Friday, December 31, 2010


Ethan has really enjoyed getting to spend time with his aunt Stefanie, whom he calls "Fie" for some reason. She has been a reliable babysitter for us, too, which is nice for those times when you just can't see bringing along a toddler on an excursion. Right now, she's still looking for work-- just like me-- so we tend to spend a lot more time together than usual, which means Ethan gets to see quite a bit of his auntie Fie. Like when they were playing with light bulbs together (ack!)...

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He loves that he gets to spend a lot of time with family because they live nearby. Every night before he goes to sleep, he runs through the litany of family names... Fie (aunt Stefanie), Weila (cousin Leila), Baba (grandma), Papa (grandpa), Wee-na (aunt Elena), Wose (aunt Adrienne Rose), Buela (Joel's mom & Ethan's grandma-- "abuela"), Dad (Joel), and even Apple (Abuela's dog). He'll ask, "Where Fie?" and I'll say "Where's Fie?" to repeat his question. He'll look at me and say "went bye-bye" and I'll tell him "Fie's at home" or "Leila's with her daddy," and on through the list. It's pretty sweet, actually... I love that little ritual.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Warning: Scenes of Cranial Peril Ahead

Ethan is a little monkey. He loves to climb, and explore, and lately has been trying out all these new ways to get in, around, through, and under furniture. When he starts planning his maneuvers, he gets this crafty expression on his face.
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I warned him not to do it...
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But he just had to try climbing off of the chair through the small side opening.
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How's that working out for ya, Ethan?
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Mom, of course, was compelled to document this all for posterity's sake. But I did (eventually) help him get out, without permanent damage to the noggin. We hope. ;)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Day!

We took Ethan up to see snow for the first time yesterday, because it was apparently going to be the only day this week that it wasn't actually snowing. Turns out, it was a beautiful day... clear blue skies, lots of soft snow on the ground, and plenty of families around enjoying the weather at Big Trees.

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Unfortunately, Ethan woke up after a very short nap and was a bit fussy and unhappy at first. He wanted to be held the whole time, until we got him into the toboggan-- I sat behind him, and Joel pulled us around for a bit. He calmed down pretty quickly, and even allowed us to put his hat on without a major fight. He tore off his mittens and dropped them in the snow until they finally became too wet for him to wear, so he had to go bare-hands the rest of the day. I took off my gloves too, so that I could kind of monitor his skin temperature every time I held his hands-- which was all the time.

But guess what? He ended up loving it. He wanted so badly to get out and play with all of the bigger kids, but I just couldn't let him dig into the snow too much with his hands uncovered. He did end up helping a nice lady work on her snowman, but finally got too cold and started getting upset again. He had a pretty awesome set of snow pants/overalls on, and a really thick winter jacket over that, so most of the time he was doing really well. Except when we got back to the car...

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He just has a hard time leaving his warm stuff on, including hats and socks; this kid is like part polar bear, or something. All in all, we had fun. Can't wait to take him again, this time with the proper gear on. If he'll leave it on, that is!

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Monday, December 27, 2010


I've always been a daydreamer. Ever since I can remember, I've wandered away in my mind to other places, other times, other lives that were different or exciting or just better, by virtue of not being the one I was living. I'm not quite sure if that propensity for fantasy helped or hindered my attempts to live a real and genuine life, but it's always been a defining characteristic of mine.

For example, I always had this dream image of what my married life would be like. It would involve nights playing games with the kids, laughing at whatever silly thing we did to crack each other up... it would feature special moments where I watched my husband give my child a bath, or read them a bedtime story, or talk seriously together about bugs, moments that would make my heart ache with tenderness... it would be sprinkled liberally with times where my husband would set up a special evening together or surprise me with breakfast, or just reach across the couch and gently touch my arm while we watched the latest show together.


I don't know how much my daydreaming has informed the way I perceive my real life marriage and family, but I don't think it's helping me to feel contentment. Instead, I tend to have a vague feeling of dissatisfaction about how things are working out, as if there is something missing from the whole equation. It's like when you read a novel, and then watch the movie adaptation, and you feel a sense of loss because the film just can't capture the depth and breadth of a book-- you can't get a true picture of the characters' thoughts and feelings when an image has to replace paragraphs and possibly pages' worth of description. So, I'm left with a nagging sense of less-than, which constantly makes me question myself; am I impossible to please, or is my life really missing the mark in some way? And if the latter, what can I do to make my life *now* become the life I truly want? How do I make my daydream of married life a reality?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Tonight we will celebrate Christmas with my parents and sisters, as well as my niece Leila. So far, I think the plan is to get there around 4 p.m. or so, and then have dinner while watching White Christmas. Dinner is going to be prime rib, roasted potatoes, savory bread pudding with mushrooms and parmesan, salad, and apple pie. Sounds simple, soothing, and perfect. :)

In honor of the day, here's a picture of one of Jim Shore's Santa figurines... I love his nativity sets, too, so maybe someday we'll add some of his stuff to our Christmas decorations. One day...


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Training: Postponed

We decided to put off the potty training until a couple of things happen first:
1) Ethan consistently sleeps through the night in his bed
2) He can pull his pants up and down by himself
3) Christmas is over with, and possibly New Year's Eve.

