Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

October 28, 2017

School Costumes

This year Nicole’s second costume for school is a Scientist, “like Mommy.” One morning, as I was driving Nicole to School, we were discussing what she wants to be when she grows up. One of the options we discussed was scientist. I told her mommy was a scientist and she got really excited about being a scientist, just like like mommy. We had already settled on the girls being astronauts for Trick or Treating, so I told her most Astronauts are also scientists, and asked her if she wanted to be a scientist/astronaut for Halloween. My proposal was met with a resounding yes.

I love how non-conventional my little girl is!

I also fear that she will regret her decision once she sees the other girls in their Disney princess costumes, so we decided pretty early on that she wasn’t going to be a stereotypical scientist with tapped glasses. Scientists come in all shapes and sizes, after all. She’s going to wear her favorite dress under her lab coat, because why not? My two favorite details of her costume are her badge, and her astronaut necklace. The badge has her picture from her first day in kindergarten, title and the official NASA logo. She is an astronaut/scientist after all! The necklace is a special surprise I’m going to give her the day of her school party.

I had dubbed Alexis’ school costume “color explosion.” I was going to put her in a her rainbow fairy skirt and give her a rainbow lei garland. I thought she’d love all the colors. Unfortunately they had a dress up day earlier this week, and while my not quite three year old was initially content in her costume, she got upset when she saw all the other Elsa, Moana, and super heroes. Oh Irony, that’s what I was worried about with Nicole!

So Alexis is going to her school party in Nicole’s old Wonder woman costume from last year. Crises resolved.

Most of our second costumes came from the dress up corner. The safety glasses were an additional $3.59 for a pack of six, and the necklace was $3.39. I did purchase a Moana costume for Alexis when she was sad, but the only one I could find was a 4-6x. Technically she sometimes wears 4, but that size was too big in the astronaut. I was worried we’d risk another round of disappointment when the costume she coveted didn’t fit. When the Wonder Woman costume sufficed I decided to keep the Moana costume for the dress up corner. We should get a lot of good use out of it for a few more years still.

I think this may be the last year I will be able to convince my two kids to do joint costumes. Nicole’s love of all things astronaut did not transfer to Alexis. We went through quite a few negotiations to get her into her orange jumpsuit for our costume dry run. She’s actually wearing her favorite dress underneath. Hey, whatever works!

Other than getting the kids suited up, our costume dry run went well. Both girls had a lot of fun posing as astronauts, gazing into the distance and pointing up at the pretend stars. We did a little mock trick or treating as well, since I’m not planning on bringing my camera for the day. Any photo shoot that ends with candy is a win in their book.

I have the most ridiculously bad luck when ordering Halloween costumes online. I had an issue with Nicole’s Wonder Woman costume last year. The first costume came ripped, and even though it was still early October the store couldn’t guarantee a replacement in time. In fact, the replacement wasn’t guaranteed to arrive until November 28th! This year I decided to order in late September to be safe, and it’s a good thing I did as I ended up making four separate purchases!

The plan since August has been for Nicole to be a white astronaut and Alexis to be an orange astronaut.

The first problem was I wasn’t sure of the girls’ sizes. Alexis was sometimes in a 3T and sometimes in a 4T, Nicole was pretty solidly in the 5-6 range. the costume comes in 4-6x and 2-3T. I was sure Alexis would be a solid 4T by Halloween, but there’s a six inch height difference between the kids! I couldn’t believe they’d be in the same size costume with such a large height difference. Since the 4-6x would definitely fit at least one of my kids and the orange version was on sale, I ordered it.

It was big, but not ridiculously big on Alexis. It fit Nicole well, but Nicole’s heart was set on the white astronaut. So I ordered the 4-6x in white, and the 2-3T in orange. The 2-3T in orange fit Alexis just right. Perhaps it was a hair small, but the kind of thing that would only be noticeable to mom. I didn’t want to return the 4-6x, just in case Alexis hit a growth spurt between early September and now. It still has the tag, but we’re outside the return window. I haven’t decided whether it’ll go to the dress up corner, or I’ll donate it.

The white astronaut costume was a disaster. The company sent an Adult small instead of a child’s 4-6x. It was a different, much cheaper brand which didn’t have the accessories. The benefit of having ordered the first 4-6x in orange, I guess, was that it was immediately apparent to me that the mistake was on the costume company, and not mine. Everything other than the color was supposed to be exactly the same. I didn’t hesitate to return that one. At least it was still early enough to order from someone else.

