Bowls of Rice

Be warned: this post contains a confession of one of my strangest eccentricities. Don’t mock.

Rice holds a special place in my life right now. It is the staple of my diet. It is also saving my technology (I hope).

The elimination diet is going fine. I am hungry a lot… mostly because I don’t feel like cooking a vegetable and so all I can really eat is Rice Chex or fruit. Come on, Kim… it takes 8 minutes to microwave a potato. For realz. I will stop complaining about that right now. But since Monday I have eaten more bowls of rice (or rice cereal) than I had in the past month combined… so yeah, bowls of rice.

My cell phone was ceremoniously (and maddeningly purposefully) placed into a toddler pool in our backyard this morning by one age-appropriately-testing-her-limits toddler. Not once… twice.

I left my phone and umbrella on a chair next to her pool to run over to the back door (like, ten feet away, don’t freak out on me and call CPS) to get her towel. In the 3 seconds it took me to glance away, open the door, and return, she had grabbed my cell phone and dunked it. I saw that it was dripping wet, and I said the only thing a rational very upset parent says in a time like this, “Did you put my phone in the water?!?!” Um, duh, of course she did. What a stupid question. And of course it elicited the very best behavior in my child… as all stupid questions/responses to actions tend to do.

So she smiled, said, “[Hula Girl] put Mommy’s phone in the pool!!!” and crouched down to do it again. She was so gentle about it, she might as well have been returning a sea turtle to its natural habitat. But I…was…livid… so I did the next obvious thing: I sprinted across the backyard, over the rocky rocky ground, barefoot, 35 weeks pregnant, and grabbed the phone from the bottom of the pool. Then I engaged in the closest to yelling at my child I’ve ever done. I got a very firm and very loud voice (still not yelling… but I wish it had been softer) and said, “You must say sorry to me. You are not supposed to touch my phone! Now it’s broken!”

Typical two-year-old that she is, she did not say sorry. No, no. She turned, grabbed my water bottle, and drank out of it. Let me elaborate on why this sent me to the moon (in my head) and I almost raised my voice to a real yell.

See, Ido not share water bottles, chapstick, or food withanyone, not even my own child. Jonathan has learned to stay FAR away from my glasses of lemonade, and if he wants to surprise me with a Hershey’s bar, he’d better go ahead and get one for himself because there’s NO WAY he’s getting part of mine. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I can’t handle the thought of germs spreading through mouth-contact. (To be fair, this is majorly hyped up when I’m pregnant-hormones, people! But yes, I do let Jonathan kiss me… as long as his lips don’t leave a wet spot on mine… I will wipe my lips for days if that happens.)

K, so kid not only doused my only contact with the outside world in death-juice (aka water), but she slurped all over the mouthpiece of my water bottle with her toddler germs. As I fought back a wave of nausea, I had to be super firm with myself in order to gently and nicely take my water bottle away. But in the course of doing so, I asked stupid question number two: “Did you just drink out of my water bottle!? Seriously?!”

And in true toddler form, she grinned wickedly (or maybe just mischievously), and answered, “Yes, ee-yus-ee, Mommy.”

And then I forgave her a little. ‘Cuz that’s probably one of the smartest cutest things I’ve heard her say in a while.

So we held hands and she looked at my face while I explained to her the importance of not touching my things. I told her it made me sad and that she needs to say sorry. She said sorry this time. We hugged, and then she proceeded to empty her pool in the hopes of drowning all our flowers with the watering can.

Our saga ends with my sad cell phone sitting in yet another bowl of rice. I am hoping, praying, that it turns out okay and was not super damaged. I’m pretty sick of rice right now.

 

Not Right Now… Maybe Later… and Where are You, God?

Hula Girl’s new favorite thing to say whenever I ask her to do anything. “Not right now, maybe later.” It comes out like, “Not yight now, maybe yay-dee.” Super cute, but definitely not something that’s acceptable. I tell her, “[Hula Girl], remember you must listen and obey.” This usually gets her to say, “Yes, Mommy!” and then she does whatever task it was to begin with.

We’ve been having many talks about listening and obeying lately. My favorite ones are the ones that go like this:

Me: [Hula Girl], put on your shoes.

HG: Not yight now, maybe yay-dee.

Me: [Hula Girl], remember you must listen and obey.

HG: Yes, Mommy. (Runs off to get shoes and returns.) Mommy e-seen and obey?

Me: Yes, Honey, Mommy must listen and obey. Mommy must listen and obey God.

HG: [Hula Girl] e-seen and obey God, too?

Me: Yes, you are practicing to obey God when you obey Mommy.

So precious. Today at lunch she asked me where God is. It came out in the same form as any other question about an object or a person’s whereabouts, “Where are you, God?” shouted at the top of her voice.

I told her that God is in my heart. “And in my Bible book?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, “in your Bible book, too.” Then she wanted to make sure Jesus was there, too. I assured her he is.

