Tuesday, September 28, 2010

his royal adorableness

The other day I read this tweet and I just had to laugh at how true it is:

Screen shot 2010-09-28 at 7.35.05 PM

D can be tough to deal with at times.  And then he'll do something so unbelievably adorable that my heart just melts, and I wonder how I got such a great kid.  D was completely enthralled by the whole idea of me taking the cats to the vet, even though all he saw was me walk out the door with the cats and then come back home.  He spent the following days playing a game of "taking the cats to the vet," and it cracked me up.  Here's a peek:

(see also part 2 and part 3)

In the coming weeks I'll be taking each cat in for a check-up, and since I'm only taking one cat at a time I think I'll bring D with me, too. I'm thinking it's gonna totally blow his mind. ; )

Saturday, September 25, 2010

for the love of trucks and friends

So my dad was visiting my sister for a week last week, and for the weekend they both drove out from SF to spend 2 days with us.  It was my dad who gave D the 18-wheeler truck he's sleeping with in the picture in my previous post.  D was completely obsessed with that truck for about 4 days solid. Seriously, he played with it non-stop, brought it into bed with him for naps and bedtime, and when we left it at home before going anywhere, the first thing he'd say when we opened the door to come back in was, "And there's my 18-wheeeeeler!"  He's calmed down about it a bit by now, but... yeah.  That was impressive.

They left Monday around mid-day, when D was supposed to be napping but refused to.  Which in a way worked out better, since he got to then watch and wave good-bye as they pulled away in the car and started their drive back to SF.  At least that gives him a more concrete "ending" to their visit, I suppose.  I do wonder what it's like for him right now, when he's old enough to remember these visiting family members well, and look forward to their visits when I say they'll happen, but I still wonder how much he understands as far as why they suddenly show up one day, stay for a while, then are suddenly gone again.  It's gotta be confusing for him...  but, he deals with it fairly well.  Other than one minor tantrum as  Jen and Daddy were loading up the car because he wanted them to stay here.  (and yes, my heart broke a little bit there)

D is getting to be much more social in his play.  He used to like playing with his cars by himself... now he constantly asks Zach or I to "play the game" with him (which basically means just roll his cars around together).  When we go to a playground I see him watch the other kids, get excited at the games they're playing, and sometimes even try to join in.  It's really cute to watch, and also makes me anxious thinking about the complicated world of social interactions that he's just beginning to enter.  I hope he inherited his dad's outgoing nature and ability to reach out and make friends easily (something that was always much harder for me).  Just thinking about watching him face rejection, even by random kids at the playground that he may never see again, makes my heart sink.

Yesterday D and I took a nap together on his bed.  When he woke up he sat up and started talking about his old friend Scarlet, who used to live on our street in San Jose, and how she used to ride bikes with him, and he went on for a good 5 minutes about her and playing at her house, and how she liked to come to our house, too, and play with the toys in his room, etc.  He hasn't seen her in 3-4 months, yet suddenly she just popped into his head.  It, again, makes me sad to think of this friend he had who he'll likely never see again... but he didn't seem sad about it at all (he did say something about her driving to our new house to play).  He is making friends with a boy who lives across the street, though he's quite a bit older (7yrs old).  His older sister baby-sits for us from time to time.  D and the boy, Marky, have gotten together a few times to ride their bikes or whatnot, and after each time D will talk non-stop about him.  It's really adorable.  Today they played for several hours in the afternoon, and when Marky had to go back home D cried and cried.  He was just having so much fun playing with his new buddy.

By the way... you know how some recent studies have de-bunked the theory that sugar causes hyperactivity in kids?  I kinda believe it.  Honestly, I have never seen sugar do anything close to what Marky's presence did to D today.  He was bouncing off the walls, just off the sheer excitement of playing with a new friend.  It was pretty remarkable to watch.  ; )

Monday, September 20, 2010

for shame

Ever since D was born I feel like I've been so scatterbrained as far as our cats' health goes.  It doesn't help that for the past several years pretty much anytime one of them is due for shots or a check-up we're in a new place and have to find a new vet, which I always procrastinate with...  But, still.  I used to stay on top of vaccination schedules and vet visits, and ever since a baby came out of my body I can't seem to keep track of any of that stuff.