Oh well, at least the kids look great and what’s one extra costume at the end of the day?

October 17, 2017

Unicorn Sandwhich

Yesterday when picking Alexis up from daycare she immediately wanted to be held, burring her head into the crook of my neck. I felt the warmth radiating from her and just knew she had a fever. The thermometer at home confirmed: 102.4. She would be staying home today. Daycare rules.

What ever was brewing last night seems to have blown over. She slept reasonably well, all things considered and her fever is gone. She’s energetic, and her usual happy self. The only indication that she may not be feeling well was a reduced appetite. She eat only a few bites of her morning cereal when she can normally eat a bowl and a half. A few hours later she was asking for gold fish like a champ.

Since my little tropper seemed to be doing so much, but had to stay home anyway, I was looking for ways to make our impromptu Mommy and Me day a little more special. After all, big sister just had a bunch of them, and she got go to the movie theater!

One of my ideas: Unicorn Sandwhiches. Sprinkles have about 2-3g of sugar per teaspoon, depending on the brand. A pinch can be estimated to be, what, a 1/16 a teaspoon? Not enough for the added sugar to disrupted a vulnerable stomach, but enough to add a bit of excitement.

Alexis eat about 3/4ths of her sandwich. Not as much as I was expecting, but she loved the sprinkles and asked if we could have more Unicorn Sandwiches on the next home day.

September 28, 2017

Differences in Pregnancies

This pregnancy has been so amazingly different from my other two. I’ve had virtually no migraines, when that was a pretty common system with both my first two. Instead I’ve had way more morning sickness. It’s part of the reason most everyone around me guessed Z3 was a boy (spoiler, she’s a girl). My Mother in law was convinced I was carrying differently and that must be because Z3 was a boy. Alexis’ former daycare teacher was sure it was a boy because I looked like I had lost weight. I hadn’t, but I appreciate the complement.

I thought it would be fun to put together a list of how all my pregnancies differ.

Morning Sickness
1st/Zippy: No real morning sickness or food aversions to speak of. I did find myself loving sun dried tomatoes which normally I pass on.
2nd/Ziggy: Can’t eat black beans, pinto beans are the same. This is note worthy since my go-to lunch while working at Google was a burrito so I had to skip on black bean days. All else remains the same.
3rd/Z3: Food is the DEVIL. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what I can eat. It was if some invisible force was rolling the dice each and every time I tried to eat. Something I could eat yesterday would turn my stomach today. Sometimes even bread was on my no-can-do list. I could eat the flesh of a plum, but the skin makes my stomach turn. Morning sickness finally started going away around 20 weeks.

Diet (At least initally)
1st/Zippy: Cried on a five hour flight because I was hungry and all they had to eat was ham and cheese sandwhiches and that’s on the no-no list when pregnant.
2nd/Ziggy: Stuck to the no-no list reasonably well.
3rd/Z3: Forgot delimeat was a no-no item and lived off of ham & cheese sandwhiches for a week before remembering.

Prenatals
1st/Zippy: 3 months before we started trying, during the trying to conceive journey and every day pregnant.
2nd/Ziggy: Took a few off an on when we started trying to conceive. Was a lot more diligent about it after we got our pregnancy test, but I know I missed a few days here and there.
3rd/Z3: Pretty sure I last took one in the 1st trimester. At least I’m eating a lot healthier over all (now) and the carbs I was eating back then were heavily fortified with folic acid.

Migraines
1st/Zippy: Started around 10 weeks with one that lasted four days. Got worse in the second trimester and stayed bad mostly through the third.
2nd/Ziggy: I had 3-4 a week, not sure when they started. Magnesium supplements helped.
3rd/Z3: I’ve had 2 or 3 total since becoming pregnant the third time. I’ve only needed to take medication for it once.

Gestational Diabetes
1st/Zippy: Nope!
2nd/Ziggy: Nope!
3rd/Z3: Partially failed the diabetes test. I’m on the diet (hence the eating a lot healthier now) but am not technically diabetic.

Weight Gain
1st/Zippy: 10 lbs (lost a lot thanks to those pesky migraines)
2nd/Ziggy: 16 lbs
3rd/Z3: So far (28 weeks) 7lbs, but that’s including weight loss from the gestational diabetes diet.

