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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Party Fit for a Princess

I know, I know...my daughter is not actually a princess. But she's my princess.
 
When I was planning her 1st birthday party, I justified it by telling my husband "Don't worry, she won't have another party until she's like, five." I wasn't intentionally lying to him, because I actually believed it myself. 

I enjoyed planning her first birthday so much that when I started to think about her only having a few big parties left (age 5, 10, 13...16, 18) it made me really sad! Okay, I'll do a puppy party, but just a small one I thought. Again, I was lying and again, I believed myself.

Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered that there are party planners for children's birthdays. When I saw Lesly Marquez's amazing work with Glam Spot Events, there was no turning back. But how were we going to afford it? After all, we're both on a teacher's salary. 


I saved my allowance every month since November to cover the cost of the planner. Edit: My husband would prefer that I call it my "mad money" so that he seems like less of a male chauvinist and more like a man about the 21st century. My husband parceling out money may seem antiquated to some, especially since we make the same...but trust me, it's for the best. He does all of the finances in our household because if it were up to me, I would spend our money on...well, things like this! Now, this doesn't mean that I wasn't able to sneak in an amazon order here and there, but it did mean no pedicures or new clothing for me. I know, I know quite the sacrifice. If the hash-tag 'first world problems' had not already been invented, this would be a great time to do it.

Because I told my husband I was "taking care of the planner" which included the tent and draping, centerpieces, dessert bar, some dog props, tables, chair and linens, he somehow thought that meant he was off the hook for costs the day of. "Oh, no - I have the planner covered, but you need to get the taco cart, balloons, and the puppies." He raised an eyebrow but mostly remained silent and if I could read his thoughts, they would have been This better be worth it...


But it was worth every penny. And at the end of the evening, when all our guests had left, our conversation went like this: 
Hubby: Everything was perfect. It reminded me of the Christmas parties my Mom used to throw. You know, I was thinking. If you're going with a Beauty and the Beast theme for her 3rd, we should project a movie outside for the kids who want to stay later. And if we're going to have a movie, we're going to need fresh popcorn...
Me: You're speaking my language. There's a vendor for that, and they can also spin cotton candy...or, we could have hot dogs!
Hubby: Book the planner, so we have the date set.

Vendor credits:
Styling by Glam Spot Events
Dessert by Sweets by Gigi
Puppies by http://pupsandreps.com/puppy-parties/
Photography by Ellie Marie
Food by My Taco Guy
Balloons by www.balloonsville.com 



How to Stop Being an Angry Mom?

Recently on Pinterest, this article on stopping anger toward your children by wearing hair ties came up in my 'picked for you' pins I might like.

Who on earth is angry toward their children, and why would Pinterest think I'm interested in that?! I was insulted. I mean, frustrated or tired sometimes sure - but actual anger? Anger that I would feel the need to curb by reading an article about using hair ties as a visual reminder to not berate my little girl...what the heck? You mean people actually feel this way toward their children? I was intrigued. 



With a little digging, I learned that the article came up as suggested because someone I know had pinned it. An overall, generally angry and unhappy person who happens to also be very rigid and controlling. Someone who doesn't smile as much as they used to. So that made sense, but still, it had 33 thousand shares!

I'm not sure if I was drawn to psychology because I am fascinated by the whys behind human behavior, or if studying psychology brought the interest out in me. I guess it's probably a combination of both, but this article got me thinking. How and why am I not an "angry Mom" and why are there people who are? What is the difference between us? Beyond just trying to curb or not express anger toward Baby A, I have never actually felt it - not ever, not once. Not when she took every bottle out of the spice drawer, dug in my plants and put dirt on her baby's face or ...? I cannot even think of another scenario that could even sound like something anyone would become angry with. I actually cannot imagine feeling that way toward her.

This is not to say that I will not at some point. But for me, there has to be intent behind something for it to upset me. And babies and toddlers exploring their world is to be expected, though messy it may be. But if she's in junior high and tells me she's going somewhere and intentionally goes somewhere else, well then you may find me with some hair ties around my wrists. I'll get back to you on that one.

Does the fact that I have not yet been angry toward her make me better than the 33 thousand moms who pinned this article? No, it just makes me different. And it lead me to examine the why behind that difference.

While I would like to think that I'm not ever angry toward my little girl because I regularly exercise (haven't in well over a month), eat well (more fast food than I care to admit lately), meditate (I did that once in my 20's) or love where I live (my dream is to move out of California), none of these things are factors. It isn't anything I'm trying to do or trying not to do, it just is.

But what is it that causes someone to routinely get mad at their child? The article is not about how to curb anger because they dumped nail polish on your new rug...but rather, routinely being angry over many different things. I would only be guessing at what causes that, but do recognize that there can be valid reasons such as postpartum depression or displacement of anger (ie actually mad at someone else that they cannot express it toward, like their husband or boss). All I can speak to, and reflect on, is why I am not. 

I do know that the fix cannot be something as simple as wearing hair ties on one arm and then moving them over to your other arm when you have violated your no-anger policy and lashed out at your child, as the article promises. 

