What Size are You?

I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a long time. I’m SO tired of all the body image issues women have these days–myself included. And recently there have been a string of comments directed toward me that have caught me off-guard. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that, but I’m doing so up-front just to make it clear that I, too, fall victim to the string of frustration I’m about to lay out.

I have always been thin. Very thin. Skinny even. As a child I was knobby-kneed and gangly and no one let me forget it. Be it family or friends or strangers, someone was always reminding me that I looked “anorexic” or “too skinny”. I got a complex. I would consciously order the biggest, greasiest item off the menu to prove that I wasn’t skinny on purpose. I could often out-eat grown men. And I was proud of that. But at some point I realized that people might think I was bulimic the way I stuffed my face and never seemed to gain any weight. So I did my best not to go into a public restroom by myself–especially not at a restaurant–lest anyone think I was purging. I was embarrassed to eat a salad as a meal because I didn’t want people thinking I was on a diet. In other words, I was always worrying about what other people thought of me. And so my struggle was the same as an overweight person’s, only mine was diminished by others and therefore hidden deep within me.

Whenever I’ve tried to explain myself, people would roll their eyes, make sarcastic comments or do their best to explain why I shouldn’t be complaining. But in a culture where it is politically incorrect to call someone “fat” to their face, it’s perfectly acceptable to call someone “skinny”.

Even after I filled out a bit in high school and was at least shapely, I still got comments from friends and acquaintances about how “skinny” I was and that I needed some “meat on those bones”. And at the same time, people would comment about how they would “give anything” to be my size. Too bad all the years of being called anorexic had made me deaf to the underlying complement.

I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime during late adolescence, I gained a tremendous amount of confidence. My self-esteem was still fragile, but at least I had confidence. I’ve never been a terribly attractive person either, but even that didn’t seem to bother me much anymore. And once I gained my own confidence, I became increasingly annoyed by the lack of it in the people around me. Self-deprecating humor is EVERYWHERE!

But here’s where it gets interesting. Looking back at pictures, I can see just how skinny I was. At the time, though, I thought I looked pretty much like everyone else. In fact, I still feel like I look pretty much like everyone else. I have a hard time distinguishing between a size 2 and a size 6. I can’t tell the difference between a size 10 and a size 14. I remember a co-worker being on a diet because she needed to lose 15 pounds for some reason (a wedding?). I knew she wasn’t as thin as I was, but I was shocked that someone her size would want to lose weight. To me she looked perfectly thin–the ideal size, even! Why on earth would she want to be thinner?

And so I don’t trust my own judgement about others’ size. When a friend offered me her used maternity clothes, I didn’t think we were close enough in size for the clothes to fit, but I accepted them happily nonetheless. It turns out most of the clothes fit perfectly. And that’s the crux of my post.

As most of my readers know, I am currently 6 months pregnant. Over the last 6 months, I have gained over 30 pounds and my hips/butt have gained 5 inches. And I still have 3 months left to go! But if it weren’t for the numbers or the clothes not fitting, I wouldn’t even have noticed. Pre-pregnancy I wore a size XS or a 0/2. Pregnancy sizes are supposed to coincide with pre-pregnancy sizes given that women typically gain between 25-35 lbs during the course of a healthy pregnancy and maternity clothes reflect that “normal” change. But I’ve been dancing with pregnancy size mediums lately. The weight I’ve been gaining has been in MY body. The pregnancy itself only weighs a few pounds, tops.

So imagine my surprise when I get stopped by strangers on a regular basis so they can tell me how trim and thin I look. I’m not surprised that I still look thin. I’m surprised that other people think I still look thin. As it turns out, other people are just as blind to size as I am. According to several size charts (including Land’s End and Ann Taylor), my pre-pregnancy pants size should be 0/2. Today, my pants size would be 10/12. That’s a HUGE difference according to the numbers. But in reality, a size 2 doesn’t look all that different from a size 12. Of course I notice a difference, but not that much.

All you ladies out there who are not satisfied with the way your body looks, please STOP IT!!! A size 12 is perfectly respectable. Our priorities ought to be on our health NOT on our weight. A healthy weight will follow a healthy diet. If you are eating well and keeping active, your body will find its perfect size. For some that will be a size 2. For others, it will be a size 12. But if you are being healthy, then you are PERFECT the way you are. Stop longing to lose that “last 10 pounds”. If they’re that hard to lose, maybe your body needs them!

And for the love of all things holy, every woman (especially every mother) should be familiar with this website, it changed my life: theshapeofamother.com. You will NEVER look like that photo of an airbrushed celebrity. Even that celebrity doesn’t look like that.

So please, please, please, let us stop obsessing over our bodies. Let us worry about getting healthy, NOT about getting thin. Because thin does not equal healthy (trust me on this one), and healthy does not necessarily equal thin.

