Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa Claus Magic

The kids know who Santa Claus is.  How could you not?  They go to daycare and preschool, so they know about the guy with the white beard and the red coat.  Nala's daycare owner asked Kaio, "What did you ask Santa to bring you?"
He didn't know what she was talking about.  I told her that we don't give gifts from Santa at home.  I just never thought to perpetuate the Santa myth in my house.  It seemed silly.  Why should we pretend?  

Then something magical happened that made me change face and realize that next year we are going to embrace the Santa Claus Magic.  

Christmas eve Kaio was downstairs with my mom while I was baking a traditional Romanian holiday cake (only making it gluten free ;)) She comes upstairs to tell me that the TV just asked Kaio what he wanted from Santa Claus and he said responded to the TV, "A propeller airplane!"

She was freaking out,  "We have to get him a propeller airplane, he said that is what he wants from Santa."

Well there was not much that I could do at that point, being 5:30pm on Christmas eve just an hour before we were set to leave for my dad's Christmas Eve dinner.  Kaio did already have a wooden propeller airplane, and I thought I could box that up and gift to him.  lol.  as if he wouldn't remember it was already his.

A bit later when Mari returned home, I asked Kaio myself, "What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?"

Again, he responded he wanted a propeller airplane.  Then I started to really distress, like, oh no.  I guess that he really does want one.
I looked to Mari, "What do we do?"  
He half smiled with assurance, "Don't worry, I have something."  

There was the magic.  Two days ago Mari had visited a craft store to buy some candy for his coworkers and saw an airplane kit that he felt compelled to get for Kaio.  We don't usually exchange gifts.  The kids get plenty of gifts from extended family.  So why should we go out and purchase more toys?  Mari did not seek a toy for Nala.  Just this one model airplane that he thought Kaio would like.  Oh, and it happened to be a propeller airplane too.

I would have never guessed on the first shot that this would be Kaio's Santa wish.  He is so much more into trains than anything else.  So I really believe that Santa was out there, watching for his kids; making sure that all the little ones have their Christmas wishes come true.  Even if their parents don't believe.

On Christmas when we were almost done exchanging the gifts and when Kaio was siting down with his uncle building a Lego firetruck - and in-the-zone, I brought Kaio the bag and said it was from Santa.  He opened it and was slightly interested that it was a plane.  But when he saw the propellers, he turned ecstatic.  
Stop the press on the Lego truck, we've got to build this propeller plane now!

He carried it around all day, proud that Santa had heard him and brought him a plane.  "Look Santa Claus brought me a propeller airplane for Christmas!"  One little kid in a world of billions, getting his modest wish.

That was our magic.  And now I'm not going to consider Santa as a myth that we have to lie and pretend about.  I'm going to see this as an opportunity to imagine.  How often do we get to play out fantasy as adults anyways?  So I'm going to embrace the chance to role play and we will go all out next year.  Cookies and milk and all.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sweet Long days

Mari's sisters took Kaio to Orlando with them to Epcot and Sea World.  That meant four days with only one kid.  is it bad for me to admit that life was sooo much easier for those few days?
He often talks in his sleep, and they said that while he slept one day he said, "I miss you mommy." I melted.

Nala really missed him.  She kept calling him on her pretend telephone.  "Hi Kako, you're in Florida with Boni...etc etc etc."

He is back home now.

We went to the Baltimore Science Center today.  And on the way home drove through the Symphony of Lights. The kids loved seeing so many Christmas lights.  We thought it was a bit overpriced though ($20).

Now I'm exhausted.  good night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beware the December Baby

The holiday spirit's a bit stiffed by the birthday mayhem.  Nala turned two years old this week and we threw a party for her at a local gym.  I made a quinoa flour butterfly cake, which she adored!  One parent even asked for the recipe, which made me feel good since Kaio's birthday cake this year kinda flopped.
The kids had a great time running around and climbing like wild monkeys.  We made them goodie bags with wooden crafts, finger puppets from Ikea, and fake tattoos.  Now today we've been making thank you cards for the folks that came.
The only bummer, which I expected, is that most of the presents are not keepers in my book and are going straight to Toys for Tots.  Disney Princess Memory Flash Cards, Toy Story TM something, Little People Castle, and cheap plastic stuff from China.  I'm worried about the potential toxins in these.  This year I made an Amazon wish list for each of the kids and sent to family, hoping this would ward off the toxic commercialized toys.  It, urr, helped.  But the Zuzu pets and pretend plastic cupcakes still ended up being gifted (the Zuzu pets are pretty cute, I must say).  It didn't help at all with the gifts from friends at daycare, of course, and I'm wondering if maybe I should have said something in the invitation.  Like, "wood toys only please."  But that just seems so pretentious.
The other issue with this December birthday is that in all the planning, I lost two weeks of Christmas prep.  Didn't send out Christmas cards and half-heartedly decorated the house.  Now, I'm scrambling send care packages and order gifts off the internet.  One of my friends suggested celebrating Nala's half birthday instead.  That way it would not blend with Christmas.  I think that is a fabulous idea.  Then we could have her birthday at a park instead of inside!  But, Mari thinks it is totally insane to change someone's birthday just for convenience!  I guess it does sound a bit absurd, but i really think it would be best for everyone.
Well, my lesson learned is better birth planning.  No more conceiving in March - May.  I'm going to aim to have my next kid born on a warm month.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm Mad at You

