My week in ten paragraphs

Noise-cancelling earbuds work just like ear plugs, if not better. Which is really nice on those days when I need to focus on editing and my son needs to listen to Ryan’s World at volumes so loud the neighbors across the street can hear it.

I learned…somewhere (can’t put my hands on the article right now) that weaning can cause depression and menopause-like symptoms. So I’m in a chicken-or-egg quandary here. One thing’s clear: The hot flashes are getting worse instead of better. Just in time for summer! Did I mention that in Barry’s wake we’re experiencing heat indexes of 110+ degrees?

I find gummies to be unspeakably disgusting, unlike the weirdos I live with. R had a bag of gummies in his car, which in this heat melted into a big steak-like mass. And they ate it anyway.

Our kitchen faucet has leaked since we moved in. YouTube made the fix sound simple. What I thought was going to be a 5-minute procedure turned into a 2-hour ordeal that ultimately culminated in just replacing the whole thing. During the faucet replacement, R periodically called me out of my office to give me show-and-tell progress updates. (The inner workings of the faucet were very rusty and gross.) During one of these updates, I was distracted by the music he was listening to. “Did he just say ‘My dog is bigger than yours?'” I asked. “No,” laughed R. “He said ‘My cock is bigger than yours.'” I like my version better.

Last month, when Anya had her nature camp, Kai begged to go to camp too. So I signed him up for a preschool day camp at the botanic gardens. He was excited to go to camp like a big boy…at first. When he realized that the mommies were leaving, he crumpled. I even stayed at camp with him; it didn’t help. After an solid hour of him begging me to take him home, I relented. He later told me that while he liked seeing the worm (it was a big one — as long as my foot, easily), he didn’t want to go to camp unless Anya was there. So I paid $125 for him to see a worm.

I’ve been doing Illustrator training again (lynda.com videos on LinkedIn — Deke McClelland is amazing), and while I watch the videos I’ve taken the opportunity to stand and stretch the muscles and ligaments in my lower back and sides that are hurting me so. (I tried looking them up so I could list them by name, but when Google served up anatomy photos instead of just illustrations, I decided I could happily die not knowing what they are called.) Turns out stretching in the morning makes me feel better all day. I need to figure out a way to make this habit. I’ve also learned that in order to make the pain better, I have to first lean into it. There’s a life lesson in that.

Two things I’ve been trying to make time for lately are non-yoga exercise and Duolingo. It’s too damn hot to walk outside, so I’ve been trying to do the step exercises on Wii Fit. But I end up having to fight Kai for the balance board and everyone ends up mad. I’m thinking I need to start getting up at 4 and squeeze in some steps before work. The Duolingo is going much better, because Kai likes to practice with me. His German’s not bad — maybe better than mine, even.

This Instagram post from Twisted Doodles had me sobbing. Though our circumstances are different — she could have another child, but chooses not to — the feeling is the same. It’s why I record in text, photos, and video my children’s every waking thought and accomplishment. The sense that something is slipping away even as you hold it is strong. I waited such a very long time to be a mother, and childhood passes so quickly.

The kids dug in to my workout gear cabinet and found my tai chi ball. I was having trouble explaining to them what it was for, so I decided to show them. Thanks to the YouTube app on our TV, the vast array of videos on YouTube are now useful to me —  I can actually see and hear what’s going on now. Bonus: The kids did tai chi with me! It was a short routine, just 5 minutes, but that was pretty much the only 5 minutes I didn’t have to fuss at them that day. I may try to make this a thing.

Last weekend, we all pitched in and cleaned Anya’s room. It has floor now! This week, after a couple of snags, we bought paint for the kids’ rooms (blue for Kai, aqua for Anya) and Friday we painted both because I am an insane person. Next up is furniture. Pics to come.

 

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Simple mango milkshake

I was going to take a photo of the milkshake for this post, but Kai drank it all before I got the chance.

