Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Surprise! You're Gonna Give Mommy a Heart Attack!

Surprising Toddler Skill #1: Yesterday afternoon Donovan asked to go play outside in the patio, but said he wanted me to stay inside. "Mommy stay inside" he said, with that adorable little grin on his face. The patio is enclosed with a tall gate, and I can see him through the windows, so I have no problem letting him go play in his ride-on fire truck out there by himself.  Indeed, it was a very nice break to get some stuff done.

About 15 minutes later i started hearing our garage door opening and closing. Not the big door that lets the car in (I'm not even sure that one opens, honestly... we haven't tried it at all, and it's blocked with all our crap anyway) but the doorway that leads from the patio into the detached garage.  I looked outside, and sure enough I must've left the door unlocked and D was opening the door, going inside the garage, then closing the door, then opening again, stepping back outside, and closing the door. Repeat, over and over and over.

I step outside to check on him, and he smiles at me, steps back inside the garage, and closes the door... and then I hear him kind jiggle the door handle.  "Huh," I thought. I went to turn the doorknob... and he had locked it. The handle has one of those little knobs in the middle that you can turn to lock the door from the inside (who invented those, anyway???).  I wondered if he had done it on purpose, or by mistake.  But then I heard him jiggle the knob again, and open the door, and he started laughing... that mischievous laugh like he knew he'd just done something really cool.  And then he closed, locked, unlocked, and opened the door again, and then said, "Mommy can't open the door!"

And see, the thing is, our front door also has one of those little locks on the doorknob.  He's been able to open the door for a while, but I've been wondering when he'd figure out the lock. BTW there's also a deadbolt that he can't reach--yet--so I can still keep the door locked and him inside, but now I'm worried about him locking the door on me when I go out to, say, check the mail.

So I'm thinking we'll need to find a good secret outdoor hiding place for an extra key.  That or make sure to always carry a house key in my pocket if I try to step outside.

Surprise Toddler Skill #2: A few months ago when D started waking up waaay too early to be decent, we settled on the following routine-- at night, after he went to sleep, we'd put a sippy cup of water and a tupperware container with some snacks in his room, along with some special toys. Then we closed the childproof gate at his doorway. When he woke up, he could turn on his own light, eat a snack, and play, until a semi-reasonable hour (6-6:30am) when we'd get up and open the gate to let him out. This has been working pretty well most of the time.

Imagine our surprise when D runs into our room this morning, with a cheerful "Hello!"  Before either of us had gotten up.  As in, isn't the gate supposed to be locked?  There's a possibility Zach might've left the gate open last night... but we're pretty sure it was closed.  Which would mean D opened the childproof gate by himself.

Which would be, um, very not-good.

Methinks this kid is too friggin smart for our own good...

Monday, March 29, 2010

showing off

I am now 3 months into this 365 project, and things are going well.  There have been plenty of days when my daily photo is a crappy one that I snapped in a hurry, and hardly picked up my camera otherwise that day (and times when that crappy photo ended up turning into something I really liked after all)... but, I've also been pleased to make some great captures (if I may say so myself).  And I figured I'd take this moment to show off a few:


365:2010 set on flickr.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Give-Your-Toddler-A-Bike Exercise Regimen

Zach arrived home early from work today and just relieved me from Donovan Bike Duty.

I bought D a bike on Wednesday.  He already has a balance bike we bought months ago, but it's still too big for him to use.  A regular 12" kiddie bike, though, with training wheels? He can not only ride one very well, but has shown that it is about his favorite activity in the whole wide world.  So I was very excited to get him his very own bike to ride, so he would no longer have to mooch off his friend's bike.

I'm still unsure whether that was the best $40 I've ever spent, or the worst...

See, ever since I showed it to him Wednesday afternoon, he's been wanting to ride it non. stop.  Wednesday we rode the bike for 2.5 hours straight, all around the neighborhood.  Thursday we rode for 1 hour in the morning, then another 1.5 hours in the afternoon.  This morning i held him off by taking him to the Children's Discovery Museum instead (which, note to self, DO NOT GO IN THE MORNINGS. I didn't think of this before, but this is when all the schools groups come and the place was beyond chaos. The times we've gone in the afternoon have been much more manageable).  Then this afternoon he had literally been up for maybe 15 minutes before he was asking to go ride his bike again.  I think we headed out around 3:30pm, and it's now almost 5 and he and Zach are headed towards the park.  And he's so obsessed with riding the bike and it makes him so happy, that he's barely interested in anything else at all.  At the park he'll get off and play for maybe a few minutes at a time, then want to get back on and ride around the playground in circles.  It's really, really awesome to watch him catch on so fast, and learn all these little things-- how to stop, how to steer, how to turn himself around, how to get on and off all by himself, how to get off and shift the pedal so he can get himself going without help-- and I am truly, incredibly amazed that he's doing all this stuff already. Not to mention that he's got to be riding a good 2-3 miles each day.

