Wednesday, December 30, 2009

down by the riverwalk...

Zach and I are in San Antonio right now, taking a little break/anniversary trip.  Donovan is with my parents in Austin, no doubt being treated like a king by them and my sisters and dad and in-laws.  Apparently he doesn't seem to miss us at all, and has been in great spirits since we left yesterday.  I wonder if he'll be disappointed to see us again-- since we don't spoil him nearly as well as our families do-- or if he'll instead crumble and make a big show about how badly he's been treated in our absence-- something he's done a few times when being baby-sat by friends.

We arrived yesterday to rainy and very cold weather.  We walked around the Riverwalk a little, but then stayed indoors for most of the afternoon.  Dinner was had at a Mexican place around the corner, and I was surprised at how good the margaritas and food were.  I think I forget how good they can be when you're actually *in* Texas.

Today was gorgeous and much warmer.  We walked around the King William area, where I think I took a picture of each and every house.  Most of them are these HUGE colonial-style homes, and some are renovated but many of them look fairly run down, and it gives you the sense of a place that is very old and that was very much part of The South.  It was almost a shock, as Austin is so very different from this (or if there are areas if Austin that look like that, I've not been to them).  It's funny how these two cities that are not that far from each other really do have such different feels.  But then again, Austin feels pretty different from just about anywhere else in Texas...

We later went by the cathedral, and on to the Market Square where all the banners say Feliz Navidad rather than Merry Christmas, and souvenir shops are filled with Mexican fighter masks/capes, and wooden marionettes, and cowboy hats and sombreros.  I really forget how much stronger the Mexican influence is here, how quickly that changes as you travel south in Texas, and it was kinda fun to be surrounded by it.  Zach was noticing that it seems the cadence and rhythm of Spanish spoken here seems different even from how it's spoken in California.  We stopped for a margarita and nachos, and listened to mariachi singers visit the tables nearby, then walked back to the hotel where we enjoyed the sunset from our window and will soon get ready to head out again for dinner.

Families and young kids are everywhere here, and we've seen many toddlers about D's age/size, which makes us miss him a little.  We'll both be happy to see him again tomorrow.  We're also really, really enjoying the freedom to sleep in, to take our time, to figure out what we want to do, and just be together without planning everything around a certain small person's needs.  We're trying to figure out how we can make something like this happen a bit more often...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

first-world whining

I'm watching Zach and Donovan play outside through the window at my in-laws' house right now.  These trips are always filled with such great highs-- watching Donovan play with his family, getting to "show off" the cute things he does, etc.  For example yesterday a whole bunch of us walked down to the tennis courts at the end of my parents' street and let D ride around on his cousin's old bike, and he was cruising around on that bike (with training wheels) looking like such a grown-up kid and it was just killing me with cuteness and pride in him.

And I guess with all the highs, have to come some lows, too.  I hate to complain, because I love to be here and share this time with loved ones, and it's always so much fun.  But somehow even though we have all this help taking care of D, at the end of the day I still end up feeling even more tired than when we're at home.  Everything is a production, and things always go missing as we shuffle from one house to another.  D has a cold or allergies or something that's been making him miserable a lot of the time this past week (I'm starting to wonder if we should get his ears checked out again), and guess who's the only person in the entire world apparently who can make it better (and thus stop the incessant screaming for "MAMA! MAMAAAAAA!!!")?  Me. It doesn't help that after being spoiled by a good year or more of D going to sleep easily for naps and bedtime, in the past weeks he's started resisting again and I don't really know how to deal with it.  He's been so, so tired since we got here (and thus, very cranky), with all the extra activity all day long, but he's taking shorter naps and resisting them more and it's really starting to wear me out.

I feel like such a spoiled brat for whining.  Here I am, with a beautiful son and a supportive husband, not to mention a huge family that adore Donovan and do so much for him and for all of us.  It feels so good to be here, and so wonderful to watch everyone play with D and see him recognize everyone and start saying their names, etc.  It's just that it's also a lot of work, and I guess this is part of why people complain about the stress of the holidays.

On Tuesday Zach and I leave for San Antonio for a couple of nights, while D stays with the grandparents.  I'm nervous about how it will go, how he'll do without us around for that long.  But, the person who takes a very close 3rd place for D (after his parents), is Papaw so I think he'll be ok, and know he'll be in great hands.  And I think the break will do wonders for me and for Zach.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

there she goes, there in the moonlight, under the stars... tarantula

Jenny, Zach and I ran some errands this afternoon (including Zach's first christmas shopping of the season...), and one of the errands was to stop by Waterloo Records, down at 6th and Lamar.  I noticed last October that Waterloo IceHouse (next door, and where I spent pretty much every Thursday evening of my last 2 or 3 years of college listening to The Hudsons) had closed down and was being replaced by a new diner, but it was still a bit of a shock to walk past that very familiar spot and see a completely different place there instead.

Already feeling a bit nostalgic, I then walked in and first thing I saw was a big display of a Bob Schneider Live at the Paramount Theatre double-CD set.  This is yet another piece of Austin culture/college memories that is near and dear to my heart, as Danyelle and I used to go see The Scabs play all.the.time, back before they "broke up" and started demanding $20+ covers for their shows.  In fact, we'd get there hours ahead of time just so we could be right at the front of the stage at Antone's and make eyes at the guitarist (who, oddly enough, kinda looked like  Willy Wonka).  Then the horn section from The Scabs joined a salsa band called La Tribu, and that became another weekly staple in my schedule (and where Danyelle and I earned the nicknames of "the Salsa Queens", something she apparently still gets asked about to this day when she goes out in the Austin salsa dance scene-- I don't have many claims to fame, I'm quite proud of that one). Anyway, so there's the CD set and I'm looking through the song list and it's such a perfect mix of Lonelyland and Scabs songs together in one piece and then I see Tarantula listed, which was a Scabs song but also played by La Tribu and was one of my FAVORITE songs to salsa dance to, and I was SOLD.

And you'd better believe it was the first song I played when I listened to the CD, and man what memories it brought back.  I don't like to think that one has a single set of "glory days" and then they're gone, because frankly that's pretty depressing.  I think there are many things about my life now that I will look back on incredibly fondly, and I think I still have many more "glory days" (and months and years) to live yet.  But those nights of dancing and music and friends and fun were pretty amazing.  I can't help but smile when I think back on them.

The other day Zach and I were debating our New Year's Eve plans, and to be frank we might not do a whole lot.  We may not even stay up much past midnight.  I just don't know if I want to deal with the bar scene, with going out and spending a bunch of money, with then dodging a drunk drivers on the road driving home, not to mention suffering the consequences of all that lost sleep the next day.  Clearly, we've gotten a bit more boring over the years.  And, really, I'm ok with that.  There are many phases of life, and this is one of them and I'm very happy to be where I am.  But it's also fun to listen to this music and remember, to revel in the memories of that past phase.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Guess what time D woke up this morning?  Seven thirty am!
(and he went to bed around 8:30pm- local time- so even got a good 11 hours of sleep, woot!)

Guess what time I woke up this morning?  TEN!  TEN AM!

Yes, it was glorious.  D woke up a few times overnight, sure, BUT he slept in a bit, and most importantly there were grandparents to get up with him so that Zach and I could sleep in.  At least I assume Zach slept in, too, as I don't remember him getting up and he wasn't still in bed when I woke up, but I assume he slept in a little at least.  Can't let these sorts of opportunities pass you by, you know.

Unfortunately I noticed D seem a bit congested as he was trying to go to sleep last night, and that's continued through today.  I don't know if this is an oddly-timed cold, or if he might be showing signs of seasonal allergies.  He was definitely congested pretty much the entire time last time we were here, which I chalked up to a regular cold, but the fact that he's stuffed up again and right after getting here seems... suspicious.

Other than that, D is having a great time.  He recognizes everyone, or at least seems to, and has been pretty instantly comfortable with them (whereas he's been showing more signs of stranger anxiety with others).  Both my dad and Zach's parents have already started giving D some of his Christmas presents.  D helped his grampa make cinnamon rolls this morning, and then put together his toy wagon.  He's a very helpful guy.  He spent most of the rest of the day playing with all sorts of toys, both old (relics saved from Zach and Andrew's childhoods) and new, and family.  Jen and I ducked off and had a fun afternoon hanging out and shopping on South Congress.  I actually brought my camera along this time, and got some fun pictures, I think.  Hopefully can get to sorting through those in the next day or 2.

