Butterflies & Nature

I decided to take Lana and check out a free Butterfly House in a local Nature Center here in SoCal. The entire nature center is geared toward kids and education. Even in places with urban sprawl, nature centers are a great weekend activity to spend interactive time with your kids for little to no money.

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Ladybug Art

Tots Art Start

Full disclosure, we do take Lana to Gymboree Art Level 1 on the weekends.  We recently swapped from the Play and Learn class after she turned 18 months and due to the timing and how it hit her nap schedule.

That being said, lately, I feel as though I default to iPad and TV while trying to prep dinner.  Sometimes, we cook “together” but I worry considerably when she is under my feet while the stove is going and I have my hands on a knife.  We had an incident months ago where she grabbed a knife on the counter and sliced her index finger a little bit, so I am overly cautious now.  After perusing Amazon and Zulily one day (another story for another day, but I am an online shopper to the nth degree due to being a working mom with multiple balls in the air at any given time, hehe hear my rationalizations for the plethora of boxes that show up at our doorstep?), I spotted the Alex Jr. Tots Art Start kits.  Most of them are geared for 18m+ so I grabbed a couple via Zulily and waited the obligatory 2-3 weeks for arrival.  They showed up on Tuesday! Tuesday night, before I could even get the box open, Ladybug had spotted the package and was eagerly trying to assist me as I opened the box.  I pulled out one of the simpler kits, setup Lana up near the end of the kitchen and she created art while I cooked.  It was a nice way to still spend time with her but keep her from being under my feet and potentially in harm’s way.

Sure you could buy your own craft stuff, but I don’t have the space nor the time to really think it out, at least not for now.  Perhaps after working through these kits and going to Gymboree’s Art class for a bit, I will be able to do it all myself, but for now, this is AWESOME mommy and me time while I work on getting dinner on the table after a long day at work.

I have no affiliation with Gymboree nor Alex Jr. but here are a couple of the kits that we have now in the house:

18 Month Sleep Regression Hell

I thought the 3-4 day blip on the sleep radar for Ladybug at 17 months old was the 18 month sleep regression.  Nope.  We are in the throes of the regression at 19 months and 1 week.  Sigh.  Or should I say SNORE as my head hits the keyboard? 

Since I have stayed in touch with many ladies from my birth group on WTE, I know a couple of them are seeing their sleep debt racking up quicker than flies on poo. (Look, I am sleep deprived so look beyond my odd metaphor).  After searching the interwebs, I found that many in the past have experienced the 18 Month Sleep Regression this late in the game too, so we aren’t oddballs for that.  Sure, for other things, but not for this! 

Searching around, there are 4098325873458923745 posts about sleep regression tips and what to do.  There are so many schools of thought, whether it be CIO (Crying it Out) or Co-Sleeping, the advice ranges from “tell the kid tough luck” to “hold them and cry with them.”  Uh, okay, maybe not that extreme, but there are some odd advice tips out there.  Since I am still in the midst of the regression I don’t know what is going to work, but I can tell you what has not worked and what the symptoms are, because really, that’s what I wanted to know, “Am I in the midst of an 18 month sleep regression??” 

So here you go, here are the symptoms I have seen thus far:

1. Nap times and their frequency suddenly fluctuated dramatically day to day.  (This was the first sign and I thought it was Ladybug wanting to transition from 2 to 1 nap)

2. Overstimulated wasn’t just general crankiness, I’ve seen “amped” up behavior in the evenings.  Almost like the kid is overly caffeinated and related to a gremlin!  My family swears she doesn’t get caffeine during the day, but there was one day, early in this drama, that I seriously considered who was out to get me.  Ahem, sleep deprivation messes with the brain!

3. Strict bedtime routines became fraught with battles and tears. 

4.  Hello, night wakings that were not just talking, laughing, and playing but also full throttled, if only I could say “YOU ASSHOLES BETTER COME GET ME” screaming. 

5.  Marked separation anxiety, most noticeably around me, the mama bear. 

6.  This is the one that stood out to me and I have read about it only on a few blogs as it related to the 18 month sleep regression, Ladybug seems to loathe her bedroom.  My husband or I pick her up but are still in her room, tears.  We are standing outside her door, holding her, and about to walk in with her… tears.  Even if she is intensely crying, the second she realizes you are carrying her out of her room, she turns to gabbing and laughing, as if we all somehow forgot what had just happened milliseconds prior?!?!?!?  

The only thing that kind of works right now and is a terrible habit if you don’t intend on co-sleeping, she falls asleep in our bed fairly easily.  That is, after having a smack on my nose when I snorted in my sleep.  Sigh.  Or, let’s not forget about having a paci shoved in my mouth as I slept.  My husband and I both have awoken to ladybug within inches of our face, proclaiming “HI!”  Where is that damn book??  GO THE F TO SLEEP!!!  Ahem, I digress. 

