Bring it on palette expander

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This girl got a palette expander inserted into her mouth yesterday. The above picture was her happy face prior to the insertion. She asked a ton of questions of the dental assistant like what tools they’d use, would her tongue get in the way, when would she get her braces….. The assistant was great about answering all of them. Ri seemed relaxed and unconcerned about the procedure. She has expressed some worry the night before; she had heard from friends that it hurt. But she seemed calm and collected with me as she sat in the chair playing with her molds.
She showed me what her cross bite looked like and how the palette would help correct it. She knew more than Jon or I did.
The assistant took out her spacers and noticed two were missing. She became worried that the palette expander would not fit her because the space had not opened up between her teeth. Ri looked dejected.
“You mean I may not get my expander today?”
The assistant told her she’d give it a try and low and behold, with a little pushing and prying, they fit. The palette expander on the top covers most of the roof of her tiny mouth. The bottom is just a wire behind her teeth. The assistant told her that she’d have to take it out in order to put glue on it to keep it firm in her mouth. Ri pleaded “will you put it back in today?”
She was relieved to hear the assistant say yes.
And so the glue was spread on the expander and re-inserted in her mouth. She didn’t cry or flinch or scream once (meanwhile there was one little girl wailing in the next room – poor thing). Here are the after shots.

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My machine. She is unbelievable. Here I was fretting about having to cancel meetings in the afternoon because I thought she’d be hurting and beg to stay home but I should have known that would not be the case. I should have known that she’d crank it out like she always does with everything. She is my trooper-girl.
She sounds hilarious when she talks because she’s not used to the expander yet. She sounds like a two year old. But does she care? Not at all. She laughs it off and after trying to pronounce a word correctly for the tenth time, finally does. She pats herself on the back and smiles at me. Then tries another.
I adore this girl.

Act up!

I appreciate what the author of this article is trying to get across – don’t raise your daughter to be self conscious about her body. Tell her she’s strong. Let her know you run to be healthy. Inform her you do squats to climb mountains. Educate her to eat well to live a long time.
I don’t disagree, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to remind us of how important this is for our daughters to hear.
But damn if I don’t say those things over and over again to Maria yet she still looks at herself in the mirror at times and says “I’m too big.”
I stand behind her when I hear that and make her look at herself. “Keep looking,” I tell her. I look in the mirror with her. I talk about how strong she is. How she can pick me up because of those muscular legs. How her arms are able to carry loads of groceries in the house. How her booty pushes down on those bike pedals and makes her ride like the wind around town.
She smiles. She nods her head and hugs me. And I hope those affirmations strike deep into her soul and remain.

The other morning I walked into her room and noticed three barbies lying on the floor. One was naked with her perky boobs standing straight up in salute. Another had on a party dress up to her mid-thigh; her tiny legs the circumference of pencils. Another had on a bikini with a stomach that was not only flat but actually concave into her body like a tiny dip in the road.
Hmmm, I wonder where she finds evidence to make her feel “big.”

My mom got me the Dusty doll when I was Ri’s age. She had dull brown hair cut to her shoulders, size AA breasts, if that, hidden under a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and gym shoes. Yea, that explains a lot about me today. That Dusty doll made a lasting impression on me through my love of sports and hard labor and lifting weights and running shorts and gym shoes (put me near pairs of heels and nothing happens but put me near pairs of running shoes, and I salivate!)).

Ri has little rolls on her tummy. I catch her doing what I did as a young girl. Pinching the rolls with her two fingers as she lies in bed staring up at the ceiling. What’s she thinking? I remember feeling “if only I could get rid of these, I’d be as pretty as —-.” I grew up with MTV and with Charlie’s Angels. Madonna. Christie Brinkley. I remember wishing – with my like flat-chested girlfriend – of having big boobs and a tiny waist like the actresses on tv. Ri is growing up with Selena Gomez, Christina Aguilera, and tv shows with perky girls in fashionable clothes. Nothing has really changed.

I’m so thankful for the women that raised me. Through them, I saw that there were other qualities about a girl that mattered. I watched full-bodied women dance in flowing dresses without a care; I listened to women of all shapes laugh together at the dining room table; I witnessed intellect and debate shoot from the mouths of women in my home and in my school. These women weren’t hung up on their dress size – they were hung up on life and fully experiencing it. Amen sisters.

Luckily, a lot of those same women are helping me raise Ri. She’s bearing witness to many of the acts I bore witness to as a young girl. Amen again, sisters.

And so while I appreciate and take note of these articles that remind us to watch what we are saying to our daughters and how we are talking about our own bodies around them, I also need to keep in mind the importance of actions.

Buy the Dusty dolls and the science kits.
Dance around the house like an exotic butterfly.
Fix the kitchen drain with my own two hands.
Mow the lawn.
Jump on my bike with Ri and ride a trail.
Embrace my stomach and my butt.
Write a poem.
Lift heavy weights.
Flex my muscles.

