Me and Wee: 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Antepartum Depression

Ever since I was about sixteen years old I've suffered from various degrees of depression. I'm not sure why or how it all started; but I know that I suffered for a little while before I got the help I needed when I was seventeen through therapy. At that time, I was struggling to cope with the idea that I would be graduating and then going on to college. I had no idea what it would be like; I couldn't picture my future like I used to. As a kid you sort of always know what's coming next. Then, suddenly the future was a big white spot and it terrified me. I had many happy moments in that time, but depression isn't an emotion…it's an illness. You can be happy while you are depressed. You can feel sadness while you are depressed. Sadness is an emotion, and sometimes people are depressed feel sad a lot (as a symptom). But when someone says "what do you have to be depressed about?" it sends me into a sort of snit. As I'd said, Depression is an illness where you aren't sad about something. It's not an emotion that comes and goes with an event the way sadness is. It's a collection of symptoms that pull together and make you feel miserable, weak and unable to function in a normal healthy way. I remember I lost a lot of weight; getting down to 87 pounds at one point. I remember feeling a sense of lingering melancholy and constant anxiety. It got so bad that I couldn't sleep; going days and days without sleeping while my mind raced with thoughts both large and trivial. The breaking point came one morning when I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn't even dress myself. I just couldn't decide and began to cry…my Dad ended up choosing an outfit that matched and handed it to me so that I could at least get it on and make it to school on time. Later that day, I visited the school nurse who called my Mom to come in and discuss the issue. Long story short, I ended up seeing a therapist who helped me cope with mild clinical depression, anxiety disorder, and mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (where I compulsively thought and thought to try and make myself feel better to the tune of never sleeping). Seeing that therapist really helped give me the tools I needed to change my mindset and help me at least get the sleep I needed to function. She taught me techniques on how to quiet my mind so I could enjoy daily activities again. I carry those skills with me to this day.
I needed them again later on in my mid-twenties when I had a great job but a horrible boss. He was pretty abusive to me every single day…it was a nightmare. I began having panic attacks in the morning while driving to work. I'd be driving along and suddenly my chest would feel tight. My heart would begin to race and beat hard. I'd then get short of breath and I'd start sweating. So, I'd pull over the car until I felt calm again. Needless to say, I was slipping into that place again. A place I hated being. But, a visit to the doctor later found me with a shiny new prescription for an anti-anxiety medication. I'd never felt better! My jerk boss didn't even affect me anymore as I floated through the day on a cloud of content. I still wish I could remember what I was taking. I didn't need it for long.
Anywhoo, I battled different depression and anxiety issues for years to varying degrees. After Paige was born, I slipped into postpartum depression that somehow seemed inevitable now that I look back. I was embarking on another unknown. I couldn't plan for a future I had no idea about. I had a whole new life; turning into a stay-at-home mom and spending my days fretting and stressed. I had the worst insomnia and couldn't sleep even when I wanted to. I slowly felt like I was losing my mind. I became so anxious, angry, and withdrawn. I cried all the time and panicked at the smallest things. I barely showered, I never left the house. I just couldn't "go." Like a broken engine. Needless to say, I knew what was happening and called my OB. She recommended a therapist and the OB wrote me a Prozac prescription with the caveat that I see the therapist regularly. I only took the prescription for a few months, but I still see that therapist. It's been great to have someone's impartial ear. She gives me the suggestions I need when I can't see the forest through the trees.

