Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holidays, in Our Style

Another Christmas came and passed.  Boy was it fun to have a break from work and focus on the family.  Mariano made duck that I got from an Amish farm.  It was delicious.  I made a squash soup, that didn't turn out well at all!  Since then, we've been playing with some of the new toys that family members got for the kids and enjoying hiding out in the house together.

- Nalini has taken to playing with dolls that she received for her birthday.
She is getting a temper too
- Kaio shat in the bath tub
- I'm getting and looking old
time goes faster the older you get

 -Kaio discovered his first icicle and we made our first snow man
- Kaio whines and it makes me crazy
- my stepmother complains about having to clean her 8 bathrooms
- missing mariano's family
- working from home and trying to make yogurt, but to no avail
- did you know that crock pots have lead in them?

- We got our first family chirstmas tree.  A potted one, so that we can plant it, or keep it in the house for years to come.  We only had two ornaments though, a little painted christmas tree and a popsicle stick rain deer that kaio made in daycare.
- christmas is about being with family and having fun together
- I've been making teas
- kids sat in the wagon and we all went for a wagon ride around the block

Since it was raining the day after we got the wagon, Mari fashioned a covered wagon from a tent, and we all climbed in to take a ride around the block.  Nalini was going nuts with excitement, but then she fell asleep.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Rocking Chair

Sitting in traffic for two hours, the day before a blizzard, and I was so pissed at a seven year old.  Or actually, I was pissed at myself for inconveniencing myself for a seven year old.  Friday morning, the weather report added more inches to the snow forecast every hour.  By 4pm, they were projecting 10-20 inches and everybody and their mother was heading to the grocery store for provisions.  I was more concerned with scoring a sled.  But, alas, there was a sled shortage in Northern VA and we were forced to try to improvise with large plastic storage bins.  We were not the only ones in the store with this idea.
So Friday at 4pm, in the mouth of the madness, I drove to Leesburg after work to buy a child rocking chair for Nala, because she keeps sitting on things wishing they were little chairs (like piles of shoes, pillows, and steps).  I know she just wants a little chair that is her size.  So, yeah, I drove half an hour West, past an outlet mall, the day before a blizzard, to meet a woman who posted her daughter's chair on craigslist.  And when I got there, it was one of those typical cookie-cutter fancy-smancy houses that popped up during the housing boom, like colonies of mold.  So the mom had four wild, out of control kids and an equally out of control dog.  One of the daughters proceeded to have a breakdown because I was taking her childhood chair while the son was rocking back in forth in it, outrageously, and then letting it topple backward.  Then the two other daughters were running in circles around everyone and knocking things over.  The mother didn't know what to do.  The daughter was very upset, and the mother tried to reason with her, "Madison, I am selling the rocking chair so that I can buy you new presents."  That helped for a minute.  Meanwhile one of the daughters runs up from the basement, "MOM!  Ashley peed in the plant because I told her to!"  The mom didn't even hear her, she was too busy trying to stop her son from breaking the rocking chair and trying to figure out if she should console her daughter or push on through the deal.  I was thinking this would be a pretty good preview to my life if I would have more kids.
I ended up insisting that the daughter keep the chair.  My grandmother gave me a little wooden rocking chair when I was a baby.  She embroidered zoo animals on the seat.   Now, it breaks my heart that I don't have that chair to give to little Nala.  My dad gave it away to charity along with every single other relic of my childhood when he moved into a new home with his new wife.  I was away at college on the other side of the country.  So when I asked him about the chair, he said that it must be around somewhere.  I searched his whole mansion.  No chair.  But, I did find our old projection tv, and an old 286 computer.  He saved a freaking 286 computer, but he didn't save the hand embroidered rocking chair that his dead mother made for his baby daughter!  It sunk my heart, thinking of how my dad valued his toys over his family, or how much more value he put on commodities than heirlooms.  If I made him feel guilty for not saving it, then he didn't show it.   Dinner was just as normal, and weird, as always.
Since  then I haven't stopped thinking about that little rocker, and so when the girl was crying to keep her childhood rocking chair, and the mom was feeling really torn because she knew how far away I had driven to pick it up.  I told the mom it was ok, hoping that Madison would save it for her daughter someday.
That was my opinion until I got stuck in traffic on the way out of Leesburg!  Then I was cursing the spoiled brat.  I had even taken the Green Way to get there - a $5 toll!  And because of an accident on the road I missed the first hour of Kaio's Christmas Party.
But then the next day it snow-stormed: Blizzard of 09.  I made a post on Freecycle, asking for a rocking chair "pick up in shine or snow".  And I ended up with two responses and two perfect rocking chairs, so now Nalini has a place to sit downstairs and upstairs.  Boy does she love it!  When she first saw the chair, she ran over to it and looked at me with this huge smile and a look in her eyes that said "Really? a chair just for me?!" it was so cute.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nalini's Birthday Party and Postpartum Reflections

She has turned a year old and the days are whizzzzzzzzing by like an express train.  As her personality develops, I feel that I am starting to fall in love with her.  I know that this is going to sound bad, but when she was born I didn't feel as tight a bond with her as Kaio and i didn't find myself enamored by her sweet littleness and cuteness.  I thought she was funny looking.  I used to have these sick and disturbing fantasies: like that maybe I would never grow to approve of her and then she would grow up always trying to gain my respect and love, only I would never truly love her and she'd live with the self esteem of a child rejected by their mother.  I even looked on the internet to see if other mothers ever had these thoughts. Only I didn't know exactly where to look or how.  What, could you google: "Don't find my second baby as beautiful as my first child"?  When she was a really little baby and mariano would hold her, she would cry for me, but i felt I didn't deserve her love and desire. I think I even resented her for taking up my time that I could be spending with Kaio.  It was just heart wrenching.
I never showed my feelings to her.  And I showered her with kisses and hugs and sang to her and carried her everywhere with me in my arms.  I just kept hoping that if I went through the actions then she would grow on me and she wouldn't know the thoughts I was hiding.
Well, she is a year old now and i know that things have changed.  She has this cute little smile and laugh.  She is such a sweet and easy child, and I would do anything to make her smile.  She loves to be held, to dance, to hide in her tent, and copy adults.    She still sleeps right next to me every night with her little head nested against my armpit.  and when she wakes up and starts playing and walking around she does so with calculated determination and innocent curiosity.  I have to look at her with wonder and love.
So my new task is to find things for her to play with.  I've realized that all our toys are Kaio toys, and she seems to have a distinct personality.  She likes to sit on things (pillows, piles of clothes or shoes) so I need to find her a miniature chair.  Her nanny got her a doll for her birthday and she seems to like it.  I didn't even think about ever getting her a doll.  That seemed so girly, but she likes it.  Well aren't I too much of a tomboy feminist.
Anyway.  I hope that someone who is having similar post partum feelings as I was can read this post and know that the feelings will pass.  You will love your little baby soon.

