Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just go to bed! Geeze!

Three weeks into LittleMan's dietary intervention and no visible change in his pooping behavior or his neuroticies.    Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree with the food allergies.   He is still pooping every half hour and it is making me crazy.  Just tonight since getting home: he went twice before bed and then five  more times after bedtime.  He didn't end up falling asleep until almost eleven.  I heard him in his room passing gas on his potty around 10:30.  He came out of his room with his potty in hand, and a big smile "Look mom, I made popo."  Inside sat a dime size little baby poop.  
I just can't tell if it is behavior or intestinal.  Is he doing it to stay up late or because he is constipated?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baby want the Bling Bling

Stark differences between the girls and the boys.  I swear that I'm not contributing to this behavior!  My little baby girl has taken to sticking things in her ears; coins and little shiny things.  Mari thinks that it is because she wants to wear earrings.  He said, "of course, she's a girl!  She wants her ears pierced."  You see in Brazil, baby girls get their ears pierced in the hospital when they are born, and baby boys get circumcised.  Talk about gender equality.  hmm.  never mind that does not make quite as much sense typed out as it made in my head.
So Mari has continued to hold a grudge about neither of our kids being maimed in the hospital when they were born.  I just couldn't bring myself to let a doctor near LittleMan's little man part with a scalpel.  Plus, I feel like it must be there for a reason, right?  So I told Mari that it was his decision but I was against it.  He decided to wait and get it done in Brazil, aka, never gonna happen.  But he has continued to bring it up over and over again as something important that needs to be done.
Now he sings that same tune about GirlFriend's lobes.  Not that I have any problem with piercing her ears; I think that would look super cute.  I mean, I myself used to sport 9 holes in my left ear back in the day.
I just don't want to see her cry and tug at her ears in pain.  That would be heart wrenching.
However lately as she has taken an interest in my jewelery and started sticking things in her ears and looking in the mirror.  I am starting to consider taking her to a tattoo parlor/piercing shop....  Yesterday she even picked up a little circular piece of plastic, the white hollow cap that comes on soy milk cartons, and tried to fasten it in her hair like a hair clip.  Is accessorizing  instinctive or something?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thoughts while Trekking through the subUrban Jungle

I had an epiphany last Sunday after yoga class.  We had been pulled over by the police in a mostly immigrant, low income Latino area, nearby to a day labor center.  Mari was driving and apparently the inspection on my car was expired, for four months!  yup.  I had been driving the car for four months past inspection through that same neighborhood almost everyday, but the one day that he is driving we get pulled over.  go figure.
So he did not have his license and neither did I.  We had jumped in the car to go to the gym, rushing out the door to catch a 9am class.
The police gave him a really hard time and he was super nervous.  They kept accusing him of trying to lie to them when he was misspoken and confused.  They were disrespectful to us, and Mari just didn't seem capable of diffusing the situation.  Everything that he said seemed to fuel them more, and it also seemed like they liked that.  Poor LittleMan was in the car trying to get out, "I want to go see daddy."
I learned a long time ago that the best way to deal with the police is to be very apologetic and respectful, give a detailed explanation of the reasons for your infraction and be as honest as possible.  The more you tell them about your life and situation, the more they will sympathize with you and your perspective.  Doing what they ask and staying calm and collected is the best way to handle the situation and get out without a fight.  Unfortunately the police seemed to be having much more fun interrogating Mari than dealing with me and the couple times that I tried to chime in and interject - opened up the: "I'm not speaking with you, I asked him a question, I need you to be quiet miss"
Finally they gave us our court dates and left.      
I was so rattled by the experience that I didn't want to get back in the car again.  I was also disappointed with the way that Mari had handled the situation, even though I knew that he was not familiar with the US police protocol.
We had been on our way to lunch, but I lost my appetite.  All I could think to do was walk, walk away from the vehicle that had brought disruption to our lives.  Walk away from the scene of the disturbance and the evil parking lot where it all went down.  So I started walking with the baby in my arms.  It was a beautiful day and we walked a little over four miles home together.  The kids got tired after about half a mile, so we carried them.  Half way home we stopped at Chipotle for lunch.  It turned into a nice, and tiring!, family excursion.  I kept trying to mentally place myself in the mountains on a hike; imagining this being our first family journey through Shenandoah.  
So during this urban trekking experience we passed a homeless community of tents in a tree grove on the side of the parkway.  I had driven past it countless times.  No one was there at the time.  But it did get me thinking about how I almost envied the lives off the people near us living off of so little.  How is that with our 100K plus income I feel so trapped?  What is the point in that?   
The simple activity of walking with the family - stopping occasionally to talk about the flowers, trees, and cars - brought so much clarity and freedom to life.  I don't need to work, I decided.  I need to focus on creating a future for my kids and teaching them about life on my terms.  If we can't pay for our house, then so be it.  We can loose the house and rent in a location that we can afford.  I don't want to be a slave to my preconceived notion of family.  I feel like that is how this whole 'working full time in IT' thing happened.  My mom worked full time and I grew up thinking that is what I am supposed to do, and I am a bad feminist if I do otherwise.  I feel like I'm being selfish or lazy for yearning to stay home and play with the kids.  But, as the years of my children's lives pass I realize how much we will all gain from more time together.  We could explore the wonders of the world together.  Life is not getting any shorter and if I died tomorrow I would die regretting that I had not stayed home more with the kids.
So luckily, amidst this realization, came the convenient situation that we can probably afford to keep the house even if I turn part time.  My new job pays much better than the one I had when we bought the house, and we are moving to mom's place and renting our home for a couple hundred more than we are paying mom in rent.
This probably means no more international vacations...sigh...  No more nights eating out...sigh...  No more chiropractor visits...sigh...  But, I need this, I really do need this to feel like I am living in a world and not living in an office.
There are a few problems that I need to work out.  Like, I don't actually know anyone in my company who works part time, so I'm not sure if that is even an option.  And, we have three open job reqs right now so it is not exactly a very responsible time for me to suggest cutting my hours.  But, I will start looking into these things, and maybe in a month or two I will get the courage to pop the question.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is Discipline Worth the Trouble?