With my current pregnancy, depression has come back and hit me very hard. Harder than it ever has before. It started out as feeling tired all the time. I didn't really think anything of it since I was pregnant and caring for a toddler. Of course I was tired! It got to the point that I was ready to go to bed by 6:30 or 7 at night. Soon, I was tired all day even after all that sleep at night. I would lay and stare at the wall during Paige's naps. I would feel so over-stimulated and overwhelmed by the simplest tasks. Wash the dishes? Hardest thing ever!!! Wipe the counter? UUUGGGGGHHH! Paige spilled her drink? Might as well just pack up the car and drive away forever and ever. Soon, I began to feel so melancholy and anxious my heart would race and race. I began to have a hair-trigger temper where I would yell all day long about nothing in particular. I felt so guilty yelling at my beautiful girl when she was just being a typical toddler. I yelled and felt angry constantly. Next, I never wanted to eat. I stopped showering and caring for myself. It all seemed too much to do. On top of this, I felt so much fear about having a second baby. How would I cope if I could barely function NOW? I felt so worthless; a horrible wife and mother who couldn't even wash the dishes or do laundry anymore. I stopped spending time with my amazing husband as I just wanted to sleep or be alone at every chance I got. He began doing the lion's share of the housework, the cooking, cleaning, and child-rearing tasks. AND he worked full-time. This just made me feel even worse. But, when you are sick…truly sick…many things slide to the bottom of your list as you focus on survival. The problem with depression is that you can't really see it. The person seems fine on the outside; so it can be hard to understand why they can't just get up and function. I wouldn't expect someone who is sick going through chemo to jump out of bed and wash the dishes, do the laundry, etc. I would expect them to be rest and heal. But depression is a separate beast entirely and I never realized how bad one could really feel. I was alive, but unable to function much more than getting the necessities done at minimal levels. The rest of the time found me laying in my bed, staring, voices of constant thoughts chattering through my head. After some time, I began to scare myself with thoughts of hurting myself. I began to think that perhaps my family didn't really need me; my husband was so great at doing it all without me there. Every time some little thing would go wrong, I would cry, panic, and just want to drive off a bridge. I needed a way to express my distress and there just didn't seem any way to do that and do it justice. I felt so lonely, isolated, and scared. Many moments found me about ready to dial 911 so I could go to a hospital for help. I told my OB about it; asking about possible medications and was basically told that nobody would prescribe depression meds to a pregnant woman due to the risks to the baby. I even looked into herbal remedies only to find they aren't for pregnant women either. I was suffering from "Major depression" and couldn't get the help I needed. I was told to exercise and eat right and to try meditation. Well, I couldn't exercise due to my horrible sciatica issues and injured hip. All the constant pain I was in didn't help matters. And, to be fully honest here, the idea that exercise can help when you feel like shooting yourself in the head seems so trite and silly. I felt so defeated; I wanted to protect my baby. But I also felt like I was hanging off a cliff by my fingernails. I felt like I was in a fight for my life. And nobody could help me. I felt like nobody WOULD help me. I wanted someone to notice how much I was hurting. To come save the day. Ultimately, I guess I wanted a break so I could sleep, collect myself, and push forward. But that break just wasn't coming. I was just too sick to ask for extra help. Too guilty. Too embarrassed to impose on anyone. My husband was already doing so much. I just wanted to get in a car and go sleep in a hotel by myself and avoid the world for a week or two. I just couldn't bring myself to ask for what I needed.
And then…we went on vacation. I had a week where I was able to rest, get away, and break the normal routine. My husband did the bulk of the child care duties while I sat in a lounge chair and stared at the ocean. He played with Paige in the waves; laughing and giggling. And it all made me feel so much better. It was a little like hitting a "reset" button. Not that I felt perfect when we returned home, but I felt like I could cope with daily tasks again. Load the dishwasher? OK. Do the laundry? Ok, but only one load today. Clean up the spilled milk? sigh. No biggie. My engine was starting to go again, even if weak.
That was now close to 4 months ago.
As I write this, I'm still in the battle. But it is not NEARLY as severe as it was back in August. My doctor mentioned that the pregnancy hormones were causing havoc and that time was what I needed to feel better. I'm able to achieve the basic tasks on my daily to-do lists and if I can't, well, I don't fret. I know that these feelings are fleeting. They aren't set in stone. They WILL go away, they always improve. But you can bet I will be calling a psychotherapist the second I have this baby. I'm eager to get onto a set regimen of medication that someone will monitor. To be watched by an expert who can truly help me manage this thing…to help me keep my anxiety at bay and my feelings on an even keel. Ongoing and everlasting. To help me live a healthy normal life. For people who don't believe in Antepartum depression, I can tell you for a fact that it is real. Truly real and truly terrifying. I've honestly never felt so horrible in my entire life as I did this past summer and I vow to never let it get that bad again. I feel lucky that I knew what this "thing" was and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As for my husband: he is my treasure. My rock. My everything. I can never find a way to thank him enough for all that he has done for me and our family during this hard time. What can I possibly do to express how grateful and lucky I am for his understanding and tireless efforts? I wish I knew. Words just aren't enough. I just know that when I get better, I will spend every day doing my very best to be all that I know I am. To be the wife and mother I always dreamed I'd be. I would give him the sun, moon and stars in thanks but it would still not be enough to express my gratitude. So, I will spend my life doing my best to be the most happy, content, and healthy wife I can be. Getting the right help from the right people will get me there. I'm still learning. I guess this story, like any other in our lives, is to be continued.
***UPDATE*** Please note that just because the doctors who I spoke with wouldn't prescribe to me doesn't mean that it's the standard of care. I've heard of other doctors who would do it. If you are suffering, please check with your own doctors and see what is available to you or go elsewhere should you need more help. If I'd kept on trying, I'm sure I would have found what I was looking for. But in all honesty, I was quite scared off from the idea when I learned what could happen to the baby. I don't think I could also handle the guilt if something went wrong. But that's a personal choice; not one that fits for everyone. There are plenty of cases where the benefits of the medication far outweigh the risks and you gotta do what you gotta do; bottom line.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy!!!

Christmas 2011


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Me and Wee!!!! Enjoy!!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Little P's Big Girl Room

Ps Big Girl Room

Hi friends!
We finally finished up with Paige's new big girl room! Phew!
We took all the elements that were in her nursery and transferred them over to this new space and changed up the bed, dresser, and bookcase. Her nursery furniture and old room now will belong to Baby N. We're working on his room now!


Nightstand Side

-As you can see, we added a nightstand (Ikea) and added seagrass wallpaper to the front of the drawers to add a little something extra to the look. (Just like we'd done with Paige's dresser in her nursery).

-The bamboo wooden mobile is from Petit Collage.

-The owl print on canvas is also from Petit Collage. Not sure if they are selling it anymore, but they have lots of great choices for wall art!

-The curtains in the yellow chevron pattern were from Windows By Melissa (she was super friendly and easy to work with!).

Curtains


-The butterflies over the bed are removable and can be taken off and put back on over and over and over again. So easy! I love them. They came from Love Mae on Etsy. There's tons of product and great decals and ideas there. I even got Paige a cool paper doll decal from there...it's currently on the wall in my living room.

-The letters came from Michael's craft store. They came in white, so I spray-painted them yellow gloss. Easy!