But, despite sleeping in this morning, I am still utterly exhausted.  And you never know what the night will hold (I already had to stop in the middle of writing this post to go help D fall back asleep after waking up crying) so off to bed I go...

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Had kind of a really awesome day today.  Early in the morning we headed over to Kathy's for nutella-filled crepes and yummy coffee.  D had a BLAST playing with their kids' Hess trucks, giving Zach and I a chance to actually socialize with everyone else there.  Kathy also gave me the great idea of giving D his "own" Christmas tree that he can play (aka destroy) however he likes, with the understanding that he then leaves the "real" tree alone-- this is something she did with her own son when he was 18 months old, and has apparently worked pretty well (her 2 kiddoes are now almost teens).

We got a short break at home for a few hours where I succeeded in getting about half our packing done but failed miserably at my attempts to get D to nap (he woke up at 4:30am and then slept maaaybe 30 mins in the car on the way back from Kathy's... and that's been all for today) before then heading out to Karen and Benjamin's holiday shindig.  More fun to be had, lots of friends about, great food, and played a fun gift exchange game where everyone seemed pretty satisfied with what they got (particularly those who have future "white elephant" exchanges to attend this season...).

So now, home, exhausted, D is asleep, Zach is about to head out to make an appearance at a farewell party for the interns at work.  We're about 98% packed and set to leave tomorrow morning for two weeks of holiday family fun.  I am VERY much looking forward to this trip, for many reasons, though I can't deny I am dreading finding out what will happen with D's sleep.  He always regresses a bit when we travel, and already his sleep this week (after a few weeks of being pretty good) has completely gone to pot-- he's waking up super early (see previous paragraph), and also won't go to sleep without me lying down next to him which is odd and he hasn't needed in FOREVER other than when he's sick... which I'm pretty sure he's not.  But then again, who the hell knows.  So I'm wondering how much earlier he'll start waking up, and how much needier he might become, for the next two weeks while away from home.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

indecisive, but with killer comedic timing

I've often had issues with being indecisive.  I'll stand in a store staring at a shelf or rack for literally 10 minutes or more, debating in my head if I really like that shirt enough to justify buying it, or do I really think D will like that toy for longer than 10 minutes, etc.  I read once that a classic sign of a potential shoplifter is someone who keeps returning to a particular shelf or corner of a store, and I wonder how many clerks have kept their eye on me because I do the exact.same.thing. while debating whether or not to buy something.

Unfortunately, it appears I have passed this, um, shall we call it lovely? trait onto my son.

He'll ask to do one thing, then as I'm helping him get to it he'll then start freaking out and apparently wanting this OTHER thing, not THAT thing, and then I try to help him help me figure out what this OTHER thing is, except he won't tell me (perhaps because he himself isn't sure yet), and we go back and forth and it's not pretty.  And the thing is, his language skills are skyrocketing to such an amazing level that he is or at least should be able to tell me what he wants or what he's thinking a lot of the time, and that's AMAZING. I so so so love it when I ask him a question and he gives me an immediate and firm yes or no answer, or when he tells me exactly what he wants to eat.  But it makes these other times, the times when I give him two choices and he just stares at me blankly (when I know he understands), or worse yet makes it quite clear neither choice is ok and then screams and makes that funny little scrunched-up pouty face at me (lucky it's so darn cute), those seem that much worse because I'm starting to get used to him actually using his words.

Last night he had just finished eating and was getting down from his high chair and I think I asked him if he wanted me to bring his chair to the sink so he could wash his hands while standing on it, and he very adamantly said no and seemed to be going off to play, then suddenly started crying and throwing a fit and I guess he'd changed his mind and he DID want to go to the sink except he hadn't bothered to try to communicate this to me before getting all mad, and we went back and forth for several minutes while I tried to figure out just what exactly was going on.  I finally realized he wanted me to move his chair to the sink, and so I did, but while doing so I looked over at Zach and uttered a loud "DUDE!!" out of frustration.

Next thing I hear, Donovan yells out his own high-pitched "DUUUUUUDE!!" and is looking at me with a big smile on his face, because I think he knew he had just done something really, really cute.  And I couldn't help but burst out laughing.

And, see, this is why toddlers don't end up on the curb next to the garbage and recycling on trash day.  Because just when you're on your last nerve, they'll go and do something so incredibly adorable that you just have to laugh, and that urge to toss them out the window melts into an irresistible desire to gobble them up in kisses.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Project 365 (one more time, with feeling)

Many of you remember how I recorded Donovan's first 365 days as a photo project.  I then tried to do a more general (meaning with anything open to be a subject as opposed to just D) 365 project for this past year, but quit midway through February.  I think I was kind of burned out on taking pictures every day, and had laid out a workflow that was not very sustainable to keep up with.

Now I'm seeing posts pop up around the interweb about this photo challenge, which can technically be begun at any point but seems most natural to do for a full calendar year, and am considering trying it again for 2010.  I've been seriously neglecting my camera that past couple of months, and this would be a good way to get back in the habit of wielding it a lot and hopefully also keep on getting better at it.

Most of you can probably stop reading this post right about here, as I'm about to start talking about my planned workflow and will probably be very boring for anyone not thinking about attempting the same thing.  It's ok, you won't hurt my feelings.  ; )

When I did Donovan's 365, I based it all off flickr.  I simply went back every so often and viewed my photos by date taken, picked my favorite one of him, and then labeled and tagged it and placed it in the set.  I often went a good week or longer between sittings, so days would pile up, but otherwise this was manageable enough.

When I tried my 365 for 2009 project, I decided to be more rigid about it all.  I would upload each day's photos that evening, then choose my "365" shot, place it in its own folder, then upload/tag/organize/etc the photo for each day.  I look back on this, and a lot of what I was trying to do was very silly.  For one, I had Lightroom and there was no reason for me to complicate things by trying to rename the photo or put it in a separate folder just for this project.  Also, it was fun to try to be artistic in editing a photo each day, but it was also unrealistic.  I love many of those photos I took in those 6 weeks of trying, but there was no way I could keep that up for a year.

So here's my plan for this year:

  • Take pictures every day.
  • Transfer pics from my camera to sort,etc, at least once a week, hopefully more often, but not necessarily every day.
  • Use keywords and a collection in Lightroom to organize the 365 photos (otherwise keep filenames/folder location intact).
  • Type the day (eg "X or 365") as a photo caption in Lightroom, which will then automatically show up as a caption when uploaded to flickr.  
  • Post photos to 365 groups on flickr (so far have joined two, not sure I'll keep up with both or choose one I like best) when I have a chance, but no need to do it every day.
So that's the plan.  We shall see how it goes.  I'll likely use a combination of SLR, point--and-shoot, and cell phone camera for taking these pictures.  The idea is to make a record of our year, as a photo journal of sorts.  I'm thinking of including little rules/challenges to myself, like only including one photo of D per week, or shooting a self-portrait once a week or month.  If anyone else has ideas/suggestions/recommendations I'd love to hear them.  I'd also love for you to join me.  ; )

Monday, December 14, 2009

raising a future nudist, apparently

Today felt like a very, very long Monday.  Like it should be the middle of the week already.  Not that it was a bad day or anything, but for some reason it felt very long.  Maybe because a lot happened today.

D spent most of the morning pants-less, until I suggested we go down the street to his friend's house to play.  He then quickly accepted putting on pants AND changing his shirt!!!  The magical powers of friendship... and someone else's toys to play with.  Of course, as soon as we got back home and did the first diaper change he refused to put pants on again, and spent the rest of the day pants-less.  I swear he must be extra warm blooded or something, I've been in pants, socks, and a sweatshirt all day.

Several weeks ago we sent a letter (in French and everything!!) and pictures to Michele and Gerard, our former neighbors in Switzerland.  Today we got a response back from them, which was so wonderful.  It turns out their son, who was got married about a year and a half ago (and graciously invited all of us to the wedding), and his wife had a baby girl a few months ago.  They included a few pictures, too, and it just warmed my heart to hear from them, and I instantly wished we could visit them.  I know they really enjoyed watching Donovan grow up as a baby, and were just so sweet to us the entire time we knew them.  (Michele also did point out that the people who moved into our house don't seem very friendly, have hardly said hello twice in the year they've been there.)