How we treat our children is much more fundamental. It is much more ingrained in who we are, the life we lead, our perspective on children and, most importantly, how we ourselves were mothered. It is a beautiful mixture between nature and nurture that is so intertwined that the two cannot be separated.

Recognizing and shifting our perspective can be the key to doing things differently, if we want to. You cannot change something that you do not identify as needing to be changed. 

The life we lead. If we are generally happy and grateful for what we have, we are less angry. This doesn't mean that we need to have a lot to be grateful or have a fabulous, stress-free career, if such a thing even exists. It just means that we need to be thankful for what we have, and where we are. I have known people who have so much, yet it is not enough. Or, people who are very poor, but rich in spirit and in love. This was my Mom. For me, happiness also comes from being an authentic person. I show my true feelings and thoughts, and wear my heart on my sleeve. You know where you stand with me, and I'm not ever hiding anything. To me, its more work to hide how I feel anyway.

Our perspective on children. I remember my parents saying, on multiple occasions, that it is sad how people talk to their children in a way they wouldn't speak to their neighbors. I still remember their example too. "If you wanted your neighbor to help take out your trash, you wouldn't yell at them and tell them to do it. You would ask nicely." Children are to be valued and respected. Being treated with respect shouldn't start when the arbitrary age of 18 is reached and you can vote. They may be tiny humans, but they're human. Also, enduring all of the infertility treatments that we have had serves as a constant reminder to me what a miracle our Baby A is. And how lucky we are that she chose us, and we are her parents.

How we were mothered. My Mom was the most patient, sweet, selfless and loving person I have ever known. Even during my teen years, my mom and I remained unwaveringly close. She loved unconditionally, and never held a grudge or seemed mad at me. If she didn't agree with something, I knew it, but she moved on and was never cold or distant. She fully entered my world and knew my friends, interests and music. She was my Mom first, but also my best friend. To this day, when something amazing or heartbreaking happens, she is the first one that I want to share it with.

I didn't know what type of Mom I would be until I became one. I am relieved and a bit surprised as I sit here reflecting on these past two years that I am more like her than I ever hoped I could be. It wasn't until I saw this article that I even thought about it. Were this not the case, I would be pinning stuff like this too. Women who are raised one way and actively work to change it are to be applauded. Without realizing it, I am just doing what comes naturally to me. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

GIANT Bubble Recipe

My daughter absolutely loves bubbles! But because she is almost 2, she is no longer satisfied with me blowing bubbles for her to chase. She wants to blow the bubbles herself, which usually results in two things; no bubbles, and then bubble solution spilled or dumped in the back yard. The wands are small and hard for her tiny hands to handle. 

Plus, because we had been using 'cheap' bubbles given to us or purchased at the dollar store, it was hard for me to even produce bubbles, and they certainly weren't anything to write home about.

There had to be a better way.

I found the best recipe, which we tried after school last week. While we were able to produce a few huge bubbles, they certainly didn't remain in the air very long or float into other yards, like the original posting described. I was disappointed and re-read the recipe, trying to figure out what I did wrong.




Stir the remaining ingredients, being very careful not to create a lot of froth. Whoops! That was my mistake, because I actually shook the mixture! I made it again today, stirring instead, and it worked like a charm!

It made the biggest difference. Not only did she have a blast making gigantic bubbles herself, but she loved mixing up the solution and being involved in the whole process. She also likes the feel of it and exclaiming "bubbles!" Be sure to create own wand with two straws and some yarn. I poured the mixture into a metal baking pan that I usually use for enchiladas and it was the perfect size, with at least half of the solution left-over to use the next day or re-fill her bubble containers.

For the original posting and more details, head over to Happy Hooligans.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 cups water (distilled is best but tap water is fine)
  • 1/2 cup blue Dawn dish detergent I used “ultra concentrated”. Dawn original is even better.
  • 1/2 cup corn starch (corn flour in the UK)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (not baking soda)
  • 1 tbsp Glycerine (or if ya got it, personal lubricant)

MAKING YOUR HOMEMADE GIANT BUBBLE RECIPE:

  1. Dissolve cornstarch in the water, stirring really well.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients being very careful not to create a lot of froth. 
  3. Allow your mixture to sit for at least an hour, stirring occasionally when you see the cornstarch settling to the bottom.
Some of the cornstarch won’t dissolve completely, and may even settle to the bottom when you’re using your bubble mixture, but it won’t affect the quality of your bubbles.

THE MORE BUBBLES YOU MAKE, THE BETTER THE MIXTURE GETS! 

FYI: The first several bubbles popped immediately, and I was feeling deflated (no pun intended). We soon discovered however, that more we played with the bubble formula, the silkier it became.
Before we knew it, we were making huge bubbles.  When they broke free of our wand, they jiggled and wobbled through the air, gaining altitude until they floated up over the housetops and out of sight.
It was crazy-cool!

Monday, May 8, 2017

IVF #4

I am gearing up for our 4th and final IVF. All IVF cycles have been fresh transfers. We have never had any embryos left over to freeze, although I really wish we did! The cost of a frozen transfer is less than $1,000, while a new complete round runs about $15,000 (with medication). 

