Laugh or Cry.. I Choose To Laugh! (usually)

As usual, this has been a very entertaining week in our house.  As much as these kids tire me out and often leave me longing for 8 pm every night.. they constantly brighten my life with unexpected laugh-out-loud moments (usually leaving the serious child completely perplexed!)!  Here are a few of the most recent amusements:

We recently dined at a restaurant that had a deer head mounted above a large fireplace.  Devika was extremely intrigued with this - she kept saying: "He's stuck!  He's stuck!", and and trying to look for the rest of his body on the opposite side of the fireplace.

    This morning, in middle of a tantrum, Devi shut a drawer on something.  I said 'Devi - can you please fix that?'.. she paused her screaming and replied:  'No, I'm not done whining yet!'   

    Maya:  "Mom, are you 40??"
    Me:  "Yes"
    Maya:  "OH NO!  You're going to die soon!!"     Nice.

    Maya easily memorizes her favorite books, and she memorized ''Twas The Night Before Christmas' almost immediately upon hearing it.  She loved it and has recited it many times.  Last night, she was 'reading' the book to her little sister, and I overheard this sentence:
    "He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, 
    And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and sh*t"

    I am going to leave you today with a bit of parenting wisdom that I have gained recently:

    You can spend hours searching your house for that ever-elusive black permanent marker.  A 3-yr old, however, can find the same marker in seconds - and have her face painted and your business paperwork drawn-on within 30 seconds.

    Yoga is relaxing.  Vino is relaxing.  Combining the two sounds delicious!  :)



      Today was ‘dentist day’ for Maya.  A day that I always dread. 
      I have been taking her to the same pediatric dentist every 6 months since she was one year old.  Every appointment has been the same – she somewhat handles the ‘tooth tickler’ tooth polisher.. but completely melts down when the hygienist sprays water in her mouth and sucks it back out.  From that point forward, she is always a mess – tries to sit up, tries to clamp her mouth shut, cries, grabs for mommy..  it is ugly.   


      Her dentist is always awesome with her and calmly reminds her that she has never, ever hurt her.. and that she is only looking at her teeth, etc.   Dr. Autumn always gets the job done, but it is a wrenching experience for everyone. 
      So here we are today.. I am dreading the visit.  I am talking it up – how fun it is, how pretty her teeth will be, how it is never ‘hurty’.  Maya is being calm, but talks about how she hates the water spray and, even more so, the water ‘sucker’.  
      We drive to the dentist’s new facility – it is so much larger and brighter.. very nice step up!  We enter the main room for x-ray and cleaning, and see 6 ‘tables’ (the kids lay down flat on their backs rather than in a chair).. with 4 of them being used.  A couple of the kids are pretty young – probably 6 or 7 years old.  There are no parents in the room.  

      And.. Maya was AWESOME!!   
      She was quiet and nervous, but she made it through the x-ray with no problems.. and then she allowed her teeth to be cleaned – deciding she LIKED the water sprayer (after the hygienist allowed her to take drinks from it).. and she even did great with the water ‘sucker’!   She opened wide for the dentist and was very calm and smiley.  She was actually ecstatic when the dentist told her that one of her teeth is starting to be loose (not remotely wiggley yet, but will be at some point in the possibly-near-future)!
      At the end of the cleaning, Maya even suggested that I should go sit in the waiting room!!  (ok she not-so-politely said ‘Mom – go out of the room!’)    

      I seriously cannot express how excited I am about this milestone.  Truly a momentous day.  Sometimes you actually reach that light at the end of the tunnel – no matter how dim it looks some days!!


      I was so proud of Maya that I took her to Red Robin with me for an early dinner (Aj was home with Devi).   We were enjoying our meal while Maya was chatting away about various subjects (real and Maya-reality)… I was only ½-listening, as much of the conversation revolved around her bear and the fact that he wasn’t listening to her this morning and required a time-out.  

      Maya paused for a minute in her chatting, looked at me with her ‘I’m only 5, but I am acting like I am 25’ look.. and said, with her most grown-up lite and amicable conversational tone:  “So, did you used to want to buy a baby that wasn’t Indian?”


      Me:   “What did you say?”  

      Maya:  “Did you used to want to buy a baby that wasn’t Indian?”  

       Me:  “First of all, people do not ‘BUY’ babies.   We didn’t buy you or your sister.  We ADOPTED you.  Big difference.   Not about money.. there were lots of steps to find you and for you to find us.. and for us to become a family.”

