Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We went camping

And it went pretty well.

Cause it could have been a disaster. And I'm so thrilled that it wasn't.

I love camping, which is kinda weird because I hate bugs and heat and humidity and sun and more bugs. And although I'm a seasoned Girl Scout (Gold Award recipient here), we didn't camp much outside of  summer camp in my troop. So I've never really had a true tent camping experience where I was responsible for everything (supplies, meals, entertainment, etc.), but I really wanted to try.

For our first camping trip as a family I made the decision to go somewhere close to home (in case it was a disaster and we needed to cut our losses and come home). We selected one of the state parks close to home. Unfortunately I failed to consider the impact a motocross track in this park would have on our experience. Dirt bikes and ATVs everywhere. Constant noisy engines. Lesson learned, we won't be going back there again. But other than the noisy neighbors, it was a good weekend, hot, but not too awful and there wasn't any rain.

I was most worried about cooking since I haven't cooked on a fire for years and I don't recall being that good at it back then either. Plus, I don't eat meat and my husband and child do, so that always makes meals a little harder to begin with... something I'm used too, but still a challenge. I downloaded an e-book called The Family Camping Handbook from Kitchen Stewardship. It was a good book and had some very helpful tips and ideas. I'd say it helped me feel more prepared and less anxious. It was a rocky start, but most of our meals turned out ok.

The Family Camping Handbook recommended posting your meal plans at the campsite, so I stuck mine to the cooler, which would have been ok, but the packing tape didn't stick it promptly fell off as soon as we got to the campsite. We'll do better next time.

Skillz. I haz them. 

We spent 2 nights in motocross hell, arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday morning. There was a youth fishing activity setup on Saturday morning to celebrate national Kids to Parks Day (yeah, that's a day apparently). Michael actually caught the first fish of the day (which was also the biggest fish), so he won some prizes. This was his first fishing trip, so I'm really glad it was such a positive experience.

So cute! Michael looks like he actually knows what he's doing.

Catching a fish was very exciting for everyone. 11.5 inches, that's my boy!

Sup. Just chilling with my prizes and this sweet Participant ribbon. Yeah, I rock these Crocs.

There were some tense times, but mostly, I was really thrilled with how well everything went. We brought a little shovel so that Michael could dig little holes to keep himself occupied. I also learned that my kid LOVES bugs. Rollie-pollies are his favorites, but worms are a close second. He entertained himself for hours looking for bugs. There was also a playground close by, so that was another favorite activity. We also brought sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and books and some rainy day stuff (just in case).

Heritage Iron, excellent reading material for tractor obsessed 3 year olds (and 33 year olds). 

Yup, that's a bug, please keep it over there, away from me.

Camping makes me feel good. Being outside makes me feel good. Having less clutter around helps my mental state. I was less frustrated with Michael... partially because he was being so cool and keeping himself entertained but also because parenting was more equally split between my husband and I (my husband tends to plop down with the computer when he gets home from work and this creates tension in our house, so a computer-free weekend was just what the dr. ordered).

We also learned some things about camping together and we can use that for our next excursion. Here are some of the lessons learned from the weekend:

-Make sure there isn't a motocross track at the campground.

-Level the camp stove before cooking on it! Tin foil shims work well.

-Be picky about firewood. The park sold us fairly green wood that was nearly impossible to burn.

-Smaller meals, more snacks.

-Keep and empty bottle on site for Michael to pee in if needed.

-Lots of drinks to keep Michael going since dehydration happens easily and kids don't know to tell you they are starting to feel dehydrated.

-Tent fan! Bring an extra tarp to make your own shade too.

-Keep the schedule light. Think "island time".

