Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rohan's First Haircut

My fabulous sister in law gave Rohan his first haircut tonight. She was also responsible for Luca's first haircut, and let me just say my kids are SO lucky they have a talented hair magician as an Aunt!

Rohan was less than impressed with the process, but it was fast and he looks so adorable now. However, I wish he didn't look SO grown up!!

Here's my 'Meemo', as Luca calls him, being tortured silly:

Before, with wild hair.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Religious Exploration: Do We Owe It To Our Children?

I jokingly call myself, and by proxy my husband, a heathen. That has to be put out there right across the top lest anyone read this thinking I know a thing or two about religion and what it means to be 'of faith'. I do not. be fair to myself I may know A Thing (or 2?) but I am woefully uneducated in the world of organized religion.

Before you "tsk, tsk" my parents for failing to bring my up with God, you should know this: I was raised Catholic. I was Baptised and then went through First Communion and beyond. So my tongue is boreing a hole in my cheek when I say I know nothing about religion. In reality I know quite a few things about quite a few religions. I am a curious observer and I really don't believe in the old adage of 'religion, sex, and politics' being off limits, as I find them all fascinating topics to discuss even if you and I completely, utterly disagree. I prefer, in fact, to talk to someone with whom I wholeheartedly disagree than to talk to someone who has no opinon at all. If you don't believe me about that, you can ask pretty much any kind, poor soul who has subjected themself to my wildly inappropriate oversharing ways.

But I don't 'Know' the Biblical sense, if you will. I don't get it. The draw. The appeal. The ritual and the power. And I say this while admitting I actually enjoyed church as a kid. I liked the stories and the morals and I loved Religious Education classes, what with their coloring books of Biblical scenes. There is something fascinating and macabre about coloring in Jesus on the crucifix with the communal crayons.

Mostly, though, I loved taking Communion. Something about putting that wafer on my tongue and feeling it dissolve made the whole Mass worthwhile. Not because of the deeper meaning, but because I enjoyed going up in line and having the sense of community and of us all doing this thing together. And I just kind of thought being allowed to 'eat' in church was cool. I was 8, maybe.

And the donuts after Mass didn't hurt the Catholic Cause in my mind either.

But what happened was this: we went to church, and then we didn't. My dad's family was (is) Catholic and my mom's was non-descript Christian. She tells me that as a child they went to church, but which church was less important than a core belief in Jesus As Savior and a service at a time when both my grandparents and all 3 kids were available simultaneously. So my mom and my dad compromised, and decided we would attend Catholic church (she being of the 'Catholics are Christian' line of thought) but they would not enforce church as a requirement once we were of an age where we could decide for ourselves if we wanted to go.

Of the 4 kids in my family, not a one of us stayed active in the church. In any church, really.

This is how naive I am about religion: I didn't know about the whole 'some Christians do not consider Catholics to be Christian' until a few years ago.

This is another way in which I am naive about religion: When I met my husband, he told me his family grew up Lutheran. They are of German descent after all, and didn't I know that Germans are often Lutheran? And when I didn't know that it was ok because I was Catholic. And Catholics and Lutherans kind of tend to sometimes not like each other, but I knew that, right? Surely I knew that?

I did not, in fact, know that.

So, anyhow. We met, we dated. We discussed religion here and there and my husband sort of waffled. From somewhere in his inner being, he longed for some sort of religious epiphany. He sought it in small ways: asking me to attend a Christmas Eve Lutheran service with him (I did and it was so beautiful words could not capture the way it made me feel), discussing religion with our friends of different faiths, even letting the sweet old ladies from the Jehovah's Witness church talk us into visiting them one Sunday. But nothing ever spoke to him, I guess, because over time he not only turned away from the search, he turned away from religion pretty much without second thought. I remember being pregnant with Luca and on a road trip with my boss and co-worker. This was before we knew Luca was a girl and before we had a name, so we three discussed potential names with my boss and co-worker throwing out suggestions here and there. Names like Ruth and Jacob and Lucas and Mary came up, and I had to explain to them that nothing at all Biblical or religious would be considered because my husband was so adamantly against organized religion at that point that the mere suggestion of a 'Biblical' name made him cringe.

