Tag Archives: toddler

The Winter of Our Discontent

Song Lyric of the Day:

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days / When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Twenty One Pilots / “Stressed Out

I’m over this winter. Normally I love winter since it’s cold and I can’t overheat like I do in late spring and then summer, but this winter has been miserable. Why exactly? Because Sebastian has been sick since January 12. I remember the date, because it was the day before Rich was due to leave for India for work for 13 days. Good timing. Sebastian woke up covered in vomit that morning, so we of course immediately thought “flu!” and rushed him to the doc. It turned out to be a stomach bug and a little cold. Rich felt better leaving for his trip knowing he was not leaving me with a flu-afflicted baby.

Sebastian then got a virus, which started clearing up after a few days. Meanwhile, as Rich was away and that always upsets the natural balance of things, Knoxville got snow. One whole inch of snow led to three school snow days in a row — combined with MLK Day that Monday, Coraline and I were home with her sick brother almost all week. At least she had school that Friday, albeit on a two-hour delay.

The second Sunday Rich was away, Sebastian got sick again and was so weak with fever and bordering on lethargic that I was positive his virus had turned into the flu. I called my mom to come sit with Coraline so I could take him to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to get looked at. When I told Coraline that Abuela was coming to watch her so I could take her brother to the hospital to get checked out, my poor girl got hysterical. She adores her baby brother and has been terrified of him getting the flu since she knows it can be fatal for babies. I did my best to calm her down, although I ended up crying a little bit, too, since she was so upset. I reassured her that I was sure the docs at the hospital would tell me I was just being a paranoid mommy, but she replied with, “I just want to spend as much time with him as I can while I can,” as she went to embrace her brother. It’s not like hearing her say that, through sobs, ripped my heart out or anything. Mom got to our house in about a half hour (she ROCKS) and Sebastian and I left for the hospital. I managed to stake out a corner in the waiting room relatively away from other people; it was full that night, and half the kids were wearing face masks because of flu-like symptoms. We got there around 8:20PM and didn’t end up getting home until 12:55AM. Turns out it wasn’t the flu, just the first day of a new, second virus. Poor Sebastian had blood drawn and spent most of the night in my arms practically fainting from his fever.

The next week was a bit of a blur as Sebastian had me up several times every night. I took to calling him the Fever King since he had so many I lost count. I’m very fortunate in that my job is portable and I can work from home, so when Sebastian felt well enough to play I’d work. I’d then haul ass to get even more work done while he napped since that was my longest uninterrupted stretch during the day. But with a very sick baby who is very clingy when not feeling well, I ended up working most nights after the kids were in bed to finish what I couldn’t during the day. I’d wrap up working for the night between 10 and 11PM, then rush to do a few household things, then try to get an hour or two of sleep before Sebastian’s first wakeup. He’d inevitably wake up with a fever; we’ve gone through I don’t know how many bottles of Infants’ Tylenol and Infants’ Motrin these last few weeks.

Finally the Friday arrived when Rich was flying home. One hour before his scheduled landing, I was changing Sebastian’s diaper before heading to the airport when I noticed his torso was covered in a rash. Another call to the nurse triage line (my second or third at this point) followed. Rich landed safely and the nurse called back while we were at the luggage carousel. After I answered what felt like 100 questions, the nurse assured me she was certain it was Roseola, which meant that the virus was coming to an end. Finally, our little boy was going to be well again, right? Yeah, not so much.

Sebastian was still sick enough that I had to keep working from home with him, but now with Rich home again, he was able to work from home with him a bit so I could get in to the office a few days. Because things weren’t fun enough, Coraline’s school district canceled school Monday and Tuesday that week due to illness since so many kids and teachers were out with the flu (among other things). They had school Wednesday, only to have school canceled the remainder of the week. That weekend Sebastian got sicker — again.

As he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms again, back to the doctor we went. It wasn’t a virus this time, but his first-ever ear infection. He got prescribed an antibiotic, but a few days later somehow got sicker while on it. Back to the doc, where he got diagnosed with a double ear infection and put on a second, different antibiotic. And — because this has been the winter that keeps on giving — you guessed it, he got sicker. Back to the doc, where his doctor took one look in Sebastian’s ear and said it was so infected even a first-year med student could diagnose it. That’s right — his double ear infection had gotten worse while on the second antibiotic. Sebastian was then put on Augmentin, which eventually made progress on the ear infection while destroying his stomach in the process. His doctor had warned us how harsh it would be on Sebastian’s stomach, but boy, it was more vicious than we anticipated.