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Hot and Delirious

Well my predictions were 100% spot on. Reid’s way-too-high fever finally broke and started coming down last night. It’s pretty crazy when you take your kid’s temperature and are relieved to find it at a chilly 102 degrees. Reid spent the better part of 3 days with a temperature close to 105 degrees, sometimes probably higher. I didn’t take his temperature because he was SO uncomfortable already and hates having his temperature taken. I just watched him to see if I needed to worry.

The first night, he had a hard time sleeping, which we expected. He woke often, but also fell back to sleep relatively easily. But at 5:30am, it was too hard to get him back to sleep so I just got up with him. We snuggled on the couch while he dozed on and off. Because he only wanted me, and would have nothing to do with daddy, I didn’t end up getting to nap or rest much that day (Saturday).

We gave Reid Motrin a couple times (we tend not to give medicine during fevers at all because they are the body’s way of battling the illness and reducing fevers can actually prolong the illness, but in this case, we felt intervention was necessary due to the extremity of Reid’s discomfort)–once before bed on Friday night and once on Saturday when his fever seemed out of control. The last time he had a fever like this, Tylenol did nothing for him, and it was a huge production to even get him to take it in the first place. When we tried Motrin, the fever went way down and he actually had a fraction of a personality again. But the Motrin gives him a tummy ache and gas reminiscent of the kind dogs get when they eat people food… absolutely horrible. So we tried to get away with not giving him any medicine the next night in hopes that the fever would break or at least that he could somewhat sleep through it.

He went to bed easily enough at 7pm while I sat by his bedside. But within about one minute of my sneaking out of the room, he was awake and crying. So I went back and sat down until he was good and asleep again. And again, within a minute of my leaving, he awoke crying. This went on until about 11pm. It didn’t matter if I stayed in his room for 5 minutes or 30. The result was the same. So I finally just gave up and brought him into my bed and went to sleep. But as fevers tend to do, his kept getting hotter and hotter as he slept and he got more and more uncomfortable. He was waking every 20-30 minutes screaming and crying, shaking and begging me to hold him. And every time there was some specific reason for his episode. “Don’t take my trains away, Daniel!” he screamed once. Or “Don’t push me!” or some other wrong was being done to him. He was having little tiny 2-year-old vividly real bad dreams (hallucinations?), and it was heart-breaking.

Around 4am, I finally got out of bed with him since no one was getting any sleep, and sat on the sofa with him on my lap. I watched movies and he slept fitfully, but cozily snuggled in my arms. Curiously, during two of the movies I watched: The Business of Being Born and The Science of Babies (by National Geographic), when Reid would wake and catch a glimpse of the TV, for a moment or two, he seemed like his regular self. He loved seeing the babies on the TV, talked about mommy’s baby and Reid’s baby (he’s convinced he has a baby in his tummy, too), and asked where the babies went when he couldn’t see them on the screen.

But around 7am when he was STILL waking up screaming and crying for one reason or another with no sign of a reduced fever, I finally gave him another dose of Motrin. He napped for about 45 minutes before waking again, and I decided it was time to wake Dan so I could get some sleep. Dan got up and cuddled with Reid (after much crying, cajoling and convincing that Reid didn’t, in fact, need Mama, and that Dada would hold him and comfort him) for a few hours so I could sleep. Around 10:30am, Dan brought Reid to bed and he and I slept solidly until Dan woke us both up at 2pm!!!

I can’t remember the last time I slept until 2pm in the afternoon–probably not since college when I pulled all-nighters. Even when Dan and I first got married and we would stay up late nursing a bottle of wine, I don’t think I managed to sleep that late. It felt surreal to wake up for the day with only a few hours of sunlight left, but Reid and I were the better for it. I rushed to get myself ready for a meeting I had at 3pm. Dan let the kids watch Rocky and Bullwinkle and when I got back home around 5:30pm, Reid still had a fever, but it had obviously dropped because, while he was still obviously clingy and acting sick, he wasn’t a miserable fire bomb anymore. He was interested in playing trains, he was willing to eat some dinner, and he didn’t require a lap in order to exist.

He actually slept well that night and today he and Daniel both woke up with the sweetest, politest, most helpful demeanor than they’ve had in a long time. And even though they argued a couple times, once was over who was going to clean up the space toys that were all over the table. I’ll take that kind of arguing any day! They played happily together in their room for over an hour while I cleaned the kitchen, they laughed, they said please and thank you to each other, they even went to bed without much of an argument.

So except for the fact that Reid may still be contagious and we’re stuck in the house for at least another day, I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow. And I’m thankful this illness happened when it did because beginning on Thursday, our days are going to be packed with activity. But more on that later.

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Sick Again?!

My poor little boys are sick again. This makes the 3rd time this summer! It’s so entirely frustrating given that we’re a generally healthy bunch. But here’s the pattern.

