We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary last Friday. We had always talked about going to Hawaii for the celebration, but that didn’t happen. Or I should say we didn’t make it happen because of Covid. That particular day, we took the kids to a farm where they visited with cows, sheep, rams, chickens, pigs, and goats. They had such a fantastic time. Then we ate at a restaurant for the first time in 13 months. We chose a place with outdoor dining option and were pleased with this choice. The tables were inside a tent and far apart from one another. The area was airy. The most surprising thing was that the twins did really well. The last time we went to a restaurant prior to this was probably February or March 2020. They were about 2.5 at the time. We still had to lug a diaper bag full of supplies and two booster chairs for them to sit in. This time, at 3 years 7 months, the kids just sat at the table. We didn’t even bring toys for them to play with. They sat in big chairs and drank their water. Nobody got off the table once without asking. I used to bring bibs, utensils, and scissors for cutting food in smaller pieces. This time I left all of that at home. We didn’t even bring the backpack with water or wipes. The kids just used the restaurant napkins. What a difference a year made in a kid’s life! They have grown up so much and it is so nice to travel light with twins. We picked up a few slices of cake down the street before we headed home. That evening, instead of making a reservation for a restaurant to dine outdoors in the cold, we opted for takeout at home. We fed the kids (and my mom) first before we sat down for our anniversary dinner all by ourselves at the kids’ bed time. It was super yummy omakase. To top it off, the restaurant even gave us some free desserts for our anniversary. All in all, it was a delightful day to celebrate this milestone. I bought Bob a sound wave art piece made with tin that has the sound waves of our wedding song “Just the Way You Are” printed on it. Bob’s gift for me was a ring that I had been eying for a few years. When I received it, it took my breath away as it looks even more exquisite in person than in picture. I will cherish it for years to come.
I feel so thankful that Bob and I have found each other and walked alongside each other all these years through thick and thin. Although we have had our ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade my life with him with anything else in the world. Oh, I am also hopeful that Hawaii will be in the cards for us next year for our 11th anniversary celebration. How about that for being optimistic?
My left inner ankle has been hurting for a while. About 2.5 months to be exact. I was going for a walk almost daily as my exercise and one day I had to stop because my ankle hurt too much. I had been putting off seeing a doctor thinking that the pain would heal on its own after I stopped going for a walk for a while. That didn’t happen. Instead, the pain comes and goes. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all. Sometimes the pain just comes out of the blue and I almost can’t walk for a couple of hours. But in general it hurts when I get up in the morning putting my foot on the floor or after my nap. The pain usually goes away in a few minutes. This is the same ankle/area that I sprained twice in my life, once in my 20s and once in my 30s. Both times the sprains gave me a lot of trouble and took a while to heal. But this particular time I hadn’t sprained it, so I don’t understand where the pain would come from. I finally contacted my primary care physician for a referral to a podiatrist. The nurse practitioner who read the message asked me to go in for a consultation with the primary care physician first to determine the nature of the problem before they refer me out. I was thinking, what odd recommendation that was, just to make money off of me? I can self refer to a podiatrist. Why would I have to go see a physician who is not specialized in foot pain first for him to tell me that I need to go see the specialist? That doesn’t make sense. I went ahead and looked up the podiatry group in my network and scheduled an appointment myself. Last Friday I had my appointment. I looked at the podiatrist’s name and it looked familiar. Then I remembered that I had seen a podiatrist with the same last name about 10 years ago. It turned out that this new podiatrist is the son of the podiatrist I previously visited. What a small world. The current podiatrist asked me a bunch of questions and told me to stand on my tiptoes. He touched my ankle and asked where the pain was. He suspects that the tendon on my ankle is the culprit. He doesn’t think that it is torn but it could be inflamed. He had ordered an MRI for me to see what is going on inside. In the mean time, he gave me an ankle stabilizer to walk in. I am to wear it whenever I do weight bearing activities which is basically all my waking hours. After the MRI, he will determine if I need this particular injection or not in order to alleviate the pain. So now I wear this very fashionable (not) brace daily.
It has been helping a bit. I am still waiting for the phone call from the imaging department to schedule the MRI with me. Being in the 40s is not fun it seems as so many parts of the body seem to take turns to be in pain. I hope and pray that the podiatrist has a way to fix this pain because I really want to go back to my exercise one day soon.
Therapy has been going well. The physical symptoms that I had a few months ago haven’t come back at all. All the goals that I had set with my therapist (e.g. No more panic attacks, no more worrying about having panic attacks, etc.) have all been met. I really have made a lot of progress in those short almost four months. I have chosen to continue seeing my therapist every other week to work on a few residual things. She has given me one assignment that is quite interesting. Since I love drawing, she wants me to draw a moment, a win, or a victory that happened in the previous week or two that is a result of a choice that I made myself. She wants me to document it with the activity that I like the most, which is drawing. I can choose anything and the frequency of this assignment. I decided to do a drawing every other week. So far I have done two.
