Our miracle RAINBOW BABY BOY is on the way! Due 8/2018

1st IVF = BFN
2nd IVF = Baby A, born May 2015
3rd IVF = Miscarriage at 14 weeks
4th IVF = BFN
After we paid for 5th IVF, positive pregnancy w/o IVF!

Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Friday, March 22, 2019

February Update - Get the Balance Right

Some say that the wisdom of the ages is found in the Bible, and this may very well be true. But it is also found in many a Depeche Mode song. Get The Balance Right from 1983 especially rang true for me this month. 

There's more besides joyrides
Little house in the countryside
Understand, learn to demand,
Compromise, sometimes lie
Get the Balance right, get the balance right
Be responsible, respectable,
Stable but gullible
Concerned and caring, help the helpless
But always remain ultimately selfish
Get the balance right, get the balance right
You think you've got a hold of it all
You haven't got a hold at all
When you reach the top, get ready to drop
Prepare yourself for the fall, you're gonna fall
It's almost predictable
Don't take this way, don't take that way
Straight down the middle until next Thursday
Push to the left, back to the right
Twist and turn 'til you've got it right
Get the balance right
Becoming a Mom throws off the balance for awhile. Your top priority is caring for your children. Listening to this song on a run with the kids, I finally understood this line: Concerned and caring, help the helpless. But always remain ultimately selfish. You know, that whole take care of yourself so that you can take care of others bit. I realized that it had been too long since I spent money on myself when my friend Jennifer texted me "And please don't wear that same brown dress you've been wearing for the past decade!"
Six months!
With Goldblum in not my brown dress.
I had lost 80 pounds (well, 70 plus the baby but 80 sounds better, doesn't it?) and deserved a few new outfits. I also donated a ton of clothes, you know - the ones that weren't bringing me any joy, like the slightly shiny suit I wore to my first counseling interview. Thirteen years ago.
I haven't been able to run this month because I'm still waiting on the results of my hip MRI. My husband and I also joined the gym and have been going 2-3 times a week. The childcare is so reasonable there: only $10 per child, per month! It's so nice to be able to talk to him without any interruptions. Our time together in between sets is such a luxury that it feels like we're on a date. 

I want to continue to loose and more importantly, reduce my body-fat percentage. I want to build back up more muscle. I am a mom, yes, but that doesn't mean that I give up on myself now that I have two to care for. It's about priorities and aside from continuing to look good for my husband, I want to have energy to keep up with the kids and the health to be with them as long as possible. Working out also boosts my mood. You know water off a duck's back? That's me on days I get a workout in.
This month flew by. There are many things I don't like about living in California, but our weather is not one of them. I took the kids up to the snow one day, and we went to the beach on a whim the next. A had so much fun sledding with GrandpaGlennie that on the way home, she spontaneously said "I love this day!" My Dad and brother are so good to her, and make an effort to spend time with her every week. I can't help but dream of what it would be like if Mom were still here, and how much she would cherish the kids. I try to channel that into the love that I give them. I also try to help her develop my Mom's outlook on life.

In my interactions with A, I try to help her re-frame things that frustrate her to help her develop the amazingly positive attitude that my Mom had. For example, A was very upset that she fell while running on a walk with me. Although she was not physically too hurt, she was crying for a while afterwards. I explained to her that when we get hurt, physically or emotionally, we are building up our strength for the future. It makes us stronger. She just looked at me and didn't say anything, but a few hours later I overheard her telling Trevi "It's okay Trevi - you fall and you are hurt but then you get stronger!" 

Little A comes from a long line of very strong women, and I want her to know this. I want to help her build up the resiliency that I didn't realize I had until well into adulthood. Mom had a sweetness and softness about her, yet she was by far the strongest woman I have ever known. I hope to teach A that being strong doesn't need to equate to being bossy or controlling. The strongest trees are the flexible ones that bend in the wind, not the rigid ones that snap with the slightest breeze. Things don't always go our way, and that's okay. Her faith formation classes help with this too, I believe and it makes me so happy knowing that she will soon start Catholic school, just like Mom did.


Baby C continues to be a dream come true. He still sleeps about 9pm-8am and when he does wake up, he babbles instead of crying. He loves being pushed in the stroller, being worn and especially loves when his sister makes him laugh. He started going in the hot tub this month, and loves splashing and kicking his feet. He has the easiest disposition. 
 