We just weren't ready, I guess. Oh well, I'll be sure to keep you posted when we really do begin!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Potty Training: The Beginning

This week we will begin potty training for Ethan. And by we, I mean me, of course. My lovely parents and family bought us the Potty Scotty toilet training system, the same one featured on Dr.Phil. It claims to help you potty train your child in as little as one day to two weeks, with follow-up/maintenance lasting for awhile after that. They recognize that kids will continue to have night-time accidents for awhile, as only 66% of 2-year-olds are completely dry throughout the night, but they do state that your child should be able to be mostly dry all day long with their system.

I'm trying to start the potty training now, while I'm still off work and at home with Ethan, so that he can mostly have a grasp on it when I finally do start work and he has to be in daycare. I think it would just be a lot easier if we took care of the bulk of the training now, while I can be there working with him for several hours out of each day. I know it's going to be full of challenges and I'll have to really exercise my patience and understanding, but I'm actually looking forward to it. It's kind of exciting to think that he's going to be learning yet another key to self-reliance. My baby really *is* growing up!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Will You Follow?

It's a very disheartening moment that happens every so often in a person's life; some, more than others. It's a difficult moment of truth type of event, something that makes you re-think what you previously believed, or damages your faith in what you still want to hold true. It happens to leaders and to people who want to be leaders; it happens to lovers and people who want to be loved; it happens to lonely people, hopeful people, and parents all of the time; and it never fails to disappoint and discourage, although sometimes parents can actually feel a secret gem of pride that their child has reached a new developmental stage.

It's just so sad to begin walking away, and realize that nobody is coming after you. No one is running behind you to say "No, please come back!" Nobody is following in your path and saying "Teach me, I want to be like you!" There is no hand reaching out across the void to touch yours, no footsteps echoing yours down the hallway, nobody to say "You will not be able to leave me in the distance or go off alone, because I will always be with you."

I imagine it's this feeling that leads people to God, or to another spiritual being. It seems they are the only proof against my statements above. Except that they aren't so much following us, as always there beside us... it's something to look into, anyway. It's been a long time since I felt that way about something.

Tori amos china
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ethan is 2 years old!

My little boy turned two years old yesterday. In honor of his birthday, I decided to cut his hair-- finally! It was so long that every time we saw him, we felt compelled to brush his hair out of his eyes. It was growing over his ears and across his collar, and was just looking so messy all the time that it was starting to bother me. So, we spent the weekend before looking like this:

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And it just drove me crazy. So, last night I got out the hair clipper, sat him in his high chair to keep him still, and then spent several minutes getting him comfortable with the sound of the buzzing clippers. It only took a little while before he was giggling and holding his body fairly stable, so I went for it. After about ten minutes, we took this picture:

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Isn't my boy gorgeous? Happy Birthday, Ethan!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Train Ride

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We took Ethan to go ride a Christmas train, and he was absolutely thrilled. We tried first to go see Santa, but the line was ridiculous so we just waved as we left the line after waiting fifteen minutes. We walked right over to the train, and Ethan and Joel were able to get on the very next ride.

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He loved it! The pictures were a little tough because (obviously) they were moving the whole time...

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But you can tell, even through the blurriness, that he was thrilled.

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And I think his daddy had a pretty good time, too. Or should I say, "Choo, choo!"

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This past weekend, we overindulged. And then, as usual when you go overboard, we said and did things that we shouldn't have-- things we didn't even quite remember the next day, but that happened nonetheless. The worst part is that it ended up hurting someone I care about, and that is a major problem. It has convinced me that I'm relying way too much on certain beverages right now to help me ignore or avoid major stress in my life-- things like, oh, I don't know, the complete lack of any income whatsoever and the inability to pay rent without borrowing (hopefully) a significant amount from someone else.

In a way, it seems too easy to use imbibing too much or being extremely stressed or even being over-tired as the reason why you acted badly... it really can be true, but it still sounds like just an excuse. The thing is, I've acted like a jerk many many times in my life without the option of blaming it on alcohol or exhaustion or whatever else could have triggered an explosion. Instead, I only had to look at my temper and my inability to control it, and then see myself as an angry or aggressive or, at the very least, impulsive person. I would say and do things, even to people that I cared deeply about, that I would later regret and feel terrible about. The difference is that this time, both of us really were almost completely out of it, and hardly remember what happened. Being told by someone else what you did or said makes things somehow even worse, because it forces you to realize that you allowed things to get so out of control that you couldn't even control your own words or actions. Very disheartening realization.


