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.
Bunny and Okra turned 3 1/2 today.
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.
My kids have been in their bedroom for about an hour. I am sitting in the dining room doing my own things. After about 30 minutes of silence, Bunny calls Okra’s name. He does not respond. She then begins to sing a song loudly. He starts talking to her. She responds. And then she continues to sing a song. He talks some more. And now there is a full blown conversation going on.
I have been guarding their nap time carefully. These hours are necessary to break up the day and for me to recuperate from the chaos of the morning. This time also serves as my exercise time, or time to make a phone call, or time to read a few pages of my own books (not a pictured children’s book). I have such fear that these kiddos will give up their nap time and this is the end of my sanity. I know that compared to some other parents with three year olds, we are blessed in a sense that my kids still nap majority of the time. But as the number of times they don’t nap is increasing, I get increasingly nervous. I can’t imagine not having down time, but I also have to acknowledge that my kids are not babies, they are growing, and I can’t stop them from becoming bigger kids, not that I want to. Maybe I get to be the lucky one whose kids nap until 4 or 5 years old? Only time will tell.
I have been feeling kind of meh lately. I think the monotony of the pandemic has started to get to me. Every single day feels the same. During pre-COVID time, there would always be something to look forward to, such as social activities on the weekend, trips that we have planned, or meeting up with my girlfriends. We have not done any of this in the last many months. I don’t know if the situation is going to change for us in the near future since we are still trying to be very careful with our activities. My mom did get her first dose of the vaccine so at least that provides her some protection. Bob and I casually talked about going somewhere nearby renting a place to ourselves just for a change of scenery. We may or may not do that. One change we did make was to start taking the kids to playgrounds. I hadn’t been doing that because the playgrounds weren’t open for a long time. Plus I was still a bit leery of unmasked kids and adults, and my kids putting their dirty hands in their mouths. Last week we passed by one playground and saw that it was empty. I decided to let the kids go play. I am so happy that I made that choice. You should have seen the fun that the kids had. They were giggling, running, climbing, sliding, and genuinely having a lot of fun. When a boy climbed onto the play structure, my kids knew to stop their movements and allow a lot of space for the boy. Unfortunately, the boy wasn’t giving my kids space and was coming closely behind them. It is just sad that in these pandemic times my kids have to learn to make room for others, and that they have to worry about other kids being too close to them. I hate that kids can’t play with one another like they used to be able to. Anyhow, after the one day of fun, I took them to various playgrounds four more times this past week. The outdoor physical activities really paid off. I think the kids rested better because of them. Since going to the playground has been mostly successful, I am happy that we at least get to give the kids some physical activities and I get to be outdoors with them. Maybe we will really make a trip somewhere nearby for a few days just to break up the monotony a little bit. That may help me with my mental and emotional health.
My therapist told me that everybody has an inner critic. This inner critic tells us things that we may not want to hear, like “You are an inadequate mother” or “You should have done better”. You may want your inner critic to be gone but he/she is here to stay. My therapist asked me to create an image for this inner critic, give her a name, and even think about what she may look like. She wants me to befriend my inner critic because that will help with working on my anxiety. She also asked me to thank my inner critic in my gratitude meditation exercises so that I can move towards living peacefully with her. I have named my inner critic “Ursula”. A long time ago when I was still trying to make some embryos to transfer into myself, I had recurring ovarian cysts. My dear friend Jane Allen named one of my cysts “Ursula”. When my therapist asked for a name, the name “Ursula” immediately popped in my head. Her assignment for me this week was to create an image for Ursula. Since I like drawing (but haven’t even done any since the babies were born), I decided to draw her. This is the final product:
Doesn’t she look like a mean school teacher?
It was fun for me to draw her. Now I have an image to look at, I wonder how that is going to help me on my journey to live with inner peace and harmony.