Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Discipline


You ever notice that the language used in raising children is basically identical to the language used in owning a dog? Obedience. Control. Train. This goes back to the very deeply ingrained idea that children are worth less than adults. Sure we go out of our way to keep them alive more than we do for other adults, and yet we think it's fine to hit them and berate them for not behaving like good little soldiers.

One of the hardest aspects of toddlerhood is the defiance and sudden appearance of "attitude". This is the quintessential "brat" we think of when we talk about ill behaved children. What most people fail to realize is that this is completely normal behavior, and every child I have ever known goes through this stage to some degree, regardless of how they're parented. The biggest flaw is in assuming that this behavior will never change unless the parents acts upon it at every opportunity when all it takes to remove the behavior is simply growing up in a healthy home environment. Brain development and an expanding world view lathered in a lot of love will morph the nasty 3-4 year old into a decent human being going forward.

By the dictionary definition, I do in fact discipline my child. I have boundaries that cannot be crossed and expectations my toddler must meet for behavior. However, the common definition of discipline using punishments or rewards in response to behavior would mean that I do not discipline.

In the last few months as I became accustomed to my new role as mother of 2, I found myself once again reflecting on how well I'm raising my child. Everything was new again. Not only did I now have a baby to deal with and not nearly enough time to give my 3 year old, but I was also staring down a whole host of health issues between the three of us. Barely 3 months out, my convictions for gentle parenting are stronger than ever.

The problem with being an outspoken proponent of anything is that anytime you do something wrong, anytime you are not the paragon of perfection in your chosen cause, someone will tear you down. They use it as an excuse to tell you that you are wrong, your beliefs are stupid, clearly what you are doing is not working. Obviously, because when you believe in something strong enough, you just snap your fingers and everything works the way you say it should.

Maybe for normal people having that judgment surround you is no big deal. For someone who actually got so upset about the idea of being judged that I vomited (yes seriously) and have lived in perpetual fear of what others think of me my entire life, having my parenting judged is a huge deal to me, no matter how small the infraction. Add to that being outspoken about all things to do with parenting and I am a walking ball of anxiety.

What does that have to do with anything? Well, when my daughter starts dancing around singing at the top of her lungs about gummy bears, my reaction is to yell over her to be quiet. Why? Because the culture I was raised in says the noise of children is a nuisance, something to be silenced. She must be "corrected" and told to quiet down, despite the fact that I know scientifically speaking she lacks the ability to control the volume of her voice.

I have the patience to listen to her belt out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star like the worst American Idol candidate ever. It is only when I think somehow her loudness now will equate to loudness at all other times and may at some point bother someone that I snap at her to quiet down. It is my inability to let go of the judgment from other people that I do not allow my daughter the freedom to fully explore what it means to be a child.

My biggest failings as a parent have come from my inability to transcend what others think of me, to say no to their idea of how things should be, to put my foot down when I felt pressured to allow others to come before my children. These are wholly my failings because it is ultimately my choice to do these things. It is not the fault of anyone who might tell me I'm wrong or harass me to do things a certain way.

It took time to fully process all of my feelings about judgment and it is taking much longer to work on myself in letting go of those feelings enough to parent her better. But like any deeply rooted issue, you remove one issue and see just how deep it went. The problem wasn't just a matter of resorting to punishments when I know they don't do any good. I was getting angry, very angry. I feel my hand wanting to reach towards her to hit her. I yell at her to get away from me. I sit and fume as she runs away to the bedroom and sobs. Why? I've had plenty of people who say they love and care about me say downright mean, disrespectful things. I've seen adults act just like children, but not once have I wanted to either hit them or yell at them to get away from me. Why is my first reaction to my own child to do those things?

It goes back to the language of parenting. Toddlerhood is about exerting independence, while parenting is all about control, training, and obedience. "She's out of control!" The inappropriate expectations of our society collide with the natural development of toddlers and puts the parent and child at odds. Addie is trying to assert herself, to find her independence, to make her own choices, all the while I have a lifetime of voices telling me that children are supposed to be controlled and obedient. I'm angry because I can't control my daughter without giving up on my principles. The only way to control her is to break her. I'm angry because I'm "helpless" to make her behave differently and no matter what I do, she will continue to act like a completely normal 3 year old ("out of control brat"). In other words, I'm human and fear loss of control, and as we all know, fear leads to anger...