It doesn't hurt to get some alone time every couple years

After a tremendous all-family-members-on-deck tickle fight, we got to enjoy a date night out on the town thanks to a surprise offer by my mom to watch the kids.  Though we were feeling unprepared for spontaneity *chuckle* and a Friday night curled up on the couch watching the History Chanel sounded better than trucking it through 0 degree wind to a loud bar for a couple drinks.  But, we took her up on the offer to babysit the sleeping children after we put them to bed.  That means that we left the house at 10:30 and got to DC, parked, and in the first club before midnight (way past my bed time)!  Why did we drive all the way into the city?  Mari suggested that it would be fun.
And it was :).  We started off the night listening to live music at a practically deserted jazz club.  When the singer sang No Woman No Cry with her melodic, raspy voice, I was in a blissful, calm and romantic state of mind. How rare to have all three feelings at once.  Then when the band's set ended, we walked next door to the dance club Heaven and Hell.  The lower level was rap or gogo, the upper level was trance or techno, and the middle level was dance hall or regga.  We danced and danced and it was so fun.  I especially loved the 'regga,' that's what Mariano called it, but I'd never heard it before.  It was like a mix of Reggae and Dub music.  After tiring ourselves out we finished the night with a couple multicolor dressed falafels from Amsterdam Falafel House.  The shop has a fixins bar filled with a variety of different color and flavor adornments for your falafel.  And their pita is organic.  It reminded me of an aurevedic meal.  Because there were so many colors and flavors: pickled beats, purple cabbage, baba ganoush, garlic sauce, curried cauliflower, so many colors!
So we had a great night and what made it extra special and fun was that we were in Adam's Morgan.  You see we used to live there before I got pregnant and we moved to the suburbs.  So we had a great few months of heyday going to the clubs together, dancing, listening to live music.  It was nice to recreate those times.
Then when we got home both of the kids were in our bed.  We curled up with them and woke up together.  Some of the best times are just playing around with the kids in our little bed room, but it doesn't hurt to get some alone time every couple years.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An unschooling weekend

Things aint so bad really.  I was looking over some of the last posts and they are a bit disturbing and intense.  Sure, mari's care got stolen, but we are really not that troubled by it.  I guess this demonstrates how unattached we are to material items: the car was filled with stuff and as each day passes I remember something else that was in there.  Today I realized the earrings that Mari gave me to wear on our wedding day were in there.  So sad.  He came up with a little proverb about how fingers die but metal endures, or something like that that didn't make sense to me.  But it seemed like he was trying to say that they were just a couple pieces of metal and nothing more, so it will be ok.

So with all the credit cards cancelled, we have been planing well to ration the food we have.  It is a good exercise in moderation and premeditation.  It is also timely, because with Mariano's cousin visiting from Brazil last month, we started going out to eat to show her the glorious varieties of delicious cuisine available in our region.  Now we are being forced to kick that habit.

The house looks great with our new floors.  Plus, Kaio has not been coughing, which is the most important thing of course.  I hope that it holds up, we'll see if he starts coughing again after the new year, that seems to be when he usually gets sick.

I have been trying out some unschooling techniques, since one of my HMN friends sent out a blog post about unschooling philosophy.  hmmph. though I think that Kaio maybe a little too out of control, immature, wacky, or something for it.  I've been letting him make his own decisions and have more control over things all weekend and... well I wouldn't say that I've seen much progress.  He wore his Lightning McQueen sneakers out in 6inches of snow instead of his boots:  result = wet shoes.  He didn't go to sleep until almost 11pm and he was exhausted.  Then on Sunday I made pancakes for breakfast, but he wanted cereal: result = processed food instead of healthy fresh food.  He also was super whinny in the afternoon, but he may have just been tired.  I was really trying to be a good unschooling parent and say yes to everything and find teaching opportunities in every situation.  But sometimes Kaio doesn't know what he wants or he changes his mind, or he drags me all over the place.  It seems like the more I give him what he wants, the more he wants things and the more whinny he gets.  I think, like all of the ways to be a parent, I have to pick and choose what works for us and not be extreme in any parenting style to the point where I'm unflexible.
Nalini has started smacking her lips when she wants food.  It is so cute, and a great way for her to communicate with us.  She also started doing some hand signals too, like milk and drink. Kaio and her play together sometimes and it is super cute.  Today we were walking down the sidewalk together.  I was holding one of her hands and Kaio the other.  She was so proud of herself to be walking in step with everyone and her big bro.
So things have been going pretty well :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A story of life bringing out so much

Bad things, when they happen, make you feel a rush of something different, something unusual.  Feelings of any sort, whether good or bad, are experiences and these make up life... remind us that we are alive.  Without the bad, we would not notice the good.  And without any of it, we would not notice that we are alive.
So much has happened in the last week.  My mom had a car accident, relatives came and went, we got new floors installed in our home, and then this morning Mari's car and wallet got stolen.  To make it worse, today was the last day of the month, the busiest day of the month and he had to work late.
So tonight I was alone with the kids.  I went to mom's to pick up my bicycle so that Mari can get to work and left the kids there while I went to inflate the tires, stuff the bike in the car, drop of the bike at home.  Then I started freaking out, what if the thieves come back to the house (they have the key).  Paranoia sits on my shoulder as I take out the trash from the last week.  This was depressing: feeling scared and alone in the dark, wishing Mari was around, and then feeling pathetic for needing him.  When I got back to mom's to pick up the kids and take them home Kaio did not want to come.  But then he did.  But then he didn't.  He did not know what he wanted.  I made the mistake of giving him a choice.  He was so torn, crying because he wanted to stay with grandma, and then crying because he wanted to go with me.  The thought of putting the two kids to bed was exhausting: changing Kaio's diaper while Nalini tries to eat lint off the floor of the bathroom, nursing Nalini to sleep while Kaio fidgets and whispers things.  It is tough, and I wasn't looking forward to it, so when Kaio was crying to stay with gramma I said, "OK, you stay with grandma. (period)"  and I turned the car around and dropped him off at the door.  "Here, you take him, he doesn't want to come with me."  she hugged him, and he looked back at me with eyes that pierced my heart.  His look said: I don't know what I want, I'm just a kid, why don't you want me, I'll go wherever I'm wanted.  I went back to the car where Nalini was and started to drive home.  But there was a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I ran back inside mom's house to check on him "He's fine, go home!"
The look haunted me the whole ride home.
I was able to nurse sweet Nalini to sleep easily, and then started getting Kaio's lunch ready.  I couldn't stop missing him... and feeling like I had made a mistake in bending to his tired and cranky whim.
Then there was a knock on the door... It's Kaio!  - "He was fine for a while, but then he wouldn't stop crying for you and saying I love my mommy" mom said.  oh I was so happy to have him back.  Big hug and time to get ready for bed.
How do you make a kid understand that it is hard being an adult, and that sometimes we feel sad and overwhelmed?  We can't always be 100%.  And sometimes - a lot of times - I feel confused too.   Actually I'm continuously realizing that I am not much more mature than Kaio.