We plan on camping some more this summer. Camping might not always be this pleasant. Trips with rain, heat, and forgotten supplies are going to happen, but I think the overall experience that camping can bring is worth the risk. Camping also provides a cheap vacation, and here in the Ozarks, we are rich in outdoor wonders so it's especially easy to take advantage of that. My family never camped and I've always wanted to camp at several of our national parks and this is helping to get us there. But most importantly, I really want to impart a love of nature on Michael. Aside from raising a generally good kid, raising a kid that loves and cares about his environment is my personal goal as a mother. I'm going to need some more sun screen and bug spray.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blogging is hard

Radio silence has become the norm around here.

It takes me a surprisingly long time to write even short posts. I'll sit down to write and think I can  get something out in 20 minutes and an hour later I'm still at it. And I have a general policy that I have to wait 24 hours before I actually publish anything I write... so I finish a post then come back a day later and decide not to post for some reason. I have a lot of unpublished posts. I'm not following that rule today.

But mostly I don't write much because things are pretty good. Michael is such a big kid now. He fully lives up to the 3 year old stereotype of being very difficult at times (we didn't really have the "terrible twos" here but 3 has been pretty rough). I would pay him to just be quiet sometimes.

My house is a mess. I try to tackle parts of it when I get a burst of motivation. I'm losing the battle. Company is the only real motivator I have to clean and the in-laws are coming soon, so maybe this place will finally look decent by the time they get here.

I'm really trying to exercise hard and kick off some of this fat. Only 3 years and some odd months later, I'm finally back to my pre-pregnancy weight... which is still obese. It's a work in progress.

We don't spend much time at home these days (at least not when we're awake). We're at the gym or school or shopping or drs appointments mostly. I've been trying to get Michael out for little days trips with me to zoos and parks. We had to wait to leave for a later drs. appointment one day and I seriously didn't know what to do with Michael for 1.5 hours. So I made him a super hero cape (he enjoyed the finished product, but I wouldn't consider sewing to be interacting with him). I'm planning on swimming lessons again soon and maybe a kinder-music type class too. We're going to try soccer this fall, but signup is in early July so it's on my summer to-do list.

Super Michael

The worst problem I have a the current time is that my anxiety is getting to be a problem again. I'm clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth at night and I can't get myself to cut it out. We've had a lot of medical appointments lately which is probably causing a lot of it. Michael ear tubes need to come out (this will not be fun for anyone since Michael is super scared of drs and this will only make it worse), I've had moles cut off recently and still need more to be cut off, I need to schedule some appointments for my husband (because he is incapable apparently), and then there's my wrist which has given me several headaches trying to figure out what to do next. I try not to schedule more than one appointment a week, alternating between us. It seems a bit ridiculous, since we are all relatively healthy, to be spending so much time at drs offices. (Oh, and I could get a mouth guard to help with the teeth grinding, I just need to make an appointment with the dentist and pay $120 for one... OTC mouth guards don't work for me.)

So that's life lately. I'm planning on taking Michael back here tomorrow. We're planning on learning to camp as a family this summer, so I'm really excited about that coming up. Just ticking along here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Please Watch This TED Talk

I love TED. You see some experts speak in really fascinating topics. And though I've seen plenty of inspiring TED talks, I happened to see one the other day that was beyond remarkable. I would feel guilty if I didn't do what I can to share it and encourage others to watch.

This is about 23 minutes and you will not be sorry. It made me sad but it gave me a dose of hope like I haven't had in years, but more need to see this and hear his ideas. This truly is an idea worth spreading.


View on TED site here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inner Conflict

The last 3 years have been a real trip. In some ways I've been to hell and back again, cause in case you haven't been keeping up, mothering through depression, anxiety, and job loss hasn't been that easy at times. And it's those troublesome times that have helped me to stave off any desire to procreate. Baby? What are you crazy?

But then, one day, more than 3 years after having Michael, it totally hit me. I want to have another baby. Not because it's part of some plan that makes sense on paper or external forces are pressuring me, or my biological clock is ticking louder. I finally feel the genuine warmth and desire towards having another little one and all the hope and optimism that comes with.  I've had inklings before, but my depression and external forces had squelched those thoughts.

