Monday, May 30, 2011

A Tale of Six Caterpillars!


Remember Paprika's Painted Lady Butterfly that she brought home from school? The one with broken wings who couldn't fly? Well, that little butterfly ended up living for seven weeks in our house...with two broken wings and three (instead of four) legs! The life expectancy on those butterflies is 2-4 weeks, so 7 weeks is just more than I ever expected. It must have been all that apple juice we fed it! Ha!


When he did pass away, I just couldn't bring myself to tell Paprika. We told her that he got out and flew away to live with his brothers and sisters. I know that you cannot shield kids from all hard things, but I guess I feel that when you can shield them, it's probably for the best.


Anyhoo, I set about looking for Monarch caterpillars. Monarch butterflies are so big and beautiful, and majestic. They are just amazing creatures! I decided to buy some milkweed plants and see if the caterpillars would come to us!


After about two weeks, I had just about killed the milkweed plants. They were in our backyard and I forgot to water them...and I figured that was that. I brought them inside to nurse them back to health. I started giving the plants water and Miracle Grow, and they bounced back.


Well, a few days ago, I was in our kitchen looking at the plants up on the windowsill, and noticed six giant Monarch caterpillars chomping on our milkweed plants!


I guess a Monarch butterfly dropped the eggs on the plants when they were outside, and I brought the plants inside without ever knowing those eggs were there and about to hatch!


Needless to say, Paprika and Ginger have been so excited to watch their caterpillars grow. We are probably going to build a butterfly house so that once they hatch, we don't have butterflies flying around our house.


Hopefully all of these caterpillars become healthy Monarch butterflies, and we can let them go. Although I did love having our injured Painted Lady for seven weeks, it is always better if you can let them go and be free!


Over the past few days, each caterpillar changed into a chyrsallis. We got to watch the transformations, and it was amazing.

We made a little time-lapse movie of our last caterpillar becoming a chrysallis- it is about 2 minutes long, and definitely worth watching (if I do say so, myself-ha!) I keep watching it over and over again because I just can't get over the miracle...and then to think that in 10 days or so a butterfly will emerge. I am hoping we can get that on camera, as well! Wouldn't the be awesome to witness?

Here is the video we made:

I hope your Memorial Day Weekend has been good! I always feel really weird saying "Happy Memorial Day" because it is such a sad day, really...but I am glad for the way everyone gets together and rejoices in life and remembers the lives lost. That is a good thing and definitely worth celebrating!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

16 Weeks!


16 Week Update

How am I feeling? In a word, exhausted. I think more than any other pregnancy, this one has just wiped my energy out. Every day, I feel like I've chugged a bottle of Ambien, and I fight to keep my eyes open during the day. I am resting a normal amount - just something about this pregnancy is taking all the energy from my body! It might have something to do with chasing around an almost 2 year old and a four year old. Ya think?

Doctor’s Appointment?

I had a check-up with Dr. K on Thursday. He did a detailed ultrasound, and everything looks really good. The Subchorionic Hemmorage is gone completely, which is so wonderful! The baby is measuring about a week ahead according to the ultrasound. So, she will most likely be another big girl! That's right- she is still a she! Dr. K and the tech both noticed that right away!

The appointment went great - everyone in the office is so nice to me. We were chatting and visiting, and what do you know, everyone forgot that I was supposed to get my blood drawn for the AFP test. I remembered just as I was pulling into my driveway, and right about that time, I got a call from the doc's office.

So, Friday morning, I had to go back to the office for the blood draw. Because of Memorial Day weekend traffic, it took me an hour and a half to get to the office, and over an hour to get home. All for a five minute blood draw. But it had to be done!

Here is an ultrasound picture from Thursday's visit. Isn't she cute?


Weight Gain?

I have gained 11 pounds, which is pretty good for me, actually. I am still fighting quite a bit of nausea, and the only thing that helps me is Taco Bell bean burritos and 7 layer burritos. I have been drinking a lot of Iced Tea, too- the caffeine is keeping me somewhat awake during the day. ;-) My cravings are mostly for protein, especially beans and cheese!

What Else?

We had planned on going on a big trip to Maine and Indiana for a few weeks, since Mr. Mustard is off work right now. I talked to Dr. K about it, and he said that he would rather me stay home.

I went back and forth agonizing...should we stay or should we go (because I really wanted to go) - but truthfully, I just don't think I have the energy to go anywhere right now. Sad, but true! Travelling with a 2 year old and a 4 year old isn't easy even when you're not pregnant, but when you's just a whole different ballgame!

