Friday, August 18, 2017

Dear First Grade Teacher

On the iPod, "Believer" by Imagine Dragons

Dear First Grade Teacher, 

While most kids were worried about which friends  would be in their classes, Levi's only question after I read him your letter was, "Mom, will she know how to teach me?" As I carefully picked up my heart off the floor I simply responded, "I hope so, baby." See Levi didn't walk out of kindergarten with the usual skill set. He wasnt all giddy with excitement the first weeks of school. Instead, he was a mess. He went in crying and came out yelling. We somehow had become the worst parents in the world for forcing him to go. It was rough and horrible and it definitely wasn't the kindergarten experience that I had. It wasn't anyone's fault. He felt inadequate and no one saw it coming. Kindergarten isn't the same kindergarten anymore and it is equally as stressful for the teachers as it is for the kids.  But at the end of the year he came out knowing possibly the most important thing he will ever learn about himself...that he is special. His brain is so strong that he actually has extra cells. The extras give him extraordinary strengths... He excels in mathematics, he is extremely creative and can remember a memory like he is staring at its photograph. He sees shapes in 3D and is an incredible problem solver. But unfortunately words and letters are not his bag. They are in fact his kryptonite.  He once told me that the words on the page laugh at him and call him stupid. 

Levi is dyslexic. 

It hurts me to say this but before we had Levi privately  tested I was starting to feel like he was just a jerk. In my head, I even thought that he might be lazy and just wasn't trying hard enough. I was secretly resentful that he wouldn't sit and read with me. He would never learn the Abcs or even twinkle twinkle all the while his best friend was singing the national anthem. It annoyed me...I had carried those feelings around since he was 3 and now the stress was at its peak.

When the diagnosis came I felt guilty. How did I not know sooner? But all in all it gave me a mission. I set up meetings and public school testing... I wrote emails and letters and became an advocate. It has been a struggle and it is far from over. I am unwavering though. At the end of the year,  I sat at a table surrounded by educators and diagnosticians that had come together to build a plan for Levi and I read this letter to them...

"Before we get started I just wanted to take a minute to tell you all that I'm sorry if throughout this process I have come across as overbearing or rude or even crazy.

I know that you are all working within limits that you did not create and I truly want to believe that you have my kids best interest at heart.

I also know that my kid is one of many, but he is my one. 

I am entrusting him to you. He is not only learning reading, writing, and arithmetic here. He is also learning how to communicate with authority and with his peers. Most importantly, he is watching you to see how you communicate with him and the children around him. And he is at times basing his worth on that. 

He is sensitive and kind...and scared that he is not performing the way he thinks he should be. 

I am not only his mom, I am his biggest cheerleader and his best advocate. So please continue to forgive me when I am overbearing or crazy or when I ask the same question 5 times... And please remember at the end of the day that he is my one."

I can only describe the moment as feeling like the words were coming out of the depths of my soul. Advocating for yourself is one thing but doing it for your child comes from the rawest of places.

So as we are about to embark on a new school year... I am beyond anxious. I spoke with some good friends after meet the teacher tonight some of which have entering kindergarteners and I silently nodded through their worries of if their child is prepared enough all the way to what if their child is not challenged enough and a calm came over me as I realized I only have one agenda this year...  I want my child to love school... I desperately want him to want to be there. Please make 1st grade his kindergarten. Please help me teach him to use his learning differences to his advantage. I want to hear him tell his amazing stories even if he can't get the words on to the pages. I want to see him draw the images that fill his wonderful brain. I want you to allow him to tell you about plate tectonics and the earth's core. I want to see him using those extra brain cells. There is still time to change his perception of what school is and to reassure him that different doesn't mean stupid. There is only so much I can do for him the rest will happen in your walls. 

Sincerely,
A mom who is counting on you! 



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gone in an instant...

On the iPod, "7 Years Old" by: Lucas Graham

So... I've spent the last week revamping the blog. Buying websites and changing titles and writing and writing and writing. But since Saturday morning, I have had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and it hasn't felt right to blog about why my son took a shower with a maxi pad stuck to his forehead (don't worry I'll post this one soon.)

See... On Saturday morning, I woke up to the news that two beautiful, smart, young 16 year old girls (both just one to two degrees from me) died in a car accident just streets away. And there is a third 16 year old girl still fighting for her life. 

Unfortunately, we know too well what it is like for these families... The news takes me back to the night that Mike's brother died. The police phone calls, the drive to the hospital, the room... Yes the bad room that you've never noticed in the ER before because you've luckily never been taken there. The screaming... The crying... The utter shock...The arrangements... The funeral with too many young faces... The sadness... The heartbreak.

The difference this time is that now I'm a parent... Now, when I here about these tragedies I am overcome with fear. How do I keep my boys safe? How will I teach them how easily a night can go from fun to horrible? How do I explain to them that it's not necessarily the highways that are so terrible. It's the neighborhood streets that we drive on every day... How do I explain the dangers of the world around them without scarring them. 