Less than a week now till we go to Texas for the holidays.  I think it's fair to say all 3 of us are counting down the days.  ; )

Sunday, December 13, 2009

six word sunday: Boo for rain... YAY for rainbows! =)

six word sunday challenge

Friday, December 11, 2009

On Stranger Danger and Parental (over)Protectiveness

A few weeks ago I read the TIME article on the backlash against "helicopter parents" and the paranoid overprotectiveness we have of our kids these days.  I liked the article and agreed with a lot of what they said.  As a Montessorian, I have a much more watch-from-the-sidelines approach to parenting-- I want D to know that I am always here if he needs me, but want him to have the freedom to figure things out on his own and be more independent.  I'm quite happy letting D play happily in his room (as he's doing now) while I sit in the living room, say, typing up a blog post. He's safe, happy, and getting plenty of unstructured free play time which we keep finding out is kind of a good thing.  (keep in mind, these moments might only last about 10 minutes or so before he wants my attention again...)

That's in the safety of our own home, though.  I still feel a stifling paranoia about letting him out of my sight for even half a second if we're anywhere out in public.  A few months ago I was listening in to my mom, several of her cousins, and my grandmother reminisce about when they were young, and hearing stories such as my mom's cousin, at maybe 5 years of age or so, pulling my 18 month old mom and her newborn baby brother in a wagon around the block, completely unsupervised.  That's just what people did back then, but if it happened now you'd probably get reported to CPS.  Kids cannot be left alone EVER, and are taught early about "Stranger Danger" and to avoid these potentially evil people at all costs, because otherwise you'll end up in a ditch somewhere.

Then I came across another article on twitter yesterday, about child kidnappings.  And this is the part that shocked me (emphasis is my own):
The U.S. Department of Justice reports more than 200,000 children are victims of family abductions in the United States each year. Of that figure, about 56,500 cases are reported to local law enforcement authorities and require investigation, studies show. In comparison, the U.S. Department of Justice reports an average of 115 stranger abductions a year.
(numbers confirmed here, too)

*blink blink*


Out of the MILLIONS of kids in the US, only 115 are abducted by total strangers each year?  This is what we're freaking out about?

You then pair those stats up with the ones for sexual assault.  It's estimated that 60% of sexual attacks happen to people under 18.  That's plenty scary, and certainly enough for people to start checking their neighborhoods for sex offenders and demonizing strangers even more.  Until you find out that the vast majority of those attacks (85%-95%) are perpetrated by people the victim already knows well (family, friends, etc).  Only a teeny, tiny minority are attacks by complete strangers.

So in a way, our kids are safer with a complete stranger than at your family reunion.

I'm not trying to minimize the horror of those instances.  But I think it's alarming how much fear there is about strangers kidnapping and abusing our children, when the actual numbers are so low.  And in fact, by emphasizing the danger of strangers (and completely ignoring the fact that it's those close to you that are most likely to harm your kids) we are causing further damage by not educating and preparing ourselves for the real threats.

Meanwhile, car wrecks are the leading cause of death for children 2-14 years old.  Each year 250,000 children are injured in car crashes, and 2,000 children die from them.  I just read an article in Glamour (Jan 2010, pg62) about the dumb things we do while driving and how dangerous they are.  For example, texting while driving (even if you don't have to look at your phone while doing it) makes you 8 times more likely to get in a crash-- and it the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level of .08.  Talking on the phone (yes,m even hands-free) makes you four times as likely to crash, and lowers your ability to process visual information (light changes, brake lights, etc) by 50%.  Every year 2,500 people die from cell phone related car crashes.  Eating and drinking while driving are also incredibly dangerous.

I wonder how many of us teach our kids to be paranoid of anyone they don't know but don't think twice about answering a phone call while driving with our kiddoes in the car.

I'm not trying to be preachy, I'm more just baffled with finding out this information... and thinking about how I will change my behavior.  I am intrigued by the "Free Range Kids" movement, and may try to read the book soon.  I might relax a bit when out and about with D, while being much more mindful of how I drive with him in the car... and avoiding it completely whenever possible (fortunately we live in a good area for walking to places).

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on all this.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

toilet conundrums

Disclaimer: Yes, this is a post about potty training, which means there's some possible TMI-worthy content. You have been warned.

So I'm thinking we'll give potty training (I know I'm supposed to call it "toilet learning" now but am having trouble getting into that habit) a try sometime in January.  I was tempted to start a few weeks ago, but since we'll be out of town for 2 weeks for Christmas (and it's tough to stick to even his regular schedule with all the family around) it probably is more reasonable to wait till after the holidays.

Unfortunately, I feel like I already missed a possible window of opportunity early in the year when we had several casual successes with the potty.  At the time I assumed those would continue, and that it was too early to try anything more formal.  Then months passed, he stopped showing as much interest in the potty or even wanting to sit on it at all.  Summer came and went, everything feeling busy and me hardly even thinking about potties for a long time.

Then recently D has started showing interest again.  He's always been fascinated with my going  to the bathroom (I haven't been able to go alone since D became mobile oooh, what, a year and a half ago?)  He's also seen Zach use the toilet a few times... indeed he once managed to get his hand in the stream of urine as Zach was peeing (suppose we shoulda seen that one coming, seeing how much he loves playing with water).  He's since learned the words for pee and poop, is interested in poop going down the toilet, and has even caught on to toilet paper and started trying to "assist" me.

What?  TMI?

So I think he's getting ready, but I'm kinda worried he'll back off again if I don't take advantage of the opportunity.  Then again, I'm also terrified of actually trying, wondering how it'll all go and how life will be completely different without diapers around (yes, it'll be great... eventually...  but what will it be like going out in public when he's still "iffy" and how many accidents will we have to deal with in the middle of Target?).

He still sometimes sits in his small potty chair, though he's shown much more interest in the big potty.  So a few weeks back I got one of those kiddie potty seats that goes on the toilet to make the opening smaller, and by happy coincidence we also inherited a plastic stepstool that's perfect for him to step up onto to reach the toilet.  And so the past few days he's had great fun playing a game that consists of taking off his pants and diaper, sitting on the toilet for a few seconds, getting back up, asking me to flush the toilet, sitting back down, and then tearing half the roll of toilet paper off so "wipe" his bottom (meaning he drops the paper in the space in the seat opening just behind his butt).

Part of me is VERY excited about this-- a) he's not scared of toilets flushing, which I've heard can be a great obstacle for many kids, b) he's interested in sitting on the toilet and seems to know what it's for, etc.

Then there's the environmentalist in me screaming about the water wasted from flushing the toilet 10 times in so many minutes, and all the toilet paper wasted.  And, while I want him to be familiar with the toilet and feel comfortable using it, I don't want it to become so much of a game that he forgets what it's *really* supposed to be for to begin with.  But on the other hand if I don't let him do this he gets all upset and I don't want to foster negative feelings regarding the toilet before we've even really begun.

And since all the potty training websites out there seem to focus on giving you the same list of ideas and protocols rather than much info on anything else regarding the process, I'm asking you veteran parents for advice-- Do I encourage him to play this way with the potty?  Try to limit it somehow?  Should I just let the kid be until January?  Am I completely over-thinking this whole thing?

Monday, December 07, 2009


D took his very last dose of antibiotics this morning.  Over the weekend he was still quite the grouchy pants, launching into a full-force tantrum if something didn't go exactly as he wanted-- which was often, since he himself couldn't seem to make up his mind about what it was he actually wanted.  But today went much, much better, I think he finally must be feeling more like his old self again, because the only times he got super crabby were at lunch when he was due for a nap, and at the Children's Discovery Museum this afternoon when we got there and the only thing we discovered was that they close on Mondays, and it was really cold, and D refused (REFUSED!!!) to wear a jacket.  And it really sucked at the time, but I think he was cold (ironically) and also disappointed about the museum, since I think he really did remember what it was and how much fun he had last time and so was likely bummed about not getting to go in after all.

Other than those two meltdowns we had a pleasant day.  He stayed pretty busy playing with his trucks and emptying every piece of clothing from the second drawer in his dresser.  Silly me tried to put them back, but no they CLEARLY do not belong in the DRAWER, silly woman!  No, their proper place is scattered all over the floor.  And also in the laundry hamper.  I don't think we can keep his dirty clothes in his hamper anymore due to this new habit of putting clean clothes in there, too.  He's very into taking things from one place and putting them someplace else, and then doing the reverse all over again, and it truly is fascinating to watch.  Turns out he's quite heart-meltingly adorable when he doesn't feel miserable and isn't screaming all the time.  I sometimes forget that...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Blog with Heart Challenge (or, how to eradicate world poverty this holiday season!)

