Monday, April 30, 2012

That Holland story

Have you all heard the Holland story? The one that was written by a mom of a special needs kid to describe the experience. Essentially, she compares having a special needs kid to going through all the planning and anticipation of a trip to Italy, getting on the plane, arriving and having the flight attendant say "welcome to Holland". Which is not at all what you planned for, but still a great result.

I came across this a couple of times on Facebook this week- once it was posted for a local radio personality whose newborn baby has Down's Syndrome. And then my mom posted it and tagged some friends- one with a Down's Syndrome baby and another a young woman who is fighting breast cancer. And I saw it and thought "oh, that's great, I hope it encourages them." And then my mom did something that completely caught me off-guard- she tagged me in the post as well.

I never in a million years would have thought of this story as applying to my life.  Yes, I have a child with a feeding tube and a sensory disorder and lots of delays and stuff, but it's just part of who he is. He's also sweet and outgoing and has a crazy good memory.  And compared to some of the other kids in his special ed class, he's doing great and he certainly is doing better health-wise than SO many of the kids we run into at Children's Hospital.

Maybe if it was the pre-kids me looking at this situation, I would feel that the story applies. And I guess if you take a step back and look at it, my mom is right.

And maybe it's because I've never been one to really think about how things are going to turn out, at least not with the kids. If that makes any sense. I read pregnancy websites when I was pregnant with Ethan, but never read any books. I don't usually read parenting books or sites that tell me what to expect at different ages. I didn't have a birth plan.  I'm normally a totally anal-retentive planner, but for some reason I just don't do that with the kids. So maybe my lack of expectations changed how I perceive this?

I admit, having Ethan qualify for special education did throw me for a bit of a loop at the beginning. I'd spent a lot of time thinking about how I was pushed really hard to ACHIEVE! and BE THE BEST! and GET STRAIGHT A's all the time! and WHY ARE YOU JUST GETTING A MASTER'S DEGREE AND NOT A PhD. And then I married Daniel and he was a solidly average student and doesn't have any advanced degrees and he's super successful at his career. So I'd thought about how hard I would push them and thought about things like "would I push for gifted classes" and such.  I felt like I was okay with average, but delayed never occurred to me. But that was about the extent of my thinking about the whole thing and I got over it quickly.

This has turned into a very long rambling blog post.  Sorry- just trying to figure out my own brain.  And it's Monday morning, and the kids only let me drink half a cup of coffee, so that brain is not terribly functional yet :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mama's big girl

Looking back on things, it seems to me that Ethan stayed a baby a lot longer than Vivian did. Partly because he didn't grow hair for so long (his first haircut was well after he turned 2), he insisted on a pacifier for a long time, and he didn't walk or talk until fairly late. I look at picture of the kids together when Vivian was born, and he just still seems so little (they're 22 months apart).

Now he's all busy being a grown-up kid, but it seemed to happen at about the right time, so it didn't freak me out too much.

Then there's Vivian. I'm not entirely sure she ever was a baby. She talked early, walked early and developed SO MANY OPINIONS early.  She skipped over toddlerhood and childhood and went straight to adolescence.  This morning, when I got out of the bathroom, she informed me that she liked my dress. However when I later dumped a shelf of plates on the floor (yeah me!) and grabbed the first pair of shoes that I saw (to protect my feet from ceramic shards) and then wore the shoes, which did not match my outfit, to the store, Vivian was not amused. She repeatedly asked "Mommy? Why are you wearing those shoes? Those are the wrong shoes!"

Even though she acts all teenagerish, I was consoling myself with the fact that she's a Mama's girl and wants to be with me all the time, so I can fool myself into thinking she's still my baby.  Then last week our children's ministry leader decided to move up the almost-3-year-olds to the 3-5 year old class at church.  And off Vivian went, ready to be a big kid.

And she heard us talking about preschool and informed me that she wants to go to school. NOW. Even when I told her she'd have to go alone, without Mama, she did not care.  How did she get to be old enough for me to be checking out schools for her? 

Don't get me wrong, I in no way want to go back to the baby days. I'm thrilled to have little people who are fairly self-sufficient. Little people who I can joke with and have conversations with and go do things with. I love that there are no bottles or diapers or baby stuff around.

