Little Q will be 18 months at the end of January. I can't believe how quickly he's gone from being my little baby to being my little toddler. He's so amazingly sweet and loving. His hugs and drooly kisses are an absolute treat. He's developed well over the last 6 months since his last check up. He's incredibly tall and very "hefty". His teeth are almost all in and he uses them well, devouring all food in sight.
But there is one part of his development which has been less on track - his expressive language. It has become painfully obvious that there is something not quite right. Everyone kept telling me he'll grow out of it, or that all kids develop differently, or that one day he'll wake up talking in sentences. But here we are at 18 months and he has yet to say Mama. Or even Ma. Or even a variation on that theme.
He has a word though. UP. And he uses it in correct context. He can also say Dada, but not really with any context. He'll just repeat it to you if you tell him "Say Dada!" He has not used it in reference to his dada nor has he used it on his own without being asked to say it. He can also say "All Done" but it sounds like "Ah Duh". Also used in context.
He is also unable to repeat many sounds you ask him to make. Specifically ones that contain consonants. He can make vowel sounds, with no problem. But slip a consonant in and he doesn't even try to emulate it.
I've really really really tried to not let this get to me. I have. But it just slays me. I find myself communicating with him on a level that is that of an infant even though he is a toddler. I know he understands most everything you say, but when he says nothing in return, I find myself saying less. And using more gestures. And facial expressions. I know I should be doing the exact opposite but it's been hard.
He was assessed for the delay when he was 12 months and tested at the level of a 15 month old for receptive language but at an 8 month level for expressive language. They've ruled out autism. But that's about all. So far, they've only been able to assess that he's behind - not why.
They believe his hearing is fine, although I wonder sometimes how WELL he hears. I know he can hear, but is he hearing things as clearly as he could? I noticed something last night that I never really noticed before. His tonsils are HUGE. So huge that they almost touch in the back of his throat. So huge that they are about 3 times the size of Xaelen's tonsils. Could this mean something? I've scheduled an appointment with an Ear Nose & Throat specialist for next month. Perhaps they could shed more light on it.
In the meantime, I just plug along. I try and have him repeat words, sounds, syllables, anything - but he's just not that interested. I find myself sometimes wanting to cry. I feel like I've failed him somehow, but I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to be doing. With Xaelen, by 18 months, he was speaking in short sentences. He had an extensive vocabulary and repeated everything he heard. Quillan doesn't repeat anything. And his vocabulary I can count on one hand.
But then again, all kids develop differently and maybe I need to just step back and enjoy him for all of his wonderful attributes. But it's hard. I'm his mother and I want him to be the best he can be. So I just continue down this path and I wait to see where it will lead.
I'm really quite elated that 2009 is over. It wasn't necessarily a bad year. I got to go to NY. I got a raise. I got a holiday bonus. My kids grew. I didn't get divorced. I didn't have a nervous breakdown. I lost some weight.
Those were in no particular order, by the way.
But overall, this year was one I'd like to put behind me.
It's been a hard year. Financially, emotionally, mentally.
BUT... coming out of this year in mostly one piece makes me feel like I can tackle almost anything. I do feel wiser. More creative perhaps and certainly more motivated to make positive changes in 2010. So, if anyone cares, I'll share the changes I'm currently working on.
1) I've signed up for a class at a community college - I have a Bachelor's Degree, but I have to admit I miss college to some extent. I love learning new things, feeling like my horizons are expanding, and when you're part of the 9-5 daily grind, you sort of lose touch with that. So, I signed up. And this class serves a dual purpose. I'm actually learning something useful. It's an introduction to interior design class. Let me be clear - I don't want to be an interior designer, but I DO want to learn the basics - space planning, color coordination, that sort of thing. My house could use it!
2) I've ended my "job" of hosting international students. As much as I loved hosting, meeting new people, learning about their culture, and everything that comes with that - I've also really grown exhausted with the responsibility it brings. This year I'm attempting to eliminate excess in my life. Excess responsibilities specifically. I have enough on my plate working full time and being a full time mother and wife. I feel like a giant weight has been lifted from my soul!
3) I've begun the arduous task of de-cluttering my life. I've listed stuff on craigslist & freecycle and have about 12 bags of stuff going to charity. I've been clinging to this stuff for so many years thinking I'll "need" it someday, and you know what? That day doesn't seem to ever come! Instead the "stuff" just seems to multiply like gremlins. Enough already! This is all a work in progress currently, as I still have stuff in random large piles throughout the house (which is quite overwhelming to look at), but I know in the end I will be so thrilled to have done it.