The other day I saw an update from the Kiva fanpage on Facebook mentioning the Blog With Heart Challenge.  The challenge is a call-to-arms of all bloggers to form lending teams on the Kiva website and encourage their readers to join the teams and make their own $25 loans.

Well, guess what, my lovely readers?  I've signed us up.  ; )

If you haven't heard of Kiva yet, they are a wonderfully awesome organization that links kind-hearted people like you and me with entrepreneurs in developing countries (real, live individuals and small businesses all over the world) so we can lend them money on a short-term basis to help them build or grow their businesses (click here for more info).

Now, I know this is a crazy time of year to be asking you to part with your money-- there's Christmas shopping to be done, and everyone's already strapped due to the recession.  But here's the cool part about Kiva (and why I hope every one of you will join)-- you're not giving a donation, you're giving out a loan.  Meaning you'll get your money back (and, in my experience, pretty quickly, too-- my loans have been paid back within a few months to a year or so).  So, really, you're helping someone out with their business essentially for free.  You can lend out $25 to the entrepreneur of your choice, and then over time they'll pay you back and you'll get your entire $25 back (unless there's a loss due to currency exchange).  It's a win-win. Sure, there is a chance they could default on you, but in my 2 years as a member and 11 loans given so far, no one has failed to pay me back yet.

How could you not give lend them money?? ; )

Here's what you do:
  1. Go to my team page.
  2. Click the big, green JOIN NOW button.
  3. Browse through the list of entrepreneurs and choose who you'd like to support.  (Be sure to select to have the loan counted towards the "Life is Good Blog" team.)  You can even pay through PayPal, meaning you might not even need to get out of your chair to grab your wallet.
  4. That's it!  
See how easy that was?  So head on over and give a little.  It'll make your heart feel all warm and fuzzy, I promise.

EDIT: A couple of commenters have brought this NYT article (a response to this original blog post) to my attention.  The article points out that Kiva does not exactly work directly from person to person as I stated above-- instead the loans are often disboursed by microfinancers before even being posted on the Kiva website, and thus a lender's dollars might not go directly to that exact person but back to refund the microfinancer who will then give that money out as a loan to a different entrepreneur.  After reading it went back to the Kiva website and found that Kiva does mention this in their How Kiva Works page (emphasis mine):

4) Kiva provides the funds to our Field Partners by aggregating the loan funds from all contributing lenders. Most Field Partners then use the Kiva lender funds to backfill the loan they’ve already disbursed to the entrepreneur. Disbursals can happen up to 30 days before, or 30 days after a loan request is uploaded to the Kiva website.
5) Over time, the entrepreneur repays her loan. The Field Partner collects those repayments and lets Kiva know if a repayment was not made as scheduled. We give Field Partners the option to cover both currency losses and entrepreneur defaults.

(The Field Partners being the microfinance institutions)
At the bottom of the How Kiva Works page is also a diagram highlighting this process:

The chief complaint in the article is that Kiva is not being transparent enough about how the loans actually work, but all the information is right there on the website and it was I who did not look through it all carefully enough to catch the differences (and it's not like it's hidden in fine print somewhere, it's all right there in plain sight).  So sorry about that.  However, I do not think any of this reflects poorly on Kiva itself, nor does it change the way I feel about the organization or what it does.  I still feel good about supporting them, and hope you will, too.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Ode to Mom

Today is my mom's birthday.  She's turning 60 years old.  The weird thing (and I hope she doesn't take this the wrong way) is that 60 sound *old* to me, but I look at her and she just seems so much younger.

So, since it's her birthday and all, it seems appropriate to write a little about how incredibly awesome she is.

I've always liked my mom.  Growing up I remember people often pointing out how much I looked like her.  Hearing that always made me proud.  I've never been one of those people that loathes the idea of "turning into their parent"-- I've always figured if I end up being like her as a person and mother, I will have done very well.  Sure, there were times I didn't like her all that much or didn't think she knew what she was talking about at all (mostly between the ages of 13 and 19 or so), but overall we've tended to have a pretty good relationship over the years, and I have always appreciated what a wonderful, selfless, loving person she is.

That appreciation has grown about a million-fold since having a baby.

I hear of friends whose parents aren't all that involved with their kids, and it makes me so, so grateful that Zach and I have the parents that we do, who dote over Donovan was much as they do.  As soon as we told my mom that we were expecting, she set out on a mission to find new yarn so she could start crocheting a baby blanket for her grandchild.  She asked about coming out to visit when Donovan was to be born, asking so timidly and worried about not being wanted (when I asked Zach if it was ok for her to come out his respinse was, "She wants to come and help?  Please!  Tell her to stay as long as she wants!").  So she planned a 5-week long stay around my due date, and through miraculous timing she landed in Switzerland literally just a few hours after I started feeling contractions.  Her help during those five first weeks as a mother myself was...  I can't state how great it was.  She did everything she could to help, from taking D on multiple walks all around the neighborhood to cooking dinner most nights to keeping D in her room at night so we could sleep a little better between the multiple feedings.  And through it all she was my cheerleader, giving her advice where needed but always backing me up and giving me the confidence I needed to feel ok taking care of that kiddo all day long after she left.  I know I would have survived without her there if I'd needed to, but I don't wish to think about what those beginning weeks would have been like without her help and guidance.  (You'd better believe that as soon as we get pregnant with our next kid I'll be calling her and booking her a flight to come stay with us again to help with the transition)
She and my step-dad have flown out to visit us many, many times since then, both out in Switzerland and now back here in California, and she continues to be an amazing help and inspiration.  She's the one that wakes up with him at whatever hour he chooses, urging Zach and I to get back to bed and sleep in some more, and taking him on long early morning walks whenever needed.  On one recent trip to Texas we arrived only to realize we had left the musical giraffe D goes to sleep with back here-- Mom raced out to Target (where I'd bought that giraffe a good year earlier) to try to find a replacement.  She often calls me to gush over his latest pictures, and I know she'll never get tired of me gushing right back to her on whatever super-cute thing he has done lately.  She is my inspiration and my model for how to be a good mom, and it makes my heart feel so full to know that Donovan will grow up with her as a grandmother (not to mention his other 4 grandparents, who all love and dote on him just as much).
Saas Fee

I could go on and on about all the other things that make my mom amazing-- the way she took a chance as a young 20-something and followed her heart to be with my dad in a far-away land despite her family being so against it; the way she moved back to the US twenty years later with four children and managed to raise us on her own, while working full-time AND getting her master's degree and never make us feel like we were missing out on anything; the way she puts everyone else's needs above her own (sometimes to a fault, and then we get to remind her to do something for herself every once in a while); the way she has tirelessly helped take care of her own aging parents the past several years; the way that, despite all the "mistakes" she claims to have made as a parent, we always felt loved and supported and like we could do anything.  But if I did all that I'd go on forever, when really all that needs to be said is, "Mom, I love you, and you're awesome.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Day 3 (& still miserable)

Poor guy =(
Taken from my phone this morning
Today has been the worst day so far.  He was unable to stay asleep last night without me laying next to him, so I spent the night in his room again.  He woke up this morning-- when body temp is supposed to be at its lowest of the day-- with a 103 fever.  He was also MISERABLE.  He managed a few minutes sitting in his high chair while eating breakfast, but other than that I have been holding literally all day long.  I am not exaggerating, people.  We've spent A LOT of time watching videos/pictures/slideshows on the computer (that whole limiting-TV-time rule has gone completely out the window) and that keeps him relatively happy, but only if he's sitting on my lap (thankfully I have my iPod Touch to keep me somewhat entertained-- I've been updating on Twitter a lot). If I try to get us to do anything else he screams, and only screams louder if I'm not holding him.  Monday and Tuesday he felt crappy, but had moments (even if only a few minutes) where he'd seem ok and play with his toys.  He hasn't done that at all today.

He still doesn't really have any other obvious symptoms, and I hate that b/c I feel like I'm missing something.  So when he woke up with a fever still this morning I called and made an appointment to see his pediatrician.  Of course we couldn't get in with her till 4:45pm, but that's when we'll go, I suppose.  His fever did respond to the Motrin I gave him this morning, but it should wear off in time for the appointment so we'll see what we get there.