The other problem is that it wasn't just me who was involved. So now we have two people acting like jerks and flipping out, which just exacerbates the whole situation. It's best to just stay far away from people who have overindulged, because they are like swimmers flailing at their rescuers-- they can be almost more of a danger to the helper than to themselves. If there was any way to erase everything, we would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, there isn't. And so all we can do now is wait, and hope for forgiveness... eventually.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Independent Sleeping

Ethan now has a new habit for going to bed. After we've finished the whole toothbrush routine, and have put the trucks in their sleeping spot, and changed into night-time diapers and finally are ready for bed, he climbs into his crib and starts to arrange his teddy bears, blankets and pillows to his satisfaction. I'll ask him if he wants me to sing him a song, and he'll usually say "mm-HMMM" and lay his head down on his pelo-pelo (the red embroidered one). By the time I'm done singing that one song, he's already saying "bye bye mom" or "night-night." The first few times he did that, I was kind of shocked. My baby, asking me to leave? What the heck is going on here?! But then I realized what was going on: He wanted me to go so that he could get out of bed, wander around his room, and play a little bit before going to sleep. Sometimes he even laid his head on his pillow and faked a few snores before looking up at me with these wide-open eyes and saying "night night, mom." Yeah, sure, kid; you're so sleepy right now. Fine, I'll leave so you can get on with whatever you're planning.

It's sweet, that he wants to get himself to sleep on his own... but also a bit sad for me to think that this is just one small sign that he is growing up and becoming self-sufficient. Yes, we have a long way to go, but this is just the beginning of the long, slow, sometimes painful process of him pulling away from me and becoming Ethan. Oh, the joys and sorrows of motherhood. Wasn't it just a minute ago that things were like this?

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Job: Denied.

So I finally got the dreaded email from the County Office of Education. After an interview, the first contact you want is in the form of a telephone call-- the kind where they offer you the position. The last thing you want is written communication, because it means that the job search is over... for you, at least. They chose another person, someone who was either more qualified or who they thought would be less likely to leave for a better position as soon as they got the chance. I guess we'll never really know why this one didn't work out. But what we do know is this: I'm in serious employment free-fall right now and have no idea how we're paying rent in three weeks.

Ornamentally Speaking

I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the sentiments, the focus on others, the weather, the smells of cinnamon and pine and cider... and I especially love ornaments. I have a few that are my current favorites. For instance, flying Santa.

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I originally bought him as my offering for an ornament exchange at a work holiday party. I loved him so much that, when it came to be my turn to take someone else's gift or grab a new one, I took Santa back. I think he enjoyed coming back home.

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Ethan's favorite ornament is the little lamb that I found at a church yard sale one year. He loves it because it reminds him of Timmy the lamb, from Timmy Time-- his current favorite cartoon in the universe. It's actually pretty awesome, and is filmed in stop-motion just like Wallace & Gromit. I love it too, if you can't tell. Every time he wants to watch TV now, he says "Baaa!" just like Timmy. Too bad the only way you can get one of their stuffed dolls is to have it shipped from England for an exorbitant price. Bummer!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Boy

Ethan has an expression that just tugs at my heartstrings, every time... it's sort of a sideways shrug, a bit bashful and a bit playful, and lately he's been doing it when he wants be sure that we are following behind him. I love it.

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The other day we actually had a bout of warm-ish weather, so Ethan wanted to be outside with his soccer ball. Maybe one of these days we'll be able to enroll him in soccer classes like his big cousin Preston!

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In the meantime, we'll have to content ourselves with play-dates, visiting family, and fun time at home with mom and dad. That sounds perfect, right, Ethan? Uh, right?

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Uh-oh. Looks like it's time to kick the job hunt into high gear and get this kid into daycare!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Black Friday Parking Lot Gift

Stefanie went out on that craziest of crazy holiday shopping sprees, Black Friday. She suffered through cold and darkness and people smoking in line around her, all while at the same time battling a pretty nasty case of bronchitis. Why, you ask? To get a TV that was never gotten. Sad news, and pretty disappointing considering how long she spent out there and how frustrating it was to shop with a bunch of rabid cuckoo nut-jobs. BUT, there was a silver lining to that cloudy morning. While walking back to her car, she noticed something under a cart. Something that had been left far, far behind by someone else on a mad rush to get to the next store, the next deal, the next best thing. It was a gift from the Black Friday spirit of Christmas Yet to Come...

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And it only had one problem: A torn zipper. No worries! She adopted it on the spot and brought it back for her nephew. He thought it through and decided to make it his throne.

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And lo, it was good.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Job Hunt: Desperation Version

So, starting Monday I'm going into full-desperation mode on my job hunt. I'm calling all of the places where I've completed interviews and checking the status of the hiring process. At least then I'll know whether or not to keep those options open. Then, I'm calling a few temp agencies and setting up appointments at the first one that's available. I did contact some last week, but it was via an email link on their websites and I haven't heard back yet. I also plan on going in to take my typing test so that I can have a current certificate stating my typing speed. If I end up doing reception or data entry, so be it. I have one more application packet that I need to turn in this week, for a Human Resources Technician at the local community college. Unfortunately, that job doesn't even close until the 15th, so I obviously won't be hearing back from them in time to pay January rent. Which is my main goal right now: Paying rent in January. Gotta do whatever it takes to keep my family in this house. I refuse to be homeless!!

Of course, I'm not the only one in Modesto looking for a job- we have a 16.2% unemployment rate here, and it's not looking to improve any time soon.
County's jobless rate remains flat, but likely to rise - Business -

Friday, December 3, 2010

Impending Doom

I haven't heard back from the jobs at the City or the County yet, and right now I'm just trying to stop the tidal wave of sheer, panicked terror that is threatening to wash over me.

