750 snacks and meals later…

I don’t know if it’s an Aria phase or a burnout after months of solo parenting. But she’s just being a picky eater lately. She’ll eat her berries and sweet potato mash and beet applesauce. She’ll eat yogurt and drink her milk. She craves aged sharp cheddar cheese. She’ll eat almond butter right out of the jar with a spoon. And she likes tofu. She really likes tofu. 

Sometimes she’ll eat her mini quiches. Sometimes she’ll eat her chicken and veggies. And yesterday I got her to eat quinoa brown rice by making it buffalo style with butter and hot sauce. 

But that’s kind of it. Over and over again. When she gets bored with it, more cheese and yogurt takes hold. 

Sometimes I think I’m just kidding myself that I’m doing right by her diet. 

Only want bread? 

Sure. But it’s going to be whole grain and fresh. No preservatives. 

Won’t eat breakfast today?

Fine. Have gmo free blue chips rich in magnesium, iron, and other minerals. Here’s some salsa. Dip it and I’ll pretend you ate your vegetables for the day. 

Only want yogurt? Don’t want your chicken and broccoli?

Fine. Have plain organic yogurt blended with mangos and kale. 


The problem with this is that I haven’t really pushed her to try sauces or chili or sandwiches or noodles or soups. Occasionally I’ll put those in front of her, but I’m not really making them for me. 

The best, or at least most diverse, meals I get are from grocery store buffets. 

Sigh. And if I want to rest, I’m more inclined to hand her the bread and cheese, let her fill up and go down filled and happy. 

But grandma is coming! And DH isn’t too far behind. 

Cause right now, after planning or providing 5 meals/snacks a day for almost six months, my creativity and willpower in meal making a food exposure is a bit tapped out… 750. That’s a lot of figuring out what to feed someone. 

Heavens. How many meals moms and pops must go through! I’m only getting started!!

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An essay on stress

Breathing in and out, this deep exhaustion. Source unknown. A sudden, deep, unexpected broken. Your body is amazing. It will do as you say. When one part is broken, it will commit any part or limb at its disposal to bridge the gap. But sometimes, it just keeps compensating until there is nowhere left to go but a cliff. 

Addison’s is a fascinating illness. Cortisol is what wakes and motivates you. It tells you to metabolize and tells your heart to raise and lower pressure in times of stress or emergency. It tells you to hold on to salt when the sun barrels down on you. It is the warrior at the gate, the defensive linebacker, the bodyguard. It’s not the hero on the front lines dripping sweat and blood to save the army in fight or flight — that’s adrenaline. 

I feel I know stress better now than I ever did before Addison’s destroyed my ability to make cortisol five years ago. Better than when I got a name for the tanning skin, nausea, fatigue, lightheadedness, urgent peeing, cloudy concentration, salt cravings, and unquenchable thirst that plagued me for a year before I got diagnosed. 

I feel the impact of stress on the body in such an unusual way. The sun stresses your body, you just may not notice the full effects, depending on how well your body compensates. Driving for an hour stresses your body. It compensates with cortisol. Emotions can turn to physical stress. So can not sleeping enough or drinking enough or taking time to meditate or rest your swirling thoughts. Starting a new workout. Changing your eating habits. Losing weight. Losing a loved one. Drinking coffee. Catching a cold. Getting rearended. Food poisoning. Dental surgery. Giving birth. 

I have to pay solid attention to what has a physical stress attached to it. I have to note if it’s a familiar stressor, a new and permanent one, or a temporary visitor. 

If I’m used to it, I take my regular dose of cortisol. If it’s new and permanent, like starting a new workout routine for the umpteenth time, I take a little extra cortisol the first couple times, and then my body says “Check! I’ve got this! I know what to do.” If it’s temporary, I take a little extra, or double, or triple, depending on how bad. 

The problem comes when I don’t acknowledge stress. If the new stress is subtle, but real, like the commute I added a year ago, it can creep up on me. Slowly, day by day, I start to feel a little sicker, like before I was diagnosed. It can feel like morning sickness or just fatigue and lightheadedness. My body may compensate by sending out Thor, God of adrenaline, or whatever else it can do. If I say keep going, it’ll keep going. It’ll just metabolize slower or lower my blood pressure or turn off some electrolyte management. I have no idea how it decides. 

If it goes too long, eventually that cliff comes and I’m out sick and calling my endocrinologist for blood work. 

If it’s a sudden thing, like whatever happened last week. Maybe food poisoning? I didn’t stress dose. Instead, my entire body slowed to a stop. I could barely think. It hurt to move or look at my phone or the tv. So I laid there, my body spending every ounce of cortisol I gave it on whatever virus or bug was plaguing my system, for 36 hours. All the symptoms of crisis were there, but it took me an hour and a half to conjure up the will and energy to look for my phone and call my parents to rescue me. Three emergency doses of cortisol later and I was human again. 