I am also very tired. I thought I was in half-decent shape, but walking all over the neighborhood following the kiddo around has shown otherwise.  I am seriously beat.  We'll be riding and he will be clearly getting tired, but won't want to stop.  What's been happening is that at some point he gets hungry enough that the promise of food will convince him to head home.  We're a little worried about him tiring himself out too much, or hurting his legs, or something, but I figure his little body will tell him when he's had too much.

And by the way, while we're on this subject... these things?

I don't know what these are called. They're some sort of seed pod for some tree that grows all through our neighborhood, meaning these little sticky ball things litter all our sidewalks.  And I've never paid much attention to them before (aside from taking a picture or 2)... until now.  Because now as D tries to ride over them, if he's not going fast enough, they get stuck on the training wheels and make him stop, and get stuck.  And it's kind of really annoying.

Just thought I'd throw that in there.

I may go take a nap now...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

mindramblings (therapy through blogging)

I sit here drinking the cup of tea I had completely forgotten that I'd made (why yes, I am the daughter of the woman who frequently abandoned mugs of coffee in the microwave because she was reheating them after having forgotten about them... again), knowing I should get my butt in bed already but half wanting to wait up for Zach, who returns tonight after being gone at a trade show for work the past four days.  An interesting one it must have been, promoting both his soon-to-be former company and his resume at the same time.

Solo-parenting the past few days hasn't been too bad... a good sign since there's more to come.  This weekend Zach will be going skiing, something I not only OKed but actively encouraged since he's hardly had the chance to ski the past few winters, and who knows how much longer we'll be living here.  Then next week he'll be gone for 3 days to Michigan, for a job interview... and to scope out the town to see if we'd want to live there, if the job is offered.

But then! Then, after next week, he'll be done with work.  And I know I should be worried and anxious about my bread-winner husband being unemployed, but honestly I'm really looking forward to having some time with him here at home with us.  The awesome thing is that thanks to WARN he'll still get full pay and benefits for a few more weeks (and then severance kicks in after that) so we'll still have some income.  We're talking about treating it as a little vacation-- taking time off, maybe doing some (relatively inexpensive) trips nearby.

Aside from the Michigan interview which is scheduled, Zach has 2 other interviews that have been all but promised-- one in Washington (state) and another in Boston.  We're trying not to really think about it too much until we know if there will be any firm offers to accept or decline, but at some point we may have to make the decision between taking a job that moves us away from here (and, yes, I have noted that each of the 3 locations mentioned above is a) very cold and b) much farther away from our families in Austin, with travel times increasing by 2-3x) or sit and wait for something to open up here.  In the hypothetical discussions we've had so far, we've gone back and forth so much that I really have no idea what we'll do.  And, again, it's kinda pointless to even think about it when we don't even know what the possibilities will be.

One thing that's really interesting to note, and this is what I love about marriage that you can be with someone for so long and still be surprised by little quirks you discover, is that Zach has always (at least since graduating college and becoming a professional) freaked out about money.  He'll worry about how we're not saving enough, and maybe we won't meet this goal or that goal, and we talk about money a lot (and it often turns out that the things he freaked out about, end up fine).

And here we are now, in this situation that could make a money worryaholic go NUTS, and he's as calm as can be.  It helps that between his severance package and our savings we should be ok for a while, but still-- it cracks me up that in this time when he could and possibly should be freaking out, he's calm and confident and figures everything will turn out ok.  We joke that it's his contrarian nature.

But it's also very nice, as it helps me stay calm, too.  I have moments of panic-- do I want to move from California? How do I feel about potentially living someplace with months of snow?  How will it work to live someplace that's much farther from family, with Zach working long hours at a start-up, right when we're wanting to have another child?  Do I feel right asking Zach to find a job in Houston (someplace we both swore we'd never want to live, what with the smog and humidity and sky-high cancer rates and all) just so we can be closer to family?  And on the flip side, gosh, wouldn't it be nice to go to one of these other places where we could afford a place with a legitimate guestroom rather than making my poor mother sleep on a mattress on the floor of our living room when she visits?  (and I know everyone says they don't mind, but I kinda do-- we're grown-ups with a family now and we should be able to provide better)

I'll start feeling my heart race as I think about these things, and instead I'll absorb Zach's calmness and remind myself that there's no use worrying about this yet, and that things will most likely work out and turn out fine in the end. And because I have had the luxury of this being true most of the time so far in my life, I am able to believe that it will continue to be so.