About a week ago Mari and I had a fight.  or, maybe not a fight because we did not argue about anything.  More like a disruption where I got so mad at him that I didn't talk to him for three days.  That is a really long time, right!  We are generally a pretty happy couple.  I'd even venture to say 90-95% of the time I'm super in love.  So this was the biggest disruption ever.
I'm happy to say that we worked it out and eventually talked it out.  It didn't take long once we started talking!  I guess I'm pretty stubborn.
So here is the deal.  Mari usually pics up Nala from daycare and I pick up Kaio from Montessori.  Every last day of the month Mari works really late and we usually coordinate someone else to pick her up.  I haven't picked her up on the end of the month in at least three months because it has fallen on days that I'm home with the kids anyways.  So this was not at the front of my mind when the end of the month November came.  Mari didn't pick up Nala from daycare and I get a call from the owner at 7pm wondering what is going on.  I didn't realize that it was the end of the month.  I didn't realize that he was not going to pick her up.  He never told me to go get her.  So when I got the call from Nala's daycare, I was completely blindsided.  I called him trying to figure out where he was, and when I called his work, and he answered: I flipped out!  It is so awful to think of Nala wondering where her parents have gone.  I started jumping up and down screaming about how I didn't know that I needed to pick her up.  He hung up on me after my first breath.  I called back and he hung up on me again.  So then I booked it all the way to daycare, just fuming.  I didn't get there until 7:30 at night.  This was the third time that he had not picked her up for some reason and expected me to know that I should do it - without telling me.  I was so mad.   We never agreed that I would always pick her up at the end of the month.  If I had known that was my responsibility then I would set a reminder on my calendar.  And, it is so easy for him to just IM me during the day to remind me.
When he came home and didn't apologize, or bring chocolates, I stayed mad.  I kept to myself and kept quiet.  It seems pretty silly now to hold it in like that.  But I wasn't going to initiate the conversation, he hung up on me twice already.  It was his turn to start talking.
When Saturday came, my friend called to confirm that we were going to dinner with her on Sunday.  I told her about the miscommunication fight.  She agreed that I had a right to be angry, but it needed to end at this point.  "You guys love each other so much, just go have some great make-up sex and figure out what you need to do so that it doesn't happen again."  She threatened to call him if I didn't go make up by the end of the day.  lol.
I was still stubborn though.  I didn't want to talk to him until he apologized to me!
Eventually he did ask what was going on.  "I'm mad at you"  sputtered out of me.
"I'm mad at you because you don't ask for help when you need it.  You don't realize all the things I have to keep track of already.  You inconvenienced Nala's daycare.  All you had to do was tell me to pick her up and I would have done it."
So we talked a bit.  Turns out that when I called him and started screaming, the new boss was sitting next to him.  That's why he hung up and that is why he was mad at me.  I think now he understands that my job has just become too consuming lately for me to retain information longer than a couple hours.  Making the connection that it is the end of the month and that means I have to pick up Nala when I don't usually do it... hmm I dropped the ball on that one.  That day at work was awful for me.  I accidentally deleted a huge website that my team had been working on for months. So I was distraught and just didn't think about it being the end of the month.
So yeah.  I'm going to set a reminder on my calendar!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today was a Good Day

After successful recoveries from the week long virus, today the kids and I resumed our exploratory outings.  Oh how nice it was to get some air out there.  Our Mondays together usually take on an unschooling like feel.  I sometimes plan in advance where we will go, but only when I'm really itching to check out something new.  Today I had no idea.  I just knew that we had to get out of the house.  I was essentially, looking to them to lead. Unfortunately, just asking them "what do you want to do today" does not work so well.  They are stumped as well.  So I initiated random conversation at breakfast to try to get some ideas.
Kaio had a dinosaur shirt on.  That got us talking about dinosaurs.  What do they eat?  How do they eat?  What noises do they make?  We were having a grand old time acting as brontosaurus.  Then it came to me: the Natural History Museum has dinosaur bones.  They were totally on board to see some dinosaur bones. But.... that doesn't mean that they could get dressed with the shoes on in less than forty five minutes!
So I realized there wasn't enough time to go into the city and make my afternoon work meetings.  Bummer.  
I took them to River Bend Park instead.  No dinosaurs, but they do have snakes, a frog, fish, and lizard, so that was slightly on topic.  There is a visitor's center with exhibits on regional animals and plants.  It was pretty cool to check out, although the taxidermy may have scared the kids a bit.  Particularly the owl snatching the squirrel.  I didn't lie to them at first, "He's taking the squirrel back to his nest to eat it."  that got them very very upset.  So then, "I mean, the owl is giving the squirrel a ride."
Kaio was very into reading signs and attempted to interpret every sign he saw.  Nala was just chillin, enjoying everything and checking out the animals.  We spent about 15 minutes at a small ornamental pond, tossing nature in the water to see what floated and what sank.  Then we made little boats out of leaves.  We found a long stick and used it to measure the dept of the water.  It was a lot deeper than I though, almost as high as Nala.  That got me worried about an excited kid slipping in, and we left the activity.  I brought apples and carrots for snack ( I have learned that I need to bring snacks for myself as well as them so I don't get short tempered).  We ate by the water while examining a guide to native bugs that I picked up from the visitor center.  The kids were able to correctly identify the Stink Bug and a couple other really common ones.  I'm going to keep this handy to reference whenever we find a new bug around the house.
After lunch and nap we went to visit 'grandma Helen' at the assisted living community.  The last time we went there was a disaster.  Nala really wanted to go and visit with Helen's iguana, Iggy.  Kaio did not want to go.  I was very clear and upfront with him about what was going to happen.  My mom was home and I gave him the choice to stay with her or come with us.  He wanted to come but did not want to visit grandma Helen.  I was very firm that Nala and I were going.  He did want to come but once we arrived did not want to get out of the car.  Last time he did this I let him stay in the car; this time I told him that I was not going to let him stay in the car.  I was firm but also patient.  He thought about it for a second, "Ok."
After that we went to the library.  Nala picked up a book on dinosaurs and Kaio on big building machines.  Overall the day was a great success.  We all had a fabulous time exploring.  
After dinner I had to pick my mom's cousin up from the hospital and give her a ride home.  Her mother is in very grave condition.  Kaio asked to come with me to give his 'aunt' a ride.  I think he sensed that something was wrong because once we picked her up he started saying that he did not feel well.  I'm pretty sure he was remembering something sad that happened at the hospital, like when his great grandfather was there.  So then as my 'aunt' is giving me the scoop and the status on her mom, he keeps interrupting to talk to her.  The playful distraction seemed to really make her feel better.  When we dropped her off he said, "I love you Aunt XX" twice with such dedication and sincerity.  She was truly touched and I could tell that she needed that.  When he sees or senses sadness, he responds with concern and tries to cheer the person up.  That is something that his daycare expressed to me too.  He'll walk up to a sad kid to try to help.
When we got home he continued being a sweety.  And.just a few days ago I was considering leaving him on a church step!  Well that was pretty nasty of me.  
There are good days and there are bad.  Today was a good one.  On top of all that adventure, I cleaned the kitchen, swept the floor, changed the sheets and the filter, made tea for my mom, glued a birdhouse together, directed Mari to buy materials to construct a composter, attended three meetings via phone, and got some work done after the kids went to bed.  Phew, now it is time for tomorrow.  

