Friday, January 2, 2015

30 Happy Things

Birthdays make most of us reflect on our lives and think about how the time is passing. New Years does the same thing. So when your birthday is on New Years day, I'd say I get a pass on being a sentimental fool for a few days. So in the reflecting I've been doing, I realized a few things. First, 30 sounds so old when you're a kid, seems so far in the future. But it's here so fast and you quickly realize, you have to pay attention, or life is literally going to pass you by. Second, 30 is not old. If you disagree, talk to my 88 year old grandma. And third, I am ridiculously happy with where my life is. Much more happy than I would have ever imagined being. And with a much different life than I imagined for myself. So here are some of those things that make me happy, in no particular order and with as little editing as possible.
  1. The happy "good morning, mommy" from Sebastian every day.
  2. The giant grin on Oscar's face every day when I say "good morning!"
  3. Brian's tossled curls every morning.
  4. A promising career and a job I actually enjoy going to.
  5. A husband who will throw me a surprise party.
  6. Friends who will come to said party, even though they only had a weeks notice. 
  7. Friends with kids who are going through the same things as us on this parenting journey.
  8. Friends without kids who don't mind spending time with our crazy family.
  9. Running.
  10. Yoga.
  11. Biking to work.
  12. Seeing huge trees when I step out my front door.
  13. Rain and all the life it brings.
  14. Cooking and baking for family and friends.
  15. Being able to afford healthy food.
  16. Being challenged daily by my children.
  17. Living with a houseful of boys.
  18. Parents that love being grandparents.
  19. In-laws who I love like a second set of parents.
  20. A husband who does everything for his kids.
  21. Friends that have stayed friends for years and across hundreds of miles.
  22. Family and friends that drive hundreds of miles to come visit.
  23. Burning Man.
  24. Camping.
  25. Hiking with Brian.
  26. Watching the complete happiness of our greyhound Ginger as she sprints.
  27. The Oregon coast.
  28. Learning to love who I am.
  29. Being with the same amazing man since I was 16.
  30. All the amazing sunsets I have seen and have yet to see.

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica 5/1/2012

Black Rock City, 9/12/2012

Oregon Coast, 9/22/2012

Bald Peak, OR 1/1/2015

UPDATE: I forgot one of the best things ever. Listening to Brian play his music.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mouthful of Exhaust

I like riding my bike to work. The only way I'm able to make time to exercise during the week is by using my commute, so riding and running are perfect. Not to mention it saves on gas money and pollution. It's a win-win really. But anyone who's ever ridden in even mild traffic knows that sometimes your ride can suck.

You'll be huffing and puffing up a steep hill and some old piecer or diesel truck comes whizzing by with black smog pouring out of his tailpipe. You quickly switch to trying to breathe out only for fear of getting a mouthful of exhaust. Seriously there are days I wonder if riding in traffic is counter productive. Exercise is supposed to be good for your body but I can't help think I might one day end up with lung cancer from inhaling all these fumes.

A diesel truck hauling ass past always startles me and the gust of wind from it actually makes me swerve. Or maybe that's just from fear while imagining him swerving into my little lane and taking me out.

Getting stuck behind a city bus can suck. Trying to pass the bus while they're at a stop taking up my lane is quite scary since I'm never sure when they're gonna take off. Sometimes the timing is not in my favor and I pass them, only for them to pass me, and then me to catch up to them again at the next stop.

Drivers that like to slowly creep out while waiting to turn make me very nervous as I have no idea what they're gonna do or if they see me. Make eye contact people. That's the only way I know you see me.

There is A LOT of road kill. Squirrels, birds, cats, raccoons, skunks, possums, and completely unidentifiable animals end up smeared all over the road. The saddest to see is definitely cats as you know they probably belonged to someone. I have no sympathy for squirrels however since they seem to be constantly playing chicken.

There is a lot of debris in the bike lane, including the aforementioned road kill. Pine cones, garbage, and broken glass are the most common. Other interesting things I've seen are tree branches, hub caps, underwear, socks, shoes, hair ties, toys, bike locks, and full dirty diapers. Seriously people, use a fucking trash can. It's cleaner here than it was in Reno but still I'm appalled at the crap (literally) people will throw out the window. And smokers, cigarettes are still litter damn it! The planet is not your ashtray.

So if you see a biker riding on the edge of the bike lane and you think, what the hell are they doing? They're more than likely dodging something potentially nasty or dangerous. Road bikes have high pressure tires so we do NOT want to roll over anything if we can help it. Popping a 90psi tire is probably scary as shit and I have no desire to find out how tough my tires are not while flying down a busy road.