So today when I picked up the kids from daycare the owner told me that LittleMan smeared poop on the wall a couple times after using the potty.  "I wanted to ask you if he does that at home," she said.
"No never"  or maybe I should have said 'not yet' or 'not that I noticed.'
When we were all at home later and I told Mari about it, he said, "Oh I used to do that too."  "My mom told me that I used to do that."
Does that make it inevitable?  Are these behaviors ingrained in our DNA or our spirit and...meant to be?
This all reminded me of an incredible This American Life radio show about children switched at birth and raised by the wrong families.  The children maintained the characteristics, hobbies, preferences, and personalities of their birth families.  The blond child grew up to own the picture above her living room mantel as her birth mother did.  The brown haired child became extremely religious, more in line with her birth family's beliefs.  The nature overpowered the nurture.  Makes me wonder... is discipline futile? Is he going to end up how he ends up regardless of what I do?  So if that is the case, then maybe I should not bother getting worked up about getting him in line with other kids and maybe I should focus on living in the moment and understanding his point of view: follow the Daily Groove tips.
But I just don't think I can do that.  Today he was off the wall wild and crazy.  He just couldn't stop climbing and jumping around the house.  Our house is a mess because we are in the process of moving.  He took a big pile of clothes on to the top of the stairs and started sliding down on his belly, face first.  When he got bored with that he moved upstairs to make mischief.  I heard a toilet and then I heard silence, which is never good.  The baby was sitting on my lap drawing circles with crayon on cardboard and making the cutest babbles.  I just didn't want the moment to end.  But I knew there had to be something unusually captivating, and thus probably messy or possibly involving poop and walls, going on with LM.  I yelled upstairs and kept summoning him back downstairs.  He would come down for a second and then go running back up again. each time wearing less clothes.  I started a picture presentation (a collection of themed photos that I found on the internet) for the kids to try to keep them entertained.   He usually gets really into the pictures because they all involve transportation and animals.  I told him that if he went upstairs one more time then he would be choosing to go to bed, because we only go upstairs at bed time.  Well, he tested this twice and then I put him in bed and he started crying.  I went into our bathroom and saw that he had sprayed water all over the bathroom with our mini spray wand, a.k.a our poor man's bidet.  The floor was wet,  the bath mat was wet, my make-up was wet, my jewelry box was wet.  Man, he can do damage so quickly.
Then I have to confess that I yelled that he was bad, which I realized right away was an unintended angry slip.  Mari sent me downstairs to eat dinner with the baby while he kept guard on the boy, who was now banished to his room for the first time ever.
And I still wonder how much of his behavior is under my control and how much is all a part of his personality.  Should I fight these behaviors or embrace them?
Lately I have been trying to switch my approach a bit: instead of telling him not to jump off of things, I help him jump off of them safely.  But does this leniency lead him to validate other extreme actions, like smearing poop on the walls and spraying water around the house?  Does he see the world as a place without rules and boundaries.  But then again, is that really a perception that I would want to abate?  Perhaps the influential and extraordinary visionaries of history were the people who saw the world without limits and questioned authority.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Such a Lady