What hasn’t worked so far?  CIO (I cave after 20 minutes), iPad playing a movie (desperation, my friend, desperation), bottle of milk (don’t judge me!), a bear given to me by my husband (I thought the scent or token gesture might matter, but while she loved on that bear outside of her room, the second we entered her room and she realized I was about to put her back in the crib, she threw that effing bear back at me!!), my husband rubbing her head and sweet talking her (I felt sorry for him when he realized she was wide awake when he came downstairs post bedtime routine), doing any major activities as she becomes exponentially more amped up (The sunset at the beach was a sandy mess and lots of tears as we tried to clean her up!  PJ StoryTime involved a 4 year old girl giving Ladybug a dirty look after the umpteenth attempt of Ladybug crawling over her), and lastly, any attempts of logic or rationalization (as many times as I try to convey everything will be okay, mommy is right here, results in more tears.  Isn’t that against some parenting rule as not listening or something too?  Sigh… So many effing things to remember and being so sleep deprived means I forget to take the Ginko Biloba – heh terrible joke). 

 

There you have it, my brain dump of life as it is right now.  I love that kid, but seriously GO THE F TO SLEEP.  Love mommy. 

 

Lacking a yard?

We live amidst the typical Southern California urban sprawl.  Tucked inside of our three story townhome that was built in a tightly packed community.  Sure we have tennis courts, a pool and two spas, but there isn’t a single playground or grassy patch that would break down the gremlin energy Lana has to burn.  I love being outside, and we try to take her to the beach or to parks, but that fool eats sand.  Yep, every single time I think “wow I have a genius on my hands,” she licks the sand, expresses her displeasure with the sandy mouth and then does it again!  I digress.

In Southern California, lots of indoor trampoline type places have popped up whether it be a “Sky” place or a bounce house style, but consistently they all get low ratings on imposing their rules against older kids in the toddler areas.  Let’s be clear here, I have to take Lana on the weekends and usually that correlates to larger than average crowds.  Chasing her around an indoor bounce house wouldn’t be so bad, if I also wasn’t having to block and prevent tackles from older, much larger children all while trying to remind Lana that she needs to share and/or wait her turn.  EXHAUSTING.

Thankfully, in our community there are a couple of alternatives.  Pretend City is one of them, and while it can get busy, the price and location keeps it relatively manageable.  Pretend City is a non-profit children’s museum.  While most of the events and classes are during the work week, the weekends are fun to visit and even reasonable in pricing to consider for a birthday party.  Secondly, there is a new kid on the block called We Play Loud.  We Play Loud has only been open about a month, but the 50+ Yelp reviews are stellar.  Their website has a few broken links and kinks, but I am certain over time, that will all be resolved.  I love that you can fill out all of the registration information online and avoid trying to temper your toddler’s potential tantrum as you try to rebuff the unfettered attempts to break free and run! 

I highly recommend googling or searching yelp for various Children’s Museums in your area that have tactile play, but also, indoor complexes that don’t just bank on the bounce house and/or trampoline experience. 

One of those days

Stay at home moms, or hell, working moms, too: What do you do when your day goes from

ryker happy       to       ryker cranky  ??????

I mean, aside from pouring a strong drink before noon.

Which I, of course, have never done. Ever.

*cough*

That would be irresponsible parenting.

*cough* *cough* *cough*

My absolute lowest moments of being a mother are when I lose my cool with my son. My sweet, little, innocent (*cough* MONSTER *cough*) of a son.

(Ok, I may be overusing the *cough* on this post)

(But hang in there, I’m getting to my point.)

Seriously, I hate that feeling. When you’re outside of your body, looking at yourself, going….. wahhhhh??? Why am I taking this out on him right now???

So I’m always in search of new ideas for cooling off and keeping my patience with my son, even on those days when everything just feels impossible.

Things I’ve done in the past when we’re faced with a day like this (besides the whole gin & tonic thing):

Get out of the house – Sometimes we just need a change of scenery. Sometimes I’ve been trying too hard to get the house clean and the laundry done and dinner prepped and I need to just say “F it, people!!!” and take my son to the park and watch him throw sand at the other babies. (Kidding.)

Harry the Bunny – OK, I’m all for the no-TV-before-2 thing and we *mostly* follow that rule. But when the whole house is sick with a deathly cold, or I’m going through a difficult time with a pregnancy or miscarriage, or heck, when I’ve just woken up on the wrong side of the bed…. sometimes a little 20 minute break where I plop the baby in front of Harry the Bunny on the iPad is superior to snapping at him when I’ve run out of patience. Plus, it gives me plenty of time to mix that drink. And down it. And mix another one.***

Impromptu play date – I have been known to emergency message my local playgroup and ask if anyone wants to come over or meet at a park LIKE NOW. The opportunity for my little monster toddler to be distracted by another little monster toddler, and the social outlet for Mama is invaluable in time of crisis.

