Counting Down to 40 – Being an Advocate

Jack pH probe.jpgAs part of my Counting Down to 40 series I will be writing about things about myself of which I am most proud. The first in the series is the importance of being an advocate.

When Jack was born I expected to become a mom and have the mother bear instincts kick in, but I didn’t anticipate the importance of becoming an advocate. Quickly after he was born, certain medical issues presented us with situations that we weren’t prepared for and forced us to learn how to navigate through trial and error and support from our pediatrician. Through those situations I learned to believe in my instincts and how to be strong for my child and advocate for him. Those skills helped me be a much better advocate for our second child, Will, right after he was born, and also be an advocate to others through this platform.

The Will to See was started as a coping mechanism for me through a difficult time in Will’s infancy that included diagnoses of swallow issues and Ocular Albinism. As time has passed, I have been using this experience and the voice created through this blog and other relationships tell our stories while providing information and hope for other families in similar situations.

During our struggles with Jack’s eating there weren’t any resources or people for us to call on. We felt like we were flying blind in very difficult situations. By making our experiences available through this public medium, I hope that I can provide support and ideas for other families. Even if it is just saying that I have been there and I know how difficult it can be.

This role of being an advocate is one I am very proud of. I have always felt there is a reason why we have been challenged in these ways, if for no other reason than to help others through their situations and provide a light to follow when it was otherwise hard to see.

There are times when I get frustrated with page views and other site statistics. Then I will get an email from a family whose child has a feeding tube or has just been diagnosed with Albinism and I remember why I put in the time and effort. And if this helps just one person to better navigate the lonely and heart-wrenching roads that we traversed, well then it was worth it.

Have you found yourself creating a different role for yourself now that you have children or are put in a situation that you didn’t expect?

Counting Down to 40

Sarah San DiegoI turn 40 in October this year. I have been thinking about how I want to countdown to this milestone.

Many people create lists of things they want to accomplish in the year leading up to their 40th birthday. I haven’t felt comfortable about making a list like this for a number of reasons. Most of which is because it creates unnecessary pressure to complete the list. It could be reminder of the things I haven’t done yet and things that I may have thought I should have completed by now.

Instead of creating a to-do list, I am going to celebrate the woman I have become. My life is very different than what I imagined 20 years ago, but that is just fine. I am proud of who I am and where my life has gone, even if it isn’t where I thought I would be.

So much of the time we do not celebrate who we are and allow ourselves to be proud of our accomplishments. Over the next eight months I will highlight some of the things of which I am most proud.

My hope is that it will prompt others to think about their lives and remember to be proud of who they are and what they have accomplished at whatever stage of life they happen to be in.

How will you celebrate your next birthday milestone?

On My Own (Well Almost)

Islay gardeningThis past weekend Jim and the boys went to Daddy Camp, a camping weekend of just dads and kids. I was on my own at home. Well, technically I was on puppy duty. Last year Will didn’t go, so this was my first year all alone. Sort of.

I realized that Friday night was the first night I slept alone in our house since Jack was born and it felt very strange. Although I like time by myself there is something comforting about having someone else in the house, even if that person is four years old.

However, I wasn’t truly alone, so there was no sleeping in or staying up too late (puppy duty, remember?). But it was nice to have a bit more freedom. I had hoped to get a few projects done — work and fun — but I wasn’t that productive. Most of Saturday was spent at a Swissy (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog) event, where Islay had a ball and came home very tired. The event was a gathering of Northwest Swissy owners and their dogs in which owners can meet and catch up with other dog owners and their puppies (Islay got to see two of her sisters and meet her Grandma). Friday and Sunday I did get a few things accomplished, including some gardening which Islay “helped” with.

It felt like a milestone weekend and I realized how big the boys are getting. Will isn’t a baby anymore and is now consistently acting like a bigger kid. I know this in my head, but don’t fully realize it until situations like this.

I am looking forward to next year when Islay will get to go to Daddy Camp too and I will truly be on my own. How productive will I be in this setting? Time will tell.

