Friday, September 30, 2011

Half-Marathon Round-Up!

Thanks to all the well wishes on the half-marathon!  I appreciate all the support and words of encouragement!

You may remember, I registered for the Women's Half Marathon in Nashville on January 31st. I booked a flight down and coordinated with my mom and stepdad (who were awesome enought to house and feed us for our quick 2 day trip).  So, months passed and soon that day was upon us!

Friday, September 23rd, Sarah and I caught an early flight to Nashville (which, of course, was delayed by an hour), where my parents met us.  After picking up our race packets, we had lunch with my mom, grandmother, and nephew, then a DELICIOUS dinner (a polenta eggplant-spinach lasagna...) and an early turn in.  We got up bright and early (at 4:15- eek!) and met up with Terri an hour later, then the three of us headed down to the WHM start.
Me, Terri, and Sarah, prior to the race

At 7am, the first of the corrals started, and 8 minutes later, our corral was off!  We were divided before mile 1 was over, but had a plan to meet ( NO JOKE) at the cookie tent!!! after the race.  My average was 10:15 minute miles (about 6mph) and I finished the 13.1 mile, very hilly course in (my jawdropping) 2 hours 14 minutes and 13 seconds.  My hardcore goal was 2:30, so do do 2:14 really thrilled me beyond measure.

Running the race and as happy as can be!

Crossing the finish line was quite the feeling of "I DID IT!"  It was an awesome feeling that words cant do justice.
Crossing the finish line at 2 hours, 14 minutes

I was able to "run in" 2 of my dearest friends (a special repayment for Sarah, who came back and ran me in at the tri in 2010), and then we enjoyed the above referenced cookie tent!

After eating (too many) cookies, fruit, and drinking gatorade and water, we headed back to my Mom's, where we said good-bye to Terri and enjoyed hot showers!
Three very happy Half-Marathoners!  Terri, Me, and Sarah
Because he rocks!, my stepdad made my fave, oysters rock', to send us on our way before we headed back to the airport.  We made it home safely and extremely tired.  But it was worth the whirlwind getaway and race.

I'm still riding the high.  I smiled a koolaid smile the entire race!!!

A year ago, I never would have fathomed this.  And now?  Now, I'm a half-marathoner!
Proudly sporting this on my car!
Scope out all my race pics here, and I'll be sure to update it when I have more!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Between THE Rock and a Hard Place

Months ago, I wrote about the possibility of undergoing a medical procedure to render me as barren as science can make me.  It's kind of funny, isn't it?  An infertile asking to be barren...  The irony isn't lost on me.

I want more children; so does Peter.  There's no denying that.  We've always said that we want a house full of them, biological and adopted.  There has been no greater joy in my life than motherhood (followed closely by wifehood :)  ).  At first, those dreams were put on hold because I simply couldnt get pregnant.  We fixed that with ovulation induction, and then the incompetent cervix and preterm labor took away any chances of a normal pregnancy.  Child loss, prematurity, lack of being able to breastfeed...  As Sarah says, put together a checklist of 'problems in pregnancy' and start checking them off!

It sucks, it really does.  And then, as Dr. Lee hoped, Bobby and Maya "fixed" my body and sent many of the symptoms of my PCOS into remission (a recent ultrasound shows that my ovaries are still teeming with follicles so the 'polycystic' aspect is still there, but hormonally, things are closer to normal).  Ovulation and menstruation have, amazingly enough, led to pregnancy... and another miscarriage.

I don't know what it was about our last pregnancy/miscarriage that did it, but it has left an open wound in my heart.  It made me re-evaluate things.  Add to that the adoption that fell through, and I've had an interesting plate these last few months.  We still plan to adopt, but as far as childbearing... It has brought Peter and I to a strange place... for a variety of reasons.

We're Catholic (no secret there).  We recently resigned from chairing the Respect Life Committee (just too much work on top of our home life) and Peter's a trained Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion as well as a lector; I'm a cantor and former Sacristan.  We teach pre-Cana (the "sex" class that deals with married sexuality, NFP, and the family).  So, to say that we are the types of Catholics that the priest knows by name and that most people at our parish know by sight is about right.  We read the Bible and the Catechism, and we've been raising the kids up in our faith, starting by their baptisms.  Even in trying to conceive them, the Church guided us.  So it's no surprise that our discussions led us back to the Church for counsel.

After months of discussion, Peter and I felt as though we had no other choices... That we had been backed into a corner with no positive way out.  My body cannot sustain pregnancy; it's never been able to.  Even my "success" story with Bobby and Maya was only successful because of the outstanding prenatal/antepartum and neonatal care we received.  Without that, they would have died simply because my body couldn't hold them long enough to adequately gestate them for this world.  It's painful to contemplate... Even more painful to discuss.  But the knowledge that I simply can't do this simple task and the ramifications from it make the realiziation that I can no longer carry a child clear.

If it were simply that I needed a cerclage to be okay, I think I'd have a TAC placed and take my chances.  But then there's the preterm labor and, because of the postpartum eclampsia, a higher risk of preeclampsia in pregnancy (assuming I could even get that far).  Tocolytics and P17 didnt have much of an effect.  My body just wasnt meant to do this.  100 years ago, I'd be childless.  Technology, as great as it has been in my case, is also a double edged sword and one that, it seems, I have to figure out how to put back in the stone.

So, months and months of discussion and Peter and I decided to consult with our priest about the Church's stance on sterility in a case like ours and to grant a dispensation for the medical procedure (a tubal ligation).  Our local priest, while not advocating sterility, didnt advocate another pregnancy with our medical history, and he advised us to seek out a priest with a speciality in moral theology (along with a recommendation).  We contacted said priest, who conferred with an expert in moral theology and cannon law, before they responded.

Unequivocally, no.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Sterility, no matter what, is always a grave, mortal sin, and is forbidden by the Church.  To have the procedure done anyway would result in excommunication.  The positive aspect of the decision was that they agree we have done everything humanly possible and that pregnancy is not a viable option for us.  Since NFP is also impossible (I dont have the temperature fluctuations needed for temping and my cervical mucus doesnt follow any sort of pattern with my ovulation... Tried that!), they agree that we are at a loss.  So... The response....  Abstinence.  To be exact: "Direct sterilization is an offense against the Moral Law from which no one can dispense another... Abstinence is their only option."

Fun times.

This response makes it difficult on two fronts.

First, we all know Catholics who use birth control (also considered morally evil) and who continue to walk down to take Communion every week.  There's also a fair amount who have had some sort of sterilization procedure, and no one is the wiser.  It is what it is.  They know the Church says it is wrong, they dont care, and que sera sera.  They are fine with it. 

We aren't those Catholics.

Secondly, we dont agree with the response.  And that, perhaps, is the hardest pill to swallow.

The Catechism, under the heading of The Love of Husband and Wife, paragraph 2363, states that "The spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family."  Continuing, paragraph 2368, states "A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality: en it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart."  Finally, paragraph 2399 states the Church's stance clearly: "Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception). "

Our advice is abstience because paragraph 2399 states that, regardless of our reasoning, sterilization (or any form of contraception, not that we'd use it) is morally unacceptable. 

