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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

swine flu & heart disease

I got my flu shot today, so now all 3 of us are covered for the seasonal flu (or about as good as we can be).  I tried getting D his swine flu vaccine today, too, but they ran out of the injection while we were in line.  I'd been waffling back and forth somewhat on getting the swine flu shot, but in the end I don't believe the vaccine is evil, and I strongly believe in innoculating ourselves in order to keep both us protected and also to prevent this spreading to those who are more compromised and more likely to suffer complications or even die if they do catch it.  So I'll have to call over the next few days and try to keep up with when they get new supplies of the vaccine.

In other news, I found out today that a friend of a friend had a heart attack-- this is the second young, healthy female, aged 25-30, that I have personally known, who's suffered a heart attack.  Hello, scary.  By the way, did you know that heart disease is the leading killer of women over 25?  So take a moment to click that link and read up on the risk factors and warning signs for women, b/c they're a little different from men.  Makes me want to get in gear about figuring out a work-out schedule I can try to stick to (for once).

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We're back.  Currently a bit annoyed at computer issues, but hey it's a lesson learned and the world certainly isn't ending and overall it's very nice to be back home and with Zach, etc.  D seemed glad to be back, too, happy to see his room and his toys and everything.  The flight went pretty well, he even slept for 1.5 of the 3.5hr flight.  I have no idea how parents travel solo with more than 1 kid.  The flight itself went well enough, but going thru security, getting on and off the plane, and getting luggage afterwards just seem 100x harder when you have a kid (and his car seat) to deal with.  Thank god for his monkey backpack leash.  I don't care who thinks they're cruel, that thing's a lifesaver when I need to keep a hold of D but still use both hands for something.

The last few days back in TX were good.  Thursday night Mom and I went to my old high school's football game to watch my younger sister dance (was that a trip down memory lane... WOW).  Friday was extremely uneventful (and I very much liked it that way).  Saturday I spent part of the gorgeous afternoon enjoying a coffee and book down at Mozart's, then that evening a bunch of my mom's family came into town so I got to show off lil D and hear stories about Mom and her cousins when they were young.  This morning Mom, Philip, and Cristina took D to church while I met up with a friend for an incredibly yummy breakfast at Magnolia.  It's so easy to slip back into Austin lifestyle sometimes, it almost felt wrong to hear "San Jose" as our destination on the flight.

I've actually already unpacked, and Zach got the kiddo off to bed early and surprisingly easily.  I'm hoping he slips back into usual routines rather than continue not-good ones that come up when he's away from home... like the fact that the past week he's been sleeping closer to 8 hrs a night, when he usually gets 10-11hrs.  Crossing my fingers against a 4am wake up call...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clogged noses, sleepless nights, and farewell parties

And somehow it's already Thursday...?

Donovan's been fighting some kind of cold all week, it started even a few days before we came here, so all week he's been congested, coughing some, and a runny nose off-and-on, and sleeping very badly most nights.  I think we've had maybe 2 nights this week when he's slept through from 8/9pm till 5/6am.  It's such a huge help to have all the grandparents around to help take care of him during the day, but ultimately I'm still the mama and the one he's been demanding loudly, and so I'm still the one who ends up having to get him back to sleep at night, and who he demands to snuggle with during the day, and the end result is I'm kind of a little bit tired.  Just a little.  You know.

Sunday afternoon a bunch of our local friends came by to hang out for a bit.  The weather was gorgeous, and it was fun to see all these kiddoes running around in the backyard, kids that were now full-grown toddlers but were a few weeks/months old last time we saw them.  One of Zach's oldest friends, Butch, was there with his wife and their little boy, who's just a few months younger than D, and it was very cool to see them play and see that friendship extend to the next generation.  It was also the first time, I think, that we got Donovan and his 2 cousins, Ryan and Mira, all together, a moment I commemorated by taking about a gazillion pictures of them together.  I can't help it, they're all just so darned cute.  =P

Monday we took D to a nearby park and ran into our friend Bodar and her 2 kiddoes, which was a very fun and lucky coincidence.  Afterwards Philip practically forced Zach and I to go on a date, giving us the keys to the MR2 he's "trying to sell" (but really loves having), so we drove out to The Salt Lick for an early dinner.  It's been forever since I've eaten there, it was a nice reminder of how damn good their meat it.  It was also cute to see the room where we held our rehearsal dinner oh so many years ago.  ; )

