Backyard Progress

Jonathan is incredible. Seriously. Over the past month, he has put about 30 hours of manual labor into making our backyard a place to be enjoyed. When we first moved in last fall, the backyard consisted of a small rectangular concrete slab against the house, two juniper trees that were ringed with dead branches around the bottom (most of which someone had unsuccessfully tried to twist/break off, leaving a brown dead twisty sharp poky disaster area), and 1″ granite rocks-lots and lots and lots of them.

Now, I am a backyard-playing kind of Mommy. I love the idea of taking my kids out back to a nice fenced-in area where I am somewhat sure that they won’t be in danger from foreign objects or animal waste products. But when we moved in and had… a wasteland… I wasn’t too thrilled. That’s why Hula Girl and I have seen more of the parks and playgrounds in the city than of our own backyard.

But all that is changed as of this weekend. Check it out.

Jonathan and Hula Girl hauling rocks... Beautiful mountains in the distance!

She was being so helpful!

Okay, so see that 1″ granite all over the ground? Yeah. That was our WHOLE yard… up until a week ago. Now, see those raised 8’x8′ garden beds? We officially have FIVE of them. Jonathan worked extremely hard on them, and I am super proud of the work he did. He had to drill holes precisely in the ends of the railroad ties, and pound at least 2 pieces of rebar (which is short for reinforcing bar) into each plank with a sledgehammer. Then he had to put up a fence with a gate around each one because we live in the land of quails and bunnies (not to be confused with milk and honey- har, dee, har…). He even had to rig up a section of garden that can be fenced across the top to keep out birds- that’s where we’ll be growing all our berries and tomatoes.

Also, see that good-looking dirt in the garden beds? That’s our new topsoil. I went to the landscaping company and told them the dimensions of our garden beds and lawn area, and they ended up telling me we needed 11 cubic yards of dirt. Um, folks, that’s a LOT of dirt. Hula Girl was thrilled when the dirt arrived because she got to watch the dump truck “pour” the dirt onto the tarps. Ever since that experience, she has been running around the house talking like a dump truck. It’s kind of a low, gravelly voice. Super funny.

So anyway, this weekend we got our sod. Yes, our glorious sod. Wonderful, green, lush, spongy sod. I could go on and on forever… but I won’t. I just love grass and the smell of it and the memories associated with it. After all, I played soccer for eleven years of my life… I spent a lot of good times on grass. And when Jonathan and I started dating, we’d go lay in the grass in a park in Pacific Beach and look out over the Sea World fireworks many evenings each week. So yeah, grass!

Grass!

Jonathan and I have been watering religiously- the manual that came with our sod said we need to water 10-15 minutes, three times per day, for the first two weeks. After that time, we can cut back to the traditional morning-and-evening watering. However, I think we might keep a short midday drink for our thirsty spears of green gloriousness because man, oh, man, there is nothing WORSE than a burned up lawn in August.

There is still much work to be done. Jonathan still needs to wheelbarrow a bunch of dirt into the last garden bed. Then we need to plan the exact placement of our seeds, driplines, and so forth. Next we need to plant seeds and lay the hoses out. Finally we need to do a general clean-up of the back patio since we can now actually enjoy sitting out there and admiring something other than granite as far as the eye can see.

But Hula Girl and I started enjoying the garden/backyard this morning. We went out for an hour and a half. She got super muddy and wet, but that’s okay. It’s warm here these days, and as long as she’s covered in ridiculous amounts of super high SPF sunscreen (still loving the California Babies stuff that we found last summer), I don’t really care what her clothes look like. As long as she’s having a good time and getting plenty of sunshine, exercise, and good ol’ fresh air. Here she is, busy as a bee:

Deciding where the flower pots should go once we get flowers for them!

The reason she got all wet- she actually stepped INTO the tub of water.

Playing in the sandbox!

Break time! All that playing tuckered me out!

And the true reason we were able to stay outside so very long…

Isn't that the most beautiful blue? It makes the (super green in real life) leaves of the cottonwood tree next door look so dull! Ah, spring!

Parenting- My Outlook

I was going to write a post that was an update on Hula Girl and Gelato… but it ended up with me rambling on and on about Jonathan’s and my parenting and why we’ve chosen to do what we do and how we plan to go about parenting in the future. So enjoy my philosophical look at parenting.

Hula Girl is almost 23 months old. That’s one month less than two years old. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Seriously, this girl is getting old quick. Soon she’s going to be riding a bike… getting her license… going off to college… getting married… (Well, who am I kidding? She’ll never be able to go to college OR get married- we simply won’t be able to afford it by the time she’s ready! Sorry, Hula Girl!) 🙂 I have been doing a lot of reminiscing and looking forward to other ages and stages in her life lately. It’s kind of fun to click through Amazon, looking for birthday gift ideas for a two-year-old. I mean, she is ready for some big-girl toys, like a low-to-the-ground tricycle (complete with helmet!) and a play kitchen and a dump truck for her sandbox! It’s hard to imagine all the things she’s going to create and pretend in the very near future, but pretend play is definitely on its way in!

I write all the time about how smart she is and how fast her language is developing, so I won’t bore you with all the details today. Suffice it to say, I’m pretty sure she’s going to keep her teachers busy!

But today, I want to discuss her behavior. Ah, yes, her tantrum-throwing, two-year-old self-centered behavior. And I want to emphasize, it really isn’t that bad! I read blogs and articles and posts on Babycenter all the time from moms whose kids are running amok. Maybe things will be different for us when Hula Girl isn’t the only young’un in the house, or maybe we were blessed with Uuber Obedient Girl, or maybe all the prayers, thought, effort, and time we’ve put into developing our own parenting style have actually produced the desired effect.