Energy Levels
1st/Zippy: I felt pretty normal, assembled her crib at 37 weeks pregnant mostly by myself.
2nd/Ziggy: Got stuck under my desk trying to plug an Ethernet cable back in around 27 weeks.
3rd/Z3: By 20 weeks walking upstairs was too much effort, I think I’ll nap on the couch.

Sleeping
1st/Zippy: Boppy please!
2nd/Ziggy: Ugh, no boppy!
3rd/Z3: Random pillow between the knees to spare my hips.

Kids’ reactions to future pregnancies
2nd/Ziggy: Nicole would tell everyone she had a baby in her tummy too.
3rd/Z3: Both Nicole and Alexis would say they have a baby in their tummies too until I had to go on the gestational diabetes diet. Once Nicole learned I couldn’t have candy she quite adamantly determined she did NOT have a baby in her tummy.

September 23, 2017

A Not So Helpful Helper

I am in awe of how Kindergarten teachers handle their classrooms.

For several weeks I have been volunteering in Nicole’s classroom. I manage the art table and math table once a week when the students break into small groups. Last week the math table was cutting out “topping” shapes and gluing them onto their “pizza.” They then created a graph of how many of each toppings there were. I was too focused on the art table and didn’t notice one of the students at the math gluing the left over paper scraps to the table until it was too late. This week I was determined to keep a better eye on the math table. While helping them with their calendars, two of the students at the art table started dueling with their scissors.

I fear I’m not a very effective helper. My only solace is that those things would have also likely happened had I not been there.

Despite the chaos I greatly enjoy volunteering in Nicole’s classroom. It’s been a handy way for me to get the inside scoop and see what the range of skills are. There are some kids who are amazingly ahead and could probably skip ahead to first grade if our district wasn’t such a stickler for the age cutoffs, and some for who all this is clearly new. Seeing the range of where the kids are for each skill set helps me see where I need to focus our efforts at home.

As a parent, it’s definitely beneficial to get an up close view of the teacher in action. I attended the school night where her teacher discussed the skill sets the teacher felt most valuable. Kindergarten has a little of everything in their curriculum, but the emphasis is on learning to read. Seeing her teacher in action and how she works gives me ideas on how I can best encourage Nicole at home while doing homework, and how I can work in reading and writing even on math or science projects. Nicole’s teacher keeps a folder of “early finisher” worksheets, and I was able to find similar worksheets at home that we could practice with.

I also enjoy the access it provides to the teacher. I am a classic over thinker with a tendency to dwell, so waiting for a parent teacher conference to ask a question isn’t always a practical approach for me. I also don’t want to be a pest with constant emails. I can ask quick questions during recess while the kids are all playing that don’t feel important enough to warrant an email.

I might not be the best parent volunteer, but volunteering has helped me be a better kindergarten parent.

September 18, 2017

New Schools all Around

About a month after Nicole started Kindergarten, Alexis also got to start a new school. Our previous daycare/preschool combo closed it doors. Queue mini panic attack.

Thankfully, the old school didn’t close until after Nicole had started Kindergarten (so she wasn’t forced to do two major transitions back to back). Also Alexis was super excited for Nicole’s Kindergarten (I may have a few pictures of her holding up Nicole’s “1st day of school” sign at the little miss’s instance) so I think she was primed to be excited for a new school herself.

Still, I couldn’t help but stay up all night worrying about how her first day would go. Nicole had a rocky transition at roughly the same age when we moved. She missed her old friends at the “Dolphin room” at her old school. I still remember her telling me in the car on the drive home one day, her tiny voice quivering “Don’t like the Discovery room. Like Dolphin room.” We actually had plans to switch daycares to one I liked better but that didn’t have an opening for a few months, but after the rocky transition I just couldn’t do that to Nicole again.

Here we were again, at the fourth daycare I’ve enrolled one of my kids in. Moving can sometimes really suck.

I had planned to take the morning off so I could sit in the wings with Alexis as long as she needed me to. In my experience being present, but apart from the action helped previous transitions. We also brought a special transition teddy bear for Alexis to nap with, since naps were the hardest for Nicole.