Over the Bed


-The rug is from her nursery; it had come from Crate and Barrel back in 2008-2009. It's a simple cream shag in size 4 x 6 feet.

-P needs a little step stool to get into the bed; so we found a white one that has a lid that lifts for storage at Buy Buy Baby.

-Her toddler bedrails also came from there.


Book Nook

Paige's book nook is my favorite part of the room.

-Her yellow chair is a slipcover custom-made by Calico Corners. The chair is really a pea-green velvet number I found at the Salvation Army store for 9 bucks when I was in my early twenties.

-The Hooray banner came from the shop called Nice on Etsy. I love it! It's how we felt in bringing Paige into the world.

-The fabric hoops...fabric came from Purl Soho and the hoops came from JoAnne Fabrics

-The bookcase came from Ikea and I painted the back wall of it yellow. It got all scraped up, so I would probably line it with paper once it's all put together (if I were to do it over again).

-The lampshades all came from Anthropologie back in 2008

-The dachshund lamp was found at Modern Nursery

-The kitchen towel draped on the back of the chair is from Anthropologie circa early 2009.

-The pillow on the chair came from West Elm in 2008. It was meant for our bedroom, but Paige kept bringing into her room again and again so I just leave it there now. Ha!

Dollie Bed

We put Paige's little doll bed next to her own bed for now. She's still not really into playing with dolls yet. The doll bed was a steal from Ikea. The blanket was crocheted by my dear friend's mother for Paige when she was born.

Dresser and Hamper

-The bed and dresser came from our local huge furniture chain called Jordan's Furniture. It was on sale as it was to be discontinued. I loved the scallop detail on both the bed and the dresser.

-The elephant hamper came from Home Decorator's Collection. It's the medium sized one in the color honey.

-The stuffed owl came from Modern Nursery.

-You can see I store P's changing pad in the nook next to the dresser and wall. When I need to change her (potty training just can't happen right now) I throw the pad on the bed and go about our business.

-The print above the dresser came from the esteemed Erin Stead, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal for her illustrations in the book A Sick Day for Amos McGee. (For anyone that doesn't know; that medal is basically the "Best Picture" Oscar for illustrators. Doesn't get bigger!) That book is a huge favorite around here; and these illustrations are my favorite from any book by far. She has offered a very limited selection of prints from the book for sale and I jumped at it. I had it framed at Michael's craft store. Paige chose the print she wanted and she loves it. I like that it's a real piece of art that holds monetary value as well as memories. Read more about Erin Stead (this was the first book she's ever illustrated!!!!) and her story here.

Dresser Top

Choo-Choooo

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a picture of Paige's beloved wooden train. Handmade, here!

A Real Closet

I would also be remiss if I didn't show P's real closet inside with no picking up. There's a drawer thingie for her socks, medical stuff, hair stuff and whatnot. And there's a bigger drawer thingie (all from Bed Bath Beyond) to hold some toys. It makes cleanup easy for her. (I certainly won't do it for her!!)


I hope you enjoyed your tour and that you like her space! I love playing in there with her. It's cozy and happy, and most important of all...she loves it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Times They Are A-Changin'!

I went to the doctor yesterday for my routine visit and got to vent a little bit about all the pain I've been in when it comes to my hips, sciatica, etc. How some days I just cannot move. Some days are so painful I just cry a lot of the time. This particular doctor (I see several as part of a practice) didn't know about my struggles and said "Do you want to deliver at 39 weeks?" I about jumped a mile and yelled "Yes! If at all possible!" So, she wrote a note in the file and I guess we shall see what happens. You know what? That's 6 weeks away. 6. Six. SIX. SIIIIIIIIIIX. I'm so eager and scared all at once.

Can I share something? I've been terrified, scared and in denial most of this pregnancy that another baby is actually coming. Let me also quickly insert that I've also been thrilled and excited; but I cannot deny the overarching feeling of fear. Back in May, when we'd originally thought we'd start trying for Baby #2 I began to feel so much anxiety and stress around the whole topic. We flew down to Virginia for the wedding of close friends and I meekly admitted to Chris on the plane that I just didn't feel ready yet. With Paige's therapies and so many unknowns I just felt so overwhelmed. He seemed disappointed, but understood and was supportive. I said, "How about we wait until the fall?" That closed the topic and we had a wonderful weekend. Of course, that's the same weekend my period was late and I breathlessly peered at a positive pregnancy test just a few days later. The decision had been made. I felt a mix of emotions...mostly happiness. But I also felt confusion and fear. And those emotions slowly took over. You know, all the fears of having a second kid might conjure up along with caring for a child with some special needs. I immediately ran out and bought books about having other kids, anything to bring me comfort. I was so fearful I cried a lot; I am a planner and the great unknown of having a second baby is a lot for me to wrap my head around. I thought about the post-partum depression I'd had after giving birth to Paige. Would I go through it all again? The sleep deprivation was also very difficult for me to tolerate; I nearly went insane. Was I ready to face that again but with 2 kids? Would this next child end up having some special needs too? I nearly drove myself bonkers. So, what did I do? I put it out of my mind. I have been in denial for months; just ignoring the fact a baby is, in fact, coming. I guess it's been my way of coping with the stresses and the unknowns. Why worry about them when you have no control? This past month something miraculous has occurred: The Nesting Instinct. My mind simply will not let me forget the baby is coming. I'm running around getting little clothes washed and folded. I'm excitedly putting his room together. I'm marveling over all these little things that are going to belong to my little boy. OUR little boy. And the fear is melting away. I know from experience that there is no way to really prepare for a baby and for what is to come. You just roll with it; you DO it and you get on with it. And you enjoy each moment. Thank you, Nesting Instinct! It's the best Christmas Gift I could get. Peace of Mind and Excitement.
Who out there has had 2 or more kids? How did you cope with all the extra stress? Any advice for this fearful lady?
Thanks for listening. This has been so hard to admit. So hard to talk about. Probably the hardest words I've written in a long time. But, I'm happy to know the intensity of the fear is lifting and I'm allowing myself to feel the excitement and thrill I've been wanting and wishing for.