We embrace the teaching of paragraph 2363: the twofold end of marriage (as it relates to sexual intimacy in marriage)  is the good of the spouses AND the transmission of life.  We also agree that these values CANNOT be separated without altering the couple's spiritul life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.  Add to that the section of paragraph 2368 that states "It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality: en it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love..."  And that's where our disagreement brings us.

Abstinence defeats the twofold purpose.  "The good of the spouses" (i.e. the sexual union) AND any chance at pregnancy are both out of the question with this advice.  And, according to the Catechism, we run the risk of altering our spiritual life as a couple, compromising our marriage, and of having a negative impact on our family.  And while I am in no way arguing that sterilization should be permissible (because I dont think that), I do believe that every rule has a just exception.  (Easy for me to say, right?  Especially when I'm arguing that I'm the exception.)  But, in our case, our desire to not have every intimate liason allow for pregnancy, we are not motivated by selfishness but truly in responsible parenthood.  And, as far as objective criteria, I cant image a more self-giving and stance of true-love for our children (and those I might conceive) than to say that we love you all enough to put ourselves at the least amount of risk that we would hurt you. 

My babies die.  It's a sad truth.  The 2 who lived are testaments to the power of prayer and the great care they received in utero and out of it.  But babies are not meant to be born in the 2nd trimester.  If they were, then you'd meet a lot more 20something weekers.  Part of "God's plan" as people love to remind others when people debate moral issues, is that children have a set gestational period.  Otherwise, we wouldnt traditionally carry babies for 38 gestational (40 lunar) weeks!  While sterilization does grant us the "freedom" to have sexual intimacy whenever, it also has a failure rate (something abstinence doesnt).  I'll admit it is a small percentage, but ask the 2 out of 1000 couples who conceived post-sterilization if those were odds they expected and I'd wager a fair amount that it wasnt.  We accept those as the opportunity to parent.  As the transmission of life spoken of in the Catechism.  It's a road block that we are throwing up, no doubt, but it doesnt render pregnancy impossible, as abstience does.

All these arguements aside, however, the Church is the Church.  She isnt going to change because Peter and I disagree.  And therein, is yet another problem.  So many of my dear, sweet, very Catholic (in the world's way) friends say "do it."  They know folks and no big deal.  Or simply, do it and, since you already regret it, go to confession and therefore no more mortal sin, no more excommunication, no harm, no foul!

But it doesnt work that way.  Not for us.  This isnt having a piece of meatloaf on a Friday during Lent (we dont, by the way).  This is a BIG sin in the realm of rating sin (which we also dont believe, funny enough: one sin is just as sinful as another in our book).  But sin... Now there's an interesting thing in this discussion, as well.

A brochure entitled "Is Contraception and Sterilization Always a Mortal Sin?" has some Church fathers on the topic, as well as a section on sin.  The consequences of sin, of which this would be considered are... the continual crucifixion of Jesus within by the committing of sin (which I would argue happens every single time I do any sort of sinning, regardless of it's value as mortal or venial); harms our relationship with God (let me be frank here: continuing to miscarry and bury children has damaged my relationship with God.  It's the honest truth.  Not to say I dont have faith or that I am not on the road to recovery by the Great Spirit I thought I knew isnt the one I've discovered, for better AND for worse); and harm to others (this goes without saying... while we can all argue that babies who are miscarried or die shortly outside the womb had the love of their mothers and knew safety and peace, I also know that Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander (at least) suffered in their lives on this earth and that I had a direct relation to that suffering.  They suffocated to death.  Hold yourself under what until your lungs burn.  Then imagine that times 10... And not being able to get a breath.  That's how their bodies felt as their immature lungs began to crush them.) 

Paragraph 1472 of the Catechism instructs that grave sin, of which this would be because it is being done in the full knowledge of the Church's teachings, deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life.  Tough words there... Not just excommunication with the Church, but hellbound as well.  And not just for me, but for Peter too, since he would be agreeing to the procedure.

In addition to our research into what the Catholic Church teaches, we've also looked into what the (Greek) Orthodox Church says on the topic, not only because they are a place that Peter has always felt comfortable with, but also because, liturgically and "rule" speaking, they are our closest brothers/sisters in Christ.  They also dont allow sterilitity HOWEVER exceptions can be made for extreme cases.  Interesting... Also interestingly enough, the brochure above, in its references, cites writings from both Catholic/Orthodox writers until it references 2 Popes from the 1930s & 1960s, and a Catechism reference.

We're in a tough spot...  I try to be honest here and I can tell you we are struggling.  Because of how we've tried to raise our kids and our own love of the Church, the idea of going against the teaching is one that gives us a great pause.  We know that we run the risk of making a decision that casts us out of our family of faith.  It opens up another can of discussion between Peter and I (Greek Orthodox versus Roman Catholicism) and that isnt an easy place to be either when my feelings center around that uncomfortable feeling of "church shopping".

I accept that I'm kind of a mishmash of things.  Deep down, I know I'm a tree hugging, earth worshipping, animist who happens to find solace, peace, and love in the Catholic Church, especially our little piece of it a few town's over.  While I wont lie to you and say that I agree with the Catechism 100% (because I've read it a few times...), I can say that it is the framework that Peter and I made a conscious choice to try and live within.  But one thing we've also always done is followed our conscience and our own, personal connection to the Divine.

So now we are left to decide: which path do we choose when we are forced with following our conscience and our Church?

(I recognize that a fair amount of followers are not Catholic, nor do they agree with the Church's stance on things like IVF, etc.  Please no bashing on this post.  Honest opinions are ALWAYS accepted and appreciated, but flaming, inappropriate, or downright rude intolerance isn't tolerated.)

Happy Life Day... To Me!

So much can change in a year.  By the end of 2007, I was pregnant.  By the end of 2008, I had bore and buried three children...  By the end of 2009, we had Bobby and Maya home...  And, at the end of 2010, I found myself struggling with myself.  I started a blog to chronicle my weight issues, which I started with a post entitled Battling My Bulge, in which I took that 'first step' to try and stop killing myself with obesity.  I came to terms with the fact that I was 251 pounds when the kids were born and, a year later, was still looking at 240 on the scale.  I came to terms with the fact that although I had PCOS and Hashimoto's, what I had more of what a lack of responsibility and self-control and a problem overeating and with emotional eating.  I wasnt sure exactly what to do about it, but I knew I had to do something.  I cried about it on this blog with What We Need to See, a post about being slapped in the face by my obesity and the heartbreak that I finally had come face to face with.

I'd tried dieting... I'd tried working out...  I just didnt have the balls (pardon the word) to keep with it.  But, something switched in me last September.  Something changed.  I changed.  I saw myself for what I was- and for all the things that I wanted to be, not just for me, but for my kids and my family.  And that, truly, for me was the time that I stopped lying to myself and started telling myself the brutal, honest truth when it came to my weight.  I was fat.  And I was responsible for that.  Not the Hashi's, not the PCOS... But the overeating- that was me.  All me.  I didnt need to take a pill to get healthy- I needed to take responsibility.