Tuesday we all went to the playground at Zilker park to meet up with Jessica and get to see baby Liam.  D had fun running around and playing, and it was fun to get to actually talk with a friend knowing he was being taken care of by others.  Zach flew off back to California in the afternoon, and then that evening I went on a total flashback of a night, driving down to UT campus for the first time in I don't even know how many years (driving down 24th street at night brought back so many college memories...) to see the farewell Austin performance of one of my favorite bands of all time, The Hudsons-- made up of Hudson Mueller and Brian Hudson, and if you're in Austin or have ever visited then you'll know them or should at least recognize the names b/c I probably pushed you to go see them at Waterloo for their Thursday night gigs.  Zach knew Hudson from grade school, we started going to his shows in college.  Then Brian joined him, and I swear I spent every Thursday night for 2 years in college at their shows.  I adore them, they are insanely talented musicians and very fun people.  And now after 8 years they're breaking up since Hudson's now moved to NYC.  I am sad to see the end of this era, but so, so glad I got to see that last show with them, and I cannot wait to see what their next musical ventures will be b/c I know they'll be good.

Finally, yesterday, Wednesday.  It rained.  I went to the mall and Target for a bit of solo shopping (I also really really want to head down to "SoCo" to shop at Parts & Labour but I know I'll end up spending a bunch of money there, it is inevitable, so I'm kind of trying to avoid it for now).  My youngest sister, Katie, is a senior in high school, and we'd planned to take some senior portraits for her yesterday evening, and luckily the rain held off just enough so we got to take a few shots just out in the backyard.  I'm hoping we can do a few more maybe Saturday morning, we'll see.  I do think we got some good stuff yesterday, I'm downloading the photos right now and it's taking FOREVER since I opted to actually use RAW files.  I'm curious to see how long a process it will be to edit them...

Here are the pictures I've gotten around to uploading so far.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Grandparent Land

So we're in Austin.   We flew out yesterday morning, our first time to try the new route via Alaska Airlines, and frankly I might like them better than American.  I swear the seats were bigger.  D did fine on the plane, even slept for a little bit.  Still exhausting to entertain him for 3hrs, but hey it could be A LOT worse.

The whole grandparent posse was awaiting us at the airport, all super excited to get to see the beloved grandchild.  =P  We came back to mom's house, had something to eat (well, 3 bites for D...), tried to get D to take a nap (NOT happening), played some more, and then Lindsey and Ryan showed up for a little bit and you should have seen D's face when his cousin Ryan walked in the door, he was SO EXCITED.

And then bedtime came.  We decided to try having him sleep in a pack-n-play bed.  It took a while and a few tears to get him to sleep, partially b/c the poor child was so incredibly overtired and overstimulated not to mention that he hardly ate anything other than cheddar bunnies and yogurt puffs all day.  But. he eventually went to sleep... then woke up crying around 9 or 10pm.  Then again at 11.  Then again at midnight.  Not to mention that he's showing signs of being able to climb out of the pack-n-play.  So I brought him into bed with me, and after about an hour of tossing and turning and really wanting to go to sleep but having trouble, he FINALLY conked out and slept in till 7:45am (his "usual" california time...).

As frustrated as I was about the night's sleep, he my heart melted when he woke up, looked around, and first thing out of his mouth was, "Ryan? Ryan?  Ryan!" And went off looking for his cousin.  Unfortunately (well, for us) she's off with her dad today, but he'll get to see her tomorrow.  Till then he's got plenty other people to keep him occupied.

Everyone's watching The Game right now, don't know what the day's plans might evolve into.  There were thoughts of finding a pumpkin patch to take D to.  Or maybe we'll just hang out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day, and the theme this year is climate change.  What does this mean?  It means that over 7,000 blogs all over the interweb will be writing about climate change today, in order to help bring awareness and, hopefully, a swift kick in the rear to all of us to take action.