If anyone is out there reading, share yours too!

 

*** I swear I have never had more than one drink while alone with my son. Please don’t call child protective services. Thank you.

 

Tell Me About Your Miscarriage

I first wrote this piece in late February, just after I experienced my 4th pregnancy and 3rd miscarriage. It was intended to be published to a website that disbanded. It’s been sitting on my google drive for months, and I’ve finally summoned the courage to post it here (a fabulous start-up website that I share with two other Moms), instead. But it is a bit out of date. Since writing this, I’ve gone on to experience another pregnancy and loss, as well as finally receive a diagnosis/explanation for my losses. I promise to write more on my journey as it unfolds. But without further intro, here are my thoughts from earlier this year:

 

There is so much silence, (and dare I say, “taboo”) around the topic of pregnancy loss. Why are we made to feel like we shouldn’t talk about something that is so common and such a natural, yet tragic part of life? I’ve seen statistics thrown around about pregnancy loss; some say 1 in 5 pregnancies end in loss. And I’ve even heard stats as high as 1 in 4! Yet, before my own miscarriages, I had never spoken to anyone about their pregnancy loss, ever. Once I began to open up about my own losses, other women opened up about theirs. I entered this whole private world of hurt and loneliness. Through talking about my miscarriages, I found healing. It hurts to think that so many women (and yes, men, but I will be writing this post purely from the woman’s perspective as it’s the only perspective I know) bear this pain alone. Many women I’ve met in the online pregnancy loss world keep their early pregnancies and losses secret because of the hurtful and misguided things they’re afraid to hear people say. Or because they feel ashamed of their losses (and this last reason breaks my heart the most). It is my hope that over time we can learn to treat the tragedy of pregnancy loss as a publicly recognized, significant loss. One that we can talk about unashamedly with our friends and family in order to heal and find peace. The first step in accomplishing such a thing, though, is having the courage doing just that: Take a deep breath, grab a tissue (or a whole box of them), and talk about it.

 

So, tell me about your miscarriage.

And let me tell you about mine, too.

 

Seeing those two little pink lines early one December morning instantly changed my perspective and priorities in life. They made the career plans I had been working on that year seem suddenly so unimportant. All the deadlines and challenges I was worried about last week were now insignificant, comparatively. There was something growing inside of me that was more important to me than life itself. I was going to be a Mom. There was no going back.

 

I still remember how my husband cried with happiness when I revealed my surprise to him later that day in the form of an early Christmas present. We had been officially “trying” for a few months, but we had dreamed of and planned for this day for much longer. I was on top of the world, more excited about anything than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I thought to myself: “there is another human life growing inside of my body. I, alone, am responsible for keeping it safe and healthy. And when this baby gets here I will love it and care for it more than I have ever loved or cared for anything.” As the days passed, I ate, slept, and breathed the excitement of my pregnancy in a way I never knew I could anticipate anything.

 

The cramping started one morning when my husband and I were relaxing on the couch together. “I’m cramping,” I said, slightly alarmed, but hoping that it was likely just another one of those explainable symptoms I had looked up on the Internet since finding out I was pregnant. Dr. Google assured me, once again, that what I was feeling was normal. As long as it wasn’t accompanied by bleeding, it was likely fine. A few minutes later, a trip to the ladies’ room (a VERY regular occurrence since becoming pregnant and having apparently lost all bladder capacity) revealed a streak of red blood on the toilet paper. A shaky phone call to the on-call doctor, plenty of reassurances that it was probably fine, two trips to the hospital lab for blood draws and two and a half agonizing days later, it was confirmed. I was having a miscarriage.

 

This happened to me over two years ago. I have a healthy 1 year old baby boy now. But recalling my first pregnancy and loss still brings tears to my eyes and an ache to my chest. I was due on September 1st, 2012. I will remember that date forever. That’s when my first baby was supposed to be born. No subsequent children or other happy life events can ever change that or bring that baby back.

 

After I lost that pregnancy, I felt the intense need to be pregnant again as soon as possible. My purpose was gone. Those priorities I had had before my very short-lived pregnancy hadn’t magically become important to me again. My life felt suddenly, startlingly empty. Was I still a mom? If a grew a very tiny being for a couple of weeks, never saw it, never held it, but knew it was there – what did that make me? I remember being left with this awful feeling that I’d dreamt the whole thing up.