Then she asked if God and Jesus are in her heart, “God and Dee-duss in my… hhhheart?” I said, “If you want Jesus to be in your heart, you just have to ask him to come in to your heart.” She said, again at the top of her lungs, “Mum into my…hhhhheart, Dee-duss!”

Yep. That’s what we’ve been hoping for… conversations like these so we can help shape our children’s hearts. We pray that her little self will continue to love Jesus and want him in her heart for her whole life. We pray that we will raise her and Gelato to know how to listen and obey. What a task we are charged with as parents!

Elimination Diet Day 1

I started the dreaded elimination diet today. Blech.

For those of you who are unaware, Hula Girl had very bad reflux, plus constipation (yes, an exclusively breastfed baby can get constipated) and eczema, when she was an infant. We finally saw a GI doctor when she was 4 months old. He was not super concerned about her reflux (she was gaining weight VERY well, even though there was blood in her vomit), but her constipation and eczema issues suggested to him that Hula Girl might have a food allergy or intolerance. Being the extremely patient person that I am I just plain ol’ jumped straight into a total elimination diet. And I kept it up for 4 months straight. And guess what- all her issues cleared up nicely. We still have yet to find more than one food she’s actually allergic to… so who knows what was up with that. But it worked for us for that time, and it made our little daughter much more comfortable.

Now, being the very calm and rational person that I am, I am terrified that Gelato will have some of the same issues. There is no guarantee that one child will have reflux just because his sibling had it. But there is also no guarantee that he won’t. I decided to be proactive and clear my system of the usual allergens for about a month prior to his birth. So here we are.

My food options have just become severely limited. I will say I am not going as hard-core as some diets like Dr. Sears’ Elimination Diet. Even though I am going to stick to the rice only for grains rule and the range-fed organic turkey only for meat rule, I am going to have a wider variety of fruits and veggies, and I’m going to eat beans. Dr. Sears’ ED is really only meant to be followed for about 2 weeks, after which time the mom starts adding extra foods back in, in order of their allergen-prone-ness. For example, one of the first things a mom would add back in is peaches since hardly anyone on the planet is allergic to peaches. Avocado as well. (Although I know several people, Jonathan included, who claim an allergy to avocado simply because they do not like it.)

Anyway, today I have eaten a bowl of Rice Chex with rice milk, a nectarine, a sweet potato, and rice. For dinner I expect to have some zucchini (cooked with a little salt and pepper- whoa! I’m going crazy!) and some more rice. The whole point of an elimination diet is not to starve oneself; rather, one is encouraged to eat lots and lots… of a very limited variety of foods.

My wider variety includes grapes, peaches, nectarines, avocados, spinach, carrots, and some other random non-citrus, non-gas producing fruits and veggies. I am thankful it’s summer.

I will continue to keep the top 8 allergens (dairy, soy, wheat/gluten, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, and tree nuts) and citrus out of my system until after Gelato arrives. Once we’re all settled in, probably around 3/4 months old, if we are not experiencing any major issues like reflux, constipation, or eczema, I will slowly start to add some of these delicious foods back in. It’s always a slow process, but I expect that I’ll be on a fully-incorporated diet again by the time he’s about 8 months old. Fortunately, he’ll be able to try some of the foods himself at 6 months (yogurt, for example). I figure it’ll be easier to link a reaction to foods if he’s the one eating them!

Last time I did this diet, when Hula Girl was 4-8 months old, I lost a lot of weight really quickly. I am rather concerned about this since a nursing mom MUST keep up her caloric intake in order to produce ample milk. One of the bes ways to boost a milk supply is by eating a bowl full of oatmeal daily. Sure, sure, oatmeal has no gluten… but it is processed in plants that also process wheat, so the threat of cross-contamination exists. So no oatmeal for me. Sad. Oatmeal cookies are the BEST when nursing.

Because of the limited foods, I will also have a longer road ahead of me before I can exercise again. This is not good, people. As previously mentioned, I am ginormous enough that people think I’m having twins (and I still have a month and some change to go)! But I am very excited to go ahead and start at least walking again. I told Jonathan that I’d really like to just take it slow for a while and then start training for a marathon again. I did that a few years back and it was great! I really enjoyed running. And I got in really good shape, too! So, that’s my long-term goal.

Wish me luck and send me lots of encouragement as I watch my family scarf down delicious burritos! 🙂

Shoo, Fly! Don’t Bother Mommy!

We’re sick. I started feeling a sore throat last Friday night, which progressed to a really runny nose by Wednesday, and now I’m coughing frequently. No one around me had gotten sick, though, until yesterday. Hula Girl woke up from her nap an hour and a half early, crying. Yep, that’s a sure sign that she’s getting sick.