Wordless Wednesday: heading out for happy hour

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ebb and flow

Recently, maybe just last month, it's hard to remember exactly, I felt like I went through a period where I was having a really difficult time.  I was constantly frustrated, never had any patience, raised my voice at D too many times for no good reason.  I don't know what it was, but I had enough faith to know it was temporary and would pass.

Now I'm on the opposite side of the spectrum, it seems.  I still lose my patience with him here or there, but I  also can't seem to look at him without swooning at his beauty and adorableness, and then swooping in to kiss his cheeks.

Some of this might be attributable to his actions and moods, but I swear most of it comes from me, and I wish I knew what made the difference.  I guess I'll just enjoy this while it lasts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Are Slings Dangerous?

There's been some uproar lately about new reports that slings and "babywearing" are dangerous, with a handful of infant deaths blamed for their use.  I am a huge fan of slings in general, as my trusty pouch sling was so very incredibly helpful to me in those early months with D. There were many times when D was cranky and tired and nothing would calm him down except a nap in his sling, snuggled up against me.  So while my heart goes out to the parents who have lost their babies, I raise a skeptical eyebrow to the notion that all slings are evil and should not be used.

For one thing, the type of sling that has apparently caused the most trouble is called a "bag sling" which I had never heard of until this story came out (and I've researched slings a LOT).  Bag slings are like pouch slings, except they appear to be worn much more loosely, almost like a purse.  The fabric covers the baby almost completely, so it kinda makes sense that one could suffocate in there.

We used a pouch sling, which does pose some potential risk-- the baby is placed in a curved "C" position, which in a newborn can cause their chin to tuck too far down into their chest and cut off their airway.  This is something that I read about on the very websites where I bought my slings, something they cautioned about, and gave tips on how to avoid (such as folding or rolling up a small blanket at placing it behind baby's upper back/neck/head to help keep them in a straighter line).  So I don't see this as a "hidden" danger.
I was very aware of D while wearing him, often checked his breathing, position, comfort, etc.  I found it very easy to do, since he was right there at my chest.  All I had to do was look down.

I also think it's important to note that "the new advisory points out that many of the babies who died were premature, had low birth weight, or had a cold or other breathing problems." (source)

Given all these factors, I have to agree with Moxie when she says that "Saying that all slings are dangerous because some certain brands have failed is like saying all cars are deathtraps because certain Toyota models have failed."

The bottom line is, if you take the time to find out how slings work, and are aware of what to look out for, they are perfectly safe and can be a huge benefit to mom and baby.  This is just like any other product-- infant car seats are only safe when used properly.  Cars are safe when driven properly.  Forks and spoons are safe as long as you don't poke anyone in the eye with them.  Just like almost anything else, slings and baby carriers are perfectly safe when used correctly, as well.
Here are some great links with more information on all this (expressed more eloquently than I think I'm managing to do):

**Free Range Kids puts sling dangers into perspective, relative to other everyday "hazzards" (like the 600 people who die each year by falling off furniture... maybe couches should be banned?)

**Baby Sling Safety Blog explains what a bag sling is, what to look for when using slings, and how to use them safely.

**One Tired Ema writes a wonderful post with lots of down-to-earth advice on baby-wearing.

These are just great baby-wearing-related links, for anyone interested in using slings or carriers with their kiddoes:

**TheBabyWearer an incredible resource to help you figure out the best type of sling for you, how best to use it, and has forums for asking questions.

**BabyWearing Times Two look, you can even use slings and wraps to wear twins!

If you have found others, feel free to add them in comments.  I also am happy to give advice and help with figuring out slings (what kinds work best for what, how to wear them properly, etc).  I'm not a huge expert, but I have researched this stuff a lot.  One Tired Ema above brings up the excellent point that those of us who have used slings, are often more than happy to help others who are trying to figure it out.  If it doesn't feel right, you may not be doing it quite right-- ask for help! Or, it may not be for you. Some babies, and some moms, just hate slings, and that's fine, too.

But don't be scared off a potentially great tool just because of a few scary, misinformed headlines.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Yosemite Recap

Way back in the day my husband used to spend a lot of time hiking and camping.  He's backpacked through parts of California, Colorado, Australia, and New Zealand.  He loves spending time outdoors. Camping is the only time when he will willingly rise at the crack of dawn without complaint or effort.  The mountains seem to have a calming effect on him, especially if he's able to get in a good, long hike.

So, it's no big surprise that he's been itching to share this love of the great outdoors with his child pretty much ever since we had one.