Friday, November 26, 2010


He seems so nice and eager to please
sincere smile
not a crocodile
old fashioned charm makes you feel at ease
but he still ain't enough
maybe she likes it rough
it looks to me like she's playing to tease
I know that game
I've done the same
but not since I was seventeen

she went on a singles cruise
proly drank a buncha booze
he was back here waiting to hear that she missed his company
but instead she's boarding again
off to hang out with other men
well then don't complain anymore about being lonely

he must really like her
to stand beside her
when she introduces him to the family as just a "friend"

I don't mean to imply that she should settle
if it ain't right, tell him to take a hike

I just don't get her style, if she wants him to stay for a while
why play the tween games?  men aren't all the same
there are good and there are bad, recognize what you have
don't knock the nice guys down, just to see how long they'll stick around
and then come saying to me, "all they want is sex"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How do you Help a Psycho Overemotional Mellow-Dramatic Whiner?

This week I've felt like I'm just doing a really bad job as a mom.  The kids have been sick.  Well they are better now.  But Kaio specifically has been a very unhappy camper.  No matter what situation he is in, he finds something to get upset about.  He'll be playing with his new Thomas lego set, and start screaming and freaking out about one of the characters, yelling for help.  Then, if I come and help, and something goes wrong - like the off kilter bridge he has constructed falls down - he starts yelling at me, "No Mom! no! you broke it!  you go time out mom! go time out!"  
  • If I say, "OK, I'm going to time out"  and I walk away, then he'll chase after me and start pulling me back and yelling about how bad I am.  
  • If I stay and try to fix it, "It's ok, we can fix it" then he'll keep screaming and crying about how I broke and I'm bad and should go in time out.  He may throw it or break it.
  • If I pick him up and try to take him to a quiet place, then he'll kick his legs and squirm out of my arms.
  • If I stop and try to rationalize with him, he'll keep screaming 'No!' and tell me to stop talking.
And no matter what option I try to get us through that episode.  It repeats itself every 15 minutes.  I found that the best solution for me is to threaten to take the toy away, "Kaio, we only play with toys that make us happy and if this toy is making you sad, then we will put it away."  Kaio will then at least make an effort to resolve his frustration without erupting into furry.  But, that does not get to the source of the problem.  He needs coping mechanisms to help him deal with frustrations. 
Mari wont play with him anymore, because he cries too much.  Isn't that sad.  I have to make him play with his son.

I just don't know what to do.  I have been so patient this week since he is not feeling well.  But I'm starting to feel like no approach helps him relate to the world better.  I just can't figure out how to make him a happy healthy kid.  And I don't have time to go out and read parenting books!  I'm already reading three books:

1.  A Lean software development book for work.  ugh!  and here I just need to exclaim how annoyed I am to have to read a book for work - on my own time.

2. Weston A. Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration book.  This 500 page book of anthropological dentistry and nutrition studies is rocking my world.  The book lays out empirical studies on native cultures around the world, and demonstrates the commonalities in their diets that lead to optimum health. What I love about this book is that the findings are so significant - one entire swiss village of 2000 people is so healthy that they don't even have a doctor.  I love that the studies talk about real people and real food, and the books are not tied to any products being marketing.  Just the facts with nothing for sale.

3. Some Conservative ideology classic.  My brother and I have started a book swap.  So he gives me something to read and I give him.  I told him I don't have time to 'read' so he got me the book on audio and I can listen to it at work.  I haven't figured out how to log on to the website to listen yet, lol.  I'll get there.  I'm asking him to read the Omnivore's Dilemma in exchange.

Parenting books I have read have not provided solutions.  I realize some pieces of insight and tactics that help, but no book really speaks to me as a guide for how to raise my kids.  So far, I finish the books feeling like their kids are so much easier than mine!  (or how I was when I was a kid for that matter).
And I don't mean to blame Kaio for being difficult.  It is not his fault.  I fully believe that it is my responsibility as the adult to understand him and recognize what he needs to thrive.  If only I were smart enough to do that! 
And although books may help, I'm not going to find the answers to success in a book.  It has to come from our relationship and my heart and intuition.  It is something I have to earn through love and dedication.
But if I try and try and try to figure out how to make him happy and still don't succeed, then what?  Today I was debating leaving him on the steps of a church.  
lol.  what an awful thing to say huh?  But I was starting to feel like someone else would do a better job at raising my kid than I could do.  

OK, here is an example situation.
Setting: Mom is sleeping soundly in bed after a staying up late finishing a deliverable for work.
Kaio: Mom!  my pants are wet!
Mom: (groggy) Take them off!
Kaio:  I need fresh clean pants!
Mom: Ok, you can get some.  Give me minute, I'm sleeping.
Kaio: (immediately crying and screaming)  Mom I need pants, my pants are wet!
Mom gets out of bed and stumbles in the room to help
Mom:  Here you go, fresh clean pants and underwear, lets go put your pants and sheets in the washing machine.  
Kaio: No, I don't want any pants, I don't want to put on pants, no!
Mom:  ok, then why did you yell at me to get out of bed and give you pants if you don't want them?  I'm going back to bed.
Kaio: No!  Come back!  Help!
Mom: Take off you pants then.  Ewe.  You are stinky and you have a rash.  Lets go take a bath.
Kaio:  No! I don't want to take a bath.
Mom: Look, you can take a bath, or put on fresh clean pants and wash your hands.  Which one?
Kaio: No! I don't want to!
Mom: Kaio, you can't be naked right now, you are still sick and it is cold in the house.
Mom does not let him out of the room until he either puts on new pants and washes his hands or takes a bath.  This starts tremendous crying and screaming.  Mom eventually came upstairs to try to help. After half an hour of grandma and Kaio in the bathroom together.  Kaio freaking out the whole time.  He eventually puts on the clothes and washes hands.  

For the last week, we've had one of these events at least once a day, but sometimes every couple hours.  I'm so drained.