These girls were not any different than I was... At sixteen we were driving just to drive. I can't tell you how many times a group of us would spend hours driving around in circles on the weekends. I'm sure we were going too fast and we probably had the music on too loud. How will I explain to them how dangerous a car is?  Will it mean something if at 15 years old I take them to the accident sights... If I take them to Alpha Road and show them the tree where Laura Welborn died in highschool... Or to plano parkway where their uncle hit a light pole in a sea of grass median... Or now to Mira Vista where Samantha Sacks and Lilly Davis lost their lives. If I make them read their stories and look at their faces...will it protect them?  Or is it all just luck based... Oh G-d I hope they survive! 

When I think about those poor parents having to wake up and bury their children my heart hurts and I feel ill. How will they move forward? I know they will move forward... They have other children who will need them to move forward. I have watched my inlaws move forward. But they will move forward changed... Forever changed.

Please pray for these families and for any family who has lost a child. Pray that Kendall Murray, the third teenager, heals both mentally and physically. Pray for the parents of the world, yourselves included, that we may find both the strength and the words to teach our kids the lessons that they need to know.

Kiss your kids. Tonight and always...
xoxo Amanda  



Friday, February 3, 2017

A New Beginning...

On the iPod "Stars" by: Alessia Cara

Hello...
A funny thing happened last week...I ran into two of my very favorite people and the question came up...
"Where do you want to be in 5 years?"

As I sat there my heart was screaming one undeniable truth... I want to be here...in these pages. 7 years ago I started this blog. I have ... (Dot, dot, dotted) my way through so many ups and downs. Most importantly the birth of three little boys. Unfortunately with each one it has proven harder and harder to find the time to write, but it has to change. I need to work on this blog.  I miss you and I miss me. 

So I'm here and I want to write! I want to give you the honesty that has kept you coming back for more. I want to talk about how hard it is to have a husband who works so much and what it's like to raise these little boys with my village. I want you to walk with me as I learn how to be a better parent. I want to show you what's for dinner and give you lunchbox ideas. And I want us to FEED OUR KIDS...BOTH THEIR BODIES AND THEIR SOULS! So I need your help... I need you to follow me. I need you to find me on Instagram and on facebook for starters and I need you to talk about me with your friends and to share my posts when they speak to you. The blog will be making a bit of an evolution and I'm so thrilled to be back! Hope you will join me on this journey! 

xoxo Amanda 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Neverland

On the IPod "Lost Boy" by: Ruth B

I'm a strong believer in all things spiritual. I believe in signs and I really do believe that when someone dies there is a part of them that stays in this world. 

Sometimes, when you look back closely at the time just before someone dies you can see that there are rarely coincidences. 

About 3 weeks ago, Levi started to ask me, out of the blue, to go and visit my dad at the cemetery. In all honesty, it caught me off-guard. I talk about my dad all of the time, but we had never discussed the fact that he was at the cemetery or the fact that visiting was even an option...It has always been a private space for me so I kind of just blew off the conversation.  But in usual Levi fashion, the conversation just kept creeping up. This past Sunday, I just couldn't ignore it anymore. We had somehow ended up at Sunday school 20 minutes early and just as I was about to turn in I heard a little voice say, "Mommy, I really want to go to visit your daddy today... Like now!" And just like that, I had run out of excuses.  I parked in my usual spot, took a deep breath and introduced my two oldest sons to my dad. In a way, I have never felt like he doesn't know them because I feel him around me all of the time but in that moment introductions just felt right. Levi asked me lots of scientific questions about what happens when someone's body dies as if he somehow knew that the spirit was no longer there. I showed them how as Jews we leave rocks on the headstones instead of flowers. And then we subsequently left rocks and said hello to all of the other family members there.  Later on, on the car ride home, Levi told me that he thought that when you die it is just darkness. I asked him why he thought that and told him that is not what I believe... I told him that I believe that when your body dies your soul goes to a place like Neverland,  where you are always young and free like Peter Pan. To be honest, he looked at me like I was crazy but I stuck to my story and I always will. Because something greater than me guided us to the cemetery that day... 

See, the last two and a half weeks I have watched my uncle die. At first, I had no idea he was dying...It was supposed to just be a surgery to remove a tiny bit of cancer... In my head, the surgery was supposed to be the easy part... The hard part would be next in the form of chemo, radiation, maybe some other form of treatment. That was the Cancer I was prepared for... The Cancer I know is one that f@&king sucks but it at least lets you show up for the fight.  This cancer didn't even give my uncle a chance. But, it did give me a chance, a sort of gift. In the last week I have been given some amazing opportunities...I have been able to help guide my older cousins down this unbelievably hard path. I have sat beside my uncle who was halfway here and halfway there and was able to feel closer to my dad than I have in years. I have been able to break the silence for everyone with the presence of three little boys and I hope that I have been able to remind my aunt that we all have her back.  Being a member of a club that no one wants to be in doesn't come with many perks... But over the last 9 years I have learned that there are little gifts all around us, this is a gift that was given to me that I have passed on again and again and today I will pass it on once more...