Someday I was to write a book about stress. We all live with it. We let it torture our system and weaken us silently from inside. Some people let it drive them to great things. Others let it drive them into the ground. Some people meditate to reduce their cortisol. Some people workout to expend it. 

But the better I become intimate friends with stress, the better I become my own defensive linebacker and read the game in front of me, the more likely I will be to survive. 

I’ll do my best Aria. I want to see your kids graduate from college after all. I want to be there to answer the phone as you achieve your dreams and face your sorrows. I want to be there to help like my dad and stepmom do when I really need them. 

Knives and imitation 

Couldn’t figure out why Aria was so upset as I was cutting up an apple in front of her. Had I destroyed it? I thought you wanted this?!? I gave her a fresh apple and she took it, but was still really upset. 

Oh. She wants the knife. Heck no!

Still upset. 

Hmm. 

Then I see the measuring spoon within reach. 

Super pleased, she takes it and begins “cutting up” her apple. 

Problem solved!

Finding the heart of life in a midnight stroller ride…

I just finished rolling Aria around the house a hundred or so times. My feet drummed the laminate and the wheels made their steady rumble. And Aria finally fell asleep. She might have been a month old in that moment. When we’re sick, we all revert back to infants in a way, even if we don’t show it.

Aria had woken up in the middle of the night after falling asleep, hot, feverish, damp with sweat in my arms. Her ravenous gnawing on my empty breasts told me she was more hungry than uncomfortable. A meal of yogurt and bread later was welcomed, but she remained restless and could not fall asleep in my arms. Her frustration was fierce as I walked her between my bed and hers. Finally she gestured down the stairs. I trundled down, thinking she must still be hungry. Instead, her royal majesty, Queen of the Suburbs, gestured to her chariot. 

I looked at the clock. One in the morning. 

Sure. Of course, m’lady. 

She looked impassive as I buckled her in, but it was clear that this was what she wanted. 

I moved furniture as I went, until a path was clear. 

Then around and around and around and around again. I tried at one point to take her out and incurred her royal wrath. 

A half hour later, my liege was out cold. 

I wheeled her backward up the stairs and waited for her to rustle in her chair. 

When she did, I lifted my little princess into my arms and leather curl up against my chest. 

I could’ve taken her to her crib at this point, but deep maternal instincts drove me to lay my feverish child beside me in my kingsize bed. 

All I want in the world is to nurse her in her sickness. I rescheduled all my meetings and rebuffed the idea from a co-worker yesterday of an app to find a babysitter specializing in sick kids. It seems all a part of the deepening maternal change in me. Moments like these seem less inconvenient and more at the heart of life itself. 

I say that now. We’ll see where I’m at in another 24 hours ­čśë

Anyway, really savoring being a mom these days. Two weeks of vacation being a mom 24-7 seemed to hook me. Nice to have a reset inside on what’s most important in life. Hmm. Maybe not even what’s most important, but on what brings the most joy. Who’s to say what’s most important? But spending time with my husband and daughter, in sickness and health — I can definitively say, that is the heart of it all. 


4am rolled around. After 45 minutes of trying to get comfortable, we’re back in the stroller again. At least this time I thought to get a picture! 


And asleep again…

I genuinely enjoy Aria’s company┬á

I neither conceived nor gave birth to a little girl, and yet here she is, laughing and playing, dashing and climbing, babbling stories and using sign language. Her smile is wide and playful. It makes you forget all your cares and want to just sit back and enjoy life. Her enjoyment is infectious. She laughs with delight when I invite her to nurse or show her a playground. She giggles at the game of dropping things and watching me try to catch them. She reaches for my hand to walk down the sidewalk, just because she wants to hold it. I really, truly, love her company. Only DH can really rival her, for many the same reasons, plus he’s a little more engaging in conversation. 

Just wanted to share. So happy to be a mom ­čÖé


The half brain I sacrificed at the altar of motherhood + synopses of dozens of posts I wish I had time and brainspace to write…

The posts I want to write are queueing up. Noticing after noticing slipping away in the scatterbrained reality of motherhood.

Someone told me once that toddlers demand their mother’s attention at least three times a minute on average. I write a sentence and my twenty seconds of thinking time is lost. Train of thought broken. Transcendent insight forsaken. 

You get so used to the disruption to your thinking that the anticipation of disruption is as disruptive to personal endeavors as the disruptions themselves.  

I feel shell shocked. Each sound thrumbs my nerves and I anticipate this post being lost with so many others. We’re like magnets. I feel pulled to her at all times. And she feels pulled to me. This intense, all-consuming, mammalian draw is her best chance at survival. 

Sometimes I feel like I’ve permanently lost my creative, reflective side — the side that will one day publish the two novels I, at present, can only dream of putting on paper. Then I go to work and remember that my brain’s not lost, just intently focused on feeding and protecting and navigating the evolving emotions of my baby girl. 

