Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our house

And now for something completely different...

I feel like all of my posts have been re-iterations of the same themes, like I am a broken record. I have decided to try to do at least one post a month that has nothing to do with the kids. Perhaps I will write about something else going on in our life, or maybe even myself (gasp!). For the first branch out post, I will talk about what we have done to our home in more detail than anyone needs.

We have spent the last year and a half remodeling our house. The remodel has been finished now for about 6 months, but it has taken additional time to decorate and live in the now dust-free environment. We love love love the changes we have made. We moved in to this 100 year old house 4 years ago and we loved it because it was mostly remodeled--the kitchen and all the baths were pretty much brand new and tasteful. The bedrooms were large with big closets (so hard to find in an old house) and there was a lot of character--woodwork around stained glass windows, original fireplace, built-ins. But, what we didn't love was the pink carpet and paint in the living/dining space and the antique-y looking brass lighting fixtures. The worst was that we had no fridge in the kitchen! The previous owners were retired and when they did the kitchen remodel, they put in drawer style fridge and freezers, under the counter, so there was no free-standing fridge. Its probably okay for older people, but for a young family, it was a major pain in the ass. We liked their choices for cabinets, counters, etc. so we didn't want to go through the expense of a full-on kitchen remodel, so we re-arranged things and added cabinets. We also, blew out the back wall of the house and added an eat-in space to the kitchen, which has been a great space for messy meals (hello, kids!) and crafts. It also really opens up the floor plan. We also added a deck for outdoor space and re-landscaped, eliminating 90% of our ridiculous foliage and putting in edibles--fruit trees and a veggie garden and easy to maintain shrubs/flowers. In the Pacific NW the rain makes things grow like crazy, plus we never get too cold, so things grow year round--we learned the hard way that a big garden is way too much work.

We are so pleased with our changes, especially the eat-in space, where the kids can be kids and its easy to clean up. Our most recent update is that we finally got a real bed! Yes, we are in our mid-30s and we finally bought a bed and got the mattress up off the floor. I suppose now we are grown ups!

PICS! (disclaimer: its usually way more cluttered--I picked up for the pics)

The crazy part is, I took these pics to document our remodel but also because we are thinking about moving--hopefully not to a fixer!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Lacey!

One of the many surprises about motherhood is how emotional I feel on my kid's birthday. A mix of happy, nostalgic, a little sad and proud. A birthday really makes you look back at how they have grown and milestones they have achieved and it also makes you look forward to the year ahead, the good times you will enjoy together and the excitement of new discoveries. Sweet Lacey--you are TWO! I can't believe it!

Crap, I am already crying.

After we had Lana I wasn't entirely sure I wanted another baby, but Lacey, you have been such a blessing and a treasure to our family! I almost can't remember life before you came. Its true how your heart just opens up and loves the second baby, even if you think you couldn't possible love another human being as much as your first born. But now I know the truth--the love I have for you is unending and pure.

Lacey, you are sweet, sweet, sweet. At 2 years old you give hugs and kisses, just because, or when Lana is crying or if we ask for one. You love to laugh--anything that is funny to you just cracks you up and I never get tired of your belly laugh. You TALK, oh my goodness, the talking--in sentences and paragraphs. Of course, I usually need to translate for strangers, but we can usually understand your words, even the messed up ones like "aebee gub" (lady bug). You are so excited for your birthday--you tell everyone that you are "almost two", that you will have "docolate cake" (chocolate cake) that you will "share Nana" (share with Lana) and "party hats". You also sing Happy Birthday to yourself--"Happy Birtday to you, mei mei..."

At two you know a lot of stuff. You count from 1-13, then skip to 18, then clap. You can sing your ABCs. You can identify numbers 1-5 and a handful of letters. You also sing Twinkle twinkle, Row row row your boat and of course Happy Birthday. You know all your colors including the weird ones like pink, black, white and gray. You are quite obedient most of the time, you are helpful in cleaning up, you say please, thank you and sorry quite often. You also like to use the potty sometimes, but I think its only to get the jelly bean or swedish fish. You also call yourself Mei mei but if we ask you your name you always say Lacey. You love Curious George and Dora (ugh), you love to read books like The Runaway Bunny, Goodnight Moon and The Eye Book and you are just starting to experiment with Play-Doh and painting. You run and jump (almost). You play "cannonball" with Lana--jumping off the sofa onto a pile of cushions. You also love to play dance party in my room, wearing a tutu of course. You are quite coordinated and rarely fall, but when you do its no big deal, no tears or anything.

Lacey, your eating habits are horrendous. You eat 6 things + fruit + any junk food. Chicken noodle soup, spaghetti and meatballs, meatball soup, chinese rice soup with tofu, udon noodles with eddamame, chicken nuggets and french fries (that last one hurts a little to write). You are no longer allergic to dairy and we were excited to try to give you cheese and yogurt, but sadly the only benefit to your outgrown allergy has been ice cream. But you eat fruit, copious amounts of fruit and you are growing, so I am assuming you are okay.

