Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sugar and Spice


This is Lucia. She is four years old, and she is trying to hypnotize you with her smile. So that you will do her bidding. Is it working? Because she is pretty sure she can get you to do whatever she wants, using that look.

When I found out (4 years ago!) that I was pregnant with a baby girl, I was pretty stoked. Girls are oh-so-cute! And they are, you know, girly. They smell good, like cupcakes. I would get to watch episodes of Rainbow Brite again! And have someone to share my Anne of Green Gables passion with. We would travel to Prince Edwards Island on a mother/daughter trip! Except that I forgot that little girls are also dramatic. And they stare at you with tear-filled eyes when you speak to them in a slightly raised voice. That they carry, at minimum, 37 stuffed animals with them at all times. That all said stuffed animals have names, and are related to each other in some way, so that you can never, ever donate them to the Goodwill. That they find your stash of hidden dark chocolate, and wonder why you are not sharing? Since sharing is caring?

 The above picture is the face she makes when she is "a little bit sad". She express this sentiment whenever she feels slighted or her feelings have been injured in some way. That day she she felt "a little bit sad, Mommy" because she realized that she did want to take swimming lessons after all. Even though, moments earlier, she had been terrified at the very notion. Her expression makes me want to laugh and hold her at the same time. I know her feelings are genuine (I think) but the look on her face are almost cartoon-sad.  She is so epically sad, and you want to make it all better, but at the same time you need to make sure that she understands that everything does not revolve around her feelings. It's a fine balance. 
Lucia has the amazing ability to fill me with joy, and yet at the same time, fill me with guilt. At school, during career day, while all the other kids wrote down that they wanted to be a nurse, fireman, teacher etc., my daughter wrote "I WANT TO BE A MOMMY WHO DOES NOT WORK, AND STAYS HOME WITH HER DAUGHTER". When I arrived to pick her up, her teacher pulled me aside to apologize. She explained that they tried to change her mind, but that she wouldn't budge. I found it funny and appalling at the same time. Which is how I tend to feel whenever either of my children express an opinion.
 Lucia is my favorite little girl on the planet. She is incredibly funny. Has the best memory ever. Don't ever promise her something that you can't deliver. She will never, ever forget. She also has an amazing sense of style and fashion. Which, if you know me at all, will make you wonder where she got it from. Do your shoes not really go with your outfit? She will go into your closet and find you ones that do. She asked me once to put my hair up, because it looked better with the dress I was wearing. And she was right. I had several people comment on how nice my hair looked like that day. And I had to credit a 4 year old. She likes watching me put on makeup, and whenever I ask her is she wants to try some, will retort that she is "only a little girl!" in a very shocked voice. Her dad likes that about her. Her favorite personality trait? "I like being funny. I like it when people think I am funny." That she got from me. She enjoys a funny story. She likes a good punchline. 
 I can't believe how quickly time has flown. If she ever really knew how very much I love her, and that I would do anything for her, it would be very dangerous. She would totally use it against me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

At This Age










I am sitting in the waiting room at the hospital. I just left my son in a very large and intimidating operating room. He was lying on bed, with a mask on his face, surrounded by people in scrubs. He looked very small. As I walked away, tears running down my face, I was reminded about our conversation yesterday in the car. You see, today was CLOWN DAY at Gideon's school. Yes, you read that correctly. Clown Day. Apparently, his school won something and clowns were coming to teach class to give some kind of lesson. Gideon was terrified. Honestly, if he hadn't had this procedure scheduled, I might have let him stay home. Now, most people know about my intense dislike of clowns, and unfortunately, Gideon has inherited that. He explained to us that although he went to the circus last year, and enjoyed the clowns, AT THIS AGE, he is now afraid of them. He said those words: "At this age". Because last year he was just a naive youngster, not knowing any better about what lies beneath the makeup. But now, he knows better, and AT THIS AGE, he is afraid of clowns. I wish I could reassure him, but I cannot. I understand his fear. I once saw a clown driving a car on the GSP, and almost had an accident.