Daniel gets really grumpy for a day or two and I just about lose my mind. I find myself going completely against everything I believe in as a parent: yelling, scolding, taking toys away. And then I notice a bit of a runny nose, or that look in his eyes (you can always see the “sick” in Daniel’s eyes), or he looks like he may have a sore throat (you know, that slow gulp-type of swallowing you do when your throat hurts). And then I feel terribly guilty that I lost my cool at him when he wasn’t feeling well. But by that time, the hard part is usually over and the next few days he has a runny nose, a few sneezes and a bit of a cough at night due to the drainage, but he is completely back to normal.

Then when Daniel’s about better, Reid develops a super high fever (the last two times it was at 105!) super quickly (like over a period of a couple hours) that lasts for about 3 days. He gets super clingy, tired, and completely uninterested in anything but sitting on my lap or being attached to me in some way. Then the fever breaks and he has a mild runny nose for a few days, but that’s it.

Right now we’re in the beginning stages of Reid’s fever (I only just noticed it a few hours ago) and he has a tiny hint of a runny nose. Daniel is pretty much better except for the remnants of runny nose that drives him up the wall, so he’s constately (and I mean constantly) rubbing his nose with a cloth or tissue which results with a bright red scabby patch just under his nose from all the irritation.

And guess what. Soccer picture day is tomorrow. And my son looks like he painted a Hitler mustache under his nose. Sigh.

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Brain Fog

What the heck is it?! I get brain fog a lot–or at least more often than I care to. For the last several years I have been calling it by different names: exhaustion, pregnancy brain, chronic fatigue (due to a case of Epstein-Barr virus last year), busyness, distractability, laziness, getting older, etc. And I don’t really notice it on a day-to-day basis–until I have a day of clarity. Then I realize I’ve been walking around in a fog.

It’s not forgetfulness really, though I am forgetful at times. It really just is fogginess. Sometimes I’ll be chatting with a friend and I’ll realize I don’t really hear them, that I can’t even muster the strength to be active in the conversation–that I’m just zoning out (and trust me, I usually have plenty to say!). Sometimes I can’t even manage to get myself a glass of water when I’m thirsty. On these days, I let my kids watch too many videos (lately its been Caillou), and I get frustrated easily.

Today was a day of clarity despite the very few hours of sleep I got due to the fact that first Reid crawled into our bed, then a couple hours later Daniel crawled in. And Daniel never fell back to sleep–he just lay there sniffling and coughing from his third cold this summer. I finally pulled myself and him out of bed and dozed on the sofa while he watched Caillou and sucked on a cough drop.

I realized tonight that the last week or so (and maybe a little bit the week before), I’ve been in a fog. I’m annoyed that it keeps happening and that it seems so random. It makes sense that it would be tied mostly to sleep (I certainly do not get enough–and completely by my own doing), but then why would I have such a clear day today? I don’t know, but I’m grateful that I’m back to myself for now. And it wouldn’t hurt to get more sleep. (Margo, are you reading this? I will get more sleep–I promise).

And hopefully my next post will entail many many days of clarity (and energy!). The upcoming holidays are already packed with plans (“Christmas Cocktails and Desserts” is already in the works!), and then I’m having a baby immediately following (please, God, following) the holidays! I’ve got to get this figured out, or at the very least under control, and stat!

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Natural Mama

As most of my readers already know, I am in with the holistic crowd. I co-lead (my sweet, amazing, inspirational co-leader is moving to South Korea in a few weeks!) the Pasadena Chapter of the Holistic Moms Network, I (used to, I intend to) manage a holistic blog, and I do many, many “crunchy” things. Maybe I’ll make a list on my other blog where it seems more appropriate… it doesn’t seem fitting to “brag” about my hippiness here. Suffice it to say there are many things I haven’t touched in years that may be commonplace in the majority of American homes (deodorant, antibiotics, fast-food–except In-N-Out of course, to name a few).

I try my best not to be “in your face” about my choices, but I do what I do because I believe in it, so I’m sure it rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I’m also not known for being “quiet” or “subtle”. Reserved maybe, but I have a passionate side that is always just waiting to be unleashed. I came across this little animation recently that pokes fun at we holistic mamas. It is so true and so untrue at the same time. I don’t know anyone who is as brash and judgmental as the blonde woman in the clip, but it had me and my husband laughing out loud.

Please enjoy.

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It moves!!!

I’ve been thinking for the last few weeks that I could feel the baby moving, but I wouldn’t let myself believe it. I’m only 15 weeks pregnant right now–pretty early to be feeling baby even today. But it’s becoming undeniable. In fact, last night while lying in bed, baby gave me quite a whack. I bet if I had had my hand on my belly, I would have been able to feel it on the outside!