Happy Birthday sweet girl. We love you more than words can express! I can't wait to see what the next year brings for you and us as a family.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sweet spot

You know how sometimes your kids are just behaving wonderfully, there are no major meltdowns or "issues" and you are just thinking--This is just great! Easy, even. We are in a good space. I could maybe even have another kid and it would be not that big of a deal! Well, life has not been like that lately in our house. I haven't really been blogging because at the end of the day I am worn out emotionally and I have nothing nice to write.

But, it is one of my parenting philosophies to find the good in every day. Find a moment or two that lift you up, that make you smile, that remind you how very lucky you are. My don't sweat the small stuff moments, because really things could be so much worse. So my favorite moments lately involve soaking in those smiles. The big smiles, the laughing ones--not the cheese for the camera smiles. Lana has a perfect symmetrical smile--those little white teeth in a perfect row. I love her smile and I may be a little sad when she starts losing the baby teeth. Lacey's smile involves dimples--one under her bottom lip, to the right, one on her cheek. She also giggles when she smiles sometimes. Love it.

Lana asks me everyday when Lacey will be able to follow directions and play pretend with her. I tell her soon--a few more months-- because I think 2.5 is one of those sweet spots, where they are not babies anymore. Today after school Lana wanted to play swimming, so she put on her swimsuit and jumped onto my bed to "swim". Lacey then asked for a swimsuit, plopped down on her belly and said, "sploosh, splash, sploosh, splash." We are so close Lana!!

I am also really loving the interaction between the girls. Okay, 85% of the time Lana is screaming, "NO LACEY! MOM she is _____". I know this is normal, but sheesh. Lacey just loves Lana, will do anything to get her attention and just wants to be like her. Lana is usually annoyed, but lately she has been showing sweetness to Lacey. This morning they both climbed into Lacey's crib and cuddled. Lacey was loving it. I almost passed out it was so cute.

So even though we are decidedly going through a rough patch with behavior and with parenting (I have not been winning any awards for patience lately), there are these little nuggets of sweetness--the ones that pull me out of my bad mood and make me so very grateful.

Friday, September 16, 2011

School, I heart thee

We made it through the first week of Kindergarten! As I mentioned briefly before, Lana has been dealing with "the worries", worrying about anything and everything. It sounds like a silly phase, but in actuality it has been very difficult to deal with on a daily basis. It had become so intense that I spoke to her pediatrician and considered seeing a psychologist. The weeks leading up to school starting were the worst and even though I predicted that school would be just the distraction she needed, it felt like the constant cycle of worrying and reassuring and crying and hyperventilating would never cease. Ah yes, this is my genetic gift to her--I am sorry sweet Lana, its all my fault.

The first day of school Lana was visibly nervous, but once she was in her classroom, everything seemed peachy. She came home exhausted and I was so frustrated that bedtime was the same ridiculousness pattern about worrying about not being able to fall asleep and that once she was asleep a bad guy would get in the house and steal her, which resulted in crying like a banshee, me yelling (not my best choice here) and then her passing out at 10pm.

When I picked her up on the second day of school, Lana seemed so happy (tired, but happy) and she told me, "Mom, the second day of school is a LOT easier than the first!" At bedtime, she promptly fell asleep within 5 min and SLEPT ALL NIGHT. First time in weeks! No middle of the night crawling in bed with us, no being kicked in the kidneys or face!

We started a reward sticker chart for going to sleep without crying to earn a family game night. Before school started, it was hopeless--there were no stickers earned. This week, she did awesome, fell asleep without the crazies and tomorrow night is our very first family game night ever (after Lacey is in bed obviously). YAY SCHOOL!

Thank you school, thank you routine, thank you distraction, thank you socialization. You have made me sane, once again.

By far, the best part of this whole ordeal is that Lana seems happy. When the worries were at their worst, she seemed so distressed, all the time. I answered the same questions over and over again. She was bored and scared. Now Lana is back to smiling, laughing and her creative wheels are turning. She is constantly talking and imagining and asking curious questions. My happy kid is back. I am sure we haven't seen the last of the worries--I was exactly like that when I was little, but for now I am enjoying sweet and carefree Lana. Now if I could only pretend I am not feeling that sore throat...

Monday, September 12, 2011


FINALLY. The first day of school! Good grief, Lana's school starts late and I am more ready than she is! She always says, "Mom, are you actually HAPPY that I will be in school and you won't have to play with me?" Well, not exactly happy in a relieved sort of way, but happy because she needs to go back to school to be with her friends and have structured activities and learn all sorts of interesting things, as opposed to whining about how bored she is and how she doesn't feel like playing with the same old boring toys and how Lacey doesn't listen when she tries to play with her, blah, blah blah... I am sick of the whining and I am looking forward to hearing about new adventures and new accomplishments. Lana is that kid who really digs school--so off you go!