I actually had someone honk at me for being in the bike lane at a stop light, because she wanted to turn right. Sorry peeps, the bike lane is for, wait for it..... BIKES! I don't care if you use it to turn right when no one is in it but don't honk at me unless I deserve it.

So please, when you're driving, get in the habit of checking the bike lane. My 15 year old helmet isn't going to save my brain if you hit me going 45. No helmet would. But that reminds me I should get a new one. Anyways as you can see, there are many things that happen on the road that you don't always notice in a car. I really wish every driver would ride their bike in traffic a few times so they understand what it's like, and maybe take better care to watch out for cyclists when they're behind the wheel.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Things I never thought I'd say to my children...

...keeping in mind Sebastian is not even 5 yet....
  • Eat your pizza so you can have ice cream.
  • Quit eating your boogers.
  • Your friends won't like you if you don't wipe your nose.
  • It's only ok to call babies fat.
  • Quit yelling at strangers and eat your food.
  • You don't need to tell me every time you fart. Especially in public.
  • Don't lick me.
  • Get your hands out of your mouth.
  • Get your hands out of your pants. If you want to play with yourself, go to your room.
  • It doesn't matter how big your penis is. Quit talking about your penis.
  • If you eat vegetables, your penis will get bigger. (That was all Brian)
  • Don't talk about your penis, farts, poop, or boogers in front of girls. Remember Mommy is a girl.
  • No we can't pee at the same time.
  • You can only pee on a tree when you're camping. You cannot do that at the park. Pull your pants up.
  • You have to put pants on if you want to go outside.
  • Quit sticking your naked butt in the air.
  • Quit slapping my butt.
  • Quit touching my boobs.
  • You shouldn't say fuck, you'll get in trouble at preschool
  • Which one of your girlfriends did you play with today?
  • Do your girlfriends kiss you on the mouth?
  • No you can't play video games and watch TV all day.
And the worst one, the one I swore I'd never say to my kids, but have now said at least a dozen times because I can't think of an answer to his million whys...
Because I said so.

This makes it sound like he's a monster but these are things that are not said every day...mostly. I'd like to assume some of the more perverted things he says and does are not JUST because he's a boy... right? Someone with a daughter help me out here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The First Struggles of Neurofibromatosis

I am long overdue on a post about  Sebastian's NF1 (if you don't know what that is, you can read my other posts about it). After his eye exam last spring, we took a break from doctors. We decided there was no need until he started showing other symptoms. Sadly that time has come. Left on our list of doctors to try is just the neurodevelopment center. I was unable to get ahold of them when we first found out about this (almost 2 years ago... holy crap I don't believe it's been that long). We finally got a return call when we tried this time and we were able to get him appointments for physical therapy, and a pediatric neurologist, which isn't until March of next year! A doctor booking out that far...what is he, a magician? I'm betting he'll just charge us an insane amount of money to tell us what we've already heard. Nonetheless, I'd like to cover all our options and make sure Sebastian is getting all the care he needs.

At this point, it is hard to tell exactly what problems he is having from this disorder. Many of the things on the lists of complications from NF1 (things like ADD, socialization problems, balance and coordination, etc.) are things that can easily be explained away by his age. Most 4 year olds can't concentrate on one task for long, fall sometimes, or say awkward things in public. How are we supposed to know when it's from NF1? I think the answer is, we don't. We guess and hope we're right.

At this point, we do think it is delaying his physical development a bit. Most obvious is running, jumping, and writing. He seems to have muscle weakness and coordination issues. Brian took him to his first physical therapy appointment last month. It went well and he thinks it will really help Sebastian's physical development issues. The therapist said keeping him active like we're doing is the best thing we can do. It was reassuring to hear that we were on the right track to helping him. We hope to get him into regular physical therapy, but are trying to figure out how to afford it (one visit cost us $330!). Interesting that you can get an entire bottle of narcotics for $10 but something that's actually good for you costs hundreds of dollars. And by interesting I mean fucked up.

The other issue that is affecting Sebastian is writing. He is very intelligent (biased I know, but true). He knows all his letters and numbers, the sounds each letter makes, and is even learning how to sound out words and basic math. But he lacks the muscle strength to write. He can write ok with markers or draw on a touch screen, but using a pencil or crayon is very difficult for him. He gets tired quickly and quite upset if we make him practice for long. I think part of that is because his muscles really do hurt or tire quickly and the other part is that they have him practice so much at preschool that he's sick of it.

He's starting to notice that some things are a lot more difficult for him then they are for other kids his age. We're being honest and telling him that yes, he will have to work harder than most for certain things. His preschool teacher said he told her "I'm trying very hard!", as if he was concerned she thought he wasn't. She knows he is and is well aware that he just wants to keep up with all the other kids. I gave her some information about his disorder the other day so maybe that will help. We put off doing so until there was an issue because we didn't want him getting treated differently unless it was necessary.  She was thankful for the info. We're very grateful he has a teacher that cares enough about her students to learn about his disorder.

