Monday, October 31, 2011

Space Ranger

My son, as I'm sure many other children are, is absolutely obsessed with Toy Story. He quotes lines from the movie ALL day long and even yells, "ohh my little sweet potato" when trying to get my attention! It so stinkin' cute!

The thing that I find funniest, though, is that his absolute favorite line is, "Not today, Zurg!" He runs around the house (sometimes in just his undies) doing this laser pointing stance while pretending he's fighting off the evil emperor. Apparently the second movie is his favorite of the set.

For a short while there he liked to pretend he was a cowboy like Woody. He'd grab his stuffed horse (a decent sized one that we got from Wells Fargo for opening up his account) and act like he was riding around trying to lasso everything. Of course he didn't leave out the "ride like the wind, Bullseye!"

But the cowboy love didn't last long. Buzz Lightyear quickly took center stage.

He had a pen with a little Buzz on it that was in his stocking last year. It broke off and he seriously carried this small little Buzz with him everywhere we went. When visiting his cousins a few weeks ago he nearly died of excitement when he saw their huge one! He's been begging for one every since, but I told him he could get it for his birthday if he was good.

Grandpa George was in town and Lucas told him all about Buzz and his desire for the big one. He immediately looked at me and said that he'd get it for him, and then asked if he could take him to the store right then and there. I've never seen Lucas get out the door so fast!

They both came back from the store, Buzz in hand, yelling "to infinity and beyond!"

Now he's got his giant Buzz that talks, makes laser noises, and lights up. He hasn't put it down since he got it! Buzz now sleeps in our bed too and is quite the conversation starter in public. I know children go through their phases, but this has got to be his biggest obsession to date!

He loves to show Buzz off to everybody...especially to little Levin!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

L's Parent-Teacher Conference

Today I had my very first Parent-Teacher Conference. It was exciting, and somewhat sad at the same time. I cannot believe my baby is old enough for conferences!!

His teacher had nothing but great things to say about him! She keeps records and notes of every child so that she can reference back to them and have documentation of their growth. I loved reading through the assessment that she prepared for Lucas.

In the short 9 weeks of class, Lucas has grown more than I ever imagined he would. For starters, he has demonstrated quite the increase in independence. He used to stay close to me or always ensure I was within eye sight. Now, he could care less if I'm even there! He immediately comes into class, places his belongings into his cubby, and signs himself in. He is sufficient at changing into his outdoor clothing for play time and can use the restroom on his own. Although his teacher did say he turns down the offer to help with his zipper...apparently he's comfortable walking around with his fly down. ha.

He doesn't demonstrate anxiety and seems to really trust all of the parents that come in to work. He is helpful, respectful, engages in both parallel and cooperative play, and defers conflicts to the adults. What a big boy!

In the cognitive areas, she noted that Lucas likes it when there are new works and activities available in the classroom. He shows lots of curiosity and has a true desire to learn. He also uses a lot of imagination and creative play in the dramatic play/dress up area. Boy can this kid get things rolling! He loves to play fire chief and let everyone follow his lead, and he has started an imaginative fishing game on more than one occasion!

I was also told that Lucas stays engaged and interested in tasks, and shows a great deal of focus and concentration. When some of the children start running around during story time, Lucas stays on his mat like he is suppose to. His ability to follow directions really impressed her as well. He helps with the clean up time and can follow a small list of request. Although he is still somewhat quiet, he is becoming a lot more interactive towards every member of the class.

He can count, identify shapes & letters, sing along with the songs, recall sequences and repeat patterns, and is beginning to write his name!

His physical gross motor skills are impressive too. It was noted that he can catch an object thrown directly at him (from a short distance), and can run, jump, and ride like a big kid.

Although unsure if I will take the offer, Lucas' teacher invited him to join into the 3-day class as well! The younger 3's attend the T/Th class, while the 4 year olds come M,W,F. She said that he is so advanced that she thinks he would fit into that class perfectly! He would be the only student in the school that attends 5 days a week, but since I'm struggling to figure out his care come January anyways, we have a lot to think about. Pretty darn impressive for a not-even-three-year-old, huh?!