And I did.  And I continue to do so.  It's a daily battle and sometimes I lose it (and the bag of pretzel M&Ms wins).  But I'm still fighting it.  And I know I'll win the war.  In a lot of ways, I already have.

I didnt know where I'd be a year from last.  I didnt know if, once again, I'd find an excuse to use as a crutch or if I'd just give up because I didnt want to keep going.  There have been tears.  There's been eating when I wasnt hungry.  There's been reaching out to friends and Peter when I just needed another voice on the line.  But, in the span of a year, I've changed.

And not just on the outside, which is clearly visible (even to my blindness!) but on the inside.  I've become much more aware of myself (and my faults).  That's not to say I've made all the changes I could make!  But I am aware.  And I think that I accept advice a little easier (although Peter may disagree!)

But, the physical.  That's what people seem to see the most.  And I am different.  I went from a size 20 to a size 8; an XL (or XXL in some cases) to a Medium (and even a Small at times).  I went from barely being able to run a quarter of a mile (in 20+ minutes and with walk breaks) to running a PR of a mile in 9 minutes and a half marathon in (wait for it...) 2:14.  Thats 10 minute miles (6mph).  I didnt place (and havent in any of my races) but I dont care.  I've done it.  I've had that moment.  And what an incredible moment it was.

So, today, I think I'm making a cake for me.  A life cake.  A year older, a year wiser, a year of really living- and being proud of the life I've lived.  I honestly could ask for anything more today that the knowledge that I've given myself an extra year of life by changing the past one.

(Just for fun... Here's 2 pictures of me after the triathon, at 240 pounds...

And here's me, before and after the half, at 169 pounds...)

For more race pictures, click here...

Monday, September 26, 2011

One of THOSE Parents...

I'm one of THOSE parents...  I always knew I was, but today, it was clear...  I took my kids to McDonalds... and packed their lunch.

Let me back up.  I've blogged about Mr. B's, a coffee shop at a local church, who has a play-yard for kids.  We love it there; the kids love it there.  But, they're closed on Mondays.  And, today's a Monday...  And there's rain the forcast... So, I thought, hey... Why not?  Of course, I dont want them eating there, but there's one in town that has a play center, so I figured (as to not be horrible) I could buy myself lunch (no judgement- I had a salad which actually wasnt that bad and weighed in at only 300 calories with the tiny bit of dressing I tossed on it), so I would be a 'paying customer' and then I packed a simple lunch for the kids (since I fully expected them to be so overwhelmed by the play area that they wouldnt want to eat much and would necessitate a "second lunch".  But anyway...

My MIL (who laughed her butt off!) came with me to see the kids first (and quite possibly one of the very few) time to McD's.  They had a great time.  They needed me to show them how to climb up (and let me say, my knees did NOT appreciate that!) but when they were on the levels, which they got to themselves, they had a BLAST.  And then they took the (long!) slide down to where Peter's mom waited.

All in all, it was a fun time...  Even if I was that mom. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Second Chances

Well, it's Tuesday...  Bible study day...  I woke up this morning and things weren't looking good.  It's raining, we got up later than I wanted, I didnt get to run (at all), and the car was pretty much on "E" as far as gas is concerned.  Yeah... Not feeling it...  But we got squared away and out of the house by 8:45, and I had enough gas to get there, so I figured, this has got to be something of a good sign.

When we arrived at the 2yo classroom, Maya clung to me like she was attached.  Bobby, funny enough, actually walked into the room on his own.  Of course, then he turned around and sacked me like I was an opposing quarterback!  (Watched the Giants game last night... YAY!)  So, I got into the room and we sat down.   And didnt move.

I sat with them on the floor and we talked about toys while Maya whined and held me like she was drowning.  Bobby walked around me and would plop down from time to time, then get back up and walk away, then come back.  Repeat.  Finally, we got to where there was a little kitchen.  And a little girl offered Maya a toy.  Then, once Maya let go and took the toy, the girl hugged her!  While Maya was still pretty much attached to me, she would walk over and play for a minute, then back to me.  Bobby was doing the same thing.  Walk somewhere, look or play, then back to mom.  I kept telling them that I wouldnt leave until they were ready and that I would always be back.  I tried walking to the counter to finish signing them in (I was still in the room) but that caused tears, so I reassured them.  (During this time, the volunteers were great.  There was no pressure for me to leave them (maybe because they saw what happened last week) and they didnt make a big deal out of a mom staying after all the other moms had left, so I dont think the other kids were upset).  Maya helped clean up and Bobby sort of did, and then it was Gym time.  While we had some meltdowns in line (the kids arent used to waiting in line and I think they were quite shocked by the entire idea... interesting the things you learn in a group setting...), we walked with the class (the kids held my hands) to the gym.

And then Bobby found his happy place.  He was away from me and towards the balls before you could say "Have fun!"  He played with others, played by himself, ran, jumped... You name it.  He was thrilled.  Maya would go out and play, but immediately came back for a snug.  But, during this time, I did have a chance to interact with the volunteers a little more (which I hope encouraged Bobby and Maya to see them as new friends). Maya asked to go potty and I even left Bobby for five minutes (he was fine).  Of course, gym time ends and Bobby is a nightmare, but in positive Maya news, she held the knot line with one hand (like the other kids) and mine with the other, so we could all walk back.  (I had to fireman carry Bobby out of the gym- that kid is STRONG).  He walked once we got into the hallway and they both went back into the room (with me behind them) with no fuss. 

Then it was snack time.  They, I'm proud to say, sat at the table with the other kids and let the vols wash their hands.  Then, they accepted their cups/snacks from the volunteers (while I helped with the other table of kids).  While they were snacking, I said "Mommy is going to go to her classroom now, but I'll be back.  I love you."  Bobby didnt really look up; Maya waved bye-bye.  I walked out of the class and made eye contact one last time before disappearing from view.

And then I sat in the hallway.

I waited for ten minutes, but they were fine with their snack.  I would peek in without them seeing me, and they were still okay, so I opted to go to my class.

Where I lasted for about 20 minutes... Before I was paged back to the 2yo room... Where Bobby was in the floor crying and Maya was red faced.  Good times.

When I hugged him, I explained that I had gone, but like I promised, I'd come back when he needed me.  He hugged me and didnt want to let go, but the crying wasnt as bad as it was last week.  They had immediately come for me once the upsetness started (as I'd requested) so that we could try building a place of trust (ie I'm upset and Mommy comes back.  It's okay for me to be here.  Etc.)  Once he was calm, I went to where Maya was crying softly while trying to be brave and color with the other kids.  When she saw me, the waterworks started, but I let her scramble into my lap, and I soothed her the same way.  Yes, I left, but like I promised, I'd come back.  It was okay.