Now, before we go and say that my kid is 100% delightful and perfect, let’s acknowledge something here. She’s two. And two-year-olds aren’t perfect. They disobey, they scream, they cry when they don’t get their way. They’re stubborn, they’re loud, they’re greedy. They are in such need of guidance, patience, and grace. And fortunately, many parents are willing and able to extend that priceless combination daily. Their kids are okay! I would consider Jonathan and myself to be in that group of parents. One of our goals is to provide Hula Girl with the proper amount of guidance, patience, and grace, so that she, in turn, can grow up to be confident, patient, and kind.

But let me tell you- it is imperative for us to impress upon her the need for Jesus in her life. Our number one goal in parenting is to point our children to their Heavenly Father and to encourage and foster a relationship with Him. If we fail in this, we have failed as parents. To that end, we make sure to include prayer, Bible reading (well, she has a Bible book that has biblical stories and principles laid out simply for toddlers to understand), and discussion about Jesus’ life in our daily routine. We also encourage each other (in front of her) to live with integrity, compassion, and faith. We try to model a relationship with God and talk to her about why we make the decisions we make. And we choose parenting styles and techniques that we feel emphasize and reflect the “parenting” we all receive as God’s children.

I have received a lot of positive feedback lately from some ladies in an online parenting group I belong to and help moderate. On many separate occasions, the moms have emailed me, sent me facebook messages, and thanked me in the group posts for the advice I’ve given. The general message has been, “You’re such a great mom! You always seem to have the perfect answer for dealing with any problem. I hope I can be like you someday!”

Um, wow, that’s… blush-worthy. Seriously, if these ladies knew me in person, they’d realize how much WORK, EFFORT, STUDY, RESEARCH, PRAYER, TEARS, and FRUSTRATION it has taken me to get to this point in mommy-hood. Because, honestly, I’m kind of a really disorganized, forgetful, interpersonally clumsy, spontaneous type of person. Really. I mean, I like a plan, I like a schedule, I like a list. But without them, I’m DOOMED. I’m also terrible at making and keeping friends (hence, I have, like, none), and I’m really bad at telling other people why I do what I do. The last two sentences equate to the fact that me being a moderator on this online board has been a challenge for me.

As I pointed out to one of the moms in response to her email, my involvement with the group for over 21 months now plus my teaching experience plus my general common sense has led to me answering questions the way I do and being able to find solutions that seem simple. It really isn’t that I’m naturally gifted in Mommying. It’s also not really a hidden superpower that only some women possess. Being a “good parent” has multiple definitions, but mine is simple. If you can respond to your child’s tantrums in love even when you’ve had the roughest day of your life, you are a good parent.

And that’s another thing. There are sooooo many moms who struggle with feeling like their best isn’t good enough. They try so hard to parent by-the-book (whatever book they’ve chosen, and we all know parenting books are never 100% accurate or correct), and when any little thing goes awry, they feel like total and miserable failures. (I say “they” but I really mean  “we.” BTDT, got the T-shirt.) They are hard on themselves and feel like nothing will ever go right, so they ask for advice over every little parenting decision- “Should I stop swaddling now, at 26 weeks? Or is it better to wait until he’s 27 weeks old?” “Should we switch to a sippy cup before switching to whole milk, or switch to whole milk and then transition to a sippy?” “Should we have 3 hours of waketime before bed, or 4?” “Should I spank my daughter for this, or just give her a time out?”

Not to say that each and every one of these situations aren’t stress-inducing at some level or another. For realz, change is not easy for humans. Period. That’s why a lot of the baby/toddler years are fraught with worry and stress, not only on the part of the child going through the change, but on the part of the parents, who’ve gone from being totally free to make whatever decisions, whenever, to being totally tied down and having a brand new life utterly dependent on them, whose entire being is influenced by every decision they make! Yeah, it’s kinda stressful.

That’s why it’s absolutely necessary for any good parent to have a strong sense of confidence, consistency, and patience. When a parent is confident, the child who is disciplined will not be able to “win” because the parent will not waver. When a parent is consistent, the child who is disciplined will understand the discipline because the parent never wavers! When a parent is patient, the child is free to make mistakes as many times as it takes to “get it”- although we hope that this number will be quite small.

So, back to Hula Girl. Here’s an example of a parenting technique that we’ve adopted, and how well it works for her:

The other day, she was absolutely convinced that we needed to read her “Search and Find” book before nap. The thing is, there are not really any words for Mommy to read- just pictures to point to and talk about. That’s not really nap-like in my mind, so I told her we’d have to put away the “Search and Find” book. That really made Hula Girl upset. All the sudden, I had an almost-two-year-old falling down on the stairs and crying her little heart out because Mommy is so unfair. (I should mention that I think it’s great that she actually just started crying instead of trying to argue. It shows that I have been consistent enough in my decision making for her to know that arguing is not going to change Mommy’s mind. Score one for Mommy.) Now, I had two choices. First, I could have just picked her up, ignored the tantrum, walked her upstairs, gotten her ready for nap, and tucked her into her bed, sobbing. It would save me time getting her to bed! Second, I could have gotten down on her level, showed her some empathy, and reflected her emotions on my face and in my tone of voice until she calmed down enough to walk upstairs on her own. It would cost us 10-15 minutes extra time (crucial time before nap, too, since she was already cranky), but it would guarantee that she went down for nap calmly.

I chose option 2. I sat down on the stair right next to her, hugged her, and said, “I know it is so sad when we like a book but we have to put it away. We have a hard time doing that, don’t we?” “Yeaaahhh!” “Mommy needs you to pick a different book now so I can read to you before you have a nap. You can look at your ‘Search and Find’ book once you wake up.” She sniffled, whimpered, and wiped her nose. Then she walked up the stairs, got a book, and we went on with the naptime routine. As soon as naptime was over, I came into her room with the “Search and Find” book, handed it to her, and she beamed as she flipped through its pages in her crib for an extra thirty minutes. (Again, consistency and integrity mandated that I bring the book as soon as she woke up. I work extremely hard to remember every little promise I make to her- I want her to be able to trust me completely, since that’s they way she will need to learn to trust God someday.)

