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.


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