Today I got my last full check from unemployment, which allowed me to pay for rent with nothing left over for any December bills. Next week, I will get my last check- PERIOD- which will be approximately $450. Here's a brief list of the bills I have to pay in December:
- $85: City of Modesto (garbage & water)
- $48: PG&E (gas)
- $40: AT&T (internet)
- $180: MID (electricity)
- $8: Kaiser (Ethan's health ins)
- $62: Fed Tax Debt Pay-off (due the 25th)
- $30: State Tax Debt Pay-off (automatic on the 15th)
- $39: Melanie's cell phone
- $55: Joel's cell phone
- $54: Care Credit (dental bill)

Just our utilities add up to $353, and that's if my estimates above are accurate. The rest of those bills really do have to be paid, and they add up to an additional $248, and that's not even including the car insurance bill-- we overpaid a couple of times so don't owe anything in December, but it'll be $150-180 in January. That means that, in addition to $900 in rent, we have about $760 in other bills due every month, and that doesn't even begin to count groceries, diapers, or household necessities.

I seriously have no idea what in the world we are going to do. It feels like the world is ending.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

(D) E.B.T.

So, I'm looking into the "food stamps" issue, and finding out that it's very different than I thought it was. First of all, they're not called food stamps any more; the money is instead transferred monthly onto "EBT" (Electronic Balance Transfer) cards that look just like a debit/credit card.

EBT card

I suppose they chose that form to reduce the shame factor for those people who rely on food aid to get through the month. Secondly, the range of items you can buy is pretty broad. Check it out:

What you can buy with food stamps [7 C.F.R. § 271.2]
--- Any food for human consumption except hot food (but remember, there is also an exception for approved restaurant meals programs).
--- Seeds and plants to grow food for yourself or your family.

What you cannot buy [7 C.F.R. § 271.2]
--- Pet food.
--- Alcohol.
--- Non-food items such as soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, cigarettes, etc.
--- Vitamins and medicines.
--- Any hot food, including hot food intended for immediate consumption (with the exception of restaurant meals programs).

Interesting, right? I actually found out that Papa Murphy's Take & Bake Pizza accepts EBT cards. Considering that it's around $6-8 per pizza, and that is a meal that feeds my family, I think it's not a bad deal. Not for regular use, of course, but pretty neat. Anyway, hopefully it doesn't come down to that. But if it does, I'll know how to use it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Time Out

It has begun: The days of the dreaded (but often effective) Time Out. So far, our discipline has been fairly minimal, and limited primarily to removing items that he wants or removing him from the scene of potential disaster. I've been reading some toddler discipline books and online advice columns, though, and decided to give Time Outs a try. I know there are probably thousands of parents out there who swear by it, but I also know that many of us resort to Time Outs for all of our disciplinary needs, and it gets way over-used. I didn't want to be one of those "You want a Time Out? Do ya? Huh?" types, so I avoided it as long as possible.

Now that there is a distinct possibility that I might be getting a new job and putting Ethan into a child care facility, I need to help him get up to speed with his social skills. And one of the most important skills is learning how to navigate the daycare setting, with all of its rules and special procedures to help keep order amidst the potential chaos. Being able to control your own impulsiveness is something that everyone can benefit from knowing, and Ethan could certainly use the help in that arena. Yesterday we had two Time Outs, and he did so well during each one. He sat still in his Time Out spot against the wall in the main corridor, and sat there the whole two minutes. Both times! Today, when he got his first Time Out, he started saying "I sorry, mom" about 30 seconds in. What a doll! And then he helped clean up the food he dumped out earlier.

Hmm... maybe this Time Out thing *is* all it's cracked up to be.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The latest income updates are as follows: (1) We may finally be on the last legs of our unemployment benefits, and (2) I have an interview this Wednesday with the County Office of Education. Boo and yay, all in the same breath! If this is indeed the end of my unemployment checks, and I *don't* end up getting an offer of employment this week, then I have approximately $1200 remaining in benefits. That means I have one more month of rent paid for (December) and then-- well, let's not think about it too much. If I don't get offered a job, then I plan on enrolling at a temp agency and taking whatever comes along. We'd apply for food stamp benefits and whatever else we qualify for, and hope we can make it. Joel would have to watch Ethan during the day, because we wouldn't be able to afford daycare, and I would have to make sure to be back by the time Joel has to leave for his Heald classes (4:45). If I had to do a temp job that ended at 5:00, Joel could always drop Ethan off with my parents until I can come pick him up. I don't see how we'd make enough to pay rent on that plan, but I also don't see any other options. We have to try, right?


The other possible solution, of course, is that my interview tomorrow goes swimmingly, and I get offered a position with the County Office of Education. The job is as a Child Care Specialist, and it basically involves outreach and enrollment for child care seekers, training and support for providers, workshops and technical assistance, etc. I know I can do it, and it's very similar to what I was doing for seven years at my last job, so I'm planning on knocking their socks off at the interview. I need this job; not only for monetary purposes, but for personal ones as well. I really think that having a job would benefit my entire family. Ethan needs to be in daycare around other kids his age, and he is so ready and eager to socialize that I feel like being at home with me is not the ideal place for him. My relationship would improve, even though-- or maybe because-- we'd see each other less, in that I'd feel more secure and wouldn't have quite as much stress worrying about whether or not we'll make it through the next month. And I know that my soul is craving interaction with other women and men in the workplace and community; it has been far too long to go without that kind of connection, at least for me.