I finally got him to fall asleep just now (after a good 10 mins of crying and trashing in his bed before he finally konked out-- it really sucks when there's nothing you can do to calm your hysterical kiddo).  I just slipped out from beside him, and I'm wondering how long he'll manage to stay asleep on his own.  Perhaps I can sneak in some food and maybe a cup of tea.  *crossing fingers*

I don't know what the doctor will say.  I guess we'll see.

UPDATE: Turns out he's got a double ear infection.  That would explain why he's been so miserable. And not sleeping.  So we're now giving Motrin routinely, along with an antibiotic for the next 5 days.  He was already feeling a little better in the late afternoon to evening (though he still looks like hell), hopefully the infections will clear up over the next day or 2 and he'll be back to his usual self.  Unfortunately tomorrow may still be rough till everything kicks in, but at least we now know what's wrong which helps A LOT.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

oh, elusive sleep

So last night kinda sucked as far as sleep goes.  D seemed to feel better in the morning, though by 2pm he was back to having a fever of about 102.  I called the advice line, they said if it goes longer than 3 days (started Sunday night, so thru Wednesday night) to bring him in to get checked out.  It does freak me out some that he doesn't have any obvious symptoms other than a fever (and seeming to feel like crap, at least part of the time) but he's still normal-enough-- and his fever low enough-- that there can't really be anything too seriously wrong with him, right?

I felt like a zombie all morning, and am being kind of psychosomatic about cold symptoms coming on, but felt somewhat better as the day progressed.  Zach also came home early from an event he was going to tonight, which meant he was in time to help with D's bedtime.  Very nice. I'm hoping for some decent sleep tonight.

As a random aside, I noticed that YogaBeans has a new post up.  That helped brighten my day.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Goodbye, Weekend. Hello, Monday

Hello!  Missed me?  Probably not, but that's ok.

Thanksgiving weekend was grand.  Jenny took the train down Wednesday afternoon, set to arrive just before D's bedtime.  We decided to keep him up to get to see her, and better yet, take him along to greet her at the train station.  A few minutes before leaving I said, "Donovan, we're going to see Aunt Jenny!"  And I kid you not, he goes, "Jenny?  Jenny?  Jenny!!" and started running around the house chanting "Jenny! Jenny!" all excited, then went to grab for his shoes so we could go get Aunt Jenny already!!  I wondered if he really knew what he was getting excited about, especially since it's been about 2 months now since he's actually seen Aunt Jenny, so I showed him a picture and he points, smiles, and says "Jenny!!"

Talk about major SWOON.

(BTW Criss don't feel bad, I'm guessing he'll be just as excited about seeing you at Christmas... especially if I remind him about the Cheetos)

Of course, we got to the station and by then he was so excited about the actual TRAINS!!! that Aunt Jenny wasn't quite as exciting anymore.

Thursday we headed over to Benjamin & Karen's home, since they graciously invited us to share their Thanksgiving meal with their family.  Everything was delicious, I wish I could've eaten three servings of everything.  D I think picked at some of the ham, maybe tried a bite of turkey... and scarfed down the flourless chocolate cake.  I was surprised, too, since it was kind of bittersweet, but he could.not.get.enough.  I guess the boy does not discriminate when it comes to chocolate.  Amazingly, Cannon also sat in his exersaucer completely entertained as we ate.  That baby is so happy and chill.  (See my pictures here, and a few more of Ben's here)

"Dinner" took place in the early afternoon, so then after there was much time for football watching and drowsiness.  Zach and Jen watched the Texas game (D drifted in and out), and I managed to finish my NaNoWriMo novel.  Wheeee!  =)  Didn't really expect that to happen when I started out.  ; )

Friday we had talked of heading out to Big Basin, but the weather turned gloomy so we decided to stick closer to home incase we got rained out.  So we went to Deer Hollow Farm where D discovered his love of pigs.  Seriously, he was entranced by the pigs, and kept saying "Pig! Pig! Pig!" over and over again.  Which prompted Zach to make many jokes about pigs, those magical animals that give us such varied and delicious foods.  We did start getting drizzled on as we walked back to the car, but no biggie.

Saturday we all went up to San Francisco to enjoy a bit more time together and save Jenny from a long commute back on the train.  The weather was gorgeous, if a bit windy, so we hung out at the beach for a while, had lunch at the Beach Chalet (something Zach's always wanted to do) then walked around the Legion of Honor. By then D was getting a little cranky, though he still had fun rolling his toy car down a hill.

Loving that we still had one more free day to our weekend, we spent Sunday doing some of our usual routines like walking to the farmer's market in the morning.  D had a pretty great day, seemed in good spirits and all... then woke up crying about 2hrs after going to bed.  I got him back to sleep, noticing he felt pretty hot but thought maybe it was just from being too bundled up while sleeping.  He woke up again half an hour later, still felt hot, so I took his temperature-- 103.  Yikes.  This was at about 10pm, I think.  I gave him Motrin, tried to get him to go back to sleep, didn't work, let him play a bit, and we finally both got back to bed by, oh, about 2am or so?  I think Zach then got up with him again at 3:30.  It's amazing he (meaning D) was as chipper as he was when he woke up this morning.

His fever was lower this morning (101) though climbing back up again.  He seemed to be acting fine early this morning, but then started being clingy and just wanted me to hold him.  I tried getting him to fall asleep several times as he looked so tired, and he'd sleep for a few minutes, but then always wake right back up again.  I finally got him down for a nap about half an hour ago, and hoping he sleeps for a while to catch up on some rest.  So far he doesn't have any other symptoms other than the slightest bit of a runny nose, though I've mainly noticed that after he's been crying so it could just be from that... but it kinda scares me a bit, since if he had major snot or something else that was obvious I'd know what to chalk it up to.  A fever w/o anything else along with it could mean all sorts of other (scary) things.  But, he hasn't yet had it long enough, or high enough, to need to do much about it yet.  I haven't given him any more Motrin since last night since I want his body to be able to fight off whatever he's got, and it seems the fever itself helps with that.

So, we'll see.  The weekend was great!  Monday?  Not so much.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

give thanks

Just a few things I'm thankful for today:

  • My loving,supportive hubby, who has been getting up at 4:30 am with the kiddo the past week or so to let me sleep in, and hardly ever complains about it.
  • Our son, who is healthy, happy, agile, bright, wonderful, adorable, and so many other wonderful things.
  • The food in our fridge, the clean water that runs from our tap, and not having to ever worry about the lack of either. 
  • Technology. Our laptop, my beloved iPod Touch, my connections to a world lovely people far and near who have provided love and support when it's been needed the most.
  • Dear friends, who invite us for festive dinners, who don't mind us dropping by unannounced, who share in our everyday ups and downs and life with kids.
  • Family: my sister Jenny who is close enough to come down for Thanksgiving weekend; family in Texas who anxiously await our next trip home.  Grandparents for Donovan who in the past 2 years have flown more miles than I can count just to be nearby and help us out, and who are so actively, lovingly involved in his life.  
  • Zach's job-- the luxury of having one to whine and complain about.  
  • Nev and Sierra, our wonderful kitties whose furry wonderfulness make our lives better.  
  • And, of course... pumpkin pie.  ; )

Monday, November 23, 2009

my muse, my challenge

You know, despite having some severe apprehensions, there are times when I do look forward to having another baby eventually.  For example, I was just thinking how nice it will be to have an immobile photographic model once again.  We bought our digital SLR camera just a few months before D was born, and he was my main subject for a long time.  He fascilitated my love affair with my 50mm lens, because he was a great subject for it.  I could shoot "wide open" and, because he didn't move much (at least for a while), it was relatively easy for me to get gorgeous results with fairly accurate focusing at even very shallow depths of focus.  Over these past two years I have found that I definitely gravitate much more towards this style of photography, with its delicious blurriness and infinite loveliness, and D has played a big part in me figuring that out.  (Also, Zach gets quite a bit of credit for buying our little "nifty fifty" to begin with, which is the lens with which I take the vast majority of my pictures and tend to feel the most creative).

And we had a blissful six months of immobile picture-taking joy.  Then he started scooting, and that was a slight challenge, but not too bad.  Crawling came next, and then walking, and suddenly pictures started getting quite a bit tougher to capture.  It's helped me improve on my ability to switch focus points faster, but mostly it's just tough to take good pictures of him.