We get to the new school, the new room with all the new faces and I’m bracing for the worst. Instead, Alexis spots a giant caterpillar tunnel. She hopped out of my arms, and crawled through the tunnel. I asked if I could take a picture of her going through the tunnel. “Ok, Mommy!” and she raced threw a second time. Then popped up, waved and said “Bye mommy!” I was in her room for all of five minutes before she was ready for me to go.

Ok. Lesson learned. Only transition to daycares with giant caterpillar tunnels.

August 15, 2017

Girl!

I am over the moon. Three girls was exactly the family I’ve been hoping for and envisioning.

I know I’m not supposed to have a gender preference. Or maybe I’m supposed to have a preference for the other gender I don’t have? Everyone around me seems to think I’ve been hoping for a boy, and were rooting for a boy on my behalf. Truth is, I’ve had my heart set on a third daughter since before she was conceived. With Alexis (Ziggy) I only developed a strong preference for a girl a week before the anatomy scan. With Nicole (Zippy) I was sure she was going to be a boy and I never really had a chance to hope for one gender or the other.

Nicole is super excited she’s having another sister. I told Alexis and she corrected me saying “it’s a boy!” I guess we’ll have to wait and see what she thinks when Z3 gets here!

Our anatomy scan went well. I’m oddly not feeling much movement this time around. The technician was surprised when I said that since Z3 isn’t in a bad position for movement. Maybe it’s just that I’m so distracted charging after my first two that I’m just not noticing the movement as much? She was quite the little active bean for the technician, quick to prove she was alive and healthy.

The technician wasn’t able to get one of the photos she was after. The hospital is trying something new where the perinatologist is on hand, so there’s no longer a need for second appointment when these situations arise. (With Nicole I had to go back in at a later date when the same thing happened.) Our technician explained the new approach up front to alleviate any concerns should they need to summon the perinatologist. I’d like to think as a third time mom I’m a little less prone to worrying, but we all know that isn’t true. Neither the perinatologist nor the technician were able to capture the structure they wanted in a single ultrasound image, but both were confident that they saw said structure and everything was developing normally so they sent us on our way.

August 8, 2017

Mommy & Me Days

With Nicole’s Kindergarten right around the corner, and the baby’s due date in the not to distant future, I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to ensure each child gets the individual attention he or she needs.

This spring Nicole wasn’t eating her school lunches. I told her if she eat at least two bites of everything on her plate every day for a week, I’d pick her up for lunch the next Monday and we’d go to a restaurant. Just the two of us. That was all the motivation she needed. She was super excited and eat like a champ, even the vegetable, often eating more than the stated minimum.

A few weeks later the elementary schools were all out on break for the spring holiday. Daycare attendance was surprisingly light as a lot of parents decided to keep both kids home, rather than just the school age child. The more I think about it, the more this creates a nice opportunity for a Mommy & Me day.

The kids are at different developmental stages. Nicole loves to play with beads, and make necklaces and bracelets. That’s hard to do on home days with a little sister around who sometimes puts things in her mouth. Alexis’ attention span for coloring is roughly ten minutes, where Nicole can go on for hours. Nicole is old enough to sit quietly through a movie at the theater. Alexis, not so much. The usual result of these differences is the older child is relegated to the activities the younger child.

If Nicole’s school is out, but Alexis’ is still in session, that doesn’t have to be the case. The opposite is also true, and Alexis will have the opportunity to have the big doll house and kitchen all to herself. We can spend time reading just the books she enjoys, and she won’t have to wait for Nicole’s longer chapter books to be finished.

To put this philosophy to the test, Domingo and I decided to enroll Nicole part time in her final week of preschool. She’ll get two special home days with Mommy before starting kindergarten. We’ll go to the movies, pick out her new school bag and lunch box, and generally do whatever she wants to do. Next month Alexis will get the same treatment.

I’m sure it’s no surprise to regular readers that I’m frugal to borderline cheap. Buying pregnancy tests in bulk, and saving the extras are well within my normal frugal tendencies. So when Domingo and I decided to start trying for a third child, I planned to use those left over pregnancy tests I had saved. We had succeeded in conceiving Alexis much sooner than I anticipated, so I had quite a few left over. The only problem? They had expired in April of 2015 and it was nearing the end of 2016.