As I write this, a little more than seven weeks since Sebastian first got sick, he’s still not quite back to 100 percent. He’s pretty close, though — I’d put him around 90 percent. He went eight days before developing another fever this past Friday, but it was a low-grade one of 100 degrees. He also currently has a very runny nose and a little cough; the last few weeks he learned to recognize the Boogie Wipes package, so that’s made wiping his nose extra fun since he fights it. (I don’t know why since those wipes are awesome when you’re sick.) Best of all, he’s eating again. He had next to no appetite at his sickest; breastfeeding was all that was keeping him from dehydrating. And, if I’m honest, as a Puerto Rican, it freaked me out that he wouldn’t eat. When people don’t eat, it freaks us out. We need to feed you. Not eating is weird and scary. At least Sebastian would take his beloved pouches, which oftentimes were the only thing he’d eat for days on end.

I know things could have been much worse, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the most stressed I’ve been in ages during Sebastian’s illnesses, particularly while Rich was out of the country. I made a point to thank Coraline for behaving so well while her dad was away, since she was a big help with her brother. I’m lucky that my parents and sister are in town (as well as close friends) and a phone call away if I need anything, like the night I needed to take Sebastian to the hospital. Now seven-plus weeks, three antibiotics, lots of Children’s Benadryl, Infants’ Tylenol, Infants’ Motrin, 4 negative flu tests, 4 negative RSV tests, and one negative strep throat test later, my baby is finally getting back to his normal, silly, noisy, bottomless eating pit, mess-making self.

Now if only it were spring …

Sebastian on the go

Taken when he felt good one morning, before he napped and woke up with a raging fever later that day (2/19/18).

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Photoblogging: Profile

Coraline in Profile

I took this photo right after we washed Coraline’s hair. It helps give you an idea of how long her hair is before it re-curls as it dries, even though it had already started curling again by the time I snapped this. (5/11/14)


Filed under coraline, photoblogging, photography

Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza

Song Lyric of the Day:

Hold me closer tiny dancer / Count the headlights on the highway / Lay me down in sheets of linen / You had a busy day today

Elton John / “Tiny Dancer

A couple of months ago Rich and I enrolled Coraline in her first ballet class. Technically, it’s a jazz/ballet/creative movement/gymnastics class, but we call it ballet for simplicity’s sake. Coraline loves it, and so do we. It’s been so much fun watching her make new friends and to learn how to do first position, second position, and plie, among other ballet moves. She’s also learned the ball-shuffle-change move in tap, heel-toe moves, toe taps, and so on. She then goes insane — as does her whole class — when it’s time to switch to gymnastics for the last half of class. With a bit of encouragement, she now loves braving new things like the parallel bars, the balance beam, and the uneven bars — all with the instructor’s assistance, of course. Coraline is also now an ace tumbler after a less-than-spectacular start.

Coraline’s class’ recital is this weekend, the stuff of my mother’s dreams. See, once upon a time, young Pattie was enrolled in ballet class. And little Pattie whined after every class about how tired she was. Which always got the same response from her mother: “But you’ll be such a pretty ballerina!” It’s basically become family lore that I failed as a ballerina. Me, the klutz who broke my toe walking out of a room, remember? I can admit that I have hardly any grace, and I’ve made my peace with that. But my mom — oh, boy. She might literally have bells on this weekend, she’s so excited for Coraline’s recital. At least Coraline truly enjoys her class. No whining about being tired afterward from her! In fact, she’s excited about starting the next level of class, because she’s my girl and she’s awesome. Sure, she has maybe an ounce more grace than I do, but she pours her heart into learning her steps.

I’ll be wearing my own set of bells for her recital this weekend.


First day of class (3/26/14)


Tiny ballerina feet


Preparing to twirl


Practicing some of that creative movement


If there’s one thing Coraline is aces at, it’s the bows. The child is all about the bows.


Coraline is always more than happy to pose for a photo when she’s in her ballet outfit.




