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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye 2012

Miles with fallen leaves at Descanso Gardens

Wow, the year is over.  Just a few more hours and it will be 2013.  As I look back on how much has happened this year I am blown away.  How does so much happen in such a short time yet it always feels like it happened a million years ago?   At the beginning of this year I was still pregnant with Ella.  I was nervous for her birth, hoping for the best, not knowing if we'd be in for any surprises. And then she was born, perfect in so many ways.  My worries turned from her to Miles, who was going through so many changes: moving into his new room, starting a new school, having a more intense therapy schedule, not being the center of our universe anymore.  How was he going to deal with a new sibling?  How was I going to deal with two kids?   This year also brought lawyers and mediation and IEP's and fighting, fighting for my family, my house, my kids.  So much of it is just a blur and when I look back on the year, I think I was half asleep through a large part of it.  I'm not sure how we've made it through, but we have and most of memories are good.

Miles has grown so much.  He's a big boy now, ready to start sleeping in a big boy bed soon.  He actually started two new schools this year, became a big brother, finished all his Early Intervention therapies, had his first IEP.  All big milestones for him and us.

My little drummer boy

And Ella, my sweet little lady, was born this year.  A Dragon Aquarian just like myself.  She was born healthy, strong, beautiful, hungry and with an independent spirit.  A perfect addition to our family.  And the happiest little baby around.  She is social and curious, daring and funny.  She loves food and music and swimming and playing with Miles. I love her to pieces.

My sweet pea
Yet with Ella's birth came a lack of sleep so intense that it's been the hardest part of my year!!  It's messed with my head on way too many occasions.  Sleep deprivation makes me grumpy and eat too much and overindulge on caffeine and sweets and have no energy for exercise.  So my body is in pain and out of shape.  My mind is foggy and my emotions are all over the place.  Transitioning from one baby to two has been a major challenge for me. But one that I've welcomed, in fact, I wanted it.

Sibling love!

Is it worth it?  Is all the stress and emotional drama and lack of sleep and loss of independence worth it?  YES.  A big resounding YES!  I am exhausted but somehow I find the energy to be a mother, to be the best mother I can be on any given day.  And I do it because I love these tiny humans who call me mami.  They make me happier than I ever thought possible.  They have made me understand things about myself and life that I had barely even questioned in the past.  They have made me be more loving, empathetic, caring, compassionate, inclusive,  funny and kind.  Although I seem to have a short temper, I'm actually more patient now than I have ever been before.  They've made me question my values, what I admire, my understanding of love and laughter and letting go.  They've made me be less judgmental and more accepting.  In short, they've made me grow and I like the direction in which I'm growing!

Family self-portrait on our Family Fun Day!

I won't lie though, even though these little dumplings have changed my life for the better, raising them is hard as hell!!!!! Shit, it's true that nothing in life comes easy!!!  There can't be growth without effort and pain.  So that's where I'm at as 2012 comes to an end.  I'm in a place where my reserves have kicked in so my exhaustion won't get the best of me.  And I'm feeling blessed for all of it.  For my family, my body, my mind, my spirituality, my light.  My wish for 2013 is to find more harmony in every area of my life, especially at home.  I wish for happiness, health, love and daily harmony!!  And as I look at the photo above I think, "Oh my God, that's my family!  Those are my kids.  Two kids.  I am a mother of two!! WTF!!??".  That's amazing to me.  I never even knew I wanted kids, thought I didn't, and here I am loving them and the family that Zach and I have built more than anything.  Wow, that's some growth right there!

Thank You and Goodbye 2012. 

Hello and Welcome 2013!

Christmas 2011
Christmas 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Little Moments

Ella is 10 months old.  She is crawling and cruising on furniture and climbing on everything and following Miles's every move.  She's got six teeth with two more coming through and she loves food!  In fact, we've been calling her Po, like the character in the movie "Kung Fu Panda" because just like Po, she's completely motivated by food.  That's how she first started crawling.  She started noticing Miles's food on the floor and learned how to reach it...and put it in her mouth!  She eats anything, especially finger foods.  She loves the independence.  Don't try to feed her, she wants to do it herself!!  Noodles, beans, yoghurt, bread, grapes, carrots, tofu, eggs, quinoa, rice.  If it's on her little table, she will put it in her mouth.  Yes, even yoghurt.  Meals are very messy around here.   Ella is a happy little baby as long as she's not tired or hungry.  If she is, she lets me know.  She's very clear about what she wants and doesn't want and she lets me know it.  Yep, she's my daughter.  I don't think she'll have any problems expressing herself.  Ella loves to laugh and babble and point at things and imitate sounds.  In fact, she's getting so good at it that  Zach and I make a pact to stop using curse words around her, which, if you know us, you understand how incredibly difficult that is.  But we're trying...I swear. 