Using empathy like that at the beginning of every little episode has been SO much more work, but it has also been SO worth every little iota of strength required from me (and Jonathan). My child may cry, my child may still want her own way, but every time she is faced with a tough choice or situation, she knows that Mommy and Daddy are there to support her and to comfort her while she goes through it. I mean it with all my heart when I tell her that I will be there for her to love her and help her in every circumstance in life. We are practicing now, when the stakes are small, so that later, when the stakes are much higher, she will know who she can trust, who will guide her lovingly, and who will encourage her to make the right decision.

A couple of people have asked me what parenting books I’ve read and used when raising Hula Girl. I won’t say that I agree with any of these 100%, but I will say that they have been the most influential in guiding my thinking and decision making. I’m also interested in reading a few more, but I don’t want to inundate my brain with extraneous information. So, here’s what I’ve read and implemented (so far): Babywise, Babywise II, Pre-Toddler Wise, Toddler Wise, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, The Baby Whisperer Solves all your Problems, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers, and  Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood. L&L Magic for Early Childhood is my favorite, by far. 🙂

Growing up so fast…

Today it struck me how much more grown-up Hula Girl has become, even in the past few weeks!

Linguistically, she’s gaining almost by the hour. I just can’t get over her amazing sentences and how they include articles now. Even though she still copies most of what we say, she’s also making up really long, detailed, and often hilarious, sentences of her own. She’s distinguishing whose is whose using possessives. And her vocabulary is growing tremendously.

She’s SMART. I frequently (every time we go anywhere) get comments on how smart she is. I fully attribute that to two main things: genes and me. Let me clarify (so that you don’t think I’m being egotistical):

  • Jonathan’s side of the family is full of brainiacs. Just look at their credentials- you’ll notice that they value education far too much for it to be something that’s really hard for any of them. My side of the family ain’t exactly full o’ dummies, either. Eleven teachers in the family might give you the idea that we also value education and we’re not afraid to use it. So yeah, Hula Girl was pretty much guaranteed to have some natural aptitude.
  • I spend pretty much every waking moment (hers, not mine), with her. The only exceptions to this rule are roomtime, times when she wakes early in the mornings or from naps, and times when she’s with other family members. And I don’t exactly sit with her and watch TV all day. It’s not like I push her to learn new things, but I do encourage her to explore, and I am always on the lookout for things she is interested in at the time. Recently she’s been interested in letters. So we’ve done a lot of letter identification, spelling, and “pre-reading” activities. This is why, when we are at the storytime rug, my 22-month-old can walk around the rug and correctly identify every one of the letters. No, other moms, we’re not showing off… she just really likes letters. Because I am able to maintain a very consistent focus on her and her interests, she learns things quickly and efficiently. I always tell others who comment on how smart she is, “It’s because I am with her all the time, and we talk all the time, about everything. She really likes to learn!”

Her look is becoming far less “baby” and far more “girl”… this is the one that really makes me sad. I realize that kids do have to grow up. But she’s losing a lot of that precious baby/early toddler roundness. Her tummy is still a little sticky-out froggy tummy (as all toddler tummies should be!), but her chest and shoulders are thinning and her leg muscles are starting to show through the chubs. In fact, I even noticed last night that her little thighs aren’t quite so pudgy anymore… sigh. But the thing that really set in her “little girl” look today was this…

Her very first "hairdo"... two tiny butterfly clips, a "Mohmee-teel," and a flower clip. Tear.

Yes, she let me do her hair for the first time. And… her hair was long enough for me to do something with it. It’s not quite so wispy-fine as it used to be. No more candyfloss light blondie-blonde, either. (For those of you who are wondering, there is NO hint of red on that head! Just blonde as can be.) And of course, she’s reading. Oh, and see that white speck on her back? “Wuzz?” Yep, she still loves her “wuzz”… and now she can say the end of the word! Ha!

FYI- I’d like to take a moment to recognize that I have never ever posted a picture of Hula Girl on my blog before… and I will never post a picture of her face. Same for Gelato, when he arrives. Jonathan and I do not wish to open our kids to risk in this way. If you’re my facebook friend, you’ve seen her cutie patootie face plenty of times, anyway. I just really needed to share this picture to give you the scope of what my emotions are dealing with today. 

So there you have it. My growing-up girl. I can’t believe how fast it’s going, especially now that she’s past the 18-21 month developmental leap. To quote one of my smartest (though not by blood) relatives: “Yipe.

Brave(ish)

Okay, y’all, my Hula Girl is brave. As in, not afraid of anything, runs around like she’s the queen of the forest, climbs and jumps like a monkey, brave. She’s also a bit reserved. I like that about her. No, I don’t think it’s rude if she doesn’t automatically say hi, wave, smile, and blow kisses to the old man sitting in the entrance to the Y. Just sayin’.

So, brave-

Hula Girl has been slightly afraid to go down slides her entire life. Her first slide was this Kangaroo Climber slide which was given to her for “Christmas” (she might have received it a few months early so she could actually use it before the snow fell) by Grammy and Grampy. I should also note here that hers is different colors since it’s a slightly older model (YES, yard sales are the way to go when it comes to kids’ toys). Anyway, it took her a full week to really get used to climbing up and sliding down the slide. She was afraid of sliding down it for some reason. We even put down a nice green “landing pad” made of indoor/outdoor carpeting stuff. But she did finally get used to it. Now she can climb up the outside, crawl through all the holes, and clamber any which way she deems acceptable at the moment.