We got her in bed as early as we could, at 7:15, but she still took a long time to fall asleep. Many “curtain calls” later (which we will happily participate in when our kiddo’s sick, but at no other time), she finally fell asleep around 8:30. But then she woke again at 9:15 and was awake, crying in between visits from Jonathan and me, until midnight.

We gave her several sips of water to hydrate her little body, Tylenol to bring down her fever, and Baby Rub to help her breathe better. I rocked her several times, each time telling her more of our special story (a story that I’m making up as we go- it’s about a beautiful princess who has a gleaming white horse named Sparkle and a little gray bunny named Buttercup that the princess and Sparkle rescued from a hole in the ground). Last night, Sparkle and the princess discovered an enchanted waterfall in the middle of a beautiful wood that smelled like cinnamon. 🙂

Anyway, after a loooooong evening, we just let her sleep in. She slept until 8, which is 15 minutes past the time I normally get her out of bed. 8 hours of sleep all night… for a kid who usually sleeps 10-12 hours… needless to say, she’s a bit crabby today. Add in the fact that her nose won’t stop running and she probably feels a bit achy, and it’s no wonder she’s slightly mulish.

But do you know what? Today (so far) is one of the best days we’ve had together as a family in a while. Hula Girl’s sickness has forced us to just really slow down and spend lots of quiet time on the living room floor playing with toys and on the couch reading books. Hula Girl is wearing two of her tutus, five leis, and her stripey jammies. She is sporting a ponytail “just like Mommy’s” and carrying her “pink blankie” with her wherever she goes. Jonathan is being super sweet and making sure she drinks 4 sips of water every 20 minutes.

Anyway, even though she’s feeling sick and awful, she’s still our funny sweet girl! She’s giving kisses left and right, she’s asking to help us or to watch us do everything we do, from breakfast to throwing away tissues. And my favorite- she’s singing all her favorite songs. Even last night when she was wide awake (in between crying spells), she was singing her ABCs. She also really loves the “Shoo, Fly! Don’t Bother Me!” song… and that’s where the title comes in. She saw a little fly flying toward me while I was researching our mattress-wrapping technique, and she sang, “Shoo, fly! Don’t bother Mommy!” How sweet. 🙂

Hope y’all have a great weekend! We’ll try to rest and get better ASAP! After all- we only have 5 more weekends left as a little family of three, and swimming lessons start next Saturday!

34 Weeks… a day early

So I included some things about this pregnancy in yesterday’s post, but I decided to go ahead and expand the topic a bit more so I can remember in the future! 🙂

Babycenter tells me that Gelato is 4.75 pounds (about as heavy as a cantaloupe) and about 18 inches long. It also describes how the fat layer is thickening (to achieve that squishy baby goodness!!!) and the skin is smoothing out. I can also stop worrying about preterm labor as much, since babies born in this time frame are generally healthy and have very few (mostly short-term) complications.

That means I can kick him out and enjoy the rest of summer, right!? Right!?

Um… no… I suppose not. But this summer really has shaped up to be one of the hottest, driest on record in this fair state in which I reside. That plus me being ginormous has equaled me pretty much boycotting the great outdoors, with the exception of visiting our backyard when Hula Girl gets the squirmies. At least I can find some shade out there, and I can plop in a chair while she runs around barefoot. So even when it’s 104°, I don’t feel TOO terrible. I DO feel terrible when we decide to go to the playground and Hula Girl wants to swing forever. I have to stand in the hot sun and push her… and that’s just not good.

See, another issue I’m having is that I can’t stand still. I have felt this way since about 5 months along. I don’t know if it has something to do with the way I stand, like maybe my spine pinches a blood vessel or something, but every time I stand still for more than like 30 seconds, I feel awful. I feel as if I have just run 3 or 4 six-minute miles… as in, out of breath with lactic acid coursing through my arm and leg muscles. I also feel like I’m going to have a nosebleed. (I can actually make this comparison because a few years ago I was training for a marathon. I can’t WAIT to feel that way again… because I actually ran it, not because I stood and pushed my kiddo on the swing.) Anyway, standing still is hard for me. I either have to sit, lie down, or walk. All of which are not without drawbacks. But I won’t elaborate on that right here, right now.

It is getting difficult for me to fall asleep again. Nighttimes are just rough in general! I’m always exhausted from the day, but trying to get comfortable while dealing with RLS (restless leg syndrome) is really hard! Fortunately, a big part of doing Dr. Bradley’s method of natural childbirth (more on this in upcoming paragraphs) is being able to relax and shut down your body’s impulses… and I have to say that I’m getting pretty good at it! Last night it only took me about 10 minutes to fall asleep!