Well starting tomorrow (Thanksgiving) it will be officially one week since he caught his cold, and therefore officially over.  According to an old saying I read in Naturally Healthy Babies and Children, "Colds last a week with rest at home, or 7 days with a trip to the doctor."   
I am therefore crossing my fingers that Mr.Hyde came about from an under the weather boy and he will be less psycho-overemotional-mellow dramatic-whiner tomorrow.  
Just a side note: Nala's cold took a week, however she remained very pleasant during that time.

UPDATE:  I know that this post is long enough already.  But I need to do justice and update that things were much better Thanksgiving and the day after, so I think it was the cold that was prompting Kaio to behave so inflexibly and unhappy.  Lesson Learned for me is to notice when his actions are related to his health and wait for him to feel better before expecting him to be rational.  I have some cute videos to post proving that he's a happy kid again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Preschool Update

We came to a decision on the preschool situation for Kaio.  He now goes to Special Ed for the mornings, three days a week, and afternoon care at a Montessori school near my work.  Before signing off, we went and visited the Montessori school twice and Kaio really liked it.  He did not want to leave the last time we visited.  Lucky for us, they are making an exception to their typical program by letting Kaio come just in the afternoons three days a week.  So we're not going with the fancy Reggio Emelia nature school just yet.  It is a bit of a commute and a major expense.  With all the dental work I've been doing this year we need some time to recover.  So we are going to hold off until Summer time and consider the school at that point.  In the mean time, we decided to take advantage of the free county services.

I am still not convinced that Kaio needs Special Ed.  What do you mean my kid's not perfect?  No there is something wrong with the rest of the kids.  So yeah, honestly there are good days and bad days.  Like yesterday I thought he was over the top emotional and irrational.  Then today he seemed totally fine, was talking up a storm, using his imagination, and telling me about his day.  I go back and fourth on thinking that he needs intervention.

He has been attending for about a month now and loves the Special Ed class.  He keeps telling me how much he likes it and likes his teacher and friends.  He is not so ecstatic about the Montessori school, probably because he is there such a short time compared to the 23 other kids in his class.  I imagine it is tough to make friends.  Along the friends line, he has been creating lots of crafts lately for his old friends from daycare.  Last week we made and painted a wooden helicopter for Jolie, this week a race car for Mriganka, and next week a bird house for Kanak.  I can tell that he must miss them a bunch so I invited everyone to Nala's coming birthday party.  She is going to be two and wants a fish birthday cake.

The kids caught the yearly November cold and we've been house-ridden for two weeks now.  Nala got it first, then Kaio, now Mari.  Being cooped up in the house without our typical field trips to museums etc, has really gotten me worried about being able to homeschool or unschool Kaio.  I would love love love to continue teaching the kids everyday, but I'm struggling to keep Kaio engaged and focused on the concepts and activities.  He frequently strays to do his own things, which mostly includes jumping and destroying.  When I am able to break through on a certain concept, it is very powerful and he will talk about it for weeks.  Like a couple weeks ago we went to the American History Museum to the exhibit on transportation.  We looked at the life cycle of a strawberry: first they pick the strawberry in the garden, then they put it on the box, then they put it on the truck that takes it to the train, then they take it to the grocery store, then we go to the grocery store to buy it, then we put it in the blender and make a smoothly.  Of course this was even better with the real smoothy at the end.

I love it, I really love the learning and exploring.  But I'm not sure if I'm the right person to teach Kaio.  Sometimes I get so frustrated when he does not want to participate or pay attention.  I think I need to do some more research into homschooling kids like Kaio to see if it is a fit for us.  Right now I'm thinking that when he leaves the Special Ed program, I should probably keep him in a small preschool program until 1st grade, like Discovery Woods.
I think that Nala and I will do splendidly though.  :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tattle Tails

I ran a bath for the kids today and left them there to play while tending to food in the kitchen.  Eventually screams and cries begin and I walk in.
Kaio whines, "Nala hit me!  She hit me mom. Nala, don't hit Kaio.  Bad baby."
I look at Nala, who turns 2 years old in a couple weeks.  "Nala, did you hit Kaio?"
She stumbles to state her case, "Kako....wet" as she points to her soaked hair.
"Kaio did you pour water on Nala's head?" I ask.
"Yes mom, I poured water on Nala's head."  He said, almost proud of himself.
"Ok, so now you see that she doesn't like it and that is why she hit you.  She doesn't like that.  and Nala, hitting is not nice.  Ok, everybody out of the bath."

It is just so funny to me that this is really happening.  The kids are playing, fighting, and tattling on each other.  I just want to laugh at how cute they are together.  Then the fact that I'm the authority, well that's pretty cute too.  I still do not feel like an adult yet.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Too late for a fairytale?

I've made some time in life to watch a couple movies lately.  Last night it was Avatar.  I missed the 3-D IMAX version.  Something about having little kids or babies when it came out.
We have not been to a movie in years.  Funny, last week I was hanging out with Kaio outside a theater next to our gym, waiting for Mari and Nala to arrive to workout.  A woman come out of a movie with a stroller and a sleeping baby covered by a blanket.  I never thought of that.  Does that really work?  Can she really have a baby reliable enough to not wake up and cry for a whole two hours?  Hmm.  maybe she doesn't mind if the baby cries during the movie.
So we missed the 3-D showings of Avatar, and now that I have seen the movie I really regret it.  I had no idea, but it was an environmental film with a beautiful message, and trippy, entrancing visual effects.  Like a newer Ferngully, with more realistic action and passion.
Watching movies, even on TV, can be draining for me now.  I find myself internalizing and relating to the emotions of the characters, and really letting the bad parts get to my head.  As a mother, it is tough for me to process violence and sorrow.  I'm not sure if protecting myself from those emotions is a good thing, or if it fuels ignorance and inaction towards the pains of the world.  I hope someday to get to a place where I am more able to do good for the world around me and mobilize change.  But right now I feel paralyzed with the tidal wave of disasters.  I have not given back to society much this year and I do need to do something about that.