      Me:  “And secondly, we chose to adopt children from India because Daddy is Indian and because we have always known that there are many, many girl babies in India who need families.”
      YIKES.  Ok that was completely unexpected and random.  She was satisfied with my answers.. she wasn’t looking concerned or anything.. merely curious.  Very interesting.  I wonder what spawned that question?  


      These type of mom-experiences probably are to explain the fact that I accidentally wore two different shoes the other day.   
      Yes, that’s right.. two different sneakers (at least they looked remotely similar.. remotely).  All day.  Took Devi to therapy and took off my shoes and put them back on without noticing.  Ran errands.  Picked kids up at school.   
      Two different shoes.
      I finally noticed late that afternoon.  Would you like to know what is truly sad about that experience?  

       I wasn’t even embarrassed.  


      And What A Year It Was


      Hard to believe, but we have bid adieu to the year 2010.  And what a year it was.  I began the year in a grief-stricken haze.. having lost my mother in late November of ’09, and then losing my beloved grandmother in early February of 2010.  The haze hung around for several months – slowly transforming into the dull ache of loss that is now, and forever will be, imprinted in my heart. 
      Somewhere outside of the haze, however, the earth continued revolving and life marched on. It’s a little disconcerting how that happens.  Your world is rocked and you feel like only a shell of the person you were not long before.. but you are forced to continue plodding forward.   
      Good thing I guess, or some of us would likely still be standing in one lonely spot.
      Well, life sure didn’t slow down for me.  Parenting 5 and 3 year old kids will keep you moving, whether you want to or not! 
      My girls are so very amazing, fantastically-entertaining, and full of orneriness.  Maya turned 5 and entered Kindergarten this year.  I can barely believe it.  She is learning so much – I am constantly amazed by the knowledge she is gaining in just kindergarten.  Crazy!
      Outside of the ‘3 R’s’, she seems to be excelling at a few extracurricular studies, such as: 
      • Slang Words 101
      • Finding Humor In Body Part Names and Excretions
      • The Power of Independent Thinking (aka: ‘It’s MY Choice!!’)
      • Beginning Drama
        • Including such important topics as: ‘He isn’t invited to my birthday party!’, ‘I will never be your friend!’, and ‘How to Properly Sing-Song The Words ‘Ha Ha HAAAAA’ While Contorting Your Neck, Hips, and Facial Features To Convey Complete Meaning’
      Yes, it has been quite a year of new experiences.  Maya is attending a new school, and has found a best friend and .. fiancĂ©? – Garrett.  I was told a few days ago that she and Garrett are going to live together someday, so they will be getting married.  I’m glad she is holding onto traditional values!
       Her major concerns have become – how to run as fast as Garrett (we bought new ‘fast’ shoes, but she still can’t catch him); how to get out of ever wearing a skirt or dress so that she can match Garrett (thankfully her school has uniforms, and I only require her to wear a skirt or dress one day per week – tho this day is always a nightmare, filled with tears and vehement negotiations); how to wear boy-clothing as much as possible (wants everything to be blue, wears boy coat, gloves, hat, backpack, etc.) 
      Maya, at 5 yrs old, is one of the slowest kids ever.  She walks so slowly into and out of school from carpool, that all of the carpool helpers know our car and rush to help her in the morning.  One of them recently told me that she doesn’t know how I deal with the slooooowness.  She prays for me.   
      I’ll take any help I can get!  ..though maybe she should be praying for Maya and her fast-shoes.
      Maya also spends much of her time in Maya-land.  She has a VERY active imagination and can be in a conversation with you and suddenly go off into Maya-land.  She walks around talking to her imaginery friends (who are actual friends in real world – such as Garrett and Raina, etc) quite often.  Reads them books, makes them food, hosts parties.  It is hilarious!  We are very happy she can entertain herself, but hope that she doesn’t get too lost in this world! 