Unlike most of our peers, Kindergarten was not a big transition for us. Lana's preschool offers Kindergarten and we decided to keep her there instead of starting her at the local public school simply because we love her school and she is happy and secure there. I am so glad we made this decision because even though it is totally familiar to her--she knows 11 of the 15 kids in her class, as well as her teacher--she has been very very nervous about starting up again. I think its just a worrying type of phase, but it has been interfering with sleep (going to sleep and staying asleep) as well as general anxiety about becoming lost or separated from mom or abandoned, bad guys coming in the house, being stolen by a bad guy at the park or in a store--you know really uplifting things. Geesh. I am hoping that re-establishing the routine of school will give her security and self-confidence and she can get off the worrying and get back to being her fun-loving self.

As for Kindergarten, it does seem pretty much impossible that the little round-faced infant we brought home from the hospital all wrapped up like a burrito is now in elementary school. How did this happen so fast? In the blink of an eye.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Two years

This weekend was the 2 year anniversary of my father's death. I have been fully aware of it, the dreaded date, that it was approaching. I am not an overly sentimental person, but there is something about my dad's birthday, Father's Day and the anniversary of his passing that just get me. I try to forget it, to remind myself that its just another day, but I still woke up in a bad mood and shed a few tears before even getting out of bed. Luckily we had a lot of fun things planned for the day, to keep me occupied and my BFF remembered and called me and that felt good too.

Most of the time I am okay. I remember in the days after he died, I wondered if I would feel true happiness and laughter again and how long it would take for me to not feel distracted by grief. But as time goes on, its true that it becomes easier and normalcy returns. Most days I don't think about the loss, but I definitely think about Dad, often in a happy way--like he would love this or he would think this is so funny. But then out of nowhere, something seemingly innocuous happens and bam--I am bawling my eyes out. Like when Amalah was pregnant and her father lost his battle with cancer. I regularly read her blog because she is so darn witty and funny and then I read those posts and her writing is so beautiful and poignant and wow, it was like re-living those final days all over again, except that she was actually there, with her dad and I was not.

In these two years, sadness and pain have given way to remembering the good memories, especially my dad's super hilarious sense of humor. Dad loved to laugh. Dad had this key chain, from one of those goofy novelty stores, called the Fart Master. It has sound effects for various toots like the Power, the Nervous, the Ripper, the Cough-Fart. You don't get the full effect unless you hear it in person. Its totally in bad taste, but it would make him laugh every time. My stepmom gave it to Lana (per Lana's request), so now we own our very own Fart Master key chain. What a legacy! He would think its funny that we are playing with the Fart Master, laughing away, thinking of him.

My stepmom also forwarded some photo albums from Dad's childhood and some really interesting artifacts from my paternal grandparents including recipes from the candy store my grandfather ran years ago. These recipes are hand written in a tiny black book and date back to the 1940s or 50s. Crazy cool stuff.

It's hard for me to look at the photos of Dad and I together. It just highlights the relationship that I miss. I can't believe it has been two years since I have talked to him, heard his voice, swapped a recipe. The biggest dagger to the heart though is that he was so excited to be a grandpa and he loved Lana so much, even though he didn't see her that often, but he died 31 days before Lacey was born. I wish he could have met Lacey, held her, watched her grow just a little bit. I knew this cancer would take his life, but I was hoping and praying for a year or two. Lacey is so much like my dad--she is a cuddler, she is funny and a little quiet, she has his long narrow feet. He would have just adored her! Lana claims to remember her grandpa, even though the last time she saw him she wasn't even 3. We talk about him a lot, things he used to say, things he loved. He loved being a grandpa. Loved it.

The other thing that continues to plague me, two years later is regret. I have regret--loads of it. When someone gets diagnosed with cancer, even if the prognosis is grim, doctors advise the patient to have a positive outlook--you have to have hope that you can beat it and win. There is plenty of research that shows that attitude makes a difference. I always tried to put a positive spin on things, even when there didn't seem to be any good news. We all tried to lift his spirits, tell him his fight would be worth it, that there was only one more round of chemo left and he could get a break. I know this was the right thing to do at the time, but I can't help feeling like I didn't get to really talk to him about his life, our life. I never thanked him for being a great father. I wish I would have visited him once a month, even though he was on the other side of the country because when a person is gone, they are gone forever and I should have just done it, despite the distance and cost. I also regret not being there for his final few days. Yes I was 36 weeks pregnant, but I wish now that I was there, like Amalah was, to hold his hand and have that conversation. I know he would have wanted me to keep Lacey safe in my belly and not travel, but I don't know if that feeling of regret will ever leave me.

My dad was a wonderful father. The best kind of dad that always loves you and supports you. He was never critical and I can't even remember one instance where he raised his voice. It has become clear to me, more than ever recently, that not everyone is blessed to have this kind of father. I just wish he was still here because I have so much I would have loved to share with him.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The questions and the talking

We have two chatty chickadees in the house. We initially thought Lacey might be a little quieter than Lana, but now that she can talk, good grief, someone is always saying something, sometimes at the same time and sometimes they have "conversations" which involve them taking turns making some horrendous scream or other lovely noise.

