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Archive for June, 2007

Breakfast: Oatmeal (enough for two people) with 1 tbl of flax seed oil & some sugar in it.
Lunch: Lentils (protein) that I made yesterday.
Snack: French fries and tater tots, hummus (protein) & carrots, and a small bowl of Cocoa Krispies
Dinner: Black beans (protein) with onions & garlic.

The tater tots and hummus had soybean oil in them. I’m not sure at this point of how strict I need to be about by-products. I’m keeping an eye on em’ just in case. And as you can see, I had a total carb-need attack this afternoon between lunch and dinner. Tomorrow, I’m heading out to Whole Foods to see what treats I can get for days like this. I also have a very good friend who eats a lot healthier than what I am eating (a lot of raw dishes) so I’m trying to gleam some healthy food snacks from her recipe box.

We have been using the steroid cream on Bella’s tough spots, the prescription lotion all over her body and some antibiotic cream when her skin oozes (which its not doing any more). It is working! I have a feeling her skin will be at 100% tomorrow and we’ll be able to bring the daily skin regiment down to just the lotion!

Look ma, no gloves!

After Max did some finger/hand painting I threw his arse in the pool! We had a pretty busy day.

Hanging out on the porch…

This is what we are watching…

I always hug and kiss on Bella as much as possible when I have her to myself. Whenever Max is with us he insists that Bella is his baby and hogs all the kisses and hugs! Notice how Bella is keeping her eyes on her big bro.

Around 5 pm I gave Max a bath. Afterwards, as I was lathering his skin with lotion he fell fast asleep. Of-course, he’s wide awake right now at almost 9:30pm, in his room playing with papa.

And yes, I realize I’m a photo ho! At the end of this year, I’m going to turn this blog into a book. Not because I think someone will buy it.  Heaven’s no!  I’m printing this out because it is a part of our family lore.

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I’m going to start recording what I eat. Part to make sure I’m eating well and part because I don’t think I will be able to look back on this time in my life and believe I actually ate this well.

Last night:

Dinner: Canned baked beans, brown rice, and a salad the same as what I had for lunch today.

Today:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with sugar and grapes
Lunch: Salad made with spinach, romaine lettuce, carrots, purple onions, cucumbers, celery, a mixture of sprouted beans (for protein), & balsamic vinegar dressing (Paul Newman’s). 1 tbl of flax seed oil added.
Dinner: Lentils (protein) with cut up carrot and celery. Spiced just right, which for me means salty. Brown rice.

Today, for the first time, I felt really good all day. I enjoyed my kids more today than I have since Bella joined our family. I looked at Bella and actually thought I could have another one.

I felt like, I don’t want this to end! I want my kids to stay this age forever!

Hahahahaha! Even I have to laugh at the absurdity of that sentiment. However, its nice to be in the flow of things.

I just love these kids so much.

Please slap me now. Hard.

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I took Bella to the allergist and he didn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. He did, however, have the power to prescribe an oral antibiotic, a different steroid cream, and order a blood test for allergies. The last being the only use of his power I found helpful. So, until I get the blood test done (it will test for soy, dairy, nut, egg, wheat, and dander allergies), we are sitting in the same boat as before.

I tell ya, doctors really piss me off. They think they have power over you. And more often than not, once you’ve gone to them you’ve already relinquished your power of choice. When he said to me, “and if her skin doesn’t clear up with my treatment plan, I’m going to have to put her on formula,” my internal red-light went on.

Everyone and their brother knows that breast milk is what is best for babies – especially a baby that is showing signs of allergies! I asked him, “well, how would that be better when there are so many ingredients in formula?” He stammered a little then mustered out this bull-shit info, “well, yes, BUT, there is one formula that is very basic.” then he changed the subject.

So here is where I’m at… get the blood work done in hopes that it sheds some light of information. Get the scripts filled “just in case” because she does have a lot of open soars from scratching and I know a bacteria infection is possible – though she currently does not have one. And tighten my diet – even more.

FUUUUUUUUCK!

It’s time to strictly cut out soy, dairy, all tree nuts, egg, and wheat. I am very suspicious of wheat right now because last week her skin was pretty cleared up, then I ate large amounts of pasta on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night and now she is miserable with an eczema flare-up. I had not been paying attention to wheat, before.

I know eventually this will get under control. It HAS got too!

My little girl… she is still so beautiful and happy despite going through so much at such a tender age.

