Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple

I had to giggle when Calvin told me his favorite color was rainbow in his birthday interview.  So cute.  Later he clarified by saying if you say rainbow it means you like all the colors.  Thanks for the additional info buddy, but it’s still cute.

Speaking of rainbows this fall I started reading about food dyes from Brooke, and their effects on kids behavior.  If you’ve read our blog you know about Micah.  He’s a handful and if you’ve ever been around him you know what that means.  He requires constant supervision, he’s a very physical child, and can throw some pretty epic tantrums.

When I started reading some of the effects that food dyes have on children, it got me thinking about whether his tantrums, impulsive behavior, aggression, and difficulty sleeping were partially due to food dyes. 
We were a little creative when it came to colors on our gingerbread houses this year.
But dried cranberries did the trick.

I immediately went to the kitchen and started to look into things that might have food dyes that he eats.  Sure enough the yogurt I was buying for the boys had food dyes (Micah can eat 3 of these in one sitting).  The sliced cheese I bought for grilled cheese, my precious imported mac and cheese packets, both lunch staples around here have food dyes.  Don’t even get me started with candy.  The boy loves it and Marvin and I have commented more than once that it turns him into a little monster.  We’ve even said that about M&Ms and Calvin.

So I did a little experiment.  I eliminated food dyes.  And while it didn’t eliminate all the tantrums (he is a toddler), we didn’t have an entire day defined by fits, screaming, and constant melt downs.

I was convinced, but it took a little more convincing on Marvin’s end.  Then he ate a decorated frosted sugar cookie.

Some friends came by to go caroling and brought us some yummy treats.  Calvin and I left with them to do some more singing and I forgot to tell Marvin not to give Micah anything with food dyes.  I got home to find out he’d given him a sugar cookie.

The next day was hideous. 

Tantrums.  All. Day.  Long. 

Everything was a big deal.  He was more aggressive, moody and it was at this point Marvin knew.  No more food dyes.

For us it hasn’t been that difficult to make this switch, although we have to watch what neighbors give him.  Thankfully we live in a place where they are not in everything.  But when his brother gave him an M&M one day you would have thought he was holding poison, I literally dove and pulled it out of his hand before it could reach his lips.  Being a nice mom I gave him a piece of chocolate instead. 

It seriously makes that big of difference for him.  I think we’ll have to be a little more creative when it comes to cookie decorating, birthday cakes, etc. until I can get some natural food coloring but it’s something that is completely worth it.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Orange you going to close the door

Lately we’ve found Micah playing in the house at random hours of the night.  I guess when he wakes up he thinks it’s time to get up and rather than come wake us up he just turns on his light and starts playing, or goes to the living room and starts playing.  He’ll eventually make enough noise that it wakes me up and I check my watch and sure enough it’s 3:00 a.m.

It’s a good thing his brother is a deep sleeper.  He has never once woken up despite all the noise and lights Micah has turned on.

Well due to his crazy little sleep schedule we always close the kitchen door before we go to bed because I’ve cleaned up way to many crackers and water recently.  But occasionally in our exhausted state we forget. 

See why we close the door? 

Micah helped himself to some oranges one night.  I bought 4 oranges at the stores for the next day and the little man opened them all.  I am impressed at his strength though.  I’m not sure I could split an orange in half with my bare hands when I was two.

He also poured himself a nice bowl of sugar.  The boy knows where the good stuff is.

So I guess this means I better start double checking that door.

a Childhood dream

I have a very fuzzy childhood memory, but one that made a big impression on me.  I remember going to a gym where my mom worked out and was so impressed.  I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go and work out on my own.  I remember watching work out videos and just dreaming about teaching aerobics some day.

Well that childhood dream that I never really thought much about just came true.  Early in December I headed to the big city for a 2 day Zumba fitness instructor training and since then I’ve been using all my “extra” free time to learn new choreography.  

To show you how much dancing I've been doing, recently Calvin said, “Mommy why are you always dancing.”  It’s true but I'm trying to get a good 50 song rotation so I can change up my classes weekly.  Right now I'm working on the last 20 songs.

I'm learning a ton from teaching and trying to figure out the best way to instruct certain steps.  But most importantly I'm having a blast.  I'm so thankful that I get to teach something I love.  So if you are ever in our area or I'm in yours let's turn up the music and get a good workout together.  I'd love it.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Christmas highlights

So even though this year has been overcast with heartache we had some sweet Christmas memories this year that I do not want to neglect either.

Our friends organized a caroling night.  When I told Calvin that sometimes during Christmas people go to each other’s houses and ring the door bell and start singing Christmas carols, he responded by saying, “I don’t believe you.” 

So when the crew arrived at our house to sing he finally believed me and he had so much fun caroling at the three houses/apartments we went to.  It was such a hoot listening to 4 boys in the back of the van singing, “Jingle bells, batman smells robin laid an egg.”  He loved caroling and keeps asking me when we can do it again.

A sweet friend who came to stay with us in November brought us an IKEA gingerbread house, thanks so much S!  I picked up another one at IKEA and I’m glad I did, we avoided many conflicts and both boys were able to decorate as they wished and eat as they wished.  Micah enjoyed the eating involved in decorating but he eventually got into the spirit of it and loved sticking things on the house.

Calvin did a good job this year too.  He was pretty proud of his house.  And didn’t want to destroy his house by eating it, yet managed to eat bulk of his brother’s

I decided this year I didn’t have it in me to make breakfast for Christmas morning. So I bought the sugary cereal Calvin is always begging me to get at the store, it’s the only they sell here with a prize in it.  I randomly found this other cereal too, and didn’t know which one they’d like better.  