I still have a lot of anxiety around pregnancy - definitely not as much as I had with Ginger's pregnancy, but I still worry a lot. And if anything were to happen while we were travelling, I would always wonder what if. What if I'd stayed home and hadn't subjected myself and my body to the extra stress? Even if something bad happend unrelated to travelling, I would just always wonder and blame myself. I know me...because even though I know it wasn't my fault with Vivian and Annemarie, I still have a lot of what ifs and moments that I blame myself from their pregnancy (I am working on letting that go!)

Anyhoo- so I just decided to stay home and be a lazy bum rather than be a jet-setter for the time being. ;-) I know it will be a disappointment to our families - but ultimately, I've gotta do what's best for Pavenzia and hopefully people will understand.

Baby Preparations?

None yet. I have started thinking about Ginger and Paprika sharing a room (our house is 3 bedrooms). That's a long way off, though, because Pavenzia will probably sleep in our room for the first year or so. Plus, Ginger and Paprika both sleep so well in their own rooms, I really don't want to mess that up!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oh What A Night!


This past week has been so full, I haven't had time to blink, let alone blog!

Tuesday, of course, was the Season Finale of DWTS. I hadn't been to a show all season (it's a bit tricky for me to find a nanny and make it to the show)...but I really didn't want to miss the Finale or the Cast & Crew After Party.

As I said, the childcare issue is always a bit of a struggle - we don't have a nanny, and we also don't have any family nearby to drop in and help. My friend's nanny said she could come over after work- but that put her here at 5:30, and I had to be at the studio by 3:45. What to do?


I asked one of our neighborhood girls (a highschooler) to come over, and she said she could be here by 3:15. I thought that would give me just enough time to race to the studio, but on the day of the show, I realized I needed more time.

I went to my neighbor's house to see if she could come from 2:30 to 3:15 - and she said okay, but said she thought she had shingles (doctor's appointment in an hour to confirm). Oh boy. An hour later, she calls me up to tell me it is shingles.

Next thing you know, the highschool babysitter's mom knocks on our door and says her daughter has SAT Prep that day and won't be able to babysit. (Her SAT instructor is one of the writers of the Princeton Review and you just don't stand him up!)

Anyway, in that moment, all hope was lost and I thought no way I'd be able to go to the show. But then, out of nowhere, the mom offered to babysit in place of her daughter, and said she could come earlier to give me more time. Hallelujah!

So, I ran around like crazy picking up our house, getting ready, and printing out babysitting directions in English (for our neighbor) and in Spanish (for our friend's nanny). If that sounds like a lot of work, well, that's because it was...and probably one of the reasons I don't get out as much as I should.


I got to the Lot early and got to visit Mr. Mustard in "the Bay" (he edits the show). I hung out with all the people who work with him on the show, and because it was the last day, things were very festive...champagne corks popping all around.

Once all of Mr. Mustard's packages were delivered, we walked 10 feet over to the stage. It was Mr. Mustard's first time going to the show in 6 seasons...usually he is it was really special and I am glad he took the time to sit with me in the audience.


We had fabulous seats. We were in the fourth row, three rows back from Kelly Preston, and right behind the new Bachelorette (so I am told - I would not recognize her in a lineup!) Before the show, I chatted with Kathy Najimy...who I recognized from my marathon watching of Desperate Housewives this past month (I am watching the whole series from start to finish).

We were seated just about 10 feet from Sarah Palin, and 5 feet from Ralph Macchio, and about two dozen celebrities scattered in between. It was one of the dancer's birthday (Mark Ballas), and the whole audience spontaneously started singing Happy Birthday to him a few seconds before the show started.


The show was great. It's exciting on television, and even better in person. The last time I went, I was in the front row over by the "fishbowl" - where they take the celebs backstage to chat with Brooke. This time, we were across from the judges and had a great view of the stage. It was a different perspective, and I loved where we were sitting because we were right in the middle of the action.



After the show wrapped, we headed over to the after party. I had cleared staying out late with the I knew the night was just getting started. The wrap party is always a lot of fun. I think most people would say the open bar and the dancing are the best parts. But, as I am pretty much always pregnant at this event, the food is my favorite part! ;-)





We danced a little, I watched everyone else drink up (while I had lemonade)...and then when my feet were just about to give out, I found a little perch right between the bar and the dance floor, where just about every celebrity was congregating. Mr. Mustard and I hung out, talked to people, and most importantly, my feet got to rest. ;-)




We cruised home around 1am, and the girls were still awake (of course!) After we let the nanny go home, we realized that we left one of our cars at the Lot and we wouldn't have time to go pick it up the next day. So, at 1am, we loaded Paprika and Ginger into the car and drove back to Hollywood to pick up our car. We figured they would fall asleep in the car. No suck luck.