Obviously, I'm hoping for the second outcome. But whatever happens, our family will survive.

Monday, November 29, 2010


So, Ethan passed the first test: He slept through the night in his modified crib! Sure, he had some rough moments trying to just fall asleep, but he eventually calmed himself down-- without me in the room, mind you-- and spent the rest of the night sleeping like a... like a... well, sleeping soundly in his crib. In the morning, I awoke to the usual "Mom? Mom?" calls, but this time they were right outside my door. I opened it to see my little boy standing there with his pillow, looking refreshed and awake and happy as a clam. Success!

Monday night, too, he acted a little hyper when I first put him in the crib-bed, which worried me a little about his ability to fall asleep. After about ten minutes of saying "It's time to sleep" and preventing him from climbing out of the crib, I realized I was fighting a losing battle. I didn't want every night to be a struggle and to be one where I had to stand guard at the crib doors, as it were, because the minute I leave the room he can climb out anyway. It's better to let him get comfortable with going to sleep on his own, instead of having to be a jailer or soothing him for as long as it takes to fall asleep. I said goodnight and walked out, expecting him to follow at any moment, but he didn't. I heard him climb out of the crib and walk around the room a little, but then I heard him climb right back in, and presto! Asleep in minutes. How awesome is that?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bed Time

We lowered one side of Ethan's crib recently, and now he is starting to climb in and out on his own. This is a somewhat scary development, in terms of how it may affect our ability-- and his!-- to sleep through a whole night ever again. Or for a long time, at least.

So far, nap time today was a bit difficult at first. He couldn't stay in his room inside the crib or even on his toddler bed for more than five minutes. After about half an hour of trying to keep him in there, we just let him come out and join us on the couch, where we were watching the version of "A Christmas Carol" starring Jim Carrey. He lasted about 20 minutes before conking out in between us, so we transferred him to the crib, where he spent the next couple of hours in blissful sleep. Tonight, he got a very late start on bedtime, so you'd think he'd be even more ready to pass out, but no. The opposite, in fact, was true. He kept playing and trying to get me to interact with him in the crib, so after about twenty minutes of that I decided to just kiss him goodnight and shut the door. It has been about ten minutes now, and he hasn't escaped. Guess I should go check on him and see how he's doing... but maybe I'll give it a few more minutes first. We'll see tomorrow how he did through the night!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Things I'm thankful for...
My creative, optimistic, dream-chasing, supportive husband Joel
My kind, energetic, healthy, loving, curious child Ethan
My parents and sisters living nearby, providing all types of support when it's needed (emotional, motivational, financial, child care, and so much more!)
My country, for being a place where we can survive on unemployment and not much more
My home, for being a retreat and also for being an open door to friends
My health, my brain, and my dreams of a better future-- the hope keeps me going when things seem dark
My dear friends, for their constant outpouring of love and companionship, and their occasional kicks in the rear that get me jump-started again and back on the path
And, of course, food, make-up, pretty dresses, comedy, rain, sunny beaches, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vegetables Need Love, Too


Okay, so apparently I'm the last person to actually hear of and buy the "Sneaky Chef" book by Missy Chase Lapine. I've always been a little bit slow catching on to the latest trends. I was carrying a Walkman around into the 21st century, if you can believe it; I think I was actually requested to put it to sleep in about 2003. So I'm definitely not a trend-setter, and it takes me some time to figure out that new doesn't always mean complicated or pretentious. But I'm glad I finally jumped on the bandwagon with Missy's approach to hiding healthy foods in our meals, because WOW-- it's awesome!

Her plan involves bringing healthy fruits and vegetables into our regular meals in such a way that we don't necessarily notice they're present, not only to deal with picky eaters, but also so that we don't lose the flavor of the main dish that we're "sneaking" food into; instead, it is enhanced, both nutritionally and taste-wise. I can't wait to try them out. I've already started by making "Orange Puree" from carrots and yams, and freezing it in 1/4 cup portions. She uses that puree in recipes like Guerrilla Grilled Cheese, Maxed Out Meatloaf, and Fortified French Toast. I think her recipes sound fantastic, and I'm actually excited about working more fruit and veggies into our meals. Look for more recipe reviews on the way!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cribbin' It

I think Ethan might be ready to move from his crib to the little toddler bed that's set up in his room. In preparation for the move, we've sort of removed the long side of his crib that faces out into the room-- the side that normally lifts up and down. It's sort of like this...