4) I've committed to putting more time in to my disc golf game. I've been playing for about 5 years or so, but never really giving it my all. This year, I'm playing as much as I can. I've signed up for every tournament I could sign up for. In fact, I'm competing every single weekend starting on January 23rd through the end of February. I don't even care if I win, just the mere fact that I'm committing to something that *I* want to do, is fulfilling in itself.
Those are a start. I anticipate many more positive changes this year. So much possibility. Bring it on!
Sushi. It's one of those things that has to be done right. Fresh. Cut well. Expertly presented. I was hoping the sushi restaurant we chose would have all of those components and I was not disappointed. The Omakase that we dined on was fabulous. Each new course that arrived was beautiful and tasted divine. The black cod, the Spanish mackerel, all melted in my mouth. It was my first omakase experience and certainly lived up to the hype. A little dry hot sake made the meal even better. I was worried at one point that I may still be hungry when we were done eating, but when the last piece of sushi was almost a struggle to eat, I knew it was just the right amount.
The dinner was not only gastronomically satisfying, it was also enlightening. I realized that no matter how well manicured people's lives appear on the outside, we all struggle with emotional issues on the inside. This was both a blessing and a complete bummer to discover. On the one hand, it reassured me that I am not the only person around that deals with struggles. I am not a freak! On the other hand, it is saddening to know that others hurt. But I suppose that's just how life is - it's messy.
After licking our chops post dinner we headed out back on to the streets of Manhattan. It's amazing to me how alive the city is. It's electrifying. Everywhere we went, there were people. Everywhere. Times Square was the most fascinating eye candy. It's just a giant ocean of people. Moving in every direction. There was even a bleacher-like sitting area which was completely covered in people. Is that like an observation deck? The lights, the sounds, the colors. I was mesmerized. I remember being in Times Square my Sophomore or Junior year of high school, circa 1989 perhaps, and thinking it was a cesspool. It was darker, danker, and somewhat seedier. And now, it was like a glossy spread out of a magazine or a clip from some movie. Times change.
Eventually we made it back to our hotel for some cocktails in the lounge. This was the same lounge that I walked past as I checked in to my hotel at 7am and yet it seemed so much more inviting. The glowing fireplace encased in glass, the brown leather seating areas situated perfectly for intimate gatherings. It seemed to make so much more sense at 10pm than it did at 7am. Fireplaces glowing at 7am seemed a bit surreal. I opted to stay downstairs rather than going upstairs to change. I feared that the moment I would have stepped in to my room, I would have collapsed on the bed for some much needed sleep. Instead, I ordered a Caipirinha and made myself comfy on the couch. More talking ensued. An hour (or more?) passed and we were finally back in our rooms for some way overdue sleep. The bed was deliciously comfortable. I could have slept forever! And yet, at 8:15 the alarm made its presence known and it was time to start day 2.
Ok, let's talk New York. For those who are not in the know, I visited NY this past weekend. Alone. Without kids or husband in tow. And better yet, it was to meet women I had not met before. Does that sound like online dating for mommas or what? So Bridget, Joanna, Laura, Lindsay and I made plans to head out the Big Apple to meet up after years of following one another's pregnancies, birth of our May babies, blogging, facebooking and tweeting. The time had come!
On Thursday, I got off work at 5pm and headed to the airport to catch a quick commuter plane to LA and from LA I hopped on board an American Airlines plane (First class even!) to NY. Thinking I would actually get some sleep on a first class ticket is really just foolish on my part. It's not comfortable sleeping on a plane, regardless of what class your ticket is. So basically, 6am New York time rolls around, and I land at JFK. I am pretty exhausted, but so excited I don't really stop to think about it. I grabbed my luggage, caught a ridiculously expensive cab to Manhattan and checked in to our beautiful hotel. I had the whole day to kill, so I wandered around the streets for a good 6 hours, stopping to get a haircut and color, and shop at the various awesome stores. The weather was perfect. Sunny and clear skies. The pulse of the city was electric.
Now about the city itself. It's amazing to me that more pedestrians don't get killed. Seriously. They walk across the street regardless if the sign flashes green or red. They have somewhere to be, and gosh darned it, they are going to get there fast. And the cars are no better. They seem to ignore traffic rules and honking is like a national past time around here. Do drivers truly believe that honking the horn is going to somehow make whatever is happening happen differently? Or is it just pure letting off steam? Odd. We don't really do much honking in San Diego. But the pedestrians also had really nice shoes. All of them. In fact, everyone in NY just seems to be dressed so stylishly. Even casual clothes were well put together. And the shoes. The shoes were awesome! I tend to focus on people's shoes a lot, and in the city people wear great shoes!