Being their mom is my life's greatest joy. Sometimes, A will say "You the best Mommy ever!" and it just makes everything worth it.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Deinstitutionalization has been a psychiatric Titanic.

  
Image found here.
This morning, my daughter and her friend dressed up like princesses and had tea (with real china!) with Rapunzel. Leaving the beautiful pink Victorian home where each parent shelled out $50, my girl looked out the window and saw what I could hardly believe I was seeing: A homeless woman, pants around her ankles, peeing on the sidewalk and her pants...wheelchair and bags nearby. "What's that Mommy?"

Tears welled up in my eyes when I thought of this woman as a child; she was once someone's baby, fresh and clean with a world of possibilities.

The de-institutionalization of mental health hospitals that happened under President Carter's watch in 1955 is nothing short of criminal. Under the guise "rights" and "freedom" they were shut down (to save money) when they should have been reformed.

We desperately need more than voluntary community programs for our mentally ill. Especially those that don't have family support.

Here I sit editing photos of princesses and puppies and I cannot get this woman out of my mind. We are failing her. She needs to be committed for a period of time and stabilized and guess what??? There is NO PLACE for her. Unless she is currently a danger to her self or others, even an emergency room won't keep her. Currently a danger? They will only help for 72 hours. Not NEARLY enough time for ANY psychiatric medication to work.

I give my daughter the most magical childhood I can, but who would help her one day, were we to be gone, if she suffered from mental illness? Any child could end up like that woman, and we're lying to ourselves if we think that can't. Yes, some may be drug addicts...it's easier if we just think all of them are - but many are just mentally ill, through no fault of their own.

"Deinstitutionalization was based on the principle that severe mental illness should be treated in the least restrictive setting. As further defined by President Jimmy Carter's Commission on Mental Health, this ideology rested on "the objective of maintaining the greatest degree of freedom, self-determination, autonomy, dignity, and integrity of body, mind, and spirit for the individual while he or she participates in treatment or receives services."

Where was this woman's dignity? Is this least restrictive environment helping her at all?
"The "least restrictive setting" frequently turns out to be a cardboard box, a jail cell, or a terror-filled existence plagued by both real and imaginary enemies."

Every Mom in attendance at that tea could have instead given money to this woman and it wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference. She needs more than community outreach or charity. She needs help and a place to be cared for and given medication, involuntarily.

Mental institutions were taken away under the guise of "rights" and our government needs to bring them back.

"Deinstitutionalization has been a psychiatric Titanic. Their lives are virtually devoid of "dignity" or "integrity of body, mind, and spirit." "Self-determination" often means merely that the person has a choice of soup kitchens. The "least restrictive setting" frequently turns out to be a cardboard box, a jail cell, or a terror-filled existence plagued by both real and imaginary enemies."

Read this: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/asylums/special/excerpt.html

Monday, February 18, 2019

January Update

"What's today?" is the first thing A asks me when she wakes up. Routine is very important for toddlers, and she likes to know what we have planned. It is nice to notice her going from dreading her swim lessons to looking forward to them.

Like her Daddy, she is very risk-adverse. But she develops her level of comfort quickly.

This month, I enrolled her in a Fun with Horses class offered through our city. Each Saturday for 5 weeks, we drove 20 minutes to El Rodeo Stables for the hour-long class. The first class was held in a downpour, which was more fun than it sounds, even though we were both ill-prepared and ended up soaked. On the first class, she was a bit hesitant to approach the horses to brush and feed them, but she did it. Yet by the third class, she was riding with no hands (working on balance and holding with legs) when prompted, which other kids wouldn't do.



I was doing so well with my running and being consistent with my 3 mile runs, so I decided to bump it up. I started throwing in some longer runs, which felt good. I ran just over 6 miles of trails with my friend Delia, to Irvine Regional Park and back. I felt fine, and hiked it a few days later with the kids. But in doing so, I violated the 10% rule: To avoid injury, you are supposed to make sure you don't increase your distance by more than 10%.