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Luckily, I got a second chance: Anya asked for one the next day. This time I managed to snap a couple of photos (of which the top photo is one) before Kai reclaimed his cup.

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The kids are avid Coraline fans, so I have created various versions of her mango milkshake for them. Usually the shakes involve bananas — we almost always have some bananas on the brink — and I make extra so I can freeze some in popsicle sleeves for healthyish snacks. But I was in a hurry and also out of bananas, so I whipped this up for Kai. He declared it delicious and told me I am a good mommy, so it must have been good.

This recipe makes a small (8 ounces) milkshake; feel free to double (or triple!) the ingredients if you are not a little boy.

 

Simple mango milkshake

1/3 cup good quality vanilla ice cream
1/3-1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/3 cup orange juice, or to taste

Blend ingredients together until smooth.

Mama’s magic go juice

A recipe! I know — it’s been a while. I’m still fumbling with these food sensitivities. I think I have this smoothie down, though. Nothing in it sets off my stomach, and it keeps me full for hours. I can eat and work and not worry about crumbs in the keyboard. Plus I get my fruit without having to, well, chew it.

 

Mama’s magic go juice

1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 scoop pea protein powder (I like JustPea)
2 teaspoons sugar
10 strawberries (I like mine frozen)
1-2 cups cranberry juice, to desired consistency

Blend the oil, seeds, protein powder, sugar, and a little bit of the juice together until smooth. Add the strawberries and 1 cup of the juice and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more juice.

Insert straw. Drink. Get stuff done.

7 going on 13

My daughter has been diagnosed with premature thelarche. Which, if you’re not up on your medical terminology (this was a new one on me), means she’s developing breast buds a little ahead of schedule.

She is 7. Nearly 8, but still…7. With the beginnings of breasts.

That’s not the most upsetting portion of the situation to me. Because we went to see the doctor, and she ordered a hand x-ray to establish whether Anya’s skeleton was developed beyond her years, and it’s not. So we have avoided the hormone therapy we might have endured. No, what makes me sad/happy is this:

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Mom and I took Anya for a girls’ shopping trip. We used to shop all the time before Kai was born, and after he was born until he began boycotting clothes shopping. It’s been harder since Mom’s been on oxygen, but she’s doing much better these days. So we went out.

But just look at my girl.

In my mind, she looks like this.

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And this.

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And this.

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But she’s also helping me create weekly menus and insisting I let her clean the bathrooms and having discussions about pop music with my mother.

Yesterday we had to buy her new clothes (because she’s up a dress size) and shoes (because she’s up TWO sizes — putting her feet a mere three sizes smaller than mine). She’s eating roughly 4 meals a day these days. The girl who, not so long ago, told me “I don’t really like food” ate two dinners last night and wanted a snack when we got home. At 9 p.m.

Anya says she’s nearly a teenager. I tell her that, no matter what her body is doing, she won’t be a teenager for 5 years.  There is no denying, however, that she’s more mature mentally than I was at her age. I remember lamenting the loss of the playground when I entered 6th grade and we moved to the other side of the school. My classmates were losing interest in playing; they wanted to talk about hair and makeup and clothes and boys. I still wanted to swing. While she loves to play, don’t get me wrong — Anya is swiftly growing more sophisticated in her interests. I don’t see her as regretting the passing of childhood like I did. She’s more forward-looking than I ever was.

It’s a lot of fun, having a big girl. I have someone to talk to, someone to shop with, someone to bake and walk and watch movies with. But it also makes me ache.

Morning snuggles

Dawn. From the other side of my office door, I hear bare feet whisper-stumbling across hardwood. My door opens and my daughter shuffles in, a sleepy scowl on her face, to curl up in my lap as she’s done every day of her nearly 8 years. It’s getting harder for her to do that now; she comes up to my shoulder these days, and is nearly half my weight. But we manage, for old time’s sake, to snuggle together for a few moments. I stroke her hair as her eyes flutter shut, her face serene as when she was a newborn. Just for a moment, I’m cradling my baby — then she’s off to the kitchen in search of a cuppa and her tablet.