The art of saying something wrong

Learning to talk is one of those really fun milestones. You never know what exactly they are going to say and how it is going to sound. A few are really embarrassing and others you never want them to grow out of. We all have words that are hard to say or we just flat out pronounce wrong (OK word police, this is where Jim would talk about my Mom’s way of saying fajitas. She says frajitas. Sorry for outing you Mom.)

Jack started talking early and spoke pretty clearly, so he didn’t have that many words that came out in his own language. He did have some and still has a few that haven’t migrated to the real pronunciation. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • murote – remote
  • cobbily – broccoli
  • engery – energy
  • obstitute – substitute (he came home one day from school and said he had an obstitute teacher.)
  • occapus – octopus
  • copiter – helicopter

Since Will is still learning to talk he has a lot more words that he is still working out. I have found that he is not as clear as Jack was. He talks just as much, but most of the time you can only get a couple of words out of it. Here is his current list.

  • Wheel – Will, this is how he says his name
  • AYaya – Yaya, my mom
  • Keen – McQueen, as in Lightning
  • Mulligant – Mulligan, our dog
  • cycle – motorcycle or bicycle
  • coporn – popcorn
  • copet – pocket
  • ephant – elephant
  • wasat – what’s that
  • boberry – blueberry
  • dotdog – hotdog
  • faffle – waffle
  • Anakint – Anakin Skywalker
  • Obe – Obi Won Kenobi

I hope a few of these linger for a while. He is growing up so fast already. We were looking at him the other night and realizing our baby is not that much a baby anymore.

Two Fingers

will cakeWill turned two on our Hawaii trip. It felt like a bit of an afterthought because we didn’t even have him blow out a candle that day. (I know I am a bad mom.) I am pretty sure he didn’t notice. Needless to say we didn’t bring presents over with us, we had enough luggage.

At least I had the presence of mind to plan his birthday party before we left. As I was getting the invitations ready I realized that he has only a couple of friends his age. Most of this friends are actually Jack’s friends – the life of a 2nd child.

Second birthdays are hard ones to plan. They aren’t as exciting as the first birthday and they are still to young for party games or to have an opinion. So what do you do, have a few people over dinner and let the kids play while the parents watched basketball.

The Saturday after we got back was his party. Unfortunately it also coincided with the beginning of spring break for a few people (not ours), so it was a small party, but again I don’t think he noticed. Not wanting his party to feel like a complete afterthought I made a memorable cake and yes it did have candles.

cake will cake 2

The kids had a great time, playing and watching a movie. Will got his favorite dinner, or at least the one he keeps asking for, pizza. After cake he got to open his presents, including a cycle (a balance bike) from Grandma and Grandfather and a T-ball set from us.

will present

will present 2 will bike

If you ask him how old he is he will tell you 2. And then when you ask him how many fingers that is he holds up 2 fingers, but it is 1 from each hand.

So Happy 2nd Birthday Will! Can’t believe you are already 2.

Bottle free

Our house is officially bottle free, well baby bottles that is. About a month ago I weaned Will off his bedtime bottle, the only one that was remaining. I wanted to wait to write this post until I was sure that we were going to keep moving forward and not back (yes I am a bit superstitious.)

He had been stuck on a bedtime bottle for months. It was a nice cozy time for the two of us to sit quietly before he went down. I also didn’t have to worry about how much he ate for dinner, because he would have 6-7 oz of formula to cover him through the night. The problem became that he would only take the bottle from me, so either we had to be OK with him going to bed without it or I had to be with him. That made having a night out pretty difficult.

I wanted to wait until our house guests (Steff, Paul and Oliver) left in September to start the transition, since I wasn’t sure if he would start walking up early or maybe during the night. The evening they left he was very thirsty, so I took it as an opportunity and gave him the cup of milk that would now become his bedtime snack. Plus by starting this evening we made our Pediatrician’s deadline of having him off the bottle by his 18 month appointment which was 2 days later. (I know Mr. Warburton procrastination is the thief of time.)

