Hubby & I are back in Michigan for the weekend. It’s kinda nice to be back, although I do believe that the weather report exaggerated exactly how much snow that they supposedly got. I mean really … Chicago got a whopping 12.6 inches in 24hrs last week, so I was expecting at least 10-12 inches here as well. But nope; it looks like there was only about 4 inches outside of our house.

It’s funny though, because after experiencing the snow storm in Chicago last week, I realize how much I could actually survive in a city where there is a lot of walking involved. Especially that walk from work to the El station, and the El station to our apartment. Or when needing to take our puppy out for a walk.

Oh trust me, it was tiring walking in a foot of snow, but it’s so different from winter life here in Michigan where the longest walk would be from my car to the front door of my (previous) office building. Or the longest amount of time I’d have to be outside was to shovel the driveway and sidewalk.

Uncle J and the Birthday Girl

Anyway, the reason we are back in town this weekend was to celebrate our friends’ daughter’s 1st birthday. This particular couple has survived the the throes of infertility and have managed to get a totally awesome daughter in the process. A-girl is such a good-natured girl; always smiling and engaging everyone that comes in contact with her. Even in the midst of her birthday party when we could tell she was getting really sleepy, she still would smile and allow others to hold and carry her.

And as A-girl sat in our lap today, both Hubby & I couldn’t help but be amazed with her. We let her play with my iPhone and were quite surprised by how her little chubby fingers could flip through my photo album. Then we let her play Bejeweled 2 for the phone, and were shocked when we saw how successful she was … especially since her dad happens to be the one person‘s score I aim to beat every week on Facebook.

Also at this party was Cutie Girl; the same precocious little girl who always asks us about our dog and our cats. She is so sassy and smart  that I can’t help but be taken in by her incredibly large personality.

Cutie Girl & Me

So, as usual, she spent a whole 45 minutes or so with us, talking about our pets and what we could do to get her “Daddy” to agree to get one for her. I swear, this kid … if she continues to have that fearlessness and confidence about her … could very well be someone important and/or famous in the future. She’s just one of these kids that people just naturally gravitate to!

And yes, I also got to see my beautiful niece Kairi. She is growing so fast now! Except, well … since we didn’t get enough time to spend with just her, she wasn’t exactly in a “playful” mood with her Auntie & Uncle. And that kinda bummed me out.

Part of me thinks that the reason Kairi is like this around me is because she’s just not “used” to us … after all, she only sees us during major family gatherings. But then there’s the other part of me that thinks that the events that unfolded after her birth had a part to play with my relationship with her. It’s like … I don’t know … she unconsciously (or even consciously) knows that there was a major strain between her mom & me immediately following her birth.

Our Beautiful Niece, Kairi

I think there’s this incredible Catholic guilt feeling that feeds that train of thought. It’s the same thought I had during my SIL’s pregnancy with Liam and his consequent passing: that the circumstances surrounding Liam’s short life was a result of my feelings of jealousy over my SIL’s pregnancy. And similar to that, my lack of “connection” with Kairi is a result of the loss of connection with her mom following her birth. Realistically I know that none of it is true, but there are those days … like today …that these thoughts are stronger that usual.

I know I haven’t talked much lately about how my relationship with my SIL has been. It’s partly because I’ve learned from certain “foot in mouth” statements that certain things are best left off of Blog Land. But it’s mostly because things have been rather quiet and low key amongst the two of us. I’d like to think that we’ve reached a silent “truce” of sorts … that we’ve managed to move forward in fixing those severed ties.

I don’t think things will ever be a 100% better between SIL and me; but I do know that I’ve since learned a lot about myself since then. And one of them is knowing that I’m strong enough to move past the anger and hurt and resentment I felt for so long. Sure there will always be times where I might just shake my head at certain activities or actions, but I’m quite sure she probably has those same moments when thinking about me, as well. And I’m really, truly okay with that.

If anything, being in a room full of children under the age of 7 proves that I’m finally at that stage in my IF journey where I can start to let things go and accept things for what they are. And it, quite remarkably, feels good.

Hubby & The Birthday Celebrant