It hasn't been that big a deal most of the time, since Sierra has been in such good health, and as an indoor cat her vaccines aren't as important.  But then last year we a) adopted Nev, and b) when I took them both to the vet for their check-ups (and Sierra's past-due shots) I found out her teeth were falling out and we hadn't even noticed.  We followed up with the treatments they recommended, and once that was done and both cats were up to date (or so I thought) on their shots, I put vet visits out of my mind again for a while.

Then the other night I took this great picture of Sierra mid-yawn.

 I was so proud of having caught that photo...  then I looked at the picture blown-up on the computer screen and realized her gums are swollen again (see her top left fang?), and she may have even lost another couple teeth.  I feel terrible for her, especially how apparently this condition is very painful (she must be a very stoic cat, hasn't shown any signs of discomfort and is even eating normally and everything).  I've been meaning to find a vet since the cats probably needed an update on their shots now that Nev's going outside part-time, so I went to look up their records to see what they each may need and how urgently, when I realized that Nev never got her rabies booster last year.

I guess between juggling a toddler, two cats, and the news that one of them was losing her teeth at that last appointment, they either forgot to mention or I completely missed that I needed to go back again to get that last rabies booster shot for Nev.


So first thing this morning I called a local vet and made appointments for both kitties for tomorrow morning.  Till then, Nev is staying indoors (she'll probably start beating up on Sierra by afternoon... ), and I'm preparing to get yelled at by the vet for being such a neglectful pet owner.  =(

UPDATE (9/21): So the kitties and I went to the vet this morning.  Other than Sierra's teeth, they both checked out healthy and fine. Both weighed in at about 9lbs, and are up-to-date on all their shots.  The vet wasn't sure if Sierra's teeth problems were the same thing as last time, or a bacterial infection, etc.  She did recommend a dental cleaning, but offered to have us try doing an antibiotic treatment first to see if that helped clear up the swelling.  At $50 (and no anesthesia) vs up to $800 (and having to be put under) we opted to try the antibiotic to see what that would do first.  They were even able to give it to her by injection, so we don't have to mess with getting her to take anything by mouth. Yay!  So, I'll be taking her back in 2 weeks and we'll see where we stand with that.

As for keeping up with their schedules, I'm FINALLY on a system (thanks to Google Calendar + my trusty iPod touch) where I consistently use an electronic calendar, which means I can put in reminders for even years from now for when each cat will need her next round of shots.  This should help TONS.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Montessori Post-- How to Choose a Montessori Preschool

I'm a bit behind the times in posting this, but last week another one of my posts was published over at MariaMontessori.com.  I wrote about searching for a Montessori school for your child, and what sorts of things to look for to help you identify schools that are more true to the Montessori ideals and philosophy.

One unfortunate aspect of Montessori is that, since no one “owns” the name/title, anyone who wishes to can open up a preschool, put a pink tower in the corner, and call themselves “Montessori.”  There are many wonderful and amazing Montessori schools… and there are also quite a few not very good ones, and unfortunately it is these lesser schools that help spread confusion and misinformation of what Montessori is and how it works.... So how is a parent to know which schools as “good” and which ones are, well, not so true to the Montessori methodology?  It can be tough, especially if you yourself are new to Montessori.  I recently went through the process of visiting and observing various schools in the area while searching for the right preschool for my own toddler son.  As I compared schools to one another, some excellent and some very disappointing, here are a few things that came to mind as “markers” to look for.
Read the full post here.