Typical kicks are more subtle–more like taps or gentle flicks. But it feels a lot like gas, too, which is why I kept denying the sensation. But with my uterus filling a bigger space in my abdomen, and the taps being in the same general area, and the sensations getting stronger and more consistent by the day, I can finally say with some certainty that, yes, I can feel the baby moving.

Our next big milestone will be learning the baby’s sex (or trying to anyway). I hope to schedule my anatomy scan for the first week in August. We get asked almost every day by someone if we’re hoping this baby is a girl. And I feel like I ought to say yes, but my honest answer isn’t so simple. I was telling some friends this morning at brunch that I would be disappointed if the baby was not a girl for the simple fact that I wouldn’t get to experience parenting a girl. But even still, I think I’d rather just stick with what we’re used to and have another boy. So the honest answer is that I see the pros and cons of either sex and one doesn’t necessarily outweigh the other.

When I was pregnant with Reid, however, I did want him to be a girl–more than I realized. When we found out he was actually a boy, I was surprised by the disappointment I felt. I was thankful it was short-lived, though. I think I was over it by the end of that day.

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Growing new life

My belly at 9 weeks pregnant

I've been growing steadily already. This is my belly at just 9 weeks pregnant! Yes, there is only one baby!

With all my excitement about getting back to blogging, I forgot to mention that we are yet again expecting! This pregnancy was unplanned–to the point where we were actively preventing… but you know how God is. The baby is due on January 6. Today I am just over 12 weeks pregnant.

Just months before falling pregnant, I had gone through the difficult and painful process of giving up on my dream of a big family. Dan did not share this dream, and he had already let me decide about the first two children we brought forth. Since marriage is a partnership and all, I felt I owed it to him to do the work to mourn the loss of that dream and move on with the joy that we already had. One of the things I am working on in life in general is being content with what I already have and silencing the “grass is always greener” voice that speaks too loudly in my head. Just as I felt ready to say that I could be happy with what I had, God intervened.

We use Natural Family Planning as our method of birth control, and occasionally we cut the timing a little tight, so I always knew there would be the possibility of getting pregnant. Sometimes we are very careful and follow the rules strictly, and other times, desire just gets in the way. This was not necessarily one of those times, though when I look back on my chart, even though we did follow the rules, we were right on the verge of them. I really believed in my heart that even if we did accidentally get pregnant one day, I would be ecstatic and welcome the pregnancy with joy. But my feelings are not what I thought.

Positive pregnancy testI’m not upset by this pregnancy, but I’m not exactly excited either. At first we were just stunned. I took a test on a whim (I had a collection of internet cheapies in the drawer in the bathroom). I wasn’t even late yet. But we were about to go to the beach for the weekend and I had this fleeting thought that if I happened to be pregnant, I wouldn’t have to pack any feminine products. So I took one of the tests fully expecting a negative result so I could finish packing the necessary supplies. But when that second pink line showed up on the test strip, my whole body went numb. I just couldn’t believe it.

9 week ultrasound picture

Baby at 9 weeks

I felt shocked and in disbelief for the next couple weeks. Then at 6 weeks the morning sickness hit and I began to believe it a bit more. And and at 9 weeks I had an ultrasound and saw and heard the little one’s powerful rhythmic heartbeat and I couldn’t be in denial any longer. Since then, I’ve continued to grow (nearly 6 inches in my waist already!), developed the worst acne of my life, and have slowly been adjusting to the circumstances. I suppose I feel happy now that a new little one is coming into our family, but it feels like just another ordinary (albeit huge) event is about to happen. I almost feel indifferent, but it’s not in a cold way–just a “this is life” way.

I’m not too worried about my feelings. I felt pretty disconnected from the early part of my pregnancy with Reid due to my previous miscarriage, and that turned out just fine. I imagine once I start feeling this little one moving around, I will get one step closer to joy. And when we begin the preparations for this baby’s arrival, I will get closer still. And I am confident that by the time this child makes its appearance, we will be overwhelmed with adoration and wonder–just as we were with Daniel and with Reid.

But for now we are still journeying to that place. And I think we are content to be travelers for the next several months.

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It took 14 months, but I’m back and with PICTURES

Holy monkeys! Is it possible that 14 months have gone by WITHOUT A SINGLE POST?! Good Lord… does that not show my procrastinating side, or what? I started a post in July of last year (2010) but never got around to finishing it. It describes my problem well, though, so I couldn’t bring myself to delete it, or ignore it, or even re-write it. Here it is word-for-word:

It’s been three months since my last post. Oy! It’s not that I didn’t have enough to say (could that be possible?), it’s that I’m stupidly addicted to Facebook and email and other internet time-suckers. Tonight, I sat down at 9 with the intention of devoting my time to blogging, but it’s now nearly 10 and I’ve only just now gotten to it. This is not just an I’m-addicted-to-the-internet problem. This is a problem I’ve written about before. It’s a kids-are-in-bed-so-I’m-going-to-do-whatever-I-want-and-shirk-my-responsibilities problem. Blogging isn’t really a responsibility per se, but it is the way I keep family and friends updated about the boys. It’s also a great way for me to journal about my life. I regularly find myself looking back and reading posts I wrote 2 or 3 years ago.