I am at the point in pregnancy where my stomach is just so squished that I’m pretty much never hungry except for right when I get up in the morning. And then a small something satisfies me easily. So although I’m still gaining weight (Gelato has to grow, you know?), I really don’t feel like I’m eating a lot. Just small snacks throughout the day-mostly because I know I need them, not because I want them. And Popsicles. 🙂

I am gargantuan again. I took Hula Girl to the playground today and a lady arrived with a young boy. She was pregnant, so of course we talked. Her first words, “When are you due?” (By the way, pregnant women are apparently only good for one topic of conversation- their due date and how much further they have to go and how much they’re suffering in the meantime.) I answered, “August 2. When are you due?” She replied, with no sense of decency, “I’m due today. But you’re not due until August 2?????!?!?!?! Are you having TWO?!?!?!?!” Gee, thanks… as if I don’t already feel huge… now I have another extremely pregnant woman confirming the fact that I look like a flipping blimp. At least she was honest! So yes, my friends, verification that I am correct in not posting pictures of my hugeness on Facebook this time around.

But now to the fun things. I am getting super excited to meet this little life-changer. When we first envisioned having a second child, we couldn’t have conceived how much Hula Girl would have changed and grown in those short nine months. Now I sit and watch her and think about how her life will change (all day, every day, it’s like I don’t have TV to keep me entertained or something…). She’s going to be a big sister. Can you imagine?! Jonathan and I now have the responsibility of not only keeping her alive and helping her do her best in life, but we have to help her get along with someone else so that they can have a real relationship for the rest of their lives! Whoa. I’ll touch on that again later.

Planning for this delivery has been far different from planning for Hula Girl’s delivery. (I promise the next few paragraphs will not get gross or graphic, so men- Ahem, Aaron- don’t feel like you need to skip this part.) With hers, I had no idea what to expect. I vaguely had an idea that I’d like to have a “natural childbirth” but I really had no idea what that meant. Sure, we attended a childbirth class at the hospital, but we spent most of the time hyperventilating from trying not to laugh at the instructor and her very explicit portrayal of the birth process. The other couples were really engaged in the class, and I fear we broke their concentration not just once when we were all supposed to be practicing breathing and labor positions. (Sorry other couples! Won’t happen again!) We just couldn’t handle the humorous aspect of sitting on the floor in the dark whispering “hee-hee-hoo-hoo” together. I challenge any of you to get your spouse, turn out the lights, look each other in the eye (by light of the moon, of course, because all hospital rooms are dark all the time… yeah, right!), and stay in rhythm while breathing some ridiculous chant (try “ho-hee-ho-hee”) together without laughing your fool heads off. If you succeed, bully. But we were hopelessly lost.

Anyway, the short of the long of it is that we were basically undecided as far as medication, interventions, etc., go. We kinda just figured the nurses and the doctors do this all the time- let’s just listen to them!

And you know what? It worked out just fine. Really. We have a happy, healthy, smart, wonderful 2-year-old to prove it.

But this time we decided to go ahead and research a bit. I mean, it’s not like we’ve never done this before, but perhaps we’d like to try something new? So we looked into the Bradley Method. Pretty much anyone I’ve ever asked about it (who has used it, anyway) has raved about it. Cool. So I read the book, passed it on to Jonathan, and here we stand. I am still not 100 percent against using pain remedies if things go nuts. Heck, we might even end up with a C-section this time. One never knows. But I do feel more confident in my own understanding of all aspects of labor and delivery and I will feel better being able to weigh my options more carefully. So, wahoo.

And the cute little tiny things!!! It’s funny how quickly I forgot how itty bitty newborn stuff is… and how fun it is to open packages and get things ready for the baby!

We have an abundance of clothing for Gelato thanks to my mom and to Jonathan’s coworker. I am actually asking people NOT to get clothes for him at all, because he is fully outfitted from newborn to about 18 months right now. I just can’t afford to give up any more closet space! I need to get those things all washed, sorted by size, and put away. Yikes.

Jonathan has gotten our crib halfway set up. We can’t do it while Hula Girl is sleeping (Gelato’s room is right next to hers), and our family time at home has been severely lacking in the past few weeks. But that will get done eventually. I’m still waiting on the mattress wrapper to arrive in the mail- once that gets here, we’ll officially have his bed ready.

We got all new cloth diapers this time around! We’re using Thirsties Duo Wraps with prefolds during the day and diaper covers over Fab Fitteds at night. That means nothing to childless couples. But for those of you who care, I am excited about this combo. I am even more excited because I emailed a couple of internet mom friends who use this combo (or similar set ups) and they L.O.V.E. them… that is really encouraging considering all the issues I had with our previous diapers. Now I just have to figure out how to fold the prefold so that we don’t end up with major breastfed-baby-liquid-poop blowouts! (I hear there’s a special technique…)