Soon after she leaves, I hear the scuffling of smaller feet on the boards outside my door. In bursts my son, making his usual early morning grumpy-owl face. He lunges at me and I lift him up; he flings his arms around my neck and hugs me tight, our hearts beating against each other, as he pats my back and I rub his. We hold each other like that for a moment, then he too lays down in my arms — not nursing, not anymore, but still enjoying the feeling of being cradled. I ask how he slept, and he tells me elaborate dreams that probably made more sense if you were in them with him. I kiss his head, and he kisses me all over my face. Then he’s off — to play, watch tablet, pester his sister, or chase the Roomba around and chastise it when it gets stuck under furniture.

Every morning of their lives, I’ve been here. If they’re hurt, scared, sick, lonely, hungry, bored, or just want a hug, I’m steps away. They sometimes get sick of me, and that’s okay. They know I’m here, and that’s the important thing. Being here in the morning when they wake up is one of my favorite perks of working from home. So important is our little routine that my son sometimes sleepwalks to my office in the middle of the night, looking for me. (We cosleep, so he’s slipping out of my arms to do this — which is how I know he’s sleepwalking.)

It’s just for a little while, though. Every day, they’re growing. One day all too soon they won’t come in to crawl on my lap when they wake up. That day is going to break my heart, but it will also mean I have done my job.

In the meantime, I welcome these little interruptions — even when they distract me from my deadlines. Deadlines will always be there, but kids are only small for such a short time.

Talks with my daughter

I’m currently trying to build time alone with my daughter into my schedule. Walks are ideal, because when we go for walks, she talks to me. Really talks. The questions that have been nagging her come out. The things I most want to say to her finally get said. And we relate on that deep level I’d always hoped I would with my daughter.

One of the things we talk about while we walk is consent. Not in a sexual sense, though I see that conversation emerging in the distance. We talk about how people treat her. About how I, as her parent and protector, do and do not allow her to be treated. About how she can and should insist she be treated.

I’ve broken up with the kids’ dentist. The clinic is very kid-centric, and has the coolest waiting room I’ve seen, hands down. The kids were always happy to go to the dentist. But what matters is the dental care, not the office, and they let me down. Worse, they let my kids down.

The year before last, Anya had some dental work done. Three fillings and an extraction. At 6. She’s a tense child under the best of circumstances, so they gave her something to relax her. It didn’t. She screamed and cried the whole time. The dentist kept telling her to be quiet. To stop crying. Kept insisting she stop screaming because she was scaring the other children. Kept telling her she had nothing to cry about. It took all I had not to scoop her up and carry her out of there. But he’d already drilled out the fillings, and I knew I’d never get her in another dentist’s chair if we left just then. The way he spoke to her turned my stomach, though. I fought back tears the whole time.

Later, after we were home and she had calmed somewhat, I told her she never had to go back there if she didn’t want to. But she decided she did want to go back, so I kept the kids’ follow-up appointment.

Again, she was terrified. I mean, why wouldn’t she be, after what she’d been through? She got through the visit okay, though, because she saw a different dentist at the clinic. But her fear had infected her brother, and he refused to have his teeth cleaned. Then, after he saw that Anya did okay, he wanted to try again — and was ignored.

I spoke up for him. I was ignored. And that was it for me. I told the front desk that we wouldn’t be back. And I told Anya that she could start going to my dentist if she wanted to.

“Does he ever yell at you?” she asked. Oh, my heart.

“No, sweetheart. He has never yelled at me. He has never hurt me. He’s a very nice man.”

“I want to go to your dentist,” she said. “I need a nice dentist.”

I told her that no doctor or dentist, or teacher — no one — had the right to speak to her the way that dentist spoke to her. That she may be little, but she is a person. That she had every right to scream and cry, because she was scared and in pain. Screaming and crying are perfectly acceptable ways to express those feelings. Especially when you’re six.