But it did go by so fast.  I just wasn't entirely ready for that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Reprogramming

We're finally pretty much recovered from the craziness of last week and I'm caught up on laundry and review blog posts and all that type of stuff.  Which means it's time to work on some bigger issue things. Namely the way my kids have been acting lately. 

I love them dearly, but the whining and demanding and throwing of fits is making me insane. And the really annoying thing is that I really have no one to blame but myself, because I so often give in to their demanding little ways, especially when I am busy or distracted. And there was a lot of busy and distracted pre-trip and during the trip and post-trip. This morning I woke up to a preschooler whining and refusing to get out of the bed to go to the bathroom, and another throwing a temper tantrum because she wanted cookies for breakfast.

This is not okay behavior. It makes me crazy, it makes them seem like little monsters, and it results in an unhappy family. Which means I have to step up and do something about it.  I have to be the grown up.

In other news, it's Tuesday. I am not a fan of Tuesdays and think that this one in particular can go away anytime. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Disneyland- my miscellaneous thoughts

We're slowly returning to normal life after a busy week last week.  Disneyland was exhausting, but so fun! I am pretty sure they pump some sort of happy medicine into the air there- everyone is so cheerful!

We spent two days at Disneyland- decided not to do California Adventure on this trip, since the kids are still young.  And we think it was a good choice. Ethan rode pretty much every ride in Disneyland (except Indiana Jones, which has a 46 inch height limit) and Vivian had a blast meeting pixies, princesses, Mickey and Co. and Winnie the Pooh and friends.  She was so excited to hug everyone and sweetly posed for oodles of pictures. It made me happy to see her so excited.

Ethan measured in at 40 inches exactly, so was able to ride not just the little roller coaster in Toontown, but also Space Mountain (which freaked me out!), Big Thunder Mountain and Star Tours. Star Tours was SO cool- we did that one twice and I would have ridden it more if we had more time. If you're going to Disneyland, do not miss that ride!

Okay, so what worked for us and what didn't.

1) LABEL YOUR CHILDREN.  Ethan and Vivian are what I refer to as "city trained". We do most of our errands on foot, so they are used to watching for cars and staying close to Mom and Dad, even when we aren't able to hold their hands.  So I was not worried about them running off and it didn't occur to me to put our phone numbers on the kids some place. And we were fine for most of the trip. Except for right after lunch on the first day.  We had met up with some friends from church (we actually randomly ran into them on the "Its a Small World" ride. Seriously, how ironic!) and went from four adults and two kids to six adults and four kids.  The other mom and I were walking ahead with our girls, and Ethan was holding hands with his little friend.  But the other mom and I didn't see that and didn't realize he was with us.  And Daniel and all the other adults saw Ethan with us and didn't realize that we didn't know.  Somewhere right at the door to Minnie's house, something happened and Ethan didn't make it inside.

So then we went all the way through Minnie's house and part of Mickey's house, then I went out to Daniel and commented "where is Ethan?" To which Daniel responded with the heart-stopping words "he's with H".  But I knew he wasn't, since I'd been with her for the past 15 minutes.  Fortunately we had lots of adults on hand, so we parked the little ones with the other dad and we split up.

And we found him within minutes of starting to look. He had done everything right- had stayed right where he was and a park worker found him and was waiting with him.  Daniel's mom got to him first and he was just a little upset then.  My poor brave boy!

Seriously, put a sticker on your kids or write your cell number on their arm in sharpie or put a note in their pocket and tell them to give it to a park worker. Kids get lost super fast and really often in Disneyland.

2) Bring lots of snacks.  We were able to save a lot of money by packing tons of snacks with us.  I brought ours from home since we were flying Southwest and had lots of free baggage, but there's a Target not too terribly far from Disneyland (easily accessible by the ART bus that serves the hotels and Disneyland), so you could pack up there too.  We brought water bottles and juice and snack bars and applesauce pouches and tons of other stuff with us into Disneyland and only ended up buying lunch there one day.  Saved a ton of money.