When it's all broken down, it's easy to see the situation is utterly absurd. Yet the problem remains because this is a societal issue, going generations back. It's not enough to break down my own views into easily digestible bits to process and mull over. I have to work at it every single day, constantly reminding myself that I need to do better, be better, for her sake, for Cale's sake, for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. What I do for my kids will echo into the future and I do not want the violence and anger toward children to continue. I just have to keep shedding all of the baggage that has been dumped on me.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Second Birth Story

Cale Gerard Roy
December 6, 2013 10:36pm
10lb10oz 23in

I'm going to skip the preface here, there are too many details. The only detail that matters is that I gave birth at my parents' house in Oregon, 5 hours away from where I actually live. There was a large list of reasons why I chose to do this and the only real down side was being away from Zach and travel expenses. Not that I felt great being a strain on my parents either, I'm extremely grateful they've been there for me.

Labor started at exactly 41 weeks. It was about 3am when I first had pains, but I swore they were just bad gas. It had happened before where the pressure was pushing on the baby's head and sort of felt like contractions, so I just ignored it and waited to have a BM. We (Addie and I) got up around 8 and saw snow falling. I continued to have pains despite going to the bathroom so I thought maybe, just maybe something was happening. It would just figure the day snow starts dumping, in early December for crying out loud, that I would go into labor. I was so thankful I was having a homebirth, but I did worry how my birth team would get there if things got bad.

I think it was late morning I shot a text to Jesica, the midwife, to let her know things were brewing so she was aware because the weather was getting bad. I kept in contact with Zach and Sarah, my doula/bestest friend all throughout the day. Zach was still in Washington waiting to hear about work and wasn't planning on coming down until the following morning. As early afternoon arrived and my contractions started getting regular, my warnings to Zach were pretty pointless because he was going to spend hours in traffic regardless of when he left, he was better off staying home until traffic was done in Seattle. I hadn't said a word to my mom about what was happening because 1) I was in major denial about being in labor and 2) I didn't want to freak her out. The weird part is that "regular" contractions for me were between 5 and 15 minutes apart, creeping up toward a minute long. I'd have one long space between a contraction, and then one practically on top of the other, back and forth. There was no steady climb, just one long, one short break the whole time.

It wasn't until I made a somewhat panicked call to Zach to verify his plans for getting down there that my mom became privy to what was going on. I admitted I didn't actually know what was going on, but things were happening. At around 4:30 I had my first very painful contraction that I had to breathe through. I told Sarah and Zach to once again verify plans for when each would be leaving. I told Sarah to wait a little while longer because I was preparing for a ridiculously long labor and didn't want to bring her in until I really needed her. She said she would leave when her husband got home which would put her at the house by about 8pm. She's so awesome for driving 2 hours in the snow and I'm so grateful she made it because I ended up needing her a lot. After I asked Sarah to come, I had another really bad contraction pretty close to another one and called Jesica to come because I-5 was getting shut down without chains and I knew it would take her a long while to get there.

Around 6:30-ish (lost track of time) I was struggling through contractions, but they were far enough apart it wasn't too much of a strain. I was surprisingly calm as the pain picked up and tried to mentally prepare myself for a super long, horribly painful labor. Somehow this tactic works well for me, I had done the same thing with Addie even when contractions were horrific, I just kept telling myself this would go on forever and I had no choice but to stick with it. My mom started panicking a little bit and thinking she was going to have to deliver the baby, so she was hurrying my dad to help get the pool set up. It turns out she was more right about how far along labor was than even I knew. I had moved to the other couch by the Christmas tree for some darkness and actually cried a little bit watching my parents frantically put together the pool and knowing how much they cared about me to do all this.

I'd say probably around 7:30 I was getting a bit tired and went to lay down. Sarah got there right about 8 (I think) and sat in the bedroom with me for a bit. We talked and I remember laughing about something. She said I should get in the pool soon and I said no, because I thought it would slow labor as I still didn't think I was that far along. By the time I came out of the bedroom, Jesica and her apprentice Isabel were there - they had to chain up to get to the house! Sat back down by the Christmas tree and prepared to have vitals done. We laughed some more about something, I can't remember now, but I was fully aware of everything going on. I asked Sarah to put something good smelling out to cover up the plastic smell of the pool, so she got some cinnamon and orange (I think) going in a pot of water.