Her next slide was this slide by Little Tikes (again, different colors/slightly different model). We actually keep this one inside the house because during those long winter months, it was just necessary.  It took her about a week to get fully comfortable climbing up the ladder and getting situated comfortably for a nice, easy slide down on her bottom. She has had this one around for a few months as well, and now she climbs up the slide itself (she learned how to take her socks off by herself just so that she can manage this feat) and jumps down the ladder part. She also feels quite confident going down the slide “on mummy” (on her tummy) and spends the greater part of her free time sending various toys down the slide before her.

She recently conquered the littlest kid slide at the playground near our house. It is less than four feet high at the top, but it does have a sharp curve about halfway down. She would not go near any other slides on the playground for at least a month.

Then, we found a new and much nicer playground near our house, and it has a couple of preschool slides- she went down those with no hesitation on her first visit to the park. However, she has yet to repeat that experience. The second time we went, we took Jonathan with us, and he took Hula Girl down the BIG KID slides. I am not kidding when I tell you these slides start at least fifteen feet from the ground. There is one twisty corkscrew one and one bumpity-bump one. (I have to ask, why do they do that to poor kids? I mean, when you go down the bumpity-bump slides, doesn’t your rear-end hate you for the rest of the day? Not to mention the damage done to your spine, brain, and jaw. Seriously, park designers. Just build a slide that’s longer and has a gentler slope. Then you don’t have to put bumps in the slide and all of us will save millions in chiropractor bills. Sheesh.) Anyway, Hula Girl was terrified of these slides, but since Daddy went with her, she agreed to give them a try. She went down each one time and then asked to go back on the swing.

But all that hesitation ended after that park visit. The day following her surgery, the Saturday before Easter, my mom (Grammy) took Hula Girl to a park near Grammy and Grampy’s house. Hula Girl met some boys there who were really kind and sweet to her, and the eldest boy (about 8 years old) took very special care of Hula Girl. He took her down the “boob ide” (tube slide) and sat right next to her and showed her how to use her feet to help slow down her descent. After that moment, she lost all reservation and went down numerous slides- straight, curvy, bumpity-bump, corkscrew, and tubes. All by herself. Grammy said she about had a heart attack watching this little bitty girl who doesn’t even really have any more hair than wispy baby fuzz still going down these huge slides built for big kids all by herself. Yikes, I am so glad I wasn’t actually there.

And then today, at the Pirate Pool, Hula Girl told me she wanted to go down the big slide. I have told her no in the past because “only big kids” can go down the slide. So today, she asked me, “Bib ide?” and  I responded, “Maybe…” She told me, “No, onee bib deeds.” (No, only big kids.) But I said, “Well, if you really want to try it, you can go down the big slide today.” “YEAH!”

She tried it, she loved it, she repeated it at least seven times. And I can officially breathe a sigh of relief because I have jumped that hurdle in my own thinking and I have seen that my little girl really is capable of doing this big scary thing, so I don’t have to worry about it any more. Several other moms, and the lifeguard, asked me how old Hula Girl is, and were shocked to hear she’s only 22 months old. “Wow, she’s brave! Is she ever afraid of anything?”

Why yes, in fact, just try waving to her and saying hi. You’ll see she’s afraid of some things! 🙂

Pregnancy #2- 24 Weeks

Things are going well! Gelato is a little over a foot long and a little over a pound in weight. He’s gaining a few ounces per week, and he’ll soon start “filling out.” His skin is becoming less see-through (which is good, if you ask me), and his taste buds are very sensitive. Good thing I like to eat a variety of foods (no, Mom, I don’t live on sugar).

I have been feeling pretty good in the past couple of weeks. I got through all the morning sickness a while back (around 15 weeks is when it was gone for good) and then I started feeling a lot of lower back/hip pain. This is a symptom that I had during the last pregnancy, and it’s brutal. I don’t know if it has to do with the way I stand or walk or sleep or whatnot, but when the pain sets in, it’s difficult for me to move. Fortunately that has really subsided, and unless I really overdo it, I only have minor aches and pains that are easy to ignore.

I have also been quite sleepy lately. I have made it a point to get in a nap every day this week, and since Hula Girl has graced me with such awesome long naps, I have been averaging an hour and  a half per nap! I also fall asleep very early in the evenings, around 8:30 or 9:00 (if left to my own devices- sometimes I stay up later to, oh, do our taxes, or something similar…). Then I don’t wake up until at least 7:00 in the morning, so I’m averaging somewhere around 11.5 hours of sleep per day. YES. I keep saying how glad I am to be a stay-at-home-mom during this pregnancy since it really has wiped me out so much more than the last one did. I think it’s because I’m chasing a toddler, and not just corraling wild monkeys (aka 5th graders). When I was teaching, the kids pretty much knew the routine and I didn’t have to carry them up and down stairs to time out all day long. I didn’t have to pick them up to place them on the big potty. I didn’t have to keep up with them while they ran down hills to save their noses from getting scarred for life in case of a fall. I didn’t have to climb up all the jungle gym equipment at the park to ensure they were safe from jumping off a cliff-sized platform. I didn’t have to push them in strollers or pull them in wagons. No, teaching was pretty cushy, even when pregnant. I got to sit in my chair and swivel and scoot around the front of the room, getting up occasionally to belly-bump my way through the rows and columns to ensure good behavior and excellent work habits.  Yes, I still required those two things from thirty kids at once. But to teach those things to a toddler while pregnant- whole new ball game. Whew. No wonder I sleep a lot.

