Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Haircut

I uploaded the photos in the opposite sequential order. Oh well. So here is what the new haircut currently looks like. Front view, most days worn air-dry, wavy-scrunch with a little mousse.
Straight version. I don't own a straightener anymore so this version doesn't happen often. Mr. Lo doesn't approve of photo-taking. I think that's what was going on in this shot.
The best part of this new haircut is the side story. I am frugal. The salon was going to charge an extra $20 to cut my hair because it was so long (crazy!). So the morning before going in to the salon, I stuck my hair in a ponytail, stood in the middle of my parent's kitchen, and asked my mom to hack off the hair at the nape of my neck. She obliged. The end result was actually pretty cute! This totally even, almost A-line cut that got me a compliment when I went into the salon!
And here are the "before" shots. Jerry is still in mourning. I sometimes miss my long hair. But mostly I needed the change. I had gotten to the point where I didn't do anything with it anymore except where it blah hanging down, or just whip it up into a ponytail.
Goodbye long hair! I'm sure we'll meet again someday.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Play Therapy Part 2

I need to upload some photos. Sorry for yet another (boring?) pictureless post. I am just having such wonderful epiphanies about Play lately, figured I'd record some more thoughts on the matter. Most of my thoughts are coming from this book. I love it! Agree with it 100%!
I used to get bored playing with my baby/toddler. There. Admitted it. There was something mind-numbing about doing the same simple activities over and over and over...though it was darling when baby giggled, I was shocked how much he seemed to crave repetition. And from an adult perspective, repetition quickly got monotonous.

Now that I have been learning more about the higher purposes of play, and developed specific ways to enhance Lo's play, I don't feel bored about playing with him.

Example of one higher purpose of play: Build feelings of power and security. Our move from Ohio to Idaho was traumatic for Lo. The several months prior to moving, we slowly gave away/sold most of our household goods, Jerry and I were pretty stressed about getting ready for the transition, and Lo Lo became noticeably disturbed about the whole deal. He had a personality change--temporarily became abnormally aggressive, needy, anxious, etc. After we moved to Idaho, it took more than a month for him to settle in. He wanted held most of the first week after we arrived. The first couple weeks, he would not let me out of his sight. After about a month or so, I remember feeling overjoyed when he started to explore around my parents' house on his own. And now, after three months, Lo seems like a happy, normal, well-adjusted toddler in every way.

Throughout the past few months, Lo became transfixed by the notion of "Home." He talked at least a dozen times each day about how "our house in Ohio got blown away." Frequently, he asked us tell him the story of the 3 Little Pigs, and then he re-enacted it, building forts and then knocking them down, and declaring himself to be the Big Bad Wolf who blew down houses. This type of play was helping him foster a feeling of power. Because he had felt so powerless during our move, helpless as his precious toys and beloved friends were snatched away, it was important for him to regain some sense of power.

But I was a little bothered by the dark ending of that play scenario. He blew the house down. The end. Enter my crucial role as a parent. I now make a conscious effort to bring a positive emotion to Lo's play. For example, we add themes of rescue to the darkness. Some of this Lo has done on his own, like in the previous post. But often, I need to make a statement that reminds him of the possibility of rescue. "Did those pigs get hurt when they were buried in the house? We need to build a hospital for them!" Lo excitedly gets to work with his blocks to build a hospital. This type of direction makes the play even more healing--replacing violence with aid. See why it is so important for parents to observe? To be present? To play with or near their children? I have so much power to enhance his play! To coach his development. Mostly he just naturally does this type of creative play alone, but I try to be in the vicinity to listen to his self-talk so I can observe themes, gain insights into what he is thinking, and give a nudge or two in different directions if needed.

Lo also loves the song, "The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock." For obvious reasons, he is again transfixed by the fact that the foolish man's house washed away. "Our house in Ohio washed away," Lo informed me multiple times. I am still not sure how to reframe this negative. But I just agree with him for now, "Yes, our house in Ohio is gone." But then I remind him all the things we were able to take with us: "Remember how the truck brought your baby mattress?" This is a lie--we left his toddler mattress in a dumpster in Ohio. But when we got to Idaho, Lo genuinely thought the new twin mattress we brought in the house for him was his bed from Ohio. "My baby mattress got put on the truck and came to Idaho!" So we went with it. And I remind him all his favorite toys that we still have, and that we are so happy to live with Grandma and Grandpa now, etc. Focusing on the positives.

One more story of cute play: last night, Lo found a package of these ties, and immediately got absorbed in what I could tell was a higher order of play. You know that look of intense concentration kids can get? He had it, a faint half smile, eyes relaxed yet alert. And his self-talk during this play session was precious! He kept saying, "I wonder what I going to build?" interspersed with frequent exclamations of "I can do it!" He was so pleased with himself. And guess what he built? Interlocking a dozen or more of these ties, he created, "A house for the Big Bad Wolf."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Play Therapy

I picked up a couple books at the library on the topic of Play. One of them was explaining how 2 year-olds need to use play to help themselves feel secure after they have had a traumatic experience.

A few weeks ago at Wal-Mart, Mr. Lo witnessed a display of bullying that was truly horrifying. Two adolescent girls smashed a young girl (a younger sister perhaps?) into a freezer kiosk using their shopping cart, so that the little girl was crying and writhing, her ribs caught painfully between the shopping cart edge and the freezer edge, trying to escape. She made verbal pleas for them to free her: "I'm getting smashed, it hurts!" she shrieked desperately. The older girls laughed cruelly. After what seemed an eternity but was probably just a minute or so, the little girl was able to run away. She was sobbing. I had tried to shield Lo's line of visibility, but he was noticeably distressed by what glimpses of the bullying he had seen and heard.