We actually just got the acceptance letter recently for the Montessori preschool D will attend! I'm very excited about this school-- I was blown away when I visited and observed the classrooms. Their program also goes all the way up through elementary school, and they even started a junior high classroom this year. I don't know if we'll be able/willing to pay for private school for the kiddoes for that long, but it's so wonderful to know that the option is there if we want it (and if we stay in this area...).  His projected start date as of now is spring/summer, depending on how things go (space in the classroom, if he's potty trained yet, etc).  So it's still a ways away, but still very exciting. =)

the intensity of life with a toddler

It's hard to tell how much of this is D's age/stage of development and how much of it is my own emotional state in being pregnant, but it feels like life is just so intense right now.  Both the highs and the lows.  D will do things that are so incredibly wonderful, that make me so proud and so grateful to know him.  I love hearing him talk about things that happened a few days, weeks months ago and reminisce about them with me. I love the way his arms curl around my neck to hug me perfectly, the way he holds me tight and says, "Mommy you need to stay with me," when I try to leave his bed at bedtime.  I love the way he's started furrowing his brow when stating something he's not sure about.  He is this amazing, wonderful, intelligent person, and several times a day I'll just look at him and fall in love with him all over again.

And then with one 10-minute long screaming tantrum, followed by the silent treatment as he completely ignores my requests or questions, he can send me into this place of feeling so helpless and powerless.  It can all turn in a matter of minutes.  He has such a power over my emotions, and it is frightening.  I see how he can switch back from happy to sad so easily, going from genuine sorrow with tears streaming down his cheeks and then 5 minutes later be happy and smiling, and I feel jealous because that transition back to happiness takes me so much longer to achieve.  I hate how most of a day can go fine, even great, and then one bad encounter can just ruin it all.

Most of the time when he blows up I'm able to keep calm.  I can take the yelling, remember the "tricks" I've read about to help diffuse his emotions, and get us both past it.  But then there are moments when I guess I don't have enough patience and energy reserves left, and it all goes to shit.

I guess the silver lining is that D does seem to be so resilient, and he does bounce back quickly even after Mommy loses it, and I'll just hope those moments are overshadowed in his mind and memories by our more positive interactions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

birthday recap

First of all, thanks to everyone for the potty training advice.  I think we'll just keep doing what we're doing-- offering the opportunity, but letting him guide us... and we'll just see when he seems "ready."  He shows some signs of readiness, but even with cloth diapers he doesn't seem to notice or care when he's wet, and maybe that needs to click on first.  Patience is a virtue, right? ; )

My birthday weekend has been a nice one.  Saturday night we arranged for a friend to come over after D went to sleep so Zach and I could go out for a nice dinner at The Waterboy.  It was fun to get all dolled up for once, and the food was quite wonderful.  It was also Second Saturday, so it was fun to walk through all the festivities on our way to the restaurant.

Sunday morning Zach took D to the farmers market while I went toa Mother's Morning Out coffee shop meetup with my mom's group. Turns out almost everyone else cancelled and there was only two of us there... but, the two of us had a great time, anyway.

Yesterday was pretty low-key.  D spent the morning at Arjun's house, and it appears we're over the separation-anxiety hurdle yet again!  Last week when I dropped him off he didn't cry at all, though I suspected part of that was b/c of the backhoe loader working on the street outside their house.  Yesterday morning as we were getting ready to go, I said again to D that he was going to Arjun's house. He turned to me and said (simply and matter-of-fact), "And mommy's going to go.  And I might cry."  Then we got there, and he started playing with the toys, and when I asked for a hug and kiss good-bye he seemed ok, and then there was no crying.  Yay!  When I came back a few hours later, the nanny said that as D was watching me drive away through the window he told her, "I'm not going to cry today."

Seriously, he is just beyond precious sometimes.

We spent the afternoon here at home, just hanging out and playing.  The Amazon package containing what I was fairly certain was my present came early on the day, and then sat in the hallway taunting me the rest of the day (I had promised Zach I wouldn't open it till he got home).  Finally, he arrived and I was able to reveal my brand-new 35mm f/2 lens, which I brought out with me as we all went out for a family dinner.  So far, I'm fairly pleased with it.  =P

Monday, September 13, 2010

Looking back over 30 years

Today I turn 30 years old.