So back to Avatar last night, and parts of Amelia and Last of the Mohicans tonight.  The drama and stories pull me in to a distant world of adventure.
As I was telling Nala bedtime stories tonight about princesses, Sleeping Beauty and the Princess and the Frog, I started to think about my fairytale.  Why are all the princesses so young?  Does that mean that nothing interesting happens when you are older?  Where is my story?  I want it too be an interesting one.
So then the kids were sleeping peacefully in their beds, getting over a changing of the seasons cold.  I'm pretty happy that they were able to fight it off with nothing but rest, soup, and herbal concoctions.
Mari and I cuddled on the sofa.  I couldn't stop thinking about how despite the difficulties of having kids, despite our divergent political views, despite all the little things that we could fight about, despite the chores that rarely get done, despite my constant state of searching with work and life; I'm just so happy to be with him, so in love all of the time.  We turn into teenagers when we're alone.

I don't know what is going on with my life right now.  I mean,
- Living at my mom's house, only half unpacked for almost a year.
- Working in a job I feel no passion for.
- Struggling to be a good mom, but not really getting the hang of how to deal with Kaio's personality.  (I actually hit him yesterday after he hit me for fixing his helicopter in a way that didn't appease.  I feel awful, awful about loosing it and slapping him instead of defusing the situation).

There is so much to think about and plan and all the time I feel a lack of traction towards living the 'dream' of my fairytale life.  Not really knowing what or where it is either.  But then the nights with him feel like they could be that movie script, only one with the backdrop of a suburban house, with yellow walls.  Not quite as romantic as making love on a bed of ferns in the rain.  But with visualizations I can bring myself there.  I have a pretty good imagination.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Makin Ghee

Do you like this beautiful bowl of Ghee?
We are Keeping Kaio off Gluten and Casein.  His holistic doctor noted that ghee is casein free.  So I've been making it for cooking and passing on rye bread.  It is pretty easy to do.  Just boil the butter for 15 minutes and then strain.  I used raw butter from an Amish buying club.  
The first batch I made, I thought was burnt.  But it turned out to just be extra caramelized.  oh it was so delicious.  
The ghee was great, but not as good for you as High Vitamin Butter Oil.  Here is one that is grass fed and organic:  

Since Halloween and Kaio's birthday have passed, we are back on the no-sugar experiment (seeing if taking the sugar out of our diets calms everyone down).  Everyday this week I've made high protein breakfast for the kids, consisting of sausage, rye bread with peanut butter, and a cup of liquid vitamins diluted in water (we call it juice).
So far no difference.  But Nala is still getting sweets during her three days at daycare.  I do need to do something about that.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fun Fall Things to do in the DC Area with Little Kids

We are always on the move, as I get bored easily with the indoors.  Here is a compilation of recent activities that have been winners with the weather.

1. Go to a protest
In DC you can find a protest pretty much any given weekend, and probably many weekdays too.  The kids enjoy the signs, costumes, and funny people watching.  Here are some pics from a protest we went to recently.

2. Climb some ornamental trees

With all the well kept hotels and government money you are bound to run into a patch of prime climbing trees right in the middle of a federal employee lunch patio.  We did on a brisk afternoon and got the kids to spend some energy before the ride out of the city.

3. Take a fall bike ride
I can't believe that I held out on buying a bike chariot for so long.  We just got one late this summer and the three trips that we have made already are well worth the price.  Getting around by bike far beats other modes of transportation.  In autumn, I love the colors of the trees and the leaves falling on your face.  Fall is the most beautiful time of the year here.  The weather is perfect.  Bike out to lunch or take a picnic.  Go off roading - bumbumbumbumbum - lulls the kids right to sleep.

4.  Play with leaves
We've been having a grand time tossing leaves in the air, watching which way the wind takes them, examining different types of leaves and trying to determine their tree of origin.  Piles of dry colorful leaves are tones of fun!

5. Visit a church
Lots of churches everywhere.  I realized that my kids had never been inside one before.  Shame on me.  I'm trying to teach them about religion, and specifically prep them for the real meaning of Christmas, but I realized that I don't really know how to explain religion and God on their level.  So I took them on some field trips to see different churches: Catholic, Unitarian, Synagogue.  Two was about all they could handle before getting tuckered out and hungry so we just drove by the Synagogue.  I will definitely continue this tour at a later date because they did enjoy visiting the churches.  Lots of sensory opportunities: seeing the icons, smelling the flowers, touching the holy water, hearing the silence, practicing silence ourselves, and imagining the priest giving a sermon at the podium.

6. Take a trip to the Reston Petting Zoo
I love this place and we had such a fabulous time.  The only trouble is the kids did not want to leave!  So I recommend packing a lunch that you can picnic there. This is our second time going this year.  I'd say that it is even better on cold days when it is less crowded.   It is $10 a person for kids over 2.  So it is pricey.  But totally worth it if you love animals.  They are all very friendly, gentle, and touchable.  A safari ride is included in the admission.

7. Visit Frying Pan Park
Ok, these pictures are actually from the summertime, but we took a trip there a couple weeks ago, I just didn't have my camera.  We love Frying Pan Park Farm.  it is a real working farm with lots of animals.  Kaio gets the biggest kick out of the baby pigs and the silly sheep.
8. Take a stroll around the Reston Town Center

What a way to get that big city feel without having to pay for parking.  We just took a morning stroll to meet my brother and show off our Halloween costumes a couple days before Halloween.  The kids love to see the fountain.  We grabbed some orange juice from Panera Bread.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A real day in the life

Despite all the troubles, I decided that I really want to have another kid.  Kaio and Nala are so precious, each in their own ways.  I love their sweet and loving personalities, their perseverance and inquisitiveness.  I'm just so interested to see what other magical little creature could come out of us.  If only it wasn't for that whole being pregnant thing.  I'm just really not looking forward to 3 months of sleeping on my knees, with my butt in the air and my face pointed down at the bed.  That was the only position that felt comfortable.  And it leads to  waking up constantly with aching knees.

So I will hold out a bit longer, until Nala and Kaio can help out maybe.  Kaio does try to help.  But, today after nap he was a cranky brat.  Everything was no no no.  Every Monday afternoon we go to visit my Sister in Law's (brother's wife's) grandma at the assisted living community.  The kids call her Grandma Helen.  She has a pet iguana named Iggy.  They love going there and terrorizing Iggy, then eating the free popcorn and apples.