Look at that bow — she has more grace than me after all!


My beautiful ballerina

*This post’s title is taken from one of my favorite jokes on Friends, courtesy of Phoebe.


Filed under coraline, personal, photography

The Numbers on the Scale

Song Lyric of the Day:

Would you let me see beneath your beautiful? / Would you let me see beneath your perfect?

Labrinth featuring Emeli Sande / “Beneath Your Beautiful

For the past few weeks I’ve gotten back into something of a fitness routine. I’m now on three weeks of only taking the stairs at work (my cube is on the third floor), I walk the track at work when I can despite the ridiculous heat these days, I’m wearing my pedometer again to track how many steps I take each day, and I’ve started using our home gym again. I’ve even worked up to running part of the time I’m on the treadmill, which I usually have set on 3.9MPH, a speed at which I can easily maintain my natural native New Yorker walking rate. We’ll see how I do when I increase the speed soon.

Coraline is curious about what constitutes exercise. She loves pointing out that those runners we passed, the soccer players we saw, the kids shooting hoops were all exercising. Rich and I have explained to her that exercise is a way to stay healthy: It gets your heart pumping harder, which is very important since our hearts need to be healthy to keep everything else working well. She has no concept of exercise as a means to weight loss, which is perfectly fine by me. The longer she only sees it as a means to being healthy, not skinny*, the happier I’ll be. I worry about her future body image, when other kids might pick on her for being what they perceive — what society dictates — to be overweight or even if she’s underweight, which I was growing up and into my young adulthood. Being asked by perfect strangers almost everywhere I went if I had an eating disorder (what I had was ridiculous metabolism) took its toll on my self-esteem and confidence. That I know from.

So it’s because of all the baggage that’s attached to exercise and eating healthy that I never let her see me weigh myself. Yes, I started working out again because I’d like to look and feel better. I want to shore up the wobbly bits. I want to increase my endurance, which the stairs and cardio are definitely helping with. I’m trying to make smarter choices about what I eat because without that, exercise alone won’t get me very far. Admittedly, that’s a struggle for me, but I’ve definitely been doing a lot better of late. And, most importantly, I want to be as proactive as I can regarding my health so I can see my daughter grow up.

I do attach some importance to the numbers I see on our scale. I am happy when I see that number inching down bit by bit, pound by pound. I don’t want to lose that much weight — between 5 and 7 lbs. — but I do want to lose it. When I weigh myself, it’s when I’m all by myself and Coraline isn’t there to see. Not because I’m ashamed or anything, but because I don’t want her to start attaching importance to the numbers she sees, certainly not at the tender age of 3 1/2. She just thinks the scale is this neat little thing to stand on in the hall bathroom. She has no idea what the numbers on it mean, even though I do.

Coraline healthy and confident in her own skin.

Coraline healthy and confident in her own skin.

*Rich and I never use the words “skinny” or “fat” to describe people. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t know exactly what those words mean.


Filed under being a mom, coraline, parenting, personal

Photoblogging: In the Shadows

Coraline tries hiding under the library table in my office (4/1/14). As much as I photograph her, she still likes to make me work for my shots.

Coraline tries hiding under the library table in my office (4/1/14). As much as I photograph her, she still likes to make me work for my shots.


Filed under coraline, photoblogging, photography

The Little Social Butterfly

Song Lyric of the Day:

(When it gets loud, I turn it up) / Shake it like a bad girl up in Harlem / (When it’s too hot, I light it up) / Ooh, light it up, yeah, smoke em if you got ’em

New Politics / “Harlem

The other day Coraline got an invitation to a friend’s birthday party, this one for a zoo extravaganza. That’s when it hit me: My 3 1/2-year-old has a more active social calendar than I do. Sure, Rich and I went to our friends’ baby shower this past weekend, which was a blast and where we made some good new friends. But that was one of our few and far between social engagements these days. Coraline, on the other hand, has been to a couple of birthday parties recently, then has two upcoming parties on consecutive weekends followed by her first ballet recital the following weekend. As for my and Rich’s social calendars, uh, well, we’ll be accompanying Coraline to two upcoming birthday parties on consecutive weekends followed by her first ballet recital the following weekend.