Our last IVF was supposed to be our last, but when we found out her little heart had stopped beating, all I could think about was trying again. If I had been able to transfer an embryo the very next day, I would have. While another round is a huge set-back financially, we do not want to wish that we had five years from now.

We were hoping to do this in May, but the proposed embryo transfer (if we are blessed enough to even have any to transfer) would have been the day before her 2nd birthday party, and I am supposed to be on bed-rest. So, we pushed it back one month, and here it is! Today I started birth control pills, and I will start my first stimulation medication in less than a month! I'm really excited and fortunate to have another opportunity to try.

Here is my timeline and protocol:

CETROTIDE STIMULATION INSTRUCTIONS
Megan Swanek
IVF/ICSI/AH
Please contact me to schedule the financial consult with Vanessa.  
The payment for IVF is due by 5/31/17.


  • Start birth control pills on day 3 of May period. Take one pill daily at the same time. Do not take Placeboes. Start new pack if needed. Email me on day 1.
  • Last day of Birth control: 5/31/17.


  • Office visit for Ultrasound and lab 5/31/17. Please bring in the signed consent.
Please review medication teaching online before your appointment at www.freedommedteach.com
  • Please stay on Vitamins
  • Take 1 baby aspirin daily starting 6/6


  • Start stimulation Medications.  _6/5/17     Inject the following stimulation drug(s) daily


PM Drug Gonal-F          375 IU x 10 days
PM Drug Menopur 75IU x 10 days


  • Office Visit for Ultrasound and lab on 6/9/17.


  • Please start Cetrotide in the morning of  6/11/17 (4 days only).


  • Office Visit for Ultrasound and lab on 6/12/17.


  • Office Visit for Ultrasound and lab on 6/14/17.


    • Take Ovidrel injection and start Doxycycline as directed.


  • Anticipated Egg Retrieval on: __6/16/17.   We need your partner’s sample on this day. You will start Crinone, Estrace and Medrol day after the procedure.


  • Anticipated Embryo transfer on Day 5: 6/21/2017.


  • Bed rest for 3 days after Transfer


  • Pregnancy blood test is on    7/3/17

Sunday, May 7, 2017

#SuperSimone

This is a special kind of heartache, known only to Moms who struggle with infertility. The longing for a child, and the fear that one will never be conceived. The continual disappointment each month when the test only has one line. 

But then, there is an entirely different kind of heartache know only to Moms who lose a child to cancer. A different type of heartache that I cannot even begin to imagine. Meet Simone: 


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
#SuperSimone
Simone was born in 2013 and left this earth for heaven in 2015, a few months after her second birthday. She was just a few months older than my daughter is now. In her eyes I see the same light that my daughter has; when she smiles, her whole face lights up.

I never met Simone, but I did have the privilege of meeting her Mom this week, and now I know who Simone got her strength from.

Jennifer (name changed) and I met on facebook in March, thorough an IVF abroad group. We were corresponding about the same clinic in Prague that I tried to go to this summer. She recently had an embryo transfer, and received a BFN (big, fat negative). I noticed her profile picture had a little girl with no hair, and was obviously battling cancer. But as I continued to look at her profile photos, I saw this:


Tears immediately began flowing and I messaged her, asking if she lost her daughter. Yes, she was diagnosed with leukemia at 11 months and we lost her at 26 months. I'm shattered without her. This was her first message to me. What do you say? What can you say? I mustered what I could.

Me: I cannot imagine. I just cannot. When did you lose her? What can I do to help you or honor her?
J: Finally got the courage to try IVF because I do want another. Struggled feeling like I'd be replacing her and finally got okay with it after praying and believed she would send me a message that I should go on and have a baby and nothing but a big failure...

She had done IVF at a clinic in Prague very recently and had just received a BFN (big, fat, negative). She questioned doing IVF again, and wondered how much more heartache she could take. Her first two daughters were conceived naturally. Now she was searching for IVF, in case her or her husband's genes contributed to her daughter's leukemia. She seemed to feel better when I explained that for my first IVF we transferred 3 embryos and none of them took. And for my second, two. 

Just because one embryo didn't implant, didn't mean that the next would fail. I urged her to try again. I suggested trying my doctor, but never imagined that she would actually consider making the 2,000 mile trek out here. 

She wanted an over-the-phone consultation, and my doctor was able to get her in that very next week! And much to my surprise, she decided to come out here and transfer one AA grade embryo with PGS testing and assisted hatching. I was so surprised to get this message from her the day after her consult:

I can't believe the randomness of you and I connecting on FB and you reaching out about your clinic and doc and literally like 2 months later I'll be transferring there!!

Neither can I! I want so much for her embryo transfer to take. I feel partially responsible for her coming here and spending $9,000 instead of just a few thousand in Prague (plus travel expenses). If it does not work I will feel horrible but if it does work, I will definitely know in my heart that us meeting was not random.