I wanted to start off my post by mentioning a brilliant piece I came across yesterday at the California Academy of Sciences Climate Change blog, about how current cooling trends don't in any way discredit global warming or the fact that it very much is still happening.  My favorite part, which must be shared, is this quote here (emphasis in my own):
"For example, the BBC ran this piece entitled “What happened to global warming?”. The answer, in a nutshell, is NOTHING...  So what’s all the fuss about? I’ll try to explain. But first, let me be blunt: the natural world does not give a fig about our opinions, whether we support (”believe in”) or deny (see here) human-caused global warming."
Zach and I agree that both a) climate change is real and is happening, and b) we are causing it.  We have still, however, manages to have multiple heated debates on the topic, as we do disagree on the extent of the damage that it may bring, and on what should be done to prevent it.  Having seen both An Inconvenient Truth and HOME, I am (understandably, I would think) very much alarmed about what our future holds.  There are so many dire predictions, such as that by 2050 25million more children will starve thanks to shortages of food brought on my climate change.  I don't necessarily think that climate change in and of itself is evil, since it's been happening throughout the Earth's history-- climates have always changed, and they always will.  But will we be able to keep up with the changes and adapt well enough to survive?  Are we causing such drastic and unnatural changes that we'll be leaving our children and grandchildren to live in a toxic dump?  Are we dooming the next generation with problems that could be fixable today, but will be far beyond repair tomorrow?

The scariest part is that we truly, honestly, just don't know what will happen and what the consequences of our actions will be.  This leads me to panic and think of the worst outcomes.  Zach, instead, tends to brush off the more dire predictions (figuring that if they're true we're probably all screwed already as it is) and views climate change as a problem, but one much lower on the priority list.  With limited resources of time and money, he feels we should invest in dealing with other future problems, like not getting in a war with China (which he is convinced will happen, has been predicting it since high school).  That, basically, none of this climate change stuff will matter if we end up in a nuclear fallout.  True, I suppose.  But won't we still be screwed if we save ourselves from nuclear world war, but still end up with little food and water and all out of our usual energy sources?  

All that said, we may disagree on what the Big People In Charge should do, which is kinda silly anyway since our direct power over what they do is about nill, but at least we agree on the little things we can try to do in our own lives, every day.  Like using energy-efficient lightbulbs, driving a more fuel-efficient car, walking when it's an option (and luckily in our current location, it surprisingly is), carpooling, running a backyard compost pile, using biodegradeable/compostable diapers, recycling and opting for recycled products when available, reusing items when possible, buying used and using/passing on hand-me-downs, supporting eco-conscious corporations (such as SimpleShoes and Pangea Organics) and eco-friendly products when buying new, and a number of other things we strive to do which are overall just about trying to conserve.  Because that's what it all often comes down to-- the vast majority of the time, "green" choices mean toning down consumption, whether it be of energy or other resources.  And even if you're not into  the "green" movement... shouldn't we all be about not being wasteful?

Clearly, we're not perfect-- tomorrow the 3 of us will be boarding a plane that will spew toxic gases directly into the atmosphere just so we can go visit family.  Not very eco-friendly.  But, we try our best and do what we can.  And I urge you to look at your choices every day, and look for ways you can conserve on energy and waste in your life.  It sounds corny, but small changes really can make a difference.  If you can't muster up enough motivation to do it for yourself, then think about your kids.... and do it for them.  They're the ones who will inherit this massive problem.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

rainy blahness

Rainy days always seem to make me feel "off."  Especially one like today, the first rainy day of winter, when it hasn't rained in months.  Or certainly not constantly, all day long like this.  The lighting in the house just feels "off" (hate having to turn on the lights, rather than get enough natural light in), and it just throws off my whole sense of the day and time.

