From the day of Piper's birth, we decided to capitalize on life as a family. Drew taught us so much about living in the moment and making the most of every opportunity. Looking back over his life, once in a while I wished we had been more intentional and that we had created more occasions to make memories. It's amazing how you can go through a day, moving from one task to another and get to the end of that day and ask yourself, "What did I do today?" I found the same applied to life with my children. I could go through a week, moving from one activity to another, doing all the things a mother must do to run a household and even think I was stopping to spend time playing with the kids; however, when I looked back over the week, I couldn't think of anything remarkable about that week. What would I remember from that week one month from now? I wanted this aspect of life to be different after Piper's birth. I wanted markers for our time with Piper (and Peyton!), events that I could remember from year to year, healthy or not. I wanted to take an abundance of pictures to help me remember the details of moments but I wanted to create opportunities that allowed for the creation of a memory that I would be able to recall with vivid colour and emotion. This would require time and intentionality but I didn't want to look back and wonder where time had gone. I am so thankful we did this, even though I find I want even more now! The pictures below are reflective of just a few of the moments I will treasure with Piper from the last year - I feel like I need to capture them here as just another step to try to crystallize them in my memory.
I should apologize to my boys, that I felt hindered enough by the expectations I had of what motherhood meant that I didn't allow them some of the experiences Piper had. We tried to think outside of the box this time and allowed Piper chances live beyond the borders.
Experiences among the ordinary:
Daddy has loved Piper outside the box too and reminded me regularly that even if she was low in tone due to her condition, she was still physically capable enough to love physical play and "wrestling" with Daddy. I loved watching them roll around together, usually tangled up with Peyton too.
I wanted her to be able to really experience life and tried to bring things into her grasp that she might not otherwise be able to experience. Her fascination with life gave me a new perspective on it and I felt the vibrancy of life through her!
Some of my favourite memories where those moments where we stopped long enough to make music together. She loves to make music with any instrument and the sounds of her melodies will ring in my heart forever!
We made sure to capture time with extended family as much as possible and I am grateful to my extended family on both sides for participating with us in celebrating Piper and making memories. Here's my sister Nicole with Piper in Montana - Piper was trying on Nicole's long, dark hair to see how she looked!
I remember wishing I had stopped more often to nap with Drew and decided the housework could wait this time around. Irreplaceable moments! Daddy caught us here.
If Piper heard the mixer go on, she insisted on being part of the project, whatever it was. She usually had to have a measuring spoon or measuring cup in her hand and loved to smell everything that was going in, especially the spices and vanilla. It was so neat the first time I realized she was actually trying to smell one of the spices I put near her nose. Then she began to expect it! Here we were making chocolate chip cookies and I was having a hard time getting enough food into her this particular day so I let her have a chocolate chip to see what she would do with it and she liked it. (Another food I am sure I didn't give Peyton until he was a few years old!)
She found Peyton's juice box and chocolate chips and helped herself.
I often wore her in the Bjorn with me while I was cooking, but it got a little interesting when her arms got long enough to start reaching everything I was working on! There were a few messes along the way!
We tried to live outside the box with Piper's food experiences too. She preferred salty foods from the beginning and would not (WOULD NOT!) have anything to do with baby food at all so we had to get creative. She wanted her hands on everything we gave her and often juiced it if there was juice to be squished out of anything. Here, she was juicing a peach and loving it. I'm not sure she ever differentiated between food and play!
Here we let her have a drumstick. Meat was her favourite and she loved to gnaw on anything safe enough to give her.
I think I would like to tell my first time mom self that it would be ok to let my kids experience far more foods than just baby cereal and purees... She was constantly reaching for apples and I finally gave her one. She LOVED it! This was hilarious!
Experiences specifically for the memories:
When we went to Montana in the fall we took her to a farm near Mom and Dad's house. We wanted to take Peyton through the corn maze there but we really wanted Piper to be able to see the animals. She was mesmerized! With both the corn stalks and the animals!
We took Piper Christmas tree hunting with us in Montana. She loved being outside and it was such a beautiful day that I was able to let her touch and smell everything in our path. She smelled pine sap, touched pine trees, played with snow until her hand was too cold to stand it, carried around a small branch, occasionally whacking me in the face with it, and tried to eat weeds (let her get a handful and she wanted to sample the flavour! Quick intervention required!)
I don't think I had Peyton on a sled until he was at least two! She loved this too!
Swimming was something I wish we had done more of!
I didn't think Peyton would know what to do with markers so that was another thing that I waited on until he was older - little did I know. She knew exactly what to do with them! I now have some of the neatest drawings! I had to take a few more precautions to protect her clothes or just plan to dump her in the tub when she was done, but there was no clothing item or mess that more important than the experience these art dates created!
Even after we got to the Rotary Flames Hospice we wanted to give Piper as many chances to experience life as possible. Music, art, sensory experiences, etc. With Drew I felt so emotionally tethered, limited by the IV poles, the seizures, the uncertainty - it paralyzed me and I only realized in the last week or two that these experiences would still provide value to his life. We have been able to provide these for Piper as long as possible.
(You might think she is asleep here, but she was touching her toes to the guitar, on - off - on - off, even with her eyes closed.)
Some humorous experiences:
We let Piper drive without a license... ok, the car was turned off, but she really liked the idea!
We dance and laugh like crazy every chance we get!
Capturing these moments will enrich our lives forever! It has been fun to view life from the perspective of where the next memorable moment will come from rather than letting life happen to us and getting lost in it!