I do have to say, I’m proud that Coraline is nice, and well-behaved and well-liked enough to be invited to her daycare classmates’ parties, among other events. She’s also social to a fault. Just last night, Rich had to remind her that while it’s OK to say hi to and smile at people we pass or have brief encounters with, we don’t necessarily need to tell them our life stories. Let’s just say that Coraline is very well known by certain cashiers at Target, Barberito’s, and Trader Joe’s. She’s particularly fond of yelling, “I’ll see you tomorrow!” as we head out the door. After telling them what we’ve bought, where we’re going, who we’re going to see, and so forth.

Raising a confident child has definitely been at the top of my list as far as qualities I want to instill in Coraline, and so far, she’s got confidence to spare. It manifests itself in a love of performing (look for a Coraline-directed all-toddler version of Frozen coming to a playground near you in fall 2014), her imaginative play, her eagerness to make new friends everywhere she goes, even her at times let’s say unique fashion sense. So far, so good on the confidence front.

Now if I can just figure out how to help her retain her self-confidence as she grows older.

Who's a social butterfly? Why, little ole me!

Who’s a social butterfly? Why, little ole me!


Filed under being a mom, coraline, parenting, personal

Photoblogging: Rapunzelesque

"Look, Mommy! I look just like Rapunzel in the tower!"

“Look, Mommy! I look just like Rapunzel in the tower!”

Leave a Comment

Filed under coraline, photoblogging, photography

The Birthday Boy and the Ballerina

Song Lyric of the Day:

I just want you to dance with me tonight / So come on, oh baby / I just want you to dance with me tonight

Olly Murs / “Dance With Me Tonight

Tuesday night Rich, Coraline, and I celebrated Rich’s 40th birthday. It was a tiny celebration, just our little family, with a bigger celebration planned for the weekend. But we had to mark Rich’s big day on the day of. I made sure to preorder a German chocolate (Rich’s favorite) torte, since birthday cake at a birthday party is sacrosanct to Coraline, and we couldn’t have a devastated 3-year-old bringing down Rich’s birthday. And did I mention that German chocolate is Rich’s favorite? Coraline also insisted on having themed plates because, again, those are absolutely necessary for a birthday. I managed to find some Justice League plates to satisfy Rich’s request for Superman (he politely passed on Coraline’s suggestions of Woody or Buzz plates) and mismatched Avengers napkins since that was what was in stock. When Coraline and I picked up the cake, we also got a Mylar balloon that said “Happy Birthday” on it (she wanted to be traditional), a balloon which is now being moved around our upstairs by one very happy, oddball tabby cat. Coraline and I sang the birthday song, we tore into that cake, and Rich opened his presents.  All in all, I think it was a nice little celebration with just the three of us.

Can you tell who was most excited to be celebrating Rich's birthday?

Can you tell who was most excited to be celebrating Rich’s birthday?

Rich and Coraline pose for a birthday photo.

Rich and Coraline pose for a birthday photo.

Last night was a big night for Coraline (and us as well): her first ballet class. Technically it was a tap/ballet/creative movement/gymnastic class, since dance studios’ ballet season doesn’t begin until August. But to Coraline, it was all about the ballet; she’s been asking to take classes for months and now she’s finally old enough.

Ready to head to her first ballet class

Ready to head to her first ballet class

Of course, being old enough to take ballet doesn’t guarantee her paying attention to the teacher, which was a given. Despite her squirrelly attention span, though, she gave it her enthusiastic all. Plus, she was absolutely adorable to watch, as were her classmates — bright tutus everywhere.

Tap shoes on and ready to dance

Tap shoes on and ready to dance

Coraline enjoyed the class so much that she was actually pissed off when it ended and we told her it was time to leave. She sat down with her back to us, crossed her arms, and sulked. She brightened considerably when we told her she could go again. Now Rich and I just need to figure out which class schedule will work best for us.

Practicing making some noise with her tap shoes

Practicing making some noise with her tap shoes

At the end of each day, I ask Coraline what her favorite part of her day was. Some days it’s playing outside at daycare, others it’s hanging out with her grandma, doing artwork, or riding the train at the mall. Last night when I asked her that question, she smiled and said simply, “Ballet.”