 

Our second pregnancy happened so quickly compared to the first. I blinked and I was pregnant again. I was reassured by every doctor and friend and family member that the first loss was a fluke. I was a healthy, 28 year old woman. Experiencing two losses in a row is so rare. Be positive. Relax. I tried. I tried so hard to be positive. This time something didn’t feel right from the beginning. And yet I didn’t feel like I could tell people that or even fully admit it to myself. I had to be positive for the new life growing inside of me. But then the cramping again. And the bleeding. And the blood draws. And the bad news.

 

My second loss spiraled me quickly into a depression. I hadn’t even really started grieving the loss of my first pregnancy (and didn’t even know I’d have to) when the second one was taken away from me as well. Before I knew it, I was grieving the two most important things I’d ever been given. All at once. It was horrible. And incredibly lonely. Nobody else missed the life I was carrying because nobody else’s life had been so connected with it as mine had.

 

I am able to talk about my losses with such clarity now, but at the time, I was still discovering this new, heart breaking world. It took me awhile to accept that I had lost something profound and that I had to grieve in order to move forward. I had this impression from society that I should be able to adjust my expectations for the future and just move on and try again. I wanted to do that badly. And at first, I tried to. Unfortunately,  I discovered that just wasn’t possible. I had to feel the pain, go through the stages of grief, slowly and agonizingly. I had the support and patience of my husband. I had a lot of friends and family who wanted to be there for me, but didn’t know how. I felt that no one understood what I was facing.

 

As I struggled through my own grieving process, I began to wonder why I felt so alone in this, when it seemed from everything I read that it was actually quite common. That’s when I started opening up about it. When the mood so struck me in conversation with friends or even strangers, I talked about my pregnancies and losses. I even mentioned my losses on *gasp* Facebook. Yes, I made my miscarriages “Facebook official”. Why shouldn’t I? They were and are a huge part of my life experience. They aren’t my fault. They are something horrible that happened to me. I hoped through opening up that I could find healing. Unexpectedly, I found so much more than that. Women I hadn’t known had experienced miscarriage opened up to me about their losses as well, and I connected with them in a way I never would have otherwise.

 

Meanwhile, with very little help and support from the medical community, we decided to try again. My third pregnancy happened a few months after my second miscarriage. I worried every single day of that pregnancy. I panicked at every twinge. I checked for blood every single time I went to the bathroom. It was the longest, most challenging nine months of my life.

 

My son was born 4 days after his due date. Healthy, happy, beautiful, amazing. Worth it. Worth every moment of pain I had been through. He didn’t erase my past wounds but he helped me sew those last few stitches through the holes in my heart. Those scars will remain forever, but they ache a little bit less every day.

 

My story doesn’t end there, though. I have one more miscarriage to tell you about today. I might have more to tell you about someday, but gosh, I hope I don’t. This loss is still very fresh and the pain still raw. The moment that stands out the most from my miscarriage two weeks ago was the desperation I felt when I realized a loss was undeniable. I was lying in bed, my son was napping in the other room. The physical pain was so strong and I just desperately wanted to make it stop, to somehow physically hold that little life inside of me. I had an ultrasound scheduled for a few hours later, but I already knew what it would show, that the baby I wanted so badly was no longer living. This was supposed to be my son’s younger sibling. They would have been 20 months apart. At that moment, if I could just have told that future baby how much I wanted it, how much I loved it already and what a great life we would give it someday, I knew it would stay. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything but lie there helpless as another life was taken away from me. The helplessness and desperation is what I remember most from losing my last pregnancy. This was the first time I was far enough along to pass visible remains. I was surprisingly grateful for this because it allowed my husband and I to hold a somewhat impromptu burial for our little embryo in our backyard under our son’s favorite tree. It gave me a closure I never got with my first two losses.

 

With this loss, I had a larger outpouring of support. Was it because I was a tiny bit further along? Was it because I’d been so open about my losses recently and so people had a better idea of what to do? I don’t know. But this time, friends sent flowers, cards, text messages and E-mails. People left me heart-felt voicemails and brought wine and cookies. Nobody can take the pain away,  but it means a lot to have people recognize my loss as real and let me know they’re here for me while I grieve.

 

I wish I didn’t have go through this again. But here I am. I wish no one had to. But women go through this every day. Let’s make the process less lonely. Let’s be there for each other.

 

If you know someone who has experienced pregnancy loss, take the time to educate yourself about how you can support them through it. Below are some links of helpful things to do and say, as well as things you should avoid doing and saying. Of course, everyone experiences loss differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all reaction.  But in my experience, the most important thing is NOT to ignore the situation out of discomfort or concern about saying the wrong thing. Your silence will be louder than your words. Instead, the most meaningful thing you can do is to take the time to sit with your friend and say, “Tell me about your miscarriage.”

 

How to Help a Friend Through Miscarriage

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage

After a Miscarriage: Supporting Friends & Family Through a Loss