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Max is now sleeping with papa and Camus. He has shunned his own room and settled for the bed closest to mommy. I don’t mind because at least he’s no longer in my bed cramping my joints. Papa doesn’t mind because he never got to co-sleep with Max as a baby and feels like he is bonding with him even more so as a toddler. All is good.

However, Max is either very clever or the sweetest kid ever.

Last night after story time and lights out we heard Max whimpering. Then came the tears. We kept asking him, “what’s wrong sweetie? What’s wrong, Max?” All he could get out between tears was, “Bella.” So Hal asked, “are you sad that Bella is sleeping with mommy and you can’t?” He either said no or didn’t answer so we kept asking him, so what is wrong, then? Why are you sad?

Finally he said in his sweetest voice, “I’m sad.”

Okay. What are you sad about? Hal and I were both moved by his tenderness and his communication of feelings.

“I’m sad about Bella.” We consoled him some more and asked, what about Bella makes you sad?

“I sad about Bella’s skin.” And then the floodgate of tears opened up in him.

We assured him we are going to help Bella get better and then…

He asked to crawl into mommy’s bed because he wanted to hug.

Once he was in he instantly fell asleep. Hal had to carry him back into their bed. So I’ve concluded, Max is both very clever and the sweetest kid ever.

Max in his ponies (and what we imagine Bella will look like at his age):

Max is well aware that Bella is uncomfortable and itchy. He knows what “itchies” are like because he too has eczema. He knows mommy is very sad that Bella is itchy and that I don’t have the magic cure for her, yet. He also knows that while him and Papa are going to the movies today (Max’s first movie theater experience!), mommy is taking Bella to the doctors. He knows all of this because I talk with him about what happens in our home.

One thing I make a point to do with my kids is to talk about life and feelings. When stuff comes up, we talk about it. Toddlers may not understand the abstract ideas behind what makes people “feel” but they do need a language presented to them to start the education of learning about their emotions. An education that I think generations before us neglected. I try to weave this education into our daily life without it seeming like some kind of weird classroom lesson that needs to be repeated and memorized. Saying something as simple as, “mommy is so sad that Bella is suffering but we will find a way to help her.” And then move on to what ever is next – playing with toys, cleaning a poopy butt, ect.

If it is a big feeling that Max is having – usually anger – I talk with him like this, “Max, I know you are very angry right now because mommy won’t give you any chocolate but please don’t hit me.” Then I give him an alternative, “You can scream, I’m angry!, or hit something soft like your pillow – but we don’t hurt people when we are angry.” This conversation happens several times a day. Sometimes he remembers to say (with force), “I’M ANGRY!” and sometimes he doesn’t. Eventually, he will remember all the time. It is the same thing with him having to be reminded about “manners.”

The tricky part is when I’m angry. I need to appropriately express my anger as well. And when I was angry at him and dealing with 5 different life crises, I didn’t do so well. So, I have figured out that hitting/hurting my kids doesn’t work on ANY level – duh, right? There was a part of me that was *hoping* that Max would “get it” (re: hurting Camus or Bella) after being spanked. This hoping (mixed with being at one’s wits end) is probably the reason many of good and loving parents resort to spanking their child.

Where does this lead? On the whole, when the day only presents it’s usual list of challenges, I’m pretty laid back and rarely raise my voice. I am very proud of this personality trait, but my pride stops there – at “when the day only presents it’s usual list of challenges.” I need some more “tools” in my box for those extraordinarily difficult days – because I’m sure there will be many more to come. And you better believe I’ll get those tools sooner rather than later – for both mine and my kid’s sake.

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Party Party

Bella woke up around 2:30 am, Saturday morning, and kept Hal and I awake until around 4:30 am. Hal had to get up at 5 am to set up for a Bike Rodeo he organized at the library. To top it off, he had minimal help because the county budget cuts forced a county wide hiring-freeze. Poor Papa, he had a tiresome Saturday.

I, on the other hand, got to sleep in until almost 9 am! Max went to bed pretty late Friday night and Bella’s interrupted sleep (thanx to teething) worked in my favor. Like my mama always says, there’s a first time for everything! After crawling out of bed, soar but rested, I drank my morning cup of joe and started making Max’s friend, Owen, his birthday gift (a robot bank). Max loves making things – a love I should jump on and play up – so the process of making this robot bank was pretty fun. The party was from 2-4pm, which I thought was a really short party.