Another thing Gideon has inherited from his mom, is anxiety. He was diagnosed this year with an anxiety disorder, and I blame myself. I am riddled with the stuff. As I sit here typing, my stomach churns. I feel nauseous, and my heart is about to beat out of chest. I am typing just so that my hands stop shaking. I know deep down that Gideon is going to be fine. This is just dental surgery, and he has been under anesthesia before. yet, the dentist said a 1 hour to 2. And it is now 1 1/2 hours. So, it is past the 1 hour mark. Why is it taking so long? Why do I see other parents and family leave the waiting room, and I am being left behind? I would pay for a few clowns to come and do a dance right now. Clowns Shmlowns.

One of the main reasons behind all this anxiety is lack of control. I am useless. I can't help. I can't make it better. I am not in charge. Being helpless makes me afraid. Yet, I have been told to not be afraid. Commanded to, actually. Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." So, geez. How can I not be afraid? I am totally dismayed right now. It seems unreasonable that I give that up. Do I just sit here, all peaceful and calm, knowing full well that my son will be well protected, because God will always be with him wherever he goes? Yes, yes, and again yes. Psalm 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" . My own understanding totally stinks. My own understanding is afraid of grown people who wear too much makeup and entertain children. So, AT THIS AGE,  I have to wake up and let go. I need to able to teach my son about trusting God. So, at this age, I can be a woman who is at peace with herself and her life. Who, despite all the anxiety life throws at me, I can simply lean on my God, and trust that it will end the way it needs to end. This doesn't mean, of course, that I will be visiting a circus anytime soon. At this age, I know better than that :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chubby inquiries and more

A little late for this post, but better late than never. Here it goes.

Week #2 (January 8 - 14, 2013)
  • Brotherly love. He may not remember our days much growing up in Jersey City. But I can recall all the times he's either backed me up or defended me from street thugs or bullies when I was a skinny, little, snot-nosed kid. My big brother and I have been through a lot. I'm thankful God has given him another year of life. And to many more!
  • Nice day for a walk. Because of the mild weather, I was able to walk a little more. Admittedly, one of the reasons I chose to walk was because I couldn't drive the car. Late last year, I noticed one of the new tires had a nail in it. The tire was flat for several weeks because I wasn't able to fix it myself. But, this gave me an opportunity to bond with my son as we walked from school to home. We talked about a lot, from topics related to his school performance to the subject of why I was so chubby. Since then, I was able to take the car to the shop to get the tire repaired. But Gideon's "chubby inquiries" kept the car in the driveway during nice weather.
  • Thanks for taxes. No, I'm not thankful for taxes and smaller pay checks. Who is, right? But, while the expiration of the payroll tax holiday is cutting into my take income, I still have a job (or two). And, my wife is working too. So, why complain?

Friday, January 11, 2013

No new resolution zone

2013. Happy new year!

I didn't make any resolutions this year. Maybe it's because when I searched within myself to find out what a new calendar year means to me, I reminisced about 2012. And, I was reminded of the following passage in Ecclesiastes: "So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety?"

Good question I thought. All my hard work in 2012 and years prior had to be worth something, right? Then, I read the answer in the following verse, "Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless."

Depressing right? That wasn't the answer I wanted. But yes, it can be depressing. Especially if a life challenge just finished beating you down. And, I got beat up heavily in 2012, especially from a business standpoint.

I mean, I know there is a point to working hard in life. There are goals to set. There are people to love and care for. There are contributions you can make to improve society. And, that's what the author of Ecclesiastes was trying to tell us by saying just the opposite.

"All is meaningless under the sun." It doesn't mean quit. It means being thankful for what you have. And, it also talks about stress and worrying TOO much to get to a place in life that takes you away from your true purpose.

Simply put. PICK YOURSELF UP! ENJOY LIFE!

And, you know what else? Take it all in stride. It's easier said than done, I know. How about we start by being thankful?

So this year, instead of a resolution, I decided to refocus on "thankfulness." Not just this year, but hopefully for years to come. It's not a resolution, it's a lifestyle.

My aim is to highlight three things I'm thankful for every week. So here it goes.