3) Most of the hotels are located on the same street as Disneyland, and there's a handy bus service that comes along about every 20 minutes and serves most of the hotels (different hotels are on different routes).  It's not expensive for a multiple day pass and you can use it as often as you want. We stayed at a budget hotel "three blocks" from Disneyland, but the blocks were huge and I think it was more like a mile and a half.  So the bus service was really handy and we were pleased with how easy it was to use.  We also really liked our hotel- it had a basic pool and hot tub, and a really nice free breakfast.  Our rooms also had a big fridge and a microwave, which also saved us a ton of money, as we were able to eat leftovers from earlier meals and also buy basics at Target and cook them in our rooms.

4) Maggie recommended buying the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and I am going to hug her next time I see her, because that was SUCH a good recommendation.  It is a great book with detailed information on every ride, including suggestions for which ages will like it/be afraid.  There are also suggested touring guides for different numbers of days at the park and age ranges.  This was so valuable to me- I knew exactly where we were going and having a plan took away so much stress. If I'd been trying to wrangle two kids, two seniors and my husband around the park with no plan, it would have been awful. Instead, we were pretty relaxed.  We did do a few of the Day 2 recommendations on our first day, if we were nearby and there was no line.

5) If you can go on a weekday, do it.  Our first day was Wednesday and our second was Friday and it was like being at a different park. Wednesday we had almost no lines for anything, even rides that the book said would almost always have super long waits. We never waited for anything longer than 25 minutes, even meeting princesses.

6) If you have little kids (four and under) and happen to have extra adults that might want to travel with you, take them.  Even though Daniel's parents didn't do many of the rides, they had fun watching the kids have fun. And it was so nice to be able to leave Vivian with them and be able to take Ethan on rides together. We also were able to leave the kids with them one evening and go back to the park to ride rides on our own and see the light show.  I was hesitant about the idea of them coming along, but it make all the difference in the world. 

I think that's all I can think of for right now. I'm so glad Ethan and I talked Daniel into this trip- it was a really fun time for all of us, and we have great memories of a wonderful multi-generation family trip.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's 6:45 PM and I'm still awake!

I'm pretty sure I was in bed by this time yesterday, and I know everyone in our home was asleep before sunset.  Two days at Disney, one day of swimming and two days of travel= so tired!  We had a blast and I have tons of suggestions and stories to share. Including the story of how we managed to lose Ethan in Disneyland and not notice for almost 15 minutes! (He's fine. We found him almost immediately once we noticed he was gone and he wasn't upset once we found him. But still. I'm pretty sure this is why I have a WHOLE BUNCH of new grey hairs).

Until then, photos from day 1. Apparently in random order but I am actually too tired to be crazy and re-do it.  That's seriously tired, people :)










Monday, April 16, 2012

It is so time to get this vacation on the road

Every time we go somewhere, I think "why do I never remember how much work it is to get ready to go somewhere!"  Because it is.  Although less so now that the kids are older. I'm excited for our first trip without having to pack diapers.  And we would be stroller-less, but we are going to we walking oodles at Disneyland and they (or I) may need a rest now and then.

We're packed, except for the stuff the kids need tonight.

I've done six "one last load before vacation" loads of laundry.

Daniel's off picking up his parents.

The house is clean and organized. That particular thing is thanks to my dad who was physically incapable of leaving a messy house when going on vacation. It's actually a neurosis that I'm happy to have.  Daniel shares it, as well as the "we must unpack and be completely through the mail and caught up on everything within 30 minutes of arriving back home". You should see us. I am not exaggerating, we're just a blur of movement and recycling mail and throwing things in the laundry when we get home. Again, glad to not be the only crazy one in my marriage.

We've got a doctor's note for Ethan's misc. pump equipment and formula and medication for his newest feeding tube irritation. So hopefully security won't be too awful.

And I'm working on relaxing and remembering that Daniel's parents will not be able to move at the speed at which I would like to move, but it's more important that they have a good time with the grandkids and that everyone has good memories.  If we have a longer line at an attraction, that's okay. (I will be continuing to explain this to myself all day tomorrow on the plane and probably for the whole time we're at Disney as well. Yes, I have issues). 