My husband and I planned to start TTCing again about now, but then I was trying to loose more weight before getting pregnant again. Now I totally want to give up on that, because it is not really happening. And Michael is asking more and more for a sibling, which is creating guilt. And the lady that watches Michael in the nursery has the cutest, chubbiest little boy that totally makes my ovaries bubble. But this desire is totally my own, coming from a place deep within.

BUT, my freakin wrist hurts, still. I'm convinced that I need this stupid plate out of my arm ASAP... which is July. And then when I do get it out, I don't imagine that will feel too great either. And if I get pregnant and have to put off getting it out, it's likely that I'll be putting it off for a LONG time, because who wants to have a (somewhat elective) surgery with a newborn to take care of?

In the great perspective of things, putting off trying for #2 for a few months isn't that big of a deal, but I completely lack the ability to think about pregnancy rationally.

So, I'm going to remain strong... but a prophylactic failure would not be unwelcome right now.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What to do when it snows

Make a spring purse.

Pink and Canvas Cross-body

Really, I liked the purse I was carrying around, but I'm in a springy mood and the gray/mustard color combo isn't matching my mood anymore.

I should really take pictures of the stuff I make before I wear it out. I liked the styling and spent a lot of time designing this bag--a little ruching on the sides and a bow near the top, lots of pockets, including a big one in the back to fit our tablet.

I finally found an excuse to buy this odd mustard-ish print that I had been eyeing forever, but now I'm over it. This is too fall/winter.

So I made a new purse the other day while I was trapped in as it snowed. It was a simple purse (pattern and tutorial here). The challenge was more with myself because I decided that I would give up spending money on myself for lent.

Perhaps that shouldn't seem like a big deal, and it isn't really, but it is something I have to be conscience about. I need to buy a snack for Michael while we are out. Do I need one too? No. Need new clothes? No you don't. See a Groupon that's just too good to resist? Resist. Super sale at my favorite store? I'll live without. Out of my shampoo/conditioner/face wash/makeup? Go through your stash, you goo hoarder! That rug would look great in my living room! It also looks great on the shelf at the store.

Obviously, there are still things that I'm spending on myself for... my regular food, gym memberships, medicine, copays, that kind of thing. But the point is that I tend to view things as necessities that aren't and I tend to buy things for myself under the guise of being "for the house". And there are always Sundays, if I truly do need something. I could have gone on a food diet for lent, but I would have failed at that for sure... I actually have a chance to succeed here.

So I made myself a little purse to brighten things up. Perhaps if I hadn't made this lenten pledge, I would have bought a pattern. And different fabric. And the perfect color of pink thread for the top stitching.  And a couple of more buttons so it would look like the example bag. But no. Make due with what you have (and I really do have quite a lot). This bag doesn't meet my normal desire for perfection, but I pretty sure no one knows that and no one is comparing it to that but me.

I would have liked to have more buttons/different buttons. Oh well. And that petal pink top stitching is barely visible.

A lot smaller than my last bag, but still sufficient for running about. Perhaps I can learn to carry less crap around too.

I guess that I'm trying to learn that I can make myself happy, without being perfect.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Big Boy Bed

There are all sorts of milestones to celebrate as your child grows and one of the bigger ones that was on my radar was the transition to a big boy bed cause furniture shopping and room rearranging are my crack. I've been looking forward to this for about a year and a half.

I knew I wanted one thing for Michael: BUNK BEDS. People think I'm crazy for putting my three year old in bunk beds, but me and my brother shared a room and slept in bunk beds when I was that age and we survived. My husband didn't understand at all, but he's a great enabler, so he went along with it.

I spent a long time shopping for beds online, checking craigslist, checking furniture stores in person. I'm very picky about bunk beds. A lot of beds are so short... so short that Michael, at 2, wasn't able to sit up in them without bumping his head. You think I want to change the sheets and make that bed? Def not. So I was searching for "tall" bunk beds and I found a few options, but I wasn't that excited about them or their prices.