 I remember that LittleMan would never mind when he had a dirty diaper.  He would just keep playing or doing whatever.  It was like pulling teeth to drag him into the bathroom and change him.  He would resist the whole way.  He never minded even the largest, stinkiest, heaviest sack of junk in the trunk.  But GirlFriend is so different.  My little girl is about to turn 16 months and is such a lady.  Today she told me that she wanted her diaper changed with a series of signs and motions.  It felt like a successful round of baby Pictionary.  I was sitting on the couch when she came over and got into my lap, put her hands around the back of my neck and started making a lifting motion.  She does this when she wants me to carry her somewhere.  She started kind of whimpering.  I said, "what are you hungry? thirsty? do you want milk?" nope. nope. nope.  Her little whine was getting worse and frustrated, so I put her down for a second.  She stood in front of me a stuck her hips out.  Then she started pointing towards her diaper.  "oh, you want a diaper change! ok, lets go."  and man did she have a big messy one.
So after putting on a fresh clean diaper and taking her back downstairs, she started whimpering again.  I went through the checklist for the second time, "what now? are you hungry? thirsty? sleepy?"  She made the sleep sign by covering her ear with her hand.  oh, you're sleepy.  It was still light outside, but the days are getting longer and we had been out for a big walk earlier.  
So we went to bed and she fell asleep contently.  I couldn't believe that she actually put herself to bed.  What kid does that?  It reminded me of a scene from the Simpsons where Maggie changes her own diaper.  Sometimes GF does grab a wipe and try to wipe herself while I am changing her.
This was all pretty amazing.  GF has been trying to talk for a while and sputtering out a few really clear words like 'kitty cat,' 'bubble,' and 'jacket.' I just love how she finds ways to communicate with me and never gets frustrated for long.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Midnight Marauder

So although things have been calmer this week, they have not been free of mischief and calamity.  This morning, when I came downstairs to make breakfast, I heard a noise coming from the powder room.  The faucet was on.  In front of the faucet was a huge mess where the contents of the coat closet were spilled and scattered all over the floor.  My inner Shurlock Homes got to work.
A bag of lolly pops that had been on the top shelve of the closet (Halloween candy from two years ago), was now on the floor and lolly pops were all over the place!  Then, there was a bar stool taken from the kitchen, and a little chair, and a stepping stool from the bathroom, and a box, and even a cork cutting board that we just bought from Ikea, all pilled around the mess that had spilled out of the closet.  It seemed like someone - someone pretty short - had stacked these items to reach something on the top shelve.  But then probably needed to jump or lunge to grab, which forced everything to topple to the ground.  Hmm... What do you think dear Watson?
Yes, he stacked a cutting board on top of a box, on top of a stepping stool, on top of a chair, on top of a bar stool!  Dually, frightening and impressive.  Then, he jumped to grab the bag of lolly pops, which he got well enough to spill all over the floor along with some coats and a double stroller.
I cleaned up all the lolly pops and threw the devil candy away.  After LittleMan woke up and as we were leaving the house, I pointed to the mess and asked if he knew what happened.  "Lolly pops fell.  Lolly pops fell."  He said.
Ah ha! He confessed to the crime!  How would he have known their were lolly pops since I had cleaned them up? unless, he had participated in the act.  Ah ha!
I looked at Mari for direction.  Now what do we do?  Do we punish him?  It did not look like he actually ate any of the lolly pops, it looks like the fall scared him into fleeing.  I think that I ended up telling him something about staying in bed or climbing being dangerous.  I don't really remember because at this point, I was just happy that he stayed in the house.  I mean, if we didn't wake up to the sound of a double stroller falling out of a closet along with chairs, cutting boards, and lolly pops; then we definitely would not have heard the front door open.
So the lesson to self is: if one passes out in bed exhausted with a headache and the other one passes out in an allergy / Claritin coma, put up a baby gate on the stairs to keep the kids from mischief, candy, poison, and/or exiting the premises.   Freaky.

