Falling Off the Wagon

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wagonMy weight-loss journey has taken a bit of a detour.  As I got exercising, I found that I could get away with not journaling my food and still lose a bunch of weight because I was burning so many calories.  So I got lazy with the food journaling.  Then, I went out for a few dinners in one week and still lost weight, so I also started getting lazy about my food choices.  Step three down the path was when my Mom and sisters came to visit.  We were on vacation, and so my usual rules about food and exercise went out the window.  I indulged in chocolate, carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and too much cheese and bread, among other things.  The fourth and final push into “fallen of the wagon” status was a week of migraines and a cold.  This postponed the exercise portion of my plan for over a week.  To top it off, I didn’t go to my Weight Watchers meeting to weigh in for two Saturdays in a row! 

So, this blog post is my commitment to get back into that wagon and keep riding hard toward the finish line…not that there will be a finish line of eating properly and exercising – that will need to last the rest of my life.  But you know what I mean. 

After all, I’ve told a bunch of my friends and family that it’s a permanent change this time.  I guess I just need to remind myself of that.

But that starts AFTER my daughter’s birthday party this afternoon.  🙂

Things that make me happy: #1-20

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These are in no particular order, just listed as they happened to come to me today.

  1. Holding my baby while she sleeps
  2. Jazz, especially old standards
  3. Sunny days
  4. Wine
  5. Running
  6. Swimming
  7. Yoga
  8. Watching the wind blow in the trees
  9. Tulips
  10. Daffodils
  11. Well, actually any flower, really
  12. Good books
  13. Having good conversations with my husband
  14. Friends
  15. Online shopping
  16. Family, especially my parents and my sisters
  17. Naps (both for the Bean and for me)
  18. Chocolate
  19. A clean kitchen
  20. The Bean’s smile

Girls’ Getaway – at home

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My Mom and sisters visited us last week.   We’d been planning a girls’ get-away (with the little ones) and things just seemed to be getting too expensive.  So they came here for their vacation, and I had a staycation. 

At first, I didn’t know how we would get everyone home from the airport.   Our car has a third row of seats that pops out of the floor in the back, so we had enough seatbelts for everyone.  But with two carseats, 4 adults, a stroller and luggage, our Outlander just was not big enough.  I asked Sporty Best Friend to help, but she had prior commitments.  I considered leaving Jenna with our babysitter, which would have given us just enough room, but she was not available either.  I was about to spring for the cost of the airport shuttle when my resourceful Middle Sis figured out a much cheaper bart/bus route.  She and Mom had a fun (so they said) transit adventure while I drove Little Sis, Baby S and their luggage home to our place.  Whew! 

It was a logistical challenge getting everyone in and out of the car whenever we went anywhere.  The third row is meant for children, not grown women, but luckily Mom and Middle Sis are smallish and have great attitudes.   They climbed in and out of that tiny space without complaint.  The conventional way to get into that third row is by popping the middle seat forward and getting in through the side door, like you would in a coupe.  But in our case it meant that one of the kids’ car seats had to be removed every time they got in and out.  Mom and Middle Sis, being the “outside of the box” thinkers that they are, decided to squeeze out the back instead, climbing over the seat and out through the hatchback.  These are the kinds of ladies you want to take on an adventure with you. 

We had rented the one-bedroom guest suite in our apartment complex for them to stay in.  A one-bedroom suite is a little tight for three adults and a baby.   We had a pack-&-play for Baby S to sleep in, and an inflatable bed to set up for Little Sis in the livingroom.  Mom and Middle Sis would sleep in the bedroom, and I was staying in my own apartment with D and the Bean.  So Little Sis pushed aside furniture and we got busy setting up the beds.  It turned out to be plenty of room, although we did spend much of our at-home time in my apartment. 

It took most of Monday to get them settled in, do the necessary grocery shopping, and get the car cleaned of dog hair (I hadn’t gotten around to it before their arrival and it was nasty).  Since Baby S needed a nap, Middle Sis came with me to get the car cleaned and grab a coffee.  Later, Mom came with me to get the groceries.  We were on our way to the store when she suddenly chuckled.  “It’s like The Bachelor”, she said.  “We all get our turn to have a private date with Beth”.  My Mom is so cute.