So I looked for plans online to build them ourselves. A big problem with most bed plans is that they don't come apart (easily) and you have to either build them in the bedroom or at least do heavy assembly in room (or they are the bed on top of a bed type and those are usually short). Not for us. So I was pretty thrilled with this set on Ana White. This design is great because it comes apart in four sides that simply bolt together. And it was easy to modify the dimensions for our needs. We made it a little TALLER. Yay! We made the space under the bed a little taller too for Michael to park his fleet of trucks and tractors under it. And we made the head room the same for both beds (the distance from bottom bunk to top is the same as top bunk to ceiling). We also added a rung to the ladder to make it a little easier to climb.

It only took about a day to make and was pretty easy. It took about a week to sand and poly. Michael was involved in the making and got to see it come together which I think is an important lesson, even if it doesn't really make sense yet. And I'm SO GLAD that we didn't try to make something in his room, because it was a total mess. And then with the poly, the fumes were pretty dangerous. We got it finished in time to move it into his bedroom on his birthday. He was really looking forward to it and was very excited.

On top of making the bed, I made the bedspreads. I was going to just buy something, but then I got this idea to upcycle a giant pile of old jeans and make a jean quilt. I started to hate myself about half way through, because making one bedspread is a whoopin', making two is crazy (and I was splitting my time between finishing the beds, making the quilts, and cleaning 3 year old puke). But I felt it was a worthwhile project. Michael now has two handmade blankets, made from his parents' jeans. Jeans we wore while making his life. If you look closely, you can even find some paint splatters on a pair of jeans ruined while painting Michael's room. And because I decided that the "worthwhile-ness" of this project was in the sentimental value I decided to do a little embroidery at the foot of the blankets so it's there, but it tucks in, cause these are for a boy after all.

Ok, so the pictures.

Michael was so cute, he wanted a book and a stuffed animal up top to chill with. He's allowed up top, but he sleeps on the bottom (for now).

Plenty of clearance for his toys... unfortunately I didn't realize how large his collection had become and it's stuffed under there.

The embroidery, "made with love 2013".

Another view where you can see the quilt a little better. It's a strip quilt, very easy to make. FYI: Denim quilts are super heavy. Each quilt is made from ~9 pairs of jeans. I used flannel as a thin, lighter batting and the backing is red homespun plaid. I made it a little more narrow than a regular twin spread so it tucks in more easily. I also made a sham and still have a few more on the project list.

And we had to move his shelf to the other side of the room. This shelf is still the handiest thing.

And like I mentioned earlier, we had to move the chair out of his room but now we cuddle in his bed for story time and now that Michael is so big, I think that actually works better than the chair.

So far the beds have been a great change and Michael has done great with them. Climbing up to the top is also great "heavy work" that helps with his SPD

And I spent a lot of time thinking about why I was so adamant that Michael have bunk bedsThink it's because I can relate bunk beds to some of my best memories. Being a carefree little kid. Summer camp. College. Bunk beds are the best.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Something else I have been avoiding

Warning: The following is a gross admission of my terrible house keeping.

Tomorrow, Michael will turn 3. And several changes come with this, but the biggest one in our home right now is transitioning him from his crib (in toddler bed form) to a real big boy bed. We have to arrange his room  to fit it in and I believe our beloved chair will have to move out to the living room.

I love that chair. Michael and I have spent so much time in that chair together... nursing, sleeping, cuddling, reading, talking. It's been such a fixture in our lives and I will miss spending so much time with him in it, but it's just another part of growing up... and it's not like we're getting rid of it... is only going to the living room.

But now for the darker side of the chair... Michael had terrible food allergies/reflux/whatever and puked on me all of the time. That kid was just a spit-up fountain and many, many of these spew attacks occurred in that chair. And the chair is "leather", and I wiped up as best as I could, but sometimes (more often than I would like to admit,) the spit-up went down the inside of the chair where the armrest meets the seat. And I never cleaned it up.