I offered for her to stay at our place, but she had a family member here in the area. After work earlier this week, I picked her up and we went for dinner and talked for hours. Like a good date, I didn't want the night to end! She told me about how her daughter was first diagnosed, and how she did not spend a night at home for the next 83 days. I didn't realize that when newly diagnosed, children literally live at the hospital.

Over our conversation, I made a commitment to do some volunteering with children who have cancer in the future. Not just to honor Simone and her Mom, but because my Mom never felt sorry for herself when she had cancer. Why? I still remember verbatim what she said: "I've had a good life. But there are children who have cancer. Children."

Childhood cancer is seriously underfunded compared to many other types of cancers, and yet finding a cure and better treatments for innocent children should be a top priority. 

My new and dear friend transferred her embryo this week and is back home now in the dreaded two-week-wait. She will likely test early, and I'll update here with a comment when we know. I feel a bit privileged to be one of the few people who knows that she did IVF. Even her family member that she stayed with while out here in California does not know, and neither do most of her friends. She does not want them knowing in case it doesn't work. I'm praying that it does.

Visit Super Simone's facebook page.

Click here to order Simone's signature Blue "boo" Angel nailpolish and bring awareness to childhood cancer. Item is currently out of stock, but more are on order.
Traci

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

22 Months

One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ 
~J.M. Barrie

How can it be that my little baby is almost two years old? Before I had children, I would read or hear mothers lamenting the passing of time. When I had her, countless people advised me to enjoy her being a baby, and warned that it would pass far too quickly. I sit here today, with the realization that they were right. I feared they would be, and enjoyed the heck out of each baby-phase as much as I could, but it passed right by anyway, replacing my baby with a full-blown toddler. And still, I am powerless to stop it. 

But how could I trade this tiny person who runs and chases me, gives spontaneous kisses, says a sincere, tiny "Oh no!" when watching Beauty and the Beast and speaks full sentences to me, of which I cannot understand a single word, for that helpless baby that she once was? Her personality and sense of humor are shining through and I am loving every minute of it.

The awareness of the passing of time does serve to help me savor it. For example, when I get home from work, sometimes the last thing I want to do is be dragged by the hand and commanded to fit myself into a very small space in the farthest corner of our yard. "Mommy, house!" she orders. Would I rather change my clothes or sit and look through the mail? Sometimes, yes. But the "Not now, A - I have things to do" response is rarely uttered. Instead, I remind myself that she will not be like this forever, and that there may even come a time when she doesn't want me right by her side.

The first weekend of her 22nd month found us at Irvine Park Railroad for her first real Easter Egg hunt. I was surprised how well she did! About 5 minutes before Auntie Andrea, Casey, Bill, my Dad and brother arrived, she threw up all over me. She obviously was not feeling well, yet still hunted eggs with the best of 'em, acquiring more than her 8 egg limit. I tossed some back when she wasn't looking, so she could gather more. 

Her Dad put her down for a nap, and Andrea and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. Can you believe I escaped my childhood without seeing or even knowing the plotline? I fell in love with the story, and it instantly became my favorite Disney movie. I love the message it sends girls; to be smart, a little different, and acquire a voracious appetite for books. I love that Belle is discerning and does not blindly accept the first marriage proposal or, worse yet, give up her voice for a man she doesn't even know. 

I went home and put the Disney movie in my Amazon cart, as well as the soundtrack, which we have listened to non-stop all month. A sure sign that I've changed as a Mom: My new Depeche Mode cd remains in it's case even when she's not in the car. I knew my indoctrination was working the moment she applauded after one of the songs and asked for "More? More?" She also started exclaiming "Beast! Beast!" randomly, and sometimes following that with a growl. On 4/4, we were driving to school and she actually sung just the 'beast' portion of the title track. My heart melted. Of course I have already switched the theme for her 3rd birthday from Alice in Wonderland to Beauty. Good thing it's over a year away...

She continues to be affectionate, one day giving me 5 kisses before we were even out of bed to start the day! She will routinely kiss Trevi, her dolls, Daddy and Granka and Uncle Glen. Once we're out of the car and I'm carrying her into daycare, I am sure to get a very tight squeeze around my neck when I ask for a hug. One of the most adorable moments was at the end of Beauty and the Beast, when the two main characters are locked in a passionate kiss. She turned to me and kissed me!

She is loving the spa, and we have been in there almost every day after work! At the beginning of the month she was starting to go under water just a bit, and practicing floating with support, on on us.

For spring break, we flew to Oregon to stay with my in-laws. For over a week, I had been practicing "Dupa" with baby A, and she was getting pretty good at saying it. My husband told me that Dupa was Polish for grandfather, and I thought it would be good for her to have two different names for her grandfathers, to avoid confusion, and her expectation that my Dad would be up in Oregon. It was almost 11pm when we arrived at the house from the airport. Autumn's Grandma who picked us up was still in the car, but Baby A and I hurried in so that I could get her upstairs and into bed.
Best-dressed baby in the airport!