We sat in the floor, the kids on either side of my lap, for 15 minutes until the program was near ending.  Then, Maya got their jackets when I asked her to, and we got ready to go.  They walked into the hall and got in the stroller.  We went to Mr Bs and played a bit, had a meltdown when it was time for dipes (no one wanted to leave but they NEEDED to be changed), and then had lunch easily.  Of course, after lunch, no one wanted to leave (I mean, there is the play place and all...) but it was noon and we've been trying to do lunch at noon, and nap by 12:30, so home it was.  They were in bed by 12:25; Maya fell asleep right away and Bobby stopped his singing at 12:35.  They are peacefully asleep as I type.

So...  Got there a little after 9...  I left to sit in the hallway at 10:20... Got to my class (which started at 9:15) at 10:30... Called back to their class at 10:50... We got to Mr. B's at 11:10.   (Mr B's is a 2-3 minute walk from their classroom).  It wasnt as traumatic as last week; even though I was with them for over an hour, they were starting to adjust to the new environment.  And, while I was only away from them for half an hour (during the end of that, they were upset, I'm sure), it was better than the 15 minutes of nonstop screaming and then 15 minutes in my class that ended in me returning to the screaming that hadnt stopped, that we did last week.  The volunteers all said that this was progress and that I'm welcome to come back next week (to stay with them until they are ready for me to leave).  The woman who runs the program even told me that her grandson had a similar issue but eventually felt comfortable enough to stay. 

Thank you to all who emailed, commented, or chatted with me with your stories and advice.  I appreciate it.  Initially, I agreed with people who said that maybe the kids arent ready for this enviroment; after today, I dont.  I think they are ready; but I think that it is a new place and they are scared.  And that's okay.  I think that neither of us were ready last week and that I ended up making the wrong choice by leaving them behind when they were upset themselves (and probably felt my anguish and fear, too).  Today, I tried to project that this was a safe place, a place where we could have fun together, and the knowledge that THEY were in control of when Mommy left and when she would return.  I wanted them to know that I wouldnt leave them until they were okay with it and that if/when they wanted me back, they could trust that I would return.  I think we made a start with that. 

I also think they liked being with the other kids and making some new friends.  Even though it's a small step (and they didnt get to hang out with the kids more than they chose to hang with me), I think that seeing the same group next week and the next may make it easier for them to feel comfortable.

My classmates were sweet.  When I came in late, no one made an issue and the teacher, after hugging me, told me that it was fine and that most of the women were moms who got it.  When the nursery vol came to get me, the teacher explained that Bobby and Maya were having a hard time getting used to their first time away and asked that the classroom stop for a moment and say a prayer for them and for me, which I thought was kind.  It doesnt feel like people consider this a burden, more that this is an adjustment for everyone involved, and that made me feel better about the situation.  I hope I eventually get to spend more than 20 minutes in the class (the discussion I was part of was very interesting) and that I get to know these women a little better. 

So, Today is brought to you by the word BETTER.  As in, it was better than last week and not the complete fail we had the first time.  Hopefully next week will bring even brighter days!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and, if you happen to visit the CHOP website, the statistics are staggering.  Cancer is the LEADING cause of death in children and, as I'm sure you realize, it is one of the least funded areas of research.  It's no secret that pediatric oncology has a place in our family's heart, which is why Alex's Lemonade Stand is so important to us and why we've decided to make the Lemon Run a staple of our year.  We'd love for you to join us in running or walking the 5K distance (3.12 miles) in honor of the children fighting this disease or in memory of the one's who have left this world because of it.  Whether you can join in a local race or go to your local park and just walk to distance while your thoughts are with those precious children and their families...  Whether you can't walk or run, but you want to donate to help fund the research that saves lives (and will one day find a cure)...  You can make a difference for a child and their family.

We've been asked to share Robert's story as part of the Alex's Lemonade Stand Heros project.  As I worked on his story, our family was shocked to learn that one of Peter's younger cousins had to be rushed to the hospital for pain, where it was discovered she had ovarian cancer.  She's in her early 20s with her life ahead of her and now she feels as though she's been slammed into a wall.  (On that note, I've sent out some emails to folks already, but if you are an ovarian cancer survivor, especially if this happened in your teens or early 20s, and are willing to connect with her, please email me.)  On top of this, a child the kids and I had been praying for each day lost her battle with cancer.  It's been a rough few weeks. 

What could we accomplish if we put our heads together?  If instead of our daily Starbuck's, we donated those funds to organizations of Alex's to fund more research?  Isn't it worth that $5/day?  Isn't the possibility that we could save ONE child- that we could give them the chance to grow up, to go to college, to marry and have children, that we could save a single family the heartbreak of burying a son or daughter, a brother or sister- isn't that worth it?

I'd love to say that I'm going to stop doing this or that until the time at which we have a cure... But ideology isn't going to win the war.  Instead, I think we have to talk about it.  Just like with infertility and loss, we have to break the silence and ignorance.  We have to share our stories- THEIR stories-, open our wallets (and our hearts), lace up our running shoes, and focus on the cause.  It's not about who discovers the cure or even when... It's about giving these families hope and doing whatever it is we can to give these special children the life that is out there waiting for them...

September doesnt have very many days left, but if you blog or facebook or if you dont (you probably still talk to someone during your day!), get the word out.  Make the next few days your contribution to the cause.  Educate someone.  Donate something.  Take a walk and pray.  Meditate and send your energies to your local children's hospital.  Reach out to a family in crisis.  Read a book to a sick child (or, better yet, treat them like they were BEFORE they were sick... They may have cancer, but they still want a childhood!).  Talk to a mother and dont expect her to break down on your shoulder (but let her if she needs to).  Relax with a father (and dont expect him to sob like an infant but, if he does, let him know that it's okay).  Remember with a family who has lost a child; you have no idea what simply saying that child's name and letting their parents and siblings know that YOU remember can mean.  Blog about it, facebook a link, or just say a few words. 

But it's here.  It's not going away anytime soon.  And, if we cant stop it from happening, we can at least work towards curing it.  That cure starts by our words.

"September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month..."

(Click here to visit our Robert's Run page as part of the 2012 Lemon Run in Philadelphia)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today Is Brought To You By The Word FAIL

A blogger friend invited me to a women's Bible study at her church.  The church offered a variety of different studies and childcare for kids of all ages, so after talking with Peter, we decided it would be a good experience for the kids to get to know other children their age, to have some time with a caregiver other then me (since we dont want Montossori school next fall to be their first big time away from Mama), and for me to play with my religion chops in a group setting (I love me some good religious discussion!).  I signed up for one of the no charge/no book/no homework classes since, if things did bomb, I didnt want to have invested in materials.

I cant deny that I've been nervous as we've led up to this morning.  Would the kids be okay?  Would I be okay leaving them?  How would I feel if everything went off without a hitch?  How would I feel if it were a nightmare?  Would the kids even get up in time so that we could make it to the church (20 minutes away) by 9am so that I could get them settled into the kids program and get to my class upstairs by 9:15?