Let Ri see, as well as hear, that no matter if you have lotsa rolls or just a few, who cares? Concentrate on simply diving into life and fully experiencing it.

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I think she’s getting it just fine.

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He will be just fine

I’ve been beating myself up all week.

Right blow.
Left blow.
Uppercut.

Mario experienced his first Boy Scout camp this week. It’s been a bit of a fiasco since we learned three days before camp that an adult needed to be with him at all times during the 8 am to 4 pm camp. Rack on another “crappy parent” notch to our belts since Jon and I could not take the entire week off to attend camp with him. That’s immediately how I looked at the situation. Jon is a little easier on us. His viewpoint is that we are working parents and we can’t do everything with our kids – we have a sitter that can do these things when we can’t. Real simple. I wish I could steal that gene that doesn’t harp on guilt.
But the problem arose that our sitter also has a two year old son who she tends to through the day along with Ri and Mario. Could we really expect her son to be good and stay by her side for 8 hours while she tended to Mario at camp? I spent the weekend trying to figure a way I could take off a day or two and Jon did the same. I also prepped our sitter about what may be in store for her and asked her to see if her parents could watch her son. I also convinced myself that Mario would probably dislike it any way and not want to go after Monday.

He loved it on Monday.

Jon was able to take him Monday morning, get him registered and acclimated and see him through some initial stations. Mario loved having him there. Our sitter arrived around 10:30 am and relieved him. Mario begged Jon to stay. He did not want our sitter’s son to stay (he’s been having a rough time with our sitter’s son all summer – it’s tough to go from being the youngest in the house to the middle child). But they survived until 4 pm. And he told me all the fun he had that night.
“But can you or dad stay all day tomorrow?”
Of course, the last two weeks have been reasonably calm and I could have gone in late to take Mario to camp. But this week was ridiculous with emergency matters left and right. I talked to Jon – who had to leave town at 5:30 pm Tuesday night – to see if he could take him again on Tuesday. He moved mountains but was able to do it. Mario was so happy. Jon stayed with him until lunch time. Our sitter relieved him at noon and that allowed her to only have to balance her son and Mario for four hours. A small victory. I had hoped to go out on Tuesday afternoon but could not break away from the chaos. It ate me up and pissed me off and I swore I’d get there Wednesday.
I pressured our sitter to find someone to watch her son on Wednesday so that she could be alone with Mario and give him complete attention. She was able to do so, which gave me a little sigh of relief. But I couldn’t make it over to the camp on Wednesday either due to the work madness. I didn’t get home until close to 11 pm that night and I stood at the kitchen counter eating ice cream from the package and staring off into space. I was tired and irritated and missing my kiddos. I walked upstairs to find Ri sprawled out on her bed like a teenager. I jumped on her and bear hugged her and kissed her cheeks and she laid as still as a sweet baby doll. I whispered a goodnight to Mario (who was staying with Patty) and went to bed.
Patty, aka our savior, took Mario to camp Thursday and Friday. What a godsend it was to me – to have peace of mind that he would be with her all day. She is close, if not at, the same level as Jon and I in Mario’s eyes. So he was in heaven at the thought of her attending.
But he did call me and ask if I could try to come so that I could watch him doing activities. That’s it, I thought, I gotta get up there if only for an hour. I struggled to get work done and got some help from my colleague in order to take off at 1 pm and head up to see Mario. I made sure to capture the look on his face as he walked up the path to greet me – pure joy and excitement. Damn, it feels good to be loved that intensely. I made it just in time to creek walk with him. Grandma joined, too. We learned about water creatures and clay rocks and crawfish. It was a wonderful time.

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Mario held my hand and walked with me. He gave me kisses. He laughed. It was well worth the effort to get out there.
In the end, all my worry and angst was unnecessary. I couldn’t see that in the moment but after a Mama Mimi’s pizza and some UDF ice cream on Friday night, I could see that 15 years from now, whether our sitter went with him or I went with him, he would turn out fine.
I continue to face the fact that I cannot “have it all.” I cannot always be with the kids when I want. I can’t always produce the most stellar work. Life gets in the way. Emergencies arise. Appointments arise.

When I give myself the space to accept that, life looks pretty good.

I work in a fairly flexible job. Some weeks are insane and some are slow. I get a lot of kid time when weeks are slow. Unfortunately, Mario’s Boy Scout camp was during an insane one. But I tried my hardest to take care of Mario by getting my sitter to go without her son, by working with Jon to flex his schedule, by asking Patty to go a couple of days, and by finding the most opportune time to get out and see him myself.

I shouldn’t be beating myself up, I should be hugging myself.

I think in the end, it is the knowledge that you are loved that helps a kid blossom. Mario feels love from all directions – parents, sitters, grandparents. He will be just fine. And I will, too.
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