Lana has always been a talker and she still is, but lately she has been asking really strange and thought-provoking questions, usually when we are driving. I try to jot them down in my phone (at stop lights) so I don't forget them and often I have no idea how to answer them (especially if its before I have had morning coffee). But I do my best to give an age-appropriate answer when I can. Here are a few of my favorite "burning questions":

Mom, do you ever feel like life is just one long dream?

Mom, how exactly do they build a car?

Mom, how does a zipper stick together?

Mom, what makes up air?

Mom, how do you see out of the black circle in your eye?

Mom, who was the first person to ever speak English?

Mom, can super hot water ever cause a fire?

Mom, how did God build our bodies?

Mom, I just don't know what in the world I am going to do for a job when I grow up!!!

As for Lacey, thankfully she is not asking me a bunch of questions I can't answer, but she is stringing words together to get her point across. She is saying a lot of words backwards, which I think is so cute and I will likely forget them over time, unless I write them down. Some words, nobody but me can understand, but then there are other words that come out clear as can be. Here are a few of my favorite Lacey-isms:

Faukee (coffee)
Ah kikis (hello kitty)
buck (cup)
boppy (potty)
maymia (banana) (?)
boose (soup)
bose (soap)
money (yummy)
and my personal favorite sentence-- "Mama, where AHHH you?"

Sometimes my ears feel like they are going to fall off with the constant talking and noise, but then I am reminded by a facebook friend that there are many parents out there with kids who are nonverbal and it would be their wish to be able to communicate so frequently with their little ones. So its true, I am very blessed with my little chatty gals!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer 2011

I get the award for laziest blogger on earth. Every day I think about a great blog post, but I just never find the time to get online. I have been *trying* to get on our elliptical twice a week and its nice to connect with the husband once in a while, as he has been working hard this summer. Lacey has been on a 5:15am awake for the day streak, which is not so fun and also it makes me so sleepy in the evenings, so again, no blogging. But whatever, here I am!!

This summer has been pretty fun so far, despite the horrendous weather we have been having. While the rest of the country bakes in a heat wave, we are freezing our arses off. Our weather has been downright fall-like. The mornings are gray, rainy and 55 ish and if we are lucky, the afternoons are gray, rainy and 65 ish. We get a tease of sunshine--one or two days, followed by another stretch of rain and chilly temps. The heat kicks on overnight, I use my seat heaters in the car and I have worn fleece. ITS JULY PEOPLES!!! This is just not right. Aside from this being really annoying and moderately depressing, it is so hard to keep the kids entertained--I mean, we have done all the indoor activities all damn winter--we want to get outside already! Starting tomorrow the weather peeps say sunshine--bring it on.

For some reason Lana did not want to do summer camps this year, so I didn't sign her up for any. She did a one week art class (one hour per day) last week and we will be doing her very first swim class starting next week, but that has left a lot of idle time, just hanging around the house. The first week at home was ugly. There was whining, misbehavior, boredom, even a tantrum of epic proportions that involved hyperventilating, breathing into a paper bag and tingly hands. Good grief! I thought, oh crapitty crap, its going to be a looonng summer. But shortly thereafter we got into a really good rhythm of playdates, playgrounds, the Children's Museum, the mall play area, special days (I get Tuesdays with Lacey only and Thursdays with Lana only), cooking together and family time on weekends. Its been good and busy and a lot of fun. I feel like a lot of really great things are happening: Lana is learning how to deal with free time, she is becoming more able to self-entertain. We have a lot of work to do in this arena, but she is getting better at it. Also, Lana and Lacey are bonding in real and meaningful ways. When Lana was in school, they didn't have much contact, but now Lana and Lacey spend huge chunks of time together, totally unstructured--but not unsupervised of course. Prior to summer vacation, Lana was kind of ambivalent toward Lacey. She was never aggressive or mean, but she never seemed to really care one way or another about having a sister. I can say my favorite part of summer vacation so far has been watching Lana and Lacey bond--they interact, laugh together and hug. Lacey is still a little young to take direction from Lana in terms of play, but once she hits that milestone, I anticipate things getting even better. Lana claps for Lacey when Lacey pees in the potty. Lana gets her the treat (and one for herself). They play peek-a-boo together. They jump on the bed together. They play 3 way catch (with me) with a foam football. They play in the wooden dollhouse and pretend to cook food, side-by-side. All of this is HUGE. And it absolutely warms my heart. Oh there are issues too. Lacey is obsessed with Little Einsteins and wants to watch it constantly, which annoys Lana (and me too) and Lana is always trying to get my attention if she perceives I am spending too much time with Lacey. I will say that I am really proud of the big sister Lana has become. She has really grown into the role.