Barometric Pressure : Stable

After a weekend with Mr. Hyde, this week seems noticeably calmer.  (knock knock knock on wood). 
In fact, we have not had a single out of control crying event for three days. yippee!  There have been a few interactions where I thought, 'oh no here it comes.'  But surprisingly, a simple whine came out instead of The Storm.  hmm...  still too soon to say, but perhaps the weekend was a detoxifying purge of allergens from LittleMan's system.  He has been no gluten, no dairy, no corn, and no soy since April 1st.  We will keep on the lookout for dramatic weather patterns and strong winds gusting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How do you not be your parents?

Four days into the new No Gluten, Casein, Corn, or Soy diet and LittleMan is as nutz as ever, maybe worse.  He has gone into hysterics almost everyday since we started and completely looses his mind.  I feel so bad for him, it is like he is possessed.  He cries and cries and no matter what I do he wont stop crying.  I've tried holding my ground, I've tried giving in, I've tried hugging him, I've tried diverting his attention; he just cannot bring himself to calm down.  It takes a while of wailing.
This weekend we went camping.  I had gone back to the car with the kids to grab some stuff and GirlFriend saw the box of strawberries, swiped it and started running away.  LM saw them and went over to her and just yanked them out of her hands and made her cry.  I interjected in the transaction, "Hey, you need to ask her nicely for them."  He said, "NO!" and then finally I took them out of his hands.  I couldn't have the baby see him getting away with that behavior, she copies everything that he does.  So he cried and cried and cried.  Would not calm down.  I was about to leave him there and go back to the campsite for reinforcements, when I caught myself, 'you can't leave a kid by himself.'  So I stood there, just breathing and trying to collect my thoughts.  There were people in surrounding campsites that we were disturbing.
Then the little punk starts yelling, "People!  People!  Please Help ME!  I lost my mommy!"
I was like, "I'm right here.  Come on, get in the wagon and lets go back."
He screams, "No! I don't want to go with you! Ahhhh!"
He carries on about loosing his mommy and starts walking away from me.  The little bugger is already trying to manipulate people.
Then tonight he had a breakdown because I wouldn't give him cereal for dinner after I already made him lentils and rice.  He cried and cried and he didn't even know what he was crying about.  It started because he wanted the cereal, but then he wanted the rice, except he wanted more than I gave him, and then he wanted an airplane or something nonsense like that.  I said, "I'm not giving you anything until you calm down and stop crying!"  He just would not stop crying.  Honestly, I was holding myself back from hitting him (or giving him something to cry about, as my dad would say).
"Why should I give you anything you want if all you do is cry in my face?"
I threw him on the couch, which is something that he usually thinks is fun.  I ran back to the kitchen to try to calm myself down. He came running back, "Hug me! Hug me!"
So I hug him, but he just keeps screaming like a mad man.  I was staring at him, trying to understand what he was feeling, trying to relate and break through the drama.  But, he was lost in some cathartic madness.  It is frightening, really scary to be next to someone that you love when they are in pain but you just cannot reach them, like talking through a cell phone.  I don't know what is going on.  Is this really typical troublesome three's behavior?
Sure I know that I used to act like that.  After this episode, I was trapped in some deja-vu mind trip.  My dad's voice..."are you going to stop crying?  Are you going to stop crying?  I am going to count to 3 and if you don't stop crying I am going to spank you!"
So when parents say, "you will understand when you have kids" II guess it is true.  I guess this life is just my life coming full circle.  Now I have to figure out how to break the cycle and defuse these crazy situations so that I do not make the same mistakes my parents did.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bush doctor and sightings of a Voodoo ceremony in Northern Virginia