My right hip started hurting again, which it first starting doing back in 2011 when I was training for an ultra marathon. I had an x-ray done at that time, which showed some early arthritis. I was really concerned that it may have progressed since then, and that arthritis was causing the pain. In the span of 20 minutes, I went from being really worried that the doctor was going to tell me I shouldn't run, to deciding that I would get a hip replacement if need be, because I wasn't going to stop running.  
I started poking and prodding my hip area, and it hurt. This was super encouraging to me because if it were the bone or joint, it shouldn't hurt to the touch. I asked my husband to massage it, and he has really strong hands. The next day I was limping, but I was happy, having google-diagnosed myself as having bursitis. That day, my doctor gave me a cortisone shot and I hoped I would be back to running in a few days, a week at max. For good measure, I took two off, and iced my hip every day. Feeling confident, I headed out for three miles on the soft dirt trails behind our house, in my new shoes. After only a half mile, I was limping again and walked back to the house, defeated. My doctor has ordered an MRI which will tell us more. I'm still holding out hope that it is bursitis, and maybe the cortisone shot was not put in the right place.

This month I finally reached the weight I was when I became pregnant with C, a loss of over 70 pounds, if you include him. But I still want to loose another 10, and so I am anxious to get back to running. It's not just the calories I burn with running, but the fact that I then make healthier decisions on what I eat when I've ran. Nothing makes you second-guess 300 calories like a 3 mile run (which only burns about 300). Running also gives me an endorphin boost that walking does not.
Five months old
The start of this year has been simply amazing with the kids. Being around them is such a joy, and every day my love for them deepens. One of my favorite things in the world right now is seeing or hearing A make baby C laugh. I love the connection and bond they are developing, and the fact that I trust her around them. She has his best interests at heart, and is protective and gentle with him. I often leave her upstairs with him.

Baby had his first food this month, a few days shy of 6 months, and he loved it. She was the one that fed him his first bite, using my baby spoon. She takes a great amount of pride in being able to do things like that for him, and will now ask "What my baby brother saying?" I'll respond with what I imagine he would be thinking, though unlike Trevi, he does not have a "voice."

My girl is such a sweetheart, and such a rule-follower. Several times a day, she will come up to me and ask "Please I can..." instead of just doing it. Often, it's something that I always say yes to, like having a spoonful of peanut butter. I attribute this to the fact that I say yes to her a lot more than I ever say no. About the only time I say no is when it's something dangerous, or something that is not good for her, like screen time. It will be pouring down rain and my response to "Please I can go outside?" is almost always yes. She gets a lot of freedom, and so is not trying to get away with anything. Also, I love the heck out of her and make sure she knows it daily, so she wants to please me, like I did with my Mom. She gets a lot of my undivided attention, and so she is not seeking out wrong things for negative attention. Sometimes I ask her why she is such a good girl, and she says "Because I love you."


Now, this isn't to say I don't have to sometimes ask her 5 times to do certain non-preferred tasks, I do. She really hates me brushing her hair, for example. She will also whine or full on cry sometimes when I say no to TV, or ask for her iPad back after her time is up, depending on her mood. She also has, on occasion, asked for it again and again. Those times especially, I am mindful not to give in. While giving in would be much easier in the short term, it teaches children that they need to escalate next time in order to get their way.

The favorite part of my day is waking up next to her and snuggling until Chompers starts babbling in his crib. This guy! He's the only baby known to mankind that will wake up starving from a solid 11 hours of sleep in a poopy, wet diaper and not cry! I scoop him out of his crib and bring him into her bed to feed. When I make a trip to the garage fridge to get my low-carb Monster energy drink, I let the cats out and they usually join us, as well as Trevi.

I cherish this time with the kids so much that I found myself recently thinking that this is the best time in my life. I need to really soak it in and remember this time. Although it sounds like such a nice thought, it is actually depressing if you think about it: It doesn't get any better than this. It's all down hill from here. But in reality, things will only sweeten with time. I love my kids and husband more and more with each passing day, so it is more like compounding interest. Also, I realized that pretty much each stage in my life has seemed like "the best" at the time, until the next one came along. I actually remember people in high school telling me "You better enjoy it! This is the best time of your life!" and thinking Really, this right here is it? Thankfully, that wasn't true and when I was in college, I thought that was the best. Then, when I started my career, met my husband, etc. Just as I love seeing her personality develop and the conversations we're having, I imagine they will be even more meaningful as she becomes a teenager and young adult and is contemplating a career or husband.


So now my new outlook is that instead of this being as good as it gets, the best is yet to come. That's right, life just keeps getting better and better. And then, when you think it cannot possibly get any better at all, you die.