Things seemed to be going well.  Peter and I watched football until 11:30 last night, then went to bed, but I was still able to get up for a run this morning.  Home, shower, Bobby up, Peter's shower, Maya's up, and breakfast.  Yay!  Things going well!  I packed their lunch (I figured we'd play at Mr. B's and have lunch before heading home and that they'd possibly pass out in the car to start their nap) and then got them dressed.  Score!  We were in the car at 8:40!

The drive to the church was uneventful and we arrived promptly at 9.  I passed another set of twins (who ended up going to the same 2 year old classroom) and rolled the kids into the church in their stroller.  We got to the 2yo room and that's about where it went downhill...  My worst thoughts?  Multiply them by about 10 and that's where we were.

The room looked great.  They had a half dozen motherly and grandmotherly volunteers, lots of toys, a book reading station, and little cubbies for the kids' stuff.  There was a check-in where you took a key that corresponded to your child/ren so that they couldnt be signed out without you turning that in.  The halfwall that blocked the door was locked and, although you could see tearstained faces and hear whines, the kids inside looked to be having a good enough time.  Enter my kids.

The second I put them inside, they screamed and cried.  Bobby climbed the wall to grab my shoulder and refused to let go.  I peeled him off of me, but then he climbed the wall (I dont even know how) to try and climb over the sign-in ledge.  I go inside to try and calm them and they both lunge for me, in tears.  I showed them toys, books, you name it.  They werent interested.  At some point, Maya sees a toy she likes and walks away from me to investigate it, but by the time I've disengaged Bobby and shown him a toy, she's back.  They finally walked away from me, but it was to go to a door (what I'm sure they saw as an exit).  One of the volunteers assured me that if they were a mess and couldnt be calmed, someone would come get me.  I got to my class around 9:15 and I'm not ashamed to say that I nearly cried myself.

At 9:30, someone tapped my shoulder and said "I'm sorry, but we've been unable to calm your son down."

Yeah.  That was an understatement.  As soon as I exited the stairwell from the 3rd floor to the 2nd floor (where they were), I could hear him screaming.  And not just screaming, but that uncontrolled wailing that drives a stake directly through your heart.  I go inside and he is  laying on the floor, just bawling.  A quick look finds Maya and her tearstained face in the arms of the one of the volunteers, looking at a toy.  I go to Bobby who, once he hears my voice, opens his eyes, sobs, and leaps into my arms, burying his face in my shoulder and just letting go of the tears.  Through the sobbing, I could hear "Mama" and just sobs.  It broke my heart. 

One of the volunteers explained that they were letting him cry on the floor because everytime someone tried to placate him, he just cried harder.  While I understood it, it still broke me to the core as I held him, rocking him, calming him.  Eventually he relaxed and sat down in my lap, letting me just kiss him and rub his forehead.  And then Maya caught an eye of us.

Oh the tears.  And the screaming.  And the fighting away from the volunteer so she could run to where we were.  She grabbed the other arm and Bobby slid over so she could get in my lap.  She sobbed out "MamaMamaMama" before she starting choking on her own tears.  It was all I could do not to cry.  They were both red, blochy faced and in anguish.  And I did that.  I left them and brought them to such a state.  Oh.My.God.  I felt horrid.

I finally convinced them that we were going and they let me stand up.  I gave over my keys, signed them out, and got them in the stroller.  Maya didnt even want to hold my Bible (which has an illustrated Rosary section and you know her love of the Blessed Mother so that says a lot!).  She just wanted to get away from the kids area.  I thought they might like to go to Mr Bs, maybe run off some energy.  They let me take them there and take their shoes off, but after about 2 minutes, they both went tohe door and wanted to go home.  So, that's what we did.  We went home.

They were miserable.  MISERABLE.  We finally got home, played a bit, had lunch, and they went to bed.  But, I feel so horrible and, for the first time, I'm second guessing myself.

I know that plenty of people send their kids to daycare from the start and experience the growing pains right away.  And there are plenty of folks who stay home for a while and then send kids to nursery school and deal with this.  So, I'm not alone.  And most people say "Just keep it up and they'll get used to it."

But I dont know... I'm not sure I can do that.  The looks on their faces.  The heartbreak.  My own heartbreak!  It was a type of devestation that I havent felt since they were 3 months old and I left them with Peter- their FATHER!- for an hour and heard them sobbing when I returned.  And he's their dad!  They love him and know him!

I had initally thought, when they were babies and RSV season had passed, that maybe I'd go to the gym and leave them at the kids program so I could workout for an hour.  Talking to Peter about that, however, we made the decision to not do that.  I'm wondering now if that was a mistake.  Should we have brought them into a group environment sans a parent earlier?  At 2 years old, are they just so used to Peter and I (or even my MIL or Sarah) that trying to adjust to a new environment is just too much of a shock?

The volunteer whom Maya "liked" told me that she and Maya seemed to bond, once Maya was away from Bobby (who, at that point, was screaming like a banshee on the floor).  She's always been slightly more social (usually) so I'm not surprised she made a friend and allowed herself to be wooed by toys.  They said that she was crying and trying to love on him because he was so upset and, since she couldnt help him, she cried even harder.  So, they tried to break them up to help her transition and in the hopes that one of the volunteers could help Bobby settle.  Whether that made him worse, I dont know, but it seemed to help her a bit.  And, possibly, had he settled down, they both would have been fine by the time the 2 hours was over.  But seeing me, she definitely showed that she wasn't happy and was just settling until that time that she could get what she wanted: me.

So, I'm pretty shaken, to be honest.  Did we do them a disservice by not introducing them to an environment like this earlier?  Is this something we just have to deal with and eventually it will get better?  We'd initially said we'd give it a month and if each week was nightmare (it would be every Tuesday morning) then we'd throw in the towel and say they just arent ready for this.  But now I dont know.  I want to throw in the towel now!

I called Peter and filled him in on the drama.  He was at work and, obviously, couldnt talk, but said we'll discuss how to make this work when he gets home. 

On the one hand, I think it will be good for them to get used to an environment without a caregiver they are used to and to make new friends their own age.  On the other hand, I dont want them just fawning over relative strangers and easily letting go of me.  There's not an easy answer to the problem.  We didnt want to make this a time where they were watched by my MIL; a big part of me signing up for the study was so that the kids could have this opportunity.  If they arent ready for that (or dont want it), then it's not worth it to me to continue and try to arrange outside care. 

So, now we're deciding whether or not they aren't ready or if the shock of this was just too much and maybe next week (or the next) might be better.

But their red eyes and splotchy cheeks all scream out the word for the day.  F-A-I-L

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday!

So, today's the day...  My little 2 pounders are officially 2 years old!  (and huge in comparison!)  We'll have their 2 year check up next week, so I wont guess, but Bobby is as solid as a rock and Maya, our little feather, is full of girl power.  They are amazing to watch.

They're watching Super Why!  with Peter right now and, fittingly, it's a birthday episode.  I just finished
"playground mulching" some of our backyard, in the anticipation of both rain and kids this afternoon (I'm hoping the one will stay away!).  Now, it's off to Target to pick up the remaining odds and ends (like paper products!) for their party.  I made their cake yesterday (yeah, Cake Boss I am NOT!) and I have to finish preparing the food and the note cards for what is gluten free/vegetarian/vegan/etc. and then I'm pretty much done.  Oh, and punch.... Got to make my mom's punch...