I felt sick inside, and just acted without thinking; I walked up and lectured the teens for a minute on how "if you MUST be mean, please don't do it in public where my two-year-old can see such a disturbing sight." Later in our shopping trip, we came across the same little girl again. She was still crying and whimpering, trailing along behind a woman who might have been her mother--but looked, in Jerry's words, "Like a homeless lady." Sort of unkempt. And the woman was snapping at the little girl to hurry up, not making any effort to comfort her that I could see.

Lo Lo ran up to the crying girl and gave her a hug. She started laughing through her tears, delighted to receive the hug. It was one of those heart-melting moments when I realized kids are my favorite (and teens are...well, sometimes great).

ANYway, back to the play therapy idea. I have been relieved to see Lo Lo working out and processing in healthy ways his own play therapy over witnessing the abuse scene. Every day, at some point in his pretend play, he causes one of his toys to get "mashed." And then he sends a rescuer. Normally the rescuer is a "tow truck" who lifts up the offending mashing object and frees the mashee. Lo Lo also prays every night for "that girl who got mashed, that she will feel better." I am comforted to feel like he will not have lasting scars.

Hooray for the self-healing power of a toddler's imagination.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Daylight Savings Spectacle

Mr. Lo has been napping late, going to bed late, and waking up late, thus keeping the whole cycle going. He has even tried skipping naps a few times over the past couple months, which then results in him crashing around 6pm no matter where we are, or what we are doing (as shown above). Daylight Savings time has thwarted even further my efforts to get Lo back on an early schedule. *sigh*

Did my email arrive too late? =/

Hello Senator,
I'm a fellow pro-life/anti-abortion citizen. But I feel a little sick about the abortion/ultrasound bill being discussed today on the senate floor. This bill reeks of emotional coercion toward women at a time when they need not persuasion to keep a pregnancy, but rather simple education regarding their options. Vast misunderstandings persist about the realities of the best alternative to abortion: adoption. Too many women get abortions simply because they do not feel ready to raise a child in a single-parent home. The research strongly validates their fears--kids generally don't fare as well in single-parent homes. I feel concerned that the abortion/ultrasound bill may contribute to some women ending up as hesitant, unwilling, unprepared single moms. Why not put more of your legislating efforts toward educating about and promoting ADOPTION rather than fighting abortion?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gratitude post #3 - Living People

Still moving along on my goal to record 100 thoughts of gratitude, the next part I'll share is 10 Living People I am grateful for. By the way, there are obviously loads more living people I am deeply thankful for but these happen to be the ones for whom photos were easily and quickly obtainable. So please don't be sad if you didn't make the list--you might even have been "higher ranked," than some I featured (that sounds, let's not think about ranking) but I simply wanted this to be a photo post. So anyway, disclaimer aside, here are 10 people I am thankful for in no particular order: My Mom. She is humble and able to laugh at herself. This picture is an example; she made friends with this refugee at a special community event, and as she was showing us photos afterward, she just busted up laughing and showing everybody how silly she looks in this photo. She really has a good heart and it has been a joy getting to stay with her the past couple months. She's a good friend of mine.
My bro Brandon. Another great humble person with a sense of humor that clicks with mine. I've always regarded Brandon as my sibling matchup. We get along well. Plus he speaks Chinese! I'm grateful he was able to help me connect with my in-laws when we visited HK last time. Plus also, I'm so thrilled for him that he recently got engaged!!! So I'm grateful for him because he is giving me a sister-in-law.
Sweet Husby Jerry. Best husband and father ever. Seriously, I married above myself. He is hard-working, handsome, makes me laugh every day, a spiritual leader in our home.
A living prophet. President Thomas S. Monson is the sort of man "who does what the rest of us only think about doing." (quote from his biographer) He has spent his lifetime in the service of God and it means the world to me to have the Lord's mouthpiece available to give me counsel and direction.
My brother Justin is serving a mission (just entered the field about a week ago after more than 2 months in the MTC). I am grateful he has an upbeat personality and is an example to me of finding joy in serving the Lord.
Grandma Ellie; my mom's mother. She is where my mom gets her sweet personality. Grandma Ellie knows how to pick just the right toys for Mr. Lo, and is the perfect blend of doting love mixed with wise guidance to all who come into contact with her.
Mr. Lo. He is pretty much the darling of the household, running everywhere he goes because of his zest for life. I am so grateful we didn't wait long to have kids, because what would life be like if that Lo was not here with us right now?? He adds so much depth and joy to my days.
My little brother David. This is a picture of Lo copying Uncle David, and I sure wouldn't mind if Lo contiues to copy his Uncle David for the rest of his life. David is such a basically good kid overall. He is 17 years old, a star athlete who once got into trouble for accidentally competing in too many varsity sports (crazy rules). He has been pretty much a straight A student his whole life, self-directed and talented. I'm grateful he has been a good sport about having Jerry, me, and Lo invade the home. He studies his scriptures every day and is a good example to me of working to be more Christlike.
Baby Ashlyn. I am grateful she is Lo's first cousin! She has an easy-going personality and it melts my heart to see Lo interacting with her.
My dad. I am thankful he has fallen into the role of grandpa so readily--he is Lo's best buddy these days. He is a tough guy with a soft heart. Here he is giving Lo a ride in his tractor.
Again, I want to reiterate how thankful I am for all the amazing people who bless my life, even those not mentioned in this particular post.