When my dad died a wise old sage told me that when you lose someone close you gain a lump. At first the lump is in your throat making it hard to swallow or even breathe. You will question it and hate it and just want it to go away. And the lump will forever change you. But over time the lump moves... sometimes it's in your heart...sometimes in your hand and eventually it finds a home at the bottom of your foot. You will always feel it there and although impossible to believe right now, you will start to feel nervous when you don't feel it enough anymore. But then low and behold, it will resurface somewhere you least expected it to be.  On special days... Birthdays, holidays, weddings, anniversaries the lump moves... sometimes it moves to your elbow but other times it moves all the way up to your throat...after some time it will settle back in your foot... Believe it or not in a way you will come to love the lump... 

Tonight the lump is in our throats, making it hard to breathe. So we will try to focus on the little gifts...the little signs that are all around us and we will take a breath...

xoxo chef a

Monday, June 20, 2016

Who is in the water??

On the iPod, "Photograph" by Ed Sheeran

I've been writing this blog in my head for the last 24 hours or so. It's one I truly never thought I'd have to write, but the funny thing about parenting is that no matter how prepared you think you are nothing can ever prepare you completely.

As most of you know I have two boys, Levi who is 5 and Luca who is 2 1/2. I also happen to be 8 months pregnant with another boy coming in 7 weeks. Nobody could prepare me for how different my boys would be... Levi is my constant worrier. He is and has always been very cautious and concerned. He doesn't like to get hurt and carries many fears. He is sweet, calm and gentle most of the time. Luca couldn't be more different. He is fearless and has always been a risk taker. He has never met a stranger and will try anything at least twice or until he hurts himself and then he still might try again! With his amazing, outgoing, delicious personality comes sometimes scary, reckless behavior that scares the crap out of me as his mother. 

In the big picture their different personalities don't even matter, the story I'm telling you today could happen to any one of our kids no matter how prepared we are or they are. Last night was an eye opening experience for me and I hope it makes you open your eyes a little more also. 

Father's Day was going pretty well yesterday. We spent the morning at my Aunt and Uncle's having brunch and swimming and then the boys both rested afterwards giving this pregnant mommy some much needed down time before we loaded back up to go to my Sister in law's for more swimming and dinner. 

Both of my boys have had survival swimming lessons in summers past and they were set to start their refresher lessons today, the monday after Father's Day. I had been noticing that Luca was taking more risks in the pool in the last week and jumping in before letting an adult know so I had decided that before we started the lessons again he would have to wear a puddle jumper in the pool unless we were in just one on one.

Anyways, when I got to my inlaws I told everyone up front that he had been jumping in and made sure everyone knew that he would need to wear the puddle jumper for safety. I will start out by saying there were 10 of us at the pool. 6 adults, 2 teenagers and the two little boys. At this point in the story I will only be referring to the other adults as adults. I won't be labeling them or even giving their genders because it could have been any of us in each location and the last thing I want to do is assign blame... We all went home last night knowing that it was in some part our "fault" or our "mistake" even though in truth it was an accident.  

So late in the afternoon Luca got out of the pool with one adult and went to the patio table to have a snack. Shortly there after Levi and I went inside to get changed. At this point there was one adult and one teenager in the pool and three adults sitting at the patio table with Luca. The other adult and teen were inside the house with us. As I was getting levi dressed the adult that was in the pool came into the house to change leaving the teen in the pool and luca and 3 adults at the table. As levi stood up after getting dressed he looked out the window and screamed the most terrifying thing he has ever said, "Luca is at the bottom of the pool he is drowning!" My heart sank... We ran as fast as we could outside to find the lone teenager in the pool saving Luca's life. She had heard the splash and thought it was levi but when nobody returned to the surface she swam to help. At this point the adults at the table still had no idea what had happened... 

We are not sure how long Luca was under the water what felt like hours was probably less than a minute. When we got him out he coughed up a bunch of water and was clearly distressed but quickly gained his composure. And in usual Luca fashion was more concerned with where his goggles went than being scared of what had just happened. We watched him all night long for any other signs of breathing trouble, but he seemed fine. If the teenager hadn't been there....or if Levi had not seen Luca at the bottom...I could be telling you an entirely different story today. I still can barely discuss it without getting physically ill. We later discovered that when Luca got out for the snack the adult had taken off the life vest so that he would be more comfortable. And when he was finished eating he just got up from the table and jumped into the water. The adults were talking and never noticed. It didn't matter that there were more adults than kids at the pool yesterday or that we had put him into the life vest while we were swimming... He still ended up at the bottom of the pool in seconds. 

Here are the lessons we learned from yesterday...

When we are at the pool there has to be strong communication about who is watching each child.

If adults are sitting at a table outside their chairs need to be facing the pool at all times and really there should be an adult in the pool if kids have access to said pool. 

Looking back we should have not introduced the puddle jumper again because it gave us both too much security. I relaxed too much thinking he had it on and he also felt so secure in it that when he jumped in he expected it to catch him. 

And in future years the boys will take their refresher course before the swimming season begins. 