Here’s some posts I’ll hopefully get to finish some day:

  • Farewell Mommy Cow! The tumultuous end of breastfeeding. In the midst of possessive howls and titty twisters and precious moments of bonding in peaceful harmony while nursing, I resolved to break the strings. And failed. For now. 
  • First Words and the Vanity of Not Competing. My internal war with deliberately teaching vocabulary, knowing I can never compete with my lingually exceptional sister and her daughter who could say 150 words (or something like that) by 18 months. Complete with a short list of the words Aria uses. 
  • Silly Aria!” A playful story to go along with the oft repeated phrase at the bottom of my daughter’s notes from school. 
  • A day in the life. A collection of “tiny tidbits” from school depicting the carefree existence of a toddler, complete with incident notes about biting, being bitten, and getting bruised from lodging herself inside a shelf…
  • Friendship at 18 months. A collection of pictures illustrating the remarkable existence of preference in company that my daughter exudes. She is different around different babies. Laughter and jokes with Ethan. Delight and smiles and side-by-side, blissful play with Alina. Combative territory protector with Luca. Self-absorbed and serious, ignoring the other babies when with Carson or Caleb or Owen. She makes friends quickly wherever she goes, and will happily play alongside strangers, but gets annoyed by pestering. How will this all compare to when she is older?
  • Aware. A look at how aware Aria has become of space and people. She can see a rock on top of a deck and then swoop down the stairs and see it from another angle and point in recognition. She goes looking for dad in places she knows he’s been, going “Da da!”
  •  Anger. Since DH left, I’ve felt a brimming anger and resentment inside of me. As Aria has become a toddler and work went through a major transition and my commute worsened because I do drop off and pickup and I had no one to talk to or to give me a break. When resting time finally comes, it is late and the duties of work come crashing in. I resent those moments where I desperately want to rest and read or write and instead I am crawled on, my phone stolen, my hair and skin pulled, my arm bitten, and the second by second demands that make adult relaxation a distant memory for God only knows how long. Aria too is angriest in these moments where I do not want to spend time together and I want to spend time alone. The parallel anger distresses me and I try to bury it deep. Instead I come out verbally biting in moments when I should be more patient and serene. I must reign in the dark side of the force. Though only in occasional moments, fifteen minutes every few days, they are a blight on an otherwise happy life. Perhaps Rey can help bring me to the light. I just have to hold on to hope that I can be better. But will that come before or after I recoup some semblance of “me time” in my life?
  • The Beauty of Language and Learning. As a mother I get the remarkable gift of observing a child learn to understand language for the first time. As I learn French Pimsleur-style at the same time, designed to teach language in similar way to how children learn, I am delighted with a new understanding of learning. Pieces of words put together for new meaning or broken apart for different use, language is like a puzzle where the pieces change shapes depending on the picture you are creating. I try to see the same connections in Aria as I hear myself repeating, combining, and breaking apart words to communicate to her. And she understands. 
  • Wipe your nose! Yes folks, Aria has discovered her nose. Thanks to dawning comprehension, when the stray finger heads to her nostril to unearth gold, I can hand her a tissue and say “You’ve got boogies sweetie. Wipe your nose.” And she does! Then I discovered this week I could imitate blowing my nose, and she figured it out immediately. I mean how do you learn to blow your nose? You just do! Life is extraordinary!
  • Left Handed, Part 2. I’m really starting to think Aria really is left handed, but I’m guessing it’s not because I slept on my left side all through pregnancy! She just seems to have a lot of recessive traits – blue eyes, dimples, baby blonde hair. Still kinda early to tell. But there’s no arguing my little quarter Asian is wholly unique! 
  • Water Baby. Aria loves the water. Last week I got a note from school, “Aria couldn’t get enough of water play today. She was the only one…”
  • The meDoc Generation. Aria’s generation is unique in having their whole lives documented from pretty much conception. A dozen pictures and social media posts for even the most insignificant milestone. What impact will this have on our children and, ultimately, our culture and society?
  • Grandparents! I’ve been wanting to write a celebration of grandparents, especially the two lovely grandmas Aria has who are related by love and marriage, but not by lineage. She is lucky DH’s dad and mine both found tender women to be companions to them and grandparents to her. Though she bares my mother’s name, I hope she gets many years and memories with my step mother and DH’s. 
  • Happy Dol! Yep, that’s how far behind I am. A tribute to Aria’s aunt Cindi and the rockstar first birthday she orchestrated. This will be an edge-of-your seat tale of the toljiabee choosing ceremony where Aria picks from a buffet of gifts to tell her fortune. Will she be a warrior or a scholar? Have many children, much wealth, or a long life? Will she be good with her hands, perhaps an artist or a doctor, or enjoy a lifetime of good health? Find out… someday!
  • And so many more! I feel like I constantly have posts in my head. Perhaps it’s time to go for shorter, rather than longer musings and noticings!

Select pictures for these nonexistent posts:

Farewell Mommy Cow!



First Words

Silly Aria!


A day in the life



Friendship


Aware. 


Grandparents!

Happy Dol!