Take a minute to freak out. Yes, I know, I deserve that. Gross. But I had a very fussy baby and was trying to keep it all together, I didn't exactly have time to flip the chair over and scrub the carpet everyday. I barely had time to brush my teeth, I had to let that one go.

And then I tried to pretend it wasn't there. You know, out of sight, out of mind. I'd move the chair to vacuum   every once in a while and would cringe, but quickly replaced the chair so I could avoid it longer.

Well, the time has come and tonight I scrubbed nearly 3 year-old puke out of my carpet. And it looks like it came out just fine. (And the spit-up went pretty much went straight down to the carpet, there are almost no traces of spit up anywhere inside the actual chair, in case you were wondering.)

So let that be a lesson. When your life is shit and you are doing your best just to breathe, screw the house work. That vomit will come out just fine when you decide to chip it off in a couple of years. That, or, you know, install hard surface flooring before you have kids.

Ok, please don't think too much less of me now that I've admitted that.

Good chair.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sensory Processing Disorder

I haven't been blogging much lately... partly because I'm lazy and partly because I'm in a different place in my life, but mostly because I've been avoiding writing this post.

I struggle with how much to talk about this, because it's Michael's story and he deserves some privacy on this topic, but it's my story too to some extent and I think there are readers out there that would benefit from hearing it.

Something has always seemed off about Michael. He's smart and happy and people tell me he's a great kid and I must be the crazy one for thinking something was wrong with him, but I still couldn't let that feeling slide.

That feeling caused me so much trouble. Was I an inadequate mother? Everyone told me how wonderful he was, so surely that must mean that I'm crazy. And why can't my kid get this stuff?! Everyone else's kid does! I know I'm not suppose to compare my son to others, but still, why? What's wrong with him me?

Although I was incredibly happy when Michael was born, it wasn't long until I started feeling depressed and frustrated. Why doesn't my newborn sleep? Why won't my baby take a bottle? Did I ruin him by breastfeeding him? Why does he scream every time we're travel in the car? Why does he hate his baby swing? Why does he have to be swaddled to sleep? Did I ruin him by swaddling him? Why won't he let me wear him? Why won't he stop wiggling? Why does he puke when I try to make him eat solids? Why won't he stop hitting/pinching/poking me? Why?  Why? Why! Michael really defied most of my expectations about parenthood. He wasn't like the other babies and I  was constantly wondering what I did wrong. It really brought out a lot of insecurities in me.

The other thing about him was that he really wasn't a happy baby. He hated daycare and everyday was such a nightmare. When I picked him up and I should have been happy to be reunited with him, but instead my heart broke because I could see how hard the day had been on him. Big purple bags under his eyes, tears dried to his cheeks.  I'd strap him in his carseat and listen to him wail all the way home. Then I take him to his room and nurse him and we would both fall asleep. Neither of us even able to wake for dinner. I struggled so much and I was so ready to leave my job when it ended because I could see that it was the right thing to do for him. I was totally blindsided by a child that hated daycare. I never expected that. Didn't my baby get the message, these days most moms work.  I didn't finish my masters to be a SAHM. I often blamed his problems on the daycare staffing issues but I've come to realize that the same situation probably would have happened anywhere.

Michael and I continued to struggle. I continued to always feel that something was off about him, but I didn't know what it was. I kept coming back to autism, but that didn't seem right. Then one day a friend of mine, while talking about another child, mentioned sensory processing disorder (SPD). I had never heard of that before so I went home and googled it. Bingo. (And in case you were wondering, there is a wide range of the manifestations of SPDs and the extent to which they impact someone's life... cause almost everyone can relate to some aspect of an SPD.)

I tried respond to this new information calmly. I collected information. Read books. Talked to my Parents-As-Teachers educator (she agreed with me). Prepared some documentation and took it to the pediatrician. He agreed as well (after we ruled out more serious illnesses that could explain some of the symptoms). He made some recommendations for getting Michael fully assessed and occupational therapy.