Okay, that last one may need a little work.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

December

Behind our house, in "our big backyard."
I kicked off this month with a baby-free run with my friends around the Back Bay, where I used to run regularly. An easy run for them, it was about a minute per mile faster than what I was used to and a real struggle for me. The next day, I followed it with a three-mile run and realized that it was much easier because I had pushed myself the day before. I decided to sign up for a half marathon in March to force myself to keep the momentum and start adding in some longer runs. Slowly but surely, my pace improved. For most of my runs, I push both kids in the double B.O.B. which is tough, but great training, making my solo runs faster. By the end of the month, I was surprised to find that I could do a 3 mile run with an average pace of  9:45 when I ran alone, and a 10:45 pace while pushing both of them. Just a few months ago, I was about 12 minutes a mile alone, and 14 with the kids.

Santa baby
This December was filled with a lot of firsts. Baby's first Christmas, our first in the new home, A's first-time ice skating, first dance recital, first time seeing Disney on Ice, his first trip to Disneyland for Baby C and my first time fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I discovered this one day by accident. I put on the only pair of jeans I owned that fit and headed out the door. While I was out, I realized that they were a different pair; a pair from pre-pregnancy! When I came home, I ran to try on another pair and they fit too! Small successes like this motivated me even more, and by the end of the month, I was running at least 3 miles almost every day, and walking 2-3 every evening.

I gained way too much with baby C. Delivery and the first week left me only 20 pounds lighter, and it was apparent that it was not just "baby weight." Since we've moved into this house, I've lost an average of 10 pounds a month, for a total weight loss of over 60 and yet I still have more to go. Another 6 pounds will bring me to pre-baby A and C weight, but I would like to lose close to twenty more so that I'm back to what I weighed prior to any rounds of IVF. I've been trying to run at least 3 miles most days, and walk 2-3 every day. But the workouts aren't enough. I've also cut way back on my intake because what you eat is still 80% of weight loss (while exercise is only 20%). Send me an email if you would like to know how I've been able to do this or comment below with your email and I'll reach out. I promise I'm not selling a thing, and it's not a wrap!

I had dreamed about decorating our home for Christmas since I fell in love with it at the open house. I've never lived in a two-story house, or had vaulted ceilings. We were excited to search out the tallest tree we could find, but didn't realize that 9-10 is the tallest that most lots carry, and they were reasonable. Spending $150 wasn't nearly as bad as we expected. Over 11 feet were close to a thousand.

One rose from Daddy + one from Grandma
A's first dance recital was everything I hoped it would be decades ago when I first imagined having a little girl to sit in the audience and watch at a Christmas performance. But after she cried all the way across the stage for their initial "parade" while being led by a parent volunteer, I wasn't too hopeful:

After this, it was a good two hours before she was up with her class. There were so many different classes and studios, so they had each group in a different classroom. Her usual nap-time came and went, and I quickly realized that the uncrustable and fruit snacks I brought for her weren't quite enough. I told her that her Daddy and Grandma were in the audience and that I would be too. "But I can't see you!" "You can't, but I'll be there, I promise. Just do your best" was my parting message for her. Much to my surprise, she nailed it! Although I would have been pleased with any performance by her, I was especially proud.

In the middle of the month, I went with my friend Jen to see Nine Inch Nails at the Hollywood Palladium, which is walking distance from her house. We purchased the tickets six months prior, and I remembered wondering at the time if I would be up for a night out once I had two kids, or would end up selling them like I did with Depeche Mode. I absolutely was and we had a blast. The best moment of the night came after the show when we inadvertently found ourselves in what was quickly turning into the VIP area. We noticed everyone had credentials around their neck. When an employee came by and asked if we had already shown our passes, it was fun to fib and say yes, allowing us extra time there to see what we could see. It would have been interesting if Trent Reznor came out and mingled, like the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls had at a previous show. But in reality, we didn't really care. We both had someone waiting at home (well, her someone had gone to retrieve items from coat-check) that was infinitely more important than a picture with a celebrity. So when another employee came round, I said no, we did not have the pass and they asked us to leave. A little tipsy, Jen put her arm around my neck and put her arm out in their direction, saying "Just hold on." Probably thinking we didn't want to leave, she surprised them while we looked around and appreciated the fact that we no longer cared if we were there or not, using some different choice language. Really, we don't give a....they heard her say as we trailed off, arm in arm.

Christmas came and went too quickly. We were able to host Christmas morning in our home. We were both also host to an awful bug, causing my husband and I to both be really sick the majority of Christmas day. Since we were both really sick on A's first Christmas, I guess we were keeping with tradition for his first.