The discussions with his teacher broke my heart a little. Brian and I are guilty of writing him off as lazy sometimes, which means many people throughout his life will likely do the same. We have to constantly stop and remind ourselves that maybe whatever it is, is not laziness but something that is truly more difficult or causing pain or discomfort for him. It's so hard to find the balance between treating him like a normal kid, and treating him like a kid with a neurological disorder. I feel if we constantly use that as an excuse to expect less from him, then he won't try as hard to succeed. But on the flip side of course, it would be unfair to have "normal" expectations on things that are being hindered by this disorder. We're hoping as he gets older, it will be easier to tell what is a true complication and what isn't. In the meantime, our best guesses will have to suffice and we will continue to help him in any way we can.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Oscar- 6 Months Old!

Oscar turned 6 months old on the 22nd (Yes I'm over 2 weeks late on this post, such is life). The last 6 months have gone by in a blur of kids and work. I thought time moved fast with one kid but with two we're rocketing through life at the speed of light. It's a little ridiculous.

So at his checkup he was:
  • 26" tall- 21st percentile
  • 16 lbs 8oz- 30th percentile
  • 44.5 cm head circumference- 82nd percentile
Yep another smaller than average boy with a giant brain. I'm good with that. I have no weird sports dreams or goals for my kids, only hope is they stay healthy. Although Oscar's physical development is right on track. When Sebastian was this age he started to slow down on physical milestones. He still reached them all, just took a long time. We're assuming now that was probably from his NF1, but who knows. If it was, I'm hoping this means Oscar doesn't have it but it's too soon to tell without the blood test, which we're not going to do unless he gets all the symptoms Sebastian has. (More on Sebastian's NF1 next post.)

So back to Oscar. He can:
  • Sit up unassisted, and get from sitting to belly
  • Rollover
  • Scoot
  • Jump as high as his jumper seat will allow
  • Push his upper body off the floor (for yogis, I mean upward dog, not just cobra, he can get his knees off the ground too!)
  • Pull his knees under his body while belly down- he is very close to crawling
Now I'm sure all of this is perfectly normal for a 6 month old, but for us it seems a bit fast. Sebastian was only rolling at this age. I'm afraid Oscar will be a much more physical kid than Sebastian. Like one of those kids that scares the shit out of me because they're running and jumping before they're a year old. Brian's excited about this, but as a mother, I'm scared. Sebastian's slower development made many things a lot easier. I mean he just started climbing over the baby gate at the top of the stairs! It's a lot less scary when they're 4 (and a half!) than when they're 2 or whenever most kids do it. After all, a cautious kid is one without broken bones or blood gushing out of them. But I am of course very happy and thankful that Oscar is happy and healthy. I just hope we can keep him in one piece!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Makes Your Baby Sleep?

Sleep. The one thing all parents of newborns want more than anything. For some lucky parents, the sleepless phase will only last a few short months. For others, it can last years. I've heard and read many different ideas parents try to get their kids to sleep. It seems that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm starting to think it mostly depends on the individual child's needs and personality.

We have now had both experiences. Sebastian slept through the night occasionally during his first two years of life. We did some sleep training but he got sick a lot when we tried daycare so it was difficult to be consistent. After we stopped daycare it got better, but even now at 4 (and a half! as he would remind me) he still wakes up occasionally with either leg cramps (just growing pains I'm hoping?), bad dreams, or just to drink water (at least he can do this last one on his own). But I can't get him to wake up and go potty in the middle of the night. Sigh....

Oscar started sleeping through the night (my definition of this is at least 8 hours straight) at about 7 weeks old. He wakes up maybe a couple of times a month, but mostly he's sleeping between 8 and 11 hours straight, knock on wood (where the hell did that phrase come from anyway? What does wood have to do with being lucky? I don't get it.) He is a horrible napper, so that's the trade-off, but I'll take my nighttime sleep! We did several things different with Oscar that we think helped:
  • Started a bedtime routine in the first 6 weeks- bath or sponge bath, change into sleeper, nurse for 20-40 minutes in his room, put down in his crib
  • Moved him from bassinet to crib at about 7 weeks- he started sleeping through the night right after we did this
  • Allow him to grunt and fuss a little if he wakes up or is still asleep when we lay him down- we don't go to him unless he's really crying
  • We never used a pacifier- thanks to Brian, I would've never made it through the fussy newborn stage without one if it wasn't for his patience. Sebastian had a pacifier off and on until he was 2. He went through phases where he'd wake up and cry every time he spit out his pacifier. We didn't want that experience again. Yes this means Oscar sucks his thumb. No I'm not worried about it. Odds are both kids will need braces anyway since both Brian and I had them. And you can't put a price on sleep.