I'm wondering if this was why when I later, during D's nap time, read an unfortunate article online, it bothered me so much.  The article itself wasn't too bad-- had both good and bad bits to it, talking about whether mothers are as free to make the "choice" of going to work or staying at home as we make it out to be (one big point they made was realizing that most stay-at-home mothers are actually poor women who can't afford childcare even if they work-- but then they refused to acknowledge that just b/c you can afford childcare, doesn't mean you can afford to then opt out of work).  But, article aside, my biggest mistake here was reading through some of the comments, in which it was basically decided that everything that is wrong in our society can be traced directly back to stay-at-home mothers.  There were some pretty ridiculous statements made that were new to me (we're in a recession because of men who work 80hr jobs, and they only work those jobs b/c their wife stays at home to support them and take care of the kids and IT'S THE WIFE'S FAULT HE WORKS SO MUCH), but most came down to the usual crap about how if you're not bringing home a paycheck (doesn't matter what kind of paycheck-- apparently a job at McDonald's would suffice) you're not making any sort of meaningful contribution to society and are even doing active damage by throwing women back in time 50 years.

Which is the biggest load of bullsh*t.  I could go on and on about WHY it is such crap, but I'll spare you.  At least for today, anyway.

And I usually am pretty good about letting that sort of idiocy roll off my back, but for some reason today it just stuck, and it left me feeling angry and just plain awful.  And it was in the midst of this state of being setting in that D woke up from his nap, a mere 45 minutes after falling asleep, this being the one and only nap he'd take for today.

The following hour or so was not a fun one.

But, after a bit of cooling off and D being in a good enough mood to just play while I vented to Zach on the phone, I felt better and we even made an outing to the Discovery Museum for the afternoon.  Unfortunately I have not been able to locate a single umbrella within our household, and the parking situation at the museum leaves much to be desired (read: long walk in the rain) but at least it wasn't coming down too hard so not a huge deal.  D had a blast playing and exploring, which is what counts.  We even found a super cute frog umbrella at the gift shop.  Yay for silver linings.

In completely unrelated news, I did something kinda silly today.  I signed up to be part of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as it's affectionately called by those crazy enough to participate... which I guess now includes me).  The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.  It doesn't have to be good or decent even, just written-- it's an exercise in getting you to just write rather than get bogged down in trying to come up with a fabulous story.  My sister has done every year since 2004 and is a HUGE fan of the program.  Why did I sign up?  I'm not quite sure.  Last time I tried to write fiction was in early high school, when I'd make up these incredibly cheesy short stories.  Do I actually have time to really attempt this?  Not really.  But, it could be fun.  And it could be a fun bonding experience sharing this with my sister.  And, who knows, this could become a new hobby, or maybe just a new creative project to do for a month just to say I tried it.  I'm thinking that instead of a full-on novel I'll try a series of short stories all on the same theme (a la Jhumpa Lahiri, though hopefully less depressing), possibly tying them all together at the very end... if I get that far.  The nice thing about short stories is I should at least have something completed, even if it's nowhere near the official goal.  So, it'll be a fun adventure.  Though as a warning, it may mean slow blogging for November...

EDIT: Realized to day is "Martes 13" aka the Chilean equivalent to Friday the 13 perhaps that's part of why it was not such a great day, either... ; )

Monday, October 12, 2009

table project: complete (well, mostly)

Months ago I bought Donovan a furniture set from Ikea that included a kid-sized table and 2 chairs, made of unfinished wood.  It was cheap, and I figured I could paint it myself and maybe even do something cute with it to make it special.  Turns out the painting process made this a much more pricey piece of furniture than I'd intended, though part of that was because I really wanted to use an eco-friendly no-VOC paint and the one brand I found (the FreshAire Choice) only sold gallon-sized cans of it.  But, Cyrus is kindly making D a small bookshelf (modeled after this one from Pottery Barn Kids) so we'll be able to use the same paint for it, too, and have them match.

Here's the before shot (only pic I could find, lol)

Here's how the project turned out:

The primer and base green color are the FreshAire Choice paint, the trees were painted using Behr samples.  The tops of the trees are D's hand prints- if I was gonna paint this myself, I wanted to do some sort of personalization with/of him.  What I did was, I put some paint on a paper plate, stuck his hand in it, then patted his hand on each spot a couple times.  I was worried about how this process would go, that he'd throw a fit or not cooperate or end up getting paint everywhere, but he was surprisingly docile and happy with me guiding his arm.  I later went back to paint the tree trunks.  I must say, I'm really impressed with how it all turned out.  I was worried that the reality would not at all match the picture in my head.  ; )

Originally I'd also thought about using some of the leftover dark green or brown paint to paint some accents on the chairs or table, like a trim, but I doubt I'll bother with it.  I think I still need to paint some sort of top coat on it (online tutorials were not consistent about this).  But, I'll let D play with them until I'm ready and able to do that last step.