We missed my Dad and brother who were in England, though we celebrated with them before they left and loved following their adventures through four countries. My sister-in-law B gave me a very touching gift, having asked my hubby for my Mom's handwriting which she had etched into a bracelet that read "I love you! Love, Mum" How Mom would have loved the day, and helping with her grandkids, who I was afraid to touch for fear of getting them sick. Instead, Uncle T stepped up to the plate, spending the night here to help care for Chompers. Luckily, the children did not catch it, nor did anyone else, leading me to believe it was food poisoning, not the flu, and sparking a great debate between my husband and I that will never truly be settled.
Christmas Morning



The month concluded with the baptism of our baby boy. We had a private baptism, which was nice because it was so much more personal. He wore an heirloom quality silk gown hand sewn in London that my Dad ordered for the occasion, paying homage to Mom. It is a gown that I hope he will use for the Baptism of his child(ren). Also in her honor, the priest poured the baptismal water over his head using the chalice that my Dad gave to my Mom on her 19th birthday. After the ceremony, we hosted a luncheon at Watson's in Old Town Orange.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

November Update

Most mornings, "Kiss attack! I want another kiss attack!" are the first words spoken by her after she wakes me with a "Mommy, please I can get up?" I'm able to wake up slowly with her, usually between 7:30 and 8:30 because Baby C is usually still asleep, or babbling quietly in his crib. She does go to sleep now, in her own bed and I'm able to leave while she's still awake and go into our master. This is pretty remarkable, given the fact I have been beside her until she fell asleep every day up until two months ago. Whenever I wake up, usually around 4am, I wake Chompers up to feed him and then go back to sleep in her bed. Although fast asleep, when I pick him up, he immediately starts rooting because he is so hungry, and I call him my hungry critter. It's such a nice compromise and balance, allowing me time to watch some Unsolved Mysteries at night and catch up with my husband, yet be there for her when she first opens her eyes and snuggle.

After at least 5 kiss attacks, she now goes potty on her own, brushes her teeth and checks on Chompers for me. She will either yell "Mommy he's awake!" or come back and tell me softly that he's still sleeping. Then, I scoop him up and put him in her bed. As I go downstairs, I hear her chatting away with him and if I'm lucky, a coo or a squeal in response. Then, I fix him a bottle, grab myself a zero carb Monster energy drink (I know, I know) and a cup of milk for her. Unprompted, she always has to "cheers" his bottle, and we all cuddle in bed, joined by Trevi, Bonnie and Clyde. Then I  brush her hair, pick out her clothes and then she dresses herself.
Finally, some colder weather!

Mornings weren't always this smooth. Toward the beginning of the month, I had to ask her several times to go potty after she woke up and sometimes I needed to raise my voice, which I don't like doing. Brushing her hair always elicited tears, and she only brushed her teeth when prompted by me and I dressed her. The idea of returning to work seemed insurmountable with me doing so much for her, and with her requiring so much prompting.

So, we started some layered reinforcements using this chore chart that I purchased on Amazon. When she completes one of these tasks, she gets to put the magnetic star on the board, which she enjoys, and I will sometimes give her an M&M as an immediate reinforcer We review the chart at the end of the day and if she has collected enough stars, she receives a token she can turn in the next day for TV time. When she completes a week's worth, she receives a small toy usually valued at $5. Her first pick? An Elsta Girl doll which we found on sale for $9.
But what about when she doesn't listen? That was mostly just the first day. Right now, Daddy is the enforcer, though I do need to be able to do this when he's not home. On day one, she was fantastic for half the day, until nap time. After nap, she didn't want to take off her pull-ups and use the potty. I gave her several prompts, even going upstairs to get ready for our nightly walk and she was still laying on the bean bag when I came back down. So I told her one more time that she needed to go do it or I would "get Daddy." Her response was "I don't want to" and so, unfortunately, I had to follow through. Daddy was summoned, and he carried her into the bathroom. She started wailing and asking for me. Then she started crying "Mommy! Mooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyy." Separately, we repeated the expectations. Nada. 

Now comes the tough part: Waiting it out. The worst thing you can do mid-meltdown is give in, though you probably really want to. I know I did. But this only reinforces the behavior and teaches them to escalate the next time they don't get their way. Dad closed the door and stood in front of it so she couldn't run to me. Inconsolable, she refused to remove her pull-ups and go potty. She started asking me for a hug, which I have asked her in the past when she's upset or having a meltdown because of this article. Calmly, my husband told her she would get one from me as soon as she was finished. More crying. After what felt like an eternity but was really only 10 minutes, he cradled her, lightly wrapping his arms around her. This was so adverse that she started saying "I do it! I do it!" and wriggled free to use the potty. 