Monday, November 23, 2009

So that others may simply live

My lastest struggle involves discovering how to channel my energy to save the world from some thing.  And as if to drive a nail into my latest fixation, the newest Netflix movie arrived on Friday: Blood Diamond.  Then, for some reason the kids actually went to bed early and easily so we got to watch it.
I don't believe that mothers are supposed to watch drama, or horror, or anything but comedy and cartoons.  Because already, 10 minutes into the film, I am crying as a fisherman is captured by a rebal army after he saves his wife, children, and baby from being masecured.  I was imaging us in that little grass hut.  And just like everything sad I hear on the news, I disovle with thoughts of pain.  I'm so freeking sensitive now that I'm a mom!  Or maybe I'm a wuss.
Anyway. the movie is about the diamond trade's funding of civil war in Africa.  It seems that the real message is: stop buying diamonds!  There are a couple sceens that touch on the obliviousness of Americans to realize or care about how their actions affect people in other countries.  There is one part where the fisherman is asking a reporter if her story will make the Americans come help them (Africans) and she flat out says, "no."  We may donate a little money to a foundation, but majorly change our ways to stop the sloughter of people in Africa, not so much.  This movie was similar in message with some of the other really good Africa films: The Constant Gardner and Hotel Rwanda.  These films also show the major impact that first world countries and big industries play in exployting the African people. 
After watching the movie, I asked mari what I should do to save the world.  To which he pointed out: that you can't save the world until you save yourself.  to which I responded that: that sounds like an cop out excuse to sit on the sidelines as people suffer.
So now I'm trying to figure out what I can do to help, other than just give money.  I realize that African problems necessitate African solutions; we cannot impose our world view on other cultures.
Then today on the local NPR station there were stories of hunger and homelessness in DC.  In every direction you look there are problems.  I feel so lucky to be safe and warm and well fed.  Looking at Kaio and Nala, playing together, running up and down the hall cracking up laughing, I feel really lucky.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

11 Months: the sweetest age

She lives to laugh and pass along joy.  Every gram of her soul exudes sweetness.  She intends no maliciousness, and does not play any 'mind games'.  Every action originates in pure curiosity or amusement.  When I look at her, I understand the definition of innocent.  And when I look at her I shower her with kisses and hugs.  The thought of anything bad happening to her, of any pain, is completely beyond my mind's ability to handle.
Do poor children in Africa act like this too?  Yes, yes, I bet they do.  Looking at her pure soul, untouched by the pain and complications of understanding the real world; I imagine that all children must go through this stage.  For a second, that is a comforting thought: that all famlies share in this special feeling and step.  I feel solidarity with the other mothers of the world.  But, then the thought that maybe some children don't have it so good, clouds my mind.  I envision a little child in Tanzania, walking around a simple mud hut, wanting to smile, but feeling hungry.  I don't want to image Nala hungry; she would cry.
She innocently plays with whatever new thing is in front of her, exploring every little thing, analysing it with her fingers, trying to taste it.  Everything is exciting, "oh what's this?  fuzz, I can hold it, but it is soft.  not a solid or a liquid"  "Oh what is this? sour, tangy, wet, yellow."  She started walking and she gets so proud of herself as she wobbles from one side of the room to the other with a HUGE smile across her face.  She giggles at the most unsuspecting things: Kaio picks up a handful of leaves from the ground.
Do children in Iraq get to enjoy the joys of exploring fuzz? of tasting a lemon?
It becomes clear that this is a crucial stage, a stage where she is not meant to endure any suffering.  That would taint her innocence.  And then she would be sad, and scared, and hurt.  I don't want to let her feel those things yet.  If I could only protect her from it all a little longer.  But what if I couldn't?  What if something happened that was out of my control to hurt her?  How awful would that feel?  How do the other mothers do it, living in war zones, or areas of suffering - living with a learned helplessness.  Where does the survival instinct fizzle out to?  How do they carry the burden of keeping their children safe from harm?
When Kaio was this age there were multiple nights when I couldn't sleep, thinking about the children in Iraq, and feeling completely helpless.  I wanted to reach out to them, tell them, "I care about you.  I'm sorry that you have to live in a war zone.  I'm sorry you're scared.  I want to help you.  I want you to be happy and safe and loved."  Crying at night, putting Kaio to bed, in comfort, warmth, and security.   I felt guilty for having it so good, and was imagining pain, the pain of children.  It was unbearable.  Now, with Nalini, those feelings are rushing back.
I dealt with it then by channeling my energy toward collecting toys to send to children in Iraq.  Mari kind of gave me the idea.  I found a officer who founded Operation Joys for Toys and sends trucks full of toys for soldiers to distribute to children in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I posted signs for donations at my office and also on freecycle (even though you are not supposed to do that).  It was a bit of work, but I ended up with 10 boxes or so of used toys and supplies to send there.
So maybe it is time for me to find another cause.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chocolate Rose Goji Berry Tea on a Lazy Friday Night

Friday night at home with a cup of tea, relaxing, and it feels so good!  The kids are asleep after a full Friday.  Today Kaio went to daycare with Nalini because he wanted to go to "Terri's House."  Terri is the lady who used to take care of Nalini when I worked in Tysons.  Now I only take Nala there on Fridays.  She gets to play with the other kids and keep in touch with such a sweet and loving lady.  Kaio has gone with me occasionally over there when I needed to pick her up.  He really likes all the cats: she has 6 cats, and a fish tank.  So last night I told him that we'd be going to Terri's tomorrow (to pick up Nalini).  Well this morning when he came in our room the first thing he said was, "I want to go to Terri's house."  I couldn't believe that he remembered all night.  So I called her and asked if it was ok to dump him off with Nala.  Then I called his daycare and told them that he was spending the day with Mari (I didn't have the heart to say that he wanted to go to a different daycare).
So Terri said that he was really good and a sweet well behaved little gentleman who did everything that she asked.  She was either being nice, or obviously this was the Honeymoon Period.  Sure, he is super sweet, especially when I'm not around; I guess I bring out the whinny rambunctiousness in kids.  When I went to pick him up, no surprise he started climbing on the couch and trying to scale the window.
The cutest thing happened when I was trying to leave with him to go to the chiropractor and leave Nala with Terri until we came back.  As we were putting on the coat he kept insisting, "get the baby, get the baby, mom"  I tried to explain that we would come back for her, and that semi-worked, until we got out the door.  Then he started crying for her and he even started banging on the door "mom, get the baby, Mom the baby!"  Oh, so I said "ok, I we'll take the baby to Dr. Park with us."  thinking - after all, she is the easy one and never causes trouble and delay.  So we went inside and Terri was holding Nala.  Kaio started saying "Terri, that's Mom's baby.  Give the baby to mommy.  That's mommy's baby."  It was so cute.  
I'm glad that we took her because it was easier than going back after the appointment and I got to hang out with the sweetie.  She is all about walking now, all over the place, with a big PROUD smile :D. Then when we got home Kaio threw a little bottle of essential oil in the air and it hit her in the head and she cried.  He had to go in time out for that and he cried.  We went to the gym to take showers. Yes, that is the easiest way to take a shower because there is childcare.  And Kaio loves it because there are things to climb on, and Nala loves it because there is lots of space to walk.  Then we braved a late night (8:30pm) trip for Japanese food.  Kaio started crying when his yakisoba was taking to long.  I thought we were ruining the date nights of some couples.  Then the yakisoba came and he spent the rest of the time stuffing his face with chopsticks and his fingers.  Nala was happy to pop edamames in her mouth the whole time.  We ate tons of food and made a big mess.
Now they are both so completely spent that it was the easiest bedtime ever!