We have done lots of fun stuff on our summer to do list, despite our crapola weather. We have hit all of our favorite parks, splash parks, the Animal Farm, Jetty Island (super awesome local beach you get to by ferry), Seattle Art Museum, the Aquarium, visiting grandma at work, painting pottery, indoor pools, picnics in the living room, popsicles, ice cream, gelato. Good stuff. Compared to last summer when Lacey still needed 2 naps, this summer we are free to have some fun outings without being too tethered to the house.

Lana has been so fun and funny. I love this age. LOVE IT! She asks me the most interesting and hard-to-answer questions. I have a running list, we call "Lana's Quagmires". Maybe I will post them someday. She is creative and innocent. She smiles and laughs more than ever. She is loyal and affectionate, promising that she will always live with us and always love us. Sometimes I just look at her, take in the moment and try to remember the feeling. How is it possible that there was a time when I thought I didn't want kids? I would have missed all of this great stuff.

Lacey is talking a ton. And dancing. She has started singing, which is so cute I might cry. She loves to pretend to drive, she hugs every stuffed animal, but especially Curious George and she shrieks and laughs at her big sister. She is very coordinated and loves to climb on things and she is working on learning to jump. I love that she loves books and water and running. She is a happy toddler, but she is showing signs that she is almost 2. Hopefully we will be spared from the worst of the terrible twos this time around. Here's hoping!

So that's what we have been up to. Hopefully I will get in a few more posts this summer. I have so much swirling around in my head. Until then, we will be trying to get outside to enjoy the rest of summertime!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I'm still alive...

Sheesh, I haven't posted in forever. I guess I am just behind on life, as they say. Lots has happened since the beginning of June--preK graduation, Mondo Beyondo (!), a wonderful and overdue visit with my BFF, keeping busy (and sane) during summer vacay, the biggest and ugliest tantrum of all time and many random thoughts in between. I simply have no computer time now that Lana is home from school. But I am not complaining, we are having fun together (except for said tantrum) and staying busy with friends or just with one another. I hope to carve out some time to post and to comment on other blogs, but for now, we are just enjoying the sunshine, the parks and each other. Until next time..

Friday, June 10, 2011

The birthday party and baking emergency

Kids birthday parties overstimulate me. I don't really enjoy attending them or hosting them--there is too much noise, too much chaos, too much sugar and I am supposed to keep one eye on my kid to make sure she is behaving nicely all while having an adult conversation with another parent. I always feel like I need some quiet time and a glass of wine afterward. But, they are part of childhood and we attend most of those that Lana is invited to, mostly because although I am not super-social, I recognize that Lana is indeed a social being and that this is important to her.

When it is our turn to plan and host Lana's birthday party, I am both excited and dreading it. Excited that its Lana's special day, but dreading that overstimulated feeling. Is it just me? Each year I have hosted Lana's party on the outside, meaning not in my home. I would love to literally be outdoors, but May in the Pacific NW is typically rainy and coolish. This year we had Lana's party at one of those indoor gymnastics places. In the past, I have made a bunch of food and the cake in a semi-fancy way, but in an attempt to keep it simple, this year I ordered pizza and made the cupcakes.

The cupcakes. I make them b/c of me and Lacey having that pesky dairy allergy, so that rules out most store-bought options and dammit, I want to eat the leftovers! I try to make them look really cute and festive, although I am not a baker at ALL. I am also not artsy/craftsy. The theme of the party this year was Hello Kitty and I was so excited that I scored this stencil in the shape of Hello Kitty's head that I could shake powdered sugar or sprinkles over and then presto--Hello Kitty's image on the cupcake. Lana was so excited too--she wanted to help make the cupcakes and shake the sprinkles, but I told her I needed to do it this time. My big mistake? I did not test the stencil until 11pm the night before the party. Guess what? It didn't work at all. It didn't look like Hello Kitty's head--its just looked like a blob of sprinkles. Bill even got in on the action--we whipped out all of our sprinkles, food coloring, gel and literally tried all kinds of possibilities to make Hello Kitty on a cupcake. Luckily I made an extra batch of cupcakes b/c we tossed at least 10 cupcakes during our experiment. Finally, we concluded that there would be no Hello Kitty on the freakin cupcakes and she was going to have to be okay with pink frosting with sparkly sprinkles. The end.

Or not. When I told her the next morning (the day of the party), she dissolved into tears, "Mom, I am so disappointed! I wanted Hello Kitty and you PROMISED! I am not going to have a Hello Kitty party with just plain cupcakes. Boo hoo hoo." Okay, I know she sounds like a brat, but she is not a roll-with-the-punches kind of kid and yeah, we have the drama--I have accepted it and usually I can let it bounce off me like nothing, but this time, I felt bad, like I let her down. So I ordered her to stop crying, get dressed and we are going to the grocery right NOW (its 7am). I had no real plan, I was just going to buy some stuff in the baking isle and make a final attempt.

I came home, Bill took the girls upstairs to play and I pulled this right out of my ass...