That night he drank quite a bit as we read stories. The next night however he just pushed it away, as our Pediatrician said he would do (actually she said he would throw it.) The push away game continued for about 2 weeks, then all of a sudden something clicked and he started drinking the whole cup. Now most nights he guzzles it down. He can have it while we read stories and then as one last chance when we are done reading to finish as much as he wants.

Again Will surprised me at how well he has completed this transition. He is really through the baby faze now, especially since he is talking so much.

Photo Friday

Photo Friday – Training wheels are off

bike.jpg

Jack has been working very hard for the last couple weeks on riding his bike without training wheels. He has successfully mastered it, including riding up and down the curbs and through the grass. Great job Jack!

One year older

What a difference a year makes. I realized today how much Jack has grown up in the last year. He has always been a talker with a large vocabulary, so sometimes I forget he is only 5.

Last year Jack and I worked on some Halloween crafts. They were ones from the crafts store, foam pieces you punch out and then stick on in the shapes of pumpkins, ghosts and spider webs. I had to help him get them punched out and sometimes needed direction on what to put where, but he had a great time.

Fast forward a year and yesterday we got out the Halloween decorations to start putting them up. There were some left over crafts that we didn’t finish last year. Jack got them out of the box, asked if he could do them, headed to the table and preceded to finish the rest of the box, without any help. They were great. He loves to help decorate the house.

It got me thinking about how much Jack has learned, changed and generally grown up over the last year. He has always had an amazing imagination and is a sweet boy, but now he is so much more capable. Periodically he will get his pens and paper out to “practice” his writing. He is also getting close to reading.

He is really enjoying Kindergarten. Each day he come home with something new he has learned or done. Our little boy is growing up.

The school bell rings

There is a Kindergartner in our house. (Am I really old enough to have a school age child?) Jack starts school on Thursday. He is in half day/afternoon and gets to ride the bus (which I think he is the most excited for.) There are 5 Kindergarten boys coming from our neighborhood/bus stop (Lord help the bus driver.) Over the last 2 weeks we have gotten to tour the new school (brand new, just opened last week), meet his teacher and I attended Kindergarten orientation. His teacher, bless her soul, seems like she will be great, patient and caring.

School is different than when I was there. Jack goes to school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays are early release for the elementary schools, so afternoon Kindergarten doesn’t go (they go longer on the other days). School supplies aren’t just pencils and paper anymore, we brought Ziploc bags, baby wipes and hand sanitizer. Each child must also have an emergency kit, with a snack, water and other items. It isn’t just drop under your desk drills in case of an earthquake anymore.

I am surprisingly calm about this whole step. I will probably be nervous when he gets on the bus for the 1st time, but I am really looking forward to having the quite afternoons to myself. Yes, we put Jack on the bus, finish lunch and Will goes down for nap. Theoretically I will have from 1-3:45 by myself (at my house of course.) Yah me!

Back to Jack. He is so excited and ready for this next step. He is already starting to read and made such steps last year with his letters, reading and math that I can’t wait to see what this year brings. They will have little bits of homework and are responsible for showing us their folders each night. I am sure if he was a girl he would have had his first day outfit picked out for weeks, but I don’t even think he will request a certain shirt (if he does it will be one of his Star Wars ones or maybe his Husky shirt.)

Cheers to Jack for making the big step to school and getting to ride the bus. Don’t worry Grandma, Grandfather, YaYa, PaPa, Aunties and Uncles I will take lots of photos and promise that I will not cry until I get around the corner.

Will does tricks

Will is learning to talk. Instead of starting with the normal first words, his favorites are juice, shoes, tractor and more. Any vehicle with wheels is a tractor. Juice and shoes  sometimes sound the same. More is on of the cutest because he rolls his lip out before he says it, but on the video he doesn’t do it as much as he normally does.

A few weeks ago Jim started making an “O” face and Will started copying it. He starts to laugh and then can’t get it to work because you can’t do that while you are smiling.

When Jack was going through his eating program we taught him to cheers (love us, don’t judge us.) It was a good way to get him to take drinks without saying take a drink. My nephew does it now and Will is learning. He even says cheers.

Enjoy the video.

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