He sure does love his teacher and his new friends!

The biggest advice I was given is to ensure that I am an active participant throughout his school years. His teacher mentioned that children like him (sweet, cooperative, well-behaved, and very advanced) often fall between the cracks. She made a strong point - it's the trouble makers that get all the attention. She fears that he will sit back and let the other students get most of the teacher-student interactions as he progresses into grade school, and told me that I need to make sure he is at a place that will continue to push him and allow him to grow.

I am so proud of my big boy! He has exceeded my expectations and blossomed so much in the last two months. He is so much more outgoing and loves to sing about his everyday happenings. I'm in agreement with his teacher...we cannot wait to see how much has changed at the end of the year!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Little Fire Boys

I have to admit, I'm a little fire-manned out lately. Two months ago when my mom visited we took the boys to Trick or Treat in the Heat. Both went as firemen, and it has been nothing but fire fighting action in our lives since then.

It was fire safety week at Preschool and absolutely everything the kids did was related to fire...including participation in fire drills, wearing costumes, making little shields in the art room, and reading tons of fire books. During free play, Lucas took charge of the roll playing and designated himself as the fire chief. All of the kids followed his lead, even when he dropped down to the floor and began crawling under the smoke. It was hilarious!

On Monday, we all took a field trip to the fire station where the kids got to watch a clothing demonstration, learn the do's and the dont's of fire safety, and tour the big engine and the rescue boat. It was a lot of fun and my child of course enjoyed every minute of it. During the demonstration when the fireman asked what the tank was used for, Lucas shouted out "scooty diving!" Daddy was pretty proud of that statement!

You know what they say about the ladies loving a man in uniform! My boys sure do make some handsome firemen!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Drug Allergies

Any time you go to the doctors they always ask if you have any known drug allergies. My answer has always been 'no'. Unfortunately, that can no longer be my response.

I came down with mastitis (yes, for the third darn time!!) since nursing Levin and since I knew Levi was headed out of town soon I decided it was time to go in for a stronger treatment. This was by far the worst occurrence I've had and it struck full force in 3 hours flat. I went from being perfectly healthy and content to bawling my eyes out on the bathroom floor with the shakes. I cried for Levi to run grab the breast pump (at 5 in the morning) and emptied it out immediately. I don't know why I'm so prone to this god awful condition, but they say once you've had it once you're susceptible to getting it again. Oh joy.

Anyways, considering I was so weak that I couldn't even hold Levin, I rushed myself to an urgent care center for some treatment. It seemed like I knew more about the condition than the doc...firstly because I'm a women and he was a man, but secondly because I'm almost an expert at this point. I showed him that I had all of the classic symptoms (pain, redness, warmth, etc) and he agreed that I needed a prescription of antibiotics. All of the natural remedies I was doing at home helped, but I think they just masked the symptoms and let them return at a later date. I couldn't afford to get sick again while caring for the boys solo, so I agreed that this was definitely my best bet.

Doc came back in with a prescription for Sulfameth/Trimethoprim and sent me on my way. As with most antibiotics, you take two a day for somewhere between 10 and 14 days. Mine was a 10 day regiment and I was feeling back to my healthy self by the next day. I continued taking them as instructed and on day 9 I noticed a few small bumps on my left wrist area. I passed them off as bug bites and went on my way.

The next morning, I woke up and noticed the bumps had multiplied. I still didn't think too much of it at that point and just let it be. But before I knew it, I was covered from the neck down in the worst rash that my eyes have every physically laid eyes on. I itched more than I thought was humanly possible and I was absolutely miserable!!

I'll spare you all the hideous pictures, but this is what I looked like everywhere. Thankfully it spared my face though. Awful, huh?

I had gotten an e-mail the day before about a student in Lucas' class who had just been diagnosed with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, so my mind automatically went in that direction. But after researching it, I quickly realized my situation was completely different.