So by the time we got home at 2am, they were still awake. Whose kids are these again? Oh yes, that's right. Ours. I would say they really do take after their night owl parents.


So, that was our night on Tuesday. It made me a little nostalgic for the old days when we partied like that a lot. But coming home to these girls of course is the sweetest gift in the whole world. And the truth is, as exciting as the DWTS Finale was, I have the most fun hanging out with my girls and making our magic at home. But I have to admit, it was fun to get dressed up and put on my dancing shoes for a night! ;-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beach Nights!


I don't know why it is, but everything is more fun and exciting after dark! One of Paprika and Ginger's favorite things to do is go to the beach at night-night time. We play tag, run on the beach, and look up at the stars. We have the whole place to ourselves.


There is nothing quite like a cool ocean breeze on a warm summery night!

It's a good thing our girls stay up so late! :-) We get to enjoy crazy times like this!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Squeezing In Moments!


I often worry that Ginger is getting lost in the mix. Between Paprika's Pre-K activities, piano lessons, playdates, and therapy schedule...there is not a whole lot focused on just Ginger.

So, those special times we do have just the two of us hold a certain magic. We've been taking advantage of our one on one time while Paprika is at school to do the things Ginger wants to do.


One of her favorite things to do is go to the beach. It is a good thing we live right down the street from the Pacific Ocean! We have been getting in lots of quick trips down to the beach while Paprika is at school.

When we were looking at houses, the one thing I would not compromise on was a big yard. I love having outdoor space, which in these parts is so hard to come by! But now that we live so close to the beach, I think living next to the ocean is at the top of my list!

I have lived in Los Angeles for 11 years and I spent the first 10 years wanting to move back to the Midwest. Now that we have found this little enclave, I feel like I'm home. It is a great feeling, and I am so glad the girls get to grow up here.


While Paprika loves to run into the ocean, Ginger prefers walking on the boardwalk and checking out all the cool things on the path. She is always making friends with the doggies on their daily walks and will chase the dogs down if they start to run the other direction!

She is not a big fan of her stroller - but she will ride in it if you call it her "choo-choo" and run really really fast, popping wheelies left and right! Wheeeeee!


One of her other favorite things to do is go feed the ducks. Well, except usually there is a flock of seagulls also trying to get fed. So, it's more like feeding the ducks and the seagulls...and occasionally the turtles, too!


When we're not at the beach or off feeding the wildlife (haha!), we're at the park. Usually, Ginger does something that makes me gasp for climbing to the tippity-toppity of the highest curvy slide and sliding down it without fear.


I cherish our one on one times so much, and I know Ginger does, too! I think as a parent you have to make a conscious choice to make sure each child gets individual attention. I am not perfect at this, but hopefully I am doing enough. Sometimes all you can do is squeeze in those special moments when they present themselves and make the most of the time you've got! :-)


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pavenzia's Big Day!

We had such a big day today! First, I took Paprika to the Greg & Steve concert this morning with her Pre-K class. For anyone who doesn't know (and I didn't!), Greg & Steve are big rockstars in the kid world. ;-)

One of the other moms took a ton of pictures, so I will have to post them later after she sends them to me. We had the best seats in the whole place, which always makes things more fun!

During the performance, Paprika got to shake Greg's hand, and then got to go up on stage to sing and dance with Greg & Steve.

After the concert, Paprika got to meet Greg & Steve, get some pictures with them, and talk to them for a few minutes.

I was worried the whole thing would be way too overwhelming for her (and it was, at times) - but overall, it was a really fun show and she did great.


Then we rushed home pick up the rest of the family, eat a quick lunch, and head off to the ultrasound place to see Pavenzia on the big screen!

The place we went was super nice, almost like a spa. Paprika and Ginger were both so excited. We got some great photos, which again, I will have to upload later!

We got a DVD to bring home with images from the ultrasound - it was just amazing, really. I know this is not our first time having a child, but it is just as magical if it were our first!