But today it took forever to get the kids out of the house after nap.  They woke up so difficult.  When we got there Kaio refused to get out of the car.  So I left him.  - Probably not what a good parent should do.  But I was getting so angry with him not following directions that I just needed to get away before I erupted.  So I took Nala and we went inside to find that Grandma Helen had gone to dinner already.  That made Nala very sad.  But she came back to the car.  Kaio was in the front seat by then.  I opened the door to get him back in the back and he started screeming about how he wanted to go inside and see Grandma Helen.  Then both of the kids parked themselves on the lawn having fits.

A car pulled up and asked, "Can we help you?"
They tried but Kaio was on another planet, beyond reach.  He was streaming tears and so I hugged him.  "What is going on with you?"

I wanted to take them somewhere to run around and tire out.  But they were on strike in the parking lot.  I sat in the car with the door open, telling myself to be calm and wait for them to be ready to transition.  Eventually Kaio came and sat in his seat.  Then I was able to get Nala in her seat.  What a relief to have them both safe in the warm car.

I was going to take them to the gym, but Kaio protested, "No I don't want to go to the gym.  No I don't want to go to the gym, Kaio doesn't want to go to the gym."  Over and over again.   I conceded and took them to a playground.  It was so cold out, that we couldn't stay long.  But we did run around for a bit until I smelled Nala's dirty diaper.  To Starbucks for warm soy milk and a bathroom.

The Starbucks was next to the gym.  After we left Starbucks the kids started whining about wanting to go to the gym!  They are so schizophrenic!  But there wasn't time and we had to get some groceries before heading home.

Kaio dropped his milk in the car and got his pants dirty.  When we got to Trader Joe's he had to pee so bad that i took him in the bushes in front of the car.  His pants were wet and I had to help him change there - in the dark cold.  At least I had a spare pair of clothes with me!

Mari met us at TJs and that was nice.  They both rode back home in his car.  I think they were sick of me!
Then he made some dinner and put them to bed so I could get some work done.

I heard a thump on the floor.  Turns out Kaio fell out of his bunk bed.  He is so mindless and crazy sometimes.  He rolls around in bed doing forward rolls while tangled in his blanket.  I bet that is how he fell.
I gave him the lecture about how at bedtime your head stays on the pillow and you sleep.  How this is his only body and he has to take care of it.  He was only partially paying attention.  probably dizzy from the fall.  hopefully he didn't get a concussion.  I have been waking him up periodically to check that he is not knocked out.

Today was a tough day.  Kaio seemed really out in space.  He would repeat the same things over and over again, and would look in lots of directions while talking.  It was kind of freaky.  He is not usually like that and I'm wondering what's going on.  Could it be from the Halloween candy yesterday?  He really did not have that much.  Well I hope that he is better tomorrow.  Nala was great today.  She got a lot of sleep last night and was over her short cold.

On the drive home from the grocery store I was thinking about how parenting would make a good video game.  There are so many challenges and adventures.  I feel like a won some points today and lost some.  
  • The successful trip to Starbucks for a diaper change + 10 points + 2 bonus points for spending under $5
  • Spilled milk in the car - 5, with + 3 for having a change of clothes on hand.
  • Kid fall out of the bunk bed -15
  • Enough energy to make love with the husband after the kids fall asleep +15
Now if only I could figure out how to create this game.  We could all play from our cellphones like farmville.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The more you eat healthy, the less you like mainstream food

An interesting thing happened today.  Kaio has been mostly wheat and dairy free since April this year.  We went this way after months of very strange poop.  I have noticed a direct correlation in his bowel health and his dairy consumption.  Still we have not been able to keep him 100% off the products (mostly due to my mom giving him that stuff all the time).  Actually this morning she gave him a bran muffin, and yesterday she gave him slices of cheese.  At least they were from Trader Joe's.  I am slowly bringing her on board and teaching her quality over quantity.  It has been a long process to get her out of the habit of mindlessly buying cases of whatever from Costco just because, "I had to, they were so cheap!"

So I gave her some credit for giving him the hormone free cheese this time.

So anyway.  We've been doing this diet as best we can while living with grandma.  But Mari and I agreed back in April that we would not prevent Kaio from having cake and pizza at birthday parties.  We would not bring cake for him or anything like that.  I believe that food is one of the most important aspects of a culture, and parties are for sharing you home and your food with friends.  I think that it is rude to not participate in these rituals.  You have to at least try the food.   Unless you are really allergic to it.  But Kaio is not allergic, it just doesn't digest well.

So we went to a birthday party today and he had a little slice of Papa John's pizza.  Then something strange happened.  He left the eating area to go sit by himself on a bench.  I went over to him and he was almost crying,  "No.  I don't want to eat the pizza.  I don't want the pizza, it's yucky."
I said, "Kaio, you don't have to eat it it's ok.  You can just play with your friends."

He cheered up after our little talk and went off to run around with his good friends.

So Mari and I think that the pizza made him feel kind of sick.  I'm going to make sure to give him some probiotics tomorrow morning.

The other thing that took me was how he isolated himself and I had to talk him through what was going on and say the right thing to help him feel comfortable again.  I have had to do this with Nala a couple times too.  She get scared of things and hides by herself.  Moving from provider to therapist is a new role in my mothering journey.  It felt reminiscent of an afternoon family sitcom, like Family Ties or Full House.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First Day of Preschool

Sunday morning Kaio woke up at 9am in bed next to Mari and said, "Papa, my pinto (penis) is growing."

Mari, "yeah Kaio, papa has that problem too."

I seems our little boy is turning into a man before our eyes.  This week he started his new preschool program.  Despite my reservations, we decided to go ahead and put him in the county's morning Special Education program, and team that with a Montessori school in the afternoon.  Here he is on the way home from his first day in the public education system.  We decided this because the outdoor Reggio Emilia school that I loved, was just a little too out of the way to choose it over the very close and cheap options next door.  
Side Note: My ultra-conservative Tea Party brother *loved* hearing that we were taking a hand-out from the government instead of financing our kid's education with our own money - just because the government was offering. 

 If we are still in the area next year, then we'll probably send him to the Discovery Woods Reggio Emilia school.We loved it!