Oh, and if you live nearby and want a good laugh, be at the parking lot around 7:30 AM tomorrow. We're going to fit 4 adults (fortunately two of them are very small adults) and 2 kids, 4 suitcases, 3 backpacks, a large purse and 2 strollers in a Mazda 5. Daniel claims it can be done.  We're going to look like a clown car when we disembark at the park and ride.  :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The sun and I

The sun unexpectedly came out for Easter weekend, which means that we residents of Seattle were legally obligated to go outside and enjoy it.  My family had already decided to go to the zoo with a family from Daniel's work.  What we didn't know was that the rest of the population of Washington State was also heading to the zoo since it was 1) sunny, 2) spring break for some people and 3) the day when the zoo was having its egg hunt. 

Despite the crowds, we had a fun time at the zoo and, after some initial confusion and hesitance, the kids enjoyed the egg hunt immensely.
Oh yeah, before we went to the zoo we met the Easter Bunny at the grocery store



They're wearing their backpacks to practice for Disneyland

I don't remember what we did after the zoo.  Because I was busy being itchy. I should explain.

I've mentioned before that I am a 5th generation Pacific Northwesterner.  And I'm pretty much 100% of German descent (if you're my Facebook friend and know my maiden name and are thinking "that's not very German" it's because my dad was adopted by his stepdad).  I'm very, very pale. And I do not tan. I burn.  Sometimes just from looking at the sunshine. And last year I developed an honest to goodness sun allergy.  When I go out in the sun, I get red and blotchy and break out in hives and have bumps on my arms and neck for days.  My husband says helpful things like "eww! Look at your arms!".

So after being out in the sun on Saturday, I spent the rest of the weekend trying to stay in the shade and dodge the sun.  So that was fun.  Hanging out in Southern California next week should be interesting. I need to go stock up on my 100,000 SPF sun block.  

I'm very glad that I married someone with dark skin and that the kids are taking after him with his sun tolerance. 

Easter was nice too- I even got Vivian to briefly wear the hat that I bought for her last year. The kids were very excited about their Easter baskets and then we had a nice time at church (even though we were working in the nursery and didn't actually go to the service). 


Chocolate!


Vivian decided she liked the outfit better without the hat and with pink Dora socks

Now we're back to gloomy weather, but it's Wednesday and the week is halfway over and this time next week I'll be dragging five family members all around the happiest place on earth. So it's all good.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Love Languages

Because I am a good mother, I just sacrificed my own waistline and ate part of the kids' Easter candy, after I started putting it in their baskets and realized how much I'd accumulated over the last month.  The things we moms do for our children :)

I have been thinking about the love languages a lot lately.  A few weeks ago I read the 5 Love Languages of Children book for the review blog (and I'm giving away a copy, if you're interested, drop by the other blog!) and so it's been on my mind since then.  And then earlier this week I was having a conversation with a friend about love languages and she was telling me that she recently had a situation when her husband just couldn't speak her love languages and it made a tough situation worse.

I had one of those moments this morning. I got back from my "run" and was in a snotty mood and just couldn't shake it. And every time I made a comment about it, Daniel would hug me or try to kiss me.  Which a lovely sentiment, but the exact worst thing to do in the situation, because I DO NOT LIKE TO BE TOUCHED!  It's one of my biggest struggles with motherhood- the constant physical touching.  I'm just not that type of a person. In grad school I used to make my friends laugh with the personal space bubble that I required for sitting in class. 

And now I have a co-sleeper who feels like she cannot get close enough to me, and so my tolerance for touching is pretty much used up by the time the alarm goes off in the morning.

The funny thing about this is that when we were dating, Daniel was super cautious and uncomfortable with public displays of affection, so it took a long time to get him to hold my hand or kiss me in public. I knew we were serious when he kissed me goodbye in the Asian supermarket, in front of crowds of Asian people. 

This is definitely something we need to work on. I need to give him more hugs and kisses and snuggles. And I need to not bristle when he tries to comfort me with a hug- he's just expressing love the best he can.  But I also need to keep working on making him understand that my love languages are gifts and words of affirmation, and either of those will go much further in making me feel loved than a hug.

Now, I feel that I must return to protecting my children from sugar overload by eating more of their Easter candy.  I am so dedicated and self-sacrificing....