Here are some photos from a nice weather walk by our house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When you become a woman

"When you become a woman is when people come out of your vagina and step on your dreams" - Louis CK
My friend tweeted this earlier today.  I'm not sure exactly why.  He is not a woman, and he does not have kids.  Maybe he just thought it was a funny quote and wanted to share.  Or maybe he wanted to celebrate his childlessness.  This tweet came the same day as I read an article in Brain Child magazine that made me cry.  The article, about a med student with four children, is in direct defiance of the quote by Louis CK, but it does talk about the struggles of following your dreams after having kids.  Especially when we live in a society that does not easily lend itself to  going to school after you have had children.  Although I'm not sure if there is any society in the world that does.  Maybe it is an utterly un-natural thing to divide your attention between your dreams and your children?  Maybe once we have children, we are meant to drop everything about ourselves and totally focus on growing them?  Isn't that the meaning of becoming 'selfless'  and isn't having children a selfless act?  
Right after Kaio was born a friend of mine with a girl 9 months older than Kaio came over to see him and congratulate us.  The first thing she did was hand me a bottle of Johnson and Johnson baby gear and said, "Here this is for Kaio, you will never be you again, you will from now on always be Kaio's mom and everything in your life will revolve around him."  I know it sounds a little extreme in retrospect, but at the time it sounded cute.  Give up on having any notion of time for yourself or doing something for yourself, because now it is all about him.  And, for a long time I think that it was, and maybe it really still is but I have found ways to work in a few splashes of my desires into Kaio's life.  I mean, I used to love taking long showers.  Well, for over a year I could not/did not take them anymore, there was just no time.  But then I learned to bring Kaio in the shower with me, so my long shower was Kaio's bathtime and our quality time.  
I've also realized that I can't be a good mom without taking care of myself.  The article really touched me.  I related to this woman's desire to pursue her dream of being a doctor despite having children.  And that she thinks they may have even helped her cope with some of the difficulties in understanding life and death and growing up.  In the end of the article I think I cried because she made me think that maybe I should be doing things differently.  The article brought my own life insecurities out of the wood work again.  This will be something that I am always working through, but I need to be comfortable with my path in life and more self confident in general.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Got the good stuff

I took a break from work today to go to Whole Foods and purchase some healthy snacks for Kaio to take to day care.  I had five things to find replacements for:
1. Pudding
2. Yogurt
3. Rice Crispy Treats
4. Nutritional Bars
5. Apple Sauce
But I've also seen her give them cereal (lucky charms) and chocolate chip cookies.  So I got some things to replace that stuff and everything that I got is gluten and dairy free.  I'm not sure why I chose to stay away from gluten.  I'm wondering if maybe gluten and dairy are bad for hyper kids.
It was a step in the right direction.  It is better for him to eat "organic" versions than the ones with high fructose corn syrup.  But, even after today's adventure to the organic snack section, I'm not feeling like this is the best solution.  I'm still uncomfortable with these non-expiring snack products that are created off in some factory, then put in little foil packages.  It is so WEIRD how they don't go bad for months to years.  I think that I am going to do another switch out with something else once we eat through these items.  I'm going to have to do some more soul searching to find something better.  I was thinking that something completely free of grains (hunter gatherer style) would be best.  But that leaves only dried fruit and nuts, I  think.  Dried fruit is bad for your teeth, and nuts are bad for your intestinal bacteria unless they have been properly soaked...  But, maybe they are still better options than cookies.  damn it's so confusing!  Maybe because nothing should be absolute, and everything is bad in excess.  It is all about moderation.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

how Endearing

Every night when i put Kaio to sleep I tell him three stories: the princess and the frog, the three bears, and the boy who cried wolf.  Don't ask me why I chose those, they just happened to be the ones that I remembered.  But I really have no affinity to them at all and wish that I had been more prepared with something cool and hip and funky.  But i just wasn't that quick on the draw, so now he is hooked on the boring fables and he asks for them EVERY night! Well, he has just started to tell them back to me.  It is so cute.  "Once upon a time princess lived castle by da lake. play with the ball.  dropped it in the lake.  Oh No!  she cry.  Frog said, 'i get your ball for you promise kiss.' 'Okay.'" etc.  It is super cute.  He also sings Miss Susy had a Steam Boat.  It's good that his vocabulary has progressed so much because he was very slow to start talking.  Another cute thing that he says is "Wiggle Wiggle."  He used to say "SayGoodBye" all the time.  But now he totally forgot his obsession with that phrase.
Nala has just started to babble.  She says "Mamamamamamama"  oh its so cute.  She walks too now.  Everyday she gets more expressive.  I love it and she is winning over my heart.  Plus she is so much easier than Kaio was.  She sits and plays in one spot if you put her there.  She smiles and interacts with you.  She is also happy to sit at the table and feed herself.  It's so sweet to see them both sitting there in each others company, eating like two little dolls.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Doing some dietary soul searching

At this turning point in my life as a self sufficient adult and mother, I have intense responsibility to be making smart and educated dietary choices for my family.  The problem is that this day in age sooo many people have opinions on what is proper nutrition, and what is healthy today may be unhealthy tomorrow.
I was vegan for 7 years.  And I sure felt like that was the most healthy thing for me at the time.  But, as I read more about Weston A Price research, and I think to all the issues with my teeth, I doubt my past choices.
Will I eat meat? will I eat dairy?  It's all up in the air now.
I attended a presentation on pediatric chiropractic care tonight and the experts in attendance were pretty anti dairy.  Damn, and just a day after I ordered my first gallon of Raw Milk and was so excited about it!
oh what to do??? I'm going to need to go meditate about this one.
I think the healthiest that I have ever been was when I was traveling in Peru on Mancora beach.  I ate mangos, ceveche, and rice every day and had the most regular, greatest looking and smelling you-know-whats ever.  But then I also had an ear infection, so maybe I wasn't that great...
yup I'm really going to need to go meditate on this.  But first I have to fix Kaio's lunch.
In the mean time: here is a picture of the vegan carrot cake with tofu coconut frosting. no sugar (just maple syrup), and fresh ground whole wheat flour that I made for Kaio's third birthday party.  He loved it because it was a fruit train.  It is so great to have an excuse to be artistic!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Parenting a "Spirited" Child

It has been really tough trying to figure out how to discipline Kaio effectively.  Sometimes I feel helpless to control him.  And even when I have him under control I feel like that grip can be lost at any moment.  He is consistently testing his boundaries and then he also wants to control of himself.  Today Mariano said that we have to tame him.  I don't like that word because it makes me think of breaking the spirit, but i understand what he means.  Kaio's newest thing is - putting himself in timeout.  He does it now as soon as I ask him to do something that he does not want to do. "Kaio, go sit in your chair so you can have some breakfast."  "No!  I don't want to sit in my chair! NOOOO!  I go time out!"  Then he goes and sits down some where and folds his arms across his chest and puffs a big matter-a-fact humph.  Yesterday when he did this he decided to put himself in timeout on the dryer.  He opened the side door and climbed on the ledge and sat on the doorway ledge.  But when he tried to cross his hands and do his humph-thing, he fell backwards into the drier!  Then he couldn't get out and I had to come over and give him a hand.  IT was so freaking adorably cute that I wish I had a camera to show the video to all the future girlfriends he brings over for dinner.  After I helped him out of the drier he forgot why he was upset in the first place so that was good.