Within moments, she was in my arms and calming down. On the walk, my husband made it a point to reconnect with her, asking if she wanted to go on his shoulders, sharing an orange and telling her several times that he loves her. Now when I threaten to "get Daddy" she knows it is not an empty threat. Not once did he hit her, but blocking her exit and not allowing her to seek me out was extremely effective.

Prior to this, her behavior was not bad, but it needed a tune-up. She now takes pride in doing these tasks on her own and being rewarded, freeing me from what was starting to sound an awful lot like nagging. Hopefully, it is instilling work-ethic and some independence in her too.

This month we also took a step back from television and screen time, never turning it on before noon. Did I write never? Okay, not usually. I also made a concerted effort to spend more unstructured time outdoors; either at the creek that we walk to, in our backyard, or in the wilderness outside our back gate. Putting TV on for her has always seemed like the easy way out and has never felt good to me.  Lately, it started creeping back in with more frequency. I was inspired by this family who blogged about their year outdoors in which they spent at least 3 hours outside every day. She still asks for TV, and I do let her watch at least one movie every week, but my response is now more likely to be "Not right now. Would you like to go make some more mud pies?" 

This month was filled with family, our first Thanksgiving in our new home, our 5th wedding anniversary and my husband's birthday. Grandma met Big Man for the first time, and we went to Wolf Hotel with her and the cousins. My husband's father came to stay with us for a bit for knee replacement surgery and will be here with us through the new year. 




She is continuing her weekly classes at St. Vincent de Paul, which she attends by herself now, giving me an hour and a half each week to kill with just baby. It's not enough time to drive home, so I usually sit in the parking lot or nearby coffee shop and work on my faith, by reading.

I'm still trying to lose my baby weight, and have at least 15 pounds to go. Since I know these will be the toughest, I signed up for a half marathon in March to hold myself accountable. The farthest I've been post-baby is 4 miles, and I'm planning to bump that up in December to at least 6-8. I usually run with both kids in the double BOB, and have taught A to say "Mush Mommy!" when I slow down. Occasionally, I will sneak out for a three-mile run when hubby, baby and A are all napping and it's a real treat to not push that beast!

Things I don't want to forget:




  • Asking her "Why are you such a good girl?" and hearing her say "Because I love you!"
  • The feeling of picking him up out of his crib around 4am and kissing his cheeks and his neck.
  • How he soothes himself by sucking on his left pointer finger and rubbing his head with his right hand.
  • "When I grow up I'm going to have a girl and name her Megan for you!"
  • Her asking me "Why do you love Daddy?" followed by "How did you meet?"

Friday, November 2, 2018

October Update

Photography by Julie MeGill
I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again in 6 months, but if I could freeze Baby A in time, this would be the age I'd pick. I am in love with everything about her right now, especially her developing sense of humor, our conversations and even her endless questions that always start with why? I love how she mispronounces words. She says or instead of your and her instead of she. For example, talking about her cat: "Her purring Mommy! That means her happy with me!" She randomly tells Dad and I that she loves us, and sometimes exclaims "Mommy, or (you're) the best!" ...usually, after I give her something she wants, like a cup of milk or the Trolls movie. She still loves Mommy's chin.

This month was filled with walks to the creek and the trail behind our house, petting zoos and pumpkin patches, two trips to Disneyland, weekly swim lessons, dance class, her running alongside us on our walks (racing Trevi), morning cuddles with the cats in bed, Bounce-U, two fall festivals, playdates in the street and Mass. 

