2015 Missed Events, Post 2

I'm still catching up with 2015. Grandma Teresa and Auntie Megan came to visit for some grilled food, and we got a pic of them with the kids:

Mid year, Luca expressed a desire to learn how to knit. Kyra knows how to knit a little, but Nana is the skilled knitter in the family. She also has a bit of experience in teaching it, so she tried it out with Luca one weekend when she visited:

Luca hasn't kept up with it, but perhaps this is a good reminder for us to get him to do it again. He has a habit, in many things he learns, to try to jump ahead. (For example, he's trying multiplication when it hasn't been covered in school yet.) Perhaps he's trying to show how smart he is, but it sometimes results in worse performance in more basic skills. So with knitting, he tried a more advanced technique and started to goof it up. If we start again, he's got to practice the basics more.

Luca attended soccer camp this fall, along with many of the neighborhood kids. Here he is in his soccer gear. I think he's missing his elbow pads...

Soccer was a great activity for him. He really needs outdoor time all year round, and if he doesn't (like now that it's very cold), he goes a bit crazy inside. Soccer got me out of the house, too! (Since I work at home and we only have one car, I don't get out enough.) It was fun seeing a lot of the neighborhood come out for soccer; I met quite a few neighbors.

Our nieces came to visit just before Luca's birthday. They had a lot of fun with their new baby cousin. Here is Liliana with Astrid:

And here's Dalila with Kyra and Astrid, and their outfits just happen to match:

We don't get to see this kiddos often enough. I think the cousins could use more time to play with one another, and I miss seeing Liliana and Dalila. They're each so interesting in their own ways.

Next time I'll talk more about Luca's birthday party and some other fall events. For now, I'll leave you with Emo Baby:

Such Emo. (Don't worry, she just scratched herself.)

The Harder Battle

For my 28th birthday I got a tattoo. On the inside of my arm is a quote from Plato: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." It is these words that I am trying to find solace in as I embark on a new phase in my life.

In February I will be quiting my job. The decision to do so was one of the hardest I have ever made. I am working at the best center I have ever worked at. My coworkers are amazing, dedicated, supportive educators. My kids make me laugh and smile daily. Leaving isn't about them, or my job. Its about me, and it makes it just that much harder.

The reality is that I am struggling, and have been for a long time. I had post-partum depression with Luca, not surprising since I already have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And I figured I would with Astrid. What I wasn't expecting was the severity of it, the loneliness, the pain. Many of my days were spent feeling like I was drowning, struggling to breath. Now I pride myself on not letting my personal life interfere with my work, and I worked hard to maintain a facade of normalcy. In fact, one of my co-workers remarked one day as I picked up Astrid, "Astrid, your mommy's never in a bad mood". So apparently it worked. But it only made my depression worse, more isolating. I had no one I could talk to, and keeping up appearances was both physically and mentally exhausting.

On my days at home I felt like a walking ghost. I was paralyzed. I hardly talked, I wasn't interested in anything, overwhelmed by everything. And there was fear, and guilt. Everything was wrong, everything was my fault. Luca was acting up, it had to be because of me. Astrid wouldn't eat or sleep, it was because I was doing something wrong. Chris was upset, it was something I had done. Hopeless and Endless and Painful. A constant, dull, nagging pain I just couldn't shake.

Finally, after my mom had left with Luca to spend winter break together, I broke down to Chris. I couldn't keep doing this. It had to end. It was me or the depression, the two couldn't exist together anymore. I wanted the pain to stop.

But I didn't see an easy way out. I was struggling, I knew that. Life, with ten hour work days, two kids, and all the daily hassles that life throws in, was too much for me (although just admitting that to myself was the first battle). But there wasn't anything to do about it. Except give up something. And, unwilling to give up on family or life, work was the only thing left.

I can't help but feel like something of a failure. The darker part of my brain keeps saying, "But look, everyone else has it together. You see parents every day who can handle work, kids, and family etc. Why can't you?" But the choice I find myself faced with is that I can either continue to "power through", tell myself I can do it, that someday it will get better, or I can admit that this is where I am at and do my best to get better. I don't know what better looks like right now, or how to get there, but I can't keep going on the way I have. I have to try something else, for Chris, for Luca and Astrid, for me.

