to  move onto the other countries, such as Germany who are willing to take in and help them. However, the main train station was closed off to refugees earlier this week so they were not able to access any trains to other EU countries.

There are two sides to every situation. Fortunately, I have seen more of the other side. The side where average people are working together to help. Volunteers living in Hungary are working to provide basic essential items: Refugee Support in Budapest. People from around the world are donating money. Hungarians and others are forming organizations and taking donations to give to those who need it. A large group of refugees is arriving in Austria after walking along motorways in a desperate act to go.  People are helping them along the way with food, water, and garbage clean-up.

There will be many more people travelling to Hungary and Budapest to seek refuge in the next few weeks. I am sure many refugees would go home or stay home, if they could. But they can’t, so they need our help. And we are here to help, to offer what we can and make their journey easier. I sincerely hope that everyone I meet in Budapest can share this view with me.

 

My Perfect Marriage

Our perfect wedding day!

This blog is about my perfect marriage. My perfect husband and I have been married for 6 months. We love each other so much and we never fight. We support each completely and we are going to live happily ever after.

Ok, so now I will tell the truth. I love my husband and I know he loves me. We do not always get along perfectly and we do not have a perfect marriage. Instead this post will be about letting go of my ideal of the “perfect” marriage.

If you have seen a couple recent posts I have written, you may have noticed my attempt at being disciplined in my life. Although this is not easy, it seems to be something I strive for in most parts of my life. I like to attempt to have control. This includes my relationship with my husband. I think I believe that things will only be good if we do everything we are supposed to do for a perfect marriage. What is the this list of things we are supposed to do? 1. Communicate about all important and unimportant things in our lives 2. Read the Bible and pray everyday and go to church every Sunday 3. Have dinner together everyday at the table 4. Never get upset with each other 5. Have a date night every week 6. Have a hobby that we can do together 7. Always take turns caring for the the dog 8. If we have children, we must never disagree about how to raise them 9. We must never disagree in front of the children and 10. Never forget our anniversary or any other special dates in our relationship. And so if we follow this list of 10 things then we will always have the perfect marriage.

I have now learned that is not the case. We cannot perfectly follow a list of 10 rules and we will not now and not ever have the perfect marriage. We will serve each other and we will be selfish. We will communicate and we will not talk to each other. We will agree and we will disagree. We will have ideals and we will fail to meet our ideals. Ultimately, we love each other and our love will grow in the many years we have together. Our love is not perfect and it will not ever be perfect.

But there is hope. We will struggle through our failures in our marriage. I know I need to let go of my ideals and my expectations of a perfect marriage. (I was reassured in this by this blog post.) We need to do what works for us. I need to let go of expecting my husband of being and doing something he is not. I need to let of expecting myself of being and doing something I am not. This is so hard when everyone else seems to be able to keep up and do everything and seemingly have perfect marriages and relationships. I also need to let go of comparing myself to everyone else!

Love looks different now then it did in the beginning of our relationship. I learned about how love looks in this blog post. In the beginning, we spent all our spare time together. We connected and we learned about each other. We watched movies and went out for dinner. Now we spend time discussing finances and cleaning up dog poo together. How our relationship has grown! Love looks different and that’s okay.

And finally, we must respect and reverence each other. This is not always easy. This is almost never easy. There are verses in the Bible that refer to the need for the wife to respect and reverence her husband (see this post). Although society might not agree, I need to respect my husband completely.  Even though I have to fight all the urges that I have to demand respect for myself only, I need to respect my husband always. Even as I write this, I am not exactly sure what that looks like. How can I respect my husband more? This is what I will spend some time working on.

I just finished reading comedian, writer, and actor Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? In it, she talked about her parents and their relationship. There was something about the way she described her parents as “pals”.  “My parents get along because they are pals. They’re not big on analyzing their relationship. What do I mean by pals? It means they mostly want to talk about the same stuff all the time. In my parents’ case, it’s essentially rose bushes, mulch, and placement of shrubs. They love gardening.” I like this. I like it because I like to over-analyze my whole life, which includes my marriage. She goes on to discuss the struggles between spouses and the work of marriage, “I don’t want to hear about the endless struggles to keep sex exciting, or the work it takes to plan a date night….I want to see you guys high-five each other like teammates on a recreational softball team you both do for fun….Maybe the point is that any marriage is work, but you may as well pick work that you like.” I like this too. Maybe it is simplistic and there is probably more to it but it’s true.

2014

January

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2014 started off with a party in Scotland. My holidays were spent in both Canada and Scotland. In Canada I got to meet my new niece, Lilia, for the first time and in Scotland I was able to experience a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.

February

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Not long after returning to Shanghai from our holidays, we travelled again. This time we went to London for a job fair. Niall secured a position at a school in Budapest, Hungary where we would continue our amazing international adventure.

March

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At the end of March, we travelled again. (I am not sure how we had time to work with all of our travels!) This time we went to Canada to work on wedding preparations as well as looking for property to buy. We also went to the city hall to do the paperwork for our marriage.

April

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In April, I completed the two Masters courses that I was working on since January. They were challenging courses to do and it was a very busy time with all the other things we had going on, but I was glad to have the opportunity.

May

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After doing extensive searching, we finally found property to buy in Hamilton, Ontario. It is a small condo in the downtown. We will continue to live overseas and rent it.

June

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June was a big month as we left Shanghai for the last time. We may be back someday but we were excited to be moving on to a new adventure.

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We also travelled to the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi, Africa. This trip was an incredible experience with both our students from Shanghai and students from Malawi.

July
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On July 25, 2014 we had our wedding ceremony. It was the most beautiful day ever!

August

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After an amazing honeymoon in Jamaica and going to a dear friend’s wedding, we picked up our stuff and moved to Budapest.

September

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We settled in and got a puppy. Hamish is a challenging and rewarding addition to our family.

October

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October brought me a job at the school for a short time as well as a visit from a good friend.

November

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In our life in Budapest, we have made wonderful new friends and caught up with old friends.

December

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December brought the end of my job for now. We also had an amazing trip to the top of a mountain in France and a great Christmas and New Year’s holiday in Scotland.

2014 was a momentous year. It was huge, gigantic, massive! I am still not sure how I managed to survive. Luckily, most, if not all, the things that were going on were positive and happy. But even though events are positive and happy, the journey to get to them can be challenging and stressful. 2014 was not easy but it was amazing. I am so glad for the incredible opportunities that I have. I am grateful and thankful and in awe as I look back.