Everyone says you crave savory/salty things with a boy and sweet things with a girl. Um, nope. Load up my dessert plate, and get ready for round two. Seriously, this boy is a chocolate fiend. I blame him for MAKING me eat chocolate every day. He punches me if I don’t. “What can I do? My belly alien is forcing me!” I do try to eat really well, and I’ve been very cognizant of the foods going into my outside-of-me-family lately. We’ve almost cut out all packaged foods. Our next step is to locate and purchase as much organic produce as we can afford. I am STOKED to have our garden this summer so I can feel free to gorge myself on delicious organic tomatoes, strawberries, melons, squashes, and sweet peas. Yahoo!

I’ve already decided that since Hula Girl did so much better when I was on an elimination diet, I am going to just start an elimination diet a couple weeks before Gelato’s due date, and keep it up until he’s a bit older. I will add food groups into my diet slowly, just to make sure I catch any kind of reaction he has. I am positive that the elimination diet was the most beneficial thing I did while nursing Hula Girl- her reflux was almost nonexistent once I started. It was a lot of work and cravings (and denying those cravings), but it was totally worth it to me. I am terrified that Gelato will have crazy reflux like his big sister had, so I’m going to just be proactive. So, if you DO decide to send/bring/make food for our family, know that Jonathan and Hula Girl are the only ones who’ll eat it (at least at first); don’t be offended when I eschew your delicious lasagna for… turkey and sweet potatoes… again. 🙂

I’ve decided on a theme for Gelato’s nursery- woodland gnomes and creatures! Hedgehogs, foxes, toadstools, owls, and gnomes! Can I just say that I LOVE gnomes and I always always always have? In fact, one of my requirements for doing our garden again this summer was that we will have a garden gnome or two peeping out from among the veggies. Anyway, back to the nursery- I’m going to get a white crib, rocker, and changing table (I’ll paint a gnome on the changing table), a plush green rug from IKEA (to look like grass/moss on the forest floor), white “tree” silhouettes on navy curtains (I’ll probably cut these out of felt), and a giant toadstool ottoman/storage container (my dad is building this for me out of an old tree stump).  I found some perfect (albeit a bit expensive) fabric online, which I will use to cover the rocker cushions and which my mom has suggested using for the crib skirt. I will be making a “mobile” of sorts to hang over the changing table- I’ll get a nice thick branch and spray paint it white and hang plush forest creatures from it. EEEEEEEE! I am soooo excited to see how it all turns out! The only thing left to decide is what to do with the walls- paint them, keep them white, add texture somehow? Not sure. We don’t want to do anything too permanent since this is a rental house, after all.

We received a TON of baby boy clothes for Gelato over Easter weekend. Literally, this boy will not need new clothes until he’s at least a year old. Sigh of relief! That makes things a lot easier (and cheaper) for us! Thank you, kind contributers! We were so fortunate to receive so much stuff, because we went through the clothes and we were able to choose things we liked rather than just keeping things because they were free. We also scored a ton of stain-free stuff that way (hard to find when looking at used baby clothes)! Jonathan was over the moon to be picking out clothes for his son. Hula Girl just wanted to try everything on. I was sitting there thinking (and saying , frequently), “Will he really be this little?!??!!”

So, the preparations have begun, and things are looking good. Yay!

 

Another Sugery Update and 22 Months

Yep, I’m combining my Hula Girl topics here. Just want to play a little catch-up. I will be posting details about pregnancy and Gelato tomorrow, at 24 weeks.

Hula Girl seems to be doing well in general. She had a busy, busy week last week, including a few early wakeups in the mornings to get to appointments, shortish naps (and nights) due to overstimulation and overtiredness, and just a lot of stuff going on. It has been nice to be home since Monday, even though we miss Grammy and Grampy.

Her eye is actually still leaking, and not draining down through the duct. I know the ophthalmologist said that it could take a few days post-surgery to really see good results, and I guess the fluid is less sticky/profuse, but I am concerned that the duct was not completely unblocked. Worst case scenario would be that the duct will never be completely unblocked, and that we will just have to be very cautious and watch out for infections. We have seen much less bloody discharge from the eye (absolutely none today), so perhaps we’re on the positive side of the situation and I’m just being impatient.

One side effect of her previous week has been her penchant for sleeping this week. I could tell she was working up a sleep debt and that she was becoming overtired because her naps were generally shorter than usual, and her morning wakeups were up to an hour before her normal time. So we buckled down with early bedtimes and early naptimes, and we’ve really reaped some benefits from that during the past few days. She slept for a 3-hour nap on Sunday (not unheard of, but not her norm), then took a 3.5-hour nap Monday and Tuesday. She even fell asleep flat on her face on the floor during her independent playtime on Tuesday!!! Yesterday (Tuesday) when I woke her from her nap at 4:30, she was groggy and upset that I woke her up. So we did an early bedtime last night, and she actually slept in all the way to her waketime of 8:00 this morning.

Okay, that’s all the surgery update info I will have until our follow-up on Friday. So here’s stuff about her as a 22-month-old:

Potty Training and Early Waking: I have been wondering (and I will need to post this as a question on our Babywise Moms group) if she’s actually been waking earlier in the mornings due to potty issues. I know that the first and second mornings she woke an hour early, she had poopooed. I also know that she’s been waking dry from naps, and does NOT like to use her diaper. (After surgery on Friday, we got her home and she had not used her diaper at all- not even when under general anesthesia- but she went running to the potty as soon as her jammies and diaper were off.) I thought perhaps her early morning wakings were due to her needing to go potty but being aware that her diaper was her only option. Sure enough, when I got her out of her crib this morning at 8:00, her diaper was still dry. Um, yeah, my 22-month-old held her peepee all night. And, MAN, did she drink a lot yesterday. All her milk (16 oz total) plus at least 3 sippy cups of water (so around 30 oz). When I took her to the “big potty upstairs in [Hula Girl]’s bathroom,” she went for quite a while. Hm, I wonder if we need to transition to a big girl bed and put a potty in her room. Yikes.