I know that this behavior is his way of trying to maintain control over his place in the world.  He thinks that if he puts himself in timeout before I do, then at least it was his decision and not mine.  I always make an effort to give him choices so that he maintains some control over the situation.  But there are sometimes when he just needs to listen to me.  ugh.  Today while I was baking his birthday cake for tomorrow's party, I made him some risotto for lunch.  The rule was that he could eat OR take a nap, and once he was done eating we would go take a nap.  So, he tried a little and then started demanding mac and cheese.  But nope, this is what we have got.  He threw some of the rice on the floor!  That really upset me because I was in the kitchen all day getting things ready for his birthday party and making cake for him.  Then he totally disrespected the lunch that I made him.  I yelled and when I told him to pick it up - he refused, and then I picked him up and took him upstairs to bed.  He was crying.  In bed I explained why I was mad.  He said, "I feel bad"  and was so sad.  I just wanted to hold and hug him.  I know that it is a difficult age for him to understand the world and deal with being so little.  But why can't he just do what I say, dammit?
Sometimes I feel like I must be doing things wrong.  Like today, we went to a Halloween party, and Kaio was off the wall and scattered compared to the other kids.  They all seemed so good and well behaved.  Mariano ended up carrying Kaio out of the party crying because he didn't want to leave.  I am sure that none of the other kids cried like that.
So I keep wondering, is it my parenting approach that is wrong?, is it just his personality?, is it his diet?, is it normal?
My mom said that I was so much worse.  She says that we are doing so good with Kaio.  But I'm not convinced.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shame on Me

 This morning I did the ultimate worst thing, proof that I am the worst mama ever.  I forgot to send Kaio to daycare with his Halloween costume for their Halloween parade and celebration.  I leave for work earlier than Mari and Kaio do and I should have left the costume by the door so that Mari could have taken it with him.  But I forgot, even though I reminded myself a million times before falling asleep.  Kaio must have felt so left out when the other kids came dressed with their parents.  Luckily the daycare lady had an extra dress up spider man costume that he could wear.  But still, I feel so inept.  This is a repeat offence because last Wednesday I forgot to send him to daycare with an item for show and tell too.  I just don't know how the other parents do it, and I feel so lame.  He is supposed to be the most important thing in my life but I can't seem to keep on top of my responsibilities.  This weekend is his birthday party and I would be very excited, but I'm a little overwhelmed because I was hoping to go to a Halloween party too and I'm not sure how I'm going to have time to make food for that and Kaio's party.  Well, I guess that's not something I can really complain about because life can't be too bad when you've got parties to attend, that's for sure!

Entering the world of Culinary eXtreme Sports

I threw all the stragglers, I mean everything, in to the blender and hit grate: eggplant from the garden, a green tomato, leftover pasta sauce, a brussel sprout, a quarter block of cheddar cheese, even a lonely hamburger (why not?)  everything in the blender and it formed a orange mush.  Perfect color, but the taste was really weird.  I then made a box of Lightning McQueen pasta and mixed the mush in, and presto: Mac and Cheese!  Mariano said it tasted bad so I added a butt load of sea salt.  Then it tasted good.  Kaio devoured it and that means SUCCESS, another successful attempt to sneak vegetables into his diet.  We all liked it, I even gave some of the unsalted portion to the baby.  This marked our first meal beginning my new food and diet endeavor.
For the next six months I will be, the best as is humanly possible while living in the city, eating an peasant diet. With the book, "Curing Tooth Decay" as my guide, I will test out this strange form of eating that goes completely against my conception of nutrition for the last 10 years.  Tofu is out, liver is in (gross).  Steak is out, bone marrow is in (gross).  Olive oil is out, tablespoons of butter is in (gross).  Rice milk is out, raw milk is in.  I mean, I was vegan for 7 years and now I love meat but I'm still not so into fish heads and raw eggs.
Culinary extreme sports it is.  But, it is worth a shot.  Last month I had a really bad tooth ache after getting a cracked amalgam filling replaced with a ceramic crown and onlay.  I had to visit an endontist to see if I need a root canal: result inconclusive, "Oh you might need one now, or maybe in a month, or maybe in two years, or maybe never."  I got a second opinion from a holistic dentist and that was the same answer.  They just don't know what the tooth might do.  So, I'm ignoring the pain and fighting it.  We'll see if this new Weston A Price style diet helps.  We had bone marrow soup last night and I made liver tonight.  Ewe- it was way nasty.  I also finally got accepted into the Real Milk circuit, which was about as elusive and arduous a task as becoming a Master Mason!  But that makes it all the more exhilarating that in a couple weeks we will be getting our first gallon of natural milk, yogurt, goat kefir, fermented cod liver oil, chicken hearts, and some other crazy country foods that hopefully will lead to better dental health.  Maybe after that I will get the courage to try a raw egg.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Processed Foods Suck and I've been feeling jealous of those SAHMs

I have been reading more research from Weston A. Price and starting to become more of a believer in the  detriments of processed foods, even organic processed foods.  We do a pretty good job of staying away from those items at home, and it helps that we can't afford them.  But, I am finding that the rest of the world functions very differently than our humble crib.  This is starting to tear me apart.  I don't want my kids putting refined, processed, poisonous foods in their bodies.  But at day care, that is totally normal and what all the kids eat.  So then i feel like a bad mom for putting Kaio in daycare at all, instead of being at home with him.  But even if i was at home with him, regulating his every intake, would I be able to provide him all the social development that he gets from daycare?  I don't know.  When I get on this thought train, I just feel incapable of everything.
And so, unintentionally I have been sucked into the modern debate between working moms and stay at home moms.  Only the debate is going on in my head!  I never cared before, and totally understood that each family should have the right to their own decision, and none is better or worse.  But now I'm multiple personality disorder in my head.  I just wish that we could afford to have me stay home.  and I have never said this out loud before because I don't want to put any pressure on him, but "I wish that my man made more money."  or "I wish that we had not bought a house that we need two incomes to pay for."
I do like my job now, and things are so much better than earlier this year.  But this week I have found myself getting extremely jealous of the moms who chose to stay at home, caring for and homeschooling their kids.  oh boy.  When I was on maternity leave, taking care of both of them: I really took to the task and enjoyed it.
But that is not the path I am on right now, and I need to accept that and stand behind my choices.  I need to remember that the grass is always greener on the other side.  Even if i was a stay at home mom, I would probably have all kinds of insecurities about providing the proper social and educational developmental environment for my kids.  I would probably be very overwhelmed with keeping up with them, and with the worry that I was a bad mom (I mean I'm already always worried about that).  I would probably be worried that we were not saving enough for their college.  And we would probably not be able to afford to travel to visit mariano's family in Brazil every couple years.  I need to remember these things, but as someone who over thinks everything, sometimes it is hard.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Learning that a little bit of lavender oil is better than threats and repression

Fight at bedtime with the three year old.  He is so strong willed and stubborn.  Just like I was - that little bugger.  Tonight was a fight reminiscent of a year ago when, for months on end, Kaio would not stay in his bed at night.  He would get out of bed repeatedly for over an hour before finally staying there and falling asleep.  I tried everything from staying in his room until he fell asleep, to picking him up and putting him back in bed every time he left, to just finally locking his door shut.  Finally, one day he actually stayed in there when I gave him the choice of having the door open or closed.  He chose open, and I said that if he got out of bed then I would close the door.  Well, I still don't know if that was the trick or if he just finally got over the phase he was in.   But it worked for a whole year, until tonight he did it again! ugh.  Here is how it went down:
Act 1
-Kaio exits bed for third time
- "Kaio if you get out of bed again I am going to take away Thomas"  (he sleeps with his Thomas the Tank engine)
- I return down stairs and gobble a big bite of my mac and cheese dinner
- foot steps heard leaving the room
- I run up stairs and take Thomas away
- Kaio cries
- I return down stairs and stuff another big bite of mac and cheese in the trap

Act 2
- Kaio exits room
- "Kaio if you get out of bed again I am going to close the door"
- I return down stairs and gobble another big bite of my mac and cheese dinner
- foot steps heard leaving the room
- I run up stairs and without a word, shut the door
- Kaio cries
- I return downstairs and atempt to finish my bowl of mac and cheese

Act 3
- Kaio exits room
- "Kaio if you get out of bed again I am going to close the door and I am going to lock it!  Voce nao pode sair da cama, si voce saia mais uma vez, eu vou troncar a porta!"
- I sit on the stairs waiting to see if he leaves the bed
- Kaio waits about 30 second before standing up in bed and trying to scale the window sill
- I go and shut the door and lock it
- Kaio cries, and the cries get worse when he tries to open the door and can't
- I sit on the stair, head down.  why did it come to this?  I told myself never to lock the door again.