We are so lucky. At least two other families in America were not as lucky yesterday and those are just the stories that made the news. I'm going to guess that their day started out much like ours did. We thought we were prepared... We thought that we were protecting them... But at the end of the day mistakes were made, accidents happened and not everyone is able to give you a happily ever after today.  

Please, please I'm begging you...establish pool rules before swimming EVERY day! Assign buddies so that everyone knows their role and continue communicating with each other throughout the day as plans change. When any person, child or adult, goes inside they should notify everyone else so that every body is accounted for at all times. Lock the gates around your pool. Kids are crafty they can almost always find a way in...at least make it as difficult as possible. And lastly hug your kids, realize that everyday is not guaranteed. And none of us are immune to tragedy we are just lucky that today is not our tragic day! 

Just some scary facts from the YMCA's website.

"DROWNING FACTS

HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO DROWN? IN THE TIME IT TAKES TO...

  • Cross a room for a towel (10 sec), a child in a bathtub can be submerged.
  • Answer the phone (2 min), a child can lose consciousness.
  • Sign for a package at the front door (4-6 min), a child submerged in a tub or pool can sustain permanent brain damage. 
  • Most childhood drowning victims were seen just 5 minutes prior to hitting the water.

HOW MUCH WATER DOES IT TAKE TO DROWN?

  • Inches of water in a bathtub.
  • A bucket of water.
  • Standing water on top of a pool or spa cover.
  • Any amount of water that covers the mouth & nose. 

DO PEOPLE ALWAYS YELL FOR HELP?

  • Most children do not yell for help.
  • Non-swimmers or exhausted swimmers are unable to call for help.
  • Drowning victims may be struggling under the water. 

NEAR DROWNING

  • Near drowning is survival after submersion in fluid.
  • For each child that drowns, it is estimated that 4 children are hospitalized for near-drowning
  • Nationwide, 2700 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional drowning-related incidents
  • As many as 20% of near drowning survivors suffer severe permanent neurological disability.
  • Nearly all who require CPR die or are left with severe brain injury. 

AREAS OF RISK RELATED TO DROWNING

  • Home Pools/Spas/Ponds
  • Inside Homes
  • Natural Bodies of Water
  • Boating & Personal Water Crafts"
xoxo chef a

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

If I knew then what I know now...

On the IPod, "Lay Me Down" by Sam Smith

If I knew then what I know now...

8 years ago tonight I heard my dad's voice for the last time. I spent most of the entire next day talking to him but He never woke up and then he died that night.  He was sick for a long time and I'd have to admit, I spent a lot of that time worried about how long we would have with him. I worried about missing every little moment with him that I think in some ways i didn't enjoy those moments. I worried that he would miss everything important in my life... My wedding, my children, the good decisions and of course the bad ones too. If I had known then what I know now I would have worried less... He did miss all of those things and so much more. The worrying took up precious moments then that honestly I wish I could have back. 

I have written multiple blogs about that day, last years being the most personal. But what I haven't written much about is what I would have done differently... And how I will use the experience of losing him to teach my own children to stay in the moment... because none of it is guaranteed.

I will not say that these last 8 years have been all sugar and roses, they have been challenging. There has been extreme happiness but also sadness and hurt. I thought eight years ago that I would miss him most at the high moments... The weddings, celebrations and babies. I never would have guessed that I actually would miss him more at the darker times, the times when he wasn't there to help me back up or to just sit next to me and hold my hand.  The funny thing is that I miss him in the most everyday moments. I miss him when Luca picks up a picture of him and says "pop pop?"  I miss him when there is family drama that I'm sure he would have something to say about. I miss him when my mom has a test or a doctors appointment or even when she is invited to a party that I'm sure would be more fun for her to be at if he was here.

But I live... I miss him but I choose to live. 

My advise to all of you, who are reading this, is to live. Whether you are lucky enough to feel complete with the ones around you or you are one of us who is always missing someone, choose to live.  Don't let the worry of every possibility ruin the moment that is in front of you. The next time you are at a family dinner and the shit (family drama) hits the fan, I want you to just laugh. Laugh because you are there in that moment... There could be such a worse scenario. And when you are sitting across from your toddler who thinks that eating actually means throwing their food on the floor, I want you to firmly tell them no and then turn around and be thankful that they are just being a pretty normal toddler because it could be so much worse... It would be awesome if we could all stop worrying so much about when these little people we are raising will meet the next milestone and if they are where they should be academically and socially and instead just be happy that we made it through the day in one piece. 

Maybe it's a pipe dream to think that we could just live a little more and worry less, but if I knew then what I know now I would have chosen to live in those moments. 

Miss you daddy...forever and always. 
Amanda

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Levi The Brave

On the IPod "When We Were Young" by: Adele

I want to start this post out by saying that with all things considered I feel very blessed. Things could always be so much worse and I feel so lucky with the challenging cards we have been dealt!  I have gone back and forth on when and if I should write about this...so for now I'm going to write this for me so that I can process what today is and whether I decide to publish it or not hopefully I can make peace with it. 