Last Friday morning we packed up our gear and drove towards the mountains to spend 4 days at Yosemite National Park.  No, we didn't camp-- we chose to stay at the Yosemite Lodge, with its walls and roof and beds.  But, it was a bit of a "test run" to see how D handled the traveling, the hikes, etc.  Zach is already asking when we can go on a "real" camping trip, sleeping in a tent and everything.  I may have to push for us to wait till he's out of diapers...

The drive up went great, the kiddo slept a good bit of the way, and we stopped halfway at a truck rest stop a friend had tipped us off about to let him stretch his legs.  We arrived friday afternoon amidst a mild rain storm.  That didn't stop us-- we donned our water-"proof" gear and went on a short hike anyway.  Donovan discovered the complete and utter joy of stomping in puddles.  It was love at first sight.

Friday night it got cold enough so that the rain turned to snow, and a couple of inches had accumulated by morning.  That morning was just plain stunningly beautiful.  The sky was already clearing early in the morning, so that the sun's early light peeked over the mountains and lit up the snow-covered trees. The pictures I took that morning are among my favorites of the entire trip.  We gave D a chance to run around in the snow a bit, taught him how to make his first snow balls (which he promptly tossed at Zach and me), then we loaded him up in the backpack carrier and walked the short hike up to Mirror Lake.  Which was also incredibly beautiful.  On the way back we made a quick stop at the Ahwahnee, then back home in time for a nap... for all three of us.  In the afternoon we went by the Lower Yosemite Falls trail, took some pictures of the waterfall, then let D lead the way for a while before heading back to the room to change and go to dinner at the Mountain Room restaurant.  It was a great meal, both in terms of the food and also D's patience in allowing us time to eat it.  We even got to roast s'mores by the fireplace (D refused to try any of them, though).

Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast at the food court at the Lodge, then tried to hike the Vernal Falls trail.  Most of the snow in the valley had melted, but this trail was still shaded enough, and the day early/cool enough, that the trail was still pretty icy and we didn't feel comfortable trying it so instead we walked along the Merced river for a while, then played some more in one big patch of snow we came across.  That afternoon D took a looong 2.5hr nap while Zach went on a solo hike to burn off some energy.  Upon D's waking and Zach's return, we walked along a trail right behind the building our room was in, had another snowball fight in some not-yet-melted patches of snow, then had dinner at the Mountain Room again, and finally tried to get some sleep.

Our room had a king bed in it, and alongside it we requested a cot, took the mattress off it, and laid it on the floor by our bed to give D a place to sleep.  This set-up worked really well Friday and Saturday night.  Then Sunday night came.  I think that long nap we'd enjoyed earlier that day sabotaged his nighttime sleep, and at about 9:30pm we let him get in bed with us and he finally fell asleep.  Luckily, with a king bed, there was plenty of room for all 3 of us (normally I have a really hard time sleeping if he's in bed with me... which is why we hardly ever do it).  Then there were some issues in the middle of the night with D's nose being too stuffy so he couldn't breathe through it.  So not the best, but then again 1 bad night out of 3 while away from home is pretty good.

Monday we managed to get up, get dressed, pack up, have breakfast, and check out by about 9:30am.  Not sure how that happened, honestly.  We drove to Tunnel View to get the classic pictures overlooking the whole valley, then went to the Tuolomne Grove to check out some giant sequoia trees.  The trail leading in was high enough that it was covered in snow, a good couple of feet of it.  We didn't quite get far enough to see much of the actual grove, but we got a good hike in and D had fun playing in more snow. We even found one tree that had been partially hollowed out with a hole just big enough for D to fit inside (yes, I got a ton of pictures of this).  Soon enough we headed back to the parking lot, where we had a small picnic lunch to tide us over, and where D got to drool over 3 very large snow-clearing trucks parked on the side, before getting back in the car and driving on home.

Other than a couple of meltdowns when he was getting tired and/or cold, D was in a great mood the whole time.  The stars aligned for us or something, that or he just takes after his daddy so much that he's happy just to be outside.  We did get him to say "Yosemite National Park" and he kept repeating it over and over.  All in all, it was a pretty awesome trip.  I'm hoping we get to do stuff like this on a fairly regular basis.

I still have Monday's pictures (wherein D discovers the joys of eating snow!) to tag and upload, but here are the pictures I have gotten to so far:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three Cups of Tea and Pennies for Peace

Catherine at Bay Area Baby Blog asked me to mention an event happening in Palo Alto, CA this Saturday morning.  Her son's school is holding a garage sale inspired by the book Three Cups of Tea.  The garage sale benefits Pennies for Peace, an organization that promotes education and helps schools and students in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Education is power, and whenever populations gain in their education, huge gains to their society as a whole tend to follow.