So sometimes, when people hear my kids' names and they think we were trying very hard to be insufferably clever, I think what they don't know is the sheer volume of names automatically X'd off the list for their religious undertones. You hear that people? It's not my insufferable tendency to be obnoxiously 'different' so much as the fact that a Grace (while also really a popular name) would make him think of the Hail Mary.

Well, and also, we didn't want our kids to be "Popular-Girl Name K." in class from here to eternity because we chose a trendy name. Take it from a Katie who was Kathryn, K.D., Katie, Kate, K.D.D., and Katie D. through my school years.

Once we found out Luca was a girl, my mother in law came over with some 'antique store finds' for her, one of which was a gauzey white gown. In her words, "Something for her to wear when she gets baptised. You know, if you choose to do that. You're doing that, right?" And so I referred her to my husband to field that question, and he promptly gave a "Hell no" in response. Which, you know, maybe not the best choice of words ever, given the context. But that's my husband, and I love him even without a filter on his thoughts.

So now here we are with two kids (with non-Biblical names, thank-you-very-much) and suddenly I found myself in the midst of a conversation I was not at all expecting to have. Ever. It centered around my husband, and his questioning me about whether or not we might want to consider going to church. Every. Sunday.

:::looks around to see if anyone else is as confused as I am:::

So this is where we stand right now: facing a dilemma we never expected to face.

On one hand, the idea of belonging to a church is wholly counterintuitive. I mean neither of us is sure if we believe in God, Jesus as a Savior, the Bible, or any of the other 'standards' of most religions. We didn't baptise our kids not only because we don't go to church, but also because I don't believe in the concept that my children are born in sin and need to be protected or, alternately, the need to make our children be part of a faith before they are able to decide if it's right for them. I just didn't see the need to go to church, and I also didn't think it was the right thing to do if it wasn't what we believed.

But the question has come back to us several times. Do we owe it to our children to explore religions and see if maybe somewhere out there exists a faith that speaks to us and which we are comfortable exposing our children to? And if there is, what would it look like? Maybe this:

It would accept everyone.
It would not involve mandates for praying or declaring our faith in a being or person of savior or entity in order to be saved or protected or let into heaven.
It would not include any doctorines nor any beliefs based on hatred or bigotry.
It wouldn't necessitate believing in the Bible as truth, though it could necessitate reading the stories of the Bible and taking them as just that (stories) but focusing on their messages and morals*.
It would expose our children to people like them and to people totally unlike them.
It would not make our children feel guilty, scared, trapped, or judged.

*I feel it should be noted clearly here, and without any shadow of a doubt left: I believe very strongly in many of the lessons and teachings of the Bible and of various religions. I love the focus many have on serving others, on selflessness, on kindness and giving back and caring for everyone, and on living one's life in an honest and respectful way which strive to do no harm unto others. These are the principles, in fact, that I try to lead my own life by. What I do NOT love is how these things are often skewed and adapted to fit the notions of some people in order to make themselves 'right' and others 'wrong' or to have a mandate for judging or harming others.

So we've been giving this some thought and I would be a liar if I said we're even close to figuring out what the answer is for our family. There are two particular 'faiths' that we're looking into right now, and we are definitely starting on the fringe of what some would consider religion. But I would say we're working our way from the outside in toward the mainstream and seeing what feels right and is a good fit. And we plan to stop in for a service for at least two of them in the next few weeks.

I'm not completely sold yet, though. I've always strongly believed that religion isn't what everyone needs in order to live the right life. Some people, I believe, benefit from the direction and guidance they get from religion. But I also pretty much can't relate to that at all. I think the measure of a person is in their actions and the way they lead their life in the moments that really matter whether those are the moments when no one is looking of the moments when the most important people (their spouse, friends, family and children) are looking. I've never wanted to be part of something that tells me I have to do X, Y, and Z to prove I am A Believer and thus get into heaven. And I'll be honest and admit I have no desire to raise my kids with that set of beliefs either. In my mind, if there is a God or some ultimate judge in the universe, that entity should judge based on the kind of person I am and the life I lead and not on how many hours I log in a pew or in prayer.