My babies aren't babies anymore.  They are full blown toddlers and have been for some time, even if I've been holding back admitting that fully to myself. No longer do we count in months, but years...  No longer will their adjusted age be mentioned because, at 2, children who will catch up are deemed to have done so (although I dont know the last time anyone actually did mention it). 

We're at that point where the toddler moves towards the preschooler.  It feels strange to turn the corner from infant to toddler and to anticipate the future.  And it's a future I feel confident about, truly.

Happy Birthday, Bobby and Maya.  Every day of my life with you, from start to now, has been an utter blessing.  Sometimes a fearful, tear stained blessing, but a huge blessing nonetheless.  I love you so much and hope your birthday is perfect and wonderful, and a blueprint of your days to come.

Friday, September 9, 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 9

Today is the last day that my babies are 1 year olds... It's crazy to think that tomorrow they will be 2!

The first for today wasnt nearly as fun as milkshakes or going to the kidzone; it was more of a developmental thing I suppose.  I had an appointment with Dr. B., so my MIL came over after the kids had breakfast to babysit.  Now, this isnt so big of a first- she sees the kids regularly and they go to visit she and my FIL on Wednesdays- but this would be the first time they would be doing a nap time without me (or Peter). 

I confess... I still sing to the kids and snuggle them whenever I can sneak it in!  With Maya, she wants to be put in her bed, with her 'night-night' entourage, and (if I'm lucky) will let me sing a verse of "Oh Maya Girl" or "May the Road Rise..." to her.  The get out; she wants to go to bed and you need to be elsewhere.  Bobby will let me sing a few verses and get in some good snuggles and sometimes even calls me back to him after he's been in bed for a while and decides he need more Mama Tunes.  I dont mind.  But, I also realize that him moving towards Maya's speed of 'get-the-hell-out-so-I-can-go-to-bed' is important.  And being able to go to bed without Mamalove is also important, not because I dont want to give it, but because at some point (like the half marathon in 2 weeks) I wont be here for 2 naptimes and 1 bedtime. 

Their big kid beds have made a world of difference in our lives (I'll be doing a review of these soon because we LOVE them so much), and they've made a 12 hour stretch of toddler-sleeping at night a reality where we were getting maybe 8-9 hours (which is fine if you want to go to bed by 8pm every night...).  So, this is good.  Naps are good too.  We still get a nice 2-3 hour nap every day (2-2.5 hours is the norm), but again, there's the Mamalove and singing. 

Today, Peter's mom put them in their beds around 11:45.  They chatted back and forth (while she hung out in the living room).  Maya was out by 11:50; she went in to see Bobby because he started to get noisy, but it was only a minor intervention and she left.  He was out fifteen minutes later.   He slept 2 hours, Maya slept 3.  All in all, it was successful!  I'll admit, I'm a little sad that I was easily forgotten (of course, coming home to the love was well worth it!) but I'm also proud that they were able to go to bed on their own without Peter or I here. 

Naps and bedtime are pretty easy routines around here.  They know the deal and they go to bed these days with relative ease.  It's just another way they are growing up (and, to be honest, I think I'm less ready for this than they are!). 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday...2 years ago

2 years ago, September 10th was a Thursday.  I'd had a day of visitors and around 4/4:30, if memory serves, had my first of 2 Procardia doses that didnt work.  Around this time (5:15), I was on the phone with Dr. M., who told me she was coming back to the hospital and to hang tight.  Then it was over to the C-section prep room to sign the papers for the spinal and to get ready for a C-section that would take place on that Thursday night, about 2 hours out from now...

I look back at myself on that day.  Scared.  Excited.  Terrified.  Hopeful.  Out of mind with worry and every other emotion imaginable.  Praying that Bobby and Maya would be okay... That they would take a breath... That they would live to see a long, healthy life... That if someone had to die that night, that it would be me and not them, as though somehow I could barter my life for theirs.  I remember the look on Peter's face when he was shown back to the prep room.  I remember my 2 favorite APU nurses, Kim and Janet, still there with me. even though their shifts were coming to an end.  Janet rubbing my back through contractions (and herself about to pop with her Halloween baby), Kim holding my hand and finding the babies on the TOCO, assuring me they were okay and that she wouldnt leave my side.

She didnt, either.  She traded shifts with a delivery nurse so that she could be there.  She held me when Dimitri, the anesthesiologist, gave me the spinal.  She held my hand when the blue curtain went up and they brought Peter back.  She leaned in and, even though her face was covered, I could tell by her eyes that she was smiling when she told me that Dr. M. had arrived and was suiting up and updating Dr. B. on the phone in the hallway. 

The surgery was over relatively quickly in the grand scheme of things.  Babies didnt cry.  They were whisked away where two women I'd come to know and love over our NICU journey, Michelle and Kerri, took care of them, along with a team of neonatlogists, respiratory therapists, and other nurses.  They showed us Bobby wrapped in plastic; he was so tiny, so pink, so beautiful.  Maya was wheeled by in an incubator and I remember that gorgeous hair, brilliant like a ray of sunlight... those scrunched up eyes...  An image of sheer lovliness...  A fighting Irish temper even then.  Peter left me in the capable hands of Dr. M. and Kim, and followed the babies to the 6th floor.

In recovery, I remember Kim and Janet, long after they should have gone home to their own families, coming back to give me an update.  They'd been upstairs and had checked in on the peanuts, telling me they were healthy and doing great under the circumstances.  I was relieved; of all the people, I knew they werent going to bullshit me.  They'd never sugarcoated the situation; to hear them say that Bobby and Maya were fine was like being thrown a life jacket in a rapid filled river.  It didnt get us out of the water, but we were afloat.  And, at that point, that's all I wanted. 

Thursday night... The weather, not rainy if I remember, but still the start of the fall season...  Leaves starting to turn and fall, but summer still lingering.  Today, as I watched them climb on the huge monster of a "kidzone", as I hear Maya count to ten and Bobby sing the ABCs on the way into the garage this afternoon, as she tells me "Potty" and he leads me back to his changing table... I'm reminded of the 2 pound peanuts that were in my womb a mere 2 years ago and how, on a Thursday night, they came into this world and fought tooth and nail to stay here.  We had a few set backs, but all in all, we were lucky that we got off the rollercoaster as easily as we did.  And I'm grateful.  To Dr. B and Dr. M.... to Kim and Janet and all the APU nurses and residents who took care of us during my 7 week stay... to Michelle and Kerri and the NICU nurses who cared for Bobby and Maya with such love during our 9 week NICU journey... to our families and friends and clergy who supported and loved us...  to every single person who uttered our name in prayer or touched their heart with thoughts of us...  Eternally grateful.  Every day.  But especially this Thursday evening.

The first time I held them together, 9/23/09

The loves of my life, July 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 8

Lunch with Annie B @ Molly Maguire's!  (yes, the kids go to pubs... another sign of my great parenting!  in my defense, they even have a "kids eat free" promotion on Mondays, so I'm not the only parent taking my kid to an Irish pub!)