So eventually it was close to 3pm and the ladies had arrived! I walked back to the hotel to meet up with everyone. I walked in to the hotel lobby and there they were. In the flesh. And they looked just like I had expected! Lindsay, the tall one with the sweetest voice and smile, Laura with the warm and calm demeanor and a cute curl to her hair, and Bridget as stylish as I expected with those beautiful green eyes I never noticed before. My insecurity was already starting to get the best of me as I felt hot, sweaty, gross and badly in need of a shower and nap. But this was the city! And we had stuff to do! A quick stop in the room and we headed out to grab a bite to eat and wait for Joanna to arrive.
We eventually made our way to Bryant Park where we stopped to grab cocktails and snacks at the Bryant Park Cafe. It was so lovely! Outdoors, comfy little chairs, a view of the park, people watching heaven. The cocktails were strong (as Lindsay pointed out a few times!) and the snacks were tasty. We talked about spouses, kids, travel, jobs, and everything else under the sun. The conversation flowed easily and soon Joanna arrived by train and joined us at our table as well. Joanna was much more smiley in person! And so funny! She had this awesome sense of humor that's peppered with intelligence and wit. I was begining to feel a little loopy at this point. I just hoped I was holding it together enough to maintain a coherent conversation. Did I mention I had also lost my voice at the begining of this trip? Hilarious. I go on this trip to spend my time talking - and here I am trying not to sound like I had swallowed some sandpaper.
Our time at the cafe was wonderful and soon it was time to depart and make preparations for our next outing - SUSHI! We headed back to the hotel to get ready. I was trying so hard to hold it together. I sort of felt like I was floating, not really grounded at all. Lack of sleep was really starting to catch up with me. But I'm a trooper! And I was really looking forward to Omakase from Sushi Gari in the Theater District. Bridget and I got the opportunity to shack up, so it was a sheer joy getting ready with her. I was so impressed with her ability to seem 100% comfortable in her own skin. I completely lack that ability, so I'm always in awe of those who are. She's sassy, confident, with great style and ease. My hero. Eventually, I got myself together, dressed and with makeup on and we made our way to the lobby to begin our evening activities.
I've started this post dozens of times over the last few months, only to get flustered with all the things that are swimming around in my noggin. There's been a lot of changes, ups and downs and general shenanigans going on in my (our) life.
As some already know, we host international students from all over the world that come to San Diego to learn English. It's been an amazing adventure doing this over the last 2+ years, but I think I've finally hit a point where we need a break. We've housed someone every day since then. Sometimes we have 1 girl and sometimes we have as many as 3. Some short term (4 weeks), some long term (1 year), but through it all there has been someone under our roof the entire time. So I'm taking a vacation from my hosting duties. Not sure for how long, perhaps a few weeks, perhaps a few months, but it will be nice to come home and cook for just my brood of 4. I may even take the extra leaf out of our dining room table. Ha!
The kids are well. Xaelen turned three in May and started his new preschool on September 9th. Quillan turned one at the end of July and is growing at record speed. He started walking a few days before his birthday, and he's zooming around with ease now.
And what about me... Well, I just returned from a whirlwind vacation in NY with some awesome ladies that I met through the magic of the interweb way back when I was still pregnant with Xaelen. We've known each other for almost 4 years through our blogs, facebook, twitter & the postings on babycenter's mom boards, but had yet to meet in person. There is so much to report about our trip that I'll post it tomorrow when I've had a moment to gather my thoughts. I just returned last night at 11pm and barely had a moment to get settled. Stay tuned though!
I didn't realize just how large Quillan is. I mean, he's big, VERY big, but I haven't been able to truly put it in to perspective until I looked at Xaelen's stats from when he was 18 months old. Quillan is the same size, now at 9 months, as Xaelen was at 18 months. 23 pounds, 31.5 inches. Holy Thunderthighs, Batman!
And he's not just heavy, he's TALL. He's just 4.5 inches shorter than Xaelen.
Although, not entirely surprising given how much this kid eats. He eats and eats and eats and eats. He will just sit in his high chair and open his mouth repeatedly like a baby bird. He eats everything too! Xaelen wasn't very fond of eating from an early age (and it hasn't changed much). Quillan likes ALL food! He eats soup, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, noodles, chicken, fish, you name it, he eats it. Although, there was one thing he NEVER wanted to eat. Baby food. You know, the kind in a jar. Smart kid, that stuff tastes nasty.
I'm trying to encourage Xaelen to eat more by telling him that soon he'll be the little brother and Quillan will be his big brother. He wasn't so sure that would happen.
"*I'M* the big brother, mommy. Quillan is the BABY brother". Duh. Everyone knows that. That kid is sharp. Can't get anything past him.