I did some research online and the general consensus was that an expired pregnancy test was fine to use. The older the test, the more likely it had lost some sensitivity to hCG, the human pregnancy hormone. An expired test is therefore more likely to give a false negative reading. Since are few conditions where one would have hCG in their system and not be pregnant, a false positive is unlikely in general. Therefore, I concluded, the primary risk of using an expired test is that I might have to wait a little longer to find out the good news. If I was pregnant, hCG would slowly increase in my system and eventually be enough for the expired test to pick up. What’s a few extra days wait?

If only that was my experience. Instead I was treated to a new kind of false positive I had never heard of before, the disappearing false positive.

To back track a little, the main form of false positive is an evaporation (evap) line which happens when the test strip dries in such a way that the second line is visible. A tall tell sign of an evap line is the line is grey, and appears after the testing time window, when the test is dry. Generally speaking, a line within the testing window should be considered positive.

The second month we tried, the second line indicating a positive appeared at the 4 minute 30 second mark. It was a full thirty seconds within the time window. Hurray, pregnant!

I’m the kind of obsessive person who likes to go back and look at the positive test throughout the day, take pictures of it, etc. I do the same with negative tests too, minus the pictures of course. Two hours later I could only see the second line while holding the strip under a bright lamp and holding it at just the right angle. A little while later I couldn’t even see it then. I wondered if my eyes were playing tricks on me. I tried not to let my mind dwell on the second line that was no longer there. If I was pregnant, I rationalized, I’d get another positive test in the next day or two. I tested the next day, and the next, and the next. Negative across the board.

Two months later the same thing happened. This time the second line was more pronounced, and appeared at the two minute mark. It didn’t fade away into nothingness until 6 hours later. This time I was a little more mentally prepared for the possibility that I might not be pregnant.

After doing some digging online I found a line that disappeared within 24 hours is exceedingly rare, the result of a faulty test and should be considered as a negative. My frugal tendencies had lead to unnecessary heartache.

With my first, I was worried about potter’s syndrome. With my second, I was worried about spina bifida. This time around there hasn’t been something specific I’ve been worried about, just a general feeling of dread that something would go wrong. During the drive in to my doctor’s appointment on the 11th I was going over what-if scenarios in my head. What if there’s no heart beat? Would I tell everyone about the pregnancy? It was after my NT screen and would be considered a second trimester loss, but the pregnancy wasn’t public knowledge yet.

At this early stage appointments are mostly just checking vitals, chit chatting and listening to the heartbeat. My doctor had my lie back on the table, squirted the jelly on belly and… nothing. No rapid swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. Oh god, this is it. I thought. She kept moving the wand around, but we couldn’t hear anything.

“Don’t panic,” she told me. “I can hear the heart beat, I just can’t get it on the Doppler.”

“I think I felt her move a few minutes ago,” I lied. She would have to be superwoman to have the kind of hearing to hear a heartbeat not on the Doppler. I was sure she was just trying to reassure me.

“Wait right here,” it was a silly request, I was covered in gel with my stomach exposed, “let me get the ultrasound machine so you don’t have to worry.” I could feel the tears forming in the corner in my eyes. I have heard of these kinds of appointments before. They never end well.

As soon as the wand was on my belly I scaned the screen for a flicker of a heart beat. For a brief moment, Z3 was still on the screen. My breath caught in my throat. And then, she hiccuped. The slight movement was enough to bring the heart into view, complete with the flickering. I have never been so relieved in my life. My doctor turned on the sound and we listened to the Swoosh Swoosh Swoosh.

“She was hiding pretty far back there,” my doctor told me.

I kept saying I wasn’t worried, but I’m sure my doctor saw right threw me. “Let’s take a quick look” she said, moving the wand over to show Z3’s various body parts.

We had just been discussing early prenatal testing. I opted out of the blood test which would have revealed the gender, despite desperately wanting to know. My insurance would only cover one type of prenatal testing and I had choosen the NT scan with ultrasound to confirm no abnormalities were present. Since we had the ultrasound out already, my doctor was willing to take a quick peak. I thought I saw girl anatomy, but my doctor thinks the line could have been the umbilical cord. Even if we didn’t get an early guess at gender, I appreciate the chance to look.

So far every pregnancy for me has had one big scare. With my first, we needed a second anatomy scan to verify her brain was developing normally. With the second, there were concerns I might have been worried about leaking fluid only a few weeks into viability. Z3 was just getting the scare over with early.

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