And now?  Well.  Now he's figured out that there's a little screen on the back of the camera that shows him pictures.  And he is OBSESSED with looking through pictures (and videos) of himself and other family members.  He could literally sit at the computer for a good hour or longer just cycling through photo slide shows or home videos.  It's kinda scary.  Then as of this week anytime I pull out either my small point-and-shoot camera or the SLR he stops whatever he's doing, runs to the camera, and starts saying "Watch! Watch!" over and over, because he wants to see pictures on the playback screen.

*Sigh* Oh well.  As long as I'm able to get a good one of him every once in a while I suppose I'll be ok...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Small World

I signed up for Sew Liberated's Holiday Traditions Exchange this year.  I remembered her doing this last year, and when she announced it this year I lamented not being able to join since I don't crochet or knit or sew or do any of those other hands-on "handmade" craft ideas that came to mind.  And then I slapped myself on the head and said, "Um, did I not have an Etsy shop for most of this year??? DUH." So I signed up and am very excited to send some [left blank since partner might read this] along with the shared tradition and holiday recipe.  =)

But the funny thing that I wanted to share is, that the lady I got partnered up with happens to live in the bay area and work at a Montessori school that I visited while going through my training and that I would basically sell my left kidney to have D go to because it is not only an excellent Montessori program (complete with programs for art, music, cooking, etc; pre-K through middle school) but also offer language-immersion in both Spanish and French.  So, not only is it nice to meet another fellow Montessorian who lives in the area, but it's also nice to have another connection in case I decide to spend my days driving up and down the bay after all when D's ready to start preschool.  ; )

In other news, my friend Kathy has been doing monthly give-aways on her blog to help promote her book, Dirt & Sunshine (which I've already praised here), and I was the lucky winner of November's giveaway!  Which is awesome because I really wanted this particular set of prizes for the kiddie cooking utensils, since I want to get D a little kitchen for his birthday in a couple months (!!!! that soon already!!!!).  As part of the giveaway I received a pound of this amazing cinnamon, which is way more than I could ever use, and I'm planning to give some away as gifts to family, but if any of you would like a small packet of it let me know and  I'll give/send some to you.  Leave me a comment or email me at mightymarce at gmail dot com.

Friday, November 20, 2009

boobs & swine

Today has not been the best of days.  Part of the problem has been the change in mammography recommendations for women that was announced a few days ago (here's a pretty good article talking about the new recs and the controversy surrounding them).  For some reason this is weighing heavily on my mind... well, ok, maybe because I disgree with it or at least feel pretty worried about it (huh, kind of ironic...).  It seems a lot of the reasoning behind it is that for those women with slow-growing cancers, they'll have plenty of time to catch it by other means before it's too late, but women who happen to have fast-growing, aggressive ones... well, it's like they're saying "we're not very good at catching those and so we're just not really gonna bother, it's not worth it for us."  Which kinda feels like shit.

Zach instead feels it's a perfectly reasonable recommendation, that mammograms aren't that good at catching cancers anyway, and that this is a good way to lower health care costs.  We seem to be having trouble discussing this issue in a civil manner.

So last night we had a big fight about it, which left me in a complete and total funk all morning.  So D got to watch a lot of the Mighty Machines videos on the computer.  I really needed the break.

Things got better in the afternoon-- it helped a lot that I got a call from my doctor's office (Kaiser Permanente, by the way) to alert me that they'd (finally!) received a new shipment of the H1N1 vaccine for young children and that I could come in today to get D his shot.  I have to say I'm very impressed that they took the time to call their patients.  So after D's nap we went in, and I was afraid it would be an utter madhouse, but the wait was short and the whole thing pretty easy.  Except for the shot itself-- D is quickly recognizing the room where they give the shots and started crying even before the nurse got the syringe out.  But he's seemed ok all the rest of today.

So that's one big check-mark off our to-do list.  We'll see if they still have any left in a month when he needs the booster, but they also said this first dose gives 80-90% of the protection so if we don't get it for a while I'm not too worried.

And now it's Friday night and I'm up waiting for Zach to get home (went to a networking thing), and at least tomorrow's the weekend. And next week is Thanksgiving, which means a few extra days off (for him) and time with Jenny, who'll come down for a few days to eat turkey with us.  Looking forward to that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Backwards (on extended rear-facing)

We've been keeping Donovan's car seat rear-facing so far.  After reading up on how much safer it is, it became clear to both Zach and I that we really wanted to make sure D stayed rear-facing till he was at least 2yrs old, if not longer.

Over the past couple months I've noticed a funny thing.  We have a surprisingly high number of kids about D's age on our street that we've met recently, and I started looking at their cars and noticing that they all had their kids facing forwards.  And I'd see other kids about his age elsewhere, and notice them facing forwards.  Combine this with the fact that it's been getting a bit more tricky to get him into the car seat when facing backwards (and that he's started using the seat in front of him to push off when he doesn't want to be buckled in), and I've started thinking maybe we'd turn him around at his second birthday (February).

It's scary how easy it is to succumb to what "everyone else is doing."

Last night I mentioned to Zach how I was thinking we could turn him around at his birthday.  He did not agree.  So I did some more research (um, a 2 minute google search) and quickly found several sources, including the AAP, all strongly suggesting keeping young children rear-facing as long as possible (a few even addressing the rumor that extended rear-facing will mean higher risk of breaking a child's legs in a crash-- apparently there are no documented cases of this happening, ever).  I even found a photo gallery of kids 1-2 years and older in their rear-facing car seats.  I think it's what I needed to strengthen my resolve.

Luckily, D's car seat is big enough so he has plenty of room still.  His feet are touching the seat in front of him now, but he doesn't look uncomfortable at all.  He's WAY under the weight limit (he's 25lb, the limit on his seat is 35lb) and he still has plenty of room height-wise, too.

So, yeah.  I think we're gonna keep on keepin' on with the rear-facing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Day In France (sort of)

Saturday morning we headed over to a French Festival Zach had heard about.  It turned out to be mainly a big room full of people selling their French-themed homemade crafts, though they also had a crepes stand outside, a French story hour for the young kiddoes (hosted by Les Petits Livres, a netflix-like way to borrow French kid's books, absolutely brilliant if you ask me), and a dance recital.  In which they had a bunch of young girls dance the can can.  Not sure that was *entirely* appropriate, but oh well.  

The best part of it all was that apparently the entire local French community came out for this event, so we were hearing French spoken everywhere.  I swear 75% of those in attendance were French-speaking.  It's been over a year since we've been surrounded by that much French, and I must say it made me very homesick for Switzerland (can you be homesick for a place that wasn't really "home" to begin with? But you get what I mean).  

I saw tons of adorable crafts for sale, but the only thing we bought were some cards and a sampler set of macarons parisiennes from the Fleur de Cocoa stand.  I ate them all in one sitting yesterday, and let me tell you they were INCREDIBLE.  I'm honestly trying to remember if I ever had macarons that good while in Europe, which says something.  I think we'll have to make our way over to Los Gatos sometime to indulge in some more of their deliciousness.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

six word sunday: Peace, calm, quiet... finally some rest.

six word sunday challenge

After 2-3 weeks of VERY early wake-ups, D seems to be "sleeping in" till 6am again.  He's still waking up at night some (1-3 times on avg), but now also goes back to sleep quickly (instead of needing one of us to sit with him for over an hour).  I can feel my sanity slowly returning.  Sleep makes ALL the difference...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

nature basket

I recently came across a post on Sew Liberated (one of my favorite blogs- she makes me wish I were more crafty) about making a nature corner for her son.  I thought this was a great idea, to bring a bit of nature indoors.  The idea is to choose a few season-themed items from the outdoors and have a space inside to display them and get to talk about them with your kids, and then you can change the items depending on the season and weather.  However we don't really have a good spot for a permanent nature corner, nor is D quite old enough or disciplined enough to be trusted with object left on a table for him (they'd be strewn all over the house within about 5 minutes).  Remembering a small basket I knew I had somewhere, I figured I could make up a small nature basket for him, and I just so happened to have a couple pine cones (brought home from previous nature hikes), a miniature pumpkin that I bought for decoration before Halloween, and lemons from our tree just lying around.  I then grabbed a leaf that had fallen from the tree in our front yard, and voila!  We have a nature basket!
nature basket
nature basket
I called D to sit with me at his table and we looked at the items in the basket and talked about them some.  He really liked the lemon (he's played with our lemons before, we usually have an open container with a bunch of them lying around), and also the pumpkin and pinecones.  His interest lasted for just a couple minutes, about what I expected.  I'm keeping the basket up and away most of the time, and hopefully every so often as I remember we'll bring it out and talk about it again.  Then maybe when we're out on walks in the neighborhood or the park we can look for and bring home new items to add to our basket.  