The first one is a depiction of me at Costco. I went one morning leaving the kids in my mom’s care. My mom called me while I was shopping to tell me that Okra was mean and misbehaving. The usual me would be really worry about the situation at home and would want to rush through shopping and hurry home. I would feel guilty for leaving the mess to my mom, feeling like I should rush there to take over so nobody had to be subjected to my son’s behaviors. The new me was able to talk to my inner critic Ursula, telling her that there was nothing I could do at that point because things were out of my control since I wasn’t physically at home. I had already entrusted the kids to my mom so they were under her care, and fretting over it at Costco would not do anyone any good. I was able to be in the moment, focus on finishing up my shopping, and was not distracted by the things that might or might not be happening at home.
The second picture depicts the kids climbing up a very high structure at a park. The first two times we went to that particular park, I did not allow them to climb up this particular part. I was able to let go the third time and let them climb high. The picture does not show, but this structure was probably 8.5 ft high, way higher than the top of my husband’s head which measured 6’4″. It was quite scary for me but I was able to let go of my fear and let the kids climb. My therapist often asks me why I chose to draw this particular moment and what else I could tell her. This time she noted that I chose to draw the kids walk away from me. This signifies the more and more I am letting go of my control.
I thoroughly enjoy this exercise. In the one hour to one hour 15 minutes that it takes me to finish the whole drawing, I am able to focus on the progress that I have made and the choices that I have been making to help myself be more whole. I am truly grateful that I have found a great therapist who opens my mind to seeing things in a different way than before.
Recently we are considering sending the kids to preschool. They were supposed to go last September but the pandemic hit and we opted for staying on the waitlist for another year. The school contacted us and I was still reluctant to make a commitment, partly because of COVID but also because it is hard for me to let go of the routines that we have established. Watching the kids interact with friends and with others at the playground, I think Okra can really benefit from socializing regularly with someone other than his parents, grandma, and sister. Bunny on the other hand does well socially and will definitely thrive in group situations. I finally contacted the school and learned that we would still be able to enroll them three days a week starting in August if we turn in the enrollment packets by the end of the month. I have been reading the packets and am feeling quite confident that the school knows exactly what it is doing. After having the last year to figure things out, their COVID protocol is solid. There are processes for what to do about everything health and safety related. The night I received the packets, I had a dream about the kids having a really hard time at school. I woke up feeling anxious about it. I guess it is part of the life as a parent who has been with the kids every single day since they were born 3.5 years ago. It is hard to let go and to entrust them in the hands of those who are not part of our family. But I do feel that it is time. I know that it is going to be a big adjustment for us and the kids. I asked the kids the other day what if they get to go to school like their friends. They asked me, “What about you mama? Are you going to be there?” When they realized that I wouldn’t be going with them, they said they didn’t want to go to school. I think the next few months we will have some convincing to do.
Thanks to a dear friend’s tip, I am newly qualified for vaccination for COVID-19 under a new set of criteria. When I called to schedule, the person looked all over and could only find one appointment at a location 35 minutes away about two weeks out. I may call again to see if I can reschedule for sooner and a closer location. If not, I am still thankful for the chance to get vaccinated sooner rather than having to wait for my age group to be eligible. When both Bob and I are vaccinated, we are hopeful that we can start hanging out with family again.
I usually don’t read promotional emails in detail, but one caught my attention the other day:
I love the sensitivity that companies like this one display in regards to a holiday that is highly triggering for some. I welcome changes like this and hope that many other organizations and companies follow suit.
I mentioned three weeks ago that Okra lost half a pound and I fretted. Since then I have been intentional in adding fats in his diet. After a week of eating well, I weighed him and noticed that he had gained back some of the weight that he lost. Last Wednesday was his GI follow up visit. Okra had his weight and height check. He has gained back his weight and some more. And he has grown over an inch in the last couple of months. I am so pleased with this progress. His GI doctor was also pleased. She showed me his growth chart. He has been following his curve nicely, with his weight around 30ish percentile. It did dip down to 13th when we first noticed the problem so this is a much better weight for him. His height has been following the curve of 60ish percentile. His GI doctor said that he is just a tall and lean guy, and there is nothing wrong with that. His ribcage is still filling out, and his thighs are very strong. She said that he is a very healthy guy and she is not worried about him. Since the appetite stimulant has such an influence on his moods, she suggests continuing to let him grow without using it. We will see her again in three months for another follow up and see how he’s doing. I am very happy that Okra is responding well to food. But I am also learning to let go of my control. There are some days and some meals that he doesn’t feel like eating, and that’s okay. I have to remind myself to let him have control of the amount of food that he eats and not to push so that he learns to listen to his body and have a healthy relationship with food. I hope that his weight gain will continue and be steady.
I remember a year ago when they turned 2 1/2, shelter-in-place was about to begin, and social distancing was a new term. Mask wearing wasn’t recommended yet. The week prior we were at the library, bible study, mom’s group, supermarket, restaurants, and church service. How one week changed everything. And a year later, my kids have yet been inside a library, restaurant, or church.