My BFF Jo also arranged a “virtual baby shower” for me since most of my friends and family are spread out across the country (or live at least 2.5 hours from me, if they’re in-state). We don’t have a whole lot on our list that we need, but we listed a few bigger items, like our monitor, swaddle blankets, and diapers. I am super grateful for this “event” because it means we can still be excited to share with our family and friends without having the stress of “but-she-lives-too-far-away!” It’s also tough for me to get a day away from home since Hula Girl is pretty much alive 24/7, and I’d like to keep her that way. Jonathan does a great job with her, but I don’t like to just pass her off on the weekends and say, “See you when I’m done enjoying myself… I know you work all week but now you can work at home, too!” (Let’s be honest… that does happen occasionally, but I try not to spend more than a couple hours away here and there.) Anyway, thanks, Jo, for your support and for your willingness to arrange something that doesn’t involve party games. 🙂

We also bought a new freezer for our garage a couple weekends ago. Yahoo! We’ve started stockpiling things like organic chicken (on sale for $1.99/lb!!! We bought 10 pounds!). We’ve also started building up our freezer meals so that when Gelato arrives, I can just pull out something for Jonathan and Hula Girl to eat. My mom contributed three items this past weekend, and we’ve already cooked a couple ourselves. So they won’t starve. They might get really sick’o’lasagna (that’s pretty much what we’ve got so far, plus some mashed potatoes), but at least they’ll be fed.

Okay, that was the longest update ever. Basically, things are slowly coming together and I am sick of being pregnant. Short and sweet….maybe I should have said that at the beginning?

 

 

Quick Lil’ Update

Jonathan- BIG NEWS! Jonathan has been working toward receiving his full licensure as an LPC (licensed professional counselor) since graduating with his Masters in December ’09. Well… he got it! His license was effective June 1, and along with that came a raise at work. What great timing! We’re planning to get a bigger car (’10, ’11, or ’12 Toyota Highlander- anyone have a used one you’re selling?) because our little sedans just won’t fit all our stuff plus kids anymore. Plus, this means Jonathan has a lot more options available should he decide to pursue another career route (no, he’s not quitting his current job, and we have no plans for it! don’t freak out on me here!!!!). It’s just nice to know he’s just one more step ahead.

Me- I’m pretty tired of being pregnant. This time around has just seemed far worse than the first time, in almost every regard. I am dealing with a lot of fatigue and pain that wasn’t there last time. I’ve got frequent heartburn, and my legs simply won’t hold still at night. Falling asleep is the hardest part of my day, even though I’m always so tired. Sigh. I am grateful for how fast time has gone this time- I remember AGONIZING over how much time was left at 20 weeks with Hula Girl. It seemed like I had been pregnant forever, and I still had halfway to go! Now we’re down to 6 weeks and I just can’t believe that my girl is going to be a BIG SISTER in that short amount of time. Whoa. Our lives will change forever- and that’s kind of freaking me out. I feel much more relaxed and prepared for the labor/delivery aspect this time. We actually know what we’re doing and what our plans are. We’ve spoken to our doctor and have her on board for most things. We know how to breastfeed (trust me- there is NOTHING easy about it at first), we know how to change a diaper. We also (unfortunately) know just how tiring a newborn can be… let’s hope this one is a non-reflux awesome sleeper child. 🙂

Hula Girl- she’s great! I love her and she’s even more fun every single day. I do not enjoy her moods sometimes when she’s overtired (they happen to coincide with my hormonal “I-just-can’t-handle-it” moods–freakish, right?). But I do enjoy her enthusiasm, her new phrases, her curiosity, and her compassion for others. What a sweet girl she is. My favorite of her phrases right now: “Look at that, Mom! Look at that, Dad!” This makes me laugh because we’ve always said, “Look at that!” to show her that we see she’s accomplished something (rather than telling her, “Good job!” over something trivial like stacking one block on another- great when you’re 9 months old, nothing wonderful when you’re 2). It also cracks me up because she usually calls us Mommy and Daddy. But when she uses the phrase, “Look at that,” she switches to Mom and Dad. So silly.

Gardens- they’re growing! We had a recent infestation of flea beetles, which demolished our broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts crops. Boo. But everything else is growing and thriving. We have to be very cognizant and remember to water at least twice daily. But since we (I say we, but really it was Jonathan) put down mulch and fertilized, the garden has been flourishing! Our corn is about 2.5 feet tall, our squash plants are starting to put out blossoms, and our lettuce is close to pickin’ time!

I.simply.cannot.wait.for.fresh.organic.veggies.from.my.very.own.garden.

 

Hula Girl, Age 2

Yep, she’s two. She’s at the age where people can ask her, “How old are you?” and she coyly buries her head in my shoulder/leg and grins a bit while answering, “Two!” She’ll even hold up two fingers if she knows the person well enough!