Not bad, huh? I took a big marshmallow (they were a bit stale--I found them in the pantry), sliced the end off of it, formed it into an oval and pinched the ears with my fingers. I added the eyes and nose (they are those flat sprinkles) with frosting as the glue and pink gel as the bow. I tried to do the whiskers, but they looked weird. When Lana saw them, she was SO excited! She said, "Mom, if you take a picture of this and you put it on the internet, you are going to be famous!" Too funny.

The party itself was fine, crazy as expected, but I have wonderful friends who helped me get set up and cleaned up after. I wish I could just learn to chill and enjoy myself, but yeesh--the chaos, the noise...oh man.

Here is the birthday girl enjoying her party. She looks kinda pale and sleepy--turns out she was battling a virus, what we have affectionately (or not) termed, "the swollen gland disease". It turned out to be nothing except a really big swollen gland that resolved on its own, but thanks to the pediatrician, we were freaking out that it was something much scarier. Anyway, here she is...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Her major award

Lana's school has an end of the year BBQ at a local park. Its a potluck kind of thing and the kids have a huge playground for burning energy. Each year the school raffles off the ginormous baskets of goodies. Each class donates items around a theme, so there was an art basket, an outdoor fun basket, a family game night basket, etc. The parents are pretty generous, so you can imagine that these baskets are pretty amazing. The teachers spend all week explaining the concept of a raffle--that there are only 6 baskets and 60 families--so you might be disappointed if you don't win, etc. Last year, there were many tears after the raffle (Lana was one of them), so this year we talked a lot about it and that we would buy some tickets, but we probably won't win.

So there we are, at the BBQ and they get to the much-coveted art basket and they call Lana's name! She just sat there--like a statue. They repeat her name, looking around for her. She sat, still as a statue. Finally, I called for Lana to stand up already! She did and accepted her HUGE basket of art supplies, which was bigger than she was--she could barely walk with it and to say she was excited is a gross understatement.

The whole ride home, she said--"I can't believe I won the art basket. I can't believe I won the art basket." Over and over again, like 100 times. When we got home, she tore into it, like its Christmas morning (which is why I have no photo) and I had to rip her away from the crafting to go to bed.

The next day, she says, "Mom, what if Miss Y read the wrong name on the ticket and I didn't really win the art basket after all. What if its all a big mistake and the name on the ticket was a different name that begins with L." After a giggle and some reassurance, she went right back to work, creating and drawing and making a holy hell of a mess of glitter.

I thought it was so funny that Lana acted like she won an academy award and that it was so amazing that she felt like she didn't even deserve it, like the honor should have gone to someone else. Its also funny that something like winning a raffle is like a MAJOR thing when you are 5. I mean, we all buy raffle tickets and then don't even give it a second thought because really its nearly impossible to win and if you do, its just dumb luck. For her, this was something she will remember for a very long time. I love the innocence of childhood.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lana, you are five!?!

Dear Lana,

Today you are five years old. How? It seems like yesterday you were just a tiny baby with lots of black hair, screaming and crying all day long. Now, my sweet, you are a big kid, a mini-adult sometimes, you are funny, creative, so smart and my little friend.

You are so much like Baba in so many ways. You look like him, you act like him, you have a very special bond with your Baba. You love to watch basketball together and you remember all of the team abbreviations and uniform colors. You also watch wrestling together, all while I am rolling my eyes right out of my head. You love to work in the garden with Baba and kick a ball (you are a great kicker). I love to watch the two of you together and I love how you both love each other so much.

This year has been such a fun year to watch you grow. You love school and your teacher. You love to get your work on the best work wall. You have an amazing vocabulary and you never forget anything--sometimes its scary what's going on in that head of yours. You have learned to write beautifully and I love it when you write me notes, with little drawings of you and me together. I wish I could save every single one along with all of your artwork, but I don't think the house is big enough for all that you create. I do save my very favorites, but I treasure each one in my heart. Your artwork is simply amazing and I have loved watching your drawings become more detailed and complex over this past year. You have also started reading a bit, but like most things, you demand perfection from yourself and if you struggle, you tend to give up. I know your confidence will grow and you will be reading and riding that bike when you decide you will succeed.

One of my favorite things about you, Lana, is your heart--you are so kind and thoughtful. You are never mean, not even to Lacey, not even when she is annoying you. You are nice to adults, to friends, to your family. You want to send people cards and notes and art just because or when they are sick or sad. You love to talk to people--in elevators, in Target, anywhere really. You always ask the cashier his/her name, you know all of the employees at the grocery store by name and you always stop to say hi--Sue in flowers, Mark in meat, Jenny at the pharmacy, Mel, Julie, Yvonne at checkout. I am so impressed with how outgoing you are--you don't get that from me!

You have lots of toys and games, but really you don't play with them all that much. You always want someone to play pretend with you--elaborate games of pretend. I love listening to your creative mind as you bounce all over the room telling me about the party we are planning, your friend who is visiting from India or how very sick Hello Kitty is and how she needs surgery.