... except that Joel removed that bottom metal bracket so that the entire "movable" side now rests on the ground. This leaves about a foot or so of slats above the mattress level to keep Ethan from rolling out of the crib, but also allows him to start getting him accustomed to a new sleep situation. Since we just started him in the modified crib this week, I'm going to let him get used to it for a few more days before springing any more changes on him. But maybe, just maybe, he can start taking naps in his toddler bed next week. And guess what else? We've already started the beginning, initial, preparatory, baby steps in potty training. So many changes, coming at us so quickly!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Did you ever have one of those conversations that starts off with you in the position of righteous indignation about someone else's misdeeds, and ends with you sitting quietly, trying to damp down your emotions while hearing about your tendencies to over-react and have "little nuclear explosions" of anger?


Yeah, me neither.

But it seems like a particularly unpleasant way to end your Sunday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bath Blast

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Ethan loves water. Water of any kind, really; in a cup, in a hose, in a sink, it doesn't matter. He wants it, and he wants it yesterday.
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He especially loves taking baths and showers, and would prefer to stay in there for hours if he could. Unfortunately, he also has two tendencies that limit his bath time: a tendency towards patches of eczema on his legs, and a tendency to splash and/or pour water all over the bathroom floor. He just wants to share the water with everyone, I guess!
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Every couple of baths or so, we like to use colored bath fizzers or food coloring to add a little splash to his water adventure. So don't worry, that yellow water is by design, not by accident. And his expression is because he likes to splash, but doesn't like water in his eyes. His solution? Splash, scream, and squish your eyes shut as tightly as possible, and not necessarily in that order.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ethan's Loveys

As a new mom, I started receiving promotional and informational emails about the different stages in my child's life, from infancy through toddler-hood-- and maybe beyond. Some are from major players like Gerber, and others are from various websites I joined to get more insight into pregnancy and parenting: What To Expect, BabyCenter, and so on. I remember getting an email at one point which discussed "lovey" toys or blankets that a child will attach to and use for comfort and self-soothing. At the time, Ethan was just going to bed on his own, no problem. I was putting a floppy, curly-"haired" stuffed dog that my mom bought in the crib with him, but he didn't seem to be too interested for quite awhile. I also started giving him the same blanket-- a pale blue one made especially for him by our friend Vy-- when he was getting ready for bed, or when he was feeling especially needy. Bingo! We found his first lovey.
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Unfortunately for blanket, which he calls "ken-ken," Ethan is a very devoted lovey-lover, and has just about loved it to death just one month shy of his second birthday. He likes to wind his fingers in and around the little loops of the blanket, and has pulled out threads all over and opened up a pretty extensive hole right in the center. I have fears for ken-ken's life expectancy, at the rate this kid goes. Just a couple of months ago, Ethan discovered a small, embroidered, square cushion that looks vaguely Moroccan or Indian and has bits of shiny mirrors entwined with the colored thread. Instant love affair, and now he can't go to bed-- or get up in the morning, sometimes-- without his "pelo-pelo" in his arms. It's sort of like this one, but more of a reddish-orange color...

It, too, is starting to undergo the same treatment as ken-ken, and I'm beginning to see the beautiful embroidery fall victim to his twining and winding little fingers. But at least it is smallish. His latest lovey is almost too big to even be considered a lovey. I should probably be sent to bad-mom rehab for even letting him bring it into his crib, but there you have it-- I'm a pushover. He has two large stuffed bears in his room right now. One is a HUGE brown bear with a plaid bowtie, and he is called either Angus or Big Bear, depending on the day. The other bear is smaller, but definitely not small, and resembles one of those Coke polar bears, except sans coke bottle... He calls it, of course, "ber."

His bedtime routine used to be coming into the room, sitting with mom and having his bottle of milk, falling asleep while drinking, and then going to sleep in his crib. Now, we finish our last liquids at least half an hour before bed, brush our teeth, and then go to the room to do one last diaper change before sitting together and singing a song or two. The minute we enter the room for bedtime, he starts asking for his loveys: "Ber? Ber? Pelo-pelo? Ken-ken?" And that will pretty much continue until all three are sitting on my lap along with Ethan, who clutches at them while I sing/hum our lullaby songs. After a few minutes, I tell him it's time to go to sleep, he grabs all three loveys, and I put him in his crib. (Soon to come: The Toddler Bed.) I just hope he doesn't suddenly develop a deep attachment to anything else, because this lap doesn't have any more room on it for additional passengers!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Party Success

It was so great having my wonderful female friends and family over tonight... It was like a trifecta of girl-party awesomeness: delicious food, positive energy, and genuine friendship. Couldn't have asked for more.

Well, maybe a little more time together to chat and introduce people with a little more depth, but that's it!

PS-- The recipes were a major hit. All of 'em! Guess that means they're going in the meal rotation from now on. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Taste Test

So, I've decided on the recipes I'll be trying out tomorrow with friends and family who come to my Tupperware and Tasting Party.