At some point I had a really bad, bad contraction and Sarah again prompted me to get into the pool so I finally agreed. My dad retreated to the bedroom with Addie and I got in. Of course, it was fabulous. The pool was taking up almost the whole kitchen and Sarah tucked herself into the corner by the oven. I held her hand the whole time and again felt grateful she was there as Zach was not going to make it. Fetal checks were done several times and she always warned whoever was doing it to stop for a contraction before I even felt it hit, which impressed the hell out of me.

Apparently the baby was spinning so they were having a hard time finding the heartbeat each time because he would have moved. At one point Jesica was discussing that fact with Isabel right in front of me and I remember saying something like, "That's not very helpful for the analytical side of my brain." As in stop talking about technical details where I can hear you because it's making me analyze my own labor instead of, you know, laboring. Might not be an issue for some women, but it was for me. Which is all funny because my mom said some days later she was surprised by all the quiet and darkness and I kept thinking I could have done with more quiet and dark. It's certainly a far cry from the hospital regardless!

The thing that was so weird for me is that my contractions were never really regular the entire time. They were coming fast, but the lengths continued to vary. My brain also didn't really shut down and I was completely conscious the entire time except for maybe a short period right before pushing really began. Pushing was weird in itself as well. While in the pool, I started pushing with contractions because trying to do the "ooo" graceful birth song thing was just not working out. After flipping over to trying pushing and having it hurt so damn bad, I actually asked to get checked because I felt like pushing, but it still hurt, which usually means a cervical lip. She said there was a tiny bit in the way, but nothing inflamed to stop the baby from coming down.

About that time I also vomited, which I did not do with Addie. I gagged once and then was ready to push, whereas this time I vomited up my lunch (somehow not my dinner?) and kept dry heaving over the side of the pool. I think it was Sarah who somehow did a ninja move to get the bowl in front of my face before I hit the tarp because I was facing the corner away from everyone else.

Once I was cleared to push, I tried again and the pain was just so intense. The only reason I kept trying is because it hurt slightly less than doing nothing. The blow up pools are great for laying in, but pushing on your hands and knees sucks ass. I kept sliding around and couldn't really lean on the edge because I was pushing water out of the tub. At some point Isabel turned on the hose right next to me and I went "Ah what the hell is that! Stop!" Don't do things that might surprise a laboring woman... Again though, way different than a hospital where they do whatever the hell they want to you at all hours! I can say stop and they listen!

Eventually I stood up at the counter and tried pushing standing to see if that relieved any pain. I was becoming a bit frantic because nothing was relieving the pain. My "ooo"ing turned into "AAAUUUGGGHH!!" It was the only thing I could do that had a low tone since any shrieks pulled my muscles up. Around now they were trying to get Zach onto Skype, he was in north Portland I think. They couldn't get it working so my dad came back out to get the webcam on his computer. Sarah was putting pressure on my back, leaning over the pool the whole time. It still hurt like a bitch but it helped. The entire time this was going on, I kept thinking how big of a wuss I was being not handling the pain well at all. Exhaustion was on my heels the whole time and I was hoping my body would just do its job even without my mental willingness. In hindsight this was another indicator of how far along I was, that fear stage just before transition.

I got out and saw a rush of people throwing towels on the ground. I waited at the back of the couch just out of view behind my dad's computer monitor to give him a chance to leave because I was completely nekkid. He just moved the monitor and stayed put, so I'm all whatevs, I'm doing it. They moved me to the couch so I could lean forward, more flurries of towel laying before me. It's amazing how fast people move where bodily fluids might end up.

I felt puke starting to come up and kept saying "Bowl, bowl, bowl, bowl, bowl, bowl, bowl!!! Boooowwwllll!!" Guessing nobody could hear me as they were trying to get in touch with Zach still and putting more towels and chucks pads behind me. Finally I got Sarah's attention and said something like, "I keep saying bowl, nobody is giving me a bowl!" And then gagged again, which got a bowl in front of me quick. I never did puke but I didn't want to risk it all over my parents' couch.