Friday, October 09, 2009

getting practical

I've been trying to involve Donovan more in little chores around the house both to help me get them accomplished, and to get him involved in our household and into the habit of helping out.  About a month ago I experimented with letting him help unloading the dishwasher.  He's helped with it about 3-4 times since then, and we've only broken one bowl so far.  ; )  Here's a video of D helping Zach with the dishes:

Another thing I've let him help with is feeding the cats.  He's extremely interested in the cat's food, so I figured I'd give him an acceptable way to get to "play" with it instead of yelling at him to leave it alone.  We keep a small measuring cup in a tupperware container with the extra food, and D gets to scoop out some food and put it in the cats' food bowls.  We end up with half the food on the floor, but he then also helps pick it up and doesn't complain too much when the bowls are full and it's time to put the food away.  He gets a kick out of helping with this (especially since Nev usually comes tearing into the room as soon as he opens the food container), and amazingly has stuck to not playing with their food otherwise.  I might look for a different tool for scooping out the food as it's a little tough for him to dig the cup in well enough to get much in it, but he also doesn't seem frustrated by it so might be fine as it is.

He's been showing more interest in helping get himself un/dressed, helping pull his pants up and down by the waistband, stepping into/and out of the leg holes, and getting his arms in and out of the sleeves.  It's really cool how all of a sudden one day he'll be able to do something, or want to, that he wasn't able to before, like a few days ago when I was getting him ready for his bath and he figured out he could pull his pants down (well, with some help) and then he kept pulling them up, then down, then up, then down, just thrilled with himself for his new discovery.

With cold and flu season approaching, I'm realizing how bad I am at washing D's hands when we get home or before eating, so have been trying to figure out how to set something up to make it easier.  Holding him up to the kitchen sink, and helping him wash his hands at the same time, just doesn't cut it.  Neither do most of the foot stools made for kids, as apparently those aren't meant for kids younger than, say, 5 (way too short to reach anything).  I thought about finding a surface where I could set out 2 bowls, one with soapy water and one with clean water, to wash his hands in, but couldn't figure out where to do that.  What I've finally settled on, is to just take his high chair and push it over to the sink when he needs to wash his hands.  He can use the footrest to climb up and stand on the seat, and reach the kitchen sink well enough to wash his hands (and my own hands are free to help him), and then when he's done I take it back to the table.  If anyone else has other ideas for a more efficient way to do this, I'd love to hear them!

One last story-- yesterday afternoon I washed a load of laundry and decided to air-dry it instead of using the dryer.  D was playing out on the patio, so I invited him to help me hang up the clothes.  The load included a lot of his bibs and washcloths, so I took one or 2 and showed him how to hang them on the lowest shelf of our drying rack (which is at his level).  I then starting hanging the rest of the clothes up higher.  He kinda got the gist of it...  as in he started taking handfuls of the wet clothes and putting them in a single pile on the rack.  He kept this up till there were no more clothes left in the basket... and then he proceeded to take the pile from the rack, and put them back in the basket.  He even started taking clothes I'd already hung and trying to put them back.  And then he did it all again, repeating the whole cycle of basket-to-rack-to-basket about 3 times.    In a way it was annoying to see him undoing all the work and even dropping a bunch of the stuff on the dirty ground, but it was also pretty darn funny.  And, also very cool to see the classic "cycle of activity" that's so often talked about in Montessori, where kids will do something over and over again with the motivation of simply doing, rather than how we as adults do things in order to get them done.  He eventually got tired of the laundry and went off to play with something else, letting me hang the rest of the stuff up properly.  So, trying to do chores with him takes a good bit longer than if I did them myself... but it's pretty fun to watch him get involved and how excited he is to help.  He may be no Edison, but I'm ok with that, and it's just so incredibly cool to see him do these things and usually surprise me with how well he does them.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