Filed under birthday, birthday party, coraline, family, family time, personal, rich

Photoblogging: Natural

"Coraline, look at me. Smile! Act natural." Sigh.

“Coraline, look at me. Smile! Act natural. Natural.” Sigh.

Leave a Comment

Filed under coraline, photoblogging, photography

The Girl With the Curl

Song Lyric of the Day:

Curly, curly hair / How I love my  hair / How I simply want to brush my hair / I simply love my curly hair / I want to wash my curly hair

Hawkeye and Hoe / “Curli Hair

I have a daughter with curly hair, the kind of curly hair with Shirley Temple-like spirals, that garners her lots of attention. It’s almost become the stuff of legend at this point. I exaggerate, of course, but not by much. Because outside of visits with family and friends, I have yet to take Coraline anywhere and not have people comment on her hair. People either comment directly to us or we hear whispers along the likes of “Look at that little girl’s curly hair!” as we pass by. If we got a dollar every time someone comments on her hair, we would already have a year’s worth of college tuition. At least.

Wrapped Up

Coraline had straight hair fresh out of the oven.

When Coraline was born, she had straight jet-black hair, very strongly resembling my Mexican maternal grandfather. Once her hair thinned out (don’t you just hate how babies’ hair does that?) it grew back in lighter. I remember the exact day it started to curl: It was the day of her cousin Stephen’s second birthday party. Coraline was about 6 1/2 months old. At first Rich and I thought Coraline’s hair had just curled/kinked up due to the humidity; Stephen’s party was an outdoor one on an unusually warm April day. But then her hair never uncurled.

Coraline's hair at 13 months old, 6 1/2 months after her hair turned curly.

Coraline’s hair at 13 months old, 6 1/2 months after her hair turned curly.

We have yet to take her for a haircut. Not because we’re afraid she’d lose the curl — so many people say that happens with the first haircut — because her curl is genetic. She gets it from Rich, her grandfather, her aunt, other distant relatives. Her curl isn’t going anywhere. We’ve held off on the first haircut because we wanted to see how her hair grew. And now we know: It curls so much that when we wash it, Cora’s hair reaches almost to her waist. But the curl is so strong it immediately begins curling up again once water passes through it, same as when I comb it out.

My hair is naturally wavy, but nowhere near curly like my daughter’s. A good friend recommended a book, Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey, so I could learn how to manage Coraline’s hair. Because if there’s one thing I want for my little Curly Sue regarding her hair, it’s that she loves and embraces it — and knows how to manage it. The book defines different types of curls; I think Coraline’s hair type leans toward Corkicelli curls. It reminds you that curly hair is not supposed to be washed daily (we wash Cora’s twice a week, more during sweaty summers). It also tells about the best kind of hair-care products for curly hair (botanical based and sulfate free), which led me to the California Baby brand. We use their Shampoo & Bodywash, Calendula Hair Conditioner, and Calming Hair Detangler. Bonus: Since it’s formulated for babies/kids, it’s tear-free. Not that that matters to Coraline. When it comes to having her hair washed, she only very recently stopped screaming like she was being waterboarded.

Spring curls, April 2013

Spring curls, April 2013

One of my favorite things about Cora’s hair is how it holds its shape. And how it gets Gene Wilder crazy at the end of the day. She and I have a thing we do at bedtime: I take out her hair ties and barrettes and say, “Shake it out!” She shakes her head, knowing and enjoying how fluffy her hair gets. And while I’m not perfect when it comes to managing her hair, I try really, really hard to make sure she likes her hair, because I know so many women who don’t like their curly hair. A few have told me it goes back to their moms not knowing how to manage their hair. I’m trying hard not to be that mom, doing what I can to help Coraline and telling her all the time how beautiful her hair is (which, duh, it is). She’s really confident about her hair, and loves saying, “She has curly hair like me!” whenever we come across a girl or woman with similar hair. So, so far what I’m doing seems to be working. Fingers crossed that it continues to work.

Gene Wilder's tiny hair double.

Gene Wilder’s tiny hair double.

Now, when it comes to hairstyles that work with Coraline’s hair, well, that’s a work in progress. Another time, another post. Maybe.

See? Gorgeous curls, freshly washed.

See? Gorgeous curls, freshly washed.

Leave a Comment

Filed under coraline, personal, photography