Monday, November 09, 2009


Zach left this morning for a conference in LA, will be back tomorrow night-- at midnight.  Which means I'm solo parenting it for 2 days.  Tonight wasn't too bad, hopefully tomorrow will be the same.  We met up with Debbie and lil Maddie at the park this afternoon.  It was fun to catch up, especially since we actually were able to semi sort of hold a conversation, even if I did have to cajole D into staying inside the playground gate every 10 minutes ("Hey D, where are your trucks?  Trucks!  Go find your trucks! They're WAY cooler than going exploring the whole rest of the park! Please?").

I received an Etsy package today, always very exciting.  Last week I purchased a set of 10 cloth dinner napkins, and three cloth snack bags, from Evelyn Fields. I'm hoping to make a transition to using mostly/all cloth instead of paper napkins and paper towels.  We'll see how it goes, as Zach's not terribly supportive.  But I think I just need to figure out a good system for storing the dirty towels and then wash them all together on hot at the end of the week and hopefully he then can't complain about it.  ; )  I'm curious to see how the snack bags go, they seem a great replacement for ziploc baggies and are beyond adorable.

Last night I snuck off to a local write-in for NaNoWriMo, and over those 2.5 hours I wrote 4,500 words.  I've got a 2-3 day lead right now, which is nice.  Which is why I'm allowing myself to write this post before getting my daily NaNo writing done.  I think my main goal for tonight will be to plot out what I want to happen in the rest of the novel-- I've been literally making it up as I go so far which is ok, but I think I could benefit from having a bit more forethought into the scenes I want to write.

Also, I'm starting to gather as much info as I can about potty training (or "toilet learning" as I guess the term is these days).  D turns two in February, and I think it's about time to get a bit more serious about it.  Part of me wants to just go for it some weekend coming up, but since we'll be going to Texas for 2 weeks in December (for Christmas) it would probably be best to wait till the new year when we won't have any trips or other upheavals planned for a while. But, I would love to hear your stories/experiences/advice about potty training, either by leaving a comment or emailing me at mightymarce at gmail dot com.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

thoughts on family expansions

Soon after Zach and I got married we sat down and talked about when we wanted to have kids.  We discussed various potential plans and how kids would get in the way of them, but we were both set of having a family and so decided to just set a date and stick to it.  A kid will be inconvenient no matter how you time things, so might as well just pick a timeline and work the rest of life around it.

Soon after we had Donovan we started tentatively talking about when to plan for a sibling for him.  He have a "date" so far but it's much less strict of a timeline.  Every once in a while Zach will come home and start making comments about how nice it would be for D to have a sibling already so they could play together, how maybe we should go ahead and have a baby sooner.  The other night he was even trying to teach D how to say "I want a baby."

I then remind Zach if how much f*cking work newborns are, and he goes, "Oh, yeah.  Right.  Maybe we should wait a bit longer..."

Truth is, I'm terrified of having another kid.  But having only one is not really an option that's ok for either of us. I love having my big family and desperately want D to have at least one sibling to play with as he grows up, and to have those shared memories and experiences of our family when he's older.  I also think to the future, when whatever kids we have are all grown up, and what our current reunions are with all the people and activity and chaos, and thinking about holidays where you have a single child (and his potential family) to come over seems... lonely.  In the past I'd always wanted to have lots of kids, thinking of how great it'd be when they were older.  And part of me still wants that, it's just I'm not sure I could survive past the early years.

I've often read articles or blog posts of parents who worried that they wouldn't be able to love their 2nd (or 3rd, etc) child as much as their existing one(s), that they couldn't possibly have enough room in their hearts to let more children in.  I have no fear of that-- I know love is limitless and endless and that I will love any and all children I have deeply.  What I do worry about, though, is whether I have enough energy (and sanity) for another kid.  I often feel like I'm barely holding it together with one kid as it is, and it seems that these days one needs to have superhuman levels of patience and restraint in order to hold up to even basic standards for what makes A Good Mother.  I know this is probably not the best time for me to fret about all this since we've been having a rough few weeks over here-- D hasn't been sleeping well at all and we've been having to get up with him at least once a night, often for a good hour or more, plus very early mornings, making us all a bit grumpy.  I may not be in the most positive frame of mind right now.  But a newborn would mean, among other things, signing on for another year+ of nonexistent sleep, so it's not like I'll magically feel all well-rested and radiant, seeing sunshine and roses everywhere I go (I know we could possibly end up with a baby who sleeps better than D did, but it's also just as likely we could end up with far worse).

I realize it's silly, but part of me still feels like I must be a terrible person/mom for not being excited about another baby, for actively dreading going through that first year all over again.  The crazy thing is, I've always thought of myself as a fairly optimistic person, and I don't think D has been abnormally difficult as a kid... so why has it felt so hard?  Am I focusing too much on the negatives?  Am I having a week+ long funk that colors everything negatively?  Am I missing some sort of motherhood-is-wonderful gene?  Or is this how most parents feel and they just don't talk about it?

Bottom line is, we want another kid in the end-- we will not be satisfied as a family of 3. And so I suppose that at some point we'll just suck it up and take the plunge.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Day Five

So it's Day Five of NaNoWriMo, and so far I'm kinda kicking butt.

Last month I mentioned how I signed up to try to write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November.  I was a bit worried about how attainable this might actually be.  Thankfully, D has been cooperative enough so far,  so that between playing independently some in the morning and taking decent naps (other than yesterday and today) I've been able to more than meet my daily word counts.  In order to write 50,000 words in 30 days you have to write a minimum of 1,667 words each day, and so by day 5 you should have a total of at least 8,335 words to be on track.  As of tonight I'm up to 11,905.  WOOT!

Luckily years of daily blogging seems to have made me a speedy typist, which is probably the sole reason I'm this far ahead.  I timed myself tonight and was able to crank out 1,330 words in 30 minutes, or about 45 words/minute.  I've never timed myself typing before, so that's fun to know.  Also luckily, ideas have been coming quickly enough as well.  One key piece of advice that's constantly thrown around during NaNoWriMo is that you need to "kill your inner editor" (at least during the month of November) since it's pretty darn near impossible to get out 50,000 words in a month if you're also stressing about making them a decent gathering of words that actually make coherent sense let alone be interesting and intelligent.  As a very novice writer, I don't think I've yet developed that inner critic nor a good sense of what's "good" writing vs what's "utter crap" writing and so I'm more free to just put stuff out on the page and see what happens.  I'm still discovering if this is something that might become a long-term hobby or just a one-time try.  I'm also still discovering what kind of novel I'm trying to write, whether it will be a one-piece novel or if I'll need to add more stories along with it to complete the 50k goal, and if any of the subplots I'm considering will materialize into anything.  I hardly did any outlining or planning before November 1, so it's been interesting to literally just go day by day as far as what I think I'll write, with little more than  vague idea as to the general storyline.  I'm figuring out things I'm good at, and all the other things that I didn't even think about and have trouble with (like actually defining my characters and giving them history, past experiences, etc).

At least I have my chanchito and plot ninjas to help me figure it all out.  ;)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Motherhood: no matter what, UR DOIN IT WRONG

I've been noticing lately how I've become more self-assured over time, and care less about what others think of me or the things I do.  I still care some, of course, and always will-- but I'm not letting other people's (usually strangers anyway) potential negative reactions affect my actions as much as I once did.  I imagine some of this is due to the natural process of getting older and more mature... but I also think that a lot of it is a result of becoming a mother.

See, it turns out that moms are judged constantly (I know, who knew??).  All mothers are terrible mothers, to different groups of people.  If you stay at home, you're teaching your children that women are incapable of supporting themselves in the world; if you work, you are abandoning your children and letting their younger years pass you by.  If you let your child "cry it out" to learn to sleep better you're teaching them that the world is a cruel, awful place where they can't even trust their own parents; if you instead go to them at night every time they call and allow them to sleep through the night on their own terms, you are coddling them and will end up with a needy 15 yr old who still needs Mommy to rub his back to fall asleep.  If you spank you are a child abuser; if you don't you're raising spoiled brats who will never learn rules or discipline.