In those 30 years, I have:

  • Lived on 3 continents
  • Visited 8 countries
  • Discovered passions for Montessori, breastfeeding and natural childbirth advocacy, blogging, and photography.
  • Married my loving husband, who supports me when I need a ballast and challenges me to be a better person.  I cannot imagine finding a better partner, mate, and father to my children.
  • Become a mother, which has introduced me to one of the most amazing and fascinating people I have ever known, and taught me more about myself and life in general than I ever thought possible.  And I'm about to do it all over again.
To celebrate this day, I wanted to put together a series of pictures.  You'll notice there are several more pictures starting at around 2004 onward than before then, as that's when I got my first digital camera. ; )  The other thing that struck me, as I clicked through pictures tagged with my name on flickr, was how incredible it was to see all those snapshots of my smiling face, so happy at various places, at various moments in time, with various people.  I'm so blessed, by the life I have lived and the people who have been part of it.  I can only hope that those blessings will continue through the next 30 years and beyond.

As a kid, riding my red tricycle in our back yard in Chile.

Zach and I, shortly after we got engaged during our last year of college (and yes, he wanted a ring, too, so he got one)- spring 2003

In the "getaway car" after our wedding reception- Jan 3, 2004

Me, my sister Jen, and my friend Danyelle... and the Golden Gate Bridge- summer (?) 2004

Skiing at Lake Tahoe!  Only did it a few times. Then decided I was happier staying in a warm cabin with hot chocolate while the others played in the snow ; )   - Feb 2005

Freshly graduated from my Montessori teacher training program-- May 2005

Austin City Limits Festival with Zach and Danyelle-- Sept 2006

Zach Chile 036
In Zapallar during the 3-week trip Zach and I took to Chile with my dad.  It was my first time back in about 9 years-- May 2007

Zachs Grindelwald 025
In the mountains near Grindelwald, Switzerland... and about 2 months pregnant.  =)  July 2007

baby shower
At the surprise baby shower our ex-pat friends threw for me in Geneva.  I think D was born just 2 weeks after this--  January 2008

Our first family photo, moments after D's birth-- Feb 3, 2008

And into thr throes of parenthood, we go... This was soon after we came home, several hours after the birth.  I think he cried for a good 30 minutes before Zach and I finally realized all he needed was a fresh diaper-- Feb 2008

mom and me
Donovan and I, in our temporary apartment, sometime in the first month after we moved back to the US from Switzerland-- Sept 2008

The photographer emerges.  ; )  January 2009

Family portrait in Lake Tahoe... and pregnant, once again.  =)  June 2010

27 weeks pregnant, and ready to head out for my birthday dinner Saturday night -- Sept 2010

I look back even just on the past 10 years and everything that has happened-- all I have accomplished, all I have gone through, how much I have changed...  and I can't help but feel excitement and wonder at seeing what the next 10 years (and beyond) will bring.

PS- You can still help me celebrate my birthday by helping bring clean water to people in Central African Republic!  Donations accepted through the end of September.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

potty conundrum

I've been initiating potty training D for a little over a year now, just working off and on.  I've made a point to make it a very low-pressure deal-- if he was interested, great! If not, I haven't pushed.  I've heard way too many stories of potty training becoming a power struggle that leaves everyone involved a frustrated mess and am trying very hard not to fall into that trap.  We've had a few successes along the way, but then either through me not following through consistently or him losing interest, it never really gets very far.  I've been fine with this so far...  sure, it'd be nice to have the process be done with sooner, but I don't want to rush him if he's not ready.

Except lately I'm starting to feel more anxious about it all.  I know he's only 2.5yrs old, which is "young" as far as typical potty training of boys in the US.  But, I'm looking ahead at the coming months/year and starting to feel the pressure.  In 3 months I'll have a baby, seriously cutting down on my available time/energy/patience.  I've also found a montessori school that I love and want him to start going to sometime in the spring/summer.  I think he'll love the experience of going to school, and it'd also give me a chance to have one-on-one time with the baby.  But, he has to be potty trained before he can start.  And then there's how everyone says to potty train in the summer b/c it's warmer and so more comfortable for wearing fewer clothes, but temps are already starting to cool so that opportunity is quickly slipping away for this year...