introverted introspections

So I started reading this book called Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  It was highly recommended by a friend who found the book very helpful to her in learning to deal with her daughter, and loved how the advice allowed for the fact that kids will react differently to all different scenarios (as opposed to all the other books that tell you that "most" or even ALL kids will behave a certain way no matter what, which let's face it is absolute bull crap).  A "spirited" child (love that term, by the way) is defined in the book as one who is much like normal kids- active, energetic, sensitive, loud, intense, etc, just... more so.  They go above and beyond what's in the average range of being, and so can be more trying and exhausting to parent.  They're the kids usually labeled as difficult, stubborn, even obnoxious.  What I'm already loving about the book is how it tries to turn your thinking around to see these traits, which can be so infuriating, in a more positive light (like that many of the things we find so irritating and inconvenient in kids are highly praised in adults).  Language is an incredibly powerful tool, especially when you take into account that kids will live up to the labels they are given so you might as well give them positive ones (eg, using "determined" instead of stubborn, "selective" vs picky, etc).

So I started reading it, and although I'm only a couple chapters in it's already been an eye-opening experience.  I feel justified to realize that, yes, Donovan IS quite active, stubborn, and pretty erratic/irregular when it comes to his daily eat/sleep "routine", probably more so than the average kid-- that these are real challenges.  At the same time, I read about the other characteristics of these kids they're writing about, and counting my blessings at how low-key D is in so many other ways-- he's not very sensitive to changing stimuli and adapts incredibly well to new people, situations, and changes to his routine.  I don't think D falls into the category of full-on spirited child, more like borderline spirited, but even if not everything mentioned in the book applies to us there seems to be a good bit of useful info to be gleaned.

In the beginning it goes through a list of different temperament traits and you go through and evaluate your kid based on them (how sensitive, perceptive, adaptable, regular, etc your kid is).  Then, and I love this, you also evaluate yourself.  Because so much of parenting is the way you and your kid interact and play off each other, what you work well together on and what instead pushes each other's buttons.  For example, I felt like a lightbulb going off when I realized the traits D and I are most different on is energy level-- he's always on the go, and I'm quite happy to sit and just be.  No wonder I'm exhausted all the time, trying to keep up with him.

But then I read the part on extroverts vs introverts, and felt like I kept having mini-epiphanies the more I mulled over the information on the pages.  The book explains how people tend to be either extroverted or introverted, characterized mainly by whether you tend to draw your energy from being around other people (eg, feel energized after spending time with friends) or from time on your own (eg, preferring to sit alone reading a book).  I've heard of all that before, so no big surprises... but then they went on to talk about other personality traits that are often associated with extro/introverts, like that extroverts tend to think by talking-- they need to talk about something out loud to someone else to really process it, and to help them solve problems.  They also tend to enjoy being close to people and around people, often need lots of feedback and reinforcement from others, and at the end of a long/stressful/busy day they might be bursting to talk about it with others.  Introverts are more introspective, need time to think something over on their own before being ready to talk it over, need more personal space, time to work on projects uninterrupted, and at the end of a busy day need time to unwind (usually alone) before feeling ready to talk about it or deal with others.

I guess none of that is too new, either, it all makes sense... but I guess I haven't spent much time really thinking about it before, and suddenly I felt like I was having all these insights into my marriage.  Zach is a strong extrovert.  He's always been extremely social.  This has possibly been one of his bigger challenges as a parent, how much harder it is to make time for other adults, and there have been many friday/saturday nights where he's been practically bouncing off the walls just bursting to call people up to make last-minute dinner plans or SOMETHING, just to get to interact with others.  Me?  I've got some extrovert tendencies, like that when I hear a funny joke or read an interesting article I immediately want to share it with others (which is why some days I spew links all over Facebook, and why I love Twitter so much), but for the most part I am definitely an introvert (which also explains why I feel so much more comfortable interacting via web-- email, blog, facebook, etc-- than over, say, telephone).  The book went over some different conflicts that frewquently arise between intro/extroverts, focusing more on problems between a parent and a child having a hard time relating, and little lightbulbs kept going off thinking of how Zach and I have had these same issues-- I remember us having these serious talks and him getting so frustrated because I'd quiet down (introvert) just as he needed to talk and to hear me talk (extrovert);  how frustrated I get when I'm in the middle of something when Zach comes home and wants/expects my attention right away (even if I've been really looking forward to seeing him); or the way I sometimes get annoyed when he needs to rehash any problems going on at work, things that have been long-standing or that I may just be bored of hearing about (things we may have gone over many times before), and now realize that is his way of simply working through and processing the information, and figuring out what to do next.