Patiently waiting at the kitchen table to greet us was my father-in-law, who I hadn't seen since November. "Look Baby A, it's your Dupa! Look, can you say Dupa?? Hi Dupa!" I proudly exclaimed, demonstrating my knowledge of his heritage and culture. He looked at me, a bit puzzled, as my husband said "Tell my Dad why you're calling him that." 

"Well, because that's what you called your grandfather. It's Polish for Grandpa." I replied. Shaking his head and looking down, he said "Nooooooooo!" and my husband started laughing. "Tell her what it means, Dad!" he prompted. "It means bottom. But the not so nice version." 

I love that my husband can still pull something like this off. Even though we know each other so well, I had no idea that he was tricking me!

We had not been there since our visit at Thanksgiving. At that time, she was afraid of pony, and cried when we placed her on top, even briefly for a photo. But this time, not only was not afraid of pony, but she was excited! After a moment on Butterscotch's back, she wanted to sit on the bigger horses; all of the bigger horses! This made me so happy. She enjoyed being by pony, and was comfortable brushing her and petting her. As I spent more time with Butterscotch, my comfort level increased as well. I went riding one day while she napped, and we took Butterscotch for a walk around the property with her. 

Baby A loved tackling the stairs at her grandparents' house. I was surprised and impressed by this, because I know other kids who are much older that still cannot navigate stairs. In fact, her Dupa, er...Grandpa, thought that she must be about to turn 3 instead of 2, because of how well she independently goes up and down the stairs, all by herself. I started out by spotting her, but after a day ow two she went up (or down) all by herself, without me even watching. 

She also loved riding in the larger gator with us, and the mini Power-Wheels version. She does not yet have any concept of steering, and didn't flinch when she narrowly missed the garage by an inch or two, as she sat back, still munching on her piece of bread.

Uncle Ben loves holidays as much as I do!
I love the rain up there in April, and letting her splash in puddles. We did have several days of sunshine, and some rainbows, too. Other than a night out at the symphony with my in-laws, we stayed at home which was really relaxing. She had some good quality time with her grandparents and also Uncle Ben, who helped her with an indoor egg-hunt, and gave her a special Thumper rabbit. 
Playing with Grandma in her room.
Bye Grandpa!
The day after we returned, it was Easter and we had her cousins over. She enjoyed spending time with them. It was only the second time she had seen them this year, but the following Sunday they came over again, and it was so neat to see her level of comfort, fun and familiarity increase. She seemed excited beforehand when we told her "Your cousins are coming over" and she even learned to say "John-Paul." A few days later, she randomly asked for him which was quite endearing. 

Around the middle of the month, I had wide excisions surrounding some atypical moles. One of the moles was on the bottom of my foot, and so the surgery left me with limited mobility. For well over a week, I was not able to even put pressure on my foot, and had to use a walker. I used it as an opportunity to get down on her level, literally. We sat in the backyard and she had popsicles (two!) while I pulled weeds and watered. We colored on the floor, and I read up to 20 books in one sitting. Hearing her say "More book" is music to my ears.

It would have been easier to put on Peppa Pig or Beauty and the Beast, but when I realized that we had made it through Saturday with no TV, it became a goal for Sunday as well. Instead, we just played and played. The day seemed longer, which I liked.

At the very end of her 22nd month, she transitioned into the next classroom at daycare, with the 2-3 year old kids. Originally, they were talking about Sebastian and Isabelle moving over, but Baby A did so well on the trial days that they decided to move her instead of Sebastian. When Sebastian saw myself or my husband he asked for her by name or "where she?"

The ratio of kids to teachers is much higher (up to 12 children per teacher, for a total of 24 kids and 2 teachers) but they only have 8 per group right now, for a total of 16 with the two teachers. 

We were excited because the move up means a savings of $300 every month!

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • Night-time snuggles. Getting her to bed is still one of my favorite times of the day.
  • Saying "Thank you" when she hands me her empty bottle and "Excuse me" when she needs to get by.
  • Some new words and phrases: "Mommy coming, Daddy baba, Trevi house." Too many words to list now, almost one a day. I love that any flying insect is a bee, and snails are "Mommy's friends."
  • Leaving daycare one day, it was really windy and she started belly laughing, so I started laughing too, which caused her to laugh even more.
  • How she will wrap her arms around Daddy's neck and pull him in close for a kiss.
  • We stopped using her baby monitor. When she wakes up, she knows where to find me! The only child-proofing we have (ever done) is one monkey lock on the hall door. She usually sleeps through the night in her own bed, but sometimes still wakes up in the middle of the night and we snuggle. I'm still a bit sad when she sleeps straight through.
  • Our evenings in the hot tub, and jumping off her special seat.
  • Running around chasing me, or being chased.
  • When her friend Olivia stops by and knocks on the door. She lives down the street, and when her parents take her on a walk now, she asks to go to our house which I love. Earlier this week, the girls started learning to play tag, and ran around holding their Daddy's hands while I sat on the bench and watched.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

21 Months

Her 21st month started with some very warm weather after all of the much-needed rain that we've been having here in California. It felt like spring arrived weeks early, and even before daylight savings had begun.