I went back to the clinic and was told exactly what I had expected...I was allergic to the antibiotics. No more sulfa drugs for me! It's frustrating that it took over an entire week of consuming them before any symptoms showed up because there was quite the build up in my system. I stopped taking them immediately, which really only meant skipping out on the last few pills, but the condition continued to worsen before it got any better. I put the poor pharmacist at Walgreens to work by asking her to compare each and every antihistamine I could think of. I needed to find the safest option for a nursing can never be too cautious! Benadryl won the title, but the drowsy side effect was awful. Thank goodness my boys are now on a similar nap cycle because we all passed out for 2.5 hours that first day! It was the only thing that stopped the itching, and it really did help lessen the rash over time.

I am almost 90% back to normal, with a few light patches still on my thighs. I swear, everything always has to go wrong while the hubs is out of town. But I'm happy to be itch-free and no longer looking like a walking science experiment. That was no fun. None at all!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Puppy Love

Last night we went over to my mother-in-law's house and got to play with her adorable litter of Jack Russell puppies! Of course, Lucas was in total heaven. I've been battling back and forth between the idea of breeding our female one more time, and after holding these pups and watching the boys with them...I think I have my answer.

This is the third and final litter for the mama, and also siblings to our female. We've bred our little girl once before and had such a hard time giving them all away. They were just far too cute! And I was ultra particular about where we placed them.

Lucas held and kissed nearly every pup and worried when one little guy was left out of the feeding frenzy. He was so sweet and gently with them all.

Levin was very interested in them also. He even allowed one to kiss him right on the lips! It was very obvious that they both were attempting to nurse from the other, but it was hilarious to watch.

Little boys and puppies just go together, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

8 weeks old!

On the one hand, I cannot believe my little Levin is already 8 weeks old! Yet at the same time, it feels as if he's been a part of our family forever. He is a wonderful and happy baby who I am so proud to call my own.

At a mere eight weeks old, his development has truly surprised me. His alertness and responsiveness are astonishing, and his personality is really beginning to shine!

The smiles are in full effect and absolutely contagious! Naturally, he smiles most for me, but he sure saves some for his daddy and big brother. These last two days I have caught him smiling specifically to get my attention. He will wait until I make eye contact and grin as big as his chubby little cheeks will allow. I love it!

Although not a huge fan of the bath yet, he at least tolerates them now. He seems to prefer when Levi gives them, but maybe that's because he makes them a little on the hot side. I get paranoid that the water will burn him and can never bring myself to make it too warm. You'd think that a baby born into water would love it...but I guess that's not the case.

His sleep patterns are fantastic! He is fairly predictable throughout the day (3 naps) and we are working on a consistent bedtime. He usually goes down between 9 and 10, which is fine by me as I'm usually fairly preoccupied with Lucas. He typically sleeps 5-6 hours during his first stretch, wakes to nurse for a mere 10 minutes, and then goes right back down for another 3-4. He still likes to be swaddled at night, and is wonderful about going to sleep if laid down into bed. Pure bliss.

Unlike his brother, Levin actually enjoys tummy time! Lucas used to scream the entire length of time, but Levin loves to look around and work those neck muscles. This is usually when our dog Rori tries to sneak in a lick on the cheek. I guess I'm not the only one infatuated with those big chubby kissing magnets!

Not only has his development gained, but his size has too! He now weighs 14lbs, is 22.5 inches long, and is wearing 3-6 month clothing. We had to bump up diaper sizes (twice!) and it's now time to adjust the car seat to the next height. Goodness gracious child, stop growing so darn fast!