This morning I was lucky to be able to sleep in until about 9:45. Daniel had  spent the night with Dan’s parents and Reid, for whatever reason, didn’t wake up until 10. But usually I am up around 8 after having gone to bed around 1 that morning. And because Reid still sleeps with us, he nurses throughout the night. He is nothing like Daniel was. He just wakes long enough to latch on and falls right back into a deep sleep. So I barely even notice that it’s happened sometimes. Still, my sleep is broken, and not nearly long enough. So by the time the kids are in bed, I’m so drained of any “doing stuff” energy, that I just plop down and zone out. Even writing about what’s been going on seems like too much work.

Exhaustion coupled with procrastination and my kids-are-in-bed-so-I’m-going-to-do-whatever-I-want-and-shirk-my-responsibilities problem makes for a bad atmosphere for blogging.

What makes today different? It’s the middle of the day and BOTH of my children are napping… or at least they are both laying down quietly in bed. A few days ago, I got overwhelmed with Daniel needing me every second of his life, so I insisted that he lay in his bed while his piano music plays (the music we play for him at night when he goes to bed). I told him he could get up once the music was over. It was heavenly. Today is fourth day of imposed rest, and I am thoroughly enjoying this much-needed time to myself while still feeling some energy.

I wish so deeply that I had continued to blog over these last many months, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Instead of trying to play catch-up by writing about the last 14 months by memory, I’ll do something unprecedented in this blog’s history. I’ll add some photographs! I’m not sure why I didn’t add any in the past, except that perhaps I wanted my readers to appreciate the written form and not just visit my blog for the pictures, or perhaps it was because I didn’t want to bother with the formatting. Whatever the reason, I’m over it. So please enjoy.

reid pre-haircutReid Pre-Haircut

July 2010: Reid got his first haircut. I spiked his hair in this picture so you could see how long it actually was before I started cutting.

Reid Post-Haircut

July 2010: And here is Reid after the haircut.

Nicole and Daniel in Hawaii

August 2010: Daniel and I in Maui for our annual visit.

Reid eating yogurt

September 2010: Notice how Reid's chin and mouth are covered in yogurt as he attempts to feed himself. He is 16 months old in this picture. He still eats yogurt the exact same way today at 25 months old. See the final picture in this post for a comparison.

Daniel and his friends at Halloween

October 2010: This year we formed a preschool co-op with a few friends. We met at each others' houses once/week for a short preschool class. My weeks fell over Halloween, so we had a costume party. Aren't the kiddos SO adorable?!

Finley, Daniel and Reid getting ready for trick-or-treating

October 2010: In the past we haven't made a big deal about trick-or-treating. We went to a couple houses last year and Daniel was happy. This year, however, we were invited to our friends' house for Halloween and trick-or-treating. Their neighborhood was amazing--decorations and trick-or-treaters everywhere! I hadn't seen that much Halloween spirit since I was a kid. I honestly thought it just didn't exist anymore! The kids had a lot of fun, but we ended up with SO much candy. There is still candy sitting in the bucket on top of the fridge.

Daniel kissing a birdie

November 2010: We took a field trip with our Holistic Moms Network group to a small petting zoo/farmlet in Altadena called Danny's Farm. Daniel didn't really like many of the animals, but he loved the little baby chicks. Reid loved all the animals and wanted to chase them all around.

Reid with birdie

November 2010: I had a difficult time getting Reid to put the chicks down. And when he did put them down, he did so a little roughly. Once I caught him throwing one of the chicks! Luckily he's short so the bird didn't have far to go and it landed in a big pile of fluff in its enclosure and wasn't hurt. But I was diligent in watching Reid around the chicks after that!

Reid in a popcorn can

December 2010: For awhile Reid had a tendency to wedge himself into tight spaces. I found him in a drawer he had emptied in the bathroom, inside the laundry basket, between the nightstand and the bed, and once, even IN the dryer (with the door open, thank G-d!). This particular day, he managed to wedge himself in to the (empty!) popcorn tin. That boy!!!

Daniel and Reid on Christmas morning

December 2010: For the majority of Christmas morning, we were all in our pajamas. This picture was taken just as we were about to head over to Dan's parents' house for Mickey-head waffles and more gifting.

Preschool co-op at Hanson Distributing Company

March 2011: We took several field trips with our preschool co-op. One of them was to the Hanson Distributing warehouse for a tour. The kids had a great time and we had a fun picnic on the grass outside afterward.