And then the other side is this: In our quest to not lock our kids into a religion and not try to force our own ideologies on them, are we doing that very thing? Do we not guide and lead and direct and hope to impart in them some set of morals and standards by which we would like them to live their lives in childhood and beyond simply by our everyday interactions with them? Isn't telling them to say please and thank you and respect their elders and give their old toys to kids with no toys just another way of imparing upon them our own 'dogma', be that a religious dogma or otherwise? By NOT taking them to churches where confessions are required or prayers must be memorized are we doing the same thing we're accusing organized religion of attempting to do? How can we be sure we're raising children who know enough about the world and their choices to decide on their own what they believe and how they will share those beliefs with others? Is not being religious its own religion?

Mud Puppy

My sweet, sweet boy has found the joy in dirt. We were playing outside last night as the sun was, in Luca's words, "Reading a book and getting ready to go night-night." when Rohan found a mud puddle and went to town. I let him go, mostly because he was having such a blast I couldn't imagine tearing him away.

And so when I finally decided it was time for Rohan and the Mud Puddle to say goodnight, this is how he looked. I wish these had turned out less yellow, but I didn't have time to mess with camera settings because I had to get these before he made a mess out of the whole kitchen.

Monday, April 19, 2010

12 Over, 10 Off.

My BL challenge with friends is over, and I finished it off by hitting my 10 lb. mark.


Yes and no.

I am happy those pounds are gone, and happy to see smaller numbers when I step on the scale. I'm thrilled that I not only dropped the weight I had put back on last week, but also lost another pound + this week.

But on the other hand, I'm disappointed that's all the loss I've seen. I'm frustrated that the weeks I've followed WW to a fault I've not lost more than I have during my less-stellar weeks. I'm annoyed that my body looks to same as it did 10 pounds ago. I let myself down by not pushing harder.

And then at the same time, I know it's far from over. I know I will reach my goals...every last one of them little loss by little loss. Because I'm doing it for myself. For my hubby. For my kids.

I will hit my first goal very soon (this week?) and when I do I'll check it proudly off my list and move on to the next. I know it's going to take a long time, and I've accepted that. I've worked hard to make the changes from the past 12 weeks into a lifestyle, not a routine aimed at quick weight loss. While I'll admit to being tempted several times to cut out carbs, go on a cleanse, drink only Slim Fast Shakes, or use some other absurdly unsustainable method of weight loss, I have not caved. And I won't. Instead I will suffer the slow loss, bitch and moan until my readers stop checking my blog on Mondays (::wink::), try to replace self-loathe with self-confidence, and carry on.
I'm so close to my first goal I can almost taste it! My plan to get there is simple: I've dropped 2 points off my WW target since starting, so that alone should help. I'm going to track my points daily, keep on getting in that active time (in the past week we did the zoo, walks with the kids, and yoga....and I think those 2+ pounds I chased away are proof that activity will kick things up for me some), and take time for myself. When I'm well rested, happy, and keeping my mind in a positive place, I do much better!
I'm going to try posting a weekly goal list for myself, just so I can check back on it next week and see how I've done. So for this week, I aim to:

~ Get outside and get active at least 3 evenings
~ Do yoga at least twice
~ Drink all my water every day (an area I've been slacking in, which I KNOW makes a huge difference)
~ Track my food every day and aim for my target points without dipping into the flex points
~ Work off any flex points I DO end up eating by walking the stairs in my house and doing stretching and strength exercise
My weight loss goal for this week is 2 pounds. I really truly believe I can do it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hey Masto? Kindly Fuck Off.

Masto has been sort of a non-issue in our house for a few months now, which I credit largely to cool weather and careful food choices for Rohan.

But nothing is perfect and the extra challenge with a disease that is there from birth is that it manifests itself in ways we can't always detect. And may I be honest and just admit right here and now that this pisses me off?? Because not only is it not really fair to him to have been born with this fate, but it's also not fair to him to suffer and not be able to tell us why and how.