We officially joined our local parish and I enrolled A in a weekly religious education class at St. Vincent de Paul. About a year ago, I asked our local church if they had any religious education for children under 5. They did not, surprisingly, and I also searched other nearby parishes. What about planting those seeds early? When she did just one week of VBS this summer with me, it made a huge difference. So I was so happy when my friend Stella told me about St. Vincent de Paul, and their religious education that starts at age three. I only wish I had learned about it sooner! She loved her first class and was excited to return. From their website:

Level 1 - for the young child (Ages 3-6)

The 3-6 year-old child is particularly capable of receiving and enjoying the most essential elements of our faith—the announcement of God’s love, in the person of the Good Shepherd, who died and is risen. Materials on the life of Christ and his teachings help make the mystery of God concrete for the child. The geography materials establish Jesus as a real person in the time and space and Israel as the land through which God realized salvation for all. Infancy narratives announce the Incarnation with the words of Scripture, moving from the Annunciation to the Birth of Christ, to the Flight into Egypt. The model of Jerusalem and the empty tomb are the starting point for the Paschal narratives which the child lives in a special way in celebrating the Liturgy of Light. Selected parables serve as keys to unlock the mystery of the kingdom of God and to nurture the child’s natural sense of wonder. How beautiful and precious is the kingdom of God! How small it begins! How slowly it grows! How magnificent it becomes! Through the arranging of the chalice, paten, altar cloth, candles, and crucifix, the child becomes familiar with the articles of the Eucharist. The child lives his relationship with God in a particular way in the liturgy—the child enters the mystery of the Eucharist through the most important gestures including the preparation of the chalice, the epiclesis and offering, and the gesture of peace. From these gestures, the Eucharist emerges as the Sacrament of the Gift. The child becomes acquainted with the historical character of the liturgy through the events of the Last Supper, Christ’s death, and His resurrection. The liturgical colors and calendar situate the child in the Church year, expressing the Paschal Mystery—Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. Our prayer table reflects the liturgical cycle with appropriate colors, prayers, and songs.

Baby C is two months now and is the happiest, 
easiest baby. He is content anywhere, and still an amazing sleeper. This month he started cooing, learned how to bring his hands together and is all smiles. He's wearing size six month clothing, weighs 15 pounds, usually drinks 6 ounces per feeding and is still sleeping through the night. I do wake him once to feed because he goes down in his crib at 9pm and we do not get him up until between 7:30 and 8:30. That's when we all snuggle in A's bed with the two cats and Trevi. They each have their milk and I drink a sugar-free monster, something I need to stop...next month.

I love our neighborhood and especially being at the end of a cul-de-sac. There are some older boys next door who are in 7th grade, and they often play basketball or ride their scooters out front with two younger girls from down the street. Baby A saw this one day and was so excited when the youngest, a girl who just turned 7, invited her to join in. She sort of took A under her wing, perhaps happy to not be the youngest anymore. Not wanting to impose, I thanked her for playing with A and she said "It's okay, they don't play with me anyway." It was both simultaneously adorable and awkward to watch A try so hard to fit in and make friends with them, calling out "Hi friends!" when she saw them the next day. We were then very happy to meet a girl the street up who is 4 and much closer in age. Their developing friendship is much more natural, and less like watching an episode of The Office.
 

We had our first rain in our new home, complete with a thunder and lightning show, a rarity here in Southern California.
The month ended with our haunted housewarming party the Saturday before Halloween. Because we chose this date, we were concerned about a low turn-out. But we had about forty adults and twenty kids. Baby A had so much fun running around the backyard and playing with all of her friends. Check out the decorations here.

She also had a blast trick-or-treating but has yet to eat any of her candy, even though I have offered it several times.


Monday, October 1, 2018

September Update

A rare moment awake
August was rough, but September was when we found our stride. At almost 6 weeks, Baby C started sleeping through the night! His last feeding is around 10pm, and he routinely goes until after 6am without waking. A few nights this month, I was actually able to log 10 hours of sleep! But then I started feeding him once each night, whenever I wake up, usually around 4am (and then I go back to sleep). He is truly a remarkable baby, because if he does wake up during the night, he doesn't cry. He also still sleeps most of the day, and other than the weight of him in his car seat or hassle of bringing the stroller, is easy to take around.


I enrolled A in a dance class close to our house, and she loves it. Because she's home with me now and not in daycare, we try to arrange a few playdates every month, and take trips to the library, Bounce-U, the zoo, Disneyland and Irvine Regional park. We also signed her up for weekly swim lessons which are pricey, but hopefully worth it.
Grandpa-Glennie continued their visits every weekend, and their grandpa from Oregon also came down for a few days. Our little boy is named after his father, so it was very special for me to see them meet for the first time.
Pumpkin patch & pony rides
Grandpa Swanek
Grandpa DeWitt
A week or so before my 6 week check-up, I began hiking on the trails behind our house and doing some super slow "running." Then, I began pushing the double B.O.B stroller which is really a workout! I'm averaging about 20 miles per week right now, with plans to increase that to 30.