I gave myself all morning to get ready for this party. Making Owen’s gift took a toll on my hands so everything I did thereafter needed to be done with thought and very slowly. I was pleased when my kids and I were ready to leave the house with ample time to pick Hal up from work and stop at the health food store. We arrived at Owen’s with ten minutes to spare. Oh yeah… on time!

My friend Tonya, Owen’s mom, is an amazing hostess. The food spread was already set up and she was looking beautiful and glowy, like pregnant women tend to look. I, being a fabulous guest, wasted no time making my way to the food table and loading up a plate. Max immediately went into play-mode and ran off while Hal held Bella and ate a plate of food I put together for him.

Oh yeah, dinosaurs!

People I hadn’t seen in a while started to arrive and the crowd thickened with kids and laughter. As I was talking to another friend with two young children, commiserating and relating, I felt at ease and as usual – so happy to have made it out of my house.

There were a lot of second-time pregnant women there. And for the first time, I felt no envy of their beautiful round bellies. Thank God! It feels good to know our family is complete. I imagine that no matter how many children you want, the finality of knowing you are done is comforting. At least until the kidos are older and babies start looking sweet as pie, again. But I digress…

If you know me and actually read this blog you will come to see that I speak of my life very much the same as I write about it. Well, I was talking to a woman I had not seen in a long time who has a two year old and is pregnant with her second. I was in the groove of sharing my experiences with two kids when she looked at me in a familiar way (read: in a, you are giving me too much information, kind of way) and abruptly, with a smile and hands up in the air, said, “I don’t want to know what it is going to be like!” It wasn’t offensive, actually, her tone was humorous and made me laugh. However, in that moment I realized I had become THAT woman. You know, THAT woman who tells horror stories of her labor to a first time pregnant mom except, I was telling of how difficult it had been to adjust to two children! Well, after we had a quick laugh at her gently drawn, very clear, boundary I said, “you know, you will be fine! Everyone has a different experience and everyone does adjust.” A weak save at best.

It’s hard to be flowery and fluffy when you are in the thick of it. Actually, I’m just now ascending out of “the thick of it” and starting to feel (and apparently look – I got a lot of compliments) human again. And when I say “human” what I really mean is, happy and social.

So next time someone wants to talk to me about what it is like adjusting to two kids, I am going to first ask, “do you want the good, or the not-so-good of it?” Before I answer.

I also have to remind others that parenting two has been difficult for me in much different ways because I have physical limitations. Dealing with pain on top of caring for a toddler and a newborn creates a special set of physical, emotional and mental challenges.

As we made the rounds to say bye to all our friends I thought to myself, “geeze, a two hour party feels like an all-nighter with this many kids running around.” I was exhausted. Max’s 3rd birthday party will be scheduled for only two hours.

This coming Saturday is Max’s bestest bud’s b-day party. Banyan! Max is always saying stuff like, “I poop on the potty like a big-boy. Like Banyan!” Or he’ll ask me, “We going to Banyan’s house?” So cute. I love how he can name all his friends when I ask him… Banyan, Iris, Jack, Owen, June-Bug, Nessy, Mommy, Daddy, & Banyan!

Quick MIL update:

We made up. No apologizing was to be had (that’s okay) but we are on good terms again. She actually made the effort to tell me that “no matter what arguments I get into with my kids, they know they can always come over.” And, “I didn’t know you guys were living on one paycheck! I am going to buy your groceries every week. Make me a list!”

So yeah, she’s on my good side again. This doesn’t mean I can ignore placing boundaries up for her, but it means we’re getting along again. And this is how our relationship has been functioning for as long as I’ve known her.

This was Hal for most of the party. Bella is so chill in his arms:

There was one other baby there – a beautiful, beautiful baby – her skin was so soft and clear. It made me sad because I want my beautiful, beautiful baby girl to have that soft baby skin that everyone wants to touch. I felt like people were afraid to touch her because of her skin. Writing it out, now, makes me feel like crying.

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I’m usually pretty good at drawing boundaries with other adults (and really good at doing it with my children). However, with adults I tend to lack the same gentle approach as I use with my kids. I shouldn’t though, because many adults are emotionally very much the same as a child. Usually not their fault, I should add, but the fault of bad luck, bad parenting, and okay, maybe a little bit their fault for not doing the work of maturing.

