Wednesday, January 21, 2015

(34 Months) - 2 Years & 10 Months

34 months = 2 years and 10 months
This little lady loves to sing and dance. She's difficult to get to perform on command, but if she initiates, she certainly likes to put on a show. I wouldn't mind if she got some new material, though. I'm thinking "Home" a la Jorge and Alexa Navarez.

She wants to be "twins" with mama and daddy. Is very interested in things that are alike, particularly in the context of what we're wearing. "We both wearing boots, mama. My gloves like you. We twins."

She has an insatiable appetite for parental attention - "Hey mama. Hey mama. Hey mamadaddy. Hey mama. Hey daddy. Hey mamadaddy."

She regularly throws tantrums after nap. "I was cryin'. I just wakin' up," she'll explain later.

She's defiant - "NO!" In your face defiant. Holding your gaze defiant. Testing her mama defiant.

And bossy - "Come here. Sit here. Do this. Watch me."

She hits and she throws tantrums. But only with mama and daddy.

She's learning some emotional regulation techniques, such as 'taking a lap' to calm her body.

I like the way she calls granola "g'ola."

She has an insatiable appetite the past couple weeks. She must be growing.

She wakes up multiple times most nights. She sneaks into our bedroom all covert and stares at us creepy-style until we wake up and realize she's silently watching us. We then have to walk her back to her room and "fix my blanket" and she'll go right back to sleep. When questioned about the nightstalking, she sometimes says she just wants to make sure we're there. Sometimes she endorses being afraid of the dark. But more often then not she mentions something about "cows in my room."

She has an incredible sense of smell - particularly for food/drink of which she is not partaking in. See quotes below.

She's interested in dressing herself. But only if we're in a hurry.

There have been a few recent occasions of her purposefully peeing on the floor in her room. Usually when she's not getting what she wants. I'm crossing my fingers this isn't a sign of sociopathy.

She's definitely honing her negotiating skills.

We still would never describe her as "high energy," but she has what I like to describe as "micro energy" that I strongly associate with female qualities. She's not a kid who is running around pulling every toy out or knocking things off shelves or climbing up things she shouldn't. But she also doesn't like to be still and confined or told what to do. Rather, she's constantly busy in a smaller way, like picking up a baby, giving it pat-pats, changing its diaper, laying it down for a nap, talking with us, and doing this on repeat. All the while she wants us to pay her undivided attention. She never ever wants to be left alone to do her own thing, she wants us to bear witness to every singular move she makes. She is exhausting in the way that requires insatiable attention, constant bargaining, lots of teaching/explaining, and very few independent play breaks. She's not physically exhausting, she's socially-emotionally exhausting. She's a "good kid," without a doubt, and will likely to very very well in the school setting. She knows to save all her naughty behavior for home :)

On the other hand, she is SO sweet and caring. She can put all the manipulative toddler bullshit behind her with the drop of a hat if a situation demands she be kind. As in, if she were being a little beeatch and not listening and then I were to slice my finger on a knife or something, she would immediately go into nurse mode, wanting to get a tissue and bandaid, give kisses, etc. She's definitely got the caregiver traits (that skipped a generation in my family). I'm told she's this way at school, too, concerned about the kids who are crying or in trouble, offering toys to make them feel better.

As for me, I'm fully aware that I was a far better baby-mama than toddler-mama to this Bean. Part of it is rooted in whatever is going on with me these days, but part of it is the need for constant attention is so.draining. It often leaves me with a feeling of "I just can't do anything to satisfy her." We are our best mother-daughter combo if we are out and about, and regularly hit up coffee shops, the Children's Museum, and errands (I'm embarassed to admit that the Bean loves Target). On the days I'm able to practice what I've come to call "mindful mothering," where I have the emotional resources to minimize expectations, go with the flow, and just be present in the moment, we have much smoother seeming days.

And they say 3 is harder ...

Quotable Quotes:

Francie: "Cashews are like teeter-totters."
Mama: "Why?"
F: "Because they bounce."

Holding my head/neck against her chest when putting her down for a nap:
"I'm going to lock you"

She's got a nose for what other people are eating or drinking ...
"You smell funny. You smell like g'ola. No, chocolate"

Francie: "What you eatin' mama?
Me: "Nothing."
F: "I smell something on you."
M: "I just ate some banana ... and chocolate."