Act 4
- Deep breaths. I will part with the hope of finishing my dinner for now.
- What would my sisters in HMN do?
- one more deep breath, put the leftover mac and cheese in the fridge
- pick up the bottle of lavender oil.
- I return up stairs and into kaio's room, where he is sitting up in bed all teary faced.  I cover my hands in lavender oil, lay him down, and start massaging his neck and chest.  He says, "thank you.  thank you mamae." I silently massage his whole body and then tuck him in again.  He's jabbering about something, "I want Percy for my birthday... baby is sleeping... I want to go downstairs... I want water..."  I massage his face and pet his hair.  I went threw the list of the people who love him, and then I reminded him of what we were going to do tomorrow.
- He turned to the side like he was getting ready to sleep.
- Then I said good night and left.  He looked to make sure that I didn't close the door.

Man, i think that worked, and I finally got to finish dinner.  The End

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Was Previously 'Restlessly settled in forested suburbia'

Until a few hours ago, my blog title used to read: I can sum it up real easy.  Living in a town house in the suburbs just a few minutes from where I grew up working in a job i don't enjoy cause i sold out with two kids and an lovely man from another world.  its not that complicated really.  but everything feels complicated because i've landed myself on the wrong track.  this blog will now log my journey to regain my soul from the corporate jungle that tamed me.

It was time to take that down. Last night Mari even said, "isn't it time to update your blog profile?" So he has noticed the change. I've been at my new job for over a month now and I am serine. I mean, I know that Buddha says 'happiness should come from within' and I should not let external circumstances dictate my satisfaction with life. But, honestly, being in this new job has made me realize how bad a match I was for the last place. And yes, new job is still in the IT corporate world, which I never really intended on getting into, I MEAN: I majored in Psychology, did my senior internship at a naturopathic college, and did my thesis on the role of EFAs and Trans Fatty Acids in ADHD! I wanted to do research, I wanted to work with kids, I wanted to do pretty much anything but get all dressed up in a suit, sit in a room with a bunch of stiffs, and talk about military software all day. That's what I have been doing for the last two years at my last job. The problem was not just the stifling dress code, the stoic managers, or that I am not into being a war profiteer/ 'on white collar welfare' as they called it. Because I did feel a sense of pride in an importance for being associated with software that would help save lives. But, it was that my job as a whole was just really tough and not in the build a suspension bridge on top of a canyon way or in the working with disadvantaged kids way. I was in charge of monitoring quality on the projects, and I was an auditor. That immediately made people fear and avoid me. After two years, I had really made strides in gaining rapport with the teams and the project managers, but one of them was still always very nasty to me, no matter how nice I was to her. Following my audits, many times my suggestions for improvements were completely ignored. I was not privy to much and constantly kept out of the loop. I felt like a token employee stuffed in an isolated hole in the shelf, and I felt like a drain on tax payer money. I felt like I was missing precious time with my baby and kid...for nothing that I could look back on fondly.  Near the end, I even spit out a couple times that I HATED my job. and bro, you know, I ain't no hater. 

I'm really happy to have started this blog, because I think in a way it pushed me to be more proactive in my quest to regain my soul from the corporate jungle that tamed me. And I do feel like now I am well on track with my life. My new job is so much better. I am in a cube by a window that overlooks a playground. I work on a team of really nice and fun people. The work I'm given is challenging, interesting, and important. And the company is open and genuinely grateful for my contributions and feedback. I find myself really being present and engaged in what I'm working on, and that happened only once in a blue moon at my last job.

I'm also still intent on studying acupuncture, and this new job actually seems like a good stepping stone to that transition. We will have to move to another city that has an acupuncture college. The one in Maryland is not a good fit for me because they do not have any research presence and that is uber-important. If I'm going to pay 50K for grad school then I want to do research dammit! So in a couple years, we'll move to Boston, or Seattle, or Portland, or California and I'm pretty sure that I will be able to work remotely part time while I'm in school. The company has tone of employees who do that and they already gave me a laptop with a webcam and soft phone. So things are going well and I feel confidant that I'm being a good mommy to my kids and setting a good example by going after what I want out of life instead of sulking and wilting.

I have also felt a change in the wind in my perspective on parenting. For the past couple years I was feeling a little overwhelmed and bit alienated. Like, I didn't have any peers with children to talk to and get advice from, and I missed going out and partying with my friends. But this year I finally found a group of moms that I relate to and click with, and also admire. I joined the Holistic Moms Network and damn do I wish I had joined when I was pregnant with Kaio, because I have been flushed with a wealth of information and guidance on parenting the all natural and non-consumerist way. The group has been key for me and I am so grateful. Then also, recently two of my close friends (geographically too) have had babies! So I don't feel like such a freak anymore!

On New Years Eve last year I wrote myself a letter, to be opened on New Years Eve of this year. It was intended to capture goals and dreams for this year's accomplishments. I remember the most important one: Have a plan on how to realize my dreams and get out of the mess that is my boring job. Well, score one. I hope this wave continues, and that my spirit remains elevated. I hope I make good choices for Kaio and Nala. Next steps are to get Mari's family here to visit, to get our bodies healthy by going to the gym and chiropractor, to start back up with yoga and reading books on acupuncture and herbalism. And use my energy to be more supportive to all my friends and family.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Goodbye 20's

I have been really tripping about getting older lately. And the greatest reminder of all is my impending 29th birthday. This is it, the end of my heyday. And it feels like time is slipping away, like there isn't enough room in my head for all the memories I want to keep. I'm afraid of the treasured memories spilling over and out of mind. The external hard drive is full of photos, the bottom shelf of the bookshelf is stocked with journals, and the storage room holds a couple bags of items intended for scrap books. Flashes of good times and mistakes periodically sprinkle the day. Fuzzy images, time lines, and nostalgia are always about. Then I catch it, a moment with Nala or Kaio, I'm just looking at them and thinking, i have to remember this, this is so cute. No camera, just me being present with the kids.
Goodbye to feeling invincible. Goodbye to not having to think about the future. The future is here, and I've got to be serious. ugh. This is my last year to be 20 something. What should I do?