I didn't know it at the time, but I had finally hit transition and went into my private inner space. I fell asleep between horribly painful contractions that I was yelling "AAAUUUGHH!" through. For some reason I kept putting the bowl over my head, not even thinking about what I was doing, it just felt comforting I guess. Oddly it also felt good to sway my hips a little, which I'm guessing was helping to give the baby space to move.

Eventually I went into the actual pushing phase - prior pushing was helping baby twist down into a better position, but wasn't doing anything. I came out of my space again and started trying to flip the bowl out of the way, but it was stuck on some pillows so I kept flipping it up in the air in front of me until Sarah finally caught it. Pushing remained just excruciatingly painful, but I knew if I pushed hard it would be over soon. This time around I knew what the baby descending felt like and could gauge my progress. With Addie I thought I was going to spend hours pushing even though it only took 30 minutes. Also with Addie pushing felt like intense pressure, but was not exactly painful. This time that shit was all pain, pure and simple.

No idea how long I actually pushed, but it felt like he came down pretty fast. I was told to say something when I felt burning, but I actually felt burning the whole time and it only got slightly worse when he was crowning. At some point someone told me to slow down as the head was coming out, but there was no stopping that freight train. I also remember Jesica saying she was going to move his arm, but it didn't register to me at the time that she was actually reaching up and pulling his arm out over his head, which looking back explains a hell of a lot. Apparently he had gotten slightly stuck and wasn't descending after a couple pushes, though I had no clue.

Once the head was out, I just kept pushing, there were no breaks for me, it still hurt way too freaking much. It took I think two or so pushes for his body to fully come out and Jesica popped him up between my legs on the floor. I sat back and felt all of the blood leave my muscles so it took a few seconds for the adrenaline to pick up again and give me strength to hold him. Of course I cried and I think I said something like "I can't believe you're mine", which really summed up the entire pregnancy. Parts of me still really can't believe I've got two kids. I looked down and thought how small he was, which was ridiculous considering his size. He also had a nearly 15 inch head (not including the arm by his head!) and 16 inch chest, which really put all the pain in perspective. I wasn't being a wimp at all, it hurt for a damn good reason!

Hardly any blood came out, which was great because I had some pretty bad issues around 36 weeks with my iron levels. Nice big healthy looking placenta with a thick cord. This time I was smart enough to save it, including some pieces to have raw in a smoothie - thanks to Zach I had all 3 pieces in one smoothie by accident, but I didn't even taste it! Sarah encapsulated the whole thing, cord and all, and it's been helping a lot with my mood and energy. There was a second degree tear, but no stitches were needed. Again, considering everything, that was still good, it could have been so much worse.

Addie's birth was exactly what I needed at the time - it was just Zach and I with the midwife and her apprentice, very quiet, very private. This time it was the midwife, apprentice, doula, Addie, my mom, my dad, and Zach on Skype. He was born completely surrounded by loving people who had done so much to help me through a long, hard pregnancy and it was exactly what I needed this time, I couldn't have done it without each of them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

On Tooth Decay

I've put off talking about this openly for a long time, which stems almost entirely from shame. It's really hard to hide the fact that your 2 1/2 year old is missing a tooth since, obviously, she's not old enough to be losing any. It's also really hard to hide the fact that at the age of 3, the 3 surrounding teeth have disintegrated to a point that they may as well not be there. She hasn't been able to eat normally since before the one finally chipped clean off upon smacking her face into the table and it's only gotten worse since then. The single blessing to be found is that, despite this horrendous example of extreme tooth decay, she has yet to have any infection or pain beyond mild sensitivity.

A lot of the shame comes from the fact that I knew better. Granted I didn't know better when she first started budding teeth, but by the time they started decaying faster than I could blink at around 18 months old (at the same exact time she started putting on 5lbs every month - coincidence?) I absolutely knew better. I'm a loud and proud proponent of a truly healthy lifestyle, one not based on the food pyramid or other popular ideas of nutrition which are mostly vegan and whole grain heavy. I believe whole heartedly in the power of healthy animal fats, meat, and plenty of vegetables, raw and cooked.