Francie: "Daddy? You was in the basement?
Alex: "Yeah I was. Why do you ask?"
F: "You smell like you was in the basement. What you doin' down der?"

Pointing to her face:
"I have a little zit. That makes me a mommy."

Me: "You wake up really early, don't you?!?"
Francie, smiling: "Yeah, I want some 'ttention."

"Look at me, mommy, watch me, mommy!"

While eating a granola bar:
"Usually chocolate is for grown-ups. But just a little is okay. If we eat too much it makes our bodies feel bad. But just a little makes our bodies feel good."

"I like the noise of rain."

Alex: "You know you're my favorite person in the whole world."
Francie: "Yeah."
Alex: "You know that?"
Francie: "Yeah."
Alex: "Who's your favorite person?"
Francie: "Mama."

Beebee: "Shall we go to the park?"
Francie: "No. Let's stay here and eat."

"Mom, I've got a poop on board."

Francie: "Why you so sad?"
Mama: "Because I don't know what I want in this life."
F: "But you do."
M: "I'm not sure if I want to be married. Or that I'm good as a mama."
F: "But you are married. You are mama."

She's still learning the fine art of compliments:
Me, coming downstairs in my running clothes.
Francie: "Mama, you look sexy."
Me: "Haha, thanks."
Francie, then patting my stomach: "Mama, that look like your baby."

Overheard while getting ready in the morning:
Alex: "Francie, you can touch my butt if you want but please don't close the door to do it."


She's obsessed with all things "pregnick" and babies. It's still unclear whether she wants me to grow her a baby brother or sister, or whether she wants to just jump on that bandwagon herself.

Papa, Daddy, Bean and Mimi in Forest Park.

The Closemans. 'Stache and all.

Petting zoo at The Grotto. She was afraid but obsessed with the goats, donkey, mini horse, and alpacas.

With Beebee going to listen to carols at The Grotto.

Toddler style.

Gus visited for New Year's.
"I cuddle my baby. Big baby's sleepin'."
The many faces of Daddy.

"We in a forest!"

First tramp stamp.

Mama love.

Another "forest" (aka fort).

Brewing beer.

Daddy date at the zoo.

Beebee and the Bean.

 More beer lessons.

She spent one afternoon with her daddy supervising the WLHS weight room. I hear she was a hit with all the teen boys.

Monday, January 19, 2015

(Forks Over Knives) - Week #2+

While it is technically within the parameters of "plant-based eating," I'm not sure how much the F/K docs would approve of our not one but two dinners of popcorn and smoothies.

Energy Level = 5
Sleep Quality =  6
Exercise = 4
Time Management = 7
Adherence to F/K Plan = 4
Ease of F/K Plan = 5
Participation in Cooking = 7
Joy of Cooking = 5
Joy from Food = 4
Self Image = 5
"Life Snapshot" = 6
Comments: "I don't feel any different. I don't feel any better or any worse."

Energy Level =  4
Sleep Quality =  6
Exercise = 2
Time Management = 7
Adherence to F/K Plan = 6 
Ease of F/K Plan =  6
Participation in Cooking = 6
Joy of Cooking = 4
Joy from Food = 5
Self Image = 5
"Life Snapshot" = 4 
Comments: I tend to focus on the ways in which I did NOT follow the F/K plan, even though I technically don't feel that rigid about it. We ate out last week so Alex could have a burger, and there was feta cheese on my hummus plate. I was at a conference for two days last week and ate whatever they provided, which included cream in my coffee, roast beef and cheese slices (both of which were terrible), cheese on a bowl, diet soda, Snickers bites at the movie theater, etc. Today when I desperately wanted a latte they were out of soy milk. We've been using more than "minimal" oil in our cooking, but at least think twice about it, and tend to default to coconut oil, if that is really any better. So I definitely followed the plan less closely than the previous week or so, but not out of cravings or desperation or anything. I still feel like we aren't eating enough veggies, particularly green veggies, and always default to some element of a carb and a protein/fat (nuts, avocado, etc). Also, my skin feels TERRIBLE, whether it's related to recent uptake of soy milk, stress levels, or just plain hormones, I don't know. Also, I haven't exercised very much in the past week, and that always takes a toll on my overall "snap shot" of life. In general, I've been in a serious funk on and off the past several months, and particularly this last week, and I'm sure some part of this effort to overhaul the diet is to see what factors do and do not contribute to my overall wellbeing. Also, I'm still buying/drinking daily lattes with some kind of milk "alternative," ingesting regular dark chocolate (dairy free), and hoarding dried mangoes.