Pumpkin Partying

'Don't dwell, throw a party' says my favorite book of the month: How to Love like a Hot Chick. A book my mom was reading that I serendipitously stumbled upon and dug so much that I have bought three copies already for girl friends of mine. If you throw it, they will come. I threw a birthday party for two girl friends. And what a great thing to do. Why did I think that just because I have kids I can't be social with kidless friends? Us parents want an excuse to get out and... talk about our kids. We ended up with three babies crawling around. Play groups ARE more fun with vodka, pear cider, and pumpkin beer. We should do this every year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bathtime and the Joys of Two Kids

When Nalini was only a couple months old, and we were venturing out to Trader Joes on a grocery trip, I was wearing her in a Moby Wrap. Some nice guy made a comment about how cute they were and how wonderful it is to have kids. That was at a time that I was feeling like adjusting to the extra work was really tough. I asked him if it was going to get any easier and he said that it would because they would start playing together. Well tonights bath time was glimpse into that future. When Kaio started splashing Nala got a huge smile on her face, started giggling and tried splashing too, this totally cracked her up even more. It was super cute, and lucky for me there were no poopy accidents this time :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just another dysfunctional family

Being a parent has brought out fear in me. A fear of pretty much everything really; plastic bags, pencils, and window shades, lead residue on ipods, sad faces, and driving fast. I'm always finding myself having this thought in the back of my head, "is that dangerous? isn't that dangerous?" I'm also, disturbingly, finding myself asking, "is this normal? is that normal?" all the time. I thought I was impervious to societal conformist pressure. But, with my kids, I just want to know that I'm not screwing them up too much and that they're not ill.
I think that in the beginning with Kaio I was too strict about making him sleep in his bed by himself. I thought I would be putting him at some kind of developmental disadvantage if I acquiesced to his desires to sleep in our bed so long. Maybe I've learned that I should treasure each day with the love and closeness of my children, or maybe I'm just too exhausted to fight anymore; but I'm not going to battle with Nala about sleeping in our bed right now. Really we just need a bigger bed.
Kaio has been saying that he's 'cold' and 'tired' for a few months now. Daycare and the doctor believe that it is an attention getting tactic. But, I worry. What if I'm neglecting the signs of some grave physiological ailment?
It's so hard to know if I'm doing things right for them. I don't feel like I have a strong support group of successful families to lean on for advice. It seems like most of my peers come from crazy and flawed home situations. Or maybe everyone has a dysfunctional family once you get to know them?!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chaos in the Bath Tub

Whew. What a day. Today was a Wednesday and the last day of the month. Which is like double whammy. Wednesdays I drive Nalini to Tysons and then go to work in Herndon, so my commute is like an hour each way. Then, the end of the month means that Mariano works till late late late late at work since he's an accountant and he has to balance things. So, usually on end of month days I go to my brother's house or to mom's house to get some help with the kids. But, today mom had a date, go mom!, and I did not want to bother my brother because Lori started her new job this week. Plus it is never very calming there anyway since the dogs try to eat the baby. So, I went to Tysons, went to work in Herndon, worked 8 hours, drove to Reston to pick up Kaio, drove back to Tysons to pick up Nalini, drove to Taco Bell to pick up dinner, and then managed to get home with the car on empty. Kaio was drawing on himself with a marker in the back seat so I made a pledge to give him a bath later. After our Taco Bell bean burritos dinner, I attempted to make this happen. Everybody's clothes off. Everybody in the tub. Yay, I get to wash my hair, and the tub works well to keep the kids corralled. So I got out to dry off and was feeling a bit like super mom when Kaio........ poops in the tub. !!! I grab the baby and pull her outta there before she's contaminated. Quickly I try to clean up Kaio so that I can get him out too and salvage his Lego Duplo Thomas the Tank Engine which he lives, bathes, and sleeps with. The baby is moving around, Kaio is freaking out. I'm trying to wash off Kaio and make sure that he's clean while the baby is seizing this opportunity to go fishing around the bathroom floor looking for little things to stick in her mouth. yikes. I just need a second baby please. So, then we're all out of the bathroom. quick, put a diaper on the baby before she poops on the floor. Then put a diaper on Kaio before he poops on something else. Then put the baby in the crib so i can clean up the bathtub. Oh she doesn't like that. I look at the clock, hoping that it will say something like 8:30, which is when Mariano said he'd be home. but, it is barely 7.
Eventually the kids are in bed and I go to the kitchen to make lunch for Kaio. I have a bowl of cereal for dinner. So that makes dinner of Taco Bell and cereal. Well, at least we are usually healthy eaters. I made Kaio yogurt with plums, fish oil, maple syrup, and bee pollen. Then I made mac and cheese with pureed butternut squash from a local ecoganic farm. The only way he eats vegetables is if they are masked in mac and cheese. Now I'm lounging on the couch thinking its time for bed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

International party girl turns hot mama

I got the opportunity to go for a night out at Reston Town Center while my man stayed home with the kids, doesn't he ROCK! So there were two of us crazy girls loose at the clubs and bars. First stop: Obi Sushi where a dj was spinning some hip hop and we had some perfect sake cucumber martinis. The waiter threw a round at us on the house, which meant that the night was off to a good start. The early fall air was the perfect temp and the scene was reminiscent of my single days going to clubs, flirting for fun, and partying with my unattached girl friends. It was a taste of what I felt like I was missing out on by being married with children: being free wielding and fastidious. And then it happened, a guy asked me to dance. I though that sounded like harmless fun so I agreed, but it only took a few beats for me to realize that I felt very awkward. I lost all ability to dance and was completely klutzy and ridiculously off beat. I kept thinking, this is not Mariano and I do not like this not one little bit. I don't know, maybe the guy was just a bad dancer, but as soon as the song ended I thanked him and ran back to our table. And that was the begginning of me getting the feeling that I was a changed woman.
Second stop: Tap house, but on the way we get escorted by a couple of guys we meet on the street. Yeah, I know that sounds bad, but we are friendly, and reston town center is wild on Fridays. At the tap house I got hit on and bothered by a couple more guys. At this point I should have been celebrating the simple fact that I'm attractive still. But I was already feeling too drunk and kind of out of place. What happened to my party girl side? And how did they not notice my wedding ring? Maybe I need a bigger ring...
Third stop: Uno's bathroom. toilet. barf. Gross. I spend the next 20 minutes eating nachos in a booth by myself before I finally beg my friend to go home. Lastly, I pull her away from a beautiful black man that she was schmoozing with and into our taxi home. Our taxi driver was Kurdish but came to the US before we invaded Iraq. I would have loved to hear all about his story, but I was too tired and missing my husband! So I ran inside while my girl friend stayed in the taxi to chat with him. He ended up trying to kiss her, gross. What kind of sober guy makes a move on an obviously drunk girl? That's lame. Anyway...
All these baby-filled years I have been slightly jealous of my single friends who go out to clubs and bars while I sit at home changing diapers, washing spit up stained clothes, and just being exhausted. But this weekend I realized that it ain't as sweet a life as i remember it; it's loud, the guys are boring, and none of them are as good looking as I think my man is. I would have had so much more fun if he was there. Guess I'm not the international party girl I once was. Well at least I can take pride in being a hot mama.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Could they be dead, and what does that mean?