He sneezes in 4's, coo's for attention, loves following people with his eyes as they move about the room, and has even scared the dogs with his loud farts! This little boy is such a blessing and I absolutely love him to death. Looking back at my fears about having enough love for both boys just makes me laugh. I feel like there was always a special place in my heart just waiting for him. He is absolutely perfect in my eyes and I am going to hold him as tight as I can until he fights me off!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Behavior Update

Between my blog, facebook, and many text messages, I had an amazing response to my previous post about Lucas' behavior issues. It is very comforting to know that I am not alone in these struggles and I truly appreciated the advise and suggestions that I received from my many friends.

It is very difficult watching your child behave in a manner so inconsistent with the way you've parented. I think it's natural to think you are doing something wrong as a mother, but we all know toddlers can be a handful at times. It's just the way they are wired! I have been making a very conscious effort to watch how I respond and to not let him see my true frustration. Keeping myself calm leads to less yelling and a shorter outbreak. I guess that's one way to look at it positively.

Lucas has been acting much better since my last post and we have talked in great length about his behavior and what is acceptable. Although he still has his episodes, he knows they are wrong and apologizes after the fact. He really is a sweet, smart, caring and very imaginative boy who I absolutely adore. I have come to terms with the idea of rearing his behavior as opposed to eliminating it. I know that kids act out for a variety of reasons and that no child is perfect. But ensuring that my actions and words are geared in an effective manner, it really has improved our lives.

Thank you all again for your words of encouragement. I felt guilty for mentioning that I didn't exactly "like" my child at certain points in time, but hearing that multiple moms I know have admitted to saying/thinking the same thing was quite a relief. Whew...I'm not alone. Parenting isn't always easy. And the one thing that you need most of all is support from other parents who have been in your shoes and truly understand your frustrations. Sometimes all you really need to do is vent! Verbalizing your issues sometimes makes a solution to the problem much much clearer. I will always remember that!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Teenager at TWO?

If you would have told me that raising a two year old is similar to raising a teenager, I never would have believed you. Until now that is. Granted, my son talks (and reasons) like he’s 5, but I still wasn’t prepared for his quick come-backs, back-talking, and most of all...attitude!

Lately, my patience has been tested and pushed to its limits and I have broken into tears on multiple occasions over the phrases and tones my son has been using towards me. I know that rebellion is normal and that toddlers at this age are striving for their own independence, but I feel like Lucas has taken it to the absolute extreme.

Manners are something that I began incorporating since Lucas began talking. I think it’s important to raise your children to be polite. Heck, if you aren’t going to, then who is? He has always used his pleases, thank yous, and your welcomes. Always. But just recently, getting him to use them nicely has been a task. He has been overly demanding and when I tell him that he needs to ask me things in a nicer way, he scoffs and gives me the dramatic drawn out 'pleeeaseeee' with as much attitude as humanly possible. Where on earth did this come from?

He is critical about everything that I do and doesn’t fail to insert his opinions into every situation. He scolds me for not doing things as he wants them and threatens me with my own punishments. While driving home from a birthday party yesterday, he got upset over a hole in his goodie bag. He rudely yelled at me and told me to fix it NOW. I nicely reminded him that I was driving and it wasn’t safe for me to turn around, but that was just a waste of breathe. He yelled that I was being ridiculous (yes, his exact words), told me he was going to hit me, smash my fingers and color all over my car. Seriously? When did he get so evil?

The most common come-backs I hear lately are "go away!" and “how about tomorrow?” When asking Lucas to do anything (help clean up, take a shower, eat) he always tells me he’ll do it tomorrow. Apparently my suggestions never hold up anymore because he always tries to make a compromise/deal. I offer two of something, he argues for four. I suggest a particular meal, show, or activity, and he often tries to compromise for something different. I feel like I just can’t win anymore.

To say that my son has been demanding lately would be a complete understatement. He no longer has any patience and has a complete fit if I ask him to wait a quick moment for anything. If I tell him that I don’t know the answer to his question, he yells at me to tell him right NOW. He orders and tells me to do things as opposed to asking. He has even started giving me ultimatums. He threatens to throw and break his toys if I don’t do something right away and all I can do is laugh. Go for it child...they’re your toys.