For me, Wednesday and Thursday were the best days of our vacation.  On Wednesday, we all piled in the car to visit the Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma.  This small factory creates hand-made (and hand-wrapped) brie and camembert cheeses using local milk, cultures from France and a lot of TLC.  They offer a short but informative tour of the cheese-making process, and a lovely picnic area invites guests to linger with their cheese, baguette and bottle of wine.   The factory is situated on a small but beautiful lake surrounded by cattle ranches.  The sun came out from behind the clouds just in time for our picnic lunch – just what you expect on vacation in California, although maybe a little on the cool side.

After we’d finished enjoying the cheese factory, we headed to the Petaluma outlet mall to spend the rest of the afternoon shopping.  I can’t remember the last time we all went clothing shopping together – it was so much fun to try stuff on and offer opinions and advice to each other.  And there was plenty of help with the babies.  Clothing shopping often gets cut short when I try to do it on my own. 

Thursday was another sunny day, and we made the most of it.  Sporty Best Friend is a Registered Massage Therapist, and she offered to host a spa day at her house.  We had a charming lunch on the back deck, complete with sparkling wine, and then took turns getting our muscles tenderized.  The babies napped for a good chunk of the afternoon, and it was so relaxing to just hang out and chat with each other.  Thank you, SBF, for a wonderful day. 

Friday was leaving-day.  At some point in the week, I’d realized that we could strap the stroller and the suitcase to the top of the car and fit everyone inside to get to the airport.  It was a very wet day, so after a quick lunch, we got busy packing the car.  I believe my sisters and I did our handy-man father proud.  We got the load on top of the car strapped down with a blanket underneath to protect the paint, and a tarp over top to keep off the rain.  Nothing had budged even a centimeter by the time we got to the airport.  A very nice man asked if we needed help unloading, but of course, we didn’t.  Girl Power! 

And then I started crying.  Yup, it’s so hard to say goodbye, but we’re only a short flight away.   I’ll see them all again soon.

Beans and Bees

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Cherish Words is not about my daughter, it’s about me.  However, I’ve come to realize that a big part of who I am is “Mother”.  So, today’s post IS about my daughter (aka “the Bean”).

For my readers who aren’t up on the Bean’s short history, let me sum up (yes, this is a reference to The Princess Bride). 

She was born 5 weeks early (and very tiny) via C-section because she wasn’t growing properly in the womb.  Upon investigation, the doctors discovered that she has a partial trisomy of her 22nd chromosome.  In layman’s terms, this means that she has a third copy of a small piece of her 22nd chromosome that doesn’t belong – you normally have two copies.  The condition is so rare that they couldn’t really tell us much about it when we met with the geneticist – they expected she’d have some delays, but had no way of predicting the severity. 

Fast forward two years, and we’ve discovered some of how this is playing out for the Bean.  She is almost two and is not crawling, can just barely stand with help, and is certainly not walking.  She has a few words, though most other people don’t recognize them as words without translation.  She’s been going to a physical therapist twice a week to work on gross motor skills, oral-motor/speech therapy once a week to work on feeding, mouth manipulation and speech, and we have a Special Needs teacher from Easter Seals visiting once a week to work on her general cognitive and fine motor skills. 

The reason this is all coming up for me right now is that we’re in the middle of the Bean’s semi-annual evaluation with the government organization that pays for all this therapy (an organization for which I am extremely grateful).  The goal of the evaluation is to see how far she has come and also to figure out where she might need additional help.  But it also brings into sharp focus what other kids her age are able to do that she is not.  Once in a while I get sad about it – it’s a lot of work going to all those therapy sessions and trying to keep up with the “homework”.  Other kids that we play with are going to music classes or swimming lessons, but we go to therapy – there’s just not room in our schedule for those other fun things.   I occasionally feel sorry for myself because she’s not able to do things for herself that other kids her age can, putting a greater burden on me. 