If you really want to tell me, "You're doing x, y, z wrong," take a number, I've already got the first 50 tickets. Addie is the way she is for a whole host of reasons, almost every single one of them I can identify as being my own fucking fault. This isn't a pity party, I own up to every mistake I have made with her. It's probably the pregnancy hormones, but I have to hold back tears every time I look at her. Remember in The Matrix when suddenly Neo can see everything in code? That's the life I live. Suddenly I can see everything I do, or someone else does, or what is in the environment, every last little thing I can see harming her body. I'm hyper-aware of the damage being done to her and I really, really doubt anyone can tell me something I don't already know a hundred times over.

My problem has never been and never will be a lack of knowledge - I just don't follow my own damn advice and in some cases I'm outright prevented from doing so.

Tooth decay is not caused by bacteria. Don't get me wrong, bacteria and acids contribute to it, but strong teeth can go forever without being brushed and never decay, as long as the teeth remain strong. How do you get strong teeth? Nutrition. And that is an oversimplification, because there are an assload of environmental and genetic causes that interfere with nutrition taking effect, so even when you're eating really well, it can still be an uphill battle.

I was so anal about everything that went in her mouth before she turned a year old. Then we moved to Washington, then she started eating solids more regularly, then a million and one things happened, and it all went down the toilet very quickly. It was easy to keep the junk food* out of her mouth prior to a year old, but then she started to get big temper tantrums, she was learning to manipulate with cute faces, and the fights with what seemed like every single person on earth about my nutritional ideals really started up. Me saying no was seen as controlling and spiteful towards whoever wanted to give her something. It wasn't about me being a mother, it was a personal offense to someone else.

*While my definition of junk food includes McDonald's and candy bars, it also includes white bread, vegetable oils, juice, popsicles, graham crackers, and other foods most people consider "healthy" and perfectly fine for children

What most people don't seem to realize is that for my daughter, with her genetic coding, with her life starting off from the get go with nutritional deficits, something as inconspicuous as a PB & J sandwich is tooth decay on a plate. What everyone else doesn't think twice about giving their children, for Addie it's a recipe for disaster. Even organic peanut butter is full of phytic acid, which strips away minerals necessary for healthy tooth structure. Low-sugar jams will still cause a blood sugar spike that depletes the body of phosphorus and calcium, both critical nutrients for teeth. The bread is a double hit with both phytic acid and carbohydrates, not to mention inflammatory wheat. For most kids, this is a healthy lunch, but for Addie it was just one part of what got her to this point. Most people assume I must be shoveling candy down her throat with the way she looks when in reality she eats less food of better quality than the skinniest kids with the shiniest teeth. I can give you examples!

If I was to feed her an anti-tooth decay diet and heal her teeth (yes folks, it is in fact possible) I would have to spend most of the day in the kitchen preparing a lot of expensive food, and all of the cheap fillers most poor families rely on would be an absolute no-no. She would need to take expensive supplements every single day. If we went anywhere, I would need to have prepared snacks and meals to take with us - we would never, ever be able to eat out or have meals with family. We wouldn't be able to have her babysat by anyone who was not willing to abide by her dietary restrictions at all times. Just going to the store would be a stress-filled nightmare as almost everything on grocery store shelves are off limits.

I actually did this diet for about a week, early in my pregnancy. I spent the entire day sick because I was so hungry since we couldn't afford the amount of food necessary to keep both of us fed for the whole day sans cheap fillers. We couldn't have any food in the house she was not allowed to have. When my husband brought home bags of croutons, it was like World War 3 between me and Addie - an hour long scream fest because she didn't want to eat vegetable soup for lunch, she would have rather snacked on croutons.

After a week, I gave up, like I had done time and again with her nutrition. I get sick of the stress and really  sick of fighting with everyone who thinks I'm full of shit about how much food impacts health. Everyone wanted to blame it on something simple, which of course with the social stigma surrounding "baby" behavior in toddlers, it took no time at all for the bottle to be targeted. Surely it must be dumb old mom babying her that is causing her teeth to rot.

I recognize that growing stage between babyhood and childhood, when a toddler blends into both worlds. Addie still had, and continues to have, a strong urge to nurse. She behaves in an identical manner to a breastfed toddler, strongly associating the desire to suck with the presence of her mother, even though she was never breastfed. So, I let her continue to have a bottle, even if she was using it separately from my presence. This brought up the common idea of "bottle rot", which despite being disproved, remains pervasive.