She continues to be an absolute delight. After an action-packed morning at Pretend City with her Grandpa and Uncle Glen, she went down for a record 3 1/2 hour nap. When she woke up, we took her with us to have dinner at our friend's place. 

But first, it was time to turn around her car-seat, a definite milestone.
Newly married and home owners, Doug and Jessica don't have kids just yet, but are both so good with them. As the evening progressed, a few more friends arrived. Although we were the only ones with a child, we didn't feel like 'those' people because she was so well-behaved. She had her very first drumstick, courtesy of Uncle Doug. We left by 7:30pm, (okay, now we're 'those' people) and she loved the ride home because she now has a much better view.

My brother turned 32 on March 8th. Although she's been "jumping" for months now, it was on his birthday that she actually got off the ground. We all jumped together in the back yard before leaving for Dave and Buster's and she was so proud of herself. 

Glen's birthday was a good excuse to start my cake-baking skills, since I want to make the cake for her birthday. She had a blast running around and looking at all the lights and pressing buttons. 

Our week was really hectic and so I planned a low-key weekend with *gasp* no plans. I had no idea how much I would love staying home for two whole days! It was revolutionary, really. I was able to get some organizing done, continued cleaning out the garage and regaining our workout space, did some gardening, went on our walks. Wait a minute, every weekend could be like this, I realized. I'm an adult and I can say no! This sounds so simple...but, I never thought of how I was in control of preventing us from being too busy. Each event I would commit to individually sounded fun but collectively, they become overwhelming, and never leave us with a free weekend. Since I'm the one who sets our social calendar, I realized it was within my power to change it and I made a vow to do it. My husband is excited about the prospect, but is reluctant to believe I can really do it.

In keeping with that commitment, I planned a Disneyland trip with her Thursday right after work, instead of on the weekend. We rode Alice in Wonderland and spent the rest of our time in Toon Town. She loved Minnie's house. 
On Friday, we had Aunt Cassandra and Dell over for corned beef and cabbage, just like Mom used to make.

Our only plans the following weekend were a visit to Marina Park with Granka and Uncle Glen. I love how, in this video, she walks confidently off to go down the slide again, but comes back for me saying "Mommy, slide." She started putting two words together this month. Other examples include "Trevi no" and "Mommy coming" when she wants me to go somewhere.

This time, she didn't wade in the water, but loved the park area. We all climbed up on the lifeguard tower, and she didn't want to come down.
We finally had our hot-tub fixed, and are left wondering why we didn't do it sooner. She absolutely loves it, and asks for "bubbles" or "swimming" when we get home. We've been in there for an hour every single night since it was fixed. 

For the first 10 minutes on the first night, she had a death-grip on me. I told my husband that pretty soon, she probably would not want to get out. I didn't think it would be that very same night!

So far, she's not comfortable going under water. But she has been walking on the bottom and on the sides while holding on. She will also "jump" to us from her special seat that we say is designed just for her because it's higher than all the others. She loves playing with the jets, and the lights at night. I'm hoping that as she becomes more comfortable, we can teach her to float on her back and some basic swimming techniques. Water safety is going to be an important thing for her to have because of our visits to Oregon.

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • Crawling around the house on our hands and knees, pretending to be horses with Daddy. Stopping to eat grass along the way.
  • "Introducing" me to her friend at daycare. I was by her side when another girl walked up to us. She turned and looked at me and said "Anya." I heard Anna, and asked staff, who nodded and smiled with the slight correction "Anya."
  • New words: Almost too many to list now...Trump, Daisy, Coco, Sasha (dog-sitting), tree, food, swimming. She's also starting to put two words together, like "Trevi no" and "Mommy car." Previous words: Yellow, purple, one, two, three, yea, please, sorry, red, boo(blue), Granka, feet, her name, thank you, nose, some,  bike, ball, bubbles, TV, cream, ciao, boat, plane, Mommydada (one word), shoe, meow, Trevi, apple, yummy, pay (while handing Daddy's credit card), Sunshine, cool, ouchie, book, cold, rawr, baa, animal, Dory, bow, bee, house, car, Dada, cat, tea (and some letters of the alphabet), fish, eye, cheese, no, mommy, more, mooo, ruff, baby, my, Nana, uh-oh, MoMo, baba, hi, bye, dog).
  • Sharing tea with me. When she sees it in the fridge, in mom's jug she will ask "Tea? Tea?" She likes starbucks passion fruit, or mint. I give her anything that is caffeine-free...so much better than juice, which is just sugar.
  • Walking around and saying "cheese" while trying to take selfies with my phone.
  • How she points her index finger when she says "no, no" and moves her hand.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

20 Months

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.”  – Charles Brower

As a child, I remember "discovering" what I was certain was a new species. It was really just a millipede, but because I had never seen one before, in real-life or print, to me it was a brand-new discovery that I was certain to become famous for. I could barely contain my excitement as I rushed into the kitchen to my Mom, screen door slamming shut behind me. I can't remember if it was my idea or hers, but somehow I ended up calling our local library to tell them of my discovery, and to gather more information. What stays with me today is what she didn't do: laugh or say don't be ridiculous. Mom always supported, fostered and encouraged my ideas and imagination. 