      Maya’s Best of 2010:

      Color:  Anything and Everything Blue
      TV Show:  Caillou
      Movie:  Alvin & The Chipmunks (the original – NOT, god forbid, the sequel.. or ‘squeak-uel’ that they call it)
      Line:  ‘My tail isn’t bushy ‘til 9 am!’  (from Alvin.  For awhile her line was ‘Slam it, sexy!’.. which in actuality was ‘Clam it, Sudsy!’ .. she got the words a bit incorrect.. – again from Alvin movie.  That one was disconcerting and took me quite some time to decipher and pinpoint the origin!!)
      Amusing Anecdote:  I recently took Maya to see a rheumatoid specialist due to her constant knee and toe pains (turned out to simply be very loose joints and he recommended some PT to strengthen surrounding muscles).  He asked her several questions, which she answered very seriously.  This was my fav:
      Doctor:  When do you have pain? 
      Maya:  When it hurts.

      Food:  Chicken nuggets from Chik-Fil-A ONLY.  Noodles with sauce on the side.  Pretty much nothing that takes mom longer than 5 minutes to prepare (seriously, why do I try??)
      Drink:  Propel or vanilla shakes
      Ice Cream Flavor:  Vanilla or Peppermint .. or anything that Daddy is eating.
      Best Friends:  Garrett, Raina, Bear-Bear, Devi
      Future Occupation (in her words): Pediatric Neurosurgeon

      Devika is also doing well.  We are continuing to work with her Sensory Processing Disorder challenges, but she is making progress.  Her verbal skills are continuing to improve, which is helpful.   She is gaining some social skills, though this still needs work.  She is in an IEP program preschool, which I believe has helped her with these skills.  It is slow, but I’ve recently seen her actually say hello to a child at a playplace and ask the child’s name.  She also tried to play with a friend who was visiting our house recently – chasing her and calling her name.  Whoohoo!

      I have been worrying about her at school, though.  Her preschool class is ages 2 ½ - 5.. and she is absolutely the youngest (developmentally) child in the class.  The other kids sometimes make fun of her or make comments about her behavior.. I’ve heard this when picking her up from school.  While she is clueless right now, it still hurts my heart a bit to hear this.  Aj and I have actually made the decision, just tonight, to pull her out of school.  Our main reason is that her schedule is insane right now and too much for ME, much less a 3-yr old.  She is currently in school (2 1/2 hrs) on Mon/Tues/Thurs.. and in therapy (see next paragraph!) on Wed/Fri/Sat.  It's a bit extreme I think.. and I would like to see if she improves with a lesser schedule.  

      We are very blessed to live within travel distance of the Star Center in Denver, CO.  This center is a clinic that focuses solely on SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).  Devi began, a few weeks ago, a 10-week intense therapy regimen that we are very excited about.  The regimen also includes parent education (as well as requires one parent to take part in every therapy session – which are held 3x/week).  I cannot tell you how excited I am about this program!!  The Star Center is the only clinic of its type in the world – and people travel there from many different countries.   We saw a family last week who were staying here for 10 weeks – far from their home in Australia.

      In just our few weeks at the Star Center, I am extremely impressed.  Devi has had local gov’t funded occupational therapy for the past 1 ½ yrs, but it was far from the level of care she is now receiving at Star.  I’m not bashing the local care.. as obviously this is like the difference between a general practitioner MD and a cardiologist.  The Star Center was founded by the doctor who ‘discovered’ and began the research on SPD – approximately 30 years ago.  If you are interested in this topic at all, take a look at their website.  They have a vast array of information and resources given/listed/linked-to on their site.  It is very informative.  Again, I just cannot say enough about how lucky we are to be able to send Devi through their program!!  They have already seen things in her behavior and given us tips to help her that are/were entirely new to us.  Just today we had our first ‘parent education’ meeting and are armed with new strategies to work on at home.  Yay!

      Other updates about Devi..  she still has zillions of tantrums (tho we are learning how to work through them), is terrified of loud noises (tho she also seeks them out) and exhibits many unsafe behaviors – all which we are told are stemming from the SPD challenges.  I greatly appreciated her therapist telling us today that everything she has seen from Devika through her therapy sessions is directly attributed to SPD and not behavioral issues (other than the potty training, we aren’t sure what is going on with that fully yet).

      Of course, some of her behavior is attributed to the fact that she is 3 yrs old.  We completely understand this and aren’t blaming everything on a neurological problem!  God help all parents of 3-yr olds!!  Maya was horrid at 3 also.  That was when her hitting phase seemed to peak.  Criminy, I thought I would die of humiliation and frustration before THAT lovely phase ended.  Phew.  So I see light at the end of the tunnel.. and am very much looking forward to Devika’s 4th birthday (which will be in August.  Yikes.)   I can say that we are very, very lucky that Devi is a very happy child.  She does not act out in frustration/anger very often – she is always smiling and laughing.   Of course that is a double-edged sword in that she does not seem to understand consequences at all.. nothing phases her.. everything is funny.