I have been amazed at the many small but meaningful changes that have happened in the past couple of weeks. I really like having an older toddler… and I am enjoying it more every day! Let’s get down to business:

Current Schedule:

7:45 up, get dressed, drink milk while cuddling and reading
8:15 breakfast
8:45 brush teeth, chore with Mama
9:00 get ready (sunscreen, potty, clothes, shoes)
9:15 go outside/head out in car to whatever activity (about three times a week)
10:15 small snack/come inside/activity
10:30 inside play (with me, without me, whatever)
11:30 drink milk while cuddling and reading
12:15 lunch
1:00 nap
3:30/4 up, snack, play
4:45 drink milk while cuddling and reading
5:00 independent playtime
5:30 Daddy’s home- play with Daddy
6:00 dinner
bedtime between 7:15 and 7:45, depending on nap quality

Sleeping:

Naps:
We had naps down to a science for several weeks… but then around 22.5 months, so in the middle of April, Hula Girl started having really weird sleep issues. She’d fall asleep for her nap just fine but wake an hour into it screaming for me. Or she’d take 30-45 minutes before her nap asking for anything and everything under the sun that she thought would keep me in her room. After about a week of nap shenanigans (I waited just to make sure this was a behavioral issue rather than illness), we buckled down. We introduced “sleep rules,” which I have posted about here (you can also read a more detailed discussion of her sleep challenges in that same post). We stuck to a rigid routine and let her deal with the rest. Just this last week (so about 2 months later), she started lengthening her naps again. Insert sigh of relief!

Nighttime:
Just when naps went wacko, so did nights. My daughter has always slept 12+ hours every night, since forever, barring times of sickness. Suddenly, we started having nights where she’d sleep anywhere from 9-11 hours. ONLY. She chats and sings and laughs with herself every night for about an hour, sometimes two. I know it’s developmental to do this at this age. She is verbal enough to process her entire day as she falls asleep… but really, two hours??? And then she started waking earlier and earlier in the mornings. I thought perhaps it was due to the earlier rising of the sun, so we went out and bought yet another layer of room darkening supplies. To no avail. Nothing has changed here, sorry to say. I am glad naps are lengthening out, but I’d like nights to do so, too!

Nutrition:

Milk:

Hula Girl has been fine with whole milk. We have cut down her intake to 15-18 oz each day, per pediatrician recommendation at her 18-month appointment. However, I have been researching (what?! me, researching!? do I even do anything else with my time?!) and I have decided it’s a good decision to switch her over to another type of milk. The visit to the pediatrician yesterday (even though it was TERRIBLE) really helped me make up my mind. That, and posting my query on my favorite online Mom’s group and receiving lots of feedback. So we’re going to sllooooooowwlllyyy introduce and transition Hula Girl to coconut milk. Slowly meaning, she had about a tablespoon of it on her cereal this morning, and we’ll do some more next Thursday. And then the following Wednesday, then the following Tuesday, etc. I just want to make sure that I catch any slight symptom she might show if she is allergic to coconut.

Eating:
Hula Girl has gotten more picky. That’s not to say that she won’t eat most things; I just mean that she has distinct preferences and rarely finishes any of her veggies or meat. She’s also starting to show preferences for some fruit. She won’t eat much cantaloupe any more. She eschews kiwi. But give that girl a watermelon, and she’ll be occupied for hours!

We’re also dealing with a bit of mealtime mania as she’s constantly begging to leave the table. She is not allowed to leave unless she’s been excused. However, she has turned this into, “May I be dood from table? Yes, you may.” She excuses herself and then feels upset when she’s in trouble for leaving the table! Haha! Our most common form of correction in this case is to end the meal when she leaves her chair. I definitely don’t like to do it, but I don’t show her how bad it makes me feel. I just give her a hug and comfort her when she screams, “[Hula Girl] want more!!!”

Medical:

Reflux:
No incidence of vomiting in the past couple months. Yay!

Constipation:
Nope, nothing here, either. She will occasionally miss a “session” but she’ll make up for it in volume the next time. TMI?

Eczema:
We have some spots here and there. Her knee-pits tend to get red and yucky frequently. It’s pretty hot here these days and she gets sweaty there.  But it’s nothing a good dose of hydrocortisone can’t fix in a jiffy. We continue our regimen of Aquaphor baby wash and Vanicream lotion every night. Wax on, wax off.

Blocked Tear Duct:
Hula Girl’s eyes are beautiful… even more so now that the left one isn’t leaking fluid year-round. The antibiotic/steroid ointment plus massage plus benadryl cleared it right up. And we’ve had no issues since!
Teething:
We’re still waiting on those 2-year molars. I haven’t seen any evidence of teething pains yet. We check her mouth frequently, though. Once the two-year molars are through, we’re done with teething!!! (Just in time to start teething all over again with Gelato!)