Mari calls me a bush doctor because I make herbal teas and tinctures for the kids when they are ill.  This lady that I took LittleMan to was a witch doctor.  She started off looking smart and conventional, with a stylish pin stripe suit and a stethoscope.   But then she worked some type of voodoo diagnostic test called muscle testing.  Apparently the parasympathetic nervous system is more susceptible to the energies from food and allergens.  When the energy from a food that we are sensitive to is near our body then we have a weak muscle reaction.  She said that I could be the conductor for LM's system by holding his shoulder and the energy would pass through meridians to my muscles.  I was very skeptical but willing to try.  So she had him lay down and hold a box full of homeopathic liquid vials against his belly.  It all seemed very odd.  I held out my left arm and she applied pressure to the top of it, asking how difficult it was for me to keep my arm up.  It seemed very unscientific.  Like, how would I know if she was pushing harder this time, or how would I know exactly how easy it was for me to keep my arm up?  I guess if the effect was really dramatic then I would feel it.  So she tried with me as the conduit a few times and I couldn't feel anything different.  I mean, one time it did feel kind of tingly, but that was all I noticed.  I was trying really hard not to make up a feeling just to appease her.  I have a habit of saying nice things just to make people feel comfortable.  I've learned about cognitive dissonance theory, which demonstrates that people actually change what they believe when their mind reconciles what they have said to appease others.  Like, if I told her that I was feeling something, then I would begin to actually believe that I had felt something.
I starting assessing my belief system in my head.  Could this muscle testing be possible?  Well, do I believe that plants, animal, people and stones carry energy: yes.  Could this energy affect muscles: hmm, not so sure about that.  If they did, could that reaction pass from one person to another: hmm, that is even more of a stretch for me to visualize.  Later, I was thinking about the logic behind the test again.  Does that mean that if someone who was allergic to corn stood by a corn field or a silo, they would have trouble walking or standing up?  Or if they were reading a book about corn, they would have trouble turning the page?
She had to bring in one of the other doctors to assist in the process and be the conduit since I was honestly not good at it.  They ended up discovering that LM is allergic to gluten, casein, corn, and soy!  She also said that he tested for parasites, thyroid and gut problems, and deficient enzymes.  I left the doctor feeling like although I was not a believer in the method, I thought the diagnosis was right.  The process was wrong but the product fit the symptoms I had been noticing.
Those are all foods that are uncommon in the Brazilian diet, but they are very common here.  LM has Mari's same blood type and I imagine that he would digest foods that are more typical from that region.
That got me thinking, in Brazil they eat rice and beans pretty much everyday.  They also have meats, fish, vegetables, and lots of fruit.  Here in the US, we eat a different type of food for every meal.  Maybe our bodies are not meant to have that much dietary jumping around.  Maybe all these culinary choices are actually bad for our health.  I've always had a bit of a bad feeling about wheat and dairy for LM, and I kept him mostly away from them until he was 17 months when he started daycare.  I also noticed that sometimes there was undigested corn in his diaper.
So I decided to simplify our diet and make it more Brazilian.  The only problem is that LM goes to daycare.  Today when daycare had to tell him that he couldn't have the goldfish crackers and the cereal bar at snack time, he started to cry.  He could not understand why he was not allowed to eat the food that all the other kids were eating, and he thought that he had done something wrong.  The story broke my heart.
I wanted to leave work and go pick him up, tell him that there is nothing wrong with him and he is not in trouble.  It would be easy to do this diet change if he was at home, but with his friends eating those things in front of him it is so much tougher.
So now I have been rethinking my commitment to this treatment plan.  Tonight, I tried the muscle test on Mari to see if it would work and tell us his food sensitivities.  I tried a bunch of bananas, some raw milk cheese, and a jar of breast milk.  He seemed most allergic to the bananas.  Then he tested me.  When we got to the bananas I could not keep a straight face.  We both ended up laughing hysterically and eating the cheese.  He said that it brought back memories of a community doctor his mom took him to in Brazil.  She did the same thing and had all kinds of pills, tinctures, oils, and muds that were part of the treatment.  It helped him with some parasite problem and his dad with chest pain.  But he still thought it was pretty weird...  Another example of similarities between me and his mom.
So I am torn from my belly to my little brain thinking about this.  I interned at the research department of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine for a summer in college.  I am a strong believer in solid peer reviewed double blind research for complimentary and alternative medicine.  But I have not been able to find research supporting muscle testing.   But then, lots of treatment and tools that have been widely used and tested in the East for years have not been subject to those tests here yet.  Except sometimes under funding from pharmaceutical companies - who have a vested interest in disproving natural medicines.  So I do not want to let my need for traditional research to get in the way of the Chinese Medicine magic.
But, how can I put my son through such a traumatic experience with this kind of fuzzy method behind his diagnosis?
Is my need for calibrated diagnostic tools irrational?  Am I putting too much faith in inanimate instruments and machines?
Maybe I should put more faith in people and their hands and energies.
But what if I cause some kind of permanent psychological damage or give him a complex by creating imaginary allergies?  eek, I don't know what to do.
Mari and I slept on it and came to the same conclusion.  We are going to take these things out of his diet at home and at daycare so that he is not eating them everyday.  But we are not going to label him as allergic to them.  And for special occasions he can eat whatever the other kids are having.


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