I wrote a post last year explaining that Levi, my 4 1/2 year old, has an low immune system. It's actually called an IgA deficiency. Levi actually does have some antibodies just not nearly enough...so the hope is that as he gets older his body will at some point catch up. 

 "Selective immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency (SIgAD) is a genetic immunodeficiency. People with this deficiency lack immunoglobulin A (IgA), a type of antibody that protects against infections of the mucous membranes lining the mouth, airways, and digestive tract."

  It has plagued him most of his life starting with a terrible case of RSV when he was one, a multitude of upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, asthma, sinus surgery, whooping cough/pertussis, adenoidectomy, around 36 vials of blood, 5 ct scans, chest X-rays, 2 rounds of allergy testing and more...Levi takes a box full of medicines and "potions" everyday not really to treat the existing issues but to try to protect his little body from catching something worse. The kid has been through the wringer and he hardly ever complains. You would actually probably never really notice it unless you heard the slight cough that he tries to hide or the ever present stuffy/runny nose or you happen to be next to him when he says, "throw up" as he runs to the bathroom like its no big deal. 
I want to reiterate. We are lucky! It could be worse... 

Last week I took Levi into the specialist because he was super uncomfortable. On a whim, they decided to do a ct scan of his sinuses even though he had major sinus surgery last year where they drilled holes so that his sinuses would drain and we had hoped that with all of the preventive medicines his sinuses would stay clear.  Unfortunately, we were wrong. Levi is fully impacted. Infection in every crevice of his sinuses. What's scary is that you don't really want to mess around with sinus infections... They can attack the bone, eyes and the brain if left alone and If you've ever had one you know how uncomfortable it is... 
The doctor wanted to make some calls to discuss levi and when she returned to the room she looked up at me and said that while she knows I was gene tested (90% accurate) while pregnant and that Levi did have the newborn screen (which was normal) it would be silly for us not to rule out Cystic Fibrosis. I have to admit I started to feel sick to my stomach. I had a childhood friend who lived with CF. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I feel confident that levi will not have CF, but what makes me nervous is that we are having a harder time protecting him...I hate being the parent who looks around the room wondering if all of the kids have immunizations. We have seen whooping cough and it's not pretty. Levi has been on so many antibiotics that I worry sometimes that we will get stuck in a position where nothing works...

What you have to know about Levi is that he is a star patient... He is brave, braver than me, and usually has the nurses wrapped around his fingers in minutes.  For example our last visit we walked out with 7 stickers and a gold medal! 

So today we go to children's for a sweat test. We will keep our fingers crossed that it will come out negative. And we will be happy to cross it off of our list. We will hope that the antibiotics that Levi is on now will give him some relief so that he doesn't tell me again tonight that "his dreams are making his head hurt" (levi doesn't really understand that the infection is what is making his head hurt)... We will stay focused on being so thankful for what we have while still fighting for Levi to feel better. And tonight I will just be happy he has shoes to wear and try to relax when it takes him 20 minutes to find them and get them on,  I will let him make as many potions as he wants and be as messy as he can be in his science lab (aka play kitchen)... I will try to not get aggravated about the little things because honestly IT JUST DOESNT MATTER. But when I do get annoyed because let's be honest I will get aggravated at some point, I will just relish the fact that in that moment my biggest worry was the lost shoes or the spilled potion. We should all be that lucky!!!! He told me today that when he grows up he wants to be a scientist that makes good potions to help people feel good...and that my friends is ALL THAT MATTERS! 

xoxo chef a

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Haircut

On the IPOD "Samson (The Voice Performance)" by: Chase Kerby and Corin Bukowski

It is scary how fast time passes... I feel like it is most apparent when you see someone from your past and in a matter of minutes you realize how much life has changed in what feels like just days.

Luca got his first hair cut today at 22 months and 1 day old. As I looked at him sitting in the red airplane stylist chair, all I could think was "slow down, sweet boy!" It all seems to be going so fast... The days might be long but the weeks and years are just flying. 

I remember how impatient I was when Levi was a baby... I couldn't wait until he crawled and walked and knew 100 words. I reveled in the day he changed diaper sizes or grew an inch. I remember that my friends with older children kept saying, "Don't wish the time away! Enjoy every step without worrying about when the next one will come..." I thought they were crazy! But tonight as I just carried Levi, who feels more like a pile of arms and legs than a baby, to his bed. I sit here a little bit jealous of all you mommies out there still rocking your babies right now. I get it! I was once you, it was just a minute ago that I was wishing them to just go back to sleep. But in this second, I'm missing those late nights and 2am feedings with them.  

It's not like I'm sentimental all of the time or anything. I still have many tense moments during the day... Wishing Luca could communicate better or could just sit still for a second. And I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm a little excited for Levi to get past the "F! Off" fours. But with all of it, there is this bittersweet feeling in my heart that there will never be this moment again... Makes me realize just how lucky I am to have the most amazing friends who allow me to bitch about my daily mommy struggles but also think to check in on me after the first haircut! 

xoxo chef a

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Beginning of an Explosion

On the iPod "Fight Song" By: Rachel Platten

So it's actually taken me a full week to write this blog... Just trying to get everyone into a new routine smoothly!