This year you have become more affectionate, which I love. I will take any and all hugs and kisses you are willing to give. You love to hold hands and even though you are getting a little bit big to carry, I will oblige while I can. I love our special days together when its just you and I--doing big girl things, having ladies lunch and cooking together. I also love how you are starting to include Lacey in your playtime. I know this takes a lot of patience. I hope you know how much you are loved and treasured in our family. Happy Birthday my sweet Lana Ru!

Love, Mama and Baba

Monday, May 23, 2011

Miss Picky

Lacey is on a food jag. Just as I was starting to relax a bit with her picky eating and sing the praises of occupational therapy, she has decided to boycott all protein and veggies. That would be no dairy (allergic), no eggs, no meat, no tofu, no veggies except roasted seaweed snack from Trader Joes (that stuff rocks!). She only eats pasta (with or without marinara) bread and fruit. Oh, and junk food--she is all over junk food. Fries, soy ice cream, popsicles, potato chips, cookies, jellybeans. I keep telling myself its a phase, that she will be fine and eventually will eat something with nutritional value. Its in sharp contrast with Lana, who eats great! I asked Lana what she wants for her birthday dinner--she said, grilled fish and broccoli pasta. I love that kid!

Speaking of birthdays, I can't believe Lana is turning 5. I have been so teary when reading other moms' birthday tributes and letters. I just feel so emotional about this one for some reason.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our big trip to SUNSHINE!

This time of year in the Pacific NW can be really really rainy. The weather here doesn't really bother me since I like cool-ish weather, but this year has been extra rainy, gloomy and even the natives are complaining. So, we took a get-away-from-the-rain vacay to the Caribbean!! Yeah, I know its far, but last year when we went to Hawaii, it was too cool to swim which defeats the whole purpose of going somewhere sunny. We saw the wonderful-looking commercials for Beaches, the family resort in Turks and Caicos and after talking with some friends who went last year, we bit the bullet!

Bill loves to travel, its his hobby and passion. Before we had kids, we had neither the time nor money to travel big, but we did manage a few amazing trips to Italy, the Mexican Riviera and Taiwan and a bunch of fun domestic travel. Now we have more time and money, but we have the kids and we don't have the luxury of leaving them with grandparents for a grown up vacation, so we just suck it up and travel with them. Which of course means its going to be a different kind of getaway--not bad, just not as relaxing.

Lana has traveled a lot in her young life. When she was under 2, we were THAT family--you know, the one with the screaming kid and the parents passing the kid back and forth, sweating b/c they felt the eyes of judgement from the other passengers. Now, Lana is easy peasy. She colors, she snacks, she plays her Leapster, she lays down if she feels tired. She adapts well to changes in schedule (finally!!), eats whatever and is generally in a happy mood. Lacey, my sweet, easygoing kid hit the 18 month hellion phase days before we left and all I have to say is, "WTH was I thinking taking an 18 month old on such a big, long trip?" The flights were painful with her, her schedule was all over the place, she barely slept 8h/night. Miss Crabby Pants? Oh yeah, that's an understatement. Patient in restaurants? Hell no. After 7 days we were really looking forward to getting her home and back on track--better eating habits, better sleeping.

Despite all of that, we did have a really nice time. I could go all trip advisor on you and lay down the plusses and minuses about Beaches, because while there were some truly amazing things about the place, there were also some things that could have and should have been a lot better (at that price point), but I will just get some photos out there b/c that's what counts. We did have a wonderful time and I would love to go back to the Caribbean (hello, the beautiful, warm water), but I probably wouldn't do an all-inclusive again because with kids this young, we didn't take advantage of most of the things that make the all-inclusive awesome--unless you count the tropical drinks--we definitely made the most of that--lol! So here are the many pics of smiling and sleeping kids because all of that swimming tires you out!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Memory lane

I was recently looking at old posts, more specifically, the first few months of my blog when Lana was about 23 months old. I can almost not remember her being that young. Yes, the memories are intact, but when I look at her face in the photos, it seems almost unreal that she was ever that little, that babyish, that chubby roundface slurping noodles and saying words like "mahna" for cat. My brain cannot access her at that age! She has always been speaking in complete sentences, telling me elaborate stories, asking me ridiculously hard questions , right? Lacey is now 19 months old and it occurred to me that in a few years I am not going to be able to imagine her a toddler-baby. I wonder what she will be like at nearly 5. But I am sure it will seem unreal too that she was once tiny little girl with barely any hair that loved to wash her hands with "bose" (soap) just so she could see the bubbles or walk around the house nekkid, only wearing Lana's shoes. Ahh, it happens so fast--the baby becomes the toddler, the toddler becomes the big kid (I cannot even conceive of what's coming next!). But I am so glad I have this blog to document the details that my brain is sure to forget.

While I was meandering through old posts, I came across the post when I found out dad had cancer and I read the comments. Then I read the comments after the post when dad lost his battle. These comments from friends, some of whom I have met, some I have not, have literally held me up, gotten me through. The support, the friendship, the love and hugs I have felt, whether its a post about frustration in parenting, a silly kid story or a major family or personal crisis is truly an unmeasurable gift and I have so much gratitude for each and every comment. Having this blog is so much more than a baby book.