I’m good at recognizing when someone is asking too much of me. I’m very aware of how much I have to give to others and (eventually) stop others from taking more than I have to give. However, I’m not adept at drawing the lines before getting to that point of no return.

Two recent friendship break-ups come to mind. I’m not going to get into the sordid details (boring anyway) of what went down, but never-the-less, I felt these two individuals were emotional vampires. And while I don’t regret putting/allowing (it was mutual) an ocean of space between us, I regret how I allowed it to happen. I have a lot to learn about setting boundaries with other adults and the ol’ MIL will be my first “test subject” in how to do it gently.

She is a person I can not escape from. I can’t decide to NOT be her daughter-in-law because she is insensitive and judgmental. And I will see her [hopefully] for a long time to come because I have children with her son. The only thing I can do is to do the work of setting boundaries with her. I want to do this gently because it is very important for me to preserve a positive relationship with her and set a good example for my children.

Now, how the hell do I do this???

What has been suggested to me is to not engage her in conversation when she approaches any subject with a negative judgment. I’ve been practicing body language and verbal tone in the shower, “Yes, we too would have liked Oscar to die in our arms at an old age.” “Yes, I can assure you we have a wonderful pediatrician and we are doing everything we can for Bella’s skin.”

Michelle, you don’t have to defend your choices! You don’t need to go into detail about ANYTHING. You don’t have to explain yourself. You CAN put your hand up (like, talk to the hand) slowly, gently, and without attitude to give a strong message. You CAN gently put your hand on her shoulder. You ARE a strong woman, Michelle, and you CAN project that message without offending. Michelle, DON’T forget her limitations, again – she will only disappoint!

How am I doing?

This is not going to be easy. I want to learn.

And now I bomb you with the photos I took today and ultimately, my inspiration to become a better person…

Who needs a teething ring when you have a big brother???

Who needs a mobile when you have a big brother and a robot?

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I took Bella in to see her pediatrician on Monday for her eczema. When Dr. Blanco, a warm mature woman of Cuban decent, entered the tiny room we were waiting in, I burst into tears.

My little girl is suffering and nothing I am doing is helping her heal. I choked out between sobs.

Blanco knows me as one of her mamas who only comes in for a sick visit when my kids are really sick. This means that both my kids have had only one “sick” visit and both of them went in for eczema. Anyway, not trying to brag about how little my kids go to the doctors, just noting that I’m not the worrying kind of mama. This eczema problem has reached a level of serious.

My stomach is in knots.

Blanco prescribed a new lotion that can be used as often as needed. It is not a steroid. It seems to be helping to keep her skin hydrated (still a little flaky but not as bad), but the eczema hasn’t gone away. We are taking her to an allergist next Wednesday. I’m skeptical about how much an allergist can actually help but we are desperate which = willing to try anything. I’ve given up eating soy, dairy, and eggs. I’ve even ordered creams off the internet with no luck.

I know this is shitty but… I keep saying stuff like, “if Bella’s skin clears up tomorrow, I’ll believe in you, God.” Crappy, I know. But like I said, I’m desperate. I’m also dead serious because a part of me really wants to believe.

Bella’s suffering brings me to my MIL update. I’m going to make this brief because lord knows I can be long winded about her. We are not speaking right now by my choice. I immaturely hung up on her while she was in mid-sentence repeating a criticism she has been singing for over a month now, “you are not doing everything you can be doing to help Bella.” A judgment that Blanco assured me is not true.

MIL’s other recent criticism had to do with Oscar – you know, how she has never put one of her dogs down. They have all died in her arms. Well, I got fed up with her judgments of Hal and me and am taking a break from her bull-shit. I’m too vulnerable right now to allow such an insensitive and judgmental person to speak so freely to me. The irony of her bull-shit babble is she knows nothing about eczema or pug encephalitis. Yet, she would do so much more than me to make things better for my suffering love ones. Blah.

Oh my gosh… moving on now… I totally forgot to record that I ACTUALLY LEFT THE HOUSE WITH BOTH KIDS last Saturday! We went to the store for Hal’s father’s day gift. They were well behaved and the outing was inspiring to do it again.

A friend sent me this link…

The Spoon Theory

It very accurately describes what living with rheumatoid arthritis is like. It’s a long read but worth it if someone you love has a disease that you “can’t see.”

I really hope that my sweet babies don’t get RA.

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