“Terrible Twos”: Her personality is springy and bouncy and chipper and easy, like always. She has had some moments of “terrible twos” behavior, but those are easily overcome or quickly forgotten. She has been quite insistent on having some things exactly her way, but she’s learning that there is a balance between what Hula Girl wants and what Mommy wants, and Mommy’s desires often take precedence. For example, when we leave the house, Hula Girl sometimes doesn’t want to wear pants (or skirt or shorts) or undies, but Mommy insists.Aren’t Moms a pain sometimes? These moments are fleeting and, like I already said, quickly forgotten in our daily activities.

Eating Habits: Kid loves to eat. She will eat a variety of foods, but her absolute favorites are grapefruits (“day-doopssss”), oranges (“oh-wees”), and frozen corn (“woh-wee norn”). I have found that sometime she won’t eat a particular food that she liked yesterday, and in that case I can just offer it in a slightly different arrangement or style, and she’ll eat it up (hence her recent passion for frozen corn). She has not been into eating meat lately (I’ve heard this is pretty common with toddlers), so I have been working to provide protein in other things, like tofu bites (sick, but cover them in ketchup, and she devours them), beans, cheese, and smoothies (she won’t eat yogurt right now, but she’ll slurp down a smoothie like no one’s business). Occasionally she’ll try a bite of something, make a face, take it out, and put it to the side. This is fine. She is allowed to put any food to the side, and we don’t fuss over it at all. I have seen a lot of foods that were on the sidelines make their way back into the favorites category, and vice-versa. I figure we’ll just go with what her tastebuds are telling her, as long as we just keep offering healthful foods. It’s not like she spits out a strawberry in favor of a cookie. She has never had that option. But she might spit out a piece of zucchini in favor of a tomato. Meh, oh well! We ARE teaching her to say, “No, thank you,” when she takes food out of her mouth.

Growth: Our recent doctor’s office visits have given us a clue about her growth- she weighs 28 pounds and is 33 inches tall. I just used the Baby Growth Percentile Calculator on Babycenter, and discovered that she’s finally not so tall! She’s in the 25-50th percentile for height and 50-75th percentile for weight. That said, my mom and I were noticing just last week how much she’s thinning out. She’s still got muscles like Arnold in her calves, thighs, and buttocks, but her waistline is trim and she’s losing a bit of her baby fat elsewhere. Her torso is quite long (like her Daddy’s), so she’s wearing size 24 months – 3T shirts, while her legs are somewhat short (again, like her Daddy’s), so she’s able to wear size 18-24 months pants/shorts. Silly.

Interests: Hula Girl is interested in anything that equals movement, noise, or boisterousness. She loves climbing, jumping, dancing, balancing, rolling, somersaulting, shrieking, running, bouncing, crawling, slithering, scaling, tumbling, tickling, and tackling. She wants to sing every song she knows and do the motions all day long, especially at mealtimes and in the car. She loves to learn new signs and try them out at random times throughout the day (often she’ll sign things to Jonathan during bathtime and he’ll bring her to her bedroom utterly confused and ask me what she’s trying to say. (“Oh, she’s saying, ‘cloud!'”) Hula Girl also has a passion for books. She loooooves to read and to be read to. Her latest thing is to choose her own stories at bedtime, so she’ll flip through her nursery rhyme book, “No… no….no.. YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!”

Sayings and Vocalizations: This girl has been on a roll with language lately. She is getting more and more precise and eloquent. My mom got her to repeat a 20-word sentence the other day. It’s funny to hear her trying to repeat a sentence. She’ll say the last part first, and then remember there was more, backtrack, and say the full sentence. For example, I could tell her, “Tell Daddy, ‘You’re the best daddy in the world and I love you!'” She would then run to him and say, “Daddy love you…. Best daddy in the world and I love you!” (That is modified speech- hers would really come out like, “Daddy wuh you… Beh daddy inee woh in I wuh you!”)

Along with repeating sentences, she’s been saying things that echo my common phrases a lot lately. Just yesterday and this morning, in fact, she has uttered, “Okay! Okay! Okay!” using the same intonation that I frequently use. I found myself doing it all throughout the day since my attention was drawn, and I sure do say, “Okay!” a lot! She also threw herself down in her crib and said, “Oh my goodness!” (“Oh my neh-ness!”)… too funny.

Hula Girl has also started taking what I say to her and applying it to other children, animals, and inanimate objects. For example, when we apply her Orajel to her gums, we remind her, “No biting!” Yesterday we went out back and found a hill of fire ants. I told her not to get too close to them because they might bite. She said, “No biting, ants!” (“No bibeen, ahn!”) She has also been wanting me to hold/rock her stuffed animals and baby dolls in my arms while singing “Rockabye Baby”… then she will go in another room and do the same. Her version of “Rockabye Baby” is very cute, yet difficult to decipher- “Ock a bye baby inee tee bop/inee win boh dadoh wock/inee bow ake dadoh wah/nown mum baby dadoh in ahh.”

Her favorite bedtime (and naptime) routine has become telling Mommy and Daddy, “Sleep well,” a ridiculous number of times each night. She has to be the last one to say it, and she continues saying it as we shut the door and walk down the hallway. “Sleep well, Mommy, sleep well, Daddy! Sleep well, Daddy Mommy, sleep well, Mommy Daddy!” She’s actually quite good at saying “sleep well” very clearly. No subtitles needed!

 

 

Whew, I think that about covers my little Hula Girl for now. I will keep adding more when I think of it.

Surgery Update- How it Went

Well, we’re done with surgery. We still have a few phone calls from the surgeon and the hospital staff tomorrow, and then a follow-up appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist next Friday. We’ve also got some antibiotic drops to put in her eye three times daily through Sunday. Otherwise, we’re home free.