In providing today's ratings and comments, it appears that we forgot we had a fabulous pizza dinner one night, and thoroughly enjoyed our popcorn + smoothie dinners ...

We learned about this salad "recipe" from the Engine-something movie - it's just kale (we buy the pre-washed bag salad because I'm lazy), avocado, and juice from a lemon, mixed all together with your hands to make the avocado more of a creamy dressing consistency.

Here's the recipe for the pizza pictured below, which we actually loved. And not in a "it's okay for vegan" way, but in an all-around way.

Artichoke with tofu, sundried tomato, onion, and kalamata olive pizza.

Today's breakfast - tasted good, but didn't seem to satiate us for long this morning. We ended up at a cafe on our walk to the Village today (where Alex ate a monte cristo sandwich, for the record).

We just bought a polenta load from Trader Joe's and used frozen blueberries.

Monday, January 12, 2015

(Bucket List) - Shooting Guns

Last week my dad took Alex, the Bean and me to his "gun club" in Sherwood to shoot. Apparenly it only costs an old man somewhere in the ballpark of $100 for a yearly membership. I think we were the only car there without an NRA or veteran or Bush sticker on our car. According to Dad, I've shot a gun before, sometime when I was in early grade school and we lived in California. I have no recollection of such an event. So it has remained on my Bucket List as not having been completed. Until recently.

It was fun, sure, for the novelty of it all. But it was also damn cold outside. Reynaud's disease does me no favors. And we had a toddler with us. And guns are just scary. The liberal in me was anxious and conflicted about the event. My dad taught me how to load the bullet, aim at the target, and I admit to being pretty damned satisfied when I hit that tiny little metal piggie and knocked it onto the ground. But it was kind of like gambling - once I "won," I was done. Quit while you're ahead, I say.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

(Forks Over Knives) - Week #1

We've made it more than a week now on this "plant-based" vegan diet, and it's going more or less well, although we've eaten few dinners that have been truly yummy. I've barely "cheated" - I did use about a tablespoon of cow's milk in my coffee yesterday when the rice milk was all gone, and I did eat some kind of a Kind granola bar that likely had some milk product in the chocolate drizzle. And while it's certainly not "cheating," I have been indulging in daily dark chocolate (no milk) and am currently addicted to the "no sulfur, no sugar added" dried mangos from Trader Joe's. I do indeed miss my daily iced lattes with 2% milk, so this week has been an experimentation in how to best get my caffeine. I have added more tea to my daily regimen, and have been somewhat satisfied by soy milk lattes or coconut milk mochas. At home I've been drinking the Toddy cold-pressed coffee with rice milk and honey. For breakfast I've been eating homemade granola from a recipe in the F/K book with rice or almond milk, or toast with peanut butter, or maybe steel cut oatmeal with blueberries. For lunch I've brought leftovers or eaten pita and veggies with hummus. For snacks I've eaten my go-to favorite, apple with peanut butter, or some nuts or dried fruit. For dinner we've made: whole wheat pasta with sweet potato sauce (a "mac and cheese" of sorts, which sucked); a BBQ bean cornbread dish (which mostly sucked); my dad made a bulgar wheat and veggie stiryfry (actually good); white bean spread with veggies and pita (bland spread, store-bought hummus is better); and my dad made a vegan cassoulet last night, which was decent. We recently watched the Engine 2 documentary on Netflix, which was informative in terms of actual meal ideas and how to grocery shop. This next week I think we might try to eat more Asian-style foods, which are naturally vegan, and try roasting some veggies on the new BBQ to make pizza.

As for the numbers - if I was a good data keeper, I would have kept track of our ratings for several weeks before starting the F/K, so we could better see what our general trends are. But anyway, here's a snapshot after Week #1.