We just passed September 11, 2009, which mean that it has been 8 years since the American world shook. It is completely unbelievable to me that it has been so long. I cannot imagine how much time that really means in the lives of the troops who have been fighting wars for us since the first assault on Afghanistan. I still feel very detached from the reality of war; although, I doubt that will last long. My brother told me last Friday that he is joining a captain's training and that he is transferring to a combat sector. He has been doing mission intelligence, and that seemed like a much safer job. But he wants to join a cavalry reconnaissance group, and for that he needs more diversified experience and needs a deployment. This all means that he will probably deployed in 7 months, and he will probably be in combat, rather than mission planning and mission intelligence. In summary, much more dangerous situation than I was previously imagining = much more dangerous. I'm really worried about him.
Since he first informed me of his choice to join ROTC, I have wanted to support him, even though I have been against this war from the start. I have believed in what he believes in. But, now I am truly worried. Not just for his life, but for his future. Even if he returns safe and sound, he might probably suffer some kind of irreversible psychological damage. Oh I really hope that he is ok.
We come from tough linage. My grandfather on my dad's side was a general and fought in three wars. My grandfather on my mom's side evaded the communist regime in Romania and successfully lobbied the emigration of his (our) family from Romania to the US. His actions contra to the Romanian government landed him in prison twice before moving to the US and getting a job in a plastics factory.
I feel really spoiled when I think about their sacrifices and my relative comfort.
Eight years ago, before I met Mariano, and before the US officially declared war on Terror, I spent the night with three 'soldiers' in Baltimore. It was their last day on US soil before deployment to the Persian Gulf. It was the summer of 2002. And it was very unusual circumstances. One of my college roommates from Oregon was visiting DC for the week. Her flight back to Oregon left from Baltimore and we accidentally missed it and got to the airport after the last flight for the night had departed. The airline told us that she could get scheduled on the next flight free of charge if she was at the airport in time for the first flight leaving the next day. It was a Saturday night, and we thought that we could stay up all night. We met the 'soldiers' at a club in Baltimore. Two guys and one girl from different cities in the US. They had never met before that night. All of them were in the reserves to pay for college and they were not really expecting that they would ever really be called to fight.
That was their last night in the US. I felt their fear, their apprehension, their sense of duty, and their sense of unjustness... It was a point in time when none of us new what war was and we did not not what to expect. We definitely did not think that we would still be at war 7 years later. I often wonder what happened to them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Images and Tattoos

I laid Nalini down in bed and started to breast feed her lying on my side. Kaio snuggled up to my back and I turned my head towards him and opened my arm out to him. He rested on my armpit. Laying down with two sleeping children, one on each side... I felt like a crescent moon, cupping my little lotus flower, and kaio my sun, shinning to my right. Or maybe we were like a ying yang, kaio the ying and nalini the yang and I was the invisible line that you trace to create them.
But really, I think I was a tree, my arms branches stretched and holding them. Nalini, the lotus flower growing out of the ground and suckling my nectar or syrup. That would make Mariano the earth, or the ground... my stability, the protector of my roots. Kaio would be a fruit or another flower, or maybe an animal like a jaguar or onca, taking rest in my embrace. I don't know if that image does mariano justice, it sounds like he is mud beneath me. Maybe he is more like the lake that the lotus flower grows from; calm, reflective, wise, deep, dark at night and transparent during the day. yes, that's more like him. now what about kaio?
nalini was easy because her name stems from the Sanskrit word for lotus. but kaio... the etiology of his name is less tangible: happy.
kaio is very happy, and very much a typical boy who likes to play with cars and trucks and planes. he loves fruit like blue berries and strawberries.
he is very active and likes to climb on things. he is also compassionate, loving, affectionate, and polite. I need to find some image that suits him and then maybe I could get a tattoo of my family.

Pulliing the Protective Mommy Card

I don't know if it is really possible to have a real vacation with young kids. This week in Panama has not really been relaxing. Disciplining a two year old takes most of the fun out of it. No tanning by the beach. no pina coladas by the pool. The one daiquiri that i had gave me a hangover after an hour... must be the heat coupled with breastfeeding that accelerated the dehydration process.
I went strait to the hangover stage without passing the tipsy phase. Oh well I guess it is not meant to be.
And of course Kaio got sick. And of course the baby got sick. I brought some remedies and was able to cure them without a trip to the hospital.
I also had my first angry mom episode. I pulled the protective mommy card. Kaio was throwing up and I threatened to sue the hotel if they did not have their on-call doctor see him free of charge. All he ate was food from the hotel, so I think that I was not completely out of line.
But I probably would not have been so insistent had it not been for the way the hotel had charged our friend for mandatory 7 day stay even though she was only able to stay for 3 days.
This is the first time that i have ever used the protective mommy card. Which, i see is kind of like the PMS card. Except the PMS card is used when playing your significant other.
The protective mommy card gives you freedom to yell and cuss and demand things that protect your children. it really worked well and i noticed that there are no hard feelings afterword.
the hotel manager, doctor, and aid were all very kind after they got permission to see Kaio free of charge. I am going to write them a letter thanking them today.
so the protective mommy card is really effective with minimal side effects... unlike the angry customer card, which usually means that waiters will be spitting in your food.
I'm still not sure what was wrong with him but it took about 24 hours for it to pass through his system.

Later, we got back to the hotel room after a short venture to a playground to soak up some sun rays. when we returned to the room I changed kaio's diaper in the shower.
He picked up the phone in the room, " I want to talk to papai." put his ear to the receiver, "hello, papai?" it was so cute. last night he was feeling too bad to hold the phone up to his ear and try to talk to his dad.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Riding Synergy

About a month ago I consulted the I Ching. I was considering switching from Nalini's daycare to a nanny friend. I could not shake a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, the place that usually houses my intuition. But, the I Ching told me that if I made the change to the nanny, synergy would follow. And I decided to take its advice.
We are just a few weeks into the change, but I do feel a harmony. The discordant fabrics of my life and our home are now peacefully patch worked together. My commute is down to only 15 minutes each way. The house is clean everyday and the dishes are done, which gives me so much more time to play with the kids. I can water the plants in the morning before work. I can pick up Kaio from daycare if I miss him. Kaio now plays by himself and does not need 100% supervision. Things have gotten much easier. Mariano and I are loving and enamored by the cuteness of our children. Plus I'm changing jobs And I'm going to Panama for a week before starting my new job! I'm excited to travel again and rekindle my love for adventure and exploration.
I still have not shaken the bad feeling in my stomach about the nanny. I think it may have something to do with me knowing that Nalini's daycare was better for her (she liked it more) than she likes being alone with her nanny. I hope that I made the right decision. At the present moment it appears we florish.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stay the Course

So much has happened in the last two weeks in my quest to get my life back on track. I got accepted into acupuncture school. Yippee! But I'm not going to go... I know that sounds totally nuts considering some of my past posts. But, I had a coffee with a wonderful girl, my age, also a mother, and an acupuncturist who went to the school that I applied for. Well, after speaking with her, I've decided that that school is not for me. The school does not have a research department, and research is important to me. If I am going to pay $50K for a grad school program then it damn well better be the experience that I am looking for. Plus, when I interviewed at the school they gave me the class schedule. Classes are from 8-5 two days a week. The school is about a 1.5 hour commute from my house, so I would be away from my kids for 12 hours on those days. It's just not practical while I am nursing. And I don't want to stop nursing.
So I am going to wait for a year or two untill the kids are a little older. I plan on going to another school, probably in another city. There are some other very good schools around the country and most of them are even less expensive than the one in this area.
Oh I'm so stoked about having a plan!
That same week, I got a job offer for another company, same line of work. But it seems like it may be a place that I will enjoy working a little more. and I'll get paid more, so I can try to save up for acupuncture school. Just knowing that I have a goal and plan that seems attainable is really uplifting.
So last week I told my current employer that I am leaving for another position. Since then people have been telling me all kinds of nice things. Like that I am the best QA person they have ever had. Now people are starting to make me feel appreciated, make me feel like I have actually been making a difference in my little world and helping people, helping make the product better. Usually I just feel like a waste of space and a waste of US tax dollars. The lead software engineer actually offered to be a reference for me and said that he thinks the project will really suffer without me. It is nice to hear, and it has boosted my confidence that maybe I am good at something and capable of making things better, and that staying in software IT for a little longer is not a total waste of time.
If I can do some good things for the IT world, for my coworkers, and provide a good healthy lifestyle for my kids, then maybe I can hold back my dissatisfaction with the QA career track for a little while. we'll see.


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