Friday, December 9, 2011

32 Weeks

32 weeks

Hi friends!
Just wanted to pop in to say hello! I'm 32 weeks today and holding strong! Still barely walking and in tons of pain but I try to hide it for the photo! :)
I think I've started nesting because today I was in a crazy lady mode running through the mall doing errands (I say running, but I was inching along and hobbling at my fastest turtle rate) and rushing around the house cleaning baby's new clothes, sheets, etc. I feel this incredible need to finish his nursery already; I just need a few more decorative accessories. We're waiting for his chair; who knows when the heck that will come. It may not even come until after he's born! yeesh. I wish I hadn't ignored the nursery for so long but oh well. Ya can't do it all, right? But, the basic bones of the room are coming together and I'm hoping it will be ready by the beginning of February. Fingers are crossed! In the meantime, we are preparing for Christmas and all the fun. Paige seems super excited about it all and has learned many a Christmas carol. It's been fun. But, I'm off to eat dinner now (food!!!!) but I'll pop in again soon. Hugs to you all and hope your holiday preps and plans are going well!

Friday, November 11, 2011

28 weeks

Kiss


Hi friends!
I'm 28 weeks along today. Time is flying! The pregnancy is going well; baby boy is healthy and growing well. Because of my T-shaped uterus, I go in every 6 weeks for an ultrasound to make sure the baby is growing properly. We got to see the little guy yesterday and he's lookin' good! At one point, I could see his eyes opened, and I could see his mouth opening and closing. He's getting a chubby baby look about him already. Yay! Paige got to see him and she kept saying "He's so cute! Just like dolly!" LOL. I will agree that he's cute.
The not so good news? I can barely walk. I have had a torn labrum in my right hip since 2006. And the pregnancy hormones make it hurt A LOT. It's a horrible shocking pain that often sends me to the floor or into involuntary screams. It SUCKS. I would rate the pain a 10 out of 10. But now, my left hip is experiencing similar pain. But I think that is sciatica. Because sometimes I feel bad twinges in my lower back and back of my left leg with it. Either way, some days I can walk ok with some effort, and other days I just sit there and cry and wonder how I'm going to get through the day while trying to care for Paige when Chris is at work. It's hard. The other day was the worst. I was up screaming in the night and the pain was so intense. The next morning found me barely able to take steps. I manged to squeeze a visit in to the Orthopedist and he gave me a cortizone shot in my right hip. It's got a 55% chance of working, so we shall see. That was 2 days ago and I'm able to walk today, so it must be helping! That visit to the doctor was hell because I had to bring Paige with me, I was alone, and was carrying all the crap you need to have with a toddler. (Let me just insert that Chris wanted to be home with me, but had to be at work for reviews and meetings with staff, etc. You know the drill...he just couldn't get away.) It took forever to get from the car to the office. And P kept tantruming...not wanting to be there in the waiting room and then not wanting to wait in the exam room. I'd brought toys, even the I-Pad but nothing would help. She just kept crying and screaming until I began to cry too. I could barely move, much less comfort her. The nurse kept coming in to try and entertain her and just looked at me with sympathy. Blah. Luckily, one of Paige's therapists arrived for her regular appointment (she was happy to meet us there at the doctor) and whisked her off to the waiting area with her huge sack of toys and games. The angel of the day! P was happy as a clam after that and I got my damned shot.
Anyway, I just needed to vent. Being in constant serious pain sucks. I have to care for my little one despite it all and just push through. Basically, I've been sweating a lot, gritting my teeth a lot, and I go to bed early at night since I use up all my energy. Luckily, there are good days mixed in where the pain is tolerable and I can function; so that is what carries me through. Let's just say I'm looking forward to our little boy's arrival for more reasons than one!

27.2 Weeks Pregnant

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Halloween 2011

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Hi friends!
Drama central over here. We've been enjoying lots of fall festivities and fun. Until the weekend of Halloween when a Nor'easter hit our area and we got a foot of snow the night before trick or treating. We're used to snow, you know? But the trees hadn't yet lost their leaves and the sudden freezing temperatures combined with the heavy snow made many trees fall, explode, lose limbs, etc. It knocked power out for a few days for us, and for over a week for many people in this area! It got SO FRIGGIN' COLD in the house...no heat, no real running water, etc. etc. It was bad. Luckily, we got our gas fireplace working and we retreated here and there to a friend's house (who had a generator). Just as I was packing to head to my parents for the rest of the week, our power returned. Phew! The night of the storm was scary. It was so dark outside; no power anywhere. And all you could hear was the exploding trees in the woods...they sounded like mini bombs going off. One tree fell and just missed our house. It crashed into our yard and broke several pieces of our fence. I thought for sure it was going to hit the roof over our bed, but it missed! Needless to say, I couldn't sleep after that. When we ventured out the next day (to unsuccessfully find a place to eat) we couldn't go a block without a tree that had fallen or a downed wire. There was nowhere to go that was open; everyone had no power, no phones, no internet, etc. It's weird how we become so reliant on such comforts. It was scary to go without them, even if just for a few days. Anyhoo, Trick or Treating was postponed by our town until this past Sunday and I'm so grateful Paige got to wear her costume and get candy...as we'd been talking about for the whole month! I'm even MORE grateful for heat. For water. For the creature comforts we've come to rely on and it reminds me how lucky we are to have them. So lucky. Now, to start saving up for a good generator. It's life or death when you don't have heat in freezing temps. sigh.
That's New England for ya.