I am a much more relaxed parent with the second child. And since I was already a relaxed parent with her, this does have me slightly fearing that I'm too relaxed and going to leave him somewhere. Especially because he is so quiet. I'm left wondering just what I did with all my free time back when I only had one helpless, tiny infant that slept all the time. I remember thinking it was a lot of work back then, but is nothing compared to having a toddler! It takes us almost an hour to get out of the house and has left me questioning whether I will ever be on time anywhere again.

Baby A started sleeping in her big girl princess bed again, with a little bribery. Her whole life, I have waited until she fell asleep to leave her room. As a baby, I held and rocked her until she was asleep and transferred her into her crib. When she was too big to do that, I would read to her and rub her back. But then she would sometimes hear me as I was leaving and call "Mommy." You have not experienced true fear until you have accidentally made noise sneaking out of your child's room. Later in my pregnancy, I would often fall asleep next to her while putting her down, and then wake up an hour later. Around the 9th or 10th month, I gave up completely and slept in her room all night, not wanting to 'waste' the 30 minutes it took to put her down.

Since moving into the new home, we slept in the same bed. It was easier and gave her the extra attention I felt she needed adjusting to no longer being an only child. I feared having her sleep on her own would be a tough transition or be a lot of work, and I delayed it until my husband brought it up. It's time I thought, but feared it wouldn't be easy.

On a whim, I drew up this non-Pinterest-worthy chart and promised her an Anna dress if she could sleep in her princess bed for 5 days. I didn't expect them to be in a row, but they were. I still read to her and rubbed her back, but left while she was still awake, freeing up a very valued 30 minutes to myself each night or with my husband.

This month, I slowed down and started playing with her more. More than ever before, she has been asking "Mommy, play with me." Maybe it is because we have more free time together now since she is not in school, maybe it is because she sees my attention on her baby brother, or maybe it is due to her developmental age. Whatever the cause, with seemingly limitless boxes to unpack and a newborn, I have to admit I sometimes dreaded these words. "Not now, A" or "Mommy can't play" were uttered one too many times. When I would oblige, she seemed to ask even more the next day.

Going against what I felt was right, I found myself asking should I be playing with her at all? Isn't that for kids her own age? Remembering stories of how my Mom used to play school with me when I was four, I knew the answer was that I should be playing with her, but I was busy, wasn't I? And being told which princess to be and ordered what to say stifled my playing creativity. Then late one night, I read this article. It only reaffirmed what was in my heart, and was exactly what I needed to read. I would be lying if I said I didn't get some tears in my eyes and committed to saying yes more to play.
We don’t reserve much room in our lives for fun and games anymore. Our days are filled with stress, obligations and hard wWe don’t reserve much room in our lives for fun and games anymore. Our days are filled with stress, obligations and hard work, and without realizing it, we are more disconnected from our kids than ever. Play is the work of the child and to connect with our kids, we must play with our kids.
Taking the time to put down our phones and realize that our kids need. us. to. play. It sounds silly, but all the mindless funny cat videos and random Tasty recipes will still be there years later; our children won’t.ork, and without realizing it, we are more disconnected from our kids than ever. Play is the work of the child and to connect with our kids, we must play with our kids.
Taking the time to put down our phones and realize that our kids need. us. to. play. It sounds silly, but all the mindless funny cat videos and random Tasty recipes will still be there years later; our children won’t.
So now, at least once a day, I sit and play with her. She will usually assign me a proncess or the Beast and tell me "Talk like the Beast!"

On the last weekend of the month, we picked GrandpaGlennie up and went to Oak Glen. It's a small mountain town with apple orchards a short drive from where I grew up. It was so much fun for me to see her explore the petting zoo, a place I remember going as a child.

Things I don't want to forget about this month:
  • Driving to the pumpkin patch listening to The Best Day with tears in my eyes. I'll never forget her excitement about hearing princesses and snow white in the lyrics and repeating it with a huge grin. The song not only reminds me of us, but also of my mother and I. She calls it "The Snow White Song" and loves to listen to it on repeat.
  • How she pronounces "your" as "or."
  • Saying "Oh come on!"
  • Having "Charles is awake" parties
  • Seeing him look up and smile at us on our evening walks
  • Her conversations with Trevi, when Trevi tells her that the princess bed is hers, or that she will be going on her trip to Finland this summer
  • Nicknames: Chompers, Big Man