Last summer, on the second to last day of her swimming lessons, the swim instructor walked her out after class, long after the other kids in her class had gone. She was choking and sobbing and trembling. The teacher told me she’d gotten scared putting her face in the water, and jokingly asked Anya if they were still friends. Anya didn’t answer.

On the way home, Anya told me the teacher kept pushing her face in the water — water that was over her head — even though Anya was sobbing with fear. She begged me to let her skip the last swimming lesson. Up until that day, she loved swimming lessons, and even planned on getting lifeguard certification like her dad. No more.

I’d had my reservations about the swimming lessons, I must admit. They wouldn’t let me go back with her. That always sets off alarm bells for me. So when Kai’s turn at lessons came up, I was on high alert.

They let me go in with him the first day. I watched as one of the instructors made a little boy cry so much he nearly vomited. He was afraid of the water, so she made him hold on to her as she swam out to the far end and back with all the other kids. His mother finally pulled him out of there and left. I was ready to do the same, but Kai was so eager to swim. He begged to go back the next day. I was hesitant, but allowed it.

He said nothing after that next lesson, but when it was time to leave for class the following day, he refused. And that was it; he was done with the lessons. I don’t know what the instructor did to him, but he refused to go after that.

I told Anya all of this. I told her that those women had no right to treat her and her brother — any of those children — the way they did. I told her that while I do force her to do things that are scary, that hurt, like doctor visits and vaccinations, I only do them when needed to keep her and Kai safe and healthy. Otherwise, I respect their wishes. If they don’t want to learn to swim, they don’t have to. I told her that some adults feel that forcing a kid to do scary stuff helps them get over it. And I told her that because of adults like that, I still can’t swim.

I told her that it’s very important that she go to the dentist. That sometimes the dentist has to do scary, uncomfortable things — cleanings and fillings and x-rays and such. But that no dentist has the right to tell her not to cry when she’s scared. No dentist has the right to continue inflicting pain when she’s begging him to stop. I told her about the little boy at swimming lessons, and how I didn’t think the instructor had the right to keep swimming out to the deep end with him when his mom was telling her to let him out of the pool. Maybe that instructor taught hundreds of kids that way. Maybe she taught her own kids that way. But it wasn’t up to her to decide that this boy must learn that way — that was up to the boy and his mother, and they were saying no.

Consent isn’t just sex. Consent is the thousands of liberties adults take with children from the time they’re babies, because they’re bigger and think they know better. Because they can. I sincerely hope that by teaching Anya and her brother these things now, I’m giving them the tools to better handle consent when sex enters the picture.

Blank slate hummus (GF, vegan)

(Yes, that bruise on my thumb is taking its sweet time growing out.)

Hummus, how I have missed you.

I’m still waiting on my lab results, but in the meantime my nutritionist suggested I try homemade hummus so I could be sure it didn’t contain anything that might trigger me. This is that hummus. It’s quick and easy, bland enough for my stomach yet tasty enough that Kai and I wolf it down. (Anya says it needs salt.)

I still haven’t determined if I can handle even this hummus. I was okay the first day, but on subsequent days I became incredibly uncomfortable after eating it. I’m hoping I was simply combining it with the wrong foods, because this stuff is delicious. I will be very sad if I can’t have it anymore.

If you prefer hummus with more pizzazz, you could tweak this pretty much any way you choose — none of the flavors are so strong that they will overwhelm or even compete with whatever extras you add.

But first, the basics.

 

Blank slate hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained (rinsed well for low FODMAP)
4 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water

Puree the chickpeas in a food processor until smooth. Add the tahini, cumin, paprika, and salt and process until well combined. Scrape down the bowl, then add the lemon juice and olive oil and process until smooth. Scrape down the bowl again, then add the water a little at a time, processing after each addition, until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.