Milestones:

Locomotion:
Hula Girl is still a mover. And her skillz have improved greatly. I am no longer afraid of plopping down in a chair in the backyard while she clambers all over her climber/slide thing. She’s also really into going outside barefoot these days. What can I say? That’s pretty cool. She’s not weirded out about grass touching her feet, but she definitely prefers cement or the pebbles in her rock box. She complains that the grass is too cold sometimes. 🙂

Language:
Hula Girl is now pretty easy to understand all the time. At least for me and Jonathan. Her Ama really understands much of what is said, as well! However, she speaks so quickly that many people miss what she’s saying, and she has to repeat herself.  I try my hardest not to translate directly for her, but if someone’s really struggling to understand, I will find an indirect way to communicate her point. For example, she loves to tell Jonathan what she’s having for lunch when we talk to him at lunch. Within the span of two seconds she’ll say something like, “[Hula Girl] having mah-mah-no-nee and deese and bapes and mimeapple and dado Daddy.” So I will have to say, “Yes, [Hula Girl] is having all that, but I’m having the macaroni and cheese only. I am not having grapes, pineapple, or avocado.” I like to preserve her self-respect (yes, Hula Girl, it’s GOOD for you to communicate on your own)!

She’s also starting to be able to talk about things without knowing their names. For example, this morning we were in the backyard. She was over on her slide, and then she started walking behind the juniper trees, past the rock box, on the cement, and around the gardens. I asked her, “What are you doing?” She said, “[Hula Girl] watching daht.” I was like, “What’s that?” “Daht. ” So I looked and looked, and finally spotted “that”- a lizard. “Oh, you’re watching that lizard.” “Yes, [Hula Girl] watching daht eezeed.” I like the way she incorporated the word “lizard” without even flinching. As it should be with learning! 🙂

Other
Hula Girl is demonstrating so much empathy lately. She really does care about all people. If anyone is crying within earshot, she will immediately stop what she’s doing and make a sad face at me and say, “Baby boy dy-dee?” Then she’ll go over to the baby boy (or whomever) and say, “Okay, okay, baby boy, non dy-dee!” I have no idea where she came up with the idea that she should say, “Don’t crying!”… because we never say that when she’s crying. In fact, when she’s crying, we tell her, “It’s okay to cry!” But she really does want everyone to just be happy all the time. She gets very worried if someone is crying or hurt. I stubbed my toe in her room the other day, and she stood in her crib and said, “Yoddy, Mommy! Mommy eet?” I said, “It’s okay, I am hurt, but I will be okay!” She always feels the need to say sorry, even if it wasn’t her fault. I think she learned that because we tell her we feel sorry that she’s sad or hurt or whatever. Sweet Girl.

Oh, random- her weight is 27.5 pounds, and she’s 34.5 inches tall. That puts her in the 50-75th percentiles in both categories. I can’t recall what her head circumference was. Oops.

A Great Book and a Really Stupid Pediatrician

… and I am LIVID right about now.

Let me explain some background information before I delve into the tale.

I am kind of a brain-development-research junkie. I love the human brain. I love the way it works. I love reading research and studies and articles that reveal more about the brain. I especially love studies on babies/toddlers/kids because that’s my whole entire life. I am here, raising my own kid(s). When I’m not here, raising my own kids, I will be in a classroom, teaching kids. I even mentioned to Jonathan that I’d like to volunteer in a hospital, rocking the babies in the NICU (do they let you do that anymore?!). It’s what I do, it’s what I’ve done. In fact, the majority of my jobs over my lifetime have been nannying/babysitting/camp counseling. I just can’t get enough of kids.

One of the most recent (and in my opinion, best) books on the topic is Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan by Gabrielle Principe. Her book details the reasons that several things in our modern society are… um… not ideal for babies and kids. I can’t say that I totally agree with her complete reliance on (and numerous references to) our brain’s “evolutionary history,” but the modern-day research she cites (she cites over two hundred studies throughout her book) more than makes up for the lack of credible history.

Her main themes in the book include parents’ affinity for pushing children toward excellence to the point where parents will believe any claims made by toy manufacturers as long as it makes the loud annoying shouting toy sound “educational”; society’s obsession with building proper “self-esteem” rather than allowing kids to realize they’re not actually as great as they think they are (entitled, anyone?); ease with which parents set their children in front of the television either to educate their children further (learn a new language!) or to occupy their children while the parents relax (or work); our country’s educational system, which is one of the worst in the world, which keeps getting worse; perceived “normalcy” of organized sports and activities for kids, beginning in infancy; and the lack of the great outdoors in our kids’ childhoods.

Okay, let me hone in on one of these topics. TV. Here’s a direct quotation from the book that pretty much sums up my own opinions on the topic as well:

We listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics when they tell us to put our babies to sleep on their backs, buckle them into car safety seats, slide them into bicycle helmets, and slather sunscreen on their skin. Yet when they tell us that children under two years should have no exposure to television, we completely ignore their advice.