Let's go back to last Sunday night...

So here we are... It's the night before Levi heads off to Pre-K. For those of you who don't know, Pre-K is sort of a big deal now...  I know, I know... "It's just preschool give me a break!" But it's not just preschool... I remember when Levi was just a baby and while discussing how school has changed over the years the person I was with said, "Don't worry, you'll know if he is ready for kindergarten in one easy step... Boys who are ready for kindergarten don't pull their underwear all the way down to their ankles to pee... They just pull it down enough to aim and fire!" I laughed at the time, but oddly enough now I kind of get it.

Pre-k is the year they become who they are or discover who they want to be. Don't get me wrong... I absolutely know Levi will change and grow about a million times before all is said and done, but they say by about age 5 your personality is your personality. This is the year they really start to grasp conflict resolution and where they start to really see their own strengths and weaknesses. The hugs and kisses from teachers slowly change into "Good Job's" and "Way to go's" and a few "you need to work on that's" too.  

Anyways, I tried to prepare him the best that I could. He is very much like me... Uncomfortable with change, but I assured him it would be great and still fun! 

Monday morning was hard, Levi is far from a morning person. He was not thrilled about being expected to pose for first day pictures and he was pissed that Luca got to stay at home! But once we got there things became easier, he has an amazing class with some good friends that he knows well and he quickly joined his buddies playing.

Tuesday was a bit easier... But it was also Luca's first day in the toddlers so I think Levi felt the first pull of having to share me in a school situation. Luckily, they had a great day...unfortunately Luca didn't nap. Ugh! But that's another whole post!!

Wednesday was a lesson in our new truth, and by "our" I mean Levi and I (and Mike's also but that's more of an at home thing since I do the dropping and picking up!)
So there I was unloading Levi's backpack and lunch like I've been doing for the last few years when I hear, "Did you unload Levi's backpack?" I answered quickly and with confidence, "Yep, it's all done! Have a great day!"  And then it came... "Next time don't do it!" And as I stared blankly at his teacher she gave me a little nod and said, "Pre-K is about him doing things by himself... He needs to be taking care of his own stuff!" And with that I nodded my head a bit and exited the class with a few tears in my eyes... The tears weren't about being scolded by the teacher although those who know me well know that I am a pleaser and I'm much happier when I do things right!  Ha! The tears were because it's coming... The change... And there is no way to stop it or slow it down and I wouldn't want to hold him back even if I could! Levi is going to pulling down his underwear only enough to aim and fire before the end of the year and I better learn to cheer from the side lines as I watch him do it! 

So on Thursday morning, I watched him empty out his own backpack without any help and then stared in awe as he rushed to the sign in sheet to sign himself in. 

Friday I held strong and even made the teacher proud when I watched him unload again and held myself back when his backpack fell to the floor as he walked away and he rushed back to put it up again. 

I'm by no means saying this last week has been perfect... Levi is still adjusting... Still finding his place in the class. He is a bit stressed, I'm hoping in the best way... I hope that his world, meaning all of us, can help show him how to use the normal anxieties he has to gently push him to do great things. The last thing I want is for him to feel overwhelmed so we are keeping our eyes on him. Making sure he knows we are all supporting him. Levi is a very sensitive kid and this "growing up" business is hard work! But I know he can do it and by us letting him do it we are giving him the best gift... The gift of becoming the best Levi he can be! 

"Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion"

Here's to you my sweet Pre-kindergartener... Go out there and make your explosion! 

xoxo chef a


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Look Back

On the iPod, "See you again (feat. Charlie Puth)" By: Wiz Khalifa

When my dad died a wise old sage told me that when you lose someone close you gain a lump. At first the lump is in your throat making it hard to swallow or even breathe. You will question it and hate it and just want it to go away. But over time the lump moves sometimes it's in your heart sometimes in your hands but eventually it finds a home at the bottom of your foot. You will always feel it there but although impossible to believe right now as time goes by you will start to feel nervous that you don't feel it enough but then it will quickly resurface somewhere you least expected it to be.  But on special days... Birthdays, holidays, weddings, anniversaries the lump moves... sometimes it moves all the way up to your throat again but then it eventually settles back in your foot... In a way you will come to love the lump... It will remind you so deeply of the one that you love and it will just become a part of you. 

I'm not sure why but for the last couple of days. The lump has been in my throat...making it hard to breathe...

Maybe it was seeing pictures of my brother introducing his three year old to my dad's old records... Maybe someone who reads this blog needs to hear this story today... Or maybe the lump just needed to move...

But Something is bringing me back to that day 7 and 1/2 years ago... So much so that I spent some time last night looking at blogs I had written years ago... This post was written on the 2nd anniversary of my dad's passing...