Here's a break-down of the impact your pennies can have:

1 penny = one pencil
2 pennies = one eraser
15 pennies = one notebook
$2 to $3 = one teacher’s salary for one day
$20 = one student’s school supplies for one year
$600 = one teacher’s annual salary
$5,000 = support for existing school for one year
$50,000 = one school building — 5 years support

This is a great way to help out a wonderful charity, and possibly score some great stuff for yourself, too.  ; )

When: Saturday, March 20, 8:30am- 2pm
Where: 305 N. California Ave, Palo Alto, CA

Check out the Facebook Event Page for more info.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Trying to find the words (talking to kids about race)

Recently I've been hearing lots about "colorblindness" and how to talk with children about race.  It seems white parents, at least in the US, tend not to talk to our kids about race at all.  The idea is that children are naturally "colorblind" and to bring up race will cause them to start to divide people according to race, and eventually to racism. If we don't ever talk about it, they'll never "notice" race and will thus never make assumptions based on someone's ethnicity or skin color.

Studies show that this approach is failing miserably.

It turns out kids are really good at picking up differences between groups. They segregate themselves into groups based on gender pretty quickly, and just as they figure out what girls look like versus what boys look like, they also figure out that one person's skin can be much lighter color than another's.  And if parents don't talk about these differences, or as is often the case won't allow talk about them (the belief being that talking about race = racism) then kids are left to make up their own ideas about skin color and people who are different from them in general*, and research is finding out that these ideas are often the very opposite of what we want our kids to learn about race.

Not that it's easy to talk about these things. Part of why white people are petrified of talking about race, is that we don't really know how.  We're not sure what is the proper language to use, what exactly we're supposed to say, so we're afraid of saying the wrong thing and being called racist for it.  As a protective mechanism, we instead choose not to deal with it at all.

But it is important to talk about it. We just need to learn how.  The book NurtureShock talked about this a lot (a highly recommended read, by the way).   So, I'm starting to explore online for resources on dealing with race and how to talk about it.  And, I'm now trying to find childrens books about different races and cultures and about multiculturalism in general, for exposure and as jumping-off points for honest conversations about race as D gets older.  Last week during my D-free time I went to Barnes & Noble and browsed through the kids section and found one book that blew me away: Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa.

It's based on the story of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and focuses on how she involved local women in Kenya to plant trees to replace the massive deforestation in the area.  It's an amazing story, and probably will go a bit over D's head for now, but I am still so excited to share it with him.  What I love about this book is that not only does it tell the tale of people from a far-away land (leading to conversations about Kenya, and Africa, and African people and customs, etc), but it is also a story about environmentalism and conservation, AND an empowering story about WOMEN taking charge and doing something incredible for their community (and yes, even though he's a boy, he still needs to hear stories of women taking charge and being leaders, just as much as girls do).  It's like a triple-play.

(As a warning, there is one part of the book where they mention Wangari being hit by the government men and put into jail because of her anti-deforestation protests.  I'm struggling with how to handle those two pages... part of me wants to maybe just skip them for now, part of me thinks they serve as part of another complex but important lesson about the world)

Another book I found that's much simpler and much more geared towards a young audience is Mem Fox's Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes.  We borrowed it from the library a while ago and D really liked it (it's a simple story about different babies born all over the world but they all have 10 fingers and 10 toes, which a nice repeating rhyme) so when I saw it on the shelf today I grabbed it as well.  She's also written another book called Whoever You Are that I want to try to find and read.

So, those are my meager resources that I have found so far.  I would love to hear feedback and other recommendations for books to look for to add to our "multicultural library."

* I'm focusing on race in this post, but all the same things could be said about any group different from our own kids' experiences-- people of different cultures and with different customs (who might dress and act differently than we're used to); people with mental/physical disabilities; homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender people; etc.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh, Snap!

I keep being surprised by parenting, arriving at stages and challenges that I though I didn't have to worry about quite yet.

This afternoon D and I had been playing outside, and then he came in and started asking for a snack. We went to his high chair, and that's when I realized that the crayons he'd been using earlier were still spread out all over the floor.  So I said, "Hey D, come help Mommy pick up the crayons." He said no. Usually he's pretty good about pitching in to help me pick something up.  I don't normally do this, but I then said, "Please come help mommy, and then you can have a snack.  No snack till after the crayons are picked up."  He again said no, and then sat in his chair looking at me for a minute.  I guess he was trying to figure out if I was serious or not.  And then I guess he decided I was, so he got back down off the chair and said, "Go play outside again."