Life goes on, and we do our best to celebrate another milestone. Bob took the day off and we headed to the zoo. Today was the windiest day ever. The zoo is right next to Pacific Ocean. It was even windier there than where we live, which is only 7 minutes away. Despite the wind, and taking the kids to the bathroom several times, and eating outdoors while trying to guard the food containers from the wind and the seagulls (who stole my hamburger a month ago when we went there for Bob’s birthday), we had a blast. The fact that the zoo was open and we got to go there is a blessing. The kids also got to play at the zoo playground. The last time they did that was in February 2020. The kids’ climbing skills have grown exponentially. It was a joy to watch them do all sorts of things that they weren’t able to do before. The interesting thing I have observed lately is that Okra loves to follow Bunny. He goes where she goes at the playground. He even freaked out when he couldn’t see her and insisted on looking for her. He never used to do that before. I wonder when we send them to school in the future if he will continue to want to stick with her.
Although we are still in the middle of a pandemic, I am glad that at 3.5 the kids mostly listen well. They keep their masks on, refrain from touching anything in a public bathroom, allow me to wash their hands thoroughly, and keep a distance from people when they need to. Kids adapt really well, and us adults too. I hope that when I write a post to celebrate their half birthday in a year, the pandemic will be completely under control and we can go back to hugging and getting together with friends and family whenever and wherever we want.
Last week I had a week off from therapy. Before we ended our session the previous week, my therapist assigned me homework. She noticed progress that I have made; changing some of the beliefs that I had for a long time, being able to let go of some of my fears. She said that it is all worth celebrating. She wanted me to find a way to document this milestone. It is some sort of a celebration to mark this point in my journey of becoming mentally and emotionally well. She said it could be journaling, or going to a place that brings me peace. It could even be another drawing that shows what I am learning or how I am growing. It could be with or without Ursula, my inner critic.
Since I had two weeks to think about this, I decided to take my time in thinking about how to do it. I eventually chose to draw it out. It took one week to form an image in my head about what to draw. Slowly but surely, a picture emerged in my mind and continued to take shape throughout the week. I sat down after the kids went down for the night on Saturday and went to work. I got to say I thoroughly enjoyed this process and thought that maybe I should really pick up my coloring pencils and markers more frequently. This is the finished product:
This is me and Ursula sitting outside of a cafe having a cup of coffee, a piece of pastry, and reading our own books quietly. I love coffee and I love books. My inner critic and I are peacefully enjoying a quiet afternoon together doing something I love. We don’t necessarily have to talk but it feels like we have a mutual understanding, like old friends. This is how I feel, that I don’t have to fight what my inner critic is telling me. I can still thank her for telling me things that I have to pay attention to and have a peaceful talk with her about how to approach these subjects. This is how I feel lately, being able to have a dialogue with my inner critic in a healthy way. I can’t wait to show my therapist this picture and see what she has to say.
Ever since my son Okra stopped his appetite stimulant, we have seen a reduction in the frequency of his extreme tantrums. He used to have them frequently and they lasted 1.5 hours to 2 hours. After he stopped his meds, he had two of these tantrums in January and none in February. He does still throw tantrums and is whiny but he does not throw a tantrum out of the blue and they don’t last 2 hours. In terms of eating, he seems to be pickier than before. He seems to be uninterested in a variety of food that he used to eat, and some days getting him to come to the table for lunch and dinner has become a chore. He would refuse to come or would hide. When he does come, he would eat a piece or two and declare that he is done. I became worried about his weight so I weighed him last week. He has lost about half a pound. After I weighed him, I was very sad and was trying to hold my tears. Despite my best effort, I shed a few tears while brushing Okra’s teeth. He looked at me and asked, “Mommy, why are you sad?” Bob heard my sniffles and came to ask what happened. I was so thankful that instead of asking me not to cry, he took me and Okra to our bed. He and Okra snuggled with me and rubbed my back while I cried my heart out. I needed that loving tenderness in that moment. Ever since that day, I have again become intentional in what I give Okra for each meal. I add butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil in bread, rice, muffin, or pancakes. I am trying smoothies with him again. He hasn’t liked it in the past but it doesn’t hurt to expose him again and again. I am even giving him and his sister ice cream a couple of times a week. I am keeping a food journal to see exactly what he is consuming each day. I messaged his GI specialist who suggested putting Okra back on the appetite stimulant to let him gain some weight again. I am very hesitant in doing so because of the extreme tantrums. I am part of a FB group of caregivers who struggle to help their kids gain weight. Many people are/were in the same situation where the medication causes their children’s moodiness. Some suggested reducing the dosage or to only take the dose at bed time. Okra has a follow up appointment with the GI specialist in a couple of weeks. I will be armed with loads of questions and hopefully make an informed decision. In the mean time, I am happy to report that Okra has been eating pretty well for a few days in a row. He hasn’t refused to come to a meal, and he actually has been eating most of the food offered to him on his plate/bowl. It has been hard to do, but I am trying to focus on it one day at a time and choose to celebrate small victories whenever I can.