Week #1 (January 1 - 8, 2013)

  • Date with Lincoln: Alexa and I went to see "Lincoln." I enjoy history, especially in relation to today's politics. When I saw the previews last year, I made a note to myself: GO SEE LINCOLN! The time escaped us in 2012. But when the opportunity came last Saturday, we turned it into a date afternoon.
  • Comfy Christmas Gifts: I enjoyed all the presents I received from family. They were great! But, I enjoyed giving more. I'm thankful I was able to share in the gift-giving. But that was 2012. In 2013, I get to use my gifts. And by far, one of the most used are the 2 pairs of comfy, warm home slippers my brother gave me. I wear one or the other (not both) every day.
  • Impromptu Friend Visit: If you have toddlers, you know it's hard to get away and spend grown up time with friends. I'm thankful for my sister who had a sleepover with all her nephews and nieces (Gideon and Lucia make up 50% of that group). This allowed Alexa and I to party all night - or at least past our usual bedtimes. We visited friends in Jersey City, my hometown. While Alexa and I spent most of our time talking about the kids, our friends (who don't have kids of their own yet) seemed to enjoy hearing our stories. Hopefully, we didn't scare them. Next time we promised to talk more about other stuff, like God, politics, and music.

Hope to see you next week!

Alex



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Standing on a Promise

It has been over a year since I have posted anything. Life has a way of taking over, and blogging becomes a very long and distant pastime. Facebook has also played a large factor, since I can now share stories and photos with my family through that, and I don't have to really think that much. Blogging is definitely harder.

However, I find myself sitting at my laptop today and thinking about the past year. I am generally content with my life. I am not the type of person who requires new "things" to be happy. I don't need vacations, or new clothes, or new technology. As long as I get to spend time with my husband and my children, my parents and my sister, I am happy. Yet, this year has been hard. Mostly financially hard. Alex lost his biggest resume contract in the spring. Which amounted to him losing his job. Which meant we went through any savings we had pretty quickly. We went back to living paycheck to paycheck. Our house payments started to get paid late. Minimum payments on most of our bills. We got rid of any non-essential part of our life. We started borrowing money from our parents. It really really sucked.

Yet...we are Christians. We believe in a Provider. There are promises that God has made. We believe in those promises.  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19. So, I am not that worried. I do not feel that our situation is hopeless, for we believe in the King of Hope. There are some who believe that if you are going through financial trouble as a Christian, then you are doing something wrong. You do not have enough faith, you aren't tithing enough, you have upset God in some way and this is your punishment. But nothing can separate us from the love of God, right? So if God still loves us, (which He totally does) then why are going through this? A test of faith perhaps? I am not sure.

But I digress. There is a point to all this blathering. His name is Gideon Juan Soto. And I love him so. Gideon is a great kid. He is sweet and funny and smart. He loves his sister so much, and he is really proud of her, and introduces her to people all the time. My son has some issues. Issues that haven't been diagnosed yet (not officially). They are mostly behavioral and social. He has trouble at school when it comes to transitions, schedules, changes and peers. He hates it when he is unable to control his surroundings. He cries and whines. Sometimes he drives me crazy. He also has an issue with his mouth. Toothbrushing used to be very difficult and flossing was out of the question. The last time we went to the dentist, he threw up all over the poor guy. It was a nightmare. A few months ago, he started complaining that one of his bottom teeth was hurting. I started to panic. How could we do this dentist thing again? Thankfully, I was able to find a pediatric dentist who specialized in treating children with autism. Now, Gideon is not autistic, but I figured if she could treat autistic children, Gideon would be a piece of cake! 

And it was! Not exactly a piece of cake, since we had to book a double appointment. It took almost 2 hours for him to get his teeth cleaned. The dentist took extra care to show him all the instruments, allowing him to touch them and even put them in his mouth himself. She would give him a sticker each time he let her go in his mouth. She would stop every time he tried to get out of the chair, and she would talk him back. All of this took a very long time, and it was time our insurance did not cover. But all in all, a success dentist visit. No throwing up, very little crying, and he was left with a good feeling about the dentist. However, there was bad news. The pain he was feeling was an abscessed tooth. Among other things. He would need to either get the tooth removed or something else which I don't remember. He also has cavities that need to be taken care of. 

The dentist felt positive that Gideon would need an anesthesiologist present when she did the work, since he would need to be completely out. It would need to take place in the OR at Hackensack, or in her office with the anesthesiologist present. Both options were expensive. Both options needed money UP FRONT. Before the procedure could take place. This wasn't a case of them billing me, and paying them in payments. This became a case of no one doing the work until they were paid. Yikes. The anesthesiologist actually brings a credit card machine with him to the dentist's office. He swipes your card before he starts to work. What in tarnation? I had never heard of such a thing. Normally, I would try for a different dentist. Someone that might work with me, payment-wise. But Gideon really likes her. He felt comfortable with her and actually was ok at the dentist. This never happens. So, I made the decision to try to find the money somehow. Except, haven't you heard? It doesn't grow on trees. I haven't even made the appointment yet, because I am little bit scared to.

