Posted by: mindyourknitting | October 12, 2009

Giving Thanks

This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend, and it was a busy one for us, but a good one.  On Saturday I got my hair cut and dyed, and I now have dark brown hair with BANGS for the first time in about a decade (when I last grew mine out I swore I would never get them again…but I have a big forehead so it was bound to happen eventually).  And that night Erik and I got to go to the movies, which was a rare treat.  On Sunday we went to the annual Butterfly Show put on by Carleton University’s Biology Department.  Basically they release a ton of butterflies in the greenhouses of the Biology Building, and you walk through and observe these creepy beautiful little creatures.  We had our wedding pictures taken in the greenhouses (yeah, a wedding dress and a greenhouse are not exactly the best combination…HOT), so it was neat to go back.  The greenhouses are amazing – beautiful and lush:

In Bloom

DSC_0276

 The variety of butterflies is amazing, although there are some as big as small bats, and watching black figures swoop through the air can be a bit unnerving.  But most of them are lovely.

Mariposa, or, for our German friends, Schmetterling

Mariposa, or, for our German friends, Schmetterling

One butterfly took up residence on Erik’s hat for a few minutes, although Abigail didn’t seem to notice (or care).  Our little butterfly was hot and overwhelmed by the crush of people, so our tour of the greenhouses was a bit brief.  But joke’s on her: Abigail is going to be a Monarch Butterfly for Halloween this year, heh.

You promised me turkey!

You promised me turkey!

We then spent a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house.  We usually have a big dinner with a lot of family around, but this year it was just the five of us.  As much as I usually love the hustle bustle of big family dinners, it was a lovely, stress-free evening and we all stuffed ourselves silly.  My parents live on a horse farm on the outskirts of Ottawa, and I got to walk around with my dad while he brought in some of the horses for the night.  Proximity to such large, beautiful animals is always breathtaking, and my dad seems at home there in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time.  I love that Abigail gets to spend days there every week, seeing the horses and the dogs and being outside a lot with her grandparents.  She has a new-found love of the tractor, so Grampa (“Ahm-Pa”) takes her for tractor rides.  There’s a dairy farm across the street, and the dairy farmer’s wife grows free-range grain-fed turkeys, so that’s what we had for Thanksgiving dinner.  My dad picked him out as a chick, and by yesterday afternoon Angus looked like this:

 

Big Bird

Big Bird

I’ve eaten a lot of turkey over the years, but this may have been the most delicious bird ever.  Meals like that one make me glad I’m not a vegetarian.  I provided the desserts – Kimberley’s pumpkin pie and Pam’s pumpkin cheesecake (thanks for the recipes, ladies!), and they were delicious, if I do say so myself.

Baked with love.  And sugar.

Baked with love. And sugar.

Although I slightly undercooked the cheesecake and forgot to put it in the fridge, so it was a bit too soft and the top of it looked like this:

Cheesecake Fail

Cheesecake Fail

 Whipped cream covers a multitude of baking sins.  Sitting with a bellyful of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, potatoes, bread, red wine, pie, cheesecake, and whipped cream (I’m feeling oogy just thinking about it – Erik had the mother of all stomachaches by the time we got home – and I mocked him and his turkey baby mercilessly), I began thinking of all I have to be thankful for this year.  The fact that I’m infinitely grateful for my husband and baby is a given (I’m especially thankful that my kid, the notorious early-riser,  slept until 7:45 this morning).  I’m thankful that we both have jobs in this economic climate, and that we have a comfortable house and can provide for our child.  I’m thankful that my grandmother is now cancer-free, and hope that her radiation in November goes well.  I’m thankful that my dad is going to get to stop laying brick for a living soon, since it’s taking such a toll on his body and spirit.  He’ll be doing equally hard work, but taking care of a farm is a different type of work, and one in which he seems to take real pride.  I’m grateful that my daughter is cared for by her grandmothers, and that she loves spending time with them so much that I never have to worry about her when I am at work.  And I’m grateful, and excited, to be the (fairy) godmother to my best friend’s second son.  I have so much to be grateful for, and wish I had more ways to give back to others.  As I wrote about here, I put together “parent care packages” to donate to the NICU where Abigail spent time after she was born.  I won’t re-explain where we got the idea or who it was also in honour of (the linked post will give you all that), except to say that I haven’t forgotten Maddie or the Spohrs, and I’m sending good wishes to them and their baby-to-be.  It took me months to put these together but by August they were done and ready to be delivered.  There were twenty of them:

Made with love.  And more love.

Made with love. And more love.

And they contained the following, plus a few other last-minute items.  I would have loved to pack these gift bags to the gills, but it just got too costly (note to self: solicit donations next year):

On a Monday in August, in the late afternoon, we loaded the bags into the car, twenty of them with their purple elephants on the front, care packages inside.   Abigail was strapped into her car seat, and we set out on what was once an all-too-familiar route to the General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital.   We pulled up to the hospital where we had spent so much time: days waiting Abigail’s arrival, weeks that Abigail spent in the NICU, and weeks more for doctor’s and lactation specialist visits (yeah, those were as fun as those sound – I’ll never forget being shamed over not having a nursing bra right away…and all I could think was, lady, when do I have the TIME to SHOP?).  We unloaded everything, taking a minute to snap some pictures of Abigail with her gift to the NICU. 

Thank You

Thank You

To have her here, safe and sound, over a year after her initial departure from this hospital, brought feelings of unparalleled gratitude, and a bit of shakiness.  We went through the main doors, up the elevator to the eighth floor, and down the hall past Labour and Delivery to the NICU. We had called ahead, so the patient coordinator came to meet us and receive our gift.  She made a fuss over Abigail and how big she is now, although strangely she remembered Erik but not me.  I guess they see a lot of weepy mums, and maybe fewer dads.  They were grateful for the gift bags, since so many donations go to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and  people forget the NICUs in Ottawa’s other hospitals.  I am thankful that we have this opportunity, and can set this example for Abigail.  We intend to make this donation an annual thing – we will start by doing it for Abigail and in her honour, but we hope that as she gets older and understands why we do it, that she will do it with us, for the babies and parents waiting to go home. We hope that our little gift lessens their worry about practical things, and lets them know that we’ve been where they are, and our thoughts are with them.

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Responses

  1. We all do have so much to be thankful for and a reminder of that is always appreciated. I agree with instilling that in our children. And now my youngest son has some new very special people in his life to be thankful for. Your gift to the NICU is an inspiration.

  2. We do have so much to be thankful for. Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts down, which really made me take the time to do that as well. My Thanksgiving was a busy blur one so was hard to find the time. No excuse though..need to find the time.

    I also think your gifts are a fabulous idea and would love to contribute next year either financially or helping you fill them.

    A

  3. Yes, we really don’t take enough time to reflect on the good things – especially when we have meals to cook, houses to clean, and toddlers to wrangle.
    I felt funny about asking people to help with something that was entirely my undertaking, but would gladly accept help with the parent care kits next year. My preference would be for anyone who is interested to donate items to be included in the bags – I can always post a list of items that could be included when I’m ready to start assembling them again, probably in the spring (and would welcome ideas on what else could be put in the kits).

  4. […] are ridiculously good at taking care of babies and coddling postpartum mums, and I really need to do something for the NICU again.  Could have done without one of these pictures for Spencer…under the […]


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