In all my research on the matter, I found that every single story I had ever read from another parent about tooth decay in toddlers, it always involved the top 4 front teeth. Even when tooth decay is mentioned in other teeth, the decay begins in the top 4 front teeth. This is true for bottle feeding, breastfeeding, and toddlers who weaned completely from an early age. It never mattered how the toddler was fed or how often the toddler brushed, their top 4 front teeth always decay.

In the rampant use of bottles over the last 50+ years, this was how the idea of "bottle rot" was created, assuming that the placement of the bottle up against those 4 teeth must be the cause of the issue, whether it was milk, juice, or water. If it wasn't a bottle, sippy cups were to blame. If it was breastfeeding, then suddenly the milk on the teeth was the problem, even if it didn't make any sense from an anatomical perspective since breastfeeding shoots milk past the teeth. In short, it's a bunch of bullshit that people cling to when they have no idea what is really causing it.

Despite having been weaned, Addie's teeth are worse than ever. We don't even let her suck her thumb for more than a few minutes, and yet they continue to decay every single day.

One culprit behind the decay that I can't really prove at this point because her teeth are so far gone, I can't compare them to other cases, is fluoridated water. I always knew fluoride wasn't good for teeth and had read about fluoridosis, but didn't give it much credit because it was supposed to be this rare thing from consuming fluoridated water constantly.

The problem? Addie was consuming water constantly, all day long in fact, and had been since she was 8 months old. She had fluoridated water in everything she consumed for over 2 entire years. I thought the water in my parents' town wasn't fluoridated and didn't think twice about making her formula with tap water when we had to move in with them for 3 months. When we moved to Washington, I stupidly assumed that surely people near Seattle would never be so ignorant as to fluoridate their water. Addie began drinking sippy cups with tap water, she had homemade kombucha with tap water, and I continued to make her formula with it, not to mention all of the cooking I did with it, including bone broth. This continued until we moved to Lake Stevens when I finally decided to check the water report and yep, the entire county has fluoridated water. It wasn't until she broke off her tooth that I finally stopped allowing her to have tap water, adding another expense to our list.

The biggest tip off for me was when I looked at pictures of fluoridosis again and saw the classic browning around the gum line, exactly as I remembered Addie's teeth looking as they began decaying. It wasn't just "soft spots" or a little shadow on her teeth, it was a giant swath of brown across the top of each tooth, appearing almost overnight. I was so embarrassed for allowing her teeth to begin decaying despite everything I had done that I never took pictures where her teeth showed very much, so I have no evidence of it now. The worst part? Regular tooth decay rarely affects adult teeth, even severe decay that isn't drilled & filled, but fluoridosis does. There's a very good chance Addie's adult teeth will come in decayed, even if her remaining teeth are pulled out.

And yet despite all that, despite that huge concern, anytime I mentioned it to doctors, it was blown off. "No no, I don't think that's the cause." I'm just told to make sure she brushes her teeth properly, because clearly that had been the problem all along. She gladly brushes her teeth several times a day, even doing it without ever being prompted. Brushing her teeth is not the problem and never has been.

Now that her teeth have decayed this much, it has become essentially impossible to reverse the decay without a very strict diet and lifestyle. That one week I did do it, her teeth grew a ton and were brilliant white, I saw the results right before my eyes. But as soon as I stopped? The new growth chipped away because it hadn't been given a chance to strengthen yet. Every single thing that does not help heal her teeth is in effect helping to decay her teeth. This of course gives ample fuel to anyone who questions the idea that tooth decay can be healed to simply say it's impossible no matter what. It's a lot easier to just say it can't be done than to own up to every bad decision that caused it in the first place and try to do something about it now.

Everything about this situation is hard. I can't even talk about it without a huge amount of emotional energy because I know I can't do any more than I'm already doing. There is no one to help figure out what else is going on with her body that is preventing what measures I can take from being truly effective. The few doctors and dentist I had been able to get her to have been completely unhelpful. When I try to advocate for her with family and friends who take part in her care, my wishes are disregarded, largely for the same reasons I give up - it's too much effort, too much thought, too much stress.