We estimated how much everything would cost. They couldn't give me a definitive number, because Gideon had not been able to tolerate the x-rays, so she didn't know exactly what she was dealing with. So, we had a ballpark. A Yankee stadium ballpark. A number I knew we couldn't borrow. So, I took my pride and put it under my bed. I took all thoughts of shame and embarrassment and threw them out the window. Because I wasn't asking for myself. I was asking on behalf of my son. As a mom, sometimes pride is the last thing you think about. Your kids come first, and you start not caring what everyone else thinks. I didn't need people's approval; I needed my son to be able to chew normally again. Starting that Give Forward account was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Posting it on Facebook made me nauseous. It goes against my very nature to ask anyone for help, let alone actual (gasp!) money. I know that there are people out there that do not approve. That I should just wait for God to provide us with the money in a supernatural way. And I do still believe that! But I also believe that God can use people who feel led to donate. So, I started that donation account in faith. I was told by someone close to me, "Don't get your hopes up. People don't care anymore." But I refuse to believe that! I know that we have people who love us and who love our son. And even if they were unable to give, that maybe they would tell their friends or share it with their church. I have decided to stand on God's promise, and know that he will take care of us.

So here is the link. Even as I share it here and share our story, I pray that my faith continues to increase, and that God blesses each and every one of you.

http://www.giveforward.com/gideonssmilefund


href
="http://www.giveforward.com" target="_blank" style="color:#4577B3;font-size:12px">Medical Fundraising Made Simple

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tiger, Tiger, Roar! Part 1

Our son, Gideon, turned 5 years old today. We would normally have thrown him a birthday party, and invited his friends from school. But parties can get expensive, and this year Gideon really, really wanted to go to the zoo. To see tigers. And, I didn't know this, but the zoo is really expensive too. So, we had him choose! We let a five year old choose! And, surprisingly, he chose the zoo. He chose tigers. Over his friends. Nice. Hi-five, Gideon.

We decided to go the Bronx Zoo. We verified that there were tigers, and booked our tickets using the Optimum Online discount. I took the day off from work, and Alex put work on hold until later that day. It was an exciting morning. Gideon woke up early, so completely aware of the day and the importance of it. It was the first year that he totally got it. This was a big deal; he was five today! There was going to be a trip to the zoo! He would see tigers! And later, (later!) there would be cake and presents. It would be the best day ever. I read him a Happy Birthday text message from his Aunt Shelley, and he jumped up and down on my bed in total joy. It was pretty awesome. And did I mention the tigers? He was going to see tigers!

The entrance to the Bronx Zoo.

Father and Son.

My darling Lucia, feeling a little left out from all the Gideon birthday celebrating.

Their first stop. Ducks. Of all things.

A sleeping bear. We saw him later that day, and he was dancing.

Now, we weren't there to see ducks or bears (oh my!). We were there for the whole tiger experience. They have at the Bronx Zoo an exhibit called Tiger Mountain. This was our goal. It was quite a walk, and we hadn't brought a stroller or rented one. My mom was with us, and although a really good sport, sometimes suffers from some pain when she walks too much. So, by the time we arrived to Tiger Mountain our expectations were high. We were there to see some tigers! Imagine our disappointment when we entered and saw a lone tiger, asleep at the top of the hill. There was a crowd of people at the glass, waiting to see action from the tiger. He just lay on his side and blinked.

And then Gideon approached the glass. He stood there and touched the glass, and looked at the tiger. Suddenly, the tiger stood up. He started down the hill, and walked in a straight line, right toward Gideon. It was almost menacing, and Alex and I were a bit startled. My mom let out a silent shriek, and we all moved in to be closer to Gideon. The tiger approached him, and Gideon reached out. The tiger walked by, and then returned to his hill. It was all surreal, as if the tiger had been waiting for him.

I almost didn't get this shot, since we were all feeling flummoxed.