Energy Level = 7
Sleep Quality =  4
Exercise = 4
Time Management = 7
Adherence to F/K Plan = 9
Ease of F/K Plan = 5
Participation in Cooking = 6
Joy of Cooking = 5
Joy from Food = 2
Self Image = 1
"Life Snapshot" = 5
Comments: fat and bloated, aka "gassy as a mother fucker"; difficulty managing blood sugar; food isn't bad, but isn't good either; bored of talking about food too much

Energy Level =  7
Sleep Quality =  7
Exercise = 7
Time Management = 7
Adherence to F/K Plan = 9.5
Ease of F/K Plan =  5
Participation in Cooking = 5
Joy of Cooking = 5
Joy from Food = 5
Self Image = 6
"Life Snapshot" =  7

Comments: I've been good about exercising this week; I have been able to employ some "mindfulness" in my parenthood this week; I appreciate having to think about what food I'm going to put in my body, and not feeling very tempted by what I'm not eating; I could be better about my sugar intake, but am not willing to sacrifice honey or agave or sugar in dried fruit at this point; I'm motivated to keep eating this way, even without any immediate results, if nothing other than just restructuring some of our eating habits at home

Thursday, January 1, 2015

(New Year's Resolutions) - Plant-Based Eating

I'm big on resolutions. Nearly every day I resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, floss daily, spend less money, not watch tv, use my phone less, return my brother's calls, write more/better, meditate daily, stop picking my face, put away my laundry. You get the picture. So naturally I'm a big fan of making New Year's Resolutions.

For a bit now Alex and I have talked about wanting to "go vegan" again for a month, and I saw that Forks Over Knives came out with a new book about how to transition to a plant-based diet, and with a bunch of recipes. I bought it. When we first did this a couple years ago, Alex reported feeling a whole lot better eliminating meat and dairy and processed foods in general, and while I felt good about our improved diets, I didn't necessarily notice any physiological changes. But this time, while of course I'd love to lose a few pounds, I'm really curious about whether or not I can alter how my taste buds interpret flavor. That's one of those things I always read about, that people who give up fake sweetener eventually find that an orange tastes better to them than it did before. People who eat plant-based diets often report that vegetables taste better, they feel more satiated by the foods, and their "cravings" disappear. We've long been aware that our consumption of milk, cheese and yogurts is out of balance, so January 2015 seems as good of a time as any to transition back to healthier, plant-based eating.

One of the things I like to do, both as a clinician and in my own life, is to collect subjective data as a sort of "snapshot" when making any kind of changes. I like to know if I actually feel like new habits make a difference to how I feel overall. So every so often this month I'm going to make Alex and myself do a quick check-in, rating on a 1-10 scale (10=high) about the following areas:

Energy Level = 4
Sleep Quality =  7
Exercise = 1
Time Management = 7
Adherence to F/K Plan = 0
Ease of F/K Plan = n/a
Participation in Cooking = 7
Joy of Cooking = 6
Joy from Food = 6
Self Image = 5
"Life Snapshot" = 8

Energy Level = 4 (feel more fatigued than I should, parenting from the couch)
Sleep Quality = 7 (sleep well, but rarely feel rested)
Exercise = 5 (enough on the elliptical to keep my heart healthy, but not enough to be fit)
Time Management = 7 (poor time management is related to laziness and avoidance)
Adherence to F/K Plan = 0 (consume a ton of dairy, dependent on lattes, prefer bars and convenience food, lazy about cooking)
Ease of F/K Plan = n/a
Participation in Cooking = 2 (I occasionally make something in the crockpot)
Joy of Cooking = 2 (every so often I get on a baking kick)
Joy from Food = 5 (I eat because I'm supposed to, but I mostly enjoy junk food)
Self Image = 5 (I'm not exactly a fat-ass, and I feel healthy enough for the dr., but feel overly soft and flabby and un-athletic; I would like to feel fit and strong)
"Life Snapshot" = 5 (could be worse, could be better)

Nerd alert, I know.

But the thing is, if I see progressive improvements in these areas, and I can track it to the numbers week by week, than I am more likely to be sold on making more permanent changes. I'm a tough crowd or behavioral change, even though a lot of my profession requires me to inspire and teach certain kinds of cognitive-behavioral changes in others.

I also know that whenever Alex and I resolve to do something new (e.g. write daily in November, complete a 30-day yoga challenge, meditate nightly, financial overhauls, etc.), we usually quit around the two-week mark. I'm telling myself right now that NO MATTER WHAT, we can't officially "quit" our attempts at a plant-based diet. It's okay if we stumble and fall, but we have to get back up on the horse - or the potato, so to speak - and finish out the month. This is me, writing that here in order to increase my chances of being accountable to myself. So this month it's all fruits, veggies, grains and nuts/seeds. I'm most concerned about how to handle my iced 2% latte addiction ...

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