As in, "Fine. If I can't have my snack, then I'm just gonna stay hungry and instead go keep playing. I'm certainly not helping pick up the crayons."

I looked at him and actually said, "Are you kidding me?"  It was such a clear act of defiance.  And then I was stuck... what do I do? I laid down an ultimatum, so I couldn't budge.  But I also clearly couldn't force him to do anything.

I ended up letting him play by himself in the patio, deciding to kind of ignore him for now, and about 10 minutes later he asked to go on a walk in his push car. I told him we could go after we picked up the crayons, and that time he came right away and helped me pick them all up.  So I suppose I "won" in the end, but I got totally blindsided by that power struggle.


So tomorrow morning we're leaving for a 4-day trip to Yosemite.  I'm super excited, as I think this will be really fun-- hopefully D's first time to play in snow, and also just a fun family vacation out in nature (we're not camping, not brave enough to try that yet).  However, this trip seriously snuck up on me and I have not planned for it at all, and so while I managed to get some packing/organizing done today, Zach and I have much work to do tonight in order to get ready.  We're hoping to leave by about 9am tomorrow. I'll be impressed if we manage to stick anywhere close to that...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mornings with Pam

It's been a couple of weeks now since D started going to Mrs Pam's home 2 mornings a week, and it's going pretty well so far.  Most of the time when I ask him if he likes going to her house, he smiles and says yes.  He'll cry when I leave, but lets her pick him up to wave at me through the window and overall seems very comfortable with her.  It appears he has a good time while he's there, and he's always very happy when I get back and likes to show me some of what he did (while also being quite ready to high-tail it out of there and go back home... lol).

Yesterday morning I was getting us ready to go, and D seemed a bit less enthusiastic.  I asked if he was excited about going to Mrs Pam's, and he said, "No. Stay at Donovan's house?"  He seemed a little out of sorts so I sat down with him a minute and talked about how it must feel sad when mommy leaves, but that I will always come back, and then we'll come back home to Donovan's house afterwards.  He didn't really react to this, but I like to think it sank in a little.  He didn't put up too much of a fight on the way over, and then once inside I could see his little face starting to contort into a cry as he realized what was going to happen... but then he stopped. His lower lip quivered, even as he waved me good-bye, but he didn't cry.

And it's moments like those that tug at my heart because he seems so grown up.  It takes a lot of emotional maturity to say to yourself, "I'm really sad right now, but I'm not going to cry because I know it's going to be ok," and that seemed like exactly what he was thinking.

When I picked him up again a few hours later, I was impressed by two things:

1) He took his jacket off all by himself, for the first time ever.  They had just gotten back from a walk literally minutes before I came to the door, so Pam said he'd still had his jacket on, zipped up and everything, when she came to open the door for me.   Not 2 minutes later when I saw him he had the jacket off, and said to me, "Donovan take jacket off." I saw him do it again later that day, too.  Very cool stuff.

2) Pam said she had let him use a pair of scissors to cut around a piece of paper, and that she'd been very impressed with how well he handled them and how concentrated he was making his small cuts.  She asked if he'd used scissors at home-- no, never. I'd never thought of it, so we don't even have a pair of child-sized scissors yet.  I'd figured he was too young to try it... but I guess not.

If Zach hasn't found a job by the time his notice runs out and the severance kicks in, then we'll cut out D's mornings at Mrs Pam's.  But for now we'll keep it up, partially because her rates are incredibly reasonable; partially for the break it gives me; and partially because of the lesson I learned yesterday with the scissors.  Being in that different environment, with a different adult, means he's getting exposed to different things I wouldn't have thought of, and I think that's a wonderful thing and a great lesson to him (and me) of how much wider his world can be and the breadth of his abilities.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Charity Auction to Raise Money for Chile

Last week I was contacted by Heather Gardner who writes the blog Fire and Ice, showcasing reviews of books, music, photography, and jewelry.  Having lived in Chile for a year and a half, she decided to put together a silent auction on her site to benefit the victims of the recent earthquake in Chile, and asked if I would consider donating items for her auction.

Of course, I was delighted to help out. =)

There are two ways you can participate:

1. Visit her Fire and Ice Facebook Fan Page, where you can leave bids for items up for auction. The way you bid is you leave a comment on the post with the item you wish to bid on, which means you have to "fan" her site first (which you can un-do later, if you wish... or keep it, as she does lots of other giveaways that might be interesting to know of).  My items are the set of 4 photo cards featuring 4 photographs from Viña del Mar, and a choice of 8x10 photo print from my chanchitos set on flickr.  There will probably be additional items from other donors added over the coming week, as well.