I also realized that my introvertedness probably played at least some part in why it felt so stifling to breastfeed a baby who refused bottles-- I literally had to be there for him every 2 hours for that whole first year of life, which made it so much harder to get time away, time to myself, time to recharge my own energy stores.

I think he's a bit young to tell quite yet, but I have an inkling that Donovan is more of an extrovert.  I'm judging this mainly from the fact that he's always seemed so much more comfortable with new people and large groups of people than babies/toddlers are apparently supposed to be.  I don't think we ever really hit that "stranger anxiety" phase (or very mildly if we did).  Which is interesting to know (that he may be an extrovert), as that might also be a challenge as he grows up and demands lots of attention and energy from me, and how I may need to plan for him to have frequent interactions with others so I don't end up totally drained.

The lovely Meg over at Sew Liberated recently mentioned how she started keeping a parenting journal to write down her thoughts, ideas, frustrations, etc and help sort through them.  My blog serves as that in some ways, but I really love this idea of keeping a separate place for the more random, less concrete thoughts.  I'm also realizing that while I'm glad to reduce the amount of paper (and desk clutter) I use to write down little notes, to-do lists, etc, by "electronifying" them (my iPod Touch and Evernote are working out really wonderfully for that), I still have a need to indulge in the physical act of writing things down with pen and paper.  So I started a parenting journal of my own, and one thing I'm doing with it is writing down notes from these various books I read, ideas that resonate with me and that I want to remember (rather than loving as I'm reading them, and then forgetting as soon as the book goes back on the shelf or to the library).  Looking through the journal, and adding whatever thoughts I might have at the end of the day, will hopefully be a way to keep these ideas fresh in my mind... and also perhaps one good way for me to "recharge" at the end of the day.

Monday, October 05, 2009

rough & tumble

Lil' D has been  having a rough week.  It was just Wednesday that he fell and bit the hell out of his lower lip (which is thankfully healing nicely, and very quickly).  Then this morning, about 10 minutes before we needed to leave for his pediatrician appointment, he managed to fall off the shelf in his room and cut the hell out of his finger.  I searched all afternoon trying to figure out what he could've fallen on that was sharp enough to cut him like that, and I think it was the chair we have in there-- this big, overstuffed armchair that Zach has had since college and was old even then, and there's the end of a bare wire sticking out of one corner.  So we'll have to remedy that.

I wasn't even in the room when he fell, but was getting stuff ready for us to go and heard this big crash and then Donovan SCREAMING.  And I didn't even realize it was his finger for several minutes, I guess since he had his arms around me and the first thing I always check when he falls is his face and especially his mouth and teeth.  Then I noticed that he had a gash on the top of his left-hand pointer finger, just above the knuckle. It was a good thing, I guess, that we needed to leave for the doctor's anyway, so they could check it out.  I tried to rinse it off and put a bandaid on it and that seemed to stop the bleeding for a bit.

D took a long time to calm down after the fall (that cut must've HURT), and then to have to be poked and prodded by nurses and his pediatrician afterwards, and then on top of it all to get STUCK WITH A NEEDLE (he needed the 2nd dose of his flu shot), it was all a bit too much.  Luckily he overall seems fine and healthy (23lb10oz and 33" tall, about 15% and 50% respectively-- about what he's been for a while now) and the cut is kinda deep but she didn't think it'd need stitches.  Just said to keep it clean, put ointment on it, and keep a band-aid on it partially just to act as a makeshift "splint" to kind of immobilize his finger somewhat (since bending the knuckle will likely open the cut all over again).

We got home from the doctor's at about 10:30am.  D has fallen asleep in the car, went right down to sleep in his bed, and didn't wake up till 1pm.  I think the trauma of the morning just really did him in.  Surprisingly he was in pretty good spirits all afternoon, and didn't mess with his band-aid at all or try to pull it off.  Though taking the band-aid off, cleaning the wound, and then re-band-aiding it afterwards was once again somewhat traumatic.  I don't know how much of that might be from his finger hurting or just the horror of having to keep his hands still and being held by someone else.