And so I'm caught b/c I'm not quite sure how to proceed from here on out.  Right now we have potty chairs scattered around the house, along with child seats to go in the big toilets in our bathrooms.  About once a day I'll ask him to sit on the potty (which he currently says no to every time).  He's very familiar with the process, he talks about peeing and pooping in the potty, has been coming into the bathroom with me ever since he could move on his own.... but seems to have little interest in using the toilet himself.  I don't know if I should keep up being so laid-back about it, or if he needs more pushing... but am afraid if I do try harder he'll resist more and it'll become this Big Deal.

And maybe I just need to remember that he's the only one who can decide when he's ready to use the toilet and that I have little control over the situation.  All along I've had this idea of how nice it'd be for him to train early.  When we moved him from his crib back to a bed at 18 months, part of my reasoning was that he just seemed so grown up in so many ways, that a "baby" crib didn't seem to "fit."  I'm getting that same sense now, where he seems to grown up and so capable that it feels odd to still have to lie him down to change his diaper.  But, this is also one of the many lessons of parenthood-- things don't always go as you planned/imagined, and you're not the one holding the reigns.  Maybe I should just trust in D that he'll let me know when it's time.

Anyone have thoughts/words of wisdom to impart?  I think I could use them.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

our mid-week mini-weekend

Today may be Tuesday, but it's felt like a Sunday all day long, meaning my whole week will feel all off.  But, it will feel like a short one, so that'll be nice. ; )

Zach left Friday evening to spend the night in SF with his brother, then fly to Texas on Saturday for a friend's wedding.  Sounds like he had a lot of fun, and was probably nice to have a trip where he could just focus on seeing friends rather than our usual family-centric trips.  I do find it amusing how it's acceptable for him to go to Austin on his own, but if I were to plan a trip there and not bring D with me there would likely be mutiny from the grandparents. ; )

He flew back to CA Monday evening, getting home long after I'd gone to bed.  Being the wonderful, thoughtful husband that he is, he planned to take today off to spend with us to make up for having been gone for 3 days.  Hence, why today felt like a Sunday.  It was a pretty nice day-- the 3 of us headed out to a park for a playdate with my mom's group, then D got to show Zach his mad shopping skills at Trader Joe's as he pushed his kid-sized shopping cart through the store.  He conked out for a good nap, and then the 2 of them visited the railroad museum for the afternoon.

A few days ago the chain on D's bike came off its track, so when they got back from the museum Zach set to work trying to fix it and tighten up some stuff that had wiggled loose over time.  D worked diligently by his side, tinkering and banging the bike with his 2 screwdrivers and a wrench.  Zach told me later he was having trouble doing any work on the bike, since D was being so darn cute and kept making him laugh! But, the bike is now fixed, and we took it on one "victory lap" around the block before heading back and making dinner.

So now it's just a 3-day week before the weekend again, and then.... (dun dun duuuun) on Monday is my BIRTHDAY!  This is my last week as a 20-something.  It is also the last week of my 2nd trimester.  I'm not sure we'll even do much for my actual birthday (Zach is supposed to be planning a kid-free weekend get-away for us that will likely take place sometime in October).  I'm not terribly excited about the day itself since it'll likely be pretty low-key, but I'm also not dreading it or anything.  I figure life's been pretty good so far, and I don't see why turning 30 should change that.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Birth in the news

Lately I've noticed articles about childbirth popping up in mainstream news websites.  What's surprising about these articles is not so much them covering birth per say, but they way they're doing it-- bringing attention to the ever-rising c-section rate (and that it might not necessarily be a good thing), treating home birth as a viable option and exploring the risks and benefits in a fairly unbiased manner.