Well now, he is a big boy.  We went shopping to try to find a Thomas the Tank Engine backpack, but no local stores seem to sell backpacks after back-to-school week.  I had to order one off Amazon.  

The school bus is going to start picking him up this week, but today I had to drive him.  
I went to pick him up midday to take him to the Montessori, but I must have got there late because the teachers put him on a bus to the school.  I frantically hauled my butt to the Montessori, really hoping that I would beat the bus there. I did and he was so happy to see me.  We walked into the hectic preschool, lots of kids were getting ready for nap and this scared him.  Inquisitive kids hovered over him, repeatedly asking us questions, "Why doesn't he want to lay down?  What's a new place?"  "Why does he want to go home?"
I could tell that he was getting very nervous and anxious.  I asked him if he wanted to take a nap or go in the classroom. He wanted to go in the classroom and so we did.  There were older kids siting around a mat for story time.  Kaio sat on the mat but turned away from me.  I told him I would be back after work.  He did not even say goodbye.  He was mad at me for placing him in such a frightening situation.
I went back to work and fretted about him the whole time.  
After picking him up, I learned that he ended up opting for the nap eventually.  He seemed to really like the place and the kids.  Then in the car ride home he acted so much more mature than usual.  After I took this picture of him 'smiling' he asked if he could see the picture, so politely.  Only the first day - but it seems that moving out of the hectic daycare, and into the preschool with kids his age, is what he needed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No Sugar?! What?!

So I took the kids to a holistic doctor yesterday to see about detoxing heavy metals out of their system.  I've been feeling so great since getting the metal out of my mouth that I though they might have some residual mercury accumulated in their system from their time in the womb and nursing.  I had a lot of fillings: 9.  And a couple of them were cracked while I was pregnant.
So I went to see this doctor that my dentist recommended.  She had planned to hook the kids up the Asyra system to scan their bodies for chemical imbalances, but the kids were afraid of the metal rods.  Nala wouldn't touch them and Kaio wouldn't hold them long enough.  So then she starts muscle testing me to come to the conclusion that Kaio has liver problems and this all boils down to too much sugar in his diet.  The key to them detoxing is to take the sugar out of their diets so that their livers can function properly.

I was like, 'What? seriously?'  We eat really healthy.

I had given the kids little snack packs of Annie's Fruit Gummy Treats to keep them occupied while we talked.  She showed me the back of the pack - 10 grams of sugar - "That is too much."

Ughhhhhhh.  I was pissed.  I couldn't hide how pissed I was.  I kept thinking, seriously I'm paying $200/hr to have this doctor tell me that we have to take another thing out of our diets.  I think that these doctors just come up with some really impossible unattainable thing so that they can blame you for not following the regiment if it doesn't help.  Like, lets take out the gluten, then the dairy, then the sugar, then the starch... what's next? Oh your bath water is not filtered.  it never ends.
and the muscle testing.  I just don't get it.  Really? - Pointing that machine on my hand is going to tell you something diagnostic about my kid over there?  It just seems like complete quackery.  So when she brought out the muscle testing and told me to take the sugar and starch out.  I was mad.  I was ready to leave.

But I decided to stay and argue a bit.  My kids eat so much less sugar than other kids do.
1. Why should I alienate them from the rest of their friends, who are doing just fine eating tones of sugar?
 - it is all about accumulation of toxins.  If the kid's body does not have other toxins that it is dealing with then it is able to process the sugar.  But if it has been exposed to other toxins (like metal fillings, vaccines, mold, etc) then the kids will get sick more often.

2. I ate lots more sugar than my kids do when I was growing up.  My parents used to give me M&M's.  I turned out fine.
- Things were different back then and children are exposed to many more pollutants in the environment.  Now-a-days children are born with over 200 different carcinogens in their blood.  Their bodies have a lot more to deal with.  Also the vegetables we eat are not as nutrient rich as in the past.  Now, with the use of fertilizers, vegetables that grow lack the variety of vitamins that existed in mineral diverse healthy soil.  

3.  But they love fruits, and fruits are raw.  That has to be good for them.
- Eat seasonal fruits in moderation.

4. If I keep them from eating the snacks that the other kids have at daycare, they think that they are being punished for something.  At daycare they eat yogurt, rice crispy treats, cookies, and pretzels.  Even healthy substitutes have sugar, like those Annies Organic Fruit Snacks
- Give them healthy, but similar options as much as you can. Focus on totally taking out the sugar at home.  That way they can easier detox it when they get it at daycare.
- Try it for 2 weeks and see what happens.  You will notice a change I promise.

So I can't argue with that.  It does not hurt to try it.  "Ok, I can try taking the little-bit of sugar that they have in their diet completely out for two weeks."
And that's what we are doing.  I called my mom, and talked to Mari.  They are both on board.  Although my mom gave me a lecture about all the wacko doctors I frequent!  "I don't understand why you are always taking them to these crazy people.  They are not real doctors."  But she quieted up as soon as I pointed out that our kids are the healthiest on the block.  Nala has never had to take an antibiotic in her life.  Kaio, only twice, and he probably would have been ok without them (but I was a scared new mom).  Kaio has not been sick at all with more than a quickly passing cold since we took him off wheat and dairy.  The kids are incredibly healthy compared to the kids of our mainstream friends and coworkers.  Kaio had a friend, the same age with the exact same coughing problem two years ago.  They were both prescribed nebulizers and inhalers.  For Kaio, we identified the carpets as a trigger and replaced them with cork. We took out the wheat and dairy.  Now he is fine for a whole year not coughing.  The other child has been hospitalized three times already.
So I know that we are doing things right.  But I also recognize that Nala has started acting odd and complaining of things hurting at night.  I was worried about her contracting Lymes, since she has been bitten by 3 ticks (one deer tick).  This doctor said that she is really nutrient deprived because all the sugar she eats is preventing absorption of vitamins from the healthy food. "She may eat tons of healthy food, but her body is not absorbing the minerals.  She is vitamin starved.  Take the sugar and starch out and she will improve."