They are:
- Cheesy Crab Tarts
- Sweet Potato Empanadas
- Endive Boats with Cauliflower & Prosciutto
- Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms
- Turkey Roulade with Sausage-Cranberry Stuffing
- Mini Apple Pies & Gingersnaps

To drink, we'll have the following:
- Mulled Cider (with Spiced Rum as a mixer for the bold at heart!)
- Sparkling Apple-Cranberry Cider
- Moscato wine
- and water, of course

Plus a few kid-friendly things, to make sure the two boys who'll be there actually eat. Can't wait!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Plans

Our family will be taking the easy route this year and ordering a yummy, pre-cooked feast from Raley's for Thanksgiving. We're also going to buck tradition and hold our festivities on Saturday of that week instead of Thursday, because my dad works that Thursday and Friday. It's actually kind of nice, because it'll allow us to go spend time with our friend Julie for her family's Thanksgiving day, and even go visit with Joel's family as well. Usually we end up having to quadruple-book several visits on one day, which is way too much organizing for my tastes. This will be much, much easier, both on the stress level and on the gas costs.

Although, one might think that I would miss making the food for Thanksgiving, because I actually do love to try out both new and well-loved recipes, host parties, and serve gorgeous food to people. The down side is that we tend to have our family gatherings at someone else's house, while I'm still the one cooking, so it works out that I end up cooking most of the food, hauling it over to my parents' house, and usually am somehow in charge of organizing the day, too-- finding out who is bringing what, where the dishes are, how we'll set up, etc. It gets a little overwhelming sometimes, so this year Joel asked me to politely decline the honor. Which I did, shockingly!

I won't miss cooking, though, because I get to prepare all sorts of tasty little tidbits for my Tupperware party slash Thanksgiving Tasting party this Wednesday. I'll figure out my final menu today and post it up tomorrow. I can't wait to try these recipes out, and spend time with some girlfriends! The only down side is that Joel will be starting school this week and will be gone four nights a week from 5-11. But think of the silver lining: In just 18 months, he'll be done!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Uncle Scott

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Ethan absolutely adores his Uncle Scott. Scott is one of Joel's oldest friends, and in a shocking display of coincidence and good form, also has the same birthday as me- November 24th. Must be something about that particular date that grabbed Joel's attention... or just really good luck, on his part of course.

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Anyway, every time Scott comes over, Ethan goes wild over him. He isn't a shy or withdrawn child, by any means, but he took especially well to Scott, right from Day 1. He is always trying to sit near him, play with him, tell him something urgent in his strange toddler-babble, and just be good buddies. I'm glad Scott lives closer to us right now, because it's nice for Ethan to have another male figure in his life that he can look up to, spend time with, and learn from. Now I've just got to figure out how to keep Uncle Scott around for the next twenty years or so...

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Thursday, November 11, 2010


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My boy... I've been feeling a bit introspective and down lately, so I thought I'd spend a few moments just gazing at my darling Ethan and remembering how good life can be.

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And it can be amazing, I know; it's just hard to keep that truth in mind when you feel overwhelmed by all of the things that leave you cold, tired, and aching at the end of the day. Or worse, at the start of the day, even before the enormity of what's ahead has truly begun to sink in. I'm not quite there right now, but I've been in that place before, and it's not pretty. Instead of going there again, I'm focusing on the many things in my life that are awesome and pleasant and satisfying and bring me happiness. Hopefully, it will make a difference in my attitude and my outlook on a lot of things. And how can I be sad, when I have this beautiful face to look at every day?

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wanted: Friends


I always thought I'd have more friends, at this stage in my life. I thought I'd be able to host dinner parties, or cocktail parties, or just hang out with various female pals, male buddies, couples, families, and so on... you know, the way friends do. Instead, my friends seem to be living too far away for regular contact, and I'm limited to Facebook, email, or cell phones for any sort of connection. I feel lonely all the time for genuine friendship, and I don't know what to do to change that. Whenever I meet people around town, it seems like they are already locked in to their own little cliques and their set of friends and family, and it's just too much work to fit another person into their lives. They seem great, but their lives are already booked. Mine, on the other hand, seems to have a permanent "Vacancy" sign blinking above it, like those old motels along an empty stretch of highway.


Will it ever have a "No" lit up in front of it?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back to My Future

Never in a million years did I picture my life turning out the way it has. When I did imagine some hazy future, it varied between a couple of main themes. In the first type of dream, I would be living in a big city like New York or SF, running my own business (never sure what type) and walking to wherever I needed to go, just the quintessential independent woman with lots of stuff going on in her life-- travel, dinner parties, shopping with friends, coffee houses (or in my case, hot chocolate), and so on. For some reason, I always saw myself living in a sort of brownstone-style place, and would inevitably see myself walking down a tree-lined street, wearing heels and an awesome pea-coat, striding off toward whatever awesomeness awaited me. I never really pictured myself with a partner or spouse; it was just me, out pursuing my dreams and goals and being able to take advantage of all that the big city has to offer.

The other type of "future" dream saw me living a glammed up version of the life I have now-- in that scenario, I'm a younger mom, I actually have money (ha!), and I have two or three kids. It varies a little, but typically it focuses on these movie-style vignettes with me + babies, me + hubby + babies, or hubby + kids. I had a vague picture of an ideal husband who was a full partner, someone who would sing to the babies and teach them how to ride bikes and do funny voices during bath time, and all of that while still holding hands with me and surprising me with romantic cards or a spicy date of dancing and exploring the nightlife...