It's easier to pop open a box of crackers when she whines about being hungry for the millionth time than it is to prepare a proper plate of food. It's easier to hand her a corn dog than to make sure she eats enough vegetables by modeling enjoyment for them. And then I get into another vicious cycle because I know I'm doing her wrong, I know I'm fucking her up even more when I hand her a sandwich instead of homemade soup, I get depressed and stressed out, sinking further into the hole that keeps me from willing the energy to do better for her. Her tooth decay is one of a dozen other issues I deal with every single day, not including all of the normal life stuff like figuring how the hell to afford rent this month or if we have enough gas to get the grocery store.

Just count yourself lucky if you can absent mindedly give your kid a popsicle or a muffin without it causing irreparable damage. I don't have that luxury, and Addie is the one who is paying the highest price for it.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What's happening?

If anyone was paying attention, I never finished my Christmas/Yule series. Life happened. And it was great. We spent time together as a family, we laughed, we cried, we enjoyed ourselves. I had great intentions for writing about it as a means to reflect on all that we did, and then I realized that, in this case, I didn't need to reflect on it. I just needed to live it and let it be.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter Festivities: Day 3

Sunday was the day for animals, both the ones we have, the ones who have passed, and the ones in the wild. When Addie got her gift for the day, the kitties got a new laser pointer. Both Addie and the cats adore it. Not only will Addie turn it on and flash it around for the cats, but she will also chase it on the floor right along with the cats. Whatever makes her happy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter Festivities: Day 2

Saturday was just for Addie. During the 12 Days of Christmas, or 13 Days of Yule, there was usually an Innocent's Day where children specifically were celebrated. There was an odd custom of beating the kids this day to save them hardship through the rest of the year. Obviously we weren't going to go that route.

My goal for this day was to break me and Zach away from our routines and get more into the spirit of the season. By the time Friday had rolled around, both of us were super stressed and pent up. Spending a whole day focused on Addie was perfect for releasing the tense emotions.

Since we had woken up really early and still had some errands to take care of, we set out right after watching the sunrise to get it all done. By the time we got to Trader Joes, all the stores were filling up and I was super happy we did everything as early as possible.

Addie continued to not disappoint with her increasing cuteness and apparently her capacity to remember things. No sooner had Zach pulled into the parking lot did Addie recognize we were near Toys R Us and started pointing out the window, going "Toys! Toys!" I just put my head in my hands. Usually Zach will take her in there while I run over to the pet store to get supplies. They had just enough time to browse through a couple aisles and leave. Up until then Addie had not been super interested in it. Now it seems that this semi-monthly journey has become far more dangerous.

Since it was her special day, we did let her go in and pick something out. I had to do a bait and switch routine a couple times to get her latched onto something more age appropriate. Toy producers really know what they're doing, good grief.

Most of the day was spent with Addie dragging us onto the floor. Not so much to play with her, as she just wanted us down with her while she ran around and played near us. Zach and I ended up playing with her new soccer ball more than she did.

At the point dinner was almost done cooking, Addie decided to pull out her adorable arsenal. She took me into her bedroom and motioned to open up her clothes chest, which I did. As she was sorting through her clothes, I went back into the kitchen to clean up, where I turned around to find her presenting me with a dress and panties. So, I put them on her. Once dressed, she then took me to the front door and in her most angelic voice possible said, "Piazza!" She was letting us know she wanted pizza for dinner. We both absolutely cracked up as she continued trying to open the front door and pulling on us to go. Then she started pointing at Zach's keys, which I handed to her just to see what she would do. She gave them to Zach and started yanking on his arm, "Cart! Cart! Piazza!" Instead of the large, delicious cottage pie I made for dinner, we had pepperoni pizza. It was her special day.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Festivities: Day 1

Sunrise at old apartments
Yesterday was the winter solstice. Old myths and traditions surrounding the solstice had something to do with people, or a god I guess, noticing the sun disappearing more each day. Then one day the sun was only up for about 8 hours and everyone just shit themselves thinking the sun was going away for good. So they did something, some kind of ritual, a sacrifice, stuff like that, then stayed up all night waiting for the sun to come back. When it did, they had a big celebration.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Festivities

Christmas '07
It's been another hard year. There have been plenty of good things that have made it more bearable, but things were still pretty intense for pretty much the entire year. I have reached more of a zen point where I cannot possibly care about everything that happens anymore. Not so much apathetic, but that I literally do not have the emotions to give to everything.

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