P.S. Paige wanted to be the Big Bad Wolf for Halloween. She Huffed and Puffed, but our house is still standing. Phew!

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IMG_3976

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Featured



Heeeeey!
Paige's old room was featured on TLC's "Parentables" blog in their nesting section. Check it out!
Of course, she's in a new "big girl room" now and I'm brainstorming how to finish decorating the new walls. It's taking forever to figure out something unique that we like. Hmmm. I'm eager to get it done; but I've just been in a sort of design block. We'll call it "busy with mothering a toddler" block. Yeah, that's it. Don't even get me started on baby boy's nursery plans. SIGH. It all resides in my head...getting it all OUT is the challenge. :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Singing

I had to share this video; Paige is really coming out of her "shell" and using her language. We're really proud of how hard she's been working! Early Intervention has been such a great program. Woot!!! (she'll be 2.5 at the end of this month...a few more weeks!)


Friday, October 7, 2011

23 weeks

Hi friends!
We're 23 weeks along and doing well! Little boy is doing well in there and his growth is on track. Since I have a T-shaped uterus (they call it bicornuate) I go in every 6 to 8 weeks for an ultrasound to track his growth and progress. I can tell you now, he moves around a lot; mostly at night. Makes me nervous for when he arrives! :)

23 weeks

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Un-friendly

Hey there!
So, here's the story I teased yesterday:
Monday was a HORRIBLE day. It sucked ass. Paige was in tantrum city and I was exhausted and cranky by the end. I won't go into particulars but you know the drill.
Chris came home from work and said: Let's go someplace fun and silly...I'll take you to Friendly's for a simple dinner and ice cream. I felt too tired to go, but thought it might be fun and redeem SOME part of the day. Off we went.
So, we waited forever to get seated even though there were TONS of open seats. Anyway, we ordered our drinks and waited. After a time, I heard the waitress approach and I heard Chris go OH CRAP! Just then, a felt a glass of soda land in my lap. And the other splashed over my leg. Huge glasses. Of soda. Full of ice. Emptied all over me. I never saw it coming because she approached from behind and the tray wobbled...thus sending the drinks over my right shoulder and into my lap. My entire sweater and pants were SOAKED THROUGH. I was dripping. And shivering. And had ice inside my pants. My almost-six-month-along-belly was shivering. I just sat there and said: "Well, this day has sucked so bad and that was the cherry on top." The girl was a teen and it was her first day. I then felt bad for her, so I told her everything would be fine and these things happen all the time. I even made up a story about how I'd done it during my waitressing days. Needless to say, I didn't have a change of clothes with me. But I wanted my grilled cheese, dammit! So, we sat there. I was so embarrassed because the whole restaurant had stopped to stare and gawk. But at least everyone was looking sympathetic. Too bad the girl brought the wrong drinks the next time around and I had to send them back. And then, she brought Chris the wrong dinner. We had to wait for a new one. SIGH. So much for the fun night; but at least it made for an amusing albeit chilly story. I was happy to get home to my warm shower that night; of course laundry had to be done right away lest any stains set in.
They took 20% of the price off the bill and gave me a little voucher for a free entree for the next time we came in. Doesn't it seem like more should have been done? Nobody apologized for the wrong drinks or entree. The girl wasn't even nice about that. Anyhoo, they announced yesterday that they are going bankrupt. The branch we went to never does a good job, so I hope they close that one! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Progress

Hi!
Just checking in to let you know that we're nearing the end of our 3rd day without TV or media! Monday was hard and horrible, but Tuesday and today were great! Paige hasn't even asked for TV today and she's been more present, clear, playful and imaginative. Her eye contact is great and has lengthened and she's been making up elaborate play schemes; even making up different voices for the different characters she plays with. She's been much more chatty in the car and is able to answer my questions and tell me about things we just did. Score!
I'm much more tired at days' end, but it's been worth it so far! We'll see how the next few days go.
I'll be back tomorrow with a funny story from the other night; it involves being out to eat at Friendlys with Paige and Chris...and the waitress who accidentally dumped all the drinks on me. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