2. Visit her Fire and Ice blog to enter a special give-away of the photo cards set and 8x10 print (and others, added throughout the week).  See giveaway posts for details on how to enter.

I hope y'all will considering participating, and let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks!

Friday, March 05, 2010

the hunt

There is something both exciting and terrifying about unknown, open possibilities.  Zach and I have actually had a good bit of experience with this situation.  Newly engaged, about to graduate from college in Texas, Zach was still in the midst of his job hunt, knowing we'd be moving somewhere within as little as two months but not sure yet where that somewhere would be (ended up being here, California).  Then the Geneva opportunity came up, though that was settled fairly quickly.  But then we spent some portion of the last 6 months there unsure of when we might return-- would they kick us out and back home within a month (as we feared at one point)? Would we stay another year?  As it was, I don't think we had more than 2 months notice when we did end up coming back.  So, one could say that uncertainty has always been a part of our marriage.  (though, happily, never about each other)

Zach is now deep into his job search.  There are a few opportunities that are local.  And there are a few that would require us to move.  All of these are very much dreams at this point, as all we have to go on are emails or phone calls with not so much as an interview scheduled (... yet).  But it's still kind of fun and exciting to toy with some of these potential opportunities, and think about what they would be like.  There's one that could even take us back to Europe.  It's a long shot, and I'm not sure we'd take it right now if offered... but it's there.  And I will admit I drooled a little last night while doing some research on life in that potential city, because it would be pretty badass.

And then there's another job, that is just so damn perfect (for what we BOTH want at this stage of our lives/career) that it's almost too much.  Zach doesn't quite fit the experience they want, but they seemed impressed with him over the phone. It's another long shot but... maybe?  I mean, I almost think it HAS to happen because The Universe can't possibly be so cruel as to dangle the absolute perfect opportunity in our faces and then not give it to us, can it?  What? It can? Hm.

Who knows. It's still so early in the game, it's impossible to tell what will happen.  He could get five interviews next week, or none.  I'm married to him, so of course I have to believe that Zach is a highly talented, and highly desirable, employee that someone will want to snatch up quickly.  Between that and a little luck, I'm hoping things work out.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

sisterly weekend

So, Saturday morning after freaking out about the Chile earthquake and whatnot, Zach and D drove me to the Caltrain station so I could head off for some sister-bonding time with Jen.  D was very excited about the trains, as usual.  Last time he was at the station he was with my mom and dropping Jen off, and they met with the train conductor and even got a tour of the conductor's driving area and everything! So this time he's looking up at the train and I'm telling him that Mommy's going on the Caltrain and he keeps smiling slyly at me and saying "Donovan go on Caltrain?" I was worried he'd throw a fit in the end, but no he handled it great, waving at me through the window and watching with Zach while the train rode off.

An hour and a half later, I met Jen at the 22nd St station, and then we walked to a little cafe called Just For You where we shared the most amazing brunch I may have ever had.  The food was seriously yum, with amazing homefries and cornbread.

Afterwards we walked around a bit and then took a train to her nook of the woods, where I met some of her newer housemates.  And then, we shared a car with one of her housemates and drove to Sausalito to view a tour of The Plastiki, a large sailboat made out of recycled plastic & plastic bottles, set to sail from San Francisco to Australia.  The project is meant to call attention to the huge amounts of plastic and other trash that end up in the ocean, I think.  It was kinda neat, we looked at the boat for a little while and listened to some info about it.  Then we went to downtown Sausalito and had ice cream and walked around a bit before heading back to the house.  It was a GORGEOUS day so great for just hanging out.

That night one of her other housemates had signed herself up to help out with a fundraising event for Haiti, held as a gallery/shop.  It appeared that she had agreed to have her body painted... naked... by an artist friend.  And she had asked everyone at the house to be there for moral support.  Jen and I got some dinner (naan and curry... yum) then stopped by for a bit to see the fundraiser.  Her friend did great, and looked gorgeous, and the whole thing seemed to be going very well.

And then, Jen and I grabbed a taxi and headed off to our main event of the evening-- seeing a band called !!! (usually pronounced chk chk chk) in concert.  Jen's been their fan for a while, and she got free tickets to this show via work.  And this is where Jen's connections, both through her job and also by virtue of being the wonderful, loveable, and just plain awesome person that she is, become obvious.  And she'll claim this was sheer luck, but it seems anytime you hang out with her she's always bumping into people she knows, so the girl really is seriously connected.  But, we walk up to the door and by some mistake she's not on the list... no matter, she knows the doorman, he appears to adore her, and even gives us backstage passes.  Then we go to check our coats, and Jen's friends with the woman working there and so takes our stuff and stores it for free.  Then we go say hi to the guy who runs the place, and he sets us up to drink off his tab for the night.