Hula Girl had to get up super early to leave for the hospital. She was groggy and confused, but she got quite chipper when we arrived at the hospital. She thought it was fun to have so many people oohing and ahhing over her. Plus, she got to be out in public in her jammies with her blankies! Can’t beat that!

She was very compliant and friendly with all the nurses who were doing her pre-op vitals testing and whatnot. She liked changing into her hospital gown, which featured koala bears in rocket ships. It was also fun for her to be up in the big hospital bed, scrambling around and kicking up the covers.

We waited for a while before we talked with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist was really nice and sweet. I trusted her to take care of my girl 100%. She had a very gentle manner while still acting quite in control, so that Hula Girl trusted her easily.

After speaking with both doctors, I got all dressed up in my “bunny suit” so that I was sterile enough to take Hula Girl back to the operating room. When she and I had to leave Daddy and Grampy behind in the pre-op room, she got a bit teary and her lip stuck out a bit. But she was fine- I just had to keep smiling and reminding her how much fun we were having. It was nice to be able to carry her back there myself and to be there while they put her under.

She was very compliant and obedient about the mask, and she was fast asleep within thirty seconds. I gave her a kiss, an “I love you,” and then I left the room. Apparently Jonathan had been warned that watching children fall asleep can sometimes be dramatic and trying for parents, so he needed to be prepared to support me no matter what. Maybe I’m just calloused, or maybe we were just busy, but I really didn’t see what the big deal was. I mean, yeah, anesthesia is scary and it can have some really bad side effects. But I trusted those doctors 100%, and if I was willing to watch it happen, that should say something about my resolve to help my kiddo get better, right? I should also mention here that she was able to have the mask only, and an IV was not required, much to my relief.

The surgery itself went really well. She had a blocked tear duct in her left eye, which is quite common. Most of them resolve on their own, but if they’re unresolved past 12 months, the general recommendation is to have it cleared out surgically. Hula Girl’s surgeon told me that Hula Girl’s duct was blocked by a pretty thick piece of bone, but that she was able to put two different-sized probes through. She did not feel any scar tissue from previous infections, and she was optimistic that Hula Girl’s duct will remain opened up (they can sometimes close over again, as in the case of pierced ears). We just have to do our massage and antibiotic routine for a few days.

During surgery we took a very brief break to run down the stairs to the billing office and get some insurance stuff straightened out. I left Jonathan down there with the financial lady and then booked it back upstairs to the waiting area. I arrived in time to use the restroom, and then I was called back into the recovery room, about 10 minutes after I had left Hula Girl in the OR.

They called me as soon as she started to stir, but by the time I arrived, she was already being rocked by a nurse while she screamed bloody murder. It seriously reminded me of her early reflux days. I said, “That’s my girl!” The nurse who brought me back thought it was funny that I could recognize her cry… but then can’t all parents recognize their own kids’ distress calls? I thought that was strange. Perhaps she doesn’t have kids and doesn’t work with them often.

I held and rocked Hula Girl in the recovery room for about fifteen minutes. I tried to get her to drink water or eat the popsicle offered, but she was going to have none of those crazy fluids. Every time I offered, she just started crying again. It’s pretty well-known that kids come out of anesthesia as whole different people than the ones who went in. Hula Girl went under laughing and cuddling with Mommy; she came out screaming and very confused. She did not struggle when I cuddled her, but she did not want me to do anything else- no singing, reading, humming, story-telling, stroking, or patting. Just light rocking and cuddling.

When her oxygen stats held steady enough for long enough, we were moved back to the pre-op room. She was still quite upset and the nurse kindly turned off the bright lights so we could make an attempt at a nap. The nap never happened. Jonathan joined us in the room, and she almost fell asleep. But then she gagged on her blood from the procedure, and that caused her to vomit a couple of times. The first time, her favorite blankie got covered. That was devastating for her, since she wasn’t able to cuddle with her blankie anymore. The nurse tried really hard to make her feel better and even gave her a new blankie, but to no avail. It was not her “neen wah nee-nee” (clean fresh blankie). We just had to deal. The second time she vomited, Jonathan was quick enough to remove her blankie so it stayed cleanish.

At that point, she was acting miserable, cranky, and tired. I decided to pull out the last resort- Elmo videos on youtube. She had a remarkable recovery after that! As soon as we got to the following video, she started bopping her head up and down and stroking Jonathan’s face in time to the music. There was even a lot of dancing involved. The nurse poked her head in and said, “Well, her color’s back.” She even decided it was okay to drink some water. Wahoo!

We ended up having to stay an extra 45 minutes due to the vomiting, but we were discharged pretty quickly after Elmo made us happy again. Our ride home was uneventful. We had been warned that she would have very little appetite and that she’d be somewhat cranky, wobbly, and have strange sleeping patterns. Well…

When we got home, she guzzled down two sippy cups full of “green juice” (Gatorade/water mix), and she ate two pancakes. She had a pancake picnic on the living room floor, much to her delight. Then she ran around laughing, screeching, and acting silly. She was doing somersaults, headstands, and spins. She was happy-go-lucky and she was perfectly fine. She took her nap at noon (an hour early due to her super early waking), and woke at three. She’ll go to bed tonight an hour early, and I have a feeling that we’ll be back on schedule starting tomorrow! Just in time for Easter!

All in all, surgery seems to be okay. I wasn’t a fan of the post-anesthesia funk, but after she was out of that, she was back to her perfectly normal, happy self. As I type this, she is in the other room with Jonathan, Grammy, and Great-Grandma and is running around showing everyone how the Weebles can “weeble wobble” on all kinds of surfaces. I can also hear some “chase” games being played. And lots and lots of laughter from all.

Thank you so much for all your prayers, advice, and words of encouragement. Everything went better than I hoped!