I just received a developmental e-mail and it said that kids at this age often rebel against one particular parent. Of course that parent has to be me. I am the bad guy and dad is all fun and games at the end of the day. I have been spending lots of quality time with him while the baby sleeps and I feel like it’s getting me nowhere. Levi has finally witnessed this nightmare and calmly reminded me that it’s normal. Easy for him to say’s not directed at him!

Case in point: We were loading into the car Saturday night and Lucas dropped his cup on the ground. It had rolled under the car and he asked his daddy to grab it for him. I retrieved it though and when I handed it over he snatched it out of my hands, made the ugliest face and literally yelled, STUPID MOM to my face. Levi immediately scolded him and told him that he should be thanking me for helping, but it was again useless. He doesn’t want me to do anything for him and is completely ungrateful if I do. He even told me a few days ago that he hated me for the first time. I know he's only two, but that really hurt.

The attitude is by far the most difficult thing to deal with and I am really beginning to despise this phase of development. I am really just praying that it ends soon. I love my son to death, but there have been a few days this past week where I felt as if I didn’t necessarily like him. I know that is an awful thing to say and I feel like an absolute horrible mother, but I’ve been pushed to my breaking point. Trying to ignore a situation only frustrates him more and neither time-out, spanking, or taking away toys has any effect on this behavior. He makes it well known that he is mad and will even scream at the top of his lungs at me. He is beyond uncooperative and makes every aspect of my day ten times more difficult than it needs to be. I feel like I’m really at a loss.

I know what you're gonna say...he's just jealous of the baby. But this started well before Levin was even born. Yes, it may have intensified a bit since then, but things really started turning south at about two and a half. And they've only gotten worse since then!

They call this stage the terrible two’s, but I honestly feel that it's worsening as he gets closer to three. His birthday is next month and everyone I’ve spoken to says that next year will be worse than this. Good lord, I don’t see how it could possibly get much worse!

Where did my sweet child go? Or more importantly...will I ever get him back?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Good 'ol Garlic

The number of times I have come down with mastitis is now greater than the number of children I've nursed. Thank goodness I'm such a huge breastfeeding advocate because I wouldn't put up with this again if it didn't truly benefit my baby. Mastitis is awful. Absolutely awful. I could seriously complain about it for days.

This last time hit me so darn fast that I was convinced it was going to be the worst event yet. I started having breast tenderness around 10 in the morning, and by 4 o'clock I was so run down and weak that I felt like I was going to pass out. Having had a successful outcome with pumping, Castor oil massages, and heat compresses last time, I instantly starting the same regime. I had heard just a few days prior that one woman had success eating raw garlic. Yuck! But it prompted me to do a little research.

Garlic is said to be an herbal "wonder drug" and I never even new about it! Did you know that garlic can be used as a natural broad spectrum antibiotic? And best yet, the body doesn't evolve resistance to it like those from the pharmaceutical companies.

It can also have a strong antioxidant effect, is a natural anti fungal, antiviral, and is said to promote longer nursing sessions because babies respond to the garlic odor in the milk. I could go on and on, but believe me...garlic truly is the "wonder drug" everybody says it is. It's been used for centuries all around the world to prevent and to cure a wide variety of issues (all the way from high blood pressure to cancer and the plague!)

It's important that you take the garlic raw so that you get all of the immune boosting benefits. The antibiotic component in it, allicin, is destroyed by heat so it must be raw. But this is much easier said that done.

I am a wimp. Hands down. I don't care for anything hot or even slightly spicy (peppers, spices, etc). I ended up cutting each clove into a few smaller pieces hoping to just swallow them down like pills. I made the mistake of licking a clove to get a feel for the taste and nearly cried. Man, garlic is HOT! I had no idea. So I ended up hiding the pieces in applesauce and swallowing without them touching any part of my mouth.

I consumed 3 cloves that evening and woke up feeling 90% back to health! I couldn't believe it.