So after a few months with no need to medicate Rohan, I was starting to feel like maybe I had overblown the whole damn thing. I do this: I freak a bit about something (or a lot, in this case) and then in retrospect I laugh and duck my head in embarassment because I can see (hindsight is amazing, no?) that perhaps my knee jerk reaction aimed too high. I started to think that maybe all those worries and stresses and sorrows I felt for the adjustments we'd have to make in his life were really just me being in Mommy Mode and overthinking things. Most of the worries involved the little things, because the little things become the big things in labors of love. As a mom I worry what will happen if he ever needs surgery given he may not tolerate anesthetics well or even at all. But I also worry how we will answer the questions about "What happened to his arm?" and whether he will have trouble playing sports and even if he will ever be able to enjoy a carton of fresh, plump blueberries in the middle of a summer afternoon.

But, like I said, he was doing really well. It has not been uncommon in the months since he was diagnosed at 5 weeks for us to need to medicate him at least once or twice a month. But this weekend brought us a perfect storm of happenings in his little body, primarily a fever and 4 molars working their way through the gums. And with all that not feeling good happening, I really didn't overthink it when I picked him up early from daycare yesterday only to battle his mood the entire evening while he fought his midday nap, his late day nap, and his bedtime. Finally we gave him some Tylenol for the lingering raised body temperature (it was barely elevated at this point) and the teething, and my husband was able to get him to sleep.

Fast forward to this evening, when he fit and fussed and cried and argued with my every attempt to get him to go to bed. If I could read his mind, I'm sure his thoughts would have read:

Pick me up! NO NO NO...Put me down!!! I need water! Get that sippy cup away from me right now! I am Highly Offended! I need a hug. HUG ME! Pick me UP! I'm so tired. Soooooo tired. Hold me. Don't hold me like that!! NO! Not like that!!! Ok, yes, like that. Where is my BOP?!?!?!That's better. Now put me down. No, down. On the FLOOR! Not in my crib. I said NOT IN MY CRIB! Yes, in your arms. No, I am not going to sleep. Take me downstairs. Now hold and rock me. NO no NOT sit while you hold me. Stand. I said Stand!!! Why are you setting me down?!?!? I love you. Go away.

After half a dose of Tylenol didn't seem to take the teething edge off, I erecognized the telltale signs that maybe it wasn't his teeth bothering him. He was hot and sweaty. He seemed uncomfortable. He was clenching his fists and curling into his belly and manically kicking his legs.

But you know what he was not doing? He was not talking, and telling me how he felt. And damn if I don't always doubt my Mama instincts. So I tried to rock and cuddle and coo and love...all to no avail. And finally I looked into his extremely red and tired eyes and saw that this was not working.

0.10 mL of Doxepin, a few verses of his Mama singing 'Piano Man', and some butt pats, and he was sound asleep.

So I guess we're not free of the Masto grasp just yet. It makes me sad knowing this summer we're probably in for a battle like we didn't have to face last summer, since he's going to want to be outside playing more and heat is a top trigger. But I know we'll make it through. Now I just wish he could learn how to tell me what he's feeling. The guessing game sucks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

One Week Left.

My BL Challenge with friends ends next week, and I'm only coming up with one word that describes how I am feeling today: discouraged.

First, my husband was out of town Friday and part of Saturday, thus throwing my whole weekend off mentally. That meant that Sunday morning when I woke, rather than jumping on the scale to WI, I ate breakfast. Oops. And then by the time I realized it WAS Sunday and I WAS due to WI, I had downed lunch too. Not bad...not unhealthy...just food, which = weight on the scale.

I weighed in anyhow, because you can't just skip a week you know. And therein lies frustration #2: I cheated on my promise to myself that I would not WI in the middle of the week 'just to see how it's going'. Doing that leads to either getting super excited about the loss I see so far and deciding a little (BIG) Starbucks won't sabotage me THAT much -OR- being really let down by a lack of progress and mentally giving the week up as a failure. But I did it...and I was down. WAY down. And so perhaps I splurged a tiny bit on Friday (Starbucks coffee in the a.m., Mexican food for lunch, Starbucks tea in the p.m., cookies for dessert). But I had the extra points for it so I *should* have been ok.

I was not ok.

Because here's what I discovered about scales: they can be fancy and they can be new and they can measure your weight AND your body fat...but on saltillo tile they just might suck at giving you consistent readings.

So that 'Oh my gosh I am DOWN THREE POUNDS!' turned into 'Um, what the hell?!?! UP a pound?? How did THAT happen???' in a matter of 2 days. And while cloaked in denial, I decided to test a theory, and began to move the scale to different spots in the bathroom. And each spot? A different reading.