I'm scared as hell. I've never done anything like this. To quit, walk away from something isn't who I am. Stubborn as I am, I don't just give up. But I hope that, in the end, giving up isn't what I'm doing. I hope its recovering.

2015 Missed Events, Post 1

We were rather busy in 2015, and I missed quite a few events, as I mentioned in an earlier post. So this week, I'm going to try to catch up.

First off, I wanted to say how proud I am of my little boy Luca, for doing so well in school. He graduated Kindergarten last year in May, just after Astrid was born.

Here he is getting his diploma:

And here he is with his teacher and Grandpa Bill:

Luca, you did a great job in Kindergarten. You are an awesome reader, mathematician, and friend. Good job!

Christmas 2015

We usually put our Christmas tree upstairs in the dining room, requiring the baby gate to be down and the table in the living room. With Astrid crawling about, that seemed like it would be annoying. So instead, we put the tree downstairs. It worked quite well, but had the side effect of not having very good light, resulting in poor picture quality.

Auntie Megan helped us put up the tree.

Poor picture quality aside, at least it was easier to manage keeping Astrid out of it. I bet our neighbors thought we were grinches with no tree, perhaps until I put up some paltry lights around our garage door. Then they probably thought I was low on Christmas spirit. Oh well!

We opened presents with my mom and sister on Christmas Eve. Kyra made a goose again (delicious!).

Astrid was quite a cute present! Best gift ever: A happy baby!

Auntie Megan gave us a plastic ball full of chocolate. I think we're going to glue it once it's empty to Astrid can play with it.

Luca wrote a note to Santa, saying, "Dear SaNta Claus I HoPe You Have a HaPPy Christmas. from: Luca To: Santa Claus". On Christmas Day, Luca found a reply from Santa, "Dear Luca, Merry Christmas! Thank you for the note! I hope you have fun today. -Santa  P.S. I ran out of wrapping, so I borrowed some of yours. Thanks!".

Astrid, with a look of shock, said, "These are all MINE?!"

Luca got a pokeball. Astrid got a book.

Grandpa Bill got Luca skateboard! Now he'll fit right in with all the neighborhood boys.

What a cool dude.

And yes, he's wearing a shirt with a Storm Trooper eating popcorn. Yep, that's a thing apparently.

Astrid received a sled from Nana. She's pretty excited about it here!

And it got some use pretty quickly, what with the near blizzard we had.

We got out after the New Year, too.

Hope ya'll had a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Astrid Astrid Astrid

Wow, six months have passed! We've been so busy!

Spring was rapid. Astrid was born, Luca graduated Kindergarten, and we were off to summer in the blink of an eye.

Summer was INSANE. Once Kyra started work again, I had to drop off everyone else at three different locations, resulting in 2-2.5 hours of driving time every day except Tuesday. And I work from home! First we dropped Kyra off at work, then Luca at summer camp (which was a lot of fun), and finally Astrid at her daycare. There wasn't an opening at Kyra's new work - a daycare - so we had to wait until September until Astrid could go to school with her. This summer was a small taste of what many families must do every day, and we've been lucky to avoid such huge hassles.

Fall has slowed down a bit, but we're still breathless from the rapid summer season. It's November, and I'm trying to catch up on posting photos and videos from the summer. I haven't written anything about Luca's graduation or the start of 1st grade, the start of Astrid's new day care, or Luca's 7th birthday.

Astrid has been growing quite a bit! She's already learning the prerequisites to crawling and walking, like getting up on her hands and knees from tummy time and pulling herself up on things (with a bit of help). She's eating lots of different food, including some regular solids. For example, she seems to like bread! She's babbling a lot, and just like Luca, she says "Baba" quite well ("daddy" in Chinese). There are times when we think she may just mean it, too!

Here's a photo album with a few of the highlights:

Astrid in her Take-Home Outfit

Luca and Astrid

The Whole Family!

Tummy Time

Learning to Sit

Two Goons in a Chair

Flower Girls

Laundry Girl

Jumping Girl

Reading with Brother

Halloween Costume (Take-Home Redux)

Eating Bread
I'll be catching up with the photos and videos soon, along with some new (professional) family photos for the website. Stay tuned! (What does that even mean nowadays??)