I did sit him down and have a talk right before bed about how he needs to be more careful with these falls, because if he keeps hurting himself CPS might come after Mommy and that would not be a good thing.  He asked if Sierra and Nev could be his legal guardians, and I reminded him that cat food doesn't taste nearly as good as it is fun to play with, and after that he seemed to agree with me and said he'd watch himself more carefully from now on.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Butterfly Garden

So back in, oh let's see I think it was um APRIL, I ordered this Butterfly Garden kit from For Small Hands, a wonderful website that sells lots of Montessori-inspired things, from child-sized gardening equipment to arts and crafts to wonderful nature books.  I know I will be ordering many, many things from them in the future.  I've had my eye on this butterfly kit for a while, as the Montessori preschool where I used to work would do this project with the kids every spring.  The kit comes with the mesh "garden" for when the butterflies hatch, and a coupon to order your 5 live caterpillars when you're ready (this depends on what you plan to do, if you're planning on releasing the butterflies then you need to wait until overnight temps stay above 55F.  The caterpillars come in a cup with all their food all set at the bottom).

I knew this would be a bit advanced for Donovan, but thought he'd get a kick out of it anyway.  And, really, I would get a kick out of it, too. ; )  I tried to take pictures every few days (using a mix of my 50mm lens and my point&shoot camera's macro setting) to show their growth and the different stages.  It really is pretty fascinating.  D showed a good bit of interest in the caterpillars and butterflies, especially if he saw them moving.  We kept the butterflies for a few days after they hatched, and then let them go-- it was neat watching them, but after a while I just felt bad for them with so little space to fly around.  That said, I'll probably get the kit again next year, for myself as much as for D...  and perhaps that time I'll also borrow a true macro lens to get better pictures of it all. ; )

April 16 (day 1)

April 22

April 24

April 27

April 27 (transferred from the cup to the mesh garden)

May 11 (empty chrysalids)

May 13

May 13 (letting them go)

More pictures here.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Yesterday morning I was clearly being WAY TOO SLOW getting ready, so Donovan was throwing a bit of a fit outside on the patio while I rushed around inside, and in his running around and crying he managed to trip and hit his chin against the cement step.  His mouth filled with blood, and for a few moments I was TERRIFIED that he'd really hurt himself.  After a few minutes he stopped bleeding, though, and calmed down, and just kinda laid snuggled up against me for a good 5 minutes before he was ready to be off again (and start demanding we leave the house).  I figured he'd cut his lip and maybe bit his tongue, it was only later in the day that I took a closer look and noticed a big gash inside his lower lip, which is now fairly swollen.  Luckily it's not bugging him nearly as much as I know it would me if it were my lip.

We're all feeling a bit tired these days.  Zach and I continue to stay up too late (ack, how is it 10pm already???), and D continues to wake up way too early (5:40am the past few days) along with occasional wake-ups in the middle of the night.  He's started needing a morning nap again, at least some days, and I'm stuck between letting him get the sleep he desperately needs (he keeps falling asleep on our walk back from the park in the morning, and staying asleep even as I get him out of the stroller and into bed), and trying to keep him up in hopes he'll sleep better at night instead. It's gotten much cooler all of a sudden, which is nice during the days but makes for a cold house at night-- the insulation here sucks, and the central heater is kinda weird, and so basically D's room gets pretty cold and I'm trying to figure out ways to keep him warm enough overnight.  Today I bought a twin-sized fleece blanket for his bed, hoping it'll be big enough to still cover him even if he rolls around a good bit, and I also put in an alchemy request on Etsy for a sleep sack like this one (except with long sleeves) and have gotten a few offers, so hopefully we'll have that soon, too.   I may also have to figure something out for a humidifier for his room, as he's starting to get stuffed up overnight (which then wakes him up, since he can't breathe especially when sucking his thumb).  We had one last winter but I didn't like it very much, and now that I've moved things around in there and he's so much more mobile I don't know where I'd put it.

Life is full of little puzzles.


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