Conclusions for this week:
1. Starbucks is not the devil when you order a skinny vanilla latte and keep it to ONE drink per week.
2. My scale needs a new home. We'll try the flat cement floors in the garage first, the dumpster second.
3. With 1 week left in this challenge, I'm not going to win....but I HAVE lost. And DAMMIT I WILL try to hold firmly to the success of that even when it's not as great a success as I'd hoped for!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Things That Have Not Happened In A Long Time.

I stepped on the scale on Sunday and realized that I weigh less now than I have in over 15 months. I'm still just shy of my 10 pound marker, but it's so close I can almost taste it (and it tastes like Bagel Thins, low-fat cream cheese, fresh fruits and veggies, and lots and lots of water).

Easter threatened to derail me this week, with its marshmallows glittering with pink sugar crystals and its jelly beans (but they're fat free!) and M&Ms in rose petal pink and sunny yellow. And despite the fact a 2 year old and a 1 year old don't need ANY candy, they received LOTS OF candy from the Easter Bunny who visited both sets of Grandparents. And in my past life (you know, the one I lived in until a few months ago) I would have packaged all that candy into a Ziploc bag and squirrled it away into the top drawer of my desk and mindlessly plowed my way through it in a matter of a few days.

Instead, I jarred it. I am not kidding....I put the candy into Mason jars (3 large ones, btw, which HELLO! We do NOT need that much candy!). One jar is in my office for visitors. One jar is going to work with my husband. And one jar is in our home, but I can handle it. It's weird: pretty candy in a jar I leave alone, and it takes me weeks if not months to finish it. Proof can be found in the fact that I had to empty one of the jars of last year's leftover Easter candies before I could fill it with this year's. Pretty candy in a Ziploc baggies? Eaten, and fast.

Here's the other thing about keeping candy in a jar: it's VERY hard to pretend you're eating less than you are, because you can clearly see how much the level sinks each day. And with it sitting smack on the corner of my desk in plain view of co-workers and anyone else who stops into my office, I would be embarassed if that level dropped too rapidly. It's like self-control via humiliation. And since I otherwise lack self control, the humiliation factor is vital for me.

But on the flip side of that, I am also motivated by positives. And while I patiently(ish) wait for my jeans to feel looser, I had something else happen this weekend which has not happened in so long, I sadly cannot remember the last time it did.

I got hit on. By a stranger. At a bar.

::pumps fist::

Now, we are going to brush over the details (including the fact he wasn't exactly the hottest dude in the place), and focus on this: I got hit on. By a stranger. At a bar packed with skinnies and cleavage-bearers and high heels. And not only did he come by once and attempt to talk me out of waiting in line to get in (apparently said bar was hosting a casting call for Big Brother, so they were at maximum capacity and only letting people in when other people left) once, but he came back for a second run. I had to point to my ring and tell him, "I'm flattered, but I'm also married." which...let's be honest married girls...was just about the biggest boost a married mom of two still carrying the baby weight could get.

And it reminded me: I am not the sum of the numbers on that scale. I'm a whole lot of other things, most of them pretty fucking fantastic, and though my road may be long, there's still a lot to enjoy along the way.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Girl.

* Tells me that when she grows up, she wants to have four babies: Rainbow Chocolate Girl, Shoopy, Famataka, and Tamataka. And they will grow in her belly and she will get BIG boobs.

* Says, "Why?" an estimated 84.7 times per hour.

* Has a pink monster name B-O-A Calforn, who has 4 green arms, purple and pink hair, and 2 feet. She's a nice monster, which is good because there's a rule that only 1 monster can live in each house, and if we hadn't gotten Calforn, we could have ended up with a mean red monster. She lives in a neon pink bowl with a silver lid.

* Likes to sleep next to her Mommy and Daddy.

* Gives 'sugar kisses'.

* Doesn't cooperate with pictures unless properly bribed.

* Hates brushing her teeth. We have to trade off: as long as she's brushing her teeth, I keep reading bedtime books. She stops brushing, I stop reading. For now, it works.

* Used the Silly Putty the Easter Bunny brought her to give us both 'Silly Putticures' today.