I don't think that I could incorporate this into my diet on a regular bases, but I suppose I should really make an effort. I read an article from a mom of 3 who's been feeding raw garlic to her children their entire lives, and they have never needed to make a trip to the doctors. I'm sure that's an extreme case, but knowing all of the benefits now sure has me convinced that it should play a crucial role in our lives. Although getting Lucas on board would be impossible, Levin could at least get it through me. Hopefully I can start a new healthy habit in our house! I have a sore throat that just started today, so maybe I'll test the garlic out once more.

My boys are Alaskan Natives and therefore receive free medical coverage. I, on the other hand, am left to fend for myself. My postpartum coverage ends this month and my student coverage won't pick back up again until Jan. Getting sick is not really an option, so hopefully eating raw garlic can help keep me healthy...and out of medical debt!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Engagement Photos

Our friends Natalie and Iliana are getting married next August and we couldn't be more excited! They've been together for just shy of a decade and have an adorable almost-two year old little girl named Jude (who Lucas just adores these days!) We can't wait to celebrate their special day with them next year.

I have been helping Natalie gather cute wedding ideas and we are going wedding dress shopping this weekend! I'm pretty darn excited :)

So, I have no formal photography training, nor do I understand what half of the options are on my camera. To be honest, I didn't even know how to change out the lens until last weekend. But just because I don't know the proper terms or understand the lighting concepts, doesn't mean I can't take a great photograph.

I did the ladies' engagement photos and they turned out absolutely amazing! Their love truly shines through in these images. It was great seeing them together having fun and acting merely as a couple of lovers...not just parents. We all get so wrapped up in our children when we are together, but that isn't our only identity. We are made up of so much more than what motherhood entails. Seeing them together this day truly reminded me that.

So here were my favorites from the day! Aren't they just adorable together?!

*Feel free to click on the images to make them larger.

Family Date Night

With my husbands busy schedule and me constantly on the go, I feel like we never really get to just sit around and relax with each other much these days. Hubby texted me a few days ago asking me out on a sushi date (aww!) but it took nearly a week before we actually made it happen. We ended up going as a family instead, but I wouldn't have changed that one bit. There is a brand new sushi restaurant that just opened in town that has a revolving belt. I love this entire concept because you are free to sample lots of different rolls as opposed to ordering one large one. All in all, I think we actually saved money and we both left with nice full bellies that were even topped with cheesecake...yumm!

We can't get Lucas to eat the rolls themselves, but he loves his edemame and his fish eggs! The best part of the experience was watching and waiting for the food to roll around. Lucas kept his eye out for the soy beans and was so proud of himself for pulling them down on his own.

As we were driving home we happened to see Levi's uncle driving around the neighborhood on hubby's motorcycle. Pete is staying with us temporarily while he works with the guys, and boy has Lucas took a liking to him! Pete lives in New Mexico at the moment but is moving back to Kauai where we will be sure to visit again soon! Lucas has met him before, but now that they've bonded...he has turned into his little shadow. He loved watching Pete do wheelies down the street, too. As soon as we all pulled up into the driveway he asked Lucas if he wanted to go for a ride. I got nervous for a moment, but remembered that Pete's been riding bikes almost his entire life. If anyone should take Lucas out for his first ride, it should be him.

They only drove up and down the street once, but Lucas was grinning from ear to ear! To say that he loved it would be a complete understatement.

We put on our pj's and started The Lion King! We made a special trip to the store after nap for the movie because it was just released. I had a $5 off coupon that we had gotten inside of a Subway kids meal a while back, so I got my all time favorite Disney movie for a whopping $14.99. Score!

The boys even sat together for a whole 5 minutes watching the movie. Then the baby starting leaning on Lucas and he got annoyed. haha. I'm sure there's going to be lots of that in the future!

I sure love these boys of mine and I cherish the times when we get to enjoy fun family bonding. Lucas is growing so fast and I'm not ready to experience the same with Levin. As nice as a 'child-free' date with my husband would have been...I'm happy it turned into a family one!