Those dreams, of course, were what floated around in my young mind while I tried to decide who I was going to be when I grew up. I never realized just how rare and magical it would be to achieve either one of them, or maybe I would have toned them down a bit to a more manageable size. Then again... are dreams supposed to be attainable, or something that keeps us reaching and striving, even when we know we may never reach the goal?

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Job update

So, I finally heard back from the City about the job I applied for in September of last year, tested for in October of last year, placed "Rank 1" for in November of last year, and then... eventually, interviewed for on October 11th of this year. After not hearing back from them for two half weeks after the interview, I called and left a message inquiring about the status of the position and the recruitment process. I actually searched up an appropriate "script" for calling back after an interview, when you haven't heard anything (positive or negative) and are curious about whether or not you're still in the running for the job. I found a few great suggestions at this article by Carole Martin. I adjusted it for my particular situation and felt much more comfortable calling in about the job.

Unfortunately, I got switched to two different people before being connected to someone's voice mail, at which point I left a message and never heard anything back. I decided to send an email inquiry to the person who had originally emailed me about whether or not I was still interested in interviewing for the position earlier this fall, and then sat back and waited. By which I mean, of course, that I kept looking for jobs and sending out applications elsewhere. Friday morning I finally got a response; apparently, the interview process had been temporarily delayed, but should be moving forward again shortly. Also, the person stated that no formal selection had been made yet-- woo-hoo! That's good news, in my book. So, I guess it's still "game on" at this point. Keep your fingers crossed, for as long as you can!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't Go, Daddy

Joel was gone for three days last week at a job in Sacramento. Ethan seemed to miss him, but at the same time didn't say much beyond calling for him a few times in the morning. On the third night, when Joel came home, Ethan ignored him for a few minutes and then crawled into his lap and didn't want to leave. Even when it was time for helping Ethan go to bed, which is usually my job, he wanted his daddy to carry him into the room and stay there. But Joel had to still unload his car, so he kissed Ethan goodnight and walked out of the room. The minute he disappeared from view, Ethan started crying and called out "Dad, don't go!" It was so sweet, and sad, and tender...

Joel's going back to Sacramento again next week for another three days; I wonder if it will get easier, or tougher, for Ethan to see him leave. For me, it's a combination of both. It's easier somehow to know that I'm the only one here and that I'm responsible for the house and Ethan by myself, rather than having Joel here the whole time but *still* be the one doing all of the cleaning, meals, laundry, and childcare. I guess that means I don't make a very good housewife! ;)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


We have hit a critical juncture in two areas of Ethan's development: speaking and potty training. First of all, his vocabulary and communication skills have been expanding beyond belief these past few weeks. He's begun putting words together and making actual sentences, which is so amazing when I really start to think about it... my son is going to be able to carry on conversations soon, in English even! Not in baby sign language or grunts or cries, but in real words! It's pretty humbling to consider that I've got the responsibility to make sure he learns how to communicate his needs, wants, feelings, dreams, and thoughts in a way that lifts himself and others up instead of bringing them down. What a huge task, for both of us...

Anyway, the accomplishments in potty training are that Ethan is becoming more and more aware of dirty and wet diapers. He no longer ignores them until we notice the aroma or the heaviness of the diaper and have to struggle him into a clean one; no, now he realizes how yucky it is to have that against his skin. This morning, he came up to me and said "Mama, poo poo" while pointing at his diaper area. I said "Do you have a poo poo diaper? Do you want to change your diaper?" And he said "Okay," and began trotting back towards his bedroom. I followed him in and he practically climbed up my arms and onto the changing table; it's the first time *that* has happened, for sure! All in all, it was a pretty neat moment for both of us. I think he's ready for actual potty training!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

A friend of mine recently sent me an email with a link to the coolest Halloween card ever, and I just have to share. It was so well done that it needs to be appreciated by more people!

This year, our Halloween looks like it's going to be a lot more fun than usual, which is nice because these are tough times and we need a break every so often. Last year we had fun taking Ethan to the Halloween parade at the Farmer's Market and then having "grown-up" time that night-- we went to a Halloween house party and then headed downtown for some dancing at Bacchus. This year, we're going to take Ethan down to the Farmer's Market parade only if it isn't raining (boo!) and then he'll spend Saturday night with my sister and niece over at Grandma's house. Because of their kindness (many thanks!), Joel & I will be able to head out to San Francisco to a Halloween party; it'll be the first time we've been in the City for Halloween. I am so looking forward to it! Not only will it be grown-up time, but it will be costume dress up and dancing and San Francisco-- my three favorite things ever-- all rolled up into one.

On Sunday, we're going to have my niece Leila and a couple of her friends over for a low-key Halloween party. They'll carve pumpkins, toast pumpkin seeds, eat gross-looking food like barbecued worms (slivered hot dogs) and gremlins (chocolate + Fiber One = deliciousness), then get all costumed up and go trick-or-treating.

Our costumes this year are the following: Joel is going as the clown doctor from Childrens Hospital...

(he has the same face make-up as John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer... I guess laughter isn't always the best medicine!)

Ethan is going to be a zombie Diego...


And I'm going to do my version of a scary nurse, along the lines of this... kinda.

Anyway, I can't wait! Halloween ROCKS!