This is how I aspire to be with Baby A. I do my best to encourage her exploration and curiosity, even if especially if it means getting messy in the garden or with art. Or, if her idea is for me to go in her house with her for the 20th time, I oblige. She can't articulate most of her ideas with words just yet, but they're there just the same, and my job is to encourage them.

This is my most lengthy monthly update yet. It seems like she is growing and changing faster than ever before. Her language acquisition is through the roof, with a new word every few days. This is the first month that I have had a hard time keeping up on documenting her updates. 

The loss of my pregnancy was a harsh reminder of how lucky and blessed we are to have her. She truly is a miracle unfolding, and it is a privilege and honor to be her Mom. She's trying more than ever to communicate with me, although sometimes, I have no idea what she's saying. She will look me right in the eye and say a whole sentence containing no recognizable words. So, I'll smile and nod, or ask her to take me and show me. 
The first weekend of her 20th month we stayed busy, to keep my mind off of things. So right after breakfast, before her dance class, it was craft time! 
Although I do let her watch TV or a movie a few times a week, I don't want it to become routine. Later in the month she started leading me by the hand to the couch and asking for "TV?" ...a sure sign that she needs less of it! On the flip side, she will also bring over a book and say "book!" which is her was of promoting me to read it to her.

After craft time, it was time to get ready for her dance class. I loved seeing her perfect little ballet slippers on those perfect little feet! The new class (still run through the city, but a different instructor) was still a lot more structured than I would like. She's great at collecting or returning items such as the princess wand or bean bags, but is unable to do certain things, like walking across the room on her tip-toes or skipping.




After class, I let her wander around a grassy area/park. I had no idea the class was right next to the free Adventure Playground, and she enjoyed this so much that the next week during dance, she kept pointing to the door. I was blown away by everything it featured, and how large it was! 
  • Tree House
  • Sensory garden
  • Climbing poles and stumps
  • Slides
  • Art wall
  • Kids fort zone
  • Meadows and natural play areas

The playground proved to be more of a draw over the next few classes and we proudly became dance-class dropouts. Saturday mornings are meant for fun, and she wasn't having much of it in this class.

On Sunday morning, "Granka" and Uncle Glen visited just before 9am and she had a blast with them, just in our back yard. My Dad relates to her so well, and acts like a big kid with her - chasing her and getting on her level, which she loves. He never can seem to catch her, though.
My husband and I kept busy the rest of the day, finally getting to cleaning out the garage to regain our workout space, and donating a bunch of stuff while she napped. We walked 3 miles with her in the stroller when she woke up, and did some gardening. 

Every night, she falls asleep in her bed with me snuggling beside her. I sneak out once she's fast asleep. She has never been put down on her own, and I like it this way because of the security and closeness it brings. She has been sleeping straight through the night since she was two months old, but recently has been waking up once between 1 and 5 a.m., I think due to her cough. That Monday morning found her awake at 5:15 a.m. But before you feel sorry for me, I have to admit that I sort of enjoy it because we get special cuddle time, and I'm usually able to fall back asleep. 

I knew that was going to be a tough week with a new semester starting and my caseload of 700, on top of the recent loss. As she was laying beside me that morning, I asked "Do you want to lay on Mommy?" and she quickly scooted herself on top of me like a starfish. Then I asked if I could have a hug and she gave me a hug with her whole body - including her legs. It was all I needed to get me through the day. I felt like I could live on that alone. No food or water needed; that would be enough to sustain me.

Exercise has been key to helping regulate my emotions and hormones, and I started forcing myself to run 3 miles almost daily. I try to run on my 30 minute lunch break, but wasn't able to squeeze one in that day. After work, we went on a run to some local goats (Lyle and Larry) that are, conveniently, 1.5 miles away. Running in general is tough for me right now and pushing 50 pounds (she weighs about 25, and so does the stroller) makes it even harder. My pace was slow and we stopped when I saw wildflowers so she could pick one and I as I said the color. I was amazed and surprised when she repeated "yellow" back to me!

Her new word reminded me of the Coldplay song by the same name, and so we started listening to it in the mornings. We had an impromptu dance party that next morning as I was cooking breakfast for her. Right now, her dancing is bending her knees followed by turning around in a circle. And it's just about the cutest thing ever. 


She had her second big meltdown outside of Marshall's that week (first was on a flight to Oregon) when I abruptly took away a ball she put in her mouth that suddenly seemed like it could be a choking hazard. To her, I seemed like a big bully taking away something she was so clearly enjoying and her frustration came with not being able to explain this (or, get me to give it back). In response, she ended up wailing, on the ground. When I picked her up to walk to the car, she used her body weight and threw herself backwards. By the time she was strapped in her car seat she had settled down, but of course all of this had to happen in front of my friend Christian, whose little baby boy was being being quite angelic by comparison. Fortunately, these incidents are super rare, and usually blamed on an interrupted nap at daycare. Thankfully, they're also quite normal, and blow past faster than a summer storm.