Dan Sr, Reid and Daniel at the Derby Days race in Arcadia

April 2011: For the last few years Dan Sr (Dan's dad) has been running in the Santa Anita Derby Days race. Daniel usually runs in the little kids race, too. This year, we signed up Reid and got him his own number and everything.

Dan Sr and Daniel running the Derby Days race

April 2011: Dan Sr usually runs with Daniel in the race. We were hoping this year Daniel would be able to run without holding grandpa's hand, but he insisted. Maybe next year he'll be able to run it on his own.

Mom and Reid running the race

April 2011: Reid started the race running with his Aunt Laurie so I could take video of him. But as soon as he saw me, he insisted that I go with him instead. He wanted to be picked up several times, but I was able to keep him motivated enough to finish on his own two feet. There were many oooooohs and aaaaaaaahs over his tiny adorableness running the race. I think that's mostly why we signed him up.

Daniel with a girl

April 2011: Both my kids love to ride the metro. On this particular day we decided to ride the metro down to South Pasadena. We were sitting in a little outdoor patio area eating snacks and treats. At the table next to us was another family. Both Daniel and the little girl from the other table were more interested in watching the trains go by than sitting still at their tables. They didn't much talk to each other, but the sat together for a good 10 minutes.

Daniel hunting eggs

April 2011: This year's Easter egg hunt was by far the best hunt we've had for the kids. We hid several dozen eggs and both my boys and their cousin Dylan ran around squealing and giggling as they searched for eggs. I'm already looking forward to next year's hunt.

Reid and Dylan hunting for eggs

April 2011: Reid and his cousin Dylan mastered the egg hunt like old pros. They both found a bunch of eggs and had so much fun doing it.

Family at Easter

April 2011: Here we are with Dan's family on Easter Sunday. Daniel isn't so thrilled with having to stand still for a picture.

Dan and Daniel at Newport

April 2011: Dan's parents took a week-long vacation in Newport Beach. We drove down for the weekend and spent one of our days there at the beach. Reid is still scared of the ocean, and cried every time Daniel and Dan went down to play in it. I hope he gets over his fear when we go to Hawaii in August!

Daniel hitting the ball

May 2011: This was Daniel's first hit at his first t-ball game. That's his "coach" behind him. All the games were pure chaos--the first game of the season in particular. Get a bunch of 3-5 year-olds together, and you can expect nothing less. No runs, outs, fouls, anything were ever recorded, and I don't even know if it would have been possible to do so. The game was that chaotic. The fielders would dogpile on the ball anytime it came remotely near them, or they were staring out into the distance not paying attention at all. Everyone had a great time, though, and that was the point.

Daniel and the goon squad

May 2011: This was the "last day of preschool" party we threw for the co-op. You wouldn't know it by the picture, but the kids are playing red light, green light. One of the moms threw in a twist where purple light meant act like a goof ball. Daniel is particularly good at that.

Daniel, me and Reid at the Arboretum

June 2011: Dan and I took the boys to the Arboretum earlier this month. We all had a great time running around and spying for peacocks.

Reid gets a car

June 2011: Give Reid a car, you will win his heart. This kid is obsessed with matchbox cars. He can't go anywhere without at least one or two of them clutched in his hands. If I forget to put a handful of cars in my bag when we go out, we are in trouble. This particular car was a gift from grandma and grandpa.

Daniel blowing out his birthday candles

June 2011: Daniel's 5th birthday party theme was Cave Exploring. He is really into caves since he's been watching the caves chapter of the Planet Earth series of movies. I'm not sure if you can see it on the cake, but I painted a chocolate cave with some bats flying around it. I made the cake from scratch and it actually turned out really good. I've always had a hard time making regular ol' cake. I'm good at most other baked goods, but for whatever reason, I usually struggle with cake.

Reid at the cave opening

June 2011: Here is Reid at the mouth of the cave system I built in the back yard for the party. I set up several card tables and draped them with black plastic tablecloth material. I taped stalactites made of newspaper to the bottoms of the tables and made bats out of black balloons and taped them upside down to the plastic material that hung between the tables. The kids loved crawling through it. At the end of the cave I put a bucket filled with dirt in which I buried several dozen plastic bugs. I told them it was bat guano. They believed me for a little while.

Reid looking like the Joker with dirt in his face

June 2011: As these brothers do, Daniel and Reid had a little spat and Daniel threw dirt at Reid. We scrambled to get this picture before we realized that Reid was really upset... the dirt was actually IN his eyes, not just around them, and in his mouth, too. But he does look like the Joker, doesn't he?! I'm glad we caught this on the camera, even though I feel bad we didn't attend to him right away.

Reid eating yogurt

June 2011: And as I promised, here is Reid with yogurt all over his face (and hands, this time!). If anything, he's gotten worse at eating the stuff. He does a really good job feeding himself more solid food, but even though he now knows to hold over his bowl and open his mouth really wide, it still ends up everywhere.