De-stimulation and simplification

Hi friends!
I hope you are all well! We've been doing just fine, thanks!
Last week, Paige had a horrible week. Each day seemed to be filled with tantrums, tears, whining, moaning, groaning, and overall grouchiness. Of course, there were some fun and happy moments too; but not enough to balance out all the crying going on! I was getting so upset and frustrated; what was wrong? (Besides being TWO) I realized that she'd been getting more television and computer time than I would normally like and some of her therapies had been cancelled so her routine was disrupted. Paige is easily overstimulated. She LOVES the television and the computer and would sit for hours and hours if I let her; but all the lights, sounds, and colors really do a number on her. She ends up acting wild and "hyper-drugged" for hours afterward if not another whole day. She becomes "unregulated" and unable to listen to and follow instructions. It's as if she's the only one in the room. She gets so hyper and jittery. Some kids can handle it; mine just can't. I try to limit it to a show or two, but it always ends up with her screaming for more like an addict. Some days I just feel so worn out and tired that the TV seems to be the only solution for me to get a little break. There it is.
I've done a ton of reading lately...trying to find ideas of what we can do to create a calming environment that soothes Paige while still being productive and fun. I stumbled upon some principles of Waldorf education in the home and the ideas instantly resonated with me. While I can't say I agree with the full Waldorf way, there are tenets that I believe can bring more peace and joy into our home.
One thing I found that I wanted to talk about were ideas of things to do without TV and instead of feeling like I have to spend the whole day playing the role of "entertainer." You know what I mean? I found this post over at The Parenting Passageway and it opened my eyes to including Paige in the daily routines of life. By doing so, I can get things done and she gets to learn new skills and gain self-esteem. We all know the work of keeping the home is plentiful. I find that these days, a lot of tasks are streamlined thanks to electric dishwashers, mixers, etc. But, I can still break things down and find little things for Paige to help with.
I can:
-Give Paige a basin and some soapy water and some silverware to wash. I can show her how to clean each piece and dry it off one at a time.
-Show Paige where each piece of silverware goes in the drawer so she can help put it away (with the help of a stool)
-Give Paige a whisk and she can beat the eggs for me (really WITH me) (at breakfast time)
-give Paige each dish and show her where it goes on the table (eventually she can set the table)
-have Paige clean up her plates and put them on the counter after meals and snacks. She can wipe her crumbs, push in her chair, and wash her hands and face with a cloth.
-Start showing Paige how to fold using washcloths and towels first, then build up to other things.
-Give Paige laundry to put away in each room. Perhaps even if it means only giving her one thing at a time. This will certainly kill a lot of time!
-Have her help me sort laundry and put it in the washer and then the dryer.
-Have her push the heavy laundry basket across the floor for me (heavy work is good for sensory input into her joints and helps regulate her system)
-Show her how to spread jelly on her toast/bagel
-Show her how we water the plant
-Let Paige give the dog her food
-Teach Paige how we make the beds and she can help
-Teach her to put items in the recycling bin in the garage
-Show her how to sweep and mop and wipe
-Give her a spray bottle of water and a little cloth to "wash the windows"
-Get cups and practice pouring from one to another. Perhaps we'll start by using beans from her sensory bean box?

These are all little ways I can include Paige in the tasks of home life and kill some time while we're at it. Perhaps the challenge of learning these new things will be just the thing to keep her feeling happy and challenged and NOT BORED. I expect that each thing would take a lot of practice to master; but when treated as an activity and not a chore it can become fun! AND I'd still be accomplishing things (albeit slowly). Better that than a cranky 2 year old who becomes impossible to please!

We are also needing to work on self-care skills such as hand-washing/drying, dressing/undressing, appropriate tooth-brushing, washing the face/body, drinking from a cup properly, using the spoon without spilling everything everywhere, brushing hair, eventual potty training, and so forth. These all take time, attention and practice too!

Between all these things and her regular free-play, art time, sensory play, outdoor time, story times, and whatnot the day should be pretty filled up and TV-free. I recognize that the commitment on my part is going to be much higher, but I think it will be for the best in the end. When I feel overwhelmed or discouraged I try to reflect on my commitment to be an at-home Mom and what it all means to me and why. I do my best to give Paige the things she needs to flourish amongst her developmental challenges. It is hard. Very, very hard. But it can also be rewarding. I think I'll be happier in helping her accomplish useful things during the day rather than my simply being her "entertainer." That routine gets old quickly. It is easy to burn out yet still feel like I'm not doing much...especially now that I'm not in the career world. But I also remind myself that this time will go by fast and it's simply a season of life. This is my current calling and I want to know that I'm doing my best. My best looks different each day, that's for sure.
I have more to say on the topic of creating a more soothing calm home, but I'll leave it at this for now. We'll see how we do with it all tomorrow! Be back soon!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nesting

playroom

Hi friends!
My first bits of nesting instinct have kicked in. Paige has new goals with her therapists and it inspired me to reorganize her playroom to suit them. I love the changes!
She had a book nook in the corner of the room that we moved out of there and into our family room. She is always so busy playing in the room that she never takes as much interest in the books there. And it took up a lot of space. Now that the book sling and cushion are in the family room, Paige can be found over there reading through all her books aloud and participating in quiet play with her animals and dollhouse. It's much more harmonious and peaceful.
book nook

Books and Animals

Her play kitchen had been in our family room (we tried to encourage her to use it there to no real avail), so we moved it into the playroom where the book nook was. We moved her table and chairs to the center of the floor in front of the play kitchen to encourage her to "cook" and create tea parties.
Kitchen Corner
The blue bookcase used to hold all of Paige's musical instruments. She just tossed them onto shelves and it didn't make much sense organizationally. So, I put them into a basket on the toy shelf unit and am now using the shelves for all the play kitchen food, utensils, baking materials, etc. All of the kitchen-related items are together in the corner and she's already played with it a bunch of times in one day! Now, she is ready to learn about sequencing and extending her pretend-play story lines to include "filling the teapot" and "setting the table" and "pouring the tea into the cups" and "giving cookies to her guests." You know the drill. For language, she is working on prepositions (in, next to, under, on, below, etc.) and number concepts (a few, many, most of, some of, all of) and we can work on this with the tea party theme too. I will even put napkins in the area for her to work on her folding skills. These are all skills that will transfer over well in social situations with other children when the time comes; AND they are skills that can transfer over to "real life" in the home at dinner time. We're excited!