Ok so we are trying it.  But with Halloween coming, I think this is going to be really freaking difficult.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Magical Connection of Very Young and Very Old

A snap shot of a photograph printed on a plate.  My mom recently took this picture on he trip to Romania this year to visit family.  The woman on the right is my Great-Grandma, and the little boy on the left is my mom's brother.  He had Leukemia, and they both died together in a fire when he was three years old.  It is pretty tragic.  And I feel a little bad writing about tragedy on this blog because I'm sure everyone has enough to deal with and no one particularly wants to hear another sad story to bring them down.  But I need to get this off my chest and chronicle the family history in a safe spot.  So ignore if you please.
My mom says that Kaio reminds her of her brother; so animated, sweet, and happy.  And that her grandmother loved her little brother so much.  They were inseparable.  When the fire started, he was playing by her feet in the kitchen, which is where he always stayed.  They say that she tried to dowse the cooking fire with oil.  Totally what you are not supposed to do.  But my Great-Grandma predicted that she would die with him.  Or said that she didn't want to live without him.  So it turned out to be a self fulfilling prophesy.
And here is my grandfather, Tata, at a graveyard in Trenton, New Jersey.  This is where he is buried, where his wife is buried, and where his bothers and sisters - who died as children - are buried.  Five of his siblings died of childhood diseases during the short period that they lived in the United States.  That was in the 1910's.  They moved back to Romania in 1920, when my Grandfather was five years old.  Only he and one younger brother lived into adulthood.
At then here are the two brothers, Easter 2006.  The last Easter before Sabin passed away.  My grandfather followed in 2008.
As Tata's health began to dramatically fade in 2006, I prayed that he would hold on until Kaio's birth.  He made it, and lived for a year and a half longer.  Seven of those months we lived in the same house together.   They had a cosmic affinity for each other from the beginning.  Since the day Kaio was born, he brought life and love into Tata's aging soul.  I remember that Tata would just look at him and laugh at everything that baby Kaio did.  He would give him his pacifier if he dropped it.  he would come to help if he heard him crying.  One night, when Kaio was 4 months old and crying in his crib, Mariano and I were obviously too sleep deprived to wake up, Tata went into Kaio's room and somehow was strong enough to lift him out of the crib and rock him back to sleep.  I came into the room later in the night and Tata was still holding him.  It was so sweet to me, but it frightened Mariano because Tata was suffering from dementia and shouldn't be holding Kaio without supervision.
Actually Tata didn't know that Kaio was my baby.  He always called him Mikey, referring to my little brother Micheal.  And if both Micheal and Kaio were in a room together, Tata still didn't get it.  He would just brush his hand at the thought that the baby was anyone other than baby Mikey.
Kaio would crawl to him, sit in his lap, kiss him, and play with him.  one day when we visited Tata in the hospital and Kaio saw him in pain, well that was the most upset that I ever saw baby Kaio.  I feel blessed that they were able to connect.  And although Kaio was too young at the time to remember, and Tata too old to understand, there was something profoundly magical about the connection they shared together.  The connected in the purest possible realm of existence, where their spirits danced and no words or actions were needed, only a look, a laugh, and maybe a tickle.  Witnessing this is what drives me to believe that children and elderly need to play together.

Friday, October 8, 2010

All About Teeth

A holistic dentist removed the last of my Mercury Amalgam fillings last Monday, in a treatment way cheaper than my conventional dentist had quoted.  The process was also very different.  He gave me supplements of charcoal and chlorella to take prior to beginning.  He created a balloon dam to protect my mouth and throat from flying particles,and he had a vacuum sucking the air in front of my face to catch any further air born particles. The vacuum was lined with little grey spots.  I asked him if those were Mercury, "Yes, they are evidence that this thing works."  
Once they were done, he gave me a kiwi rinse, which is like a magnet for any remaining Hg particles.  To my amazement, even after all the precautions, little pieces of Hg showed up in my rinse spit.  I couldn't believe it.  I had had 5 fillings removed by my conventional dentist, and she did not use any of these precautions, although she assured me that she would get 'everything' using the vacuum sucker and this was the safest way available.  Now I doubt that.  Man, I was even nursing Nala at the time.  Imagine how much Hg I must have ingested and inhaled!  At least I did not feel any noticeable effects following the filling extraction done by my conventional dentist, so hopefully the pieces just flushed right out. 
This time I did notice some extraordinary things.  Like, I have been headache free for the four nights since getting the metal out!  
 For the last 4 years off and on and for the last 2 months straight, I have been waking up with headaches.  Chiropractic care really helped make the headaches go away.  Vacations , yoga and being pregnant also helped :).   Changing pillows and changing beds only makes them worse.  So we have a memory foam bed and pillow, those along with chiropractic adjustments and yoga keep the headaches away.  
But I have not had the chance to visit the chiropractor much this year since his office is very out of the way from my new job. 
So now, magically they are gone!  I don't really understand the relation between metal in my mouth and headaches in the morning like I understand the relation between pinched neck nerves or structural problems while sleeping and headaches.  So I was not expecting this at all.  What a bonus!
I still have three years of dental treatment scheduled.  I'm getting a ALM piece to fix my bite and TMJ, braces to keep the teeth in place after the bite work.  It's pretty expensive stuff.  I was expecting the headaches to resolve after the TMJ work.  What a bonus that they seem to have resolved already!
I'm looking into Mercury detox programs for the kids now.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Be the Cause

to have a bigger purpose, don't think forwards. think backwards. see, feel, understand the effect you want to have - and then be the cause. - Umair Haque

That quote came from the twitter feed of a business advisor, but it has been sticking in my thoughts as guidance that needs to apply to all our lives.  I noticed, that I've been 80% reactionary, and only 20% proactive in my family's life.  Like, we have made some conscious decisions: move to DC to get better jobs, have kids, and change my schedule to have more time with the kids.  But most of the other circumstances (changing jobs, changing daycare, moving to my mom's house to save money, and looking for preschool) have been reactionary, based on trying to find the best approach to the situation that we landed in.  I think that even the big decision to buy a house was more of a reaction to the fact that we had jobs that paid enough we could afford a house, than a fulfillment of the dream of home ownership.  
Perhaps it is time to step back and think about 'what is the life that we want to lead?'  And then be the cause.  That is the type of 'planning' that we have not been doing.  What exactly do we want our life to look like?   What environment do we want for our kids?  Then take that vision and fill in the steps to make that happen.  I think that could send things on a different trajectory entirely. 


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