The story gets more complicated from there, involving early intervention and red tape and medical records  and the school system and insurance and lots of other bits and pieces. We are still very much mid-process in terms of getting him fully assessed and figuring out what services are available to us. I really wanted to wait until that was all done to write this post, but I can see that's not really necessary and I'm not exactly sure where "done" is.

We've had several visits from a wonderful occupational therapist. It's been a real learning experience seeing her work with him and I'm glad that I listened to my gut. When he turns 3 in a few days, we will have to get a new OT because he will have aged out of the early intervention program and I'm not exactly sure how things will go from here, but working with her for the last couple of weeks has helped me to realize how much he needs this.

I still have to come to terms with the feelings of inadequacy that were a product of how Michael's SPD affected our relationship. I know I'm not crazy for noticing this stuff anymore, but at the same time, there is the scarier prospect that his issues are REAL and not created by the anxiety in my head. And who knows what caused his SPD... looking back I could literally see the signs of this issue while he was still in the womb. I'm not going to blame myself for ruining him somehow. I'm going to stop beating myself up for feeling like I should have been able to manage work with caring for my child better. We got dealt a different hand and we're going to play it the best we can.

I'm very happy that this is hopefully a minor issue in his life and that otherwise, Michael is healthy. And I'm  certainly glad that we identified this so early.

Maybe I'll blog about this again sometime, but for now, I wanted to get this out there for the other parents that can relate. Go with your gut. You know your kid better than anyone else. I was pretty much my son's only advocate on this issue. My husband wasn't even observant enough to see what I was seeing and disagreed with me at first, but I pushed against him for this and I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

This is 30

I turned 30 the other day. Birthdays aren't a big deal to me, and this one was no exception, but to the rest of the world it seems that turning over a decade is usually considered a bigger deal.

I had a conversation with my therapist the other week on turning 30. I told her that I was looking forward to it because I find my 20 year old self annoying and I'm hoping that I won't bother myself so much when I'm 30. I was recounting this conversation with my husband last night and he asked me what I did in my 20's that was so cringe worthy. The biggest, quickest to point to example I can think of was our wedding. Oh, what a freakin nightmare. The guest-list, the registry, showers, bridesmaids. I recently told one of DH's cousins that she should be glad that she wasn't engaged yet, because she'll make much better decisions about her wedding if she knows herself better (I was slightly drunk during this conversation :) So many parts of my wedding were because I was worried about what other people would think... something about getting older makes you care less about what other people think.

But there are plenty of other things about 20 that I don't mind leaving in the past. Infertility and TTC #1. Done. Good riddance. My acne. Somehow it's finally come under control in the last year or so. It would have been nice if that had happened a decade earlier, but I'll take anything I can get in that department. My hair is a hell of a lot better looking these days too. I have naturally curly hair and I've finally accepted it. I despise all the straight hair girls that say they wish they had curly hair... it took me 29 years to figure out how to make this look good (thank you Curly Girl Handbook). I'm still a work in progress, but I was able to look in the mirror on my birthday and I was happier with the woman looking back at me than I have been in years.

I'm busy trying to take better care of the rest of myself too. My mental health is doing pretty good. I finally got a new doctor (since McSoothy is no longer available) and got my pap done and some blood work (all good!). I've got a dermatologist appointment for later this week to do a mole check, which I have put off longer than I should have considering that skin cancer killed my grandfather and I'm super fair-skinned. I really need to go to the dentist (that's about 3 years over due) and get an eye exam (I think I was about 10 last time I got one of those) and 2013 is the year to get caught up on those.

I am sad that we are going to delay our plans to start TTCing again, but it's because I want more time to get fit and check off some of those overdue doctors appointments before we start that business up again. My original life plans included being done having children by the time I was 30, but that's ok. I'm not going to fret over that the way I would have a few years ago.

So this is 30 and it seems pretty good.