"On the iPod, "Crazy Faith" by: Alison Krauss

About three weeks ago a friend on facebook listed this as their status:

"can't believe I havent seen my father in 19 years."

I have been thinking about it ever since...As of today I have not seen my father in 2 years...I can't even imagine 19...

I have written so many blogs about today in my head over the last 24 hours. What should I say...Should I tell you about the day 2 years ago or should I tell you how incredible he was. Maybe I should tell what he means to me. Or maybe I should write an entire blog about how pissed off I still am (not at him but at the disease). I thought about how my family would feel, would they want me to write about such a private day?? So as of this minute I decided that I'll write a little about everything...

On my birthday of 2007, I got a phone call that would change everything. I was having a party at my apartment and my parents were supposed to stop by. My Dad was in treatment for prostate cancer and had been since about 1998, he had been in drug trials at MD Anderson for probably about 1 year. (on a side note they don't explain to you that most of the drug trials are meds that might extend your life by weeks, maybe months and come with awful side effects, they are not cures like one would hope for...) The phone call was simple "Amanda, Daddy is not feeling well, I am taking him to the ER...You don't need to come...today is not the day...we will call you if something changes." For the next 4 months it was more of the same...sick one day, better the next. Our family house changed too... there were walkers, shower seats, lots and lots of pill bottles, and even a checklist that I made up on the computer titled "How do we feel today?" I remember the day in particular that I finally accepted that things had changed. My dad was bad...and I wanted so badly to speed drive him to the hospital so that they could "fix" him. My mom knew... She somehow knew that the time had come to stop going to the hospital. I've never asked her how she knew... Did someone tell her? Anyways, after listening to me freak out about taking him I watched her pick up the phone and call his doctor, who was always a close friend, she simply said, "Gabriel, I'm with Amanda, Joe Bill is not doing well... She wants to take him to the ER... I thought maybe she should ask you some questions..." As I picked up the phone... Tears started rolling down my cheeks... Without asking any questions... He said in words I can't remember verbatim... "Amanda, I'm so sorry but we are running out of time, we can't fix him... We could make it a bit better but then in a couple of days, maybe hours you will have to bring him back...and the visits will get closer and closer together and it will be very painful for him. I think we should make him comfortable so that he can listen to his music and be with yall."

We signed up for hospice and he fired hospice (pretty sure he wasn't a fan of the nurse!) I do have to admit though this particular hospice sucked! Anyways he refused for any hospice to come back at that time.

Things continued to get worse and it was extremely difficult for us to completely care for him. On Christmas Eve day, I walked into the room where he was sitting and said, "I've researched some hospice companies I found one that sounds great, they will be here this afternoon. His response was a simple "Ok." On Christmas eve day, the hospice nurse came out and visited with my dad and by 10pm they had delivered meds to keep him comfortable.

Things progressed quickly...My dad had been walking with a cane or walker for a solid three weeks the cancer had long ago moved to his bones and the pain was intense but for whatever reason on Friday Jan. 4 he decided to go out to dinner for mexican food with my mom, my aunt and my uncle and he went without any kind of walking device. By Saturday, he changed. He was sitting in his chair all day and acting a little strange. A hospice nurse came over and said he sounded great and that we still had time, probably weeks! I left to go to dinner with friends and got home at about 10 pm. I figured everything was fine and that they might be sleeping so I didn't call. I should have called my dad couldn't get up and even my brother couldn't help him up...the fire dept. had to come. He didn't get out of bed Sunday. Friends came and went all day. Telling stories, listening to his favorite music, looking at the pictures that still today envelope my parent's house. At this time we also had round the clock help just in case my dad needed anything.

I slept over at my mom's on Saturday night. I woke up for whatever reason at about 3 am and decided to go and check on him. He sounded terrible, we had heard about a condition called the "death rattle" it is just part of the process, but when I went to tell my mom what I thought was happening she reassured me that the nurse had said weeks...we were fine. So I went back in, made my dad sit up and take just one more sip of water from a straw and went back to bed.

I woke up to the sound of my brother screaming, "Wake up Daddy, get up Dad!!!" I ran back there and he was still there but not there all at the same time. Of course, I was shocked but not really surprised, my father refused to be held back he had obviously made a choice. By 5pm with all of us there by his side and music playing in the background he took his last breath. It was peaceful, I don't even think I was angry at this point, the anger came later... I knew he was in pain and I knew the last thing he would want would be to be stuck in bed.

The most interesting thing about the journey was that days later as the news spread we got phone calls and visits from all of his friends from high school and life and everybody had one thing in common, my Dad had called them all within the last week of his life, coincidence, I think not! He sent hundreds of CDs those last weeks, adorned with pictures of times long ago. 

My Dad lived his life his way to the very end. When I think about everything he has missed in the last two years I get very sad, weddings, funerals oddly enough, birthdays... I worry some days about how I'm going to explain him to my kids, how will I show them how his smile lit up a room and how it felt to hold his hands. Sometimes right before I walk into a room at my Mom's house I wish that when I open the door he is just sitting there....