We saw Pavenzia taking sips in-utero and sucking her thumb. We saw all the fingers and toes, and every perfect part of her. It was just instant love I felt (even more so than I had already) - I am 100% head-over-heels in love with this little one. Count me smitten!

Pavenzia is very ladylike, and it took her a long time to uncross those legs for us to see if she was a girl or a boy! But after a few tries, we got to take a peek...and she is a GIRL! (If you haven't figured that out already - Ha!)

I kept asking the tech, "Are you sure?" And she said she was. Even so, I have an ultrasound with Dr. K next Thursday, so I plan on seeing what he thinks, as well! If both agree, I will start to believe it more.


It was so funny because during the whole ultrasound up until the gender reveal, the technician kept saying, "We'll find out soon if it's a boy or a girl." Paprika kept saying, "Oh no. That's my baby sister. She's a girl! Her name is Pavenzia!" It was super cute.

We are having a really hard time convincing Paprika that we are not actually naming the baby Pavenzia. If Pavenzia really is a girl, then that will be FIVE girls in a row for us (possibly six because we don't know the sex of the baby we lost in the first trimester). So, wow! This will be the FIFTH girl name we will have to come up with! One thing is for sure, the name won't be Pavenzia. Haha!


Overall, it's been an amazing and full day. I am so thankful for a healthy baby with a beating heart! I want time to speed up and be November already - but on the other hand, this is very likely our last baby (if she makes it) - so I also want to enjoy the pregnancy. I just want her here, safely...especially now that I have fallen so very much in love with her!


P.S. The poll was just about 50/50 for Boy vs. Girl! So, half of you were right! :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Making and Baking!


One of Paprika's favorite things to do is bake. And when she's "making" (as she calls it), you'd better get out of the kitchen!

I have no idea how she learned to bake. She throws a lot of things in a bowl, and mixes them together, and voila. It's sometimes edible, and always interesting! I stay out of her way because Lord knows, I am no help in the kitchen!

Flour, eggs, oil, milk, sugar, butter, baking powder...somehow she finds things to throw together. This cake was one of her more edible creations. Her oil, butter, and strawberry salad she made the other day was NOT!

I usually try to steer her towards the expiring/expired things in the pantry, or at least the things that are easily replaceable. When she reaches for the vanilla extract, real maple syrup, or cumin, I quickly redirect! Haha!


Now if only we could get her to eat those creations we'd be getting somewhere! Paprika is still having a lot of trouble with eating, and with all her sensory stuff in general. We took her to a pediatric clinic a few months ago for a thorough evaluation with a pediatric occupational therapist (OT). Long story short, the therapist was not a good match for Paprika. He was a young guy with no kids and they just didn't connect.

We followed our instincts and instead hired a private (out of network) occupational pediatric sensory and feeding specialist to come to our house to work with Paprika on a weekly basis. She is amazing - I can't say enough good things about her and the miracles of what the right Occupational Therapist can do for a child!


One thing she noticed right away is that Paprika does not move her tongue at all when she eats. She does not move it from side to side. She does not push the food around. It makes it extremely difficult for her to eat, and so she has learned to only eat a few "safe" foods that she can control easily in her mouth and eat with very little effort. This probably goes back to when Paprika was an infant and had silent reflux, so eating was painful for her, and she learned to associate food with pain.

I know the occupational therapy process is long, very long...but I am hopeful that we will see some real results before too long.

Paprika has some very real sensory issues that we need to address before she can start school. Right now being in a classroom of 20 kids would be way too much for her. She has a really hard time with crowds, lights, and noise, for starters.


We have a really quiet home, and it is a calm little oasis for her here. But when she gets into an environment with distractions, she literally shuts down. I really started to notice this with her school assessments. At home, she can whiz through the Brain Quest books for Kindergarten and do all the problems in her head. But at school, she cannot even identify basic body parts she's known since she was two.

Paprika's pediatrician, occupational therapists, pre-k teachers, and even her piano teacher have pointed out to me how hard a time Paprika has in group environments and with sensory stuff. So, it's not just me being a worried mom...which is actually what I thought for the longest time! ;-)


The good news is that she is happy and healthy, sweet and loving to her baby sister and everyone else she meets. Can you really hope for more?

Speaking of that "baby sister" - she is turning 23 months tomorrow. I have no idea what we're doing for her birthday! Tick tock! I think she'll be happy with anything. Even though she asks for a dog every single day (as does Paprika), I just don't think we're ready to go there yet. Anyone have a dog we can rent for a few hours? Haha!