There are MANY studies that have been performed which prove that any television exposure causes physical changes in an infant’s brain. Now I might be taking this too far- but don’t the words “physical changes in an infant’s brain” seem to be similar to the words “brain damage?” Neural pathways actually form in different parts of the brain, causing permanent physical changes, which short-circuit other pathways which are in charge of necessary functions of the brain. For realz, I am not making this up.

Even before reading this book, I had heard that there were some thoughts that TV viewing is associated with ADHD and such. Gabrielle Principe, however, actually downplays those theories in light of the other research. Sure, she cites the study “…which found that for each additional hour of television watched by a child under the age of three, the likelihood of an attention problem by age seven increased by 10 percent. So a three-year-old who watches three hours of television per day is 30 percent more likely to have attention problems than a child who doesn’t watch television.” But ADHD has not been PROVEN to be caused by television viewing. But she also makes it clear that because of a reflex that is innate in all humans, the orienting reflex, a baby who is near a television will have no choice but to pay attention to it. This will deprive the baby of learning the skill of attention- she will not be able to focus, truly focus, on anything else until the TV is off.

OKAY, so there’s the background- you now understand at least some of my reasoning behind our family’s decision to just sell our TV at a yard sale a last summer. (Don’t get me started on commercialization, violence, and skewed media. I have done my research there, as well.)

But today’s visit to our pediatrician’s office was the trigger. Hula Girl went in for her 2-year checkup. I will do a separate post on that. We have not seen this particular pediatrician before for a number of reasons. First, she’s brand new to the practice. Second, we’ve only visited this particular office twice before- once for Hula Girl’s 18-month checkup, and once for Hula Girl’s ear infections. We saw different doctors/RNs each time. No biggie. Third, we don’t get sick. We have no reason to have a particular doctor. 🙂

So we meet this lady, who is in her sixties, who introduces herself and says she’s living here to be near grandchildren. Great! I thought, She’s going to have a lot of empathy and be really good with Hula Girl!

Um, not so. My first clue was when she wouldn’t let me even talk to Hula Girl to explain what was going to happen. See, I like to prepare Hula Girl before going to the doctor. This morning we talked about how the doctor would be touching her head, tummy, legs, etc., and would be asking Hula Girl to open her mouth and such. Well, the doctor asked… and then when I tried to say, “See, it’s just like we talked about!” she kept talking and talking and raising her voice to talk over me. Back off, lady. I am trying to help you out by allowing MY KID to feel comfortable around you!!!! To no avail. Hula Girl clammed up and would NOT participate. Shocker. She eventually had to pry Hula Girl’s mouth open with a tongue depressor. Um, if she had just given me 3 seconds to speak softly and calmly to my daughter, that would never have happened. I wanted Hula Girl to get a splinter so I could sue for malpractice…

Then it happened. She looked at Hula Girl’s knees and said, “I like seeing knees that are bumped and scratched like this! It shows that the kids aren’t spending too much time in front of the TV.”

To which I responded, “Well, we don’t even have a TV. If the AAP is going to say, ‘No TV under three!’ then we’re going to listen.”

She said something like, “Well, those guidelines aren’t really feasible for anyone anyway.” (Um, hello? I just told you we don’t have a TV. And you’re saying it’s not feasible for anyone. Open your ears.)

She went on. “You know, there are two really good programs that I love for kids this age. Signing Time and My Baby can Read.”

I was trying to be casual and not ruffle any feathers… but I had already lost respect for this woman and her opinions. So I said, “What do you think about the numerous clinical studies that have proven that viewing Signing Time is directly related to speech delays in children?”

Her response (classic, btw), “I don’t really believe in those studies. I mean, my four-year-old grandson, who has a speech delay, has been watching Signing Time since he was a baby. It’s really good, too, because it helped when he was younger and couldn’t talk at all. He could sign things like ‘milk’ and ‘more’ so it cut down on the frustration levels.”

Did you catch that? Her four-year-old grandson, who has a speech delay, has been watching Signing Time since he was a baby. Um, isn’t that what I said the research shows?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!? But she doesn’t believe in the research?!Open your eyes, crazy lady. Your grandson is a statistic!!!!

I chose not to point out that my daughter, who has never seen TV (except in 4-minute clips of Elmo during illnesses and post-surgery), also signed pre-speech. In fact, if we really want to get technical, she signed DURING speech, too. She can do BOTH. And what else?! I taught her. She didn’t have to watch a stupid program (even though the lady’s voice is “so beautiful,” according to the pediatrician we saw today) to learn these things.

Okay, so recap:

1. The pediatrician we saw today thinks the AAP’s guidelines are meaningless.

2. She doesn’t believe in clinical research findings that are replicable and reputable, even though…

3. Her anecdotal evidence PROVES the research.

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!??!?!!?!?!??!

Needless to say, we will not be visiting that pediatrician EVER again.

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