I'm sorry this became all about the disease and the end, but i just wrote and it came out. For what ever reason this was the story I needed to tell today so thank you all for listening.

I miss you Daddy, I love you and I wish you were here!"

xoxo chef a

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Naps and Secrets

On the iPod "Incomplete" By: James Bay

I know I've said it before, but I honestly can't get over how different my boys are... I mean just today at the splash park, Levi spent a half an hour worried about the water getting in his eyes and the other hour worried about ant piles in the grass and Luca divided his time between running as fast as he could away from me through every surface barefoot and standing directly under the water dump buckets. The differences really go completely across the board....

Levi gave up bottles by himself and switched to one nap with no effort on my part at all. So I guess I had always expected that it would just happen for Luca the same way, but boy have I been wrong! Let me preface this by saying I am by NO MEANS asking for advise (I have plenty of personal mommy council and I am aware it's up to me to set the ground rules for my child,) but I'm just having a harder time with it than I ever expected. Here is my current secret... I keep a bottle in the car with water in it... I'll bring a sippy cup into a play date or to mommy and me, but as soon as we hit the car our dirty little secret is out and the bottle is in his hands... I have no willpower, Luca might possibly go to first grade with a baby bottle stashed in his lunch box. It is his comfort. He doesn't have a paci or suck his thumb, no blanket or lovey, just a bottle... Any bottle... He doesn't even care what kind... It doesn't even have to have milk in it... I could tell you that I have a date that I will absolutely take it away but I would be lying... I have NO DATE! The second he looked at me with his puppy dog eyes and threw the sippy cup in my face 3 months ago I decided not to care. The only change that will be happening for now is that I will be hiding the bottle in his diaper bag while its 95 degrees outside... Judge me if you want to, but people nurse their kids till they are like 8 now... Why should my kid suffer because I couldn't produce enough milk. I mean if he has bonded with the bottle why should I come between them??? Only kidding... Kind of. I promise he will give up the bottle... I hope at least by the time he wants to try a bottle of another source. 

Onto the dreaded nap change... Luca has been an unbelievable sleeper ever since at 8months when I put on his Amber teething necklace and he slept through the night. I can count on one hand the number of times he has woken up in the middle of the night. And since about the same time he has taken two GLORIOUS naps a day. He would wake up at 6:15, go down for his first nap at 9:00-9:15 sleep till sometimes 11, play and eat lunch. Go back down at 2pm sleep till 3:30-4. Play more, eat dinner and by 7:15 would be knocking on the hall door ready to go to his bed. We could not have asked for a better sleeper... We even changed our schedule... No more dinners out past 6 pm and if we do go out it is timed with military precision. Until about 8 weeks ago, when he started having a hard time with his daytime naps. He was going between dropping one a day, being super cranky others, fighting us terribly during the daytime hours while luckily his nighttime sleeping has stayed pretty consistent. I just knew he was trying to switch to one nap a day, but it wasn't easy at all! I have read all of the books, tried all of the different methods. Been on the verge of tears with my closest friends. But nothing was really sticking. What makes my schedule hard is that I wake up super early... I really like to leave my house no later than 6:30 even if that means a quick diaper change and both boys are in the car in pjs on the way to BeBe's house (yes I know I'm extremely lucky to have a mom that will lovingly take my children that early so I don't have to drag them to the markets with me), but this is where the boys differ again... Levi will walk in and curl up in her bed and sleep for another hour... while luca gets up and it's full steam ahead.  So over the last week I have FINALLY figured out how to survive this and get Luca on some sort of crazy schedule. I have found that instead of sleep training, Luca needs lounge training. Luca needed to be taught how to just chill. Every morning I have been lounging with him. If I get him before he wakes up himself he will cuddle with me just long enough that he is learning how to just chill with me. And then once he has lounged a bit he needs lots of protein food sources and LOTS of activity so that he can push through lunch and then go down for his nap. My hope is that I can eventually get him to lounge right over to BeBe's house and do what Levi does but who am I kidding that will never happen lol. The lounging technique is working for his naps as well. It has been hard for him to nap longer than about an hour and a half (which was his regular napping time when he was taking two) which just isn't enough for him... So I've been lounging him back to sleep if he wakes up. For example, today he woke up from his nap and I could tell it wasn't enough so I went in and cuddled with him on the bed for just a couple of minutes and then put him back into his crib and he slept another HOUR! I'm hoping that he will eventually just sleep through. 

But I'm just happy that I feel like I'm figuring him out. That is what I find is the hardest part of them growing up and changing, it's the feeling that you don't know them. It takes you right back to their first big change as a baby, whether it was feeding problems, sleeping problems, or crying problems. We are their mothers...we all feel like we should just know how to make their lives perfect and when we are tested and we don't know its hard!!

For someone who prided myself on not scheduling Levi, I sure have made a complete 180 when it comes to Luca. I'm trying to embrace it. Embrace the schedule, Embrace the change and Embrace the differences. So for all of you mommies out there who are parenting in a way that you never thought you would or are dealing with your own frustrations... Never fear YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

xoxo chef a