We arrived as the band just before !!! is mid-set, so we station ourselves in a good spot, dance a little, people watch, chat.  And then !!! comes on stage, and I've never heard their music before but I spent the next hour dancing my butt off like I haven't danced in, literally, YEARS.  I was honestly a bit worried about feeling awkward, especially next to Jen as she goes out dancing all the time, but it really is just like riding a bike.  I felt like I'd been transported back in time to my pre-mommy days when I was young and hip and cool, lol.  And it was, needless to say, a complete and total blast.

The show ended early, around midnight, so then as we're leaving the club Jen runs into another acquaintance of hers and we agree to meet him and some friends at another bar, where we get some more dancing on.

And then, finally, to bed.  We woke the next morning to another gloriously sunny and beautiful day (San Francisco was definitely treating us kindly that weekend).  Zach was driving up with Donovan, and Andrew and Jakki were set to meet us, too.  A few texts and calls later we all met up at Washington Square and ended up at Cafe DeLucchi for breakfast.  The food was amazing, but after spending many visits around Cole Valley and Golden Gate Park, it was interesting to note how much less kid-friendly North Beach is (as in, the restaurant didn't have a single high chair or even a booster seat).  But, there was a fire truck parked along the street, which entertained D while we adults ate in shifts and took turns walking around outside with him.

Post-breakfast, we walked back to Andrew & Jakki's place, where D got to meet, for the first time ever, Frank the rat (thought if anyone asks, he's a "hamster").  D instantly took a liking, petting Frank and even feeding him little treats.  And, as surprised as I am to find myself saying this, if you ignore the tail Frank really is kinda cute. ; )

By now it was getting to be afternoon, so we stopped for some gelato at Zach's request, then drove home.  We did stop at this great little playscape Zach discovered that's off the Cañada College exit off 280, to let D run around and play a bit halfway through the drive.  Then it was home, dinner, bath, and bedtime.  The end of another fun-filled weekend.

(More pictures here)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

change in employment status

Big news! Zach's leaving his job!

And he doesn't really have another one set up quite yet.  

It is... slightly scary.  I'll give you that.

So this is the situation: Zach's been working for Company A for about 7 years now.  It's gone ok, though the past year or 2 have not been the best.  A few weeks ago they announced that Zach's department (about 80 people or so) would get spun off into Company B.  Details were sketchy, but basically Company B would be treated as a brand-new start-up type company, with no pay changes but some loss of benefits and total loss of seniority (he'd get treated as a brand-new employee rather that someone who's been there for 7+ years).  

For a while Zach thought the only options were to a) quit, and be completely income-less from day 1 and b) go with Company B and hope for the best.  Then yesterday he found out there was a hidden option c) where he could turn down the job at Company B and instead get effectively laid off from Company A with severance pay (and be eligible for unemployment after that). 

He's been super stressed out at work lately, so much so that he'd come home and complain about chest pains.  And his current job path, especially if going over to Company B, isn't the direction he wants to go.  Lots of stuff has been going down with Company A, and we've talked every situation up and down and inside and out, so that when he heard of this 3rd option he knew he could accept it right away.  Nothing is written in stone yet, but for now we're expecting that as part of getting laid off he'll get couple months notice and then another couple months' worth of severance pay after that (we're waiting to see if Congress will extend the unemployment benefits package so that we may also take advantage of getting a huge break on COBRA).  

I will admit, when he first came home yesterday and told me the news I think my blood pressure went up quite a bit for several hours.  It's scary to be a stay at home mom and find out that your husband will soon be out of a job.  But, Zach is quite happy with his decision, and I'm now feeling a lot more comfortable with it, too.  I don't like my husband working at a job that is likely to give him a heart attack-- it's just not worth it.  We're also in a good enough situation to make this type of decision.  Hopefully Zach will be able to find a job within four months (several others have left Company A in the past months, and all of them have found jobs already).  But, we've also been diligent about saving all these years and so have a decent nest egg (aka the "Perhaps One Day We Can Afford To Buy A Shack In This Ridiculously Expensive Paradise Land" Fund) that can be tapped into and would last us a while, if necessary.  He'll also start looking into applying to grad schools, so that's one fall-back if no jobs come through.  And since we don't have a mortgage and D isn't in school yet, we're flexible in case we end up needing to move for either a job or school opportunity.

So, for now at least, we remain optimistic.  Zach's already been emailing different contacts and getting responses back and possible leads, so we're hopeful that he'll be able to find something else sooner rather than later.   I suppose we'll just cross our fingers and see what happens.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...