The kids went to MMs back when they were uber little.  Sarah and I took them and sat in the window so they could watch the cars.  They were eating solid foods a'la mashed potatoes, so not really "eating" in the general sense.  Today was a little off, since we met Ann (aka Annie B since "Aunt Ann" sounds a little funny and "Annie" is a play on the word "auntie" as well as her name) at the time when the kids would be going down for their nap.  But they were troopers!  Maya ate a decent bit of lunch (and even managed to use her spoon and fork for a good amount!), although Bobby preferred to drink his (juice people! get your minds out of my Guinness!).  I brought the rest of their meal (scallops, rice, and steamed veggies) home for second lunch when they get up from their nap (which they are having right now).  There were a few mini-meltdowns and, over the hour, we didnt have a lot of chatting, but it was a good time to get together with a dear friend and to celebrate her birthday as well as Bobby and Maya's (they are all three sapphire babies!)  But, at the end of the lunch outting, we were all still alive, Mommy hadn't had a meltdown (although that Guinness probably helped!), and the kids made it home awake and ready for bed.  And we had a lovely first, since the kids have never lunched with Ann before!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 7

2 things are working against me today: the weather (it is wet!) and the fact that the kids visit their paternal grandparents on Wednesdays.  But, I still managed a first!

We had an indoor picnic for breakfast!

The kids were quite surprised when I pulled out a blanket and brought breakfast into the living room!  We sat and ate breakfast bars and apple slices and juice, snuggled a bit, and watched some Super Why!.  What a fun little extra this morning!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 6

Went to the library as free range babies today!

I'd taken the kids to the library I used to manage way back when... They were TINY and in their carriers, and then we went to a library fundraiser, but they've never been in the children's section and certainly not "free range" to run around!  Well, that changed today!  They behaved well (let's be honest... they were noisier than the librarian in me would have liked and they climbed on the kid furniture like every other toddler I've seen, but they were "good" in the general sense!).  It was nice to see some of the folks I knew and we even checked out 2 books!

Summer Photos

Okay, so I've been lazy, but I finally got my stuff together, had Peter add photos to my laptop, and have recently added them all to Facebook!

May 2011: some were already there, but I added the remainder of what we'd taken for the month.

June 2011: these include pictures from our anniversary trip. 

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011:  obviously, this file will be added to.  This has all the pics from our cooking adventure yesterday.  Their birthday will be its own file.

Whew!  That's a lot of pictures!  Honestly, I dont know how we'd ever share them with all our friends and family if it weren't for Facebook.  It's way too much work to even imagine emailing these- even the highlights!

Monday, September 5, 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 5

Today's big first... COOKING!

In the past, the kids have "helped" me by putting things on the table or back in the pantry, but I've never really gotten into letting them measure flour, stir, etc.  So, today's firsts were cooking lessons with Mama!

Maya made pancakes!  I showed her how to do every step, but she measured and poured flour and almond milk, stirred, dolloped batter onto the frying pan, flipped a pancake (with assistance of course!), plated, and ate!  And she was quite thrilled with herself!!!

Bobby made chocolate buttercream frosting and iced a chocolate fig cake I made for dinner last night!  He used the mixer, tasted to make sure it was okay!, slathered the icing on the cake, and then, of couse, checked the frosting again...  He really enjoyed eating the frosting more than frosting the cake, but who can blame him!  It is chocolate buttercream of course!

At the end of the day, the three "kids" took the top of the double boiler where I'd melted icelandic chocolate for the frosting and stole a moment on the kitchen floor.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Letting It Go

Our crib was the first gift we ever received.  Shortly after we found out we were pregnant and we were, like most new pregnant couples, scoping out furniture, we found some that we loved.  It was a beautiful honey color that matched our bedroom furniture.  We fell in love.  We knew that was THE furniture for us.  Peter's parents, shortly after we discovered Nicholas and Sophia were on their way, bought us the crib as a Christmas gift and our first baby gift. 

We completed the nursery with Alexander.  But the crib was the only piece that we had for all the kids.  We'd put it up when we were preparing for the adoption and it has been in our room since.  So, recently, as we were preparing to get the kids their big kid beds, we discussed selling the nursery furniture.  And, as surprised as I was, someone immediately responded and, as of today, we no longer have the means to have a nursery in the house.  The funds actually paid for the "big kid" furniture the kids have (and 2 smaller pieces to put their PJs and socks in, since we didnt really use the dressers to their full capacity anyway) which, really, is how it should be.  But it is strange, walking by Bobby and Maya's rooms and seeing no dressers... Looking in our room and seeing no crib...  I mean, I knew this day would come sometime, but, it's still a shock to my heart. 

And, as we count down the final six days to Bobby and Maya's 2nd birthday, we have removed the gates from their rooms as well, so they are truly free range babies.  That's a shock to me as well... Babies who are now securely toddlers... 

Time's flying and sometimes I feel like I'm barely holding onto the wing of the plane!

10 Days of Firsts: Day 4

Today, Sarah (AKA Aunt RaRa) and I took to the kids to Merrymead Farm, a local dairy farm that houses a few farm animals, stocks local produce, and, of course, uses their milk to make ice cream.  The kids got to walk around the animal areas and saw cows, calves, hogs, and a variety of other animals.  And what visit would be complete without milkshakes! 

So, while this wasn't their first milkshake (nor was it their first visit to the farm, as we get our pumpkins there), it was their first Merrymead milkshake and it was their first time there walking around (or should I say, running around!) and seeing the animals.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 3

Nope... No pics... At least from the actual event. :)

First for the day: walking, sans backback, with Daddy, to the school playground down the street.  I'm home right now, working on doula/CBE coursework because I'm having some belly issues and didnt want to get out of my PJs at the moment.  They, I'm sure, are having a ball playing with Daddy. :)  And I miss being a part of that...  But I like knowing they have special alone time with him too and, since he is going out to dinner with some guy friends tonight and wont be home for dinner/bath/bedtime, I'm glad he's having some special time with them now.

But, to leave you with pics of my nearly-2 year olds (a week to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), here's the peanut brigade watching Super Why a few days ago!

Big Kid Beds for My Little Big Kids (HHB)

Originally posted here

Bobby and Maya have been in "big kid" beds for a while. Well, in theory. They've slept on twin size beds since they were 7 months old. In the beginning, they had bolsters to keep them from rolling off the bed. We've practiced the Montossori method of bed sleeping for the longest, moving the matresses on the floor. This was great for a lot of reasons. We didnt really worry about the kids getting hurt if they fell off, but they also have been great helpers when it comes to changing their bedding.

For their second birthday (I still can't believe that is so quickly upon us), we decided to get them the Step 2 Lifestyle Bed that we found online. Maya's room is fairly small and we always knew we'd need a loft bed with built in storage for her. These beds are great. They are made of the hardcore plastic (like most Step 2 or Little Tykes toys) for easy cleaning and disinfecting. They are closer to the ground than the traditional top bunk bed and the bottom serves as storage (or a play fort!) Also, the bed portion is surrounded so little big kids (and their night-night toys!) can't roll off.