Surgery Week- Pray for Hula Girl!

Tomorrow’s the big day- Surgery Day. Hula Girl is having a tear duct opened up. It’s been blocked since birth, and it always looks like she’s crying out of her left eye. A lot of people will coo over her and say, “Awww, what’s wrong? Why are you crying?” It gets really irritating when she’s not upset or anything and they assume she is. She also gets eye infections frequently since her eye can’t drain. It is pretty gross (and painful for her) when her eye is filled up with greenish mucus that is so sticky she can’t even open her eye.

So, surgery is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., the first of the day. But that means we have to be at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. Ugh. So, I’m scrambling around tonight, gathering all the necessary supplies. We have paperwork that must be printed out and filled in (thanks, insurance), random things to collect and pack into a bag, and schedules to set.

We’re bringing Hula Girl’s “neen wah nee-nees” (clean fresh blankies), lots of diapers (strange since she’s potty trained, but people do lose control when under anesthesia), books, empty sippy cups, and some extra jammies and clothes for Hula Girl.

We’re going to wake up early early (around 5:15), then we’ll get Hula Girl up at 5:45, bring her straight to the car, and head out. We’ll arrive at the hospital at 6ish, then get admitted and all set up. We’ll talk with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, and then one of us will go back with her while she’s put under. She’s getting a mask, and they’re skipping an IV- I am grateful for this! Then she’ll have her six-minute surgery, during which the surgeon will poke progressively larger probes down through her tear duct. After that, she’ll wake up and we can join her in her recovery room. Once she’s able to eat, drink, and pee-pee, we’ll be released. I’m betting we’ll be out of there by 8:00.

Anyway, if you could please remember my little girl in your prayers tonight and tomorrow, that would be really appreciated. Even though we’re very confident about the surgery itself, it’s still a bit scary to know she’s going to be under general anesthesia. :/

Surgery Week Update- Thursday

Well, we had a fun day today. Hula Girl spent the day with Grammy and Grampy, who took her to the playground. She loved this playground. There was a nice small area for her with “eedee ides” (little slides) so she could do it all by herself. She liked that. She also spent an inordinate amount of time in the swing. Go figure. 🙂

I got to go visit a lot of my old teacher friends and former students at VCS. It was a great day and I loved spending time with them. The school has matured, the students have matured, and I am so proud of everyone involved . Y’all are doing awesome!

Okay, now I’m going to do a different post for the actual surgery stuff.

Surgery Week Update- Wednesday

If  you have missed reading the weekend, Monday, and Tuesday updates, please scroll down and see what you missed! 🙂

 Today was more relaxed. I didn’t hear Hula Girl until 8:05 this morning, and I got her up at 8:15 or so. She got to enjoy a nice relaxed breakfast (at the table!) of strawberries and cheesy eggs. Then my dad watched her and played with her while I took a shower and talked to the nurse at the hospital to finish the pre-admittance interview. After that phone call, Hula Girl and I left the house and went to a fun play area inside of a nationally-known Christian organization that is located in this city. They have a sweet toddler room and a much larger (and somewhat dark!?!?) bigger-kid area.

We started off in the toddler room. It was full of fun foam shapes for kids to crawl on, under, and around. Hula Girl really liked climbing up on top of the bridge and then sliding down the other side. There were a few kids in there who were somewhat mean, but she kept playing even if they pushed her out of their way or whatnot. She’s not one to be put out! However, once there were over thirty kids in one room, only a handful of whom were under any kind of supervision from their parents/nannies/grandparents/whatever,  and one little girl kept trying on Hula Girl’s shoes, I decided it was time to tour the big-kids area.

 Hula Girl was somewhat timid in that area, since it is so large and there are lots of big kids running around. But she did go inside the “airplane” and she discovered a secret passageway. She also found the big-screen theater, where a VeggieTales movie was showing. She would have stayed there all day, but I made her leave after about 30 seconds. We don’t do screens for kids under three in our household.

I was really excited to run into a sibling of a former student of mine while we were in the big kid area. She was with her World Religions class, and they were on a field trip to this organization. I saw her, called her name, got a huge hug, and we had exchanged a few words when her teacher interrupted and told us she had to move on. I told her, “But she’s my favorite!” Her teacher responded, “I know exactly why! She’s great, isn’t she?” I love when other adults are able to recognize the greatness in some of these kids. Especially this one. She’s one of the best.

 Hula Girl decided it was time to leave then, and she started up the stairs with purpose. I chuckled to myself to see her holding onto the rail and climbing up, up, up the huge flights of stairs without any concern for the other kids around her. She was not worried that she’d miss out on anything- she was just done being there, surrounded by craziness. We used the potty, then left.

After that highly-stimulating experience, she was somewhat cranky. No wonder, it was nearing her snack time, and she had seen more wild children in one tiny room than she’s ever seen in her whole life (except for the first playgroup debacle). So we decided that we should have a special mommy-daughter snack. I took her to Starbucks and ordered a scone, milk, and a decaf caramel macchiato. We split the scone (I got the lion’s share- no need for her to have a sugar rush), we talked about the cars outside, and I praised her over and over for her excellent behavior and listening skills. She drank her milk and then we drove home to Grammy and Grampy’s house. I wanted to give her a nice long calm wind-down before her nap, especially after that crazy morning.

She’s currently sleeping, and I am reminiscing over our morning and our week so far. It has been one crazy out-of-the-ordinary adventure for Hula Girl, and it’s only going to get crazier in the next couple of days. But she’s handling it so well. She is unfailingly obedient, kind, and generous with others. Even when she has a breakdown in her behavior, it is very easy to turn her back toward right thinking and actions. I am very happy to call her my daughter, and I can only pray that her gentleness, silliness, and sweetness will be traits she continues to possess as she grows up.

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