Toys and Puzzles

Art Corner

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's a....BOY!

It's a boy!


Yes, we have a little guy on the way! Here is his first photo.

The ultrasound was done at about 17 weeks. I'm 21 weeks now; I'm sorry it took so long to share! There's been a lot of madness going on and the blog has been a victim for sure. I hope to share more about it soon.
Isn't it exciting? My mind is still wrapping around the idea of a whole other gender! hee hee. Boy clothes, boy issues, etc. etc. It's obviously a whole new thing! I'm excitedly nervous.

Of course, you know me...my mind is on his nursery planning. Obviously, the most important things first, right? Ha! Chris and I have been making brainstorming lists now that we've decided on colors and a sort of "theme." It will be a while before it is done, but I'm excited about it! I've just decided on the fabric for the roman shades, so I guess that will be the starting point. We're also using Paige's original nursery room and are keeping the wall color the Robin's Egg blue. We are full of new ideas and just have to execute them.

For anyone who's asked: We are still putting finishing touches on Paige's new room. I'm still figuring out the last elements of wall decor in there and then we plan to give you a tour! It looks a lot like her old room since we brought over most of the accessories, but there's new twists to it.
So, there you have it!

Wow. A little man on the way; we are blessed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

18 weeks and Aruba 2011

Aruba 2011 025

Hi friends!
We just got back from a trip to Aruba. Not a bad place to spend my 18th week of pregnancy. Now, as I write this I am now 19 weeks along.
I spent the time laying in the shade, playing with Paige, swimming, and napping. Chris did the lion's share of the work with caring for Paige and me. I'm a lucky gal.
Paige did great on the trip and was thrilled with all the wildlife she saw there: Mostly sand crabs, hermit crabs, iguanas, lizards, fish, and the flamingos. Seventh heaven for her. She talks about all the critters like they are her best buddies. The trip did wonders for her as she is now talking up a storm about what she saw and has started singing songs in their entirety...not just lines of songs here and there. Such cool developments!
Here are some photos from the trip to give a taste of our experience; see you soon friends!
Aruba 2011 146

Aruba 2011 151

Aruba 2011 124

Aruba 2011 111



Aruba 2011 073

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Swings

So, we made some cool therapy swings for Paige in the basement. Weeeee!

ALERT
Let me be the first to say we are not swing experts; but used the suggestions of a very well respected Occupational Therapist/Dr. after observing her own swings in her own clinic in her basement. If you use our following suggestions, we are not responsible for injuries or damages! Try this stuff at your own risk. These are HOME MADE therapy swings.
ALERT OVER

First, we secured the swings to a floor joist in the basement. This is the only kind of place that can support this kind of weight; you know? We used one of those huge 6 inch anchoring screws. Here's a photo of one:
bigscrew

We made an inner tube swing. I went to tire shop that specializes in tires for commercial trucks, tractors, etc. They sell lots of sizes of inner tubes and I told them what sort of size I needed (big, and about 4 feet-ish for the tire) and we guessed. The tube is a touch smaller than I'd planned, but it still works great. They blew the tire up for me. Also, I didn't get it used because it would have black residue all over it. eeeek.
There was a HUGE nozzle thingie coming off the tube so I had to wrap it in duct tape around and around the tire to secure it against the tire so it wasn't sticking out. Aesthetics are not important with this stuff.
Chris secured some rope (the kind that supports 250 pounds of weight or something) to the tire and to a carabiner (from Home Depot) which is all connected to the giant screw in the ceiling. You can sort of study the photo to see the setup. Chris made a sort of "chain" out of the rope, so if the tire needs to raise up or down in height, it can simply link into one of those little holes. You can sort of see them in the photo tailing off to the left.
tireswing1


We have a huge old mattress underneath the swing for safety. Paige likes to drape her body through the middle hole and lay on her belly. She then sort of runs around and swings in circles and left to right, super-hero style.
The trick to this is to raise the tire high enough to keep Paige from wanting to lean all the way through to try and touch the mattress with her hands. She was constantly falling out of the tire on her head. So, we got the height up enough so that she didn't dare try to lean forward to touch. She just knows it's too far down to reach.
This kind of swinging is something I remember from my elementary school days on the regular strap swings at the playground. I would lie on my belly and swing. But, Paige can't reach those yet and this allows her more circling movement since it's hanging from one point. If the tire were bigger, and when Paige gets older, she could SIT in the middle hole (like sitting on a horse) and hug it. She could hold a stretchy piece of therapy band or fabric with me holding the other end to pull her all different directions on the swing. It's relaxing and fun. Just ideas.
tireswing2

So, that's the inner tube swing. The point of it is to give Paige deep pressure sensory input through her belly while she satisfies her need for spinning and swinging. After time on this swing, Paige is more alert, focused, and "organized." Her language usage spikes and she is able to express herself so much better. I'm told this is because the swing gives her body the sensory input it needs so she can focus on the tasks at hand. It sort of "tunes out" all the things that distract her so she can concentrate and focus. It's like it clears out the cobwebs and suddenly she's able to be in the moment. Her motor skills also become more refined and exact. I'm told this is because she has a better feel for where her body is in space, thus moving more carefully.
No matter what, I LOVE this swing and what it does for her.