* Makes the sun shine brighter in our lives and reminds us there is always time for a cuddle.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First He Ate Them, Then He Sprouted Them.

I don't talk about my husband much here, mostly because I feel like he is owed his privacy. But there are a few reasons I am breaking the silence today and telling this story about him, and they all boil down to one general theme: He Is Awesome.

So last night I got home from work to find two kids sitting in the grass of our front lawn, watching their Daddy try to fly a kite (Awesome Moment #1). Luca was anxiously reminding him not to run into the street because the cars! will hit you! and then you won't be able to stand! or walk!. Ahhh, my little President of the Safety Committee. Rohan was pulling grass blades out, shoving them by fistfuls into his mouth, then letting them fall out as they stuck to his chin, his sweet baby drool acting as glue.

We came inside and quickly decided to run to the bank to deposit his paycheck and maybe grab a bite to eat. On our way to the bank, we passed a Native New Yorker which was holding a wing eating contest. If you know my husband, you know it wasn't even a question whether or not we would go in and have him enter.

Two hours later, he was standing at the front of the room in a line of men all ready to shove some wings down their gullets. In most situations in life, my husband is the biggest guy in the room. At 6'5" and 270-ish pounds, it's not uncommon to be able to spot his head above the crowd but this time he was neither the tallest nor the toughest looking guy in the bar.

Did I say bar? Yeah, I did. And did I also mention we had the kids with us since this was an impromptu wing-devouring excursion? And did I then mention that a random middle-aged-but-wearing-a-Hurley-shirt-in-an-attempt-(failed)-to-look-youthful woman walked past us at one point and muttered "Kids in a bar!" under her breath but not under enough so as to go undetected by yours truly? And did I then tell you about how I straightened my Mother of the Year sash then went out to get my Bjorn out of the car so I could strap Rohan to my chest? Yeah...that happened.

But I digress. So there he is, standing at the table with a platter holding 3 pounds of wings in front of him. The rules here are simple: eat the wings. When you need another pound, they bring you one. You can dip them...or not. You can drink water...or not. You can even have a free beer to wash them down...or not. But you have 11 minutes to stuff those suckers down and eat as much weight as possible, without puking or spitting them out for at least 10 minutes after your round ends. I found a spot up front where the cougars could fuss over Rohan's flirty smiles and a good looking guy and his good looking wife could fawn over Luca, and we prepared to cheer. And cheer we did, with Luca getting her fair share of "Awww!"s and "OHMYGOSHHOWCUTE!"s as she yelled out, "GO DADA!" over the hum of a Slayer song and drunken wing eaters. And while we cheered he dipped his wings in ranch (it should be noted he was the only one dipping) and ripped the meat off the bone and his pile of 'done' wings grew bigger and bigger and he requested another pound and the guy to his far left almost choked in shock.

And when all was said and done, he ate 73 wings (Awesome Moment #2). And when they were reading off the results from 16th place up and they got down to him and one other guy, and announced he had won, we cheered and Luca tore up to the front of the room and grabbed his leg, and he lifted her up and kissed her (Awesome Moment #3). And hot damn if I didn't feel proud of him in that moment...for eating an obscene 2+ pounds of questionable chicken doused in hot sauce in 11 short minutes.

After getting his prize (2 really amazing tickets to the Diamondbacks opening game and a trophy of sorts), the emcee threw another challenge his way.

"Darrick," he said."You are the ONLY contestant to use time and fill yourself up more by dipping your wings in ranch and you STILL won. If you chug that tray of ranch dressings (probably six 1 oz servings) you can have a pitcher of beer on me!"

And he looked at me, and at Rohan in my arms, rubbing his eyes with little balled fists and trying his hardest to be a trooper. And he looked down at Luca, clinging with sleepy eyes to his arm. And he said, "Nah, man...I need to go home and tuck in my babies(Awesome Moment #4)."

I caught the eye of Madam Hurley on my way out and smiled. Cuz, yeah...I had kids in a bar. But I'm not too worried about what they were exposed to that night because I know that what they will remember is their Daddy who won the prize then took them home to kiss Rohan to sleep and recite nursery rhymes to Luca from memory.

Awesome Moment #5.


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