We walk to El Torrito most Wednesdays for their all-you-can-eat enchiladas. That first week, we met our friends/neighbors there. They have a girl a few months older than Baby A. After our meal, it was so cute to see them throwing coins in the fountain, and giving each other a hug goodbye. She asked Daddy for more change, but we were all out, so he said That's it...we don't throw money away. Without thinking, I quickly responded with Unless it's on IVF. Being able to make this joke, we both realized that I was starting to feel better and more like myself. 

I say this every month, but once again, this is my favorite age. She is understanding so much more and interacting. I never want to forget reading her Peter Rabbit and how very into the story and concerned she became when she realized Mr. McGregor was after Peter. She furrowed her brow, and turned the page back, wanting more of an explanation. Over animated, I explained that he was very angry because Peter was eating his cabbages and made the eating motion with my hands and mouth. "Eat?" she asked, putting her hand to her mouth and seemed satisfied with this response.

That weekend, she was very excited when grandpa and Uncle Glen arrived. I had been telling her since the night before that they were visiting. So when I said "Grandpa is here" she let out two squeals and a danced around in a circle.

On February 6th she said 'one, two, three' on her own for the first time, and she wasn't even repeating after me. We were getting ready for bed, and I asked her to count the lady bugs. I was so surprised when she did! The next day, I found out they were learning to count at daycare.
On Valentine's day, we had plans to have prime rib at Gulliver's, where we went for our
 first Valentine's in 2012. But little girl was really sick and so after extended care, we had prime rib picked up from at Coco's instead. Rather than being disappointed, we were both keenly aware of how lucky and blessed we were to have the "problem" of cancelling our reservations because of our sick child. Instead, what if we had no child? I gave my husband an avocado tree and he surprised me with an amazing ring that already looks like it's an heirloom piece. We talk about what he gives me being hers someday, and it brings me a level of comfort knowing that my jewelry will someday belong to her. I have so few pieces that belonged to Mom and I treasure them, especially when I have photos of her wearing them.

   

My Dad's 72nd birthday fell after Valentine's and so she was able to get in an extra visit that week with Granka. I love to see how much they're bonding, and that she will now rush into his arms, and also Uncle Glen's. She also gives them kisses when asked. We had the week of February 20th off. Usually a time of travel, we stayed home and recovered from our colds. We had our daily walks, lots of art time and squeezed in a trip to Disneyland. We watched their Frozen play, and I was surprised that it held her attention for the whole hour. She sat calmly on my lap and really seemed to enjoy it. 

We have never left her with a sitter before, ever. When some people find this out, they tell us that we need to. But I never feel like I need a break from her and really never want to do anything that doesn't include her. On the rare occasions that I do, I just miss the heck out of her. As for alone time, my husband and I are able to have time without her a few hours almost any night we want, since she is usually asleep by 7:30. We were never big on going out pre-parenthood, and watching a series we're following while snuggled on the couch sounds even more appealing than a noisy bar these days.

We were going to leave her for the first time this month, to visit my friends in LA, but she was recovering from a cold and so Dad elected to stay home with her instead. It was nice to catch up with friends my uninterrupted, without needing to keep her in my peripheral vision and dart off mid-conversation. 

We kept up on our outdoor activities and gardening time, with TV used sparingly. One of my favorite activities this month was the sweet-pea teepee that we planted. I can't wait for them to grow, and plan to plant them much earlier next time! I love how much she loves her little houses, and how once we're inside, she will yell "Trevi dog!" and clap her hands until Trevi comes running, like she's doing in this photo.

This has been quite a month. While it was a tough start, it ended well and left me with a new perspective on our little miracle unfolding, and just how amazing it is to be her Mom.

Things I do not want to forget about this month:
  • Still rubbing my chin for comfort.
  • Her reaction on 1/9 when I picked her up from daycare. She squealed like I would if you told me I had won the lottery, then turned to the kids in the class and exclaimed "Mommy!!" before running over to me and hugging me tightly around my neck.
  • Asking for frozen yogurt "Cream? Cream?"
  • New words: Yellow, purple, one, two, three, yea, please, sorry, red, boo(blue), Granka, feet, her name, thank you, nose, some,  bike, ball, bubbles, TV, cream. Previous words: Ciao, boat, plane, Mommydada (one word), shoe, meow, Trevi, apple, yummy, pay (while handing Daddy's credit card), Sunshine, cool, ouchie, book, cold, rawr, baa, animal, Dory, bow, bee, house, car, Dada, cat, tea (and some letters of the alphabet), fish, eye, cheese, no, mommy, more, mooo, ruff, baby, my, Nana, uh-oh, MoMo, baba, hi, bye, dog).
  • Saying "some" and then pointing to my cough drops, then her mouth.
  • Leading my by the hand places, like into her house. 
  • Cooking food for me in her kitchen
  • Running down the hallway after bath-time to Dad, and back again
  • Asking "TV?" and her uncontrollable giggles when I pretend-yelled "No TV!"
  • Exploring the side yard and finding the bamboo sticks.