On the flip side, I find that the Bean’s developmental delays make every new achievement that much more exciting.  It’s not a given that she would automatically to learn to crawl – we have to work on it every day.  So when she suddenly started turning in circles on her belly a couple of weeks ago, it was a really big deal!  Some of my mommy friends admitted they were dreading the moment when their babies became mobile.  I was beyond excited when the Bean figured out she could move around by scooting on her bum.  By the time she IS walking, she’ll be old enough to understand a lot more about what is dangerous than she would have been if she’d been walking at 10 months like I was.

I got to have a tiny little cuddle-bug a lot longer than most – in fact, two years later, she still LOVES to snuggle when most kids her age are too busy.  We’ve been able to save on baby clothes – she’s been able to wear some of the same clothes for almost a year now, although some of her pants got too short.  And even though I’m still carrying her around everywhere, she’s still pretty small, so that’s not as hard as it could be.  And I’m learning so much about the mechanics of motion and speech – it’s fascinating.  These are just a few examples, and they aren’t super profound, but they are little things that help me to realize that every child comes with pros and cons (so to speak).  

Our Bean’s strengths are numerous.  She is extremely social – wants to talk to everyone who passes by, even if they’re in their car.  She is usually pretty easy-going and happy.  She’s determined – if she wants to do something, she’ll keep trying (most of the time) without getting too frustrated.  Of course, she is almost two, so sometimes she asserts her independence and refuses to do things.  But that is also a cause for celebration in our house because it means she’s reached that developmental milestone, and pretty much right on target.  Is it weird to be thrilled (mostly) to enter the “terrible twos” stage?  When the Bean has a temper tantrum, I actually think it’s hilarious.

She’s also pretty darn perceptive – she notices things that I totally miss, like the tweet of a “brr” (bird).  She uses the words she can say with gusto, and is picking up more words all the time.  She’s gentle with our pets (with the odd reminder), doesn’t mind sharing her toys, LOVES to read and be read to, and seems to be driven to figure out how things work.  She is already pretty passionate about music – Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is her favourite song, and she asks for it 50 times a day.  She dances at the mere mention of the word.  There doesn’t need to be any music to go with the dancing, but she’ll take the music if it’s offered. 

Okay, I could write a book on this stuff.  It’s a big part of my life, and it doesn’t surprise me that this is my longest post to date.  Perhaps I need to start a second blog.  But in the meantime, I guess my point is this:  My daughter has special needs.  I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to handle the added stress of a child with special needs.  But what I’m learning is that every child has special needs – they may be different in magnitude or in perceived importance in our society, but every child has their strengths and weaknesses. 

So I am grateful for my amazing daughter.  Sure, I’d love it if she didn’t need all the extra help, but she does, so we give it to her.   I also know that we got off lucky.  Of the very few documented cases of Trisomy 22, others have much more severe problems than the Bean does.  In fact, there are so many more serious genetic conditions out there, and all we have to deal with is some extra therapy.   

I am learning so much about myself in this process.  I’m learning that I don’t have as much patience as I thought I would (or think I should), but also that I can deal with so much more than I thought I had the capacity for.   I’m learning that true success is not actually measured by comparison with others, but by comparison with oneself.  I’m learning that being happy and friendly is so much more important than keeping up with everyone else.  I’m learning to trust my own intuition, my husband’s opinions, and the therapists and medical personnel that have been assigned to help us work through all of this.  Oh, and I’m learning that a smile from my daughter can make just about anyone’s day…and she doles them out like candy at Halloween.

On the Kindle: The Secret Life of Bees

I just finished reading this beautiful book.  It’s about mothers and daughters and how complicated their relationships are, even when their time together is ended early.  It’s about finding a mother’s love within yourself, even if you didn’t get it from your own mother.  It’s about racism and acceptance, the lessons we can learn from bees, the colour-blindness of love.  It’s a coming-of-age tale about a young Southern girl who escapes her abusive father and finds herself, and her mother, along the way.   I suppose women might get more out of this book than men will.  But to my male readers – if you have a daughter or a sister or a wife, this might be a good emotional education for you as well.