And there you have it–the last 14 months in photographs. I had a lot more I wanted to add, but this post was getting so long already. I promise to post regularly again, and I’ll continue to post pictures as well. I’ve missed blogging and can’t wait to get back to it.

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The Fearless and The Anxious

Enough with the generic titles. It’s getting awkward to list the kids’ ages, and I get frustrated not being able to title the blogs based on what they actually contain. So from here on out, I’ll be nixing the time-stamp and utilizing my creativity.

Reid is 11 months old now. He is learning new things every day, and it is getting so fun. Just in the last couple weeks, he’s learned to wave bye-bye, give hugs and kisses, pat my breast when he wants milk (he usually says, “Mama” while patting), and sign “more” when I say the word… I’m not sure he quite understands what it means yet.

I thought for sure he’d be walking by now. He’s been standing on his own with confidence for months. He can stand up from sitting without using anything for leverage. He can go from standing, to squatting, to sitting. He can bend over and pick something up off the floor and right himself. He can wiggle, dance, clap, play with toys while standing. But he shows no interest in walking. Only occasionally will he let me lead him around by holding his hands while he walks. He prefers just to crawl since he’s a master crawler–a sprint-crawler even.

He’s also a climber. He tries to climb on everything. We bought a sit and stand stroller from some friends at church recently which both boys love. When not in use, it is parked in our front hallway. Reid loves to climb up into it and stand in the seat. He could stand there playing for several minutes. In fact, I’m not sure how long he’d be content there since I usually get him down after a few minutes so I can attend to something else. We have also found him sitting on the bottom shelf of our built-in DVD unit, inside the bathroom cupboard (completely inside), standing on the open door of the dishwasher, on Daniel’s bed, and he desperately tries to fling himself into the bathtub as soon as he notices the water is on. He is going to get hurt one of these days. He just is. And I’m afraid.

Daniel never did that kind of stuff. He was curious. He would make feeble attempts. But he wasn’t the daredevil that Reid is. I can see huge differences in the two already. It’s as if I birthed the two most opposite boys our DNA would allow, and not just in their behavior. Reid is nearly three inches shorter than Daniel was at this age. Reid still barely has any hair, while Daniel had his first haircut at 3 months old. Daniel could say several words at this age, but Reid is still only babbling–he does say, “Mama” and perhaps “bath” (as “ba!”). Several wise moms have told me that you think you have it under control, when the next kid comes along and changes everything. It’s so true.

Daniel has been dealing with some anxiety issues lately. Thankfully, they’ve calmed down and he’s slowly getting back to his old self (phew!). The immediate trigger for his anxiety was two-fold (three-fold, if you count Reid being born). First, Dan and I planned a trip to San Fransisco to surprise his friend Mike for his 30th birthday. We arranged for Daniel to spend the night with his grandparents (something he loves to do), bought our plane tickets and booked our hotel. We told Daniel that we were going to go on a trip while he spent the night with grandma and grandpa. But that didn’t go over very well. We decided not to talk about the trip in front of him, and instead just talk about how much fun he’d have spending the night since he was going to get to go to a baseball game.

Right around that same time, during Daniel’s gymnastics class (he’d been attending for about 6 weeks already with absolutely no issue), he looked up to where I normally stand and watch him to let me know he had to go to the bathroom. When he couldn’t locate me (I had gone around the corner to another viewing area to eat a muffin and wasn’t paying attention to the class below), one of the teachers walked with him to the bathroom. On his way back he spotted me and seemed okay. He went back downstairs to the class, but before he even sat back down on his spot, looked up to find me again, couldn’t see me for a second, and freaked out. He started crying and wouldn’t return to the class. And every class since then (about 6 weeks ago now), he’s needed me to be with him down in the gym area (the gym regulations state that parents are not allowed to be in the gym area, but they have kindly made an exception for us). For a few weeks, he would barely leave my side, but now he’s content as long as I am within 10 feet of him.

I think the initial problem started when I attended my dear friend’s birth when Daniel was only about a year and a half old. I left him for several hours with my mom in San Diego (he’d never been without me for more than an hour or two). He didn’t know my mom very well, and he wasn’t terribly familiar with her house. We’d visited several times, but nothing more than a day or two here and there. It seemed that the day went well. He ate, slept, and played with my mom. He didn’t seem lethargic, or depressed. But he was obviously relieved to have me back. And every time we visited my mom after that, he wouldn’t let me leave his sight. I couldn’t go to the bathroom without him. I couldn’t even go around the corner without him panicking. And while he is okay visiting my mom’s house these days, he still has to be reassured that I am not going to leave him there. I’m sure the issue is not with my mom, since he adores her when she visits at our house. But in his mind, her house is associated with that feeling of abandonment.