The pricetag, however, was cost prohibitive. Listing for $350 each, and the best online price for new ones being nearly $300 each, meant that we'd have to drop between $600-$700 for beds! We just couldnt do that. So, I started looking on Craigslist. Eventually, I found 2 (and only 1 day apart!) for $200! It's still a lot, but we are hoping to use these until the kids are 10-12 years old and will want more "grown up" furniture. They have a 250 pound weight limit, so if we need to for whatever reason, we can still cosleep on the rare ocassion.

"Aunt Sarah" and I picked up Maya's bed on Tuesday. It was a nice time for us to have a girl time too, since it was 90 miles away. When we got back, we put it together in a half hour (and that included 3 errors that we had to fix since we were working without directions). They thought it was the next best thing since the playground since they got to climb the stairs.
That night after her bath and PJs, she lunged for the bed. I tucked her in, gave her Bear and Sheep, and then flipped the light and left. Not a peep.

So, yesterday, Peter picked up Bobby's bed in the late morning and I brought his lunch to work and got the bed. I put it together- alone- in 20 minutes. Piece of cake!
Bobby saw it just before bedtime, which I wasnt thrilled about, but the kids were visiting their paternal grandparents and weren't home. Again, slept without a peep!

This morning, we played in the under storage area, although right now they seem to like opening/closing the doors but not really going under the bed.

During the day, their rooms are closed off (with gates). However, we are planning on (gulp) opening their rooms up to them to go into outside of naptime/bedtime and changing dipes/clothes times. Our big concerns are that they have sliding closet doors and could hurt each other accidentally. I've already removed their room doors (to avoid someone getting slammed by one) and Peter will be taking their closet doors off the hinges. Once that is done, we will be removing the gates. I'm both excited for them in this transition of growing, nervous because- OMG- they will have even MORE free range, and a bit sad because it's another sign of just how grown up they are getting. Two years old. The time has flown by. Less than 2 weeks til the big day.

For now, it's just my big little kids... in their big kid beds!

Friday, September 2, 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 2

No pictures of the kids (sorry).  Today's first?  Making it to the 2nd level of the 3 level playzone thingamajiggie at a large church a few towns over. 

Now given, I had to get up there first to show them how to climb the climbing slide and to help them over the little hurdle, but once up there, Maya trampled over me and went to where the older kids were and started showing them how to go through the obstacles!  Bobby, on the other hand, stayed close to Mama, giving hugs and snugs.  I appreciated that.  Of course, then there was the fun of getting down! My knees are NOT meant for that!!

We finished it off with fruit smoothies and then went to the grocery store.  A great afternoon as my little guys move closer and closer to their second birthday...  Where has the time gone?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

10 Days of Firsts: Day 1

I thought it would be neat, as we head into the kids' 2nd birthday, if I tried to do something with them for the first time from September 1st until their birthday on the 10th.  I had the idea after doing a few firsts, so September 1st was the day of more than one!

Our first first was that the kids and I walked- no strollers, just our legs- to the schoolyard playground, 4 blocks away.  It's not the first time they've walked, mind you, but it was the first time that it was just me and them, sans a stroller.  We held hands and walked down the sidewalk.  It was a fun time.  So fun, in fact, that we did it twice in one day! (although, the second time, we were with friends, so that wasnt technically a first).

The big first of the day was... Juice Boxes! 

While at Whole Foods to pick up some things for dinner, I noticed they had the 8 pack of 4oz organic apple juice on sale.  We usually pick up a vegan gingersnap cookie at the end of our trip and the kids split it, so I decided to get the juice pack as a special drink.  As you can see, they had them in the car, and they were the hit.  Maya was hysterical.  When she was done, she calls out "Mama!" and when I turned, she shook the empty box and make a slurping (like, this drink is finished sound) noise.  It was pretty darn hysterical.

We'll see if I'm able to figure out something special for every day until their birthday!

Back to Basics

Whenever I turn on the TV or leaf through a magazine, the phrase "Back to Basics" keeps jumping out at me. It's no surprise, since (up here) 'back to school' is upon us and everyone is talking about getting the basic pieces of a new school wardrobe, or the basic school supplies you need, blah blah blah.  Then, there are the politicians and teachers talking about a return to the basics of education: reading, writing, arithmatic, etc.  But, for me, "back to basics" has a different meaning.

I took the summer off from paying close attention to my food.  I stopped journaling, first because my laptop died back in May, and then because I decided to voluntarily unplug from the summer.  I thought it would be neat to see how I did if I wasnt weighing portions, making daily exercise a commitment, or paying attention to calories.  Overall, I'm really proud of myself.  My weight has been in the 10 pound window I unofficially set for myself (165-175), and my clothes fit well, which is a nice indicator of how I think I'm doing.  I'm squarely settled into size 8 pants (I still cant believe that... In fact I'm wearing the only pair of size 6s I own and, although I think this brand is GENEROUS with their sizing, it's quite the mental boost!) and size small or medium tops/dresses.  My boobs are still pretty happy in their 38D bras, although I'm considering getting remeasured since I'm having some gapping.  My running shorts (smalls) are actually loose (thanks to Sarah and Peter for pointing that out at a 5K we all did together) so I'm planning on treating myself before the Half (in 3 weeks!!!).  But, back to basics...  For me, that means getting back to paying attention.

And not just for the weight loss.  I would still like to see if 150 is feasible for me.  And I understand it may not be.  I was a teenage kid the last time I weighed that.  My body has gone through a lot and maybe 160 is the best weight for me.  And, if that's the case, then so be it, and I'm okay with that.  But, I'd like to try.  I've given myself a goal of New Year's Day 2012 for the 150, and I figure, we'll see.  It comes or it doesnt; no big deal.   But, the bigger deal for me, is that I still have those overeating tendencies and the emotional eating demons right under the surface.  They rear their ugly heads at different times, and I've seen it.  Eating when I'm not hungry because it's there and is good, or running to the kitchen because my feelings have been hurt or I'm angry.  These are things that I still struggle to keep under control. 

I know that addictions arent as easily broken as we'd all like to imagine.  I have friends who have sworn off drugs and/or booze, and every day is still a challenge.  They win the war and (for the most parts) the battles they fight, but it's not easy.  They are clean and sober, but the reasons they werent are demons they show down (usually) every day.  In our society, we treat overeating like it's different and in some cases it may be, but for others for whom that eating was truly a coping mechanism and an illness, it's a fight.  I'm okay knowing that some days, it will get the better of me.  But I have to own it and control it and the summer was good for showing me where I've succeeded and where I still need work.

So, it's back to basics.  For the kids walking to the local school next week and, today, for me.  I dont know if I will be as severe as I was in the beginning, with calorie counts for everything, but I'll still have my weekly weigh in, my weekly "here's where I am" post, and daily logs.  Feel free to follow along with me as I pick up part two of Less of Me...Is More!