Gideon wanted to take him home.

It looks like the tiger wants a bite of his head.

Until we meet again.

Stay tuned, there are more zoo posts to come...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Following Photographs Brought
To You By An Almost-Five Year Old

His Mommy's Arm (comfy like pillow)

His daddy and his fajitas.

His Cutie Sister

She likes being the subject of his photographs.

And then becomes inexplicably exhausted.

His Daddy and His Sister.

His Feets. (We call them feets)

Just chillaxin'

Lucia decided to try her hand at this photography thing.
Gideon's First Performance (and maybe last)

This post is super old, since I meant to post it in June. Some of Gideon's classmates graduated from Preschool in June, and Gideon had been non-stop practicing for his "debut". The song of choice was 'God Bless America'. We heard it in the morning, and in the noontime, and during bathtime. He sang it in his sleep, and even Lucia memorized it.

Of course, on the big day, Gideon woke up not feeling so hot. He had a fever the day before, and was kind of feeling out of sorts (to put it mildly). He refused to sing, and would only sit in a blue chair. Of course, the blue chairs were only for the graduates, so he couldn't. He ended up sitting with his embarrassed parents.

I was able to only snap a couple of shots, and took a very shaky video. You may want to take an anti-nausea pill before viewing, in case you get sea-sick. (Or video-sick)







video

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Fun "Spring" Day

So far, "Spring" has been kind of a gyp. From slightly warmer temperatures, to then...oh yes...snow. Outside days have been few and far between. However, with two small children in the house, we have to get outside when we can. Last weekend was one of those days.

Last year, Gideon's school was giving out free playground equipment. They had been able to buy new toys and houses and things, and needed to get rid of the old stuff. Well, we were happy to take something for the backyard.

Our "new" double slide!

You can climb in from the back.

Or from underneath.

With two slides, there isn't alot of fighting.



In fact, it has brought them closer together.

Especially when Gideon shows her his cool moves.

Lucia especially likes her secret hiding spot.

Although, she will peek out and say hello.

Oh, and yes. We have termites. Lovely.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Home Sick...and a late Valentine's Day craft

Everyone knows that I work. Full-time out of the house. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Gideon and Lucia are at my moms until at least 9:30pm. By the time we get home and into bed, it is after 10pm. And on the other week days, they usually get picked up by 6pm, and then we have to get dinner made, and baths and stories, and so there isn't a whole lot of time to sit and do a craft. Any time when I am home with them for a full day, is a great day.

Last week, both of them got sick. We actually have been quite blessed with zero sickness. This is the first time they have been sick since last summer! And for those of you that know our track record with illness, that is quite a feat! My mother credits the cod liver oil she has been spooning into their mouths. (I know, gross. But it's orange-flavored, and they actually like it!) But this time, Gideon got sick with a cold, and by Wednesday night, Lucia had a fever.

For two days straight, Lucia was very sick. But, by Saturday, she was feeling better. And on Sunday, I got sick. Am still sick, as I type. However, I was determined that we would actually sit together and get a craft done. I had been holding on to this heart box, and had meant to have it ready for Valentine's Day. However, V-day came and went, and we never started it. I took some TheraFlu, and decided to make sure we had a fun day. "Let's do a craft!", I said, "Let's paint!"

We set paper towels out, and Lucia picked her paint colors. Gideon, was sort of helping.

They were all girly colors. Pinks, red, and purple.

These were on hand.


She was a good painter. Very detail-oriented.

She loved that the paint brush was purple. "It's my favorite color!"

Did I mention there was purple glitter glue?

"I can do it myself! No helping me!"

"I did it!"

More glitter glue!

"It's so beautiful, Mommy."

Gideon decides to join in the fun.

He decided red was the most masculine color he could pick.


Lucia needed to fix his mistakes. "He left spaces, Mommy!"

I had to hold the heart up so she could do the sides.

Oh, did I mention there were jewels? There were. This is the top of the heart.
This is the profile shot.

And where was my darling husband during all this extreme fun? Upstairs, working. But, he decided to make sure to play with them, while I was dying on the couch.
They are playing with Lucia's dollhouse furniture.

See the pink box? That is the box the craft came in, but Alex thought it would make a great TV entertainment unit.

Did you guys have a fun day? Their faces speak for themselves :)