It doesn't matter if you read to your kid five times a day, or sing them songs, or play games with them, or take them to all their doctors visits, or sit with them for as many hours as they need in the middle of the night when they're sick, or that you love them more than anything else in the world and would do anything for them.  No, because of whatever specific actions deemed UNFORGIVEABLE by whichever specific group at the time, you have been deemed a BAD MOTHER.  End of story.

In other words, no matter what, UR DOIN IT WRONG.

As a result, mothers have two choices: either fall endlessly into deep pit of despair and guilt, constantly questioning your choices and motives to the point of crippling your very ability to make a decision; or grow thicker skin and the confidence to know that you are doing what's best for your kids based on the best of your abilities and current knowledge.  Every so often I find myself gravitating towards the former, but for the most part I think I'm managing to do an ok job of tuning out the judgement.

An interesting side effect is that I have become much more open-minded about different parenting styles and techniques.  I am not perfect by any means and still find myself criticizing other parents from time to time, but usually manage to stop myself mid-thought and remember that I don't know their situation or their motives.  Because motherhood and parenting are not one-size-fits-all, and there seem to be about as many "right" ways to do something, depending on what kind of kid you have, as there are stars in the sky.

Monday, November 02, 2009


So this morning D and I went to the park, and while there I saw a woman whom I vaguely recognized, but knew I must know since she recognized D immediately.  She asked how old he is now, then followed up with, "Are you pregnant again?"

Um, no.

Then this afternoon the Brazilian family from down the street came by (the daughter, her brother, and the grandmother).  The grandmother was talking with me and mentioned (as she has a few other times) how skinny I am.  And she doesn't say anything negative about it, but I get the sense she doesn't mean it as a compliment.  (particularly since she then followed it up a few minutes later by mentioning how much she likes Zach's mom partially because she is on the heavy side).

So I apparently look like a too-skinny pregnant woman today.  Go figure.

In other news, D continues to be a sleep-less grumpy puss.  I realized today that it's been a good 2 and a half weeks since he got this chest cold or whatever the hell it is, and perhaps we should get him checked out.  He's had a couple days of runny nose, but most days he seems fine... except for this random, on/off coughing that sounds like he has some major congestion down in his chest.  And the fact that his sleep has gone to pot due to the combination of cough and nasal congestion that comes on overnight.  (No fever at any point, though).

It started a few days before we left for Texas.  We were in Texas for about 10 days, and I think he slept through the night only 3 of those nights-- the others he'd wake up at least once overnight, congested and upset, demanding Mommy and no one else.  It's gotten slightly better since we got back, but he's still getting up a lot and taking a while to get back to sleep sometimes (last night I spent over 1.5hrs laying next to him in his bed waiting for him to fall back asleep... if I tried getting up he just screamed).  His mattress is elevated, we have a humidifier going in his room all night long...  and yeah.  It kinda sucks.  It means neither of us three are sleeping properly, making us all crankier and grumpier than is helpful for dealing with anything else.

So tomorrow we'll go see his pediatrician and I guess she'll check to make sure there's nothing else wrong with him, and unfortunately probably not have much else to offer and so I'm crossing my fingers that it all goes away on its own soon.  I just realized he may just have seasonal allergies, in which case just shoot me now.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shark Attack!! (doot doot do-do-dodoot)

One of the nearby downtowns had a trick-or-treat event tonight, where all the shops and restaurants had candy to give out to the kiddoes.  We took D down there and even though he's a bit young to get the trick-or-treating part, it was super cute watching him walk around in his shark costume (the may look like a regular ole shark but really the inspiration was this).  Everyone seemed to be a big fan-- a couple people claimed it was the best costume they'd seen.  There was one kid, though, dressed as Clark Kent-- he was I think about D's age, and had black pants and a white shirt like a business suit, his hair slicked back and glasses drawn on his face, and the white shirt was open to reveal a shirt with the Superman logo underneath.  Pretty clever.

We did get to introduce D to M&Ms down there.  He's already quite the fan of chocolate-- he can even ask for it, calling it "choc."  The funniest part?  Zach once tried to work with D on the hard "c" sound b/c he noticed that D was using more of a "t" when saying words like "car" and ever since then D's been exaggerating his hard "c"s especially when they come at the end of a word, so "choc" sounds more like "choKKKKKGGGGHHKKKK."  I need to get that on video.

While walking back home we passed a house that has some white Christmas lights strung up already, and it was getting darker so they had that nice glow, and I remembered recently also hearing Christmas carols playing in a store and the funny thing is normally I'd get really annoyed at Christmas coming so early but this year I find I'm really looking forward to it-- I think b/c I'm anticipating how much more fun it's going to be now that D can participate more in all the rituals and traditions, and that is really, really exciting.  So instead of getting annoyed at Christmas coming even before Halloween, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside thinking about how fun and sweet it will be to introduce D to all the joys of the holiday season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Springtime for Hitler! (or, the comedy of errors that is Zach's soon-to-be-non-existent employment situation)

Last Saturday, while D and I were still at my mom's in Texas, I got a call from Zach.  He was telling me about how the night before he'd gone out drinking with one of his coworkers and a few other friends, singing karaoke at a bar and then going back to one of their houses and jumping in the hot tub, etc... pretty classic drunken night, reminiscing of bachelorhood.  Then he says, "By the way I have something I have to tell you, and I've been debating about telling you now and potentially ruining your weekend or waiting till you get back home..."

Ooookaaaaay...  At this point my mind's racing, I'm imagining that he crashed the car, or maybe even managed to drunkenly make out with his married coworker or something.  I make him wait while I go up to a secluded bedroom upstairs and close the door, and braced myself for whatever he had to say...

Turns out his boss had pulled him aside Friday and told him that there was going to be a massive reorganization at work.  A bunch of lay-offs, whole divisions being shut down.  His current position will no longer be there once the new year starts, but they're wanting to offer him other positions within the company... though they'd all would be in areas that involve lots of travel, which we've already decided is not ok for us.  Oh, and the announcement about all this wouldn't be made till Wednesday (yesterday) so we couldn't tell anyone.

I must say, I was actually quite relieved.  Ok, so it's not great news-- but we've kinda been expecting this for a while now.  Maybe not this exactly, but the past year or two for Zach working there, it's been like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion, for a good month now Zach has been reaching out to contacts and trying to find a new job, hoping to leave his current place by the end of the year anyway.  Things have been going downhill for a while-- he almost left a few years ago, right before they offered us the Geneva deal (which Zach figured at the time was a really bad decision for the company, but hey it's hard to turn down a chance to live in Europe on someone else's dime).  At every crossroads along the way, the top decision makers have gone in the exact opposite direction that Zach thinks they should've gone (and that the company's original goals were in).  And I know Zach may not be a genius or expert in all this, but things have slowly unraveled, and every formerly-profitable company they have bought and taken over has been run to the ground (including the place in Geneva, which was dismantled mere months after we moved back), and the spin-offs or rival companies that have gone in those other directions, are doing ok or even succeeding.  By the way, some of our expat bills and even our taxes from last year are still not resolved because of how incompetent certain parts of this company are.

Each day this week he's come home more bewildered and flabbergasted than the day before.  All the good people are leaving or planning to leave.  The people left who are supposed to be in charge of the new business plan have been proven to be incompetent and ineffective.  It's all just surreal.  Through unrelated events I recently became painfully aware that there's a certain class of people who, no matter what, remain completely oblivious to their own mistakes and errors and instead continue to believe unfailingly in their own rightfulness.  It appears this place is run by a whole bunch of them, blind to all the bad decisions they've made that have brought the company down.  That, or they're purposefully going for a The Producers-esque approach and just trying to make it all fail.

Right now it's all mostly just amusing.  I suppose I should be more worried, but being the loving, faithful wife that I am, I have full faith that Zach is a talented, desired employee who will find another job easily (hopefully before the end of the year, but we also have a cushion of several months' worth of savings in case it takes longer).  He's got a couple places he's been talking to (has an interview with one of them later today) each of which could be a good fit, and hopefully will give some sort of offer in the next couple weeks.  If those fall through, that's when it'll get a bit more scary-- I still think Zach will be able to find a job, the question then will be if he can find one here in the Bay Area or if we might have to move.


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