This is exciting.  It's nice to see someone like TIME asking the questions many of us feel like outsiders for trying to bring up.  ; )

Too Many C-sections: Docs Re-Think Induced Labor (TIME)

High c-section rate may have something to do with impatience (LA Times)

Should American Women Learn to Give Birth at Home? (TIME) (BTW, I kind of hate that title. I feel it's misleading to what the article itself is about. But, the article is good, so am linking it regardless)

The thing is, it's not that hospitals, doctors, or nurses are evil, or that c-sections, inductions, or epidurals are bad (we've been very grateful for hospitals and good doctors and nurses when we've had to take D in for an illness, and been satisfied with the care we got).  But a look at our ever-rising national c-section rate* (32.3% of all births as of 2008, up from 5.5% in 1970), and the fact that our infant and maternal mortality rates are among the highest of any developed nation (and in some cases are actually rising instead of falling) should be a wake-up call that something is not right with the way we currently handle birth.

Personally, I think all these numbers would look much better if we could find ways to provide all women with a safe and comfortable environment for giving birth (whether that's in a hospital, birthing center, or at home; with an epidural, other pain medication, or none; on dry land or in water; etc) and limit interventions to when they are truly medically necessary (as opposed to turning to them for convenience, or fear of litigation).  But that's just me.  ; )

* If you're curious, The Unnecesarean has compiled stats and numbers for the c-section rates of 16 different states within the US (broken down by hospitals within each state), along with comparisons of the rates of other countries around the world.  The numbers are quite interesting.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Video: Reflections of Motherhood

I saw this video recently, and just had to share it.  It is beautiful, touching, literally brought tears to my eyes.    Nummies.com asked mothers what advice they wish they could go back in time to share with themselves, before their first child was born.  This is the result.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

fun with spoons & boxes

You know, I think one of the things that's so nice about when you're pregnant the first time is that you are simply blissfully unaware of what's ahead.  You think of having that cute little baby, and sure you know in your head that you'll be sleep deprived and yadda yadda yadda, but you don't really realize what that means till you go through it.

Part of me is very excited about having a newborn around again.  And part of me is also afraid, because I do still remember what those early (and not so early) months felt like-- how utterly, completely tired you feel, like your mind is in a fog,m and you can hardly function.  And this time I'll have a toddler to deal with as well as a new baby.  I know in some ways the baby part will be easier, having gone through it before, having the knowledge and confidence that I have now that I lacked the first time.  But I'm also getting a preview now of what it's like to parent a toddler when you're super tired, and it ain't pretty.

All that said, while D can be a challenge at times, I also realize how very easy he is in many ways.  Sure, he's active and has a lot of energy, but not outrageously so.  And, he has this amazing ability to entertain himself, sometimes for fairly long periods of time.  I like to think part of that is thanks to my efforts to foster that independence in him, but I'm sure quite a bit of it is simply his nature.  I got lucky.  ; )

This week his "thing" has been playing with our cooking utensils.  He's pulled out pretty much every spatula, wooden spoon, and set of tongs from the drawer they usually reside in, and has been playing with them in the living room each day.  Sometimes they go in and out of the Soap.com box that arrived on Tuesday.  Other times they go into the bed of his dump truck, and get pushed all around the kitchen and living room.  He'll squeal with laughter and yell, "Oh my gosh, what happened??" every time a set of spoons falls off the back, and then puts them back on and repeats the whole game.

And I enjoy it.  I sit back in our old, ugly, but oh-so-comfortable chair we still have from college, put my feet up, sometimes grab my ipod and check twitter, or simply watch as he plays.  These breaks are golden, and I know I need to take advantage of them and recharge while I can if I have any hope of making it through the tantrums and melt-downs that are sure to follow later in the day.

Things are, thankfully, going better than they were last week.  It helps that I'm not quite as tired, so I have more patience.  Which means I don't raise my voice, which then means D doesn't yell back at me as much, and it's all just a big feedback loop, isn't it?  And it goes in both directions.  I also pulled out my copy of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk and reviewed some of the chapters and tips.  I love the cartoon summaries-- cheesy, sure, but they make it very easy to review the basics quickly.  It's not magic, but it does seem to help.


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