Miles is loving his preschool and is also learning exponentially.  His sign language and understanding of language has doubled in the last couple of months.  He's finally using his signs more often without needing us to prompt him.  And he's understanding more concepts like things that are hot or cold. His spoken language is still lagging, but he's got a few new words and phrases he's using like, "do it", "stop it"and "there".  Communication can still be a challenge, but I find that it gets better every day.  I've also become a better listener and watcher so I can anticipate his needs and be on the lookout for his signs.  He can tell I'm listening and understand him and he is, in turn, more interested in communicating with me.  It's starting to be a more rewarding experience...finally!  Miles also surprised us with his very spirited performance in the school's Halloween show.  He totally rocked it!  He was the happiest, most energetic and exciting performer of all.  Which wasn't really a surprise. What surprised us was how well he knew the choreography and how he didn't need an aide to help him follow along at all.  I mean, he loves dancing, I know that.  But I didn't know that he would be so good at a choreographed dance!  It was exciting to see him surpass my expectations.  He loved the stage and being in the spotlight. 

These are just a few tidbits of what's been going on in the last two months.  It's really been a whirlwind and I've barely had time to process it all.  That's why I haven't written.  It's usually a toss between writing and sleeping.  Sleeping has been winning every time. And I know that with the holidays coming this month, the last 31 days of 2012 are going to be over before we know it.  But I don't want this year to be over!  I want to luxuriate in this time, I want to truly experience this sweet stage that Ella is in.  I want to be able to look back on these days with both kids and remember specific moments in time.  The little moments, not just the big ones like Christmas or Thanksgiving.  I want to be able to remember Ella's toothless smile and the way she crawls with one knee pointing up toward the sky. I want to remember how she puckers up her mouth and scrunches her nose when she savors a new flavor for the first time.  I want to remember the way her delicate little fingers pick up a small cheerio with such precise coordination and put them in her mouth. I want to remember her sweet little voice when she says mama or her high pitched yelling when she's excited.

I want to remember Miles's funky dance style: stomping his legs and swinging his torso and bent arms from side to side.  I want to remember how he's added air guitar and air drums to his dance repertoire and how he has no shame of breaking into dance at any restaurant when good music is playing.  I want to remember his sweet smile and carefree laughter when we run around the kitchen chasing each other.   I want to remember how he says "hi" with such innocence and love every time I see him or how he pats my back when we embrace.  I want to bottle all these special moments so I can see them this clearly 50 years from now.

Alas, Dumbledore's pensieve only exists in the Harry Potter series.  So I'll try to do what I know how to do: to stop and enjoy the moments with my kids.  Take the time to really be with them and not fill my head with other worries.  And then, when I can, I will write about those moments because it helps me process them.   It helps me see them again and store them deep in my heart.  And of course, I will take photos and videos because when I  don't have time for the words, a picture can say it all!

So here is a few highlights of the past two months......

 The month of October started off with the Club 21 Walkathon in Pasadena, where we helped raise awareness and money for children with Down syndrome!

Family Portrait with Brobee at the Club 21 Together Is Better Walkathon!
Miles dancing with his friend Lilly at Club 21 Walkathon

At school, Miles started acting out a bit this month.....and that got him into trouble on the playground! He fell and got a pretty big gash right above his eye.  Instead of stitches, the doctor glued his skin together and put a butterfly strip over it.  He was pissed off about the whole ordeal, but as soon as we got home, he went straight into the studio to play the drums. 

Miles on the drums after his trip to the doctor.
                             Ella also likes to play the drums!
Miles trying on his cowboy boots for his Halloween costume as Sheriff Woody

 Miles's first performance, onstage, with a live audience was fantastic!!!  We had parents coming up to us afterward saying that they would pay just to go see Miles perform.  Yeah, he was that entertaining.....and good!

Ella, the little Pumpkin, showing off her cute delicate fingers.
Miles during his school's Halloween performance.

Sheriff Woody
Sibling Love!!
Ella's chubby cheeks on her first train ride in Travel Town 
A self portrait of Miles and I during our date to the Natural History Museum

Thanksgiving 2012......
Miles and Lilly eating apples after Thanksgiving dinner

Ella happily playing with the big kids on Thanksgiving
My kids and food........

Ella after a yoghurt breakfast
Eating dinner like big kids at the little kid's table.
Our first self-portrait!
Mama sandwich on a lazy Sunday at the Griffith Observatory