Now I want to hear your thoughts. What makes your baby sleep through the night? Did you have different experiences with different kids? Did what you do or don't do seem to make a difference? Or are some kids just naturally good sleepers and others aren't?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Asthma is Sexy
Well I don't know about that, but that shirt always makes me laugh.
If you could hear the nasty cough I had last month,
you would know why I'm doubting asthma's sexiness. 
Well let me tell you just how not sexy my asthmatic journey has been. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 7 years old. As a young child it was mostly illness induced. I didn't have any serious attacks until track in 8th grade. Running was my biggest challenge all through high school. Instead of avoiding that which aggravated me most (running fast and/or long distances outside in the sagebrush), I, like any good, rebellious teenager, made it my new favorite thing.

Many, many asthma attacks later, I finally came to the place where I realized how incredibly unhealthy it was to push myself to the point of passing out. I had to admit I had limits that should be respected. By this time I was in college so I backed off of running, but did not find relief from my asthma. One particularly nasty illness caused lots of problems. It escalated to what I thought was a bad enough attack I had Brian take me to the ER. When I got there they tested my oxygen saturation and said I was fine and just needed to calm down. I became angry with the doctor for not listening to me and left the hospital against medical advice. As I was leaving I realized that my breathing had gotten better on its own. This was when I started to realize my asthma attacks might be partially anxiety.

I was embarrassed at the idea that many of my attacks might have just been anxiety.  I wasn't faking it after all, I was really having a hard time breathing. The problem is that once you've had a bad asthma attack, you know exactly how scary the feeling is of not being able to breathe. So once anything triggers your asthma, the natural reaction is to immediately panic, causing an anxiety attack that feels a hell of a lot like an asthma attack. Once I was able to understand and admit this, I was able to learn how to control it.

For me, controlling it required the following:
  1. Learn how to breathe properly- this meant yoga with lots of practice on breathing techniques.
  2. Learn anxiety control- again more yoga and also meditation and relaxation.
  3. Healthy diet- low on mucous producing foods like dairy, sugar, and alcohol.
  4. Regular exercise- lots of cardio keeps the mucous and swelling in the bronchial tubes to a minimum.
Once I did these things consistently, my asthma improved drastically and I was able to stay off of all medications. I even learned how to handle playa dust at Burning Man, which our first year there scared me away after a few short days. I became confident enough that I didn't even carry my inhaler or consider myself an asthmatic.

But asthma is a sneaky punk and I have recently been reminded that it still lingers in my body if I don't take care of myself. So far this year, I have been sick more days than I've been well. Last month my cough got so bad I started having asthma symptoms for the first time in about 5 years. I not only had to get an inhaler and use it a few times, the doctor even gave me a breathing treatment when I was in the office. I'd almost forgotten how much I absolutely HATE asthma medicine. Side effects from hell and such temporary relief it's just not worth it. I tried going to an allergy and asthma specialist to see if it was maybe seasonal allergy related. My breathing tests showed my asthma was sucking it up as expected but the allergy test came back negative. The doctor wanted to put me on a steroid inhaler. He was hesitant to fully recommend it since I'm still breastfeeding. He admitted studies done on children taking asthma medicine showed it stunts their growth (wonder if this is why I'm short? Awesome.). Also there are very little studies done on the effects of steroids in breast milk. I decided against taking the steroids. Not just because I'm breastfeeding though, I wouldn't take them anyway unless I was unable to breathe at all and had no other choice. I spent many years in my teens and early twenties on steroid inhalers, nasal sprays, and allergy meds and my asthma never improved. It wasn't until I followed the above steps and quit the medications that it improved. The doctor did not believe this, which I think is sad. Why are doctors so reluctant to believe in natural remedies? How many other asthmatics could be helped by lifestyle changes I wonder? How many people are taking unnecessary medications? I hope other asthmatics read my post and give other options a try. I am not telling anyone to quit their meds, just encouraging a healthy lifestyle to see if your symptoms improve. I am clearly not a doctor. Just a healthy living advocate!

So my plan is to get back in shape as quickly as I can manage. A challenge these days as a second kid is obviously quite time consuming. I can do a lot by being stricter on my diet, which I have done the past month and already seen an improvement. It will probably take awhile to get back where I was, but it will be so worth it to be healthy and asthma free again. And to of course be able to put the sexiness back in asthma.

After my 10k race 3/3/2013
Maybe not sexy, but damn cute