      Devi’s physical health has been pretty good.  She eats well, but is still very lactose intolerant.  I have a future appmt made with a GI specialist at Children’s Hospital to evaluate this.. as well as the fact that she still is not gaining as much weight/growing as well as her pediatrician would like to see.  She’s still holding at about 20 lbs.  She HAS grown, however, so I’m not as paranoid about this issue as I was at this time last year.
      Other than that, Devika is a smart and very entertaining child!  She is absolutely adorable.  She has the cutest run lately – it is a cross between a run while kicking her legs up behind her, and a fast hip-swaying dance.   Hysterical!  She still loves to hug and kiss, and has taken up singing songs.  She still has that flat toddler-singing-tone, as well as her norm deep voice, so her singing voice is somewhat painful and extremely cute.

      Devika’s Best of 2010:

      Color:  Pink or Orange.  Not that she particularly LIKES these colors – but she still does not seem to have the ability to label colors and calls everything ‘pink’ or ‘orange’.  She knows all the color names, but she cannot tell you what color something is.  This color issue of hers is another thing that we will be examining through her Star Center therapy program.  No one is quite sure what is up with this.  Could she be color-blind?  She also has a vision appmt at Children’s Hospital next month.
      TV Show:  Caillou (lucky us, eh?  Eek)
      Movie:  Alvin and the Chipmunks (yes, you can see some Maya-idolism here, right? J)
      • Anything she can repeat after Maya.
      • “I LIKE STINKY CHEESE!  I LIKE STINKY CHEESE!” (don’t ask.. I only know that yes indeed.. she does enjoy eating stinky cheese)
      • She also has a ‘song’ (no words, just the tune) that she sometimes sings, which is a little bit appalling.. it is from Alvin & The Chipmunks and it strongly resembles music from a porn movie!!  This is the meaning behind it in the movie.. a little adult humor that my 3-yr old somehow grabbed hold of and can’t let go of.. argh!!
      • ‘Buttman’.  Devi will, often and without warning, suddenly stop what she is doing and sing ‘du du du du du du du du BUTTMAN!’.  Granted she is trying to say ‘Batman’.. but she cannot pronounce it correctly yet.   
      Food:  Chicken Nuggets, noodles with butter, grapes, or anything pureed that she can spread all over her body and hair while she eats. 
      Drink:  Propel (my dad has caused my girls to become propel-addicts!) or juice. 
      Best Friends:  Lovey (which is a turtle-shaped cloth book), Blankie, Maya
      Favorite Clothing:  Pajamas
      Future Occupation:  maybe a famous female soccer player?  The girl has got some amazing athletic talent!  Can’t wait to put her in soccer this summer.

      So that’s a little update on my babies! 

      Everything else in life is holding steady.  I am not having much time lately for photography, though I shoot a job here and there.  Aj changed jobs recently, and does not travel as much these days.  Because of this, I am working toward changing my photo career back to weddings-only.  I so need the artistic edge that you just can’t get when shooting kids and families.  I love, love artistic photography and I miss it.  Wedding photography also gives a nice ‘rush’ and feeling of accomplishment to me.. something I haven’t found anywhere else.  The photographer who trained me, back in Cincinnati, once told me that he likened the post-wedding-shoot ‘rush’ to be equal to that of a cocaine-rush.  As I have never dabbled in that level of recreational drug (I’ll stick with occasional vino and lots of caffeine!), I will take his word for it. 
      Whatever it is – I miss it.

      So there you have it I guess.  Farewell to 2010 and a look forward to 2011. 
      May this new year bring health and prosperity to all of you.. and to my family.  My siblings have dealt with some major illnesses, surgeries, etc lately – and we need to move on to a healthy year!  Oh, I guess that also includes me.. as I had knee surgery last month to repair some torn cartilage and damage caused by arthritis (how in the #%^# am I old enough to have arthritis damage??).  I am very excited to report that just this past week I have been able to go up and down stairs without major pain.. and am no longer limping!!  I had been in quite a bit of pain since the injury in mid-September.  My big goal for 2011 was to run again, and yesterday I ran (slowly) my first mile!! 
      Happy New Year!!