Obviously he was a fan and surprised and of course choose the one with the prize.  I love how a puzzle inside a cereal box makes his day. 

We were thankful that we only put one piece of candy in the boys stocking this year.  They each got a kinderegg and of course the gift Calvin gave his daddy this year was a kinder egg.  Chocolate is Micah’s favorite type of candy and he promptly tore off his wrapper and ate his, as soon as he saw his brother’s and Marvin’s egg they were devoured.  It’s a good thing for him that his brother was thrilled with the trade off the toy inside for the chocolate outside.  Honestly I think Calvin tolerates the chocolate because there is a surprise toy inside, he’s not my chocolate guy.

After we opened gifts the boys played watched their new movies and I took a nap while Marvin flipped through a sports illustrated he got from my parents.  It was glorious.  It’s not often I get a nap, so it was a tremendous blessing.

The boys loved skyping to both sets of grandparents.  My parents called during breakfast and Micah gave them quite the eyebrow show and he was very enthusiastic opening his gifts.  I love his little wow.  We were able to call Marvin’s family later in the afternoon, but I was busy getting dinner ready to really get good time with them. Both boys love skype and I’m so thankful that they get to grow up seeing them, what a blessing technology is.

Later in the day we had some singles come over and we enjoyed a yummy meal and lots of laughing.  It was a blessing having a fun home this Christmas, even if it meant a little extra work on my part. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

'Tis the season

I didn’t know what to expect this Christmas.  It’s something all the books on grief touch on, but even though all the reading I’ve done I still didn’t know what would be hard.  I remember last year as I hung our stockings I delighted in telling Marvin how next year we’d have to make room for another stocking.  I remember thinking how crazy Christmas morning would be with three boys (I knew Seth would be a boy from the positive pregnancy test).  So without him here I had to confront the unspoken plans I made in my heart, those were difficult confrontations wrought with tears. 

As a whole I’d say this Christmas season I’ve lacked energy and the so called “Christmas Spirit”, whatever that is.  What I’ve gleaned out of this season is gratitude that our son is spending his first Christmas with the reason we celebrate.  That is a treasured gift.

I had looked for a special ornament to mark this year for Seth and finally found it.  Thank you Beki for making it extra special!  It is perfect.

I decided that it would be nice to have something under the tree for Seth.  I want our boys to grow up knowing that Seth is still a part of our family and because we were blessed with him we want to bless others. I was thrilled to add a few things other had given in his name to his blessing sock!  Thank you friends and family for not forgetting Seth this year.

I did sew up a stocking for him with the extra fabric I had left over to hang with the rest of ours.  I would have to say the hardest thing was taking the stockings down to fill them on Christmas Eve.  I passed by them several times, but just didn’t have it in me to do it.  I didn’t know what would be better leaving Seth’s hanging or taking it down and it remaining empty.  Both options seemed painful, so I was thankful that Marvin eventually did it.

When a friend headed back to the states I sent her back an envelope with a little ornament I made for Seth’s grave, a superman angel.  I couldn’t bare the fact that I couldn’t place anything at this grave this Christmas.  I was so grateful for her willingness to take it back to the states and mail it.

I was so blessed to get this video this week.  I have such a sweet family.  Thank you for remembering Seth this year and for visiting his grave, despite the cold and wind, thank you for gathering around the place where we put our sweet baby to rest and singing about the birth of a savior who so tenderly cares for us.  It means so much to us.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Leaving 2012

I had not anticipated the approaching New Year as a time that would be difficult, yet this past week I’ve been weary.  New Year's Eve I was a weepy mess and it seemed like I woke up feeling the heaviness of missing Seth.  I tried to shake it, tried distracting myself, but there was no distracting the pain my heart was feeling, the tears just continued.  So we canceled our plans for the evening, because I wasn’t emotionally up to a joyful evening of playing games with friends.  After dinner I just collapsed on the couch and I couldn’t help remembering how last year I was curled up in bed well before midnight exhausted from the work it took my body to nourish and nurture Seth in my womb.  To be honest it hurt that this year I was curled up on the couch exhausted from grief, sad that I couldn’t spend this day holding him.

After some reflecting I think the reason why this day was so difficult was that time continues.  The calendar page would soon be forced to turn again, yet this time instead of turning a page, it was about to be replaced with a new calendar, its crisp white pages are never to be filled with memories of Seth.  They won’t be filled with his first steps, first teeth, first words….just more grieving. 

It felt like this New Year’s Eve I was forced to say goodbye to a year that brought us the sweet joy of Seth.  It seemed almost cruel to have to leave the beauty of a year filled with him behind.  I wanted to cling to the year where I got to stroke his hair, hold his hand, feel his silky skin, cradle him in my arms, sing over him and kiss him. 

So when the fireworks exploded around us to celebrate a new year, grief wrapped its strong grip on my heart and the reality emerged that the distance between the time Seth was physically with us was growing. 

Today I was reminded of a song we sang at Seth’s funeral.  It was good to remind myself of the last verse. 

I’m praying that the Lord would help me see these passing days as days that I’m not separated from Seth, but just another day closer to enjoying eternity together with my shelter in this storm.  I’m thankful for faithful hands that do not and cannot fail.

Thanks friends for walking this road with me.  You are dear to me.