I haven't been very good at posting lately, but after looking at some of those early stories and photos, I feel inspired to find some time to record the details--of the kids, of my inner-thoughts, of our family life because time passes way too quickly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I am all done. Really!

As we are getting our shoes on to head out to the park today Lana determines that Lacey's shoes are too small.

She says, "Mom, you better put those shoes away and save them for the new baby."

I am like, "Huh? What new baby?"

She replies--"You know, the one you are going to have next."

Dumbfounded, I say, "Lana, there will not be any more babies. Mommy is all done."

She says (with a bit of attitude), "I don't think so Mom."

Clearly, Bill has been brainwashing Lana.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A good rubdown

Yeesh, I have a half dozen, started but then abandoned posts. They were once good ideas, but oh well. Hopefully this one will stick!

While Lacey has a delightful personality, full of sweetness and kisses and smiles, there have been some big frustrations with her development. She is a lousy sleeper and a super picky eater. I know I have crabbed about this endlessly in the past, but I wanted to revisit this because things have somewhat improved.

My pediatrician has suggested multiple times to take Lacey to see an occupational therapist who deals with feeding issues. At first, I thought--what, every picky eater now has a "disorder"? Give me a break. But then I noticed that Lacey never ever mouthed toys, even when she was teething, she never chewed on her fingers, she never put anything other than food in her mouth (except for little bits of toilet paper--weird) which I thought was odd for a toddler. So I figured, what the heck, I will take her in and see what they say.

The big issues with Lacey were that she rejected almost all veggies and didn't really like to pick up foods with her hands and feed herself. The only veggie she would eat is peas, BUT they had to be in a soup and spoon fed to her. A spoon of just peas would be spit out, a bowl of peas dumped on the floor. She would not touch pea and put it in her mouth. There were other foods that met a similar reaction--fine if spoon fed, but she would not self-feed. Her list of tolerable foods were limited to 3 different homemade soups (meat or tofu, veggie, starch), which of course is very limiting. So, after a 2 hour interview and watching Lacey eat things she will eat and foods that are more challenging for her, the OT said she had a very mild sensory issue categorized as tactile defensiveness. She explained it to me that certain textures made her feel extremely anxious--fight or flight anxious. It also may contribute to her horrendous sleep patterns--at the time, she was waking 2-5 times per night crying and we let her CIO each time. It never got better, i.e. she never "learned" to stay asleep.

The OT showed me how to give her a very specific massage where you squeeze her arms and legs and do mini compressions on her shoulders, wrists, hips, and knees. She loves it! I am supposed to do it at least 5 times a day and the idea is that it helps desensitize her nervous system so that texture and touching things doesn't feel so scary. Seems kinda goofy to me, but I gave it a try and I can definitely see an improvement. She has expanded her list of acceptable foods and is more open to trying new things, even if it ends up on the floor. As far as her sleep goes, the OT told me to try a thick quilt or weighted blanket, which sometimes helps them feel that squeeze feeling when they sleep. It was amazing--she sleeps through the night probably 50% of the time and wakes once the other 50% of the time! HUGE! I will take it!

I also read that book How to Get Your Kid to Eat, But Not Too Much (Thanks LauraC!), which I think really improved my own response and attitude to feeding a picky eater. I try really hard to leave it up to her to decide how much to eat and whether to eat, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me when she doesn't eat dinner. I take it personally, which is ridiculous! I really try to just put the food in front of her and she eats what she eats, no pressure. I only offer new foods alongside foods I know she likes, this way if she doesn't like the new food, she has something to eat at least. The book was very helpful overall and I am happy to see an improvement.

One other thing that has helped so much is that I taught her how to use a spoon and fork. She will now self-feed cooked carrots, cooked celery, cooked spinach and cooked canned tomatoes, using a fork. This is an amazing feat, considering we have only been doing the therapy for a couple of months. I don't need to take her back to the OT, just keep up the massage.

Oh, and another thing--I have been so frustrated b/c I cannot get her off the boob! She wouldn't take soy milk or rice milk, so I was giving her fortified OJ in a sippy cup, which just felt like a piss poor substitute for breastmilk. So I crossed over to the dark side and gave her chocolate soymilk--she sucked that down no problem! Now she asks for her "mih". I am down to one session of breastfeeding right before bed which is about to go in a few weeks. I really did not want to be breastfeeding for this long, but she is such a cuddle bug, its so hard to give up!

So I will continue to try new foods with her and give her a little squeeze a few times a day--sometimes she will even squeeze me back and say, "Skeeze!" Love that kid!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Getting back to blogging with some photos!

I would really like to get back into blogging more regularly. Sometimes I forget that a post can be a quick story or a few photos instead of an inner-thoughts type of sentimental rambling. So here are some photos--a lot of photos taken over the past several months. We love our new camera, although we are still getting the hang of it, as you can probably tell.