Thus, I have concluded, when we told him we were going on a trip without him, when he couldn’t spot me at gymnastics class, that terrifying panic was conjured up for him. Now, whenever we had to be separated (dentist appointments, a date with Dan), Daniel screamed, cried, had to be peeled off of me. A good friend and child psychiatrist confirmed my suspicions that we (at least I) should not go on our trip without Daniel–that his extreme separation anxiety would only be made worse if I forced us to be separated, that we needed to help him deal with his anxiety step by tiny step.

I felt frustrated, powerless, worried, annoyed. I thought it was going to take months of hard work. Instead, things have been getting easier on their own. Well, not totally on their own. We have been talking with him about his feelings, reassuring him that we would never leave him without telling him first–and even then we would always leave him with someone who loved him and who he trusted–and we would always come back.I’ve been leaving for short amounts of time when necessary (multiple dentist appointments, Holistic Moms meetings), but never more than necessary, and I’ve called to check in and make sure he’s okay. And little by little, he’s been okay with my leaving. Little by little, he’s going back to the confident little boy who plays by himself and reads books to pass the time. He’s once again comfortable enough to play with daddy, or auntie, or grandma with me in another part of the house. He even went happily with Dan to the grocery store a few days ago.

I’m relieved. But nervous about what else might trigger his anxiety response again. I know the fear. I have the same feelings about earthquakes. And I was reminded of how terrible those feelings are when we had a small but violent earthquake in the middle of the night. I could barely sleep afterward. I jumped with every move Dan made in the bed. I lurched awake with that firey surge of electric butterflies in my body every few minutes sure that the whole house was going to come crumbling down on me. For several nights, I was afraid. The fear got less and less every day, but occasionally something would bring it back up for me.

So even through my frustration, my worry for Daniel, through my own fears, I was able to have real empathy for him. Fear is a terrible thing to have to experience–especially as a child with no real ability to rationalize, to talk yourself down. I dealt with irrational fears as a child myself, and remember how paralyzing they were. I’m sad my poor little Daniel has to deal with that dumb inherited trait of mine (and Dan’s as well), but grateful that Dan and I both have experience dealing with it personally so we can help him through it gently should it come up again.

For now, he is doing well. He still won’t spend the night at his grandparents’ house. He still prefers that I stay close by. But he’s  not terrified anymore. And for now, I’ll call it a win.

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8 Months Old & Crawling

Last week Reid figured out how to crawl. He has be loving his new-found freedom. Of course, since everything goes directly into his mouth, I have to be extra vigilant, but I am actually really glad he’s figured it out. He’s just a happier guy, and he’s more stable now that he’s figured out how to maneuver. The only thing that’s been stressful is when he crawls over to the coffee table and pulls himself to standing. He’s very unstable on his feet. Unlike Daniel who was a bit of a scaredy cat, Reid seems fearless. He’ll get himself on his feet, then let go of the table with total confidence in himself, even though every time, he falls and usually bonks something. I think it’s safe to say he’ll be walking before his first birthday.

We just got back from a 10-day vacation in Seattle and Canada. Most of our group (Dan’s immediate family) was sick for the bulk of the trip, so it seemed like a bit of a downer vacation. It was good to get away, and I did find the time out of my normal routines refreshing and renewing, but by the end of it, I was really ready to get home. Daniel didn’t do very well cooped up inside, and his jealously issues seemed to amplify with his general frustration at being bored. He’s really testing his limits right now. Today I had to actually reprimand him twice. Usually, I just have to tell him to stop doing whatever it is he’s doing, and he generally stops. But today, he didn’t stop.

I know he’s acting out because he’s jealous. He’s been asking to nurse a lot lately and has been asking to be carried in the carrier. One time about a month ago, I gave in and let him “try” nursing. He opened his mouth, came close, then giggled and turned away saying he didn’t know how. After that, I haven’t let him “try” again. I really wish he would have just nursed a little right after Reid was born, so we could have had a more ceremonious ending that he remembered to our nursing relationship. But now that he’s approaching 4, allowing him to start nursing all over again (which means I’d have to teach him how) seems a bit much, even for me. I wish there was something I could do for or give to him that could help him feel less jealousy.

There’s a book called Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish that I hope to buy and read soon (unless someone has a better recommendation). I hate the idea that I will need to up the ante in the “discipline” department with Daniel, when his actions are clearly dictated by him feeling pushed aside. Still, I can’t be passive while he yanks things away from his brother, lays on him, puts his feet in his face, etc. And I feel like I need to nip this in the bud for Dan’s sake as well, or I can kiss my chances of having another baby goodbye. He’s already having a hard time with things as they are. I know he really wants to be finished having children. He’s really loving Daniel at his age, but Reid is still tough for him to know how to handle. Starting over yet again with another baby and all the stuff that goes along with them really stresses him out.

I have given up my hopes for a full house of children, though. Now I only hold out hope for one more. And the easier our current children are, the more likely it is that #3 will come to be.

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