The other swing; with the same sorts of benefits and uses is the hammock/blanket swing.

This swing is made of stretchy fleece and acts like a hammock. It works like a blankie taco with Paige as the filling. LOL. It is hanging from the same kind of screw and rope set up that the inner tube has.

blanketswing1

I got 3 yards of the stretch fleece (fabric stores or Walmart carries it) and I sewed a sort of pocket into each end. The pocket is about a foot wide (I folded the pocket over to the 24 inch mark in). I sewed across, but using several little vertical lines to keep it from ripping apart from the weight of the person inside. Here's a photo of the tons of little vertical lines. You can see if you look closely.
blanketswingstitch

Once all sewed, I threaded each pocket onto a U-Bolt piece of hardware I found at Ace hardware that looks like this: (it's a big one; maybe 5 inches or 6 inches across).
http://www.nutty.com/ubolts.shtml
If you look at the diagram in that link, you can see a sort of plate with nuts on the other side that keep the plate on. I also got 2 more nuts to go on the other side of the plate and tightened both together to keep them from just unscrewing over time. In all, I got 2 u-bolts and 4 additional nuts.

Anyway, I threaded this through each pocket and secured all the nuts. I was left with what looks like a gigantic blue handbag. LOL. I simply put the two handles onto a carabiner and clipped it to the rope. The rope was tied with many loops, again, for easy height adjusting.
blanketswing2

We have ours hanging mere inches off the floor because we use it for Paige to lay on her belly with her arms out. Her arms touch the floor so she can move herself in different directions and in circles. We often spread puzzle pieces out all over the place and she has to "fly around" to gather them and put them into the puzzle. She gets a lot of input in her stomach and has fun all the while. It also satisfies her need to swing and spin. She also loves to "be an airplane" with her arms out to the sides while I push her back and forth and all around.
Also, she can lay on her back inside the hammock with her knees bent gently. She gets lost in there! I gently sway her from side to side while she rests. It's very calming and relaxing for her when she's in the mood for it.

I intend to provide photos of these swings in action once I get Chris down there to help her swing while I take the photos.
I hope this post made some sort of sense. I'm no engineer nor am I an expert at explaining things! I hope the photos can do all the talking; let me know if you need any clarification.

And please know that Paige doesn't always want to do the swings even when she needs them. I encourage her by saying some beloved toy wants to swing. "C'mon Paige! Big dinosaur wants to swing! Let's go!" or "Dollie really wants to swing, lets help her!" We give the toy a turn and inevitably Paige wants a turn after that. But I NEVER force her to do it. It's totally up to her in terms of when she starts and when she stops. She has full control. We like to try and do it first thing in the morning when she's most alert and up for things. Also, supposedly, this sort of intense sensory activity has up to 5 hours of lasting "organizing" input. That's a lot of bang for the activity! Ideally, we would do this activity twice per day (morning and mid-day) but I haven't gotten her to do it that frequently yet. We're working on it!
So, there you have it.
Phew!



Monday, August 22, 2011

Tired

Several days ago Paige went down for a nap after a particularly moody day up to that point. She made up for it, though, by being quite snuggly and huggable just before nap. I tucked her in, gave her a kiss and shut her door with a sigh of relief. I went to my own room feeling so depleted and defeated. I got under the covers; laying on my left side, and pulled those sheets up over my right ear. I just sort of stayed right there in the silence and stared at the window and my mirror on the wall; not thinking. This sort of melancholy washed over me and my mind began to consider how Paige would one day be too big to be interested in cuddling with me or sitting in my lap to read a book. My very favorite things. It's rare she wants to cuddle, but in a few years it will likely be a thing of the past. The thought made my throat close up. A big tear welled up in my right eye and slipped out and down across the bridge of my nose and plopped down onto the pillow. It fell the exact same way my brother's tears did the day my grandmother died. He was nine (almost ten) and I was four (almost five). I was too little to understand the gravity of what was happening. I sat on the floor solemnly studying my brother's face as he lay on his side on the couch. He was clutching the pillow beneath his head and had such a calm face. I had never seen him cry (that I'd noticed to that point in my young life) and I was fascinated by the chubby tears that silently rolled out and down across the bridge of his nose and plopped onto the cushion. Perhaps it was the first time I'd noticed that someone else could have sad feelings too. Someone that seemed so big and strong. It's an emotion that ties us all together for whatever the reason. Anyway, a few of my own tears fell as I recalled that day in July so many years ago. Now, I was certainly hormonal. Certainly melancholy. I took a deep breath in and realized just how worn out I feel from all we have been working through lately. From trying to be strong every second. It was necessary to lay still and give in, just for a little bit. Soon, I fell asleep and woke up with the tiniest bit of extra energy; enough to press on through the rest of the day anyway. Not every day feels like a triumph. It's important to note the days that are hard, cumbersome and tiresome. There's a lot of those lately. But they always remind me to appreciate and treasure the good ones. The sweet ones that lives are built around. I know more and more are on their way.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Weekending

Even princesses like to keep busy. Enjoy your weekends!!!

princesses work
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